Desert farm grows 180,000 tomato plants using only sun and seawater http://www.mnn.com/your-home/organic-farming-gardening/stories/desert-farm-grows-180000-tomato-plants-using-only-sun-and-seawater
Farms that grow food in arid deserts, without groundwater or fossil fuels, could be the future of agriculture. BRYAN NELSON October 10, 2016, No soil, no pesticides, no fossil fuels, and no groundwater. And yet, a thriving farm in the heart of the arid Australian desert. How is this possible?
EarthSpark International has built a 93-kilowatt solar-powered microgrid in the small town of Les Anglais (pop. 3,000 in the “downtown” area), which currently supplies clean reliable power to about 2,000 people.
Why a microgrid?
Haiti has more than 30 existing municipal microgrids, but most don’t work. Even when they do function, they run on diesel and operate just a few hours a day, a few days a week. So EarthSpark’s goal was to provide people with 24-hour clean, affordable electricity.
EarthSpark began working in Haiti providing people with small solar home systems and solar lanterns, products that are life-changing tools for people without access to grid electricity. But the organization soon realized that those aren’t the solutions to which everyone aspires. “To truly unlock economic opportunity, people need access to higher levels of electricity than what a solar home system can provide,” Allison Archambault, president of EarthSpark International, told RMI.
“With the right conditions, minigrids can provide energy services in a low-cost sweet spot between small levels of energy consumption that can be effectively served by small stand-alone solar systems and traditional grid extension,” said Eric Wanless, a principal in RMI’s international practice leading the Sustainable Energy for Economic Development initiative.
EarthSpark isn’t the only group focusing on microgrids. Husk Power has brought electricity to 200,000 people in the highly unelectrified state of Bihar in India, using rice husks to fuel microgrids; Powerhive, Devergy and PowerGen are bringing power to East Africa with solar microgrids; and Gham Power is building solar microgrids in rural Nepal.
A microgrid can give residences and businesses enough power to run motors, process agricultural products and power freezers. Plus, much of the electricity used by rural industry is seasonal, such as an agricultural mill, which is used during harvest season and on market days.
“Building an energy system just for that mill would mean an asset that is underutilized much of the time,” said Archambault. “But with a microgrid, you can use that capacity for other uses, and everyone buys down the cost for everyone else. We like to say our system is powerful enough to energize industry, and progressive enough to serve every single customer.”
Tackling technical challenges………
Overcoming logistical challenges
Working in developing countries such as Haiti brings a lot of logistical challenges as well. There is often not a clear process for implementing innovative projects…….
Confronting legal and regulatory challenges
One of the biggest challenges comes in the legal and regulatory framework in Haiti, or lack thereof. ………
Promoting economic development
Residents of Les Anglais not only have access to reliable power 24 hours a day, but are also saving money on their energy expenses. Before the microgrid, they were spending about $10 to $12 each month for kerosene and spending $3 to $4 each month to charge phones (at nearly $0.25 per charge). Now residential microgrid customers are saving 80 percent of their household energy budget, paying about $2 to $3 per month for much better quality power. And EarthSpark’s larger business customers are saving 50 percent over what they were spending on diesel.
EarthSpark’s goal is to build 80 microgrids in the next five years, bringing power to over 200,000 people, a small dent in the 7 million Haitians still living without access to electricity. But for those 200,000 people, it’s a game changer.
“We have small enterprises using electricity for the first time, people starting new businesses. The carpenter now has power tools. The hotel and the mill have been able to drastically reduce their power bills, by switching off their big diesel generators. And people come up to me and tell me their children no longer have the smoke of kerosene burn their eyes when they’re studying,” said Archambault. EarthSpark’s project in Haiti and RMI’s work in sub-Saharan Africa are delivering clean reliable electricity to people and unlocking huge opportunities for rural communities around the world. https://www.greenbiz.com/article/changing-lives-solar-microgrids
SaskPower says solar plan to power up to 12,000 homes by 2021
Crown says between 10,000-12,000 Sask. homes will run on solar power within 5 years CBC News 22, 2016 SaskPower says between 10,000-12,000 homes in Saskatchewan will be run on solar power by 2021, from a project aiming to deliver 60 megawatts. Some of that electricity should be reaching the grid by 2018.
