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charlesarthur : solar   55

Los Angeles OKs a deal for record-cheap solar power and battery storage • Los Angeles Times
Sammy Roth:
<p>For a long time, there were two big knocks against solar power: It’s expensive, and it can’t keep the lights on after sundown.

A contract approved Tuesday by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power shows how much that reality has changed.

Under the 25-year deal with developer 8minute Solar Energy, the city would buy electricity from a sprawling complex of solar panels and lithium-ion batteries in the Mojave Desert of eastern Kern County, about two hours north of Los Angeles. The Eland project would meet 6% to 7% of L.A.'s annual electricity needs and would be capable of pumping clean energy into the grid for four hours each night.

The combined solar power and energy storage is priced at 3.3 cents per kilowatt-hour — a record low for this type of contract, city officials and independent experts say, and cheaper than electricity from natural gas.

The Eland deal’s approval was delayed last month after DWP staff said concerns had been raised by the union representing employees of the city-run utility.

It wasn’t clear whether the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 18 had specific objections to the Eland project. But the union has been on the attack against LA Mayor Eric Garcetti since his decision in February to shut down three natural-gas-fired power plants along the coast, which could force hundreds of union workers to transition to new jobs.</p>

Hadn't considered that staff in gas plants might find solar power + batteries threatening; but, of <em>course</em>.
solar  losangeles 
9 days ago by charlesarthur
Photovoltaic energy is cheaper than spot market electricity across Europe • pv magazine International
Emiliano Bellini:
<p>Solar power is already the cheapest source of electricity in several European markets. That headline finding has come out of the report: Impact of weighted average cost of capital, capital expenditure and other parameters on future utility scale PV levelized cost of electricity.

The research team behind the study includes Christian Breyer, professor of solar economy at Finland’s Lappeenranta University of Technology. The report claims the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) for power generated by large scale PV projects – and including a 7% nominal weighted average cost of capital (WACC) – ranges from €24/MWh in Malaga, southern Spain, to around €42 in Helsinki, Finland. Those figures, the researchers state, are considerably lower than spot electricity prices in both markets: €47/MWh in Finland and €57 in Spain.

“This means that PV is already cheaper than average spot market electricity all over Europe,” the study’s authors wrote.

The researchers expect the LCOE of solar farm-generated power to drop further in Malaga, to €14/MWh in 2030 and €9 in 2050. In Helsinki they predict respective prices of €24 and €15.

The report noted feed-in tariffs are becoming scarce and utility scale PV is ready to compete in the free market through power purchase agreements or the direct sale of power to the spot market.</p>
18 days ago by charlesarthur
Tesla batteries are keeping Zimbabwe’s economy running • Bloomberg
Antony Sguazzin:
<p>Amid power outages of as long as 18 hours a day, Econet Wireless, Zimbabwe’s biggest mobile-phone operator, is turning to the Palo Alto, California-based automaker and storable-energy company for batteries that can keep its base stations running. The southern African country faces chronic shortages of physical cash, so almost all transactions are done digitally, and many via mobile phones.

“Telecommunications have become the lifeblood of the economy,” said Norman Moyo, the chief executive officer of Distributed Power Africa, which installs the batteries for Econet. “If the telecom network is down in Zimbabwe, you can’t do any transactions.”

The installation of 520 Powerwall batteries, with two going into each base station, is the largest telecommunications project in which Tesla has participated to date, Moyo said. With Econet having about 1,300 base stations in the country and two other mobile-phone companies operating there, Distributed Power intends to install more batteries and could eventually roll the project out to other power-starved countries in Africa, such as Zambia, Lesotho and the Democratic Republic of Congo, he said.</p>

Solar panels power the base stations; excess energy charges the battery, which takes over when it's dark or overcast. Diesel is too expensive (and runs out).
tesla  solar  mobile  Zimbabwe 
19 days ago by charlesarthur
'Just a matter of when': the $20bn plan to power Singapore with Australian solar • The Guardian
Adam Morton:
<p>Known as Sun Cable, it is promised to be the world’s largest solar farm. If developed as planned, a 10-gigawatt-capacity array of panels will be spread across 15,000 hectares and be backed by battery storage to ensure it can supply power around the clock.

Overhead transmission lines will send electricity to Darwin and plug into the NT grid. But the bulk would be exported via a high-voltage direct-current submarine cable snaking through the Indonesian archipelago to Singapore. The developers say it will be able to provide one-fifth of the island city-state’s electricity needs, replacing its increasingly expensive gas-fired power.

After 18 months in development, the $20bn Sun Cable development had a quiet coming out party in the Top End three weeks ago at a series of events held to highlight the NT’s solar potential. The idea has been embraced by the NT government and attracted the attention of the software billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes, who is considering involvement through his Grok Ventures private investment firm.

The NT plan follows a similarly ambitious proposal for the Pilbara, where another group of developers are working on an even bigger wind and solar hybrid plant to power local industry and develop a green hydrogen manufacturing hub. On Friday, project developer Andrew Dickson announced the scale of the proposed Asian Renewable Energy Hub had grown by more than a third, from 11GW to 15GW. “To our knowledge, it’s the largest wind-solar hybrid in the world,” he says.</p>

Would be good if Australia shift from exporting coal to exporting solar energy. I thought DC was a bad idea for long-distance power transmission, but <a href="">apparently not</a>. Singapore generates all its own electricity at present - but <a href="">98% of that is from fossil fuels</a>.
solar  power  australia  singapore 
9 weeks ago by charlesarthur
Giant batteries and cheap solar power are shoving fossil fuels off the grid • Science
Robert Service:
<p>This month, officials in Los Angeles, California, are expected to approve a deal that would make solar power cheaper than ever while also addressing its chief flaw: It works only when the sun shines. The deal calls for a huge solar farm backed up by one of the world's largest batteries. It would provide 7% of the city's electricity beginning in 2023 at a cost of 1.997 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) for the solar power and 1.3 cents per kWh for the battery. That's cheaper than any power generated with fossil fuel.

"Goodnight #naturalgas, goodnight #coal, goodnight #nuclear," Mark Jacobson, an atmospheric scientist at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, tweeted after news of the deal surfaced late last month. "Because of growing economies of scale, prices for renewables and batteries keep coming down," adds Jacobson, who has advised countries around the world on how to shift to 100% renewable electricity. As if on cue, last week a major U.S. coal company—West Virginia–based Revelation Energy LLC—filed for bankruptcy, the second in as many weeks…

…Precipitous price declines have already driven a shift toward renewables backed by battery storage. In March, an analysis of more than 7000 global storage projects by Bloomberg New Energy Finance reported that the cost of utility-scale lithium-ion batteries had fallen by 76% since 2012, and by 35% in just the past 18 months, to $187 per MWh. Another market watch firm, Navigant, predicts a further halving by 2030, to a price well below what 8minute has committed to.</p>
solar  electricity  energy 
9 weeks ago by charlesarthur
Chinese air pollution dimmed sunlight enough to impact solar panels • Ars Technica
Scott Johnson:
<p>China is easily number one in terms of new solar construction right now, accounting for over half of the world’s installs in 2017, for example. Between 2010 and 2017, China went from having less than 1 gigawatt of solar capacity to 130 gigawatts, and the country is headed for around 400 gigawatts by 2030. After a run of transformative economic growth powered by coal and other fossil fuels, China is dealing with choking air pollution that is a major driving factor in this solar push.

<a href="">Recent research</a> has compiled a record of solar radiation measurements around China going back to the late 1950s. The research shows a declining trend in solar radiation until about 2005, when it leveled off and began to tick back upward. That tracks the increasing particulate air pollution due to coal-burning power plants and manufacturing—as well as biomass burning—that has only recently been addressed.

A team led by Bart Sweerts at ETH Zürich took that record and fed it into generation models for China’s solar installations to calculate how much generation has been lost—and how much would be gained by cleaning up the air.

