Category: electricity

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Are solar panels the future?

Solar panels, also known as photovoltaic panels, are made up of several cells of photoelectric cells made of silicon, which allows the transformation of the sun’s energy into electrical energy thanks to the photovoltaic effect. This process is considered a sustainable means of energy, i.e. it does not affect the environment.

Solar panels have an average life span of 25 to 30 years, provided that preventive maintenance is carried out effectively. The materials used to make solar cells are silicon crystals. At present there are many installers of solar panels in Madrid that use this type of material of high durability.

Renewable energies are the future of humanity. It is expected that, within the next 20 years, renewable energy sources will generate 50% of the world’s electricity. This will ensure the progressive elimination of the carbon footprint and thus improve people’s quality of life.

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The first solar cells were created in the 1950s, after Albert Einstein described the photovoltaic effect in the 1920s (he won the Nobel Prize for physics in 1921 for this theory). Its main use was in the space field, until around 1970 its use on earth began to be popularized as an alternative to the usual electric current.

The future of solar panels

Solar panels have now been used in various ways, mainly as one of the many substitutes for methods of obtaining non-renewable energy. At present, it is possible to install panels for private domestic use, since the cost of manufacturing has decreased over the years due to the simplification of the way solar panels are constructed.

Solar farms

Solar farms are large tracts of land on which multiple solar panels have been placed to generate electricity. In these places, solar energy is used in a better way and they can provide electricity even to industries, due to the amount of electricity that can be obtained through them.

Currently, some of these farms have a significant technological advance in the form of solar panels that follow the movement of the sun. Just like sunflowers, these plates are programmed to adjust their inclination with reference to the location of our star in the celestial vault.

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Transparent solar panels

In 2020, scientists at Michigan State University synthesized a solar concentrator that harnesses infrared light and ultra-violet radiation to transform it into energy that will be converted into electricity. This type of solar panels are intended for use in buildings and urban environments. This would minimize the use of non-renewable energies and easily reduce the carbon footprint.

Although they are still prototypes, they could eventually replace traditional silicon panels. These new transparent solar panels are made from a material called perovskite, which is a type of crystal that is much easier to handle and much cheaper than silicon.

Autonomous cars with solar panels

A prototype car has recently been launched that has the particularity of being electric and powered mainly by solar panels installed on the roof of the vehicle. Although currently the figures are astronomical to acquire one, that is where all the advances in electric cars are heading.

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Solar panels are the future that will save the planet from pollution and prevent the collapse of the economy.



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Energy crisis strengthens renewable energies more than expected

The global energy crisis is driving a sharp acceleration in renewable energy installations, with total capacity growth worldwide set to nearly double in the next five years. Overtaking coal as the largest source of electricity generation in the medium term. And helping to keep alive the possibility of limiting global warming to 1.5°C.

Energy security concerns caused by the Russian war in Ukraine have prompted countries to turn more strongly to renewables. Primarily solar and wind, to reduce dependence on imported fossil fuels, the prices of which have skyrocketed, driving up inflation.

Global renewable energy capacity is now expected to increase by 2,400 gigawatts (GW) over the period 2022-2027. An amount equivalent to China’s total power capacity today, according to Renewables 2022. The latest edition of the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) annual report on the sector.

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This massive expected increase in renewables is 30% higher than the amount of growth that was forecast just a year ago. It highlights, therefore, the speed with which governments have put additional political weight behind renewables. The report finds that renewables will account for more than 90% of global electricity expansion over the next five years, overtaking coal to become the world’s largest source of electricity by early 2025.

Global renewable energies are on the rise

“Renewables were already expanding rapidly, but the world’s energy crisis has taken them into an extraordinary new phase of growth. Even faster as countries seek to capitalize on their energy security benefits. The world is poised to add as much renewable energy in the next 5 years as it did in the previous 20 years,” said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol.

“This is a clear example of how the current energy crisis can be a historic turning point towards a cleaner and more secure energy system. Continued acceleration of renewables is critical to help keep the door open to limit global warming to 1.5 °C.”

The war in Ukraine is a watershed moment for renewables in Europe, where governments and companies are looking to quickly replace Russian gas with alternatives. The amount of renewable energy capacity added in Europe in the 2022-27 period is forecast to be double that of the previous five-year period. Driven by a combination of energy security concerns and climate ambitions.

Even faster deployment of wind and solar PV could be achieved. If EU member states quickly implemented a range of policies, the report says. Including simplifying and reducing permitting timelines, improving auction designs, and improving the visibility of auction schedules. As well as improving incentive plans for rooftop solar support.

