Humble light bulb helps Japan fill nuclear gap New Zealand Herald, 27 Feb 15 Japan’s push to keep power flowing after it shuttered its nuclear program may best be illustrated by 73 million light bulbs.
That’s the number of LED bulbs sold in Japan since the start of 2012, representing about 30 per cent of all bulbs sold there. The LEDs, which consume a fifth of the energy used by standard lights, are key to the country’s strategy to make energy use more efficient, even as it pursues alternative sources such as solar power.
Four years after the Fukushima nuclear meltdown spurred the closure of Japan’s many reactors, knocking out 30 per cent of Japan’s power supply, the drive to reduce energy consumption has sparked a national campaign that includes everything from improved insulation for homes to train stations powered by the braking of subway cars and vending machines that recycle waste heat and generate power with solar panels on top.
“There’s no doubt Japan has some of the most advanced technologies in energy saving,” said Takumi Fujinami, a senior researcher at the Japan Research Institute. “And there is still room for saving energy dramatically.”……
Hiroshi Amano, who shared last year’s Nobel Prize for physics, sees LEDs playing an even bigger role. Japan could cut annual electric spending by as much as 1 trillion yen (US$8.4 billion) within five years by using more LEDs, according to Amano, one of three Japan-born scientists who were awarded the Nobel Prize in 2014 for their work developing LEDs…..
Japan is pursuing a variety of alternatives after shuttering its nuclear plants for safety checks, pulling 47 gigawatts of capacity from the grid. Subsidies for solar power, which are triple what Germany offers, have made Japan the biggest market for the technology in the world behind China. The country may install as much as 12 gigawatts of solar panels this year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
The options run from old standbys such as making sure homes are insulated to ideas that offer a unique take on how to keep consumption under control.
The government has set a goal for all new public buildings and homes to be net zero energy by 2030, meaning they use only as much energy as they can produce from renewable sources and other generation systems on site. Currently, about 40 per cent of existing homes have no insulation, according to a December task force report.
Meanwhile, Mitsubishi Electric said in September that a system installed at a Tokyo subway station to harvest energy generated by braking subway cars saved enough to run 60 homes. The power is being used for station lighting, air conditioning and elevators, the company said…..
Efforts paying off
All of these efforts are apparently paying off, according to a task force on power demand for the trade ministry.
Power used by the nation’s nine regional utilities fell by 10 terawatt-hours in July and August thanks to conservation measures, compared with the same period before the Fukushima disaster, the task force found. Overall for the fiscal year ending March 31, consumption fell in eight of the first nine months, with declines ranging from 1 per cent to 8 per cent.
Results from the consumption campaign are also being felt within the industrial community……..http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11408970
India’s Renewable energy sector to generate $160 billion business in five years: Economic Survey By ET Bureau | 27 Feb, 2015 NEW DELHI: Positioning India as a responsible nation committed to sustainable development, the Economic Survey 2014-15 has said the Indian clean energy sector is likely to generate business opportunities to the order of $160 billion for the next five years. …….
It elaborates that in India renewable energy offers very good opportunity for businesses to set and scale up industry, leapfrog technologies, and create volumes. Some of India’s major immediate plans on renewable energy include scaling up cumulative installed capacity to 170 GW that includes 100 GW of solar power by 2022 and establishing a National University for Renewable Energy.
To provide a big push to solar energy, two new schemes — ‘Scheme for Development of Solar Parks………..
Google Is Making Its Biggest Ever Bet on Renewable Energy, Bloomberg, Christopher Martin Google Inc. is making its largest bet yet on renewable energy, a $300 million investment to support at least 25,000 SolarCity Corp. rooftop power plants.
Google is contributing to a SolarCity fund valued at $750 million, the largest ever created for residential solar, the San Mateo, California-based solar panel installer said Thursday in a statement.
Google has now committed more than $1.8 billion to renewable energy projects, including wind and solar farms on three continents. This deal, which may have a return as high as 8 percent, is a sign that technology companies can take advantage of investment formats once reserved only for banks.
