NewEnergyNews: TODAY’S STUDY: EUROPE’S PV TO 2016

NewEnergyNews

Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...

The challenge: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

  • THE STUDY: THE COST OF ADDING SOLAR TO A UTILITY’S OPERATIONS
  • QUICK NEWS, 7-21: U.S. WIND, SOLAR TO GROW THROUGH 2020; NEW GEOTHERMAL RISING; CHINESE HAVE RIGHTS IN OREGON WIND BUY
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • Weekend Video: Colbert Gets Into Coal Rolling
  • Weekend Video: How Solar Power Plants Store And Use Solar Energy
  • Weekend Video: A Story About People And Wind Energy
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    GET THE DAILY HEADLINES EMAIL: CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS OR SEND YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS TO: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-THE CLIMATE CHANGED WORLD IS NOW 5 TIMES MORE DANGEROUS
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-THE MONEY IN SOLAR, Q2 2014
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-EU STILL GROWING OCEAN WIND
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-$109MIL FROM GERMAN BANK BACKS KENYA GEOTHERMAL
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, July 17:

  • TTTA Thursday-THE PREMATURE EVACUATION FROM CLIMATE CHANGE EXCITEMENT
  • TTTA Thursday-NEW ENERGY TO SUSTAIN BIG GROWTH – EIA
  • TTTA Thursday-SOLAR’S COST TO UTILITIES
  • TTTA Thursday-HOW UTILITIES CAN EVOLVE IN A NEW ENERGY WORLD
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: HOW TO PROTECT A CAP AND TRADE PROGRAM
  • QUICK NEWS, July 16: 88% OF NEW U.S. POWER IN MAY WAS NEW ENERGY; THE FIGHT FOR WIND IN OHIO; U.S. CRITICAL SYSTEMS REGULARLY BREACHED
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • THE STUDY: THE COSTS AND BENEFITS OF NET ENERGY METERING FOR DISTRIBUTED RENEWABLES
  • QUICK NEWS, July 15: THE SMART GRID IS COMING; LA UTILITY WANTS A SOLAR FEED-IN TARIFF, NOT NET METERING; FORESEEING A SELF-DRIVING VEHICLE MARKET
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    Anne B. Butterfield of Daily Camera and Huffington Post, is a biweekly contributor to NewEnergyNews

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT)

    November 26, 2013 (Huffington Post via NewEnergyNews)

    Everywhere we turn, environmental news is filled with horrid developments and glimpses of irreversible tipping points.

    Just a handful of examples are breathtaking: Scientists have dared to pinpoint the years at which locations around the world may reach runaway heat, and in the northern hemisphere it's well in sight for our children: 2047. Survivors of Superstorm Sandy are packing up as costs of repair and insurance go out of reach, one threat that climate science has long predicted. Or we could simply talk about the plight of bees and the potential impact on food supplies. Surprising no one who explores the Pacific Ocean, sailor Ivan MacFadyen described long a journey dubbed The Ocean is Broken, in which he saw vast expanses of trash and almost no wildlife save for a whale struggling a with giant tumor on its head, evoking the tons of radioactive water coming daily from Fukushima's lamed nuclear power center. Rampaging fishing methods and ocean acidification are now reported as causing the overpopulation of jellyfish that have jammed the intakes of nuclear plants around the world. Yet the shutting down of nuclear plants is a trifling setback compared with the doom that can result in coming days at Fukushima in the delicate job to extract bent and spent fuel rods from a ruined storage tank, a project dubbed "radioactive pick up sticks."

    With all these horrors to ponder you wouldn't expect to hear that you should also worry about the United States running out of coal. But you would be wrong, says Leslie Glustrom, founder and research director for Clean Energy Action. Her contention is that we've passed the peak in our nation's legendary supply of coal that powers over one-third of our grid capacity. This grim news is faithfully spelled out in three reports, with the complete story told in Warning: Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves (pdf). (Disclosure: I serve on CEA's board and have known the author for years.)

    Glustrom's research presents a sea change in how we should understand our energy challenges, or experience grim consequences. It's not only about toxic and heat-trapping emissions anymore; it's also about having enough energy generation to run big cities and regions that now rely on coal. Glustrom worries openly about how commerce will go on in many regions in 2025 if they don't plan their energy futures right.

    2013-11-05-FigureES4_FULL.jpgclick to enlarge

    Scrutinizing data for prices on delivered coal nationwide, Glustrom's new report establishes that coal's price has risen nearly 8 percent annually for eight years, roughly doubling, due mostly to thinner, deeper coal seams plus costlier diesel transport expenses. Higher coal prices in a time of "cheap" natural gas and affordable renewables means coal companies are lamed by low or no profits, as they hold debt levels that dwarf their market value and carry very high interest rates.

