Tag: Geothermal

Geothermal Industry Could Come With $73 Billion Price Tag

The geothermal industry may need as much as $73 billion in public financing, almost 10 times current spending levels, to meet developing countries’ electricity targets, according to a new report.

Countries such as Kenya, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia have huge geothermal potential but face challenges attracting capital to develop it. Governments and development banks will have to provide as much as 55 percent of the $133 billion needed to develop the industry to drive sufficient private investment, said the report from San Francisco-based Climate Policy Initiative. Current public investment is $7.4 billion.

States Already Seek To Delay Clean Power Plan

Fifteen states led by coal-rich West Virginia asked a federal court to stall Obama administration rules intended to cut the use of fossil fuel for power plants and slow climate change.

The request on Thursday is the first move by states to block President Barack Obama’s landmark initiative. It would freeze current regulations as they work to undo the new rules.

The Clean Power Plan aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from U.S. power plants by 32 percent by 2030, based on 2005 emission levels, by requiring states and utilities to emit less carbon by using less coal and more solar power, wind power and natural gas.

Global Renewable Energy Roundup: China, Kenya, Turkey, India Seeking More Renewables

China is being encouraged by three industry groups to double the nation’s solar-power goal for 2020 to make up for shortfalls from nuclear and hydropower projects, while India’s installed capacity of solar power could reach 75 GW by 2020.  Meanwhile Kenya is installing 75 MW of wind and geothermal while Turkey looks to add 2 GW of wind power capacity ahead of schedule. Stories below.

China Advised to Double Solar Goal to Fill Nuclear, Hydro Gap

China is being encouraged by three industry groups to double the nation’s solar-power goal for 2020 to fill a gap forecast to emerge because nuclear and hydropower are due to fall short of targets.

The world’s biggest solar market needs 200 gigawatts of such capacity by then, according to a document seen by Bloomberg.

China Photovoltaic Industry Association, Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association and China Renewable Energy Society, which act as conduits between the government and industry, jointly wrote the document and advised the energy authority in the State Council.

Don’t Like Obama’s Clean Power Plan? Fine, Here’s Cap and Trade

Republican governors who boycott the Obama administration’s new power-plant regulations may instead get an offer they can’t refuse: a cap-and-trade system many of them also oppose.

Five years after Republicans in Congress shot down President Barack Obama’s plan for carbon trading, his administration unveiled rules to combat climate change. They include a provision for carbon trading, which Republicans had criticized as a government intrusion in the workings of the free market.

“It’s clear that what they’re trying to do — without establishing a federal cap-and-trade program — is set up a plan that has a very strong likelihood of becoming a de facto federal cap-and-trade program,” said Andre Templeman, managing director of the carbon-markets consultancy Alpha Inception LLC.

Renewable Energy Gains Greater Opportunity in US Clean Power Plan

After a year of being pummeled by opponents, Obama’s final carbon reduction plan emerged this week with an even stronger push for renewable energy.

Wind and solar energy are centerpieces of the Clean Power Plan, the United States’ first ever rule to reduce carbon dioxide from power plants.

The rule not only makes renewables one of the plan’s three central building blocks, but also creates special incentives to spur communities to build renewables more quickly than required.

The revised version of the rule comes after a year of review, hundreds of meetings and 4.3 million public comments delivered to EPA.  It requires that states come up with plans to cut carbon pollution from power plants by 870 million tons, or 32 percent below 2005 levels, in 2030.

World’s First Integrated Geothermal and Biomass Plant Goes Online

Enel Green Power has announced the completion of a 5 megawatt (MW) biomass power plant in Italy’s Tuscany region that integrates biomass with geothermal steam generation.

A first of its kind, the newly constructed biomass plant will use locally sourced virgin forest organic matter and a “super-heater” boiler to increase steam temperatures at the nearby 13-MW Cornia 2 geothermal plant. Geothermal steam temperatures entering the Cornia 2 plant will be raised from 300 degrees to over 700 degrees (Fahrenheit). The result, according to Enel Green Power, will be an increase in the geothermal plant’s net electricity generation capacity.

