The Military Could Be About to Make Solar Power Way Better

The DOE’s recommendation that the military adopt solar backup generators means solar is about to get a military-style research boost.

Getty Randy Plett

Giant solar farms are springing up all over the country, and companies like Tesla are making it easier for the average consumer to buy rooftop solar panels to power their own homes. But solar is still only around 2 percent of the energy market, and the high tech involved means progress can sometimes be slow.

That’s why it’s great news that the military is looking to increase its use of solar panels. The Department of Energy recently released a comprehensive look at the U.S. energy grid and concluded that the military needs to rely more on solar power in order to eliminate weaknesses in the grid.

While this report is focused mainly on the ways the military can safeguard against electrical outages or attacks, it’s also a sign of how far solar power has come in recent years. For the government to be considering solar for backup electricity generation proves that the tech has reached a baseline of reliability and efficiency.

That by itself is great news for the solar industry, but if the military is adopting solar power generation then the industry may be about to kick into high gear. With military investment comes military funding, military R&D, and military standards.

If the military gets solar panels, they’re going to want really good solar panels. And they’re going to need better energy storage technology, for those moments when the sun goes down. They’re also going to need to figure out how to run efficient microgrids connected to larger utility-scale grids, which is something that homeowners associations have been struggling with for years now.

To put it simply, the problems the military needs to solve in order to make solar work for them are the same problems that are keeping solar from becoming a more significant part of the energy market. With enough military research funding, we might be able to see solar really start to take off, and hopefully see the developments trickle down to the civilian sector.


Solar to Account for 8% of UAE Power Capacity by 2026

Solar capacity to expand by annual average of 55 percent over decade, study claims

The UAE’s solar energy sector is witnessing steady growth and is expected to account for almost 8 percent of total power capacity by 2026, according to new research.

On September 16, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) announced it had awarded the development of 700MW (megawatt) of solar power capacity to a consortium comprising Shanghai Electric and Acwa Power.

The contract marked the start of the fourth phase of the Muhammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum solar farm, and was the latest in a series of positive developments in the UAE solar sector over the course of 2017, BMI Research said in its latest paper.

With the addition of this 700MW, BMI said it forecast solar capacity to expand by an annual average of 55 percent between 2017 and 2026, meaning the segment would account for 7.9 percent of total power generating capacity in the UAE by then.

This marks an improvement in BMI’s earlier forecast of the sector accounting for 5.9 percent of total capacity by that date.

BMI’s report urged the UAE to work on developing solar power storage capability in particular. It said: “The ability to store power will mean that Dubai can access a more reliable source of solar power – with the potential of sourcing power from the CSP [concentrated solar power] facility both at night and during days of little or no sun.

“As such, we stress that the primary advantage of developing CSP technology is the technology’s ability to mitigate solar intermittence by storing power generation excesses and plug power generation deficits.”

The report said this would play a key role in helping Dubai to meet its target to source 7 percent of its power supply from clean energy by 2020, and 75 percent by 2050.


Charging EVs with Solar and Wind Is Doable with the New Giraffe 2.0

Image: innoventum

Leading the world’s clean energy revolution are cheaper renewable sources— mostly solar and wind — and electric vehicles with their rechargeable batteries. Already, thanks to companies like Tesla, a certain kind of energy ecosystem can be created using these. The batteries of EVs can be used to supply power electric grids, for example.

But what if you can put solar and wind in a clean energy ecosystem that matches with your EV’s charging needs? That’s precisely what this giraffe-looking power station developed by Swedish company InnoVentum wants to achieve. Combining solar and wind helps stabilize energy production.

“The Giraffe 2.0 wind-solar power station is ready to charge anything from your e-vehicle to your home with wind and solar energy. It is comprised of a wooden structure supporting 24 solar modules as well as a wind turbine mounted at a 12 metre [sic] height,” the company says.

This stand-alone power station can produce about 38 kWh per day. Depending on annual wind speed and insolation levels, this translates to roughly 13.8 MWh (10,000 – 20,000 kWh). This can be used to charge EVs or to power a house, using 50-kW DC fast-chargers, or two level-2 connectors. It’s giraffe-like shape, which InnoVentum calls “smart angling” of solar panels, helps it get more hours of extra solar energy during the day.

As EV-charging infrastructure continues expansion, the Giraffe 2.0 introduces a solution that could make chargers more accessible, placing chargers where current networks can’t yet reach. Instead of paying for the cost of installing high-power charging stations, the Giraffe 2.0 presents a $66,000 (55,000-euro) alternative — a price that can be brought down by solar and wind incentives.


Tapping Renewable Energy In a Big Way

Hyderabad-based Firm Plans 600 MW of Wind and Solar Energy Projects Across Telangana

Wind energy plants are not just mechanical ones but involves lot of technology, artificial intelligence and sensors.

Mytrah Energy (India) Ltd., the Hyderabad-based renewal energy firm, is setting up 400 MW of decentralised solar energy across Telangana in 16 different places with the total investment of 3,000 crore. About 200 MW of solar power plants have already been set up and by January, the entire project is to be in place.

