Friday, 31 July 2009

Solar panel plant to be built in France

Companies from France and United States announced plans to build a solar-panel plant to support the French government's goal of using solar-powered electricity to increase sustainable energy technology.

In 2007, French President Nicolas Sarkozy established Grenelle Environnement, a program promoting renewable energy sources, including hydraulic, wind, biomass, geothermal, photovoltaic cells and solar energy.

To the solar energy segment of that charge, EDF Energies Nouvelles, which is half owned by the French government, and First Solar Inc., which has headquarters in Tempe, Ariz., said they would build a facility in France to manufacture solar panels.

A news release from the companies said the plant would have an initial annual capacity of more than 100 Megawatt Peak. Full production is expected by the second half of 2011 with a staff of more than 300.

EDF EN Chairman Paris Mouratoglou, in the release, said the agreement supports the utility's goal of installing a capacity of 500Mwp by 2012. EDF EN has raised more than $710 million to finance expansion of the photovoltaic sector.

The companies said a site location would be determined in the next few months. It will be built in France at an investment of more than $128 million. EDF EN will finance half the capital expense and receive the plant's entire output for at least 10 years.

First Solar's manufacturing site will include a facility for recycling solar panels, Europe's only solar panel recycling plant outside of Germany.

The announcement marks First Solar's first move into France. In addition to its U.S. operations, the company has concerns in Malaysia and Germany, where company facilities generate 192 megawatts of power.

"The decision to invest in France reflects our firm belief in the French market and its great potential," First Solar Chief Executive Officer Mike Ahearn said in the release. "It represents a vote of confidence in the policies being developed by the French government since the Grenelle de l'Environnement to promote renewable energies and allow solar electricity to compete economically with other forms of energy."

He added that long-term commitments by French officials regarding policy and regulatory issues and of EDF EN to invest in developing and expanding the French market were key factors in First Solar's decision to invest in France.

"This agreement represents a key milestone in the strategy of our group, which has the ambition to be a global leader in solar energy," Mouratoglou said. "Securing a competitive supply is essential for us to participate in the development of a large French solar market."

French Sustainable Development Minister Jean-Louis Borloo was on hand for the companies' announcement and stated: "I salute the decision of EDF Energies Nouvelles and First Solar to invest and create jobs in France's solar sector, which has begun to take off since the Grenelle de l'Environnement. This investment represents a veritable turning point for the photovoltaic industry and confirms that France is more than ever in a position to play a leading role globally."

Source - Solardaily

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

The cost of green energy efficiency

No one ever said concern for the environment was going to be cheap.

The Energy Secretary, Ed Miliband, announced last week that Britain becoming a low carbon-economy will cause the average annual energy bill to rise by as much as £92 a year by 2020. Figures from the UK Energy Research Centre show the increase could be closer to £230. However, making your home more energy efficient can cut your bills although, in most cases, upfront costs are unavoidable.

Compared to countries on the continent, the housing stock in the UK is old. A large proportion of properties have been around more than 60 years and are leaking heat all over the place. However, improvements can be made.

A high-efficiency boiler coupled with solar thermal panels can reduce heating bills. Solar thermal panels installed facing south will produce as much as 30-40 per cent of the power needed to heat your water annually. However, according to the Energy Saving Trust, a standard system will cost from £4,000 to £6,000 to install, meaning it will take between seven and 14 years to recoup the investment.

As fuel prices rise, investing in a more energy efficient property will be more rewarding. “Over and above the environmental concerns, we need to think about fuel supply,”. “If you want to secure against increased heating and electricity costs, then being more efficient in your home is the way to go.”

Source - The Independent

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Watch Solar Eclipse 2009 In America

Watch Solar Eclipse 2009 In America, Total solar eclipses have struck awe or fear into hearts for millennia, but scientists are more interested in the unusual mathematics behind the gold-and-indigo lightshow.

Superstition has always haunted the moment when Earth, Moon and Sun are perfectly aligned. The daytime extinction of the Sun, the source of all life, is associated with war, famine, flood and the death or birth of rulers.

People living outside totality, from Japan in the north to parts of Indonesia in the south, will be in the penumbra, or partial shadow, which means a “bite” seems to have been taken out of the Sun.

