This week we return again to blackouts. We’ve been wondering where the inability of intermittent renewables to replace dispatchable fossil fuel capacity would cause the lights to go out first, and the fates seem to have chosen Australia – a country with abundant coal and uranium resources:
New Daily: Power blackout tipped to spread nationwide
As Australia remains in the grip of a heatwave, the federal government has been warned of potential nationwide blackouts.
The oppressive temperatures scorching much of Australia has already led to blackouts in South Australia, with the Coalition blaming the state’s energy shortfall on its reliance on renewable energy, sparking another fiery day in Parliament. But according to the Australian Energy Council (AEC) the entire nation’s system needs an immediate upgrade saying energy reliability is not just a state issue. “We’re seeing generators leave the market and we are not replacing them,” AEC chief executive officer Matthew Warren told ABC. “If you keep doing that, you will have more blackouts.” According to the Australian Energy Market Operator’s (AEMO) forecast, load shedding could cause blackouts in New South Wales on Friday. “A tightening supply/demand balance across South Australia and New South Wales over the coming days,” it said in a statement. Mr Warren said South Australia was the first to experience the power outages, “but Victoria is next”. “And if we don’t do anything about this, if we keep just doing nothing about energy policy … this will spread to New South Wales and Queensland and to the rest of the country,” he said.
Stories to follow: More on Australian blackouts; NOAA plays fast and loose with temperature data; a US carbon tax? OPEC’s production cuts; Horse Hill resource upgraded; North Sea on road to recovery; Vattenfall loses money on nuclear; fire at Flamanville; Nord Stream 2 and Europe’s energy security; do we need Yucca Mountain? radiation from power plants; Bangladesh bets on coal; wind power growth in Europe; the UK capacity auction; Brexit to hold up Anglesey nuclear plant, Russian nuclear in Hungary; Google and renewables; UK solar industry takes dim view of energy storage; climate change to overload US grid; distressed US climate scientists welcome in France and Lord’s cricket ground goes renewable.
Widespread power blackouts were imposed across Adelaide and parts of South Australia with heatwave conditions forcing authorities to impose load shedding. About 40,000 properties were without electricity supplies for about 30 minutes because of what SA Power Networks said was a direction by the Australian Energy Market Regulator. Premier Jay Weatherill blamed the national energy market for the outages saying a gas-powered generation plant in SA had not been required to come online. “The rules of the energy market are broken,” he said. “We’ll be asking for changes.” SA Power Networks said in a tweet tonight: “AEMO has instructed us to commence 100MW rotational #load shedding via Govt agreed list due to lack of available generation supply in SA.’’ State Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis was quick to lay blame, tweeting: “Every South Australian has a right to be angry. We had spare capacity in the SA generation market and the market didn’t turn that generation on.” South Australian Liberal MP Simon Birmingham said it was “yet another example that the South Australian government can’t keep the lights on”. Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg blamed the blackouts on the SA government’s renewable energy target, which he described as ‘‘madness’’.
Despite opposing a high-level nuclear waste dump in South Australia, state Liberal leader Steven Marshall is now proposing nuclear power as a potential solution to the state’s energy reliability issues. Mr Marshall made the claims after last night’s load shedding, which meant 90,000 customers lost power during extreme heat. A citizens’ jury rejected high-level nuclear waste storage in November, prompting Mr Marshall to declare plans of “turning South Australia into a nuclear waste dump” were “now dead”. But today he said that did not mean he or his party were against the production of high-level nuclear waste in South Australia, via nuclear energy generation. He said all options should be on the table to “get baseload back in South Australia”, including restarting the decommissioned Port Augusta power station — despite the demolition of one of its chimney stacks. “We need to consider reopening Port Augusta, we need to consider solar thermal, we need to consider nuclear opportunities, we need to consider pumped hydro,” he said.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in a major 2013 report, concluded global temperatures had shown a smaller increase from 1998 to 2012 than any similar period over the past 30 to 60 years. But a blockbuster, June 2015 paper by a team of federal scientists led by Thomas Karl, published in the journal Science in June 2015 and later known as the “pausebuster” paper sought to discredit the notion of a slowdown in warming. The report argued that evidence shows there was no “hiatus” in rising global temperatures and that they had been increasing in the 21st century just as quickly as in the last half of the 20th century. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, chairman of the House Science Committee, questioned the timing, noting the paper was published just before the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan was submitted to the Paris Climate Conference of 2015. Karl’s neglect of the IPCC data was purposeful, according to John Bates, a recently retired scientist from the National Climactic Data Center at the NOAA. Bates came forward just days ago to charge that the 2015 study selectively used misleading and unverified data – effectively putting NOAA’s thumb on the scale. In an interview with the Daily Mail, Bates said Karl was “insisting on decisions and scientific choices that maximized warming and minimized documentation… in an effort to discredit the notion of a global warming pause, rushed so that he could time publication to influence national and international deliberations on climate policy.”
