Solar Team Great Britain has started a kickstarter page to help fund their design for entry in the 2017 World Solar Challenge. Founder Steven Heape leads a team of volunteers from many different disciplines, companies and universities working on a family-sized solar car to compete in the cruiser class. “Cruiser Class is about two or […]
Since 2011, French Company Ciel & Terre has been developing large-scale floating solar solutions. Their innovative Hydrelio Floating PV system allows standard PV panels to be installed on large bodies of water such as: drinking water reservoirs, quarry lakes, irrigation canals, remediation and tailing ponds, and hydro electric dam reservoirs. This simple and affordable alternative […]
AORA Solar has announced that it will begin construction of its solar-biogas power plants in Ethiopia. Construction of the first pilot plant will start by mid-2015. Ethiopia’s Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy has stated that ” AORA’s unique solar-hybrid technology is impressive and well-suited to provide both energy and heat to support local economic […]
Originally posted on 1bog.org
One question a homeowner considering solar might ask is, “how much of an impact will putting panels on my roof really have when I’m just one person?” The average home installation generates about 6 kilowatts of energy, whereas the average power plant generates about 667,000 kilowatts. It’s pretty easy to think that the power plant dwarfs the average house, right? But think about this: as more systems are installed, their cumulative effect creates a number of benefits for both the individual homeowner and society as a whole.
To get a better understanding of the big picture, let’s take a few steps back.
First, some facts. In 2011, energy generated in the U.S. was distributed fairly evenly among residential, industrial, and commercial categories, at roughly one-third each with residential having a slight edge over both commercial and industrial. So, although power plants generate a whole lot more power, when put in the perspective of consumption, the playing field evens out quite a bit.
But then we have that slight edge that residential has over commercial and industrial categories, and here’s where it gets really interesting. Since residential is the largest consumer of electric power, its size allows solar to make more of an impact than if we focused solely on the other sectors which makes it a natural target for reductions. However, the size of the consumption is not the only reason to focus there.
If we take a look at the three categories in another way, this time looking more granularly at their demand in monthly increments, in the “Historical peakiness” graphic below you can see that residential power consumption is also the “peakiest” on both a daily and monthly scale. Peakiness basically means the points at which demand is highest. Residential power dominates this, which means that it rules the demand sector for power as well, especially in the winter and summer months when there is a direct need for heating and cooling in the home. Why does this matter? Because “peaky” power is the most expensive power.
“Peaky” is expensive because grid operators and utilities dispatch power starting from the cheapest and moving to progressively more expensive power. The cheapest power comes from nuclear and hydro dams, then coal and wind, when available, are dispatched. Finally, natural gas turbines match the exact demand, spinning up and down as necessary. This ability to move up and down with the grid is what keeps the lights on and prevents brownouts or surges, but it is very expensive to do this. On the hottest summer days, when all of the cheapest power is already in use, demand dictates the most expensive power be purchased.
However, it does not need to be that way. As it turns out, solar generates power right at the same time it is needed the most — at the peak. For all intents and purposes, solar generation has the effect of shaving the peaks off. Take a moment to really digest that: solar works best when energy is most needed, so a solar home essentially bypasses the entire nuclear-hydro-coal-wind daisy chain. (Incidentally, this has utilities companies freaking out.)
We can actually see this in action in Australia, where solar is being added at a furious rate. For each year that solar is added, the peak summer demand has been shaved progressively downward. Since 2008, that demand has fallen by 15 percent. Furthermore, overall demand fell by 3 percent, whereas it was previously predicted to rise 10 percent! If the trend continues, it will translate into lower demand for new power plants and the transmission lines needed to distribute that power.
The implication of this trend is that residential solar is perfectly suited for reducing society’s most expensive power. That is all well and good for the altruists out there, but there is also a very pragmatic element as well: Whether you want to save the planet or not, as a utility ratepayer you are ultimately footing the bill for that expensive, peaky power in the form of higher costs in the summer and winter. Adopting solar means shaving down your demand, which in turn means that you will see some significant savings on your utility bills, and that always feels good whether it’s for the planet or your wallet – or both.
