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Solar can power just about anything – large or small

Solar-powered everything, REneweconomy, By  on 9 March 2017 NexusMedia Solar power used to mean large, heavy panels mounted on a roof or spread across a field.

But the sun falls on everyone — and everything — and as materials have gotten lighter, cheaper and more flexible, photovoltaic cells are showing up in the most unlikely of places.

In bustling New York City, you can buy a sandwich at a solar-powered food cart, eat it while sitting at a solar-powered bus stop, all while charging your phone using your solar-powered jacket.

Solar power is becoming more distributed, generating power closer to where it’s needed. That can mean buildings with their own solar arrays, or, on a smaller scale, clothing that features solar panels.

Brooklyn-based solar company Pvilion is leading the charge to put solar everywhere. Their projects range from building covers to small consumer items. “We’re looking at solar as a building material that can be used in a lot of different contexts,” says CEO Colin Touhey.

Touhey and his partners have collaborated with Tommy Hilfiger to make solar-powered jackets, and now they’re working on a line of bags with built-in solar panels. While coats can’t generate nearly as much power as larger arrays, every person with a smartphone is a potential customer.

“It’s really cool to plug in your phone and charge it with the sun,” says Touhey.

Researchers are developing woven solar fabrics that have photoactive dyes coating individual threads, so each fiber is a miniature solar panel. But for now, flexible solar panels must be laminated on top of fabrics.

Pvilion has also designed building facades using heavy-duty solar fabrics. You can see their handiwork in a planned expansion at the Artists for Humanity Epicenter in Boston. The building’s photovoltaic facade will generate power and provide shade, helping to keep the interior cool. This and other energy-smart technologies will make the Epicenter the largest commercial building on the East Coast to produce more power than it consumes, according to Pvilion………http://reneweconomy.com.au/solar-powered-everything-40816/

March 11, 2017 Posted by | decentralised, USA | Leave a comment

This year, Tesla’s solar roofs on sale

House with solar roof tilesTesla will begin selling its solar roof this year — here’s everything you need to know [excellent pictures]  Business Insider  DANIELLE MUOIO FEB 27, 2017, Tesla will begin selling and installing its solar roof later this year, the company wrote in its fourth-quarter investor letter.

March 6, 2017 Posted by | decentralised, USA | Leave a comment

Solar power for 7,000 Railway Stations In India

7,000 Railways Stations In India To Go Solar    https://cleantechnica.com/2017/02/21/7000-railways-stations-india-go-solar/ February 21st, 2017 by  Almost every railway station in India will soon be fed with solar power if the plans announced in India’s latest union budget are implemented.

solar _photovoltaic_cells-wide

The Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced that the 7,000 railway stations across the country will be fed with solar power as per the Indian Railways mission to implement 1,000 megawatts of solar power capacity. The minister made the announcement during the union budget speech on 1 February 2017.

The minister stated that work to set up rooftop solar power systems at 300 stations has already started, and soon this number will increase to 2,000 stations. According to data released by the Minister of Railways, India had 7,137 railway stations at the end of March 2015.

These rooftop solar power systems are expected to be implemented through developer mode, wherein the project developer will sign long-term power purchase agreement with Indian Railways.

In addition to rooftop solar power systems, the Indian Railways is expected to set up large-scale projects as well. Last year, it announced plans to launch a tender for 150 megawatts (MW) of rooftop systems. Late last year, it announced a partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to set up 5 gigawatts of solar power capacity.

The Indian Railways has managed to identify the solar power resource in two states so far — Gujarat and Rajasthan — where 25 MW of rooftop and 50 MW of ground-mounted capacity is to be commissioned in the first phase of the program. In the second phase, 60 MW of rooftop and 660 MW of ground-mounted capacity will be installed in nine other states. During the third phase, 400 MW of rooftop and 3,800 MW of ground-mounted capacity will be installed in the rest of the country.

February 25, 2017 Posted by | decentralised, India | Leave a comment

Churches now finding that solar energy is getting cheaper and easier

text-relevantchurch greenEden Keeper, (USA) 6 Jan 17 Faith members considering solar power for churches, temples, mosques, and other houses of worship are discovering that installations are getting both easier and cheaper. Since 2009, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), costs for non-residential solar installations have dropped around 73%, from around $7.50 per kilowatt to today’s cost of about $2 per kilowatt.In Minnesota, for example, approximately 400 congregations are working with Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light (MNIPL), a faith-based nationwide nonprofit concerned with climate change and environmental stewardship. MNIPL Executive Director Julia Nerbonne notes that conversations on solar power for churches are trending all across the state.

