Sunday, December 18, 2016

Scotland Advancing in World Renewable Energy Markets

The transition to renewable energy is going to drive the world economy for decades to come. If Trump was halfway serious about revitalizing American manufacturing, he'd be going all in on this. But as it is, countries like Germany and China, and now even Scotland, are pulling ahead of us.

The Aberdeen (Scotland) Evening Express has the story.

“The stretching targets set in Scotland have meant our home-grown green energy industry has developed skills which are in demand on every inhabited continent, bringing investment and income to Scotland from across the world. Countries like Japan, Canada and Chile have seen the lead we’ve built up in wave and tidal energy and now employ Scottish organisations to advise them on developing their own marine energy resources."

Link: Scotland’s ‘renewable energy expertise’ in demand worldwide, says new research

Wave Energy Project in Ghana

Bianca Britton at has the story on a new wave energy project off the coast of Ghana.

The thing I like about wave energy, speaking as a Californian, is that it is much less intermittent than solar or wind, and thus can provide much more reliable, 24-hour energy.

The advantages of wave power, the company argues, is that their machines do not emit pollution, waves are more predictable than other renewable sources and despite the original set up being costly, the running and maintenance costs are low.

Link: Could waves become the next big renewable energy source?

California Net Metering Cap Kicks In

Everyone is trying to minimize this, but the net metering cap is just another attempt by Pacific Gas & Electric to slow down the pace of the solar transition. Not good.

In January, the California Public Utilities Commission approved new net metering rules to keep retail rate remuneration for energy exported to the grid, but added the connection fee and a non-bypassable monthly charge ranging from $0.02/kWh to 0.03/kWh, in addition to time-of-use rates. Those rates are up for review in 2019.

Link: PG&E hits California net metering cap

Friday, December 16, 2016

Priming the Pump of Renewable Energy Financing

My own opinionse on how to finance the renewable energy transition tend towards things like nationalizing the electrical utilities and then using the utility income to finance the change.

But for people hung up on market mechanisms, here is a story from Jan Ellen Spiegel at InsideClimate News about Connecticut's Green Bank and its mission to secure private financing for the transition.

"Your goal is to get people into the real market where they can operate without government support or subsidy," said Esty, who is no longer commissioner. He believes industry, not government, should pick technologies. "The key role of government was to de-risk the flow of funds into clean energy."

Link: Does Connecticut's Green Bank Hold the Secret to the Future of Clean Energy?

Breakthrough Energy Ventures

I have some issues with Bill Gate's Breakthrough Energy Ventures fund. Gates seems to believe that we need a lot more research before we can make the transition to renewable energy. And I'm sure he's right that there are some mind-blowing technical breakthroughs ahead of us as we become a renewable energy society.

But we have sufficient technology in hand to push for implementation on a massive scale right now. And we need megawatts of renewable energy now, not twenty years in the future.

Tracy Staedter at Seeker has the report on what Gates and his supporters are doing.

Although the size of the fund is impressive, its duration is also a surprise. Whereas most investors want to see their startup companies turning a profit within a few years, those under Breakthrough Energy Ventures' wing will have 20 years to take the research and development time often necessary to push energy innovation to new levels.

Link: Bill Gates and Wealthy Allies Have Launched a $1B Clean Energy Fund

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Growth in Solar Energy Strong for 2016 3rd Quarter

A lot of solar energy projects are starting to come online. Danielle Ola at PVTech has the story.

Whilst the third quarter may have broken records, the momentum is set to continue with even better figures in store for Q4. GTM Research anticipates that 4.8GW of utility PV projects will come online in the last quarter of the year; even more than was installed across the entire segment in all of 2015.

Link: US solar sees record-breaking Q3 2016, with Q4 to do even better

Solar Hydrogen in Gas Pipelines

A new project at the University of California, Irvine is looking at using our existing gas pipeline infrastructure to store and deploy hydrogen gas generated with electricity from renewable energy sources. Avery Thompson at Popular Mechanics has the report.
The project involves a technique called electrolysis, which uses electricity (in this case, electricity generated by the excess wind or solar power) to separate water into oxygen and hydrogen. ... The hydrogen can be compressed and injected into existing natural gas pipelines, where it is burned to generate electricity or heat. In this way, hydrogen acts as an efficient means of storing excess electricity generated by renewable sources.
Link: How Simple Hydrogen Could Solve Renewable Energy's Biggest Problem

Cold Storage for Energy

Cryogenic energy storage is another contender in the race to find a way to store intermittent, renewable energy. Yasmin Ali at BBC News tells of a demonstration plant in Manchester, England, for his concept.
The cryogenic energy facility stores power from renewables or off-peak generation by chilling air into liquid form. When the liquid air warms up it expands and can drive a turbine to make electricity.
The 5MW plant near Manchester can power up to 5,000 homes for around three hours.
Link: Cryogenic storage offers hope for renewable energy

Monday, December 12, 2016

Solar Has Repaid Its Fossil Fuel Debt

Megan Treacy at Treehugger reports on a new Dutch study that confirms that, even now, renewable energy systems do reduce the amount of greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere.
By the researchers' calculations, for every doubling of global solar power capacity, the energy used to produce them fell by 12-13 percent and greenhouse gas emissions fell by 17-24 percent, depending on what material was used.

Link: New study says solar panels have repaid their fossil fuel debt

Renewable Energy and the Zombie Apocalypse

l always considered global warming to be a perfectly sufficient apocalypse scenario all on its own, but maybe not. The Fairfax Times of Virginia has the story of how a high school teacher uses zombies to put a little extra oomph into his class renewable energy projects.

Students first learned about solar, wind, and water renewable energy sources. They were challenged to choose one of sources, research multiple designs for that energy source, and put it into practice. Students worked in groups to design the project, then were given a scenario that grabbed their attention: a zombie apocalypse. The scenario stated that all non-renewable energy sources had been wiped out. Their challenge was to develop a zombie survival kit that included the development of their chosen renewable energy source.

Link: Zombie Survival Kit project helps students understand renewable energy resources

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Kite Power!

Avery Thompson at Popular Mechanics has the information on a new kind of wind generator that uses kites instead of turbines. I guess that should take care of President Trump's concerns about birds being slaughtered by turbine blades.
The kite is attached to the ground-based turbines with a tether, and when the wind forces the kite to rise, the tether spins the turbine to generate electricity. By using a system with two kites, in which one rises as the other falls, power can be generated continuously.

Link:  Scotland Will Soon Be Running on Kite Power

Dirt Batteries

Cat DiStasio at Engadget has a reminder about other potentially exciting sources of renewable energy. I particularly liked the microbial "dirt batteries" developed at Harvard.

Scientists at Harvard University built a battery that's essentially powered by dirt. The creation of the microbial fuel cell (MFC) batteries is an energy storage breakthrough primed to aid residents of countries with absent or unstable power grids, such as regions of Africa where many people still live off the grid. MFC batteries are notoriously low in cost and can be constructed from local resources that look nothing like the batteries in your flashlight or cell phone.

Link: Six unexpected sources of renewable energy

Clean Energy Industry Makes Bid for Influence with Republicans

Fortune carries a report from Reuters about green energy donations to Republican candidates and the hope for (finally!) bi-partisan support for renewable energy.

During the 2016 cycle, the wind and solar industry’s political action committees contributed more than $225,000 to Republican candidates for office, compared with $185,000 for Democrats. The numbers are not large by the standards of political donations but they mark the first time the industry has tilted its contributions toward Republicans, according to federal records.

Link: Here's Why the Clean Energy Industry Is Hopeful About Donald Trump