The post Why Residential Solar Energy is Mightier Than Its Industrial and Commercial Counterparts appeared first on Solar Power.
The Wales National Coal Museum, known as the ‘Big Pit’ museum, has turned to
solar energy to power its buildings in Blaenafon, south Wales.
More than six percent of Big Pit’s energy will be generated by 200 solar panels installed on the museum’s roof in a bid to reduce bills and carbon footprints, museum representatives said.
The Big Pit was one of several collieries in the area in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries providing employment for hundreds. The shaft at the pit was 300 feet deep with it gaining its name due to the particularly large elliptical shaft. Big Pit closed in February 1980 at which time it employed 250 people. By 1983, after extensive development, it re-opened as a museum.
Since that time, the National Coal Mining Museum has seen well over 3 million visitors pass through its gates and it is now a World Heritage site. The museum invested $114,000 in the panels but is expected to save $652,000 over a 25-year period. In addition, the electricity generated will be used on site with any surplus being sold to the National Grid, which can produce additional income for the museum.
Despite complaints from some of the ex-miners who work as guides at the museum, the most common reaction to the new energy source has been positive.
“Coal is such an important part of Wales’ heritage and yet green energy will play a major part in its future,” Peter Walker, museum manager at Big Pit said. “A solar powered coal mining museum is a fantastic way to celebrate this national journey.”
The panels are an initiative of community interest company Warm Wales.
“In bringing together a major contributor to our Welsh heritage with new technology we’re demonstrating to all that even the most traditional of industries can gain substantial benefits through integrating the old and the new,” Warm Wales’ project director Craig Anderson said.
The Big Pit won the Gulbenkian Prize for Museum of the Year in 2005 for ‘keeping the story of British coal alive,’ and is one of Wales most popular tourist attractions.
Google has created a video on its Green Blog detailing its green transportation initiatives, which include biodiesel campus shuttles and solar panels on buses. More than 3,000 Google staff ride a shuttle bus to the company’s Mountain View headquarters every day.
“Google continues to drive innovation and leadership in the workplace. The results of their clean transportation efforts are remarkable, taking the equivalent of over 2,000 cars off the road every day,” Coulomb executive vice president Bret Sewell said.
“We’re only one company among many, so we hope our green transportation initiatives serve as a model for other companies to incorporate sustainability programs into their own workplaces,” Google’s technical program manager for electric transportation Rolf Schreiber said.
Solar’s up! 3 new, noteworthy California projects
I don’t normally write about all the solar projects going live in a given week or month, because then this blog would have to become solar-tech pastures. But three on-site projects have just gone live in California that are each noteworthy in their own right. On-site corporate solar investments are compelling to me because these are organizations that have gone beyond purchasing renewable energy from a utility company. They have contributed directly to the cleantech cause.
#1: The Nichols Farm
The reason this one caught my attention is because the technology involved at theNichols Farmpistachio processing facility is concentrator photovoltaic, and the project is being billed as the first of its kind in North America. The 1-megawatt capacity power plant is expected to produce approximately 2,244 kilowatt-hours in its first year of operation, which is about 70 percent of the electricity needs for the pistachio farm’s processing facility. The solar installation takes up six acres next to the plant, and it uses SF-1100 CPV technology fromSolFocus. The units concentrate the solar, meaning they can collect more potential energy on a smaller piece of land than is typically possible with other types of solar. They have tracking units to follow the sunlight supply. The installation was designed and built by Bechtel.
Said the Nichols Farm owner Chuck Nichols:
“As an integrated grower, processor and marketer of pistachios, I appreciate the value of harnessing natural resources in an efficient, sustainable manner. That’s why I selected SolFocus CPV from a list of solar options. The high-energy yield combined with the superior environmental footprint of the SolFocus systems made it an ideal choice for our facility, which processes pistachios for farmers throughout the Central Valley of California.”
Read the full story at ZD Net
Haidar Taleb, a 47 year old man from UAE, displayed a rare combination of human spirit and willpower when he took up a 200-mile long journey on a wheel chair that he has built for himself which runs on solar power. Being a person with polio since the age of 4 has not stopped him […]