Alternative (clean) energy/renewables /2

Written by  //  April 28, 2023  //  Bert Revenaz, Clean energy/renewables  //  1 Comment

World Energy Outlook Special Report

What is renewable energy?
Renewable energy is energy derived from natural sources that are replenished at a higher rate than they are consumed. Sunlight and wind, for example, are such sources that are constantly being replenished. Renewable energy sources are plentiful and all around us.
Fossil fuels – coal, oil and gas – on the other hand, are non-renewable resources that take hundreds of millions of years to form. Fossil fuels, when burned to produce energy, cause harmful greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon dioxide.
Generating renewable energy creates far lower emissions than burning fossil fuels. Transitioning from fossil fuels, which currently account for the lion’s share of emissions, to renewable energy is key to addressing the climate crisis.
Renewables are now cheaper in most countries, and generate three times more jobs than fossil fuels.
The Role of Critical Minerals in Clean Energy Transitions
This new World Energy Outlook Special Report provides the most comprehensive analysis to date of the complex links between these minerals and the prospects for a secure, rapid transformation of the energy sector.
Alongside a wealth of detail on mineral demand prospects under different technology and policy assumptions, it examines whether today’s mineral investments can meet the needs of a swiftly changing energy sector. It considers the task ahead to promote responsible and sustainable development of mineral resources, and offers vital insights for policy makers, including six key IEA recommendations for a new, comprehensive approach to mineral security (May 2021) .

24-28 April
2023 Forum on Responsible Mineral Supply Chains
(OECD) [2023 Forum] will reflect the current priorities of the OECD implementation programme, featuring sessions on combatting corruption, engaging with mining communities in high-risk areas, and taking action against environmental degradation linked to mineral production and processing. A key theme will be on leveraging due diligence to foster synergies between the policy objectives of a responsible and reliable supply of minerals critical to the energy transition.

20 April
Does the potential for corruption in the mining sector threaten a just energy transition?
Low-carbon technologies rely heavily on minerals, which puts increased demand on the mining sector and makes it more susceptible to corruption, especially in relation to the award of new mining licenses.
Corruption in mining licensing increases the likelihood of harm to communities and the environment, which is bad for business because it undermines the industry’s social license to operate and increases the risk of supply disruptions.
The mining sector is critical in efforts to fight climate change and improve energy access, particularly for the world’s poor, all stakeholders must act urgently to tackle corruption risks to deliver on this promise.
(WEF) Minerals are a critical part of the solution in the global shift towards a low-carbon economy. But a mining boom presents a multitude of corruption risks that could harm communities and the environment. Governments, the private sector and other stakeholders must act now to make sure the fight against climate change doesn’t have collateral damage.

12 January
Unlocking renewable energy future in emerging markets
For all emerging economies, clean energy could bolster energy security, reduce reliance on fossil fuel, and help them meet their sustainable economic development and climate targets.
Current levels of investment in emerging regions are too low to finance the transformations of energy systems.
The World Economic Forum is accelerating global action proposals to advance country-specific solutions that overcome financing and risk challenges.
(WEF – Davos 2023) Our energy and climate future largely hinges on whether emerging markets and developing economies (EMDEs) are able to successfully transition to cleaner energy systems. For these countries, accelerating the deployment of renewable energy can be a significant opportunity to bolster their energy security, reduce reliance on fossil fuel, and meet their net-zero targets. This is in stark contrast to the fact that only a fraction of global clean energy investments is taking place in most EMDES.


13 December
U.S. touts fusion breakthrough as one of ‘most impressive scientific feats’ this century
It will still take at least “a few decades” to turn the laboratory breakthrough into a viable source of energy for people and businesses, one Energy Department official said.
Breakthrough in nuclear fusion energy announced
(BBC) Physicists have pursued the technology for decades as it promises a potential source of near-limitless clean energy.
On Tuesday researchers confirmed they have overcome a major barrier – producing more energy from a fusion experiment than was put in.
But experts say there is still some way to go before fusion powers homes.
Fusion breakthrough is a milestone for climate, clean energy
(AP) — Scientists announced Tuesday that they have for the first time produced more energy in a fusion reaction than was used to ignite it — a major breakthrough in the decades-long quest to harness the process that powers the sun.
Researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California achieved the result last week, the Energy Department said. Known as a net energy gain, the goal has been elusive because fusion happens at such high temperatures and pressures that it is incredibly difficult to control.
Although there’s a long way to go to turn fusion into a usable power source, [Jeremy Chittenden, a professor at Imperial College in London specializing in plasma physics] said, the lab’s achievement makes him optimistic that it may someday be “the ideal power source that we thought it would be” — one that emits no carbon and runs on an abundant form of hydrogen that can be extracted from seawater.
One approach to fusion turns hydrogen into plasma, an electrically charged gas, which is then controlled by humongous magnets. This method is being explored in France in a collaboration among 35 countries called the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, as well as by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a private company.

