Tag Archive | "solar energy"

China targets 70 GW of solar by 2017

China has announced plans to step up its domestic solar power development, aiming for 70 GW of installed capacity by 2017.

According to a statement from the National Development and Reform Commission, China – currently the world’s largest carbon emitter – hopes to reduce its dependence on coal by more than tripling its current solar capacity (logged at 20 GW at the end of 2013) as well as installing 150 GW of wind power, 11 GW of biomass power and 330 GW of hydropower by 2017.

China’s 2017 targets also include an increase in nuclear power capacity to 50 GW and growth in natural gas supply capacity to 330 billion cubic metres.

Wang Xiaoting, an analyst with Bloomberg New Energy Finance, has called China’s trend toward alternative energy sources “stable” and said in a Bloomberg article that the nation’s newest solar target will be “easily attained if China keeps the current development pace”.

Meanwhile, Australia’s Anti-Dumping Commission is to open an investigation into whether Chinese companies have been ‘dumping’ solar panels and modules in the Australian market, while India has found evidence of dumping practices by both China and the US and will decide this month whether to impose duties on solar imports from the two nations.

China stepped up its plans for domestic solar power development after both the US and the EU initiated anti-dumping investigations against Chinese firms.

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UK to close RO for large scale solar projects

The UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is planning to close the Renewables Obligation (RO) for more than 5MW of solar developments from 1 April 2015 across England, Wales and Scotland.

The DECC said that it proposes to continue RO for solar projects below 5MW of capacity and these are not eligible for the new Contracts for Difference (CfDs).

The developers of solar projects above 5MW are now required to apply for support under the CfD auctions.

This move is intended to protect the Levy Control Framework, which sets the total budget for renewable power projects under FITs, RO and CfDs.

According to DECC, recent growth in the large-scale solar sector, fuelled by RO support and the small scale Feed-in Tariff (FIT) scheme, has absorbed higher budget than the UK Government’s expectations.

Currently, the UK has 2.7GW of solar photovoltaic capacity, which is enough to power 620,000 homes, and it is an important part of the UK’s energy mix.

The Renewable Energy Association chief executive Dr Nina Skorupska said, “Solar power meanwhile is subjected yet again to devastating instability. The government must ensure that policy drives and rewards technology cost reductions with a stable trajectory of gradually declining financial support, not the cliff edge the government is proposing for solar.”

The Solar Trade Association CEO said, “The industry will be alarmed by these proposals and surprised to be singled out for harsh treatment. It does look like the government is seeking to define the energy mix and hiding behind the false excuse of ‘budget management’.”

According to the STA, these proposals are highly complex and will have an impact on small and medium enterprises, which are prevalent in solar, compared to big utilities.

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Hybrid diesel-PV system saves big in Ecuador

A hybrid diesel-solar photovoltaic (PV) on-site power system has produced big savings for an Ecuadorean airport.

Power to the main airport on Baltra, one of the Galapagos islands, was previously supplied by two diesel generatorswhich produced 1200 GWh/year.

A solar power plant, added in October 2013, produces more than 141 GWh/year and has reduced the gensets’ fuel consumption as well as saving up to 12% on fuel costs, according to photovoltaic inverter manufacturer Ingeteam, whose inverters were recently installed in the solar plant’s power supply system.

In the hybrid system, Ingeteam said its diesel-PV controllers monitor power flows and manage the PV power injected into the diesel grid in order to guarantee system stability, achieving up to 70% of PV penetration compared to the total diesel capacity.

The 18 kWp system features 352 solar panels and three Ingecon Sun 25 U inverters. These inverters have been specifically designed to comply with US regulations, are suitable for outdoor installation and achieve a maximum efficiency of 96.1%, Ingeteam said.

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White House solar panels operational

US President Barack Obama is to use his executive authority to bypass Congress and authorise a $2bn funding drive for energy-saving measures at federal government buildings.

The Presidential announcement coincides with the news that the White House’s new rooftop solar array is operational.

The $2bn funding drive will include new financing and training programmes for solar installations.

The announcements, to be made on a trip to California, cap a climate-focused week at the White House, following the release of an authoritative report on the growing threat posed by heat waves, severe downpours and sea-level rise.”We are going to be doing everything we can, with the tools that we have to move forward,” Dan Utech, special assistant to the president on energy and climate change told reporters.

Officials confirmed that in a largely symbolic move, the White House solar install is now complete.

The solar panels were part of a broader energy retrofit at the White House, demonstrating it was possible to introduce renewable energy even in historic buildings, officials claimed.

Solar panels were originally installed at the White House under Jimmy Carter, but Ronald Reagan ordered them dismantled in 1986. Obama brought in the latest solar technology as a sign of his commitment to renewable energy.

The panels will repay the costs of installation within eight years.

