December 30 Energy News

December 30, 2015


Should we solar panel the Sahara desert? • Could one solution to climate change be to harvest the power of sunlight where it shines brightest on the planet? Should we solar panel the Sahara desert? Four experts with four points of view discuss the radical proposal with the BBC World Service Inquiry program. [BBC News]

Rows of curved mirrors capture solar energy at the Ouarzazate plant in Morocco

Rows of curved mirrors capture solar energy at the Ouarzazate plant in Morocco

Martin Luther King III: How the polluter-backed National Black Chamber misleads minorities • The National Black Chamber of Commerce has been warning communities of color that the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan will cause job losses and generate higher energy bills. Neither is true. [Washington Post]


¶ Wind will be the energy source for two of Volkswagen’s factories in Mexico. That is, if all goes through as planned. Spanish turbine maker Gamesa agreed last week to build a 130 MW wind farm to power these two VW sites. Is this part of Volkswagen’s comeback after the diesel scandal? [CleanTechnica]

¶ Propelling a global boost in renewable energy, Australia’s Clean Energy Regulator has reported small-scale rooftop solar totaled 4.59 GW in 2015. As reported by pv-magazine, data released by the Clean Energy Regulator shows 119,000 new small-scale PV installations have been built in 2015. [CleanTechnica]

Rooftop solar panels via Shutterstock

Rooftop solar panels via Shutterstock

¶ As 2015 draws to a close, an academic from Berlin’s Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft compiled data showing that around one-third of Germany’s electricity was supplied by renewable sources in 2015. It shows they supplied 194 TWh of electricity, 32.5% of a total gross consumption. [pv magazine]

¶ Record-low coal prices and increased wind and solar generation that pushed European power prices to their lowest in a decade may cause further declines in 2016. Average day-ahead electricity prices in Germany, Europe’s biggest market, fell 3.2% to €31.70 ($34.65) per MWh in 2015 [Energy Voice]

¶ The total installed capacity of solar PV in Scotland reached 179 MW in 2015, a rise of 28% since last year. Analysis of updated feed-in tariff installation figures from Ofgem for December 2015 showed over 40,000 homes and 850 business premises in Scotland now have solar PV arrays fitted. [reNews]

Scottish PV array near Arbroath (British Solar Renewables)

Scottish PV array near Arbroath (British Solar Renewables)

¶ China, the world’s biggest clean energy investor, plans to increase wind and solar power capacity by more than 21% next year as it works to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by cutting its reliance on coal. The nation is targeting at least 20 GW of new wind power installations and 15 GW of solar. [Bloomberg]

¶ According to the director of the Energy Initiative at the University of Queensland, developing countries are looking at nuclear energy for base-load power with low carbon emissions. Professor Chris Greig says nuclear is a zero emissions power source despite its being supplied by fossil fuels. [ABC Online]

¶ Siemens has been awarded orders for three onshore wind projects in Scotland, supplying up to 50,000 households in South and North Ayrshire and Lockerbie. Siemens will install 57 wind turbines in total, with the contracts also including long-term service and maintenance. [Renewable Energy Focus]

Siemens SWT-3.2-101 model (Image courtesy of Siemens AG).

Siemens SWT-3.2-101 model (Image courtesy of Siemens AG).

¶ The Roman Catholic Church in South Africa urged the government Tuesday to suspend its nuclear power procurement plans until a referendum on the issue is held., saying in a statement the risks of adding nuclear energy to the national grid outweigh any economic benefits. [International Business Times]

¶ After 44 years of generating electricity reactor one at Wylfa power station on Anglesey shuts down today. It is the world’s biggest Magnox nuclear power station. Originally scheduled for shutdown in 2010 the reactor continued to produce energy for an additional five years but now its term has ended. [WalesOnline]


¶ The State of California Natural Resources Agency funded a report examining renewable energy development and restoration strategies for the drought-threatened Salton Sea, a saline lake in the Imperial Valley. The report estimates the area has more than 1,800 MW of geothermal potential. [Utility Dive]

Image Credit: Wikipedia

Image Credit: Wikipedia

¶ The US installed 4.378 GW of wind power and 1.495 GW of solar power capacity in January-November 2015, boosting its cumulative non-hydro renewables capacity to 104.3 GW. Renewable power plants in the US, excluding hydroelectric, account for 8.95% of the total power mix. [SeeNews Renewables]

¶ Utility-scale solar is reaching “grid parity” (ie, cost equivalency) with traditional generation in more areas across the country. And solar received a major boost when the federal tax incentive was recently extended through 2021. The result is that utility-scale solar can expect a sunny future. [Energy Collective]


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