zondag 3 mei 2009

EU plans more energy competition

New legislation will target European energy giants in order to reduce the boosting competition in the market for supplying gas and electricity.

The package is already backed by EU ministers. It was adopted by the European Parliament last Wednesday. But it softens an original proposal to unbundle the control of big energy utilities over power generation and distribution. Producers will keep the control of grids and pipelines under supervision. The "ownership unbundling" drive was an initiative of the European Commission to liberalise the EU's energy market.

The commission was concerned about EDF of France and E.ON of Germany. Their domination of the market is limiting the opportunities for smaller firms to be competitive. France and Germany led opposition to the original plan, pressing for alternatives to breaking up the energy giants that dominate the market.

Full ownership unbundling is an option for governments. Governments will be able to choose for two alternative models, which let energy producers retain control of gas and electricity networks. EU member states can make energy firms hand over the management of their transmission network to a separate independent system operator (ISO).

Firms can also preserve integrated supply and transmission under the independent transmission operator (ITO) model.
The ITO includes a supervisory body with third-party shareholders. It includes also a compliance programme to prevent discriminatory actions in the market. EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said the compromise deal will ensure a market which is proper and honest for everyone. But Green MEP Claude Turmes said the legislation was not strong enough to contain the domination of the sector by oligopolies.

The BEUC European consumers' association was also disappointed. Their meaning: even if the new energy package offers more rights to consumers, these rights cannot be ensured without real competition and in particular without full ownership unbundling.
The package included measures to improve consumers' rights. Consumers will be able to change their energy supplier within three weeks, and free of charge. There will be an independent complaint mechanisms to settle disputes with suppliers. Consumers will also have the right to compensation for bad service, such as inaccurate or delayed billing.

I think it’s a good try to create a fair market of energy supply. But no matter what measures there will be taken, I think the competition in a market is something you can’t really provide. Everyone wants to offer his products as cheap as possible, in order to gain lots of clients. Sometimes, the service you get is less qualitative! But if I can get the same product of the same quality, I will certainly obtain for the cheapest solution. If the legislation of levelled pricing will be introduced, it’s really another case, and I think the best solution will be a fusion of all suppliers to offer the same product of a higher quality and with a better service!

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8013919.stm

Posted by Joachim De Zutter

Economy blows ill wind for renewable energy

The politicians all round the globe had promised that renewable energy would be the main issue of the economic recovery, but this year isn’t good for renewable energy.
A study that is made for the department for energy and climate change has showed that there could be built between 5000 and 7000 new wind turbines off the coast of Britain by 2020. These new turbines will generate 25 GW of energy.
Analysts were warning that the main issue in 2009 is a move from severe under supply to serious over supply.

In March there was the first big hurdle for wind. Shell, the oil company had decided that it was putting out of wind, solar and hydro power because it felt they were not economic. It said it would concentrate on cleaner ways of using fossil fuels.
There are other proves that it is not going well with renewable energy this year. BP has cut 620 jobs at its solar division, and Siemens has cut 400 jobs from its wind operations. Iberdrola hat cut its investments in renewables by almost half this year.

There are also projects that will be stopped. So is there the London Array, a project to build the world’s largest offshore wind farm in the Thames Estuary. The developers of this project went to the bank for a bailout, this puts the future of the project in doubt!!

According to me the financial crisis has also a negative effect on renewable energy. I think it’s logical. People and businesses aren’t very interested in renewable energy for the moment, they want to save as many as they can. They don’t want to invest in new projects. In this difficult time it’s obvious how people think about renewable energy, they don’t think it’s that important. I understand this situation, but I also know that if we don’t pay attention, this is not good for our planet. The people really need to start seeing that our world is in need of renewable energy.

