Green Aruba is an annual conference born in 2010 with the specific aim to place dedicated emphasis on Aruba's energy transition to 100% fuel independence.
Besides showcasing Aruba's progress and challenges to the accelerated penetration of renewables in the total energy mix, Green Aruba also exhibits the experiences and knowledge of other institutions and island nations in this field. Over the past six years, Green Aruba has evolved into a practical and valuable well-known platform within the region for the exchange of information and applied knowledge on sustainable and best practices for the shift to cleaner, more environmentally friendly energy sources and resources.
Green Aruba VI – Share Sustainability
At this year's Green Aruba conference to be held October 27th and 28th, the main theme will focus on sharing sustainability by together confronting the common barriers we face, identifying the solutions moving forward and creating the essential roadmaps to achieve our desired growth paths of the sustainability journey for our island nations.
Aruba has made remarkable progress over the years in the penetration level of renewables and/or efficiency at production level, with in 2015 reaching close to the 20% mark. With the ongoing and upcoming planned projects operational by the end of 2017, the 40% barrier will be surpassed by 2018!
With our goal to reach 100% fuel free energy production by 2020, and in order to surpass the 40% level, it is fundamental to embark on a “deep dive” into our existing energy mix. Aruba is examining cutting-edge technologies and new business models for our utility companies, all in conjunction with our RAS framework, to create a balance between Reliable and Sustainable investments. This balancing act will only be achievable if energy production costs remain Affordable for the customer base.
Local utility stakeholders together with foreign renowned institutions are preparing for this dive known as the Aruba Renewable Integration Study (ARIS), and will present their approach and concept at the upcoming conference. The ARIS will provide models that map out the road forward towards Aruba's aspiring renewable energy goals, while maintaining grid reliability and minimizing overall system costs, and can serve as a prototype or starting point for fellow island nations. More
By 2040, the world's power-generating capacity mix will have transformed: from today's system composed of two-thirds fossil fuels to one with 56% from zero-emission energy sources. Renewables will command just under 60% of the 9,786GW of new generating capacity installed over the next 25 years, and two-thirds of the $12.2 trillion of investment. • Economics – rather than policy – will increasingly drive the uptake of renewable technologies. All-in project costs for wind will come down by an average of 32% and solar 48% by 2040 due to steep experience curves and improved financing. Wind is already the cheapest form of new power generation capacity in Europe, Australia and Brazil and by 2026 it will be the least-cost option almost universally, with utility-scale PV likely to take that mantle by 2030.
• Over 54% of power capacity in OECD countries will be renewable energy capacity in 2040 – from a third in 2014. Developed countries are rapidly shifting from traditional centralised systems to more flexible and decentralised ones that are significantly less carbon-intensive. With about 882GW added over the next 25 years, small-scale PV will dominate both additions and installed capacity in the OECD, shifting the focus of the value chain to consumers and offering new opportunities for market share.
• In contrast, developing non-OECD countries will build 287GW a year to satisfy demand spurred by economic growth and rising electrification. This will require around $370bn of investment a year, or 80% of investment in power capacity worldwide. In total, developing countries will build nearly three times as much new capacity as developed nations, at 7,460GW – of which around half will be renewables. Coal and utility-scale PV will be neck and neck for additions as power-hungry countries use their low-cost domestic fossil-fuel reserves in the absence of strict pollution regulations.
• Solar will boom worldwide, accounting for 35% (3,429GW) of capacity additions and nearly a third ($3.7 trillion) of global investment, split evenly between small- and utility-scale installations: large-scale plants will increasingly out-compete wind, gas and coal in sunny locations, with a sustained boom post 2020 in developing countries, making it the number one sector in terms of capacity additions over the next 25 years.
• The real solar revolution will be on rooftops, driven by high residential and commercial power prices, and the availability of residential storage in some countries. Small-scale rooftop installations will reach socket parity in all major economies and provide a cheap substitute for diesel generation for those living outside the existing grid network in developing countries. By 2040, just under 13% of global generating capacity will be small-scale PV, though in some countries this share will be significantly higher.
