Renewables

Big Oil Replaces Rigs With Wind Turbines

23 Mar 2017   Wind

Royal Dutch Shell Plc , Statoil ASA and Eni SpA are moving into multi-billion-dollar offshore wind farms in the North Sea and beyond. They’re starting to score victories against leading power suppliers including Dong Energy A/S and Vattenfall AB in competitive auctions for power purchase contracts, which have developed a specialty in anchoring massive turbines on the seabed. The oil companies have many reasons to move into the industry. They’ve spent decades building oil projects offshore, and that business is winding down in some areas where older fields have drained. Returns from wind farms are predictable and underpinned by government-regulated electricity prices. And fossil fuel executives want to get a piece of the clean-energy business as forecasts emerge that renewables will eat into their market. “It is certainly […]

1st US offshore wind farm goes ‘full throttle’ during storm

17 Mar 2017   Wind

The company that built the United States’ first offshore wind farm says the powerful storm that hit the Northeast this week was a chance to go “full throttle” and put the turbines through their paces. Deepwater Wind says all five turbines off Rhode Island operated at full capacity during much of Tuesday’s nor’easter. It says the wind farm automatically powered down for several hours when the sustained wind speeds exceeded 55 mph, the designated limit. Winds got as high as 70 mph. Deepwater Wind CEO Jeffrey Grybowski says the offshore wind industry loves strong storms and the wind farm handled the season’s worst conditions superbly. The blustery late-season storm plastered the Northeast with sleet and nearly three feet of snow is some areas.

North Carolina ready for offshore wind energy auction

17 Mar 2017   Wind

More than 100,000 acres off the coast of North Carolina go on the auction block Thursday for potential wind energy development, the U.S. government said. The U.S. Department of Interior pounded the gavel to open the seventh offshore wind auction, putting 122,405 acres off the North Carolina coast on the block for commercial wind energy leasing. In August 2014, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, a division with the Interior Department, identified three areas offshore North Carolina that were suitable for potential wind energy development. The closest to the shoreline would be the Wilmington West wind energy area, located 10 nautical miles from shore. The furthest out would be the Kitty Hawk wind energy area, which begins 24 nautical miles from shore. North Carolina Gov. Pat McRory’s government […]

U.S. refiners’ biofuel bill soars to record high as debate heats up

11 Mar 2017   Biofuels

Oil refiners shelled out a record over $2 billion to meet U.S. biofuels requirements in 2016, a 70 percent surge that helps fuel a growing debate over who should shoulder the costs for meeting environmental regulations. A Reuters review of regulatory filings from ten refiners, including Valero Energy Corp and CVR Energy Inc, showed that they paid $2.22 billion last year for compliance credits that companies use to prove they are meeting annual government requirements for volumes of biofuels to be blended with gasoline and diesel. That was 68 percent more than in 2015 and well above the previous record of $1.3 billion reached in 2013, when prices for paper credits, which trade in an opaque market, spiked to historic levels. […]

U.S. solar market set new record in 2016

10 Mar 2017   Solar

The solar market in the United States had its best year on record in 2016, according to researchers with the Solar Energy Industries Association. In a study published by the industry group, researchers note the solar market nearly doubled its previous record, and added more electric generating capacity than any other source for the first time in history. Solar Power Enter Your Zip Code & Connect. Pre-Screened Contractors Near You! homeadvisor.com The report, called the U.S. Solar Market Insight 2016 Year-in-Review, says the market is set to triple over the next five years, a trend SEIA president and CEO Abigail Ross Hopper calls good news for solar energy producers. “It would be hard to […]

Wind energy gaining traction, U.S. trade group says

8 Mar 2017   Wind

A General Electric wind turbine on display. An industry trade group said wind energy is the new American “cash crop.” File photo by Alexis C. Glenn/UPI. March 7 (UPI) — Wind energy in the United States is making a case for itself as a cheap source of energy that steers revenue to rural America, an industry trade group said. Federal data show five state — Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, North Dakota and South Dakota — each sourced more than 20 percent of their electricity from wind power last year to lead the nation. “Wind is now cheaply and reliably supplying more than 20 percent of the electricity in five states and is a testament to American leadership and innovation,” Tom Kiernan, the CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, said in a statement . For the entire United States, wind energy supplied 5.5 percent of the total electricity last year, […]

Tapping into Ocean Power

8 Mar 2017   Tidal, Waves

The oceans of the world are a vast unexploited source of clean, reliable and predictable renewable energy. Could this energy help replace fossil fuels and be a solution to climate change? Humans have been trying to harness ocean energy for centuries, beginning with a French engineer named Pierre-Simon Girard in 1799. The constant pounding of the waves and the ebb and flow of tidal currents, as well as other properties of the ocean, if harnessed, could produce 20,000 to 80,000 terawatt hours of electricity, according to the International Energy Agency. That is more than the world’s current energy consumption of almost 20,000 TWh The Electric Power Research Institute estimates that the waves breaking along the U.S. coastline alone could generate 2,640 TWh each year. But since shipping, fishing, naval operations or environmental concerns take precedence in certain areas, the amount of power that is “recoverable” is estimated at 1,170 […]

