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All roads to Rome? Germany: 100% solar & wind; Japan: nuclear; UAE: eye-opener cost report; oil fr $100 to $40: Shell Artic dig


By WcP.Scientific.Mind - Posted on 02 September 2015

Emma Thompson for saving the Arctic from Shell’s oil drilling

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Fossil Fuels Losing Cost Advantage Over Solar, Wind: cost of producing electricity from renewable sources such as solar and wind has dropped significantly over the past five years, narrowing the gap with power generated from fossil fuels and nuclear reactors, according to the International Energy Agency.
“The costs of renewable technologies -- in particular solar photovoltaic -- have declined significantly over the past five years,” the Paris-based IEA said in a report called Projected Costs of Generating Electricity. “These technologies are no longer cost outliers.”

The median cost of producing so-called baseload power that is available all the time from natural gas, coal and atomic plants was about $100 a megawatt-hour for 2015 compared with about $200 for solar, which dropped from $500 in 2010. Those costs take into account investment, fuel, maintenance and dismantling of the installations over their lifetimes and vary widely between countries and plants. For instance, commercial rooftop solar installations generate power for $311.77 a megawatt-hour in Belgium and $166.70 in sunnier Spain, the findings show.

The IEA findings come as more than 190 nations prepare to broker a new climate agreement in Paris in December to limit carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels. Based on figures from 181 power plants in 22 countries, the study concludes that no single technology is the cheapest under all circumstances and costs depend “highly” on available resources, labor costs and local regulations.

Solar and wind are now the cheapest sources of new energy supply in the United Arab Emirates, according to a report released today by IRENA, Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, and the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Marking the country’s first public comparison of different energy technology costs and potentials, the Renewable Energy Prospects: United Arab Emirates report finds the UAE could achieve a 10 per cent share of renewable energy in its total energy supply – and almost 25 per cent in the power sector – resulting in energy system savings of USD 1.9 billion (AED 7 billion) annually by 2030.

“The UAE’s strategy of innovation and diversification has placed it at the fulcrum of the massive transformation of the global energy landscape that has already begun. Renewables have decisively emerged from a niche technology to a major component of the energy mix and have been the majority of global power capacity additions for the last three years. The dramatic technology cost declines we are mapping present a real possibility to move to a sustainable energy future even in the hydrocarbon producers in the MENA region.” – IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin

-The report cites sharp declines in renewable energy costs in the UAE, as well as rising costs for natural gas as domestic production declines and the country turns to more expensive imported sources, as the key drivers for renewable energy’s financial attractiveness. Local solar PV costs, for instance, have fallen by 80 per cent since 2008, while the cost of new gas supplies in the UAE has grown from under $2.5/MMBtu in 2010 to $6-8/MMBtu for domestic production and $10-18/MMBtu for imports today, even after the recent decline of oil and LNG prices. The report estimates that solar, wind, and waste-to-energy are preferable for power generation when new gas is above $8/MMBtu – making them immediately competitive in the UAE, where natural gas supplies almost 100 per cent of power.

The report also reveals that solar costs are poised to decrease even further. In January, the tender for the second phase of Mohammed bin Rashid Solar Park in Dubai was awarded to the lowest bidder for under six cents per kilowatt hour for a 25-year fixed contract. This is the lowest solar price ever achieved worldwide.

“This report is an eye-opener. It provides policymakers and investors with an objective cost baseline, making the clear case that renewables, and especially solar, will have a much larger role sooner than we ever expected in the UAE and Middle East.” – Dr. Fred Moavenzadeh, President of Masdar Institute

The report is one of the first three country analyses under IRENA’s REmap 2030 programme, which evaluates how the world can meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Energy for All goal of doubling the global share of renewable energy by 2030. The project maps how renewable energy can grow in the power, industry, buildings, and transport sectors. Health and environmental benefits are also included in the analyses, and in the case of the UAE, they could amount to additional annual net savings of USD 1 to 3.7 billion by 2030.

“The UAE made an early bet on energy diversification. We are investing broadly and letting technologies compete to produce the optimal supply mix. As this report shows, there is now a clear financial case for renewables, even before we consider benefits like energy security, emissions, and job creation.” – His Excellency Dr. Thani Al Zeyoudi, the UAE’s Permanent Representative to IRENA and the Director of Energy and Climate Change at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The report notes that solar and wind are still challenged by intermittency, which will require natural gas to fill gaps in output. However, the savings from generating solar power during the daytime, instead of consuming gas, are so great that they could justify 17,500 megawatts of PV in the UAE by 2030, up from around 40 MW today.

Report - Renewable energy has become economically attractive in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates (UAE). Ramping up renewables to 10% of the country’s total energy mix, and 25% of total power generation, could generate annual savings of USD 1.9 billion by 2030 through avoidance of fossil-fuel consumption and lower energy costs. With health and environmental benefits factored in, the transition to renewables could generate additional net annual savings of
USD 1 billion to as much as USD 3.7 billion by 2030.

