Renewable Energy Magazine told us that global hydropower capacity expects to reach 1,4 TW by 2020. A new report by Global Data says that current hydro capacity can generate 1.03 TW of electricity and will continue to grow at a steady pace this decade. The report can be found here.

POWER informed us that Desertec has ambitious plans for Australia and Asia. We previously wrote about Desertec’s extensive plans for the North African desert here and here. Desertec believes Europe can source 15% of its electric power needs from North Africa and the Middle East by 2050 using concentrated solar power. Now the European company wants to link China, Southeast Asia, and Australia to enable those regions to share electric power, natural gas, and information via fiber optic channels.  Under the name Grenatec, the entity says that cross-border electricity and natural gas interconnections increase market efficiency and reduce transport friction.  Read more about Grenatec here.

Scotland reconfirmed its commitment to 100% renewable energy by 2020 said Click Green. A new Scottish Government report predicts that renewable electricity generation (wind, tidal and wave) will be backed up with thermal coal generation progressively fitted with carbon capture and storage technology. The country wants to avoid the need for nuclear power. Power Engineering calls the government’s plan “laudable but unrealistic” here.  Bloomberg noted that Scotland will likely keep its nuclear plants open until the end of the decade to ensure it does not face a power shortage.

Switchboard commented on Chile’s new national energy strategy 2012-2030. This is the country’s first national energy policy after being asked to create one by the International Energy Agency in 2009.  The policy identifies six priority areas the country will focus on to make Chile’s electricity sector cleaner, more secure and efficient.  The main aspects of the policy are increased reliance on non-traditional renewable energy (solar, geothermal, bioenergy, tidal and wave); 20% reduction in energy demand from efficiency measures; increased development of hydropower; no nuclear given the country’s earthquake exposure; and continued reliance on coal-fired electrical generation. With almost no domestic sources of fossil fuels, Chile must import all of the coal, diesel and natural gas it uses. The author is critical of Chile’s reliance for its primary back-up power on environmentally disruptive large hydro projects and a continued reliance on high CO2 emitting coal.

The idea that the United States could become energy independent in a couple of decades is gathering steam.  Here are the views of National Public Radio (Is U.S. Energy Independence Finally Within Reach?) and Environmental Protection (U.S. Totally Free of Oil Imports Seen Only a Few Decades Away). Both focused on the increasing importance of domestic shale gas as a substitute for crude oil and, in particular, the potential for compressed natural gas (CNG) to compete with gasoline as a transportation fuel.   CNG was given a boost this week when President Obama proposed that natural gas vehicles be given the same same subsidies as those now available for electric cars. (See The Energy Collective Obama Embraces Natural Gas Vehicles In A Billion Dollar Way) Currently CNG is about half the price of gasoline and diesel and many trucking firms and businesses are converting their fleets to run on it.

China Daily reported that the city of Beijing is trying to rid itself of coal.  The city intends to replace all coal-fired equipment in its core areas by 2013, as the Chinese capital strives to curb pollution. Outer areas are to be coal free by 2015. To achieve the ambitious target, the city will replace four major coal-burning electric power plants with natural gas power plants, ban coal-fired winter heating, and use more clean energy.

A year after the Fukushima tragedy, IEEE informed us on the state of Japan’s renewable energy production. In a nutshell, all but three of the country’s 54 nuclear reactors are shutdown and renewable energy is far from being able to provide back up.  As a result, Japan in having to import vast quantities of coal and natural gas to meet the electricity generation gap left by the nuclear void.  All nuclear reactors could be closed by May as the government continues its extensive safety inspections. The country faces a crisis this summer, the time of peak electrical demand, without the nuclear option. IEEE looks at the potential for renewable energy to fill the void and finds it is not there. The legislature has passed a bill to encourage solar, wind and biomass but its implementation is far from ready, and some energy experts believe it will be decades before it can be meaningful. The combination of working out technical details, Japan’s difficult terrain and geographic accessibility are almost certain to slow down the roll out of renewable energy for many years.  For the short to medium term, the Japanese can only look forward to higher electricity prices, power outages and watching much of its domestic production moved offshore as manufacturers look for more reliable electric grids.

Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri discussed the indeterminacy problem facing solar and wind. Currently, as is well known, because they are intermittent, solar and wind cannot provide backup power, forcing countries to rely on nuclear, coal, natural gas and hydro to provide 24/7 backup power. William F. Pickard, a professor of electrical and systems engineering at the university in “The Intermittency Challenge: Massive Energy Storage in a Sustainable Future” looks at what can be done about the problem of intermittency. His ideas focusing means for making renewable energy reliable and dispatchable, particularly massive storage facilities for energy. His ideas include giant transnational power grids such as that proposed for Southeast Asia by Grenatec (see above). With a grid this big averaging effects come into play and uncorrelated intermittencies can partially cancel each other out. Another solutions are DC transmission over long distance and massive energy storage facilities.

GreenTech Pastures told us that installed wind energy generation technology in North America is likely to double from 2012 to 2017, with onshore projects capturing most of the investments. In Wind Energy Outlook for North America Pike Research predicts that North America’s current 22% share of global wind capacity will double over the next five years with onshore installations accounting for up to 97% of the growth.

University of Edinburgh economist Gordon Hughes finds that wind power is more expensive than burning fossil fuels to generate electricity reported Energy Choices. The author claims that this is the first economic study to analyze the true cost of wind power. The study (see here) finds that the switch to wind power could be an “expensive blunder” adding billions to UK household bills, be less efficient than burning fossil fuels, and would fail to significantly lower CO2 emissions. The report estimates the total consumer bill for wind subsidies by 2030 will amount to £130 billion, all of which will come from higher energy bills for UK consumers. Meeting the UK government’s target for renewable electricity generation in 2020 will require total wind capacity of 36 GW at a cost of about £120 billion. The same electricity demand could be met from 21.5 GW of combined cycle gas plants with a cost of £13 billion, a saving of £107 billion over wind power. See also Billions blown away on wind power, says British study in The Australian and £120 billion gamble on wind turbines: Green energy ‘ten times dearer than power stations’ in the Daily Mail.




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2 Comments on The Energy Blog World: The Week In Review

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  2. Ask five economists and you’ll get five different answers – six if an individual went to Harvard.
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