Category Archives: Solar

Energy Outlook – A view to 2040

Energy Outlook – A view to 2040

Walking through the lobby at the Four Seasons Hotel in Doha, Qatar, we stumble across a live presentation by ExxonMobil of its annual Energy Outlook. Normally every year we like to present the key findings of this excellent industry source to our clients and partners.

The Outlook for Energy is ExxonMobil’s long-term view of our shared energy future. They develop the Outlook annually to assess future trends in energy supply, demand and technology to help guide the long-term investments.

This year’s Outlook reveals a number of key findings about how we use energy, how much we will need in the future and what types of fuels will meet demand.

For example:

Efficiency will continue to play a key role in solving our energy challenges. Energy-saving practices and technologies, such as hybrid vehicles and high-efficiency natural gas power plants, will help countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) – including those in North America and Europe – keep energy use essentially flat even as OECD economic output grows 80 percent.

Energy demand in developing nations (Non OECD) will rise 65 percent by 2040 compared to 2010, reflecting growing prosperity and expanding economies. Overall, global energy demand will grow 35 percent, even with significant efficiency gains, as the world’s population expands from about 7 billion people today to nearly 9 billion people by 2040, led by growth in Africa and India.

With this growth comes a greater demand for electricity. Today, and over the next few decades, electricity generation represents the largest driver of demand for energy. Through 2040, it will account for more than half of the increase in global energy demand.

Growth in transportation sector demand will be led by expanding commercial activity as our economies grow. However, energy consumed by personal vehicles will gradually peak and then begin to fall as our cars, sports utility vehicles (SUVs) and small pickup trucks become much more fuel-efficient.

Technology is enabling the safe development of once hard-to-produce energy resources, significantly expanding available supplies to meet the world’s changing energy needs.

Oil will remain the No. 1 global fuel, while natural gas will overtake coal for the No. 2 spot. Use of nuclear power and renewable energy will grow, while demand for coal peaks and then begins a gradual decline.

Evolving demand and supply patterns will open the door for increased global trade opportunities.

Around 2030, the nations of North America will likely transition from a net importer to a net exporter of oil and oil-based products. The changing energy landscape and the resulting trade opportunities it affords will continue to provide consumers with more choices, more value, more wealth and more good jobs (see page 44).

The Outlook provides a window to the future, a view that we use to help guide our own strategies and investments. Over the next five years, ExxonMobil expects to invest approximately $185 billion in energy projects alone. Given the magnitude of these investments, it’s critical that we take an objective and data-driven approach to ensure that we have the most accurate picture of energy trends.

The information contained in the Outlook regarding energy markets is also crucial for individuals, businesses and policymakers. We hope that by sharing this Outlook, we can enhance understanding of energy issues so that we can all make informed decisions about our energy future.

Download the entire report: Energy Outlook – A view to 2040

by Anric


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Reacting to China’s Goal of 49 GW of Renewables in 2013

Reacting to China’s Goal of 49 GW of Renewables in 2013

 Information coming out of China about its renewable energy plans, and prospects for both domestic and international suppliers hoping to continue riding one of the world’s most optimistic growth markets, have commanded headlines in the early weeks of 2013.

China plans to add 49 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy capacity in 2013: 21 GW of hydropower, 18 GW of wind, and 10 GW of solar, according to its National Energy Administration.

Chinese solar panel makers are optimistic. Trina Solar recently said shipments will surge 30 percent in 2013, and Jinko Solar expects a 20-30 percent jump in shipments, on hopes that global demand is rising — gains in Asia (most notably domestically in China), plus regions including the U.S. and Asia, should offset declines in Europe — and price decreases could slow or cease later this year. Yingli Green Energy, which topped a record 2.2 GW in shipments in 2012, enters 2013 with expectations of downstream expansion.

Investors quickly responded with renewed interest in the battered sector; Suntech and LDK saw an upswell of investor support. Underlying concerns remain, though, about the financial viability of domestic solar manufacturers in a severely and government-fed market. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on January 23, 2013 in Clean Energy, Solar


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Why Invest in Vital Assets

Food, water, energy and metals are the drivers of industrial, economic and social growth. As the world’s population rises and the clamor for higher living standards gets louder, so too the struggle for resource access intensifies. This crisis for mankind and our planet is simultaneously our greatest challenge, as well as a once in a lifetime investment opportunity for visionary investors.

