Construction to Begin on State-of-the-Art 300MW Solar Plant in Argentina

It seems everyone around the world has got the solar bug. Many countries are busy investing large amounts of capital in the clean energies of the future. One area where renewables are starting to show a considerable growth is Latin America, particularly in countries such as Argentina.

With the cost of solar coming down over the last ten years and new players such as China playing a bigger role on the green energy landscape, it’s no surprise that almost every day we appear to be getting news of another solar farm construction.

The 300MW project planned at Jujuy in the north of Argentina is set to go into construction shortly at a cost of a little over US$400 million. The Cauchari solar plant will consist of three 100MW sites and is 80% owned by government run energy company Jemse SE, with a 20% stake held by the Shanghai Electric and Talesun, which is also has the contract to build it.

This highlights the continuing trend of Chinese companies taking some role or stake in energy projects all around the world (they also have a share in the much derided Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant here in the UK).

Argentina is thought to be moving well ahead of its Latin American counterparts in the development of renewable energy and has made a promise to ensure that 20% of its power will come from these sources by 2025. It’s even declared 2017 as Renewable Energy Year to help promote technologies such as solar, wind and hydro-electric and widen the public debate.

The country is hoping to achieve their energy goal by holding several auctions for contracts, all this with the hope of achieving at least 10GW of renewables by the 2025 deadline. This development has been run in conjunction with the International Finance Corporation which is part of the World Bank Group. After the first auctions were carried out, the IFC commented:

“The first renewable-energy auction, which aimed to attract 1,000 megawatts worth of new projects, ended up with bids for more than six times that amount—a signal of confidence from local and international developers. Ultimately, after two rounds of bidding, more than 2,400 megawatts were awarded, primarily to wind and solar projects.”

This relationship has inevitably led to the Cuachari plant going into full scale construction this year and could open the door for many other renewable energy projects over the next few years.

Apart from solar, Argentina has great potential for wind power but has, to date, neglected this area with only about 279 MW currently installed. According to Wind Power Monthly, the country could manage to leverage at least 10 times this amount. Indeed, a new auction is on the horizon to help create another 550 MW of wind energy, something that the World Bank itself is backing with a $250 million guarantee.

There’s no doubt that the future of Argentina when it comes to renewables looks bright. The 300 MW Cauchari plant is set to come on line within the next few years and will undoubtedly transform the country’s potential to become the region’s biggest low carbon economy.  Whether other Latin American countries follow their example, remains to be seen.

Armageddon: How We’re Hopelessly Under Prepared for the End of the World

If you think that global warming is under control, you might have been more than a little shocked by a recent report suggesting the contrary. The UK Health Alliance on Climate Change issued a stark warning, stating that we are currently ill equipped to deal with the issues that will face us as a result of changing environmental conditions.

We are already seeing greater incidences of floods in the UK but there are environmental changes taking place all across the globe that could have massive consequences. The future could see the increase of floods, droughts across the globe and freak events such as violent storms that will all have a serious effect on the delivery of good public health.

According to the organisation’s website, this will put massive pressure on places like the NHS if we don’t make changes:

“If we fail to act quickly, it will exacerbate existing national health challenges, place undue financial strain on the NHS, and worsen health inequalities both within the UK and internationally.”

Unless we start to deal with climate change more seriously, we may see the spread of diseases such as malaria and dengue as temperatures rise in more northern countries. It could also cause disruption to agriculture in many parts of the world leading to armed conflicts and the mass migration of peoples that would cause further pressure on already stretched organisations such as the NHS.

It’s an apocalyptic view of our future and one which has gained a lot of press coverage since the New Year. The report also states that by responding to the key drivers of climate change we can tackle some of the major health issues we are already facing today, including the damage being done in our big cities due to air pollution. Governments need to combine a strategy of climate change, air pollution reduction and renewable energy with the strengthening of health services if places like the UK are to have a chance of coping in the future.

For some, it has become all the more worrying when the UK Government recently abolished the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC). While the new Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is now to take over this mantle, many green supporters have already said that the UK’s climate change agenda is being taken off the table. One of the first out of the blocks was Green MP Caroline Lucas who said:

“Climate change is the biggest challenge we face, and it must not be an afterthought for the Government. Dealing with climate change requires a dedicated Minister at the Cabinet table. To throw it into the basement of another Whitehall department looks like a serious backwards step.”

