Middle-Class Families Are Set To Receive Solar Panels With No Upfront Costs In The U.S.

Posted on January 21st, 2017 in solar by Spencer R.

homes_power

 

 

The U.S. is the best country in the world if you want to go solar – but only if you’re rich enough. Due to the steep upfront costs of around $32,000 in cash, only those upper-income families can afford to install solar arrays. A novel initiative is, however, looking to change that. This new project hopes to help middle class communities see the sun in a different light.

Using money raised by U.S. government incentives and private investors to help fight global warming, the Alternative Energy Solar Project goal is to get solar panels on the roofs of those who cannot afford them. According to recent news, the plan is to use the rebates set aside for solar and the money raised by companies who want to lower the per ton of carbon dioxide emitted.

The cost for the installation to the families: nothing. The homeowner gets solar panels on their roof and a new reduced electric rate from the power produced by the solar panels. Alternative Energy Solar Project predicts that it could save individual families up to $2,400 a year, which they hope could then be spent on other essential bills.

Alternative Energy Solar Project has been made promotional manager over the Solar Affordable Verified Establishment  (S.A.V.E.) project, one of the country’s first dedicated solar repayment system for middle class families. The goal is to install solar arrays to over 32,000 homes by the end of next year. One of the benefits to this reduced electric rate program is the homeowner isn’t responsible for the installation costs, maintenance costs, or upkeep costs as they are not the owners of the panels. Additionally, if you are interested in owning the panels, there are programs where the homeowner can purchase the panels with no money out of pocket and own them outright.

The United States government has talked about how they can contribute through raising money to be able to provide more rebates. In the attempt to curb greenhouse gas emissions, and move toward installing solar arrays. In total, the solar program has totted up to an impressive movement.

By ploughing at least 30% of the money from government incentives and using private investors to back the solar installation, the project aims to kill two birds with one stone – saving Middle-Class families money, while also making big fossil fuel polluting companies help to cut energy emissions in the country even further.

Anyone who is currently living in a neighborhood in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and Utah and is classed as middle-class is qualified to apply to get the arrays installed. More states are being added monthly so apply to see if your state has joined the program. The sun sets on the initiative as the year ends in 2017, so if you’re living in one of these states, you might want to jump on board soon.

Alternative Energy Solar Project invites everyone to find out if they qualify by signing up for a free visit. To increase the ease of finding out if you’re in the middle-class and qualified they specifically created a new website solarvisit.com. They hope that the funding put towards this new site will be well spent, if they can get interested homeowners reaching out to them, they estimate that they’ll be able hit their goal of 320,000 homes by the end of the year 2017.

Read more...

Solar Grows To 2 GW In The Garden State

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

homes_power

(forbes.com)

 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.

Read more...

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

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

homes_power

(www.forbes.com)

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.

Read more...

Florida Power & Light opens three new solar energy centers

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

homes_power

(www.elp.com)

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.

Read more...

India Launches Online Training Course On Solar Energy Which Costs Just $8.79!

Posted on January 16th, 2017 in solar by Spencer R.

homes_power

(www.cleantechnica.com)

India is preparing to have a huge army of skilled professionals ready to service the rapidly growing solar power market.

The Indian government has announced the launch of an online training program to help young individuals turn into professional solar power technicians. The Solar Energy Corporation of India recently reported that a Chennai-based company has been roped-in to implement this online program.

For just INR 599 ($8.79), anyone with an internet connection can enroll in this online program and learn the various aspects related to solar power generation. Among the various topics that will be covered in the course are the basics of photovoltaic power systems, electromagnetic spectrum and radiation, designing solar power systems, testing and commissioning of solar power plants, and operation and maintenance.

Successful candidates shall be issued a certificate from the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy, Government of India, which would open up vast opportunities for them. The program is likely a part of the Skilled India mission announced by Prime Minister Modi that aims at creating millions of jobs in the country.

The renewable energy secto, especially solar power, presents a massive jobs creation opportunity for India’s youth. The government has announced plans to have 175 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity operational by March 2022 which includes 100 gigawatts of solar power capacity. At the end of the November 2016, the renewable energy capacity stood at less than 47 gigawatts, with solar power capacity at just below 9 gigawatts.

According to a report issued by the Natural Resources and Defense Council (NRDC) last year, India may end up creating over a million new jobs in its endeavor to have 100 GW of operational solar power capacity by March 2022.

