Archive for ‘Electricity’

05/06/2017

Why China’s wasting huge amounts of cleanly-produced electricity and how to fix it | South China Morning Post

China’s scramble to curb pollution has made it the world leader in renewable energy development, yet increasing amounts of that green electricity have gone unused as the country struggles to integrate wind and solar power into an outdated electricity network dominated by coal.

The problem threatens to slow China’s progress in clearing its air and controlling the greenhouse gas emissions that make it the top contributor to climate change. It also runs counter to a desire by Chinese leaders to fill the leadership gap left by President Donald Trump’s move to withdraw the US from the Paris climate accord.

As international energy ministers gather in Beijing this week to promote renewables, China’s difficulty in maximising its green resources underscores uncertainty over how best to transition to cleaner electricity.

“They installed too much too fast,” said Qiao Liming, China director for the Global Wind Energy Council. “A real market should allow electricity to flow between two provinces. That is currently lacking” in China, she said.China wasted enough renewable energy to power Beijing for an entire year, says Greenpeace

Thousands of new wind turbines and solar panels were installed in China’s remote provinces over the past several years as the country’s leaders sought to alleviate choking urban smog without slowing economic expansion. China now has more renewable power capacity than any other nation.Two nagging problems have dampened that success, however, according to industry representatives and outside observers: China’s sprawling power grid has been unable to handle the influx of new electricity from wind and solar, while some provincial officials have retained a preference for coal.In western China’s Gansu province, 43 per cent of energy from wind went unused in 2016, a phenomenon known in the energy industry as “curtailment”. In the neighbouring Xinjiang region, the curtailment figure was 38 per cent and in northeast China’s Jilin province it was 30 per cent. The nationwide figure, 17 per cent, was described by Qiao’s organisation as shockingly high after increasing for several years in a row.

The problem has shown some signs of improvement this year, according to the China Electricity Council. Power demand in general increased in the first quarter, giving a boost to renewables after the economy regained momentum from 2016’s slowdown.However, experts say wasted energy will continue to be a drag on Chinese renewable power potential until the country’s electrical grid is modernised and provincial officials end their preference for coal, which provides almost two-thirds of the country’s energy.

The problem is worst in winter when many coal plants provide electricity for the power grid and send out excess heat to keep homes and businesses warm.

That’s led provincial officials to keep coal plants running and to reject available wind-generated electricity despite pressure from the central government to use more renewables, said Lu Xi, a professor at Tsinghua University’s School of Environment in Beijing.

“On paper they express quite clear attitudes to promote renewables, but in reality they promote coal interests,” said Frank Yu, a renewables specialist with the consulting firm Wood Mackenzie.

To help address the issue, China’s National Energy Administration has pushed for more wind turbines to be installed closer to Beijing and coastal cities where demand is highest. That should allow renewable energy to bypass part of the dated transmission system that has been blamed for impeding its use. It also would give more populated provinces a greater stake in making sure renewables get used.China has leadership role in fight against climate change

In a separate effort, at this week’s energy ministers meeting in Beijing, Chinese officials are expected to launch a campaign to make its power supply system more flexible. The goal is to create a power grid that can more easily absorb the highs and lows associated with weather dependent wind and solar electricity, said Christian Zinglersen, the head of the Clean Energy Ministerial, which is hosting the meeting.

Still, the problem of electricity going unused could get worse before it gets better, said Zhang Liutong, a senior manager with the Lantau Group, a Hong Kong-based energy consulting firm. More solar and wind is planned in Chinese provinces that already have more power-generating capacity than they use. Additional coal plants also are slated to come online, Zhang said.

China’s difficulties, while more pronounced than in other countries, are not unique. Western countries have experienced their own renewable struggles as utilities tried to integrate weather dependent wind and solar power into electricity grids built around coal plants, which are more polluting but also more reliable.

But over the next two decades, events in developing nations including China and India are expected to play a magnified role in addressing climate change. The United States, meanwhile, appears headed for a diminished presence as Trump and fellow Republicans back away from the climate policies of former President Barack Obama.

Almost all of the increased electricity demand during that period is expected to come from developing nations, according to projections from the International Energy Administration.

China alone will account for about half the total.

China’s struggles to maximise its use of renewables will not necessarily prevent it from meeting international emissions targets that aim to keep global warming below two degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels. But it will make it much more expensive unless China is able to adapt its power supply system while it is still in development, Zinglersen said.

“This is a case of political leadership catching up with the reality on the ground,” he said. “The more flexible a system you can have the more renewables you can allow for.”

