Friday, January 27, 2012

Latest from: CleanTechnica

Latest from: CleanTechnica

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Asia Pacific Solar Photovoltaic Markets Grows 165% in 2011

Posted: 27 Jan 2012 07:01 AM PST

For the Asia Pacific region, 2011 was a good year for photovoltaic installations and growth, with the region as a whole growing the photovoltaic market by 165% year over year, with an additional 40% expected to be added in 2012.

These figures—and the many more to follow—are courtesy of  the latest NPD Solarbuzz Asia Pacific Major PV Markets Quarterly report.

The Dominant Chinese

Of all the Asia Pacific nations, China emerged from 2011 as the dominant force in the region, growing by 500% over 2010 levels, with 48% of demand in 2011.

A planned year-end 13% feed-in tariff (FIT) reduction led to a surge in fourth quarter (2011) installations, pushing the figure up to a total of 1.7 gigawatts.

"The China PV market was reshaped in 2011 by the release of the national FIT," said Ray Lian, an analyst at NPD Solarbuzz. "Approximately 1 GW ground mount projects were installed in the Qinghai province alone. However, the explosive growth could well be followed by policy adjustments in 2012 as the Chinese central government takes action to control the growth rate."

30% Growth in Japan with Hopeful 2012

Japan was the second-largest regional market in the region, with fourth quarter installations up slightly from 2011 third-quarter figures. Year over year, the Japanese market was up 30% in 2011, reaching a total of 1.2 gigawatts, with an additional 40% expected during 2012.

Strong India Despite Delays

Quarter four saw Indian installations surge by 125% as the project developers strove to meet the installation deadlines. There are still delays on many of the projects, but estimates suggest that quarter one of 2012 could see more than 600 megawatts connected to the grid under the National Solar Mission and Gujarat Solar Policies.

Projects under the Gujarat Solar Policy were granted an additional one-month extension, and estimates suggest that the Indian market could near 1 gigawatt of installed power in 2012.

“While rapid PV price declines have greatly improved project economics over the course of 2011, many Indian developers have suffered setbacks due to difficulties associated with financial closure, land acquisition, and power evacuation facilities. Now developers will need to race to meet their installation deadlines or face the prospect of losing their PPAs, leading to a surge of activity in December and January,” added NPD Solarbuzz analyst Chris Sunsong.

Australia Slumps as Incentives are Reduced

Unlike the other three major markets, Australia is trending down with PV installations falling by 10% quarter over quarter. Even worse is that installations in the first quarter of 2012 are expected to decline another 20% as a result of the termination and reduction of a variety of incentive policies during the first half of 2011. The 2012 fiscal year market is expected to fall by 30%.

However, there is hope, as the market is expected to pick up in 2013 as large-scale ground-mounted systems begin to come online across the country.

Source: Solar Buzz

Related posts:

  1. Asian Pacific Solar Booming, Especially in China
  2. North American Solar Photovoltaic Market to Double in Q4 2011
  3. US Wind Power Grows 31% in Q4, 17% in 2011, but Expiring Production Tax Credit Threatens Future Gains


Google Earth: Glowing Green Sea.. Near Scottish Nuclear Power Plant

Posted: 27 Jan 2012 06:57 AM PST


The Problem:

It is the sort of headline that grabs your attention and suggests doom in the same year that one (of the many) Mayan Calendars is “doomed” to end. Deadline News reports that a local pursuing their countryside on “Google Earth” suddenly noticed that the sea near the Hunterston B nuclear power plant in Ayrshire, Scotland was luminous green on Google Earth. Concerned, they alerted officials to the glowing problem.

The Speculation:

Those familiar with power plant issues raised on CleanTechnica know that thermal power plants need cooling. Nuclear power plants are sometimes located near the sea to admit and discharge seawater for that purpose. While discharged water is not supposed to be mixed with the reactor core and is not supposed to be radioactive, there has also been the alarming case of a three-eyed fish being caught from the same C√≥rdoba, Argentina reservoir as a nuclear reactor. It settles no one’s mind that this reminds one of “Blinky” on the Simpsons.

The “Logic”:

We may not be particularly fond of nuclear power plants, as a human species, so alarming and fearful stories and rhetoric can be compelling. It may sometimes seem to hide ulterior motives and suggests a lack of transparency. But this can also be the technique used against our cherished clean technology projects. The story can be separate from the way it is told. Some radiation has always been a part of our natural environment. Some level of mutations have also been present as long as there has been life. Change is inevitable. Finding a “Blinky” or a bright spot in a photograph are just facts, but it easy to jump to conclusions about them.

More Facts:

A spokesperson for EDF, the energy company that operates the Scottish power plant responded to the alarm with an explanation: "The Google shot taken offshore is where our cooling water exits a pipe and enters the sea, producing a bubbling effect…The other photograph is of our surge shaft, which the cooling water passes through."

