Month: December 2020

Why ‘Clean Coal’ Remains out of Reach

first_imgWhy ‘Clean Coal’ Remains out of Reach FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Robert Rapier for Forbes:Since the coal industry and utilities that use coal want to continue to exist, they have pushed the clean coal narrative for many years. After all, if there is some hope that this dream is achieved, perhaps the EPA could cut them some slack while they work out the kinks.It’s not so hard to imagine how it would be done. In fact, it’s already been demonstrated many times at a pilot scale. The exhaust from the power plant stack is captured, compressed, and stored underground — either in a cavern or an old oil or gas field.The key challenge has always been one of economics. The capital cost of capturing and compressing those emissions is very high, and the power consumed in compressing the carbon dioxide places a parasitic load on the power plant. Just to compress the emissions can require the electric power requirements of 10% of the plant output, and then it must still be transported to an appropriate site and pumped into the ground. All of these factors drive up the costs to the point that coal power with carbon capture is prohibitively expensive relative to competing ways of producing power.The prohibitive costs are amply demonstrated by the FutureGen project in Illinois. This project was a partnership between the United States Department of Energy (DOE) and an alliance of coal mining and electric utility companies. The project was to be located at the 275 MW Meredosia Power Station in Illinois.FutureGen won $1.1 billion in federal money in 2009, and the project cost was estimated to be $1.65 billion. The DOE spent $202 million on the project, but missed project deadlines and unresolved technology challenges ultimately caused the DOE to pull the plug on the project in 2015.While there are a number of other pilot projects underway around the world, they all suffer from the same basic problem. The costs of competing technologies are close enough to coal that when you try to capture the carbon dioxide emissions it pushes the cost of coal-fired power beyond the competition.Thus, in reality there aren’t any commercial clean coal technologies. It’s very likely there won’t be any. So for countries that have committed to reducing carbon emissions, the pressure to phase out coal will continue to be intense.Full item: The Elusive Search For Clean Coallast_img read more

Technology, Renewables, and Efficiency Gains Drive Shift in India’s ‘Wild Energy Market’

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Associated Press:Within the wild energy market of the world’s second-most populous nation, predictions are proving tricky. India had been projected to become a carbon-belching behemoth, fueled by thermal power plants demanding ever more coal for decades to come.Now, some analysts are saying that may not happen.In the last two years, coal consumption has slowed to its lowest level in two decades, even with the economy growing at a steamy 7 percent annual pace. Thermal power plants have been running below full capacity for years and as of June were operating at only 57 percent of total capacity, the lowest level ever.“India’s future coal demand could actually be near flat,” said Tim Buckley, the Asia energy finance director for the Cleveland-based Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. “The technology-driven changes are happening faster than predicted.”A similar correction is under way in China, where officials and analysts have had to walk back earlier predictions that its annual coal needs would peak in 2030. Instead, the International Energy Agency says China’s coal use — and emissions — topped out in 2013.The rate of increase in coal consumption in India is now the slowest it’s been since 2000, apart from an anomalous 1 percent rate of growth in 2011. Last year, it dropped to 1.5 percent from the decade’s average of 6 percent. This year, it’s slightly higher at 2.8 percent.The slowdown is expected to continue, partly due to manufacturing output dropping to 7.9 percent in fiscal 2016-17, after an average of 9 percent for 2004-08 and a high of 12.3 percent in 2006-07.But there are other important factors at play, including fast progress in adding renewable energy capacity and new measures to improve energy efficiency.Buckley lays out a scenario where India’s coal consumption might come close to peaking within the next decade, if not sooner. It assumes GDP growth would remain around 7 percent, with growth in electricity demand steady at 6 percent due to slow growth in manufacturing, low profitability of power distribution, and political obstacles to raising rates and ending consumers’ electricity subsidies.Energy Minister Piyush Goyal has pledged to reduce grid transmission losses by going after leakage and theft. Reducing those losses from 24 percent today to 15 percent within a decade, would mean an improvement of about 1 percent each year — meaning India would need just 5 percent more electricity to meet the 6 percent annual pace of growth in demand, if that were the only mitigating factor.But thanks to plunging costs for solar and wind energy, and high enthusiasm for hydropower, renewable energy generating capacity is expanding by 20 GW a year, toward a goal of 175 GW by 2022. Buckley calculates that could cut annual growth in coal demand further down to as little as 2.5 percent.By washing coal before it’s burned, India’s power plants now burn less to produce the same amount of power. India is also now policing rail shipments more rigorously to reduce coal theft. And new plants are required to use so-called supercritical technology that further raises the efficiency of coal burned while also reducing pollution.Thanks to such efficiency boosting measures, the amount of coal needed to deliver a 6 percent rate of growth in electricity demand will drop even further, and may be near flat, Buckley says.Other analysts agree the trends are encouraging.“Energy efficiency in India is moving much faster than anybody thought,” said Ajay Mathur, director of The Energy and Research Institute in New Delhi.So far, India’s government and industry officials have said little about these trends. For years, the country argued in global climate talks that it should have the unfettered right to expand its coal power generation to aid its development and raise hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.“It’s a simple matter of not wanting to close those options,” said Ashish Fernandez, a coal industry analyst for Greenpeace. “Power companies don’t want to jump the gun and abandon coal because they want options. But if you look at investments, almost none of them are talking about building coal-fired power plants.”“The writing is on the wall. We could be looking at peak coal in India within five to 10 years,” he said.India’s coal mining giant Coal India Ltd. is already worried. Last month, it hired KPMG to draft a roadmap for its future growth beyond 2030.The Indian coal sector is at a “cross-roads today,” the tender document says. “While it has performed well in the last several years, the potential for performance of the sector needs to be assessed in light of multiple changes in the energy sector.”The company’s former chairman, Partha Bhattacharyya, told an energy workshop last month in Singapore that Coal India should be working on finding alternative uses for its coal as demand from the power sector wanes. He noted China is coal to make fertilizers and methanol, and South Africa to make oil and chemicals.Current forecasts by the International Energy Agency and other analysts say India’s coal consumption will climb by 4-5 percent a year through 2030.The country has only ever used at most 160GW of its 190GW of coal-fired generating capacity, and given current trends, there is no need for any more coal plants for at least 10 years, the government says.But it plans to continue with 50 GW worth of projects already underway, while retiring some 34 GW in old, heavily polluting plants.In those 10 years, improved battery technology that would enable weather- and time-dependent solar and wind power to serve as round-the-clock power sources could help reduce coal use further.More: India’s wild energy trends raise doubts over coal’s future Technology, Renewables, and Efficiency Gains Drive Shift in India’s ‘Wild Energy Market’last_img read more

