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”

Harvesting renewable energy from the sun and outer space at the same time

Credit: Linda Cicero, Stanford News

Scientists at Stanford University have demonstrated for the first time that heat from the sun and coldness from outer space can be collected simultaneously with a single device. Their research, published November 8 in the journal Joule, suggests that devices for harvesting solar and space energy will not compete for land space and can actually help each other function more efficiently.

Renewable energy is increasingly popular as an economical and efficient alternative to fossil fuels, with solar energy topping charts as the worldwide favorite. But there is another powerful energy source overhead that can perform just the opposite function — outer space.

“It is widely recognized that the sun is a perfect heat source nature offers human beings on Earth,” says Zhen Chen, the first author of the study, who is a former postdoctoral research associate at Stanford in the group of Shanhui Fan and is currently a professor at the Southeast University of China. “It is less widely recognized that nature also offers human beings outer space as a perfect heat sink.”

Continue reading “Harvesting renewable energy from the sun and outer space at the same time”

Panda Green buys 70 MW of solar projects in Inner Mongolia

Pic: zhu difeng/Shutterstock.com

China’s Panda Green Energy Group Ltd (HKG:0686) said on Thursday it has closed the acquisition of 70 MW of solar park projects in Inner Mongolia in two deals totalling CNY 99 million (USD 1.6m/EUR 1.4m).

More specifically, the Chinese firm has purchased 100% of solar power generation firm Zhuozi Luyang New Energy Co Ltd, which owns a 20-MW photovoltaic (PV) project in Ulanqab for CNY 17.8 million. In a separate transaction, it has also bought an 80% interest in Chinese company Hangjinhouqi Guodian Photovoltaics Electricity Co Ltd and its 50-MW solar project in Bayannur, paying CNY 81.2 million. Continue reading “Panda Green buys 70 MW of solar projects in Inner Mongolia”

Solar beats wind in Germany’s mixed tender, avg win at EUR 46.7/MWh

SunPower’s Bavaria solar park in Germany. Author: pgegreenenergy. License: Creative Commons, Attribution 2.0 Generic.

Germany’s first mixed tender for onshore wind and solar was won by solar projects only, with the average successful bid arriving at EUR 0.0467 (USD 0.058) per kWh.

Germany’s Federal Network Agency, or Bundesnetzagentur, said today the winning projects have a combined capacity of 210 MW. The lowest successful bid was of EUR 0.0396/kWh and the highest was of EUR 0.0576/kWh.

In a 200-MW solar-only tender completed in February, 24 projects won at an even lower average price of EUR 0.0433 per kWh

The mixed wind and solar tender allowed photovoltaic (PV) projects on arable land and grassland in less-favoured areas in Baden-Wuerttemberg and Bavaria to compete. The list of winners includes 31 MW in Bavaria and 17 MW in Baden-Wuerttemberg. Continue reading “Solar beats wind in Germany’s mixed tender, avg win at EUR 46.7/MWh”

Developing markets take prominent spot in Q1 clean energy investment

Solar farm. Author: iamme ubeyou. License: CC0 1.0 Universal.

The first quarter (Q1) of 2018 saw global clean energy investment decrease to USD 61.1 billion (EUR 49.4bn) as solar investments dipped, but was marked by prominent outgrowth in development markets, with several “eye-catching projects” reaching financial close there.

The January-March total was 10% lower in annual terms, show figures from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) released on Wednesday. “The global first quarter figures are the lowest for any quarter since 3Q 2016, but it’s too early to predict a fall in annual investment this year,” said BNEF analyst Abraham Louw.

The weaker Q1 figures included a 19% year-on-year drop in solar investment to USD 37.4 billion due to decreased activity in some markets and lower prices of photovoltaic (PV) systems. According to BNEF, the benchmark global dollar capital costs per MW for utility-scale solar slipped by 7% in the past year and also contributed to the overall decline.

The quarter saw a rebound in investment in developing countries as several renewable energy projects in Morocco, Vietnam, Indonesia and Mexico reached financial close. The biggest one was the 800-MW Noor Midelt solar project in Morocco, estimated at around USD 2.4 billion.

Meanwhile, global investment in wind rose by 10% in the three months to USD 18.9 billion. Continue reading “Developing markets take prominent spot in Q1 clean energy investment”

A Greener Path To Commerce: Exploring The Future Of Renewable Energy

Image: shutterstock

Green and renewable energy has unsurprisingly been a large part of the conversation this year — especially amongst consumers. As a result, from homeowners to large corporations, a wide variety of energy consumers are exploring new ways to find and provide sustainable energy sources. The increasing demand for affordable green energy solutions means that both retailers and energy companies need to increase & expand their footprint. If they want to retain and attract new customers, it’s a modern expectation that will need to be met and exceeded.

Green Commerce Today

Earlier this year, Bain capital shared insights on how retailers have been looking to cut the carbon footprint. A Walmart study shed some light on the importance of having several items being shipped together and avoiding split shipments, which typically happen when those items are not immediately available at the distribution center. If two items are shipped separately, the emissions is 35% higher when compared to the items being shipped together. It was concluded that the lowest emissions channel was a factor of how many items a customer would purchase. 

