Solar costs heading to 4c/kWh, rooftop solar seen “unbeatable” REneweconomy. By Giles Parkinson on 30 September 2014 The highly conservative International Energy Agency predicts the cost of solar energy will fall to around 4c/kWh in coming decades as the sun becomes the dominant source of power generation across the world.
As we reported yesterday, the IEA now expects solar to become the biggest single source of energy by 2050 and has now doubled its forecast capacity for solar PV.
Rooftop solar, it says, will now account for one half of the world’s solar PV installations, because as a distributed energy source the technology is “unbeatable”.
On costs, it says all solar technologies will fall dramatically in coming decades, with solar PV falling to as low as 4c/kWh, utility-scale solar to around the same level, and solar thermal with storage will fall to as low as 6.4c/kWh.
As this graph [in original] below shows, the minimum price tends to occur in regions with great sunshine, and it also assumes a low capital cost of around 8%……..
The forecasts from the IEA are not the most dramatic that can be found, but they are significant because the IEA is essentially a conservative organisation that was created in the 1970s to defend developed countries’ access to fossil fuels
It has a history of underestimating the impact of new technologies such as solar, as we pointed out in this article – even though it has doubled its forecast for solar PV deployment in just the last few years. Other agencies, such as IRENA, have a much more bullish forecast for solar……http://reneweconomy.com.au/2014/solar-costs-heading-4ckwh-rooftop-solar-seen-unbeatable-74425
More Than A Light Bulb: How Clean Energy Is Powering Health Clinics Beyond The Grid http://cleantechnica.com/2014/08/26/light-bulb-clean-energy-powering-health-clinics-beyond-tthe-grid/August 26th, 2014 by Vrinda Manglik It is hard to overstate the effect that access to reliable electricity can have on people’s lives in rural communities worldwide.
That’s why we are so supportive of interventions like off-grid clean energy that not only put power directly in people’s hands, but do it in a time frame that matters: now, not decades from now. That’s something traditional grid extension and centralized power plants simply can’t do. Despite the important leg up off-grid clean energy provides these communities, we’ve heard some concerns that these interventions can only be used to provide lighting and supplies like light bulbs. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
To help us understand what kinds of resources these companies are powering with clean energy, we turned to SunFarmer, a US- and Canada-based non-profit organization, to learn more about off-grid companies powering health clinics.
SunFarmer is a pretty unique organization. As a non-profit, it has learned important lessons all off-grid companies should live by, including not to give things away for free. That’s why SunFarmer employs a rent-to-own business model that specifically seeks to empower local companies to deliver clean energy services to hospitals and health clinics. SunFarmer’s value to these companies is simple, but big: it unlocks crucial financing. Given how hard financing is to come by in this market, that’s incredibly important.
In addition, SunFarmer provides ever critical after-sales service in the form of technical assistance, quality assurance, and system maintenance — while local partners lead on project management. SunFarmer is also developing a monitoring and control platform to track the levels of energy production, observe the system’s battery performance, and communicate any issues (including energy theft) to health clinic staff. All of these critical data points prove that the next big frontier for these markets is data analytics.
But why should SunFarmer target large consumers, like health clinics, when most organizations working in this clean energy market start with small household needs — including lighting and mobile phone charging?
The answer is simple: the founders of SunFarmer were moved by the negative effect unreliable power has on 300,000 healthcare facilities worldwide. These critical public health care providers suffered from hours of power shortages and cuts that were keeping them from doing their job — saving lives.
When hospitals or health clinics lack reliable power, they can’t refrigerate vaccines. They can’t perform surgeries. Babies are delivered by flashlights or candlelight. Health clinic staff with SunFarmer projects have described the difference between delivering babies in darkness versus light, noting, “Previously, delivery was difficult using flashlights held in the mouth as they could neither see clearly nor could give instructions.” Continue reading
More State-Owned Facilities In California Going Solar http://www.energymatters.com.au/index.php?main_page=news_article&article_id=4458 25 Aug 14 Two solar power installations totaling 3.22 megawatts have recently been completed at a state prison and state hospital in California.
The Department of General Services (DGS) managed systems are installed at Pleasant Valley State Prison (1.22MW) and Coalinga State Hospital (2MW).
“State agencies manage approximately 1,700 facilities that use about $200 million worth of electricity and natural gas every year,” said DGS Director Fred Klass. “Efficient operation of state facilities, including on-site renewable energy generation, is critical to achieving Governor Brown’s climate goals.”
