106 poor families received financial support from SUPA – a EU-funded project

The first pilot pangasius batch that was raised and harvested in a model farm under the EU-funded project – “Establishing a Sustainable Pangasius Supply Chain in Vietnam” (SUPA) – was sold to give financial support to 106 poor families in Tan Phu Ward with the approval of the European Union.

This is an unexpected significant achievement of the project after 2 years of construction and 6 months in operation of the model farm. It is located at the study site of Can Tho University to serve research, placement, experiment, and professional training, as well as demonstrate new technologies before applying in pangasius farms and households.

Speaking at the event, Mr Nguyen Van Tam (Chairman) was on behalf of Tan Phu’s People Committee, acknowledged the European Union, SUPA project, and Can Tho University for the contribution, kindness, and humanity to help the poor in the project site, especially on the occasion of upcoming Tet holiday.

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The pictures at donated event

Participating in this event were representatives of Tan Phu ward, Can Tho University, and SUPA project. On behalf of Tan Phu ward, Mr. Nguyen Van Tam – Chairman, Mr. Pham Hung Thong – Party committee secretary, and representatives of the organizations and unions of Tan Phu ward participated in the event. Dr. Tran Ngoc Hai and Dr. Nguyen Thanh Long – Vice dean of College of Aquaculture and Fisheries of Can Tho University, Dr. Pham Thanh Liem – Deputy Chairman of Freshwater Aquaculture Department, Dr. Nguyen Van Trieu – Director of Centre of High-tech Aquaculture, were representatives of Can Tho University. Importantly, Mr. Le Xuan Thinh, Deputy director of VNCPC/ Project manager of SUPA and 106 poor households presented.

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The speech of Tan Phu’s chairman

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Representatives of the poor and beneficial households

To close the event, Tan Phu’s People Committee highlighted contribution of SUPA and Can Tho University by giving a thankful certificate. Hopefully, the project will be successful and generate more meaningful activities for local people in Mekong Delta region.

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Can Tho University and SUPA received the certificate from Tan Phu’s People Committee

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Representatives from all participated organizations

 

Source: VNCPC Admin

World’s coal power plants consume enough freshwater to sustain 1 billion people – Greenpeace

The world’s rapidly dwindling freshwater resources could be further depleted if plans for hundreds of new coal power plants worldwide go ahead, threatening severe drought and competition, according to a new Greenpeace International report.

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The report is the first global plant-by-plant study of the coal industry’s current and future water demand. The research also identifies the regions that are already in water deficit, where existing and proposed coal plants would speed up the depletion of water resources.

“If all the proposed coal plants would be built the water consumed by coal power plants around the world would almost double. We now know that coal not only pollutes our skies and fuels climate change, it also deprives us of our most precious resources: water,” said Harri Lammi, senior global campaigner on coal at Greenpeace East Asia.

Globally, 8,359 existing coal power plant units already consume enough water to meet the basic water needs of 1 billion people. A quarter of the proposed new coal plants are planned in regions already running a freshwater deficit, where water is used faster than it is naturally replenishing, which Greenpeace calls red-list areas.

The top countries with proposed additional coal plant capacity in red-list areas are China (237 GW), India (52 GW) and Turkey (7 GW).  Almost half of the proposed Chinese coal fleet is in red-list areas. In India and Turkey this figure is 13%.

Coal is one of the most water-intensive methods of generating electricity. According to the International Energy Agency, coal will account for 50% of the growth in global water consumption for power generation over the next 20 years. Greenpeace research shows that if the proposed coal plants come online, their consumption of water will increase by 90%. Given the deepening water crisis in the major coal power bases, it is unbelievable that plans for hundreds of new coal plants are even being considered.

“Governments must recognise that replacing coal with renewable energy will not only help them deliver on their climate agreements, but also deliver huge water savings. It’s more urgent than ever that we move towards a 100% renewable future,” said Iris Cheng, lead author of the Greenpeace International report.

