On the Blogs: Texas Acknowledges a Sea Change in Its Solar Outlook

first_imgOn the Blogs: Texas Acknowledges a Sea Change in Its Solar Outlook FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Mike Jacobs for the Union of Concerned Scientists:Something unprecedented just happened on the renewable energy front in Texas that is likely to reverberate in energy markets across the country.ERCOT, the entity that manages the flow of electric power to some 24 million Texas customers, representing about 90 percent of the state’s electric load, has posted its predictions of where the state will be able to find the cheapest electricity over the next 15 years. Insiders knew this was brewing, and a formal discussion in planning circles is scheduled for June 21.As it usually does, ERCOT looked at a range of scenarios. The group mapped potential bulk power purchases from 2017 to 2031 under six different scenarios, including low gas prices, high economic growth, etc. And here’s the part that marks a momentous tipping point: solar power emerged as a clear economic winner in the state in all seven scenarios. In other words, ERCOT is saying that the price of solar power in Texas is now low enough that it predicts no other power plant types will be built.It’s hard to overstate what a remarkable change this under-the-radar industry assessment represents. First of all, this happened in Texas, where competition to supply electricity is unfettered, and existing power plants have no guarantees or privileged status. In this environment, ERCOT is showing that solar is priced low enough to beat the cost of other new plants.ERCOT’s predictions follow several reports that Texas solar projects have sold energy at ground-breaking low prices.  Certainly, Texas benefits from the wide expanses of land and ample sun, but it is just a matter of time and good business development before similar economics take hold in other states as well.So, one effect of the ERCOT predictions will surely be to increase the pressure on policy makers not to shield existing fossil-fuel generation from healthy competition.Full item: Solar Power Plants are the Future of Texas Power. Every Time.last_img read more

On the Blogs: Weakness Seen in BHP’s Bullishness on Coal

first_imgOn the Blogs: Weakness Seen in BHP’s Bullishness on Coal FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Carleton English for RealMoney.com:BHP Billiton (BHP) is playing the long game on coal but there may be reason to be skeptical about demand — even in emerging economies such as India and China — due to greater environmental pressures and the increasing viability of natural gas.“Against the backdrop of greater uncertainty in the outlook for thermal coal, we are confident that base demand in emerging economies will remain resilient for decades to come and our higher quality coals position us well in an increasingly carbon constrained world,” Mike Henry, BHP’s President Operations Minerals Australia, said in a statement released Tuesday.The bullish sentiment on coal was similar to comments made by Chief Commercial Officer Dean Dalla Vale in April 2014.“Coal is expected to remain the centerpiece of Asia’s energy portfolio into the foreseeable future, where coal is the cheapest and most readily available source of energy,” Dalla Valle said in a speech that was reported in The Wall Street Journal. In the same speech, Dalla Valle said India is “anticipated to be the most significant source of new demand.”According to BHP’s 2015 annual report, coal accounted for 13% of its annual revenue.Since Dalla Vale’s comments, shares of BHP are down 60% amid the broader decline across commodities and the weakening of the China growth story. Real Money chartist Bruce Kamich documented BHP’s decline on Tuesday.Representatives for BHP Billiton did not immediately respond to requests to comment.Demand for coal may exist for “decades,” but it may not make sense to characterize it as “resilient,” given the headwinds the commodity faces even in the developing world.“Experts think they might reach peak demand around 2020, but when more than half of China’s installed capacity is coal, they are too reliant to move to renewables anytime soon. Same goes for rest of the world basically,” Real Money Pro contributor Ben Cross said in an email Wednesday.Fellow Real Money Pro contributor Jim Collins also sounded cautious tones about the long-term growth of coal as the entrance of renewables may be slow, but may also become increasingly viable.“I think in the U.S. the shift away from coal — especially to natgas — is a permanent one,” Collins said in an email Tuesday. “China will always be a swing importer as the move to renewables will be slow there. India is in a similar situation.”Although India has been picked as the next emerging economy hotspot, the country has also stated its intent to be less reliant on imported coal and it has also shown interest in importing natural gas and using renewable energy sources, according to a 2015 report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. Progress on those targets has been mixed for India but the stated intention to be self-sufficient does not bode well for BHP’s coal plans in the developing world.BHP Billiton’s Long Game on Coal Looks Weaklast_img read more