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Source: Why China’s wasting huge amounts of cleanly-produced electricity and how to fix it | South China Morning Post

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02/06/2017

China flips the switch on world’s biggest floating solar farm | South China Morning Post

The world’s biggest floating solar power plant is up and running in China, as the country increasingly looks to renewable sources for its energy.

It comes at a time when Beijing is expected to take a bigger role in global efforts to tackle climate change, after the United States pulled out of the landmark 195-nation Paris deal.

The new solar farm in the city of Huainan, in the central, coal-rich Anhui province, can generate 40 megawatts of electricity – enough to power 15,000 homes. That’s according to Sungrow Power Supply, the Chinese firm that built the plant. It was connected to the city’s power grid in May.

The solar farm occupies an area that for years saw intensive coal mining. Subsidence and heavy rain created the lake where the solar panels have been installed.

Those panels float on the surface of the water, which ranges in depth from four to 10 metres.While Sungrow did not disclose the exact size of the plant, its capacity is double that of the solar farm previously considered the world’s biggest. That plant is also located in Huainan and was built by Xinyi Solar in 2016.

With US out of Paris climate deal, China’s now able to lead … but is it willing?Earlier in 2016, a floating solar farm began operating on the outskirts of London with capacity to generate just over 6 megawatts of electricity – it was considered the biggest at the time, according to a report in The Guardian.

Floating solar farms take advantage of areas that would otherwise go unused and the water helps to cool the surface of the panels, reducing the risk of overheating.

China is now the largest solar energy producer in the world – its capacity reached 77.42 gigawatts at the end of last year, according to the National Energy Administration. Renewables make up 11 per cent of the country’s energy use, but that number could go up to 20 per cent by 2030.

Earlier this year, the world’s biggest solar farm was unveiled in a remote part of the Tibetan plateau, in western Qinghai province. The sprawling Longyangxia Dam Solar Park covers some 27 square kilometres – almost the size of Macau. It can generate enough power to supply 200,000 homes.

Other large-scale solar projects in the country include the installation of 300 panels above a fish farm in Zhejiang province and a 6-million panel solar farm in the Ningxia autonomous region, which will be the biggest when it is completed.

Chinese companies are also involved in solar projects in other countries. State-owned National Complete Engineering Corporation is working with GCL System Integration Technology to build a 1-gigawatt solar plant in the exclusion zone around the Chernobyl reactor – the site of the worse nuclear accident in history.

China’s embrace of renewable energy presents a stark contrast to the climate policies of the United States, which has announced it will exit the landmark Paris climate agreement. US President Donald Trump has slammed his predecessor Barack Obama for “wasting” taxpayer money on solar companies, called wind farms both “disgusting looking” and “bad for people’s health”, and proposed an administrative budget that would slash renewable energy spending by 70 per cent.

Source: China flips the switch on world’s biggest floating solar farm | South China Morning Post

02/11/2016

India to launch clean energy equity fund of up to $2 billion – sources | Reuters

The Indian government and three state-run firms will jointly set up an equity fund of up to $2 billion for renewable energy companies to tap into to help New Delhi meet its clean energy goals, two government sources told Reuters on Wednesday.

Private and public companies will be able to dip into an initial amount of more than $1 billion starting next fiscal year, said the sources with direct knowledge of the decision taken after a meeting of government officials more than a month ago. India’s government hopes the Clean Energy Equity Fund (CEEF) will attract pension and insurance funds from Canada and Europe.

Around $600 million of the initial pool will come from the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund, under the finance ministry, and the rest from state entities NTPC Ltd, Rural Electrification Corp and the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency, according to one of the sources.

The sources declined to be named as they are not authorised to talk to the media. Officials at the finance ministry, new and renewable energy ministry, NTPC, Rural Electrification, and Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set a target of raising India’s renewable energy target to 175 gigawatts by 2022, more than five times current usage, as part of the fight against climate change by the world’s third-biggest greenhouse gas emitter and to supply power to all of the country’s 1.3 billion people.

The program will depend on getting as much as $175 billion in funding with 70 percent of that likely in bank loans and the rest as equity, the sources said.

The government reckons loans are not a problem but providing equity to investors may be difficult due to uncertainties over returns, one of the sources said.

“As we expand our clean energy capacity, there may be a shortage of equity next year,” said the source. “Private equity is seen as risky in India but if the government itself creates a fund, that gives a lot of confidence.”

India’s clean energy push was set back earlier this year when U.S. solar company SunEdison filed for bankruptcy. The company is now looking to secure partners to see through its planned India projects.

