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Renewables Overtakes Coal In Q3 Electricity Generation

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The third quarter of 2015 saw a significant 31% increase in renewables generation from the same period in 2014, overtaking coal as the third largest contributor to GB electricity generation, after gas and nuclear power.

Figures included in the third quarter GB Electricity Market Summary, from energy data specialist EnAppSys, showed that during the July-September period, renewables provided 14.3TWh of generation, or 20% of Britain’s 32GW total average daily electricity output.

Levels of renewable generation are now almost twice that of the same period in 2013, representing a 79% increase overall. This has been supported by a 92% increase in solar output and a 23% increase in wind generation compared to Q3 2014.

The period saw energy generation output from Britain’s coal-fired power stations fall 54% from the same period in 2014, as a result of lower gas prices and summer maintenance outages.

 

The main drivers in terms of growth in renewable generation are in part due to large increases in solar capacity. Developers have accelerated the building of solar farms to meet subsidy scheme deadlines. Britain has also seen higher than expected wind generation over the normally calmer summer months.

This growth in renewables has somewhat complicated the market resulting in increased levels of oversupply and uncertainty. However, the market is also showing signs of adapting to the resulting higher levels of renewable generation, particularly from solar PV during the day.

The period saw gas-fired (CCGT) plants generate the most power output (32%) of any fuel type, contributing 22.6TWh over the period; a daily output of 10.2GW. This represented a 15% increase on the previous quarter but remained 40% down from the CCGT generation peak in Q3 2009.

Levels of electricity demand over the quarter fell by 1% to 28.8GW, from the same period in 2014. This follows an on-going year-by-year trend of falling electricity demand, due to reductions in electricity usage and the growth in embedded generation at high-demand sites.

Overall, during Q3 2015, CCGT produced 31.8% of overall electricity generation, with nuclear plants providing 22%, coal plants 18% and interconnectors 8% of overall generation.

Renewables contributed 20.2% of total energy generation. Of this figure, wind produced 41%, biomass 32%, solar PV 20% and 7% from hydro plants.

Paul Verrill, director of EnAppSys, said: “Renewables are increasingly offsetting the decline in coal-fired electricity generation, and are playing an increasing role in meeting Britain’s energy needs as their relative contribution increases.

“At the same time, levels of gas-fired generation have bounced back from previous low levels, although with output in the third quarter of 2015 was still 40% below the levels of power generated at CCGT plants in Q3 2009.

“Coal and gas-fired plants continue to provide the bulk of GB’s electricity generation, totaling 50% of total electricity generated in Q3 2015. However, despite some closures of coal-fired plants, it is unlikely that gas-fired plants will return to the levels of generation seen in 2009.

“Further plant closures within the GB electricity market look likely as levels of generation at plants on the edge of the market remain low, with a number of older gas-fired plants likely to drop out the market.

“With market conditions for conventional generation continuing to worsen, it is unlikely that these lost plants will be replaced within the market unless the payments under the capacity market encourages new build capacity or the tightening reserve margin translates to consistently higher peak prices.”

The EnAppSys Q3 2015 GB Electricity Summary is available here.

Energy

7 New Technologies That Could Radically Change Our Energy Consumption

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Energy Consumption
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Syda Productions | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/dolgachov

Most of our focus on technological development to lessen our environmental impact has been focused on cleaner, more efficient methods of generating electricity. The cost of solar energy production, for example, is slated to fall more than 75 percent between 2010 and 2020.

This is a massive step forward, and it’s good that engineers and researchers are working for even more advancements in this area. But what about technologies that reduce the amount of energy we demand in the first place?

Though it doesn’t get as much attention in the press, we’re making tremendous progress in this area, too.

New Technologies to Watch

These are some of the top emerging technologies that have the power to reduce our energy demands:

