Archive for ‘solar power’

05/06/2017

Why China’s wasting huge amounts of cleanly-produced electricity and how to fix it | South China Morning Post

China’s scramble to curb pollution has made it the world leader in renewable energy development, yet increasing amounts of that green electricity have gone unused as the country struggles to integrate wind and solar power into an outdated electricity network dominated by coal.

The problem threatens to slow China’s progress in clearing its air and controlling the greenhouse gas emissions that make it the top contributor to climate change. It also runs counter to a desire by Chinese leaders to fill the leadership gap left by President Donald Trump’s move to withdraw the US from the Paris climate accord.

As international energy ministers gather in Beijing this week to promote renewables, China’s difficulty in maximising its green resources underscores uncertainty over how best to transition to cleaner electricity.

“They installed too much too fast,” said Qiao Liming, China director for the Global Wind Energy Council. “A real market should allow electricity to flow between two provinces. That is currently lacking” in China, she said.China wasted enough renewable energy to power Beijing for an entire year, says Greenpeace

Thousands of new wind turbines and solar panels were installed in China’s remote provinces over the past several years as the country’s leaders sought to alleviate choking urban smog without slowing economic expansion. China now has more renewable power capacity than any other nation.Two nagging problems have dampened that success, however, according to industry representatives and outside observers: China’s sprawling power grid has been unable to handle the influx of new electricity from wind and solar, while some provincial officials have retained a preference for coal.In western China’s Gansu province, 43 per cent of energy from wind went unused in 2016, a phenomenon known in the energy industry as “curtailment”. In the neighbouring Xinjiang region, the curtailment figure was 38 per cent and in northeast China’s Jilin province it was 30 per cent. The nationwide figure, 17 per cent, was described by Qiao’s organisation as shockingly high after increasing for several years in a row.

The problem has shown some signs of improvement this year, according to the China Electricity Council. Power demand in general increased in the first quarter, giving a boost to renewables after the economy regained momentum from 2016’s slowdown.However, experts say wasted energy will continue to be a drag on Chinese renewable power potential until the country’s electrical grid is modernised and provincial officials end their preference for coal, which provides almost two-thirds of the country’s energy.

The problem is worst in winter when many coal plants provide electricity for the power grid and send out excess heat to keep homes and businesses warm.

That’s led provincial officials to keep coal plants running and to reject available wind-generated electricity despite pressure from the central government to use more renewables, said Lu Xi, a professor at Tsinghua University’s School of Environment in Beijing.

“On paper they express quite clear attitudes to promote renewables, but in reality they promote coal interests,” said Frank Yu, a renewables specialist with the consulting firm Wood Mackenzie.

To help address the issue, China’s National Energy Administration has pushed for more wind turbines to be installed closer to Beijing and coastal cities where demand is highest. That should allow renewable energy to bypass part of the dated transmission system that has been blamed for impeding its use. It also would give more populated provinces a greater stake in making sure renewables get used.China has leadership role in fight against climate change

In a separate effort, at this week’s energy ministers meeting in Beijing, Chinese officials are expected to launch a campaign to make its power supply system more flexible. The goal is to create a power grid that can more easily absorb the highs and lows associated with weather dependent wind and solar electricity, said Christian Zinglersen, the head of the Clean Energy Ministerial, which is hosting the meeting.

Still, the problem of electricity going unused could get worse before it gets better, said Zhang Liutong, a senior manager with the Lantau Group, a Hong Kong-based energy consulting firm. More solar and wind is planned in Chinese provinces that already have more power-generating capacity than they use. Additional coal plants also are slated to come online, Zhang said.

China’s difficulties, while more pronounced than in other countries, are not unique. Western countries have experienced their own renewable struggles as utilities tried to integrate weather dependent wind and solar power into electricity grids built around coal plants, which are more polluting but also more reliable.

But over the next two decades, events in developing nations including China and India are expected to play a magnified role in addressing climate change. The United States, meanwhile, appears headed for a diminished presence as Trump and fellow Republicans back away from the climate policies of former President Barack Obama.