Among the 20 Minnesota houses of worship that completed their transition to solar power in 2016 are Unity Church-Unitarian and Woodbury Peaceful Grove United Methodist Church in St. Paul. In Roseville, St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church also completed it’s solar rooftop installation last year……..

Community Solar Farms Offer Additional Solutions……..

Just Community Solar: A Story of Faith in Action

Many States Offer Solar IncentivesCurrent political fearmongering aside, many states are working hard to increase the transition to renewable energy in the US. Minnesota is an inspiring example…


“Tons and Tons of Faith Communities Doing Solar” 
An additional bill credit especially relating to solar power for churches, faith-based organizations, and other nonprofits may be approved in March 2017, by the Public Utilities Commission………

Learn More about Community Solar Power For ChurchesMNIPL’s project, “Just Community Solar: A Story of Faith in Action” is “connecting the dots between climate, racial, and economic justice.”

January 7, 2017 Posted by | decentralised, USA | Leave a comment

Wales introduces solar ‘eco hamlet’ – the first of many?

solar rooftopstext-relevantInside Glanrhyd, the first solar ‘eco hamlet’ in Wales  Residents of the new eco hamlet in Pembrokeshire can expect greatly reduced fuel bills and shared use of an electric car, Guardian, , 6 Jan 17, 

Most of the houses in the Welsh village of Glanrhyd are of traditional construction – walls made out of hefty local stone, roofs of grey slate. They can get chilly when the winter winds whistle through the gaps.

The six houses that make up the “eco hamlet” of Pentre Solar look and feel very different. They are built using light, bright timber sourced from a nearby valley. The houses are carefully insulated, airtight and powered by solar panels.

Over the next few weeks the first tenants, local people from Pembrokeshire county council’s housing list, will move into what is being billed as the only development of its kind in the UK.

Their fuel bills are expected to be a fraction of their neighbours’ – and they will even get the use of a shared electric car for the school run, the shopping trip to nearby Cardigan, or even for a jolly to one of the many glorious local beaches…….

If the project, which has been backed by the Welsh government, does work, the hope is that similar developments could be rolled out across Wales and eventually across the UK.

Western Solar’s first venture was a solar farm, five miles from the eco hamlet. Doubts that it was sunny enough in this part of the British Isles (after all, the nearby village of Eglwyswrw made headlines last year after it rained for more than 80 days in a row) proved unfounded and the project thrived…….

Using technology borrowed from Germany, Western Solar built a prototype eco home called Tŷ Solar (Tŷ is Welsh for house). The idea was to produce a high-quality, brilliantly insulated, airtight house made of locally sourced timber and powered by solar energy…….

Western Solar’s ambitious plan is to build 1,000 more houses across the UK in the next 10 years and is looking for investors to help. The Welsh government is keen to see the concept work elsewhere. One of the key pledges of the current Labour-led administration is to provide an additional 20,000 affordable homes by 2021.…… https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jan/06/inside-glanrhyd-the-first-solar-eco-hamlet-in-wales

January 7, 2017 Posted by | decentralised, UK | Leave a comment

South Pacific island ditches fossil fuels to run entirely on solar power

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

November 30, 2016 Posted by | decentralised, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

China’s ambitious plan, lifting poor communities by means of solar rooftops

Unlike many other developing countries, around 99% of all Chinese households already have access to the grid.

community-solar

Solar PV can help China’s poorest, China Dialogue     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.

When China’s national cap-and-trade programme officially launches in 2017 its carbon trading market will be the largest in the world. The sums set to be generated are substantial. By the end of October 2015, China had seven pilot carbon trading markets in seven cities and provinces. The total emissions ‘allowances’ distributed during 2015, said Kang, was the equivalent of 1.2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide, with a projected turnover of 1.3 billion yuan (around US$188 million)….https://www.chinadialogue.net/article/show/single/en/9420-Solar-PV-can-help-China-s-poorest

November 24, 2016 Posted by | China, decentralised | Leave a comment

Florida’s Amendment 1 would have undermined rooftop solar, but voters were not fooled

Solar PV capacity in Australia lags that of less sunny nations such as the UK and South Korea.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 energyneuter 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.”