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Boost from large nations

Beyond Europe, the upward revision in global renewables growth over the next five years is also driven by China, the US and India. These countries are implementing policies and introducing regulatory reforms. And market reforms sooner than expected to combat the energy crisis. With its 14th Five-Year Plan, China is expected to account for nearly half of new renewable capacity additions in the cited timeframe.

Meanwhile, the US Inflation Reduction Act has provided new support and long-term visibility for the expansion of renewables in the US.

Large-scale solar PV and onshore wind are the cheapest options for new electricity generation. In a large majority of countries around the world. Global solar PV capacity will nearly triple during the period 2022-2027. Overtaking coal and becoming the world’s largest source of power capacity.

The report also forecasts an acceleration of solar panel installations. On residential and commercial rooftops, which help consumers reduce energy bills. Global wind capacity nearly doubles over the forecast period, with offshore projects accounting for one-fifth of the growth. Together, wind and solar will account for more than 90% of the renewable energy capacity to be added in the next five years.

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China the dominant player

The report further sees emerging signs of diversification in global PV supply chains. It estimates that new policies in the US and India will drive investment in solar manufacturing. By as much as $25 billion over five years. While China remains the dominant player, its share of global manufacturing capacity could decline from 90% today to 75% by 2027.

Total global demand for biofuels is also expected to expand by 22% during that period. The United States, Canada, Brazil, Indonesia and India account for 80% of the expected global expansion in biofuel use. And all five countries have comprehensive policies in place to support growth.

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Across the world, the accelerating case requires efforts to address supply chain issues. Expand grids and deploy more flexibility resources to safely manage variable renewables. Faster growth of these energies would bring the world closer to achieving zero net emissions by 2050. This, of course, offers a fair chance of limiting global warming to 1.5°C.



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Sustainability and soccer, hand in hand

The most important sporting event is taking place in Qatar. The FIFA World Cup, which is being played in 64 matches until December 18, has attracted at least 1.5 million visitors for its first edition in the Middle East.

More than US$220 million was allocated by the host of the tournament to provide the world with sustainable technological innovations that will change the way FIFA competitions and even other sporting events have been developed.

For example, in Qatar 2022, for the first time, a commitment was made to offer a carbon neutral World Cup. To this end, a comprehensive set of initiatives was put in place to help mitigate polluting emissions. FIFA also mentioned the construction of a tree and grass nursery with at least 679,000 shrubs and 16,000 trees native to the region.

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The World Cup has also promised a legacy of sustainability in energy use by leaving Qatar with a new solar power plant located in Al Kharsaah, west of Doha.

Smart stadiums

Specifically, stadiums over time have demonstrated technological advances to such a degree that they have become smart stadiums.

These smart stadiums have become mini-cities, where fans can have new experiences and amenities to live all the excitement of a match, while having the highest quality screens to follow replays, connectivity to share their experience and enjoy shopping, food and beverage services.

Having all the technological convenience, one might consider that the energy expenditure could affect the environment, but these stadiums can have the infrastructure to be completely sustainable.

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An example of this is the Mercedes Benz Stadium

(the home of MLS’s Atlanta United and the NFL’s Falcons), which has four thousand solar panels capable of generating enough energy for 10 football or 13 soccer games, but also has the capacity to store two billion gallons of water to prevent flooding. In addition, it is very well connected to public transportation, and even has its own bicycle and pedestrian routes to reach this property. All of this is part of the smart stadium experience and has made Mercedes Benz Stadium the first of its kind in the United States to achieve LEED platinum certification with 88 points.

“The world of sports can encompass the best in terms of technology and sustainability, there are ample possibilities to innovate and offer the best experience to fans. For several years in Schneider Electric we have been able to support our customers with solutions in stadiums as EcoStruxure that have edge applications, connectivity and monitoring, while ensuring a continuous power supply for the required needs, “spokesman for Schneider Electric-Secure Power.

In Mexico, innovation with smart stadiums began in 2013, with the construction of the BBVA stadium of the Rayados de Monterrey. Inside, it is made up of a futuristic metal structure, with comfortable seats, screens with WiFi, acoustic ceilings, energy-saving lighting and the use of wastewater, in addition to Schneider Electric engineering that allows natural ventilation without spending on artificial climate in a city with such extreme temperatures as Monterrey.

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The efficiency of its equipment allows it to save up to 30% energy. It is also capable of intelligently managing its electrical installation and uses environmentally friendly and 100% recyclable materials. It also has LEED Silver certification and its construction included green recreational and sports areas.

In addition to this, the resilience and ecology in these buildings is also due to the capacity available today to manage renewable energy resources more efficiently. Schneider Electric offers, for example, microgrids that provide energy independence to large electricity consumers such as one of these stadiums, making the energy more reliable and resilient. Thus, there are many other benefits that accompany microgrids and distributed energy production.