Source - A Pakistannews

Watch Solar Eclipse 2009, Solar Eclipses, Scientists, Sun,

Industry's First Solar-Assisted Heat Pump

A new solar-assisted heat pump allows homeowners to lower carbon dioxide production by an impressive 370 pounds a year, the equivalent of planting seven mature trees or carpooling to work one day each week.

By drawing energy from a solar panel during peak daylight hours and using it to help power the outdoor fan, the new Lennox SunSource heat pump can save homeowners up to 8 percent on their electric bills. Homeowners may also save with federal tax credits of up to $1,500 for new energy-efficient systems.

"We're pleased and excited to offer customers this innovative new product," said Todd Lindsey, general manager at Absolute Zero, the local distributor for the new solar product.

"Our company is always looking for ways to serve our clients better, and this is a great opportunity to provide them with green, cutting-edge technology that helps them save money and helps the environment at the same time."

The new solar-assisted heat pump is part of an extensive high-efficiency product line offered by Absolute Zero. In addition to residential and business installations, the leading-edge air conditioning, heating and electrical company sells, services, maintains and repairs all types of HVAC systems.

Absolute Zero has been providing HVAC services in the valley for over 18 years. Their uniformed NATE-certified technicians are GPS-dispatched 24/7 for rapid service. The APS-qualified business has a complaint-free record with the Arizona ROC and an excellent rating with the Better Business Bureau.

"We do every job the right way," Lindsey said. The contractor partners with an energy auditing company to help customers discover more ways to save, and offers a financing option for buying a new system.

Absolute Zero provides a range of services to improve energy efficiency, including custom sheet metal fabrication, indoor air quality systems and a variety of products and services for commercial customers.

"Our company is unique because we have our own metal fabrication shop with the latest plasma cutting machines," Lindsey explained. "This reduces material waste and makes our HVAC systems more efficient."

Source - Solar Daily

Chartering the green revolution

Ed Miliband’s 1,000-page opus is big on aspiration but short on detail, say industry chiefs, and Labour’s low-carbon dreams will remain just that without investment.

Ed Miliband, the former Cabinet Office minister and confidant of Gordon Brown, was given one of the hardest jobs in government. Chosen to head the new Department for Energy and Climate Change, he was tasked with charting a path to revolution.

New Labour has long spoken of a future in which Britain would be ringed by thousands of windmills, turning in the breeze to create pure, pollution-free power.

Dirty old coal-fired power stations would bury their harmful exhaust deep underground; underwater turbines would draw energy from the tides. Our homes would be kitted out with smart meters to give us by-the-minute updates on our energy use and carbon footprint.

The vision was there. What was missing was the detail, and it was up to Miliband and his team at the cutting-edge energy department to provide it.

Last week, he revealed the fruits of that labour. The documents comprising the latest iteration of the government’s plan for a green future weighed in at more than 1,000 pages.

They contained a few firsts. The government finally admitted in stark terms that energy bills will have to rise – by 17% for business and 8% for households – to decarbonise the economy.

It broadly laid out how the £150 billion investment required over the next 20 years will be distributed (offshore wind looks like the biggest winner).

Every government department was given a carbon budget. More than 400,000 “green jobs” are expected to be created and no fewer than half a dozen quangos will be set up to oversee the transition to deliver an 18% cut in carbon emissions from present levels by 2020.

Industry, however, was sceptical. It has seen targets come and go before. This is Labour’s fourth energy white paper since Creating a Low Carbon Economy was published in 2003. It is by far the most comprehensive but many of the hardest questions remain unanswered.

Solar at micro level, payments to homeowners to feed power into the grid could stimulate investment in solar photovoltaic (PV) The current scheme is not nearly generous enough. “It might stimulate the market but it’s not going to push it toward the explosive growth rates seen in countries like Germany,” said Leggett.

With solar PV, the UK could be generating 5% of its electricity needs by 2020. The EU intends to generate 12% of all its electricity from PV by 2020. The government’s Renewable Energy Strategy, by contrast, assumes that solar PV will contribute only about 2% of the UK’s renewable electricity by that date.

