Tag: Renewable energy

Chief Executive Officer of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Energy for All Rachel Kyte has said her organisation is ready to partner with Caribbean governments and institutions to secure a clean, affordable and reliable energy future.

She was delivering the William G. Demas Memorial Lecture at the Caribbean Development Bank’s (CDB) 46th annual Board of Governors Meeting at the Iberostar Resort in Lilliput, St James, on Tuesday.

Sustainable Energy for All is the brainchild of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Its main objectives are ensuring universal access to modern energy services and doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency and the share of renewables in the global energy mix.

Kyte said that energy demand is not only the dominant contributor to climate change, but is central to nearly every major challenge and opportunity the world faces today.

She noted that there are 1.1 billion people around the world who still have little or no access to energy, and three billion who rely on wood, coal, charcoal or animal waste for cooking and heating.

DESERVE ACCESS

“We the peoples of the UN want a planet and a future that’s not ravaged by climate change. We the peoples deserve access to affordable, clean and reliable energy and we the peoples know that the time for action is now,” she said.

Kyte noted that the impacts of climate change are being felt all around the world, particularly in the Caribbean. She added that rainfall patterns are changing, which have caused a number of islands to experience prolonged dry seasons and severely low reservoir levels.

“This severely impacts the ability of island nations to grow local crops,” she pointed out, citing loss of an estimated 2,190 hectares of crops valued at millions of dollars in Jamaica due to drought.

Kyte pointed out that the CDB has an essential role to play in providing financing for sustainable energy projects.

 

The Gleaner

 

 

 

Chief Executive Officer of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Energy for All Rachel Kyte has said her organisation is ready to partner with Caribbean governments and institutions to secure a clean, affordable and reliable energy future.

She was delivering the William G. Demas Memorial Lecture at the Caribbean Development Bank’s (CDB) 46th annual Board of Governors Meeting at the Iberostar Resort in Lilliput, St James, on Tuesday.

Sustainable Energy for All is the brainchild of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Its main objectives are ensuring universal access to modern energy services and doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency and the share of renewables in the global energy mix.

Kyte said that energy demand is not only the dominant contributor to climate change, but is central to nearly every major challenge and opportunity the world faces today.

She noted that there are 1.1 billion people around the world who still have little or no access to energy, and three billion who rely on wood, coal, charcoal or animal waste for cooking and heating.

DESERVE ACCESS

“We the peoples of the UN want a planet and a future that’s not ravaged by climate change. We the peoples deserve access to affordable, clean and reliable energy and we the peoples know that the time for action is now,” she said.

Kyte noted that the impacts of climate change are being felt all around the world, particularly in the Caribbean. She added that rainfall patterns are changing, which have caused a number of islands to experience prolonged dry seasons and severely low reservoir levels.

“This severely impacts the ability of island nations to grow local crops,” she pointed out, citing loss of an estimated 2,190 hectares of crops valued at millions of dollars in Jamaica due to drought.

Kyte pointed out that the CDB has an essential role to play in providing financing for sustainable energy projects.

The Gleaner 

Zero emission milestone reached as country is powered by just wind, solar and hydro-generated electricity for 107 hours

Portugal’s clean energy surge has been spurred by the EU’s renewable targets for 2020.

Electricity consumption in the country was fully covered by solar, wind and hydro power in an extraordinary 107-hour run that lasted from 6.45am on Saturday 7 May until 5.45pm the following Wednesday, the analysis says.

News of the zero emissions landmark comes just days after Germany announced that clean energy had powered almost all its electricity needs on Sunday 15 May, with power prices turning negative at several times in the day – effectively paying consumers to use it.

James Watson, the CEO of SolarPower Europe said: “This is a significant achievement for a European country, but what seems extraordinary today will be commonplace in Europe in just a few years. The energy transition process is gathering momentum and records such as this will continue to be set and broken across Europe.”

As recently as 2013, Portugal generated half its electricity from combustible fuels, with 27% coming from nuclear, 13% from hydro, 7.5% from wind and 3% from solar, according to Eurostat figures.

By last year the figure had flipped, with wind providing 22% of electricity and all renewable sources together providing 48%, according to the Portuguese renewable energy association.

