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China builds world’s biggest solar farm in journey to become green superpower

Vast plant in Qinghai province is part of China’s determination to transform itself from climate change villain to a green energy colossus.

High on the Tibetan plateau, a giant poster of the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, guards the entrance to one of the greatest monuments to Beijing’s quest to become a clean energy colossus.

To Xi’s right, on the road leading to what is reputedly the biggest solar farm on earth, a billboard greets visitors with the slogan: “Promote green development! Develop clean energy!”

Behind him, a sea of nearly 4m deep blue panels flows towards a spectacular horizon of snow-capped mountains – mile after mile of silicon cells tilting skywards from what was once a barren, wind-swept cattle ranch.

“It’s big! Yeah! Big!” Gu Bin, one of the engineers responsible for building the Longyangxia Dam Solar Park in the western province of Qinghai, enthused with a heavy dose of understatement during a rare tour of the mega-project.

The remote, 27-square-kilometre solar farm tops an ever-expanding roll call of supersized symbols that underline China’s determination to transform itself from climate villain to green superpower.

Built at a cost of about 6bn yuan (£721.3m) and in almost constant expansion since construction began in 2013, Longyangxia now has the capacity to produce a massive 850MW of power – enough to supply up to 200,000 households – and stands on the front line of a global photovoltaic revolution being spearheaded by a country that is also the world’s greatest polluter.

 

(The Guardian 19.1 2017)

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Reasons to be cheerful: a full switch to low-carbon energy is in sight

Climate change optimism is justified – a complete transition from carbon to solar and wind power looks practical and affordable within a generation.

 

My first book on climate change was published 10 years ago. I looked at how responsible individuals could choose to run their lives to cut their carbon footprint.

Inevitably minimising your carbon footprint meant making some uncomfortable choices – stopping eating meat, for example, or giving up flying. Hair-shirtism, in short. In 2009, I advised individuals on how they could cut their carbon emissions by 10%.

I then disobeyed some of my own recommendations, flying to the US to visit a daughter at university, for example. Over the subsequent years, it increasingly seemed to me that changing western lifestyles in the way my first book suggested was going to be an impossible struggle.

Moreover, the world still had more than a billion people without an electricity supply. Any solution that didn’t give them access to power was unfair and unworkable. So I switched to writing about how we could substitute low-carbon energy sources for fossil fuels.

At first it seemed that renewable electricity would always be more expensive and solar power would languish unless it was heavily subsidised. Using alternative energy sources seemed difficult, expensive and inconvenient. I now think I was completely wrong.

In fact, optimism about successfully tackling climate change has never been more justified because 2016 was the year in which it finally became obvious that the world had the technology to solve the problem. Even as the political environment has darkened, the reasons have strengthened for believing that a complete transition to low-carbon energy is practical and affordable within one generation.

(The Guardian 19.1 2017)

 

 

 

Today all Dutch trains are powered 100% by wind energy

Travelling by train has been the most environmentally friendly way of transportation for a long time already. In the Netherlands they have now taken it to the next level using wind turbines to power all of its trains.

The Dutch have a long history of using wind energy to advance. They used windmills to drain land covered by water since the 17th century.

 

Energy company Eneco provides NS the energy to transport 600.000 people per day. That’s 1.200.000 train trips per day without any CO2 emissions.

NS requires 1.2B kWh of wind-powered energy per year, which is the same amount all households in Amsterdam consume per year. The partnership with NS, allowed Eneco to invest substantially in the expansion of its wind turbine parks.

(Brightvibes 2.1 2017)

 

Wind and Solar Are Crushing Fossil Fuels

Record clean energy investment outpaces gas and coal 2 to 1.

Wind and solar have grown seemingly unstoppable.

While two years of crashing prices for oil, natural gas, and coal triggered dramatic downsizing in those industries, renewables have been thriving. Clean energy investment broke new records in 2015 and is now seeing twice as much global funding as fossil fuels.

