18 February 2019

These 11 EU states already meet their 2020 renewable energy targets

Almost half of the European Union’s (EU) 28 member states have already hit, or are close to hitting, their 2020 renewable energy targets. But despite this, there has been a gradual slow-down in the rate of renewable energy use across the EU, and some member states have a lot of ground to make up this year. Those that are already top of the class are: Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Italy, Hungary, Lithuania, Romania and Sweden. Hot on their heels are Austria, Greece and Latvia, who look certain to hit their targets.

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18 February 2019

Centrica unveils domestic distributed energy plan

The energy giant aims to integrate solar, battery and heat pump technology into its customer offering. Centrica has unveiled a plan to integrate solar, battery and heat pump technology into its domestic products. The energy giant aims to use distributed domestic energy solutions to drive down average electricity bills and support the flexibility of the overall grid. It suggests combining domestic battery storage with rooftop solar installations could enable over 4.5GW of flexible power capacity, significantly more electricity than a new nuclear plant would be likely to produce. Centrica Innovations has also invested in two start-ups – energy management solutions provider GreenCom Networks and the University of Oxford’s Energy and Power Group, which is called Mixergy.

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12 December 2018

How will the electricity market of the future work?

Our energy destinies rest in the hands of governments – and this is particularly true in power markets. More than 70% of future investments in global energy supply will be made by state-directed entities or respond to regulatory incentives. If we narrow this view to the power sector, more than 95% of global investment will be made in sectors that are fully regulated or affected by mechanisms to manage the risk associated with variable prices on competitive wholesale markets.
Traditionally, electricity markets developed and operated within strictly regulated frameworks, in which vertically integrated utilities handled all or most activities from generation to transmission to retail. Over the past 35 years, however, many parts of the world have gradually moved towards competitive markets as a means to generate and procure electricity alongside many of the support services required to operate a power system.

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17 January 2018

European Parliament gives strong backing for future of renewables

Members of the European Parliament today gave a resounding vote in favour of renewables in Europe.

MEPs called for a renewable energy target of 35% for 2030 – rather than the 27% which the European Commission proposed in 2016.
Giles Dickson, WindEurope CEO, said: “Good on the Parliament. 35% makes sense economically. Consumers benefit – wind is now the cheapest form of new power generation in Europe. And wind is a key part of European manufacturing and exports – it supports 263,000 jobs in Europe industry and contributes €36bn to EU GDP. A 27% target puts all that at risk. And 27% carries a major opportunity cost. The difference between 27% and 35% in wind is €92bn investments not made and 136,000 jobs not created. And other sectors would miss out too with a lower target: every €1,000 invested in wind creates €250 value for the wider supply chain including chemicals, steel and construction. The Commission is starting to get it: they think going beyond 27% is cost-effective. Denmark and Portugal are also calling for a higher target: others in the Council now need to reconsider.”

The Parliament also voted for Member States to submit their national energy and climate action plans by 1 June 2019 and that these should show how they intend to contribute to the collective European target. The Parliament also voted for Member States to give five years’ visibility up front on their public support for renewables.

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17 January 2018

France plans to accelerate wind power projects

PARIS (Reuters) - France is expected to announce measures this week to accelerate the installation of wind turbines and overcome long-running opposition from activists who have frustrated the country’s attempts to hit renewable energy targets.

A working group formed in October to make approvals easier has finalized plans that include removing one legal avenue for blocking projects and paying a portion of wind farm taxes directly to affected communities, an industry official said.

French onshore wind projects delivering 22 gigawatts (GW) have been authorized, but only 12.9 GW has been installed because of legal challenges, according to official data, leaving France struggling to meet its target of producing 26 GW by 2023.

Industry officials say it can take over a decade to get French wind farm projects up and running because of systematic legal objections by opponents whereas in Germany, Europe’s biggest wind power producer, it can be as short as three years.

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16 January 2018

Vestas Wind: New CEO and Co-CEO to lead MHI Vestas Offshore Wind’s expansion

Press release from Vestas Wind Systems A/S and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, 2018-01-16 09:00 CET (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) --

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and Vestas Wind Systems (Vestas) are pleased to appoint Philippe Kavafyan to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Lars Bondo Krogsgaard to Co-Chief Executive Officer (Co-CEO)of MHI Vestas Offshore Wind. The appointments will take effect on 1 April, 2018, and are made in accordance with the joint venture agreement's principle of changing its leadership every four years.

Under the leadership of out-going CEO Jens Tommerup and Co-CEO Tetsushi Mizuno, MHI Vestas Offshore Wind has established itself as a leading player in offshore, with orders from the UK, Germany, Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands.With the outlook for offshore wind energy looking positive through the opening of new markets and further reductions in the cost of energy, MHI Vestas Offshore is now increasing its strategic focus on expanding into new markets and further consolidating its position in core markets. Accordingly, as joint venture shareholders, MHI and Vestas sought new leaders, outside of either parent company, with extensive wind experience and knowledge from and familiarity with diverse markets. The joint venture shareholders have found strong profiles in Philippe Kavafyan and Lars Bondo Krogsgaard.

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15 December 2017

Corporate Renewable PPAs on the agenda in Rome and Warsaw

Corporate Renewable Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) continue to go from strength to strength in Europe, with more and more leaders in policy and industry recognising the benefits these PPAs bring. This was reflected in two well-attended PPA workshops held this week in Poland and Italy.
The Polish workshop was held in Warsaw and organised by the Polish Wind Energy Association. Even though corporate PPA talks are very much in the early stages of discussions, the industry in Poland is looking at the corporate PPA market as a way to support the development of wind energy in the country, particular following the adverse impact that regulatory changes have had on the domestic market.

With demand from corporates still very limited, Poland is currently more open to virtual corporate PPAs (for example: buying renewable energy through an aggregator) as opposed to standard PPAs (for example: buying renewable energy directly from the developer or power producer). Roughly 60 participants took part in the workshop, including representatives from Nordex, EDPR, EBRD, Vestas, Axpo and K&L Gates.

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29 November 2017

Plotting the future of offshore wind in the North Sea

Last year ten countries signed a declaration on cooperation in offshore wind in the North Seas, acknowledging the need for closer regional collaboration. On the 28 and 29 November, the North Sea Forum, which was set up to implement the declaration, met with stakeholders from the industry at WindEurope’s annual Conference & Exhibition in Amsterdam.

Participants gathered to take stock of progress on the four different work streams: maritime spatial planning, offshore grids, support frameworks and finance, and technical standards.

On 29 November, a high level session opened the forum. It brought together senior policymakers from North Seas countries and offshore wind industry leaders to discuss the way forward. The session was chaired by Ulrich Stribaek, Senior Director and Head of group regulatory affairs at Ørsted and WindEurope Offshore Working Group Chair.

The panellists for the session included Sandor Gaastra, Director-General for Energy, Ministry of Economic Affairs of Netherlands, Christopher Jones, Deputy Director General for Energy at the European Commission, Mel Kroon, CEO of Tennet, Jan Hensmans, Head of Energy Policy Coordinaation and International relations, Federal Public Service of the Economy of Belgium, Michael Simmelsgaard, Head of Offshore Wind at Vattenfall, Dorine Bosman, vice-President Offshore Wind at Shell.

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14 November 2017

World Energy Outlook 2017: A world in transformation

Global shifts in the energy system

Four large-scale shifts in the global energy system set the scene for the World Energy Outlook 2017: the rapid deployment and falling costs of clean energy technologies, the growing electrification of energy, the shift to a more services-oriented economy and a cleaner energy mix in China, and the resilience of shale gas and tight oil in the United States.

These shifts come at a time when traditional distinctions between energy producers and consumers are being blurred and a new group of major developing countries, led by India, moves towards centre stage.

How these developments play out and interact is the story of this year’s Outlook.
Growing energy demand

In the New Policies Scenario, global energy needs rise more slowly than in the past but still expand by 30% between today and 2040. This is the equivalent of adding another China and India to today’s global demand.

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21 September 2017

Morgan Stanley sets green goal

Morgan Stanley is the latest global financial institution to pledge to source all its electricity from renewable energy.
The bank aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2022, which includes a 100% clean power goal.

It will also join the RE100 initiative, which is led by the Climate Group and CDP, committing to working to increase demand and delivery of renewable energy.

Morgan Stanley vice chairman Tom Nides said: “Morgan Stanley has been committed for over a decade to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions through strategic energy efficiency in our buildings and adding new renewable energy capacity to the grid from on-site power generation at our own properties.”

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19 September 2017

EnBW Goes Green

German power group EnBW plans to ditch conventional power plants and focus on renewables, networks and distribution. But its plans are less radical than some rivals.

Germany’s fourth-largest power company, Energie Baden-Württemberg (EnBW), plans to pull out of fossil fuel electricity, according to an internal strategy paper seen by Handelsblatt, but is stopping short of some of the more aggressive steps taken by rivals.

The company, which has some 22,000 employees and annual sales of €19 billion, aims to position itself as an “innovative infrastructure partner” for its customers, focusing on wind power as well as transport and distribution networks, according to its new “EnBW 2025” plan.

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19 September 2017

Siemens Gamesa pulls Adwen plug

Siemens Gamesa is to supply its 8MW turbine to a trio of French offshore wind farms, rather than the Adwen 8MW machine which will now be discontinued.

The manufacturer said the decision was part of plans “to focus its sales efforts on one 8MW platform”.

Further development of the AD8 technology "will be part of the company’s comprehensive product portfolio review", said the company.
Projects shifting from Adwen to Siemens Gamesa include Engie’s 500MW Noirmoutier and 500MW Treport and Iberdrola’s 500MW Saint-Brieuc. French ministers have signed off on the former and have been informed of the change on the latter.

The company said the switch will have no impact on plans to build two factories in Le Havre, one for nacelles and one for blades, and to collaborate in the development of a local supply chain in France.

Siemens Gamesa is still targetting at least 750 new local offshore wind jobs.

"This decision is a crucial milestone for the French offshore wind industry,” said offshore chief Michael Hannibal. "Siemens Gamesa will deliver the most popular offshore wind platform and will bring its unmatched experience working in offshore projects.”

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18 September 2017

Berlin starts third onshore sale

Developers wishing to participate in the next 1GW onshore wind auction in Germany will need to register projects by 11 October.
Grid regulator BNetzA has set a 2 November bid deadline for the third sale, extended by one day from the official date because of a public holiday on 1 November in North Rhine-Westphalia where the organization is based.

The privileges for citizens’ cooperatives will remain in place for the auction, but will be scrapped for the first two auctions in 2018.
Grid bottlenecks mean that the capacity availability in the north of Germany is limited to 430.55MW, including 108.55MW not awarded in the last auction round.

The bid price is capped at €70 per megawatt hour.

Two auctions with a combined 1.8GW capacity were held earlier this year, replacing a previous feed-in tariff-based support system.

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13 September 2017

Auction transition 'generally beneficial' as Make lowers outlook
WORLDWIDE: The move to auction mechanisms in the global wind industry has caused Make Consulting to downgrade their outlook for the sector to 2026 by 6GW.

