Germany will expand the energy capacity tendered in renewable power project auctions to help decarbonise electricity, and will relieve the burden on consumers by reducing a fee charged to support wind and solar operators, the government said on Thursday.
The coalition government, made up of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and Social Democrats, agreed on both measures to help achieve a 65% share of renewable sources within the power mix by 2030, versus just under 50% in 2020.
“I am very satisfied with the measures,” said Economy Ministry Peter Altmaier in a press webcast.
“We have agreed a massive tender volume.” Speeding up the momentum to meet climate goals within the European Union will be a major issue in Germany’s general election in September, and the Green Party is making quick gains in the polls.
Permitted new onshore wind power capacity will be raised to 4 gigawatts (GW) from 2.9 GW in 2022 tenders, and solar capacity to 6 GW from 2 GW, according to the agreement. Tender volumes that are not used up in 2021 and 2022 will be more quickly readvertised, becoming available in the respective following year rather than in the third year after the initial offering.
The renewable power surcharge on consumers’ power bills will be cut to 5 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) in both 2023 and 2024 from the 6.5 cents/kwh applying to 2021 and 6.0 cents to 2022 under the renewable energy law (EEG). Altmaier reiterated his view that the EEG surcharge should be abolished altogether at some stage.
Thursday’s agreement also entailed easing taxation rules for solar rooftop installations and wallboxes for electric vehicle charging in private residences. It also provides for allocating some corporate tax revenues from wind power companies to municipalities to raise public acceptance for the industry.
Investment in green jobs could allow them to replace all those lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic in two years, according to research from Green New Deal UK.
The campaign group used statistics from the ONS, which showed that the number of job vacancies between January and March 2021 fell by almost 23% year on year. Estimates suggest there has been a decline of 813,000 payrolled employees in the 12 months to March 2021, with over 50% of these under 25.
Those permanently lost could be replaced by green jobs through government and private investment in green infrastructure, energy, research and development (R&D), digital infrastructure and social care across the UK.
This could lead to a net job gain of almost 240,000 over two years, creating over 1.2 million green jobs, and more than 2.7 million jobs over ten years Green New Deal UK suggested.
To bring jobs and investment back to every region of the UK, there needs to be a “comprehensive programme of government investment that drives forward our climate targets,” said Hannah Martin, co-executive director of Green New Deal UK.
“Having so many people out of work when there is so much work to do makes no sense. Tackling the climate crisis can create millions of good green jobs up and down the country and replace all the jobs lost to the pandemic within just two years. We must act now and use this crisis to build an economy that works for everyone.”
The research follows a report from the Trades Union Congress in March based on ONS data that suggested green jobs in the UK have fallen by as many as 30,000 since 2014.
UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea added to Green New Deal UK’s call for greater investment to spur on the green economy, saying it was “the best way to get the country back on its feet after the pandemic”.
The UK government will set the world’s most ambitious climate change target into law to reduce emissions by 78% by 2035 compared to 1990 levels, announced today (Tuesday 20 April).
In line with the recommendation from the independent Climate Change Committee, this sixth Carbon Budget limits the volume of greenhouse gases emitted over a 5-year period from 2033 to 2037, taking the UK more than three-quarters of the way to reaching net zero by 2050. The Carbon Budget will ensure Britain remains on track to end its contribution to climate change while remaining consistent with the Paris Agreement temperature goal to limit global warming to well below 2°C and pursue efforts towards 1.5°C.
For the first time, this Carbon Budget will incorporate the UK’s share of international aviation and shipping emissions – an important part of the government’s decarbonisation efforts that will allow for these emissions to be accounted for consistently.
This comes ahead of Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressing the opening session of the US Leaders’ Summit on Climate, hosted by President Biden on Earth Day (22 April). The Prime Minister will urge countries to raise ambition on tackling climate change and join the UK in setting stretching targets for reducing emissions by 2030 to align with net zero.
The government is already working towards its commitment to reduce emissions in 2030 by at least 68% compared to 1990 levels through the UK’s latest Nationally Determined Contribution – the highest reduction target made by a major economy to date. Today’s world-leading announcement builds on this goal to achieve a 78% reduction by 2035.
In response to the recent freeze-inspired power outages in Texas, some politicians blamed the historic blackouts on wind turbines. The dubious, and largely dismissed, claims nevertheless spotlighted an intriguing fact: Texas, the land made famous by oil derricks and wildcatters, now gets a significant portion of its electricity from clean, renewable sources, most notably wind, but also from water and solar – a troika of sustainability known collectively as WWS.
“Texas gets about 20 percent of its electricity from wind alone,” says Mark Z. Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University and senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, who is author of a new study appearing in the journal Smart Energy looking at the future of smart grids.
Jacobson used computer models to show that wind turbines, averaged over large regions, actually ramp up their power during cold snaps, when demand for home and business heating is the greatest.
Furthermore, he concludes that wind – when combined with solar and water power, various energy storage systems and incentives for people to shift the time of some of their electricity use – could meet not only all electricity needs worldwide, but all energy demand in total, every minute of such crises.
– The global transition to renewable energy will need artificial intelligence (AI) technology to manage decentralized grids.
