10. All states shall accelerate R&D of HVDC electric grids, energy storage, and Demand System Management

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Rapporteur: Michel Duguay 17 June 2019

In North America, as well as in Europe, the price of electricity from wind turbines and from photovoltaic panels is now low enough to compete with electricity produced by conventional power plants based on burning coal or natural gas. At least two problems, however, must be tackled in order to make renewable power large enough to alleviate the climate change issue. The first one is storage. The wind does not always blow with enough strength and the electrical output of solar panels fluctuates with cloud coverage. The second problem is the need to transmit electric power from power-rich regions to power-poor ones while at the same time maintaining grid power reliability and frequency stability.

The renewable power fluctuation problem is being alleviated by the recent development of high capacity batteries for electric cars and for buildings. The idea is that cars are parked during a good part of the day and that we could keep them connected to the electric power grid while parked. When the power grid has excess electricity it could store it in the electric car and building batteries. When the power grid faces a very high demand for electric power it could go and fetch electrical energy stored in the building and car batteries. Computers would be used to smoothly manage this exchange of electric power.

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Sweden shuts down coal power two years early!

Great news from Sweden in that Sweden shut down their last coal-fired power plant 2 years ahead of schedule!

“It seems like a lot of countries are falling behind on their climate goals lately, and Sweden is currently putting them all to shame — and that’s not only because the Nordic country produced Greta Thunberg. Sweden just shut down its last remaining coal-fired power plant, two years before it was scheduled to close.

The coal-fired cogeneration plant KVV6 at Värtaverket, located in Hjorthagen in eastern Stockholm, has been in operation since 1989, according to Stockholm Exergi, the local energy company that owns the plant. Stockholm Exergi is equally owned by the municipality of Stockholm and Fortum, a Finnish energy company that operates across Europe and Asia.

As Stockholm Exergi explained, before the winter of 2019-2020, the company shut down one of KVV6’s two boilers, and converted the other to a power reserve. Because the winter wound up being mild, Stockholm Exergi did not need to use energy from the reserves, meaning the company was able to close the plant down this month, rather than in 2022 as planned.

Additionally, there is a chance that the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on Sweden’s recent energy use. For example, Britain just beat its personal record of going more than 18 days without using coal-powered electricity, thanks in part to the recent mild weather, but more interestingly, due to people needing less power during the coronavirus pandemic. With many areas on lockdown, people are using less electricity and driving cars less, reducing dependence on fuel overall.

“Our goal is for all our production to come from renewable or recycled Exergi,” Anders Egelrud, CEO of Stockholm Exergi, said in a translated statement. “This plant has provided the Stockholmers with heat and electricity for a long time, today we know that we must stop using all fossil fuels, therefore the coal needs to be phased out and we do so several years before the original plan.”

“Since Stockholm was almost totally fossil-dependent 30-40 years ago, we have made enormous changes and now we are taking the step away from carbon dependency and continuing the journey towards an energy system entirely based on renewable and recycled energy,” Egelrud added.

In 2018, 54.6 percent of the energy used in Sweden came from renewable sources, according to the Swedish Energy Agency. While that is still pretty far from the country’s goal of 100 percent renewable energy, Sweden is far ahead of many other countries. For example, in 2018, renewable energy sources only accounted for 11 percent of U.S. energy consumption, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

As reported by The Independent, Sweden is the third country in Europe to cut off its reliance on coal. Belgium closed its last coal power plant in 2016, according to Climate Change News, and Austria said Auf Wiedersehen to its last remaining coal-fired power station earlier this April, as per CNBC. Hopefully now that three European countries no longer have coal-fired power plants, other nations across Europe — and all over the world — will ramp up efforts to do the same.”

A Geothermal Future

By Bruce Gellerman, 13 Jan 2020

Natural gas utilities in Massachusetts are facing an existential crisis: they could be out of business by mid-century. That’s because the state’s 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act requires emissions from burning fossil fuels — like natural gas — be cut by 80% economy-wide by 2050.

But now a solution that could help save the companies — and the climate — is at hand. Or, more accurately, underfoot. It’s geothermal energy, which takes advantage of the biggest energy storage system on earth: the earth itself.

Our planet absorbs the sun’s solar energy and stores it underground as thermal energy that can be used to heat and cool homes and businesses. Just a few yards down, the earth’s temperature is a constant 50 to 60 degrees; warmer than the air above during winter, cooler in the summer. You can take advantage of the temperature difference using what is called a geothermal or ground source heat pump: plastic pipes filled with water and antifreeze pick up the heat from the ground, and the pump circulates it through a building.
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I don’t know what is problematic here. What is wrong with the electric grids we have now?

Which Premiers are promoting small modular reactors?

Several Canadian province’s premiers have committed to develop and promote the installation of small modular reactors in their communities. These provinces include New Brunswick, Ontario, and Saskatchewan.

Many areas in Canada have concerning trends in the management and trends of radioactive waste products – such as radioactive materials being stored only a few hundred meters from the shores of various Great Lakes (Lake Huron, Lake Ontario.). Where will the eventual waste products (spent activation products) from these small modular reactors be stored for hundreds or thousands of years post-use?

Is it worth encouraging exploration and investment in other modes of energy production? Surely New Brunswick, Ontario, and Saskatchewan have potential for hydroelectric, solar, and wind to various extents… Could these be integrated in ecologically friendly manners?


Learn from PG&E’s mistake: Trim your trees!

