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Don’t despair about climate change, instead put your capital where it counts

Renewable Energy News - Thu, 03/04/2021 - 19:49

By Gail Whiteman and Fred van Beuningen

Every major economy has an industrial zone like the Port of Rotterdam, a place where smokestacks, pipes, and tanks tell one story of climate change. Anything that can be made of crude oil is made at the Port. It is a complicated place. On the one hand, it provides jobs and the necessities of modern life. On the other, it propels us towards ecological disaster.

Depending on your perspective, the Port may cause you to feel despair and helplessness. Or, it may fill you with a sense of hope and opportunity. 

That difference brought the two of us together, as a climate scientist and an investor, to discuss how industrial zones around the world could, within a few years, tell a drastically different story about our climate. Much will depend on where financiers put their capital. 

Like Gail, you may wonder how we can possibly limit warming to +1.5° C when places reminiscent of Mordor continuously pump carbon into the atmosphere. Having presented the global risks from Arctic climate change to audiences at the World Economic Forum at Davos each year, Gail is worried. All the scientific data show the Arctic is in crisis, and this will affect lives throughout the world. 

In fact, the Arctic is warming at two times the global average. In 2020, the Arctic as a whole had its warmest year on record since data collection began in 1979. Record temperatures were reached in Siberia over the summer (+100° Fahrenheit / 38° C), resulting in wildfires that, in turn, released a never-before-seen amount of emissions.

Fred, who for 23 years has commuted along the Botlek terminal highway with its sweeping views of the Port, sees something different. An industrialist turned venture investor, Fred knows that the Port is becoming one of the world’s most sustainable industrial clusters. Good-faith efforts to reuse carbon, heat and steam are underway with a target to reduce the Port’s emissions to 50% of 1990 levels by 2025. 

Where Gail sees despair, Fred sees opportunity.

Where Gail sees despair, Fred sees opportunity. The EU’s climate commitments mean that we will replace those smokestacks with clean technologies, sooner or later. Scientists say we must. Governments say we should. The innovators say we can. Investors say…well…not much, with some exceptions.

Thus, our message to financial institutions is as follows: now is the time to act with your dollars, euros, francs, pesos, pounds, riyals, rupees, yen, yuan, and won. Now is the time to put your capital where it counts.

What does that mean?

The value of ESG assets surpassed $40.5 trillion in 2020. That’s outstanding. However, too many ESG funds merely invest in low-carbon tech companies from Silicon Valley, not in the startups developing essential climate technologies. They invest in less bad instead of different and better. 

We want to direct your attention—and resources—to companies that can make a difference. Those that can restore natural carbon sinks through soil sequestration, ecosystem recovery, and regenerative agriculture. Those that can create artificial sinks with technological carbon capture, utilization, and storage. And those that can transform the Port of Rotterdam into the clean, circular cluster of the future. 

This economic transformation is coming, and it will affect your balance sheets. Countries, cities and regions representing over 50 percent of world GDP have net-zero targets in place, as do more than 1,500 companies with combined revenues of $12.5 trillion USD. 

Solar and wind energy, electric vehicles, and plant-based meats are outcompeting their subsidized, carbon-intensive predecessors. Exxon Mobil, the most valuable U.S. company a mere seven years ago, is out of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Tesla, a pioneer in electric vehicles and battery technology, is now part of the S&P 500.

Mitigating climate change will require more than just updated stock indices. We advocate for the approach outlined in “A System Change Compass”, co-authored by Systemiq and The Club of Rome. It aligns scientific research, policymaking, business ecosystems, venture capital and international cooperation towards a post-COVID economic revitalization strategy that can hold climate change to no more than +1.5° C of warming. For that outcome to occur, worldwide emissions must reach net-zero by 2050 at latest. 

The roadmap may be complex, but the financial math isn’t. Moody’s Analytics predicts that +2°C of warming would cost the global economy $69 trillion USD by 2100, not including the incalculable losses borne by communities that face rising sea levels, crop failure, devastating heatwaves and displacement from their homes. The cost of inaction is too high.