Trump order to prop up coal plants will increase electricity bills in West Virginia

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Charleston Gazette:As West Virginians continue to see their utility bills rise, the regional electric grid serving the state is among those warning that attempts by President Donald Trump’s administration to keep coal and nuclear power plants from closing will lead to higher electricity prices.Trump has ordered the U.S. Department of Energy to stop unprofitable coal and nuclear power plants from closing due to what his administration says are concerns for national security and grid reliability. An internal White House memo outlined a plan to keep the plants alive, Bloomberg News reported. The department would direct grid operators to purchase power or generating capacity “from a designated list of facilities” for two years to put impending closures on pause, according to the report.But the PJM Interconnection, which operates the electric grid serving West Virginia and others, said earlier this month that there “is no immediate threat to system reliability.”That conclusion isn’t anything new. A U.S. Department of Energy report released in August stated that grid “reliability is adequate today despite the retirement of 11 percent of the generating capacity available in 2002, as significant additions from natural gas, wind, and solar have come online since then.”PJM also said a marketplace with limited government interference “has led to historically low prices.”“Any federal intervention in the market to order customers to buy electricity from specific power plants would be damaging to the markets and therefore costly to consumers,” it said.Jacqueline Roberts, director of the state Public Service Commission’s Consumer Advocate Division, said “someone has to pay for the subsidies, and that includes [West Virginia] ratepayers.”There are still plenty of questions industry players have for the White House. Roberts said that “no one knows the subsidy mechanism yet” that will be pursued. Cathy Kunkel, a Charleston resident and analyst for the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, agreed, saying “the devil is in the details” on how the plants will be kept alive.“I’m not sure how you would effectively design a program like this,” Kunkel said. “Would there be a set price floor for coal-fired power plants? Would [grid operators] be buying a certain amount of their generation?”West Virginia is home to 10 active coal-fired power plants, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, and coal-fired plants accounted for 94 percent of the state’s net electricity generation in 2016. But coal-fired power plants are shutting down across the country as natural gas and renewable energy sources increase their share of the marketplace.Trump order could prop up WV coal plants, but many warn of consumer cost Trump order to prop up coal plants will increase electricity bills in West Virginialast_img read more

