Renew On Line (UK) 54

Extracts from NATTA's journal
, issue 154 Mar-Apr2005

   Welcome   Archives   Bulletin         


1. A new UK Climate Plan

2. Green Heat and Biofuels

3. Local support for Tidal power

4. Wind rush- and wind problems

5. Micro power push: PV and micro-CHP

6. Clean-coal ‘better than wind’

7. Industrial ups and downs

8. Grid Connection Charges

9. £80m for Innovation

10. Efficiency Drives

11. World news: Kyoto goes live

12. World Renewables Round up

13. Nuclear Power- more or less?

12. World Round up

EU Solar visions

The European Commission has launched its Strategic Vision for Photovoltaic Technology  (PV) for 2030 and Beyond. It sees the price of PV-generated electricity, currently around 25-65 Eurocents per kilowatt-hour, dropping by a factor of five by 2030, to 5-12 cents/kWh, making PV power competitive with other energy sources. World-wide PV capacity should have risen to 1000 GW by then, and PV will be contributing around 4% of world electricity.  Beyond 2030, PV’s share of electricity production should increase still further, with module efficiencies rising to 30-50%, enabling up to 1000 kWh per year of electricity to be produced per square metre in sunny regions.

This “ambitious though realistic” future vision was prepared for the Commission by its Photovoltaic Technology Research Advisory Council (PV-TRAC), a high-level panel of experts from industry and research institutions.

The expert panel foresees flat plate PV module efficiencies rising to 10-25% by 2030, with concentrator PV efficiencies reaching 35%. PV system lifetimes should increase to 40 years, with annual operation and maintenance costs less than 1% of capital costs. PV modules and systems will be produced from abundant and non-toxic materials, and energy payback times should be less than 1 year.

By 2030, the European PV industry should be producing 20-40 GW of PV capacity annually and supporting between 200,000 and 400,000 jobs, many of them in the installation and building sectors. By then, Europe will have installed a cumulative 200 GW of capacity- similar to the Japanese Government’s target of 50-200 GW.  The Strategic Vision envisages that in the developed world by 2030, “PV will have become a well-known feature of our cities.” And in developing countries, “Large-scale dissemination of PV for rural use... will have provided access to electricity to more than 100 million families by 2030, thus positively affecting the lives of half a billion people.”

To enable the Strategic Vision to be realised, the European Commission is setting up a ‘Technology Platform’ to bring together all the relevant stakeholders.  These include research institutions, energy companies, policy makers, NGOs, consumers’ associations, architects, engineers and installers. The Platform will implement a strategic plan for PV, propose actions to policy makers, foster joint initiatives and ensure coordination between industry, researchers and the market.

Commission officials believe that co-ordination and strategic planning on this scale is vital if Europe is to match the highly-successful Japanese PV industry. Japan’s long-term strategic planning and co-ordination mechanisms have been a key factor in enabling its PV manufacturers to overtake their European and US rivals.  In the last few years, Japanese companies have captured the leading share of the world PV market.

The report is at

US potential

Despite the federal governments opposition to Kyoto, 20 states are adopting strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and  according to Klaus Toepfer of the UN Environment Programme “we must keep the dialogue open so that this key country can hear, and hopefully be eventually won over, to the sound argument that combatting climate change makes both environmental and economic sense”.

Certainly the energy resource is there. Non-hydro renewables offer ‘the greatest potential for future growth’ of low -emmission power in the US, the US Electric Power Research Institute say in a new ‘Electricity Technology Roadmap’. It adds ‘Given sustained investment in R&D, added renewables could reduce the CO2 intensity of the U.S. generating fleet by 5% over the next ten years. By 2020, this figure could rise to 10%.’  

And on the ground things are still happening.  The extension of the federal Production Tax Credit for wind turbines has allowed wind projects in the US to continue to push ahead, with some big projects being proposed. For example, a wind energy developer from Texas is constructing an 80 MW windfarm east of Tucumcari..

But the bigger picture still looks bleak.   The US needs ‘Wind not Oil Wars’, according to Arjun Makhijani of the US Institute for Energy and Environmental Research ( ),  who says that the $200bn or so that the USA has spent on the war and the attempted  reconstruction in Iraq ‘could generate enough wind energy in the Midwest to replace essentially all of the oil that the United States imports from the Persian Gulf... The twelve Midwestern states from South Dakota and North Dakota down to New Mexico and Texas have more wind energy potential than the entire oil output of all of the members of the organization of petroleum exporting countries including all of the countries of the Persian Gulf.’