A group of Republican elder statesmen released a plan to fight climate change on Wednesday with a proposal to replace the Obama administration’s climate policies with a tax on carbon emissions. Led by former Secretaries of State James Baker III and George Schultz and former Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson, the Climate Leadership Council says their “Carbon Dividends” plan, which includes a tax of $40 for each ton of carbon producer, is a “conservative climate solution.” They say the plan is revenue neutral and based on free-market principles. Baker told reporters that he had no assurance that the plan is “something that the administration will grab hold of,” but argued that the risks associated with climate change – even for skeptics, including himself – are too great to ignore. “We need some sort of an insurance policy and if we can get an insurance policy that is a conservative approach based on the free market, that limits government and doesn’t expand government, and that is competitive internationally — that’s a win-win,” Baker said.
A fire caused an explosion at the Flamanville nuclear power plant in northwest France on Thursday, leading the operator EDF to take a reactor offline, but there was no risk to the reactor, EDF and a local official said on Thursday. The state-owned firm said a fire in the turbine hall caused the explosion in a “non-nuclear” part of the power station. The fire was brought under control, and reactor number 1 was disconnected from the grid, EDF said, adding that although there were no injuries, five people had been affected by fumes. The Flamanville 1 and 2 reactors, which each have a electricity generating capacity of 1,300 megawatts, were built in the 1980s.
Oil prices rose more than 1 percent on Friday after news that OPEC members’ initial compliance with last year’s landmark production cut deal reached a record high. The 11 OPEC members with production targets under the deal complied with a record 92 percent of the targeted volume in January, according to the average assessments of the six secondary sources OPEC uses to monitor its output, which were seen by Reuters. The International Energy Agency (IEA) also reported on Friday that OPEC members’ cuts in January equated to 90 percent of the agreed volumes. “Some producers, notably Saudi Arabia, (are) appearing to cut by more than required,” the agency said in a report. The IEA, which advises industrial nations on energy policy, said that if current compliance levels are maintained, the global oil stocks overhang that has weighed on prices should fall by about 600,000 barrels per day (bpd) in the next six months.
An OPEC-led production cut may well be accelerating a drawdown in global oil stocks that began last year, but implementing the reduction for just six months means the producer group will fall short of achieving its objective of rebalancing the market. So far, OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia, which is contributing the biggest chunk of the cut, has said the deal does not need to be extended beyond a six-month period. The problem for OPEC is that while high compliance with the agreed production cuts will help to bring down stocks, demand underperformance and rising non-OPEC supplies could temper the effectiveness of the move. “What it (OPEC and non-OPEC cut) does is basically avoid an even worse surplus than what has been the case in 2015 and the first half of 2016,” said David Wech, managing director of consultancy JBC Energy. “But it does not eliminate (the surplus) in the first half of the year,” he added.
Hydrocarbons Technology: UK Oil & Gas unveils 53% upgrade to oil in place in Horse Hill discovery
UK Oil & Gas Investments (UKOG) has announced a new report by consultancy firm Xodus that calculated the Horse Hill Portland sandstone conventional oil accumulation as 32mmbbl of oil in Place (OIP), a 53% increase from the previously reported 21mmbbl in May 2015. UKOG executive chairman Stephen Sanderson said: “I am very encouraged by the report’s conclusions, particularly with respect to the significant further oil recovery that could be obtained from a simple water re-injection scheme. Our aim is to move towards a declaration of commerciality and stable long-term production from the Portland and Kimmeridge Limestones by the end of 2018.” In March last year, UKOG reported that the final Horse Hill-1 (HH-1) Portland test flowed at a stable dry oil rate of 323bopd, producing light, sweet, 35 API gravity crude. After analysing the Portland flow test data further and reviewing similar producing fields, Xodus estimates that the gross recoverable Portland 2C Contingent resources is 1.5mmbbl. Accordingly, net attributable Portland 2C resources are assessed at 0.5mmbbl.
