Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Clean energy for all

Clean energy for all Europeans package completed: good for consumers, good for growth and jobs, and good for the planet

The Council of ministers of the EU formally adopted four new pieces of EU legislation that redesign the EU electricity market to make it fit for the future. This concludes the remaining elements of the Clean energy for all Europeans package and represents a major step towards completing the Energy Union, delivering on the priorities of the Juncker Commission.
The gradual transition towards clean energy and a carbon-neutral economy is one of the greatest challenges of our time. The EU, in 2016, decided to tackle it by rewriting the EU’s energy policy framework to facilitate this clean and fair energy transition. By providing a modern, stable legal environment and setting a clear and common sense of direction, the EU can stimulate the necessary public and private investment and bring European added value by addressing these challenges together. As a package, the new rules will reinforce consumer rights, putting them at the heart of the energy transition; they will create growth and green jobs in a modern economy leaving no region and no citizen behind. They will enable the EU to show leadership in the fight against climate change following the Paris Agreement.
Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete said:

This is the most ambitious set of energy proposals ever presented by the European Commission. It has been adopted in record time with impressive support from the European Parliament and Council. With its completion, we have made the EU's Energy Union - one of the ten political priorities of the Juncker Commission – a reality. I truly believe it will accelerate the clean energy transition and give all Europeans access to secure, competitive and sustainable energy.
The Clean energy for all Europeans package sets the right balance between making decisions at EU, national, and local level. Member States will continue to choose their own energy mix, but must meet new commitments to improve energy efficiency and the take-up of renewables in that mix by 2030. For example, the new rules on the electricity market, which have been adopted today, will make it easier for renewable energy to be integrated into the grid, encourage more inter-connections and cross-border trade, and ensure that the market provides reliable signals for future investment. Today’s rules also require Member State to draft plans to prevent, prepare for and manage possible crisis situations in the supply of electricity in coordination with neighbouring Member States, and to enhance the role of the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER).
The EU was an early mover on clean energy: it was the first major power in the world to set, in 2009, ambitious energy and climate targets for 2020 (20% greenhouse gas emission reduction, 20% in renewable energy and 20% energy efficiency). Ten years later, the EU is broadly on track to achieve theses 2020 objectives, proving it is possible to reduce emissions and achieve GDP growth at the same time. In the meantime, renewable energy has become much cheaper. Moreover, with the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, the EU pledged to move further ahead and achieve greenhouse gas emission reductions of at least 40% by 2030. In order to respond to this challenge and continue to lead the global energy transition, the Commission proposed in 2016 a set of ambitious new rules called the “Clean Energy Package for all Europeans”. With this package the Commission addressed all 5 dimensions of the Energy Union (1) energy security; 2) the internal energy market; 3) energy efficiency; 4) decarbonisation of the economy; and 5) research, innovation and competitiveness.). It is composed primarily of the following elements:
  1. Energy efficiency first: the revamped directive on energy efficiency sets a new, higher target of energy use for 2030 of 32.5%, and the new Energy performance of buildings directive maximizes the energy saving potential of smarter and greener buildings.
  2. More renewables: an ambitious new target of at least 32% in renewable energy by 2030 has been fixed, with specific provisions to foster public and private investment, in order for the EU to maintain its global leadership on renewables.
  3. A better governance of the Energy Union: A new energy rulebook under which each Member State drafts National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs) for 2021-2030 setting out how to achieve their energy union targets, and in particular the 2030 targets on energy efficiency and renewable energy. These draft NECPs are currently being analysed by the Commission, with country-specific recommendations to be issued before the end of June.
  4. More rights for consumers: the new rules make it easier for individuals to produce, store or sell their own energy, and strengthen consumer rights with more transparency on bills, and greater choice flexibility.
  5. A smarter and more efficient electricity market: the new laws will increase security of supply by helping integrate renewables into the grid and manage risks, and by improving cross-border cooperation.
In addition to the legislative acts of the package, the Commission also proposed a number of non-legislative initiatives, in particular to ensure a fair and just transition where nobody and no region is left behind:
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Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Renewable energy today

Renewable Energy Now.

Environmental awareness is increasing, and according to a study carried out in late 2018, 73% of the United States thinks climate change is happening, while 62% of the country believes it is human caused. Electricity production across the world is undergoing change, and more investment is being made in innovation, manufacturing, and applications for clean-energy solutions.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, electricity generation in the United States in 2018 was 63.5% from fossil fuels, 19.3% from nuclear energy, and 17.1% from renewable energy sources. Among renewable energy, the main sources were 7% hydropower, 6.6% wind, and 1.6% solar power. Of fossil fuels, natural gas was at a record high of 35%, while coal saw an all-time post-WW2 record low of 27% in 2018.

The United States is currently one of the top three countries in the world in wind turbine production. There were one million solar installations in the United States in 2016, and this is expected to rise to two million in early 2019 and to four million solar installations by 2023. Both technologies are projected to grow and become more prevalent in U.S. electricity generation in the near future. The U.S. Department of Energy foresees a 10% increase in generation by solar power and a 12% increase in generation by wind power in 2019.  

