03 December 2012

PV Parity: New Press Release

European consortium highlights competitiveness of Solar Photovoltaics (PV) in 11 EU countries

Something we all have been waiting for: Grid parity of Solar PV.
But what does it actually mean? There are many different opinions and benchmarks, and dependent on who the discussion is being conducted with, these parameters shift. Sometimes based on facts, sometimes on political interest, or on economical goals.
In Europe 11 countries have put their heads together and founded the PV Parity project, let's see what they found:
In the residential segment the earliest date on which competitiveness can be achieved and the latest one varies widely for the different target countries, with the time range due to irradiation differences, the maturity of each national PV market (which influences cost of capital and thus PV system costs) and  the level of retail electricity prices in each country.
According to the results, grid parity is starting to be achieved already in Germany, Southern Italy, Netherlands and Spain in 2012; they should be followed by Northern Italy, Portugal and Austria in the next two years and then progressively by other countries. By the end of the decade, depending on how prices will evolve but also the cost of financing, grid parity could be achieved in all target countries.
The consortium also has analysed the commercial/industrial and the utility scale segments. Detailed results of the simulation are available at the following link. http://www.pvparity.eu/results/.

Exciting times! Would love to see something like this project in Australia though. 

08 November 2012

Denmark Reaches 2020 Solar Goal Ahead of Schedule - Solar Feeds

Every month, another 36 MW of solar capacity is added to the grid in Denmark

More and more often we can read about the successes and progress made in other countries if it comes to renewable energy. One might think: Why aren't we in Australia in the headlines?
Seems that too many still believe that fossil fuels are still "cheaper" than renewables, they only need to be dug up. That this is the wrong track to a sustainable future is something many countries including Saudi Arabia have realised.
But check out Denmark's story for a moment, a nice example.

06 November 2012

Panasonic Freezes New Investment in Malaysia PV Manufacturing | Renewable Energy News Article

Invested too much?

Something I found on Renewable Energy World shows that even the biggest companies might overdo it in investing, they too have put on the brakes occasionally:

Japanese electronics giant Panasonic, which became a major global solar PV manufacturer after taking over rival Sanyo, will freeze new investment in its state-of-the-art wafer, cell and module manufacturing plant in Malaysia amid ... Read the full article

05 November 2012

Sydney launches $4.3M project to boost renewable energy – News Watch

A new article on National Geographic about renewable energy

Have you ever heard of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group?
I don't know, but some fantastic initiatives never make it into the mainstream news. Is it because blood and gore and guts sell better than good news?
In this case it is about a project undertaken to combat pollution and energy cost. It will allow the people in the city to breathe lighter and allow the city to spend money on more productive things than fuel.
The project economics are compelling, thanks to steep reductions in the cost of solar panels and favorable pricing on any surplus power they produce. As a result, the City was able to contract nearly twice the amount of solar PV for less than half the cost than originally envisaged in 2010.
Read more about this initiative on National Geographic's website.
To read the full press release about the project launch, click here.

26 October 2012

WA's Mid West to host new solar-thermal power project

WA's Mid West to host new solar-thermal power project


Things are beginning to happen out West, finally. Unfortunately this is again just a supplementary installation, there is no real attempt to finally get away from fossil fuels and their dedicated role of being the main supplier of stationary energy.
This project has only been granted - as I believe - because it is located on the fringe of the SWIS, the power grid in the South West of WA, where the reach of the "central" coal power production is weakening.

Nevertheless, this comparatively small 1.5 megawatt grid-connected concentrated thermal power station near Morawa is a great move and it can only be hoped that we will see many more of these distributed across the country. Decentralising power generation addresses power distribution loss as a side effect, and should something happen on the technical side shutting down one plant, neighbouring plants can better chip in.

Please visit the Science Network WA to read the full article!

25 October 2012

Researchers Create 'Nanoflowers' for Energy Storage, Solar Cells

Solar Daily: Researchers Create 'Nanoflowers' for Energy Storage, Solar Cells

Researchers from North Carolina State University have created flower-like structures out of germanium sulfide (GeS) - a semiconductor material - that have extremely thin petals with an enormous surface area.
The GeS "nanoflowers" have petals only 20-30 nanometers thick, and provide a large surface area in a small amount of space.

The GeS flower holds promise for next-generation energy storage devices and solar cells.

Read the full article

22 October 2012

Printing Solar Panels in the Backyard

Imagine this occurring on a large scale!

Check out this 4 minute video, it is just fascinating what can be achieved if you put your mind to work on it!