Telegraph: North Sea set to roll out the barrels again
After a vicious two-year oil collapse that brought the Granite City to its knees, Britain’s oil and gas industry is daring to hope again. “In Aberdeen people are being embarrassingly nice to me,” says Philip Kirk, weeks after steering oil minnow Chrysoar through an audacious multi-billion pound deal to become one of the largest independent operators in the North Sea at a stroke. “The story around the demise of the North Sea has been overplayed. But investors are now on the cusp of understanding that this basin is not over and it’s not high cost any more. It’s beginning to dawn on people that there is opportunity to invest and make great returns – which for the past few years has been completely off the agenda,” Kirk says. Already the green shoots are beginning to show. Oil and Gas UK’s latest economic report shows over £100m of investment in the North Sea last year, helping the basin buck its 15-year trend of declining oil production with an increase of 10pc. Rising oil is expected to continue into 2017 with a swathe of start-ups expected later in the year and an estimated 20 billion barrels of oil still to be produced in the lifetime of the UK continental shelf.
Professor Alex Kemp said the chances of the North Sea fields fulfilling their remaining potential are hanging in the balance — with Donald Trump playing a pivotal role. He believes our offshore future depends on how the new US President handles a high-stakes production war with operators in Russia and the Middle East. And he fears Trump’s gung-ho approach, which has already seen him revive two controversial oil pipeline projects blocked by Barack Obama, suggests he could crank up US production again — possibly sparking another price slump and crippling North Sea output further. Prof Kemp said: “Our modelling is saying that at a price between $50 and $60 a barrel, some new investment in the North Sea might go ahead. But at $50 — not much at all.”
Oil & Gas News: UK gas-for-power demand hits six year high
UK gas-fired power generation hit a six-year high in January as day-ahead gas and power prices both climbed strongly, according to S&P Global Platts data. Gas-for-power demand stood at 2.21 billion cubic meters (Bcm) in January, recording increases of 6% month-on-month and 30% year-on-year. Cumulative gas-for-power demand for Winter 2016-17 to date stood at 8.43 Bcm, an increase of 56% on an annual basis and already 16% higher than total gas-for-power demand during the whole of Winter 2014-15. “Improved economics for UK gas plant have coincided with coal plant closures, accelerated by the UK Government’s Carbon Price Floor,” said Henry Edwardes-Evans, managing editor of Power in Europe, an S&P Global Platts publication. “This tax on CO2 emissions has hammered coal plant economics, to the point where Capacity Market subsidies are required to keep them open and bolster security of supply,” Edwardes-Evans said. Gas plant profits are under pressure again, however, with UK gas pricing supported by colder-than-average temperatures, a weak LNG delivery schedule, and more expensive Continental European hub pricing.
EUobserver: Nord Stream 2: The elephant in the room
Last week the European Commission released its second ‘State of the Energy Union’. In the area of security of supply, the Commission highlighted achievements in building natural gas interconnectors, the fact that new liquid gas (LNG) terminals entered into operation and that work had begun on parts of the Southern Gas Corridor, a gas pipeline project in the Caspian region. Notwithstanding this progress, the State of the Energy Union failed to make a single mention of the biggest issue that threatens to derail much of the work: the planned Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline between Russia and Germany. When launched the Energy Union emphasised the need to diversify energy sources, suppliers and routes to ensure secure and resilient energy supplies. Upon closer inspection, the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in fact does the opposite. The project only contributes to route diversification for the Russian state-owed gas company Gazprom as it seeks ways to reduce its dependence on Ukraine and cements the company’s dominance in the German gas market by raising its market share to over 50 percent. More worrying perhaps, it would concentrate 80 percent of Russian gas imports into a single supply route. This could hardly have been the Energy Union’s intention when it was first presented.
Plans to build a nuclear plant on Anglesey will face big challenges if the UK leaves a European nuclear cooperation institution due to Brexit, according to an expert. Prof Dr Glyn O Phillips said leaving Euratom would make it difficult to get staff for projects like Wylfa Newydd. The UK will leave the body if the bill to trigger Article 50 to start the process of leaving the EU is approved. Wylfa Newydd’s developers said it was confident any issues could be resolved. But Prof Phillips, winner of international science awards, said that withdrawal from Euratom “will be destructive to any nuclear work in the UK” as European resources have been centralised at Cern in Geneva, Switzerland. “They are trying to build a centre now in Manchester, to bring some kind of training but, in the end, all our researchers go back and forth to Cern,” he said in an interview BBC Cymru Fyw. “If that link is cut and we can’t keep the connection, then I can’t see how we could ever produce the workforce that is vital to maintain the new power stations that they are talking about.”
