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European Commission teams up with businesses, environment groups and universities to promote low-carbon solutions

SETIS feed - Tue, 2012-10-09 15:49

"We have a choice: We can act on our knowledge about climate change. Or we can sit idly by and watch as things get worse. Both options come with a price tag. So why not create a world we like, with a climate we like - while we still have time? With this campaign we want to focus the debate on the solutions and find out what is holding us back from applying them," said Connie Hedegaard.

Centred on a website which will soon be available in all EU languages, the campaign is designed as a platform for participation where individuals, businesses and local groups will be able to upload, promote and discuss their low-carbon solutions and take part in a pan-European contest to find the best and most original one.

The campaign will run until the end of 2013 and aims to showcase existing cost-efficient solutions for achieving the EU's objective of an 80-95% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

It is a follow-up to the Commission's "Roadmap for moving to a competitive low-carbon economy in 2050" from March 2011, which sets out pathways for deep but cost-effective emission reductions by the main economic sectors. The Roadmap shows that building a low-carbon economy will increase investments in clean technologies and infrastructure such as smart electricity grids, and will drastically lower import bills for oil and gas.

For further information:

http://world-you-like.europa.eu

Categories: EC Energy News

European field trials for residential fuel cell micro-CHP kick off

SETIS feed - Mon, 2012-10-08 16:55

By learning the practicalities of installing and supporting a fleet of fuel cells with real customers and with the support of 24 utilities, housing providers and municipalities, ene.field is a flagship partnership towards commercialisation of micro FC-CHP installations.

The project will deploy approximately 1,000 residential installations in 12 EU Member States, establish the macro-economics and CO2 savings of the technologies in the European markets, and assess the socio-economic barriers to widespread deployment of micro FC-CHP.

For further information:

http://www.cogeneurope.eu

 

Categories: EC Energy News

Platts Biomass Power Generation Conference looks at the future of the “fourth energy source”

SETIS feed - Fri, 2012-10-05 13:55

Biomass is the fourth most abundant energy resource after coal, oil and gas and already contributes over two-thirds of all renewable energy produced in the EU-27, when recycling of energy from waste is included. And, for many of the representatives attending the Biomass Power Generation 2012 conference in London, its share is certain to grow.

“It’s going to be a booming market,” said Christian Rakos, President of the European Pellet Council. With District Heating and Cooling generated from biomass, he said, “any supermarket or hotel could be heated with biomass, with a payback time on the investment of just three years. That’s really economically attractive.”

For Hans Dieter Hermes, Director of biomass business development for leading European energy company, Vattenfall,  “biomass has to play a significant role in the energy mix in the future.” Biomass, he said, even when used to co-fire existing coal-fired power plants, “gives an immediate reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.” A 70-80 % reduction in CO2 emissions, even taking into account the transportation of feedstock, is achievable when biomass is used, compared to a conventional coal-fired plant, claimed Christian Rakos, adding that, in Austria reductions of 90 % were being achieved. Biomass also has an advantage over intermittent renewable energy sources, such as solar photovoltaic (PV) and both onshore and offshore wind energy, in that it can provide stable baseload power, explained Hans Dieter Hermes. And, he added, because of their geography and climate, some countries are unable to generate significant amounts of energy from PV and wind, but may have abundant local sources of biomass.

As the proportion of biomass in the energy mix increases, the need for a secure and sustainable source of high quality feedstock becomes increasingly critical, not least to placate fears of environmentally detrimental changes in land use or loss of biodiversity. Not surprisingly, several speakers addressed this issue. Thomas Dalsgaard, Executive Vice President of DONG Energy Thermal Power, which is 76% owned by the Danish state, explained that, as the use of biomass expands, it is becoming less feasible to source feedstock locally. “We aim to source our biomass nearby, “ he said, “for example in Poland and Baltic states. But our suppliers are on short 1- or 3-year contracts.” And, as demand increases, “rather than importing wood pellets from North America, we are looking at using residuals from agricultural production and household waste – straw, fibres and sludge.” DONG has invested in what he claimed is the “world’s largest demonstration bio-refinery plant,” in Denmark.

One of the key issues holding back the development of biomass for power, explained Hans Dieter Hermes, is the absence of harmonised criteria for sustainability within Europe. “Now that biomass is internationally traded on a large scale and is no longer just locally sourced,” he said, “we need general acceptance of the criteria for sustainability before we invest on a large scale.” This is why, he explained, Vattenfall has signed its own agreement with the State of Berlin (Germany) regarding sustainability, CO2 reduction guarantees and the protection of biodiversity.

