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Marine Energy Must Set Out Priorities To Compete With Other Low Carbon Sources

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Tidal To Play An Important Role In Clean Power According To FoE

Certain priorities for the UK’s marine energy industry must be maintained if it is to compete with other low carbon sources of energy, according to the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI).

Reflecting on its 10 years of work in marine energy the ETI believes the focus should be on exploiting tidal stream technology commercially. This is because tidal stream has the potential to compete with other low carbon energy sources over the coming decades. Other marine renewable sources are at a less developed stage and therefore carry with them higher costs. Tidal lagoons for example currently lie in between the development stages of tidal stream and wave energy and require large levels of investment to demonstrate and then deploy at scale.

For marine renewables to succeed the ETI believes that a successful agreement on a Contract for Difference (CfD) for tidal energy will be a crucial factor and support and encouragement should also be given to the MeyGen project for the industry to prosper.

The MeyGen project is one of the largest tidal arrays under construction anywhere in the world located in the Pentland Firth – a stretch of water between Caithness and Orkney. It will have a 398MW capacity after the installation of all 269 turbines and the ETI has invested in a project which will see two Atlantis Resources (the developers of MeyGen) owned 1.5MW commercial tidal energy turbines installed on an innovative foundation structure designed and built as part of the project.

Tidal stream energy can have a role in a whole energy system response to a low carbon transition but primarily in specific locations rather than as a blanket supply option. The value of tidal stream energy from an energy systems view is that it is reliable and predictable and it also has the benefit of having a low visual impact and creates economic value in specific locations. The challenge comes from the distribution of the energy generated. Because many of the most powerful tidal sites are at remote locations the source is often a long way from the end consumer. Therefore in the case of energy systems design, the ETI can foresee that it will work best serving inhabited coastal locations as a prime source of energy consumption.

A rethink is required on wave energy technology if it is to be an affordable source of renewable electricity. Wave energy can work technically and has been proven through a small number of installations, but it is presently up to 10 times more expensive than other low carbon alternatives so there needs to be a radical rethink if it is to become cost competitive.

The ETI argues that developers of wave energy need to reconsider their approaches to extraction and conversion to find ways that will drastically reduce costs. Wave has a challenge to overcome, to cost-effectively convert to an energy vector and then connect to the grid. The West Coast of the UK has the best wave energy resource – Cornwall and Scotland, but this, like the best tidal waters is close only to a small percentage of the demand for electricity in the UK energy system

The UK has some of the best tidal waters in the world, but these are generally a long way from grid connections and major population centres

Stuart Bradley, ETI Offshore Renewables Strategy Manager said:

“The UK has some of the best tidal waters in the world, but these are generally a long way from grid connections and major population centres where the demand is greatest. Marine energy also requires engineering solutions to work in the harshest of environments and it is incredibly challenging to build equipment that operates effectively and reliably.

“Whilst it has been demonstrated that you can create and capture energy from the sea it is currently very expensive to do so and this has to be addressed for the sector to grow.

“A rethink is required in wave to bring costs down, but the early signs are that bodies such as Wave Energy Scotland are tackling this challenge so support should continue to be provided to such work.

“The UK has some of the world’s best tidal and wave resources and we do lead the world in tidal and wave device development. But it remains an industry in relevant infancy. Policy makers need to review the evidence base and decide the exact contribution of marine energy to a future low carbon energy industry so the industry can move ahead, improve cost performance and contribute positively.”

During 2017 the ETI will be releasing technical data and reports from projects delivered across its technology programmes over the last 10 years. It has released to its website over 100 documents from its marine technology programme on the research it has undertaken to date in this area to help inform the debate on marine energy in the UK.

Information from its marine programme can be found at http://www.eti.co.uk/programmes/marine

Energy

Are the UK Governments Plans for the Energy Sector Smart?

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The revolution in the energy sector marches on, wind turbines and solar panels are harnessing more renewable energy than ever before – so where is it all leading?

The UK government have recently announced plans to modernise the way we produce, store and use electricity. And, if realised, the plans could be just the thing to bring the energy sector in line with 21st century technology and ideologies.

Central to the plans is an initiative that will see smart meters installed in homes and businesses the length and breadth of the country – and their aim? To create an environment where electricity can be managed more efficiently.

The news has prompted some speculation about how energy suppliers will react and many are predicting a price war. This could benefit consumers of electricity and investors, many of whom may be looking to make a profit by trading energy company shares online using platforms such as Oanda – but the potential for good news doesn’t end there.

Introducing New Technology

The plan, titled Smart Systems and Flexibility is being rolled out in the hope that it will have a positive impact in three core areas.

