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Renewables to surpass gas by 2016 in the global power mix

Press Release, International Energy Agency
Power generation from hydro, wind, solar and other renewable sources worldwide will exceed that from gas and be twice that from nuclear by 2016, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said today in its second annual Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report (MTRMR).

According to the MTRMR, despite a difficult economic context, renewable power is expected to increase by 40% in the next five years. Renewables are now the fastest-growing power generation sector and will make up almost a quarter of the global power mix by 2018, up from an estimated 20% in 2011. The share of non-hydro sources such as wind, solar, bioenergy and geothermal in total power generation will double, reaching 8% by 2018, up from 4% in 2011 and just 2% in 2006.

“As their costs continue to fall, renewable power sources are increasingly standing on their own merits versus new fossil-fuel generation,” said IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven as she presented the report at the Renewable Energy Finance Forum in New York. “This is good news for a global energy system that needs to become cleaner and more diversified, but it should not be an excuse for government complacency, especially among OECD countries.”

Even as the role of renewables increases across all sectors, the MTRMR cautions that renewable development is becoming more complex and faces challenges – especially in the policy arena. In several European countries with stagnating economies and energy demand, debate about the costs of renewable support policies is mounting. In addressing these issues, Ms. Van der Hoeven warned that “policy uncertainty is public enemy number one” for investors: “Many renewables no longer require high economic incentives. But they do still need long-term policies that provide a predictable and reliable market and regulatory framework compatible with societal goals,” she stated. “And worldwide subsidies for fossil fuels remain six times higher than economic incentives for renewables.”..
(26 June 2013)

More buybacks in Germany

Renewables International
This month, the sale of shares in new grid lines to normal citizens was launched, but the rules handed down by the grid operator are not in the spirit of community ownership. Elsewhere, more German citizens are working to take energy supply into their own hands…

Meanwhile, the wave of "recommunalization" – the buyback of municipal utilities sold off to private firms in the 1990s – continues. From 2007 to 2012, more than 230 German municipalities either founded their own utility or took over the infrastructure from the private firm when the supply contract expired. At present, an additional 24 campaigns are also underway, not only in the country’s largest city (Berlin), but also in its second-largest, Hamburg…
(24 June 2013)

Solar Cities’ insight into the electricity demand fall

Tristan Edis, Business Spectator
Last year I wrote about how the Howard government’s 2004 Solar Cities initiative was, unlike many other Energy White Paper initiatives, actually showing some promising results. Now one of those ‘Solar Cities’ – Central Victoria – has delivered its final evaluation report with some useful insights into how household electricity demand is falling.

One of the main reasons for undertaking the Solar Cities was to test and learn various approaches for reducing energy and greenhouse gas emissions…
(20 June 2013)
View report

Developing a Regional Renewable Energy Roadmap for Central America

Press Release, Worldwatch Institute and INCAE Business School
Nearly 22 percent of the world’s electricity is now supplied by renewable energy, and Central America is part of this global transition. The region is a worldwide leader in hydropower and geothermal energy, and most Central American countries are developing wind power projects. Yet the region is far from harvesting its enormous renewable energy resources to their fullest potentials, according to a new report from the Worldwatch Institute, The Way Forward for Renewable Energy in Central America.

“Central America is at a crossroads,” said Alexander Ochs, Director of Climate and Energy at Worldwatch and a co-author of the study. “As the economies of Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama expand, regional use of fossil fuels is growing quickly, while the use of traditional fuelwood, primarily for cooking, remains unsustainably high. These developments come with significant health, societal, and economic costs, including rising greenhouse gas emissions and worsening air and water pollution. Central America has the potential to meet 100 percent of its electricity needs with sustainable renewable energy, but the proper policies and measures need to be put in place now.”

The report assesses the status of renewable energy technologies in Central America and analyzes the conditions for their advancement in the future. It identifies important knowledge and information gaps, evaluates key finance and policy barriers, and makes suggestions for how to overcome both. The study serves as a “roadmap of a roadmap,” scoping the improvements needed to facilitate the transition to a sustainable energy system and establishing the necessary methodology and groundwork for comprehensive regional and national energy strategies…
(17 June 2013)
Link to the report

Analysis: How energy efficiency firms are eating utilities’ lunch

Geert De Clercq and Vera Eckert, Reuters
With better insulation, triple glazing and frugal boilers, new houses can cut energy use by up to 90 percent, which is good news for consumers but bad for utilities that vie with energy services firms for their efficiency euros.

An unstoppable efficiency drive spurred by EU regulations and national targets poses a dilemma for utilities.

Do they look for a profitable way to help consumers save energy or try to defend their traditional business model?…
(2 June 2013)

‘Solar sharing’ spreading among Fukushima farmers

Japan News
Farmers in Fukushima Prefecture are turning to “solar sharing,” a process in which they can generate solar power on the same land where they grow crops and sell the power to utilities.

The farmers are hoping to sell the power to help cover the losses they are suffering because of the nuclear crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

To help farmers recover from the effects of the nuclear disaster, solar panels are set on poles erected on the farmland.

Farmers can use the money from sales of the generated electric power to improve their farmland or to cover losses in income caused by radiation fears…
(26 June 2013)

Green planet image via shutterstock. Reproduced at with permission.