#NEO2015 Identifies Five Power Trends

Worldwide power generation will experience five trends over the next 25 years according to the New Energy Outlook 2015 published by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The report is based on analysis country-by-country and technology-by-technology of electricity demand, costs of generation and structural changes in the electricity system.

New Energy Outlook 2015“NEO 2015 draws together all of BNEF’s best data and information on energy costs, policy, technology and finance. It shows that we will see tremendous progress towards a decarbonised power system. However, it also shows that despite this, coal will continue to play a big part in world power, with emissions continuing to rise for another decade and a half, unless further radical policy action is taken,” said Michael Liebreich, chairman of the advisory board at Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

New Energy Outlook focuses on five major shifts that will occur through 2040:

  • Solar, solar everywhere. The further decline in the cost of photovoltaic technology will drive a $3.7 trillion surge in investment in solar, both large-scale and small-scale.
  • Power to the people. Some $2.2 trillion of this will go on rooftop and other local PV systems, handing consumers and businesses the ability to generate their own electricity, to store it using batteries and – in parts of the developing world – to access power for the first time.
  • Demand undershoots. The march of energy-efficient technologies in areas such as lighting and air conditioning will help to limit growth in global power demand to 1.8% per year, down from 3% per year in 1990-2012. In OECD countries, power demand will be lower in 2040 than in 2014.
  • Gas flares only briefly. Natural gas will not be the “transition fuel” to wean the world off coal. North American shale will change the gas market, but coal-to-gas switching will be mainly a US story. Many developing nations will opt for a twin-track of coal and renewables.
  • Climate peril. Despite investment of $8 trillion in renewables, there will be enough legacy fossil-fuel plants and enough investment in new coal-fired capacity in developing countries to ensure global CO2 emissions rise all the way to 2029, and will still be 13% above 2014 levels in 2040.

Jon Moore, chief executive of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, added, “Last year’s forecast from BNEF identified the big share that renewables would have in power investment – that raised eyebrows at the time, but other energy forecasters have since piped a similar tune. This year’s report pushes our thinking further, with updated analysis on the slowing levels of demand we are already seeing, and on the proliferation of small PV systems.”

Approps Bill Shortchanges Rural America

According to the Agriculture Energy Coalition (AgEC), the current version of the House Appropriations Committee’s Fiscal Year 2016 Agriculture Appropriations Bill would shortchange rural America. As it currently stands, the bill would reduce mandatory spending levels for Energy Title programs including the Renewable Energy for America Program (REAP), Biomass Crop Assistance Program and the Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance Program. In light of this, AgEC has vowed to fight the changes in mandatory spending.

Lloyd Ritter, co-director of the AgEC, said, “The renewable energy and energy efficiency programs in the Farm Bill help rural America create new manufacturing opportunities and AgEC logostable, well-paying jobs. A new report to Congress, released just yesterday, demonstrates the broad economic impact of innovative biobased technology. The biobased products industry contributes $369 billion annually to the U.S. economy and employs more than four million Americans. The more than 40,000 biobased products already on the market displace about 300 million gallons of petroleum per year, which is equivalent to taking 200,000 cars off the road. Countless wind, solar, biomass and other projects are making a major impact as well.”

Ritter continued, “Nevertheless, the House Appropriations Committee is seeking to roll back the mandatory funding levels Congress agreed to last year when passing the bi-partisan Farm Bill. For Fiscal Year 2016, the House bill proposes cutting millions from the Section 9003 program, the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, and the Renewable Energy for America Program.”

“Such reductions in the mandatory funding levels that Congress previously set will undermine the ongoing effectiveness of these programs. The Agriculture Energy Coalition, comprising renewable energy, energy efficiency and agricultural groups, will continue to fight to ensure that these programs are implemented successfully,” concluded Ritter.

BayWa r.e.’s Beethoven Wind Project in Operation

The Beethoven wind project located in South Dakota is in full operation. BayWa r.e. bought the project from a local developer in August 2014. The power is sold under a 20 year contract to NorthWestern Energy and GE has been engaged to maintain the turbines for the next 10 years.

BayWa r.e. Beethoven Wind Project“The 80 MW Beethoven Project is the largest wind project brought online in the US and the second largest one in BayWa r.e.’s history worldwide. Its output will supply clean, reliable, renewable energy to 31,000 homes.” said Matthias Taft, CEO of BayWa r.e. and BayWa AG board member for the energy sector. “The completion of Beethoven is an important milestone and we are on to the next project. As we continue to seek out the next opportunity, we welcome any introduction to exciting projects.” said Florian Zerhusen, CEO of BayWa r.e.’ wind business in the US.

In 2014, BayWa r.e. sold two operational renewable energy projects located in New Mexico but is still managing the facilities.

Canadian Wind Industry Grows

Yesterday was Global Wind Day and Canada celebrated its growing wind energy industry. The Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) announced that they are now the 7th country in the world to surpass 10,000 MW of installed wind energy capacity with the commissioning of the K2 Wind Power Project.

