A new year—new issues, new aims and ambitions. In the first snippet of Market Insights let us see what are the most pressing issues in the political economy in this year. Let us start with the European shock—Brexit. Theresa May has said to invoke the article 50 in March. Pound Sterling is expected go down in the coming months as the uncertainty looms over the economic performance of the UK under the new trade relations the medium and method of which will be formed in the coming months.
It can take years as well. In the words of the UK Ambassador, Sir Ivan Rogers, who sang his swan song few days back saying that “Brexit negotiations can take up to 10 years.” The elections in France and then afterwards in Germany and Netherlands also pose threat to the integration of EU subsequently affecting the economic health of the zone.
US dollar is in news of-late. It has surged to a 14 years high. This rally has pros and cons. More cons if we consider the plight of the countries that have to buy the commodities in US dollars. A strong dollar may prove detrimental for US companies as the demand for their products outside US becomes low. Last year when Federal Reserve Bank of America increased its interest rate by 0.25 percent the US Iphone giant—Apple Inc. suffered a loss of billions as its demand in China (which constitutes one third of demand for Iphone) plunged down. A strong dollar creates trouble for other countries as well. China, of-late, is fighting a ‘capital flight’. Around $500bn of capital has fluttered from China and settled into US.
Crude Oil which was the most talked about commodity in 2016 (actually it has always been) has seen its best year after 2014. While touching $26 a barrel it now stands at $56 in the aftermath of the Vienna deal on November 30th. The OPEC and NOPEC oil producers have been successful reaching an entente which will take out 1.8 mbpd of supply out of the glut. The deal has been put into effect from 1st January and a meeting has been called for monitoring the results (too early) on 21st and 22nd January. Future of oil prices solely depends upon the cooperation between the OPEC and NOPEC members. Especially, Russia. Albeit, the history of cooperation in past is checkered this time the countries seem serious. And there is a reason for it. Saudi Arabia, who has taken the largest individual production cut, has suffered a lot from this war between Sheikhs and Shale. Russia is tackling a declining economy as it suffers from low oil prices and sanctions from the West. Venezuela is the worst of all. Not only economically but also politically. There is a referendum brewing there as well. The threat to the deal however comes from the countries that have been given exemption: Nigeria, Libya, and Iraq. Libya, few days ago, added 85,000 of barrels in production. The deal hinges on the whims of the leaders but the case should have been otherwise.
China economy is still in the process of shifting from Old to New. Chinese growth is expected to slow down from 6.7pc to 6.5 pc this year. A troublesome real-estate market, less investments and other structural issues further fuels the concerns. Russia’s economy is expected to do well—but only slight—as the prospects of oil prices improve. Europe is preparing to embrace with a rightist flood and on-going refugee crisis. And we hope that it gets through with it. Middle-East especially Syria, is, of-late experiencing a truce but as it has always been, this peace is extremely susceptible and temporary.
The world in 2017 is full of challenges. It is up to us, now, either we deal with them or they with us.
Australia’s commitment to affordable, secure and clean energy
Australia should rely on long-term policy and energy market responses to strengthen energy security, foster competition, and make the power sector more resilient, according to the International Energy Agency’s latest review of the country’s energy policies.
In line with global trends, Australia’s energy system is undergoing a profound transformation, putting its energy markets under pressure. Concerns about affordable and secure energy supplies have grown in recent years, following several power outages, a tightening gas market in the east coast and rising energy prices.
Besides assessing progress since the IEA review of 2012, the Australian government requested the IEA to focus on how Australia can use global best practices in transitioning to a lower-carbon energy system. This question points to safeguarding electricity supply when ageing coal capacity retires, increased variable renewable energy comes on line and natural gas markets are tight. In this context, the IEA also contributed to the Independent Review into the Future Security of the National Electricity Market (NEM) by Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel.
