The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Costs falling fast, as wind energy booms in Europe

Europe’s offshore wind industry booming as costs fall  The European Union’s push away from fossil fuels toward renewables, along with falling costs, has seen offshore wind thrive with turbines being installed from the Irish to the Baltic Seas, reports Environment 360, Guardian, Christian Schwägerl, 2q1 Oct 16  “……In Europe, offshore wind farms like the one at Burbo Bank are undergoing a boom. While still significantly outnumbered by windfarms on land, the importance of windfarms at sea has grown dramatically in the past several years. Until 2011, between 5 and 10% of newly installed wind energy capacity in Europe was offshore. Last year, almost every third new wind turbine went up offshore. That growth has helped boost the share of wind energy in the European Union’s electricity supply from 2% in the year 2000 to 12% today, according toWindEurope, a business advocacy group.

New investments for offshore projects totaled $15.5bn in the first half of 2016 alone, according to WindEurope, and newly installed offshore wind energy capacity will double to 3.7 gigawatts this year compared to 2015. More than 3,300 grid-connected turbines now exist in the North Sea, the Baltic Sea, and the Irish Sea, and 114 new wind turbines were linked to the grid in European waters in the first half of this year alone. This is in stark contrast to the US and Asia, where offshore wind use is only just getting started.

The offshore wind boom is part of a wider move from fossil fuels to renewable energy across the European Union. The overall share of renewable electricity sources in the EU – hydropower, wind, solar, biomass, and geothermal – has gone up from about 15% in 2004 to roughly 33% in 2014, according to data from Eurostat and Entso-E, the association of grid operators. Along with solar photovoltaic power, wind energy is driving this expansion. Newly installed wind energy capacity amounted to 13 gigawatts in 2015, twice as much as newly installed fossil fuel and nuclear capacity combined. WindEurope claims that all European wind turbines taken together can now generate enough electricity for87m households.

This is not only a result of government subsidies and incentives, but also of dramatically reduced production costs for wind energy. The price for a megawatt hour is now between €50 and €96 for onshore wind and €73 to €140 for offshore wind, compared to around €65 to €70 for gas and coal. Electricity generated from onshore windfarms is now the cheapest among newly installed power sources in the UK and many other countries. If environmental costs are considered, the picture looks even more favorable for wind power.

Germany now meets one-third of its electricity demand with renewable energy, Denmark 42%, and Scotland as much as 58%. On some sunny or very windy days, renewables can now fully supply the electricity demand in these countries.

The picture isn’t entirely rosy, though. The European wind industry says that grid and storage infrastructure hasn’t expanded fast enough to soak up surplus wind energy, and that the fossil fuel and nuclear industries are trying to sabotage what is called Energiewende, Germany’s transition from coal andnuclear power to renewable energy. The wind energy boom, with its recurrent surges of surplus energy, has led to a dramatic decline in electricity prices in spot market trading at the European Electricity Exchange, with the price per kilowatt hour falling by as much as 50% in the last five years. With preferential treatment from EU governments, wind energy is now outcompeting coal-fired power plants, posing major challenges for utilities heavily invested in fossil fuels.

Out in the Irish Sea, however, Dong Energy’s Sykes shows no mercy for the fossil fuel industry. “Wind power on land is becoming the cheapest form of newly installed electricity capacity,” he says. “And even out here at sea, we can’t say anymore that there are technical hurdles.”………

To long-term players in the field such as Henrik Stiesdal, a Danish wind power pioneer and former chief technology officer of Siemens Wind power, the situation is ironic: “While there were warnings in the past that wind energy would never be able to meet demands, politicians are now confronted with its abundance,” he said. Stiesdal sees storage technologies and better grid integration as opportunities, rather than problems – wind energy’s “golden bullets”.

“Once these problems are solved, wind will be able to cover the greatest part of the world’s electricity needs,” he says. The WindEurope business group says it could easily double the amount of wind electricity for EU consumption to almost 30% by the year 2030. The group argues that the recent ratification of the Paris agreement on climate change means the EU will have to pursue a more ambitious energy transition.

A visit to Dong Energy’s Burbo Bank project demonstrates the rapid progress the industry has made from its modest beginnings in the 1990s. It will take engineers and workers just a few months to assemble a facility that will provide electricity for a quarter-million households.

