Contrary to Conventional Wisdom — It’s The Friday Daily Energy News DumpPosted: June 27, 2014
Is residential PV solar more trouble than it’s worth?
- The electrons generated by residential PV solar systems are green, but the electric current they send to the grid is intermittent, unreliable and generally filthy.
- Since residential PV solar system owners aren’t required to pay the hidden costs of intermittency abatement, their systems increase electricity costs for everybody else.
- Preferential tariffs and net metering schemes compound the problem by under-charging residential PV solar owners for their utility’s infrastructure.
- Investment tax credits for residential PV solar systems are patently unreasonable, because the future economic benefits of the investment aren’t taxed at all.
- While regulatory structures, billing practices and tax regimes will change because they must change, grid-scale energy storage will be a crucial part of the solution.
Germany is headed for its biggest electricity glut since 2011 as new coal-fired plants start and generation of wind and solar energy increases, weighing on power prices that have already dropped for three years.
Utilities from RWE AG to EON SE are poised to bring units online from December that can supply 8.2 million homes, 20 percent of the nation’s total, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That will increase spare capacity in Europe’s biggest power market to 17 percent of peak demand, say the four companies that operate the nation’s high-voltage grids. The benchmark German electricity contract has slumped 36 percent since the end of 2010.
The new coal plants are starting as Germany aims to almost double renewable-power generation over the next decade. Wind and solar output has priority grid access by law and floods the market on sunny and breezy days, curbing running hours for nuclear, coal and gas plants, and pushing power prices lower. The profit margin for eight utilities in Germany narrowed to 5.4 percent last year from 15 percent a decade ago.
“The new plants will run at current prices, but they won’t cover their costs,” Ricardo Klimaschka, a power trader at Energieunion GmbH who has bought and sold electricity for 14 years, said June 25 by e-mail from Schwerin, Germany. “The utilities will make much less money than originally thought with their new units because they counted on higher power prices.”
Europe could coax utilities to shift from burning coal to cleaner natural gas by quadrupling the price that financial markets place on carbon dioxide emissions, the head of Spain’s biggest power generator said.
Ignacio Galan, chairman and chief executive officer of Iberdrola (IBE) SA, said European Union leaders should take steps to boost prices in the EU Emissions Trading System in addition to setting a target to reduce pollution by 40 percent by 2030.
“A carbon price of 20 to 30 euros is the right level for switching from coal to gas,” Galan said in an interview at Bloomberg’s office in London. Carbon has fallen by a third to less than 6 euros ($8.17) a metric ton since 2011 as slower economic growth reduced industrial production and the need to offset pollution.
The comments were meant to guide EU leaders as they negotiate targets to restrain emissions, part of an effort by more than 190 countries led by the United Nations to curb the gases blamed for global warming. Coal’s share of world energy demand rose to the highest level since 1970, making it the fastest-growing fossil fuel, the oil producer BP Plc (BP/) estimates.
About 100 workers from oil services firms could walk off the job from July 5 if wage talks fail, the head of Norway’s biggest oil sector union said on Friday, a move that would not have an immediate impact on oil output.
However were such a strike to last for several weeks or longer, or if more workers were to join the action at a later stage, it could potentially affect production and even lead to shutdowns.
Several rounds of wage talks between energy firms and unions have taken place in Norway in recent weeks, with none of them resulting in industrial action after all sides accepted the outcome of state mediation.
Next up is mediation on July 4-5 between oil services workers represented by Industri Energi, the largest union for energy workers, and the Norwegian Oil and Gas Association, which represents employers.
If these talks fail, around 100 engineers from firms including Schlumberger and Halliburton, will go on strike, the head of Industri Energi said.
“These are mud engineers … It will have an impact on drilling,” Leif Sande told Reuters.
Related: More on Norway’s oil and gas industry here, from the archives of the Daily Energy Dump.
Bacardi, creator of the world’s favorite rum, generates energy with power from the wind. Installed in 2010, two majestic, wind turbines now are a distinct part of the landscape – and the environmental consciousness – at the world’s largest premium rum distillery in Catano, Puerto Rico, just outside San Juan.
“The wind turbine project is important for both Bacardi and Puerto Rico as it creates renewable energy,” says Magaly Feliciano, Environmental Health & Safety Manager for Bacardi Corporation in Puerto Rico. “The two industrial-scale turbines produce enough energy to power our visitor center, one of San Juan’s top tourist destinations,” [a press release said.]
The wind turbines generate approximately 1,000,000 kWh of electricity per year, providing three to seven percent of the power for Bacardi in Puerto Rico. To put these numbers into perspective, that’s enough electricity to run all tourism-related activities at the Casa BACARDI Visitor Center – equivalent to the energy that 100 households would consume on an annual basis. All of the power generated by the wind turbines is used onsite at the facility, resulting in an average carbon offset of more than 900 tons of CO2per year. […]
The two Bacardi wind turbines can be seen from miles away and are industrial scale at 250kW each. They are owned by Catano-based Aspenall Energies, which will sell the wind-produced electricity to Bacardi under a power-purchase agreement. With their blades, the turbines stand 137 feet high and have a rotor diameter of 75 feet.
Energy Transfer Partners LP has received approval from its board of directors to manufacture a roughly 1,100-mile pipeline (Bakken Pipeline). The publicly traded energy pipeline operator will transport crude oil from the oil producing region in the Bakken shale to Patoka, IL. Bakken Pipeline will thereafter join the partnership’s existing Trunkline Pipeline (Trunkline).
Energy Transfer Partners added that the shippers will get the opportunity to access the Midwest and East Coast markets by transporting crude from Patoka via rail. The shippers can also use the Trunkline to carry crude to the Gulf Coast market and Sunoco Logistics Partners LP’s crude oil terminal at Nederland, TX.
The partnership’s plan to build the Bakken Pipeline stems from sufficient interest that shippers showed in transporting the produced crude oil from the Bakken shale to the multiple markets. The pipeline will be able to carry 320,000 barrels per day crude oil initially. Later on, Energy Transfer Partners will boost the capacity as per customer demand. The partnership expects the Bakken Pipeline to start operating by the latter half of 2016.
Norristown, Montgomery County [Pa.] is exploring whether the Norristown Dam on the Schuylkill would support a hydroelectric power system.
A nationwide study by Oakridge National Laboratory identified the 869-foot-long, 12-foot-high dam as a potential hydroelectric site, estimating that it could generate 12 million kilowatts per year – enough to power 3,600 homes, said Ken Starr, county director of assets and infrastructure.
SolarCity, the fast-growing provider of rooftop solar electricity systems, is moving into the panel manufacturing business, acquiring a start-up and planning to build one of the world’s largest module factories in Buffalo, executives said on Tuesday.
The move into manufacturing, a business that has proved deadly for many other upstart American solar companies, is intended to help the company bring the cost of the electricity it sells below that of fossil fuels, even after subsidies phase out.
To accomplish that goal, the company plans to pay at least $200 million in stock for Silevo, which makes high-efficiency panels at a low cost, executives said. It is also in talks with New York State officials to expand on a plant that Silevo was already planning.
“If we don’t do this, we felt there was a risk of not being able to have the solar panels we need to expand the business long term,” Elon Musk, SolarCity’s chairman and the chief executive of the electric carmaker Tesla, told investors in a conference call. “We’re seeing high-volume production of relatively basic panels but not high-volume production of advanced panels, so we think it’s important that the two be combined.”
“The energy of the mind is the essence of life.” — Aristotle