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The human species is devouring its home -endless resource use

And don’t let’s forget – the nuclear industry is counting on this!

World’s consumption of materials hits record 100bn tonnes a year, Unsustainable use of resources is wrecking the planet but recycling is falling, report finds, Damian Carrington Environment editor @dpcarrington, Wed 22 Jan 2020 . The amount of material consumed by humanity has passed 100bn tonnes every year, report has revealed, but the proportion being recycled is falling.

The climate and wildlife emergencies are driven by the unsustainable extraction of fossil fuels, metals, building materials and trees. The report’s authors warn that treating the world’s resources as limitless is leading towards global disaster.

The materials used by the global economy have quadrupled since 1970, far faster than the population, which has doubled. In the last two years, consumption has jumped by more than 8% but the reuse of resources has fallen from 9.1% to 8.6%.

The report, by the Circle Economy thinktank, was launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Continue reading

January 23, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, ENERGY | Leave a comment

Australia May Add Record Amount of Renewable Power in 2020,

Australia May Add Record Amount of Renewable Power in 2020, Bloomberg, By James Thornhill, January 21, 2020

  • Corporate demand for clean electricity driving growth: Rystad
  •  Policy uncertainty seen undermining longer term expansion

Australia is set to add a record amount of renewable power in 2020, driven by growing corporate demand for clean electricity and to fill generation gaps created by the retirement of aging coal-fired plants.

New markets are expected to unlock growth as pilot hydrogen projects start and oil, gas and mining projects invest in off-grid renewables generation, according to Rystad Energy. The positive outlook would be a rebound for Australia’s clean energy developers after a sharp drop in investment in 2019.

“We expect the industry to bounce back in the second half of 2020,” Rystad said in a media release, citing projects with corporate power purchase agreements and the winners of government auction schemes that are scheduled to start construction this year.

Nearly 2 gigawatts of large-scale solar projects and 1.6 gigawatts of wind power are due to complete commissioning in the year ahead, up nearly 40% on 2019 levels. Wind and solar developers are also lining up to replace the Liddell coal plant in New South Wales, which is due to close by April 2023.

Still, developers may face headwinds over the longer term. The industry has already met the government’s 2020 target for renewable generation and there is no new target to replace it. Meanwhile, the profitability of projects located a long way from major demand centers has been hit by marginal loss factors — the amount of power lost along transmission lines.

Losing Momentum

Australia renewables investment fell 38% last year   “While the outlook for the commissioning of new projects still looks solid in 2020, there is a risk that activity tails off in the years ahead as the impact of falling investment starts to feed through,” said BloombergNEF analyst Leonard Quong.   AT TOP

January 23, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, renewable | Leave a comment

In Turkey, renewable energy rising, as nuclear partnership with Japan is scrapped

January 21, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, renewable, Turkey | Leave a comment

New report: China soon to join countries where renewables are cheaper than coal

Oil Price 19th Jan 2020, In September of last year Oilprice reported an incredible milestone for renewable energy when solar and wind power became cheaper than coal in most of the world. Now, a new report released this week by Wood Mackenzie Power and Renewables has heralded another milestone: China will soon be added to that list of countries in which coal is no longer more economical than renewable energy.

January 21, 2020 Posted by | China, renewable | Leave a comment

Fukushima Japan Vows to Achieve 100% Renewable Energy Use in 20 Years

January 13, 2020 Posted by | Japan, renewable | Leave a comment

Japan plans 100% renewable energy for Fukushima prefecture by 2040

Fukushima unveils plans to become renewable energy hub,  

Japan aims to power region, scene of 2011 meltdown, with 100% renewable energy by 2040, Justin McCurry in Tokyo , 6 Jan 2020

Fukushima is planning to transform itself into a renewable energy hub, almost nine years after it became the scene of the world’s worst nuclear accident for a quarter of a century.

The prefecture in north-east Japan will forever be associated with the triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on 11 March 2011, but in an ambitious project the local government has vowed to power the region with 100% renewable energy by 2040, compared with 40% today.

The 2011 accident, triggered by a powerful earthquake and tsunami, sent large quantities of radiation into the atmosphere and forced the evacuation of more than 150,000 residents.

The 300bn yen ($2.75bn) project, whose sponsors include the government-owned Development Bank of Japan and Mizuho Bank, will involve the construction of 11 solar and 10 wind farms on abandoned farmland and in mountainous areas by the end of March 2024, according to the Nikkei Asian Review.

