Friday, 31 December 2010

happy new year for 2011 save the planet

To all our members, the green lovers out there, happy new year for 2011 save the planet!

Spain helps out neighbour France in green power surge

Spain has bolstered its credentials as a world leader in renewable energy by exporting electricity to France for the first time. Heavy rain and strong winds during 2010 meant that renewables - principally hydro, wind and solar power - met 35% of Spanish demand.

Wind power rose by 18.5% in 2010 and now meets 16% of demand. Luis Atienza, managing director of Spain's electricity grid, predicted that "within three years wind power will overtake nuclear as an electricity source". At its peak, on November 9, wind power met 43% of demand.

Heavy rains saw hydro-electrical production rise by 59% on 2009. Solar power, meanwhile, lags behind at only 3%, although some of the big solar plants have yet to come on stream.

Oil and gas continue to generate about half of Spain's capacity, while nuclear power accounts for around 19%.

Javier Garcîa Breva, director of the solar energy programme, said that "even five years ago no one would have believed these figures were possible. No one expected renewables to grow so fast. They have unlimited potential."

Spain continues to import electricity from France but only as a staging post en route to Morocco, Portugal and Andorra. "France has not increased its capacity and so its ability to export has decreased," Atienza said. "This has fallen further due to industrial strife." During recent strikes dozens of French power stations were forced to close and Spanish production had to be imported to meet the shortfall.

This greening of the Spanish grid has not benefited the consumer, with prices likely to rise by 9% in 2011. The government sets electricity prices which have no direct correlation with production costs.

Source - Guardian

Energy hungry China embrace solar heating panels

At least 30 million Chinese households now have one and last year the country accounted for around 80 percent of the world market, said Eric Martinot, visiting scholar at Beijing’s Tsinghua University. “We are at 15 to 20 percent annual growth and I don’t see that slowing down.”

Huang says his Dezhou-based firm, China Himin Solar Energy Group, is the largest in a fragmented and almost entirely Chinese market, with a share of around 14 percent.

And the mayor is using his heating success as the basis for a bid to follow British University town Oxford and Australia’s Adelaide as host of an international solar congress.

Cheap and effective enough to make economic sense to middle-class urbanites, Huang’s basic models start at around 1,500 yuan ($190), although for a luxury home this could rise to 18,000 yuan ($2,250).

With technology so efficient they can work at temperatures well below freezing and under cloudy or smog-choked skies, they soon pay for themselves, he says.

“Even in winter when the temperature is minus 20, and with this kind of pollution, they can produce hot water,” Huang says, gesturing to the city’s grey skies.

Demand from house-buyers is forcing many builders to include the heaters in new blocks, and a government pledge that all buildings in major cities will be revamped to make them more energy efficient by 2020 should mean further customers.

Wind power generation, or more familiar solar panels used to generate electricity, are expensive and usually need government subsidies to take off. The heaters have spread far faster.


All have the same basic design, a row of sunlight-capturing glass pipes angled below an insulated water tank.

The key to the demand boom, even in the freezing northeast and chilly western deserts, is the vacuum separating the inner tube with its energy-trapping coating from an outer tube.

Sunlight travels freely through the glass tubes but the heat it generates is trapped inside the central one where it can be transmitted to water.

“The vacuum prevents molecules carrying heat away, as there is no direct contact between inner and outer tube,” Huang said.

The heaters are also easier to produce than better known electricity-generating panels. Himin’s workers making these wear white overalls and hair caps, in rooms sealed to visitors. But downstairs, water-heaters roll off a production line in open warehouses filled with the clanging of giant metal presses, the roar of painting machines and open flame of glass-handlers.

The relatively low-tech factory floor helps keep costs down to around $120 to $150 per square metre, well below the $700 to $800 charged for similar heaters in Europe.

The simplicity of the model has also encouraged a lot of small start-ups — some, though, of dubious quality.

“It’s a very fragmented industry, although they employ about 250,000 people, which is about an eighth of the total in all of China’s green energy industry,” said Martinot.

“We might start to see centralisation into a few bigger players,” he added, with stronger firms helping build up exports, which are currently negligible.


Himin will almost certainly be one of the new powerhouses. Huang says revenues will expand 80 to 100 percent this year, although he declined to give figures in yuan.

The trim 48-year-old, who is so committed to efficiency that an office rule bans workers from using the elevator to travel less than three floors, is also considering a listing on the Hong Kong stock market.

As a delegate to China’s parliament, he helped draft a new green energy law that found favour in Beijing as official worries grow about reliance on imported oil and polluting coal.

Huang started on the other side of the energy industry, training as a petroleum engineer. But he took worries about “peak oil” — the time when global production will peak, followed by a decline — seriously enough to nurture a second career.

One of my professors told me that petroleum resources would only be valid for 50 years, so I thought maybe this is a sunset field,” he said with a grin.

He got a job at a petroleum institute in Dezhou, but poured all his spare time and cash into researching solar technology, even after selling a patent for oilfield equipment.

He worked as designer, engineer, porter, plumber and salesman, and to the concern of his ever-poorer wife, gave his first heaters away as gifts to family and colleagues.

The first big break came when a factory manager at a family wedding ordered heaters for all his workers, forcing Huang to build the factory he’s been using ever since.

Source - Energy News

45 MW Solar PV Project Launched In Bulgaria

The largest Solar PV project in Bulgaria and one of the largest in the EU was officially launched on December 13, 2010. The 45 MW project consisting of one 20 MW solar photovoltaic
installation and one 25 MW solar photovoltaic
installation in the villages of Samovodene and Zlataritsa is currently under construction with almost 5 MWs already completed.

The project was created by a partnership of California - based renewable energy company NEOptions, the Bulgarian Development Collaborative, and SDN Co., a South Korean producer of power generators, solar modules and marine propellers.

"Large scale renewable energy development projects - especially in new EU countries where there is no track record and experience in the construction and operation of such facilities is especially challenging, and it takes a great deal of work to put the right partnerships and structures together to ensure the success," said President of NEOptions, Angelina Galiteva.

NEOptions' contribution to the endeavor was a combination of in-depth knowledge of the proposed projects and strong working relationships built over time with the other partners.

NEOptions also participated in the preparation of the solicitation materials, project description and initial engineering in order to attract a viable investor for the 45 MW PV project.

After approximately three years of collaborating with SDN (previously known as Seoul Marine) and discussing project development for both the US and Bulgaria, NEOptions presented the Zlataritsa and Samovodene projects to SDN.

"We are pleased that the initial meeting between the Project parties in Seoul in 2009 and all the hard work involved in developing the project has resulted in a positive outcome for the 45 MW solar PV park in Bulgaria," Galiteva stated.

"SDN is an aggressive and thriving company and will certainly be a sizeable player in the solar PV market long term. We congratulate them on this successful launch," she added.

Mr. Borislav Sarandev lead the efforts of the Bulgarian Development Collaborative for the projects, which included site selection, land acquisition, and securing the myriad of necessary permits, licenses and interconnection documents needed to have a turn key project of this type.

"Professionalism and understanding of local policies, regulations and relationships is what guaranteed this development team's fast track permit approval and rapid start on construction of this solar park," said Galiteva.

"We are very fortunate to have a partner such as NEOptions on our side," stated Borislav Sarandev.

"Ms. Galiteva, who is a world renowned expert in the field of renewable energy, made certain that we had all the right parties from across the globe working together to reach the ultimate goal of building the projects. Without her participation this would have been almost impossible to achieve."

Mr. Gi Choi, CEO of SDN also praised the participants and expressed his appreciation for the opportunity to construct the 45 MW PV project.

NEOptions and their Bulgarian partners continue to develop projects in Bulgaria and the region. Ms. Galiteva and Mr. Sarandev are confident that the area will become a hot bed for renewable energy development and that as countries continue to introduce supportive legislation, this team will have a rich portfolio of projects for investment.

Helping fuel this optimism, Bulgaria's Economy and Energy Minister Traicho Traikov recently announced that the country's renewable energy legislation will be harmonized with EU laws, in order to attract major foreign investors.

Source - Solardaily

Southern Energy Management Installs 60 Residential Solar Water Heaters

Seventy homes across South Carolina have been chosen to participate in a unique program that will bring solar energy to more families in the Palmetto State.

The project by Central Electric Power Cooperative, Inc. (CEPCI) will monitor the effectiveness of residential solar thermal water heating using a grant from the South Carolina Energy Office.

Southern Energy Management (SEM) was awarded a contract in September to install 60 of the systems out of its Greenville office. SEM partnered with VELUX, a leading global manufacturer of solar water heaters with its U.S. headquarters in Greenwood, to complete all 60 residential systems in 60 days.

"I was very thrilled when I found out we had been selected," Clover resident Ken Newell said. "In a tough economy, especially for people in the architecture and construction industry like I am, anything that can save money is a real godsend. I'm going to be very interested to see my power bill."

Solar water heating can provide about 75 percent of a typical family's hot water needs, and can eliminate the equivalent of 19,000 lbs of carbon emissions that would be created from heating that water through nonrenewable power sources.

More than 25 of the systems will be monitored for a year to track how much solar hot water is produced and how much electricity is saved as a result. The data will give CEPCI valuable information about potential savings for customers on a larger scale.

"We're looking forward to reviewing the data from the monitoring systems to see if solar power can play an even bigger role in meeting the expanding energy needs of our customers in the future," said Scott Hammond, Project Administrator Energy Programs for CEPCI.

The systems are being installed in homes served by four South Carolina cooperatives: York Electric Cooperative Inc., Pee Dee Electric Cooperative, Santee Electric Cooperative Inc. and Berkeley Electric Cooperative. Installation of the VELUX solar water heating systems began in late September and ended in November.

