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Energy transitions - headlines

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The global outlook for renewable power in one graph

David Wogan, Scientific American
Energy produced from hydro, wind, solar, and other renewables sources is expected to exceed that from natural gas and double that from nuclear sources by 2016 – becoming the second most important energy source behind coal...


Source IEA
(10 July 2013)


US joins elite 10GW solar club

Staff, Business Green
The United States has become the fourth country in the world to break through the 10GW barrier for solar PV capacity, after installing more than 1.8GW in the first half of the year.

According to the North America PV Market Quarterly report produced by analysts at NPD Solarbuzz, the US has joined Germany, Italy and China as the only countries to have installed more than 10GW...
(11 July 2013)


Behind the Tea Party Push For Solar in Georgia

Michael Kanellos, Forbes
In many regions in the country, conservative politicians view solar power as an unwarranted extension of government regulation.

An unusual coalition of conservative law makers, solar advocates, tea party members, the NRDC and the Sierra Club have made Georgia a new bright spot in the U.S. solar market. Earlier this month, for instance, the state’s Public Service Commission voted 4-1 to required Georgia Power to obtain 525 megawatts of solar for its operations by 2016.

The ruling is the latest event in what has been a loud, two-year fight. But what makes Georgia’s solar fight different is that solar advocates aren’t just selling solar as a way to reduce emissions or reduce fossil fuels. Solar has been positioned as a property rights issue pitting private citizens against utilities, regulators and fixed rates of return...
(16 July 2013)


China Raises Target for 2015 Solar Power Capacity

Wayne Ma, Wall Street Journal
China raised its 2015 target for solar-electricity capacity, giving a shot in the arm to solar companies that are struggling because of industry overcapacity, weaker global demand and overseas trade disputes.

Installed capacity for solar electricity should reach more than 35 gigawatts by 2015, up from about seven gigawatts last year, China's State Council said in a statement posted Monday but dated July 4. China's previous target was 21 gigawatts...
(15 July 2013)


Delivering Stability in the Renewable Energy Transition

David Appleyard, Renewable Energy World
Troubled German utility group Energie Baden-Württemberg AG (EnBW) has announced that it intends to shut down a total of four fossil-fuelled power plants as a result of the increasing volumes of renewable energy capacity in the country’s energy market.

With renewable energy given priority in the despatch merit order, this, the company argues, means that fossil-fired facilities are frequently being operated solely as ‘marginal capacity’ — during periods of peak power demand or when renewable energy outputs are low. This results in a drastic fall in revenue, it adds... At face value this is a good thing.

But ironically these older plants will probably be joined by more expensive, though far more efficient, modern gas-fired installations, which are struggling to compete in the face of high wholesale natural gas prices delivered into Western Europe. Perversely, current market conditions are apparently seeing older lignite-fired stations running at higher capacities, while far more CO2-friendly gas plants are languishing...
(10 July 2013)


U.S. court says biofuel producers must face carbon emissions rules

Mica Rosenberg, Reuters
Biofuel producers will be subject to rules regulating carbon emissions, a U.S. appeals court ruled on Friday, in a decision hailed by environmental groups. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit vacated a three-year deferral put in place in 2011 by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that temporarily exempted paper and wood product manufacturers and ethanol producers from curbing the release of greenhouse gases. The EPA wanted to further study how much of the emissions linked to climate change come from burning plant matter before issuing emission regulations and permit requirements that could be costly to industry. But environmental groups contested the exclusion in court and two judges on the three-judge panel favored their view...
(12 July 2013)


MEPs deal a blow to crop-based biofuels

Staff, Euractiv
EU efforts to limit the use of crop-based biofuels, increasingly seen as doing the planet more harm than good, won parliamentary backing on Thursday (11 July) in what a top biodiesel company called "a very bad blow".

The vote in the European Parliament's environment committee will be followed by a plenary vote, expected in September. It will also require endorsement by EU member states, which are deeply divided on the issue.

Environmental campaigners said Thursday's vote marked progress towards more sustainable biofuels...
(12 July 2013)


Re-Engineering Energy: A Dutch Perspective

Christine Hertzog, The Energy Collective
Universities and other public/private initiatives in the Netherlands have very interesting activities focused in Smart Grid technology and services innovations. I had the welcome opportunity to moderate an exchange of information and ideas while a trade delegation was on a recent tour in Silicon Valley to learn more about their latest achievements and objectives.

For example, my previous writings identified work such as the intriguing pilot occurring in Groningen called PowerMatchingCity – a pilot that has ambitious goals focused on what we would call transactive energy. Transactive energy envisions a future in which the electric grid relies on more distributed generation powered by renewable energy and is embedded with machines and sensors that have realtime computational power to manage millions of variables, participating in energy transactions. Three of their universities – Twente, Delft, and Eindhoven – are focused on research in microgrids or transmission and distribution grid innovations that help fulfill the goals of transactive energy. However, these universities are collaborating to achieve an even more impressive overarching objective – to drive technology innovation that will eliminate the need for fossil fuels in 25 years...
(16 July 2013)


Geothermal Plants Can Cause Earthquakes, Say Scientists

Tim Stephens, Daily Fusion
Since March 2012 geothermal generating capacity in the United States has grown by 145.05 MW, or 5%. Currently, geothermal energy makes up for more than 3% of total U.S. utility-scale electricity generation—that is significantly more than the share of solar (photovoltaic) energy. While geothermal power is considered to be cost effective, reliable, sustainable, and environmentally friendly, as it turns out, it is not entirely without flaws. An analysis of earthquakes in the area around the Salton Sea Geothermal Field in southern California has found a strong correlation between seismic activity and operations for production of geothermal power, which involve pumping water into and out of an underground reservoir. “We show that the earthquake rate in the Salton Sea tracks a combination of the volume of fluid removed from the ground for power generation and the volume of wastewater injected,” said Emily Brodsky, a geophysicist at the University of California, Santa Cruz. “The findings show that we might be able to predict the earthquakes generated by human activities. To do this, we need to take a large view of the system and consider both the water coming in and out of the ground,” said Brodsky, a professor of Earth and planetary sciences at UCSC.

Link to the report [behind a paywall]
(12 July 2013)

Green planet image via shutterstock. Reproduced at Resilience.org with permission.

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