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No technical limitation to wind power penetration

Jerome a Paris, European Tribune
One of the main arguments against wind power is that it is intermittent and thus unreliable because not always available when needed. A corollary is that it is usually stated (and I’ve used these numbers myself in earlier diaries) that wind power will not be able to provide more than 20% of power – or that beyond that number, its costs rise significantly.

Well, the National Grid, the entity which manages the electrical grid in the UK, is providing some interesting commentary in a special report about the long term outlook of their job, as posted here: National Grid 2006 Great Britain Seven Year Statement.

The output of some renewable technologies, such as wind, wave, solar and even some CHP, is naturally subject to fluctuation and, for some renewable technologies, unpredictability relative to the more traditional generation technologies. Based on recent analyses of the incidence and variation of wind speed, the expected intermittency of the national wind portfolio would not appear to pose a technical ceiling on the amount of wind generation that may be accommodated and adequately managed.

(29 Jan 2007)
Also at Daily Kos.

Renewable-energy mandate could save $96 bln a year

Budapest Business Journal & Bloomberg
A binding European Union target to buy 20% of all energy from renewable sources by 2020 would cut the region’s fossil-fuel costs by about $96 billion a year, according to figures from an EU official.

Achieving that target would curb demand for fossil fuels by about 250 million metric tons of oil equivalent a year, said Fabrizio Barbaso, the deputy director general of energy and transport at the European Commission, the EU’s regulatory arm. Barbaso was speaking at the European Renewable Energy Policy Conference in Brussels. There are about 7.1 barrels in a ton and the price of oil today is about $54 a barrel. It will be an „uphill battle,” to prompt many EU members to agree to binding targets, because they are on average about a third of the way to the 20%, Jorgen Koch, an energy official in Denmark and former director of the International Energy Agency in Paris, told the conference.

To help cut emissions and boost energy security, the European Commission January 10 proposed a binding target of getting a fifth of its energy, including transport energy, from renewable sources by 2020. That includes a binding target to boost use of so-called biofuels to 10% of vehicle fuel consumption by that year. Achieving the 20% target would cut greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 900 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent a year, Barbaso said. ..
(30 Jan 2007)

Tech Barons Take on New Project: Energy Policy

Matt Richtel, NY Times
President Bush set broad goals last week for the adoption of alternative energy. Hoping to take on the role of filling in the details is an unlikely group: Silicon Valley’s technology investors.

These venture capitalists, backers of giants like Google and Genentech, have traditionally been free-market advocates, favoring ideas and innovation over government intervention. Now they are heading to Washington on a crusade to influence energy policy because they have a big stake in the outcome.

The investors in recent years have poured billions of dollars into alternative energy start-ups in areas like solar and wind power or the production of fuel for cars from feedstock and crop waste. Many of these projects, they say, could stall without subsidies or government mandates for greater energy efficiency.

These barons of the new economy are not new to politics, though their interest in energy places them in a powerful spotlight. And it puts them in conflict with the oil and gas industries, which are more politically potent and have far deeper pockets.

“It’s very different from the business world, where you come in with a good idea and leave with a deal,” said Mark Baldassare, research director for the Public Policy Institute of California, a nonpartisan research group. The question, he said, is whether venture capitalists “have the patience to be part of the political process.”

The venture capitalists say they have earned political credibility th
(28 Jan 2007)
Related: Silicon Valley Rebounds, Led by Green Technology (NY Times)

Japan plans very slightly higher target for renewable energy

Bloomberg via International Herald Tribune
The government said Monday that it wanted to expand the amount of electricity that Tokyo Electric Power and other utilities were required to generate from solar power and other renewable energy sources.

The Trade Ministry said it had drawn up a plan requiring Japanese power producers to generate 16 billion kilowatt- hours of energy from renewable sources by March 2015. This would be an increase of 31 percent from the target of 12.2 billion kilowatt-hours, equal to 1.35 percent of total output, set for March 2010.
Japan, a signatory of the Kyoto Protocol on cutting the production of greenhouse gases, wants to expand generation from clean energy sources, particularly solar panels, to help the nation meet emissions targets.
“The proposed target is very tough, and it isn’t acceptable,” said Mamoru Muramatsu, general manager for planning at the Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan. “We don’t even know whether we can meet the requirement” for 2010.
(30 Jan 2007)