South Australia Moves Forward With Massive Tesla Storage Project

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Australian Broadcasting Corporation:South Australia will push ahead with a plan to install battery systems built by Elon Musk’s Tesla in 50,000 homes, with the new state government committing to continue the pro-battery agenda of its predecessor.The Weatherill Labor government announced the Tesla policy in February, declaring it would install battery and solar systems free of charge to create the world’s “largest virtual power plant” and slash energy bills. The plan shared similarities with a Liberal policy allowing battery storage units in 40,000 homes, and it was unclear which of the two policies would be adopted following the election of Liberal Premier Steven Marshall.But in a speech at the Australian Energy Storage Conference, Energy Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan said the Government would implement both. “It’s very important to be clear about this—we are honouring the existing commitments around the Tesla virtual power plant (VPP),” he said.“The VPP project is currently proceeding with the two trial phases as planned. The trial phases involve installation of home energy systems on 1,100 Housing SA homes. These are supported by a $2 million grant and a $30 million loan from the state government.“Subject to private finance, and the first two phases’ success, the third phase could grow to up to 50,000 home batteries connected to new solar installations, and this is in addition to our government’s 40,000 home election commitment. Very simply, a Liberal government in South Australia means more, not fewer, batteries,” he said.More: Tesla Household Batteries in SA Get Green Light South Australia Moves Forward With Massive Tesla Storage Projectlast_img read more

U.S. national lab says floating solar could generate 10% of country’s electricity

first_imgU.S. national lab says floating solar could generate 10% of country’s electricity FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享PV Tech:The US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has evaluated the potential for floating solar (FPV) across the US in a new study, notably highlighting its benefits on water reservoirs in arid regions as well as alongside hydroelectric facilities.The US may have claimed the first FPV installation around a decade ago on an irrigation pond in Napa Valley, California but few projects have materialised since. China and Japan have lead FPV installations, while demand is expected to increase across South East Asia and Europe, due to announced projects.According to NREL researchers, FPV projects across more than 24,000 man-made US reservoirs could generate around 10% of US annual electricity production, which would reduce the land requirements for conventional ground mount PV power plants by at least 2.1 million hectares.NREL noted that its study had intentionally been conservative in its findings, due to the relative underdevelopment of FPV technology and overall global installations.“In the United States, it’s been a niche application; where in other places, it’s really been a necessity,” said Jordan Macknick, the lead energy-water-land analyst for NREL and principal investigator of the project that produced the paper “Floating PV: Assessing the Technical Potential of Photovoltaic Systems on Man-Made Water Bodies in the Continental U.S. “We’re expecting it to take off in the United States, especially in areas that are land-constrained and where there’s a major conflict between solar encroaching on farmland.More: NREL evaluates floating solar technology potential in USlast_img read more

Construction begins on Scotland’s first subsidy-free onshore wind farm

first_imgConstruction begins on Scotland’s first subsidy-free onshore wind farm FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Clean Technica:Independent Scottish developer Muirhall Energy announced on Monday that construction has begun at the Crossdykes Wind Farm, an important step in the company’s effort to deliver Scotland’s first subsidy-free onshore wind project.The 46 megawatt (MW) Crossdykes Wind Farm, being developed at Dumfries and Galloway, in the western Southern Uplands of Scotland, is expected to produce first power in September 2020. Muirhall Energy and its partners WWS Renewables reached financial close on the project in August — believed to be the first subsidy-free development to be project-financed, thanks to funding from Close Brothers Leasing and wind turbines to be supplied by Nordex. “We are delighted to be starting construction on what will be one of the first subsidy-free developments to come online in the UK,” said Chris Walker, Managing Director of Muirhall Energy.The milestone of construction start and the potential of delivering Scotland’s first subsidy-free onshore wind project comes despite a complete lack of support from the U.K. Government.“Access to the Contract for Difference or some other support mechanism would make a huge difference to the economics of the sector, encouraging the build-out of some of the more challenging consented sites, therefore ensuring onshore wind makes the biggest possible contribution to meeting our net zero climate change targets whilst keeping bills down for consumers,” explained Chris Walker.More: Scottish developers announce subsidy-free onshore wind farmlast_img read more

