IEA: Wind Will Be Europe’s Largest Energy Source by 2027

Wind is set to become the European Union’s largest source of electricity within a decade, according to International Energy Agency Executive Director Fatih Birol.

“With the initiatives coming from Brussels and the hard work of the industry, we expect wind will be the largest source [in] less than 10 years, just after 2025, in Europe,” he said.

The estimate, unveiled in Hamburg, Germany, at European wind industry association WindEurope’s Global Wind Summit, was a marked change from the IEA’s last projection.

In its 2017 World Energy Outlook, the agency predicted wind would overtake other European energy sources “soon after 2030."

In a press note, WindEurope later clarified that the IEA’s new estimate for wind dominance was 2027. The more optimistic outlook is based on a recently agreed EU target of 32 percent renewable energy by 2030.

According to the IEA, wind electricity generation in the region will more than triple, to 1.1 petawatt-hours, by 2040. This is equivalent to the entire electricity supply of Japan today, Birol pointed out.

By 2040, the IEA estimates wind will account for around 31 percent of total electricity generation in Europe, while nuclear and gas will account for a further 17 percent each. Other renewables, mostly bioenergy, will supply around 23 percent.

Finally, solar will cover about 8 percent of Europe’s electricity needs, and coal will meet the remaining 4 percent or so of demand.

The bulk of Europe’s upcoming wind capacity will be offshore, the IEA believes, with the EU accounting for most of an estimated 200 gigawatts that will have come online worldwide by 2040.

It is unclear if the IEA considers the U.K., a major offshore player, to still be part of the EU by then. The surge in offshore installations will be driven by offshore’s ability to tap into stronger, more consistent winds with increasingly large turbines, said Birol.

“Our hope is developments in Europe can spark a wave of offshore wind appetite out of Europe,” he said, citing China, India and North and Latin America as potential growth markets. “Offshore wind opens a door for a new push for hydrogen,” he added.

Hydrogen production could be an agenda item when Japan hosts its first-ever G20 Summit in June next year, he said. Meanwhile, policymakers around the world are expected to become increasingly concerned with integrating intermittent renewables onto the grid.

Already in 2016, Ireland and Denmark were dealing with wind-plus-PV penetrations of more than 20 percent. This put the countries in "Phase 4" of system integration, according to IEA — a phase requiring advanced technologies to ensure grid reliability.

Germany, Italy, the U.K. and the EU itself were all in Phase 3, with wind and solar covering more than 10 percent of demand and electricity networks needing investments in power plant, storage, grid and demand-side flexibility.

In contrast, according to the IEA, the U.S., Australia, Brazil, China and India were still in Phase 2, drawing on existing thermal, hydro and grid flexibility to integrate single-digit percentages of wind and solar.

In Phase 1 countries, such as Russia or South Korea, where wind and solar penetration is in the low single digits, system integration is still not an issue, according to the IEA.

Grid integration is expected to become a more widespread concern in the runup to 2040, though, as global economies bet heavily on electrification.

By 2040, China and India alone are expected to add as much electricity generating capacity as the U.S. and EU combined today.

“India, in 20 years, is adding one entire Europe” to global electricity demand, said Birol. “China is adding one United States. Therefore, decisions that will be taken in Beijing or New Delhi will be critical in terms of which power sectors, which technologies, we see.”

Drilling down, the IEA believes much of this rising electricity demand will come from a single appliance: the air conditioning unit. What will supply that demand is still unclear, but “we think onshore and offshore wind have huge potential,” Birol said.

“We are just at the beginning of the story.”

Councillors see red over Highland Council's green failings

CouncilHIGHLAND Council chiefs have admitted bungling in their quest to cut the organisation’s carbon output.

They have confessed to gaps in data recording over the past three years which have made it impossible to get a grip on the scale of the emissions.

Planning director Stuart Black, who oversees the process, gave the council’s audit and scrutiny committee a pledge that it would not be allowed to happen – for a fourth successive year.

