Smaller enterprises want energy developers to spread the green, allowing them to get in on the renewable wave rolling through America. The dynamic has made it easier for larger corporations with more demand to buy wind and solar electricity but it has nudged out the less brawnier brands.
The guys at Google and Facebook, for example, are stimulating the need for wind and solar energy that they are using to feed their electricity-starved data centers. The developers of those energy projects, in return, are getting solid customers that are buying their output at a fixed price over a certain period of years.
But individual commercial and industrial customers aren’t generating the type of demand that can propel big energy projects into the market. Now, though, that may change. The same so-called power purchase agreements that are used to attract the likes of Microsoft, Intel and SAP can also be parceled out to smaller businesses, albeit in much smaller blocks of energy and for much shorter time frames.
“We connect the corporate community to power purchase agreements,” says Paul Schuster managing director for Altenex, a unit of Edison Energy, in an interview. “We have noticed those larger-to-mid-sized energy users need to achieve cost efficiencies, which can be done by buying smaller blocks of renewable electricity.”
A traditional power purchase agreement, for example, might require a company to buy 100 megawatts and it would last 20 years. But the contract now offered to the smaller players might be for 10 megawatts over 10 years.
So how does all this work? A wind developer can’t go forward until it knows that it can sell its output into the market at a fair price. Because there are tax breaks for both building the project and buying the output, developers have proved able to sell that product into wholesale markets.
Let’s say it is an insurance company or a bank that buys the bulk of the wholesale power before it would be resold into retail markets: They often line up the major corporate outlets or Internet giants and contract with them to sell the energy at fixed prices over a set number of years. What Altenex is doing is going to that insurer or banker — in this example — and offering to market smaller blocks of electricity to commercial and industrial businesses.
“The return on equity should be infinite,” says Schuster. “Customers, in fact, are not putting down any upfront capital. Hopefully, they are buying renewable energy at the same cost or lower cost than they are paying for fossil energy.”
Is the corporate green market on fertile ground? PriceWaterhouseCoopers says that it has grown over the last 24 months and that it will continue to expand. Seventy-two percent of the companies it surveyed said that they are pursuing renewables, noting that they want to be more sustainable and to use green energy to hedge against volatile energy prices.
Green electricity sales in the form of voluntary power purchase agreements grew by 4% in 2015, adds the National Energy Renewable Laboratory. Contracted green power sales from those deals grew by 13% in 2015, it notes, and now total 10.2 million megawatt hours.
The larger companies are the main drivers with the likes of General Motors, Hewlett Packard, Johnson & Johnson, Tata Motors and Walmart setting a goal to run their entire operations using green energy. That includes a number of different options — everything from investing directly into deals to buying their electricity through power purchase agreements.
BEIJING, July 3, 2016 (Xinhua) — A full solar power vehicle is presented during a ceremony held by Chinese renewable energy company Hanergy Holding Group in Beijing, capital of China, July 2, 2016. Hanergy launched four full solar power vehicles at the ceremony on Saturday. (Xinhua/Cai Yang) (wx)[/caption]
The International Energy Agency (IEA) on Wednesday launched its first detailed report of global energy investment, with China singled out for praise. In the first detailed analysis of investment across the global energy system, the IEA reported that global energy investment fell by 8 percent in 2015, with a drop in oil and gas upstream spending outweighing continued robust investment in renewable energies, electricity networks and energy efficiency.
Total investment in the energy sector reached 1.8 trillion U.S. dollars in 2015, down from 2 trillion U.S. dollars in 2014, according to the IEA’s World Energy Investment 2016 report. The new annual report provides a comprehensive and detailed picture of the current investment landscape across fuels, technologies and countries.
It shows that the energy system is undergoing a broad reorientation toward low-carbon energy and efficiency but investment in key clean energy technologies needs to be further ramped up to put the world economy on track for climate stabilisation.
Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA, told Xinhua in an interview: “China’s investment is mainly in the power sector, but China also becomes the largest investor for renewable energies across the world. As such it is a very complimentary number; it shows the Chinese commitment towards climate change and tackling air pollution.