The researchers found that, over the entire record between about 1960 and 2015, the average potential solar generation declined by about 13%.</p>
china  solar  power 
10 weeks ago by charlesarthur
Solar, wind, batteries to attract $10 trillion to 2050, but curbing emissions long-term will require other technologies too • BloombergNEF
<p>Deep declines in wind, solar and battery technology costs will result in a grid nearly half-powered by the two fast-growing renewable energy sources by 2050, according to the latest projections from BloombergNEF (BNEF). In its New Energy Outlook 2019 (NEO), BNEF sees these technologies ensuring that – at least until 2030 – the power sector contributes its share toward keeping global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius.[1]

Each year, NEO compares the costs of competing energy technologies through a levelized cost of energy analysis. This year, the report finds that, in approximately two-thirds of the world, wind or solar now represent the least expensive option for adding new power-generating capacity. Electricity demand is set to increase 62%, resulting in global generating capacity almost tripling between 2018 and 2050. This will attract $13.3 trillion in new investment, of which wind will take $5.3 trillion and solar $4.2 trillion.</p>

Encouraging. But of course there's still that "will require new technologies too" coda.
energy  solar  wind 
june 2019 by charlesarthur
China approves 20.76 GW of subsidy-free solar, wind power projects • Reuters
Muyu Xu and David Stanway:
<p>China approved its first batch of subsidy-free wind and solar projects with a combined capacity of 20.76 gigawatts (GW), the country’s top planning agency said on Wednesday.

That follows China’s vow in January to launch a series of unsubsidized renewable power projects this year to tackle a payment backlog amid a decline in construction costs in the sector.

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) also urged grid companies to sign long-term power purchase contracts with operators of the unsubsidized renewable projects, it said in a statement.</p>

<a href="">China's installed power generation capacity is 1,777GW</a> as of 2017, of which 55% is from coal. So this is good, but the context (especially of coal - still growing) is still not.
china  electricity  solar 
may 2019 by charlesarthur
China reveals plans for first solar power station in space • Sydney Morning Herald
Kirsty Needham:
<p>A solar power station orbiting the earth at 36,000 kilometres could tap the energy of the sun's rays without interference from the atmosphere, or seasonal and night-time loss of sunlight, Chinese media reported.

Construction of an early experimental space power plant has begun in the inland city of Chongqing, China's Science and Technology Daily reported on its front page.

A researcher from the China Academy of Space Technology Corporation, Pang Zhihao, said a space solar power station held the promise of providing "an inexhaustible source of clean energy for humans".
Electric cars could be charged at any time and any place.

It could reliably supply energy 99% of the time, at six times the intensity of solar farms on earth, he said.

Chinese scientists first plan to build and launch small- to medium-sized solar power stations to be launched into the stratosphere to generate electricity, between 2021 and 2025.

The next step will be a megawatt-level space solar power station, slated for construction in 2030.</p>

This is slightly bonkers. That's a geostationary orbit, but you'd only need a tiny amount of drift for that downward beam to start zapping substantial areas of land. Or of course zapping other satellites in orbit.
china  solar 
february 2019 by charlesarthur
What happened when I moved into a house that had solar panels • Bloomberg
Esmé Deprez:
<p>The solar array was a modern addition to a property that otherwise hadn’t changed much since 1950, when the late owner, Michael “Jug” Jogoleff, moved into the home’s 948 square feet as a preschooler with his mother and aunt, transplants from Iowa. He never moved again. He grew tall and barrel-chested and remained a lifelong bachelor, becoming a neighborhood fixture who organized block parties. His décor reflected his obsession with all things electronic, in particular ham radio. “Radios and computers were packed into every available square inch of space he could find,” and “his roof bristled with every form of antenna,” Santa Barbara’s amateur radio club wrote after he died of cancer at the age of 70 in January 2017. “He was the consummate ‘ham’ and could build anything—and did! Amateur radio has lost one of the last of the ‘real hams.’”

Two days after walking through Jug’s ham shack, we made an offer. A week later, just before we entered escrow, we learned the solar array hadn’t belonged to Jug. It was, in the language of the industry, a third-party-owner, or TPO, system, belonging to Sunrun Inc., the largest provider of residential solar in the U.S. I started looking into the TPO model. It’s used less often than it once was, but it’s been important in making residential solar, once out of reach for most people, much more widespread. The reason is simple: homeowners usually pay nothing upfront. A company like Sunrun puts solar panels on your roof, connects them to your home, and claims a tax benefit for owning the system. Going forward, you pay Sunrun to provide the bulk of your electricity needs instead of your utility.

I’d soon learn that the system was tied to the title of the house. It appeared that if we bought Jug’s place, we’d have to assume his lease arrangement with Sunrun. I wasn’t sure how I felt about this as a buyer, but it definitely piqued my curiosity as a journalist. I set out to examine the value proposition carefully.</p>

A good thing she did: third-party ownership is pretty poisonous, especially when it comes to selling (or buying) a property. There's a lot to this article, which digs deep into what's happening with this model - much of it built on unreliable financial promises. Solar works, but capitalism about the future sometimes doesn't.
Solar  finance 
february 2019 by charlesarthur
The battle for solar energy in the country’s sunniest state • The New Yorker
Carolyn Kormann:
<p>[The billionaire Tom] Steyer and his coalition say that the problem is simple: A.P.S. [Arizona Public Service, the largest utility in the state of Arizona] is an investor-owned company, motivated primarily by its responsibility to protect profits for its shareholders, many of whom reside out of state. In 2017, the company made $488m, an increase of $46m from the previous year. The Arizona Corporation Commission (A.C.C.), a five-member elected “fourth branch” of state government, is supposed to keep the utility’s monopoly in check—setting limits on capital investments and pricing, while guaranteeing a certain margin of profit.

But critics have long argued that the arrangement incentivizes utilities to “gold-plate,” or make inessential investments. (The <a href="">phenomenon</a> even has a name: the Averch-Johnson effect.) For A.P.S., a $200m gas-fuel plant would be more lucrative than a $20m solar array because the utility can charge higher rates to recoup its investment costs.

Kris Mayes, a former Republican A.C.C. commissioner, who helped write the language of Prop 127, told me the Averch-Johnson effect explains why, in 2017, A.P.S. called for more than 5,000 megawatts of new natural-gas additions, and almost no utility-scale renewables. “If they were truly acting in public interest,” Mayes said, “they would not be proposing 5,400 hundred megawatts of new natural-gas plants.”</p>

Perverse incentives: they abound.
solar  arizona 
october 2018 by charlesarthur
Let's store solar and wind energy – by using compressed air • The Conversation
Seamus Garvey is professor of dynamics at the University of Nottingham:
<p>The concept seems simple: you just suck in some air from the atmosphere, compress it using electrically-driven compressors and store the energy in the form of pressurised air. When you need that energy you just let the air out and pass it through a machine that takes the energy from the air and turns an electrical generator.

Compressed air energy storage (or CAES), to give it its full name, can involve storing air in steel tanks or in much less expensive containments deep underwater. In some cases, high pressure air can be stored in caverns deep underground, either excavated directly out of hard rock or formed in large salt deposits by so-called “solution mining”, where water is pumped in and salty water comes out. Such salt caverns are often used to store natural gas.

Compressed air could easily deliver the required scale of storage, but it remains grossly undervalued by policymakers, funding bodies and the energy industry itself. This has stunted the development of the technology and means it is likely that much more expensive and less effective solutions will instead be adopted. At present, three key problems stand in the way of compressed air…</p>

One of them is that it's too long-lived. Weirdly. Because money likes things that work quickly, not over the course of 50 or 100 years.
solar  wind  storage  energy  airbnb 
october 2018 by charlesarthur
The secret to making green tech like solar panels go mainstream • Daily Beast
Tarpley Hitt:
<p>[MIT professor David] Rand and [Yale psychology grad student Gordon] Kraft-Todd used the data—conveniently split into two distinct groups of towns, towns where representatives installed solar panels and towns where representatives did not—to figure out what made customers adopt solar energy. They <a href="">found</a> that when people saw an ambassador who used solar panels, they were inclined to buy one for themselves. As part of each campaign, Solarize tapped several locals to serve as “solar ambassadors,” or people who would act as the primary representatives for the campaign in their town.

Rand and Kraft-Todd focused on these figures, wondering what made some ambassadors better than others.

They found that figures who were central to city operations–an alderperson, a well-known community volunteer, or other public servants–were often tapped for their name recognition, even if they didn’t have solar energy in their own homes.

