World Bank Assisting Pacific Countries to Go Solar

The bank is bringing new mapping tools to identify the best sites to produce solar energy

At the regional energy summit held in Samoa, the World Bank has announced that it is finalizing the potential for its online solar atlas. This mapping tool can help governments and utilities in the Pacific to identify and locate geographical sites where the solar power potential is more abundant.

Riccardo Puliti, the head of the bank’s energy and extractives arm, has been witnessing an increased interest in solar power of his clients. He contributes this development to the remarkable drop in solar prices during last few years.

He is hoping their solar atlas can help in driving and devising crucial planning and investment decisions related to the shift from conventional to alternative forms of energy.

 

Climate changes are greatly affecting the Pacific region

Many of the low-lying Pacific islands have been threatened by the early calamities of climate change. The Marshall Islands is an island country comprising 1,156 islands and islets in the northern Pacific Ocean, with a population of around 68,000, spread over low-lying coral atolls. This small Oceana country is already experiencing unfavorable effects of change in climate. Since the average height of the islands is only six feet above the sea, rising sea levels have caused flooding in the area. The government authorities have warned that if recent trends of climate change continue, they will force 2 million people from the Pacific region to become refugees.

According to a report from the Asian Development Bank, if necessary measures are not taken, the situation might spiral out of control, and lead to a loss of about $52 billion per annum for regional economies of the Pacific.

 

Asia Pacific will fill up the space left vacant by the US

Due to the US’ decision to distance itself from the Paris Climate Agreement, the way for other economic powers to get behind the momentum building around renewable energy sources has been paved. The analysis from consultant group suggests that countries from Asia Pacific will take the lead to steer environmental decisions and plans in the backdrop of recent shifts of global policies.

 

A successful example of going completely off-grid with the help of solar power

The island of Ta‘ū in Samoa, an independent state in the Pacific, has gone 100% solar with the help of 1.4 megawatt micro grid. The micro grid in Ta‘ū is spread over 2.8 hectors on the northern coast of islands with more than 5000 solar panels.

The storage battery incorporated with the grid can power the island without any sunlight for up to three days. The system is also designed to handle extreme humidity levels of the island. The grid can also survive tropical storms, it can endure category 5 hurricane winds.

The island is on the frontline of climate change but has now come out of the fossil fuel dependency. This progress has undeniable environmental benefits for the region. 400 kiloliters of diesel is not going to burn to pollute the environment every year to produce electricity. Also the island is no longer in need of shipping diesel – fuel that poses high environmental risks.

US to Submit Withdrawal Notice from Paris Climate Accord in the UN

However, the US will remain engaged in hoping to get more favorable terms from the climate deal

There are various reports that the Trump administration will formally submit a notice to the UN that the US is going to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord. The letter to the UN will be the first development after Trump’s announcement in June that he wants to withdraw and renegotiate the participation terms of the US in the deal.

Sources from the State Department told E&E News that internal briefings had begun to inform employees in the department that the US was going to tell the UN that it will remain engaged in the provisions of the Paris accord till their official departure from the Arocess in 2020. They will also tell the UN that they are open to review the decision if conditions (still unspecified) are met by the UN. However, intentions of leaving the deal have been made very clear in the body of letter.

The Paris Climate Accord doesn’t permit signatories to submit any formal request to leave until three years after the deal was struck. Even after the completion of this time period, it requires a one-year-notice for complete withdrawal from the pact.

The total time for full withdrawal makes an interesting scenario in the US: the country can’t fully withdraw from the accord until one day after the next US elections will be held on 4 November, 2020. It means any formal or informal communication with the UN right now regarding the Paris Climate Accord will not hold any legal weight.

 

US wants ‘favorable’ renegotiations

As reported by The New York Times, a letter from the White House to the UN states, “As the President indicated in his June 1 announcement and subsequently, he is open to re-engaging in the Paris Agreement if the US can identify terms that are more favorable to the United States, its businesses, its workers, its people, and its taxpayers.”

The letter also confirms that the State Department will continue to be part of climate talks going to take place in Bonn in the coming November. This continuation highlights the fact that the US wants to ensure the availability of all future options regarding the climate policy in order to protect its interests.

