- Top Wind Power Countries Relative to Electricity Production (CleanTechnica Exclusive)
- Top Wind Power Countries Per GDP (CleanTechnica Exclusive)
- Four Lessons Learned from Washington D.C.’s Green Building Act
- Climate Change Will Turn Off the Lights: New Study Finds Nuclear and Coal at Risk
- Australia to Go Nuclear by 2030, Says Expert
- Local Ownership Doubles Economic Value of Wind
Posted: 05 Jun 2012 05:43 AM PDT
This post follows posts on top wind power countries per capita and top wind power countries per GDP. All three of these posts will soon be included in the Wind Power resource page we have featured on the side of our website.
While the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) provides an invaluable (in my opinion) annual report on total and new wind power in countries around the world (see GWEC's most recent annual report or our summary of it), I have often wished I had information and rankings on wind power per capita, per GDP, and relative to total electricity production — hence this series. This last ranking is the most important for me, as it actually shows (better than the others at least) how much of a country’s electricity is coming from wind power. I hope you find it as interesting and useful as I do.
(Note to those who I know will bring this point up: I realize that MW and MWh are two different things, but without comprehensive figures on MWh by country, and with the general assumption that efficiency of installed wind power will be similar around the world, I think this is a very good method for determining the relative prominence of wind power in these countries’ electricity production systems.)
A few key points you’ll be able to identify in the charts and lists below are:
But, there’s more to see. On to the rankings (3 sections below):
Top Countries for Total Installed Wind Power (End of 2011) per TWh of Electricity Production
As was the case in new wind power per GDP, Cape Verde steals the show. For this reason, I am presenting two charts below, one with Cape Verde included and one without Cape Verde included, so that you can get a better sense for how the other countries compare. Following the two charts is a list of the top 20 countries (with the specific figures included).
Top 20 countries for total cumulative installed wind power relative to electricity production (MW of installed wind power per TWh of electricity production):
The US was #21 at 10.85 MW of wind power per TWh of electricity production.
Top Countries for Newly Installed Wind Power (2011) per TWh of Electricity Production
Again, Cape Verde is such an outlier that I’ve included two charts (one with it and one without it), followed by the top 20 list.
Top 20 countries for new wind power capacity in 2011 relative to electricity production (MW of wind power per TWh of electricity production):
Top 10 Countries for New and Cumulative Wind Power Capacity (Absolute Numbers)
And, again, here’s GWEC’s charts on the top wind power countries in absolute terms (not relative to electricity production):
*As noted in the preceding posts, while the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) puts together the most comprehensive report on installed wind power by country, it doesn't include installed wind power details for each of the countries of the world. In particular, countries with little or no installed wind power are not included. Since I used the information provided in GWEC's annual report for the rankings above, the rankings are not based on a comprehensive examination of wind power per electricity production for all countries of the world. Unfortunately, this might mean that some small countries with small amounts of wind power but also very small amounts of electricity production (that would presumably rank well above) are not on the list — I’m not sure if such countries exist or not, but I would guess that there are some, perhaps even some that would give Cape Verde a run for its money!
**Source of electricity production figures (retrieved June 4).
Posted: 05 Jun 2012 04:30 AM PDT
Now, on to the rankings (3 sections below):
Top Countries for Total Installed Wind Power per GDP at the End of 2011
In list format and with the specific numbers included, the top 20 are (in MW per $1 billion of GDP):
Top Countries for Newly Installed Wind Power per GDP
The first chart below includes all the countries which were presented with specific figures in GWEC’s latest annual report. However, since Cape Verde and Honduras have so much more new wind power per GDP and are relatively low-GDP countries, I’ve also produced a chart without Cape Verde included and one without either Cape Verde or Honduras included and posted those charts below (so that you can get a better sense for how the other countries compare with each other). Following all three charts is a list with the top 20 countries and specific figures.
