Citizens’ energy movement calls for support as nuclear gets billions of pounds subsidy http://www.foe.co.uk/blog/citizens-energy-movement-calls-support-nuclear-gets-billions-pounds-subsidy Susi Scherbarth 15 October 2014 Last week the European Commission gave the UK the green light to billions of pounds of subsidies for Hinkley nuclear power plant, and the European Parliament approved a Spanish oil baron, Miguel Arias Cañete, as the EU’s next climate and energy chief.
This hardly bodes well when EU leaders are due to agree climate and energy targets for the year 2030 at a summit next week.
But against this, Europe’s citizens energy movement is providing reasons for optimism. Continue reading
Development banks should mobilize climate funds: World Bank’s Kim BY VALERIE VOLCOVICI REPORTING BY VALERIE VOLCOVICI,; EDITING BY ROS KRASNY AND FRANCES KERRY) WASHINGTON Thu Oct 16 (Reuters) – The World Bank and other multilateral financeinstitutions should pool their resources to help developing countries combat and adapt to climate change, helping smooth the path to a global climate agreement in Paris next year, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said on Thursday.
One important disagreement looming over the climate talks is how countries will reach an agreed target of raising $100 billion in annual funding for climate change projects in developing countries by 2020, Kim told the Reuters Global Climate Change Summit.
The World Bank, other multilateral organizations, climate funds and regional development banks can help mobilize money prior to the Paris talks to give developing countries confidence in the negotiating process, he said.
“We are doing everything we can to really make sure that issue doesn’t stop the proceedings,” Kim said.
“Can we take all of the money that is floating around out there, and put it together in a package that would make the developing countries feel a lot better about the available financing for tackling both mitigation and adaptation?”……….
Beyond the financing question, Kim said strong signs of an agreement between the United States and China on climate would set a “strong foundation” for the Paris meeting.
He added that a declaration by 74 countries and over 1,000 private companies announced at the U.N. Climate summit in September, in support of carbon pricing measures such asmarkets and taxes, could also bolster prospects for success in Paris.
Kim said the decision by China, the world’s biggest carbon emitter, to sign the declaration was a surprise to World Bank officials, and had raised the pressure on other countries……..http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/16/us-climatechange-summit-worldbank-idUSKCN0I52QK20141016
World: http://geoharvey.wordpress.com/ 17 Oct 14
¶ Wind power is blowing gas and coal-fired turbines out of business in the Nordic countries. Nordic wholesale forward power prices have almost halved since 2010 to little over €30 per MWh as capacity increases while demand stalls due to stagnant populations, low economic growth and improved efficiency. [AsiaOne]
¶ Japan’s utilities say they are being swamped by green power and the grid does not have enough capacity to cope with the rocketing levels of electricity from the growing crop of solar power plants. Yet the same utilities are pushing to restart the nation’s mothballed nuclear reactors. [The Japan Times]
¶ EU leaders are likely to agree a new decade of climate and energy policy next week despite the “legitimate concerns” of several nations, Europe’s climate boss said on Thursday. European Union leaders have set themselves a deadline of the end of October to agree on green energy goals for 2030 to follow on from 2020 policy. [Reuters UK]
¶ Business and political leaders around the world, most notably in the United States and China, are pressing for action to avert the potentially huge financial repercussions of climate change. But this year, the most vocal climate change sceptic in the Group of 20 leading industrialised nations is its current host, Australia. [Daily Mail]
¶ Orix Corp, a Tokyo-based finance and leasing company, will continue to pursue the development of its 800 MW solar PV pipeline in Japan, despite recent reports of some utilities restricting grid access for new solar projects. Half of the projects are already under development or in operation and the rest will proceed as planned. [pv magazine]
¶ Innergex Renewable Energy Inc has announced that the Mesgi’g Ugju’s’n Wind Farm, LP has obtained the government decree from the Quebec government for a 150 MW wind project located in the Gaspé Peninsula, in Quebec. This concludes the project’s environmental approval process so construction may begin. [Stockhouse]
