latest solar news

Spain considering solar in 3GW renewables auction but awaits formed government:

Spain is considering a 3GW renewable energy auction including solar PV, however, the policy is uncertain while the country awaits the formation of a government.
The Institute for the Diversification and Saving of Energy (IDAE) has announced the tender plans, which were then confirmed by the general secretary of energy. The Energy Ministry had organised a renewables bidding option in January, which only applied to wind energy and biomass, Spanish solar association (UNEF) general director José Donoso told PV Tech. However, a new option is being considered which is most likely to focus on wind and solar PV, with intentions to procure around 3GW capacity. Importantly, the intention is to have no technological discrimination.

Donoso said: “We must take this information as very provisional because we really don’t have a government at this moment.”
After a general election in 2015, Spain failed to form a government after no party gained a majority. Meanwhile, another election was held on 26 June this year, which also brought about no majority and further failures to form a coalition government.

Donoso said the most probable scenario going forward will be the continuation of the conservative government, but it is not clear who will become minister of energy. If the former minister is reappointed then the auction will go ahead, he added.
Donoso said the news was a surprise to UNEF and was welcomed. However, the association does not agree with the organising of the auction, which is run on similar grounds to the January wind and biomass bidding, where no subsidies were offered, and players did not bid on a kWh tariff basis. Instead it will based on an "investment cost", which Donoso said "is not in relation to the real costs". He added that without a subsidy the auction process may even be an “inconvenience”.

A second concern is that a regulation upcoming in 2019 means the government can change the variables of the retribution model for the solar developers. This means developers will not be able to forecast cash flows and may struggle to get financing due to the uncertainty around 2019.
Referring to both concerns, Donoso also said: “We consider this does not give us guarantee that at the end of the day all the projects that are included in the auction will be constructed, [which] is important for Spain if we want to achieve the target of the 20% renewables by 2020.”

While the auction news may be seen as positive for Spain, legal cases have continued to rage over policies around its subsidies for solar over the last few years. For example, in June, Spain’s Supreme Court ruled against appeals claiming that the Popular Party’s cutbacks on the feed-in-tariff (FiTs) for solar in 2013 and 2014 were retroactive.

Sonnedix finalises 86MW solar project in South Africa:

US independent power producer (IPP) Sonnedix has reached commercial operation on an 86MW solar PV plant in South Africa, after only 17 months of construction.

The 125 hectare Prieska Solar Plant is located in the Northern Cape as part of the Renwable Energy Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme (REIPPPP). The plant was developed in collaboration with Mulilo Renewable Energy and Ixowave Women in Power. Construction was assumed by juwi Renewable Energies, the South African subsidiary of the juwi group.

“We are delighted to announce the completion of the Prieska Solar Plant, our first in South Africa,” Andreas Mustad, Sonnedix’s CEO said. “The project has driven crucial economic activity in the Northern Cape, and will bring renewable power to 40,000 homes across South Africa.”

The plant is comprised of 275,000 PV modules and is expected to perform over a 20-year lifespan.

At last: Non-toxic and cheap thin-film solar cells for 'zero-energy' buildings:

'Zero-energy' buildings -- which generate as much power as they consume -- are now much closer after a team at Australia's University of New South Wales achieved the world's highest efficiency using flexible solar cells that are non-toxic and cheap to make.
Until now, the promise of 'zero-energy' buildings been held back by two hurdles: the cost of the thin-film solar cells (used in façades, roofs and windows), and the fact they're made from scarce, and highly toxic, materials.
That's about to change: the UNSW team, led by Dr Xiaojing Hao of the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics at the UNSW School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering, have achieved the world's highest efficiency rating for a full-sized thin-film solar cell using a competing thin-film technology, known as CZTS.
NREL, the USA's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, confirmed this world leading 7.6% efficiency in a 1cm2 area CZTS cell this month.
Unlike its thin-film competitors, CZTS cells are made from abundant materials: copper, zinc, tin and sulphur.
And CZTS has none of the toxicity problems of its two thin-film rivals, known as CdTe (cadmium-telluride) and CIGS (copper-indium-gallium-selenide). Cadmium and selenium are toxic at even tiny doses, while tellurium and indium are extremely rare.
"This is the first step on CZTS's road to beyond 20% efficiency, and marks a milestone in its journey from the lab to commercial product," said Hao, named one of UNSW's 20 rising stars last year. "There is still a lot of work needed to catch up with CdTe and CIGS, in both efficiency and cell size, but we are well on the way."
"In addition to its elements being more commonplace and environmentally benign, we're interested in these higher bandgap CZTS cells for two reasons," said Professor Martin Green, a mentor of Dr Hao and a global pioneer of photovoltaic research stretching back 40 years.
"They can be deposited directly onto materials as thin layers that are 50 times thinner than a human hair, so there's no need to manufacture silicon 'wafer' cells and interconnect them separately," he added. "They also respond better than silicon to blue wavelengths of light, and can be stacked as a thin-film on top of silicon cells to ultimately improve the overall performance."
By being able to deposit CZTS solar cells on various surfaces, Hao's team believe this puts them firmly on the road to making thin-film photovoltaic cells that can be rigid or flexible, and durable and cheap enough to be widely integrated into buildings to generate electricity from the sunlight that strikes structures such as glazing, façades, roof tiles and windows.
However, because CZTS is cheaper -- and easier to bring from lab to commercialisation than other thin-film solar cells, given already available commercialised manufacturing method -- applications are likely even sooner. UNSW is collaborating with a number of large companies keen to develop applications well before it reaches 20% efficiency -- probably, Hao says, within the next few years.
"I'm quietly confident we can overcome the technical challenges to further boosting the efficiency of CZTS cells, because there are a lot of tricks we've learned over the past 30 years in boosting CdTe and CIGS and even silicon cells, but which haven't been applied to CZTS," said Hao.
Currently, thin-film photovoltaic cells like CdTe are used mainly in large solar power farms, as the cadmium toxicity makes them unsuitable for residential systems, while CIGS cells is more commonly used in Japan on rooftops.
First Solar, a US$5 billion behemoth that specialises in large-scale photovoltaic systems, relies entirely on CdTe; while CIGS is the preferred technology of China's Hanergy, the world's largest thin-film solar power company.
Thin-film technologies such as CdTe and CIGS are also attractive because they are physically flexible, which increases the number of potential applications, such as curved surfaces, roofing membranes, or transparent and translucent structures like windows and skylights.
But their toxicity has made the construction industry -- mindful of its history with asbestos -- wary of using them. Scarcity of the elements also renders them unattractive, as price spikes are likely as demand rises. Despite this, the global market for so-called Building-Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) is already valued at US$1.6 billion.
Hao believes CZTS's cheapness, benign environmental profile and abundant elements may be the trigger that finally brings architects and builders onboard to using thin-film solar panels more widely in buildings.
Until now, most architects have used conventional solar panels made from crystalline silicon. While these are even cheaper than CZTS cells, they don't offer the same flexibility for curved surfaces and other awkward geometries needed to easily integrate into building designs.

Polymer solar cells manufactured using low-cost roll-to-roll printing technology:

Polymer solar cells can be even cheaper and more reliable thanks to a breakthrough by scientists at Linköping University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). This work is about avoiding costly and unstable fullerenes.
Polymer solar cells have in recent years emerged as a low cost alternative to silicon solar cells. In order to obtain high efficiency, fullerenes are usually required in polymer solar cells to separate charge carriers. However, fullerenes are unstable under illumination, and form large crystals at high temperatures.
Now, a team of chemists led by Professor Jianhui Hou at the CAS set a new world record for fullerene-free polymer solar cells by developing a unique combination of a polymer called PBDB-T and a small molecule called ITIC. With this combination, the sun's energy is converted with an efficiency of 11%, a value that strikes most solar cells with fullerenes, and all without fullerenes.
Feng Gao, together with his colleagues Olle Inganäs and Deping Qian at Linköping University, have characterized the loss spectroscopy of photovoltage (Voc), a key figure for solar cells, and proposed approaches to further improving the device performance.
The two research groups are now presenting their results in the high-profile journal Advanced Materials.
-We have demonstrated that it is possible to achieve a high efficiency without using fullerene, and that such solar cells are also highly stable to heat. Because solar cells are working under constant solar radiation, good thermal stability is very important, said Feng Gao, a physicist at the Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology, Linköping University.
-The combination of high efficiency and good thermal stability suggest that polymer solar cells, which can be easily manufactured using low-cost roll-to-roll printing technology, now come a step closer to commercialization, said Feng Gao.

