Friday, January 30, 2015
Here Comes the Sun
Sunlight can be used to directly generate electricity by the use of photovoltaic technology. The use of solar cells or photovoltaic arrays is getting more and more acceptable as an alternative and cost efficient means of generating power.
Sunlight concentration is also another way of using solar energy. Heat is also more readily usable than the energy in sunshine. You can use it for heating a building or for cooking or even for generating electricity.
Advantages of Solar Energy / Learn 6 Real-World Ways
There are plenty of excellent reasons that equate to advantages in using solar energy. Here are some advantages in using solar energy.
1. The abundance of Solar Energy.
Even in the middle of winter each square meter of land still receives a fair amount of solar radiation. Sunlight is everywhere and the resource is practically inexhaustible. Even during cloudy days we still receive some sunlight and it is this that can be used as a renewable resource.
2. You don’t pay for sunlight.
Sunlight is totally free. There is of course the initial investment for the equipment. After the initial capital outlay you won’t be receiving a bill every month for the rest of your life from the electric utility.
3. Solar energy is getting more cost effective.
The technology for solar energy is evolving at an increasing rate. At present photovoltaic technology is still relatively expensive but the technology is improving and production is increasing. The result of this is to drive costs down. Payback times for the equipment are getting shorter and in some areas where the cost of electricity is high payback may be as short as five years.
4. Solar energy is non-polluting.
Solar energy is an excellent alternative for fossil fuels like coal and petroleum because solar energy is practically emission free while generating electricity. With solar energy the danger of further damage to the environment is minimized. The generation of electricity through solar power produces no noise. So noise pollution is also reduced.
What is solar energy?
Solar energy is, simply, energy provided by the sun. This energy is in the form of solar radiation, which makes the production of solar electricity possible.
Electricity can be produced directly from photovoltaic, PV, cells. (Photovoltaic literally means “light” and “electric.”) These cells are made from materials which exhibit the “photovoltaic effect” i.e. when sunshine hits the PV cell, the photons of light excite the electrons in the cell and cause them to flow, generating electricity.
Solar energy produces electricity when it is in demand – during the day particularly hot days when air-conditioners drive up electricity demand.
In use, solar energy produces no emissions. One megawatt hour of solar electricity offsets about 0.75 to 1 tonne of CO2.
PV panels are being used increasingly, both in the city and in remote locations, to produce electricity for households, schools and communities, and to supply power for equipment such as telecommunication and water pumps.
India is one of the sunniest countries in the world and there is huge potential for solar PV to make a significant contribution to electricity generation.
One of India’s leading solar power project developers has signed yet another landmark agreement to expand solar photovoltaic power infrastructure in the state of Rajasthan.
Azure Power recently announced that it has signed a memorandum of understanding with the government of Rajasthan to set up 1 GW of solar power capacity. While the details of this agreement remain sketchy, it is the second such agreement signed by the state government. Earlier this year, SunEdison agreed to set up 5 GW solar power capacity over a period of five years.
Large-scale expansion into Rajasthan seems natural for Azure Power, which already has a number of projects operational and under construction in the state secured through auctions in the National Solar Mission. The company recently initiated construction on 100 MW of solar PV projects it had secured under the latest auction of the National Solar Mission, which accounted for a total of 750 MW capacity.
With the total number of allocations under the first two phases of auctions, the company now has a cumulative capacity of 142 MW from the National Solar Mission — the highest by a single project developer.
Rajasthan was among the first Indian states to take up utility-scale solar power projects through a state policy. It, however, ceded ground to neighboring Gujarat as the central government absorbed the projects commissioned under the Rajasthan state solar power policy in 2009–10.
Efforts to regain the status of a leader in solar power are on now in Rajasthan, as it launched a new solar power policy and conducted its own auctions, which received highly positive response from project developers. The central government also initiated plans to set up a 4 GW ultra mega solar power project in the state. Those plans, however, seem to have been quashed by the state government — reportedly due to political reasons.
The state government has, instead, chosen to engage reputed project developers directly through the (MoU) mode. To attract developers, the state government recently made amendments to renewable energy policies and land laws.
