The International Energy Agency (IEA) reported that global new nuclear capacity additions totaled 10 gigawatts last year, the highest rate since 1990. The IEA also said that from 2010 to 2015, renewable power generation grew by more than 30% and is forecast to grow by another 30% between 2015 and 2020.

A new study from Research and Markets looks at the World Market for Biogas Plants. The authors conclude the worldwide construction of new biogas plants will continue over the next 10 years. Between 2016 and 2025, the installed capacity will increase from around 7 gigawatts (GW) of electricity to 9.6 GW, while the number of biogas plants will grow from 12,000 to 15,000. Government subsidies for electricity, heat or fuel produced in biogas facilities will remain the main driver for this growth. In those countries where subsidies are being removed or reduced (eg. Germany), growth will be much less.

Research and Markets also looked at the state of the Waste to Energy Market. Today, more than 2,200 waste-to-energy plants are operational worldwide. Together they have a disposal capacity of around 300 million tons of waste per year. More than 280 thermal treatment plants with a capacity of nearly 80 million annual tons were constructed between 2011 and 2015. The authors estimate more than 600 new plants with a capacity of about 170 million annual tons will be constructed by 2025.

The Pacific island nation of Vanuatu has set a goal of 100% renewable energy by 2030. To assist in meeting this objective the World Bank announced it is providing funding for a project that would partially subsidize solar home and micro grid systems for 8,400 households on the island, and also contribute to the construction of five mini grid systems which would benefit 550 households. The systems will be able to power refrigerators, lights and office equipment.

The US city of Portland, Oregon has committed to relying completely on renewable energy by 2050. The commitment applies to all of Portland, not just city facilities and functions. The resolution emphasizes energy efficiency, demand-control technologies, community-based renewables, electric cars and electrified public transportation.

Swedish utility company Vattenfall is investing almost 100 million euros to build a wind power-to-heat facility in the German capital. The 120-megawatt thermal energy facility in Berlin’s western district of Spandau will use wind power to provide heating to thousands of homes in the German city. Berlin has long used a system known as district heating to pump water heated in coal and gas-fired power plants directly into households.

Two recent European renewable energy auctions in Germany and Spain have yielded record low onshore wind prices for Europe. In Spain, contracts awarded for nearly 3 gigawatts of wind energy bid for €43 per megawatt-hour (MWh), reportedly the lowest level ever awarded in an onshore wind tender in Europe. In Germany an on-shore wind energy auction for over 2 GW attracted bids at an average of €57.1 MW/h.

McKinsey & Company tells us battery storage will be the next disruptive technology in the electric power sector.

In order to reduce air pollution (and specifically nitrogen dioxide or NO2 from diesel fumes), several European cities are taking action to limit pollution from automobiles. These steps include car-free zones, preferential treatment for electric vehicles, and pruning high emitting vehicles from the road. London is planning the world’s first Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ), which will initially cover the existing congestion charge zone. Slated for roll-out in 2019, the ULEZ will apply to petrol cars below Euro 4 standards and diesel vehicles below Euro 6 standards, with a daily fee starting at £12.50 for cars and going up to £100 for buses.  Paris is going to halve car numbers by pedestrianizing the city center. A thoroughfare along the Seine river is will be closed permanently, and restrictions are planned for two main roads that run from east to west across the city. In addition, an electric tramway will provide an emissions-free alternative along the route. Oslo is banning all private cars from its roads by 2019, while investing in public transport and over 35 miles of bike lanes. Ljubljana closed its old town area to motorized vehicles back in 2007 and priority is given to pedestrians, cyclists and public transport. Sarajevo has restricted vehicle use in the city, allowing alternating odd-even license plates on the road each day. The Netherlands has instituted an outright ban on sales of petrol and diesel fueled vehicles from 2025. Germany has set a target of 2030 for a similar initiative. Almost all European cities agree that bike lanes and low-emitting public transport are essential if pollution is to be reduced.

Automotive Industry Data reports that despite all the optimistic talk, sales of electric cars in Europe remain slow. In the first 4 months of this year, battery car market share was 0.81% in Western Europe compared with 0.65% in the same period last year. That adds up to 40,607 vehicles purchased this year versus 31,399 last year. The German government has a target of 1 million electric cars on its roads by 2020, but that looks likely to fail miserably with only 80,000 cars in total last year. Editor Peter Schmidt said:

“…demand in the electric car market remains excruciatingly slow, suggesting that Europe’s inevitable shift towards an era of electric vehicle propulsion will be a great deal slower than some industry optimists had earlier predicted. Range anxiety remains a barrier, despite claims by manufacturers that this is being addressed.”

BMI Research predicts that the battle of the electric vehicle will be won by the established auto manufacturers rather than the upstarts like Tesla.

“What should become apparent is that established car makers still appear to have the upper hand thanks to their scale, global exposure, pre-existing profitability and bargaining power. Nevertheless, start-ups could pose a threat given their ability to be more nimble, innovative and establish partnerships with non-automotive industry players, particularly tech companies.”



Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,