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/apr/28/economy-ill-wind-green-energy

Kevin De Pauw

Anger at plans for nuclear power station to replace wind farm

There is a chance that one of the oldest wind farms in Britain will be replaced by a nuclear power station. The wind farm is also known as one of the most efficient of the whole country. It is situated at Kirksanton in Cumbria. The proposals, proposed by the German-owned power group RWE, were made public and the government approved the plans for potential atomic newbuild. This infuriated the wind power industry.

RWE confirmed that they plan to build a new nuclear plant over there and that this could lead to the destruction of the wind farm, but this isn’t certain. There will be an overlap, but it could be that only a few wind turbines must be replaced.

I think that the government have to try to find another place for the nuclear plant. I’m sure that there are still plenty of places in Britain where a nuclear plant can work. A place where there isn’t already a production of green energy would be much better. I’m not sure if nuclear plants are a solution to stop the pollution of our world. Nuclear plants bring also waste. You can say that this waste is very little compared to the production of energy, but the waste is very dangerous for thousands of years and can be a big danger for living beings. So I still prefer wind farms, because I don’t consider nuclear plants as totally green.

Robby Lampens

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/apr/28/haverigg-turbines-nuclear-power-plant

Energy security fears a contract boost for UK Coal

According to the UK’s largest coal producer, increased fears over energy security has rallied demand for coal.

UK Coal has signed and extended new long-term contracts with the big four in electricity generation.

The shares in the group reached a two-month high closing up 8.8 percent at 115p.

For 2008, the company posted a pre-tax loss of £15.6 million, compared to £69 million profit the previous year, as the current economic climate has hampered the coal price.

The new contracts which have been signed amount to 36 million tonnes and have been signed at far higher prices due to the energy price fear, meaning that they are ahead of the current external marker as energy companies want the security of local coal and, in return, are willing to pay a premium for it.

The company expects the cash flow benefits from the contracts to be £85 million in 2009, with a further £15 million next year, as it plans to step up production, hoping to produce 8.3 million tonnes this year, compared to 7.9 million tonnes in 2008.

I think it's normal that there is fear in this periode of economic crisis. That is why energy companies want to be sure that they will have enough coal to produce their energy. So according to me it is normal that they are willing to pay a prenium for the coal.

It's logical when companies want to pay more for the coal, that UK coal will have a contract boost, which means that UK coal will also have better econmic figures.

Source: http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/businessnews/Energy-security-fears-a-contract.5211995.jp

Dominique Van Huffel

zondag 26 april 2009

US power company to tap solar energy in space

San Francisco-based Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) is planning to buy solar power beamed to earth from space, local newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Solaren plans to generate the power using solar panels in earth orbit, and then convert it to radio frequency energy for transmission to a receiving station in California's Fresno County. From there, the energy will be converted to electricity and fed into PG&E's power grid.

Under the purchase agreement, Solaren will deliver 200 megawatts of clean, renewable power starting from 2016. One megawatt of electricity generally is enough to power 750 to 1,000 homes.

According to Gary Spirnak, Solaren's CEO, a group of about 10 former satellite and aerospace engineers, was confident in the technology and timing behind the venture.
He also said that the science behind the orbiting solar farms was little different to that of communications satellites.

Spirnak said he was seeking in the low billions of dollars in investment. So he will face a difficult task raising funds for his project though, especially in this time of global economic recession.

It concerns here about a lot of money. So I think they have to be quite sure that they will produce the amount of green energy that they have put forward in the future. In order to have the investment back after a period of time.

An other aspect of this is to make sure we don’t bring more energy to the planet than it would naturally absorb. Otherwise, we end up with the same global warming problem we have with fossil fuels. And I don’t think that this is the intention!

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/apr/16/solar-energy-farms-space

Dominique Van Huffel

Winds of change blow for offshore power operators

Atmos Consulting did some research about the wind speed in the south of the UK. It is a fact that wind speeds around the coast of East Anglia and Essex have been rising, an unexpected fact of climate change. The consulting agency even said that wind farms over there can generate 50% more electricity than a decade ago due to the wind speed changes.