¶ Sweden has called on the EU to adopt a greenhouse gas emission reduction target of 50% by 2030s, 10 percentage points higher than current proposals. The call from Stockholm’s new centre-left government comes less than a week before EU leaders are set to gather to discuss the bloc’s climate and energy strategy. [RTCC]
¶ Italian utility Enel is considering phasing out 23 “obsolete” thermal power plants in Italy in the near future, accounting for 11 GW or 43% of the company’s existing thermal generation capacity. The decommissioning procedure for nine plants has already started, Starace added, listing units with a combined capacity of 2.2 GW. [ICIS]
¶ The UK’s National Audit Office has begun an investigation into the controversial subsidy regime for the planned new Hinkley Point C nuclear plant. The financial watchdog will be checking whether the guaranteed prices of £92 a megawatt hour – double the current cost of electricity – represented “value for money”. [The Guardian]
¶ Energy watchdog Ofgem has named five new potential interconnector projects that could link the UK with France, Ireland, Norway and Denmark. Together with the ElecLink and Nemo projects that Ofgem has already assessed, the schemes could provide up to 7.5 GW of additional electricity capacity in the UK. [reNews]
Life cycle analysis confirms renewables’ lighter footprint http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2014/10/17/life-cycle-analysis-confirms-renewables-lighter-footprint By Sustainable Business News October 17, 2014 For years, some critics of renewable energy have contended that it’s really no better than fossil fuels when you consider the entire life cycle that goes into making their components.
They even say there may not be enough copper, steel and other resources to build all the solar panels and wind turbines needed for a low-carbon future. But comprehensive research recently released shows how far off their thinking is from reality.
It takes an enormous amount of energy to both build and then fuel fossil fuel power plants over their 40-plus year lifetime, and during all those years they pump out pollution that seriously harms the health of people and the environment. How do wind turbines and solar panels compare?
Wind turbines and solar PV Continue reading
Wind is the World’s Cheapest Source of Energy According to EU Report, Inhabitat, by Beverley Mitchell, 10/14/14 A report prepared for the European Commission has found that onshore wind power provides the cheapest source of energy once external factors such as air quality, health impacts and expenditure, and the costs of climate change are taken into consideration. The report’s authors found that onshore wind costs around $133 per MW/h to produce, whereas gas and coal cost up to $208 and $295 per MW/h each. However, continuing a controversy that shadowed the Commission last year, extracts from the report have already been published that fail to include the external costs, which is where many of the subsidies to coal, gas and nuclear are made.
EPA Clean Power Plan Underestimates Power of Renewable Energy to Reduce Carbon Emissions, Union of Concerned Scientists,October 14, 2014 Steve Clemmer, director of energy research, Clean Energy UCS released a new analysis today showing that strengthening the contribution from renewable energy can significantly increase the emissions reductions from the EPA’s 2014 Clean Power Plan. We found that increasing non-hydro renewable energy sources from about 6 percent of U.S. electricity sales today to 23 percent by 2030—or nearly twice as much renewable energy as the EPA proposed—could raise the reductions in U.S. power plant carbon emissions from the EPA’s estimated 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 to 40 percent. We also found that increasing renewables to these levels is affordable, resulting in little impact on electricity prices and lowering natural gas prices for both utilities and consumers.
The EPA’s renewable energy targets are modest
This post is part of a series on th eEPA Clean Power Plan.
To establish emission rate reduction targets for each state, the EPA proposed four “building blocks” to identify cost-effective ways to reduce emissions from existing power plants. In addition to increasing renewable energy, these building blocks included improving efficiency at existing coal plants, fuel switching from coal to natural gas, increasing energy efficiency in homes and business, and including the generation from new and “at-risk” nuclear power plants. Importantly, the EPA gives the states flexibility in deciding how much of each building block to include, with some limitations.
