The Los Angeles Lakers Just Partnered with LG to Bring Solar Power to Training Center


  • The Lakers’ UCLA Health Training Center is now home to 456 solar panels that are set to produce an estimated 245,000 kilowatt hours per year.
  • The basketball team could save around $38,000 annually by turning to solar power.

    By: Anmar Frangoul

    Arland Communications The Lakers’ UCLA Health Training Center is now home to 456 solar panels.

    After signing LeBron James earlier this summer, the Los Angeles Lakers are also looking to steal a march on rivals when it comes to sustainability.

    The Lakers’ UCLA Health Training Center is now home to 456 solar panels that are set to produce an estimated 245,000 kilowatt hours per year, enough to power 35 homes.

    The 375-watt solar panels were provided by LG Solar and were installed by Vaha Energy, LG Electronics USA said in a statement Monday. The move is expected to save the Lakers around $38,000 each year.

    “We are thrilled with the addition of our new LG Solar panels,” Joseph McCormack, chief financial officer and senior vice president of finance at the Lakers, said in a statement. “One of our goals as an organization is to be at the forefront of energy efficiency, and these panels further our commitment to sustainability.”

    The Lakers are the latest major U.S. sports team to embrace renewable energy. In January, for example, Major League Baseball’s San Diego Padres announced that their ground, Petco Park, would be home to a 336,520-watt solar power system.


California is Generating So Much Renewable Energy, It’s About to Take a Break


With this year’s blistering summer, California’s solar energy production has surged so much that the state might be taking a break from new renewable projects beginning next month. Currently, California is regularly shunting electricity to Arizona and other states (sometimes paying them to do so) just to avoid overloading its own current lines.


A solar panel gathers light from the sun to provide energy at a California Marine Corps Air Station. Credits: DoD.

In 2010, California was generating some 0.5% of its electricity through solar technology, but last year, the figure reached 10% — marking a 2000% growth in less than a decade. The growth isn’t all that surprising. For starters, California’s geographical situation makes it ideal for renewable energy generation (particularly solar), but that isn’t even half the story. California is the world’s sixth-largest economy, with a GDP larger than that of countries like France or India, so they have the money required for investments; and with the price of renewables constantly decreasing, California can afford to lead the world with a shift towards renewables. The state’s policy has also favored this transition, so all the conditions were met for a green energy revolution.

Over the past two decades, California has been home to a number of “world’s largest” solar facilities, many of which are located in the Mojave Desert. Furthermore, in May 2018, the commissioners of the California Energy Commission voted unanimously to require that nearly all new homes in the state be built with solar panels. Starting in January 2020, all new homes under 4 stories will have photovoltaic solar panels installed.

But the revolution was so swift and so successful that California started producing too much energy for its needs — at least on some days. California still imports almost 30% of its electricity, but on very sunny days, its production surpasses the needed levels.

So starting next month, the state may be taking a break from building new renewable energy plants.

“They’re basically saying, ‘There’s too much going on; we don’t know what to do, so we’re not going to do anything for a while,’” Jan Smutny-Jones of the Independent Energy Producers Association told Greentech.

California is also quite likely to achieve its mandated goal, which is reaching 50% of energy production via renewables by 2030. Renewables accounted for 27% last year, but if the growth rate carries on or even slows down slightly, the target will likely be achieved.

But California’s renewable market could be reinvigorated by another goal: the California state Senate has proposed legislation to require 100% renewable energy by 2045, which would make California the first US state to go fully renewable.

While that’s still a while away, California’s transition has been nothing short of impressive. California has set aggressive goals for itself, and it seems to be working out for the most part, though California’s electricity rates are among the highest in the United States as a result.


Why Supersized Solar Farms Are Sprouting Around The World

@ Copyright : Alfredo Estrella AFP – Getty Images file

In a quest to cut the cost of clean electricity, power utilities around the world are supersizing their solar farms.

