Facts & History of Solar Power

Facts & History of Solar Power

Interested in solar power? How about some facts and history of solar power.

  • Horace Bénédict de Saussure (1740-1799), a Swiss physicist, geologist, and early Alpine explorer was the inventor of the hotbox which later was succesfully used by British astronomer John Herschel to cook food while on expedition in Africa.
  • The well known and respected Albert Einstein received a Nobel Prize in 1921 for his experiments on photo voltaic and solar power.
  • In 1958 Solar power was used to power space exploration equipment such as satellites and space stations. This is probably the first know commercial use of solar energy.
  • In 1981, the first solar powered aircraft was produced by Paul Macready. The aircraft successfully managed to fly from France to England.
  • Germany is major solar power producer despite its less than favorable climate. The energy generated during sunny days is stored in batteries.
  • Energy from the sun travels for approximately 8 minutes to reach Earth.
  • We can produce the same amount of electricity from 1 ton of sand (siliconis used in the production of photo voltaic cells) as burning 500 ton of coal.
  • In 1982, the first large scale power plants was opened in California.

Some fun facts about renewable energy.

Renewable energy is becoming more mainstream now humanity realizes that fossils fuels and nuclear are not the energy of the future. Here are some interesting facts about renewable energy.

  • Subsidies to fossil fuels worldwide outweigh renewable energy support by a ratio of 12:1
  • By 2050 Renewable energy has the potential to meet 95% of our energy demands by 2050.
  • Clean energy creates three times more jobs than fossil fuels.
  • All the sunlight reaching our planet in an hour is enough to meet our annual demand
  • Since 2014, the European country of Denmark has been generating around 40% of its electricity needs from wind power
  • When fully completed the Gansu Wind Farm in China may become the world’s biggest collective windfarm
  • South Africa receives more than twice as much sunshine than Germany, where over 15 percent of the national electricity supply comes from renewable sources. South Africa is not even near that amount as of 2015
  • At the end of 2014 approximately 600 MW of wind and 1 000 MW of PV (Solar Power) are already online. (Excluding small scale developments for own use)

The potential for renewable energy in South Africa is enormous and as a country we should actively promote and invest in this technology.

Load Shedding

Load Shedding is in full swing at the moment. It will be a fact that South Africans will have to live with & endure. Load Shedding will be here for many years. Load Shedding occurs when demand is greater than capacity to generate electricity. To avoid a total blackout of the power grid Eskom has to implement Load Shedding.

Load Shedding is implemented by switching of the power to certain areas for a certain time. There are several levels of Load Shedding. Load Shedding increases with the severity of the electricity demand & supply.

The following stages of Load Shedding are currently in place

  • Stage 1: Generation shortfall of up to 1 000 MW
  • Stage 2: Generation shortfall of up to 2 000 MW
  • Stage 3: Generation shortfall of up to 4 000 MW

How to reduce the effects of Load Shedding.

Load Shedding is an inconvenience to everybody in South Africa, from people to businesses. Some ways you can work around the effects are

  • Plan your schedule around publicized Load Shedding schedules.
  • Implement Renewable Energy Sources like Solar Power/Solar Heating or Wind Energy.
  • Use a generator (not environmental friendly, but for long periods of Load Shedding a viable but expensive option).
  • Start cooking and boiling water on LPG/Gas or a wood fire.
  • Have a battery/invert-er backup in place.

How to help Eskom by reducing your electricity consumption

One of the best ways to help Eskom & the rest of South Africa if everybody plays their part in reducing their electricity consumption. There are some quick and easy ways to accomplish this.

  • Switch off all equipment/lights which are not needed. (TV’s, Computers, Geysers Etc)
  • Increase the temperature of your air-conditioner or switch it off altogether.
  • Start preparing meals on a Gas stove or make a braai.
  • Change to energy efficient equipment & lights
  •  Become self sufficient by investing in renewable energy and get of the grid or become grid tied.

In periods like this we South Africans have to stand together to avoid a total blackout of our electricity supply which can take weeks to resolve.

Ikea solar panel installations in the UK

Ikea besides setting a good corporate example by using solar power for its own stores. (Ikea has installed more than 250,000 solar panels on its Ikea Stores and Buildings World Wide). Ikea started offering its customers in the United Kingdom Solar Panel Installations by Hanergy.

Why is Ikea selling solar panels.

