Tag Archives: Germany

Germany generated that much renewable energy, they actually paid people to use it!

17 May

What a time to be alive – on Sunday 8th May 2016, Germany produced an incredible amount of renewable energy. For a few hours, the European nation went full ‘green’. Its power grid had surplus, and for a few hours residents actually earned money from using electricity, rather than paying for it. We were just as shocked as you!

The weather was so sunny and windy that at about 1pm in the day, the wind, hydro, solar and biomass plants in Germany generated 87% (55GW) of the entire amount of power (63GW) being consumed in the country. It’s an astonishing achievement and one that unfortunately the industry just was not expecting.

In 2015, Germany’s renewable energy mix was at 33% but Germany managed to use the sun, wind and rain to provide 87 per cent of an entire country’s energy requirements which is an incredible achievement. Usually, renewables just top up the main supply. Gas plants were actually shut down due to the green surge, but nuclear and coal plants couldn’t suspend activity fast enough. It meant the grid was overrun with power.

So Germany’s target of becoming 100% renewable by 2050 (which Denmark is currently hitting) seems not as ambitious as once thought. Germany will of course need to keep some of its nuclear and coal plants running due to the unpredictability of its renewable energy sources as they are dependent on the weather. In July last year, Denmark’s wind power was generating 140% of its demand, meaning energy could be sent over to Germany, Norway and Sweden.

At the moment there is a north/south split in the country, as wind turbines are located mostly in the north of Germany and solar power plants in the south. The authorities are also wanting to phase out nuclear power by 2022. With the country making exciting gains towards its goal, experts believe Germany to be a good role model for other developed countries.

It has been argued that the grid needs to become more flexible in order for the transition to renewable energy to be successful. Presently, renewable energy plants generating a lot of energy on sunny and blustery days have to push it into the grid, resulting in inefficiency and these negative prices. But with developed grid management and power storage technology, sudden spikes could be handled better and utilised in a more effective way.

Why going solar may be right up your street

5 Jun

Are you thinking of investing in a solar powered future for you and your family? Increasing numbers of homeowners around the world are going solar, and the green energy investment not only saves money in the long run, but also helps the environment. What’s not to love?

In terms of global installed capacity, solar is the 3rd most important renewable energy source sitting just behind hydro and wind respectively. Solar panels don’t need direct sunlight to work; they can still generate some electricity on a cloudy day. The cells convert the sunlight into electricity, which can be used to run household appliances and lighting.

The benefits of going solar

  1. Once the panels have been installed there is no need for any fuels to be consumed. What could be greener than that?
  2. In terms of your local community – By reducing the impact on the power grid (with your house being self-efficient) power is conserved for other locations around the community.
  3. The sun must be the most reliable source of power due to the fact it will be around for the next several billion years. An abundant power source if you ask us.
  4. Get paid for generating electricity. The government’s Feed-In Tariffs pay you for the electricity you generate – even if you use it!
  5. SUNLIGHT IS FREE! So once you have paid for the initial installation your energy costs will be reduced.
  6. You could sell electricity back to the grid. Basically, if your system is producing more electricity than you use, you can sell the surplus back to the grid.
  7. A typical home which operates under solar power could save over a tonne of carbon dioxide per year. You could be the greenest person you know considering you could save more than 30 tonnes over its lifetime!

Solar power around the world

You might be surprised to know that in 2010 Germany had the highest capacity of solar photovoltaic power in the world and still does to this day. Despite a slowdown in 2013, Germany is expected to remain the top solar market in Europe for the coming years, and still boasts a quarter of the world’s installed PV capacity 26 percent, compared to the 13 percent held by each of the next two countries, Italy and China.

China is second on the list. Coupled with a commitment to cut its coal use, the world’s biggest carbon polluter could soon also be the country powered with the greenest energy. It helps that China is a major solar panel manufacturer, and the government has had to repeatedly raise its renewable energy targets — from a plan of 20 GW by 2020 to 20-30 GW by 2020 to the current target of an astounding 70 GW of solar by 2017.

Rounding off the top three is Italy. Rising from fifth place in 2010 to third place as of the end of 2013, Italy generates more of its energy from solar than any other nation, with 7.8 percent of its energy coming from solar, compared to 6.2 percent for Germany.

