We hear a lot about grid parity, don’t we? That’s the point at which the cost of energy generated by solar, wind, and other renewables is the same as that generated from conventional sources. The author of this article on Sharp Electronics new 43.5%-efficient solar cell writes: “Sharp shattered the efficiency record with its concentrator triple-junction compound solar cell,
On January 24, the California Public Utitlies Commission will vote on an important precedent for using renewables to enhance grid reliability.
Grid reliability requires that there be a certain amount of local generation–known in wonkspeak as ‘local capacity requirements’, or LCR.
In a recently released report, the Annual Energy Outlook 2013 (AEO2013), the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) projected the US energy markets through 2040. Their projections only take into account the effects of policies that have already been implemented in law or final regulations. The EIA found that the growth in energy production has
There is more urgency to combat climate change than before, but how are the big economies – China, the US, India – getting on together? Each country has its own agenda and is experiencing its own growing pains of one kind or another.
How does a country emit such massive quantities of carbon in the first place?
Here’s an article that points to a controversy about smart grid, i.e., about the concept of two-way communication between the electric generation plant and the customer, and the application of intelligence to flow of information. Apparently, someone is alleging that the money spent in the arena has been misspent, that smart grid won’t improve grid reliability, etc.
In October 2011, the Japanese Cabinet—still reeling from the Fukushima reactor meltdown earlier that year—approved an energy white paper calling for reduced reliance on nuclear power and increased emphasis on renewables.
A little over a year after the approval of that policy, I wondered to myself if Japan was sticking to its goals, or if—with the immediate shock of the Fukushima disaster receding—they had “fallen off the wagon”?
Far from losing steam, the desire to create a more sustainable way of life in Japan enjoys considerable momentum. And in large part, their success is due to the presence of both a carrot and a stick.
The carrot takes the form of in incentives provided by the Japanese government. Industry Minister Yukio Edano approved Japan’s feed-in tariffs for renewable energy—including solar, wind, and geothermal—in June 2012.
The tariffs are among the highest in the world. It’s ¥42 (US$0.525) per kWh for 10 years for systems less than 10 kW; and slightly less—¥40 (US$0.50)—for larger systems, but for 20 years. The rate will be reviewed annually for subsequently connected systems.
Japan is currently the world leader in cleantech patents, with companies like Sky Electric and Futaba Industry making exciting developments in wind turbines and solar panels, respectively. Sky Electric creates small-scale micro-generators that enable high output even with a gentle breeze, while Futaba Industry creates metal frames that can raise and slant large solar panels in snowy areas to maximize their solar efficiency.
If feed-in tariffs provide “the carrot,” “the stick” is provided by the general populace, who are intent on holding politicians’ feet to the fire.
In June 2012, more than 1000 Fukushima citizens filed a formal complaint to have criminal charges filed against the nuclear reactor officials for failing to prepare for the disaster and delaying the release of data on the spread of radiation. In July 2012, the country launched its first Green Party, in response to the desire to have a party that that puts nuclear abolition and other green policies at the top of its agenda.
There’s even a popular band called Ski which is standing up to nuclear power with their song “Free From Nuclear Power Plant,” which is currently a big hit in Japan. Instead of singing about relationships, or having fun, or other typical pop song subjects, these girls are singing about meltdowns and radiation exposure. Not your average Top 40 sing-along.
The lesson for other countries is that takes a combination of factors—the involvement of both the government and the general citizenry; the presence of both the carrot and the stick—to make sustainability a way of life rather than a fleeting fad. Anything less, and you risk falling off the wagon.
Ratepayers should also be pleased. This contract adds 2.9% renewables to LADWPs mix, and at a price of 9.1 cents/kWh. Read the details, here (pdf).
Here is some really good news coming from the European Union. From the EU environmental agency – EEA, located in Copenhagen – greenhouse gases emissions from the 15 first Member States decreased by 3.5 % between 2010 and 2011. The EU-15 emissions are now 14.1 % below the base-year level under the Kyoto Protocol.
Energy books tend to be either jargon-filled tomes or hand-wringing, end-of-the-world, please-just-shoot-me-now reprimands. So it was a relief to see that Brian Keane avoids both of these worn-out roads in his new book, “Green is Good: Save Money, Make Money, and Help Your Community Profit from Clean Energy.”
The newfound abundance of natural gas carries with it a few main issues, some good, some bad, which I abbreviate as follows:
1) Good news: It holds the potential to lessen the cost and environmental impact of our energy consumption for at least the short term.
2) Bad news: That lowering of costs will make the R&D
While many government officials nervously await the outcome of the November elections and speculate as to its implications for the cleantech sector, one federal department is likely to be relatively unaffected regardless of the outcome: Defense.
According to panelists at the recent “Mission Critical:
I recently wrote a post critical of radical environmentalists who take rigid positions and refuse to make the tough choices that confront us all in the real world. In particular, I stand in disagreement with people’s unwillingness to exile the tortoises from 4613 acres (about five square miles) in the California desert that would have been used for a gigawatt of solar photovoltaics, an almost
Solar panel installations have fallen by almost 90% in the weeks since the government halved cut the subsidy available, according to Department of Energy and Climate Change figures.
The change in financial support for solar power has been highly controversial and has seen the
Germany has installed enough photovoltaics such that coal-fired power plants are beginning to become unprofitable. This is driven by a combination factors, e.g., that coal isn’t asked to provide power at the peak of the day, when both the sun and the price of electricity are at their zenith. Of course, most of us cheer when coal runs into trouble, but issues like this