And the top 20, with specific numbers on new MW of wind power capacity per $1 billion of GDP, are:
Top 10 Countries for New and Cumulative Wind Power Capacity (Absolute Numbers)
As I did yesterday, I’m again including GWEC’s charts on the top 10 countries for total cumulative and newly installed wind power. I think it’s worth noting how much different these top 10 lists are compared to the lists above. Clearly, while we often talk about China and the US being world wind power leaders, when you look at how they compare on a per GDP basis, things can change drastically. Though, on this metric, China still does very well on newly installed wind power capacity and quite well on total installed wind power capacity. The US, meanwhile, is only mediocre.
*As noted yesterday, while the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) puts together the most comprehensive report on installed wind power by country, it doesn’t include details for all of the countries in the world. In particular, countries with little or no wind power installed are not included. Since I used GWEC’s info for the rankings above, the rankings are not based on a comprehensive examination of wind power per GDP for all countries of the world.
**Source of GDP figures (retrieved June 4).
Posted: 05 Jun 2012 03:54 AM PDT
As of January 2012, Washington D.C.’s Green Building Act (GBA) now requires that all public buildings in the district meet the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification standards for environmental performance. Because it was the first law of its kind, government agencies, lawmakers and environmentalists alike should take away some valuable lessons that became apparent during the law’s evolution.
1. Environmentally friendly policies take time to adjust to.
Although the GBA was passed in 2006, it wasn’t enacted until January of this year. During that time, lawmakers had to work out some kinks and ensure that everybody affected by the GBA understood not only its requirements but also the consequences for failing to follow them. Now that the new green building expectations have been enacted, they must be enforced, which can be tricky to navigate. Although we’d obviously like environmentally friendly policies to become effective immediately, it’s understandable why implementing them takes time.
2. Lawmakers must fully understand the implications of the policies they pass.
One of the major flaws with the GBA was its requirement that contractors purchase green performance bonds before being approved for contracts in the district. Surety bonds are frequently used on construction projects, but no ”green performance bond” has ever existed. (For a more detailed explanation of surety bonds, click here.) The lawmakers had essentially invented a new type of surety bond insurance — one that surety providers objected to underwriting because it was so risky. In the end, lawmakers had to pass emergency legislation in December 2011 – right before the law was slated to go into effect — to provide alternatives to the bonding requirement.
3. All stakeholders must fully understand the changes being made.
A number of different professionals were affected by the changes included in the GBA’s text. Construction professionals, surety underwriters, insurance companies, and project owners all had to consider how the changes would affect their markets and how they do business. When these various stakeholders realized the GBA’s inherent flaws, they sent letters and wrote blog posts that explained what the GBA meant for the construction and surety industries, not to mention for public and private construction project investors.
4. Government agencies do have the power to enforce energy efficiency policies.
The implementation of the GBA shows that we can overcome the challenges the cleantech sector faces on a much larger scale. Slowly but surely, our advocacy for cleantech can ensure steps are taken to provide solutions to environmental concerns, be they about green building practices or fuel emissions. If the implementation of the Green Building Act is any indication, we’re on the right track.
Danielle Rodabaugh is the chief editor of SuretyBonds.com, a nationwide surety bond producer that helps professionals meet certain licensing requirements. As a part of the company’s educational outreach program, Danielle writes to inform construction professionals and their clients on emerging green building practices. You can keep up with Danielle on Google+.
Image Credit: screenshot of DDOE website
Posted: 05 Jun 2012 02:50 AM PDT
A new study by Michelle T. H. van Vliet, John R. Yearsley, Fulco Ludwig, Stefan Vögele, Dennis P. Lettenmaier, and Pavel Kabat released in Nature Climate Change finds that climate change will impact the 91% of US and 78% of European power that is produced by thermal power plants. In the near future, power potential is expected to be reduced from 4 to 16%, with the possibility of a complete system collapse tripling or more.
Thermal Power Plants
Power plants that use heat to produce electricity are thermal power plants. This includes nuclear, coal, solar thermal, gas, and geothermal. Gas is often used in a gas turbine peaking power plant. Such power plants are quickly turned on and off but, historically, have been the most expensive to run. Other plants use the heat to produce steam in a Rankine cycle.