Like Stiesdal, Dong’s Sykes sees a bright future for offshore wind. He expects no impact from the UK’s Brexit and notes that the Burbo Bank extension is co-owned by an unlikely player in power production: the parent company of Lego, the toymaker. “Offshore is a reliable and increasingly cheap source of energy, with no lasting harm to the environment,” Sykes says. “It will soon be simply unbeatable.”

October 20, 2016 Posted by | EUROPE, renewable | Leave a comment

American governments’ huge new clean energy purchase

Statue-of-Liberty-solarThe U.S. government just made its biggest clean energy purchase ever , WP,   October 14  On Friday in Maricopa County, Ariz., the U.S. government will hit a clean energy milestone: What officials are calling the largest procurement ever of renewable energy by the federal government, in this case from a desert solar array.

The new 150-megawatt, or million-watt, Mesquite 3 solar array is located in Arizona, but the electricity it generates will be sent to California’s electric grid and will power roughly one-third of the electricity needs of 14 naval installations in the state, including San Diego’s naval base and the Marines’ Twentynine Palms and Camp Pendleton………

The move is being celebrated not only by the Navy, but also the Energy Department, which contends that the dramatic growth of large-scale solar plants in the Southwest is a direct result of major investments made by its Loan Programs Office as part of the stimulus legislation passed in the wake of the financial collapse in 2008-2009……..

The over 10 gigawatts of installed utility scale solar photovoltaic capacity in the United States today is just one part of the tremendous solar boom the country has seen. None of this takes into account more medium-sized arrays or individual rooftop solar installations. The Energy Department has also given loans for a different type of large-scale solar array, called concentrated solar power, many of which also have been built.

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, there are 31.6 total gigawatts of solar photovoltaic capacity installed in the United States, capable of providing enough electricity for 6.2 million homes…….

October 19, 2016 Posted by | renewable, USA | Leave a comment

Solar power in Australian desert farm – producing tons of tomatoes


Desert farm grows 180,000 tomato plants using only sun and seawater

Farms that grow food in arid deserts, without groundwater or fossil fuels, could be the future of agriculture. BRYAN NELSON October 10, 2016, No soil, no pesticides, no fossil fuels, and no groundwater. And yet, a thriving farm in the heart of the arid Australian desert. How is this possible?

An international team of scientists has spent the last six years fine-tuning a system that pipes seawater in from the ocean and desalinates it using a state-of-the-art concentrated solar energy plant. The water is then used to irrigate 180,000 tomato plants grown in coconut husks instead of soil, kept in a network of greenhouses.

sundrop-farms-david-prattThe result is Sundrop Farms, a commercial-scale facility located just off the Spencer Gulf in South Australia that began construction in 2014. Today it’s producing an estimated 17,000 tons of tomatoes per year to be sold in Australian supermarkets.

Given the increasing demand for fresh water around the world — a problem that’s particularly apparent in the sunburned landscape of South Australia — this might just represent future of large-scale farming, especially in coastal desert regions that have previously been non-arable.

The heart of the farm is the 23,000 mirrors that reflect sunlight towards a 115-meter high receiver tower. All of that concentrated sunlight produces an immense amount of power, up to 39 megawatts. That’s more than enough to cover the desalination needs of the farm and supply all the electricity needs of the greenhouses.

The seawater, too, has other purposes besides just irrigation. During scorching hot summers, seawater-soaked cardboard lines the greenhouses to help keep the plants at optimal temperature. Seawater also has the remarkable effect of sterilizing the air, meaning that chemical pesticides are unnecessary.

All in all, the facility cost around 200 million dollars to get up and running. That might sound excessive, but in the long run the facility should save money compared to the costs of conventional greenhouses that require fossil fuels for power. It’s a self-sustaining, cost-efficient design so long as the initial investment can be provided. Facilities similar to the Australian one are already being planned for Portugal and the U.S., as well as another in Australia. Desert areas like those seen in Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates could be next in line.

“These closed production systems are very clever,” said Robert Park of the University of Sydney, Australia, to New Scientist. “I believe that systems using renewable energy sources will become better and better and increase in the future, contributing even more of some of our foods.”

October 17, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, decentralised | Leave a comment

With progressive policies, Scotland could be 50% fuelled by solar and wind, within 15 years

Half of Scotland’s energy could be produced by wind and sunlight in less than 15 years, report says Analysis paints a picture of Scotland where fuel poverty is ‘eradicated’, air pollution is slashed and green electricity is a major export Ian Johnston Environment Correspondent, Monday 10 October 2016 Half of all the energy used in Scotland could be produced by renewable technology in less than 15 years, according to a new report.