Germany's Renewable Energy Transition

Why a fully renewable energy system is ‘climate-friendly, reliable and affordable’

Green Chip Stocks summarise on their blog a number of arguments why the transition to 100% renewable energy makes sense. They also list a few quotes from high ranking officials of very large energy corporations, with a view on nuclear energy, e.g.:
Jeff Immelt, Chief Executive of GE – one of the world’s largest suppliers of nuclear power equipment – stated that nuclear power has become “really hard” to justify in comparison to other energy generation options.
On monetary aspects we can find a statement made by the very conservative, and traditionally fossil fuel minded International Energy Agency, who have ...:
... said that every dollar invested now in clean energy will save $3 in fossil fuel costs in the future.
 And then there are the operators of power grids who usually claim that renewable energy sources, due to their intermittent nature, would be destabilising the power grids and therefore could never deliver 100% of the power demand:
When wind turbines and solar plants are geographically widespread, to the extent that Germany’s transition entails, their output becomes far more constant and even easier for the grid to accommodate.
Read the full article

17 October 2012

CEC - Yallourn Power Station downsize shows Renewable Energy Target is working

The Clean Energy Council about the Renewable Energy Target in Australia

This is not what supporters of fossil fuels like to hear, for all others it is great news: Renewable Energy Sources are not only supplementing but indeed starting to replace coal fired power plants.

Read the full story on the Clean Energy Council's website

09 October 2012

Giant solar farm to officially open - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Giant solar farm to officially open - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

The doors to Australia's largest solar power farm, located in Mid-West Western Australia, will officially open this week.
All 150,000 of the farm's solar panels have been installed at the site in Greenough, south of Geraldton.

You can't find it on Google maps or other tools yet, so here's a map provided by the project on their website:

Producing electricity when it is needed most, during the day, the solar photovoltaic (PV) farm will displace 20,000 tonnes per year of greenhouse gas emissions, which is the equivalent of taking 4000 cars off the road.
150,000 solar PV panels installed (looking west)
Greenough River Solar Farm with its 10 MWp capacity is the first stage of a 40 MW solar farm that the joint venture hopes to install at this site.

Not much happening on TV news about this though. not in King Coal Country!

Top Solar Power Countries (Per Capita, Per GDP, Per TWh of Electricity Produced, & in Total) - CleanTechnica

Top Solar Power Countries (Per Capita, Per GDP, Per TWh of Electricity Produced, & in Total) - CleanTechnica

We still have a long way to go but we're getting there, slowly but surely.
Per capita we are already way ahead of the US, ranking 9th vs. 22nd. And for new installations per capita it looks even better!

Silevo starts commercial production of 21% efficient hybrid PV modules

Silevo starts commercial production of 21% efficient hybrid PV modules

Silevo, Inc. is bringing a new type of silicon-based photovoltaic to the market that the company is calling a hybrid PV cell. The Triex design integrates a standard silicon wafer with other, active layers to produce a more efficient PV module, which the company says is more than 21 percent efficient.
Read the complete story including the one on Silevo Inc.

21 September 2012

Greens flick the switch on feed-in tariff - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Greens work with Labor towards the gutsiest environmental target yet in Australia

Someone is ACT-ioning here:
The ACT Greens are flagging a new solar feed-in tariff scheme as part of their election plan for a 40 per cent cut to Canberra's greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.
The party shares ACT Labor's target for 90 per cent of the ACT's electricity to come from renewable sources by 2020.
"We will have an annual target. Built into that will be a price regression mechanism so that as the uptake increases through the year, if we're getting close to that target point the price will start to come down," [Greens spokesman Shane Rattenbury] said. 
I say, finally someone has read the tools and mechanisms incorporated in the original Feed-in-Tariff design from Germany, not just the headlines, and at the same time has been able to communicate it all the way through!

Read the full report on ABC News

20 September 2012

REN21 - Renewables Global Status Report

Help us spread the word!

That at least is the message from REN21, the publisher of this amazing piece of work.
On over 170 pages it touches on all relevant areas in the distribution and installation of Renewable Energy in the world.
Very nice too is the interactive map which gives one-click-access to all Policies, Targets, Shares, Installed capacity, Energy production, RE Economy for every country.
Very nice.

Here's a snippet from their website:

The 2012 edition of REN21's Renewables Global Status Report (GSR) was launched on 11 June together with its sister publication UNEP’s Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment (GTR).
The findings in the 2012 GSR speak to the cumulating effect of steady growth in renewable energy markets, support policies and investment over the past years. In 2011,
Renewable sources supplied 16.7 % of global final energy consumption where the share of modern renewables increased while the share of traditional biomass slightly decline
118 countries implemented RE targets with more than half in developing countries
Investment in renewables increased 17% to a record $257 billion, despite a widening sovereign debt crisis in Europe and rapidly falling prices for renewable power equipment,
Photovoltaic module prices dropped by 50% and onshore wind turbines by close to 10% bringing to price of the leading renewable power technologies closer to grid parity with fossil fuels such as coal and gas.
These are just a few of the trends found in the GSR 2012 that illustrate the significant and rapidly growing share of renewables in energy markets, industrial policy and investments, moving renewable beyond “niche” status.
The 2012 GSR places a special focus on rural renewable energy by highlighting the main trends in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The perspectives provided in the GSR are further detailed in the REN21 Renewables Interactive Map, where country specific renewable energy developments are highlighted.
So, please help spread the word, don't believe the words of Liberal politicians, Republicans and other arch-conservative climate-change-deniers and fossil fuel lobbyists stating that renewables are too expensive, don't cut the mustard, or whatever they bring forward to protect not the climate but their pockets.

