Category: Solar

Solar Panel information, ideas and do-it-yourself suggestions.

First Ever Utility-Scale Solar PV Project Breaks Ground in Jordan

Last month, Jordan took a major step toward achieving increased independence from imported energy. In the coastal city of Aqaba, the kingdom’s very first utility-scale PV project broke ground. The 10-megawatt (MW) Shamsuna Project is scheduled to enter into full operation when construction is completed in October of this year.

Spearheaded by a partnership between Desert Technologies and Enerray SpA, the Shamsuna Project is the first of 12 renewable energy projects under management by the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources (MEMR). Jordan’s National Electrical Power Company (NEPCO) is backing the project with a 20-year power purchase agreement.

Three Island Nations Are Ready for Renewable Energy

Powering and fueling societies by harvesting solar, wind and other clean, renewable energy resources makes good sense anywhere, anytime – especially now that technical performance has improved and costs have dropped so dramatically. Nowhere is this more true than it is for small island nations where energy costs are high and human populations, not to mention ecosystems and natural resources, fragile and threatened.

Releasing its Renewables Readiness Assessment (RRA) reports for three South Pacific island nations – Fiji, the Marshall Islands and Vanuatu – IRENA (International Renewable Energy Agency), concludes that tapping into solar, wind, geothermal, marine, biomass and biofuel energy would not only meet electricity needs, it would reduce energy costs, create gainful employment, broaden energy access, and set these and other island nations firmly on the path towards sustainable energy self-sufficiency.

Though very different in terms of geography and geology, the three small island nations are blessed with an abundance of renewable energy resources but have only recently launched efforts to harness them for power. 

The Lessons Coal and Electricity Markets of the Past Can Offer Solar+Storage Markets Today

The path to scaling up clean energy technologies like solar+storage sometimes can seem like unchartered territory. It can be challenging to figure out the best strategies to develop large, mainstream markets for clean energy technologies. So, it’s good to know that we’ve been on this path before, and that energy transitions of the past can provide some lessons for the future.

Competition in Booming Energy Storage Market Continues To Heat Up

Australia, the sunniest continent, is luring solar battery suppliers from Tesla Motors Inc. to LG Corp. as the global roll out of the technology for home and business power storage gathers pace.

At stake is a domestic market that could be worth A$24 billion ($18 billion), according to Morgan Stanley. Australia leads the world in putting solar panels on roofs, and by 2040, about one in two homes are forecast to rely on sun power.

Elon Musk’s Tesla plans early next year to bring its new batteries to Australia, which will join Germany as its first two markets outside the U.S. LG Chem will offer new technology to Australian homes in August, while Panasonic Corp. plans to begin selling its batteries in the country in October.

“Australia has all the criteria that you would look for — high sunshine, high energy prices and low financing costs,” Michael Parker, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. in Hong Kong, said by phone. “It’s a good test market.”

With solar power set to draw $3.7 trillion in investment through 2040, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, interest in power storage is surging.

LG Chem wants to capture 30 percent of the Australian market, the South Korean company said in an e-mail response to questions. The industry could could grow 15-fold in the next two years to more than 30,000 storage systems, it said.

Storage Units

Samsung SDI Co., meanwhile, is testing its storage units with Australian retailer Origin Energy Ltd., which expects to offer the products to customers later this year, and AU Optronics Corp. of Taiwan is working with AGL Energy Ltd.

Government subsidies and falling prices fueled a wave of growth in solar panel installations in Australia, and the country is set to see further expansion. About 6 million, or half of Australian homes, are forecast to have solar systems by 2040, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

“The ability to store the energy that’s generated by solar is a huge opportunity within this market,” Heath Walker, Tesla’s marketing manager in Melbourne, said by phone. In coming months, the company plans to unveil battery partnerships with utilities or solar developers in Australia, he said.

Battery storage does face obstacles, though, with the cost and the size of the systems needed to maintain a reliable power source deterring some consumers, the Grattan Institute found.

Falling Tariffs

“Everybody says it’s an emerging market, but I’m not sure many people have bought batteries yet,” Origin’s Managing Director Grant King said in an interview. “Will we see a wholesale migration of customers off the grid because of batteries? My answer is no.”

Declining battery costs, surging electricity prices and falling tariffs for feeding excess power to the grid could drive storage, the Australian Energy Market Operator found.

Battery storage will allow homes with solar panels to store excess electricity for later use, reducing peak power consumption and potentially energy costs, Panasonic said.

“Storage is coming,” Panasonic’s local Managing Director Paul Reid said in a June 2 interview. “There may be things that impact the speed of the roll out, but it will dramatically change the landscape of the energy sector in Australia.”

Listen Up: Pope Calls for the Replacement of Fossil Fuels, Renewable Energy and Solar Subsidies

We’re talking about religion this week. Did I get your attention? How about if we talk about climate change, more renewable energy, dirty fossil fuels and solar subsidies? Okay, we’ve already covered these topics. But now the Pope has chimed in with his “On Care For Our Common Home” Encyclical. I’m probably the worst person to comment on this 180 page Encyclical (I got kicked out of Hebrew School). There is no doubt in my mind that the Pope’s analysis and commentary will definitely affect U.S. politics related to clean energy.

Corporate Speed Dating: Coupling India’s Smart Cities with Smart Investment for Sustainability

Building off nearly 10 months of extensive public and private sector consultation, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi began in April to green-light initial projects under the country’s Smart Cities Initiative (SCI). The SCI benchmarks, formulated in response to rapid urban population growth, aim to modernize environmentally sustainable transport, housing, utility, and connectivity services for 100 new or refurbished cities across the subcontinent.