  • To offer consumers greater control by making smart meters available for all homes and businesses by 2020. Energy users will be able to monitor, control and record the amount of energy they use.
  • Incentivise energy suppliers to change the manner in which they buy electricity, to offer more smart tariffs and more off-peak periods for energy consumption.
  • Introduce new standards for electrical appliances – it is hoped that the new wave of appliances will recognise when electricity is at its cheapest and at its most expensive and respond accordingly.

How the Plans Will Affect Solar Energy

Around 7 million houses in the UK have solar panels and the government say that their plan will benefit them as they will be able to store electricity on batteries. The stored energy can then be used by the household and excess energy can be exported to the national grid – in this instance lower tariffs or even payment for the excess energy will bring down annual costs significantly.

The rate of return on energy exported to the national grid is currently between 6% and 10%, but there are many variables to take into account, such as, the cost of battery storage and light levels. Still, those with state-of-the-art solar electricity systems could end up with an annual profit after selling their excess energy.

The Internet of Things

Much of what the plans set out to achieve are linked to the now ubiquitous “internet of things” – where, for example, appliances and heating systems are connected to the internet in order to make them function more smartly.

Companies like Hive have already made great inroads into this type of technology, but the road that the government plans are heading down, will, potentially, go much further -blockchain technology looms and has already proved to be a game changer in the world of currency.

Blockchain Technology

It has already been suggested that the peer to peer selling of energy and exporting it to the national grid may eventually be done using blockchain technology.

“The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.”

Don and Alex Tapscott, Blockchain Revolution (2016)

The upshot of the government’s plans for the revolution of the energy sector, is that technology will play an indelible role in making it more efficient, more flexible and ultimately more sustainable.

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Energy

4 Case Studies on the Benefits of Solar Energy

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Demand for solar energy is growing at a surprising rate. New figures from SolarPower Europe show that solar energy production has risen 50% since the summer of 2016.

However, many people are still skeptical of the benefits of solar energy.Does it actually make a significant reduction in our carbon footprint? Is it actually cost-effective for the company over the long-run?

A number of case studies have been conducted, which indicate solar energy can be enormously beneficial. Here are some of the most compelling studies on the subject.

1.     Boulder Nissan

When you think of companies that leverage solar power, car dealerships probably aren’t the first ones that come to mind. However, Boulder Nissan is highly committed to promoting green energy. They worked with Independent Power Systems to setup a number of solar cells. Here were the results:

  • Boulder Nissan has reduced coal generated electricity by 65%.
  • They are on track to run on 100% renewable energy within the next 13 years.
  • Boulder Nissan reduced CO2 emissions by 416,000 lbs. within the first year after installing their solar panels.

This is one of the most impressive solar energy case studies a small business has published in recent years. It shows that even small companies in rural communities can make a major difference by adapting solar energy.

2.     Valley Electric Association

In 2015, the Valley Electric Association (VEA) created an 80-acre solar garden. Before retiring from the legislature, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid praised the new project as a way to make the state more energy dependent and reduce our carbon footprint.

“This facility will provide its customers with the opportunity to purchase 100 percent of their electricity from clean energy produced in Nevada,” Reid told reporters with the Pahrump Valley Times. “That’s a step forward for the Silver State, but it also proves that utilities can work with customers to provide clean renewable energy that they demand.”

The solar energy that VEA produced was drastically higher than anyone would have predicted. SolarWorld estimates that the solar garden created 32,680,000 kwh every year, which was enough to power nearly 4,000 homes.

This was a major undertaking for a purple state, which may inspire their peers throughout the Midwest to develop solar gardens of their own. It will reduce dependency on the electric grid, which is a problem for many remote states in the central part of the country.

3.     Las Vegas Casinos

A number of Las Vegas casinos have started investing in solar panels over the last couple of years. The Guardian reports that many of these casinos have cut costs considerably. Some of them are even selling the energy back to the grid.

“It’s no accident that we put the array on top of a conference center. This is good business for us,” Cindy Ortega, chief sustainability officer at MGM Resorts told Guardian reporters. “We are looking at leaving the power system, and one of the reasons for that is we can procure more renewable energy on the open market.”

There have been many benefits for casinos using solar energy. They are some of the most energy-intensive institutions in the world, so this has helped them become much more cost-effective. It also helps minimize disruptions to their customers learning online keno strategies in the event of any problems with the electric grid.

4.     Boston College

Boston College has been committed to many green initiatives over the years. A group of researchers experimented with solar cells on different parts of the campus to see where they could produce the most electricity. They discovered that the best locationwas at St. Clement’sHall. The solar cells there dramatically. It would also reduce CO2 emissions by 521,702 lbs. a year and be enough to save 10,869 trees.

Boston College is exploring new ways to expand their usage of solar cells. They may be able to invest in more effective solar panels that can generate far more solar energy.

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