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    Mongabay, a leading resource for news and perspectives on environmental and conservation issues related to the tropics, has launched Tropical Conservation Science - a new, open access academic e-journal. It will cover a wide variety of scientific and social studies on tropical ecosystems, their biodiversity and the threats posed to them. Tropical Conservation Science - March 8, 2008.

    At the 148th Meeting of the OPEC Conference, the oil exporting cartel decided to leave its production level unchanged, sending crude prices spiralling to new records (above $104). OPEC "observed that the market is well-supplied, with current commercial oil stocks standing above their five-year average. The Conference further noted, with concern, that the current price environment does not reflect market fundamentals, as crude oil prices are being strongly influenced by the weakness in the US dollar, rising inflation and significant flow of funds into the commodities market." OPEC - March 5, 2008.

    Kyushu University (Japan) is establishing what it says will be the world’s first graduate program in hydrogen energy technologies. The new master’s program for hydrogen engineering is to be offered at the university’s new Ito campus in Fukuoka Prefecture. Lectures will cover such topics as hydrogen energy and developing the fuel cells needed to convert hydrogen into heat or electricity. Of all the renewable pathways to produce hydrogen, bio-hydrogen based on the gasification of biomass is by far both the most efficient, cost-effective and cleanest. Fuel Cell Works - March 3, 2008.

    An entrepreneur in Ivory Coast has developed a project to establish a network of Miscanthus giganteus farms aimed at producing biomass for use in power generation. In a first phase, the goal is to grow the crop on 200 hectares, after which expansion will start. The project is in an advanced stage, but the entrepreneur still seeks partners and investors. The plantation is to be located in an agro-ecological zone qualified as highly suitable for the grass species. Contact us - March 3, 2008.

    A 7.1MW biomass power plant to be built on the Haiwaiian island of Kaua‘i has received approval from the local Planning Commission. The plant, owned and operated by Green Energy Hawaii, will use albizia trees, a hardy species that grows in poor soil on rainfall alone. The renewable power plant will meet 10 percent of the island's energy needs. Kauai World - February 27, 2008.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

New German Renewable Energy Law boosts green sector

The German parliament (Bundestag) has agreed [*German] to new laws that strengthen conditions for investments in renewable energy. The laws are part of the government's "Climate Package," the goals of which are saving 250 million metric tons of CO2 by 2020, with renewable energies contributing to 30% of electricity production by the same year. The domestic heating sector also receives backing as do investments in energy efficiency. The legal changes strengthen Germany as a leading investment location for renewable energies and energy efficiency technologies.

The main renewable electricity sources - biomass, wind and solar power - are ranked according to the subsidies they receive in the form of feed-in tariffs. The feed-in tariff is the compensation paid to owners of renewable energy systems when they sell their electricity to the public grid. According the Renewable Energies Sources Act (Erneuerbare Energie Gesetz), biomass is the most competitive of the renewables, needing the lowest feed-in tariff to spur investments; wind follows closely; solar power needs a high amount of subsidies.

The German legal reforms first of all promote biomass. Investors in this sector can receive feed-in tariffs of 7.79-11.67 Eurocent/KWh for electricity from wood, forestry residues, organic wastes or energy crops converted into electricity via combustion, gasification, or biogas fermentation systems. There are bonus incentives to encourage the use of certified sustainable raw materials, and for the simultaneous use of biomass in combined heat and power (CHP, or co-generation) plants, known for their high efficiency. According to the government agency 'Invest in Germany', increased domestic demand for biomass technologies and products is bringing major investors to Germany.

The amendment also calls for a higher feed-in tariff for wind energy. The new law raises the feed in tariff to a range of 9.2-15 Eurocent/KWh.

The parliament also reformed the EEG for electricity from solar energy. Photovoltaic (PV) systems will receive a very high feed-in tariff ranging between 33-43 Eurocent/KWh, depending on the amount of electricity sold to the public grid. According to the new law the tariff will decrease between 8 and 10% in 2010 and then 9% annually after 2011.

Even though the current subsidies for solar PV are very high, the falling tariffs are evidence to investors that Germany is making significant progress in reducing the cost of electricity generation from PV sources, therefore making subsidized prices less necessary to attract investment. This progress has been made thanks to highly qualified workers in the PV sector in Germany, the location of top research institutes, and leading suppliers. These conditions make Germany an attractive location for production or R&D in the PV sector.

The climate package also calls for the promotion of heat from renewable sources [*German]. These laws require that from 2009 onwards all new buildings have heating systems deriving heat from clean energy systems. Financial incentives will be made available to equip older buildings with such technologies. These laws provide a ready made market for investors in energy efficient heating technologies such as biomass pellet heating, (biomass) based combined heat and power (CHP), geothermal or solar thermal heating:
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For biomass, geothermal and solar thermal heating there is more than €500 million of available funding.

'Invest in Germany' says investors in heat-producing technologies also have growth possibilities in the sector of (biomass based) CHP systems. Here the federal government has made €750 million available annually to support CHP projects. The government has set the specific goal of having 25% of energy and heat coming from efficient parallel-production technologies by 2020.

All of these legal reforms, plus others that encourage energy efficient technologies, such as "intelligent electricity meters," make it clear that Germany is consolidating its position as world leader in renewable energies and offering many possibilities for foreign investors to enter its growing market.

'Invest in Germany' is the inward investment promotion agency of the Federal Republic of Germany. It provides investors with comprehensive support from site selection to the implementation of investment decisions.

Image: One of many biomass power plants in Germany; 14.2MWel plant in Wicker. Credit: KAB Takuna, GmbH, Kraftwerksanlagenbau.


Deutscher Bundestag: Mehr erneuerbare Energien - Treibhausgasemissionen sollen um 36 Prozent sinken ["More Renewable Energies - Greenhouse gas emissions should fall by 36 per cent"] - June 10, 2009.

Deutsche Energie Agentur: Pflicht ab 2009: Wärme aus Erneuerbaren Energien - Häuslebauer heizen mit Sonne, Erdwärme oder Holz ["Duty from 2009 onwards: heating from renewables; home builders must heat with solar, geothermal or wood"] - June 6, 2009.

Invest in Germany: New German Renewable Energies Law Strengthens Sector Investment - June 09, 2008.


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