Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Link to CleanTechnica

Solar PV Installations Hit 32 GW In 2012, 35 GW Projected For 2013, According To IHS

Posted: 05 Feb 2013 03:42 PM PST

IHS, a “global information company,” has reported that global solar PV installations totalled about 32 gigawatts (GW) in 2012, a new record that beats 2011′s 28 GW and 2010′s 20 GW.

As could be expected, 2013 is projected to best 2012, as is every year after that for many years to come. IHS projects that the annual installation capacity will reach 61 GW by 2017, triple 2010′s total and nearly double 2012′s. (See the chart on the right.)

Meanwhile, the price of solar modules is projected to keep falling. The net effect is that solar PV suppliers will see their annual revenues drop, according to IHS, resulting in a continued “solar shakeout” as weaker companies fall out of the market. This is a natural process in the maturation of nearly every industry.

“According to IHS, industry revenue—measured as the system price multiplied by total gigawatts installed is expected will decline to an estimated US$75 billion in 2013, down from US$77 billion in 2012,” PV-Tech writes. “PV industry revenue was said to have peaked in 2011 at US$94 billion.”

However, IHS calculates that solar PV revenue will rise above $100 billion between 2014 and 2016, and will reach as much as $115 by 2016.

With the market tightening, but still growing fast, suppliers are under pressure to reduce their own costs however they can — through technology innovation, manufacturing innovation, waste reduction, or other measures.

The bottom line: solar PV prices will continue to drop, installations will continue to increase, and solar PV suppliers will continue to go out of business as the industry consolidates.

The Changing Market

It’s no secret that Europe has led the solar installation race, with Germany clear at the head. But other regions have been getting into the game to a much greater degree in recent years, and that’s expected to continue.

“IHS noted that a major regional shift in PV demand was occurring and that the industry was becoming truly global. Europe was said to have accounted for more than 80 percent of solar demand in 2010, declining to 53% in 2012, and forecast to slide further this year to only 39% of the global market. Not surprisingly, Asia and in particular China is on track to replace Europe as the world's largest source of solar installations in the coming years.” A Solarbuzz report recently found that 33% of global solar PV shipments ended up in China.

With China’s rapidly growing economy and astounding energy use growth, this is no surprise. However, these aren’t the only factors affecting its solar installation growth. 7 out of the top 10 leading solar PV suppliers are based in China, but they are being squeezed hard by anti-dumping legislation in the US, Europe, and India, as well as by the shrinking profits mentioned above. As a result, the Chinese government has started to shift its focus onto stimulating solar demand (rather than solar panel production).

“IHS expects Germany to fall to third place in 2013, behind China and the United States. Japan and Italy follow in fourth and fifth, respectively,” PV-Tech writes.

“Geographic fragmentation is also expected to escalate this year. The market research firm noted that the top 5 countries by installations accounted for nearly 75% of total solar demand in 2012, but is expected to decline to 65% in 2013.

In a phrase: solar power is becoming global.

Drop a note below or connect with me on your favorite social media site to chat.

Solar PV Installations Hit 32 GW In 2012, 35 GW Projected For 2013, According To IHS 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.

Toyota Recycles Hybrid Batteries Into Energy Management Systems

Posted: 05 Feb 2013 03:30 PM PST

A shift in Toyota's research and development strategy could put a charge into the nascent technological application of recycling hybrid vehicle batteries into energy storage systems. 

This concept isn't new, but Toyota's announcement that it will sell electricity management systems comprised of recycled hybrid batteries to its vehicle dealers in Japan is fresh thinking – to my knowledge the first time an automaker has dedicated a business unit toward integrated battery microgrid systems. 

More Capacity, More Applications

Toyota's battery systems will use nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries to store up to 10-kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity, double the capacity of another recent recycled EV battery to energy storage project. Once online, the systems are expected to help dealerships save money, integrate renewables, and provide emergency power. 

