Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Japan's solar power capacity more than doubles in 2009

Solar power capacity in Japan rose to 483,960 kilowatts in 2009, 2.1 times more than the 2008 total, according to the Japan Photovoltaic Energy Association (JPEA).

The new total -- based on shipments of solar energy systems -- marked a record jump in the nation's installed solar power base, with the previous highest increase coming in 2005.

The growth in solar power can be traced to both national and local body support for installing solar power systems, and feed-in tariffs through which households with solar power systems can sell surplus energy back to the electric grid. With both installation subsidies and feed-in tariff systems continuing, 2010 also looks to be a good year for solar power growth.

Some 88.6 percent of solar battery shipments in 2009 were for home systems, and the new installations cover the power needs of more than 100,000 households at normal consumption rates. Installations by governments and companies also increased sharply compared to 2008, with public bodies raising their solar capacity by between 55.9 and 83 percent, and the private sector by 37.5 percent.

Solar power system shipments reached their previous peak in 2005 before government subsidies for installations were cut, and solar power capacity growth had been sluggish since. However, the government reinstated subsidies in January 2009 as both an environmental measure and to stimulate the faltering economy.

Including support from local governing bodies, subsidies can cover 30-50 percent of the more than 2 million yen cost of installing a solar power system. Meanwhile, in November electric companies began buying excess power from households with solar systems installed at twice the normal consumer rate, spurring sudden demand for solar panels.

Source - Mainichi Daily News

Government delivers raw deal for solar thermal industry

Today the Solar Trade Association welcomed the announcements by Ed Milliband regarding solar energy, but expressed disappointment that the proposed rate of investment will be lower than that for other green energy technologies.

The announcements today are intended to shift consumers towards the use of green energy technologies. Ed Milliband indicated today that householders installing low carbon electricity such as Photovoltaics will receive a feed-in tariff of 5–8% of their total initial investment for up to 25 years. Similarly, he announced the Renewable Heat Incentive to commence in 2011 to provide guaranteed income to householders installing renewable heat technologies.

The STA welcomed these bold steps to embrace and extend the use of renewable technologies, but were disappointed that solar thermal technologies were singled out to receive a rate of return half that planned for other renewable heat energy sources. The STA outlined their belief that this has been driven by a lack of understanding of solar energy per se and a similar lack of ambition for progressing solar solutions.

Howard Johns, Chairman of the Solar Trade Association said: “It is extremely disappointing that despite numerous discussions with Ministers and civil servants during the last year they patently do not recognize the huge opportunities for solar thermal in the UK. It is the only zero carbon heat technology available and has yet again been underestimated by the policy makers. There are in excess of 100,000 of these systems out there already, far more than any other renewable heat technology. We will be urgently seeking meetings with DECC to express the concerns of our members who have invested heavily in order to grow the market and are yet again not being recognized.”

Solar thermal systems within homes have the potential to provide very low cost hot water and heating. The scheme announced today will provide an income stream for householders, but in the view of the STA does not place all renewable energy technologies on a level playing field.

Source - Solaruknews

EDF plans solar-power plant at Euro Disney, Paris

Energy company EDF plans to build France's biggest solar-power plant at the Euro Disney theme park resort on the outskirts of Paris. A sweeping structure would see solar cells cover huge canopies built above Euro Disney's 11,000-space car park, which is one of the biggest in Europe.

The canopies could also collect rainwater to reduce Euro Disney's water consumption, and the solar energy they generate would be used on-site or sold back into the grid.

"It is a very interesting project," says EDF spokeswoman Marilys Dubernet, and it could help reduce Euro Disney's €1.2bn (£1bn) annual running cost. This pushed the company to a €63m net loss last year. Earlier this month it announced that revenue for the first quarter of 2010 was down 11 per cent year-on-year to €292m.

But it will take more than the wave of a magic wand to pull off this plan to build what would be one of the biggest solar plants in Europe. Ms Dubernet says the project is still at the "first stage of development".

Euro Disney already has an agreement with EDF to buy 15 per cent of its electricity from renewable energy sources, and some of its rides run on natural gas. EDF's magic touch would help to reduce the carbon emissions from the 64 per cent of its 15.4 million guests who arrive by car or bus.

Source - The Independent

Record solar plane's first 'hop'

The Solar Impulse prototype plane, part of a planned solar-powered circumnavigation of the globe, has left the ground for the first time.

The maiden flight was dubbed a "flea hop" by project leaders, at 350m in length and a height of just one metre.

The plane will now be transported to a different airfield for a flight of a few hours in March.

The final version of the plane will attempt a transatlantic flight in 2012 prior to the round-the-world trip.

The prototype first ventured outside a hangar in November, with a range of on-the-ground tests and a run-up of the plane's motors.
Solar Impulse plane

Thursday's flight, with test pilot Markus Scherdel at the controls, was the first time the plane had been brought to takeoff speed.