Almost all of the increased electricity demand during that period is expected to come from developing nations, according to projections from the International Energy Administration.

China alone will account for about half the total.

China’s struggles to maximise its use of renewables will not necessarily prevent it from meeting international emissions targets that aim to keep global warming below two degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels. But it will make it much more expensive unless China is able to adapt its power supply system while it is still in development, Zinglersen said.

“This is a case of political leadership catching up with the reality on the ground,” he said. “The more flexible a system you can have the more renewables you can allow for.”

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Source: Why China’s wasting huge amounts of cleanly-produced electricity and how to fix it | South China Morning Post

02/06/2017

China flips the switch on world’s biggest floating solar farm | South China Morning Post

The world’s biggest floating solar power plant is up and running in China, as the country increasingly looks to renewable sources for its energy.

It comes at a time when Beijing is expected to take a bigger role in global efforts to tackle climate change, after the United States pulled out of the landmark 195-nation Paris deal.

The new solar farm in the city of Huainan, in the central, coal-rich Anhui province, can generate 40 megawatts of electricity – enough to power 15,000 homes. That’s according to Sungrow Power Supply, the Chinese firm that built the plant. It was connected to the city’s power grid in May.

The solar farm occupies an area that for years saw intensive coal mining. Subsidence and heavy rain created the lake where the solar panels have been installed.

Those panels float on the surface of the water, which ranges in depth from four to 10 metres.While Sungrow did not disclose the exact size of the plant, its capacity is double that of the solar farm previously considered the world’s biggest. That plant is also located in Huainan and was built by Xinyi Solar in 2016.

With US out of Paris climate deal, China’s now able to lead … but is it willing?Earlier in 2016, a floating solar farm began operating on the outskirts of London with capacity to generate just over 6 megawatts of electricity – it was considered the biggest at the time, according to a report in The Guardian.

Floating solar farms take advantage of areas that would otherwise go unused and the water helps to cool the surface of the panels, reducing the risk of overheating.

China is now the largest solar energy producer in the world – its capacity reached 77.42 gigawatts at the end of last year, according to the National Energy Administration. Renewables make up 11 per cent of the country’s energy use, but that number could go up to 20 per cent by 2030.

Earlier this year, the world’s biggest solar farm was unveiled in a remote part of the Tibetan plateau, in western Qinghai province. The sprawling Longyangxia Dam Solar Park covers some 27 square kilometres – almost the size of Macau. It can generate enough power to supply 200,000 homes.

Other large-scale solar projects in the country include the installation of 300 panels above a fish farm in Zhejiang province and a 6-million panel solar farm in the Ningxia autonomous region, which will be the biggest when it is completed.

Chinese companies are also involved in solar projects in other countries. State-owned National Complete Engineering Corporation is working with GCL System Integration Technology to build a 1-gigawatt solar plant in the exclusion zone around the Chernobyl reactor – the site of the worse nuclear accident in history.

China’s embrace of renewable energy presents a stark contrast to the climate policies of the United States, which has announced it will exit the landmark Paris climate agreement. US President Donald Trump has slammed his predecessor Barack Obama for “wasting” taxpayer money on solar companies, called wind farms both “disgusting looking” and “bad for people’s health”, and proposed an administrative budget that would slash renewable energy spending by 70 per cent.

Source: China flips the switch on world’s biggest floating solar farm | South China Morning Post

02/11/2016

India to launch clean energy equity fund of up to $2 billion – sources | Reuters

The Indian government and three state-run firms will jointly set up an equity fund of up to $2 billion for renewable energy companies to tap into to help New Delhi meet its clean energy goals, two government sources told Reuters on Wednesday.

Private and public companies will be able to dip into an initial amount of more than $1 billion starting next fiscal year, said the sources with direct knowledge of the decision taken after a meeting of government officials more than a month ago. India’s government hopes the Clean Energy Equity Fund (CEEF) will attract pension and insurance funds from Canada and Europe.