Japan may miss Kyoto targets

Japan will fail to meet its Kyoto protocol targets for reducing  greenhouse gases unless it buys a large quantity of emissions credits from other countries, according to a report in the Financial Times (15/9/04).

The Kyoto protocol requires Japan to reduce  greenhouse gas emissions by 6% from 1990 levels in the period 2008-2012, but it is currently emitting about 10% more than it did in 1990.  Taishi Sugiyama, a climate expert at the Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry in Japan, told the FT that emissions were rising 1% p.a.  due to a larger-than-expected impact from vehicles and households, which made it impossible to cut real domestic emissions by the required 16% within a few years. “It would be a miracle to stabilise them, but to reverse the trend is almost impossible”,  he said.   But one way of meeting the target would be to buy credits from Russia, whose emissions are below permitted levels.

Spain top for renewables

Spain has been assessed as the most attractive country for renewable energy investment, according to a global review conducted by Ernst & Young- for the second year running, on account of its partially deregulated electricity market with strong tariff support, positive planning environment and high wind resource. It has also now made the installation of solar heat collectors mandatory in all new buildings.   However, the UK is still seen as the most attractive national environment for wind power, although it is judged as only second in terms of overall renewable energy. Denmark and Germany of course are the main players in terms of manufacturing wind plant-  interestingly Siemens in Germany has purchased Bonus Energy of Denmark- one of the five main global suppliers. France, which has been an outsider so far, is picking up speed.  Around 1000MW of bids were received for the French governments 500MW offshore wind programme- four in the English Channel, six off the Atlantic coast and one in the med.

China good for wind

Greenpeace, the European Wind Energy Association and the Chinese Renewable Energy Industry Association are backing wind power as a key energy option for China, as they have outlined in their report ‘Wind Force 12 - China’. At the international renewables conference in Bonn last June, the groups pledged to assist China to ‘meet, if not exceed’  its targets for renewables. Yu Jie of Greenpeace commented “the whole world has a vested interest in helping China meet its development needs without further destabilising the climate.”

The Chinese government has a target of obtaining 12% of electricity from renewables by 2020, and a significant share of the new capacity will come from wind. ‘Wind Force 12 - China’ claims that the country could install 170 GW of wind capacity by 2020, displacing the emission of 325 mT of CO2 a year and creating hundreds of thousands of jobs.

‘European experience has shown that, with the right policy framework, wind energy can play a major role in China’s energy future,’  says Corin Millais of the EWEA.  ‘We believe there is a real potential for China to become a major player in the global wind power industry.’   For example, China is planning a 20MW wind farm off the coast of Guandong province in the South China Seas, with the help of German developer InfaVest.

According to ReFocus, the development of China’s new renewable energy law, which is expected to be finalized shortly, has generated great interest internationally. Li Junfeng of the Chinese Renewable Energy Industry Association commented China’s anticipated entry into  the global renewable energy market is expected to have a profound impact on the global industry. We have spent a lot of time and energy learning from the successes and failures of our partners in Europe and around the world. We believe that this law can start a renewable energy revolution in China.” 


Development Funding Spreads

The government of El Salvador has signed an energy alliance with Finland to promote renewables, including seed funding of Euro 3m for feasibility studies for six small hydro projects, solar-powered irrigation, a solar refrigeration system for fish drying, studies into wind power, an environmental regulation system for geothermal projects, and the design of a tariff compensation fund for small-scale renewables projects.   Meanwhile, the State oil company Enap of Chile is negotiating with Enel of Italy to invest in three geothermal projects that would add 300 MW to grid capacity. And the Asian Development Bank is providing US$5.5m to Pakistan for studies of wind, solar and solar thermal potential.

But funding doesn’t always deliver. Since 1991, the Global Environmental Facility has provided grants of US$200m towards the total cost of $1.4 bn of PV projects with half the projects based in Africa.  But, according to ‘Solar Photovoltaics in Africa: Experiences with Financing & Delivery Models’ prepared by UNDP and the GEF, ‘Although there have been some successes in a variety of countries, a massive roll-out of PV systems into rural areas of Africa has not yet happened’.   Wisely it says success should be measured “not only in terms of how many systems are installed,  but in terms of how many systems are still working after ten years.

Australia stops wind

Australian scientists have developed an injection which reduces the amount of wind produced by sheep by 8%- methane released by their flatulence and belching accounts for 14% of the countries greenhouse gas emissions.

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