Chile’s Mines Run on Renewables

Chilean mines are more and more run on renewable energy, which will soon be bigger than conventional energy in Chile. Thanks to China, writes John Mathews.

Source: www.energypost.eu

>” […] Miners in Chile are building independent solar, solar thermal, wind and geothermal power plants that produce power at costs competitive with or lower than conventional fuel supplies or grid-connected electric power.

Consider these facts.

The Cerro Dominador concentrated solar power (CSP) plant (see here for an explanation of the different solar technologies), rated at 110 megawatts, will supply regular uninterrupted power to the Antofagasta Minerals complex in the dry north of Chile, in the Atacama desert. Construction began in 2014. This is one of the largest CSP plants in the world, utilising an array of mirrors and lenses to concentrate the sun’s rays onto a power tower, and utilising thermal storage in the form of molten salts, perfected by Spanish company Abengoa. It will supply steady, dispatchable power, day and night.

The El Arrayán wind power project, rated at 115 megawatts, now supplies power to the Los Pelambres mine of Antofagasta Minerals, using Pattern Energy (US) as technology partner. Antofagasta Minerals has also contracted with US solar company SunEdison to build solar panel arrays at the Los Pelambres mine, with a power plant rated at 70 megawatts; while the related plant operated by Amenecer Solar CAP is rated at 100 megawatts, the largest such array in Latin America when it came online in 2014.

There are many more such projects under review or in the pipeline. The Chilean Renewable Energy Center reported in 2014 that the pipeline of renewable power projects in Chile added up to 18,000 megawatts (or 18 gigawatts), which is more than the country’s entire current electric power grid. […]”<

 

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Lightweight ‘solar cloth’ photovoltaics for Integration with Building Structures

A Cambridge start-up believes its flexible solar panelling solution could fundamentally change the landscape of solar installation in the commercial sector.

The Solar Cloth Company’s award winning flexible thin film photovoltaics (FTFP) are a few micrometres thick and can be integrated into flexible and lightweight tensile structures called building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV). In doing so, they provide an alternative to traditional photovoltaic panels that are heavy and cumbersome.

Source: www.theengineer.co.uk

See on Scoop.itGreen Building Design – Architecture & Engineering

Grid Parity Is Accelerating the US Solar Revolution

“Solar PV installations in the U.S. increased an impressive 485% from 2010 to 2013, and by early 2014, there were more than 480,000 systems in the country. That’s 13,400 MW, enough to power about 2.4 million typical American homes.”

 

Source: www.pvsolarreport.com

>” […] You can definitely see a correlation between electricity price and amount of solar installed, though there are exceptions. Kansas, for example, has fairly high grid prices but little solar — a testament to the fact that good policy is also a key ingredient in promoting solar. And Alaska is not exactly highly populated. For the most part, though, solar is flourishing in states with high electricity rates.

In some states like California, already one of the most expensive places for electricity in the country, residential rates will soon be going up further. Customers in the PG&E service area are looking at a 3.8% increase in electricity bills. Overall, electricity prices in the U.S. have been rising rapidly. According to the Energy Information Administration, in the first half of 2014, U.S. retail residential electricity prices went up 3.2% from the same period last year — the highest year-over-year growth since 2009. […]

The fact is, solar and other renewables just keep getting cheaper. We’ve noticed a number of stories debating this recently, many in reaction to an Economist article on how expensive wind and solar really are. But as Amory Lovins points out, the reality is that renewables are getting cheaper all the time, regardless of anyone’s arguments.

What does this mean? It means that grid parity is coming sooner than you might think […]”<

See on Scoop.itGreen Energy Technologies & Development

Solar Energy Storage Added to Eight California Schools

Burton School District, in the heart of California’s sun-drenched San Joaquin Valley, will also house combined solar and energy storage systems[…]

Source: www.pvsolarreport.com

>”In the commercial sector, the cost of energy storage is now low enough that businesses are finding it a useful addition to solar. Generally, businesses’ peak energy consumption is when electricity is most expensive, which makes energy storage especially useful.

As the cost of energy storage continues to decline, large solar companies have been integrating it into their product offerings to complement a solar system. […]

The district will install solar and DemandLogic to generate and store its own clean, renewable electricity at eight schools. This will be the largest combined solar and energy storage installation SolarCity has undertaken to date. It will allow the district schools to reduce energy costs by using stored electricity to lower peak demand.

SolarCity will install the district’s solar systems and battery storage at eight elementary and middle schools, as well as additional solar generation at a district office. The solar installations will total more than 1.4 MW of capacity, with storage providing an additional 360 kW (720 kWh) of power to reduce peak demand. The new solar systems are expected to save the district more than $1 million over the life of the contracts, and the DemandLogic battery storage systems could save thousands more on demand charges each year.