Around 210,800 site engineers and designers would be required to set the large-scale as well as rooftop solar power systems rolling. Around 624,600 semi-skilled workers would be needed for the construction and on-field execution of the projects. To monitor ongoing operations at the power plants, and their maintenance, another 182,400 semi-skilled workers would be needed. Thus, a total of 1,017,800 jobs are expected be created if India indeed manages to set up a cumulative operational capacity of 100 gigawatts by 2022.

Read more...

Storing thermal solar energy from summer to winter

Posted on January 12th, 2017 in solar by Spencer R.

homes_power

(phys.org)

Can thermal solar energy be stored until wintertime? Within a European research consortium Empa scientists and their colleagues have spent four years studying this question by pitting three different techniques against each other.

We are still a far cry from a sustainable energy supply: in 2014, 71 percent of all privately-owned apartments and houses in Switzerland were heated with fossil fuels, and 60 percent of the hot water consumed in private households is generated in this way. In other words, a considerable amount of fossil energy could be saved if we were able to store  from sunny summer days until wintertime and retrieve it at the flick of a switch. Is there a way to do this? It certainly looks like it. Since autumn of 2016, following several years of research, Empa has a plant on a lab scale in operation that works reliably and is able to store heat in the long term. But the road to get there was long and winding.

The theory behind this kind of heat storage is fairly straightforward: if you pour water into a beaker containing solid or concentrated sodium hydroxide (NaOH), the mixture heats up. The dilution is exothermic: chemical energy is released in the form of heat. Moreover, sodium hydroxide solution is highly hygroscopic and able to absorb . The condensation heat obtained as a result warms up the sodium hydroxide solution even more.

Summer heat in a storage tank

The other way round is also possible: if we feed energy into a dilute sodium hydroxide solution in the form of heat, the water evaporates; the sodium hydroxide solution will get more concentrated and thus stores the supplied energy. This solution can be kept for months and even years, or transported in tanks. If it comes into contact with water (vapor) again, the stored heat is re-released.

So much for the theory, anyway. But could the beaker experiment be replicated on a scale capable of storing enough energy for a single-family household? Empa researchers Robert Weber and Benjamin Fumey rolled up their sleeves and got down to work. They used an insulated sea container as an experimental laboratory on Empa's campus in Dübendorf – a safety precaution as concentrated sodium hydroxide solution is highly corrosive. If the system were to spring a leak, it would be preferable for the aggressive liquid to slosh through the container instead of Empa's laboratory building.

Unfortunately, the so-called COMTES prototype didn't work as anticipated. The researchers had opted for a falling film evaporator – a system used in the food industry to condense orange juice into a concentrate, for instance. Instead of flowing correctly around the , however, the thick sodium hydroxide solution formed large drops. It absorbed too little water vapor and the amount of heat that was transferred remained too low.

Then Fumey had a brainwave: the viscous storage medium should trickle along a pipe in a spiral, absorb water vapor on the way and transfer the generated heat to the pipe. The reverse – charging the medium – should also be possible using the same technique, only the other way round. It worked. And the best thing about it: spiral-shaped heat exchangers are already available ex stock – heat exchangers from flow water heaters.

Fumey then optimized the lab system further: which fluctuations in NaOH concentration are optimal for efficiency? Which temperatures should the inflowing and outflowing water have? Water vapor at a temperature of five to ten degrees is required to drain the store. This water vapor can be produced with heat from a geothermal probe, for instance. In the process, 50-percent sodium hydroxide solution runs down the outside of the spiral heat exchanger pipe and is thinned to 30 percent in the steam atmosphere. The water inside the pipe heats up to around 50 degrees Celsius – which makes it just the ticket for floor heating.

"Charged" sodium hydroxide

While replenishing the store, the 30-percent, "discharged" sodium hydroxide solution trickles downwards around the spiral pipe. Inside the pipe flows 60-degree hot water, which can be produced by a solar collector, for instance. The water from the sodium hydroxide solution evaporates; the water vapor is removed and condensed. The condensation heat is conducted into a geothermal probe, where it is stored. The sodium hydroxide solution that leaves the heat exchanger after charging is concentrated to 50 percent again, i.e. "charged" with thermal energy.

"This method enables solar energy to be stored in the form of chemical energy from the summer until the wintertime," says Fumey. "And that's not all: the stored heat can also be transported elsewhere in the form of concentrated sodium hydroxide solution, which makes it flexible to use." The search for industrial partners to help build a compact household system on the basis of the Empa lab model has now begun. The next prototype of the  storage system could then be used in NEST, for example.

 

Read more...