Marie Donnelly, Director of New and Renewable Sources of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Innovation in the European Commission’s Energy Directorate explained that the EC was proceeding with caution regarding European legislation. “Most electricity producers want harmonised regulation and so do feedstock suppliers and Member States,” she said, “so we are giving it careful consideration. We will know by the end of this year if we are going to go through with legislation or not.” But she added, “we would want a light touch with any legislation. A lot of biomass is sourced and produced locally and so is not traded. Legislation would probably not be applied to small producers.”

Another issue that came up at the conference was storage of highly combustible and potentially explosive feedstock, particularly wood pellets. David Dyson, Engineering Manager of the Tilbury B Power Station on the River Thames outside London, described the successful conversion of a late 1960’s 750 MW coal-fired power station to run on 100 % biomass, using sustainably sourced renewable wood pellets. After a fire at the power station, which delivers 10 % of the UK’s total renewable energy output, it was decided not to store pellets on site. Rather, the feedstock is taken directly from ships moored at the station’s quay. “We need a ship on site all the time, because each one only provides six hours of fuel storage. It has not failed so far.” Dyson explained that half of the investment for the conversion of the plant went on health and safety issues.

Other papers presented in the afternoon of the first day looked at worst and best case scenarios for pricing and availability of biomass pellets, some of the risks associated with biomass projects and how to mitigate them, and local, regional and global challenges from the feedstock suppliers’ point of view. The conference rounded off on the second day with a look at the potential for biomass combined with carbon capture and storage (Bio-CCS), the role of seaports in delivering solid biomass in Europe, storage issues and the economics and logistics of moving large volumes of biomass, agricultural and waste products for use in biomass power and heat generation facilities.


For further information and to access the conference presentations:

http://www.platts.com/ConferenceDetail

Categories: EC Energy News

Interview: Marie Donnelly, Director of New and Renewable Sources of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Innovation

SETIS feed - Wed, 2012-10-03 14:15

You once said that “energy efficiency is like motherhood and apple pie” – everyone thinks it’s a good idea but no one agrees on what’s best. Do you have any further thoughts on that in terms of the new Energy Efficiency Directive?

First of all, we have a Directive and we are very pleased that we do. Having said that, we know that this Directive alone will not bring us to 20% [increase in efficiency by 2020]. But it’s going to put us in a new direction and, I believe, on the right path.

Another important aspect, over and above the details of the articles themselves, is that the Directive involves everybody as an actor. We have the public sector, which, apart from developing policy, now has to act in terms of buildings and their renovation. The Directive also brings in the utilities, who, up until now, could stand back and watch energy efficiency happening in industry and elsewhere.

But now the Directive imposes an annual 1.5% energy savings target on power companies; so they are part of the game as well. It involves industry, as they will now have to carry out energy audits, which raises awareness in this sector.

Once they’re aware, they will make the right, commercial decisions after that. And it involves the consumer, through metering and billing information, and demand response, which we’ve written into the Directive but nobody ever sees. That’s a radical change. The fact that we’ve brought in so many actors means we’re definitely in the right direction.


Some potential investors are put off by the long time it takes to get a return on their investment in energy efficiency. How can the EC further encourage them?

Energy efficiency measures will give you a return within anything from 10 minutes to 10-15 years. It depends on what you’re going to do. But it also depends on what perspective you’re taking on a return on investment. It also depends on what rate of return you’re looking for. I think it’s fair to say – and this will come as a surprise to no one – that we’re no longer in the days of the three-year return at 10% a year.

So let’s readjust our expectations and put that into the perspective of the kind of market and economy we’re likely to have over the next few years. By its nature, energy is a long-term investment, with a steady rate of return. It’s not designed to be high-tech, with a 50% increase of share price falling out of the sky overnight. It’s designed to be regular and routine. If you apply those criteria to the investment, I think it still makes sense.


Some members of the power industry think that, to encourage a greater shift towards low-carbon energies, we need less interference from national governments or the EU but simply for the carbon price to go up. Then the market would look after itself. Do you agree?

If life were so simple, I’m sure we’d have done it already! Part of the difficulty of the carbon price is that Europe, I believe, is committed to climate change action and I believe we are in a leadership position on that. But the rest of the world is not following us. And, in the current environment, it doesn’t do Europe any good to handicap itself with an extra charge that other parts of the world don’t have.

The Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) represents that kind of a challenge for us. I know it’s a market-based operation and I know it’s for climate change. But if it means an extra 3% or 5% charge on our industry in Europe and makes them less competitive as a consequence, we haven’t really done a service to “Europe Inc”. So getting a balance between climate change action and industrial competitiveness is the issue we are struggling with at the moment.


As high-emitting sources of greenhouses gases, such as coal-fired power plants, are phased out or converted, say, to biomass or co-firing, the relative carbon savings of other renewables are less obvious. How does that affect our long-term energy strategy?