    2013-11-05-Table_ES2_FULL.jpgclick to enlarge

    2013-11-05-Figure_ES2_FULL.jpg

    One leading coal company, Patriot, filed for bankruptcy last year; many others are also struggling under bankruptcy watch and not eager to upgrade equipment for the tougher mining ahead. Add to this the bizarre event this fall of a coal lease failing to sell in Wyoming's Powder River Basin, the "Fort Knox" of the nation's coal supply, with some pundits agreeing this portends a tightening of the nation's coal supply, not to mention the array of researchers cited in the report. Indeed, at the mid point of 2013, only 488 millions tons of coal were produced in the U.S.; unless a major catch up happens by year-end, 2013 may be as low in production as 1993.

    Coal may exist in large quantities geologically, but economically, it's getting out of reach, as confirmed by US Geological Survey in studies indicating that less than 20 percent of US coal formations are economically recoverable, as explored in the CEA report. To Glustrom, that number plus others translate to 10 to 20 years more of burning coal in the US. It takes capital, accessible coal with good heat content and favorable market conditions to assure that mining companies will stay in business. She has observed a classic disconnect between camps of professionals in which geologists tend to assume money is "infinite" and financial analysts tend to assume that available coal is "infinite." Both biases are faulty and together they court disaster, and "it is only by combining thoughtful estimates of available coal and available money that our country can come to a realistic estimate of the amount of US coal that can be mined at a profit." This brings us back to her main and rather simple point: "If the companies cannot make a profit by mining coal they won't be mining for long."

    No one is more emphatic than Glustrom herself that she cannot predict the future, but she presents trend lines that are robust and confirmed assertively by the editorial board at West Virginia Gazette:

    Although Clean Energy Action is a "green" nonprofit opposed to fossil fuels, this study contains many hard economic facts. As we've said before, West Virginia's leaders should lower their protests about pollution controls, and instead launch intelligent planning for the profound shift that is occurring in the Mountain State's economy.

    The report "Warning, Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves" and its companion reports belong in the hands of energy and climate policy makers, investors, bankers, and rate payer watchdog groups, so that states can plan for, rather than react to, a future with sea change risk factors.

    [Clean Energy Action is fundraising to support the dissemination of this report through December 11. Contribute here.]

    It bears mentioning that even China is enacting a "peak coal" mentality, with Shanghai declaring that it will completely ban coal burning in 2017 with intent to close down hundreds of coal burning boilers and industrial furnaces, or shifting them to clean energy by 2015. And Citi Research, in "The Unimaginable: Peak Coal in China," took a look at all forms of energy production in China and figured that demand for coal will flatten or peak by 2020 and those "coal exporting countries that have been counting on strong future coal demand could be most at risk." Include US coal producers in that group of exporters.

    Our world is undergoing many sorts of change and upheaval. We in the industrialized world have spent about a century dismissing ocean trash, overfishing, pesticides, nuclear hazard, and oil and coal burning with a shrug of, "Hey it's fine, nature can manage it." Now we're surrounded by impacts of industrial-grade consumption, including depletion of critical resources and tipping points of many kinds. It is not enough to think of only ourselves and plan for strictly our own survival or convenience. The threat to animals everywhere, indeed to whole systems of the living, is the grief-filled backdrop of our times. It's "all hands on deck" at this point of human voyaging, and in our nation's capital, we certainly don't have that. Towns, states and regions need to plan fiercely and follow through. And a fine example is Boulder Colorado's recent victory to keep on track for clean energy by separating from its electric utility that makes 59 percent of its power from coal.

    Clean Energy Action is disseminating "Warning: Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves" for free to all manner of relevant professionals who should be concerned about long range trends which now include the supply risks of coal, and is supporting that outreach through a fundraising campaign.

    [Clean Energy Action is fundraising to support the dissemination of this report through December 11. Contribute here.]

    Author's note: Want to support my work? Please "fan" me at Huffpost Denver, here (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anne-butterfield). Thanks.