The government’s target is to have 50 per cent of its power delivered by renewable sources by 2030.
- Saskatchewan aims to get half its power from renewable energy by 2030
- SaskPower to use wind, solar, geothermal to hit 50% renewable mark by 2030
“So if we think about it, 2000 megawatts would be about fifty per cent of our mix today,” said Guy Bruce, SaskPower’s Vice President of Planning, Environment and Sustainable development. “So it’s a relatively small percentage, but it’s a move in the right direction.”
Three types of solar power providers
The 60-megawatt plan is divided into three types of providers. Twenty megawatts are expected to be provided by community projects, and another 20 from a competitive bidding process with vendors due to begin in September. SaskPower says it’s currently in negotiations with the First Nations Power Authority to provide two more 10-megawatt solar projects. ………http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/saskpower-solar-plan-2021-1.3774119
This Cheap, Portable Solar Panel Will Be the iPad of Renewables by Good News Network – Sep 24, 2016 A California-based startup unveiled a product this week that aims to disrupt solar power production, much like the iPhone changed communications.
SunCulture Solar Inc. is calling its wire-free SolPad, which resembles a large iPad, the “world’s first integrated solar energy solution.”
It combines batteries, software, inverters and solar panels into one device. Typically, a solar system involves installation of separate parts, increasing costs. SolPad can be used off grid or tied to the grid, and uses batteries that the company says are safer than traditional lithium-ion ones.
”If the grid goes down, SolPad can keep delivering electricity,” the company said in a video unveiling the device in California this week.
“We’ve transformed solar — much like the smartphone revolutionized the personal computer sector, combining numerous components into a single device that’s significantly less expensive, more powerful and easier to use than conventional systems,” said CEO Christopher Estes.
The company plans to bring the product to market in the second half of next year……..http://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/cheap-portable-solar-device-will-ipad-renewables/
Clever payment systems, such as Oxfam’s plan, could revolutionise Zimbabwe with decentralised solar energy
Affordable solar schemes light way to energy for all in Zimbabwe BY TONDERAYI MUKEREDZI HARARE (Thomson Reuters Foundation) Aug 8, 2016 – Innovative ways to pay for solar power systems could make clean energy affordable for many of Zimbabwe’s 1.5 million households that lack electricity, campaigners say. Zimbabwe produces only around 60 percent of the electricity it needs when demand is highest, and relies on costly imports to make up some of the shortage, particularly when drought hits hydropower facilities, as happened this year.
That means solar panels and other clean energy sources not connected to the southern African nation’s power grid are likely the cheapest and fastest way to bring electricity to those without it, say sustainable energy experts. “Only focusing on grid extension and increasing generation capacity will not allow us to attain energy access for all by 2030,” said Chiedza Maizaiwana, manager of the Power for All Zimbabwe Campaign.
To meet the internationally agreed goal, so-called “decentralised” renewable energy is “a critically needed solution”, she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “It is imperative that we create the opportunity for families and businesses to access (these) services rapidly and affordably,” she said.
Getting connected to the grid in a rural area can cost thousands of dollars, a huge obstacle when many people earn between $20 and $100 a month, said Ngaatendwe Murimba, a program officer for Ruzivo Trust, a non-governmental organization (NGO) working to improve rural energy access.
But families without electricity do pay for energy, buying firewood or charcoal – which drive deforestation – batteries, or polluting fuels such as paraffin……..
Jonathan Njerere, head of programs in Zimbabwe for charity Oxfam, said that in Gutu district, 230 km east of Harare, his organization and others had helped set up a community-owned, self-financing solar energy scheme.
It has enabled more than 270 farmers to irrigate about 16 hectares (39.5 acres) of crops.
Oxfam gave the community solar equipment for irrigation and an initial batch of solar lanterns, which were sold to members. The proceeds were pooled in a savings and lending scheme, allowing others to join and buy solar products for home and business use.
Community funds are used to purchase solar equipment for sale to the public through energy kiosks, and the revenue is kept for repairs and relief in natural disasters.