While markets' transition to an auction environment have led to a "significant amount" of wind power capacity being awarded, the shift has created uncertainty and temporary inertia, Make concluded in its Global Wind Power Market Outlook Update.
Global turbine order intake was down 28% year-on-year in Q2 2017 and down 14% year-on-year for the first half of the year, the consultants found.

However, the trend for moving to auction systems has "generally had a beneficial impact", Make concluded, with growth expected after markets adjust to the new system.

Nevertheless, the consultants downgraded their outlook for Q3 2017 by more than 6GW of wind power capacity worldwide, claiming "cuts in the near-term outweigh long-term upgrades".

Make also lowered its expectations for total installed capacity by 2026 by 1%.

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11 September 2017

Vestas confirms Russian plant

Vestas has signed an agreement with the Ulyanovsk Regional Development Corp confirming that it is to set up a blade manufacturing facility in Russia.

The plant will be located in the Ulyanovsk region of the country.

Vestas is also planning to launch training programs in cooperation with Ulyanovsk educational institutions for local people interested in working at the blade factory.

The Danish manufacturer is to supply turbines totalling up to 1GW to Finnish utility Fortum and local partner Rusnano for wind farms in Russia.

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4 September 2017

Renewables forecast to provide nearly half of global energy by 2050

WORLDWIDE: Renewable energy will make up nearly half of global energy supply by 2050, risk management advisors at DNV GL have predicted.
Wind power will account for 14% of the world’s primary energy supply — one percentage point above solar PV — by mid-century, the report concluded.

Wind will also provide 36% of world electricity generation by 2050, with two-thirds of this generation coming from onshore projects, according to the company’s Energy Transition Outlook report, which was released today.
Wind power’s costs will tumble by 16% as capacity doubles over the next 33 years, while the cost of solar PV is set to fall by 18% over this timescale.

Total energy demand will plateau from 2030 due to the rapid electrification of the world’s energy system, DNV GL found.
Remi Eriksen, group president and CEO of DNV GL said: "The profound change set out in our report has significant implications for both established and new energy companies.

"Ultimately, it will be a willingness to innovate and a capability to move at speed that will determine who is able to remain competitive in this dramatically altered energy landscape."

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15 August 2017

Berlin awards 1GW onshore

67 projects win contracts with average bid price of 4.28 euro cents/kWh

Germany has awarded just over 1GW of wind capacity to 67 projects in its second onshore tender.

The average price achieved in the auction is 4.28 euro cents per kilowatt-hour, according to federal network agency BNetzA. May’s first round achieved an average price of 5.71 cent/kWh.

A total of 90% of the 1013MW in winning bids are from citizen-led cooperative companies that are developing projects.
Some 281 bids totalling almost 3GW were filed in the latest onshore wind round.

"The second round of competitions for wind farms has also been characterised by high competition. The average surcharge is lower than one cent per kilowatt hour compared to the first round," said BNetzA president Jochen Homann.

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28 February 2017

EDPR agrees EUR-242m wind asset sale to CTG

EDP Renovaveis SA (ELI:EDPR) on Monday struck a EUR-242-million (USD 256m) deal to sell a 49% stake in a Portuguese wind portfolio to a unit of China Three Gorges (CTG).

The transaction concerns wind farms with a combined capacity of about 422 MW and an average age of six years. These plants were owned by Eolicas de Portugal SA, also known as the ENEOP consortium, before its assets were split among its shareholders in 2015.

The buyer, ACE Portugal Sarl, will take 49% of the equity shareholding and shareholder loans in the portfolio. The transaction implies an enterprise value of EUR 707 million for 100% of the assets within the portfolio, including EUR 213 million of external debt, EDPR said.

The deal was sealed in the context of the EUR-2-billion strategic partnership established in 2011 by EDPRs principal shareholder, EDP - Energias de Portugal SA (ELI:EDP), and CTG, EDPR noted.

The ENEOP project, which won a government auction back in 2006, involved installing 48 wind farms with a combined capacity of 1,335 MW.

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22 February 2017

EWZ, Fontavis buy 25% stake in Trianel Borkum II

Swiss companies Elektrizitaetswerk der Stadt Zuerich (EWZ) and Fontavis have bought a stake of around 25% in the 203-MW Trianel Borkum II offshore wind farm in the North Sea, they announced on Tuesday.

The Zurich-based municipal utility and its investment partner have acquired the stake from German municipal utilities network Trianel GmbH, which shares the remaining 75% equally with utility EWE AG. The latter formally committed to the project in December 2016. It said at the time that the pair was holding talks with third-party investors interested in taking the remaining shares in Trianel Borkum II.

EWZ and Fontavis did not say how much they paid for their participation in the project. Trianel inaugurated the 200-MW first phase of the Borkum project -- which consists of 40 pieces of Areva wind turbines -- at the very start of September 2015. The second phase of the scheme envisages erecting 32 units of Senvions 6.3-MW wind turbines.

According to EWZs statement, construction work would start offshore in the spring of 2018 and commissioning is planned for the end of 2019.

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20 February 2017

Whats driving the growth opportunities in wind?

Wind power has gained a foothold in Europe in the past two decades as a viable and efficient energy alternative. And with falling production costs now driving new demand for windfarms around the world, 2017 is expected to bring momentum and focus to the industry.

Macquarie expects worldwide wind capacity installation to grow on average 4.3 per cent a year to 2020, to a total of 66.5 gigawatts (GW). Falling production prices are boosting this trend, as the cost of unsubsidised wind power converges with prices for more traditional energy sources.

"Wind accounts for only 7.5 per cent of the overall global power mix but it is a dominant feature of new electricity capacity being installed, says Macquarie Research alternative energy analyst Gurpreet Gujral.

The levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) the net cost to install an energy system divided by its expected lifetime output for onshore wind worldwide could fall by 24 per cent by 2030 as turbine and generator designs continue to improve.

While Europe has led the way in wind power, other regions are now strongly embracing the technology. Macquarie forecasts new equipment demand will jump 32 per cent in the US in the next four years and 26 per cent in China. Large economies in Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe which currently have negligible wind power capacity are also likely to provide growth opportunities for the industry.

Europe moves offshore

Europe has been a significant driver of onshore wind farms in recent years, with Denmark, Sweden, Germany and Spain deriving more than 10 per cent of total energy from wind. While the pace of new installations in Europe has now stabilised, new revenue sources in the region are emerging for manufacturers.

One such source will be offshore wind sites. In 2015, global installed offshore wind capacity grew by 4.1GW to 11.7GW, most of which was commissioned in Germany and the UK.

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30 December 2016

Top 10 Renewable Energy Trends to Watch in 2017

A review of all the headlines published by Renewable Energy World this year revealed many interesting trends in the global renewable energy marketplace. Ten trends, however, stand out as being major stories to watch in 2017. Take a look, and add your comments below to let us know what stories you will be watching in the New Year.

No. 10: Renewable Jet Fuel

In addition to the commitments made this year by major airlines, such as jetBlue and United, to integrate renewable jet fuel into operations, governments around the world reached an agreement in October on the design of a global market-based measure for international aviation. The agreement is part of a larger plan to invest in new aviation technology, scale up renewable fuels use and improve operations to reduce carbon emissions from the airline industry. In 2017, expect an increase in announcements by airlines on the amount of renewable jet fuel in their operations and improvements in infrastructure to produce that fuel.

No. 9: Drones

Drones saw a lot of attention from the general public this year, and that attention will increase in the renewables space in 2017 as industry looks for ways to make this technology work in the field to improve project development and reduce costs of operations and maintenance. Here, expect to see the focus fall on improvements to the technologies housed on drones and the resulting modeling they can produce

No. 8: Pumped Storage + Renewables

Pumped storage hydro represents the most installed capacity of the energy storage technologies, and its use as a large-scale option for smoothing out renewable energy on the grid will grow in 2017. Expect, however, to see in the New Year more pumped storage hydro sites proposed that are collocated with other renewable energy technologies, such as wind and solar.

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26 December 2016

This is possible. We did it: the week Portugal ran on renewables

Campaigners say the 107 hours when the country was powered by wind, sun and water show they can replace fossil fuels.

If you can keep your gaze off the hilltops, imagine away the pylons and forget the occasional tractor of an uncertain vintage coughing along the narrow roads, little appears to have changed in the valleys of north-eastern Portugal for decades, perhaps even centuries.

The gnarled alvarinho vines have been relieved of their fruit to make vinho verde, an old woman in black herds her sheep through a hamlet and hungry eagles hover over the fields, scanning the land for lunch.

But look up, past the villages, the clumps of stout ponies and the wolf-haunted forests of pine, oak and eucalyptus, and the harbingers of an environmental revolution are silhouetted against the December sky.

The 130 giant wind turbines that sprout from the peaks, slicing the air with a rhythmic sigh, have helped Portugal to a remarkable achievement. For four and a half days in May the country ran entirely on electricity from renewable sources: wind, hydro and solar power.

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26 September 2016

Disruptive technology reshaping utilities sector

Disruptive technologies are changing the way power is both generated and consumed in Europe.

Within a decade, a smarter, more flexible system underpinned by renewable energy and connected home technology is expected to emerge. Decarbonisation, affordability and the need for a secure energy supply are all contributing to the way power needs are met across the globe. The trend is being driven by three types of technology: distributed generation, big data and electricity storage.

"The utilities sector hasnt really seen any major technology shifts for 50 years," says Macquarie Securities utilities sector analyst Dominic Nash.

"This is the first time we are going to see the consumer wanting to change how they operate. It will reshape the utilities sector."

It is not one single technology, explains Nash, but rather the combined impact of localised renewable energy generation, smart home devices and the arrival of battery storage via electric vehicles that will drive change. The impact is likely to include a reduction in energy bills for consumers across Europe. Utilities providers, meanwhile, are likely to face challenges because the traditional supply-driven business model of the centralised grid will be replaced by a new supply and demand driven network with millions of generation points.

Nash says it is hard to predict the extent to which this transformation will impact existing power stations. High voltage networks will undoubtedly be affected because the amount of electricity that flows through the high voltage grid will be reduced when a decentralised, local model comes into existence.

In the UK, the shift towards distributed generation and renewable energy has already begun with two thirds of coal, nuclear and gas-fired power stations set to close by 2030. The government has set binding targets to reduce carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, meaning new and cleaner forms of energy are needed to meet domestic power demand.

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23 June 2016

Sweden's deal leaves door to nuclear power open, but only just
Sweden has agreed to cut taxes on nuclear power generators and allow for the construction of new reactors but policymakers have yet to work out how that fits with a commitment to using 100 percent renewable energy.
Nuclear reactors provide about 40 percent of electricity in Sweden, ensuring stable supplies in one of the world's highest per capita power consumers.

But major ruling and opposition parties say Sweden should aim for all renewable energy by 2040, starting by adding 18 terawatt-hours (TWh) in annual renewable production during the next decade.