They want to inspire and enable their customers to live a more sustainable life at home by offering products and services that will help them to save money, reduce waste and lower energy cost. As a company ikea is also strongly committed to investing in renewable energy and ‘energy-efficient’ technology to help tackle climate change.

They have partnered with the chinese company Hanergy Solar to bring affordable solar energy closer to home.

For further information about the solar panels from ikea please visit the following page.

http://www.ikea.com/gb/en/store/southampton/thebigtwofive

Hanergy Solar Power

Hanergy Solar Power (Europe) supports its mother company Hanergy Solar Power International Group Ltd. in its mission to bring renewable energy to the world to save it for future generations. They do this by developing and investing in utility scale solar energy projects everywhere in Europe.

http://www.hanergy.eu/indexe.asp

GE, First Solar Announce Solar Technology Partnership

GE, FIRST SOLAR ANNOUNCE SOLAR TECHNOLOGY AND COMMERCIAL PARTNERSHIP

  • Partnership accelerates thin-film solar technology development
  • GE takes equity interest in First Solar
  • Existing scale and manufacturing capabilities of First Solar, combined with both companies’ complementary technologies, will enable increased efficiency, cost competitiveness
  • Inverter, balance of plant commercial partnership to improve solar grid integration and connection

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. & TEMPE, Ariz.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– Today, GE (NYSE: GE) and First Solar (Nasdaq: FSLR) announced a technology partnership to advance thin-film solar cells and modules. First Solar has acquired GE’s global cadmium telluride (CdTe) solar intellectual property portfolio, setting a course for significant advancement of photovoltaic (PV) thin-film solar technology. GE received 1.75 million shares of First Solar common stock as part of this transaction. GE has agreed to retain the shares for at least three years.

The combination of the two companies’ complementary technologies and First Solar’s existing manufacturing capabilities are expected to accelerate the development of cadmium telluride (CdTe) solar module performance and improve efficiency at manufacturing scale. In addition, GE Global Research and First Solar R&D will collaborate on future technology development to further advance CdTe solar technology.

GE, which has 34GW of renewable energy installed globally, will enhance its presence in solar through access to purchasing and branding First Solar’s modules for future global GE deployments, in addition to its investment in inverters, controls, balance of plant and ownership of utility scale systems.

Additionally, GE and First Solar have formed a commercial relationship around solar inverter technology. First Solar will continue to purchase inverters from GE Energy Management for use in First Solar’s global solar deployments to optimize electrical balance of plant. By combining complementary technologies, the collaboration is expected to lead to an improvement in solar grid integration, more competitive cost structures and a roadmap for combined electrical equipment.

“We are creating an exciting synergy with this deal,” said Jim Hughes, First Solar’s Chief Executive Officer. “The addition of GE’s PV thin film technology and R&D resources will advance our technology roadmap, while realizing cost reduction in our manufacturing process.”

“To lead in today’s solar industry, you must have the most competitive technology at the most competitive cost position,” said Anne McEntee, president and CEO of GE’s renewable energy business. “We’re excited to partner with First Solar to accelerate innovation and bring our complementary technology and R&D to market faster through its manufacturing capabilities.”

First Solar’s existing manufacturing sites will be used to further advance CdTe technology and achieve an increasingly competitive cost position. GE has decided to discontinue the build-out of its Aurora, Colorado, solar manufacturing facility.

The transaction has closed. King & Spalding LLP and Arnold & Porter LLP represented GE on the transaction, and Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP represented First Solar.

About GE Power & Water

GE Power & Water provides customers with a broad array of power generation, energy delivery and water process technologies to solve their challenges locally. Power & Water works in all areas of the energy industry including renewable resources such as wind and solar; biogas and alternative fuels; and coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear energy. The business also develops advanced technologies to help solve the world’s most complex challenges related to water availability and quality. Power & Water’s six business units include Distributed Power, Nuclear Energy, Power Generation Products, Power Generation Services, Renewable Energy and Water & Process Technologies. Headquartered in Schenectady, N.Y., Power & Water is GE’s largest industrial business.

About First Solar

First Solar is a leading global provider of comprehensive photovoltaic (PV) solar systems which use its advanced module and system technology. The company’s integrated power plant solutions deliver an economically attractive alternative to fossil-fuel electricity generation today. From raw material sourcing through end-of-life module recycling, First Solar’s renewable energy systems protect and enhance the environment. For more information about First Solar, please visit www.firstsolar.com.

