Ta’u island in American Samoa will rely on solar panels and Tesla batteries as it does away with diesel generators, Guardian Eleanor Ainge Roy, 28 Nov 16, A remote tropical island has catapulted itself headlong into the future by ditching diesel and powering all homes and businesses with the scorching South Pacificsun.
Using more than 5,000 solar panels and 60 Tesla power packs the tiny island of Ta’u in American Samoa is now entirely self-sufficient for its electricity supply – though the process of converting has been tough and pitted with delays……https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/nov/28/south-pacific-island-ditches-fossil-fuels-to-run-entirely-on-solar-power
NucClear News No 90 , 26 Nov 16 A new report from a think-tank called E3G, which aims to accelerate the transition to a lowcarbon economy, says the Government needs to deliver new low carbon generation capacity as cheaply as possible. The UK will need new capacity capable of producing around 150TWh (terawatt hours = 1,000 million kWh) per year of electricity by 2030 – around half of all current output. All plausible scenarios imply that this can only be achieved by deploying a significantly increased volume of renewable generation – likely to be around 50GW, predominantly from a combination of onshore and offshore wind and solar PV.
The E3G report says there is an increasing body of evidence that the system integration costs of renewable generation are low and that the power system can operate securely and at least cost with more than 50% of electricity demand being met from variable renewable sources. System integration costs are predicted to remain less than £10/MWh which means that not only is it possible to securely operate the power system with high levels of renewable generation, but it also represents the cheapest option. E3G shows that under the current trajectory onshore wind will be at least 22% cheaper than nuclear with offshore wind and solar PV providing savings in excess of 4% and 8% respectively, and savings will probably be even greater as the flexibility of the electricity system improves.
The important conclusion from this E3G study is that the cheapest way to decarbonise the power system involves large volumes of variable renewable generation even when taking system integration costs into account. (1)
Renewable costs keep falling
In fact researchers at Citi, a global investment bank, think that paying for energy could soon become a thing of the past. Cheaper storage and smart data analytics may soon make solar and wind energy available to consumers in some parts of the world – completely for free. (2)
Even the government now expects solar and wind power to be cheaper than new nuclear power by the time Hinkley Point C is completed. And Business Secretary, Greg Clark, has admitted that fears that intermittent renewables would jeopardise Britain’s ability to keep the lights on have been overblown. (3) An unpublished report by the energy department shows that it expects onshore wind power and large-scale solar to cost around £50-75 per megawatt hour (MWh) of power generated in 2025. New nuclear is anticipated to be around £85-125/MWh, in line with the guaranteed price of £92.50/MWh that the government has offered Hinkley’s developer, EDF. On previous forecasts, made in 2010 and 2013, the two renewable technologies were expected to be more expensive than nuclear or around the same cost. This is the first time the government has shown it expects them to be a cheaper option. The figures were revealed in a National Audit Office (NAO) report on nuclear in July. “The [energy] department’s forecasts for the levelised cost of electricity of wind and solar in 2025 have decreased since 2010. The cost forecast for gas has not changed, while for nuclear it has increased,” the NAO said. (4)
Onshore Wind Costs
In Europe onshore wind has become one of the most competitive sources of new electricity. Mott MacDonald estimated in 2011 that costs would fall to around £52-55/MWh by 2040 compared with £83-90/MWh in 2011. (5) But according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) new onshore windfarms were the cheapest way for a power company to produce electricity in Britain by 2015 with costs dropping to £55/MWh. (6) The trade body, Scottish Renewables, has shown that costs could be cut by a further 20% if government, industry and regulators work together to make sure we can use the latest generation of turbines on suitable sites, reduce grid charges, and deploy energy storage technologies. (7)
Sustainability expert, Chris Goodall, author of new book called “The Switch” (8), says cheap solar panels and advances in storage technology are about to transform the world. By 2030 or 2040 solar will be the cheapest way to generate electricity, indeed any form of energy EVERYWHERE. At the rate of growth that we are seeing at the moment of 35-45% per year solar will grow from providing 2% of global electricity to at least 50% by 2030. We can see the cost of batteries coming down in price dramatically. Turning surplus solar electricity generating during the summer into something we can put into natural gas networks is what we should be looking at in the UK. Generating hydrogen from water and, using microbes, combining it with carbon dioxide to form methane is the simplest way to do this. The era of fossil fuels is drawing to a close. (9)
Earlier this year DONG Energy of Denmark, the world’s largest offshore wind company, won a bid to build two wind farms 22 kilometres off the Dutch coast. The company says power will be produced for less than any other offshore scheme to date. It is estimated that when the scheme is fully operational, electricity will cost €72.70 per megawatt hour (MWh) and €87 MWh when transmission costs are included. (10)
At the time this was described as the cheapest offshore wind electricity in the world: “beyond even the most optimistic expectations in the market.” (11) Since then Swedish utility Vattenfall has agreed to build a giant offshore wind farm in Denmark that would sell power for €49.50 per MWh. Vattenfall has broken its own previous record of €60 per MWh.
Greenpeace has produced the chart below [on original] to show the cost of offshore wind power compared with the cost of Hinkley Point C. The UK’s cheapest offshore windfarm will produce power at roughly £120 per MWh, which is far more than the projects being built in Denmark and the Netherlands. Part of the reason for that is that those governments cover transmission costs, so in the name of fairness Greenpeace adds £25 per MWh. And then to address offshore wind’s intermittency, you’ve got to add another £7.6 per MWh — according to the UK government’s top climate advisers to cover the cost of the ‘balancing’the system. (12)
So we can see that the latest Vattenfall bid is coming in at £75.50/MWh compared with £100.50/MWh for Hinkley Point C. (The £92.50/MWh strike price agreed for Hinkley Point C was index-linked at 2012 prices so £8/MWh has been added to allow for inflation.)