As a result, only a small minority of the “solar ambassadors” actually used the energy they were talking so much about. In Rand and Kraft-Todd’s survey of 58 towns, only 32.7% of the ambassadors had actually installed solar panels through the Solarize program. They didn't walk the talk, and solar panel adoption was weak in these towns.

But in towns where the ambassador had panels themselves, 62.8% more people adopted solar panels.</p>

It's very much about "I'll do what you do, not what you say."
solar  sales 
october 2018 by charlesarthur
Even in Indiana, new renewables are cheaper than existing coal plants • Utility Dive
<p>Last week, Northern Indiana Public Service Co. (NIPSCO) presented analysis for <a href="">its 2018 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP)</a>, finding it can save customers more than $4bn over 30 years by moving from 65% coal today to 15% coal in 2023 and eliminating the resource by 2028.

To replace retiring coal, NIPSCO found that a portfolio of solar, storage, wind and demand management is the most cost effective, along with a small amount of market purchases from the Midcontinent ISO. The utility will file its IRP on Oct. 31.

<img src="" width="100%" />

NIPSCO's upcoming IRP is more evidence that coal generation is steadily declining in the U.S. despite efforts from the Trump administration to save it.

In Indiana, as elsewhere, the issue is economics. The youngest generating units at NIPSCO's 1900 MW Schahfer plant were built in the mid 1980s, and the utility's analysis found that keeping them on the system would be more expensive than replacing them with new wind, solar and batteries.</p>

Yes, you've noticed that it's actually cheaper to retire *all* the coal plants, but the utility thinks that carries "unacceptable risks" to reliability. Yet even when they tried to nudge the numbers to be as coal-friendly as possible (at the urging of a trade body), renewables still won.
solar  coal  indiana 
october 2018 by charlesarthur
Tesla Solar Roof tiles: where are they? • CNBC
Kate Brigham and Lora Kolodny put a note in their diaries back in October 2016 - "check in two years" - and it's come due:
<p>As of May, only 12 Tesla tiled roofs were connected to the grid, all in Northern California, <a href="">according to Reuters</a>. Tesla declined to give an updated figure, but Musk later clarified that his "several hundred homes" comment refers to roofs that are scheduled for installation or are partially installed.

Tesla has been accepting $1,000 deposits for the roof tiles since May 2017. But at that point, the company wasn't even close to mass producing them.

It established a factory in Buffalo, New York to make the tiles, but it's not running at full capacity yet. At the company's most recent annual shareholder meeting, Musk blamed ongoing delays on a need for more testing.

"There's only so much accelerated life testing that you do on a roof. So before we can deploy it to a large number of houses we need to make sure that it's that all elements of the roof are going to last for at least three decades," Musk said at the shareholder meeting last June…

…One of the customers with the tiles already installed is San Jose resident and Tesla Model 3 owner Tri Huynh. He preordered them as soon as possible, and the roof was installed earlier this year.

"I was actually extremely surprised I got the call, just because you never know what this stuff, right. I thought there'd be extreme delays, I just didn't know how long it was going to take," said Huynh. While traditional solar panels can be installed in a day, it took a team of 10 to 15 workers two weeks to install this roof… Tesla's customers are paying a premium for the tile's sleek look. Huynh's roof cost him about $100,000, though he did need to replace his roof anyway.

"I don't think this will ever pay for itself honestly," he said.</p>
tesla  solar  roof  tiles 
september 2018 by charlesarthur
Why solar is likely to power the home of the future • The Verge
Angela Chen on US trends, noting that 2m out of 90m US homes have solar panels - but California recently made it a requirement that new homes have solar panels:
<p>If solar becomes ubiquitous, we’ll likely see it being integrated with smart energy management systems in the home, predicts Bywater. These will regulate the battery, the home by using different sensors, and the solar panels. “The real trick is for the system to know how to make someone comfortable and how to be aggressive on conserving energy,” he says. It should know the optimal temperature of the home and how to change it based on utility rates and the time of day to save money.

Ultimately, says Baca, “we’re personally looking forward to a day when solar is as ubiquitous as AC.” Very few places had air conditioners when the technology first became available, and now it’s rare to find a builder who would create a new home without it. “People think something’s missing when it’s not there,” he says. “I think that’s where we’re going with solar, and I hope we see it sooner rather than later.”</p>

Given the preponderance of air conditioning (AC) systems in the US and its creaking electrical grid, you'd think the power companies would be encouraging local generation like crazy.
us  solar 
august 2018 by charlesarthur
Solar just hit a record low price in the US • Earther
Brian Kahn:
<p>The project in question is the Eagle Shadow Mountain Solar Farm, which will begin operating in 2021. The farm will have a generating capacity of 300 megawatts, enough to power about 210,000 American homes. But it’s the price part that’s eye-popping. It will operate at a flat rate of $23.76 per megawatt-hour over the course of a 25-year power purchasing agreement (the term for a contract between an electricity generator and utility who buys it). On the surface, that price may not mean a lot to you if you’re not an energy nerd, but it’s a huge deal.

“On their face, they’re less than a third the price of building a new coal or natural gas power plant,” Ramez Naam, an energy expert and lecturer at Singularity University, told Earther in an email. “In fact, building these plants is cheaper than just operating an existing coal or natural gas plant.”</p>

Even without federal subsidies, it's cheaper than coal or gas plants. Nowadays the only problem is energy storage.
solar  energy  environment 
july 2018 by charlesarthur
Europe's first solar panel recycling plant opens in France • Reuters
Geert de Clercq:
<p>The first ageing photovoltaic (PV) panels - which have lifespans of around 25 years - are just now beginning to come off rooftops and solar plants in volumes sufficiently steady and significant to warrant building a dedicated plant, Veolia said.

Up until now, ageing or broken solar panels have typically been recycled in general-purpose glass recycling facilities, where only their glass and aluminum frames are recovered and their specialty glass is mixed in with other glass. The remainder is often burned in cement ovens.

In a 2016 study on solar panel recycling, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) said that in the long term, building dedicated PV panel recycling plants makes sense. It estimates that recovered materials could be worth $450 million by 2030 and exceed $15 billion by 2050.

The robots in Veolia’s new plant dissemble the panels to recuperate glass, silicon, plastics, copper and silver, which are crushed into granulates that can used to make new panels.

A typical crystalline silicon solar panel is made up of 65-75% glass, 10-15% aluminum for the frame, 10% plastic and just 3-5% silicon. The new plant does not recycle thin-film solar panels, which make up just a small percentage of the French market.</p>
solar  france  recycling 
june 2018 by charlesarthur
Solar has overtaken gas and wind as biggest source of new US power • Bloomberg
Chris Martin:
<p>Despite tariffs that President Trump imposed on imported panels, the US installed more solar energy than any other source of electricity in the first quarter.

Developers installed 2.5 gigawatts of solar in the first quarter, up 13% from a year earlier, according to a report Tuesday from the Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research. That accounted for 55% of all new generation, with solar panels beating new wind and natural gas turbines for a second straight quarter.

The growth came even as tariffs on imported panels threatened to increase costs for developers. Giant fields of solar panels led the growth as community solar projects owned by homeowners and businesses took off. Total installations this year are expected to be 10.8 gigawatts, or about the same as last year, according to GTM. By 2023, annual installations should reach more than 14 gigawatts.</p>

Solar is unstoppable; the price of making panels keeps falling, and it's additive - you don't have to tear down old installations to put new ones in. And penetration of panels is at a tiny percentage of the potential.

Mining coal is a mug's game: expensive, dangerous, polluting. Speaking of which...
solar  economics 
june 2018 by charlesarthur
Global solar forecasts lowered as China cuts support policies • Reuters
Nichola Groom:
<p>China’s unexpected move to slash incentives for solar power has sent stocks into a free fall and prompted analysts to lower forecasts for global installations this year amid expectations that a glut of excess panels would send prices tumbling.

China announced on June 1 changes to the subsidies that has underpinned its rise to become the world’s largest solar market in recent years.