“Superstorm” Sandy recently slammed the Northeastern United States. Millions realized for the first time, how they take fresh food, clean water, gasoline and electricity for granted. This is a small taste of the supply shortages that are happening on a global scale, as population and demand outgrow supply and access.

Benefit from the many years of experience that the Global Fund Exchange team has gathered by investing in vitally important asset classes such as water, food and energy. These are the greatest drivers of investment returns going forward and not learning about it and doing something about it carries great risk to all.

Watch the Video below for more information.

by Anric


Solar and seawater turn desert into a greenhouse

By Giles Parkinson on 7 December 2012

Today I ate my first solar cucumber. (It was delicious). Its seed was planted two weeks ago, just before this month’s formal opening of a unique pilot facility in Qatar, in the massive industrial zone that generates the Gulf state’s unbelievable riches. It was grown in a greenhouse cooled by seawater and irrigated by water desalinated by a mechanism powered by solar thermal energy. The electricity to drive various machines and facilities came from solar PV.

Cucumbers have been first product of a pilot project that seeks to harvest three resources of which the world has plenty – the sun, seawater and Co2 – and use them to create food, fresh water, bio-energy and feedstock in regions where they have little, and where it was previously thought impossible to do. Its promoters believe it can be deployed in a massive scale in desert areas that have access to seawater.

The Sahara Forest Project was first unveiled as a concept at the Copenhagen conference in 2009. Among its originators was the UK architect Michael Pawlyn, who was involved in the “Eden Project”, the world biggest greenhouse.

Three years later, it has opened its first facility in Doha, built in conjunction with Norway’s Yara, the world’s largest fertilizer supplier, and Qatari company Qafco, the world’s largest single site producer of urea and ammonia. Those who thought the idea might have been too good to be true, can now go and make a judgment for themselves.

The 1 hectare pilot plant features a small array of solar thermal collectors (parabolic trough), some solar PV, a desalination plant, a saltwater-cooled greenhouse, an algae production facility, and outdoor crops.

But the key, according to CEO Joakim Hauge, is not to see them as a collection of individual technologies, but as a whole. Hoakim says it is a matter of rethinking production systems – and moving from extraction to sustainability, and then to restoration. “The idea is to take the waste product of one technology and use it to create a new resource with another technology,” he says.

The two core ingredients are solar thermal energy and seawater. Solar thermal provides electricity and also heat, which is used to drive an evaporative desalination system for use in irrigation, and to warm the greenhouse.


The saltwater is used to cool the greenhouse through evaporative coolers using a system of recycled corrugated cardboard shaped as a hedge. The same water is then used in a similar system outside, providing shelter and humidity for food and fodder crops.

The seawater is then used for the production of algae, which can then be used for biofuels or feedstock, for growing salt-loving plant species called halophytes, which can also be used for biofuels and feedstock, and finally in salt production.

So far, the facility has produced 23 tonnes of cucumber, but the greenhouse could be used for any type of salad, and crops such as watermelon. Desert grasses and cereal crops are being planted outside, along with the halophytes, and algae production has started. The real test will come in summer, when the facility has to deal with the extreme summer temperatures, and the dust.

After a year, the Safari Forest Project says the next stage will be to move to a larger, 20ha facility, where the idea can be tested at a larger scale. The ultimate goal is to build truly large scale plants that could cover 4,000 hectares. This would include a solar thermal array of around 100MW, 300 hectares of saltwater greenhouses , 2,000 hectares of outdoor revegetation and cereal crops, and 150 hectares of algae cultivation.

It’s early in the piece to do some modeling, but on rough numbers such a plant would cost around $1.5 to $2 billion, but produce enough electricity (325GWh) and produce – 190,000 tonnes of tomatoes and melons, 30,000 tonnes of fodder crops and 7,500 tonnes of algae oils – each year to make it financially viable.

The Sahara Forest Project has no doubt there will be demand. In Qatar for instance, the oil and gas rich nation has to import 95 per cent of its food, and desalinate all its water. Food security is a critical issue, and the Qataris are keen for their desert landscape, with desert grasses, to be restored.