It painted a picture of a country that exports vast amounts of electricity to the rest of the UK by producing 40 per cent more than it needs, where half of the buses and a third of cars are electric – improving air quality and public health – and where fuel poverty is “eradicated”.

However the report, called The Energy of Scotland, warned that while a low-carbon future was “achievable and desirable”, Scotland was currently on track to miss its climate targets, getting less than 30 per cent of energy from renewables by 2030. title=”10 October 2016 11:03 London”>Writing in the report, commissioned by the Scottish branches of WWF, Friends of the Earth and the RSPB, Lang Banks, WWF-Scotland’s director, said: “Scotland is in the enviable position of having fantastic renewable energy potential.

“Successfully unlocking this potential will not only secure our climate goals but provide the means to deliver economic opportunities across Scotland, bring social benefits and improve public health.”
However he said bringing about this future would require “significant changes to the way we heat our homes and organise our transport” and “new, bold policies”.The report, by consultants Ricardo Energy and Environment, found emissions from electricity power stations could drop to near zero with an “almost entirely renewable” supply, creating 14,000 new jobs.

“A 40 per cent drop in the use of petrol and diesel improves air quality in cities, resulting in better public health,” the report said.

“People are also fitter and healthier thanks to more walking and cycling in renewed cityscapes that are less dominated by cars.

“There is less congestion, with fewer and quieter vehicles on the road.”


October 17, 2016 Posted by | renewable, UK | Leave a comment

Energy Efficiency – not sexy – but it works against climate change

Energy Efficiency Is Key To Taking On Climate Change—Here Are The Numbers That Matter

Energy efficiency needs to account for one-third of all emissions reductions by 2040.  BEN SCHILLER 10.13.16

Energy efficiency isn’t as sexy as inventing new, cleaner forms of power. But, if you care about climate change, you really ought to care about it. Efficiency will need to account for a third of emissions reductions by 2040 if we’re stay within relatively safe global warming limits, according to the International Energy Agency.


“Simply put, there are no realistic or affordable energy and climate change policy without a sizable and vigorous energy efficiency component,” the IEA says in a new report.

The good news is we are becoming smarter about energy use. Energy “intensity”—the amount of energy needed to generate a unit of global GDP—improved by 1.8% last year. That was higher than in 2014, even though energy prices have been falling, which normally encourages people to use more energy, not less.

Between 2000 and 2015, IEA countries—including the U.S. and most of Europe—improved their energy intensity by an average of 14%. That’s the equivalent of 450 million tonnes of oil, or enough to power Japan for a whole year. In all, efficiency saved $490 per person across the IEA area, or cumulative energy spending of $4 trillion.

The bad news is that even this rate isn’t enough to meet the 2040 target. The IEA calls on countries to implement more mandatory efficiency targets—likeour CAFE car efficiency standards—and to spread more efficient lighting, heating, and air conditioning technology. Best-in-class equipment could save 14% of global residential energy consumption, the report says.

See more here.

October 15, 2016 Posted by | ARCTIC, ENERGY | Leave a comment

Britain slips down in sustainable energy ratings

UK loses top 10 spot in global energy ranking for the first time
World Energy Council warns of potential gap in energy supply due to government’s lack of clarity and myriad changes,
Guardian, , 11 Oct 16, The UK has fallen out of the top 10 of a respected international league table of countries’ energy sectors for the first time.

The World Energy Council blamed the government’s lack of clarity and myriad changes which it said have left the country facing a potential gap in energy supply.

The UK has previously been one of the top performers in the council’s “Trillema Index”, which has ranked countries on energy security, costs and decarbonisation efforts for the last six years.

But the Brexit vote, cuts to renewable energy subsidies and planned changes on foreign ownership have created investment uncertainty and significant challenges for the UK, according to the latest edition of the index for the London-headquartered agency, whose members include energy companies across the world…….

Despite the recent decision to go ahead with new nuclear reactors at Hinkley in Somerset, the UK had a “distinct lack of policy direction”, the council’s chief said……..

The result of the EU referendum vote in July has also cast a cloud over thegovernment’s pledge last year to phase out coal power by 2025, as leaving the single market as part of a hard Brexit “could significantly increase the cost of its energy imports”. Imports via interconnectors to the continent accounted for around 6% of the UK’s electricity supply last year.

