US Number One for Solar

We’ve been discussing the US solar industry in the last few weeks here on the Greenstream blog, wondering about the impact of climate change denier Trump’s election. Recent statistics, due to be published 9th March by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries’ Association indicate that the current solar industry in the US is at an all time high and only set to increase, Presidential denial notwithstanding.

The US solar market had its biggest year to date in 2016, doubling its annual record at total installations of 14,626 megawatts. 22 states each added more than 100 megawatts. Minnesota and Massachusetts led the community solar record, while most of the growth was due to an increase in utility-scale solar as it becomes ever more cost competitive with fossil fuels. Solar accounted for 39% of all new additions across all fuel types.

This makes the US, for the first time ever, the number one source of solar generation. Small surprise then that our bestselling Solar Electricity Handbook consistently tops the US solar chart!

 

 

 

 

Renewables are Radical Again

Renewable energy has been the sensible and increasingly cost-effective choice for homeowners and corporations for quite some time, a far cry from the days of renewable energy projects in the developed world being the preserve of end-of-world conspiracy theorists and hippies. Yet since the inauguration of President Trump – who stated in 2015 that renewable energy was ‘just an expensive way of making the tree-huggers feel good about themselves’ – renewables may become a counter-culture choice once again, as Trump makes climate change denial the official stance and attempts to suppress the voices of those who claim otherwise. Renewables are radical once more.

Except, the voices that cry for energy revolution are no longer voices in the wilderness. Solar and wind have become mainstream, and clean energy is no longer a niche project. Most industry insiders have expressed a belief that it is too late for Trump to stem the tide of energy reform, no matter how vehement his denial or how fossil-fuel friendly his policies

Let’s hope they’re right. Meanwhile, Trump moves forward on tossing out Obama’s Clean Power Plan and cutting longstanding tax subsidies….

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Solar Power from Chernobyl

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The word ‘Chernobyl’ is hardly synonymous with safe and sustainable renewable energy. After the 1986 disaster that resulted in 50 direct deaths and up to 4,000 fatalities from the nuclear fallout, the site of the world’s largest nuclear disaster has been a no-go zone for years, emitting radiation that travelled as far as Wales.

Yet times have changed, and two companies from China are aiming to make this part of the Ukraine home to a one-gigawatt solar power plant covering 2,500 hectacres just south of the Chernobyl plant. Ukrainian officials have stated that $1 billion is expected to be spent on the project over the next two years by the Chinese subsidiaries of Golden Concord Holdings (one of Chinas biggest renewables concerns) and Sinomach. GLC statework on the plant will start sometime this year.

Ukrainian minister of the environment Ostap Semerak, believes the site is more than suitable for the project, offering ‘cheap land’ and ‘abundant sunlight’.

It could be a new, bright future for Chernobyl, rebuilding the local community and perhaps is a fitting tribute to those who suffered as a result of the disaster.

 

 

 

Are We On the Brink of a Solar Revolution?

Are we on the brink of a solar revolution? Over the past couple of years, there have been some significant breakthroughs in solar energy, specifically in reducing production costs of solar. During this time, the cost of photovoltaic panels has dropped by around 25-30% each year and this price drop shows no sign of slowing down.

In fact, if anything it is speeding up. A few companies have been working on more advanced amorphous panels that have much lower production costs. These have been in production for the past few months, with a cost point of around $0.60 per watt (about 40% cheaper than what we see today). Once production has ramped up, these manufacturers are saying they will be able to sell these panels for around one sixth of that cost.

 

So what does this mean for solar power? Quite simply, it will become the cheapest means of generating electricity available. At a wholesale cost of $100 per kilowatt (as opposed to around $1,000 today) we could see solar being incorporated into almost anything. Self-charging mobile phones, MP3 players, netbooks and laptops would be standard and the cost of fitting solar power to homes would be so cheap it would offer a payback in only a few months, no matter where in the world you lived. Warehouses and factories would all have photovoltaic roof panels, generating most – if not all – the power they need to operate by themselves. Electric cars would all have photovoltaic roof panels, providing up to 3,000km (1,800 miles) of self-generating power every year. Power companies could set up new regional power stations in just a few weeks instead of the several years it takes now.

The ability to generate electricity at an affordable price would be limited only by the amount of space you have. Got a big enough roof? You need never want for electricity again.

Solar

Have you read the book?