Nowhere is that more apparent than in southern Egypt, where what will be the world’s largest solar farm — a vast collection of more than 5 million photovoltaic panels — is now taking shape. When it’s completed next year, the $4 billion Benban solar park near Aswan will cover an area 10 times bigger than New York’s Central Park and generate up to 1.8 gigawatts of electricity.

That’s roughly the output of two nuclear power plants combined and almost double the planned capacity of the vast Villanueva facility now growing in the Mexican state of Coahuila — currently the largest facility in the Americas. (The largest solar farm in the U.S. is the 580-megawatt Solar Star facility near Los Angeles.)

The 579-megawatt Solar Star projects are two solar installations in Kern and Los Angeles counties in California.Woody Welch

But Benban probably won’t hold on to its title for long.

China is planning to build a two-gigawatt solar farm in the northwestern province of Ningxia, and the state of Gujarat in western India recently gave the go-ahead for a five-gigawatt facility. Japan is even talking about putting a large-scale solar farm in space.

The Bigger, The Cheaper

“There are huge savings for larger projects,” says Benjamin Attia, a solar analyst with Wood Mackenzie, an energy consulting firm based in Edinburgh, Scotland. “Logistics, transport, construction and installation all benefit from scale economies. We’ll start to see more solar parks of one and two gigawatts, and potentially even 10 gigawatts in the future.”

The plunging cost of solar panels is part of the cost-savings equation. A 2017 report from the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory found that the cost of photovoltaic systems shrank by a factor of five from 2010 to 2017. Even the punitive tariffs on Chinese solar panels enacted earlier this year by the Trump administration are unlikely to slow the spread of large-scale solar, which in the U.S. is already cheaper and much cleaner than coal.

“Governments have wised up,” says Attia. “They just want the cheapest, fastest way to add new electricity supplies. For nuclear, procurement can take a decade. For gas, it’s up to four years. If you’re talking solar and things go smoothly, you can build a reasonably large project in 18 months.”

Solar power is now a particularly attractive option for developing countries. When solar panels were more expensive, only rich nations could afford the subsidies and tax breaks that allowed solar farms to make financial sense. In many sunny parts of the world, solar power is now competitive with other power sources without financial assistance (and that’s also true for parts of the U.S. and other developed nations).

Some of the biggest new farms, including Benban, are set up so that the panels are owned and operated not by a single utility but instead shared by dozens of firms. This arrangement helps reduce the red tape associated with permits and regulations, says Attia, and allows even small solar start-ups to benefit from economies of scale.

The Key Role of Infrastructure

But even if the cost of solar panels continues to fall, there are upper limits to the size of future solar parks. A solar farm is only useful if the electricity it generates can reach the homes and factories that need it, often hundreds of miles away. Electricity transmission grids can struggle to cope with the intermittent power that massive new wind and solar farms generate.

“Typically, those locations are going to be pretty remote,” says Daniel Kirschen, professor of electrical engineering at the University of Washington in Seattle. “The grid around new solar or wind farms will not be very strong. So you’re going to need to reinforce the grid, and that can get quite expensive.”

China, in particular, has grappled with the infrastructure problem, and in the past has been unable to use up to 30 percent of the electricity generated by newly built solar farms. One possible solution is to build so-called supergrids that move electricity over vast distances to ensure that it’s not wasted.

A grid to connect China, Korea, Russia and Japan is being proposed, and a planned European supergrid could span the continent by the late 2020s.

Where the Sun Never Sets

Not every nation is able to join the solar revolution, of course. Crowded, cloudy Japan, for example, has neither the open spaces nor the reliable months of sunshine needed for gargantuan solar parks. So it’s looking to build a solar power station where the sun always shines and space is not an issue: outer space.

Japan’s space agency, JAXA, is working to put into orbit a one-gigawatt orbital solar farm that can generate power 24 hours a day. Starting in the 2030s, the solar space station would beam down energy as microwaves to a human-made island covered with billions of antennas. The agency has already demonstrated a system that can beam energy a few hundred yards, though questions remain about the practicality and safety of space-based power stations.


