‘Extraordinary’ month for Scottish renewable energy

Scotland had “another extraordinary month” for renewable energy in May, according to environmental groups.

 

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Wind turbines generated enough output to supply 100% or more of Scottish homes on 11 of 31 days in May

 

Wind turbines alone provided enough electricity to supply 95% of Scottish homes.

WWF Scotland analysed renewables data provided by WeatherEnergy.

It also found that in several parts of Scotland, homes fitted with solar PV panels had enough sunshine to generate more than 100% of the electricity needs of an average household.

Wind turbines provided 863,495 MWh of electricity to the National Grid during May, an increase of almost 20% compared to May 2016 when wind energy provided 692,896 MWh.

Overall the data showed that wind generated enough output to supply 100% or more of Scottish homes on 11 of the 31 days in May.

‘Energy revolution’

Scotland’s total electricity consumption, including homes, business and industry, last month was 1,857,566 MWh. Wind power generated the equivalent of 46% of Scotland’s entire electricity needs for the month.

Dr Sam Gardner, acting director of WWF Scotland, said: “Despite the disappointment of last week’s announcement that President Trump is to pull the US out of the Paris Agreement, the global energy revolution is unstoppable and continues at pace here in Scotland.

“May proved to be another great month for renewables with the wind sector meeting 95% of the electricity needs of Scotland’s households.

“On one day in particular, 15 May, output from turbines generated enough electricity to power 190% of homes or 99% of Scotland’s total electricity demand. Month after month, renewables play a vital role in cutting carbon emissions and powering the Scottish economy.”

‘Super sunny’

Homes with solar PV (photovoltaic) panels generated over 100% of average household electricity needs in Aberdeen, Dumfries, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Lerwick.

The sunniest place was Lerwick on the Shetland Islands, which generated 114% of an average household electricity demand. It was followed closely by Dundee with 112%.

Dr Gardner added: “Thanks to a super sunny month, solar was on sizzling form and could have met more than 100% of household electricity demand in towns and cities across Scotland.”

There was also enough sunshine to generate more than 90% of an average household’s hot water needs with solar hot water panels in Aberdeen, Dumfries, Dundee, Lerwick, Perth, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Stirling.

Karen Robinson, of WeatherEnergy, said: “Scotland again managed to pump out clean power by the bucket load during May.

“While people might not be too surprised to learn solar power output was up in May, they might be surprised to discover that wind power output was also pretty impressive.”

Across the UK, solar panels provided a record amount of power on 26 May, when the National Grid reported a 8.5 GWh peak over a half-hour from midday, almost a quarter of total demand.

Published in BBC.com, 5 June 2017

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9.8 million people employed by renewable energy, according to new report

“In the last four years the number of jobs in the solar and wind sectors combined has more than doubled”

Nearly 10 million people were employed in the renewable energy sector last year, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) said on Wednesday.

IRENA’s report, Renewable Energy and Jobs – Annual Review 2017,states that global renewable energy employment in 2016, excluding large hydropower, hit 8.3 million. If direct employment in large hydropower is included, that figure climbs to 9.8 million.

“Falling costs and enabling policies have steadily driven up investment and employment in renewable energy worldwide since IRENA’s first annual assessment in 2012, when just over seven million people were working in the sector,” Adnan Z. Amin, IRENA’s director-general, said in a statement.

“In the last four years, for instance, the number of jobs in the solar and wind sectors combined has more than doubled,” Amin added.

The report showed that solar photovoltaic was the biggest employer last year, accounting for 3.1 million jobs, up 12 percent compared to 2015. The wind sector represented 1.2 million jobs, while biofuels were responsible for 1.7 million jobs.

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Kevin Frayer | Getty Images

 

Amin went on to state that the potential for renewable jobs was significant. “As the scales continue to tip in favor of renewables, we expect that the number of people working in the renewables sector could reach 24 million by 2030, more than offsetting fossil-fuel job losses and becoming a major economic driver around the world.”

Globally, IRENA said that 62 percent of jobs were to be found in Asia. In China alone, 3.64 million people were working in renewables last year, an increase of 3.4 percent.