For First Solar Investors

This release contains forward-looking statements which are made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The forward-looking statements in this release do not constitute guarantees of future performance. Those statements involve a number of factors that could cause actual results to differ materially, including risks associated with the company’s business involving the company’s products, their development and distribution, economic and competitive factors and the company’s key strategic relationships and other risks detailed in the company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. First Solar assumes no obligation to update any forward-looking information contained in this press release or with respect to the announcements described herein.

Source: First Solar, Inc.

Google to invest in south african solar power plant

Investment in solar energy is continuing in South Africa with the announcement on Thursday the 30th of may 2013 of Google’s $12m investment in the Northern Cape’s 96MW solar photovoltaic Jasper Power Plant.

Eskom the national power producer could see the first power procured from the first round of the independent power producer procurement programme by year-end. Many of the projects coming of the ground from the 18 preferred bidders in the first window of the Department of Energy’s renewable energy Independent Power Producer Procurement (IPP) programme already at build phase.

Independent Power Producers.

The first group IPP bid winners will generate a total of 631MW of electricity from solar power parks ranging in capacity from a small 5MW to larger plants. South Africa’s power supply is urgently in need of extra capacity as it has been running on a thin reserves since about 2008. In 2008 demand outstripped supply, causing a range of blackouts that damaged the economy to the tune of R50bn.

The Jasper project was developed and funded by US-based SolarReserve and South African companies Intikon Energy and the Kensani Group, as well as the Public Investment Corporation, the Development Bank of Southern Africa and the PEACE Humansrus Trust.

When completed, Jasper would be one of the largest solar installations in Africa, capable of generating enough electricity to power 30,000 South African homes, Google said in a statement.

The consortium is expecting to bid for an additional 1,500MW of solar photovoltaic projects in subsequent bid rounds.

At the start of this the week, South African Minister of Energy Dipuo Peters launched another of the projects from the first window of the IPP programme. The development of the RustMo1 Solar Power Plant is the first solar energy park in North West and the first renewable energy project that will supply power to the Eskom grid and produce 250,000MW of energy over the next 20 years.

This 7MW solar photovoltaic power plant was awarded to Momentous Energy, a local black-owned development company. The project includes the installation of 11 inverters and 29,808 photovoltaic solar modules, with a step-up transformer to connect to the 88kV substation.

South Africa is in dire need of more energy after 10 years of Eskom’s pleas for investment in generation capacity being ignored. Solar Power will become a major part of South Africa’s energy needs.

The investment in solar power is not only good for South Africa’s energy requirements it should add to highly needed employment as well.

Grid Tied Solar Power Systems

Grid tied solar power systems are the most common installed systems for companies and households who have access to the national electricity grid. But what is a grid tied solar power system and what are its advantages and disadvantage?

What is a grid tied solar power system.

In layman’s term a grid tied solar power system is a solar powered system which is connected to national power grid. While the sun is shining the photovoltaic solar panels convert the sun’s rays into electricity. Electricity generated by the system can be used for your home and business. Any excess power requirements which your solar panels can not supply will be taken from the national power grid. When the power grid is running properly, your home or business will use power generated from your solar panels and/or pull electricity from the grid. If at any time you generate more electricity from your solar panels as your current power requirements this excess power will feed back into the national power grid. This excess power fed back into the national power grid can give you credit’s on your electricity bill.

Advantages of a grid tied solar power system.

The main advantage of a grid tied solar power system is that you can start small and gradually add on to the system depending on your power requirements and budget. Your power requirements should always be met. If you don’t generate enough energy through solar the national electricity grid will supply the extra power requirements. Excess power for example on weekends when a business generally requires less electricity can be fed back into the national grid. With A grid tied system you can start reducing your electricity bill with a relative low investment.

Disadvantages of a grid tied solar power system

The disadvantage of a grid tied solar system is it only works during the day when the sun is shining and when the national power grid is fully functional. If during the day the national electricity grid fails due to for example load shedding your grid tied solar power system will switch of automatically as well. All grid tied systems will switch off during a power outage because these systems are required by law to feature an automatic shut-off mechanism. These requirements are in place to protect workers working on the power grid during a power outage. This is known as an Anti-Islanding requirement.