The council must comply with a UK-wide “carbon reduction commitment efficiency scheme” for its duration – before that is abolished next April and replaced with a climate change levy.

A report to councillors explained how monitoring of public buildings fitted with solar panels was incomplete.

Some “data” was calculated for two sites that were deleted the previous year.

Despite previous agreed action, “no record of eligible sites has been established,” the report stated.

It added: “There is no definitive site list.

“There is no robust system in place to capture meter readings for renewable energy from photovoltaic solar panels.”

Mr Black offered an apology for the audit’s revelations.

Council leader Margaret Davidson told colleagues: “Our carbon emissions are more than they should be and it’s costing us a lot of money.

“That can’t be changed unless we’ve got accurate management and record keeping.”

She said she would request that officials review the processes, how decisions are made within the relevant department and the scrutiny of the work it does.

Speaking afterwards, councillor Roddy Balfour, a colleague in the minority independent administration said it amounted to “gross incompetence”.

He said he hoped the audit and scrutiny committee, which is chaired by opposition SNP councillor Graham MacKenzie, would ensure that the issues would be urgently addressed and keep the council within national guidelines associated with climate change policies.

Highlands and Islands Green MSP John Finnie, a former councillor, said: “The council’s latest bungle is seriously concerning.

“It’s failed to collect data which is necessary to assess its contribution to tackling climate change. A commitment that ‘it would not be allowed to happen for a fourth successive year’ is cold comfort. It should not have been allowed to get to this stage.

“Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised. When the council does collect information it regularly ignores it – all too evident in the shambles that is their public toilet closure plan.

“Let’s hope the appointment of a new chief executive will bring a renewed focus on evidencing decisions, by both collecting the appropriate evidence and acting on it.”

Borders Council education director Donna Manson takes over the council’s top job from Steve Barron who is to retire in November.

n A separate audit has exposed a raft of problems involving council credit card use.

It revealed poor practice including card holders failing to get VAT receipts.

Council convener Bill Lobban told colleagues on the audit and scrutiny committee it was “a particularly serious matter,” with a quarter of sample cards studied not being compliant.

City councillor Duncan Macpherson suggested that “pilfering” was a common problem for many organisation, adding that he was sure the council was not exempt from that.

New deal will see North Lanarkshire rubbish help to power national grid

More than 80 per cent of general household waste will be converted into energy in a new contract between North Lanarkshire Council and Viridor Waste Management.

The contract will see 64,000 tonnes of waste from homes and household waste recycling centres treated every year.

This material, which would previously have gone to landfill, will be treated at Viridor’s new Energy Recovery Facility in Dunbar, where it is converted into energy.

In December 2019, North Lanarkshire Council and four other Scottish local authorities will begin a 25-year partnership with Viridor to treat and process their residual waste at Dunbar, through the Clyde Valley Residual Waste Contract.

The waste received from North Lanarkshire over the next few months will help commission and optimise the new facility.

Andrew McPherson, head of the council’s Regulatory Services and Waste Solutions, said: “This is a major step forward for the council in diverting the majority of our household waste from landfill.

“Our residents are helping us to recycle more plastic, paper, metal and glass through our kerbside service, but previously the rubbish from general waste bins went to landfill which is expensive and bad for the environment.

“Now, more than 80 per cent of that general waste will be converted into energy which feeds directly into the national grid to power homes and businesses.

“Through the Clyde Valley Residual Waste Contract with Viridor, we are securing long-term financial and environmental benefits in North Lanarkshire and other partner areas.”

Viridor’s £177million facility at Dunbar will generate 30MW of low carbon energy every year into the national grid – enough to continuously power 39,000 homes.

Viridor’s head of Local Authority Contracts Scotland, Steven Don, said: “Recycling and energy recovery are both crucial and equally important components of Scotland’s waste and resource management systems.

“It’s important to achieve a responsible and resource-efficient way to deal with the materials that businesses and householders throw away.”