• In industrialised economies, the link between economic growth and electricity consumption appears to be weakening. Power use fell with the financial crisis but has not bounced back strongly in the OECD as a whole, even as economic growth returned. This trend reflects an ongoing shift to services, consumers responding to high energy prices and improvements in energy efficiency. In OECD countries, power demand will be lower in 2040 than in 2014.
• The penetration of renewables will double to 46% of world electricity output by 2040 with variable renewable technologies such as wind and solar accounting for 30% of generation – up from 5% in 2014. As this penetration rises, countries will need to add flexible capacity that can help meet peak demand, as well as ramp up when solar comes off-line in the evening. More
The Cayman Islands Airports Authority (CIAA) has unveiled the interior conceptual drawings for the multi-million dollar expansion project at Owen Roberts International Airport (ORIA).
Commenting on the design created by Florida based firm RS&H Group, CIAA’s CEO Albert Anderson said, “The interior design is very impressive and I am confident that once completed the new expanded airport will be a first-class terminal facility
The CI$55 million expansion project should take around three years to complete and will nearly triple the current space at the airport. Construction on the first phase of the project is expected to begin this summer.
Here is the Cayman Islands Government's chance to save money and show their support for alternative energy. Covering the roof and parking lots with solar panels, and using LED lighting would set an example for Caymanians and Caymanian businesses to follow. Editor
Aruba in the southern Caribbean has 107,000 people, a lot of wind and sun and, until very recently, one very big problem. Despite the trade winds and sunshine, it was spending more than 16% of its economy on importing 6,500 barrels of diesel fuel a day to generate electricity.
People were furious at the tripling of energy prices in 10 years and the resulting spiralling costs of imported water and food.
That changed at the Rio earth summit in 2012, when the prime minister, Mike Eman, announced that the former oil-producing Dutch island close to Venezuela planned to switch to 100% renewables by 2020.
Working with the independent US energy group the Rocky Mountain Institute and the business NGO Carbon War Room, Aruba ditched its old steam turbines for more efficient engines and changed the way it desalinated seawater.
It cost $300m (£183m), says the energy minister and deputy PM Mike D’Emeza, but Aruba immediately halved its fuel consumption and saved itself $85m a year. It then built a 30MW wind farm and cut its diesel consumption a further 50%. Now it is planning another wind farm and a large solar park. By 2020, Aruba will be free from fossil fuels and possibly storing renewable electricity under water or using ice.
The move to energy independence has had dramatic results, says De Meza. Electricity prices, which were US 33c/ KwH in 2009, have dropped 25% and are stable; inflation has been reversed; the island has nearly paid off the $300m it cost to switch out of diesel; the price of drinking water has fallen by almost a third; and the number of people unable to pay their bills has declined drastically.
“We had been grappling with very high energy costs for 15 years. We realised that our dependency on fossil fuels was leading to political and economic instability. We had to act,” De Meza says.
Aruba is already enjoying health and economic benefits. More tourists are keen to visit a green island, he adds, and children are fitter because it costs families less to pay for sports, and there is less illness. “It has been very popular. Instead of energy prices being the top of the political agenda, the debate now is about which is the best renewable energy source Aruba should go for next.”
Many other Caribbean islands are eager to follow Aruba. Some in the region pay more than 42c/ kwh – three or four times the price paid in most of the US and Europe – and up to 25% of their GDP on diesel for electricity.
Many are also locked into long-term contracts with monopolistic US or Canadian utility companies which have negotiated 17% or even higher guaranteed profit margins.
With many states also having to pay off onerous long-term loans to regional banks, the net effect of high power costs is continual misery, says Nicholas Robson, director of the Cayman Institute thinktank. “People are coming to me saying they cannot afford electricity. It costs 42c in the Caymans. It’s approaching a crisis point. People are struggling because of energy prices.”
“We are very concerned about the high cost of energy and how it affects jobs,” BVI prime minister Orlando Smith adds.
“We pay 38c/ KwH,” says James Fletcher, St Lucia’s energy and science minister. “The result is that industries like tourism, which are very heavy electricity users, are not competitive, our agriculture cannot move out of being just primary commodity producers, and our people have no money.”