The Solar Electricity Handbook is the world’s best selling book on solar electricity. If you are serious about solar power, you need this book.Assuming no previous experience with solar power, the Solar Electricity Handbook tells you what you need to know about installing solar energy.

Available from all good booksellers around the world, The 2017 edition has even more information, bigger diagrams and the latest details about this exciting technology.

Click here to read a preview and to buy the Solar Electricity Handbook today.

 

Of course we still need some way of storing the energy produced so we can release it when we need it rather than just when the sun is shining, but nevertheless, this is an exciting opportunity. Incidentally, in terms of energy storage, I still have high hopes for ultra-capacitors, but as yet we have seen a lot of speculation and hype and very little in the way of practical usable products. Let’s just wait and see.

In effect, solar has the potential to do two things in the next decade: decarbonise much of our electricity generation and make electricity so cheap that it is effectively free to use.

This changes the whole dynamics of how we view and use power. If electricity is so cheap that it is effectively free, everything starts to change. How are you going to heat your home? Expensive gas or free electricity? Are you going to have a car with an internal combustion engine using expensive fuel, or an electric car with free fuel? If solar power becomes the cheapest way of generating electricity, businesses and individuals won’t choose solar “because it’s green” but “because it is so cheap, you’d be daft not to”.

New Year, New Edition for Bestseller

29th December 2016 – Greenstream Publishing will publish its eleventh edition of the internationally bestselling guide to solar electricity and installing photovoltaic systems, the Solar Electricity Handbook. The title is written by Michael Boxwell, a leading environmental speaker who is the inventor of the leading Battery LITE, an innovative solar battery storage system. The paperback is priced at £19.99/$19.99 and available from all major retailers. Full color hardback and ebook editions will also be available.

The Solar Electricity Handbook has consistently been the leading title in its subject since its first edition in 2009, outselling competitors all over the world and proving indispensable to solar installers, researchers, students and homeowners, providing an informative and practical guide to installing these energy saving and cost effective systems. The title is used worldwide as a university core reader and has been referenced in a recent White House paper on renewable energy.

Readers say:

A great guide to understanding solar and getting hands on.”

The greatest solar reference guide ever published!”

The web site that accompanies the book, found at http://www.SolarElectricityHandbook.com, is one of the most comprehensive free online resources for solar energy on the internet, featuring solar calculators and project tools to make solar energy projects as straightforward as possible.

The solar industry continues to evolve with new and improved technologies, particularly in the area of battery storage, and the 2017 edition reflects this. The solar industry remains a hugely exciting arena to work in.” Michael adds.

Author Michael Boxwell is the inventor of the new Battery LITE battery storage system, a bestselling environmental technology author and an expert in the industry for fifteen years.

How Trumps Election Could Affect Renewables

Well, for a start, Trump has dismissed climate change in the past. He seems to believe it doesn’t exist, and in fact is a myth created by the Chinese.

He also pledged to ‘stop the war’ on the coal and mining industry and stated that shale energy was the way forward and would ‘unleash massive wealth’ for America, ignoring the fact that both industries are in competition with each other, making it rather difficult to support them both. Solar and wind, the renewable energy sources we strongly advocate here at Greenstream, were dismissed as too expensive in spite of the fact that in recent years with lowered costs and innovations in technology, that argument is no longer as viable.

My guess is that most renewable energy enthusiasts, if voting purely on the issues of energy and climate change, would have gone for Clinton, whop promised to continue the strides forward taken during Obama’s residency. Trumps election then has surely come as a blow.

So in real terms, what could this mean? Back in 2009, Trump seemed to be a supporter of renewables; he gave his signature along with others to a letter to Obama before the Copenhagan Climate Summit, calling for an increase in clean energy technologies. But in his recent campaign pledges he has gone against that in dramatic fashion, promising to rescind Obamas Clean Energy Plan, back out of the Paris climate agreement and has been vocal about his dislike of the wind farms in view of his golf course.

It’s not looking good.

But I think it’s important not to catastrophise. Donald Trump  cannot, in four years, President or not, single-handedly dismantle the renewable energy revolution. He cannot stop individual states from pursuing reduced emissions. He cannot prevent the slide of the coal industry, for all his ‘war’ rhetoric. He can’t abolish the EPA without the support of Congress. His plans to spend a trillion dollars building new roads isn’t likely to be supported by conservative Republicans. He cannot change the fact that clean energy technology continues to get better and better and cheaper and cheaper.

Four years.

We can wait, Mr Trump.

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