A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘solar energy

[ISL] Five #PEI links: Province House, City Cinema, Joseph Glass &Jews, wind energy, Borden-Carleton

  • Peter Rukavina shares a photo of Province House in Charlottetown now hidden by its exoskeleton for much-needed repairs.
  • CBC PEI reports on the bid of the PEI Film Society to take over City Cinema, the only independent cinema in Charlottetown.
  • CBC PEI reports on the work of Joseph Glass to document the Jewish history of Prince Edward Island.
  • Skinners Pond is among the locations being studied for new wind energy plants, CBC notes.
  • Will the Confederation Bridge fabrication yards at Borden-Carleton be turned into a solar farm, as the PCs propose? CBC goes into detail.

[NEWS] Five sci-tech links: Superstorms, solar power, superhumans, space colonies, panspermia

  • Vice’s Motherboard reports on how we do not understand the storms of the Anthropocene era, fueled by climate change.
  • Vice suggests that the very sharp and continuing fall in the price of solar power might well allow the Earth to escape ecological ruin, by providing energy alternatives.
  • The Guardian reports on the prediction of Stephen Hawking that technological advances will lead to the emergence of a race of superhumans that might well destroy–at least, outcompete–traditional humanity.
  • Over at Tor, James Nicoll recently contributed an essay arguing that technological challenges and the lack of incentive mean that the human colonization of space is not going to happen for a good while yet.
  • Universe Today highlights a new paper suggesting that panspermia unaided by intelligence can work on a galactic scale, even across potentially intergalactic distances.

[LINK] “Solar Could Beat Coal to Become the Cheapest Power on Earth”

Bloomberg’s Jessica Shankleman and Chris Martin report on how technological and economic progress is set to make solar energy the most inexpensive source of electricity around.

In 2016, countries from Chile to the United Arab Emirates broke records with deals to generate electricity from sunshine for less than 3 cents a kilowatt-hour, half the average global cost of coal power. Now, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Mexico are planning auctions and tenders for this year, aiming to drop prices even further. Taking advantage: Companies such as Italy’s Enel SpA and Dublin’s Mainstream Renewable Power, who gained experienced in Europe and now seek new markets abroad as subsidies dry up at home.

Since 2009, solar prices are down 62 percent, with every part of the supply chain trimming costs. That’s help cut risk premiums on bank loans, and pushed manufacturing capacity to record levels. By 2025, solar may be cheaper than using coal on average globally, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

“These are game-changing numbers, and it’s becoming normal in more and more markets,” said Adnan Amin, International Renewable Energy Agency ’s director general, an Abu Dhabi-based intergovernmental group. “Every time you double capacity, you reduce the price by 20 percent.”

Better technology has been key in boosting the industry, from the use of diamond-wire saws that more efficiently cut wafers to better cells that provide more spark from the same amount of sun. It’s also driven by economies of scale and manufacturing experience since the solar boom started more than a decade ago, giving the industry an increasing edge in the competition with fossil fuels.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 4, 2017 at 4:00 pm

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • blogTO notes that the Canadian government has prevented Conrad Black from selling his Forest Hill mansion on account of taxes.
  • Dangerous Minds shares a beautiful 1981 live performance by The Church.
  • Language Log notes the inclusion of Singaporean and Hong Kong English words into the OED.
  • The Map Room Blog notes the four Italian nuns who helped the Vatican map prt of the sky.
  • Marginal Revolution notes the increasing concentration of the Quakers in Kenya, and by extension other Christian denominations in Africa.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer looks at the success of solar energy in Mexico.
  • Strange Maps notes the history of Middle Eastern migration into Europe.
  • Torontoist looks at a Kensington Market project displaying graffiti from around the world.
  • Towleroad notes Donald Trump’s refusal to reveal his tax returns.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at the role played by Vladimir Zhirinovsky in Russian politics.
  • Zero Geography links to a paper co-authored by the blogger looking at the online representation of Jerusalem.

[BLOG] Some Sunday links

  • blogTO notes the continued delays with Bombardier’s streetcar deliveries to the TTC, looks at the expansion of WiFi to Toronto stations, and has hope for independent bookstores.
  • The Crux notes a proposal to make the Moon a solar energy power centre for the Earth.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes Venus analog Gliese 832d and observes the mass of material in orbit of WD 1145+017.
  • The Dragon’s Tales studies the atmosphere of Pluto.
  • At The Fifteenth, Steve Roby reviews one book on Blondie’s Parallel Lines and another on an in-universe Alien book.
  • The LRB Blog mourns Prince and reflects on the Swedish take on Brexit.
  • The Map Room Blog maps immigrants in France.
  • Towleroad shares the new Roísin Murphy single “Mastermind.”
  • Window on Eurasia notes the transition of Russian to a polycentric language.

[LINK] “Fossil Fuels Just Lost the Race Against Renewables”

Bloomberg’s Tom Randall makes the point that renewables, now competitive against oil, are set to displace oil.

The race for renewable energy has passed a turning point. The world is now adding more capacity for renewable power each year than coal, natural gas, and oil combined. And there’s no going back.

The shift occurred in 2013, when the world added 143 gigawatts of renewable electricity capacity, compared with 141 gigawatts in new plants that burn fossil fuels, according to an analysis presented Tuesday at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance annual summit in New York. The shift will continue to accelerate, and by 2030 more than four times as much renewable capacity will be added.

“The electricity system is shifting to clean,” Michael Liebreich, founder of BNEF, said in his keynote address. “Despite the change in oil and gas prices there is going to be a substantial buildout of renewable energy that is likely to be an order of magnitude larger than the buildout of coal and gas.”