– AI can balance electricity supply and demand needs in real-time, optimize energy use and storage to reduce rates.
– Technology governance will be needed to democratize access, encourage innovation and ensure resilient electricity sources.
One month after historic and deadly winter storms left millions of Texans without power, many energy experts, politicians and pundits have called for massive spending on grid-related infrastructure upgrades. Improvements to infrastructure in the US and elsewhere are long overdue, but it’s time to explore better options to ensure reliable, low-carbon electricity.
Calls for government spending on grid infrastructure to update long transmission lines from a centralized power generation source attempt to solve today’s problems using technology from the past. There is a better, more forward-looking alternative already in existence: Artificial Intelligence (AI) that leverages decentralized renewable generation sources.
With the help of AI software, decentralized energy sources can send any excess electricity they produce to the grid, while utilities direct that power to where it’s needed. Similarly, energy storage in industrial facilities, office buildings, homes, and cars can hold excess energy when demand is low, while AI deploys that power when generation is inadequate or impossible.
That’s a lot of moving parts requiring coordination, forecasting and optimization to keep the grid in balance. If you think of DERs as individual musicians, a utility is a conductor keeping the orchestra in sync as AI composes the symphony in real-time.
This makes an AI-centered system a potential game-changer. Shifting from an infrastructure heavy system to one centered on AI enables forecasting and control in seconds – not days – resulting in a grid that is more resilient and flexible when unforeseen events occur.
A team of researchers led by Aarhus University and including experts from universities and knowledge institutions in the US, Europe, Japan and Australia has published an article in the prestigious scientific journal Joule confirming that the role of solar photovoltaic installations in future green energy systems ought to be significantly upgraded.
Solar photovoltaic technology has undergone dramatic development over the past 14 years causing the technology to be cheaper already today than has otherwise been assumed in the models that the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) uses for its 2050 scenarios.
“And there is good reason to believe that this development will continue. Intensive research is being conducted into photovoltaic technology, its integration into energy systems, as well as its synergy with other industries. Furthermore, innovative technologies are on the way that could further boost this development.
“Therefore, we’re looking at a future where energy from solar cells is even cheaper than today. This fact doesn’t harmonize with the models behind political decisions about energy investments,” says Assistant Professor Marta Victoria from the Department of Mechanical and Production Engineering at Aarhus University, who is the leading author of the article.
The article examines why the integrated assessment models and partial equilibrium models used by the IPCC to form the basis for climate reports typically underestimate the role of solar photovoltaic installations in the energy systems of the future.
The UNFCCC has published the Initial NDC Synthesis Report, showing nations must redouble efforts and submit stronger, more ambitious national climate action plans in 2021 if they’re to achieve the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global temperature rise by 1.5°C by the end of the century.
UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, said: “2021 is a make or break year to confront the global climate emergency. The science is clear, to limit global temperature rise to 1.5C, we must cut global emissions by 45% by 2030 from 2010 levels.”
“Today’s interim report from the UNFCCC is a red alert for our planet. It shows governments are nowhere close to the level of ambition needed to limit climate change to 1.5 degrees and meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. The major emitters must step up with much more ambitious emissions reductions targets for 2030 in their Nationally Determined Contributions well before the November UN Climate Conference in Glasgow.”
BayWa r.e. and HeidelbergCement, one of the world’s leading vertically-integrated building construction materials companies, have signed a 10-year corporate Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) for the Witnica solar park in Poland.
As it is the first subsidy-free PPA-backed largescale solar park in Poland, this new partnership marks a new era of clean and sustainable corporate energy sourcing, with the potential of serving as a blueprint for more PPA structures in the region and beyond.
Contractual counterpart of the virtual PPA is Górazdze Cement S.A., Polish subsidiary of the HeidelbergCement Group. The agreement represents a significant step in HeidelbergCement’s road to carbon neutrality, as set out in its membership to the 50 Sustainability & Climate Leaders.
While much of the criticism surrounding the burning of fossil fuels focuses on the long term impacts to the health of the planet, it can also have devastating short-term effects on the health of the human population. A new study led by Harvard scientists has shed new light on the extent of this problem, finding air pollution arising from fossil fuels to be responsible for more than eight million deaths around the world in 2018.
The study was carried out in collaboration with scientists from the University of Birmingham, the University of Leicester and University College London (UCL), and focuses on a type of air pollution called particulate matter (PM) 2.5, which refers to very fine dust particles measuring less than 2.5 microns in size.
These can arise from a variety of sources including forest fires, the tailpipes of cars and trucks, and the burning of fossil fuels. Due to their tiny size, they can penetrate the lungs and blood stream and, through chronic exposure, lead to health issues such as asthma, lung cancer, coronary heart disease and stroke.
Two spacewalking astronauts began preparing the International Space Station (ISS) for new solar arrays on Sunday (Feb. 28), battling tough bolts to kick off a major power upgrade for the orbiting lab.