The new silicon cell capable of absorbing the infrared radiation.

Researchers of the Universitat Politècnica de València, the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC, in Spanish), the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya-BarcelonaTech (UPC) and the Universidad Rovira i Virgili de Tarragona have developed a silicon photovoltaic cell capable of turning infrared radiation into electricity.
Nature Communications magazine has published this new development led by Francisco Meseguer professor from the CSIC, at the joint lab UPV/CSIC.
The sun is an inexhaustible source of energy which well-exploited, could solve many of the energy suply problems we have today. The photovoltaic cell, commonly known as solar cell, is a device capable of turning solar light into electricity. However, there are many obstacles that prevent a massive use, such as a relatively high cost (0.02 euros per watt generated) and the low efficiency of silicon based solar cells, around 17 per cent.
The low efficiency is related to the material the solar cell is made of. Most solar cells are made of silicon which is relatively cheap to produce. However these solar cells can generate electricity from the visible part of the sun spectrum, but the infrared region is, unfortunately, useless.
The professor Francisco Meseguer, explains that, "after three years of work, our research team has developed a new concept of silicon solar cells able to absorb infrared radiation from the sun and turning them into electricity." Moisés Garín, a researcher from the CSIC and the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, adds that, "what we have done is create photovoltaic cells on silicon micrometre scale sphere, where infrared light is trapped until it is absorbed turning it into electricity."
This work is a new scientific achievement for the development of high-performance photovoltaic cells in the future.

Solar cells that can face almost any direction and keep themselves clean.

In recent years, a complicated discussion over which direction solar cells should face -- south or west -- has likely left customers uncertain about the best way to orient their panels. Now researchers are attempting to resolve this issue by developing solar cells that can harvest light from almost any angle, and the panels self-clean to boot. Their report appears in the journal ACS Nano.
Commercial solar panels work best when sunlight hits them at a certain angle. Initially, experts had suggested that solar panels face south to collect the most energy from the sun. But an influential 2013 report by Pecan Street, an energy-research organization, advised that systems tilt westward to maximize efficiency.
Further analysis has found that determining the ideal angle is more complicated -- in essence, it depends on where you live. And even if customers get the positioning correct, they're still losing out on prime sunlight because most residential systems can't move or adjust to the sun's track across the sky. Jr-Hau He, Kun-Yu Lai and colleagues wanted to address this shortcoming.
The researchers developed a glass coating that incorporates ultrathin nanorods and honeycomb nanowalls that can help underlying solar cells harvest sunlight from multiple angles. The cell efficiency can be boosted by 5.2 to 27.7 percent, depending on the angle of the light, and the efficiency enhancement can be up to 46 percent during long-term use.
The material also repelled dust and pollution that would otherwise block some rays from getting absorbed and converted to electricity. The new glass coating kept panels working outdoors at optimum levels for six weeks while the efficiency of panels with an unmodified coating dropped over the same period.

Investment in energy storage vital if renewables to achieve full potential.

