Monash University to go 100% renewable
Monash University in Melbourne, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and Indra Australia have announced a microgrid trial that will test the ability of the Monash University Clayton campus’ embedded network to become 100% renewable. The Au$7.1 million trial has received Au$2.97 million from ARENA and the results from the trial will be used to inform the Distributed Energy Integration Program (DEIP) announced last week and to help other universities to transition towards using renewable energy.
The microgrid will use up to 1MW of rooftop solar, 20 buildings with energy management systems, 1MWh of battery storage and electric vehicle charging stations. The microgrid will be run utilising Indra’s Ingrid ‘Advanced Grid Management’ (AGM) software platform.
AEMC assessment of generator bidding
The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) published their assessment of generator rebidding in the National Electricity Market (NEM) this week and concluded that ‘gaming’ was not taking place. The AEMC analysis found that generators were rebidding when price spikes were caused by other influences such as generator faults or network constraints. The report stated that the rebidding only caused a problem when there are high levels of market concentration which meant that dominant generator were able to set wholesale prices. The report recommends that ‘issues with industry structure are best addressed by policies that reduce market concentration, lower barriers to entry, and promote efficient new investment. Increased investment in generation capacity and demand response will improve competition and help alleviate the impact of market concentration in the future’.
Weather related events
In a first, California Pacific Gas & Electric cut off electricity service to nearly 60,000 people on Sunday in a new attempt to prevent wildfires across the Northern California service area during high winds and dry conditions. High winds can cause power lines to come into contact with vegetation, igniting fires. PG&E lines were found responsible for 16 fires last year and California lawmakers passed wildfire liability protections for utilities this summer after PG&E warned that fire costs could force it into bankruptcy or reorganization. Hurricane Michael (which hit the Florida Panhandle and then moved into Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas) led to 800,000 without services at the highest point. Southern Power in Alabama turned down the power in 2 nuclear power plants as a precautionary measure. Duke Power has said that they may need to rebuild parts of their system. The State of Florida PSC had issued a Report in the summer about the State’s preparedness following Hurricane Irma, and said it was much improved.
San Diego becomes US’s Green City of the Year
The credit report company (WalletHub) assessed the 100 largest U.S. cities on four main topics: environment, lifestyle and policy, transportation and energy sources. Within those categories, cities were judged on 26 ‘green’ indicators including smart energy policies, amount of green space, greenhouse gas emissions per capita, percentage of commuters who drive and green job opportunities.
NASEO tool to assess EV policies
Hawaii and CA are ahead in terms of EV penetration but there have been multiple policies across the US – some of which are more helpful than others. The National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO), has developed, along with Cadmus, a tool for states and localities to assess their policies and develop regulations that will encourage smart growth of charging infrastructure and vehicle adoption – based on success and failures of existing policies.
DNV forecast gloomy on achieving 2°C target
Norwegian company DNV produced its second energy transition forecast. According to the detailed study, oil demand will peak in the 2020s, total energy use will decline form the 2030s owing to rapid energy efficiency gains. EVs match internal combustion engine costs by 2024. Half of all energy supply is renewable by 2050, and over two-thirds of electricity production, but gas, oil and even coal still play a major role. But despite all this, the Paris 2 degree targets are comprehensively missed in DNV’s projections. In other words, even relatively optimistic predictions for the speed of the energy transition suggest a much hotter world.
EDF goes for electric mobility future
France’s EDF has laid out plans to become Europe’s leading electric mobility company within four years, aiming to become the largest changing operator and lead on smart charging technologies, targeting France, the UK, Italy and Belgium particularly. This move follows recent plans on solar and storage. Through its subsidiary, Sodetrel, EDF plans to deploy 75,000 charging points by 2022. EDF Energy in the UK has also developed a partnership with Nissan to test retired EV batteries for commercial second life storage.
Berlin start up offers to buy Hambach forest for €1million
Recent developments in the ongoing Hambach forest controversy have seen Berlin-based tech company Ecosia offer to buy the remaining 200 hectares of ancient woodland to save it from being destroyed for lignite mining. The not-for-profit search engine firm’s offer to buy the forest for one million euros was declined by the owner RWE but Ecosia have indicated that they are preparing a second offer. Ecosia donates the majority of its advertising revenue to conservation initiatives and has funded extensive tree planting across the world. The lignite mine, Tagebau Hambach, is one of the single largest sources of carbon dioxide emissions in Europe and Ecosia aim to protect the forest in order to prevent gigatons of carbon being released.
High power prices see German renewables start to run without support
Increases in the wholesale electricity price in Germany in 2018 have led to a reduction of the ‘market premium’ paid to renewable power generators like wind and solar, reports the German Renewable Energy Federation (BEE). For some installations, such as Wittstock PV plant, the market price has been over the market premium agreed in auctions since August so all revenue is being received from the market price, without the need for support. Wholesale power prices are expected to continue to increase due to higher EU ETS prices and the phase-out of nuclear and coal leading to increasing numbers of renewable plants running without the need for subsidy.
IEA World Renewables Market Report
The International Energy Agency (IEA) has released its annual assessment on the global renewable industry and the likely state of the market between 2018-23 and reaches some key conclusions, including:
- More than half of renewable electricity capacity is expected to be commissioned through competitive auctions, which continue to slash wind and solar PV bid prices to between USD 20 per megawatt hour (MWh) and USD 50/MWh.
- Solar PV is expected to increase by 600 GW during the next five years – compared to 400 GW at the end of 2017. The expansion of distributed generation spurs almost half of global PV capacity growth. Homes, businesses and large industrial applications are expected to generate almost 2% of global electricity output by 2023. Without distributed generation, solar PV growth would be comparable to that of wind expansion (325 GW).
- China continues to dominate renewable energy deployment, with 40% of the total increase, while the European Union is forecasted to install an additional 125 GW of capacity – making it the second largest growth market.
- The electricity consumption from cars, two- and three wheelers, and buses is expected to almost triple over the forecast period, but biofuels continue to dominate the renewable energy for transport.
Despite this expected growth the pace of renewable energy deployment needs to increase if the IEA’s Sustainable Energy Scenario is to be achieved. This will require Governments introducing measures to tackle policy and regulatory uncertainties as well as grid integration and financing challenges before 2020.
China Starts Operation of its First Commercial Scale Concentrated Solar Plant
China General Nuclear Power has started commercial operation of a concentrated solar plant (CSP), a 50 MW unit in the Gobi desert, in the Qinghai province, at a plant called Qinghai Delingha. This is the first CSP in China and with a total of 20 projects under development and a combined total of 1 GW of capacity, China is expected to become a key player in the global market. Other countries developing CSP include South Africa, India, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. However, in terms of deployed capacity, Spain is the world leader with 2.3 GW in operation, followed by the US with 1.7 GW.
The Chinese project has been part funded by the Asian Development Bank and is expected to annually generate 199 gigawatt-hour (GWh) and as it has 7 hours of thermal storage it can produce power throughout a 24 hours period. The total project cost $322 million, of which $150 million of financing was made available by the ADB.
The costs of CSP have fallen sharply. In 2006, the costs of CSP in Spain was US cents 31/kWh, but by the start of 2017 it has fallen to US cents 9.4. However, during 2017, there was a rapid further decline with auctions in Chile resulting in a new low of under 5 cents/kWh.