While Portugal’s clean energy surge has been spurred by the EU’s renewable targets for 2020, support schemes for new wind capacity were reduced in 2012.

Despite this, Portugal added 550MW of wind capacity between 2013 and 2016, and industry groups now have their sights firmly set on the green energy’s export potential, within Europe and without.

In 2015, wind power alone met 42% of electricity demand in Denmark, 20% in Spain, 13% in Germany and 11% in the UK.

In a move hailed as a “historic turning point” by clean energy supporters, UK citizens last week enjoyed their first ever week of coal-free electricity generation.

Watson said: “The age of inflexible and polluting technologies is drawing to an end and power will increasingly be provided from clean, renewable sources.”

The Guardian

United States (US) Vice-President Joe Biden has warned regional leaders that volatile oil prices will return. On this basis, he is urging them to use every opportunity to explore clean and alternative energy sources to bolster the prosperity of the Caribbean and Central America.

“This is a moment of opportunity to turn that progress into sustainable energy security that will endure when volatile oil prices return. And they will return,” Biden cautioned the heads of government during the US-Caribbean-Central American Energy Summit in Washington, DC, held earlier this month.

“The good news is that we’re at a nexus for transforming, with transformative opportunities here. Low oil prices mean more money this day is available for investment in new energy infrastructure,” said Biden.

“It’s equivalent to US$1 billion of stimulus just in the region [and] lower energy prices. Our abundance of natural gas provides a critical, clear transition fuel as we’re moving towards adopting renewable technologies.”

Biden said strengthening energy security was among the focus areas for himself and US President Barack Obama.

He noted that North America – Mexico, the US and Canada – is the epicentre of energy production in the world and pointed out that his country recently inaugurated a liquefied natural gas export terminal that has just sent its first cargo of gas to Latin America.

The US had also announced a deal to export natural gas to Jamaica during last year’s staging of the Summit.

“Here’s the truth. We want you to be energy secure so more people across this region can – your region can start businesses, connect to the Internet, generate opportunities, attract foreign investment, grow, grow. The more you grow, the more you prosper, the better off my country is. And it strengthens our security, as well as yours. And it opens up new opportunities for shared economic growth,” he said.

The Gleaner

When it comes to grabbing headlines with visions of the future, few can beat entrepreneur and inventor Elon Musk. He’s behind SpaceX, the rocket company that he sees as a vehicle to his dream of colonising Mars.

Better known, perhaps, are his Tesla electric cars, an increasingly common sight in the US and here in the UK.

While powerful rockets and fast cars might be the most exciting of Musk’s products, his hopes of changing the way we live are much more likely to be delivered by something much more prosaic – Tesla’s Powerwall. Much less glamorous than Musk’s other concepts, this plain white battery, intended to harness energy from renewable sources such as the wind and sun and make it available for household use or feed back into the power network, could have a far bigger impact than anything else the billionaire has dreamt up.

The concept behind these batteries in homes – which working together are known as a “distributed grid” – is that they will store up cheap electricity generated when demand is lower, then discharge it at peak times when energy from the traditional network supplied mainly by large power stations is expensive.

Not only do these batteries – known as “behind the meter” storage – raise the prospect of reducing households’ electricity costs by optimising the time they receive power, they could cut further bills by selling excess power back to the network at times of high demand. They could also provide an emergency back-up if the main grid fails.

There are other wider advantages to the system. Having batteries in every home solves the problem of solar and wind farms producing electricity when there is no demand for it and nowhere to store it, and they could also ease the current strain on the transmission grid as power is sent from large power stations. Perhaps most importantly, they could reduce the world’s reliance on fossil fuels by allowing green energy sources to be fully utilised without the worry of the wind dropping or the sun being hidden by clouds.

The whole idea might sound like a pipe dream, but it is becoming more a more real possibility. While Tesla is raising the profile of home energy storage, other less visible players are operating in the sector and already installing batteries in British houses.

However, last week just how seriously the concept is being taken was shown with a series of big moves in the sector. First came France, with oil giant Total on Monday announcing a £750m scheme to buy battery group Saft as it looked beyond the low oil price and to a future away from fossil fuels.