IHS Markit, a market research firm, was preparing to lower its global solar installation forecast for this year by between 5 and 10 gigawatts, or up to 9%, analyst Camron Barati said. The impact in China, which accounts for half the global market, could be up to 17 GW, the firm said.

Another market research firm, Wood Mackenzie, said on Wednesday that China’s capacity additions would likely be about 20 GW lower than it had expected.

An oversupply of cheap Chinese-made panels that had been destined for domestic projects will help boost demand for solar in other countries and sop up some of the demand lost in China, IHS said.</p>

China sneezes, the world's solar business catches a cold. That's how important it has become geopolitically.
China  solar 
june 2018 by charlesarthur
India approves massive new 5,000 megawatt solar farm • Climate Action Programme
<p>The Indian Government has given planning permission to a huge new solar project which is set to become one of the largest in the world.

The approval for a 5,000 megawatt (MW) solar farm in the state of Gujarat was announced earlier this month by the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy.

The first 1,000MW stage of the project will be put out to tender soon.

Once complete the project near the town of Dholera will be the largest solar farm in India, stretching over 11,000 hectares and eclipsing the 2,255 MW Bhadla solar park currently under development in Rajasthan.

Saudi Arabia recently signed an initial deal to build a larger 200 GW solar farm, the first stage of which will be 7,200 MW.

The Chief Minister of Gujarat, Vijay Rupani, said on Twitter that the Dholera project is estimated to attract 25,000 crore rupees ($3.7bn), and employ 20,000 people.</p>

11,000 hectares is about 42 square miles.
solar  india 
june 2018 by charlesarthur
UK electricty generation sources - 2017 versus 2016 • MyGridGB
Andrew Crossland:
<p>I have just released a new page on the MyGridGB website which tries to chart how electricity generation is changing year on year. It can be found here.

These charts tell some important stories about electricity in Britain and how fast it is changing. I now describe three biggest stories in the data and my predictions for 2017.

<strong>The decline of coal:</strong> The amount of coal used for electricity was 30% lower in Q1 2017 than it was in Q1 2016 despite there being very little difference in our demand for power. Coal power stations are rapidly being decommissioned and being replaced by renewables and gas.

<strong>My prediction:</strong> coal power stations will be switched off several times over the coming months (April onwards) when demand is low. The amount of times this happens will be affected by the global price of coal and gas which affects the choice of power stations to use.

<img src="" width="100%" />

<strong>The rise of intermittent generators:</strong> Wind and solar continue to grow and 2017 also saw an increased in metered generation from hydroelectric dams. Overall, low carbon renewable generation was 26% higher in Q1 2017 than it was in Q1 2016. The early signs from 2017 are that wind has overtaken coal to be the third biggest provider of electricity in Great Britain. In fact, wind turbines generated nearly 60% of what nuclear power stations provided.

<strong>My prediction:</strong> 2017 will see wind overtake coal as the third biggest provider of electricity in Great Britain.

Note that my values include an estimate for so called “embedded wind” turbines. Embedded wind refers to smaller turbines which are not included in the Elexon Portal data which I use for this website or gridwatch. At the time of writing, I estimated that around 30% of the installed wind capacity in Great Britain is embedded.

<img src="" width="100%" /></p>

The "carbon intensity" (how much carbon is burnt per kWh) is falling fast too.
uk  electricity  generation  carbon  solar  wind 
may 2018 by charlesarthur
The dawn of solar windows • IEEE Spectrum
Andy Extance:
<p>By 2020, 8.3 billion square meters of flat glass will be installed annually in new buildings worldwide, according to the Freedonia Group. That area, covered in standard solar panels in the ideal orientation, could produce more than a terawatt at peak output, and over one year it could generate some 2,190 terawatt-hours. That’s 9% of what the world’s annual electricity consumption was in 2016. Substituting this source of energy for coal in 2017 would have saved about 1.6% of carbon emissions from fossil fuels, industry, and changes in forestry and land use.

And powerful regulatory forces are now dragging solar windows and their environmental benefits into reality. A European Union directive requires all new buildings to meet a “nearly zero-energy” standard by the end of 2020. Japan, following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, has gone further by requiring all new public buildings to be zero energy by 2020.

Solar windows will never be as efficient as conventional solar panels, because windows must of course remain at least partially transparent. But they can create an enormous network of small photovoltaic sources. And developers maintain that the money that the windows save on energy will repay the cost of installing them.

Already, the cost difference is pretty small, says Thomas Brown from the University of Rome, in Italy, who used to develop solar windows. Adding power-generating components to window materials could pay for itself in less than a decade, he says.</p>
Solar  windows  power  electricity 
february 2018 by charlesarthur
Wall Street, not American solar, stands to gain from Trump tariffs • Bloomberg
Brian Eckhouse:
<p>The biggest winners of President Donald Trump’s decision to slap tariffs on imported solar equipment may not be American manufacturers but a group of investment houses around the globe.

The firms - from Centerbridge Partners LP to JPMorgan Chase & Co. - all are creditors to the two struggling solar companies that brought the trade complaint. The value of their investments, mostly in the form of distressed bonds, is likely to get a boost as the new tariffs help American manufacturers. While much of the US solar industry has blasted the tariffs, warning of massive job losses, these investors show at least some on Wall Street stand to gain.

Centerbridge, a New York firm that manages $14 billion in credit and distressed assets, is among the biggest creditors to solar manufacturer SolarWorld AG, a German company that owns SolarWorld Americas. Centerbridge controls about a third of the parent company’s senior secured notes, according to people familiar with the matter. SolarWorld AG filed for bankruptcy in May. 

SolarWorld Americas, which has a plant in Hillsboro, Oregon, was a leader of the tariff campaign. </p>

Another point: the US power infrastructure needs renewal, and having individuals install solar panels takes a lot of load off the generating capacity and grid - think of the times when the weather is hot and air conditioners are on. Generate power locally, or pipe it in from across the grid? If you pipe it in, you need the infrastructure and you need the power plants.
solar  trump  tariffs 
january 2018 by charlesarthur
Trump slaps steep tariffs on foreign washing machines and solar products • NY Times
Ana Swanson and Brad Plumer:
<p>Whirlpool Inc. appealed to the White House for help in curbing washing machine imports from its Korean competitors, while two solar companies, Suniva Inc. and SolarWorld Americas, said imports of cheap solar cells and modules were similarly putting their companies at risk.

While the tariffs [of up to 30%] were welcomed by the companies that sought them, economists warned the levies could drive up prices for consumers and hurt some American businesses. The solar industry has been split over the tariffs; companies that develop large-scale solar farms, as well as purchasers of solar power such as retailers and tech companies, opposed the tariffs over concerns that they would cost them more money and make solar power less competitive with other energy sources, at least in the short term.

Abigail Ross Hopper, the president of the Solar Energy Industries Association, which opposed the measures, said the decision “will create a crisis in a part of our economy that has been thriving, which will ultimately cost tens of thousands of hard-working, blue-collar Americans their jobs.”</p>

The solar association estimates that 84,000 jobs will go - about 34% of the 260,000 Americans who worked in solar in 2017 (more than coal and oil combined): 6,300 in Texas (Ted Cruz’s state), 4,700 in North Carolina, 7,000 in South Carolina.

That’s going to play through this year, with elections to come in November. Also, there’s no chance the US will challenge China in making solar panels; that’s a race it would have had to enter with commitment 20 years ago.

So the price will put off homeowners buying solar panels for their homes, installers are out of work. Tariffs only help if you have a dominant or growing economy.
Solar  trump  tariffs 
january 2018 by charlesarthur
This Hearst ranch has raised cattle since 1865. Now it also powers Apple's headquarters • CNBC
Anita Balakrishnan:
<p>150 years after George Hearst bought the ranch, it took on a new, ultra-modern function: A 2,900-acre solar farm, which until now has been contracted by Apple to run the company's Cupertino headquarters.

It wasn't easy to get the job, Hearst said in a statement, as it was "a huge, unbelievable construction project," but the long summer stretches of 115-degree heat helped seal the deal…

…Apple CEO Tim Cook said in 2015 that the company would contribute $850m to build the solar farm, which also aims to provide enough energy for 60,000 homes.

"We know in Apple that climate change is real. The time for talk is passed," he said at that time, according to Reuters. "The time for action is now."

