So long fossil fuels, hello wind power, solar and water

» By | Published 01 Feb 2011 |

For wind energy aficionados, one of the most interesting stories to make its way across the internet last week involved an academic study claiming that the installation of 3.8 million 5 MW wind turbines could generate half the world’s power needs by 2030.

Published in the respected journal Energy Policy, and entitled ‘Providing all global energy with wind, water, and solar power,’ the study noted climate change, pollution, and energy insecurity are among the greatest problems of our time.

“Addressing them requires major changes in our energy infrastructure,” said the two California academics, Mark Z. Jacobson and Mark A. Delucchi. “Here, we analyse the feasibility of providing worldwide energy for all purposes (electric power, transportation, heating/cooling, etc.) from wind, water, and sunlight (WWS).”


Britain proposes its electricity market be radically reformed

» By | Published 17 Dec 2010 |

The growing wind power sector is expected to play a pivotal role in an ambitious plan launched Thursday by the UK government to overhaul the nation’s antiquated and overburdened electricity market.

The announcement noted current arrangements have to be reformed to allow equal access to the electricity market for wind power and other renewable electricity technologies.

A government press release said the Department of Energy and Climate Change and the Treasury together have started consultations on fundamental reforms to the electricity market to ensure the UK can meet its climate goals and have a secure, affordable supply of electricity in the long term.


Offshore and onshore grids planning takes centre stage at Berlin conference

» By | Published 24 Nov 2010 |

Although still in its infancy, the idea of a future offshore North Sea supergrid might benefit by experiencing regulated financing through national transmission tariffs as well as having a single planner, code, and regulator.

Those are some of the preliminary answers that the Friends of the Supergrid (FOSG) have raised to deal with important issues that still need to be addressed, people attending the Grids 2010 conference in Berlin were told today.

Ana Aguado, the Chief Executive Officer of FOSG, said during a conference session called “Planning a North Sea Supergrid” that the creation of such an entity also needs to have an efficient supply chain and an adequate number of properly trained workers.


Turning away from coal, Navajos embrace wind power

» By | Published 28 Oct 2010 |

A number of prominent members of the Navajo Nation, the largest tribe in the US,  are beginning to advocate that economic activity created by wind power and other renewables should begin replacing coal mining on the band’s huge reservation, according to The New York Times.

Carrying the headline “Navajos Hope to Shift From Coal to Wind and Sun”, the NYT story also said that people are increasingly wondering about health and environmental concerns caused by coal mining and coal-fired power plants on the reservation that sprawls across parts of New Mexico, Utah and Arizona.

Published on Monday, the article noted some of the 300,000 people in the Navajo Nation — which covers about 70,000 square kilometers — are now speaking out against the smog, soot, water pollution and health problems long associated with the coal industry.


Meeting our 100% renewables by 2050 target

» By | Published 26 Apr 2010 |

If we are to achieve 100% renewables by 2050, as I argued in my previous blog post that we can and we should, there are two major issues that we have to recognise and start acting. Firstly, no more fossil fuel burning plants should be built after 2020 given the long life of such power stations. Secondly, we must use the next ten years to completely overhaul the way electricity is produced, transmitted and consumed in Europe.

The fact is that Europe’s current electricity supply structure bears the characteristics of the time in which it was developed, a time when fossil fuels and then nuclear were everything. It is constructed within national boundaries, the markets supporting it are underdeveloped and it is now ageing. Given the international nature of the energy challenges that the EU is facing, it is disappointing that we still do not have an internal market for electricity. We need urgently to establish the free movement of energy in Europe.

“We must use the next ten years to completely overhaul the way electricity is produced, transmitted and consumed in Europe.”

Climate change, depleting indigenous energy resources, increasing fuel costs and the threat of supply disruptions are washing up on our shores. Over the next 12 years, 360 GW of new electricity capacity – 50% of current EU capacity – needs to be built to replace ageing power plants and meet the expected increase in demand.

Europe must use this opportunity to construct a new, modern power system capable of meeting the energy and climate challenges of the 21st century, while enhancing Europe’s competitiveness. The power system must be supported by modern infrastructure technology, research and development and well functioning markets for electricity and transmission in which investors, rather than consumers, are exposed to carbon and fuel price risk.

Next year is critical for the EU to prove it is up to the challenge. In 2011, the European Commission will set out its proposals for the 2014-2020 budget which must reflect these new priorities. The budget must include investment in upgraded, extended and interconnected grids, and more R&D in wind technology. During the same year, ENTSO-E, the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity, will set out what will be built in terms of grids until 2022. We are looking forward to the proof that the EU is truly committed to tackling climate change by bringing large amounts of renewable energy online.