We want financiers to commit $1 trillion USD annually to decarbonization and negative emissions technologies. That is likely enough capital to mitigate emissions from seven sectors: cement, chemicals, electric power, mining, steel, transport, and oil and gas. These account for about 40% of global emissions but remain integral to modern standards of living.

With access to a portfolio of decarbonization technologies, the Port of Rotterdam could look radically different in 10 years. North Sea wind installations could produce enough clean electricity and hydrogen to replace the coal-fired smokestacks. The Port’s circular economy could recycle waste carbon into the biochemical feedstocks and clean products of the future. 

Imagine if industrial complexes on six continents followed the Port’s lead. The returns to investors would be immense. More importantly, though, these investments could help to regenerate the world economy, creating an abundance of new jobs. The Arctic sea ice, a driver of climate stability and biodiversity on this planet, might be preserved for future generations. 

We joined together, one climate scientist and one investor, to share our sense of despair and hope. Scientists have a responsibility to share the truth, no matter how difficult it is to hear. In return, financiers have a fiduciary and moral responsibility to invest in the future as it will be. 

So put your capital where it counts. Those smokestacks, pipes and tanks won’t replace themselves.

About the Authors

Gail Whiteman is Professor of Sustainability at the University of Exeter Business School (UK), and Founder of Arctic Basecamp, a not for profit science outreach platform. She is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Frontier Risk, keynote speaker in person at Davos in 2020, “What’s at Stake: The Arctic,” alongside Sanna Marin (Prime Minister, Finland) and Al Gore.  In 2021, she organised and participated in a High Level Panel with TIME Magazine as part of WEF’s media programme for the online Davos Agenda, together with HRH Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, Robert Downey Jr., Baroness Bryony Worthington, Rainn Wilson, and Eric Rondolat.  She is the Professor-in-Residence at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, and a social science expert on global risk from climate change.

 Fred van Beuningen is Managing Partner at Chrysalix Venture Capital. Educated at Erasmus University in Rotterdam and INSEAD, France, Fred has worked as Executive Board member and CEO  for international companies in Oil & Gas, Packaging, Industrial Gas and Chemicals. Most recently, Fred served as Corporate Director of Innovation at global chemicals & coatings company AkzoNobel and worked on the integration of sustainability in the company’s strategy. Fred serves as Board member of different public – private organizations aimed at energy transition and circular economy.

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More US wind power capacity was installed in 2020 than in any other year

Renewable Energy News - Thu, 03/04/2021 - 17:13

According to recent data released from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), in both 2019 and 2020, project developers in the United States installed more wind power capacity than any other generating technology.

In its Preliminary Monthly Electric Generator Inventory, annual wind turbine capacity additions in the United States set a record in 2020, totaling 14.2 gigawatts (GW) and surpassing the previous record of 13.2 GW added in 2012. After this record year for wind turbine capacity additions, total wind turbine capacity in the United States is now 118 GW.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Electric Power Monthly

The impending phaseout of the full value of the U.S. production tax credit (PTC) at the end of 2020 primarily drove investments in wind turbine capacity that year, just as previous tax credit reductions led to significant wind capacity additions in 2012 and 2019. In December 2020, Congress extended the PTC for another year.

Texas has the most wind turbine capacity among states: 30.2 GW were installed as of December 2020. In 2020, Texas generated more electricity from wind than the next three highest states (Iowa, Oklahoma, and Kansas) combined. However, Texas generates and consumes more total electricity than any other state, and wind remains slightly less than 20% of the state’s electricity generation mix.

In two other states—Iowa and Kansas—wind is the most prevalent source of in-state electricity generation. In both states, wind surpassed coal as the state’s top electricity generation source in 2019.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Electric Power Monthly

Nationally, 8.4% of utility-scale electricity generation in 2020 came from wind turbines. Many of the turbines added in late 2020 will contribute to increases in wind-powered electricity generation in 2021. EIA expects wind’s share of electricity generation to increase to 10% in 2021, according to forecasts in EIA’s most recent Short-Term Energy Outlook.

