The Week wrote about the ambitious plan by the US to fuel an African energy boom. Last week President Obama introduced a “Power Africa” initiative in a speech in Cape Town, South Africa, which calls for $7 billion in US government aid and $9 billion in private sector contributions over the next five year  to bring electricity to more than 20 million households and businesses in sub-Saharan Africa. Power Africa plans to add more than 10,000 MW of electricity generation capacity on the continent. The initial partner countries are Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, and Tanzania.

“Families get to electrify their homes; businesses can run their plants; investors can say if we locate in an African country, that they’re going to be able to power up in a reliable way,” said Obama. “All this will make economies grow.”

See also ESI-Africa, The USA’s Power Africa initiative.

The International Energy Agency estimates the world could save $70 trillion by 2050 with more energy efficient transportation we learned from Climate Spectator. The IEA report, A Tale of Renewed Cities, recommends policies across three broad approaches:

— allowing travel to be avoided;

— shifting travel to more efficient modes; and

–improving the efficiency of vehicle and fuel technologies.

“As the share of the world’s population living in cities grows to nearly 70 percent by 2050 and energy consumption for transport in cities is expected to double, the need for efficient, affordable, safe and high-capacity transport solutions will become more acute,” said IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven.

Climate Spectator told us Scottish tidal power has less potential than initially thought. New research led by the University of Oxford suggests that the maximum power that Pentland Firth could produce would be 1.9 GW (gigawatts), with 1 GW a more realistic target. That is far below previous estimates of 10 GW to 20 GW. Due to the strength and speed of its tides, this firth was once called the “Saudi Arabia of tidal power” by Scotland First Minster Alex Salmond and he expected the energy from this resource would be exported to Europe. The Oxford study was less optimistic about the firth’s potential because it took into account factors such as how many turbines it would be feasible to build, how they would interact with each other, and variations from tidal cycles. Pentland Firth could still generate power equivalent to almost half of Scotland’s annual electricity consumption.

Should the world pay Canada to keeps its oil in the ground?  The was the question posed by National Public Radio. Norwegian economist Bard Harstad suggests that if countries are worried about carbon emissions from fossil fuel countries like Canada, then they should just offer to buy these oil, gas and coal reserves to keep them buried in the ground.  This is similar to the idea of paying Brazil not to cut down the Amazon rainforest to ensure a world CO2 sink. A few years back, Norway agreed to pay $1 billion to Indonesia if it would refrain from cutting down its forests. And, earlier this year, Ecuador threatened to drill for crude oil in a rainforest preserve unless the world paid it not to.  The price to be paid, of course, would have to be the present value of the fossil fuel reserve or it would not make economic sense for the owner of the resource to agree to keep it in the ground.

“It sounds weird,” Mr Harstad said in an interview with the Financial Times, conceding that some people might have “digestion problems” with the idea of paying a wealthy country such as Canada to stop extracting its oil.

Gas to Power Journal posted that China and the Netherlands are the most likely buyers for US coal to generate electricity. Imports of US coal around the world increased 14% in the first quarter of this year, driven by low global coal prices as US power producers prefer to use abundant domestic shale gas production. The Netherlands was the largest European importer of US coal. China was the second largest single national consumer of US coal, buying double the amount from that source then it did in 2012. Japan and South Korea are also big purchasers of US coal.

From the same source we find that Germany is using more coal to produce electricity at the expense of natural gas and wind. The share of coal in Germany’s power generation mix has risen to 52% in the first-half of this year driven by lower prices for coal relative to natural gas. German electric power producers plan to add 5.3 GW of new-build coal capacity by the end of this year, World coal prices are falling as the US and Canada rely more on their domestic natural gas reserves to produce electricity.

OILPRICE informed us that Russia is building floating nuclear plants. At the International Naval Show in St. Petersburg, Baltiskii Zavod shipyard general director Aleksandr Voznesenskii said that the Russian Federation’s first floating nuclear power plant “should be operational by 2016.” The “Academician Lomonosov” FNPP will be the first vessel belonging to the new line of floating nuclear power plants that can provide electricity, heat and water to remote and arid areas of the country. The northeastern Arctic and Far East areas of the country suffer from a lack of energy, slowing their development.  Each 21,000 ton vessel will provide up to 70 MW of electricity or 300 MW of heat, sufficient for a city with a population of 200,000 people. Additionally, they can provide water desalination services capable of supplying up to 240,000 cubic meters of fresh water per day.

By 2020 solar PV could be cost competitive with traditional electricity sources according to Bloomberg. Moreover, market research company Navigant forecasts this energy source will no longer need government subsidies to survive. Navigant expects a total of 438 GW of solar PV capacity to be installed globally from this year through 2020.

…solar PV is becoming a commodity. Solar PV technology costs have steadily declined, and pathways to further cost reduction are being pursued. By the end of the decade, solar PV is expected to be cost competitive with retail electricity prices without subsidies in a significant portion of the world. (Navigant)

Clean Technica wrote that concentrated solar power is going to make us rethink energy. The 110 MW Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Plant, which is scheduled to open next year in the US state of Nevada, can deliver electricity whenever it is needed by customers; and its cost, which already beats diesel, is competitive with new build coal and natural gas generation. The facility facility will have 10 hours of molten salt storage, which on average will allow it to deliver 110 MW of baseload capacity to the city of Las Vegas between the hours of 12 noon and midnight each day.  These are the hours when the city needs electricity the most to power the lights and air conditioning of its casinos and entertainment palaces.

“This should be the winning technology. It has all the attributes you looking for to displace conventional generation,” says Tom Georgis, SolarReserve’s senior vice president of development . “It’s not just fulfilling renewable energy targets, you are displacing any new build fossil plants – from nuclear, gas and coal. This is going to change the discussion in energy markets, certainly around the idea that renewables are variable.”

PV TECH posted the installed energy storage market will reach 21.8 GW by 2023. A new report from Navigant Research says the capacity of solar and wind energy storage systems could reach this figure by 2023 as increased renewable energy generation makes the grid increasingly unstable. As renewables are mandated more and more guaranteed access to national grids around the world, Navigant believes energy storage systems will become a necessary device to maintain the stability of these grids.


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