The Rankine Cycle
An old but still common way to make electrify is to boil water to produce steam in a Rankine Cycle to turn a turbine. It is highly inefficient and water-wasteful to let that steam escape after it has done its work, so it must be cooled to a liquid (condensed) and returned to a boiler to complete a cycle.
Cooling the steam takes place in a condenser. It is most efficient to cool the steam with the coldest possible substance, but cost dictates that it should be cooled from a readily available source. There are two common variations. The first is to directly take in water from a river or lake and pass it over pipes containing the steam. The second also uses a liquid condenser but the water is pumped to a cooling tower where some of it is allowed to evaporate. (You have no doubt seen this water vapor rising from cooling towers.) Although this uses less water, a supply is needed to replace what has evaporated. The once-through method was used in the US mostly before 1970 and the wet cooling tower was used mostly after that time.
A third method uses air to cool the steam (using a dry cooling tower). Because the air is so much warmer and cannot contain as much heat, this is the least efficient and most expensive method, but it is in some cases the most practical option. In a window air conditioner, it is the air-cooled condenser (part that looks like a radiator on the outside) that makes the unit so bulky. A liquid-cooled condenser would be about the size of a thermos.
The Cooling Water
Most of the water used for cooling is freshwater. Together, Europe and North America consume 86% of the water used in the world to cool thermal power plants, 43% of all surface water comsumption.
Prior to construction, power plants are required to specify the source of water resources, including details such as how much water they will use, seasonal variations, and anticipated temperature differences. But what has not been anticipated in some studies now decades old is the warming climate.
The Warming Climate
Base water temperatures are now expected to rise. Water flow will decrease. Neither of these futures was foreseen during original construction. Power plants will be required to cease operations to avoid operating outside the regulated and design boundaries. This is not wild speculation. Last year we reported this has already happened in Tennessee. Not surprisingly, the study also concluded the problem will be most severe in the Southeast US. And in a more recent article, geothermal was being pursued in East Africa because severe seasonal drought was making hydroelectric unreliable.
Preparations must be made prior to increasingly severe weather. We will have to shift to power generation that does not need water, like solar photovoltaics and wind power. Or, at some cost, we must adapt present thermal power plants to limit water use and make them work acceptably in the midst of higher temperature disruptions. A government that does nothing for four years, waiting for the next election cycle, is not an option.
Image Credit: Cooling tower of the unfinished Chernobyl reactors 5 and 6 by Timm Suess (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Posted: 05 Jun 2012 02:33 AM PDT
Professor Brook, Director of Climate Science at the University of Adelaide’s Environment Institute, says Australia will eventually turn to nuclear power to meet our sustainable energy needs — and when we do, we will choose to focus on next-generation nuclear technology that provides major safety, waste, and cost benefits over conventional nuclear power.
“One particularly attractive sustainable nuclear technology for Australia is the Integral Fast Reactor (IFR). Although the scientific community has known about the benefits of IFR-type designs for many years, there are currently none in commercial operation because the energy utilities are typically too risk averse to ‘bet on’ new technologies. This is a wasted opportunity for Australia and for the rest of the world.
“Integral Fast Reactors are much more efficient at extracting energy from uranium, can use existing nuclear waste for fuel, produce far smaller volumes of waste that does not require long-term geological isolation, and can be operated at low cost and high reliability. They are also inherently safer than past nuclear reactors due to passive systems based on the laws of physics,” Professor Brook says.
“In order to re-start the nuclear power debate in Australia, it is best to have a solution that overcomes as many public objections as possible: safety, constraints on uranium supplies, long-lived waste, cost, and proliferation. The IFR technology offers a vast improvement in all of these areas.”
What are your thoughts about this?
Posted: 04 Jun 2012 12:07 PM PDT
Local ownership of a wind project accounts for half of its lifetime economic value to the community! You can see the benefits of each development stage when locally owned or managed in the graphic above.
This post originally appeared on ILSR's Energy Self-Reliant States blog.
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