China appears to be heading for its worst power shortage since 2004, putting pressure on already struggling industries and strained livelihoods due to restricted energy access. The 26 provinces served by the State Grid Corp of China could face a combined power shortage of 30 gigawatts (GW) this summer. Central, southern, southwestern and eastern provinces introduced power use restrictions and rationing in late March, well ahead of the summer peak demand season, fueling concerns that shortages could worsen and spread to other regions.

Source: China Daily

Jiangsu, Henan, Zhejiang, Guangdong and Hubei provinces are most susceptible to electricity shortages this summer. Jiangsu province alone is expected to face an 11 GW gap between available power supply and expected demand, accounting for 37 percent of the country’s total shortage. Due to power use restrictions and rationing, many factories in the export-oriented eastern provinces have been forced to significantly reduce output, or instead meet their power demands with costly diesel generators.

The recent financial difficulties faced by China’s power companies caused the thermal power supply slump driving these severe shortages. This is particularly true of coal-fired power plants, which provide more than 70 percent of the country’s generation capacity. According to the 2010 Annual Report of the State Electricity Regulation Commission (SERC), the overall deficits for China’s five major thermal power companies (China Datang Corp., China Guodian Corp., China Huadian Group,  China Huaneng Group and China Power Investment Corp.) exceeded 60 billion Yuan ($6.23 billion) from 2008 to the end of 2010. In May 2011 alone, these “big five” lost 12.16 billion Yuan ($1.88 billion).

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China, drought, electricity, energy roadmap, energy supply, hydropower, low-carbon, nuclear, power shortage, renewable energy, solar, sustainable development, wind

Earlier this year The Worldwatch Institute went to Santo Domingo for the 2011 Caribbean Clean Energy Business Forum. Alexander Ochs, the Director of our Climate and Energy team, presented on our Low-Carbon Energy Roadmap methodology and upcoming work in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Jamaica.

Other presenters included Rene Jean-Jumeau, the Coordinator of the Energy Sector Management Unit at the Haitian Ministry of Public Works, Transport and Communications and one of our key partners in Haiti. He spoke about the Haitian energy system and the needs and opportunities for investment in renewable energy.

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biomass, Caribbean, Caribbean renewable energy, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Low-Carbon Development, Low-Carbon Energy Roadmap, low-carbon roadmap, renewable energy, small hydro, solar, wind

By: Mark Konold and Cristina Adkins

This entry is an update on the Worldwatch Institute’s Caribbean Low-Carbon Energy Roadmap project.  

Dominican Republic Wind Zones

Worldwatch’s Climate & Energy team recently received a wind resource assessment for particular zones within the Dominican Republic. This final installment in a series of deliverables from 3TIER complements the solar analyses that 3TIER provided earlier in the project for the country’s two main cities, Santo Domingo and Santiago. With these resources, Worldwatch is now in the process of preparing a presentation of first findings for key in-country stakeholders that will be presented next month in Santo Domingo.

As was noted in a previous post, Worldwatch’s approach combines thorough policy analysis with 3TIER’s resource assessments to provide governments with options for fostering a low-carbon energy mix. These resource assessments are foundational for making planning decisions around generation and transmission in the Dominican Republic.

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Caribbean, development, Dominican Republic, electricity, low-carbon, renewable energy, solar, wind, wind power

By Haibing Ma and Jiajing Bi

China is the World's No.1 wind power

As China accelerates its shift to a green economy, it is becoming a frontrunner in the clean energy field. In 2009, the country overtook the United States to become the global leader in clean energy investment, and in 2010 this Chinese investment reached US$54.4 billion, dwarfing the $34 billion from the U.S. With such impressive finance and investment, it’s no wonder that China’s clean energy sector has been growing so rapidly. By the end of 2010, China had installed a total of 44.7 gigawatts (GW) of wind capacity, surpassing the United States to become the world’s biggest wind power market. And China has been the world’s largest solar photovoltaic (PV) producer since 2008, with an annual production capacity of 20 GW at the end of 2010.

Chinese manufacturers of clean energy equipment account for more than half of the global supply. Even more impressive is the pace of growth in renewable energy: as recently as 2005, only about 1 GW of wind power capacity was installed across China, and solar cell production was less than 500 megawatts (MW).

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China, clean energy, Climate Change, emission reduction, green economy, green jobs, manufacturing, renewables, solar, solar PV, sustainable development, wind, wind turbine

The most important renewable energy project in the United States this year could be a transmission line.

The Unsung Hero of Renewables Growth in Nevada

The One Nevada Transmission Line (ON Line), which the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) announced February 15 that it would support with a $343 million loan guarantee, is supposed to be just the initial piece of the 570-mile Southwest Intertie Project (SWIP) that will connect Wyoming, Idaho, and Nevada to the large consumption centers of Southern California and the Southwest. The project is expected to cost roughly $500 million. The 500 kilovolt, 235-mile line will have the capacity to carry 600MW, while SWIP as currently planned could eventually carry over 2,000MW.

The groundbreaking ceremony for the ON Line was actually held last October, and the line is expected to become operational by the end of 2012. ON Line is a joint venture of NV Energy and Great Basin Transmission LLC, the company behind SWIP. The groundbreaking was a well-attended affair, with the likes of Senator Harry Reid and U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar present. U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu personally announced DoE’s decision to award the loan guarantee, the first ever from the Department for a transmission project.  