One reason is that renewable energy is becoming ever cheaper to produce. Recent solar and wind auctions in Mexico and Morocco ended with winning bids from companies that promised to produce electricity at the cheapest rate, from any source, anywhere in the world, said Michael Liebreich, chairman of the advisory board for Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).

“We’re in a low-cost-of-oil environment for the foreseeable future,” Liebreich said during his keynote address at the BNEF Summit in New York on Tuesday. “Did that stop renewable energy investment? Not at all.”

 

(Bloomberg 6.4 2016)

 

 

 

World Energy Hits a Turning Point: Solar That’s Cheaper Than Wind

Emerging markets are leapfrogging the developed world thanks to cheap panels.

 

A transformation is happening in global energy markets that’s worth noting as 2016 comes to an end: Solar power, for the first time, is becoming the cheapest form of new electricity.

This has happened in isolated projects in the past: an especially competitive auction in the Middle East, for example, resulting in record-cheap solar costs. But now unsubsidized solar is beginning to outcompete coal and natural gas on a larger scale, and notably, new solar projects in emerging markets are costing less to build than wind projects, according to fresh data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

The chart below shows the average cost of new wind and solar from 58 emerging-market economies, including China, India, and Brazil. While solar was bound to fall below wind eventually, given its steeper price declines, few predicted it would happen this soon.

(Bloomberg 15.12 2016)

 

France to pave 1000km of roads with solar panels

Over the next five years, France will install some 621 miles (1,000km) of solar roadway using Colas’ Wattway solar pavement.

Solar freakin’ roadways! No, this is not the crowdfunded solar road project that blew up the internet a few years ago, but is a collaboration between Colas, a transport infrastructure company, and INES (France’s National Institute for Solar Energy), and sanctioned by France’s Agency of Environment and Energy Management, which promises to bring solar power to hundreds of miles of roads in the country over the next five years.

One major difference between this solar freakin’ roadway and that other solar freakin’ roadway is that the new Wattway system doesn’t replace the road itself or require removal of road surfaces, but instead is designed to be glued onto the top of existing pavement. The Wattway system is also built in layers of materials “that ensure resistance and tire grip,” and is just 7 mm thick, which is radically different from that other design that uses thick glass panels (and which is also claimed to include LED lights and ‘smart’ technology, which increases the complexity and cost of the moose-friendly solar tiles).

According to Colas, the material is strong enough to stand up to regular traffic, even heavy trucks, and 20 m² of Wattway panels is said to provide enough electricity to power a single average home in France, with a 1-kilometer stretch of Wattway road able to “provide the electricity to power public lighting in a city of 5,000 inhabitants.”

(Treehugger 29.1 2016)

 

 

India unveils the world’s largest solar power plant

The country is on schedule to be the world’s third biggest solar market next year.

Images have been released showing the sheer size of a new solar power plant in southern India.

The facility in Kamuthi, Tamil Nadu, has a capacity of 648 MW and covers an area of 10 sq km.

This makes it the largest solar power plant at a single location, taking the title from the Topaz Solar Farm in California, which has a capacity of 550 MW.

The solar plant, built in an impressive eight months and funded by the Adani Group, is cleaned every day by a robotic system, charged by its own solar panels.

At full capacity, it is estimated to produce enough electricity to power about 150,000 homes.

The project is comprised of 2.5 million individual solar modules, and cost $679m to build.

The new plant has helped nudge India’s total installed solar capacity across the 10 GW mark, according to a statement by research firm Bridge to India, joining only a handful of countries that can make this claim.

As solar power increases, India is expected to become the world’s third-biggest solar market from next year onwards, after China and the US.

(Al Jazeera 30.11 2016)

Google to be Powered 100% by Renewable Energy from 2017

The internet giant is already the world’s biggest corporate buyer of renewable electricity, last year buying 44% of its power from wind and solar farms. Now it will be 100%, and an executive said it would not rule out investing in nuclear power in the future, too.

 

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