Research out by sustainability expert, Chris Goodall, shows a business and government drive to promote switching of homes, street lights and offices to energy efficient LED light bulbs would see a huge reduction in the UK’s electricity demand for lighting – more than two Hinkley nuclear plants’ worth of electricity. Lighting is responsible for nearly a third (29%) of total winter peak electricity demand – a complete switch would halve that. Switching entirely to LEDs in homes will save about 2.7 GW of peak winter demand; street lighting 0.5 GW; offices and commercial buildings 4.5 GW.
An expenditure of about £62 in an average house, replacing about 21 of the bulbs in living areas would cut electricity bills by at least £24 per year. This could be done relatively quickly and the total cost of partially upgrading all UK homes to energy-efficient LED lights would be around £1.7 billion. The price of LED light bulbs is falling over time and they cost just £1.60 each at major retailers. Aside from saving money for the householder directly, the government would conservatively save £65 million per year on capacity market payments from this action in houses and more elsewhere in street lighting and commercial sector. (13)
There are good reasons for using investment in energy efficiency as a vehicle to stimulate the economy – the macroeconomic benefits of public energy efficiency programmes have been illustrated by economists time and time again. For instance Verco and Cambridge Econometrics estimate that if delivered as part of a major infrastructure investment programme for £1 invested by government £3.20 is returned through increased GDP resulting in increased employment of up to 108,000 net jobs per annum. A recent study by Frontier Economics calculates that an energy efficiency infrastructure programme could generate £8.7 billion of netbenefits to the economy.
We know from the German KfW loan scheme that public subsidies for energy efficiency are more than offset by the increase in tax revenues and savings in welfare spending due to lower unemployment. Now is the time to do this in the UK, according to Jan Resnow at the Science Policy Research Unit at Sussex University. The economic uncertainty caused by the Brexit vote will prevail for some time until Britain’s new status becomes clearer. At the same time, there will be no energy efficiency programme for the able-to-pay sector after 2017 and funds for fuel poverty alleviation are falling short of what is required to achieve the target. The economic evidence is clear – energy efficiency provides a golden opportunity for an economic stimulus in the UK. (14) http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/nuclearnews/NuClearNewsNo90.pdf
Sweden to scrap taxes on solar energy in 2017 http://www.france24.com/en/20161121-sweden-scrap-taxes-solar-energy-2017?ref=tw_i STOCKHOLM (AFP) – Sweden is set to ditch taxes on its production of solar energy in 2017 in a bid to run entirely on renewable energy by 2040, the government said on Monday.
Solar energy is currently marginal in the Nordic nation, accounting for less than 0.1 percent of electricity production. Sweden relies mostly on hydropower (39 percent) and nuclear power (36 percent). The finance ministry said in a statement that the production of solar electricity for own use would be entirely exempt from taxes. Electricity providers would meanwhile only be taxed 500 kronor (51 euros) per megawatt hour, which is a 98-percent reduction from the current level.
“This makes fast investments possible,” Social Democratic Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson said.
The proposal is likely to be adopted by parliament, with the centre-right opposition having criticised the minister for her lack of ambition with regards renewable energy investments.
The move must also be approved by the European Commission in Brussels, which aims to boost the EU’s share of renewable energy to at least 20 percent of consumption.
In October, the Swedish energy market regulator had estimated that in order to reach the target of 100 percent renewable energy, the share of solar electricity would have to rise to between five and 10 percent.
Solar-Panel Roads to Be Built on Four Continents Next Year, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-11-24/solar-panel-roads-to-be-built-across-four-continents-next-year Bloomberg, Anna Hirtenstein
Unit of Colas SA designed solar panels that embed into roads
Work progressing on larger test site in northern France
- Electric avenues that can transmit the sun’s energy onto power grids may be coming to a city near you.A subsidiary of Bouygues SA has designed rugged solar panels, capable of withstand the weight of an 18-wheeler truck, that they’re now building into road surfaces. After nearly five years of research and laboratory tests, they’re constructing 100 outdoor test sites and plan to commercialize the technology in early 2018.“We wanted to find a second life for a road,” said Philippe Harelle, the chief technology officer at Colas SA’s Wattway unit, owned by the French engineering group Bouygues. “Solar farms use land that could otherwise be for agriculture, while the roads are free.”
As solar costs plummet, panels are being increasingly integrated into everyday materials.
Last month Tesla Motors Inc. surprised investors
by unveiling roof shingles that double as solar panels. Other companies are integrating photovoltaics
into building facades. Wattway joins groups including Sweden’s Scania
and Solar Roadways
in the U.S. seeking to integrate panels onto pavement.
To resist the weight of traffic, Wattway layers several types of plastics to create a clear and durable casing. The solar panel underneath is an ordinary model, similar to panels on rooftops. The electrical wiring is embedded in the road and the contraption is topped by an anti-slip surface made from crushed glass.
A kilometer-sized testing site began construction last month in the French village of Tourouvre in Normandy. The 2,800 square meters of solar panels are expected to generate 280 kilowatts at peak, with the installation generating enough to power all the public lighting in a town of 5,000 for a year, according to the company.
For now, the cost of the materials makes only demonstration projects sensible. A square meter of the solar road currently costs 2,000 ($2,126) and 2,500 euros. That includes monitoring, data collection and installation costs. Wattway says it can make the price competitive with traditional solar farms by 2020.