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Dominion buys Tennessee’s two major solar projects

US-based energy provider Dominion has acquired two stand-alone solar energy projects in south-west Tennessee with a combined output of 32MW.

The two projects, Mulberry farm and Selmer farm, are located in McNairy county near the town of Selmer and these are currently in late stage development by Strata Solar.

Construction of the projects is expected to begin shortly and the commercial operation is estimated to start by the end of 2014.

Grid connection will take place through facilities owned and operated by Pickwick Electric Cooperative.

Dominion said that all power and environmental attributes from two projects will be bought by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).

Dominion Generation CEO David A Christian said that this is another important addition to Dominion’s growing portfolio of solar energy.

Christian said, “We believe it is necessary to develop and maintain a diverse generation mix, ranging from traditional sources to renewable energy.

“These two projects strategically align with our regulated and unregulated generation portfolio. We are pleased to team up with TVA on the largest solar developments in Tennessee.”

Strata Solar will manage the engineering, procurement and construction as per the terms of the agreement. It will also handle ongoing operations and maintenance once the projects are operational.

With the latest acquisition, Dominion’s total solar generating portfolio has increased to 212MW.

Additionally, the company has 41MW of solar power facilities operating at sites in Georgia, Connecticut and Indiana, along with 139MW in projects under construction in California.

As part of its solar partnership programme, Dominion also has various projects under development in Virginia.

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Solar Making Big Strides to Power the Developing World

New Hampshire, USA — As we go about our daily lives using smartphones, computers and other technologies, it’s hard to believe that more than 2 billion people globally still live without electricity. According to the International Finance Corporation $37 billion is spent on fossil fuels to power the developing world each year. However, much of this population lives in areas where it is quite sunny, making solar energy an ideal solution. Several solar companies have developed affordable technology and essential financing mechanisms to bring renewable energy to those who need it most, and are now celebrating significant milestones.

Solar lighting manufacturer and distributor d.light, which won the Zayed Future Energy Prize in 2013, has been working to bring solar solutions to the developing world since 2006. It announced today that is celebrating the sale of 125,000 solar home systems. These systems include two hanging lamps and a portable lantern that can last up to 15 hours on one charge. Though the company has distributed more than 6 million solar-related products, it believes that these self-installed, upgradable systems hold significant opportunity for homes and small businesses.

Each system costs about $120 upfront, but customers can take advantage of a wide range of finance mechanisms that are making the systems much more affordable by eliminating high upfront costs. According to Donn Tice, chairman and CEO of d.light, the home system can be financed through micro-financing institutions. Customers can bring their systems home, install them, and then make weekly or monthly payments until they own the system.

Customers can also can take advantage of a “pay-as-you-go” system, where the customer can install the system, and then make payments as often as they can. They system will work for a designated amount of time with each payment, until they eventually own the system. “If they buy more credits sooner, they own the system sooner,” explained Tice. Payments are made through scratch cards, like buying minutes on a mobile phone. A special number is inputted into the system, which allows it to function.  Depending on the location, system owners can even make payments through their mobile phones and activate the system via a microchip. According to Tice, financed systems ultimately cost around $150 to $160.

Also celebrating a major milestone, non-profit SolarAid sold its one-millionth solar light in April. The Africa-focused company, which Google awarded nearly $770,000 for its Global Impact Challenge last year, trains residents in rural communities to sell solar lighting, not only bringing power to the people, but also boosting jobs and local economies. According to the company, it has grown from selling 1,000 lights per month in 2010 to more than 50,000 per month as of March 2014.

“SunnyMoney’s soaring sales is by no means a job done. But it sets us on our path to proving an alternative to the fossil fuel dependency that damages our planet whilst locking millions into a cycle of poverty,” said SolarAid chairman Jeremy Leggett in a release. “We hope that our business model for tackling climate change and poverty can set a precedent worldwide for a new kind of renaissance company; whose business will never compromise its social goal.”

Both companies agree that a huge barrier for market penetration is education and distribution. Many customers struggle to make the switch from fossil fuels, a technology they’ve been accustomed to for their entire lives, and adopt solar.

“In the last year, we have worked closely with teachers who act as solar advocates to raise awareness, instill trust and create channels for solar lights to be purchased in rural villages,” said SolarAid CEO Steve Andrews. “Once people see a neighbor’s light shining bright, demand grows. We then engage local agents to stock and sell solar products.”

Tice said that d.light and other companies have made huge strides in the past few years. He compared solar growth to the cell phone industry in Africa.

“The penetration of solar products like ours is at about 5 percent today, the same as the cell phone industry in 1998. Ten years later, cell phones have 70 percent market penetration,” he said. “What drove it is the same market drivers that we have developed for solar – cheap technology and financing. There is no reason why the industry shouldn’t rocket forward.”

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