Principal contributors to this report: Richard Bowers, Owen Comstock

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Oceanus and EDF advance pumped hydro and reverse osmosis system in Latin America

Renewable Energy News - Thu, 03/04/2021 - 15:00

Oceanus Power & Water LLC, through its subsidiary Oceanus Energia y Agua de Sudamerica SpA, announces a cooperation agreement with EDF to explore various possibilities and conditions for the implementation of the world’s first Integrated Pump Hydro Reverse Osmosis Clean Energy System (IPHROCES) in Latin America, with primary focus in the Andean Region.

IPHROCES technology aims to deliver energy storage services and desalinated water from the same facility.

In Latin America, the power generation sector is going through a rapid transition toward the decarbonization of the grid. Moreover, Latin America is one of the most affected regions by climate change and its countries are increasingly concerned about the decreasing resilience and security of water supplies.

The IPHROCES concept integrates seawater pumped hydro energy storage and reverse osmosis desalination. IPHROCES has the potential to provide low-cost, long-duration energy storage to aid the region’s transition to clean energy by storing excess wind and solar energy for delivery during peak demand periods. In addition, the solution will provide a local, resilient supply of potable, desalinated water.

The integration of these technologies results in material economic and environmental benefits that cannot be cost effectively achieved independently, according to a press release. The IPHROCES concept is well-suited to help regions and countries proactively address some of the growing challenges of our changing climate at the utility scale.

“We are excited to team up with EDF. The synergies between Oceanus and EDF rely on both companies impressive track record in power and water projects across the globe,” said Joan Leal, president of Oceanus South America. “I always envisioned to implement IPHROCES in Latin America, to alleviate the severe water crisis that the region is facing and to contribute to its goal [to be] carbon-neutral based on renewable energy. IPHROCES can significantly benefit the region by providing low-cost clean water and renewable energy as well as helping to reactive the local economy and job creation.”

During our November HYDROVISION Exchange, Leal gave a technical presentation in the Energy Storage session on the Oceanus technology. Click here to access that session.

Neal Aronson, president of Oceanus, commented “Oceanus is thrilled to partner with one of the world’s leaders in low-carbon energy, and more specifically pumped hydro energy storage, on this exciting opportunity. EDF and Oceanus share values on how to contribute to solve the challenges of our climate crisis using existing technologies and to deliver low cost, clean energy and fresh water. Oceanus looks forward to working with EDF to explore opportunities for the development of IPHROCES facilities, wherever large populations reside in semiarid coastal regions.”

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Tioga News- Bill Kotcher promoted to President

Nuclear Power - Thu, 03/04/2021 - 13:59
--Press Release-- Tioga Pipe, Inc. is pleased to announce that Bill Kotcher has been promoted to President of the Company. Bill joined Tioga in 2016 in the role of Chief Operating Officer. He also serves on the Board of Directors of Mackson Nuclear, an affiliated Tioga Company.(read more)

Ørsted sells €1.4bn transmission assets for world’s largest wind farm

Wind Power Monthly - Thu, 03/04/2021 - 13:54
Mitsubishi-led JV has bought transmission assets for the UK's Hornsea One wind farm – the world’s largest operational offshore site
Categories: Wind Power

Large-scale floating project planned off Ireland’s west coast

Wind Power Monthly - Thu, 03/04/2021 - 12:34
Simply Blue Energy has outlined its plans for a 1.1GW floating offshore wind farm off County Clare. A wave energy pilot project would also be developed
Categories: Wind Power

Africa missing out on ‘incredible’ wind resource potential - GWEC

Wind Power Monthly - Thu, 03/04/2021 - 08:44
Africa and the Middle East’s cumulative wind capacity reached more than 7GW by the end of 2020. However, the region is not fulfilling its potential, GWEC warns
Categories: Wind Power

U.S. Lab Develops Off-Gas Monitoring Tools

Nuclear Power - Wed, 03/03/2021 - 23:34
Researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratories announced this week the development of a real-time off-gas monitoring system designed for nuclear plant operators that can inform them faster about when to task items like treating or scrubbing such by-products as iodine gas.(read more)

