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Energy - Nov 18

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Onshore wind energy to reach parity with fossil-fuel electricity by 2016

Press Release, Bloomberg New Energy Finance
London and New York, 10 November 2011 – The cost of electricity from onshore wind turbines will drop 12% in the next five years thanks to a mix of lower-cost equipment and gains in output efficiency, according to new research from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

The best wind farms in the world already produce power as economically as coal, gas and nuclear generators; the average wind farm will be fully competitive by 2016.

The wind team at Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates that manufacture of onshore wind turbines displays a 7% “experience-curve” – that is a 7% cost reduction for every doubling of installed capacity – as economies of scale and supply chain efficiencies reduce costs. Global average turbine prices have fallen in real terms from EUR 2.0m/MW in 1984 to below EUR 0.88m/MW in H1 2011. In 1984, there were only 0.3GW of installed wind capacity in the world, but by the end of 2011 there will be over 240GW.

However, there is a second factor driving down the price of wind-generation: at the same time as turbine costs have been falling, the power output achieved by each turbine as a percentage of nameplate capacity – the so-called capacity factor – has been rising steadily. This has been driven by the long-term move to bigger and taller turbines, better aerodynamics, better controls and gearboxes, as well as improved electrical generation efficiency. These improvements have increased capacity factors by 13 percentage points to 34% over the past 27 years.
(10 November 2011)



Gas Companies Caught Using Military Tactics To Overcome Drilling Concerns

Jason Allen, ABC News

The battle over gas drilling is now being compared to elements of an actual battlefield.

Energy industry officials were caught on tape at a conference in Houston using military terms to describe their opposition. One company says it uses ex-military psychological operations experts in its community plans.

The comments came as companies were meeting to talk about strategies for overcoming concern over practices like hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
(11 November 2011)



EU biofuel target seen driving species loss: study

Charlie Dunmore, ReutersB
A European Union target to promote the use of biofuels will accelerate global species loss because it encourages the conversion of pasture, savanna and forests into new cropland, EU scientists have warned.

The finding raises fresh doubts over the benefits of biofuels, which were once seen as the most effective way of cutting road transport emissions, but whose environmental credentials have increasingly been called into question.

The scale of species loss in areas converted into new cropland could be more than 80 percent, the scientists from the European Commission's Joint Research Center (JRC) said in a newly published report.

"This result shows that the extensive use of bioenergy crops will increase the rate in loss of biodiversity," the report said.

One of the report's authors stressed that the finding was based on a preliminary analysis of the issue and that more research was needed to accurately quantify the likely impact on biodiversity caused by the EU's biofuel mandate...
(16 November 2011)



New study suggests EU biofuels are as carbon intensive as petrol

Press Release, University of Leicester
A new study on greenhouse gas emissions from oil palm plantations has calculated a more than 50% increase in levels of CO2 emissions than previously thought – and warned that the demand for ‘green’ biofuels could be costing the earth.

The study from the University of Leicester was conducted for the International Council on Clean Transportation, an international think tank that wished to assess the greenhouse gas emissions associated with biodiesel production. Biodiesel mandates can increase palm oil demand directly (the European Biodiesel Board recently reported big increases in biodiesel imported from Indonesia) and also indirectly, because palm oil is the world’s most important source of vegetable oil and will replace oil from rapeseed or soy in food if they are instead used to make biodiesel.

The University of Leicester researchers carried out the first comprehensive literature review of the scale of greenhouse gas emissions from oil palm plantations on tropical peatland in Southeast Asia. In contrast to previous work, this study also provides an assessment of the scientific methods used to derive emissions estimates.

They discovered that many previous studies were based on limited data without appropriate recognition of uncertainties and that these studies have been used to formulate current biofuel policies.
(4 November 2011)



Local Power: Boulder Considers Moving Off the Grid

Sarah Laskow, Good.Is
For decades, Xcel Energy has provided Boulder, Colorado, with electricity. But over time, people in the city began to want more electricity from clean, renewable sources than the utility was willing to provide. So this week, city residents voted to explore alternative methods of getting sustainable power.

Boulder has been toying with the idea of taking energy management local for the past few years. Instead of paying Xcel for power, the city could create a public, municipally run utility that would prioritize clean energy and cut the city’s carbon emissions. Progress moves slowly in the energy world, so the city won’t make the final decision on local power for another few years. But this week's vote was the energy equivalent of closing an account at a national bank in order to buy into a local credit union. Instead of just one person leaving the utility, though, this is an entire community.

If the city does move forward, it could build its own utility that derives 40 percent or more of its power from renewables.
(4 November 2011)

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