Google Says It Will Run Entirely on Renewable Energy in 2017

Posted on December 5th, 2016 in environment by Spencer R.



Last year, Google consumed as much energy as the city of San Francisco. Next year, it said, all of that energy will come from wind farms and solar panels.

The online giant said on Tuesday that all of its data centers around the world will be entirely powered with renewable energy sources sometime next year.

This is not to say that Google computers will consume nothing but wind and solar power. Like almost any company, Google gets power from a power company, which operates an energy grid typically supplied by a number of sources, including hydroelectric dams, natural gas, coal and wind power.

What Google has done over the last decade, with relatively little fanfare, is participate in a number of large-scale deals with renewable producers, typically guaranteeing to buy the energy they produce with their wind turbines and solar cells. With those guarantees, wind companies can obtain bank financing to build more turbines.

The power created by the renewables is plugged into the utility grid, so that Google’s usage presents no net consumption of fossil fuels and the pool of electricity gets a relatively larger share of renewable sources.

“We are the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy in the world,” said Joe Kava, Google’s senior vice president of technical infrastructure. “It’s good for the economy, good for business and good for our shareholders.”

Unlike carbon-based power, Mr. Kava said, wind supply prices do not fluctuate, enabling Google to plan better. In addition, the more renewable energy it buys, the cheaper those sources get. In some places, like Chile, Google said, renewables have at times become cheaper than fossil fuels.

Whether Google is the largest buyer of renewables would be difficult to verify, as many industries do not release data on how much energy they consume. There is no doubt, however, that Google’s large computer complexes, along with similar global operations by Amazon and Microsoft, are among the world’s fastest-growing new consumers of electricity.

Google hopes that success in working with large wind farms, like the 50,000-acre facility in Minco, Okla., which supplies Google’s large data center in Pryor, Okla., will spur development of the industry. NextEra Energy, which owns the wind farm, has about 115 wind farms in the United States and Canada.

About 25 percent of United States electricity goes to businesses, and companies like Google are now about 2 percentage points of that. Dominion Virginia Power, located in a state with perhaps the world’s largest concentration of data centers, last year had a demand increase from those customers of 9 percent, while overall demand was nearly flat, according to Dominion.

Google operates eight different businesses, including internet search engines, YouTube and Gmail, each of which has over 1 billion customers. They run on a global network of 13 large-scale data centers, each one a complex of many buildings containing hundreds of thousands of computers.

The 5.7 terawatt-hours of electricity Google consumed in 2015 “is equal to the output of two 500 megawatt coal plants,” said Jonathan Koomey, a lecturer in the school of earth, energy and environmental sciences at Stanford. That is enough for two 140,000-person towns. “For one company to be doing this is a very big deal. It means other companies of a similar scale will feel pressure to move.”

It moves the needle on costs to have a big consumer, Mr. Koomey added, since a larger market tends to allow for economies of scale and more innovation. “Every time you double production, you reduce the cost of solar by about 20 percent. Wind goes down 10 to 12 percent,” he said.

Facebook has entered into similar deals with wind producers. Last week, Amazon reiterated its long-term commitment to power its machines entirely with renewable energy, though for 2016 it expects to be above about 40 percent of its goal. It has announced five more solar projects.

Microsoft says it has been 100 percent carbon neutral since 2014, but much of this comes from the purchase of carbon offsets, which are investments in things like tree planting or renewables projects meant to compensate for the fossil fuels a company consumes. The company hopes to have half of its electric power supplied from wind, solar and hydroelectric sources by 2018. Its data centers currently use about 3.3 million megawatt-hours of power a year.

Google has long championed uses of alternative energy. In 2007, it patented an idea for a floating data center that would be powered by waves. It was never built. Less fanciful, but so far equally fruitless, have been schemes to source lots of geothermal power, or capture the high-velocity winds of the stratosphere with large kites. It also takes pride in the energy efficiency of its data centers.

Critics note that while Google might be adding wind and solar to the world’s power grid, overall it is still dependent on fossil fuels, since sun and wind power are intermittent, while demand for things like YouTube cat videos is continual.

“In my mind it’s a P.R. gimmick,” said Chris Warren, vice president of communications at the Institute for Energy Research, a think tank in Washington supported largely by donations from individuals and companies in the fossil fuel industry. “If they think they can actually support themselves with wind and solar panels, they should connect them directly to their data centers.”

