Windfarm boost for north-east industry

Tim Webb, The Guardian
Plans to set up a plant in the north-east that will build the foundations for offshore wind turbines have moved a step closer, the Guardian has learnt, providing a much-needed boost to Britain’s fledgling renewable energy industry.

Xanthus Energy is leading the project, which would create about 300 jobs. It has received a share of £3m of grants recently awarded by government agencies to companies seeking to develop wind turbine technologies in the UK.

The company will use the money to design the factory and build scale models of its foundations, which unlike current designs used in the UK – all of them imported – can be assembled onshore, making them easier and cheaper to install on the seabed.

The firm will also carry out detailed analysis to show windfarm developers how much its technology will save them. It is in negotiations with developers and will press ahead with building the plant once it has secured its first order, expected to be by the end of the year…
(2 Feb 2010)

China Leading Global Race to Make Clean Energy

Keith Bradsher, The New York Times
China vaulted past competitors in Denmark, Germany, Spain and the United States last year to become the world’s largest maker of wind turbines, and is poised to expand even further this year.

China has also leapfrogged the West in the last two years to emerge as the world’s largest manufacturer of solar panels. And the country is pushing equally hard to build nuclear reactors and the most efficient types of coal power plants.

These efforts to dominate renewable energy technologies raise the prospect that the West may someday trade its dependence on oil from the Mideast for a reliance on solar panels, wind turbines and other gear manufactured in China.

“Most of the energy equipment will carry a brass plate, ‘Made in China,’ ” said K. K. Chan, the chief executive of Nature Elements Capital, a private equity fund in Beijing that focuses on renewable energy…
(30 Jan 2010)

Government to reward renewable energy homes with higher feed-in tariffs

Ashley Seager, The Guardian
The government drew back from a step-change in its proposed levels of support scheme for small-scale renewable energy schemes amid attacks by the Conservatives and campaigners for a lack of ambition.

Unveiling the new so-called feed-in tariffs (FITs) paid to people, communities or businesses who generate electricity from solar panels, wind turbines or other renewable sources, energy secretary Ed Miliband said the government still only intended that the sector would supply 2% of the country’s electricity by 2020 – the same figure he proposed last summer.

Some technologies such as solar photovoltaic panels on household roofs will get a higher feed-in tariff, and, importantly, all tariffs will be uprated with inflation each year. But large-scale community wind turbines will get a lower tariff than proposed last year, leaving the overall level of support to the industry little changed.

The FITs for new projects will be held at the current rates for two years but then cut by 8.5%, more than originally planned….
(2 Feb 2010)

IMF plans $100bn injection into economy to fund energy efficiency

By Edmund Conway and Jeremy Warner, The Telegraph
Dominique Strauss-Kahn said that the fund planned to issue the Special Drawing Rights (SDR) in order to boost low carbon growth, helping fund an overhaul of energy efficiency around the developed and developing world. The proposal will prompt further suspicion that the Fund is quietly attempting to institute the SDR – a special reserve currency, which can be exchanged for national currencies – as a possible replacement for the dollar as a global reserve currency.

ECB attacks G20 plan to boost IMF drawing rights to pump cash into global economy
“Finding the finance for this transformation is possibly going to be quite problematic,” he said. “If the finance cannot be raised through traditional means, then you need out-of-the- box thinking. We are planning to issue a report in a couple of weeks – one suggestion is it might be done through SDR issuance.”

The IMF head added that he was concerned at the prospect of a further relapse into recession if national economies cut back their deficits too quickly, saying: “If you exit too early and there is a double dip, the problem is that there will be nothing left to throw at the problem.”

The comments came after he and other leading world policymakers, including the Chancellor Alistair Darling and European Central Bank president Jean-Claude Trichet, met bank chiefs to attempt to reach an agreement on future restrictions on bonuses and regulation. Insiders said that although the high-level meeting failed to reach solid agreement, the bankers had opened the door to potential restraints on pay and, more substantively, a new “insurance levy” on bank’s balance sheets.
(30 Jan 2010)

Wind Power Grows 39% for the Year

Jad Mouwad, The New York Times
Despite a crippling recession and tight credit markets, the American wind power industry grew at a blistering pace in 2009, adding 39 percent more capacity. The country is close to the point where 2 percent of its electricity will come from wind turbines.

While that is still a small share, it is up from virtually nothing a few years ago. Continued growth at such a fast pace could help the nation lower its emissions of the gases that cause global warming.

The American Wind Energy Association, in its annual report to be released on Tuesday, said the amount of capacity added last year, 9,900 megawatts, was the largest on record, and was 18 percent above the capacity added in 2008, also a banner year.

The group said the growth of wind power was helped by the federal stimulus package that passed a year ago, which extended a tax credit and provided other investment incentives for the industry…
(26 Jan 2010)

Powering a Green Planet: Sustainable Energy, Made Interactive

Mark Z. Jacobson and Mark A. Delucchi, Scientific Ameriocan
Key Concepts

* Supplies of wind and solar energy on accessible land dwarf the energy consumed by people around the globe.
* The authors’ plan calls for 3.8 million large wind turbines, 90,000 solar plants, and numerous geothermal, tidal and rooftop photovoltaic installations worldwide.
* The cost of generating and transmitting power would be less than the projected cost per kilowatt-hour for fossil-fuel and nuclear power.
* Shortages of a few specialty materials, along with lack of political will, loom as the greatest obstacles.

In December leaders from around the world will meet in Copenhagen to try to agree on cutting back greenhouse gas emissions for decades to come. The most effective step to implement that goal would be a massive shift away from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy sources. If leaders can have confidence that such a transformation is possible, they might commit to an historic agreement. We think they can.
(November 2009)
The full article is only available to subscribers. It is also in the print copy.

Much of the content is in the web-only article Powering a Green Planet: Sustainable Energy, Made Interactive.

Suggested by EB reader Sarah Edwards. We hope to publish a commentary on the article soon.-BA