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Floatovoltaics Enable Solar Energy Expansion

100 MW Floating PV Power Plant Project in Huancheng Town, Weishan County, Jining City, Shandong Province (Photo courtesy Sungrow Power) Posted for media use

100 MW Floating PV Power Plant Project in Huancheng Town, Weishan County, Jining City, Shandong Province (Photo courtesy Sungrow Power) Posted for media use

By Sunny Lewis

WASHINGTON, DC, November 1, 2018 (Maximpact.com News) – Floating solar photovoltaic panels on the surfaces of lakes, hydropower and agricultural reservoirs, industrial ponds, and near-coastal areas is one of today’s fastest-growing renewable energy technologies.

The floating of solar arrays on water relieves the pressure on scarce, densely populated lands and can be used to repurpose mining reclamation areas. The technology opens new horizons to scale up solar power globally.

The total installed floating solar power in 2018 is foreseen to be near one gigawatt, enough energy to power about 700,000 homes.

Floating solar is especially attractive to fast-growing Asian economies. Interest is growing in the region, and large plants are being installed or planned in China, India and Southeast Asia, finds a newly published market report from the World Bank Group and the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore.

This first-of-its-kind market report estimates the global potential of floating solar to be 400 gigawatts –  a figure roughly equal to the total capacity of all solar photovoltaic (PV) installations worldwide at the end of 2017.

In India the first floating PV plant of 10 KW was installed in a lake in Kolkata in 2014. More recently a 100 KW floating solar power plant was installed in NTPC Kayamkulam in the state of Kerala, which is the largest such system in India.

The floating platform was developed in India by the joint efforts of a private company, NTPC Energy Technology Research Alliance, and the government of India’s Central Institute of Plastic Engineering and Technology.

The NB Institute of Rural Technology headed by Gon Chaudhuri reports that around 300 GW of solar power could be generated by tapping just 10 to 15 percent of the water bodies in India. The Institute identifies the states of Bengal, Bihar, Kerala, Odisha and Assam as those with the greatest floating solar potential.

In May, the Chinese company Sungrow completed installation of a 100 MW capacity floating solar array in the Erlonggang mining subsidence area in Huancheng Town, Weishan County, Jining City, Shandong Province.

Now the Chinese company Sungrow is building a 150 MW floating PV power plant project in the mining subsidence area of Guqiao Town, Fengtai County, Huainan City, Anhui Province.

In August, South Korea completed world’s first floating solar power plant that tracks sunlight. The 1,600 solar voltaic modules installed on a floating deck go round and round, following the Sun’s movements throughout the day while the array floats on a reservoir in Gyeonggi-do Province.

Since the floating modules can collect sunlight reflected off water, developers say this type of floating solar plant can generate more power than ground-based systems.

The Water Resources Corporation in Korea found that floating PV systems generate 11 percent more energy than equivalent land-based systems.

 Artist’s impression of Kyocera’s Yamakura dam power plant in Japan. (Photo courtesy Kyocera Corp.) Posted for media use

Artist’s impression of Kyocera’s Yamakura dam power plant in Japan. (Photo courtesy Kyocera Corp.) Posted for media use

One supplier of floating PV systems has claimed that water losses could be reduced to as much as 70 percent and makes a good case for these systems. Besides preventing water losses, the modules and the floats anchoring them reduce the photo-synthesis process that promotes algae and other organic growth. This is particularly of interest to water utility companies as it reduces the water treatment and labor costs. Also as large power consumers, utilizing the water surface to generate electricity help them save on their energy cost.

The modules in floating systems operate under a much cooler environment reducing thermal losses and also heat induced degradation. Dust collection issues would be minimal, leading to enhanced power generation and reduced cleaning frequency.

The Chinese firm Trina Solar announced on October 31 that it has supplied 17MW of PV modules to the largest floating PV plant in Europe. The O’MEGA 1 PV project has been developed by Akuo Energy, France’s leading independent producer of renewable energy.

Once operational, the plant located in Piolenc (Vaucluse) will produce 100 percent renewable energy covering the consumption of more than 4,700 households. The plant is spread over a 17-hectare property and will avoid the emission of roughly 11,100 tons of CO2 per year.

In the UK, water company United Utilities started work last year on a floating solar farm on a Greater Manchester reservoir, which will be Europe’s largest once complete next year.

Some challenges persist – the lack of a long-standing track record, the possible effects on water quality, the costs and complications of anchoring and mooring the installations, and the relative complexity of maintaining the electrical components of the floating solar arrays.

Despite being land neutral, the cost of the floating systems including anchoring, installation, maintenance and transmission renders the overall cost of the floating solar systems as much higher than land-based systems at this initial stage of development.

Yet the benefits are clear. In some cases, floating solar allows for power generation to be sited much closer to areas where demand for electricity is high.

Floating solar complements existing hydropower infrastructure, the World Bank report points out.

“At some large hydropower plants, only three to four percent of the reservoir would need to be covered with floating solar panels to double the electricity generation capacity of the dam,” the report calculates.

Combining hydropower and solar power outputs can smooth the variable nature of solar power and help manage periods of low water availability by using solar capacity first and drawing on hydropower at night or during peak demand.

In agricultural reservoirs, the solar panels can reduce evaporation, improve water quality, and serve as an energy source for pumping and irrigation, the report points out.

According to the report, “While up-front costs are slightly higher than siting solar arrays on land, the costs over time of floating solar are at par with traditional solar PV, because of floating solar’s higher energy yield due to the cooling effect of water.”

Japan has several floating solar farms built as part of the country’s drive to generate more renewable energy after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear meltdown. The shutdown of nuclear plants has seen Japan increasingly reliant on fossil fuel imports. Floating solar arrays can help shoulder the energy-generating burden.

Featured Image: 150 MW Floating PV Power Plant Project in Mining Subsidence Area of Guqiao Town, Fengtai County, China (Photo courtesy Sungrow Power) Posted for media use


Greenest Big Companies Go 100% Renewable

Solar panels cover the roof of Sony's Jimmy Stewart Building in Culver City, California, 2018 (Photo courtesy Sony Pictures) Posted for media use.

Solar panels cover the roof of Sony’s Jimmy Stewart Building in Culver City, California, 2018 (Photo courtesy Sony Pictures) Posted for media use.

By Sunny Lewis

CUPERTINO, California, October 17, 2018 (Maximpact.com News) – Not every company, of course, but increasing numbers of corporations, led by some of the world’s largest tech firms, are taking responsibility to protect people and planet with renewable energy and other forms of low-carbon development.

As part of its commitment to combat climate change and create a healthier environment, Apple announced in April that its global facilities are powered with 100 percent clean energy. This achievement includes retail stores, offices, data centers and co-located facilities in 43 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, China and India.

The company also announced nine additional manufacturing partners have committed to power all of their Apple production with 100 percent clean energy, bringing the total number of supplier commitments to 23.

“We’re committed to leaving the world better than we found it. After years of hard work we’re proud to have reached this significant milestone,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO.

Apple currently has 25 operational renewable energy projects around the world, totaling 626 megawatts of generation capacity, with 286 megawatts of solar PV generation coming online in 2017, its most ever in one year.

The company has 15 more renewable projects under construction. Once built, over 1.4 gigawatts of renewable energy generation will be spread across 11 countries.

Cook said, “We’re going to keep pushing the boundaries of what is possible with the materials in our products, the way we recycle them, our facilities and our work with suppliers to establish new creative and forward-looking sources of renewable energy because we know the future depends on it.”

Just days ago, a little further north, T-Mobile signed on to Puget Sound Energy’s Green Direct program, giving the communications giant access to a blend of local wind and solar renewable energy sources. Relying on these sources, T-Mobile plans to power its Bellevue, Washington, headquarters with 100% renewable energy by 2021.

“At T-Mobile, we really mean it when we say we’re going to clean up wireless for good … and in this case that means cleaning up our impact on the planet by making a BIG commitment to renewable energy,” said John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile.

“We’ve put a stake in the ground to go 100% renewable by 2021,” he said, “because it’s the right thing to do and it’s smart business.”

The wireless company has been commended by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Center for Resource Solutions for its industry-leading green energy initiatives.

“T-Mobile’s choosing green power because it makes sense for the planet and for our customers – plus it’s helping grow America’s green energy market big-time,” said Legere. “I’m incredibly proud of our team for earning recognition for their hard work – but there’s lots more to be done and you can be sure, we won’t stop!”

The move will help T-Mobile save millions of dollars in energy costs, while also putting it one step closer to its RE100 clean energy commitment to use 100% renewable energy across the entire company by 2021.

RE100

Businesses like the benefits of saving on energy costs, and so RE100 was officially launched in New York City at Climate Week NYC 2014.

Today, it’s a global, collaborative initiative of influential businesses committed to using 100% renewable electricity. RE100 members are companies large and small with operations all over the world, spanning a wide range of sectors, from telecommunications and IT to cement and automobile manufacturing.

RE100 shares the compelling business case for renewables and showcases business action, while working with others to address barriers.

