Mixed Greens: Wave of interest for ocean energy

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DoE report notes oceans could provide one third of US energy; Spain and the UK wrestle with solar tariffs.

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Perth-based Carnegie Wave Energy says a US Department of Energy estimate puts the potential for wave energy at up to 30 per cent of the nation’s power needs. The report from the DoE put the total available wave energy resource at 2,640 TWh/yr, of which around 1,170 TWh/yr would be recoverable. This was just less than one third of the about 4,000 TWh of electricity that the US consumes each year.

Carnegie said the DoE estimated that hydropower – via dams and run of river installations – currently contributes around 6 per cent of US consumption, but this could rise to 15 per cent by 2030 with the additional of wave, tidal and other hydro power technologies. “This represents a clear market opportunity,” it says.

Canada has a separate estimate of 1,610 TWh/yr – the equivalent of 183,500MW of installed capacity. Carnegie is awaiting news of a grant application to install a wave energy farm at its Ucluelet wave energy project in British Columbia. A decision is expected by the end of March. Meanwhile, European energy supply giant Alstom and the UK’s SSE Renewables, have agreed to form a joint venture to develop a 200MW wave energy installation off the coast of Orkney in Scotland.

Spain ends tariffs for new plants

Spain has halted subsidies for new large scale renewable energy projects as it acts to bring in its huge budget deficit. The move still end subsidies for new new wind, solar, co-generation and waste incineration plants, and comes as the government tries to reduce the cost of subsidies to both renewables and to the nation’s coal mines. A new package of measures in expected within the next few weeks.

According to Bloomberg, the Renewable Energy Producers Association estimates there are 110,000 jobs in the industry in Spain, and the country’s early move into renewables enabled Iberdrola to become the world’s biggest producer of clean power, and other companies to establish strong positions.

The suspension won’t affect operating plants or projects that have already been approved for subsidies by the government, he said. “It’s a real positive for the developers, the owners of assets, because it removes the risk of retroactive cuts,” Sean McLoughlin, a renewable energy analyst at HSBC, told Bloomberg. “The government could certainly have done that again when you think of how much it’s costing them but have decided not to. This suggests that the government is listening to the industry.”

Division in UK solar

Meanwhile, the solar industry in the UK has apparently split over the government’s push to wind down the level of feed-in-tariffs. Business Green reports that one key solar company, Solarcentury, has left the British Photovoltaic Association over the issue. SolarCentury had been fighting the government’s decision to lower tariffs, and last week won a key court ruling branding the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s consultation on FiTs as unlawful. The BPVA had supported the government in the court case.

Energy Minister Chris Huhne said the BPVA backed DECC’s argument that deep cuts to tariffs were urgently needed to protect the feed-in tariff scheme from exceeding its budget, according to BusinessGreen. “If we were to continue over-subsidising at the rate we that had before, then we would be able to install fewer than half of the installations we can afford to subsidise today under the new rate,” he said. However, Solarcentury, CEO

Derry Newman said the BVPA was a victim of “a classic divide-and-rule” tactic by government. “We cannot understand how a trade body claiming to represent the best interests of the UK PV industry could have arrived at such a position, nor why the BPVA is supporting the right of the department to make retrospective changes to the feed-in tariff at any time, thus jeopardising all future investor interest in PV and other FIT technologies,” he said in a statement.

 

 

Giles Parkinson is founder and editor of RenewEconomy.com.au, and is also the founder of OneStepOffTheGrid.com.au and founder/editor of www.TheDriven.io. Giles has been a journalist for 35 years and is a former business and deputy editor of the Australian Financial Review.

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