So in short the system will not save energy during the night as you will be fully depending on your national power grid and they will not provide electricity during blackouts and load shedding.

Conclusion.

A grid tied solar power system will save money but you will always be depending on the national power grid for your electricity needs.

Solar Power Systems

Solar power systems create free energy from the Sun. Solar power system are using the sun to the process light or heat into an energy source.
It is becoming a reliable renewable energy alternative to regular power sources like coal powered electricity in urban areas. Solar Power systems are even been used in outer space to power satellites and even the international space station. Solar power system as renewable energy sources are used in homes for lighting, electricity generation and water heating. Renewable energy like solar power is becoming even more popular as the cost of fossil fuel continue to rise. Solar panels both thermal and photovoltaic are designed to collect the free energy from the sun.

Different applications of solar power.

Once the solar energy is collected by the solar panels installed the solar power has to be converted into energy either electrical or heat. Solar thermal application processes involve using the energy from the sun to directly heat air or liquids. The process of photoelectric application involves the use of photovoltaic cells to change the energy into electricity.

Solar power challenges.

Solar power poses no harm to the environment. There is an abundance of solar power available. one hour of sunlight beams enough energy to planet earth to satisfy our energy needs for a year. Even though so much free renewable energy reaches earth every hour of the day less than one tenth of one percent of global energy demand is sourced through solar power. Why are we using so little of this freely available solar power ?

  • Cost is currently the main factor. Technology to produce electricity from the sun is still more expensive as burning fossil fuels
  • Storage of solar power. Solar power does not work at night, so energy captured during the day still has no efficient and cost effective way of being stored.

Even though solar power has its challenges it is still a very good choice going forward. Solar thermal energy for hot showers and baths is already proven very cost effective and is growing in popularity. Once the initial investment in solar thermal power is made the solar power is free and reduces your fossil powered energy by about 30%.

Solar power is also very economical to use in remote areas where it is expensive to provide common fossil powered electricity. Your off grid systems with battery backup prove to be very successful in those areas.

Solar Powered Plane Flies 18 Hours

A solar powered plane named the solar impulse managed to fly in 18 hours and 18 minutes non stop from San Francisco to phoenix. This feat was achieved without a single drop of fuel. The plane which is designed to fly non stop for 24 hours is a test model. The team behind it is planning a non stop round the world flight with a larger model.

Solar Powered Plane Technology

The aircraft is propelled by energy collected from 12 000 solar cells built into the wings that at the same time recharge the four large lithium batteries with a storage capacity equivalent to a Tesla electric car. The batteries allow it to fly after sunset.

The lightweight design and wingspan allow the plane to conserve energy, but make it vulnerable to weather conditions. It cannot fly in strong wind, fog, rain or clouds. The plane can climb to 8 534m and flies at an average of 69 km/h.

The Solar Impulse has already flown over Europe and Morocco, before it arrived in the U.S in February. This flight over San Francisco was its third and final test flight before its cross-country journey.

Solar Powered Future ?

Commercial solar powered flights are not foreseeable for the near or distant future, but this project shows what can be achieved with solar power and battery storage.

Solar Panels

Solar Panels can be divided into two different types. You have the Photovoltaic Solar Panels and then you have your Solar thermal collector. Both use the energy from the sun and convert it to power or hot water.

Photovoltaic solar panels & solar thermal collectors can be used independently of each other or in combination. They both serve a different purpose.

Photovoltaic solar panels.

Photovoltaic solar panels collect light from the sun and converts this light into usable electricity. These solar panels can be connected to a battery system to store electricity for use when the sun is not shining. You can have grid tied systems which means you are still connected to the main electricity grid. Off grid systems are stand alone systems where one is not connected to the main electricity grid to have uninterrupted power a battery backup system is required.

Solar thermal collectors.

Solar thermal collectors convert the solar energy received from the sun into hot water or hot air. These solar panels are commonly used in South Africa for heating pools, heating water for use in showers and baths. Considering hot water requirements for a modern household are a major contributor to electricity bills. Investing in solar thermal collectors is a worthwhile investment which should pay for itself. They are also a great solution for the many areas in South Africa which have not been electrified. It will provide cheap hot water for our daily needs.

Solar thermal collectors are more commonly installed than Photovoltaic solar panels due to the technology being simpler and more affordable. If electricity keep rising then we might see more installations of photovoltaic solar panels.

Solar Panels

Solar Panels