Renewable Energy Generates Jobs for Nearly 10 Million People

(www.ecowatch.com)

Renewable energy now employs nearly 10 million people worldwide, according to a new report.

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) said Wednesday in its 2017 annual review that the solar industry alone provides more than three million jobs worldwide, and projected that the renewable industry could employ 24 million people by 2030.

“Falling costs and enabling policies have steadily driven up investment and employment in renewable energy worldwide since IRENA’s first annual assessment in 2012, when just over seven million people were working in the sector,” IRENA director-general Adnan Z. Amin said in a statement. “In the last four years, for instance, the number of jobs in the solar and wind sectors combined has more than doubled.”

As reported by CNBC:

The report showed that solar photovoltaic was the biggest employer last year, accounting for 3.1 million jobs, up 12 percent compared to 2015. The wind sector represented 1.2 million jobs, while biofuels were responsible for 1.7 million jobs.

Amin went on to state that the potential for renewable jobs was significant.

“As the scales continue to tip in favor of renewables, we expect that the number of people working in the renewables sector could reach 24 million by 2030, more than offsetting fossil-fuel job losses and becoming a major economic driver around the world.”

COCA-COLA COMMITS TO RENEWABLE ENERGY IN UK OPERATIONS

(www.resource.co)

Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) has announced that it is pushing ahead with its sustainability drive in the UK, unveiling a new solar farm at its factory in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, and a commitment to sourcing 100 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources.

The solar farm, installed by Athos Solar, will power the manufacturer’s Wakefield factory and help Coca-Cola to reduce the factory’s operational carbon footprint. The drinks giant hopes that the move will provide a boost to the country’s renewables industry after the UK recently moved back into the top ten countries in Ernst and Young’s worldwide renewable energy country attractiveness index (RECAI).
Covering eight hectares of land owned by local farmer Stephen Butterfield 1.5 miles from the Wakefield site, the solar farm, which will be able to produce five megawatts of energy at full capacity, is connected to the factory by a series of underground cables, delivering 15 per cent of the site’s electricity and reducing its operational carbon footprint by 8.6 per cent.

Together with the emissions saved by a £1 million combined heat and power system installed on the same site in 2014, it is hoped that the 3,800 tonnes of CO2 will be saved per year.

Furthermore, CCEP has begun using 100 per cent renewable electricity, provided by EDF and complying with Ofgem’s Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (REGO) scheme and the emissions reporting guidelines laid out in the Global Greenhouse Protocol.

Commenting on the move last week (18 May), Nick Brown, Head of Sustainability at CCEP, said: “We are committed to minimising the impact of our operations, with a core goal to reduce the carbon footprint of the drink in the consumers’ hand by a third in time for 2020. By guaranteeing that 100 per cent of the electricity we use comes from renewable sources we’re taking a major step forward in achieving this.

“We’ve been collaborating with partners across Great Britain to build our renewable energy credentials and have enjoyed working together with a number of local groups and businesses in Wakefield to support this.”

To get its sustainability efforts right over the years, CCEP has been working with the Carbon Trust. John Newton, Associate Director at the Carbon Trust, added: “Working with CCEP over the past decade, the company has continuously made impressive reductions in its environmental impact, at the same time as taking a strong leadership position on sustainability issues. This new move to purchase renewable electricity is yet another positive step forwards from the company, demonstrating that the business case for going low carbon is no barrier to commercial success.”

Swiss Voters Embrace Shift to Renewable Energy

(www.climatecentral.org)

Swiss voters backed the government’s plan to provide billions of dollars in subsidies for renewable energy, ban new nuclear plants and help bail out struggling utilities in a binding referendum on Sunday.

Provisional final figures showed support at 58.2 percent under the Swiss system of direct democracy, which gives voters final say on major policy issues.

The Swiss initiative mirrors efforts elsewhere in Europe to reduce dependence on nuclear power, partly sparked by Japan’s Fukushima disaster in 2011. Germany aims to phase out nuclear power by 2022, while Austria banned it decades ago.

“The results shows the population wants a new energy policy and does not want any new nuclear plants,” Energy Minister Doris Leuthard said, adding the law would boost domestic renewable energy, cut fossil fuel use and reduce reliance on foreign supplies.

