Monday, February 25, 2013

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

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35X Increase For Solar In Argentina

Posted: 24 Feb 2013 11:51 AM PST

Currently Argentina is far behind in solar capacity with only about 10 MW in operation. That could change soon due to plans to expand by up to thirty-five times. Solar farms are being planned in the western parts of the country, where there is approximately twice was much solar radiation as in Germany, the world’s number one solar market.There is a great deal of solar radiation in the western areas waiting to be utilized.

salta

Argentina has a goal of increasing power from renewables to 8% by 2016. The federal government is trying to make it easier for developers to build and manage solar projects by allowing them to negotiate directly with the grid-operator, instead of through a third party. Officials are also trying to tend to each potential long-term power contract more carefully to give better service to international companies that might invest in the solar projects. Companies like China's Sky Solar Holdings Co., Solaria Energia & Medio Ambiente SA and Aldar SA have reportedly struck agreements with the government.

Some skepticism has been expressed about the feasibility of such a large, quick solar surge. “However, this is still Argentina. The same country that claimed inflation of 11.1 percent, but was censured earlier this month by the International Monetary Fund because some private economists believe the real rate of inflation there is 26 percent.” (Source: Bezinga) Argentina’s economy is the third-largest in South America, behind Brazil and Colombia.

Natural gas provides about half of the country’s energy, with oil providing most of the the other half. Nuclear, coal and hydro make up the rest, with a tiny portion generated by renewables. About two-thirds of their electricity is generated by burning natural gas in thermal plants. Another one-third comes from hydro-power. Annual electricity demand has been estimated to be about 6%.

Although it represents a very tiny portion of their overall energy profile, biodiesel production has increased greatly over the last five years. Along with solar, wind power is likely to be developed there.

Image Credit: Chupacabras, Wiki Commons

35X Increase For Solar In Argentina was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

100%, 99%, 80%, 70% — How Much Can/Should The World Be Powered By Renewable Energy?

Posted: 24 Feb 2013 07:00 AM PST

Solar panel, wind turbine & globe via Shutterstock

How much can/should the world be powered by renewable energy? Or how about your country or region? A number of studies have tackled this question, and I recently realized that we hadn’t stuck them all together in one easy-to-find place. So, I created this page specifically for that purpose: 70%, 80%, 99.9%, 100% Renewables — Study Central.

Keep that page bookmarked — it will be updated with new major studies on this topic as they are produced. (I’ll also stick it in our sidebar on the right so that it’s super easy to access for CleanTechnica readers — I know, I love you.)

Image Credit: Solar panel, wind turbine & globe via Shutterstock

100%, 99%, 80%, 70% — How Much Can/Should The World Be Powered By Renewable Energy? was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

Solar & Wind Cutting Fossil Fuels Off At The Kneecaps In Coming Years In Australia

Posted: 24 Feb 2013 05:00 AM PST

This article was originally published on RenewEconomy:

The story that has really captured the imagination of our readers this year has been on the Bloomberg New Energy Finance analysis that demonstrated that wind energy was already cheaper than new coal and gas plants in Australia, and solar PV was not all that behind.

Because of that interest, we've decided that today's Graph of the Day should be another set from the BNEF report, because they demonstrate so vividly how the technology costs of wind, solar PV, solar thermal, biomass and even geothermal fall below rising coal and gas plant costs over the coming decades.

Remember when looking at this graph of the day that Australia needs no new baseload power plants for another 10 years – that's according to the Australian Energy Market Operator and the utilities themselves. So this shows that the new plants we are getting built now – wind farms, thanks to the renewable energy target – are the cheapest option.

By the time 2020 comes around, solar PV will have well and truly joined wind on the southern side of the cost curve (and will no doubt be competing for space in the RET), and solar thermal – with its ability for storage and dispatchable energy, will be competing vigorously with gas.

Looking at these, it really is hard to disagree with BNEF's CEO Michael Liebrich, who said that "clean energy is a game changer which promises to turn the economics of power systems on its head".  And it's also hard to stomach the constant carping from "the other side" about the expense of renewables.