Next year’s goal will be 95 percent accomplished with wind turbines around the world, Mr. Kava said, and Google’s support for the industry could keep prices dropping, particularly relative to things like coal. “We’re technology-agnostic, but we’re not price-agnostic,” he said.


How geothermal technology helps meeting high lithium demand

Posted on December 1st, 2016 in environment by Spencer R.



Mineral extraction continues to make headlines in connection with geothermal energy projects world wide.

In an article by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Geothermal Technologies Office, an overview is given on the efforts “for mineral recovery research and development program to identify methods of recovering lithium and rare earth elements found in geothermal fluids. This year the effort expanded to include evaluation of comparable methods in other industries and the potential to translate successful methodologies for use in geothermal mineral recovery.

Lithium and rare earth elements typically maintain high commodity value and are used in a range of specialized industrial and technological applications. They furthermore represent a new revenue stream for geothermal operators – by validating methods for recovering and purifying critical materials, the economic and production benefits of geothermal energy projects can be improved, making them more cost-competitive at a wider range of locations.

The California Energy Commission (CEC) recently selected SRI International for extended research funding via the Energy Department’s Funding Opportunity Announcement: “Improving the Cost-Effectiveness and Operational Flexibility of Geothermal Energy Production.”

Over the next two years SRI will continue geothermal mineral recovery research – initiated two years ago via the Energy Department’s Geothermal Technologies Office – focusing on advances in lithium recovery from geothermal brines using ion-imprinted polymers. Lithium is among a class of elements that plays a vital role in many clean energy technologies, including solar, wind, electric vehicles and energy-efficient lighting.

SRI’s original efforts centered on extracting lithium and manganese from potential geothermal sources.  Going forward, their research efforts will focus on lithium recovery from the geothermal fluids extracted in California’s Salton Sea region. Under the DOE award, tests showed that lithium separation via ion-imprinted polymers is highly effective – in one process, more than 90% of retrievable lithium was separated from a test brine.

Continued refinement of sorbent capacity and selectivity is, however, required to produce an effective production-caliber brine separation system, which is where the CEC’s research funding comes into play.  To support this goal, SRI’s immediate technical objective is to further advance the performance and efficiency of ion-imprinted polymers to achieve optimal lithium separation rates exceeding 95%.

EERE accelerates development and deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies that strengthen U.S. energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality. Visit the Geothermal Technologies Office to learn more about funding opportunities and efforts to develop innovative technologies capable of locating, accessing, and developing geothermal resources.”


General Motors invests in wind energy solutions

Posted on December 1st, 2016 in wind by Spencer R.



Wind will power Arlington’s General Motors Co. assembly plant, as the automaker purchases enough electricity to power 16 U.S. facilities.

GM will purchase 193,000 megawatt-hours of electricity annually, enough to power the company’s business offices in Fort Worth and Austin, as well as the assembly and stamping complex in Arlington and 13 parts warehouses across the western half of the country. The agreement marks the largest purchase of renewable energy in the company’s history.

GM is sourcing wind power through an agreement with Renewable Energy Systems, a global renewable energy and energy storage development and construction company. The automaker will purchase 50 megawatts of power produced at a Renewable Energy Systems 150-megawatt wind farm, Cactus Flats, in Concho County, Texas.


“[Renewable Energy Systems] is proud to support General Motors in reaching its 100 percent renewable energy goal,” said Glen Davis, CEO of Renewable Energy Systems in the Americas, in a statement. “[Renewable Energy Systems] brings decades of experience to GM and other companies to reduce their carbon footprint and secure low-cost renewable energy for the future.”

According to GM’s estimates, switching to renewable wind power will lower the plant’s energy costs by about $3 million each year, as well as cut emissions by 1 million metric tons.

The agreement is part of GM’s pledge to meet all of the company’s energy needs through renewable sources by 2050. When the agreement with Renewable Energy Systems goes into place in 2018, 6 percent of GM’s global energy usage will come from renewable energy sources.


Along with its purchase of wind power, GM hosts 24 solar installations around the world and is the top ranked automotive user of solar energy in the U.S., according to a report released this month by the Solar Energy Industries Association.



TOP PLANT: Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project, Tonopah, Nevada

Posted on December 1st, 2016 in solar by Spencer R.