Hydrogen Production - Hurdles and Opportunities

Hydrogen production could help balance intermittent energy generation, says Policy Exchange

Scotland and North East England offer the best opportunities for successful hydrogen production hubs, while investment in cost-effective hydrogen production technologies – such as electrolysis – would open up export opportunities, according to a new report from Policy Exchange.

Fuelling the Future, by Policy Exchange’s senior energy and environment research fellow Joshua Burke, recommended that:

  • Without coordinated leadership on a hydrogen economy from industry and central government (targeted at lowering the cost of sustainable production), the UK will not benefit from the big opportunities to decarbonise.

  • As part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, investment should be focused on R&D to lower the cost of hydrogen production via methods like electrolysis, which has the potential to provide flexible services to help balance intermittent renewable energy.

  • New analysis by Policy Exchange suggests that if natural gas used in industry was completely replaced by hydrogen, industrial emissions could drop by 71%. However, more research and investment in infrastructure is needed to reduce the cost of hydrogen production and make this cost-effective for businesses.

  • In the short term, long distance freight offers the best opportunities for implementing hydrogen use at scale, and national and local government should work with the private sector to invest in the necessary refuelling network as well as innovation grants for pilot programmes.

  • Hydrogen production using electrolysers and ‘spare’ curtailed wind can replace less than 1% of the gas used in domestic heating, while production using fossil fuels is incompatible with domestic decarbonisation targets without carbon capture and storage (CCS). Scotland and the North East of England are the best places in the country for decarbonised hydrogen production hubs using renewable energy and/or CCS so the Government should consider targeting investment there.

A spokesperson for Uniper, which sponsored the report, said: “We’ve been looking at how renewable electricity can be converted to hydrogen and injected into the gas network, to address the challenging question of how to decarbonise heat. Today’s report throws a spotlight on some of the exciting opportunities presented by the emerging hydrogen economy – but like us, it is also clear about the investment and leadership that are crucial if the potential is to be realised.”

More on the hydrogen economy

Cadent plan would see a fifth of gas in northwest replaced with hydrogen

UK should take leadership in using hydrogen, argues IMechE

From New Power Report: energy issues in a switch to hydrogen gas

Hydrogen grid? Think about power – and gas – needs, says energy systems expert

Report suggests converting gas grid to hydrogen network

The gas, electricity, transport balancing act

Does the gas grid have a low-carbon future?

Renewables rose to record high in spring, new figures show

Renewables such as wind and solar generated almost a third of British power in the second quarter of the year, Government figures show.

Between April and June, renewables provided a record 31.7% of electricity generation, up on the same period the previous year as more clean technology was added to the system and there was an increase in hours of sunshine.

Overall, low-carbon’s share of electricity generation fell slightly compared to the same period in 2017, to 53.4% of the mix, as a result of outages in nuclear power plants.

Coal power also fell to a record low of just 1.6% of the generation mix, while gas accounted for 42%, the figures from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy showed.

But a recent report for Drax Electric Insights by Dr Iain Staffell at Imperial College London showed gas prices at a 10-year-high are now prompting an increase in coal burning for power, which leads to higher carbon emissions.

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And if coal-fired electricity remains cheaper than gas, it could lead to the first year on year rise in carbon emissions from Britain’s power sector in six years, the study warned.

James Court, from the Renewable Energy Association said: “The record renewable power generation is a significant achievement for the industry.

“Renewables have never been more affordable and accessible as they are now and this is reflected in the data released today.”

But he called on the Government to support the industry, warning: “Figures show that the lack of support is already having a significant impact on solar power for example which is currently the cheapest option for new power generation.”

HYDeploy - H2 into Keele University Gas Grid Trial

Hydrogen for heat ‘will create anchor carbon capture and storage projects’

A consortium led by gas networks aims to work out whether using more hydrogen within existing infrastructure could cut UK carbon emissions.

Cadent and Northern Gas Networks believe it could also lay the ground for renewed efforts to crack carbon capture and storage.

The HyDeploy project, funded by bill payers under Ofgem’s Network Innovation Competition, officially launched yesterday.

