Growing demand for smart meters signals more flexible future power system

» By | Published 09 Aug 2010 |

A just published report by Greenbang, covered by the Financial Times Energy Source blog, reveals that the market for ‘smart’ electricity in Europe is “set to expand rapidly in coming years” as more and more renewable energy comes online, government initiatives kick-in and overall demand for energy grows.

According to the report, up to 145 million new smart meters will be installed by the end of 2020 with Germany, the UK, Poland, France and Spain leading the way in a market that could be worth $25 billion by 2020. The EU has recently set the objective of installing smart meters in 80% of households across Europe by 2020.

Renewable energies like wind power are variable in nature, and smart management techniques help make their integration into the electricity system more cost-effective. A smart meter device in the home would notify users when electricity demand is high, and when electricity prices are higher, allowing them to switch off devices that do not need continuous electricity such as freezers, or to put the washing machine on at a cheaper time of day.

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Early and strong emission reductions are crucial

» By | Published 06 Aug 2010 |

A new report has found that, in the long term, we can limit the global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. While this may make it sound like we are on the right path to preventing dangerous climate change – scientists say the rise should be kept to below 2°C – the emphasis on the ‘long term’ slightly distorts the picture since long term refers to the period after the year 2100.

More importantly we should note that the report, published by the Met Office Hadley Centre, the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy, says while we can achieve a 1.5°C rise, this is highly likely to involve “temporarily overshooting the temperature goal for up to 100 years”.

Rémi Gruet, Regulatory Affairs Advisor for EWEA, explains that such an overshoot could trigger the melting of permafrost soils: “Thawing soils would release methane – a gas more than 20 times more harmful to the climate than CO2,” Gruet says.

What we need now are early and strong emission reductions, he says; an opinion backed up by the report. To avoid the temperature overshoot, emissions reductions must begin now with the technologies we have available and are proven to work.

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Wind power an overwhelming favourite amongst residents of Ontario

» By | Published 05 Aug 2010 |

The growing wind power industry in Canada’s most populated province is both highly regarded and hugely supported, a recent public opinion poll has revealed.

The poll, conducted by Ipsos Reid for the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) found almost nine in 10 Ontario residents support wind energy for its economic and environmental benefits.

Sean Simpson of Ipsos Reid said the poll indicated 89% of Ontario residents either strongly supported or somewhat supported wind energy in their region of the province.

“Most also agreed (86%) that their municipal government should encourage and facilitate wind energy development, while a similarly high percentage (85%) believe wind energy can provide economic opportunities and benefits,” Simpson said in a CanWEA press release.

Ontario, which has a population of more than 12 million people, is the second largest province in the nation, covering one million square kilometres. About one-third of Canadians live in Ontario.

CanWEA President Robert Hornung said the poll, which interviewed a sample of 1,361 adults living in Ontario, suggests wind power is popular across the province, regardless of where people live.

“Those polled clearly believe that wind energy not only brings environmental benefits but it can also play a vital role in spurring local and regional economic development,” Hornung said. “There is much to be optimistic about wind’s future in the province, and the poll reflects the fact that Ontario citizens believe in the promise of this growing industry.”

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Expansion in renewables good for Europe’s climate and competitiveness

» By | Published 04 Aug 2010 |

Europe’s renewable energy landscape, already expanding steadily, is readying itself for further growth. At the end of June this year all 27 member states were set to hand-in their National Renewable Energy Action Plans (NREAPs) containing the steps they will take to reach their ambitious renewable energy targets by 2020.  While these plans are still being analysed, it is clear that the NREAPs are a good thing for the renewables sector and protecting our increasingly fragile climate.

Speaking at a Friends of Europe debate, Adam Brown, Senior Energy Analyst at the International Energy Agency (IEA) said: “The IEA’s view is that a huge expansion in renewables is essential to get anywhere near the energy mix which will allow the climate to be managed in a sensible way.”

But it’s not just the climate that will benefit from the renewable expansion that the NREAPs will encourage: Europe can work for its own competitive interests. Philip Lowe, European Commission Director General for Energy, told Europe to “think about developing renewables not just in terms of climate change but also as just plain and simple self-interest in competitive global markets.”

This fact is evident in the wind power sector where, if Europe does not invest in keeping its position as world market leader now, countries like China could step in and overtake Europe’s longstanding lead.

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Stunningly massive wind farm project given green light in US

» By | Published 03 Aug 2010 |

Plans to build the largest wind farm in the US, and possibly the world, took off last week with an announcement that financing worth $1.2 billion had been arranged for four of five initial phases of the ambitious project.

In announcing the deal, Terra-Gen Power said phases two through five of the Alta Wind Energy Center (AWEC) in Kern County, California would generate a total of 570 megawatts of capacity. Construction on phase one of the project, which is expected to generate 150 MW and required $394 million in financing, began in March.

Located in the Mojave Desert about 120 kilometres north of Los Angeles, the AWEC is, with more expansion in the future, potentially a 3,000-MW wind power development initiative.

A Terra-Gen press release said the AWEC project is underpinned by a 1,550 MW power purchase agreement to sell clean, renewable energy to Southern California Edison.

Jim Pagano, CEO of Terra-Gen, said the project will help the US advance its goal of achieving energy independence in an environmentally responsible manner. “The Alta projects I-V will create more than 1,500 domestic manufacturing, construction and operation and maintenance jobs, and inject more than $600 million into the local economy,” Pagnao added.

Last week’s announcement also caught the attention of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has increasingly become a fan of wind energy and other renewables. “Having the world’s largest wind project break ground in our state is tangible evidence that our pioneering policies are drawing investment, improving the economy and creating jobs now when we need them most,” Schwarzenegger said.

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