Three-and-a-half hours north of Las Vegas, in a rocky, desolate stretch of Nevada desert, an innovative solar-storage plant has nearly completed a year of commercial operations. It also may have delivered proof of round-the-clock dispatchable solar energy.

The Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project, a concentrating solar power (CSP) plant built by Santa Monica, Calif.–based SolarReserve outside Tonopah, Nev., shares a lot of similarities with other solar-tower CSP plants like Ivanpah (POWER’s 2014 Plant of the Year). Just over 10,000 billboard-sized heliostats, each about 1,200 square feet, focus sunlight on a central receiver at the top of a 640-foot tower. The plant uses the heat collected to generate steam and drive a turbine generator.

CSP is a straightforward and fairly well understood technology that’s been around for more than a decade. The first utility-scale CSP plant came online in 2008, and several dozen of them are in operation around the world, mostly in Spain. Crescent Dunes isn’t the largest CSP plant by any means—at 110 MW, it’s less than a third the size of Ivanpah, the current leader.

What sets Crescent Dunes apart from its predecessors is that it incorporates 10 hours of full-power thermal energy storage—a total of 1.1 GWh. In terms of duration, that’s more than earlier CSP-plus-storage plants like the Solana Generating Station in Arizona (a 2014 POWERTop Plant) that store around five to seven hours of generation, and far more than the largest battery projects currently in development, which top out at around 400 MWh. And unlike Solana, which circulates a heat-transfer fluid that is then used to heat molten salt, the receiver at Crescent Dunes heats the salt directly.

The molten salt system circulates the salt from a cold tank, through the solar tower, where it’s heated from 550F to 1,050F, and then to a hot tank (Figure 1). Molten salt from the hot tank is then sent through a Nooter/Eriksen steam generator. The steam is sent through a turbine-generator, then to an air-cooled condenser, and back to the steam generator.

Round the Clock

The plant sells its power to Nevada utility NV Energy under a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA). Since reaching commercial operations in November 2015, Crescent Dunes has—unlike Ivanpah—quietly exceeded its obligations, delivering 105% of contracted output. The molten salt receiver has achieved 100% availability through 2016, and performance data show that it’s operating 2% above its expected efficiency.


Producing Wind Energy In The Ocean, No Turbines In Sight

Posted on November 29th, 2016 in wind by Spencer R.



Accio Energy gets its name from the Harry Potter series, where an "accio" spell summons something to a character (a broomstick, for instance). In the open ocean, Accio Energy summons something almost as powerful as one of Harry's charms: the physics of a thunderstorm.

The startup, based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is testing a wind energy technology that looks nothing like a turbine. It's a permeable mast or panel that uses water droplets and the wind to create a direct electric current. The panels emit a fine positively charged mist. Then, when wind blows through, it separates negative from positive charges, sending electrons down a high voltage cable to the coastline.


The technical name for this process is ElectroHydroDynamics (EHD) and it could one day be a genuine contender to more conventional wind tech. The Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) research program has awarded Accio close to $5 million to test its designs at scale. The company hopes to have a fully functioning prototype within a year or two.

Though offshore wind is well established in Europe, it's yet to take off in a big way in the U.S., chiefly because of cost issues. Accio CEO Jen Baird says there's still time for an alternative technology to take hold, if it's cheap enough.


"We're looking to make a step-change on costs and do something that leverages automotive heritage manufacturing," she says. "If we can make enough of a cost-saving differential, then we have a chance of making a difference and get more renewable power."

Offshore wind turbines can stand as high as 700 feet and are difficult to transport and fix into the ocean bed. You need specialist trucks and shipping equipment. Baird says the EHD panels, when built, will fit onto any 18-wheel flatbed truck, and can be put in place with conventional ships. Moreover, the EHD structure will float, meaning it can be placed in more locations than a fixed turbine. In all, Baird thinks Accio could cut the energy cost compared to turbines by 50% (though, of course, it's a long way from making good on that prediction).

The startup, founded by CTO Dawn White, participated recently in the Unreasonable Impact U.S. program, an accelerator for social impact-type businesses organized by the Unreasonable Institute and Barclays bank. If the testing phase goes well, Accio hopes to team up with industrial partners with heavy engineering and marine experience.


