The SEI Solar Sisters String Band rocks out at Solar Battle of the Bands! And other Intersolar updates

In case you missed it… The SEI Solar Sisters String Band made their public debut performing at the 2018 Solar Battle of the Bands! This was a very historical moment for Solar Energy International (SEI). The Solar Sisters String Band proudly represented the SEI Team and our 60,000+ students and alumni from all over the world. What a night!

Check out this video of our SEI ladies warming up at sound check before the big show:

We’re so proud of the solar sisters! Stay tuned for future performances.

Intersolar North America

SEI represented last week at Intersolar North America in San Francisco with a team of 12 at our booth and conducting trainings. Training topics included: PV Systems and the National Electric Code, Large-Scale PV: Considerations and Installation Case Studies, and Practicas Recomendadas por Expertos en la Industria y el NEC 2014. If you missed us at Intersolar, check out our online class schedule and enroll in an online training to start your solar education anywhere, self-paced.

 

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IER Sues Treasury Department for Public Records of Immediate Public Interest

 

WASHINGTON – Today the Institute for Energy Research filed an open records lawsuit against the Department of the Treasury relating to continuing efforts in Washington to quietly advance the “climate” industry. This Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, seeks certain, specific records relating to the “climate risk disclosure” campaign begun in 2012 by various activist groups including Ceres and Rockefeller Financial Asset Management and led by disgraced former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. That agenda, if implemented, would have immense economic and legal consequences.

In order to educate the public on this matter IER requested correspondence of the Director of the Office of Energy & Environment Peter Wisner over two specified periods during 2017 and 2018, which mention particular terms including “Bloomberg task force,” “G20,” “Task Force on Climate-Related Disclosure,” “climate risk disclosure,” and/or “climate financial disclosure.”

As IER noted in the FOIA request, “This request is made to inform the public about an issue of great public interest, particularly the effort of government employees and outside activist networks’ coordination to advance a government policy — ‘climate risk disclosure’ — that would have tremendous economic and legal consequences.”

Treasury was required by law to demonstrate by June 28 that it intends to process the requests, yet failed to do so even after invoking a ten-day extension. Chiefly, Treasury has failed to provide any responsive records and otherwise has failed to meet its statutory obligation under FOIA. Instead, the agency merely acknowledged receipt of the request.

IER President Thomas J. Pyle stated, “Thanks to previous open records requests, we know that the campaign for ‘climate risk disclosure’ began in 2012 by pressure groups, Wall Street interests, and activist politicians led by Mr. Schneiderman. Now we understand that senior Trump administration officials are possibly working to advance this campaign.

“IER intends to educate the public on what role Treasury officials are playing in assisting the move to impose activist-demanded ‘confessions’ by publicly traded companies of their causation of serious, man-made global warming, seeking penance at the hands of a ‘climate’ securities tort bar, and elected officials eager for large settlement funds to politically distribute.”

Attorney Chris Horner, of the public interest law firm Government Accountability & Oversight (GAO), filed the suit on behalf of IER, and has written extensively on the issue, including earlier this year in a Wall Street Journal letter:

“The effective goal [of the climate risk disclosure campaign] is to coerce ‘confessions’ in energy-related interests’ public filings that catastrophic man-made global warming is a real problem of which they constitute a significant part, that their reserves are in fact worth little to nothing and their previous filings and other statements constitute actionable misdeeds, possibly fraud.”

IER looks forward to resolving the Treasury Department’s public obligations sooner rather than later but intends to fully pursue its rights to review these records in an effort to educate the public about the role of public officials in this ideological campaign with implications for the United States economy.

###

For media inquiries, please contact Erin Amsberry
eamsberry@ierdc.org

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China Looks to Increase Natural Gas Consumption and Supply

In 2017, China was the world’s fastest-growing natural gas market. Consumption grew by 15 percent—over twice the rate of economic growth—and  liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports grew by 46 percent. In 2013, under the country’s National Action Plan on Air Pollution Prevention and Control, natural gas became a central part of the Chinese government’s plan for fighting air pollution. China’s thirteenth Five-Year Plan (2016–2020) set goals for increasing the use of natural gas, including almost doubling the share of natural gas in China’s energy mix in five years—providing up to 10 percent of China’s primary energy by 2020 and 15 percent by 2030.

