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Member since: Fri Dec 19, 2003, 02:20 AM
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China Quadruples 2015 Solar Power Target!

China Quadruples 2015 Solar Power Target!

The global solar marketplace has a huge glut of solar panels and solar cells. This is the top reason why solar panel prices have plunged in the past year or so. And China’s tremendous manufacturing output is certainly a big part of that oversupply.

Now, it seems the country is looking to help relieve that glut a lot more by quadrupling its 2015 solar power targets! The new 2015 target is reportedly 21 GW of installed solar power capacity. This is quadruple its initial 2015 target. (Though, notably, a little more than one year ago, the country doubled its target to 10 GW, and it increased it again to 15 GW in December.)

To put that into perspective, the top 5 countries for total installed solar PV power capacity (and their capacity) at the end of 2011 were:
Germany — 24.7 GW
Italy — 12.8 GW
Japan — 4.9 GW
Spain — 4.4 GW
USA — 4.4 GW

China had about 3.1 GW.

Italy installed the most...

Source: Clean Technica (http://s.tt/1gFRv)

Did you know that Germany is getting rid of coal subsidies? - "Saarland coal exit"

Like here, the German coal mining industry is a strong political force. Or at least, it used to be. This closure is ahead of schedule.

Saarland coal exit
by DoDo
Sat Jun 30th, 2012 at 03:43:36 AM EST

Today the last coal mine closes in the German state of Saarland. This is the end of an era, because Saarland was one of the two main high-grade coal regions in post-WWII Germany, alongside the Ruhr Area.
The background of the mine closure is the phasing-out of subsidies for the mining of high-grade coal by 2018 (though the closure in Saarland was accelerated after a 4.7 earthquake in 2008). These coal subventions were fought over hard ever since the first Social Democrat (SPD)–Greens coalition governments in North Rhine-Westphalia state (NRW, 1995) and at federal level (1998). While the Greens could only get the SPD to agree to reductions, in 2007 EU pressure forced the then Grand Coalition (CDU+SPD) federal government to decide for a phaseout by 2018, and again at the behest of the EU, a 2010 revision accelerated the annual reduction of subsidies.

The end of subsidies effectively means the end of coal mining: now only four mines in NRW remain active, of which the first closes at the end of the year, another in three years, and the last two when the subsidies run out. But the defenders of the subventions proved right in one point: coal users just switched to imports (now 80%), which brings additional problems like fine dust pollution in ports. As...


This link gives actual production of various fuels through 2011:

Braunkohle = Brown coal (low quality)
Kernenergie = nuclear

See also:
Coal mining in Germany
Small earthquake in Saarland...
...not many dead. But the industry itself could be a casualty

Feb 28th 2008

...The Saar and Ruhr are Germany's two historic mining areas—mining in Saarland dates back to 1429. But their production has long been uncompetitive and devours subsidies of around €2.5 billion ($3.7 billion) a year. In 2007 the industry and government struck a deal: mining would be phased out by 2014, or 2018 at the latest, unless a review in 2012 showed that the economics had suddenly changed for the better. So the miners of the Saar already looked doomed. They have dwindled from 60,000 in their heyday, producing 17m tonnes a year, to a mere 3,600 producing 3.6m tonnes from one mine at Ensdorf. But sudden closure would still be a shock.


Only 16.7% of Global Energy Consumption Is Renewable – Ways for Industry to Increase This Share

Only 16.7% of Global Energy Consumption Is Renewable – Ways for Industry to Increase This Share
Written by Moritz Bühner // June 26, 2012

You know studies. You know reports. You know data collections. But you don’t know Ren21? You should. Ren21, calling itself an international policy network promoting renewable energy, publishes an annual global renewable energy status report supported by 39 renewable energy professionals plus numerous regional researchers who verify the precision of the global coverage. In the report you find detailed diagrams for any renewable power source and more diagrams showing their development from 2010 to 2011. Because both government officials and NGO representatives, both intergovernmental organization members and industry agents all take part in the report’s generation, the conclusions and opinions spotlighted by the report can claim to be important, if not essential.

So, for the actual report, which was published last week, what were the findings? I remember that the most striking news of last year’s report was the economic crisis did not affect the renewables market:
Renewable energy [...] continued to grow strongly in all end-use sectors – power, heat and transport – and supplied an estimated 16% of global final energy consumption.

This figure refers to 2009. For 2010, the year the new report addresses, the figure had further risen to 16.7%. However, in addition to modern renewables, that includes traditional biomass – still the number one energy source in rural developing areas. ...Subtracting the use of traditional biomass, the figure for renewables in the modern sense, that is, wind, hydro, solar, geothermal, woodpellet, biofuel and biogas declines to 8.2% of the entire global energy consumption. Really, just 8.2% renewables? Sounds too little? Well, it refers to the final energy consumption, as in power, heating, cooling and transport. Concerning electricity only, the share of renewables is almost three-times higher, and a large portion of newly built power plants use renewable forms of energy. Ren21:
In the power sector, renewables accounted for almost half of the estimated 208 gigawatts (GW) of electric capacity added globally during 2011. Wind and solar photovoltaics (PV) accounted for almost 40% and 30% of new renewable capacity, respectively, followed by hydropower (nearly 25%). By the end of 2011, total renewable power capacity worldwide exceeded 1,360 GW, up 8% over 2010; renewables comprised more than 25% of total global power-generating capacity (estimated at 5,360 GW in 2011) and supplied an estimated 20.3% of global electricity.

It is crucial...


America has a new word to learn: Dilbit.

