Hydropower: the unsung hero of renewable energy

Hydropower accounts for more electricity production than solar, wind, and geothermal combined, but gets far less press because it is a mature technology with a much lower annual growth rate than most renewables. Still, hydropower will likely continue its leading role as the world’s most important producer of renewable electricity until well into the next decade.

This is the 2nd installment in a series that looks at the recently released 2013 BP Statistical Review of World Energy. The previous post – Renewable Energy Status Update 2013 – focused mainly on wind and solar power. This post delves into hydropower and geothermal power. Some of the BP data is supplemented by REN21′s recently-released 2013 Renewables Global Status Report (GSR). (Disclosure: I have been a reviewer for the GSR for the past three years).

Hydropower

Hydropower accounts for more electricity production than solar PV, wind, and geothermal combined. In 2012, hydropower accounted for 16% of the world’s electricity production. However, hydropower gets far less press because it is a mature technology with a much lower annual growth rate than most renewables. While solar PV increased capacity by an average of 60% per year over the past 5 years, new hydropower capacity increased at a much more modest annual rate of 3.3%.

Written by Robert Rapier. To read the full article, click here.

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Solar Power In The U.S. Becoming A More Popular, Cost-Saving Option For Homeowners

Ben Kunz wanted to do “the green thing” and save on his electric bill without paying a lot of money up front. So instead of buying a solar system for his house in Cheshire, Connecticut, he leased one.

“I thought it was a pretty good deal,” he said. “I lean a little environmentalist so I’m concerned about global warming.”

Increasing numbers of U.S. homeowners are relying on the sun to meet much of their hot water and electricity needs. In fact, residential electricity produced by solar in the first quarter of 2013 was almost 10 times higher than that generated in 2008, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

But the potential for more is huge.

Consider this: “The amount of solar energy falling on the United States in one hour of noontime summer sun is about equal to the annual U.S. electricity demand,” the Energy Department says in its SunShot Vision Study.

Written by Carole Feldman. To read the full article, click here.

Landfill Sites Find Reuse as Locations for Solar-Power Plants

Many states and cities have long been turning trash into treasure by burning garbage to create heat and electricity, or by harvesting the methane gas that is released as junk decomposes. But in a new twist on this theme, several cities and municipalities are transforming capped landfills—the ultimate waste of space—into solar-power plants.

“When you get done with a landfill, that property’s primary function can no longer be used anymore. It’s a great pyramid of waste,” said Mark Roberts, vice president of HDR, an engineering company that constructs solar-voltaic landfills. “So the question is, What do you do with these facilities when you’ve filled it up. What you can do is cap the landfill in such a way that it meets the EPA requirements but gives you an opportunity to still get benefits from its use.”

Written by Miranda Green. To read the full article, click here.

More bases accepting solar power as an energy alternative

Airmen can expect to see more solar panels throughout their bases, in their neighborhoods and even on their rooftops.

Plans call for solar power to make up 58 percent of the military’s renewable energy capability by 2017, according to a report released in May by the Solar Energy Industries Association.

The Air Force expects to generate 1 gigawatt of renewable energy by 2016. Its goal is to have enough renewable energy to supply 25 percent of all installation electricity use by 2025, Air Force officials announced last year.

With solar energy already juicing up Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., and Davis-Monthan, Ariz., and projects in the works for others, the latest project is underway at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. Dubbed SolarStrong, the program plans to provide solar power for up to 120,000 military homes within a five-year plan across the U.S.

Written by Oriana Pawlyk. To read the full article, click here

Can You Have Too Much Solar Energy?

It’s been a long, dark winter in Germany. In fact, there hasn’t been this little sun since people started tracking such things back in the early 1950s. Easter is around the corner, and the streets of Berlin are still covered in ice and snow. But spring will come, and when the snow finally melts, it will reveal the glossy black sheen of photovoltaic solar panels glinting from the North Sea to the Bavarian Alps.
Solar panels line Germany’s residential rooftops and top its low-slung barns. They sprout in orderly rows along train tracks and cover hills of coal mine tailings in what used to be East Germany. Old Soviet military bases, too polluted to use for anything else, have been turned into solar installations.
Twenty-two percent of Germany’s power is generated with renewables. Solar provides close to a quarter of that. The southern German state of Bavaria, population 12.5 million, has three photovoltaic panels per resident, which adds up to more installed solar capacity than in the entire United States.

Written by Andrew Curry. To read the full article, click here

Solar power still better than nuclear in the fight against climate change

George Monbiot claims in a gentlemanly article to have won our £100 bet, made three years ago, that solar PV would be at grid parity – the same cost as conventional retail electricity – by 2013.

The very good news is that over the past three years, the actual average price of installed residential solar PV has come down some 60%, while the cost of new nuclear has gone up 70% and is still rising. I base the former on the real achievement at my company Solarcentury and the latter on a recent compilation in Le Monde of data for EDF’s Flamanville EPR reactor, the type of nuclear plant nuclear advocates like George want to foist on the UK economy at great cost to the public, starting at Hinkley Point.

Written by Jeremy Leggett. To read the full article, click here

Wind to Double and Solar to Triple in 6 Years, Says IEA

For Greentech Media this week, I reviewed the new Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report 2013 from the International Energy Agency (IEA), and found a surprisingly bullish forecast for renewables, especially wind and solar. Most interesting are the phenomenal growth rates they project for the developing world.
And a lot of it will be deployed in developing countries.
The headline summary of the new Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report 2013from the International Energy Agency (IEA) has been well reported: Renewables will surpass natural gas for electricity generation globally by 2016, doubling nuclear output and coming in second only to coal in power generation.
Total renewable capacity is expected to grow from 1,580 gigawatts in 2012 to 2,350 GW in 2018, while renewable electricity generation grows from 4,860 terawatt-hours to 6,850 terawatt-hours. Renewable generation will be 50 percent greater over the six-year forecast period than it was over the six years from 2006 to 2012.

Written by Chris Nelder. To read the full article, click here