Fuel Rod Designed For BREST-OD-300 Reactor

Nuclear Power - Wed, 03/03/2021 - 23:04
Russian nuclear fuel company TVEL FUEL (a subsidiary of Rosatom) said Tuesday that its Bochvar Institute research facility had developed fuel rod design based on nitride uranium-plutonium fuel (MNUP-fuel) for the BREST-OD-300 fast neutron reactor.(read more)

Tepco Completes Unit 3 Fuel Assembly Removal

Nuclear Power - Wed, 03/03/2021 - 21:35
The Tokyo Electric Power Company said that two years of work have culminated in the complete removal of nuclear fuel from Unit 3 at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. (read more)

Retail electricity provider Peninsula Clean Energy now offering 100% emission-free power

Renewable Energy News - Wed, 03/03/2021 - 15:51

Peninsula Clean Energy said it has begun providing 100 percent carbon-free electricity to all of its nearly 300,000 customers, which is ahead of California’s 2045 zero-emission power generation mandate and a step in helping the agency achieve its ultimate goal of providing all customers 100 percent renewable power on a 24/7 basis.

Since large hydropower is emission-free but not counted as renewable in California, the agency said all customers are receiving at least 50 percent renewable power generated by solar, wind, biomass and small hydropower projects. 

 The remainder of the emission-free power will be provided from large hydropower. None of that generation in 2021 will stem from nuclear power. The agency’s 2020 power mix was 95 percent carbon-free. 

Peninsula Clean Energy customers will continue to receive this clean power at rates lower than those charged by PG&E, it said.

ECO-100 customers will continue to receive all electricity from wind and solar power.  

“Congratulations to Peninsula Clean Energy for moving to carbon-free electricity,” said State Senator Josh Becker (D-Peninsula), vice chair of the Joint Legislative Committee on Climate Change Policies. “California needs to speed its transition to 100 percent clean energy. That’s why I introduced legislation calling for a 24/7 Clean Energy Standard to provide California with a stronger, swifter pathway to success. Peninsula Clean Energy’s leadership is critical for the community it serves and our area, and provides me with a good case study I can take to Sacramento.”  

“Community-based providers are proving that we all can, and must, provide affordable and reliable emission-free power to our customers before it is too late to successfully mitigate climate change,” Peninsula Clean Energy CEO Jan Pepper said. “We hope our experience can serve as a model for other power providers to follow here in California and beyond.”

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UK offshore wind hubs ‘big bang moment’ for industry

Wind Power Monthly - Wed, 03/03/2021 - 15:35
Renewables industry group welcomes ‘world-class offshore wind hubs’ and free ports in the north east of England to boost offshore wind
Categories: Wind Power

2020 tipped the balance for British renewable energy

Renewable Energy News - Wed, 03/03/2021 - 15:27
Annual figures show that renewable supply outpaced fossil fuels for the first time.

New research by Drax Electric Insights shows that the UK broke all records last year for renewable energy consumption.

42% of all energy used across the country through 2020 came from wind, solar, tidal and hydro. Conversely, energy produced by fossil fuels fell to just 39.6%, marking the first time that clean energy has consistently outperformed legacy sources.

The authors of the report also showed that carbon emissions fell by 16% compared to figures from 2019.

Covid19 created a fall in generation demand

At a first glance, the figures might not be too surprising.

Consistent reports from last year demonstrated that 2020 was going to be an incredible year for energy/environmental figures. By late Spring, we were receiving reports that the UK’s coal-powered energy had fallen to ‘pre-industrial revolution levels’, and by the summer, that pollution levels had dropped by half.

Naturally, energy demand declined as office blocks fell dark and leisure activities were suspended, but these latest Drax figures indicate something else.

These figures aren’t just about incredibly low consumption, but about a dramatic uplift in renewables.

Why that might be the case has been sketched out by the IEA in their latest Global Energy Review. According to their findings, renewables are resilient to falls in electricity demand because “they are generally dispatched before other electricity sources due to their low operating costs or regulations that give them priority.”