Planned changes to rules on foreign ownership of energy infrastructure, announced during May’s review of Hinkley Point C contract, added to the investment uncertainty, the report said.

The council also highlighted government cuts to onshore wind and solar subsidies since it took power, which Office for National Statistics figures showed last week had led solar power installations to crash. The changes could hinder investments in those sectors, the council said. …..

October 14, 2016 Posted by | ENERGY, UK | Leave a comment

Google keenly promoting wind energy in Africa

Why Google Cares about Wind Power in Africa Millions of people are coming online, and that requires (renewable) energy, Scientific American  By Daniel CusickClimateWire on October 12, 2016 

Google Inc.’s investment in Kenya’s Lake Turkana Wind Power Project is its largest on the African continent to date, but it almost certainly won’t be the last.

The California internet giant has shown a growing interest in sub-Saharan Africa since it made its first cash outlay three years ago—a $12 million investment in the Jasper Solar Power Project in South Africa’s Northern Cape Province.

The 96-megawatt photovoltaic project, completed in 2014, was built by U.S.-based SolarReserve LLC and is capable of powering roughly 80,000 South African homes.

The Lake Turkana deal, whose financial terms were not disclosed, calls for Google to acquire 12.5 percent of the nearly $700 million project from Vestas Wind Systems A/S of Denmark after the wind farm is completed next year.

“We are investing in clean energy projects like Lake Turkana because they make business sense and can help accelerate the deployment of renewable energy,” a Google spokesperson said in an email to E&E News.

She added that the company sees “a large opportunity in fast-growing markets with rich renewable energy resources, where both the need and the potential are great.”

The ownership group includes lead developers Aldwych International Ltd. of Great Britain and KP&P Africa BV of the Netherlands, with additional financial support from international development funds in Norway, Finland and Denmark.

As with Jasper in South Africa, Google said its wind power investment “will help bring much needed capacity and stability to Kenya’s energy supply, reducing reliance on fossil fuels and emergency diesel generation while providing some of the most cost effective power in the country.”

In total, Google has committed more than $2.5 billion to 22 renewable energy projects around the world, mostly through power purchase agreements and direct ownership of wind and solar farms, officials said. Much of its purchased power goes to support massive Google data centers in the United States and Europe.

But the company sees a future in the developing world, where millions of new internet users are coming online annually……..

October 14, 2016 Posted by | AFRICA, renewable | Leave a comment

Solar microgrids are changing lives

solar-microgridChanging lives with solar microgrids, Green Biz, Laurie Guevara-Stone Monday, October 10, 2016 Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere. Only 25 percent of the 10.3 million people in the country have access to electricity. One nonprofit organization is testing a solution that could not only change the lives of the unelectrified in Haiti, but could be a model of how to bring electricity to the 1.2 billion people in the world still living in the dark.

EarthSpark International has built a 93-kilowatt solar-powered microgrid in the small town of Les Anglais (pop. 3,000 in the “downtown” area), which currently supplies clean reliable power to about 2,000 people.

Why a microgrid?

Haiti has more than 30 existing municipal microgrids, but most don’t work. Even when they do function, they run on diesel and operate just a few hours a day, a few days a week. So EarthSpark’s goal was to provide people with 24-hour clean, affordable electricity.

EarthSpark began working in Haiti providing people with small solar home systems and solar lanterns, products that are life-changing tools for people without access to grid electricity. But the organization soon realized that those aren’t the solutions to which everyone aspires. “To truly unlock economic opportunity, people need access to higher levels of electricity than what a solar home system can provide,” Allison Archambault, president of EarthSpark International, told RMI.

“With the right conditions, minigrids can provide energy services in a low-cost sweet spot between small levels of energy consumption that can be effectively served by small stand-alone solar systems and traditional grid extension,” said Eric Wanless, a principal in RMI’s international practice leading the Sustainable Energy for Economic Development initiative.

EarthSpark isn’t the only group focusing on microgrids. Husk Power has brought electricity to 200,000 people in the highly unelectrified state of Bihar in India, using rice husks to fuel microgrids; PowerhiveDevergy and PowerGen are bringing power to East Africa with solar microgrids; and Gham Power is building solar microgrids in rural Nepal.

A microgrid can give residences and businesses enough power to run motors, process agricultural products and power freezers. Plus, much of the electricity used by rural industry is seasonal, such as an agricultural mill, which is used during harvest season and on market days.