Companies gain a better understanding of the advantages of going 100% renewable, and benefit from peer-to-peer learning and technical guidance, as well as greater public recognition of their ambitions and achievements as they work towards their goals.

RE100 is organized by The Climate Group in partnership with the Carbon Disclosure Project, or CDP as it is known today, as part of the We Mean Business coalition. The organizers believe it will accelerate the transformation of the global energy market and aid the transition toward a net-zero economy.

Sony Promises to Go 100% Renewable by 2030

RE100 member Sony  has brought forward its target year for reaching 100% renewable electricity in the United States to 2030.

Sony joined RE100 in September with a goal of going 100% renewable globally by 2040. By setting an earlier target for its US operations, the tech giant is demonstrating it is possible for businesses to go further and faster.

Sam Kimmins, head of RE100, The Climate Group , welcomed the news, coming as it does right after a new report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) showing that limiting global warming to 1.5°C will require rapid and profound transitions in energy systems everywhere.

“In a week when scientists are telling us we need to do more to keep global warming under 1.5 degrees Celsius, you couldn’t have a more powerful message than one of the world’s largest electronics and entertainment companies stepping up the pace on climate action,” said Kimmins.

“This shows the business community what can be done, and we encourage all major companies to follow suit,” he said.

Executive Vice President with the Sony Corporation of America Mark Khalil said, “Our commitment to achieve 100% renewable electricity usage in the North American region by 2030 is a step toward our global goal. By joining RE100 and establishing global and regional targets, we hope to accelerate the usage of renewable electricity at Sony and inspire other companies to do the same.”

In 2001, Sony Pictures Studios (SPS) was certified under the international environmental standard ISO 14001 and has maintained and expanded it each year since, the first and only major studio to do so.

Sony installed solar photovoltaic cells on the roof of its Jimmy Stewart Building and is using 100 percent renewable energy in its Arizona data center. Combined, this will reduce the company’s carbon footprint by  1,000 tons over three years.

Sony Pictures Entertainment renovated and expanded the Central Plant on the Studio Lot to incorporate additional buildings in this efficient HVAC loop. This has avoided 550 tons of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) annually.

L'Oreal products get sustainable packaging treatment, April 30, 2017. (Photo by Maria Martinez Dukan) Creative Commons license via Flickr.

L’Oreal products get sustainable packaging treatment, April 30, 2017. (Photo by Maria Martinez Dukan) Creative Commons license via Flickr.

Greener French Cosmetics

L’Oréal S.A., the French cosmetics company headquartered in Clichy, Hauts-de-Seine with a registered office in Paris, is the world’s largest cosmetics company. Hair color, skin care, sun protection, make-up, perfume and hair care – L’Oréal makes and markets them all.

It was also “Newsweek” magazine’s #1 ranked Green Company last year, a ranking based partly on L’Oréal’s sustainable packaging policy.

“Today, for certain products, up to 100% of the plastic used in our packaging has been recycled,” says Philippe Thuvien, managing director of packaging and development at the L’Oréal Group, referring to the bottles of new shampoos from the Redken, Kiehl’s and Pureology brands.”

“In total, the amount of recycled plastic in our packaging increased by 33% in 2017,” said Thuvien.

“As an industry leader invested in the future of sustainable packaging,” he said, “the Group has been working with a specialist environmental consultancy, Quantis, to launch the Sustainable Packaging Initiative for Cosmetics (SPICE), which is designed to help the industry commit to more responsible packaging and improve the environmental performance of the entire packaging value chain.”

Unilever Adores Animals

Unilever, the British-Dutch transnational company, the world’s largest consumer goods firm, says that on any given day, “2.5 billion people use Unilever products to feel good, look good and get more out of life – giving us a unique opportunity to build a brighter future.”

Earlier this month Unilever announced its support for a global ban on animal testing for cosmetics as part of an ambitious new collaboration with the animal protection nonprofit Humane Society International.

David Blanchard, chief research and development officer at Unilever, explained, “Animal testing for cosmetics has been banned in the EU since 2013, and we hope that an adoption of similar bans in other countries will accelerate the regulatory acceptance of alternative approaches and thereby remove any requirements for any animal testing for cosmetics anywhere in the world.”

Unilever will support HSI’s global #BeCrueltyFree initiative, which is leading legislative reform in key beauty markets to prohibit cosmetic animal testing and trade, consistent with EU model.

Dove, Unilever’s largest beauty and personal care brand, has gained accreditation by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Dove’s cruelty-free status recognizes the brand’s commitment to not conduct any tests on animals anywhere in the world. PETA’s cruelty-free logo will begin to appear on Dove packaging from January 2019.

We want to play our part in tackling climate change and reduce the depletion of natural resources. It makes business sense to reduce our risk by securing sustainable sources of supply for raw materials, to cut costs through reducing packaging materials and higher manufacturing efficiencies, and to appeal to more consumers with sustainable, purpose-led brands.

The company said in a statement, “In 2017, our factory sites reduced CO2 emissions from energy by 47% per tonne of production compared to 2008. We have also increased our use of renewable energy within our manufacturing; in 2017, this increased to 33.6% compared to 15.8% in 2008. Additionally, 65% of all grid electricity used in our manufacturing operations was generated from renewable resources.”

Unilever has pledged to source 100% of its total energy from renewable sources by 2030.

Yet, all does not run smoothly, even in companies with the best of intentions. Unilever said in September that the greenhouse gas impact of its products has risen by 9% since 2010. Underlying sales growth over the same period was 33.1%, so, the company said, “…it is encouraging to see that we are decoupling our value chain greenhouse gas  impacts from our business growth.”

Featured Image: Apple’s new headquarters in Cupertino is powered by 100 percent renewable energy, in part from a 17-megawatt onsite rooftop solar installation. (Photo courtesy Apple) Posted for media use


Solar, Wind Power Create Hotter, Greener Deserts

Morocco’s Noor-Ouarzazate Solar complex hosts the launch of the World Bank Middle East and North Africa Concentrated Solar Power Knowledge and Innovation Program. March 8, 2017 (Photo by Michael Taylor / IRENA) Creative Commons license via Flickr

Morocco’s Noor-Ouarzazate Solar complex hosts the launch of the World Bank Middle East and North Africa Concentrated Solar Power Knowledge and Innovation Program. March 8, 2017 (Photo by Michael Taylor / IRENA) Creative Commons license via Flickr

By Sunny Lewis

CHAMPAIGN, Illinois, September 6, 2018 (Maximpact.com News) – Wind and solar farms are known to have local effects on heat and humidity in the regions where they are situated. A new climate-modeling study finds that a massive wind and solar installation in the Sahara Desert and neighboring Sahel would increase local temperature, precipitation and vegetation. Overall, the researchers report, the effects would likely benefit the region.

The study, “Climate model shows large-scale wind and solar farms in the Sahara increase rain and vegetation,” reported in the journal Science, is among the first to model the climate effects of wind and solar installations while taking into account how vegetation responds to changes in heat and precipitation.

Lead author Yan Li, a postdoctoral researcher in natural resources and environmental sciences at the University of Illinois, said, “Previous modeling studies have shown that large-scale wind and solar farms can produce significant climate change at continental scales. But the lack of vegetation feedbacks could make the modeled climate impacts very different from their actual behavior.”

The new study, co-led with Eugenia Kalnay and Safa Motesharrei at the University of Maryland, focused on the Sahara for several reasons, Li said.

“We chose it because it is the largest desert in the world; it is sparsely inhabited; it is highly sensitive to land changes; and it is in Africa and close to Europe and the Middle East, all of which have large and growing energy demands,” he said.

The Sahara is the largest hot desert and the third largest desert in the world after Antarctica and the Arctic. Its area of 9,200,000 square kilometres (3,600,000 sq mi) is comparable to the area of China or the United States.

The Berber people occupy much of the Sahara, and Tuareg nomads continue to inhabit and move across wide stretches of the Sahara today.

The wind and solar farms simulated in the study would cover more than nine million square kilometers and generate, on average, about three terawatts and 79 terawatts of electrical power, respectively.

“In 2017, the global energy demand was only 18 terawatts, so this is obviously much more energy than is currently needed worldwide,” Li said.

The model revealed that wind farms caused regional warming of near-surface air temperature, with greater changes in minimum temperatures than maximum temperatures.

“The greater nighttime warming takes place because wind turbines can enhance the vertical mixing and bring down warmer air from above,” the authors wrote.

Precipitation also increased as much as 0.25 millimeters per day on average in regions with wind farm installations.

“This was a doubling of precipitation over that seen in the control experiments,” Li said.

In the Sahel, average rainfall increased 1.12 millimeters per day where wind farms were present.

“This increase in precipitation, in turn, leads to an increase in vegetation cover, creating a positive feedback loop,” Li said.

Solar farms had a similar positive effect on temperature and precipitation, the team found. Unlike the wind farms, the solar arrays had very little effect on wind speed.