In 2017, natural gas accounted for about 7 percent of China’s primary energy consumption. Over two-thirds of the natural gas consumed in China is used in industry and buildings (mainly for heating) with little used in power generation due to China’s staggering coal-fired capacity in that sector. The Chinese economy relies heavily on coal, which produces more particulate matter and other criteria pollutants than natural gas. Transitioning from coal to natural gas can reduce China’s soot and smog. China suffers from serious air pollution problems.

To implement the plan, China first required 28 cities in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region to replace small coal-fired boilers with natural gas–fired units. An estimated 4 million households switched from coal to natural gas. Beginning in December 2017 through 2021, China is targeting the replacement of these residential coal boilers across northern China. These small boilers are particularly bad at producing pollution, since their combustion is very inefficient.

To increase natural gas’s share of primary energy consumption, the Chinese government has undertaken a process of gradual price liberalization. Natural gas prices for nonresidential customers were liberalized beginning in 2015. In 2017, the government announced that third parties would receive access to pipelines and LNG import terminals.

China’s Push to Natural Gas Created Shortages

During the winter of 2017 to 2018, much of northern China experienced significant natural gas shortages. Millions of homes were temporarily left without heat. One provincial capital suspended heating in government offices, hotels, and shopping malls. Natural gas–fueled taxis and buses waited in long lines. Industrial output was scaled back to divert natural gas to emergency heating in homes and office buildings.

Contributing to the shortage were limited storage capacity, over stretched LNG infrastructure, gas pipeline shortages, colder than average temperatures, lack of market-based price signals due to the gas market being semi-regulated, and inadequate coordination among government officials.

At the end of 2017, China’s underground natural gas storage capacity was 11.7 billion cubic meters—about  5 percent of total consumption. This compares to natural gas storage capacity in the United States of 17 percent of consumption and in Europe of 27 percent.  

At the end of 2017, China had 16 operational LNG receiving terminals with 71 billion cubic meters of annual import capacity along the country’s east coast. During the peak winter months of December and January, the average nationwide utilization rate was above 105 percent and utilization at some northern terminals exceeded 120 percent. Although southern terminals operated at utilization rates of around 70 percent, the pipeline infrastructure to move natural gas from southern terminals to northern demand centers was insufficient. Chinese companies dispatched trucks to deliver LNG from receiving terminals in the south to cities in the north at distances of over a thousand miles and at a cost of over $30 per million Btu during the winter peak demand—almost three times the spot LNG price during this time period.

In the second half of 2017, pipeline gas deliveries from Turkmenistan dropped substantially due to stronger-than-anticipated demand growth and cold weather in Turkmenistan, unplanned outages at a gas processing facility, and an attempt to negotiate better pricing terms. Despite China’s attempts to purchase more supply from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, natural gas pipeline imports from Central Asia remained largely flat during the months of peak winter gas demand.

Natural Gas Production

Most of China’s natural gas supply (about 60 percent) comes from domestic production—almost all from conventional wells. China’s natural gas production increased by nine percent in 2017, but could not keep up with the 15 percent annual growth in natural gas consumption.

Unconventional gas—particularly shale gas—has long-term growth potential in China, but its development has been challenging. China’s shale basins are located in mountainous, arid, remote and also highly populated regions, leading to higher costs. China’s shale is also buried deeper and is more fractured, making it difficult and expensive to extract.

According to the Energy Information Administration, China has the world’s largest shale gas resources at 1115.2 trillion cubic feet (31,579 billion cubic meters). Because of the challenges to producing it, the government subsidizes its production, currently at roughly 20 percent of well-head prices.  

The government’s 2020 target for shale gas production was scaled back from 100 billion cubic meters per year in 2012 to 30 billion cubic meters per year in 2014 due to a number of challenges including difficult terrain, high costs, poor geology, and long distances to markets. One energy consultant predicts that only about 17 billion cubic meters per year of production from shale is attainable by 2020, and would require a near doubling of current production in less than three years.

