Too much cleantech news is a good thing, but it sometimes means I need to stuff a bunch of big stories into one article. Following some roundups of autonomous driving news and battery & EV charging news, here’s one more roundup of some cool cleantech stories no one wanted to take and write full pieces about. This one is 100% focused on solar power. (Click on the headlines to read the full stories.)
1. Volkswagen gets one of India’s largest rooftop solar systems
India is one of the top solar power markets in the world, so to install one of the largest rooftop solar power systems on your building means you’ve got a big-a** roof. (Volkswagen raises hand.)
“ŠKODA AUTO Volkswagen India Private Limited has commissioned one of the largest solar-power rooftop systems in India at its plant in Chakan, Pune. Together with its partner Amp Energy, the car manufacturer has installed a total of 25,770 photovoltaic panels. … The installation will cover up to 15 per cent of the site’s annual electricity requirements, and the panels have a maximum output of 8.5 megawatts.”
2. UK’s largest subsidy-free solar farm turns on
Solar power is cost-competitive even in rainy Great Britain. That means that even without government support, solar projects are being installed in the UK every day. One recent installation now lays claim to the title of largest subsidy-free solar farm in the Brexiting UK.
“A 50MWp solar farm on a former airfield on the border of Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire is now operational, its owners have announced. … NextEnergy Solar Fund says project demonstrates financial viability and energy generation potential of large scale subsidy-free solar projects in the UK.”
3. Ethiopia signs up for 250 MW of solar power from ACWA Power
Ethiopian Electric Power, Ethiopia’s state-owned electric utility, signed two power purchase agreements (PPAs) with ACWA Power for electricity coming from solar power plants with a total of 250 MW of solar power capacity.
“ACWA will sell the power at a price of US$0.02.526/kWh – what was billed as a record low for Africa back in September – over the course of 20 years. … ACWA fended off stiff competition from 12 pre-qualified bidders within the auction process.”
4. Warrington Borough Council (UK) gets hybrid solar-battery power plant
“GRIDSERVE today announces the completion and hand over of the UK’s most advanced solar farm to Warrington Borough Council in a project which paves the way for a nationwide expansion of subsidy-free renewable power, to meet the UK’s net zero power commitments.
“The 34.7MWp solar farm at York is the largest to be completed since 2016, and it is pioneering a new commercial model using 30 MWh of battery storage and sophisticated technologies to maximise revenues and help balance the grid – both during the day with direct solar generation and at night with energy stored in the 30MW battery. …
“Warrington expects the two projects to generate millions of pounds in profits every year and generate an operating surplus of over a hundred million pounds over 30 years to invest in essential services. Electricity from York hybrid solar farm will be sold on the open market while Hull will supply all the council’s energy needs. The deal will make it the first local authority to produce all its own electricity.”
5. Sicily to get 440 MW solar farm
STEAG Solar Energy Solutions (SENS) and KGAL Investment Management GmbH & Co. KG agreed to a collab to develop a 440 MW solar farm in Sicily, the Mediterranean’s largest island. When finished, the project (which is actually a group of 6 solar parks) should be able to produce enough electricity each year for 350,000 homes.
“The installations will be erected in the provinces of Palermo and Trapani within a radius of around 40 kilometres. Construction of the first section is scheduled to start at the end of 2020. … By the end of 2021 all the parks are to be directly connected to the network of the Italian grid operator Terna by means of a newly-built transformer station.”
6. Punch holes in opaque solar cells in order to make them transparent
This one may be as obviously simple as it seems at first glance: “Researchers in Korea have found an effective and inexpensive strategy to transform solar cells from opaque to transparent. Existing transparent solar cells tend to have a reddish hue and lower efficiency, but by punching tiny holes on crystalline silicon wafers, it allows light through without coloring. The holes are then strategically spaced, so the human eye is unable to ‘see’ the pattern.”
7. Korea’s gonna get 2.7 gigawatts(!) of floating solar power by Saemangeum dyke
South Korea will be the beneficiary of a record 2.7 GW floating solar plus 300 MW offshore wind power plant behind the Saemangeum dyke (of the the world’s largest seawalls). To put this into a bit of perspective, the whole world currently has approximately 1.3 GW of floating solar power installed. In other words, this project would be more than double the planet’s currently installed floating solar power capacity.
“Saemangeum is a 409 km2 area of reclaimed land with what is said to be the world’s longest sea wall. The Korean government wants to develop Saemangeum into a global business and free trade hub for Northeast Asia.”
8. Spanish–Japanese duo invades Poland to solarize some of it
A Spanish-Japanese renewable energy joint venture Univergy International has set up Polish subsidiary Univergy Polska to develop 220 MW of solar power across 5 projects.
“The five projects, which will be developed in the regions of Czarne, Leczyce, Wagrowiec, Kiszkowo and Kesow, will feature a combined generation capacity of 220MW once completed.
“Univergy currently boasts a pipeline of PV projects totaling over 1GW across Europe, with installations also developed in Spain, Portugal, France, Italy and the Netherlands. ”
9. Republicans & Democrats both want clean energy
A survey from Conservative Energy Network (CEN) shows us what we already know but is worth repeating — most people think that supporting clean, renewable energy is a good thing for the government to do. Unfortunately, the research findings don’t mean Republican political leaders will be any less active in protecting fossil fuels from the economic realities of today. Republican politicians are heavily under the influence of oil, gas, and coal lobbying efforts.
“Findings from the survey suggests that clean energy policy is an important issue to a strong majority of voters and will be crucial to the success of candidates in swing districts and states in the 2020 election. Commissioned by CEN and conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, the survey identified that there is strong support from both Republican and Democratic voters for accelerating the development and use of clean energy in the United States.”
10. “How the White House Killed Clean Energy Tax Credits“
This great dive into what happened at the end of the year with US tax incentives explains that, sadly, Congress was on the verge of passing legislation to keep providing clean energy tax credits for solar, certain EV automakers, and wind, but Trump’s inner circles decided they wouldn’t sign such a bill and blocked these logical extensions. Sad. Unfortunate. Lousy.
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