Government subsidies should be used to encourage investment in energy storage systems if renewable power is to be fully integrated into the sector, according to researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA).
Variable output renewable energy systems, such as wind turbines and solar panels, are growing across Europe and contribute to supply and price volatility in electricity markets.
Systems for energy storage, for example reversed hydro power plants, large scale compressed air systems and batteries, provide ways to compensate for this variable power supply by storing excess power and releasing it when there is a production shortage.
However, the researchers argue that as the amount of renewable energy entering national power grids increases, so does the potential impact of volatility and therefore the need for storage. As subsidies for setting up renewable energy projects are gradually being removed, because they are reaching market maturity, these funds should instead be used to develop storage systems that could provide viable investment opportunities.
The study, led by Dr Dimitris Zafirakis and Dr Konstantinos Chalvatzis of UEA's Norwich Business School, explored the potential of energy storage systems to return profits by buying when energy is cheap and selling when it is expensive, known as arbitrage. They tested this in a number of European electricity markets and matched various trading strategies and storage technologies with market characteristics.
The researchers found that this buy cheap, sell expensive approach alone cannot provide adequate revenue to justify investment. However, if the decarbonisation of electricity is to be achieved by increasing renewables, investment in storage has to be encouraged, for example through a combination of arbitrage and state subsidies. The findings are published today in the journal Applied Energy.
Dr Chalvatzis, a senior lecturer in business and climate change, said: "It is good to adjust subsidies for renewable energy technologies that have reached maturity, but you have to start thinking about subsidising storage, as this can take us to using 100 per cent renewable energy sources.
"We need sufficient storage and more investment in storage systems in order for renewable energy to reach its full potential. Subsidies would encourage investment, which in turn would enable further integration of renewables into the energy sector.
"The fact that for some days countries such as Germany and Portugal are running their entire electricity network exclusively on renewable energy shows how far we have come to rely on it as a power source and this will continue to increase."
Despite this, investment in energy storage has been limited until now, largely due to the high capital costs of most systems. Therefore the researchers suggest that the main focus should be on multiple grid services and associated welfare effects, such as reduced consumer energy costs and increased energy security, that energy storage technologies can provide, triggering in this way state support and market incentives.
The study focused on two types of storage systems -- pumped hydro storage (PHS) and compressed air energy storage (CAES) -- examining different energy trade strategies and representative European power markets, including the APX Power UK.

Solar power to light up parks in Dubai soon(posted on 28/09/2011: Gulf News)

All parks across Dubai will soon use solar powered lighting systems, Hussain Nasser Lootah, Director General of Dubai Municipality told Gulf News. "All lights in our parks will be solar. We have already started implementing it and gradually will cover all the parks," he said. "This is one of our many initiatives towards sustainable development. We are focusing on measures that help reduce consumption of power through natural resources." Lootah was speaking to Gulf News on the sidelines of the Future Cities Conference, organised by the Dubai Municipality and the Environmental Centre for Arab Towns (ECAT) in collaboration with Informa Exhibitions.

He said cities of the 21st century must evolve into centres of progress that serve as the forces for national and global advancement. No single entity can do this alone, he said; it will take individuals, businesses and all levels of government working together to achieve these goals. Leaders of the future have the responsibility to make this transition happen and must have the courage to lead, Lootah added.

He also outlined the vision and strategy for Dubai over the coming years, including areas of focus and what initiatives will be put in place to drive forward a sustainable strategy. The conference also covered a number of key topics, pertinent to the devising of sustainable urban developments, including affordable housing, tourism, infrastructure, mobility and branding. Last year, the Dubai Municipality General Project Department finished work on a neighbourhood park in Al Sofouh which uses solar lighting systems. Built on an area of 1.55 hectares, the park is the first to have used this technology. The project that cost around Dh.7 million involved usage of special lighting elements that exploited solar energy for night lighting.

Dubai Municipality's Strategic Plan aims to increases the city's per capita green area to 23.4 square metres. It also aims to raise the proportion of cultivated land in urban public areas in Dubai to 3.15 per cent by the end of 2011.

"Dubai is one of the most beautiful cities and has seen a lot of development in the past. This has given a good quality of life but there have been side effects of this development like rise in per capita garbage production, high petrol consumption and high electricity," said Lootah. "We need to ensure a sustainable development and adopt more environment friendly ways" like re-cycling sewage water and using it for irrigation, he said.

