In a departure from the normal format I’m kicking off today with a few stories from Germany sent by Hubert Flocard. The second link should go to a Google translate page where the general gist of the stories should be apparent.
Else where there is news of renewables subsidies being cut everywhere, nuclear power expansion everywhere bar Europe, oil price woes, concentrating solar power in Chile, the marijuana harvest straining the US grid and France opts for cheese power over nuclear power.
Die Herbststürme sorgen für einen neuen Windstrom-Rekord in Deutschland. Doch die Leitungen sind überlastet. Damit das Netz stabil bleibt, muss fossiler Strom aus Österreich her. Das kostet.
The autumn storms make for a new wind energy record in Germany. However, the lines are congested. Thus, the network remains stable, fossil electricity from Austria must be found. It costs.
“At around 32,600 megawatts yesterday reached a new record high, the wind feed in Germany”, the reported TSOs Tennet on Thursday: “The wind feed has thus still exceeded the value of 2014, which was in Germany at around 29,000 megawatts.”
Weil Stromleitungen fehlen, müssen Windparks immer öfter abgeschaltet werden. Doch die Wind-Unternehmer werden auch fürs Nichtproduzieren bezahlt. Die Kosten dafür steigen rapide an.
Because power lines are missing, wind farms need to be shut more often. But the wind-entrepreneurs are also paid for not producing. The costs increase rapidly.
That many consumers in the coming year a higher electricity bill will flutter into the house, German Economics Minister Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) had already indicated: After increasing the so-called EEG levy to subsidize green energy production in the coming year to a record high of 6.35 cents per kilowatt hour.
Deutschlands Energiepolitik steht vor einem grundlegenden Wandel: Nach “Spiegel-Online”-Informationen plant die Bundesregierung, die Ökostrom-Förderung ab 2017 zu 80 Prozent per Auktion zu vergeben.
The fixed feed-in tariffs for renewable energy should be almost completely abolished. This emerges from a framework paper of the Federal Ministry of Economics for the coming Renewable Energies Act shows that SPIEGEL ONLINE.
Builders of new wind farms on land and at sea and of solar systems must therefore compete in auctions from 2017 to today. This corresponds to 80 percent of the current amount of newly built eco-electricity plants.
Offshore-Windparks sollen künftig in Auktionen vergeben werden. Die Branche fürchtet eine Verstaatlichung von Planungsarbeiten, die damit einhergeht. Einen Gewinner könnte es allerdings geben.
Offshore wind farms are to be awarded in future auctions. The industry fears the nationalization of planning work that goes with it. There could be a winner, however.
In the coming years, Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) led federal Economics Ministry therefore wants to completely change the system for the expansion of renewable energies: For many years, could energy companies or cooperatives of residents wind turbines, solar panels and biogas plants without major restrictions bring to the grid, but they get 20-year fixed feed-in tariffs. Since 2014, the annual expansion of renewable energies within limits is determined. On top of that auction procedures are introduced in the coming years: the most favorable provider receives then applicable to all bidders framework contract for a new Ökokraftwerk. Ultimately, that means more government involvement in the now already proliferating planned economy of this major project energy turnaround.
Solar panel subsidy cuts could result in 18,700 job losses, ministers have admitted, as they confirmed payments to homeowners would be slashed in the new year.
The Government on Thursday said it would cut level of ‘feed in tariff’ subsidies for rooftop solar panels by 64pc – less severe than an 87pc cut first proposed in August.
The drastic reduction is nevertheless expected to deter more than 700,000 of the 900,000 households that would otherwise have installed the panels over the next five years.
China will cut the preferential rate it offers wind and solar power developers to reflect the decline in construction costs.
Tariffs for newly-built onshore wind farms will be cut by as much as 4 percent in 2016 from current levels and by another 6 percent in 2018 from 2016 tariff levels, according to a statement posted on the website of the National Development and Reform Commission. Reductions for new solar power projects will be as much as 11 percent in 2016.
Clean Technica: Pakistan Cuts Solar Power Tariff By 25%
The fear of several investors looking to expand their footprint into Pakistan’s solar power sector seem to have come true as the national electricity regulator announced a sharp cut in feed-in tariffs.
Pakistan’s National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) has announced tariff reduction for solar power projects by around 25%. The new tariffs will be applicable for new projects starting 1 January 2016. At present, the tariff of US¢14.15-15.02/kWh is available to solar power projects based on their size, which can vary between 1 and 100 MW.
The EU energy governance report, states that the European Union is in danger of missing the binding targets to reduce emissions by 40% and ensure that at least a quarter of energy production is from renewable sources by 2030, if greater cooperation and cross-border transactions aren’t heavily implemented.
