Category Archives: Wind energy

Fair Isle’s community group gains support for extending its renewable energy supply

Fair Isle was bought by the National Trust for Scotland in 1954 from George Waterston, the founder of the bird observatory. It is 24 miles south of Shetland, surrounded by rich fishing waters. Most of the islanders live in the crofts on the southern half of the island (below).

Fair Isle’s fifty-five residents hope to develop the three-mile long island’s infrastructure to sustain and attract more people to live here in the most remote place in the British Isles, inhabited since the Bronze Age. Its distinctive knitwear has a worldwide reputation – see: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/explore/fair-isle-knitting-patterns/

As powerful winds mean that Fair Isle is often plunged into darkness, with blackouts usually striking at the most inopportune moments, a community group, the Fair Isle Electricity Company, is leading plans to install three 60kW wind turbines, a 50kW solar array and battery storage. This scheme will bring round-the-clock electricity to the island and help to bolster its dwindling population.

Existing wind-power will be extended to the north of the three-mile-long island, enabling grid connections to the water treatment works, the airstrip, North Haven harbour and the Fair Isle Bird Observatory, after securing £2.6 million in funding.

  • Earlier this year the company was awarded capital funding of more than £1 million through the Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme (LCITP).
  • Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) agreed to contribute £250,000 to the renewable energy project
  • There was a lottery grant of £600,000.
  • The scheme has received £250,000 from Shetland Islands Council
  • and £245,000 from the National Trust for Scotland (which owns Fair Isle).
  • Scottish Water gave £208,000.
  • The island’s bird observatory donated £100,000.
  • The Fair Isle Electricity Company is contributing £20,000.

The island houses a series of high-technology relay stations (left)  carrying vital TV, radio, telephone and military communication links between Shetland, Orkney and the Scottish mainland.

A Fair Isle resident, David Wheeler, a former meteorologist who worked on the introduction of the original wind power system, said continuity of supply would transform domestic life on Fair Isle. “It’s the little changes to our lives that will make a difference, like the television no longer cutting off when the snooker is on or the washing machine shutting down in the middle of the cycle with the clothes still inside. They’re small issues but they do matter.”

Robert Mitchell, director of the Fair Isle Electricity Company, said the project would bring new employment opportunities to the island and sustain existing jobs. “Having a constant electricity source may help to attract more people. This ambitious project is the first step in ensuring that the community of Fair Isle continues to thrive.”

Sources include:

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/scotland/mood-is-electric-as-long-suffering-islanders-anticipate-24-hour-power-6hc52bgtl

http://www.shetnews.co.uk/news/14946-fair-isle-moves-closer-to-round-the-clock-power

http://www.shetland.org/plan/areas/fair-isle

 

 

 

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Analysis: use of renewable energy technologies saved billions of dollars (2007- 15) because of avoided deaths, fewer sick days and climate-change mitigation

Akshat Rathi* focusses on the debate ‘raging across the world’ about subsidies to the renewable industry. Though the results of a new analysis in Nature Energy are directly applicable to the US, he points out that many rich countries have similar factors at play and are likely to produce similar cost-benefit analyses.

The study, by Dev Millstein of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and his colleagues, finds that the fossil fuels not burnt because of wind and solar energy helped to avoid between 3,000 and 12,700 premature deaths in the US between 2007 and 2015.

They found that the US saved between $35 billion and $220 billion in that period because of avoided deaths, fewer sick days, and climate-change mitigation.

“The monetary value of air quality and climate benefits are about equal or more than state and federal financial support to wind and solar industries,” says Millstein.

Rathi continues: “Creation of a new industry spurs economic growth, creates new jobs, and leads to technology development. There isn’t yet an estimation of what sort of money that brings in, but it’s likely to be a tidy sum. To be sure, the marginal benefits of additional renewable energy production will start to fall in the future. That is, for every new megawatt of renewable energy produced, an equal amount of pollution won’t be avoided, which means the number of lives saved, and monetary benefits generated, will fall. But Millstein thinks that we won’t reach that point for some time—at least in the US”.

 

We add that In 2015, an LSE article referred to an IMF report which quantified the subsidies provided for the fossil fuel industry, finding the UK was to spend £26 billion that year, far more than the subsidies provided for renewables. It would be good to see a similar cost-benefit study for the UK – China and India have already been covered.