“The law leads our country into a modern energy future,” she told a news conference, adding some parts of the law would take effect in early 2018.

Debate on the “Energy Strategy 2050” law had focused on what customers and taxpayers will pay for the measures and whether a four-fold rise in solar and wind power by 2035, as envisaged in the law, can deliver reliable supplies.

Leuthard has said the package would cost the average family 40 francs more a year, based on a higher grid surcharge to fund renewable subsidies.

Critics said a family of four would pay 3,200 Swiss francs ($3,290) in extra annual costs, while more intermittent wind and solar energy would mean a greater reliance on imported electricity. Switzerland was a net power importer in 2016.

Green Future

Most parties and environmentalists hailed the result.

“The voting public has … paved the way for a future that builds on sustainability, renewable energies and energy efficiency. Today’s decision is good for the climate, the environment, our jobs, the Swiss economy and the whole population,” the Social Democrats said.

The electrical and mechanical engineering sector, which opposed the law, said it was important to see how it is implemented.

“The problem of long-term security of electricity supplies must be resolved. It is also important for companies that the costs and the regulatory burden not swell,” it said.

Under the law, 480 million francs will be raised annually from electricity users to fund investment in wind, solar and hydro power. An additional 450 million francs will be set aside from an existing fossil fuels tax to help cut energy use in buildings by 43 percent by 2035 compared with 2000 levels.

Solar and wind now account for less than 5 percent of Switzerland’s energy output, compared with 60 percent for hydro and 35 percent for nuclear. Under the new law, power from solar, wind, biomass and geothermal sources would rise to at least 11,400 gigawatt hours (GWh) by 2035 from 2,831 GWh now.

The law will ban building new nuclear plants. Switzerland has five plants, with the first slated to close in 2019. Voters have not set a firm deadline for the rest, allowing them to run as long as they meet safety standards.

The law also helps utilities that now rely on hydropower, and whose costs exceed Europe’s wholesale prices.

Alpiq, BKW, AXPO [AXPOH.UL] and other utilities would share a 120 million franc annual subsidy to help close the gap between production costs and market prices. Other funds would help build new dams or refurbish old ones.

More Corporations Are Turning to Utilities to Source Renewable Energy

(www.greentechmedia.com)

Utilities are breaking away from traditional electricity products to offer customers access to large-scale renewable energy. Until very recently, utilities did not differentiate the sort of power they offered customers. With very few exceptions, everyone shared in the cost and used electricity from the same fleet of power generating stations.

But over the past four years, even regulated U.S. utilities have begun to offer new, large-scale renewable energy options to customers. World Resources Institute (WRI) data shows that across 10 U.S. states, utilities now offer 13 green tariffs — programs that let customers purchase large-scale renewable energy over the grid.

We take a closer look at the trends and motivations that have made utilities important players in the rapid scale-up of renewable energy to serve corporate buyers in the U.S.

Why are utilities stepping up?

In markets where wind and solar power have become cost-competitive, utilities have more economic incentives to add renewable energy. Renewable resources offer a great low price for the next 20 years — without the risks of fossil-fuel price spikes.

Utility leaders overwhelmingly anticipate substantial solar and wind power growth in the next 10 years, according to Utility Dive’s 2017 survey of the sector. Among utility executives, 71 percent say utility-scale wind will increase moderately or significantly over the next 10 years, and 82 percent predict the same for utility-scale solar.

Recently, Pat Vincent-Collawn, CEO of PNM Resources, announced a plan to eliminate coal by 2031 and move toward renewables and natural gas, calling it “the best, most economical path to a strong energy future for New Mexico.” WEC Energy Group CEO Allen Leverett told shareholders in May 2017 that the company is exploring solar: “Probably the biggest change we’ve seen in last five years is solar and the cost of solar. The technology curve really has fallen fast in terms of improvement in cost.”

MidAmerican Energy, a Berkshire Hathaway Energy subsidiary, has talked about its extensive investments in wind in the same way — as an effective way to keep prices low for customers. The company also used its wind investments to serve the renewable energy requirements of major data centers, such as Facebook and Google, in their service territory.

How big is the demand for renewable energy on the grid?

