Global renewables jobs boom to 7.7 million
According to a report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the global renewable energy industry employed 7.7 million people, directly or indirectly, in 2014 – an 18% increase on the 6.5 million jobs reported in 2013. Large hydro directly employed another 1.5 million in 2014. IRENA expects the number to more than double, to around 16 million jobs, by 2030.
"Renewable energy continues to assert itself as a major global employer, generating strong economic and social benefits worldwide," said IRENA Director-General Adnan Amin. "This increase is being driven, in part, by declining renewable energy technology costs, which creates more jobs in installation, operations and maintenance."
According to the IRENA report, solar PV was the largest renewable energy employer in 2014, with 2.5 million jobs worldwide, followed by liquid biofuels (1.8 million), wind (1 million), biomass (822,000), solar heating/cooling (764,000), biogas (381,000), small hydro (209,000), and geothermal (154,000).
China was the world's largest renewable energy employer in 2014, with 3.4 million jobs.
IRENA, 19 May 2015, 'Renewable Energy and Jobs: Annual Review 2015',
Record solar growth
A record amount of solar power was added to the world's grids in 2014, pushing total capacity to 100 times the level it was in the year 2000.1,2 Around 40 gigawatts was installed last year, raising total installed capacity to 178 GW. China (10.6 GW), Japan (9.7 GW) and the US (6.5 GW) were the leaders.
The growth is detailed in SolarPower Europe's Global Market Outlook. Michael Schmela, executive adviser to SolarPower Europe, noted that in 2014 renewables produced more power than nuclear in Europe for the first time in decades. The gap between renewables and nuclear in Europe is certain to grow.
The latest edition of BP's Energy Outlook predicts that, globally, non-hydro renewables will overtake nuclear power generation in the early 2020s.3
China could get 85% of its electricity and 60% of total energy from renewables by 2050, according to government agencies. A rapid rollout of wind, solar and bioenergy is technologically and economically feasible, a report led by the China National Renewable Energy Centre claims. In a "high renewable" scenario, the country's coal use would peak in 2020 and its greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.4
1. Solar Power Europe, 2015, 'Global Market Outlook for Solar Power: 2015− 2019', www.solarpowereurope.org/fileadmin/user_upload/documents/Publications/Gl...
2. Arthur Neslen, 10 June 2015, 'Record boost in new solar power continues massive industry growth', www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jun/09/record-boost-in-new-solar-po...
3. BP, Feb 2015, 'Energy Outlook 2035', www.bp.com/energyoutlook
4. Megan Darby, 22 April 2015, 'China’s electricity could go 85% renewable by 2050 – study', www.rtcc.org/2015/04/22/chinas-electricity-could-go-85-renewable-by-2050...
IAEA warns of cyberattacks on nuclear facilities
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Yukiya Amano called for stronger efforts to protect the world's nuclear facilities from cyberattacks. Amano was speaking in front of more than 650 experts from 92 IAEA member states at the inaugural International Conference on Computer Security in a Nuclear World on June 1.
Nuclear facilities around the world are facing daily cyberattacks on their systems, according to the IAEA. "Last year alone," Amano said, "there were cases of random malware-based attacks at nuclear power plants and of such facilities being specifically targeted."
The threat of cybercrime and cyberattacks has been steadily growing over recent years and particularly in developing countries where criminals can exploit legal loopholes and weak security measures, according to recent findings by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.
Former US govt employee charged for trying to steal nuclear secrets
The US Justice Department has charged a former government employee for allegedly trying to steal nuclear secrets through email attacks and then selling them to China. Charles Eccleston allegedly attempted the 'spear-phishing' attack in January 2015, targeting dozens of email accounts, which he believed would unleash a virus to collect sensitive information about nuclear weapons.
Eccleston, a former employee at the US Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, has lived in the Philippines since 2011 after being fired in 2010. He was detained on March 27 and deported to the US.
He was caught in a sting by the FBI after he approached a foreign embassy about providing classified US information.
Lisa Lambert, 9 May 2015, 'Former US government employee tried to steal nuclear weapons secrets', www.theage.com.au/world/former-us-government-employee-tried-to-steal-nuc...
Australia: uranium miner not prosecuted over spill
The Northern Territory state government is taking too long to punish those responsible for a radioactive spill on Aboriginal land in Kakadu National Park, traditional owners say.
The Department of Mines and Energy has investigated the 2013 spill of up to 1.5 million litres of acidic slurry from a collapsing leach tank at the Ranger uranium mine, operated by Energy Resources of Australia (ERA), which is majority owned by Rio Tinto.
But the department is yet to share its report with stakeholders. The Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, which acts for the Mirarr traditional owners, says the delay is "completely unacceptable", especially given ERA was able to restart operations at Ranger a year ago.
"Members of the investigative taskforce as well as the general public are still waiting for the regulator to release its report, let alone prosecute the mining company," corporation CEO Justin O'Brien said.
Mirarr traditional owners want the government to impose a fine, or declare an operational breach for the spill.
Beautiful nuclear power
Britain's new energy secretary Amber Rudd says new nuclear power plants should be aesthetically pleasing in an effort to reduce objections from local communities.
"We're hoping to build new nuclear plants in the UK over the next few years and I think it is a reasonable ambition to make sure that these big projects have aesthetic appeal as well to help win the public over," Rudd said. "These big infrastructure projects ... are an integral part of our lives and I think we should make them more attractive to the public."
German nuclear fuel levy is legal
Germany's tax on nuclear fuel conforms to European Union laws, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled on June 4. Since January 2011, each gram of nuclear fuel loaded into a German reactor has carried a levy, expected to raise about €2.3 billion (US$2.6 billion) annually.
That levy was imposed as a consequence of an amendment to the 2002 Atomic Energy Act that allowed longer operating lives for German reactors. The tax was retained after Germany adopted a nuclear phase-out policy in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster.
Kernkraftwerke Lippe-Ems GmbH − a joint venture between RWE and EOn that operates the Emsland nuclear power plant − took legal action over the fuel levy. The European Court of Justice has ruled that the levy is compatible with EU law. The court rejected a claim that nuclear fuel must be exempt from taxation under the European directive on taxation of energy products and electricity; it ruled that the levy does not constitute state aid; and it ruled that the Euratom Treaty does not preclude the levy.
Meanwhile, Germany's Federal Constitutional Court is considering the legality of the nuclear fuel levy; a decision is expected by the end of this year.