More French wind will mean cheaper electricity

Large-scale deployment of wind and solar capacity, combined with progressive closures of nuclear plants, is the best way to reduce the cost of electricity, according to a new report by the French Environment and Energy Management Agency (Ademe).

The report compares seven scenarios for the evolution of France’s electricity mix 2020-2060 from a purely economic standpoint.

It concludes that the optimum is for renewables to supply around 85% of demand in 2050 and at least 95% in 2060. This compares to roughly 20% today.

The report will feed into the debate now taking place on France’s recently announced draft energy plan, or PPE.

Importantly, Ademe takes a long-term perspective, looking forward to 2060. Continue reading “More French wind will mean cheaper electricity”

Can Renewable Energy Solve the Global Water Crisis?

You may feel used to stepping up to the faucet, turning the handle and immediately unleashing a steady stream of water, but that’s not the case for many people around the world. For approximately 2.1 billion people — that’s roughly 30 percent of the world’s population — clean water to drink isn’t a given. The World Health Organization (WHO) notes this is the number of people without instant access to safe drinking water at home, and the results of drinking contaminated water are catastrophic.
Can Renewable Energy Solve the Global Water Crisis?

Without clean drinking water, disease spreads. And it hits those with compromised immune systems, such as children, harder than others. In fact, WHO also states that a whopping 361,000 children under the age of five die every year due to a common and seemingly innocuous complication of drinking contaminated water — diarrhea.

But there is a ray of hope. Renewable sources of energy could drastically reduce the amount of fresh water the world requires. Continue reading “Can Renewable Energy Solve the Global Water Crisis?”

100 U.S. cities commit to 100% renewable energy

On December 5, Cincinnati, Ohio became the 100th city in the nation to establish this goal when its City Council approved a resolution committing to 100% renewable energy by 2035.

Cincinnati’s community-wide commitment builds upon its Green Cincinnati Plan from May, which commits the city to powering its municipal operations with 100% renewable energy and advances other aggressive climate measures aimed at creating an equitable energy system.

“It has become clear that cities will lead the global effort to fight climate change, and Cincinnati is on the front lines,” said Mayor John Cranley of Cincinnati, Ohio. “I am encouraged by the changes we are making, but we have a lot of work left to do.”

Recently, Cincinnati was announced as a winner of the Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge. Cincinnati is the second city in Ohio to commit to an equitable and just transition to 100% clean energy, after Cleveland.

In addition to the 100 cities, the states of California and Hawaii have adopted goals to be powered entirely by renewable sources of energy, like wind and solar. The full list of commitments can be found here. Continue reading “100 U.S. cities commit to 100% renewable energy”

Windy Weather Carries Britain to Renewable Energy Record

Photograph: Darren Cool/E.On/PA

Storm Diana brought travel chaos to road, rail and airports, but the clouds did have a silver lining: the strong winds helped set a renewable energy record.

Windfarms supplied about a third of the UK’s electricity between 6pm and 6.30pm on Wednesday, a time of peak energy demand. Output hit a high of 14.9GW, beating a previous record of 14.5GW.

The milestone coincides with the official opening on Friday of E.ON’s Rampion windfarm off the coast near Brighton, which is the first in the Channel and can power about 350,000 homes.

Blustery weather has buoyed wind output in the past few days, with National Grid reporting thousands of wind turbines were the UK’s No 1 source of power across Wednesday and Thursday, at about 32% of generation. Gas power stations are usually top. Continue reading “Windy Weather Carries Britain to Renewable Energy Record”

Forestry Industry Eyes Bid to Boost its Economic Growth to £2bn a Year by 2030

 A new strategy for Scotland’s forestry industries is seeking to harness the opportunities of natural wood fibre to double the  sector’s economic growth to £2 billion a year by 2030.

Launched by the Scottish Forest and Timber Technologies Industry Leadership Group, the Roots for Further Growth strategy sets out a vision for economic growth up to 2030. The strategy has five strategic priorities:

• Maximise the economic outputs of Scotland’s forest and fibre resource.

• Improve the safety and efficiency of the wood fibre supply chain.

• Expand markets and add value.

• Develop a workforce with skills for the future which supports inclusive growth.

• Understand and communicate the forest and wood-based industries’ contributions to Scotland’s economy.

Chair of the leadership group and chair of the BSW Timber Group, Martin Gale, presented the strategy to Fergus Ewing, Rural Economy Secretary, during a visit to Edinburgh Napier University’s Institute of Sustainable Construction, where they witnessed some structural testing of potential new wood products.