As for the little island called the United Kingdom, we come at an impressive 10th. In 2013, the U.K nearly doubled its solar capacity, installing more even than Italy, the current 5th-place holder. Pretty impressive!

Frequently asked questions

  • A popular question asked by someone wanting to go solar is what happens when they move home. In short, ownership of the technology is linked to the site and, therefore, in the case where a building or homeownership changes, the ownership of the technology would also transfer to the new owner.
  • Another popular subject is the questionable amount of sunshine in the UK. Well, solar panels work using light, and not necessarily sun light. This means that a solar PV or solar thermal system can function in cooler and often cloudier countries. However you will of course generate more energy at sunnier times of the year.
  • And finally, where should you installed your solar panels – Maximum output comes from south facing systems between 30-40 degrees from horizontal. Although most systems are installed on a roof, they can be installed on any surface such as facades, sunshades, garages or ground mounted. They are normally installed in locations that receive sunshine through most of the day.

If you would like any more information regarding solar power call us on 020 8883 4595. One of our dedicated team members will be happy to help!

Wind Energy Production Has A Record Breaking 2014 Across The Globe

7 May

It’s good news on the renewable energy front. It has been reported by The Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) that global wind energy production increased by 44% in 2014. It appears the world’s energy worries may be actually blowing in the wind as a total 51,477 megawatts worth of wind capacity was installed around the globe.

It has taken around 40 years to get here but the total global wind capacity now stands at a huge 369,553 megawatts. 2014’s total is about one seventh of the total installed which is a good indication of how popular wind power has become.

At the end of 2013, the expectations for wind power market growth were uncertain, as continued economic slowdown in Europe and political uncertainty in the US made it difficult to make projections for 2014. Thus, you can imagine the surprise of the 2014 results.

Green news outlet, Treehugger said “This means that, in theory, even without acceleration in the rate of growth, we could double wind capacity during the next seven years.” They also speculate that the figure would double again in just five years.

China has had the largest overall market for wind power generation since 2009 and due to another remarkable year has retained the top spot in 2014. Europe had a good year earning them runner up, followed by North American, a distant third.

Zoom into Europe and we find that Germany had a brilliant year in 2014 both onshore and offshore – but rest assured, the United Kingdom also had a great year earning us second place for wind in Europe by installing a total 1,736MW, of which 923 MW was onshore and 813 MW was offshore. The UK is the largest offshore wind market in the world with total installations of almost 4,494 MW, accounting for over half of the global offshore market. The UK now generates enough wind energy to supply the needs of more than 6.7 million UK households. Not bad for a small island!

When it comes to the present a new report from GlobalData has found that Germany is set to overtake the UK as global leader for annual offshore wind turbine installations in 2015, with an estimated 2,071 MW set to be added this year. “Germany’s huge increase in offshore installations is attributable to several offshore wind projects scheduled to come online in 2015,” said Ankit Mathur, GlobalData’s Practice Head for Power.

China is also springing into action and will jump into second place, leaving the UK in third position. Ankit Mathur also went on to say;

“China is also planning an array of offshore wind projects this year, which will see it overtake the UK for annual installations.”

“Additionally, the next few years will see China maintain its annual offshore wind installations around the 1 Gigawatt mark, while the UK will observe relatively lower installations until 2018, when the country’s next offshore growth spurt is expected.”

Chin up UK – this is one race where it doesn’t really matter who comes in first because everyone’s a winner.

10 Million UK homes for solar panel installations?

7 Feb

In order for the country to fulfil its renewable energy potential, energy experts have said that ten million homes in the UK should have solar panels attached to their roofs during the next six years. This would mean over a third of households would be generating energy from solar which would let the UK harvest about 6% of its annual electricity needs from the sun. Nearly half a million homes in the UK have solar panels installed today.

The solar industry has observed a boom in sales over the last 5 years and an increasing number of households are embracing the technology. Those who have energy efficient electric heating and use feed-in tariffs are seeing the greatest benefit, and are safeguarded from the big six price rises.

