4 New Ways to Store Renewable Energy With Water

Posted on January 31st, 2017 in environment by Spencer R.



Earth, Wind & Water: DNV GL’s energy island concept creates a lake in the ocean that stores wind energy by pumping water out.

If Elon Musk has his way, in the future we’ll all be storing renewableelectricity inside big banks of lithium-ion batteries. But let’s not forget the energy storage situation today. In the United States, 97 percent of utility-scale storage in 2014 was in pumped-storage hydroelectric plants, according to research by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, in Tennessee.

In traditional pumped hydro, a dam separates a lower reservoir from an upper reservoir. When a utility company needs to store energy, the system pumps water from the bottom to the top. It generates electricity when water flows back down through a turbine. In 2015, Citibank estimated that the cost of power from pumped hydroelectric was about 5 percent of the cost of grid-scale battery-stored electricity. The problem is that there are many places that “consume high amounts of power but don’t have geological opportunities to build conventional pumped-storage plants,” says Jochen Bard, an energy processing technology manager at the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology (IWES), in Germany.

In 2017, a number of new pumped-hydro technologies should achieve milestones. They aim to bring the low cost of the technology to geographies that ordinarily wouldn’t allow it. Here are four you might hear about:


  • /image/Mjg1NzIyMg.jpeg
    Photo: Fraunhofer IWES Energy system technology

    The Concrete Bunker

    Stensea (Stored Energy in the Sea) is a hollow concrete sphere with a built-in pump turbine. It sits on the seafloor and, in its discharged state, is filled with water. To store energy, the system uses electricity to pump water out into the sea. When discharging, the pump works in reverse, generating electricity as water refills the sphere.

    In November, Fraunhofer IWES installed a 3-meter-wide pilot sphere in southern Germany’s Lake Konstanz at a depth of around 100 meters. It ran a successful four-week test of the system with full charging and discharging. Following a year-long feasibility study, the team is now developing the concept for a 5-megawatt, 20-megawatt-hour full-scale system. The spheres will have certain geographic needs: a water depth from 600 to 800 meters and a surface flat enough to prevent tilting. Potential sites for such a project include locations in the Mediterranean Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Norwegian trench.

  • /image/Mjg1NzIyMw.jpeg
    Photo: Hydrostor

    Compressed-Air Bags

    Hydrostor’s system consists of weighted-down balloonlike bags that are placed underwater and connected to a system on the shore. To store energy, it uses electricity to compress the air and fill the underwater bags. (A heat exchanger and underwater bath capture heat lost during compression to help preserve efficiency.) When electricity is needed, the air flows back out of the bag into a machine that expands it to drive a turbine. [See “Stashing Energy in Underwater Bags,” IEEE Spectrum, August 2014.]

    Hydrostor commissioned a 660-kilowatt pilot plant with undisclosed storage capacity in November 2015 at Toronto Island, and the company is currently optimizing the performance. It has proposed new projects in Canada, the United States, and Mexico. And it’s now constructing a 2-MW, 7-MWh facility in Goderich, Ontario, that uses underground salt caverns instead of bags, which could be followed by a 1-MW, 6-MWh storage system with bags in Aruba later this year.

  • img
    Photo: DNV GL

    Energy Island

    In DNV GL’s energy island concept, a dike encloses a 10- by 6-kilometer section of the North Sea off the Dutch coast [artist’s rendering, left]. To store electricity, the system pumps interior water up and out to sea. Letting water flow through a turbine on its way back generates electricity.

    Unlike with traditional pumped storage, the inner lake can be built out in the sea as long as the seafloor has a sufficiently large layer of clay to prevent the ocean from seeping back in. There would also be some trade-off between more energy storage gained from a deeper ocean and increased construction cost.

    For now, this energy island is only in the concept stage. DNV GL, based in Norway, is running a business case analysis with partners in the Netherlands and discussing plans to build a large-scale system. It hasn’t settled on a power rating or storage duration yet, but a small-scale prototype wouldn’t work for something like this, according to the company.

  • /image/Mjg1NzIyNQ.jpeg
    Photo-illustration: Naturspeicher

    Wind Turbines With Water Storage

    In a system by Naturspeicher and Max Bögl, wind turbines are built on the top of a hill with a pair of water storage reservoirs at their bases that raise them by an extra 40 meters above a typical turbine. A man-made lake sits at the bottom of the hill; energy is stored when the water is pumped up into the reservoirs, and electricity is produced when the water falls back down to the lake.

