Iceland is drilling a giant hole, not for oil, but for geothermal energy

Posted on February 3rd, 2017 in environment by Spencer R.



Drill, baby, drill. But in this case, not for oil — rather, the nation of Iceland is digging a giant hole into a volcano in the name of renewable energy. By boring the world’s deepest geothermal hole in the Reykjanes peninsula (it goes down 3.1 miles), scientists say they’ll be able to take advantage of the extreme pressure and heat to tap into an impressive 30 to 50 megawatts of electricity from a single geothermal well.

Iceland is already one of the world’s greatest users and suppliers of geothermal energy, producing around 26 percent of its electricity from geothermal sources. However, most of the country’s wells pale in comparison to this latest gargantuan effort. While a typical geothermal well extends just 1.5 miles into the ground, this new one is twice as deep, and as a result could yield up to 10 times more power.

By the time the drilling team gets to around 3 miles beneath Earth’s crust, scientists expect to find a mixture of molten rock and water, but given the huge amount of heat and pressure present, the water will become what is called “supercritical steam.” Neither a liquid nor a gas, this supercritical steam contains far more potential energy than either of those states of matter, and scientists say it holds the key to more electricity.


“We hope that this will open new doors for the geothermal industry globally to step into an era of more production,” said Asgeir Margeirsson, CEO of the Iceland Deep Drilling Project (IDDP), the collaboration among scientists, industry, and the Icelandic government responsible for the Reykjanes project.

He added, “If this works, in the future we would need to drill fewer wells to produce the same amount of energy, meaning we would touch less surface, which means less environmental impact and hopefully lower costs.”

This is not the first time such an ambitious project has been attempted. Six years ago, a similar effort was taken, but it ended disastrously when the drilling team ran into hot magma at 1.3 miles beneath the surface, destroying the entire drill string. But already, the current team has gone further without significant incident (knock on wood).



Utah Clean Energy, Salt Lake City unveil 10-year solar deployment plan

Posted on February 3rd, 2017 in solar by Spencer R.



 Utah's breakneck pace of solar energy adoption over the past decade needs to continue on an accelerated course, advocates say, unveiling a plan Thursday that recommends the removal of existing roadblocks.

The Wasatch Solar Team, led by the advocacy organization Utah Clean Energy and Salt Lake City, developed "A Bright Future: A 10 Year Solar Deployment Plan for Utah," and introduced it at a media event at the state Capitol.


Advocates, industry and others collaborated to produce the plan, which outlines four key areas of continuing challenges and identifies ways to reduce their impact.

"This is the future we really want to provide to all Utahns," said Vicki Bennett, director of sustainability for Salt Lake City.

In 2006, there were only 76 rooftop solar installations in the state, according to the Wasatch Solar Team. By 2016, several thousand households were producing an estimated 140 megawatts of solar energy.

For that growth to continue, the plan recommends expanding access to solar energy by removing unnecessary restrictions on rooftop solar, reducing the shortage of available financing options, tackling the lack of suitable roof space and opening up avenues to people on fixed incomes.

The state would also be well-served if it implemented a mechanism to streamline the permitting process, with the report noting that depending on where one lives, "obtaining that permit can be a walk in the park or a tangle of red tape."

The existence of unpredictable and inconsistent rules often lead to added costs and prolonged wait time for customers, the report adds, pointing out that in some extreme cases, installers have been deterred from working in certain communities.

Salt Lake City and Utah Clean Energy teamed up to develop the Solar Permitting Toolbox more than three years ago to help local governments streamline the process.

Sarah Wright, executive director of Utah Clean Energy, said a no-nonsense approach that incorporates best practices can eliminate a significant hurdle to solar energy adoption.

Wright added that the state needs to work to reduce costs associated with the interconnection process, which was upgraded with new standards in 2010.

Since that time, national guidelines for the interconnection of rooftop solar have been modified to reflect the growing interest in renewable energy, the report notes.

One of the most complicated and likely the most controversial challenges the report outlines lies at the heart of a recommendation to overhaul the utility business model to align it with the 21st century embrace of renewable energy and energy efficiency.

While renewable energy and improved energy efficiency may save public utilities and customers the expense of costly capital investments — such as a new power plant — the power provider loses out of profits realized from new electricity sales.

