DfT funding innovative solar rail, roads and footways trials

The Department for Transport (DfT) has awarded multi-million-pound funding to trials of solar used in conjunction with railways, roads and footways.

Last week the DfT announced a raft of new funding deals, the first of which is a project that has won a share of a £1.75 million pot allocated to carbon-cutting rail schemes.

That project will assess the viability of using solar to directly power trains and is one of five low carbon rail projects which will receive £350,000 each.

It comes just over a year after a study conducted by climate charity 10:10 and Imperial College London’s Energy Future Lab found that solar panels could provide up to 10% of the electricity needed to power electrified train routes in the UK, with significant opportunity to do so for the commuter rail network south of London.

Last week, the Sunday Telegraph also reported that plans were under consideration to build a fleet of solar and onshore wind farms alongside the route of the controversial HS2 line in a bid to supply it with renewable power.

Meanwhile, two projects in Buckinghamshire and Central Bedfordshire have received £4.49 million and £1.05 million respectively to trial solar roads and footways. Precise details of these innovation projects are scant.

Surface-level solar installations in roads and footways have seldom been successful however. A trial of a path of solar-powered road, which saw PV panels built into a 1km stretch of road in Normandy in 2016, generated just half of the power it was expected to.

Nevertheless, the innovation funding has been well received by industry, and STA chief executive Chris Hewett said it was “fantastic” to see such projects “being championed in the UK”.

“This kind of leadership gives Britain the potential to be at the forefront of the clean, smart energy revolution. That said, it is imperative government backs tried and tested renewable energy technologies too, and we hope that this is a sign of greater things to come in terms of support for solar, given the challenges facing the industry at present,” he said.

Link: https://www.solarpowerportal.co.uk/news/dft_funding_innovative_solar_rail_roads_and_footways_trials

How Tesla is taking over neighborhoods with solar energy

Tesla has been betting on word of mouth to promote most of its products and solar has been no exception since it has acquired SolarCity

Here’s how Tesla has been taking over neighborhoods with solar energy thanks to the help satisfied customers.

SolarCity, like most other solar installers, were using many different sale channels ranging from retail partners to door-to-door to call centers.

When Tesla bought the company, they initiated a transition to using their own sales force in Tesla retail stores and their usual customer-driven marketing.

The main goal was to reduce costs, but Tesla’s legion of fans and owners is also proving to not just be good at selling cars.

When Tesla installs solar on a home, it’s not uncommon for neighbors to inquire about the process and the benefit of a solar installation.

If the customer in question is good at explaining the benefits, solar can spread in the neighborhood pretty quickly.

We are starting to see it happen more and more.

There’s a good example in Venice, Florida where Rich Blair had Tesla Energy install solar panels on its home and he has been telling his neighbors all about it.

It has quickly spread in the neighborhood where now 10% of the homes already have Tesla solar systems.

This is an exceptionally high penetration rate since less than 1% of US households have residential solar.

While many of them appreciate the environmental aspect of it, the financial aspect is what is driving the demand here.

Rich told Electrek what it did to his energy bill:

“My power company bill went from $400 per month to $8 per month (minimum charge to be connected to the grid).  My energy bill was reduced by 25% (compare electric bill to cost of solar system).  With zero down and the 30% ITC (federal solar incentive), it is a no brainer for those who don’t have the cost of replacing an old roof first in order to take advantage of the solar technology and federal incentive.”

Of course, Tesla also has a solution for those who would need to replace their roof, Tesla Solar Roof Tiles, but the ramp-up of the product has been quite slow.

For now, solar panels are probably the best options for most people looking to save money on the electric bill by going solar.

The customer-driven marketing is also creating a snowball effect and now even local media are reporting on it, which could push more locals to do the same.

Rich shared a fun drone video going around to all the houses in the neighborhood that got Tesla solar installations:

https://youtu.be/5XWzvmSqHkM

Electrek’s Take

This makes a lot of sense because the benefits of solar vary greatly per region based on sunlight, electricity rates, and local regulations, and also based on the electricity needs of a household.

If it makes a lot of sense financially for someone, like it was for Rich, then it’s likely that it also makes sense for many neighbors who also pay the same electricity rates and who are also likely to have similar energy needs.

Some of them, like Rich, also have Tesla vehicles – resulting in the complete loop of sustainable energy production and consumption.