“The government’s efforts to ensure energy security and move ahead with market reforms have been impressive. Australia can develop its vast renewable resources and remain a cornerstone of global energy markets as a leading supplier of coal, uranium and liquefied natural gas (LNG), securing the energy for growing Asian markets.” said Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director, who presented the report’s findings in Canberra. “A comprehensive national energy and climate strategy is needed for Australia to have a cleaner and more secure energy future. The National Energy Guarantee is a promising opportunity for Australia to integrate climate and energy policy.”
Along with the United States, Australia is leading the next wave of growth in liquefied natural gas (LNG). As a major exporter of coal, Australia is also a strong supporter of carbon capture, utilization and storage technologies. The report commends Australia’s efforts which can be critical globally to meeting long-term climate goals.
The IEA’s review points out that the sustainable development of new gas resources is critical for natural gas to play a growing role in the energy transition, satisfying a growing domestic gas demand in power generation and industry and to honor export contracts at the same time. The report calls on Australia to continue efforts to improve transparency of gas pricing, boost market integration and facilitate access to transportation capacity.
Welcoming the government’s energy security focus, including the creation of the Energy Security Board, the Energy Security Office, and Australia’s plan to return to compliance with the IEA’s emergency stock holding obligations, the IEA recommends regular and comprehensive energy security assessments to identify risks early on, and foster the resilience of the energy sector.
In terms of power system security, the report offers a series of recommendations on how to improve the market design of the National Energy Market (NEM), one of the most liberalised and flexible power markets in the world. To accommodate higher shares of variable renewables, the IEA recommends that the NEM prioritises measures to safeguard system stability, enhance grid infrastructure, including interconnections, and regularly upgrade technical standards. As consumer choice and prices in retail markets are liberalised across Australia, the government needs to focus on wholesale competition and demand-side flexibility, in recognition of the changing ways energy is produced and consumed, thus contributing to reducing peak demand.
5 myths about solar panels, debunked
Home solar panels can drastically cut or even eliminate electricity bills, reduce a home’s carbon footprint, increase resale value, and may even help a home sell faster.
The cost of rooftop solar systems has fallen dramatically in recent years, and most homeowners have the option of buying the system, leasing it on reasonable payment terms, or having a third-party pay for and install the system at no up-front cost at all for the homeowner. Plus, home solar systems are eligible for federal tax credits.
All of this explains why the number of homeowners installing solar has sky-rocketed across America. Nevertheless, many homeowners remain skeptical about taking control of their energy use and installing solar. Why? The various myths that still persist around solar power could be the reason.
“Solar technology has been around for a long time, but even though it’s entered the mainstream, many homeowners are still skeptical,” says renewable energy expert Roger Ballentine, president of Green Strategies, a leading Washington-based consulting firm. “That’s because a number of myths persist, pointing to the need for better consumer education about the benefits of home solar installations.”
Ballentine points to private and government studies providing real information that debunks the myths surrounding solar power. For example, research by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found solar panels help homes sell faster and for more money than those without solar.
If you’re considering installing a solar panel system on your home, here are five common myths — and why you shouldn’t believe them:
Myth 1: Solar panels only work if you live in a warm, sunny climate
While solar panels work best when they get a lot of sun, a lack of bright sun doesn’t mean they’re not working. Panels can still absorb ambient sunlight, even on cloudy days or in regions that get less bright sun. What’s more, today’s solar panels are more energy efficient than ever. Newer systems like the “LG NeOn R” maximize sunlight absorption and generate the maximum possible output — as much as 26 percent more than other comparably sized solar panels. This higher efficiency means that solar panels can work in virtually any climate and every season.
Myth 2: You need a lot of roof space for solar panels
Just like other amazing technologies (think microchips), solar panels are getting smaller, more powerful and more efficient. High-efficiency panels take up less space because fewer panels are required to produce the electricity needed to power your home. So even a smaller home could have enough roof space to fit the number of panels needed to generate the necessary power and save you money.
