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In the headlines: Australia's largest solar PV plant and report finds UK's offshore wind sector can cut energy costs by 40%

Date
04 March 2013
In the headlines: Australia's largest solar PV plant and report finds UK's offshore wind sector can cut energy costs by 40%

Clean Revolution news stories you may have missed:

Global

Global investment in smart grid technologies rose by 7% in 2012 to $13.9 billion according to research from the US-based Worldwatch Institute. Europe saw a 27% boost in spending on 2011 figures to $1.4 billion; China’s market increased 14% to $3.2 billion while the US saw a 19% dip from $5.1 to $4.3 billion. RTCC, March 1.
Read The Climate Group's news story about investment in smart grids.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc says solar power, a business it abandoned four years ago, may expand into the world’s biggest source of energy in the next half century. The proposition that photovoltaic panels will be the main power source by 2070 is one of the New Lens Scenarios Europe’s largest oil company published in a report on energy demand this century. A second has natural gas as the main fuel by 2030. Bloomberg, February 28.

In the keynote speech at London's annual City Food Lecture on Tuesday, Nestle CEO Paul Bulcke warned the world about the possible consequences of the global water shortage many experts believe will strike within the next several decades. Noting that water scarcity could cut global cereal production by 30% by 2030, and that water needs already exceed supply, Bulcke called water scarcity the greatest threat to food security in the future. He urged global leaders to act soon to devise realistic solutions. The Huffington Post, February 26.

Australia

Global conglomerate General Electric is working on plans to bankroll new wind power and other energy projects in Australia after dramatically ramping up its exposure to the booming oil and gas industry over the past two years. GE global vice-chairman John Rice, who is in his 33rd year with the conglomerate and for the past two years has headed its global operations business from Hong Kong, says the group has an obligation to connect capital with infrastructure projects and is planning "two or three" in Australia "that are being worked very hard". The Australian, February 27.

The historic gold rush town of Kalgoorlie in Western Australia’s mineral-rich Goldfields region is set to become the site of the country’s biggest photovoltaic power plant. Investec, an international banking and asset management group, has proposed the construction of a 50-megawatt solar PV plant at a site close to Kalgoorlie, nearly 600 kilometres to the north of Perth at the terminus of the Great Eastern Highway. Design Build Source, February 18.

China

China continues to lead the world in Ernst & Young's renewable energy attractiveness indices, which scores 40 countries on the attractiveness of their national renewable energy markets, energy infrastructure and suitability for individual technologies. China's top spot can be attributed to its ambitious capacity targets for this year and an increase in outbound investment. Germany remains in second place as its government proactively expands the country's grid infrastructure, but the country's announcement in January to freeze the consumer levy for renewable energy will put the sector under pressure going forward. The U.S. came in third place, thanks to the federal government’s extension of - and change of language in - the wind energy production tax credit. Renew Grid, February 28.

China’s incoming leaders will have to “drastically change” policies on energy, automobiles, environment and public transport to reduce air pollution to a safe level, according to Deutsche Bank AG. Delegates to the National People’s Congress, which opens its annual session on March 5, and its main political advisory body are expected to urge the nation’s new leaders to adopt anti-pollution policies, Jun Ma, chief economist at Deutsche Bank, said in a report. The government should consider policies that will reduce coal usage and automobile demand, and “massively” increase investment in clean energy, subways and railways, Ma said. Bloomberg, March 1.

India

Finance minister P. Chidambaram on Thursday proposed to reintroduce generation-based incentives for wind energy projects, expected to benefit companies such as Suzlon Energy Ltd, and provide Rs.800 crore to the ministry of new and renewable energy for the purpose. To promote other environment-friendly energy projects, the government will also provide low-interest-bearing funds to the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency for lending to renewable energy projects, he said presenting the Union Budget for 2013-14. The National Clean Energy Fund, which functions under the renewable energy ministry, will provide the money and the scheme will have a life span of five years, he said. Live Mint, February 28.
Read The Climate Group's news story about India's Union Budget,

Indian railways will build wind power generation capacity of 75 megawatts (MW) and use solar power at 1,000 level crossings across the country to cut dependence on diesel and grid electricity. The railways uses about 12 billion units of electricity a year, with consumption growing at an average 5% every year. On Tuesday, Bansal also announced the setting up of Railway Energy Management Company for solar and wind energy capacities to reduce the dependence of the national transporter on power supplied by state electricity boards, which is costly and often erratic. According to an MNRE official who did not want to be identified, a vision document prepared by the railways, says the carrier plans to meet 10% of its energy requirement through renewable energy by end of March 2017. Live Mint, February 26.

North America

President Obama will announce in the upcoming weeks and months decisive actions the administration is planning to combat climate change, a senior White House adviser said Feb. 27. Climate change is “one of the clearest and most urgent challenges of our time,” and Obama will soon discuss steps the administration will take to address it, said Heather Zichal, deputy assistant to the president for energy and climate change. Bloomberg, February 28.

UK

The UK's offshore wind sector can achieve ambitious targets to slash the cost of energy by 40 per cent and deliver more than 18GW of new capacity by 2020, but only if the government maintains a strong commitment to growing the industry. That is the conclusion of two separate reports published by offshore wind farm developer Dong Energy and seabed owner the Crown Estate. The government has set a target to cut the cost of offshore wind power to £100 per MWh by 2020, which should make the technology cost competitive with other forms of low carbon energy such as nuclear. BusinessGreen, March 1.

The government needs a "plan B" on nuclear power, because of the danger that new reactors will not be built in time to avoid energy shortages and possible blackouts, an influential committee of MPs has warned. The warning follows concerns raised by Alistair Buchanan, the outgoing chief executive of the energy regulator, Ofgem, that the decommissioning of many of the UK's ageing fleet of power stations could sharply increase the risk of shortages within a few years. The Guardian, March 4.

Electric Vehicles

Michelin and Siemens staff will use electric vehicles for trips from Germany and France as part of a demonstration project that aims to prove that EVs are cheaper overall than conventional fossil fuel-powered vehicles. The three-year demonstration project, which will kick off in a few weeks, includes research partners Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI. The German Federal Ministry of Transport, Building, and Urban Development (BMVBS) will fund half of the project under the Baden-Württemberg LivingLab BWe mobil showcase project. The consortium partners will pay for the other half of the nearly €2 million project, according to KIT. Environmental Leader, February 27.

LED Lighting

The University of Dundee is to lead a European-wide research project aiming to transform the way the world is lit. Researchers are working on a new generation of white light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that would be much more efficient than existing light bulbs. The project is being funded through a £7.2m grant from the European Union's FP7 programme. BBC News, February 26.

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