After buying SolarCity, Tesla has been saying that it expects its existing customers to represent its biggest market for its energy business and vice-versa.

It looks like we are starting to see evidence of that happening.

 

 

Link: https://electrek.co/2019/01/19/tesla-taking-over-neighbourhoods-solar-power/

Bright future for floating solar panels in South-east Asia

A floating solar photovoltaic cell test-bed in Tengeh Reservoir in Tuas in 2016. While such panels cost more to install, they are up to 16 per cent more efficient because the water's cooling effect helps reduce thermal losses and extend their life, a
A floating solar photovoltaic cell test-bed in Tengeh Reservoir in Tuas in 2016. While such panels cost more to install, they are up to 16 per cent more efficient because the water’s cooling effect helps reduce thermal losses and extend their life, according to the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore.ST FILE PHOTO

Thailand and Singapore among nations keen on such projects in land-scarce region

BANGKOK • Solar power companies in South-east Asia that are competing for land with agriculture, industry and expanding populations have found an innovative alternative – to put floating panels in lakes, dams, reservoirs and the sea.

Earlier this week, state utility Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) said it would submit a proposal for a 45MW floating solar plant in the Sirindhorn dam in the country’s north-east.

Egat plans to invest in about 16 such projects across nine dams in the country, deputy governor Thepparat Theppitak told reporters.

“In land-scarce countries like Singapore, the widespread use of PV (photovoltaic) systems is hindered by space constraints and limited roof space,” said Mr Frank Phuan, chief executive of Sunseap Group, which is building the system.

The platform has to be “more robust” than systems in reservoirs or lakes to withstand tougher conditions on the open sea, and to overcome barnacles that may grow on it, he added.

It was also difficult to find a spot in the sea that was not frequented by shipping vessels, he said.

The project, which is supported by Singapore’s Economic Development Board, will be located north of the Woodlands Waterfront Park.

Despite the challenges, floating solar systems are growing quickly in Asia alongside those on the ground and on roofs, according to the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore (Seris).

While floating panels are more expensive to install, they are up to 16 per cent more efficient because the water’s cooling effect helps reduce thermal losses and extend their life, according to Seris.

The panels also reduce evaporation from water bodies when temperatures are warm, thus saving fresh water for drinking.

“The greater efficiency offsets the higher cost of installation,” said Seris senior financial analyst Celine Paton. “Technological advances should soon bring them on a par with ground systems” in terms of cost, she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

South-east Asia is particularly well suited for floating panels because of the scarcity of land and because they can be easily installed in the region’s many hydropower dams, where they can use existing transmission systems, she added.

On the whole, the growing clean energy sector, including solar generation, can be a boost for the economy. New investments in Singapore’s clean energy industry, for instance, will generate $180 million in annual business spending and create about 1,000 professional jobs in the next five years, Singapore’s Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli said last November.

China currently accounts for most of the more than 1.1 gigawatts of floating solar capacity now installed, according to the World Bank. Meanwhile, India recently announced a plan to develop 10 gigawatts of floating solar capacity.

The technology’s potential is about 400 gigawatts, or about as much generating capacity as all the solar photovoltaic panels installed in the world through 2017, the World Bank said.

There are concerns that the panels could block sunlight, affecting marine life, and that the electrical systems might not withstand the onslaught of water.

But backers say the technology is proven, and that the panels cover too small a surface area to create major problems.

REUTERS, THE STRAITS TIMES

Link: https://www.straitstimes.com/business/bright-future-for-floating-solar-panels-in-s-e-asia

Verizon’s green bonds and Nike’s clean energy deal: The sustainability success stories of the week

As part of our Mission Possible campaign, edie brings you this weekly round-up of five of the best sustainability success stories of the week from across the globe.

This weekly round-up explores how businesses across the world are ramping up efforts across all areas of sustainable development

This weekly round-up explores how businesses across the world are ramping up efforts across all areas of sustainable development

Published every week, this series charts how businesses, city leaders and sustainability professionals are working to achieve their ‘Mission Possible’ across the campaign’s five key pillars – energy, resources, mobility, built environment and business leadership. 

From a partnership aimed at bringing 400 electric vehicles (EV) charging points to the public in Suffolk, to the opening of Ikea’s new “leading sustainable” store in south London, each of these projects and initiatives is empowering businesses, local authorities and governments to achieve a sustainable future, today.

