Global Insights: 20th February 2018

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Global Insights: 20th February 2018


See our latest series on postcards from Australia, so far from Sydney and Canberra. Coming soon…Melbourne.


Share of German citizen renewable energy shrinking

A few weeks ago we reported an infographic which indicated that up to 2016 citizens (households and farms) accounted for 42.5% of renewables ownership in Germany. At the same time the ‘Big Four’ German utilities, who used to cover 75% of the market, only account for 5.4%. Whilst at first glance these figures are impressive argue that these statistics don’t show how recent changes to renewable energy support is making community or citizen ownership less attractive. Following changes to the definition of a ‘citizen project’, project developers were able to win 90% of the capacity tendered in the second round on onshore wind auctions in 2017. Additionally it is likely that any preferential treatment for citizen projects in wind auctions will soon be removed. Changes to the EEG have also had an impact and overall the share of citizen energy fell from 47% at the end of 2012 to 42.5% at the end of 2016. Obviously this is still significant but raises questions about the future of citizen energy in Germany.

German cities to trial free public transport to cut pollution

Germany, the ‘car nation’ has made a surprise announcement that it will trail reducing road traffic by making public transport free. Other steps proposed include further restrictions on emissions from buses and taxis, low-emissions zones or support for car-sharing schemes.

Significant air quality concerns were a big driver for the proposals as Germany and eight fellow EU members including Spain, France and Italy failed to meet a 30 January deadline to meet EU limits on nitrogen dioxide and fine particles and are facing fines. There is also domestic political support for addressing transport emissions in the wake of the Volkswagen ‘dieselgate’ emissions scandal.

The proposal will be tested by “the end of this year at the latest” in five cities across western Germany, including former capital Bonn and industrial cities Essen and Mannheim.

Large scale floating solar for Holland?

The trend towards larger scale renewable investments in Europe continues with proposals for a 2,500 m2 floating solar panel array on the sea off the coast of the Netherlands. The project, being developed by Ditch based Oceans of Energy, will first see a pilot of 30 square metres of solar PV panels floating nine miles off The Hague. The cooling effect of the sea is expected to boost the electricity output of cells by 15% compared to land based solar, but there are also challenges of maintaining stability when waves are high.

Balearics to go zero carbon by 2050

Spanish islands Majorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera have declared that they will phase out all greenhouse gas production by 2050, with solar PV panels on all roofs above 1,000 m2, phase out of coal power plants, all car fleets electrified and LEDs for street lighting. However, the plan is caught up in a row about whether the regions or the national government in Madrid can set such ambitious climate policies.


More on the US Annual Energy Outlook

Following on from last week’s GI that gave some headlines on the EIAs Annual Energy Outlook, this appraisal from the Rocky Mountain Institute asks if the report is unmoored from the facts. Some headline observations question why the Energy Information Administration think that energy demand will grow in the US after two decades of evidence to the contrary. They also question why erroneous data is being used on the costs of renewables, and how their view of how markets will change is out of step and outdated with what is already happening. They also point out a number of other questionable aspects of the report, highlighting that the agency’s opaque assumptions and modelling methodology are a cause for ongoing concern.

The Utility of the Future

Also from RMI, a facebook live broadcast on the potential roles for utilities of the future, with representatives from across the sector including the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA), Navigant, Southern Company, American Public Power Association, Hawaii Public Utilities Commission, and CLEAResult. A wide range of insights are given, such as: the nature of system change, where utilities are in that, new ways of working and new business models, what technologies are already here and what is coming, plus what some of the issues and opportunities for utilities and wider actors going forward. Well worth 20 minutes of your time.

Wider Globe

Global and European annual wind updates published

Wind Europe and the Global Wind Energy Council have both published their reviews on the state of the industry at the end of 2017.  While globally the wind sector continues to grow, the rate of increase has slowed in recent years with 52GW of new capacity in 2017, down from a historic higher of 63GW in 2015.  The cumulative capacity is now 539 GW worldwide, a remarkable increase from just 24 GW in 2001. China remains the dominate player of the wind sector having deployed around 188 GW, including 20 GW of new capacity over the last 12 months. The clear majority of this global capacity is onshore and less than 19 GW offshore, most of which is in the EU.

In the EU an additional 15.7 GW of new capacity was installed in 2017, with onshore installations growing by 9% and offshore 10%.  Wind power capacity across the EU now totals 169 GW, which is equivalent of 55% of the total of all installed power generation.  In 2017, wind generated 336 TWh of power, covering 11.6% of total demand. Germany is the largest location of new capacity, installing 42% of the total.  The top 5 for wind’s contribution to national electricity demand are: Denmark (44.4%), Portugal (24.2 %), Ireland (24.0%), Germany (20.8%) and Spain (18.6%).  However, despite the relatively strong growth in 2017, the industry believes the medium and long term outlook is uncertain, due to the lack of clarity of ambition in the post 2020 period from a number of countries.

Global industry survey this study finds that falling costs are reducing policy obstruction to renewable deployment

A global survey of companies in the Lloyds register  engaged in renewable energy has found that “the improving economics of solar and wind are reducing the scope for policy changes to obstruct renewables growth”. The survey also reports when those surveyed believe that the different renewable energy types will meet grid parity first and in which country and conclude that for onshore and offshore wind it will be in Germany by 2024 and for Solar PV by China 2023.  However, many of those surveyed noted that reaching grid parity will not be enough to cause a sustainable increase in investment in renewables. Other than cost, factors affecting the future deployment of renewables were thought to be, slow development of storage technology, Government policies, insufficient investment by Government and energy companies and the weakness in the transmission and distribution systems.  Although the survey also noted that “more than 45% of the surveyed executives (including 55% of those based in Europe) say that resistance to onshore wind turbines in their countries is too strong to enable significant growth from this source”. Highlighting the importance of public acceptance.





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