A 80km grid will connect Fukushima’s power generation with the Tokyo metropolitan area, once heavily dependent on nuclear energy produced at the prefecture’s two atomic plants. When completed, the project will generate up to 600 megawatts of electricity, roughly two-thirds the output of an average nuclear power plant.

Despite the Fukushima disaster, the world’s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986, Japan’s conservative government is pushing to restart idle reactors.

It wants nuclear power, which generated almost a third of the country’s power before Fukushima, to make up between 20% and 22% of its overall energy mix by 2030, drawing criticism from campaigners who say nuclear plants pose a danger given the country’s vulnerability to earthquakes and tsunami.

All of Japan’s 54 reactors were shut down after the Fukushima meltdown. Nine reactors are in operation today, having passed stringent safety checks introduced after the disaster.

Renewables accounted for 17.4% of Japan’s energy mix in 2018, according to the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies, well below countries in Europe. The government iaims to increase this to between 22% and 24% by 2030 a target the prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has described as ambitious but which climate campaigners criticise as insufficient.

Abe insists nuclear energy will help Japan achieve its carbon dioxide emissions targets and reduce its dependence on imported gas and oil, but his recently appointed environment minister, Shinjiro Koizumi, has called for the country’s nuclear reactors to be scrapped to prevent a repeat of the Fukushima disaster.

“We will be doomed if we allow another nuclear accident to occur. We never know when we’ll have an earthquake,” Koizumi said when he joined Abe’s cabinet in September.

The government is unlikely to meet its target of 30 reactor restarts by 2030 given strong local opposition and legal challenges.

Japan faces mounting international criticism over its dependence on imported coal and natural gas. It received the “fossil of the day” award from the Climate Action Network at last month’s UN climate change conference in Madrid after its industry minister announced plans to continue using coal-fired power.

Japan is the third-biggest importer of coal after India and China, according to the US Energy Information Administration. Its megabanks have been urged to end their financing of coal-fired plants in Vietnam and other developing countries in Asia.

January 6, 2020 Posted by | Japan, renewable | Leave a comment

How Ontario can get out of nuclear power, and reduce carbon emissions

Ontario can phase out nuclear and avoid increased carbon emissions, The Conversation, January 6, 2020  MV Ramana, Simons Chair in Disarmament, Global and Human Security at the Liu Institute for Global Issues, University of British Columbia, Xiao Wei, MITACS Globalink Research Intern, University of British Columbia As wind and solar energy have become cheaper, they’ve become a more prominent and important way to generate clean electricity in most parts of the world.The Ontario government, on the other hand, is cancelling renewable energy projects at a reported cost of at least $230 million while reinforcing the province’s reliance on nuclear power via expensive reactor refurbishment plans.

As researchers who have examined the economics of electricity generation in Ontario and elsewhere, we argue that this decision is wasteful and ill-advised, and the unnecessary cost differential will rise further in the future.

One concern about renewables has been the intermittency of these energy sources. But studies have shown it’s feasible to have an all-renewable electric grid.

These feasibility studies, however, are always location specific. In that spirit, we have carried out detailed modelling and found that it’s possible to meet Ontario’s electricity demands throughout the year with just a combination of renewables, including hydropower, and storing electricity in batteries.

We also found that dealing with the intermittency of wind and solar energy by adding batteries would be more economical than refurbishing nuclear plants in the foreseeable future, well before the current refurbishment projects are completed.

That’s because of the expected decline in the cost of batteries used to store the electricity during the hours when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining in order to supply electricity during the periods when they aren’t. The cost of different kinds of battery technologies, such as lithium-ion or flow batteries, have come down rapidly in recent years.

Essential results

In all scenarios, the bulk of the demand was met by solar and wind power, with a lower fraction met by hydropower. Even in the scenarios with no batteries, less than 20 per cent of the electricity demand was met by nuclear power…….

In summary, our results show that for reasonable assumptions about future battery costs and the current price tag for solar and wind power, scenarios involving nuclear power are more than 20 per cent higher than the cheapest scenario involving only batteries, solar, wind and the current hydropower capacity. …

nuclear power isn’t needed to meet Ontario’s electricity needs. And the absence of nuclear power won’t have any impact on emissions in Ontario’s energy sector.

