What will the end of oil dependence mean for geopolitics?

43A4D545-BE3A-465F-A616-E1F7E4DFF43D

Solar power is one form of renewable energy that is replacing fossil fuels

If you want to understand the revolution taking place in renewable energy, come to a power station called Gemasolar in southern Spain.

Here, in the dusty plains of Andalusia, they have worked out how to generate solar power 24 hours a day.

Yes, you can read that sentence again. At Gemasolar they create electricity even when the Sun is not shining.

They have rigged up more than 2,500 huge mirrors on hydraulic mounts that follow the Sun’s passage through the sky.

The mirrors – each about the size of half a tennis court – reflect the Sun’s rays to one central point, the top of a 140m (459ft) tower, where molten salt is heated to almost 600C. This liquid salt is carried down the tower to where it heats the steam that powers a turbine.

Continue reading… “What will the end of oil dependence mean for geopolitics?”

0

Off-the-grid container house in Mexico is move-in ready in 99 days

6CDCCC35-6A03-4C3E-AF26-3C4A622908DD

The VMD tiny home is an eco-conscious dwelling that is built using shipping-containers

Mexican architectural studios Studioroca and Taller Escape have recently joined forces to create a prefabricated housing model that is move-in ready in just 99 days from ordering. Dubbed VMD, the 30-sq-m (323-sq-ft) tiny home is an eco-conscious dwelling that is built using shipping-containers and offers a complete off-the-grid living package.

The inspiration for the simple and cost-effective design of the dwelling came from the architects’ desire to create a home that could re-connect city-dwellers with the beautiful natural Mexican landscape, while also incorporating a strong focus on sustainability and reducing the ecological footprint of the home. The VMD home is thus designed as a low-fuss abode or weekend getaway that can be installed in just seven days, while leaving very little impact on the site.

“VMD is an invitation to find a balance between daily life and weekend escapes, coming into contact with nature; Mexico is a country famous for its biodiversity and its unparalleled landscapes, in our quest to increase the experience of living it VMD becomes the synthesis of freedom where retirement is only a short trip away,” says the Taller Escape studio.

Continue reading… “Off-the-grid container house in Mexico is move-in ready in 99 days”

0

Gas plants will get crushed by wind, solar by 2035, study says

136BB5A5-8131-49A9-885D-D3AABF450FCE

Generators now on drawing boards will be left uneconomical

Natural gas-fired power plants, which have crushed the economics of coal, are on the path to being undercut themselves by renewable power and big batteries, a study found.

By 2035, it will be more expensive to run 90% of gas plants being proposed in the U.S. than it will be to build new wind and solar farms equipped with storage systems, according to the report Monday from the Rocky Mountain Institute. It will happen so quickly that gas plants now on the drawing boards will become uneconomical before their owners finish paying for them, the study said.

The development would be a dramatic reversal of fortune for gas plants, which 20 years ago supplied less than 20% of electricity in the U.S. Today that share has jumped to 35% as hydraulic fracturing has made natural gas cheap and plentiful, forcing scores of coal plants to close nationwide.

Continue reading… “Gas plants will get crushed by wind, solar by 2035, study says”

0

A new floating solar farm shows that renewables can be easy

902426EF-242F-44BA-B6F5-3BED04D052BB

The Sekdoorn floating solar farm in the Netherlands is completed after a record six weeks of work. This is the fastest construction speed ever for the German company specialized in the renewables sector BayWa r.e., who worked together with its Dutch partner GroenLeven to build the power plant.

The construction was done in only six weeks and the plant can power 4,000 households.

The solar farm will have a yearly energy yield of 13.330 MWh, saving around 6,500 tons of CO2 emissions a year and powering the equivalent of 4,000 households.

Floating solar power plants are what the name suggests, solar panels mounted on a structure that floats on a body of water. The advantage is that they reduce land requirements because they can be installed in industrial pools, drinking water reservoirs and small lakes.

Continue reading… “A new floating solar farm shows that renewables can be easy”

0

Renewables meet 50% of electricity demand on Australia’s power grid for first time

A59EECBC-442D-4498-93D6-E3BB446C510A

For a brief moment solar, wind and hydro combined to deliver more than half the power into the National Electricity Market

Australia’s main electricity grid was briefly powered by 50% renewable energy this week in a new milestone that experts say will become increasingly normal.

Data on the sources of power in the National Electricity Market showed that at 11.50am on Wednesday, renewables were providing 50.2% of the power to Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia – the five states served by the market.

Continue reading… “Renewables meet 50% of electricity demand on Australia’s power grid for first time”

0

Zeppelins could make a comeback with this solar-powered airship cargo mover

DD182A42-6152-4850-A627-72D5A44B7697

Zeppelins, the rigid airships most famously epitomized by the Hindenburg, now seem kind of retro, rather than the image of futurity they represented in the 1930s. But they could be about to make a comeback in a big way — courtesy of a new aluminum-shelled, solar-powered airship that’s being built by the U.K.-based company Varialift Airships.

According to the company’s CEO Alan Handley, the airship will be capable of making a transatlantic flight from the United Kingdom to the United States, consuming just 8% of the fuel of a regular airplane. It will be powered by a pair of solar-powered engines and two conventional jet engines.

While its lack of onboard battery would limit travel to daylight hours, and its speed will only be approximately half that of a Boeing 747, the Varialift airship does promise to be a useful cargo carrier. Its creators claim that it will be able to carry loads ranging from 50 to 250 tons. Larger models with payloads up to 3,000 tons aren’t out of the question either. Bulky cargo such as electricity pylons, wind turbine blades, and towers, or even prefabricated structures such as oil rigs could be carried underneath using cables. That means that cargo will have a weight limit, but no practical size limit.