The first systems will go on sale this April and will tip the scales at 2,160 pounds – almost as much as a 2012 Prius. However, the systems will be much smaller in size (about six feet tall, four feet wide, and four feet long), meaning up to six can fit into a typical parking space.    

While the systems won't be mobile, they'll certainly be versatile. Toyota will bundle them in conjunction with building energy management systems, solar panel systems, and solar-powered carports.  

This ability to store electricity can help the dealerships reduce energy use during peak demand, and may prove a moneymaker by selling excess power back to the grid. In fact, after a year of testing, Toyota estimates the system's combination of demand response and increased electrical efficiency will cut the cost of electricity and gas used for power by dealerships in half. 

The Future of Emergency Generators?

Saving money is great, but providing emergency backup may be the system's biggest asset – especially in Japan. Already wary of power outages from earthquakes or natural disasters, the country has faced severe power constraints as it has attempted a post-Fukushima transition away from nuclear power. 

Serving as emergency generation after disasters is becoming routine for Toyota, with online instructions to use a Prius for backup power, but the new systems expand the types of batteries serving as backup. Toyota also envisions the system can be used to power emergency response centers and evacuation shelters. 

Innovation Meets Opportunity

Toyota has certainly been at the vanguard of hybrid and EV development, filing the most US green tech patents in 2012, but this new announcement could simultaneously improve the economics of the battery and EV industries. 

And Toyota's efforts are well timed, too. An estimated 2 million hybrid cars currently run on NiMH batteries, and as EV and hybrid sales grow, automakers may soon find themselves with a surplus of batteries – and plenty of energy management systems in dealerships.

Toyota Recycles Hybrid Batteries Into Energy Management Systems 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.

Top 10 Solar PV Module Suppliers In 2012

Posted: 05 Feb 2013 02:50 PM PST

2012′s top 10 solar PV module suppliers should be familiar names to regular CleanTechnica readers, but can you guess them all, and can you guess the order?

Top 10 solar module suppliers in 2012, according to NPD Solarbuzz. Click to here enlarge.

As reported in January, Yingli has taken the top spot from Suntech (both of which are Chinese companies). Interestingly, though, Suntech isn’t even #2 this year. US-based First Solar had another strong year and was propelled into the #2 spot. Following those three, the top suppliers for 2012 were: Trina Solar, Canadian Solar, Sharp Solar, Jinko Solar, JA Solar, SunPower, and Hanwha SolarOne, as you can see in the image on the right.

Aside from Yingli and Suntech, Canadian Solar (ironically), Jinko Solar, JA Solar, and Hanwha SolarOne are all China-based suppliers. SunPower is based in the US, and Sharp Solar is based in Japan.

Clearly, the Chinese suppliers had the most to cheer about. Yingli hit an annual record for any company — 2.2 GW worth of solar panels. Meanwhile, JA Solar climbed from #15 to #8 in a single year.

“Although financial reports of most suppliers were damaged by the effects of continually declining ASPs, some of them successfully expanded their market share,” Solarbuzz analyst Ray Lian notes.

First Solar (which gets a good bit of attention here on CleanTechnica) is a unique company on the list for a couple of reasons. For one, it’s the only thin-film solar company on the list. Furthermore, as Lian notes, it has made a shift in its business model “from supplying modules to external customers to using them predominantly on internal projects.”

While these 10 solar module giants certainly consume a good piece of the solar module market, they accounted for less than half of global solar module demand. In other words, there are still quite a few companies in the game, and the solar shakeout is far from over.

For more stories on any of these solar companies, check out our archives for them:

  1. Yingli Solar
  2. First Solar
  3. Suntech
  4. Trina Solar
  5. Canadian Solar
  6. Sharp Solar
  7. Jinko Solar
  8. JA Solar
  9. SunPower
  10. Hanwha SolarOne

Drop a note below or connect with me on your favorite social media site to chat.

And, of course, if you haven’t done so already, don’t forget to go solar in 2013!

Top 10 Solar PV Module Suppliers In 2012 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.