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geothermal, grid infrastructure, Ken Salazar, Nevada, renewable energy, solar, Stephen Chu, transmission, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department of the Interior, United States, wind

Sunrise in Punta Cana

Worldwatch’s Energy and Climate team is busy implementing a one-year initiative, funded by the Energy and Environment Partnership with Central America (EEP), to develop a Low-Carbon Energy Roadmap for wind and solar power in the Dominican Republic. We will soon begin a similar project in Haiti and Jamaica and expand our work in the Dominican Republic to include other resources, including biomass, with the sponsorship of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU).

Through these initiatives, we are taking a holistic approach to documenting the potential for low-carbon development, which we believe will provide insights directly useful to policymakers and business leaders. The first half of the project has yielded good results, and we hope it will be the first of many such projects for our Caribbean Program.

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3TIER, biomass, BMU, Caribbean, Dominican Republic, EEP, Haiti, IKI, Jamaica, Low-Carbon Development, Low-Carbon Energy Roadmap, oil imports, REEEP, renewable energy, small hydro, solar, wind

This is the third in a series of blog posts discussing the water-energy nexus.

Luz Solar Energy Generating System (SEGS) III at Kramer Junction, Califoria

Solar Parabolic Trough in Califoria - Courtesy of Sandia National Laboratory

Large-scale solar power is coming to the United States. After much debate about water conservation and land preservation, the California Energy Commission (CEC) recently approved plans for nine concentrating solar power (CSP) plants in the state. Worldwatch found that this group of proposed plants will consume much less water per megawatt-hour than if California was to build typical coal, natural gas, or nuclear power plants instead. These CSP plants minimize water use through dry cooling.

The CEC expedited its commissioning process this fall to approve the CSP projects before their eligibility for a 30-percent cash grant from the U.S. Treasury’s 1603 Program expired at year’s end. Luckily for U.S. solar developers, Congress has since extended the program through 2011, as I discussed in a previous post. The approved projects represent a total of 4.4 gigawatts (GW) of new installed solar power capacity (or 4.6 GW if a tenth project, which should be approved shortly, is included).

The new CSP projects would increase California’s grid-connected solar power capacity fourfold from the 2009 level. Considering that California has the largest solar capacity in the country—about 10 times larger than any other U.S. state—this is all the more impressive. The development will dramatically assist California in meeting its renewable portfolio standard (RPS) target of generating 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2010, and 33 percent by 2020. More broadly, these projects would increase the nationwide supply of non-hydroelectric renewable power by over 9 percent, based on 2009 figures from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Water consumption has been a central issue in the commissioning process. Mindful of water usage, the CEC has recommended the use of dry cooling systems for the new CSP projects, which in some cases could reduce water consumption by up to 90 percent with minor efficiency losses and added costs (as I discussed in a previous post). Of the ten CSP projects in the pipeline, eight rely on dry cooling.

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Abengoa Mojave, ACC, air-cooled condenser, Beacon, Blythe, Calico, California, California Energy Commission, CEC, central tower, concentrating solar power, cooling tower, CSP, dry cooling, Genesis, Imperial Valley, Ivanpah, Millennium Solar, Palen, parabolic trough, Rice, Ridgecrest, solar, Stirling engine and dish, United States, water-energy nexus, wet cooling

Mention “green economy,” and almost automatically many people will think about alternative energy sources like wind and solar. Without question, the makeup of our energy system needs to change—badly. But other aspects of greening the economy shouldn’t get short shrift either. Changing the way we travel from point A to point B, limiting the voracious appetite of our buildings for heating and cooling, and making industries like steel, aluminum, and paper far more efficient are all essential tasks. In many cases, these activities might be pursued in parallel, as different “wedges” of a climate stabilization policy.

Better yet, such approaches can be combined in imaginative ways. One encouraging example is found in China, where solar energy and rail endeavors came together in a project inaugurated last month. A 6.68 megawatt photovoltaic system was installed on roofs and awnings of the recently completed Hongqiao Station, part of the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed rail line currently under construction.

The project’s 20,000 solar panels cover an area of 61,000 square meters, forming the largest standalone PV array in the world. The system cost about $23 million to install, produces enough electricity for 12,000 Shanghai households, will cut coal consumption by 2,254 tons, and will reduce carbon emissions by 6,600 tons.

The Hongqiao array is regarded as a pilot project. But given the massive expansion of China’s rail system, it holds enormous potential. Plans are to lengthen the total rail network from 92,000 kilometers today to 120,000 kilometers by 2020, a goal that may even be raised to 150,000 kilometers. The country’s high-speed lines are set to reach a length of 25,000 kilometers. Earlier this year, some 6,500 kilometers had already been constructed.

The rail station sits next to Hongqiao airport

There will be plenty of rail-station roofs to put solar panels on. For that matter, solar panels could be integrated into many more buildings in Shanghai and China’s other metropolises. China and Taiwan together now produce about half the world’s PV panels, but they export most of them. With the Hongqiao project, perhaps that will begin to change.

China, energy, rail, renewables, Shanghai, solar, transportation