QUICK NEWS, 11-30: SUN AND GLOBAL TRADE; BRAZIL’S WIND; WORLD’S BIGGEST NEW ENERGY LAB; RISING TIDES
SUN AND GLOBAL TRADE
Global PV Competition Creates Increased International Trade Disputes
Bettina Weiss, November 2010 (SEMI PV Group/The Grid)
"Critical to the healthy growth of the global solar PV market is a global trade system without restrictive barriers between countries…Any barrier that restricts the free trade of goods and services between countries raises overall costs…and decreases the amount fossil fuel displaced through solar…
"…Governments regularly protect economic sectors from international competition and favor various exporting industries through a variety of tax incentives, grants, and other actions. Even under what would be called optimum situations, there are often a number of formal and informal, intentional and unintentional, restrictions…[but] progress to a more bountiful use of solar for all nations means lowering barriers…[Today,] increasing trade frictions are threatening the growth and prosperity of the global PV marketplace…"
Anticipated supply (click to enlarge)
"…China began blocking all shipments of rare earth minerals… Japan initiated a trade dispute with Canada over Ontario’s feed-in tariff…[The U.S. will] investigate China’s aid to its clean-energy producers…In India, under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM)…goal for deploying 20GW of solar power by 2022…[mandated] modules [and cells] manufactured in India…
"Further fueling global trade friction is a PV market overwhelmingly characterized by wide imbalances between supply and demand. With over 75% of the world’s demand for solar power, Europe contributes only 25-30% of the global supply…[P]olitical support for effective solar policy is threatened by the policy dialog influenced by these large imbalances of supply and demand…In the background…is the simmering controversy over currency policy. Some economists complain that China is manipulating its currency, keeping domestic demand low while reducing the price of its exports…[P]olitical forces are in motion in both the United States and Europe that may have uncertain and detrimental outcomes to PV suppliers…"
Anticipated demand (click to enlarge)
"…[O]pen and free trade is essential to the healthy development of the solar power industry and critical to the continued replacement of fossil fuels by clean, renewable energy…[T]he SEMI PV Group support of free and open trade can be characterized by the following principles… the solar industry must reduce the world’s dependence on fossil fuels…[via] meaningful and effective public policies…[In Asia,] demand-side policies to encourage the development of local markets… The key technical challenge to the solar economy of the future, therefore, is to reduce the costs associated with PV manufacturing and installation…Global industry standards that reduce costs and enable innovation are an essential component…A global set of environmental health and safety standards and Best Practices are also essential…
"… Policies should be clearly defined, simple to understand and focused on solar power adoption goals… SEMI PV Group support[s] government policies that support manufacturing operations…[and] programs that seek [to] balance PV demand with PV supply…As the solar energy market continues to grow and develop, the SEMI PV Group will advocate policies that maintain free and open trade within the context of these principles…"
Will Brazil take the lead on wind energy in the Americas? Blessed with a strong, consistent wind resource that rivals the blustery coasts of Europe and the United States, Brazil is on track to increase its wind energy capacity fivefold by 2013, further establishing the ethanol and hydroelectric giant as Latin America's green energy leader.
Bob Moser, 12 November 2010 (Wind Energy Update)
"For multinational firms…significant questions remain over the country's ability to solve logistical transport issues, develop a regional supply chain and spur public policy that will unleash a steady stream of investment. But with an estimated 350 GW of onshore capacity alone, combined with large unpopulated land areas and a coastline of 9,650 km, Brazil’s wind energy market is difficult to ignore.
"Northern Brazil is home to some of the most consistent easterly wind patterns in the world, which allow for the use of lighter turbines that cost less than those used in the US and Europe. Brazil's wind market nearly doubled its installed capacity between 2008 and 2009 by reaching 606 MW, and as of November this year, installed capacity has reached 864 MW, with another 250-260 MW under very accelerated construction."
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"The country's first wind-only energy auction last December was considered a success, despite the average price of BRL148.3 (US$88.01) per megawatt-hour being lower than expected. This opened the door for multinationals like Vestas, GE, Suzlon and Alstom to announce their own domestic manufacturing within the next two years (Enercon and Impsa already produce turbines in Brazil)."
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"A second energy auction in late August saw wind projects secure more contracts than Brazilian energy staples like small hydroelectric and biomass, though the average price of BRL134.2/MWh fell…Those auctions have placed 3.9 gigawatts of new wind capacity in the pipeline for 2012 and 2013…
"Brazil's deficient transmission grid portends initially high costs for investors and consumers, while poor road infrastructure implies similarly high logistics costs [and there is not yet an adequately trained workforce]…While significant infrastructure hurdles exist, the state and private sector are meeting these challenges head on. As such, Brazil looks set to rival world wind energy markets in the not too distant future."
WORLD’S BIGGEST NEW ENERGY LAB
Climate change - Commission launches major investment programme for innovative low-carbon technologies; Financial support for at least eight projects involving carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies.
