Category Archives: Solar Power

Solar powered homes worth more 

A recent analysis by Redfin and Sun Number, has rated 10+ cities in the northeast based on their solar power potential.

Sun Number is a U.S. Department of Energy SunShot-funded startup that has developed a patented automatic process for helping homeowners/buyers understand the solar energy potential of their homes or future homes, using a Sun Number Scale that runs from 1-100, where the higher a reading, the better the property is suited for solar energy installation and use.

As early as 2015, a multi-institutional research led by U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkley Laboratory (Berkley Lab) concluded that home buyers have consistently been willing to pay more for homes with host-owned solar photovoltaic (PV) energy systems.

The data came from more than 20,000 sales of homes, about 4,000 of which contained a host-owned solar energy installation. The additional price home buyers were ready to pay was significant and worthy of serious consideration: a hefty premium of about $15,000. Redfin and Sun Number partially support that prior data.

Read more: electrek

Tesla exec explains new sustainable energy vision

‘You have solar, battery pack, EV and you control everything on your phone’

Since Tesla’s acquisition of SolarCity, the company’s mission slightly changed from “accelerating the advent of electric transport” to “accelerating the advent of sustainable energy”. The company wants to offer solutions throughout the entire energy production and consumption process.

At a conference last week, a Tesla executive explained the company’s vision for managing all that energy across all their products.

Kurt Kelty, Tesla’s longtime director of battery technology, was in Florida last week to give a keynote address at the International Battery Seminar.
During his presentation, he explained Tesla’s vision of energy management in future houses (transcript via evannex):

“Where we see the future [is] in houses [and] we want to be your EV provider. Put your EV in your garage and you charge it up with one of our chargers, you have a powerwall… [and] a solar product [solar roof] that we’ll be introducing this summer. You [can] see how this could integrate well in your house. You have solar, battery pack, the EV and you’ve got all the controls on your cell phone and you could control everything. This is the kind of future we see for [your] house.”

That’s similar to the vision shared by CEO Elon Musk when he first suggested Tesla’s acquisition of SolarCity in order to have a single company offering electricity generation, through solar products, storage, through Powerwall and Powerpacks, and consumption, through Tesla’s electric vehicles.

Read more: electrek

UK breaks solar energy record on sunny March weekend

Last weekend’s sunny weather was not only good for beers, barbecues and bees, but also drove solar power to break a new UK record.

For the first time ever, the amount of electricity demanded by homes and businesses in the afternoon on Saturday was lower than it was in the night, because solar panels on rooftops and in fields cut demand so much.

National Grid, which runs the transmission network, described the moment as a

“huge milestone”

The company sees the solar power generated on the distribution networks – or local roads of the system – as reduced electricity demand.

The sunshine meant that solar power produced six times more electricity than the country’s coal-fired power stations on Saturday.

Continued good weather saw solar power generate significant amounts of power on Sunday and Monday too, when it was providing around 15% of electricity generation. Demand on Sunday afternoon was also lower than on Sunday night.

Duncan Burt, who manages daily operations at National Grid, said:

“Demand being lower in the afternoon than overnight really is turning the hard and fast rules of the past upside down. It’s another fascinating sign of the huge changes we are seeing in Britain’s energy scene”.

Electricity demand usually peaks around 4pm to 6pm at this time of year, as people return home from work, with demand lower still at weekends. But the early hours of the morning are usually the quietest for the Berkshire control centre that monitors the grid, so a reversal is dramatic.

For the first time, on Saturday 25 March 2017, electricity demand in Great Britain was lower during the afternoon than it was overnight due to high solar generation.

Read more: The Guardian

The Nissan Leaf (L) and Kia Soul on charge on a London street (Image: M. Willis/Getty for GUL)

Electric cars and cheap solar ‘could halt fossil fuel growth by 2020’

Solar power and clean cars are ‘gamechangers’ consistently underestimated by big energy, says Imperial College and Carbon Tracker report

Falling costs of electric vehicles and solar panels could halt worldwide growth in demand for oil and coal by 2020, a new report has suggested.

A scenario that takes into account the latest cost reduction projections for the green technologies, and countries’ pledges to cut emissions, finds that solar power and electric vehicles are “gamechangers” that could leave fossil fuels stranded.

The Nissan Leaf (L) and Kia Soul on charge on a London street (Image: M. Willis/Getty for GUL)
By 2035, electric vehicles could make up 35% of the road transport market, and two-thirds by 2050 (Image: M. Willis/Getty for GUL)

Polluting fuels could lose 10% of market share to solar power and clean cars within a decade, the report by the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London and the Carbon Tracker Initiative found.

A 10% loss of market share was enough to cause the collapse of the coal mining industry in the US, while Europe’s five major utilities lost €100bn (£85bn) between 2008 and 2013 because they did not prepare for an 8% increase in renewables, the report said.

Big energy companies are seriously underestimating the low-carbon transition by sticking to their “business as usual” scenarios which expect continued growth of fossil fuels, and could see their assets “stranded”, the study claims.

Emerging technology, such as printable solar photovoltaics which generate electricity, could bring down costs and boost take-up even more than currently predicted.

Luke Sussams, a senior researcher at Carbon Tracker, said:

“Electric vehicles and solar power are gamechangers that the fossil fuel industry consistently underestimates.

“Further innovation could make our scenarios look conservative in five years’ time, in which case the demand misread by companies will have been amplified even more.”