A day later, Engie, previously known as GDF Suez, revealed it had taken an 80pc stake in California start-up Green Charge Networks, a leading player in behind-the-meter batteries. But the most significant event came later the same day from automotive giant Nissan. As well as revealing it would begin using its Sunderland battery factory to start recycling the power packs from its Leaf electric cars for use as home power storage devices, the Japanese company said it had picked the UK for a much more important trial.

Under the title of Nissan Futures, it revealed a new vision for how electric cars will be used in the years ahead. A pilot project will see 100 Leaf cars plugging into the energy network and using their batteries as extra storage, in what it hopes could combine transport and energy in the future.

“As a company, we recognise there will be massive change in the future,” said Paul Willcox, Nissan’s European chairman. “There’s a revolution in the market and we need to think about how we evolve and what the car’s role is in society.”

The cost of power from solar is falling rapidly – down 40pc 2012, according to KPMG
The cost of power from solar is falling rapidly – down 40pc 2012, according to KPMG

Nissan’s plan is rather eloquent and effectively kills two birds with a single stone. The average Leaf uses only a quarter of its battery power before recharging, meaning there is a large capacity going spare for most of the time.  The Leaf’s 30 kilowatt hour (kWh) battery can store enough energy to supply the average home’s needs for two days according to Willcox, but under Nissan’s scheme, this capacity is put to much more practical use. By plugging in at home overnight, the cars charge up on cheap late-night electricity, but their batteries are available to feed into the network at times of peak demand.

Willcox says the trial envisages electric vehicles as “mobile power plants, energy hubs” with them plugging in to offer up their resources not just at homes overnight, but also at workplaces during the day.

A giant such as Nissan weighing into the sector shows just how seriously energy storage is being taken, and the fact that the former chief executive of National Grid, Steve Holliday, is on board only emphasises it.

Cynics might argue that the idea is fanciful at best, but Willcox is confident of its potential. “Oil may be cheap now, but that is not going to last forever and people are increasingly going to want electric vehicles – it makes sense to use them in this way,” he says, adding that while Tesla is a “credible company”, Nissan began making electric vehicles in the 1940s.

“Some may see this as blue sky thinking but it is real and tangible now,” Willcox adds. “Six or seven years ago, when we invested heavily in battery vehicles people laughed at us, but we have 230,000 Leafs on the road now.”

Holliday argues that moving to a distributed grid could that takes advantage of cheap energy makes sense. “In the future we could see a time when electrons are free,” he says. “On this island, we have times now when people effectively pay to use electricity because of the cost of having to shut down [existing power plants] when there is low demand.”

Nissan makes a convincing argument and is certainly planting its flag firmly in what is a land grab for a huge industry of the future, though Willcox concedes the whole car industry will need to work together for the potential of “vehicle to grid” to be realised.

However, for a distributed grid to work, there needs to be a major reform of legislation around the UK power market, according to industry body Energy Storage Network (ESN). “The current system of buying and selling electricity is not fit for purpose,” said ESN director Anthony Price. “The paradox is that almost everything except storing electricity is subsided.”

Almost 1m UK homes have solar panels and Price estimates that several tens of thousands of UK homes have battery systems. To get these figures closer to parity the process of storing electricity and selling it back to the grid needs to be overhauled. However, Price says that even without the benefits of these batteries being charged from renewable sources, the UK needs to invest in battery storage.

“We have a variable demand for energy because we are human,” he says. “We run generation to match demand and there is a lot of effort to meet the peaks – such as everyone switching on the kettle when Coronation  Street finishes – and that costs a lot, and the power is often from the dirtiest power plants which take time to be fired up.

Almost 1m UK homes have solar panels
Almost 1m UK homes have solar panels

“Battery storage – whether behind-the-meter or in community batteries at the end of the street – has the effect of taking out those peaks in demand and allows you to operate a much more efficient system.”

Cyrille Brisson, vice-president at global power management group Eaton, which is working with Nissan, agrees, saying that the present system requires large numbers of power stations ready to meet peak demands.

“At the moment we have to have massive over-capacity – which is expensive – to meet fluctuating demands, but with renewables you have unpredictable generation,” he says. “However, with storage in the middle you do not have to oversize everything. You get a ‘good load’ on the electricity grid where the spikes in generation and consumption are flattened out by the storage.”