This is a great opportunity to build new, bigger and profitable wind farms in these areas. There are more than 10GW of offshore wind farms being planned. There are people doubting about wind farms, because of the huge costs. They will have to reconsider their opinion now, because more wind will lead to more money (bigger production of electricity).

There might be a chance that this news rescues the £3bn London Array wind-farm project. This project is in the outer Thames Estuary in the United Kingdom. Of 1 GW capacity, it is expected to become the world's largest offshore wind farm. The project was doomed to be cancelled, but the government will reconsider now.

I think this is a great chance to produce more green energy. The British people have to try to take the benefit of it, as much as they can. They will have to think good about the places of the many wind farms of course, because you can’t just start these projects everywhere you want. It is the first time that I found something positive because of the climate change. This change gives a big advantage and will lead to a greener production of electricity in the United Kingdom.

Robby Lampens

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/apr/26/offshore-wind-power

zaterdag 25 april 2009

Switch to renewable energy could save £13bn a year

A study has revealed that Britain could save £12.6bn a year in importing fossil fuels by 2020 if it joins on a new program of energy efficiency and renewable technologies such as wind power and biomass.

An international Energy Agency has calculated that with the reduce of North Sea oil and gas supplies, the UK will need to import 80% of its gas needs by 2020.

When looking to other countries, Britain lies far behind when it comes to deployment of renewable energy. Britain needs to get 15% of its total energy needs from sustainable sources by 2020. The experts say that this target will be very hard to meet, almost impossible.
The head of the REA stated that the British government is too busy with the cost of the investments of renewable energy. He said that this rapport shows huge and increasing savings for the UK economy, because there is e decrease of imports.

The Guardian revealed yesterday that the chancellor will announce an extra £500m of "green" spending in tomorrow's budget, of which £40m will be used to top up the Low Carbon Buildings Program, a grant system for renewables.
But the REA and opposition politicians say the extra money is too little to kick-start the sort of low-carbon revolution that Lord Stern urged countries to adopt to pull themselves out of the economic slump.

According to me this is a very important issue. I think the British government is afraid to invest in renewable energy because of the high costs. However they should realise that investing in renewable energy is very interesting. They won’t have to spend so much money anymore on imports of fossil fuels, and so they can save a lot of money. I think the return on investment is very important in this situation.

I also find it a little bit dangerous. If the UK has to import 80% of its gas that is needed, they depend on other countries. If for instance there is a war with a country that provides the fuels to the UK, what will they do then? That means that there is only 20% available for the people of the UK, and this is a risky situation.

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/apr/21/renewable-energy-savings

Kevin De Pauw

vrijdag 24 april 2009

US offshore energy plan unveiled

On Earth Day, President of the US, Barack Obama announced a plan to allow offshore electricity which is generated from wind, waves and ocean currents.

According to Obama this move will help to reduce the emission of carbon. It will certainly help the combat against global warming too. Another pro is the creation of jobs. Wind could generate as much as 20% of the US electricity demand by 2030. Coastal US States, such as New Jersey and Delaware have already developed plans to build these offshore renewable energy projects.

It’s just a matter of a win-win-situation. It’s not about making a choice between saving our environment and saving our economy, but it’s a choice between prosperity and decline. Obama is really insisting on the fact that his plan for offshore energy will not damage the economy! To approve his meaning: the investment in offshore energy will create 250,000 jobs. In that way, he is tackling the subject of unemployment as well.

Combating climate change is one of the priorities of the administration top. They have also pledged to pass legislation for establishing a "cap and trade" system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Although members of Congress from both parties are likely to block the changes, or water them down.

It’s a good initiative of the US president. I’m quite sure that these measures will not only help us to provide damaging our environment but that investing in new projects for a better environment will also help to stimulate our economies in past-crisis times. All these new projects are certainly leading to a raise of demand for employees. Nevertheless, the discussions about goodness and badness of new projects will never disappear. People have to be convinced about the good of something new before they can believe in it!