"Given that the average household spends 20-25% of their home energy costs on heating water, these systems will have a tangible positive impact on families. It's a win-win situation when you can help people save money on their energy bills, and spread the word about solar water heating at the same time," said Paul Johnson, Southeast District Sales Manager for VELUX.

"We're proud that this project is taking place in our home state of South Carolina."

SEM is well known as a leading solar integrator, having installed hundreds of residential and commercial-scale solar systems across the Southeast over the past decade. The company also has a team of building science experts who help builders, homeowners and businesses address energy efficiency, comfort and health issues.

"This is really an exciting project, and an important one for South Carolina," said SEM co-founder Bob Kingery.

"Over the past decade, we've been part of many milestone solar projects in North Carolina and other states, and it's always rewarding to see how pilot programs can lead to real change in the perception and adoption of renewable technologies. We're optimistic that the success of this project will give South Carolina the momentum it needs to propel solar into the mainstream."

Charleston, Florence, Georgetown and Rock Hill are just some of the cities where homeowners will benefit from the free solar systems.

Source - SolarDaily

U.K. solar plane record confirmed

A British solar-powered aircraft has been confirmed as a record-breaker following its non-stop two-week endurance flight earlier this year, officials say.

The Federation Aeronautique Internationale, the world governing body for air records, has confirmed three records for the Zephyr aircraft, including longest time aloft, the BBC reported Friday.

Built by U.K. defense technology company Qinetiq, the Zephyr completed its two-week flight in the United States in July.

The FAI confirmed the Zephyr smashed the previous record for the absolute duration of an unmanned autonomous vehicle flight, set by Northrop Grumman's Global Hawk in 2001, by a factor of 11.

The organization confirmed the official duration at 336 hours, 22 minutes and eight seconds.

Qinetiq says it sees applications for Zephyr aircraft in surveillance and communications.

The military could use them as reconnaissance and communications platforms, the company said, while civilian and scientific programs can equip them with small payloads for Earth observation duties.

Source - Solardaily

Friday, 10 December 2010

In Greece's fallow fields, solar energy stirs

The son and grandson of farmers, Spyros Papathanassiou spends most of the day overseeing his family olive press and winery in the outskirts of Asopia, a village northeast of Athens.

But his future is invested in a fenced-off contraption in the hills outside the village -- a 5,800-square-metre solar farm on which Papathanassiou sank nearly half a million euros (dollars) three years ago.

"Agricultural income has been severely restricted in recent years," says the 58-year-old former village mayor, shouting above the din of the olive press.

"Essentially, this job has never been very profitable."

Last year, this entrepreneur and civil servant completed the 450,000-euro (618,000-dollar) solar farm in a discarded family vineyard, some 90 kilometres (56 miles) from the capital.

Though barely enough to power the local water drill, it is already helping his family supplement their income by selling electricity to the national grid. Papathanassiou hopes to repay his bank loans and break even in 4-5 years.

With agriculture in Greece facing a bleak future from rising costs and falling produce prices, thousands of farmers now want to follow his example.

Some 6,000 applicants have so far rushed to join a government-backed, self-financed programme unveiled this summer to sow solar farms in the Greek countryside.

The programme offers both farmers and the state-owned electricity operator PPC, which controls most of the energy market, a way out of a looming impasse.

Accustomed to depend on European Union subsidies for their crops, Greek farmers have progressively driven themselves into a corner by growing produce that the bloc can get more cheaply elsewhere, such as cotton and tobacco.

The frequent sight of angry growers, dumping unwanted crops at ministries and blocking highways with their tractors is something the authorities would be glad to eliminate, particularly now, when the purse strings have tightened.

Greece is in the midst of a deep recession following the debt crisis that saw the country reach the brink of bankruptcy earlier this year.

Likewise, the PPC has for too long depended on its vast supplies of lignite, a form of brown coal, to fire up its power generators.

Lignite is a major pollutant, and the PPC -- nearly half of whose electricity production comes from coal-fired plants -- is Greece's single largest offender in carbon dioxide emissions.

So the investment in solar cells in Greece, a country that has abundant sunshine throughout the year, holds out promise both to the farmers and the power company.

For the PPC, it is a chance to expunge its dirty past while helping the country meet its renewable energy quota, set at 20 percent of national electricity production by the end of the decade.

The farmers meanwhile have a chance to boost their dwindling income with a steady source of funds that no longer requires back-breaking, round-the-clock labour.

"This is the last chance to have a serious investment in the Greek agricultural sector," says farmer's union activist Vassilis Kollias.

"Farm incomes have fallen by 40-50 percent in the last 15 years."

"Most full-time farmers are over 50 years old, many of them without someone to pass the torch to. They have nothing else to look out for."

Overall, the Greek environment ministry has said it will allow a capacity of 2.200 megawatts (MW) of solar energy-fueled power by 2020. Out of that threshold, farmers have been allotted a share of 750 megawatts.

Farmers have been told to aim for a maximum of 100 kilowatts of power from each solar farm, which means the state can grant them up to 7,500 production licences.

Not only does the interest from applicants far exceed this allowed capacity, but the farmers are having to contend with unforeseen difficulties.

One worrying sign is that the price of electricity, currently 40 cents per kilowatt hour in Greece, has fallen to 25 cents in neighbouring Spain where a similar programme is already up and running, says Kollias.

This can dampen enthusiasm at a time when the startup capital needed can be at least 25,000 euros, and as high as 80,000 euros, plus bank loans.

Another is that the PPC does not actually have power lines in all the rural areas that want to join the supply grid, he adds.

"It is a good idea, but it's been put together on the hoof," says Kollias.

Most of the interest has come from the western Greek region of Agrinio, where many growers are struggling after the withdrawal of EU subsidies for tobacco, which had been their staple crop.

"We have a lot of tobacco producers who have lost their income, so they are doubly interested," says Penelope Sidira, solar project supervisor at the Agrinio farmers' co-operative, which has received over 500 applications.

"Besides, there's little else left for them here," she notes.

Source - Solar Daily

Solar-Powered Recharging Stations For Electric Bicycles

Kyocera, and its wholly-owned subsidiary Kyocera
Communication Systems, have announced the development of its new "Solar Cycle Station" - an environmentally friendly solar-powered recharging station for electric-assisted bicycles that uses the company's high performance solar modules. The system, which was codeveloped by the two companies, is sold in Japan by KCCS starting this month.

The stations utilize solar modules to generate clean energy for recharging the battery of electric bicycles, but are also connected to the regular power grid, via a DC-AC converter, ensuring stable service during cloudy weather and for recharging during the night. Furthermore, the stations are equipped with conventional outlets so that they can be used as a power source in the event of a power outage or emergency.

In recent years the popularity of electric bicycles has grown immensely due to a growing awareness of environmental issues which has led more and more people to seek ways to use alternative means of transportation, as well as the expanded use of electric bicycles at rental shops as fun and relaxing recreation in tourist areas. However, with the expanded use comes a growing need to construct more recharging stations. By using solar modules to generate the power for these bicycles Kyocera aims to provide an economical and ecological solution.

Kyocera is continually searching for new and interesting applications for solar energy, and has been providing solar modules for cars, boats, parking lot "Solar Grove" shading structures, as well as more conventional residential and large-scale solar power generation.

Source - Solardaily

Solar Boat Sails into Cancun Port During U.N. Climate Talks

What better time than now — when delegates from around the world are gathering in Cancun for a second week of United Nations climate talks — to show the world what we can do with solar power?

So goes the thought of Germany’s Immo Stroeher, who today docked his solar-powered boat at the Caribbean vacation spot. The boat — dubbed PlanetSolar — is the largest solar-powered boat in the world. At over 60 feet long, it can sail the seas at an average speed of 7 or 8 knots — and has been doing so since last Fall when the ship set sail in Monaco for a voyage around the world. After a short stay in Mexico, PlanetSolar will head off to Cartegena, Colombia, and is expected to complete its 31,000 mile mission in the Spring of 2012. If the crew really puts the pedal to the metal, Turanor PlanetSolar can cruise as high as 15 knots.

PlantSolar was introduced earlier this year in Kiel, Germany, covered with over 5,780 photovoltaic (PV) solar panels. It’s capable of holding a 50-member crew, but they all have to be inside the boat as any potential lounging space on the deck is covered in solar cells.

Stroeher isn’t making the voyage just for fun. He wants his boat to serve as an example for other inventors. The message? You don’t have to choose between clean energy and innovation in transportation; you can have the proverbial pie and eat it too:

The aim is to offer future-proof solutions for sustainable living in major cities and environmentally responsible mobility concepts. Solar mobility can make a significant contribution to this endeavor.”

Docking alongside the U.N. meeting definitely gave leaders something to consider. But they shouldn’t need a giant boat to be placed in front them to realize the benefits of solar energy. Everywhere you look, new solar-powered inventions are popping up, from solar airplanes and pilotless drones, to solar cars and even solar surfboards (and don’t forget the home solar installations!).

Source - GetSolar

Farmers set to cash in on solar boom

SOLAR energy could be the next major UK cash crop after a survey revealed eight out of ten farmers would consider installing solar photovoltaics on their roofs within the next three years.

The technology has become an enticing prospect for farmers attempting to guard against rising electricity prices and take advantage of Government incentives.

Farmers can earn up to £16,000 a year from solar energy and save over £1,800 in electricity bills, according to solar energy specialist Solarcentury, thanks to the Government’s green agenda which offers a feed-in tariff (FIT) of 31.4 pence per unit of solar electricity generated.

Even though capital costs can be as high as £200,000 for a medium-sized farm solar roof, Derry Newman, Solarcentury CEO, said the economic returns were becoming hard to resist for UK farmers hoping to get ‘a maximum return from their property’.