Around $600 million of the initial pool will come from the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund, under the finance ministry, and the rest from state entities NTPC Ltd, Rural Electrification Corp and the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency, according to one of the sources.

The sources declined to be named as they are not authorised to talk to the media. Officials at the finance ministry, new and renewable energy ministry, NTPC, Rural Electrification, and Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set a target of raising India’s renewable energy target to 175 gigawatts by 2022, more than five times current usage, as part of the fight against climate change by the world’s third-biggest greenhouse gas emitter and to supply power to all of the country’s 1.3 billion people.

The program will depend on getting as much as $175 billion in funding with 70 percent of that likely in bank loans and the rest as equity, the sources said.

The government reckons loans are not a problem but providing equity to investors may be difficult due to uncertainties over returns, one of the sources said.

“As we expand our clean energy capacity, there may be a shortage of equity next year,” said the source. “Private equity is seen as risky in India but if the government itself creates a fund, that gives a lot of confidence.”

India’s clean energy push was set back earlier this year when U.S. solar company SunEdison filed for bankruptcy. The company is now looking to secure partners to see through its planned India projects.

Nevertheless, companies are still keen to invest in clean energy.

Japan’s Softbank Corp, Taiwan’s Foxconn and India’s Bharti Enterprises have pledged to invest about $20 billion in India’s renewable sector. Global solar giants like First Solar Inc, Trina Solar Ltd and Fortum are also expanding their presence.

Source: India to launch clean energy equity fund of up to $2 billion – sources | Reuters

30/06/2016

India to get over $1 billion from World Bank for Modi’s solar goals | Reuters

The World Bank said on Thursday it would lend India more than $1 billion for its huge solar energy programme, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought climate change funds from its visiting head.

Modi is banking on India’s 300 days a year of sunshine to generate power and help fight climate change rather than committing to emission cuts like China.

The World Bank loan is the global lender’s biggest solar aid for any country and comes as India has set a goal of raising its solar capacity nearly 30 times to 100 gigawatts by 2020 and is attracting mega investment proposals from top companies and institutions.

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

“India is the largest client of the World Bank, which lent it around $4.8 billion between 2015 and 2016.

Modi’s office said he told Kim about the need for climate change financing for countries like India that are “consciously choosing to follow an environmentally sustainable path”.

India wants the share of non-fossil fuel in total installed power capacity to jump to 40 percent by 2030 from 30 percent currently, but there are challenges including weak finances of state distribution companies forced to sell subsidised power, difficulties hooking up solar projects to grids, and access to affordable capital.

Still India reckons its renewable energy industry could generate business opportunities worth $160 billion this decade, making it a lucrative market that has already attracted big global players such as Japan’s Softbank Corp, Taiwan’s Foxconn, First Solar, Trina Solar Ltd and Finland’s state-controlled utility Fortum Oyj.

German development bank KFW has already agreed to offer India low-interest loans of around 1 billion euro over the next five years to fund roof-mounted solar panels, and the construction of solar energy farms and self-contained solar power facilities not connected to the grid.

Source: India to get over $1 billion from World Bank for Modi’s solar goals | Reuters

18/04/2015

Apple Grows its Own Solar Farms in China – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Call it savvy public relations or plain good investing, but Apple is becoming a solar-power developer in China.

News Thursday that the Cupertino, Calif.-based company is partnering with SunPower., a major U.S. solar-panel maker, to build two solar power plants in China’s southwestern Sichuan province, highlights Apple’s attempts to offset its growing carbon footprint in China, where it is expanding at a rapid pace.

Although financial terms weren’t disclosed, SunPower said Thursday that Apple will co-own the projects, which have the combined capacity of 40 megawatts.

Apple has previously said it wants to be carbon neutral everywhere it operates, but that admirable goal is considerably absent in China, where the bulk of its products are made. Until now, unhappiness over air pollution mainly has been directed at the Chinese government, but Apple — already under fire over labor and customer-support issues –could become a major target. Initiatives like these could go a long way toward making sure its image in China remains favorable.