Floating Solar-Powered Labs Under Construction In Switzerland

Posted: 05 Feb 2013 01:10 PM PST

In lake Neuchâtel, Switzerland, three solar-powered floating laboratories are to be constructed by the Swiss energy company Viteos SA and project developer Nolaris.

The laboratories are intended to act as research facilities that demonstrate the efficacy of floating concentrated solar power plants, and also whether this concept can be applied to typical PV solar panels. (For a super quick primer: concentrated solar power (CSP) plants concentrate hot sunlight onto boilers to produce steam, which is then used to drive steam turbines.)

Each of the laboratories will be 25 metres in diameter and will be equipped with 100 PV panels. Each panel will be set up back-to-back on a 45° incline. These islands will rotate 220° to track the sun so that they always achieve optimal performance.

These laboratories will also be anchored to the floor of the lake using concrete blocks, and they will be located 150 metres away from shore, near a water purification plant. The power plants will supply power to the electricity grid on land via cables using Viteous inverters. The islands are supposed to be recyclable and sustainable for 25 years.

Viteos plans to invest more than 100 million CHF ($108 million) to increase its own power output to more than 80 million kWh within 10 years, as part of its renewable energy development initiative.

The completion of the photovoltaic systems is expected by August 2013.

Source: PV Tech

Follow me on Twitter: @Kompulsa

Floating Solar-Powered Labs Under Construction In Switzerland 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.

Germany Sets New PV Installation Record In 2012

Posted: 05 Feb 2013 12:57 PM PST

The Federal Network Agency of Germany (Bundesnetzagentur) on January 31 released its latest photovoltaic solar (PV) installation count, as well as the latest feed-in tariff (FiT) reduction figures.

Despite the fact that only 330 MW of solar power plants were commissioned in December 2012, a new installation record was set that year — a whopping 7.6 GW of photovoltaic power plants were installed and connected to the electricity grid, a new record.

The annual solar PV plant installation rate was previously 2.5 GW to 3.5 GW, making 2012 installations over 2 and maybe even 3 times greater than the average. Notably, in each 2010 and 2011, Germany also saw about 7.5 GW installed, helping to make it the world’s clear solar power leader.

Germany’s feed-in tariffs will decrease by 2.2% over the next three months, Bundesnetzagentur also announced. Germany has been lowering its FiTs month by month since November 2012.

PV-Magazine aptly notes that attacks on and resulting changes to solar subsidies have artificially triggered solar industry growth:

“However, it is often overlooked that politics, via its constant attacks on solar subsidies, have contributed to the strong expansion of photovoltaics in Germany. Indeed, contrary to the objective of limiting expansion, the federal government has repeatedly triggered an artificial increase in demand for photovoltaic systems.”

Intuition implies that Germany’s solar industry would be weak due to the fact that it is a cloudy country. The cost of solar electricity is largely dependent on the average amount of sunlight a solar panel receives, and in Germany, it won’t receive much.

However, Germans actually pays much less for solar than more solar-endowed Americans due to big differences in customer acquisition, permitting, the solar supply chain, labor, and overhead costsSolar is much cheaper in the cloudier country this time!

Source: PV-Magazine

Follow me on Twitter: @Kompulsa

Germany Sets New PV Installation Record In 2012 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.

America! Cast Off The Shackles Of Mandatory Permitting For Rooftop Solar!

Posted: 05 Feb 2013 12:35 PM PST

When I was young, I learned about America from watching TV, and as a result, I assumed that the United States didn’t have much in the way of rules or regulations. After all, most justice appeared to be dispensed by Batman, and villains seemed to be released from jail just about every week. As a result of this education, I thought that Americans weren’t too concerned about enforcing laws and loved freedom too much to keep anyone locked up for long. But eventually I grew too old to believe in Batman (sometime in the middle of last year) and was surprised to learn that the US has just as many laws and regulations as any other developed country.

In fact, there’s one area where the US has a lot more regulation than countries like Australia and Germany, and that’s when it comes to installing rooftop solar. Permits appear to be required for almost every solar installation in America, while Down Under we hardly ever need one. To me, it just seems odd that people are required to ask for permission to have professionally installed solar put on their own roof. After all, it’s a PV system, not a pet lion. It’s not likely to leap off the roof and eat someone.