French, Spanish companies set for more wind power off coast of France

7 Mar 2017   France, Spain, Wind

French and Spanish energy companies said Monday they were setting their sights on building up the wind energy potential off the coast of France. French energy company ENGIE counts an installed wind power capacity of more than 1,700 megawatts in France and is now teaming up with its Spanish counterpart, EDPR, on plans to install as much as 750 MW of wind power offshore. According to ENGIE, offshore France is one of the most attractive parts of the world for offshore wind and the two companies have already pre-qualified for further developments. “Already a leader in on-shore wind, we hope to […]

Trump to shift biofuel blending burden off refiners: U.S. ethanol group

1 Mar 2017   Biofuels

The head of the Renewable Fuels Association said on Tuesday that U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration would lift the responsibility for fuel blending off refiners, which had long requested this change to the nation’s biofuel program. The news sent prices of compliance credits used to meet annual standards tumbling to as low as 30 cents apiece on Tuesday from 47 cents to 48 cents previously. The Renewable Fuel Standard requires that fuel companies use increasing amounts of biofuel blended with gasoline and diesel. Oil refiners, including Valero Energy Corp ( VLO.N ) and CVR Energy Inc ( CVI.N ), had long sought the change, saying the biofuel program hits them with burdensome costs. Renewable Fuels Association Chief Executive Officer Bob Dinneen said a […]

Refiners Pare Gains as Trump Denies Change to Biofuels Rules

1 Mar 2017   Biofuels

Shares of U.S. refiners pared gains late Tuesday after President Donald Trump’s administration denied that it was considering a proposal to change biofuel blending rules. Billionaire investor Carl Icahn and the leading U.S. biofuel trade group struck a deal to revamp a law that mandates oil refiners to either blend petroleum-based fuels with ethanol and biodiesel, or buy blending credits called RINs, according to people familiar with the agreement, and the shares rose earlier in the day on the news. They slipped after the White House said there was no deal. Merchant refiners including Icahn’s CVR Refining and Valero Energy Corp . would benefit from a deal. Gasoline blenders that operate fuel stations such as Casey’s General Stores Inc. and Murphy USA Inc. would have to shoulder the costs. Ethanol blending credits for 2017 compliance fell by nearly 35 percent Tuesday to 30 cents each, the lowest on record […]

Oil industry infighting heats up as EPA weighs biofuels rule change

24 Feb 2017   Biofuels

Oil companies showed deepening divides on the future of the U.S. biofuels program in solicited comments from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over a plan sought by some refiners to shift the program’s financial burden to retailers and blenders. All sides are pushing hard, seizing the opportunity to test President Donald Trump’s commitment to the program. Trump has supported the program, but top figures in his administration have criticized it. Refiners, integrated oil companies, fuel retailers and biofuels manufacturers flooded the EPA with comments on its plan to deny requests from refiners to tweak the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) by pushing the compliance burden further downstream. Within the oil industry, the fight pits Valero Energy Corp and billionaire Carl Icahn against refiners like Marathon Petroleum Corp. Biofuels advocates are worried about losing progress into the U.S. fuel stream since lawmakers established the RFS program in 2005 under then […]

Battery Power Boost to Renewables

22 Feb 2017   Solar, Wind

It is the holy grail of the renewable energy sector – a cheap and efficient battery system that can store energy generated by renewables such as wind and solar. These days there are few who doubt the potential of renewables, except those diehards on the extreme of the fossil fuel industry. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) , the main body monitoring developments in the global energy sector, renewables are surging ahead. Investment in renewables In 2015, investments in oil and gas – fossil fuels that, along with coal, are the main drivers of global warming – declined by 25% , while energy produced from renewables rose by 30%. Renewables are becoming increasingly competitive with fossil fuels in […]

Tidal Lagoon Energy in Wales

17 Feb 2017   Tidal, United Kingdom

The report of an independent review of UK tidal lagoon energy was published on 12 January 2017 by a former UK energy Minister Charles Hendry. The report praises the proposed ‘pathfinder’ tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay as a ‘no-regrets option’, and sets out a supportive case for developing the sector. The Hendry Review was commissioned in February 2016 by UK Government to assess the strategic case for tidal lagoon energy as a new industry in the UK. This followed a successful planning proposal by Tidal Lagoon Power (TLP) to develop the world’s first tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay, as well as a subsequent programme for a ‘fleet’ of five larger projects, including three in Welsh waters (Cardiff, Newport and Colwyn Bay). Despite the Swansea Bay project appearing in the 2015 UK Conservative Party manifesto and receiving development consent in June 2015, uncertainties around cost and subsidy subsequently prompted the […]