[…]

The new SolarCity systems are expected to generate 2,300 MWh of solar energy annually, and enough over the life of the contract to power more than 4,000 homes for a year. The solar systems will also offset over 43 million pounds of carbon dioxide and save more than 203 million gallons of water, an especially important environmental benefit in the drought-stricken valley. The entire storage project is expected to be completed by May 2015.”<

See on Scoop.itGreen Energy Technologies & Development

Multifamily Building Energy Efficiency: SLEEC Financing

This winter, ACEEE, in partnership with Energi Insurance Services, will host a second gathering of select members of the Small Lenders Energy Efficiency Community (SLEEC) in Washington, D.C. The initial SLEEC convening in October 2013 brought together small- to medium-size lenders to discuss strategies for expanding activity in the market for energy efficiency financing. Building off the success of that first meeting, the second SLEEC gathering will focus exclusively on financing in the multifamily sector […]

Source: aceee.org

>” […] The goal of the upcoming SLEEC meeting is to discuss how recent developments inform the lender perspective on the size, attractiveness, and viability of the finance market for multifamily efficiency. We chose to address multifamily this year because potential savings are phenomenal at an estimated $3.4 billion per annum, and multifamily has traditionally been characterized by the label “hard to reach” due to significant barriers to entry. Single-family residential, large commercial, and MUSH (municipal, universities, schools, and hospitals) markets pose fewer barriers and have therefore been easier to approach, while multifamily is a more complex market posing greater obstacles.

The first and most commonly cited obstacle is known as the split-incentive problem: Landlords and building owners don’t always have an incentive to pursue energy efficiency improvements since their tenants would be the ones benefitting from reductions in energy bills. The next most bemoaned roadblocks are a lack of information and lack of available capital. Landlords and owners are experts at running their buildings, but may be in the dark on energy efficiency. Utilities and many loan agencies, while knowledgeable about energy efficiency, lack experience interacting with tenants. The resulting information gap inhibits energy efficiency projects from getting off the ground. This problem is exacerbated by a lack of capital, especially in the affordable housing market, where many buildings owners hold 30-year mortgages on their property with only one refinancing opportunity after 15 years. Unless building owners and potential lenders can capitalize on this small window, many projects would not have another opportunity to finance efficiency improvements for another 15 years.

Despite these barriers, there are a number of successful initiatives that are poised for impact. Perhaps the most successful is Energy Savers, a Chicago-based partnership between Elevate Energy and the Community Investment Corporation (CIC) that has retrofitted 17,500 apartments since 2008.  […] Innovative programs such as these are paving the way for energy efficiency in the multifamily housing market.

A perceived lack of capital may be attributable to issues surrounding the valuation of energy efficiency from a building owner’s perspective that manifests as low demand. […] “<

 

See on Scoop.itGreen Building Design – Architecture & Engineering

Residential Battery Storage Nears Grid Parity in Germany

It’s very close, according to the German government and some industry observers.

Source: www.greentechmedia.com

>”It is now generally recognized that rooftop solar has reached “socket parity” — meaning that it is comparable to or cheaper than grid prices — in many countries over the last few years. The big question for consumers and utilities is when socket parity will arrive for solar and battery storage.

[…] Electricity prices are rising and solar PV prices are falling, which means that if battery storage falls to around €0.20 per kilowatt-hour (U.S. $0.27), parity will be achieved.

Australian investment firm Morgans, in an assessment of Brisbane-based battery storage developer Redflow, suggests that that company’s zinc-bromine flow battery may already be commercially economic in Germany, the country that leads the world in terms of household adoption and government support for renewables.

Morgans notes that in Germany, the cost of household grid power is around €0.30 per kilowatt-hour (U.S. $0.40) and that the government is now subsidizing residential energy storage systems that are connected to solar systems.

“Given Germany’s substantial adoption of solar PV…costs for solar power range from €0.10 to €0.15 per kilowatt-hour (half the grid price), so when energy storage costs reach €0.15 to €0.20, this will mean renewable energy costs will be at parity with grid prices,” Morgans concludes.  […]”<

 

See on Scoop.itGreen Energy Technologies & Development

Canadian green building market shows strong growth into future reported by CaGBC

The Canadian green building market has grown in the last few years and is expected to continue its strong growth in years to come, according to a recent report released by the Canadian Green Building Council (CaGBC).

Source: dcnonl.com

>”The report projects the figure to grow in upcoming years and a shift to happen as firms ramp up their green projects to more than 60 per cent. The main factors triggering the green trend include companies wanting to do ‘the right thing’ when it comes to social and environmental responsibility.

