Saudi Arabia will Invest Tens of Billions in Renewable Energy

By: Jason Lemon

Saudi Arabia plans to become a “solar powerhouse” and invest tens of billions in renewable energy sources.

Currently, less than 1 percent of Saudi Arabia’s energy is renewable. The kingdom’s economy relies primarily on oil production.

Energy, Industry and Mineral Recourses Minister Khalid Al-Falih said that Riyadh will invest between $30 to $50 billion in renewable energy by 2032, according to media reports.

Falih made the comments this week during the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, also saying he hopes to develop the kingdom’s significant solar potential, harness wind power and launch two nuclear power stations.

Source: Global Energy Profs

The kingdom is also looking to develop geothermal power – steam from within the earth – as its strategic plan to diversify its energy sector.

In December, the state-owned oil company, Saudi Aramco, announced the launch of the kingdom’s very first wind turbine. Wind power will be used to power the company’s plant in Turaif.

Renewable energy initiatives are an integral part of the kingdom’s Vision 2030, the national transformation plan championed by Deputy Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman. The ambitious plan aims to reduce the kingdom’s reliance on oil and diversify the economy.

John Sfakianakis, director of economic research at the Riyadh-based Gulf Research Center told Arab News that Riyadh “wants to balance economic needs against environmental goals as it has considerable solar power potential and is eager to reduce its use of fossil fuels.”

Saudi Aramco is the world’s largest producer of oil and gas, making the kingdom the largest exporter of oil on the planet.

Building new energy sectors will work to curb CO2 emissions and also help create new jobs.

“Job creation for Saudis and a cleaner environment are important goals of Vision 2030 for better quality of life values,” Sfakianakis said.



Numbers Don’t Lie: We’ve Reached a Tipping Point for Renewable Energy


The ink is barely dry on Canada’s new national climate change strategy but critics are already trying to bury it under a mound of half-truths about clean energy.

The plan contains measures that will help Canada hit its obligations under the Paris Agreement, such as introducing carbon pricing, phasing out coal-burning power stations and boosting support for clean-energy technologies.

These modest and sensible steps have been seized on by critics keen to air increasingly dated arguments that clean energy is a luxury Canada cannot afford.

Gwyn Morgan, a former energy company CEO, called the plan’s carbon pricing proposals “economic suicide.” Other writers have sought to place blame for rising hydro bills exclusively on renewables when, in fact, much of these costs cover nuclear and natural gas generation and long-overdue infrastructure upgrades.

Arguments like these are constructed from selective data and blindness to the historic shifts that are under way in the energy market. The simple reality is this: We’ve reached a tipping point for renewable energy. It’s no longer fervent environmentalism driving the transition to clean energy – it’s economics.

Over the past decade, the cost of renewable electricity has tumbled. The U.S. Department of Energy puts the drop at 64 per cent for utility-scale solar power and 41 per cent for land-based wind since 2008. At these levels renewables are competitive with coal and natural gas, and they will get even cheaper.

Markets and governments are reacting to these new financial realities with large investments in renewable electricity, especially in Asia. China, already the world’s largest producer of solar power, has announced plans to invest 1.7 trillion yuan ($324-billion) in wind and solar projects over the next five years. India’s government expects that 57 per cent of its electricity generating capacity will come from non-fossil-fuel sources within 10 years.

In addition, advances in energy storage are making an electricity grid powered entirely by renewables a genuine possibility for the first time.

Skeptics of renewables have frequently claimed that wind and solar will never fully replace fossil fuels because their output is too variable – conventional power stations will still be needed for days when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow. That argument is now crumbling. Game-changing technologies are becoming available that make it possible to efficiently and affordably store renewable energy, smoothing out the peaks and troughs of supply.

One system is currently being tested beneath the waters of Lake Ontario by Hydrostor, a Toronto-based clean technology company. It uses underwater inflatables that are expanded with compressed air during times of energy oversupply and released to turn electricity-generating turbines during peak demand. It is a low-cost way to store large amounts of renewable energy.

At the consumer level, products such as Tesla’s Powerwall battery can be installed in homes or offices to store solar power generated in the day and discharge it at night. MPOWER Energy Solutions will shortly start delivering the system in Canada.