California demand for wind power energizes transmission firms

16 Feb 2017   Wind

A firm controlled by Philip Anschutz, the billionaire entertainment and pro sports magnate, will soon build the largest wind farm in the United States to serve utilities in California, where officials have set ambitious green power goals. The $5 billion project, however, will be constructed 700 miles away in Wyoming, a state better known for coal mines and oil fields. The vast distance between the two states provides a different Anschutz-owned firm with another big opportunity: a $3 billion project building transmission lines to deliver the power – one of a dozen similar power-line projects by other companies across the West. (Map: How wind power will get from Wyoming to California click here ) In all, about 5,700 miles of transmission lines are in development with the goal of delivering renewable energy to California from other states, according to the Western Interstate Energy Board. Such investments are an outgrowth […]

Solar Installations Surge 95% In 2016

16 Feb 2017   Solar

The solar industry posted its best year on record in 2016, obliterating previous records by installing a smashing 14.6 gigawatts of new solar in the U.S. That is a 95 percent increase from the 7.4 GW installed in 2015, which happened to be the previous record. It was the best year in the history of the U.S. solar business, according to new data from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). Even more impressive is the fact that with a cumulative installed capacity at just over 40 GW, roughly one third of all solar capacity ever installed was installed in 2016. Of course, solar has been growing from a small base, and it still represents around 1 percent of total electricity generation. But what matters going forward is growth, and the 2016 figures point to a solid trend that suggests solar will dominate the future. In 2016, […]

OPEC’s Top Producer Is Turning to Wind and Solar Power

14 Feb 2017   Saudi Arabia, Solar, Wind

The nation most identified with its massive oil reserves is turning to wind and solar to generate power at home and help extend the life of its crucial crude franchise. Starting this year, Saudi Arabia plans to develop almost 10 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2023, starting with wind and solar plants in its vast northwestern desert. The effort could replace the equivalent of 80,000 barrels of oil a day now burned for power. Add in natural gas projects set to start later this decade, and the Saudis could quadruple that number, according to Wood MacKenzie Ltd. That could supplant all the crude burned in the kingdom during its winter months. The effort goes hand-in-hand with a drive by the royal family to broaden the economy following two years of budget deficits tied to low oil prices. More industry, though, means more energy, with the amount of power used […]

U.S. D.O.E. Finds Renewables Employed More Americans Than Oil and in Gas in 2016

14 Feb 2017   Renewables

A new report by the United States Department of Energy concludes that American renewable energy firms are creating more jobs than their fossil fuel counterparts. Solar and wind energy companies generated more jobs than oil, coal and natural gas combined, even though the green companies still account for a small portion of total domestic power production. The findings were part of the U.S. Energy and Employment report released last month and support claims by climate activists that supporting renewables can rejuvenate the economy while revitalizing the planet. The entire supply chain of the solar and wind industries – including those who manufacture, install and run turbines and panels – now employs 476,000 workers, while fossil fuel companies employ 187,117 people. Solar energy provides for 1.3 percent of American energy needs and creates twice as many jobs as the coal industry – which President Donald Trump has vowed to bring […]

British grid drawing power from new offshore wind farm

10 Feb 2017   Wind

While only a fraction of the total capacity is realized, Norwegian energy company Statoil said the British grid is getting power from its latest wind farm. Statoil announced its first wind turbine from the Dudgeon facility off the British coast was now providing electricity to the nation’s grid. Up to 6,000 homes are now getting power from offshore wind. Once in full operation later this year, the entire Dudgeon wind farm will have the capacity to provide power for more than 400,000 average households. “This is a significant milestone for one of the largest offshore wind farms in Europe,” Margareth Ovrum, Statoil’s executive vice president for technology, said in a statement . The first wind turbine at Dudgeon was installed in January. In total, 67 […]

Cheaper renewables to halt coal and oil demand growth from 2020: research

The falling cost of electric vehicle and solar technology will halt demand growth for oil and coal from 2020, according to research published on Thursday, posing a threat to fossil fuel companies unprepared for the transition. The Grantham Institute at Imperial College London and independent think tank Carbon Tracker Initiative analyzed cost forecasts for electric vehicle (EV) and solar photovoltaic (PV) technology, government policies and the impact on road transport and power markets, which account for half of global fossil fuel consumption. “Fossil fuels may lose 10 percent of market share to PV and EVs within a single decade. This may not sound much but it can be the beginning of the end once demand starts to decline,” Carbon Tracker said in a statement. A 10 percent […]

Offshore Wind Moves Into Energy’s Mainstream

7 Feb 2017   Wind

When engineers faced resistance from residents in Denmark over plans to build wind turbines on the Nordic country’s flat farmland, they found a better locale: the sea. The offshore wind farm, the world’s first, had just 11 turbines and could power about 3,000 homes. That project now looks like a minnow compared with the whales that sprawl for miles across the seas of Northern Europe. Off this venerable British port city, a Danish company, Dong Energy, is installing 32 turbines that stretch 600 feet high. Each turbine produces more power than that first facility. It is precisely the size, both of the projects and the profits they can bring, that has grabbed the attention of financial institutions, money managers and private equity funds, like the investment bank Goldman Sachs, as well as wealthy individuals like the owner of the Danish toymaker Lego. As the technology has […]