Nevertheless, companies are still keen to invest in clean energy.

Japan’s Softbank Corp, Taiwan’s Foxconn and India’s Bharti Enterprises have pledged to invest about $20 billion in India’s renewable sector. Global solar giants like First Solar Inc, Trina Solar Ltd and Fortum are also expanding their presence.

Source: India to launch clean energy equity fund of up to $2 billion – sources | Reuters

30/06/2016

India to get over $1 billion from World Bank for Modi’s solar goals | Reuters

The World Bank said on Thursday it would lend India more than $1 billion for its huge solar energy programme, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought climate change funds from its visiting head.

Modi is banking on India’s 300 days a year of sunshine to generate power and help fight climate change rather than committing to emission cuts like China.

The World Bank loan is the global lender’s biggest solar aid for any country and comes as India has set a goal of raising its solar capacity nearly 30 times to 100 gigawatts by 2020 and is attracting mega investment proposals from top companies and institutions.

“Prime Minister Modi’s personal commitment toward renewable energy, particularly solar, is the driving force behind these investments,” World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said in a statement released after he met Modi. “The World Bank Group will do all it can to help India meet its ambitious targets, especially around scaling up solar energy.

“India is the largest client of the World Bank, which lent it around $4.8 billion between 2015 and 2016.

Modi’s office said he told Kim about the need for climate change financing for countries like India that are “consciously choosing to follow an environmentally sustainable path”.

India wants the share of non-fossil fuel in total installed power capacity to jump to 40 percent by 2030 from 30 percent currently, but there are challenges including weak finances of state distribution companies forced to sell subsidised power, difficulties hooking up solar projects to grids, and access to affordable capital.

Still India reckons its renewable energy industry could generate business opportunities worth $160 billion this decade, making it a lucrative market that has already attracted big global players such as Japan’s Softbank Corp, Taiwan’s Foxconn, First Solar, Trina Solar Ltd and Finland’s state-controlled utility Fortum Oyj.

German development bank KFW has already agreed to offer India low-interest loans of around 1 billion euro over the next five years to fund roof-mounted solar panels, and the construction of solar energy farms and self-contained solar power facilities not connected to the grid.

Source: India to get over $1 billion from World Bank for Modi’s solar goals | Reuters

25/05/2016

China to replace direct coal combustion with electricity in new plan | Reuters

China will reduce the amount of coal burned directly in industrial furnaces and residential heating systems in order to tackle a major source of smog, the country’s energy regulator said on Wednesday.

The National Energy Administration (NEA) said in a joint announcement with other government bodies that around 700 million to 800 million tonnes of coal is burned directly in China every year, much of it in the countryside, where access to electricity is limited.

Directly burned coal amounts to about 20 percent of China’s total coal consumption volume, much higher than the 5 percent rate in Europe and the United States.

China will aim to replace direct burning with electricity, including renewable power as well as ultra-low emission coal-fired generators, the NEA said.

China currently relies on coal for around 64 percent of its total primary energy needs and for three-quarters of its total power generation. Emissions from the direct combustion of coal are around five times higher than those from coal-fired power plants, which are subject to strict anti-pollution regulations.

During the 2016-2020 period, China plans to raise electricity’s share of the country’s overall energy mix to 27 percent, up about 1.5 percentage points from now and raising total power consumption by around 450 billion kilowatt-hours a year, the NEA said.

Experts have estimated that China will need an additional 600 GW of coal-fired power capacity over the 2015-2030 period in order to replace direct coal combustion.

Source: China to replace direct coal combustion with electricity in new plan | Reuters

05/02/2016

Adani Power to sign deal to build $2 bln plant in Jharkhand – sources | Reuters

India’s Adani Power Ltd (ADAN.NS) will soon sign a deal to set up a $2.2 billion coal-based power plant in Jharkhand, two people with knowledge of the matter said, as its controlling shareholder aims to nearly double capacity this decade.

A technician repairs power supply lines at a power plant of Adani Power at Mundra Port in Gujarat April 2, 2014. REUTERS/Amit Dave/Files

The company’s shares, which were trading flat, rose as much as 4.4 percent to 26.35 rupees after the Reuters story.

The utility, controlled by billionaire Gautam Adani, plans to build two power units with a total capacity of 1,600 megawatts (MW) and construction could begin by December, one of the people said, adding there is a meeting scheduled in Jharkhand next week and a deal would be sealed this month.

The other person, a Jharkhand government official, said most government approvals were in place already.