Gas-powered cars The Dubai Municipality is working with Emirates Gas to convert all its cars from petrol to gas. "We have already converted five cars. All our 1,000 cars will run on compressed natural gas (CNG)," Hussain Nasser Lootah, Director General of Dubai Municipality told Gulf News. He said this was one of the municipality's initiatives towards sustainable development.

BOS System Costs Will Exceed Those of PV Modules by Next Year

According new market study available on

Amsterdam - Solar PV Balance of System (BOS): Technologies and Markets, is reporting that in 2012 balance of system costs will surpass PV module costs on a cost per watt scale. The report, written by Manhal Aboudi, identified BOS costs in 2010 at US$1.43 per watt, or 44.8% of a standard, utility-scale crystalline silicon (cSi) solar project. As solar PV module prices continue to drop, the study suspects that in 2012 the BOS cost for the same project will increase to 50.6%.

The report speculates that attention will be shift to include more economic gains for BOS components and services, which include mounting, structures, foundations and labor. The report details product improvements and economic positioning for the key BOS components and includes cost roadmaps, component market sizing and mounting structure on a global and country demand for the US, Europe, China and Japan.

"The PV market has new focus," said Shayle Kann. "While the module will remain the most costly single part of a PV system for the foreseeable future, the large combined cost of BOS components will inevitably engender greater activity and innovation across the BOS value chain. We expect to see BOS consolidation, integrated business models and increased supplier competition in the coming years as more companies see the BOS as a major revenue opportunity in the PV market."

Related Research on Solar PV Balance of System (BOS): Technologies and Markets The BOS report maps costs through 2013 and includes research data on global and country market shares for mounting structures, which happen to amount to the largest share of BOS component costs at US$0.23 per watt. In its report, it is found that in a global setting, rooftop mounting structures accounted for 83% of 2010's total market. However, that number is expected to decrease to 66% by 2015 as solar demands expand beyond Europe. In addition, North America and Asia's utility markets are anticipated to demand ground-mounted fixed and tracking structures at a global share of 27% and 7%, respectively by 2015.

"Mounting structures are an access point for both BOS cost reductions and business opportunity," commented Aboudi. "In the past we have seen highly localized mounting structure supply with fragmented share and product offerings. Larger companies such as SAPA, Gestamp Solar, Hilti and Cooper B-Line are now diversifying their product lines to better serve the global market and thereby reduce costs through scale as well as capture a larger piece of the mounting structure market."

Asia Report: Subtle Signs of Energy Shift

By Renewable Energy World Editors

New Hampshire, U.S.A. -- Viewed from afar, it was a week of contradictions. But perhaps, it was a sign that renewable energy could gain a growing foothold in developing nations like China and India. The two nations are expected to lead a 53 percent growth in energy consumption by 2035, according to an international report released by the United States Energy Information Administration. Much of that growth is projected to come from fossil fuels.

Clearly, Asia is where energy solutions will be needed. It's also where renewable energy is increasingly being manufactured. Will Asia's giants rely on their own technology to feed their growing demands? And will this be solely a policy decision based on economics? Perhaps, there is an emerging consumer element as well. In China there are signs that residents are gaining a stronger voice in environmental concerns following the shutdown of a solar plant accused of pollution and the relocation of a chemical plant following similar concerns. And in India, a new study has found that 71 percent of consumers are willing to pay higher rates for electricity from renewable energy sources.

Energy Report: India, China to lead Massive Growth in Consumption, India Consumer Survey


Global Clinton Initiative: Applied Material executive Mark Walker shared the stage with former President Clinton, and he writes about the potential renewable energy presents for schools and villages in places like India.

Technical Standards for China Wind: The potential of the China solar market may be dominating the headlines, but the country continues to solidify its world lead in installed wind capacity with more than 43 GW at the end of 2010. During the first half of 2011, China generated 38.6 billion kWh of wind power, up 61 percent year on year (the fastest among all types of energy).
Building a Bio Power: Thailand Energy Minister Pichai Naripthaphan says his nation could become a hub for an emerging biofuels industry in southeast Asia. Pichai attended the Association of Southeast Asian Nations energy meeting last week in Brunei. South Korea and Carbon: Government officials aim to pass a law this year that would launch a carbon trading program by 2015 despite stiff opposition from business leaders.

