The sunny side of solar power

If solar were fashion, we’d say it was having a moment. Over the past few years we’ve gone from near zero solar photovoltaic panels to 2.5GW of capacity. Of this 1.9GW is installed on rooftops and 0.6GW on giant solar farms, with planning secured for a further 0.9GW of utility scale projects.

Ordinarily, I’d greet these farms supplying renewable energy with a cheery, “Welcome to the grid!” Unfortunately, my real response on seeing one on a beloved rolling south Devon hillside was more profane. Developers tend to say they’re of “low visual impact”. Actually they’re positively industrial, guaranteed to bring out your inner Nimby.

Why now? Solar panels (produced in the Far East) cost a third of what they did three years ago. And there’s been a change with Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs), too. Generators used to get two ROCs for every MWh of solar-produced electricity. They can be bought and traded among energy suppliers. But in March 2013 these were scaled down to 1.6 ROCs per MWh. Cue a scramble to generate more capacity.

Written by  Lucy Siegle. To read the full article, click here.

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Texas A&M U-Central Texas Launches Center for Solar Energy

Texas A&M University-Central Texas has launched the Center for Solar Energy to evaluate, develop, and test new photovoltaic solar technologies.

The new center, covering approximately 800 acres and costing nearly $600 million, will power the A&M Central Texas campus and “will host the largest assortment of photovoltaic technologies in the world and serve as a true test site for leading-edge technologies,” according to a school news release. To further encourage research and education into renewable energy, the university will also be adding new curriculum offerings with plans to expand them as the project grows.

Designed as an incubator, the center will provide support for training, engineering, demonstration, and manufacturing in an effort to bring new technologies to market within two years.

Written by Joshua Bolkan. To read the full article, click here.

The Power of Solar Power: New Article on Off The Grid News Discusses the Basics of Solar Power

As energy bills keep rising, alternative energy continues to be a hot topic among Americans. Solar energy in particular continues to gain support from everyone from the government wanting viable clean energy to citizens who dislike wind farms because of eyesores and damage to bird populations. Even so, making the switch to solar energy is a major decision and many unfamiliar with the specifics of the technology have questions about how it works and how much it costs. A new article on Off The Grid News, Top 10 Questions About Solar Energy, addresses the most common concerns in language accessible to even those most unfamiliar with solar energy.

The article describes the most common solar power arrays, such as solar photovoltaic panels and building-integrated photovoltaics, and how they work. Though both methods are effective, the author remarks that solar panels are probably the better option for most as “Unfortunately, [building-integrated photovoltaic] technology is still largely in its nascent stages, and at the present time it is probably too expensive to be a practical option… [and] only have about a 1 percent market share as of now, and until greater economies of scale are attained, costs are not likely to come down significantly.”

Written by PRWeb. To read the full article, click here.

Japan: The world’s new star in solar power

FORTUNE — Until recently less than 1% of Japan’s electrical power output came from renewables. But following the catastrophe of Fukushima and the power blackouts that followed, Japan has seen an explosion in investment in alternatives. Solar, in particular, in this averagely photon-blessed country, has seen a seismic rise of late and is this year poised to become the world’s largest solar market in volume after China.
According to a report by energy analyst IHS on Japan’s energy mix, Japan’s solar installations jumped by “a stunning 270% (in gigawatts) in the first quarter of 2013.” That means by the end of 2013 there will be enough new solar panels equal to the capacity of seven nuclear reactors. Such massive growth will allow Japan to surpass Germany and become the world’s largest photovoltaics (PV) market in terms of revenue this year.

Written by Michael Fitzpatrick. To read the full article, click here

Solar Tracking Systems Gain Ground

“It sounds obvious: put solar panels on a movable mount to follow the sun and catch as much sunlight as possible. But applying solar trackers to a project is not clear cut. Developers not only have to consider cost and location but the type of tracker that best suits the project. Yet as innovations in technology continue, trackers are starting to play a larger role in the industry.

Fixed, Single or Dual

Solar panels are typically mounted at a fixed angle. Such systems have few parts, so are less costly than those with trackers and have fewer operations and maintenance (O&M) considerations.”

Written By: Meg Cichon To read full article click here