An unconventional approach to fusion

3 Feb 2017   Nuclear, Renewables

There’s no easy road to fusion. Whether one travels the large route forged by six decades of research on hundreds of machines, or whether one tries to open a way through uncharted and exotic territory, difficulties abound and challenges loom large. General Fusion’s approach is quite exotic: no vacuum vessel in their planned fusion machine but a spherical tank filled with a liquid lead-lithium mixture spun into a vortex; no giant superconducting magnet system to confine the plasma but an array of pistons to compress it by way of a powerful shock wave… Over the past few years, several private sector startups have raised enough capital to launch their scientists and engineers into the race to harness fusion power. Tri Alpha Energy and Helion Energy in the US; Tokamak Energy and First Light Fusion in the UK; General Fusion in Canada and scores of others … all claim they […]

Why 100% Renewable Energy Is Just A Dream

1 Feb 2017   Renewables

The “Wind and Solar Will Save Us” story is based on a long list of misunderstandings and apples to oranges comparisons. Somehow, people seem to believe that our economy of 7.5 billion people can get along with a very short list of energy supplies. This short list will not include fossil fuels. Some would exclude nuclear, as well. Without these energy types, we find ourselves with a short list of types of energy — what BP calls Hydroelectric, Geobiomass (geothermal, wood, wood waste, and other miscellaneous types; also liquid fuels from plants), Wind, and Solar. Unfortunately, a transition to such a short list of fuels can’t really work. These are a few of the problems we encounter: [1] Wind and solar are making extremely slow progress in helping the world move away from fossil fuel dependence. In 2015, fossil fuels accounted for 86% of the world’s energy consumption, and […]

Saudi Aramco Said to Weigh Up to $5 Billion Renewable Deals

Saudi Aramco , the world’s largest oil company, is considering as much as $5 billion of investments in renewable energy firms as part of plans to diversify from crude production, according to people with knowledge of the matter. Banks including HSBC Holdings Plc , JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Credit Suisse Group AG have been invited to pitch for a role helping Aramco identify potential acquisition targets and advising on deals, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. The energy company is seeking to bring foreign expertise in renewable energy into the kingdom, the people said, adding that first investments under the plan could occur this year. Saudi Arabia is planning to produce 10 gigawatts of power from renewable energy sources including solar, wind and nuclear by 2023 and transform Aramco into a diversified energy company. The kingdom also plans to develop a […]

Solar Could Be A Cheaper Power Source Than Coal Within A Decade

20 Jan 2017   Solar

Coal already faces tremendous competition in the U.S. from low cost natural gas, and pressure from environmentalists concerned about its pollution. The last thing the coal industry needs are more problems. But when it rains it pours… or in this case when it’s sunny the solar industry looks to rain on coal. Coal cost an average of roughly $0.06 per kWh globally which makes it the cheapest power source on average around the world. (Natural gas is much more expensive outside the U.S.) Solar is looking to usurp the title of cheapest power source though. In 2016, countries from Chile to the United Arab Emirates broke records with deals to generate electricity from sunshine for less than 3 cents a kilowatt-hour, half the average global cost of coal power. This year Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Mexico are poised to hold auctions and tenders which could see solar generation prices […]

Obama puts offshore North Carolina on wind energy map

19 Jan 2017   Wind

Obama administration sets March date for wind energy development lease for waters off the coast of North Carolina. File Photo by Teun van den Dries/Shutterstock Thousands of acres offshore North Carolina are set aside for potential wind energy in one of the final moves under the Obama presidency, the government said. “This is a significant milestone for North Carolina and our country as we continue to make progress on diversifying our nation’s energy portfolio,” Walter Cruickshank, the acting director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, said in a statement. Acting under a climate action plan adopted by President Barack Obama , the BOEM said it was setting aside 122,405 acres offshore North Carolina for a March 16 lease for wind energy developers. The lease area in question begins about 24 nautical miles off the coast of Kitty Hawk, N.C. The offshore wind energy industry is in its infancy […]

Oil majors, car makers to push hydrogen technology to help cut emissions

18 Jan 2017   Renewables

The heads of some of the world’s biggest oil firms and automakers agreed on Tuesday to push for broader global use and bigger investments in using hydrogen to help reduce emissions and arrest global warming. The oil firms’ and car makers’ chiefs said the plan was part of global efforts to keep global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius, an ambitious goal agreed by 195 countries in Paris in 2015. “In this context, we are convinced that the unique contribution that hydrogen solutions offer needs to be strongly reaffirmed now,” the participants, including the chiefs of oil firms Total ( TOTF.PA ) and Royal Dutch Shell ( RDSa.L ), Patrick Pouyanne and Ben van Beurden, said in a statement. The declaration was also signed […]

It Can Power a Small Nation. But This Wind Farm in China Is Mostly Idle.