The project is still expanding, with the second phase of the 2.5m solar panels being installed this year, to provide energy offset for California customers. According to Hearst, "cowboys of Jack Ranch have been outnumbered by construction workers as the 280-megawatt solar project heads into its final month."</p>

280MW? That’s colossal. Though one suspects it also needs plenty of batteries to store excess, if Apple is really being powered directly from it. (I suspect it’s more that it feeds into the grid, and extracts that much or less.)
Apple  solar 
january 2018 by charlesarthur
Video: Seoul taps citizens for ambitious solar power goal • Tech in Asia
Here's the transcript (via Steven Millward):
<p>South Korea is building a “solar city.” In Seoul, mini solar panels are installed on apartment balconies. One can produce enough energy to run a fridge, which means lower electricity bills.

Goal: 1 million households with mini solar panels.

Target: Seoul’s citizens will produce 1 gigawatt of power by 2022. That’s about the same as one nuclear reactor</p>

It doesn't look particularly pretty, but you have to admire the determination.
solar  southkorea  seoul 
december 2017 by charlesarthur
Australia adds 107MW rooftop solar in October as 2017 heads for record year • RenewEconomy
<p>Australian homes and businesses continue to install solar at an impressive clip, adding more than 100MW of rooftop PV capacity for the month of October, up from 97MW in September, and almost guaranteeing a record 1GW-plus total for the year.

In its latest monthly update, solar industry analysts SunWiz have charted another another “massive” month of small-scale solar installs, pushing the nation’s total installed PV capacity to 6.7GW, 6GW of which is made up of systems sized at 100kW and below.

According to the report, registrations in October shot up to 107MW, making it the best ever October, the fourth-highest ever level of registrations in a month, and more than double the volume of 22 months ago.

And with volumes this high, SunWiz notes, “it looks like we’re headed for the best ever Q4 AND best ever year,” with total registrations at 852MW for 2017, making the market “almost certain to eclipse 1GW of rooftop solar this year.”

One of the stars of the month for the PV market was commercial solar, with installations in the 10kW-20kW range outdone, in volume, by installs in the 75kW-plus range, as you can see in the table below.

SunWiz notes that the growth in volume occurred in every category, but was especially pronounced in the 6.3-8kW range and in the 75-100kW range.</p>

Australia's wholesale electricity consumption <a href="">peaked at 210 terawatt-hours in 2007</a>. For comparison, 100MW of solar will generate around 400GWh over the course of a year; an installed capacity of 6.7GW will generate about 29GWh.

Solar isn't a baseline, but it can be a hell of an add-on.
solar  australia 
november 2017 by charlesarthur
Edisun Microgrids - Series.c • SeedInvest
<p>At Edisun Microgrids, we believe solar can be a major source of the world’s energy because every day the sun provides more than 10,000 times the energy the world needs. The key is making solar cost-effective and available on-demand.  Edisun's solutions address these hurdles and through them, we are aiming to drive down the cost of solar energy to make clean power more affordable than fossil fuels.

Our technology is a new solar tracking system named PV Booster™ that points solar panels directly at the sun all day long. By enabling the panels to continuously face the sun, PV Booster increases clean energy production by 30% and improves the economics of solar by 20%. We designed PV Booster to meet the unique needs of the underserved Commercial and Industrial (C&I) rooftop solar market – a trillion-dollar opportunity in the US alone.</p>

I don't recommend investing in this; though it's an attractive idea to make solar panels follow the sun, you'll probably see improvements of 30% in output through general improvements over the next couple of years. Notable though that Bill Gross - who came up with the "ads against what you search for" model which Google adopted - is one of the investors. Gross is a smart guy. I still don't recommend investing.
october 2017 by charlesarthur
Bids in 300MW Saudi solar tender breach two cents • PV Tech
<p>Saudi Arabia’s 300MW solar tender has seen opening bids go lower than two US cents [per kWh], setting the tone for a new global solar power tariff record if awarded.

Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar) bid for 300MW capacity at SAR0.0669736/kWh (US$1.786 cents).

During a webinar showing the bid opening ceremony, Saudi Arabia’s new Renewable Energy Project Development Office (REPDO) revealed the eight companies that had made it through to this stage, having had 27 companies shortlisted originally in April.

REPDO then announced that these bids will be evaluated for compliance with the requirements of the RfP and a final shortlist of bidders will be announced on 28 November. The project will be awarded to the winning consortium on 27 January 2018, backed by a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA). The financial closing date will be 28 February 2018 and the commissioning date is expected during 2019.</p>

This is a very low <a href="">LCOE [levelised cost of energy</a>]. Solar already comes pretty low on this cost. It's getting cheaper.
power  saudi  solar 
october 2017 by charlesarthur
A solar eclipse could wipe out 9,000 megawatts of power supplies • Bloomberg
Naureen Malik:
<p>This rare event, during which the moon will completely obscure the sun, will cast a shadow along a 70-mile-wide (113-kilometer) corridor stretching from Oregon to South Carolina on Aug. 21. Based on a Bloomberg calculation of grid forecasts, more than 9,000 megawatts of solar power may go down. That’s the equivalent of about nine nuclear reactors.

<img src="" width="100%" />
<em>A map of the United States showing the path of totality for the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse.Source: NASA Scientific Visualization Studio</em>

The impact is a testament to the ninefold increase in solar installed in the U.S. since 2012 and highlights the risks associated with relying on an intermittent resource such as the sun for power. The onslaught of wind and solar resources is already regularly contributing to wild swings in power supplies across grids, sending wholesale electricity prices below zero on some days.

On Thursday, PJM Interconnection LLC, operator of the nation’s largest power grid covering parts of the eastern U.S., estimated the eclipse could take out as much as 2,500 megawatts of solar generation on its system from about 1:30 p.m. to 3:40 p.m. North Carolina and New Jersey may bear the brunt because so many panels are installed in those states. PJM said rooftop solar panels will account for 80 percent of the anticipated outages.</p>

I've heard that the earth completely obscures the sun for many hours a day, too, yet power supplies have generally managed to cope. This is a great attempt to connect the solar eclipse with solar power. It's also desperate.
solar  eclipse  power 
july 2017 by charlesarthur
Unjust, unreasonable, and unduly discriminatory: electric utility rates and the campaign against rooftop solar by Ari Peskoe :: SSRN
Ari Peskoe of the Harvard Environmental Policy Initiative:
<p>The century-old technology and business model for electricity distribution is under threat. Decentralized technologies and services now allow consumers to buy less power from their local monopoly provider and customize the timing and price of the electricity they do buy. In response, investor-owned utilities (IOUs), which distribute power to 75% of U.S. homes, are urging state utility regulators to take action to protect the incumbent paradigm.</p>

This is a followup to the NYT story from the other day about lobbying by utilities over the rates paid for solar installations.

From the paper itself (free download):
<p>the average price charged by IOUs to residential ratepayers increased by 50% between 2000 and 2014, and some analysts predict that PV [photovoltaic] power will soon be less expensive than the local IOU’s rate across the country. As the price of central grid power and PV power converge, more ratepayers will find it economical to purchase or lease their own PV, rather than rely solely on the IOU.

The potential for this new paradigm raises several questions, such as: does an electricity system that connects thousands of PV systems ultimately benefit consumers, and how does society socialize the costs of this new grid? This paper does not seek to answer either question. Rather, it presumes that there is enormous uncertainty about how the electricity system will develop. Using regulation to prevent the deployment of a particular set of technologies and services is ill-advised because it locks the industry into existing models and inhibits innovation, which could ultimately harm consumers.

This paper does not argue that specific technologies or services should be deployed today, or even ever. Rather, the paper provides context for understanding ongoing debates between factions representing the central grid and those in favor of increasing decentralization.</p>

In short: solar is disruptive.
antitrust  solar 
july 2017 by charlesarthur
Rooftop solar dims under pressure from utility lobbyists • The New York Times
Hiroko Tabuchi:
<p>Over the past six years, rooftop solar panel installations have seen explosive growth — as much as 900% by one estimate.

