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CO2

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The power sector will play a crucial role in attaining the European climate targets, which aim to cut greenhouse gases by at least 40% by 2030, compared to 1990. Tracking progress in the power sector is hence of utmost importance. For the fourth year in a row, the second year in a row with Agora Energiewende, Sanbag has presented the state of the energy transition in the European power sector, to update what happened in 2017, with the report The EU Power Sector Review 2017, launched at the end of January in Brussels. Key topics include renewables growth, conventional power generation, power consumption, and CO2 emissions.

The report celebrates how the wind, sun and biomass overtook coal, in supplying electricity across Europe in 2017, but also highlights some of the failings of the current electricity transition, and gives a very mixed picture: EU renewables has been increasingly reliant on the success story of wind in Germany, UK and Denmark, which has been inspiring. But other countries need to do more. Solar deployment is surprisingly low, and needs to respond to the massive falls in costs. And with electricity consumption rising for the third year, countries need to reassess their efforts on energy efficiency.

But to make the biggest difference to emissions, countries need to retire coal plants. The study forecasts Europe’s 258 operational coal plants in 2017 emitted 38% of all EU ETS emissions, or 15% of total EU greenhouse gases. In 2017, Netherlands, Italy and Portugal added their names to the list of countries to phase-out coal, which is great. We need a fast and complete coal phase-out in Europe: the thought of charging electric cars in the 2030’s with coal just doesn’t compute. A 35% renewables target would make a 2030 coal phaseout possible.

Key findings include:

• New renewables generation sharply increased in 2017, with wind, solar and biomass overtaking coal for the first time. Since Europe‘s hydro potential is largely tapped, the increase in renewables comes from wind, solar and biomass generation. They rose by 12% in 2017 to 679 Terawatt hours, putting wind, solar and biomass above coal generation for the first time. This is incredible progress, considering just five years ago, coal generation was more than twice that of wind, solar and biomass.

• But renewables growth has become even more uneven. Germany and the UK alone contributed to 56% of the growth in renewables in the past three years. There is also a bias in favor of wind: a massive 19% increase in wind generation took place in 2017, due to good wind conditions and huge investment into wind plants. This is good news since the biomass boom is now over, but bad news in that solar was responsible for just 14% of the renewables growth in 2014 to 2017.

• Electricity consumption rose by 0.7% in 2017, marking a third consecutive year of increases. With Europe‘s economy being on a growth path again, power demand is rising as well. This suggests Europe‘s efficiency efforts are not sufficient and hence the EU‘s efficiency policy needs further strengthening.

• CO2 emissions in the power sector were unchanged in 2017, and rose economy-wide. Low hydro and nuclear generation coupled with increasing demand led to increasing fossil generation. So despite the large rise in wind generation, we estimate power sector CO2 emissions remained unchanged at 1019 million tonnes. However, overall stationary emissions in the EU emissions trading sectors rose slightly from 1750 to 1755 million tonnes because of stronger industrial production especially in rising steel production. Together with additional increases in non-ETS gas and oil demand, we estimate overall EU greenhouse gas emissions rose by around 1% in 2017.

• Western Europe is phasing out coal, but Eastern Europe is sticking to it. Three more Member States announced coal phase-outs in 2017 – Netherlands, Italy and Portugal. They join France and the UK in committing to phase-out coal, while Eastern European countries are sticking to coal. The debate in Germany, Europe’s largest coal and lignite consumer, is ongoing and will only be decided in 2019.

Source: Sandbag

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In line with its strong commitment to tackling the effects of climate change, Iberdrola has decided to complete the process of phasing out all its coal-fired power generation capacity worldwide. The technology represents 1.8% of the group’s total installed capacity of 48,062 megawatts (MW) and 1.5% of its electricity production for the first nine months of the year (1,596 GWh out of 102,494 GWh).To this end, the company has filed a permit application with the Ministry of Energy, Tourism and Digital Strategy to close the coal-fired power plants in Lada (Asturias) and Velilla (Palencia). Both of the assets are situated in Spain and represent a combined capacity 874 MW. With this decision the company ratifies its commitment to reduce its CO2 emissions intensity by 50% in 2030 and become carbon neutral in 2050.

Iberdrola group operates 28,778 MW clean capacity through renewable energy generation sources, mainly onshore and offshore wind (15,902 MW) and hydroelectric power (12,756 MW).