    Adding an extra 40 meters of height should boost generation about 25 percent, but it also requires weight balancing that would ordinarily be expensive. In this case, however, the company says, water in the reservoirs naturally balances the mechanical load on the cheap.

    The system “integrates harmoniously into the landscape without major disruption,” Naturspeicher says. It plans to have a wind farm on line by the end of 2017 in the hills of the Swabian-Franconian Forest, in Germany, with pumped storage following by late 2018. It expects the system, when completed, to store 70 MWh and deliver up to 16 MW.


Scotland Eyes 50 Percent Renewable Energy by 2030

Posted on January 31st, 2017 in environment by Spencer R.



The Scottish government has taken the first steps to heavily cutting the country’s reliance on North Sea oil and gas after calling for 50 percent of Scotland’s entire energy needs to come from renewables.

In a subtle but significant shift of emphasis for the Scottish National party after decades championing North Sea production, ministers unveiled a new energy strategy intended to push motorists, homeowners and businesses into using low- or zero-carbon green energy sources for half their energy needs by 2030.

Currently, 47 percent of Scotland’s total energy use comes from petroleum products largely extracted from Scotland’s North Sea oil platforms, and 27 percent from domestic and imported natural gas needed for home heating.

With opposition parties and environment groups expressing skepticism about a lack of detail in the new strategy, Scottish ministers privately admit cutting oil use is their biggest challenge in hitting far tougher targets unveiled last week to reduce Scotland’s total greenhouse gas emissions by 66 percent by 2032.

While North Sea oil and gas production is in decline as reserves run dry, the new strategy implies Scotland will need to accelerate its transition to a low-carbon economy faster than reserves run out to hit both targets.

Paul Wheelhouse, the Scottish energy minister, told MSPs last week that the new energy target was intended to directly support that climate target. Scottish renewables already supplied nearly 60 percent of Scotland’s domestic electricity use, Scottish islands were pioneering energy self-sufficiency, and community-owned renewable schemes now had an installed capacity of 595mw, he said.

Wheelhouse said: “We can all take pride in such successes, however, it is clear that more progress will be required – particularly in the supply of low-carbon heat and transport – if we are to remain on track to meet our ambitious climate change goals.”

It would put pressure on onshore windfarm operators to make their wind energy so cheap that it would not require a subsidy. Bus companies would be asked to invest in hydrogen-powered buses, and motorists expected to shift to electric cars.

Renewables industry sources say hitting that much higher target could be slower and harder than Wheelhouse admitted because the Scottish government is expected to miss its target of supplying 100 percent of Scotland’s domestic electricity needs from this source by 2020.

Industry analysts believe 87 percent will be renewable by 2020, in part because offshore wind power projects have been slower than expected. Wheelhouse pointed out, however, that the cost of offshore wind had fallen faster than expected, by 32 percent since 2012.

The draft energy strategy, released for public consultation on Tuesday, failed to deal with substantial questions about the costs of meeting the new target, sidestepped Scotland’s continuing use of nuclear energy and also the exact mix and quantity of green energy schemes now needed by 2030.

The paper also again sidestepped a decision on the future of fracking of Scotland’s large shale oil and gas reserves, with ministers are at odds over allowing it or banning it on climate and environmental grounds.

Environmentalists, opposition parties and SNP activists are putting the Scottish government under heavy pressure to convert an existing moratorium on fracking into a permanent ban.

Wheelhouse said ministers were taking an “evidence-based and measured approach” and would soon launch a new public consultation on whether to allow fracking.

And despite standing for election on strong anti-nuclear platforms, Scottish ministers have admitted they are content to see the life of Scotland’s two nuclear power stations at Hunterston and Torness to be extended further, beyond their current contracts that run until 2023 and 2030 respectively.

Nuclear power provided 35 percent of Scotland’s electricity in 2015. EDF, the French-owned utility that operates the two stations, is building up a technical case to win support from the UK’s nuclear regulator to extend both stations’ operating lives by several years each.