The CEO of World Resource Institute, Andrew Steer, is of the thought that the US intentions to remain involved in the process might be taken with positivity and openness from the UN.

Steer thinks that the US should have a constructive attitude in these engagements. Issues such as transparency should be put forward by the US to show its seriousness. Otherwise, pretending to be an outsider that is going to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord will not help the US when it comes to voicing opinions.

Both the State Department and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) are not available for comments on this ongoing development.

France Aims at Putting an End to Petrol and Diesel Vehicles by 2050

Pursuing the Paris Climate Change Agreement, France aims at putting an end to petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040 and becoming carbon neutral 10 years later.

Same was also stated by Nicolas Hulot – Ecology Minister, at a presentation with regards to measures required for keeping up momentum on the Paris climate changeagreement. In extension to that, the president – Emmanuel Macron also want to emphasize on the implementation of the pact to combat climate change, even more now, since Donald Trump – the US president, has pulled out of the remarkable deal, agreed upon in Paris in the year 2015.

As stated by Nicolas Hulot;

“One of the symbolic acts of the plan is that France, which previously had made the promise to divide its greenhouse gas emissions by four by 2050, has decided to become carbon neutral by 2050 following the US decision. The carbon neutral objective will force us to make the necessary investments.”

Determined to speed up the measures, Hulot presented almost 23 policy proposals and an array of preventive measures and that too, under six different themes but almost all of them fell short of particular details with regards to the achievement of the objectives.

 

Putting an End to Fossil Fuels

In the first half of the year, gasoline and diesel vehicles represented almost 95.2% of French car fleets (new) whereas the market percentage held by electric vehicles was almost 1.2 percent and hybrid cars was 3.5 percent.

Mr.Hulot takes the removal of fossil fuels as one of the main objectives of France in order to eradicate carbon emissions, in terms of becoming more carbon neutral by the year 2050. Among the major policy proposals, the key plan is to stop hydrocarbon license delivery in France and the legislation of this is due around the end of this year.

“The 2025 date is the objective, I hope we will keep to it,” – Mr. Hulot.

By 2022, France plans to end its production of coal-generated electricity while the government maintains its goal of cutting nuclear power generation share towards French electricity. Moreover, France also aims at taking serious measures to restrict using palm oil for bio-fuels production, aiming at reducing deforestation indirectly.

Greenpeace – an environmental campaign, on the other hand, also claims that although the analysis of the French government is carried out correctly but the presented proposal is still short of solid measures that would be needed to deal with the challenges faced from climate change.

“We are left wanting, on how these objectives will be achieved,” Cyrille Cormier – Greenpeace campaigner said in his statement.

He further added;
“The goal to end the sale of gasoline and diesel vehicles by 2040 sends out a strong signal, but we would really like to know what are the first steps achieve this, and how to make this ambition something other than a disappointment”

While Mr. Hulot seems quite confident about the proposal, they also cited the finest examples such as of Geely’s Volvo, that plans to transform electrically with some major new models by 2019 and 2030 respectively.

California Doing its Part to Deal with Climate Change by Using Renewable Energy

The state is hoping to go 100% renewable before the mid-century

California, of the world’s sixth largest economy, is demonstrating how you can switch from gas and coal to renewable energy options such as solar, wind or battery storage to the whole world. A number of innovative companies in California – comprehending the need for urgency — are wasting no time in debates concerning whether or not renewable forms of energy can take over conventional sources of energy. They are actually showing governments and utility companies how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to achieve green energy targets.

Mr. Kennedy, the managing director of the California Clean Energy Fund — an NGO which helps environment friendly start-ups to take off — says that the political debate has progressed so much now that it is about whether to achieve 80% renewable or go full 100%.

As of now, California is powered with 26% renewable, and is planning to have 50% share of renewable by 2030. The state is also planning for legislation to increase the target to 100% by 2045.

While Trump’s administration is pulling the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement, California is persisting with its lone battle for clean environment. Trump’s decision has reignited the resolve of the state governor to continue with their ambitious plan to roll-out 1 million electric cars in California by 2020 to reduce greenhouse emissions of transport.

