From building solar panels in the most inhospitable places to starting a battery storage revolution, it’s been an interesting year for clean energy projects. Here are just ten that caught our eye over the last 12 months:
Tesla’s Aussie Batteries
One of the most remarkable stories of 2017 was the installation of a 100 MW battery in Australia. It all started when Elon Musk was challenged on Twitter to sort out the energy problems in South Australia. Musk came back to say that he could install the battery system within 100 days or he’d give all for free. Once backing was given by the state government, it actually only took Tesla 60 days to install their battery system and they managed to get it online by the middle of December.
Huainan in China: The Floating Solar Farm
It’s big and it floats – the construction in Huainan in China comprises of 166,000 solar panels gleaming in the sun on a huge lake and providing enough energy to power a large town. More than anything it marks China’s real arrival as a clean energy powerhouse and they’re not done yet. The government is looking to invest some $360 million in clean energy projects up to 2020, providing employment for over 13 million people in the process.
Solar for Chernobyl
It’s been a no go area since the nuclear meltdown in the 1986 which forced the entire region to be evacuated. Now money is being invested in large numbers of solar farms to help produce the clean electricity that Ukraine needs. According to The Business Insider recently:
“In 2016, the government announced a plan to redevelop 1,000 square miles of abandoned land around Chernobyl. The soil is still too radioactive for farming, but the area is still connected to Ukraine’s major population centers with power lines that were laid in the 1970s. That makes the site ideal for renewable energy development.”
Plans for Biggest UK Solar Farm at Cleve Hill
While solar PV might have taken a dent from a reduction in the Feed in Tariff in recent years, it’s still going strong in the UK. Once built, the plant at Cleve Hill in Kent will cover 900 acres and provide more than enough power for 110,000 homes. It will be the biggest such project in the UK so far and will have five times the capacity of any previous installation.
The World’s Biggest Wind Turbines: In Liverpool
Liverpool was also home to some record breaking of its own in 2017. The world’s biggest turbines were erected off Liverpool Bay providing enough power for over 200,000 homes. Each turbine rises to a height of 195 metres while the blades are 80 metres long.
Swansea Tidal Lagoon Remains Stalled
We’ve reported on the development of the Swansea Tidal Lagoon a few times here on the Renewable Energy Hub. At the beginning of 2017, confirmation that it was a viable project and that the Government should proceed came from their own commissioned review. Since then the cost of the project (£1.3 billion) has been the cause of delays. As of yet, we’re still not much closer to getting the lagoon built and the more time goes by the less likely it seems.
Scotland Pushes Forward to Harness Sea Power
Having more luck with tidal power is Scotland, this time off shore. Their turbines in the Pentland Firth produced a record amount of electricity this year. Although a small project, it highlights the huge potential that harnessing the seas could bring to the UK. According to Hannah Smith at Scottish Renewables:
“The tides that flow through the Pentland Firth are some of the most powerful anywhere on earth and harnessing them has meant using machines and skills which have never before been tested on a commercial scale. This latest record is just one in a long line for the MeyGen project, which is leading the world in tidal energy deployment.”
Argentina’s 300MW Solar Plant
South America hasn’t been seen as a vital hub of renewable energy but it’s certainly starting to catch up. Construction this year began on the 300 MW Cauchari Solar Project is part of a much wider push to bring renewables to the country. Other countries in the region, including Brazil, are now pushing forward with clean energy investment.
UK Raises Tariff’s for RHI
Much less of a project and more of a statement of intent, the UK government dramatically increased the tariffs for the Renewable Heat Incentive at the end of 2017. That means anyone who installs low carbon heating technology such as heat pumps, solar thermal and biofuel systems can get paid for every kWh they produce. It’s hoped this will encourage people to switch to low carbon alternatives both for the domestic and commercial market.
Dingle Tests the Potential of Battery Storage
It may sound like a small project but it’s impact could be huge. The Irish hamlet of Dingle is being used as a testing ground for battery storage and smart technology with 20 homes being chosen and £1 million invested. According to head of customer innovation at Electric Ireland, Brian Ryan:
“With battery storage in domestic installations at a very early stage, this project will provide an in-depth understanding of the application of battery technology, and will provide critical data for possible future battery applications.”
The project started in December 2017 and is expected to run for two years.