Njerere said the program, assisted by 2 million euros ($2.22 million) from the European Union, had helped chicken farms, fisheries, tailors and shopkeepers acquire hire-purchase solar panels, so they can work in the evening as well as during the day.
Other entrepreneurs use the solar panels to sell mobile phone charging services for $0.20 a time………
Providing subsidized solar equipment would hugely improve uptake, Ruzivo Trust’s Murimba said. Communities are asking for free installation of solar systems, zero taxes on solar equipment, and government-accredited dealers who can provide them with quality solar equipment and technical support, he added.
One local company had to discontinue a popular package including a mobile phone and a $45 solar lamp. It sold some 400,000 lights to around a third of the country’s households, but they were poor quality, and many developed problems with no mechanism for repair or return.
In Harare, vegetable vendor Regina Meki, 40, uses a solar lamp she bought on credit to hawk her wares well into the night. Under a payment plan offered by a local solar company, she pays $1 a day for the $50 rented lamp, which has helped boost her monthly earnings from $70 to $120. “Solar energy has brought nothing but happiness to me, increasing my income. Besides payment for the equipment was easy on the pocket,” she said. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-zimbabwe-energy-solar-financing-idUSKCN10J0L3
An entire district in Rajasthan to be powered by solar energy, will end all water woes in the desert state! Rajasthan Electronics and Instrumentation Ltd, the firm currently handling the project has been given the green signal to spend Rs 11.91 crore for the entire project. India.com By Rutu Ladage on August 2, 2016“……..For Rajasthan government, coming up with newer techniques to ensure that the water issues never crop up, Barmer district in Jaiselmer is coming up with a unique solution. While we do have villages and homes in India that boast of solar power and using solar energy to meet their electricity needs, there are hardly any complete districts that boast of running solely on solar power. If the project works out, it will definitely be one of the major firsts in India and set the benchmark for other regions too. The Mukhyamantri Solar Adharit Nalkoop Yojana (MSANY). will provide 70 solar tubewells in Barmer district to help people become reliant on solar energy and use solar power even for agriculture.
From swords to solar, a German town takes control of its energy, National Observer, By Audrea Lim in News, Energy | July 28th 2016 The German town of Saerbeck is a swords to solar panels story. Above this former German military ammunition camp, perched atop a metal stem like an oversized stalk of wheat, giant blades rotate in the sky, given life by an invisible breeze.
In 2009, Saerbeck decided to shift its electricity entirely to renewable sources by 2030. Within just five years, they were generating 3.5 times more renewable electricity than the town consumed, not only with the installation of solar panels on private roofs, but through a 90-hectare, 70-million-euro Bioenergy Park that now houses seven wind turbines, a biogas plant, and a sprawling array of solar panels on the roofs of former military bunkers.
These camouflaged bunkers look like charming rows of grass-hatted hobbit holes, but were built to house tank ammunition and grenades. Today they provide the physical foundation for achieving local energy security and self-sufficiency—since 2012, Saerbeck’s entire electric grid has been owned by the community—as well as a canvas for the psychedelic shadowplay cast by the rotating turbine blades.
The key to Saerbeck’s success, explained Mayor Wilfried Roos, is the grassroots nature of these projects, which were conceptualized at weekly community meetings, and have brought in revenue for the town and local investors, as excess energy is sold back into the grid……..
A bunch of PIMBYs (Please, in my backyard)
At the center of the town’s transformation is the local energy cooperative Energy for Saerbeck, co-founded by Roos, which owns the solar plant and a turbine in the Bioenergy Park. By investing in the cooperative (the minimum amount is 1,000 EUR), local townspeople become voting members and earn profits. Since its founding in 2009, the cooperative’s membership has expanded from an original nine members to 384 today. More residents are eager to join—if only the coop could keep pace with enough new projects.
Wallraven credits the opportunity to invest and participate for the townspeople’s embrace of the transition, which some scholars describe with the cringe-worthy acronym “PIMBY”—“Please, In My Backyard”—or, in corporate jargon, as the achievement of “social acceptance.” “The cooperative has been a very important strategic instrument to get the people on board,” said Wallraven………
In Germany, the energiewende has largely been fueled by small and mid-sized investors. Citizen participation accounted for 46 per cent of the nation’s renewable energy capacity in 2012, and there were 973 electricity cooperatives running by 2015.