 Florida’s investor-owned electric utilities – Duke Energy, Florida Power & Light (FPL), Gulf Power and Tampa Electric – spent $20 million pushing Amendment 1 and branding it as “pro-solar,” when in fact it would have undermined customer-owned solar power in Florida. Amendment 1’s passage would have paved the way for the utilities to add fees to solar customers’ bills and to cut net metering payments for the extra power they produce. They could have killed the nascent rooftop solar industry in Florida, which already lags behind far smaller states like Massachusetts and New Jersey.

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.

November 23, 2016 Posted by | decentralised, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Decentralized renewable energy – this is the future

Why the Future Belongs to Decentralized Renewables, Not Centralized Hydrogen and Giga-Scale Nuclear November 18, 2016 by Energy Post
highly-recommended“……….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 inexhaustibleenergy 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.

recycle-rare-earths-2

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 

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.

November 21, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, decentralised, Reference | Leave a comment

South Africa’s renewable energy is making nuclear power look obsolete

solar,-wind-aghastflag-S.AfricaSolar And Wind Versus Nuclear: Is Baseload Power Obsolete? Planet Save November 20th, 2016 by . 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/

November 21, 2016 Posted by | decentralised, South Africa | Leave a comment

Just like any other house – but it’s got a SOLAR ROOF

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.

solar-roof-tesla

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. 1 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

November 4, 2016 Posted by | decentralised, USA | Leave a comment

Solar power in Australian desert farm – producing tons of tomatoes

sundrop-farms

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?

An international team of scientists has spent the last six years fine-tuning a system that pipes seawater in from the ocean and desalinates it using a state-of-the-art concentrated solar energy plant. The water is then used to irrigate 180,000 tomato plants grown in coconut husks instead of soil, kept in a network of greenhouses.

sundrop-farms-david-prattThe result is Sundrop Farms, a commercial-scale facility located just off the Spencer Gulf in South Australia that began construction in 2014. Today it’s producing an estimated 17,000 tons of tomatoes per year to be sold in Australian supermarkets.

Given the increasing demand for fresh water around the world — a problem that’s particularly apparent in the sunburned landscape of South Australia — this might just represent future of large-scale farming, especially in coastal desert regions that have previously been non-arable.

The heart of the farm is the 23,000 mirrors that reflect sunlight towards a 115-meter high receiver tower. All of that concentrated sunlight produces an immense amount of power, up to 39 megawatts. That’s more than enough to cover the desalination needs of the farm and supply all the electricity needs of the greenhouses.

The seawater, too, has other purposes besides just irrigation. During scorching hot summers, seawater-soaked cardboard lines the greenhouses to help keep the plants at optimal temperature. Seawater also has the remarkable effect of sterilizing the air, meaning that chemical pesticides are unnecessary.

All in all, the facility cost around 200 million dollars to get up and running. That might sound excessive, but in the long run the facility should save money compared to the costs of conventional greenhouses that require fossil fuels for power. It’s a self-sustaining, cost-efficient design so long as the initial investment can be provided. Facilities similar to the Australian one are already being planned for Portugal and the U.S., as well as another in Australia. Desert areas like those seen in Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates could be next in line.

“These closed production systems are very clever,” said Robert Park of the University of Sydney, Australia, to New Scientist. “I believe that systems using renewable energy sources will become better and better and increase in the future, contributing even more of some of our foods.”

October 17, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, decentralised | Leave a comment

Solar microgrids are changing lives

solar-microgridChanging lives with solar microgrids, Green Biz, Laurie Guevara-Stone Monday, October 10, 2016 Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere. Only 25 percent of the 10.3 million people in the country have access to electricity. One nonprofit organization is testing a solution that could not only change the lives of the unelectrified in Haiti, but could be a model of how to bring electricity to the 1.2 billion people in the world still living in the dark.

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; PowerhiveDevergy 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

October 12, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, decentralised | 1 Comment

Ambitious solar power plan for 12,000 homes in Saskatchewan

community-solarSaskPower 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.

“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

September 26, 2016 Posted by | Canada, decentralised | Leave a comment

Cheap, Portable Solar Panel could transform the solar power industry

sunThis 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/

September 26, 2016 Posted by | decentralised, USA | Leave a comment