Report Details Plunge in Cost of Renewable Energy

By MarEx 2015-09-01 01:22:42

The cost of producing electricity from renewable sources like wind and solar has been falling for several years. Now, a new report provides, in detail, the contrasting costs for different power generation technologies around the world and shows that renewable sources can produce electricity at close to or even below the cost of new fossil fuel-based power stations.

The report, Projected Costs of Generating Electricity: 2015 Edition, a joint project by the International Energy Agency and the Nuclear Energy Agency, calculates the cost of producing electricity from different types of new power plants including offshore wind.

Compared with the previous edition published five years ago, the report details a significant drop in the price of solar and wind generation costs, especially for solar photovoltaic (PV) installations, as a result of sustained technological progress. That drop, as well as a plateauing in the price of new nuclear energy plants, helped arrest cost inflation in electricity generation over the past five years.

No single technology proves the cheapest form of electricity generation under all circumstances: many factors determine the final cost of any investment, principally local influences such as market structure, policy environment and resource endowments.

Projected Costs of Generating Electricity: 2015 Edition looks at generation costs at more than 180 plants – from large nuclear and fossil-fuel facilities to wind farms to residential-sized solar PV installations – in 22 countries, including Brazil, China and South Africa. The data were used to project, country by country and for the different technologies, what it would cost to generate electricity over the lifetime of a plant built to enter service in 2020. The report’s standardized form of analysis, levelized cost of electricity (LCOE), displays the cost range of generation in each country for each technology, based on three discount rates.

While the costs of renewable technologies in some higher priced markets can be well above that of coal- or gas-fired plants, the report details how utility-scale solar PV and especially onshore wind power are comparable and often lower in countries featuring plentiful resources and appropriate market and regulatory frameworks.

Further, while more significant regional variations remain than for baseload technologies, variable renewable technology costs continue to converge towards international benchmarks at the lower end of their cost range.

Projected Costs of Generating Electricity: 2015 Edition looks into the future by examining the potential cost of emerging technologies like ocean energy and fuel cells. The report also discusses the value and cost of generation from the perspective of the power system as a whole, examining other relevant cost metrics that may be more appropriate for a world where the concept of baseload power is of declining relevance.

More immediately, the report analyses pressing issues in projecting costs of electricity generation:

• how to price in the impact of renewable variability – changes in generation when the sun does not shine or the wind does not blow,

• the effects of liberalization of prices on LCOE and investment return, and

• various technologies’ sensitivities to a carbon price.

The vast majority of the technologies included in this study are low- or zero-carbon sources, suggesting a clear shift in the interest of participating countries away from fossil-based technologies, at least as compared to the 2010 study.

The report is available for purchase here.


Rotterdam to Build Indonesian Port

By MarEx 2015-09-01 01:02:16

The Port of Rotterdam Authority has signed a partnership agreement with the Indonesian Port Corporation Pelindo I in Medan, North Sumatra, for the development of the new deep sea port Kuala Tanjung.

The port authority will now carry out a feasibility study for the new port together with Pelindo I. A project organization will be created for this purpose that will include a number of the port authority’s employees locally and based in Rotterdam. Depending on the outcome of this feasibility study, the authority will assess whether it will enter into a joint venture with Pelindo I for the further realization of the port.

CEO Allard Castelein signed the agreement on behalf of the Port Authority: “We want to share our knowledge in the construction, development and management of Kuala Tanjung. We are confident that the Port Authority and Pelindo I will form a strong team that will serve the country and provide for a better future.”

Castelein will take part in a Rotterdam delegation that will travel through Indonesia under the leadership of Ahmed Aboutaleb. The Mayor of Rotterdam was present during the signing and indicated that he hoped that new port will create many new jobs in Sumatra. “This is a good opportunity to develop new activities and to attract investors.”

Kuala Tanjung is a newly to be developed port near the city of Medan located in the Strait of Malacca, one of the most important shipping routes in the world. Joko Widodo, who became Indonesia’s president last year, has made strengthening the maritime sector a spearhead of his policy in order to promote economic growth (6-7 percent per year). Kuala Tanjung is one of the main projects in the national maritime strategy.