French utility EDF, the world's biggest operator of nuclear reactors, has said the June 10 agreement was a major boost for the industry, while Toshiba Corp's Westinghouse Electric, reactors' producer, urged other governments to follow Sweden's example.

But the major political parties also said that Sweden should aim to have "100 percent renewable electricity production" by 2040, while adding 18 terawatt-hours (TWh) in annual renewable production during the next decade.

State-owned Vattenfall, which operates seven out of nine active reactors, denied that the agreement meant the reactors would have to shut by 2040, and said the 100 percent target covered only domestic consumption.

"It means that there can still be nuclear reactors exporting power," said Torbjorn Wahlborg, head of Vattenfall's Generation, said.

Spokeswomen for the Energy Minister Ibrahim Baylan and for the Green Party, a junior member of the ruling coalition, challenged that view.

"That is not correct, because the target is formulated as electricity production... that means all production in Sweden is renewable," Lise Nordin, Green Party energy policy spokeswoman and member of the parliament, told Reuters.

While the agreement allows power generators "in theory" to build new reactors, in reality they would be too costly, she added.

"The probability that new nuclear power will be built is zero," Nordin said.

Wahlborg said it was unlikely that any entity would build nuclear reactors in Sweden during the next five to 10 years, given low power prices and plans to add more renewables, but he didn't exclude this in the longer term.

Sweden's biggest business lobby, the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, said the political deal was contradictory.

"To say that you will have 100 percent renewable electricity and that this doesn't mean closure of nuclear power is difficult to understand," Maria Suner Fleming, in charge of energy and climate policies at the Confederation, told Reuters.

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22 June 2016

In SolarCity Bid, Tesla’s Musk Targets Customers Wanting All

Tesla Motors Inc.’s offer to buy SolarCity Corp. would combine two already deeply linked companies to offer clean energy enthusiasts a one-stop shop.

According to billionaire Elon Musk, Tesla electric vehicles would return nightly to homes powered by SolarCity’s rooftop power systems. Energy stored in Tesla batteries could be used to recharge the cars.

The goal is to create a home energy network that reduces the use of fossil fuels, built around the Musk ecosystem: He’s the founder and chief executive officer of Tesla, chairman of SolarCity and the largest shareholder of both. The combination is “blindingly obvious,” he said on a conference call Tuesday, and it’s part of the reason why he’s long described Tesla not as a car company, but as a provider of “energy innovation.”

There are hurdles to the proposed pairing.

“The challenge I see around this for both companies is that they’re kind of strapped for cash,” said Hugh Bromley, an analyst for Bloomberg New Energy Finance in New York. “They both need cash injections to fuel their growth.”

Future Growth

“SolarCity has been trying to do that with securitization and bond offerings and Tesla was really reliant on the success of the Model 3 to fund its future growth,” Bromley said. “So with these two cash-strapped businesses, how do you fund growth for the future? I don’t have an answer for that, because neither have done very well.”

Including net debt, the deal values the company at about $5.7 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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17 June 2016

Sweden decides it’s not so easy to give up nuclear power

Nuclear power has been falling out of favor in Europe ever since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. Italy has closed all its reactors. Germany, Belgium, and Switzerland are in the midst of retiring their fleets. Even France, which gets 77 percent of its electricity from nuclear, has been discussing a partial phaseout.

Yet for a continent that prides itself on being a leader on global warming, shutting down a major source of reliable, carbon-free electricity isn’t always easy. And Sweden is a great case study here.

Until recently, Sweden's nuclear reactors — which provide 40 percent of the nation's electricity — were on track to close prematurely in the coming years, as government policies favored renewables. But last week, the country switched course. Under a new agreement, Sweden will get rid of a key tax that had been hurting nuclear, allowing existing reactors to keep running for longer. The country’s utilities will also now be permitted to build up to 10 new reactors to replace those scheduled to retire. (Though whether they actually do is an open question.)

Officially, Sweden still has a goal of moving to 100 percent renewable energy by 2040. But this new policy is, effectively, a backstop. If it turns out to be much harder than expected to power the entire country with wind, hydro, and solar alone — as some experts think it could be — then nuclear power will remain a ready option.

Why Sweden's nuclear reactors were in trouble

A quick bit of history: After the OPEC oil crises in the 1970s, Sweden went on a nuclear-building spree to cut its fossil fuel dependence. This was one of the fastest feats of decarbonization the world has ever seen, along with France’s nuclear buildout. Here’s a list of the country’s nine current reactors, sited at three locations:


(World Nuclear Association)

Nuclear power remains controversial — the country has been debating phaseouts since 1980 — but it does provide real benefits to Sweden’s grid. These nine reactors supply 40 percent of the country’s electricity (hydropower provides another 50 percent, with the rest from wind and fossil fuels). Sweden now has one of the lowest-emission grids on the planet. And the nation exports surplus electricity to its neighbors, particularly Finland.

But in recent years, Sweden’s nuclear reactors have become starkly unprofitable. On June 10, it cost 3.8 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to operate these reactors, on average. But operators only received around 2.6 cents/kWh for their nuclear electricity.
Why the shortfall? Operating costs have increased in recent years, not least because plants have been required to adopt more stringent safety requirements after the 2011 Fukushima meltdown in Japan. At the same time, electricity prices have plummeted, partly due to economic malaise in Europe and partly due to subsidies that have made wind power artificially cheap in the Nordic power markets.

There’s also a third reason: Ever since 2000, Sweden has levied a tax on nuclear power that recently got ratcheted up to nearly 1 cent per kWh. This tax helped raise revenue for renewable investments, reaping $484 million last year. But it was also driving nuclear out of business. Vattenfall, the company that operates seven of these reactors, warned that unless the tax was modified, most of the country’s nuclear power would be shut down by 2020, well ahead of schedule.

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16 June 2016

Developers Optimistic About Finland’s Offshore Wind Market

As Finland gets underway with development of its first offshore wind farm, developers are optimistic over what the project means for future development of offshore wind in the country.

Early work on the 120 million euro (US$134.2 million), 40 MW Tahkoluoto wind farm began this spring, and is being led by Finnish wind energy production company Suomen Hyötytuuli Oy. For Siemens — which next summer is installing 10 of its 4-MW SWT-4.0-130 turbines at the wind farm — it is not only the company’s first commercial offshore project in Finland, but its most northerly one too.

While grid connection is not expected until fall 2017, the project is garnering considerable attention.

Located on the 61st parallel north, with an annual temperature in the closest city of Pori of just 4.2 degrees Celsius, and temperatures below freezing five months of the year, developers are aware that Tahkoluoto presents exceptional challenges for an offshore build.

Arto Huhmarkangas, project director for Tahkoluoto, told Renewable Energy World that ice is by far the single greatest concern, noting that “Tahkoluoto will be the world’s first offshore wind farm designed for icy conditions and the harsh effects of pack-ice.”

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“The project aims to find solutions [to these harsh conditions]; for instance, clever marine construction methods and innovations in ice measurement,” Huhmarkangas said.

Fortunately, the developers are not working without direction. In 2010, Siemens installed a 2.3-MW wind turbine to serve as a pilot for the Tahkoluoto development. Located 1.2 km off the Finnish coast — at the same site as the upcoming build — Huhmarkangas says the turbine yielded “valuable data during the last six years,” concerning foundation technologies and turbine performance, while demonstrating feasibility of the wind farm. The turbine also proved the excellent wind conditions of the site — averaging an annual production of 9.36 GWh.

At least part of the solution for Tahkoluoto is found in its gravity-based steel foundations — supplied by Technip Offshore Finland — which will feature a conical top designed to withstand heavy ice-loading in waters up to 15 meters deep.

Planning has also been informed by increasing amounts of research into arctic wind power — work largely supported by the likes of Finland, Norway and Sweden; stakeholders keen to enable cost-effective wind power in challenging environments.

With a planned capacity of just 40 MW (155 GWh per year), Tahkoluoto certainly isn’t the largest offshore farm, but because of design features necessitated by its arctic environment, it’s pitched to serve an important function beyond powering some 8,600 Finnish homes

10 June 2016

Dr Alastair Martin: Powering up for a flexible future

Managing renewables requires a different approach, writes Alastair Martin

Europe’s most efficient gas power station, near Munich, is in mothballs. The ending of power generation at Longannet was one of a long series of closures, which has not yet run its course. Stations which managed to stay open now fight for run-hours. Over the past five years, wholesale electricity prices across Europe have halved.

Yet infrastructure is booming. A Norwegian consortium recently applied for permission to connect Peterhead with southern Norway with an undersea cable. Scottish Power’s ‘Western Bootstrap’ will soon join Ayrshire to the Wirral. In a few years, Britain will sit at the centre of a cat’s cradle of gigawatt-scale submarine power lines.

At Flexitricity, we are currently besieged by battery developers, a breed of entrepreneur unheard of until recently. They’re all working on small energy storage projects that, collectively, would take Britain’s ability to store electricity from zero to more capacity than the nuclear industry had at its peak.

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12 May 2016

Nissan, Eaton to Release Residential Energy Storage Product ‘xStorage’

Nissan and power management provider Eaton on May 10 said they are working together to release a new residential energy storage system that they claim will be “the most affordable in the market today.”

Available to pre-order in Europe in September 2016, the ‘xStorage’ unit will connect to the power grid or renewable generators, such as solar panels, and charge up when grid power is cheaper, for example during the night, or when energy is being generated from renewable resources.

Paul Willcox, Chairman, Nissan Europe, said in a statement: “It is high time consumers were given the flexibility and power to control how and when they use energy in their own homes. The new xStorage solution combines Nissan’s expertise in vehicle design and reliable battery technology with Eaton’s leadership in power quality and electronics, resulting in a formidable second life battery solution. We want to make energy storage exciting and affordable to everyone, not least because it delivers real consumer benefits whilst ensuring smarter and more sustainable energy management for the grid.”

According to the companies, homeowners will be able to control the xStorage from a smartphone. In addition, Nissan plans to recycle old electric vehicle batteries to build the new xStorage units.

Cyrille Brisson, vice president of marketing for Eaton Electrical in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said the starting price for the xStorage will be 4,000 euros (US$4,500) for a 4.2 KWh unit. Tesla’s 6.4 kWh Powerwall residential energy storage unit is currently priced at about 2,600 euros (US$3,000).

While the cost of the Powerwall unit is less than xStorage, Eaton and Nissan said that, unlike Powerwall, xStorage will include professional installation and all requisite extras, such as cables.

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28 April 2016

Renewables Swamp Natural Gas in First Quarter 2016

New Renewable Energy Generating Capacity — 1,291 MW

New Natural Gas Generating Capacity — 18 MW

Nothing at All from Coal, Oil or Nuclear

Washington DC — Setting a new lopsided quarterly record, renewable sources (i.e., wind, solar, biomass, and hydropower) outpaced — in fact, swamped — natural gas by a factor of more than 70:1 for new electrical generating capacity placed in-service during the first three months of calendar year 2016. 