Greenpeace proposes three key policy steps, which, taken together, can turn around the coal industry’s water use:

  • An immediate moratorium on coal expansion in regions with high water stress, and a transition from thirsty coal to energy that uses little or no water, like solar PV and wind.
  • Replacing the planned coal plants in the red-list areas with renewable energy, such as solar PV and wind power, would avoid consumption of 1.8 billion cubic metres of water per year in China, and 1.2 billion cubic meters per year in India.
  • Closing plants that have been operating for 40 years. The US could save a staggering 9 billion cubic meters of water by shutting down its old coal power plants.

Source: Greenpeace.org

The Global Atlas for Renewable Energy

The Global Atlas for Renewable Energy is an initiative coordinated by IRENA, aimed at closing the gap between nations having access to the necessary datasets, expertise and financial support to evaluate their national renewable energy potential, and those countries lacking such elements.

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Source: assets.inhabitat.com

As of January, 2015, 67 countries and more than 50 institutes and partners were contributing to the initiative.

The Global Atlas facilitates a first screening of opportunity where further assessments can be of particular relevance. it enables the user to overlay information listed in a catalog of more than 1,000 datasts, and to identify areas of interest for further prospection. IRENA is continuously adding information to the system.

Currently, the initiative includes maps on solar, wind, geothermal and bioenergy resources along with one marine energy map. The initiative will eventually encompass all renewable energy resources, providing global coverage through the first-ever Global Atlas for Renewable Energy.

The GIS interface enables users to visualize information on renewable energy resources, and to overlay additional information. These include, population density, topography, local infrastructure, land use and protected areas. The aim is to enable users to identify areas of interest for further prospection. The GIS interface will progressively integrate software and tools that will allow advanced energy or economic calculations for assessing the technical and economic potential of renewable energy.

On the GIS interface, users can edit the map and add several other datasets from the catalog. The new map can be saved under the user’s personal profile.

Users of the Global Atlas can also launch the Catalog directly and search collections of descriptive information (metadata) for every dataset listed in the catalog. These include, the title of the dataset, the source, the contact person for the dataset and any information on data quality. The web map service (WMS) for the dataset is also included for use in third party applications.

Selected datasets are also accessible through the Global Atlas pocket. The app allows to seek and search renewable energy resource arround you or for any point on the globe. Available on Android, iOS, BlackBerry and Windows Phone stores.

Available at globalatlas.irena.org

Vietnam rice boom heaping pressure on farmers, environment

Rice farmer Nguyen Hien Thien is so busy growing his crops that he has never even visited Can Tho, a town only a few miles from his farm in the southern Mekong Delta.

“When I was a child, we grew one crop of rice per year — now it’s three. It’s a lot of work,” 60-year-old Thien, who has been farming since he was a child, told AFP on the edge of his small paddy field.

Experts say Vietnam’s drive to become one of the world’s leading rice exporters is pushing farmers in the fertile delta region to the brink, with mounting costs to the environment.

The country is already the world’s second largest exporter of the staple grain. But intensive rice cultivation, particularly the shift to producing three crops per year, is taking its toll on farmers and the ecosystem.

“Politicians want to be the world’s number one or two rice exporter. As a scientist, I want to see more being done to protect farmers and the environment,” said Vietnamese rice expert Vo Tong Xuan.

A major famine in 1945 and food shortages in the post-war years led to the government adopting a “rice first” policy.

This now generates far more of the crop than needed to feed Vietnam’s 90 million population and has catalyzed a thriving export industry.

Workers load paddy onto a boat for a customer at Co Do Agriculture Company in the southern Mekong delta province of Can Tho. Photo:AFP

Rice yields have nearly quadrupled since the 1970s, official figures show, thanks to high-yield strains and the construction of a network of dykes that today allow farmers to grow up to three crops per year.

The amount of land under cultivation in the Mekong Delta has also expanded and quotas are in place to prevent farmers from switching to other crops.

But experts are questioning who really benefits.

According to Xuan, farmers don’t reap the rewards of the three crop system — the rice is low quality and they spend more on pesticides and fertilizers, which become less effective year by year.

Falling quality

He argues the delta would be better off if farmers cultivated a more diverse range of crops, from coconuts to prawns, with just the most suitable land used to grow rice.

The country should consider abandoning the third crop and focus on improving quality and branding to sell Vietnamese rice at higher prices, he said.