The development of a deep sea port in Indonesia is consistent with the port authority’s foreign policy that, among other things, is focused on creating opportunities for Dutch companies abroad. Participation in port development in countries that are of interest to the port is one of the ways in which to achieve this.

That is why, in 2003, the port authority signed a joint venture with the Sultan of Oman – Sohar Industrial Port Company – for the development of the Port of Sohar, and also why it is focusing on developing Porto Central in Brazil.


CMHI’s 1H profits up 29%

China Merchants Holdings (International) (CMHI)’s profits have risen 29% year on year (y/y) to HKD2.8 billion (USD361.3 million) in the first six months of 2015 due to a growth in port-related manufacturing operations.
Profits derived from the group’s core ports operation grew 10% y/y to HKD2.4

Vietnam War Remembered

By MarEx 2015-08-31 20:51:48

Sailors and Marines packed the aft mess decks on board the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt on Saturday to honor and remember fellow service members, past and present, during a ceremony for the 50th anniversary of the Gulf of Tonkin resolution’s passage, which marked the beginning of the Vietnam War.

The ceremony not only highlighted the sacrifice and commitment of Vietnam veterans but also recognized and honored the prisoners of war (POW) and those missing in action (MIA), who never made it home.

During the ceremony, guest speaker Chief Hospital Corpsman Alexis Alvarado, discussed the significant achievements of many Vietnam veterans while drawing attention to the sacrifice of those veterans who may not have achieved fame.

“Of the millions of Americans who served on active duty in the U.S. armed forces during the Vietnam era, many were or went on to become famous in diverse fields such as politics, entertainment, sports and journalism,” said Alvarado. “We can name countless celebrities, but let us not forget those heroes who didn’t make it to the cover of People magazine or the “famous A-list.”

Heroes like Hospital Corpsman Third Class Maurice Caron Wayne, who rendered first aid to multiple Marines and saved three lives despite being struck numerous times by enemy rounds.

According to the Defense POW/MIA Office, more than 58,000 U.S. service members were killed during the war that took place between 1955 and 1975 and more than 1,600 are still missing.

“Hero is a word sometimes heedlessly thrown about by the media. This carelessness depreciates the value of the word hero. Today, we revere and honor that word, and pay homage to those who went before us, to serve as the champions of freedom and democracy around the world.”

During the ceremony, Chief Logistics Specialist (select) Ahnas Akande gave a presentation on the meaning POW/MIA, which is displayed in all the mess decks and wardrooms on board Theodore Roosevelt.

“The table before you is a place of honor. It is set for one,” said Akande. “This table is our way of symbolizing the fact that members of our profession of arms are missing from our midst. They are commonly called POW’s or MIA’s. We call them brothers. They are unable to be with us this evening and so we remember them,” said Akande, during the presentation.

Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Adjon-Alber Watkins, who attended the ceremony, said that he thought the ceremony was inspiring and that he thought it was very important that we honor and remember the sacrifices of fellow service members from the Vietnam War because it reminds him of why he joined the service.

“Remembering the sacrifice of those service members reminds me of a verse ‘There is no greater love than this: that a man lay down his life for his friend.’ John 15:13. This verse constantly reminds me not to be selfish and that my service to my country is about something larger then myself.”


Refugees from Extremism, What about Climate Change?

By Wendy Laursen 2015-08-31 19:23:55

“You think migration is a challenge to Europe today because of extremism. Wait until you see what happens when there’s an absence of water, an absence of food or one tribe fighting against another for mere survival.” These are the words of John Kerry, U.S. Secretary of State, talking about the potential for climate refugees.

Kerry made the remark at the conference on Global Leadership in the Arctic: Cooperation, Innovation, Engagement, and Resilience (GLACIER) during the opening plenary session in Anchorage, Alaska on August 31.

“The Arctic has never been, we know, an easy place to survive let alone to raise a family or make a living. The story of Arctic communities is inherently one of resilience, adaptation, and survival from one generation to the next. But global climate change now threatens life in this region,” said Kerry. “And unless the global community comes together to address this challenge, the dramatic climate impacts that we’re seeing in this part of the world will be a harbinger for every part of the world.”

Kerry cited the problem of permafrost melting and releasing methane which is about 30 times on average more damaging than CO2. He also cited Alaskan fires covering five million acres.

