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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World’s first Clean Energy Ministerial launched to accelerate transition

» By | Published 27 Jul 2010 |

While the proposed US climate change bill designed to cap carbon emissions has now floundered before reluctant politicians in the Senate, Energy Secretary Steven Chu has announced that the nation is helping launch 11 international clean energy initiatives, including one dealing with wind power.

At the world’s first Clean Energy Ministerial, attended by 24 countries representing more than 80% of global energy consumption and a similar percentage of the global market for clean energy technologies, policy makers were told last week in Washington that the initiatives would eliminate the need to build more than 500 mid-sized fossil fuel power plants world-wide in the next 20 years.

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Global wind power and other renewables about to surpass fossil fuels

» By | Published 22 Jul 2010 |

Chris Rose

Wind power got another strong vote of confidence last week when the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the Renewable Energy Policy Network (REN21) jointly issued reports saying supplies of new green electricity capacity should overtake fossil fuels later this year or in 2011.

The reports noted that in 2009, for the second year in a row, both Europe and the US added more power capacity from renewable sources such as wind and solar than conventional sources like coal, gas and nuclear. According to a press release, renewables accounted for 60% of newly installed capacity in Europe and more than 50% in the US.

“Globally, nearly 80 GW of renewable power capacity was added in 2009, including 31 GW of hydro and 48 GW of non-hydro capacity. This combined renewables figure is now closing in on the 83GW of fossil-fuel, thermal capacity installed in the same year,” the press release said.
“If the trend continues, then 2010 or 2011 could be the first year that new capacity added in low carbon power exceeds that in fossil-fuel stations.”

The press release said wind was even more dominant as a destination for investment in 2009 than 2008.

“In 2008, it accounted for $59 billion or 45 [%] of all financial investment in sustainable energy; in 2009, it accounted for $67 billion and its share rose to 56 [%].”

Wind power additions reached a record high of 38 GW last year, the release noted, adding the emissions-free generating technology now exists in more than 82 nations.

UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said 2009 was a year of resilience, frustration and determination for sustainable energy investment.
“Resilience to the financial downturn that was hitting all sectors of the global economy and frustration that, while the UN climate convention meeting in Copenhagen was not the big breakdown that might have occurred, neither was it the big breakthrough so many had hoped for,” the release quoted Steiner saying. “Yet there was determination on the part of many industry actors and governments, especially in rapidly developing economies, to transform the financial and economic crisis into an opportunity for greener growth.”

Mohamed El-Ashry, Chair of REN21, was quoted saying favorable policies in more than 100 nations played a critical role in the recent strength of global renewable energy investments recently. “For the upward trend of renewable energy growth to continue, policy efforts now need to be taken to the next level and encourage a massive scale up of renewable technologies.” El-Ashry said.

Do you think we’re about to reach a global green energy tipping point, where wind and other renewables will soon supply more new electricity than fossil fuels? Join in the discussion by commenting below.

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Students in Texas enjoyed learning about the many benefits of wind power

» By | Published 18 Jun 2010 |

About 50 junior school children from Grand Prairie, Texas who completed a two-week course on wind power learned about Global Wind Day, turbines and offshore wind farms, according to Kyle Damon, who organised the unique program.

Damon, a science and technology facilitator at David Daniels Elementary, said the students who were between 8 and 10 years old used reading, writing, mathematics and science to understand wind power.

“It was everything wind,” Damon said in a telephone interview with the European Wind Energy Association. “Everyone enjoyed it.”
The students learned about the history of wind, the power-generating industry, turbines and pitch, he said, adding one group of students even built a model offshore wind farm in a tray of water.

“The kids loved [the course] and the teachers had fun with it.” Damon said the idea for the course came about because the wind power sector is becoming such a large industry in Texas.

Earlier in the week, Global Wind Day was promoted by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) which urged citizens to lobby Congress to pass a “Renewable Electricity Standard” as a way of attracting the investment required to continue the growth in wind power and other renewable energies.

Among other Global Wind Day-related events, AWEA highlighted five highly beneficial facts that wind power offers the US, which is, after China, the second largest emitter of greenhouse gasses from burning fossil fuels.

“Global Wind Day is a great opportunity to underscore that wind works because it is vital to our nation’s economic, energy, and environmental security,” Denise Bode, AWEA CEO said in a press release. “With our ‘Five Wind Facts,’ we hope to encourage more citizens to get involved in the campaign to increase America’s use of wind energy, and to call on Congress to pass a strong national Renewable Electricity Standard as part of energy and climate legislation.”

The association noted that wind power creates a significant number of new jobs, offers financial help to farmers and rural communities, provides long-term stable electricity prices for consumers, is an inexhaustible and reliable generation source, and mitigates environmental degradation by reducing greenhouse gasses caused by destructive fossil fuels.

According to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), the US wind power sector installed nearly 10,000 megawatts (MW) of new generating capacity in 2009, enough to serve over 2.4 million average American homes. The 9,996 MW installed last year expanded the US wind plant fleet by 39% and brought total wind power generating capacity in the nation to over 35,000 MW.

GWEC also notes that wind energy is now operating in 36 of the 50 US states, with Texas the leader with more than 9,000 MW of total installed capacity.

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Save the planet by selling a wind turbine

» By | Published 03 Jun 2010 |

You have to think that the wind energy industry has entered a new level of public acceptance when a popular American company which specialises in financial information publishes a story promoting the environmental and economic benefits of the emissions-free sector.

In a story headlined “5 green jobs for saving the planet,” Bankrate, Inc. says becoming a wind power salesperson is increasingly appealing to many people, especially considering that the Internal Revenue Service provides tax credits for up to 30% of renewable energy systems.

“Most people want to go green. But if you are going green and saving money at the same time, it’s a really good incentive,” says Loree Long in the story by Bankrate, which describes itself as the Web’s leading aggregator of financial rate information. According to the story, Long, co-owner of wind-turbine sales company Win-Gen Power in Weatherford, Texas, says she and husband Ted, who have installed a wind turbine on their own property, sell an average of one system per month.

The other green jobs identified as helping to save the planet include being a green teacher, a green civil and/or mechanical engineer, a home energy auditor, and a weatherization expert.

“At a time when many career paths seem to be losing ground, green jobs seem to be on the upswing,” the story notes, adding a study released last year by the U.S. Green Building Council estimates that environmentally-friendly construction projects will add 7.9 million green jobs and $554 billion to the American economy by 2012.

Long’s story is yet again more proof that the global wind power industry is reaching new levels of popularity because it can simultaneously provide increasing amounts of green electricity for a growing world, provide tens of thousands of well-paying new jobs and help mitigate environmental damage caused by burning fossil fuels.

Taken together, wind power is indeed helping to save the planet.

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