Helping increase efficiency, Chinese firms can now drill multiple wells at a single pad, known as “well factory” drilling and carry out extended horizontal fracturing up to 3,000 meters. Over the past 8 years, the cost of building a well was nearly halved to an average of under 50 million yuan per well ($7.8 million), and drilling speed has improved by two-thirds to 45 to 60 days. China pumped 9 billion cubic meters of shale gas in 2017—about 6 percent of the country’s total natural gas production.

Source: Forbes

China’s other sources of unconventional natural gas production—coalbed methane and coal gasification—are less likely to materialize over the long run.

Pipeline Imports of Natural Gas

China currently imports natural gas through two pipelines: the Central Asia gas pipeline (from Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan) and the China-Myanmar pipeline. A natural gas pipeline from Russia is currently under construction but is not likely to come on-line until the end of 2019.

In 2017, 39 billion cubic meters of natural gas was delivered by the Central Asia gas pipeline—below the 55 billion cubic meter capacity. Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan have some potential to increase pipeline gas deliveries to China, but producing more natural gas in those countries will take time. Another potential pipeline from Central Asia, known as Line D, could add another 30 billion cubic meters per year import capacity from Turkmenistan. Construction of Line D began in 2014, but the project was delayed in 2016 and suspended in 2017. If the project is completed, the earliest start of deliveries would be 2023 due to uncertainties around construction and timing, and technical difficulties due to the mountainous terrain.

The potential for increased natural gas imports through the China-Myanmar pipeline is also limited with deliveries falling short of the 5.2 billion cubic meter annual contract volume and the high cost of the gas. The Power of Siberia pipeline connecting Russia’s natural gas reserves in Eastern Siberia with China’s northeastern provinces could start deliveries by the end of 2019.  But the ramp up to full capacity—38 billion cubic meters per year of contracted volume—could take well into the mid-2020s. Also, Russia’s eastern gas fields may have a problem of providing the gas when China needs it most during the cold weather months.

Natural Gas Storage

China has plans to increase natural gas storage capacity from about 12 billion cubic meters today to 15 billion cubic meters by 2020 and 35 billion cubic meters by 2030. Last year, the Chinese government began requiring Chinese natural gas companies to build and maintain storage facilities. Upstream companies are required to build storage capacity equal to 10 percent of their annual contracted sales volume and midstream companies (including city gas distributors) are required to provide storage equal to 5 percent of annual consumption. Companies have several years to meet these requirements.

Plans for increasing natural gas storage rely mainly on state-owned enterprises because the financial returns on natural gas storage facilities in China are low. Regulated city-gate prices suppress the seasonal price signals that could incentivize private companies to invest in gas storage.

Although work is underway to expand China’s natural gas storage capacity, there are geological obstacles that limit its growth. In China, depleted oil and gas fields—the most commonly used geological means of storage—are located deep underground, close to densely populated areas or in mountainous regions, which raises safety risks and technical complexity; and the technical expertise to build new facilities is limited.

If the government targets for both natural gas storage capacity and natural gas consumption are met, storage is expected to reach 6 percent of consumption in 2030, compared to just over 5 percent today.

LNG Infrastructure

Analysts generally expect China’s LNG demand to reach 80 to 147 metric tons per annum (109 to 200 billion cubic meters per year) by 2030—roughly two to four times greater than the 38 metric tons per annum (mtpa) consumed in 2017. In most forecasts, China overtakes Japan (which imported 84 metric tons per annum of LNG last year) as the world’s largest LNG importing country in the mid- to late 2020s.

Five new or expanded regasification terminals are scheduled to come on-line in 2018. Several additional terminals are under construction or expanding capacity, with projected online dates between 2019 and 2021. China’s LNG import capacity could increase by half through the early 2020s. Because only about a quarter of China’s new import capacity is in the northern regions, parallel development of the domestic gas pipeline network is also needed. Plans call for an expansion of China’s natural gas pipeline network by 99,000 kilometers (about 60,000 miles) between 2015 and 2025.

Conclusion

China is expected to become the world’s leading LNG importer over the next decade.  Government natural gas targets imply strong demand growth for at least the next decade—although infrastructure constraints could limit consumption in the short and medium terms.  China is developing its vast shale gas resources to help meet demand.