Huffington Post: We Need Nuclear to Seriously Address Climate Change
Nuclear power provides 63% of carbon-free electricity and prevents the emission of around 500 million tons of carbon annually in the United States. If nuclear power were removed from the U.S. energy portfolio, electricity sector emissions would increase 27%. The scary thing is that this is slowly becoming an unintentional reality. There are 99 nuclear reactors currently operating in the United States, but up to 20 could shut down before their licenses expire within the next 10 years due in part to record low energy prices from an influx of cheap natural gas. Premature closures mean additional carbon emissions because replacement generation sources are most likely to be natural gas. It gets worse; only five new reactors will be built by 2021. In other words, the U.S.’ primary source of carbon-free electricity is in decline at a time when we need it to expand. Renewables and the related power storage technologies are vital, but they may not grow fast enough. A massive scale-up of renewable energy sources would have to occur during a fairly short timeframe and may require over-building to ensure enough energy is available. Some argue that an all renewable fleet is possible, but most studies have concluded that nuclear power and carbon capture and sequestration will be necessary. Even if an all renewable fleet could be achieved, an over reliance on this type of intermittent energy could impact the stability of the electricity grid and our ability to scale up to meet the expected growth in energy demand.
UNSCEAR yesterday released the results of a comparative study it has conducted of exposures from generating technologies based on nuclear power, coal, natural gas, oil, biofuels, geothermal, wind and solar. The committee said that while exposure levels are very low, the coal cycle contributed more than half of the total radiation dose to the global population from electricity generation. The nuclear fuel cycle, it said, contributed less than one-fifth of this. The collective dose for coal generating technologies is 670-1400 man Sieverts, depending on the age of the power plant, while that of nuclear is 130 man Sv. This is followed by geothermal at 5-160 man SV, natural gas at 55 man Sv and oil at 0.03 man Sv.
World Nuclear News: Russia ready to fund entire Hungarian nuclear project
An inter-governmental agreement signed in early 2014 would see Russian enterprises and their international sub-contractors supply two new units at Paks – VVER-1200 reactors – as well as a Russian state loan of up to €10.0 billion ($11.2 billion) to finance 80% of the project. “The project costs €12 billion, 80% of which was supposed to come from a Russian loan. I apprised the prime minister of other options. We are prepared to finance 100% of it, but then the terms and conditions of the agreement should be slightly different. We can do this as well,” Putin said, according to the transcript. Paks currently comprises four Russian-supplied VVER-440 pressurized water reactors, which started up between 1982 and 1987. The existing Paks plant “has been operating for a long time in Hungary”, he said, “and today produces close to 40% of all electricity produced in that country”. The launch of the two new units will “make it possible to double electricity production and satisfy the demand for electricity that is essential in order to develop new production facilities in Hungary”, he added.
Nuclear Street: Geochemist Asks: Who Needs Yucca Mt. Anyway?
Dr. James Conca, in an article published in Forbes, sees the Yucca Mt. solution to the nation’s spent fuel storage problem as, essentially, moot. “The problem this time is that most of our high-level nuclear waste is no longer high level,” Conca explains. “And most scientists agree we shouldn’t dispose of spent nuclear fuel until we reuse it in our new reactors that are designed to burn it,” he said. He argues that there are four types of radioactive waste. Transuranic waste (TRU) from the nuclear weapons program has a place to go – the Waste Isolation Pilot Program’s underground repository near Carlsbad, N.M. Similarly, low-level radioactive waste (LLW) has six storage sites around the country. That takes care of the third most radioactive waste – transuranic – and the fourth most (or least) radioactive waste. That leaves spent nuclear fuel, the hottest level of radioactive waste and high-level waste (HLW), which is the second hottest. While it may have made some sense to place the two hottest waste materials underground at Yucca Mountain forty years ago, when the proposal was first developed, it no longer does, says Conca. “Everything has changed since 1970. We removed most of the hot stuff from the HLW tanks (137Cs/90Sr), and the rest has radioactively-decayed to TRU and is no longer high-level,” Conca argues.