Recognising the size of the task, the government has relaxed a previously recommended timeline for achieving the transformation. The independent advisory Committee on Climate Change said this year that the power sector should remove virtually all emissions by 2030. This has now been pushed to 2050.

What is certain is that it is all going to be very expensive – and we will be footing a big chunk of the bill, either through public subsidies or higher energy bills. The government predicts an 8% rise in household energy bills, and 17% for industry.

Source - The Telegraph

Friday, 17 July 2009

George Monbiot – Paying for green energy interview

The ink isn’t dry on the government’s low carbon transition plan, and already the whingeing has begun. The talkshows are buzzing with complaints about the impact on energy prices. Some punters suggest that this will be the end of life as we know it: the government’s plans will wreck the economy and bankrupt struggling families.

There’s no doubt that fuel poverty remains an important issue in this country. It still accelerates the deaths of elderly people every winter. Being able to maintain your home at a habitable temperature is a basic human right. But the new plans will make no appreciable difference.

According to the government, the impact of all its climate change policies – old and new – will be to add an average of £92 (or 8%) to household bills between now and 2020. Does that sound like the end of life as we know it? If so, you have a short memory.

Between November 2004 and November 2005, the average wholesale price of electricity rose from 2.1 pence to 3.6 pence – by 71%. In the 12 months to February 2006, the wholesale price of natural gas in the United Kingdom rose by 75%. In the three years to that date, it rose from under 20p a therm to 70p – an increase of 350%.

Wholesale prices don’t translate directly into retail prices – the hit for householders wasn’t quite as great as that – but you get the general idea. The rate by which the wholesale price of gas rose between 2003 and 2006 was 160 times greater than the rate of increase in retail fuel prices likely to be caused by the government’s climate change programmes. Compared to the wild fluctuations in energy prices caused by geopolitics and resource constraints, this increase will be scarcely detectable. The signal generating such angst today will be lost in the noise.

Did the price rise of 2003-2006 cause the economy to collapse? No. That was achieved by other means. It made life harder for some people. The government sought to address this with its winter fuel allowance, and today it proposes to create “mandated social price support”, mostly focused on older pensioners on the lowest incomes. I don’t know whether this is sufficient to eliminate fuel poverty. We should keep pressing the government to ensure that it is.

But let’s get this straight: fuel poverty and the climate change programme have very little to do with each other, except inasmuch as government intends to help us insulate our homes, which means we’ll need less fuel to heat them. As the secretary of state Ed Miliband pointed out on the Today programme this morning, failing to replace our energy supplies will also raise prices: fossil fuels will become more expensive as a result of rising demand in China and India.

There is, however, a government policy, or absence of policy, which does threaten both to exacerbate fuel poverty and accelerate economic collapse: its flat refusal to make contingency plans for the possibility that global supplies of oil (and, presumably, gas) will one day peak. Peak oil and gas will wreck more than the government’s plans for eliminating hypothermia: it will make all current economic and environmental planning redundant. Yet, in the 228 pages of today’s white paper about our future energy supplies, you won’t find a word about it.

Source - The Guardian

Ready to pay £200 a year extra for green energy?

The stark admission by Ed Miliband, the UK energy secretary, that UK energy bills will rise by an average of £200 a year as the UK looks to bring in more renewable energy is sure to catch the eye of many. Claiming that “no matter which route we go down” Mr Miliband has warned UK consumers and businesses that energy costs are certain to rise in the short to medium term.

The UK government has already signed up to a carbon reduction programme which will see an 80% reduction in carbon emissions between 1990 and 2050 with up to £100 billion spent on renewable energy by 2020. At a time when many in the UK are struggling to make ends meet the government is set to introduce a 20% tariff on the average energy bill to cover the £100 billion investment programme.

It seems that the UK government has acted on behalf of UK consumers in signing up to a program which will increase energy costs by 20% a year for the foreseeable future. History has shown us that even in periods of short-term fundraising it is highly unlikely that energy bills will fall after the initial fundraising period is over. So the UK consumer and UK businesses need to get themselves ready for a significant increase in energy bills, aside from any future increase in the price of oil or other commodities.