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Solar incentives in the U.S. states: Louisiana

The solar rate in the so-called “pelican state” is tiny at best, although major installations are on pace to nearly triple the current rate of 200 MW of installed solar.

Ranked 38th in the country by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), Louisiana has a relatively low electricity rate of 14.10 cents per kWh, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), up from 11.69 a year ago. However, the state’s per capita energy consumption is the second highest in the country due to energy-intensive chemical, oil and natural gas industries, in addition to having a high demand for air conditioning during its hot and humid summers. Louisiana is the third largest producer of natural gas in the country, according to the EIA, and the second largest consumer of natural gas per capita, after Alaska, and natural gas accounts for 65% of the state’s electric generation.

Louisiana has lagged in solar adoption, to the point where it provides only 0.0043% of the state’s electricity, or enough to power 20,352 homes, according to the SEIA. However, several large solar projects are currently under construction, including Ventress Solar, which will be the largest in the state at 345 MW. Also under construction is the Bayou Galion Solar project, which will add another 98 MW.

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Small-scale customer-installed solar installations in Louisiana are growing at a slower pace, although they account for a larger share, about three-fifths of the state’s total solar power generation, according to the EIA.

No renewable portfolio standard

Louisiana is one of 13 U.S. states without a renewable portfolio standard (RPS). In 2010, the Louisiana Public Service Commission concluded after a renewable energy pilot program that the state did not need an RPS. Fortunately, the state has other policies in place to encourage renewable energy use and energy efficiency, such as voluntary utility efficiency programs, energy standards for public buildings, net metering, property tax exemption, and home energy loans.

Net Metering

Louisiana allows net metering for small-scale installations up to 25 kW for residential systems and up to 300 kW for commercial and agricultural systems. The total net metering capacity of the grid-connected consumer is limited to 0.5% of each utility’s monthly retail peak power demand load, and several large utilities in the state have already reached their net metering limit.

In 2019, the distributed generation rules in Louisiana were changed. Those who had distributed generation installed prior to December 31, 2019 were grandfathered for 15 years for their current net metering billing. These customers pay the retail rate for the difference between the electricity they purchase from the utility and the electricity they supply to the grid. Residents with distributed generation installed after December 31, 2019 are billed using a crediting mechanism known as bi-channel billing. Each month, these customers pay the applicable retail rate for the electricity they purchase from the utility and receive the full retail value for what they produce and use behind the meter at their home or business. Any surplus energy is credited to the customer’s bill at the current “avoided cost” rate.

Beginning in 2020, the Louisiana Public Service Commission will reduce by two-thirds the rate that utilities have to pay new net metering customers for excess electricity they put on the grid from their rooftop solar panels.

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Home Energy Loan Program

Louisiana’s Home Energy Loan Program (HELP) offers low-interest loans to improve home energy efficiency and/or install solar panels. Loans are up to a maximum of $12,000, and participants must go through an underwriting process.

Property tax incentives and solar entitlements.

The State of Louisiana exempts solar energy systems from inclusion in property assessments. The state also enacted a solar entitlement law (HB 751) in 2010 that prohibits entities from restricting a property owner from installing solar generation equipment. This can include homeowner communities, although some exceptions include historic districts, historic preservation areas, and certain monuments.

Community solar in New Orleans

The City of New Orleans has its own community solar program. In partnership with Madison Energy Investments, a developer and operator of distributed generation assets, the city will build a series of solar farms, which interested residents will purchase and receive a credit on their electricity bills for their share of the energy produced. The city of New Orleans has approval rights over the locations to ensure that they coincide with the city’s disadvantaged neighborhoods. The city is also exploring municipally owned sites, such as rooftops and vacant lots, to develop the projects. The maximum capacity of the facilities is 2 MW and projects must have a minimum of three 1 kW subscribers.

Flagship installations

The LA3 West Baton Rouge solar facility in West Baton Rouge is currently the largest operating facility in the state. At 74.5 MW, the solar plant produces enough electricity to power nearly 8,000 homes. Developed by DEPCOM, the project became operational in 2020 and is currently owned by Helios Infrastructure. Power from the ground-mounted project is sold through a power purchase agreement to Entergy Louisiana.

Corporate users in Louisiana include Brookfield Properties Retail, Walmart and Abita Brewing, and Brookfield’s 1.3 MW Mall of Louisiana solar project represents one of the largest corporate installations in the state.

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However, these projects will soon be eclipsed by the aforementioned Ventress solar farm, which is being built by Lightsource bp and is expected to be operational in 2023. The power it generates will be sold to McDonald’s Corporation and eBay under long-term power purchase agreements. Louisiana-based Ampirical Solutions has been selected as EPC for the project’s substation and switchyard. The project has created about 400 construction jobs and will be a boost of about $30 million for Pointe Coupee Parish over its lifetime.

