Solar power is becoming the cheapest way to generate electricity, according to leading analysts. Data produced by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) showed the cost of solar in 58 lower-income countries – including China, Brazil and India – had fallen to about a third of levels in 2010 and was now slightly cheaper than wind energy. In August, an auction to supply electricity in Chile achieved the record low price of $29.10 (£23.30) per megawatt-hour – a record low price and about half the price of a coal competitor. “Renewable energy will beat any other technology in most of the world without subsidies,” Mr Liebreich said. A BNEF report, called Climatescope, found China, Chile, Brazil, Uruguay, South Africa, and India were the emerging markets most likely to attract investors in low-carbon energy projects. Solar power has proved a godsend for remote islands such as Ta’u, part of America Samoa, in the South Pacific. Once reliant on imports of vast amounts of diesel, it is now powered completely by 5,000 solar panels and 60 Tesla batteries.
Independent 16th Dec 2016 read more »
Amber Valley goes Solar
Solar panels installed on the roof of Amber Valley Borough Council’s headquarters in Ripley are helping reduce its energy costs. The 78 panels were put in place in March, at the same time as LED lighting was installed throughout the building. Latest figures show that the LEDs will make an annual saving of £10,100 on the council’s energy bill and the solar panels will create a further saving of £1,659 and generate income of £813 through surplus energy bought by the National Grid..
Belper News 16th Dec 2016 read more »
Edinburgh-based Swift TG Energy (Scotland) has secured a £420,000 grant to further develop its innovative new vertical axis wind turbine – the WindSurf. The Innovate UK grant will be used to help complete the research and development stage of the project, and finalise the manufacture of two full-scale prototype turbines. Swift TG Energy (Scotland) is a home-grown technology company focussing on renewable energies. The Windsurf turbine – which has been described as ‘the next generation of urban wind power technology’ – aims to overcome a number of the technical and economic challenges that arise when generating power from the complex airflows found in urban and brownfield spaces.
Scottish Energy News 16th Dec 2016 read more »
The Government has set out new proposals for the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). All four currently-supported technologies will remain part of the scheme. Government has dropped plans to remove solar thermal from the RHI scheme and the technology will receive the same level of support (19.74p/kWh) over seven years. Applications for solar thermal in industry up to 200kW in size will also continue to be supported. Tariff reductions are also less drastic than previous proposals which included reductions of tariffs by up to 45 per cent for parts of the biomass sector. Tariffs for new air source heat pumps and ground source heat pumps increasing to 10.0 pence per kilowatt-hour (p/kWh) and 19.55p/kWh respectively.
Edie 14th Dec 2016 read more »
Solar Trade Association wins battle to keep solar thermal power in RHI scheme. The British government last night dropped its plans to remove solar thermal from the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) after the Solar Trade Association fought a strong campaign to keep the RHI scheme in place – with 92% of its members opposing the proposal. The internationally proven renewable energy technology will now remain in the RHI for domestic systems with no change from the current level of 19.74p/kWh of support over seven years. Applications of solar thermal in industry up to 200kW in size will also continue to be supported.
Scottish Energy News 15th Dec 2016 read more »
British government has published the new tariffs for biomass boilers, and other renewable heat technologies, under the Renewable Heat Incentive, The small biomass tariff has already been reduced by 67% since July 2014 by the degression mechanism. And three major biomass heat companies have already ceased trading – Purple Energy, Imperative Energy, and the biomass heat arm of British Gas. The new tariffs will be adequate to support continued domestic household-level deployment, said the Renewable Energy Association. But small and medium sized projects under the non-domestic RHI, which includes projects in schools, hospitals, and community centres, will struggle as tariffs remain below what industry analysis has concluded is a viable level for widespread installation.
Scottish Energy News 15th Dec 2016 read more »
Solar thermal has been spared the axe under long-awaited reforms to the Renewable Heat Incentive, published today by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
Solar Portal 14th Dec 2016 read more »
Britain’s Big Six energy companies have been told by the Scot-Govt that they ‘must do better’ to tackle fuel-poverty in Scotland. This was the outcome of an ‘energy summit’ convened by Scottish Equalities Minister Angela Constance (MSP) which she called to look at ways to help low income households living in fuel poverty and facing a ‘poverty premium’ from paying more for their energy. Senior managers from the Big Six – including Scottish Power and Scottish & Southern – were asked to identify further actions they could take that will make a material and important difference to low income families in Scotland.
Scottish Energy News 15th Dec 2016 read more »
Leader: Fuel Poverty must be eradicated.