18 May
Four key climate change indicators break records in 2021
Criticizing “the dismal litany of humanity’s failure to tackle climate disruption,” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres used the publication of the WMO flagship report to call for urgent action to grab the “low-hanging fruit” of transforming energy systems away from the “dead end” of fossil fuels to renewable energy.
In a video message, Mr Guterres proposed five critical actions to jump-start the renewable energy transition. They include greater access to renewable energy technology and supplies, a tripling of private and public investments in renewables and an end to subsidies on fossil fuels which amount to roughly $11 million per minute. (Five ways to jump-start the renewable energy transition now)
“Renewables are the only path to real energy security, stable power prices and sustainable employment opportunities. If we act together, the renewable energy transformation can be the peace project of the 21st century,” said Mr Guterres.

5 May
Geothermal’s promise in Latin America (audio)
Due to the volcanic “ring of fire” that stretches across Latin America and the Caribbean, the region has a vast store of geothermal reserves that could, in theory, be tapped for the creation of geothermal energy. Experts say that with more expertise and investment, Latin America could be a world leader in the creation of geothermal energy. The World’s Anna Kusmer reports.


Clean energy demand for critical minerals set to soar as the world pursues net zero goals
(IEA) Minerals are essential components in many of today’s rapidly growing clean energy technologies – from wind turbines and electricity networks to electric vehicles. Demand for these minerals will grow quickly as clean energy transitions gather pace. This new World Energy Outlook Special Report provides the most comprehensive analysis to date of the complex links between these minerals and the prospects for a secure, rapid transformation of the energy sector.
Alongside a wealth of detail on mineral demand prospects under different technology and policy assumptions, it examines whether today’s mineral investments can meet the needs of a swiftly changing energy sector. It considers the task ahead to promote responsible and sustainable development of mineral resources, and offers vital insights for policy makers, including six key IEA recommendations for a new, comprehensive approach to mineral security.

21 January
De l’hydrogène produit avec la lumière du Soleil
(La Presse) L’hydrogène vert est fortement demandé partout sur la planète, et des chercheurs de l’Institut national de la recherche scientifique, à Varennes, ont trouvé une nouvelle façon d’en produire, avec la simple lumière du Soleil.
L’hydrogène est de plus en plus considéré pour la transition énergétique depuis qu’il est possible d’en produire avec des sources d’énergie renouvelables, comme l’hydroélectricité, ou même avec de l’électricité générée par des éoliennes ou des parcs solaires. Le gouvernement du Québec a d’ailleurs annoncé cette semaine un investissement de 15 millions dans le développement de cette filière.

15 January
Electric Cars Are Better for the Planet – and Often Your Budget, Too
(NYT) New data published Thursday shows that despite the higher sticker price, electric cars may actually save drivers money in the long-run.
To reach this conclusion, a team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology calculated both the carbon dioxide emissions and full lifetime cost — including purchase price, maintenance and fuel — for nearly every new car model on the market.
They found electric cars were easily more climate friendly than gas-burning ones. Over a lifetime, they were often cheaper, too.


17 January
Renewables, land use, and local opposition in the United States
By Samantha Gross
Building on previously disturbed land and combining renewable power with other land uses, like agriculture or building solar on rooftops, can minimize land use conflicts. Community involvement in project planning and regulations for land use and zoning can help to alleviate concerns. Nevertheless, there is no perfect way to produce electricity on an industrial scale. Policymakers must recognize these challenges and face them head-on as the nation transitions to a lower-carbon energy system.
(Brookings) Decreasing greenhouse gas emissions in the electricity sector is crucial to avoiding the worst impacts of climate change. The American public overwhelmingly favors renewable power and the costs of wind and solar power have declined rapidly in recent years. However, inherent attributes of wind and solar generation make conflicts over land use and project siting more likely. Power plants and transmission lines will be located in areas not accustomed to industrial development, potentially creating opposition.
Wind and solar generation require at least 10 times as much land per unit of power produced than coal- or natural gas-fired power plants, including land disturbed to produce and transport the fossil fuels. Additionally, wind and solar generation are located where the resource availability is best instead of where is most convenient for people and infrastructure, since their “fuel” can’t be transported like fossil fuels. Siting of wind facilities is especially challenging. Modern wind turbines are huge; most new turbines being installed in the United States today are the height of a 35-story building. Wind resources are best in open plains and on ridgetops, locations where the turbines can be seen for long distances.