“In addition to improving the health and energy security of America’s communities, large-scale solar projects help strengthen local economies. As owners and operators of the Ventress solar farm, we look forward to bringing economic benefits to Pointe Coupee Parish, as well as fostering long-term community partnerships,” said Kevin Smith, CEO of the Americas for Lightsource bp.





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Team of two engineers installing solar panels on roof.

Installation of solar panels

A solar panel installation consists of modules (solar panels), a mounting system and a solar inverter with a computerized controller.

The solar panels produce DC electricity from sunlight, and through the inverter, the inverter converts the generated electricity into AC so that it can be used inside the home.

To ensure optimum performance and efficiently manage the system, a computerized controller is installed. Now, if you want a battery backup system or an off-grid solar system, a battery will be required.

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What is the solar panel installation process like?

The roof is one of the most common locations for the installation of solar photovoltaic panels. Typically, most roofs have the desired specifications for installation so that they receive maximum sunlight.

Solar panels can also be mounted on the ground, in case rooftop installation is not applicable or not desired. You only need to verify that no objects such as trees, buildings or other objects block the access to the sun.

The installation of solar panels can be done by yourself, following some steps, however, if you are one of those who prefer to hire the service, we show you a viable option in Spain with Solartres60.

Through this service, you can save up to 80% on your electricity bill with the installation of solar panels in your home and in your company. They are in charge of processing all the subsidies and permits that correspond to the name of the beneficiary. And one of the positive points is that they do not hire third party companies, but have their own professional installers and offer a 12-year warranty.

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Installation of solar panels

The installation of solar panels can be done in private homes as well as for industries and SMEs, and Solartres60 provides the service for all.

The projects of solar installations for self-consumption are one of its specialties, either an installation interconnected to the grid or isolated to it.

What do you need to install solar panels?

You must know the location, orientation and energy consumption of the house so that your self-consumption project can optimize not only the production of electricity but also to make the installation you have chosen profitable.

Remember that depending on the location of your land and the real energy consumption you have, you can use less solar panels, and if you generate more energy than you consume, then you can sell the surplus.

Solartres60 offers a free study for companies, in fact, the Institute for Energy Diversification and Saving (IDAE) along with the Autonomous Communities, have great aid programs that Solartres60 processes for a company to get the best possible result.

Advantages of installing solar panels

  • You save up to 70% on your electricity bill.
  • Produce clean energy
  • You reduce CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Another of the advantages offered by Solartres60 is that it does not require a great deal of maintenance, it will only be necessary every few years.
  • In addition, you will be able to take advantage of great fiscal aids as well as in the form of subsidies.

How to install solar panels

First of all, scaffolding must be erected to ensure safety throughout the process when on the roof.

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Install brackets and panels

The mounting system is the base that will support the solar panels, this structure must be inclined with an angle between 18 and 36 degrees so that they can have maximum exposure to sunlight.

After setting up the brackets, the panel must be installed and adjusted on the mounting structure, of course, you must carefully tighten all the nuts and bolts so that this structure is stable.

Connecting the solar panels

Once the structure is fixed, the electrical wiring is installed. MC4 connectors are used in most cases because they are the most suitable for any type of solar panels. As a precaution, while you are performing this action, cut off the electricity supply of your home.

Installing the solar inverter

Once the wiring is installed, the solar inverter must be connected to the system, it can be located either indoors or outdoors, but usually near the main panel.

It is important to remember that if you place the solar inverter outdoors, it should be away from the afternoon sun. The best places to give it a good location are the utility room or garage, since during most of the year they are kept cool and also have ventilation.

Connecting the solar inverter and solar battery

Once installed, you must connect it to the solar battery. Lack of usable power during cloudy weather should not be a concern if you have solar battery storage.

Connecting the inverter to the consumer unit

In order to generate electricity, the inverter must be connected to the consumer unit. In addition to this, you will need to connect a generation meter, which will allow you to monitor the actual amount of electricity produced by the solar panels. Although, you can also use another device or computer to verify this performance.

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It is good to install it because you will be able to know how much electricity is produced at different times of the day, and select which is the most suitable time to use certain household appliances such as the washing machine, for example.

Start and test the solar panels

Once all the components have been adjusted and installed, it’s time to turn on and test the system.



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Do you know the advantages of solar self-consumption for businesses?

In a context of rising inflation and skyrocketing energy costs, it is advisable to explore new options for savings and cost control. Renewable energies have become an option that, in addition to reducing costs, are more environmentally responsible.