Ben Hart, managing director of the Governor's Office of Economic Development, said tapping into Utah's energy resources and ensuring associated industries grow and thrive is a cornerstone of his office's focus.

With Utah's remarkable growth in solar, Hart said the state needs to do what it can to assure continued success.

In 2015, for example, Utah was fifth in the nation for new solar installations and was 11th for cumulative solar capacity per capita.


Each year, he added, Utah's solar market doubles.


Board of Ed accepts bid for more solar panels

Posted on February 3rd, 2017 in solar by Spencer R.



he Board of Education voted unanimously last week to accept a bid for additional solar panels to be installed at Coventry High School and Capt. Nathan Hale Middle School that, potentially, could save taxpayers some $1.26 million over 20 years.

The new solar panels would supplement energy from solar panels that were installed two years ago at all the schools and the schools’ warehouse.

Tim Sadler, a representative of Stratford-based ENCON Heating and Air Conditioning, presented two bids to the board for consideration. The bids were offered to Eversource for Zero Emissions Renewable Energy Credits.

Robert Carroll, the school system’s director of finance and operations said, “What’s going to go up there will produce significantly more than the panels that are there now.”

The current electricity rate of 10.5 cents per kilowatt hour, or kWh, is projected to increase by 3 percent annually, regardless of which bid was accepted.

The bid the school board rejected was for $140 at a solar energy rate of 9.9 cents per kWh. According to ENCON’s projections, that would’ve provided savings of $5,272 the first year, and $693,635 over 20 years.

The bid that was accepted at $200 was for a solar energy rate of 6.5 cents per kWh. The savings at this rate would be over $35,000 for the first year and an estimated $1.26 million over 20 years.

Sadler said there was a greater savings with the $200 bid.

Board member Mary Kortmann agreed.

“The $140 one is not really worth it,” she said. “It seemed like a lot of panels to save only $5,000. I think we should go for broke.”

Sadler said Wednesday that a higher bid results in a lower rate for solar cost to the school.

The owner of the solar system is CT Green Bank and the panels would be financed through them, Sadler said.

He said that electricity rates in Connecticut have increased on average of close to four percent and solar energy would alleviate the burden of that increase.

Sadler said the solar panels would increase the percentage of solar energy usage at the middle school up to about 85 percent and at the high school to about 65 percent.

The proposal still needs to be accepted by Eversource.

Sadler said it would be submitted this spring and take about 30 days to hear back.


“If we don’t win in the first round, sometimes projects drop out” and it could be picked up mid-stream, he said.


Floating solar panel market to be worth $2.7B in 2025

Posted on February 2nd, 2017 in solar by Spencer R.



The global floating solar panels market is expected to grow from $13.8 million in 2015 to $2.7 billion by 2025, according to a new report from Grand View Research.

The technology, which carries photovoltaic solar panels at sea or in landlocked water basins, is expected to see significant growth over the next eight years due to the rising demand for reliable renewable power generation that does not use expensive real estate on terra firma.

"The ability to mitigate land cost is expected to favor demand over the projected period," said the report, titled Floating Solar Panels Market Size & Trend Analysis.

Most of the growth in the global floating solar market -- also known as Floatovoltaics -- will come from the nations deploying it, which include Japan, the UK, China and Brazil.

Japan, in particular, is expected to lead the way for floating solar panels primarily because of the low availability of land coupled with limited natural resources. In 2015, Japan accounted for 75% of the floating solar market revenue. In addition, the industry is expected to grow substantially because of numerous plans sanctioned by the Japanese government.

In addition, the growing need for electricity in the country is expected to push demand for floating solar plants over the next decade.

Currently, there is less than 50MW of floating solar power installed globally, but that could double to 100MW this year, according to Benjamin Attia, a research analyst for Global Solar Markets at GTM Research.

Floating photovoltaics (PV) technology has the advantage of increased albedo (or reflective power from the water's surface) and natural module cooling, which results in higher peak efficiency, Attia said. It also benefits from reduced leasing and permitting costs and non-invasive land use, "which can be a major factor in land-restricted markets like Japan and Taiwan.