16 Jan 2017   China, Wind

On the edge of the Gobi Desert, the Jiuquan Wind Power Base stands as a symbol of China ’s quest to dominate the world’s renewable energy market. With more than 7,000 turbines arranged in rows that stretch along the sandy horizon, it is one of the world’s largest wind farms , capable of generating enough electricity to power a small country. But these days, the windmills loom like scarecrows, idle and inert. The wind howls outside, but many turbines in Jiuquan, a city of vast deserts and farms in the northwest province of Gansu, have been shut off because of weak demand. Workers while away the hours calculating how much power the turbines could have generated if there were more buyers, and wondering if and when they will ever make a profit.

What Is Holding Renewable Energy Back?

16 Jan 2017   Renewables

Bloomberg is now reporting that solar energy is cheaper than coal, and could become the lowest form of energy within a decade. Economies of scale are causing solar to drop from an average of $1.14 a watt all the way to 0.73 cents per watt by 2025 . Several agencies, from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab to the International Energy Agency, all confirm this rapid decline in costs. Capacity for solar is doubling, causing the supply chain to be lower for bank loan premiums and manufacturing capacity in the solar energy space. Now with Tesla’s gigafactory opening the cost of batteries is also expected to drop for electric vehicles and home battery systems. China also plans to invest over $360 billion on renewable energy and fuels to help decrease the smog issues the country is currently experiencing. Unsafe, coal-fired power plants are currently suffocating the […]

Despite the Hype, Batteries Aren’t the Cheapest Way to Store Energy on the Grid

14 Jan 2017   Renewables

There are many different kinds of energy storage technologies, each with its own advantages and drawbacks. Lithium ion batteries are the most popular form of storage at the moment, but according to Roger Dargaville, Deputy Director of the Melbourne Energy Institute, they are not always the cheapest option. Nevertheless, lithium ion will probably be the dominant option, not because of economics, but because of human behavior. Courtesy of The Conversation . Storage is the word of the moment in the energy industry. Since Tesla unveiled its Powerwall, politicians, commentators and industry have hyped storage – and particularly batteries – as the solution for getting more renewable energy into electricity grids and reducing our reliance on fossil fuels. The concept of storage is simple. A storage system takes power off the grid or from a local generation source and puts it back onto the grid or uses it locally later. […]

Renewable generation capacity expected to account for most 2016 capacity additions

11 Jan 2017   Renewables

The last two months of 2016 are based on planned reported additions and are subject to change. Once final data are in, EIA expects 24 gigawatts (GW) of new generating capacity to be added to the power grid during 2016. For the third consecutive year, more than half of these additions are renewable technologies, especially wind and solar. Of the 2016 renewable additions, nearly 60% were scheduled to come online during the fourth quarter. Renewable capacity additions are often highest in the final months of the year, in part, because of timing qualifications for federal, state, or local tax incentives. Estimated fourth-quarter capacity additions for 2016 are based on planned additions reported to EIA and are subject to change based on actual project schedules. Monthly U.S. renewable electricity generation peaked in March as high precipitation and melting snowpack led to […]

China Investing Billions in Renewable Energy

6 Jan 2017   China, Renewables

China intends to spend more than $360 billion through 2020 on renewable power sources like solar and wind, the government’s energy agency said on Thursday . The country’s National Energy Administration laid out a plan to dominate one of the world’s fastest-growing industries, just at a time when the United States is set to take the opposite tack as Donald J. Trump , a climate-change doubter, prepares to assume the presidency. The agency said in a statement that China would create more than 13 million jobs in the renewable energy sector by 2020, curb the growth of greenhouse gasses that contribute to global warming and reduce the amount of soot that in recent days has blanketed Beijing and other Chinese cities in a noxious cloud of smog . China surpassed the United States a decade ago as the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gasses, and now discharges about twice […]

Solar Could Beat Coal to Become the Cheapest Power on Earth

4 Jan 2017   Solar

Solar Could Beat Coal to Become the Cheapest Power on Earth Solar power is now cheaper than coal in some parts of the world. In less than a decade, it’s likely to be the lowest-cost option almost everywhere. In 2016, countries from Chile to the United Arab Emirates broke records with deals to generate electricity from sunshine for less than 3 cents a kilowatt-hour, half the average global cost of coal power. Now, Saudi Arabia , Jordan and Mexico are planning auctions and tenders for this year, aiming to drop prices even further. Taking advantage: Companies such as Italy’s Enel SpA and Dublin’s Mainstream Renewable Power , who gained experienced in Europe and now seek new markets abroad as subsidies dry up at home. Since 2009, solar prices are down 62 percent, with every part of the supply chain trimming costs. That’s help cut risk premiums on bank loans, […]

Solar power at 1¢/kWh by 2025 – “The promise of quasi-infinite and free energy is here”

