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15 June 2013

Press review 15-06-2013

I have been quite busy lately and travelling a lot, time has been scant for in depth analysis of the press. In order to avoid another week in blank here is a quick round up of relevant news in the energy world.

Desertec made quite a splash a couple of weeks ago with the recognition that transmission lines from the Magreb to Europe are not going to happen easily, if ever. On the one side this is a result of the negligent foreign policy towards our closest neighbours; on the other hand this is a natural outcome of the internal renewable energy expansion in Europe. The project may continue, but now focused on local markets. The press has made no reference to the wind component of the project; the Atlas being one of the strongest wind resources in the world it is likely that it will too go forward, rest to know when.

Desertec abandons Sahara solar power export dream

The Desertec Industrial Initiative (Dii) has abandoned its strategy to export solar power generated from the Sahara to Europe, killing hopes of boosting the continent’s share of renewable electricity with cheap external supplies.

In a telephone interview with EurActiv, Dii CEO Paul van Son admitted that the project’s initial export-focus represented “one-dimensional thinking”.

Although the industrial alliance was set up to develop renewable energy supplies in the Maghreb to feed up to 20% of European electricity demand by 2050, Dii now concedes that Europe can provide for most of its needs indigenously.

“If we talk about renewable energy from North Africa, only a small fraction will ultimately supply the European market,” said van Son, adding that the European market could supply up to 90% of its own power demand.
This week the famous import tariff on Chinese made solar technology was enforced, the latest attempt by the Commission and member state governments to thwart the growth of this energy source. More details emerged, it is particularly interesting the favouring of companies that lift prices voluntarily, forcing an extra monetary flow from small European investors to Chinese magnates.
Solar Power In Europe: EU Imposes Anti-Dumping Tariffs On Chinese Imports
Richard Ceeney and Christopher Parrott, 14-06-2013

[...] The tariff The new duties will apply on the import of solar panels, cells and wafers from China. The new duties are effective from tomorrow (6 June 2013). The European Commission (EC) has said, in its press release, that it does not want this duty to "disrupt" the EU solar market, and is therefore using a "phased approach" to the imposition of duties. The duty will be set at a flat rate of 11.8% until 6 August 2013. From that date, variable duties will be imposed at an average rate of 47.6%; the actual duties may range from 37.2% to 67.9%, the rate apparently depending upon the extent to which the relevant manufacturer/importer has "co-operated", with higher tariffs being levied upon those Chinese companies which have not co-operated. Co-operation in this context is likely to mean a commitment to respect "minimum import prices".

The variable duties will apply until 5 December 2013, at which point the EC will need to make a decision as to whether to impose duties (and at what level) on a more permanent basis, for the following five year period.
In other places of the world solar power is a welcomed energy source, as is the case of the US.
U.S. solar installations jump in first quarter
Alex Guillen, 12-06-2013

The U.S. solar industry continued its healthy growth in the first quarter, according to a new industry report out Tuesday.

The U.S. added 723 megawatts of solar power from January through March, up 33 percent from the same period in 2012, according to the report from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association.

That figure accounts for nearly half of all the new electric capacity installed in the first quarter.
And also in Turkey, where PV is now competing for land with mono-cultures. Note that contrary to what is written in the article, solar panels produce MWh, not MW. In all likelihood the numbers quoted herein refer to installed capacity and not to yearly energy yields.
World Bulletin
Solar panels increase in popularity among Anatolian farmers

Struggling farmers located in the Central Anatolian provinces of Konya and Karaman have switched from agricultural to solar energy production, a report from the Sabah daily said on Thursday.

According to the report, farmers who were not able to make sufficient profits through wheat production have instead installed solar panels in their fields for the production of solar energy, increasing their incomes by a reported 77 percent. The calculations in Sabah's report show that a farmer who produces 12,000 kilograms of wheat in one year on about 6 acres of land can make a profit of only TL 4,320; however, in the same time frame on the same amount of land, a solar energy producer could make TL 334,000 with the production of one megawatt (MW) of energy.

Experts quoted in Sabah's report say that solar power production is becoming widespread in the provinces of Konya, Kahramanmaraş and Karaman as well as the Harran region, and noted that investments in renewable solar energy will increase in the coming years as Turkey is very suited for producing it and has the potential to produce 380 billion MW annually.
The Commission has been venting tame warnings on the shale gas rust in Europe that concur to I have been highlighting in this blog. This won't prevent bad investments and clashes with local populations, but might prevent a financial débâcle.
EU official: shale gas el dorado out of Europe's reach

A senior European Commission official has poured cold water on claims that a shale gas boom in Europe would result in de-facto low gas prices.

Speaking the day before the European Commission unveiled the preliminary results of a public consultation on the issue, Robin Miege, director of strategy at the European Commission’s DG Environment, said that while shale gas was a "game-changer" in the United States, bringing energy prices to their lowest level in a decade, conditions in Europe were rather different and would not necessarily be replicated.

With Europe's energy prices over twice the US levels, unconventional fossil fuels are climbing higher up the European policy agenda. The results of the public consultation, which were presented by the Commission's environment directorate on 7 June, showed that over half of the respondents were favourable to the development of shale gas in Europe.
Finally an important note on the UK's wind park. For years the data made publicly available by the British authorities have been used for erroneously claims that wind power has a low load factors. It has been so because the grid operator has been able to switch windmills off at its convenience. The legal and technical roots of this issue seem now overtaken, one of the key elements that kept the British grid afloat during this year's prolonged winter.
Wind Power Monthly
UK wind curtailments fall dramatically
Katie Daubney, 12-06-2013

UK network operator National Grid spent 77% less in 2012-13 less than the previous year on wind constraints: £7 million (EUR 8.2 million) was paid out, which accounted for 4% of total constraints, compared with £31 million — 9.5% of total constraints across all forms of electricity generation — in 2011-2012.

The amount of wind constrained dropped from 206GWh to 67GWh. That is about 0.5% of all electricity generated by onshore wind over the year.

There is less need to constrain wind thanks to reinforcements made to the transmission network, a spokeswoman for National Grid said.
See you next time.

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