That strategy is supported by Scottish ministers. Wheelhouse’s energy paper had very little detail on what power sources would provide the remaining 50 percent of Scotland’s energy needs but it said “thermal energy” – power provided by conventional nuclear or gas-fired stations – would be a significant part of that.

While all opposition parties welcomed Wheelhouse’s overall 50 percent target, they were immensely critical about the lack of detail in the paper, particularly on the costs and funding of the strategy.

Jackie Baillie, Scottish Labour’s energy spokeswoman, said the SNP often set targets it failed to meet. “Scotland has previously been required to import energy from elsewhere in the UK, particularly baseload power from England,” she said. “Yet the SNP’s energy strategy provides little detail about how to keep the lights on.”

Mark Ruskell, a Scottish Green party MSP, said it remained unclear how the target for 80 percent of homes to use low-carbon heat by 2032 would be delivered, since the 2025 target was just 18 percent and current funding levels were inadequate.

“Warming our homes affordably and with low-carbon power is a priority but the Scottish government’s targets don’t make sense,” he said. “There’s too much trust in a technological miracle in the future and not enough action on fuel poverty today.”

Gina Hanrahan, the climate and energy policy officer at environmental group WWF Scotland, said the strategy “fails to put enough meat on the bones of the commitment to transform the energy efficiency of existing homes”. She added: “With 1.5m cold homes in Scotland, these proposals are too slow and underfunded.”


Argentina Declares 2017 Is “Renewable Energy Year”

Posted on January 31st, 2017 in environment by Spencer R.



Originally published on PlanetSave.

Argentina has declared 2017 as the ‘Renewable Energy Year’ as the South American country looks to increase awareness about the advantages of renewable energy and the important of sustainability.

A decree issued by the government calls for energy diversification through the use of renewable energy sources in the electricity generation as well as thermal energy sector. The decree states the country’s target of having a 20% share of renewable energy in electricity consumption by 2025.

The decree is in-line with Argentina’s adoption of the Paris climate change agreement which calls for comprehensive global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The government is expected to push the use of renewable energy technology this year.

The government has set a target to increase the share of renewable energy to 20% in the energy mix by 2025. Another target called for 8% renewable energy share in electricity consumption by 2017. As a result, several renewable energy auctions are expected to take place in the country over the next few years. The government is expected to auction 10 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2025.

In October of last year, the government allocated 1.1 gigawatts of renewable energy projects through a competitive auction. This included 400 megawatts of solar power capacity, and wind energy, bioenergy, and small hydro power projects were also allocated. The auction attracted bids for 6,366 megawatts of capacity.

An additional 516 megawatts of solar PV capacity was allocated in another auction in November 2016.



Videocon unveils Hybrid AC series running on solar energy, claiming 100% in power savings

Posted on January 27th, 2017 in solar by Spencer R.



Videocon has introduced a new range of Hybrid Solar air conditioners for homes and businesses that will be running on solar energy. The new ACs from the company will be able to run utilising sunlight as their power source. According to the company, the new Hybrid Solar AC will allow ‘100 per cent power savings’ in comparison to traditional air conditioners.

Videocon’s Solar Hybrid AC draws its power from its solar panels, which the company claims are designed to run efficiently in all climate conditions with minimal maintenance cost. The AC runs on direct solar power during day, but at night it is powered by the inverters battery which is replenished during the day. The solar panels of the AC come with a linear power output warranty of 25 years, along with 10 years of panel warranty.

Speaking at the launch, Sanjeev Bakshi, COO- AC Division, Videocon said, “The AC market is growing rapidly in the country driven by technology, infrastructural developments, and increase in the consumer’s spending. Videocon is the pioneer in bringing innovations in the AC segment, and it gives me immense pleasure that today we have launched the Solar Hybrid air conditioner. Provided with the most reliable solar panel that comes with 25 years’ of linear power output warranty and 10 years of panel warranty. The newly launched AC provides efficient cooling without any fluctuations with the least load on grid. We are expecting to sell 6.5 lakh units of air conditioners this year and plan to increase our market shar ein the AC segment to 13%.”

There are two models in the new Solar Hybrid AC range, with both models coming with a BEE star rating of five stars. The ACs are available across the 1 ton and 1.5 tons category. The ACs come with R-410A refrigerant and have features like auto restart, digital display, copper condenser, turbo cool mode and others.