The electricity generated by this stretch of solar road will feed directly into the grid. Another test site is being used to charge electric vehicles. A third will power a small hydrogen production plant. Wattway has also installed its panels to light electronic billboards and is working on links to street lights.The next two sites will be in Calgary in Canada and in the U.S. state of Georgia. Wattway also plans to build them in Africa, Japan and throughout the European Union.“We need to test for all kinds of different traffic and climate conditions,” Harelle said. “I want to find the limits of it. We think that maybe it will not be able to withstand a snow plow.”The potential fragility joins cost as a potential hurdle.“We’re seeing solar get integrated in a number of things, from windows in buildings to rooftops of cars, made possible by the falling cost of panels,” Bloomberg New Energy Finance analyst Pietro Radoia said. “On roads, I don’t think that it will really take off unless there’s a shortage of land sometime in the future.”’
Unlike many other developing countries, around 99% of all Chinese households already have access to the grid.
Solar PV can help China’s poorest, China Dialogue Suzanne Fisher Murray 23.11.2016 中文版本 In Anhui villages are hooking up to the grid to generate income and power, writes Suzanne Fisher-Murray The residents of Yuexi county, a mountainous area in eastern China, must have thought it was their lucky day when they heard they had been selected for China’s new solar poverty alleviation project.
The 382,000 residents are some of the poorest in the country, living below the poverty line of 2,300 yuan (about US$1 per day). This was the key criteria for their selection in the project, which is part of China’s 13th Five-Year-Plan, the roadmap for the nation’s development from 2016 to 2020.
In 2015, President Xi Jinping announced the Chinese government would eradicate poverty in China by 2020, which requires targeting the country’s 70 million people living below the poverty line. In April, 2015, China’s National Energy Administration released a plan to use solar photovoltaics (PV) to increase the income of 200 million Chinese households within 16 provinces and 271 counties.
The project is being piloted in Yuexi county, Anhui province before being rolled out across the country. Villagers identified as living below the poverty line will have rooftop solar panels rated at 3-5 kilowatts installed on their roofs and become shareholders in village solar power stations with a generating capacity of around 60-100 kilowatts. The aim is for the solar panels to earn each family 3,000 yuan (around US$430) in extra income each year. Local farmers could also earn additional income by leasing out non-arable lands or maintaining the solar farms.
So far, 182 villages (with 30,000 residents) in the county have been identified as eligible for the project. Construction has begun at a staggering pace: 57 solar parks were built in 2015, with the remaining 125 expected to be finished this year.
Unlike many other developing countries, around 99% of all Chinese households already have access to the grid.
Each household will use the solar electricity generated for their own purposes. This will reduce energy bills and any surplus electricity will be sold back to the grid. Families will also have shared ownership of the solar parks, splitting 40% of the profits between them, with the remaining 60% going to pay back loans and park construction fees. This means that once the solar panels are installed, households and villagers could begin to see the benefits quickly.“It will take more time before we know the impact of the project,” warned Yixiong Kang from China Carbon Futures Asset Management Company, which is overseeing the financial and technical aspects of the project.
“But it could have a huge impact. We are talking about the poorest families. They basically have nothing in their houses that use electricity [because they can’t afford to pay the bills].” The extra income they’ll earn could change that. “If you want to change the living standards of people, sometimes it’s not enough to just give them electricity. Electricity – that’s just a power supply. They need greater help,” he added.
Aside from the direct profits, the villagers would also likely benefit from subsidies paid to solar generation projects in China. The rates are set to go down in 2017 due to a solar power generation surplus, but, if paid, will also help increase the villagers’ profits. The village level solar stations will also be part of a Chinese emissions trading programme which is currently being established. The village solar stations that have certified emissions reductions certificates could trade 1000 kWh of their clean energy to replace one tonne of carbon dioxide emissions on the carbon trading scheme.
http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2016/11/10/how-solar-is-changing-the-climate-game November 10, 2016
- Thanks to plummeting unit costs, solar energy will be a crucial source of power for many countries working to meet their climate objectives by 2030.
- Projects like Morocco’s Noor-Ouarzazate solar power plant, a $625 million solar rooftop project in India and a recent record solar auction in Zambia underscore how solar is being embraced rapidly as the energy of the future.
- Multilateral development banks like the World Bank Group (WBG) can help client countries develop their solar resources, make projects less risky, provide access to low-cost capital for power plants and improve transmission and distribution infrastructure.
Washington, Nov. 10, 2016 – Once a distant possibility, solar power is a game changer for developing countries that are swiftly embracing this clean, renewable source of energy to close their electricity access gaps and meet climate change mitigation goals.
Just the past year is a clear sign of that shift.
For the first time, renewable sources of energy have overtaken coal in terms of cumulative installed power capacity in the world. In 2015, an all-time record 153 gigawatts (GW) of capacity was added through renewables, with photovoltaic solar – which includes mini-grids and rooftop solar systems – accounting for nearly a third (49 GW) of the addition, according to the International Energy Agency. In other words, about half a million solar panels were installed every day around the world last year.
That number is growing. In fact, global electricity capacity from renewable sources of energy is projected to increase by 42 percent, or 825 GW, by 2021, with solar power expected to play a major role in reaching that goal.
Morocco, where climate experts and policymakers from around the world are gathered this week for COP22, is a prime example of this transformation. Earlier this year, the Moroccan king inaugurated the first facility of the largest concentrated solar power (CSP) complex in the world with support from the World Bank, the Climate Investment Funds (CIF) and other partners. Once it is fully operational, the plant will produce enough energy for more than one million Moroccan households.
The North African country is not alone in the shift to solar, which is helping developing countries reduce their reliance on conventional fuels like coal and oil, and boost the share of renewables in their energy mix.