Right now, renewable energy sources are the second largest sources of electricity generation. The other sources include wind (9%), solar (8%), geothermal (2%), biomass (2%) and small-scale hydro (2%).

 

California Energy Commission (CEC): The driving force behind California’s exceptional progress for climate control

As stated by the commissioner of CEC, Karen Douglas, they are looking for the next big and ambitious target of going fully renewable before the middle of the century. According to her, the state’s ability to meet clean energy targets is owed to diverse renewable options and willingness of companies to help with technological innovations. It is noteworthy that California is not only relying on wind and solar energy to fulfill the clean energy needs, the state also has the largest geothermal facility in the US.

California is also working to rapidly increase the capacity of battery storage. Companies like Tesla, AES Energy and General Electric, have contributed to rolling out 100MW battery storage in the last six months. Rapid addition in battery storage of the state is also helping utilities to tackle the hours of peak demand.

 
 

The establishment of hybrid peaker plants has helped to reduce the emission of carbon

GE/Southern California Edison peaker plant in Norwalk, Los Angeles, is the world’s first natural gas/electricity hybrid plant. Hybrid peaker plants are traditional power plants with the addition of battery storage, which helps them to respond swiftly to the changing energy needs. Conventionally, peaker plants are always running on standby, wasting energy and adding more greenhouse gases to the environment. On the other hand, hybrid peaker plants don’t need to run on standby when they are not required by the grid.

Wind Turbine – The World’s Biggest Turbine Dwarfs London Eye

A 9.5-MW machine, one of the most powerful and giant turbines in the world, aims to dwarf the Empire State Building and the famous London Eye.

Being 614 feet tall – 187 meters, the tip of V164-9.5MW turbine will be looming over the 135-meter tourist attraction – the London Eye – at Thames River’s south bank. A single turbine machine is expected to generate power that would be sufficient to support 8300 UK homes as stated by Denmark-based turbine maker – Arthus.

 

Turbine makers spread their wings in Australia & Philippines

The biggest wind turbine maker – Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co. — is making its footprint by acquiring new deals in Australia and Philippines.

The Shanghai Electric Power Design Institute Co. and Goldwind, signed the agreement of turbine supply for the Pasuquin wind – 132-MW in the Philippines in the second quarter of this year. This was the first deal in the market by a Chinese turbine maker, as stated by Goldwind International Holdings (HK) Ltd.

The Stockyard Hill Wind Farm in the Victoria State of Australia has also been bought by Goldwind in May from Origin Energy Ltd. The project is expected and planned to have the capacity of almost 530 MW. Goldwind International also confirms signed contracts outside China, for approximately 2 GW. Goldwind, taking the lead in making wind turbines, also had an in-principal agreement to build a 144 MW wind farm, with Aurora Energy Pty at the Central Highlands in Tasmania – Cattle Hill, according to a report. With that, Goldwind also presented clients in Africa with its new 3-MW platform-stated unit.

 

Massive turbines are more power efficient

The actual power output of a wind turbine solely depends on its height and size. Size varies, but these days, the typical wind tower is around 70 meters tall, attached to 50 meter long blades. On the upper end, the power output of these turbines ranges between 1 – 5 megawatt, enough to support almost 1,100 homes.

As per the assistant professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering at S.U.N.Y Buffalo University, John Hall;

“There’s this motivation to go to larger wind turbines, and the reason is pretty much economics,”

One reason for a giant turbine to be more cost-effective is because the wind blows steadily and stronger at higher altitudes. Thus a taller structure or wind turbine will be able to capture more energy in less time and with more power. Another reason for making bigger turbines is that taller towers allow lengthier blades and the power of turbine is largely related to the circular area that is covered by the blades.

Thus, if the length of the blade is doubled, the turbine system accelerates and produces 4 times more energy. Moreover, bigger turbines come with lower “cut-in” speed which is the speed at which energy is generated by the turbine.

Google Takes the Lead in Availing Renewable Energy in More Ways

Google takes the lead and looks at the bigger picture when it comes to storing renewable energy. It has two major plans to avail renewable energy that is expected to be utilized for major projects later on.