January 6, 2020 Posted by | Canada, renewable | Leave a comment

The rise and rise of global offshore wind capacity

Renew Extra 4th Jan 2020, Dave Elliott: The International Energy Agency says global offshore wind capacity may increase 15-fold and attract around $1 trillion of cumulative investment by 2040, driven by falling costs, supportive government policies and some remarkable technological progress, such as larger turbines and floating foundations.
It notes that the offshore wind capacity in the EU stands at almost 20 GW. Under current policy settings, that is set to rise to nearly 130 GW by 2040. However, if the EU reaches its carbon-neutrality aims, offshore wind capacity would jump to around 180 GW by 2040 and be the region’s largest single power source.
Meantime, it notes that China’s offshore wind capacity is set to rise from 4 GW now to 110 GW by 2040. In its subsequent World Energy Outlook (WEO), the IEA says solar could be even larger:

January 6, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, renewable | Leave a comment

Egypt’s solar energy success

Reuters 17th Dec 2019, Near the southern Egyptian city of Aswan, a swathe of photovoltaic solarpanels spreads over an area of desert so large it is clearly visible from space. Designed to anchor a renewable energy sector by attracting foreign and domestic private-sector developers and financial backers, the plant now provides nearly 1.5 GW to Egypt’s national grid and has brought down the price of solar energy at a time when the government is phasing out electricity subsidies.

January 6, 2020 Posted by | Egypt, renewable | Leave a comment

The Green New Deal: Not Insanity, but an Investment.

Triple Pundit 27th Dec 2019,The Green New Deal: Not Insanity, but an Investment. Among the many new stories that marked 2019, the Green New Deal was one ongoing discussion that exemplified a deeply divided America.
Proponents saw this massive plan as a way to wean America off of fossil fuels, avoid ruinous climate change and also create new jobs. Critics viewed the concept as one that would disrupt the economy, and not for the better.
While much of the U.S. public is supportive of at least some of the Green New Deal’s goals, political reality has sidelined the proposal for now. On the heels of COP25, which for the most part analysts have described as a flop, one study has come out suggesting that kickstarting the Green New Deal into high gear, and scaling it worldwide, could be well worth the investment for citizens and
businesses alike.
Last week, a Stanford University researcher published the
results of his number crunching and concluded that while the implementation
of a worldwide Green New Deal during a seven-year span would cost a
whopping $76 trillion dollars, the global economy would recoup that massive
sum relatively quickly by reaping annual savings of about $11 trillion –
not to mention the fact that citizens would benefit from reduced climate
action risks, cleaner air, fewer blackouts and more reliable sources of
energy and power.

December 30, 2019 Posted by | climate change, ENERGY, politics | Leave a comment

Renewables – Top 10 Utility Regulation Trends of 2019

GTM 26th Dec 2019Top 10 Utility Regulation Trends of 2019: Implementing 100% clean energy commitments; Falling cost of renewables and storage drives resource plans;
Aligning utility performance with policy goals; Utilities planning for
electric transportation; DER integration and investments in a modern grid;
Energy efficiency, load-shifting and building decarbonization; Valuing DERs
for their contributions to the grid; Wildfire prevention and protection;
Customers making their own energy choices; Non-wires alternative

December 30, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, renewable | Leave a comment

In France, over the next decade renewable energy is ‘on track to overtake nuclear’

December 17, 2019 Posted by | France, renewable | Leave a comment

China’s $2.5bn renewables investment in Inner Mongolia

November 23, 2019 Posted by | China, renewable | Leave a comment

In Germany , renewables replace nuclear and lower emissions simultaneously

Renewables replace nuclear and lower emissions simultaneously Energy Transmission, by Craig Morris, 20 Nov 2019

A myth is haunting the English-speaking world: Germany allegedly shows that emissions rise because renewables can’t replace nuclear – and that France is right to stick with nuclear. What do the data show? Craig Morris reports

It’s not just trolls: Cambridge professors are saying it, and top US journalists are saying it, and a US presidential candidate told it to the New York Times:

“Germany initially set out to close all of its nuclear reactors by 2022, but as a result, they are now likely to miss their emissions reduction targets. And France is now considering options to extend the life of many of its older nuclear power plants.”