“We found that the large-scale installation of solar and wind farms can bring more rainfall and promote vegetation growth in these regions,” Kalnay said. “The rainfall increase is a consequence of complex land-atmosphere interactions that occur because solar panels and wind turbines create rougher and darker land surfaces.”

And the development of solar power in the northern Sahara Desert has already begun on the dunes below Morocco’s sun-scorched High Atlas mountains.

Thousands of curved mirrors, each taller than a human, stand in rows as part of the Noor solar-power generating plant that is changing how the African continent produces its electricity.

The mirrors cover an area of roughly 1.4 million square metres. The first phase of this plant, which came online in 2016, generated enough electricity to supply 650,000 people.

By 2020, or possibly sooner, the US$9 billion solar power plant is expected to generate 580 megawatts (MW), enough electricity to power over a million homes.

It’s a game-changer for Morocco, a country that until recently imported 97 percent of its energy. In the near future, Morocco aims to become an exporter of power supplies to Europe, elsewhere on the African continent and the wider Arab-speaking world.

And the environmental effects of the solar installation are likely to benefit the region where it is located.

“The increase in rainfall and vegetation, combined with clean electricity as a result of solar and wind energy, could help agriculture, economic development and social well-being in the Sahara, Sahel, Middle East and other nearby regions,” Motesharrei said.

That help is much needed. According to a study published in March in the “Journal of Climate,” the Sahara Desert has grown by roughly 10 percent over the past century.

A research team from the University of Maryland analyzed data collected since 1923 and concluded that while the greatest causal factor of the growth of the desert that is roughly the size of the United States is due to naturally-occurring changes, a third of the expansion can be linked directly to climate change.

The expansion is not good news, particularly for inhabitants of the neighboring Sahel border region, as the increased heat changes fertile farmlands to dry, barren land.

This is the first study to take a century-long look at the world’s largest desert. The authors suggest other deserts may be expanding as well because of global warming.

“Our results are specific to the Sahara, but they likely have implications for the world’s other deserts,” Sumant Nigam, senior author of the study and professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences at University of Maryland, said in a statement.

The Sahara Desert expanded over the 20th century, by 11 percent to 18 percent depending on the season, and by 10 percent when defined using annual rainfall.

The desert expanded southward in summer, reflecting retreat of the northern edge of the Sahel rainfall belt, and to the north in winter, indicating potential impact of the widening of the tropics.

The evaluation shows that modeling regional hydroclimate change over the African continent remains challenging, warranting caution in the development of adaptation and mitigation strategies.

The study points to far-reaching implications for the future of the Sahara and other subtropical deserts like it. With inadequate rainfall to support crops, there will be “devastating consequences” for the world’s growing population, the scientists said.

Natalie Thomas, a graduate student in atmospheric and oceanic science at University of Maryland and lead author of the research paper, said the next step for the team is to look at the rainfall and temperature trends that are driving the expansion of the Sahara and other deserts.

“The trends in Africa of hot summers getting hotter and rainy seasons drying out are linked with factors that include increasing greenhouse gases and aerosols in the atmosphere,” said Ming Cai, a program director in the National Science Foundation’s Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences, which funded the research on the Sahara Desert. “These trends also have a devastating effect on the lives of African people, who depend on agriculture-based economies.”

Featured Images:  A traveler walks the Erg Chebbi dunes at sunset in Morocco’s part of the Sahara Desert. October 8, 2017 (Photo by Brian Geltner) Creative Commons license via Flickr


Fund_NGO

Egypt Funded for Africa’s Largest Solar Array

Solar panels at the 3rd project in Aswan province under the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development's Egypt Renewable Energy Framework (Photo courtesy EBRD) Posted for media use

Solar panels at the 3rd project in Aswan province under the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s Egypt Renewable Energy Framework (Photo courtesy EBRD) Posted for media use

By Sunny Lewis

LONDON, UK, November 9, 2017 (Maximpact.com News) – The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the International Solar Alliance (ISA) have agreed that they will strengthen their cooperation to mobilize green energy financing.

The ISA is an alliance of more than 121 countries, most of them sunshine countries, which lie completely or partly between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.

A joint declaration to promote solar energy in the countries where both organizations operate, was signed November 2 in New Delhi by Nandita Parshad, the EBRD’s managing director for energy and natural resources, and the ISA’s interim Director General Upendra Tripathy.

The ceremony was attended by Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitely and visiting EBRD President Sir Suma Chakrabarti.

Signing the declaration, the EBRD President said the bank has always been eager to share its expertise with new partners and also to learn from them. “With the ISA,” he said, “we share the vision of sustainable development and of green energy, which ultimately benefits the global economy.”

During a panel discussion at the Prabodhan Leaders’ Conclave, entitled “Smart Cities: what can India learn and unlearn from Europe?” Sir Suma presented the bank’s work to modernize urban infrastructure in the 38 emerging economies where the multilateral development bank invests.

Under its Green Energy Transition approach, launched in 2015, the EBRD seeks to increase the volume of green financing from an average of 24 percent of its annual business investment in the 10 years up to 2016 to 40 percent by 2020.

To date, the EBRD has invested more than €3.7 billion directly in renewable energy, supporting 111 projects in 23 countries and funding more than 5.7 GW of generating capacity.

For instance, the bank has set its course to help build the largest solar installation in Africa near a village in the Aswan governate in the sunny land of Egypt.

The EBRD, the Green Climate Fund  and the Dutch Development Bank (FMO) are supporting the expansion of renewable energy in Egypt with a US$87 million syndicated loan to Infinity Solar Energy SAE, an Egyptian renewable energy developer, and to ib vogt GmbH, an international solar developer based in Germany.

The funds will be used to construct and operate two solar photovoltaic power plants located at the Benban solar complex in Egypt’s southern governorate of Aswan.

There, the country’s first solar power complex is being built on an area of 14.4 square miles in Benban village.

The land for the Benban solar development complex was dedicated to the state-run New and Renewable Energy Authority (NREA) by presidential decree in 2014.

The NREA divided the site into 41 plots and made them available to developers and companies to carry out individual projects. The Benban complex consists of 41 solar power plants with a total capacity of 1.8 GW.

The project began in 2015 and is expected to be complete by 2018 with an investment worth 40 billion Egyptian pounds (US$2.26 billion).

Benben is expected to be one of the largest solar generation facilities in the world, certainly the largest solar installation in Africa, with a planned total capacity of 1.8 GW.

The village of Benben takes its name from the Benben Stone, one of the most important of the Egyptian religious symbols. The sun temple, located in the city of Heliopolis, Egypt, was dedicated to the solar deity Ra, and housed the sacred Benben Stone.

A pyramid-shaped capstone on top of an obelisk, the discovery of the Benben Stone led to the construction of the famous Egyptian pyramids. The Benben stone was discovered in the Temple of the Phoenix. It is a symbol of this bird with red and golden feathers that sheltered in the Tree of Life and had the power to be reborn.

The two EBRD solar plants at Benben will be built by Alfanar Energy, a Saudi-based construction and electric manufacturing company.

Each development will be funded through loans of US$87 million under an A/B structure, comprising EBRD A Loans of US$58 million, of which US$44 million will be from the Bank’s own account and US$14 million from the Green Climate Fund. FMO will provide B Loans of US$29 million.

The investment is part of the EBRD’s US$500 million framework for renewable energy in Egypt, adopted by the bank’s Board of Directors earlier this year. The framework focuses on developing Egypt’s potential in renewables and strengthening private sector involvement in the power and energy sector.

The EBRD loan will be complemented by a parallel loan of up to US$28.5 million from the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) , the private sector arm of the Islamic Development Bank.

The project is expected to abate up to 100,000 tons of CO2-equivalent every year, supporting Egypt’s emission reduction targets under the Paris Climate Agreement, as well as promoting sustainable energy development and private sector participation in the country’s energy landscape.

Sabah Mohammed Al Mutlaq, chairman of Alfa Solar and vice-chairman of Alfanar Group, commented, “Globally, countries are experiencing the effects of climate change and renewable energy investors and financier’s role is vital to cultivate more investment in the region for green energy and scale down the effects of global warming.”

“This partnership will assist the socio-economic development in Benban by providing local population with infrastructure, job creation and skills training. The region has tremendous potential when generating power from the natural resources, and Alfanar will continue to actively consider venturing with ICD for additional renewable technology projects in solar, wind as well as energy from waste.”

Support for the EBRD framework is provided by the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean (SEMED) Energy Efficiency Policy Dialogue Framework, funded by the European Union’s Neighbourhood Investment Facility, and the SEMED Multi-Donor Account.

The Green Climate Fund is picking up the pace in implementing its project portfolio, and has now reached the milestone of $100 million in project disbursements, GCF officials say.

Ayaan Adam, private sector facility director for the Green Climate Fund, said, “This first investment with the EBRD under our Egypt Renewable Energy Financing Framework project is a big step forward. It shows the potential for public and private climate finance to drive the transition to low-emission energy in support of Egypt’s climate goals.”