Source: Clean Technicia
Under the Expansion, Growth and Diversification business strategy of the company, SJVN has signed a MoU with Hindustan Salt Limited to Conceptualise, Structure, Implement, Operate and Maintain the Ultra Mega Hybrid Renewable Energy (Solar & Wind) Park at Salt Pan Land in Kharaghoda, Gujarat.
This proposed park will be developed on the surplus salt pan land of Hindustan Salt Limited which has the generation capacity of 4000 MW to 5000 MW (Solar Power between 3500 - 4200 MW and Wind Power between 600-800 MW) when fully commissioned.
At the initial stage, SJVN will develop all the infrastructure facilities like roads, drainage system, power supply, water supply system, evacuation arrangement from the plot to evacuation sub-station.
The MoU was signed by SJVN CMD R P Singh and HSL CMD A K Jain at SJVN's Coordination Office, Delhi today.
On this occasion, Executive Director (BD&MS) R K Agarwal and other senior officials were also present.
Mr R P Singh informed that SJVN is already in the process of setting up a 5 MW Solar PV project in the prestigious Charnka Solar Park at Gujarat.
The project shall be established in an area of 1,00,033 sq. mtr. allotted by M/s. Gujarat Power Development Corporation Limited for this project.
On commissioning the project will generate 8.10 million units of clean and green solar energy.
In line with National Solar Mission, SJVN Limited has signed a MoU to develop and operate 4000 MW Ultra Mega Solar Project in Sambhar area of Rajasthan.
SJVN is one of the six joint venture partners having 16 per cent equity participation in the proposed mega project.
Pioneering new research could pave the way for solar energy to be converted into household electricity more cheaply than ever before. A team of experts from the University of Exeter has examined new techniques for generating photovoltaic (PV) energy - or ways in which to convert light into power - more cost efficiently.
The global PV market has experienced rapid growth in recent years due to renewable energy targets and CO2 emission controls.
Perovskite could hold the key to cheaper PV energy generation.
However, current, widely-used commercial methods employed to generate PV energy, such as using silicon or thin film based technologies, are still expensive as they are processed through vacuum-based techniques. The development of technologies and the invention of new materials could lead to the reduction of PV energy generation costs.
Now, the team of scientists from Exeter has found that one such material, a mineral called perovskite, could hold the key to cheaper PV energy generation.
Crucially, the team conducted studies with perovskite in Alta Floresta (Brazil), Frenchman Flat, (USA) , Granada (Spain), Beijing (China), Edinburgh (UK) and Solar Village (Saudi Arabia), and confirmed its efficiency in converting light to power in a range of atmospheric conditions, rather than just under direct sunlight.
The research by the team from the Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI), based at the University of Exeter's Penryn Campus in Cornwall, is published in the journal Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells.
Professor Tapas Mallick, who was involved in the research said: "This research offers the potential for significant progress to be made in finding cheaper ways to generate PV energy. The results, which show how perovskite devices work under real operating conditions, will lead to our understanding them better, which will benefit industrial-scale production processes.
Nano-electronics research center imec has announced that it has improved its large area n-type PERT (passivated emitter, rear totally diffused) crystalline silicon (Si) solar cell on 6" commercially available n-type Cz-Si wafers, now reaching a top conversion efficiency of 22.02 percent (calibrated at ISE CalLab). This is the highest efficiency achieved for this type of 2-side-contacted solar cell on an industrial large area wafer size.
Compared to p-type silicon solar cells, n-type cells do not suffer from light induced degradation and feature a higher tolerance to common metal impurities. As a result, n-type silicon solar cells are considered as promising alternatives to p-type solar cells for next generation highly efficient solar cells.
Looking into increasing the conversion efficiency of its large-area n-PERT silicon cells using advanced industrial processes, imec has further improved the conversion efficiency of its n-PERT solar cell, reaching a record 22 percent, featuring an open-circuit voltage (Voc) of 684mV, a short-circuit current (Jsc) of 39.9 mA/cm2, and 80.7 percent fill factor (FF).
Efficiency improvements were obtained by the introduction of a selective front surface field through laser doping, giving a boost in open circuit voltage and short circuit current.