Unfortunately, the EPA’s proposed approach for renewables — based on averaging the 2020 targets of existing state renewable electricity standards (RES) within each of six regions nationwide — resulted in very modest targets. Our analysis shows that the EPA’s targets include less renewable energy than what the Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects will occur by 2020 under a business as usual scenario (i.e. without the carbon rule), and only slightly more by 2030 (Figure 1).
The EPA’s proposed approach also produced several counter-intuitive results at the state level. For example,seven states had less renewable generation in 2030 under EPA’s targets than they have today. And 17 of the 29 states with RESs have lower targets under the EPA’s approach than what is required to meet their existing laws. The EPA’s approach also does not capture any of the recent or projected growth in renewables between 2012 and 2017…….http://blog.ucsusa.org/epa-clean-power-plan-underestimates-power-of-renewable-energy-to-reduce-carbon-emissions-682
New Handbook: 100 Percent Renewable Energy Both Practicable and Affordable, Triple Pundit, Andrew Burger | Friday October 10th, 2014 Advances in renewable energy technology, in concert with new triple bottom line-based approaches to government and business, are key enablers of a transition from polluting fossil fuels to locally-appropriate mixes of distributed, renewable energy systems. The renewable energy transition will not only benefit ecosystems and the environment; well designed and executed policies, regulations, public-private partnerships and inclusive, collaborative business models can address societies’ most pressing social and economic challenges as well.
Powering societies wholly on renewable energy technologies widely available today is not only possible, it’s affordable, according to a policy handbook produced by the World Future Council and E3 Analytics.
Appropriately titled, How to Achieve 100 Percent Renewable Energy, the WFC-E3 policy handbook uses eight case studies organized according to four themes – cities and communities; regions and states; national governments; and island governments – to illustrate how innovative policies are promoting and paving the way to “fully fossil- and nuclear-free” societies.
A policy framework for achieving 100 percent renewable energy
When WFC and E3 write about societies achieving 100 percent renewable energy, they mean “that all energy needed within the electricity, heat and transport sector in the particular region is coming from renewable sources.”
No doubt, many will take issue with the WFC-E3 report’s contention that societies can rely entirely on today’s renewable solar, wind, ocean, geothermal and bio-derived resources and technologies to meet all their energy needs. In their How to Achieve 100 Percent Renewable Energy handbook, WFC and E3 lay out a framework of policies that organizations at successively larger degrees of geopolitical scope and scale are using today to achieve that goal……….
In Achieving 100 Percent Renewable Energy, WFC and E3’s research team highlight five key findings that resulted from their analysis of the eight case studies included in the policy handbook:
- 100 percent renewable energy is both financially and economically advantageous, generating a wide range of benefits for both citizens and governments. The benefits range from savings on fossil fuel imports, improved energy and economic security, as well as reduced energy and electricity costs for governments, local residents and businesses.
- The goal of achieving 100 percent renewable energy is not only for wealthy or industrialized countries – it is taking root in countries and jurisdictions in all four corners of the globe, including in Africa, the Asia-Pacific region, as well as Latin America. 100% RE provide a plethora of development benefits that have a high priority among governments across the world. Since almost 3 billion people suffer from both, erratic or no access to electricity and reliance on inefficient and polluting solid biomass fuels for cooking, 100% reliable, affordable and efficiently used renewables are the only realistic, long-term options for ensuring a more decent livelihood for all.
- The report finds that transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy can also make economies more resilient, reducing their exposure to external factors such as rising fossil fuel prices. In times of geopolitical tensions and climate change, this is one of the key drivers for governments to take action.
- In addition to cost savings, going 100 percent renewable generates new economic activity and improves quality of life. Case studies suggest that demonstrating a clear commitment to transitioning 100% to renewable energy can help stimulating job creation, create new business models and opportunities as well as generate new sources of domestic revenue for both citizens and businesses.