Currently, the bulk of Vietnam’s rice is exported at cut-price costs on government-to-government contracts through large state-owned enterprises (SOEs) like the Southern Food Corporation, known as Vinafood 2.

“Over the last five years, the trend is towards lower-quality rice,” admitted Le Huu Trang, deputy office manager at the firm.

Some argue that such SOEs have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo as they earn lucrative kickbacks from the huge contracts.

A farmer throws fertilizer on his family rice field in the southern Mekong delta province of Can Tho. Photo: AFP

But even as salt water intrusion, drought and flooding increase in the delta — to say nothing of agricultural chemical pollution — it is also hard to convince farmers to change.

“The prevailing mindset is to grow three crops… we have to explain two crops is better,” said Nguyen Tuan Hiep from the Co Do Agriculture company.

Over the last 20 years, Co Do — which is state-run but a flagship model of how the industry could evolve — has identified the best rice-growing land in the delta and helped farmers expand their farms.

They now work with 2,500 families on 5,900 hectares (14,600 acres) of land, enough for each family to make a living — typically the average rice farm in the delta spans less than one hectare.

The firm invests heavily in high-quality seeds and improving irrigation, while also advising farmers on the best chemicals to use.

“Two crops is more sustainable long term — the soil is not degraded, the environment isn’t polluted, and value of the rice increases,” Hiep said.

‘Ground zero’

Climate change is another factor threatening the delta, according to the World Bank Group’s vice president and special envoy for climate change Rachel Kyte.

“This is really ground zero for some of the most difficult adaptation, planning challenges that any country in the world has,” she said.

Nguyen Thi Lang walks among new rice varieties she is developing at the Vietnam Rice Research Institute in the southern Mekong delta province of Can Tho. Photo: AFP

Ultimately Vietnam has tough choices to make, including whether to help people transition from a rice-based economy to aquaculture (fish or shellfish farming) or other crops, Kyte added.

The environmental costs of maintaining Vietnam’s current level of rice production are also rising.

The system of dykes, which blocks flood water, are preventing soil nutrients from flowing freely and over time “soil fertility will fade”, said Tran Ngoc Thac, deputy director of Vietnam’s Rice Research Institute.

Scientists there are busy trying to breed new strains of rice that require fewer fertilizers and can survive in extreme weather.

“If farmers don’t change, if we can’t find a suitable new rice strain, pollution will continue and incomes will drop,” Thac said, adding these measures were essential to save the delta.

Source: tuoitrenews.vn

As Vietnam struggles to attract foreign tourists, more Vietnamese take overseas trips

While Vietnam has been losing its tourism appeal to holidaymakers worldwide, tourists from the Southeast Asian country are valued customers of many tour organizers in other countries as they are willing to pay for overseas trips.

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Vietnamese tourists are seen on Boracay Island in the Philippines

Around five million Vietnamese people spent their holidays outside the country last year, a healthy growth rate of up to 20 percent, according to the Vietnam Travel Association.

The figure is expected to continue rising this year and Vietnam has emerged as a potential market for travel firms around the globe, the association said.

“If each Vietnamese vacationer spends an average of US$300 per trip, Vietnam loses some $1.5 billion from tourist spending annually,” said the association’s deputy chairman Vu The Binh.

This is quite contrary to the fact that the number of international tourists choosing to spend their holidays in Vietnam during the first two months of this year dropped 10.6 percent compared to the same period last year, according to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism.

Industry insiders have pointed to the country’s lack of diversified tourism products, rigid visa rules, and a polluted environment.

But these shortcomings cannot be found in other regional countries.

With Japan easing visa requirements for Vietnamese on organized tours starting late last year, the number of Vietnamese tourists traveling to the East Asian country has soared dramatically, according to industry insiders.

“Long lines could be seen in front of the Consulate General of Japan in Ho Chi Minh City on a daily basis after the Lunar New Year [in February],” Thu Pham, a tourist guide, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, referring to the visa application for trips to the East Asian country.

“You would not see this a year earlier.”

The general director of a tour organizer in Ho Chi Minh City also said bookings for Japan packages to watch the cherry blossoms have increased 40 percent compared to last year.

His company has also managed to find customers for packages to the EU, the U.S., and such regional destinations as Cambodia and Thailand.