Primary Sources: Deadline | Infobae.com for 3-eyed fish story [Spanish] | Practical Fishkeeping
Mayan Calandar via Wiki Commons

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Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race?

Posted: 27 Jan 2012 06:41 AM PST

by Shravya Reddy of The Climate Reality Project

© 2007 Flickr/doublecool CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

I spend much of my time studying carbon pollution trends, analyzing growing evidence of global warming, and assessing the impacts of a warmer climate. Thus, I recently found myself in agreement with scientists when they moved the symbolic doomsday clock closer to midnight (planetary catastrophe) in part because of global inaction on climate change. At the same time, I remain optimistic about our collective ability to face the crisis. Why? Because even as we're racing against time to combat climate change, we're also moving forward in the clean energy race.

Did you know that 2011 was the first year in which global investment in renewable energy was greater than investment in fossil fuel power plants? There are many complex factors motivating countries to invest more in clean energy. A number of European nations were first-movers, and embraced renewable energy in a big way a decade ago when the EU's objectives included addressing climate change and creating opportunities for economic growth through innovation.

For many nations, the primary objectives of increasing installed clean energy capacity are achieving energy security by ending dependence on foreign oil, and ensuring reliable, widespread energy access for their people. For some others, it is the desire to reduce the chances of costly disasters from fossil fuel extraction (such as the BP Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico) or nuclear energy (such as the meltdown at Fukushima in Japan). And for some countries, the impetus is the realization that dirty fossil fuels will get more costly making alternative sources of energy more economically viable. Whatever the motivation, the fact is that clean energy – especially energy from renewable sources – is one of the most powerful weapons against carbon pollution.

© 2009 Flickr/Uncleweed CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

So, how are countries faring in the clean energy race? Until a few weeks ago, the best performer on investment was China, followed by Germany and then the U.S, according to one analysis. Trends in 2010-2011 showed the U.S. falling behind in terms of installed clean energy capacity as well as the level of investment. In the solar arena, China ramped up its 2015 target by 50%. China is gearing up to invest 440 billion RMB (approximately $68.9 billion) in solar in 2011-2015. Germany installed four times as much solar capacity as the U.S. in all of 2011, nearly half of which was added in just December alone. And this was done at almost half the American price. A second analysis focused on attractiveness for renewable energy investment. It put the U.S. in second place, behind China but ahead of Germany, India and Italy.

Like all races, however, nothing remains constant. Last week, things suddenly changed, with a report that the U.S. has now overtaken China in terms of renewable energy investment during 2011. U.S. investment grew 33% in one year, to $55.9 billion, more than China's $47.4 billion. This is primarily because the last phase of clean energy investments from President Obama's economic stimulus package was recently implemented.

When you put the investments of all countries together, the best news for the climate is that global investment in renewable energy in 2011 grew by 5% over the last year to $260 billion, a five-fold increase since 2004!

Clean energy investment is more than a race among nations. It is also a race against time. As the impacts of climate change become more apparent and more severe, it is clear that more and more countries are making a commitment to clean energy. Nearly 100 countries now have domestic renewable energy targets (as do most U.S. states. Countries with strong domestic climate change policies, including clean energy development, will attract more investment, build more new industries and technologies, and create jobs faster than those lagging behind. Does your country get this? Where does your country stand in terms of overall renewable energy capacity or investment? Find out, and then urge your leaders to surge forward in the clean energy race.

I spend much of my time studying carbon pollution trends, analyzing growing evidence of global warming, and assessing the impacts of a warmer climate. Thus, I recently found myself in agreement with scientists when they moved the symbolic doomsday clock closer to midnight (planetary catastrophe) in part because of global inaction on climate change. At the same time, I remain optimistic about our collective ability to face the crisis. Why? Because even as we're racing against time to combat climate change, we're also moving forward in the clean energy race.

Did you know that 2011 was the first year in which global investment in renewable energy was greater than investment in fossil fuel power plants? There are many complex factors motivating countries to invest more in clean energy. A number ofEuropean nations were first-movers, and embraced renewable energy in a big way a decade ago when the EU's objectives included addressing climate change and creating opportunities for economic growth through innovation.

For many nations, the primary objectives of increasing installed clean energy capacity are achieving energy security by ending dependence on foreign oil, and ensuring reliable, widespread energy access for their people. For some others, it is the desire to reduce the chances of costly disasters from fossil fuel extraction (such as the BPDeepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico) or nuclear energy (such as the meltdown at Fukushima in Japan). And for some countries, the impetus is the realization that dirtyfossil fuels will get more costly making alternative sources of energy more economically viable. Whatever the motivation, the fact is that clean energy – especially energy from renewable sources – is one of the most powerful weapons against carbon pollution.