There is strong political will to seize the moment, especially with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change now in force.
Take the International Solar Alliance, for example. In June, the WBG signed an agreement with the alliance, consisting of 121 countries led by India to collaborate on increasing solar energy use around the world and helping the alliance mobilize $1 trillion in solar investments by 2030.
Seeing the potential of solar in India, the World Bank also pledged $1 billion in planned initiatives to help the South Asian country take sustainable, clean, climate-friendly electricity to millions of its people. This includes a $625 million projectapproved in June to install solar panels on rooftops around the country, supported by a $125 million co-financing loan from the CIF.
In neighboring Bangladesh, 18 million people now have access to electricity thanks to solar home systems that were installed as part of a World Bank project. In the country’s remote islands like Monpura, where extending the electricity grid would be impossible, standalone solar mini-grids are powering up entire communities and businesses, like that of welder Abdulrahim Hawlader.
Previously dependent on a diesel generator, Hawlader says solar power has transformed his business and boosted his income.
“We just turn on the switch and it (machinery) works,” he said. “Because of lower costs, we are making more profits.”
In Bolivia, families that live in remote areas without access to the power grid are turning to solar home systems to meet their electricity needs.
The expansion of off-grid lighting products and services have provided more than 26 million people access to modern energy services through the WBG’s Lighting Global, Lighting Africa, Lighting Asia and Lighting Pacific programs.
And in some countries where private investors hesitate to enter because of perceived risks, the WBG’s Scaling Solar program facilitates competitive auctions and offers standardized documents, financial guarantees and pre-approved financing to alleviate investors’ concerns and make these markets more attractive.
A recent auction in Zambia organized by Scaling Solar set record low prices of 6 cents a kilowatt hour for solar power generation, the lowest to date in Africa and among the lowest recorded globally. It paves the way to take electricity to thousands of Zambians in desperate need.
The applications of solar technology seem boundless. A solar plane recently made history after making a trip around the world entirely on solar power, without using any aviation fuel. An airport in Cochin, India became the world’s first of its kind to be powered fully by solar energy, followed by another in South Africa. Worldwide, companies are producing slick, new designs for solar roofs, windows and even floating solar panels to harness the sun’s power.
A confluence of favorable market forces, including cheaper-than-ever prices and technology, have encouraged the take-up of solar by private investors and countries alike. Solar PV costs have dropped nearly 60 percent since 2010 and are as low as 6 to 8 cents per kilowatt hour today, according to IRENA. They are projected to fall a further 60 percent in the next decade.
Under the WBG’s Climate Change Action Plan, $25 billion in private financing will be mobilized for clean energy in developing countries over the next five years, with another 30 gigawatts of renewable energy added either through direct investment or investments in enabling infrastructure by 2020.
Projects are already under consideration in many countries with WBG support focused on access to the right combination of financing, and technical and advisory expertise to help them succeed with their solar objectives and break down existing barriers.
These barriers include the lack of adequate transmission and distribution infrastructure, absence of affordable and effective storage solutions, weak enabling environments (including a lack of solar-friendly policies and regulation) and high upfront capital costs. A universal uptake of solar power is also nearly impossible without private investment in the sector.
The WBG is working to increase private interest in markets where investors may have otherwise hesitated to enter on their own, with a suite of financial guarantees and instruments and help on technical, policy and regulatory aspects – all designed to strengthen confidence and draw investment in solar technology well into the future.
In last minute dash, Obama administration pushes global clean energy initiatives http://www.utilitydive.com/news/in-last-minute-dash-obama-administration-pushes-global-clean-energy-initia/430430/Robert Walton @TeamWetDog
- The Obama administration has announced a broad range of global clean energy initiatives and investments, including financing in India and El Salvador, off-grid grants in Africa and a new report on the market for access to efficient appliances.
- The slate of announcements includes committing $125 million in financing for renewable energy projects through the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.
- The funding is a small drop compared to the $11 billion the United States has invested from 2010-2015 alone in international clean energy finance, according to the Department of Energy.
While President-elect Trump’s looming presidency has worried many over the future of the clean energy technology, the Obama administration is not slowing down on global decarbonization goals.
The White House continues its progressive moves on energy efficiency, global clean energy and decarbonization, last week issuing a lengthy overview of new initiatives. Among them:
- A partnership between the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Department of State and the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory to identify “a pipeline of clean energy entrepreneurs in developing countries.”
- Providing $4 million in awards to eight household solar firms under the Power Africa Scaling Off Grid Grand Challenge, totaling a $36 million investment to empower entrepreneurs and investors in sub-Saharan Africa.
- Announcing more than $11 million raised for the deployment of efficient off-grid technologies globally through the Efficiency for Access Coalition;
- Launching a partnership to bring more efficient appliances tor rural Indian villages; and
- And supporting the first Solar Decathlon competition in Africa.
The USAID-State partnership with the National Laboratories aims to expand the geographic reach of the next annual Industry Growth Forum in April 2017. “This is one of the nation’s premier clean energy investment event to connect early stage companies with capital,” the White House said.So far, companies participating in the NREL Growth Forum have raised over $5 billion in financing.
Last week, the White House also released a report detailing the status of global markets for off-grid energy and the U.S. government’s role in developing those markets. In the past decade, the market has “grown exponentially” to give millions access to basic energy services.
According to the report, worldwide there are over 20 million households powered by solar home systems, and another 6 million are connected to renewables-based mini-grids or small wind turbines.
