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Petrobras deal a new way to go abroad

Thu, 2015-04-02 21:55
China is always looking for new ways to go overseas in the energy sector, and one example of that effort is a $3.5 billion financing deal between Brazilian state oil giant Petrobras SA.

Climate Change Threatens to Kill Off More Aspen Forests by 2050s, Scientists Say

Mon, 2015-03-30 20:29
Scientists warned that the aspen forests could be doomed if emissions of greenhouse gases continue at a high level, adding to other studies that suggest the global effect of climate change.






Students show support for Earth Hour

Sun, 2015-03-29 20:44
Students attend the Earth Hour campaign at a primary school in Lin'an, Zhejiang province, on March 28, 2015. Earth Hour, an initiative by the World Wildlife Fund that began in 2007, is a show of support for tougher action to confront climate change.

Western Balkans electricity plans: where will all that power go?

Fri, 2015-03-27 12:00

Western Balkan countries have ambitious plans to increase their electricity generation over the next years. But what will happen if they all become a regional energy hub? Will there be a demand for all the available electricity?

by Pippa Gallop, cross-posted from the Bankwatch blog

Hardly a week goes by without the media in the Western Balkans reporting on some progress with a coal or hydropower plant projects or reporting grand statements from politicians about their countries becoming regional energy hubs. In some cases this seems deeply improbable at first glance, with countries like Albania and Montenegro historically being electricity importers, but for others like Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia – already net exporters most years – it seems reasonably plausible.

But what will happen if everyone becomes a regional energy hub? Where will all the electricity go? Is there likely to be a market for it at all?

For a few years, the answer seemed to lay in Italy, which looked like it would have difficulty in reaching its obligatory 2020 renewable energy target. It planned in its National Renewable Energy Action Plan to import significant amounts of renewable electricity from the Balkans. Yet in recent years Italy has pulled ahead (pdf), managing to meet the electricity component of its target already. It also has a large generation capacity surplus with much of its fleet lying idle. This led Germany’s E.On to leave Italy earlier this year and sell its thermal power assets. Presumably it also contributed to ENEL’s welcome decision announced earlier this week, to stop constructing new coal plants. This does not necessarily mean that Italy will not import electricity, but that any imports must be cheap enough to compete with domestic production or other imports.

Since we had already been concerned that some of the planned Balkan electricity generation projects may be uneconomic, (see for example unit 7 at the Tuzla lignite-fired plant (BiH) and the Boskov Most hydropower plant, we decided to investigate with the University of Groningen and the Advisory House consultancy what will happen if the promised electricity generation capacity really materialises. We know what to expect on the environmental side from coal and poorly-sited hydropower plants. But what about the economic side? Could coal and gas plants in the Balkans end up lying idle like their counterparts in Italy?

Download the study:
Stranded assets in the Western Balkans – report on the long-term economic viability of new export capacities

Export dependence a real possibility

The first surprise was how difficult it was to find updated and realistic information on planned generation capacity investments. Some of the countries do not have any recent official energy strategy at all while others have but they do not contain sufficient information and/or are internally contradictory.

Not unexpectedly, we found a large gap between government wish-lists of electricity projects and reality.

  • Only one coal power plant (Stanari, BiH) is under construction in the region but up to 15 more are planned.
  • Albania has 10 wind farms planned, but none are under construction.
  • Small hydropower plants are being built – often in controversial locations – but still the number under construction is dwarfed by the number planned.
  • Only five larger hydropower projects (10 MW+) are under construction or near to starting, compared to 37 others planned.

If no new capacity is built except that which is already under construction or near construction, and nothing is closed except that which is already announced, then the region will need to import electricity starting somewhere between 2018-2023, depending on demand levels.

At the other end of the spectrum, if the countries realise all their planned capacity extensions and demand growth is low, the region will have a 56% electricity surplus in 2024.

In particular Bosnia and Herzegovina could turn into the largest exporter of electricity (up to 20 000 GWh), followed by Serbia (18 000 GWh). The other countries have a much lower potential contribution to the regional surplus, but measured in terms of their domestic demand, their export potential is substantial.