Through RE100, 90 companies have committed to 100 percent renewable power. Clean energy and greenhouse-gas reduction targets are now the norm for Fortune 500 and Fortune 100 companies. The World Wildlife Fund and Ceres’ Power Forward 3.0 report shows that almost half of the Fortune 500 and a majority of the Fortune 100 now have climate and energy targets.

Companies with renewable energy commitments can only go so far with on-site solar and efficiency. To meet the most ambitious targets, like a 100 percent renewable energy goal, companies have to tap into the grid and are turning to their utility to provide solutions.

Big businesses have communicated their needs to U.S. utilities. Sixty-five companies have signed on to the Renewable Energy Buyers’ Principles, which tell utilities and other suppliers what industry-leading, multinational companies are looking for when buying renewable energy from the grid.

And utilities are listening. Utilities without green tariffs or state mandates are still considering new renewable energy options to attract businesses. Describing a new wind project, Appalachian Power’s new president Chris Beam told the Charleston Gazette-Mail, “At the end of the day, West Virginia may not require us to be clean, but our customers are. […] We have to be mindful of what our customers want.”

How are utilities stepping up?

To meet customer demand for renewable energy, traditional utilities have now created 13 green tariff options across 10 states. In the six months since the last update to WRI’s issue brief, “Emerging Green Tariffs in U.S. Regulated Electricity Markets,” utilities have added three more green tariff options — including the first offered by a public power company, Nebraska’s Omaha Public Power District (OPPD).

States with renewable energy options are more competitive when attracting high-growth corporate business. When Omaha Public Power District announced a new green tariff to supply a Facebook data center, Tim Burke, OPPD’s president and CEO, told the Omaha World-Herald, “We have several customers right now that are putting together potential expansion projects and will utilize that [new] rate to grow.”

What is the impact of green tariffs on the grid?

Who is using these tariffs? To date, customers have contracted for approximately 900 megawatts of new renewable energy under five of the tariffs. This is approximately enough electricity to power 160,000 average American homes a year. This spring, utilities and customers are negotiating hundreds more megawatts of additional purchases.

In April 2017 alone, major announcements from Puget Sound Energy and OPPD confirm that buyers are ready and willing to act in partnership with their utility.

How can customers keep up with these new options?

WRI’s interactive U.S. Renewable Energy Map: A Guide for Corporate Buyers shows all of the green tariffs that utilities offer across the nation. The map also details one-on-one special contracts that customers have signed with utilities. These special contracts show a utility is willing to explore options, even if they haven’t gone as far as creating a new tariff.

What’s next?

Today, green tariffs are a small part of the overall U.S. renewable energy market, reflecting their pilot status. But the programs create a runway for renewables at a time when demand is increasing, not just from businesses, but also cities, universities, hospitals and smaller companies.

Innovative partnerships will continue to emerge between utilities and their customers as both grapple with the rapidly changing electricity sector. Green tariffs are only three years old, but with increasing demand, interest in renewables by utilities and the continued fall in renewable energy prices, green tariffs look like they’re here to stay.

China Shows Why Renewable Energy Is The Future, Not Coal

(www.cleantechnica.com)

The problem with change is it takes so long to get here. China built its incredible industrial might by using thousands of cheap laborers to build cheap to fuel coal-powered generating plants. Then it reaped the whirlwind of air that was unsafe to breathe. Now it is focused on renewable energy.

Carbon Spewing Facilities Belching Crud

All those carbon spewing facilities belching crud into the skies over China led to smog in its cities so thick you could cut it with a knife. The incidence of asthma and other respiratory diseases skyrocketed. Having clean air for their children to breathe became the number one priority for people when choosing where to live.

China’s leaders looked around at the damage their industrial revolution had wrought and decided then and there to do something about. Long before COP 21 in Paris, China was racing full speed ahead into the renewable energy future, building solar power plants in the Gobi Desert and wind farms everywhere. And it started closing hundreds of those old, high-polluting power plants.

China’s Coal Plants Are Ultra-Supercritical

While China is a global leader in renewable energy, it still needs lots of electrical power to keep its economy humming. The build-out of its renewable energy resources will take decades to complete. In the meantime, the country is building a fleet of new state-of-the-art coal-fired generating plants that are significantly cleaner than the vast majority of coal plants in the US.