29 Dec 2016   Solar

Thierry Lepercq, head of research, technology and innovation at the French energy company Engie SA, said in an interview at Bloomberg that he sees a potential for the cost of solar electricity to fall below $10-megawatt hour (1¢/kWh) in the sunniest climates by 2025. Lepercq believes “solar, battery storage, electrical and hydrogen vehicles, and connected devices are in a ‘J’ curve (of upward growth potential).” One consequence of this new energy economy is that, “the price (of oil) could drop to $10 if markets anticipate a significant fall in demand.” “The promise of quasi-infinite and free energy is here.” The key argument being pushed regarding renewables by Lepercq is price – nothing to do with environmental concerns at all. From a business perspective, Engie is hoping to grow into the microgrid market in the coming years – as can be noted by the combination of technologies and studies from […]

Oil Producers Turn to Wind Power

27 Dec 2016   Wind

The Netherlands wants to build the world’s largest offshore wind project, and an unlikely company is helping: Royal Dutch Shell PLC. The oil-and-gas giant is facing shareholder pressure to develop its renewable business. Add in falling construction costs for such projects, and Shell has decided to join a handful of other oil companies aiming to leverage their experience drilling under punishing conditions at sea. Norway’s Statoil ASA is already building its third offshore wind farm, in the Baltic Sea, and is developing the world’s first floating wind farm off the east coast of Scotland. Denmark’s state-owned Dong Energy AS—once a fossil-fuel champion—is now the biggest player in the offshore wind market. A Shell-led consortium won a bid this month to build and operate a portion of the Netherlands’ giant Borssele wind project in the North Sea. Once complete, the Shell-built section will generate enough power for roughly a million […]

On the road to solar fuels and chemicals

27 Dec 2016   Solar

In a new paper in the journal Nature Materials (in an edition focused on materials for sustainable energy), a team from Stanford University and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory has reviewed milestones in the progress of solid-state photoelectrocatalytic technologies toward delivering solar fuels and chemistry. Noting the “ important advances ” in solar fuels research, the review team also noted that the largest scientific and technical milestones are still ahead. Following their review, they listed some of the scientific challenges they see as the most important for the coming years. As CO 2 levels in the atmosphere increase and it becomes clear that this has substantial consequences for our climate, developing alternatives to fossil fuels is more urgent than ever. Fuels are unrivaled for energy storage and we have an enormous infrastructure built to handle fuels for transportation and heating. In addition, the chemical industry and all the products and […]

2016 was the year solar panels finally became cheaper than fossil fuels. Just wait for 2017

27 Dec 2016   Solar

The renewable energy future will arrive when installing a new solar panels is cheaper than a comparable investment in coal, natural gas or other options. If you ask the World Economic Forum (WEF), the day has arrived. Solar and wind is now the same price or cheaper than fossil fuels in more than 30 countries, the WEF reported in December (pdf). As prices for solar and wind power continue their precipitous fall, two-thirds of all nations will reach the point known as “grid parity” within a few years, even without subsidies. “Renewable energy has reached a tipping point,” Michael Drexler, who leads infrastructure and development investing at the WEF, said in a statement. “It is not only a commercially viable option, but an outright compelling investment opportunity with long-term, stable, inflation-protected returns.” Those numbers are already translating into vast new acres of silicon and glass. In 2016, utilities added […]

Saudi Use Of Solar Could Boost Its Oil Exports

23 Dec 2016   Saudi Arabia, Solar

Saudi Arabia will turn to solar for electricity, which could allow it to export a lot more oil. The connection between solar and oil is not an obvious one since they typically do not compete against each other – oil is used to refine fuels for transportation while solar is used to generate electricity. Solar traditionally competes with natural gas, coal and nuclear power. However, that is not the case in Saudi Arabia, where oil is still burned for electricity, an increasingly uncommon practice throughout the world. In fact, Saudi Arabia is the largest consumer of oil for electricity, a weakness that Saudi officials believe they can no longer afford. Saudi Arabia burns through roughly 900,000 barrels per day during the summer months, according to the IEA, when Saudi citizens crank up the AC to provide some relief during the sweltering heat. That consumption is equivalent to roughly $16 […]

EROEI estimates show PV to be a fully mature technology

23 Dec 2016   Solar

“The EROEI of Photo-Voltaics can be whatever you like these days” a friend of mine said once after attending a bio-physical economics conference. It epitomises a growing problem in this field, while the broad concept of net energy or Energy Return on Energy Invested (EROEI) is broadly accepted there is no unified methodology for its calculation. Different researchers apply different methods producing markedly different results. Photo-Voltaics (PV) is an energy source where this problem has been more acute. Equipment and installation prices collapsed four or five fold since 2010, but published EROEI studies have not converged; in fact it appears they dispersed even further. Fortunately, another friend, Rembrandt Koppelaar, has recently finished a study assessing these assorted EROEI estimates, entitled Solar-PV energy payback and net energy: Meta-assessment of study quality, reproducibility, and results harmonization . As it turns out, low EROEI figures are largely an artefact of outdated data […]