According to the latest just-released monthly "Energy Infrastructure Update" report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) Office of Energy Projects, nine new "units" of wind provided 707 MW, followed by 44 units of solar (522 MW), 9 units of biomass (33 MW), and one unit of hydropower (29 MW). By comparison, only two new units of natural gas (18 MW) came on line. There was no new capacity reported for the quarter from coal, oil, nuclear power, or geothermal steam. 

Further, solar (75 MW), wind (72 MW), and biomass (33 MW) accounted for 100 percent of new generating capacity reported by FERC for just the month of March. Solar and wind were the only sources of new capacity in January as well. 

Renewable energy sources now account for 18.11 percent of total available installed generating capacity in the U.S.: water — 8.58 percent; wind — 6.39 percent; biomass — 1.43 percent; solar — 1.38 percent; and geothermal steam — 0.33 percent. For perspective, when FERC issued its first "Energy Infrastructure Update" in December 2010, renewable sources accounted for just 13.71 percent.

Moreover, the share of total available installed generating capacity now provided by non-hydro renewables (9.53 percent) not only exceeds that of conventional hydropower (8.58 percent) but is also greater than that from either nuclear power (9.17 percent) or oil (3.83 percent).*

While often touted as being a 'bridge fuel,' natural gas is increasingly becoming an unnecessary bridge to nowhere. As renewables continue to rapidly expand their share of the nation's electrical generation, it's becoming clear that natural gas will eventually join coal, oil, and nuclear power as fuels of the past.

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7 April 2016

Abengoa continues its divestment plan with the sale of four photovoltaic plants

• The assets, located in the provinces of Seville and Jaen, are valued at 57.2 M€.
• This operation is part of Abengoa´s recent divestment policy and represents further progress in the feasibility process the company is carrying out.

Abengoa (MCE: ABG.B / P SM / NASDAQ: ABGB), an international company that applies innovative technology solutions for sustainable development in the energy and environment sectors, has sold Vela Energy four photovoltaic plants located in the provinces of Seville and Jaen. The agreement, included in the divestment plan recently announced by the company, implies a debt reduction of 50.3 M€ and a net cash inflow of 12.2 M€, and will contribute to achieving the targets set in the viability plan of New Abengoa.

Abengoa has sold four solar photovoltaic plants located in the provinces of Seville: Casaquemada, 1.88 MW located at the Solucar Platform in Sanlucar la Mayor; Cabezas de San Juan with a capacity of 5.70 MW, Copero, 0.90 MW in Dos Hermanas; and Jaen: Linares, of 1.89 MW. Abengoa owned 100 % of these plants, with the exception of the installation of Copero, in which it owned a 50 % stake.

This operation is part of the divestment policy of Abengoa and represents further progress in the feasibility process which the company is carrying out. Recently, Abengoa has also announced the sale of the wind farm of Campo Palomas, located in Uruguay; its participation in the Shams-1 solar power plant, located in United Arab Emirates; as well as other properties such as the former headquarters of the company in Madrid.

About Abengoa

Abengoa (MCE: ABG.B/P SM /NASDAQ: ABGB) applies innovative technology solutions for sustainability in the energy and environment sectors, generating electricity from renewable resources, converting biomass into biofuels and producing drinking water from sea water. (

About Vela

Vela Energy is a leading independent renewable energy producer in the South of Europe. Vela invests and operates large scale solar photovoltaic plants in Spain and Italy, with a portfolio of 122MWp own plants and a total of 240MWp under management.


4 April 2016

Vestas Targeting 'High End Niche' in Chinese Wind Industry

Vestas Wind Systems A/S is targeting a high-end niche in the Chinese wind industry with a new strategy to take on the world’s largest renewable energy market that is also infamously difficult for foreign companies.

“We decided to take our latest and biggest turbine to China,’’ said Chairman Bert Nordberg in an interview in Aarhus, Denmark. “They are interested because of the efficiency’’ even though the Danish company faces price pressure from Chinese developers.

While China is the world’s biggest renewable energy market, Western companies have found it difficult to gain market share because its energy industry is made up of large state-owned enterprises that have historically favored domestic manufacturers. The country installed nearly 79 GW of clean energy in 2015, five times more than Denmark’s entire electricity system, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Nordberg’s remarks set out the strategy for Vestas, which also plans to expand its operations and maintenance services business to as much as 50 percent of its activities and perhaps to make acquisitions.

“There’s going to be a trend for outsourcing the management of wind parks from energy companies if they are pressed with the low energy prices,” he said. “We want to be able to do that. That might require more acquisitions of service companies. If the right one came along, yes absolutely.’’

When it comes to China, Nordberg said Western companies have difficulty making inroads. Local manufacturers such as Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co. receive the vast majority of orders. Goldwind became the world’s top installer last year, according to BNEF’s global onshore-wind rankings.

“Vestas wins on quality,” Nordberg said. “We claim to be the cheapest turbine in China because our turbines last twice the time of a Chinese one. I think I’ve convinced them that cost of ownership is a better way of calculating than purchase price of a turbine.’’

The Danish manufacturer has no plans to make a cheaper turbine to be more competitive, he said.

It bought service providers UpWind Solutions Inc. in the U.S. and Availon in Germany for a total of $156 million in 2015.

Vestas has posted profits in the past nine quarters and has more than 2 billion euros ($2.3 billion) in cash. Other than potential acquisitions, Chief Executive Officer Anders Runevad didn’t rule out a second share buyback when he spoke to shareholders at an annual meeting on Wednesday in Aarhus. The company plans to keep its dividend steady, Nordberg said.

Vestas favors the service business because profit margins are wider than for manufacturing, according to Bloomberg Intelligence analyst James Evans. Vestas could get even higher margins if it expands the maintenance of turbines made by other companies, he said.

“I have a vision that services profit should pay for the whole company — that we don’t have to sell any turbines to survive,’’ Nordberg said. “It goes up and down, the business cycles, but services are a seven-, 10-, 20-year contract so it’s more stable.’’

Vestas could reach this stage in three to four years, he said.

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4 April 2016

Roof to Outlet – New Consumer Tools for Smooth Solar Transactions

We know that commercial and utility-scale solar installations are ringing up impressive numbers of megawatts.  These vast solar power plants are bringing significant clean energy into the grid. But, it’s the door-to-door systems that are taking solar local, as rooftop residential systems are reaching new highs, adding more solar customers and constituents to the rolls.  In 2015, residential solar was the fastest growing sector, topping 2014 numbers by 66 percent, as reported by the Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research.

This kind of growth for the residential market means that more people are sitting down with contractors and salespeople to bring solar into their homes.  As exciting and innovative as it is to have your own personal, clean power plant on the roof, signing on the dotted line can be a complicated transaction with unfamiliar contractual arrangements that need to be understood.

This is not a casual purchase nor should it be impulsive. And navigating the terms and conditions shouldn’t be a mystery ride.

IREC’s new trio of consumer protection guidance documents includes three important pieces, taking the puzzling out of the puzzle.

The anchor is the Clean Energy Consumer Bill of Rights. Here, IREC steps through what are the “must dos” for protective measures covering safety issues, contractual transparency, warranties, advertising, privacy, access to the grid and consumption data.  If followed, the Bill of Rights is an enabler leading to satisfied customers who tell reassuring solar-buyer stories.

IREC’s Clean Energy Consumer Bill of Rights also serves as a guide for government agencies and consumer groups to reference for practices and protocols they should expect and require of clean energy service providers.  The protective measures listed in the Bill of Rights strike a fair balance for the consumer and the companies that sell products and services.

The Solar Smart Consumer Checklist is a handy, one-sheet guide that puts right into consumers’ hands the questions to ask, and the points to cover when they’re sitting with salespeople at the kitchen table discussing what could go up on their roofs.  It provides focus and an extra pair of eyes.  When followed, the Checklist can avoid problems during the negotiations and long after the transaction.  IREC encourages contractors, retail outlets, government agencies and others to distribute this Checklist as a courtesy tool for consumers.

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5 April 2016

Listen Up: How Do Solar Companies Find Their Customers?

According to a recent study, residential solar installation costs in the U.S. were basically unchanged from Q4 2014 to Q4 2015. But Customer Acquisition costs actually went up. While solar panel, inverter and mounting system costs have consistently declined, the data show that it is getting increasingly expensive to identify, contact and sell a system to a homeowner.

I find it quite ironic that the marketing and sales costs to find a solar customer are greater than the labor costs to actually install a system. There is a lot of money to be made in identifying a warm body who is interested in solar. In fact, many companies in the solar industry focus only on customer acquisition — and sell the resulting leads or signed contracts to local installers.

My guest on this week’s show is Chris Stern, a founder of Pure Energies. They started out as an installer in Canada, but then began to specialize in customer acquisition. Pure Energies became so effective at finding potential solar customers that they sold the business to a national scale solar installer. Please join me on this week’s Energy Show on Renewable Energy World as Chris explains the website “funnels”, internet advertising tricks and call centers that provide fuel to the residential solar industry.

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1 April 2016

Why Energy Storage May Be The Most Important Technology In The World Right Now

In 1882, Thomas Edison built the Pearl Street Station, the world’s first steam powered electrical distribution plant. In the years that followed, intense competition broke out between him and George Westinghouse, which became known as the War of the Currents, and the technology improved markedly in the coming decades.

As Robert Gordon pointed out in The Rise and Fall of American Growth, by 1940 life had been fully transformed. Even middle class homes had most of the modern conveniences we enjoy today, including refrigerators, air conditioners, telephones and radios. Soon, they would have TV’s as well.
Today, we’re going through a similar revolution. Just as electric light became competitive with gas light more than a century ago, renewable energy and electric cars are becoming competitive with technologies based on fossil fuels. However, for the new technologies to become truly transformative, we need to develop a new generation of batteries to power them.

The Lithium Ion Revolution

In The Powerhouse, author Steve Levine explains how when John Goodenough first discovered the principles of lithium-ion batteries in 1979, it was little more than an academic curiosity and hardly anyone took notice. By the early 1990’s though, improved microchips created demand for more powerful portable devices and Sony developed a commercial version.

Since then, as researchers from the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR) point out in a paper explaining the issues surrounding energy storage, Lithium ion technology has improved enormously. This has lead energy densities to improve on earlier technologies by a factor of six and costs to drop by a factor of 10.

In a conversation, George Crabtree, Director of JCESR, explained what the ramifications of these improvements have been. “Batteries take up 90% of the weight and volume of a laptop,” he told me. “So imagine what they would look like if they were 6 times bigger.” Wireless technology, as we know it, simply wouldn’t be possible.

Yet today, Lithium ion batteries are doing far more than simply power laptops and smartphones, but are being used in high performance cars like the Tesla Model S and the Chevy Bolt. They are also being deployed to overcome the intermittency of renewable energy sources like solar and wind and to replace inefficient peaker plants that run only in times of high demand.

Still, while there has been enormous progress, Lithium ion batteries are too expensive to displace conventional technologies such as gasoline engines for cars and gas turbines for electricity.  Prices need to fall by an additional 50%-80% to be economically compelling for cars and the grid.