In 2012, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. issued a sweeping executive order directing state agencies to slash their greenhouse gas emissions by 10% by 2015 and 20% by 2020, as measured against a 2010 baseline.
The order calls upon state government to slash mains-grid energy purchases for state-owned buildings by at least 20 percent by 2018.
The order also directs new State buildings and major renovations beginning design after 2025 be constructed as Zero Net Energy facilities; with an interim target for 50% of new facilities beginning design after 2020 to be Zero Net Energy.
Pleasant Valley State Prison is one of a dozen jails in California now using solar power. The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation says its use of solar will avoid an estimated 61,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions this year and will save taxpayers approximately $78 million in electricity costs over the next two decades.
The DSH-Coalinga array is expected to generate 24 percent of the hospital’s electricity requirements during its first year.
Both projects have been executed under a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). Under a PPA, a solar provider installs the system via third party financing and the electricity generated by the array is sold to the host facility at a competitive rate. The host facility is not required to pay any up-front costs.
DSG says state agencies will have around 38MW of installed solar capacity by the end of this year.
Stand-Alone Solar Power “Container” Supports Educational Development on Remote Indonesian Island
>Panasonic, Jul 22, 2014 Indonesia consists of approximately 13,000 islands, many of which lack access to electricity due to the difficulty building large power plants and running power lines in the distinctive geography. Panasonic chose Karimunjawa Island, an island located not far from Java Island, near Jepara District, as the recipient of our installation of the Power Supply Container, an easy to set up and transport electrical supply system, in aims to make life better for the people living there.
In total, 250 people attended the ceremony, including Governor KH. Ahmad Marzuki of Jepara District, Minister Yoshiko Kijima of the Embassy of Japan in Indonesia, Representative Director Iskandar Budisaroso Kuntoadji of IBEKA, and the Executive Director Tri Mumpuni as guests of honor; and teachers and students. The guests of honor delivered congratulatory speeches; Mrs. Kijima told that she felt really happy about regional contributions through support by a Japanese company.
People in Karimunjawa Island can only use electricity at night from 6pm-6am, utilizing diesel generators. As no power is available during daytime, their crucial activities are interfered including commercial activities and certain education curriculum. In particular the opportunity to utilize electronic devices, such as fans, computers, or even lighting during the day ultimately hamper the economical development of the island. To solve this social issue, Koperasi Pundih Artah, which receives Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security, IBEKA and Panasonic have launched a project for improving the educational environment, by utilizing the Power Supply Container, under the cooperation of Jepara District and the Embassy of Japan in Indonesia.
During school hours, the Power Supply Container gives support to improve the educational environment; children can use lighting fixtures, ceiling fans and audiovisual educational materials through personal computers and TVs. When there are no classes, the electricity is sold to nearby areas through a management association of the Power Supply Container to contribute to activation of the regional community and improve the regional electricity infrastructure.
Panasonic made efforts to provide the Power Supply Container and to offer IBEKA with technical assistance in this project. Meanwhile, IBEKA is giving support for establishing management associations in Karimunjawa for independent operation of power supplies as well as provides training and supports for their operation, management and maintenance to achieve a sustainable power supply in Karimunjawa……..http://news.panasonic.net/stories/2014/0722_28041.html
Amazing Pop-Up Solar Power Station Delivers Energy Anywhere it’s Needed, Inhabitat, by Beverley Mitchell, 06/24/14 Ecosphere Technologies’ latest product combines several of our very favorite things in one easy-to-transport package: shipping containers, off-the-grid solar power, and clean drinking water generation. With their new Ecos PowerCube, the company can deliver a shipping-container-sized, self-sustaining solar power station by air, sea, rail or road to anywhere in the world it is needed.
Modi to Use Solar to Bring Power to Every Home by 2019 http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-05-19/modi-to-use-solar-to-bring-power-to-every-home-by-2019.html By Rakteem Katakey and Debjit Chakraborty May 18, 2014 India’s new government led b yNarendra Modi plans to harness solar power to enable every home to run at least one light bulb by 2019, a party official said.
“We look upon solar as having the potential to completely transform the way we look at the energy space,” said Narendra Taneja, convener of the energy division at Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, which swept to power on May 16 in the biggest electoral win in three decades. About 400 million people in India lack access to electricity, more than the combined population of the U.S. and Canada. The outgoing government led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh missed a 2012 target to provide electricity to all households.
The five-year goal will require the cooperation of state-level administrations with which the central government shares control over the power industry, Taneja said. If successful, solar panels could allow every home to have enough power to run two bulbs, a solar cooker and a television, he said.