18 September 2012

North American Windpower: Global Study Finds 85% Of Consumers Want More Renewable Energy

"Consumers are demanding more renewable energy in the grid." - Morten Albaek, Vestas

IMHO this is just another indicator for the suspicion that those with vested interests in fossil fuels are influencing our politicians against the overwhelming will of the people:

A new global study reveals that 85% of consumers want more renewable energy, and 49% are willing to pay more for products made using renewable energy.
The survey, performed by TNS Gallup and commissioned by Vestas, asked consumers about their preferences for renewable energy.
In addition, Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s (BNEF) Corporate Renewable Energy Index Report 2012 (CREX) found that renewable energy is also becoming more favorable to corporations. In 2011, net corporate investment in renewable power capacity outpaced that of fossil-fuel generation ($237 billion for renewables versus $223 billion for additional fossil-fuel generation).
Companies in the CREX
The CREX main findings:
  • Global investment in new renewable capacity has continued to rise. In 2011 net investment in renewable power capacity outpaced that of fossil fuel generation ($237bn for renewables versus $223bn for additional fossil fuel generation)
  • Many companies are making a significant commitment to renew¬able energy through direct investment in on-site generation (40% of renewable electricity purchases in 2011).
  • The voluntary procurement of renewable energy has grown in recent years, and this is set to continue, but the pace of growth will depend on political and regulatory support.

The GCWS main findings: 
  • 45% of consumers surveyed perceive climate change as one of the top 3 challenges facing the world today.
  • 7% believe that it is the single greatest challenge facing the world today, with only the financial crisis identified as the top challenge by more respondents.
  • 85% of consumers surveyed say they want more renewable energy
  • 74% would get a more positive perception of a brand if wind energy were the primary energy source used in its production. 
  • 49% of respondents express willingness to pay more for products made with renewable energy
  • 62% of respondents say they would be more willing to buy products from brands using wind energy
  • 52% of consumers believe that the transparency of the energy mix used in product production is too low.

Download the 2012 CREX index here
Download the 2012 GCWS study here

10 September 2012

WA can power world electricity 50 times over, if only for infrastructure

Got some spare poles and wires - anyone?

 Image: Worklife Siemens

The amount of electricity hypothetically produced from all suitable areas, is 908,000 TW h/year while the total global electricity consumption in 2008 was 18,000 TW h/year.

Study author and Stockholm University's Lucas Dawson consulted 10 key stakeholders; the Western Australian Office of Energy, Horizon Power, BHP Billiton, Worley Parsons, Lycopodium Minerals, Australian Venture Consultants, Midwest Energy, Bright Generation, WA Sustainable Energy Association and Sustainable Energy Now.

Stakeholders were asked to rank criteria important to parabolic trough technology including; land availability and incline, access to electricity infrastructure, auxiliary fuel supply, load, water supply, weather and solar radiation supply.

Availability of solar resource, access to water and proximity to roads, load and auxiliary fuels were highly ranked.
Read the complete article on Science WA

Doesn't look like anyone sincerely interested in installing the necessary infrastructure, it is oh so much easier to keep the status quo.

06 September 2012

$130 billion saving possible now by decentralised energy grid

$130 billion savings that no one in power wants.

Excuse the pun, but it is fitting: People in power in Australia shy away or even fight enormous opportunities for all the wrong, selfish reasons:
Politicians are fearing to lose their big donors, the fossil fuel industry; big utilities fearing the loss in value of their assets such as poles and wires and the power stations themselves; last but not least the resource industry supplying the utilities with coal, oil and gas.
Find a great article on the Science Network of Western Australia:

A CSIRO report has highlighted that a lack of incentives and appropriate policies are hindering Australia’s uptake of Distributed Energy (DE), a readily available way of decreasing carbon emissions, increasing electricity and water efficiency, and creating billions of dollars in savings.

Good stuff!

23 August 2012

Transformation technologies - E & T Magazine

Transformation technologies - What The Institution of Engineering and Technology assesses today.