Last week, Iberdrola, together with other leading Energy companies, called upon European policy makers to embrace higher and more ambitious binding renewable energy targets for 2030 by raising the share of renewables in the final energy demand on the continent from the current target of 27% to 35%.

Once the remaining coal-fired plants are closed the company’s emissions-free capacity will stand at 68%. This figure rises to 76% in Spain, where the security of supply will not be impacted by this initiative thanks to the 5,695 MW back-up capacity in combined gas cycles the company operates.

Closure of the plants will not impact the company’s strong commitment to job stability since all the affected employees (90 at Lada and 80 at Velilla) will either be relocated to other facilities or will be engaged in their respective decommissioning process which will last for four years after approval of the closure by the Ministry of Energy, with an investment of €35 million.

Since 2001, the company has phased out 7,500 MW of thermal power capacity (see chart below) worldwide. In 2013 and 2016, Cockenzie and Longannet, two large power plants in the United Kingdom with a combined capacity of 3,600 MW, were closed. Also, between 2001 and 2012 over 3,200 MW of fuel-oil-fired plants were decommissioned in Spain.

Thanks to the progressive decarbonisation of its electricity generation mix, over the past 15 years Iberdrola has become a reference point in the global fight against climate change, having invested €90 billion in the process.

Today, it has become a global leader in onshore wind while bringing down emissions to 70% below its European peers, representing an improvement of 75% since the year 2000.

Commitment to fighting climate change

In 2009, Iberdrola approved its Policy to Fight Climate Change undertaking, among other measures, to support an ambitious global emissions reduction target; to promote the development of efficient technologies to bring down greenhouse-gas emissions; to advocate for an integrated and fair global emissions market while fostering the efficient and responsible use of energy involving all company stakeholders.

Also, and in order to reduce emissions, it is essential for Iberdrola that a strong signal on CO2 prices is given to markets, affecting all sectors of the economy. In addition, the company understands that with the right climate policies the fight to mitigate emissions and adapt to global warming are opportunities for economic growth.

Lastly, the company has been working as a key partner with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and has an active presence at COP23 which takes place in Bonn until 17 November.

Source: Iberdrola

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Swiss cleantech company Climeworks has partnered with Reykjavik Energy to combine direct air capture (DAC) technology for the world’s first time with safe and permanent geological storage. As part of the CarbFix2 project Climeworks will demonstrate a safe, economically-viable and highly scalable carbon removal technology. This type of solution has been recognized as a crucial component in efforts to achieve global warming targets.

The EU-backed collaborative research project centers around one of the world’s largest geothermal power plants in Hellisheidi, Iceland, where CO2 is currently injected and mineralized at an industrial scale. A Climeworks DAC module has been installed on-site to capture CO2 from ambient air for permanent storage underground, thus creating a carbon removal solution.

A testing phase has started during which the CO2 is captured from ambient air, bound to water, and sent to more than 700 meters underground. There the CO2 reacts with the basaltic bedrock and forms solid minerals, creating a permanent storage solution. Climeworks’ technology draws in ambient air and captures the CO2 with a patented filter. The filter is then heated with low-grade heat from the geothermal plant to release the pure CO2 which then can be stored underground.

During the trial Climeworks will test how its technology works with the specific weather conditions at the location in the South West of Iceland. The CarbFix2 project is a major step forward for DAC technology. Earlier this year the company made history with the world’s first commercially-viable DAC plant near Zurich which filters 900 tons of CO2 from the atmosphere and supplies it to a local greenhouse.

The CarbFix2 project

CarbFix2 has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and is led by Iceland’s multi-utility company Reykjavik Energy. It is based on the original CarbFix project, initiated in 2007. Further partners to CarbFix2 are The University of Iceland, CNRS (Toulouse, France) and Amphos 21 (Barcelona, Spain).

Source: Climaworks

The private sector accounts for around half of Europe’s electricity consumption. Powering corporate consumers with renewable energy could deliver massive reductions in CO2 emissions, save businesses money and make it easier for people to invest in renewables.

Large energy consumers such as chemical and aluminium producers, ICT and food & drink companies gathered in Brussels last October, 11, with renewable energy producers to consider how to unlock this potential. The RE-Source 2017 event brought together industry leaders such as Google, Mars, IKEA and Alcoa with energy players EDF Energies Nouvelles, ENEL Green Power, Envision and Vestas with policy makers.