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31 March 2016

Spain's Renewable Giant Abengoa Wins Grace Period, Still Faces Pressure

After months of financial pressure, Spain’s renewable firm Abengoa announced that it had received a seven month grace period from creditors as it explores options for reorganization without seeking bankruptcy protection – outside of the U.S, at least.

According to press reports, the Spanish firm was able to work out a deal with creditors that will allow seven months of “breathing room” for the company to find an alternative to bankruptcy protection.

The deal comes after Abengoa finished out 2015 with $10.5 billion in dept. Under the agreement, Abengoa hopes to cut that amount in half and emerge without having to file. However, the company plans on filing for Chapter 11 protection for its U.S. affiliates.
The move marks another challenge for the country’s renewable industry, which was once promoted as an economic force to move Spain beyond a narrow economic base.

In addition to providing a new and long-term economic force for Spain – something other than the real estate bubble that had spurred the previous decade of growth and been a main culprit in its economic collapse – the country’s solar industry was supposed to serve as an example for the rest of the export dependent Northern Mediterranean.

With limited domestic hydrocarbon reserves, but plenty of sun, countries in the region were supposed to finally find a way to reduce their dependence on costly and increasingly unreliable oil and gas. With firm government backing and an obvious meteorological advantage, Spain was supposed to lead the charge.

However, almost eight years on since the country’s economy began to falter under immense pressure from global markets and its own narrow base, that government backing has been dismantled and with it, investor confidence in the industry.

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24 March 2016

Is Nuclear Power A Renewable Or A Sustainable Energy Source?

Nuclear power is presently a sustainable energy source, but could become completely renewable if the source of uranium changed from mined ore to seawater. Since U extracted is continuously replenished through geologic processes, nuclear would become as endless as solar.
But do renewable and sustainable mean the same thing in the energy world?

Not necessarily. As Professor Jason Donev from the University of Calgary puts it, “Not everything renewable is sustainable, and in turn not everything which is sustainable is necessarily renewable.”

Renewable literally means ‘to make new again’. Any resource that naturally replenishes with time, like the creation of wind or the growth of biological organisms for biomass or biofuels, is certainly renewable. Renewable energy means that the energy humans extract from nature will generally replace itself.

On the other hand, a sustainable energy source can be maintained for a definable period of time, one whose total amount will last for the period of human history that needs it, at the rate it is being used or expected to be used. It may or may not be renewed at some rate.
Human energy use is dominated by a small list of primary energy types, of which the following sources are considered to be renewable: Solar power, Wind power, Hydropower, Tidal power and Geothermal energy.

Energy sources are considered non-renewable if they take a very long time to be created, like fossil fuels, or if their creation happened long ago and is not likely to happen again, like uranium.

However, we are not running out of coal, oil or natural gas anytime soon. Thanks to fracking, our oil and natural gas reserves keep growing. Just look at Donev’s data visualization to see what’s happened to the amount of economically-recoverable natural gas as a function of time. What was thought to be global gas reserves at the time went from 60,000 Mtoe in 1980 to 170,000 in 2013.

Natural gas is not renewable but current technology allows us to access such a staggering amount, that it may seem infinite by past standards. And future technologies will extract even more. Keeping humans from using so much accessible fossil fuel just to protect the environment will be very, very difficult.

But even a renewable energy resource becomes unsustainable whenever it’s used faster than it regenerates. This is often seen for geothermal energy, where the heat is not renewed fast enough by the hot rocks and the temperature at the inlet decreases below the point that produces steam.

Conversely, a non-renewable resource can be sustainable if it’s used at a slow enough rate that supplies last for thousands of years, and the environmental impacts don’t cause huge problems. This is most obvious with respect to nuclear power. Like fossil fuel, the amount of uranium available from conventional sources has long been underestimated. Reserves are only calculated for economically recoverable sources using present-day technologies and pricing. Both keep getting better.

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16 March 2016

Will Renewables Revolutionize The Utility Industry?

As part of the ongoing struggle between conventional utilities and providers of renewable energy, advocates of Cleantech (notably solar and wind) are arguing that the utility industry is undergoing the kind of disruptive change that other industries have experienced, such as the way cellular phone technology turned the telephone monopoly into a vibrant, competitive industry. Efforts by existing utilities to restrict renewable power, primarily from rooftop solar, have been met with scorn, and numerous predictions claim that “Solar panels could destroy U.S. utilities.” A vision of a nation of consumers producing their own power and utilities withering away is common.

Should we be skeptical of such claims? After all, there have been numerous technological and regulatory changes that were predicted to revolutionize the industry, and it has evolved but remains intact. The biggest change was the deregulation of the sector, and particularly of generation, which led to a variety of both spin-offs and mergers, making power generation more competitive and efficient. Indeed, the shift from coal to gas in recent years partly reflects the increased emphasis on market competition for power sales between producers.

The Internet is the best example of a revolutionary, disruptive technology in recent decades, and it has dramatically changed the retail industry. On the other hand, the predicted impact on transportation has not been seen. True, there are many (like your humble narrator) who work from home, relying heavily on the internet, but the airline industry has not been transformed. The figure below, showing internet users and airlines’ passenger revenue miles in the U.S. suggests that recessions have much more impact on air travel than the growth of the internet. Travel seems to be growing more slowly, especially since the 2008 recession, but fuel prices and low-cost carriers are a bigger threat to the airlines than the substitution of web meetings for face-to-face encounters (at least so far).

For the power sector, there have been a number of changes that were argued to be revolutionary, including distributed generation, ‘negawatts,’ energy service companies, independent power producers, gas turbines, and, going back decades, nuclear power. Many of these have progressed and made important contributions, but the utility industry still consists of monopoly distribution of electric power. Self-generation by large users has reduced utility sales, but without doing irreversible damage to the industry. (DOE data suggests that 96% of power was generated by the electric power sector, and 4% mostly by the industrial sector. Renewable power is also equal to 4% of the total, much of it by the power sector itself.)

The reality is that nearly all wind power comes from either utilities themselves or independent power producers, and as such are no more “disruptive” to the utility sector than natural gas turbines. Only if small customers were generating their own power on a large scale would there be a serious change to the industry. In terms of wind, this doesn’t appear imminent to say the least; rooftop and backyard turbines remain a minor source of electricity and seem unlikely to contribute much for years to come. Large solar plants are roughly the same to the industry as gas turbines, that is, power producers, often owned by the utilities themselves.

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11 March 2016

Siemens Plans Wind Turbine Blade Factory in Morocco

Siemens on March 10 said it has reached an agreement with the Moroccan government that will allow the company to build a wind turbine rotor blade factory for onshore wind turbines in Tangier.

"We invest where we see strong business opportunities," Markus Tacke, CEO of the Siemens Wind Power and Renewables Division, said in a statement. "Morocco is the perfect location from which to serve the growing onshore wind power markets in Africa, the Middle East and Europe. The economy is strong, the political climate is stable, and Morocco has a young, skilled and motivated workforce. These factors make Tangier the ideal site for this new state-of-the-art factory."

Siemens said that the new facility will have a surface area of 37,500 square meters and will be located near Tanger Med port, which provides the right conditions for the handling and export of blades to various locations in Africa, the Middle East and Europe.

Construction of the factory is expected to start in the spring, and operations are schedule to begin in 2017.

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11 March 2016

New Polish Government Under Fire for Crackdown on Wind Energy Expansion

The new Polish Government’s intention to curb wind energy expansion in the country has met a severe backlash from local wind market players and international wind energy executives alike.

Barely sworn into the office, Jan Szyszko, Poland’s new minister of Environment, said that the Law and Justice Party, which he represents, is against the expansion of wind power facilities in the country.

He was quoted by Polish media in late February as saying: “Geothermal energy, not wind energy, will definitely be the priority of this government…In the first we see a possibility to meet the air quality norms in urbanized parts of the country. The situation is completely different with wind farms. Wind farms destroy the landscape arrangement and are alien to the Polish cultural heritage and harmful to natural reserves.”
The European Union requires Poland to produce 15 percent of its electric power from renewables by 2020, up from around 12 percent currently. Heavily reliant on coal to produce its energy, previous Polish governments have developed biomass energy sources and subsidized the construction of wind farms.

In the bill on Wind Investments, drawn up by the Conservative Polish Government in late February, a set of new demands for wind power developers is laid out.

Polish wind harnessers fear that the demands, if implemented, will significantly impede or phase out the country’s existing wind farms and will make it impossible to launch new ones.

Among the hotly contested provisions is the ban for construction of wind turbines within 2 kilometers from the nearest house or forest to prevent ice falls from rotor blades; if the bill goes into force, wind farm operators will need to obtain an operation permit every two years from the Technical Supervision Office (TSO); operators will be charged with a fee of up to 1 percent of the wind turbine investment cost until a local regulation to be drafted will decide otherwise; operators will need to obtain an approval for any repair or modernization of technical fixtures of a wind turbine.

Additional requirements for existing wind farms include the demand for investors, who already run wind facilities in the country, to obtain an operation permit for the wind turbines within one year. Besides, operators of existing wind farms will not be able to change the envelope of turbines, but only be allowed to do maintenance and repairs in the already installed machines.

“If the draft is passed, it will phase out existing wind farms as it would exclude over 99 percent of the Polish territory from wind energy development,” Janusz Gajowiecki, deputy director of Poland’s Wind Energy Association told Renewable Energy World. “New development would therefore be prohibited while increases in operational costs would severely impact existing wind farms.”
By requiring permitting procedures every two years, the draft, he says, creates unnecessarily expensive and “cumbersome obligations” for manufacturers vis-à-vis the TSO.

“The cost of obtaining permits from the TSO, capped at 1 percent value of a wind turbine, and threefold increase in real estate taxation would massively drive up operational costs,” the deputy director said.

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10 March 2016

Opportunity Grows for German Solar Firms in Iran

“Made in Germany” should mean money for companies tapping Iran’s underdeveloped but potentially enormous solar market, according to a government-commissioned report.

With economic sanctions against Iran lifted, German solar firms have a “huge sales” opportunity, said BSW Solar, a Berlin-based industry group. Iran has reinstated 20-year power purchase agreements and set feed-in-tariffs at “highly profitable” rates of 17 to 30 euros cents ($0.33) per kilowatt-hour, according to the 134-page report paid for by Germany’s Foreign Office.

“The political will in Iran to realize success in this market is abundantly clear,” said report author and BSW head, Joerg Mayer. “What counts now for German firms is the speed and determination to build business relations” with Iran.

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8 March 2016

Canada’s First Ministers Issue Declaration on Clean Energy, Climate Change

Canada's First Ministers last week released a declaration on clean growth and climate change they say will move the country toward a pan-Canadian framework that would meet or exceed Canada’s international emissions targets.