ENERGY: Nike makes its first European renewable purchase agreement

After signing an agreement with a Texan wind farm to power the company’s entire North American operations with renewables last year, Nike this week announced the completion of its first corporate renewable power purchase agreement (PPA) in Europe.

Under the deal, energy firm Iberdrola will supply Nike’s European factories and stores with 40MW of clean power from the Cavar wind complex in Navarra every year, once the facility comes online in 2020. The wind farm comprises of four projects with a total capacity of 200MW.

Nike’s chief sustainability officer Noel Kinder said the agreement with the Spanish wind farm has pushed Nike past the 75% mark as it strives to source 100% renewable power globally by 2025 – an aim the sportswear firm set after joining the RE100 initiative last year. As an interim target, the firm has pledged to achieve 100% renewable status across Europe by 2020.

RESOURCES: Selfridges launches recycled suit bags made with plastic bottles

From Adidas’ ocean plastic trainers to Corona’s recycled beach bottle shirt, more and more companies are moving to design products incorporating a high proportion of recycled content. Following in the footsteps of Marks & Spencer (M&S), which last year launched reusable bags made with ocean-bound plastic, Selfridges has rolled a range of garment covers made with 100% post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic to all its UK stores.

Produced in partnership with bag manufacturer Jutexpo, the reusable bags will be given free-of-charge to customers buying items such as luxury suits, coats and dresses. Each one is made using up to 12 500ml plastic bottles, which are recycled into a waterproof thread before being woven and pressed.

The innovative bags were rolled out across all of Selfridges’ UK stores on Monday (4 February), following a successful month-long trial at its flagship London store during January. The retailer estimates that more than 222,000 plastic bottles will be recycled into bags under the scheme within the next six months.

“As signatories to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Global Commitment on plastics, Selfridges is delighted to support new innovation that slows plastic pollution – and this garment bag is a great way of sharing this message with our customers and brand partners,” Selfridges’ sustainability director Daniella Vega said.

MOBILITY: Suffolk County Council launches UK’s first ‘fully open’ EV charging network

Over the past few months, several studies showing that the growth of the UK’s electric vehicle (EV) market is beginning to outstrip the provision of charging infrastructure have been published. In a bid to bridge this vehicle-infrastructure gap, Suffolk County Council has teamed up with charger manufacturer EO Charging and renewable energy firm Bulb to launch a network of 400 charging sockets across the region.

The charging points will be installed at 100 places of interest and businesses across Suffolk, with users encouraged to find their nearest facility using a digital, council-funded map. Using the 7kW charge points, which will be installed by the end of the year, will not require customers to sign up or become members of any organisation. Suffolk County Council claims that this feature is a first in the UK.

“Suffolk’s existing charging infrastructure is simply not fit for purpose if we are to see the mass adoption of EVs across the county,” EO Charging’s founder and chief executive Charlie Jardine said.

“The ‘Plug In Suffolk’ network will play a vital role in increasing the density of publicly available fast EV chargers and will ensure that driving electric in Suffolk is hassle-free, because charging should be as easy as buying groceries.”

BUILT ENVIRONMENT: Ikea UK opens its ‘leading’ sustainable store in Greenwich

For reasons spanning from its commitment to generate more renewable power than it consumes worldwide, to its progress towards fleet electrification for last-mile deliveries, Ikea often features in these round-ups as a sustainability leader in the retail space.

After four years of planning and development, the retailer this week opened its new Greenwich store, which has been touted as its “most sustainable” in the UK to date. The 32,000sqm store has been designed with an array of built-in sustainability features, including ground-source heat pumps; rainwater harvesting systems and greywater treatment; 100% LED Lighting; passive daylighting and EV charging points. It also benefits from an outdoor wildlife park, active greenhouse and rooftop solar array.

Ahead of the £100m store’s opening on Thursday (7 February), Ikea confirmed that the building had achieved BREEAM ‘Excellent’ status. The firm has now applied for the building to be judged against the body’s ‘Outstanding’ standard. If successful, the building will become the first retail location to receive this certification.

“Sustainability is in the DNA of the business,” Ikea UK and Ireland’s country sustainability manager Hege Sæbjørnsen said. “If we are going to be around for another 75 years, it is essential that it is embedded in everything we do, from how we design and build stores to what happens to our products at the end-of-life stage.”