St Lucia plans over the next 10 years to switch much of its electricity from diesel to renewables, using geothermal, wind and solar power. The government will make it easier for people to generate their own electricity to reduce diesel demand, and changing street lights to LEDs could reduce costs by $11m a year, he explains.
“Renewables will provide new jobs, everyone will have more money in their pockets, transport will be cheaper and companies will be able to expand more easily,” Fletcher says.
“Islands can get prices down to just 12c/ KwH,” says Ed Bosage, a wealthy American financier who bought the small island of Over Yonder Cay and who has switched it to 96% renewables with wind, solar and a tidal generator. “The wind blows at an average of 16 knots. The tidal is extremely reliable. We learned that wind trumps sun by 2:1. We now produce electricity for 12c, the cheapest in the Caribbean, and will get it cheaper. It’s repeatable everywhere,” he says.
Caribbean islands share similar problems to thousands of others in the Pacific and elsewhere. Mostly, they are not on national grids, which makes them vulnerable to high energy costs, fuel has to be imported at extra cost, and they are often reliant on just one utility company and most are too small to benefit from economies of scale.
While some can attract high-spending tourists and offshore finance companies, small island states are often heavily indebted, with weak economies, pockets of intense poverty and often rundown hospitals and schools.
But, says Peter Lilienthal, director of Colorado-based Homer Energy and former US national energy laboratory chief, islands stand to benefit from the renewable revolution more than anyone. “Diesel is now hurting small islands. They are burning money. But the price of solar has plummeted in the last few years. It’s now cost-efficient everywhere. Islands now can be the leaders.”
Jamaica is investing heavily in wind, Barbados in solar power and eight island states – Aruba, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, St Kitts and Nevis, Grenada, St Lucia, Turks and Caicos,and the Colombian islands of Providencia and San Andreas have joined the Carbon War Room’s “10 island challenge”. This gives them access to technological and funding help from the Rocky Mountain Institute and others.
“Renewables have come slowly to the Caribbean and other developing countries but the technology is now cheap enough and diverse enough to make it much easier to install,” says Amory Lovins, chief scientist at the Rocky Mountain Institute. “Small islands can move fast if they have coherent policies. They can be the future.” More
Why Tesla’s announcement is such a big deal: The coming revolution in energy storage
Tesla CEO Elon Musk presented his new Powerwall solar batteries on April 30, 2015. Musk says the batteries could dramatically reduce the use of fossil fuels by replacing use of the power grid. (AP)
Late Thursday, the glitzy electric car company Tesla Motors, run by billionaire Elon Musk, ceased to be just a car company. As was widely expected, Tesla announced that it is offering a home battery product, which people can use to store energy from their solar panels or to backstop their homes against blackouts, and also larger scale versions that could perform similar roles for companies or even parts of the grid.
The anticipation leading up to the announcement has been intense — words like “zeitgeist” are being used — which itself is one reason why the moment for “energy storage,” as energy wonks put it to describe batteries and other technologies that save energy for later use, may finally be arriving. Prices for batteries have already been dropping, but if Tesla adds a “coolness factor” to the equation, people might even be willing to stretch their finances to buy one.
The truth, though, is Tesla isn’t the only company in the battery game, and whatever happens with Tesla, this market is expected to grow. A study by GTM Research and the Energy Storage Association earlier this year found that while storage remains relatively niche — the market was sized at just $128 million in 2014 — it also grew 40 percent last year, and three times as many installations are expected this year.
By 2019, GTM Research forecasts, the overall market will have reached a size of $ 1.5 billion.
“The trend is more and more players being interested in the storage market,” says GTM Research’s Ravi Manghani. Tesla, he says, has two unique advantages — it is building a massive battery-making “gigafactory” which should drive down prices, and it is partnered with solar installer Solar City (Musk is Solar City’s chairman), which “gives Tesla access to a bigger pool of customers, both residential and commercial, who are looking to deploy storage with or without solar.”
The major upshot of more and cheaper batteries and much more widespread energy storage could, in the long term, be a true energy revolution — as well as a much greener planet. Here are just a few ways that storage can dramatically change — and green — the way we get power:
Almost everybody focusing the Tesla story has homed in on home batteries – but in truth, the biggest impact of storage could occur at the level of the electricity grid as a whole. Indeed, GTM Research’s survey of the storage market found that 90 percent of deployments are currently at the utility scale, rather than in homes and businesses.