"We know that a fair transition to a sustainable, low-carbon economy is necessary for our collective prosperity, competitiveness, health, and security,” the First Ministers said in a joint communication. “Taking smart and effective action today is essential for future generations. These decisions will put Canada at the forefront of the global clean growth economy, and will create opportunities to diversify our economies, open up access to new markets, reduce emissions, and generate good paying, long-term jobs for Canadians.”

Canada last year set a goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

To support Canada’s goals of supporting climate change mitigation and promoting use of renewable energy, the First Ministers directed immediate work in four areas — clean technology, innovation, and jobs; carbon pricing mechanisms adapted to each province's and territory's specific circumstances and in particular the realities of Canada's Indigenous peoples and Arctic and sub-Arctic regions; specific mitigation opportunities; and, adaptation and climate resilience.

Four working groups will be established to report on these priorities. Their reports will be submitted to the ministerial tables charged with overseeing their work and will be made public. Ministers will review those reports and provide their recommendations to First Ministers by October. Those recommendations and the reports of the working groups will be used to develop the pan-Canadian framework for clean growth and climate change, a concrete plan that will also allow us to meet our international commitments.

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3 March 2016

Almost 100 Million Homes May Run Only on Solar by 2020

Almost 100 million households worldwide may be powered by solar panels by 2020, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

The off-grid solar market has grown to $700 million now from non-existent less than a decade ago, according to a report Thursday from the London-based research company and the World Bank Group’s Lighting Global. They expect that to swell to $3.1 billion by the end of the decade.

There are about 1.2 billion people without access to energy and another billion who are connected to a national grid, but with unstable power. The report estimates that they spent $27 billion on crude lighting methods such as kerosene and candles last year. The demand for reliable energy is soaring with burgeoning populations and rising industrialization in emerging economies.

About 95 percent of these people are in sub-Saharan Africa and developing parts of Asia — and this is where the off-grid industry is taking hold. Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia are leading the way in Africa and India in Asia.

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2 March 2016

Energy Storage May Save UK Consumers $3.35 Billion by 2030

Energy storage technologies may save U.K. consumers as much as 2.4 billion pounds ($3.35 billion) a year by 2030, according to a new report funded by three utilities.

By curbing the need for grid upgrades and boosting use of wind turbines and solar panels, energy storage could deliver savings equal to about 50 pounds a year for households, EON AG, SSE Plc and Scottish Power Ltd. said in a report Wednesday. The paper was written by the Carbon Trust, an organization that helps companies reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

“Energy storage has long been seen as a panacea for the low carbon energy sector in the U.K., offering a suite of services to balance the system, make electricity networks more efficient and help the U.K. to meet its carbon targets at the lowest cost,” said Andrew Lever, director of innovation at the Carbon Trust.

Government red tape is one barrier preventing wider deployment of energy storage in the U.K., according to the report, which calls for the creation of a task force that could help remove barriers to investment.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change will call for evidence in the first half of this year about how to reduce regulatory barriers, according to an e-mailed statement from the department.

“More than 80 million pounds of public sector controlled support has been committed to U.K. energy storage research, development and demonstration activities since 2012,” DECC said.

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23 February 2016

Statkraft, Credit Suisse Fund to Invest $1.2 Billion in Wind Power in Norway

Statkraft AS and partners including a Credit Suisse-backed fund will invest 1.1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) in wind power in central Norway, reviving a project after bringing down costs and boosting capacity.

Together with investment company Nordic Wind Power DA and utility Troenderenergi AS, Statkraft plans to build six wind farms in mid-Norway by 2020 with a combined capacity of 1,000 MW, the company said Tuesday in a statement. Statkraft will own 52.1 percent, while Nordic Wind, a company backed by Credit Suisse Energy Infrastructure Partners, will hold 40 percent.

“It is the biggest wind power investment in Norway and the biggest onshore wind power project in Europe,” President Christian Rynning-Toennesen said at a web cast press conference in Trondheim. “It will produce enough power to provide 170,000 Norwegian houses with light and heat.”

Norwegian state-owned Statkraft in 2014 canceled a similar $1.4 billion wind project because it was deemed unprofitable. The new project had been ”significantly revised” to improve profitability, with fewer and larger units at windier locations farther north, according to Rynning-Tønnesen.

Economies of scale set the project apart from other renewable opportunities, Dominik Bollier, a managing partner at Credit Suisse Energy Infrastructure, said at the press conference. A long-term contract with Norwegian aluminum producer Norsk Hydro ASA finally provided the cash-flow stability needed, he said.

Still, since the first project Nordic power prices for 2020 have dropped 35 percent. The region is facing a power glut from renewable generation, which caused Vattenfall AB and EON SE to decide to shut four Swedish nuclear reactors by 2020, which are able to produce 15 TWh a year.

Read more here:

01 February, 2016

Spain’s Gamesa Is in Talks With Siemens on Wind-Turbine Merger

Gamesa Corp. Tecnologica SA of Spain and Siemens AG are in talks to merge wind power units, a combination that could create the world’s largest wind turbine maker.

Gamesa, based in Zamudio, Spain, said negotiations are on a “potential integration of certain wind businesses of Siemens and the company via a merger,” according to a regulatory filing Friday. No decision has been made, it said.

Siemens would hold a majority in the combined entity and a deal could be announced in the coming days, according to a person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because discussions are private. Siemens is also holding talks about buying Iberdrola SA’s 20 percent stake in Gamesa, according to people familiar with the matter.

Siemens spokesman Dennis Hofmann declined to comment.

Gamesa’s network of installed turbines is attractive to Siemens, which has been trying to expand the proportion of its revenue from service contracts. The German engineering firm leads in machines designed for use offshore, while Gamesa specializes in on-shore wind. Together, they would have about 15 percent of the global wind market, making the combined company the world largest maker of wind turbines, exceeding Vestas Wind Systems A/S’s 10 percent share, and General Electric Co.’s 11 percent, according to data compiled by BNEF.

Gamesa shares rose 19 percent to close at 17.11 euros, valuing the company at 4.8 billion euros ($5.2 billion).

©2016 Bloomberg News

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28 January, 2016

US Wind Industry Sees Its Second-Best Quarter Ever

With the addition of 5,001 megawatts in the fourth quarter of 2015, total wind energy capacity in the U.S. is now just shy of 75 gigawatts, according to the latest market report from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

Last year, the U.S. installed 8,598 megawatts of wind power, up 77 percent over the 4,854 megawatts installed in 2014. The 5,001 megawatts added in fourth quarter of 2015 surpassed the entire previous year, and marked the second best quarter ever recorded.

Overall, there are now 74,472 megawatts of installed wind capacity in the U.S., up from 16,702 megawatts at the beginning of 2008. Meanwhile, wind costs have dropped 66 percent over the past six years.

But while the industry hit some major milestones, 2015 was still only the third-best year for wind power capacity after 2012 and 2009, which is a reflection of ongoing policy uncertainty.

However, the wind industry expects to see strong and steady growth going forward thanks to the recent five-year extension of the Production Tax Credit (PTC), and growing demand for renewable energy to help states comply with the EPA Clean Power Plan, AWEA leaders said on a call with reporters yesterday.

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28 January, 2016

The 9 Lives of an Energy Company: What Does the Energy Company of the Future Look Like?

In 2015, major energy companies were still trying to navigate a systematic re-orientation of electricity markets. NRG, E.ON, RWE and Enel all amended their corporate structures to address broader changes in the sector. The first three, NRG, E.ON, and RWE, announced plans to split off their advanced energy activity from their conventional, fossil fuel oriented businesses, while Enel re-integrated their renewable energy subsidiary Enel Green Power (EGP) back into the parent organization.

While each of these changes comes under unique circumstances, the clear theme is that we are in an epic energy transformation that presents a tremendous opportunity. However, that change is messy, and incumbency does not guarantee survival or success. Much like the telephone landline, energy companies face a daunting challenge, subscribers are unplugging. Advanced energy is the future, and as energy companies recognize a need to adopt, a pattern does seem to emerge from the chaos. It goes like this (with predictions on the future as well):

Phase 1: Diversified energy companies form a power generation division in order to own and operate power-producing assets in deregulated markets.

Phase 2: These energy companies enter into advanced energy and try to organically grow their business.

Phase 3: With limited success operating on their own, they end up acquiring another group to gain the upper hand. (NRG buys Solar Power Partners, Edison busy SoCore, NextEra buys Smart Energy Partners, Duke buys REC Solar, etc..).

Phase 4: As a result, the company quickly builds an advanced energy portfolio but struggles to consolidate their old business under the same structure as the newer advanced energy business.

Phase 5: Realizing that being part of larger company comes with inherent slow decision making, and can potentially erode revenue of the legacy business, they split off the renewable energy division so that they can have more autonomy, speed and agility. In some cases, like NRG, investors put overwhelming pressure on short-term profit as the renewable energy division requires heavy investment.

Phase 6: The subsidiary succeeds while the future of the core business becomes increasingly uncertain as the market changes faster than anticipated.

Phase 7: The parent company buys back the subsidiary, as utility executives come to the realization that the utility of the future must include renewable energy assets.

Phase 8: The power company of the future increasingly manages and orchestrates a digitally connected and flexible set of assets comprised of increasingly intermittent resources. This is a major shift from steady power production to managing intermittent power.

Phase 9: The successful utility of the future is one that learns to manage a very complex set of assets that are increasingly distributed and produce energy intermittently. That change requires the utility to forge a new business model whereby the utility trades energy and helps the customer manage and maintain their energy producing assets.

The companies that will succeed in this environment will need to be digitized from front to back. The energy future is one governed by kW and MW scale networks, not GW scale hierarchies. Utilities will need to accurately predict energy production so they can more effectively trade energy. The energy companies of the future will have real-time insights into their business and operations in order to manage and process massive amounts of changing information.

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21 January, 2016

Vestas to acquire Germany-based independent service provider Availon

The acquisition strengthens Vestas’ capabilities to service a broad range of wind turbine technologies.

Rheine - Vestas has today agreed to acquire Availon, a leading European independent service provider headquartered in Rheine, Germany, with approx 400 employees and a total capacity of more than 2.6 GW currently under service. Availon’s core market is Germany, while the company also has notable service activities in Austria, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Poland and the United States.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including approval from relevant competition authorities. Closing is expected to take place in the first quarter of 2016.

“Acquiring Availon is a natural next step in accelerating Vestas’ profitable growth strategy in the service business. Size and scale matter and the acquisition strengthens our capabilities to service most major turbine technologies and to capture market shares. Availon is a solid strategic fit and a great complement to our recent acquisition of UpWind Solutions in the United States”, says Group Senior Vice President Christian Venderby, Vestas Global Service.

“We are very pleased to welcome Availon and our new colleagues to the Vestas organisation”, says Nils de Baar, President of Vestas Central Europe. “Germany is our largest market in Europe, and Availon’s strong performance here and elsewhere will expand our joint service portfolio and bolster our position as a leading global service partner. I look forward to working with Availon’s highly professional management team and to ensuring that we execute and expand our combined order backlog”.