Another 100 MW solar power plant is to be set up elsewhere in India by the firm which has also successfully bagged a nationwide bid to set up 250 MW of wind energy plants in Tamil Nadu. “We are targeting to install 600 MW of renewable energy — both wind and solar by March-April next year taking our firm’s capacity to 2000 MW. We are also in the process of raising funds through investments, green bonds and may even go for a public issue,” says Mytrah Energy managing director Vikram Kailas.

Wind energy plants are not just mechanical ones but involves lot of technology, artificial intelligence and sensors because of which efficiencies have increased and the prices have come down enabling the “disruptive” tariff rate of ? 3.46 for 25 years tied up with the power distribution firms, he explains.

The MD avers that coal-based power plants are really under threat not only due to the attended social and environmental issues attached to them and also because of the increased technology leverage and reduced costs which the renewable energy brings. This was only bound to increase once the battery capacities and costs are reduced in solar cells.

Incidentally, Mytrah has been running the sole wind energy plant in Telangana at Nazeerabad in Parigi mandal with 48 turbine units spread over 25 km radius and spread over 13 villages generating 108 MW power successfully for last 18 months.

With a high wind capacity of 25.2 metres per second during monsoon (June to August) and 7-12 metres per second otherwise, it has been running round the clock throughout the year with 90 % efficiency, according to D. Jubaraj, plant in-charge. “Despite low wind speeds in Telangana we have been able to set it up because of new generation turbines,” adds Mr. Kailas.

Mytrah which has about 645 turbines across 18 locations all over the country has also built an in-house General Management Centre (GMC) through which it monitors real time the functioning of all its wind energy units thereby helping in optimum utilisation of maintenance and outputs for an increased plant load factor. “We are not ready to offer the software to other firms,” says Somasundram R, Head, Strategic Initiatives.


Castleton Home Part of Green Energy Doors Open

By: Valerie MacDonald

Rammed earth home co-owner, Stephen Cavalier, surveys the forest view from the front deck of the unique, environmentally-green Castleton house. VALERIE MACDONALD/Northumberland Today

CASTLETON – A unique Castleton home built in the ancient “rammed earth” style of the Great Wall of China is part of the Green Energy Doors Open event taking place in September across Canada.

Retired teachers Ruth Cook and Stephen Cavalier wanted to build a home that was good for the environment on an ongoing basis and with the aid of a designer and engineer built one into a hill in a wooden area of Castleton in 2010/11.

With that experience, Cook has gone on to establish a company ( and has started her second career, she explained during a recent telephone interview from the Bruce Peninsula where her latest client’s home is under construction.

The first home in Canada where she ever saw such rammed earth construction was musician Randy Bachman’s Salt Spring Island home in B.C., she said.

“It absolutely captured me,” Cook recalls, spurring her forward to creating a truly sustainable house for she and her husband.

Forms are put up to form the walls and then a mixture of earth and some steel reinforcing rods are put between them with special pneumatic tampers “ramming” down the earth – hence the name of the construction type.

There is six inches of insulation in the middle of these walls too.

Not only will this type of construction last hundreds of years, or longer, it provides the structure for minimal heating requirements due, in part, to the passive solar heat sink wall of rammed earth construction which is warmed via strategically-place windows that shine the sun onto it, and which provides a coolness so there is no need for air conditioning during the hot weather, Cavalier explained during an interview at his home.

When you walk into the house, it is strangely silent as the walls seem to absorb sound. And indeed, it is this feature that has made for soundproofing a wonderful music studio that the family built in the lower level.

The second floor exterior is natural cedar and the huge deck on the front overlooking more of their forest is supported by huge white pine beams harvested from their very property.

The windows are triple panes.

To date, Cook’s company has built about “half a dozen” such homes, including another in the Castleton area, but it is not on this year’s Green Energy Doors Open Tour.

“The thermal mass of rammed earth is higher than concrete,” Cook explained.

It uses 90 per cent local earth from closed gravel pits. The actual carbon footprint is therefor reduced from both a construction perspective and its on-going impact on the environment and energy draws because it needs minimal heating and no cooling, she said.

“I could heat it with a hair dryer.”

Then there are the intangible benefits of the sound, feel and natural smell of rammed earth construction…no plastic off-gassing, for example.

The rammed earth walls absorb humidity, sound and toxins. They are sustainable during flooding and fire proof as well, Cook added.

They have an attractive natural look that blends into the environment in a very pleasing way.

If you want to see this type of construction up close and personal, the Green Energy Doors Open (GEDO) Tour takes place Sept. 24 and 25 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A release states that this annual showcase weekend “celebrates sustainable energy projects and success stories in provinces across Canada.

“Every year in early autumn, businesses, organizations, community cooperatives, indigenous communities, municipalities and homeowners open their doors and host events to promote the sustainable energy initiatives and technologies in their communities. GEDO is free to participate in as a host and to attend, and aims to raise awareness, support, education and enthusiasm around sustainable energy in Canada.”

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