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This Month in Energy - September 2016

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THIS MONTH IN ENERGY - september 2016

Here’s what happened in the world of energy this month.

GLOBAL

Most of the world breathes polluted air, Who says?

Almost everyone on Earth now breathes polluted air, according to an air quality map released Tuesday by the World Health Organization. The interactive map, based on global air pollution data, confirms that 92% of the world's population lives in places where outdoor air quality fails to meet WHO. 

Lightsource lands maiden India solar tender 

Lightsource Renewable Energy, the most prolific developer of utility-scale solar in the UK, has won its maiden tender in India. Lightsource has secured an element of the latest 450MW tender for the Indian state of Maharashtra, managed by Solar Energy Corporation of India, which will see the firm develop a 50MW ground-mount solar farm in the state.

Industry study: Microgrids to become ‘fundamental building block’

A new study suggests that microgrids – a rarity in today’s power sector – will evolve to become a “fundamental building block” of the 21st-century grid.

Used primarily to ensure reliability and access in military and other critical applications, microgrids have emerged in recent years as a niche interest for utilities and communities looking to bring more renewables online and increase resilience in the face of extreme weather. Despite the heightened profile, microgrids – islandable networks of generation and distribution – remain a small part of the U.S. energy system, making up a fraction of a percent of the nation’s total power generating capacity.

 

AFRICA

Algeria to launch 4 GW solar program

 Algeria plans to start a program by the end of the year to add 4 GW of solar photovoltaic (PV) power capacity, energy minister Noureddine Boutarfa said, as cited by the Algeria Press Service. About 300 MW of PV power plants had entered service so far in 2016, the minister told a press briefing earlier this week.

South Africas changing energy landscape

South Africa shows how quick an energy transition can be. In four years, with coal and nuclear power stations on hold, South Africa’s renewable energy program has nearly 100 plants in development. Leonie Joubert takes an in-depth look.

 

ASIA

US & China fossil fuel subsidies exceed $20 billion annually

As an outcome of the G20 meeting held in China earlier this month, both China and the United States volunteered to publish peer reviews of their current fossil fuel subsidies, and the results show that, together, the two countries are annually providing over $20 billion in inefficient fossil fuel subsidies

China embarked on wind power frenzy, says IEA

This is the world's biggest programme of turbine installation, double that of its nearest rival, the US. The nation’s entire annual increase in energy demand has been fulfilled from the wind. But the IEA warns China has built so much coal-fired generating capacity that it is turning off wind turbines for 15% of the time. The problem is that coal-fired power stations are given priority access to the grid. An IEA spokesman told BBC News: “The rather rosy statement on wind energy hides the issue that 2015 and the first half of 2016 also saw record new installations of coal.

 

EUROPE

Netherlands utility to use Teslas Powerball to make a "virtual power plant."

Eneco, a utility company in the Netherlands, wants to use several hundred Tesla Powerwall batteries to create a “virtual power plant” and they are willing to pay customers to participate. The idea is simple. If Eneco can tap into just 30% of the storage capacity of hundreds of Powerwalls, it can avoid calling on fossil fueled generating plants to balance fluctuating demand for electricity

'Clarity' call from Scottish marine 

Progress on wave and tidal power in the UK is in jeopardy without greater clarity on future support to provide a viable route to market, according to Scottish Renewables. Scottish Renewables director of policy Jenny Hogan, speaking at the organisation’s Marine Conference in Inverness on the 13th of September, said wave and tidal projects will not qualify for contracts if they have to compete directly against other, more mature renewable technologies.

 

LATIN AMERICA

Renewables output on Chile's central grid jumps

 

 The share of renewables in all power produced on Chile’s central power system (SIC) jumped to 15.4% in August 2016 from 11.4% in the same month of 2015. The result also compares to a share of 12.1% in July 2016. A report by the grid operator released Friday shows 4,515 GWh of gross power generation on SIC, of which renewables contributed 698.2 GWh.

Petrobras cuts 5-year budget by 25% and will focus on core oil and gas business 

Brazil’s Petrobras announced it will be spending US$74.1 billion over the next five years, 25% reduction on the US$98.4 billion for the previous five years capital expenditure. This is also the company’s lowest five-year budget since 2006.

 

MIDDLE EAST

Solar price hits record low and may fall furthe

The price of solar PV continues to fall. On Monday the 20th of September, a new record low of US2.42c/kWh was set in a tender for a large solar park in Abu Dhabi, not by an industry outlier but but by the biggest manufacturer of solar modules in the world, JinkoSolar.

UAE backs output freeze to support oil market

The United Arab Emirates said on Monday the 26th of September that it would back a global freeze in oil output to bolster prices, while some OPEC delegates predicted a meeting of producing countries in Algeria this week could still yield a deal to restrain supply. Oil prices have more than halved from 2014 levels due to a glut, prompting OPEC producers and non-OPEC Russia to seek a market rebalancing that would boost revenues from oil exports and help their crippled budgets.

 

NORTH AMERICA

New York accelerates emissions efforts in face of daunting sea level rise

New York City has set out a plan to quicken its pace of decarbonization in order to meet its emissions reduction target, as the metropolis prepares for a daunting sea level rise due to climate change. The proposals state that New York “must accelerate efforts” to expand renewable energy generation, improve the energy efficiency of buildings, transition to electric vehicles and improve waste management in order to meet its goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050, based on 2005 levels.

Trudeau approves a massive gas terminal in BC, Canada

A controversial $36 billion liquefied natural gas project proposed for the northern coast of British Columbia just got a conditional green light from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government. If built, the shipping terminal near Prince Rupert and its associated pipeline will be one of the largest and most carbon-intensive resource projects in Canada's history.