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This week In #CleanTech September 10, 2017

Here is your weekly roundup of the unique, hottest stories related to cleantech, and climate policy for the week of September 10, 2017.

China and the United Kingdom (U.K.) announced this week they are collaborating on five next generation off shore renewable energy technologies (ORE).

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Offshore Wind Turbine via Pixabay by andreas160578. Under Public Domain via Creative Commons.

According to CNBC.com, both countries will work on five projects over three years which will focus on the challenges of developing ORE systems related to wind, tide, wave, and offshore energy.

Funded jointly by the U.K.-China Offshore Renewable Energy Program,  the partnership will also look at the social and economic benefits of ORE projects, including the possibilities for coastal communities of providing steady, clean power, CNBC notes.

“This £4 million investment will support collaborative research into the next generation of offshore technologies with one of our largest global trading partners, unlocking further opportunities for projects across the U.K. and the rest of the world,” said Richard Harrington, the United Kingdom’s Minister of Energy.

By announcing a collaboration with the U.K., shows China’s furthering strength of not only as a clean tech leader but also firming itself as a world political powerhouse. China leads in wind and solar installations and has committed to at least $360 billion in cleantech investments by 2020.

China also gains further a partner in developing its offshore renewable energy potential by teaming up with a country with offshore experience of the United Kingdom. The U.K. ranks as a leader in offshore wind power as they are an island country utilizes its offshore wind power. The U.K. accounts for just below 36% of all global offshore wind energy capacity, according to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC). Meanwhile, the UK also gains from China’s advanced knowledge of how to scale renewable energy projects, with its solar and wind power industries.

And in a week of collaboration announcements continues. Germany will be helping India with the integration of renewable power on the grid.

According to CleanTechnica.com, the European and Asian giants will work together under the Indo-German Energy Programme — Green Energy Corrido. GIZ, a German development organization, will help provide technical advice to regulators and agencies in India on fusing renewable energy into its current grid infrastructure.

It’s hoped the project will have by 2022 175GW of renewable energy capacity tied to the grid. Grid integration of renewable electricity has already become a challenge within the country. CleanTechnica.com notes developers of direct solar and wind power decrease generation when there is not sufficient transmission capacity on the grid. Direct revenue losses to project developers occur when this happens. India is going big on renewables including on solar, as they look to curb carbon emissions. CleanTechnica.com said India plans to install 100GW by 2022.

Have a question on cleantech or climate policy? Drop a line at salayconsulting@gmail.com or follow us on Twitter at @salayservices.

This week In #CleanTech August 20, 2017

Here is your weekly roundup of the unique, hottest stories related to cleantech, and climate policy for the week of August 20, 2017.

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Australia Flag via Pixabay By becca282bl. Under Public Domain via Creative Commons

Australia is getting a big boost in its wind energy capacity. According to Fortune, General Electric (GE) announced they would add a total of 123 turbines at a wind farm, 250 km north-west of Brisbane Australia. Currently, the plant has a capacity of 453MW. It will be the largest addition to Australia’s wind capacity, increasing it by 10%.

Fortune notes the project would potentially provide clean power for 260,000 homes, and slash carbon emissions by 1.18 million tonnes yearly.

It’s good news for Australia, who is gaining traction in renewable energy capacity. Australia has over 5.5GW in total solar capacity, according to the Australia Energy Council, while there has been 4.3GW of wind energy installed, according to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC). Australia is far behind other countries, including China, US, and Germany on wind power.

Austin, Texas raised the bar this week when it comes to being powered by clean power. City council approved a plan where city utility Austin Energy must have 65% of its power come from renewables by 2027, according to The Austin Monitor. Currently, Austin Energy was on track to reach its previous goal of 55% renewables by 2025. Approximately 32% of Austin’s energy is coming from clean energy sources.

There was a debate on what the updated goal should be, as some within the community wanted to have the city reach a 75% target by 2027.