“The bottom line is that climate is not a distant threat for our children and their children to worry about. It is now. It is happening now. And I think anybody running for any high office in any nation in the word should come to Alaska or to any other place where it is happening and inform themselves about this. It is a seismic challenge that is affecting millions of people today.”

The Energy Market

For Kerry, there are many ways of responding to the challenges posed by climate change and, ironically, respond to it in a way that creates millions of jobs, improves the U.S. economy and improves health – renewable energy.

Speaking at the conference, he cited a small Alaskan village, Igiugig, that is now using wind turbines, and, through a partnership with the Ocean Renewable Energy Company, is generating a third of their energy needs using a river-based hydrokinetic power technology.

“Energy policy is the solution to climate change – and the energy market, if people make the right choices, is the largest market the world has ever seen. The market that drove the great wealth creation in the United States of the 1990s was a $1 trillion market with one billion users: technology, computers, personal computers, et cetera. The market that’s staring at us today is already a $6 trillion market with four to five billion users, and it will grow to nine billion users as the population of the planet increases in the next 30, 40 years. It is the biggest market ever, and it’s waiting to be grabbed.

“So we need to move to reducing carbon pollution, including emissions of short-lived climate drivers like soot and methane, and begin to factor carbon dioxide and its cost into the actual accounting of business and of our economies.”

The White House has said that Barack Obama, also attending the GLACIER conference, will announce new policies to help communities adapt to climate change and deploy renewable energy.


99 Percent of Seabirds to Eat Plastic by 2050

By MarEx 2015-08-31 17:34:12

Based on an analysis of published studies since the early 1960s, a team of researchers predict that plastic ingestion will affect 99 per cent of the world’s seabird species by 2050.

The researchers from Australian research organization CSIRO and Imperial College London have found that plastic is increasingly common in seabird’s stomachs. In 1960, plastic was found in the stomach of less than five per cent of seabirds, rising to 80 per cent by 2010.

The study, led by Dr Chris Wilcox with co-authors Dr Denise Hardesty and Dr Erik van Sebille, estimate that 90 per cent of all sea birds alive today have eaten plastic of some kind. This includes bags, bottle caps, and plastic fibres from synthetic clothes, which have washed out into the ocean from urban rivers, sewers and waste deposits. Birds mistake the brightly colored items for food, or swallow them by accident, and this causes gut impaction, weight loss and sometimes death.

Dr Denise Hardesty from CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere says seabirds are excellent indicators of ecosystem health. “Finding such widespread estimates of plastic in seabirds is borne out by some of the fieldwork we’ve carried out where I’ve found nearly 200 pieces of plastic in a single seabird,” she says.

The researchers found plastics will have the greatest impact on wildlife where they gather in the Southern Ocean, in a band around the southern edges of Australia, South Africa and South America.

Dr van Sebille, from the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London, says the plastics have the most devastating impact in the areas where there is the greatest diversity of species. “We are very concerned about species such as penguins and giant albatrosses, which live in these areas,” van Sebille says. “While the infamous garbage patches in the middle of the oceans have strikingly high densities of plastic, very few animals live here.”

Hardesty adds there is still the opportunity to change the impact plastic has on seabirds. “Improving waste management can reduce the threat plastic is posing to marine wildlife,” she says. “Even simple measures can make a difference. Efforts to reduce plastics losses into the environment in Europe resulted in measureable changes in plastic in seabird stomachs with less than a decade, which suggests that improvements in basic waste management can reduce plastic in the environment in a really short time.”

“This is a highly important study that demonstrates just how pervasive plastics are in our oceans” said Dr George H. Leonard, Chief Scientist at the US-based Ocean Conservancy. “Hundreds of thousands of volunteers around the world come face-to-face with this problem during annual Coastal Cleanup events. Scientists, the private sector and global citizens working together against the growing onslaught of plastic pollution can reduce plastic inputs to help protect marine biodiversity.”

The work was carried out as part of a national marine debris project supported by CSIRO and Shell’s Social investment program as well as the marine debris working group at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, University of California, Santa Barbara, with support from Ocean Conservancy.