Myth 3: Installation is a long, drawn-out hassle
While adding solar panels to your home isn’t a DIY project, installation usually takes only a day or two. New models streamline the process further, eliminating the need to install a separate inverter. Most solar panels require a separate inverter to bring electricity into your house, but new panels from LG, for instance, incorporate the inverter, simplifying and accelerating the installation process.
Myth 4: If something goes wrong, you’re on your own
As with any major investment in your home, you should make sure you understand the manufacturer and installer warranties for your solar panels, including how long the coverage lasts and what types of problems are covered. One leading solar player, LG, even offers an industry-leading, 25-year product and power warranty. And unlike a furnace or an air conditioning system, a solar installation has no moving parts to wear out and typically requires little maintenance and repair.
Myth 5: Solar panels will look big, bulky and ugly on your roof
Solar panels are becoming smaller, sleeker and more aesthetically pleasing. Higher-efficiency models are also offering increased flexibility of configuration. Instead of having to cover an entire roof with panels in a specific arrangement in order to generate power, modern options allow you to arrange panels to meet your sense of aesthetics.
Adding solar power to a home offers homeowners many benefits, from reducing energy costs, to increasing the value of your home and helping the environment, Ballentine says. “Overall, it’s a decision most homeowners feel positively about once they’ve made it.” The NREL notes in its study: “Buyers of homes with (solar panel) systems are more satisfied than are comparison buyers. A significantly higher percentage … indicate they would buy the same houses again.”
ADB-Supported Kyrgyz Republic’s Largest Hydropower Plant Achieves Key Milestone
JSC Electric Power Plants (EPP), the major state-owned power generation company in the Kyrgyz Republic, today announced the award of a turn-key contract for the Asian Development Bank-supported (ADB) modernization of the Toktogul hydropower plant (HPP) to a joint venture of GE Hydro (France) and GE Renewables (Switzerland) for $104 million.
The modernization project includes new state-of-the-art units which will improve safety, efficiency, reliability, and availability of the Toktogul HPP, located on the Naryn River in the Jalal-Abad Province and considered the country’s largest and most important hydropower plant, increasing its overall capacity to 1,440 megawatts. The additional capacity will be sufficient to supply about 200,000 households for an entire year.
ADB and the Eurasian Development Bank (EDB) financed the replacement of four units of the Toktogul HPP, which has been generating about 6,000 gigawatt hours per year for 43 years. Because of aging equipment, however, the plant has experienced increasing number of failures in recent years.
“ADB has been supporting the energy sector in the Kyrgyz Republic since 1996 as the rehabilitation, replacement, and augmentation of power sector assets are critical for energy security in the country”, said Candice McDeigan, ADB’s Country Director for the Kyrgyz Republic.
“The phased rehabilitation of the Toktogul plant has been the key priority for ADB’s energy sector support in the Kyrgyz Republic and its timely rehabilitation is key to the country’s plan to export summer surplus to Afghanistan and Pakistan through the CASA-1000 power transmission line”, said Ashok Bhargava, Director for the Energy Division at ADB’s Central and West Asia Department.
EPP commenced phased rehabilitation of the Toktogul HPP project in 2012, starting with the refurbishment of the secondary electrical and mechanical equipment, the rehabilitation of two Toktogul units, and later completed by the remaining two Toktogul units, with an overall target completion by 2024-2026. The latest milestone was a result of the extensive competition among all major players and EPP’s innovative approach to procurement and design, which brought in competitive pricing and accelerated completion of the project by 3 years.
“In 2016, EPP decided to fast track the procurement of the four turbines and generators of the Toktogul HPP through single procurement for economies of scale, resulting to completion three years early. With ADB support, the EPP conducted multiple roadshows to improve the
procurement design based on industry feedback and international best practice to increase completion for the project,” said EPP General Director Uzak Kydyrbaev.
GE Capital, the ultimate parent of the GE consortium, has provided a guarantee to support its operation in the Kyrgyz Republic. GE has committed to commission the first unit by November 2020, and one additional unit each year by November 2023
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