Edie’s editorial team were recently taken on a tour of the new Ikea store, ahead of its opening. You can read our insight into that experience here.

BUSINESS LEADERSHIP: Verizon enters green bond market with $1bn deal

The green bonds market grew 78% between 2016 and 2017, with national and institutional investors funnelling more than $150bn into low-carbon projects during that 12-month period. In 2017-2018, that figure stood at $167bn.

Building on this growth, US-based telecoms giant Verizon this week entered the green bond market for the first time, with the issuance of $1bn of 10-year green bonds. The bonds will be used to finance large-scale solar and wind projects, hydrogen fuel cell electricity production facilities and onsite renewable generation arrays across Verizon’s estate.

Verizon’s chief sustainability officer Jim Gowen said the move was “a real game-changer” for the firm, which employs 152,000 people and serves 4.6 million customers across the US.

“The whole goal of this new bond was to focus on a new, unique funding source,” he told Fortune. “This really opened up a whole new investor base and funding source for us.”

The announcement came shortly after BlackRock published its annual global insights report, which documents the success of dedicated sustainable funds across the US and Europe. The document states that impact investment and green finance products are “going mainstream” and ceasing to be classed as a “niche” area.

 

Link: https://www.edie.net/news/7/Ikea-s-new–leading-sustainable–store-and-Nike-s-renewables-deal–The-sustainability-success-stories-of-the-week/

Party is over for dirt-cheap solar panels, says China executive

DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) – The global solar power industry is about to lose a major competitive windfall as prices of Chinese-made solar panels begin to recover after a collapse last year, the leader of one of the world’s top manufacturers said on Thursday.

“The party if definitely over,” said Eric Luo, president of China’s GCL System Integration Technology Co, a top-10 maker of solar panels, feeding the fastest-growing renewable power sector.

Solar panel prices tumbled around 30 percent last year after China, the world’s largest producer, cut subsidies to shrink its bloated solar industry, pushing smaller manufacturers to the brink of collapse.

To raise cash and stay afloat, manufacturers cleared inventory and diverted sales offshore, sending prices into a downward spiral – offering up a windfall for solar power generators and investors in solar farms.

Luo, speaking to Reuters at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort of Davos this week, said GCL’s vertically integrated business model cushioned it from the downturn in prices as its solar farms benefited from cheaper panels.

The pain will mostly be felt by smaller Chinese producers, which lack international supply chains, triggering industry consolidation or forcing them to close, he added.

Luo said solar panel prices were already stabilizing and he expected them to rebound by 10 to 15 percent as the Chinese industry consolidates over the next year or two.

Given panels represent close to half of a solar farm’s installation costs, that threatens to eat into the returns of investors.

China is home to almost a third of the world’s cumulative installed solar capacity and its manufacturers dominate the industry, despite being slapped with anti-dumping tariffs and getting caught up more recently in the U.S.-China trade war.

In September, the European Union ended restrictions on the sale of Chinese solar panels but Washington continues to impose an anti-dumping duty. They are also subject to President Donald Trump’s more recent hike to general tariffs on Chinese imports.

GCL still counts the United States as a major market but is expanding rapidly in other markets, following in the wake of Beijing’s huge Belt and Road international development program, Luo said, adding that overseas business would account for 75 percent of GCL’s solar panel shipments this year.

At home, Luo said China was rapidly nearing the point where the solar industry could operate without any form of subsidy. He said northwest China, where sun was more plentiful and land less expensive, had already reached that milestone.

Most of the rest of the country would follow this year, before the age of subsidies ends completely in 2020, he said.

“If you need subsidies (at that point), you just stop.”

 

Link: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-davos-meeting-solar-gcl/party-is-over-for-dirt-cheap-solar-panels-says-china-executive-idUSKCN1PI2OQ

Which direction are your solar panels facing? Elaelah Harley by ELAELAH HARLEY

THERE are a lot of things to consider when investing in solar energy systems.

As well as comparing prices and efficiency, it’s also important to make sure your solar panels are facing the right direction.

After all, solar energy relies on the sun, and a misled placement decision could affect your overall energy efficiency.

According to advice website Solar Power Rocks, all solar panels in Australia should be facing north.