Baroness Scott of Needham Market, Chairman of the Committee, said: “The question for the EU is how to meet the twin challenges of reducing our reliance on fossil fuels while also ensuring abundant and affordable energy supply. We think the European Commission’s flagship Energy Union Strategy is broadly on the right lines but now is the time to ensure it is delivered by across Europe and by Member States domestically.
Ministers have been accused of wasting millions of pounds of consumers’ money after insisting every household must be offered a gadget to display their energy usage – despite new evidence suggesting most families won’t use them.
The display units, which cost about £15 each to produce, are to be handed out ‘free of charge’ to consumers as part of the Government’s scheme to install “smart” gas and electricity meter in every home by 2020. The meters will send data back to suppliers, ending estimated billing.
A key Government argument for the £11 billion scheme is that households will also be able to monitor their energy usage in real-time via the display units, encouraging them to use less energy and save money.
Although households will face no up-front charge for the devices – meaning most are expected to accept one – their cost will be paid for by all consumers through levies on their energy bills for years to come.
Telegraph: Energy security is a cause for concern
In The Road to Wigan Pier, George Orwell said “our civilisation is founded on coal, more completely than one realises until one stops to think about it”. At that time, in 1937, the mining industry employed more than one million men and powered the nation – but was already in decline. Coal production peaked in 1913 when more than 1,500 pits extracted some 290 million tons. By last year that had fallen to under four million. And today, the last deep mine in the United Kingdom, at Kellingley in Yorkshire, is to close. A small number of open-cast mines will be the only remaining producers and they may go within 10 years as the UK abandons coal entirely.
Sharma’s company, Carbon Clean Solutions, is backed by £3.4m UK government funding, has a laboratory at Imperial College London and aims to make capturing carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels affordable. The company’s technology – a special chemical – is currently being evaluated at the world’s biggest carbon capture test site in Norway and by companies in Europe, India and the US.
Making carbon capture and storage (CCS) work is seen as vital by both the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the UK’s official advisers, the Committee on Climate Change. Halting global warming without CCS will be twice as costly, they say.
The Guardian: Government’s miserable record on energy policy
The business leaders, academics and environmentalists warning that we need a major U-turn in UK energy policy (Government ‘must change course’ after climate pact, 14 December) were clearly correct. They were focusing rightly on the need for renewables and energy conservation to meet greenhouse gas emissions targets. But it is also worth focusing on how we need many of the environmental measures that the government has cut back, delayed or abolished for economic and social reasons.
Rising more than 200 metres above the vast, deserted plains of the Atacama desert, the second tallest building in Chile sits in such a remote location that it looks, from a distance, like the sanctuary of a reclusive prophet, a temple to ancient gods or the giant folly of a wealthy eccentric.
Instead, this extraordinary structure is a solar power tower that is being built to harvest the energy of the sun via a growing field of giant mirrors that radiate out for more than a kilometre across the ground below with a geometric precision that is reminiscent of contemporary art or the stone circles of the druids.
Still under construction, the Atacama 1 Concentrated Solar Power plant is a symbol of the shift from dirty fossil fuels to a cleaner, smarter way to generate electricity in Chile which is leading the charge for solar in Latin America thanks to its expanses of wilderness and some of the most intense sunlight on Earth.
Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions increased in 2014-15, a report released with obscure timing by the Australian government has shown.
The December 2015 quarterly update of carbon emissions, which covers the period to the end of June 2015, was released with no fanfare on Christmas Eve. The quarterly update forms part of Australia’s international reporting of its emissions
It shows that Australia’s emissions increased by 0.8% last financial year compared with the previous one, and 1.3% when land use and deforestation were taken into account. Australia generated 549.3 mega-tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2014-15.
The oil price is staging a pre-Christmas rally, on the back of better-than-expected inventory data and a broadly bullish report from the Opec producer cartel.
International benchmark Brent crude had fallen to below $36 a barrel on Tuesday, the third consecutive session it had hit a new 11-year low. Yesterday afternoon it began to lift and rose to around $36.50, before the latest data from the US energy watchdog gave the upwards move an added push.
The data from the Energy Information Administration showed US stockpiles fell by around 5.8 million barrels last year, notes Reuters, far better than the 1.1 million rise expected, which helped ease concerns about oversupply. Brent contracts were changing hands for $37.70 this morning.
This week marked the first in five years the US benchmark has reached parity with Brent, after a 40-year-old ban on exports by US producers was lifted in Washington. West Texas Intermediate was trading slightly higher this morning, at around $37.80.
The price of oil keeps dropping. But that didn’t stop a work crew from drilling a well recently on what was once a cornfield, carefully guiding the last sections of 13,000 feet of pipe spiraling into the hard Niobrara shale with a diamond-tipped bit.
Their well, one of hundreds drilled by Anadarko Petroleum in eastern Colorado’s Wattenberg field this year, could someday gush as many as 800 barrels of crude oil a day. But Anadarko is not planning to produce a drop of crude from the well for at least another year because the price of oil is now so pitifully low.