Now, personally, I would have thought that Australia would be the place to require permits rather than the US. After all, we’ve gone in for some strange laws and regulations in the past. I’m originally from Queensland, which is a state where it used to be illegal for a man to dress as a woman. We also used to send inspectors around to poultry farms, chicken police basically, to make sure that farmers didn’t have more chickens than they were legally entitled to. Police used to attend comedy shows to arrest comedians for swearing. And if you don’t understand how weird that is, then you’ve obviously never been to @!$#*&% Australia.

Permitting costs are a serious problem in the US. According to one study, they increase the cost of rooftop solar by 20 cents a watt. That’s $600 for a three-kilowatt system, the most common size for new solar in Australia. Permitting also causes huge delays. It can take months for Americans to get rooftop solar installed, while in Australia, installation often takes less than a week. Permitting requirements are so bad in some parts of the United States that solar installers simply don’t go there.

So I suggest that America do what Australia and Germany have done — make permits unnecessary for most installations. Now, America is a big place, and there may be areas where they are already doing this. If so, do it more.

This is not to suggest that here in Australia we’re all living in some sort of red-tape-free, bureaucratic-interferenceless wonderland. Well, yes, it is a wonderland, but it’s no bed of rose -petal-fattened possums. We have our own problems here. For example, I recently investigated Adelaide City Council’s requirements for installing rooftop solar, and let me tell you, getting through them was a tough job. First, I had to wait a fraction of a second for them to download. And then, once they were finally downloaded, I saw that the guide was a whole page long and there were over 300 words for me to slog through. But I persevered.

Under the heading "Will you need approval?" it sets out the conditions that must be met for permitless home solar installation. They are, and I quote:

Development approval will be required if the total weight of the solar panels exceeds 100 kg unless:

* the weight of the panels is distributed so that it does not exceed 100 kg at any one point of attachment to the roof

AND

* the panels, and any part of its associated components, do not overhang any part of the roof

AND

* the panels are fitted parallel to the roof with their underside surface located no more than 100 mm above the surface of the roof.

The solar system must also be installed by an installer accredited by the State Government.

And that’s it. As long as those requirements are met, you can call up an installer and get rooftop solar without any need for a permit. If the installer isn’t busy, they could even do it the next day.

If Australia and Germany can have permit-less installations for most rooftop solar, then so can the United States. America, I call upon you to rise up and cast off the shackles of mandatory permitting for professionally installed rooftop solar, and stride into the new dawn of low-cost distributed solar power. For it is a rising sun that I see, not a setting one.

America! Cast Off The Shackles Of Mandatory Permitting For Rooftop Solar! 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.

Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) — What Are They?

Posted: 05 Feb 2013 10:00 AM PST

Renewable portfolio standards (RPS) are policies designed to increase electricity generation from renewable resources, including wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass. While there is no national-level renewable portfolio standard, many states have established their own.

What Are Renewable Portfolio Standards?

Renewable portfolio standards (RPS), also referred to as renewable electricity standards (RES), are policies designed to increase generation of electricity from renewable resources. These policies require or encourage electricity suppliers within a given jurisdiction to supply a certain minimum share of their electricity from eligible renewable resources as designated by each state. Generally, these include wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, and some types of hydroelectricity, but may include other resources such as landfill gas, municipal solid waste, and marine energy. In addition, some programs also allocate credits for various types of renewable space and water-heating, fuel cells, energy efficiency measures, and advanced fossil-fueled technologies.

How Have RPS Programs Been Implemented?

Although several RPS or other clean energy proposals have advanced part way through the U.S. Congress in recent years, there is currently no such program in place at the national level. However, many states have enacted RPS programs. These programs vary widely in terms of program structure, enforcement mechanisms, size, and application — no two state programs are exactly the same.

