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Energy Watch Group calls on the IEA to release realistic scenarios

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The international network of scientists and parliamentarians Energy Watch Group (EWG) calls on the International Energy Agency (IEA) to finally release realistic energy projections. The World Energy Outlook (WEO) 2015 once again underestimates sharply the potential of solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind energy and emphasizes the conventional energy sources, the EWG assessment shows. Furthermore, the decline in the expansion of wind and solar energy, projected by the WEO2015, is not correct.

The latest EWG study has proven that the IEA has been continuously publishing misleading projections on solar PV and wind energy in the past 10 years. The WEO has significant impact both on the political and economic decisions of world governments regarding energy.

“The WEO 2015 shows one cannot take the IEA seriously as a credible energy analyst any longer,” President of the Energy Watch Group and former Member of the German Parliament Hans-Josef Fell said. “Despite its own warnings of limited investments in the oil business, the IEA predicts a further increase in the oil production until 2030. Meanwhile, the actually occurring rapid development of renewable energy is downplayed. This way the IEA increasingly turns into a cause of the global warming.”

Despite the exponential growth of solar PV and wind power in the last decades, the IEA keeps assuming a linear growth for these technologies, meaning no growth of the annual installations. However, the annual market growth of wind energy has been just under 10% since 2000, and solar PV significantly higher. The market analyses by Bloomberg New Energy Finance and IHS forecast a 10% or more annual market growth of solar PV in the coming years.

In its baseline ‘New Policy Scenario’, the IEA expects wind and solar PV markets to shrink: the annual added capacity for the period 2015 to 2040 is respectively 20% and 40% lower than the current levels. In its most optimistic ‘450 Scenario’, the IEA assumes no (0 %) annual market growth for both technologies. In addition, the investment costs for solar PV seem to be outdated, as the WEO expects for the years 2025 – 2040 on average higher investment costs than the already achieved level of 2015, with further declines in costs.

“Although the IEA spreads positive messages in its WEO presentations, the actual figures show serious errors and inadequately low forecasts for sustainable energy technologies, which are the least expensive form of energy supply in a growing number of regions in the world”, Christian Breyer, Professor for Solar Economy at the Lappeenranta University of Technology in Finland and lead author of the recent EWG study, said. “We need urgent help of journalists and civil society to find out the real reasons for these continuous incorrect IEA projections for solar PV and wind energy.”

The growth of nuclear energy projected by the WEO 2015 is doubtful. In recent years, there was no significant expansion and the exploding costs of recent nuclear projects, including in Finland and France, show that the expansion of nuclear power, projected by the WEO, will not be financially viable.

The WEO projections for the oil sector are also too optimistic as in the past. A further increase in oil consumption to over 103.5 mb/d by 2040 is unrealistic, given the high debts of oil companies, the lack of investments and the already decreasing conventional oil production. The low interest rates since 2009 obviously cannot set the expected growth impulses.

“These projections are risky and irresponsible. We are now standing at a crossroads: either high oil prices disrupt the economy, or lower prices disrupt oil companies. It is a toss-up whether the transition to a low-carbon energy supply will go smoothly or will cause major upheavals”, Werner Zittel, senior energy expert at Ludwig Bölkow Systemtechnik said. “Even more so it must be the duty of the IEA to provide realistic signposts rather than limit itself to the business-as-usual thinking.”

Energy

Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?

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sustainable wood burning ideas

Wood is a classic heat source, whether we think about people gathered around a campfire or wood stoves in old cabins, but is it a sustainable source of heat in modern society? The answer is an ambivalent one. In certain settings, wood heat is an ideal solution, but for the majority of homes, it isn’t especially suitable. So what’s the tipping point?

Wood heat is ideal for small homes on large properties, for individuals who can gather their own wood, and who have modern wood burning ovens. A green approach to wood heat is one of biofuel on the smallest of scales.

Is Biofuel Green?

One of the reasons that wood heat is a source of so much divide in the eco-friendly community is that it’s a renewable resource and renewable has become synonymous with green. What wood heat isn’t, though, is clean or healthy. It lets off a significant amount of carbon and particulates, and trees certainly don’t grow as quickly as it’s consumed for heat.

Of course, wood is a much less harmful source of heat than coal, but for scientists interested in developing green energy sources, it makes more sense to focus on solar and wind power. Why, then, would they invest in improved wood burning technology?

Homegrown Technology

Solar and wind technology are good large-scale energy solutions, but when it comes to small-space heating, wood has its own advantages. First, wood heat is in keeping with the DIY spirit of homesteaders and tiny house enthusiasts. These individuals are more likely to be driven to gather their own wood and live in small spaces that can be effectively heated as such.