Africa was another area where utility scale developments had made “great strides”, IRENA said, although off-grid solutions were also playing a key role.

“In some African countries, with the right resources and infrastructure, we are seeing jobs emerge in manufacturing and installation for utility-scale projects,” Rabia Ferroukhi, head of IRENA’s Policy Unit and deputy director of Knowledge, Policy and Finance, said.

“For much of the continent however, distributed renewables, like off-grid solar, are bringing energy access and economic development,” Ferroukhi added. “These off-grid mini-grid solutions are giving communities the chance to leap-frog traditional electricity infrastructure development and create new jobs in the process.”

Written by  and published in CNBC the 24th of May 2017

Elon Musk’s Solar Roofs Have Some Serious (and Seriously Cheap) Competition

A team of researchers in Australia has created a solution that could make solar energy far more accessible.

Written by Kevin J. Ryan and published in INC the 19th of May 2017

While Tesla enters the order-taking stage for its new solar roofs, which cost about the same as regular roofs, scientists in Australia think they’ve found an even cheaper solution: 2-D printed solar panels.

A team of researchers at the University of Newcastle is in the testing phase for the new invention. According to Mashable, the bendable solar panels are printed on plastic film that’s less than 0.1 millimeter thick.

The panels are made mostly of polyethylene terephthalate, the material used to create soft drink bottles. That also means they’re recyclable, so old panels can be melted down and formed into new ones.

Paul Dastoor, the researcher leading the project, hopes the panels can eventually cost as little as about $7.50 per square meter. By comparison, Tesla’s solar roofs cost around $235 per square meter.

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CREDIT: Courtesy University of Newcastle

 

While the team hasn’t yet said how efficient the panels are overall, Dastoor tells Mashable that they outperform traditional photovoltaic solar panels in low light. One advantage the panels have is that they can be placed on a roof that faces any direction, instead of needing to be strategically pointed toward the sun.

The first few solar panels have been installed as a test, and the company will observe how well they perform in various weather conditions.

Traditional solar panels are bulky and unattractive, and usually cost upwards of $15,000 to install. Tesla, which last year completed its acquisition of SolarCity, is one company looking to find an alternative to that. Its solar roofs look like regular roofs and harvest energy about as efficiently as solar panels.

Should the printed panels survive testing and reach consumers, they’d likely be far cheaper than what’s already on the market. But they still wouldn’t solve the aesthetic issue that tends to be a point of resistance with many customers. Though less of an eyesore, the panels would still blanket a roof, which could still be a turnoff for homeowners who resist traditional panels for similar reasons.

Even so, a cheaper alternative is a welcome development in the industry. While solar energy is now cheaper than nonrenewable energy in much of the U.S., it still accounts for only 1 percent of the country’s energy consumption.

Full tilt: giant offshore wind farm opens in North Sea

Gemini windpark off the coast of the Netherlands will eventually meet the energy needs of about 1.5 million people, according to its owners

Article published in TheGuardian the 9th of May 2017

Dutch officials have opened what is being billed as one of the world’s largest offshore wind farms, with 150 turbines spinning far out in the North Sea.

Over the next 15 years the Gemini windpark, which lies some 85km (53 miles) off the northern coast of the Netherlands, will meet the energy needs of about 1.5 million people.

 

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The Dutch government has committed to getting 14% of energy from renewables by 2020. Photograph: AFP/Getty

 

At full tilt the windpark has a generating capacity of 600 megawatts and will help supply 785,000 Dutch households with renewable energy, according to the company.

“We are now officially in the operational stage,” the company’s managing director Matthias Haag said, celebrating the completion of a project first conceived in 2010.

The €2.8bn ($3bn) project is a collaboration between the Canadian independent renewable energy company Northland Power, wind turbine manufacturer Siemens Wind Power, Dutch maritime contractor Van Oord and waste processing company HVC.

It was “quite a complex” undertaking, Haag said, “particularly as this windpark lies relatively far offshore … so it took quite a lot of logistics”.