The company received 150 bookings worth a total of VND920 million ($42,874), more than 50 percent of which are for packages to the said destinations, during its first day attending the week-long Ho Chi Minh City Tourism Festival 2015, which concluded Sunday, according to the executive.

Many other major Vietnamese travel companies told Tuoi Tre there are huge numbers of bookings for tours to South Korea, Taiwan, and the U.S.

The third annual Vietnam International Travel Mart, the country’s largest such event, is slated to run in Hanoi from April 3 to 6.

Representatives from other countries’ tourism administrations will account for nearly a third of the booths at the event to attract Vietnamese customers, according to the organizers.

Enviable approaches

The approaches other countries apply to attract Vietnamese vacationers could make travel firms in Vietnam envious as they seem unable to receive such support from local tourism authorities.

Many websites of the national tourism administrations of other countries are available in the Vietnamese language, and they provide detailed information on where to stay, what to do, or how to use public transportation in their countries.

“We feel upset seeing that they have such a professional approach to promoting tourism,” the director of a local travel agency said.

While Vietnam has been criticized for failing to introduce their tourism beauties to the world through effective marketing campaigns, the travel agencies of other countries are hugely supported by their tourism authorities to do so.

“The tourism administrations [of other countries] give financial support to run ads in Vietnamese media or to print leaflets or brochures,” said Nguyen Quoc Ky, general director of Vietravel, a leading travel firm in Vietnam.

“Their ultimate goal is to have as many Vietnamese tourists visiting their countries as possible.”

The mayor of the Japanese city of Sapporo has also come to Vietnam to meet with local travel companies and proposed helping them with bringing Vietnamese holidaymakers to Japan.

“He came and asked what they could do for us to bring [Vietnamese] tourists to Sapporo,” Ky recalled.

Vietnamese tourists usually follow the ‘golden itinerary,’ which covers Tokyo, Mount Fuji, Osaka, and Kyoto for their Japan trips, and other Japanese localities are trying to attract these vacationers to their own destinations.

“Representatives from authorities of many Japanese localities have also come to Vietnam and asked us to bring tourists there,” said Lam Tu Khoi, director of outbound tours with Saigontourist.

“They are willing to cut prices, reduce or exempt airport fees, and provide shuttle buses for us, as long as Vietnamese tourists will visit their localities.”

Source: tuoitrenews.vn

“Low carbon transition in energy efficiency sector in Vietnam” programme (2013-2015)

Denmark strengthens its support for Vietnam’s Green Growth through a new programme handling energy efficiency in Small and Medium Enterprises and in large buildings.

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There is huge potential in improving energy efficiency in brick kilns, Bac Ninh province. (Photo: Nguyen Xuan Quang)

As a result of a long-term dialogue on low carbon transition within the energy sector in Vietnam, specifically targeting energy efficiency initiatives between the Governments of Vietnam and Denmark, a new project entitled “Low carbon transition in energy efficiency sector in Viet Nam” has been signed by Danish Ministry of Climate, Energy and Buildings (MCEB) and Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT) in November 2012, funded by the Global Framework under the Climate Envelope 2012.

The project takes place from January 2013 to December 2015 including an inception phase of 6 months, covering a total budget of DKK 65 million. In alignment with the present cooperation within energy efficiency under the Danida climate change adaptation and mitigation programme (2008-2015), this project provides targeted budget support to the Vietnam Energy Efficiency Programme (VNEEP, 2006-2015).
The project consists of two components: The first supports the Ministry of Industry and Trade in promoting energy efficiency in the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) with a focus on the brick, ceramic and food processing sectors while the second provides support to the Ministry of Construction (MOC) in implementing the building codes for energy efficiency.

The development objective of the project is: “Improved energy efficiency in small and medium enterprises and buildings in Viet Nam contributes to sustainable development and a transition to a low carbon economy”. This objective is consistent with both the VNEEP phase 2 objectives and current Danida support to VNEEP.