I think we have to remind ourselves what our energy strategy for Europe is. What are the objectives? Yes, of course we have climate change as an objective, but we also – and on an equal footing – have security of supply and competitiveness.

Wind and solar support us in our security of supply and, ultimately, in our competitiveness. Both of these technologies have a relatively high investment cost, but relatively low operational costs. We expect to be able to reap the rewards of that even from 2013 on, if you look at our 2050 Roadmap.

So the philosophy of going down the road of renewables, whether for wind – both onshore and offshore – or PV makes sense for those reasons alone, but also because energy demand is likely to grow. We will need, in the interim period, all of the technologies that we have available to us at the moment. I don’t think we have the luxury of saying we don’t need this or that, or that we can drop this or drop that. Not yet.




Categories: EC Energy News

More clout for cloud computing

Science and technology - Thu, 2012-09-27 00:00

			Five electronic devices with blue screens linked by blue arrows to a single blue cloud © EU

27/09/2012 00:00:00

New strategy to create single set of rules for cloud computing and increase EU GDP by €160 billion annually by 2020. ...

Categories: EC Energy News

New in the SETIS toolkit: Smart Electricity Mapping tool

SETIS feed - Wed, 2012-09-26 12:28

The Smart Electricity Systems team (or Action, as it is officially named) is part of the Energy Security Unit at the JRC Institute for Energy and Transport, located both in Petten (NL) and Ispra (IT).

The team recently compiled a Smart Electricity Mapping tool, which brings together inputs and feedback from utilities, industry, research and academia.

The mapping exercise, which was carried out in 2011, is the first comprehensive inventory of Smart Grid projects in Europe.

Access the application either in the SETIS toolkit or by clicking HERE.

Categories: EC Energy News

JRC report: “Technology Learning Curves for Energy Policy Support”

SETIS feed - Fri, 2012-09-21 16:35

It aimed to assess the challenges in the application of the two-factor learning curve, or alternative solutions in supporting policy decision making in the framework of the European Strategic Energy Technology Plan, and explored options for improvement. The workshop gathered distinguished experts in the field of scientific research on learning curves and policy researchers from the European Commission and ECN to assess the challenges in the application of the two-factor-learning curve, or alternative solutions in supporting policy decision making, and to provide options for improvement.

The report forms the summary of outcomes from the workshop.



Categories: EC Energy News

Expert workshop on ‘Learning Curves for Policy Support’

SETIS feed - Fri, 2012-09-21 16:04

It aimed to assess the challenges in the application of the two-factor learning curve, or alternative solutions in supporting policy decision making in the framework of the European Strategic Energy Technology Plan, and explored options for improvement. The workshop gathered distinguished experts in the field of scientific research on learning curves and policy researchers from the European Commission and ECN to assess the challenges in the application of the two-factor-learning curve, or alternative solutions in supporting policy decision making, and to provide options for improvement.

The summary report of the workshop is available here.


Categories: EC Energy News

JRC report: “Technology Learning Curves for Energy Policy Support”

SETIS feed - Fri, 2012-09-21 15:55

It aimed to assess the challenges in the application of the two-factor learning curve, or alternative solutions in supporting policy decision making in the framework of the European Strategic Energy Technology Plan, and explored options for improvement. The workshop gathered distinguished experts in the field of scientific research on learning curves and policy researchers from the European Commission and ECN to assess the challenges in the application of the two-factor-learning curve, or alternative solutions in supporting policy decision making, and to provide options for improvement.

This report forms the summary of outcomes from the workshop. Due to the very different nature of the One-Factor-Learning concept and the Two-Factor-Learning concept, these are discussed in separate parts. In each of these parts the context and the methodology are introduced, methodological and data challenges are described and the problems associated with the application of the concept in models is discussed.

Categories: EC Energy News

JRC report: “Technology Learning Curves for Energy Policy Support”

SETIS feed - Fri, 2012-09-21 15:55

It aimed to assess the challenges in the application of the two-factor learning curve, or alternative solutions in supporting policy decision making in the framework of the European Strategic Energy Technology Plan, and explored options for improvement. The workshop gathered distinguished experts in the field of scientific research on learning curves and policy researchers from the European Commission and ECN to assess the challenges in the application of the two-factor-learning curve, or alternative solutions in supporting policy decision making, and to provide options for improvement.

This report forms the summary of outcomes from the workshop. Due to the very different nature of the One-Factor-Learning concept and the Two-Factor-Learning concept, these are discussed in separate parts. In each of these parts the context and the methodology are introduced, methodological and data challenges are described and the problems associated with the application of the concept in models is discussed.

Categories: EC Energy News

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