Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Renewable Energy Ukraine

Ukraine is carrying out reforms in an attempt to become more closely aligned with the European Union – but developing the country is almost impossible without sustainable economic growth and investments. Recent and upcoming changes will make Ukraine more attractive for investing.
Aссording to the data provided by the Ukraine's energy regulator, the National Energy and Utilities Regulatory Commission (NEURC), as of January 1, 2018, the cumulative installed capacity of renewables under the FIT (without those plants located in the territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea) totaled 1,374.7 MW, of which solar power plants accounted for ca. 55% (741.9 MW), and wind power plants, ca. 33.8% (465.1 MW).
In 2017 alone, 257 MW of the installed capacity of renewables under the FIT were operational, which is more than double the capacity put into operation in 2016 (ca. 127 MW), and eight times the capacity in 2015 (ca. 30 MW). The solar power plants put into operation in 2017 accounted for ca. 82% of the cumulative capacity of renewables under the FIT, while wind power plants accounted for ca. 10.6% of such cumulative capacity.

Year by year, the country is improving its position in the World Banks’ Doing Business ranking. Ukraine’s capital Kiev is on the top ten list of the cost-effective locations published by fDi Intelligence Magazine. So, investing in Ukraine’s economy is becoming increasingly appealing. Energy is among the most attractive options to invest in Ukraine. Until now, the only type of energy that saw foreign investments in Ukraine was renewable energy. Relatively high feed-in tariffs, calculated in euros and correspondingly protected from the risk deflation was the main reason for this. Other types of energy were not interesting for investors because of the absence of a developed energy market and because of strict government control and regulation. For instance, the government and the energy-regulating commission defined gas and electricity prices for final consumers. Obviously, energy prices, together with transparency and the predictability of the energy market’s environment define how profitable energy assets are, which include generating capacities and transmission lines. Correspondingly, all these determine investors’ interest. And these prices were not enough in Ukraine to justify investments towards upgrading the deteriorating energy infrastructure. Since Ukraine became independent, almost no new power plants were constructed, except for renewables. Given the absence of market pricing and the strength of government regulations, there is always a risk that that energy prices for the consumer will decrease to a level that will seriously affect how profitable investments are.
Since energy reforms started in Ukraine, after the 2014 revolution, some populist politicians have called to change electricity and gas pricing approaches in order to reduce prices. Clearly, this has not contributed to investors’ interest  No one wants to invest, knowing that some governmental body may change the pricing method and affect the profitability of investment. Hence, it is not surprising that no foreign investors have attempted to buy energy enterprises over the past few years. However, Ukraine’s energy sector is about to become significantly more attractive. On July 1, a new electricity market model will come in force. Two years ago, the Ukrainian parliament adopted the law that stipulated a new electricity market model similar to the one EU member states employ. It will finally enable integrating the Ukrainian power grid to the ENTSO-E.

There is still a debate if the country made all the necessary preparations to launch this new electricity market. But most experts, market actors and officials agree that it is more than possible to launch the market on time.Electricity market reform will help boost investment in the sector. According to an assessment by the Ukrainian Institute for the Future (UIF), published in a report on the outcomes of the electricity market reform, electricity-generating companies will be able to attract 11,5 times more investment compared to a no-reform scenario. There will be similar effects on electricity-distributing companies. On average, the reform will create demand for $3.66 billion of investments annually in electricity generation and distribution. The reform will give a boost to Ukraine’s economy more generally.

Change of the structure of the total final energy consumption and impact of energy efficiency according to the revolutionary scenario.
The gas market is another good opportunity for investment. According to BP Review, Ukraine holds the second-largest gas reserves in Europe.  And recent legislative changes to the start of the auctioning process for exploration and extraction have liberalised gas production regulation and will make the process more transparent. The gas market law was adopted in 2015. But there is still no fully liberalised gas market in Ukraine because of public service obligations (PSO) to provide affordable energy to households. These PSOs restrict the number of companies involved in selling gas to households. The PSOs will be eliminated after 2020. But that is not a restriction for investing in gas extraction in Ukraine. Importantly, investing in Ukraine’s energy is not only about Ukraine’s internal market, but also about huge opportunities for exports. Being close to the European Union opens opportunities to export energy to EU member states. These are deeply energy-dependent, in need of more energy and a more diverse energy supply. Conducting energy reforms and investments will boost Ukrainian energy exports to the EU. Estimates show the reform will result in boosting electricity exports to 25 billion kWh in 2030, compared to current 5 billion kWh. In the case of natural gas, developing of Ukraine’s gas production and trading may become a part of a geopolitical gamble. Several pieces of US legislation are aimed at protecting Ukrainian energy security. US support in the development of Ukraine’s energy exports will result in deepening interdependency with neighboring states and will contribute to regional stability. Finishing energy reforms with political and economic support from its main allies, primarily the USA, will strengthen Ukraine’s economics and boost energy exports. 
In Ukraine, there are already proposals to consider new approaches to selling electricity produced from RES, such as power sale auctions, which are increasingly coming into focus, or feed-in premiums. It can be foreseen that incentives for power production from RES will become more diversified in Ukraine in the years to come, and will not be solely limited to a FIT.