Gemini would contribute about 13% of the country’s total renewable energy supply and about 25% of its wind power, he added.

It would help reduce emissions of carbon-dioxide emissions, among the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming, by 1.25m tonnes, the company says.

The Netherlands remains dependant on fossil fuels which still make up about 95% of its energy supply, according to a 2016 report from the ministry of economics affairs.

The Dutch government has committed to ensuring 14% of its energy comes from renewable sources such as wind and solar power by 2020, and 16% by 2023, with the aim of being carbon neutral by 2050.

Gemini “is seen as a stepping stone” in the Netherlands and has “shown that a very large project can be built on time, and in a very safe environment”, Haag said.

Two-thirds of Canada’s electricity now comes from renewable energy

Wind capacity in Canada increased 20-fold between 2005 and 2015, according to the NEB, and accounted for 7.7 per cent of total electricity capacity in 2015. Solar accounted for 1.5 per cent.

Article written by Jesse Snyder and published on Financial Post the 3rd of May 2017

Canada substantially boosted its renewable electricity capacity over the past decade, and has now emerged as the second largest producer of hydroelectricty in the world, a new report said Wednesday.

A report by the National Energy Board said that Canada generated 66 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources in 2015. Hydroelectric power accounted for roughly 60 per cent of electricity supply, generating around 79,000 megawatts in 2015.

But as Canada aims to further boost its renewable capacity as part of its lofty climate goals, analysts are questioning hydro’s role in the future. Environmental activists have firmly opposed new large-scale hydro dams like BC Hydro’s Site C and Nalcor Energy’s Muskrat Falls Project in Labrador, which has hobbled development.

“Dams can interfere with fish migration, deplete oxygen in reservoirs, mobilize contaminants, and trap sediment that are important for maintaining downstream habitats including protecting deltas from erosion,” the NEB report said.

Analysts and local communities have also begun to question the potential of large-scale hydro dams in provinces like B.C. and Quebec in the future, as focus is increasingly placed on smaller run-of-river projects that generate a fraction of the capacity.

“I wouldn’t say we’ve reached a hard limit where we’ve done what we can in hydro, but the potential for hydro in regions where we don’t already see it is very limited,” said Kent Fellows, a research associate with the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary.

However, the Ottawa-based Canadian Hydropower Association estimates that Canada could generate another 160,000MW of hydro electricity, compared with 79,000MW today.

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Postmedia file photo

As large-scale hydropower projects face some resistance, wind and solar are set to step grown rapidly in recent years as their costs continue to fall.

Wind capacity in Canada increased 20-fold between 2005 and 2015, according to the NEB, and accounted for 7.7 per cent of total electricity capacity in 2015. Solar accounted for 1.5 per cent.

As Canada’s dependence on renewable sources like solar and wind grows — albeit gradually — governments are now grappling with how to build the high-voltage transmission lines that would be needed to offset intermittency.

“There is potential for wind, but the question there is what are the costs, and that cost-benefit calculation becomes very complicated when you have to factor in things like new transmission capacity to get that more regional dispersion,” Fellows said.

Substituting intermittent power supplies with more stable ones is vastly more costly in Canada than in higher density countries like Denmark, which generates more than 50 per cent of its electricity from wind power.

In January, researchers at the University of Ottawa’s Institute of the Environment released a report that analyzed the long-term cost savings of building high-voltage connecting lines between several hydro rich and hydro poor regions—for example between Alberta and British Columbia.

“We found that you can achieve emission reductions at a lower cost if you build those transmission lines, and that’s including the cost of construction,” said Brett Dolter, one of the report’s authors.

Canada produced roughly 10 per cent of hydro capacity worldwide in 2015, second only to China at 29 per cent, the NEB data shows. Brazil and the U.S. produced nine per cent and 8 per cent, respectively.

Canada’s proportion of electricity generated by renewables is the sixth-highest in the world behind Denmark, Norway, Brazil, Austria and New Zealand. Only 12 countries generate more than half of their electricity from renewable supplies.