Read more: The Guardian

Energy companies are dead already, they just haven’t realised it

“The stone age came to an end, not for lack of stones, and the oil age will end, but not for lack of oil” (Sheikh Yamani OPEC co-founder and former Saudi Arabian oil minister)

Electricity companies around the world will begin to go bankrupt by 2018, even while they generate profits. It sounds absurd doesn’t it? However, hear me out.

By now everyone has read the headlines. “Tesla Powerwall changes everything, electricity death spiral, energy storage revolution, the Kodak moment for electricity etc.” This was the hype of 2015.

In 2016, reality set in, many households realised a $A17,999 5kW SolarEdge system with a 7kWh Tesla Powerwall would take about 17 years to pay back. These were sobering figures considering most equipment warranties are only 10-12 years. However, in just 2 years this payback equation will be radically different. It will rock the very foundations of modern society, creating and destroying fortunes across the planet.

Read more: Renew Economy

Solar charging a BMW i3 electric car

One feature of the i3 that wasn’t available on my previous Renault ZOE is the ability to change at very low powers. Of course that means charging can be very slow.

The benefit of this option, which may not be obvious, is that it means the current draw is a good match for solar panels. In other words the car can be entirely charged by solar with nothing being drawn from the grid. Free fuel!

Welcome to Tesla Town

Less than six months after Australia received its first shipment of Tesla Powerwalls, plans for what could be the world’s first “Tesla town” – a mini-suburb on the outskirts of the Melbourne CBD whose new-build homes will include rooftop solar and Tesla battery storage as standard design features – are being unveiled by local property group Glenvill, as the green development’s first 60 homes go on sale this week.

Tesla Town, Melbourne

The new 16.46 hectare suburb, which will be called YarraBend for its 300 metres of Yarra River frontage, will include around 2,500 new dwellings – a mix of free standing houses, townhouses and apartments with three to five bedrooms, ranging in price from $1.48 million to $2.1 million.

The project is being designed, developed and built by Glenvill, which bills it as a “world first Tesla suburb” for its inclusion “within houses” of the iconic US company’s sleek-looking 7kWh lithium-ion Powerwall batteries, presumably to store energy from the houses’ rooftop solar systems, the sizes of which are not yet disclosed.

Houses in the development will also feature electric car recharging points, while residents will have access to high-speed internet, a “tech-concierge”, and a YarraBend app, that will connect them to a variety of amenities and information within the community, including public transport timetables, home delivery menus, carpooling arrangements and social events.

Read more: One Step off the Grid

National Grid wants the batteries to help it cope with the challenges of more wind and solar power (Image: PA)

New batteries to help Britain keep the lights on

Eight new battery storage projects are to be built around the UK after winning contracts worth £66m to help National Grid keep power supplies stable as more wind and solar farms are built.

EDF Energy, E.On and Vattenfall were among the successful companies chosen to build new lithium-ion batteries with a combined capacity of 200 megawatts (MW), under a new scheme to help Grid balance supply and demand within seconds.

National Grid wants the batteries to help it cope with the challenges of more wind and solar power (Image: PA)
National Grid wants the batteries to help it cope with the challenges of more wind and solar power (Image: PA)

Power generation and usage on the UK grid have to be matched as closely as possible in real-time to keep electricity supplies at a safe frequency so that household electrical appliances function properly.

Read more: Telegraph

The floating solar farm on Godley Reservoir near Manchester (Image: A. Cooper/Guardian)

If wind and solar power are cheaper and quicker, do we really need Hinkley Point?

Nuclear energy’s cost, and a focus on alternative technology, including research on a new generation of hi-tech battery storage, is leading observers outside the green lobby to question the project’s value

Should Theresa May take the axe to the troubled Hinkley Point nuclear project, it will propel wind and solar power further into the limelight. And for renewable technologies to become really effective, Britain and the rest of the world need breakthroughs in electricity storage to allow intermittent power to be on tap 24/7, on a large scale and for the right price.

Cheap, light and long-life batteries are the holy grail, and achieving this requires the expertise of people like Cambridge professor Clare Grey. The award winning Royal Society fellow is working on the basic science behind lithium-air batteries, which can store five times the energy in the same space as the current rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that are widely used today.

The floating solar farm on Godley Reservoir near Manchester (Image: A. Cooper/Guardian)
The floating solar farm on Godley Reservoir near Manchester (Image: A. Cooper/Guardian)

She is also focusing on sodium-ion and redox flow batteries; the latter store power in a liquid form, contained in vats or tanks that in theory can easily be scaled up to power-grid sizes.

“There has been an amazing transformation in this field. There is an explosion of interest and I am extremely lucky to have decided early on to concentrate on this area,”

she says, although she is keen to play down the idea that a eureka moment is just around the corner.

She is also thankful for Hinkley – if only because of the government’s long-term funding deal with EDF Energy that it gave rise to.

“It has put a price on [future] electricity in the market which is high, and this has potentially opened up further commercial space for new technologies such as batteries. But independent of Hinkley we do need better batteries and my chemistry will hopefully help find them,” she says.

The wisdom of bringing in the Chinese to help EDF, the French state-owned utility company, construct the proposed new Somerset reactors has been highlighted as a key factor behind the government’s reluctance to push the go button.

But ministers are also aware that, in the last 18 months, many experts in the field have concluded that the biggest argument against the plant is not that it is too expensive, at £18.5bn, but that the kind of “on-all-the-time” power it delivers is no longer what is required.

Read more: The Guardian