"We think this will be easier and faster to deploy [than turbines] so we can get more wind harvesting," Baird says. "If we can get some industrial partners to help us to accelerate the process, we could be [up and running] in five years."


An ancient cathedral in England is getting solar panels

Posted on November 29th, 2016 in solar by Spencer R.




For more than 1,300 years the site of Gloucester Cathedral, in the south west of England, has been a place of continuous worship. Rich in history, it is home to the tomb of King Edward II, who died in 1327. Now, it has become one of the oldest cathedrals in the world to have solar panels.

"The Church of England… has a campaign which is called Shrinking the Footprint, and it's a very ambitious campaign to reduce carbon emissions throughout the Church by 80 percent by 2050," Anne Cranston, Project Pilgrim manager at Gloucester Cathedral, told CNBC in a phone interview.

Commenting on the Shrinking the Footprint project, the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, has previously said that the Church is "committed to mitigate the effects of climate change which will fall disproportionately on the poor and vulnerable in the world."


Solar power is becoming an increasingly important part of the planet's energy mix. In the U.S., for example, data from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association has shown that the solar industry there installed 7,286 megawatts of solar power in 2015, an increase of over 1,000 megawatts of solar photovoltaic installations compared to 2014.

Back in Gloucester, Cranston explained why solar was seen as a viable way of making the Cathedral a beacon for clean energy.

For more than 1,300 years the site of Gloucester Cathedral, in the south west of England, has been a place of continuous worship. Rich in history, it is home to the tomb of King Edward II, who died in 1327. Now, it has become one of the oldest cathedrals in the world to have solar panels.

"The Church of England… has a campaign which is called Shrinking the Footprint, and it's a very ambitious campaign to reduce carbon emissions throughout the Church by 80 percent by 2050," Anne Cranston, Project Pilgrim manager at Gloucester Cathedral, told CNBC in a phone interview.

Commenting on the Shrinking the Footprint project, the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, has previously said that the Church is "committed to mitigate the effects of climate change which will fall disproportionately on the poor and vulnerable in the world."


Solar power is becoming an increasingly important part of the planet's energy mix. In the U.S., for example, data from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association has shown that the solar industry there installed 7,286 megawatts of solar power in 2015, an increase of over 1,000 megawatts of solar photovoltaic installations compared to 2014.

Back in Gloucester, Cranston explained why solar was seen as a viable way of making the Cathedral a beacon for clean energy.

"We have bought clean energy for the past few years, but churches and cathedrals have the benefit of being west-east aligned and therefore a lot of us have these south facing roofs," she said. "It seemed somewhat of a gift if we could take advantage of it." Cranston went on to state that the Cathedral "will continue to go green, there is lots more that we need to do."

The installation is now complete and Monday saw the solar panels switched on, with the 38 kilowatt solar array set to help cut energy costs by 25 percent.

"From a green perspective, it'll save them about 16 tonnes of carbon dioxide … per annum," Ben Harrison, from Mypower, told CNBC in a phone interview.

Mypower oversaw the installation of the panels on the Cathedral's roof, and Harrison went on to explain that the carbon dioxide savings would be equivalent to planting several acres of woodland per year.

Harrison added that working on the project had proved to be "the opportunity of a lifetime. Very few people get the opportunity to go on the roof of Gloucester Cathedral, let alone be part of creating its future."

"In terms of the sustainability, the energy production, it's been extremely satisfying."


One village solved Bangladesh’s unreliable energy grid problem with “swarm electrification”

Posted on November 29th, 2016 in solar by Spencer R.



In Bangladesh, daily power outages are simply expected.



Cities like Dhaka and Chittagong experience around two to three hours of “load shedding” every day when residents are deliberately cut off from electricity in a bid to conserve power. And load shedding happens even more often in rural areas.



Bangladesh’s power is unreliable in part because of its vulnerability to changes in weather: When temperatures rise in hot summers, power consumption goes up as people use more fans and air conditioners—demand often outstrips the limited supply of electricity. Dry seasons make rivers run dry, which hinders electricity generation, fuel extraction, transportation, and emissions control; flooding in the rainy season can put chunks of the population entirely off the grid.

But the same environment that has wreaked havoc on Bangladesh’s electricity supply is now powering a working class neighborhood in the country.