“Sustainable farming is at the core of a healthy future for the UK, and it’s great to see farmers recognising the opportunity they now have with solar,” he said.

Dr Jonathan Scurlock, NFU renewable energy advisor, agreed more farmers should follow in the footsteps of Michael Eavis, the host of Glastonbury Festival, who installed photovoltaics on his cow shed earlier this year.

“Agricultural and horticultural buildings present ideal platforms for solar PV, and small-to-medium sized roof-mounted systems are likely to be an attractive investment,” he said.

Solarcentury conducted the survey of 130 farmers with Farming Futures, a pan-industry body that tackles climate change.

Source - Farmersguardian

Many UK farmers 'keen on idea of solar PV technology

Many UK farmers are keen on the idea of using solar photovoltaic technology in the years ahead, new survey results have suggested.

As many as 80 per cent of those queried as part of a poll from Farming Futures and Solarcentury would like their roofs to be fitted with these devices in the coming three-year period, the organisations have revealed.

Nevertheless, just 55.2 per cent of the farmers who responded to the study had a firm grasp of the full earnings they could make by signing up to the government's feed-in tariff scheme.

Farming Futures' Madeleine Lewis feels that, in recent months, a strong appetite for this kind of technology has been seen among farmers.

She stated: "It's great to see so many farmers recognising this opportunity to create an income and diversify - as well as contribute to developing a low carbon economy in the UK."

A sizeable solar power system was introduced to a building at the Glastonbury Festival farm site earlier in the winter.

Source - Taylorvinters

Iberdrola takes a shine to the U.S. solar power plant मार्केट

Iberdrola Renewables, the Spanish green energy giant, has jumped into the United States solar power plant market, announcing a deal Thursday with Silicon Valley’s SunPower for a 20-megawatt photovoltaic farm to be built in Arizona.

Altogether, SunPower, based in San Jose, Calif., will construct 50 megawatts’ worth of solar power plants for Iberdrola, including a 30-megawatt project to be built in Colorado.

“We are excited to enter the U.S. solar business by building our first 50 megawatts with SunPower,” Martin Mugica, Iberdrola’s executive vice president, said in a statement Thursday.

The U.S. solar ambitions of Iberdrola, the world’s largest wind developer, had been something of a mystery.

In 2008, Iberdrola quietly acquired Pacific Solar Investments, a year-old Henderson, Nev., startup – and its lease claims on about 180,000 acres of federal land in Arizona, California and Nevada. Pacific Solar was among a score of companies – from Goldman Sachs to no-name speculators – filing claims on United States Bureau of Management Land during the great solar land rush of 2007-2008.

(BLM records show that Pacific Solar began filing solar lease claims while its founder, David Saul, was still serving as chief operating officer of Solel, an Israeli solar power plant builder subsequently acquired by Siemens for $418 million last year.)

Iberdrola still has lease claims on 165,600 acres of BLM land in Arizona, California and Nevada for both photovoltaic and solar thermal projects, according to federal filings.

The company has maintained radio silence about its plans, if any, for that desert real estate. But on Thursday, Iberdrola said it will own and operate the Copper Crossing solar farm to be built by SunPower, one of the U.S.’s largest solar module makers and developers, on 144 acres of agricultural land in Pinal County, Ariz. Iberdrola will the electricity to utility Salt River Project.

Source - Reuters

Friday, 12 November 2010

Can free radios put US on Afghan people's wavelength?

A US-funded radio station is trying to win the Taliban propaganda war by distributing thousands of free, solar-powered radios in remote parts of Afghanistan.

The BBC's Bilal Sarwary joined the military as they handed out the hand-cranked receivers, and found them a hit with Afghans - but can they persuade the people to switch off the militants' message?

Our flight was due to take off early from the capital, Kabul. But neither I nor the handful of other journalists waiting at the airbase had any idea of our destination.

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty and the air force had kept it a secret for security reasons.

As we soared away on an Mi-17 helicopter, its Afghan Air Force pilot informed us we were bound for the city of Jalalabad in the eastern province of Nangarhar.

We were to join the military as they helped distribute hundreds of free radios.

Some 15,000 of the receivers have already been given away in cities, villages, districts and mountainous border areas of Afghanistan, with several thousand more still to be handed out.
Hell breaks lose

The sets come with a torch, which is especially useful for people in rural areas.
Continue reading the main story
“Start Quote

I like Radio Free Europe and their music programme, but I also listen to other channels and news”

End Quote Mohammad Osman Nangarhar resident

The authorities hope the devices can help counter the message of Mullah Radio, as the Taliban-sponsored broadcasts are dubbed.

The US-funded AM and FM receivers can pick up a range of other broadcasters, including the BBC, Voice of America, commercial stations and even occasionally Mullah Radio - in areas where attempts to jam the militants' signal have not succeeded.

Akbar Ayazi, of Radio Free Europe, denies they are simply trying to beat Taliban propaganda with an American equivalent.

"These [Mullah Radio] stations incite hatred, intolerance and ethnic violence," he said.

"By handing out these radios, we're enabling people to find out what's happening and enjoy entertainment in some of the remotest areas in the country, where there's no internet, newspapers or television.

"Our radio station is one of the most listened to in Afghanistan. No, it is not propaganda.''
News and tunes

Radio Free Europe's Afghan service broadcasts across the country in Pashto and Dari, on-air 12 hours a day, five days a week, combining news with Afghan traditional and pop music.

Shortly after arriving in Jalalabad, we were taken to the city's main bus station, where dozens of Afghans had gathered.

The crowd seemed orderly - until the distribution began. All hell broke loose: everyone wanted a radio.

Afghan policemen tried to restore order, pounding the crowd with rifle butts to keep them at bay.

Within seven minutes, 60 of the radios had been snapped up; the military left more than 400 other receivers with the police to distribute.

Akbar Mohammad, 28, a Jalalabad shopkeeper, told the BBC he listened to Radio Free Europe as well as the other stations picked up by the sets.
Radio heads

"I just use the radio to listen to news and music," he said. "Sometimes I listen to Radio Free Europe, sometimes to Voice of America, sometimes to the BBC and sometimes to other local radio stations.''
One of the hand-cranked radios Crank up the volume: Can this little box help the US drown out the Taliban talk?

Mohammad Osman, 42, from Nangarhar's Kama district, said: "I took the radio to listen to music. The fact that it is hand-cranked will save me a lot of money not buying batteries for it.

"I like Radio Free Europe and their music programme. But I will also listen to other channels and news.''

The Afghan conflict has experienced its bloodiest year, with record casualties among civilians, all too often caught in the crossfire.

With the Taliban gaining ground, the US-led coalition knows it must work harder than ever to cut through the crackle and interference of the militants' message.

It remains to be seen whether free radios will help resolve the US-led coalition's reception problems with the Afghan people.

Source - BBC

Warning over Lincolnshire solar panel salesmen

Residents in part of Lincolnshire have been warned to be vigilant when being approached by solar panel salesmen.

It follows an increase in companies offering North Kesteven residents solar PV panels for their homes.

The government's clean energy cashback incentive scheme has led to many salesmen cold calling, the district council said.

It added that some residents have been given misleading advice and not always offered the best deal.

The leader of the council, Councillor Marion Brighton, said: "With the introduction of the clean energy cashback scheme, there are some great benefits to installing solar PV, and some really good financial incentives, there hasn't been a better time to invest.

"We do however want to make sure that our residents are getting the best deal possible and for that reason we urge our residents to contact the Energy Saving Trust for free, impartial advice."

The scheme, also known as "feed-in tariffs", was introduced in April and offers incentives for those who install small-scale energy renewables on their homes.

Source - BBC

Danish firms embrace green economy with innovations

COPENHAGEN, Nov. 11 (Xinhua) -- With a distinct smell of fermentation in the air, and large twisted tubes sending processed grain into big silos all over the plant, one may pass it as an ordinary brewery.

Brewery it is, but no ordinary. In fact, the Inbicon biomass refinery in Kalundborg, Denmark, produces fuel for cars instead of anything for human consumption.

To be more specific, the plant uses wheat straw to produce bioethanol which is a replacement for traditional gasoline, and lignin pellets which could replace coal.

Turning wheat straw into energy is no feat because the material can be burnt. But producing car fuel from straw is more complicated.

You can directly burn wheat straw into energy, but that is costly. The material needs large storage space and risks rotting if improperly kept. Usually wheat straw is used as fuel for power plants, rather than cars.

Inbicon, a subsidiary of Denmark's largest energy producer DONG Energy, worked out a cost-efficient way of turning wheat straw into energy after decades of efforts.

"We have collected wheat straw for the last 15 years, setting up logistics and storage facilities," Inbicon Vice President of Corporate Affairs Michael Persson, told Xinhua.

Using core chemical knowledge, the Danish company then treats the wheat straw with special enzymes, which break straw into the basic components of ethanol, lignin pellets and C5 molasses. These components can then be used for gasoline, power plant fuel and animal feed.


Inbicon is not the only Danish environmental-friendly company that has come up with innovative green technologies in the past decade.

Danfoss, traditionally a Danish producer of refrigeration, heating and motion control components, has ventured into the market of solar power.

In Nordic countries, there is the so-called smart grid, which means that house owners can sell power directly on the electricity grid. Whether the house owner has solar panels, wind turbines or other power generation units, one can connect them to the central energy grid and sell power.

However, there are a number of appliances that need to be in place, before every home can be a power plant.

One is solar power inverter. Solar panels deliver power in direct current. In order to be used on the grid, the power has to be alternating current. Danfoss has heavily invested in this area with its Danfoss Solar Inverters division.

In the Danish city of Graasten, Danfoss has established the largest electronics factory in Denmark. One of its products is customized control boards for solar power inverters.