Florida’s Amendment 1 defeat shows why solar won’t be stopped, Trump or no Trump, http://www.utilitydive.com/news/floridas-amendment-1-defeat-shows-why-solar-wont-be-stopped-trump-or-no/430373/14 Nov 16, David Pomerantz, executive director of the Energy and Policy Institute, wants utilities to ‘co-thrive’ with DERs.
Americans who are concerned about climate change are shell-shocked over the election of Donald Trump, who has claimed climate change was a hoax created by China and promised to end federal support for clean energy, neuter the EPA, and kill the Paris agreement.
If Trump follows through on these threats, it will cause irreversible damage. But an election result buried by the chaos of Tuesday night offers a thin silver lining to the dark clouds gathering on the climate horizon: the surprise defeat of a deceptive ballot initiative in Florida called “Amendment 1.”
Amendment 1’s defeat offers a road map for how to keep the clean energy economy growing under a Trump presidency: turn to the states. During the George W. Bush years, wind and solar power grew rapidly, despite federal hostility, thanks to supportive policies in both red and blue states. That’s not surprising, as Americans across the political spectrum, then and now, overwhelmingly support clean energy. A President Trump can’t block that progress, but another obstacle can: electric utilities.
Utilities profit when they build more power plants and transmission lines, which they can only do if people buy more electricity. Distributed solar threatens that outdated business model by offering people the choice of making their own power, so utilities have waged war on rooftop solar, and Amendment 1 revealed their battle plan:
Instead, they advocate for “smart solar” and “solar done right” – code for large solar farms that utilities own, not customers. But it’s a ruse; Duke Energy told Florida regulators that it planned to generate a mere 2.2% of its power from solar energy in 2025, and FPL reports that it will be 1% solar in that year. Duke and FPL are instead investing heavily in gas, as are many other utilities.
Florida voters proved that they wouldn’t be fooled. The utilities’ “pro-solar” message crumbled after the Energy and Policy Institute and the Center for Media and Democracy released an audio recordingconfirming Amendment 1 was a “political jiu-jitsu” campaign designed to trick pro-solar voters. Once the truth was out, support cratered.
Second, utilities try to divide environmentalists from low-income advocates and communities of color, using front groups to argue that rooftop solar is only for the rich, who “shift the costs” to poor people. It’s more deception: a host of studies have shown that the benefits that rooftop solar customers provide to the wider grid outweigh the costs.
Low-income communities and communities of color are refusing to be pawns in the utilities’ game. Black and Latino leaders spoke out against Amendment 1, noting that they want policies that result in more solar for their communities, not less. The NAACP nationally has been a forceful advocate for rooftop solar power, and polls show that communities of color support clean energy at the highest rates of all Americans.
Last, utilities use their financial might to buy political power. In addition to the $20 million that Florida’s utilities spent backing Amendment 1, they spent another $9.3 million on campaign contributions to legislators this cycle. Utilities’ influence peddling will never go away, but the pro-solar movement is learning to counter it via grassroots organizing, as it did effectively in Florida.
If other utilities follow their Florida brethren’s game plan, they too will unite their opponents into broad movements against them, and politically sensitive regulators will take notice. FPL’s war on solar power is already having this effect. Regulators in Hawaii, rightfully skeptical of FPL’s record of blocking solar in Florida, rejected its parent company NextEra’s bid to buy Hawaii’s electric utility. In Texas, where NextEra wants to buy Oncor, regulators are expressing their own concerns.
Nevadans – many still outraged at NV Energy’s hostility toward rooftop solar in the net metering battle there – voted Tuesday to strip the utility of its monopoly status.
These results should send a loud alarm to utilities and their investors that every attack they launch at rooftop solar will boomerang to erode their customers’ trust and weaken their standing with regulators.
There is only one way out of the jam for utilities: they have to adapt their business models and find ways to co-thrive with distributed resources. Some are trying to do that, albeit at the behest of regulators, but most seem intent on wasting time fighting a war they are destined to lose. Customers are demanding solar, the market forces behind solar cannot be stopped, and a Trump presidency will not change those facts.
Why the Future Belongs to Decentralized Renewables, Not Centralized Hydrogen and Giga-Scale Nuclear November 18, 2016 by Energy Post
“……….Let me develop the real reasons why conventional renewables are likely to emerge as the dominant primary energy sources in the first half of the
21st century. The fundamental advantages of renewables, as revealed by practical experience in China as well as in industrialised countries like Germany where an energy transformation is well under way, are these.As they scale renewable energies do not present greater and greater hazards. Instead they are relatively benign technologies, without serious riskThey are clean
(low to zero-carbon); they are non-polluting
(important in China and India with their high levels of particulate pollution derived from coal); they tap into inexhaustible
energy sources; and they have close-to-zero running costs
since they do not need fuel. They are also diffuse
, which should be viewed as an advantage, since this means that renewable sources are decentralised
, and can be harvested by both large and by small operations. So they are eminently practicable
Some advantages of renewables are not at all obvious and need to be made explicit. Fundamentally, they are scalable. They can be built in modular fashion – one solar panel, 100 solar panels, 1000 solar panels. As they are replicated in this fashion so their power ratings continue to rise, without complexity cutting back on efficiency. This cannot be said of nuclear reactors, which have an optimal operational size – below which or above which the plant under-performs.
Moreover as they scale they do not present greater and greater hazards. Instead they are relatively benign technologies, without serious risks.
When they use hazardous materials, such as the cadmium in Cd-Te solar, the solution would be to recycle materials in order to minimise the use and waste of virgin materials.