The energy from the glaring sun in the hot summers can be captured by solar panels. This source of electricity can be used immediately or saved for later use when natural disruptions occur. Currently, however, each household bears the burden of sustaining itself. A local company is trying to share that across communities and villages.



In September 2015, Bangladesh-based ME SOLshare set up a “swarm electrification,” pilot project that let residents in Shakimali Matborkandi, a village in the Shariatpur district, trade solar energy among themselves. All they need is a 2,370 taka ($30) device called SOLbox and a mobile phone with bKash, the largest mobile banking network in the country.

Swarm electrification is built on the idea that a unified community working together like a swarm of fish can survive the worst. “If a shark attacks a swarm, it may take out one or two fish, but the rest keep on swimming,” ME SOLshare’s managing director Sebastian Groh told Motherboard.

To purchase electricity, people add credit to their mobile wallet and switch their SOLbox to “buy” mode—power that is captured by existing solar home systems can be transferred from one household’s black box to another in exchange for credit via a direct current. Some households may use less power than others because they have fewer family members and appliances—or perhaps are just more conservative about their electricity usage. Those who want to give away excess power can switch their black box to “sell mode.”



Nearly 4 million homes in Bangladesh have installed solar panels. In the last decade, solar energy has contributed to a nearly 10% of the uptick in access to electricity in Bangladesh. “This is the fastest-growing solar home system in the world,” Nazmul Haque Faisal from IDCOL, a government-owned financing institution, told the World Bank last year. In 2015 alone, nearly 1.7 billion solar home systems were installed in houses, shops, fishing boats and more across Bangladesh, according to local non-profit Grameen Shakti that works on connecting rural villagers to renewable energy.

Solar is a much more “reliable, clean, and cheaper” source of energy than using kerosene or diesel generators, the previous standard for powering homes whenever the main grid went down, according to the New York Times. SOLbox will allow all appliances to keep working. provides an additional environmental benefit: “People are encouraged to use energy efficient appliances and the latest LED lights to reduce consumption,” Groh told Motherboard. There’s a financial incentive to save energy: For some households, the ability to conserve and sell surplus power to their neighbors could provide a new income stream.

Bangladesh isn’t the only country experimenting with these sorts of nanogrids. There are online marketplaces for electricity in the Netherlands. In New Zealand, schools, households and more have started dabbling with peer-to-peer electricity transfer platforms.



However, in Bangladesh, where 60% of the households do not have access to grid electricity, a localized system for trading electricity could finally bring power to dozens of millions living in impoverished communities that have known nothing besides kerosene, lamps, candles and batteries.



Miners go green in hunt for cost efficiencies, using renewable energy sources in far-flung locations

Posted on November 28th, 2016 in environment by Spencer R.



Mining companies are digging into renewable energy as a way to reduce costs and offset the impact of volatile conventional fuel prices as the world shifts to a low-carbon economy.

Industry executives gathered last week at the Energy and Mines World Congress in Toronto focused on how innovation in energy – which can comprise as much as one-quarter of operating expenses in remote locations – can make mines more cost-effective and environmentally sustainable.

“I think we will be surprised at the speed at which mining companies will start to adopt these things,” said Adriaan Davidse, mining innovation leader at Deloitte.

Amid rapid improvements in renewable technologies, wind and solar prices have fallen dramatically in recent years and are expected to keep dropping. In many parts of the world —especially in remote locations – the alternative energy solutions are becoming cheaper than conventional sources.

Meanwhile, a dearth of new mine opportunities is driving companies into more far-flung locations that are not connected to the electricity grid — resulting in dependency on diesel — an unreliable, costly and carbon-intensive source of energy.

Some miners also see renewables as a way to maximize their social licence to operate by selling the benefits of renewables to surrounding communities: the switch can help end community-reliance on diesel generators for decades after the mine’s life ends.

About US$6 trillion of investment capital is expected to be deployed into renewable energy by 2035 – more than three times the amount in conventional energy infrastructure, according to an Ernst & Young report.

However, in the current low conventional fuel price environment, many companies are missing the opportunity to invest in technology that will insulate them from future price hikes, Davidse said.

“Mining companies position themselves typically as waiting for technologies to be mature before they adopt them, but in this case the ability to integrate renewables depends on your ability to be adaptable,” he said.

Though commodity down cycles are nothing new, miners are also grappling with longer-term structural changes such as increasing pressure to adopt sustainable practices and carbon-pricing systems, he added.

