Observing the renewable energy transition from a European perspective

Archive for the month “May, 2012”

3800 km new powerlines planned for Germany

Last Wednesday, 4 large German grid operators presented a plan to enhance the grid until 2022. 3800 km additional powerlines costing 20 billion euro. 4400 existines lines will be upgraded, so the north can provide the south wind electricity from windpower. In 2020 the share of wind, solar, hydro and biomasse should increase to 35% of the total energy mix.


600 Foot Solar Tower in Nevada

Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project. 600 foot/200 m tower, 10,000 mirrors, 110 MW solar thermal power. Cost: $1 billion. Heat storage in molten salt enabling power generation during the evening hours. Completion summer 2013, operation december 2013.
Read more…

Dennis Meadows

Dennis Meadows in 1972 was a prominent member of the Club of Rome. On March 1, 2012 a symposium celebrated 40 years of ‘Limits to Growth‘, one of the most influential environmental studies of the 20th century. Meadows no longer believes in sustainable development, it is too late for that. Meadows currently holds that collapse is now all but inevitable, but that its actual form will be too complex for any model to predict. “Collapse will not be driven by a single, identifiable cause simultaneously acting in all countries,” he observes. “It will come through a self-reinforcing complex of issues”—including climate change, resource constraints and socioeconomic inequality… As scarcities mount and inequality increases, revolutions and socioeconomic movements like the Arab Spring or Occupy Wall Street will become more widespread—as will their repression. [source].

[] – “There is nothing we can do” – Meadows

Scientific American Flirts With Doomerism

Earlier The Economist expressed fear that maybe the oil-peakers might have a point, now another heavyweight from Anglosphere rings the alarmbells. Scientific American refers to the MIT World3 computer model and a new book “2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years“, predicting ‘near global collapse’ due to severe global warming. The author Jorgen Randers contends that economic life will largely remain unchanged for the coming decades before a real crisis will begin, an idea with which we here at DR disagree as too optimistic. Next Scientific American refers to Graham Turner of Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization as well as PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency who conclude that business as usual will continue until 2015, after which oil depletion will make itself felt. SA weakly refers to ‘ingenuity’ as a possible way out, but ends its article mentioning good old Dennis Meadows, the Cassandra from 1972, who has given up all hope that a collapse can be avoided.


Richard Heinberg Arrives in China

Molten Glass Thermal Storage Breakthrough

Halotechnics, an early-stage solar-thermal startup, has developed two radical new materials for storing solar heat energy, using new kinds of salts and even a new kind of glass. In contrast to PV, thermal solar can be used to generate power at night. The innovation is that heat can be stored at much higher temperatures to be used in generation of steam-turbine-driven energy. Storage of heat is a means of combatting the major weakness of regenerative methods of energy production: its intermittent nature. Being able to store energy at higher temperatures is the key to cutting the costs of solar thermal, and that is what Halotechnics has pioneered. Today’s molten salt based technologies are confined to 565 °C. Halotechnics surpassed 700°C and one of their new molten glass materials can work up to 1,200 °C.


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Yesterday 22GW PV Electricity Generated In Germany

During last Friday, a very sunny day, the combined installed solar panels in Germany produced a record of 22,000 MW of power, the equivalent of 20 nuclear power stations, an absolute world record. Last year, on the same day, merely 14GW were generated. Fortunately peak production coincides with peak demand, during the afternoon. The rapid increase of generated solar power requires investment in the grid.

[Der Spiegel – in German]

Oil, Smoke and Mirrors

Documentary for people who are not afraid of a ‘conspiracy theory’. The video links the events of 9/11 to peak-oil and implies that the ‘war on terror’ is in reality a resource war. We gladly leave it to you to draw your own conclusions. It is interesting to note that many prominent figures in the peak-oil movement, like Colin Campbell, Richard Heinberg, Michael Ruppert and Daniele Ganser (ASPO Switzerland), are 9/11-truthers.


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The End Of Suburbia

The video by Gregory Greene shows the consequences of the impending peak-oil crisis for suburbia. And it ain’t pretty.