Expanding clean-power generation will be the administration’s top energy-related priority, especially solar because it has the potential to create jobs and supply millions of scattered households not connected to the grid, he said.
Modi, as chief minister of Gujarat state, pioneered India’s first incentives for large-scale solar power in 2009. The party will take lessons from Gujarat’s program as it designs policies on a national level that will include both larger, grid-connected photovoltaic projects and smaller, decentralized applications for solar, Taneja said.
White House solar panels power up Barack Obama unveils new solar expansion plans as officials confirm White House panels are now operational http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/may/09/obama-solar-power-initiatives-california Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent theguardian.com, Friday 9 May 2014 Barack Obama will on Friday unveil several new initiatives intended to expand the deployment of solar power on Friday, as officials confirmed that a set of solar panels on the roof of the White House was now operational.
Obama will – once again – bypass a deadlocked Congress and use his executive authority to announce $2bn funding for energy-saving measures at federal government buildings, as well as new financing and training programmes for solar installations.
The announcements, to be made on a trip to California, cap a climate-focused week at the White House, following the release of an authoritative report on the growing threat posed by heat waves, severe downpours and sea-level rise.
Inside the White House: Solar Panels
White House officials told a conference call with reporters the initiatives were intended to add momentum to the solar industry, which has seen rapid expansion over the last two years.
“We are going to be doing everything we can, with the tools that we have to move forward,” said Dan Utech, special assistant to the president on energy and climate change.
In a largely symbolic move, the White House began installing a small set of solar panels on the roof last summer. The fit was now complete, officials said, releasing a video in which the panels were shown being installed. “The size of the array we established here is the typical size for the average American house, ” said James Doherty, the White House usher. Security concerns had prevented the whole roof being covered, he said.
Scientists Discover How to Generate Solar Power in the Dark Meet ‘photoswitches,’ a breakthrough set of materials that act as their own batteries, absorbing energy and releasing it on demand. THE ATLANTIC, TODD WOODYAPR 15 2014, The next big thing in solar energy could be microscopic.
Scientists at MIT and Harvard University have devised a way to store solar energy in molecules that can then be tapped to heat homes, water or used for cooking.
The best part: The molecules can store the heat forever and be endlessly re-used while emitting absolutely no greenhouse gases. Scientists remain a way’s off in building this perpetual heat machine but they have succeeded in the laboratory at demonstrating the viability of the phenomenon called photoswitching……….
“One design we have for such an application is purely gravity driven – the material flows from one tank to another. The flow rate is restricted so that it’s exposed to the sun long enough that it gets fully charged. Then, when it’s time to cook dinner, after the sun is down, the flow direction is reversed, again driven by gravity, and the opposite side of the setup is used as the cooking surface.”
“As the material flows back to the first tank, it passes by an immobilized catalyst which triggers the energy-releasing process, heating the cooking surface up,” he adds.
Other versions of such device could be used to heat buildings.
Kucharski said the MIT and Harvard team is now investigating other photoswitching molecules and substrates, “with the aim of designing a system that absorbs more of the sun’s energy and also can be more practically scaled up.” http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/04/scientists-discover-how-to-generate-solar-power-in-the-dark/360679/
Communicating The Renewable Energy Revolution, Clean Technica, Zachary Shahan 27 April 14, The clean tech movement is about a shift toward a more peaceful world, a world in which there is more respect for others and in which our ways of living leave a smaller environmental footprint. Clean energy is not just about cleaning our air, preserving our water supplies and helping to protect our climate; it is also about democratizing the energy sector……
Solar Power and Wind Power
Solar power has been a dream for ages. In 1931, Thomas Edison wrote, “I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”
The energy potential from sunshine for one single year is far greater than the energy potential of all known coal, oil, uranium and natural gas reserves combined. The circles in the chart shown here represent annual potential for renewable sources.
The potential is amazing. The solar energy hitting the state of Texas each month is greater than the total amount of energy the Texas oil and gas industry has ever produced.
Importantly, while sunshine is free, the solar panels needed to collect the energy in that sunshine and convert it into electricity are not. However, solar panels today are over 100 times cheaper (per watt) than they were in 1977. Since 2011, the cost of solar panels has dropped by approximately 60 percent, and growth has also been a big part of the stimulus for the cost drops. It is a virtuous circle. The growth curve for the solar panel market over the past few years is steep and resembles that of a plant shooting out of the earth toward the sun!
Solar power is now cheaper than retail electricity for millions of households. In the developed world, it can save countless homeowners tens of thousands of dollars. Meanwhile, all across the developing world, solar power is actually cheaper than power generated from fossil fuels. Just as many people in the developing world leapfrogged from no phones to cell phones, these populations will leapfrog from no electricity to electricity from solar panels.