New North Sea Field for Maersk Oil

By MarEx 2015-08-31 16:23:02

The U.K. Gas & Oil Authority has given Maersk Oil approval to develop the Culzean gas field in the UK North Sea. The field is the largest gas field sanctioned in the U.K. since East Brae in 1990, and will produce about five percent of the U.K.’s energy demand by 2021. Maersk Oil, JX Nippon, a Japanese oil and energy company, and BP (Britoil) are investing $4.5 billion in the development.

In 2008, Maersk Oil discovered the Culzean field and its and it is estimated have about 300 million barrels of hydrocarbons. Development of the field is expected to produce up to 90 thousand barrels per day.

The development of the Culzean field has benefited from the High Pressure-High Temperature (HPHT) Cluster Area Allowance created by the U.K. Government. The announcement comes on the heels of Maersk Oil’s August 26th request to close its North Sea Janice installation in which 200 workers will be laid off. The Culzean field is expected to create about 400 jobs.

Maersk Oil is owned by the A.P. Moller-Maersk Group and operates fields in the U.K., Denmark, Qatar, Kazakhstan, the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, Algeria and Brazil with total production of 550,000 barrels of oil per day.


Joint Piracy Operations for Australia and Indonesia

By MarEx 2015-08-31 15:02:37

Australia and Indonesia will from a partnership to combat regional maritime piracy. It will begin later this year and includes training, criminal intelligence exchanges and joint patrols. The primary goal is to not only curb piracy, but to deal with drugs and aquatic poaching.

The countries also launched a maritime enforcement training program at the Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Cooperation, which is jointly managed by Australian Federal Police and Indonesian National Police. It is the center of their partnership for maritime operations as well as counter-terrorism projects.

Since his October 2014 inauguration, Indonesian President Joko Widodo has sought to make the nation a global shipping hub and has placed an emphasis on protecting territorial waters. On August 25, Indonesia announced that it formed a rapid deployment force with Malaysia to combat piracy as well. There have been 106 reported incidents of piracy in Southeast Asia this year.

On August 17, Indonesia’s navy publicly sank 70 vessels which were captured poaching in its waters. Widodo instituted the “Sink The Vessels” policy after his election, saying Jakarta would no longer tolerate the invasion of more than 5,000 ships illegally operating in its waters.


Obama Set To Punctuate Climate Legacy

By Reuters 2015-08-31 14:44:45

President Barack Obama sets off for a three-day tour of Alaska on Monday, aiming to shine a spotlight on how the United States is being affected by warming temperatures and rising oceans.

With 16 months left in office, Obama is trying to build support for tough new rules on carbon emissions from power plants ahead of a hoped-for international climate deal later this year that could cement his legacy on the issue.

The White House has said Obama will announce new policies to help communities adapt to climate change and deploy renewable energy. But the main purpose of his trip is to use the media attention on his tour – amplified by an aggressive social media campaign – to convince Americans to take action.

“It’s a really important punctuation mark on what he’s saying is a top priority for him,” said Sharon Burke, a former Pentagon official who worked on energy issues for Obama.

“It’s the ultimate legacy issue because it is something that’s going to affect so many generations of Americans,” said Burke, now a senior adviser at the New America think tank.

The hype for the tour began on Sunday with an announcement that Obama would rename North America’s tallest mountain as Denali, restoring the traditional Alaska native name to what maps and tourists currently call Mount McKinley.

When Obama lands in Anchorage, he will meet with a group of native leaders and elected officials before addressing an international conference on climate change in the Arctic.

Environmental groups hope he will announce new reforms or restrictions for resource extraction while he is on the trip.

“It’s an historic event for America and it comes at a critical time for the Arctic, which is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world,” said Nicole Whittington-Evans, Alaska regional director of The Wilderness Society.

During the past year, Obama took steps to seal off parts of the oil-rich state from new drilling, although environmental groups are howling about a recent decision to allow Royal Dutch Shell to drill in the Chukchi Sea.

Alaska’s economy is based on oil and gas and the state has pushed to allow expanding the industry.

Obama plans to hike the receding Exit Glacier in Seward on Tuesday. On Wednesday, he will fly to the salmon fishing mecca of Dillingham and then north of the Arctic Circle to the small town of Kotzebue.