An Adani Power spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The electricity generated from the Jharkhand units would be sold to power-deficient Bangladesh, where Gautam Adani is trying to expand as part of his goal to make the group a multinational energy and infrastructure conglomerate.

Flagship Adani Enterprises Ltd (ADEL.NS), which is fighting legal challenges to start a $7 billion coal mine near the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, wants to take its electricity generation capacity in India to 20,000 MW this decade through Adani Power. ($1 = 67.6300 Indian rupees)

Source: Adani Power to sign deal to build $2 bln plant in Jharkhand – sources | Reuters

03/02/2016

China’s new wind power capacity hits record high – Xinhua | English.news.cn

China‘s newly installed wind power capacity reached a record high in 2015 amid increasing efforts from the government to boost clean energy.

The new wind power capacity jumped to 32.97 gigawatts last year, more than 60 percent higher than 2014, the National Energy Administration (NEA) said on Tuesday.

Wind power generated 186.3 terawatt hour of electricity in 2015, or 3.3 percent of the country’s total electric energy production, data showed.  (Editor’s note: worldwide average is 4% – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_power)

Promoting non-fossil energy including wind power, China is in the middle of an energy revolution to power its economy in a cleaner and sustainable manner. The government aims to lift the proportion of non-fossil fuels in energy consumption to 20 percent by 2030 from present around 11 percent.

China’s energy mix is currently dominated by coal.

However, the NEA warned of the suspension of wind farms in Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang and Jilin. The phenomenon occurs in the early stage of wind power capacity construction due to the mismatching of new installation and local power grid.

Source: China’s new wind power capacity hits record high – Xinhua | English.news.cn

21/10/2015

Powering Down: Chinese Electricity Demand Stalls Amid Slowing Growth – China Real Time Report – WSJ

A slowing economy means keeping the lights on in China is getting a whole lot easier.

The China Electricity Council, a state-backed industry group, is trimming its estimate of just how much power the country needs, after weak third-quarter economic data on Monday reinforced fears about a slowdown of China’s economy. The official Xinhua News Agency on Tuesday quoted Ouyang Changyu, deputy secretary general of the China Electricity Council, as saying the group had revised down its full-year electricity-demand estimate to 1% growth this year, from 2% previously. As recently as 2011, electricity demand had grown by 12% annually.

The revised estimate reflects both a slowdown in China’s overall growth rate—which is struggling to hit the government’s target of about 7% this year—as well as important changes in the type of growth China is experiencing. The government wants to make the country less reliant on the energy-intensive sectors that propelled growth for four decades and instead shift toward cleaner and higher-paying industries and companies, ranging from financial services to web-based startups. In the first nine months of 2015, electricity demand has grown by .8%, down from 3.9% growth in the same period last year.

Electricity demand that is falling far faster than the government’s GDP data is among the reasons economists and investors are skeptical over the accuracy of official growth figures. The government said Monday GDP rose 6.9% in the first quarter. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said in 2007 – back when he was a more junior official — that he relied on electricity data among other hard figures to get a truer picture of the country’s economic health.

Beyond electricity, other reasons for skepticism over the data include the decline of both imports and exports during the third quarter, weaker-than-expected industrial production and decelerating fixed-asset investment.

The ramifications of China’s slowing demand for electricity are global, and could contribute to weaker bottom lines at big companies such as coal and natural gas producers. Hong Kong-listed coal giant China Shenhua Energy Co. said its coal sales had plummeted by nearly one-fifth this year. The company is exporting far more coal this year than it’s importing — a sharp turnabout from 2014, when it imported four times as much coal as it exported.

The decline in electricity demand growth could also further weigh on natural gas—a cleaner alternative to coal in electricity production—which has suffered from stagnant demand this year.

Source: Powering Down: Chinese Electricity Demand Stalls Amid Slowing Growth – China Real Time Report – WSJ

26/05/2015

Coal-fired plants in Beijing on way out with new ban|Society|chinadaily.com.cn

Beijing will ban new coal-fired thermal power plants after the four existing ones are expected to be replaced by gas-fired plants by 2017, according to the municipal economic planner.

The replacement is being made in an attempt to reduce coal consumption to achieve better air quality.

“The closure of the coal-fired power plants will greatly improve air quality, considering that 22 percent of air pollutants are from coal consumption,” said Zhang Wangcai, deputy director of the Beijing Development and Reform Commission’s Energy Bureau.

Two gas-fired thermal power plants have been operating since October and have reduced coal consumption by 3.95 metric tons annually, he said.

