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.

Related Articles

New nuclear plants could add £300 to energy bills
The cost to every household of subsidising energy generation by wind farms
The Chris Huhne interview
Home improvements: polycarbonate roofs
Spending Review: what it means for the Environment and Climate Change
Green property: George Clarke's top 20 ways to make your home eco-friendly

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