The main advantage of having a smart solar power inverter at home is to save money. Basically solar power is free, once you have solar panels and a power inverter.

According to Danfoss, a complete household solar solution in Denmark is around 8,000 euros. Each year, a house owner can typically expect free power for 700 euros.

In Germany, solar power is much more common. Today, Germany is one of the largest markets for not only Danfoss' solar inverters but also for Danfoss' many competitors in this field.


While the technology behind these businesses might not be as complex as rocket science, the application of these ideas into a viable business plan is rather unique.

The two green, innovative ways are just showing the Danish companies' commitment to the green growth agenda.

Niels B. Christiansen, CEO of the Danfoss Group, stressed the importance of finding out cheap and fast ways to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

"Energy efficiency is the cheapest and fastest way to reduce CO2 emissions. However, there is still a huge untapped potential. To exploit this potential, more involvement of decision-makers is needed to secure an adequate framework for energy-efficient technologies," Christiansen has said.

"Based on our solid experiences with energy efficiency at Danfoss, we have also started to invest in new technologies for renewable energy such as solar inverters and heat pumps. In particular, our solar inverter business is growing very rapidly -- stimulated by political framing and legislation."

Big players on the energy market realize that they have to transform to more green companies. DONG Energy has set a goal to get 50 percent of its power fuel from green sources, such as biomass and wind power, by 2020.

"It is not easy to turn such a big company around, but it is necessary. The way we do it is through very rapidly going away from the usage of coal and turning to biomass," DONG Energy CEO Anders Eldrup told Xinhua.

"In our alternative energy department, we are investing heavily in offshore wind power generation," Eldrup said.

Source - Xinhuanet

GCL solar gets funding to build solar plants in U.S

Wells Fargo Bank announced plans earlier this week to invest $100 million in China-based GCL solar to install new solar electric power plants in the United States.

A press release from Wells Fargo said the company has entered into the agreement in an effort to push the solar industry forward and support renewable energy, while creating new solar plants and opportunities for Americans to buy clean energy at rates equal to or lower than traditional energy generated at fossil-fuel burning plants.

“While the GCL agreement is new, Wells Fargo has been investing in and funding renewable energy projects for the last five years,” wrote Katie Ellis, with Wells Fargo corporate communications, in an e-mail.

She said the banking giant’s dedication to clean energy is not new, but a continuing effort to support growth in the green economy.

Wells Fargo has invested more than $2 billion in renewable energy since 2006, Ellis wrote. The company’s investment in green business is an indication of its interest in environmental concerns, she added.

Wells Fargo has funded more than 30 wind projects, 190 commercial-scale solar projects and one utility-scale solar thermal project over the last five years, Ellis wrote.

The bank’s press release also states that it hopes the investment of $100 million will help to stimulate the economy and create new green jobs.

Barry Neal, director of the Wells Fargo environmental finance group, said in the press release that he hopes the new investment will help the U.S. solar market grow and help businesses and public entities better control costs.

Neal also indicated that the bank is happy to be contracting with such a big name in the solar industry.

Ellis said her office is not allowed to discuss the particulars of its agreements with specific companies, so she could not say why the bank decided to allot such a large sum to one specific company rather than spreading the money out to different, smaller corporations.

But she wrote that GCL is a well-respected member of the solar industry with a bright future, and Wells Fargo expects its investment will help GCL’s customers save on their energy bills.

Source - Clean Energy Authority

Solar farm could be a bright idea

PROPOSALS to build a solar farm near Swindon, capable of generating electricity for 1,000 households a year, will go on display next week.

A public exhibition has been put together by farmer Adam Twine, Low Carbon Solar Partners and Energy4All and will include information on the proposal to build a solar photovoltaic farm on land next to Westmill wind farm.

The £14 million farm is likely to be a first for the country as it is being designed to allow local people to be able to invest in it and own part of the farm.

Adam, who owns the land where the farm is intended to cover between 10 and 30 acres, is confident the plans will be well received by members of the public.

“Because it is such a big area, people will be concerned about what the visual impact is going to be and whether or not there will be a reflective glare from the panels,” he said.

“But I am very relaxed about the visual impact because the panels will only be about two-and-a-half metres tall, yes you will be able to see them from the Ridgeway, but it is 7km away and they don’t stand up like the wind turbines so you won’t be able to notice them.

“The panels will have a matt finish and will be angled as such so there isn’t any glare.

“Because it is all very new, I wanted to make sure people knew about it but I am very excited.”

The exhibition will cover all the technical aspects of the proposal, including photomontages of what the site would look like from near and far way as well as demonstration solar panels.

It will also have information about the intended community ownership and a chance to register an interest in the share offer.

Adam added: “I have a concern about climate change, I think it is something we all need to be taking seriously about how we get our energy.

“This is the way forward, we have to ween ourselves off of fossil fuels.”

The exhibition will run from 3pm to 7pm on November 16 at Watchfield Village Hall, with Adam Twine and representatives from Energy4All and Low Carbon Solar Partners on hand to answer questions.

Source - Swindon Advertiser

Largest solar power station in UK is on cowshed roof

The Glastonbury festival founder has created the UK's largest private solar power station – on top of his cowsheds.
Already famous for providing the popular music event, Worthy Farm in Somerset will now be known for 1,000 solar panels fitted over a cowshed, costing £600,000.

Michael Eavis, the man behind the world-famous festival and now the country's largest solar power station, says that the panels could produce 200kw of power, enough to power up to 40 homes.

"With the energy crisis we had to do something seriously major as we see ourselves as green campaigners," he said.

"This has brought us one big step closer to our goal of operating the farm as ecologically as possible."

Mr Eavis was also encouraged by the government feed-in tariff scheme, launched in April which rewards people for generating their own power.

Made up of individual solar cells, solar panels work by collecting radiation from the sun and generating this into electricity. They can be added to businesses or homes to not only save money but also add value to the property.

Source - Uswitch

Wrexham council plans solar power for housing stock

Wrexham council is hoping to win approval for a £25m project to fit a third of its housing stock with solar panels.

The council's executive board will meet next week to decide whether to progress with plans to fit photovoltaic (PV) panels to about 3,000 properties.

The council estimates the panels will generate a net income of £25.7m over 25 years, thanks to a government scheme.

It is estimated to reduce CO2 levels, and reduce tenants' bills by up to 40%.

Wrexham believes it will be the first authority in Wales to run such a scheme.

The council would borrow the money to pay for the scheme, but hopes to take advantage of the UK government's Feed in Tariff, a 25-year scheme which allows surplus energy to be sold.

Under that scheme, the council believes the panels would make enough money to repay the loan, and generate about £1m per year in extra income.

A report to be discussed says about 36% of the county's council houses could be suitable for PV installation.

It adds: "This is expected to equate to approximately 3,000 properties following site surveys, for which installation of PV systems would cost approximately £24.9m.

"It is estimated that the project is likely to generate a net income of just over £25.7m through the Feed in tariff for the council over 25 years.

"Furthermore it is estimated that the project will save approximately one tonne of CO2 per property each year, reducing the carbon footprint of the HRA housing by at least five per cent.

"The added benefits for tenants is that using the energy generated by the panels could reduce their energy bills by up to 40 per cent."

There are also plans to install the panels on 13 non-domestic buildings, including schools and leisure centres, at a cost of £3.4m.

The council estimates these buildings could generate a net income of more than £3m over 25 years.

Source - BBC

Russia To Build Its First Industrial Solar Power Station

Russia's high-tech companies Rusnano and Renova have announced plans to build the country's first industrial solar power station near the Black Sea.

The 12.3 megawatt station will be built in the spa resort of Kislovodsk by the companies' joint venture Khevel.

"This is a breakthrough into a different dimension," Rusnano CEO Anatoly Chubais told an innovation forum in Moscow.

The $97 million deal was sealed by Khevel CEO Yevgeny Zagorodny and Stavropol region Governor Valery Gayevsky.

Swiss-made thin-film solar panels will be used in the construction. The station may start operating as soon as 2012, Zagorodny said.

Source - Solardaily

iSuppli Boosts 2010 Solar Installation Forecast

Stronger than expected growth in Germany has prompted iSuppli Corp. to boost its 2010 forecast for global installations of Photovoltaic (PV) solar systems.

Worldwide installations in 2010 will amount to 15.8 Gigawatts (GW), up from iSuppli's previous outlook of 14.2GW. This will represent 118.7 percent growth from 7.2GW in 2009. iSuppli now forecasts that installations in 2011 will amount to 19.3GW, down slightly from its previous forecast of 20.2GW.

"Germany's solar business
-the world's largest market-grew at an extraordinary rate in the second quarter of 2010, causing PV installations to exceed expectations during the first half of the year," said Stefan de Haan, senior analyst, for iSuppli.

"In the first half, Germany installed 3.9GW worth of solar systems. Germany's surprising performance was driven by excellent investment conditions and demand pull-forward prior to a cut of the country's Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) incentive program in July."

While iSuppli has trimmed its 2011 forecast, next year still is expected to be very strong for the PV market. Ironically, the strong performance for the entire year will be driven by a seasonal slowdown in installations during the first six months of 2011. This deceleration will drive down pricing for solar modules and stimulate demand in the second half of the year.

"The solar market frequently suffers a slowdown in the first quarter of a year, and 2011 will be no exception," de Haan said. "This deceleration will cause inventories of PV solar modules to rise-and pricing for solar modules to drop, boosting sales for the entire year."

Average worldwide pricing for crystalline solar modules will decline by 9 percent in the first quarter and by 6 percent in the second quarter.