Arguments that the wind might not blow or the sun won’t shine are false, argues Brisson, claiming that the “Sahara produces 100 times the wind and sun” to power the planet, and the technology for this “absolutely exists”.

He also warns against trying to subsidise the market to encourage the take-up of energy storage. “The worst thing you can do is subsidise it. The public think that renewables mean an extra tax on them, and regulation has got to make it clear it is not that. What is needed is a transparent market, so as the costs fall people will see it is cheaper.”

The cost of power from solar is falling rapidly – down 40pc 2012, according to KPMG – and Brisson argues that technological advances will soon make it as cheap as fossil fuels.

The Government also sees the potential in energy storage systems, having declared it one of eight “great technologies” it sees the UK as having the potential to become a world leader in. Nissan’s Willcox acknowledges this, noting the UK’s “encouraging” environment was a factor in picking Britain as the site for the global V2G pilot programme.

The public might find the idea of a battery in the home helping to solve complex problems about the UK’s energy needs hard to imagine. However, Joe Warren, chief executive of start-up Powervault, sees it a different way.

His company’s 4kWh batteries start at £2,500 and are capable of providing about a third of the needs of a typical British home, having charged themselves from roof mounted solar panels and Warren hopes to have 500 of them installed in Britain by the end of the year.

“There’s a massive transition away from centralised power generation,” he says, as news breaks that the cost of the long-delayed Hinkley Point nuclear power plant may rise by £3bn to £21bn. “It makes sense to decentralise when instead you can make small investments of £1m or £100m on wind farms or solar power stations.

“We hope to make a home battery as common as a dishwasher in every kitchen.”

Flipboard

Andrew Wheatley

Jamaicans could be on track to benefit following the successful completion of the most recent electricity-generation procurement process managed by the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR).

The process saw the selection of Eight Rivers Energy Company Limited (EREC) as the preferred bidder to build, own and operate a 33.1 MW solar photovoltaic power-generation facility at Paradise Park, Westmoreland. The proposed price (all-in tariff) is 8.54 US cents/kWh.

This latest OUR-managed project is the most competitive renewable energy procurement project to date and is in keeping with the trend in the reduction in the price of energy from renewable sources. This bid is significantly cheaper than the tariffs proposed for the projects which were selected from a similar competitive procurement commenced in 2012 and based on wind turbine and solar technologies. The 37MW project has so far met all its deadlines, with the evaluations being completed by the OUR on April 26, 2016 and the highest-ranked bidders being notified of the evaluation results on May 6, 2016.

“The OUR is pleased with the proposed all-in tariff of 8.54 US cents/kWh, which we believe has set the pricing bar for future renewable projects,” said Albert Gordon, director general of the OUR.

Commenting on the project, Minister of Science Energy and Technology Dr Andrew Wheatley noted that the project executed by the OUR “marks the lowest cost ever for solar power in Jamaica, and also advances Government’s major policy objective, namely, the diversification of Jamaica’s energy supply mix to reduce cost and dependence on imported oil”.

The next step in the project requires EREC to finalise the various project agreements. If they fail in this regard, the OUR would move to the bidder(s) next in line.

 

The Gleaner

Holness                                                                      Ricardo Makyn

 

Washington, DC:

Prime Minister Andrew Holness is optimistic that Jamaica will become the hub for gas in the Caribbean and promises that his government will be strategic in its efforts to diversify the country’s energy sector.

“Renewables will have to feature in a far greater way in our energy mix. The falling oil prices give us a window of opportunity to bring in new technology, to bring in new investors,” he said yesterday during an interview with Jamaican journalists at the US Caribbean Central American Energy Summit in Washington, DC. The summit was held at the Department of State.

“The emphasis (will be) on diversification in ensuring that we are the hub that will reduce our exposure to volatility,” he said.

Holness, along with other regional leaders, met with United States Vice President Joseph Biden yesterday morning for a Caribbean Heads of Delegation meeting. He said the exchange has given him some insight into how other countries in the region are using alternative energy for their electricity, water, and transportation sectors.

“I think we will have to look more closely at our transportation sector, particularly the JUTC (Jamaican Urban Transit Company), which are fairly heavy users of oil and heavy fuel, to see how best we can get energy efficiency from diversifying their fuel use,” he said.

