Renewables and biofuels – Aug 31

August 31, 2012

Click on the headline (link) for the full text. Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage

Debunking wind energy myths – At a glance

James Murray, Business Green

A major new report from IPPR and GL Garrad Hassan has today challenged critics of wind energy – BusinessGreen rounds up the main conclusions

Myth: The powering up and down of fossil fuel plants to cope with wind energy intermittency undermines their efficiency and leads to a net increase in emissions
Fact: More advanced modelling is required in the UK to disprove this hypothesis, but empirical studies from US states with a high proportion of wind energy have shown “unequivocally” that wind energy supplies have “significantly” reduced the average carbon intensity of fossil fuel power plants on the same grid. In the Mid West average wind energy carbon savings reached 831kg/MWh, while in Texas they hit 474Kg/MWh.

Myth: The “intermittent” nature of wind power makes it impossible to manage
Fact: Wind power is not “intermittent” in that it does not suddenly and unexpectedly turn on and off in the way that fossil fuel and nuclear plants do. Instead it is “variable”, meaning that increasingly accurate weather forecasting makes it possible to predict changes in output ahead of time. This makes wind energy significantly easier to manage as you bring it on to the grid…
(30 August 2012)
Link to the report Beyond the Bluster – Why wind power is an effective technology

Merkel’s Other Crisis Spurs German Quest For Energy Holy Grail

Stefan Nicola, Bloomberg
For Michael Specht, the solution to Germany’s future energy needs lies in a rectangular framework of steel pipes and valves the size of a VW campervan parked on the outskirts of Stuttgart.

“We’ll need this technology if we want to make Germany’s energy switch a success,” Specht, a head of department at the ZSW Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research, said last month on a tour of the facility where the energy-storing device is based. “The question isn’t if it’ll be deployed, but when.”

Specht is one of an army of researchers working to overcome the technological challenges posed by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to abandon nuclear power and shift to renewables in the biggest energy-infrastructure overhaul since World War II. Their task is to fill the energy gap when atomic plants that accounted for about 20 percent of Germany’s power early last year go offline within a decade…

Research is focusing on a major downside of renewables: unlike nuclear energy, solar panels and wind turbines leave consumers without power when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine. That makes storing energy key to their use.

Sixty energy-storage projects have been singled out for a total of 200 million euros in research grants through 2014. The government is also mobilizing the state-owned bank, KfW Group, to provide low-interest loans to storage projects…
(26 August 2012)

Dark clouds gather over China’s once-booming solar industry

Malcolm Moore, The Daily Telegraph
China’s push into solar energy was supposed to be a proud example of how the country was advancing into hi-tech manufacturing. But now the whole sector is on the brink of bankruptcy.

Two years ago, LDK Solar, one of China’s largest solar panel makers, built a new, state-of-the-art factory in the central city of Hefei.

Last month, however, 4,500 of the staff were put on gardening leave. They receive 700 yuan a month to stay at home. The factory has shut down 24 of its 32 production lines.

“There do not seem to be any orders. People are still turning up for work, but mostly just sleeping. The management has not said much, just that the United States has a new policy that is stopping our exports,” said Mr Jie…
(29 August 2012)

US solar PV market more than doubles to topple Europe

Business Green
The US solar photovoltaic (PV) market more than doubled in the first half to 2012 and is due to outstrip its European counterpart by the end of the year, analysts have said.

Installations grew by more than 120 per cent to reach 1.7GW between January and the end of June, compared to just 750MW in the same period last year, and are set to top 4.3GW by the end of the year, according to a quarterly report published by IMS Research earlier this month.

The report adds that global installations in the first half of 2012 exceeded 13GW, a record amount, with the German and Americas markets leading growth…
(27 August 2012)

Biofuel fails EU sustainability test, German researchers claim

Terry Macalister, The Guardian
The growing row over biofuels is ready to flare up again with German researchers claiming to have found evidence that European-produced biodiesel does not meet the sustainability targets claimed by Brussels.

Two experts at Friedrich Schiller University in Jena say eight out of their 10 tests on locally produced rapeseed biodiesel failed to show the 35% greenhouse gas savings promised. In most cases it was under 30%. The use of biofuels would be further undermined when the EU emissions target increases, as planned, to 50% in five years’ time.

Gernot Pehnelt and Christoph Vietze also claim their work has been undermined by a lack of co-operation from the European Union which they believe is on the defensive over championing local energy crops.

“Our results indicate that the ‘sustainability’ of rapeseed biodiesel in the interpretation of the [EU’s] renewable energy directive is at best questionable and in most scenarios simply unjustifiable,” said Pehnelt. ..
(19 August 2012)
Link to the report

Monopolies, Military, Mayhem

Max Keiser, The Keiser Report
From [12.15mins]…In the second half of the show, Max Keiser talks to Professor Yaneer Bar-Yam of the New England Complex Systems Institute about the role of speculation and ethanol in rising food prices and the tipping point to revolution that, when it happens, could happen in a matter of days or weeks.

(30 August 2012)

In Drought, Should Corn Be Food Or Fuel?

Conrad Wilson, npr
Standing outside the Central Minnesota Ethanol Co-Op in Little Falls, Minn., there’s not a lot going on. The pungent smell of fermentation that typically hangs in the air here is absent. And trucks piled high with corn are nowhere to be seen.

They’re idled in part because of high corn prices. And it’s unclear when that will change.

“Most of the industry is just breaking even in terms of profitability or actually running at slightly negative margins,” says Geoff Cooper, vice president of research and analysis at the Renewable Fuels Association…

(30 August 2012)

Tags: Biofuels, Electricity, Photovoltaic, Renewable Energy, Solar Energy, Wind Energy