Once the Benben solar power plants are completed, the energy generated will be connected to the national grid and then distributed across the country. Officials estimate the whole Benben project’s generated power to equal 90 percent of the electricity generated by Egypt’s Aswan High Dam.

Egypt aims to increase its use of renewable energy to 22 percent by 2020, the country’s Investment and International Cooperation Minister Sahar Nasr said during a corporate meeting in Cairo in April.

Egypt is a founding member of the EBRD and has been receiving funding since 2012. To date, the bank has invested €2.7 billion in 51 projects in the country.

The EBRD strives to be ahead of the field in green investment. Together with the Green Climate Fund, the bank signed an agreement on cooperation in April 2017 that cements the EBRD’s position as the largest single recipient of Green Climate Fund resources and paves the way for more joint projects aimed at combating climate change in the bank’s regions. In October 2016 the Green Climate Fund decided to allocate US$378 million to support green investments by the EBRD.

International institutional interest in solar has helped some 30 companies close on power plants in Benben, “African Review” reports.

The International Finance Corporation has been among the international finance institutions to dish out some of the US$1.8 billion pledged to the Benban solar complex, helping companies in the project reach financial close.

The UK government announced it would be taking part in the IFC’s debt package through the state-owned CDC Group, which is investing US$97 million in the complex.

Meanwhile, the African Development Bank’s infrastructure fund for Africa, Africa50, signed financing documentation with Scatec Solar and Norfund for developing 400 MW in solar plants in Benban by contributing equity and leveraging total funding of close to US$450 million.

Featured Image: Benben stone from the Pyramid of Amenemhat III, 12th Dynasty. Egyptian Museum, Cairo. (Photo by Jon Bodsworth courtesy Wikipedia) Creative Commons license


EU Pours Millions Into Circular, Low-carbon Economy

BIPVFrance


A building integrated solar array at the Gare de Perpignan, Southern France. Part of the railway station was decorated in the style of Salvador Dalí, who proclaimed it to be the “Center of the Universe” after experiencing a vision of cosmogonic ecstasy there in 1963. (Photo by Issolsa via Wikipedia) Creative Commons license.

BRUSSELS, Belgium, October 10, 2017 (Maximpact.com  News) – Integrating solar panels into the glass facades of buildings could improve their energy performance to meet EU targets, as the buildings become a whole new source of renewable energy. A demonstration project will generate clean energy through building integrated photovoltaic facades fitted on refurbished and new buildings in Belgium and Spain, the final stage before market launch of the technology.

This is just one of 139 projects (Europa Press Release) soon to be funded by the European Commission as part of an investment package of €222 million to support Europe’s transition to more sustainable and low-carbon future under the LIFE programme for the Environment and Climate Action.

LIFE experts expect the solar panels to reduce the buildings’ carbon dioxide emissions by roughly 34 percent. The project will be coordinated by AGC Glass Europe, based in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium.

Besides being a nice chunk of change all by itself, the EU funding will mobilize additional investments leading to a total of €379 million going to fund 139 new projects in 20 EU Member States.

“In its 25th year, the LIFE program continues to invest in innovative projects with high added value for people, businesses and nature. I am delighted to see that the program transforms close-to-market technologies into new, green businesses,” said Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.

The newly approved funds will go towards financing a circular and low-carbon future. For instance, €181.9 million will go to projects in the fields of environment and resource efficiency, nature and biodiversity, and environmental governance and information.

In line with the European Commission’s circular economy package, projects will help Member States in their transition to a more circular economy.

Circular economy projects newly funded by LIFE include: testing an Italian prototype that could cost-effectively convert petrol cars into hybrid vehicles; creating bio-based products from wastewater sludge in the Netherlands; and applying a new biological treatment to remove pesticides and nitrates from water in southern Spain.

A LIFE Environment & Resource Efficiency project funded at €2.3 million will explore new road surfaces to reduce noise and urban heat.

Some 37 million Europeans are exposed to transport noise at levels dangerous for their health, according to LIFE. Most of them live in cities, where the health impacts of heatwaves also are more pronounced. Changes to road surfaces could easeboth problems.

With the new funding, the City of Paris is leading a LIFE project to devise durable asphalt surfaces with phonic and thermal properties that will reduce noise pollution and mitigate the urban heat island effect.

The measurable impact at three pilot sites is expected to be a two decibel reduction in noise experienced by neighboring residents and a 0.5°C to 1.5°C reduction in the urban heat island effect.  due to lighter road surfaces and increased water retention

Other funded projects will support the implementation of the Action Plan for Nature, in particular the management of Nature 2000 sites.

Species protection is another focus, such as in the Slovenian cross-border project to help the survival of a highly endangered Alpine lynx species.

The Danube river in western Bulgaria is one of Europe’s most important areas for the conservation of priority bird species, such as the white stork. But birds in Natura 2000 network sites here struggle with nearby urban and industrial centers, transport corridors, and hundreds of kilometres of encircling bird-unsafe overhead power lines.

In western Bulgaria, nesting white storks like this one are at risk from power lines. (Photo by aneye4apicture) Creative Commons license via Flickr

In western Bulgaria, nesting white storks like this one are at risk from power lines. (Photo by aneye4apicture) Creative Commons license via Flickr

A newly funded project will identify the power lines posing the most serious hazard for western Bulgaria’s wild birds in a GIS database, mapping areas of potential conflict and producing a detailed report.

The project will stop unnatural mortality among wild birds caused by electrocution on electricity pylons by retrofitting 4,000 pin-type pylons, 1,200 metal frame pylons and 200 switch towers. Project workers will install 120 km of aerial conductors marked with “bird diverters” to reduce bird-collisions by 90 percent in priority areas.

In the area of climate action, the EU will invest €40.2 million to support climate change adaptation, mitigation and governance and information projects.

Selected projects support the EU’s target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.

Hungary, for instance, is forecast to suffer a greater than average impact from climate change, including water scarcity and extreme, unpredictable floods. A €2.5 million LIFE project will build capacity among Hungary’s 3,000+ municipalities through demonstration actions, smart online tools, training and support networks.

The project will focus on promoting ecosystem-based natural water retention measures to manage and mitigate flooding caused by climate change in Hungary.

By applying the Paris Agreement Capital Transition Assessment (PACTA) model, one project in France will give financial regulators and policy-makers the ability to assess EU insurance companies and pension fund assets against global climate goals. This will help them better assess the risks of investments under a range of different decarbonisation scenarios.

At least 200 EU financial institutions are expected to adopt the PACTA model within three years of the project’s completion. The project is expected to contribute to the broader goal of standardizing climate-related accounting.

LIFE funding will also help improve the resilience of one of Europe’s busiest waterways, the Scheldt Estuary in Belgium, anddevelop tools to forecast desert dust storms.

Miguel Arias Cañete, Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, said, “The historic Paris Agreement on climate change has added wind to the sails of already accelerating climate-smart investments. With these projects, we use limited public finance in a catalytic way: we unlock private finance to protect the environment, fight climate change and provide cleaner energy to our citizens. These kinds of investments are of critical importance if we are to move from aspirations to action.”

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Hi-tech Plastic Trees Generate Power

Diagram of how an energy tree will function. (Graphic courtesy Solar Botanic)

Diagram of how an energy tree will function. (Graphic courtesy Solar Botanic)

 

By Sunny Lewis

LONDON, UK, August 8, 20127 (Maximpact.com News) – Clean tech meets art meets life in a new energy tree with nanoleaves that absorb sunlight and quiver in the breeze to produce solar and wind power. A natural-looking, energy generator that looks like a real tree, the emerging new technology could completely change how homes are powered.

The energy tree stands 16 foot (4.87 meter) tall and can generate nearly three times the electricity an average family uses in a year.

A typical three bedroom house in the UK uses 3,300 kilowatt hrs of energy a year, according to The Carbon Trust and National Energy Agency. The energy tree can generate at least 12,000 kilowatt hours a year, its creators say.

They estimate that each tree would cost about £15,000, with the leaves themselves at less than £3 each.

Design and engineering students at Brunel University London have developed the tree concept and tested the e-leaves prototype for the London-based renewable energy start-up, Solar Botanic.

“We wanted the leaves to look like leaves, so we used a green plasma coated solar cell,” said Dr. Zahir Dehouche, a sustainable energy specialist at Brunel University London.

“The idea is for people to see a leaf. It’s very attractive, an art installation almost that combines design and an energy system,” Dr. Dehouche said.

Inspired by photosynthesis, the energy tree copies the Earth’s natural aesthetics to create a beautiful complement to modern surroundings. The technology is based on biomimicry, an approach that seeks sustainable solutions that emulate natural functions.

The energy tree’s nanoleaves are made of a thin sunlight-activated photovoltaic film, covered in a protective green layer flexible enough to shimmer in the breeze.

The branches, twigs and leafstalks carry high-resistance piezoelectric ribbons that harvest kinetic energy as they move, so sunlight, raindrops and wind all create energy as they come in contact with the tree.

Once produced, the electricity travels down a trunk made of high-strength recycled polymers and synthetic resin.

