Peru To Provide Free Solar Power To 2 Million Of Its Poorest Residents By 2016

Peru has initiated a program that will provide more than 2 million of its poorest residents with electricity — for free.

‘The National Photovoltaic Household Electrification Program’ began on July 8, when 1,601 solar panels were installed in the Contumaza province of the country, CleanTechnica.com reported. Those panels, part of the program’s first phase, will reportedly power 126 impoverished communities.

Jorge Merino, Energy and Mining Minister, told the Latin American Herald that the entire program will allow 95 percent of Peru to have access to electricity by the end of 2016. That will be done by installing a planned 12,500 solar (photovoltaic) systems, reaching 500,000 households, according to PlanetSave.com.

Currently, only about 66 percent of Peru’s population has access to electricity.

Written by Huffington Post. To read the full article, click here.

White House solar panels being installed this week

After nearly three years, the White House began installing solar panels on the First Family’s residence this week, a White House official confirmed Thursday.

The Obama administration had pledged in October 2010 to put solar panels on the White House as a sign of the president’s commitment to renewable energy.

The White House official, who asked not to be identified because the installation is in process, wrote in an e-mail the project is “a part of an energy retrofit that will improve the overall energy efficiency of the building.”

At the time of the 2010 announcement, then-Energy Secretary Steven Chu and White House Council on Environmental Quality chair Nancy Sutley said the administration would conduct a competitive bidding process to buy between 20 and 50 solar panels. The officials did not identify the supplier or cost of the project, but wrote the White House “has begun installing American-made solar panels” and the initiative, “which will help demonstrate that historic buildings can incorporate solar energy and energy efficiency upgrades, is estimated to pay for itself in energy savings over the next eight years.”

Written by  Juliet Eilperin. To read the full article, click here.

A Material That Could Make Solar Power “Dirt Cheap”

A new type of solar cell, made from a material that is dramatically cheaper to obtain and use than silicon, could generate as much power as today’s commodity solar cells.

Although the potential of the material is just starting to be understood, it has caught the attention of the world’s leading solar researchers, and several companies are already working to commercialize it.

Researchers developing the technology say that it could lead to solar panels that cost just 10 to 20 cents per watt. Solar panels now typically cost about 75 cents a watt, and the U.S. Department of Energy says 50 cents per watt will allow solar power to compete with fossil fuel.

In the past, solar researchers have been divided into two camps in their pursuit of cheaper solar power. Some have sought solar cells that can be made very cheaply but that have the downside of being relatively inefficient. Lately, more researchers have focused on developing very high efficiency cells, even if they require more expensive manufacturing techniques.

Written by Kevin Bullis. To read the full article, click here.

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.

Spaniards rebel against solar panel levy

(Reuters) – Two weeks after Spain’s government slapped a series of levies on green energy, Inaki Alonso hired two workmen to remove the solar panels he had put on his roof only six months earlier.

Alonso, an architect who specializes in ecological projects, calculated the cost of generating his own power under a new energy law and decided the numbers no longer added up.

Neither was it possible to leave the panels on his Madrid home without connecting them to the electricity grid; that would have risked an astronomical fine of between 6 million and 30 million euros ($8 million-$40 million).

“The new law makes it unviable to produce my own clean energy,” Alonso said.

Spain’s conservative government announced a reform of the energy system last month, including the “support levy” on solar power in a country blessed with abundant sunlight.

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

How Solar Tech is Breeding Independence from The Grid

For thousands of years, the sun has been revered by many cultures for its enormous power and size. Now, people are admiring the giant star for a very tangible reason: its ability to help lower electric bills. Installing solar panels will save the average person around $1000 a year on their energy bills, notes SolarEnergy.net – not too shabby!

In an effort to reduce the amount of money they spend on energy, more people are becoming interested in “going off the grid” and leaving traditional electric and gas companies – and their corresponding high bills – and getting energy from other sources. The use of solar power in residential homes was nearly 10 times higher during the first quarter of 2013 than it was five years ago, the Solar Energy Industries Association reports.

One way to take going off the grid from fantasy to reality is through solar power. By hooking up one’s home, RV or other dwelling to solar power, it is now easier than ever to go off the grid but still enjoy creature comforts such as air conditioning, television and computers.

Speaking of television, there are options for folks who are interested in alternative viewing options for their favorite programs while living off the grid. These include DirecTV packages that can work with personal computers and even mobile devices.

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

The Sun Breaks Through Stormy Skies of China/EU Trade

China and the West broke a decades-old pattern of troubled trade relations over the weekend with a landmark deal to settle a trade dispute between China and the EU involving Chinese manufactured solar panels. Leaders in China and the West should use this breakthrough agreement as a template for resolving future trade disputes, turning to compromise rather than destructive accusations and punitive tariffs to end their disagreements.

Trade between China and the West has grown rapidly over the last two decades following China’s economic reforms to create a more market-oriented economy. The EU and the US are now China’s two biggest trading partners, with combined exports to both markets totaling more than $700 billion last year – greater than China’s entire exports a decade ago. Disputes are almost inevitable with such rapid growth, and many of those are related to China’s policies of State support for many big companies and key industries.

The solar panel dispute began two years ago when the sector suddenly plunged into a downward spiral after nearly a decade of explosive growth. A major cause of that downturn was a rapid buildup of capacity in China, as China rolled out favorable policies like tax incentives and cheap loans to promote development of a cutting-edge sector with big growth potential. As prices tumbled, a growing number of companies in the US and Europe went bankrupt, with many blaming cheap imports from China for their woes. Washington opened an investigation into the matter, which ended with the imposition of antidumping tariffs against Chinese manufacturers last year. The EU followed with its own investigation, and announced its own tariffs this spring.

Written by Doug Young. To read the full article, click here.