"However, concerns over long-term degradation and corrosion, costly corrective maintenance, and specialized mounting structures, pontoons, and anchors are not easily scalable and likely to inflate the project's balance of systems costs," Attia said in an email response to Computerworld. "I do expect floating PV demand to continue to rise, but mainly in specific use-case applications, such as land-restricted markets such as Japan and Taiwan, wastewater treatment plants, hydroelectric dams and pumped storage reservoirs, and perhaps marshland restoration projects, where they can provide protection against evaporation and algal blooms."

Much more promising than the latter, Attia said, would be solar built atop canals, which is becoming increasingly common in Southeast Asia and India.

"They provide many of the same advantages of floating PV projects while avoiding many of the long-term viability risks and cost adders that floating PV projects face," Attia said.

The world's largest floating solar panel farm is currently the Yamakura Dam reservoir in Japan, which was completed in 2016 and has a generating capacity of 13.7MW. That plant is capable of powering more than 5,000 households.

Europe is expected to account for the second-largest market based on the growing number of installations in the UK and France. The UK has the majority of the market share in Europe, with more than 10,000KW installed in 2015.

"Opportunities on inland water will boost the demand for the Europe floating solar panels market during the forecast period. Latin America is expected to witness the highest growth owing to strong pipeline for solar floating plants," a separate report from Global Market Insights said.

Europe’s largest floatovoltaics array is now being built atop the Queen Elizabeth II reservoir as part of Thames Water’s ambitious bid to self-generate a third of its own energy by 2020.

As part of an agreement among Thames Water, Ennoviga Solar and Lightsource Renewable Energy, the floatovoltaics project will include more than 23,000 solar panels atop the reservoir. The floating pontoon of solar panels is expected to cover about 9% of the reservoir.

As floatovoltaics become more popular, market revenue is expected see a 50% combined annual growth rate from 2016 through 2020, according to a GM Insights' report issued in November.

Floatovoltaics technology relies on water surface for panel installation and can be used atop reservoirs, ponds, lakes, canals and other stationary water bodies. Panels are adjusted to the position of sun, which can enhance efficiency and maximize output, according to GM Insights.

"They also help to decrease algae growth in stable water and aid in reducing water evaporation through water bodies," GM Insights said. "As floating solar panels are placed above water it helps by its cooling effect and to maintain steady temperature of silicon panels, to continue output level...."

In addition to government subsidies and tax benefits, rent garnered from floatovoltaics also benefits those who own landlocked waterways, such as reservoirs and lakes.

Not everything, however, is sunny for the emerging market. High installation and maintenance costs could put a damper on growth. In addition, floating panels cannot easily be placed in seas or oceans since waves could affect their positioning, which would affect electricity generation.

Key players in the industry include Kyocera Corp.Trina SolarSharp Corp., and Yingli SolarCiel & Terre is expected to be the largest installer of floating panels across the globe; it accounts for more than half of the overall floating panels installations.

"The rapid depletion of fossil fuel reserves has created a need for the utilization of renewable sources of electricity generation. Solar power is one of the fastest growing renewable energy technology owing to the ease in system installation as well as abundant sunlight across the globe," the Grand View Research report said. "Advantages related to the installation of floating panels as compared to conventional plants are expected to drive growth."


This is what it's like to climb and service wind turbines for a living

Posted on February 1st, 2017 in wind by Spencer R.



One of America's fastest growing professions, wind turbine technician, attracts people with a unique set of skills, as demonstrated by climber and composer Jessica Kilroy.

According to the US Department of Labor, one of the fastest growing professions in the country is one that didn't even exist not that long ago, but employing people who can service and repair wind turbines is an essential part of our clean energy revolution. The Department's Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) states that "Employment of wind turbine service technicians, also known as windtechs, is projected to grow 108 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations."

Granted, the total number of wind technician jobs isn't very high (4,400 in 2014), so the resulting job figures from that growth isn't nearly as huge as that 108% rate might suggest, but the profession is still one key component of a low-cost and low impact energy source.