“There is a political commitment and this is the answer in terms of putting the money in low carbon technologies. Renewable energy, energy efficiency but also it is nuclear power as well.”
With energy supply spending of 315 billion U.S. dollars, China was the world’s largest energy investor, thanks to robust efforts in building up low-carbon generation and electricity networks, as well as implementing energy efficiency policies.
Birol said: “China became last year the largest energy investor and this is mainly coming from the renewable energies followed by other sources. China is the largest investor of solar, largest investor in terms of wind technology and also a major investor in terms of hydro power. For renewable energies China is the champion energy investor.”
Investment in the US’s energy supply declined to about 280 billion U.S. dollars, falling nearly 75 billion U.S. dollars because of low oil prices and cost deflation, representing half of the total decline in global energy spending. The Middle East and Russia emerged as the most resilient regions to spending cuts, thanks respectively to lower production costs and currency movements. As a result, national oil companies accounted for 44 percent of overall upstream investments, an all-time high.
Renewable energy investments of 313 billion U.S. dollars accounted for nearly a fifth of total energy spending last year, establishing renewable energies as the largest source of power investment. While spending on renewable power capacity was flat between 2011 and 2015, electricity generation from the new capacity rose by one third, reflecting the steep cost declines in wind turbines and solar photo voltaic. The investment in renewable power capacity in 2015 generates more than enough to cover global electricity demand growth.
Birol said: “These changes have significance for energy security and climate change. Especially for low carbon technologies they show me that government policies can work to provide direction for investment in the markets but much more is needed to meet our climate goals. He added: “After 2015 and 2016 we may see three years in a row, oil investments are declining. We have never seen, in the history of oil, that the investments for oil have declined three years in a row. We expect there will be a decline in 2017.”
So when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing, solar and wind energy may be nonexistent, but renewable energy can still be economically produced from the smelliest of sources. The more the stink, the greater the energy–Biogas energy. Local farmers use the waste their animals produce and send it into a biogas facility on their farm that produces electricity. They can also add corn and the fermentation substrate is then sprayed on the fields as fertilizer. This closed-loop system provides steady and sustainable energy to supplement the energy needs of larger but less predictable outputs from solar and wind sources.
Next Power Plants co-Founder, Hendrik Samisch networks over 1,000 renewable energy plants comprised of individual farms in Germany through a data grid and a bank of computers that make up a powerful virtual power plant that trades annually over $100 million euros of electricity in biogas energy.
On March 9th 2015 the revolutionary airplane named “Solar Impulse 2” launched its first leg of its 35,000 mile trip around the world to help raise awareness of the Future is Clean Campaign. Starting off in Abu Dhabi the plane is set to stop in various global locations and is being tracked for audiences online. The Solar Impulse 2 (aka Si2)is a lot larger than its predecessor the Solar Impulse 1, which was the prototype that set several solar powered flight world records in 2013. This version of the aircraft is wider than a 747 Jumbo Jet with a wingspan of 72 metres (236.22 feet) and yet is still a light 2.3 tonnes. It’s light weight is key to the success of the plane that has 17000 solar panels built into its wings.
Solar energy is estimated to become the dominant energy source of the future, as predicted by the International Energy Agency. (IEA)
BioFuels like Ethanol have more than just an image problem (Growing food vs growing fuel). Now a new report from the World Resources Institute finds that dedicating land to the production of biofuels may undermine efforts to achieve a sustainable food future, combat climate change, and protect forests.
The problem, of course, is that if you dedicate land to growing crops like sugarcane, corn, soybeans, or wood solely for the production of biofuels, you can’t use that land to grow food–or as a carbon sink. We already use a whopping three-fourths of the world’s vegetated land for crops, livestock grazing, and wood harvests, according to the WRI paper. And the remaining land really should be left as is, since it protects clean water, supports biodiversity, and stores carbon.
Watch this video about new biofuels made from cellulose with the help of a bacteria under the development of AE Biofuels, which acquired Zemetis in 2011.