These price declines will be sufficient to enable system prices of 1.9 euros to 2.7 euros per watt in Germany-depending on the system size. Once this level is reached, demand will pick up again. iSuppli is reiterating its expectation of a strong market in Germany next year with 9.4GW worth of new installations.

The attached figure presents iSuppli's forecast of global average pricing for crystalline silicon (c-Si) solar modules.

iSuppli's slight reduction in the 2011 forecast was due to shifts in solar incentive policies in important European markets, mainly France and Spain, the world's seventh and 10th largest solar installation markets in 2009. In Spain, significant FIT cuts are looming for 2011; a-a 45 percent decrease for ground installations is being discussed.

In France, political support for PV seems to be crumbling in general and is limit the annual market to less than 1GW until 2014. Furthermore, Belgium-the sixth largest country for solar installations, is expected to develop a bit slower than previously anticipated, which is in part due to a new legislation that has tightened the requirements for rooftop installations.

Finally. a drastic decline of the Czech market in 2011 is now clearly shaping up on the horizon and has already been included in iSuppli's forecasts since February 2010.

Source - Solardaily

RICOH USA Goes Solar

Ricoh Americas has announced that the Ricoh Electronics, Inc. headquarters in Tustin, Calif. is in the process of installing a rooftop solar energy system, which when completed in 2011, will supply 10 percent (approximately 350,000 kWH) of the headquarters building's electricity.

The system will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 98.1 metric tons/year and will provide Ricoh Electronics, Inc. with annual electricity cost savings of more than $56,000.

Ricoh has been steadfastly committed to the environment for over 30 years. In 1976, Ricoh established the Environmental Protection Group responsible for keeping Ricoh's environmental goals and strategies as key considerations when planning, developing, designing and promoting new products and services.

In 2003, Ricoh introduced its first "Eco-Board" in Osaka, Japan, a billboard powered solely by renewable energy. A billboard powered 100% by the sun debuted in New York City's Times Square early 2010. Ricoh also set medium and long-term targets in 2009, to reduce the total CO2 emissions to 30% by fiscal year 2020 and 87.5% by fiscal year 2050, as compared to fiscal year 2000.

Ricoh Electronics, Inc.'s solar-powered facility is another example of Ricoh's continued dedication to the environment
. Ricoh's Atsugi and Numazu facilities in Japan currently have solar power systems installed, but the Tustin facility will be the first outside of Japan.

"Installation of this system is a natural extension of Ricoh's continued focus on developing and implementing environmental protection activities that lead to prevention of pollution and more efficient use of resources," said Yoshinori Yamashita, President, Ricoh Electronics, Inc.

Ricoh Electronics, Inc. engaged SPG Solar Inc., a leader in the development, design and installation of high-performance solar energy systems, to manage the project. SPG Solar will be installing nearly 1,000 cutting-edge, silicone crystal solar panels to create the solar energy system on Ricoh Electronics, Inc.'s existing headquarters building.

The system takes advantage of Ricoh Electronics, Inc.'s location in sunny Southern California. Ricoh Electronics, Inc. offset approximately 60 percent of the solar system's cost by incentives offered by the federal and state government, and expects to recoup its costs for the project in 5.5 years.

"It is commendable that Ricoh Electronics, Inc. has continued their commitment to building such a sizable system," said Tom Rooney, CEO and President of SPG Solar.

"At SPG Solar, we rarely come across a client that is willing to take so many steps to show such a serious commitment to sustainability. That Ricoh Electronics, Inc. has done so is very impressive."

Ricoh Electronics, Inc. achieved zero waste to landfill status in 2001, and all its operations have maintained certification to ISO 14001 since 1999. In addition, Ricoh Electronics, Inc. employees
are actively engaged in sustainability initiatives, including submitting 1,360 improvement suggestions in FY 2009, which resulted in over $2 million in savings.

Ricoh Electronics, Inc. will host a grand opening ceremony upon completion of the solar system installation in early 2011. The ceremony will include the unveiling of a display in the headquarters building's lobby which streams real-time solar energy performance and production data.

Source - Solardaily

Clampdown pulls plug on march of solar farm speculators

A loophole that could result in a rash of industrial-scale solar panel farms across the countryside is to be closed by the Government.

Energy minister Greg Barker said subsidies for renewable power should not be exploited by companies planning massive ‘sun farms’ in rural areas.

The Feed In Tariff scheme was launched in April to help meet EU targets for renewable energy.
Energy minister Greg Barker said subsidies for renewable power should not be exploited by companies planning massive 'sun farms' in rural areas

Energy minister Greg Barker said subsidies for renewable power should not be exploited by companies planning massive 'sun farms' in rural areas

It guarantees owners of solar panels, domestic wind turbines and hydroelectric turbines a minimum tax-free return for 25 years.

FIT was intended to encourage households and small firms to go green and sell the power they do not use to the National Grid.

But it has attracted interest from international investors who are offering farmers up to £50,000 to fill fields with solar panels.

Work on a 30-acre sun farm in Wiltshire is due to start soon.

Yesterday Mr Barker said: ‘We inherited a system that simply failed to anticipate industrial-scale, stand-alone, green field solar. While we will not act retrospectively, large green field-based solar farms should not be allowed to distort the available funding for domestic solar technologies.’

A departmental source said: ‘We’ll be looking closely at this to avoid a small number of solar speculators cashing in on this loophole.’

Source - DailyMail

Sunday, 7 November 2010

The solar panel gold rush that threatens to ruin our countryside...and make millions for the Germans and Chinese

Farmers are being offered up to £50,000 a year to fill fields with solar panels under a Government-backed green initiative that threatens to change the face of the British countryside.

More than 100 planning applications have been submitted and work on a large-scale installation in Wiltshire is due to begin later this month.

But with a 30-acre farm able to accommodate up to 18,000 of the 2ft-high
panels, campaigners fear some rural areas could be submerged by a sea of black silicon slabs.
A place in the sun: Farmers are being offered up to £50,000 a year to fill fields with solar panels

A place in the sun: Farmers are being offered up to £50,000 a year to fill fields with solar panels

The ‘Feed-in Tariff’ scheme was launched in April as part of an attempt to meet European Union targets on renewable energy. But the financial incentives are so generous that farmers are being cold-called by developers keen to sign contracts before the ­payment structure is reviewed in 2012.

The influx is led by German and Chinese companies, but there is also interest from speculators who have seen profits slump since similar schemes were scaled down or abandoned in Spain, Italy and Germany to cut costs.

Dustin Benton, senior policy officer at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: ‘There is a real push now by developers to make the most of the short time-window. Solar panels are a useful form of renewable energy but there are many places where they should not go.’

Farmers can deal directly with their power supplier or go into partnership with a renewable energy developer or a private investor who will set up a company to run the business.

The company is paid by the power supplier for the electricity it generates and the farmer gets rent for the use of his land.

The average rental price for land in Cornwall, where the weather is judged to be most suitable for renewable energy, is £1,500 an acre, which means a farmer with 35 acres to spare could receive £52,500 a year.

At the other end of the spectrum, the owner of a one-acre field might be in line for £2,000 a year. But industry experts said this smaller area would be less attractive to developers because of the proportionately higher cost of ­installing the panels and cables.

A minimum tax-free return is guaranteed for 25 years. The farmer also receives a payment for any power transmitted from his land to the National Grid.
Bright idea: Anthony Hibbard, director of Sunstroom a renewable energies company has installed 24 solar panels

Bright idea: Anthony Hibbard, director of Sunstroom a renewable energies company has installed 24 solar panels

Energy regulator Ofgem, which runs the scheme on behalf of the Department of Energy and Climate Change, says it will promote small-scale, low-carbon power generation.

But experts have estimated the cost to consumers, via higher energy bills, at £8.6 billion. They also claim the initiative will bring relatively few environmental benefits compared with those in hotter climates.

Dr Jonathan Scurlock, the chief adviser on renewable energy for the National ­Farmers’ Union, said the scheme could help struggling parts of the agricultural sector. But he admitted opposition was inevitable due to the ‘industrial’ look of the panels. ‘

Lansdowne RE, a property agent in Mayfair, Central London, has been asked to find sites in England suited to solar developments by an Austrian company.

Rupert Hoffen, of the Mayfair firm, said: ‘The 25-year tariffs are very appealing to overseas investors.’

Russell Hayman, who runs a farm near Honiton, Devon, was cold-called by a land agent who offered an annual £500 an acre in return for installing hundreds of solar panels in his fields.

Mr Hayman, who turned down the proposal, said: ‘If the subsidy was abolished, that would leave me with no income and a load of wires lying across my land.’

South West England is at the centre of what has been called the ‘sun rush’ with up to 70 planning applications submitted to local authorities.

Lucy Hunt of the Cornwall Development Company, which promotes investment in the county, said: ‘We are seeing the start of a solar gold rush.’ One of the world’s biggest makers of solar panels is Yingli Green Energy of China, which is now turning its attention from ­continental Europe to Britain.

Another leading manufacturer, SolarWorld of Germany, claims solar power will enable farmers ‘to expand their business’.

Work on Britain’s first full-scale solar farm is due to start this month near Malmesbury in Wiltshire. Anthony Hibbard, who owns the site and is a director of solar-energy company Sunstroom, said: ‘This is a ­relatively small development which will produce enough electricity for 20 homes.’

Conservative MP and former Cabinet Minister Peter Lilley said: ‘It is bizarre, in these
cost-cutting times, to have a scheme which will cost 20 times as much as the benefits it will produce in terms of reduced CO2 emissions. Far from ­creating green jobs in Britain, it will create jobs in China.’

A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said: ‘Our Feed-in Tariff is designed to encourage people to generate their own energy and contribute to the security of our energy supplies.

‘Thanks to these incentives, farmers have an opportunity to embrace renewable energy.’