What is it like to climb hundreds of feet into the air for your job, and do the work while dangling in a harness from a rope on one of those monster wind turbines? The following video from Great Big Story, as part of its Planet Earth series, shares the story of Jessica Kilroy, a climber, composer, conservationist, and wind technician:

"These days, giant wind turbines are supplying more and more of our clean energy. And when they break down, they need to be fixed fast. It's a job only a few people are equipped to handle. Those who are afraid of heights need not apply. Rock climber Jessica Kilroy, for one, loves the challenge of blade repair. And though she makes dangling at dizzying heights look easy, her path to becoming a wind turbine technician has been anything but that." - Great Big Story

Although wind turbine technicians, with their daily high-flying adventures, might have one of the most exciting jobs in clean energy, the booming wind energy sector has created quite a few employment opportunities, with more than 100,000 wind energy jobs currently in the US. That's more than the number of jobs in nuclear, coal, natural gas or hydroelectric power plants, and the wind industry is expected to employ an estimated 380,000 people in the US by 2030.

According to the American Wind Energy Association, the industry is "bringing billions in private investment, and tens of thousands of well-paying jobs, to rural and Rust Belt communities across the United States," which enhances those communities through boosting their economies and providing funds for schools, roads, and other necessities. And it's not just the treehuggers and renewable energy wonks who support wind energy, as even the US Department of Defense sees wind energy as an important element of increasing our energy security and cutting operational costs at its own installations. Wind and solar are seen by analysts as being currently the cheapest available electricity sources, even without subsidies, and could very well prove to be the backbone of the clean electricity grid of the future.


Wind energy continues strong growth in Canada in 2017

Posted on February 1st, 2017 in wind by Spencer R.



Canada's wind energy industry had another year of strong growth in 2016, adding 702 MW of new capacity through the commissioning of 21 projects in Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia. Sixteen of these projects are owned, at least in part, by aboriginal or local communities, or municipal governments. Canada now has 11,898 MW of installed wind generation capacity, enough to supply six percent of Canada's electricity demand and meet the annual electricity needs of more than three million homes.

Wind energy and natural gas are the two most cost-competitive sources of new electricity generation in Canada today and wind energy has been the largest source of new electricity generation in Canada since 2005. Between 2012 and 2016, Canada's installed wind energy capacity has grown by an average of 18 per cent, or 1,327 MW, annually.

The Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) expects Canada to install approximately 700 MW of new wind energy capacity in 2017. New wind energy procurement in Alberta and Saskatchewan in 2017, coupled with a renewed focus in Canada on actions to transition to a low carbon economy, mean that wind energy's growth prospects will remain strong in Canada for many years to come.


"More wind energy has been built in Canada in the last 11 years than any other form of electricity generation, and for good reason. Costs for wind energy have fallen dramatically over the past seven years, making wind energy one of Canada's two most cost-competitive sources of new electricity supply. And unlike natural gas, wind energy is not impacted by carbon prices or commodity price fluctuations, meaning that wind energy will only become more affordable over time. The fact that the vast majority of new wind energy projects built in Canada in 2016 had some form of local ownership demonstrates the value of wind not only as a driver of economic growth, but also as a source of local jobs and revenue in communities right across the country."

-Robert Hornung, President, CanWEA


  • Ontario continued to lead Canada in market size and growth, adding 413 MW of new wind energy capacity in 2016 to bring its total installed capacity to 4,781 MW.
  • Quebec added three projects totalling 249 MW of capacity in 2016, ending the year with 3,510 MW of wind energy on its grid and maintaining its position as the second largest wind energy market in Canada.
  • Nova Scotia installed more wind energy projects than any other province in 2016, with 10 new facilities totalling 39.5 MW coming on line, most driven by the province's unique community feed-in tariff program. Nova Scotia ended the year with 579 MW of wind energy capacity, placing it fourth among the provinces for total installed capacity.
  • Canada's new wind energy projects in 2016 represented about $1.5 billion in investment.
  • There are now 285 wind farms made up of 6,288 wind turbines operating in Canada, bringing economic development and diversification to well over 100 rural communities through land lease income, property tax payments, ownership revenue and community benefits agreements.
  • Canada's first commercial wind facility, the Cowley Ridge Wind Farm, was decommissioned in 2016, 23 years after it began operations in southern Alberta in 1993. Alberta added no new wind capacity last year, but remains Canada's third largest wind market with 1,479 MW.


  • Levelized Cost of Energy Analysis 10.0, published in November 2016 by the financial advisory firm Lazard, shows how the cost of wind energy has fallen 66 per cent over the past seven years in the United States.
  • National Energy Board statistics (appendices: electricity capacity) show more wind energy was built in Canada than any other source of electricity generation from 2005 to 2015
  • CanWEA's Wind Markets webpages contain detailed information on the role of wind energy in markets across Canada.