"The airplane flew the way we have experienced it in the simulators," said Bertrand Piccard, a founder of Solar Impulse and the first person to carry out a round-the-world balloon flight.

"That's of course a very big comfort for all the engineers who've worked for six years to build this airplane."

The next flight, at the Payerne air force airfield in western Switzerland, will see the plane reach an altitude of nearly 9,000m.

Only after this flight will the plane make its first "solar flight" - that is, powered by the solar generators rather than the on-board batteries.

The team plans a flight of a full day and night in the summer of 2010, building up to a transatlantic flight in small steps as the crew ensure the plane's behaviour is well-understood.

"It's a completely new flight domain," said Dr Piccard.

"It's the first time in the history of aviation that an airplane so big and so light using so little energy gets in the air - basically everything is new."

Source - BBC

Suntech Energizes Schools In Lebanon's Largest Solar Initiative

Suntech Power Holdings recently supplied solar panels for 19 remote schools in Lebanon working with local partner and Lebanese integrator Asaco General Trade and Contracting.

Sponsored and facilitated by the Country Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Demonstration Project for the Recovery of Lebanon (CEDRO), established through the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the combined systems represent the largest solar initiative in Lebanon.

"Suntech is proud to support this initiative," said Nader Jandaghi, Suntech's Director of Middle East. "CEDRO's adoption of solar power for these schools will brighten the lives and enhance the learning of children who will define Lebanon's future. Together, we want to power a world where everyone has direct and dependable access to nature's most abundant energy resource."

Because of the locations of the schools in rural villages spread across the Bekaa Valley and Northern Lebanon, grid power can be intermittent and unreliable. In the past, teachers and administrators at these 19 schools have persevered through the blackouts; now they will be able to rely on the sun to provide classroom and library lighting as well as reliable access to a computer or fax/copy machine. Integrator Asaco designed custom systems using Suntech solar modules for each of the 19 schools, with power outputs ranging from 1.2kWp to 1.8kWp.

"This is the largest set of solar projects in Lebanon to date - not only in terms of power output but also because of the large number of sites spread across the country," said Mr. Ramzi AbuSaid, CEO of Asaco.

"CEDRO set reasonable and challenging system design objectives. We had to integrate several power sources at each site, including grid power, the solar systems
, and even diesel generators in some cases, and leverage each of their attributes to ensure that the schools have dependable power at all times. Each power system is very efficient and takes maximum advantage of the clean electricity generated through Suntech's high-performing solar modules."

"For more than 20 years, and ever since the war, electrical power failure in the public grid has been a chronic problem for us," explained Joseph Nakleh, Principal of the Anna Intermediate Public School. "We experienced blackouts on average for six to twelve hours each day. As a public school, we didn't have the budget to fund an alternative power source
, so over time we adapted to the frequent grid power failures. Unfortunately, this was affecting the quality of educational services that we strive to provide our students. The new system is not only an excellent solution since it finally solved our electricity issues, but it will serve as a tangible, everlasting example for our students about the good uses of green power."

Source - Solar Daily

T-Solar And Solarpack Sell Solar Energy To Peru

Spanish T-Solar and Solarpack have been awarded the Peruvian Government's contract for the annual supply of 173 GWh of PV energy
over a period of 20 years. T-Solar's installed capacity makes it one of the biggest photovoltaic (PV) power generators
in the world, and Solarpack is a pioneer in the development, construction and maintenance of photovoltaic projects.

To supply the 173 GWh, T-Solar and Solarpack will be jointly developing four 20-MW photovoltaic plants. Two of these will be developed and run by T-Solar (Majes Solar
20T and Repartición Solar 20T) and the other two (Tacna Solar 20T and Panamericana Solar 20TS) by SolarPack in consortium with T-Solar.

The four PV plants must be in operation before 30th June 2012. They will be located in the south of Peru, in the regions of Tacna, Arequipa and Moquegua, which have a high average annual irradiation of 2,300 KWh/m2.

According to the resolution of this first tender for power supply using renewable energy resources (RER), the electricity generated by the four plants will be bought by the national grid system (SEIN) in Peru at a guaranteed price over 20 years.

The award of the PV power tendered in this auction is an important operation for T-Solar in the Americas. According to T-Solar's CEO, Juan Laso, the company wanted to participate in this process because "the project looks good, as there is high solar irradiation in these areas and the conditions in Peru are attractive, an investment-grade country with political and economic stability."Juan Laso says that this award "increases T-Solar's backlog under development, which now comprises over 650 MW".

This contract enables Solarpack to consolidate its operations in South America, where the company is already one of the biggest developers specialising in photovoltaic (PV) solar energy. From its subsidiary in Chile, Solarpack is spearheading the implementation of projects such as the "Calama Solar 1" plant, which is the first multi-megawatt solar plant with an environmental licence in the entire South-American continent. Pablo Burgos, Solarpack's general manager, states that "our upfront, innovative wager on this market is bearing fruit even earlier than we expected."

Source - Solar Daily