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    Anne's previous NewEnergyNews columns:

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT), November 26, 2013
  • SOLAR FOR ME BUT NOT FOR THEE ~ Xcel's Push to Undermine Rooftop Solar, September 20, 2013
  • NEW BILLS AND NEW BIRDS in Colorado's recent session, May 20, 2013
  • Lies, damned lies and politicians (October 8, 2012)
  • Colorado's Elegant Solution to Fracking (April 23, 2012)
  • Shale Gas: From Geologic Bubble to Economic Bubble (March 15, 2012)
  • Taken for granted no more (February 5, 2012)
  • The Republican clown car circus (January 6, 2012)
  • Twenty-Somethings of Colorado With Skin in the Game (November 22, 2011)
  • Occupy, Xcel, and the Mother of All Cliffs (October 31, 2011)
  • Boulder Can Own Its Power With Distributed Generation (June 7, 2011)
  • The Plunging Cost of Renewables and Boulder's Energy Future (April 19, 2011)
  • Paddling Down the River Denial (January 12, 2011)
  • The Fox (News) That Jumped the Shark (December 16, 2010)
  • Click here for an archive of Butterfield columns

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    Some details about NewEnergyNews and the man behind the curtain: Herman K. Trabish, Agua Dulce, CA., Doctor with my hands, Writer with my head, Student of New Energy and Human Experience with my heart

    email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    Your intrepid reporter

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      A tip of the NewEnergyNews cap to Phillip Garcia for crucial assistance in the design implementation of this site. Thanks, Phillip.

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    Pay a visit to the HARRY BOYKOFF page at Basketball Reference, sponsored by NewEnergyNews and Oil In Their Blood.

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  • Tuesday, May 22, 2012

    TODAY’S STUDY: EUROPE’S PV TO 2016

    Global Market Outlook for Photovoltaics Until 2016

    May 2012 (European Photovoltaic Industry Association

    Introduction

    Solar photovoltaic (PV) electricity continued its remarkable growth trend in 2011, even in the midst of a financial and economic crisis and even as the PV industry was enduring a period of consolidation. As they have for the past decade, PV markets again grew faster than anyone had expected both in Europe and around the world. Such a rapid growth rate cannot be expected to last forever, however, and the industry is now weathering a period of uncertainty in the short-term. But over the medium- and long-terms the prospects for continued robust growth are good. The results of 2011 – and indeed the outlook for the next several years – show that under the right policy conditions PV can continue its progress towards competitiveness in key electricity markets and become a mainstream energy source.

    This report assesses the European and global markets for PV in 2011, and makes forecasts for the next five years. It is based on an internal analysis of data from industry members, national associations, government agencies and electric utilities. The figures presented were discussed and analysed by key players from the PV industry at our 7th EPIA Market Workshop in Brussels in March 2012. A note on the methodology used in this report: EPIA bases its analysis on PV systems that have been connected to the grid; the implications of this choice for how market growth is assessed and the differences between installations and connections are discussed in the Methodology section.

    Our major findings for 2011 include:

    • 29.7 GW of PV systems were connected to the grid in 2011, up from 16.8 GW in 2010; PV is now, after hydro and wind power, the third most important renewable energy source in terms of globally installed capacity

    • 21.9 GW were connected in Europe in 2011, compared to 13.4 GW in 2010; Europe still accounts for the predominant share of the global PV market, with 75% of all new capacity in 2011

    • Italy was the top market for the year, with 9.3 GW connected, followed by Germany with 7.5 GW; Italy and Germany accounted for nearly 60% of global market growth during the past year

    • China was the top non-European PV market in 2011, with 2.2 GW installed, followed by USA with 1.9 GW

    • The number of markets achieving more than 1 GW of additional PV capacity during 2011 rose from three to six: Italy, Germany, France, China, Japan, USA

    An industry at the crossroads

    European markets where PV has developed vigorously in recent years have reached, at least for the time being, a level that will be difficult to maintain in the two coming years.

    The market slowdown in Europe will not immediately be offset by market growth elsewhere in the world, but a rebalancing has begun. New markets around the world will have to be opened up to drive PV development in the coming decade just as Europe accounted for it until now.

    Many existing markets – in particular China, the USA and Japan, but also India – have addressed only a very small part of their enormous potential for PV development. Moreover, several countries from large sunbelt regions like Africa, the Middle East, South East Asia and South America are on the brink of starting their development, pushed by an increasing awareness of solar PV potential. As a whole, the global PV market will grow more sustainably, driven by the competitiveness of PV solutions rather than mainly by financial support schemes. But this Paradigm Shift will not happen overnight.

    Lessons from key markets

    The specific situations in some countries are worth examining for what they can teach us about how PV markets evolve. It is important, for example, to consider whether the factors that drove the strong growth numbers in some markets are sustainable over a longer period. In Italy, the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) was high – resulting in a high rate of return – and was not adapted sufficiently to cope with the price decrease; moreover, the country’s “Salva Alcoa” legislation resulted in many installations from 2010 being connected in 2011 and receiving the 2010 FiT level.

