New analysis by the Worldwatch Institute examines global trends in solar power
Washington, D.C.—-The year 2013 saw record-breaking growth for solar electricity generation as the photovoltaic (PV) and concentrated solar thermal power (CSP) markets continued to grow. With over 39 gigawatts installed worldwide, the PV solar market represented one third of all newly-added renewable energy capacity, write Worldwatch’s Max Lander and Climate and Energy Intern Xiangyu Wu in the Worldwatch Institute’s latest Vital Signs Online trend (www.worldwatch.org).
Solar PV installations nearly matched those of hydropower and, for the first time, outpaced wind additions. Even though photovoltaics continue to dwarf CSP capacity, the CSP market also had another year of impressive growth. By the end of 2013, a total of 19 countries had CSP plants installed or under construction.
Consumption of power from PV and CSP plants increased by 30 percent globally in 2013 to reach 124.8 terawatt-hours. Europe accounted for the majority of global solar power consumption (67 percent), followed by Asia (23.9 percent) and North America (8.1 percent). Worldwide, solar consumption equaled 0.5 percent of electricity generation from all sources.
Despite the record growth in installations, global investments in solar electricity were down 20 percent (from $142.9 billion in 2012 to $113.7 billion in 2013), reflecting a significant decrease in costs. In July 2014, global PV module spot prices reached an all-time low of $0.63 per watt. For the first time, Asia overtook Europe as the largest regional market.
While global PV module production increased by only 3 percent over 2012, module shipments jumped by 24 percent, signaling an easing of oversupply problems.
Prospects are bright for solar development as prices continue to fall and approach grid parity in an increasing number of contexts. Rooftop solar is already less expensive per megawatt-hour than retail electricity in Australia, Brazil, Denmark, Italy, and Germany. Estimates now also show that PV has become price-competitive without subsidies in 15 countries. For 2014, solar installations are estimated to reach 40-51 gigawatts.
Country Highlights from the Report:
~ China installed 12.9 gigawatts of PV, the most ever installed in one year by any country. The country’s momentous expansion was fueled largely by its feed-in tariff (FIT) program, which supports large, grid-connected utility-scale projects as well as distributed generation projects. However, grid connections are struggling to keep up with the rapid pace of China’s PV deployment.
~ Europe installed close to 11 GW of PV. This represented the second annual decline in installations after peaking at 22.3 GW in 2011. In Germany, a reduction of FIT rates and an increase in regulations for utility-scale projects contributed to the fall in installations.
~ North America added 5.2 GW of PV. The United States installed the third most PV worldwide, with 4.8 GW.
~ In Central and South America, solar development has been sluggish. Despite power consumption more than doubling in 2013, the region still accounts for a small fraction of the world’s solar power.
~ The Middle East and Africa had little PV activity, with the exception of Israel and South Africa, which added 420 MW and 75 MW, respectively.
About the Worldwatch Institute:
Worldwatch is an independent research organization based in Washington, D.C. that works on energy, resource, and environmental issues. The Institute’s State of the World report is published annually in more than a dozen languages. For more information, visit www.worldwatch.org.
In 2014, major debates and discussions surrounding climate change and green living in the United States has placed an unprecedented focus on renewable energy. The future growth in the renewable energy sector is slated to be significant as American’s make an effort to minimize their energy footprint on Earth.
While the support and evolution of renewable energy technologies is growing rapidly in 2014, supporters of renewable energy have been considering and exploring such technologies for close to a century.
For instance, the technological growth during the World Wars lead to the military exploring different renewable energy sources. In the 1950’s, solar power began to be developed, with the first high power solar cell made of silicon developed in 1954. It provided 6% efficiency, with a cost of $286/watt.
The early 1970’s marked further interest, as the Club of Rome think tank published a report stating that Earth has finite resources.
During the 1980’s, a 1 megawatt solar power station was built in California. This was the first facility designed on a utility scale.
Nuclear power had been considered a serious possibility for clean energy, though the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear incident cast doubt on this as a viable energy source.
Throughout the early 2000’s, talk and use of renewable energies has increased significantly, with an 8% use in 2007 in the US. Europe also saw an increase, with a 62% new power generating capacity in 2009.