“Building an energy system just for that mill would mean an asset that is underutilized much of the time,” said Archambault. “But with a microgrid, you can use that capacity for other uses, and everyone buys down the cost for everyone else. We like to say our system is powerful enough to energize industry, and progressive enough to serve every single customer.”

Tackling technical challenges………

Overcoming logistical challenges

Working in developing countries such as Haiti brings a lot of logistical challenges as well. There is often not a clear process for implementing innovative projects…….

Confronting legal and regulatory challenges

One of the biggest challenges comes in the legal and regulatory framework in Haiti, or lack thereof. ………

Promoting economic development

Residents of Les Anglais not only have access to reliable power 24 hours a day, but are also saving money on their energy expenses. Before the microgrid, they were spending about $10 to $12 each month for kerosene and spending $3 to $4 each month to charge phones (at nearly $0.25 per charge). Now residential microgrid customers are saving 80 percent of their household energy budget, paying about $2 to $3 per month for much better quality power. And EarthSpark’s larger business customers are saving 50 percent over what they were spending on diesel.

EarthSpark’s goal is to build 80 microgrids in the next five years, bringing power to over 200,000 people, a small dent in the 7 million Haitians still living without access to electricity. But for those 200,000 people, it’s a game changer.

“We have small enterprises using electricity for the first time, people starting new businesses. The carpenter now has power tools. The hotel and the mill have been able to drastically reduce their power bills, by switching off their big diesel generators. And people come up to me and tell me their children no longer have the smoke of kerosene burn their eyes when they’re studying,” said Archambault. EarthSpark’s project in Haiti and RMI’s work in sub-Saharan Africa are delivering clean reliable electricity to people and unlocking huge opportunities for rural communities around the world.

October 12, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, decentralised | 1 Comment

In USA Over 10 GW of utility-scale solar is under construction

Over 10 GW of utility-scale solar is under construction in the United States OCTOBER 2016 | TOP NEWSMARKETS & TRENDS | BY:  CHRISTIAN ROSELUND

Eight states have more than 400 MW-DC of projects under construction each, showing increasing market diversification. The U.S. utility-scale market has long been set for a breakout year in 2016, due to the formerly pending expiration of the U.S. Investment Tax Credit (ITC). But figures on exactly how much solar will get installed have been hard to pin down.

GTM Research has documented a boom in project starts, and according to the company’s Utility PV Market Tracker service there is currently 10.1 GW-DC of utility-scale solar PV under construction nationwide. This includes 8.6 GW of solar projects being built in the top 10 state markets – more PV than was put online in the entire year 2015 across all market segments.

Among this, the company also lists eight states where more than 400 MW-DC of solar is currently under construction. These include not only California and Texas – which each have over 1 GW under construction – but also states that a few years ago had small to non-existent markets, such as Georgia, Florida and Utah.

GTM Research notes that this has been building for some time. “States don’t go from zero to 1 GW, so a lot of the places where we’re seeing diversification, there is only a small amount being developed, but it is indicative of more to come,” GTM Research Solar Analyst Colin Smith told pv magazine.

In at least two of the top eight states – North Carolina and Utah – projects are being driven by PURPA, a 1978 law which mandates that utilities must buy electricity from independent power producers if they can match the price that the utility would otherwise pay for generation.

Rounding out the eight states with more than 400 MW under construction are Nevada and Arizona. Both of these states have seen regulatory set-backs for distributed solar in recent years, and in both utilities are instead pursuing large-scale solar.

October 12, 2016 Posted by | renewable, USA | Leave a comment

Solar costs rocketing DOWN world-wide


You’ll never believe how cheap new solar power is , Think Progress, Joe Romm , 8 July 16, Solar energy has grown 100-fold in this country in the past decade. Globally, solar has doubled seven times since 2000, and Dubai received a bid recently for 800 megawatts of solar at a stunning “US 2.99 cents per kilowatt hour” — unsubsidized! For context, the average residential price for electricity in the United States is 12 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Solar energy has been advancing considerably faster than anyone expected just a few years ago thanks to aggressive market-based deployment efforts around the globe. Since it’s hard to keep up with the speed-of-light changes, and this is the fuel that will power more and more of the global economy in the near future, here are all the latest charts and facts to understand it.