This report is a joint effort of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the UAE-based Masdar Institute, and the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Directorate of Energy and Climate Change. The analysis of the UAE’s renewable energy prospects comes as part of REmap 2030, IRENA’s roadmap for doubling the share of renewables in the global energy mix.

Hawaii’s Governor David Ige Dumps Oil and Gas in Favor of 100 Percent Renewables, signs a bill on June 8, 2015 calling for the state’s electricity sector to transition entirely to renewable energy, attracting an unlikely and enthusiastic partner in his embrace of green energy—the US military. Ige, trained as an electrical engineer, is leading his state in the most ambitious clean-energy program in the United States.
At the Asia Pacific Resilience Innovation Summit held in Honolulu, Hawaii, this week, Governor David Ige dropped a bombshell. His administration will not use natural gas to replace the state’s petroleum-fueled electricity plants, but will make a full-court press toward 100 percent renewables by 2045. Ige’s decisive and ambitious energy vision is making Hawaii into the world’s most important laboratory for humankind’s fight against climate change. He has, in addition, attracted an unlikely and enthusiastic partner in his embrace of green energy—the US military.

Ige said Monday that LNG (liquefied natural gas) will not save the state money over time, given the plummeting prices of renewables. Moreover, “it is a fossil fuel,” i.e., it emits dangerous greenhouse gases. He explained that local jurisdictions in Hawaii are putting up a fight against natural gas, making permitting difficult. Finally, any money put into retooling electric plants so as to run on gas, he said, is money that would better be invested in the transition to green energy.

Ige, trained as an electrical engineer, is leading his state in the most ambitious clean-energy program in the United States. On June 8, he signed into law a bill calling for Hawaii’s electricity to be entirely generated from renewables in only 30 years. He also directed that the University of Hawaii be net carbon zero in just 20 years.

As a set of islands, Hawaii faces special energy difficulties. Residents pay the highest rates for electricity of any state in the union. Last year, before the recent oil price drop, residential electricity averaged around 36 cents per kilowatt hour (the US average is 12 cents/kwh). On the mainland, states that do not generate enough electricity themselves can import it from their neighbors. Islands in the middle of the Pacific just have what they can make themselves. Because Hawaii’s energy plants were built before it was economical to ship natural gas as LNG, they for the most part use petroleum. The high oil prices of the past decade are estimated to have cost Hawaii some $5 billion extra that was not anticipated. Part of the impetus for the current drive toward renewables is to escape the volatility of fossil-fuel markets.

Senator Brian Schatz, a Hawaii Democrat, also addressed the summit, insisting that wind, solar, and other renewables are now competitive with fossil fuels and no longer “alternative.” Rather, they are practical today, because of significant price drops in the cost of photovoltaic panels and of wind turbines. He argued that change comes only when it is demanded. Several years ago, he said, Hawaii set what seemed like unrealistic green energy goals at that time. The senator’s point is valid. By 2015, officials wanted 15 percent of electricity generation to come from renewables. In 2014, it was already 21 percent. At the federal level, Schatz said that the Senate is coming around on climate change issues, with all Democrats backing renewables and even a lot of Republicans privately admitting the climate-change crisis. He said that the United States must lead at the UN’s Climate Change Conference later this year in Paris, but that the real test will be in the implementation of the goals adopted there.

US researchers with affiliations to several institutions in the Boston area has conducted a study to determine the immediate health benefits to different parts of the country if coal or gas fired plants were replaced with solar or wind farms. Health care savings ranged from $5.7 to $210 million each year.
(Phys.org)—A team of researchers with affiliations to several institutions in the Boston area has conducted a study to determine the immediate health benefits to different parts of the country if coal or gas fired plants were replaced with solar or wind farms. In their paper published in the journal Nature Climate Change, the team describes how they created their models and why they believe they could be used to help with planning energy systems in the future.

As the researchers note, most studies that look into the benefits of converting "dirty" energy production to "clean" renewable resource based systems, focus on the benefit to the planet as a whole, i.e. reducing greenhouse gas emissions and thus slowing global warming.

They suggest another approach is to look at the health benefits that would occur for the people that live in the area—air pollution, it has been estimated kills approximately 200,000 people in the U.S. each year—and a lot of that pollution comes from coal fired power plants. In this new effort, the researchers wondered if it might be possible to create models that would reflect the immediate health benefits to people that live in the vicinity of dirty plants if they were replaced with non-air polluting plants.