Nigerian community benefit from solar energy to rebuild homes after Boko Haram attacks

Posted on January 12th, 2017 in solar by Spencer R.

homes_power

(www.africanews.com)

Vandalized houses in Gahara Mojiri, a village in Nigeria’s northeastern Adamawa state, bear the hallmarks of militant Islamist group Boko Haram.

 

The houses were destroyed by the militants who raided people’s homes and meted out attacks on residents in early 2015.

Many of those who fled the violence have since returned home since the militants lost most of the territories they took over from the Nigerian army.

Residents are now able to access clean water using solar powered water pumps and street lighting to help improve on security.

In an effort to help residents rebuild, the Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) introduced solar panels in the village located in the Hong Local government area.

“Before the solar, we used to fetch water in the stream but since the solar comes we stop going to the stream because the solar gives us water so much,” said Gahara Mojiri, Jacob Musa

“All the people of this community are benefiting from this borehole. One of the boreholes has stopped functioning properly, but we are hoping it will be fixed in time,” added another Gahara Mojiri resident,” Abraham Bulgumi.

Tapping renewable energy is helping tackle persistent energy shortages in the region as people work to develop themselves.

The solar panels have been set up in 8 villages, benefiting over 13,000 people. Residents are also now able to charge their mobile phones as well as use clean energy to light up their homes.

At the nearby Garaha Health centre, patients can access vaccines that were not available to them a few years ago. Joel Markus is the facility manager at Mojili Health Centre.

“There is even so many cases of hepatitis in this community now and the problem is because they did not have the vaccine earlier, so that is the cause of the problem they are having. But now since we have the vaccine, I believe the cases going to be less,” ha said.

Though Nigeria’s army has pushed the Islamist group back to its base, the militants still stage suicide bombings.
In recent years Boko Haram’s attacks have spilled into neighbouring Niger, Cameroon and Chad.

Read more...

Solar energy powers an entire island in American Samoa thanks to Tesla, SolarCity

Posted on January 11th, 2017 in solar by Spencer R.

homes_power

(www.accuweather.com)

Located over 4,000 miles from the west coast of the United States in the South Pacific Ocean, the island of Ta’u in American Samoa is powered almost entirely by the sun.

The island previously relied on diesel generators for power, but thanks to government funding and contributions from SolarCity and Tesla, the remote island operates on solar power, a cleaner and more cost-effective energy source.

Back in November, SolarCity announced in a blog post that a microgrid of 5,300 solar panels and over 60 battery packs had been completed on the island within a year’s time. The solar panels can generate 1.4 megawatts of energy, while Tesla Powerpacks provide 6 megawatt hours of battery storage. 

Unlike with diesel generators, which can lose power when powerful storms hammer the island, Ta'u's microgrid is able to store energy for several days, which is a huge benefit to the island of nearly 600 people.

Located in the South Pacific, American Samoa will get the occasional encounter from a tropical cyclone. Most recently, Tropical Cyclone Tuni hit the island chain in November 2015, causing significant property and crop damage.

American Samoa has a wet, tropical climate, with over 120 inches of rain falling per year, said AccuWeather Meteorologist Jim Andrews.

However, while solar panels are most effective in direct sunlight, they can still function when it's cloudy. Rain can be beneficial in that it helps keep panels operating efficiently by washing away dirt or dust, the Solar Energy Industries Association states.

The region still gets plenty of sunshine. Island resident Keith Ahsoon, whose family owns several stores on the island, told SolarCity that "it's always sunny out here" and being able to retain the sun's energy and not lose power will allow him to sleep "a lot more comfortably at night."

The Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Interior and American Samoa Power Authority, which operates the system, funded the project. The island was chosen as part of an initiative by the Manu'a islands, which include Ta'u, to become fully free of fossil fuel-generated electricity. 

According to SolarCity, the project will offset the use of more than 109,500 gallons of diesel per year.

Ahsoon has seen the effects of climate change firsthand and said this endeavor will help lessen the carbon footprint around the world.

"Beach erosions and other noticeable changes are a part of life here. It’s a serious problem, and this project will hopefully set a good example for everyone else to follow,” said Ahsoon.

Read more...

The world’s first solar panel-paved road has opened in France

Posted on January 9th, 2017 in solar by Spencer R.

homes_power

(www.qz.com)

At this rate, just about every man-made surface there is could be covered in solar panels in the future.

Yesterday, Tourouvre-au-Perche, a small town in northern France, opened what is likely the first road paved in solar panels in the world, the Guardian reported. The road is roughly 1 km (0.6 miles) long, with one lane covered entirely in a patchwork of small solar cells that look rather like bathroom tiles, or a very dirty version of the road in the Wizard of Oz.