Source - New Energy Focus

Monday, 13 July 2009

A grown-up conversation on UK energy

Paul Golby is frustrated. He doesn’t actually say so, but the measured tones of E.on’s UK chief executive have a note of exasperation. “We are a ‘no’ society: ‘no’ to coal, ‘no’ to nuclear, ‘no’ to wind turbines. But then how do we keep the lights on?” the 58-year-old former engineer asks. “Most people just don’t connect the fact that the TV runs or the fridge works with how the stuff is produced.”

Such sentiments may be no surprise from the man whose plans for a new coal-fired power station at Kingsnorth in Kent are a long-standing bête-noire of green activists. Not to mention E.on’s keen interest in the burgeoning nuclear renaissance. But straight-talking Dr Golby is nothing if not fair. “Our industry is not trusted,” he admits. “And we have not done well in explaining things. Somehow we have to get better at explaining that people can’t have low-carbon, cheap electricity and no power stations or wind farms within sight.”

It is not going to be easy, not least because the PR challenge has as its backdrop the biggest reshaping of the UK energy market for a generation. The industry faces a dizzying array of competing priorities, none of which can be sacrificed for another. First is the looming energy gap. Notwithstanding a slight recessionary dip, demand is inexorably rising. But within 15 years, a third of Britain’s electricity generation will be turned off, as EU environmental regulations bite and ageing nuclear reactors are retired. Then there’s climate change. Again the timetable is tight. National emissions need to come down by 34 per cent by 2020 and at least 80 per cent by 2050, according to government targets.

Part of the answer is nuclear. Eon has teamed up with RWE to build 6 gigawatts of capacity, with the first two plants expected by 2020. But to scale the nuclear sector up from state-owned dirty secret to shiny commercial mainstay of the green future requires a series of tightly choreographed steps from both government and industry, with little room to manoeuvre. “It is possible, but there isn’t much slack,” Dr Golby says.

The renewables sector is equally pressed for time. The UK share of the Brussels target is for 15 per cent of energy, which means around 35 per cent of electricity, to come from renewables by 2020. But ramping up to industrial scale requires massive investments in wind farms, particularly in technologically inhospitable offshore regions, as well as a reorganisation of the grid infrastructure, and significant growth for the sector’s supply chain.

With help from the newly boosted government incentive scheme, the business case for E.on’s vast London Array project is finally made. But industry-wide, planning delays, supply chain bottlenecks and a weak carbon price all put pressure on timescales.

The biggest challenge is planning. Although the Infrastructure Planning Commission is due this year with the aim of cutting delays, there is a lot of ground to make up.”We’ve got a lot to do in 10 years,” Dr Golby says.

Then there is coal. Notwithstanding repeated protests over Kingsnorth, concerns about security of supply have put coal firmly back on the agenda. But all new plants will need carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, and so far CCS is largely theoretical and hugely expensive. Unless Kingsnorth wins the government-run competition to fund trials of CCS, the new power station will have to wait.

“The biggest demonstration of CCS so far would probably fit in this room, but to equip Kingsnorth it would have to be on the scale of Wembley stadium,” Dr Golby says, indicating his fairly modest office. “We can’t fit CCS unless we get some money from government. So if we don’t win the competition, there will be a gap between the current power station closing and our being able to build new one.” He does not make an explicit link with the looming energy gap, but he doesn’t need to.

The energy sector has already undergone a transformation. In the wake of privatisation, only the biggest can command the scale of investment needed, initiating a wave of global acquisitions. Dr Golby has seen it first hand. He moved into the power industry 10 years ago, and by 2001 was a director at Powergen, becoming chief executive when it was taken over by E.on the following year. “The electricity industry is going the same way the oil industry did 30 years ago,” he says.

But the deepest pockets in the world are nothing without clarity from government. “At the moment the Government puts sticking plasters over individual problems as they arise, rather than standing back and putting together a master plan,” Dr Golby says. It is a matter of deciding on what is needed to deliver the 2050 targets and working backwards.

“We aren’t looking for a detailed, Moscow-style plan,” Dr Golby says. “The Government has always intervened in energy markets to try to force outcomes, in this case for much lower carbon. Let’s have grown-up conversation and work out how.”

