PRWire announced that Norway leads the world in renewable energy. 95% of the electricity produced in Norway comes from hydropower, and its electricity prices are the lowest in Europe.

Spain is building Europe’s first utility- scale solar projects without government subsidies posted The Financial Post. Due to the serious economic problems in the country, Spain has been forced to eliminate its very generous subsidy program for renewable energy projects. However, this hasn’t deterred some companies from moving ahead with  plans to build 37.5 gigawatts of utility-sized projects to be connected to the country’s electric grid starting in 2013. Taking advantage of falling prices for equipment and lots of sunshine, some firms are going to try to sell solar power at going market prices. Solar cell prices have dropped over 60% in the past two years as Chinese manufacturers flooded world markets. The country currently has about 4.2 gigawatts of solar capacity, which produced about 2.7% of the country’s electricity last year. Some believe most or all of these projects may never get built as Spain currently has a surplus of electricity. Developers that have announced solar plans this year in Spain include local companies Solaria and Gestamp Renewables, as well as Germany’s Gehrlicher Solar AG, S.A.G. Solarstrom AG and Wuerth Solar GmbH & Co.

Electric Light & Power said emerging countries will experience a renewable energy boom by 2020. Led by the rapidly expanding economies of China and India, renewable energy in emerging countries is expected to increase dramatically by the end of the decade, says GlobalData in a new study. India, Mexico, China, South Africa, Russia, Brazil and Indonesia will more than triple their combined renewable energy installed capacity in the near future — from an estimated 127 GW in 2012 to 403 GW by 2020. China will show the greatest growth due to its wind availability. the country’s installed wind capacity is expected to rise from 62 GW in 2011 to 195 GW in 2020. India is forecast to take advantage of its huge water, solar, biomass and biofuel resources. As for power consumption, all seven nations are expected to increase their combined share of the global amount from 36% in 2011 to 42% in 2020.

ECT.COOP said US electric generation from renewables will only reach 16% in 2040, up from 13% in 2011. The fastest renewable growth will be in solar and wind based on a preliminary 2013 report from the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Coal will account for 35% of electric generation in 2040, down from 42% in 2011, while natural gas generation will jump from 25% to 30% during the same time frame. The EIA cautioned that the growth projection for renewables is highly sensitive to the availability of government subsidies and the price of natural gas.

hydrogenfuelnews noted the US may be able to get all of its electricity from alternatives by 2030. A new study from University of Delaware and the Delaware Technical College suggests that the country could economically meet 99.9% of its energy needs through wind, solar, and energy storage technologies by 2030.  Storage technologies could include hydrogen fuel cells. Willett Kempton, professor at the University of Delaware’s School of Marine Science and Policy said: “The key is to get the right combination of electricity sources and storage—which we did by an exhaustive search—and to calculate costs correctly.”  See also ieee spectrum Study Suggests 99.9 Percent Renewables Is Feasible and Cost-Effective, ars technica The grid of 2030: all renewable, 90 percent of the time, and SUSTAINABLEBusiness Renewable Energy Can Reliably Supply US Grid by 2030.

EconoMonitor wrote about Green Illusions: The Limits of Alternative Energy. The blog takes a look at Ozzie Zehner’s book, Green Illusions: The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism.

Forbes said LED light bulbs have finally arrived. The post explains how LED (light emitting diode) light bulbs work and why they are finally economically competitive with the traditional incandescent light bulb invented by Edison.

Forbes also told us How to Light Africa Within a Decade. The post argues that today’s advances in batteries, solar panels, and LEDs have eliminated the economic and technological barriers that have kept 150 million homes in Africa from having access to electricity.  Now it is essential that new business models (including public and private financing) be developed that can adapt to the African way of life to make that electricity a reality. The author proposes using the market (results-based financing) as an efficient mechanism for accelerating investment in off-grid solar electricity infrastructure of a sizable scale. “If public-private partnership can achieve mass market affordability of solar coupled with a high level of durability and service, we will see a solar revolution in Africa to rival the mobile phone revolution, and we’ll see it within a decade.”

The world’s largest solar heating plants are to be constructed in Denmark. The Copenhagen Post reported four district heating plants in southern Jutland will be converted to make use of solar energy starting in 2014. Fuel for the plants is currently supplied by natural gas. Consultants say the change will reduce consumers’ heating bills by 15% to 20%.

Wind power is expected to grow rapidly in South America we learned from Renewable Energy World. Some 10 GW of capacity is planned over the next 8 years across several countries – Brazil and Mexico mainly, but also in Costa Rica, Argentina, Uruguay, Venezuela, Colombia, Chile, Peru and Dominican Republic. Current Latin American capacity is 3.5 GW. Bioenergy, on the other hand, has stalled due to a lack of funding, technological problems, and scarce food crops amidst the global food-versus-fuel debate, Presently 57% of Latin America and the Caribbean’s electricity generation stems from hydropower while another 40% comes from thermoelectric power plants using fossil fuels and natural gas.

Russia Beyond The Headlines revealed that Russia is lagging behind in the renewable power game. While the UK has a goal of 30% renewable energy by 2020 and the EU has set its mark at 20%, Russia has set a more modest target of 4.5%. Now it appears that Russia may not even meet this goal. The primary obstacle to the growth of green technologies appears to be the lack of a “feed-in-tariff”, a controversial government subsidy that has worked quite well in Europe to jump-start the renewable energy industry. By guaranteeing fixed payments to new renewable investors over a long period of time (eg. 20 years) such tariffs make investment in the sector more attractive and likely. In addition, there will need to be regulatory changes to ensure alternative energy entrants will have access to the national power grid. However, in a country blessed by enormous oil and natural gas resources, a market for alternative energy has not been able to develop on its own and there appears to be no political will to make this happen anytime soon.

The US state of California is relying more and more on fossil fuels and it increases the size of its unreliable renewable energy sector. Business Insider noted that windless and cloudy days are forcing the state to default to fossil fuels (particularly natural gas) for emergency backup power as its solar and wind power dwindles.  And as the state increase the size of its renewable sector, more and more of this backup fuel must be relied on. California currently gets 20% of its electricity from renewables, and wants to raise that to 33%. The California Independent System Operator, the nonprofit company that runs the grid, estimates that by 2020 the state will need to double its backup reserve capacity. Hence the state will require even more fossil fuels to keep the lights on. In a related story, Bloomberg explained how California’s solar policies are raising costs for people in the state who do not use solar. In California Utilities Say Solar Raises Costs for Non-Users we learn homes and businesses that do not use solar panels pay an extra $1.3 billion in taxes to subsidize those who do use solar in order to cover the costs of the state’s transmission and distribution system. As more homes and warehouses get covered in solar panels, higher rates are imposed on those who do not go solar, clearly an unsustainable situation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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