"Our new developments, resulting in additional improvement of the conversion efficiency, further confirm the potential of n-type PERT cells for next-generation highly efficient silicon solar cells" said Filip Duerinckx, manager of imec's n-PERT technology platform.
"This new efficiency record has been achieved while simultaneously simplifying the process, relying only on simplified cleans and without any expensive Forming Gas Anneal (FGA). We are committed to further increasing the efficiency of this cell concept and adding to the industrial value of the technology. This will enable bringing this technology to the market in short term."
Imec's n-PERT silicon solar cells feature Ni/Cu/Ag front contacts, applied using an industrial plating tool from Meco, and rear local contacts obtained by laser ablation of the rear passivation stack and subsequent metallization.
The Asian Development Bank said Wednesday it was extending loans of up to $100 million to help India develop a solar power sector.
The bank said it would extend the loan to solar power developer ACME group, which is working with French renewable energy leaders to develop more than 350 megawatts of low-carbon energy options.
"Solar and other renewable power sources are essential for India's energy diversification and security, and for underpinning the country's long term growth," Isabelle Chauche, an investment specialist at the ADB, said in a statement. "ADB's support for ACME will help break down barriers for more private sector investment, including foreign direct investment, in clean energy infrastructure."
India rolled out a series of renewable energy plans during a weekend investment conference attended for foreign dignitaries, including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
Indian conglomerate Adani Enterprises on the sidelines of the meeting signed a $4 billion solar agreement with a U.S. solar energy services company SunEdison to produce enough solar panels to develop a sustainable green power sector in India.
Adnan Chief Executive Officer Vneet S. Jaain said India aims to become the world leader in power generation from renewable energy technologies.
The ADB said it was backing developing of solar projects in the country with a capacity to avoid more than 250,000 tons of carbon dioxide that would otherwise have been emitted from fossil fuels.
As of September, the bank said India had a total installed solar power capacity of 2,766 megawatts. The country has a target of increasing that to 22,000 MW by 2022.
Source: Solar Daily
Source: Solar Daily
A research team led by North Carolina State University has developed a new technique for determining the role that a material's structure has on the efficiency of organic solar cells, which are candidates for low-cost, next generation solar power.
The researchers have used the technique to determine that materials with a highly organized structure at the nano scale are not more efficient at creating free electrons than poorly organized structures - a finding which will help guide future research and development efforts.
"There have been a lot of studies looking at the efficiency of organic solar cells, but the energy conversion process involves multiple steps - and it's difficult to isolate the efficiency of each step," says Dr. Brendan O'Connor, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at NC State and senior author of a paper on the work. "The technique we discuss in our new paper allows us to untangle those variables and focus on one specific step - exciton dissociation efficiency."
Broadly speaking, organic solar cells convert light into electric current in four steps.
First, the cell absorbs sunlight, which excites electrons in the active layer of the cell. Each excited electron leaves behind a hole in the active layer. The electron and hole is collectively called an exciton.
In the second step, called diffusion, the exciton hops around until it encounters an interface with another organic material in the active layer. When the exciton meets this interface, you get step three: dissociation. During dissociation, the exciton breaks apart, freeing the electron and respective hole. In step four, called charge collection, the free electron makes its way through the active layer to a point where it can be harvested.
In previous organic solar cell research, there was ambiguity about whether differences in efficiency were due to dissociation or charge collection - because there was no clear method for distinguishing between the two. Was a material inefficient at dissociating excitons into free electrons? Or was the material just making it hard for free electrons to find their way out?
Thursday, January 29, 2015
As Indian policy makers announce big-ticket projects and set huge targets for solar power capacity addition, global investors smell a huge opportunity.
US-based Morgan Stanley is likely to make a big investment in the solar space soon, likely in a +100-Mw project. So are other institutional investors such as IFC and Standard Chartered. Besides, Goldman Sachs, which invested about $375 million in Sumant Sinha-promoted ReNew Power, is looking to make more such investments in noted or upcoming companies in the clean energy space.
Solar power in India is about to see a massive scale-up of 100,000 Mw. MNRE has got the mandate from the prime minister to achieve this goal by 2019.
