Tim Smedley Guardian Professional, Friday 10 May 2013 17.58 BST
To many a casual observer, Germany's reaction to the Fukushima disaster seemed knee-jerk to say the least.
Nuclear power produces nearly 20% of Germany's energy, but in July 2011 (only three months after Fukushima) the German government vowed to shut down its nuclear capability within 10 years. Not just that, but to replace it with renewable energy, cut greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions by 40% by 2020 and 80% by 2050, ensure renewables contribute 80% of Germany's energy by 2050, and ensure energy consumption drops 20% by 2020 and 50% by 2050. It even has its own word: 'Energiewende', or 'Energy Transformation'. And Angela Merkel, not known for hyperbole, has described it as a 'Herculean task'.
The sight of thousands of kilometres of power cables slicing through the German countryside, and the costs involved, are beginning to bite. A renewable energy surcharge has already seen the average family's energy bill increase by 47% in the past two years.
There are also question marks over the transportation and storage of intermittent wind energy.
While a lot of the media attention has been focused on large-scale
wind farms (and Fischedick expects wind power to contribute half of the
80% renewable energy target by 2050), one of the most fascinating
aspects of Energiewende is how it embraces micro-generation and micro-ownership.
Public acceptance is, says Fischedick, much easier to maintain if it is
paralleled with levels of individual ownership. Also known as a
'prosumer' model, over 50% of renewable-energy capacity is owned by
individuals or farmers in Germany; the Big Four energy companies own
just 6.5% (according to 2010 figures). "This is PV, co-generation...
really small facilities," says Fischedick. "The prosumer aspect is
vitally important... if you only have the chance to look from outside at
the changes then you are much more [likely to be] complaining about
what is going on."
This in turn is causing the big utility
companies to reassess their role. Rather than continuing to rely on
business-as-usual, they are significantly ramping up investment in
biomass plants, offshore wind and large-scale photovoltaic plants,
informs Fischedick. "In addition we have some utility companies looking
at becoming a sort of service provider for the prosumer; RWE for
instance provide a new service for the typical house owner to help them
construct their own PV system on the roof, and to combine it with a
small-scale battery. They have really changed their business portfolio
in the last two years, just to be part of the game."
ISLAMABAD: Minister for Power and Water Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar has indicated that the government intends to invest in wind power to find a solution to the ever deepening energy crisis with at least 3,200 Mega Watts (MW) of power to be generated through it.
Mukhtar was addressing the launch ceremony of commemorative Postal stamp in Islamabad on inauguration of Pakistan’s first 50MW wind energy project by Fauji Fertiliser Company (FFC).
The minister said that 106MW is ready for commercial operation while projects to generate 150MW are under construction. He added that the next year will see at least 10 more projects with an investment of over $2 billion.
Mukhtar said that the commencement of commercial operation of FFC wind farm is the beginning of exploiting the wind potential of Gharo Keti Bandar Wind Corridor – an area that alone has 50,000MW power generation potential.
“I feel exalted that many more wind power projects are in pipeline and will commence their commercial operations one after another in the coming months,” he said.
Later during the day, Mukhtar told the media that a formal agreement has been reached between Pakistan Post and Alternate Energy Development Board to issue special postage stamp to save energy.
He said that the main reason for the current power crisis is the shortage of water in dams and assured that the government has taken adequate steps to overcome the shortfall.
Saudi Arabia plans to produce electricity from its first nuclear plant by 2020 and begin operating a solar farm by 2015, said an official at the agency developing the country’s renewable energy program.
The country will start work on its first solar-power facility early next year, which may take as much as 24 months to complete, Khalid al-Suliman, vice president at the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy, told the state-owned Saudi Press Agency.
Al-Suliman said the project will get underway once the government approves his agency’s plan for renewable energy. He told the press agency yesterday that he expects to receive official approval early next year.
Saudi Arabia, which is tapping renewable energy as a way to free more crude oil for export, is planning for $109 billion in investment to create a solar industry that generates a third of the nation’s electricity by 2032.
The world’s largest crude oil exporter targets 41,000 megawatts of solar capacity within two decades, according to the plan that was announced in May. Al-Suliman said 16,000 megawatt of that will be generated from photovoltaic panels. The rest comes from solar-thermal technology, which use mirrors to focus the sun’s rays on heating fluids that turns a power turbine.
Al-Suliman said that they want renewables and nuclear reactors to supply half of the Kingdom’s electricity in the coming two decades. Solar would supply a fifth of that energy.
Saudi Arabia currently has about 3 megawatts of solar installations, trailing Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and the United Arab Emirates, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
The vice president for the organization known as Ka-care said officials are considering options to generate electricity from nuclear energy and they will decide next year on the percentage of nuclear power in the country’s future energy mix.
Al-Suliman said in May that Saudi Arabia would build 16 nuclear reactors by 2030 with a capacity of 14,000 megawatts of electricity. He didn’t discuss costs.
The desert-Kingdom may spend $100 billion to build 17 nuclear reactors over the coming two decades to produce electricity, the Saudi Press Agency said, citing unnamed experts. The cost of developing the reactors is similar to an earlier estimate by officials from Ka-Care.
The country signed a nuclear cooperation agreement with China in January, following three accords signed last year with France, South Korea, and Argentina.
To contact the reporter on this story: Wael Mahdi in Manama at firstname.lastname@example.org
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