Though this is a relatively straight-forward answer, unfortunately it’s not always that simple.

With modern designs taking artistic spins, some houses might have the issue of not having a north-facing roof.

If you want to keep your solar panels looking sleek on your roof, then you always have the option to increase the number of solar panels you have.

More solar panels will be able to collect more solar energy, and therefore will relatively solve the issue of a non-north facing roof.

However, this is a more expensive solution, as while overcompensating for the direction, you will spend more than a normal north-facing set up.

When considering environmental factors, purchasing more solar panels to equal north-facing solar efficiency is also a negative, as buying more panels to be used inefficiently would be a waste.

If you’re open to a less-traditional look, Solar Power Rocks specialists state that for an extra cost, you can always mount your solar panels on your roof, so that they face a northern direction.

Otherwise, you’re always able to solve the issue by putting your panels on an entirely different north-facing location on your property.

 

A misled placement decision could affect your overall solar energy efficiency.

A misled placement decision could affect your overall solar energy efficiency.

 

 

Link: https://www.southburnetttimes.com.au/news/which-direction-are-your-solar-panels-facing/3631155/

Solar Power Outperforming Wind As Renewable Energy Becomes Commonplace

As the proliferation of renewable energy continues across Europe, U.S. and several emerging markets, such project initiatives are gradually losing their niche status and becoming more commonplace, according to fresh industry research.

In its first examination of the renewable energy infrastructure space, Fitch Ratings said the sphere is being led by solar energy projects that “consistently outperform” wind power on a global scale.

However, despite their increased acceptance, renewable revenues remain “inherently volatile” since the resource in question is outside of the project’s control, the rating agency added. Nonetheless, asset performance for solar projects has been more consistent even though their track record is shorter.

A solar panel array in Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S. The solar power industry in the U.S. has boomed in recent years, making it more competitive with other forms of electricity generation. (Photo: Susan Montoya Bryan / AP)

Fitch Director Andrew Joynt believes solar projects are demonstrating lower operational risk, better generation performance and lower volatility. “Solar projects also tend to meet or exceed initial volume estimates while wind projects more often underperform against expectations.”

Solar projects are also outperforming wind projects from a ratings perspective, he added.

Fitch has upgraded 19% of its rated solar projects compared to 1% for its for wind projects. Additionally, the agency has downgraded 12% of the wind projects. All of the downgrades were down to underperformance compared with expectations.

Volatility of revenue counterparties has driven much of the solar project downgrade activity in recent years, most recently with Pacific Gas & Electric Co.’s (PG&E) plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy stateside and the subsequent ripple effect on U.S. project financings, such as Genesis Solar and Topaz Solar Farms, dependent on PG&E for revenue.

In a public filing earlier this week, PG&E cited at least $7 billion in claims from California’s recent wildfire, which caused 86 deaths and destroyed 14,000 homes, along with over 500 businesses and 4,300 other buildings.

Solar panels are seen in an aerial photograph of First Solar’s Desert Sunlight Solar Farm in the Mojave Desert, California, U.S. (Photo: Tim Rue / Bloomberg) BLOOMBERG NEWS

A report by CNN suggests the fire was started when a PG&E power line came in contact with trees. PG&E reported “an outage” on a transmission line in the area where the fire began roughly a quarter of an hour before it started, leading to the claims. However, the company’s demise is unlikely to stunt the growth of the U.S. renewables sector.

Geographically speaking, the majority of wind projects emanate from Latin America with Brazil housing 19 of 41 Fitch-rated wind projects. Conversely, Fitch-rated solar projects are concentrated to a large extent (nine of 16 projects) in the U.S., or the state of California to be exact.

“Over time, however, there are likely to be more solar projects out of Brazil, while offshore wind projects may proliferate in Europe and the U.S.,” Joynt concluded.

Link: https://www.forbes.com/sites/gauravsharma/2019/01/17/solar-power-outperforming-wind-as-renewable-energy-becomes-commonplace/#2d5a66b46ea0

New York City nonprofits lead the way to solar power and green jobs for low-income communities

The iconic New York City skyline does not typically include images of gleaming solar panels on skyscraper rooftops. There’s too little space, impractical roofs and far too much shade. But head uptown to Harlem or the Bronx, downtown to the Lower East Side or into the outer boroughs, and the skyline begins to change. Even the shadows of the new and absurdly tall “Billionaire’s Row” luxury towers (locally reviled and referred to as “matchsticks”) cannot reach into these neighborhoods. Only a few short years ago, imagining solar arrays on Manhattan rooftops was a fantasy, but that is starting to change.