— US presidential candidate Marianne Williamson in the New York Times

What’s worse, US policymakers are saying it. Five US states now subsidize nuclear to keep reactors from closing, and it’s possible that all of them have done so based on this incorrect assumption. It happened years ago in New York State with explicit reference to German emissions allegedly rising because of the phase-out, it then happened in Illinois, and as one press report from Ohio put it this year when the new nuclear subsidy was announced:

The experience of Germany was repeatedly used as an example of what might happen in Ohio. Germany decommissioned its nuclear plants in favor of an all-renewable strategy. Electricity prices spiked and carbon pollution spiked, in part because of the ramping up of fossil-fuel plants to compensate for when wind and solar faltered.

“If the studies are correct, the Germans must not know how to do this,” Mr. Randazzo [chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio] said.

“If the studies are correct” indeed: So do Germany and France show that climate change requires nuclear, as Williamson says? Let’s start with France………..

France’s concern is theoretical: they didn’t actually close any reactors and try to replace the power with renewables. Rather, the French left nuclear on, and renewables hardly grew; solar (1.9%) and wind (5.1%) made up a mere 7.5% of French power supply in 2018. (In Germany, solar alone covered 7.7% of demand in 2018, with wind adding another 18.7% for a total of 26.4%). But in Germany, replacing nuclear with renewables isn’t just a postponed political ambition; it’s happening. So what do we know?

Germany emissions during the nuclear phaseout

In 2011, eight of Germany’s 17 reactors were closed. From 2010-2017, emissions in the power sector fell by more than 15%. For 2018, the power sector numbers are not yet in, but emissions from the energy sector fell by nearly two percentage points. And to date in 2019, renewables have nearly reached 50% of power supply. Germany now has some 210 TWh of non-hydro renewable power, far more than the record level of 171 TWh in 2001 for nuclear. Since 2010, renewable power has grown nearly twice as fast as nuclear shrank. Some nine tenths of it is wind and solar alone. Clearly, Germany shows that renewables can reduce emissions during a nuclear phaseout.

At this point, I hear objections. The first: “but Germany is going to miss its 2020 climate target!” Yes, it is expected to reach a 32% emissions reduction, not 40% relative to 1990 (French emissions fell by 15% from 1990-2017 in comparison, albeit from a much lower level thanks to nuclear). But the Germans don’t see the power sector as the main problem. As Deutsche Bank recently put it, “So far, Germany’s efforts… have focused on the electricity sector. However, attention is increasingly shifting towards the transport sector and its steadily rising carbon emissions.” Former Environmental Minister and Christian Democrat Klaus Töpfer recently worded the German consensus well: “We have the highest taxes on electricity although we have reduced emissions there the most.” That’s right: Germany has performed best in the sector where it has removed nuclear and worse in sectors where nuclear plays little or no role: mobility, agriculture, and heat.

The second objection is generally: “Germany would have lowered emissions even more if it had phased out coal, not nuclear.” That’s a fine thing to discuss, but it only moves us from a falsehood (“German phaseout raised emissions”) to revisionist history – not to facts. The revisionist historians act as though renewables would have been built anyway if nuclear remained online. As I wrote in my 50-page paper entitled Can reactors react (2018), the Germans argued a decade ago that renewables were unlikely to be built if nuclear stayed online.

What do the French and German cases show about how much renewable energy gets added when nuclear stays online? The French are also failing to add new nuclear as quickly as its own power company closes old reactors it wishes to keep on. From 2010-2018, wind and solar grew by 27.4 TWh in France, while nuclear shrank by 14.7 TWh (and demand stayed flat). During the same timeframe in Germany, nuclear shrank by 64.6 TWh – but solar and wind alone grew by 91.8 TWh.

The current French situation suggests that, if you remain committed to nuclear, nuclear power nonetheless shrinks; to make matters worse, the growth of renewables struggles to close the gap. Germany suggests that, if you stick with renewables and phase out nuclear, renewables growth outstrips the drop in nuclear nearly twofold, and you reduce emissions by 2 percentage points annually in the power sector.

November 23, 2019 Posted by | Germany, renewable | Leave a comment

Irish wind power for France, as France’s EDF nuclear electricity is in a financial mess

Interconnector gives Ireland a stake in France’s fraught nuclear debate

The bill for modernising 54 ageing reactors is currently estimated at €100bn, Nov 19, 2019, Tony Kinsella In October 2nd, 2018, the European Commission agreed to provide €530 million (56 per cent of the total cost) for an Ireland-France 700MW Celtic electricity interconnector. France can export cheap base-load nuclear electricity surpluses along this interconnector, while Irish wind-generated power can flow in the opposite direction.

