Terra Sola Plans $3.5 Billion Solar Power Investment In Egypt

By: Mridul Chadha 

Leading solar power project developers are flocking to Egypt’s solar power market, which is set for a massive expansion.

Terra Sola has approached the Egyptian government with an intention to invest $3.5 billion to develop solar power projects. Terra Sola CEO David Heimhofer met with the Egyptian Prime Minister and shared his company’s plans.

The meeting took place only days after officials from SkyPower met the electricity minister and proposed to set up 3 GW of solar capacity in the country. With a proposed investment of $3.5 billion Terra Sola will, too, be able to install about 3 to 3.5 GW of solar photovoltaic capacity. According to reports, the company is planning to build an 800 MW solar PV park.

Terra Sola’s capacity addition plan is expected to generate an annual revenue of $760 million and provide employment to 20,000 people.

Project developers from around the world are interested in expanding in Egypt as it recently announced an ambitious renewable energy target to generate 20% of the electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020, and issued attractive feed-in tariff regulations. A recent auction of solar and wind energy projects organised by the Egyptian government received overwhelming response with prospective project developers willing to set up twice as much capacity offered by the government.

Fairly attractive feed-in tariffs have been offered by the government to solar power project developers. Solar PV projects between 500 kW and 20 MW in size will get 13.6¢/kWh, and projects between 20 MW and 50 MW will get 14.34¢/kW, with contracts for a 25-year term.

Terra Sola has concentrated its solar power investment in the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) region, and currently has over 1.7 GW of capacity in pipeline representing a value of $2.76 billion.

Courtesy: http://cleantechnica.com/

Renewable Energy skyrocketing, From Solar Mosques to Wave-Powered Naval Bases

By Juan Cole

Here are some of the green energy good news stories of the past few weeks:

1. China put in a massive 21 gigawatts of new wind power in 2014, half of all the wind power installed in the entire world that year and four times as much as the US. China’s wind installations increased 40% over 2013. Lower oil prices are not expected to affect the continued rapid growth of renewables, since petroleum is mainly used in transport, not electricity production.

2. Turkey has announced that it will try to add 20 gigawatts of wind energy to its electricity production capacity in only 8 years. Turkey is taking this step in part because it has few hydrocarbons of its own, such that free fuel like wind is very attractive to investors there. In part, it is attempting to remain in line with European targets for green energy, since it is in the queue for European Union membership. (Although it is unlikely that Turkey will be admitted to the EU, it is good for Turkey to keep aiming at European standards.)

3. Australia has just opened the world’s first large-scale wave power facility. It will power a naval base.

4. The Jordanian government has announced its determination to install solar panels on the roofs of all 6,000 of the country’s mosques.

5. Germany cut its carbon dioxide emissions by 5 percent in 2014. The country increased energy efficiency, grew its economy, and increased the percentage of electricity generated by renewables from 25% to 28% year over year. One German state, Schleswig-Holstein,now gets 50% of its electricity from wind power. Germany also lucked out with the weather– 2014 was unusually mild. Still, the CO2 output would have declined even without this latter factor. In contrast, in 2014 the US increased its CO2 output over the previous year.

6. In the UK in January, wind turbines generated an impressive 14% of all the electricity used in the isles. Wind powered the equivalent of 8.7 million UK homes. On January 2, for a single day, wind provided almost one third of all the electricity generated in Britain. The UK has 12 gigawatts of installed wind capacity.

7. Denmark produced almost 40% of its electricity from wind in 2014, having doubled that figure in a decade.

Courtesy: http://www.juancole.com/

Solar Power, and Somewhere to Store It

An innovative startup that blends solar energy and battery storage reflects broader interest combining the technologies.
By Peter Fairley

A SunEdison solar installation in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Photo courtesy of SunEdison

A growing number of companies are now selling large-scale battery storage together with solar installations to lower costs and to address challenges introduced by the intermittent nature of solar power, which is produced only when the sun is shining.

Last week the U.S. solar giant SunEdison announced that it had acquired Solar Grid Storage, a startup that integrates solar installations with battery storage. And SolarCity, the largest solar power installer in the U.S., is almost done installing 430 combined solar and storage systems in a pilot program in the San Francisco Bay area; the company plans to roll out the technology more widely this summer.

The U.S. Department of Energy, meanwhile, is gathering proposals for $15 million worth of research projects aimed at finding more effective ways to combine photovoltaic and storage technology. One goal is to lower the cost of storing solar power to no more than the projected average U.S. grid price for residential power in 2020: 14 cents per kilowatt-hour. Solar storage currently costs about 20 cents to $1 per kilowatt-hour.

As more solar power is installed, intermittency will become more of a problem. At the same time, though, the grid storage that could help compensate for this problem is becoming cheaper, and new converter technology can be used for both.

Tom Leyden, formerly CEO of Solar Grid Storageand now SunEdison’s vice president for energy storage deployment, says his company is using a power converter that links both a photovoltaic array and a battery to the grid. Solar panels and batteries both need converters because they produce direct current (DC) power, whereas power grids carry alternating current (AC).