The Rapid Rise of Residential Energy Storage

Energy storage is heralded as the critical technology that will make widespread adoption of renewable energy possible. Storage bottles sunlight, addressing a key drawback to solar energy — that it can’t provide electricity when the sun isn’t shining. Energy storage also cures additional utility ailments from grid resiliency to power smoothing.

Testing Heats Up at Sandia’s Solar Tower

Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories are working to lower the cost of solar energy systems and improve efficiencies in a big way, thanks to a system of small particles. This month, engineers lifted Sandia’s continuously recirculating falling particle receiver to the top of the tower at theNational Solar Thermal Test Facility,marking the start of first-of-its-kind testing that will continue through 2015. The Sandia-developed falling particle receiver works by dropping sand-like ceramic particles through a beam of concentrated sunlight, capturing and storing the heated particles in an insulated tank. The technology can capture and store heat at high temperatures without breaking down, unlike conventional molten salt systems.

Testing Heats Up at Sandia’s Solar Tower

Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories are working to lower the cost of solar energy systems and improve efficiencies in a big way, thanks to a system of small particles. This month, engineers lifted Sandia’s continuously recirculating falling particle receiver to the top of the tower at theNational Solar Thermal Test Facility,marking the start of first-of-its-kind testing that will continue through 2015. The Sandia-developed falling particle receiver works by dropping sand-like ceramic particles through a beam of concentrated sunlight, capturing and storing the heated particles in an insulated tank. The technology can capture and store heat at high temperatures without breaking down, unlike conventional molten salt systems.

India Seeks International Developers To Build Its 100-GW Solar Market

India will soon invite bids for its first dollar-linked solar power contracts, seeking to cut costs and woo investment as Prime Minister Narendra Modi targets an unprecedented expansion in clean energy.

State-owned NTPC Ltd., India’s largest power generator, will award the tenders for 500 megawatts to 1,000 megawatts of electricity in July, Tarun Kapoor, a joint secretary in India’s Renewable Energy Ministry, said in an interview in New Delhi.

“NTPC will show the way in dollar bidding by bringing solar tenders in a month,” Kapoor said on June 25.

Behavioral Economics and the Solar PV Industry

Behavioral economic theory holds that human interactions are complex and that economic motivations include nuance beyond that of maximizing utility. This is certainly true of the global solar industry as throughout its history it has interacted within a context of here-one-day-gone-the-next incentives and subsidies, expectations of significant price drops, competition with well-subsidized conventional energy technologies as well as a continuing perception among many that solar remains a science experiment.

Solar industry participants have a preference for very big numbers and forecasts as well as for optimistic outlooks for the future.  Any deviation from the celebration of really big numbers or any notion that strays from the optimistic status quo is typically ignored. 

Cherry-picking facts — be they optimistic or pessimistic — to make a point without considering context and nuance, will almost always lead to poor decision-making. 

What Is the Value of Solar Energy + Storage?

What’s the true, overall value of combined “behind the meter” energy storage plus solar PV deployment to U.S. power utilities and their customers? That’s the big question facing stakeholders in Hawaii and other U.S. states with a need to integrate fast-growing amounts of solar and renewable energy on to power grids.

 

A new valuation methodology set out in a report commissioned by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) and carried out by Clean Power Research offers utilities, grid operators and regulators the means to find out. With Hawaii’s electricity market providing the basis, the IREC-CPR report, “Valuation of Solar + Storage in Hawaii: A Methodology,” fills a gap in the analytic toolkit utilities have at their disposal, IREC and CPR explained in interviews. 

 

A rough analysis using the valuation methodology indicates the incremental value of adding battery storage capacity to solar PV installations in Hawaii comes in at 10 cents per kWh. Those net capacity added benefits accrue to the utility and rate payers. Costs of 7 cents per kWh, which include the costs of solar and storage losses, are paid for by utility customers who deploy these hybrid systems, CPR’s Ben Norris explained.

 

While these figures are specific to Hawaii, IREC-CPR’s valuation model can be used to determine the value of solar-plus-storage installations in any state or region, he added. 

‘Snail’s Pace’ in Climate Talks, Weak Pledges Frustrate UN Chief

The secretary general of the United Nations is frustrated with the pace of negotiations for what’s intended to be a crucial agreement limiting global warming.

Climate change pledges submitted so far from the world’s leading economies won’t be enough to keep the planet from warming dangerously, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Monday in New York.

Proposals to reduce heat-trapping emissions need to be “a floor, not a ceiling,” he said.

The global increase in temperatures will exceed 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) under the national pledges already submitted to UN, Ban said. That’s the goal scientists and the UN have set to avoid the worst effects due to global warming.

The proposals submitted to date “will not be enough to place us on a 2-degree pathway,” Ban said.

Without any changes to global emissions, the world is on track to warm by 4 degrees Celsius or more, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Climate Change Janos Pasztor said earlier this month.

World leaders have five months to go before a meeting of almost 200 nations in Paris that’s intended to seal a new global pact to cut planet-warming carbon emissions. If successful, the agreement would be the first ever to require both developed nations like the US and growing economies like China to address climate change.

“The pace of UN negotiations are far too slow,” Ban said. “It’s like a snail’s pace.”

The U.S., the world’s biggest historic source of greenhouse gases, pledged earlier this year to cut its emissions by as much as 28 percent by 2025. The European Union has promised a 40 percent cut by 2030. Several other major economies, including Australia and Japan, have yet to submit climate plans to the UN.