There are several indications of positive future trends when it comes to clean, renewable sources of energy. These include the following:
*Importing of net energy in the US has decreased since 2012, by 15%, while there has been a 13% increase in renewable energy production within the US since 2012.
*There are 80,700 workers in the field of wind power, as of 2012, 25,000 jobs in the geothermal field, and 70,400 jobs in the field of biopower. Also, other careers have seen an upward trend in recent years.
*This is a global trend, with 5.7 million workers who work in the field of renewable energy. There is currently a shortage of workers in these fields, so an increase in technical training is necessary.
*2030 is the year that is being focused on for projected growth of trained professionals in these areas, and increased use of these energy sources.
To learn more about the future of renewable energy, checkout the infographic below created by the New Jersey Institute of Technology
April 29, 2014 CARLSBAD, Calif. & PHOENIX–(BUSINESS WIRE)–NRG Energy, Inc. (NYSE:NRG), through its wholly-owned subsidiary NRG Solar, along with partner MidAmerican Solar announced they have achieved substantial completion at their Agua Caliente Solar Photovoltaic Facility, a 290 megawatt (MW) photovoltaic facility located on 2,400 acres of land between Yuma and Phoenix, Ariz. The electricity that is generated by the station, which can support 230,000 homes at peak capacity, is being sold to Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) under a 25-year power purchase agreement.
“It is exciting to see this project become fully operational and begin to realize the full benefit of emissions savings with the clean energy generated at Agua Caliente.”
“Large-scale utility accomplishments, like our Agua Caliente project, raise the bar in terms of our clean-energy technology and production,” said Tom Doyle, president, NRG Solar. “Proving that we can build both the world’s largest solar thermal and now one of the world’s largest solar photovoltaic facilities advance NRG’s mission to reshape the energy landscape that is incredibly beneficial to both the economy and in how we produce and consume energy. Whether it’s partnering, developing or investing, NRG will lead the way in providing a diverse set of solutions and technologies to get the US to the ultimate goal of providing affordable, reliable clean energy for everyone.”
The Agua Caliente project uses clean solar power to avoid the annual emission of approximately 324,000 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which is the equivalent of taking nearly 70,000 cars off the road. The creation of 400 jobs during the project’s construction provided a boost to the local economy and it benefits the environment by producing clean, renewable energy. The project received a $967 million loan guarantee from the US Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office.
“In 2012, our company made a commitment to invest in its first utility-scale solar project to foster economic development while demonstrating our commitment to the environment,” said Richard Weech, chief financial officer, MidAmerican Renewables, who also oversees the activities of MidAmerican Solar. “It is exciting to see this project become fully operational and begin to realize the full benefit of emissions savings with the clean energy generated at Agua Caliente.”
The Agua Caliente Solar Project was named Solar Project of the Year by Renewable Energy World, a leading industry magazine, and PV Project of the Year by Solar Power Generation USA, the industry’s leading utility-scale solar power conference.
Agua Caliente is the largest of 10 operational utility-scale solar PV facilities in three states in which NRG has ownership interest. Agua Caliente is also one of several NRG assets that are subject to a Right of First Offer Agreement between NRG and its publicly owned subsidiary, NRG Yield, Inc. (NYSE: NYLD). First Solar, Inc. designed and constructed the project using its advanced thin-film photovoltaic modules and will operate and maintain the facility for NRG and MidAmerican Solar.
About NRG and NRG Solar
NRG is leading a customer-driven reinvention of the US energy industry by delivering cleaner and smarter energy choices – and solar power is a great resource to provide a more sustainable (and more affordable) lifestyle. From the world’s largest photovoltaic project to professional sports stadium rooftops to customizable canopies to parking covers, NRG Solar’s innovative solutions reduce environmental impact and demonstrate the availability and performance of cleaner energy choices to a broad public audience. A Fortune 500 company, NRG creates value through reliable and efficient conventional generation while driving innovation in solar and renewable power, electric vehicle ecosystems, carbon capture technology and customer-centric energy solutions. NRG’s retail electricity providers serve almost three million customers throughout the country. More information is available at nrgenergy.com and nrgsolar.com. Connect with NRG Energy and NRG Solar on Facebook and follow us on Twitter@nrgenergy and @nrgsolar.
