Population growth is hampering the ability to bring electricity to the entire globe. The Poughkeepsie Journal told us about a new World Bank report which concludes that bringing electricity to all of Earth’s citizens by 2030 will require doubling or tripling the current annual spending of $400 billion a year. Over the past 20 years 1.7 billion people gained access to electricity. Over the same period, an additional 1.6 billion people were able to use cleaner, safer cooking fuels. However, during this time the world population grew such that the number of people in energy poverty has not changed.

In total, about 1.2 billion people — nearly as many as the entire population of India — live without access to electricity. And 2.8 billion people burn wood, crop waste, dungv and other biomass to cook and heat their homes…The World Bank report recommends an array of initiatives to fight energy poverty and boost development of cleaner energy. One of its main conclusions is that it will take substantial and sustained investments from both the public and private sectors to make it happen.

GreenFudge posted Nuclear vs Solar: The Future of Humankind.

Nuclear is a clean method of generating power releasing next to zero emissions, although the fuel that drives it is deadly to all life. Solar arrays are a safer method of delivering power with zero emissions, but doesn’t deliver the power capacity required by society. What needs to be analyzed when determining which is the more efficient method of generating power?

Although our needs for increased power production surpass our current methods, the technology we currently utilize is still an adaptation of a century old idea of spinning a turbine in order to create power. Will steam be our ultimate source of energy, or will we one day discover a more viable method to meet our own demands?

OILPRICE revealed the key to advancing nuclear energy.  “…one of nuclear’s chief challenges is to become much cheaper, so that new nuclear plants can replace fossil fuels. In service of this goal,…The key is innovation. In particular, developing, demonstrating and deploying advanced, or what are called Generation IV, nuclear technologies.” In related posts, Public Service Europe wondered Will the 21st century be built on nuclear power?, Business Insider observed China Is Literally Going Nuclear (see chart below) and Forbes suggested less nuclear equals an increase in the use of coal and natural gas and more carbon emissions. The latter point is reiterated in Salon, Germany’s clean energy policy backfired (“The nation’s move away from nuclear power drove it right back to coal.”

 

china nuclear

 

The Economist called oil “yesterday’s fuel“. With oil demand already declining in the developed world, this publication thinks the shale gas revolution and substantive changes in automobile technology and ever-tougher fuel-efficiency standards imposed by governments, will combine to lead to a more rapid decline in the use of this energy source, including in the large developing populations of China and India.

OILPRICE offered us 10 Renewable Energy Statistics you Might Not Know.

German energy policy continues to come under scrutiny. Following the Fukushima disaster in Japan in March 2011 the European country made the decision to move away from nuclear power to generate its electricity and go with renewables (solar and wind).  Two years later that decision is under attack.  Needing 24/7 back up power and not getting that from solar and wind, the country has had to import coal to feed its coal-fired electricity generators.  Now, instead of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, they are increasing we learned from Salon. “When a nuclear power plant closes, a coal plant opens. At least, that’s the way things are shaping up in Germany, where the move away from nuclear energy appears to have backfired….In the absence of a strong government plan to push natural gas and renewable forms of energy, the share of electricity generated from coal rose from 43 percent in 2010 to 52 percent in the first half of this year.”

Der Spiegel commented on Germany’s wind turbine woes in Turbine Trouble: Ill Wind Blows for German Offshore Industry. With uncertainty over Germany’s plans to continue subsidizing mammoth off-shore wind projects and the failure of transmission companies to connect these wind farms to the nation’s electric grid, investors are abandoning existing and future projects.  As a result, electricity prices continue to escalate to the chagrin of power users.

There are several reasons for the industry’s problems. Grid operator Tennet, which readily admits that it is underfinanced, has also failed to connect wind farms to the power grid on schedule in other locations. But the industry is mostly critical of the lack of investment security. Economics Minister Philipp Rösler, a member of the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP), and Environment Minister Altmaier announced plans for a cap on electricity prices in February. This could reduce the guaranteed feed-in tariffs for green energy in order to keep costs low for consumers.

This alarmed the industry. Operators of offshore wind farms depend on sufficiently high electricity prices to refinance their investments. “Although  the cap on electricity prices was never approved, it made investors very anxious,” says wind energy expert Ronny Meyer.

OILPRICE covered The Renewable Energy Boom that Never Happened. “Despite the rhetoric around the rise of renewable energy, the data tells a far different story.” Carbon-free energy sources include nuclear, hydro, solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass. From 1965 to 1999 the proportion of carbon-free energy in global consumption more than doubled to more than 13%. However, since 1999 the proportion of carbon-free energy in the global mix has dropped 2%, despite heavy investment in solar and wind by countries around the world. Wind and solar represent about 1% of total global energy production and are dwarfed by coal.

 The data shows that for several decades the world has seen a halt in progress towards less carbon-intensive energy consumption, at about 13 percent of the total global supply. This stagnation provides further evidence that the policies that have been employed to accelerate rates of decarbonization of the global economy have been largely ineffective.

Britons are debating the renewable energy policies of the UK government that are driving up energy prices for consumers and could risk blackouts in future if the national grid isn’t modernized quickly enough. ENERGY LIVE NEWS said Government’s green policies driving up energy bills, Engineering & Technology Magazine feared Blackouts and rising energy costs fear for UK billpayers, Spiked worried Britain’s energy policy: no light or heat, and The Telegraph reported No quick fix to ensure energy security for Britain. USwitch countered that the UK government was prepared to invest £110 billion in energy infrastructure by 2018 to alleviate these concerns and The Telegraph quoted the Energy Minster who insisted the lights will stay on.

Bloomberg wrote about Spain’s reversal on solar energy.  After a decade of heavily subsidizing solar, the European country is forced the severe economic downturn to remove the subsidies and raise electricity prices to consumers. In an unprecedented move, the country plans to make consumers pay for the solar electricity they generate from their rooftops and use themselves. New draft legislation on power consumption includes a fee for electricity that’s generated by solar panels or other renewable sources and used on-site.

The bill will make self-generated solar power more costly than electricity bought from the grid, rendering such systems uneconomical, said  Jose Donoso, managing director of Spain’s solar lobby group UNEF. 

Spain’s Industry Ministry said the new levy is needed because grid-connected consumers that can produce their own electricity also benefit from the back-up provided by the power system. The levy will help control growth in rooftop solar, minimizing its impact on the system. The government argues that Spain already has too much generation, since total capacity exceeds peak demand by more than 60 percent.

 

 

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