With countries deliberately in energy transition, such as the UK, this is certainly the case.

Covid19 appears to have met the headwind of increased Government focus on renewables, to fuel a bumper year for renewables output.

Ruth Chapman of Dulas agrees, saying that, “We’ve seen an enormous and concerted effort to move the dial over the past ten years. Back in 2011, the UK was hovering at just 12% renewable generation, but energy policy and an appetite for change is rapidly accelerating our developments. This latest data set tangibly demonstrates that prioritisation policy has an enormous impact.”

The greatest successes

By viewing the year behind us as a test case, it’s obvious that Westminster needs to heavily fund and support two particular technologies: wind and solar.

These two technologies delivered a third of all of Britain’s energy last year, in a clear demonstration that both have matured into reliable and compelling sources of energy.

This is excellent news from an environmental perspective and indicates that green solutions have finally gone fully mainstream.

Full steam ahead

Despite these paradigm-shifting results, the Climate Change Committee (CCC) has warned that Britain will have to double its total of clean energy generation by 2025, to stay on course to meet its climate goals.

By investing heavily in existing ‘tried and tested’ technologies and by adopting new carbon capture, hydrogen and storage developments, it’s hoped that the UK will hit its self-set deadline and secure its ambition to be a global leader in green tech.

Lead author of the Drax report Iain Staffell said that: “2020 saw Britain edge closer to the power system of the future with renewables generating more power than fossil fuels.”

“The next steps we must take towards a net zero power system will be more challenging – driving out the last sources of fossil carbon will require us to go beyond just having more wind and solar power.”

“New business models, backed by policy and investment, will be needed to bring advanced-but-proven technologies into the mainstream. This means that the electricity used in homes, hospitals, offices and factories could even be carbon negative – sourced from a range of low, zero carbon and negative emissions technologies.”

The broader picture

Figures for global energy consumption are due out later in the summer, but it is anticipated that we will see a big leap from 2019’s data set.

According to the IEA, “Renewable energy has been the energy source most resilient to Covid‑19 lockdown measures. Renewable electricity has been largely unaffected while demand has fallen for other uses of renewable energy.”

The IEA’s modelling anticipates that despite “Despite supply chain disruptions that have paused or delayed activity in several key regions, the expansion of solar, wind and hydro power is expected to help renewable electricity generation to rise by nearly 5%.”

Given what’s happened in the UK over the past year, 5% might well prove to be an incredibly conservative estimate.

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Irish wind beats gas electricity generation for the first time

Wind Power Monthly - Wed, 03/03/2021 - 14:08
The Republic of Ireland’s onshore wind sector set new records last year and even outperformed gas, new findings show
Categories: Wind Power

CSI and Pineapple Energy merging to focus on residential DER market and VPPs

Renewable Energy News - Wed, 03/03/2021 - 14:05

Communications Systems, Inc. (CSI), an IoT intelligent edge products and services company, announced that it entered into a definitive merger agreement with privately held Pineapple Energy, an operator and consolidator of residential solar, battery storage, and grid services solutions.

Upon closing, CSI will commence doing business as Pineapple Energy, with a business model focused on the rapidly growing home solar industry, it said.

Founded in November 2020 by private equity firm Northern Pacific Group and seasoned industry executives, Pineapple provides solar, battery storage and other energy services to homeowners. Through its unique “battery-first” business model, Pineapple will offer compelling residential solar power systems, with longer-term plans to aggregate its customer fleet into regional virtual power plants.

Commenting on Pineapple’s vision for the future of energy, Pineapple’s Chief Executive Officer Kyle Udseth said, “We see the energy system of tomorrow as a decentralized network grown from the grass roots of individual homeowners and their solar-plus-battery systems. Our vision is for Pineapple to become a champion for homeowners in this energy transition by delivering the best customer experience in a consultative manner. We will offer the full range of financing options and a broad selection of hardware from leading manufacturers, all with the purpose of empowering homeowners and giving them choice. We want to always stay aligned with our customers’ interests, including as we share future grid-services revenues.”