Such significant electricity capacity expansions designed to meet export demand create the danger of becoming dependent upon the export market. The export analysis shows that there will not only be competition within the Western Balkans but also from other nearby competitors such Bulgaria, Romania and the rest of the EU. Given an expected excess supply in Europe, increased competition may put pressure on export prices and increase the risk of incurring stranded assets – power plants that will become simply uneconomic to even operate. For this reason, the study suggests closely examining investments that are directed to serve export markets and to also consider the trade-off of producing or buying electricity. Taking measures to reduce electricity losses is also crucial.

Better planning is crucial

No-one knows exactly what the future holds, but several things emerge for me from this study.

First, planning in the energy sector needs to be seriously improved in the region. Strategies need to be better justified, clearer and more coherent. They should avoid including old projects which have already practically failed and take serious note of public comments.

Second, less is more. Why have huge lists of projects that are proving difficult to implement, when with more rational planning and analysis, a much smaller amount of investments would suffice? Energy efficiency should come first, and governments should not be afraid to cancel projects which have been hanging around for decades but never proved worth building.

Third, cross-border co-operation in the region has great potential to save money and natural resources. Making increased use of regional co-operation to meet peak demand would increase stability and lower the overall amount of electricity needed. Peak demand in the Western Balkans for 2024 without cooperation is estimated at approximately 17630 MW in 2024 in the high growth scenario while with cooperation it is only around 15000 MW. So far most of the countries are thinking in very national terms and failing to take advantages of regional synergies.

More

By the numbers: where will energy come from in the western Balkans?
Blog post | March 19, 2015

 

Electricity export ambitions may prove risky for Western Balkans, shows new study
Press release | March 19, 2015

 

Find out more

The Passive House in New York

Fri, 2015-03-27 10:25
In New York City, hundreds of new units designed to use a quarter of the energy consumed by traditional homes are in the works.






The Passive House in New York

Fri, 2015-03-27 08:58
In New York City, hundreds of new units designed to use a quarter of the energy consumed by traditional homes are in the works.






China's greening of its financial market reform

Tue, 2015-03-24 04:25
Those concerned with climate change know that nothing can be fixed unless pollution is dramatically reduced.

Science Museums Urged to Cut Ties With Kochs

Tue, 2015-03-24 00:01
Donations from fossil fuel companies and others who deny climate change are tainted, a letter from scientists and environmental groups says.






Western Balkans electricity plans: where will all that power go?

Mon, 2015-03-23 08:46

Western Balkan countries have ambitious plans to increase their electricity generation over the next years. But what will happen if they all become a regional energy hub? Will there be a demand for all the available electricity?

by Pippa Gallop, cross-posted from the Bankwatch blog

Hardly a week goes by without the media in the Western Balkans reporting on some progress with a coal or hydropower plant projects or reporting grand statements from politicians about their countries becoming regional energy hubs. In some cases this seems deeply improbable at first glance, with countries like Albania and Montenegro historically being electricity importers, but for others like Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia – already net exporters most years – it seems reasonably plausible.

But what will happen if everyone becomes a regional energy hub? Where will all the electricity go? Is there likely to be a market for it at all?

For a few years, the answer seemed to lay in Italy, which looked like it would have difficulty in reaching its obligatory 2020 renewable energy target. It planned in its National Renewable Energy Action Plan to import significant amounts of renewable electricity from the Balkans. Yet in recent years Italy has pulled ahead (pdf), managing to meet the electricity component of its target already. It also has a large generation capacity surplus with much of its fleet lying idle. This led Germany’s E.On to leave Italy earlier this year and sell its thermal power assets. Presumably it also contributed to ENEL’s welcome decision announced earlier this week, to stop constructing new coal plants. This does not necessarily mean that Italy will not import electricity, but that any imports must be cheap enough to compete with domestic production or other imports.