Apple tends to be financially involved in clean-energy projects only when they provide electricity for its operations. Apple and SunPower, for example, have partnered together in the U.S. to develop six solar power plants, all of which provide at least some power to Apple’s facilities.

In this case, however, Apple’s solar plants are being built in Sichuan’s remote Aba Tibetan and Qiang autonomous prefectures, far from Apple’s corporate offices, retail stores or manufacturing partners. The region is known for its rolling grasslands, where herders take yaks and sheep to graze, and where multi-colored Tibetan prayer flags are strung up along the slopes of hills.

In an interview on Thursday with China’s official Xinhua news agency, Apple’s vice president of environmental initiatives, Lisa Jackson, said the solar plants will be located in grasslands primarily used for raising yaks. Ms. Jackson, who was previously head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said Apple will take care to minimize the impact of construction on the environment. An Apple spokeswoman said Friday in an email that Apple and its local partners won’t use cement to install solar panels or dig trenches for wires during construction.

Apple has been expanding quickly in China as it attempts to go after the country’s burgeoning middle class. The company currently has 21 retail stores in mainland China and hopes to double that number by the end of next year. Although Apple’s latest efforts to produce clean energy in China might be a drop in the bucket when compared with amount of fossil fuels consumed by its manufacturing partners, Ms. Jackson told Xinhua that the company hopes to lead by example for its more than 330 suppliers.

Apple’s latest projects join a wave of new solar farms under construction in western China. Solar-panel makers, Chinese policy banks and other clean-energy developers are all piling into the business after China revived its solar industry amid the country’s ambitious targets to add as much as 18 gigawatts of solar-power capacity by the end of this year.

via Apple Grows its Own Solar Farms in China – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

15/02/2015

Modi calls for innovation in renewable energy – The Hindu

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday called for innovation and research to develop renewable energy to provide affordable electricity to every household.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Renewable Energy Global Investors Meet meet in Delhi on Sunday. Photo: Ramesh Sharma

Inaugurating the first Renewable Energy Global Investors Meet (RE-Invest), Mr. Modi called for collaboration between the 50 nations with abundant solar power to develop technological solutions.

Stating that the role of energy in development was very important, he said, “We want to increase speed and at the same time scale new heights of development and one of the sectors is energy.”

“We are focussing on renewable energy not for laurels but to lighten homes of the poor and bring a change in their lives,” he said. “We have ponds, can we think of solar panels on top of these ponds? We need to think of innovative ideas.”

He said the cost of electricity from solar photovoltaic cells has come down from Rs. 20 per unit to Rs. 7.50 and research and innovation can help bring it down further.

Hybrid power generation involving solar and wind energy should be encouraged as it will help save on transmission and power evacuation infrastructure cost, he said.

Mr. Modi also called for developing domestic manufacturing of renewable energy equipment to create jobs.

Conserving energy, he said, is the need of the hour.

via Modi calls for innovation in renewable energy – The Hindu.

06/02/2015

Companies set to back huge India solar expansion | Reuters

India could start installing 20,000 megawatts of solar power capacity as early as April after companies pledged to support the government’s drive for clean energy, an official told Reuters.

A worker cleans photovoltaic solar panels inside a solar power plant at Raisan village near Gandhinagar, in Gujarat, February 11, 2014. REUTERS/Amit Dave/Files

Details of the plan, which has drawn commitments from U.S., German and Chinese companies, will be announced on Friday, said Upendra Tripathy, secretary of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.

“We have got commitments from very established industry, both foreign and domestic for next year,” he said in an interview at his office.

Foreign companies will be allowed to decide where they manufacture the required equipment, he said.

via Companies set to back huge India solar expansion | Reuters.