A DEEPER LOOK Rethinking the Math: An engineer sets up a project in India to prove that solar power is the cheapest and easiest option in many parts of the world. In His Own Words: Softbank chief executive Son Masayoshi details his vision for a Japan powered by renewable energy. Son recently announced plans to raise money for a smart grid transmission and earlier this month he launched the Japan Renewable Energy Foundation. Japan’s Future: As the nation continues to explore its energy future in the wake of the devastating earthquake and tsunami last spring, the Japan Times kicks off a six-part series about the prospects of the nation’s renewable energy efforts.


4, 5, 8: Rankings, respectively, for China, Japan and India in an IMS Research listing of the top 10 most important PV markets of 2011. 740: New geothermal potential in megawatts in Japan's northeast Tohoku region, according to Japan’s Geothermal Developers Council. 23,400: Total geothermal potential in megawatts for Japan, which ranks third worldwide in geothermal resources.

Clean Power Finance and Google Establish $75M Solar Fund
San Francisco, California United States

Clean Power Finance and Google are creating a new $75 million fund to finance residential solar projects. This initial investment in Clean Power Finance's white label financing solution represents the second fund available to its network of qualified installers who brand and market it to homeowners. Google has now invested more than $850 million in the renewable energy sector.

"Clean Power Finance has built an innovative platform that connects solar manufacturers, investors like us, and solar installers who offer our financing directly to homeowners. It's a powerful combination that will reduce costs and facilitate the expansion of distributed solar in the U.S.," said Rick Needham, Director of Green Business Operations at Google. "We're proud to be among the first investors to partner with Clean Power Finance, and enable the company to continue forging strong relationships with the best brands in solar."

SunLogic, California Solar Systems and American Vision Solar are among the many solar installers currently branding and offering homeowners Clean Power Finance's financing solution. The Clean Power Finance-Google fund will enable up to 3,000 homeowners to go solar in a number of key markets. Residential solar financing is among the fastest growing categories in the solar industry. Solar power purchase agreements (PPAs) and leases are the driving force behind solar adoption among homeowners, creating an easy and low cost way to go solar. In the first quarter of 2011, PPAs/leases accounted for more than a third of all residential solar sales in California and Colorado, according to Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

"I've been fortunate enough to be a part of residential solar financing since its inception. Google's investment in one of Clean Power Finance's funds further validates the rapidly growing residential solar financing category and our unique market approach. Our open, online platform makes it simple for qualified solar installers to offer the best available consumer financing from leading investors like Google," said Nat Kreamer, Clean Power Finance Chief Executive Officer and board member.

Brazil Soars in Clean Energy Rankings

With almost half of its energy supply generated by renewable sources, Brazil increasingly looks like a positive example for the rest of the world.

Sao Paolo, Brazil -- According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, up to 77 percent of the world's energy needs could potentially be supplied from renewable sources by 2050, despite the current figure being a much more modest 13 percent. Many heads of government around the world wondering how they can play their part in such a dramatic transformation could be forgiven for looking enviously at Brazil, where the figure already stood at 44.8 percent in 2010 and is forecast to rise to 46.3 percent in 2020.

While this increase may seem small in percentage terms, it fails to take into account the huge growth that will be seen in the country's raw energy demands — and the fact that the next decade could see the foundations laid for renewable energy to quickly become even more dominant in the years that follow.

A Growing Demand for Energy
Brazil has committed to reducing its CO2 emissions by between 36 percent and 39 percent by 2020, making it vital that the country concentrates on clean sources of energy. Investment of around BRL190 billion (US$122.6 billion) is needed for Brazil to meet the challenge, according to a 10-year energy plan recently published by EPE, Brazil's Energy Research Company, which conducts research for the Ministry of Mines and Energy. Of this, around BRL100 billion ($63.8 billion) will go towards renewable projects not yet contracted, 55 percent on large hydropower and 45 percent on wind, biomass and small hydro.