However, French nuclear policy is a mess. The bill for modernising its ageing reactors is currently estimated at €100 billion, a figure that can only rise.

France’s first commercial nuclear plants were commissioned in the 1960s. Construction was boosted following the 1974 oil shock, with 54 pressurised water reactors (PWR) commissioned between 1978-1991, with a programmed life span of 40 years.

The ageing reactors are due to be replaced by EPR reactors jointly developed by France’s Areva and Siemens of Germany. EPR is third-generation pressurised water reactor technology.

The first EPR project was the 2005 Olkiluoto 3 plant in Finland, followed by the 2007 Flamanville plant in Normandy, France. They will both take four times as long to build and cost between three and four times their original estimates – Olkiluoto is due to start operating from 2020 having cost nearly €9 billion and Flamanville in 2023 for €12.4 billion.

The world’s first two operational EPR reactors opened in Taishan, China, last year. These two 1,750MW plants cost €3.5 billion each, and took nine years to build.

On October 28th, the French government received a damning 34-page report on the Flamanville nuclear project. Jean-Martin Folz, former head of carmaker Peugeot, was, at the behest of the government, tasked by Électricité de France (EDF) with producing a “no-holds barred” review of the Flamanville project in July 2019. He submitted a chillingly realistic report.

Some key elements of the Flamanville plant are defective. Repairing or replacing them will involve partial demolition of the plant. It might now prove cheaper to simply abandon it.

Wasted away

At the heart of the problem is that Europe’s once highly-skilled nuclear industry has wasted away since the 1990s. We no longer have enough experienced nuclear contractors, engineers, welders and technicians. This problem also bedevils the €22 billion Hinkley Point project in the UK.

Despite this EDF remains committed to new plants. Le Monde published an internal EDF note on November 9th on the company’s plans to build a further six EPR plants for €7 billion apiece.

The French minister for energy, Élisabeth Borne, moved quickly to publicly distanced herself from this position. She told the Political Questions show on national television that it was “not a view I share”.

Borne, an engineer and former head of the Paris RATP transit authority, went on to underline that the “option of 100 per cent renewable electricity had not been sufficiently studied”.

Borne is a respected technocrat. When she calls on EDF to “reflect on its role in a 100 per cent renewable situation” she means business.

She confirmed that no decisions on nuclear plants would be taken before mid-2021, and that “no new nuclear plants will be approved until Flamanville is operational”.

France has fallen behind in the installation of renewable power. Successive governments have chopped and changed in their approaches, denying renewable developers clear long-term perspectives. Less than 40 per cent of projects approved under a national tendering system since 2010 have actually been built.

President Giscard d’Estaing argued in 1974 that ‘France does not have oil but it has ideas’. Macron now needs to embrace ‘ideas’

Planning approval systems where every project is processed separately on a narrow basis create an additional obstacle. The fact that certain project technology has been approved in, say, Normandy offers no guarantee that an identical project will get the go-ahead in Burgundy.

Full planning approval on a very restricted technical basis takes over five years. Minor changes in processes and equipment can mean that planning approval is no longer valid, and the developer has to either begin again or abandon the project. This has been fatal for many renewable projects where available technologies evolve between the planning application and construction.

Cumbersome and therefore expensive procedures act as barriers to local projects and the involvement of regional and local authorities or co-operatives.

Administrative culture

Realisation of significant renewable energy projects in France will require a shift in French administrative culture. The financial costs may be relatively low, but more than one reform has foundered on the rocks of French administrative immobility.

If France is to expand its renewable sector from its current 18 per cent it needs to achieve two things – boost the European transmission grid and simplify procedures for renewable energies in France.

The French government needs to decide just what kind of electricity mix it wants, what France needs, and what the French electorate will accept by mid-2021, with the debate closed by the May 2022 presidential elections.

Paris could decide on a number of new EPR plants for around €10 billion apiece, invest to extend the working life of its current reactors, or significantly facilitate renewable energies and storage capacity.

President Giscard d’Estaing argued in 1974 that “France does not have oil but it has ideas”. Macron now needs to embrace “ideas”.

One 700MW connector can almost replace one nuclear reactor. A second Franco-Irish interconnector could now be on the cards.

Tony Kinsella is an entrepreneur and commentator. He divides his time between Ireland and southwest France

November 21, 2019 Posted by | ENERGY, France, Ireland | Leave a comment