20/11/2014

Cheap Electricity for Poor Squeezing Out Solar in India – Businessweek

The villagers of Dharnai in northern India had been living without electricity for more than 30 years when Greenpeace installed a microgrid to supply reliable, low-cost solar power.

Cooking By Candlelight

Then, within weeks of the lights flickering on in Dharnai’s mud huts, the government utility hooked up the grid — flooding the community with cheap power that undercut the fledgling solar network. While Greenpeace had come to Dharnai at Bihar’s invitation, the unannounced arrival of the state’s utility threatened to put it out of business.

“We wanted to set this up as a business model,” said Abhishek Pratap, a Greenpeace campaigner overseeing the project. “Now we’re in course correction.”

It’s a scenario playing out at dozens of ventures across India’s hinterlands. Competition from state utilities, with their erratic yet unbeatably cheap subsidized power, is scuppering efforts to supply clean, modern energy in a country where more people die from inhaling soot produced by indoor fires than from smoking.

About as many people in India are without electricity as there are residents of the U.S., and the number is growing by a Mumbai every year. Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to bring electricity to every home by 2019 by leapfrogging the nation’s ailing power-distribution infrastructure with solar-powered local networks — the same way mobile-phones have enabled people in poor, remote places to bypass landlines.

via Cheap Electricity for Poor Squeezing Out Solar in India – Businessweek.

19/11/2014

More nuclear plants and renewable energy under new development plan | South China Morning Post

China will boost oil exploration, use less coal and more natural gas, build more nuclear plants and develop renewable energy under a new seven-year development plan.

nuclear.jpg

The State Council’s newly released plans for 2014-2020 marks the latest attempt by policymakers to limit the nation’s appetite for energy. Reflecting its rapid industrialisation and economic growth, China has become a voracious consumer of energy, changing global energy markets and the geopolitics of energy security.

The document sets out five strategic tasks for the nation’s energy development. The first is to achieve greater energy independence by promoting clean and efficient use of coal, increasing domestic oil production, and developing renewable energy .

China plans to develop new and existing oilfields in nine regions where it has large proven reserves – including in the northwestern, central and northeastern provinces as well as offshore fields in the Bohai Gulf and the East and South China seas.

The plan also calls for boosting offshore oil exploration though improved exploration trace analysis, promoting deep-sea bidding from foreign corporations to develop offshore sites and greater research and development in deep-sea oil discovery technology and equipment.

The plan’s second task is to curb excessive energy consumption and implement energy-efficiency programmes in urban and rural areas. The third task builds on this goal by cutting the proportion of coal used in the nation’s energy production while using more natural gas, nuclear power and renewable energy. The plan calls for more nuclear plants to be built along the coast “at a suitable time” while also studying the feasibility of inland nuclear plants.

The fourth task is to expand international cooperation in energy, establish regional markets and participate in global energy governance. The fifth is to promote innovation in energy-related technology.

via More nuclear plants and renewable energy under new development plan | South China Morning Post.

07/11/2014

China’s Solar Power Push – Businessweek

As the world’s largest emitter of carbon, China has decided that one of the best ways to clean up its polluted air is through solar power. The country has led the world in solar installations for the last two years and will likely do so again in 2015. It’s on pace to reach 33 gigawatts of solar power capacity by the end of 2014, 42 times more than it had in 2010 and more than exists in Spain, Italy, and the U.K. combined, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. (The U.S. will have 20 gigawatts by the end of this year.)

Most of China’s solar power comes from sprawling utility-scale solar farms in the country’s rural west. Now the idea is to distribute solar panels in urban areas, putting them on top of office buildings and factories and connecting them to the grid without building miles of costly transmission lines. In 2015, BNEF estimates that China will add as much as 15 gigawatts of solar capacity, enough to power roughly 16 million homes. More than half of that increase will come from cheap panels installed on commercial buildings. If the 2015 projection holds, China will have installed twice as much solar power in factories and office towers in one year than currently exists in all of Australia, one of the world’s sunniest countries.

via China’s Solar Power Push – Businessweek.

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