- The case study analyses suggest that a significant expansion of RE in both the transport and heating/cooling sectors will need to become a strategic priority for governments to achieve the 100 percent goal. In line with this, the analyses show that achieving 100 percent renewable energy on a sustainable basis will likely require storing excess energy in the form of either heat or electricity in individual homes and businesses and that this will require a higher level of integration between these different sectors than in the past. The total generation supplied by electricity systems should be greater than 100 percent the majority of the time to allow the transport and heating sector to be integrated.http://www.triplepundit.com/2014/10/wfc-e3-100-percent-renewable-energy-practicable-affordable/
MidAmerican Energy Plans To Invest Additional $280 Million In Wind Generation WOWT NBC Omaha 10 Oct 14 MidAmerican Energy Company today announced plans to develop one new wind farm site in Adams County and expand a second site in O’Brien County in 2015 – an additional investment of up to $280 million for the nation’s leader in ownership of wind-powered generation among rate-regulated utilities.
If approved, the company’s proposed wind project would result in installation of up to 67 wind turbines. The project, scheduled for completion by the end of 2015, would add up to 162 megawatts of new wind generation capacity in Iowa……..
Coupled with projects currently underway in Grundy, Madison, O’Brien and Webster counties, MidAmerican Energy will have approximately 3,500 megawatts of wind generation capability in Iowa by year-end 2015 – enough capability to provide energy for the equivalent of approximately 1.05 million average Iowa households. With the completion of this newest project, MidAmerican Energy will have invested more than $6 billion for wind generation development in Iowa, making wind approximately 40 percent of its electric generator nameplate capacity. http://www.wowt.com/home/headlines/MidAmerican-Energy-Plans-to-Invest-Additional-280-Million-In-Wind-Generation-278797921.html
US Energy Department to fund CSP research Renewable Energy Focus 08 October 2014 DoE allocates $25 Million to support research and development of concentrating solar power.
The US Energy Department has announced $25 million in funding to advance concentrating solar power (CSP) system technologies. This investment will fund research and development projects to improve the performance and increase the efficiency of all components of CSP plants, ultimately lowering the cost of solar electricity.
“Investments to improve the efficiency and lower the costs of concentrating solar power technologies enhance our ability to deliver affordable solar-generated electricity to American families and businesses, while also moving us closer to achieving President Obama’s goal of doubling renewable energy generation again by the end of the decade,” said David Danielson, Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
Chilean geography makes nation the top market for renewable energy, Chicago Tribune
By Matt Craze, Bloomberg News,Bloomberg SANTIAGO, Chile — With the sunniest desert on Earth, a windswept coast and limited fossil fuel supplies, northern Chile has become the world’s top market for renewable energy.
The government of President Michelle Bachelet has approved 76 solar and wind projects since taking power March 11. Renewable energy developers are pursuing contracts to deliver electricity to mines run by by companies including Anglo American and BHP Billiton, which consume a third of the country’s power.
“Chile is the market with the highest level of activity in the world,” Ben Warren, head of Ernst & Young’s renewables team, said in a telephone interview from London………
“Despite being a small market we attracted all of the players because we have significant growth rates,” Finat said. “We have clear economic rules and political stability. And there is a gigantic amount of untapped renewable energy resources.” http://www.chicagotribune.com/sns-wp-blm-news-bc-chile07-20141007-story.html
Wind & Solar Energy Generation Capacities Both Catching Up With Nuclear, Clean Technica October 5th, 2014 by James Ayre Renewables have been capturing a larger and larger portion of the total global energy infrastructure pie, while the portion nuclear energy has not just been stagnating but actually shrinking somewhat, as noted by a new Vital Signs report from Worldwatch Institute.
More interesting than that observation, though, is the fact that solar and wind energy have been gaining fast on nuclear — and are now, more or less, on the same trajectory that nuclear power was on in the 1970s and 1980s, in its heyday.
So, it looks like that “nuclear renaissance” that some analysts have been babbling about for the last several years will have to wait for at least another couple of years — or, more likely, forever. Solar and wind energy will no doubt continue growing at a fair rate (at the least) in the years to come.