“Vestas and Availon share the same values in terms of safety, quality, customer satisfaction and reaching the highest availability possible. Combining forces will contribute to our jointly becoming the preferred fleetwide service partner for a wider range of customers and turbine technologies. We look forward to becoming part of such a passionate and forward-looking organisation”, says Availon’s CEO Ulrich Schomakers.

The acquisition price for Availon is EUR 88.0 million on a debt and cash free basis. The consideration will be paid in cash from readily available sources. For 2015 Availon is on a stand-alone basis expected to report consolidated revenues of EUR 59.8 million, normalised EBITDA of EUR 5.2 million and total assets of approx EUR 33.3 million. Availon will be included in Vestas’ financials from the time of closing.

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20 January, 2016

It’s official: 2015 ‘smashed’ 2014’s global temperature record. It wasn’t even close

Last year shattered 2014’s record to become the hottest year since reliable record-keeping began, two U.S. government science agencies announced Wednesday in yet another sign that the planet is heating up.

2015’s sharp spike in temperatures was aided by a strong El Niño weather pattern late in the year that caused ocean waters in the central Pacific to heat up. But the unusual warming started early and steadily gained strength in a year in which 10 of 12 months set records, scientists said.

The new figures, based on separate sets of records kept by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, could fuel debate over climate change in an election year in which the two main political parties remain divided over what to do about global warming and, indeed, whether it exists.

“2015 was by far the record year in all of the temperature datasets that are based on the instrumental and surface data,” said Gavin Schmidt, director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies at NASA, which made the announcement jointly with NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“It really underlines the fact that the planet really is still warming, there is no change in the long term global warming rate, and we know why that is,” he said.

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19 January, 2016

Energy Storage Industry Off and Running in January 2016

With almost 3 GW of energy storage capacity either in operation or planned, analysis firm IHS believes the energy storage market will rise significantly in the near future.

Battery cost reductions, government funding programs and utility tenders led to a 45 percent increase in the global energy storage pipeline in the fourth quarter of 2015 compared to the previous quarter. According to IHS, the global pipeline of planned battery and flywheel projects had reached 1.6 GW by the end of Q4 2015.

“Suppliers and developers around the world are preparing for a record year in 2016, with significant growth projected in a wide range of regions and market segments,” said Marianne Boust, principal analyst for IHS Technology.

Project Announcements Abound in First Month of the Year

Company announcements from across the globe signify a busy market ahead.

Several large-scale projects were announced at the end of 2015, signaling that the storage industry is moving toward commercially viable projects. These projects include a 90-MW order by major power producer STEAG from LG Chem, to compete in the primary reserve market in Germany, and 75 MW of contracts awarded by PG&E to a diverse mix of companies using various established and emerging technologies.

In Canada, Hecate Canada Storage, an emerging project development and electrical systems integrator, is building a 13-MW/53-MWh energy storage system near Toronto to fulfill six ancillary services agreements with Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO). Once complete in 2016, the project will be one of the largest grid ancillary services projects in North America, according to Leclanché, which will provide the battery storage systems.

Deltro Energy will procure, design and construct the site facilities balance of plant scope and high voltage connections to the grid. Deltro will also operate the facilities, and Greensmith Energy will provide the energy management system.

The IESO plans to use the energy storage systems to meet its needs for fast-reacting ancillary services. The principal service provided under these contracts is voltage control and reactive power support, an application that’s becoming increasingly important for Ontario and other regions with significant amounts of intermittent wind and solar power now on the high voltage transmission networks.

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18 January, 2016

Renewable Energy Focus Could Boost Global Economic Growth

Doubling the share of solar, wind and other renewables in the energy mix would boost global economic growth by as much as 1.1 percent by 2030, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

The gains equal to $1.3 trillion would mostly come from increased investment, IRENA said in a report on Jan. 16. That would boost “direct and indirect” industry employment to 24.4 million people, according to the report. Last year, it estimated sector employment at as many as 9.2 million people.

“Doubling the share of renewables in the global energy mix pays back in terms of economic growth, social welfare, job creation and overall trade balances,” it said in conjunction with its annual meeting in Abu Dhabi. “This study, the first of its kind, provides a solid basis for future work to quantify the growth-enhancing potential of renewable energy in the global economy.”

Total energy demand is expected to increase by 21 percent by 2030, the group said, citing International Energy Agency data. The share of the energy sector to gross domestic product is 6 percent, ranging from 57 percent in Kuwait to 3 percent in Germany, it said.

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12 January, 2016

Google: Here's When Our Self-Driving Cars Turned Over the Wheel

After more than a year of collecting data on every mile driven by its fleet of autonomous-drive test cars, Google is giving us a better sense of how often those cars disengaged or reverted to manual driving mode.

In a report prepared for the California Department of Motor Vehicles, Google says there have been 272 situations where the Google car disengaged from autonomous-drive mode and immediately turned over control of the car to the Google employee in the driver’s seat.  On average, Google says the driver took control of the car in 0.83 seconds.

In outlining incidents that occurred between September of 2014 and November of 2015, Chris Urmson, the Director of Google Self-Driving Cars says, "software detected an anomaly somewhere in the system that could have had possible safety implications; in these cases it immediately handed control of the vehicle to our test driver."

Google's report also outlines the tech company's calculation through a simulator of how many disengagements might have resulted in some type of safety incident if the car had continued on its path.

The company says there 69 cases where "safe operation of the vehicle required disengagement by the driver."

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12 January, 2016

Solar Jobs Continue to Outpace US Economy

The US solar industry added more than 35,000 jobs in 2015, growing the workforce by more than 20 percent for the third year in a row.

Coming on the heels of the celebration–inducing 5-year extension of the solar investment tax credit (ITC), today jobs numbers were released by nonprofit organization, The Solar Foundation (TSF).

The six annual National Solar Jobs Census shows that the U.S. solar industry today employs 208,859 people, having added 35,052 in 2015 alone. This is a 20 percent increase in job growth compared to the overall national employment growth of 1.7 percent.

“Employment in solar has grown an extraordinary 123 percent since 2010, adding approximately 115,000 well-paying jobs. Our Census findings show that one out of every 83 new jobs created in the U.S. over the last 12 months was in the solar industry — 1.2 percent of all new jobs,” said Andrea Luecke, President and Executive Director of TSF in a statement.

The report showed that demand-side sectors including installation, sales and distribution, and project development account for about 80 percent of overall solar industry employment. Installation firms such as Solar City, Sungevitiy, Sunrun and others make up about 57 percent.

All sectors, with the exception of solar manufacturing, grew over the past year according to the report, however the manufacturing sector is expected to add 3,800 jobs in 2016 based on industry construction activity.

2010-2016 Observed and Projected Solar Energy Sector Employment

Breaking down the numbers by solar project size shows that 63 percent of solar workers are in the residential sector, 15 percent in commercial and 22 percent in utility-scale.

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10 January, 2016

Britain abandons onshore wind just as new technology makes it cheap

Vestas chief Runevad says UK rules shut out the latest hi-tech turbines, leaving Britain behind as the global wind boom spreads.

The world’s biggest producer of wind turbines has accused Britain of obstructing use of new technology that can slash costs, preventing the wind industry from offering one of the cheapest forms of energy without subsidies.

Anders Runevad, chief executive of Vestas Wind Systems, said his company's wind turbines can compete onshore against any other source of energy in the UK without need for state support, but only if the Government sweeps away impediments to a free market.

While he stopped short of rebuking the Conservatives for kowtowing to 'Nimbyism', the wind industry is angry that ministers are changing the rules in an erratic fashion and imposing guidelines that effectively freeze development of onshore wind.

“We can compete in a market-based system in onshore wind and we are happy to take on the challenge, so long as we are able to use our latest technology," he told the Daily Telegraph.

“The UK has a tip-height restriction of 125 meters and this is cumbersome. Our new generation is well above that," he said. Vestas is the UK's market leader in onshore wind.

Its latest models top 140 meters, towering over St Paul’s Cathedral. They capture more of the wind current and have bigger rotors that radically change the economics of wind power.

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6 January, 2016

Listen Up: The Push Towards 100 Percent Renewables With Clint Wilder

Mankind has been in an energy transition ever since two cave-boy scouts rubbed two sticks together and created fire. Although the world’s economy is currently powered by fossil fuels, renewable power sources (primarily wind and solar) are now cheaper than fossil fuels for many applications. This renewable power tipping point implies that a 100 percent renewable society is feasible, and may be here sooner than we think.

But there are many naysayers — usually from the fossil fuel industry. They claim that renewable power is still too expensive (ignoring direct and indirect subsidies to fossil fuels), that new technology can make fossil fuels cleaner (the myth of clean coal and VW’s TDI diesels), or that we need to go slowly in this transition to prevent a worldwide economic calamity (really just a loss of fossil fuel company profits). Fortunately, these claims are easy to refute with the right data and analyses.

My guest this week is Clint Wilder, senior editor at Clean Edge — a leading advisory firm specialized in reporting the latest in clean energy technology, economic developments, and market trends. Clean Edge recently released a report entitled “Getting to 100, a Status Report on Rising Commitments Among Corporations and Governments to Reach 100% Renewables.” This report focuses on the rapid progress that corporations and governments are making to deploy renewables and related technologies, including energy storage, more efficient buildings and an updated electric grid.

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5 January, 2016

2015 Record Year in Wind Energy Generation for UK

New statistics from grid operator National Grid show that 2015 was a record year for wind energy generation in the U.K.
RenewableUK, a U.K.-based trade association, said National Grid’s statistics show that 11 percent of the U.K.’s electricity was generated by onshore and offshore wind last year – up from 9.5 percent in 2014.

In December 2015, wind supplied 17 percent of Britain’s electricity demand, setting a new monthly record for the country, the association said. The previous monthly record of 14 percent was set in January 2015. In addition, a new weekly record was set in December 2015, with wind providing 20 percent of the country’s needs in the last week of the month – up from 19 percent in the second week of November.

Wind also broke the quarterly generation record in the three-month period from October to December 2015, with 13 percent of the country’s electricity demand met by wind – beating the previous 12 percent high in the first quarter of 2015, RenewableUK said.

“This is a great way to start the new year – the wind industry can be proud that it has shattered weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual generation records in 2015,” RenewableUK’s Director of Policy Gordon Edge said in a statement. “We can continue to increase the proportion of the nation’s electricity which we provide as we move away from fossil fuels to clean sources of power.”

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4 January 2016

GE Boosts Stakes in Two U.S. Wind Farms Jointly Owned With Enel

General Electric Co. expanded its minority stakes in two Enel Green Power SpA wind farms in the U.S. for $74 million.

GE Energy Financial Services already owned 25 percent of the Chisholm View and Prairie Rose wind farms and acquired an additional 24 percent of each, according to a statement Monday from Enel Green Power, the renewable-energy unit of Italy’s biggest utility.

The 235-megawatt Chisholm View project in Oklahoma and the 200-megawatt Prairie Rose wind farm in Minnesota have both been operational since 2012. The two companies recently established a joint venture, EGPNA Renewable Energy Partners LLC, to operate the wind farms.