It aims to inject a gas blend of up to 20% hydrogen across Keele University’s private gas network next year in a bid to work out how much hydrogen could be safely used within existing infrastructure without affecting gas appliances.

Keele’s campus was chosen because, with 12,000 students and staff and 350 mixed-use buildings, it arguably has a profile not too dissimilar to a small town.

Results from Keele could therefore provide a platform for a wider public trial.

Using hydrogen, or other ‘green’ gases within existing gas networks is one of the pathways industry and government are considering in a bid to decarbonise heat.

Another pathway is electrificiation, which proponents argue may be a cleaner approach.

Electrification arguments hinge on the fact that creating clean hydrogen at scale would require carbon capture and storage, a technology not yet proven at commercial scale.

Counter arguments revolve around the massive peak loads electrification of heat would create, and how these could be managed in a system with high penetration of intermittent renewables, and where consumers display little appetite to change consumption patterns.

Under the HyDeploy trial, hydrogen will be created via electrolysis, which breaks up water molecules into electricity and oxygen.

For large-scale operations, it is likely that steam methane reformation (SMR) methods of production would be required. Making SMR hydrogen ‘clean’ would require carbon capture and storage (CCS).

Mark Horsley, CEO of Northern Gas Networks, told The Energyst the firm “makes no bones” about the fact large scale deployment of hydrogen within gas networks would require CCS.

However, he said if hydrogen can safely be proven for use at significant concentrations within gas networks, such a requirement would help create “anchor projects for people wanting to build carbon capture networks” and make them “more viable”.

Parkin: CCS getting back on track

David Parkin, director, network strategy at Cadent, admitted that CCS support has a “chequered history” in the UK, with funding competitions unexpectedly axed two years ago.

However, Parkin said he is “very confident that the government is now focused on delivering CCS … [Beis] and the Committee on Climate Change have said that the UK will not achieve 2050 carbon targets without it”.

While previous CCS initiatives focused on decarbonising power, Parkin said the current cycle is “moving towards the decarbonisation of heat, transport and industry – and the HyDeploy project aligns with that broader strategy”.

Using higher blends of hydrogen in the gas network will require plastic pipes. The UK-wide iron ring main replacement programme is now about 70% complete, according to Horsley, and will be 100% complete by 2032, potentially creating strong alignment for higher hydrogen use in the next decade.

While gas appliances manufactured after 1996 are designed to operate with a hydrogen mix up to 23%, the government is funding a £25m project to determine implications of higher hydrogen blends for gas-fired equipment such as cookers and boilers. Manufacturers such as Worcester Bosch have already started designing boilers to handle higher hydrogen mixes.

Horsley suggested the Beis appliance funding and Ofgem innovation allowances indicate that “government, regulator and industry are ensuring the requisite [hydrogen] elements are joined up”.

However, he rebutted claims by academics, most recently the UK Energy Research Centre, which suggest gas networks may be “promoting options which clearly cannot deliver a transformation to low carbon heat … as a means to progress their own financial agenda”.

Horsley: Different circumstances require different solutions

“That is not fair comment,” said Horsley. “There is not a silver bullet in any solution and we do not preclude that as an industry. We very much support the work of the electricity sector, but different circumstances require different solutions. So I can categorically state that [progressing a financial agenda] is not the case.

“We are very confident about the technology – hydrogen production is a known technology – but there is potential to use the pipe network for other bio- or synthetic gases. So we think the project has a real merit, but, at the same time, we are not precluding other solutions.”

Hydrogen and CO2 Plans for Liverpool Bay

Cadent outlines major hydrogen plus carbon capture and storage plan

Cadent has published plans to inject hydrogen into its distribution network in the North West while capturing and storing carbon in depleted gas fields in Liverpool Bay.

The UK’s largest gas distribution network operator, formerly owned by National Grid, says the £0.9bn HyNet project, if given support by the government and allowed by the regulator, could be operational by the mid 2020s.

The plan is to produce hydrogen from natural gas via a process called auto-thermal reforming (ATR). This separates hydrogen from methane, with carbon dioxide the bi-product.

