Each Monday Nikolas Badminton, Futurist Speaker, shares the top-5 energy revolution stories that have been revealed to the world in the past week.
In Energy Revolutions – Solar Farms and Renewables we look at the trends that we should be aware of today, November 21st, 2016. We see efficient new uses for solar on farms, Australia increasing it’s ability in renewable energy, France pledging to shut down coal power plants, and Shell struggling to make partnerships happen.
Solar energy from the farm
Solar panels on top, wheat and potatoes down below: researchers aim to make farmers’ fields twice as productive with a revolution in power generation. A pilot facility in southwest Germany is exploring the new concept.
Feeding the world’s growing population requires land, especially if crops are to be grown in an environmentally friendly manner. But space for such crops is becoming increasingly limited.
“Agricultural land areas are not available in unlimited quantities,” said Petra Högy, a professor with the Institute of Landscape and Plant Ecology at the University of Hohenheim, in southern Germany. “Therefore, it makes sense to double up and use available land for both the production of food and of energy.”
On 2.5 hectares (around six acres) of agricultural land, an organic farming company is growing wheat, potatoes, celery and a mixture of clover and grass – part of it under photovoltaic panels mounted on stands at a height of five meters (16.5 feet). Another section of the field is farmed in the usual way, not shaded by solar panels.
This comparison should show what kinds of vegetables or crops are particularly suited for agrophotovoltaic (APV) production. “Based on previous simulations, we believe potatoes grow slightly better under the solar panels. Wheat, by contrast, grows slightly worse,” Högy told DW.
Read more at DW
(Australia) Renewable energy made up record 21.7% of national electricity market in October
Australia’s renewable energy sector hit a record in October, with 21.7% of electricity in the national electricity market coming from renewables, according to the latest Cedex report.
That represents the biggest proportion of any month since the data was made available by the Australian Energy Market Operator in 2005, according to the report from the engineering consultants Pitt&Sherry and the Australia Institute.
The high proportion of renewables contributed to a drop in emissions from the national electricity market – 0.8% less than a year earlier, meaning they had returned to May 2014 levels.
In the full year to October, renewable energy accounted for 14.7% of supply to the national electricity market, which encompasses the eastern states and South Australia. The lead author of the report, Hugh Saddler from Pitt&Sherry, said that was the biggest share since 1982, when demand was much lower and was satisfied by a lot of hydro.
Read more at The Guardian
France To Shut Down All Its Coal Power Plants By 2023
One of the keynote speakers, France’s President Hollande, has just stood before the delegates to announce that the Republic will shut down all its coal-fired power plants no later than 2023. At the same time, he praised Obama and snubbed Trump, much to the approval of the crowd.
“The role played by Barack Obama was crucial in achieving the Paris agreement,” he said, adding that it is “irreversible”. He went on to add, as per the groundbreaking pact, that “we need carbon neutrality by 2050,” and for France’s part, coal will not form part of their energy mix in six to seven years’ time.
This is welcome news that comes alongside a host of hopeful statements from other nations. With or without America’s help, all other current signatories to the climate pact will stick to their pledges. Germany hopes to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 95 percent by 2050, and the UK is due to shut all its coal-fired power plants by 2025.
France is already a world leader when it comes to a low-carbon energy mix. Investing heavily in nuclear power a few decades back, the country now gets more than 75 percent of its electricity from the wonders of nuclear fission. It produces so much energy, in fact, that it exports much of it to nearby nations to the annual tune of $3.2 billion.
Read more at IFLScience!
Shell chief says Renewables ‘not yet keen’ to partner with gas
The president director of Shell Netherlands has told a conference in the Hague that while the gas power sector sees itself as a natural complement to renewables, the view isn’t yet being reciprocated.
Speaking at the European Autumn Gas Conference, Marjan van Loon said, “The renewables industry is not that keen yet to be [partnered] to fossil fuels.”
Platts reports that the Shell chief commented that this is going to change.
“If you look at the dynamics of renewables, quite quickly they will see that their systems will need gas to meet peak [demand]. They will see that electrical systems have their limits,” she said.
In the solar industry, van Loon said it will need a solution to its intermittency problems which could either be a battery solution or a gas solution.
“Gas is a very natural solution but I don’t see it partnered yet,” she added.
Van Loon also said the carbon market would not deliver a high enough emissions price quickly enough as countries attempt to meet climate targets. She said a carbon price in a range of Eur30-50/mt would only be reached by 2030, which is “much too late.”
Read more at Power Engineering International
Nikolas Badminton is a world-respected futurist speaker that researches, speaks, and writes about the future of work, how technology is affecting the workplace, how workers are adapting, the sharing economy, and how the world is evolving. He appears at conferences in Canada, USA, UK, and Europe. Email him to book him for your radio, TV show, or conference.