Australian company wants wind, solar to power massive new nickel mining project

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renew Economy:Australian mining giant Oz Minerals says it is looking to use wind and solar to provide the bulk of the power needs for a giant new nickel project in a remote part of central Australia near the border of South Australia and Western Australia, some 800kms west of Uluru.Oz Minerals says a 55MW hybrid power plant would look to harness solar and wind energy to provide 70 to 80 per cent of the power needs of the West Musgrave project, backed up and balanced by battery storage and diesel generators.Oz Minerals says lower cost wind and solar are a crucial part of the decision on whether to go ahead with West Musgrave, which is Australia’s largest undeveloped copper and nickel project, given that power costs would account for around 40 per cent of the processing costs.“Large-scale solar photovoltaic and wind solutions are currently economically viable and technically mature solutions to reduce the project’s reliance on high cost fossil fuels for electricity generation,” the company says in a presentation released on Tuesday along with its half year results. “Baseline data collected over the last year has demonstrated a high quality, consistent solar and wind resource is available, with higher wind velocities at night offsetting the lack of solar power.”Oz Minerals is just the latest of a number of big and small mining groups that are now turning to wind and solar to deflect the soaring costs of diesel or gas generators, the traditional source of supply of mining projects such as this. But this would be by far the biggest installation.More: Mining giant looks to wind and solar to power huge nickel project Australian company wants wind, solar to power massive new nickel mining projectlast_img read more

Axis Capital to exit coal, oil sands insurance business

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Canadian Underwriter:Starting next year, Axis Capital Holdings Ltd. will stop writing new insurance and facultative reinsurance for oil sands extraction and pipeline projects.Pembroke, Bermuda-based Axis writes commercial specialty and reinsurance. Its new thermal coal and oil sands underwriting and investment policy takes effect Jan. 1, Axis Capital said Wednesday in a release.“AXIS will not provide new insurance or facultative reinsurance for the construction of new thermal coal plants or mines and their dedicated infrastructure or oil sands extraction and pipeline projects and their dedicated infrastructure; or to companies that generate 30% or more of their revenues from thermal coal mining, generate 30% or more of their power from thermal coal, or hold more than 20% of their reserves in oil sands,” the insurer said. “Renewals will be considered on a case-by-case basis until Jan. 1, 2023. Exceptions to this policy may be considered on a limited basis until Jan. 1, 2025 in countries where sufficient access to alternative energy sources is not available.”The announcement comes less than a week after Canadian Underwriter obtained a memo that purports to be a “CrossLine Alert,” issued for internal users only, from Munich Re. In that memo – which Munich Re has neither confirmed nor denied to be authentic – the insurer says facultative reinsurance covers and primary insurance business, including renewals, will no longer be signed for the planning, financing, construction of new oil sand sites. “We believe insurers have an important role to play in mitigating climate risk and transitioning to a low-carbon economy,” Axis Capital CEO Albert Benmichol stated Wednesday in a release.As a result of global warming, Canada will have more frequent heat waves, droughts and precipitation events, Insurance Bureau of Canada CEO Don Forgeron said Apr. 25 at IBC’s annual general meeting.More: Another insurer to withdraw coverage from oil sands Axis Capital to exit coal, oil sands insurance businesslast_img read more