It works as a giant solar panel and wind turbine, so the stronger the sun and the windier the day, the more power it produces.

The combination of nanoleaves and piezoelectric ribbons ensures a harvest of electricity throughout the seasons – rain or shine.

The idea has been gestating for 15 years in the mind of Solar Botanic owner Alex van der Beek. While on a train ride to visit his sister in the Netherlands in 2002, where wind turbines mark scenic views, van der Beek thought that electricity could be generated by something more beautiful, a fake tree, he told “Scientific American” in 2009.

Van der Beek founded Solar Botanic, Ltd., in London in 2008 based on the concept of an energy tree that combines three different technologies that can generate electricity – photovoltaics, or solar power, electricity from visible sunlight; thermoelectrics, electricity from heat; and piezoelectrics, electricity from pressure – all in the shape of a leaf on a  stem.

When thousands of these units, which he calls nanoleaves, are placed on a natural-looking plastic tree, electricity can be produced without spoiling natural landscapes, van der Beek says.

Solar Botanic aims to start building its first full-scale tree at the end of this year.

Plans call for electricity generated by the energy trees to go directly into homes through underground cables. Excess power can be stored in batteries and sold to the national grid.

The tree’s recyclable trunk can be fitted with street lights, or packed with generators to charge electric cars, mobile phones or robots.

Van der Beek envisions forests of energy trees. With the proper installation, a group of trees could power a neighborhood.

Planted next to newly built homes, energy trees could raise property values by 20 percent by removing the need for heavy solar panels, says Dr. Dehouche.

In developing countries, which often have brighter sunlight than shines on London, the trees would be extra efficient, helping to supply power as demand spikes.

The team sees the sturdy, organic-looking structures as enhancing high streets, sea fronts and business parks.

“The tree is a sculpture that invites people to connect with renewable energy,” said Elise Hounslow, a Brunel University design and industrial technology graduate.

“It shows green energy doesn’t have to be ugly or intrusive,” she said, “it can be beautiful and make us feel positive about changing our ways for a brighter future.”


Featured Image: Energy trees could look like this real tree. (Photo courtesy Solar Botanic)

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Cryptocurrencies and the Clean Energy Revolution

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Worker installs solar panels on a roof in Oregon. (Photo courtesy Oregon Dept. of Transportation) Public domain.

By Sunny Lewis

CYBERSPACE, July 27, 2017 (Maximpact.com News) – Innovative financial technologies, from cryptocurrencies to crowdfunding, are offering new ways for citizens to become involved in clean energy projects, and to reap the benefits of the clean power they produce.

Today, cryptocurrencies, virtual means of payment, are in use as alternatives to existing currencies – the dollar, the euro, the rupee, the peso.

Among them is SolarCoin (§), a solar electricity reward program. SolarCoins are digital assets created to reward solar energy producers and to give an incentive to anyone considering installing solar panels.

Anyone who produces solar energy, on a rooftop or in a solar park, can submit meter readings of their energy production and receive these digital coins as a reward – to the tune of one SolarCoin per megawatt-hour (1§ per MWh).

§1 SolarCoin represents 1 megawatt hour (MWh) of solar electricity generation.

As a verified solar electricity producer you can get SolarCoins for free. The supply of SolarCoin is designed to last 40 years, delivering incentives for generating 97,500 TWh of solar electricity.

SolarCoin can be traded on online exchanges and monetized in everyday currencies. As the network increases and the currency is adopted by merchants and participants, SolarCoin will increase in value, developers hope.

Like all cryptocurrencies, this digital coin is based on blockchain technology.

Traditionally, individual account details and financial transactions have been centralized in private databases, such as those maintained by banks.

By contrast, the blockchain is an open database spread across a vast network of computers that publicly records an ever-growing list of transactions, each called a block.

François Sonnet, co-founder of ElectriCChain, the blockchain underpinning SolarCoin, says, “We use SolarCoin to incentivise people to produce solar power, but we need market awareness and education about blockchain. Getting recognition from governments and large institutions like the UN would help establish trust.”

Sonnet says ElectriCChain helps government institutions, the solar industry and “Prosumers” to deliver cheap and clean solar energy for future generations.

One organization that has embraced the solar cryptocurrency is the French crowdfunding platform Lumo. To date, Lumo has raised around €3 million for around 30 projects, including an €800,000 investment in a French solar park.

“Most investors are local citizens who want to see their money work,” says Lumo co-founder Alex Raguet. “Every year you receive three to seven percent interest,” he explains, “and you get the capital back at the end.”

In 2016, Lumo adopted the virtual coins to reward investors in solar projects and to demonstrate the green credentials of the investment.

“Our crowdfunders get the SolarCoins that their money is helping to produce,” says Raguet. “The coins, which can be traded freely, are currently worth around €0.20 but the value could increase if carbon taxes are introduced.”

But not all cryptocurrencies are green. Bitcoin, the first and best known cryptocurrency, is notoriously energy greedy.

Bitcoin uses massive amounts of computer power to solve the puzzles, or algorithms, to “mine” coins, and was estimated to have the same energy consumption as the Republic of Ireland in 2014.

Still, Bitcoin is open-source; its design is public, nobody owns or controls Bitcoin and everyone can take part.

SolarCoin only uses three to five percent of the energy of Bitcoin, says Sonnet. “You don’t need to buy servers to mine the cryptocurrency.”

SolarCoin could be even fairer, according to Michele Andrea Kipiel, a self-taught blockchain expert and blogger in Rome.

“The 1 MWh production target is fixed and too high to attain for a normal family house with solar panels on the roof,” he says.

This favors mass producers. The digital coin could be made more accessible by replacing the fixed production target of 1 MWh with dynamic production targets personalized to each producer, explains Kipiel.

For fintech tools like cryptocurrencies and crowdfunding platforms to move from the niche to the mainstream, regulation needs to catch up with innovation.

“We had to do a lot of lobbying to create a framework for Lumo to operate in,” says Raguet, saying that they became operationally functional only in 2014, when regulations had been put in place.

Now, Lumo and the Regional Center for Renewable Energies, based in La Crèche near Niort, are joining forces to develop participatory financing for solar photovoltaic projects on buildings belonging to local communities.

France wasn’t the only country in Europe with a lack of framework for such projects.

“For the energy transition to be successful it has to be at the European level,” says Raguet.

In this context, the CrowdFundRes project, in which the French platform is involved, aims to improve the regulatory framework and public understanding of crowdfunding for renewable energy projects.


Featured Image: SolarCoin reward symbols. No physical solar coins exist. (Photo courtesy SolarCoin.org) Posted for media use.

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Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week Glitters in the Sun

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The International Renewable Energy Agency exhibit at the World Future Energy Summit 2017, a part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, January 16, 2017 (Photo courtesy IRENA) Creative Commons license via Flickr.

By Sunny Lewis

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, January 19, 2017 (Maximpact.com News) – The oil-rich Middle East’s largest gathering on sustainability is happening this week, featuring the rock star business and opinion leaders who are shaping the present and future clean energy world.

An estimated 35,600 people representing 170 countries are attending Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW) under sunny skies, including 80 government ministers, 382 exhibiting companies, and more than 200 high-level speakers.

As a global platform for addressing the interconnected challenges of clean energy, water and sustainable development, Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week has developed lasting partnerships with many of the world’s most admired experts and opinion formers on sustainability issues,” said Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, chief executive officer of Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company and the host of ADSW.

ADSW 2017 explores the theme “Practical Steps Towards a Sustainable Future” from January 12-21 with presentations, discussions and workshops on clean energy, water and waste.

From the podium, Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto said, “Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week is a testament to the commitment of the United Arab Emirates to sustainable development and a new diversified, low carbon economy. Similar to how Mexico is leading the way as a developing country, the UAE was in fact the first country in the Middle East to set renewable energy targets at a time when there was widespread doubt about renewable energy’s viability and value.

Workshops are considering strategies to drive investment, implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate, and the challenges of adapting existing infrastructure to the new market reality of small-scale, distributed power.

Another critical new market reality was detailed by Michael Liebreich, founder and chairman of the Advisory Board, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, and Board member, Transport for London.

Developing countries are overtaking the wealthiest economies in attracting clean energy investment, with the Middle East & North Africa playing a growing role,” said Liebreich, citing research by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

The global profile of ADSW is valuable in bringing emerging market opportunities to a wider stage,” he said, “thereby enabling greater cooperation between developed and developing economies.”

All kinds of clean energy investments are being forged in Abu Dhabi this week. “The clean energy sector has moved from the margins into the mainstream as a dynamic, commercially viable growth market,” Al Ramahi said.

The UAE Ministry of Energy, SKM Air-Conditioning and the Masdar Institute Wednesday signed an agreement to develop advanced energy-efficient building chillers specific to the Gulf Cooperation Council region.

If adopted nation-wide, the new efficient chillers could provide the UAE with national energy savings of over 20 percent while lowering life-cycle cooling plant costs. Currently 50 percent of the UAE’s electricity consumption goes towards cooling energy requirements, which can rise to as high as 75 percent during peak-day electricity use in the summer.