The company’s four operating projects in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey are partnerships. The customer buys solar panels for its site, and Leyden’s operation provides a 10-by-20-foot shipping container holding the dual-use power converter and lithium-ion batteries.

At the height of a sunny day, for example, the converter is primarily producing AC power from the host’s solar panels. At all other times, however, it feeds spare capacity to the battery to serve the regional utility.

The solar tax break for the combined system is slated to drop from 30 percent of the equipment cost to 10 percent in 2017, but Leyden says the dual-use converters should also come down in price as more are produced.

Courtesy: http://www.technologyreview.com/

Solar Impulse Just Broke A World Record For Solar-Powered Flight

By: Chris Mills

Image credit: AP Images/Solar Impulse

The Solar Impulse plane took off on its mission to fly around the world without using any fuel on Monday morning, and it’s already breaking records. As part of the journey from Oman to India, it flew the longest ever distance for a solar powered plane going point-to-point.

The Solar Impulse 2 isn’t your average aircraft: it’s been designed from the ground up with this mission in mind. Over 17,000 solar cells line its wings, supplying a series of electric motors and charging four on-board lithium batteries. It’s designed to be entirely solar-powered, and, thanks to those batteries, able to fly through day and night. While we’ve certainly seen solar planes before, it’s the first that can actually fly between continents — and, if all goes well, it’ll soon be the first to fly around the world.

The trip is due to take place over five months. It’s starting and finishing in Abu Dhabi, with around 25 full flight days split into twelve legs. As such, the craft is unlikely to be breaking speed records any time soon, but to the minds behind the project, Swiss aviators Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, that’s not the point. For them it’s the energy efficiency of the project that makes it exciting. They’re not so concerned with changing the aviation industry just yet, so much as changing the public perception about how exciting renewable energy can be. In other words, this is as much publicity stunt as technological milestone.

Boasting just one seat (with a built-in toilet) and a cabin that has neither heating nor oxygen, it’s likely to be a rough ride, so it’s no wonder the pilots have chosen to break the flight down into such small chunks. What’s more, with in-flight food tastily described as “dehydrated and vacuum-packaged” the pilots may well find themselves desperately longing for the dubious sludge that so infamously makes up economy meals.

In short, this plane is still a huge stretch away from the cushy fuel-hungry Boeings and Airbuses we know and love, but its clear message on the potential of renewable energies could have a serious impact on the future. Despite industry scepticism about the future of solar panels on aircrafts, if the round-the-world flight is a success it may well be enough to reopen the debate about the future of fuelling our aircrafts. Regardless, we just hope that while solar panels may one day line the wings of our aircrafts, the toilets stay out of the passenger seats and remain in their designated cubicles.

Courtesy: http://gizmodo.com/

GM Adds Wind Energy to Power Factories in Mexico

By: Leon Kaye

Yesterday General Motors (GM) announced it will add wind power to its energy portfolio for the first time in the history of the company. The construction of the 34 megawatt wind farm in Palo Alto, 325 miles (526 km) from Mexico City, will begin during the second quarter of this year.

When complete, 75 percent of the wind farm’s energy will power GM’s 104 acre factory and plant facilities in Toluca, an hour’s drive west of Mexico City. The wind energy will also provide some electricity for other GM plants in Silao, San Luis Petosi and Ramos Arizpe. Enel Green Power, the US$2.3 billion dollar renewable energy company based in Italy, has designed and will build the plant as directed in a purchase power agreement signed with GM.

GM is partnering with Enel to use wind power to power its factoris in Mexico Image credits: GM

According to GM, the Palo Alto wind farm will increase the amount of its energy derived from renewables to 12 percent from its current nine percent. GM claims that its facilities in Mexico benefiting from the new source of wind power will avoid the emissions of 40,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually. The project will also help GM meet its 2020 renewable energy goals four years early: the company set a target for 125 MW of clean energy by 2020—before the Palo Alto plant is switched on, GM’s total renewables portfolio currently stands at about 104 MW.

But in addition to its improved environmental credentials, GM will score a long term financial benefit. In an email to Triple Pundit, a GM communications representative explained that the company expects to save about US$2 million annually once the Palo Alto wind farm operates at full capacity. Electricity costs are often a thorn in the side of manufacturers conducting business in Mexico. Despite its substantial oil reserves, Reuters has estimated that Mexico has the eighth-most expensive electricity prices within the 34-nation Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The nation’s federal government has grappled with a controversial energy reform program, and while some changes have been made, they have not helped with energy costs. GM says conventional power prices in Mexico are one-third higher than they are north of the border in the U.S. So even with the current low prices of oil, GM’s investment in this wind farm makes financial sense.

GM has been working on the Palo Alto wind farm plant since April 2014. When asked if this was a sign whether the company will green-light more renewable energy projects in the near future, GM representatives were noncommittal, but said it is always on the lookout for ways to diversify its energy portfolio. Meanwhile, the company has slowly made progress: organizations including CDP have given the automaker high scores for its climate change data disclosures.

Courtesy: http://www.triplepundit.com/