That growth has come to a shuddering stop this year, with a projected decline in new installations of 2%, according to projections from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

A number of factors are driving the reversal, from saturation in markets like California to financial woes at several top solar panel makers.

But the decline has also coincided with a concerted and well-funded lobbying campaign by traditional utilities, which have been working in state capitals across the country to reverse incentives for homeowners to install solar panels.

Utilities argue that rules allowing private solar customers to sell excess power back to the grid at the retail price — a practice known as net metering — can be unfair to homeowners who do not want or cannot afford their own solar installations.

Prodded in part by the utilities’ campaign, nearly every state in the country is engaged in a review of its solar energy policies. Since 2013, Hawaii, Nevada, Arizona, Maine and Indiana have decided to phase out net metering, crippling programs that spurred explosive growth in the rooftop solar market. (Nevada recently reversed its decision.)

Many more states are considering new or higher fees on solar customers.</p>

Selling back at the retail price (that you would pay to receive it) seems excessive. But solar deserves subsidy, for this reason: it reduces the future investment that utilities would otherwise have to make in power plants (or their own solar farms). Every kilowatt-hour generated by home solar doesn't have to be paid for by the utility, and won't in the future. Pricing the subsidy correctly is tricky, for sure.

However the "talking points" that the utilities were offering to try to get repeals (revealed later in the story) are nonsense.
solar  america 
july 2017 by charlesarthur
Prince was a secret patron of solar power • Bloomberg
Brian Eckhouse and Chris Martin:
<p>Before his abrupt death a year ago, the pop musician Prince made an investment in green energy that’s now helping solar start-ups weather an assault from President Donald Trump. 

It started with a conversation in 2011 between Prince and his friend Van Jones, a CNN commentator and California human rights agitator and onetime green-jobs adviser to President Barack Obama.

“He asked, ‘If I have a quarter-million dollars, what can I do with it?’” Jones recalled in an interview. “My wife said he should put solar panels all over Oakland.”

That led to the creation of Powerhouse, a rare for-profit incubator dedicated to putting clean-tech entrepreneurs together with investors. The company has helped 43 start-ups get on their feet in an era when venture capital funding for renewables has plunged and Trump is working to slash funds for early-stage entities from the U.S. Department of Energy.</p>

Alphabet Str.. Purple Ra.. umm.. Sign O' The Times?
prince  solar 
june 2017 by charlesarthur
India cancels mega plans to build coal power stations due to falling solar energy prices •
Shreya Kalra:
<p>13.7GW of planned coal power projects have been cancelled so far this month and this goes to show the rate of change regarding solar energy.

In January 2016, Fortum, a Finnish company, got on board to generate electricity in Rajasthan at record low prices.

The Director of energy finance studies at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis said, “For the first time solar is cheaper than coal in India and the implications this has for transforming global energy markets is profound.

“Measures taken by the Indian Government to improve energy efficiency coupled with ambitious renewable energy targets and the plummeting cost of solar has had an impact on existing as well as proposed coal fired power plants, rendering an increasing number as financially unviable.

“India’s solar tariffs have literally been free falling in recent months.” According to him investors from the world over are interested in India’s fast-growing solar market.</p>

Lots of debate in the comments about how useful solar really is to satisfy base load. But nobody expects it to be base load.
india  energy  solar 
may 2017 by charlesarthur
Tesla starts taking orders for premium solar roofs • Reuters
Nichola Groom:
<p>To get in line for a solar roof, homeowners must put down a $1,000 deposit via Tesla's website. There, they can also calculate the estimated upfront cost of a solar roof.

A 1700-square-foot roof in Southern California, with half the roof covered in "active" solar tiles, would cost about $34,300 after a federal tax credit, according to the calculator. Tesla estimates such a roof could generate $76,700 of electricity over 30 years.

The company said its solar roofs would cost between 10 and 15 percent less than an ordinary new roof plus traditional solar panels.

But Jim Petersen, chief executive of PetersenDean Inc, which installs about 30,000 new roofs plus solar a year, estimated that a 1700-square-foot roof with new solar panels, including the tax credit, would cost about $22,000, well below the Tesla website's estimate. Costs vary depending on roof type.</p>

I love the idea but the practice is crazy: roof tile microinverters will fail well before those 30 years.
Tesla  solar 
may 2017 by charlesarthur
Solar breaks 50% of California electricity for first time – driving wholesale rates negative • Electrek
John Fitzgerald Weaver:
<p>Recently we saw California solar + wind hit a record high at 49.2%, with all renewable energy above 56%.
<p>In March, during the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., system average hourly prices were frequently at or below $0 per megawatthour (MWh). In contrast, average hourly prices in March 2013–15 during this time of day ranged from $14/MWh to $45/MWh.</p>

This type of event has happened in other places – Germany gets the headlines often. It is expected that there will be so much solar power this spring and summer (plus large amounts of hydroelectric power) that curtailment will need to occur on solar assets.

On March 11th, the California power grid broke 50% solar power for the first time – when considering ALL sources of solar power in the state:
<p>Additional generation from customer-sited solar generators installed in California (such as those on residential and commercial rooftops) further adds to the total solar share of mid-day electricity generation. As of December 2016, utilities in CAISO reported 5.4 gigawatts (GW) of net-metered distributed solar capacity. EIA estimates that this capacity would have generated approximately 4 million kilowatthours (kWh) during the peak solar hours on March 11. This level of electricity reduced the metered demand on the grid by about the same amount, suggesting that the total solar share of gross demand probably exceeded 50% during the mid-day hours.</p>

Per the EIA, there are multiple reasons why March is the season most probable for negative wholesale rates, including one unique to this year – heavy amounts of hydroelectric power due to flooding this winter. The other major reason is that spring and fall are low demand seasons due to the temperate climate not needing as much heating or cooling.</p>

Well this isn't going to go down well with all the coal miners.
solar  energy  california 
april 2017 by charlesarthur
Budget 2017: UK solar industry facing devastating 800% tax increase • The Independent
Ian Johnston:
<p>Britain’s solar industry is facing devastation and consumers could see energy bills rise after the Chancellor Philip Hammond refused to listen to pleas to cancel a planned tax hike of up to 800% on rooftop solar schemes.

The Solar Trade Association described the Government’s refusal to bend over the increase – due to come into force in April – as “nonsensical” and “absurd”.

Bizarrely, state schools with solar panels will be forced to pay, while private schools will remain exempt.

Mr Hammond barely mentioned the energy sector in his speech – apart from a promise to help the oil and gas industry “maximise exploitation” of the remaining reserves in the North Sea.

According to the Government’s own figures, solar power is expected to become the cheapest form of electricity generation sometime in the 2020s.

But the UK solar industry lost 12,000 jobs last year and there has been an 85% reduction in the deployment of rooftop solar schemes.

So the sector had hoped the Government would listen to their request to drop the huge increase in business rates affecting rooftop solar from next month.

Some 44,000 solar “microgenerators” who are currently exempt from business rates could be faced with a bill of hundreds, or even thousands, of pounds. 

Speaking after reading the detail of the Budget in Treasury documents, Leonie Greene, of the Solar Trade Association, told The Independent: “Fair to say we are dismayed. We are facing an extreme business rate rise of up to 800%. Listening to what the Chancellor said today, there was no mention of energy apart from oil and gas. I have to say we are astonished because deployment of solar is at a six-year low… What he is doing is advantaging old technology and disadvantaging new ones. It’s nonsensical."</p>

It is utterly stupid. Businesses that install solar benefit everyone because they (a) provide jobs for fitters (b) contribute surplus energy to the grid which reduces non-baseline demand for fossil fuels at CCGT (combined cycle gas turbine) stations, which are the ones brought on and off line quickly when demand shifts.

The alternative? You don't have solar, and so you're reliant both on big power companies building gigantic power plants in time to meet estimated future demand, and the import of energy - two points of potential failure. Plus the fact that raising tax bills in that way could put some companies out of business. Raising it for schools will squeeze already tight budgets even further.

It doesn't affect domestic solar - thankfully. And if you're wondering why it doesn't affect private schools: it's because they're constituted as charities.