Must Read: Investigation Reveals True Hazards Of Piping Tar Sands Across America
By Stephen Lacey on Jul 1, 2012 at 12:19 pm

America has a new word to learn: Dilbit.
Dilbit, short for diluted bitumen, is a combination of tar sands crude (bitumen) and dangerous liquid chemicals like benzene (the dilutant) used to thin crude so it can be piped to refineries.

And there is a lot of it being piped into America — in some cases through the backyards of communities that don’t even know it’s there.

The U.S. imports around half a million barrels of bitumen a day from Canada’s tar sands. According to the Sierra Club, if Keystone XL backers get their way, that number may grow to 1.5 million barrels per day.

A must-read investigation released this week by Inside Climate News illustrates ...


The Climate Progress write-up is a good summary, but if you want to go straight to the original 8 page investigative article, it is here:

(Louisiana) PSC rules against nuclear plant charges for Entergy customers

PSC votes against nuclear plant charges for Entergy customers
BY MARK BALLARD Capitol news bureau June 29, 2012

State regulators refused Wednesday to allow Entergy Corp. to immediately charge its customers for about $63 million spent preparing to build another nuclear power plant at River Bend, near St. Francisville.

Entergy, which had gone as far as to negotiate with a building contractor, suspended in January 2010 efforts to build a generator fueled by nuclear rods to make electricity. A dramatic drop in the cost of natural gas made the cost of building a multi-billion dollar plant economically unviable at this time, according to Entergy’s filings with regulators.

The New Orleans-based company then sought to recover from customers, rather than shareholders, the money spent on the reports, studies, examinations and other activities necessary for obtaining licenses and financing. The state’s Incentive Cost Recovery Rule for Nuclear Power Generation allows Entergy to pass those costs to its customers.

The five elected members of the Louisiana Public Service Commission voted 3-2 not to hear any public testimony but to approve an administrative law judge’s decision over that of their own staff.

In wording unusually harsh for regulatory decisions ...


Solar Thermal Scales New Heights in China

China installed 34 GW(thermal) of solar hot water in 2010, bringing the total to 118GWth.

Solar Thermal Scales New Heights in China
By Barbel Epp, Solrico June 27, 2012

Millions of roofs in Chinese cities now host solar thermal systems, often at great heights and increasingly integrated into buildings' designs.


Rio+20: ‘We Cannot Conflate The Negotiations With What Is Actually Happening On The Ground’

Perspectives From Rio+20: ‘We Cannot Conflate The Negotiations With What Is Actually Happening On The Ground’
By Stephen Lacey on Jun 25, 2012 at 10:33 am

As the crowds at the Rio+20 Earth Summit dwindled and attendees left the conference hall late in the day Friday, a small group of people sat around a lunch table in the cafeteria engaged in spirited conversation.

They weren’t talking about the failed negotiations. They weren’t complaining about diplomats, the UN process, or the lack of a strong agreement at the summit. Rather, they were debating the barriers faced by entrepreneurs delivering solar to under-served populations in India.

The group consisted of Carl Pope, former executive director of the Sierra Club; Jigar Shah, former CEO of the Carbon War Room; Simon Bransfield-Garth, CEO of Eight19, a company developing an off-grid solar lighting and battery system; and Mayank Sekhsaria, co-founder of Greenlight Planet, a firm helping entrepreneurs deploy off-grid solar technologies in India.

“What people don’t understand is that this isn’t about demand for solar, it’s about supply. If you could theoretically service these markets all at once, you’d solve the problem immediately,” said Sekhsaria, describing the different deployment bottlenecks within the off-grid Indian market.

Over the next hour... these experts debated the real, on-the-ground problems ...


Greenland Ice Sheet Melt Nearing Critical ‘Tipping Point’

Greenland Ice Sheet Melt Nearing Critical ‘Tipping Point’
by Andrew Freedman, via Climate Central

The Greenland ice sheet is poised for another record melt this year, and is approaching a “tipping point” into a new and more dangerous melt regime in which the summer melt area covers the entire land mass, according to new findings from polar researchers.

The ice sheet is the focus of scientific research because its fate has huge implications for global sea levels, which are already rising as ice sheets melt and the ocean warms, exposing coastal locations to greater damage from storm surge-related flooding.

Greenland’s ice has been melting faster than many scientists expected just a decade ago, spurred by warming sea and land temperatures, changing weather patterns, and other factors. Until now, though, most of the focus has been on ice sheet dynamics — how quickly Greenland’s glaciers are flowing into the sea. But the new research raises a different basis for concern.

The new findings show that the reflectivity of the Greenland ice sheet, particularly the high-elevation areas where snow typically accumulates year-round, have reached a record low since records began in 2000. This indicates that the ice sheet is absorbing more energy than normal, potentially leading to another record melt year — just two years after the 2010 record melt season.

“In this condition, the ice sheet will continue to absorb more solar energy in a self-reinforcing feedback loop that ...


Big News for Renewable Energy: FERC Rules for Wind, Solar, Storage

Big News for Renewable Energy: FERC Rules for Wind, Solar, Storage

Like a Jedi responding to changing events by striving to bring balance to the Force, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission under Chairman Jon Wellinghoff has been rapidly reshaping the formerly sclerotic electricity sector to make it responsive to new technologies.

Some of the sector’s fossil fuel-centric rules left a high barrier to entry for so-called variable resources: energy like wind and solar that are only created when the wind blows or the sun shines, unlike, say, a gas or nuclear power plant that generates electricity around the clock.

A year ago, Wellinghoff told me: “[North American Electric Reliability Corporation] projects in its 2010 Long-Term Reliability Assessment that approximately 60 percent of all new resources expected to be added to the bulk power system by 2019 will be new wind and solar resources."

The FERC aims to remove regulatory barriers to ensure that all of these resources can get access the grid and play a competitive role in the energy markets.

To that end, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission passed ...

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