Eneco, based in Rotterdam, said that Google aims at purchasing all the electricity from SunportDelfzijl which has been the largest Netherland Solar Park for the past 10 years. As per Eneco, this agreement is the fourth investment by Google in terms of Netherland’s renewable energy and Eneco’s second agreement.

“After the agreement with Eneco for the delivery of wind energy from WindPark Delfzijl and the agreements with the wind parks Krammer and Bouwdokken, we are pleased that we can now also make use of solar energy. “ Worldwide, we have already contracted the delivery of 2.7 GW of green electricity, which makes Google the world’s largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy. Contracts like this give companies like Eneco the economic certainty to invest in new renewable energy capacity.”
Says Google EU Energy Lead – Marc Oman.

Google aims at offsetting Google’s data centre consumption with the solar park power that contains almost 123,000 solar panels and will be delivering around 27GWh electricity. For the record, Sunport Delfzijl has been operating since this year’s beginning and was built and developed by Wirsol – a German Energy Company.

 

Google revolutionizing renewable energy storage

Involving antifreeze and vats of salt, Google plans to store the renewable energy that would otherwise get wasted. The plan is not only cost efficient but also has the potential to last longer than other ion batteries or existing methods of clean energy storage.

Alphabet – Google’s parent – is now working on this renewable energy project with the code name “Malta”. As per the report of a news agency; the renewable energy market could observe almost $40 billion by 2024 in terms of investment.

The plan is being developed by Research X of parent Alphabet. The lab already owns the efforts behind Project Loon (bringing internet connectivity in remote areas using weather balloon) and self-driven cars.

As per Bloomberg’s report;
The system that aims at storing renewable energy, or scaling the demands of energy, absorbs energy as electricity and eventually turns them into the stream of cold and hot air.

The cold air is responsible for cooling down the antifreeze and the hot air helps in heating up the salt. Since salt can maintain its temperature well enough, the system is best to store energy for longer periods – for hours or maybe days.

For energy recovery, the process is reversed, which powers the wind turbine. The installation of the system is still unclear. However, if it is successful, the system can be located anywhere to save millions of energy megawatts that are being lost or wasted each year and all over the world.

All in all, Google is thinking forward when it comes to availing more renewable energy and leading the way in setting an example for the upcoming commercial sector where there is a growing need for sustainable energy.

Antarctica Faces a Trillion-ton Break off Iceberg

The giant ice chunk that broke off recently in Antarctica is one of the huge icebergs which were already being monitored by scientists for months.

This has created hazards for the many ships across the continent. The iceberg that was measured around a massive one-trillion tons, and was 5800 sq.km, broke off from the Larsen C ice shelf during 10th to 12th July.

 

Iceberg Observation underway via satellite by the European Space Agency

The iceberg had been reported close to down-calving for a past few months and this is why scientists kept a check on its progress via satellite throughout the winter season.

As per the professor of Swansea University – Adrian Luckman “The iceberg is one of the largest recorded and its future progress is difficult to predict,” Adrian was also a lead investigator of the MIDAS project and has kept an eye on the ice shelf for many years.

He further stated “It may remain in one piece but is more likely to break into fragments. Some of the ice may remain in the area for decades, while parts of the iceberg may drift north into warmer waters,”

 

The results of the Iceberg Break off

The ice is likely to increase the hazards and risks for various ships since it has down calved now. Unlike sea ice which is in thin layers, masses of ice are floating on the ice shelves. This ice is highly thick and is also attached to massive grounded sheets of ice. These ice shelves also act similar to buttresses, slowing down and holding back the movement towards the sea that actually feeds them.

“There is enough ice in Antarctica that if it all melted, or even just flowed into the ocean, sea levels [would] rise by 60 meters,” says geosciences professor at Imperial College London – Martin Siegert.

However, the iceberg break off is not likely to impact the sea level, no matter how dramatic it may look apparently.

 

“It’s like your ice cube in your gin and tonic – it is already floating and if it melts it doesn’t change the volume of water in the glass by very much at all,” stated Anna Hogg – Glacier satellite observation expert from the University of Leeds.

Since Antarctica has already struggled through the consequences of Larsen A collapse in 1995 and in 2002, the Larsen B collapse, all eyes and speculations are now turned towards Larsen C.