The immediate objectives and activities are identified as:

Component 1 – Energy efficiency in SMEs: “Small and medium enterprises in at least 3 sectors adopt energy efficiency measures that will contribute to the VNEEP energy saving targets of between 5-10%. This objective will be achieved through support to project #2.3 under the VNEEP 2011-15, complemented by the initiation of lasting partnerships between Vietnamese and Danish industries. Under this component, a budget of DKK 35 million is reserved to support bankable energy efficiency investment projects of SMEs.

Component 2 – Energy efficiency in buildings: “Improved capacity for implementing energy efficiency in large buildings improves and contributes to the VNEEP energy saving targets of between 5-8%.” This objective will be achieved through support to project #3.1/3.2 under the VNEEP 2011-15, complemented by the initiation of a partnership between the MOC (Viet Nam) and MCEB (Denmark).

The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Office (EECO) under the MOIT is the focal point in managing the project.

Source: vietnam.um.dk

Swedish parliament speaker visits Vietnam, attends IPU-132

Swedish Parliament Speaker Urban Ahlin is slated to begin his five-day visit to Vietnam on Saturday on the occasion of Sweden’s participation in the 132nd Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) that opens in Hanoi the same day, the Swedish Embassy said on Thursday in a press release.

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The speaker of the Swedish Parliament Urban Ahlin

Speaker Ahlin is travelling with a delegation of six parliamentarians from four different political parties, the press release said, adding that they together represent Sweden in two very important committees, the steering Committee on the WTO and the Committee on Middle East Questions.

During his visit, Ahlin will meet with high-ranking  Vietnamese officials to discuss and promote Sweden’s cooperation with Vietnam in such areas as parliamentary exchange, economics and trade and higher education.

The Swedish Speaker will hold talks with Vietnam’s  National Assembly Chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung and will later pay a courtesy visit to Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.

He will also have separate meetings with Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Kim Tien and Minister of Transport Dinh La Thang.

Health and transport have been identified as two potential sectors of intensified business opportunities and technology transfer between Sweden and Vietnam.

During his visit, Speaker Ahlin is also scheduled to participate in a field visit to ABB’s transformer factory in Bac Ninh province and join a campaign to raise public awareness about traffic safety.

Ahlin said he is delighted to visit Vietnam for the first time to attend the IPU-132 and to witness the prosperous development of what is considered to be a unique and special bilateral relationship between the two nations, the press release said.

Sweden was the first Western country to establish diplomatic relations with Vietnam already in 1969.

“My visit serves to strengthen ties between our countries and our peoples and provide opportunities for mutual understanding of good parliamentary practices and contributing to the enhancement of trade flows, investment and technology transfers between Sweden and Vietnam,” the press release quoted Ahlin as saying prior to the visit.

The IPU, which is to run from March 28 to April 1, will comprise of a series of meetings and discussion sessions covering the above subjects, among other important issues, under the common theme of “Sustainable Development Goals: Turning Words Into Actions”.

Source: tuoitrenews.vn

IPP offers funding grant to Vietnam’s startups & incubators

Vietnamese startups  and incubators will have an opportunity to receive a grant of up to 300,000 Euros ($316,120) and 200,000 Euros ($210,750), respectively, from the Innovation Partnership Program (IPP), as part of their second round of funding.

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A promising startup can get up to 30,000 euros ($31,612), while an effective incubator will be supported with the maximum amount of 50,000 euros ($52,670) for the initial round The companies are meant to use the money to pay for human resources and/or research costs.

Notably, the grants are not subjected to refund or any equity/ownership of the companies.

The IPP program, jointly developed by the Finnish government and Vietnam’s Ministry of Science and Technology, has attracted some 200 Vietnam-based startups after calling for an ‘expression of interest’ across four cities in Vietnam, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang and Can Tho.

About 40 startups from Hanoi, pitched their ideas at an IPP program, this morning. Meanwhile, the grant call is expected to be announced in a couple of weeks’ time.

Until then, IPP will assist the startups with mentoring and incubating, in both management expertise and networking with investors.

“When the grant call opens, we will stop our assistance to assure fair competition between the young companies,” said Riku Makela, senior advisor for the program.

This year, the IPP looks for support 20 to 30 projects regardless of the nationality of the startup owners, as long as they are registered in Vietnam and have the potential of global expansion.