If the plan of adding 100,000 Mw of solar power hits the ground, India would need investment to the tune of around $110 billion, including transmission capacity, according to government calculations.
“All of this could not come from domestic investors alone. More than half of this amount, or even more, will come from outside India. The big-ticket announcements by the Indian government has made serious investors sit up and take notice,” said Vinay Rustogi, managing director, Bridge to India, a leading consultancy firm monitoring foreign investment in India’s renewable energy space. Of the $15-20 billion that the country will need annually, around $6 billion is likely to come from foreign investors.
On the manufacturing and power production side, at least 10 big Chinese solar companies are looking to set up joint ventures in India. Senior officials in the Madhya Pradesh government said talks with a Chinese solar cell manufacturer to set up a facility in the state were in the last stage.
As the euphoria around US President Barack Obama's visit ebbs, the fine print of the investment announcements reveal a financial boost for American solar energy companies to increase their exports to India.
Of the investments announced by the US federal agencies in the clean energy space, most are institutional loan for US solar companies, aimed at increasing their export to the growing renewable energy (RE) market India, especially solar power. The $1-billion loan agreement that the US Exim banksigned with Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (Ireda), would be extended to US solar cell manufacturing companies that will export to India, said Indian government officials.
"The push has been given to US solar companies already selling or planning to sell in India to expand their presence through either exports or manufacturing," said a senior official.
Currently, only Sun Edison and First Solar are the two major American companies with operations in India.
The cost of solar cells globally has been on a decline owing to over-capacity in the developed markets and demand from Asian countries including India. US solar cell prices have come down to $0.6 a watt in 2014 from $0.75 a watt a year before. Even the Chinese module price has come down sharply to $0.5 per watt. For those expecting a concessional rate of interest from the US, there isn't any.
A loan offered by the US Exim, along with Ireda, would fall in the same bracket of 10-12 per cent as offered by other domestic lending institutions.
"US Exim offers a loan at four per cent but the hedging cost is as high as eight per cent. Ireda would charge an additional two per cent. It's at par with Indian agencies funding to RE projects. Unlike German state bank KfW or Asian Development Bank and World Bank, the US agencies do not fund projects. In short, this is an impetus to US solar business in India," said a senior executive tracking the US-India energy deals. While the country aims to add around 4,500 Mw of solar power capacity during the current financial year, the manufacturing capacity is only 1,500 Mw. The central government has recently revised targets for solar and wind energy capacity addition. While solar power capacity addition has been revised to 1,00,000 Mw and wind power generation target is 60,000 Mw, both by 2022.
(Reuters) - Indian conglomerate Mahindra Group plans to expand its renewable energy business and invest 45 billion rupees ($732.5 million) over the next three to four years, its chairman said, amid a government-led push to increase the use of clean energy.
The investment will mainly be financed by taking on 33 billion rupees in debt, with the rest funded through cash, Chairman and Managing Director Anand Mahindra told Reuters.
Anand Mahindra, chairman and managing director of Mahindra & Mahindra, attends the India Economic Summit 2014 at the World Economic Forum in New Delhi November 5, 2014.
The group also plans to commission 500 megawatts (MW) of solar power projects by the end of March 2016 from 180 MW it expects to complete by end-March this year, he added.
"The (renewable energy) business is going to boom this year. It is a very attractive investment right now," Mahindra said on Sunday.
The renewable energy unit, which builds solar power projects and offers off-grid power solutions, was formed in 2011 and is currently one of the smaller businesses of the $17 billion autos-to-technology conglomerate.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has ramped up his target for solar energy by 33 times to 100,000 megawatts (MW) by 2022 as he bets on renewables to help meet rising power demand and overcome the frequent outages that plague Asia's third largest economy.
Modi says India needs $200 billion - half of it from foreign companies - to meet its target and U.S. President Barack Obama pledged on Sunday during a visit to India to support this ambitious goal through additional funding.
LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A new generation of solar panels made from a mineral called perovskite has the potential to convert solar energy into household electricity more cheaply than ever before, according to a study from Briain's Exeter University.