“Meeting the 10,000 MW milestone confirms that Canada is a global leader in wind energy development,” said Robert Hornung, CanWEA president. “Wind energy’s cost competitiveness, coupled with the fact that it produces no greenhouse gas emissions, Wind Facts websitemeans it is well positioned to continue its rapid growth as a mainstream contributor to Canada’s electricity supply.”

According to CanWEA, in the past five years, more wind energy capacity has been installed in the country than any other form of electricity generation. The country has witnessed three record years for the annual installation of new wind energy capacity and Canada’s wind energy capacity has grown by an average of 1,300 MW, or 24 percent, annually, and 2015 is on track to exceed this five-year average for new installations.

Wind turbines are now operating in every province in Canada, and in the Northwest Territories and Yukon, providing energy to over 100 communities and accounting for nearly 5 percent of domestic Canadian electricity demand.

“Wind energy is meeting Canada’s demand for new electricity in a clean, reliable and cost-competitive way,” added Hornung. “As concerns about global climate change grow, wind energy will also need to play a critical role in Canada’s transition to a more flexible and decentralized low carbon electricity system. We celebrate wind energy as Canada’s success story – with another milestone reached the best is yet to come.”

Celebrate Global Wind Day

Today is Global Wind Day. Coordinated by the Global Wind Energy Council along with the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), this year the groups are partnering with SolutionWind, a worldwide wind awareness campaign promoting the use of wind power leading up to COP21 climate negotiations in Paris in December.

Global Wind Day logoGlobal Wind Day is a day for “discovering wind energy, its power and the possibilities it holds to reshape our energy systems, decarbonise our economies and boost jobs and growth”. This is also a day the wind industry is honoring the companies who have committed to using wind energy to power their operations.

According to EWEA, wind power is one of the fastest growing industrial sectors globally attracting $100 billion in investment in 2014. Research also shows that onshore wind power is now cheaper than conventional energy sources in an expanding number of markets worldwide.

“Climate change is happening faster than expected, but so is the transition to renewable energy. As businesses become increasingly aware of the progress in technology and falling costs we are seeing a rapid change in investment patterns,” said Steve Sawyer, secretary general of the Global Wind Energy Council. “Companies like IKEA pave the way for a fossil free future and give an important example for others to follow.”

USDA Funds 544 REAP Projects

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded 544 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects more than $6.7 million as part of the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack made the announcement at the Snake River Brewing Company, in Jackson, Wyoming. The company received a $13,810 REAP grant to install a solar panel to generate energy for the business.

srb-logo-3dThese grants will help farmers, ranchers and small business owners use more renewable energy, which cuts carbon pollution, reduces our dependence on foreign oil, saves businesses money on their energy bills and creates American jobs,” Vilsack said. “All of these are crucial components to developing healthier, more economically vibrant rural communities.”

REAP was created by the 2002 Farm Bill and was reauthorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. REAP funding has helped farmers expand renewable energy use in recent years. The new Census of Agriculture shows the number of farms utilizing renewable energy production has doubled in the last five years. Since 2009, USDA has awarded $545 million to support more than 8,800 REAP projects nationwide.

Eligible agricultural producers and rural small businesses may use REAP funds to make energy efficiency improvements or install renewable energy systems, including solar, wind, renewable biomass (including anaerobic digesters), small hydroelectric, ocean energy, hydrogen and geothermal.

Intel Pilots Micro-Turbine Rooftop Wind Power

Intel is participating in a unique pilot wind power project. The company is installing 58 micro-turbines on the roof to help renewably power their building. According to Marty Sedler, director of global utilities & infrastructure for Intel, the project came about due to their ongoing efforts to find more sustainable ways to use technology. This is why, he said, Intel began piloting one of the world’s largest operating rooftop arrays of wind micro-turbines on the roof of its worldwide headquarters in Santa Clara, California.

Rendering of the planned installation of 58 Wind Micro-Turbines on the rooftop of Intel's global headquarters building in Santa Clara, California. The installation is underway and will be complete in May 2015.  IMAGE SOURCE:  JLM Energy, Inc.

Rendering of the planned installation of 58 Wind Micro-Turbines on the rooftop of Intel’s global headquarters building in Santa Clara, California. The installation is underway and will be complete in May 2015. IMAGE SOURCE: JLM Energy, Inc.

Sedler explained that the micro-turbines are a proof-of-concept project, in which Intel hopes to collect data that could help the company better support green power applications and identify ways to continue evolving its sustainability programs. Intel also hopes the project will inspire other companies and electric users to consider creative new options to conserve energy.

Many companies, such as Intel, are not in a position to install full-scale wind turbines on their property. This is why the company partnered with JLM Energy, a Rocklin, California-based company that built and installed the micro-turbines. Sedler said each micro-turbine is between 6 and 7 feet tall and weighs approximately 30 lbs. The model of micro-turbine that Intel is using is the smallest design available for commercial buildings and is considered the most efficient turbine in its size class. Due to their small size, the micro-turbines are versatile in their potential uses and applications, said Sedler.