The current energy market is dominated by a traditional system of centralized generation, which distributes energy through power plants that are usually located far from large urban centers, resulting in a significant loss of energy. On the other hand, self-consumption of energy refers to when a home or business consumes its own electricity generated through the installation of photovoltaic solar panels. This is an increasingly popular alternative, as in addition to reducing the cost of electricity bills, which have been multiplied by the energy crisis, it also helps to curb climate change.

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The business and industrial sector produces more than half of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. However, solar self-consumption for businesses contributes to sustainability.

Since 1989, Aurinka has been carrying out projects focused on transforming clean energy from the sun for profitable self-consumption in committed industries and businesses. In the last five years, it has carried out 345 projects, involving 300 MW of installed power in photovoltaic plants and 1.5 GW of installed power in photovoltaic plants in the development phase.

Not every business is aware that with its own PV system, it saves money right from the start. Aurinka’s team of experts carries out a free preliminary study of the customer’s actual consumption to develop the project that best suits their needs, transforming it into a clean and sustainable energy plan.

The self-consumption installations proposed by Aurinka combine the electricity coming from the solar panels with that of the conventional electrical grid. In addition, it is possible to opt for two different modalities. On the one hand, the installations that produce surpluses, in which the energy that is not self-consumed is injected into the grid and in exchange a compensation is received in the electricity bill. The other option is an installation without surpluses with anti-spill systems, which, although they prevent the injection of energy, their installation is simpler.

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Aurinka’s team of experts accompanies the company that opts for self-consumption in all phases of the project. First, they carry out a preliminary study of the property to design a project tailored to the land and the needs of the business. They also take care of obtaining all the necessary permits and licenses to start up the project. As for the financing of the installation, there are two options: with or without initial investment.

In the construction or EPC phase, the team is also in charge of the design and optimization, purchasing management, transport and assembly, quality control, up to the legalization of the project.

Once the installation is completed, Aurinka carries out the monitoring and maintenance of the plant; as well as taking care of the management of energy sales, project financing or information for investors.


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In the next five years, renewables will grow as much as in the last twenty years.

This is reflected in the International Energy Agency’s 2022 Report, which shows how the global energy crisis is accelerating the shift to alternatives faster than expected. They will overtake coal by early 2025.

Created in 1974 by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) as a consequence of the oil crisis, the International Energy Agency (IEA) was initially intended to coordinate measures to ensure the supply of oil to its member countries, as a counterweight to OPEC.

Today, following the changes in the energy markets, the IEA has become one of the world’s leading technical references on energy issues, covering the problems of energy security, economic development and environmental protection.

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For this reason, its annual report is closely followed around the world. This year, despite the global crisis unleashed by the war in Ukraine, it comes with some good news. Some language scholars will insist that in Chinese the word crisis is spelled 危机 (Wei Ji), a two-character expression. The first is Wei, meaning danger, and the second is Ji, meaning opportunity.

The examples.

The report forecasts that, globally, renewable energy capacity will double by 2027, adding as much renewable energy in the next five years as it did in the last two decades. That is, at four times the rate.

In addition, renewables are on the verge of overtaking coal as the largest source of electricity generation, which is expected to happen by early 2025.

Under the imprint of war and soaring international prices, Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA, says in the report’s press release: “This is a clear example of how the current energy crisis can be a historic turning point towards a cleaner and more secure energy system”.

The magnitude of this impact is such that the IEA was forced to revise its report last year because the expansion of renewable energy over the next five years will occur much faster than was forecast in 2021.

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The report estimated that the rise in clean energy availability would be 30 percent higher than expected due to new policy decisions by some of the world’s largest emitters, such as the European Union, the United States and China.

In parallel, over the next five years, the lessons from the fragilities demonstrated by the last global energy crisis are expected to be another accelerating factor in the growth of renewables.
Even as fossil fuels soar to pre-war price levels, countries are expected to adopt low-emission technologies, including wind turbines, solar panels, a return to nuclear power and the expansion of green hydrogen, to move away from dependence on third countries for critical energy.

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The report shows that China will install almost half of the world’s new renewable energy capacity over the next five years, according to targets set out in the country’s new five-year plan. Paradoxically, the country is continuing its pace of coal mining and burning, despite announcing that it would not build any new coal-fired power plants.


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The disruptions in global energy markets and the war in Ukraine have reinforced the commitment to renewable energy and the desire to achieve net zero carbon emissions. However, even in the face of the growing strength of the global consensus on an energy transition, the obstacles it faces are becoming increasingly clear.