That’s probably just the beginning: A late 2014 study by the Brattle Group, prepared for mega-Texas utility Oncor, found that energy storage “appears to be on the verge of becoming quite economically attractive” and that the benefits of deploying storage across Texas would “significantly exceed costs” thanks to improved energy grid reliability. Oncor has proposed spending as much as $ 5.2 billion on storage investments in the state. California, too, has directed state utilities to start developing storage capacity – for specifically environmental reasons.
For more power storage doesn’t just hold out the promise of a more reliable grid — it means one that can rely less on fossil fuels and more on renewable energy sources like wind and, especially, solar, which vary based on the time of day or the weather. Or as a 2013 Department of Energy report put it, “storage can ‘smooth’ the delivery of power generated from wind and solar technologies, in effect, increasing the value of renewable power.”
“Storage is a game changer,” said Tom Kimbis, vice president of executive affairs at the Solar Energy Industries Association, in a statement. That’s for many reasons, according to Kimbis, but one of them is that “grid-tied storage helps system operators manage shifting peak loads, renewable integration, and grid operations.” (In fairness, the wind industry questions how much storage will be needed to add more wind onto the grid.)
Consider how this might work using the example of California, a state that currently ramps up natural gas plants when power demand increases at peak times, explains Gavin Purchas, head of the Environmental Defense Fund’s California clean energy program.
In California, “renewable energy creates a load of energy in the day, then it drops off in the evening, and that leaves you with a big gap that you need to fill,” says Purchas. “If you had a plenitude of storage devices, way down the road, then you essentially would be able to charge up those storage devices during the day, and then dispatch them during the night, when the sun goes down. Essentially it allows you to defer when the solar power is used.”
This will be appealing to power companies, notes Purchas, because “gas is very quick to respond, but it’s not anywhere near as quick as battery, which can be done in seconds, as opposed to minutes with gas.” The consequences of adding large amounts of storage to the grid, then, could be not only a lot fewer greenhouse gas emissions, but also better performance.
2. Greening suburban homes and, maybe, their electric cars, too.
Shifting away from the grid to the home, batteries or other forms of storage have an equally profound potential, especially when paired with rooftop solar panels.
Currently, rooftop solar users are able to draw power during the day and, under net metering arrangements, return some of it to the grid and thus lower their bills. This has led to a great boom in individual solar installations, but there’s the same problem here as there is with the grid as a whole: Solar tapers off with the sun, but you still need a lot of power throughout the evening and overnight.
But storing excess solar power with batteries, and then switching them on once the solar panels stop drawing from the sun, makes a dramatic difference. Homes could shift even further away from reliance on the grid, while also using much more green power.
Moreover, they’d also be using it at a time of day when its environmental impact is greater. “If you think about solar, when it’s producing in the middle of the day, the environmental footprint is relatively modest,” explains Dartmouth College business professor Erin Mansur. That’s because at this time of day, Mansur explains, solar is more likely to be displacing electricity generated from less carbon intensive natural gas. “But if you can shift some of that to the evening … if you can save some to the middle of the night, it’s more likely to be displacing coal,” says Mansur.
Some day, perhaps, some of the sun-sourced and power could even be widely used to recharge electric vehicles like Teslas — which would solve another problem. According to a much discussed 2012 paper by Mansur and two colleagues, electric vehicles can have a surprisingly high energy footprint despite their lack of tailpipe emissions because they are often charged over night, a time when the power provided to the grid (said to be “on the margin”) often comes from coal.
But if electric vehicles could be charged overnight using stored power from the sun, that problem also goes away.
All of which contributes to a larger vision outlined recently by a team of researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability in which suburban homeowners, who can install rooftop solar combined with batteries and drive electric vehicles, start to dramatically reduce their carbon footprints — which have long tended to be bigger in suburbia, due in part to the need for long commutes — and also their home energy bills.
Granted, it’s still a vision right now, rather than a reality for the overwhelming number of suburbanites — but energy storage is a key part of that vision.