Giant wind turbine sets record for wind energy generated in 24 hours

Posted on February 1st, 2017 in wind by Spencer R.



 Wind turbine designers have been working on bringing a 10 MW turbine to market for years. They're close. We've seen prototypes and know that it won't be very long before these next generation turbines are producing clean energy around the world.

Proof of that comes from a new world record for wind power generated by a single wind turbine in a 24-hour period. The new V164 9 MW turbine from Danish company MHI Vestas Offshore Wind produced an amazing 216,000 kWh on December 1, 2016. The turbine was installed at a testing site near Østerild, Denmark.

The 9 MW V164 turbine is a tweaked and upgraded version of the 8 MW V164 that was developed in 2012. The V164 has been the most powerful wind turbine to date, holding the previous wind energy generation record before its upgrade. It stands 722 feet high and has blades that are 263 feet long. This giant has a sweep area larger than the London Eye.

Why this constant push towards larger wind turbines? The larger the turbine, the larger the power output, which makes offshore wind farms exponentially more efficient and brings down the cost of installation, maintenance and electricity, too.

The V164 has a 25-year life span and 80 percent of the turbine can be recycled when its job is done. It can produce electricity at minimum wind speeds of 9 mph with the optimal wind speed being between 27 and 56 mph, conditions that are typical in the rough North Sea where the turbine is destined to reside.

The turbine has been selected for the 370 MW Norther offshore wind park off the coast of Zeebrugge, Belgium. The project will generate enough electricity to cover the energy needs of 400,000 Belgian households when it's completed in 2019.


4 New Ways to Store Renewable Energy With Water

Posted on January 31st, 2017 in environment by Spencer R.



Earth, Wind & Water: DNV GL’s energy island concept creates a lake in the ocean that stores wind energy by pumping water out.

If Elon Musk has his way, in the future we’ll all be storing renewableelectricity inside big banks of lithium-ion batteries. But let’s not forget the energy storage situation today. In the United States, 97 percent of utility-scale storage in 2014 was in pumped-storage hydroelectric plants, according to research by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, in Tennessee.

In traditional pumped hydro, a dam separates a lower reservoir from an upper reservoir. When a utility company needs to store energy, the system pumps water from the bottom to the top. It generates electricity when water flows back down through a turbine. In 2015, Citibank estimated that the cost of power from pumped hydroelectric was about 5 percent of the cost of grid-scale battery-stored electricity. The problem is that there are many places that “consume high amounts of power but don’t have geological opportunities to build conventional pumped-storage plants,” says Jochen Bard, an energy processing technology manager at the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology (IWES), in Germany.

In 2017, a number of new pumped-hydro technologies should achieve milestones. They aim to bring the low cost of the technology to geographies that ordinarily wouldn’t allow it. Here are four you might hear about:


  • /image/Mjg1NzIyMg.jpeg
    Photo: Fraunhofer IWES Energy system technology

    The Concrete Bunker

    Stensea (Stored Energy in the Sea) is a hollow concrete sphere with a built-in pump turbine. It sits on the seafloor and, in its discharged state, is filled with water. To store energy, the system uses electricity to pump water out into the sea. When discharging, the pump works in reverse, generating electricity as water refills the sphere.

    In November, Fraunhofer IWES installed a 3-meter-wide pilot sphere in southern Germany’s Lake Konstanz at a depth of around 100 meters. It ran a successful four-week test of the system with full charging and discharging. Following a year-long feasibility study, the team is now developing the concept for a 5-megawatt, 20-megawatt-hour full-scale system. The spheres will have certain geographic needs: a water depth from 600 to 800 meters and a surface flat enough to prevent tilting. Potential sites for such a project include locations in the Mediterranean Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Norwegian trench.

  • /image/Mjg1NzIyMw.jpeg
    Photo: Hydrostor

    Compressed-Air Bags

    Hydrostor’s system consists of weighted-down balloonlike bags that are placed underwater and connected to a system on the shore. To store energy, it uses electricity to compress the air and fill the underwater bags. (A heat exchanger and underwater bath capture heat lost during compression to help preserve efficiency.) When electricity is needed, the air flows back out of the bag into a machine that expands it to drive a turbine. [See “Stashing Energy in Underwater Bags,” IEEE Spectrum, August 2014.]