A wide range of policies is considered to be under the RPS umbrella. In general, an RPS sets a minimum requirement for the share of electricity to be supplied from designated renewable energy resources by a certain date/year. Often, the selected eligible resources are tailored to best fit the state’s particular resource base or local preferences. Some states also set targets for specific types of renewable energy sources or technologies to encourage their development and use. Some states focus the RPS requirement on large investor-owned utilities, while others apply the standards uniformly across suppliers. (Detailed descriptions of state RPS programs are available from the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency.)

Another common feature of many state policies is a renewable electricity credit (REC) trading system structured to minimize the costs of compliance. Here’s how it works: a producer who generates more renewable electricity than required to meet its own RPS obligation may either trade or sell RECs to other electricity suppliers who may not have enough RPS-eligible renewable electricity to meet their own RPS requirement. In some cases, a state will make a certain number of credits available for sale. Such a system accommodates timing differences associated with planning and construction of new generation capacity. In general, only one entity — the generator or the REC holder — may take credit for the renewable attribute of generation from RPS-eligible sources. In addition to the cost control mechanism of a REC, many RPS programs have “escape clauses” if renewable generation exceeds a cost threshold.

Does an RPS Program Increase Levels of Electricity Generated from Eligible Renewable Resources?

An RPS is one policy mechanism to encourage development of renewable energy. States with RPS policies have seen an increase in the amount of electricity generated from eligible renewable resources. At the same time, other states without RPS policies have also seen significant increases in renewable generation over the past few years resulting from a combination of federal incentives, state programs, and market conditions. Increases in renewable generation have been driven by the availability of federal tax incentives, as well as by state RPS policies.2

Footnotes

This article was originally published on the website of the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) — What Are They? 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.

Volt Owners Are Almost Equally Republicans & Democrats

Posted: 05 Feb 2013 07:30 AM PST

Here’s another great post from the always apt (I think) “Volt Owner” over at My Chevy Volt:

An interesting poll is currently underway on gm-volt.com.  The poll is soliciting responses for those who own a Volt or are strongly considering owning one, asking “Did you vote for Obama or not?”  Presumably, the original intent of the poster was to find out who is registered as a Republican or Democrat, but as evidenced in the thread, there are a few self-professed Republicans that voted for Obama.  Nevertheless, while the poll isn’t scientific, and is not as clear cut as I would like (Are you a registered Democrat, Republican, or Independent would have been better), the results still say a lot.

With just over 100 votes collected, the poll is evenly split.




 
I am sure to most Volt owners, this is a ‘duh’ moment.  But it seems to many in the media, and those blogging critically on the Volt, that owning a Volt is like having a drivable billboard advertising that you are a hardcore tree hugging liberal (I am using that term affectionately here, not intended as derogatory).  While there are plenty of those types of people that drive the Volt and other electrics, there are plenty of Volt driving Republicans that would disagree with that assertion.

I have long wondered how it is possible so many Republican leaders have gotten the ‘electric car’ issue completely wrong, pigeoning it as a left wing environmentalists brain child.   It’s not even close to the truth.  Especially for the Volt, when it was pioneered by conservative GOPer, Bob Lutz, that professed he didn’t believe in global warming.

This poll, while small, should be a wakeup call.  More and more Republicans, like myself, are rejecting undisciplined and unintelligent platforms, especially as it pertains to energy.  Republican leadership risks alienating more and more people, like me, when they spout and support ignorant and incomplete assessments or our country’s dire energy situation.  They also risk being on the wrong side of history, and I think that’s going to happen a lot sooner than expected.

As I tell critics, you could believe the entire environmental movement is complete crock, that global warming is a hoax, and that electric cars provide no benefit to the environment over traditional gas guzzlers, and STILL support this country making a concerted effort to significantly diversify our country away from oil and towards electric.  I explained all of my reasoning to this endeavor back in my first post.

The electrification movement is an ‘American thing’, and the sooner the thought leaders in my party get on board, the better it will be for all of us.

Volt Owners Are Almost Equally Republicans & Democrats 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.