Continue reading… “Zeppelins could make a comeback with this solar-powered airship cargo mover”

0

Home energy storage capacity breaks records in U.S.

 7538988C-EDF5-492C-A08E-D125F0755DE8

Additions of new residential energy storage capacity in the United States reached a record high in the second quarter of the year, exceeding 30 MW, a new report by Wood Mackenzie says. The market for energy storage in the country is growing fast, the authors note, driven by customer interest and government incentives.

In May this year, IHS Markit forecast grid-connected energy storage capacity would jump twofold by the end of 2019, from 376 MW last to 712 MW. There may be a good chance of such an increase taking place: total new storage additions during the first half of the year were over 200 MW, with 148.8 MW deployed during the first quarter and 79.5 MW deployed during the second quarter.

According to Wood Mac, the reason for the slowdown in total storage capacity additions was due to a sizeable fall in front-of-the-meter storage additions. These, however, would pick up in the second half of the year, the consultancy said, with the pipeline for new FTM storage projects soaring 66 percent from a year earlier.

Continue reading… “Home energy storage capacity breaks records in U.S.”

0

Solar energy prices hit tipping point as China reaches “grid parity”

6F236FC0-0353-4023-8D12-219E19AF9E64

It’s a landmark moment for China and the world.

The world’s most populous country has reached a tipping point in the pursuit of renewable energy.

China, which aims to consume 20 percent of its energy from non-fossil fuels by 2030, has reached a point where home-generated solar is cheaper than electricity generated from the national grid. The research, conducted by researchers in both Sweden and China and published in the journal Nature Monday, mark an historic moment in the drive to ditch fossil fuels.

The switchover point comes soon after a report that showed a similar crossover in the United States. The report in March showed that in 74 percent of cases, building new solar and wind capacity in a given area was cheaper than maintaining an existing coal-powered plant. Where levelized costs for wind reach $15 per megawatt-hour and $28 per megawatt-hour for solar, marginal costs for existing plants can jump as high as $104 per megawatt-hour.

Continue reading… “Solar energy prices hit tipping point as China reaches “grid parity””

0

Tesla’s Megapack battery is big enough to help grids handle peak demand

A55D350E-F3F3-49F2-8608-366988FEEAE8

A new industrial storage product coming as the company’s lost its lead in home solar

Tesla announced a new massive battery today called Megapack that could replace so-called “peaker” power plants, which provide energy when a local electrical grid gets overloaded. Tesla says that Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) will deploy several Megapacks at Moss Landing on Monterrey Bay in California, which is one of four locations where the California utility plans to install more cost-effective energy storage solutions.

Each Megapack can store up to 3 megawatt hours (MWh) of energy at a time, and it’s possible to string enough Megapacks together to create a battery with more than 1 GWh of energy storage, Tesla says. The company says this would be enough energy to power “every home in San Francisco for six hours.” Telsa will deliver the Megapacks fully assembled, and they include “battery modules, bi-directional inverters, a thermal management system, an AC main breaker and controls.” Tesla says the Megapack takes up 40 percent less space, requires a tenth of the parts to build, and can be assembled 10 times as fast as alternative energy storage solutions.

Continue reading… “Tesla’s Megapack battery is big enough to help grids handle peak demand”

0

Tesla launches its Megapack, a new massive 3 MWh energy storage product

06DD35CD-3BDE-4C9B-9582-F0EB8F54619E

Tesla is launching today its ‘Megapack’, a massive new energy storage product that combines up to 3 MWh of storage capacity and a 1.5 MW inverter.

Electrek exclusively reported last year that Tesla has been working on a new energy storage system called ‘Megapack’.

We found out that Tesla was going to use the Megapack at a giant new energy storage project in California.

Today, almost a year later, the company is now officially launching the product.

Continue reading… “Tesla launches its Megapack, a new massive 3 MWh energy storage product”

0

France’s solar roadway experiment has failed

4E180EEC-9D13-402B-8217-963F6C6263E0

 After nearly three years of use, Normandy’s photovoltaic highway is delivering disappointing results

Solar power highways are hitting a roadblock. Nearly three years after France built a 0.6-mile stretch of photovoltaic road in Normandy, the government is deeming it a disappointing experiment.

In 2016, France announced its bold plan to “pave” 1,000 kilometers (around 620 miles) with photovoltaic panels, which would generate 790kWh per day. When completed, the road was supposed to power up to 5 million homes. But that first 0.6-mile stretch, which engineers had originally estimated would power up to 5,000 homes, hasn’t lived up to expectations.

After installation, it was clear that the panels produced by the manufacturer Wattway couldn’t hold up under the wear and tear of highway traffic. According to Global Construction Review, “the 2,800 square meters of solar panels have degraded, peeled away and splintered, and 100m of them have been removed after being declared too damaged to repair.”

Continue reading… “France’s solar roadway experiment has failed”

0

This solar-powered device produces energy and cleans water at the same time

B2F86F57-755D-410B-BFA2-486882F7DC03

UNDER THE SUN Solar panels with water purification devices mounted on their backs (illustrated) could produce freshwater and electricity simultaneously.

 Still a prototype, the machine could one day help curb electricity and freshwater shortages

By mounting a water distillation system on the back of a solar cell, engineers have constructed a device that doubles as an energy generator and water purifier.

While the solar cell harvests sunlight for electricity, heat from the solar panel drives evaporation in the water distiller below. That vapor wafts through a porous polystyrene membrane that filters out salt and other contaminants, allowing clean water to condense on the other side. “It doesn’t affect the electricity production by the [solar cell]. And at the same time, it gives you bonus freshwater,” says study coauthor Peng Wang, an engineer at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia.

Continue reading… “This solar-powered device produces energy and cleans water at the same time”

0