In addition to the uncertain pace of technology development and deployment, four challenges stand out:

  •  The recovery of energy security as a primary requirement of countries.
  • The lack of consensus on the speed at which the transition can and should be made, in part because of the economic disruption it may cause.
  • A deepening divide between advanced and developing countries over transition priorities.
  • Obstacles to the expansion of mining and the creation of supply chains for the minerals needed to achieve the goal of zero net emissions.

The need for energy security as a priority had taken a back seat in recent years. The confluence of an energy shock, the economic hardship that followed, soaring energy prices (unthinkable 18 months ago) and geopolitical conflicts have forced many governments to re-evaluate their strategies. This recognizes that the energy transition must be based on energy security – i.e. adequate supply at reasonable prices – in order to gain the support of the population and avoid economic disruption, with the dangerous political consequences that this can have.

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The current global energy crisis did not begin with the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, but in the late summer of 2021. The rebound in the economy following the end of global confinements by COVID-19 triggered global energy consumption. Oil, natural gas and coal markets contracted in the last months of 2021, causing prices to rise, as demand ran up against what became clear: insufficient supply. In November 2021, three months before the invasion, the U.S. government announced the first release of crude oil from its strategic reserve. If anything has become clear, it is that “preemptive underinvestment” has limited the development of new and adequate oil and gas resources. This underinvestment is explained by several reasons: government policies and regulations; investors’ environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations; poor returns caused by two price collapses in seven years; and uncertainty around future demand. The underinvestment was “pre-emptive” in the mistaken belief that by now there would be ample and sufficient alternatives to oil and gas. The current situation has been described as “the first crisis of the energy transition”, a mismatch between supply and demand. If it turns out to be only the first, in the future such crises will generate uncertainty, cause serious economic problems and undermine popular support for the energy transition.

Energy transitions throughout history

The first energy transition was from wood to coal in the 18th century. Although coal was already being used in Britain in the 13th century because the cost of wood had risen, it was not until January 1709 – when Abraham Darby, an English metallurgist, demonstrated that coal was a “more efficient means of producing iron” – that it began to be used specifically as an industrial fuel. Darby was aware that many considered him foolish.

Still, transitions have almost never been rapid. Although the 19th century is known as “the century of coal,” at that time “wood, charcoal and coal waste” were still used, in the words of energy expert Vaclav Smil. It was not until 1900 that coal covered half of the world’s energy demand.

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Oil was discovered in the United States in 1859. More than 50 years later, on the eve of World War I, Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, led the Royal Navy’s conversion from coal to oil, for technological reasons: speed, flexibility, ease of refueling and elimination of coal shoveling personnel. However, it was only until the 1960s, a century after its discovery, that oil replaced coal as the world’s main energy source.

To date, energy transitions have been protracted over time (see “Under the Magnifying Glass” in this issue of F&D); in fact, rather than transitions, they have been additions at heart. In the six decades since oil replaced coal as the world’s main energy source, global coal consumption has nearly tripled.

The current energy transition, driven by climate change, is intended to be rapid and completed in just over 25 years. It is also intended to be transformational. Coal is going to disappear, and the European Union forecasts that 20%-25% of its total energy by 2050 will come from hydrogen. Although an increasing number of activities and energy targets focus on hydrogen, it provides less than 2% of today’s energy supply.

The speed of the transition

If energy security is the first difficulty facing the transition, timing is the second. How fast must – and can – it move? There is a lot of pressure to bring forward a significant part of the 2050 carbon reduction targets to 2030. However, it sometimes seems that the magnitude of this attempt is being underestimated.

In my book entitled The New Map (2021), I analyzed previous energy transitions, and it is clear that the current one is unparalleled. All the previous ones were caused by economic and technological advantages, and not by political ones, as is mostly the case now. All the previous ones took a century or more to complete, and none of them was a transition like the one now being forged. The goal of this transition is not just to find new sources of energy, but to completely change the energy fundamentals of what is now a USD 100 trillion global economy, and to do it in just over 25 years. It is a very ambitious project and something on such a scale has never been attempted before.

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Some warn that, as it is such an important and far-reaching transition, the macroeconomic effects call for further analysis. According to economist Jean Pisani-Ferry, co-founder of Bruegel, Europe’s leading economic think tank, accelerating the achievement of net carbon emission reduction targets too fast could generate larger-than-expected economic disruptions-what he calls “an adverse supply shock, very similar to the shocks of the 1970s.” In 2021, just before the current energy crisis began, Pisani-Ferry wrote prophetically that such a transition is “unlikely to be benign, so policymakers should prepare to make tough choices.” In 2022, he added: “Climate action is now one of the main topics in macroeconomics, but the macroeconomics of climate action is far from the level of rigor and precision needed to inform public debate and adequately direct policymakers. For obvious reasons, advocacy efforts have taken precedence over analysis. However, at this point in the conversations, self-indulgent scenarios are counterproductive. The policy debate requires methodical, peer-reviewed assessments of the potential costs and benefits of alternative intervention plans.”