The carbon dioxide requires capture and storage (CCS) forever if hydrogen from natural gas is to be considered low carbon.

Cadent thinks 93% of the CO2 can be captured from a hydrogen conversion plant in Cheshire and transported via repurposed gas pipelines to depleted gas fields Liverpool Bay. The firm believes around 1.5m tonnes of CO2 a year could be stored from the project, with the ENI-owned Liverpool Bay site able to contain around 150m tonnes of CO2.

Cadent thinks some of the CO2 can also be used. Though neither the report nor associated websitespells out how, COis used around the world for enhanced oil recovery.

Homes, industry and transport

A blend of up to 20% hydrogen would be injected into the existing gas grid for household and business use, says Cadent.

The company also plans to covert ten large industrial sites to run on up to to 100% hydrogen, which it will pipe to directly. Cadent would also take and store carbon dioxide already separated by local industry via pipeline.

As well as helping to decarbonise heavy industry, it says creating hydrogen infrastructure may also drive uptake of hydrogen vehicles by facilitating fuelling stations along the network route.

Costs and funding

Cadent claims the £920m project would deliver CO2 abatement for £114 per tonne, though it says this has the potential to fall.

Cadent, now mostly owned by a consortium that includes Macquarie and the Qatar Investment Authority, says it will need appropriate funding mechanisms or subsidies to undertake the project.

This could be via a levy on gas bills. Whereas electricity customers pay levies on bills to pay for decarbonisation, gas customers have not yet contributed to meeting the UK’s emission, Cadent notes.

The report moots a hybrid funding structure, whereby gas customers pay for the hydrogen and CO2capture elements of the project, and taxpayers, potentially through Industrial Strategy funding, foot some of the cost of the transport, storage and industrial conversion elements.

Cadent points out that if it goes ahead, the HyNet project would be the world’s first CCUS project at commercial scale. It notes that if government did not provide funding support, “it will need to take on the key risks for CCUS chain failure, as this cannot be borne by the private sector”.

See the report here.

ITM Opens 7th UK Hydrogen Refueling Station

ITM Power opens seventh UK hydrogen refuelling station as carmakers prepare new model launches

Hyundai Nexo: Carmaker’s second hydrogen vehicle launching imminently. (Credit: Creative Commons/Alexander Migl)

ITM Power today officially opens its seventh public hydrogen refuelling station in Swindon. The eighth will follow at Gatwick within the next three months.

The Swindon station, funded under European and UK initiatives, uses renewable electricity and water to generate hydrogen on-site, negating the need for gas deliveries. It is sited at Johnson Matthey, which makes fuel cell technology and believes its catalysts can help enable large-scale production of hydrogen.

Carmakers Toyota, Hyundai and Honda are supporting the venture, with Hyundai set to launch its ‘Nexo’ hydrogen model in the UK “imminently”, according to president and CEO, Tony Whitehorn.

ITM chief executive, Graham Cooley, said the company and its partners were working with local businesses “to develop a significant FCEV (fuel cell electric vehicle) fleet around the new station.”

Electromechanically-derived hydrogen, while using relatively large amounts of power, is clean and does not require carbon capture and storage, which must be implemented in hydrogen production using steam methane reformation if it is to be considered low carbon. Some companies, such as Vattenfall, believe it is a significant part of the solution to decarbonise industry and transport.

Others think hydrogen via electrolysis could help balance the power system. For example, excess wind generation could be used to create hydrogen, which can then be used for transport, and potentially heat applications.

The UK government has committed to £1.5bn in funding for ultra-low emissions vehicles by 2020 and recently announced around £100 million of funding for innovators in ultra-low-emission vehicles and hydrogen technology.

Support Mechanism Focus needs to be on Transport & Heating

Eon boss: Renewable power is done, now for heat and transport

Michael Lewis: Decarbonising power ‘done’, heat and transport next.

Eon CEO Michael Lewis believes the UK has largely cracked decarbonisation of power generation and must concentrate on heat and transport, which is where he said the energy company will concentrate its efforts.