3. Helping adjust to smart energy pricing
And there’s another factor to add into the equation, which shows how energy storage could further help homeowners save money.
For a long time, economists have said that we need “smart” or “dynamic” electricity pricing — that people should be charged more for power at times of high energy demand, such as in the afternoon and early evening, when the actual electricity itself costs more on wholesale markets. This would lead to lower prices overall, but higher prices during peak periods. And slowly, such smart pricing schemes are being introduced to the grid (largely on a voluntary basis).
But if you combine “smart” pricing with solar and energy storage, then homeowners have another potential benefit, explains Ravi Manghani of GTM Research. They could store excess power from their solar panels during the day, and then actually use it in the evening when prices for electricity go up — and avoid the higher cost. “There’s an economic case to store the excess solar generation and use it during evening hours,” explains Manghani by email. (For more explanation, see here.)
Notably, if there are future reductions in how much money solar panel owners can make selling excess power back to the grid — and that’s one thing the current pushback against net metering wants to achieve — then energy storage comes in and gives panel owners a new way for using that power.
“Storage increases the options,” explains Sean Gallagher, vice president of state affairs at the Solar Energy Industries Association. “It’s an enabling technology for solar. It allows customers to meet more scenarios economically.”
So in sum — cheaper, more easily available energy storage helps at the scale of the power grid, and also at the level of our homes, to further advantage cleaner, renewable energy. So if the economics of storage are finally starting to line up — and its business side to ramp up — that can only be good news for the planet. More
It’s time to talk about what’s next.”
This statement also applies to the Cayman Islands, in fact is is more crucial to a Small Island Developing States (SIDS) than anywhere else. “It is time for Caymanians (Americans) to think boldly about… what it will take to move our country to a very different place, one where outcomes that are truly sustainable, equitable, and democratic are commonplace.’
Caymanians ask yourselves
‘Do we want cheaper energy generated by solar and wind’?
Ask ‘how will climate change affect us?’
Ask ‘how will sea level rise affect us?’
Ask ‘how will Cuba opening to US citizens affect us?’
These are questions that very few people or organizations in these islands are asking.
Those are the words of academic and author Gar Alperovitz, founder of the Democracy Collaborative, who—alongside veteran environmentalist Gus Speth—this week launched a new initiative called the “Next Systems Project” which seeks to address the interrelated threats of financial inequality, planetary climate disruption, and money-saturated democracies by advocating for deep, heretofore radical transformations of the current systems that govern the world’s economies, energy systems, and political institutions.
In a cover story and article 14 years ago about the emergent disruption of utilities, The Economist’s Vijay Vaitheeswaran coined the umbrella term “micropower” to mean sources of electricity that are relatively small, modular, mass-producible, quick-to-deploy, and hence rapidly scalable—the opposite of cathedral-like power plants that cost billions of dollars and take about a decade to license and build.
His term combined two kinds of micropower: renewables other than big hydroelectric dams, and cogeneration of electricity together with useful heat in factories or buildings (also known as combined-heat-and-power, or CHP).
Besides being cost-competitive and rapidly scalable, why does micropower matter? First, as explained below, its operation releases little or no carbon. Second, micropower enables individuals, communities, building owners, and factory operators to generate electricity, displacing dependence on centralized, inefficient, dirty generators. This democratizes energy choices, promotes competition, speeds learning and innovation, and can further accelerate deployment—because “vernacular” technologies accessible to many diverse market actors, even if individually small, tend to deploy faster in sum than a few big units requiring specialized institutions, complex approvals, intricate logistics, and hence long lead times.
Thanks to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which tracks investments and generating capacity, and the global expert network REN21.net, which tracks capacity and (where known) electrical output, global progress in renewables has become rather transparent. Starting in 2005 and updated with a fifth edition in July 2014, RMI’s Micropower Database added a third source: industry sales data for cogeneration equipment. Tracking renewables, minus big hydro, plus cogeneration, this database documents the global progress of distributed, rapidly scalable, and (as we’ll see) no- or low-carbon generators.
The update’s most astonishing finding: micropower now produces about one-fourth of the world’s total electricity (Fig. 1).
