The Lesson in Renewable Energy Development from Spain

The most recent energy sector reforms passed in Spain represent the fourth time that a sweeping set of retroactive changes has rocked the country’s renewable energy (RE) industry. This new Royal Decree Law modifies billions of Euros worth of renewable energy contracts in a move that, when added to previous retroactive measures, will almost undoubtedly trigger insolvencies across the sector.

Instead of looking at the new Law in detail, this article takes a step back, and looks at the key lessons that policymakers around the world should draw from the Spanish experience.

As highlighted in previous analyses, the underlying problem that legislators in Spain are trying to address is the rapid growth of the electricity system deficit, which now stands at €26 billion.

This deficit has been created over the last fifteen years as the costs of generating electricity have risen faster than what utilities can lawfully recover from rates. The root cause of this is ultimately that Spain limits the amount by which electricity prices can increase.

Written by Toby D. Couture. To read the full article, click here.

City of Palo Alto, California to Switch to 100% Renewable Energy Sources

This week the city council in Palo Alto, California voted in favor of sourcing all the town’s energy needs from clean, renewable sources. Effective immediately, the city will use 100% carbon-free electricity. And best of all, the move towards 100% clean energy won’t cost Palo Alto residents much; The town estimates that the switch will add just $3 per year to the average homeowner’s energy bill.

Palo Alto owns all of its own utilities, which makes it easy for the town to control where its energy is coming from. And it’s one of only a handful of cities across the world that can claim to run on 100% renewable energy. The city currently gets 50% of its power from hydro-electric dams. In addition to hydro energy, the town buys wind and solar energy, and it also uses methane gas that is captured from landfills. If, for some reason, all of the city’s energy needs can’t be filled with renewable sources, the town says that it will use renewable energy certificates to purchase non-renewable power.

“Palo Alto has been a leader in reducing its carbon emissions,“ Mayor Greg Scharff told the Palo Alto Patch, “but when we realized we could achieve a carbon neutral electric supply right now, we were compelled to take action. Climate change is one of the critical challenges of our generation and we hope our actions will inspire others to follow suit.”

Written by Mark Boyer. To read the full article, click here.

Renewable energy is clean, cheap and here – what’s stopping us?

The report from the Committee on Climate Change arguing that investing in renewable energy would eventually save consumers a lot of money is spot on.

We are regularly told by conventional utility companies, many politicians and commentators that energies such as solar and wind are hopelessly expensive and reliant on enormous subsidy.

But this is simply wrong. Renewables have seen such dramatic price falls in the past few years that they are threatening to upset the world as we know it and usher in an almost unprecedented boom in the spread of cheap, clean, home-produced energy.

Solar will be the cheapest form of power in many countries within just a few years. In places such as California and Italy it has already reached so-called “grid parity”. Onshore wind, on a piece of land not constrained by years of planning delays, is already the cheapest form of energy on earth. These are not wild claims – those are figures from General Electric, Citibank and others.

Written by Ashley Seager. To read the full article, click here

Solar Panel Costs Drop, Fueling Rise In Renewable Energy

BERLIN — A dramatic drop in the price of solar power technology last year helped the continued growth of renewable energy, according to a U.N.-backed report published Wednesday.

Global energy-generating capacity from renewable sources rose by 115 gigawatts in 2012, compared with 105 gigawatts the previous year, the report by the Paris-based think tank REN21 showed.

Installed renewable energy capacity rose to over 1,470 gigawatts, equivalent to about 1,500 nuclear reactors. Two thirds of all renewable capacity still comes from hydropower, but wind and solar have been gaining. The worldwide capacity of photovoltaic cells, which convert sunshine into electricity, reached 100 gigawatts last year, the report said.

Written by Huffington Post. To read the full article, click here

Japan: The world’s new star in solar power

FORTUNE — Until recently less than 1% of Japan’s electrical power output came from renewables. But following the catastrophe of Fukushima and the power blackouts that followed, Japan has seen an explosion in investment in alternatives. Solar, in particular, in this averagely photon-blessed country, has seen a seismic rise of late and is this year poised to become the world’s largest solar market in volume after China.
According to a report by energy analyst IHS on Japan’s energy mix, Japan’s solar installations jumped by “a stunning 270% (in gigawatts) in the first quarter of 2013.” That means by the end of 2013 there will be enough new solar panels equal to the capacity of seven nuclear reactors. Such massive growth will allow Japan to surpass Germany and become the world’s largest photovoltaics (PV) market in terms of revenue this year.

Written by Michael Fitzpatrick. To read the full article, click here