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