November 19, 2010 (World of Renewables)
"…[There has been the first call for proposals from] NER300, [the world’s largest programme of investment in low carbon and renewable energy demonstration projects from the European Commission]…The aim is to drive low carbon economic development in Europe, creating new 'green' jobs and contributing to the achievement of the EU's ambitious climate change goals. The European Investment Bank (EIB) is collaborating with the Commission in the implementation of the programme. Companies interested in making proposals have 3 months to submit bids...
"…[The] first call for proposals signals the start of implementation of the NER300 initiative. The initiative is so named because it will be funded from the sale of 300 million emission allowances in the New Entrants Reserve (NER) of the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS). At current market prices for emission allowances, the initiative is worth around EUR 4.5 billion, making it the biggest such programme in the world."
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"Funding is targeted to [at least 8] demonstration projects involving [carbon capture and storage (CCS)] and [at least 34] innovative renewable energy technologies. At least one project, and a maximum of three, will be funded per Member State…
"The programme will leverage investments of more than EUR 9 billion as the NER300 initiative will fund up to 50% of the construction and operation costs of the CCS and renewables projects. Project sponsors and Member States will provide the rest of the funding. NER300 funding can be combined with financing from other EU instruments…"
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"Under the NER300 decision (1), the EIB is responsible for selling the 300 million allowances and managing and disbursing the proceeds. While details, including the starting date of the sales, are not fixed yet, it is expected that all NER300 allowances will be sold before the start of the third trading period of the EU ETS in January 2013.
"The EIB will also undertake detailed financial and technical due diligence of project proposals before making recommendations in the form of a ranking of project proposals to the Commission. The Commission will take the final decision on which projects to co-finance after consulting Member States."
Tapping into tides for electricity
Bob Drogin, November 25, 2010 (LA Times via seattle Times)
"…[T]he little gray barge strains against a raging morning tide…[that] will drain nearby rocky inlets and fishing harbors by 20 feet — as high as a two-story house — only to flood them again six hours later…[U]nder the stern, horizontal turbines spin in the swirling current. The huge mechanism…is America's most ambitious effort yet to produce electricity by harnessing the gravitational pull of the moon and sun on the sea…
"…Ocean Renewable Power…aims to link a larger turbine system to eastern Maine's power grid next fall in the country's first small-scale commercial use of tidal energy…Tapping the tides is the latest niche in the search for affordable, renewable energy…Widespread use may be years off, but advocates say tides and other hydrokinetic systems, from ocean waves to free-flowing rivers, ultimately could meet up to 10 percent of America's electricity needs, more than hydropower dams now supply."
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"Pilot projects or studies are under way in Washington's Puget Sound, in Alaska's Cook Inlet, off the coasts of Florida, California, Oregon and Hawaii, in New York's East River, along the Mississippi River and elsewhere…[T]he technology for marine and hydrokinetic power remains in its infancy, and costs are prohibitively high. Ireland, Denmark, Portugal, South Korea, China, Australia and other nations have been testing the waters for years. Commercial operations are rare…Canada may be closest…[It] is investing $75 million for three pilot projects in the upper Bay of Fundy, home to the world's highest tides. The first test turbine weighs 400 tons, has a peak capacity of one megawatt and looks like a sunken windmill…[They hope] to gather enough data by 2015 to determine whether tidal power is technically feasible, environmentally safe and economically viable.
"In theory, the U.S. resource is immense. Waves and currents are relatively reliable in some areas, and tides ebb and flood twice a day like clockwork. As a result, they are more predictable resources than wind or solar power…[but] tides with sufficient range and velocity run only in the nation's northeastern and northwestern corners, mostly Maine and Washington, plus Alaska…Waves are consistently high only on the Pacific coast north of Point Conception, Calif., and in Hawaii."
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"Several developments suggest a surge of U.S. interest…The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission reported this month that it has issued 140 hydrokinetic preliminary permits for proposals to tap tides, waves or river currents, up from a handful a few years ago…Working with the Navy, for example, Ocean Power Technologies last month connected a small test buoy in the swells off Oahu to the power grid that serves the Marine Corps Base Hawaii, marking a first for a wave-energy device in U.S. waters…
"Tides in Maine's rugged Cobscook Bay, at the mouth of the Bay of Fundy, flow [fast]…Ocean Renewable Power, based in Portland, Maine, launched its first cross-flow turbine… in 2007…[I]t worked…The company built a bigger unit…for $2.5 million…Testing resumed Oct. 1 in a fast-flowing channel flanked by wooded hills and rocky cliffs…The environmental impact still isn't clear. University of Maine researchers are trying to assess risks to fish, diving seabirds, seals and other creatures in a pristine ecosystem…[T]he Snohomish County [Washington] Public Utility District…[has] plans to install two large turbines to gather tidal data one-half mile offshore and 200 feet deep…"