Take Advantage Of Home Energy Efficiency Tax Credits!

Posted: 05 Feb 2013 07:20 AM PST

Money can be tight, but if you’ve got a few dollars to spare, it’s hard to put them to better use than by using them to improve the energy efficiency of your home. It’s hard to find a better return on investment, and that saved money isn’t taxed! Furthermore, you can actually get tax credits for such improvements.

The Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) writes:

“As part of the ‘fiscal cliff’ legislation signed into law early this year, Congress provided a number of 2012 and 2013 tax credits for home energy efficiency improvements. These tax credits, coupled with financial incentives available for energy efficiency improvements, make right now a lucrative time to invest in home energy efficiency.”

Furthermore, there are extra opportunities for incentives in many states. In CNT’s home state of Illinois, for example, there are some very attractive ones:

“You'll get twice the deal when you take advantage of an incentive program from Energy Impact Illinois, an alliance to help Illinois residents lower energy costs. The program helps you reduce energy bills and also provides financial incentives to make recommended improvements to your home. If you enroll in the program and install energy efficiency measures this year, you'll receive an instant rebate of up to $1750 from Energy Impact Illinois and your local utility and, you can now also claim a credit of up to $500 for the very same improvements, so long as the improvements are eligible under the tax extension.”

So, seriously, stop wasting money — make some important energy efficiency upgrades to your home this month!

Drop a note below or connect with me on your favorite social media site to chat.

Take Advantage Of Home Energy Efficiency Tax Credits! 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.

Debunking Common Myths About Nuclear & Coal Power In Germany

Posted: 05 Feb 2013 07:14 AM PST

Every time you turn around, someone else is spouting some nonsense about energy in Germany (which just goes to show how much of a threat the actual story in Germany is to entrenched fossil fuel and nuclear enthusiasts). I’m not going to repeat most of the nonsense, since it might then stick in your head and you might forget that it’s nonsense somewhere down the road. However, Karl-Friedrich Lenz just had a great post debunking statements – some of the most common German energy myths — from a poor Guardian post by George Monbiot, and this is definitely worth a read, so I’m reposting it below.

To chat with Karl or share the original article with others (you should probably bookmark it for the next time you’re in a conversation with someone misrepresenting the facts), the link to the original is on the headline below.

George Monbiot Spreading False Information About Germany

George Monbiot, in the Guardian:

Germany also decided to shut down its nuclear power plants after the Fukushima crisis, due to the imminent risk of tsunamis in Bavaria. Last year, as a result, its burning of "clean coal" – otherwise known as coal – rose by 5%. That was despite a massive cut in its exports of electricity to other European countries. One estimate suggests that by 2020, Germany will have produced an extra 300 million tonnes of CO2 as a result of its nuclear closure: equivalent to almost all the savings that will be made in the 27 member states as a result of the EU's energy efficiency directive.

Let's refute the errors in that paragraph one by one. All numbers sourced from Arbeitsgemeinschaft Energiebilanzen.

For one, what "massive cut in exports"? Germany has exported more electricity than ever in 2012. That would be 23 TWh, as opposed to 17.7 in 2010, the last year before the nuclear phase out.

Monbiot doesn't give a reference for this statement, even on the version of the article at his personal website, which does include some references. So I don't know how he could get to that conclusion. Anyway, he really should learn to look at primary sources like Arbeitsgemeinschaft Energiebilanzen before commenting on Germany.

Next, it actually is true that coal (including lignite) is up around 5%, or 13.6 TWh compared to 2011. However, gas is down 12.5 TWh, around the same. The reason for that is of course that America is shipping cheap coal to Europe because of their vile and evil shale gas boom, and that carbon prices in Europe are far too low. Both developments lead to coal replacing gas, and both have nothing to do with nuclear in Germany.

The big picture in Germany is that fossil fuel use (all flavors added) is essentially unchanged in 2012 compared to 2010, that nuclear is in decline, and that renewable has replaced most of that nuclear phaseout exactly as intended.