About MidAmerican Renewables and MidAmerican Solar
MidAmerican Renewables, LLC owns and operates wind, geothermal, solar and hydro projects in the unregulated renewables market. MidAmerican Renewables is headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, and has offices in Phoenix, Ariz., and Calipatria, Calif. Information about MidAmerican Renewables is available on the company’s website and its Twitter, Facebook and YouTube pages, which can be accessed via www.midamericanrenewablesllc.com.
MidAmerican Solar is a subsidiary of MidAmerican Renewables and is headquartered in Phoenix, Ariz. MidAmerican Solar’s projects include the 550-megawatt Topaz Solar Farms in San Luis Obispo County, Calif.; the 579-megawatt Solar Star projects, two projects co-located in Kern and Los Angeles counties in California; and the 290-megawatt Agua Caliente project in Yuma County, Ariz. More information is available at www.midamericanrenewablesllc.com.
Deserts are ideal locations for solar farms – they get a lot of sunshine and the land is relatively inexpensive. On the other hand, their arid nature means that a lot of sand flies around, and sand on a photovoltaic panel blocks valuable sunlight, decreasing its output. Depending on location and weather conditions, dusty panels could decrease solar farm production by 3% to 15% in a given month. Periodic cleaning ensures that the panels get as much light as possible, but it’s a labor intensive process that may not pay for itself.
Ecoppia, an upstart company out of Israel, has an innovative, water-free solution: the E4 robotic PV cleaning system that dusts the panels using a self-cleaning microfiber cloth.
Please see link above for complete article. Video below courtesy of Ecoppia.
Ty Van De Motter and Kiran Krishnamurthi are two seventh graders at Ballard Brady Middle School in Pepper Pike, OH. During GeniusHour in Mrs. Lee Pop’s 7th grade Language Arts class they came up with an idea to build a solar lawn mower. GeniusHour is about an hour a week where the students can build whatever they want. It’s an idea that actually got its start at Google where they gave their employees 20% of their time to work on whatever they like.
Kiran and Ty believe that solar energy will play a big role in our future. They explain in their own words –
“Every year our world becomes more eco friendly. People come up with eco friendly cars and eco friendly heating systems, but what about an outdoors activity that works with the environment? Mowing your lawn! People complain about how it is too hot outside to mow the lawn, but they don’t focus on the benefits. All that radiant heat from the sun can be converted into a great source of energy, solar energy. When people mow their lawn they are outside in the sun. The sun’s energy can charge a solar panel. Our plan is to build a lawn mower that is powered by a solar panel. We will be connecting the panel to a battery so it does not blow up in our face. The panel will charge on its own but it can also be charging while people mow their lawn. We believe that this type of technology will “finish off” the gas-powered lawn mower.”
Kiran and Ty are currently writing to local business for sponsorships. They expect to finish their product before the end of the school year in June. If you would like to contact them please email them at email@example.com.
Best of luck boys!
The initial drawing-
Scottsdale, AZ – December 19, 2013 – As the holiday travel season begins, Kyocera Solar Inc. today announced that its industry-leading solar modules were selected to power the first phase of a 2.5MW parking lot canopy installation at Tucson International Airport. The 1MW first phase of the photovoltaic (PV) array, which offsets about a fifth of the terminal complex’s total power needs, is now operational and a dedication ceremony will be held at 11 am Mountain Time, December 20.
The project converts the abundant sunshine in “The Old Pueblo” into renewable energy powering the airport’s main terminal. It’s part of the airport’s ongoing environmental efforts, utilizing $5.7 million in funding awarded by the Federal Aviation Administration and $280,000 contributed by the Arizona Department of Transportation to offset a federal grant matching requirement.
Collaboration with Natural Power & Energy helped ensure that the system was properly sized for the airport’s power output and glare avoidance requirements. By working closely with Tucson-based contractor Barker-Morrissey Contracting, the Design-Build team was able to meet the tight installation deadlines of the 5-acre first phase with time to spare.