A somewhat long but very good article summarises the current situation and - without bias - outlines the way forward. Here are a few snippets:

The challenge is to limit the temperature rise to a manageable 2°C. The ability to achieve this target is slipping away unless drastic action is taken over the coming decade, a sentiment echoed by a recent report by the International Energy Agency (IEA). In its annual Energy Technology Perspectives (ETP) it says that a host of new technologies is ready to transform the energy system, offering the potential to reduce carbon emissions drastically, enhance energy security and generate a huge investment return. But it goes on to warn that, despite some recent progress in deploying renewable energy, most clean-energy technologies are not on track to make their required contribution to reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and thereby provide a more secure energy system.
“While our efforts to bring about a clean energy transformation are falling further behind, I want to stress the golden opportunity before us: if significant policy action is taken, we can still achieve the huge potential for these technologies to reduce CO2 emissions and boost energy security,” said IEA executive director Maria van der Hoeven. “Now that we have identified the solution and the host of related benefits, and with the window of opportunity closing fast, when will governments wake up to the dangers of complacency and adopt the bold policies that radically transform our energy system? To do anything less is to deny our societies the welfare they deserve,” she said.
The pathway to sustainability is to limit the rise in temperature to 2°C. To give us an 80 per cent chance of reaching this reduced level of CO2 emissions must be cut down by more than half between 2009 and 2050.”
The most important recommendation in ETP 2012 is that a sustainable energy system needs to be smarter, more unified and more integrated than the present system. “To put it simply, today’s system, which is essentially fossil based, is centralised and one-directional,” Bo Diczfalusy, director of sustainable policy and technology, IEA, explains. “The system that we envisage for 2050 is multi-directional and more decentralised. 
Read the article in full and if you like save it as pdf to read later.

17 August 2012

Five things we learned this week .... : Renew Economy

Five things we learned this week .... : Renew Economy
One of which shows how we can save most:
"... the only real option for consumers to reduce their bills is through installing solar PV. Efficiency measures can deliver some reductions, but as the graph below shows, nothing compared to what is available through a rooftop system. "
Just look at the map, it tells a clear tale:
When do you start saving?

111MW Solar PV registered in July for Australia - SunWiz | Climate Spectator

111MW Solar PV registered in July for Australia - SunWiz | Climate Spectator

According to SunWiz's Solar PV Market Synopsis for August:
- July saw 111MW of PV registered across Australia, an almost-equivalent month of registration to June.
-Victoria is experiencing bouyant sales conditions

Good numbers indeed! With this speed collectively we are replacing a major coal-fired power plant per year, the established energy providers already see a strong decline in power demand in Australia, especially from black coal:

Good on us Solar Power People!

13 August 2012

Solar PV as Investment Object

Why I’ve Done a U-Turn on Solar Energy

"And as an investor, we believe now is the best time to buy, with solar stocks hitting all-time lows.
Make no mistake, investing in solar energy is a high-risk punt. But at these prices it’s a punt worth making for any speculator."

Do you have Dollars to spare? Are you up for investing in selected stocks? Maybe these guys are trustworthy to you, have a look at their website and maybe strike gold!

I'd like to add one more site that has a word in this sector:

However the time may have come to buy solar stocks again. Here's why. . .

Well, I'm not repeating what they have to say, read it for yourself :-)

10 August 2012

Germany Added 1.8 GW of PV in June, More Than 4 GW in 2012 : Greentech Media

Germany Added 1.8 GW of PV in June, More Than 4 GW in 2012

Almost 4.4 gigawatts (4,373.5 megawatts) of photovoltaic capacity were installed in Germany in the first half of 2012.

Mind boggling numbers!
They clearly demonstrate what is possible if there's a political will, with vision and a helping hand for starters: A generous FiT that's tailored down to wean the industry off from subsidies over time. Mission accomplished? Not yet, but it looks very well on track!

Small editorial note: The article quotes "14.7 kilowatt-hours generated by 1.2 million PV systems", that should read "14.7 billion kilowatt-hours generated by 1.2 million PV systems".

08 August 2012

Solar PV cost per GW compared to Nuclear

A comparison made by Daniel Simon

Often enough some groups claim that nuclear energy is cheaper than solar PV. Daniel Simon puts numbers of both technologies next to each other without boring us like accountants.

His conclusions are clear, however, the one unanswered question in his discussion is how great the effort (measured in dollars) is to dispose of the waste products (spent fuel, the installation itself at the end of its service life) of either tech is. While it is easily answered for solar PV (= $0), the true costs for properly disposing of nuclear waste should be part of the calculation.

Nevertheless a good article!

02 August 2012

How Much Solar Can China Install Domestically? 100GW by 2020?

A report by Greentech Media

If true, the solar glut is over. Prepare for price increases!

China's PV manufacturing facilities are vastly underutilized. A few Chinese firms might be allowed to fail by the government or encouraged to be acquired by larger, more stable entities. Suntech, LDK, and others are faced with mounting balance sheet issues.

The U.S. and the European Union are imposing tariffs on Chinese solar products, the incentive regimes in Germany and California are diminishing, and China is facing some fierce market realities.

Shyam Mehta made these observations and forecasts for the global PV market in GTM Research's most recent solar market report:
  • PV supply to be nearly 200 percent of demand in 2012, or 59 gigawatts of supply compared to 30 gigawatts of demand
  • Crystalline silicon (c-Si) module manufacturing costs to fall as low as $0.45 per watt by 2015 for Chinese Tier-1 suppliers
  • C-Si module average selling price (ASP) to dip to $0.61 per watt by 2015 from Chinese Tier-1 suppliers
  • Average c-Si module efficiency to hit 16.4 percent by 2015 compared to 14.9 percent today

Read the full article.