On another front, the United Arab Emirates announced a landmark new US$50 million grant fund for renewable energy projects in Caribbean island countries. 

Launched by Reem Al Hashimy, minister of state for international cooperation, the UAE-Caribbean Renewable Energy Fund is one of the largest-ever single investments in the region’s clean energy sector. It represents a significant deepening of bilateral relationships between the UAE and Caribbean countries.

Grant funding is provided by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, with the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs managing the initiative and Masdar leading implementation.

The announcement, which brings UAE development assistance for renewable energy to almost US$1 billion since 2013, was made on the sidelines of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, as part of the annual General Assembly meeting of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

AminAbuDhabi

International Renewable Energy Agency Director-General Adnan Z. Amin at the World Future Energy Summit 2017, a part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (Photo courtesy IRENA) Creative Commons license via Flickr.

IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin anticipates great success ahead for renewable energy. “Renewables are gaining ground by nearly every measure,” he said. “Accelerating the pace of the energy transition and expanding its scope beyond the power sector will not only reduce carbon emissions, it will improve lives, create jobs, achieve development goals, and ensure a cleaner and more prosperous future.

Introducing the third and latest annual issue of IRENA’s report, “REthinking Energy,” Amin said that the falling costs of renewable energy, driven by innovations in technology and policy, is behind the rapid spread of renewables and an accompanying host of socioeconomic benefits.

As we advance deeper into a new energy paradigm, we need to pick-up the pace of our decarbonization efforts. Policies and regulations continue to remain crucial to this end and to develop the renewables market,” explained Amin. “We are seeing more and more countries hold auctions to deploy renewables, and as variable and distributed sources of renewables take-on a greater role, regulators have implemented changes to enable grid integration at scale.”

Heating and cooling, and the potential of renewables for transport, are areas where future efforts are needed,” Amin said.

REthinking Energy,” provides insights on the innovations, policy and finance driving further investment in sustainable energy system, finding that:

  • Renewable energy auctions are gaining popularity in both developed and developing countries, generating record-breaking low energy prices;
  • Demand for battery storage is increasing rapidly and playing a larger part in integrating variable renewables;
  • New capital-market instruments are helping increase available finance by offering new groups of investors access to investment opportunities;
  • Institutional investors are moving into renewable energy as it offers stable returns over the long term;
  • New business models promise new ways to finance renewable energy.

Of the clean energy technologies, the report finds that solar photovoltaics will grow the fastest in terms of capacity and output, and new ways to store electricity will be a game changer for growing variable renewable energy generation.

IRENA estimates that battery storage for electricity could increase from less than 1 GW today to 250 GW by 2030.

Cost-effective off-grid renewables already provide electricity to an estimated 90 million people worldwide. “REthinking Energy” describes how off-grid solutions can provide modern energy to hundreds of millions more people to help the world achieve its sustainable development goals.

Achieving universal electricity access by 2030, will require us to boost global power generation – nearly 60 percent of that will have to come from stand-alone and mini-grid solutions,” said Amin. “Meeting this aim with off-grid renewables depends on the right combination of policies, financing, technology and institutional capacity.

At the World Future Energy Summit 2017, a part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week that aims to build the business case for renewable energy, India’s solar power industry is showcasing an unprecedented range of investment opportunities, after the Indian government’s announcement of its plans to add an additional 175 GW of renewable energy to the nation’s electricity supply by 2022.

The Indian Ministry of New and Renewable Energy plans to install 100 GW of solar power, including utility-scale and rooftop solar. The remaining capacity will include 60 GW of utility-scale wind energy, 5 GW of small hydro, and 10 GW of bioenergy.

Private sector investors are showing new interest in Saudi Arabia’s solar energy market, after the nation’s leadership included plans to add 9.5 GW of renewables to the energy supply as part of Saudi Vision 2030, a strategy announced last April.

The Vision 2030 strategy sets 9.5 GW as an “initial target” to help build the Saudi renewables sector, noting that energy consumption will triple in the next 14 years. The Saudi government confirms that it aims to achieve that target by 2023, a rapid increase from the nation’s 25 MW of installed renewable energy capacity at the end of 2015.

Saudi Arabia’s plans are supported by a comprehensive restructuring of government departments responsible for energy. Vision 2030 calls for a complete review of the country’s legal and regulatory framework to allow the private sector to buy and invest in the renewable energy sector.

The projects that will flow from Saudi Arabia’s renewable energy plan create a landmark opportunity for technology manufacturers, developers and investors in solar energy, setting out a very real, very achievable ambition,” said Roberto de Diego Arozamena, CEO of Abdul Latif Jameel Energy, the largest GCC-based solar photovoltaic developer and one of the largest in the world.

A highlight of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week took place on Monday with the awarding of this year’s Zayed Future Energy Prize to nine pioneers in renewable energy and sustainability.

Founded in 2008, the Zayed Future Energy Prize has lit up the world for more than 289 million people through the actions of its international community of winners.

This year’s Zayed Future Energy Prize winners:

Li Junfeng, director general of China’s National Center of Climate Strategy Research, won the Lifetime Achievement award for his commitment to the adoption of renewable energy in China.

General Electric won the Large Corporation award for leadership in the wind and solar energy markets. GE’s wind business alone has commissioned 41.3 GW of total generating capacity and installed more than 30,000 wind turbines to date.

Sonnen, the German smart home and commercial energy storage system manufacturer, was awarded the prize in the Small and Medium Enterprise category for leadership in providing battery storage solutions.

In the Non-Profit Organization category, UK-based Practical Action was recognized for its work in providing deprived communities with clean energy in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Joining them were the winners in the Global High Schools category, five schools spanning five regions of the globe: Starehe Girls’ Center, Kenya for the Africa region; Green School Bali, Indonesia for the Asia region; Bolivia’s Unidad Educativa Sagrado Corazón 4 for the Americas; Belvedere College in Ireland for Europe; and Huonville High School, Tasmania, Australia for the Oceania region.

Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Minister of State, took great satisfaction in announcing the winners. “The Zayed Future Energy Prize continues to honor the legacy of sustainability advocated by the UAE’s late founding father Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan,” he said. “With each awards ceremony, the UAE leadership accelerates the pursuit of innovation, reinforces the significance of sustainability at the top of the global agenda, and gives opportunities and far-reaching benefits to communities around the world.

Since the start of the Zayed Future Energy Prize awards, over 25 million people in Africa and Asia have been provided with access to modern, clean energy, off-setting more than one billion tons of carbon emissions, and ensuring that 17 million school age children can study at night using innovative solar-powered utilities.

Chair of the Zayed Future Energy Prize Jury Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, former president of the Republic of Iceland, said, “Through the sustainable actions of its winners, the Zayed Future Energy Prize is a model example for how far the world has come in the last nine years. It is extraordinary that, through the impact of each winner and the lives they continue to improve, we now see a growing strength in being able to deliver a sustainable future.


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Maximpact’s Tom Holland Founder & CEO was proud to attended the ADSW from Maximpact‘s Masdar City Office.

Create clean energy projects through Maximpact’s Advisory and discover if your projects are investor ready with Maximpact services.  Find the right expertise for your renewable energy projects through Maximpact consulting network.  Contact us at info(@)maximpact.com and tell us what you need.

 

USA: 100% Renewables by 2050?

altawindfarm

America’s most powerful wind farm – 1.5 gigawatts in size, generating enough electricity for a city of millions – is on the edge of the Mojave Desert at the foot of the Tehachapi Pass, site of one of the earliest and still largest collections of windmills in the world. In total, there are more than 5,000 wind turbines in the area. (Photo by Steve Boland) Creative Commons license via Flickr

By Sunny Lewis

WASHINGTON, DC, December 22, 2016 (Maximpact.com News) – More than 450 organizations, local officials, academics, civic leaders and businesses are calling on Congress to support a shift to powering the United States entirely with renewable energy by the year 2050.

Although the lawmakers are on holiday recess, the renewable energy advocates Wednesday delivered a letter to Congress. The signers are urging support for H.Res. 540 introduced by Congressman Raúl Grijalva of Arizona and S.Res. 632 introduced by Senators Edward Markey of Massachusetts and Jeff Merkley of Oregon, all Democrats. 

Both bills contain the same resolution calling for “rapid, steady shift” to 100 percent renewable energy. 

Burning coal, oil and gas is polluting our air, water and land. It is harming our health and changing our climate even faster than scientists predicted,” the letter warns. “At the same time, low-income communities, communities of color, and indigenous people often bear a disproportionate share of the impact.

Senators supporting the resolution include Democrats Ben Cardin of Maryland, Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz of Hawaii, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Al Franken of Minnesota as well as Vermont Independent Bernie Sanders, who ran in the presidential primary as a Democrat.

As a technological giant, the United States must continue to lead the clean energy revolution,” said Senator Markey. “ The question is no longer if we can power our country with 100 percent renewable energy, it’s when and how we will make the transition.”