The other grown-up conversation is the one with customers. When the Queen opened the first nuclear power station 50 years ago, the promise was of power so cheap it would not even be metered. But the future turned out quite different. Energy companies are already deeply unpopular after last year’s sky-high prices coincided with unprecedented profits (albeit from different parts of the business). But bills are going to keep rising – ratcheted up by expensive carbon-busting technologies and the scarcity of fossil fuels.

For the public, there must be a cultural change. “People moan about energy prices but we waste a third of the energy that’s produced,” Dr Golby says. “Drivers know how many miles their cars do to the gallon, but I doubt anybody has a clue about the kilowatt/hours of their house.”

But the industry must also do its bit to change the terms of debate. “We need to be more direct and honest,” Dr Golby says. “Politics is based on benefits today that somebody pays for tomorrow. But with energy we have to pay today so our descendents have a planet worth living on. But it is difficult to sell.”

Source - The Independent

Cheap ‘green mortgages’ to foster energy-saving homes

The government is to offer “green mortgages” to fund the installation of solar panels, wind turbines and other energy-saving measure.

Householders who refuse to take part in the scheme could face higher council tax rates and, when they sell, the threat of raised stamp duty for prospective buyers.

Ministers want to cut the 150m tonnes of carbon dioxide generated by Britain’s 26m homes to less than 30m tonnes by 2050.

“Britain has pledged to cut carbon emissions by 80% between now and 2050 so we need to cut the emissions from each home to almost zero,” said David Adams, chairman of the UK Green Buildings Council.

Adams heads a government-backed taskforce that will propose the “green mortgage” scheme in a report to be published on Tuesday.

It will be backed by Ed Miliband, the energy and climate change secretary, who wants 7m homes to have undergone the energy upgrades by 2020, with the rest by 2030.

This weekend it also emerged that the renewable energy strategy is likely to add £200 to the average household’s utility bills. The strategy paper will say Britain needs to spend more than £100 billion on renewable energy infrastructure by 2020, including 7,000 wind turbines. This money will come from a levy on energy bills, which will have to rise by about 20%.

The green mortgages are expected to be made available by high street banks in partnership with local councils.

Householders may be encouraged to take out the loans by a temporary reduction in council tax, which may also be increased if they refuse.

The loans, likely to average between £10,000 and £15,000 for each home, would be secured by a charge on a property, repayable over periods of up to 25 years. If a resident sold the house, the charge would stay with the new owner.

Ministers believe this will not disrupt the housing market. “The aim is to make the monthly repayments so small that they will be outstripped by the savings on energy bills – meaning householders will actually save money by taking the loans,” said Adams.

Ute Collier, of the Committee on Climate Change, the government’s independent adviser, calculated that the owner of a typical three-bedroom Victoran end-of-terrace home, with three exposed walls, could expect to spend £10,280 on a package of energy-saving measures, along with a new boiler.

This would cost the householder £514 a year in repayments over 20 years, assuming a zero interest rate, while the savings on energy would total £802, a yearly “profit” of £288.

Alternatively, they could spend £32,180 on a top-of-the-range energy efficiency package with deluxe double-glaz-ing, insulation on every external wall, plus solar panels and a ground source heat pump.

This would cost £1,609 a year in repayments over 20 years, compared with annual savings on bills of £1,400. Although this appears a loss, the work could increase the value of the property and be a safeguard against future energy price rises.

Adams believes that an army of contractors could be hired to carry out energy saving measures street by street. He likens it to having an Olympic-sized building project every year for the next 20 years, generating about 50,000 jobs.

However, critics fear that a national insulation programme will see the destruction of many period features, such as Victorian sash windows, which are aesthetically pleasing but inefficient.

“This has to be done sensitively,” said Adams. “Sash windows and other period features can be improved rather than destroyed.”

The green mortgage plan is likely to irritate the Conservatives who announced a similar scheme for raising domestic energy efficiency months before the government.

Greg Clark, the Tory energy and climate spokesman, said: “It’s annoying to see our policies stolen like this but I feel proud that Miliband is a convert to recycling our ideas.”

The government will also introduce measures this week to restrict emissions generated by Britain’s 2m commercial and public buildings. These buildings produce about 80m tonnes of CO2 a year.