© 2009 Flickr/Uncleweed CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

So, how are countries faring in the clean energy race? Until a few weeks ago, the best performer on investment was China, followed by Germany and then the U.S, according to one analysis. Trends in 2010-2011 showed the U.S. falling behind in terms of installed clean energy capacity as well as the level of investment. In the solar arena, China ramped up its 2015 target by 50%. China is gearing up to invest 440 billion RMB (approximately $68.9 billion) in solar in 2011-2015. Germany installed four times as much solar capacity as the U.S. in all of 2011, nearly half of which was added in just December alone. And this was done at almost half the American price. A second analysis focused on attractiveness for renewable energy investment. It put the U.S. in second place, behind China but ahead of Germany, India and Italy.

Like all races, however, nothing remains constant. Last week, things suddenly changed, with a report that the U.S. has now overtaken Chinain terms of renewable energy investment during 2011. U.S. investment grew 33% in one year, to $55.9 billion, more than China's $47.4 billion. This is primarily because the last phase of clean energy investments from President Obama's economic stimulus package was recently implemented.

When you put the investments of all countries together, the best news for the climate is that global investment in renewable energy in 2011 grew by 5% over the last year to $260 billion, a five-fold increase since 2004!

Clean energy investment is more than a race among nations. It is also a race against time. As the impacts of climate change become more apparent and more severe, it is clear that more and more countries are making a commitment to clean energy. Nearly 100 countries now have domestic renewable energy targets (as do most U.S. states. Countries with strong domestic climate change policies, including clean energy development, will attract more investment, build more new industries and technologies, and create jobs faster than those lagging behind. Does your country get this? Where does your country stand in terms of overall renewable energy capacity or investment? Find out, and then urge your leaders to surge forward in the clean energy race.

Related posts:

  1. Energy Business Leaders Getting Antsy, but Is the US Already Out of the Clean Energy Race?
  2. We Lose Clean Energy Race without Government Investments
  3. China Could Create 9.5 Million Green Jobs with Clean Energy Push, Influential Report Finds


New EV for India

Posted: 27 Jan 2012 06:23 AM PST

Animation Clearly Explains Enhanced Geothermal Systems (VIDEO)

Posted: 27 Jan 2012 05:37 AM PST

Understanding the intricacies of renewable energy systems—and sometimes even just the basics—can be a full-time job. Thankfully, if you ever wanted to understand how enhanced geothermal systems works, an animator out of Taiwan is here to help you out. Check out this video:

 

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Berlin Police More Green Than Blue With New Electric Cars

Posted: 27 Jan 2012 05:32 AM PST

With all the noise the EU is making about emissions levels and reducing the amount of greenhouse gases put into the atmosphere, some slightly smaller efforts nearly slip through the cracks. The city of Berlin, Germany is making one of those efforts by furnishing its police department with a fleet of electric and hybrid cars.

Related posts:

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Cheaper Energy Storage Systems = More Renewable Energy

Posted: 27 Jan 2012 05:29 AM PST

Stuffed into the envelope with the electricity bill is sometimes a little pamphlet telling you where that energy comes from. Sometimes, it's pretty detailed; other times, not so much. But the percentage of energy coming from renewable sources often isn't that high, and part of the reason for that is that renewable energy is generated in bursts and is then hard to store.

Energy storage on a large scale would help even out the intermittent nature of renewable energy; in fact, techniques such as batteries and fuel cells are used on smaller scales right now to manage grids with high percentages of renewable sources. The problem with wide-scale use is that energy storage systems are not cheap.

The Falling Cost of Technology

While energy storage tech is expensive now, any consumer will note that the price of technology (whether that's computers, smartphones, or whatever) starts out high and then drops over time. The analyst firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) predicts the same thing will happen with energy storage tech. In fact, BNEF predicts that grid-scale lithium-ion battery prices will fall from today's $1,000/kWh to $600/kWh by 2015.

According to the report, the lower prices of energy storage systems mean that it would be economically feasible to harvest energy when production is high and use it when demand is high. Hydro and flywheel energy storage systems are also supposed to get cheaper, the report says, becoming viable for widespread use by 2020.

But Here Comes the Red Tape

As with any new type of system, the appropriate rules have to be put into place to govern fair use. Government policy will need to be changed to allow storage and sale of the stored electricity, according to BNEF. The report goes on to say that such changes will be necessary to help consumers avoid buying power when it's most expensive (although I don't foresee this one actually happening, not while there's more money to be made).

Shu Sun, energy storage analyst at BNEF, spoke briefly about hopes and expectations for a new grid system, as reported by Business Green:

“The prize may be within sight, but there are obstacles that need to be cleared… For widespread adoption of storage… appropriate mechanisms need to be built into RIIO (revenue equals incentives plus innovation and outputs), the new regulatory model that aims to promote innovation and the use of new technologies within the … power networks.”