When it comes to generating electricity from steam, efficiency rises with temperature and pressure. There are basically three types of conventional power plants — subcritical, supercritical, and ultra-supercritical. A report by American Progress defines them as follows:

Subcritical: In these conventional power plants, coal is ignited to boil water, the water creates steam, and the steam rotates a turbine to generate electricity. The term “subcritical” indicates that internal steam pressure and temperature do not exceed the critical point of water — 705 degrees Fahrenheit and 3,208 pounds per square inch.
Supercritical: These plants use high-tech materials to achieve internal steam temperatures in the 1,000–1,050 degrees Fahrenheit range and internal pressure levels that are higher than the critical point of water, thus spinning the turbines much faster and generating more electricity with less coal.
Ultra-supercritical: These plants use additional technology innovations to bring temperatures to more than 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit and pressure levels to more than 5,000 pounds per square inch, thus further improving efficiency.
There is only one ultra-supercritical facility in the US. China has 90. Among the top 100 generating plants in the US, the oldest was brought online in 1967. Among the top 100 generating plants in China, the oldest was built in 2006.

Ultra-supercritical coal plants use less coal and create few emissions. Not zero emissions, to be sure, but still less than older subcritical and supercritical facilities. China’s new coal plants use 286 grams of coal to generate a kilowatt-hour of electricity. US plants burn 375 grams per kilowatt-hour, on average. China’s top 100 plants create about 20 million fewer metric tons of carbon emission than America’s top 100.

China will require all coal plants to be at or below 310 grams per kWh by 2020. Those that do not meet the standards will be closed. Of the top 100 plants in the US, none can meet that standard today. With the Trump-inspired war on regulations, it is unlikely any will do so in 2020 either.

Coal And Jobs

The Shanghai Waigaoqiao No. 3 power station has two 1,000 megawatt ultra-supercritical units. 250 employees operate both.

Not far away, the Waigaoqiao No. 1 plant has four 300 megawatt supercritical units operated by 600 employees. The older Shidongkou No. 1 power plant also has four 300 megawatt units. It needs 1,000 people to keep the electrons flowing.

Things don’t get any better for job growth down in the mines. New high tech mining techniques need fewer workers with picks and shovels. The Chinese government warns that it expects 1.3 million coal miners will lose their jobs by 2020. By contrast, it expects renewables to create ten times that many new jobs by the beginning of the next decade.

Why The Spike In New Coal Plants In China?

But didn’t China build a bunch of new coal fired plants recently? Yes, it did and the American Progress report deals with that issue. “What American observers need to know is that many of those new plants are white elephants that China cannot fully utilize. They represent a blip rather than a trend, and Beijing is already moving to shut down many of these new plants.”

American Progress Did Its Homework
Their researchers actually went to China last December to visit several coal-fired plants. They went down into the mines and talked to dozens of local, regional, and national officials.

Their conclusion is that many of the newer plants were commissioned by local officials who saw the winds of change coming and ordered the construction of new coal-fired plants before certain government incentives were withdrawn.

India Launches Massive Push for Clean Power, Lighting, and Cars

(www.news.nationalgeographic.com)

India is in the midst of the “largest energy transformation project in the world” organizers of the Vienna Energy Forum declared, while introducing the keynote speaker, India’s Energy Minister Piyush Goyal on May 11.

“Everything changed in 2015 with the Paris climate agreement. We must decouple economic growth from environmental impacts and leave a better world,” said Goyal, to loud applause from the 1650 energy experts and government officials in Vienna. “Every moment counts.”

“I’ve never heard such visionary and progressive remarks from a world-leading country,” the Prime Minister of Tuvalu, Enele Sopoaga, told me afterwards. The small Pacific island country is barely ten feet above sea level and rising water levels resulting from climate change have forced thousands to leave the country already.

“India sees the urgency of climate action,” said Sopoaga.

India is in a big hurry to green its energy system to create jobs, improve the quality of life for its citizens, clean the air and water and, yes, tackle climate change, its leaders say. Keep in mind this is a country with 1.3 billion people, nearly 300 million of whom do not have access to electricity and where the average income is $1,600 a year.