We've published one graph that includes 2012, 2020 and 2030 forecasts, because the contrast is so visible. But due to the formatting, it may be easier to view the graphs individually, so we have also reproduced them below if the numbers and the letters are too small to see in the first. (STEG stands for solar thermal electricity generation).

renewables vs fossil fuels 2012

lcoe renewable fossil fuels australia

lcoe australia 2020 solar wind coal natural gas

lcoe australia solar wind natural gas coal 2030

Solar & Wind Cutting Fossil Fuels Off At The Kneecaps In Coming Years In Australia was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

Masdar & Abu Dhabi Extravaganza

Posted: 24 Feb 2013 04:00 AM PST

As regular readers know, we’ve published quite a few articles about Masdar and Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week this year. And I actually have a bunch more planned. However, beyond our own articles, several bloggers and reporters who were in the same VIP Media program as Marika and me have also posted a number of good stories, pics, and videos. Here’s a list of the ones I’m aware of, including some videos at the end:

By Tafline Laylin:

By Irene Quaile:

By Karl Burkart:

By Chris Nelder:

By Scott Burger:

By Sarah Backhouse (future360):

Masdar & Abu Dhabi Extravaganza was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

Where Do I Put My Offshore Wind Farm?

Posted: 24 Feb 2013 03:00 AM PST

By Chelsea Drenick

offshore wind farm

Offshore wind farm via Shutterstock

At the end of 2012, the European market boasted a cumulative 4,995 MW capacity from 55 offshore wind farms and the United States market boasted a total capacity of zero. As disheartening as that might sound to American renewable energy proponents, it looks like our first offshore wind farms are on the horizon (pun intended), as the production tax credits were extended, along with DOI’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management recent announcement of $168 million in funding for offshore development. Each project awarded will receive $4 million funding for the planning phase of the project and potentially up to $47 million for the construction phase. The projects awarded are spread out across various states and sites off the coast of Texas, New Jersey, Ohio (Lake Erie), Oregon, Maine, and Virginia. Quite the spread of locations, and although this project is not listed as getting funding in the round, the first offshore wind farm may very well be the Cape Wind project off the coast of Massachusetts. The diversity of locations of planned offshore wind farms seem to beg the question, how do they decide where to put an offshore wind farm?

Wind

It may be obvious that the main factor in siting a wind farm site is the wind resource. However, determining the wind speeds that potential turbines on the site will see is a difficult and time consuming process. To accurately assess the wind resource, a tower must be constructed at the proposed site. There is information available in many locations from governmental buoys, but is generally at an elevation of 10 meters or lower, which cannot accurately be extrapolated to the 80- or 90-meter proposed hub height. So, once the wind mast is erected to measure the resource, the waiting begins. It is important to get as much information as possible about the wind seen at the site because the electricity generation of a wind farm is very sensitive to the wind speed. Your investors will not be happy if your wind predictions are artificially high because the data was only collected on a good wind year.

Water Depth

Looking at the demonstration sites awarded funding, one might notice that most of them are on the East Coast despite the seemingly high winds off the West Coast. The reason for this is water depth. The Atlantic Ocean remains relatively flat off the East Coast, making it possible to use the known technology of monopiles for foundations, which account for 73% of the constructed European wind farms. The high winds off the West Coast are seen in deeper waters, and although there is technology in development for floating turbines, no farms are in service yet that use floating foundations.

Federal Versus State Waters

The permitting process for offshore wind farms is part of the reason none have been built yet. Cape Wind's site is in federal waters, although all their proposed roads and transmission cables are state regulated. Cape Wind finally received its last permit after a decade of applications, court cases, and waiting. Part of the length of this process was because they had to get permission on both a state and federal level, whereas many projects in the works have proposed sites in state waters to try to alleviate some of the permitting issues. The federal government is currently trying to remove some of these permitting barriers, such as by auctioning offshore leases for the first time.

Transmission Lines

google_off-shore_windA main concern with offshore wind farms is getting the electricity from the site where it's generated to the people who will use it. A large cost in the development is the transmission lines; the longer they are, the more expensive they are. Also, the longer they are, the more energy is lost during transmission. A project is currently in the works to build an offshore transmission system off the East Coast called the Atlantic Wind Connection, partly funded by Google. This would help developers with the upfront need for a connection to the onshore grid.

