IDTechEx]By Dr Harry Zervos, technology analyst, IDTechEx
6 July 2012 - Today there are multiple devices available for harnessing solar energy. Each device offers a different set of characteristics. Wafer-based devices consist of mono or polycrystalline and are the most mature technology due to the experience borrowed from the microelectronics industry. They also offer very competitive production costs (<1 $/W) and long lifetimes (25+ years guaranteed but most likely operational into 35+ years). Currently, they hold about 80% of the total market share of photovoltaics.
Author of Green
Illusions]4 July 2012 - Solar cells do not offset greenhouse gases or curb fossil fuel use in the United States according to a new environmental book, Green Illusions, written by University of California – Berkeley visiting scholar Ozzie Zehner.
Green Illusions explains how the solar industry has grown to become one of the leading emitters of hexafluoroethane (C2F6), nitrogen trifluoride (NF3), and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6). These three potent greenhouse gases, used by solar cell fabricators, make carbon dioxide (CO2) seem harmless.
The global market for AMI is supported by various different countries, whose governments are gradually increasing their interest in energy efficiency. Increasingly, individual homeowners are being looked to for independent efficient energy use. Smart meters and associated accessories like in home displays (IHDs) enable consumers to be aware of their energy usage in real-time, and take appropriate action to cut down. Those countries which are implementing smart meters have formulated new legislation that supports the deployment of the technology. Governments and utilities, such as the US government and South Korea’s utility KEPCO, have introduced grants and funding for smart meter deployment, and these are expected to drive the market in the future.
[img:Subsidies%20-%20Pic%201_0.jpg| ]27 June 2012 - Of all the most ambitious renewable energy projects around the world, the European Desertec Industrial Initiative ranks right at the top- some would say fantastic in both the true and the modern sense of the word.
The basic plan of Desertec is to harness the wind and solar power from north Africa and the Middle East and use it- along with similar resources from southern Europe- to help Europe cut 95 per cent of its emissions from its electricity grid by 2050, and to have renewables provide 90 per cent of its power needs.
A new report released by the initiative- which is a consortium of 21 industrial giants such as Siemens, E.ON, Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley, Enel, and Shell- says this can be done, at the same time as reducing electricity costs and making the grid more stable than it would otherwise be.
The 2050 Desert Power report released late last week, co-authored by the Fraunhofer Institute, says that by importing 20 per cent of its energy needs from the Middle East and north Africa (MENA), Europe can save €33 billion a year, or €30 for each megawatt hour of imported electricity.
It also concludes that MENA could generate €63 billion in annual energy exports and meet its own energy requirements reliably from solar and wind, as well as cut its emissions by 50 per cent, even despite massive increase in demand expected from the anticipated 45 per cent growth in population over the coming decades.
As well, the combined area, a new geographic entity dubbed “Eumena” for energy purposes- would benefit from a 40 per cent drop in the marginal cost of Co2 reductions as it meets its 95 per cent reduction target. Clearly, if this can be done- and the report says on the issue of costs and technology it is very achievable, even if it is more challenging on the political front- then it is an attractive proposition for both regions.
"An interconnected, renewables-based power system for EUMENA is valuable for reasons of competitiveness, sustainability and security of supply," the report concludes, although it notes: "This requires a paradigm shift from today’s weakly interconnected, fossil fuel-based system to an integrated, sustainable one."
It paints a scenario where 91 per cent of Eumena’s power needs comes from renewables- with just 9 per cent from gas-fired generation by 2050. Wind accounts for 53 per cent (48 per cent onshore, 5 per cent offshore), solar accounts for 25 per cent (with solar thermal providing 16 per cent and solar PV 9 per cent), while other renewables such as hydro power, geothermal, and biomass provide the rest.
Interestingly, it predicts countries such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt will consume as much electricity as France, Germany the UK and Italy, so most of the desert power will be consumed locally. The biggest exporters- the southern powerhouses - will be Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Libya, while the northern powerhouses will be Scandinavia (particularly Norway with huge hydro resources and small population). The two sources will intersect over eight different transmission routes.
The project estimates that each European still provides at least 70 per cent of its power needs. But by having an EUMENA-wide grid, fewer gas peaking plants are needed, and reliability is enhanced. Half of the €30/MWh saving comes from the fact that renewables are cheaper to produce in Mena than in Europe- the other half from a lower reliance on fossil fuel peakers, and there is less redundant capacity. (Indeed, this accords with conclusions made by David Mills and the UNSW team on their 100 per cent scenarios).
The report says that the power sources are based on proven and reliable technology. The only aspect missing at the moment is cost competitiveness across the board. But it says that by 2050, wind and solar should be producing at around €50/MWh. It uses this graph below to suggest the cost reductions that can be anticipated over the coming decades. The two solar technologies- PV and CSP (solar thermal)- lead the way, with onshore wind delivering the lowest reduction.
The key to the project is the creation of a vast electric ring around Europe that properly connects all countries. Some countries rich in renewables are currently unable to use all their capacity- Ireland being one of them. However, separately to the Desertec initiative. Irish business Eddie O’Connor, the CEO of Mainstream Renewables, has unveiled a plan to invest €12.5 billion to expand the country’s wind energy farms, and build links to supply the UK, which is looking as if it will fall dramatically short of its own clean energy targets.
O’Connor describes the plan as the biggest infrastructure development in Ireland since the country was electrified in the 1930s. An MOU as already been signed between the UK and Irish governments for the export of electricity from Ireland. O’Connor said Ireland could export some €2.5 billion worth of electricity each year- creating a larger export market than the entire dairy sector.
The wind and photovoltaic (PV) subsectors are expected to experience the most significant M&A activity and respondents, drawn from 100 renewable energy M&A professionals in the corporate, investment banking and private equity communities, believe both wind and PV will achieve grid parity as early as 2015 or 2016 in Germany, Italy and Spain.
But Edison’s efforts were in vain. His opponents prevailed, and alternating current grids have dominated the transmission of electric energy worldwide ever since. There were good reasons for that decision: Using transformers, alternating current can be easily adjusted to almost any desired value; in addition, alternating current makes it possible to develop meshed power grids.
According to a new report from GlobalData more than 200 nuclear reactors, accounting for about half of the world’s nuclear facilities, will be decommissioned, assuming no life extensions are granted. The plans mean a significant boost for the global nuclear decommissioning industry, with Europe accounting for the bulk of the closures.