Monbiot's reference for this statement is a short article at Yale's E360 digest. It's from last August, so it is not suited for backing up any statement about "last year" in the first place.

The last "estimate" of "300 million tons" until 2020 is taken from this 2011 article at New Scientist, where it is backed up with a reference to "calculations by Trevor Sikorski", which are not linked to or referenced. It is anybody's guess how those "calculations" were made.

But it is of course true that shutting down a source of low carbon electricity will delay replacing fossil fuel by exactly the amount of electricity that would have been generated from nuclear if Germany had shut down its reactors a decade later (as was the plan before Fukushima).

Germany will phase out nuclear, since just about everybody wants it that way. At some point, people who dislike that fact because of concern for the climate need to accept reality and move on.

Debunking Common Myths About Nuclear & Coal Power In Germany 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.

EU Cars Put Up To $493 Billion Of Costs On Others, Study Finds

Posted: 05 Feb 2013 07:00 AM PST

Average external costs from cars per 1,000 vkm by country. Click to enlarge.

If you’re not familiar with “externalities,” you really should be (click that link). The quick summary is that externalities are costs (and sometimes benefits) imposed on others but not included in the price of a good. As soon as you learn a bit more about them, you’ll learn than cars, trucks, and fossil fuel power plants are some of the worst culprits when it comes to externalities. As an example, take a look at the findings from a recent EU study:

A recent study from Technische Universität Dresden (TU Dresden) commissioned by the Greens/European Free Allianace (EFA) in the European Parliament concluded that the cars used within the EU-27 externalize up to about €373 billion (US$493 billion) per year (high estimate) of costs on to other people, other regions and other generations. The low estimate is external costs of €258 billion (US$341 billion).

The study focused on the larger environmental costs of car traffic (plus accident costs not covered by insurance)—i.e., air pollution; noise, upstream and downstream effects (covering all effects before and after the actual trip is performed); smaller other effects (land use, separational effects etc.); and climate change (focused on avoidance costs rather than damage costs). Neither infrastructure costs (area purchase, construction, maintenance, demolition, administration of infrastructure) nor congestion costs were included.

Costs for nature and landscape (water and soil pollution, resealing of land, habitat fragmentation and restoration, scenic beauty, biodiversity, etc.) were covered under "smaller other costs", as were costs due to fragmentation of space and land use costs.


For more info on the study, read the study or this summary from Green Car Congress.

But the bottom line is this: cars cost much, much more than what we pay for them (and to run them). If we were an intelligent people, we would find ways to adequately price all of the externalities above, so that we don’t overvalue their benefits. That’s a difficult task politically… despite the fact that it would greatly benefit society. Funny world we live in, isn’t it.

Drop a note below or connect with me on your favorite social media site to chat.

EU Cars Put Up To $493 Billion Of Costs On Others, Study Finds 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.

First Wind Projects 50% Portfolio Growth In Coming Years

Posted: 05 Feb 2013 04:10 AM PST

First Wind, which is focused on the development, financing, construction, ownership, and operation of utility-scale renewable energy projects in the United States (primarily wind power projects), is one of the top wind power companies that will benefit from the recent decision of the U.S. Congress to keep supporting this nascent but fast-growing energy sector. Following the decision to extend the wind power production tax credit (PTC), First Wind announced that it now “hopes to increase its operating portfolio of wind projects by 50 percent or more.”

“The ambitious effort could mean that thousands of people will be employed building new First Wind projects over the next few years along with millions of dollars in investment and new revenue generated for host communities and others, while delivering cost-competitive clean energy to more homes across the country,” First Wind adds.

The company currently operates 980 megawatts (MW) of wind projects in 6 U.S. states.

I’m sure this is just one of many stories about the benefits of extending the wind power PTC, and I’m sure the PTC is still creating a net benefit for the American public. Furthermore, as we’ve noted plenty of times before, historical subsidies for wind power don’t compare to historical subsidies for competing energy industries (all of which continue to receive subsidies even though many of those subsidies no longer benefit society, but actually harms it). So, I think the wind industry very well deserves these this support, and we should all make it very clear to our friends and relatives that this simple wind power subsidy is creating jobs and benefiting our economy!