For the past several decades, solar panels have been steadily sprouting on the rooftops of suburban homeowners and in large arrays covering former farmland, deserts and industrial roofs. Due in part to incomplete information, low-income urban communities, especially communities of color, were largely left out of the solar revolution. It was assumed solar was too impractical or costly, and installers had little desire to do business in difficult city conditions. But thanks to a small group of visionary nonprofits, forward-thinking installers and engaged residents demanding access to clean, affordable power, there is a developing trend toward affordable solar power in these communities.

At the center of this movement is the New York City nonprofit Solar One, whose mission is to make solar power accessible and affordable to all New Yorkers. Rather than looking to the Manhattan business centers like Midtown and Wall Street, the team at Solar One realized that there was plenty of roof space, ample sunlight and eager residents in working-class residential neighborhoods. Streets in these neighborhoods typically feature rows of modest six-story apartment buildings, and a quick trip to the rooftops of many of these buildings reveals abundant sunlight and ideal southern exposure.

A Solar Uptown Now installation in Harlem.

The team at Solar One realized that in order to prove the feasibility of solar for such communities, they had to first demonstrate the benefits to a variety of stakeholders, including building residents and owners, installers, community and non-profit organizations, and even city officials. It was clear that a dedicated team of technically knowledgeable individuals with strong people skills and a good deal of patience would be needed, and so the Here Comes Solar (HCS) program was formed.

Solar One and the HCS team created partnerships with a select group of NYC nonprofits that work with building owners and community members. These partners refer co-op owners and board members to the HCS team, which helps the owners understand that they could save money and increase property value with solar installations. Alternatively, a partner may host a workshop to help residents learn about solar costs, incentives and financing options and to connect them with the HCS team.

Once contact and interest have been established, meetings are held to discuss solar feasibility, budget, building needs and design considerations. For example, building owners may want to refurbish their roofs, or residents may want space for a roof deck. Throughout the process, the HCS team provides education, technical assistance, design and information about costs, incentives and financing. When the details are established, HCS helps the building owners solicit bids from qualified local solar companies and helps the board choose an installer. Since many of these projects are for Housing Development Fund Corporation(HDFC) affordable cooperatives, other community and city organizations are often part of the project team as well.

For example, a recent initiative, Solar Uptown Now (S.U.N.) is currently underway to bring solar power to 11 buildings in Harlem, with more coming. The project led by WE ACT for Environmental Justice is a collaboration with Solar One and several key partners including The Urban Homesteading Assistance Board (UHAB) and Solarize NYC.

A self-ballasted Solar Uptown system takes shape in the Bronx.

The S.U.N. campaign is the first successful solar group purchasing campaign that focuses on multifamily affordable housing in NYC.

“Replicating this innovative model in similar neighborhoods is crucial to expanding access to solar energy to urban communities, particularly low and moderate-income communities of color that face disproportionately higher energy cost burden and are more likely to be exposed to environmental issues,” said Solar One’s program manager Juan Parra. “Solar energy is a solution that not only provides energy savings, but also addresses environmental and equity issues in urban communities.”

One major reason why this all works in the end is the cost savings. As a nonprofit, Solar One is able to step in and alleviate much of the burden that is usually on the installer or building owners. Soft costs such as site analysis, preliminary design, owner education and customer acquisition are absorbed by Solar One, thus allowing installers to offer pricing that is up to 20% lower than would otherwise be possible. And since many of these programs include multiple projects on the same timeline and in close geographic proximity, installers are able to save money on costs like permitting, equipment rental and installation.

One of the most exciting facets of this model is that the residents of the communities are so deeply engaged. Rather than waiting for solar to come to working-class neighborhoods, communities are taking matters into their own hands.

Brandon Lee Yaw, a training program graduate, working on a Solar Uptown Now project.