31 July 2012

US: 200,000 GW of solar could be installed; 4,000 TWh/a

US: 200,000 GW of solar could be installed; 4,000 TWh/a:
According to a new study released by NREL, the technical potential of photovoltaics and concentrating solar power (CSP) in the U.S. amounts to just under 200,000 GW, which could generate around 399,700 TWh of energy annually.
This is huge! I can't wait to see proper action arising from this as it most likely would see those states following that always follow and/or don't have the guts to lead themselves.
But then again there are those vested interests from the gas fracking league and Tea Party people (same in Australia under different names IMHO) who will find all kinds of excuses to not engage on the sustainable path. Well, even they will (sometimes) learn as was published only recently when a climate change denier made a remarkable and complete U-turn.
The report btw makes for easy and quick reading, straight to the point and heaps of graphs and tables.

27 July 2012

Solar PV capacity overtakes wind energy in Germany

Solar PV capacity overtakes wind energy in Germany - reneweconomy.com.au : Renew Economy

The theory was know all along, now the stats of real-life and large scale installations prove it:
Wind and solar complement each other very nicely:

Germany has installed both Wind and Solar in the order of 32 Giga Watt peak capacity, delivering in the order of 6-7 Tera Watt hours a month, at times (obviously great weather conditions needed) delivering more power than the conventional methods do!

Imagine the future, this is just the beginning!

Read the full story to learn more.

23 July 2012

Port Augusta backs solar thermal power

Port Augusta backs solar thermal power - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Port Augusta residents have voted overwhelmingly to support solar thermal power to replace the city's coal power stations.

A community vote has seen 3,500 people vote for either gas or solar thermal.

A total of 98 per cent have chosen solar thermal.

The vote was organised by the Re-power Port Augusta group, with Daniel Spencer from the group saying the current operators Alinta Energy also support the change.

Read the full article

The final outcome in actual vote numbers is posted on Facebook by the 100% Renewable group.

20 July 2012

Solar thermal plan for coal-fired power stations - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Solar thermal plan for coal-fired power stations

This is great news:

Energy company Alinta has told business representatives at Port Augusta in South Australia of a plan to convert its two coal-fired power stations to solar thermal technology.

What we don't know is the real and true reason why this gas-producer giant is betting on solar rather than their "own product".  ABC assume that "They envisage the gas price will rise sharply within the next few years and make gas more of an expensive option."

Whatever it might be, the outcome is great and lets us hope this to be the first in a long row of correct decisions in this respect!

18 July 2012

Solar displaces wind | Renew Economy

Solar displaces wind | Renew Economy:
The start of construction on the massive 1,000 megawatt Silverton wind farm near Broken Hill will be pushed back two years  to make way for the 159MW solar farm to be built under the Solar Flagships program.
'via Blog this'

16 July 2012

119 One-Liners to Respond to Climate Science Myths | Planetsave

119 One-Liners to Respond to Climate Science Myths | Planetsave

Climate science expert, physicist, and highly respected blogger John Cook of SkepticalScience.com spends much of his time creating long, detailed, scientific rebuttals to climate change disinformers.

For detailed debunkings of hundreds of climate change disinformer myths, you can surf his website for hours. But for all of us who do not spend so much time debating with disinformers and do not have such deep knowledge of climate science, or who just need a short (science-backed) one-liner time and again to refute a climate science myth, one of his readers — Dr. Jan Dash, an ex-theoretical physicist and Director of the Climate Initiative of the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office — helped him to create a list of 119 one-liners to use in such circumstances, with links to more detailed, scientific arguments.

By the way, you can also get these on the skeptical science apps for the iPhoneAndroid, or Nokia.

Read the full story on Planetsave.com

05 July 2012

Infographics on Solar Power - CleanTechnica

Infographics on Solar Power - CleanTechnica

Just found a great website with great infographics and extra info on solar. Did you know:
  1. The U.S. solar energy industry now employs over 100,000 people (more than the coal or steel industry, to put that into perspective).
  2. The U.S. solar energy industry is the fastest-growing industry in the U.S. It is creating jobs 10 times faster than the U.S. economy as a whole).
  3. Over 5,000 businesses (mostly small businesses) support the solar industry in the U.S., creating jobs for Americans in every state.
  4. Solar PV installations have grown about 69% in the past year (that’s 40 times faster than the U.S. economy as a whole).
  5. The U.S. solar energy industry is a net exporter, by $2 billion/year, and is even a net exporter to China (how many industries can claim that?).
  6. 9 out of 10 Americans think we should be developing and using more solar power.
  7. The utility-scale solar market has grown 171% in the past year or so.
Solar is expected to continue booming. In the U.S., it might even double each year up to 2020 (under the right policy scenario):

Hoping for similar numbers in Australia!

