Renewables, Natural Gas and Efficiency, Transform US Energy Grid

by Joshua S Hill.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance has released their 2014 instalment of the Sustainable Energy in America Factbook for The Business Council for Sustainable Energy, and found that renewable energy, natural gas, and energy efficiency advancements are leading a transformation of America’s energy systems.

While there have been political shifts to and from over the past year, this latest Factbook only adds to the data showing the need and value of transitioning to cleaner and more energy efficient systems, while increasing the data documenting the long-term trend towards the same.

“The U.S. energy transformation that began in the mid-2000s gained additional momentum in 2013,” said Lisa Jacobson, president of The Business Council for Sustainable Energy. “The Factbook plays a vital role in chronicling this fast-moving transformation, which is creating whole new industries and thousands of new jobs in the energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy sectors.”

According to the Factbook research, renewable energy provided 13% of US electricity generation across 2013, while simultaneously reaching all-time lows in costs, allowing renewable energy technologies to be cheaper than fossil fuel electricity in some parts of the US. According to BNEF, however, “small, distributed generators and off-grid installations, meanwhile, began to emerge as a transformative force in the power industry.”

“The changes unfolding in the US energy industry have been profound and, by the typical time scale of the industry, abrupt” said Michel Di Capua, Head of North American Analysis for Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “The effects of these changes will be felt in seemingly every nook and cranny of the American economy, from military bases to manufacturing plants, from homes to highways. 2013 saw some detours from the long-term trends, but overall, it is clear that the long-term transformation of how the US produces and consumes energy continues.”

Energy efficiency financing and natural gas production and consumption have all boomed over the last year. Energy efficiency spending by energy service companies and electric and gas utilities totalled more than $12 billion in 2012 while 31 states and the District of Columbia, representing 77 percent of the U.S. population, have legislation in place to enable the financing of energy efficiency via property-assessed clean energy programs (PACE). Natural gas investment reached $15 billion for the midstream.

The need for clear energy policy in Washington was also made abruptly clear in 2013, thanks to the chaos surrounding the late extension of the wind Production Tax Credit. The wind industry only installed 600 MW in 2013, a massive drop from the record 13.8 GW it installed in 2012, and the root of the problem can be traced back to the uncertainty surrounding the PTC. Conversely, the solar tax credits did not require renewal in 2013, allowing the industry to make a clear 50% increase in cumulative solar installations.

“We urge legislators and policy makers to clarify and stabilize clean energy policies both at the federal and state levels in order to accelerate America’s energy transformation,” Jacobson added. “Clean energy technologies have made major gains in the last five years, and further growth will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve our energy security and strengthen the U.S. economy.”

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This article, Renewables, Natural Gas, and Efficiency Leading American Energy Transformation, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Joshua S Hill I’m a Christian, a nerd, a geek, a liberal left-winger, and believe that we’re pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I work as Associate Editor for the Important Media Network and write for CleanTechnica and Planetsave. I also write for Fantasy Book Review (.co.uk), Amazing Stories, the Stabley Times and Medium.   I love words with a passion, both creating them and reading them.

China planned 10GW of Solar in 2013, but Installed 14GW Instead

by Joshua S Hill.

China had originally planned for 10GW of installed solar capacity for each of the years 2013, 2014, and 2015, but actually hit 14GW for 2013. Now China has announced that the 2014 target will be 14GW. No word yet on the goal for 2015.
China had originally planned for 10GW of installed solar capacity for each of the years 2013, 2014, and 2015, but may have actually hit 14GW for 2013 (they’re still counting). Now China has announced that the 2014 target will be 14GW. No word yet on the goal for 2015.

Despite predictions all through 2013 suggesting that Japan would walk away the dominant solar PV market, Bloomberg New Energy Finance has revealed that China “outstripped even the most optimistic forecasts” to install a record 12 GW of photovoltaic projects in 2013.

In fact, a massive boom at the end of the year could even have pushed the nation’s market up to 14 GW, a phenomenal feat considering that no country has ever added more than 8 GW in a year.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) had predicted that Japan would come out on top in 2013, ahead of China and then the US, but with a feed-in tariff for large PV projects ending on the first of 2014, the year-end rush will not be wholly understood until March.

“The 2013 figures show the astonishing scale of the Chinese market, now the sleeping dragon has awoken” said Jenny Chase, head of solar analysis at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “PV is becoming ever cheaper and simpler to install, and China’s government has been as surprised as European governments by how quickly it can be deployed in response to incentives.”