Swedish utility Vattenfall slumped to an operating loss of 2.8 billion crowns ($315 million) in the fourth quarter after booking provisions for nuclear waste storage in Germany and other one-off charges. Vattenfall had already taken a $3.5 billion charge in the second quarter, mainly for German lignite mines and power plants sold in September, and it ended 2016 with a record annual loss of 21.2 billion crowns. Vattenfall said higher provisions for future nuclear waste storage due to new legislation in Germany, which is phasing out nuclear power, accounted for 5.6 billion crowns of the 9.9 billion of net charges in the fourth quarter. The company’s power generation shrank in the fourth quarter to 32.5 terawatt hours, from 45.5 terawatt hours a year earlier.
If the European Union is going to meet its Paris Agreement long-term temperature goals, then it needs to phase out all its coal plants by 2030 or it runs the risk of overshooting, according to a new report from Climate Analytics. However, if business as usual continues, then the EU’s CO2 emissions budget will exceed its goals by 85% by 2050. “Not only would existing coal plants exceed the EU’s emissions budget, but the eleven planned and announced plants would raise EU emissions to almost twice the levels required to keep warming to the Paris Agreement’s long term temperature goal,” said Dr Michiel Schaeffer, Climate Analytics Science Director. In fact, the report shows that coal emissions need to be close to zero by 2030 — 95% by 2030, and 100% by 2031 — with a quarter of the EU’s current coal capacity shuttered by 2020, and 47% closed by 2025. “We find the cheapest way for the EU to make the emissions cuts required to meet its Paris Agreement commitments is to phase out coal from the electricity sector, and replace this capacity with renewables and energy efficiency measures,” said Paola Yanguas Parra, a lead author of the report.
Climate Change News: Bangladesh bets on coal to meet rising energy demand
On 1 February, Bangladesh’s energy minister Nasrul Hamid gave a speech outlining the government’s plan to massively expand energy production through coal. He spoke about a slew of mega projects being built with the assistance of China, Japan and India, but said little about Bangladesh’s failure to expand its renewable energy sector. Bangladesh is betting on coal to support its fast growing economy, even as other countries in Asia try to shift away from the dirty fuel amid an intensifying pollution crisis. The government hopes coal use will jump from 2% to over 50% of the Bangladesh’s electricity supply by 2022, with 23,000 megawatts of new coal powered plants in the pipeline.
Financial Times: Gas and coal are big winners in UK electricity capacity auction
Coal-fired power generators were among the winners of contracts worth £378m to generate electricity next winter, highlighting the tension between government efforts to reduce carbon emissions and the need for energy security. Gas-fired power stations secured the biggest share of contracts — almost 40 per cent — in the capacity auction held by National Grid, the UK electricity system operator, to ensure adequate supplies during the winter months when demand is highest. Coal and biomass plants won a further fifth of the contracts, which guarantee power companies extra payments for generating electricity when supplies are tight. Critics have highlighted the apparent contradiction between government plans to phase out all coal-fired power from the UK by 2025 and the provision of top-up payments — often described as subsidies — that help keep coal plants open. The government says the capacity market system is designed to ensure that coal power is phased out gradually so that Britain avoids the risk of blackouts while making its transition towards cleaner forms of energy.
Released on Tuesday (7 February), the ONS figures revealed that “basket emissions” – the seven greenhouse gases listed under the Kyoto Protocol – had fallen by 3.8% in 2015 to 495.7m tonnes. When solely examining carbon emissions, which account for 81% of total UK gas emissions, figures highlight a 4.1% decrease. ONS named a “large decrease in the use of coal for electricity generation” as the main reason for the decline. The UK energy supply sector recorded a more-than 12% decrease in “basket emissions” in 2015, thanks to the ongoing shift in generational sources. In total, energy sector emissions have tumbled by almost 50% since 1990, while emissions from the waste sector have fallen by 73% in that timeframe. For 2015, waste management emissions recorded a 7% decrease due to less resources being sent to landfill.According to the analysis, the current downward trend in emissions has placed the UK on track to surpass its second carbon budget, which requires a 29% reduction in emissions below the 1990 baseline by the end of 2017. For 2015, UK emissions were 38% below the baseline putting it on a trajectory to meet the third carbon budget of a 35% reduction, providing there are no significant increases in emissions before 2020.