Saudis Accelerating Sunward Tilt in Charge for Oil Revenue

22 Dec 2016   Saudi Arabia, Solar

Saudi Arabia’s long-awaited drive to free up more oil revenue by shifting to solar power generation is expected to pick up speed next quarter, according to local developers eyeing contracts. “I’m fully expecting within the first quarter 500 megawatts to come out in tenders and then it’ll ramp up,” said Paddy Padmanathan, the chief executive officer of Acwa Power International in Riyadh. “That will be a game changer for the region.” The world’s biggest crude exporter also burns more oil than any other country to generate electricity. According to the most recent International Energy Agency figures, the kingdom consumes at least 900,000 barrels a day at peak periods of the year to keep the lights on — an amount worth over $16 billion a annually based on current oil spot prices. Integrating more solar power onto the Saudi grid could free up more crude for export. Saudi Arabia plans […]

South Korean Scientists Smash Nuclear Fusion Record

Physicists in South Korea managed to keep high-performance plasma stable for 70 seconds this week. This gives the Korean Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research (KSTAR) reactor the record for the longest ever time sustaining such reaction. [Image Source: Michael Maccagnan/Wikipedia ] This superheated plasma holds the key to unlocking nuclear fusion for virtually limitless and reliable energy. The Daejeon-based institute said they used a high-power neutral beam to contain the plasma. “The world record for high-performance plasma for more than a minute demonstrated that the KSTAR is the forefront in steady-state plasma operation technology in a superconducting device,” National Fusion Research Institute said in a statement . “This is a huge step forward for realization of the fusion reactor.” The KSTAR reactor is a tokamak reactor, one in which heated plasma blobs can reach up to 300 million degrees Celsius. Magnetic fields hold these blobs together, fusing hydrogen atoms to […]

EROEI Calculations for Solar PV Are Misleading

22 Dec 2016   Solar

The Energy Returned on Energy Invested (EROEI) concept is very frequently used in energy studies. In fact, many readers seem to think, “Of course, EROEI is what we should be looking at when comparing different types of energy. What else is important?” Unfortunately, the closer to the discussions of researchers a person gets, the more problems a person discovers. People who work with EROEI regularly say, “EROEI is a tool, but it is a blunt tool. An EROEI of 100 is good compared to an EROEI of 10. For small differences, it is not so clear.” Because of the idiosyncrasies of how EROEI works, different researchers using EROEI analyses come to very different conclusions. This issue has recently come up in two different solar PV analyses. One author used EROEI analysis to justify scaling up of solar PV . Another author published an article in Nature Communications that claims, […]

Geothermal On Steroids: Drilling The World’s Hottest Hole

21 Dec 2016   Geothermal, Iceland

There are few places on earth as geothermal-friendly as the island nation of Iceland, with 25 percent of its total electricity production coming from geothermal facilities. So it makes sense that Iceland is now the stage for a joint attempt by Statoil and The Iceland Deep Drilling Project to drill the world’s deepest geothermal borehole. The drilling, which began in August, has already reached depths of 4,500 meters, with a stated aim of hitting 5 kilometers before the end of the year. At that depth, the extreme pressure and heat is expected to create ‘supercritical steam’, a substance that is neither liquid nor gas and holds the potential to create 10 times the energy of a conventional geothermal well. But drilling what is being dubbed “the world’s hottest hole” does not come without risks. A similar attempt in 2009 ended in disaster, with the drilling team hitting magma at […]

U.S. wind power enjoys a rebirth as solar’s obstacles mount

16 Dec 2016   Solar, Wind

A year after Congress extended generous tax credits for renewable energy projects, the U.S. wind industry is thriving. Solar power companies, meanwhile, are hunkering down for a rough 2017. The tax credit renewal has boosted the long-term outlooks for both industries. But in the short term, the subsidies are far more attractive for wind power, which has spurred utilities to launch wind projects while they scale back or delay solar installations. Advances in wind turbine technology are also opening up new locations for development and driving a wave of spending to upgrade existing projects. In the last few weeks, power companies with large renewable holdings – including Southern Co ( SO.N ), NextEra Energy Inc ( […]

U.S. Solar Boom Continues: 1MW Installed Every 32 Minutes

15 Dec 2016   Solar

Renewable energy policy faces a future of uncertainty with a new fossil fuel-friendly administration set to take office, but the U.S. solar industry just marked its best quarter to date. In the third quarter, the U.S. saw 4,143 megawatts of new solar PV installations, blowing past the previous record set in 2015, according to new data from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association. That breaks down to one megawatt installed on average every 32 minutes in the third quarter. “Coming off our largest quarter ever and with an extremely impressive pipeline ahead, it’s safe to say the state of the solar industry here in America is strong,” Tom Kimbis, SEIA’s interim president, said in a statement . “The solar market now enjoys an economically-winning hand that pays off both financially and environmentally, and American taxpayers have noticed. This year has been exceptionally strong because solar developers expected […]