Questions? Comments? Let us know below.

Source: Business Green | Image: Wikimedia Commons

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Emissions Trading Scheme for the Shipping Industry?

Posted: 27 Jan 2012 05:26 AM PST

Emissions Trading Scheme for Shipping

The European Union keeps looking for ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. One place to cut emissions is the shipping industry—it's just that the EU doesn't quite know where to start.

Less Carbon Dioxide! Less!

It's not that the EU has no ideas; rather, there are several. A document published last week outlines several ways to reduce emissions, including the carbon trading scheme used in aviation. In that case, carriers would be required to buy carbon allowances to cover their emissions, and then sell or trade any unused allowances.

Another thought under consideration is simply taxing either fuel or the emissions themselves (straightforward in theory), while yet another is to level vessels' carbon caps. Also on the list is a compensation fund, where companies would pay out according to how much environmental damage they cause (which seems like it could get very messy very quickly).

Simplify, Simplify, Simplify

According to Business Green, there's no preferred option. However, this isn't the first time the EU has brought up the subject of emissions trading for the shipping industry. While emissions from shipping are just 3% of the current global carbon dioxide emissions, that number will go up considerably over the next four decades if matters stay as they are.

So, why is the EU getting involved right now? Its legislation requires it to step in and take over if no international agreement is in place by the end of 2011 (yep, that’s over), and here we are with the industry recognizing the problem of emissions but without a solution. While the International Maritime Organization has a series of efficiency targets, there are no far-reaching agreements—and without world-wide applicability, any green policy measures might make trading uneven.

In the face of such indecision, the EU is asking for ideas and views on how to best reduce emissions from shipping in addition to those outlined in their consultation document. Submissions will be accepted until April 12th.

Questions or opinions? Is 3% enough to worry about? Let us know in the comments below.

Source: Business Green | Image: Wikimedia Commons

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San Francisco & Medellin, Colombia Win 2012 Sustainable Transport Award

Posted: 27 Jan 2012 05:22 AM PST

I’m sure we’ve got some San Francisco readers here,.. not sure about Medellin, Colombia. Both cities, as you can see below, have been implementing innovative transportation solutions to make their cities more sustainable, and have won the 2012 Sustainable Transport Award for it. Here’s more:

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Green Home Insulation Scheme in UK Not So Green

Posted: 27 Jan 2012 05:17 AM PST

uke home needing insulation

The current UK government has declared its ambition to be the greenest UK government ever. However, one of its key campaigns to achieve this could actually be doing more harm than good.

The government’s green scheme was to be a brand-new loan scheme designed to help British households afford proper insulation of their homes. About 25% of UK carbon emissions are produced by the heating of residential buildings—this figure is considerably higher in the UK than other parts of the world because many of the houses are a lot older than the international average, and the age of these homes means that much of the insulation is wearing out and that which remains is not as efficient as you would find in more-modern housing. Reducing the energy wasted by poorly insulated UK homes would have a significant impact on the UKs carbon emissions.

Critics of the potentially 'greenest ever government' have cast serious doubt on the figures behind the green scheme. The problem is that the green scheme replaces an older, similar scheme that was instated by the previous government. At the moment, in the UK, energy companies are required to contribute money that subsidizes or sometimes even pays for the costs of insulating a home. This cheap (or sometimes free) insulation is currently finding its way into an average of 500,000 UK cavity walls a year and over a million UK lofts. The new scheme, however, means that the insulation will no longer be subsidized, but, instead, the government will lend the money to households, which they can then pay back with the savings that are made from having a new, more energy-efficient home—hmm, giving money to homeowners versus loaning them money, which is likely to get more people on board?

Opponents to the change in scheme claim that an end to the subsidized and free insulations is more likely to reduce the number of homes that are insulated, not increase it(!), meaning that the reduction in the carbon emissions created by poorly insulated homes is likely to slow down, not speed up.

The government had also hoped that the increase in the number of people looking to improve their home’s insulation would help create a number of new jobs. However, there are fears that many people involved in these installations are not properly prepared, with cases being reported of energy-saving devices being incorrectly fitted and actually leading to higher energy costs and greater carbon emissions.

Members of the home improvement industries are suggesting that consumers still waiting to see if the green scheme is right for them should not rule out cheaper forms of insulation that can still make a huge difference. A house's windows are still one the areas where heat is most drastically lost. A reasonably inexpensive upgrade you can make to them is installing honeycomb or cellular shutters or blinds that trap air inside, as they act as a great insulator. Even small improvements like this can make a big difference to your homes energy bills.

Any more info on this scheme or commentary you’d like to add?

UK home via shutterstock

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