In terms of electricity Brazil already meets 83 percent of its needs from renewable means, gaining recognition from the Washington-based Pew Environment Group as "one of the lowest carbon electricity matrices in the world."

The principal new hydropower project is the 11,233-MW Belo Monte dam to be built on the River Xingu in the state of Pará in the Amazon, which is due to start generating power in January 2015 with its full potential online by January 2019. It will be capable of supplying enough power to serve 18 million homes housing 60 million people, according to EPE, though in reality much of its output is likely to go towards industry.

Over half of the investment in Brazil's 10-year energy plan will be spent on hydropower (Source: fotopedia/kevin.j)
Wind Power
Meanwhile, other renewable sources, such as biomass, small-scale hydropower and, principally, wind will see the 9 GW they accounted for last year triple to 27 GW in 2020. This will take their contribution to the country's electricity supply from eight to 16 percent, keeping the overall contribution of renewables to electricity at 83 pecent. By far the biggest jump in contributions will come from wind power, which currently supplies around one percent of Brazil's electricity but would supply seven percent by 2020 under the current plans.

Another key element in meeting Brazil's energy needs is ethanol, which the EPE report says will play an ever greater role due to an increase in the nation's fleet of flexible-fuel vehicles that are able to run on gasoline, ethanol or any mixture of the two. Brazil currently has the second largest national biofuel market and is first in terms of resources readily available for further expansion, according to the Pew Environment Group's 2010 report Who is Winning the Clean Energy Race?

Improvements to the Grid There is also great potential for efficiency savings in electricity, as at present between 15 percent and 17 percent of electricity generated in Brazil is lost. EPE predicts that improvements in this area in the next decade will be equivalent to a 7,000-MW hydropower station being added to the national grid.

Future Potential
Looking beyond the current decade-long plan, Fiuza and Tolmasquim of EPE agree that one of Brazil's best-known attractions — the sun — will also have a huge part to play in future energy assessments. Fiuza said he has seen unpublished estimates suggesting solar potential in Brazil "could be four or five times the wind power potential," and he expects his company to be heavily involved in exploiting it as the costs of doing so come down."The solar potential for Brazil is huge," he said. "We have to explore wind sources that are cheaper in the first instance and think about solar in four or five years."

Tolmasquim agrees: "We are probably not going to use all the hydro potential in the Amazon because we have to balance the potential with the environment." He adds: "The cost of solar power is reducing very quickly in the world, so probably after 2020 it will be very important in Brazil." If developers can't wait that long, then there are clearly many other emerging opportunities — with significant plays available in the wind, and bioenergy sectors particularly. Brazil is evidently a country of the future, and that's no joke.

For a Greener Economy, support the Armed Services

by Bruce Mulliken, Green Energy News.

The U.S. Navy operates almost 300 ships. Its fleet of aircraft is more than 3700. The U.S. Air Force has in its inventory more than 5500 aircraft. The U.S. Army is best known for its vehicles (tanks and things; it has more than 400,000 of those.) but it also has more than 5000 aircraft and about 50 ships. I’ll leave out the Marines in this summary since you’re probably starting the get the picture: The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) operates lots and lots of vehicles in its global operations. Lots and lots of vehicles means lots and lots of fuel. And its vehicles aren’t its only energy consumers: There’s all those military bases out there with all those buildings: more than 500 installations with more than 500,000 buildings that need heat, air conditioning, hot water and lighting. Altogether DoD spends $15 - 20 billion each year on energy, $11 billion of that on petroleum fuels. DoD is one of the largest energy consumers in the world.

When the price of oil climbs so does it’s fuel tab, which of course taxpayers work hard to pay. With its energy bill climbing it’s no wonder the military is embracing renewable and energy efficiency in a big way. According to a report from the Pew Charitable Trusts, "From Barracks to the Battlefield: Clean Energy Innovation and America's Armed Forces" DoD clean energy investments increased 300 percent between 2006 and 2009, from $400 million to $1.2 billion, and are projected to eclipse $10 billion annually by 2030.

