Solar Panels are Undervalued by Traditional Markets

Solar Panel School

Solar panels are getting more efficient and the cost to produce them are decreasing by the day, already solar is cheaper than coal. Yet, due to previous policies and outdated economic models the real value of solar is underappreciated. While people wake up to the reality around the economics of solar the rest of us can call attention to the non-economic benefits of switching to sustainable power generation. Things like grid resiliency, if every home has solar panels then blackouts will become a thing of the past.

“Anyone who puts up solar is being a great citizen for their neighbors and for their local utility,” Pearce said, noting that when someone puts up grid-tied solar panels, they are essentially investing in the grid itself. “Customers with solar distributed generation are making it so utility companies don’t have to make as many infrastructure investments, while at the same time solar shaves down peak demands when electricity is the most expensive.”

Pearce and Koami Soulemane Hayibo, graduate student in the Michigan Tech Open Sustainability Technology (MOST) Lab, found that grid-tied PV-owning utility customers are undercompensated in most of the U.S., as the “value of solar” eclipses both the net metering and two-tiered rates that utilities pay for solar electricity. Their results are published online now and will be printed in the March issue of Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews.

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Condos Looking to the Ground for Energy

When you think about geothermal power you may think of giant installations benefiting from the heat the earth produces; however much smaller geothermal setups exist. These smaller systems are often called geoexchanges since they cycle heat from the ground to the building above or vice versa. Small residential systems can take a long time to recoup the costs of installation and demand for these small systems keeps increasing. Larger installations for condo buildings can see positive returns very quickly due to the sheer quantity of energy those buildings need. The good news here is that more and more condos are looking to this more sustainable source of heating and cooling.

Lloyd Jacobs, general manager of FortisBC Alternative Energy Services, which has installed geothermal systems in dozens of multi-residential buildings in B.C., said there is “a huge demand” for alternative heating systems in large buildings that might have been heated by fossil fuels or baseboard heaters in the past.

Traditionally, a challenge for geothermal energy is the high cost of digging and installing the borefield — that is, the liquid-filled underground loops that store and supply the heating and cooling to the system.

But Martin Luymes, vice-president of government relations for the Heating Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada, said those upfront expenses are now offset by savings from things like lower energy and maintenance costs in as little as three to five years for large buildings.

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Another Radiative Cooling Advancement

solar

The more I learn about radiative cooling systems the cooler they get. These cooling systems absorb heat from an enclosed space and send the heat directly into outer space. It sounds like science fiction but it exists now. The heat gets converted into infrared waves and emitted upwards away from the planet where the waves pass through the atmosphere to release their heat into the coolness of space.

In experiments, the team showed that the device was able to lower the temperature inside a test unit by more than 12 °C (22 °F) under direct sunlight, and by more than 14 °C (25 °F) in a simulated nighttime test.

The mirrors are more advanced than they might sound, too. Made with 10 thin layers of silver and silicon dioxide, they’re designed to be selective in how they handle different wavelengths. They reflect the mid-infrared waves from the emitter while absorbing the visible and near-infrared waves from the sunlight. That prevents the Sun’s warmth from cancelling out the cooling effect, improving the efficiency.

As an added extra, the heat absorbed by the mirrors can be put to good use – in this test, the team used it to heat water to 60 °C (140 °F).

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Tasmania is the First Part of Australia Powered 100% by Renewables

wind turbine

When it comes to energy in Australia your first thoughts are likely to be about coal and exporting coal. Despite the amble sun hitting the country, Australia has been slow on adopting renewable energy. Except for the island of Tasmania.

The rather large island has completed the push for energy self reliance by completing a wind farm. Now people on the island have limitless power thanks to a mixture of renewable resources. With luck the conversation about energy in the country will change following the success of Tasmania.

“We have reached 100 per cent thanks to our commitment to realising Tasmania’s renewable energy potential through our nation-leading energy policies and making Tasmania attractive for industry investment, which in turn is creating jobs across the State, particularly in our regions,” Barnett said.

Tasmania has long had one of the greenest supplies of electricity in Australia, with the state’s significant hydroelectricity resources supplying the bulk of the state’s power. Tasmania’s history with hydroelectricity dates back to 1895, with the Duck Reach power plant in Launceston becoming the first publicly owned hydroelectric power station in the southern hemisphere.

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Denmark: No More Oil from the North Sea

wind turbine

The largest oil producer in the European Union has banned all new oil and gas exploration in their territory. Denmark follows France and New Zealand in the banning of new exploration for destructive and climate-altering fossil fuels (who will be next?). The end of oil as a burnable resource is inevitable, and with so many developed nations banning fossil fuel cars and resource extraction the fate of oil is secured. Let’s hope we end the use of non-renewable resources even faster than planned!

Helene Hagel from Greenpeace Denmark described the parliamentary vote as “a watershed moment” that will allow the country to “assert itself as a green frontrunner and inspire other countries to end our dependence on climate-wrecking fossil fuels”.

She said: “This is a huge victory for the climate movement and all the people who have pushed for many years to make it happen.”

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