The relationship between the NHS and health care provision in the UK and the climate change agenda is particularly worrying for those who doubt the Conservative Government’s commitment. When they were in opposition prior to 2010 much was made of David Cameron’s promise to make the Tories the greenest party in the country. That developed quite well under the later coalition, some say mainly because of the influence of the liberal democrats. But by 2013, it was clear that things were not going as well as many clean energy enthusiasts hoped with Cameron making comments about ‘getting rid of all this green crap’.

Over the last year, however, following the Conservative majority at the last election, subsidies have been cut and focus has been turned to nuclear energy and the development of fracking. Combine this with the mistrust most voters have with Tory plans for the NHS and the problems our health services are facing and the future looks a little bleak.

According to the UK Health Alliance:

“There is clear and widely accepted evidence that inaction will lead to unacceptable risks. The science is clear; the legal and implementation frameworks are becoming aligned; a national cross-system strategy for the health and social care sectors exists; and the multiple benefits for health if we take action now are profound.”



4KW Solar PV Systems for as Little as £4,000

It seems you can’t go down a street nowadays without seeing at least one rooftop with a set of solar panels boldly attached. More and more of us are embracing the ideal of making our own energy, saving money in the long term, and contributing to the green agenda in the process.

The good news is that, in recent times, the cost of installing solar PV has come down dramatically.

Whereas just a decade or so a 4KW array may have cost you in the region of £10,000 to £14,000, the latest installations, if you shop around, may only set you back some £4,000 to £6,000. That’s a major change in price and something which has been bought about by cheaper manufacturing processes as well as greater competition in the market.

It could get even better in the future. The BBC reported last year on newly developed solar panels that could greatly increase the efficiency of electricity production:

“Researchers in Switzerland are looking to develop a solar panel that can push out twice the energy of existing standard roof panels. The increase in efficiency could mean a rooftop system paying for itself in five years and turn solar energy into a major player.”

And, with new storage batteries coming onto the market and that side of the technology improving, the possibility of becoming self-sustaining and actually producing all our own home electricity is no longer a pipe dream.

The Benefits of Solar PV

When we talk of renewable energy, one of the first things we normally think about is solar. You take the heat from the sun, turn it into energy and produce electricity. It’s almost as simple as that.

Solar has had its detractors in the last decade or two but it is now one of the big players in the energy market. Solar panels last, on average, for twenty to twenty five years and require little or no maintenance during that time. Probably the only piece that will definitely have to be changed is the inverter (the device that feeds the current into the grid and your home) but even that can last between 5 and 10 years and only costs between £400 and £600 to replace.

Despite the reduction of feed in tariffs (the price the Government says you can be paid for the energy you produce), you can still get some decent money back for every kWh that you produce. Add in the savings on your electricity bill because you’re making your own power and there are plenty of cost savings involved in just a small solar array on your home.

The Cost of Solar

It’s not just the cost in the UK that has dropped dramatically. It’s happening all over the world including in the United States and across Europe. Most online sites are currently stating that the installation of a standard solar panel array is going to cost you, on average, around £6,000 which is some 70% cheaper than it was just seven years ago in 2010.

Solar Panel Kits: Are They Worth It?

One option that is beginning to get some coverage at the moment is the DIY installation kit which can be bought online. What it does is provide electricity direct to your home and the manufacturers say that it can save you about £1,500 on your electricity bills a year. With a purchase cost of just around £4,000 that means you could get a return on investment in a little over 3 years. If the figures add up, of course.

The kit contains the 4 kW solar panels, a micro-inverter, roof mount unit and the all-important plug in solar connection unit. According to one UK supplier, Plug In Solar, the accumulative savings over the expected 20 year life of the array is over £30,0000.

Yes, this is fairly cheap and the figures are impressive but there are also some potential disadvantages to consider. For a start, because you’re doing a DIY installation, you can’t get the Feed in Tariff – to have this it must be installed by a MCS certified technician.

While this isn’t a particularly new concept, the sector has been plagued a little by substandard systems and even some actual cons which might give you pause for thought if you are thinking of going down this route. If you are intending to invest a good amount of money, the truth is that just a few extra thousand pounds will get you a MCS certified system that will also provide extra payments through the Feed in Tariff. Potentially this should also deliver a return on investment in a relatively short space of time.

Where to Find a Solar PV Installer

Despite the recent knock to the industry in recent years because of the reduction in subsidies, solar is actually still going strong. If you want to find a reputable supplier or installer in your area, then search our dedicated database here.