Source - Daily Mail

Friday, 5 November 2010

Landlords forced to make homes green

Chris Huhne, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, will set out radical plans to upgrade all 26 million homes in the country over the next decade.

Under the ‘New Green Deal’, households will be able to take out ‘pay-as-you-save loans’ from the local council , supermarket or chain store like B&Q. The loans of up to £10,000 will pay for double glazing, solar panels or other energy efficiency measures and will be paid pack over time through savings on fuel bills.

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Mr Huhne said the initiative will create more than 100,000 jobs over the next five years as home owners demand ‘green makeovers’.

However there is little incentive for private landlords to take advantage of the scheme because they are not paying the bills.

As a consequence many privately rented homes are badly insulated. At the moment about 670,000 homes, more than a fifth of the total 3.2 million in the private rented sector, are rated G or F, meaning they have some of the worst efficiency ratings in the country.

To force landlords to act the new legislation will “create powers allowing any tenant asking for reasonable energy efficiency improvements to receive them from 2015 onwards”.

It will also allow local authorities to insist that landlords improve the worst performing homes by installing insulation.

Let Insurance Services, a specialist insurance provider to the private rented sector, said it could cause problems for landlords and tenants.

“Anything that uses less energy and improves running costs for tenants is to be welcomed but the danger is that unneccessary costs of installations can be passed onto tenants and end up costing them more,” said a spokesman.

“It should also be remembered that there are many properties where it is next to impossible to improve energy efficiency without running foul of conservation regulations.”

Colin Butfield, Head of Campaigns at WWF-UK, welcomed the new measures.

“The Government is absolutely right to be including the private rented sector in its Green Deal energy efficiency plans. Without efforts to improve the millions of homes in the rented sector, the UK would be unable to reduce carbon emissions sufficiently or tackle fuel poverty,” he said.

The Department for Energy and Climate Change pointed out that landlords will only be forced to carry out ‘reasonable measures’ and the powers are under review.

Source - Telegraph

Writer Foretold World's Solar Future More Than a Decade Ago

Hermann Scheer, perhaps the most influential person in modern times whom Americans have never heard of, died last month in Germany, just as the global energy transformation he foretold began to take root in this country.

Mr. Scheer explained in the early 1990s with his book “A Solar Manifesto” (in Germany, “Sonnenstrategie”) that large-scale solar energy development was blocked by political and not technical obstacles. In 1999, with the publication of “Solare Weltwirtschaft,” not published in English until 2002 as “The Solar Economy,” he examined the economic influences that in his view would drive a gradual but eventually unstoppable and revolutionary move to a solar global economy.

So far it appears that Mr. Scheer, whose academic training was in economics, social sciences and law, was right.

Countries such as his native Germany, along with Spain, Japan, China, India, Portugal, Israel, France, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Canada, Australia and others have been increasing solar electricity generation even in the midst of the worst global economic climate since the Depression. The Russian Federation is the latest to announce plans for solar development.

The United States, while slow in catching on, has in the past two months been making up for lost time. The federal and California governments in a matter of weeks have approved the construction of massive solar power plants in Southern California that together will generate thousands of megawatts of electricity, putting solar squarely in the mainstream as an energy source for the first time in the United States.

And this first wave of large U.S. solar installations is but a fraction of what is planned. For those wondering how and why this historic shift is occurring, Mr. Scheer’s decade-old book is an excellent place to begin.

In English, the full title of Mr. Scheer’s “Solare Weltwirtschaft” work is “The Solar Economy: Renewable Energy for a Sustainable Global Future.”

A decade ago, with Mr. Scheer serving as a member of parliament, Germany erased one of the political barriers to solar development by adopting a law that pays people to produce solar electricity through a mechanism called a feed-in tariff.

The old dispute
of capitalism
versus socialism
pales into
before the
choice of
renewable versus

Hermann Scheer
"The Solar Economy"

Nations compensate pioneering energy developers for their efforts because, as Mr. Scheer pointed out, “Energy and raw materials are the fundament of our economies,” and “Today, almost all human activity is critically dependent on energy produced from fossil fuels.”

“The resource base is far more fundamental to economic development than questions of political and social order,” he said in “The Solar Economy.” “The old dispute of capitalism versus socialism pales into insignificance before the life-or-death choice of renewable versus non-renewable sources.”

The idea in Germany was that the price paid for solar electricity through feed-in tariffs would decline over time as the industry developed and costs were reduced through economies of scale. In mid-2010, when Germany’s feed-in tariff was trimmed, widespread media reports predicted a crash of the country’s solar industry. Instead, solar installations this year have soared.

Mr. Scheer said in his book that many technological revolutions have reshaped societies throughout history, but none have taken effect without encountering massive resistance.

“The widespread resistance to renewable energy is motivated by fear of the changes this revolution would bring,” he said in his prescient 1999 book, just as California’s energy crisis was setting the stage for the gradual development of a robust solar photovoltaic marketplace in that state.

Mr. Scheer said at the time, when the use of solar power was negligible, that its future emergence as a global economic force stemmed in part from the fact that the sunlight resource is available everywhere to varying degrees. Fossil fuels, accessible only in a limited number of places, have long supply chains from extraction to end use that continue to grow longer.

“Conventional energy sources are assumed to have an economic advantage, whereas renewable energy sources are denounced as a burden that can be borne only in small doses,” Mr. Scheer said in “The Solar Economy.” However, “an examination of the entire supply chain for fossil fuel energy demonstrates that its claim to be more economical is a myth,” he added.

Pentagon officials, while emphasizing the national security benefits of solar energy development, have recently pointed out that it can cost $400 to deliver a gallon of gasoline to a unit in Afghanistan. The toll in lives lost from attacks on fuel convoys is incalculably higher.

A transition to a solar global economy will not be seamless, Mr. Scheer said, but will be like a “roller coaster ride” that eventually affects almost everything. However, like the Industrial Revolution, he predicted that it would unfold gradually, with countries and continents moving at different paces.

Although a dramatic shift to renewable energy will engender fear and resistance, it’s necessary for societies to advance and prosper, the author said.

“Making the groundbreaking transition to an economy based on solar energy and solar resources will do more to safeguard our common future than any other economic development since the Industrial Revolution,” he said.

Source - Solarhbj

Logitech Introduces Solar-Powered Keyboard

Logitech has introduced the Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard K750 - the company's first light-powered keyboard. The Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard powers itself whenever there's light, even indoors, making battery hassles a thing of the past.

"The keyboard is still the best input device for typing emails and IMs, updating your Facebook page or posting responses to your favorite blogs - and the Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard K750 is the next big innovation in keyboard technology," said Denis Pavillard, vice president of product marketing for Logitech's keyboards and desktops.

"The Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard is powered by light but can work in total darkness for up to three months. Plus, with its PVC-free construction and fully recyclable packaging, it's designed to minimize its footprint."

Powered by Light - Even Indoors
To give you hassle-free convenience, the Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard powers itself through its integrated solar panel - no power bricks or charging cables needed.

The included solar power app (available for download beginning Nov. 15, 2010 at features a lux meter to help you get the necessary light, makes it easy to get at-a-glance information about battery levels, and even alerts you when you need more power.

Logitech's first solar keyboard can be powered by indoor light and stays charged for at least three months in total darkness. Plus an integrated power-indicator light eliminates surprises.

Only 1/3-Inch Thick
But Logitech did much more than bring solar power to the keyboard.

At only 1/3-inch thick, the sleek Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard looks good. With its rounded edges and thin profile, this stylish, streamlined keyboard is a joy to hold and behold.

Feel-Good Typing
The low-profile keyboard features Logitech Incurve keys. Using a concave design, Incurve keys support the shape of your fingertips, while helping guide your fingers to the right keys. In addition, the soft, rounded edges make it easy for your fingers to glide from key to key.

Powerful, Reliable Wireless Connection with Logitech Unifying Technology

The Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard K750 offers Logitech Advanced 2.4 GHz wireless connectivity, keeping you connected with virtually no delays or dropouts, so you get all the benefits of a cord, with the convenience of wireless. Logitech Advanced 2.4 wireless also includes 128-bit AES encryption with the keyboard - one of the highest levels of security available.

Plus, the tiny Logitech Unifying receiver is small enough to stay in your laptop, so there's no need to unplug it when you move around. And you can easily add up to six Logitech Unifying and Unifying-ready mice and keyboards - without the hassle of multiple USB receivers.

Source - Solar daily

Sunny Future For Australia's Solar Industry

CSIRO has begun installing 450 large mirrors, called heliostats, for Australia's largest solar-thermal tower system at the CSIRO National Solar Energy
Centre in Newcastle, New South Wales

The heliostats are part of an advanced new solar technology developed by CSIRO and manufactured by Central Coast company, Performance Engineering Group.

By developing such technology CSIRO aims to make solar generated electricity at the same cost or cheaper than fossil fuel generated electricity when the cost of carbon is taken into account.

Creating 2.4 x 1.8m panels of glass mirrors for a solar field is no easy feat. The glass needs to be a specific concave shape to achieve a highly accurate reflection point and strong enough to withstand extreme weather events.

Once installed, the heliostats will concentrate the sun's rays to create temperatures of up to 1000 degrees C.

The heliostats have a lightweight steel frame with a unique, simple design, specially created for mass production for the commercial market. The units are smaller than many heliostats currently being used around the world, but just as efficient, more cost effective and much easier to install.

CSIRO's Energy Transformed Flagship Director, Dr Alex Wonhas, says the economical design of the heliostats will also make solar fields more cost effective to build and operate.

"It's a local idea generated by CSIRO and manufactured by a local company, which will have global impact," Dr Wonhas said.

"We hope that one day we will see these economical heliostats used in solar fields all over Australia and the world."

