Published on August 20th, 2013 | by Zachary Shahan7
Cleantech Buffet (Solar Panel Installation Boom, First Solar On Verge Of Another Record…)
Realizing that 1) I missed breakfast time today (at least where I live and across the continental US), 2) it’s never breakfast time everywhere across the globe, and 3) we have quite a global readership, I’m switching from doing a “cleantech breakfast platter” to a “cleantech buffet” — sound good? Here’s the first cleantech buffet of top cleantech stories from the past few days (other than our own):
There’s a solar panel installation boom going on. In the EU. In the US. In Asia. In South America. Globally. Solar panel installation volumes have skyrocketed due to falling solar power prices and decent solar power incentives from thoughtful governments.
The latest research from GTM Research shows that ⅔ of the world’s installed solar power capacity has occurred within just the last 2½ years. Furthermore, the solar panel installation boom is just getting started. Solar panel installations in the coming 2½ years are projected to double global solar power capacity.
Do you remember the point when CDs took over and replaced cassette tapes? Or the point when cell phones took over and basically replaced landlines? You probably can’t remember a specific point at which those things happened, but you lived through these technology “revolutions” and can probably remember a few memorable points along the way.
The pattern is normally the same: you starting hearing about this new tech and its “revolutionary” benefits. It sounds a bit futuristic and perhaps even unlikely. It’s hard to believe the current tech will be replaced anytime soon. However, within a few years, poof, the switch has occurred.
First Solar has plowed through the solar business difficulties of the past few years. And it is looking to push through strong to the other side. As one checkpoint along the way, it looks like First Solar is set to be to first solar developer to install over 1 GW (1,000 MW) of solar power within one calendar year.
Depending on who you ask, solar stocks are always either on the rebound and about to rise indefinitely, or about to fall further than they have for the past few years. What’s been going on in 2013? And what’s the future going to bring?
Honda (the car company, not the star soccer player) is going solar. Also, thanks to the low cost of solar today and incentives for selling solar power to the grid, the famous Japanese car company is going solar in a big way and will sell surplus electricity to the Japanese grid. (What, you thought Honda was becoming a solar power developer?)
A new report from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories, Tracking the Sun VI: An Historical Summary of the Installed Price of Photovoltaics in the United States from 1998 to 2012, shows that the total price accumulated after solar panel installers were done with their jobs has fallen considerably within the past year and a half.
We’ve reported a few times on the price of solar falling so much within just the past few years. It’s one of the big stories of the decade, in the US and worldwide. But it bears repeating, because most people are probably completely unaware of this, and completely unaware of the fact that solar panel manufacturers and solar panel installers have brought down costs s much that solar power can save millions of people a trainload of money.
It’s time to answer another one of the common questions that people ask when they first start considering the lucrative and enticing prospect of going solar — “What are the best solar panels?”
In the real world, there’s no such thing as “the best solar panels” — the closest thing would be “the best solar panels for this application.”
In other words, the best solar panels for your home are not the best solar panels for a solar farm in the desert or even the best solar panels for a Walmart solar roof. And they certainly aren’t the same as the best solar panels for a NASA satellite.
We’ve been writing for months about the massive solar power growth around the US and around the world, as well as the tremendous amount of money you can make by installing solar panels on your home or business (tens of thousands of dollars, on average). However, we haven’t posted any videos on the actual installing of solar panels on one’s roof. So, I decided to look around a bit for some good solar panels installation videos, and I’m happy to say that I’ve found a handful of cool and useful ones. They’re all a bit different, and the last one is definitely unique.
A group of solar advocates have received a cease and desist letter from Southern California Edison over a satirical video that dares to claim that SCE “is committed to rooftop solar — and by committed we mean committed to keeping it off your roof!” Proof that SCE lacks both a sense of humor and common sense. (H/t Chris Clark at the ReWire blog on KCET.org)
The three groups threatened — presente.org, the Sierra Club (really!) and The Other 98% — have a website titled Save Rooftop Solar where the video was originally displayed. On their website they make the case that rooftop solar is good for the Latino community. That seems like a fair message to be communicating, but it is the group’s attack on SCE’s lobbying efforts that drew the IOU’s ire. Here’s the video that SCE doesn’t want anyone to see:
Energy expert Bernard Chabot takes a look at the latest data for low and medium wind velocities and finds that Germany could have a large share of wind power from turbines in areas without great wind resources and even raise the capacity factor of turbines in the process.
As I write these words, 7.4 per cent of the electrons powering my laptop come from wind farms – travelling at the speed of light between hundreds of silently whirring generators and the complex electronics in my computer. The output of wind farms over the past nine days – the span of National Science Week – has been particularly excellent, and it’s worth diving into some data to have a closer look.
Solar + Wind
Hitachi Chemical Co., a leading lithium-ion battery manufacturer, is reportedly set to more than quadruple its Li-ion battery production capacity for solar and wind power plants. The company is reportedly investing ¥2.2 billion ($359.3 million) into a Li-ion battery plant of subsidiary Shin-Kobe Electric Machinery Co. in order to boost capacity.
A few weeks before the German parliamentary elections, a consumer advocacy group has published a survey of public opinion on the country’s energy transition. The findings are clear: Germans support the goals of the Energiewende. Nonetheless, Craig Morris has some nits to pick with the poll’s questions.
“Although the Company is currently exploring options for a restructuring or sale of the entire business and/or assets of the Company, the Company may need to file a petition commencing a case under the United States Bankruptcy Code as part of any such process or otherwise in the very near future.
“The Company is facing some uncertainty regarding the resolution of a phenomenon occurring in some of the Company’s previously installed EVSEs which causes overheating, and in certain rare cases melting, of the connector plug that connects the EVSE to the electric vehicle when charging.”
Nissan and Ecotricity have installed 13 more rapid charge points for electric cars at Welcome Break motorway service stations as part of plans to create a nationwide ‘Electric Highway’.
There are now 16 rapid chargers at Welcome Break sites, each capable of refuelling an all-electric Nissan LEAF from zero to 80 per cent battery capacity in just 30 minutes. The chargers are powered by wind or solar energy and are free to use for members of the scheme.
With the radiation still leaking from the Fukushima Daichi nuclear plant, the owners have come up with a plan to stop radioactive water from making it to the ocean – freezing it.
72,000 gallons of water wash radioactive materials out to the ocean from Fukushima each day. TEPCO has been unable to seal the cracks in the containment vessel, so they are going to try sealing the failed nuclear plant from the outside with an ice wall.
Transport is responsible for around a seventh of greenhouse gas emissions globally. Of these emissions almost two thirds are the result of passenger travel while the rest is due to freight.
So passenger travel is a big deal for climate.