One of the biggest criticisms of the renewable-energy industry has been that it is propped up by government subsidies (often disregarding those delivered to the fossil fuel industry). As Rathi adds, there is no doubt that without government help it would have been much harder for the nascent technology to mature.

There has been a financial return on taxpayers’ investment and above all, we repeat, the enormous benefits of avoided deaths, fewer sick days, and climate-change mitigation.

Akshat Rathi is a reporter for Quartz in London. He has previously worked at The Economist and The Conversation. His writing has appeared in Nature, The Guardian and The Hindu. He has a PhD in chemistry from Oxford University and a BTech in chemical engineering from the Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai.

 

Read the full article here: https://qz.com/1054992/renewable-subsidies-are-already-paying-for-themselves/?mc_cid=d6d241ad3c&mc_eid=d89c5d2450

 

 

 

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An all-electric taxi, releasing no emissions into the local environment

The 100% electric Dynamo taxi manufactured in Coventry has been created by Dynamo Motor Company – a division of ADV Manufacturing – in conjunction with Nissan. It was launched at the Private Hire & Taxi Exhibition at the MK Arena in Milton Keynes.

The vehicle, which the firm had spent several years developing, has been designed for use in towns and cities aiming to reduce their emissions levels. It will comply with Transport for London’s stringent operating requirements as well as new zero emission legislation coming into force in January 2018.

The five-seat Dynamo taxi, with full side wheelchair access, will have a range of 100 miles and can be re-charged in 30 minutes when using a Rapid Charge Post. As more of these are being installed throughout the country, its major cities and towns will be connected by charging hubs and drivers of electric vehicles will no longer need to make detailed plans for longer journeys.

Brendan O’Toole, chairman at Dynamo said “We’re at the start of the biggest change in the motoring world since the era of Henry Ford because most of us will be driving electric vehicles in the future. This is a pioneering new chapter in motoring and, if anything, driver selection of electric cars will continue to accelerate since they provide zero emissions for the environment which is important as we all continue to learn more about the damage to our health from pollution.”

The company plans to start selling the regional Dynamo taxi vehicle in the summer and is hoping the London version will be on sale in the autumn.

Ed: though electric vehicles emit no emissions into the local environment we must look forward to a day when they run on electricity generated by solar, wind, hydro and tidal installations. Coal and oil power stations release sulphur dioxide gas, which causes breathing problems and contributes to acid rain and carbon dioxide, which adds to the greenhouse effect and increases global warming. 

Germany’s people-powered energy and American micro-grids

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Source (2013): https://ilsr.org/germanys-63000-megawatts-renewable-energy-locally-owned/

A 2015 National Geographic article with the most remarkable photographs: Germany Could Be a Model for How We’ll Get Power in the Future … led to the ISLR article written earlier this month.

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ISLR) informs readers that its mission is to provide innovative strategies, working models and timely information to support environmentally sound and equitable community development. To this end, ILSR works with citizens, activists, policymakers and entrepreneurs to design systems, policies and enterprises that meet local or regional needs; to maximize human, material, natural and financial resources; and to ensure that the benefits of these systems and resources accrue to all local citizens.

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Instead of expanding or connecting to the national energy grid, some companies, municipalities, and individuals are creating miniature grids of their own that can operate independently – “microgrids” – providing options for groups that want lower energy bills, more control over where their energy comes from, or a level of reliability that the grid cannot provide.

The costs are high and they are economically viable for only a limited set of situations. As Karlee Weinmann, ISLR Energy Democracy Initiative Research Associate pointed out, however, the cost of new technology invariably falls as it is adopted: “The cost of materials, installation, and maintenance for the components that make up a microgrid are going down, so the value proposition for a microgrid increases in turn. The general viability of microgrid projects is also reinforced through replication, like anything else, so the more that various stakeholders test the technology, prove its value, and improve upon it, the easier it is to justify buying in . . . As we see it, the future of the grid will be far more decentralized than the system we have now. Rather than paying a far off utility for electricity, which in many cases comes from problematic, dirty sources, customers’ money can stay closer to home.”

isr-1

Hurricane Sandy, which cut power to 8.5 million people, one million of whom went without power for a week, was cited by the ILSR report Mighty Microgrids as one of the key motivators of regional investment in microgrids. While up to 60% of backup diesel generators failed in medical centers and other essential facilities, Princeton University’s 20 MW microgrid kept the campus operational in island mode for three days while a connection to the grid was being restored.…

Regulations governing interconnection processes can also hinder microgrid adoption, particularly because these regulations vary from state to state. Opposition from utility companies is often a factor that makes the regulatory environment hostile or resistant to positive change. In an ideal world, a national standard would be adopted.