Scotsman 15th Dec 2016 read more »
Scottish cities have been ranked the five worst areas of the UK for fuel poverty, a map created to chart the problem has revealed. Dundee tops the table of the most fuel poor in the UK, according to the map published by MoneySuperMarket.com, with 28 per cent of residents spending more than 10 per cent of their income on heating their home – followed by Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Falkirk. Earlier this year, two separate reports from the Scottish Rural Fuel Poverty Task Force and the Scottish Fuel Poverty Strategic Working Group between them listed 100 recommendations which they believe the Scottish Government should consider tackling the problem of fuel poverty, including redefining the phrase. In November, the Scottish Government missed a previously government-set target to eradicate fuel poverty in Scotland.
Scotsman 15th Dec 2016 read more »
This morning I sent an email to Greenpeace’s email list, explaining how the government is due to introduce huge tax hikes that could have a devastating impact on the UK solar industry. Here’s the email below in case you missed it, and a link to the petition you can sign to push back.
Greenpeace 15th Dec 2016 read more »
2016 will go down as the year that the solar industry turned its attention to Ireland, it seems the possibility of a subsidy and fewer opportunities for solar elsewhere in Europe have made it a prime candidate for the industry to pin its hopes on. With the solar pipeline now reaching over 5GW and still no clarity on what the government support scheme will look like or even how much solar it will support, we look back over some of the key milestones and events of 2016 and what it means for the solar industry going into 2017.
Solar Portal 15th Dec 2016 read more »
As 2016 draws to a close, edie reflects upon a year that saw energy storage evolve from a relatively abstract low-carbon concept into a crucial catalyst in the global transition to clean energy. The world will witness an international ‘megashift’ towards energy storage – batteries in particular – within the next 10 years. That was the prediction made by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) in the summer of 2015. A year later, Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) went a step further, estimating that the annual investment in energy storage systems will increase six-fold to $8.2bn (£6.7bn) in 2024, and to $250bn (£197bn) by 2040. This massive growth in energy storage – first in the utilities sector, and then among corporations seeking to reduce overheads – will create a “fundamentally different” global power system, BNEF senior analyst Logan Goldie-Scot said at the time. If 2016 was anything to go by, the energy storage megashift is already beginning to gather pace. The battery market has seen breath-taking levels of growth from utilities over the past 12 months, while non-utilities are increasingly realising that lithium-ion or flow storage systems can act as the perfect accompaniment to on-site renewable energy installations.
Edie 14th Dec 2016 read more »
A survey of more than 800 professionals across Europe’s energy industry found that energy storage is considered to be the most vital technology and issue over the next two decades.
Wind Power Monthly 13th Dec 2016 read more »
The UK’s energy policy is at crossroads. Ambitious carbon targets, an aging energy infrastructure, rising fuel poverty and a legacy of fossil fuel investment warrant bold political decisions to ensure the UK transitions to a sustainable low-carbon energy system. Because of the long-term nature of investment in energy infrastructure, decisions made over the next five to ten years will shape the trajectory along which the energy system will evolve. Getting those choices right is key for ensuring a sustainable, affordable and secure energy future – the principle of Efficiency First delivers on all three. Efficiency First can radically change our thinking about supply and demand-side infrastructure. It means developing the discipline to systematically test policy proposals and investment decisions asking the question whether or not the same outcome could be achieved more cheaply through demand-side measures generating more societal value. It does not simply mean to spend more money on or to always prioritise energy efficiency. But it requires considering efficiency explicitly before investments are locked into new costly supply-side infrastructure.
SPRU 14th Dec 2016 read more »
The order for a new biogas plant for Brigg Lane Biogas Ltd in Bonby, North Lincolnshire marks Xergi’s 10th biogas plant in the UK. Brigg Lane Biogas Ltd in the town of Bonby has hired Xergi to build a new biogas plant that will convert up to 75,000 tonnes of food waste annually into green gas, which will then be distributed via the local gas grid. This will contribute to strengthening Xergi’s position as one of the leading suppliers of biogas plants on the British market. “The project for Brigg Lane Biogas is our 10th delivery in the UK. Once the plant has been built, we will have supplied a total biogas capacity equivalent to 26 MWe in the UK, a figure that we are extremely proud of,” says CEO Jørgen Ballermann from Xergi.