    Hydrostor commissioned a 660-kilowatt pilot plant with undisclosed storage capacity in November 2015 at Toronto Island, and the company is currently optimizing the performance. It has proposed new projects in Canada, the United States, and Mexico. And it’s now constructing a 2-MW, 7-MWh facility in Goderich, Ontario, that uses underground salt caverns instead of bags, which could be followed by a 1-MW, 6-MWh storage system with bags in Aruba later this year.

  • img
    Photo: DNV GL

    Energy Island

    In DNV GL’s energy island concept, a dike encloses a 10- by 6-kilometer section of the North Sea off the Dutch coast [artist’s rendering, left]. To store electricity, the system pumps interior water up and out to sea. Letting water flow through a turbine on its way back generates electricity.

    Unlike with traditional pumped storage, the inner lake can be built out in the sea as long as the seafloor has a sufficiently large layer of clay to prevent the ocean from seeping back in. There would also be some trade-off between more energy storage gained from a deeper ocean and increased construction cost.

    For now, this energy island is only in the concept stage. DNV GL, based in Norway, is running a business case analysis with partners in the Netherlands and discussing plans to build a large-scale system. It hasn’t settled on a power rating or storage duration yet, but a small-scale prototype wouldn’t work for something like this, according to the company.

  • /image/Mjg1NzIyNQ.jpeg
    Photo-illustration: Naturspeicher

    Wind Turbines With Water Storage

    In a system by Naturspeicher and Max Bögl, wind turbines are built on the top of a hill with a pair of water storage reservoirs at their bases that raise them by an extra 40 meters above a typical turbine. A man-made lake sits at the bottom of the hill; energy is stored when the water is pumped up into the reservoirs, and electricity is produced when the water falls back down to the lake.

    Adding an extra 40 meters of height should boost generation about 25 percent, but it also requires weight balancing that would ordinarily be expensive. In this case, however, the company says, water in the reservoirs naturally balances the mechanical load on the cheap.

    The system “integrates harmoniously into the landscape without major disruption,” Naturspeicher says. It plans to have a wind farm on line by the end of 2017 in the hills of the Swabian-Franconian Forest, in Germany, with pumped storage following by late 2018. It expects the system, when completed, to store 70 MWh and deliver up to 16 MW.


Scotland Eyes 50 Percent Renewable Energy by 2030

Posted on January 31st, 2017 in environment by Spencer R.



The Scottish government has taken the first steps to heavily cutting the country’s reliance on North Sea oil and gas after calling for 50 percent of Scotland’s entire energy needs to come from renewables.

In a subtle but significant shift of emphasis for the Scottish National party after decades championing North Sea production, ministers unveiled a new energy strategy intended to push motorists, homeowners and businesses into using low- or zero-carbon green energy sources for half their energy needs by 2030.

Currently, 47 percent of Scotland’s total energy use comes from petroleum products largely extracted from Scotland’s North Sea oil platforms, and 27 percent from domestic and imported natural gas needed for home heating.

With opposition parties and environment groups expressing skepticism about a lack of detail in the new strategy, Scottish ministers privately admit cutting oil use is their biggest challenge in hitting far tougher targets unveiled last week to reduce Scotland’s total greenhouse gas emissions by 66 percent by 2032.

While North Sea oil and gas production is in decline as reserves run dry, the new strategy implies Scotland will need to accelerate its transition to a low-carbon economy faster than reserves run out to hit both targets.

Paul Wheelhouse, the Scottish energy minister, told MSPs last week that the new energy target was intended to directly support that climate target. Scottish renewables already supplied nearly 60 percent of Scotland’s domestic electricity use, Scottish islands were pioneering energy self-sufficiency, and community-owned renewable schemes now had an installed capacity of 595mw, he said.

Wheelhouse said: “We can all take pride in such successes, however, it is clear that more progress will be required – particularly in the supply of low-carbon heat and transport – if we are to remain on track to meet our ambitious climate change goals.”

It would put pressure on onshore windfarm operators to make their wind energy so cheap that it would not require a subsidy. Bus companies would be asked to invest in hydrogen-powered buses, and motorists expected to shift to electric cars.

