Bloomberg informed us that renewable energy is surpassing fossil fuels in new energy investments. “Electricity from the wind, sun, waves and biomass drew $187 billion last year compared with $157 billion for natural gas, oil and coal, according to calculations by Bloomberg New Energy Finance using the latest data. Accelerating installations of solar and wind-power plants led to lower equipment prices, making clean energy more competitive with coal.” These findings indicate the world is moving toward using more renewable energy even without a global agreement on limiting greenhouse gases.

Global Energy Watch wrote that developing economies see no escape from coal to produce their electricity. South Africa, China and India are among the world’s top five producers of coal, which generates 90% of South Africa’s electricity, 70% in China, and 55$ in India. “Everyone would love clean energy but coal is cheap and at this stage this is what the country can afford,” said a South African energy analyst. South Africa plans to double its energy supply over the next 20 years, but despite ambitious proposals for renewable and nuclear power coal will still make up 65% of the mix. China plans to bring coal down to 63% of its energy mix by 2015. India, on the other hand, expects coal to grow to 65% of its supply by 2030. It has built 55 coal-fired plants since 2007, and plans another 100 over the next decade.

The UK would like an international effort on marine energy said Energy Efficiency News. The UK aims to be a leader in marine energy investment, including boosting its own support of marine renewables, promising £20 million for the first demonstration marine energy projects and drawing up plans to move the technology from prototype testing to commercial deployment. According to a recent European Union report, by 2050 the marine energy sector could generate up to 15% of the region’s energy demand.

Global wind power investment may reach $820 billion By 2017 noted Energy Matters. This comes from a recent report by Pike Research.  Pike says that by that time there will be an installed wind power capacity of 562.9 GW compared to 235.8 GW this year. In addition, turbines are being pushed to sizes never before thought practical or economical.  REVE posted that wind will make up one half of Denmark’s energy production by 2020. This target is over double wind’s current contribution to Denmark’s energy mix. Global Energy Watch added that 17 European countries are planning massive offshore wind power projects. “Over 141 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind energy capacity is built, under construction, consented, or planned in Europe: enough to power 130 million average EU households. These wind farms – representing 35 times more capacity than the just under 4 GW installed today – would provide 13.1% of Europe’s total electricity production.”

The UK Energy Research Centre published a study which concludes that biomass could provide 20% of global energy supply without impacting food production. Heat, electric power and transport fuels can be provided from biomass; sources which include waste timber, agricultural residues, and dedicated crops for energy production. The report examines the share that biomass might contribute to the future global energy system and is the first systematic review of the evidence base. “If we make the best use of agricultural residues, energy crops and waste materials then getting one fifth of current global energy supply from biomass is a reasonable ambition”, says Dr Raphael Slade, the report’s lead author and a Research Fellow at Imperial College London. The report finds that getting more than this is technically possible but requires assumptions about food production and changes in diets that look increasingly challenging, especially as people in Asia and Latin America begin to adopt a high meat western diet as incomes rise.

The Fiji Times reported that 10 villages with 530 families now have electricity. To cover the costs of the power project, each household in the 10 villages raised $340 as their five% contribution while the government paid for the remaining 95%.  The project is an example of the country’s rural electrification program.

The GreenCar told us the UK has launched the country’s largest carbon capture and storage project at a coal-fired plant in Yorkshire. Using new technology, the pilot project will capture the equivalent of up 100 tonnes of carbon emissions a day from Scottish and Southern Energy’s Ferrybridge power station and will capture emissions equivalent to 5MW of generation. Carbon capture and storage is seen as one technology which might help clean up energy production from coal by preventing CO2 emissions from entering the atmosphere. Meanwhile trials began with a US carbon storage and capture project said Environmental News Network. The three year trial aims to to pump one million tonnes of CO2 underground in the state of Illinois. The CO2 is being captured from the fermentation process used to produce ethanol at Archer Daniels Midland’s corn processing complex. It is compressed into a dense-liquid to facilitate the injection process and permanent storage at a depth of 7,000 feet.

Bloomberg wrote about the International Energy Agency claims that solar could provide a third of global energy by 2060. Solar technologies include photovoltaic panels, water heaters and electric power stations built with mirrors. “The strength of solar is the incredible variety and flexibility of applications, from small scale to big scale,” says Paolo Frankl, the agency’s head of renewable energy. To realize the potential of solar power, governments should move away from a strategy of subsidizing individual technologies such as solar panels or solar-thermal generators toward measures such as a carbon price that encourages a broader view of the energy transition, Frankl said.

The Guardian added another article about how fuel poverty is rising in the UK.  With rising gas and electricity prices and stangant incomes, a quarter of households in the UK are now fuel poor according to recent figures.  This is up 5% over a year ago and embraces 5 million people. Fuel poverty is defined as those who have to spend 10% or more of their income to achieve adequate warmth and light. Energy Choices says that the Welsh are hit hardest by energy poverty.

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1 Comment on The Energy Blog World: The Week in Review

  1. Elroy Jetson says:

    It would be nice to know how Pike Research dealt with the issue of collapsing subsidies for wind power. Planned projects can quickly fall off the table when expected revenue streams suddenly run dry. And Bloomberg’s remark about wind approaching the cost of coal generated electricity is ambiguous, to be polite. Unless subsidies are stripped from these ‘calculations’, they simply aren’t very meaningful. In the current global economic climate, there will be enormous pressure on governments to control costs, and wind may face a lot more turbulence than these reports appear to anticipate.