Xergi 14th Dec 2016 read more »
Camden Council has this week announced it has teamed up with Islington Council and Waltham Forest Council to deliver a pilot programme designed to reduce the fuel bills of residents at risk of fuel poverty. The ’24/7 Solar’ initiative is being part-funded by national fuel poverty charity National Energy Action and will utilise solar panels and energy storage systems to test the potential benefits of storing solar electricity to supplement a householder’s evening power use. The aim of the trial is to see if there is evidence that integrated solar and storage technologies can effectively reduce the energy bills of fuel poor households. The panels, ranging from 1.62kWp to 3.78kWp, are being tested using three different battery types from Maslow, Growatt and Sonnen, to compare performance during the lifetime of the project. Installations have already taken place at 41 low income households across the three boroughs, the local authorities said. Comparative data will be generated to assess the performance of each brand of battery storage set against key parameters such as installation, reliability and savings generated, the councils said.
Business Green 13th Dec 2016 read more »
Solar Portal 13th Dec 2016 read more »
The Government should pay factory owners to help keep the lights on in homes by switching off their machinery to ease electricity demand, according to the lobby group for big manufacturers. The EEF believes that Government cash incentives for cutting energy consumption at peak times or when wind and solar farms aren’t working would ease strain on the grid more cheaply than building new power stations. Such “demand side response” schemes have been used by the National Grid over recent winters as a “last resort” measure to help keep the lights on in an emergency as the closure of old power plants tightens UK supplies.
Telegraph 12th Dec 2016 read more »
In the third annual auction for electricity capacity to keep Britain’s lights on, flexible industrial, commercial and public-sector energy users have handed a saving worth £40 million to bill-payers. This proves that businesses responding voluntarily to electricity price spikes, demand peaks and power station failures, can make electricity cheaper and more secure for everyone, according to Edinburgh-based demand response aggregator, Flexitricity. In order to secure back-up energy supplies for 2020, this week’s four-year-ahead capacity auction has bought 13% more capacity at a price 25% higher than the equivalent auction last year, costing a total of £1.2 billion. While part of the rise can be put down to changes in government tactics for these auctions, much of this higher bill will go towards keeping old fossil-fuelled power stations running and building new peaking generators. However, Flexitricity says that the cost would have been even higher if the company hadn’t brought industrial and public-sector energy users, like manufacturers, hospitals, data centres, cold stores and supermarkets, into the Capacity Market through its ‘demand response’ programme.
Scottish Energy News 12th Dec 2016 read more »
Some of the UK’s largest manufacturing organisations have today called on the government to step up support for energy efficiency and demand response in order to drive down energy use across UK industries. A new report released today by the EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, finds significant opportunities for cost-effective energy efficiency measures remain within the manufacturing industry, but are not being exploited through current policy mechanisms. Despite having cut electricity consumption by 18 per cent since 2000, the report, Upgrading Power: Delivering a Flexible Electricity System, suggests the manufacturing sector could go much further in curbing energy use and associated bills and carbon emissions. Using the conclusions of energy efficiency audit reports conducted under the Energy Savings Obligation Scheme (ESOS), the report suggests manufacturers could save a further 14 per cent from their annual electricity consumption through better management of electricity use and the installation of established energy saving technologies such as LED lightbulbs and high efficiency motors.
Business Green 12th Dec 2016 read more »
THAT solar panels do not emit greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide when they are generating electricity is without question. This is why they are beloved of many who worry about the climate-altering potential of such gases. Sceptics, though, observe that a lot of energy is needed to make a solar panel in the first place. In particular, melting and purifying the silicon that these panels employ to capture and transduce sunlight needs a lot of heat. Silicon’s melting point, 1,414°C, is only 124°C less than that of iron. Wilfried van Sark, of Utrecht University in the Netherlands, and his colleagues have therefore tried to put some numbers into the argument. As they report in Nature Communications, they have calculated the energy required to make all of the solar panels installed around the world between 1975 and 2015, and the carbon-dioxide emissions associated with producing that energy. They also looked at the energy these panels have produced since their installation and the corresponding amount of carbon dioxide they have prevented from being spewed into the atmosphere. Others have done life-cycle assessments for solar power in the past. None, though, has accounted for the fact that the process of making the panels has become more efficient over the course of time. Dr Van Sark’s study factors this in.