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Solar Energy International (SEI) opens its first International Solar Training Center in Costa Rica

With this facility SEI seeks to accelerate and expand access to solar training to Spanish speakers throughout Latin America

CARTAGO, COSTA RICA- Solar Energy International (SEI), an industry leader in solar energy technical training, opened its first International Solar Training Center in Costa Rica through a partnership with CFIA (Federated College of Engineers and Architects of Costa Rica) and CIEMI (College of Electrical, Mechanical and Industrial Engineers).

This new training facility will accelerate and expand access to world-class solar training to Spanish speakers throughout Latin America, building a strong solar industry in the region with qualified workforce in line with SEI’s vision of a world powered by renewable energy. Since the beginning of SEI’s Spanish Program in 2013, SEI has trained over 9,000 Spanish speakers, empowering Latin Americans with solar education, which has increased energy access for their communities.

The Solar Training Center SEI-CFIA is located in the province of Cartago, Costa Rica, inside the facilities of CFIA’s Integral Training Center Uxarrací.

The center is fully equipped with the best tools to construct, commission and test solar electric arrays. It has 3 solar PV systems installed in compliance with the US National Electrical Code (NEC), which allows students to learn about the most up-to-date design and safety parameters. The systems are composed of leading technologies and popular products available internationally for students to build and wire photovoltaic arrays from the roof up.

As it is SEI’s commitment to bring the highest level of safety and training to Latin America, the center is constructed in compliance with OSHA regulations modeling the safest possible working environment for the students’ learning experience. Equipment to teach safest procedures such as harnesses, electric insulating gloves, helmets and protective glasses are available and required for all students.

Industry professionals hired as instructors take SEI’s leading curriculum and apply it for Latin American students to take a hands-on approach to system assembly, wiring and commissioning.  As photovoltaic arrays are modular, they are able to extrapolate the system to much larger sizes and capacities.

Marco Calvo, President of CIEMI Board of Directors said in regard the opening of the new center:
“By partnering with SEI, we are fulfilling the responsibility to offer our community the security that things are being done as they should, with high quality professional standards. From CIEMI we seek to offer solutions to the professionals of the solar industry so that they are able to build efficient, safe and reliable installations. The solar industry is growing in Costa Rica and in Latin America, and we want our workforce to be prepared to occupy the new jobs that the sector generates. We trust in the trajectory of SEI and the quality of its instructors to provide qualified education”.

Matthew Harris, LatAm Business Development Director, said:
“The Costa Rica campus is an invaluable opportunity for SEI to bring high quality PV education to a growing Latin American market. Over 26 years of time-tested and evolving techniques stand behind SEI’s academic and hands-on curriculum. It is SEI’s mission to bring solar electricity to people around the world empowering people, business and communities”

Enrollments to take SEI’s spanish courses in Costa Rica are now open. To learn more, contact the SEI Spanish Program Student Service team at programahispano@solarenergy.org or call +1-970-527-7657 xt. 8.

About Solar Energy International: SEI was founded in 1991 as a nonprofit educational organization with the mission to provide industry-leading technical training and expertise in renewable energy to empower people, communities and businesses worldwide. SEI envisions a world powered by renewable energy. To learn more about the Spanish Program visit www.solarenergy.org/es

About CFIA: The Federated College of Engineers and Architects of Costa Rica ensures the excellence and decorum of its members, for the development of an efficient, responsible and interdisciplinary professional exercise of engineering and architecture, to contribute to the security and sustainable progress of Costa Rica.

About CIEMI: The College of Electrical, Mechanical and Industrial Engineers (CIEMI) is one of the five colleges that make up the Federated College of Engineers and Architects of Costa Rica. The role of the CIEMI is to regulate the professional practice of all those professional areas of engineering that are attached to this school in Costa Rica and that currently correspond to 28 specialties.