In the report’s words Pew has documented how DoD is helping to accelerate the development and deployment of clean energy technologies in three key areas:

Vehicle Efficiency: Liquid petroleum fuels account for approximately three-quarters ($11 billion) of DoD's $15 billion annual energy bill. DoD spending to harness clean energy technologies for air, land and sea vehicles is projected to grow to $2.25 billion annually by 2015. To achieve its goal of increasing efficiency and reducing fuel consumption on ships by 15 percent between 2010 and 2020, the Navy is using hybrid electric technologies, improving hull coatings and using more efficient materials. A hybrid electric drive system will be tested on the USS Truxtun, a guided-missile destroyer, and is expected to save 8,500 barrels of fuel annually. Recent operational improvements that enhance efficiency will save the department $500 million this fiscal year alone.

Advanced Biofuels: DoD has set ambitious goals and is taking concrete steps to utilize advanced biofuels. The Air Force intends to use biofuels for 50 percent of its domestic aviation needs by 2016. The Navy plans to demonstrate a "Great Green Fleet" and, along with the Marines, plans to use alternative energy sources to meet 50 percent of its energy requirements across operational platforms by 2020. To reach these goals, DoD has accelerated research on advanced biofuels, successfully testing and certifying them for use in existing fighter jets and ships.

Energy efficiency and renewables at bases: With more than 500,000 buildings and structures at 500 major installations around the world, DoD manages three times the square footage operated by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Since 1985, DoD has reduced its facility energy consumption by more than 30 percent. By insulating 9 million square feet of base structures in Iraq and Afghanistan, energy consumption has been reduced by 77,000 gallons a day. Another initiative is the Army's "net zero" program, which aims to have each of six installations produce as much as they consume in energy, water or waste by 2020, and two other installations, Fort Bliss in Texas and Fort Carson in Colorado, will become net zero in all three areas.

While many might like to see the military and its budget shrink, there is some good from its green energy spending: The more money it spends on clean and renewable energy the more it helps that industry which, in turn, reduces the cost of green energy in the civilian sector.

Launch of Japan Renewable Energy Foundation to pioneer Japan’s paradigm shift towards renewable energy

Tokyo, by Christine Lins, REN21 Secretariat

After the tragic events in Fukushima in March 2011, Masayoshi Son, Chairman & CEO of SOFTBANK Corp., one of Japan’s leading telecommunication company, felt the need to initiate discussion about a paradigm shift of Japan’s energy sector and initiated the creation of the Japan Renewable Energy Foundation.

JREF launch positively received Newly elected Prime Minster of Japan Yoshihiko Noda, recently stated “Building new reactors will be next to impossible. Reactors will be decommissioned upon reaching the end of their lifetime.” This clearly means that the dependency on nuclear will be minimized by 2030. In addition, the world expects significant price increase of fossil fuel, outlining the need to lower dependency on fossil fuels as well. Both assumptions clearly lead the way to a wide deployment of renewable energy sources.

JREF puts forward a proposal for a new energy policy 2030 focusing on a wide deployment of renewable energy as well as the therefore needed stable legal framework, electricity market liberalization together with reinforcement of the transmission infrastructure incl. the establishment of a Japan Super Grid in the first phase, an East Asia Super Grid in the next step as well as finally an Asia Super Grid and engages itself to put forward model cases how renewable energy deployment can best benefit Japan.

The benefit for moving into this direction will be stability, security of energy supply and economic development for Japan as well as peace in the region. The Japan Renewable Energy Foundation will work towards making this renewable energy paradigm shift become reality. JREF will focus its activity on three main categories: policy innovation, technology business development, advocacy and grant programmes. The founding of JREF by one of Japan’s leading business men was positively received by Japan’s Minstry of Environment and several Japanese dignities and renewable energy specialists from all around the world, many of them working together within REN21.


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