The deal reflects the success of renewable energy companies in tapping into a broader pool of investors with financial products that emerged in the past three years, either paying dividends or sheltering cash. Those helped boost investment in clean energy 16 percent to a record $310 billion last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg……..http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-02-26/google-makes-biggest-bet-on-renewables-to-fund-solarcity
UK backs £315m renewable energy projects Guardian, Fiona Harvey, 27 Feb 15, More than a dozen windfarms and five solar farms are among first projects to receive financial support under contracts for difference More than a dozen new onshore wind farms are to receive financial backing through the coalition government’s reformed renewable incentive scheme, along with two offshore wind projects and five solar farms.
The contracts for the new renewable energy projects amount to more than £315m in total, spread across five renewable technologies, and taken together should produce more than 2GW of new generation capacity, enough to power 1.4m homes.
But green campaigners and parts of the renewable energy industry were disappointed by the auction process used to award the contracts, arguing that some technologies and projects had lost out in the reforms……..
all the forms of renewables represented, apart from energy from waste, came in at substantially less than the strike price.
This was in marked contrast to the strike price for nuclear power, which will result in one nuclear reactor being built – at Hinckley in Somerset, by the French state-backed utility EDF – for £80bn calculated on the strike price alone. Solar power, which has seen costs plummet as worldwide use of panels has risen, settled for 58% lower, with offshore wind 18% and onshore wind 17% under their respective strike prices…….
In response to the first Contracts for Difference auctions for renewables, Greenpeace Chief Scientist Dr Doug Parr said: “Today’s announcements show renewables’ costs are plummeting, and will mount a growing challenge to conventional sources of power in delivering energy security for the UK.
“Those who say we should tackle climate change but are opposed to wind and solar farms need to explain how they plan to cut carbon emissions whilst keeping consumer bills as low as possible.
“We’ve known onshore wind is much cheaper than nuclear for a while, but now we learn that solar power is already cheaper than new gas generation in some cases. It makes you wonder what could have been achieved with less party-political manoeuvring and more stable Government support for the clean technologies already being embraced by the world’s largest economies.” http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/feb/26/uk-backs-315m-renewable-energy-projects
One of the world’s most iconic sites has become the latest high profile venue to embrace renewable energy, after the installation of two vertical axis wind turbines as part of the Eiffel tower’s high profile renovation project….
Solar power set to become cheapest source of energy over next decade, German think tank says, ABC News, 25 Feb 15, The World Today By Annie White Solar energy is set to become the cheapest source of electricity in many parts of the world within the next 10 years, according to a new report released by German think tank, Agora Energiewende.
The report was commissioned by the independently funded organisation, designed to steer Germany towards its 80 per cent renewable energy target.
Chief executive officer Dr Patrick Graichen said they wanted to see if recent falls in the cost of photovoltaics would continue. “The finding is there’s no end to the cost decline in photovoltaics,” he said. “The technology still has further improvements so we expect that within the next 10 years photovoltaics will become, in many regions of the world, the cheapest source of electricity.”
Dr Graichen said in some sun drenched parts of the world, it would be cheaper than burning fossil fuels.
The Current and Future Cost of Photovoltaics report found the price drop is set to occur even in conservative scenarios, and assuming no major technological breakthroughs.
Dr Graichen, former head of the Division for Energy and Climate Policy at the German Federal Environment Ministry, said the falling price was being driven by several factors.
“It’s the technology itself, the modules have become cheaper because China is now producing them on a very large scale,” he said.
“So we have the effect of the mature technology with a global market, where prices decline, and second, we’ve got to know better how to integrate it into the systems during the past five-six years.”……http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-02-24/solar-track-becoming-cheapest-energy-source-agora-energiewende/6251322
Apple’s Investing $2.5 Billion On Two Entirely Renewable Energy Data Centres http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2015/02/apples-investing-2-5-billion-on-two-entirely-renewable-energy-data-centres/
GERALD LYNCH – GIZMODO UKApple has just announced that it is to invest €1.7 billion ($2.5 billion) in two new “state-of-the-art” data centres for Europe, located in Ireland and Denmark. The sites in County Galway and Denmark’s central Jutland will use 100 per cent renewable energy and power Apple’s iTunes Store, App Store, iMessage and Maps applications and Siri voice assistant.Measuring 166,000 square metres apiece, the data centres will begin operations in 2017, and each will support a specific local initiative too. The County Galway project will include a scheme to recover land previously used for the harvesting of non-native trees and return native flora to the area, along with an outdoor education space for schools. The Danish data centre will capture excess heat and return it to the district’s heating system to warm local homes.