04 July 2012

The Global PV Manufacturing Landscape in 2012 and Beyond: A Brave New World : Greentech Media

The Global PV Manufacturing Landscape in 2012 and Beyond: A Brave New World : Greentech Media

An excerpt from GTM Research’s latest report on the volatile global PV supply landscape.

The following is an excerpt from the introduction to GTM Research's recently published report, titled PV Technology, Production and Cost: 2012-2016 Outlook. For more information on the report, click  here.

For whoever is interested in Solar PV price tendencies, this is a great source of info: GTM

Just one graph as an example:
Have fun reading!

03 July 2012

Falling demand delays power line - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Falling demand delays power line - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
"Lower electricity usage and the proliferation of solar power are among the factors behind a decision to delay work on a major new electricity line."
Sounds like Solar PV is finally showing an impact on areas greater than just residential properties!

27 June 2012

WA awards grant to solar thermal & storage plant - reneweconomy.com.au : Renew Economy

WA awards grant to solar thermal & storage plant - reneweconomy.com.au : Renew Economy

Power to the regions, I say!

A new solar power plant is going to be built with the help of some funding by the state government.

Like other solar thermal systems, this new plant with a 1.5MW (initially) turbine generator located in the town of Morawa is capable of providing energy on demand, and around the clock. It does this by placing a solar receiver containing a quantity of graphite on a 24 metre high tower and surrounding it with a number of toroidal heliostats which follow the path of the sun and direct its rays onto the receiver where water is super-heated up to 800 deg C  (1472 deg F).

After passing through the turbine, the steam is then condensed to water and re-circulated into the feedwater system – a feature that, along with its use of air-cooled condensers – makes the Solastor System ideally suited to arid regions, with limited water supplies.

The system is also modular, with each receiver and its surrounding array of toroidal heliostats making up a single module (and approximately 4 modules per hectare of land) (For American readers: 1 hectare = 107 639.104 square feet, or approximately 2.5 acres).

Nice and compact, isn't it?

Read the full story at RenewEconomy where you'll also find a nice picture to show the technological principle of the plant.

12 June 2012

IEA: we’re on track for 6 degree warming | Climate Spectator

IEA: We're on track for 6 degree warming 

You can’t get much starker a statement than the one from International Energy Agency head Maria van der Hoeven, in relation to the latest edition of the IEA’s Energy Technology Perspectives publication:
"Let me be straight. Our ongoing failure to realise the full potential of clean energy technology is alarming.
"Continued heavy reliance on a narrow set of technologies and fossil fuels is a significant threat to energy security, stable economic growth and global welfare, as well as to the environment."

Yes, she mentions it to be a threat to energy security (among other aspects)!
This clearly says that drilling for oil and digging up coal for the sake of "ensuring energy supplies" is actually threatening energy security.
A stark word from a very conservative agency, which the IEA is.

The article continues:
... "the particular highlight, or to be more precise, lowlight, of this report is that if governments don’t do something urgently to wean ourselves off fossil-fuels, we’ll most likely end up with global temperature rise of six degrees Celsius.

"According to a 2010 paper by Sherwood and Huber, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, such a temperature rise would mean significant parts of the globe would be so hot and importantly humid, that it would be beyond humans to successfully adapt."...

Well we (mankind) still can avoid catastrophic climate change if we are willing to cough up a few trillion $, but that has to occur quickly. We still would benefit financially even with a savings figure of $3 to $1 invested.

I just can't see those conservative money-driven countries to go down that path in a hurry.

11 June 2012

Good on you, Wincen Cuy, Mayor of Broken Hill, for having a vision that's worth it!

Solar project to boost far west economy - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
While "far west economy" is a relative term - we're talking NSW and not all of Australia here after all - it is still a great effort other local or state governments could take a lesson from.

"An estimated 450 construction jobs are to be created when two large-scale solar farms are built at Broken Hill and Nyngan, starting in 2014.
"What a great synergy that AGL is also undertaking the wind farm here as well so we now have the mining sector starting to take some strong holds, we also now have this new renewable energy.
Broken Hill has been famed for the resources its been able to produce over the last 130 odd years, now we can become the renewable energy capital of Australia."
Read the lot on ABC

05 June 2012

Panasonic's Lithium Ion Battery System For Home Solar Power : Renewable Energy News :

Panasonic Corporation has announced it will commence mass-producing a compact long-life lithium-ion battery system for home solar power applications this month.
The Panasonic battery system has a module capacity of 1.35kWh and includes a battery management system designed to control charge and discharge of the battery. The system can store surplus electricity generated by rooftop solar panels for use when needed, further reducing the dependence on grid supplied power.