U.S. added 13.3GW of new solar in 2019, pushing national total to 76GW

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Greentech Media:Solar topped natural gas and wind to claim a record share of new U.S. electric generating capacity last year, at nearly 40 percent, boosted by a vibrant residential sector that looks healthier than it has in years.2019 was a landmark year for the American power sector on several fronts. Wind crossed the 100-gigawatt threshold, and it overtook hydroelectric plants in total electricity generated. But solar stole the show, with four out of every 10 megawatts of capacity built last year represented by a PV panel.All told, the country added 13.3 gigawatts of new solar last year, bringing the cumulative total to 76 gigawatts, according to the U.S. Solar Market Insight report, published quarterly by the Solar Energy Industries Association and Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables.Solar accounted for 39.8 percent of new U.S. generating capacity brought online last year, blowing past natural gas at 32 percent and wind at 27 percent. It’s just the second time that solar was the leading source of new capacity, and the first since 2016.It’s hard to ignore the booming utility-scale market, which accounted for 8.4 gigawatts of last year’s solar additions — and where the development pipeline now stands at a record 48.1 gigawatts. The large-scale market is underpinned by the proliferation of state renewables mandates, rising corporate demand and costs that continue to drop in spite of the Trump administration’s solar import tariffs.Arguably the most exciting market segment, however, was the one centered on people’s homes. Residential solar installations have now fully recovered from the market contraction of a few years back — when then-leader SolarCity was acquired by Tesla — with a record 2.8 gigawatts added in 2019.[Karl Erik-Stromsta]More: The U.S. built 13.3GW of solar last year as the residential market regained its mojo U.S. added 13.3GW of new solar in 2019, pushing national total to 76GWlast_img read more

Toyota teams up with Chubu Electric to enter renewable energy market in Japan

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Saur Energy:Toyota Motor Corporation has announced that it has concluded an agreement to establish Toyota Green Energy LLP with Chubu Electric Power and Toyota Tsusho Corporation, for the purposes of obtaining and managing renewable energy sources in Japan and supplying electric power from renewable energy sources to the Toyota Group in the future.The automotive giant said that it aspires to move toward a society where people, automobiles, and nature can coexist in harmony. Under Toyota Environmental Challenge 2050, Toyota plans to reduce the environmental impact from automobiles to as close to zero as possible and at the same time engage in activities that contribute to the global environment and society. The clean energy to be supplied through this business is expected to reduce CO2 emissions from plants and other facilities to zero in the future and to contribute to the realisation of a low-carbon society.The investment ratio for the new firm is: Toyota Motor Corporation 50 percent, Chubu Electric Power 40 percent, Toyota Tsusho Corporation 10 percent.Chubu Electric Power has been increasing the use of renewable energy in its drive to expand the scope of ESG management and contribute to resolving issues relating to SDGs. By participating as a business partner in the activities of the Toyota Group to create a low-carbon society, the company will contribute to improving Japan’s energy self-sufficiency rate and reducing CO2 emissions.Recently, Toyota along with BYD Company had announced the launch of their new joint venture (JV) company to conduct research and development (R&D) of battery electric vehicles (BEVs). Operations are scheduled to commence in May 2020. The name of the new company is BYD Toyota EV Technology (BTET).[Ayush Verma]More: Toyota launches renewable venture with Chubu Electric in Japan Toyota teams up with Chubu Electric to enter renewable energy market in Japanlast_img read more

Japan says it will tighten rules for overseas coal plant financing

first_imgJapan says it will tighten rules for overseas coal plant financing FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:The Japanese government on Thursday said it will tighten state-backed financing criteria for overseas coal-fired power plants after facing criticism over its support for the dirtiest fossil fuel  The move marks a partial shift away from Japan’s strong official backing for coal but includes exemptions, leaving some non-governmental organizations sceptical about how much impact the new approach will have.“As a principle, the government will not provide assistance for new coal projects to those countries where Japan is not fully aware of the local energy situation and challenges or policies for decarbonisation,” the government said in a statement.It has received criticism from many quarters over its support, usually through Japan’s export credit agency, for the construction of coal-fired plants in countries such as Indonesia and Vietnam, as well as new plants at home.Japan’s latest move includes exemptions, however, such as when there are no alternatives to coal for the energy stability of a country seeking to build a coal-fired station provided it uses so-called clean coal technology from Japan.Japan’s private banks and companies have been tightening coal policies or cutting investments.That partly reflects the fact that renewable energy and natural gas are getting cheaper, with many countries turning away from coal, one analyst said.“The economics have moved so far and this is just Japan catching up with the economics,” said Tim Buckley, director of energy finance studies Australia/South Asia at the Institute Economics and Financial Analysis.[Aaron Sheldrick and Yuka Obayashi]More: Japan tightens rules on support for overseas coal-fired plantslast_img read more