It’s the latest in a recent burst of green-friendly moves by Apple, with the company also recently announcing plans to build a giant solar farm in Monterey, California.
Roberta Combs, president of the group, titled her post “For God and Country, Indiana and America Need Better Energy Policies,” writing,
Indiana’s utilities are interested in keeping us reliant on traditional fuel sources that hurt our national security and weaken our economy. We must allow homes, businesses, public organizations, and churches to create local, American power by installing solar.
As conservatives, we stand up for our country’s national security and the health of our economy. And, as Christians, we recognize the biblical mandate to care for God’s creation and protect our children’s future
In Indiana, a fight over net metering — basically, whether people with rooftop solar can return their excess power to the grid and thereby lower their utility bills — has drawn out groups ranging from the state chapter of the NAACP to the conservative TUSK (Tell Utilities Solar won’t be Killed) in favor of the practice.
Arrayed on the other side of the issue, meanwhile, are the Indiana Energy Association, a group of utilities, and Republican Rep. Eric Koch, sponsor of a bill that would potentially change how net metering works in the state. The legislation, in its current form, would let utility companies ask the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to include various “tariffs, rates and charges, and credits” for those customers generating their own energy at home. Continue reading
India’s Largest Bank Commits $12.5 Billion For Renewable Energy Funding Clean Technica February 19th, 2015 by Smiti Mittal Private sector project developers in India’s rapidly growing renewable energy would be happy to have the backing of the country’s largest bank as they get ready to participate in cut-throat competitive bidding.
The State Bank of India (SBI) has committed to provide $12.5 billion in debt funding to renewable energy projects over the next few years. The announcement was made at the RE-INVEST summit organised by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.
The bank hopes to provide debt financing to 15 GW of renewable energy projects, most of which are likely to be based on wind and solar energy…….
Over the last few years some private banks in India have signed deals with development banks to provide loans at concessional rates. The Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) is also expected to provide loans at low rates following its recent agreements with the European Investment Bank, Japan International Cooperation Agency, and the US Export-Import Bank……
This announcement by the country’s largest bank and the recent funding agreement worth $4 billion with the US is expected to boost the growth of the Indian renewable energy sector.
Smiti Mittal works as a senior solar engineer at Mott MacDonald, a reputed engineering and management consultancy. She has conducted due diligence of several solar PV projects in India and Southeast Asia. She has keen interest in renewable energy, green buildings, environmental sustainability, and biofuels. She currently resides in New Delhi, India. http://cleantechnica.com/2015/02/19/indias-largest-bank-commits-12-5-billion-renewable-energy-funding/
Gas use in the UK fell by more than a fifth from 2005 to 2012, as energy efficiency increased across the economy and green energy took up more of the burden.
Under European Union targets, the UK must produce 15% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, and is one of a small number of big member states to be judged on track to meet all of its energy and climate commitments by the European environment agency.
This was confirmed on Thursday by the Office for National Statistics, which found that 15% of the UK’s electricity came from renewable sources in 2013. This puts the UK about halfway towards its commitments, because the overall energy target includes transport and heating, as well as electricity generation. For the UK to meet its EU goals, electricity generation from renewable sources is likely to have to increase to above 30% by 2020……..
The rise in renewables while gas use fell also highlights the competition that clean energy represents to gas. Gas companies have been keen to emphasise the fuel as a “greener” alternative to coal – it burns more cleanly, producing much less carbon dioxide and none of some other pollutants associated with coal – and as a “transition” fuel that can help the move to a low-carbon economy alongside the use of renewable.
However, many in the green sector are concerned that investment in renewable alternatives could suffer if gas is prioritised. Many of Europe’s biggest players in renewable energy are power companies that still generate large amounts of their output from fossil fuels.
Renewable UK, the trade association for the wind industry, said renewable power generators were “doing their bit” towards the UK’s targets, but that fossil fuel use in transport and heating remained relatively high. For renewables to cut transport emissions too, through electric cars, the next government needs to show support for wind power, they said…….