Court rulings require EPA action on upwind air pollution

first_imgCourt rulings require EPA action on upwind air pollution FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Hill:Two separate courts ruled this week that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must enforce regulations that restrict states from emitting pollution that could cross borders into neighboring states.U.S. district courts in Maryland and New York both ruled separately that EPA was derelict in its duty by not enforcing states to comply with the “Good Neighbor provision” under the Clean Air Act meant to address smog pollution. The New York court found that EPA failed to meet an August 2017 deadline that would begin the process of enforcing the law throughout states. The court’s judge ruled that EPA must take necessary steps to limit the smog that blows into New York and Connecticut from five surrounding states: Illinois, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Michigan and Virginia.The court set a Dec. 8 deadline for compliance.In Maryland, a similar verdict found that EPA must take a final action by Sept 15. “The court notes that it does not grant the above extension lightly,” Maryland’s district court wrote in its verdict. “On the contrary, the court is troubled by EPA’s apparent unwillingness or inability to comply with its mandatory statuary duties within the timeline set by Congress.”More: Courts deal blow to EPA over Clean Air Actlast_img read more

New York begins bidding process for 800MW of offshore wind

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Associated Press:New York has kicked off the competition for the state’s first large-scale offshore wind development contracts.Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday the solicitation seeking 800 megawatts or more of new offshore wind projects is an initial step toward the state’s goal of 2,400 megawatts of offshore wind by 2030 to combat climate change.The Democrat has mandated that 50 percent of the state’s electricity must come from renewable sources by 2030.Under the solicitation, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority has the ability to award 25-year contracts for projects ranging from 200 to 800 megawatts. Bids are due in February and awards are expected in the spring.The agency will award contracts according to price as well as economic benefits and project viability.More: New York kicks off competition for offshore wind contracts New York begins bidding process for 800MW of offshore windlast_img read more

Ohio officials approve two big solar projects

first_imgOhio officials approve two big solar projects FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享PV Magazine:The Midwest is getting ready for a major boom in large-scale solar, as evidenced by the activity in interconnection queues of the region’s grid operators. Today, two more very large solar projects got the green light by the state of Ohio, which is the tip of the spear for large-scale development in the region.Specifically, the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) has approved Hecate Energy’s 300 MWac Highland Solar Farm in Highland County, as well as Invenergy’s 170 MWac Hardin Solar Energy Center 2 in Hardin County, which is paired with a 60 MWac battery. Developers plan to begin construction on both of these projects within the next five months, and to complete them in 2020 and 2021.Either of these projects on their own would dramatically increase the capacity currently online, which Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) put at 202 MWdc as of the end of last year. However, we at pv magazine have found five other large-scale solar projects planned for the state which have been approved by the OPSB and/or hold interconnection agreements; together with the projects approved today these total 1.24 GWac.These could be the first projects of this scale to come online not only in Ohio, but in the entire Midwest.Chicago developer Invenergy’s Highland Solar Farm is technically the smaller of the two at 170 MWac, however it is planned to be built adjacent to the original 150 MWac Hardin Solar, and together the two plants will represent a whopping 320 MW. Hardin Solar 1 has already been approved by OPSB, and Invenergy secured long-term leases for the land for the Hardin Solar 2 in July.The Hardin Solar 2 is notable in that it plans to incorporate a 60 MW lithium-ion battery system, as one of the first large-scale solar projects that pv magazine staff have seen in the Midwest to incorporate battery storage.More: Ohio approves two huge solar projectslast_img read more

BHP: Thermal coal investments not in company’s future plans

first_imgBHP: Thermal coal investments not in company’s future plans FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Australian Financial Review:BHP says it has no appetite for new investments in thermal coal, regardless of how lucrative those investments may be, but has also signalled it is unlikely to invest in commodities like lithium and cobalt.The hardening of BHP’s attitude toward the type of coal used for power generation was revealed in a slide pack published ahead of a strategy briefing by chief financial officer Peter Beaven.The presentation declares that the decarbonisation of the energy sector will see thermal coal ”phased out, potentially sooner than expected”. BHP then added that it had “no appetite for growth in energy coal regardless of asset attractiveness”.”Our energy coal exposure is just three per cent of our asset base. But it is made up of two very high-quality mines which generate high margins. Our focus will be on maximising value to shareholders, whether we are long term owners or not,” Mr. Beaven told analysts on Wednesday morning.The comments come after Deutsche analyst James Gurry said this week that he expects BHP to exit its thermal coal assets, which comprise the Mt. Arthur mine in New South Wales and a stake in the Cerrejon business in Colombia. Mr. Gurry said in a note that he valued BHP’s thermal coal assets at more than $US2.5 billion ($3.6 billion).More: BHP dark on thermal coal’s futurelast_img read more