If you are looking for one chart to sum up the whole solar energy miracle, Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) Chairman Michael Liebreich has one from his keynote address at BNEF’s annual conference in April titled “In Search of the Miraculous”: [chart on original]

Thanks to sustained long-term deployment programs, Liebreich explained, “We’ve seen the costs come down by a factor of 150 since 1975. We’ve seen volume up by 115,000.”

“How much more miracle-y do you need your miracles to be,” Liebreich added.

What that chart doesn’t reveal is that the price drop and the sales volume increase are directly linked. There is a learning curve: Over the past four decades, for every doubling in scale of the solar industry, the price of solar modules has dropped roughly 26 percent.

BNEF has the learning curve chart in its “annual long-term view of how the world’s power markets will evolve in the future,” their New Energy Outlook(NEO) from June. In a section headlined, “Solar and Wind Prices Plummet,” BNEF says “The chart below is arguably the most important chart in energy markets. It describes a pattern so consistent, and so powerful, that industries set their clocks by it”:

BNEF projects that by 2040, the world will invest an astonishing $3.4 trillion in solar. That’s more than the projected cumulative investment of $2.1 trillion for all fossil fuels — and $1.1 trillion in new nuclear — combined.  [ chart]

The result of these investments and the continued learning by solar (and wind) makes “these two technologies the cheapest ways of producing electricity in many countries during the 2020s and in most of the world in the 2030s.”……..

From 2005 through 2015, annual PV sales in this country went up 100-fold! And projections suggest that solar sales may double this year, driven by Congress’s five-year renewal (with phase-out) of the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC).

And here is what the recent solar boom looks like world-wide — cumulative installed PV capacity and annual additions — from the recent “Renewables 2016 Global Status Report” by REN21, the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century: [chart]……….

The ‘Other’ Form Of Solar Energy, Which Can Run At Night

Earlier this month, I wrote about the “other” form of solar, concentrating solar thermal power, which uses sunlight to heat water and uses the steam to drive a turbine and generator. That heat can be stored over 20 times more cheaply than electricity — and much more efficiently — so CSP can provide power long after the sun has gone down………

October 12, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, renewable | 2 Comments

Renewable energy racing ahead, nuclear energy falling behind

sun-championNuclear Power Rapidly Losing Race With Renewable Energy,, by Sun Day Campaign, Oct. 05, 2016 Two new reports from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) confirm that nuclear power is rapidly losing the race with renewable energy sources.
EIA’s latest “Monthly Energy Review” notes that during the first six months of this year, renewable sources—i.e., biofuelsbiomassgeothermalhydropowersolar and wind—accounted for 5.242 quadrillion Btus (quads) of domestic energy production. This includes thermal, liquid and electrical forms of energy. By comparison, nuclear power provided only 4.188 quads. That is, renewablesoutpaced nuclear by more than 25 percent.

Meanwhile, FERC’s latest “Energy Infrastructure Update” states that the total available installed generating capacity in the U.S. from the combination of utility-scale (i.e., greater than 1-MW) hydropower, wind, solar, biomass, and geothermal has grown to 215.82 gigawatts (GW) or 18.39 percent of total generating capacity. Nuclear power’s installed capacity is only107.06 GW or 9.12 percent of the total. Thus, renewable energy generating capacity is now more than double that of nuclear.

However, actual electrical generation by nuclear plants for the first seven months of 2016 is 19.9 percent of total generation. That is still higher than that provided by renewable sources whichcontributed 15.8 percent—a figure which does not include electricity produced by distributed renewables such as rooftop solar.

But while nuclear power’s share of net electrical generation has remained essentially flat over the past decade—e.g., it was 19.4 percent in 2006, renewable energy’s share is growing rapidly, increasing from 9.5 percent 10 years ago to 15.8 percent today with EIA forecasting continuedstrong growth in the years ahead.

“If renewable sources maintain their current growth rates, they could fully eclipse nuclear in the trifecta of not only energy supply and generating capacity but also electricity production within the next five or six years … or less,” Ken Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign, concluded.

October 6, 2016 Posted by | renewable, USA | Leave a comment

US Dept of Energy spells out good news on wind and solar power’s phenomenal rise

DOE charts show why climate doom and gloom isn’t needed  Clean tech costs have fallen 41–94% over the past 7 years. Wind and solar accounted for two-thirds of new energy installations in the US in 2015,  [Excellent graphs] Guardian,  , 3 Oct 16A new report from the US Department of Energy paints a bright picture for our prospects to cut carbon pollution and prevent the most dangerous levels of climate change. The report looked at recent changes in costs and deployment of five key clean energy technologies: wind, residential solar, utility-scale solar, batteries, and LED bulbs. For each technology, costs fell between 41% and 94% from 2008 to 2015

Good news for doom and gloom environmentalists Many who understand the realities and dangers of human-caused global warming are afraid that we’ll fail to avoid catastrophic climate change. Among this group, even positive climate stories are often viewed through a lens of pessimism, and we often see stories about the likelihood that we’ll miss climate targets.