“Airports are an ideal location for solar canopies because of the large amounts of space they can cover, additionally serving as desired shade to cars parked for hours or even days,” said Steve Hill, president, Kyocera Solar Inc. “We are glad to have completed this first phase before the busy travel season; it’s a nice holiday bonus to know that part of the electricity usage in the main terminal is being offset by the parking lot’s large solar array. Kyocera Solar is proud to power this important project in our home state.”
The solar canopy structure is a 20-foot tall curved, open-lattice design comprised exclusively of efficient, durable Kyocera modules that create shade for parking spaces. Vegetated “green walls” are also planned, which will use live plants to create a cooling microclimate effect in the parking area. There is no additional charge for the parking spaces under the solar canopy.
This project’s federal grant is part of a program that provides funding for airport projects that promote energy efficiency under the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012.
“Kyocera’s responsibilities with every project are to assist throughout the lifecycle of that installation,” Hill stated. “Our technical expertise in addition to our 38 years of high quality module production experience adds value and can help reduce project costs. Kyocera’s success depends on our customer’s success.”
Construction on the main public parking lot began in May 2013, kicking off a three-phase installation expected to be completed in 2-3 years. Work has already begun on phase 2 in the remaining 7 acres of the parking area.
Tucson joins Chicago’s Midway as another major airport going green with Kyocera. Midway’s Quick Turn Around rental car washing and refueling facility was outfitted with Kyocera photovoltaic solar modules in October 2013.
To learn more about Kyocera Solar Solutions for both residential and commercial projects, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-223-9580.
BOULDER, COLO. – (October 15, 2013) Three new community-owned solar PV facilities by community solar pioneer Clean Energy Collective (CEC) began delivering power to ratepayers in Colorado this week, bringing to 10 the number of shared utility-scale arrays operating in the state. An additional 10 facilities, about 5 MW, are in the development pipeline for Colorado.
The resort town of Breckenridge, Colo. is now host to two 500 kW community-owned solar facilities that will serve Xcel Energy customers in Summit County. Both systems were sold out before construction was complete. A 400 kW community-owned system perched on a former Air Force hangar is also now delivering clean power to Denver County ratepayers. Combined with the 106 kW original array on the historic Hangar 2 building, this creates the nation’s largest building integrated PV (BIPV) installation at over 500 kW.
Introduced in 2010, CEC’s community-owned solar model (COS) was designed to provide every ratepayer in a utility territory the opportunity to purchase individual solar panels in a shared, locally-sited, utility-scale array. This innovation opens up solar PV ownership to renters, people in multi-dwelling buildings, properties with poor solar exposure, and individuals of all income levels. Because they are sited and maintained for maximum production, utility-scale facilities provide more energy for longer than smaller, individual systems, allowing for a faster and greater financial return.
“Our model is not supplanting people who want to and can put solar on their house, but rather opening the market to the other 75% of electric users who have until now faced insurmountable barriers,” said CEC founder Paul Spencer.
While community solar makes PV energy available to everyone on the grid, real traction for rapid deployment has come from its broad appeal for utilities. Large IOU’s, municipal utilities, and rural cooperatives can add solar to their mix with a turn-key solution. It provides in-network, reliable, utility-scale clean energy generation at reasonable power rates that applies nicely to RPS requirements without capital outlay or responsibility for monitoring, customer administration, operations and maintenance.
CEC has partnered with six utilities so far in Colorado, including 11 facilities rewarded through Xcel Energy’s Solar*Rewards Communities program. Once complete, access to solar ownership will be available to more than 95% of Colorado ratepayers. CEC has also installed the state’s first community-owned solar gardens for New Mexico, Minnesota, and Vermont, and has topped $40 million in facility developments.
“CEC has cracked the code, opening a consumer solar market that is four-times larger than the onsite solar marketplace as we have traditionally known it,” said Nikhil Garg, Vice President of Black Coral Capital, a Boston-based investment firm focused on cleantech and alternative energy.
About Clean Energy Collective (CEC)
Colorado-based Clean Energy Collective is a developer of community-based renewable energy facilities and a national leader in community power generation. CEC pioneered the model of delivering clean power-generation through utility-scale facilities that are collectively owned by participating utility customers, establishing the first community-owned solar garden in the country near El Jebel, Colorado. Today, CEC has 23 community-owned facilities online or in development, representing more than 10 MW of community-sited clean energy.