Most importantly, the superiority of conventional renewables lies in their cost reduction trends which are linked to the fact that they are always the products of manufacturing – and mass production manufacturing, where economies of scale really play a role. This means that they offer genuine energy security in so far as manufacturing can in principle be conducted anywhere. There are no geopolitical pressures stemming from accidents of chance where one country has deposits of a fossil fuel but another does not. Manufactured devices promise an end to the era in which energy security remains closely tied to geopolitics and the projection of armed force. As Hao Tan and I put it in our article published in Nature, manufacturing renewables provides the key to energy security.
Manufacturing is characterised by improving efficiencies as experience is accumulated – with consequent cost reductions captured in the learning or experience curve. Manufacturing generates increasing returns; it can be a source of rising incomes and wealth without imposing further stresses on the earth. Add to these advantages that renewables promise economic advantages of the first importance: they offer rural employment as well as urban employment in manufacturing industry; they offer an innovative and competitive energy sector; and they offer export platforms for the future.
The real driver of the renewable energy revolution is not government policy, or business risk-taking, or consumer demand. It is, quite simply, the reduction of costs
This is to list the advantages of renewables without even mentioning their low and diminishing carbon emissions. Indeed they offer the only real long-term solution to the problem of cleaning up energy systems.
With all these advantages, it is little wonder that China and now India are throwing so much effort into building renewable energy systems at scale. These are not exercises undertaken for ethical or aesthetic purposes, but as national development strategies of the highest priority.
So the real driver of the renewable energy revolution is not government policy, or business risk-taking, or consumer demand. It is, quite simply, the reduction of costs – to the point where renewables are bringing down costs of generating power to be comparable with the use of traditional fossil fuels, and with the promise of reducing these costs further still. Supergrids are also being promoted for renewables, but these are very different conceptions, based on integrating numerous fluctuating sources in IT-empowered grids, offering the same practicable, scalable and replicable energy future.
Against these advantages, the obstacles regularly cited are small indeed. There is the fluctuating nature of renewables, which can be addressed by various forms of systems integration (smart grids, demand response) and of course through energy storage, which is moving into the same kind of cost reduction learning curve that has characterised solar and wind power, promising rapid diffusion of both commercial and domestic energy storage units. With rapidly falling costs of storage providing the buffer that can even out fluctuating levels of generation, there is no further serious argument against renewables……..
by John Mathews
This article is based on a scientific paper by John A. Mathews, Competing principles driving energy futures: Fossil fuel decarbonization vs. manufacturing learning curves, which was published in Futures in November 2016 (.http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0016328715300227)
John Mathews is author of the Greening of Capitalism: How Asia is Driving the Next Great Transformation”, published by Stanford University Press: http://www.sup.org/books/title/?id=24288. His latest book, “China’s Renewable Energy Revolution” (co-authored with Hao Tan) was published by Palgrave Pivot in September 2015: http://www.palgrave.com/page/detail/chinas-energy-revolution-john-a-mathews/?isb=9781137546241.
See his author’s archive on Energy Post.
Solar And Wind Versus Nuclear: Is Baseload Power Obsolete? Planet Save November 20th, 2016 by Stephen Hanley. The future of electrical energy is playing out in South Africa, where 80% of all electricity is generated by burning coal. The government is anxious to shutter all those coal fired plants but is caught in a crossfire between advocates for nuclear power and those who favor renewable solutions like solar and wind energy.
South Africa is the most advanced economy in sub-Saharan Africa. Until 2008, its electrical power came from coal fired generating stations and one nuclear power plant. Starting in 2008, the country ran short of electricity due to poor infrastructure planning, That’s when crippling rolling blackouts began. Desperate for more electrical capacity, the government started a campaign to lure investment in wind and solar power. By June of this year, 102 renewable energy projects worth $14.4 billion had been completed.
Renewable Strategy Successful
“The program has been very successful, clear of any corruption and very well run,” said Wikus van Niekerk, the director of the Center for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies at Stellenbosch University. “It’s been seen by many people in the rest of the world as one of the most successful procurement programs for renewable energy. It’s something that the South African government and public should be proud about.”
Several of those projects are concentrated solar facilities located near Upington in the central part of the country. That area has some of the most abundant daily sunshine of any place on earth. But those facilities use technology that is now almost obsolete. They use mirrors to concentrate sunlight to boil water to make steam.
After the sun goes down, they can continue to make electricity from the steam on hand for a few hours. After that, they have to wait for the sun to reappear the next day. Newer concentrated solar plants use the sun’s rays to heat molten salt, which can be kept in storage for up to 10 hours after the sun sets and used to keep the steam turbines spinning. Researchers in Spain say using molten silicon can store up to ten times as much energy as molten salt……….
Is Baseload Power An Outmoded Concept?
“The concept of baseload is actually an outdated concept,” said Harald Winkler, the director of the Energy Research Center at the University of Cape Town. “Eskom was built around big coal and to a lesser extent big nuclear — big chunks of base load power. It’s really myopic in terms of where the future of the grid is going to go. We’re going to see in South Africa and the rest of the world much more decentralized grids.”
Distributed Vs. Centralized Power
Ahhh, there is in a nutshell. The same fears that drive established utility companies in the United States. Europe, and Australia apply in South Africa. Utility companies think in terms of centralized grids. Renewables coupled with efficient, cost effective energy storage make grids virtually obsolete. Utility companies are petrified they may become irrelevant and the trillions of dollars invested in building grids throughout the world will stop producing income.
Businesses in South African cities are increasingly installing solar panels and going off the grid. Elsewhere in Africa, it is now common to see villagers connecting cellphones to single solar panels outside mud brick homes.
Opposition to South Africa’s nuclear plans is also coming from the government’s main research agency, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. It says an expansion of solar and wind energy, in addition to natural gas, could meet South Africa’s future energy needs for less money. “No new coal, no new nuclear,” said Tobias BischofNiemz, who leads the
council’s research on energy. “South Africa is in a very fortunate situation where we can decarbonize our energy system at negative cost.”……..