Since we had already been concerned that some of the planned Balkan electricity generation projects may be uneconomic, (see for example unit 7 at the Tuzla lignite-fired plant (BiH) and the Boskov Most hydropower plant, we decided to investigate with the University of Groningen and the Advisory House consultancy what will happen if the promised electricity generation capacity really materialises. We know what to expect on the environmental side from coal and poorly-sited hydropower plants. But what about the economic side? Could coal and gas plants in the Balkans end up lying idle like their counterparts in Italy?

Download the study:
Stranded assets in the Western Balkans – report on the long-term economic viability of new export capacities

Export dependence a real possibility

The first surprise was how difficult it was to find updated and realistic information on planned generation capacity investments. Some of the countries do not have any recent official energy strategy at all while others have but they do not contain sufficient information and/or are internally contradictory.

Not unexpectedly, we found a large gap between government wish-lists of electricity projects and reality.

  • Only one coal power plant (Stanari, BiH) is under construction in the region but up to 15 more are planned.
  • Albania has 10 wind farms planned, but none are under construction.
  • Small hydropower plants are being built – often in controversial locations – but still the number under construction is dwarfed by the number planned.
  • Only five larger hydropower projects (10 MW+) are under construction or near to starting, compared to 37 others planned.

If no new capacity is built except that which is already under construction or near construction, and nothing is closed except that which is already announced, then the region will need to import electricity starting somewhere between 2018-2023, depending on demand levels.

At the other end of the spectrum, if the countries realise all their planned capacity extensions and demand growth is low, the region will have a 56% electricity surplus in 2024.

In particular Bosnia and Herzegovina could turn into the largest exporter of electricity (up to 20 000 GWh), followed by Serbia (18 000 GWh). The other countries have a much lower potential contribution to the regional surplus, but measured in terms of their domestic demand, their export potential is substantial.

Such significant electricity capacity expansions designed to meet export demand create the danger of becoming dependent upon the export market. The export analysis shows that there will not only be competition within the Western Balkans but also from other nearby competitors such Bulgaria, Romania and the rest of the EU. Given an expected excess supply in Europe, increased competition may put pressure on export prices and increase the risk of incurring stranded assets – power plants that will become simply uneconomic to even operate. For this reason, the study suggests closely examining investments that are directed to serve export markets and to also consider the trade-off of producing or buying electricity. Taking measures to reduce electricity losses is also crucial.

Better planning is crucial

No-one knows exactly what the future holds, but several things emerge for me from this study.

First, planning in the energy sector needs to be seriously improved in the region. Strategies need to be better justified, clearer and more coherent. They should avoid including old projects which have already practically failed and take serious note of public comments.

Second, less is more. Why have huge lists of projects that are proving difficult to implement, when with more rational planning and analysis, a much smaller amount of investments would suffice? Energy efficiency should come first, and governments should not be afraid to cancel projects which have been hanging around for decades but never proved worth building.

Third, cross-border co-operation in the region has great potential to save money and natural resources. Making increased use of regional co-operation to meet peak demand would increase stability and lower the overall amount of electricity needed. Peak demand in the Western Balkans for 2024 without cooperation is estimated at approximately 17630 MW in 2024 in the high growth scenario while with cooperation it is only around 15000 MW. So far most of the countries are thinking in very national terms and failing to take advantages of regional synergies.

More

By the numbers: where will energy come from in the western Balkans?
Blog post | March 19, 2015

 

Electricity export ambitions may prove risky for Western Balkans, shows new study
Press release | March 19, 2015

 

Find out more

BYD new Surui

Mon, 2015-03-23 02:22
BYD Auto Sales Co has upgraded its new Surui with an air purification system and a series of new technologies, and buyers are also eligible for a national government subsidy of 3,000 yuan ($488) for energy-saving automobiles.

Coal to remain at head of energy table

Mon, 2015-03-23 02:22
China's coal-dominated energy mix will not change for the next two decades because increased reliance on imported oil poses a threat to the country's energy security.

Solar Eclipse and Supermoon Have Europe Energy Providers Watchful

Thu, 2015-03-19 21:41
Energy operators reliant on the sun prepared for a day of headaches as a total eclipse coincided with a supermoon.






