Saturday, 19 March 2011

Government to slash subsidies for solar power

The Government plans to slash subsidies for large-scale solar installations to divert money to smaller alternative energy projects, in a move that the industry has called a “horrendous strategic mistake”.

A review of the Feed-in Tariffs was announced in February, in response to concerns that large solar projects would soak up the available subsidy at the expense of other technologies. This followed a study that showed there could already be 169 megawatts of large-scale solar capacity in the planning system - equivalent to funding solar panels on the roofs of around 50,000 homes if tariffs were left unchanged.

Greg Barker, climate change minister, said: “I want to make sure that we capture the benefits of fast falling costs in solar technology to allow even more homes to benefit from Feed-in Tariffs, rather than see that money go in bumper profits to a small number of big investors.”

However, the Renewable Energy Association & Solar Trade Association said that the government was making a mistake. “There is disbelief within the industry that the Government has totally undermined the solar sector without having first properly understood its potential,” the trade body said.

The proposals, published on Friday, would reduce the tariff for roof-mounted schemes of more than 50 kilowatts by 39pc to 49pc and the tariff for stand-alone schemes may be reduced by more than 70pc.

Source - Telegraph

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Blow to companies over solar power subsidies

Solar companies have warned of "massive uncertainty" hanging over the market, after the Government said it would review subsidies for renewable electricity.

The subsidies, called feed-in tarrifs, were intended as a way to pay householders above market rates to generate electricity from solar panels and small wind turbines on their roofs. However, large-scale "photovoltaic farms" have been springing up all over the countryside to take advantage of the generous offer. It was revealed in The Telegraph that the Government was ready to act against "hot money and speculators" soaking up much of the £360m subsidies.

Announcing the review, Chris Huhne, the Energy Secretary, said: "Large-scale solar installations weren't anticipated under the scheme we inherited and I'm concerned this could mean that money meant for people who want to produce their own green electricity has the potential to be directed towards large-scale commercial solar projects."

However, companies are concerned that without government subsidies for large-scale farms, it will be difficult to move the industry beyond an early-stage technology into profitability.

Gaynor Hartnell, chief executive of the Renewable Energy Association, said constraining the scheme "goes against the growth agenda".

"Non-domestic and community schemes have a vital role to play in the cost-effective and sensible development of the UK photovoltaic industry. Many investors stand to lose out. I fear this announcement reflects the generally poor levels of ambition for photovoltaic in the UK and will adversely affect our ability to attract much-needed future investment in other low-carbon technologies."

Source - Telegraph

Beverly Hills Goes Solar

The solar dedication and ribbon-cutting event for the new solar installations serving the city of Beverly Hills was on held March 1 at Room 280A of the City Hall at 455 Rexford Drive, Beverly Hills.

Multiple public buildings in the City of Beverly Hills Civic Center Complex will soon be generating clean power via a solar system thanks to the expertise of installer Sun Light and Power. Particulate attention was given to analyzing the city's budget, energy loads and the newest programs offered by Southern California Edison in order to create the most savings from the available space.

The approximately 450 kW DC system design that was chosen is comprised of over 1,600 Suntech modules and will be mounted on three separate structures: the main library, police station and the Civic Center parking carport structure. The installation sites include retrofits for the library and police station arrays and a new steel structure for the Civic Center parking garage.

Beverly Hills chooses solar modules that will be recycled
Working with Sun Light and Power, the City of Beverly Hills chose Suntech modules for these buildings for good, green reasons. Suntech recently opened a manufacturing facility in Arizona, which provides for American jobs and significantly reduces the module transportation footprint.

Unlike some solar modules, Suntech modules are made without Cadmium. Perhaps even more significantly, Suntech is making a focused effort to insure that their modules do not become a toxic or hazardous waste burden at the end of their 25 + years productive life cycle.

Unlike some solar modules, Suntech modules do not contain any Cadmium. Rather than disposal into our overburdened landfills, Suntech has developed a Recycling Program with a 100% take back policy. At the end of the system's useful life Suntech will take back the modules at any of their U.S. warehouses.

Offsetting 453 metric tons of CO2 while reducing the Civic Center's operating costs
The system is expected to produce approximately 630,272 kWh of electricity every year. That is electricity the City will not have to buy, so those other funds can be used for other civic projects.

In addition it will offset approximately 453 metric tons of CO2 equal to the emissions of 87 cars or the electricity for 40 average homes.

Once completed this system will significantly reduce the City's Civic Center's operating costs and will be a visible example of civic fiscal and environmental responsibility. A Data Acquisition System will track and report production.

A monitor will be mounted in the library or in city hall to show what the system is producing at the moment, daily, weekly, yearly, and over its lifetime. The monitor will become a valuable educational tool for interested citizens.

Source - Solar Daily

Solar Powered Lights Selected For Popular City Bike Path

Carmanah Technologies is pleased to announce that the City of Los Angeles has selected Carmanah EverGEN 1710 solar powered lights to light a popular bicycle path. The EverGEN 1710 was selected because of the customizable operating profiles the systems offers which allow the City to more closely deliver light on the path when people are actually using it.

The total project is valued at approximately $500,000 (USD).

