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Simply an E-FANtastic display at ILA 2014. German ministry softens CO2 emission demands for power plants. BERLIN Germany plans to force coal-fired power plant operators to reduce their CO2 emissions by 2020 by less than previously planned, according to an economy ministry document seen by Reuters on Monday, bowing to opposition from within the industry. Thousands of coal workers marched in Berlin last month to protest against plans to slap a levy on the oldest and most polluting power plants, which unions say could put 100,000 jobs at risk. The levy is aimed at forcing coal operators to slash their emissions and stop Germany from falling short of its target to cut greenhouse gases by 40 percent by 2020 compared to 1990 levels.

But RWE, the country's largest power producer, warned the measure would lead to the immediate closure of its lignite-fired power plants. The new proposal has raised the amount of CO2 older power stations are able to emit before the penalties kick in. Generators E.ON and Vattenfall declined to comment. Renewable Energy's Hidden Costs. Because electricity and heat account for 41 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, curbing climate change will require satisfying much of that demand with renewables rather than fossil fuels. But solar and wind come with their own up-front carbon costs. Photovoltaics require much more aluminum—for panel frames and other uses—than other technologies do, according to a 2011 study at Leiden University in the Netherlands. Alloys for wind turbines demand lots of nickel. Those metals are carbon culprits because they are produced in large amounts by high-energy extracting and refining processes.

The demand for metals, and their already significant carbon footprint, may grow with a switch to green energy. Given all the resources needed for new infrastructure, an analysis last year found that large solar installations take one to seven years to “break even” with coal power on the greenhouse scorecard. Tesla’s Powerwall is the latest step toward our clean-energy future. Most people are skeptical that we’re heading into a clean-energy future. They find it hard to believe that solar energy is fewer than 14 years away from meeting 100 percent of today’s energy needs.

They argue that today solar energy hardly provides one percent of Earth’s energy needs and that we can’t effectively store sunlight — and therefore have a long way to go. But when technologies advance exponentially as solar is doing, one percent solar means we are halfway from 0.01 percent to the goal of 100 percent. The prices of solar panels have fallen 75 percent in the past five years and are advancing on a scale comparable to Moore’s Law, as tech guru Ramez Naam has documented.

At this rate, solar energy is only six doublings away from 100 percent. What has been holding solar back so far has ostensibly been the cost of storage. The Powerwall is available in two configurations: 7kWh and 10kWh. I already live in the clean-energy future that I write about. Making Solar Panels in China Takes Lots of Dirty Energy - Businessweek. Manufacturing solar panels can be a dirty business, from the mining of raw materials to the chemical-laced process of purifying silicon to the assembly of silicon wafers.

Solar energy is a renewable source, of course, but it’s essential to examine the full supply chain to gauge its total environmental impact. One potential concern is the use, containment, and disposal of toxic chemicals. Another is the energy-efficiency of the manufacturing process and the source of the energy used. Researchers at Northwestern University and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory recently examined the solar panel production process in different locations and published their findings in the July issue of the journal Solar Energy. The primary differences, the researchers found, are the less stringent enforcement of environmental regulations in China coupled with the country’s more coal-dependent power sector.

The researchers expect the outlook will improve in the future. Renewable energy investment heats up worldwide. From China to Mexico, renewable energy investments are hot. Global investment in renewable power and fuels reached $270.2 billion last year, nearly 17% higher than in 2013, according to a new study on renewable energy investment from the United Nations Environment Programme. This figure marks the first increase in three years.

Together, wind, solar, biomass and waste-to-power, geothermal, small hydro and marine power are estimated to have generated 9.1% of the world's electricity in 2014, compared to 8.5% in 2013. China led the pack as the location of the biggest renewable energy investments last year, with $83.3 billion, followed by the U.S. at $38.3 billion and then Japan with $35.7 billion. While solar installation boomed in China and Japan, and offshore wind projects in Europe garnered $18.6 billion, some of the most notable renewable investment increases came from developing countries. The total investment in these markets was $131.3 billion in 2014, up 36% from the previous year. Solar Energy | How Canada Could Hit 100 Percent Renewable Energy - Solar Energy. Canada can be a world leader in emissions reductions and renewable energy use, but only if its federal government decides to take climate change seriously, according to a new report.

The report, published Wednesday by 70 Canadian academics, looked at Canada’s potential to shift its electricity production to renewable sources and cut its emissions. It found that the country could get 100 percent of its electricity from low-carbon sources like wind, solar, and hydropower by 2035 and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050. To achieve these goals, the report recommended that the federal government implement a nationwide price on carbon and eliminate subsidies to Canada’s fossil fuel industry — particularly, its tar sands industry.

[Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on ThinkProgress, and is reprinted with permission.] Many provinces produce a surplus of hydropower, she said, energy which could be sold to other provinces. Costa Rica to lower electricity rates due to renewables rise. SAN JOSE, March 19 (Reuters) - Costa Rica will lower its electricity rates an average of 12 percent from April because it has met demand this year almost entirely with renewable energy, the state utilities regulator said on Thursday. A total of 1.5 million households and businesses in the Central American country will receive discounts of between 7 and 15 percent in their power bills next quarter, depending on the company they use. The measure may offer some relief for Costa Rican business owners, who have long warned that electricity prices put the country's competitiveness and domestic consumption at risk. The price reduction is due to the fact that thermal power generation was "nearly nil" in the past couple of months, the regulator said in a statement.

The Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE), a state-run energy firm, predicted that thermal generation could drop to 7 percent of total electricity generation this year, from 12 percent last year, saving nearly $40 million. Sonoma to build the largest floating solar project in the US. Sonoma Clean Power recently announced it has contracted to build the largest floating solar project in the United States, which will produce enough electricity to power 3,000 homes when it comes on-line in 2016. The 12.5-megawatt installation is one of the largest projects of its kind in the world, second only to a 13.4-megawatt solar farm under construction in Japan. There are 1,400 irrigation storage ponds in Sonoma County alone, and plenty more around California.

Many of them are located at vineyards. The Far Niente winery in Napa Valley pioneered the world’s first large-scale floatovoltaic system with SPG Solar in 2011. The new Sonoma County project will be mounted on docks across six wastewater ponds operated by the Sonoma County Water Agency. “We hope that in general, after we further develop the concept, annual lease payments for bodies of water could be lower than land lease payments, which lowers operating costs slightly,” Pristine Sun CEO Troy Helming wrote in an e-mail.

Related. Twitter. How Green Are Those Solar Panels, Really? As the world seeks cleaner power, solar energy capacity has increased sixfold in the past five years. Yet manufacturing all those solar panels, a Tuesday report shows, can have environmental downsides. Fabricating the panels requires caustic chemicals such as sodium hydroxide and hydrofluoric acid, and the process uses water as well as electricity, the production of which emits greenhouse gases. It also creates waste. These problems could undercut solar's ability to fight climate change and reduce environmental toxics. A new ranking of 37 solar manufacturers, the Solar Scorecard, shows that some companies are doing better than others.

Chinese manufacturer Trina scored best, followed by California-based SunPower. The annual scorecard was created by the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition (SVTC), a San Francisco-based nonprofit that has tracked the environmental impact of the high-tech industry since 1982. Patchy Data on Chemicals, Emissions China has already seen a backlash. Solar industry grapples with hazardous wastes. SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Homeowners on the hunt for sparkling solar panels are lured by ads filled with images of pristine landscapes and bright sunshine, and words about the technology's benefits for the environment — and the wallet. What customers may not know is that there's a dirtier side. While solar is a far less polluting energy source than coal or natural gas, many panel makers are nevertheless grappling with a hazardous waste problem. Fueled partly by billions in government incentives, the industry is creating millions of solar panels each year and, in the process, millions of pounds of polluted sludge and contaminated water.

To dispose of the material, the companies must transport it by truck or rail far from their own plants to waste facilities hundreds and, in some cases, thousands of miles away. New companies often send hazardous waste out of their plants because they have not yet invested in on-site treatment equipment, which allows them to recycle some waste. View gallery. Solar_11.2. Renewables and Costs in Germany. In September 2010, the German government announced a new energy policy with the target of increasing the relative share of renewable energy in gross electrical generation to 35% by 2020, 50% by 2030, 65% by 2040, and 80% by 2050.

Germany has been increasing its renewable energy generation from 6.6% (mostly existing hydro) in 2000, when the EEG law took effect, to 23.4% of total generation, at the end of 2013. If current RE growth continues, Germany likely will meet the 2020 target. Energy Generation in Germany: At the end of 2013, German energy sources were 25.6% lignite coal, 15.4% nuclear, 19.6% hard coal, 10.5% natural gas, 1.0% mineral oil, 4..0% Other, for a total of 76.1% from non-RE sources, plus 8.4% wind, 3.2% hydro, 6.7% biomass, 4.7% PV solar, 0.8% Municipal waste, for a total of 23.9% from RE sources. For the years 2008 – 2013: Total generation, GWh.......640,700...595,600...633,000...613,100...629,800...633,600 _electricity_markets.pdf Cap. Renewable Energy Growth in Perspective | Energy Matters. Guest post: Roger Andrews Renewable energy, particularly wind and solar, continues to set records for electicity generation and installed capacity in many parts of the world, and as shown in Figure 1 wind and solar growth in recent years has indeed been quite spectacular (the data used to construct this and following Figures are from the 2014 BP Statistical Review of World Energy): Figure 1: Electricity Generated from Solar and Wind, 1965-2013 But Figure 1 doesn’t tell the whole story because solar and wind are only two of the four main sources of renewable energy.

Adding the other two – biomass and hydro – puts the solar and wind contributions in better perspective (Figure 2). Electricity generated by renewables has increased by a factor of over five since 1965 but 70% of the increase has come from hydro. Figure 2: Electricity Generated from All Renewables, 1965-2013 Figure 3: Percentage of Global Electricity Generated by Renewables, 1965-2013. Why Tesla's battery for your home should terrify utilities. Earlier this week, during a disappointing Tesla earnings call, Elon Musk mentioned in passing that he’d be producing a stationary battery for powering the home in the next few months. It sounded like a throwaway side project from someone who’s never seen a side project he doesn’t like.

But it’s a very smart move, and one that’s more central to Musk’s ambitions than it might seem. To understand why, it helps to look not at Tesla, but at SolarCity, a company chaired by Musk and run by his cousin Lyndon Rive. SolarCity installs panels on people’s roofs, leases them for less than they’d be paying in energy bills, and sells surplus energy back to the local utility. When you have a lot of solar, you need a lot of batteries Fueled by financing systems like SolarCity’s, government subsidies, and a rapid drop in the price of photovoltaics, solar has been growing fast. Forecast storage market from GTM Research. This has been part of the plan for the Gigafactory all along.