Breakthrough perovskite-based solar technology could hit the market by summer of 2021

first_imgBreakthrough perovskite-based solar technology could hit the market by summer of 2021 FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Guardian:British rooftops could be hosting a breakthrough in new solar power technology by next summer, using a crystal first discovered more than 200 years ago to help harness more of the sun’s power. An Oxford-based solar technology firm hopes by the end of the year to begin manufacturing the world’s most efficient solar panels, and become the first to sell them to the public within the next year.Oxford PV claims that the next-generation solar panels will be able to generate almost a third more electricity than traditional silicon-based solar panels by coating the panels with a thin layer of a crystal material called perovskite.The breakthrough would offer the first major step-change in solar power generation since the technology emerged in the 1950s, and could play a major role in helping to tackle the climate crisis by increasing clean energy.By coating a traditional solar power cell with perovskite, a solar panel can increase its power generation, and lower the overall costs of the clean electricity, because the crystal is able to absorb different parts of the solar spectrum than traditional silicon.Typically, a silicon solar cell is able to convert up to about 22% of the available solar energy into electricity. But in June 2018, Oxford PV’s perovskite-on-silicon solar cell surpassed the best performing silicon-only solar cell by reaching a new world record of 27.3%. The perovskite-coated panels will appear different too. Instead of the blue tint usually associated with traditional silicon panels, Oxford PV’s panels will appear black and blend in better with rooftop slates.Dr Chris Case, the chief technology officer at Oxford PV, said using perovskite represents “a true change” for solar technology, which has remained relatively unchanged since the silicon-based panels developed in the 1950s. “Silicon has reached its culmination of capability,” he said. “There are residual improvements to be made, and cost of production opportunities, but from a performance standpoint it is at its efficiency limit. The perovskite material is something totally innovative for solar.”[Jillian Ambrose]More: U.K. firm’s solar power breakthrough could make world’s most efficient panels by 2021last_img read more

Apple to buy power from Danish wind turbine test site to power nearby data center

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享ZD Net:Apple has announced plans to invest in two of the world’s largest wind turbines in Denmark and says its huge Danish data center is now operational.Apple announced its Danish data center plans in 2015 and today revealed its 45,000 square-meter facility in Viborg, Denmark is finally operational. Apple had originally planned to build two data centers in Denmark at a second $921m facility in Aarbenraa, Denmark. However, the tech giant abruptly cancelled it in 2019.Apple says the Danish data center is run entirely by renewable energy from local projects, including the Esbjerg wind project and a Danish solar project in Thisted, Northern Jutland. Apple is developing the wind and solar projects in partnership with European Energy.Esbjerg, on the south-east cost of Denmark, will be home to two 200-meter-tall turbines that are expected to produce 62 gigawatt hours each year. That’s enough to power almost 20,000 homes if it were put into the grid, but only surplus power not consumed by Apple’s data center will go to the Danish grid. The two giant turbines will serve as a test site for offshore wind turbines.“Combatting climate change demands urgent action and global partnership — and the Viborg data center is powerful proof that we can rise to this generational challenge,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives, in a statement. “Investments in clean energy deliver breakthrough innovations that bring clean energy and good jobs to businesses and local communities. This is an area where we have to lead — for the sake of our planet and future generations.”[Liam Tung]More: Apple is investing in two of the world’s largest wind turbines to power its new data center Apple to buy power from Danish wind turbine test site to power nearby data centerlast_img read more

Renewable energy provided more than half of Germany’s electricity in first nine months of 2020

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renew Economy:Renewable energy sources generated over half of German electricity across the [first] nine months of 2020, with wind the clear winner generating over a quarter of the country’s power.Further highlighting the growth of renewable energy in Germany’s power mix is the hierarchy of generating sources. Wind energy generated 96.8TWh over the first three quarters of 2020, accounting for nearly 27% of the total. Brown coal was the second largest source of electricity generation, with 15% of the total, but importantly, third place was solar PV with 13%.Both wind and solar, then, generated more electricity than nuclear and natural gas, and when combined, the two main sources of renewable electricity generation accounted for 143.9TWh, or 39.75% of the total, according to Energy-Charts, a publicly available tool provided by Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE).Combining all renewable sources of electricity generation together reveals that renewables have so far generated 193.11TWh, or 52.9% of Germany’s total so far this year.Bruno Burger, Head of Department New Devices and Technologies at Fraunhofer ISE, regularly uses his Twitter account to highlight the work of Energy-Charts and the attendant highlights of Germany’s power network. In several recent Tweets, Burger highlighted the dramatic shift in Germany’s power mix this year, which saw electricity generation from brown coal and hard coal fall sharply. Specifically, across the first three quarters of 2020, brown coal saw its share of the German power mix fall by 28% while hard coal fell by 36.3%.Burger also recently highlighted an impressive record for Germany’s solar PV sector, which generated 46.5TWh over the first three quarters of 2020, the same total generated during 2019, leaving plenty of room to set an impressive new annual record.[Joshua S Hill]More: Renewables deliver over half of German electricity in first nine months, coal plunges Renewable energy provided more than half of Germany’s electricity in first nine months of 2020last_img read more