  1. Self-driving cars. Self-driving cars are still in development, but they’re already being hailed as potential ways to eliminate a number of problems on the road, including the epidemic of distracted driving ironically driven by other new technologies. However, even autonomous vehicle proponents often miss the tremendous energy savings that self-driving cars could have on the world. With a fleet of autonomous vehicles at our beck and call, consumers will spend less time driving themselves and more time carpooling, dramatically reducing overall fuel consumption once it’s fully adopted.
  2. Magnetocaloric tech. The magnetocaloric effect isn’t exactly new—it was actually discovered in 1881—but it’s only recently being studied and applied to commercial appliances. Essentially, this technology relies on changing magnetic fields to produce a cooling effect, which could be used in refrigerators and air conditioners to significantly reduce the amount of electricity required.
  3. New types of insulation. Insulation is the best asset we have to keep our homes thermoregulated; they keep cold or warm air in (depending on the season) and keep warm or cold air out (again, depending on the season). New insulation technology has the power to improve this efficiency many times over, decreasing our need for heating and cooling entirely. For example, some new automated sealing technologies can seal gaps between 0.5 inches wide and the width of a human hair.
  4. Better lights. Fluorescent bulbs were a dramatic improvement over incandescent bulbs, and LEDs were a dramatic improvement over fluorescent bulbs—but the improvements may not end there. Scientists are currently researching even better types of light bulbs, and more efficient applications of LEDs while they’re at it.
  5. Better heat pumps. Heat pumps are built to transfer heat from one location to another, and can be used to efficiently manage temperatures—keeping homes warm while requiring less energy expenditure. For example, some heat pumps are built for residential heating and cooling, while others are being used to make more efficient appliances, like dryers.
  6. The internet of things. The internet of things and “smart” devices is another development that can significantly reduce our energy demands. For example, “smart” windows may be able to respond dynamically to changing light conditions to heat or cool the house more efficiently, and “smart” refrigerators may be able to respond dynamically to new conditions. There are several reasons for this improvement. First, smart devices automate things, so it’s easier to control your energy consumption. Second, they track your consumption patterns, so it’s easier to conceptualize your impact. Third, they’re often designed with efficiency in mind from the beginning, reducing energy demands, even without the high-tech interfaces.
  7. Machine learning. Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies have the power to improve almost every other item on this list. By studying consumer patterns and recommending new strategies, or automatically controlling certain features, machine learning algorithms have the power to fundamentally change how we use energy in our homes and businesses.

Making the Investment

All technologies need time, money, and consumer acceptance to be developed. Fortunately, a growing number of consumers are becoming enthusiastic about finding new ways to reduce their energy consumption and overall environmental impact. As long as we keep making the investment, our tools to create cleaner energy and demand less energy in the first place should have a massive positive effect on our environment—and even our daily lives.

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Energy

Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis

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Energy Investments
Shutterstock / By Sergey Nivens | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/nivens

Retiring baby-boomers are facing a retirement cliff, at the same time as mother nature unleashes her fury with devastating storms tied to the impact of global warming. There could be a unique solution to the challenges associated with climate change – investments in clean energy from retirement funds.

Financial savings play a very important role in everyone’s life and one must start planning for it as soon as possible. It’s shocking how quickly seniors can burn through their nest egg – leaving many wondering, “How long your retirement savings will last?

Let’s take a closer look at how seniors can take baby steps on the path to retiring with dignity, while helping to clean up our environment.

Tip #1: Focus & Determination

Like in other work, it is very important to focus and be determined. If retirement is around the corner, then make sure to start putting some money away for retirement. No one can ever achieve anything without dedication and focus – whether it’s saving the planet, or saving for retirement.

Tip #2: Minimize Spending

One of the most important things that you need to do is to minimize your expenditures. Reducing consumption is good for the planet too!

Tip #3: Visualize Your Goal

You can achieve more if you have a clearly defined goal in life. This about how your money can be used to better the planet – imagine cleaner air, water and a healthier environment to leave to your grandchildren.

Investing in Clean Energy

One of the hottest and most popular industries for investment today is the energy market – the trading of energy commodities. Clean energy commodities are traded alongside dirty energy supplies. You might be surprised to learn that clean energy is becoming much more competitive.

With green biz becoming more popular, it is quickly becoming a powerful tool for diversified retirement investing.

The Future of Green Biz

As far as the future is concerned, energy businesses are going to continue getting bigger and better. There are many leading energy companies in the market that already have very high stock prices, yet people are continuing to investing in them.

Green initiatives are impacting every industry. Go Green campaigns are a PR staple of every modern brand. For the energy-sector in the US, solar energy investments are considered to be the most accessible form of clean energy investment. Though investing in any energy business comes with some risks, the demand for energy isn’t going anywhere.

In conclusion, if you want to start saving for your retirement, then clean energy stocks and commodity trading are some of the best options for wallets and the planet. Investing in clean energy products, like solar power, is a more long-term investment. It’s quite stable and comes with a significant profit margin. And it’s amazing for the planet!

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