Global Insight 20 – 14th November 2017

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Global Insight 20 – 14th November 2017


Solving the problem of apartment living and rooftop solar

Industry analysts SunWiz have released their monthly update for October and have announced that small-scale solar (>100kW) has had its best October to date with registrations for 107MW of generation.   They estimate that if this growth continues then small-scale solar would have installed 1GW for the year.  The registrations were made up primarily of large commercial (75-100kW) and large domestic (6.3-8kW).  Costs for small-scale solar are also falling with a 5kW system costing  in the region of £3000.

Solving the problem of apartment living and rooftop solar

Just over a quarter of households in Australia now own rooftop solar, but almost 32% of households live in apartments.  With many of these apartment dwellers wishing to get in on the solar bonanza researchers at Curtin University’s Sustainability Policy Institute have found an area of law which may help those living in apartment blocks to gain the benefits of solar generation and storage. It has found that it is possible for the corporate body who own the block to act as an energy utility to its tenants.

The University is currently working alongside constructers on 3 built projects – a social housing project, a private apartment block and 6 individual houses.  All projects have solar and storage.  The project will research the use of billing, household metering and also using electric cars in a car-share scheme.


Small is Beautiful

A group of European renewable energy associations, including SolarPower Europe, the European Renewable Energies Federation and Wind Europe, have called for the Electricity Market Design framework in the EU’s Clean Energy Package to ensure that the needs of small-scale renewables and co-generation are taken into account. In particular there are fears that proposals to remove priority dispatch and exemption from balancing charges will result in ‘heavy technical and administrative burdens’, and choke off investment by SMEs, communities and households. The group wants to see de minimis conditions included in the design.

Charging ahead with charging

Hot on the heels of last week’s news that German carmakers are to roll out a European fast charging network, this week E.On and Clever, a Danish electric mobility operator, are planning to build a network of 180 fast charging stations in 7 countries over the next 3 years. Clever was set up by a number of Danish energy utilities and ‘provides electric vehicles, charging stations, financing services, operation, advice and environmental optimization in relation to electric vehicles and infrastructure’.

Bloomberg vs. coal

Building on the Beyond Coal campaign in the US billionaire Michael Bloomberg has pledged $50m to accelerate the phasing out of coal-fired power generation in Europe. The main campaign partner will be the European Climate Foundation. While a number of countries have recently committed to phase outs in the 2020s, including Italy, the UK and France, about a fifth of power in Europe still comes from coal. The biggest challenge will be in the east of the continent, where coal plays a particularly important role in countries such as Poland.

Sonnen’s Italy expansion

German intelligent energy storage company Sonnen, is to install 20,000 battery systems in Italy over the next 2 years. Sonnen already operates an energy sharing platform, SonnenCommunity, in Germany, the US and Australia. The aim is to offer 100% independence form the grid. Through the ‘Energy Alliance Italia’ initiative, Sonnen is partnering with a range of installers in Italy.


4th Gridwise report released

4th Gridwise Report on the state of US Grids – the Grid Modernisation Index to provide some insight on which States are best progressing to a Smart Grid. Top States are:

  1. California
  2. Illinois
  3. Texas
  4. Maryland
  5. Oregon
  6. Arizona
  7. DC
  8. New York
  9. Nevada
  10. Delaware


ISO New England predicts declining loads because of solar and energy efficiency.

ISO New England last week issued its biennial, long-term system plan, finding the rise of solar resources along with energy efficiency advances will lead to a 10-year downturn in load growth and summer peak demand. According to the 2017 Regional System Plan, the grid operator says its forecast shows total annual use of electric energy declining by 0.6% per year, with the summer peak declining 0.1% annually by 2026 under normal weather conditions. The region’s dependence on natural gas is also highlighted, as the ISO warned inadequate pipeline capacity could constrain supply to power plants. About half of the region’s power was generated by natural gas last year.

Wider Globe

IRENA – Report on Renewables and Efficiency’s role in Meeting Climate Commitments

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) have released a new assessment on the role that energy efficiency and renewable energy can play in meeting the Nationally Determined Contributions, as part of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.  The report, released at the Conference of the Parties (COP23) meeting in Bonn in mid-November, concluded that the ‘rapid deployment of renewables, coupled with energy efficiency, could achieve around 90% of the emission reductions in the energy sector needed by 2050, while at the same time advancing economic growth and development’.  The report also notes that the current level of renewable investment is around $300 billion per year. However, transforming the energy sector in order to stay in line with the 2-degree target agreed at Paris, would require investment to average $700 billion per year until 2050.

100% Renewable Electricity is Possible by 2050 and Cheaper than Current Prices

A report by the Germany Energy Watch Group and the Lappeenranta University of Technology, from Finland, concludes that 100% renewable electricity would be possible by 2050 and results in the levelized costs of electricity (including curtailment, storage and some grid costs) falling from €70/MWh in 2015 to €52/MWh in 2050.  The report suggests that by 2050, Solar PV is the cheapest electricity source in most regions, and consequently will dominate global supply providing 69% (with wind 18%, Hydro 8% and bioenergy 2%).  In their scenario the growth in storage is huge (a rise from 33 TWh to 55 128 TWh by 2050) and dominated by batteries, which provide 95% of capacity in 2050, with some seasonal storage provided by electricity to gas.

IEA report on Digitalisation

The International Energy Agency (IEA) have released a report on the digitalization of energy.  It recognises the increasing importance of digital technologies in transforming the energy system.  New smart technologies would be able to provide 185GW of flexibility and  save USD 270bn of infrastructure investment by 2040, the report suggests.  It also recognises the blurring of the distinction between supply and demand with smart grids and the growth of the Internet of Things  – and the new risks due to the possibility of cyber-attacks.  The report concludes with recommendations for policy and market design.

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