However, it’s important to acknowledge the progress that’s being made, and retain a sense of hope and optimism that we can still avoid the worst climate consequences. This new DOE report highlights the fact that clean energy technology is quickly moving in the right direction, toward lower costs and higher deployment.

Wind energy is blowing away expectations

The report finds that due to its low cost, US wind energy capacity has nearly tripled since 2008. Wind now supplies nearly 5% of total US electricity generation.

As a result, there are now nearly 90,000 U.S. manufacturing, construction, and wind operations jobs. Research has resulted in bigger turbines that can generate more electricity:

a wind turbine installed today on average has 108% longer blades and is 48%taller than one installed in 1999. The longer blades allow each turbine to capture more energy, and taller towers allow access to the stronger and more consistent wind speeds that occur at higher altitudes in many parts of thecountry. Combined, these innovations allow each turbine to produce more electricity, reducing both the number of turbines needed to produce a given amount of electricity and the land area needed for their installation.

Offshore wind also presents tremendous untapped potential, with the first such project set to begin generating power off the cost of Rhode Island this month. The DOE envisions wind generating 20% of the nation’s electricity by 2030 and 35% by 2050, with costs falling a further 35% by 2050.

Solar energy’s bright future

Utility-scale solar farm costs have fallen 64% since 2008, and distributed (mostly residential) solar costs by 54%. While solar still accounts for a relatively small percentage of overall US electricity generation, its deployment has been increasing rapidly as costs have dropped. Even the military is getting on board:

For example in 2015 the Department of the Navy procured 210 MW of a utility-scale PV project to support fourteen Navy installations in California.

In 2015, the solar sector employed about 220,000 Americans. The DOE envisions that solar power could supply 27% of US electricity generation by 2050. Solar deployment is surging in 2016, with around 10 gigawatts (GW) set to be installed this year – equal to all the solar capacity installed in the US through 2014.

Solar panel leasing from companies like Solar City and Sungevity has revolutionized the distributed solar market, accounting for the majority of domestic residential system installed in leading state markets in 2015. This approach makes solar panels obtainable for households that can’t afford to purchase them. Distributed solar costs are expected to fall a further 16–33% by 2020.

Stunning drop in LED costs

The best available LED bulbs use 85% less energy than incandescent bulbs. ………

Electric cars are the future of transportation

Electric vehicle (EV) sales in the US reached 115,000 in 2015, more than double the number sold in 2012. Overall US EV sales will surpass a half-million by the end of this year. As shown by a new paper and app from MIT, EVs reduce greenhouse gas emissions 58% compared to gasoline-powered cars, and often cost less on a per-mile basis. As low-carbon energy deployment increases, EVs will only become cleaner……….

October 5, 2016 Posted by | renewable, USA | Leave a comment

So far, in 2016, solar energy is outstripping coal power in UK

A spokeswoman for the Solar Trade Association (STA) said: “This is a valuable milestone on the road to renewables overtaking fossil fuels. It is a testament to just how effective the British solar industry has been at installing clean and reliable power and at bringing down costs.”

Solar outstrips coal in past six months of UK electricity generation
More power came from solar panels than from Britain’s ageing coal stations from April to September this year, report shows,
Guardian, , 4 Oct 16, Electricity generated by solar panels on fields and homes outstripped Britain’s ageing coal power stations over the past six months in a historic first.

Climate change analysts Carbon Brief found more electricity came from the sun than coal from April to the end of September, in a report that highlighted the two technologies’ changing fortunes.

Solar had already eclipsed coal for a day in April and then for the whole month of May, with coal providing zero power for the first time in more than 100 years forseveral days in May. The latest milestone saw an estimated 6,964 gigawatt hours (GWh) generated by solar over the half-year, or 5.4% of the UK’s electricity demand. Coal produced 6,342GWh, or 4.7%.

The trend will not continue into winter because of solar’s seasonal nature, but the symbolic records reveal the dramatic impacts solar subsidies and environmental penalties for coal have wrought.

