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Tag Archives: solar

Green heat in the UK

by Dave Elliott

‘Heat is very difficult to decarbonise and no consensus is yet reached on the mix needed for the long term and you will have seen that from the various different reports on the subject.’  So said the then UK Minister of State for Energy, Baroness Neville-Rolfe, at the Heat Summit last December, with the next phase of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) central to the agenda. There certainly are some competing options, including community-wide heat networks, green gas supply networks, biomass and solar home heating and domestic heat pumps powered by electricity.

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Green heat infrastructure

By Dave Elliott

Imperial College has looked at Heat System Decarbonisation (PDF) in the UK in a new report. Provocatively it says solar and biomass heat can only play limited roles for direct space heating, and focuses mainly on three other low carbon system options: a shift to using hydrogen in the gas grid, the use of decarbonized electricity to run heat pumps, and the creation of local heat networks.

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German energy policy and phasing out coal

By Dave Elliott

The influential German Advisory Council on the Environment (SRU) has mapped out how it sees the future of coal. It notes that the Federal Government Coalition agreement (2013) states that: ‘the conventional power stations (lignite, coal, gas) remain an indispensable part of the national energy mix for the foreseeable future’, but it tries to put more flesh on that vague timescale, so as to better meet and exceed the 80% carbon reduction goals of the existing energy transition plan – it wants that raised to 95%. In particular it says that, with nuclear now being phased out (all of it by 2022), ‘an integrated energy policy should synchronise the phasing out of conventional power generation capacities and the increasing use of renewables’. (more…)

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Which way for solar?

By Dave Elliott

‘The Future of Solar’, a major report from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US, looks at solar photovoltaics (PV) and also concentrated solar power (CSP). On balance it backs solar PV, advanced thin film systems especially, but says that, even with just current crystalline silicon, ‘material inputs for c-Si PV generation are available in sufficient quantity to support expansion to terawatt scale’: http://mitei.mit.edu/futureofsolar (more…)

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The end of the FiT

By Dave Elliott

DECC’s consultation document on the Feed In Tariff (FiT) says: The future and size of the scheme will be determined by affordability criteria’, with the Levy Control Framework limits clearly being central. It goes on: ‘If following the consultation we consider that the scheme is unaffordable in light of these criteria, we propose ending generation tariffs for new applicants from January 2016 or, alternatively, further reducing the size of the scheme’s remaining budget available for the cap. This consultation seeks views on the impacts of scheme closure, whether implemented in the immediate term or as a phased closure over several years’. This seems not so much a consultation as an ultimatum: accept interim cuts or the whole thing goes now, but it will end anyway with, they say, their proposed ‘more stringent degression mechanism and deployment caps leading to the phased closure of the scheme in 2018-19’.

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Plenty of renewables – and they can be balanced

By Dave Elliott

Is there enough renewable energy to meet global needs and can the use of variable sources be effectively balanced?  Recent reports say yes on both counts. In terms of the total resource, a GIS-based study of land/sea use/availability has put the total 2070 global potential for renewable electricity at up to 3,810 EJ, led by solar PV, with about a third of the PV being on buildings. The total estimated resource was roughly in line with most other global renewable studies, like that from the IPCC, and well above likely total global electricity demand, put at around 400 EJ: www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959378015000072 (more…)

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UK renewables hit 19% – but are hit back

By Dave Elliott

The output from the UK’s 24 GW of renewables was 64.4 TWh in 2014, 19.2% of annual UK electricity supply, overtaking that from the UK’s troubled nuclear fleet, at 63.8 TW in 2014. Wind led, at 31.6 TWh, 9.4% of UK electricity, solar supplied 3.9 TWh (1.2%), hydro 5.9 TWh (1.8%) and bioenergy 22.9 TWh (6.8%). And Scottish renewables supplied the equivalent of 49.6% of Scotland’s electricity use, led by on-shore wind. www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/416310/PN_March_15.pdf

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Renewables in Russia – not much interest

By Dave Elliott

Russia’s renewable energy potential is vast. A 2003 IEA report said that, overall, renewables with economic potential corresponded to about 30% of the country’s then total primary energy supply, while the technically viable potential was estimated to be more than 5 times greater than its energy needs. Only about 20% of the hydro resource has been tapped so far, and the target for new renewables is very  low. (more…)

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Devolving power

By Dave Elliott

‘Distributing Power: A transition to a civic energy future’, a report on research by the EPSRC-funded Realising Transition Pathways Research Consortium of 9 UK universities, argues that up to 50% of electricity demand in the UK could be met by distributed and low carbon sources by 2050. The report assesses the technological feasibility of a move from the current traditional business models of the ‘Big Six’ energy providers to a model where greater ownership is met by devolved governments, municipalities, co-ops and communities. And it looks in details at what types of governance, ownership and control a distributed future would need. (more…)

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The first CfD round: wind leads

By Dave Elliott

The first full competitive auctions for renewables held under the Contracts for a Difference (CfD) regime led to £315m in contracts being awarded for over 2GW of new capacity in all, with wind projects dominating and some lower than expected strike prices emerging. (more…)

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