Nuclear power relies completely on a centralized grid. Building grid infrastructure — transmission lines and substations — costs as much or more as a building generating facilities themselves. That’s why localized renewable power provides the most amount of electricity per dollar invested. http://planetsave.com/2016/11/20/solar-wind-versus-nuclear-baseload-obsolete/
Texas City Moves To 100 Percent Renewable Energy Spurred By Federal Plan That New Administration Is Expected To Spurn, Fronteras, By Lorne Matalon November 17, 2016 GEORGETOWN, Texas — Donald Trump’s victory and the impending Republican majority in Congress means the Obama administration’s initiative to cut greenhouse gas emissions, the Clean Power Plan, is almost certainly in jeopardy.
The plan is currently before a federal appeals court, under challenge by 24 states. But the new administration is expected to spike the plan before the court rules.
One conservative Texas city has decided to do what the plan was meant to help promote. It’s going 100 percent renewable, wind and solar, in a state largely defined by oil and gas.
There are environmental benefits to the switch, but the decision is all about the money.
In the central Texas city of Georgetown, the droning sound of natural gas powered industrial air conditioning represents unpredictability. Natural gas prices are low now, but historically that market fluctuates.
This city of 55,000 is on the cusp of joining Burlington, Vermont, population 42,000, as the country’s only sizable cities buying 100 percent power from renewable energy. Liberal Burlington is a far cry ideologically from fiercely conservative Georgetown. But they’re fellow travelers in energy.
“So we begin the conversations of what the future might look like,” said Georgetown’s utility chief Jim Briggs.
The city had been buying power from a utility that was expanding its coal-fired power plants. But when the Obama administration began pushing back against new coal plants, Briggs decided to go all green. And it had nothing to do with the environment.
“It was regulation and legislation coming out of Washington,” he said. Then there was the money. “We wanted the least risk, most cost effective option we could get for the community.”
In Texas, the country’s leading wind generation state, wind is now competitive with fossil fuels. But unlike oil and gas, costs don’t fluctuate.
Fred Beach, assistant director for energy and technology policy at University of Texas at Austin’s Energy Institute, explained the economics of renewables.
“You’re locking in that rate and ten years from now, wind and solar many be even less yet,” Beach said. “But if you’re happy with locking in today’s rate for the next 20 years with certainty, that’s an unbelievably powerful hedging opportunity.”
Now Briggs can tell customers, both businesses and residential, about that hedge, about a price that’s fixed……..
Wind is economical here because the state has invested in transmission lines to bring wind power from sparsely populated west Texas to cities like Georgetown in the center of the state.
History’s full of examples of sending resources across large distances, from Roman Empire aqueducts to the Hoover Dam. The dam sends power from Lake Mead on the Arizona-Nevada border to Los Angeles.
Texas has taken a page from that playbook, deploying $7 billion of taxpayer money on those transmission lines.
“We’ve done this kind off stuff in the past but now it’s like, oh well, you’re doing that for environmental reasons, you’re doing it for tree-hugger reasons,” Beach said. But now there’s a strong economic rationale. “It’s not going to cost more tomorrow, or five years or 10 years from now, we’ll lock it for 20 years.”
The city will be powered exclusively by wind and/or solar in 2017 said Chris Foster, Georgetown’s Manager of Resource Planning and Integration.
“As you add more renewables to the grid, eventually those renewable plants get paid off. And once they’re done being paid off, they have an operating margin of almost zero,” Foster said. “So if you can own these assets super longterm, you see the cost of power should be continuing to decline.” http://www.fronterasdesk.org/content/10488/texas-city-moves-100-percent-renewable-energy-spurred-federal-plan-new-administration
No One Saw Tesla’s Solar Roof Coming Elon Musk just showed us the grand unification of Tesla: Fast cars, big batteries, and a stunning solar rooftop. Bloomberg, Tom Randall October 31, 2016 “…….. This is the future of solar, Musk proclaimed. “You’ll want to call your neighbors over and say ‘check out the sweet roof.’ It’s not a phrase you hear often.”
The roof tiles are actually made of textured glass. From most viewing angles, they look just like ordinary shingles, but they allow light to pass through from above onto a standard flat solar cell. The plan is for Panasonic to produce the solar cells and for Tesla to put together the glass tiles and everything that goes along with them. That’s all predicated on shareholders approving the $2.2 billion acquisition of SolarCity, the biggest U.S. rooftop installer, on Nov. 17.
Tesla says the tempered glass is “tough as steel,” and can weather a lifetime of abuse from the elements. It can also be fitted with heating elements to melt snow in colder climates. “It’s never going to wear out,” Musk said, “It’s made of quartz. It has a quasi-infinite lifetime.”
In a Q&A with reporters after the presentation, Musk said the tiles are comparable to competing high-efficiency solar panels. The current prototypes that Tesla engineers are working with reduce the efficiency of the underlying solar cell by just 2 percent. With further refinement, Musk said he hopes the microscopic louvers responsible for making the tiles appear opaque can be used to actually boost the efficiency of standard photovoltaic cells.
Putting the pieces together
The vision presented at Universal Studios in Los Angeles is the grand unification of Musk’s clean-energy ambitions. The audience was able to step into a future powered entirely by Tesla: a house topped with sculpted Tuscan solar tiles, where night-time electricity is stored in two sleek wall-hung Powerwall batteries, and where a Model 3 prototype electric car sits parked out front within reach of the home’s car charger.