Increases in the carbon floor price last year have driven three major coal power plants – Longannet, Ferrybridge C and Rugeley – to close earlier this year. That came on top of a similar amount of coal power being closed between 2012 and 2014 because upgrading the stations to meet higher air pollution standards was deemed uneconomic……….

Solar has grown rapidly in the last six years, though figures published last week by the Office for National Statistics showed installations had crashed after the government came to power and cut the industry’s subsidies.

A spokeswoman for the Solar Trade Association (STA) said: “This is a valuable milestone on the road to renewables overtaking fossil fuels. It is a testament to just how effective the British solar industry has been at installing clean and reliable power and at bringing down costs.”

The government said last week that solar power could produce electricity more cheaply than the price agreed for a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point, but officials suggested solar would have additional costs for the National Grid.

But a new report for the STA, published on Tuesday, concluded that integrating many more solar panels into the grid would not add excessive costs to accommodate the fact the sun doesn’t always shine and backup power is required to cover solar.

“With intermittency costs today of around £1.3/MWh for solar [with around 10-12GW of solar installed], increasing to £6.8/MWh with a substantial 40GW of solar on the system by 2030, we would suggest these costs do not provide a strong argument against the further build out of renewable generation,” said the report, by the consultancy Aurora.

October 4, 2016 Posted by | renewable, UK | Leave a comment

South Africa’s renewable energy success: why are they even considering nuclear power build?

The South African government is pursuing a diversified energy mix, which includes independent power producers.
Renewables Make Up 30% Of All South African Foreign Direct Investment.
Why Is Nuclear Still On The Table?  
By Dana Sanchez September 30, 2016  South Africa is delaying the procurement process for a controversial fleet of proposed nuclear power plants but the government remains committed to nuclear expansion, an official said Thursday.
This has drawn attention to South Africa’s status as a global model for renewable energy, and raises new question about why the country is pursuing nuclear when renewables look so promising.

South Africa has the fastest growing green economy in the world, according to credit rating agency Moody’s.

“South Africa was the continent’s largest renewables market in 2015 in terms of asset finance for utility-scale projects and it saw the highest year-on-year growth globally,” said Christopher Bredholt, a Moody’s vice president, in a Sept. 16 report.  Asset finance is usually used by businesses to lease equipment without having to buy it outright, according to Finance & Leasing Association.

South Africa had the highest growth globally for asset finance in 2015 at 300 percent, representing $4.5 billion, according to Moody’s.

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October 1, 2016 Posted by | politics, renewable, South Africa | Leave a comment

From nuclear to solar power in Sacramento County

poster renewables not nuclearFrom nuclear to solar power The two cooling towers of the decommissioned Rancho Seco Nuclear Power Plant continue to stand tall across the eastern Sacramento County skyline.

A symbol of the past, the two towers got some new neighbors yesterday, that look to energize the future, and power some of Sacramento’s most iconic buildings.

With the flip of a switch, the Rancho Seco Solar plant is officially on line.

“This project will serve the two most iconic buildings in Sacramento, the new Golden One Center and the state Capitol, and it’s being done here out at Rancho Seco, one of the most iconic sites in Sacramento, so you’ve got a great juxtaposition of the old and the new here,” SMUD CEO and GM Arlen Orchard said.

The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission decommissioned Rancho Seco in 2009. The process to remove and contain all the radiation from the site took 20 years at a cost of $500 million. In all that time, thankfully no one was injured and that the infrastructure to produce and deliver energy remained intact.

“We have all the infrastructure in place to distribute the energy down into Sacramento, so it really made sense from a space, sun, and infrastructure level,” Orchard said. Over 50 percent of the energy SMUD will create this year is carbon free. The sun shining down on this facility here will generate 11 megawatts, enough electricity to power every state building in Sacramento.

“Having a state capitol that is fully powered by clean renewable energy really fits with Governor Brown’s vision,” Brian Ferguson, California general services, said.

“The Rancho Seco project created more than 200 jobs at peak construction and will provide power not just to the Golden One Center but to all of California’s department of General Services,” Michael Argentine, Lead Project Developer, said.

The solar site around Rancho Seco is currently 62 acres with over 100,000 solar cells. SMUD hopes to double the site in the next couple years as it hopes to reach its energy production goal of 75 percent carbon free sources within the next decade.

September 30, 2016 Posted by | renewable, USA | Leave a comment