Gordon Edge, Renewable UK’s director of policy said: “Onshore and offshore wind farms have been growing rapidly and are now generating more than half of our clean electricity. The question is whether the UK will make fast enough progress on renewable heat and renewable transport as well – that’s looking less certain. If there’s a shortfall in those areas, we’ll need to generate more renewable electricity to hit the target.
“The cheapest way to do this would be to install more onshore wind, which is why it’s utterly baffling that the Conservative party is proposing to cap the development of onshore wind if they’re elected in May.”………http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/feb/20/uk-on-track-to-meet-its-renewable-energy-targets
At corporations, the mentality has shifted from being willing to spend a little more money to use green power to viewing the shift to green power as a way to save money.
renewable energy—for so long a flaky, small-scale enterprise—has developed into an industrial-strength solution that affords big companies the opportunity to lock in the cost of electricity over a period of 20 to 25 years
Each of these new, large-scale transactions will displace and obviate the need for power produced from fossil fuels.
Big Solar: Renewable energy finally makes sense as a utility—and that’s why it’s becoming a threat to coal. http://www.slate.com/articles/business/the_juice/2015/02/apple_kaiser_permanente_solar_investments_renewable_energy_is_finally_a.html
Once the technologies were proven, and the costs began to come down, investors and operators stepped in. Companies put up plants, and then made deals with utilities to buy the output—often at a price above the cost of electricity created by coal plants. Utilities complied in part because of state requirements that they source a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable sources.
Now we’re entering a new stage. Companies in sectors such as technology, health care, and consumer products—all big consumers of power—are striking deals to purchase huge amounts of renewable energy from newly constructed plants
This is different than companies putting up a solar array, or buying some carbon offsets, or making token greenness gestures. They are conjuring into existence new infrastructure that can’t help but replace coal. Continue reading
Floridians for Solar Choice, the group behind the initiative, is an inchoate alliance of libertarians, Christian Coalition conservatives, liberal environmentalists, and eighty-five Tea Party groups
Greening the Tea Party, New Yorker BY CAROLYN KORMANN 18 Feb 15 The solar-energy business is booming. The average cost of installing solar panels has dropped by half since 2010, and a new solar electric system is now installed somewhere in the United States every four minutes.
The growth extends well beyond the rooftops of American homes and small businesses; last week, Apple announced that it is investing in an eight-hundred-and-fifty-million-dollar solar farm in Monterey County, California, which it says will power its operations in the state by the end of 2016. Although solar is still small, supplying less than one per cent of the country’s electricity, its growth has alarmed the energy industry’s old guard—coal, oil, and utility companies. Continue reading
Report: California adds nearly 7,500 solar jobs to its nation-leading total http://www.sacbee.com/news/business/article10468988.html BY MARK GLOVER MGLOVER@SACBEE.COM 02/16/2015
California’s solar industry added nearly 7,500 jobs in 2014, boosting its nation-leading total to 54,690, according to a new report by the Washington, D.C.-based Solar Foundation.
That represented a 15.8 percent gain over 47,223 reported in 2013. Nearly 60 percent of the current jobs are in the solar installation sector, according to the report.
Massachusetts was a distant second in the 2014 job rankings, with 9,400 solar industry jobs.
“California’s solar industry has once again proven to be a powerful engine of economic growth and job creation,” Andrea Luecke, foundation president and executive director, said in a statement accompanying the figures.
The report also noted that California is projected to add nearly 10,000 more solar industry jobs in 2015.
The foundation said there were 2,094 solar companies in California as of November 2014, also No. 1 nationally. The Golden State also topped the nation in the number homes powered by solar energy, at more than 2.38 million.
Nationally, the foundation said 173,807 held jobs in the solar industry near the end of 2014, up 21.8 percent from the previous year.
One way to decrease this demand is to use household or community-owned renewables instead of commercial energy plants for power.
At the moment, this is rare in Britain, because the cheap bank loans which could fund renewable energy aren’t made available to individuals or community groups (while fossil fuel investors have no problem getting hold of them).
Community projects often cost under $15 million, and ‘at that level, banks aren’t really interested,’ explains Emma Bridge, chief executive of community generator association, Community Energy England (CEE).
