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Gas makes a (small) comeback in Germany

11 Feb 2016   by   Comments (0)

Natural gas is considered a better complement to wind and solar power than coal or nuclear both in terms of the flexibility of gas turbines and carbon emissions. But gas prices in Germany have remained high in recent years, and the carbon price has been too low to incentivize a switch from coal to gas. Now, there are signs that gas turbines are once again profitable. Craig Morris reports.

HKW_Nossener_Brucke,_Dresden,_Germany

The low gas price is making natural gas profitable even at a very low number of operating hours. (Photo by Marek Ślusarczyk, modified, CC BY 3.0)

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Lignite in the Greek energy system: facts and challenges

09 Feb 2016   by editor   Comments (0)

The Greek energy system is still relaying to a large extent on lignite power plants. Apart from the known negative impacts on public health, an increasing number of proposed projects will have a negative return on investment. Tasos Krommydas reports.

Lignite_power_plant

Lignite power plants are expensive to operate and to construct, as well as hazardous to health. Despite that, new lignite power plants are being constructed in Greece. (Photo by Tilemahos Efthimiadis, modified, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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Wind and solar power boom worldwide

04 Feb 2016   by   Comments (0)

Global installation figures are rolling in for wind and PV, and they look fantastic. The future is also bright: the forecast is for further growth. Single countries used to dominate these markets, but increasingly everyone is building. In fact, developing countries now invest more in renewables than the developed world does. Craig Morris takes a look.

Renewables_Thailand

With their large capacity added, the big countries get all the attention. But there is a renewable energy movement everywhere. (Photo by Asian Development Bank, modified, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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2015 was second biggest year ever for wind installations in Germany

02 Feb 2016   by   Comments (0)

We recently wrote about record wind power production in 2015, which was partly due to windy conditions. But a lot of new capacity was also added. Unfortunately, the rush reflects the storm before the calm; the onshore sector in particular fears the switch to auctions. Craig Morris explains.

Turbine-construction

Germany now has around 41.7 gigawatts of wind power installed, equivalent to more than half of peak power demand. (Photo by Jumanji Solar, modified, CC BY 2.0)

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German government is happy with PV auctions

28 Jan 2016   by   Comments (2)

Two weeks ago, the German Energy Ministry published its official review of the first three rounds of pilot auctions for ground-mounted PV. It is already clear that the policy will be expanded – the shortcomings of the auctions are not even mentioned. Craig Morris investigates.

The renewables sector, which community projects have dominated up to now, is currently being handed back to conventional energy companies. (Photo by Jan Boedecker, modified, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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Is renewable electricity now driving coal prices?

26 Jan 2016   by   Comments (4)

It’s official: more money was invested in renewables and more generation capacity added in 2015 than ever before. Conventional wisdom has always been that low fossil fuel prices would make renewables uncompetitive even as the cost of renewable energy continues to drop. In that view, fossil fuel prices drive investments in renewables. It’s not happening, however, so maybe it’s time to consider the reverse paradigm: renewables driving fossil fuel prices. Craig Morris investigates.

Coal prices are at rock bottom, and coal companies have been hurt badly. (Photo by Marcel Oosterwijk, modified, CC BY-SA 2.0)

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Energy boost for Russia and its neighbours

25 Jan 2016   by editor   Comments (1)

Renewable energy could supply Russia and Central Asian countries with all the electricity they need by 2030 − while cutting costs significantly. Paul Brown and Komila Nabiyeva investigate.

solarfield

The Kosh-Agachsky solar power plant in southern Russia, near the Kazakhstan border. (Photo by Darya Ashanina, modified, CC BY-SA 4.0)

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Proposal for a German coal phase-out

21 Jan 2016   by   Comments (1)

A proposal by energy think tank Agora Energiewende for phasing out coal in Germany by 2040 aims for a grand political compromise. It is well-considered in terms of policy, yet a viable coal consensus will nevertheless require continued pressure from the bottom up, finds Stefanie Groll.

640px-Braunkohlekraftwerk

According to Agora Energie’s proposed plan, the use of coal to generate power will be over by 2040. (Photo by Harald Hillemanns, modified, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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How Germany helped bring down the cost of PV

20 Jan 2016   by   Comments (1)

A new study published by the Öko-Institut investigates Germany’s historical expenses for renewable electricity – and solar power in particular. In passing, the study highlights Germany’s contribution to the current low price of solar power worldwide. Craig Morris looks into the matter.

Solarfeld_Erlasee,_1

“The Germans were not really buying power — they were buying a price decline,” Hal Harvey, a US clean energy expert. (Photo by Rainer Lippert)

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2015: Germany’s record wind year

18 Jan 2016   by   Comments (2)

Last year, wind power production in Germany increased by around 50 percent – and the country already had the third largest fleet of wind turbines worldwide. But the biggest improvement is in minimum power production. Your German word for the day is “Dunkelflaute.” Craig Morris reports.

Prinses_Amalia_windmolenpark_4

2015 was the first year of significant offshore wind power production in Germany. (Photo by Ad Meskens, modified, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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