Such a plant could, in theory, be located in a remote area, but that would require high levels of solar storage. The practical near-term solution is that it will likely be located close to an electric grid, and in the early years to an industrial source of Co2 – such as the refineries, fertiliser factories, steel plants and LNG plants that surround the pilot. There is, however, the possibility of new technologies that draw down Co2 from the atmosphere to use as a feedstock.

by Anric


Qatar to invest $ 20 Billion in Solar …

OPEC member Qatar will ask firms to tender for a 1,800 megawatt (MW) solar energy plant in 2014 costing up to $20 billion as the world’s highest per capita greenhouse gas emitter seeks to increase its renewable energy production.

“We need to diversify our energy mix,” said Fahad Bin Mohammed al-Attiya, chairman of the Qatari organizers of climate talks in Doha. The United Nations-led summit is being held among almost 200 nations from November 26-December 7.

Qatar, the world’s top exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG), has been wary of a global shift to renewable energy, fearing it will hit demand for oil and gas from OPEC producers.

Qatar said the power generated by solar energy would mainly power its desalination plants, which are currently gas fueled  The plant construction was expected to be completed by 2018.

“It will be developed in a concession format, there’ll be blocks,” he said.

Once the plant is up and running, the share of renewables in Qatar’s electricity generation energy mix will rise to 16 percent from zero at present.

Mr. Attiya did not provide an exact figure on how much carbon dioxide the solar plant would displace but said it would be significant.

Qatar’s current power generation was 7,000 megawatts and consumption around 5,000 MW, with an annual growth rate of more than 10 percent, he said, although that was expected to slow. “There’s a projection that growth will drop to 5-6 percent,” he said

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Posted by on December 3, 2012 in Clean Energy, Gas, Solar


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Why investing in wind power is pulling ahead in the new emerging global alternative energy economy.

We have historically written extensively about wind power and other alternative energy technologies since 2007, and have consistently argued that there is no ‘one-solution-fits-all’ in solving the world’s growing energy crisis, with global electricity demand potentially doubling by 2030, and a burgeoning liquid fuels shortage.

However, a recent Earth Policy Institute analysis shows wind power is pulling away from other renewable energy sources in worldwide adoption for a variety of reasons, including competitive cost per kilowatt hour generation, its ability to scale and be brought online quickly, a high yield footprint, the absence of fuel cost, and no water required for cooling. Although wind power is an intermittent energy resource, making energy storage a key component for grid integration, a Stanford University study concludes that creation of a national grid and deployment of thousands of wind farms makes the energy source a remarkably stable source of electricity.

Environmentalist Lester Brown argues that at its current pace of deployment, combined with other factors, such as improved energy efficiency, wind power may significantly reduce the world’s dependence on fossil fuels. Certain wind-farm operators could emerge as global leaders in this historically boom/bust sector. Total global capacity for the world’s wind farms generating power in about 80 countries is 240,000 megawatts, with China and the U.S. in the lead. In contrast, total solar power capacity worldwide is 70,000 MW, while geothermal is 11,000 MW. World wind electric-generating capacity has grown 30% annually compounded for the last decade, in part through subsidy, but also because no other energy source can match the combination of its features. Wind is not depletable, and the amount of wind energy used today has no effect on the amount of wind available tomorrow.

Wind farms also have a relatively small effective footprint, making wind energy yield per acre off the charts compared to other technologies. Although a wind farm can cover many square miles, wind turbines typically only occupy one percent of the area, creating near perfect synergies for deployment by farmers. For instance, a farmer in northern Iowa can plant an acre of corn that yields enough grain to make $1,000 worth of fuel grade ethanol per year, or he can use the same acre to site a turbine that produces $300,000 worth of electricity annually. However, since wind turbines take up only 1% of the land covered by a wind farm, farmers and ranchers can dramatically increase return on their acreage, by simultaneously producing electricity and cattle, wheat or corn.

Each wind turbine often generates annual royalties of $3,000 to $10,000 per year, which for many farmers/ranchers can dwarf earnings from crops and cattle. Wind is also abundant. In the U.S., North Dakota, Kansas, and Texas have enough harnessable wind resources to satisfy national electricity needs.

On a recent trip by car through the mid west, Lauralouise and I witnessed literally thousands of wind turbines operating at full tilt  – driven by 50mph winds on the plateaus of Ohio, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado. It was indeed an impressive sight.

On a recent trip through Ohio, Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas we saw thousands of wind turbines in full use generating electricity. Photo by Anric Blatt

Wind farms also do not require water for cooling as do coal, natural gas, and nuclear power plants, and since there is no fuel cost, once a wind farm is completed, electricity is produced with no monthly input fuel bill. Wind farms can also come online quickly. While it can take a decade to build a nuclear power plant, the construction time for a wind farm is usually one year.

