Season's greetings to all! This is the last issue of 2012, next one will be in 2013.
- The big energy-related news of late has been the Doha Climate Conference and its conclusion. Plenty of commentary around the globe, I'll just share this cautiously optimistic, systematic analysis at The Guardian.
- FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff's comments on the utility industry's future apply to much of the Western world's electric infrastructure: demand growth is slowing, everything is moving to the Internet, and distributed generation (customer-owned power "behind" the meter) is ramping up - these major trends are all pressuring utilities' old business models. Schumpeter's ghost will enjoy watching the slow-burn fireworks on this trend…
- A big-picture infographic on carbon dioxide emissions and projected effects. As someone who works with computer models, I'm wary of placing too much faith in long-term projections generally, but I lean towards the precautionary principle and prefer some margin of safety for humanity.
- The big picture(s) on renewable energy in two infographic-packed articles, part 1 and 2. Main themes: solar power's tremendously improving economics and retail-level competitiveness; wind power's competitiveness; EU leadership; German vs. US solar; energy subsidies; nation-scale economic wins of large-scale renewable energy; and new energy storage technologies entering the market (not just sitting on a lab-bench).
- The fourth edition of the Energy Revolution report by Greenpeace, the European Renewable Energy Council, and the Global Wind Energy Council was re-released with some updates. Free, comprehensive, and has nice layouts.
- While US-centric, a new report by the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) on residential solar financing does offer some general lessons, see Residential Solar Photovoltaics: Comparison of Financing, Benefits, Innovations, and Options. What's applicable for those outside the US? The need to KISS; non-technical issues keep solar expensive, up to 50% costlier in the US compared to Germany.
Smart Grid (SG)
- The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) just released a new report, Assessment of Demand Response & Advanced Metering; demand response is (automatic) responsiveness to a changing electricity price and is approaching 10% of US peak electricity demand; smart meters installation are close to a quarter of the nation's meters, but backlash is growing and not without reason.
- If you're new to the SG, an important bit of background is the ongoing standardization work. As this article makes clear, the standards effort is still plodding on.
- A short article on Africa's future electricity infrastructure at IEEE tells how, as with telecommunications, many developing nations may bypass centralized infrastructure in favor of decentralized and loosely connected networks.
- Pike Research conducted a national/US survey on consumer attitudes towards clean energy; solar and wind power continue to get favorable or very favorable support from over 2/3 of the public; plenty of other interesting data points, and unlike most of their reports, this one is free.
- NREL recently released two more reports on the US solar market: one on PV price trends, another on non-hardware costs.
- As of this writing, the US has no offshore wind power despite over 20 years having passed since Denmark's first installation. But the Dept. of Energy just announced funding for 7 initial offshore wind farms.
- Why the UT Fracking Study Controversy Matters - like the SUNY decision to close an industry-funded study center, UT's Energy Institute is under fire for conflicts of interest and shoddy scholarship on fracking. (The EU, by contrast, continues to be much more cautious, see an earlier issue for what their studies found.)
- China has increased its solar power target to 40GW by 2015, i.e. about 10GW a year for the next 3 years. For comparison, total world solar capacity at the end of 2011 was about 70 GW.
- A UK poll on solar power found that most people significantly underestimate the financial returns of solar photovoltaic power. Even in the cloudy UK, solar's typical ROI is 7-10%.
- Was Germany's 2011 commitment to phase out all nuclear power just an exercise in Fukushima panic-politics? Many commentators like to parrot that idea, but as the latest issue of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists explains, German energy policy/history tells otherwise: the shutdown was long in the making, and may be net-positive economically.
- The World Wind Energy Association just released a study on wind power in the Commonwealth of Independent States (aka former Soviet states). Huge potential and hardly any development yet, but it's starting, w/ Ukraine in the lead.
Was the above useful? Join the newsletter!
If the above summary was useful, sign up for the biweekly newsletter version below (be assured I will never sell/share your email address to any 3rd party):