Economist 10th Dec 2016 read more »
How much electricity do we get back from the large amounts of energy invested in making solar panels? An impressively detailed paper from researchers at the University of Utrecht provides some answers to this crucial question. In short, conventional PV modules made next year will achieve ‘energy payback’ in not much more than a year. Some of the press commentary on the new article in Nature Communications focuses on this benign impact of solar and the scope for continuing improvements in energy use. Other writers took a very different tack. Instead of focusing on the rapid payback on the energy invested in the manufacturing processes of today, the journalists chose to concentrate on the much higher inputs in the past. This makes solar look less good. The headline on Ben Webster’s article in the London Times was ‘Solar panels less green than you think, say experts’. An anti-renewables US website’s headline was ‘Solar power actually made global warming worse, says new study’.
Carbon Commentary 8th Dec 2016 read more »
Storage projects have landed more than 3.2GW of contracts in the provisional Capacity Market auction results, around 500MW of which has been allocated to new-build battery storage projects. This week’s auction secured around 52GW of electricity capacity for the winter 2020/21 period and storage – competing for extended 15-year contracts for the first time – landed more than 6% of the total allocated capacity. Most notably four of the battery projects previously successful within National Grid’s Enhanced Frequency Response (EFR) tender also gained 15-year contracts as new build generators in this week’s Capacity Market auction, further endorsing their application for grid stability.
Solar Power Portal 9th Dec 2016 read more »
Developers who were successful in winning contracts within last week’s Capacity Market auction have lauded the “crucial role” battery storage is set to play in the future for the national grid. The auction for the winter period 2020/21 concluded last Thursday afternoon and the results were published on Friday morning, revealing that of the 3.2GW of storage assets to have won provisional contracts just over 500MW is new-build battery storage. These results remain provisional until 20 December when the winning developers must confirm which projects they will complete.
Solar Portal 12th Dec 2016 read more »
In a big step forward for green energy, the government has said that low-carbon batteries will play a role in balancing the national grid for the first time. About 500MW of battery storage will come online by 2020-21, it said, helping to assure electricity supply at times of high demand. It follows a market-wide capacity auction that also saw agreements signed with gas and coal-power providers. Gareth Miller of energy research group Cornwall said the success of batteries in this year’s auction was a “significant step”. “It may represent only a fraction of total capacity but I think the role of batteries is only going to grow. And lithium ion batteries are a much cleaner way of storing electricity.
BBC 9th Dec 2016 read more »
Battery storage plants will be given UK government subsidies to provide electricity when supplies run low in a breakthrough for a technology considered crucial to the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Several storage facilities – which absorb surplus electricity at times of excess generation and release it when needed – won contracts with National Grid, the UK power system operator, in its latest auction of subsidies for back-up capacity. The 500 megawatts of new storage projects procured in the auction – equivalent to a medium-sized thermal power station – is by far the biggest uptake of battery technology so far by National Grid and highlights the rapid change under way in Britain’s energy sector. The ability to store electricity is seen as critical to helping balance supply and demand in the power system as reliable but dirty fossil fuels are gradually replaced with clean but volatile wind and solar generation.
FT 9th Dec 2016 read more »
A few days ago I heard a presentation by Paul Massara of North Star Solar, a new solar PV + battery home energy system start-up. One of his points was that scale manufacture of lithium ion batteries means that electrical storage is getting cheaper and cheaper, and PV + battery packages are now cost effective in the UK with the right financing package. Certainly such systems seem to be taking off in places like Australia, and are now required in new installations in Germany. These are home system batteries, but it seems very likely that in the near future they will also be joined in many homes by electric vehicle batteries. So what are the implications for the way that electricity markets work if batteries really do become cheap and ubiquitous? My aim here is to do a quick thought experiment about what could happen, definitelynot a prediction of what will happen, by when, and so on. Start first on the demand side, with that rooftop solar PV + battery combo. In the UK, solar output peaks in the middle of the day. In a lot of households, demand is low at this point, and if we assume solar PV is also cheap and households have a lot of it, generation is likely to exceed demand for much of the middle of the day, allowing batteries to charge up. Switching to batteries at the evening peak then reduces net peak demand on the grid (in my thought experiment households have smart meters and home systems which receive some kind of scarcity price signal and automatically switch to the cheapest source– this of course may not happen in reality). If it has been really sunny there may also be enough left over to cut down the morning peak as well.
IGov 9th Dec 2016 read more »
The world’s largest cold energy storage plant is being commissioned at a site near Manchester. The cryogenic energy facility stores power from renewables or off-peak generation by chilling air into liquid form. When the liquid air warms up it expands and can drive a turbine to make electricity. The 5MW plant near Manchester can power up to 5,000 homes for around three hours. The company behind the scheme, Highview Power Storage, believes that the technology has great potential to be scaled up for long-term use with green energy sources.
BBC 10th Dec 2016 read more »