Richardson concludes: “Perhaps in the future, microgrids will be a common feature of communities . . . connected by the larger grid and selling electricity to each other as necessary. For now, they represent a useful tool for businesses and communities that need reliability that the grid can’t offer or that can leverage scale to reduce energy costs”.

 

 

 

Antidotes were hard to find this week as one cheering message after another was debunked – only Positive News was buoyant

The message in so many headlines: “From January 1st this year, all Dutch electric trains are being powered by renewable energy – wind power. Not so, it is claimed: 100% wind power because it has a contract with various wind farms to produce enough energy to power its rail system, but this is just an accounting transaction. Only a small fraction of the power delivered to its trains actually comes from wind. 

global-fossil-fuel-subsidies-graphThen Jonathan Ford in the FT (former chairman of the Cameron generation of the Bullingdon Club, now responsible for writing and commissioning the FT’s editorials) argued that green jobs are not valuable because of public subsidy (How subsidy culture keeps Britain’s green industry in the black – leaving the uniformed or prejudiced reader to assume that fossil fuels receive no subsidy. Statistics for the UK are not readily available here – but the IMF reports that America is the world’s second biggest culprit overall, spending $669 billion this year—mostly by “post-tax” systems which fail to factor the costs of environmental damage into prices.

Leonie Greene, Head of External Affairs, Solar Trade Association replied in the FT that the UK subsidy is required only because the “polluter pays” principle has not been fully applied to fossil fuels.

She adds that despite the global market failure to tax carbon pollution, there are increasing parts of the world where solar and onshore wind compete with the cheapest fossil fuels even without subsidy or “polluter pays” taxes.

renewables-en-gen-2010-2015-graphic

Lucy Purdy of Positive News writes cheeringly: “It was a tough year by many measures but 2016 also saw some reasons for celebration. We look behind the headlines for signs of progress”. (First republished on a sister site):

right-in-2016Illustration by Spencer Wilson: the fact that some conflicts have ended has helped reduce world hunger

  1. World hunger is at its lowest point for 25 years
  2. The Rio Olympics featured more female athletes than ever before
  3. The Paris Climate Change Agreement came into force
  4. For the 24th year in a row, teenage pregnancy rates declined in the UK and US
  5. Wild tiger numbers increased for the first time in 100 years
  6. The number of women dying from pregnancy and childbirth-related causes has almost halved since 1990
  7. Evidence suggests that major diseases, from colon cancer to heart disease, are now starting to wane in wealthy countries
  8. India turned on the world’s largest solar power plant – spanning 10 sq km – in the state of Tamil Nadu
  9. Public smoking bans appear to have improved health in 21 nations
  10. Black incarceration rates fell in the US
  11. Measles has been eradicated in the Americas – the first time the disease has been eliminated from an entire world region
  12. An HIV cure may be a step closer after a trial cleared the virus in a British man
  13. Italy became the last large Western country to recognise same-sex unions
  14. China installed 20 gigawatts of solar in the first half of 2016
  15. Volunteers in India planted 50m trees in 24 hours
  16. Life expectancy in Africa has increased by 9.4 years since 2000, it was announced this year
  17. The amount of money it would take to eliminate extreme poverty is now lower than the annual foreign aid spend
  18. Giant pandas are no longer endangered
  19. The number of deaths from malaria is at a global record low
  20. The World Bank says we are now one generation away from achieving universal literacy

and

uk-electricity

                                                 Another sign of progress

 

 

 

 

Cheaper batteries for domestic solar energy and grid-scale storage

As disturbing news piles up, so does news of the sort of positive developments covered on this site. Today’s post was going to be about the news that “as of the first of January this year, all public transport trains in the Netherlands are being powered by renewable energy” (wind) first brought to me by Futurism.

elon-muskThat subject is being set aside as it has been very widely covered in the MSM. So instead we turn to specific news about the work of Elon Musk (left), a co-founder of PayPal who is now chairman of Tesla Motors.

The FT reports that householders are starting to buy more battery storage systems as costs come down and consumer interest is rising in Tesla, the electric car company founded by Elon Musk, which is also making the Powerwall domestic battery.