Now mainly powered by coal, India is adding 50 percent more solar and wind than the U.S. currently has installed. It is replacing 770 million street and household lights with energy-saving and long-lasting LEDs and bringing electric access for the first time to tens of thousands of poor rural villages. And India is already doing all of this faster than anyone believed possible.

“India is the poster boy for clean energy… showing this is not a burden, just the opposite,” said Vivien Foster, an energy economist at the World Bank. “It’s a great opportunity.”

A LIGHTING REVOLUTION
The LED lighting replacement for the entire country is hoped to be finished by 2019—just four years after the program was announced in 2015, shortly after Prime Minister Narendra Modi was elected. Prior to that India was committed to using coal to develop its economy, just as China had done 25 years ago. But now Modi is trying to hitch India’s future to 21st century technologies.

The energy savings from replacing 770 million household and street lights will cut India’s peak electricity demand by 20,000 megawatts (MW) and slash emissions of climate-heating CO2 by nearly 80 million tonnes annually. That’s almost as much as Chile’s CO2 emissions in 2015. This drastically reduces the need to build more energy plants and will save $7 billion a year.

And all of this has been accomplished without government funding.

India is a leader in a type of business called an Energy Service Company (ESCO), which makes money only on energy costs they manage to save their customers. Government power utilities set up an ESCO company called Energy Efficiency Services Limited, which has made nothing but profits since its inception. This company has worked with LED manufacturers to drive the costs of these lights down 85 percent in less than three years. Now India gets the world’s lowest price, Goyal said in an interview.

Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) has been so successful it just announced a three-year, $130 million investment in the United Kingdom, to tap into the estimated $8 to 10 billion energy efficiency market there. EESL aims to capture much of this by promoting and implementing low-carbon, energy efficiency, and renewable energy solutions along with LEDs.

There is nothing like a national LED conversion program in the U.S. However, many U.S. cities are converting streetlights to LEDs to save millions in energy costs—but it has been slow going. Chicago’s Smart Lighting Project to replace 270,000 light fixtures just launched in April and won’t be completed until 2021. In Washington, D.C., 71,000 streetlights may be replaced under the “Streetlight Modernization Project,” but it will only start in 2018.

SURGING SOLAR
India’s renewable energy sector is also growing at lightning speed. At the December 2015 Paris climate conference, Modi astonished many by announcing India would add 160 gigawatts (GW) of wind and solar by 2022 to the existing 26 GW. The U.S. currently has just over 100 GW in total. One GW can power 100 million LED lightbulbs used in homes.

“This is an ambitious goal,” says energy expert Niklas Höhne, a founder of NewClimate Institute, a European research center. “There is significant momentum and now two Indian states are considering 100 percent renewable energy, which is remarkable.”

“Green energy is no longer expensive or difficult to build and it is well-suited to our needs,” said Goyal. Given all the benefits, every country should be taking the same path, he said.

India’s solar and wind boom has pushed costs off a cliff, falling from 12 cents a kW/hr to just 4 cents a kW/hr for solar. This is cheaper than coal. As a result, Goyal hope that no new coal power will be needed after 2022. One analysis suggests some of India’s existing coal energy is more expensive to generate than building new solar. India may soon end all imports of thermal coal, Goyal believes.

This gains are especially impressive given India’s substantial economic and social challenges, says Höhne.

As for those 300 million with no access to electricity, that too is changing. The last household will be connected by 2019, Goyal believes, three years before India’s 2022 target.

“Prime Minister Modi grew up poor. He knows what it is like to not have electrical power. He is completely committed to making this happen,” Goyal said.

India’s energy revolution may soon transform the country but it is also creating “solutions that other countries across the world can replicate and use to support their own sustainable energy transition,” said Rachel Kyte, CEO for Sustainable Energy for All and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General.

DRIVING ELECTRIC
Electric cars are the next big thing India hopes to jump on. It commissioned a study on how the country’s entire fleet of vehicles could be 100 percent electric powered by 2030. This is not an official government target yet.

But by that date, Goyal believes electric cars will be the only vehicles sold because of low operating costs, little maintenance or repairs needed, along with a long life. The batteries will also work very well with solar and wind as energy storage devices. No subsidies will be needed, he said, since India already taxes gasoline at about the world average—50 percent higher than the U.S. does.

