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.

Advertisements

Best of Both Worlds: Solar Hydrogen Production Breakthrough

Using a simple solar cell and a photo anode made of a metal oxide, HZB and TU Delft scientists have successfully stored nearly five percent of solar energy chemically in the form of hydrogen. This is a major feat as the design of the solar cell is much simpler than that of the high-efficiency triple-junction cells based on amorphous silicon or expensive III-V semiconductors that are traditionally used for this purpose. The photo anode, which is made from the metal oxide bismuth vanadate (BiVO4) to which a small amount of tungsten atoms was added, was sprayed onto a piece of conducting glass and coated with an inexpensive cobalt phosphate catalyst.

“Basically, we combined the best of both worlds,” explains Prof. Dr. Roel van de Krol, head of the HZB Institute for Solar Fuels: “We start with a chemically stable, low cost metal oxide, add a really good but simple silicon-based thin film solar cell, and — voilà — we’ve just created a cost-effective, highly stable, and highly efficient solar fuel device.”

Thus the experts were able to develop a rather elegant and simple system for using sunlight to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. This process, called artificial photosynthesis, allows solar energy to be stored in the form of hydrogen. The hydrogen can then be used as a fuel either directly or in the form of methane, or it can generate electricity in a fuel cell. One rough estimate shows the potential inherent in this technology: At a solar performance in Germany of roughly 600 Watts per square meter, 100 square meters of this type of system is theoretically capable of storing 3 kilowatt hours of energy in the form of hydrogen in just one single hour of sunshine. This energy could then be available at night or on cloudy days.

Written by Science Daily. To read the full article, click here.

Government to formulate solar policy for more power production

BHUBANESWAR: In a bid to promote solar power production in Odisha, the state government has decided to formulate a solar policy soon. The policy will help streamline production, utilization and management of solar energy in the state, officials said.

“We have sought suggestions from different government and private institutions and organizations. After verification, valuable suggestions will be incorporated in the policy, which will be launched in the next few months,” said Ramesh Majhi, science and technology minister.

According to sources, Odisha has suitable climate for production of solar power, as it can be produced and preserved around 300 days a year. Besides, the state has a potential to produce 5.5 KWhour of solar energy per square metre per day. “The policy will focus on various provisions for private investors to produce solar energy through solar photo voltaic cell, while the focus will be on solar heating system and solar water pump system. A number of private institutions have started power generation using solar energy, but it is on a smaller scale,” said Majhi.

Written by The Times of India. To read the full article, click here.

Solar in the Spotlight

Most of the attention may be focused on domestic oil and gas production, but it could be solar power that really helps the United States on its path to energy independence.

Aside from the high-profile bankruptcy of Solyndra—the solar panel maker that defaulted on a $528 million federal loan in 2011—the industry has been on a tear over the last couple of years. Solar installations are up more than 75 percent, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, which projects another 65 percent increase in 2013. The industry’s rapid expansion has made solar the fastest growing energy source in the United States, according to the SEIA.

Much of those gains are thanks to a combination of tumbling installation and equipment costs—photovoltaic solar costs dropped almost 30 percent in 2012, the SEIA reported—and the rise of an innovative approach to financing expensive rooftop solar panels called third-party-owned solar.

Written by Meg Handley. To read the full article, click here