However, after concerns were brought up a more ambitious goal in the short run would execute the risk of the city losing its utility in the future as many Republican state senators would like Austin energy privatized.

Austin, Texas, is one of the more liberal cities in Texas and is well-known for its South By South West festival, which discusses the hottest issues in technology, music, and culture.

Austin’s plan to increase its renewable energy sources is a very good move and showcases its tradition of being a progressive city, yet faces the challenges of being hamstrung by a state government who does not necessarily share its values.

And finally, check out my review of An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, where I go over the Al Gore’s sequel to the 2006 ground breaking documentary on climate change. I also review why the sequel has not reached the box office heights of its predecessor, thanks to a changing platform landscape.

Have a question on cleantech or climate policy? Drop a line at salayconsulting@gmail.com or follow us on Twitter at @salayservices.

The Art of the Global Climate Deal: Review- An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power

Synopsis: Al Gore returns with an update to  2006’s documentary, An Inconvenient Truth (AIT). An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power provides solid climate science, and a unique backstage pass of how global climate change political deals are done.

**** out of 5 stars

Its been eleven years since Al Gore’s ground breaking documentary on climate change, An Inconvenient Truth. It was released to critical acclaim and won Best Documentary at the 2006 Academy Awards and was a box office success, as Al Gore brought the issue of global warming to the public forefront.

Fast Forward to 2017, and we get An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power (AIS:TTP) Call it AIT 2.0. The movie provides a good mix of climate science, economics, and global politics, all wrapped in one basket. The documentary gives a backstage pass of high stakes climate policy poker at the maximum level, which provides extra documentary value for the viewer.

This is what sells AIS:TTP as a compelling well thought out documentary. AIS:TTP has a balanced mix of showing the science of climate change, and its effects and tying it into the recent clean technology trends.

The opening section has Gore taking a jaw dropping trip to Greenland to see the effects of climate change there, melting area ice glaciers. In one scene, you can see the glaciers, crumble faster than an imploded house, which you could have taken out of a 1980’s science fiction movie. However, this is happening now and not in some science fiction flick.

If that does not make you think something is wrong, the Gore’s slides showing the effects of climate change from extreme weather events will get you pondering why we are seeing more of these violent weather phenomena (ranging from dramatic floods in Louisiana to wildfires in Alberta). Gore gives you a “walk through the book of Revelations” as he genuinely puts it into perspective for the public to understand how we see climate change risks in 2017.

While AIS:TTP does show the severe risks society is facing with climate change, it also showcases the rapid rise of cleantech since the original film. I was pleased how there was a good discussion of how the economics of wind energy, electric vehicles, and especially solar power worked out since AIT. Gore hits the point home of how much the price of renewables has fallen, especially solar today (which has dropped from $77.00/watt forty years ago to around $0.55/watt)

This also plays a critical aspect behind the second point of why this documentary works: AIS:TTP gives you a front-row access to the challenges, and deals behind the Paris climate agreement and how renewable energy policy plays a significant role in this deal. I appreciated how the films show you, as a viewer, of not only how the dynamics of global politics play out in the 21st century, but also how technology is attempting to bridge the gap for infrastructure for developing countries, including India. Consider India ranked fourth in global carbon emissions in the world, and is a rapidly growing player in the global economy. This leads to the film dynamic of India arguing they need to advance their economy to improve their citizen’s lives. Even if it means using fossil fuels, as Gore works feverishly in the lead up and during the COP21 in Paris to find a way to get India on side in signing onto the Paris agreement. Directors Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk do an excellent job of not letting any stone unturned in the behind the scenes political dealings, and the aftermath of the Paris climate agreement. It gives viewers in understanding the scope and scale of how political deals not only work, but the importance in an era of Trump and anti global sentiment, of why building global political capital is critical, especially in the 21st Century.