The price of wind and solar power continues to plummet, and is now on par or cheaper than grid electricity in many areas of the world. Solar, the newest major source of energy in the mix, makes up less than 1 percent of the electricity market today but could be the world’s biggest single source by 2050, according to the International Energy Agency.

Will it? What about other sources, like nuclear?

Written by Randy McDonald

February 23, 2016 at 6:41 pm

[LINK] “Senegal to Add 200 Megawatts of Solar Through IFC Program”

Bloomberg’s Brian Eckhouse notes Senegal’s development of solar energy.

Senegal plans to build as much as 200 megawatts of solar power, with at least half of that up and running within two years, after joining an International Finance Corp. program designed to promote wider use of clean energy in sub-Saharan Africa.

Senegal is the second country to join the IFC’s Scaling Solar initiative, after Zambia signed on last year, the lender said in a statement Tuesday.

The effort will bring a needed injection of electricity to Senegal, where just over half the population has access to electricity, according to the World Bank. Under the program, the IFC helps organize competitive auctions, offers financing and provides some guarantees against risk.

The first auction, for at least 100 megawatts of capacity, is expected this year, according to Jamie Fergusson, chief investment officer and global renewables lead at the IFC.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 11, 2016 at 2:43 pm

[LINK] “Morocco Unveils A Massive Solar Power Plant In The Sahara”

NPR notes a new massive solar power plant in Morocco, one producing power for domestic consumption. This could be the start of something big.

Morocco has officially turned on a massive solar power plant in the Sahara Desert, kicking off the first phase of a planned project to provide renewable energy to more than a million Moroccans.

The Noor I power plant is located near the town of Ouarzazate, on the edge of the Sahara. It’s capable of generating up to 160 megawatts of power and covers thousands of acres of desert, making the first stage alone one of the world’s biggest solar thermal power plants.

When the next two phases, Noor II and Noor III, are finished, the plant will be the single largest solar power production facility in the world, The Guardian says.

Morocco currently relies on imported sources for 97 percent of its energy consumption, according to the World Bank, which helped fund the Noor power plant project. Investing in renewable energy will make Morocco less reliant on those imports as well as reduce the nation’s long-term carbon emissions by millions of tons.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 5, 2016 at 8:33 pm

[LINK] On the late Soviet project to use mirrors to transform night into day

Brian Merchant’s “The Man Who Turned Night Into Day”, published at Vice’s Motherboard, examines the nearly successful Soviet project to launch mirrors into Earth orbit to reflect light to nighttime locations.

Employers have always aimed to maximize worker productivity. Today they might exploit the connectivity of email, smartphones, and Slack to extend the reach of the modern workday, big reasons we’re working more and sleeping less. In the 1990s, though, Russian scientists tried it the other way around. They took a different, more dramatic approach to lengthening the day—they launched massive machines into orbit to reflect sunlight down onto the dark side of the Earth.

It’s true: Throughout the early 90s, a team of Russian astronomers and engineers were hellbent on literally turning night into day. By shining a giant mirror onto the earth from space, they figured they could bring sunlight to the depths of night, extending the workday, cutting back on lighting costs and allowing laborers to toil longer. If this sounds a bit like the plot of a Bond film, well, it’s that too.

The difference is that for a second there, the scientists, led by Vladimir Sergeevich Syromyatnikov, one of the most important astronautical engineers in history, actually pulled it off.

A bright young engineer in the USSR, Vladimir Syromyatnikov graduated from a technical university in Moscow in the 1956. At the age of 23, he earned a position in Russia’s elite space and rocket design program, then called the Special Design Bureau Number 1 of Research and Development Institute Number 88 (this was Soviet Russia, recall), and later known as Energia.

[. . . B]y the late 1980s, what Syromyatnikov really wanted to do was to design a solar sail that could harness the power of the sun to propel a spacecraft through the galaxy—one that could also, say, reflect sunlight back to Earth during the dead of night.

His statesmen, however, saw a unique way to maximize labor efficiency. Throughout the Soviet era, Russian scientists were obsessed with finding ways to increase the productivity of farmlands and workers in Russia’s northern regions, where days would grow very long in the summer and extremely short in the winter. In 1988, Syromyatnikov seized on the idea of daylight extension, apparently as a pitch to get backers to support his solar sails. He retooled the focus of his design to function as a space mirror, and founded the Space Regatta Consortium.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 30, 2016 at 7:18 pm

[LINK] “African Sunshine Can Now Be Bought and Sold on the Bond Market”

Bloomberg’s Anna Hirtenstein reports.

Africa’s off-grid solar industry has been turned into an asset class for the first time, bundling contracts for thousands of the sun-powered rooftop electricity systems to sell as bonds.

Dutch investor Oikocredit International and Persistent Energy Capital LLC, a New York-based merchant bank, jointly decided to try to replicate the U.S. model of securitizing residential solar panels. They are working with the London-based developer BBOXX Ltd.

“I worked in commercial banking in the U.S. for several years and was involved in the securitization of residential solar, specifically SolarCity,” said David ten Kroode, renewable energy manager at Oikocredit, which is based in Amersfoort, Netherlands. “We thought it was an interesting model that could be replicated in Africa.”

The International Energy Agency estimates that there are 1.2 billion people on the planet without access to energy. Off-grid power systems have been touted as an efficient way of electrifying rural areas of Africa and Asia, rather than laying expensive transmission lines to extend national grids. Rooftop solar panels can power a few lightbulbs and small appliances such as a television, fan and mobile phone charger, bringing electricity to many households for the first time.

The U.S. solar bond market has attracted about $560 million in investment, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. SolarCity was the first company to securitize a portfolio of solar leases in 2013. The second-largest U.S. solar company by market value has raised $450 million from sales of notes backed by monthly payments for its rooftop solar systems, data compiled by Bloomberg showed.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 12, 2016 at 6:11 pm