Space-based solar power aside, the biggest rivals to massive solar parks on Earth are likely to be the small solar panels installed atop houses and in backyards.

Large solar farms account for the vast majority of panels installed around the world, but in developed countries like the U.S. and Germany, household solar power has about an equal share. Homeowners can sell power back to the grid, or even store it locally using batteries originally developed for electric cars. Solar micro-grids are also becoming popular in developing nations that lack good rural power connections or are prone to extreme weather events.

However humans tap into solar energy, the good news is that there is plenty of it. More of the sun’s energy strikes the Earth’s surface in two hours than we consume in all forms every year. A solar park covering just 2 percent of the Sahara could provide the globe’s entire energy needs — assuming we could build a planetary super grid to access it.


Qualicum Beach Home Gets First Install Of UK-Invented Solar Panel Tiles On Vancouver Island

Solar panels connect to concrete tiles for easy installation

Design engineer and co-founder of the British firm Solarmass Energy Paul Cropper, left, and Craig Gooding, owner of VIP Homes, hold a solar panel tile that are being installed on Gooding’s home in Qualicum Beach. Karly Blats photo

By: Karly Blats

A design engineer from the United Kingdom is installing his solar energy tiles for the first time on Vancouver Island on a residential roof in Qualicum Beach.

Paul Cropper, co-founder of the British firm Solarmass Energy, said the solar panel tiles offer an alternative to the large glass and metal solar panels that connect to roofs of houses and buildings. He said the design is brand new to Vancouver Island.

“This system is designed to go with the concrete interlocking tiles, so you use as many of the solar (panels) as you want and finish it off with a normal roof tile. The installation of this is actually designed to be done by a roofer,” Cropper said.

“We can optimize any shape of roof, it doesn’t have to be a big rectangle. This system works really, really good in low light, and on dark days you get more power out of our system.”

Each solar panel is attached to a concrete tile that is installed on a roof.

Craig Gooding, whose Qualicum Beach home is being installed with the solar tiles, was introduced to Solarmass Energy through his brother-in-law who is among a group of Canadian investors who have bought parts of Solarmass Energy.

Gooding, owner of the construction company VIP Homes, said he wanted to use solar energy to power his home because of the rising BC Hydro costs.

“BC Hydro is just killing us, (prices) have gone up and up and up. It’s gone up 10 times since I moved to Qualicum,” Gooding said.

He said BC Hydro lets people using solar energy use net metering.

Net metering is a system where solar panels, or other renewable energy generators, are connected to a public-utility power grid and surplus power is transferred onto the grid, allowing customers to offset the cost of power drawn from the utility.

“I’ll feed back (to the grid) during the day, and at night I’ll draw from that system so it should even itself out,” Gooding said. “(BC Hydro) will let you do net metering as long as you don’t oversize your system.”

All in, Gooding said the solar panel tiles for his roof cost $40,000 to install.

“I’ll probably pull about $6,000 a year from hydro, that’s what I’ll save,” Gooding said.

“(The installation) will take about seven years to pay off. Then (the panels) have got a 36-year-warranty, so then I’ve got another 29 years of solar power for free. It’s a great thing.”

Gooding said the tiles are quite quick and easy to install.

“We did this (26 solar panels) with four of us in a day, where as it would have taken three or four days to mount 26 (large glass) solar panels,” he said.

Cropper said the design is becoming more popular worldwide.

“It’s totally green energy, there’s no emissions,” Cropper said.

“Whatever you supply into the grid during the day, you’re meter is going backwards at night and you’re reversing it. Depending on the size of the system, you can get to the end of the year and you’re hydro bill can be zero, I mean who wouldn’t want that.”


Renewable Resort: Greek Island To Run On Wind, Solar Power

Tilos will be a blueprint for other small islands in EU with limited grid connections to mainland

Solar panels were installed on the roof of an information kiosk in Tilos in July. They’ll power the kiosk and a charging station for electric vehicles. (TILOS Project)

When the blades of its 800-kilowatt wind turbine start turning, the small Greek island of Tilos will become the first in the Mediterranean to run exclusively on wind and solar power.