MICROPOWER’S CLIMATE IMPLICATIONS
Operating modern renewables is essentially carbon-free, except for minor subsets fueled by biomass grown using unsustainable practices that gradually deplete soil carbon. Of the estimated 3–5 percent of cogeneration fueled by biomass, most is in the forest products industry, whose biomass wastes produce most of its electricity and process heat.
Cogeneration in refineries often burns waste fuels that would otherwise be uselessly flared. Similarly, much industrial cogeneration harnesses waste heat previously thrown away. Where extra fuel is burned to make electricity as well as heat, typically far less is burned than when making them separately. If cogeneration also produces cooling and other services, it can convert as much as 93 percent of fuel energy into useful work, both in industry and in buildings. Moreover, the natural gas that fuels most cogeneration is only about half as carbon-intensive as the coal-fired power-only generation it often displaces.
Big hydroelectric dams and nuclear power are also carbon-free in operation. Thus in 2013, nearly half of the world’s electricity was produced with little or no carbon release: 8.4 percent by modern renewables , 10.2 percent by nuclear power (set to be overtaken by modern renewables in 2015), 15.5 percent by cogeneration , and 13.5 percent by big hydroelectric dams (excluding the 2.8 percent small hydro classified under modern renewables).
The other half came from power-only plants, burning mainly coal. Those plants cost more to build, and often more just to run, than their competitors, so their orders are fading, their operations are dwindling, and over decades, they’ll retire in favor of cleaner, cheaper substitutes—both micropower and efficient use.
WINNERS AND LOSERS
Far from recognizing that they’re being rapidly overtaken, many advocates of coal or nuclear power stations don’t even acknowledge micropower as an important competitor—even as it grabs their markets and destroys their sales. In 2009, a senior strategic planner for a major nuclear vendor told me micropower was trivial—having failed to find it in official databases of utility-owned central power stations, without understanding the difference. And even at minor market share, micropower can have major effects. The solar 4.7 percent of Germany’s 2013 generation destroyed the incumbent utilities’ business model and wiped a half-trillion Euros off their market cap. More
That solar photovoltaic (PV) technology is poised to become a dominant energy generation technology throughout the world is of no surprise to most, but the sheer wealth of possibility being forecast throughout the middle and southern hemispheres begins to give an idea of just how prevalent the technology will be by the end of the decade.
Figures published by NPD Solarbuzz have so far predicted that several of the major Asia Pacific nations will account for 60% of solar PV demand in 2014, while being primary drivers of growth over the next several years, at the same time as the Middle East and Africa region currently has close to 12 GW of solar demand in the pipeline.
So it should really come as no surprise that NPD Solarbuzz’s recent figures show that the Latin America and Caribbean region is set to install 9 GW of solar PV over the next five years.
Latin America and Caribbean Five-Year Cumulative Demand Forecast by Project Status
“Solar PV is now starting to emerge as a preferred energy technology for Latin American and Caribbean countries,” said Michael Barker, senior analyst at NPD Solarbuzz. “The region has high electricity prices and it also benefits from strong solar irradiation, which makes it a good candidate for solar PV deployment. As a result, experienced global solar PV developers are seeing strong solar PV growth potential in the region.”
NPD Solarbuzz’s Emerging PV Markets Report: Latin America and Caribbean shows that the total PV project pipeline now exceeds 22 GW of projects across all stages of development — with 1 GW of projects already under construction, and another 5 GW of projects have received the appropriate approval to proceed.
The Latin America and Caribbean region was previously home to many small-scale and off-grid solar PV applications, however governments are now looking to solar PV to address large-scale utility power requrements — specifically in Brazil, Chile, and Mexico.
“Many countries across the LAC region have the potential to develop into major solar PV markets in the future,” added Barker. “While project pipelines vary by country, there is a strong contribution from early-stage developments that have yet to finalize supply deals or find end-users to purchase the generated electricity, which presents both risks and opportunities for industry players.”
A number of countries throughout the developing and second-world countries are turning to renewable energy technologies to develop strong, future-proof, and economically efficient energy generation. Such a trend is being backed by major manufacturing companies who are focusing their efforts on these regions, hoping to increase their own profits while fulfilling renewable energy demand. More