Each micro-turbine generates approximately 65 kWh. The array was sized to provide the electricity required for the lighting and general operation of Intel’s Executive Briefing Center. Sedler explained that since the micro-turbines need no fuel other than wind, they produce green power at no additional cost. For every kWh of green electricity the micro-turbines produce, Intel will require one fewer kWh of grid power, therefore reducing the need for power sources that produce much higher levels of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Continue reading

EWEA Calls for RES Targets to be Met

According to a new paper released by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), the European Commission needs new controls to ensure the EU meets its 27 percent RES target by 2030. The EU must have benchmarks in place by December 2015 that will provide indications for Member States on reaching the EU-wide target. Member States must set their individual commitments by no later than December 2017. It is of paramount importance that the target is distributed fairly among the Member States, said EWEA.

Kristian Ruby, chief policy officer at EWEA, said, “In the absence of a nationally binding commitment for 2030, it is important that the Commission puts its foot down if Member States fail to deliver on the 27% target. We must not have a situation where some countries take a back seat in the hope that other more ambitious Member States pick up the slack.It is essentiEWEA_vertical_01al that the role of the Commission is reinforced after 2020 to safeguard investor confidence and the regulatory stability needed to take Europe’s renewables rollout through the next phase.”

In the event that national contributions do not meet the overall target, said EWEA, the Commission should broker cooperation between neighboring Member States, particularly with those that have pledged below the Commission’s original benchmark. However, if those countries still fail to make up the shortfall, the EU executive must put in place a program as of January 2020 and require that Member States with low contributions pledge to an EU-wide fund for the development of renewable energies.

Under a 2030 governance system, EWEA is calling for the Commission to make official policy recommendations on national renewable energy action plans every two years. If a Member State were to ignore a policy recommendation, the Commission could issue a warning with the possibility of referral to the European Court of Justice if no action is taken. The EU executive must also have the authority to intervene when Member States make counter-productive changes to domestic renewable energy policies.

Ruby added, “It is imperative that the Commission is able to act. Under a stricter governance system, Member States would need to inform the Commission before making any regulatory changes that might impact the deployment of renewable energies.”

How Renewables Fit in Clean Power Plan

How will the electricity energy mix change with the implementation of the Clean Power Plan? This question was reviewed in the latest Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Today in Energy. Using the Annual Energy Outlook 2015 (AEO2015) as the baseline, the main compliance strategy to lower emissions rates as the proposed rule comes into effect is to increase natural gas-fired generation to displace and ultimately surpass coal-fired generation. Later, as more wind and solar capacity are added, renewable generation also surpasses coal-fired generation.

Analysis of Impacts of Clean Power Plan - EIAThe analysis finds that changes in the fuel mix play out in different ways across the country, reflecting regional variation in the economics of increases in natural gas generation and renewable capacity. Key determinants include baseline combined-cycle utilization rates and the potential for renewable generation in areas without renewable portfolio standards.

EIA’s analysis also modeled the proposed rule using the High Oil and Gas Resource (HOGR) and High Economic Growth cases from AEO2015 as alternative baselines. The HOGR case reflects a scenario in which more abundant domestic natural gas resources and better technology enhance natural gas supplies, keeping projected annual average spot natural gas prices below $4.50 per million Btu through 2040.

EIA also looked at other cases including several sensitivity cases encompassing different interpretations or implementations of the proposed rule as well as a scenario in which further emissions reductions are required beyond 2030, all of which use the AEO2015 Reference case as their baseline. In addition a case was considered in which new nuclear units not already under construction were brought online.

Ultimately, in all cases renewable energy became a bigger player in the energy mix but whether it played a starring or supporting role was dependent on the level of traditional fuel sources that remained in use.

Wind Industry Presses Washington for Action

Republican and Democrat governors are pressing U.S. Senate and House leadership in an effort spur action on tax incentives used to grow the country’s wind energy industry. Washington Democrat Gov. Jay Inslee and Iowa Republican Gov. Terry Branstad, Chairman and Vice Chairman respectively of the Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition, co-signed a letter insisting federal policymakers “support timely extensions” of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) and Investment Tax Credit (ITC). The PTC is the primary federal incentive building more new U.S. wind farms while the ITC is the primary incentive attracting private investment developing the nation’s offshore wind energy resources.

“This bipartisan letter is a reminder that the nation’s governors are on the front line of the nation’s Governors Wind Energy Coalition logoenergy future and have a vital role in planning states’ future,” said American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) CEO Tom Kiernan. “They see first-hand how investing in the wind resources in their states benefit local economies and create opportunities for job growth. To them the decision to extend these incentives is more of an economic one than a political one. We look forward to working with all the governors to maximize the benefits of wind power to their states.”

According to AWEA 23,000 jobs were added in 2014 and there are currently $23 billion worth of new wind projects under development. But, cites Kiernan, that momentum is increasingly placed at risk as Congress delays action on passing policy capable of creating long-term market certainty.

“These tax credits have made possible the robust growth of the American wind industry and thousands of renewable energy jobs in recent years, with substantial economic returns to our states and the nation,” the governors’ letter reads. “But these gains are at risk today because ongoing federal policy uncertainty continues to hamper the further development of the nation’s wind industry.” Continue reading