“Renewables have a very significant role to play in addressing many of these issues –including support to the communities and the reduction of emissions,” he said.

Some of the world’s biggest miners, including Barrick Gold and Gold Fields, are early adopters, experimenting in locations where renewable power makes the most sense, such as in sub-Saharan Africa, where both communities and miners are all too familiar with rolling blackouts.

Miners have already realized energy savings of between 10 and 40 per cent from investing in renewables, innovative energy technologies and automating certain processes to reduce power use, according to Deloitte.

While much of the work so far has been done in southern climates where solar energy is abundant, miners are also experimenting with wind solutions in northern climates where solar is too unreliable.

Rio Tinto aims to generate 10 per cent of its energy demand at the Diavik diamond mine in the Northwest Territories from a nearby wind farm, while Glencore Xstrata is partnering with Tugliq Power to have wind power meet half of its energy needs at the Raglan Mine.

Third-party partners, such as Tugliq, are making it easier for mining companies by stepping in to fund, develop and operate the systems in exchange for a long-term pricing commitment.

Stephen Letwin, CEO of Iamgold Corp., which is using solar power as part of the energy mix at the Rosebel gold mine in Suriname, believes the biggest barrier to higher adoption of renewables is the high capital costs –which is what makes having a partner so attractive.

At Iamgold’s remote Essakane gold project in Burkina Faso, the company is in the midst of completing a partnership deal to have 10 per cent of power supply come from solar.

“Think of it as a toll road – what it’s like is a highway that you get to use without having to put up the huge amount of capital but over time you pay a toll for using the road and the people who put up the money get a return,” Letwin said.

The shift toward renewables is a way to hedge against both rising fuel costs and carbon emissions.


Remote tropical island now completely powered by solar energy in the South Pacific

Posted on November 28th, 2016 in solar by Spencer R.



A remote tropical island in the South Pacific has managed to rid itself of its reliance on diesel and is now completely powered by solar energy.

Ta’u Island, part of American Samoa, is using more than 5,000 solar panels and 60 Tesla power packs to run the entire island.

Before the move to renewable energy, the island, which is home to 600 people and located 4,000 miles off the west coast of the US, was dependent on 100,000 gallons of diesel to survive.

Utu Abe Malae, executive director of the American Samoa Power Authority, said although it was not easy to implement, it is “the future” for all islands in the area. 

Previously Ta’u Island would grind to stand-still when bad weather prevented ferries transporting diesel from docking, but now, due to the new technology, the island is completely self-sufficient. 

“Shipping diesel has been a long-standing environmental risk, and an inefficient use of taxpayers’ money,” the Guardian reported Mr Malae as saying.

“We want all of American Samoa to be solar-powered by 2040 – but Ta’u has been the priority and test-run.”

Construction of the grid began two years ago and had been delayed due to technical issues and poor weather. Solar engineers from contractors Tesla and SolarCity flew out from California to help oversee construction. 

“The ferries to the island would often break down, so then we’d have to flag down nearby fishing boats to transport the solar panels, and then they’d have to pass the panels to row-boats to reach the island. Nothing about this project went smoothly at all,” Mr Malae added. 


Sweden to scrap taxes on solar energy in 2017

Posted on November 28th, 2016 in solar by Spencer R.



Sweden is set to ditch taxes on its production of solar energy in 2017 in a bid to run entirely on renewable energy by 2040, the government said on Monday.

Solar energy is currently marginal in the Nordic nation, accounting for less than 0.1 percent of . Sweden relies mostly on hydropower (39 percent) and nuclear power (36 percent).

The finance ministry said in a statement that the production of  for own use would be entirely exempt from taxes. Electricity providers would meanwhile only be taxed 500 kronor (51 euros) per megawatt hour, which is a 98-percent reduction from the current level.

"This makes fast investments possible," Social Democratic Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson said.

The proposal is likely to be adopted by parliament, with the centre-right opposition having criticised the minister for her lack of ambition with regards  investments.

The move must also be approved by the European Commission in Brussels, which aims to boost the EU's share of renewable energy to at least 20 percent of consumption.

In October, the Swedish energy market regulator had estimated that in order to reach the target of 100 percent renewable energy, the share of solar electricity would have to rise to between five and 10 percent.