Source - The times

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Solar powered plane ready for take off

Solar Impulse HB-SIA, the world’s first aircraft the first aircraft designed to fly around the clock without using fossil fuel or polluting the planet, was unveiled at a Swiss military airfield last week.

The project, which aims to show how new technology can be harnessed to fight climate change, is the brainchild of adventurer Bertrand Piccard and fighter pilot Andre Borschberg. It follows from the world’s first non-stop flight around the world in a balloon by Piccard and Brian Jones in 1999.

Following a 2001 study into the feasibility of a solar powered circumnavigation flight, engineer and fighter pilot Borschberg joined as project manager. The €76m project began formally on 28 November 2003.

Dassault Aviation, which designed and built the Mirage fighter, offered to help with the aero-elasticity and flight commands, safety and system reliability. Through that relationship, Dassault Systemes, the computer aided design and manufacture firm, sponsored a full design capability for seven engineers.

Robert Fraefel, head of the design team and manager of structural production for the aeroplane, said it would have been impossible to develop the project in just six years without computerised help.

“Mr Borschberg kept saying to us, ‘This is a risky project – take risks!’, but as an engineer, you still want a margin of safety,” he said.

Fraefel, whose previous job was designing cars for the Sauber Formula 1 team, said the main challenge was having a completely blank sheet of paper.

“Usually you make small improvements to an existing part, but we had nothing to guide us except the maths and the physics calculations. Fortunately, they all worked perfectly, and sometimes even better in practice than in design,” he said.

The intensity, six days a week for three years, forged a close family spirit among the 15 core members of the team. “We even had two marriages and a couple of births,” Fraefel said.

Source - Solar Impulse

Solar power is heaven sent for parish church

SLEAFORD has become one of the first towns in the country to see its historic parish church fitted with solar power.

St Denys' Church has just taken delivery of 56 solar panels from Germany which are being fitted to the roof of the south nave by a team of expert engineers.

The £56,000 project will save 4.5 tonnes of CO2 emissions and generate 900KW or £1,300 worth of electricity a year in an effort by the church to do its bit for the environment and cut out greenhouse gases.

The project has been led by curate, the Rev Jeremy Cullimore who said that they were now looking at using some of the energy generated to heat the church, the rest will be sold to the National Grid.

He said: "This is the start of the project. Getting the panels has been a challenge and getting the funding has been a challenge, but we are going to save four-and-a-half tonnes of CO2 emissions a year. To get this on a Grade 1 listed church has been a real challenge, but also an opportunity because we can show here what we ought to be doing to protect out environment and save emissions, working with God given light that we can use to power out modern lifestyle."

The large panels, which are aluminium frames holding toughened glass backed with bulletproof Kevlar, are fixed to a system of racking to protect the lead roof. Cables run in through a window to a pair of convertors transforming the power from DC to AC current.

The Rev Cullimore added: "In Sleaford we are really cutting edge and leading the way. If more churches in Lincolnshire could do this the effect on our national energy consumption would be significant. We have set a precedent and a lot of other churches are looking at it with some enthusiasm."

The eastern side of England naturally gets more sunshine, ideal for solar power, but he now wants to arrange a conference for clergy to discuss the many ways of saving and generating green energy. He saw every school and local government office could be treated in the same way.

English Heritage had had concerns about how the panels may affect the views of the church but have been convinced to allow it to go ahead.

They cannot be seen from anywhere in town except for the top of The Hub.

The solar panels should be long-lasting as well, with similar equipment having been used on North sea buoys for over 20 years.

Having had to carry the large panels up scaffolding by hand, workmen, employed by a Lincolnshire-based company, Freewatt, should have the job completed within two weeks. Work had been delayed while rotten guttering was replaced at an additional cost of £16,500.

Half the funding for the scheme has come from a Government green energy grant while another 45 per cent was paid out by the BIG Lottery Fund and the remainder from church funds.

He said The Rev Cullimore said the parochial church council and Canon John Patrick have been totally supportive.

Source - Sleaford Standard

UK households face rise in energy bills

Consumers will have to pay hundreds of pounds more on their electricity bills in future because the Government has failed to invest enough in cheap alternative sources like wind and solar power, the Royal Society has warned.