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8013494.stm

Posted by Joachim De Zutter

zondag 5 april 2009

Solar loans light up rural India

The UN Environment Programme is leading a big project in India. The main goal of the project is to help families to get a loan for buying home solar power systems. The UN supports Indian bankers who offer cheap loans to the Indian people to purchase a system unit.

The rural Indian people are used to light their homes with kerosene lamps, which are expensive and polluting. These lamps can be a danger for the health of the people in their poorly ventilated houses and produce more than 205 kg of carbon dioxide a year by one family. The UN thought that solar energy could be a solution. There was one disadvantage, the cost. An average solar power system (able of powering two to four small appliances or lights) costs about $300-$500 and that’s too expensive for the most families over there. For this the UN started the project, the Indian Loan Programme helps banks to offer lower interest rates and longer payback periods to the people who want to invest in a solar power system. According to the UN, the project is a success. More than 100,000 people in rural India have benefited from an innovative loan scheme.

I support this project of the UN. The main goal of the project is to make life better for the people, so I think that everybody would support it. It is true that the use of solar energy will be healthier than kerosene lamps and will make energy bills cheaper. Another small advantage is that it will reduce the pollution. There will be more than 100,000 people less who use kerosene lamps. The reduction of pollution will not be that much, but I think that every little thing can help to solve the pollution problem and to stop global warming.

Robby Lampens

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/6600213.stm

Plans for energy park submitted

Plans for a £20m renewable energy plant that could provide electricity to 10,800 homes have been submitted to Selby District Council.

Whites Renewable Energy has put forward the proposition to turn the site of an old Tate and Lyle citric acid factory into a renewable energy park.

The new plant would create 120 new jobs.

The plant would use anaerobic digestion technology, which breaks down leftover food into compost and biogas, which can be burned to produce heat and electricity.

Spokesman David Balderson said that Anaerobic digestion is one of the best solutions for disposing of organic waste.

He also said that the site at Selby is ideal as it is well connected to the local motorway network via Selby bypass, it already has an anaerobic digester and a connection to the National Grid.

And according to him, this project will provide a significant boost to the local economy by creating jobs and will also make available a cheap non fossil fuel heat source that will attract businesses to the area.

According to me, one of the most important benefits of renewable energy is the fact that it’s non-polluting. Also the fact that they are going to produce renewable energy from waste is an advantage. Which means more energy and less waste.

It's a large investment, but I think it's worth it. Because the plant is going to produce renewable energy, so after a period of time, they will have the investment back.

The new plant will also create 120 new jobs, which is positive for the local economy.


Dominique Van Huffel

Renewable energy: E.ON looks at £300m investment to build Britain's largest biomass plant

E.ON, a big energy company in the energy sector, has said that it was considering a £300m investment in building one of the biggest biomass power plants in Britain.
The company said that it wants to build a 150 megawatt plant at the port of Bristol as a part big investment program in a range of generating technologies.

The CEO of E.ON stated that this project would be very good for the UK, according to the CEO the project will help the government to meet their renewable energy targets.
"Schemes such as this, together with cleaner coal, gas and new nuclear, will help us to keep the UK's lights on, while reducing carbon emissions and ensuring energy is as affordable as possible for our customers," he said.

E.ON's investment program in Britain exists of large gas-fired power station, a gas-fired plant, an offshore wind farm and plans for the Humber Gateway wind farm. It is also a partner in the London Array wind farm and has invested in marine energy projects.
The proposal to replace the coal-fired power station into a coal plant has attracted fierce controversy.
Environmental protesters have already held its week-long Climate Camp outside the existing Kingsnorth power station as part of the campaign of opposition against the new plant.

A representative of Greenpeace has said that if E.ON wants to have the image of one of the country’s leading green generators it should drop the plans for the new power station.