“We are doing all of this even if no one else is. We have a big role to play in the fight against climate change,” Goyal said.

5 Common Geothermal Energy Myths Debunked by U.S Department of Energy

(www.thinkgeoenergy.com)

Here are five common myths that are too often spread about geothermal energy and the truth behind these misconceptions from Erin Tulley at the U.S. Department of Energy.

Geothermal Energy is safe, reliable, and resides just beneath our feet. It can help meet U.S. energy demands by supplying power to our electric grid and can even be used to heat and cool homes and businesses.

So what are the facts about geothermal energy?

We’ve targeted five common misunderstandings and reveal the remarkable truths about this amazing natural resource.

Myth: We could run out of geothermal energy

Geothermal energy is a renewable energy and will never deplete. Abundant geothermal energy will be available for as long as the Earth exists.

Myth: Renewables cannot supply energy 24/7

Geothermal power plants produce electricity consistently, running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, regardless of weather conditions. The power output of a geothermal power plant is highly predictable and stable, thus facilitating energy planning with remarkable accuracy. Geothermal power plants are also an excellent means of meeting base load energy demand (i.e. the minimum level of demand on an electrical grid during a 24-hour period).

Myth: Geothermal power plants take up a lot of space

Geothermal energy has the smallest land footprint of any comparable energy source in the world. They are compact and use less land per gigawatt hours (404 m2) than coal (3642 m2), wind (1335 m2), or solar photovoltaics plants (3237 m2).

Myth: Generating electrical power from geothermal sources causes pollution

Electrical power does not, by its nature, create pollution. Modern closed-loop geothermal power plants used to generate electrical power do not emit greenhouse gases. Additionally, they consume less water on average than most conventional power generation technologies.

Myth: Geothermal energy is only accessible in certain parts of the United States

Geothermal heat pumps can be used just about anywhere in the United States because all areas have nearly constant shallow ground temperatures—although systems in different locations will have varying degrees of efficiency and cost savings.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Geothermal Technologies Office is working to support a range of innovative technologies designed to bring geothermal-powered electricity to regions across the nation. Most of these technologies are early- or mid-stage, but the prospects are exciting and the potential is vast – tens of millions of U.S. homes and businesses could be powered by geothermal resources in the future.

Geothermal resource find on South Island, New Zealand

(www.thinkgeoenergy.com)

The New Zealand Herald reported on May 18th that University of Otago researchers have made a surprise discovery of a tremendous geothermal resource that could transform the West Coast’s economy. A team of more than 100 scientists from 12 countries, led by Otago University, Victoria University and GNS Science, drilled nearly 900m (3000 ft) into the South Island’s Alpine Fault, with the aim of better understanding how earthquakes occur along geological faults zones.

What they found beneath the ground at the site in Whataroa, north of Franz Josef Glacier, surprised everyone. At 630m (2,050 ft) deep they discovered water hot enough to boil. Such temperatures would typically be found at depths greater than 3km (9,800 ft). Ironically, the finding actually interrupted the researchers’ original aims, as such temperatures were damaging to their scientific equipment. However, it opened up the exciting possibility there was a significant and sustainable energy resource beneath the ground that no one expected to find.

Development West Coast chief operating officer Warren Gilbertson was excited about the find. He stated, ”The discovery could transform the economy and resilience of Westland, and provide a significant and sustainable clean energy resource that could be developed using local people and equipment. The location of geothermal activity and its possible benefit and association to the dairy and tourism sectors provide real opportunities from an economic perspective.” The results of the project, published today in the prestigious international journal Nature, discuss the site’s geothermal gradient, a measure of how fast the temperature increases going deeper beneath the Earth’s surface.

Otago University’s Dr Virginia Toy, one of the lead researchers, said what they found was likely to be unique globally. ”I’m not aware of another fault in the world that has yielded such a high thermal gradient,” Dr Toy said.