52 minute summary of the 78 minute original.


And the winner is… Germany!

A picture is worth a thousand words. This certainly applies to the realities on the solar PV market. If one off-sets installed installed PV capacity to population base it becomes clear that the solar revolution is taking place first and foremost in Germany (and Italy). The world may have economic problems, but renewable energy is booming and solar in particular, as PV installation increased 40% from 2010-2011.

Belictric first company to install 1 GW PV power

The German company and market leader Belictric is the first company to have passed the 1 GW mark of total installed PV power. That’s the equivalent of a large power station. Belictric achieved that in 10 years time and currently employes 2000 people. Picture shows the largest European thin layer solar power station with total capacity of 70 MW in Alt Daber/Brandenburg/Germany.
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Forecast of Norwegian Oil Production

Forecast of Norwegian oil production. Peak production expected for 2016. Already in a decade production will have decreased to one third of the peak.


1 MW Scottish Tidal Power Project In Operation

An underwater turbine that is set to be used in Scotland’s first and only consented tidal power project has successfully completed an initial testing period in Orkney, and is providing electricity for homes and businesses on the island of Eday, one of Orkney’s northern isles. A similar design has been operating in Norwegian waters for six years.


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Russia diving of the cliff?

People who adhere to the peak-oil theory believe that world oil production is on a plateau since a couple of years and soon will dive into the abyss with ever greater speed. It looks like that Russia is giving the ‘good example’ here. Russia’s oil production took a dive earlier this year. Read more…

Caspian Sea Oil Find

Iran has discovered oil in its Caspian Sea waters for the first time in more than a century, the state-run Fars news agency reported. The deposit was found at a depth of 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) during drilling on a natural-gas field and may contain 10 billion barrels of crude, Fars said, citing the National Iranian Oil Co. That’s equal to 7 percent of Iran’s known reserves. 10 billion barrels represent 3-4 months global oil demand at current consumption rate.

[Iranian oil stats]

Global Atlas for Wind & Solar Energy

There is a project underway in setting up a global solar and wind atlas by IRENA, the International Renewable Energy Agency. Implementation strategy here, 2 page summary here.


Saudi Arabia eyes $109bn plan for solar industry

Saudi Arabia is seeking investors in a $109bn plan to create a solar industry that generates a third of the nation’s electricity within two decades, according to officials at the government agency developing the plan.The world’s largest crude oil exporter aims to have 41,000 megawatts of solar capacity by 2032. This would be equivalent with 523,000 barrels of oil a day. Plan: 25,000 megawatts from solar thermal plants, which use mirrors (CSP) and 16,000 megawatts from photovoltaic panels.

It is difficult to imagine a clearer indication that oil is running out than this investment plan by what was for a long time the largest oil province of the planet.


Japan Asks For Power Usage Cuts

Welcome to the new reality of energy scarcity. If a highly advanced country like Japan asks its citizens to voluntarily cut energy use, one can be assured that something big is in the making. In western Japan energy consumers will be asked to reduce demand by at least 15% compared with peak levels in the summer of 2010 for the period from July 2 through Sept. 7. The power cuts are linked to the nuclear power stations that were taken off the grid after the desaster in Fukushima. There is no reason not to assume that this will be a recurring pattern in the years to come, until the moment arrives where electricity will be rationed.


US military comes clean

The US Army, Air Force and Navy have agreed to install a total of 3 gigawatts of new renewable energy by 2025. Now 2025 is far away and btw will coincide with the announced landing of the first American on Mars, which no doubt is going to happen, provided the country does not break up, like the USSR of former fame did. We use the occasion to propose a conceptual innovation: environmentally friendly fire. Being killed by the US army still sucks, but at least it will happen in an environmentally responsible way. It is the thought that counts. We do wonder though if the US army will not become too easily traceble with these windturbines all over the place?


Apple commits to renewable energy

Apple plans to power its main data centre entirely with renewable energy by the end of this year. The creator of iphone and ipad will build two solar array installations in North Carolina, near its core data center. Estimated production: 84 million kWh per year. Behind the Cloud the sun is shining. [more]


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