Germany has been leading the way with solar power, with a major push over the last decade. Currently, solar power costs about a Euro cents 10 per kilowatt hour in Germany, compared with about 6 to 8 Euro cents per kilowatt hour with gas and the most carbon intense form of fuel, brown coal. Wind and solar energy have effectively merged into the energy mix and are now contributing to renewable energy targets within Germany.  This is somewhat due to a determination by the German Government in 2011 to eliminate nuclear energy generation and concentrate purely on clean energy, a decision made in the wake of the disaster of Fukushima.

Ajay Gambhir from the Imperial College London has said that by 2030, the cost of solar should be equivalent to that of the dirtiest forms of coal and gas. Due to economies of scale, installing more solar panels will bring the cost of the technology down dramatically as Germany has recently shown.

According to academics from the Grantham Institute of Imperial College London, due to current trends, over the next 20 years the cost of fossil fuels are expected to stay the same, whilst solar energy should reduce to 6 to 8 Euro cents per kilowatt hour by 2030. It has been argued that this will only be achievable with the installation of more solar panels on houses, large public buildings and offices. The implementation of solar farms would also accomplish UK government targets, which involves building large arrays of solar panels over empty fields.

In the UK, the installation of renewable energy into the electricity grid has thus far been a slow process. Several of the UK’s present-day coal-fired power stations and aged nuclear reactors will have to be taken out of service by the end of the decade, but efforts to substitute this generation with renewable power has so far evolved sluggishly.

Research from the Grantham Institute has publicised that solar energy could in for an enormous expansion in the UK. Though, this being subject to favourable policies within the government to boost the installation of more solar panels across the country.

Over 495,000 homes across the UK are now solar powered, according to the latest statistics published by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

 

And the offshore wind award goes to…

15 Nov

2013 is set to be a record breaking year for offshore wind power as it is on track to hit a seventh consecutive annual record. The world total was increased by 20% in just the first six months of the year with developers adding 1,080 megawatts of generating capacity. At present fifteen countries host some 6,500 megawatts of offshore wind capacity set to exceed 7,100 megawatts before year end.

In UK waters more than 500 megawatts of new offshore wind power went live in the first six months of 2013, totalling the countries grand total to over 3,400 megawatts. The amount generated is enough to supply more than two million UK homes with power.

The London Array (Check out a previous blog called ‘London Array, the world’s largest offshore wind farm!’) is to thank for the bulk of this new offshore capacity after it completed its first phase. This year it overtook another of the UK’s offshore wind farms, the 500 megawatt ‘Greater Gabbard’ wind farm which was completed in 2012. In total, the good old blighty has some 12,000 megawatts of offshore wind capacity under construction or in earlier development stages.

The United Kingdom is currently top of the charts when it comes to offshore wind capacity, followed by Denmark. Now back in 1991, Denmark was the first country to put wind turbines in the sea as they installed a 5 megawatt project in the Baltic Sea. Since 2008, Denmark’s offshore wind capacity has more than trebled, reaching 1,200 megawatts by mid-2013. At present Denmark gets more than 30% of its electricity from wind (onshore and offshore). They anticipate increasing the share to 50% by 2020. Denmark has the world’s highest wind power capacity per square mile.

In third place we have Belgium who in the first half of 2013 increased their offshore wind capacity by 20%. This totals Belgium’s capacity to 450 megawatts.

China is placed in 4th position after it activated its first offshore wind farm in 2010 reaching an impressive 390 megawatts. China aims to bring 5,000 megawatts of wind capacity to Chinese waters by 2015, expanding to a huge 30,000 megawatts come 2020.

Germany takes 5th position due to their 380 megawatts of offshore wind capacity and the estimated 520 megawatts by year’s end. The German offshore industry anticipates another 1,000 megawatts will connect to the grid in both 2014 and 2015.

Offshore wind is currently gaining huge attention in Japan whose future of nuclear energy is questionable. Potentially by bringing wind power to Japan they would have a huge domestic, carbon free power source. Japan’s offshore wind capacity is currently at 41 megawatts due to a new 16 megawatt project installed in the first half of 2013.

Check out the world ranking figures below!

Earth policy institute – www.earth-policy.org

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