Professor of Earth Observation – Andrew Shepherd, at the University of Leeds, accepted it, saying, “Everyone loves a good iceberg, and this one is a corker, but despite keeping us waiting for so long, I’m pretty sure that Antarctica won’t be shedding a tear when it’s gone because the continent loses plenty of its ice this way each year, and so it’s really just business as usual!”

“We will have to wait years or decades to know what will happen to the remainder of Larsen C,” says Andrew.

With all the speculations, it is also believed that while there may be a continuous shedding of the iceberg at the ice shelf of Larsen C, it might grow again.

If not controlled, Global Warming will impact two-thirds of European Population by 2100

According to a recent study, 2 out of 3 people living in Europe will be affected by weather disasters

A research study published in The Lancet Planetary Health has warned that if global warming persists at the current rate, then deaths in Europe due to weather extremities can increase exponentially by the end of this century. The recently estimated death rate of 3000 can climb up fifty-fold by 2100.

According to the research, southern Europe is going to bear the brunt of the situation where deaths from climate adversities are projected to increase from 11 per million people per year to around 700 per million people per year.

Almost 99% of the weather-related deaths in the future will be caused by heat waves. Researchers have used a 30-year stretch ‘reference period’ from 1981 to 2010 for weather and climate-related events in 31 European countries. They used all this data for comparison with future projections of population increase, migration, as well as with forecasts of heat waves, cold spells, wildfires, floods, droughts and windstorms.

The projected figure converts to about 351 million people affected every year by weather-related disasters as compared to 25 million people per year in the reference period. According to the authors of the research, being affected by the weather implies things such as diseases, injuries, and deaths, losing home to an extreme weather event or ‘post-event’ stress.

According to the research, deaths from heatwaves are estimated to increase by 5400%, deaths due to coastal flood by 3780%, wildfires by 138%, wind storms by 20%, and river floods by 54%. However, deaths from cold spells will be cut by 98%, but they will not be able to compensate for the increased death rates caused by other weather-related disasters. These projections are calculated by considering that the earth will be 3 degree Celsius hotter by 2100 due to greenhouse gas emissions.

 

The projections might be overstated

There is no doubt that weather extremities will bring adverse effects all around the world, however, the projected data of this research might be an overstatement. Jae Young Lee and Ho Kim of the Seoul National University are of the opinion that these projections are overstating the scenario. Human adaptability has become more robust in recent times. With better air conditioning, thermal insulation technologies and medical innovations, people have become less vulnerable to extreme weather conditions.

The research also doesn’t account for the implications of Paris Climate Accord in it. Paris Agreement, with 195 signatory countries, is seeking to limit global warming under 2 degree Celsius.

 

Miscellaneous studies pointing towards the same threat

A study in the Science Advances journal indicates that South Asia, that has one-fifth of the global population, can experience unbearable rise in humid heat by the end of this century.

Another research study tells us that the rising carbon dioxide levels will reduce the content of proteins in largely consumed crops like rice and wheat in a few decades.

Regardless of the percentage of their accuracy, all scientific research works are pointing towards the bleak world future if global warming, due to greenhouse emissions, continues to increase.

185 Potential Pumped Hydro Storage sites Identified in South Australia

South Australia never let go of the ways to secure its future energy need more efficiently. And in continuation of that, almost 185 potential sites have been found that are suitable for pumped hydro storage across South Australia.

These sites are all gathered at Pumped Hydro Atlas in South Australia. Whereas the state of SA constitutes the largest proportion in terms of variable renewable electricity (solar PV and wind), this is eventually expected to lift in between the range of 50 to 100 percent in the next few years.

 

An opportunity to secure Australia’s energy

The ANU team states that Australia’s electricity grid is likely to be secured with the development of pumped storage. The storage of hydropower works by uphill pumping of water and then the water is held and used later on to generate electricity as per the requirements.

The identification of potential sites is, however, considered as the first step in the whole electricity generation project – says Andrew Blakers – Professor and Lead Researcher.

“There are many sites in South Australia that may be suitable for establishing pumped hydro storage, to help build a sustainable, secure and affordable electricity grid. This assessment is based on very appealing physical characteristics. But the 185 potential upper reservoir sites identified would require detailed due diligence, involving land ownership, and engineering, hydrological, environmental and other considerations” said Blakers.