The UK Government has committed to cutting greenhouse gases by 80 per cent by 2050 to tackle climate change. Most of the cuts will have to come from switching from fossil fuels such as oil and coal to renewable energy sources like the wind or waves.

However a new report by the Royal Society has found a “disappointing rate of progress” on new technology such as offshore wind turbines, solar panels and biofuels.

The document by the country’s leading scientists said the UK will have to invest billions more in developing new technologies as well as building a new generation of nuclear power stations and investing in “clean coal”. The bill is most likely to be paid by energy companies through a system of incentives and taxes.

Professor John Shepherd, lead author of the report, said ultimately consumers will end up paying.

“We have to be prepared to pay more for energy as a whole than we have been used to in order to avoid the side effects on the environment and have cleaner sources of energy in the future,” he said.
Lord Turner, the Government’s adviser on climate change, has already warned that electricity bills may have to rise by around £500 per annum over the next decade.

Prof Shepherd said it was likely to cost the consumer hundreds of pounds every year. However he said the cost could be even greater if the UK continues to rely on fossil fuels as the cost of oil and coal continues to rise.

“Would a few per cent on your electricity bills really be too much to pay for a sustainable energy future?” he asked. “I do not think it would.”

Prof Shepherd also said the UK will have to invest in nuclear despite safety concerns. Britain’s nuclear watchdog recently admitted there were more than 1,750 leaks, breakdowns or other “events” over the past seven years.

Again Prof Shepherd said the Government has failed to invest in the technology but the industry could be developed by employing more engineers and experts from abroad.
Coal will also have to be used in the future despite concerns about the carbon emissions through investing in carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. The Royal Society are calling for any new power stations to capture 90 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions by 2020 – much tougher than the Government’s “disappointing” current policy.

However in the long run Prof Shepherd, a climate scientist at Southampton University, said the UK must rely on renewables like solar and wind.

“For the sake of future generations we cannot afford to wait until our climate is changed dramatically or the oil runs out before we end our dependency on fossil fuels,” he warned.
Ed Miliband, the energy and climate change minister, said the UK will be setting out a vision for renewables in a white paper due to be revealed next month.

“We have identified ways to tackle the challenges – we will need a mix of renewables, clean fossil fuels and nuclear and we’re already making world leading progress in those areas,” he said.

Source - The Telegraph

Solar panels are helping us to save money

Solar panels are helping to not only save a Worcester family money but earn them some extra cash as well.

The Jenkins household is reaping the benefits of having 16 photovoltaic (PV) solar panels installed on the south- facing roof of their home in Hillery Road, Spetchley.

Dad Matthew Jenkins reckons the family save at least £400 every year on their electricity bills.

He said: “When it’s sunny, like it kind of is at the moment, the panels generate electricity. Even on a cloudy day we get a bit.

“On a sunny day we get quite a lot and if we generate more than we’re actually using we export that back onto the national grid.

“We actually get paid for that and get a fair bit of money for it.”

Mr Jenkins, a website designer who runs his business from home, said he used money from his redundancy at Kays to help pay for the PV panels which cost £15,500.

The panels absorb energy from the sun and a converter fitted in the loft of the semi-detached home turns that into electricity that can be used to power lighting and everyday items such as kettles, irons, computers and televisions.

The panels have generated more than 6,160 kw/h since they were installed in October 2006. Mr Jenkins said while it could take up to 20 years before the panels actually pay for themselves it has helped to ease a lot of financial worry for the family.

“It will take quite a long time to get the money back but it’s a long-term investment,” he said. “If the cost of electricity goes up it doesn’t affect us and we will probably get paid more for any extra we generate.

“We don’t have to worry about whether electricity bills are going to go up.”

Mr Jenkins, who lives with his wife Mitra and sons Harrison, aged six, and Anton, three, said the panels have also turned their house into a talking point. “Our road is quite quiet and not many people go past but when they do we often see a few people looking up and pointing at the roof because they look different to other types of panels,” he said.

Mr Jenkins, who recently became a member of the Green Party, is now urging other people to think about installing solar panels on their homes to make Worcester a more environmentally-friendly city.