It is projected that the integration of the biomass plant will boost the overall Cornia 2 geothermal plant output by some 30 gigawatt hours (GWh) a year. It will also mitigate the emission of 13,000 tonnes of CO2 annually. This innovative technological approach will result in minimal local environmental impact and secure “total renewability” within the resources used and the cycle of energy generation.

Francesco Venturini, CEO of Enel Green Power, said the combination of the two technologies is “a major step forward for the future of renewable energy” and expects it will result in the establishment of a replicable model that “opens up new local energy, economic and employment opportunities.”

The Future of Renewable Power in Mexico

The abundance of diverse renewable energy resources, growing demand for power, macroeconomic stability, and historically high electricity prices continue to position Mexico as one of the most attractive destinations for investments in renewable power generation. 

Despite enjoying some of the highest wind and insolation levels in the world, Mexico has yet to develop most of the potential of its renewable energy sources.  As of 2013, thermal sources represented 75 percent of Mexico’s installed capacity, followed by hydropower generation, which accounted for 19 percent of total capacity, while other renewable sources, such as wind, solar and geothermal energy represented less than 6 percent of electricity generation in Mexico.

World Moves Toward 100 Percent Renewable Energy – First Electricity, Then Heating/Cooling, and Finally Transportation

The exclusive use of energy from renewable resources in at least one sector has now become a feasible goal for 8 countries. Diane Moss, Founding Director of Renewables 100 Policy Institute, discussed this remarkable development at one of the conference sessions at Intersolar North America 2015.

Denmark, Scotland, and Aruba are among the nations with 100 percent renewable energy targets.  Besides the 8 nations, the Institute has so far mapped 55 cities, 60 regions and 9 utilities across the world that have officially established 100 percent RE goals, and Moss points out that there may be more and that those numbers are steadily increasing.

Image 1: RE100 percent Around the World, Credit: Renewables 100 Policy Institute

Recent advancements in renewable technologies and rapid cost reductions have accelerated deployment of renewable energy, such as wind and solar photovoltaics (PV).  Renewables have started becoming a mainstream energy source in many parts of the world.

According to the Global Status Report published by REN21, a Paris-based nonprofit group, the growth of renewable energy outpaced that of fossil fuels in the electricity sector in 2014, with a record 135 gigawatts (GW) of capacity added from wind, solar, hydropower, and other natural sources.

Renewable energy developments have been driven largely by government policies, which include the RE targets of cities, states, regions, and countries. Some governments or communities are driven to deploy more renewables to reduce dependency on imported fossil fuels (energy security), tackle climate change (environment), and/or stimulate local jobs (economy).

In recent years, many jurisdictions, in both developed and developing countries, mainland and island regions, and in urban and rural communities around the world, made their existing renewable targets more ambitious, and some have even raised their targets to 100 percent.

For example, this June the state of Hawaii in the U.S. raised its state Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) to 100 percent by 2045 from 40 percent by 2030. Having heavily depended on imported fossil fuels, the state is aiming to supply 100 percent of its electricity demand with renewable energy to become independent from imported fossil fuels.

The Fukushima prefecture in Japan pledged to transition to 100 percent RE by 2040 after the devastating Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident in 2011.The prefecture has made a strong commitment to become energy self-reliant by producing safe, clean energy locally for local consumption.

Energy use targets set by Hawaii, Fukushima, and many other entities are to meet 100 percent of their electric power demands with renewables.

Not Just Electric Power

Electricity, however, represents only part of the primary energy needs. According to Moss, the full definition of 100 percent renewable energy would have to cover all energy demands — electricity power, heating/cooling, and transportation — with sustainable renewable resources, including wind, solar, geothermal, wave, tidal, and sustainable hydro and bioenergy (primarily from waste). Moreover, all sectors of society should be covered, including residential, commercial, institutional, industrial, and agricultural sectors.

Moss also stated that it is most common that electricity is the energy sector to see 100 percent renewable targets because the electricity markets are the most mature and, at least to some degree, the transition to 100 percent renewable energy will involve greater reliance on the electricity sector.

“Starting with a 100 percent renewable energy target — not just for electricity but across sectors — and planning on a regional, system-wide basis could help avoid some inefficiencies,” Moss continued.

According to REN 21, by the end of 2014, renewable energy accounted for a 27.7 percent of the world power generating capacity installed, equivalent to supplying 22.8 percent of the global electricity demand, while renewable energy provided an estimated 19.1 percent of the global final energy consumption, combining electric power, heating/cooling, and transportation segments.