Performance Engineering's Managing Director, Jon Priddle, says high quality heliostats will one day be mass-produced in Australia.

"We have a unique capability at Performance," Mr Priddle said. "We are using our expertise in automotive manufacturing - an industry geared for mass production - to create the most efficient manufacturing process.

"In addition, we are using a laser tracker developed for the aerospace industry to measure the accuracy of the heliostats. Accuracy and efficiency are the key outcomes for our production line."

The heliostat field is part of CSIRO's new solar Brayton Cycle project - a solar tower and field that generates electricity from just the air and sun.

Source - Solardaily

South Africa unveils plans for 'world's biggest' solar power प्लांट

South Africa is to unveil plans this week for what it claims will be the world's biggest solar power plant – a radical step in a coal-dependent country where one in six people still lacks electricity.

The project, expected to cost up to 200bn rand (£18.42bn), would aim by the end of its first decade to achieve an annual output of five gigawatts (GW) of electricity - currently one-tenth of South Africa's energy needs.

Giant mirrors and solar panels would be spread across the Northern Cape province, which the government says is among the sunniest 3% of regions in the world with minimal cloud or rain.

The government hopes the solar park will help reduce carbon emissions from Africa's biggest economy, which is still more than 90% dependent on coal-fired power stations. In April, the World Bank came in for sharp criticism from environmentalists for approving a $3.75bn (£2.37bn) loan to build one of the world's largest coal-fired power plants in the country.

Energy is already a high priority in South Africa where, at the end of racial apartheid, less than 40% of households had electricity. Over 16 years the governing African National Congress has undertaken a huge national expansion, with a recent survey showing that 83% are now connected, but power outages are still not uncommon in both townships and middle-class suburbs.

An estimated 200 foreign and domestic investors will meet this week in Upington, Northern Cape, with a view to funding the hugely ambitious solar project. A master plan will be set out by the US engineering and construction group Fluor. This follows a viability study by the Clinton Climate Initiative, which described South Africa's "solar resource" as among the best in the world.

Jonathan de Vries, the project manager, said today: "I'd hate to make a large claim but yes, this would be the biggest solar park in the world."

De Vries said the park, costing 150-200bn rand, would aim to be contributing to the national grid by the end of 2012. In the initial phase it would produce 1,000 megawatts, or 1GW, using a mix of the latest solar technologies.

An initial 9,000 hectares of state-owned land have been earmarked for the park, with further sites in the "solar corridor" being explored.

De Vries, a special adviser to the energy minister, said the Northern Cape had been chosen for insolation readings (a measure of solar energy) that rank among the highest in the world. "It hardly ever rains, it hardly has clouds. It's even better than the Sahara desert because it doesn't have sandstorms."

The Orange River would provide water for the facilities, he added, while existing power transmission lines would be closer than for similar projects such as in Australia.

Northern Cape, which contains the historic diamond-rush town, Kimberley, is South Africa's biggest province and one of its poorest. But it is hoped that the park would create a "solar hub" and regenerate the local economy with fresh opportunities in manufacturing.

South Africa currently consumes 45-48GW of power per year. It is estimated this will double over the next 25 years. "In South Africa over 90% of our power comes from the burning of coal and we need to reduce this because of our international obligations on climate change," de Vries said.

"If this proves to be cost competitive with coal and nuclear, the government will roll out more solar parks. This is a very bold attempt."

He added: "Solar power isn't a panacea that will cure all but it's a part of the solution, and a very important part. There are zones in the world that are ideally suited to it, often those with low population density."

Source - guardian

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Conditional Federal Loan Guarantees For Abengoa Solar

President Obama has announced in his weekly video address that DOE has offered a conditional commitment for a $1.45 billion loan guarantee to Abengoa Solar, Inc. The loan will support the construction and start-up of Solana, a 250 net megawatt (MW) concentrating solar power (CSP) plant in Arizona.

"After years of watching companies build things and create jobs overseas, it's good news that we've attracted a company to our shores to build a plant and create jobs here in America," said President Obama.

Solana will include six hours of molten salt thermal energy storage capability, which will allow energy to be dispatched as needed during cloudy periods and after sunset. With this capability, Solana will be able to generate electricity well into the evening to help meet the summer peak demand.

The plant will be located 70 miles southwest of Phoenix, near Gila Bend, Arizona. Solana will produce enough energy to serve 70,000 households and will prevent the emission of 475,000 tons of CO2 per year compared to a natural gas burning power plant.

DOE's Title XVII Loan Guarantee Program was created to support the deployment of innovative clean energy technologies pursuant to Section 1703 of Title XVII of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (Title XVII).

Title XVII of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 was amended by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to create Section 1705, a new program for the deployment of renewable energy and electric power transmission projects. Solana is eligible for a loan guarantee under both sections of Title XVII.

Santiago Seage, CEO of Abengoa Solar, said that "this conditional guarantee could allow us to start construction of Solana this year. I want to recognize the leadership and effort of the DOE in making Solana possible through this guarantee."

Mr. Seage also added that Solana is in a very advanced stage of development and permitting, having received most of its authorizations from local, county, and state authorities. Recently, DOE conducted an Environmental Assessment study and issued a finding of no significant impact (FONSI) for the project.

"What the project needs now is for Maricopa County and the state to continue their support and work expeditiously on the last remaining permits needed for construction to begin," said Abengoa Solar's Seage.

The construction and operation of Solana will bring many economic and environmental benefits to Arizona and will support the nation's goals for energy independence through a "green" economy. The plant will create significant tax income for local communities and the state over the life of the project.

Abengoa Solar's Arizona Vice President Kate Maracas stated that "the building of Solana will also create between 1,600-1,700 new construction jobs, and operation of the plant will add another 85 permanent jobs. These construction and operating jobs will create a few thousand additional indirect jobs.

Taken together, 98% of the jobs created by Solana will be American jobs - primarily from Arizona, and a smaller portion from neighboring states."

Abengoa Solar signed a power purchase agreement with APS, the state's largest electric utility, to sell the energy produced by Solana for a period of 30 years. "APS has demonstrated a strong commitment to solar energy and has shown leadership in moving solar energy toward the mainstream," said Maracas.

Abengoa Solar has made it a priority to utilize U.S.-made components wherever possible for the Solana plant. More than 75% of the equipment and supplies required to build Solana will be manufactured in the U.S. These include steam generators, heat exchangers, power equipment, glass, steel, concrete and other construction materials.

As a direct consequence of the construction of Solana, a mirror manufacturing factory will be built in Surprise, Arizona. The mirror factory will employ almost 180 people, adding to the number of direct jobs created by Solana. This new facility will provide Arizona with the foundation upon which to expand its solar energy technology manufacturing capabilities and to support future CSP projects.

From an environmental perspective, Solana will provide Arizonans with clean, pollution-free and greenhouse gas free energy while, at the same time reducing Arizona's need for fossil fuel based generation facilities, eliminating the emission of nearly a half-million tons of carbon dioxide per year.

These reductions will contribute to state goals for renewable energy deployment as well as national targets for climate change abatement.

In late 2009 Abengoa Solar signed a power purchase agreement in California to supply electricity generated by a 250 MW CSP trough plant located in the Mojave Desert, 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles. The company also has several projects under development in the Southwest.

Abengoa Solar is currently building 350 MW of solar plants worldwide, and with an additional 142 MW already operating, it is the only company worldwide building and operating both trough and power tower CSP plants. The Solana plant will be Abengoa Solar's tenth CSP plant worldwide.

Source - Solar Daily

Solar Powered Agriculture Pump System

The Power-Save Energy Company has announced a contract from California Power-Save to supply a complete photovoltaic solar system for installation on an Agriculture Water Pump System in Shasta County California.

Power-Save Energy Co. will supply all the solar equipment and CA Power-Save will be installing this 32.725 kW solar array. This specific contract is worth $194,423.00.

This project is significant to Power-Save Energy Co. in that it furthers the company's pursuit of larger commercial projects. This agriculture installation has been funded through an agricultural grant of $48,500.00, a Pacific Gas and Electric rebate of $26,000.00, and a Federal Tax Grant o\f $55,000.00.

The customer will save approximately $10,000.00 per year in electrical costs to pump water and have a ROI of approximately 7 years.

Chris Frye, Owner of CA Power-Save, stated, "This is a fantastic opportunity for CA Power-Save to design, engineer and install a solar array for agricultural purposes. This represents yet another example of how implementation of renewable energy can increase profits for businesses across America when adequate financing and incentives are in place.

Michael Forster, Power-Save Energy Company CEO also stated, "We will certainly take this system, and the way it was funded and market aggressively to farmers across America. This solar system combined with creative applications for funding makes so much sense for the Agricultural Community that we at Power-Save feel very strongly that this may become another growth aspect of the solar business."

Source - Solar Daily

Solar-powered plane lands safely after 26-hour flight

An experimental solar-powered aircraft launched on Wednesday has landed safely in Switzerland after successfully flying through the night.

The feat is a step toward the makers' aim of circling the globe using the power of the Sun to fuel the plane.

The aircraft used super-efficient solar cells and batteries to stay in the air after the Sun's rays had faded.

The plane touched down at an airfield about 30 miles (50 km) from the Swiss capital Bern at 0900 (0700 GMT).

The plane landed at Payerne airport after a total flight time of 26 hours.

During the flight it reached a height of 8,700 m (28,543 ft).

Assistants rushed to stabilise the experimental aircraft as it touched down, ensuring that its huge 63m (207ft) wingspan did not scrape the ground and topple the plane.

It is the longest and highest flight recorded by a solar-powered plane.

The four-engine aircraft was steered by Andre Borschberg, a former fighter jet pilot from Switzerland.