Renewable energy sources made up nearly nine-tenths of new power added to Europe’s electricity grids last year, in a sign of the continent’s rapid shift away from fossil fuels. But industry leaders said they were worried about the lack of political support beyond 2020, when binding EU renewable energy targets end. Of the 24.5GW of new capacity built across the EU in 2016, 21.1GW – or 86% – was from wind, solar, biomass and hydro, eclipsing the previous high-water mark of 79% in 2014. For the first time windfarms accounted for more than half of the capacity installed, the data from trade body WindEurope showed. Wind power overtook coal to become the EU’s second largest form of power capacity after gas, though due to the technology’s intermittent nature, coal still meets more of the bloc’s electricity demand. Germany installed the most new wind capacity in 2016, while France, the Netherlands, Finland, Ireland and Lithuania all set new records for windfarm installations.
A move by the French government to budget for more solar and hydropower projects on its grid was endorsed Friday by the European Commission. The French government said new solar initiatives would receive more than $9 billion in support over the next 20 years, while hydropower schemes are backed by a 20-year $530 million commitment. The European Commission said it endorsed an effort that would help France meet its 2020 goal of producing 23 percent of its energy needs from renewable resources. “These French initiatives will stimulate a greater use of renewable energy sources and provide legal certainty to the sector, while limiting the use of state support to the minimum,” Margrethe Vestager, a commissioner in charge of competition issues, said in a statement. “This is a very important balance for Europe in the pursuit of our environmental objectives.” The commission found the French measures would advance overall renewable energy efforts without distorting the market.
Brussels Times: Google’s Road to 100% Renewable Energy
This year, Google will buy enough wind and solar electricity annually to account for every unit of electricity its operations consume, globally. That’s been achieved in a variety of ways: in the Nordics Google buys power in Sweden and uses the integrated nature of the Nordpool grid to deliver this electricity to its data center in Finland. In other countries, Google buys power directly from nearby renewable producers: in December, Google opened its latest data centre in Eemshaven, the Netherlands. It’s the company’s first to be 100% renewable from day one, from a wind farm in nearby Delfzijl. “From an accounting perspective, we’re there,” says Marc Oman, EU Energy Lead at Google Global Infrastructure. But he also points out that Google still relies on the grid for stability. Sourcing sustainable energy for a company of Google’s scale is a jigsaw, and he’s already searching for the pieces to complete it. “What next? Work to make the grid itself zero carbon — for us this starts with buying more power closer to our data centres and diversifying into solar and other forms of renewable power like hydro or biomass.”
The EU said Wednesday it aimed to phase out anti-dumping duties on Chinese solar panel imports after 18 months, ending a bitter dispute with one of its largest trading partners. Stung by US President Donald Trump’s protectionist stance, the EU has touted its free trade credentials and pledged closer cooperation with China in response. The EU imposed the duties in 2013 after European panel manufacturers complained they were being forced out of business by underpriced Chinese imports. Other companies which installed solar panel systems claimed the duties harmed them by increasing their costs and should be removed. European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans said: “There is no doubt we have the right to protect our industry… but at the same time we have to take into account other companies who import these products.” These companies, he told reporters, provided thousands of jobs and were a key element in the renewable energy industry. “The college (of the 28 member state representatives) weighed the options, including the different interests involved and decided to maintain the measures for 18 months and an eventual phase out,” he said. “We will now put the proposal to member states. The phase out is meant to make sure solar panel producers in Europe have time to adapt to the new situation,” he added.
Energy Storage News: Major UK solar investors pessimistic over current battery storage opportunity
Listed funds in the UK which own a significant portion of the country’s utility-scale solar PV assets are not currently convinced by battery storage’s feasibility, but remain primed to deploy the technology at scale when the time is right. Matt Black, investment director at Foresight, said it would be some time before listed funds adopted storage en masse and his view was echoed by James Armstrong, founding partner at Bluefield, who said: “We’ve got the generation capacity. We don’t have to take the risk [of deploying storage].” Michael Bonte-Friedheim, chief executive of NextEnergy Capital, remarked that investors are currently not satisfied with the technological risks associated with storage against what is still regarded as an uncertain set of returns, and even went as far as to suggest that early investors in battery storage stood to lose money. “The only way storage will work for us is if we can use existing grid connections and stack revenues…load shifting is not worthwhile,” Bonte-Friedheim said.