Even China’s state news agency could not have predicted the massive boom which took place. And in July it was announced that China aimed to add 10 GW of solar power a year for the next three years — a target they seem to have hit rather easily.

Surprisingly, many market analysis companies scoffed at China’s targets for 2014. IHS and Mercom Capital both released reports earlier this year suggesting that China would struggle to reach their aim of 12 GW for 2014, but with 2013′s impressive stats, one wonders whether analysts will be revising their predictions in the next few weeks, especially in the wake of new estimations suggesting that China is aiming for 14 GW in 2014.

With the majority of solar projects located on the country’s sunny and empty western provinces, China’s state-owned power generators China Power Investment Corporation, China Three Gorges and China Huadian Corporation have become the world’s largest owners of solar assets.

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This article, China’s Solar Market Beat All Expectations For 2013, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Joshua S HillJoshua S Hill I’m a Christian, a nerd, a geek, a liberal left-winger, and believe that we’re pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I work as Associate Editor for the Important Media Network and write for CleanTechnica and Planetsave. I also write for Fantasy Book Review (.co.uk), Amazing Stories, the Stabley Times and Medium.   I love words with a passion, both creating them and reading them.

Investing In Renewables, Divesting From Fossil Fuels

by Guest Contributor Joe Romm

Energy use by kind of energy.
Energy use by kind of energy.

Originally published on Climate Progress.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance has a must-read piece for investors on how the smart money is beginning to notice the quicksand on which fossil fuel stock prices are built.

We reported back in April that BNEF said 70 percent of new power generation capacity added between 2012 and 2030 will be from renewable technologies (including large hydro).

Indeed, BNEF founder Michael Liebreich posed a good news, bad news story back then:

“By 2030, the growth in fossil fuel use will almost have stopped,” Liebreich told renewable-energy investors…. “We’re told that it needs to happen by 2020” in order to prevent irreversible climate damage. “That won’t happen. But by 2030, it pretty much will.”

Yes, homo “sapiens” will miss by just 10 years or so the window to avert catastrophic climate change — resulting in possibly hundreds of years of misery for billions and billions of people. The tragic irony is the fossil fuel industry is essentially doomed no matter what — but humanity wouldn’t be, if we were just a tad more “sapiens.”

We reported in August that a Goldman Sachs research paper concluded the “window for profitable investment in coal mining is closing” — same for for coal exports.

Now BNEF points out that much the same is true for oil investments:

Last month 70 investors representing $3 trillion of assets under management sent letters to oil-and-gas companies asking them to disclose plans for adapting to a world that may be edging closer to peak fossil fuels. That’s the point when humans stop increasing their annual burn – either because the environmental danger makes it too costly or because buildings and cars run more efficiently. BNEF says peak demand could happen in 2030.

The risk: Oil and coal companies worth more than $7 trillion may be sinking billions of dollars today into projects that will never make sense to finish.

A key point of this article is that it isn’t just enviros saying the days of fossil fuel are numbered. We have institutional investors, Goldman Sachs, Bloomberg New Energy Finance and many, many others in the financial industry:

In 2013, so-called carbon-asset risk “went from a conceptual possibility to a sort of near-and-present reality,” Nick Robins, head of the Climate Change Center at HSBC Holdings Plc in London, said in a phone interview. He wrote a research note in January valuing the risk of “unburnable reserves”: the oil and coal on companies’ balance sheets that will be too expensive to extract. “There is this undertow of demand destruction going on through technological improvement. That’s certainly not fully priced at the moment.”

And that’s without even considering the possibility of the world coming to its senses on the threat posed by unrestricted carbon pollution in time to avert the worst.

There’s more:

“The end is nigh” for global oil-demand growth, proclaimed a Citigroup report in March. Standard & Poor’s cautioned that a patchwork of policies that cut demand for fuels could lead to outlook revisions and downgrades in smaller oil-and-gas companies as early as next year, with a similar shock to the majors in 2016. Goldman Sachs’s advice to oil companies: “invest only in medium-/high-return projects, spend the rest of their cash on buybacks and focus on per share growth.” Translation: prepare to shrink the business.

Divesting from fossil fuels isn’t risky. Not divesting is.