Sophie Vorrath: Musk’s energy master plan: Is this the beginning of the end of the utility? July 27, 2016. When Elon Musk published part 2 of his Tesla Masterplan last week, it was his vision of a future where cars from a huge shared fleet of driverless electric vehicles could be summoned by the touch of a mobile phone app that dominated headlines.
But Musk’s vision for a world of energy self-sufficient households with solar and battery storage was equally ambitious – and threatens to be as disruptive to the world’s electricity industry as his autonomous shared vehicle plan could be to the automotive industry, not to mention Uber. http://onestepoffthegrid.com.au/musks-energy-master-plan-is-this-the-beginning-of-the-end-of-the-utility/
Aquila: Facebook’s solar-powered internet drone takes flight ABC News 23 July 16 Facebook has completed a successful test flight of a solar-powered drone that it hopes will help it extend internet connectivity to every part of the planet.
Aquila, Facebook’s lightweight, high-altitude aircraft, flew at a few thousand feet for 96 minutes in Yuma, Arizona, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a post on his Facebook page.
The company ultimately hopes to have a fleet of Aquilas that can fly for at least three months at a time at 18,300 metres and communicate with each other to deliver internet access.
Google parent Alphabet Inc has also poured money into delivering internet access to underserved areas through Project Loon, which aims to use a network of high-altitude balloons to made the internet available to remote parts of the world………
Zuckerberg laid out the company’s biggest challenges in flying a fleet of Aquilas, including making the plane lighter so it can fly for longer periods, getting it to fly at 18,300 metres and creating communications networks that allow it to rapidly transfer data and accurately beam down lasers to provide internet connections……http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-07-22/aquila-facebook-solar-powered-internet-drone-takes-flight/7651394
White House’s New Initiative to Install 1GW of Solar for Needies, Energy trend, 21 July 16 Under name of President Obama, the White House announces “Clean Energy Savings for All Initiative” and aims to offer a total of 1GW solar to low- and moderate-income families by 2020.
The Initiative, which was announced through a FACT SHEET on July 19, includes an investment of approximately US$288 million from housing associations, energy corporations, and power companies for solar deployment. The Initiative targets installing 1GW of solar systems for around 200,000 low- to moderate-income families by 2020.
President Obama’s Climate Action Plan set a goal of installing 100MW of renewable energy on federally-assisted affordable housing by 2020. The new initiative, depicted as “new catalytic goal,” will bring 10 fold of solar to the needy Americas. The Clean Energy Savings to All Initiative is the successor to the Climate Action Plan.
The new scheme will be implemented in collaboration with state agencies. Propergy-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) funding, a community solar competition and jobs programs will also be involved in.
The Initiative is supported by government agencies include the Departments of Energy (DOE), Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Agriculture (USDA), Health and Human Services (HHS), Veteran’s Affairs (VA), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Celeste Tsai, analyst at EnergyTrend, describes this new initiative as “an American version of PV Poverty Alleviation Project.” This program will be helpful for expanding renewable energy installations and relevant jobs as well as creating economical supports for needy families……., the new program will further declare Obama’s commitment to developing renewable energy and creating new jobs for the United States. http://pv.energytrend.com/news/White_House_New_Initiative_to_Install_1GW_of_Solar_for_Needies.html
Modern off-grid lighting could create 2 million new jobs in developing world, Eureka Alert, 20 July 16 Berkeley Lab study assesses employment impact of widespread conversion to solar-LED lighting in developing countries DOE/LAWRENCE BERKELEY NATIONAL LABORATORYMany households in impoverished regions around the world are starting to shift away from inefficient and polluting fuel-based lighting–such as candles, firewood, and kerosene lanterns–to solar-LED systems. While this trend has tremendous environmental benefits, a new study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has found that it spurs economic development as well, to the tune of 2 million potential new jobs.