Videocon’s 1 ton Hybrid Solar AC is priced at Rs 99,000; while the 1.5 tons model will be available at Rs 1,39,000. This pricing includes the cost of the unit, solar panels (with installation) and the DC-AC inverter.

Videocon aims at capturing 13 per cent of India’s AC market share by 2017, up front the present 9 per cent with the help of its new eco-friendly AC range.


Solar Employs More People In U.S. Electricity Generation Than Oil, Coal And Gas Combined

Posted on January 27th, 2017 in solar by Spencer R.



In the United States, more people were employed in solar power last year than in generating electricity through coal, gas and oil energy combined. According to a new report from the U.S. Department of Energy, solar power employed 43 percent of the Electric Power Generation sector's workforce in 2016, while fossil fuels combined accounted for just 22 percent. It's a welcome statistic for those seeking to refute Donald Trump's assertion that green energy projects are bad news for the American economy.

Just under 374,000 people were employed in solar energy, according to the report, while coal, gas and oil power generation combined had a workforce of slightly more than 187,000. The boom in the country's solar workforce can be attributed to construction work associated with expanding generation capacity. The gulf in employment is growing with net generation from coal falling 53 percent over the last decade. During the same period, electricity generation from natural gas increased 33 percent while solar expanded 5,000 percent.

Fuel production and electricity generation together directly employed 1.9 million workers last year, according to the report, with 55%, or 1.1 million, working with fossil fuels. The DoE identifies another 2.3 million jobs associated with energy transmission, distribution and storage.

Solar energy added 73,615 new jobs to the U.S. economy over the past year while wind added a further 24,650.


3 Predictions For Solar Energy in 2017

Posted on January 26th, 2017 in solar by Spencer R.



Non-hydropower renewables are estimated to grow to 9% of generation by 2018, according to the Department of Energy. So how big of a part will solar energy play in that total? The solar industry is coming off a record-breaking year, with an estimated 13.9 gigawatts (GW) of installed capacity in 2016, by both big business and private citizens.

Corporations installed nearly 1,100 MW of capacity at 2,000 different facilities across the country as of October 2016, and more than 1 million homeowners in the U.S. have chosen to install solar panels on their personal properties. Experts agree that solar power is finding its place in the U.S. energy marketplace, but what’s in store for this hot commodity in 2017? Here are some predictions for this year and what it means for solar power.

Cost of Solar Panels Will Continue to Drop

Solar panel technology has never been more affordable than it was last year, and it’s likely to continue to decline in price. The cost of manufacturing solar panels, and thus the cost to consumers, dropped by roughly 30 percent in 2016 and is even expected to become the cheapest form of new electricity for 2017. This will make solar energy a much more compelling and viable investment for all types of households. As the market become more competitive, homeowners can benefit even more by taking advantage of the best deals. By comparing several systems and installers at once with services like 123SolarPower, the homeowner gets the most suitable offer possible.

The decline in cost also applies to the corporate solar market. “Unsubsidized solar is beginning to out-compete coal and natural gas on a larger scale, and notably, new solar projects in emerging markets are costing less to build than wind projects,” according to data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. In the last decade solar installations have grown by 60 percent per year while the cost has fallen by more than 70 percent, says SEIA.

More Technologically Advanced Solar Panels

As with most new technologies, the look and functionality of solar panels continue to develop. Some of the latest types of panels look nothing like the original crystalline silicon cells strapped to people’s roofs. A new product launch by Sunflare brought us “sticky and flexible” solar panels. This new type of panel can be placed onto walls and roofs and does not use glass substrate like traditional panels. The company also boasts that the panel is more environmentally friendly, because it requires less energy to manufacture.

New panels are not only more functional but are also designed to be aesthetically pleasing. Due to criticism for the way solar panels look on top of homes, their appearance has undergone quite a makeover and will likely continue to change in 2017. For example, several manufactures are producing frameless solar modules to streamline the look, and last year, Tesla’s new roof panels blew innovation out of the water with its shingle designs that are practically indistinguishable from a traditional roof. This expansion of solar panel styles will be an additional benefit for homeowners who are looking for a smart investment that will also increase their property value.