Mr Gale said: “I am delighted to launch the Roots for Further Growth strategy. The Forest and Timber Technologies sector is an important sector for Scotland’s economy. Over the last decade the sector has grown significantly and our ambition is to double our contribution to the Scottish economy by 2030. Continue reading “Forestry Industry Eyes Bid to Boost its Economic Growth to £2bn a Year by 2030”

EU forest agreement with Vietnam aims for ‘clean’ timber

Photo: AFP/Stew Magnuson

The European Union has signed a controversial agreement to support Vietnam’s forest governance improvement goals, aimed at ensuring that the timber it imports from the Southeast Asian country is legally sourced.

The Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) was signed on October 19 in Brussels by Federica Mogherini, the EU high representative for foreign affairs, and Nguyen Xuan Cuong, Vietnam’s minister of agriculture.

The implementation of the VPA will involve multiple steps, according to Bruno Angelet, ambassador of the EU delegation to Vietnam. Continue reading “EU forest agreement with Vietnam aims for ‘clean’ timber”

Why Governments Are Less Important To Renewable Energy, As Demonstrated By Spain

Flickr/Som Energia Cooperativa

Spain’s government has set the target for 100% of its electricity to come from renewables by 2050, but the reality is that the private sector will probably have more to do with hitting that target than the authorities in Madrid. It will probably happen sometime before 2050 as well.

Solar power is already the cheapest form of power when compared to market prices. The chief of the country’s solar trade association claimed last year that there was a pipeline of 29GW of photovoltaic (PV) projects proposed for private companies. That is to say, projects that will be for the sole use of large energy users and either directly or virtually plugged into their facilities. The power purchase agreements (PPAs) are popular among the likes of Facebook and Google in the US and for nervous investors, they offer projects to sink their capital into without taking on the risk associated with relying on a government. Their hesitancy is understandable. Continue reading “Why Governments Are Less Important To Renewable Energy, As Demonstrated By Spain”

How ‘miniature suns’ could provide cheap, clean energy

Pic: Getty Image

We’re just five years away from harnessing almost unlimited power from “miniature suns”, some start-ups say: nuclear fusion reactors that could provide abundant, cheap and clean energy.

In a world of global warming caused by our addiction to fossil fuels, there is an urgent need to find sustainable alternative sources of energy.

If we don’t, the future looks decidedly bleak for millions of people on this planet: water and food shortages leading to famine and war.

Nuclear fusion has long been heralded as a potential answer to our prayers. But it’s always been “thirty years away”, according to the industry joke.

Now several start-ups are saying they can make fusion a commercial reality much sooner. Continue reading “How ‘miniature suns’ could provide cheap, clean energy”

California wildfires: Is Trump right when he blames forest managers?

President Trump has blamed “poor forest management” in California for the wildfires that have swept across the state.

In a couple of tweets, he has suggested that the state has not managed its forests properly, despite receiving “billions of dollars” each year.

The comments came shortly after he issued an emergency declaration to allow US federal government funds to be used to tackle three blazes in the state.

There was an angry response from firefighters, including the president of the California Professional Firefighters, who said the assertion forest management policy was to blame was “dangerously wrong”.

The International Federation of Firefighters – which represents members across the US and Canada – attacked President Trump for suggesting he might cut off funding.

Some of those fighting the recent fires have also pointed out that fires have started in open scrub or grassland rather than in forests.

The comments have also been criticised by some experts who say they ignore the bigger picture of climate change and population shifts in the state.

But is there any substance in the president’s remarks about forest management? Continue reading “California wildfires: Is Trump right when he blames forest managers?”

Regulated tariffs under fire as clean energy gains momentum

[Image source: Duke Energy / Flickr]
Electricity prices regulated by the government are commonplace in Europe, chiefly out of concern for vulnerable consumers. But they also undermine the adoption of innovative demand-response technologies, which are key to integrate higher shares of renewables and electric cars.

Real-time prices are considered essential to unlocking the next generation of digital demand-response technologies, which allow consumers to react to price signals and use electricity when it’s cheapest – for example during office hours or at night.

That was the logic behind the European Commission’s proposed reform of electricity market rules, which promised to put consumers in the driving seat of a revolution in the way power is produced, traded and consumed across Europe. Continue reading “Regulated tariffs under fire as clean energy gains momentum”