If the United States and its fellow Paris Agreement signatories are to meet global climate targets, they’re going to have to make serious commitments that attack the problem on multiple fronts, including reducing coal use, raising renewable energy, accelerating carbon-capture technologies and electrifying more of our automotive fleet, a new analysis shows. The new analysis consolidates that information by using what’s known as the Kaya Identity, an equation used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to make climate change projections based on greenhouse gas scenarios. Here, though, Jackson and his colleagues applied their methods on an individual country-level basis, sifting through and incorporating information from each nation. The scientists found that the recent slowdown in global emissions growth is due in large part to the reduction in the growth of coal use since 2011 – first in China, and then the United States. In the last two years in the U.S., Jackson said, electricity generated by coal has dropped by roughly a quarter – a shift powered in large part by natural gas. “Is the world currently on track to meet the global climate challenge? It is difficult to be sanguine,” Green wrote. “Globally, the increase (from very low levels) in the relative share of non-hydro renewable energies (from 0.55% to 2.77% between 2000 and 2015) has been almost wholly offset by a 2.0 percentage point reduction in the share contributed by nuclear power. As a result, the share of fossil (carbon emitting) energy in global energy consumption has remained between 86% and 87%.”
As the planet warms due to climate change and hot days become more common, the US electrical grid could be unable to meet peak energy needs by century’s end, researchers warned Monday. The cost to upgrade the US electrical grid so it could cope with peak demands may be on the order of $180 billion, said the report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “As the electricity grid is built to endure maximum load, our findings have significant implications for the construction of costly peak generating capacity,” said the study. The current study factors in the effect of ever-more frequent and intense heat when it comes to peak electricity demand, or the maximum amount of electricity a given area would need at one time. Some areas will likely use less electricity, for instance in the northwestern United States, where cold days will become less intense. But other areas, like the southern United States, “could experience an increased number of spikes in electricity use as hot days become more prevalent,” said the study.These jumps in peak electricity demands “may require substantial investments by US electricity grids into peak electricity generating capacity.” Much of the costs to upgrade the grid would involve capacity, storage and transmission investments—not simply the cost of generating electricity.
National Public Radio: EPA Halves Staff Attending Environmental Conference In Alaska
The Environmental Protection Agency’s presence at an environmental conference in Alaska this week was cut in half, after the Trump administration’s transition officials ordered the change. The agency had helped to plan the Alaska Forum on the Environment — but days before it was to start, word came that half of the EPA’s 34 planned attendees wouldn’t be making the trip. In an emailed statement, EPA transition official Doug Ericksen says the decision to cut back is an effort to limit excessive travel costs. He says a review last week found that EPA spent $44 million on travel last year, including sending employees to 25 outside conferences. When officials learned that 34 employees were slated to attend the Alaska event, they slashed the number to 17. “This is one small example of how EPA will be working cooperatively with our staff and our outside partners to be better stewards of the American people’s money,” Ericksen said.
Renewable Energy Magazine: French presidential hopeful Macron extends invitation to U.S. climate scientists
French presidential hopeful Emmanuel Macron has extended an invitation to U.S. climate scientists to consider France their new home in the wake of Donald Trump’s ascendancy to the White House. In a video posted Friday on his Twitter account, the centrist, pro-business candidate vowed to increase public investment in renewable energy and other initiatives related to combating climate change. In his video, Macron assured those in the U.S scientific community “I have no doubt about climate change and how committed we have to be regarding this issue. So I have two messages,” he continued. “The very first one is for the French and European researchers – we will preserve our budgets, we will reinforce our investment, our public and private investment, in order to do more and accelerate our initiatives in order to deliver in line with COP21 [the Paris summit on climate change]. And second, a message for you guys – please come to France. You are welcome. It is your nation.”
Dozens of cricket stadiums are being affected by climatic change with floods filling up cricket grounds due to heavy storms. The storms that occurred during September 2015, caused damage of more than 3.5 million pounds. However, Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) is responding to the climate change by making Lord’s the first ground in the country to run on 100 per cent renewable energy. The new Warner stand at the Lord’s which is to be unveiled on May, will be heated by a ground source heat pump that will extract energy from water that will be pumped from 200m down in an aquifer under the ground, as reported by thetimes.co.uk. Lord’s have made complete preparation for the climatic change by including photovoltaic solar roof panels, solar thermal technology and water collection and recycling system in the new Warner stand. On the climatic change, Piers Forster, director of Priestley International Centre for Climate at the University of Leeds, said, “UK weather will always bowl us the odd googly, but climate change is making them harder to defend against.”