The North-South divide

The third challenge is the emergence of a new North-South divide: a widening of the differences between developed and developing countries in terms of how to advance the transition. In the 1970s, the gap was due to the clash between developed and developing countries over the distribution of wealth and, in particular, commodity and raw material prices. That divide faded with globalization and technological advances, reflected in the change of nomenclature in favor of “emerging market countries.”

The new North-South divide reflects disagreements over climate and transition policies, their effects on development, and who is responsible for emissions, cumulative and new, and who should pay for them. The global commodity shocks triggered by the war in Ukraine, as well as the subsequent interest rate hikes and currency devaluations, have only deepened the pressures on developing countries.

In developing countries, what is perceived as the sole goal of emissions reduction must be weighed against other urgent priorities, such as health, poverty and economic growth. Billions of people continue to cook with wood and waste, generating indoor pollution and damaging health. Many of these countries believe that, in order to raise living standards, it is essential to increase the use of hydrocarbons. As India’s former Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said, there are several possible paths to energy transition. Despite its stated commitment to renewable energy, India is also building a $60 billion natural gas distribution system. Developing countries want to introduce and expand the use of natural gas to reduce indoor pollution, promote economic development and job creation and, in many cases, eliminate emissions and pollution from burning coal and biomass.

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There is a tendency in advanced economies to ignore this gap, but the reality became palpable in September 2022, when the European Parliament, in an unusual expression of extraterritoriality, voted to reject a proposed pipeline from Uganda through Tanzania to the Indian Ocean. The Parliament had denounced that the planned pipeline would have negative consequences on the climate, the environment and “human rights”. This body is based in France and Belgium, countries whose per capita income is almost 20 times that of Uganda. Predictably, the rejection provoked a strong reaction in Uganda, where the pipeline was considered essential for economic development. The deputy speaker of the country’s parliament denounced the European resolution as reflecting “the highest level of neo-colonialism and imperialism vis-à-vis the sovereignty of Uganda and Tanzania.” The energy minister added that “Africa has been green, but its people are cutting down trees because they are poor”. Uganda’s national student union took to the streets to demonstrate against the European Parliament; one of the student leaders stated that “Europeans are not morally superior”. Without going into details, it is hard to deny the stark difference in perspectives.

The divide is especially evident in financing. Western banks and multilateral financial institutions have cut off financing for pipelines, but also for ports and other infrastructure related to hydrocarbon development. One African energy minister summed up the effects of denying access to finance as akin to “taking away the ladder and asking us to jump or fly.” Finding the balance between the prospects of the developing world, where 80% of the world’s population lives, and those of Western Europe and North America is becoming increasingly urgent.

Disruption of financing

The fourth challenge will be to secure new supply chains for climate neutrality. The passage in the United States of the Inflation Reduction Act, with its huge incentives and subsidies for renewable energy sources; Europe’s REPowerEU plan; and other similar initiatives will accelerate demand for the minerals on which these renewables are based, for which wind turbines, electric vehicles and solar panels, among other things, are needed. A wide range of organizations – the IMF, the World Bank, the International Energy Agency (IEA), the U.S. government, the European Union, Japan – have published studies on the urgency of creating these supply chains. According to IEA projections, the world economy will shift from a “fuel-based to a mineral-based energy system,” which will “overstretch demand for essential minerals.” In The New Map, I refer to this situation as the shift from “Big Oil” to “Big Shovel.”

S&P Global, the financial and analytical firm of which I am a vice president, has delved into these studies to quantify this “overstretched demand” for minerals. S&P Global’s study titled “The Future of Copper: Will the Looming Supply Gap Short-Circuit the Energy Transition?” (2022) focuses on copper because the energy transition pushes toward electrification, and this is “the metal of electrification.” It took the types of 2050 targets announced by the US government and the EU, and looked at the implications of realizing them in different areas; for example, the different components of an offshore wind farm or electric vehicles. For an electric car, for example, 2.5 times more copper is required than for a conventional internal combustion engine vehicle. The analysis concludes that, in order to meet the 2050 targets, copper demand would have to double by the mid-2030s.

The bottleneck is in supply. At the current rate of supply growth – which encompasses new mines, expansion of existing mines and increased efficiency, and recycling as well as substitution – the amount of copper available will fall significantly short of supply needs. The IEA, for example, estimates that it takes 16 years from the discovery of a deposit to the first production from a mine. Some mining companies talk of more than 20 years. Around the world, permitting and environmental issues impose significant constraints. In addition, copper production is much more concentrated than that of oil, for example. In 2021, three countries produced around 40% of the world’s oil: the United States, Saudi Arabia and Russia. In the case of copper, two countries produced 38%: Chile and Peru.

