Click Green told us that solar PV energy can now be produced for less than $1 a watt according to a new study by Queen’s University. Because of technological innovation and reduced costs, the authors of the study say that solar is nearly competitive with other traditional energy sources.

India is using that decreased solar cost to embrace it for its medium term energy policy reported OILPRICE. The country is advancing the target date for selling solar-generated electricity at the same rate as electricity generated by fossil fuel plants from 2022 to 2017. Last year the government launched its “National Solar Mission,” with the objective to establish India as a global leader in solar energy, by creating the policy conditions for its roll out across the country as quickly as possible.

For those who want to know if solar is for you, check out CleanTechnica which revealed what you will need to know and how much it will cost.

For both budgetary reasons and because solar costs have sharply declined, the UK cut its solar feed-in-tarrif by 50% this week.  getwokingham advises that more UK companies are cutting staff in response.  Environmental group, Friends of the Earth, says the government’s actions have thrown the UK solar industry into chaos and threatens 20,000 jobs.

The International Energy Agency warned that high crude oil prices threaten the global economy wrote The Guardian. Crude has risen to $100 a barrel from $75 in October. The agency said that crude prices could rise to $150 by 2015 if oil-producing countries in the Middle East and North Africa don’t invest $100 billion a year to maintain existing fields and develop new ones. More than 90% of global crude production growth during the next 20 years will come from that region, led by Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Algeria and United Arab Emirates.

OILPRICE argued that natural gas is the logical bridge to a renewable energy future, both for the production of electricity and transportation. It is cleaner than oil and coal and more reliable than present solar and wind energy sources. “In closing, either go natural gas today or live with an ever-increasing environmental and economic threat from coal and petroleum. As of now, seeing our economy run by a large percent of truly clean and renewable fuels is unfortunately a distant dream.”

From the Green Car Congress we learned that Opel has a new compressed natural gas vehicle with a 530 km (329 miles) range. The Zafira Tourer also has a 14-liter gasoline reserve, giving it an extra 150 km (93 miles) of range. The 1.6 liter turbo engine can run on biogas or a mixture of natural gas and biogas. In the case of 100% biogas propulsion, the carbon foot print is almost zero.

Renewable Energy Magazine told us that biofuels are taking to the air downunder. Two major airlines in Australia and New Zealand have agreed to support Australian-based biofuel company, Licella, as it works to bring its product to market. Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand have signed memorandums of understanding with Licella to support the development of sustainable aviation biofuel. Licella uses water technology to produce high quality bio-crude oil from a wide range of different biomass, including agricultural and farm waste. The same source told us that the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has identified the increased used of biofuels as a top priority for the global airline industry.

In a different area of transportation, business Green revealed that shipping giant Maersk Line is experimenting with biofuels. The company is testing the performance of algae-based biofuels in a 300 metre container ship from northern Europe to India. Blends of between seven and 100 per cent biofuels will be used in the auxiliary test engine of the Maersk Kalmar during its month-long, 6,500 nautical mile voyage.

The Australian government issued a draft energy white paper saying that the Land of Oz will have to consider nuclear power if renewable energy sources fail to provide cost-effective base-load power. The Wall Street Journal quotes the energy minister: “…due to the long lead times involved in nuclear plant development, such a decision would need to be taken by the latter part of this decade if deployment was required by 2030 or 2035.” Australia does not have any nuclear power stations but has the world’s largest uranium reserves (23% of the world’s total). It is the third largest uranium producer, behind Kazakhstan and Canada.

In the future the US could be relying on small nuclear reactors reported OILPRICE. A study from the University of Chicago suggested that small modular reactors (SMRs) would have a generating capacity of 600 MW or less. They would be factory-built as modular components and then shipped to their desired location for assembly. The economic viability of small modular reactors would depend partly on how quickly manufacturers can learn to build them efficiently. Any such industry would likely need the US government as its first customer. You can read the study by Robert Rosner and Stephen Goldberg here.

REVE mentioned that Algeria wants to install around 22,000 MW of renewable energy. The largest share would be generated from solar power  (photovoltaic solar energy and concentrating solar thermal power) and wind energy. The use of the Sun, one of the most valuable resources in Algeria, could ensure more economic growth and employment, less dependence from fossil energy sources, and overall improved living conditions.

Click Green commented that Scotland is poised to become Europe’s largest exporter of renewable energy. An independent report by Reform Scotland concluded that exporting renewable energy could earn Scotland £2 billion a year and enable the country to become the biggest exporter of low carbon electricity in Europe. Scotland currently produces 40% of the UK’s renewable energy. The country’s target is to meet the equivalent of 100% of gross annual electricity demand from renewables by 2020. In 2009 it met 27.4% of its gross electricity demand from renewables, mostly from hydro power. Scotland has over 90% of the UK’s hydro output. Now the country is focusing on offshore wind, wave and tidal power.

The Global Warming Foundation said that UK consumers can expect their household energy bills to increase by £100 a year over the current decade to support carbon-reduction commitments by their government. Charges to support the reduction in carbon emissions are expected to rise from around 8% of energy bills today to nearly 20% by the end of this decade. These projections come from a report produced by the UK Committee on Climate Change. The report anticipates a large expansion this decade in the funding of wind, nuclear, tidal and other low-carbon energy generation projects through domestic gas and electric bills.

themercury reported that households in the Australian state of Tasmania are suffering from power shock. Australia’s new carbon tax will be $23 a tonne as of July, 1, 2012 and industry experts believe electricity prices will rise by $16.10 a megawatt hour because of the tax. However, large companies are protected from hydro price increases because of long-term contracts they signed with Hydro Tasmania.  For example, Rio Tinto, which uses a quarter of the state’s electricity, is protected until 2014. As a result, the bulk of the higher electricity prices will be born by residential users. 65% of Hydro Tasmania’s generation is contracted to major customers at pre-carbon tax prices and there is no mechanism to charge the new prices until new contracts are signed. This will place more hardship on low income households as they will have to adjust to an increasing portion of their budgets going to electricity costs.






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