Continue reading “A Greener Path To Commerce: Exploring The Future Of Renewable Energy”

Solar and wind over biomass the ‘smart economic choice’ for UK power

Powering the UK on wind and solar is not only possible, but the “smart economic choice” according to a new report which has condemned the future prospects of biomass in the country.

Earlier this week the US-based Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) released its ‘Money to Burn II’ report, a follow-up to its landmark report from last year, concluding that the UK should look towards onshore wind, solar and natural gas for its electricity.

The report, compiled alongside UK-based economics consultancy Vivid Economics, claims that solar and onshore wind would be the least cost option to decarbonising the country’s power supply and issues a damning indictment of biomass technology and, in particular, coal-to-biomass conversions. Continue reading “Solar and wind over biomass the ‘smart economic choice’ for UK power”

Facebook Data Center Makes Good on Renewable Energy Pledge

Facebook is now closer to reaching their goal of 100 percent sustainability with a new data center.

Pic: CNN

As Facebook continues planning the construction of future data centers, their goal remains to eventually have “100 percent clean and renewable energy in our mix for our entire operations,” said Lindsay Amos, Technology Communications Manager at Facebook. The Facebook data center in New Albany will help solidify the company’s commitment to sustainability.

Once achieved, Facebook will be joining the ranks of Netflix, Kohls, and REI which are currently sourcing 100 percent of their electricity from renewable energy.
Ohio’s Facebook Data Center
boss magazine, aerial view of facebook data center Continue reading “Facebook Data Center Makes Good on Renewable Energy Pledge”

Wind and solar expected to supply third of global power by 2040

The plunging cost of wind and solar power mean they will be cheaper than coal-fired generation in many countries within five years, and will provide a third of the world’s electricity in about 25 years, a leading analysis firm has predicted.

It gives a very different view of the energy outlook from the projections set out by large oil companies such as ExxonMobil, demonstrating the uncertainties that exist in any assessment of possible futures for the industry.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which compiles the most widely-used data on investment in renewables, says unsubsidised solar power costs less than electricity from new coal-fired plants in the US, Germany and Australia, and by 2021 will reach that tipping point in other countries including China, India, Britain and Mexico.

In its New Energy Outlook report, published on Thursday, BNEF predicts that by 2040, 34 per cent of the world’s electricity will come from wind and solar power, up from 5 per cent today.

By contrast, Exxon’s most recent forecast is that all renewable sources excluding hydro power will provide just 11 per cent of the world’s electricity in 2040.

Big oil companies including Exxon, BP and Statoil produce regular assessments of the outlook for world energy over the next 25 years or so, which are used internally to inform investment decisions, and externally to try to influence public and political debate.

The divergence of views about the outlook is a reminder that these forecasts are well-informed estimates rather than infallible predictions.

Oil companies argue the advantages of fossil fuels, including high energy density, ease of storage, flexibility and cost, means they will continue to dominate the energy landscape for decades to come.

Ethan Zindler, analyst at BNEF, said there could nevertheless be very significant changes in the global energy mix by 2040.

“Given the rate of change that we have already seen in the power sector, to assume a status quo scenario is a risky forecast,” he added.

Over the past nine years, the cost of wind power has dropped by 71 per cent, and solar by 83 per cent, in the US. BNEF projects these expense declines into the future, predicting that the levelised cost of electricity will by 2040 drop by 47 per cent for onshore wind and 66 per cent for photo-voltaic solar.

These price declines mean that in the BNEF forecast, renewables become increasingly competitive against both coal and gas-fired power generation, without any government subsidies.

On the BNEF projections, new large-scale solar power plants are expected to become cheaper sources of electricity than new coal-fired equivalents some time between 2019 and 2021. In the US, onshore wind and large-scale solar are expected by 2023 to become cheaper than new gas-fired plants, which are now the most competitive form of power generation.
The International Energy Agency, the government-backed research group, publishes scenarios for future energy outcomes that suggest that unless there is a greater policy push, the adoption of wind and solar power is on course to be faster than expected by Exxon, but much slower than is suggested by BNEF.

In its World Energy Outlook last year, the IEA published a “new policies scenario”, reflecting countries’ policy commitments including pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions that showed renewables except for hydro power accounting for 21 per cent of world electricity generation in 2040.

However Mr Zindler said BNEF did not make any assumptions about new policies to support renewable energy in its forecasts of faster growth.

It still expects fossil fuels to provide a significant proportion of the world’s electricity in 2040, with 6 per cent of power coming from gas and 22 per cent from coal. Fossil fuels will be needed to back up variable renewable sources, and the existing stock of gas and coal-fired plants will remain viable for a long time.

However, BNEF expects that the great majority of new investment in the power sector will go into renewables. It forecasts $7.4tn of capital spending on wind and solar worldwide between now and 2040, about three-quarters of all investment in power generation.

BNEF points out that even if its projections are correct, the world’s carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector will be only about 4 per cent lower in 2040 than they are today.

To hit the trajectories that might be needed to stand a good chance of keeping global warming to the internationally-agreed objective of “well below” 2C, more radical action would be needed, said Mr Zindler.

Article source: The Financial Times