“Doing the right thing was very important to a lot of the respondents, which surprised me…obviously the Canadian industry has a lot social consciousness” added Mueller.

Companies are also experiencing significant cost savings through various efficiencies.

Eighty two per cent of building owners and developers report decreases in energy consumption compared to similar buildings and 68 per cent of owners/developers report decreases in water consumption.

In Canada, businesses reduced their operating costs by 17 per cent through green buildings in 2014, ahead of the global average of 15 per cent in 2012.

[…]

 

The top sectors currently with green projects expected to be certified LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) are, new institutional construction, new commercial construction, new low-rise residential, new mid and high-rise residential, and existing buildings/retrofit.

“In the public sector, the institutional sector, there’s a very strong commitment to build buildings to the LEED standard,” Mueller added. “Our focus is very much on building the LEED standard.”

Green Building is also beginning to build a strong business case for itself, according to the report.

Thirty seven per cent of owners project a spike in occupancy rates, 32 per cent expect improved tenant retention, 26 per cent expect improved lease rates and 13 per cent forecast a higher return on investment.

The median payback period for investment on a new green building is eight years, according to the report.

According to Mueller, owners and developers who are repeat green builders usually maintain a positive experience, but it’s the first timers that need to be shown the right steps in pursuing green building.

“If you’re an owner doing it for the first time, you have to be diligent, you have to be prudent to select the right consultants,” he said. “You have to do your due diligence and we certainly will be at the council to help first-time users to apply the LEED program and to make sure they have a positive experience.”<

Kyocera Opens Japan’s Largest Offshore Solar Power Plant

See on Scoop.itGreen & Sustainable News

The Kyocera Corporation just opened a 70 megawatt solar power plants off the southern coast of Japan.

Duane Tilden‘s insight:

>Kyocera partnered with six other companies to develop the solar plant, which is located in the Kagoshima Prefecture. The company hopes that this latest offshore venture will set a precedent for a cleaner Japan, especially in light of the 2011 Fukushima disaster. The solar plant is designed to inspire and encourage Japan to make the switch to more renewable energy sources.

The Kagoshima Nanatsujima Solar Power Plant was made possible in part because of Japan’s revised feed-in-tariff (FIT) program, which was restructured in July, 2012 to better accommodate solar energy. The adjusted FIT plan requires local utilities to purchase 100 percent of the power generated by solar plants that produce more than 10 kW.<

Read more: Kyocera Opens Japan’s Largest Offshore Solar Power Plant | Inhabitat – Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building

See on inhabitat.com

Bloomberg predicts: Solar to add more megawatts than wind in 2013

See on Scoop.itGreen Energy Technologies & Development

Bloomberg New Energy Finance predicts that for the first time more new solar power capacity — compared to wind — will be added to the world’s global energy infrastructure this year.

Duane Tilden‘s insight:

>In an BNEF’s analysts forecast 36.7GW of new photovoltaic capacity this year, compared to 33.8 GW of new onshore wind farms, and  1.7 GW of offshore wind.

In 2012, wind — onshore and offshore — added 46.6 GW, while PV added 30.5GW, record figures in both cases. But in 2013, a slowdown in the world’s two largest wind markets, China and the US, is opening the way for the rapidly growing PV market to overtake wind.

“The dramatic cost reductions in PV, combined with new incentive regimes in Japan and China, are making possible further, strong growth in volumes,” said Jenny Chase, head of solar analysis at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “Europe is a declining market, because many countries there are rapidly moving away from incentives, but it will continue to see new PV capacity added.”<

See on www.renewableenergymagazine.com

Robotic Technologies Applied to Solar Energy Market – Installation and Maintenance

See on Scoop.itGreen Building Design – Architecture & Engineering

Mountain View CA (SPX) Sep 20, 2013 – … robotic technologies deliver revolutionary installation and cleaning services at highly competitive prices … for building and maintenance of utility-scale solar plants..

Duane Tilden‘s insight:

>The typical installation process for utility-scale projects is similar to that of a small-scale, 20-panel, residential installation. Despite incremental improvements to the process, a 200,000-panel installation has retained many of the characteristics of a 20-panel installation.

They are both labor-intensive, and require repetitive bolt-tightening and glass-hauling. While these are minor flaws in a 20-panel system, they create significant inefficiencies in 20,000- or 200,000-panel systems.

Alion Energy has plugged the shortcomings of the current installation methods by changing the materials and design used in the mounting structure as well as by automating the installation. By combining robotic installation technology with established construction practices, Alion Energy has built a system twice as fast and 75 percent more labor-efficient that lowers solar electricity’s levelized cost of energy (LCOE) to compete with traditional energy sources.<

See on www.solardaily.com