Friday, October 19, 2012

Saudi Arabia reveals plans to be power country entirely by renewable energy

Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil producer, has plans to become 100% powered by renewable and low-carbon forms of energy, according to an influential member of the royal family.

Saudi Arabia's energy use is almost entirely from fossil fuels at present, with about two-thirds coming from oil and the remainder from gas. The state produces close to 12m barrels of oil a day, representing more than 12% of world crude production, and has about one-fifth of the world's oil reserves, according to the US government's Energy Information Administration. Energy use per person within the kingdom is also high by world standards, because energy prices are kept so low.

As Prince Turki noted, however, the kingdom has vast potential for using solar power. "The cost of solar energy is now 15% of what it was 20 years ago," he noted. Saudi Arabia has also signed memoranda of understanding – though no final deal as yet – with Argentina over nuclear energy.
But despite his commitment to advancing renewable energy in the Middle East, Prince Turki – who served as director of Saudi Arabia's intelligence services for more than 20 years and has also been an ambassador to the UK and the US – was also clear that the rest of the world was likely to continue to rely on fossil fuels for many years to come. "No country can ban itself from any one form of energy," he said.

One of the other potentially important technologies for Saudi Arabia is carbon capture and storage, as depleted oil fields could be used as storage for compressed carbon dioxide, but it has so far made little progress. The prince said the development of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology should be seen as an international effort rather than the responsibility of single countries.

Nebjsa Nakicenovic, deputy chief of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, said CCS was likely to be a vital technology around the world. Though he acknowledged there could be problems, as the technology is still unproven, he warned: "Do not discount CCS."

On renewables, Nakicenovic said the world should aim to generate 30% of energy from sustainable renewable sources by 2030. That would represent more than a doubling of current renewable energy usage, because although on paper about 15% of energy now comes from renewable sources, this includes a large amount of biomass – mostly wood, dung and other waste – burned in developing countries. Much of this is unsustainable, and requires a significant use of resources in foraging for firewood. "So [the target] is very ambitious, but doable," he said.

Source: The Guardian

Thursday, October 18, 2012

SaskPower CEO says solar not a feasible option yet, but wind could be an option

The CEO of SaskPower says despite comments by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the technology just isn't there yet to make solar power a part of their fleet.

Kennedy told a Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations conference that Saskatchewan should be focusing more on wind and solar power and less on coal power.

Robert Watson says SaskPower is investigating solar technology, but says there are technical problems. He says Saskatchewan is too far north on the curvature of the earth for solar technology to be effective. He also says in the winter time, it's too dark for too long for solar energy to be useful.

Watson says wind power will become a major player in their fleet down the road. "By the time we finish adding our 177 megawatt wind farm down near Swift Current, we will have about 8 1/2 per cent of our spinning reserve wind, which is almost higher than anybody in Canada."

SaskPower does plan on reducing coal from their fleet. Watson says over the next 10 to 15 years, coal will eventually account for 35 per cent of SaskPower's output. Kennedy suggested Saskatchewan relies too much on coal-burning power plants and needs to move toward cleaner energy. "The issue is the illusion that you have cheap coal here," he said. "Coal is heavily subsidized and it's imposing far greater costs on the people of Saskatchewan. If you took the whole community costs, it would be much cheaper to power this province on wind and solar."

Kennedy, nephew of former U.S. president John F. Kennedy, is currently serving as a senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council in America.

Source: Canadian Press

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

First Nations wind project moves forward

The Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq Chiefs, via Kwilmu'kw Maw-klusuaqn Negotiations Office, received approval today, September 18, 2012, for a wind project under the Community Feed-in Tariff (COMFIT) Program. Benefits will be shared within the local community and Mi'kmaq communities throughout Nova Scotia.

"This project approval means that the KMK and Wind4All can generate renewable electricity that will stay right here in the Amherst area,” Said Brian Skabar, MLA for Cumberland North. “Clean, green electricity is already successfully powering homes and businesses in the Amherst area, and this project will increase those benefits for the community."

The 6.0 MW project will be developed by the Kwilmu'kw Maw-klusuaqn (KMK) Mi'kmaq in partnership with Wind4all Communities.

"This COMFIT approval from the Department of Energy not only speaks to the quality of our Amherst Project but, more importantly, it speaks to the value and significance of our partnership with the KMK and Mi'kmaq," said Austen Hughes, general manager, Wind4All Communities.

"Through the Amherst project, the Mi'kmaq will become long-term and knowledgeable partners in the renewable energy sector," said Chief Gerard Julian, co-chair of the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq Chiefs. "As project owners, we will be expanding our ability to continue to preserve Nova Scotian resources and protect the environment for generations to come."

The Province has supported the Mi'kmaq renewal energy project development by providing $200,000 to create a Mi'kmaq Renewable Energy Strategy and $2 million for a Mi'kmaq Major Resource and Energy Fund. Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq and the province will also hold a renewable energy seminar November 21, 2012. For more information on the seminar contact the Office of Aboriginal Affairs at 424-4174.

The 2010 Renewable Electricity Plan introduced the COMFIT concept to help provide a secure supply of clean energy at stable prices, build community support for renewable energy projects and create jobs.

"COMFIT offers Nova Scotia an opportunity to become a leader in renewable energy," said Energy Minister Charlie Parker. "In addition, renewable energy projects such as this will help the province move away from dirty fossil fuels and towards our legislated goal of 40 per cent renewable energy by 2020."

Eligible groups receive an established price per kilowatt hour for projects producing electricity from certain renewable resources. Projects can include wind, biomass, in-stream tidal and run-of-the-river hydroelectric developments. Eligible groups include municipalities, First Nations, co-operatives, universities and not-for-profit groups.

More than 25 community-based groups have submitted over 100 locally based renewable energy development proposals for this unique, made-in-Nova Scotia initiative. The province expects 100 megawatts to be produced through COMFIT.

Source: Government of Nova Scotia Press Release