Last year the newly elected Prime Minister of Australia, Tony Abbot, vowed to repeal the country’s carbon tax to reduce electricity and natural gas prices in that country.  Recently released figures from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission show electricity prices have declined on average 7.31% and natural gas prices have dropped on average 4.8% since the carbon tax was repealed. Average carbon tax repeal savings ranged from 10.6% in the national capital region to 4.3% in the state of South Australia.

A Chinese renewable energy tycoon has become that country’s richest person with a fortune of $US 26 billion. Li Hejun, founder and chairman of Beijing-based Hanergy, saw his wealth nearly triple from a year ago, according to the Hurun Report’s Global Rich List 2015. Li’s Hanergy Group was established in 1994 and spans the hydropower, wind power and solar energy industries.

China consumed 5,523 terrawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity in 2014.

Solar power is already competitive with electricity from fossil fuels and no longer requires subsidy support, according to Italy’s deputy minister for economic development Caludio De Vincent.

Solar power accounted for almost half of global clean energy investment  ($US310 billion) in 2014, with the largest amount of new build in China. The Asian country plans to add as much as 15 GW in 2015, Shanghai Securities News reported citing a draft plan of the National Energy Administration. (“Clean energy” includes hydro, nuclear, solar, wind and biofuels.)

The UK announced that solar PV installations almost doubled to 5 GW in 2014 as developers rushed to beat subsidy cuts for large-scale projects. The Renewables Obligation won’t be available for projects larger than 5MW that don’t connect by April of this year. Solar capacity at the end of 2013 was 2.8 GW.

Germany is considering replacing costly feed-in-tariffs with auctions as a cheaper way of providing renewable energy as it phases out nuclear. Bundesnetzagentur, the regulator of the power grid, will hold a trial auction for 500 MW of ground-mounted solar plants, with developers able to place bids until 15 April.  Bidders will receive a much reduced subsidy than has been the case to date in that country. “We want to reach our renewable energy expansion targets in a more projectable and cost-efficient manner,” economy minister Sigmar Gabriel said.

Almost 4.8 GW of onshore wind turbine capacity was installed last year in Germany and as much as 4 GW may be added this year. In the offshore wind market, Germany is expected to surpass the UK as the top market, with expected additions of 2 GW.

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