The cost of wind power came down much earlier than the cost of solar power. In many regions of the world, wind power is currently the cheapest form of renewables-based electricity available–and also cheaper than electricity generated from coal, natural gas, nuclear power and oil, even if related health and environmental costs, which are staggering in themselves, are not taken into account. And costs continue to fall. The cost of wind turbines has fallen by approximately 29 percent since 2008.
In 2012, more wind power capacity was installed in the US than for any other power source. Wind is also routinely at the top of the global charts for annual power capacity additions.
Democratizing the Energy System
One of the major implications of solar power growth, electric vehicle growth and wind power growth to some extent (wind turbines are great additions to farms and small communities) is that they are essentially democratizing our energy system. They decentralize ownership and provide more societal power and more money to common citizens and small businesses. They create more energy independence and security for families, cities and nations, which I believe will ultimately contribute to greater peace in the world.
Also, there has got to be some positive psychological effect from people realizing that they are no longer burning the bones of dinosaurs (amongst other fossils!) for their energy needs, but are instead using renewable sources of energy such as sunlight and wind. http://cleantechnica.com/2014/04/27/communicating-renewable-energy-revolution/
NZ Lends A Solar Helping Hand In Pacific Nations http://www.energymatters.com.au/index.php?main_page=news_article&article_id=4277 New Zealand is supporting the construction of the Pacific’s largest solar panel array in Samoa and also providing a helping hand for other Pacific Nations to pursue clean energy.
According to New Zealand’s Foreign Minister, Murray McCully, the country is working in partnership with the Government of Samoa, the European Union and the Asia Development Bank to increase renewable energy in Samoa.
Part of the project includes the construction of 2.2 MW installation at the Apia Sports Complex, a smaller array on the rooftop of one of the gymnasiums at the Complex; plus another solar power system in Salelologa, Savaii.
“Renewable energy is a strong focus of New Zealand’s support to developing countries. The investments in Samoa reflect commitments made at the Pacific Energy Summit in Auckland last year,” Mr McCully said.
Elsewhere in the Pacific, New Zealand has been assisting in Tuvalu where 95 percent of electricity is currently gained from diesel generation.
New Zealand has funded the construction of four small scale solar-hybrid systems on the Islands of Niutao, Nanumanga, Nanumea and Vaitupu; which will provide 90 per cent of the islands’ electricity needs and improve continuity of service.
Last week, New Zealand also entered into a partnership with the European Union (EU), and Tuvalu to continue this work
“This in an excellent example of New Zealand’s cooperation with the EU on renewable energy and the sort of practical projects we can deliver in partnership with Pacific countries,” Mr McCully says.
On Kiribati’s Kiritimati Island, which also has a heavy reliance on imported diesel fuel for electricity generation, New Zealand and the EU have entered into an agreement to allow for greater technical cooperation relating to renewable energy project development on the island.
Many Pacific nations are low-lying and particularly threatened by sea level rises spurred on by global warming; so the shift from fossil fuels is as much about survival and setting an example for the rest of the world to follow as it is about saving money.
According to the agreement, Google will commit up to $100 million, with SunPower committing approximately $150 million. Thousands of homeowners are expected to finance solar power systems through SunPower solar leases as a result of this program, joining approximately 20,000 Americans already leasing from SunPower……
…..This agreement represents Google’s 16th renewable energy investment and its third residential rooftop solar investment. Overall, Google has invested more than $1 billion in renewable energy projects on three continents and across a range of technologies. Together, these projects can generate more than 2GW — enough electricity each year to power approximately 500,000 U.S. homes. http://www.renewableenergyfocus.com/view/38121/google-sunpower-announce-joint-renewable-energy-financing-deal/
Scotland helps communities earn cash from onshore wind turbines by ClickGreen staff. Published Fri 25 Apr 2014 Scotland’s Energy Minister Fergus Ewing has announced a fresh set of principles designed to maximise community benefit from onshore renewable energy developments.
These principles will help the Scottish Government deliver the 500 megawatts of community and locally owned renewables target by 2020.
The finalised Good Practice Principles for Community Benefit from Onshore Renewable Developments have now been published, following a period of consultation.
The key principle is the promotion of a national community benefits package rate equivalent to at least £5,000 per Megawatt per year, index linked to inflation for the operational lifetime of the development. So for example, a 20 Megawatt windfarm of eight turbines will generate at least £100,000 a year for the local community.