The plane has 12,000 solar cells arranged on its wingspan which collected enough energy to power the plane for the flight.
'Perpetual flight'

Previous flights of Solar Impulse have included a brief "flea hop" and a longer airborne test earlier this year. But this week's attempt was described as a "milestone" by the team.

The designers, the Solar Impulse team led by Mr Borschberg and fellow aviator Bertrand Piccard, say that this proves that a plane can be kept in the air around the clock.
Continue reading the main story

Nothing can prevent us from another day and night, and the myth of perpetual flight

"It's the first time ever that a [manned] solar airplane has flown through the night," Mr Piccard told journalists.

"That was the moment that proved the mission was successful, we made it."

The plane emerged from the darkness of night with three hours power remaining in its batteries, more than had been expected.

"Nothing can prevent us from another day and night, and the myth of perpetual flight."

The team will now build a new, more advanced, model of the plane.

They aim to circumnavigate the globe by 2013.

Source - The BBC

Monday, 5 July 2010

London, United Kingdom: British Gas to Give Free Solar Panels to British Schools

British Gas is to make £15 million available for investment in solar technology for the nation's schools. The company will donate and install solar panels - worth between 20,000 and 40,000 pounds per school - in up to 750 schools. Each school will be able to generate its own free, green electricity, cutting as much as 20% off its annual electricity bill.

The energy produced by the panels is anticipated to create around 1.3m pounds per year for the next 25 years. This will be reinvested in installing solar panels on yet more schools. This means that, in the next five years alone, British Gas could install free solar panels on a total of 1,100 schools. The panels will also help the selected schools to meet their carbon reduction targets, reducing emissions by up to 1,400 tonnes per year, equivalent to taking almost 400 cars off the road.

The schools receiving solar panels will receive a British Gas smart meter, offering real time information so pupils can see the difference their solar panels are making. Specially created Generation Green lesson plans will help teachers engage their pupils in learning about renewable energy, and schools will be able to track their performance against others and share tips and advice via a specially designed website.

All schools in the UK can register for an application form at British Gas has already earmarked half of the total investment to ensure that schools in low income areas benefit from the initiative, and intends to deliver the technology to these schools in conjunction with the Government's Community Energy Saving Programme (CESP).

Phil Bentley, Managing Director, British Gas, said: "This is the biggest investment of its kind in solar technology for our nation's schools, which will help them cut both their carbon emissions and their electricity bills - as well as learn about renewable energy in a hands-on way.

"The electricity generated by these schools will help pay for the scheme to be extended to even more schools throughout the country, which is great news for school leaders, parents and pupils who are all looking for ways to save money during these tough economic times."

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said: "This is a very generous offer and I'm sure many schools will feel they can benefit from solar panels. Cutting down on energy costs and reducing carbon emissions are absolutely the right thing to do. It's a valuable lesson for pupils that we can all help to use energy sparingly, and where possible, generate it from sustainable or renewable resources."

Based on a formula created by the University of Bath's Centre for Research in Education and the Environment to measure the impact that teachers can have beyond the classroom, up to 1.8 million parents and family members could learn about renewable energy as a result of the initiative.

Source - British Gas

Obama announces $2billion of Government solar funding

US president Barack Obama used his Independence Day holiday address to announce nearly $2billion worth of funding for the solar industry.

The funding from, the Department of Energy's Recovery Act, will go to two solar companies.

The furst, Abengoa Solar, has agreed to build, what Mr Obama says will be 'one of the largest' solar plants in the world in Arizona, which will also create about 1,600 construction jobs.

Once completed, the Arizona plant will be the first large-scale solar plant in the US to actually store the energy it generates for later use - even at night, and it will generate enough clean, renewable energy to power 70,000 homes.

The second firm Abound Solar Manufacturing is building two new plants, one in
Colorado and a second in Indiana - in what's currently an empty Chrysler factory.

When fully operational, these plants will produce millions of state-of-the-art solar panels each year.

Mr Obama said: "After years of watching companies build things and create jobs overseas, it's good news that we've attracted a company to our shores to build a plant and create jobs right here in America.

"I've seen once-shuttered factories humming with new workers who are building solar panels and wind turbines; rolling up their sleeves to help America win the race for the clean energy economy.

"So that's some of what we're doing, but the truth is, steps like these won't replace all the jobs we've lost overnight.

"I know folks are struggling. I know this Fourth of July weekend finds many Americans wishing things were a bit easier right now. I do too."

Source - Edie

Solar power could create fuel for cars

Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could soon be used to create fuel to drive the word's cars and trucks, a U.S. researcher says.

Solar-powered technology could be used to "photosynthesize" hydrocarbon fuels that present-day vehicles could run on without major modifications, The Daily Telegraph reported Friday.

Solar reactors can take carbon dioxide and turn it into carbon monoxide and can also turn water into hydrogen
and oxygen.

The results can react with a catalyst to form hydrocarbon fuels, in a technique known as the Fischer-Tropsch process.

Tests have been conducted with solar reactors in New Mexico and Zurich, Switzerland.

Using solar energy to create usable fuel is a possible way to satisfy the world's energy demands while minimizing carbon emissions, Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution told Britain's New Scientist magazine.

"This area holds out the promise for technologies that can produce large amounts of carbon-neutral power at affordable prices, which can be used where and when that power is needed," he said.

Source - Solar Daily

A Sunny Legacy In Africa

Yingli Green Energy
Holding Company Limited has announced that it will provide its expertise in solar energy to power "20 Centres for 2010", the official campaign of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa.

This campaign is part of the Football for Hope movement, which is using the power of the game for positive social change. It is led by FIFA, world's football governing body, and streetfootballworld, a social profit organisation that links relevant actors in the field of development through football, and their affiliates such as Yingli Green Energy.

Yingli Green Energy will actively support the campaign by providing solar power to training centres across Africa. Yingli Solar calls this "Football for Hope. Energy for Hope."

The company will supply the centres with solar installations that will, for instance, power pitch lighting, computers or study rooms in those centres. Of the 20 centres, five are being built in South Africa and 15 in other African countries. The first six centres to be built are located in South Africa, Kenya, Rwanda, Mali, Namibia and Ghana.

"The FIFA World Cup offers an ideal opportunity for Yingli Solar to be involved with Football for Hope and to support the '20 Centres for 2010' project with highly desired solar power," Liansheng Miao, chairman and chief executive officer of Yingli Green Energy, commented.

"Social responsibility is an important pillar of Yingli Green Energy's core values. We are engaged in a variety of community-focused projects around the world - aiming to make solar power a sustainable and cost-effective energy for the world."

Federico Addiechi, FIFA's Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, said: "We are extremely pleased that Yingli Solar is not only a sponsor of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, but also a strong supporter of the Football for Hope movement and, in particular, of '20 Centres for 2010' by offering its expertise in renewable energy. We want to commend Yingli Solar on their commitment to helping us build a better future, which is a fundamental pillar of our organisation. This is truly the beginning of a sunny legacy in Africa."

Source - solar daily

Tuesday, 29 June 2010


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Monday, 31 May 2010

Solar power for Europe from North Africa

North Africa has the potential to become a significant exporter of electricity to Europe from solar energy projects according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Solar power for Europe from North Africa
Recently, France has launched a new project, TransGreen, to build an underwater network for Electrical transmission cables from North Africa to Europe.

Earlier this year, a German consortium launched the mega-project "Desertec" that plans to use solar power in the Sahara to generate electricity for Europe.

Is the TransGreen Project a Competitive or a complementary project to Desertec? 

The TransGreen project has been introduced at the May 25 Cairo meeting of energy ministers from the 43 countries. Participants discussed the formation of a consortium to install electrical lines connecting Europe to North of Africa.

The project TransGreen, aims to bring together power companies, network operators and high-tension equipment makers under the leadership of French energy giant EDF. The German industrial and engineering group Siemens, which is already part of Desertec, may also join TransGreen.

Currently, only a dual AC line with a capacity of 1,400 megawatts across the Mediterranean, under the Strait of Gibraltar between Morocco and Spain.

At the end of May, the Transgreen consortium plans to launch the first phase, a €5 million study phase before the building of the actual lines. Many companies have already agreed to contribute to this first step.

In addition to this financial advantage, the Transgreen project offers obviously a nice reference for similar future projects in China and India, which has undoubtedly been at least as convincing for Siemens, ABB, Alstom/Areva, Nexans, Prysmian, Cap Gemini or Atos Origin.

Solar energy could supply up to a quarter of the world’s electricity by 2050. Solar plants would harvest sunlight from fields of reflectors to boil water and drive steam turbines. The region’s “high solar resource largely compensates for the additional cost of long transmission lines” beneath the Mediterranean Sea.

Desertec aims to deliver 15 per cent of Europe’s power requirements by 2050 as the EU seeks to reduce its carbon emissions, in part by reducing consumption of electricity generated by burning fossil fuels. The MENA-region countries hoping to export power to Europe include Mediterranean nations such as Morocco and Algeria, Egypt as well as Saudi Arabia.

The Sahara, in North Africa, has the biggest Uninhabited Areas in the World, particularly well exposed to the Sun, which could boost Economies of Scale for a Big Solar Energy Production Network linked to the EU from Spain (via Gibraltar), up to Greece (via Crete) and Cyprus, as well as Italy (via Malta and Sicilia), France (via Sardaigne and Corsica), etc.

From the outset, the TransGreen project, sponsored by France, looks like a competitor to Desertec, a project initiated by German companies. However, The French group Saint-Gobain is actually part of the project Desertec, Siemens, the giant German electrical, engineering and electronics company is said to be joining the TransGreen consortium. Instead, one project (TransGreen) will deliver to Europe, part of the energy generated by the other (Desertec) project.

Source - IEA