Climate News of the Week Roundup: EU Commission Accused of Screwing Up Cost Estimates of Renewables, Nuclear and CCS

This week’s roundup features a DIW study calling the European Commission’s energy cost estimates into question, German industry power prices falling to historic lows, renewables getting ramped up in China, Peru, South Africa, Thailand and the USA, the World Bank finally deciding to limit lending to coal, the importance of CO2 being invisible, The Economist getting accused of irresponsible journalism, and more.

The German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) this week strongly criticised the cost projections in the European Commission’s Energy Roadmap and 2030 Green Paper. According to DIW, the Commission systematically overestimates the financial requirements of renewables and underestimates the requirements of nuclear and carbon capture and storage. They conclude that, “the Green Paper is based on assumed scenarios that are, to a great extent, no longer relevant…  This applies in particular to photovoltaics where capital costs are, to a certain extent, already lower than the Commission’s estimates for 2050. In contrast to renewable energies, neither nuclear energy nor carbon capture, transport, and storage are cost efficient enough to play a central role in the future European electricity mix. It is therefore vital for Europe to continue to focus on the further development of renewable energies in future. This requires the setting of ambitious renewables targets for 2030 as well as clear emissions reduction and energy efficiency targets.” The study is in German but it has an English abstract. Craig Morris covers the study in an article here.

Meanwhile, Cerstin Gammelin reports (article in German) that the Competition Commissioner Almunia wants to make it easier for member states to subsidise nuclear….

Claims that the German nuclear phaseout would lead to skyrocketing power prices are turning out to have been so much Bart Simpson, especially for industry. According to latest news from the wholesale market industry is set to profit from historically low prices until at least 2019. Along the same lines, Craig Morris compares German with other EU power prices and concludes that German industry power prices are becoming more competitive, not less.

Those figures were mooted before but are now confirmed as Bloomberg reports: China plans to add 10 gigawatts of solar power a year during the next three years, which would quintuple the currently installed capacity to 35GW by 2015.

A nice move by the host of the 2014 UN climate conference: Don Lieber reports that Peru is going for new-universal energy access on the basis of solar. The country initiated a new programme that will provide electricity to more than two million of its poorest residents using solar panels, which will boost electricity access from 66% to 95% of the population.

Jocelyn Newmarch reports on how South Africa’s Eskom is developing the country’s first commercial-scale wind farm and one of the world’s largest concentrating solar power plants, each of which will add 100MW to the grid.

Max Hall reports that the Thai government revealed FITs for further 1GW of solar, taking the national target to 3GW.

John Upton reports that the Republican campaign to roll back US states’ renewable energy programmes is a flop so far.  None of the 26 bills to roll back requirements passed before most state legislature sessions ended. Some programmes were even strengthened.

Xcel Energy announced that it was planning to add 600MW of wind to its already existing 1.8GW in the in US Midwest.

Reuters reports that the World Bank’s board this week finally decided to a new energy strategy that will limit financing of coal-fired power plants to “rare circumstances”. It was about time.

According to a new report by CEE Bankwatch Network, SEE Change Net and WWF, development banks are spending 32 times more on fossil fuels than on non-hydropower renewable energy sources in the western Balkan region.

Australia’s opposition leader Tony Abbott derided emission trading as “so-called market in the non-delivery of an invisible substance to no one”. The indispensable Skeptical Science website took the occasion to point out that the invisibility of carbon dioxide is exactly what causes global warming. Because it’s this property which lets short-wave sunlight pass nearly unhindered through the atmosphere, while the more long-wave infrared radiation from Earth gets partially absorbed.

They also did a nice job debunking The Economist’s latest miguided piece on climate science misrepresenting the IPCC’s upcoming fifth assessment report. Skeptical Science’s Dana Nuccitelli even called it “irresponsible journalism”. Joe Romm commented on the same piece that, “The good news is that The Economist article might be less dreadful than it could have been. For instance, I didn’t find any typos.”

Auf deutsch:

Franz Alt nimmt mal wieder kein Blatt vor den Mund: “Die Chefbremser der Energiewende” sitzen seiner Meinung nach in der aktuellen Regierung.

Die Ankündigung der großen deutschen Energieversorger, unrentable fossile Kraftwerke still legen zu wollen, lässt Jürgen Döschner kalt. “Die neue Energiewelt ist dezentral und überwiegend in der Hand von Privatleuten, Landwirten, Genossenschaften oder Stadtwerken… Die Sorgen von RWE, E.On und Co. um ihre Gewinne sind also berechtigt. Aber es sind nicht unsere Sorgen. Denn die Energieversorgung selbst ist deshalb längst nicht in Gefahr.”

Benjamin Reuter hat einen interessanten Artikel zu Landwirtschaft in der Wüste. Dem zufolge plant Katar, Millionen Menschen zu ernähren, in dem die Wüste per solar-betriebener Meerwasserentsaltzung urbar gemacht wird.

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