The letter points out that dozens of major corporations, including General Motors, Apple, and Walmart, have set goals to meet all of their energy needs with renewable energy. Google announced last week that in 2017, renewable energy will power 100 percent of its global operations, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

Kevin Butt, regional environmental sustainability director for Toyota Motor North America, has said he wants to take the company “beyond zero environmental impact” by eliminating carbon emissions from vehicle operation, manufacturing, materials production and energy sources by 2050.

Renewable energy is virtually unlimited and pollution-free, protecting our communities from global warming and other harmful pollution while revitalizing our local economies,” said Rob Sargent, energy program director for the nonprofit Environment America,  a national federation of statewide, citizen-based advocacy organizations.

America needs a rapid transition to clean, renewable energy and our leaders need to get on board,” said Sargent.

The letter stresses the environmental and economic imperatives for shifting to renewable energy – to help consumers, support the economy and national security of the United States, and avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

The letter says, in part, “We need to transform the way we power the country – and we need to do it fast. But, we still have a long way to go. That’s why we are calling for swift action to transition to 100 percent renewable energy.” 

For the past eight years, President Barack Obama has been a leader in bringing the world to act against climate change by moving away from fossil fuels and investing in renewables. The Obama initiative and partnership with China brought the two biggest greenhouse gas emitters into alignment on this issue. It culminated in the Paris Agreement on climate, which took effect in November, less than a year after it was agreed in December 2015, lightning speed for an international agreement.

But the renewable energy advocates will have a steep uphill path if they try to persuade the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump, whose Cabinet nominations demonstrate that he wants to rely on fossil fuels, extracting the maximum amount of coal, oil and gas without delay.

Trump has chosen the CEO of the world’s largest oil company, Rex Tillerson of Exxon Mobil, as his nominee for secretary of state, fossil fuel advocate and climate denier Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency,  former Texas governor Rick Perry, a fossil fuel supporter, as energy secretary, and Ryan Zinke of Montana to head the Department of the Interior.

Jeff Turrentine of the nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council today called them “the Four Horsemen of the Trumpocalypse.

The renewable energy advocates point to the enormous job creation potential of transitioning to renewable energy sources, particularly in communities with high rates of unemployment or underemployment.

There are currently 310,000 people in the United States employed in the solar industry and 88,000 in the wind industry. 

The United States is projected to add more electric generating capacity from solar and wind than from any other source in 2016. More than half of all new electricity capacity added in the world in 2015 was from renewable sources.

Climate change is both the greatest threat facing humankind, and also a tremendous economic opportunity if our nation rises to meet it,” said Congressman Grijalva. “Every day our energy future becomes more obvious – either we live in the past and continue to degrade our environment, or we embrace the future of renewable energy which ensures our continued success on a global scale and leaves our children a clean and healthy planet.

Moving to 100 percent clean energy will power job creation that is good for all creation. We can and will meet this goal and now, more than ever, it is critical that we stand up and fight for our clean energy future,” said Grijalva.

The resolution is not just a pipe dream – it’s technically feasible. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the United States has the technical potential to generate more than 100 times the quantity of electricity it consumes each year as of 2016 solely from wind, solar, and other renewable resources.

Today’s resolution sends a message loud and clear to our Senate colleagues – it’s time to get serious about our climate efforts with big, bold and rapid moves to accelerate the clean energy economy,” said Senator Merkley. “Transitioning to clean and renewable energy is not only the right thing to do for clean air and a strong economy, it is what we must do to save our beautiful blue-green planet.

 


 Featured Image: Utility-scale solar power requires skilled workers. Here, workers monitor solar thermal parabolic troughs at the Adams County detention center in Brighton, Colorado. (Photo by Warren Gretz / National Renewable Energy Lab) Public domain.

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Create clean energy projects through Maximpact’s Advisory and discover project services for all types of business and organizations within the energy sectors.  Find the right expertise for your renewable energy projects through Maximpact consulting network.  Contact us at info(@)maximpact.com and tell us what you need.

 

India, World Bank Empower Sunshine Nations

India, World Bank Empower_Sunshine Nations

India One, a 1 megawatt solar thermal power plant in Rajasthan, India is due for completion in 2016. It uses 770 newly developed 60m2 parabolic dishes and features thermal storage for continuous operation. The plant will generate enough heat and power for a campus of 25,000 people and is a milestone for clean power generation in India. (Photo by Brahma Kumaris) Creative Commons license via Flickr

By Sunny Lewis

NEW DELHI, India, July 13, 2016 (Maximpact.com News) – Solar power prospects are brightening with a new global focus on renewable energy to avert climate change. A burst of financial power was added at the end of June as the World Bank Group signed an agreement with the International Solar Alliance (ISA) – 121 countries led by sunny India – with the goal of mobilizing US$1 trillion in investments by 2030.

 The ISA was launched at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris on November 30, 2015 by Prime Minister Modi and French President Francois Hollande. Most of the sunshine countries lie between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, including Mexico, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand and China. The United States and European Union also are involved.

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World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, left, meets with Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi before attending the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York City, September 25, 2015. (Photo by Dominic Chavez / World Bank) Creative Commons license via Flickr

On a two-day trip to New Delhi at the end of June, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim established the Bank as a financial partner for the ISA and pledged to collaborate on expanding the use of solar energy in India.

After meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, World Bank Group chief Kim said with a smile, “One of the reasons that I always appreciate my meetings with the Prime Minister is that he always pushes us to move faster and faster – to keep pace with him. We promised that we would do so, and in particular talked about supporting his government’s pace on expanding renewable energy sources.

The Prime Minister emphasized the importance of adequate climate change financing for countries like India which are “consciously choosing to follow an environmentally sustainable path.

India’s plans to virtually triple the share of renewable energy by 2030 will both transform the country’s energy supply and have far-reaching global implications in the fight against climate change,” the banker said.

The International Energy Agency calculates that India is set to contribute more than any other country to the projected rise in global energy demand. Steep rises in power production and consumption are expected to accompany India’s economic growth.

 “Prime Minister Modi’s personal commitment toward renewable energy, particularly solar, is the driving force behind these investments,” said Kim. “The World Bank Group will do all it can to help India meet its ambitious targets, especially around scaling up solar energy.”

Kim said he envisions the ISA as using its global development network, global knowledge and financing capacity to promote the use of solar energy throughout the world.

 India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy identified the initial joint projects to actualize the new agreement as:

  • Developing a roadmap to mobilize financing.
  • Developing financing instruments including credit enhancement, reduce hedging. costs/currency risk, bond raising in locally denominated currencies etc. which support solar energy development and deployment.
  • Supporting ISA’s plans for solar energy through technical assistance and knowledge transfer.
  • Working on mobilization of concessional financing through existing or, if needed, new trust funds.
RooftopSolar

Solar panels on the rooftop of the Reserve Bank of India in Jaipur. (Photo by Kirti Solar Limited) Posted for media use by India PRwire

In addition, India will receive a loan of more than US$1 billion dollars to support expanding solar power through investments in solar generation.

 Projects now under development include solar rooftop technology, infrastructure for solar parks, bringing innovative solar and hybrid technologies to market, and transmission lines for sun-rich Indian states.

As part of our $1 billion dollar solar commitment to India, today we signed an agreement with the Government of India for a $625 million dollar grid connected rooftop solar program,” said Kim.

The project will finance installation of at least 400 megawatts of solar photovoltaic installations.

These investments for India will together become the Bank’s largest financing of solar projects for any country in the world. The banker said. “India has become a global leader in implementing the promises made in Paris for COP21 and the global efforts to tackle climate change.”

 India’s pledge to the Paris summit offered to bring 40 percent of its electricity generation capacity, not actual production, from non-fossil sources – renewable, large hydro, and nuclear – by the year 2030.

India has capacity of 4GW and the Modi Government has set a target of adding 100 GW of solar power by 2022.

In January, Modi and Hollande jointly laid the foundation stone of the International Solar Alliance headquarters and inaugurated the interim Secretariat of the ISA in National Institute of Solar Energy in Gwal Pahari in the Gurgaon District of Haryana state in northern India.

At that ceremony, the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency and the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) each announced a contribution of US$1 million to the ISA.

Prime Minister Modi has described the ISA as “the sunrise of new hope, not just for clean energy but for villages and homes still in darkness, for mornings and evening filled with a clear view of the glory of the Sun.


 Featured image: Solar Panels | by Jeremy Levine Design flickr.com

Hydricity: Zero Emission 24/7 Solar-Water Power

SolarConcentrators

By Sunny Lewis

WEST LAFAYETTE, Indiana, January 12, 2016 (ENS) – American and Swiss researchers are proposing a new integrated “hydricity” concept – the synergistic coproduction of solar thermal power and hydrogen. The cycle generates electricity from the sun and also produces and stores hydrogen from superheated water for round-the-clock power generation whether the sun is shining or not.

The scientists view this proposal as one route to a sustainable economy with abundant electricity generated 24/7 without emitting planet-warming greenhouse gases.