Crowd-sourcing and community funding schemes such as Trillion Fund can pay for some renewables, but when it comes to bigger renewable projects, current laws don’t give communities much in the way of rights to buy and profit from them.
Renewables face not only a funding problem, but a legal problem too, especially in places where laws don’t allow members of the public to buy shares in private power plants.
The ‘right to invest’ clause in the most recent version of the Infrastructure Bill (currently working its way through parliament) only lets the public ask for 5-per-cent ownership on large wind-turbine projects, even when they are in public backyards.
Lord Cameron of Dillington’s remark when debating the bill was that 10-per-cent public wind-turbine ownership would let members of the activist public stop wind-turbine construction.
In Denmark, where there is currently a fracking ban in place, the opposite is true. Most of Denmark’s wind-power energy source is community-owned and wind power provides most of the country’s power on some days.
Profits from wind-energy bills go towards local community funds, thanks to a law requiring up to 20-per-cent public ownership of wind turbines.
‘For a long time, Britain has been one of the worst-performing countries in Europe when it comes to utilizing renewable energy,’ says Paul Monaghan, sustainability advisor at Co-operative Energy.
The British consumer-managed energy supplier thinks 25 per cent should be the minimum amount of public ownership offered for larger renewable power projects.
Instead, the government will soon remove British landowners’ right to prevent frackers from trespassing beneath homes.
Allowing more public ownership of renewables can be seen as a way of safeguarding public access to electricity and water in the face of fracking and dwindling traditional oil and gas reserves. http://newint.org/blog/2015/02/13/buy-renewables/#sthash.0uTfDW2S.dpuf
Google joins Apple in turning to renewable energy, SMH February 12, 2015 Matt O’Brien Google has spent $US1.5 billion ($1.95 billion) around the world on clean energy projects cutting the pollution from millions of users clicking on search links, watching YouTube videos and sending emails, but now it’s found a powerful electricity source close to home. The company will announce Wednesday that it is buying power from the Altamont Pass, one of the nation’s oldest, largest and most iconic wind farms that is about to get a Google-funded makeover.
The tech giant has no plans to brand the blades with its multicolored logo, but its 20-year power purchase agreement with Florida-based NextEra Energy will dramatically transform the rolling, treeless landscape that connects the Bay Area with the Central Valley here. About 770 old turbines from the 1980s will be replaced this year by 48 new machines producing twice as much energy, enough to power Google’s corporate campus in Mountain View with 100 percent renewable power.
It’ll be majestic,” said Sam Arons, an energy strategist at Google. “Today there are many small turbines of all different sizes, all different vintages. It’s kind of a hodgepodge out there. Once this project is done, you’ll see a lot of tall, sleek, majestic turbines that will really de-clutter the landscape.”
Google’s involvement is the latest green power play from a company that has spent a decade dropping money on wind, solar and geothermal projects from West Texas to South Africa and the Netherlands, and is an investor in Ivanpah, the massive solar thermal power plant built by BrightSource Energy in the Mojave Desert. Google says it operates with 35 percent renewable power worldwide.
Last year, it spent $US3.2 billion to acquire Nest Labs, maker of the slick “learning thermostat.” It also quietly named John Woolard, the former CEO of Brightsource, as a vice president for energy. It has several previous deals with NextEra – for wind farms in Iowa, North Dakota and Oklahoma – and recently invested in Utah’s largest solar plant.
But unlike most of those projects, Google’s Altamont venture is more than a capital investment. Just 50 miles from Mountain View, it will do more to reduce the Googleplex’s carbon footprint than any of the quirky projects on the corporate campus, from the 1.9-megawatt solar array to the plant fueled by landfill gas.
Google is the second Silicon Valley tech giant this week to announce a major local green energy project. On Tuesday, Apple announced an $US850 million agreement to buy power and help build a 280-megawatt solar farm in Monterey County……..
The price of wind has declined very, very substantially over the past couple of years and the technology has improved,” said Ryan Wiser, a staff scientist who studies electricity markets at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. “The cost of wind energy is so low that it’s not as if these companies are taking an enormous financial risk in locking into these agreements. The price is stable.” http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/google-joins-apple-in-turning-to-renewable-energy-20150211-13cdge.html
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