Here are some of the exacts: nuclear’s share of total global power production has steadily declined from a peak of 17.6% in 1996 to 10.8% in 2013. And renewables have increased their share from 18.7% in 2000 to 22.7% in 2012. Continue reading
New rechargeable ‘solar battery ‘promises to revolutionize solar technology By Daily Digest News October 04, 2014 Scientists from Ohio State University invented a revolutionary breakthrough green energy technology that has the chance to upend the solar power industry.
Led by Professor Yiying Wu, scientists created a solar cell that also doubles as a rechargeable battery– the first combined device of its type.
“The state of the art is to use a solar panel to capture the light, and then use a cheap battery to store the energy,” Wu said. “We’ve integrated both functions into one device.”…….
By combining both the generation and storage processes, Wu and his team have been able to drastically reduce lost potential, saving nearly 100 percent of the electrons produced.
“Any time you can do that, you reduce cost,” said Wu.
The team estimates that their device brings down costs by 25 percent, which would be a significant boon to the solar energy industry.
Costs and innefficiency are the two factors consumers often point to that inhibits solar energy usage compared to traditional fossil fuel sources.
The team filed for a patent on the solar battery, and plans to license it to the broader energy industry for sale and distribution.http://dailydigestnews.com/2014/10/new-rechargeable-solar-battery-promises-to-revolutionize-solar-technology/
Germany kicks our butts, again, at clean energy Grist, By Liz Core 2 Oct 2014 Germany has hit a new clean energy milestone: So far this year, the country has gotten more electricity from renewables than from any other single source, 27.7 percent. That (just barely) beats the 26.3 percent of power generated by lignite coal, according to Agora research organization.
“This is a real success and watershed moment,” said Famke Krumbmuller, an analyst at Eurasia Group.
Wind accounted for 9.5 percent of the power fed into the country’s grid in the first nine months of 2014, biomass for 8.1, solar for 6.8 percent, and hydropower for less than 4 percent.
Last year, Germany got 24.1 percent of its electricity from renewables, so it’s up more than 3 percent. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government is aiming to get as much as 60 percent of the nation’s electricity from clean sources by 2035, even while phasing out nuclear power by 2022. (If you’re still looking for a star quarterback for your climate hawk fantasy league, Merkel is looking like she might be ace at pummeling her way to a climate goal.)
The U.S., by contrast, got just 6 percent of its electricity from wind, solar, biomass, and geothermal last year, and other 7 percent from hydro……http://grist.org/list/germany-kicks-our-butts-again-at-clean-energy/
Solar costs heading to 4c/kWh, rooftop solar seen “unbeatable” REneweconomy. By Giles Parkinson on 30 September 2014 The highly conservative International Energy Agency predicts the cost of solar energy will fall to around 4c/kWh in coming decades as the sun becomes the dominant source of power generation across the world.
As we reported yesterday, the IEA now expects solar to become the biggest single source of energy by 2050 and has now doubled its forecast capacity for solar PV.
Rooftop solar, it says, will now account for one half of the world’s solar PV installations, because as a distributed energy source the technology is “unbeatable”.
On costs, it says all solar technologies will fall dramatically in coming decades, with solar PV falling to as low as 4c/kWh, utility-scale solar to around the same level, and solar thermal with storage will fall to as low as 6.4c/kWh.
As this graph [in original] below shows, the minimum price tends to occur in regions with great sunshine, and it also assumes a low capital cost of around 8%……..
The forecasts from the IEA are not the most dramatic that can be found, but they are significant because the IEA is essentially a conservative organisation that was created in the 1970s to defend developed countries’ access to fossil fuels
It has a history of underestimating the impact of new technologies such as solar, as we pointed out in this article – even though it has doubled its forecast for solar PV deployment in just the last few years. Other agencies, such as IRENA, have a much more bullish forecast for solar……http://reneweconomy.com.au/2014/solar-costs-heading-4ckwh-rooftop-solar-seen-unbeatable-74425
The coming era of unlimited — and free — clean energy http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/innovations/wp/2014/09/19/the-coming-era-of-unlimited-and-free-clean-energy By Vivek Wadhwa September 19 In the 1980s, leading consultants were skeptical about cellular phones. McKinsey & Company noted that the handsets were heavy, batteries didn’t last long, coverage was patchy, and the cost per minute was exorbitant. It predicted that in 20 years the total market size would be about 900,000 units, and advised AT&T to pull out. McKinsey was wrong, of course. There were more than 100 million cellular phones in use 2000; there are billions now. Costs have fallen so far that even the poor — all over world — can afford a cellular phone.