Image: Credit: REN21

Some regions are already striving to go beyond electricity and cover other energy sectors with RE also.

In 2013, the City of Sydney, the most populated city in Australia, developed a plan to transition to 100 percent renewable energy for electricity and heating/cooling by 2030.  According to the plan, about 30 percent of the total carbon and nuclear free mix would come from wind and solar, and 70 percent from waste to gas from sources such as garbage, sewage plants, landfill sites, livestock, agriculture, and forestry.

Denmark, the first European country with such a far-reaching goal, wants to be off fossil fuels completely by 2050. As part of the country’s energy and climate strategy, its target is to meet 100 percent of its electricity and heating needs with renewable energy by 2035.  Furthermore, the country aims to phase out fossil fuel consumption in the transportation sector with electric vehicles (EVs) by 2050.

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Various regions have been implementing a variety of technologies, applications, and ordinances to achieve 100 percent RE targets. Entities can deploy utility-scale renewable projects, small to medium, distributed generations or combination of both, depending on availability of land space and natural resources.

For example, the City of Lancaster, California, has embraced a combination of utility-scale and distributed generation to reach its goal of becoming the world’s first net zero energy city by 2020. To achieve the goal, the city has hosted a 5-MW Sierra SunTower solar thermal plant, created an affordable solar financing program with SolarCity, and established the first mandate in the U.S. to require all newly constructed single-family homes to include at least 1.0 kW solar system starting January 1, 2014.


To provide more renewables at affordable rates, the city launched a community choice aggregation (CCA) program called “Lancaster Choice Energy.” Under the program, it is authorized to procure power on behalf of all of the electrical accounts within the city.  “All energy (under the program) is currently procured from Direct Energy, with a current mix of biomass and wind.   Our goal is to procure as much locally generated energy as possible. In the very near future, we will supplement current energy supply agreements and support future renewable energy requirements with locally developed renewable energy projects,” stated Patti Garibay, Energy Manager of the Lancaster Choice Energy Program.

CCA’s, which are legally possible in 6 states in the U.S., have also been established in Sonoma and Marin Counties to forward ambitious renewable energy and greenhouse gas reduction targets,  and are being seriously explored in several other cities in California for this purpose, including San Diego and San Francisco, which also have 100 percent RE goal at the city level.

So, is it possible that the vision of a100 percent renewable energy future will become a reality? What is the biggest challenge or roadblock toward 100 percent RE?

“Numerous experts agree that the biggest challenge is not technical or financial, but gathering political will. This requires leadership at every level of government and business governance, as well as building momentum at the grassroots level. While we still have far to go, we’ve come a long way in recent years with hundreds of cities and regions now formally committed to 100 percent renewable energy targets in at least one sector, along with 8 countries, dozens of major corporations and thousands of businesses and several non-profit and institutional campaigns for 100 percent renewable energy. We need to massively build on that, gleaning best practices along the way to avoid repeating mistakes and reinventing the wheel,” said Moss.

Lead image: Fukushima Transits to 100 percent RE, Credits: Fukushima Prefecture


US Clean Power Plan Could Include Carbon Trading

Some businesses that back President Barack Obama’s plan to curb greenhouse gases are making a late lobbying push to add an element similar to a cap-and-trade program.

With the administration set this week or next to unveil its final rules to cut emissions from coal and natural gas plants, groups for companies such as Johnson Controls Inc., Alstom SA and AES Corp. have pressed officials to include a carbon market so that costs don’t surge.

Those programs — a slimmed-down version of a plan Congress debated and failed to pass early in Obama’s tenure — would apply to states that balk at putting rules in place.

Listen Up: Vampires Sucking Power from your House

Here’s a nightmare for you: at night, when you’re asleep and you think things are quiet, there are vampires sucking power out of your house and increasing your electric bill. The fact of the matter is that every plugged in electrical device in your home uses a small amount of standby power — even if you think these devices are off.

Major US Corporations Pledge To Increase Renewable Energy Usage, Decrease Carbon Footprint

Executives from 13 major U.S. corporations are announcing at least $140 billion in new investments to decrease their carbon footprints as part of a White House initiative to recruit private commitments ahead of a United Nations climate-change summit later this year in Paris.