No doubt, challenges remain. Globally, roughly 20 per cent of electricity demand is supplied by renewable sources. When hydroelectricity is excluded, this figure falls to 4 per cent. Renewables form an even smaller part of the energy used for heating and transportation.

The scale of these challenges only underlines the scale of the opportunity. The next decades will be a period of transition as technologies to generate and store renewable energy gradually replace trillions of dollars of existing fossil-fuel infrastructure. According to the International Energy Agency, already half a million solar panels are installed around the world each day and, in China, two wind turbines go up every hour.

The rising global demand for renewables represents an opportunity for Canada to become a leading provider of clean technology. Our clean-technology sector is already generating exports and creating well-paid jobs while cutting greenhouse-gas emissions. Investments now being made in clean technology innovation, coupled with a road map for pricing carbon, position us to take a greater slice of this rapidly growing global market.

It is vital that we continue to support creation and adoption of new clean technologies in Canada, or we risk losing our competitive edge to countries that are fully committed to a low-carbon economy.

The rush for renewables is happening – and it will continue with or without us. In the long term, failure to embrace this transition really would be economic suicide.


Solar Power to Rise from Chernobyl’s Nuclear Ashes

Chinese companies plan to spend $1bn building a giant solar farm on land contaminated by the nuclear disaster in Ukraine, reports Climate News Network

This power plant in Belarus another example of a solar project on the site of the Chernobyl disaster. Photograph: Viktor Drachev/TASS

It was the worst nuclear accident in history, directly causing the deaths of 50 people, with at least an additional 4,000 fatalities believed to be caused by exposure to radiation.

The 1986 explosion at the Chernobyl power plant in Ukraine also resulted in vast areas of land being contaminated by nuclear fallout, with a 30-kilometre exclusion zone, which encompassed the town of Pripyat, being declared in the area round the facility.

Now two companies from China plan to build a one-gigawatt solar power plant on 2,500 hectares of land in the exclusion zone to the south of the Chernobyl plant.

Ukrainian officials say the companies estimate they will spend up to $1bn on the project over the next two years.

A subsidiary of Golden Concord Holdings (GLC), one of China’s biggest renewable energy concerns, will supply and install solar panels at the site, while a subsidiary of the state-owned China National Machinery Corporation (Sinomach) will build and run the plant.

“It is cheap land, and abundant sunlight constitutes a solid foundation for the project,” says Ostap Semerak, Ukraine’s minister of environment and natural resources.

“In addition, the remaining electric transmission facilities are ready for reuse.”

In a press release, GLC state work on the solar plant will probably start this year and talk of the advantages of building the facility.

“There will be remarkable social benefits and economical ones as we try to renovate the once-damaged area with green and renewable energy,” says Shu Hua, chairman of the GLC subsidiary.

“We are glad that we are making joint efforts with Ukraine to rebuild the community for the local people.”

Radiation that escaped as a result of the explosion at Chernobyl reached as far away as the mountains and hills of Wales in the UK, and a substantial portion of the radioactive dust released fell on farmlands in Belarus, north of Ukraine.

Until now, the exclusion zone, including the town of Pripyat, has been out of bounds for most people, with only limited farming activity permitted on lands that are still regarded as contaminated.

Many former residents of the area are allowed back only once or twice a year for visits – to their old homes or to tend their relatives’ graves. However, a growing number of tourists have been visiting the Chernobyl area recently.

There has also been renewed interest in Chernobyl due to recent major engineering work at the plant, with a new steel-clad sarcophagus – described as the largest movable land-based structure ever built – being wheeled into position over much of the structure, to prevent any further leaks of radiation.

As yet, neither the Ukrainians nor the Chinese have disclosed the safety measures that will be adopted during the construction of the solar plant.

Ecologists who have visited the exclusion zone around Chernobyl say that there is an abundance of wildlife in the area, with substantial populations of elk, deer, wild boar and wolves.

Other researchers say there is still evidence of contamination, with limited insect activity, and disease in many smaller mammals.


IKEA Plugs-in Fuel Cell System to Generate More Onsite Power at San Diego Store

“Plugging-in this fuel cell system is an exciting milestone that complements our existing rooftop solar array,” said Jim Tilley, store manager. “Utilizing fuel cells will reduce our carbon footprint and help create an even more sustainable community here in San Diego.”