“Tesla’s market entry has led to a surge of interest from the media and public alike in a way that rarely happens in the energy sector,” the UK Renewable Energy Association said in a report published earlier this week.

In February last year the Guardian reported that Mark Kerr became the first British owner of a Tesla Powerwall. Kerr and his family tend to be out at work and school when the sun is shining and the 16 solar panels on the roof of their home in Cardiff are producing power. The excess is fed into the grid and they make a return on it but they are not able to use the power from their panels.

powerwall-battery

 

 

 

 

 

However, from now on, energy produced but not used during the day will charge the Powerwall and provide them with the energy they need when they’re at home and their lights, music centres, computers, televisions and myriad other devices need feeding.

Jonathon Porritt – who recently wrote about the relatively low prices of solar tiles produced by Musk – gives a ‘wee glimpse’ into the transformative impact of cheaper storage technologies, on this video of a presentation by Tony Seba which focusses on their use in cars..

While cheaper battery storage offers potential benefits to renewable power stations and homeowners, industry analysts said that grid-scale storage could also produce large savings by reducing the need for new power stations and transmission lines.

News of others working on battery storage systems (Agassi and Khosla) may be seen here: http://www.economist.com/node/10766460.

 

 

 

WEF: installing new solar panels is now cheaper than comparable investment in coal, natural gas, biomass or fracking

michael-corenThe bearer of this week’s good tidings is Yale graduate Michael J. Coren (left) of Quartz, which is designed by its experienced founders to deliver information primarily to users of tablet and mobile then to website readers.

To summarise: the World Economic Forum (WEF) reported in December that the renewable energy future has arrived – solar and wind is now the same price or cheaper than new fossil fuel capacity in more than 30 countries.

Coren reports that Michael Drexler, who leads infrastructure and development investing at the WEF, issued a statement adding that renewable energy is not only a commercially viable option, but a compelling investment opportunity with long-term, stable, inflation-protected returs.

wef-re-coverIn 2016, utilities added 9.5 gigawatts (GW) of photovoltaic capacity to the US grid, making solar the top fuel source for the first time in a calendar year, according to the US Energy Information Administration’s estimates. The US added about 125 solar panels every minute in 2016, about double the pace last year, reports the Solar Energy Industry Association.

But global investment in renewable energy still lags behind levels needed to avoid potentially catastrophic global warming, according to the United Nations. Global renewable investment last year was $286 billion, or 25% of the $1 trillion goal set by nations at the Paris climate change accord.

As prices for solar and wind power continue to fall, two-thirds of all nations will reach the point known as “grid parity” within a few years, without subsidies. Renewable energy technology, especially solar and wind, has made great gains in efficiency in recent years with advances in manufacturing processes and economies of scale considerably reducing production costs

Solar photovoltaic systems have seen a reduction of up to 22% for every doubling in production capacity and price compression of 80% since 2009, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) citing EPIA, 2011a and Kersten 2011. Its working paper is part of a set of five reports on solar photovoltaics, wind, biomass, hydropower and concentrating solar power that address the current costs of these key renewable power technology options. Wind turbine prices have fallen by more than 30% over the past three years. Solar is projected to fall to half the price of electricity from coal or natural gas within a decade or two. That milestone has already been reached in some places. In August, energy firm Solarpack contracted to sell solar electricity in Chile at just $29.1 per megawatt hour, 58% below prices from a new natural gas plant.

grid-parity2-2015See clearer version here: https://www.db.com/cr/en/concrete-deutsche-bank-report-solar-grid-parity-in-a-low-oil-price-era.htm

It is estimated that more than 30 countries have already reached grid parity without subsidies, and around two thirds of the world should reach grid parity in the next couple of years. If electricity costs were to rise by 3% annually, 80% of the global market would reach grid parity in the next couple of years, according to Deutsche Bank. A search produced the Deutsche Bank 2015 report: Solar grid parity in a low oil price era and the map above. Countries that have already reached grid parity include those in which demand is rising at a fast pace (e.g. Chile, Mexico) or insolation is high (e.g. Brazil, Australia).

Dolf Gielen, Director, Innovation and Technology, stresses in the preface to the Irena report that though in recent years there have been dramatic reductions in renewable energy technologies’ costs as a result of R&D and accelerated deployment policy-makers are often not aware of the latest cost data.

Many will share his hope that presenting this data will inform the current debate about renewable power generation and assist governments and key decision makers to make informed decisions on policy and investment.