March 27 Energy News

March 27, 2015

Science and Technology:

¶ The International Energy Agency said cost-parity between electric and conventional cars would be achieved when batteries cost $300/kWh, estimating that to happen in 2020. But market-leading firms were probably already producing cheaper batteries last year, says today’s new research. [CleanTechnica]

World:

Shanghai smog as the afternoon sun has reached the smog line. Photo by Suicup, Wikimedia Commons.

Shanghai smog as the afternoon sun has reached the smog line. Photo by Suicup, Wikimedia Commons.

¶ China is reducing coal use for power generation faster than expected as the use of cleaner-burning fuels and slowing economic growth drags thermal utilisation rates to a potential record low. Utilisation rates at thermal power plants, nearly all coal-fired, have dropped to 52.2% in the first two months of this year. [The Australian Financial Review]

¶ Fueled by the policy-driven installation increases in China, Germany, and the US, the global wind industry had a remarkable comeback in 2014. Other countries contributed, including Brazil, Canada, and France. Navigant Research says worldwide wind power installations grew by 42% on year in 2014. [Digitimes]

¶ In New Zealand, the share of electricity generated from renewable resources last year was 79.9%, a 5% increase from the previous year, and at the highest rate it has been in nearly twenty years. The government said the rise to the growth in geothermal generation, which more than doubled in the last decade. [UPI.com]

¶ Just a few years ago, Nicaragua depended almost entirely on imported fuel oil to generate electricity. Now renewables account for 50% of the country’s electricity, with geothermal providing 16%, wind 15%, hydropower 12%, and biomass 7%. Government officials predict the renewable share will rise to 80% within a few years. [Blouin News Blogs]

¶ The UK Government has confirmed it is extending permitted development to all rooftop solar (this includes both solar PV and solar thermal installations) up to 1 MW, raising the limit from 50 kW. This means that as long as certain requirements are fulfilled, there will be no need to apply for planning permission. [Renewable Energy Focus]

¶ Britain’s greenhouse gas emissions fell 8.4% in 2014 due to a decline in fossil-fuel power generation, preliminary government data showed on Thursday. The fall largely resulted from a 15% decrease in emissions from the energy supply sector as coal-fired generation fell and output from renewable power sources rose. [Sydney Morning Herald]

¶ Nuclear’s share of UK electricity generation decreased last year by 0.6 percentage points on 2013 to 19.0%, or 63.8 TWh – owing to outages in the second half of the year, new data released today by the Department of Energy and Climate Change showed. Overall electricity generated in 2014 fell by 6.7%. [World Nuclear News]

¶ Official data from the UK government has confirmed that renewable energy contributed more to the grid than nuclear power for the first time ever in 2014. The statistics show that renewables accounted for 19.2% of electricity generation last year, ahead of nuclear power, which generated 19% of the electricity. [pv magazine]

¶ Power-grid operators in the UK and Norway agreed on Thursday to build a €2 billion ($2.2 billion) power cable that will connect the countries’ electricity markets in 2021. This will enable the UK to import Norwegian hydro power when the wind isn’t blowing, and potentially cut electricity bills. [Wall Street Journal]

3-27 scotland

Sunrise in Scotland.

¶ Provisional Renewable Electricity Generation 2014 national statistics show that 49.6% of electricity consumption came from renewable sources in Scotland last year, up from 44.4% in 2013. Hydro, bioenergy and wind generation all increased, with hydro at a record high level, up 26% to 5,503 GWh. [The National]

US:

¶ The US Energy Information Administration’s electricity generation figures for December 2014 show the country has reached very interesting milestone that was widely missed: wind power actually produced more electricity than hydropower for the month as a whole … for the first time in history. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Maui County plans to replace its streetlights with more efficient LED lighting, following other counties in Hawaii, including Honolulu and Kauai. Compared to existing street light fixtures, the new LED lights reduce energy consumption by an average of 50%, and have a payback period of four years. [Pacific Business News (Honolulu)]

¶ Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that the New York Power Authority and SUNY Polytechnic Institute have signed an agreement to create a world-class facility devoted to energy technology innovation and the rapid deployment of smart-grid technology to modernize New York’s electric grid. [Windpower Engineering]

¶ Wisconsin regulators endorsed the Badger-Coulee high-voltage transmission line that would bring in 1,400 MW of renewable energy from Western states. In doing so, they rejected critics’ claims the project would discourage distributed generation development while protecting the “utility industry structure.” [Platts]

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