Expected greenhouse gas emissions in Ukraine under revolutionary scenario

The general consensus is that auctions or other novel structures – notwithstanding their being progressive, and matching objective global trends in the development of the renewable energy industry, or corresponding to technology maturity and cost – should be introduced gradually, so as not to undermine the stability, consistency and continuity of the regulatory framework in the country, and prevent any adverse effects on ongoing projects.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Waves to Water Prize

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) officially opened the first stage of the Waves to Water Prize, which seeks to accelerate the development of wave energy powered desalination systems and launch novel technologies to address critical water security challenges. The prize is divided into four stages, and the first concept stage is now open for applications through September 11, 2019.  
“The start of the Waves to Water Prize marks an important step toward driving growth and progress in the marine energy sector as well as spurring innovation to develop desalinization technologies that will have a global impact,” said U.S. Under Secretary of Energy Mark W. Menezes. “Supplying potable drinking water is a significant challenge in many parts of the world, and we have the opportunity to use the power of competition to find lasting solutions through the development of these two industries.”
The Waves to Water prize will offer competitors up to $2.5 million in prizes for winners to advance their solutions from concept, to technical design, to the building of a prototype, and culminate in an open water testing competition, where the systems will produce clean water using only waves as power sources. The initial concept stage has $200,000 in prizes, with up to $10,000 in funding for up to 20 winners. DOE is seeking interdisciplinary solutions that are modular and easily transportable, and ultimately can serve the clean water needs of remote communities or aid in disaster relief scenarios. More information on specific guidelines for submissions and rules of the competition can be found here.
The prize is the first to be launched by DOE under the White House-initiated Water Security Grand Challenge – a DOE-led framework to advance transformational technology and innovation to meet the global need for safe, secure, and affordable water.
The Waves to Water Prize is led by the EERE Water Power Technologies Office and administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory on the American Made Challenges platform. This prize builds on the success of DOE’s Wave Energy Prize, which catalyzed the development of technologies that doubled the energy captured from ocean waves.
The Water Security Grand Challenge is a White House initiated, U.S. Department of Energy led framework to advance transformational technology and innovation to meet the global need for safe, secure, and affordable water. Using a coordinated suite of prizes, competitions, early-stage research and development, and other programs, the Grand Challenge has set the following goals for the United States to reach by 2030:
Goal 1: Launch desalinaton technologies that deliver cost-competitive clean water
BACKGROUND – Over the next 10 years, 40 states expect water shortages in some areas. Cost-competitive desalination technologies can address water security and alleviate water stress by expanding alternative water resources, such as seawater, estuaries, brackish groundwater, and other sources.
CHALLENGE – Current technologies are energy intensive, with energy costs up to 10 times that of treating freshwater. Environmental issues, such as brine disposal, also pose a challenge.
OBJECTIVE – The Water Security Grand Challenge aims to address these barriers by accelerating research, development and deployment to decrease the cost of processed water, increase water supply resilience, and increase the access to low-cost water.  
Current and Recent Opportunities:
An illustration of a wave of water filling a glass with ocean waves in the background.
US Department of Energy
Goal 2: Transform the energy sector’s produced water from a waste to a resource
BACKGROUND – Produced water is a byproduct of oil and natural gas extraction, uranium mining, and carbon capture, utilization, and storage. In 2012, an estimated 21.2 billion barrels of produced water from oil and gas were generated in the United States.
CHALLENGE – The high cost of removing constituents specific to produced water can make it cheaper to dispose produced water than treat it. Even so, current disposal practices in oil and gas cost about $40 billion annually.
OBJECTIVE – The Water Security Grand Challenge aims to accelerate research, development and deployment of cost-effective treatment of produced water that can address water scarcity in water-stressed regions by creating alternative water sources for agricultural use, mineral extraction and processing, and other industrial operations, while creating new revenue for the extraction industry through water sales. 
Current and Recent Opportunities:
Fracking equipment in a field at daytime.
Goal 3: Achieve near-zero water impact for new thermoelectric power plants, and significantly lower freshwater use intensity within the existing fleet
BACKGROUND – Thermoelectric power plants utilize large volumes of freshwater for cooling operations. This water use accounts for about 40% of water withdrawals in the United States. Effluent water from thermoelectric power plants that is returned to its source can affect aquatic ecosystems if altering natural water temperatures and flows. Water that evaporates and is not returned to its source is considered consumed; this accounts for about 3% of U.S. water consumption.
CHALLENGE – The thermoelectric power sector’s reliance on water poses a risk in light of anticipated warming ambient temperatures, increased water stress, and more frequent extreme events like droughts. If improperly managed, the water demand of the thermoelectric power sector may limit water available to other uses, limiting economic growth of surrounding communities.
OBJECTIVE – The Water Security Grand Challenge aims to accelerate research, development and deployment of new technologies that lead to near-zero water impacts for newly built thermoelectric power plants along with significantly lower freshwater use intensity for existing thermoelectric power plants. 
Current and Recent Opportunities:
Steam emerges from three powerplant stacks.
Goal 4: Double resource recovery from municipal wastewater
BACKGROUND – Wastewater treatment plants purchase about $2 billion of electricity each year and face more than $200 billion in future capital investment needs to meet water quality objectives. This can constrain municipal budgets. For example, energy consumption at wastewater treatment plants can account for a third or more of municipal energy bills. Wastewater treatment plants can address these challenges by recovering critical resources and turning them into marketable products. This can create new revenue streams for upgrading water treatment infrastructure, particularly in rural communities, prevent nutrient pollution, and provide new sources of alternative water supplies. Recovered resources include energy that can be used on-site or sold, nutrients, such as phosphorous and nitrogen that can be used as fertilizer, and clean water that can be reused for agricultural, industrial, and potable purposes.
CHALLENGE – Energy costs are expected to increase over time and affect affordability of water for businesses and consumers. Disposal of residual biosolids from water treatment is another significant cost for municipalities.
OBJECTIVE – The Water Security Grand Challenge aims to pursue research, development, deployment and other opportunities to increase resource recovery. 
Current and Recent Opportunities:
U.S. map showing dots that indicate spatial and influent ranges of catalogued treatment plants.
Goal 5: Develop small, modular energy-water systems for urban, rural, tribal, national security, and disaster response settings
BACKGROUND – Small, modular energy and water systems have the potential to cost-effectively serve areas where energy and clean water are expensive and challenging to produce. Small, decentralized energy-water systems can also play an important role in serving the more than one billion people worldwide that currently lack access to reliable sources of electricity and water.
CHALLENGE – The ability to cost-effectively produce clean water for urban settings where population growth is occurring but central energy or water systems are nearing maximum capacity; for rural communities, including tribal regions where population levels cannot accommodate the economies of scale needed to make large systems viable; for military sites in remote areas without access to central electricity and water systems; and in areas impacted by disaster when storms and other events have knocked existing energy and water systems offline.
OBJECTIVE – The Water Security Grand Challenge aims to spur innovation needed to improve the cost-effectiveness of small, modular linked energy-water systems and test their performance for a range of applications.
Current and Recent Opportunities:

Sunday, June 9, 2019

CCRES hazelnut trees

Corylus avellana and potatoes from Lika region

Providing shade, which is helpful in cutting cooling costs, increasing property value and, of course, they yielding edible nuts. Many nut trees also continue to bear for decades, so the fruits of your labor can be enjoyed for generations.
However, one of the most common reasons people give for not considering nut trees as part of their edible landscape is time. Many nut trees bear within a few years after planting, but some do take longer.

Zeljko Serdar, CCRES TEAM

Because of their smaller size, Hazelnut trees are ideal nut trees for growers. These trees can be grown naturally as large shrubs with many trunks, or grown as small trees through selective pruning. Leaves of the hazelnut tree are a valued food source for wildlife, including several species of butterfly. Once mature, nuts will drop to the ground for harvest and require a drying period before consuming. Hazelnut kernels are eaten raw, roasted, or ground into paste. Hazelnuts contain significant amounts of protein, B-vitamins, and other minerals.

CCRES Growers of delicious and easy to grow fruiting plants, nuts, tubers, roots, seeds and perennial vegetables. 

An ongoing dialog among growers and the CCRES hazelnut research team has indicated that even as hazelnut trees are increasing in the numbers planted, the number of commercially viable cultivars is too narrow to sustain optimal production.

The hazelnut industry planted trees based on the commercially available cultivars, and the trees have grown well in Lika region. As these trees mature, the failure of some known pollinators has caused the CCRES research team and the industry to look more carefully at having diverse pollinator trees in the orchard from a strictly pragmatic point of view. However, the more important research need is to identify the pollination vector and method of pollination so that a more efficient methodology can be developed.

CCRES hazelnut trees in rows with potatoes

Ongoing research with the hazelnuts peeler has identified many issues with regard to post harvest handling and storage of hazelnuts that were previously unknown in the Croatia. Subsequent work with the microbiologists on the CCRES hazelnut research team have identified an entire area of research that must be undertaken to be able to deliver a safe, and very high quality peeled hazelnut product. The research results must be backed up to both cultivation and post harvest handling and storage. Thanks to previous work in this area, the CCRES team has made significant progress in this area.