After a critical mass of HDFC cooperatives elected to move forward with solar projects, Solar One prepared and distributed a request for proposals among qualified local solar companies. Several bids were received and evaluated by representatives of the buildings, who ultimately chose 770 Electric as their solar installer. In addition to the competitive pricing and high-quality equipment and design, the building owners mandated that the chosen installer hire local workers trained by WE ACT and Solar One’s Green Workforce Training Program. Through a partnership with WE ACT, Solar One trained more than 100 unemployed and underemployed Northern Manhattan residents. Five of them have already landed solar jobs—including two who are working with 770 Electric on the S.U.N. installations.

“To ensure a just transition from fossil fuels to clean energy, and help improve the overall health of the community, it is essential that programs such as Solar Uptown Now include worker training and job opportunities for local residents—which is something the community demanded, and we built in to the program,” said Cecil Corbin-Mark, deputy director and director of policy initiatives at WE ACT for Environmental Justice.

The model on the whole appears to be working, and other projects are underway in Brooklyn, the Lower East Side, the Bronx and more.

Link :https://www.solarpowerworldonline.com/2019/01/new-york-city-nonprofits-lead-the-way-solar-power-green-jobs/

Solar and Renewable Energy Trends in 2019

The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. Sven Lindström, CEO of Swedish solar energy technology leader Midsummer, gives us his insights as to what developments we can we expect from the solar and renewable energy sectors in 2019

Solar and Renewable Energy Trends in 2019

The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. Sven Lindström, CEO of Swedish solar energy technology leader Midsummer, gives us his insights as to what developments we can we expect from the solar and renewable energy sectors in 2019:

 

Simplicity in installation ever more important

Global photovoltaic monocrystalline silicon module prices fell sharply in 2018. I predict continued depressed prices in 2019 at around or even below 0,20 USD/W coming from China. The conclusion and end result is that the cost for modules become an even smaller part of the total installation cost, which in turn will lead to a different business model.

The potential for profits no longer lies with the module costs, but with logistics, balance of system costs and soft costs like permits and administration. So the focus will shift to ease of installation and new markets where solar modules are still in the ‘greenfield’ phase: weak roofs, building integrated photovoltaics etc.

 

Increased focus on CO2 footprint and energy payback

As solar energy installations spread, there will be an increased focus on its carbon footprint and energy payback. To manufacture energy demanding silicon panels, glass and aluminium frames with dirty coal power is not environmentally friendly. PV suppliers will be increasingly judged on the climate effect of their production processes. The advantage here lies with manufacturers of frame- and glassless thin film solar panels which can carry a carbon footprint of merely 1/10 of silicon panels.

 

Grid owners control supply for a more efficient grid

In clean energy leading California, new guidelines are introduced for grid owners to communicate with and steer individual inverters to control the supply and reduce pressure on the grid in an efficient way. At the same time, inverters will be required to automatically regulate their output depending on fluctuations in voltage and frequency, which they will be able to do quicker and more effectively than the large central power stations can manage, regardless of technology.

This is good news for everyone as new capital-intensive grids might not be necessary at all. Instead it is about software and communication, but are grid owners acting fast enough? Maybe Google, Apple or Amazon could do it twice as fast, and cheaper? A smart home with a smart grid, maybe the threat to utility companies is in the cloud?

 

Batteries might do exactly the same thing as smart inverters

Batteries are still expensive, but coming down in price. For the long term, when it comes to residential storage, I predict exactly the same curve and market shift as for PV-panels. From today’s ~1,000USD/kWh I think we will sooner than expected reach 100 USD/kWh. Quality from China will become good enough to dominate the market. This is great news for all consumers. With smart inverters and batteries, for most households the grid could be seen as just a back-up solution.

 

Government incentives played out their role, but there is need for regulations

In most markets government incentives for investment or feed-in tariffs have played out their roles. With today’s and future prices of PV panels, electricity and battery solutions no incentives are needed. However, in order to stop grid owners from killing the market, strong government regulations to allow PV connections with limited restrictions are needed, now more than ever.

 

PPAs and auctions will dominate the constructions of large parks

Large parks are still needed in many markets. Even though they do not utilize the true strengths of distributed PV power, they still offer the lowest electricity generation cost in many parts of the world. They also provide a backbone for large suppliers of PV panels. This is a market where utility companies can make a difference in the energy transition, (but households and their grids could better be handled by the large IT companies). Power purchase agreements (PPAs) and auctions will dominate the construction of large parks.

 Link: https://www.altenergymag.com/article/2019/01/solar-and-renewable-energy-trends-in-2019/30067