According to E.ON, the plant would be able to generate enough electricity to supply 250,000 homes. The carbon dioxide emissions will decrease by 500,000 tons a year
If the proposal will be approved anyway , E.ON is hoping to start work in 2010, with the first power produced in 2013 and the plant coming into full operation in 2014.

According to me this article has 2 points of view. First of all this new project of E.ON will provide plenty of new jobs, and will deliver green energy for 250,000 homes. The creation of the jobs is also good for the economy, especially in times of crisis. At the other hand the people of Greenpeace will have their reasons to be against the proposal.

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2008/aug/20/utilities.renewableenergy

Kevin De Pauw

zondag 29 maart 2009

Big Ben and Houses of Parliament to switch off the lights for Earth Hour

Saturday night, lights went out all over the world to mark “Earth Hour”. Earth Hour is a global event organized by WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature). People were asked to turn off their non-essential lights and other electric appliances for one hour. The intention of this event is to raise the awareness towards the need to take action on climate change.

Almost all the big cities around the world participated in this event. The Eiffel Tower, Shanghai’s Hong Kong New World Tower, the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro and Sydney’s Opera House are a few examples of monuments that took part in the action. The most striking monuments in central London switched off their lights too, namely the Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. It is clear that this action saved a lot of energy, but campaigners have not calculated the exact amount of energy that might be saved. Earth Hour is more symbolic than a direct action to save energy and to decrease carbon emissions.

I think this is a great event organized by the WWF. I would even say that they have to do it more often, like 4 times in a year. It’s great that there is saved a lot of energy and a decrease of the carbon emissions for one hour, but the main point is still to keep people aware of the problems in the environment and the climate change. People have to remind that the climate change is a very big danger in the near future. It’s great that governments all over the world participate in this event and give an example with the participation of the world famous monuments.

Robby Lampens

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/mar/27/earth-hour-climate-change-wwf

Obama pledges billions for renewable energy projects

Barack Obama declared that he is planning to spend billions of dollars on renewable energy projects over the next few weeks. The president said the $129bn allocated for encouraging the use of solar power, hybrid cars and renewable energy projects would not be subject to start a political war between the White House and Congress.

His pledge on clean energy came as the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) was telling the White House that global warming was endangering public health. It comes after years of resistance by George Bush. The move by the EPA could lead to nationwide measures to limit carbon emissions in the US.

Defending his plans to spend on renewable energy, Obama said that they can remain the world’s leader of exporting foreign oil or become the leading exporter of renewable energy. It’s very important for the coming generations he said too. Obama had a meeting with some clean energy entrepreneurs and he told them he hoped they could help the US out of recession by creating 300,000 jobs.

Republican and Democratic congressional members are growing increasingly sceptical about the scale of Obama's budget. He is also creating a fight to prevent the Congress to cut back the plans. The White House said his budget would provide $75bn over the next 10 years to make permanent existing tax cuts for clean energy. His $787bn economic stimulus package aimed to help the US out of recession, included $39bn for clean energy projects and $20bn in tax incentives. Jared Bernstein, a White House economics adviser, said Obama was prepared to negotiate details with clean energy entrepreneurs but not with Congress.

Obama is facing opposition to his budget from conservatively fiscal Democrats who are worried about the size of his spending plans. Also the Republicans opposed to plans to penalise high pollution companies.

For me it’s clear Obama wants to improve the living climate. Improving this climate means there are a lot of measures that has to be taken. Obama is willing to spend an enormous budget to execute his plans, and maybe it’s really necessary. As he said, it’s important for every one in the world that they are one of the biggest exporters of oil in the whole world. But if we proceed, just like we are living today, it will be necessary too that the US becomes the biggest exporter of clean energy all over the world. When they are able to reach this target, they will be able to help a lot of countries.