The lithium-ion battery has a design life time of 5000 cycles, based on an 80% depth of discharge per cycle. This compares very favourably to traditional deep cycle battery technologies such as AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) and gel; which may only have a serviceable life of 1,500 cycles when discharged to 80%.
As to the cost of the system, that is unknown at this point, as is a release date for the Australian market. The system will initially be made available to European households via Panasonic's Smart Energy Systems Department; part of the Mobile Energy Business Division of SANYO Component Europe GmbH.
Read the lot

04 June 2012

Australia's cumulative rooftop PV capacity nears 1.5 GW

Australia's cumulative rooftop PV capacity nears 1.5 GW
31.05.2012: According to the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), Australia’s total installed rooftop photovoltaic (PV) capacity grew from 23 MW in 2008 to an estimated 1,450 MW by the end of February 2012. AEMO also found that in 2011, rooftop PV installations generated about 1,200 GWh of electricity, covering 0.6 percent of the country’s energy demand. AEMO forecasts that installed rooftop PV capacity will reach 5,100 MW by 2020 and nearly 12,000 MW by 2031, based on a moderate growth scenario. Under a rapid growth scenario – in which PV system costs fall sharply, energy prices rise quickly and incentives remain relatively generous – AEMO forecasts that installed rooftop PV capacity could top 18,000 MW by 2031. In a slow scenario, however, rooftop PV capacity would not even reach 6,000 MW by 2031. … Source: Australian Energy Market Operator; Summary: PHOTON

01 June 2012

6 Reasons to Buy Solar Stocks NOW - Green World Investor - Solar Feeds

6 Reasons to Buy Solar Stocks NOW - Green World Investor - Solar Feeds

Solar Stocks are again touching their all time low on news of US imposing duties on imports of the $ 3 billion of Chinese solar panel imports . This could herald retaliatory tariffs by the Chinese government which could further harm the already teetering solar companies . However the time may have come to buy solar stocks

1) Sentiment for buying solar stocks is ...
Read the full story 

31 May 2012

Chinese reactions to US embargo

Chinese reactions to US embargo

Trade War Looming as China Rebukes U.S. Support for Solar 

China’s allegation that renewable- energy subsidies in five U.S. states violate free-trade rules ratchets up a potentially costly trade war between the world’s two largest economies.
Source: Bloomberg Businessweek

Solar power faces eclipse from US tariffs
It's hard not to notice the huge tilting solar walls at the headquarters of Suntech Power Holdings, the world's largest producer of silicon solar modules, located in Wuxi city, East China's Jiangsu province. Through the use of solar power, the walls provide 80 percent of the electricity required by the building, with zero emissions of air pollutants.
Source: China Daily

30 May 2012

LCA Harmonization

LCA Harmonization

The LCA Harmonization project systematically reviewed estimates of life cycle GHG emissions from electricity generation technologies published between 1970 and 2010. LCAs consider emissions from all stages in the life cycle of an electricity generation technology, from component manufacturing, to operation of the generation facility to its decommissioning, and including acquisition, processing and transport of any required fuels. For selected technologies, a meta-analytical procedure called "harmonization" was applied to adjust estimates so that they were methodologically more consistent and therefore more comparable. This was done to reduce variability and clarify central tendency in the estimate of life cycle GHG emissions to that more robust decisions can be made and other analyses relying on such estimates can be strengthened.

25 May 2012

Solar Energy Generation Costs to Compete with Fossil Fuels by 2017

Solar Energy Generation Costs to Compete with Fossil Fuels by 2017 | Inhabitat - Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building

Despite recent clashes between the US and Chinese solar industries, it seems that the entire solar power sector is prospering. As stated in a new report from GlobalData, with the ever-increasing number of solar power installations, the cost of energy generation is falling. In fact, it is falling so quickly that the report predicts that by 2017 it’ll be cheaper than generating power from traditional fossil fuels.
The report, which is called “Grid Parity for Wind and Solar Power – Future Outlook and Impact Analysis”, shows that the global solar PV capacity increased by 100% between 2009 and 2011. This figure is expected to soar as both China and the US reach grid parity within the next few years.

Read more: Solar Energy Generation Costs to Compete with Fossil Fuels by 2017 | Inhabitat - Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building 

16 May 2012

David Crane, head of energy utility NRG, predicts an end to the “hub and spoke” model of centralised generation

Solar PV will do for grids what mobiles did for telephony - reneweconomy.com.au : Renew Economy

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The head of one of biggest energy utilities in the US, David Crane of NRG, predicts that solar PV will have as much of an impact on the energy industry as mobile phones did on the telecommunications industry.
Crane told a Deutsche Bank conference in New York this week that technologies are rapidly breaking down barriers in the energy industry, particularly in the retail market. “Over the next 20 years, distributed solar will do to grid power what cell phones have done to fixed line telephony over the past 20 years,” he told the conference.
Crane has become one of the most influential thinkers on the clean energy revolution, in the US and globally, and as we reported in this story, Shock of the new energy business models, he has said that solar PV is the biggest game changer in the energy industry in the past 25 years, and he has also predicted an end to the “hub and spoke” model of centralised generation.

14 May 2012

Energy Minister confirms solar tariff blow out - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Energy Minister confirms solar tariff blow out - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
The Energy Minister Peter Collier says it is not yet clear how much it will cost over the entire 10-year life of the program.
"We are continuing to address the scheme and we'll have more to say in the future in terms of what will happen with the feed-in tariff scheme."
Read the lot

Does this mean they are thinking about how they could possibly break agreed contracts with those who currently receive the FiT?