 

BURDEN FOR JAMAICA

 

The prime minister noted that energy has been a burden for Jamaica for many years, but he believes that several initiatives implemented by Biden and US President Barack Obama over the years have contributed to finding solutions to the problem. Obama reinforced his administration’s commitment to assist the region with exploring clean-energy solutions when he launched the Task Force on US Caribbean and Central American Energy Security during his visit to Jamaica in April 2015. Just a few months prior to the launch of the task force, Biden hosted the first US Caribbean Central American Energy Summit.

The US has provided clean-energy finance for countries such as Jamaica through the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the USAID. The US-owned BMR Energy is also currently building a 34-megawatt greenfield wind farm in St Elizabeth valued at US$90 million.

“What we have said at these seminars is that Jamaica is open for investments in the energy sector,” said Holness.

The prime minister said discussions with Biden went very well as they reviewed progress made in the local energy sector last year and discussed plans for this year. He noted that there are some imperatives that the Jamaican population would have to become aware of such as the strong global movement towards clean energy.

“What is clear is that there is great appreciation for what we have done as it relates to our regulations, making it attractive for investments in the energy sector to come to Jamaica,” he said.

nadine.wilson-harris@gleanerjm.com

 

 

The Gleaner

The wind farm at Wigton, in St Elizabeth

 

Caribbean countries have quietly started a green revolution and are now leading the way for other small island developing states in the global effort to limit the rise of global temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius. While challenges remain, five months after the historic climate agreement in Paris, they remain committed to saving energy and investing in renewables.

Some may argue that at a time when oil prices are low, there are incentives to slow this effort down. But, on the contrary, this is the time to take advantage of the savings and move further on their ambitious vision for the future. And that is precisely what they hope to do at this week’s US-Caribbean-Central American Energy Summit, hosted by US Vice-President Joe Biden.

The Caribbean finds itself at a turning point. The road ahead won’t be short: despite a substantial push for clean energy, renewables still contribute less than 10 per cent of electricity production in the Caribbean.

Ever since last year’s first summit, commitments have translated into concrete actions from leaders. They have played a major role in promoting clean energy development, energy efficiency and climate resilience throughout the region. With the support of regional and international institutions, such as Caricon and the World Bank, Caribbean countries have started a transition to clean-energy alternatives.

Solar power continues to expand as technology improves and production costs plummet. Wind energy is also growing as production has become more commercially viable and technology can now better manage the unpredictability of wind and solar resources.

Eastern Caribbean countries are breaking down barriers to all renewables and are even actively exploring geothermal energy as a way to power their country in a reliable, clean and cost-effective manner. Exploratory drilling and preparatory work is happening in Dominica, Grenada, Monserrat, St Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

It is important that these transitions to renewable energy go hand in hand with efforts to improve efficiency and reduce cost. Caribbean governments know the importance of reducing inefficiencies by modernising electricity distribution companies and grid systems, and through simple measures such as making buildings more energy efficient and using high-efficiency air conditioners and LED light bulbs.

This is particularly crucial in the Caribbean, where many countries spend more than five per cent of their income in oil imports but still cannot fully satisfy demand. The uncertainty around the future for oil prices and of concessional oil financing make it even more important for small Caribbean economies to diversify their sources of energy.

Gains in energy efficiency help the private sector develop and become more competitive. Even with current low oil prices, electricity prices around the region average over US$ 0.25 per kWh – about three to four times more than what is paid in the US or other developed countries.

For small, tourism-dependent islands like Barbados, where air conditioning alone accounts for 48 per cent of hotel electricity consumption, continued gains in energy efficiency will help businesses cut costs and make the hotel industry more competitive.

At a time of global economic slowdown, this is a powerful example of how green energy can strengthen budgets, stimulate economies and unleash sustainable growth.

The private sector can also play an important role in developing the energy sector, through public-private partnerships (PPP). In Dominica and St Lucia, the World Bank is working with the government in helping de-risk power generation investments, develop bankable PPP deals and attract qualified private sector developers. In Jamaica, a 36-megawatt wind farm has received US$63 million in funding from the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation and other donors.