Professor Blakers shows confidence in the successful execution of the energy generation technique and hopes that it gets implemented real soon.

“It could happen quite fast — there are many winds and solar farm developers and other companies looking at ways to enter the market to offer stabilization technology for South Australia in particular because South Australia is leading the way with the wind and solar photovoltaic,” he said.

 

Pumped hydro is practical with renewable energy

As per Blakers, pumped hydro makes for energy storage up to 97% across the whole world and is excellent to facilitate places that have high-levels of renewable energy.

“All the potential sites in South Australia are outside national parks and urban areas” says the researcher.

In order to generate power, river pumping requires at least two reservoirs of storage that are too, linked with a pipe and use a pump and turbine to freely move water between the lower and upper reservoir.

As per another research team member – Matthew Stocks,

“About 400 hectares of reservoir is required to support a 100 per cent renewable energy grid for South Australia, which is four parts per million of the state’s land mass”

“[The] annual water requirement would be less than 1 per cent of SA’s annual extraction from the Murray”, he further continued.

The ANU research is also helped by the ARENA – Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

Ivor Frischknecht – Chief Executive ARENA says, “Pumped hydro is the most mature form of energy storage and studies like these are helping to determine whether it could play an even greater role in increasing grid stability”

In another news, Pacific Hydro saved 500 million US$ last month for renewable energy projects in terms of under development and operation. This also includes hydro in Chile and Australia.

Donald Trump Aims at Mounting Solar Panels Wall on Mexican Border

With the rise in shares of many renewable energy manufacturers all over the United States, Iowa and Trump, first time, publicly described the idea that a 32,000 kilometre (1990-mile) wall along the Mexican border could be used as a solar power plant.

President Trump informed supporters that mounting solar panels – PV on top of the proposed border wall of Mexico will allow the solar project to itself compensate for the wall’s cost.

“We’re thinking of something that’s unique, we’re talking about the southern border. Lots of sun, lots of heat, we’re thinking about building the wall as a solar wall, so it creates energy and pays for itself. And this way Mexico will have to pay much less money, and that’s good. Is that good?” – says Trump

The scepticism against the proposed plan

Analysts have shared some reservations in relation to Trump’s proposed plan. They believe that generating enough power to cover the wall cost would take more than hundred years of these solar panels.

However, as per the analyst of New York Cowen & Co. Company – Jeff Osborne, the only possible reason for Trump mentioning solar power in these positive terms is all about giving a boost to various panel makers in the country.

In a research note – Deutsche Bank AG analyst – Vishal Shah stated that when it comes to the Mexican border wall, the solar power companies that are in the best position to win bids are Fist Solar Inc. and Sun Power, and both of them are founded and based in the United States.

As per the statistics;

First Solar closed at $38.42 i.e. 3.2 percent, after the earlier rise of almost 6.7 percent.

Brad Meikel – analyst of Coler & Palmer Inc. said that the rally is all about module prices than actually Trump himself. For many years, there has been a fall in panel prices. A month ago, the prices were in between 35 to 39 cents which have now climbed up to 41 to 43 cents/watt.

The idea of building solar panels over the Mexican border wall is the deliverance of the promises made by Trump’s campaign earlier.

Gleason is in hopes of good execution of the plan

As opposed to the reservations of many analysts, Thomas Gleason – managing partner in Gleason Partners LLC, believe that the wall will be able to generate enough power to compensate its cost in almost 20 years.

But with that, he also cautioned that the Mexican border is not in a straight line. And the intensity of light changes on a monthly basis and this will change the calculations later on. However, the firm has not yet received the approval of the federal government in order to carry out a full evaluation.

Whereas the business leaders of the renewable energy sector seriously commended the initiative taken by Trump for going solar, they also said that they would rather favour a different purpose and location for the installation of a large solar panel wall.

Gleason said that the panels will be manufactured in the United States for installation purposes, but the concrete would entail extensive shipping, as they would have to get truckloads from Mexico, and that would increase the maintenance cost eventually.

Nonetheless, Gleason and Trump retain high hopes with the project and aim at making everybody happy with the results.