Green News From Around The World
This week in solar saw exciting new developments across the world of renewable energy.
Here are our top stories for the week:
Frydenberg is famous for his strong views on nuclear energy. In early 2011 he was pushing nuclear tech, stating it was safe and cheap – just 6 weeks before the Fukushima disaster.
But the market has changed since then.
France has even begun slashing its nuclear power share in half.
The domestic energy market is also changing, and power regulators are reacting slow.
Western and Southern Australia’s power demand is expected to be met by rooftop solar within the next 10 years.
Frydenberg said that “clearly renewable energy is a key part of our energy platform, I think wind farms, I think solar, I think they all have a role to play.”
Frydenberg is thought to be a “big picture” man, and will take some time overcoming vested interests in the nuclear sector.
Researchers at Monash University have demonstrated an efficient way of capturing energy from sunlight.
By splitting water with an electric current, the “artificial leaf” is able to produce hydrogen at an incredible record breaking 22% efficiency.
It’s the cleanest form of energy as it contains no carbon, and the process produces no carbon either.
The new tech is a massive step towards renewable hydrogen fuel cells which uses hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity.
It can be used as a cheap method of energy storage on a residential level, working hand in hand with roof-top solar cells.
“Forecasts indicate that the generation of hydrogen from sunlight using high-efficiency semiconductors could be economically competitive to fossil energy sources at efficiency levels of 15 % or more. This corresponds to a hydrogen price of about four US dollars per kilogram,” says Prof. Thomas Hannappel, from the photovoltaics group at TU Ilmenau.
“I really mean this sincerely, the more Americans who understand the possibilities of solar… just imagine what we can do. Folks, we are on the cusp of something huge here, but a lot of folks don’t realize it”, said Biden while giving an overview of many encouraging statistics on how the industry has grown exponentially….The demand is there. This year solar has constituted 40% of all new electrical generation brought online in America. That’s you!”
The fact that the solar industry employs more people than Google, Apple, Twitter, and Facebook combined makes solar a job creation machine.
Biden believes that the solar industry is poised to thrive and announced $102 million in competitive grants to companies and research institutions as part of the Sunshot Initiative.
“If we stay at it, in my view, we can make it fast and easier for Americans to choose clean energy”, Biden said.
The U.S. Clean Power Plan is a major step towards a carbon free environment.
It’s designed to promote the development of renewable energy sources across the U.S and reduce 32% of carbon emissions by the year 2030.
How your electricity is created makes a huge difference in how much water is used. Solar and wind power requires almost no water all. Power stations, on the other hand, exploit water resources and account for 45% of total water withdrawal.
By the time the clean power plan has been implemented in 2030, over half of the United States will be arid or facing high water scarcity. Even according to NASA’s predictions, it doesn’t look good.
The main debate, however, revolves around natural gas and fracking, which seems to be set as one of the nation’s biggest electricity sources by 2030.
Just one single fracking well requires between 1.8 million and 6 million gallons of water!
The funds are to be used as an investment guarantee to build and operate the plant.
By 2018, OPIC will pledge a further $1.5 billion toward finance and insurance of energy projects in the region.
The Net metering 2.0 debate is in session, and it’s matched utilities up against the solar and environmental advocates.
Solar groups have asked the CPUC to consider its latest argument.
Solar advocates want to keep net metered tariffs just the way they are.
The problem with this is it could have dire ramifications for homeowners, exposing them to the risk of federal income tax.
These new proposals would ultimately cause much uncertainty for new customer perceptions of solar’s value.
On top of this, net metering’s dull cost calculating software could be obstructing California’s attempt to restructure its solar regulations.
Solar industry groups say it’s too complicated and time-consuming for anyone to understand, and according to PG&E contains “several serious flaws that would inevitably result in poorly designed policies and predictions of market outcomes.”
The CPUC has until the end of December 2015 to design net metering’s successor. Get more on how they plan to balance solar, utilities and non-solar customer needs here.
Engineers at Stanford University have developed a clear silicon layer which boosts the efficiency of solar panels by keeping them cooler.
The layer radiates heat back into space without restricting incoming photons.
Rooftop solar in California can reach temperatures of 175° F (80° C).
Extreme heat like this poses problems for solar as it loses efficiency as the panels heat up.
For every increase of 18° F (10° C), solar panels will lose about 1% efficiency.
What does Leonardo DiCaprio, more than 2000 people, and 400 major institutions across 43 countries have in common?
They all divesting their money from fossil fuels.
Pension funds, insurance companies, universities, and even churches have joined the movement. Altogether representing a massive $2.6 trillion worth of investments!
Christiana Figueres, UN climate change official, said at the launch of the report “Investing at scale in clean, efficient power offers one of the clearest, no regret choices ever presented to human progress.”
Here’s more on the great fossil fuel divest.