See How Far We’ve Come

Modern civilisation has brought us electricity, electronic games, electronic music and the future looks very bright with solar electricity.

Look how far we’ve come !

http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/10/05/first-large-scale-solar-energy-plants-public-lands

“The White House Blog : The First Large-Scale Solar Energy Plants on Public Lands : Posted by Secretary Ken Salazar on October 05, 2010 : Today, we took a big step on our nation’s path to clean energy future with the approval of the first large-scale solar energy plants ever to be built on public lands. The Tessera Solar Imperial Valley Solar Project and the Chevron Energy Solutions Lucerne Valley Solar Project will both be built in the sunny California desert. Together, the projects could produce up to 754 megawatts of renewable energy, power 226,000 – 566,000 American homes, and support almost 1,000 new jobs. These two projects reflect the priority President Obama has placed on growing America’s clean energy economy. From spurring the deployment of energy-saving windows and advanced batteries for cars to installing solar panels on the White House roof, the Administration is incentivizing and promoting clean energy technology on a historic scale. At the Department of the Interior, we have a special responsibility to help lead this effort. As stewards of our nation’s public lands, we oversee deserts, plains, and oceans that can make significant contributions to our nation’s renewable energy portfolio…”

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iMUnrmqM-z3tMC3a3JZRFIqrJKHQD9ILFH9G1?docId=D9ILFH9G1

“Here comes the sun: White House to go solar : By DINA CAPPIELLO : 05 October 2010 : WASHINGTON — Solar power is coming to President Barack Obama’s house. : The most famous residence in America, which has already boosted its green credentials by planting a garden, plans to install solar panels atop the White House’s living quarters. The solar panels are to be installed by spring 2011, and will heat water for the first family and supply some electricity. The plans will be formally announced later Tuesday by White House Council on Environmental Quality Chairwoman Nancy Sutley and Energy Secretary Steven Chu. Former Presidents Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush both tapped the sun during their days in the White House. Carter in the late 1970s spent $30,000 on a solar water-heating system for West Wing offices. Bush’s solar systems powered a maintenance building and some of the mansion, and heated water for the pool. Obama, who has championed renewable energy, has been under increasing pressure to lead by example by installing solar at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, something White House officials said has been under consideration since he first took office. The decision perhaps has more import now after legislation to reduce global warming pollution died in the Senate, despite the White House’s support. Obama has vowed to try again on a smaller scale…”

http://news.thomasnet.com/companystory/Solar-System-tops-off-efficient-NREL-building-584926

“Solar System tops off efficient NREL building : October 4, 2010 – Solar panels are being installed on roof of Research Support Facility to help building generate as much electricity as it uses. While RSF adds 222,000 square feet of office space to NREL campus, building’s energy use only increases NREL’s overall consumption by 6%. The 1.6 MW photovoltaic system comprises more than 1,800 panels soaking in 240 W of sun each. Additional PV will be installed on RSF expansion and on nearby garage and parking lot to help zero out energy equation.”

http://content.usatoday.com/communities/greenhouse/post/2010/10/white-house-solar-panels/1

“Obama will soon put solar panels atop the White House”

http://www.solarpowerinternational.com/sepa2010/public/Content.aspx?ID=603&sortMenu=104000&MainMenuID=603

“SOLAR POWER INTERNATIONAL, 12 – 14 October 2010, Los Angeles, California, USA”

http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2010/10/germany-adds-nearly-1-of-electricity-supply-with-solar-in-eight-months

“Germany Adds Nearly 1% of Electricity Supply with Solar in Eight Months : by Paul Gipe, Contributor : Published: 04 October 2010…”

http://power-shift.org/solar-panel-mirror-booster-30-increase-in-power-output-with-mirrors
http://www.solarbuzz.com/fastfactsindustry.htm

Continue reading See How Far We’ve Come

FIT for Purpose

Image Credit : Marrickville Greens

Everywhere in the world that Renewable Energy subsidies, grants or guaranteed unit price contracts have been set, there has been a gradual, or sometimes even rapid, development of new Renewable Energy assets. Which seems like quite a good reason for the State to partly finance the development of Renewable Energy systems, if you take the long view. (Note : I’m using the word “asset” in its proper, original sense here – something that has value long after it has been created, and long after it has been paid for.)

By the end of the lifetime of German roof-top solar panels, or British wind turbines, the economic signal to assist the deployment of these technologies will have long since vapourised, leaving behind a functioning electricity supply that runs without the use of expensive fuel and doesn’t run the risk of major failures and huge drops in power output – unlike large centralised power stations.

The need to invest in long-term non-fuel widely-distrubuted generation assets plugged into the electricity network is essential for its future stability – the more reliable Renewable resources of all scales the National Grid can call on, the cheaper it will be to guarantee a solid supply for all.

The large energy companies most likely consider investment in small- and medium-scale Renewable Energy by individuals and communities as a threat to their monopoly on electrical generation. And so they should. It is time for big changes in the way energy is supplied and managed in this country.

New, large, centralised power plants that the large energy companies want to build will cost their customers dearly in the form of higher energy prices – and there have been continual battles over the planning for and the financing of large new energy plants.

This is why the Feed-in Tariff (FIT) scheme in the UK is so important to keep – a stimulus to create small-scale Low Carbon power resources that will still have value in 20 or even 30 years time with very low maintenance schedules.

The threshold level of the economic stimulus for small-scale Renewables is comparatively low when compared to other forms of investment. The incentive scheme to install principally solar resources can work with funds much lower than those required to underwrite a new fleet of Nuclear Power stations, for example, and yet create a resource that could rival the new reactors without all that cost of nasty radioactive clean-up at the end of a nuke plant’s life.

But, being Great Britain, the Government have had their heads turned by the large energy companies yet again, it seems, as there are rumours that the FIT will be scrapped :-

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/339acf30-c757-11df-aeb1-00144feab49a.html

“Solar power subsidy under review : By Fiona Harvey, Environment Correspondents : Published: September 23 2010 : The recent mini-boom in solar power could be in jeopardy, as the government has privately indicated that new feed-in tariffs that have fuelled the industry could be slashed. If such cuts are adopted, renewable energy experts fear that it will scare off investors – with repercussions throughout the industry. “To change the subsidy system just when you can see the success it has had beggars belief,” said one. “Renewable energy investors . . . will lose faith in this government.” Industry insiders also accused the government of hypocrisy. They say that while Chris Huhne, the energy and climate change secretary, was promising the Liberal Democrat conference 250,000 green jobs as part of a “revolutionary” deal to cut emissions, government advisers were holding meetings in back rooms at which they flagged up potential cuts to the feed-in tariffs (FITs)…”

Don’t blame me or anybody in the Green Party or Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth or a number of other Non-Governmental Organisations or independents if in 15 years time there is still not a significant Renewable Energy resource in the United Kingdom. We have expended a lot of personal energy calling for sensible levels of sustainable funding for the renewables revolution. We can do without the limitations of a stop-start regime.

If you want new energy systems, you need to pay for them. It’s called investment, and we need to do it because our current energy systems are decrepit and high carbon. The large energy companies are not prepared to put their own capital into small-scale Renewables, so it falls to the taxpayer to fill the gap. Why not pay the least for the most by directly incentivising small-scale Renewable Energy with a long-term Feed In Tariff scheme ?