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Electricity Bills in South Australia and Other Australian States Skyrocket

Like many European countries, South Australia is betting on renewable energy for its electricity, closing coal plants in favor of less carbon sources, with the outcome that its residents are becoming energy poor due to skyrocketing electricity prices. The region’s reliance on subsidized, intermittent and unreliable wind and solar power has resulted in skyrocketing power prices. Over 100,000 Australian families had their power cut off last year, and another 100,000 are on payment plans with their power providers, making over 200,000 residents energy poor in one of the most energy-rich nations in the world. 109,000 Australian households had their electricity disconnected last year because they were unable to afford their electricity bills, which included over $3 billion in subsidies for Chinese- made solar panels and wind turbines. Electricity bills include the cost of generating power, transmitting it through high-voltage lines, distributing it to homes and businesses, and government subsidies provided to encourage development of renewable energy.

 

Retail electricity prices of NEM states

Source: Stop These Things Note: Prices in Australian dollars. One Australian dollar equals 0.74 U.S. dollars.

 

In Victoria, one of Melbourne’s bayside pubs is rationing its heating and cooling and cutting down on staff because of power bills that have reached $24,000 a month. The pub will have to sell over 120 additional pots of beer each day to keep pace with power bills that have tripled from $8000 a month after last year’s closure of the Hazelwood coal power plant. The closure of the 1600-megawatt Hazelwood plant in March 2017 resulted in the loss of over 20 percent of the state’s generation capacity. The electricity company blames the closure of the Hazelwood plant for the tripling of the pub’s power bill.

In Victoria, average retail household power bills increased almost 16 percent to $1275 compared to a year earlier. Average wholesale prices in 2017 increased 85 percent in Victoria (VIC) and 32 percent in South Australia (SA). Average wholesale prices in New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland (QLD) increased 63 percent and 53 percent, respectively.

Prior to the Hazelwood plant’s closure, the plant’s access to low-cost coal kept power prices among the lowest in the electricity market that supplies eastern Australia. Without the Hazelwood plant, the region became a net importer of electricity in the second half of 2017. To cope with the loss of coal-fired electricity, 500 percent more natural gas was used for power generation in 2017 and renewable energy surged, particularly roof-top solar as consumers looked to alternate sources rather than their power supplier.

Average Annualized Wholesale Electricity Prices, 2014-2018

average annualized wholesale electricity prices 2014-2018

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald
Note: Annualized over 12 months ending in February

 

Conclusion

South Australia, Victoria, and other Australian states are suffering from high electricity prices and potential blackouts because of their unsustainable mix of intermittent renewable energy with insufficient back-up power. Because of high electricity prices and energy poverty, residents with the help of the government are looking towards solar rooftop panels and home storage batteries, which are also costly, to form a virtual power plant and hopefully lower prices.

The United States should learn from Australia’s experience and not be too hasty at turning its generating sector over to intermittent renewable energy. Wind and solar power represent almost 8 percent of the current U.S. generating mix, which so far has not destabilized the grid. But, costly tax credits for wind power have caused negative electricity prices that have resulted in traditional technologies, at times, being uncompetitive.  Wind generators are awarded tax credits equivalent to cash from taxpayers for generating power even when there is no financial need for it. Without the proper back-up power and policies that support it, the United States could end up facing similar cost and unreliability issues and challenges as these Australian states.

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Ocean City Wants Invisible Offshore Wind Turbines

Over a year ago, the Maryland Public Service Commission approved wind turbines to be located in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Ocean City, Maryland, and the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has been reviewing those plans. But the town of Ocean City is creating a problem for the wind developer by requiring the turbines to be located at least 26 nautical miles offshore—about twice the distance planned—so that they cannot be seen by tourists that flock to the peninsula during the summer months. U.S. Wind, the developer, has offered the town incentives, including ‘free’ electricity, to get the town to renege on its stance but there is no agreement in sight.

Even the offer of other community investments worth hundreds of thousands of dollars each year and an offer to alter its plans if Ocean City agreed to cover the costs of seeking new government approvals could not help U.S. Wind achieve agreement from Ocean City officials. Town officials fear that tourists will abandon Ocean City and flock to other beaches if its horizon is speckled with huge wind turbines. According to U.S. Wind, building that far offshore would require starting from scratch on an offshore leasing process that began in 2010.