Slightly larger than the physical size of a commercial back-up generator, the 200-kw, biogas-powered project will produce approximately 1,665,101 kWh of electricity annually for the store, the equivalent of reducing 877 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) – equal to the emissions of 185 cars or to providing electricity for 130 homes yearly (calculating clean energy equivalents at Combined with the 252-kW solar array installed atop the store in 2011, the fuel cell project will help generate a majority of the store’s energy onsite.

For the design, development and installation of this fuel cell system, IKEA contracted with Sunnyvale-based Bloom Energy, a provider of breakthrough solid oxide fuel cell technology generating clean, highly-efficient on-site power.

Drawing from its Swedish heritage and respect of nature, IKEA strives to minimize its operations’ carbon emissions because reducing its environmental impact makes good business sense. IKEA evaluates locations for conservation opportunities, integrates innovative materials into product design, works to maintain sustainable resources, and flat-packs goods for efficient distribution. U.S. sustainable efforts include:  recycling waste material; incorporating key measures into buildings with energy-efficient HVAC and lighting systems, recycled construction materials, warehouse skylights, and water-conserving restrooms; and operationally, no plastic bags in the check-out process, and selling only LED lighting. IKEA U.S. has installed electric vehicle charging stations at 15 stores and solar arrays at 90 percent of it’s locations, integrated two geothermal projects at two store locations and owns two wind farms. This investment in fuel cell technology reflects the company’s goal to be energy independent by 2020.

Located on 10 acres along I-8 between I-805 and I-15, the 198,000-s.f. IKEA San Diego opened in September 2000 and employs approximately 325 coworkers. In addition to 10,000 exclusively designed items, IKEA San Diego presents 32 different room-settings, a model home interior, a supervised children’s play area, and a 150-seat restaurant serving Swedish specialties such as meatballs with lingonberries and salmon plates, as well as American dishes. Other family-friendly features include a Children’s IKEA’ area in the Showroom, baby care rooms, preferred parking and play areas throughout the store. IKEA installed a rooftop solar array and 3 electric vehicle charging stations at the store in 2011.

Since its 1943 founding in Sweden, IKEA has offered home furnishings of good design and function at affordable prices. There are currently more than 390 IKEA stores in 48 countries, including 43 in the U.S. IKEA has been ranked among “Best Companies to Work For” and, as further investment in its coworkers, has raised its own minimum wage twice in two years. IKEA incorporates sustainability into day-to-day business and supports initiatives that benefit children and the environment.



Three-Mile-High Futuristic Skyscraper has a Smog-Eating, Self-Cleaning Coating

By: Lacy Cooke

What will the world look like in 2062? Manufacturing company Arconic gives us a preview with their latest campaign called “The Jetsons“. The firm’s engineers teamed up with futurists to update the world of the Jetsons with new design marvels like flying cars and three-mile-high skyscrapers covered in a smog-eating, self-cleaning coating. The thing is, a lot of the technologies showcased in their campaign are already available.

Flying cars inspired by nature, 3D-printed aerodynamic airplanes, and solar-powered rovers are among the technologies dreamed up for The Jetsons campaign. But The Jetsons doesn’t only draw on the stuff of imagination; some of the materials utilized are on the market today, such as EcoClean, a coating released in 2011. When water vapor and light mix with the chemicals in EcoClean, free radicals form. The free radicals suck up and break down pollutants so they can be washed off the building “with just the slightest bit of moisture,” like dew or light rain, according to EcoClean.

Sherri McCleary, a chief materials scientist at Arconic, told Business Insider, “The functional coating provides aesthetics, it provides maintenance benefits, and it also provides a benefit to the surrounding environment by reducing the content of pollutants around it.” The company claims 10,000 square feet coated with EcoClean “has the approximate air cleansing power of 80 trees.”

Another futuristic technology that will probably hit markets well before 2062 is Bloomframe, invented by Hofman Dujardin and developed by Arconic company Kawneer. Bloomframe is a motorized window that can transform into a balcony in 55 seconds. An Arconic company spokesperson told Business Insider the technology will be available in the “near future.”

3D printing could allow Arconic to bring futuristic technologies to market today; McCleary said the technology could enable buildings that wouldn’t otherwise be feasible to endure unique climates and high winds, and offer architects more options.