As a start, the team chose to use dollar amounts spent on health care due to pollution as a metric, because it can be quantified. Next, they chose six geographical areas to evaluate: Cincinnati, northern Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Chicago. For each of those areas, the team looked at what the impact would be of replacing a coal fired plant with either a 50 MW solar or wind plant, or two pollution reduction schemes that would involve reducing the amount of electricity meted out to customers. Then, they looked at the impact that each of the types of projects would have on the amount of electricity generated versus savings or constraints on the local grid, and of course the difference in emission of pollutants such as nitrogen oxide, carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide.

Canada officially enters recession on plunging oil prices. Canada, the world's fifth-largest oil producer, has been hit particularly hard by the halving of world oil prices from above US$100 (S$141) last year.

From Venezuela to Iraq to Russia, Oil Price Drops Raise Fears of Unrest: Oil, the lifeblood of many countries that produce and sell it, appears to be rapidly turning into an ever-cheaper economic curse - A year ago, the international price per barrel of oil was about $103. By Monday, the price was about $42, roughly 6 percent lower than on Friday.
In oil-endowed Iraq, where an Islamic State insurgency and fractious sectarian politics are growing threats, a new source of instability erupted this month with violent protests over the government’s failure to provide reliable electricity and explain what has been done with all the promised petroleum money. In Russia, a leading oil producer, consumers are now paying far more for imports, largely because of their currency’s plummeting value. In Nigeria and Venezuela, which rely almost completely on oil exports, fears of unrest and economic instability are building. In Ecuador, where oil revenue has fallen by nearly half since last year, tens of thousands of demonstrators pour into the streets every week, angered by the government’s economic policies.

Emma Thompson joins giant polar bear at Greenpeace protest outside Shell HQ. Actor campaigns against the ‘selfishness and greed’ of Shell’s bid for Arctic oil as part of a week-long demonstration in London.

A bus-sized polar bear and Emma Thompson have joined a week-long protest against Arctic drilling at Shell’s headquarters in London. The British actor visited the Arctic last year and said that she had got out of bed at 4am on Wednesday to take part in the protest because of the risk of climate change to her grandchildren and the threat posed to the polar region’s fragile environment by drilling.

“Shell haven’t been listening. Shell have ignored the science. They want to drill in the Arctic up to the year 2030. It seems to me a monumental act of selfishness and greed. We cannot go on extracting oil in the way that we have,” she said.

Shell was forced to briefly halt exploratory drilling off the coast of Alaska last week due to high winds but the poor weather has now passed and it is undertaking systems checks before resuming full operations.

Japan nuclear power outlook bleak despite first reactor restart - legal challenges from local residents have hit all atomic plants, with the country's most nuclear-reliant utility Kansai Electric Power issued with court rulings preventing the restart of four reactors despite two of them already receiving NRA approval to switch on. Kansai has appealed the judgments but the court cases may take years to resolve if the rulings are not overturned on the first appeal.

4 years after locking down nuclear power in response to wrecked Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant station north of Tokyo, causing radiation leaks that forced the evacuation of 160,000 people. Trouble at Japan's First Nuclear Restart - As Japan Starts Up First Nuke, Geothermal Boom Begins. Many experts expected to see problems trip up the restart in Japan. Although more than $100M was been spent retro-fitting new safety features at the Sendai plant, previously restarted reactors showed that the process rarely goes smoothly. Of the 14 reactors that resumed operations after being offline for at least four years — exactly like Kyushu's — all had emergency shutdowns and technical failures, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

(All 48 commercial reactors in Japan remain offline following 2011's Fukushima disaster.) “If reactors have been offline for a long time, there can be issues with long-dormant equipment and with ‘rusty’ operators,” Allison Macfarlane, a former chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, presciently told Bloomberg by e-mail.

Renewables come closer to covering 100% of German demand. A lot of sun and wind made this possible.

Japan court bars restart of Takahama nuclear reactors. The court said the plant was not ready for a major earthquake. THE world’s biggest nuclear power plant runs along nearly 4 kilometers (2½ miles) of the coast of the Sea of Japan. All 48 commercial reactors in Japan remain offline following 2011's Fukushima disaster.
Map of nuclear powerplants in Japan and fault zones: an earthquake map of Japan March 201; Earthquake Map: 40 Earthquakes Hit Japan In One Day; Another map of Japan’s nuclear power plants, suspended ones and ones planned; A March 2011 radiation map of Japan; Earthquake Map: 40 Earthquakes Hit Japan In One Day

Japan earthquake - the worst-affected areas and the nuclear risk
There were renewed fears of a worsening nuclear accident in Japan following an third explosion at the Fukushima Daiichi atomic power plant

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Image courtesy WSJ, UNFCCC, US News / UN Report, eternian.wordpress.com, JustJared.com, @Energydesk, thenation.com / Governor of the State of Hawaii, and International Renewable Energy Agency

There were renewed fears of a worsening nuclear accident in Japan following an third explosion at the Fukushima Daiichi atomic power plant. Find your loyal essay writer here)

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