Renew On Line (UK) number 72

Extracts from NATTA's journal
Renew, Issue 172 Mar/Apr2008
   Welcome   Archives   Bulletin         


1. Big UK wind push

2. Zero Carbon Buildings

3. Nuclear Decision

4. Energy Policy developments

5. Tory Green Energy Promises

6. Brown on Energy...and Climate

7. Biofuels and biomass get going

8. EU News: REFIT spreads

9. Global News: Climate High, Bali Low

10. World Round up: Oz, NZ, Canada try

11. Nuclear news: US and UK plans

10 World Round up

Canada gets moving
Canada is at long last getting to grips with wind power. As Windpower Monthly reported in Sept, ‘from a position perpetually at the starting gate, the country has become a front runner, with 1590 MW in the ground, at least another 7000 MW in view, and nearly 3000 MW of that already building or contracted.’ It added that in the past 18 months nearly 1GW of wind capacity was installed. It says the catalyst for market growth was the introduction of a flat rate wind power production incentive in 2002, which provided a context for a range of initiatives by each province. It noted that, ‘in one of the biggest calls for wind capacity ever, the Ontario government wants to add an additional 2000MW of renewable energy to the province’s power grid from projects larger than 10 MW in size’, and said this ‘should take the pressure off a programme intended to support community development of small wind projects in the province, which offers a fixed premium price to generators. The program has been swamped by big companies edging small players out of the frame.’
Australia changes
Australia's new Labor Government started the Kyoto ratification process on taking office. Its election manifesto called for a 60% cut in emissions by 2050, and for renewables to supply 20% of power by 2020.

New Zealand - Carbon free ?
New Zealand wants to become the world’s first carbon neutral country. Among the recently announced targets, now to be legislated, is generating 90% of the country’s electricity from renewable sources by 2025- it’s at 65% at present. It wants its electricity sector to be entirely carbon neutral by 2025, followed by the stationary energy sector (coal and gas) in 2030 and the transport sector in 2040. It laid out a range of ways to achieve those targets, such a net increase in forest area of 250,000 hectares by 2020 and the wide use of electric cars. An emissions trading scheme is being introduced, initially covering forestry, followed by liquid fossil fuels in 2009, stationary energy and industrial emitters in 2010, and then agriculture in 2013- the big one given that it is responsible for nearly half of the country's emissions, thanks to methane emissions from cows and sheep.

China & India: Biofuels threat
Plans by China and India to increase biofuels production from irrigated maize and sugarcane could aggravate water shortages and undermine food output, according to the International Water Management Institute: ‘China and India, the world’s two largest producers and consumers of many agricultural commodities, already face severe water limitations in agricultural production. Domestic production of biofuels derived from crops will put greater stress on these countries’ water supplies, seriously undermining their ability to meet future food and feed demands.’
It said China aimed to quadruple biofuel output to around 15 billion litres by 2020, or 9% of the nation’s gasoline demand, and to achieve that goal, China would have to raise maize output by 26%. India was reviewing similar biofuel targets. The report suggested that alternatives to irrigated maize and sugarcane included developing new technologies that would exploit enzymes to break down cellulose, the woody walls of plants, into biofuels. In the shorter term, nations could also exploit dry land rain-fed crops such as sweet sorghum, Jatropha or Pongamia. That could help small-scale farmers and curb rural poverty.
The report said that it took 2,400 litres of irrigation water to produce one litre of ethanol from maize in China. For the same amount of ethanol from Indian sugarcane, 3,500 litres of water was needed. By contrast, it took just 90 litres of irrigation water to produce a litre of ethanol in Brazil from mainly rain-fed sugarcane. Outside India and China, the study said that biofuels would only have a “modest impact” on water use and food systems around the world. Biofuels now account for only about 2% of annual gasoline output. Source: Reuters
Korea will increase the use of renewables to 9% of total energy use by 2030. Foreign Minister Song Mins-oon made the commitment at the climate change conference in Washington (see previous page), noting that South Korea currently sources 2% of its total energy from renewables.

$454bn lost to war
According to Paul Gipe, the USA could now be generating up to 15% of its electricity supply if the direct costs of the Iraq war ($454 bn) had been invested instead in wind or solar energy. He says ‘had the United States invested in solar energy instead of war, the country would now be operating 45,000 MW of solar photovoltaics, 20 times that in Germany, the world’s leader. Similarly, had the United States chosen to install wind turbines instead, the country would be 225,000 MW of wind generating capacity, 20 times that currently installed in the country.’ More at:
US Senate flip flops
The US Senate has turned down the ‘national RPS’ renewables scheme, but has backed expanded ethanol production- 5 fold by 2022
US, Canada should copy EU

REFIT or bust
Writing in Proton International (8/8/07), N.American renewables lobbyist Paul Gipe called for a switch to Renewable Energy Feed In Tariffs, which are now widely used in most EU countries (see. p.1). ‘For nearly two decades North American renewables advocates have pushed net metering- the ability to run your kWh meter backwards. Net metering served a useful purpose in the dark days of the Reagan-Bush-Clinton era. Net metering then was a call to arms for hobbyists and guerrilla solar activists out to prove a point- solar works, your meter will run backwards, and the lights will stay on. But net metering was never intended to be a policy for the industrial development of renewable energy. It could not do that alone. Retail electricity prices in N America, especially in Canada, are abysmally- some would argue immorally low. Net metering was appealing because it rarely threatened entrenched electric utilities, and it gave politicians the perfect cover for appearing to take action on renewable energy, while doing nothing of substance.’
He went on ‘The time for half-measures, for timid responses like net metering, is past. The public, and now some progressive politicians as well, are demanding more aggressive policies. Some such as Michigan’s Kathleen Law are suggesting a full-scale renewable energy sources act with solar PV tariffs on a par with those of Europe. Al Gore, too, has joined the debate with his testimony on climate change. Before the US Congress, Gore called for a national law that permits homeowners and small businesses to sell their electricity to the grid “without any artificial caps”. He went further and specified that renewable generators should be paid a fixed price determined by the cost of generation.’
Net metering has it limits but South Australia has proposed a solar feed-in scheme under which consumers will receive 44 cents per kWh fed back to the grid- twice the standard retail price. Meanwhile, in the USA, California has now adopted a REFIT, with long term contracts with prices varying by the time of day for consumer projects up to 1.5 MW. And a bill for solar tariffs has been proposed in Hawaii. The state of Michigan is also considering adopting a full Feed Law for Solar & Biogas. Michigan is the home of United Solar Ovonic, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of thin-film solar cells. The Canadian province of Ontario launched a similar but less comprehensive programme in 2006, and Michigan’s proposed payments for solar are over 50% greater than the equivalents in Ontario, currently the highest in North America. Likewise, the proposed tariff for biogas is nearly a third greater than that in Ontario. The Michigan proposal also includes a geothermal tariff, a technology not covered by Ontario’s Standard Offer Contract programme. Michigan’s proposed tariffs are equivalent to those in Germany, and propose wind tariffs differentiated by wind resource intensity as in France.
The World Future Councils is a ‘Policy Action on Climate Toolkit’ to helps policy makers draft Feed-in laws

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