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Copper is essential

Copper prices have fallen by 20% since the peak recorded this year, a consequence of the well-known role of “Dr. Copper”, the name by which this metal is known, whose price is an indicator of economic slowdowns and recessions. Precisely, the IMF – like many other experts – foresees a sharp slowdown in world growth in 2022, to be followed in 2023, and a possible recession. However, after the recession, the incoming flow of demand due to the energy transition will cause copper prices to rise again. As in the past, the increase in demand and prices is likely to generate new tensions between resource-holding countries and mining companies, which in turn will affect the rate of investment. Moreover, as the race to climate neutrality intensifies, the fight for minerals will be caught up in what is known as the “great energy competition” between China and the United States.

With its copper study, S&P Global wants to contribute to a deeper analysis of the physical challenges of the energy transition. The wind sector has what a 12th century English proponent of windmills called the “free benefit of wind.” And solar energy has free benefit from the sun. However, the physical inputs used in harnessing wind and solar energy are not without cost. The effort to advance a significant number of the 2050 targets to 2030 is likely to run up against considerable physical constraints.

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These four challenges-energy security, macroeconomic effects, the north-south gap and minerals-will greatly affect the development of the energy transition. They will not be easy to deal with separately and, moreover, they will interact with each other, multiplying their impacts. Even so, recognizing them will allow a better understanding of the issues and requirements involved in achieving the energy transition.








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Solar panels pay for themselves in six years, study shows

A report published by the Energy&Climate Intelligence Unit of the United States concludes that the payback time for solar panels is six years. Taking into account that the useful life of this self-consumption element is 25 years, it assumes that the remaining 19 years are of benefit.

The study points to solar panels as one of the best energy alternatives of the moment, especially given the increase in the price of electricity as a result of the current crisis.

Solar panels pay off in six years

The report takes as a reference solar self-consumption installations in operation in the United States, but the results could be extrapolated to other countries, including Europe.

According to the conclusions published by the researchers, the best option is solar panels combined with storage systems, as these allow the energy that is not consumed to be stored for use in times of shortage (on cloudy days or at night).

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The study confirms that, at present, the use of solar panels is cheaper than gas and anticipates that this price difference will increase in the coming years, which will also reduce the payback time.


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EEUU anunciará un hito en la fusión para crear energía limpia y barata

U.S. to announce milestone merger to create clean, cheap energy

The U.S. Department of Energy will announce tomorrow, Tuesday, that U.S. scientists have succeeded, for the first time, in producing a fusion reaction capable of generating a net energy gain, which could lead to unlimited, cheap and clean energy production.

According to U.S. media on Monday, the finding is a major milestone in research that has been going on for decades and with multi-million dollar investments to develop a technology that provides limitless and inexpensive energy.

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The goal of fusion research is to replicate a nuclear reaction similar to what the sun uses to create energy.

“It’s a ‘holy grail’ of carbon-free energy that scientists have been pursuing since the 1950s. It would still be at least a decade, perhaps more, away from commercial use, but the (Joe) Biden administration is likely to achieve its full development with massive new investments in the next few years,” noted The Washington Post.

The Financial Times, meanwhile, said physicists have tried to harness the fusion reaction that powers the sun, but no group has been able to produce more energy from that reaction than it consumes, a milestone known as net energy gain or objective gain, something that could provide a reliable and abundant alternative to fossil fuels and conventional nuclear power.

The financial daily explained that the Lawrence Livermore Federal National Laboratory in California, which uses a process called inertial confinement fusion that involves bombarding a small pellet of hydrogen plasma with the world’s largest laser, achieved a net energy gain in a fusion experiment in the past two weeks, people connected with the project told the newspaper.

Although many scientists believe fusion power plants are still decades away, the potential of this technology is hard to ignore.

Fusion reactions emit no carbon, produce no long-lived radioactive waste and, in theory, a small cup of hydrogen fuel could power a house for hundreds of years, the FT notes.

The U.S. breakthrough comes as the world struggles with high energy prices and the need to move quickly away from burning fossil fuels to prevent average global temperatures from reaching dangerous levels, the newspaper recalled.

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It also recalled that Democrat Biden’s administration is investing nearly 370 billion dollars in new subsidies for low-carbon energy in an effort to reduce emissions and win a global race for next-generation clean technology.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post stressed that in the decades that scientists have been experimenting with fusion reactions, they had so far been unable to create one that produces more energy than it consumes, and while the achievement is significant, monumental engineering and scientific challenges still lie ahead.