Author Archives: Roger Andrews

Blowout Week 147

This week we return to the South Australian blackout followed by plus Saudi Arabia’s $17.5 billion bond sale, Iran puts up 50 oil & gas projects for lease, the USA’s first nuclear plant in 20 years goes on line, nuclear woes in France, the EU/Canada trade deal falls apart, the world’s largest solar PV farm to be built in Turkey, Vattenfall sues Germany, environmentalists sue Norway, the EPA comes under fire in US courts, UK MPs want more battery storage, UK energy bills to increase, emissions from biofuels, scientists accidentally turn CO2 into ethanol and an apartment block which is a model of sustainable luxury. Continue reading

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How much more electricity do we need to go to 100% electric vehicles?

As reported in Blowout week 146 the EU is drafting legislation to mandate the installation of electric vehicle charging stations in new homes while Germany and the Netherlands are considering legislation requiring that all cars and light vehicles sold after 2025 or 2030 must be 100% electric. None of this legislation has as yet been approved, but if it is how much extra electricity will be needed to power the millions of EVs involved, and how much will it cost? I’ve seen no numbers on this, so in this post I come up with some, starting with Germany, the Netherlands and the EU and adding a few more countries – and the world – as we go. Continue reading

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Blowout Week 146

Blowout this week begins with the EU embracing electric vehicles (EVs) and directing citizens to install charging points at home; EU and California target zero emissions; in Germany and China renewables outgrow the grid; Ontario’s broken grid; subsidies boost USA wind; global clean energy investment slumps; The Sun set to produce energy 24/7; home battery storage costs plummet 50% to $10,000; America sacrifices southern forests to save the planet; UK blackout risk averted by consumers paying £122 million; Tesla benefits from South Australia blackout; UK government plans to break the laws of thermodynamics; Baroness Worthington concedes that EU 2020 contributed to Brexit; are Putin and Erdogan the only sane leaders left?; Israeli gas heading for Europe over Turkey; hydrogen rots the minds of policy makers. Continue reading

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A more detailed look at the California grid data

In the June “Renewable California” post I presented a brief analysis of California’s progress towards its goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions at least 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 based on annual generation data. Hourly grid data for the period between April 20, 2010 and March 9, 2016 are now available, and this post reviews them to see what they add. The conclusion is basically the same as before – that despite all the legislation that California has passed in an attempt to stimulate the growth of renewables the state has not progressed at all. The percentage of renewables in California’s energy mix is still about the same as it was in 2010 and the percentage of low-carbon generation in the mix has decreased slightly. The California “Duck Curve” also remains a matter of concern. Continue reading

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Blowout Week 145

In this weeks bumper blowout: OPEC deal and oil prices; major oil find in Alaska; North Sea drilling plunges; floating nuclear in Russia; Russia suspends plutonium agreement; coal mining in India, China, USA and Poland; too much renewables; the Australian outblack; global super grid; Gibralter rules the waves; megadrought in America; fracking in the UK; coal gasification in Scotland; kite power in Scotland; UAH global warming at +0.44˚C. Continue reading

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El Hierro September 2016 performance update

During September the hybrid wind-hydro Gorona del Viento (GdV) plant achieved 58.2% renewables generation, comparable to the 55.6% achieved in August and far higher than the 19.9% achieved in September 2015. This was largely a result of the fact that the wind didn’t die early in the month as it did in September 2015. Total renewables generation since full operations began at GdV on June 27, 2015 is now 40.1%, up from 38.7% at the end of August. Continue reading

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Blowout Week 144

This week’s Blowout features a blackout, specifically the long-anticipated outage that plunged South Australia into darkness last week. But it was caused by strong winds that took down transmission lines, not by too much wind power on the grid. Or was it? Continue reading

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Does carbon capture & storage have a future in the UK?

A UK Parliamentary Advisory Group (PAG) recently published a report in which it claimed that carbon capture and storage was “critical” if the UK is to meet its CO2 emissions targets. The PAG is correct in so far as something needs to be done, but whether CCS is it is open to question. Accordingly, this post addresses the subject of whether CCS offers potential for emissions reductions on the necessary scale in the UK and concludes, as others have concluded before, that it doesn’t. Continue reading

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Blowout Week 143

In this week’s blowout we revisit the issue of £billion dumb meters, weak oil prices, Libya ramping oil production a lot, Donald Trump wooing the oil industry, Australia’s stranded coal reserves, wind frenzy in China, US wave power takes off, blackouts in Puerto Rico, the Nordlink inter-connector, Holland to close coal fired power generation, Tesla to power Europe. Continue reading

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Emissions reductions and world energy demand growth

A major obstacle to cutting global CO2 emissions is growth in world energy demand. In this post I examine world energy growth projections from a number of different sources and compare them with the growth trends that will be necessary to meet emissions reductions goals. It goes without saying that there is an enormous gulf between the two. This leaves the world with a stark choice – cut fossil fuel consumption by 80% by 2050 or suffer the consequences of global warming, whatever they may be. Continue reading