Companies including Apple Inc., Berkshire Hathaway Energy Co., and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. will join Secretary of State John Kerry and top administration officials at the White House for the announcement. In addition to pledges to cut emissions, provide financing to environmentally-focused companies, and reduce water consumption, the companies have said they will procure at least 1,600 MW of new, renewable energy. The White House said in a statement that it expects to announce a second round of similar pledges later this fall from additional companies.

The commitments are being announced as President Barack Obama is looking to build momentum toward a legacy-defining global climate accord in Paris. In addition to company-specific commitments, the corporate leaders on Monday will signal their support for a strong climate agreement out of the United Nations talks. They administration is using the pledges to set an example for companies to find ways to eliminate their carbon emissions.

Climate Talks

“As the world looks toward global climate negotiations in Paris this December, American leadership at all levels will be essential,” the White House said in a fact sheet detailing the announcement.

The administration’s actions are pushing the issue into the 2016 presidential debate. Hillary Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination, released an energy strategy saying she would both defend and go beyond Obama’s efforts. Republican candidates have criticized the administration’s initiatives as costly to the economy and unnecessary.

Among the pledges, aluminum manufacturer Alcoa Inc. has agreed to reduce emissions by 50 percent from its 2005 levels, while agricultural giant Cargill Inc. says 18 percent of its total energy use will come from renewable sources.

Coca-Cola Co. said it would drive down the carbon footprint of its beverage production by 25 percent over the next five years, while Google says it plans to triple its purchases of renewable energy over the next decade. Berkshire Hathaway says it plans to invest up to an additional $15 billion in the construction and operation of renewable energy generators, while Bank of America Corp says it will increase its environmental business initiative by $75 billion over the next decade, according to the White House

Other participating firms include Wal-Mart, United Parcel Service Inc., PepsiCo Inc., Microsoft Corp., General Motors Inc.

The corporate commitments won’t be the administration’s only major climate announcement in the next few weeks. The Environmental Protection Agency is set to present final regulations that aim to reduce carbon emissions from power plants by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030 later this week.

While visiting Kenya over the weekend, Obama repeatedly praised the country for its efforts to address climate change, saying its efforts tor educe emissions “has put it in the position of being a leader on the continent.” And next month, the president will travel to Alaska for an international summit on Arctic climate issues.

©2015 Bloomberg News

For more, see Big Companies, Big Renewable Investments.

Energy Storage and Geothermal Markets Look To Team Up in the Hunt for Lithium

In today’s fast-paced tech environment, no one can make a splash quite like Elon Musk. So when he decided to enter the energy storage game in 2014, he did it with gusto. Musk is now in the process of building what he coined a “gigafactory,” which is a lithium-ion battery manufacturing plant in Nevada. Of course, the plant is being built at such an efficient pace that its ahead of schedule and is now set to start production in 2016.

Since the gigafactory plans were revealed, Musk has continued to wow the industry with announcements like the unveiling of Powerwall, a residential storage system that pairs with rooftop solar, which can be financed and installed by his other company that you may have already heard of, SolarCity.

Regional News from the May/June 2015 Digital Edition of Renewable Energy World

EcoFasten Solar announced that it launched a new mounting “Rock-It System” that it would be displaying during Intersolar. Product compliance was determined through testing per UL Subject 2703, which reviews integrated grounding and bonding, fire classification and mechanical loading.

EcoFasten Solar’s solar roof mounts and components are designed, engineered and manufacturered in Morrisville, VT. Working closely with leading solar developers, racking system providers, roofing manufacturers and commercial installation companies, the company said that its products are fast and easy to install and “were designed with the installer in mind.”

SkyPower Inks $2.2 Billion Deal for Massive Solar Power Plant in Kenya

Kenya’s Energy Ministry and SkyPower Global Ltd. will sign a $2.2 billion agreement on Sunday that paves the way for the Canadian company to develop a 1-gigawatt solar project in East Africa’s biggest economy.

The solar project will be developed over five years, SkyPower said Friday in a statement. Kenya currently gets about two-thirds of its electricity from renewable sources, chiefly hydropower stations and geothermal wells. It has no solar developments of that scale.