Solar Energy Storage Will Become More Affordable

Experts predict that energy storage will become more affordable in 2017. The accessibility to storage devices is a critical piece of the puzzle for widespread renewable energy adoption. The technology of choice thus far has been battery energy storage, lithium-ion batteries to be exact. These types of batteries saw significant price declines in 2016 and can be used in a variety of applications, all of which will help foster solar power adoption this year. Similarly to the solar panels themselves, pricing is a major element in the position of energy storage.

The good news is, a report from Deutsche Bank projects the cost of lithium-ion batteries could fall by 20 to 30 percent a year, bringing commercial or utility-scale batteries to the point of mass adoption before 2020. The energy storage market is forecast to exceed the 2-gigawatt mark in 2021 and valued at almost $3 billion, reports GTM Research.

Several states have introduced policies and programs to support energy storage technology markets with the intent to promote emerging technologies. In 2010, California signed Bill 2514 into law, which adopted a 1.325 GW procurement target for electricity storage by 2020, with targets increasing every two years from 2016 to 2020. States like Florida, which have high exposure to natural disasters, are also recognizing the role that energy storage can play in disaster planning. 115 emergency shelters in the state have installed PV systems with battery storage, which will most likely continue to spread.

The coming year should prove to be another record-breaking one for solar power with the advancement of technologies, making it more affordable and accessible for both commercial and residential uses. If you’d like to see how much it would cost to install solar panels on your home, visit a solar panel marketplace.


Solar Grows To 2 GW In The Garden State

Posted on January 20th, 2017 in solar by Spencer R.



 The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) has announced that New Jersey’s solar industry has hit a significant milestone by surpassing 2 GW of installed solar energy capacity.

As detailed in the newly released New Jersey Solar Installation Report, New Jersey reached over 2 GW of solar capacity installed statewide through nearly 66,000 solar projects as of Dec. 31, 2016. In a press release, the BPU says 2016’s installed capacity of 353 MW ranks as New Jersey’s second-highest year, behind only that of 2012, which had 417 MW of installed capacity.

Notably, the New Jersey report shows that of the approximate 66,000 solar installations across the Garden State, the vast majority of them, totaling more than 1.5 GW, are behind the meter; meanwhile, only about 150 projects, totaling less than 480 MW, are not. The BPU says there are over 60,000 residential, 3,800 commercial, 550 school, and 280 government projects constructed in places such as rooftops, carports, landfills and brownfields. The report also shows that, as of Dec. 31, 2016, New Jersey has a solar project pipeline totaling over 440 MW of proposed capacity.

The BPU, whose commissioners are appointed by the governor, notes that 94% of all installed solar capacity in New Jersey has been installed during the Christie administration. Since Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., took office in January 2010, growth in the development of solar capacity in New Jersey has skyrocketed by almost 1.88 GW, a rate of growth of approximately 1,477% over just seven years, the agency says.

In July 2012, Christie enacted bipartisan legislation that coupled acceleration of the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) for solar energy with a reduction of the solar alternate compliance payment levels, according to the BPU. The agency says the Solar Act has and will continue to help New Jersey’s solar industry meet an important goal of Christie’s 2011 Energy Master Plan, strengthening the state’s solar market and securing the state’s place as a national leader in renewable energy. The agency says New Jersey is on target to exceed its 22.5% RPS by 2021, as outlined in the 2011 Energy Master Plan.

Although New Jersey’s solar renewable energy certificate (SREC) program has had its challenges, the BPU says the state’s SREC market is robust and mature, thus enabling a variety of ownership models and types of contracts that make project financing possible for solar developers.

The BPU also rightfully points out that the 2 GW solar milestone is an achievement previously reached by only a handful of  much larger states; according to the Solar Energy Industries Association’s latest market report, California, North Carolina and Arizona were the only three states to have over 2 GW of cumulative solar capacity by the end of the third quarter of 2016. (The organization has not released its fourth-quarter figures yet.)

“We are proud that the Christie Administration’s commitment to renewable solar energy has led to the achievement of surpassing the 2 GW milestone,” says Richard S. Mroz, president of the BPU, in the press release. He later adds, “We are ensuring a future where distributed solar energy generation remains an important part of New Jersey’s energy future.”