Pineapple recently signed definitive agreements to acquire Hawaii Energy Connection (HEC) and E-GEAR, both Hawaii-based sustainable energy solution providers. These follow on Pineapple’s acquisitions of Horizon Solar Power and certain assets of Sungevity in December 2020.

Udseth noted, “The anticipated addition of HEC and E-GEAR to the Pineapple family will solidify our foundation and expand our geographic footprint. We intend to leverage HEC’s experience in storage design, installation and support, as well as E-GEAR’s proprietary distributed aggregation, control and grid service technology. These advantages will enhance our product offering through the mainland US, including in underpenetrated markets such as Florida and Texas.

CSI putting some assets up for sale

Members of both CSI’s and Pineapple’s management teams will assume leadership roles in the combined company. Roger H.D. Lacey, Executive Chairman of CSI, and Mark Fandrich, CSI’s Chief Financial Officer, are expected to remain in these same roles. The Company expects to remain in its current headquarters near Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Lacey commented, “Over the last three years, CSI’s Special Committee oversaw a series of initiatives designed to drive shareholder value. In 2020, we completed a reorganization of our business. While pleased with our progress, we have concluded that our two current operating segments would provide more substantial long-term growth opportunities to organizations that can unlock additional synergies, expand into adjacent markets, add scale, and broaden their existing product lines. We are committed to finding new owners for these businesses that can continue their long tradition of quality products and services but remain committed to supporting these businesses and their current operations and customers during this process. Meanwhile, by re-inventing CSI through this proposed merger, we will set the stage to become a fast-growing and profitable company, with a focus on delivering immediate value to our shareholders while retaining an opportunity for long-term appreciation.”

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Spanish wind brings Europe’s lowest winter electricity prices

Wind Power Monthly - Wed, 03/03/2021 - 12:05
Wind power accounted for nearly a third of Spain’s national electrical generation between December 2020 and February 2021 – more than any other power source
Categories: Wind Power

Nine demands to rapidly scale up renewable hydrogen

Wind Power Monthly - Wed, 03/03/2021 - 10:15
The Renewable Hydrogen Coalition hammers out the vital policies needed for Europe to rapidly scale up its uptake in the race for renewable hydrogen
Categories: Wind Power

Evolugen and Gazifère announce hydrogen injection projects to be powered by hydro

Renewable Energy News - Tue, 03/02/2021 - 16:21

Evolugen, the Canadian operating business of Brookfield Renewable, and Gazifère Inc., an Enbridge company, announced a green hydrogen project for injection into a natural gas distribution network in Quebec, Canada, to be powered by hydro.

The Quebec-based companies, as part of a collaboration formed to advance the development and use of green hydrogen, announced plans to build and operate an about 20-MW water electrolysis hydrogen production plant in the Outaouais region. The facility will result in significant reductions of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and generate considerable benefits regionally, provincially and nationally, a press release said.

The plant will be built in the Masson sector of the City of Gatineau, adjacent to Evolugen’s hydroelectric facilities, which will power the electrolyzer. An estimated capacity of about 425,000 GJ of green hydrogen will be produced for injection into Gazifère’s natural gas distribution network, making this the first project of its kind in Canada.

The project will remove about 15,000 metric tons in GHG emissions per year, in addition to generating significant local economic benefits, including new jobs and additional property tax revenue.

This project represents the first phase in the creation of a regional green economy ecosystem centered around the production, distribution and use of green hydrogen. With support from the municipal, provincial and federal governments, Evolugen and Gazifère are well-positioned to leverage numerous strategic assets, including access to natural resources and the expertise of the local workforce.

“As an experienced renewable energy generation developer, owner and operator, Evolugen sees green hydrogen as a natural progression and fit in its portfolio of clean energy solutions. This project aligns with and furthers Evolugen’s objectives to put its capital, expertise and resources to work to support governments, businesses and communities in reaching their energy transition and decarbonization goals,” said Josée Guibord, Evolugen chief executive officer.

