Despite remarkable growth, solar and wind power aren’t making a dent in carbon emissions, says a new report from the International Energy Agency. Coal consumption is growing too fast to offset any gains from renewables.
According to the report, solar power capacity increased by 42 percent, and wind increased 19 percent during 2012. In comparison, coal only grew by 6 percent over the last two years. But because the total installed capacity of coal power was already huge, the amount of coal capacity added was much larger than that of solar and wind power. Even the increase in natural gas consumption hasn’t decreased the use of coal worldwide (see “Coal Demand Falls in the U.S., Rises Everywhere Else”).
via International Energy Agency Shows Coal Power Is Growing Faster than Solar or Wind | MIT Technology Review.
In his second inaugural address, President Obama promised to take on climate change as a priority in his second term. “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that failure to do so would betray our children and future generations,” he said at the start of one of the longest passages devoted to a single subject in the speech.
But the president did not detail exactly how he intended to act, given the hostility in Congress and industry to taxes on carbon dioxide emissions or any broad-gauged legislative effort to address the problem. Officials said that he would put some flesh on the bones of his promise in his State of the Union address next week and in his budget proposal.
Mr. Obama has a limited number of administrative options for cutting climate-altering gases and meeting his public pledge of reducing United States greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020.
On Wednesday, the World Resources Institute offered a helpful guide to how the administration might keep the president’s promise. The report, “Can the U.S. Get There from Here?” lays out a series of policy steps the administration can take without Congressional action or approval.
via A New Path on Emissions – NYTimes.com.
An agreement by almost 200 nations to curb rising greenhouse gas emissions from 2020 will be far more costly than taking action now to tackle climate change, according to research published on Wednesday.
Quick measures to cut emissions would give a far better chance of keeping global warming within an agreed U.N. limit of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6F) above pre-industrial times to avert more floods, heatwaves, droughts and rising sea levels.
“If you delay action by 10, 20 years you significantly reduce the chances of meeting the 2 degree target,” said Keywan Riahi, one of the authors of the report at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria.
via Cost of combating climate change surges as world delays – study | Reuters.
Most of Germany’s pro-Energiewende voices think that Germany will far exceed its 2020 target of 35% clean energy. The Heinrich Böll Foundation, a Green think tank, is definitely among them. It argues that Germany could — with the right policies — go 100% renewable by 2050.
But for Germany to do it, argues the report “A European Union for Renewable Energy,” there has to be greatly improved cooperation. The EU targets, road maps, and action plans are steps in the right direction, but they fall far short of a comprehensive EU common energy policy.
The report, commissioned by the Heinrich Böll Foundation European Union and prepared by independent experts, argues that most European countries’ current energy grids are antiquated, nationally organized, and designed for fossil fuel and nuclear energy sources. The grids are composed mostly of one-way transmission cables connecting large production facilities, like coal-firing plants and nuclear reactors, to residential and commercial hubs.
via Germany’s Grid and the Market: 100 Percent Renewable by 2050? | phockeno.
We don’t talk about hydropower much in the U.S. when we talk about renewable energy. Many states don’t even count it as renewable. But as a new International Energy Agency report highlights, around the world, hydropower is seen as a significant weapon in the battle against climate change.
Check it out: Since 2005, there’s been more new hydropower generation — around 600 terawatt-hours — than wind, bioenergy, solar and geothermal combined (which account for less than 550 terawatt-hours combined).
According to the IEA’s Technology Roadmap for Hydropower (PDF), global installed hydropower capacities have been growing in recent years at an average of 24.2 gigawatts per year. By the end of 2011, total capacity was at 1,067 gigawatts and the new capacity under construction will drive the figure up to 1,300 gigawatts by 2017.
via Hydro Grows Around The World, And IEA Wants More : Greentech Media.
Soft costs can be pretty tough. The cost of solar installations can be generally separated into “hard” costs — representing primary components such as modules, racking, inverters — and soft costs including legal, permitting, and financing. While the former group — particularly modules — have dropped dramatically over the last several years, the latter have not. According to a recent NREL analysis, these costs represent roughly 30% of both residential and utility installations (slightly less for commercial-host systems). See Figure 1.
In fact, soft costs are so critical to the overall success of solar adoption, their reduction is a primary focus of the Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative to make solar energy cost-competitive. In order to reduce the cost of financing, NREL recently completed and continues to work on various efforts to tap public capital marketsand enable other vehicles that securitize project portfolios.
via How Do We Lower Solar Installation Costs And Open The Market To Securitized Portfolios: Standardize And Harmonize – CleanTechnica.