20 July
What are the differences of renewable and nonrenewable resources and what are some example[s] of them?
(Quora) This can be hard to answer. From a physics point of view nothing is renewable, because entropy increases in a closed system (which the universe appears to be), so eventually the universe will die – in a ridiculously long time (Graphical timeline from Big Bang to Heat Death). Or, everything is renewable, given enough time and money, because the Earth is not a closed system – it is powered by the sun. We can make just about any element we want, in a particle accelerator, currently at ridiculous cost.
By most standards, helium is a non-renewable resource. It is created underground by nuclear decay of radioactive materials like uranium and radon, and trapped in gas domes, so is found in some natural gas wells. If we let it go, it rises to the top of the atmosphere and is drawn into space by the solar wind, so is lost to us forever. We can wait eons for more to be formed naturally, or we can create it artificially at truly ridiculous expense ( $50 million per gram, costing it as Mo99, though I’m sure that’s on the high side).
An example of a renewable resource is fresh water – usually. Water evaporates from oceans, falls as rain in mountains, is collected, purified, used, cleaned and returned eventually to the ocean. The cycle is driven by energy from the sun, and water that escapes from the cycle generally evaporates to rejoin the cycle elsewhere. However, some groundwater used in wells may be considered non-renewable, because it is replenished naturally on a timescale of hundreds or thousands of years.
Fossil fuels such as petroleum and coal are considered non-renewable, because natural renewal takes millions of years (as organic material on the ocean floor is buried in underwater landslides, to be eventually compressed by tectonic movement in the earth’s crust). Food is usually considered renewable, because more can be grown and harvested every year, even though the fertilizer to raise crop yields may be a non-renewable resource (derived from petroleum, or from deposits of guano laid down over tens of thousands of years and mined in a few decades). (27 October 2016)
See also Is groundwater a renewable or nonrenewable resource? (20 July 2019)

16 January
Why there’s no bringing coal back
Samantha Gross, Brookings Fellow
(Brookings) During his campaign, President Trump promised to bring coal back. But is that even possible? In a new paper, Howard Gruenspecht, senior energy economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Energy Initiative, says that the answer is almost certainly “no.”
In the United States, more than 90 percent of coal use is in power generation. However, coal is experiencing fierce competition from low-priced natural gas and ever-cheaper renewable power. Over the last decade, the United States has seen a 40 percent decline in coal-fired generation, owing to lower coal plant utilization rates and plant retirements. Flat electricity demand compounds the challenge for coal.


7 September
Sahara Forest Project
A starting point for green growth solutions in dry areas
Under the patronage of His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan and His Royal Highness Crown Prince Haakon of Norway the Sahara Forest Project Launch Station in Jordan was inaugurated on Thursday September 7th 2017.
The Sahara Forest Project is founded on the idea that deserts once again can be green. And that this can be realized through activities with a triple bottom-line.
-Everything we do on the ground in Jordan is measured against three goals. Our activities need to be good for people, it need to good for the environment, and it needs to be good for business, Mr. Hauge said.
The objective of the Launch Station is to pave the way for large scale expansion of restorative farming in Jordan. The Launch Station is the first step towards the full-scale Sahara Forest Project Jordan Center of 20 hectares.
See Sahara Forest Project From vision to reality HD

26 June
The Race to Solar-Power Africa
American startups are competing to bring electricity to communities that remain off the grid.
By Bill McKibben, former New Yorker staff writer, environmentalist, scholar-in-residence at Middlebury College, and author of the forthcoming “Radio Free Vermont.”

20 June
The Green Energy Revolution Will Happen Without Trump
(NYT Opinion) In the wake of President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement, a dozen states and more than 300 cities have pledged to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions in line with the Paris targets.
The move suggests a possible future for climate change policy in the Trump era: States and cities are taking on the brunt of climate responsibility, building green energy capabilities and meeting ambitious climate targets in the process.

19 June

Solar panels stand at the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in the Mojave Desert near Primm, Nevada in 2014. California and Arizona by far generate the most electricity with solar power in the U.S.
Photograph by Jacob Kepler, Bloomberg, Getty Images
Renewable Energy Record Set in U.S.
(National Geographic) The U.S. set a new renewable energy milestone in March, in data released Wednesday. For the first time, wind and solar accounted for 10 percent of all electricity generation, with wind comprising 8 percent and solar coming in at 2 percent.
The report was published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), which collects and disseminates environmental data that is used to inform policymakers.
Wind and solar generation typically peaks in the spring and fall when there is less energy demand, and the EIA expects April to continue the record-setting 10 percent trend. That 10 percent mark is expected to slip in summer months, but 2016 saw an overall growth in renewables.