He said he would be willing to meet people interested in learning more about the PV panels.

He has even set up a website, which records how much energy the solar panels produce every month.

Source - Berrows Journal

Saturday, 4 July 2009

World's Largest Solar Power Station Officially Inaugurated

On 1 July 2009 the solar-thermal power station Andasol 1, located in the Spanish province of Granada in Andalusia, was officially inaugurated. At the present time, Andasol 1 is the largest solar power station in the world. Researchers at the German Aerospace Centre were heavily involved in the development of key technologies and identified the most suitable location with the help of various tools, including satellite data.

They did this on behalf of Solar Millennium AG, the project development company. In addition, their measuring methods contributed towards the precision design of the parabolic trough collectors.

Climate-compatible power for 200 000 people
Andasol 1 delivers climate-compatible power for 200 000 people. This makes it possible to cut annual emissions of carbon dioxide by 150 000 tons.

There are more than 600 parabolic trough collectors distributed over a total surface area of about two square kilometres, each of which measures 150 metres in length and 5.7 metres in width. These mirrors have a total surface area in excess of 500 000 square metres.

There is also a heat accumulator located in the centre of this gigantic solar field. Here, two giant tanks, measuring 14 metres in height and 36 metres in diameter, are used to store surplus energy during the midday period using liquid salt.

This salt is heated by solar power to temperatures of up to 390 degrees Celsius and this stored heat enables the power station to operate at full power (50 megawatts) for up 7.5 hours after the Sun has set - a key requirement for the future use of solar power stations.

As well as Andasol 1, the first commercially operated power station of its kind, plans are well underway for a further two solar power station at the same location. In the course of this year, Andasol 2 is scheduled to come on stream, also rated for a capacity of 50 megawatts. Andasol 3, also with a 50 MW rating, is expected to follow in the course of 2011.

DLR researchers tasked with finding the ideal location
On behalf of Solar Millennium AG, the project development company, employees in the Solar Research department of the DLR Institute for Technical Thermodynamics (Institut fur Technische Thermodynamik; ITT) at the Plataforma Solar de Almería research station located about 50 kilometres from the Andasol site were tasked with identifying a suitable location for the new solar power station.

One key decision-making indicator took the form of the statistical mean values calculated from many years of sunlight readings taken by the DLR from meteorological measurements at ground stations, and sequential satellite data.

Precision boosts energy yield levels
When setting up this system, it is also possible to use high-speed optical measuring processes developed by the DLR for precision production control of the parabolic collectors. Precise and well-aligned parabolic mirrors are able to boost the energy yield by up to 10%, and this makes a key contribution to the cost-effectiveness of a plant of this kind.

Development of the actual collector technology was aided by the DLR taking a leading role in several projects sponsored by the German Environment Ministry. This meant that the industrial partners were supported during the design and testing of collector prototypes and absorber tubes by DLR employees working at the Spanish test centre of Plataforma Solar de Almería, located in Almeria.

The total cost of this power station is somewhere in the region of euros 300 million. A key form of early assistance for the Andasol 1 power station was also forthcoming from the European Union, which contributed euros 5 million of funding aid for the preparation and accompanying scientific research. Power from concentrated solar energy

Andasol 1 is a solar-thermal power station and what is known as a parabolic trough power station. In this configuration, the concentrating mirrors take the form of a very long trough with parabolic cross section. The individual elements of this trough, the collectors, are rotated to track the Sun as it moves from east to west.

Sunlight falling on the collector is reflected onto a focal line, where the light energy is concentrated by a factor of up to 80. Absorber tubes run down this focal line.

These steel tubes, surrounded by an evacuated, insulating glass tube, have a special surface coating which is highly effective at absorbing solar radiation and converting it into heat. In this process, temperatures substantially in excess of 400 degrees Celsius are developed on their surface. An oil known as 'thermo-oil' flows through the centre of each steel absorber tube.

This oil is heated to almost 400 degrees, and the collected heat is then directed to a thermal transfer unit in which steam is generated at high temperature and pressure. As in conventional power stations, this steam is then used to drive a turbine that - linked to a generator - then generates electrical power.

Source - Solar daily