Speaking at Aurora’s Spring Forum, Lewis, who took the reins from Tony Cocker a year ago, applauded the policy stability of successive previous governments in delivering renewables.

“[Renewable generation] has been a huge success, but in many ways, that is already done,” said Lewis. While there are “some issues around intermittency” to solve, “we have [achieved] renewable, low and zero carbon generation at a lower price than conventional generation. Now we need to turn to transport and heating – and that is where Eon wants to play a key role.”

He said heat and transport are at a similar juncture to renewables “ten or eleven years ago” and pointed out that while the UK has succeeded in delivering almost 40GW of renewable generation, “success was far from a forgone conclusion back then”.

Lewis said in 2008, Eon had two offshore projects under construction, “both hugely over budget and late”. The firm had another two in operation, both beset by technical difficulties. Meanwhile, the London Array project “came that close to not going ahead, and would not have gone ahead unless government had moved to two Rocs”.

Giving offshore wind developers additional subsidy at that point, he suggested, was now bearing fruit in enabling the economies of scale that are leading to cost reductions.

“We were about to make an £800m investment decision and needed to know that the government stood behind us, which they did, and created a world class industry.”

That foresight should now be applied to decarbonising heat and transport, said Lewis, which is where Eon will focus more fully.

“We believe our capabilities are better deployed where there is still a problem to be solved,” he said, suggesting the starting point should be “making the existing system more efficient.”

Under the proposed Eon-RWE deal, it has been announced that Eon will focus primarily on retail and networks, with RWE taking on generation.

Speaking at the same conference, SSE boss Alistair Phillips-Davies said he “saw the SSE-Npower merger going forward and being unaffected by the RWE-Eon deal”.

Simec Atlantis posts £9m loss but forecasts growth surge

Simec Atlantis Energy, the Edinburgh-based energy pioneer behind the MeyGen tidal project in the Pentland Firth, has reported a loss in its interim results ahead of anticipated “rapid growth” in the coming years.

The group posted a loss before tax of £9.1 million for the six months to the end of June, up from a loss of £3.2m for the same period in 2017, following a period of investment and transformation.

The firm, formerly known as Atlantis Resources, unveiled total equity of £134.4m, an increase of more than £74m from 2017, as a result of the acquisition of Simec Uskmouth Power (SUP) in June and several rounds of equity fundraising, including a round in May worth £20m.

It posted revenue for the period of £1.3m, which it said was “mainly driven by MeyGen operations”.

Atlantis listed completion of the construction phase at MeyGen, which has now exported more than eight gigawatt hours of energy to the grid, and the SUP acquisition among its key operational highlights.

It expects the MeyGen project to return to full capacity in the fourth quarter, following maintenance works to two of the four turbines, with chief executive Tim Cornelius looking forward to “a very productive winter”.

Cornelius said the group’s clean energy projects, such as its flagship conversion of a coal-fired power plant at Uskmouth, Wales, to run on 100 per cent waste material, would act as a blueprint for future developments.

He said: “The conversion process [at Uskmouth] is progressing well and we are on track to have first power generation from the converted plant in 2020, which will immediately deliver meaningful operational cashflows.”

He predicted the MeyGen’s new two-megawatt tidal power turbine, the world’s largest single rotor system, would “open up new project development opportunities in the UK, France, Channel Islands, South Korea, Japan and China, as costs reduce and reliability continues to improve”.

Cornelius added: “The possibility of future acquisitions of Simec hydro, storage, onshore wind and bio-fuel projects puts us on a trajectory of rapid growth, with the ambition of transitioning swiftly into a cash generative, growth company of scale.”

Adam Forsyth, alternative energy and resource research efficiency analyst at Cantor Fitzgerald Europe, said: “The Atlantis interim numbers themselves do not reflect the very major changes in the company and, in particular, do not reflect the early work or the eventual potential of the 220 megawatt Uskmouth waste to energy project.

“However, there has been progress on this project and the company continues to move towards its transformation into a major global renewable energy provider.”