The panels are coated in a special silicon film that helps protect them from the weight of trucks. The road will likely see around 2,000 vehicles a day, passing through the town of roughly 3,400 residents.

The road was opened by France’s environment minister and former presidential candidate Ségolène Royal, who said that she would like to see the solar panel-paving installed on thousands of kilometers of French roadways. As the Guardian points out, this part of France, Normandy, isn’t exactly known for its sunny weather, receiving around 44 days of good sunshine a year on average. Royal and the French company behind the road, Wattway, are hoping to see over the next two years whether the road can generate enough electricity to power the town.

It’s the not the first paved solar-panel project in the world—that honor went to Dutch company SolaRoad in 2014 with its solar-powered bike path—but it’s possible that this road will suffer the same issues. SolaRoad’s bike path can generate roughly 3,000 kilowatt-hours of power, but the estimated cost of building it was equivalent to paying for 520,000 kilowatt-hours’ worth of power.

France’s project was not cheap: The short stretch of roadway cost about €5 million ($5.2 million) to build. It may not prove to be the most cost-effective use of capital either. Solar panels are more efficient when they are tilted at an angle toward the Sun, rather than flat to the ground, and the road’s construction cost may well be greater than the amount of energy it can produce. “We have to look at the cost, the production [of electricity] and its lifespan,” Jean-Louis Bal, the president of the French renewable energy union SER, told the Guardian. “For now I don’t have the answers.”

Wattway aims to lower the cost of installing paneled roads as it builds more of them, and although the cost-effectiveness is in question now, it’s a novel use of otherwise wasted space. Many buildings around the world are covering their roofs with solar panels, in an effort to cut down on energy costs: Apple’s new campus is awash in solar paneling, and is aiming to be a nearly self-sufficient building, and Elon Musk’s Tesla plans to bring shingle-shaped solar panels to homes around the world in the near future. Solar panels also grace trash cans, tentsand planes, so perhaps it won’t be that long before they’re ubiquitous enough on our infrastructure to drive costs further down.

Read more...

Solar panel researchers investigate powering trains by bypassing grid

Posted on January 9th, 2017 in solar by Spencer R.

homes_power

(www.theguardian.com)

Imperial College London has partnered with the climate change charity 10:10 to investigate the use of track-side solar panels to power trains, the two organisations announced yesterday.

The renewable traction power project will see university researchers look at connecting solar panels directly to the lines that provide power to trains, a move that would bypass the electricity grid in order to more efficiently manage power demand from trains.

According to the university, the research team will be the first in the world to test the “completely unique” idea, which it said would have a “wide impact with commercial applications on electrified rail networks all over the world”.

“It would also open up thousands of new sites to small- and medium-scale renewable developments by removing the need to connect to the grid,” Imperial College London said in a statement.

Network Rail is currently investing billions in electrifying the UK’s railways in a bid to reduce the number of trains running on diesel fuel, curbing costs, air pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions in the process.

Combining this effort with increased renewable energy generation in the UK could significantly decarbonise train lines by 2050, according to 10:10, but in many rural areas the electricity grid has reached its limit for both integrating distributed energy generation and supplying power to train firms.

“What is particularly galling is that peak generation from solar and peak demand from the trains more or less match but we can’t connect the two,” explained 10:10’s Leo Murray, who is leading the project. “I actually believe this represents a real opportunity for some innovative thinking.”

Initially the project will look at the feasibility of converting “third rail systems” which supply electricity through a power line running close to the ground and are used on roughly one third of the UK’s tracks.

“Many railway lines run through areas with great potential for solar power but where existing electricity networks are hard to access,” explained Prof Tim Green, director of Energy Futures Lab at Imperial College London.

The university will collaborate on the technical aspects of the project with Turbo Power Systems – a firm that works on distribution and management of power in the railway sector – while 10:10 is leading on research looking at the size of the long-term power purchase agreement (PPA) market for directly connecting renewables to transport systems.

“I don’t think you get a better fit for PPA than a train line,” added Murray. “A rural train line even more so, the project would open up many investment opportunities across the country and further afield.”

The news comes as it emerged that every one of the Dutch state-owned railway company NS’s passenger trains are now being powered entirely by wind energy.

As of 1 January 2017 all trips taken by the estimated 600,000 people who ride NS trains everyday are being powered by wind energy.

Having teamed up with the energy firm Eneco in 2015 with the aim of reducing its emissions, NS has now reached its target of switching the sources of power for its trains to 100% renewables one year ahead of schedule, with the firm originally setting a target date of 2018 for the milestone.

Read more...