Hurricane Risk

The US has seen its share of hurricanes, and you have heard of the damage they cause onshore, but they are also a serious threat to offshore oil and gas structures and will be a threat to offshore wind farms, as well. Siting an offshore wind farm must include consideration for the hurricane risk, including maximum wave height and forces the turbines will see. For example, the Cape Wind site was chosen well as a protected site from hurricanes.

Public Opinion

Public opinion has been one of the main barriers for offshore wind farm development in the United States. The Kennedy family has infamously been an opposing force against the construction of the Cape Wind project. And, as well-respected members of the community, they are supported by others. Recently, one of their family members, Joe Kennedy, has reversed his opinion and says he supports the Cape Wind project. Hopefully more Americans will begin to see the offshore wind farms in development as progress towards a renewable future.

Overall, there are many different considerations that are taken into the siting of an offshore wind farm that have so far kept a farm from being built in the United States. Some of these can't be changed, such as the wind resources, hurricane risk, or water depth. But such issues as permitting and public opinion are already seeing improvements, and hopefully soon these issues can be overcome so that the United States can become a part of the offshore wind energy industry.

Where Do I Put My Offshore Wind Farm? was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

Those Australian Electricity Price Increases We Keep Hearing About (Charts)

Posted: 24 Feb 2013 02:00 AM PST

This article was originally published on RenewEconomy:

Australian consumers have been buffeted by some hefty electricity price rises in the last few years, and face yet more in the next couple of years. But how long will it last, and what sort of price will householders be facing in 2020?

It's not the sort of question – or time horizon – that customers would normally be worried about, unless you are considering the value of producing your own energy – either with solar PV or some other, and possibly with battery storage – or if you are in the market to manufacture or sell such systems.

That's what makes this forecast by AGL economists Paul Simshauser and Tim Nelson so interesting. In an article written for a CEDA policy paper, the two economists argue that nominal electricity price rises can be contained, and a fall of 10 per cent in real prices (adjusted for inflation) can be achieved. This, though, is dependent on the government follows its recommended policy actions, a lot of which centres around the deregulation of pricing regimes, and the greater deployment of time-of-use pricing.

What's interesting about this graph is the contrast between nominal electricity prices (shown in the coloured bars), and real electricity prices expressed in 2013 dollars (shows in the black line).

For nearly three decades, nominal electricity prices were steady, jumped in the 1980s, steadied again, and then surged in the last five years as utilities scrambled to cater for surging peak demand and replacing ageing infrastructure (and, one now suspects, indulging in a lot of overbuilding).

Real prices fell from the 1950s until the mid 2000s. In fact, according to this graph, the cost of electricity is only now back to where it was in the 1970s.

The other highlight of the graph is the component of the bill. Again, the cost of renewables represents a tiny band that actually gets smaller by 2020 – network costs and generation costs (fuels such as coal and gas) form the largest components, followed by the retail costs and margins. Food for thought, perhaps, for advocates of renewable and decentralised energy.

(You may need to click on the graph to see it all).

australian electricity price

Just to reinforce that last point, about the cost of renewables, it is worth reproducing another graph included in the paper.

This graph below, which tracks the increase in NSW electricity prices from 2008 to 2013, is not new, but it makes a nonsense of the opposition of the conservative state governments to renewables targets and incentives on the basis of costs, and raises the question why the mainstream parties in the federal arena continue to hedge their bets on the issue.

Perhaps this graph should be published on NSW electricity bills, rather than the government-mandated, politicised and misleading claim that green schemes are adding more than $300 to the average bill.

sydney price increases

Those Australian Electricity Price Increases We Keep Hearing About (Charts) was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

Powering The World With Wind, Water, & Sunshine (VIDEO)

Posted: 24 Feb 2013 12:10 AM PST

Continuing on with our daily series on Leonardo ENERGY videos, here’s one on a plan to power the world 100% with renewable energy – wind, water, and sunlight (WWS):

Powering The World With Wind, Water, & Sunshine (VIDEO) was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

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