German energy company plants wind farm seed in Texas

9 Dec 2016   Wind

Claiming a leadership position in North America, a German energy company said it’s planning to install a wind farm in the oil-rich state of Texas. German energy company E.ON said it plans to build a 228-megawatt wind farm near the southern Texas coast. The Bruenning Breeze wind farm will be the 22nd wind farm constructed by the German company in the United States. “This decision reflects our strong commitment to further develop renewables in the U.S. market,” Michael Lewis , the head of the renewables division at E.ON, said in a statement. “Projects like Bruenning’s Breeze demonstrate that we are clearly competitive with conventional power and we will continue our goal to further drive down the costs of renewable energy.” The company already entered the construction phase for a wind farm in Illinois before making the Texas announcement. Combined, E.ON has 3 gigawatts […]

Google to purchase only renewable energy for operations in 2017

7 Dec 2016   Renewables

Google plans to buy enough renewable energy next year to match the entire needs of all its data centres and offices around the world, in one of the biggest gestures by a private company to combat climate change.  The internet company said the commitment would confirm it as “the largest corporate renewable energy buyer on the planet” and mark a breakthrough in the mainstream use of solar and wind power — though limitations on delivering the electricity to where it is needed mean the company still will not be able to run all its facilities directly off renewable power.

Google’s promise is the most dramatic yet from a tech company, as the industry races to mitigate the impact of its power-hungry data centres. The company’s own power use has soared in recent years: it said it now has 2,600 megawatts of renewable electricity generating capacity under contract, 10 times the amount of power it said it needed in 2010 to power its data centres, its biggest consumer of electricity.  In 2015, the company used 5.6 terawatt hours of energy — enough, by its own calculations, to power the entire city of San Francisco for the year.

Federal leasing for offshore wind grows as first U.S. offshore wind farm comes online

3 Dec 2016   Wind

The first commercial U.S. offshore wind farm, Block Island, is scheduled to come online in late 2016 . Located three miles off the southeastern coast of Rhode Island, Block Island consists of five wind turbines that will produce 30 megawatts (MW) of electricity. The electricity will be used on Block Island, where electricity is currently supplied by diesel-powered generators. The high cost of current electricity sources on Block Island helps to reduce the economic hurdles typically associated with power from offshore wind. The developer, Deepwater Wind, began construction on the project in July 2015 and holds two additional leases off the coasts of Rhode Island and of Massachusetts for future developments. Although the Block Island Wind Farm was constructed in state waters, these additional leases are farther from shore in […]

Trump faces dilemma as U.S. oil reels from record biofuels targets

29 Nov 2016   Biofuels

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump gestures from the front door at the main clubhouse at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S., November 20, 2016. The Obama administration signed its final plan for renewable fuel use in the United States last week, leaving an oil industry reeling from the most aggressive biofuel targets yet as President-elect Donald Trump takes over. The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program, signed into law by President George W. Bush, is one of the country’s most controversial energy policies. It requires energy firms to blend ethanol and biodiesel into gasoline and diesel. The policy was designed to cut greenhouse gas emissions, reduce U.S. reliance on oil imports and boost rural economies that provide the crops for biofuels. It has pitted two of Trump’s support bases against each other: Big Oil and Big Corn. The farming sector has lobbied hard for the maximum biofuel volumes […]

Three turbine manufacturers provide more than 75% of U.S. wind capacity

29 Nov 2016   Wind

EIA recently started collecting data on wind turbine manufacturers, turbine models, and other wind plant attributes in the Annual Electric Generator Report . As of the end of 2015, just three manufacturers— General Electric (GE), Vestas, and Siemens—accounted for 55 gigawatts (GW), or 76%, of installed wind generating capacity in the United States. Of the 8.2 GW of total wind capacity installed in 2015, these three companies’ combined share is even greater, representing more than 92% of new capacity in 2015. Two other companies, Gamesa and Mitsubishi, also accounted for significant shares (6% and 5%, respectively) of U.S. wind turbine capacity that was operating at the end of 2015. However, these two companies did not have a significant amount of new capacity installed in the United States in 2015. After GE, […]

Does A Renewables Future Dim Under Trump?

29 Nov 2016   Renewables

With the world still up in arms over Donald Trump winning the United States election, more than ever, it’s time to understand where are the next, great energy investments under an entirely different energy philosophy. US Presidents make a difference, and with a stroke of a pen, President-elect Trump could usher in a new era of for fossil fuels while making it more difficult for renewable energy to thrive. Forecasting what Trump will and won’t do is going to make energy investing tougher than ever. One day he’s against climate change, the next he isn’t. The same goes for his views on the Paris Climate agreement . The policies that he has committed to however, will certainly hinder or grow energy investments in the coming years. EPA restrictions on coal will be rolled back and could even be sacked altogether, along with the emission-restrictive Clean Power Plan. It is […]