Now contrast this with the next link...
uk  solar  tax 
march 2017 by charlesarthur
Tesla completes Hawaii storage project that sells solar at night • Bloomberg
Mark Chediak:
<p>Tesla Inc. has completed a solar project in Hawaii that incorporates batteries to sell power in the evening, part of a push by the electric car maker to provide more green power to the grid.

The Kapaia installation includes a 13-megawatt solar system and 52 megawatt-hours of batteries that can store energy during the day and dispatch it after the sun goes down, the Palo Alto, California-based company said Wednesday. Tesla has a 20-year contract with the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative on the island of Kauai to deliver electricity at 13.9 cents per kilowatt-hour. That’s lower than the utility’s cost for power from diesel plants of 15.48 cents, and about half the 27.68 cents that consumers paid in December for electricity in the state.</p>

On a 20-year contract, Tesla is going to be making some good money towards the end. Yet everyone will benefit from it.
tesla  solar  hawaii 
march 2017 by charlesarthur
Solar employs more people in U.S. electricity generation than oil, coal and gas combined • Forbes
Niall McCarthy:
<p>In the United States, more people were employed in solar power last year than in generating electricity through coal, gas and oil energy combined. According to a <a href="">new report from the U.S. Department of Energy</a>, solar power employed 43% of the Electric Power Generation sector's workforce in 2016, while fossil fuels combined accounted for just 22%. It's a welcome statistic for those seeking to refute Donald Trump's assertion that green energy projects are bad news for the American economy.

Just under 374,000 people were employed in solar energy, according to the report, while coal, gas and oil power generation combined had a workforce of slightly more than 187,000. The boom in the country's solar workforce can be attributed to construction work associated with expanding generation capacity.</p>

Damn facts. (Are the solar panels still in place on the White House? Shouldn't there be a coal mine underneath it instead now?)
solar  us  employment 
january 2017 by charlesarthur
World energy hits a turning point: solar that's cheaper than wind (and coal) • Bloomberg
Tom Randall:
<p>It started with a contract in January to produce electricity for $64 per megawatt-hour in India; then a deal in August pegging $29.10 per megawatt hour in Chile. That’s record-cheap electricity—roughly half the price of competing coal power. 

“Renewables are robustly entering the era of undercutting” fossil fuel prices, BNEF chairman Michael Liebreich said in a note to clients this week.

Those are new contracts, but plenty of projects are reaching completion this year, too. When all the 2016 completions are tallied in coming months, it’s likely that the total amount of solar photovoltaics added globally will exceed that of wind for the first time. The latest BNEF projections call for 70 gigawatts of newly installed solar in 2016 compared with 59 gigawatts of wind. 

The overall shift to clean energy can be more expensive in wealthier nations, where electricity demand is flat or falling and new solar must compete with existing billion-dollar coal and gas plants. But in countries that are adding new electricity capacity as quickly as possible, “renewable energy will beat any other technology in most of the world without subsidies,” said Liebreich. </p>

Seemed worth marking this point.
solar  economics  energy 
december 2016 by charlesarthur
The colossal African solar farm that could power Europe • BBC Europe
Sandrine Ceurstemont:
<p>Hundreds of curved mirrors, each as big as a bus, are ranked in rows covering 1,400,000 sq m (15m sq ft) of desert, an area the size of 200 football fields. The massive complex sits on a sun-blasted site at the foot of the High Atlas mountains, 10km (6 miles) from Ouarzazate – a city nicknamed the door to the desert. With around 330 days of sunshine a year, it’s an ideal location.

As well as meeting domestic needs, Morocco hopes one day to export solar energy to Europe. This is a plant that could help define Africa's – and the world’s – energy future.

Of course, on the day I visit the sky is covered in clouds. “No electricity will be produced today,“ says Rachid Bayed at the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (Masen), which is responsible for implementing the flagship project.

An occasional off day is not a concern, however. After many years of false starts, <a href="">solar power is coming of age</a> as countries in the sun finally embrace their most abundant source of clean energy. The Moroccan site is one of several across Africa and similar plants are being built in the Middle East – in Jordan, Dubai and Saudi Arabia. The falling cost of solar power has made it a viable alternative to oil even in the most oil-rich parts of the world.

As well as meeting domestic needs, Morocco hopes one day to export solar energy to Europe.

Noor 1, the first phase of the Moroccan plant, has already surpassed expectations in terms of the amount of energy it has produced. It is an encouraging result in line with Morocco’s goal to reduce its fossil fuel bill by focusing on renewables while still meeting growing energy needs that are increasing by about 7% per year. Morocco’s stable government and economy has helped it secure funding: the European Union contributed 60% of the cost for the Ouarzazate project, for example.</p>
solar  morocco 
november 2016 by charlesarthur
Chinese solar firm to build plant in Chernobyl exclusion zone • Reuters
David Stanway:
<p>Two Chinese firms plan to build a solar power plant in the exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear reactor, which has been off limits since a devastating explosion contaminated the region with deadly radiation in 1986.

GCL System Integration Technology (GCL-SI), a subsidiary of the GCL Group, said it would cooperate with China National Complete Engineering Corp (CCEC) on the project in Ukraine, with construction expected to start next year.

"There will be remarkable social benefits and economic ones as we try to renovate the once damaged area with green and renewable energy," Shu Hua, the chairman of GCL-SI, said in a press release.

The 1-gigawatt plant was part of the group's plan to build an international presence, he added.

CCEC, a subsidiary of state-owned China National Machinery Industry Corp, will be in overall charge of the project, while GCL-SI will provide and install solar components. GCL-SI did not say how much it would cost.</p>

I love this idea.
chernobyl  solar 
november 2016 by charlesarthur
New record low solar price in Abu Dhabi – costs plunging faster than expected • Ramez Naam
<p>The price of solar power – in the very sunniest locations in particular – is plunging faster than I expected. I’ve been talking for years now about the <a href="">exponential decline of solar power prices</a>. I’ve often been called a wide-eyed optimist. Here’s what those projections (based on historical learning rates) look like.

<img src="" width="100%" />

In fact, if anything, my forecasts were too conservative. The solar prices I expected have been smashed by bids in the Middle East and in Latin America. I will need to update the model above in a future post.

The latest record is an incredibly low bid of 2.42 cents/kwh solar electricity in Abu Dhabi. That is an unsubsidized price.</p>

If there's anything to give us a little hope, it's this: allied to electric cars, the almost unlimited supply of silicon (sand is plentiful), you could get towards a future where we use a great deal less fossil fuel.

Equally, this puts the crazily high price that the UK government has agreed to buy electricity from the new Chinese-built Hinkley C nuclear reactor - 9p per kWh, or about 12 cents/kWh - into perspective. It would almost be cheaper just to pay for solar panels on all the UK's household and factory roofs.
solar  energy 
september 2016 by charlesarthur
Follow the sun • The Economist
<p>Led by big projects in these two countries [China and India], global solar-energy capacity rose by 26% last year. More remarkable is the decline in its cost. Studies of the “levelised cost” of electricity, which estimate the net present value of the costs of a generating system divided by the expected output over its lifetime, show solar getting close to gas and coal as an attractively cheap source of power. Auctions of long-term contracts to purchase solar power in developing countries such as South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, Peru and Mexico provide real-world evidence that such assumptions may even prove to be conservative (see chart).

<img src="" width="100%" />

In sunny places solar power is now “shoulder to shoulder” with gas, coal and wind, says Cédric Philibert of the International Energy Agency, a prominent forecaster. He notes that since November 2014, when Dubai awarded a project to build 200MW of solar power at less than $60 a megawatt hour (MWh), auctions have become increasingly competitive.</p>

And that's because the price of solar panels has fallen by 80% since 2010. Hell of a thing.
june 2016 by charlesarthur
Mirrors blamed for fire at world's largest solar plant • Associated PRess
<p>A small fire shut down a generating tower Thursday at the world's largest solar power plant, leaving the sprawling facility on the California-Nevada border operating at only a third of its capacity, authorities said.

Firefighters had to climb some 300 feet up a boiler tower at the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in California after fire was reported on an upper level around 9:30 a.m., fire officials said.

The plant works by using mirrors to focus sunlight on boilers at the top of three 459-foot towers, creating steam that drive turbines to produce electricity.