In addition to the environmental benefits offered by renewable generation, the BPU says, solar connected to the distribution system provides benefits such as generating electricity where it’s needed and consumed; lowering capacity and congestion prices for delivery of electricity for all ratepayers; and lowering energy cost for residents, businesses, towns and school districts that have solar arrays.


Solar Energy Entrepreneurs In India Are Finding Faster, Cleaner and Economical Route to Power

Posted on January 20th, 2017 in solar by Spencer R.



Access to power in India is not a given. Mera Gao Power (MGP), however, is able to offer customers two solar powered lamps and a mobile phone charger for less than a dollar per week, powered by renewable energy sources as opposed to kerosene. 

“People are concerned not about the emissions from a coal power plant but the emissions from kerosene lanterns in their homes. What really helps them is that the lights we provide are brighter, they can charge their phones in their homes, and save money,” says Nikhil Jaisinghani, who co-founded of Mera Gao Power (MGP) with Brian Shaad in 2010.

Jaisinghani is among the generation of solar energy entrepreneurs is finding faster, cleaner and more economical route to universal access to power. The idea behind such enterprises is to create a business model that will help millions in India to leapfrog the coal-dependent grid straight to renewable energy sources.


As the third-largest emitter of greenhouses gases and its economic progress intertwined with the energy sector, increasing renewable energy is vital to India’s sustainable growth story. Simultaneously, lighting up homes of over 300 million people living in total blackout is important as well.

To this end, India has invested more than $14 billion in generating 40 gigawatts of clean energy, and aims to exceed the renewable energy targets, set in Paris in 2015, by nearly three years ahead of schedule. It plans to have 57 % of its total electricity capacity from non-fossil fuel sources by 2027. The Paris climate accord target was 40% by 2030.

Winner of Solar For All 2016, a contest for innovative community solar electrification solutions organized by a German foundation, MGP has been providing night-time lighting to over 150,000 people in 1,500 off-the-grid villages in northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. MGP’s single micro-grid, costing nearly $900, serves 30 households. This social enterprise is funded by USAID and French electric utility Engie.

While MGP brings light into people’s lives, Prema Gopalan and Ajaita Shah are training women to be clean energy leaders.

Working in remote villages in the states of Maharashtra and Bihar, Gopalan, co-founder of social enterprise Swayam Shikshan Prayog (SSP), through wPOWER project has built a rural distribution network of 1,100 women entrepreneurs, called sakhis (Hindi for “girlfriends”).

SSP, winner of the UN Climate Award 2016, has teamed these women up with local manufacturers of solar lanterns and smokeless cookstoves. In turn, these women support rural communities to adopt clean energy products and services. “Our Sakhis have reached over 1 million people in Maharashtra and Bihar, They are not only ‘last mile’ distributors but also future leaders of clean energy,” says Gopalan. 
To facilitate peer learning and knowledge exchange, SSP has leveraged the women network to create a clean energy hub in Latur, Maharashtra.

Similarly, in sun-drenched Rajasthan, Shah, through her solar firm Frontier Markets (FM), tackles the everyday struggle of unreliable electricity and hazardous cooking practices of rural households. She trains locals to sell and service affordable solar energy products, turning the poorest of the poor into clean energy entrepreneurs. 
“Our target is to reach more than 400 million households,” says Shah. “Since 2011, FM has sold over 100,000 zero-carbon lighting units, created 500 retail points and 200 women entrepreneurs. 

FM also trains women to sell solar solutions to other women. “The initiative aims to give them the opportunity to be clean energy leaders, and earn extra money for their families,” adds Shah.

By 2035, oil company BP estimates that India’s energy demand will grow 121%. In such a scenario, it is important for India not just to hit its renewable energy target, but to integrate efficiency and maximize benefits. Filling this gap is Siddharth Malik of Megawatt Solutions (MS), and the firm provides concentrated solar-thermal (CST) solutions to manufacturing companies in and around Delhi.

His experience in Con Edison in New York and energy project finance in the U.S., he says, made him realize the “huge energy gap” between the goals set for carbon emission reduction and how energy is consumed in India. CST technology, Malik claims, can reduce up to 50% fossil fuel consumed in industrial heating, and allow conventional solar systems to generate up to 30% higher output by use of solar tracker systems.


Florida Power & Light opens three new solar energy centers

Posted on January 19th, 2017 in solar by Spencer R.