While AIS:TTP is very strong, the only down point of this film was at times it felt like an update, rather than something new. AIS:TTP does a good job on updating info about the science, risks related to climate change, and the economic benefits of falling cleantech prices. That is what any good updates should do, is provide the public with the most up to date information for them to make educated decisions on the main issues which will affect their livelihoods.

That is what you I guess you should expect from sequels to documentaries: Good solid updated information, but nothing earth shattering. This is why its hard for sequels to documentaries to be wildly successful. That lies part of the challenge why AIS:TTP has not done so well, compared to the original, where AIT made $50 USD million. This film will not even come close to making what the original did.

Another reason why AIS:TTP has been lackluster at the box office has been Paramount Pictures having it in limited release for opening weekend, then only adding a few selected theatres the week after. In Winnipeg, it did not open up on August 4th, but rather the next week August 11th. There has been disappointment amongst environmentalists on the lackadaisical promotional strategy by Paramount Pictures.

Third, and the primary reason why AIS:TTP has not done as well is that there are much more options in distributing and seeing films. Although in 2006, when AIT came out the Internet was around, there were not as many streaming options as there is in 2017. Today, in an age of Netflix, there are so many ways to distribute a film, including digital download, Blu-Ray, DVD, and streaming services. Factor in going to see a movie cost around $10.00 and you wonder if it’s not just  AIS:TTP, but documentaries in general, which could be more suited for these different distribution platforms, and achieve a high reach of engaged viewers. Look for example the critically acclaimed documentary, Sons of Ben, which focuses on the rise the soccer supporters group, which played a critical role in landing the Philadelphia Union in Major League Soccer. It gained critical acclaim while reaching a wide audience amongst both the soccer community and public.

Despite these challenges, AIS:TTP is a definite must-see in a year of weak movies (Besides Dunkirk). A likely Best Documentary contender at Academy Awards time. Go see This film. Not only to be inspired by the rise of the sustainability revolution through the sharp price drops in renewable energy, not only for the updates on the increased risks of climate change towards society, but go see it for the most important part: Go to it for The Art of The Global Climate Deal. This will be the invaluable lesson you will get, and ensure we strive to limit the worst impacts of climate change, while we help developing nations leap-frog past their dirty fossil fuel infrastructure.

 

This Week in #CleanTech- July 9, 2017

Welcome to the first of what were some of the hottest, most interesting stories related to cleantech, and climate policy. This column will appear at the end of the week.

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Image Credit via Pixabay. Under Public Domain Via Creative Commons

France this week announced they were banning the sale of combustible engine vehicles by 2040. Germany and had followed suit last year, banning sales of gas and diesel cars by 2030, and, while Norway is targeting for zero emission cars by 2025. No word if Canada or the United States plan to do likewise anytime soon, and its very unlikely this will occur. However, anything is possible given a study last year points to 2025 were all vehicles sold will be electric, and this year seems its electric vehicle’s (EV’s) watershed moment, with all these news stories that keep occurring.

Tesla announced this week it’s building the world’s largest lithium-ion battery storage facility. According to TechCrunch.com, the plant will be completed by December 2017 at Australia’s Hornsdale Wind farm. Tesla Commercial battery storage PowerPack will store total capacity of 100 MW/129 MWh, while capture the wind power during high points of the day and use when necessary. Tesla revealed its PowerWall for residential consumers, and PowerPack for commercial users, to revolutionize the battery storage market, which is critical for resolving intermittency problems with the wind and solar power.

Minnesota gave its blessing to Xcel Energy for the largest expansion of wind energy in the north US MidWest. According to Electric, Lights & Power, Xcel plans to build a total of 1,550 MW of new wind farms across North, South Dakota, and Minnesota by 2020. Xcel will own 1,150 MW, while the remaining 400 MW will be bought by Xcel, thanks to long-term Power Purchasing Agreements (PPA).  When completed in three years, the 1550 MW of wind power will provide 800,000 homes with a clean energy source. Currently, Minnesota ranks sixth overall in the US installed wind capacity with 3,499 MW, while North Dakota has 2,846 MW, and, South Dakota with 977 MW, according to American Wind Energy Association.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu declared on Thursday his city has more at stake than any other city in the world when it comes to climate change. Climate Progress notes the mayor released a climate policy plan which targets eliminating its cities carbon emissions in half by 2030. Twelve years ago, category three storm Hurricane Katrina pounded New Orleans and cost insurance $41.7 billion USD. The storm also kickstarted a serious discussion between extreme weather events and climate change in North America.

