Arno's EnergyIdeas (46)
Upwind for Renewable Energies
The year 2008 was the most successful one for renewable energy (RE). In only one year, grid-connected solar PV capacity rose six fold to 13 GW, wind power capacity increased by 250% to 121 GW, solar hot water by 15 %. Heat and electricity from biomass and geothermal energy continue to grow, small hydro increased by 8%. That was reported by Eric Martinot and Janet Sawin in the Renewables Global Status Report 2009 Update, (see link below). Hydrogen is not mentioned in this study, especially since hydrogen is not even generated sustainable at this time.
One of 44 Neg Micon turbines at the Mountaineer Wind Energy Center in Thomas, West Virginia, USA
Photo: Arno A. Evers FAIR-PR
The annual investment in new capacity of renewables quadrupled, to U.S.-$ 120 billion (€ 85 billion). Perhaps one of the most notable milestones for 2008 was the fact, that investment in renewable energy represented more than 50% added power capacity in both the United States and Europe. That means, more new capacity has been created in new renewable energy capacity than for gas, coal, oil and nuclear combined.
Noteworthy were also several other global changes in certain markets: Germany has passed over its world's leadership in wind power, which we kept since the mid-90's, to the U.S., which has built over 8.4 GW in a year and thus reaches 25 GW installed capacity. Germany was still close behind with 24 GW installed, followed by Spain, China and India. China moved from sixth to fourth place in 2008 when the country's wind power capacity in its fifth year in a row doubled to 12 GW. China reached its original target for 2010 of 10 GW already two years in advance. A similar trend took place in the auto industry, where the projected 6 million in China-produced cars have been achieved three years ahead of schedule.
More than 80 countries around the world now have commercial wind turbines, with Mongolia and Pakistan as two of the most recent additions. The existing offshore wind capacity reached 1.5 GW in 2008, almost exclusively in Europe, with 360 MW in 2008 newly installed. The United Kingdom is leader in offshore wind power.
In grid-connected solar PV (photovoltaic), Spain became the clear market leader, with 2.6 GW of new capacity added. The country installed half of the global additions of 5.4 GW in 2008. Spain`s unprecedented surge surpassed the former PV leader Germany. Other major markets were in the United States (310 MW), South Korea (200-270 MW), Japan (240 MW) and Italy (200-300 MW). Markets in Australia, Canada, China, France and India continued to grow. Worldwide, there were a total of over 16 GW installed solar PV by the end of 2008.
Spain has also led to a boom in "utility scale" solar PV power stations (defined as greater than 200 kW), which emerged in large numbers around the world in 2008. Of these, there were approximately 1800 such facilities online by the end of 2008, compared to 1,000 in 2007. The majority of utility-scale plants were installed in Spain. Other countries were the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Korea, Portugal and the United States. The Spanish Olmedilla de Alarcon Plant, put into service in 2008, is now the world's largest solar PV system. In several European countries the building-integrated PV (BIPV), a small but rapidly growing segment, led now a further boom.
The United States remained the world leader in geothermal energy, with more than 120 projects in development. More geothermal projects have been launched in over 40 countries, with a further 3 GW in the pipeline. Worldwide geothermal energy has reached a capacity of over 10 GW in 2008.
Leadership in solar thermal power plants (Concentrating Solar Power, CSP) is now shared between the United States and Spain. Two new CSP plants came online in 2008 - the 50 MW Andasol 1 plant in Spain and a further 5 MW demonstration plant in California. A number of other projects will go on the grid in 2009, including two further 50 MW units in Spain and 20 MW of CSP, integrated with a 450-MW natural gas combined-cycle power plant in Morocco. An important trend is that a growing number of these new solar thermal power plants will now also include thermal storage to provide electricity also in the evening hours. The completed Andasol 1 plant in Spain, for example, has a thermal storage capacity for more than seven hours at full load.
This brings us to „our“subject. The "true doctrine", says us, and this since the mid-70s, that hydrogen is the ideal storage and/or energy carrier for electricity generation. However, in the above study, hydrogen is not mentioned at all. That is indeed true, hydrogen has to be created first to become an energy carrier. If someone wants to call hydrogen green or renewable, it has to be produced real green and real renewable. Considering the method in which hydrogen is currently produced global, it can and will never appear in a statistics on renewable energy. There must be initially many changes, not only in the technology of hydrogen production, but also in the minds of all stakeholders.
Truly remarkable efforts together with significant budgets as well as remarkable manpower have to be made to implement and realize new ideas in a new green hydrogen production. (and here I mean those companies, institutions, timeframes and manpower currently and in future involved in sustainable H2 production). Only then, it is a question of time until we win a place in the future energy landscape. If not initiated in a rather short term, regardless of where and by whom, all the previous investments in hydrogen and fuel cells can prove to have been a blunder. Then the existing energy system might begin to use Redux flow batteries, scalable up to a MW range, or even air pressure storage solutions. Why should they not?
The modern renewable energy industry is now defined, and this was not given as a gift to all participating parties, by many analysts as a sector with a "guaranteed growth". Let us hope, that we in the areas of hydrogen and fuel cells, one day can also look with great optimism into the future.
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