According to Ocean City officials, however, the community benefit package that U.S. Wind offered is vague and undefined. They conclude that the money would be better spent on figuring out a way to move the wind turbines further east. They also note that any offers to supply ‘free’ electricity have been vague, not clearly defined and would potentially violate state and federal law.

The Maryland Public Service Commission approved subsidies, to be paid by ratepayers, last year for two offshore wind projects that would add about $1 to average monthly residential electricity bills across the state, which are a necessary part to financing these very expensive projects. The commission approved 62 turbines at least 14 miles off the coast of Ocean City to be developed by U.S. Wind—a $1.4 billion project—and a 15-turbine, $720 million project by Skipjack Offshore Wind LLC to be situated north of the U.S. Wind project.

Despite the approval by the Maryland Public Service Commission, U.S. Wind now claims they will build just 32 turbines at least 17 nautical miles from shore.  U.S. Wind’s original proposal was planned to maximize the project’s profitability, but the company is scaling-back those plans because the market will not bear its larger proposal.

Earlier this year, Ocean City officials pushed for a bill in the Maryland assembly that would have prohibited offshore wind turbines within 30 miles of the coast, but the bill did not make it out of committee. They also asked the Public Service Commission to reconsider the project because of an increase in the proposed turbines’ height–from 200 feet to about 370 feet. Since the offshore wind farms were first approved by the Maryland General Assembly in 2010, the height of the proposed turbines increased due to new technology, making them more visible to those onshore.

U.S. Wind still has several regulatory hurdles it needs to clear to get federal approval, including the presentation of a construction and operation plan to BOEM.

Offshore Wind Power is Expensive

According to the Energy Information Administration, offshore wind turbines are the second most expensive generating technology that the agency considers in its Annual Energy Outlook, behind only solar thermal. The agency estimates that the levelized generating cost of an offshore wind turbine coming on-line in 2022 would be 13.8 cents per kilowatt hour in 2017 dollars—almost 3 times more than a natural gas combined cycle plant and more than twice as much as onshore wind. Transporting and installing turbines on land is significantly easier than constructing foundations and installing turbines at sea—particularly when offshore turbines are becoming much larger.

Offshore projects are massive in scale and size, work has to be performed in a highly corrosive marine environment under variable conditions and installing foundations in seabed of 35 or more meters below sea level is difficult. Performing this work requires a specialized port infrastructure, logistic service providers, construction and maintenance vessels, helicopters and related aviation resources, and other assets. Further, general marine facilities must be strengthened and otherwise upgraded to handle large turbines and foundations. And, offshore wind development has unique transmission concerns, which also add to its cost.

Conclusion

In order for Maryland to reach its goal of 25 percent of its electricity being generated by renewable sources by 2020, it is estimated that at least 2.5 percent will need to come from offshore wind. Maryland electricity consumers and taxpayers will be paying more for electricity produced from these offshore wind farms due to their higher cost and subsidization. For reference, Germany and Denmark—pioneers in offshore wind development—have residential electricity prices that are three times higher than those in the United States. Maryland seems to want to become the state with the first large wind farms despite the higher cost and the failure of the now-cancelled Cape Wind project off Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

A previous article on Maryland’s offshore wind development can be found here.

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Renewables Cannot Even Fill the Void of Retiring Nuclear Plants

According to BP’s 2018 edition of its Statistical Review of World Energy, renewable energy has not been able to fill the void created by retiring nuclear plants despite its large growth in 2017. As a result, the share of non-carbon power generation has fallen slightly over the past 20 years. The data is further evidence that energy sources such as wind and solar cannot replace coal and other fossil fuels and will not lead to significant reductions in carbon dioxide emissions despite decades of subsidies. Despite non-hydroelectric renewable generation increasing by 17 percent, wind and solar accounted for only six percent of total electricity globally.

Public and private entities spent $1.1 trillion on solar and over $900 billion on wind between 2007 and 2016. Global investment in these renewable sources was about $300 billion per year between 2010 and 2016. The $2 trillion in solar and wind investment during the past 10 years represents an amount similar to the global investment in nuclear power over the past 54 years, which totals about $1.8 trillion.