The sea horse-shaped Greek island between Rhodes and Kos has a winter population of 400. But that swells to as many as 3,000 people in the summer, putting an impossible strain on its dilapidated power supply.

This summer, technicians are conducting the final tests on a renewable replacement system that will be fully rolled out later this year. It will allow Tilos to run exclusively on high-tech batteries recharged by a wind turbine and a solar park.

Tilos is a sea horse-shaped Greek island between Rhodes and Kos popular with hikers and bird watchers, and most of it is now a protected nature reserve. This summer, technicians are conducting the final tests on a system that will allow Tilos to run exclusively on high-tech batteries recharged by a wind turbine and a solar park. (Kostas Limitsios/Flickr, licensed under CC BY 2.0)

The European Commission says Tilos will be the first autonomous renewable green island in the Mediterranean. It plans to use the project as a blueprint for other small islands across the European Union that have limited grid connection to the mainland. The EU has largely funded the project, providing 11 million euros ($16.5 million Cdn) of the total 13.7 million-euro ($20.5-million) cost.

“The innovation of this program and its funding lies in the batteries — the energy storage — that’s what’s innovative,” project manager Spyros Aliferis said. “The energy produced by the wind turbines and the photovoltaics will be stored in batteries, so that this energy can be used for the grid when there is demand.”

The batteries store power during sunny and windy conditions, releasing it during periods of heavy demand and lower production — such as at night time and the peak tourist season — to keep the grid powered up.

Named TILOS — Technology Innovation for the Local Scale Optimum Integration of Battery Energy Storage — the project uses a prototype battery system that improves storage of the excess energy generated until it’s needed.

To work, it required an overhauled grid with smart meters installed in homes and businesses to calculate times of peak demand.

Routine Blackouts

Currently, Tilos gets its energy from an underwater cable that runs from Kos to the island of Nisiros and on to Tilos. That creates an erratic, outage-prone service that routinely breaks appliances and has forced many businesses to rely on diesel generators.

While lacking the dazzle of other Greek islands like Mykonos and Santorini, Tilos — a 14-hour ferry ride from the mainland — is a quiet vacation spot that sees an average of 13,000 visitors a year. It’s known as a green island, popular with hikers and bird watchers, and most of it is now a protected nature reserve.

Mayor Maria Kammas saw a green energy system as the island’s natural next step.

“For many years now, Tilos has plotted a course that is dedicated to protecting the environment,” she said. “We are seeking visitors — tourists actually — people who will visit our island, who love the environment and want to protect it and nature as it was given to us.”

Tilos has a winter population of 400. But that swells to as many as 3,000 people in the summer, putting an impossible strain on its dilapidated power supply. (Tasos Aliferis)

Tourism is the main source of revenue for the island. But businesses have been plagued by lengthy blackouts, leaving hotels without air conditioning and restaurants without light or power, forcing them to discard food from warm refrigerators.

Hotel owner Sevasti Delaporta has closely followed the project since its inception over two years ago. There were initial doubts about the idea among Tilos residents, but tests have run smoothly, even during peak times this summer. The grid is expected to be fully operational in a few months.

“I’m very optimistic about this project because there are few negative consequences as a business, and for the guests of the hotel that I run,” says Delaporta. “People are pleased with the service because they have no problem with their fridges and they have no problem with their air conditioning. They are happy.”

With long sunny days and average temperatures of 33 C (91 F) during the summer, tourists spend their mornings at the beach and afternoons napping. The island comes alive in the evening, when businesses open and residents and tourists alike flock to bars and cafes.

Eva Lemaier has visited the island every year for more than two decades. Coming from the Netherlands, which has one of the world’s highest environmental standards, she says Tilos’s green policies stand out in Greece.

“I’m also a little bit proud of Tilos about what they are doing now, with the renewable energy,” she said. “I think it’s good for the island not to be dependent on other islands.”