Beijing has also restricted coal consumption by companies and households for heating in the past two years by supplying them with gas or other cleaner fuels instead.

“By the end of this year, we will reduce coal consumption by 8 million tons,” Zhang said, adding that a reduction of 7.1 million tons has already been achieved.

Li Xiang, deputy head of atmospheric environment management at the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau, said the reduction of coal consumption at the two power plants has been a major reason for the better air quality in the capital in the first four months of this year.

She said people in the capital have seen a distinct improvement in air quality in the first four months, during which there were 57 days when the quality was better than the national standard – eight days more than during the same period last year.

The concentration of PM2.5 – air particles of 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter that can penetrate the lungs and harm health – has been lowered by 19 percent and the number of days with serious pollution reduced by 42 percent year-on-year.

On Thursday, authorities launched efforts to reduce air pollution in support of the bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Zhang said the government will make further efforts to reduce emissions of air pollutants, including restricting coal consumption as planned, which will further improve air quality.

In addition to the two thermal power plants already operating, another will start working in July and a fourth will be ready to operate in November next year, he said.

By 2017, Beijing will have all its power generated by clean-energy gas, and coal consumption will be cut by 9.2 million tons annually – the equivalent amount used for the four coal-burning thermal power plants.

Gas consumption will increase to 24 billion cubic meters in 2017, of which 98 percent will be supplied through a variety of channels including foreign countries, Zhang said, adding that Beijing consumed 11.3 billion cubic meters of gas last year.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection released the list of air quality in April in the 74 major cities on Monday.

In April, seven of the 10 cities with the worst air pollution were in Hebei province, but the region of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei province has witnessed a clear improvement in air quality, said Luo Yi, head of the ministry’s Environmental Supervision Bureau.

The PM2.5 concentration in the region has been reduced on average by 18.3 percent year-on-year and was 16.3 percent lower in April than in March, he said.

via Coal-fired plants in Beijing on way out with new ban|Society|chinadaily.com.cn.

18/04/2015

Apple Grows its Own Solar Farms in China – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Call it savvy public relations or plain good investing, but Apple is becoming a solar-power developer in China.

News Thursday that the Cupertino, Calif.-based company is partnering with SunPower., a major U.S. solar-panel maker, to build two solar power plants in China’s southwestern Sichuan province, highlights Apple’s attempts to offset its growing carbon footprint in China, where it is expanding at a rapid pace.

Although financial terms weren’t disclosed, SunPower said Thursday that Apple will co-own the projects, which have the combined capacity of 40 megawatts.

Apple has previously said it wants to be carbon neutral everywhere it operates, but that admirable goal is considerably absent in China, where the bulk of its products are made. Until now, unhappiness over air pollution mainly has been directed at the Chinese government, but Apple — already under fire over labor and customer-support issues –could become a major target. Initiatives like these could go a long way toward making sure its image in China remains favorable.

Apple tends to be financially involved in clean-energy projects only when they provide electricity for its operations. Apple and SunPower, for example, have partnered together in the U.S. to develop six solar power plants, all of which provide at least some power to Apple’s facilities.

In this case, however, Apple’s solar plants are being built in Sichuan’s remote Aba Tibetan and Qiang autonomous prefectures, far from Apple’s corporate offices, retail stores or manufacturing partners. The region is known for its rolling grasslands, where herders take yaks and sheep to graze, and where multi-colored Tibetan prayer flags are strung up along the slopes of hills.

In an interview on Thursday with China’s official Xinhua news agency, Apple’s vice president of environmental initiatives, Lisa Jackson, said the solar plants will be located in grasslands primarily used for raising yaks. Ms. Jackson, who was previously head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said Apple will take care to minimize the impact of construction on the environment. An Apple spokeswoman said Friday in an email that Apple and its local partners won’t use cement to install solar panels or dig trenches for wires during construction.

Apple has been expanding quickly in China as it attempts to go after the country’s burgeoning middle class. The company currently has 21 retail stores in mainland China and hopes to double that number by the end of next year. Although Apple’s latest efforts to produce clean energy in China might be a drop in the bucket when compared with amount of fossil fuels consumed by its manufacturing partners, Ms. Jackson told Xinhua that the company hopes to lead by example for its more than 330 suppliers.

Apple’s latest projects join a wave of new solar farms under construction in western China. Solar-panel makers, Chinese policy banks and other clean-energy developers are all piling into the business after China revived its solar industry amid the country’s ambitious targets to add as much as 18 gigawatts of solar-power capacity by the end of this year.

via Apple Grows its Own Solar Farms in China – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

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