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This article, Investing In Renewables, Divesting From Fossil Fuels, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

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Guest Contributor is many, many people all at once. In other words, we publish a number of guest posts from experts in a large variety of fields. This is our contributor account for those special people. 😀

A Cleaner Future For China Lays Ahead

by Joshua S Hill – Special to JBS News

Coal’s dominant share of China’s power capacity is set to slowly erode over the next twenty years, thanks primarily to the growth of the country’s renewable sector, in particular large hydro, which will account for more than half of new power plants before 2030. And while China’s power capacity is expected to more than double by 2030, estimates suggest it’s carbon emissions could be in decline by 2027.

These findings are part of a new report released by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), entitled ‘The Future of China’s Power Sector: From centralized and coal powered to distributed and renewable?’

BNEF expects an additional 88 GW of new power plants annually [in China] from now until 2030, which would be the equivalent of building the United Kingdom’s total generating capacity once a year.

Unsurprisingly, China is currently the world’s largest power producer (and subsequently, the world’s largest carbon emitter), and could end up installing 1,500 GW of new generating capacity over the next two decades, and investing more than $3.9 trillion in power sector assets. However, and happily, because of China’s focus on renewable energy, their total power sector emissions could start declining in 2027.

“China has started to change course towards a cleaner future,” said Jun Ying, country manager and head of research for China at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. ”But despite significant progress in renewable energy deployment, coal looks set to remain dominant to 2030. More support for renewable energy, natural gas and energy efficiency will be needed if China wants to reduce its reliance on coal more quickly.”

Due in part to their reliance upon manufacturing, China has made large strides in the renewable energy sector, specifically in the solar and wind industry. This has led to an industry-leading manufacturing infrastructure, supplying great swathes of the world’s photovoltaic and turbine products. Unsurprisingly, while economically beneficial to China, this industry leadership has also benefited the country’s power mix, especially in light of the need to minimize the horrific amounts of coal-based carbon emissions the country has been pumping into the atmosphere.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance analyzed China’s power sector based on four separate scenarios — Traditional Territory, New Normal, Barrier Busting, and Barrier Busting with Carbon Price. The central scenario (New Normal) sees China’s total power generation capacity more than double by 2030. Together with an increase in renewables (featuring large hydro) enough to supply more than half of all new capacity additions, the scenario saw an increase in gas-based generation, which would drive the share of coal-fired power generation down from 67% in 2020 to 44% in 2030.

Even in the New Normal, however, coal’s production capacity is still set to grow rapidly until 2020, adding an average of 38 GW per year. Following 2020, coal will see smaller growth — only 10 GW per year — until 2030. Due to the longevity of China’s coal industry, the country’s carbon emissions and atmospheric problems causing poor air quality will continue through the next 10 to 15 years, and could take many more before any considerable beneficial effects are seen.

The remaining three categories are described as follows:

  • Traditional Territory — which sees a heavier reliance on coal and fossil fuels
  • Barrier Busting — in which barriers to the adoption of clean technologies are systematically eliminated by policy-makers
  • Barrier Busting with Carbon Price — which includes the above category and then includes a carbon price.

Commenting on the final scenario, BNEF noted that they believe themselves to be the first to produce “…the world’s first forecast of a Chinese carbon price, based on stated national goals for emission abatement.”

Specifically; An average carbon price of CNY 99/tCO2e ($16/tCO2e) will result in 23% fewer new coal plants being built compared to the New Normal scenario. The difference would be made up by more renewables and natural gas. The sector’s carbon peak would arrive four years sooner as a result, in 2023.

“The wide range of outcomes in our scenarios demonstrate the extreme uncertainty facing China’s energy sector,” said Milo Sjardin, head of Asia Pacific at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. ”The future depends on a number of big questions, questions on which one can still only speculate: the cost at which China may be able to extract its shale gas reserves, the potential impact on fracking and thermal generation of water constraints; and potential accelerations in climate and environmental policy, including a potential price on carbon.”

“It is hard to underestimate the significance of China’s energy consumption growth and its evolving generation mix,” said Michael Liebreich, chief executive of Bloomberg New Energy Finance. ”The impacts will reach far beyond China and have major implications for the rest of the world, ranging from coal and gas prices to the cost and market size for renewable energy technologies – not to mention the health of the planet’s environment.”

This article, A Cleaner Future For China Lays Ahead, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

I’m a Christian, a nerd, a geek, a liberal left-winger, and believe that we’re pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I work as Associate Editor for the Important Media Network and write for CleanTechnica and Planetsave. I also write for Fantasy Book Review (.co.uk), Amazing Stories, the Stabley Times and Medium.   I love words with a passion, both creating them and reading them.
 

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