Increasingly, small island states are being confronted with extreme weather events and with the rise in sea level, it makes it more and more important to invest in energy resilience to ensure that infrastructure and systems are robust and well protected when natural disasters occur.

Caricom, together with the World Bank Group, the United States and others, have been working on establishing a regional one-stop shop to provide greater access to information on technical resources, streamline financing, and improve coordination and transparency.

At this year’s summit, leaders have an important opportunity to build on the momentum. Progress on this front holds great promise for the region. By transforming into a model of renewable energy, the Caribbean can show the world how to generate green growth that is sustainable and supportive of the poor and vulnerable.

Jorge Familiar is World Bank Vice-President for Latin America and the Caribbean

 

The Jamaica Observer

 

If the Peru and Mexico auctions are any indication, Latin American markets are establishing a new, and very low, normal for solar prices. Peru recently awarded a solar power purchase agreement (PPA) at $47.98/MWh to Enel Green Power (EGP), making headlines as the lowest PPA on record. But just weeks later, EGP beat its own a record in Mexico’s auction with a PPA price of $35.44/MWh for solar PV, and an average price for all awardees of $50.77/MWh for wind and solar.

What’s pushing these prices down, and how long will it last? Developers are likely making a few key assumptions:

1) Commodity prices are falling — 80 per cent since 2008, according to data from IRENA — and are expected to continue dropping, so modules will be cheaper;

2) Energy Performance Certificate costs are likely to fall as renewable energy penetration increases throughout the region; and

3) The quality of resources is very good in these markets, increasing the effectiveness of solar technologies so developers can get more bang for their buck.

While solar costs are indeed falling, it’s the jaw-droppingly low price bids by EGP that are making headlines. They are building massive installations, much larger than in the past, and economies of scale are helping to push down the prices. Access to funds at highly competitive rates from organisations such as the European Investment Bank has also enabled EGP to bid aggressively.

“Our prices were the most competitive but in line with those submitted by other international operators taking part in the auction,” said Carlo Zorzoli, EGP’s head of Latin America.

EGP has won 1,172 megawatts of solar PV in Latin America in 2016 alone. That, in itself, is noteworthy; perhaps more noteworthy is that they believe they can build profitable projects across a portfolio of tightly priced PPAs.

It’s hard, and perhaps not even desirable, for other developers to compete with EGP’s low bids, but there are other players in these markets bidding at or very near to Enel’s winning prices. Companies eager to make a footprint in the market are coming in at or below cost, according to industry analysts, potentially with internal rates of return in the single digits – a reality they are willing to face to gain a strong foothold in these young markets with enormous potential.

A favourable regulatory environment will continue to be vital in attracting serious developers and maintaining low prices. Peru’s regulator, Osinergmin, required very high bid bonds for their RFP — $50,000/MW — and tied the PPA price to the US dollar, which could prevent results similar to the frenzied bids and current situation in Brazil.

Mexico also allowed developers to bid in pesos indexed to the US dollar, which offered more economic certainty.

Peru’s next request for proposal is couple of years off, but Mexico has one coming up in August, and many expect to see even lower prices.

However, when it comes to other Latin American markets, while prices may be relatively low, they aren’t expected to break records, particularly in Argentina where many unknown factors loom. Broadly, however, the theme is clear: Latin America is opening up, competition is fierce and — at least as far as pricing is concerned — it’s a race to the bottom.

Jamaica Observer 

Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 00.32.57

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Customers of Jamaica Public Service (JPS) will again be able to apply for licences to sell their excess electricity generated from renewable energy sources to the grid as of April 11, 2016.

Minister of Science Energy & Technology (MSET) Dr Andrew Wheatley today announced that the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) will resume accepting applications on behalf of the ministry for net billing under similar terms as the previously-concluded net billing pilot project until the details of a permanent programme are finalised.

According to a release from the ministry, the decision to continue the programme came out of an agreement reached on April 7 with the OUR and JPS.

All parties agreed that it was in the best interest of all concerned that the net billing programme be resumed so as to strengthen the development of the renewable energy sector in accordance with the National Energy Policy, the release said.

The two-year pilot programme was extended to May 2015, as the system peak demand threshold for net billing was not met.  As at March 2015, 351 applications were received, 311 of which were granted licences, the ministry said.