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Blowout Week 142

In this week’s bumper blowout: Hinkley Point C finally gets green light; KEPCO close to investing in new nuclear at Moorside; the oil at Gatwick Airport keeps on gushing; oil price tumbles as OPEC and IEA see oil glut continuing; Dutch gas (crucial to Europe) is in decline; Gazprom to increase gas exports to Europe; environmentalists oppose new gas pipeline to Europe; venture capital funds abandon clean energy; renewables losing ground in Japan; decarbonising transport in Europe is fanciful; solar panel glut in China; 40% of Ireland’s wind power curtailed; UK must add CCS to save consumers billions; UK electricity prices surge; first large scale tidal power deployed in Scotland; Stuart Paton on fracking, nuclear power and Scottish energy policy. Continue reading

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Solar PV capacity factors in the US – the EIA data

A post I wrote a little over two years ago concluded that solar PV capacity factors in the US ranged between 13% and 19% with an average of around 16%. Recently, however, the US Energy Information Agency published a table showing an average capacity factor of around 28% for utility-sized PV plants in the US in 2015. This post looks into the reasons for this large difference and also addresses the question of whether the EIA estimates can be used to predict future US solar PV output. Continue reading

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Blowout Week 141

In this week’s Blowout: Bumper wheat harvest in hottest year; OPEC output falls sharply in August; Apache Corporation makes billion barrel find; Caspian Sea set to add 200,000 bpd; Hurricane Energy finds more oil West of Shetland; US rigs up 7; Rosatom to build 16 nukes in Saudi; Iran begins work on second nuke; UK government may take a stake in Hinkley and renegotiate deal; Corbyn to ban fracking; coal prices surge; global coal consumption rising; 100% renewables in Costa Rica; one new turbine a day in Scotland; US may outlaw biomass in power sector; renewable heat strategy failing in UK; Spain replaces old solar modules; global warming causes profanity. Continue reading

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Electricity and energy in the G20

While governments fixate on cutting emissions from the electricity sector, the larger problem of cutting emissions from the non-electricity sector is generally ignored. In this post I present data from the G20 countries, which between them consume 80% of the world’s energy, summarizing the present situation. The results show that the G20 countries obtain only 41.5% of their total energy from electricity and the remaining 58.5% dominantly from oil, coal and gas consumed in the non-electric sector (transportation, industrial processes, heating etc). So even if they eventually succeed in obtaining all their electricity from low-carbon sources they would still be getting more than half their energy from high-carbon sources if no progress is made in decarbonizing their non-electric sectors. Continue reading

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Blowout Week 140

This week’s Blowout focuses on the “formal commitment” of Presidents Xi of China and Obama of the U.S. to the Paris Climate Accord. Xi may be in a position to commit China but it’s questionable whether Obama has the ability to commit the U.S. without congressional approval. The last time the U.S. signed a major climate accord (Kyoto in 1997) it was promptly and unanimously repudiated by the U.S. Senate: Continue reading

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El Hierro August 2016 performance update

During August the hybrid wind-hydro Gorona del Viento (GdV) plant achieved 55.6% renewables generation, higher than the 47.9% achieved in August 2015 but lower than the 65.9% achieved in July. The decrease relative to July was a caused by wind lulls and the increase relative to 2015 was a result of two periods of 100% renewables generation totalling 79 hours. Total renewables generation since full operations began at GdV in June 2015 is now 38.7%, up from 37.8% at the beginning of the month. Continue reading

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Blowout Week 139

Elsewhere in this week’s Blowout: Iran / OPEC deal on the cards; China accused of nuclear espionage; UK government looks for ways to torpedo Hinkley Point; Fessenheim nuclear power plant in France to close; coking coal price on the rise; £200 million pumped storage hydro scheme on Lewis; National grid clutching at straw batteries; Telegraph living in the real world; Tesla cramming in more electrons; Human caused climate change started in 1830; Air Africa to run on Woodbines; France opts for tree wind power over nuclear power. Continue reading

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An update on the Energiewende

Germany is still pursuing its goal of shutting down its nuclear plants but refuses to shut down its lignite plants. It is slashing renewable energy subsidies and replacing them with an auction/quota system. Public opposition is delaying the construction of the power lines that are needed to distribute Germany’s renewables generation efficiently. Renewables investment has fallen to levels insufficient to build enough new capacity to meet Germany’s 2020 emissions reduction target. There is also no evidence that renewables are having a detectable impact on Germany’s emissions, which have not decreased since 2009 despite a doubling of renewables penetration in the electricity sector. It now seems certain that Germany will miss its 2020 emissions reduction target, quite possibly by a wide margin. In short, the Energiewende is starting to unravel. Continue reading

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Blowout Week 138

This week’s Blowout features the arrival within the next few weeks of the first of many shiploads of US fracked shale gas scheduled to be delivered to Scotland, which fracking supporters hope will “undermine arguments against fracking for shale gas in Scotland’s central belt”. The SHALE GAS FOR PROGRESS painted on the ships’ sides alone (inset) will be like a red rag to a bull to the anti-frackers, so prepare for protests: Continue reading

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The Holy Grail of Battery Storage

A recent Telegraph article claims that storage battery technology is now advancing so fast that “we may never again need to build 20th Century power plants in this country, let alone a nuclear white elephant such as Hinkley Point” and that the “Holy Grail of energy policy” – a storage battery cost of $100/kWh – will be reached in “relatively short order”. This brief post shines the cold light of reality on these claims by calculating battery storage costs based on the storage requirements for specific cases estimated in previous Energy Matters posts. Continue reading

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