The well here is just one of more than 4,000 drilled oil and natural gas wells across the country producing nothing, but ready to be tapped quickly.
TOKYO—A Japanese court said Thursday that the restart of two Kansai Electric Power Co. nuclear reactors could go ahead, reversing an earlier ruling and speeding up the return of nuclear power to Japan after the 2011 Fukushima accident.
MUMBAI Electricity-hungry India is turning into a major battleground for nuclear power plant providers.
India already has 21 reactors in operation at seven sites, and the government plans to more than double the country’s nuclear generation capacity to around 13,500 megawatts over the next five years. It is aiming for an elevenfold increase by 2050.
A number of India’s existing nuclear plants are the result of collaboration with foreign companies, including GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy and Westinghouse Electric of the U.S. and Areva of France.
South China Morning Post: Nuclear energy ‘essential’ to meet China’s climate targets, top official says
Nuclear energy is “essential” to meet mainland China’s 2030 climate targets, the nation’s top climate negotiator Xie Zhenhua told a news conference in Beijing on Wednesday.
But he said safety would be a priority, and the government was still considering when and where to launch inland nuclear projects.
“If we want to substantially reduce our dependence on coal and thermal power, renewable energies alone will not be able to account for as much as 20 per cent in total energy supply by 2030. We will definitely need nuclear energy,” Xie said.
The Economic Times: Coal India output up 9% over last year’s production
NEW DELHI: Government today said coal output by state-owned CIL crossed 9 per cent over last year’s production adding that there is “still a very long way to go” amid the PSU eyeing one billion tonnes production target.
“Coal production by Coal India crosses 9 per cent over last year’s record production. Well done. Keep it going. Still a very long way to go,” Coal Secretary Anil Swarup said in a tweet.
At the end of last week, the last deep coal mine in the U.K. and one of the three remaining ones in Germany closed forever. It seems symbolic, of course, in light of the new Paris climate agreement and Europe’s role as the global leader in sustainable, no-carbon energy, but the mines aren’t closing because of the green energy transition. The coal era is far from over in Europe, and the U.S. shale revolution is largely to blame for that.
The European Union still produces about a quarter of its electricity from coal. Germany, the continent’s largest economy and its biggest producer of wind and solar energy, generates 45 percent of its electricity from different kinds of coal. In the U.K., the share of coal in the energy mix is still above 20 percent, though renewable energy has overtaken it.
Global demand for OPEC’s crude will be lower in 2020 than next year as supply from rivals proves more resilient than expected, potentially fuelling a debate on the merits of its strategy to let prices fall to hurt other producers.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, which a year ago refused to cut supply to retain market share against higher-cost rivals, in its 2015 World Oil Outlook raised its global supply forecasts for tight oil, which includes shale, despite a collapse in prices.
Russia is beefing up its military presence in the Arctic, sending troops and missiles to strengthen its position in the competition for the region’s extensive oil and gas reserves.
As well as deploying advanced anti-aircraft missiles to the region, President Vladimir Putin is overseeing the completion of six new bases designed to see off foreign competition for the natural resources.
It is estimated that billions of tonnes of oil and gas lie beneath the seabed, which is currently disputed territory.
STOCKHOLM — If governments are serious about the global warming targets they adopted in Paris, scientists say they have two options: eliminating fossil fuels immediately or finding ways to undo their damage to the climate system in the future.
The first is politically impossible — the world is still hooked on using oil, coal and natural gas — which leaves the option of a major cleanup of the atmosphere later this century.
“The problem’s not solved because of this accord, but make no mistake, the Paris agreement establishes the enduring framework the world needs to solve the climate crisis,” President Obama said in a speech from the White House’s Cabinet Room. “It creates the mechanism, the architecture, for us to continually tackle this problem in an effective way.”
Salt Lake Tribune: As marijuana industry expands, power demand taxes U.S. grids
The $3.5 billion U.S. cannabis market is emerging as one of the nation’s most power-hungry industries, with the 24-hour demands of thousands of indoor growing sites taxing aging electricity grids and unraveling hard-earned gains in energy conservation.
Without design standards or efficient equipment, the facilities in the 23 states where marijuana is legal are responsible for greenhouse-gas emissions almost equal to those of every car, home and business in New Hampshire. While reams of regulations cover everything from tracking individual plants to package labeling to advertising, they lack requirements to reduce energy waste.
Generating electricity from cheese could be the plot of an Asterix comic book, but that is exactly what is happening at a new power plant in the French Alps.
A by-product of Beaufort cheese, skimmed whey, is converted into biogas, a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide, at the plant in Albertville, in Savoie.
Bacteria are added to the whey to produce the gas, which is then used to generate electricity that is sold to the energy company EDF.