Florida Power & Light Co. plans to build on the successful completion of its latest solar energy centers with even more solar in 2017.

FPL officially connected three new 74.5 MW universal solar power plants to the energy grid that serves its customers on Dec. 31, 2016. In 2017, FPL plans to build four more universal solar power plants and also install several solar power systems in local communities.

The newly completed solar plants — the FPL Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center, the FPL Citrus Solar Energy Center and the FPL Manatee Solar Energy Center — were all built on time, under budget and cost-effectively, meaning there will be no net cost to customers after savings from fuel and other generation-related expenses.

FPL has been working for many years to be prepared to add substantial solar capacity affordably for its customers, developing plans and securing sites for cost-effective installations.

In 2017, FPL plans to build four more 74.5 MW solar energy centers across the state, including sites in Alachua, Putnam and DeSoto counties that have received local approvals. Construction is expected to begin as early as the first quarter of 2017. Additional large-scale solar facilities are also in development and may be announced in the coming months.

"Clean energy helps drive economic growth in our state," said Brian Bergen, vice president of economic development for the Putnam County Chamber of Commerce. "FPL's solar energy center will provide a boost to our local economy and the solar power it generates will be a draw for companies that value clean affordable energy."

FPL's solar expansion plays a role in its strategy of making smart investments that generate affordable clean energy for customers. The company's approach to clean, fuel-efficient generation, which includes phasing out coal-fired and oil-burning power plants, has saved FPL customers more than $8 billion in fuel costs and prevented 95 million tons of carbon emissions since 2001.


Geothermal energy from old mines could heat Llynfi Valley homes

Posted on January 19th, 2017 in environment by Spencer R.



Llynfi Valley residents are being invited to find out more about an exciting project which is investigating whether heat could be taken from underground mine water to provide energy for nearly 1,000 homes.

The plan is being developed by Bridgend County Borough Council (BCBC), and two public exhibitions will be held next month.

Former mine workings in the valley may potentially offer a geo-thermal source of energy as they have filled up with water which has an average temperature of around 10 to 14 degrees Celsius.

The idea is to pump the water from the old disused mine workings and transport it through a network of pipes to residents’ properties in Caerau where the heat will be extracted and passed through a heat pump, which will then provide heat for the property using its existing radiator system. The mine water would not, at any point, enter the homes of residents.

The following public exhibitions have been arranged, and local people are invited to drop in at any time to find out more:


Monday, February 13: Noddfa Chapel Community Centre, Caerau Road, Maesteg, (CF34 0PG), 3pm–8pm; Wednesday, February 15: Caerau Development Trust, Woodland Terrace, Maesteg (CF34 0SR), 11am–4pm.

Coun Ceri Reeves, the council’s cabinet member for communities, said: “I am pleased to see that this innovative project is progressing and that Caerau residents will soon be able to learn more about this exciting cutting edge opportunity to develop alternative heat.

“The council has commissioned a detailed ground condition survey to ascertain whether the water held in the mine workings under Caerau provides a natural heat source which could provide safe, continuous, and cost effective heat for a large number of local homes.

“I am watching the development of this renewable energy project with great interest as its potential to make a positive impact in the Llynfi Valley is huge.”

In March 2016, BCBC was one of 24 local authorities – and the only one in Wales – to share a grant of £1.5m from the Department of Energy and Climate Change for the development of new low carbon heat networks.

Heat networks are believed to have the potential to supply heat for between 14 per cent and 43 per cent of UK buildings by 2050. The Department of Energy and Climate Change has been providing grant funding and expert guidance to support 190 heat network projects since 2013.

Coun Reeves added: “We’re proud to be among those testing the large scale viability of using these low carbon heat sources and developing a model that could be rolled out in the rest of the UK.”

As well as being invited to attend the public exhibitions, Caerau residents can also express an interest in helping to develop the project by getting involved with important research activities such as testing new technologies in their homes, and taking part in detailed energy assessments.

If you would be interested in getting involved, contact BCBC’s Sustainable Development Team on 01656 643133 and ask to speak to Ceri Williams or Michael Jenkins.

Residents who take part will be offered financial reimbursement for their time and to cover any increased fuel costs. Anyone who lives in a rented property will need permission from their landlord.