Cheap wind energy re-writes market rules in Brazil
Wind energy has become so competitive in the Brazilian electricity market that the government has had to change the rules of its capacity auctioning system, and exclude wind energy from some bids, to ensure that some gas-fired generation is built. Bloomberg reports that wind farm developers have won 55 per cent of contracts auctioned by the national energy agency, Empresa de Pesquisa Energetica, since 2011, with the cost of wind falling to less than $45/MWh, down 41 per cent from 2009.
At this price, coal fired, gas fired and biomass generation is priced out of the market, so to ensure that at least some new gas-fired capacity is built, the agency is introducing separate categories – allowing fossil fuel and biomass plants to bid against each other, while wind projects compete in a separate auction. “Wind energy is the most competitive, so if they mix together all the technologies they won’t be able to contract the amount of thermoelectric they want because thermoelectric plants are much more expensive,”said Elbia Melo, president of the local wind energy association told Bloomberg. The decision means that the cap on bidding prices will need to be raised to cater for more expensive fossil fuel generation.
Australian greenhouse gas emissions fall slightly in 2012
The Australian government has announced that greenhouse gas emissions fell 0.2 per cent in 2012, mostly due to lower greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity generation sector, despite growth in real GDP of 3.4 per cent over the same period. Annual emissions for this period were 551.9 million tonnes (excluding land use emissions), down from 553.2 million tonnes in 2011.
Climate Change Minister Greg Combet said emissions decreased one per cent in the six months to December 2012 – the period since the introduction of the carbon price – for the major sectors covered by the scheme – electricity, other stationary energy, fugitives, industrial process emissions and waste.
He said carbon pollution from the electricity generation sector accounts for 36 per cent of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions. For the first two quarters of 2012-13, national emissions from this sector were around 14 million tonnes lower, on an annualised basis, compared with emissions for the same period in the previous year. He said the combination of the carbon price, Renewable Energy Target and energy efficiency policies have made an important contribution to turning around the growth of electricity sector emissions since Labor was elected in November 2007.
Solar power provides 10% of electricity for Bavaria
Recharge News reports that the German state of Bavaria – the biggest in area and second most populous with 12 million people – last year sourced 10 per cent of its electricity from solar energy. Bavaria had 9.6GW in installed solar capacity by the end of last year, according to Germany’s solar industry federation, BSW Solar, and all renewables combined accounted for 34 per cent of the state’s output in 2012, with a high share for hydro-power – but little wind.
SolarCity says battery storage viable in 10 years
SolarCity, a Californian solar leasing company led by billionaire clean tech developer Elon Musk, expects home battery storage to become commercially “viable” in the US within the next 10 years. The company will install 100 energy storage systems for customers this year, using 8kW battery packs provided by Tesla Motors, the electric vehicle company owned by Musk.
“(Battery storage) will be a viable product in the next ten years,” SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive (and Musk’s cousin) told Bloomberg in an interview. “We don’t know yet how big the next phase is going to be, but this is a long term investment, full stop. We will solve the storage issue.”