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4 January 2016

Energy Storage Costs Expected to Slide 41% by 2020, GTM Says

The cost of installing energy-storage systems is expected to decline 41 percent over the next five years as key components get cheaper, according to a report by GTM Research.

Balance-of-system costs, including hardware, labor and customer acquisition, will fall below $400 a kilowatt by 2020, from an average of $670 per kilowatt now for grid-scale storage systems, GTM said in a report released Monday.

Energy-storage technologies, notably batteries, are gaining in popularity as costs decline and utilities incorporate more wind and solar farms onto their grids. Storage is seen as a key complement to clean-energy assets that only produce power when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing. Hardware, and especially inverters, will see the biggest price-decline, according to Luis Ortiz, a consultant and author of the report.

“It’s the most complicated piece of equipment outside of the battery,” Ortiz said in an interview Monday. “It’s kind of natural that this piece of highly specialized equipment would be the second most-expensive piece.”

Inverters convert the alternating-current electricity that moves across the grid into direct current. The components used for storage systems are more complicated and more expensive than those used for solar because power moves in both directions as batteries are charged and drained.
Utilities including Edison International’s Southern California Edison are signing contracts for storage systems as the technology becomes more affordable. Costs will decline further as the systems improve and production volume increases, following the same pattern as other industries.

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29 December 2015

The Take Away on Cost: How Geothermal Can Compete with Solar

As executives work to improve the perception of geothermal in the energy industry, service providers are finding ways to decrease the up-front cost of developing the resource.

NV Energy’s Jack McGinley recently put the U.S. geothermal industry’s current challenge in succinct terms: Geothermal is not competing with solar PV on cost, and when it comes to utility power procurements, “low cost wins.”

McGinley is executive of regulatory and legislative strategy at NV Energy. Speaking at the Geothermal Resources Council 39th Annual Meeting in Reno, Nev., in September, McGinley explained that in the request for proposal (RFP) process for utilities, low cost, while not the only driver, is the primary driver.

“When you’re signing contracts at 3.8 cents and 4 cents a kilowatt-hour, it’s tough to beat that,” he said.

NV Energy’s most recent RFP went entirely to solar. Utility-scale solar project owners are regularly securing power purchase agreements at 5 cents per kWh or less, according to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s recent report “Utility-Scale Solar 2014.” Whereas the cost for geothermal power can be anywhere from 5 cents per kWh to 8 cents per kWh.

The good news for geothermal, according to McGinley, is that large power customers are eager for renewables, and they do not want it all in solar or wind — they want a balanced clean energy portfolio, including geothermal. Those big consumers, however, have a limit on how much they will pay for that energy.

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2 December 2015

African Union Introduces $20 Billion Renewable Energy Plan

The African Union, an alliance of 54 countries, announced a plan to mobilize $20 billion to develop at least 10 GW of renewable energy on the continent by the end of the decade.

The African Renewable Energy Initiative was announced Tuesday at the United Nations climate summit in Paris. It will be hosted by the Abidjan, Ivory Coast-based African Development Bank, which will also act as a trustee, according to Alex Rugamba, director of energy, environment and climate change at the AfDB.

The program is expected be partially funded from the $100 billion pledged by rich countries to fight climate change in the developing world. The promise was made in Copenhagen in 2009 as wealthier countries with distant memories of their industrial revolutions prodded emerging economies to choose green rather than cheap.

“The latest G-7 meeting in June resulted in a strong statement about the $100 billion for climate finance, so we think this could be one way,” said Rugamba in a phone interview. France said Tuesday it will pledge $2.2 billion. The funds would be used to attract and leverage private capital with a ratio of one to three or four, he said.

The African Development Bank turned its focus to energy this year, seeking to bring electricity within a decade to the 620 million citizens on the continent who lack it. The institution funds both conventional and renewable power plants, and said it will triple its financing of climate action projects to $5 billion annually by 2020.

“We have enormous natural resources for clean energy in Africa,” Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank, said in an Oct. 25 interview. “We have the potential to deploy 11 terawatts of solar energy, 350 GW of hydro, 110 GW of wind and 15 GW of geothermal.”

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2 December 2015

Bankruptcy Looms For Spain's Green Energy Giant

The large renewable energy company Abengoa, which has been heavily subsidized by the government, is in danger of becoming the country's largest bankruptcy. The company also has a large solar facility in Arizona that has received U.S. government loan guarantees.
Talk about awkward timing.

 At the Paris climate summit earlier this week, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy pledged to "de-carbonize" his economy. But back home, Spain's biggest renewable energy company is on the verge of becoming the country's biggest-ever bankruptcy.

Abengoa S.A. was founded more than 70 years ago in the sunny southern Spanish city of Seville. Back then, it was a traditional electric company.
Nowadays it runs solar, biofuel and desalination plants, plus power lines and telecom equipment, all over Spain and abroad — from Brazil, to India, to the United States. It employs nearly 29,000 people worldwide.

One of the company's flagship projects is the Solana parabolic trough solar plant near Gila Bend, 70 miles west of Phoenix, Ariz. — the world's biggest solar plant of its kind. Abengoa also runs several big desert solar plants in California, and half a dozen ethanol and biofuel plants in places like Kansas and Missouri. The company's U.S. headquarters are near St. Louis.

Subsidies Scrapped

With more than 300 sunny days a year, Spain had been emerging as a leader in renewable energy in Europe, and exporting its technology abroad.
But two years ago, Rajoy's government cut its subsidies for solar and wind power in Spain. It was early 2013, at the height of Spain's economic crisis. Unemployment was near 27 percent, and the Spanish government was struggling to pay interest on its debts.

The cutbacks devastated Spain's renewables sector. Some smaller firms went out of business. Big survivors like Abengoa were left living off loans. The U.S. government has guaranteed some $2 billion of Abengoa's loans, because of the estimated $3 billion Abengoa has invested in job-creating projects in Arizona and other U.S. states.

Last week, the Basque steel company Gonvarri pulled out of a deal to invest some $370 million in Abengoa — money the renewables giant needed to stay afloat.

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1 December 2015

Wind Turbine Owners Establish Global Peer-to-Peer Platform to Solve O&M Issues Collaboratively

Wind farm owners representing 12 percent of global turbine assets have founded a new peer-to-peer online platform, called o2o Wind, dedicated to the exchange of knowledge and experience on operation and maintenance issues. The o2o Wind forum is the first initiative of the kind aimed at fostering wind farm O&M best practice through a collaborative approach.

Wind energy giants such as EDPR, Vattenfall, RWE, DONG Energy and Acciona Energia have already joined this exclusive network, along with numerous other wind turbine owners.

Mårten Nilsson, who is heading o2oWind, explained, “When it comes to trouble-shooting the O&M issues they encounter, wind farm owners are not competitors. On the contrary they are in the same boat, and that’s why adopting a collaborative approach to problem-solving makes a lot of sense. Our members recognize that the most valuable information for turbine owners is the hands-on experience held by their peers.”

Members share the common objective of optimising turbine yields, and many specialist discussions revolve around issues with main components, such as rotor blades, gearboxes or substations. With o2o Wind members owning more than 60 percent of all offshore turbines in the world, the platform is also strong on offshore O&M. Although the topics treated on the forum are mainly technical, they can also be connected to major investment decisions.

o2o Wind takes down the usual barriers to information exchange that get in the way of the performance optimization of wind assets. Sverre Trollnes, Manager Operation & Maintenance at Statoil, pointed out that, "Compared to other industries, wind still has some teething issues that are difficult to change when we operate in isolation.”

"Low yields and costly stand-stills have plagued the industry for too long, with no long term gains for anyone. We need to collaborate to reach the goal. It’s that simple”, commented Alan Henderson, Head of Technical Asset Management at RWE Innogy.

The very strict member selection criteria are designed to weed out noise, and maintain a very high level of expertise throughout the network: "I consider the o2o Wind group as the best forum to share experiences with other wind farm owners regarding technical problems and their solution from the point of view of the owners", said Cristobal Couret, Director of Production at Acciona Energia.

The owner’s forum, called o2o WIND International (as in owner to owner), can be found at

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11 November 2015

Energy hasn't been this hot since they invented fire … And the revolution is just beginning

Nothing in the energy business can compete with oil for volatility, geopolitical drama, or sheer utility. Its low price per barrel, currently under $50, won't last forever. But it may last through the year ahead.

What will be changing at a historic pace in 2016? Everything else. Gas. Coal. Solar. Wind. Batteries. Cars.

This is every energy source for itself, one clawing its way over another for markets, financing, subsidies, and friendly policies.

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09 November 2015

What will the electricity transmission grid look like in 2030? Three major building blocks of ENTSO-E’s pan-European network development plan released

ENTSO-E’s 10-year network development plan or TYNDP is the most complete pan – European plan for the development of the electricity transmission grid. It answers questions like what, where and when infrastructure needs to be build and how Europe will benefit from it.

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30 October 2015

EU member states lay the foundations for liquid electricity trading

On Friday 30 October, European Member States approved the fifth network code, and thus made an important move towards more competitive and liquid electricity markets. The draft Regulation on Forward Capacity Allocation was prepared by ENTSO-E in close collaboration with market participants, regulators and the European Commission within the Network Codes programme. 

Electricity and the ways to transport it are traded in different time frames. From a year or more before the energy is delivered (forward market), to the day itself (intraday market). Forward markets allow participants to manage the risk associated with cross-border electricity trading. On forward markets, they are able to buy long-term transmission rights which allow them to hedge price fluctuations of short term markets.

The draft FCA Regulation sets out rules regarding the type and quantity of transmission rights which can be allocated, the way in which they are allocated and the way in which holders of transmission rights are compensated in case their right is curtailed. “Clear rules on long-term trading promote the development of liquid and competitive electricity markets in a coordinated way across Europe” says Konstantin Staschus, ENTSO-E Secretary-General. “Long-term transmission rights facilitate cross-border trading, competition and provide efficient and reliable long-term price indication.”

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08 October 2015

DONG Energy, the LEGO Group and William Demant celebrate the inauguration of Borkum Riffgrund 1 Offshore Wind Farm in Germany

With great excitement the three partners; DONG Energy, the LEGO Group and William Demant celebrate the inauguration of the offshore wind farm Borkum Riffgrund 1 which can provide clean electricity for 320,000 households.

The joint announcement by top management from DONG Energy, market leader in planning, constructing and operating offshore wind farms, the LEGO Group (KIRKBI A/S), makers of the iconic LEGO® brick, and William Demant, specialists in personal hearing aid products, is made in the presence of His Royal Highness Prince Joachim of Denmark who officially opens the wind farm.

Uwe Beckmeyer, Federal Ministry of Economy & Energy, State Secretary and Deputy Minister comments: “The first offshore wind farm installed by DONG Energy in Germany is a great success. ‘Borkum Riffgrund 1' is an impressive example of just how fast offshore installations can now be installed. This translates into lower costs and is good news for consumers.”

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