13 June
Total Eclipse: Oil Giant Sees Its Future in Electricity
Sensing a peak in demand for crude oil, France’s Total is betting it can also produce and sell electricity to businesses and consumers
(WSJ) France’s Total SA, like its peers Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell PLC, was built to service the world’s massive demand for crude oil. Betting that demand will peak in the next few decades, [Total Chairman and Chief Executive Patrick Pouyanné] wants to turn his company into one of the world’s biggest suppliers of electricity, or what he often calls “the energy of the 21st century.”
More than any other oil major, Total sees electricity as a hedge against oil’s eventual decline and is assembling a new business around it. Last summer, it paid $1 billion for a French maker of industrial batteries. It bought a small utility that supplies gas and renewable power to households in Belgium and owns a majority stake in SunPower Corp. , a California company that makes high-efficiency solar panels for governments, businesses and households.
If all goes to plan, a large piece of Total’s business will one day be selling electricity to homeowners and businesses, some generated by natural gas it has extracted and some from solar panels and battery packs.

3 May
Two thirds of Canada’s electricity now comes from renewable energy
(Financial Post) Canada substantially boosted its renewable electricity capacity over the past decade, and has now emerged as the second largest producer of hydroelectricty in the world, a new report said Wednesday.
A report by the National Energy Board said that Canada generated 66 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources in 2015. Hydroelectric power accounted for roughly 60 per cent of electricity supply, generating around 79,000 megawatts in 2015.
But as Canada aims to further boost its renewable capacity as part of its lofty climate goals, analysts are questioning hydro’s role in the future. Environmental activists have firmly opposed new large-scale hydro dams like BC Hydro’s Site C and Nalcor Energy’s Muskrat Falls Project in Labrador, which has hobbled development.
“Dams can interfere with fish migration, deplete oxygen in reservoirs, mobilize contaminants, and trap sediment that are important for maintaining downstream habitats including protecting deltas from erosion,” the NEB report said.

11 April
China solar, wind to attract $780 billion investment by 2030 – research report
(Reuters) … as the country tries to meet its renewable energy targets, China would need to raise wind and solar power’s share of primary energy consumption to 17 percent by 2030, up from 4 percent in 2015, according to the report, published by environmental organization Greenpeace and involving research by a government institute, a Chinese university, and other groups.
China has pledged to increase non-fossil fuel energy to at least 20 percent of total consumption by the end of the next decade, up from 12 percent in 2015, part of its efforts to tackle air pollution and bring carbon dioxide emissions to a peak by around 2030.


8 December
solar-energy-latin-americaLatin America is set to become a leader in alternative energy
(The Economist) The region already leads the world in clean energy. For almost seven months this year, Costa Rica ran purely on renewable power. Uruguay has come close to that, too. In 2014, the latest year for which comparable data exist, Latin America as a whole produced 53% of its electricity from renewable sources, compared with a world average of 22%, according to the International Energy Agency.
The region’s impressive clean-energy production is boosted by an abundance of hydropower. Big dams are increasingly controversial: in recent years, Brazil and Chile have blocked hydro-electric projects in environmentally sensitive areas. Alternative energy sources, such as wind, solar and geothermal, still only account for around 2% of Latin America’s output, compared with a world average of 6%. Nonetheless, there are several reasons to think this share will grow quickly.
One is the region’s natural endowment. El Romero, for example, enjoys 320 days of sunshine a year. On the horizon, amid the Andean mountaintops, sit two astronomical observatories, testament to the clarity of the air. Much of Latin America is well suited to solar and wind power; volcanic Central America and the Caribbean have geothermal potential.


3 April
The Solar Price Revolution
By Klaus Topfer
(By Project Syndicate) We should not underestimate the tremendous potential the sun and wind have for building global wealth and fighting poverty. As solar power becomes increasingly cost-effective, countries located within the planet’s sun belt could develop entirely new business models as cheap, clean energy enables them to process their raw materials locally, adding value – and profit – prior to export.
75,000 Solar Workers to Be Trained Under New Federal Program
(Scientific American) The announcement comes as the solar industry in the U.S. booms, adding more than 30,000 people to its workforce between 2013 and 2014
17 February
Biofuel from trash could create green jobs bonanza, says report
Advanced biofuels industry could spur hundreds of thousands of jobs across Europe, says new report, but key European parliament vote next week could throw clean fuel ambitions into disarray
(The Guardian) This advanced fuel could come from woody crops, agricultural residues, algae or household and industrial waste. It is seen as less environmentally damaging than first generation biofuels produced by growing crops such as rapeseed, which have been criticised for displacing food crops and raising commodity prices.