The global energy map is changing in dramatic fashion, the International Energy Agency said as it launched the 2012 edition of the World Energy Outlook (WEO). The Agency’s flagship publication, released today in London, said these changes will recast expectations about the role of different countries, regions and fuels in the global energy system over the coming decades.
“North America is at the forefront of a sweeping transformation in oil and gas production that will affect all regions of the world, yet the potential also exists for a similarly transformative shift in global energy efficiency,” said IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven. “This year’s World Energy Outlook shows that by 2035, we can achieve energy savings equivalent to nearly a fifth of global demand in 2010. In other words, energy efficiency is just as important as unconstrained energy supply, and increased action on efficiency can serve as a unifying energy policy that brings multiple benefits.”
The WEO finds that the extraordinary growth in oil and natural gas output in the United States will mean a sea-change in global energy flows. In the New Policies Scenario, the WEO’s central scenario, the United States becomes a net exporter of natural gas by 2020 and is almost self-sufficient in energy, in net terms, by 2035. North America emerges as a net oil exporter, accelerating the switch in direction of international oil trade, with almost 90% of Middle Eastern oil exports being drawn to Asia by 2035. Links between regional gas markets will strengthen as liquefied natural gas trade becomes more flexible and contract terms evolve. While regional dynamics change, global energy demand will push ever higher, growing by more than one-third to 2035. China, India and the Middle East account for 60% of the growth; demand barely rises in the OECD, but there is a pronounced shift towards gas and renewables.
via World of Photovoltaics – Solar Energy Daily News, Events, Companies, Products, Jobs and more – Renewables to rival coal for power generation in 2035 says IEA.
Shale gas is the energy topic of the day. Production is increasing, but so is gas demand – for electric generation, transportation, and as an industrial feedstock. However, perhaps the most significant dynamic with the potential to drive natural gas prices up in the foreseeable future is a growing push to export LNG from the US. That particular dynamic has recently gone into hyper-drive, with numerous liquified natural gas (LNG) export requests having been filed with the US Department of Energy in the past few years.
Consider this: according to the Energy Information Administration, total natural gas consumption for 2011 was 24.3 trillion cubic feet (Tcf), and 2012 consumption looks to be on the order of 26 Tcf. In the meantime, just since mid-August, US companies have filed for permits with the USDOE to export 7.8 Tcf of LNG – about 30% of current total domestic consumption. Total requests year-to- date equal 11.2 Tcf (though almost 1 Tcf is for re-export of Canadian gas). Add to that, the 5.3 Tcf of exports requested last year, and you get approximately 16.5 Tcf. That’s over 60% of current domestic consumption. It’s also more than the amount of US LNG export capacity from five brownfield and three Greenfield projects in play that are listed in a recent Wood MacKenzie report.
via U.S. Natural Gas Exports Poised For Takeoff – Forbes.
Last week, I wrote that the U.S. coal industry is in trouble and the only way it can hope to reverse its downward slide is through increased exports, mostly to China. This isn’t a crazy notion: Coal consumption has been rising and will continue to rise in China, in absolute terms. But there’s reason to think the rate of growth may be slower than expected, and consequently that exports may not be the sure thing U.S. coal companies need.
The same discussion is happening in Australia: Coal companies are eager to build giant new coal mines in Queensland and they’re using projected Asian demand to justify them. Noted Australian economist Ross Garnaut, adviser to the Labor government and author of the famed (in some circles) Garnaut Climate Change Review, recently downplayed Chinese demand:
via Exporting to China may not save the U.S. coal industry after all | Grist.
A study released recently by McKinsey & Company says that, because of falling battery prices, electric vehicles are inevitable. Shifting prices will make electric cars cost-competitive with gasoline in the 2020′s. That would erase one of the two resistance factors to buying an electric car: the price. The other resistance factor, electric car driving range, will be erased along the way, according to the report.
McKinsey, a business management consulting company, published the study on its website late last week. Researchers developed a cost model for battery packs based on 40 underlying cost factors. With it they identified three factors that would accelerate the mass adoption of electrified vehicles, by decreasing the cost for battery packs, and improving the total-cost-of-ownership.
via Electric cars to become inevitable, cost competitive, by 2020ish says report.