Attracting less attention on Wisteria Lane was Tesla’s Powerwall 2, a major upgrade of its home battery for electricity storage. …Version 2 is a much different product. It packs more than twice the capacity—14 kilowatt hours versus 6.4 kilowatt hours—for a cheaper price after installation. It includes a built-in Tesla-brand inverter and comes with a ten year, infinite-cycle warranty. ……https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-10-31/no-one-saw-tesla-s-solar-roof-coming?cmpid=google
20GW by 2025: Behind Taiwan’s big solar numbers, PV Tech Nov 02, 2016 By Tom Kenning Nuclear reactors approaching end-of-life, a sound PV manufacturing industry and a robust legal system all make a strong case for solar PV to muscle into Taiwan’s energy mix. A new government set the tone for renewables integration by setting a target of 20GW solar by 2025 last year, but this is one of the most densely populated countries on earth, with two thirds of the island covered in steep mountainous forest and national parks; where the city ends the mountains begin. Moreover, a list of unique geographical and cultural challenges to PV development is topped off by the looming threat of some of the most gruelling typhoons in all Asia.
The capital city Taipei, to the north of the island, where population is most concentrated, also happens to have the poorest irradiation. Meanwhile, if solar deployment is concentrated in the more favourable conditions of the south, transmission infrastructure is limited. An island population of more than 23 million needs a solid agricultural industry, so the government has had to focus on releasing uncultivable land for solar, which is again in short supply. Even floating solar is being promoted in an attempt to alleviate these land constrictions. However, with many more hurdles for solar developers ahead, the proximity of Japan and the fallout over Fukushima means the appetite for nuclear has been quashed. New forms of energy are the priority.
As the Taiwan government prepares to finalise details of how its target will be met, PV Tech examines some of the huge numbers being proposed and what it will take to realise them. The government has shown clear support for its clean energy transition with Chen Chien-Jen, vice president of the Republic of China (Taiwan), speaking at the opening ceremony of the PV Tawain exhibition in Taipei this year. He cited the need for more energy independence while reiterating plans to phase out nuclear by 2025 through focusing on solar and off-shore wind.
He said: “Taiwan has great resources and is in a good positon to develop PV and green energy.”
According to the green energy policy released in 2015 by the Bureau of Energy, Ministry of Economic Affairs, the plan is to have 20% of Taiwan’s energy mix coming from renewables by 2025. With all the island’s constraints, it would make sense to concentrate on the highest efficiency solar modules to make the most of every hectare of land used. As it happens, Taiwanese cell manufacturers have tended to produce some of the highest efficiency cells across the globe. It has roughly 2GW annual capacity of the higher efficiency cells, which would translate into the 2GW per year necessary over ten years to reach the domestic 20GW target.
It is no wonder then that Taiwan’s new feed-in tariff (FiT) is bias towards higher efficiency solar modules by offering a higher reward.
It may also be the reason that several Taiwanese cell manufacturers including Neo Solar Power (NSP) and AU Optronics have started to focus on vertical integration, as discussed by Solar Intelligence’s Finlay Colville in his two-part blog on upstream trends from PV Taiwan. For example, Alex Wen, senior vice president, NSP, tells PV Tech that with cell prices dropping as much as 33% in a period of just three months, the firm is increasing its module manufacturing as well as investing in solar PV projects to raise cash. Proximity to the sea and floating solar opportunities are also driving innovation in modules, with NSP due to release a double-glass module that benefits from water reflection.
PV Tech has already detailed how the landscape for solar in Taiwan is changing, but having canvassed industry members at PV Taiwan, here we go into more detail:
The numbers……… http://www.pv-tech.org/features/20gw-by-2025-behind-taiwans-big-solar-numbers?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter
Renewable Energy: India to Replace Coal with Cheaper Solar Power by 2022 http://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/30601/20161024/renewable-thinking-india-replace-coal-cheaper-solar-power-2022.htm by Monica Antonio Oct 24, 2016 India is taking the lead in creating a country powered by renewable energy by replacing expensive imported coal with affordable solar power in just six years’ time. But how will they do it? According to a report from Eco Business, India is aiming to alleviate poverty by providing the entire population with cheap electricity while, at the same time, not contributing to global warming by turning its back on fossil fuels and fully embracing solar energy.
An Alarming Dependency on Fossil Fuels
A 2016 BP Energy Outlook report
showed alarming numbers on India’s energy consumption if it continues to depend on fossil fuels. The report says that by the year 2035, India’s gas import will increase by a staggering 573 percent, oil import by 169 percent and coal import by 85 percent.
The report says the key drivers in the rising demand for energy in the future are population growth and the doubling of GDP.
Turning Its Back on Fossil Fuels As a solution to the ballooning of energy consumption, India’s government has recently updated its National Solar Mission Target. By the year 2022, the country aims to achieve 175 GW of renewable power, including 100 GW of solar power. This means that India’s capacity for renewable energy needs to be seven times bigger, from 3 GW to 20 GW per year.
However, a big feat as it may seem, this new focus on renewable energy will benefit 600 million people with electricity by 2040. Ajay Goel, president of solar and chief of new businesses at ReNew Power said,”Especially for the 400 million Indians who have no access to electricity, solar power would mean access to clean and affordable energy.”
Is a Solar-Powered India Possible?
According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, if India manages to create photovoltaic ground-mounted systems, the country will have an energy source that’s more affordable than imported coal. By using the levelised cost of energy (LCOE), the outlet notes that in the future, solar energy will be more economic than using coal.
Apart from giving access to cheap electricity, solar energy will also provide livelihood and “generate more than 675,000 jobs in the Indian solar industry,” Goel notes.