07 May 2012

Renewables to power WA mine Wind and Solar - Solar Choice

Renewables to power WA mine Wind and Solar: West Australia’s first 100% renewable-powered mine: Wind and Solar

West Australia’s first 100% renewable-powered mine: Wind and Solar

by James Martin II on April 27, 2011

Lithium producer Galaxy Resources is planning to be operating West Australia’s first mine powered by 100% renewable energy within 3 years. The mine is already partially powered by solar panels mounted on solar-trackers.

10 to 15% of the energy for the Mt Cattlin lithium mine, 540km south of Perth in Ravensthorpe, comes from on-site solar tracking panels developed by Swan Energy, which follow arc of the sun through the sky to produce up to 15% more power than traditional fixed-axis panels. The power to close the gap for energy currently produced by coal and diesel will come from three wind turbines–1.2MW each, to take advantage of the area’s strong, consistent winds–and a 1MW solar power system.
Read it all

On their website Galaxy Resources state that currently "Galaxy has 14 giant solar trackers and 2 wind turbines in operation at Mt Cattlin, which together generate 226 MWh per year of renewable energy."
The Hybrid installation is complemented by a 5MW Diesel Generator.

04 May 2012

Carnarvon Solar Power Station Delivered on Time and $500K Under Budget

Carnarvon Solar PV Station officially opened today
Carnarvon businesses and residents will benefit from a new solar power station which will officially open today.
Energy Made Clean Limited built the $3 million project, which will feed clean energy into the grid.
The Federal Government contributed $1.5 million to the facility which is made up of 48 photovoltaic frames.
Read the full story

03 May 2012

Land nod for solar energy project - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Land nod for solar energy project - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
March 28, 2012 13:27:36
The Shire of Morawa has earmarked land for a proposed solar energy plant.
Carbon Reduction Ventures wants to build a $21 million, 3 MW renewable energy plant to supply electricity to the mid-west Western Australian town.
Map of Morawa for the proposed Solar Power Plant.
This appears to be the first solar thermal plant in WA, positioned at the fringe of the SWIS, the South West interconnected power grid which has trouble delivering reliable power to the region.

30 April 2012

Germany and renewable energy in 2012

Germany and renewable energy - Rear Vision - ABC Radio National (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Today, just over 20 per cent of Germany’s electricity comes from renewable sources–wind, solar, biomass, et cetera–and some people are hoping to increase that to 100 per cent by 2030.

Read here how this was achieved and is planned to develop further, along with some fascinating details and stories from experience, e.g. how much fluctuating energy can a grid take?

20 April 2012

Technical Note – Bypass Diode Effects in Shaded Conditions

Bypass diodes are a standard addition to any crystalline PV module. The bypass diodes’ function 
is to eliminate the hot-spot phenomena which can damage PV cells and even cause fire if the 
light hitting the surface of the PV cells in a module is not uniform. The bypass diodes are usually 
placed on sub-strings of the PV module, one diode per up to 20 PV cells. This configuration 
eliminates the creation of hot-spots and enables the PV modules to operate with high reliability 
throughout their lifetime.
In addition to effectively fulfilling this function, many people believe the bypass diodes are also 
effective in reducing power loss due to shading in PV installations. This is far from the truth. In 
this document we will analyze several everyday scenarios and show ...

Read it all in this very good pdf

02 April 2012

Zero-cost solar: Will this be Gillard's election secret weapon? - reneweconomy.com.au : Renew Economy

Zero-cost solar: Will this be Gillard's election secret weapon? - reneweconomy.com.au : Renew Economy

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Australian solar installers are racing to become the first companies to offer long-term leasing arrangements that will allow householders to install large rooftop solar installations at zero up-front cost and hedge against rising electricity prices.
The move is being hailed as a potential game changer in the industry, whose growth has been arrested by sudden changes to feed-in-tariffs, but it could also have a big impact on established energy utilities, both generators and retailers, and has the potential of changing the political rhetoric as the next federal poll is fought on cost-of-living issues, mostly retail electricity prices.

24 February 2012

Solar Panels Float, Rotate: Discovery News:

The system is designed to exploit unused areas of artificial reservoirs or disused quarries.

  • Italian engineers have designed a floating solar power plant that tracks the sun.
  • The system costs 20 percent less than ground-based structures.
  • Panels could be installed over artificial waterways to make better use of wasted space.

floating solar
The floating photovoltaic plant tracks the sun for energy efficiency.

Well, here's my first blog, I intend to fill this space with copies from my tweets @SolarPowerBen.
I wouldn't mind if you followed me!

@beyondzeronews Groundbreaking Zero Carbon Australia report now available on iPad itunes.apple.com/au/app/zero-ca…”; also on beyondzeroemissions.org/zero-carbon-au…