Renewables industry sources say hitting that much higher target could be slower and harder than Wheelhouse admitted because the Scottish government is expected to miss its target of supplying 100 percent of Scotland’s domestic electricity needs from this source by 2020.

Industry analysts believe 87 percent will be renewable by 2020, in part because offshore wind power projects have been slower than expected. Wheelhouse pointed out, however, that the cost of offshore wind had fallen faster than expected, by 32 percent since 2012.

The draft energy strategy, released for public consultation on Tuesday, failed to deal with substantial questions about the costs of meeting the new target, sidestepped Scotland’s continuing use of nuclear energy and also the exact mix and quantity of green energy schemes now needed by 2030.

The paper also again sidestepped a decision on the future of fracking of Scotland’s large shale oil and gas reserves, with ministers are at odds over allowing it or banning it on climate and environmental grounds.

Environmentalists, opposition parties and SNP activists are putting the Scottish government under heavy pressure to convert an existing moratorium on fracking into a permanent ban.

Wheelhouse said ministers were taking an “evidence-based and measured approach” and would soon launch a new public consultation on whether to allow fracking.

And despite standing for election on strong anti-nuclear platforms, Scottish ministers have admitted they are content to see the life of Scotland’s two nuclear power stations at Hunterston and Torness to be extended further, beyond their current contracts that run until 2023 and 2030 respectively.

Nuclear power provided 35 percent of Scotland’s electricity in 2015. EDF, the French-owned utility that operates the two stations, is building up a technical case to win support from the UK’s nuclear regulator to extend both stations’ operating lives by several years each.

That strategy is supported by Scottish ministers. Wheelhouse’s energy paper had very little detail on what power sources would provide the remaining 50 percent of Scotland’s energy needs but it said “thermal energy” – power provided by conventional nuclear or gas-fired stations – would be a significant part of that.

While all opposition parties welcomed Wheelhouse’s overall 50 percent target, they were immensely critical about the lack of detail in the paper, particularly on the costs and funding of the strategy.

Jackie Baillie, Scottish Labour’s energy spokeswoman, said the SNP often set targets it failed to meet. “Scotland has previously been required to import energy from elsewhere in the UK, particularly baseload power from England,” she said. “Yet the SNP’s energy strategy provides little detail about how to keep the lights on.”

Mark Ruskell, a Scottish Green party MSP, said it remained unclear how the target for 80 percent of homes to use low-carbon heat by 2032 would be delivered, since the 2025 target was just 18 percent and current funding levels were inadequate.

“Warming our homes affordably and with low-carbon power is a priority but the Scottish government’s targets don’t make sense,” he said. “There’s too much trust in a technological miracle in the future and not enough action on fuel poverty today.”

Gina Hanrahan, the climate and energy policy officer at environmental group WWF Scotland, said the strategy “fails to put enough meat on the bones of the commitment to transform the energy efficiency of existing homes”. She added: “With 1.5m cold homes in Scotland, these proposals are too slow and underfunded.”


Argentina Declares 2017 Is “Renewable Energy Year”

Posted on January 31st, 2017 in environment by Spencer R.



Originally published on PlanetSave.

Argentina has declared 2017 as the ‘Renewable Energy Year’ as the South American country looks to increase awareness about the advantages of renewable energy and the important of sustainability.

A decree issued by the government calls for energy diversification through the use of renewable energy sources in the electricity generation as well as thermal energy sector. The decree states the country’s target of having a 20% share of renewable energy in electricity consumption by 2025.

The decree is in-line with Argentina’s adoption of the Paris climate change agreement which calls for comprehensive global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The government is expected to push the use of renewable energy technology this year.

The government has set a target to increase the share of renewable energy to 20% in the energy mix by 2025. Another target called for 8% renewable energy share in electricity consumption by 2017. As a result, several renewable energy auctions are expected to take place in the country over the next few years. The government is expected to auction 10 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2025.

In October of last year, the government allocated 1.1 gigawatts of renewable energy projects through a competitive auction. This included 400 megawatts of solar power capacity, and wind energy, bioenergy, and small hydro power projects were also allocated. The auction attracted bids for 6,366 megawatts of capacity.

An additional 516 megawatts of solar PV capacity was allocated in another auction in November 2016.