The volume of ’Corporate Renewable Power Purchase Agreements’ (PPAs) – which allow companies to purchase renewable energy directly from an energy generator – almost tripled in Europe in 2016, with over 1 GW of capacity contracted. Globally, more than 100 top companies have now committed to procure 100% renewable electricity via the RE100 initiative,together accounting for 150 TWh of yearly consumption.

Yet, in Europe, only a limited number of large corporates are involved in renewables sourcing and do so in only a handful of European countries, mainly Scandinavia and the UK.

Getting the EU’s Clean Energy Package right will be key to unlocking the massive growth potential of PPAs. Companies wanting zero-carbon power need to be able to trace the supply and prove that it’s renewable. They also need to value additionality criteria if they have been explicitly investing in new RES capacities, therefore contributing to the achievement of EU’s overall targets. To do this they need functioning Guarantees of Origin (GOs) that are effectively linked with RES producers and a system that values investments in additional renewable capacities. The European Commission’s proposal for a Renewable Energy Directive is insufficient in this regard, and this must be tackled by the European Parliament and Council in the next phase of the negotiations.

Furthermore, in many countries including Germany, it’s a grey area as to whether the law actually allows for PPAs. The new Renewables Directive would require governments to remove legal barriers to PPAs. A better legal framework would help PPAs spread into other markets, whilst more flexible contracts catering to the needs of SMEs would enable PPAs to flourish beyond the major corporates.

Giles Dickson, CEO of WindEurope, said in this morning’s welcome session: “Wind energy producers can supply cheap power today thanks to significant reductions in technology and operating costs in recent years. Renewable PPAs help companies source the affordable power they want and at fixed prices reducing their exposure to volatile fossil fuel costs. But there are still barriers to PPAs. The Clean Energy Package is an opportunity to remove these and ensure PPAs can really flourish”.

Dr James Watson, CEO of SolarPower Europe, said: “Corporates are increasingly looking to buy solar power as a cost-effective and competitive source of energy across Europe. We must act now to encourage corporates and solar companies to work together, to accelerate the European energy transition and facilitate the growth of European solar power.

Source: WindEurope

The buildings in which Europeans sleep, eat, shop, learn and work, house a great opportunity for energy saving and emissions reduction, particularly in the so-called technical systems: heating, DHW, cooling, ventilation and lighting. A recent study by energy consultancy Ecofys, sponsored by Danfoss, shows the energy saving that can be achieved by improving energy management in Europe’s buildings. This hitherto under-exploited potential is calculated to save €67bn on the annual energy bill of European citizens by 2030, while reducing CO2 emissions by 156 Mt. Documents have been published as part of the study that focus on different types of buildings. This article sets out the main conclusions of the study in the case of supermarkets, along with some of the more recent success stories from Danfoss in this sector on the Iberian Peninsula.

Buildings allocated to supermarkets in Europe occupy an approximate surface area of 115 million square metres. Part of the study included an assessment of the energy saving potential of a sample supermarket with a surface area of 1,025 m2 and a total energy consumption of 181 kWh/m2a. This sample building is equipped with a gas condensing boiler for heating (with energy recovery for the refrigeration system); mechanical ventilation systems with no heat recovery; a refrigeration and air conditioning system by means of compression chillers; and a direct and indirect lighting system via fluorescent tubes.

 

Improvements to the technical systems in this sample supermarket reveal the possibility of achieving a 45% saving in energy, which translates into just over 8,000 €/year, with an investment of some €36,000 that would be amortised in around 4.5 years. Read more…

Article published in: FuturENERGY July-August 2017

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Renewable energy targets and other support policies, now in place in 164 countries, powered the growth of solar, wind and other renewable technologies to a record-breaking energy generation capacity last year: about 135 GW of added renewable energy power increasing total installed capacity to 1,712 GW, up 8.5% from the year before.

Despite the world’s average annual 1.5% increase in energy consumption in recent years and average 3% growth in Gross Domestic Product, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2014 were unchanged from 2013 levels. For the first time in four decades, the world economy grew without a parallel rise in CO2 emissions.