The bike path was previously lit using traditional grid-powered AC HID fixtures. However due to a reoccurring issue of copper theft, the trail was often left in the dark. Officials at the City of Los Angeles were concerned with providing lighting for security and usability purposes, but did not want to continually have to replace stolen copper wire.

Working together with local lighting agent, David Silverman and Associates and Carmanah, The City discovered that solar powered lights were the ideal solution.

According to Kerney Marine, Los Angeles City Project Manager, "The Carmanah EverGEN lights offered us exactly what we needed. The systems put out light levels that meet the IES specified lighting requirements, and the integrated design with all the electronics, batteries, solar panels, and luminaire at the top of the pole makes the systems very theft resistant. We will be using a variety of different operating profiles along the entire stretch of the bike path to deliver the required light where and when needed, so people can continue to enjoy the space safely."

Ted Lattimore, CEO of Carmanah stated, "The City of Los Angeles is a leader in the deployment of energy efficient lighting technologies. They previously have demonstrated their commitment and leadership to energy efficiency by using hardwired LED lights from such companies as BETA Led. With the installation of the EverGEN 1710 systems along the bike path, they are expanding their "lead-by-example" behaviour into the solar lighting realm."

Source - Solar Daily

Auckland to trial solar power

Auckland is looking to put in place the country's largest solar power incentive scheme to move the city away from dependence on the Huntly thermal power station.

The Auckland Council's Environment and Sustainability Forum looks set, this week, to approve a pilot scheme which will see the installation of 250 solar hot water heating systems in homes across the city, fitted with systems which will monitor usage.

As part of the pilot, there would be review of compliance, financing and best practice of installation of solar power in the city.

Any incentive scheme would be dependant on the outcome of the pilot.

Mayor Len Brown requested the investigation of opportunities for solar energy provision as part of his 100 projects in his first 100 days in office.

The project fits in with the Economic Development Ministry's updated 2010 Energy Outlook which projects that 83 percent of New Zealand's electricity generation will be from renewable sources by 2030.

According to an agenda for the forum, in the past decade there have only been 275 solar hot water systems installed on average per year in Auckland - less than 10 percent of the number of systems installed annually in New Zealand.

The pilot scheme follows the success of a similar project in Nelson which saw an increased investment in solar power businesses.

The Nelson scheme saw the households involved make an average saving of 75 percent saving on hot water bills and an average of $500 of annual electricity savings.

Source - Auckland News

Solar Power Systems Could Lighten The Load For British Soldiers

A revolutionary type of personal power pack now in development could help our troops when they are engaged on the battlefield. With the aim of being up to fifty per cent lighter than conventional chemical battery packs used by British infantry, the solar and thermoelectric-powered system could make an important contribution to future military operations.

The project is being developed by the University of Glasgow with Loughborough, Strathclyde, Leeds, Reading and Brunel Universities, with funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). It is also supported by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl).

The system's innovative combination of solar photovoltaic (PV) cells*, thermoelectric devices** and leading-edge energy storage technology will provide a reliable power supply round-the-clock, just like a normal battery pack. The team is also investigating ways of managing, storing and utilising heat produced by the system.

Because it is much lighter, the system will improve soldiers' mobility. Moreover, by eliminating the need to return to base regularly to recharge batteries, it will increase the potential range and duration of infantry operations. It will also absorb energy across the electromagnetic spectrum, making infantry less liable to detection by night vision equipment that uses infra-red technology, for instance.

Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said: "The armed forces often need to carry around a huge amount of kit and the means to power it. It's great that specialists from a range of science disciplines are coming together to develop lighter, more reliable technology that will help to make life easier for them in the field."

Although substantial research into solar power for soldiers has already been conducted worldwide, this new UK project differs in its use of thermoelectric devices to complement solar cells, delivering genuine 24/7 power generation capability. The project team is also investigating how both types of device could actually be woven into soldiers' battle dress, which has never been done before***.

During the day, the solar cells will produce electricity to power equipment. During the night, the thermoelectric devices will take over and perform the same function. The system will also incorporate advanced energy storage devices to ensure electricity is always available on a continuous basis.

"Infantry need electricity for weapons, radios, global positioning systems and many other vital pieces of equipment," says Professor Duncan Gregory of the University of Glasgow. "Batteries can account for over ten per cent of the 45-70kg of equipment that infantry currently carry. By aiding efficiency and comfort, the new system could play a valuable role in ensuring the effectiveness of army operations."

PV cells, thermoelectric devices and advanced energy storage devices are already widely used in a range of applications. A key aim of the project team, however, is to produce robust, hard-wearing designs specifically for military use in tough, hostile conditions.

Because it will harness clean, free energy sources, the new power system will also offer significant environmental advantages compared with the conventional battery packs currently used by the British army.

To tackle the many challenges that the project presents, the team includes specialists from a wide range of disciplines including chemistry, materials science, process engineering, electrical engineering and design. Feedback from serving soldiers will also play a crucial role in optimising the power system for front-line use.

"We aim to produce a prototype system within two years," says Professor Gregory. "We also anticipate that the technology that we develop could be adapted for other and very varied uses. One possibility is in niche space applications for powering satellites, another could be to provide means to transport medicines or supplies at cool temperatures in disaster areas or to supply fresh food in difficult economic or climatic conditions".

Source - Solardaily