    In Germany, the situation was different. The annual update of the FiT did not come in time to offset the system price decrease. The resulting attractiveness of the return drew investors and there was a market boom before the January 2012 FiT decrease took effect.

    Again the message is clear: A corridor concept is good if it can adapt the FiT with regular, measured updates; otherwise it could trigger boom-and-bust cycles. There were peculiarities in other countries as well. France’s 2011 result was strong, but it included connections of installations done in 2010 and does not reflect the real market situation in the country. The UK market faced a situation similar to that of Germany: Investors were attracted by high FiT income and acted quickly after support cuts had been announced but before they took effect.

    If any general lesson can be drawn from the various market analyses, it is this: Sudden, stop-and-start policies (making harsh and/or frequent changes in the FiTs, for example) can threaten PV’s growth momentum by destroying investor confidence. What is needed is a more measured response to market developments. This balanced approach will lead PV gradually out of the Feed-in Tariff era and into one in which the technology is competitive against all electricity sources and in which governments continue to support market development in other ways – for example by removing bureaucratic barriers, encouraging innovation, and ensuring grid access.

    Where will new growth occur?

    With the boom-and-bust cycles that have destroyed the Czech market and hindered the Spanish one, there are not many contenders to replace Germany and Italy as the two leading European markets. Germany, Belgium, Greece, Italy and the UK will, to varying extents, continue to draw investors. In all, there is a potential for around 20 to 25 GW in Europe in the coming years with the right policies in place. Otherwise, the market will collapse to possibly less than 10 GW a year. The effects of this will be felt globally: low demand, companies suffering from low prices, a negative effect on the global industry.

    Outside Europe, however, the PV market is expanding quickly – with more than 100% growth in 2011. Another sign of important change in the PV market is the fact that China was, for the first time, the top non-European PV market. The US market doubled, and Japan is also making significant progress. The potential for future growth outside Europe is tremendous and PV will soon expand in dozens of countries thanks to its competitiveness. This non-European market could top between 38 and 77 GW in 2016, with the right policies in place everywhere.

    PV in the electricity mix

    PV is now a significant part of Europe’s electricity mix, producing 2% of the demand in the EU and roughly 4% of peak demand. In Italy, PV covers 5% of the electricity demand, and more than 10% of peak demand. In Bavaria, a federal state in southern Germany, the PV installed capacity amounts to 600 W per habitant. This is roughly three panels per capita – an astounding figure. Policy support has been crucial to getting PV to this place in its development – just as it was crucial to helping develop all other energy sources (fossil and fissile) in the past. But now PV needs to demonstrate that it is a mature industry, ready for the next stage of its development. The industry does not expect nor want FiTs to last forever. But for PV to realise its full potential, the PV sector needs them (and, eventually, other forms of policy support) to finish closing the competitiveness gap.

    Conclusion

    The record market growth of PV in 2011 in Europe and around the world was driven by several factors, including:

    • Renewable energy has continued to prove itself to be a mainstream energy source and a significant contributor to achieving energy, environmental and economic goals

    • Some countries (especially Germany and Italy) have increased their focus on RES in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, requiring them to consider new policies that move the market in this direction

    • PV modules have undergone significant price decreases, further increasing their attractiveness to investors and accelerating the technology’s drive toward competitiveness with conventional electricity sources

    • In some countries, questions about the future of support-scheme levels has produced boom-and-bust cycles

    Europe once again was the global leader in PV market growth, with 75% of all newly connected capacity in 2011 and about 75% of global installed capacity. But non-European markets are showing signs that they may soon shift this balance in their favour. China, a production giant that has long had a relatively minuscule market, is fast becoming a source of increasing demand. The USA and Japan are also gaining momentum. Other countries, especially in the Sunbelt region, have enormous potential for solar development that has only just begun to be tapped.

    This is significant, because if PV is to continue growing the balance of development will have to shift to new markets – both inside and outside of Europe. A situation in which Germany and Italy account for nearly 60% of global market growth is unsustainable.

    While those markets will continue to be important (also as exemplars of how government policy can condition proper growth), other countries will have to supply more of the growth. In other words, the recent deployment rates can no longer be taken for granted. Keeping and increasing the momentum of PV development will require smart, measured policy support that moves beyond FiTs and toward other incentives, such as removal of administrative barriers.

    The challenge may seem daunting. But the fact that the global market for PV has continued to grow even in times of economic crisis shows there is a demand that can withstand a difficult period. With proper policy support, balanced market development, and continued industry innovation, the world’s most promising source of electricity can continue its remarkable growth rate over the short-, medium- and long-term, and even beyond.

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