There are three trends likely to impact the growth of renewable energy in the United States in 2019:

Emerging federal, state, and local political support: New local, state, and federal initiatives are receiving more attention and support. For instance, Hawaii and California have set the goal of 100% renewable energy by 2045, while over 200 mayors in the United States have established the objective of 100% renewable by 2035. New policies are expected to trigger further growth in wind and solar power.
Increase in investment: By the end of 2018, 156 global corporations — many based in the United States — have committed themselves to 100% renewable energy. Corporate procurement continues to increase, and asset management companies are collecting renewable energy portfolios. One example is Goldman Sachs, which has acquired 76 solar energy projects found on 143 sites. Investment in renewable energy in the United States exceeded $40 billion in both 2017 and 2018, and total private investment in renewable energy could reach a cumulative $1 trillion between 2018 and 2030.
Investment in technology is also on the rise, with advancements in technology bringing costs down. Research on solar and wind power are areas of interest, with more research via government investment on the horizon. The U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy budget was increased by 2% for 2019 to reach $2.38 billion by Congress.

Emerging policies, advancements in technology, increases in investment, and more social awareness will most likely cause an increase in renewable energy growth in 2019 in the United States. The decrease in renewable energy costs, in addition to favorable federal policies, are also likely to stimulate renewable demand.

In G20 countries, energy generation by fossil fuels costs between $0.05 and $0.17 per kilowatt-hour today. Renewable energy is expected to cost $0.03-$0.10 per kilowatt-hour by 2020, while the price of onshore wind power and solar photovoltaic projects could be as low as $0.03 per kilowatt-hour by 2019.

Renewable energy demand will expand opportunities; and although there is some political resistance, the general trend in the United States and worldwide is towards sustainability and renewable energy growth.

The decade-long trend of strong growth in renewable energy capacity continued in 2018 with global additions of 171 gigawatts (GW), according to new data released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) today. The annual increase of 7.9 per cent was bolstered by new additions from solar and wind energy, which accounted for 84 per cent of the growth. A third of global power capacity is now based on renewable energy.  

IRENA’s annual Renewable Capacity Statistics 2019, the most comprehensive, up-to-date and accessible figures on renewable energy capacity indicates  growth in all regions of the world, although at varying speeds. While Asia accounted for 61 per cent of total new renewable energy installations and grew installed renewables capacity by 11.4 per cent, growth was fastest in Oceania that witnessed a 17.7 per cent rise in 2018. Africa’s 8.4 per cent growth put it in third place just behind Asia. Nearly two-thirds of all new power generation capacity added in 2018 was from renewables, led by emerging and developing economies.

“Through its compelling business case, renewable energy has established itself as the technology of choice for new power generation capacity,” said IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin. “The strong growth in 2018 continues the remarkable trend of the last five years, which reflects an ongoing shift towards renewable power as the driver of global energy transformation.

“Renewable energy deployment needs to grow even faster, however, to ensure that we can achieve the global climate objectives and Sustainable Development Goals,” continued Mr. Amin. “Countries taking full advantage of their renewables potential will benefit from a host of socioeconomic benefits in addition to decarbonising their economies.”  

IRENA’s analysis also compared the growth in generation capacity of renewables versus non-renewable energy, mainly fossil-fuels and nuclear. While non-renewable generation capacity has decreased in Europe, North America and Oceania by about 85 GW since 2010, it has increased in both Asia and the Middle East over the same period. Since 2000, non-renewable generation capacity has expanded by about 115 GW per year (on average), with no discernible trend upwards or downwards.

Hydropower: Growth in hydro continued to slow in 2018, with only China adding a significant amount of new capacity in 2018 (+8.5 GW).

Wind energy: Global wind energy capacity increased by 49 GW in 2018. China and the USA continued to account for the greatest share of wind energy expansion, with increases of 20 GW and 7 GW respectively. Other countries expanding by more than 1 GW were: Brazil; France; Germany; India; and the UK.

Bioenergy: Three countries accounted for over half of the relatively low level of bioenergy capacity expansion in 2018. China increased capacity by 2 GW and India by 700 MW. Capacity also increased in the UK by 900 MW.

Solar energy: Solar energy capacity increased by 94 GW last year (+ 24 per cent). Asia continued to dominate global growth with a 64 GW increase (about 70% of the global expansion in 2018). Maintaining the trend from last year, China, India, Japan and Republic of Korea accounted for most of this. Other major increases were in the USA (+8.4 GW), Australia (+3.8 GW) and Germany (+3.6 GW). Other countries with significant expansions in 2018 included: Brazil; Egypt; Pakistan; Mexico, Turkey and the Netherlands.

Geothermal energy: Geothermal energy increased by 539 MW in 2018, with most of the expansion taking place in Turkey (+219 MW) and Indonesia (+137 MW), followed by the USA, Mexico and New Zealand.

Globally, total renewable energy generation capacity reached 2,351 GW at the end of last year – around a third of total installed electricity capacity. Hydropower accounts for the largest share with an installed capacity of 1 172 GW – around half of the total. Wind and solar energy account for most of the remainder with capacities of 564 GW and 480 GW respectively. Other renewables included 121 GW of bioenergy, 13 GW of geothermal energy and 500 MW of marine energy (tide, wave and ocean energy).

Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources (CCRES)