Solar Power Rising in the Gulf

2013 saw great things happen on the Arabian Peninsula in relation to energy production. The region has invested heavily in installing solar power plants and reducing their own reliance on oil (so they can export more). In fact, the UAE is looking to start export in renewable energy!

For the Gulf’s solar industry, 2013 was a year of firsts: In addition to the opening of Abu Dhabi’s Shams 1 plant, Dubai’s first solar power plant became operational, and Kuwait and Oman decided to build their first as well. In Saudi Arabia, one energy analyst found the cost of generating electricity from solar there had become as cheap as generating electricity from oil-fired power plants.

Saudi’s solar goals appear to be the most gung-ho in the region: The kingdom has announced that it plans to throw down $109bn on solar energy and get one-third of its power from the sun by 2032. This target is “too ambitious”, said Hussam Khonkar of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, but added the technology to do so is available.

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Ethiopia Opens Africa’s Largest Wind Farm

Ethiopia is looking to massively expand their energy infrastructure and renewable sustainable energy is a key part of their strategy. This is great to see new energy installations focus on the long-term effectiveness and viability of projects.

“Various studies have proved that there is potential to harness abundant wind energy resources in every region of Ethiopia. We cannot maintain growth without utilising the energy sector,” Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said in a speech at the launch.

Experts put Ethiopia’s hydropower potential at around 45,000 MW and geothermal at 5,000 MW, while its wind power potential is believed to be Africa’s third-largest behind Egypt and Morocco.

Read more at Al Jazeera.

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More Policies Support Renewable Energy Around the World

More countries than ever before now have policies that support renewable energy production. This is obviously a good thing as we are seeing the impact of climate change (like the recent tornados in Japan). We are now a seeing a global effort to slow climate change via policy over the last couple years with Asian and South American countries enacting polices, previously it was primarily only European nations.

The economic diversity of countries enacting support policies for renewable energy has also greatly expanded. High-income economies accounted for 69 percent of all policy support by mid-2005, but by early 2013 this had declined to 30 percent. The other economic groups each increased their share by more than 10 percent.

“As the renewable energy sector continues to mature, policymakers face a host of new challenges,” said Evan Musolino, trend author. “While the pace of countries adopting new renewable energy support policies has slowed somewhat in recent years, the sector has experienced a flurry of activity centered on revising existing policy mechanisms. Policy changes have been driven by a variety of factors, both positive and negative.”

Rapidly changing market conditions for technologies such as solar photovoltaics, where module costs declined by 80 percent since 2008 and by 20 percent in 2012 alone, have dramatically reduced the level of support needed to make projects attractive to investors and feasible for project developers. Simultaneously, the global economic slowdown left many countries with continuously tight national budgets, which has threatened support for the renewable energy sector. The combination of factors has led to a number of cuts to existing incentive programs.

Read more at Worldwatch.

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Saudi Arabia Starts $109 Billion Push for Renewable Energy

The end of cheap oil is inevitable and it’s clear that at least one oil-producing nation gets that. Unlike Canada, which seemingly wants to destroy half a province, Saudi Arabia (with the second-largest oil reserves) is looking to invest a lot of money into fossil-fuel-free energy. Saudi Arabia wants it’s domestic energy consumption to eventually be 100% renewable so this $109 billion investment is proof they are on their way there. Hopefully other countries that export oil like Canada and Venezuela will take inspiration and learn about the future of energy from Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia, world’s largest oil exporter, aims to meet one-third of its energy demands by using renewable energy by 2032, setting aside a budget of $109 billion for achieving the goal.

The issue will also top the agenda at the upcoming third annual Solar Arabia Summit to be held in Riyadh from September 29-30.

Here, international and regional renewable energy experts, will discuss the key challenges faced by the Kingdom in the area and steps towards overcoming them.

Read more at Business Standard.

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Australia Can Make Easy Transition to Renewable Energy

Presently, 10% of Australia’s electricity is produced from a renewable resource, and that number can grow easily with minor adjustments to federal policy. By cutting back subsidies for the oil and gas sector (yes, most developed nations actually provide subsidies to that insanely profitable sector) and upping the cost of carbon the Australian economy can make an easy transition to more renewable energy. To top it all off, the country is looking at a feasibility study of 100% renewable energy use by 2030!

The researchers found currently available renewable energy technologies such as wind and concentrated solar thermal power could displace all fossil-fuelled power plants in the National Electricity Market, according to a peer-reviewed paper published in the international Energy Policy journal.

Running simulations based on power demand and supply data for 2010, the researchers found wind would contribute most in a switch to fully renewable energy. It would account for between 46 and 59 per cent, while solar PV and concentrated solar would supply 15-20 per cent each, and hydro and biofuel-based gas generators the remainder.

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