And finally, in the cute story of the week, China Merchants New Energy Group decided to uniquely design their latest solar farm in Datong China, to look like a panda. Business Insider said the cleantech firm plans to build more panda style solar farms, like the 248-acre one just built.

What did you think was the biggest or unique story in the cleantech world? was there anything missing from this list. Feel free to reach out. Follow us on Twitter at @salayservices, or by email at salayconsulting@gmail.com

Analysis: REthinking 2017 Accelerating the Global Energy Transformation

Reports are key indicators of where modern trends are going. That’s especially true with developing industries like renewable energy. Report after report have only confirmed renewable energy is shaking up traditional energy markets.

The International Renewable Energy Association’s (IRENA) REthinking Energy: Accelerating the Global Energy Transformation confirms these trends. IRENA recently released their findings in energy and policy development.

According to the report, global solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity reached 219 gigawatts (GW) in 2015, more than five times the capacity in 2010 (40 GW). This trend is expected to continue with new global PV capacity in 2017 supposed to reach 79 GW, according to an IHS technology report. By 2030, solar PV capacity could account for 7% of total global power generation.

What’s been helpful for solar energies rise to the top has been sharp declines in prices. In many countries, solar prices have reached new lows, according to IRENA. Solar energy is now cheaper than fossil fuels in many nations. Solar PV prices have fallen by 80% since 2009, said IRENA.

Wind power is also strong. Currently according to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), global capacity reached 432.33 GW in 2015, 63.48 GW more than from in 2014.

IRENA said wind turbines prices have fallen by one-third since 2009. Even without government support, onshore wind farms are cost competitive or less than gas-fired power plants, oil, or coal, according to IRENA.

Falling prices in both wind and solar have not only increased capacity but investment, as these two technologies captured a whopping 90% of 2015 global renewable energy investments.

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Photo Credit via Pixabay by Steppinstars. Under Public Domain by the Creative Commons.

While the wind and solar power’s growing energy prowess is necessary, battery storage units, which can store both these technologies when needed during non-peak periods will play a critical role going forward. By 2020, IRENA expects this growing market to reach USD $14 billion, up from USD $2.2 billion in 2015. Falling lithium-ion battery costs, along with Tesla’s Powerwall are giving glimpses of its potential. By 2030, IRENA projects battery storage for electricity could reach 250 GW, nearly 250 times more than currently.

Policy-wise, the move towards cleaner sources of energy is helping move nations in the right direction. Currently, 170 countries have created renewable energy targets, while 150 have a policy in place to boost renewable energy investments, IRENA said.

This strong support by countries overwhelmingly to transition to renewable energy has seen strong global investments this century. In 2004, this figure was USD $50 billion. In 2015, renewable energy investment reached a record USD $348 billion.

Emerging market countries including China and India have been serious players. China recently has said they are committed to spending USD $361 billion through 2020 on renewables. Meanwhile, accounting firm Ernst & Young’s 2016 report pointed to developing nations including Egypt, Mexico, and Chile are becoming hotspots for renewable energy investors compared to European markets.

There will be challenges, including the new US administration lead by Donald Trump who has vowed cut backs in renewable energy investments and may pull out of the Paris climate accord.

However, countries, including China are promising to pick up the slack and pull away in the cleantech race.

IRENA’s analysis of the cleantech market proves renewable energy on the global level, will only become more competitive and transform energy markets.

To read IRENA’s full report, view here.

 

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