But some misaligned mirrors instead focused sunbeams on a different level of Unit 3, causing electrical cables to catch fire, San Bernardino County, California fire Capt. Mike McClintock said.

David Knox, spokesman for plant operator NRG Energy, said it was too early to comment on the cause, which was under investigation.</p>

Pretty dramatic fire - it melted lots of stuff.
solar  fire 
may 2016 by charlesarthur
MIT unveils 3D solar arrays that produce up to 20 times more energy » 3tags
<p>Intensive research around the world has focused on improving the performance of solar photovoltaic cells and bringing down their cost. But very little attention has been paid to the best ways of arranging those cells, which are typically placed flat on a rooftop or other surface, or sometimes attached to motorized structures that keep the cells pointed toward the sun as it crosses the sky.

Now, a team of MIT researchers has come up with a very different approach: building cubes or towers that extend the solar cells upward in three-dimensional configurations. Amazingly, the results from the structures they’ve tested show power output ranging from double to more than 20 times that of fixed flat panels with the same base area.</p>

They're not pretty, but they are efficient.
mit  3d  solar 
march 2016 by charlesarthur
How rooftop solar is causing big falls in peak demand » Renew Economy
Giles Parkinson:
<p>The big push by utilities across Australia to hit solar households with higher network charges is underpinned by the claim that rooftop solar does little to reduce peak demand.

There is increasing evidence that that is not the case. Peak demand has been pushed in some states to the evening, after the sun comes down, but what is often not displayed is what the peak would have looked like without rooftop solar.

In short, it would have occurred earlier in the day, and at a much higher peak. This is critical, because networks super-sized their grid in anticipation of big rises in peak demand. The combination of energy efficiency and rooftop solar and declining industrial demand has junked those forecasts. But we’re still paying for the investment.

This graph released last week by the Australian Energy Market Operator, in a presentation on the WA market that it now manages, illustrates the point in Western Australia.
The peak – without solar PV – would have appeared at 3pm in Perth, and be considerably higher than the peak level with solar PV, which now occurs at 4.30p. Yet still, the network wants solar households to be hit with higher network fees, another example of where the benefits of rooftop solar are not factored in.

<img src="" width="100%" /></p>

Gotta love big business blaming people for doing the right thing, and finding a way to make it seem like it was the wrong thing.
solar  demand 
january 2016 by charlesarthur
Morocco poised to become a solar superpower with launch of desert mega-project » The Guardian
Arthur Neslen:
<p>When they are finished, the four plants at Ouarzazate will occupy a space as big as Morocco’s capital city, Rabat, and generate 580MW of electricity, enough to power a million homes. Noor 1 itself has a generating capacity of 160MW.

Morocco’s environment minister, Hakima el-Haite, believes that solar energy could have the same impact on the region this century that oil production had in the last. But the $9bn (£6bn) project to make her country’s deserts boom was triggered by more immediate concerns, she said.

“We are not an oil producer. We import 94% of our energy as fossil fuels from abroad and that has big consequences for our state budget,” el-Haite told the Guardian. “We also used to subsidise fossil fuels which have a heavy cost, so when we heard about the potential of solar energy, we thought; why not?”

Solar energy will make up a third of Morocco’s renewable energy supply by 2020, with wind and hydro taking the same share each.</p>
solar  morocco 
october 2015 by charlesarthur
How solar lanterns are giving power to the people » National Geographic magazine
Michael Edison Hayden:
<p>Prashant Mandal flips on a candy-bar-sized LED light in the hut he shares with his wife and four children. Instantly hues of canary yellow and ocean blue—reflecting off the plastic tarps that serve as the family’s roof and walls—fill the cramped space where they sleep. Mandal, a wiry 42-year-old with a thick black beard and a lazy eye, gestures with a long finger across his possessions: a torn page from a dated Hindu calendar, a set of tin plates, a wooden box used as a chair. He shuts down the solar unit that powers the light and unplugs it piece by piece, then carries it to a tent some 20 yards away, where he works as a chai wallah, selling sweet, milky tea to travelers on the desolate road in Madhotanda, a forested town near the northern border of India.

“My life is sad, but I have my mind to help me through it,” Mandal says, tapping the fraying cloth of his orange turban. “And this solar light helps me to keep my business open at night.”</p>

It's white LED lights that have made this possible; 40W solar panel feeds them for a long time.
solar  led 
october 2015 by charlesarthur
Today's solar panels are fine for tomorrow » Solar Love
Steve Hanley:
An interdisciplinary MIT study led by the MIT Energy Initiative has led to a 332-page report entitled <a href="">The Future of Solar Energy</a>. Among its key findings are that today’s solar panels are all that is needed to supply the world with many terawatts of clean solar power by 2050 (a terawatt is equivalent to 1,000,000 megawatts). The other main point the study makes is that it will take political will to finally wean the world off of fossil fuels.

I was pointed to this on Twitter by Leonardo DiCaprio. Yup, him. Not personally, you understand.
may 2015 by charlesarthur
Why energy storage is about to get big – and cheap » Ramez Naam
tl;dr: Storage of electricity in large quantities is reaching an inflection point, poised to give a big boost to renewables, to disrupt business models across the electrical industry, and to tap into a market that will eventually top many of tens of billions of dollars per year, and trillions of dollars cumulatively over the coming decades.

He things the Tesla Powerwall "<a href="">is a big step towards disruption</a>".
battery  electricity  energy  solar 
may 2015 by charlesarthur
Musk’s tweeted promise not such a surprise after all » FT Tech blog
Richard Waters:
there are no real surprises here, it seems. Speaking on a Tesla earnings call on February 11th, he said the company was working on a “consumer battery that will be for use in people’s houses or businesses”, with a product unveiling “probably in the next month or two”.

SolarCity – the installer of solar systems of which Musk is also chairman – says on its own website that it has been experimenting with a Tesla-branded residential battery at 300 test sites, with another 130 to come. It promises to have a storage product “available again in late summer 2015,” which also fits with the Musk tweet timeline.

The solar company promotes the residential battery as an emergency back-up in case the utility grid fails, “such as after an earthquake or other natural disasters”. That sounds like a product for a niche market: it will be interesting to see how Musk presents it next month.
solar  elonmusk 
april 2015 by charlesarthur
Why solar costs will fall another 40% in just two years >> Renew Economy
Deutsche Bank notes that total module costs of leading Chinese solar companies have decreased from around $1.31 a watt in 2011 to around $0.50/W in 2014. It says this was primarily due to the reduction in processing costs, the fall in polysilicon costs and improvement in conversion efficiencies.

That represents a fall of around 60% in just three years. Deutsche Bank says total costs could fall another 30-40% over the next several years, with the greatest cost reductions are likely to come from the residential segments as scale and operating efficiencies improve.

It sees a precedent for this in the oldest major solar market in the world – Germany. “Costs today are well below costs in the United States and other less mature markets, and total installed costs have declined around 40% over the past three years in the country. The exact drivers behind cost declines may vary between countries, but we believe the German example continues to prove that overall system costs have yet to reach a bottom even in comparatively mature markets.”

Make a note: even with the plunging oil price, solar is going to be a sensible power source in the longer term.
solar  price 
january 2015 by charlesarthur
Australian engineers have boosted solar cell efficiency by five times more than ever before >> ScienceAlert
We could soon be able to convert more of the Sun’s energy into power using fewer solar panels, thanks to a new breakthrough by Swinburne University of Technology researchers in Australia.

Working with researchers from Nankai University in China, the team has managed to enhance the efficiency of silicon solar cells by 3.8% - almost five times more than the current record.

“One of the critical challenges the solar cell faces is low energy conversion efficiency due to insufficient absorption from the thin silicon layer,” said micro-photonics expert Min Gu at Swinburne University of Technology, who worked on the project.

To achieve the impressive upgrade, the engineers synthesised one-dimensional graphenised carbon nanofibre, and used it to help solar cells capture sunlight more efficiently.

I was speaking to someone who installs solar panels for a living, who said that in the past five years efficiencies of the panels he installs has improved by 25%. That's about 4.5% compound per year. So this doesn't look like a giant leap.
solar  improvement 
november 2014 by charlesarthur

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