Clean Energy Jobs Now Exceed Oilsands Jobs In Canada: Report
Employment in Canada’s clean energy sector has jumped 37 per cent in the past five years, says a new report from the think tank Clean Energy Canada, and now exceeds employment in the oilsands.
There were 23,700 people directly employed by the clean energy industry in 2013, compared to 22,340 jobs in the oilsands, the report found. Those green jobs include people employed in clean power production, energy efficiency, biofuels and manufacturing of green energy technologies.
Those job gains were the result of about $25 billion in new investment over the past five years, the report said. It singled out Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia as the three provinces leading the way in clean energy investment.
21 March
Wind farms can provide society a surplus of reliable clean energy, Stanford study finds
The worldwide demand for solar and wind power continues to skyrocket. Since 2009, global solar photovoltaic installations have increased about 40 percent a year on average, and the installed capacity of wind turbines has doubled.
The dramatic growth of the wind and solar industries has led utilities to begin testing large-scale technologies capable of storing surplus clean electricity and delivering it on demand when sunlight and wind are in short supply.
Now a team of Stanford researchers has looked at the “energetic cost” of manufacturing batteries and other storage technologies for the electrical grid. At issue is whether renewable energy supplies, such as wind power and solar photovoltaics, produce enough energy to fuel both their own growth and the growth of the necessary energy storage industry.
“Whenever you build a new technology, you have to invest a large amount of energy up front,” said Michael Dale, a research associate at Stanford. “Studies show that wind turbines and solar photovoltaic installations now produce more energy than they consume. The question is, how much additional grid-scale storage can the wind and solar industries afford and still remain net energy providers to the electrical grid?”
Writing in the March 19 online edition of the journal Energy & Environmental Science, Dale and his Stanford colleagues found that, from an energetic perspective, the wind industry can easily afford lots of storage, enough to provide more than three days of uninterrupted power. However, the study also revealed that the solar industry can afford only about 24 hours of energy storage. That’s because it takes more energy to manufacture solar panels than wind turbines.

Bjørn Lomborg: The Poverty of Renewables
(Project Syndicate) In 1971, 40% of China’s energy came from renewables. Since then, it has powered its explosive economic growth almost exclusively with highly polluting coal, lifting 680 million people out of poverty. Today, China gets a trifling 0.23% of its energy from wind and solar. By contrast, Africa gets 50% of its energy today from renewables – and remains poor. …
A new analysis from the Center for Global Development quantifies our disregard of the world’s poor. Investing in renewables, we can pull one person out of poverty for about $500. But, using gas electrification, we could pull more than four people out of poverty for the same amount. By focusing on our climate concerns, we deliberately choose to leave more than three out of four people in darkness and poverty.
Addressing global warming effectively requires long-term innovation that makes green energy affordable to all. Until then, wasting enormous sums of money at the expense of the world’s poor is no solution at all. (17 March 2014)

2 February
Robert Bryce: The Real Climate ‘Deniers’ Are the Greens
While renewables subsidies have punished Europe, shale gas has cut U.S. emissions
(WSJ) For years, greens and many on the political left have insisted that widespread adoption of renewable energy will create jobs and stimulate the economy. An example: In September 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama claimed at a speech in Golden, Colo., that his planned investments in “green” energy would create “five million new jobs that pay well and can’t ever be outsourced.”
It was all bunk.
Proof came last month when both the European Union and the German government announced separately that they were both rolling back aggressive subsidies and mandates for renewable energy. The reason: staggering costs.
28 January
Caribbean Walks the Talk on Clean Energy Policy
(IPS) – Despite having an abundance of wind and sunshine, Caribbean countries have found that going green is requiring significant shifts in policy, and most importantly, significant financing.
But despite these challenges, they are not daunted. Barbados, for instance, which spends an estimated 400 million dollars annually on fossil fuel imports, has announced plans for a wind, gas and solar energy programme that requires almost one billion dollars in investments.

One Comment on "Alternative (clean) energy/renewables /2"

  1. Steven Lightfoot April 2, 2012 at 1:50 pm ·

    Re Donald Sadoway TED Talk The missing link to renewable energy
    His final comment about the tractor trailer sized unit being good for 2 MWh (or good for 200 homes according to them) is actually small potatoes. Its about the power output of maybe 10 car engines running for two hours.
    Before making any pronouncements about whether its good or not, need to look at capital cost, operating cost, also real-life operating implications. Also must look at implications for scaling up further. Not to say its not good, just need to keep a critical thinking approach to analyzing its potential.

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