Berkeley Lab researcher Evan Mills, who has been studying lighting in the developing world for more than two decades, has conducted the first global analysis of how the transition to solar-LED lighting will impact employment and job creation. His study was recently published in the journal Energy for Sustainable Development in a paper titled, “Job creation and energy savings through a transition to modern off-grid lighting.”
“People like to talk about making jobs with solar energy, but it’s rare that the flip side of the question is asked–how many people will lose jobs who are selling the fuels that solar will replace?,” said Mills. “We set out to quantify the net job creation. The good news is, we found that we will see many more jobs created than we lose.”
While there are about 274 million households worldwide that lack access to electricity, Mills’ study focuses on the “poorest of the poor,” or about 112 million households, largely in Africa and Asia, that cannot afford even a mini solar home system, which might power a fan, a few lights, a phone charger, and a small TV. Instead this group can afford only entry-level solar lighting.
In countries such as Mali, Niger, Sierra Leone, India, Indonesia, and Kenya, fuel-based lighting is not particularly “job-intensive.” Individual entrepreneurs sell lanterns, wicks, candles, fuel dippers, and kerosene in small quantities, often in local markets or on the roadside, but few jobs are created and many are part-time.
In all Mills found that fuel-based lighting today provides 150,000 jobs worldwide. Because there is very little data in this area, his analysis is based on estimating the employment intensity of specific markets and applying it to the broader non-electrified population. He also drew on field observations in several countries to validate his estimates.
He did a similar analysis for the emerging solar-LED industry and also collected data on employment rates for larger manufacturers and distributors representing the majority of global production of products quality assured by the World Bank’s Lighting Global initiative at the time. He found that every 1 million of these lanterns provides an estimated 17,000 jobs.
These values include employees of these companies based in developing countries but exclude upstream jobs in primary manufacturing by third parties such as those in factories in China. Assuming a three-year product life and a target of three lanterns per household, this corresponded to about 2 million jobs globally, more than compensating for the 150,000 jobs that would be lost in the fuel-based lighting market.
Furthermore Mills’ research found that the quality of the jobs would be much improved. “With fuel-based lighting a lot of these people are involved in the black market and smuggling kerosene over international borders, and child labor is often involved in selling the fuel,” he said. “Also these can be very unstable jobs due to acute shortages of kerosene and government subsidies going up and down. It’s a very poor quality of livelihood, and the commodity itself is toxic. These new solar jobs will be much better jobs–they’re legal, healthy, and more stable and regular.”
While there is some overlap in terms of skillsets required for the new jobs, retraining and education would be necessary. The new jobs span the gamut, from designing and manufacturing products to marketing and distributing them. “The challenge of re-employing some of these people is not trivial,” Mills said. “A lot of them aren’t literate. So there are some real human considerations to account for.”
In fact, a transition to modern lighting technologies could have immense benefits for the health and education of these populations. Mills, an energy analyst specializing in the energy efficiency of buildings and industry who also founded the Lumina Project, published a separate paper in the same journal recently that identified many of the risks of fuel-based lighting, such as child poisoning, slum fires, indoor air pollution, and lantern explosions leading to significant burn injuries.
Solar lanterns also provide far more and better light, allowing children to study in the evening and businesses to stay open later into the evening. “As long as people are using kerosene lanterns, candles, and other fuels for light, it’s actually reinforcing poverty because they’re spending so much on energy and getting so little in return. So many are stuck in that vicious circle,” he said.
Solar-LED lanterns and flashlights are gaining in popularity in the developing world thanks to being “a rugged, affordable, reliable, compact and very manufacturable technology and one that is effectively wireless,” Mills said.
In addition to job creation, the potential environmental benefits are also enormous. A study Mills published in Science in 2005 estimated global off-grid lighting energy expenditure at $38 billion per year. That corresponds to CO2 emissions of 190 million metric tons per year, or the equivalent of those from about 30 million typical American cars.
“All of this energy and pollution can potentially be saved with a conversion to solar-LED systems,” he said……..http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-07/dbnl-mol071916.php
Thanks to solar power, this airport is no longer paying for electricity. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/07/thanks-to-solar-power-this-airport-is-no-longer-paying-for-electricity/ Jenny Soffel Website Editor, World Economic Forum 19 July 2016 [excellent graphs] If you fly over Cochin International Airport in Kerala, India, you will find yourself staring down at over 46,000 solar panels. The airport, India’s seventh busiest, last year became the first airport in the world to run completely on solar power.