The hydricity proposal is currently at the stage of a simulated computer model, with the researchers moving in the direction of lab experiments.

Once real-world tests begin, hydricity would use specially-designed solar concentrators to focus sunlight.

This can “superheat” water, heating it far beyond its boiling point to produce high-temperature steam. The steam can run turbines to generate electricity and also can be used to operate solar reactors that split water into hydrogen and oxygen.

The hydrogen thus produced can then be stored to superheat water to run the steam turbines overnight when the solar cells aren’t active, generating more electricity.

Or it could be used for other applications, such as fuel for fuel cell cars.

However used, clean-burning hydrogen produces no planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions, just water vapor.

When the proposed integrated process is operated in a standalone power production mode, the resulting solar water power cycle can generate electricity with unprecedented efficiencies of 40 to 46 percent.

When sunlight is unavailable, the researchers envision that the stored hydrogen would be used in a turbine-based hydrogen water power (H2WP) cycle with the calculated hydrogen-to-electricity efficiency of 65-70 percent, a figure comparable to fuel cell efficiencies.

Agarwal_Rakesh

“The proposed hydricity concept represents a potential breakthrough solution for continuous and efficient power generation,” explained Professor Rakesh Agrawal at Purdue University’s School of Chemical Engineering.

Agrawal is a co-author of the new research paper, “Hydricity: A Sunshine Route to Sustainability,” which was published in December in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.” (PNAS)

“Traditionally electricity production and hydrogen production have been studied in isolation,” said Agrawal, “and what we have done is synergistically integrate these processes while also improving them.”

“The concept provides an exciting opportunity to envision and create a sustainable economy to meet all the human needs, including food, chemicals, transportation, heating and electricity,” he said.]

Hydricity, a fusion of hydrogen and electricity, is a word coined by the late, great Canadian geophysicist and businessman Geoffrey Ballard, founder of the fuel cell manufacturer Ballard Power Systems.

Recognized world-wide as the father of the fuel cell industry, Ballard was named a “Hero for the Planet” by “Time” magazine in 1999.

“It will take a combined effort of academia, government, and industry to bring about the change from a gasoline economy to a hydrogen economy,” Ballard told the World Hydrogen Energy Conference (WHEC) one year. “The forces are building and progress is being made. It is of major importance that a change of this magnitude not be forced on unwilling participants, but that all of us work together for an economically viable path to change.”

To Ballard and to the study’s co-author Professor Mohit Tawarmalani at Purdue’s Krannert School of Management, the two processes complement one another to overcome the weakness of sunlight’s intermittancy.

“In the round-the-clock process we produce hydrogen and electricity during daylight, store hydrogen and oxygen, and then when solar energy is not available we use hydrogen to produce electricity using a turbine-based hydrogen-power cycle,” explained Tawarmalani.

“Because we could operate around the clock, the steam turbines run continuously and shutdowns and restarts are not required,” he said. “Our combined process is more efficient than the standalone process that produces electricity and the one that produces and stores hydrogen.”

The hydricity research paper was authored by Purdue chemical engineering doctoral student Emre Gençer; former chemical engineering graduate student Dharik Mallapragada; and Francois Marechal, a professor and chemical process engineer from Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland; as well as professors Tawarmalani and Agrawal.

Gençer compared the efficiency of the hydricity process in generating and storing power to that of solar cells.

“The overall sun-to-electricity efficiency of the hydricity process, averaged over a 24-hour cycle, is shown to approach 35 percent, which is nearly the efficiency attained by using the best photovoltaic cells along with batteries,” said Gençer.

“Our proposed process stores energy thermo-chemically more efficiently than conventional energy-storage systems,” he said.

“The coproduced hydrogen has alternate uses in the transportation-chemical-petrochemical industries,” said Gençer, “and unlike batteries, the stored energy does not discharge over time and the storage medium does not degrade with repeated uses.”

Agrawal says that the hydrogen, once separated out of the water, can be combined with carbon from agricultural biomass to produce fuel, fertilizer and other products.

“If you can borrow carbon from sustainably available biomass you can produce anything: electricity, chemicals, heating, food and fuel,” Agrawal said.

Their research was published the week of December 14, 2015 in the online early edition of the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”

Read more in Emre Gençer et al., “Round-the-clock power supply and a sustainable economy via synergistic integration of solar thermal power and hydrogen processes,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (14 December 2015) (doi: 10.1073/pnas.1513488112)

The research was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy through the DOE‘s Center for Direct Catalytic Conversion of Biomass to Biofuels at Purdue’s Discovery Park and through a Solar Economy project led by Agrawal under the National Science Foundation’s Integrative Education and Research Traineeship Program.


Award-winning journalist Sunny Lewis is founding editor in chief of the Environment News Service (ENS), the original daily wire service of the environment, publishing since 1990.

Featured image: Professor Rakesh Agrawal, right, at work with former Purdue chemical engineering graduate student Dharik Mallapragada (Photo courtesy Purdue University) www.purdue.edu
Head image: Solar concentrators at the Solar Energy Generating Systems facility in northern San Bernardino County, California.

Solar-Powered Lights Flick On Across Nigeria

LumosSolarAfrica

By Sunny Lewis

WASHINGTON, DC, November 4, 2015 (Maximpact News) – The U.S. government’s development finance institution, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), has signed a US$15 million commitment to finance a business that provides solar electricity to homes and small business throughout Nigeria.

The off-grid electricity provider is Txtlight Power Solutions, Ltd. doing business as Nova-Lumos, and the signing took place on October 21 as part of Secretary of State John Kerry’s Climate and Clean Energy Investment Forum.

“Lumos brings vision, innovation, and sound business sense to address the power access challenge in Africa,” said Elizabeth Littlefield, OPIC’s president and chief executive.

“With a dedication to those who live off-grid or have unreliable power access,” she said, “Lumos’ creative business model will positively impact millions with new affordable electricity access in homes, businesses, medical facilities, and schools.”

This is the largest OPIC investment in Africa’s off-grid power sector, a key component of increasing energy access in a region where people are not grid-connected and the need for reliable power is especially acute.

Based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Nova-Lumos is the world’s first distributed utility provider, bringing affordable, modern and clean electricity to communities that have been living off the grid.

With this OPIC financing, Lumos will be able to increase power access to the nearly 90 million Nigerians who currently live without any connection to the electric grid.

Lumos connects the mobile payment revolution and solar energy. Through partnerships with mobile operators, Lumos provides electricity on a lease to own basis, purchased by mobile phone.

Lumos customers replace kerosene and candles with solar-powered electricity that can allows them to turn on lights, cellphones, fans, computers and TVs – all at once.

Lumos offers a patented, self-deployable mobile energy system, with integrated cellular payment and advanced security mechanisms. The service includes a home solar panel linked to an indoor storage and connection unit.

And it’s affordable. Lumos customers utilize a “pay-as-you-go” model, buying power in small amounts, by text message.

One the corporate level, it’s the $15 million in funding from OPIC that makes it possible for Lumos customers to make small, affordable payments.

David Vortman, Lumos chief executive and co-founder, said, “We are very excited about this major financing milestone in partnership with OPIC, which will enable us to accelerate our growth in Nigeria and improve the lives of millions.”

“Having the backing of an institution such as OPIC provides a vote of confidence in Lumos’ innovative core technology and our unique business model that drives most of our value as a company,” Vortman said.

Lumos’ business model is scalable in large part due to the company’s partnerships with mobile communications operators.

In Nigeria, Lumos has partnered with MTN, Nigeria largest telecommunications company with a subscriber base of over 60 million people.

Lumos was also a recipient of early-stage catalytic funding through OPIC and the Africa Clean Energy Finance initiative. This partnership with the U.S. State Department provided start-up capital for 30 innovative clean energy projects across 10 African countries.

Lumos recently became an official private sector partner of President Barack Obama’s Power Africa initiative, a partnership among more than 100 public and private sector partners to bring new power access to the more than 600 million Sub-Saharan Africans that currently live without electricity.

As a key part of Power Africa, OPIC financing allows private companies like Lumos to scale up business models and broadly increase new power access across Africa.

Vortman and other Lumos executives believe the Nigerian project is just the beginning of the company’s relationship with OPIC as it grows in Nigeria and elsewhere across the developing world.

OPIC declares that all its projects “adhere to high environmental and social standards and respect human rights, including worker’s rights.”

By mandating high standards, OPIC says it helps to raise the industry and regional standards of the more than 160 countries in which its projects operate.

NigerianGirlLumos

A young girl in Nigeria is able to do her homework after dark with the help of a solar light powered by Lumos, an OPIC partner that provides off-grid solar solutions to remote communities.

(Photo courtesy OPIC)
Featured image: Nigerian man installs a Lumos solar system. Customers will pay by cellphone as they consume the power. (Photo courtesy Nova-Lumos)

Award-winning journalist Sunny Lewis is founding editor in chief of the Environment News Service (ENS), the original daily wire service of the environment, publishing since 1990.