The same tectonic forces pushing up the Southern Alps created the extreme temperatures. These forces pushed up hot rocks from 30km (19 miles) deep so quickly that they did not have a chance to cool properly. On top of that, the rain and snow falling on the Southern Alps was flowing deeper into the earth’s crust and then rising closer to the surface, in a siphon effect, bringing the heat with it. She was as surprised as the other scientists by what they had found. Before the drilling, which took place in 2014, she published research estimating temperatures could be as high as 40 C at 1 km (3,900 ft), when what they found was 120 C.

Lead scientist, Victoria University’s Professor Rupert Sutherland said the geothermal conditions discovered were comparable to those in major volcanic centres like Taupo but there were no volcanoes in Westland. Professor Sutherland stated that, ”The geothermal environment is created by a combination of tectonic movement and groundwater flow. Earthquakes fracture the rocks so extensively that water is able to infiltrate deep beneath the mountains and heat becomes concentrated in upwelling geothermal fluids beneath valleys. River gravels that are flushed by abundant West Coast rain and snow dilute this geothermal activity before it reaches the surface.” He emphasized how unexpected the finding was and added, ”Nobody on our team, or any of the scientists who reviewed our plans, predicted that it would be so hot down there. This geothermal activity may sound alarming but it is a wonderful scientific finding that could be commercially very significant for New Zealand.”

GE looks to develop renewable energy skills in Ethiopia

(www.cnbc.com)

General Electric (GE) and the Addis Ababa Institute of Technology (AAiT) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to “frame an ongoing collaboration” with the aim of “enabling capacity development programs focused on renewable energy.”

In a news release on Monday, GE added that the ultimate goal was to develop a renewables “center of excellence” at the AAiT. The center would, among other things, act as both a learning hub for undergraduates and a research incubator for graduates.

GE said that it had been working with the AAiT since the end of last year to develop and implement programs focused on skills development. In March this year, engineers from GE Renewable Energy Hydro gave seminars to AAiT students and staff on hydro turbines and generators.

According to the International Hydropower Association (IHA) the untapped potential of hydropower in Ethiopia “amounts to around 45,000 MW (megawatts).” In addition, the IHA says that hydro is responsible for more than 80 percent of electricity produced in the country.

“The MoU with AAiT is a new milestone for GE Renewable Energy in Ethiopia,” GE Renewable Energy’s Yves Rannou said during the MoU’s signing ceremony.

“It enables sharing current industry expertise and experience with students and faculty at AAiT in order to build a highly-qualified workforce that will support the social and economic development of the country,” Rannou added.

LEGO Group Reaches 100% Renewable Energy Target Three Years Ahead Of Schedule

(www.cleantechnica.com)

One of the world’s most beloved toymakers, the LEGO Group, announced Wednesday that it had reached its 100258 megawatt Burbo Bank Extension Offshore Wind Farm.

The Burbo Bank Extension Offshore Wind Farm officially opened on Wednesday, the result of several years worth of work between joint venture partners DONG Energy, PKA, and KIRKBI A/S, parent company of the LEGO Group. As such, the LEGO Group also announced on Wednesday that it had therefore reached its 100 renewable energy goal, after only four years and DKK 6 billion worth of investment into two offshore wind farms.

All totaled, the LEGO Group has supported the development of more than 160 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy. KIRKBI A/S, on behalf of the LEGO Group, now owns 31.51 offshore wind farm in Germany, and 25 of the Burbo Bank Extension Offshore Wind Farm. Further, 20,000 solar panels are set to be installed on the roof of the LEGO factory in Jiaxing, China, and will produce almost 6 gigawatts (GW) of electricity per year.

“We work to leave a positive impact on the planet and I am truly excited about the inauguration of the Burbo Bank Extension wind farm,” said Bali Padda, CEO of the LEGO Group. “This development means we have now reached the 100% renewable energy milestone three years ahead of target. Together with our partners, we intend to continue investing in renewable energy to help create a better future for the builders of tomorrow.”

To celebrate the achievement and in an effort to further raise awareness of the importance of renewable energy, the LEGO Group also built what is the world’s largest LEGO brick wind turbine (below), a Guiness World Records title made up of 146,000 LEGO bricks.

“We see children as our role models and as we take action in reducing our environmental impact as a company, we will also continue to work to inspire children around the world by engaging them in environmental and social issues,” added Bali Padda.