The experts are saying the same about solar energy now. They note that after decades of development, solar power hardly supplies 1 percent of the world’s energy needs. They say that solar is inefficient, too expensive to install, and unreliable, and will fail without government subsidies. They too are wrong. Solar will be as ubiquitous as cellular phones are.
Futurist Ray Kurzweil notes that solar power has been doubling every two years for the past 30 years — as costs have been dropping. He says solar energy is only six doublings — or less than 14 years — away from meeting 100 percent of today’s energy needs. Energy usage will keep increasing, so this is a moving target. But, by Kurzweil’s estimates, inexpensive renewable sources will provide more energy than the world needs in less than 20 years. Even then, we will be using only one part in 10,000 of the sunlight that falls on the Earth.
In places such as Germany, Spain, Portugal, Australia, and the Southwest United States, residential-scale solar production has already reached “grid parity” with average residential electricity prices. In other words, it costs no more in the long term to install solar panels than to buy electricity from utility companies. The prices of solar panels have fallen 75 percent in the past five years alone and will fall much further as the technologies to create them improve and scale of production increases. By 2020, solar energy will be price-competitive with energy generated from fossil fuels on an unsubsidized basis in most parts of the world. Within the next decade, it will cost a fraction of what fossil fuel-based alternatives do.
It isn’t just solar production that is advancing at a rapid rate; there are also technologies to harness the power of wind, biomass, thermal, tidal, and waste-breakdown energy, and research projects all over the world are working on improving their efficiency and effectiveness. Wind power, for example, has also come down sharply in price and is now competitive with the cost of new coal-burning power plants in the United States. It will, without doubt, give solar energy a run for its money. There will be breakthroughs in many different technologies, and these will accelerate overall progress.
Despite the skepticism of experts and criticism by naysayers, there is little doubt that we are heading into an era of unlimited and almost free clean energy. This has profound implications.
First, there will be disruption of the entire fossil-fuel industry, starting with utility companies — which will face declining demand and then bankruptcy. Several of them see the writing on the wall. The smart ones are embracing solar and wind power. Others are lobbying to stop the progress of solar power — at all costs. Witness how groups in Oklahoma persuaded lawmakers to approve a surcharge on solar installations; the limited victory that groups backed by the Koch brothers won in Arizona to impose a $5 per month surcharge; and the battles being waged in other states. They are fighting a losing battle, however, because the advances aren’t confined to the United States. Countries such as Germany, China, and Japan are leading the charge in the adoption of clean energies. Solar installations still depend on other power sources to supply energy when the sun isn’t shining, but battery-storage technologies will improve so much over the next two decades that homes won’t be dependent on the utility companies. We will go from debating incentives for installing clean energies to debating subsidies for utility companies to keep their operations going.
Witness how groups in Oklahoma persuaded lawmakers to approve a surcharge on solar installations; the limited victory that groups backed by the Koch brothers won in Arizona to impose a $5 per month surcharge; and the battles being waged in other states. They are fighting a losing battle, however, because the advances aren’t confined to the United States. Countries such as Germany, China, and Japan are leading the charge in the adoption of clean energies. Solar installations still depend on other power sources to supply energy when the sun isn’t shining, but battery-storage technologies will improve so much over the next two decades that homes won’t be dependent on the utility companies. We will go from debating incentives for installing clean energies to debating subsidies for utility companies to keep their operations going.
Vivek Wadhwa is a fellow at Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University, director of research at Center for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization at Duke, and distinguished fellow at Singularity University. His past appointments include Harvard Law School, University of California Berkeley, and Emory University.
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