The landmark “decoupling” of economic and CO2 growth is due in large measure to China’s increased use of renewable resources, and efforts by countries in the OECD to promote more sustainable growth including increased use of energy efficiency and renewable energy.

“Renewable energy and improved energy efficiency are key to limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius and avoiding dangerous climate change,” says REN21 Chair Arthouros Zervos, who released the new report at the Vienna Energy Forum.

Thanks to supportive policies now in place in at least 145 countries (up from 138 countries reported last year), worldwide power generation capacity from wind, solar photovoltaic (PV), and hydro sources alone were up 128 GW from 2013. As of end-2014, renewables comprised an estimated 27.7% of the world’s power generating capacity, enough to supply an estimated 22.8% of global electricity demand.

Solar PV capacity has grown at the most phenomenal rate —up 48-fold from 2004 (3.7 GW) to 2014 (177 GW)—with strong growth also in wind power capacity (up nearly 8-fold over this period, from 48 GW in 2004 to 370 GW in 2014).

Global new investment in renewable power and fuels (not including hydropower >50 MW) increased 17% over 2013, to USD 270.2 billion. Including large-scale hydropower, new investment in renewable power and fuels reach at least USD 301 billion. Global new investment in renewable power capacity was more than twice that of investment in net fossil fuel power capacity, continuing the trend of renewables outpacing fossil fuels in net investment for the fifth year running.
Investment in developing countries was up 36% from the previous year to USD 131.3 billion. Developing country investment came the closest ever to surpassing the investment total for developed economies, which reached USD 138.9 billion in 2014, up only 3% from 2013. China accounted for 63% of developing country investment, while Chile, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, South Africa and Turkey each invested more than USD 1 billion in renewable energy.

By dollars spent, the leading countries for investment were China, the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom and Germany. Leading countries for investments relative to per capita GDP were Burundi, Kenya, Honduras, Jordan, and Uruguay.

The sector’s growth could be even greater if the more than USD 550 billion in annual subsidies for fossil fuel and nuclear energy were removed. Subsidies perpetuate artificially low energy prices from those sources, encouraging waste and impeding competition from renewables.

Says Christine Lins, Executive Secretary, REN21: “Creating a level playing field would strengthen the development and use of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. Removing fossil-fuel and nuclear subsidies globally would make it evident that renewables are the cheapest energy option”.

Employment in the renewable energy sector is growing rapidly as well. In 2014, an estimated 7.7 million people worldwide worked directly or indirectly in the sector.

Despite spectacular growth of renewable energy capacity in 2014, more than one billion people, or 15% of humanity, still lack access to electricity. Moreover, approximately 2.9 billion people lack access to clean forms of cooking. With installed capacity of roughly 147 GW, all of Africa has less power generation capacity than Germany. Further attention needs to be paid to the role that distributed renewable energy technologies can play in reducing these numbers by providing essential and productive energy services in remote and rural areas.

Solar powered systems save energy, reduce the CO2 emissions of the building and lead to an economic saving that facilitates their amortisation, especially in hotel installations characterised by high and more or less constant levels of DHW consumption all year round. However to achieve this, these systems have to be well-designed, simple structures using reliable and efficient technologies and equipment that minimise necessary maintenance actions.

For example, for a 4-star hotel with an occupancy of around 100 people a day, a solar installation could be designed to cover 60% of the needs arising from DHW demand by installing a solar powered system with a working surface area of about 60 m2 and 4,000 litres of accumulation. The energy obtained through this clean and renewable system would represent a saving in fuel that, in the case of natural gas, would amount to almost 2,700 € per year and would avoid the emission of 17,254 kg of CO2 per year into the atmosphere. To achieve these savings values, the equipment and the type of system to be implemented have to be very carefully selected to protect the solar installation from its main risks: over-heating and freezing.

ACV has over 15 years experience in the manufacture of solar powered systems and is leader in the design, development and commercialisation of Drain Back technologies for tertiary-type installations. ACV’s Drain Back system empties heat-bearing fluid from the collector tank in the event there is a risk of over-heating or freezing, stopping the pump. Using gravity, the fluid is emptied into the drainage tank and air rises through the collector field. The unit is automatically refilled when the situation returns to normal (activating the pump, letting air fill the drainage tank so that the liquid goes back into the solar collectors). Read more…

Gaspar Martín
ACV, Technical Director

Article published in: FuturENERGY June 2015

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