“Green hydrogen can play a major role in Quebec’s energy transition by offering a sustainable, low-carbon energy solution. With the production, transportation and distribution of green hydrogen, Gazifère has the ambition to provide its customers with an increasingly diversified portfolio of renewable natural gas options. This is another important example of Enbridge’s multi-market approach to green the natural gas grid while continuing to meet the demand for safe, reliable and affordable energy,” said Cynthia Hansen, executive vice president and president, gas distribution and storage, Enbridge.

Evolugen owns and operates 61 renewable energy facilities in Canada — including 33 hydroelectric facilities, four wind farms, and 24 solar sites — with a total installed capacity of 1,912 MW.

Gazifère is a private corporation employing 110 people. Established in the Outaouais region since 1959, it is one of two distributors of natural gas in Quebec. The company serves more than 43,500 residential, commercial, institutional and industrial customers and owns and operates a 1,000-km gas supply system. Gazifère holds a franchise for the Outaouais region and supplies the city of Gatineau as well as the municipality of Chelsea.

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What is driving record rooftop solar volumes in Australia?

Renewable Energy News - Tue, 03/02/2021 - 14:13

Despite the challenges of 2020, the solar market has continued to grow and has posted record high installation figures for the year. Across Australia just under 3GW of solar capacity was added from homeowners and small businesses (projects under 100kW in capacity) installing solar panels to tackle their rising energy costs, up 43% from 2.1GW in 2019 (Sunwiz Annual Report).

Three drivers of recent growth in the Australian rooftop solar industry

The number of solar installations in Australia has passed 2.5 million in 2020. Solar power has become a mass market product and is driven by a strong financial and environmental return. The exceptional growth in 2020 has been bolstered by the below 3 drivers.

  1. Greater time to focus on home improvements

As the working population shifted to less hours and flexible working situations, many Australians took the opportunity to tackle home improvements. Evidence of this can be seen as Australia’s largest retailer of home improvement products and building supplies announced a 14% increase revenue during 2020 to $15b in their latest annual report. Data from the Commonwealth Bank (Australia’s largest retail bank) showed that consumer spending on household furnishings and equipment was up 53% in April 2020 year on year. The rooftop solar industry realised similar growth with consumers finding time to progress solar projects that had previously been too time-consuming.

  • Flexible working means larger home energy bills

The rise in flexible workers energy bills presented another key driver for the uptake of residential solar systems. Research from Roy Morgan showed that over 4.3 million people (or almost a third of working Australians) were working from home by mid-2020. Working from home often means greater daytime electrical usage with greater use of Air Conditioning to keep workspaces warm and other lights and kitchen appliances. For houses that were left empty during the day under usual working circumstances, this meant a significant increase in electrical usage. Solar is one of the most cost-effective ways of tackling home energy prices.

  • Solar prices continue to fall to record lows

The cost to install solar has continued to fall through-out the year with residential solar prices dropping 13.2% in 2020 following a decade long trend as tracked by the Solar Choice Price Index. This is despite the number of certificates in Australia’s federal solar rebate declining each year, effectively applying around a 5% increase in the net price paid by customers. At current prices a most homeowners can expect an appropriately sized solar system to pay for itself in 2 to 4 years. Small businesses with most of their electrical usage during the day can typically expect a system to cover its cost in less than 3 years and in some cases less than 12 months. The trend of falling prices has forecast by Dr Martin Green to continue (Smart Energy Conf 2020), with his estimates that underlying solar panel costs may reach US$0.10 per watt in the next 2-3 years.

With zero daily community transmitted COVID-19 cases across most Australian states, a vaccination roadmap starting to be formed and economic activity rapidly returning to normal in the early parts of 2021, it appears the Australian rooftop solar industry is in a healthy position going forward.

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EDPR and Engie plan 1.5GW floating offshore wind off Greece

Wind Power Monthly - Tue, 03/02/2021 - 13:35
The Ocean Winds joint venture plans to work with Greece’s Terna Energy on developing what could be the country’s first offshore wind capacity
Categories: Wind Power