Expedition 64 flight engineers Kate Rubins and Victor Glover — both NASA astronauts — spent more than seven hours working outside the station during the spacewalk to install modification kits for the new solar arrays. They worked on the station’s portside edge to install a bracket and support struts on two mast canisters at the base of the outpost’s current solar wings there, but were only able to install one of the kits while assembling a second and storing it for later.
“They completed the construction of upper support hardware and secured it to the space station’s exterior structure until work can be completed on the next spacewalk on Friday, March 5,” NASA officials said in an update.
The ISS, parts of which have been in orbit since 1998, is getting ready for new solar panels. NASA says the oldest set of panels have been operating continuously since December 2000, and are still doing well despite their advertised 15-year service life. (The other pairs were delivered in September 2006, June 2007 and March 2009.) But the arrays don’t generate as much power as they used to, hence a series of spacewalks beginning now.
The new arrays will be smaller than the old ones due to advances in solar technology. They will be installed to roll out in front of the six current arrays, allowing the new installations to use the infrastructure already in place for the existing set, according to NASA. Boeing (the prime contractor for space station operations) will provide the arrays, with the help of its subsidiary Spectrolab and a major supplier, Deployable Space Systems.
Greek construction company and energy provider GEK Terna Holding Real Estate Construction has announced a plan to build three floating PV power plants with a combined capacity of 265 MW at three different water reservoirs in western Greece.
The three projects, which are to be located outside natural reserves, are expected to cost around €170 million, the company said in a statement.
One of the three projects, a 120 MW plant, is planned for the artificial reservoir of Kastraki, near the homonymous town in Aetolia-Acarnania. Furthermore, GEK Terna wants to build a 103 MW floating array on the water reservoir of Pournari, located on Arachthos River, and a 42 MW plant on an artificial lake near Stratos, which is also in Aetolia-Acarnania.
The next three years will be huge for utility renewables in Australia. Given the timeframes for financing, constructing and commissioning new plants, we expect all currently committed capacity to be fully online by the June 2024 quarter.
And that’s a lot of capacity. With 9.4 GW of projects either commissioning, being built or otherwise committed to construction, we expect fully operational wind and solar in the NEM to almost double from today’s level in three years.
Our commissioning forecast is hostage to a whole host of risks, but we expect new volumes hitting the market to average between 500 MW and 1 GW per month for the next two years before slowly tailing off as committed projects reach completion.
Wind projects dominate the volume of new committed project capacity coming online, at approximately double the amount of solar.
Danish energy firm Orsted is pushing ahead with plans to develop a demonstration project which will harness offshore wind energy to produce “green” hydrogen.
In an announcement Wednesday, the company said it had taken a final investment decision on the 2 megawatt (MW) H2RES scheme, which will be able to produce up to roughly 1,000 kilograms of renewable hydrogen per day.
Slated to generate its first hydrogen toward the end of this year, the project will be based at Orsted’s Avedøre Power Station, south of Copenhagen.
Orsted said H2RES would assess “how to best combine an electrolyser with the fluctuating power supply from offshore wind.” The power will come from two 3.6 MW turbines, with the hydrogen produced by the system providing fuel for road-based transport.
Hydrogen can be produced in a number of ways. One way includes using electrolysis, with an electric current splitting water into oxygen and hydrogen. If the electricity used in the process comes from a renewable source such as wind then it’s termed “green” or “renewable” hydrogen.
Governments across the world must significantly scale up climate adaptation measures to avoid major economic damage from global warming, according to the fifth edition of the UN Environment Programme Adaptation Gap report.
Nations must put half of all global climate financing towards adaptation in the next year in order to avoid the worst impact of climate change, according to the report published on Thursday. In 2020, the hottest year on record, on par with 2016, the world experienced record-breaking hurricanes and wildfires that continue to intensify as temperatures rise.
Such a commitment would include investing in nature-based solutions to mitigate climate change, such as practices like replanting trees on degraded land, sequestering more carbon in soil through agricultural practices and protecting forests through changing logging practices.
Nearly 75% of nations have adopted some form of climate adaption. But major gaps remain in financing for developing countries, which are most vulnerable to rising temperatures, as well as projects that have notably reduced climate risk, the report said.
The UN estimated that yearly climate adaption costs could reach between $140 billion and $300 billion by the end of the decade and between $280 billion and $500 billion by 2050, and concluded that global action is lagging far behind.
The green electricity comes from a portfolio of wind turbines with which Statkraft has concluded a power purchase agreement for the period after the expiry of EEG subsidies. The contract with Deutsche Bahn covers an expected generation of almost 40,000 MWh and ensures the economic continued operation of the plants.
On 31 December 2020, EEG subsidies expired for the first wind turbines in Germany after 20 years. The PPA between Statkraft and Deutsche Bahn not only ensures the continued economic operation of around 70 wind turbines without subsidies, but also supports Deutsche Bahn’s sustainability ambitions using green electricity.
“We are very pleased that the agreement with Deutsche Bahn has come about at this particular time. It proves that renewable energy plants whose subsidies have expired have an important role to play in decarbonizing the industry. Unlike the follow-up support decided in the EEG 2021, PPAs enable both a long-term price guarantee and the marketing of green added value,” says Patrick Koch, Statkraft’s Head of Origination in Germany.