Drop a note below or connect with me on your favorite social media site to chat.

First Wind Projects 50% Portfolio Growth In Coming Years 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.

New German Wind Energy Capacity Increases In 2012 By 20%

Posted: 05 Feb 2013 02:43 AM PST

New German installed wind capacity advanced by 20% in 2012, helping the country’s industry see steady growth according to a recent report.

Image Credit: German Wind Turbine via Ethan.K Flickr (Some Rights Reserved)

The German Wind Energy Association (BWE) and VDMA Power Systems (VDMA PS) note a total of 2,439 megawatts (MW) and 1008 wind turbines were installed in 2012. That’s an increase of 431 MW and 113 new turbines from the previous year (2,008 MW installed and 895 wind turbines in 2011).

Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein were the top federal states with 361 MW and 333 MW of new installed capacity, respectively. Meanwhile, the southern states of Rhine-Palatinate (288 MW) and Baravia (201 MW) also showed firm wind energy growth in 2012. Baden-Württemberg was at the bottom of the list of new German wind power capacity, showing 19 MW.

Meanwhile, Thorsten Herdan, Managing Director of VDMA PS, had this to say on Germany’s gains in 2012:

“Germany is a pillar of strength in a turbulent global market where wind energy is concerned. Both the expected slump of the US market in 2013 and the progressive isolation of the declining Chinese market are forcing manufacturers to focus on the European core markets. The systemic modification of the German Renewable Energy Sources Act and the electricity market design thus become all the more important. If these goals can be achieved, the framework conditions on the German domestic market will act as a model for Germany's export markets"

When looking in the past twenty-three years, the growth of the German wind industry is quite astounding (see below graph). In 1990, there were only 55 MW of installed capacity, which is just a fraction of the new installed capacity seen in 2012. Between 2000 and 2011, a total of 22,978 MW of new wind capacity was installed, topping out at 29,075.

Image Credit: Wind Energy Germany via Gorgo Wikicommons

However, despite solid gains for the German wind market in 2012, the global wind industry could be facing some challenges this year. VDMA PS predicts a drop of 10% in the global wind market in 2013. The report noted that the US will have around 5,000 MW of new wind capacity in 2013, dramatically down from 2012′s estimated 13,200 MW. Much of the anticipated downward swing in projected new US wind capacity this year is due to the constant flux of the US wind production credit, which in early January was renewed for another one-year term.

"If wind energy is not ground up by the election campaign mills, Germany's strong domestic market will ensure that manufacturing capacities will be ready for the expected revival of the global wind energy market from 2014 onwards," said Herdan.

Whichever way the wind takes the German wind industry in 2013 due to some potential currents facing them, 2012 was a good year for moving wind forward as a real concrete source of energy.  It will be interesting to see how Germany’s wind industry will continue to pull its self forward this year and the future.

Main Source: German Wind Energy Association

New German Wind Energy Capacity Increases In 2012 By 20% 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.

Barriers To Distributed Renewable Energy [Slideshow]

Posted: 05 Feb 2013 01:00 AM PST

The following presentation by Institute for Local Self-Reliance Senior Researcher John Farrell examines the five major barriers to the expansion of community-based and conventional distributed renewable energy.

John Farrell

The barriers range from the challenge of raising capital to forming a legal structure that allows for local ownership and for access to tax incentives. It also examines the uphill struggle against utility and regulatory inertia toward large scale power generation and utility hostility to local power generation because of its threat to their market share.

There are also several examples of community-based projects that have succeeded despite the challenges, and that offer models for promoting clean, local power generation.

Author John Farrell can also be found discussing clean, local energy options for Minneapolis on Institute for Local Self-Reliance’s latest podcast, found here

This post originally appeared on ILSR's Energy Self-Reliant States blog.

Barriers To Distributed Renewable Energy [Slideshow] 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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