 

declining power from clean energy

Source: Forbes

 

Global Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Global energy demand grew 2.2 percent last year–above the 10-year average of 1.7 percent—and up from the previous year’s 1.2 percent increase, due to faster economic growth in both developed and developing countries. The energy demand growth and continued use of fossil fuels increased carbon dioxide emissions by 1.6 percent in 2017 to a new record of 33.4 billion metric tons, after remaining relatively stable for three years.

China and India accounted for nearly half of the increase in global carbon dioxide emissions. The largest increase in carbon dioxide emissions in 2017 were from China (1.6 percent increase), which was a reversal from the past three years when the largest increases in emissions came from India. China’s emissions in 2017 were 0.3 percent higher than the previous peak in 2014. The next highest increment came from India where carbon dioxide emissions increased by 4.4 percent.

Carbon dioxide emissions in the European Union were up by 1.5 percent with Spain accounting for 44 percent of the increase. Germany’s carbon dioxide emissions also increased over the past two years, despite spending $200 billion on renewable energy over the past two decades. Germany is not expected to reach its goal of reducing carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2020 compared to 1990 levels. Germany’s Energiewende (energy transition to renewable energy from fossil fuels and nuclear power) has cost the average German an estimated $2,500 without reaching its goals.

Carbon dioxide emissions in the United States decreased by 0.5 percent. It was the third year in a row that the carbon dioxide emissions in the United States declined. This is the ninth time in this century that the United States has had the largest decline in emissions in the world. Carbon dioxide emissions from energy use from the United States are the lowest since 1992.

Global Coal Consumption

Coal consumption increased one percent in 2017 due to the opening of new coal-fired generating units in China and India. This was the first increase in coal consumption in 4 years. However, it was still 3.5 percent less than its peak level in 2013. Coal’s share of global power generation was 38 percent in 2017—the same as in 1998. Its share had increased in the intervening years when China hit its very high years of economic growth but fell slightly over the past few years, ending at its starting point two decades ago. Coal consumption declined in the United States and the European Union, but increased 0.5 percent in China. China remains the world’s top coal market, with the country consuming 50.7 percent of the world’s coal in 2017.

 

Global coal consumption and production

Source: Vox

 

Global Oil Production and Consumption

Oil production cuts by OPEC and non-OPEC countries of almost 1 million barrels per day in 2017 were offset by increased production from the United States and other countries of 1.5 million barrels per day. A new oil production record of 92.6 million barrels per day was reached in 2017–the eight straight year global oil production increased. In 2017, the United States was the world’s top oil producer when natural gas liquids are included, exceeding 13 million barrels per day, followed by Saudi Arabia at 12.0 million barrels per day, and Russia at 11.3 million barrels per day.

Oil demand grew by 1.7 million barrels per day, and totaled 98.2 billion barrels per day in 2017. Oil consumption includes biofuels and fuels derived from coal and natural gas. U.S. consumption increased by 1.0 percent, leading the world at 19.9 million barrels per day. China’s demand increased by 4 percent to a new record of 12.8 million barrels per day.

Natural Gas Production and Consumption

Natural gas consumption grew by three percent to a new record of 355 billion cubic feet per day—the fastest growth since 2010. China’s gas consumption increased by 15 percent. Natural gas production increased by 4 percent. The United States led all countries in both production and consumption of natural gas.

Global Solar and Wind Power Generation

Global solar power generation increased by 35 percent and global wind power generation increased by 17 percent in 2017.

 

Share of global electricity generation by fuel

Source: Vox

 

Conclusion

2017 was a year of record oil consumption, natural gas consumption and solar and wind power consumption. But, despite record growth in wind and solar power, carbon dioxide emissions grew 1.6 percent due to declining nuclear power production. Renewable energy could not replace retiring nuclear units in 2017 due to its intermittency and lower capacity factors and therefore is unlikely to meet global demand anytime in the foreseeable future, despite opposite claims by environmentalists. As a result, both global coal consumption and global natural gas consumption increased in 2017.

Interestingly, the United States, which President Trump removed from the Paris Accord last year, had the largest carbon dioxide emissions decline in the world, while the European Union’s emissions went up, along with those of China and India, and the world as a whole.

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