To be eligible for IPP funding, the startups must show a plan stating clearly the solution provided and the benefit to the customers, their competition and alternatives, and the resources linked to the core teams as well as their networks.

According to Nguyen Trong Nghia, e-commerce advisor and founder of online travel platform bizigo.vn, this is a huge opportunity for Vietnamese startups to get to know how they can develop in an early stage before entering any funding calling round. “Many startups collapse before they could get seed funding,” he said, adding that startups really need money but also need a mentor.

The majority of Vietnamese startups are founded by information technology engineers or marketing professionals, who often lack comprehensive expertise in doing business, Nghia said.

While the size of Vietnam-based incubators and accelerators is still small, Makela thinks they could join hands to offer more support to startups.

Source: www.dealstreetasia.com

How bamboo bioenergy can help power remote communities

Bioenergy has increased in popularity as a desirable form of energy over the past decade. Europe has been the leader in this innovation, driven predominantly through the use of wood waste from the United States.

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However, sustainability and the high carbon footprint associated with the transportation of the material often long distances between source and energy plants, and the industry in general have been controversial.

Yet there are instances in which bioenergy can be a truly sustainable source of power, in a context where alternatives are simply not feasible.

The island nation of Indonesia is one of the fastest growing countries in the world. Their deforestation footprint is significant, grouping them together with China and the United States as one of the world’s top emitters of greenhouse gases.

With more than 17,000 islands and a rapidly growing economy, energy security for the more developed islands, and electrification of the less developed islands has become a priority for the government under new President Widodo.

Under Widodo’s proposed energy reform, a government mandate of moving the country towards renewable forms of power, and in the context of an island nation, there are three main requirements which determine the suitability of any particular form of renewable energy: it must be distributed; it must be local; and it must be available on demand. Bioenergy meets all these requirements.

Indonesian entity Clean Power Indonesia (CPI) has signed an exclusive agreement to bring General Electric’s biogasification technology to the island of Bali. With an ever growing tourism industry, the island’s need for energy is on the rise.

But for bioenergy to be both renewable and environmentally positive, a secure and stable feedstock is required, and this feedstock must be produced to the benefit, rather than the detriment of the environment. The solution? Commercially grown and sustainably harvested bamboo.

US based EcoPlanet Bamboo Group has co-invested with CPI in the development of GE’s plant, and committed to convert degraded land in proximity to the bioenergy facilities into a permanent source of feedstock. Non invasive tropical clumping bamboo reaches maturity within seven years, and thereafter a portion of each plant can be harvested annually, providing a continuous supply of biomass without the need to replant, and maintaining a continuous canopy cover and ecosystem.

Grown on degraded land, and with minimal transportation requirements, this closed loop production system will provide a carbon neutral form of power to an island well known for its positive attitude towards green living.

And the added benefit? The restoration of degraded land into bamboo forests has been shown to regenerate water tables, securing more regular rainfall patterns and increasing the occurrence of streams, rivers and other water bodies.

EcoPlanet Bamboo Group has already proven the concept of sustainability with regards to the commercial production of bamboo feedstock. The company’s plantations in Central America are triple certified with Forest Stewardship Council for their sustainable management, Verified Carbon Standard for their climate change benefits, and gold level Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standards for their quantified positive impact on both the environment and surrounding populations.

If the model is successful, its potential to be replicated across the Indonesian archipelago and provide an alternative to the use of diesel generators is immense.

Source: http://www.clickgreen.com/

Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2014

The competitiveness of renewable power generation technologies continued improving in 2013 and 2014, reaching historic levels. Biomass for power, hydropower, geothermal and onshore wind can all provide electricity competitively against fossil fuel-fired power generation. Solar photovoltaic (PV) power has also become increasingly competitive, with its levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) at utility scale falling by half in four years.

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Click here to download.

Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2014 aims to reduced uncertainty about the true costs of renewable power generation technologies, so that governments can be more ambitious and efficient in their policy support for renewables. As this comprehensive report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) underlines, perceptions that such technologies are expensive or uncompetitive are outdated, at best.

Full report

Executive Summary

The report follows from IRENA’s first major costing study, Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2012.

For more of IRENA’s ongoing renewable energy cost analysis, see www.irena.org/costs.

Source: irena.org