Wood heat is also very effective on an individual scale because it requires very little infrastructure. Modern wood stoves made of steel rather than cast iron are built to EPA specifications, and the only additional necessary tools include a quality axe, somewhere to store the wood, and an appropriate covering to keep it dry. And all the wood can come from your own land.

Wood heat is also ideal for people living off the grid or in cold areas prone to frequent power outages, as it’s constantly reliable. Even if the power goes out, you know that you’ll be able to turn up the heat. That’s important if you live somewhere like Maine where the winters can get exceedingly cold. People have even successfully heated a 40’x34’ home with a single stove.

Benefits Of Biomass

The ultimate question regarding wood heat is whether any energy source that’s dangerous on the large scale is acceptable on a smaller one. For now, the best answer is that with a growing population and limited progress towards “pure” green energy, wood should remain a viable option, specifically because it’s used on a limited scale. Biomass heat is even included in the UK’s Renewable Heat Initiative and minor modifications can make it even more sustainable.

Wood stoves, when embraced in conjunction with pellet stoves, geothermal heating, and masonry heaters, all more efficient forms of sustainable heat, should be part of a modern energy strategy. Ultimately, we’re headed in the direction of diversified energy – all of it cleaner – and wood has a place in the big picture, serving small homes and off-the-grid structures, while solar, wind, and other large-scale initiatives fuel our cities.

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Energy

7 Benefits You Should Consider Giving Your Energy Employees

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As an energy startup, you’re always looking to offer the most competitive packages to entice top-tier talent. This can be tough, especially when trying to put something together that’s both affordable but also has perks that employees are after.

After all, this is an incredibly competitive field and one that’s constantly doing what it can to stay ahead. However, that’s why I’m bringing you a few helpful benefits that could be what bolsters you ahead of your competition. Check them out below:

Financial Advising

One benefit commonly overlooked by companies is offering your employees financial advising services, which could help them tremendously in planning for their long-term goals with your firm. This includes anything from budgeting and savings plans to recommendations for credit repair services and investments. Try to take a look at if your energy company could bring on an extra person or two specifically for this role, as it will pay off tremendously regarding retention and employee happiness.

Life Insurance

While often included in a lot of health benefits packages, offering your employees life insurance could be an excellent addition to your current perks. Although seldom used, life insurance is a small sign that shows you care about the life of their family beyond just office hours. Additionally, at such a low cost, this is a pretty simple aspect to add to your packages. Try contacting some brokers or insurance agents to see if you can find a policy that’s right for your firm.

Dedicated Time To Enjoy Their Hobbies

Although something seen more often in startups in Silicon Valley, having dedicated office time for employees to enjoy their passions is something that has shown great results. Whether it be learning the piano or taking on building a video game, having your team spend some time on the things they truly enjoy can translate to increased productivity. Why? Because giving them the ability to better themselves, they’ll in turn bring that to their work as well.

The Ability To Work Remotely

It’s no secret that a lot of employers despise the idea of letting their employees work remotely. However, it’s actually proven to hold some amazing benefits. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 95% of employers that allow their employees to telework reported an increased rate of retention, saving on both turnover and sick days. Depending on the needs of each individual role, this can be a strategy to implement either whenever your team wants or on assigned days. Either way, this is one perk almost everyone will love.

Health Insurance

Even though it’s mandated for companies with over 50 employees, offering health insurance regardless is arguably a benefit well received across the board. In fact, as noted in research compiled by KFF, 28.6% of employers with less than 50 people still offered health care. Why is that the case? Because it shows you care about their well-being, and know that a healthy employee is one that doesn’t have to worry about astronomical medical bills.

Unlimited Time Off

This is a perk that almost no employer offers but should be regarded as something to consider. According to The Washington Post, only 1-2% of companies offer unlimited vacation, which it’s easy to see why. A true “unlimited vacation” program could be a firm’s worse nightmare, with employees skipping out every other week to enjoy themselves. However, with the right model in place that rewards hard work with days off, your employees will absolutely adore this policy.

A Full Pantry

Finally, having a pantry full of food can be one perk that’s not only relatively inexpensive but also adds to the value of the workplace. As noted by USA Today, when surveying employees who had snacks versus those who didn’t, 67% of those who did reported they were “very happy” with their work life. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference this could make, especially when considering the price point. Consider adding a kitchen to your office if you haven’t already, and always keep the snacks and drinks everyone wants fully stocked. Doing so will increase morale tremendously.

Final Thoughts

Compiling a great package for your energy company is going to take some time in looking at what you can afford versus what’s the most you can offer. While it might mean cutting back in other areas, having a workforce that feels like you genuinely want to take care of them can take you far. And with so many different benefits to include in your energy company’s package, which one is your favorite? Comment with your answers below!

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