Aviation most obvious sector for environmental tax shift

Thu, 2015-03-19 14:40

By Andrew Murphy, aviation policy officer at Transport & Environment

Ending the generous tax exemptions aviation enjoys would create a level playing field between all transport modes, help meet our 2030 climate targets, and answer the EU’s call for a shift away from labour taxation.

The Commission’s country-specific recommendations in its European Semester report last month highlighted that need for a shift away from high labour taxation and towards environmental and consumption charges. As a means of creating employment, the recommendation is a no-brainer, however precious little progress has been made since the Commission made the exact same recommendation last year.

The problem of high labour taxation is a distinctly European one. The OECD 2014 report on taxation as a percentage of labour costs finds that EU member states occupy the 14 top spots, with Belgium heading the table with taxation accounting for 55.8% of average labour costs.

As the EU struggles to bring down its high unemployment rate of 10%, a tax-shift offers one of the most effective means of both creating employment and achieving our long-stated environmental goals. One rough rule of thumb is that for every €1 billion in labour tax reductions, 10,000 jobs can be created.

In looking for concrete ideas for an environmental tax shift, aviation is the most obvious source. It is 10 times more carbon intensive than other forms of transport and within the EU is it expected to grow almost twice as fast as its lower-carbon competitor, rail.

Despite this, aviation receives some of the most favourable tax treatment of any industry. Due to EU rules, it is exempt from both VAT and fuel duty; exemptions not afforded to other transport modes. These exemptions add up to €40 billion every year – meaning member states are missing out on labour tax cuts that could create 400,000 jobs.

Ending these exemptions would create a level playing field between all modes of transport, help the EU meet its 2030 climate targets and provide a reliable basis for a shift away from labour taxation. Few policies can be said to achieve so many different objectives.

These exemptions originate not at member state level, but in complex and unworkable EU legislation in the fields of VAT and fuel duty. So rather than reprimand member states once a year for failing to act, the Commission should propose amendments to these laws that will allow countries to introduce job-creating environmental taxes.

C0<sub>2</sub> and the climate: Flatlining

Thu, 2015-03-19 11:44
UK Only Article:&nbsp; standard article Issue:&nbsp; The caliphate cracks Fly Title:&nbsp; C0&lt;sub&gt;2&lt;/sub&gt; and the climate Rubric:&nbsp; A ray of hope in the debate about climate change FOR years, it seemed like carbon-dioxide emissions rose relentlessly, whatever the world’s level of economic activity and however much countries spent on no- or low-carbon energy. Now, though, that depressing fact may be changing. The International Energy Agency (IEA), made up mostly of energy-consuming rich countries, reckons worldwide emissions of carbon dioxide in 2014 were the same as in 2013. The only occasions CO2 emissions have actually fallen were in the early 1980s and 2008, both periods of economic contraction, but this is the first time for many years that the world economy has grown (up by 3.3% according to the IMF) and emissions have not risen too. In the European Union, GDP went up by 1.4% last year but CO2 emissions from energy use fell by 6%. Over the past five years GDP among all rich countries has risen by 7% but CO2 emissions from energy have fallen by 4%, offsetting a rise in ...<div class="og_rss_groups"></div>

Obama to Order Cuts in Federal Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Thu, 2015-03-19 06:00
The executive order represents the latest use of presidential power to address climate change, as Congress resists passing legislation.






Xinjiang to be at the heart of reforms of major State-owned energy firms

Mon, 2015-03-16 20:42
Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region will become the center of State-owned energy companies' reform this year with the launch of a pilot project by the country's biggest oil and gas producer in the area.

The New Optimism of Al Gore

Mon, 2015-03-16 12:27
Al Gore has warned of the dangers of climate change for years. Now he’s found a new role: prophet of possibility.






Changan's first electric car EADO EV set to hit the road

Mon, 2015-03-16 01:40
Changan Automobile hopes to become one of the top new-energy vehicle producers in China by 2025, with aims to make 34 models and sell 2 million electric cars.

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