Financiers and corporate managers had better pay more attention to climate change or they may suffer the same fate as PG & E: bankruptcy. Erik Kobayashi-Solomon has explained the collapse of Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a shareholder-owned company that has provided the electricity for 5.2 million households in central and northern California.
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It’s time for an Energy Transition in South East Asia

By: Liming Qiao, Asia Director of GWEC

There is no better time than now for our industry to step up the energy transition and to define our role in the future energy system: the cost reduction of wind energy, the improvement of the efficiencies and reliability of wind technologies and the mounting threat of the climate imperatives are making the case for wind energy. Following the events during the UN Climate Action Summit in New York last month, there is now unprecedented policy momentum behind taking more decisive actions to stop dangerous climate change than ever before. Wind energy, together with other clean energy sources, is one of the most important technology choices to fulfil the climate targets and to provide substantial emission reduction in the future energy system.

This urgency is all the more pressing in South East Asia, a region that still relies on fossil fuels in a time where power demand is on the rise as the region’s economy and populations continue to grow.

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Green Hydrogen

Hydrogen from renewable energy could play a central role in the global energy transformation, the latest report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) finds. ‘Hydrogen: a renewable energy perspective’ estimates that hydrogen from renewable power, so called green hydrogen, could translate into 8 per cent of global energy consumption by 2050. 16 per cent of all generated electricity would be used to produce hydrogen by then. Green hydrogen could particularly offer ways to decarbonise a range of sectors where it is proving difficult to meaningfully reduce CO2 emissions.

Decarbonisation impacts depends on how hydrogen is produced. Current and future sourcing options can be divided into grey (fossil fuel-based), blue (fossil fuel-based production with carbon capture, utilisation and storage) and green (renewables-based) hydrogen. Blue and green hydrogen can play a role in the transition and synergies exist.
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Tucson, get with the program!

Renowned linguist and cognitive scientist (etcetera) Noam Chomsky has noted that: “A very good economist, Dean Baker, had a column a couple of weeks ago in which he discussed what China is doing. They are still a big huge polluter, but they are carrying out massive programs of switching to renewable energies way beyond anything else in the world. [American] States are doing it. Or not.” … In Tucson, Arizona, for example, “the sun is shining … most of the year, [but] take a look and see how many solar panels you see. Our house in the suburbs is the only one that has them [in the vicinity].

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IRENA. — International Renewable Energy Association — is an organization that seems to be doing a great deal to promote energy self sufficiency. I saw its Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/irena.org/

Germany decided after Fukushima to quit, not only coal, but also nuclear. And it’s working!

Germany has released plans – several months ago – to shut down 84 of its coal burning plants to help with climate change.

“The decision to quit coal follows an earlier bold energy policy move by the German government, which decided to shut down all of its nuclear power plants by 2022 in the wake of Japan’s Fukushima disaster in 2011.

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Get your electricity from a quartz crystal

Piezoelectricity is the generation of electricity and energy through compression of materials – most often mechanical compression of crystalline materials – such as quartz. Quartz watches have used this form of energy generation for years. Additional proposed applications of this field of energy production include a dance floor at a night club that generates electricity as folks dance; or a road that generates electricity as cars drive on it.

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Next:Try Magnets?

Magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) has potential as a source of environmentally friendly energy. Here are some excerpts from papers on the topic:

” The fundamental concept behind MHD is the magnetic field can induce currents in moving conductive fluid, which in turns creates force on the fluid and also changes the magnetic field itself. The generator used in this process is called Magneto Hydro Dynamic (MHD) Power Generator. MHD power generator don’t have any mechanical part to produce current and the actual conductor are replaced by magneto-fluid (plasmas gas, liquid metals, and salt water).
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MHD additionally has applications for the desalination of water. This has been in research and development since the 1980s (I think).

Egypt’s big solar park

Have folks heard of the Benban Solar Park? It is a series of 41 land plots in Egypt – ranging from 0.3 to 1 square kilometer. The plots are designed to generate solar energy – in the largest such complex globally. Interesting, instead of one company running it- each plot is to be leased (or sold) to a different company or group of companies. Interesting notion here – as it seems most solar panel installations (on a commerical scale) are managed or owned by one company.

Ontario, does Quebec have a deal for you?

Is it still cheaper to import hydroelectric energy from Northern Ontario and Quebec versus. refurbishing the nuclear reactors in Ontario? I heard rumours it was about 12 cents cheaper (over the long-term) per kilowatt to import hydroelectric than it was to invest in re-furbishing the reactors. Certainly Quebec has surplus electricity from its remarkable dams. I wonder how many jobs can be created by tapping Northern Ontario’s renewable energy potential…?

Fence your backyard with solar panels!

I saw a photo circulating on social media regarding adaptive use of solar panels as fencing materials. Apparently solar panels are becoming cheaper and more flexible – and as such – there are a range of adaptive uses for them. One of interest was solar panel fences in sunny areas. Could provide an additional boost for a home via a garden!

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Demand Management Can Help

The demand management angle is especially important, but not always recognized. Energy demand management systems aim to optimize the demand-supply and optimize energy generation and transmission systems. Energy demand systems are automated systems that send signals to the customers to shed load depending on systems conditions. It also informs the system supervisors about the coming changes in demand patterns.

Use price signals!

The demand system management idea depends on using prices signals to influence consumers, so we use electricity more during the hours when it is cheap. But not many people pay attention to the price of the electricity, do they? Is this an effective motivator?

It must have some effect, Beverly, because carbon taxation works. I don’t hearing anyone discussing the price of gasoline, but nevertheless the evidence shows that they don’t drive as much when it is expensive.

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N.Y. Commits $55 Million to Long Island Energy Storage
Program includes commercial and residential storage projects


Decentralization makes us less vulnerable. And one great form of decentralization is to own the solar panels on your roof and don’t feed the electricity back into the grid but store it. Here’s a familiar sight — the alternative, older approach.