Another key component of the guidance encourages renewable energy developers to submit information on potential community benefits as early in the development process as possible. This is considered a vital step in allowing time for the community to consider properly and to develop ideas for implementation of the community benefit package.
In addition, as part of the principles Mr Ewing has announced that Government will work in partnership with Scottish Renewables to set up a short-term industry working group to develop guidance to encourage community investment in commercial renewables schemes. This is with a view to maximising the opportunity for communities to invest directly in local commercial schemes. To date communities involved in benefit schemes have reaped over £5.6 million for local projects and developments…….http://www.clickgreen.org.uk/news/national-news/124523-scotland-helps-communities-cash-in-with-onshore-wind-turbines.html
Sonnenschiff: Solar City Produces 4X the Energy it Consumes http://inhabitat.com/sonnenschiff-solar-city-produces-4x-the-energy-it-needs/ by Andrew Michler, 07/27/11 Sonnenschiff solar city in Freiburg, Germany is very much net positive. The self-sustaining city accomplishes this feat through smart solar design and lots and lots of photovoltaic panels pointed in the right direction. It seems like a simple strategy — but designers often incorporate solar installations as an afterthought, or worse, as a label. Designed by Rolf Disch, the Sonnenschiff (Solar Ship) and Solarsiedlung (Solar Village) emphasize power production from the start by smartly incorporating a series of large rooftop solar arrays that double as sun shades. The buildings are also built to Passivhaus standards, which allows the project to produce four times the amount of energy it consumes!
Breakthrough could help solve solar power’s biggest problem: Power generation at night Extreme Tech, By Joel Hruska on April 16, 2014
One of the most fundamental barriers to the widespread adoption of renewable energy has been the inconvenient truth of planetary rotation. Solar power has advanced enormously over the past few decades but panel efficiency and solar concentration plants are of limited assistance when Apollo is busy elsewhere on the Earth. Now, researchers think they’ve found a partial solution to that problem by combining the known properties of one substance with everyone’s favorite technological advance: carbon nanotubes……….
What’s needed is a simple method of converting energy gathered during the day into a resource that can be tapped at night — and Timothy Kucharski, a post-doc at MIT and Harvard, thinks his team has found it.
Of photoswitches and nanotubes
Kucharski’s work is based on the well-known properties of azobenzenes. These are molecules, dubbed photoswitches, that have one particular molecular configuration by default but, when struck by certain frequencies of ultraviolet light, assume a new configuration, as shown below. (diagrams) ……..
The goal would be to create a short-term thermal battery that could be used to power a stove or other heat sources during the night after charging all day. A gravity system would be simple, with few moving parts. The long-term goal is to create a system that could be used to provide thermal power for entire buildings and to further increase efficiency.
While it’s not a full-scale solar battery, discoveries like this could make solar power far more useful in developing nations, which still rely primarily on wood or peat for cooking fuel. http://www.extremetech.com/electronics/180697-breakthrough-could-help-solve-solars-biggest-problem
Impact corner: innovative solutions in the renewable energy sector http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/impact-corner-innovative-solutions-renewable-energy-sector Affordable, reliable renewable energy is still a luxury in many parts of the world. Barefoot Power and Hybrid Social Solutions tackle the challenges Tomohiro Nagasaki Guardian Professional, Friday 4 April 2014 Access to safe and affordable sources of energy still remains a luxury for 1.5 billion people in the world. Both product innovation and distribution innovation are challenges in ensuring off-grid access to clean, safe and affordable energy.
BCtA member Barefoot Power addresses this problem by offering solar lighting products which are simple to use and come with a complete set of solar panels, batteries, wires, and (in most products) phone charging adapters. Barefoot’s products are designed at their headquarters in Australia, and manufactured and assembled in China. In order to maintain high quality standards, the company works closely with factories to oversee the quality control process. Barefoot’s lighting products are expected to bring durable and efficient lighting systems to 10 million people by 2015.
In doing business with base of the pyramid populations, having the right strategy for product distribution is often the key to successfully reaching customers. Hybrid Social Solutions, based in the Philippines, specialises in last-mile distribution of solar appliances in the country’s rural communities. The company takes an innovative approach of combining product distribution with the provision of financing, training on the use of solar appliances, and technical support to end-users to ensure their sustainable use of solar products. The company is able to offer such a holistic solution to the end-users through its partnerships with community-based NGOs, cooperatives, and microfinance institutions for providing financing, capacity building, and maintenance support services.
Tomohiro Nagasaki provides impact measurement as a consultant for the Business Call to Action.
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