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/mar/23/barack-obama-environmental-spending-budget

Posted by Joachim De Zutter

'Spy plane' to find energy waste

A spy plane has been flying over Brit homes and businesses to know how much energy they waste.

A Council, in Norfolk, spended £30,000 to hire an aircraft for five days which is fitted with a thermal imaging camera. With these images the council knows the locations of the houses and businesses where the most heat is being lost.

With this project the council hoped to identify the firms who were losing the most heat and to advise these firms on the grants they could be receiving.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance said that people are sick and tired of being heckled and spied on by local government and they have slammed the latest spy scheme as just another example of the local authorities poking their noses into the lives of Brits. They also said that in a period of recession the council had better ways to spend the £30,000. In their eyes the project was just a waste of money.

According to me this spy plane is a good initiative took by the government. Because the plane helps to find houses and businesses were a lot of energy is waste by losing heat. If they know that they are losing heat, they can do something about it.

I can follow the opinion of the TaxPayers’ Alliance. It could be that the government is poking its noses into the lives of the Brits, but I think that this project can help the Brits to reduce their energy bill. If they know that they are losing energy, they can take measures to do something about it.

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/norfolk/7960201.stm

Dominique Van Huffel

vrijdag 27 maart 2009

Device Provides Household Energy Savings of 12%

There is a new device -called 100% Off- designed that disconnects electronic appliances in stand-by mode and which reduces their power consumption to zero. This device works with all the existing appliances and can easily be adapted to other appliances that will be designed in the future. This interesting device is developed by a team of researchers from the UPC center for technological innovation.

A study has revealed that during the period of one year the relative cost of running an appliance is higher in standby mode than when it is switched on.

With this device the households will save 12% of energy. In Spain, an average household spends €367 per year on electricity. If the households in Spain eliminate the standby mode, this would result in a save of €44/year.
This device also protects against power surges and extends the useful life of the appliances. The households reach an energy efficiency by controlling the power consumption of individual appliances. It is a microprocessor that measures when an appliance is in standby mode, and it is automatically switched off.

The 100% Off device is a power strip for connecting multiple appliances, some of which can be switched off while others are left in stand-by mode. The device has a green button for switching appliances back on when required.
The system can be integrated into new household appliances, and in the future, 100% Off technology will be compatible with a range of devices, such as laser printers which need to switch between stand-by and off modes.

I think this device is very interesting. All the households are having appliances which are often on standby mode. With this development there could be a lot of energy and money saved. As there is said in this article, there is a lot of useless energy waste on appliances on standby mode.
When I take a look at my bedroom, I have 4 appliances that are daily on the standby mode, a television, a playstation 3, a clock radio and a hi-fi equipment. This device could be very useful in my room!

Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090318090348.htm

Made by Kevin De Pauw

zondag 22 maart 2009

Gales set wind power record for Spain

Wind Turbines in the north west of Spain set a new record for power generation where gales blew across the country, with more than 40% of the country's energy needs being generated by wind turbines. The new record stands at a peak of 11,180 megawatts of electricity supply.

Wind power has so far covered 11.5% of demand this year, 30% more than last year. Renewable energies provided 31% of total electricity supply in Spain in February, partly thanks to generous rains that boosted hydroelectric production.

The World Wildlife Fund praised Spain’s rapid move into renewable energies. Spain has also earned praises from WWF for its overall effort in developing renewable energy during the past 12 years. By the next year Spain aims to meet 30% of its annual electricity demand from renewable sources.Spain has now a 38% reduction in CO² emissions compared with 2008.

I think this is incredible news. Because that's a lot of energy that's produced. But I think It doesn’t have to be 40% all the time to be a huge victory for the viability of wind power. When there is wind, there is energy! This is why I am a great fan of these wind turbines.

So I think that these wind farms are very positive for Spain because they produce a lot of energy and this i why I think that many other countries should follow Spain to build these wind farms.

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/mar/06/spain-wind-power

Dominique Van Huffel