The largest producer of oil and gas in Oman is to build one the world's largest solar plants.
The benefits of solar power to business will be showcased today at Pitmedden Garden estate in Aberdeenshire while the UK swelters in the grip of heatwave. The event is part of the industry’s annual “solar independence day” scheme that opens a selection of UK solar-powered homes and enterprises to the public. The National Trust for Scotland (NTS) has installed a 115 panel array on the roof of the estate’s gardeners storage shed, which is generating power for the site’s museum of farming life and other buildings.
Renewable energy will draw almost two-thirds of the spending on new power plants over the next 25 years, dwarfing spending on fossil fuels, as plunging costs make solar the first choice for consumers and the poorest nations. Solar power will draw $3.7 trillion in investment through 2040, with a total of $8 trillion going toward clean energy. That’s almost double the $4.1 trillion that will be spent on coal, natural gas and nuclear plants, according to a forecast from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
Billionaire Viktor Vekselberg is out to prove that solar has a place in Russia, the world’s largest exporter of oil and gas. Hevel Solar, a venture between Vekselberg’s Renova and OAO Rusnano, plans 22.5 billion rubles ($450 million) of solar farms through 2018 and says diversifying power generation will benefit the country. “You don’t have to eat potatoes all the time,” Hevel Chief Executive Officer Igor Akhmerov said in an interview in Moscow. “You can have some salad as well.” At first glance, solar in Russia makes little sense. The country has surplus energy, and the sun barely crests the horizon in midwinter in Moscow. Yet it does shine along the nation’s southern border with Kazakhstan, where Hevel completed its second solar farm in the Orenburg region last week.
Scotland has always led the way in renewables and All Energy has long been a showcase for the wide range of technologies which will enable the renewable and low carbon transition.
Campaigners are calling for more homes and businesses to make use of solar power after figures showed there was enough sunshine last month to power electricity supplies. Around 35,000 homes and 600 business premises in Scotland currently have solar panels. Data from WeatherEnergy showed that sunshine in Edinburgh in April generated more electricity than is used in an average home - 113% - while in Aberdeen the figure was 111%, 106% in Glasgow and 104% in Inverness. For homes fitted with solar hot water panels, there was enough sunshine in the cities to cover average usage.
The launch of a new battery for homes that can store solar power for use in the evenings is “another nail in the coffin of conventional utilities”, it has been claimed. Tesla announced it was launching the wall-mounted lithium ion rechargeable storage units, based on the batteries used in the company’s electric vehicles, at an event in California. Chief executive Elon Musk said: “Our goal here is to fundamentally change the way the world uses energy”, as he launched the new “powerwall” batteries, which are little bigger than a conventional boiler. The technology will cost between 3,000 and 3,500 US dollars (£2,000 - £2,300) and will start shipping in the US in the summer.
No large scale solar farms will be built under the new green energy subsidy system in the next year, it has been revealed. The industry hit out at “rollercoaster policies” for solar - which it said could be cheaper than gas in a few years - after it emerged neither of the two solar projects which won funding for 2015/2016 in the first renewables subsidy auction of its kind were going ahead. It means only three of the five solar farms awarded subsidies, paid for through consumer bills, in the auction will be built in the next few years, compared to all 15 onshore wind projects which won payments under the new “Contracts for Difference” scheme.
Cheap and popular solar power has lost out in an auction of contracts for green energy projects worth more than £315 million, the industry has claimed. The first auction of its kind has awarded subsidies, paid from consumer bills, to 27 renewable electricity projects which together could power 1.4 million homes - equivalent to all the households in Wales. But just five solar farms, which were competing with other “established“ technologies such as onshore wind and hydro for a share of a £50 million pot, have secured contracts for 71 megawatts (MW) of power. Fifteen onshore wind farms, providing 10 times as much capacity (749MW), have secured subsidies in the auction. Offshore wind was competing as a less mature technology in a separate part of the auction which accounted for the majority of the £315 million, and secured contracts for two wind farms with a combined capacity of 1,162MW.
The number of solar panel installations throughout the UK has almost doubled in a year, as householders and communities increasingly grasp the chance to generate their own power. There are now almost 650,000 installations ranging from large-scale solar farms in fields to schemes on homes, schools and police stations, with electricity-generating photovoltaic (PV) panels on one in every 50 households in Britain. Industry body the Solar Trade Association’s chief executive, Paul Barwell, puts the popularity of solar down to falling product costs, easy technology and financial benefits, with home owners receiving “feed-in tariff” payments for power generated.
Residents from a village which was at the centre of huge anti-fracking protests have seen the completion of their first community-owned solar panel project. A total of 69 panels have been installed on a cow-shed as part of a long-term plan to generate enough power to match the entire electricity use of Balcombe in West Sussex. Thousands of protesters converged on Balcombe in the summer of 2013 after energy firm Cuadrilla started exploratory drilling for oil, sparking fears that it would go on to frack there.
Just Energy Group has struck a deal with Clean Power Finance (CPF) to sell residential solar electricity. The agreement will provide CPF’s networks with a large solar sales pipeline as well as access to Just Energy’s 1.6million residential energy customers. The companies plan to roll out the solar program beginning in the first calendar quarter of 2015 in New York and California, before expanding the offering into key target solar markets across North America.
Scotland’s solar power capacity has increased by almost a third in the past year, according to new figures. More than 35,000 homes and 600 business premises now have solar photo-voltaic (PV) systems, December figures from regulator Ofgem show. The capacity of these systems has reached 140 megawatts, a rise of 32% from 106 megawatts last year and a huge increase on just 2 megawatts in 2010.
A way of manufacturing solar cells much more cheaply than at present has apparently been devised in Norway.
Brazil’s energy regulator Aneel has set the highest price for wind and solar power at an energy auction this month. Regulators set a ceiling price and developers bid down the coast they’re willing to deliver electricity, with the lowest winning long-term contracts to sell power.