Super-thin, custom-coloured panels attached to a building's windows may become a "holy grail" for India and African countries, Senthilarasu Sundaram, one of the authors of the study, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
"In those countries these types of material will be like a holy grail: they can both shade windows ... and at the same time produce electricity," he said.
With a thickness measured in billionths of a metre, solar panels made of perovskite will be more than 40 percent cheaper and 50 percent more efficient than those commercially produced today, Sundaram said.
Unlike other solar panels, those made of perovskite can absorb most of the solar spectrum and work in various atmospheric conditions, rather than only in direct sunlight.
"This type of material for solar cells works in diffused conditions much, much better than the other types of solar cells," said Sundaram. "It won't be 100 percent, but it will be much more than what we have now."
Researchers have already tested the material in the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
Current commercial products used to generate solar power, such as silicon or thin-film based technologies, are expensive because they are processed using vacuum-based techniques, the Exeter study said.
The production process for perovskite panels is very straightforward, but researchers still have to test the material under different conditions to better understand its properties, before companies embark on industrial-scale production, it said.
VADODARA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - As India moves to ramp up investment in solar power, it is exploring innovative places to install solar plants, including across the top of canals.
Last weekend, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon inaugurated a new "canal-top" solar energy plant in Vadodara district in India's western state of Gujarat.
"I saw more than glittering panels – I saw the future of India and the future of our world," said Ban. "I saw India's bright creativity, ingenuity and cutting-edge technology."
Experts identify two major advantages in building solar plants atop canals: efficient and cheap land use, and reduced water evaporation from the channels underneath.
Earlier this month, India showed it is serious about expanding energy production from renewable sources. Prime Minister Narendra Modi upped the country's investment target for solar alone to $100 billion, saying India would scale up solar power to over 10 percent of its total energy mix by 2022.
As part of that effort, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy plans to create 100 megawatts (MW) of capacity from grid-connected solar photovoltaic (PV) power plants built on top of canals and on their banks by the end of the government's latest Five Year Plan in 2017.
The ministry will subsidise 30 percent of estimated expenditure of $154 million to construct facilities to meet the canal-top goal.
The 10 MW plant on the outskirts of Vadodara city, which began generating power in November, is built across 3.6 km of irrigation canal, and has 33,800 solar panels mounted on steel scaffolding.
FRANKFURT Jan 28 (Reuters) - Germany is to open a first auction of land for solar power installations from next month as it seeks to bring renewable energy into the wholesale power market, away from a costly era of subsidies.
The cabinet on Wednesday agreed rules for a pilot project to auction open spaces for the deployment of 1.2 gigawatts (GW) of installed photovoltaic capacity over the next three years.
"We are creating the basis for a competitive promotion of renewable energies," Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said in a statement.
The number is small given that total solar capacity already totals well over 35 GW but if the move is successful, from 2017 onwards, other renewables such as wind power could be brought into similar schemes.
The system agreed on Wednesday entails the energy regulator, the Bundesnetzagentur, collecting offers up to April 15 to award permits to build 500 MW of solar in 2015, 400 MW in 2016 and 300 MW in 2017.
The bidders with the lowest possible price proposals for the power to be produced on the land will win. The power would have to marketed at that price, which would replace the current system of 20-year guaranteed state hand-outs.
As free land is scarce, the government also plans to provide some 1,000 hectares of federal land in 2016 and 2017 for the purpose and also include some land that has been defined as unsuitable for farming.
The government is partly acting under the watchful eye of Brussels which last year stepped up pressure on Berlin over the generous subsidies that have turned Germany into a champion of wind and solar, but cost taxpayers dearly and undermined trading in the wholesale market for thermal power.
The government in a law last August pledged that renewable operators will be increasingly asked to face commercial risks, such as dealing with trading and infrastructure costs, supply shortages and lack of storage for electricity.
It curbed direct incentives and set caps on the expansion of green power.
The BSW solar industry lobby said the latest move was "bureaucratic and its success uncertain". The capacity to be auctioned was too small, given that an annual expansion of solar power of 7.5 GW is allowed. (Reporting by Vera Eckert and Markus Wacket; Editing by Michael Urquhart)
Source: Reuters Africa