Building sufficient transmission capacity to link wind farms with population centers is a key component in realizing wind power’s full potential. A key grid project under development, called the Tres Amigas electricity hub, helps illustrate this potential, according to Brown. This grid interconnection center is being built in eastern New Mexico and will link the three U.S. electricity grids (Eastern, Western, and Texas grids), enabling high-voltage lines to deliver electricity from one part of the U.S. to another as conditions require. This will allow surpluses and deficits to be matched over a broader area, reducing both electricity wastage and consumer rates.

Lester Brown estimates global wind-energy-generating capacity could reach 5 million MW by 2020, if world wind power capacity expands at a 40% annual rate this decade (less than the 45% and 50% per year it grew in the U.S. during 2007 and 2008). This combined with other solar, geothermal and hydropower projects already in the pipeline could equate to 7.5 million MW of renewable generating capacity, enabling the world to back out all of the coal and oil, and most natural gas capacity now used to generate electricity. Mr. Brown calculates this energy restructuring would require production of 300,000 wind turbines annually over the next decade, which he believes could be made in idled automobile assembly plants in the U.S.

While some people feel that Lester Brown’s vision is grand and may seem difficult to achieve, a key observation is that in some respects it is already happening, with cost per kilowatt hour of larger onshore wind farms often competitive with fossil fuel plants, and deployment of wind energy scaling worldwide. President Obama’s reelection this week also makes the extension of the 2.2-cent per kilowatt-hour wind energy production tax credit more likely. Under President Obama, wind energy electricity generation more than doubled between 2008 and 2011, and the Obama Administration approved America’s first offshore wind project and is supporting development of the world’s largest wind farm in Oregon. The boom/bust nature of the industry can make investing in equipment producers volatile, whereas wind farm operators are more stable.

This research was brought to us courtesy of the team at 13D Research – click here to visit their site – its excellent.

Download the 2011 Wind Energy Market Report


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Norway Set To Double Carbon Tax On The Oil Industry To Fund Climate Initiatives

Norway is to double carbon tax on its North Sea oil industry and set up a £1bn fund to help combat the damaging impacts of climate change in the developing world. [Guardian]

In one of the most radical climate programmes yet by an oil-producing nation, the Norwegian government has proposed increasing its carbon tax on offshore oil companies by £21 to £45 (Nkr410) per tonne of CO2 and a £5.50 (Nkr50) per tonne CO2 tax on its fishing industry.

Norway will also plough an extra £1bn (Nkr10bn) into its funds for climate change mitigation, renewable energy, food security in developing countries and conversion to low-carbon energy sources, Environmental Finance reported.

Other impacting news in carbon, climate and environment this week

The solar panel manufacturing industry in the United States and Europe has begun a volley of trade cases against imports, following the same track as the steel industry before it — and for many of the same reasons. [New York Times]

A big new report from the Global CCS Institute takes stock of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) projects around the world as of 2012. And progress has been… rather slow. [Wonk Blog]

Babies who are exposed to ambient air traffic pollution are likely to have poorer lung function up to the age of eight, especially those who are sensitized to common allergens, say researchers. [Medical News Today]

Ongoing resistance and confrontations over the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline have reportedly sparked the detainment of two journalists in Texas this week. [Huffington Post]

Carmakers and the federal government are pouring resources into “lightweighting” auto platforms to meet the Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, standards. [New York Times]

An environmental group is calling on President Obama’s campaign to take down a TV ad criticizing Republican challenger Mitt Romney for declaring years ago that a Massachusetts coal-fired power plant “kills people.” [Washington Post]

Royal Dutch Shell said late Thursday it has applied for a permit from the U.S. Department of Commerce to export crude oil in a sign of how a boom in U.S. oil production from shale rock is reshaping the country’s role in the global energy marketplace. [Wall Street Journal]

The recent rash of extreme weather and climate events — droughts, heat waves, extreme precipitation — has provided a greater impetus for taking action to reduce planet warming greenhouse gas emissions. But a lack of political will and the complexities of the climate system pose enormous obstacles, according to international development and climate scientists who spoke at a Columbia University forum on Thursday. [Climate Central]

This data courtesy of the excellent blog at

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