It started as a pilot project in 2013 with 400 panels on the airport rooftop, an attempt by management to lower the airport’s energy bills. After the installation of a 12 megawatt solar plant, the airport was able to run entirely on solar power.
The airport has now stopped paying for its electricity altogether, and even sends energy back to the grid.
Solar energy has become a cheap option in India – the price has dropped to a similar level to that of coal.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said the country’s investment target for the source of renewable energy will be increased to $100 billion, five times greater than current levels, scaling solar power to more than 10% of India’s total energy sector by 2022.
The successful project has inspired other airports both nationally and internationally to invest in renewable energy. Kolkata’s international airport in India is now also looking to build a solar plant to reduce its electric bill by a third.
South Africa recently opened the continent’s first solar-powered airport in George, in the Western Cape. It’s expected to save an excess of 1.2 million litres of water every year, and will contribute to around 40% of the airport’s electricity needs.
The street pavers were developed by Solar Roadways, a company created by inventors Scott and Julie Brusaw which raised more than $2.2 million in crowdfunding in 2014 to bring their technology to market. The Brusaws claim that replacing all of America’s roads and parking lots with their solar pavers would generate more than three times the country’s electricity consumption in 2009.
Missouri’s transportation department is set to launch their own crowdfunding campaign to support their energy experiment, and expects the hexagonal solar panels to be fully installed and operational by the end of the year.
- Farmers formed cooperative to install solar panels in their fields
- Solar panels power irrigation, surplus power sold to electricity board
- Project funded by farmers and non-profit group IWMI
Around seven months ago, about a dozen farmers in Ramabhai’s village about 90 km from Ahmedabad came together to form a solar cooperative and set up solar panels in the fields to generate electricity.
“We used to spend 500 rupees on diesel for pumping sets for drawing water for irrigation. But now we do it with solar energy,” Rambhai said.
“We also make money by selling solar power when we not irrigating our fields. We can sell excess electricity to the power board for Rs. 4.63 per unit,” he added…….http://www.ndtv.com/india-news/with-solar-power-a-gujarat-village-is-irrigating-its-fields-for-free-1408800
Wind turbines on Galapagos replace millions of liters of diesel since 2007, meet 30 percent of energy needs World’s top utilities hand over project keys, chart path for Ecuador’s famously biodiverse archipelago to meet 70 percent of fast-rising energy needs with renewables, Eureka Alert, 29 May 16.
GLOBAL SUSTAINABLE ELECTRICITY PARTNERSHIP A global renewable energy project on the Galapagos Islands — one of Earth’s most fragile and important ecological treasures — has helped avoid many tanker loads worth of risky diesel fuel imports since 2007, reduced the archipelago’s greenhouse gas emissions and preserved critically endangered species.
Now, after eight successful years, the project’s new operators are pursuing an ambitious expansion that would multiply the benefits of renewable energy for this remote, precious archipelago with a growing appetite for electricity.
A performance summary and recommendations for the expansion are contained in a new report by the Global Sustainable Electricity Partnership (GSEP), a not-for-profit association of 11 of the world’s foremost electricity firms, which led and financed the $10 million project.
The project’s three 51-metre-tall wind turbines and two sets of solar panels have supplied, on average, 30% of the electricity consumed on San Cristóbal, the archipelago’s second-largest island in size and population, since it went into operation in October 2007.
During that time, it has displaced 8.7 million litres (2.3 million gallons) of diesel fuel and avoided 21,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, the GSEP report states. The achievements have led to awards from Power Engineering Magazine, World Energy Forum, and Energy Globe.
The proposed expansion could boost the renewable energy share to 70 per cent, en route to a hoped-for elimination of fossil fuels, the report states. It could also be a template for energy development elsewhere in the Galapagos chain — where renewable sources now account for 20% of electricity production — and elsewhere around the world……..http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-05/tca-wto052016.php
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