To Reach Net Zero, the Renewable Energy Supply Chain Must Evolve

investment down

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The U.K. signed the Paris Agreement five years ago, signifying its climate change prevention efforts. The goal revolves around greenhouse gas emission reductions. It adopted various renewable energy sources to limit atmospheric pollution and generate a zero-carbon economy.

When conducting life cycle assessments and energy audits, researchers discovered ecological issues with clean electricity sources. Low efficiency levels and emission-generating production practices decrease the sustainability of renewable energy. Fortunately, we can restructure the supply chain and increase the industry’s eco-consciousness.

Issues in Production

Various production aspects decrease the sustainability of renewable energy sources. The industry is relatively new and still evolving. Over time, researchers and engineers can target environmentally degrading features and source solutions.

When conducting a life cycle assessment of the production process, one must start by evaluating the materials’ origins. The mining and manufacturing associated with wind turbines generate 80% of their carbon emissions. Additional outputs derive from the transportation of materials and the devices themselves.

The transportation sector produces 27% of all U.K. greenhouse gas emissions. Some of the materials in wind, solar and geothermal systems are rare, decreasing their accessibility. Manufacturers receive the components through air, boat or vehicle transportation, taking on their carbon footprint.

The devices also take on the manufacturing facilities’ emissions. Conventional global energy sources derive from fossil fuels, like coal and natural gas. They pollute the atmosphere during combustion. There are many incentives for manufacturers to convert to sustainable energy, including increasing efficiency and appealing to eco-conscious consumers. Going green pays off in more ways than one.

A significant portion of renewable energy sources’ carbon footprints come from poorly managed facilities. We can increase the sustainability of green devices by restructuring the supply chain. When utilizing an electric grid, we can power production facilities and transportation with zero-emission energy.

The Electric Grid

The electric grid is a sustainable alternative to the current energy system. It can eliminate our reliance on fossil fuels by sourcing all power from renewables, helping countries achieve net-zero goals.

Generating a net-zero grid requires renewable support for production. Fuel cell energy is on the rise, offering zero-emission electricity and vehicle power. Conventionally, fossil fuel-driven energy helps produce hydrogen for fuel cells.

Recently, environmental engineers discovered a method of production using wind power. It helps companies access clean energy without any associated emissions. The net-zero results offer the potential for a purely sustainable electricity grid.

Producing the net-zero electric grid also requires technological advancements in storage systems. One company developed an efficient model using industrial lithium-ion batteries. The energy storage facility has a 300-megawatt battery, holding enough renewable power to help fuel northern California homes during peak hours.

The facility also repurposed an old power plant as its storage center. We can transform the energy sector in a sustainable way, recycling materials and generating zero emissions. When powering a region with the electric grid, commercial and residential properties must adopt compatible technology.

Compatible Devices

Supporting the longevity of renewable power requires energy-efficient devices. Electric and zero-emission items can preserve sources by preventing overworking and burnout.

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems historically consume high quantities of energy. Building owners may install electric HVAC devices or geothermal heating pumps, lowering the overconsumption of energy. Installing a geothermal system can decrease a resident’s energy utilization by nearly 70% a year. Low power consumption improves the efficiency and output of renewable energy sources.

Additionally, consumers can convert from fossil fuel-reliant vehicles to electric versions. You can power electric cars with clean energy, generating a net-zero transportation method. Fortunately, the current devices on the market are compatible, decreasing the need for additional production.

The Initial Steps

Meeting the Paris Agreement’s objective requires a complete restructuring of the energy industry. Before developing an electric grid, professionals may convert current production practices away from their fossil fuel reliance. Society may adopt compatible devices after creating a net-zero supply chain.

Various commercial and residential building owners are jumping the gun and installing electric, zero-emission devices today. Even without an electric grid, the devices significantly shrink one’s carbon footprint. They also increase the value of a property, catering to eco-consumer demands.

Author bio:

Jane works as an environmental and energy writer. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of

Environment.co.

UK Ranked 6th for Share of Power Generated by Wind and Solar Energy

Wind Turbine

The energy and climate think tank Ember ranked the UK 6th for their share of power generated by renewable energy. Denmark held the number one spot. In 2019, wind accounted for 47% of their power usage.

The Rise of Wind and Solar Energy Consumption 

The UK falls not too far behind, with 24.2% of its electricity powered by wind turbines in 2020. Prime Minister Boris Johnson claims that offshore wind turbines can create enough energy to power every home in the UK within a decade. He plans to upgrade ports and factories for building turbines. The plan also will invest money into manufacturing sites in Teeside Humber located in Northern England.

Along with the growth of wind power, solar power has also increased in popularity. It made up 6% of the total renewable energy generated in 2019. In 2020, there was a significant increase in ground-mounted solar systems. These were mainly driven by large-scale utility projects. There was also a slight increase in rooftop installations.

The partnership between Solar Energy UK and Solar Media Ltd. helped to provide market insights on these projects.

The Decline in Fossil Fuel and Coal Usage

The UK has also decreased its production of coal over the past few years. The amount of coal consumption dropped from 54 million metric tons in 2012 to 2.9 million metric tons in 2019. In fact, the UK only accounts for 3.6% of the world’s total coal consumption. The UK imports most of its coal from Russia.

The UK also saw a decline in its generation of fossil fuels. The pandemic was one major cause of the shift. With the lockdowns, there was lower demand for electricity. This led to the shutdown of many coal-fired plants. Also, during the pandemic, fewer people needed gas. 

The UK’s growing wind industry also impacts the decrease of fossil fuel production. With more wind power available, the less need to rely on nonrenewable sources. The UK is also home to the largest single wind farm in Yorkshire. The plant generates 5% of the country’s total electricity.

The Demand for Electricity Has Declined

The electricity demand has been declining in the UK for the past few years. In 2020, the need for electricity fell to 331,4488 gigawatts per hour. Part of this was due to COVID-19, but other factors include energy-efficient regulations and more eco-friendly consumers.

Since more people understand the benefits of using renewable energy, there’s a lowered demand for other sources.

Why Renewable Energy Is Playing a Larger Role

The UK’s stricter government regulations are causing an increase in renewable energy sources.

In 2015, there was a Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MESS) put in place for Whales and England.

This standard set an energy efficiency level for all domestic private rented properties. If the residence has an energy performance certificate (EPC) rating of F or G landlords need to make changes to improve their property. These changes may have to do with lighting or heating.

For example, you could add a solar water heater or solar panels to your home. The MESS regulations were put in place to help the UK reach its carbon reduction targets.

More energy-efficient homes also lower energy bills for consumers. This is why buying energy-efficient appliances are attractive to many people. Residents aren’t the only ones thinking about energy-efficient options. Some power plants use compressed air storage to save energy. This can help to increase the supply during peak energy hours.

There Is Still More to Be Done

While the UK and other countries, such as the U.S. and China, are moving towards renewable energy use. There is still more that needs to be done. To help curb climate emissions, we need to work towards 100% clean energy by 2050. This will help to try and limit the global temperature rise to 1.5℃.

With the UK’s increase in renewable energy and reduction of fossil fuels, they’re helping steer us towards a cleaner future.

Top 5 Solar Land Requirements

A solar land lease is an excellent way to generate an additional revenue stream—with little to no effort on the part of the landowner. In 2021, solar developers across the United States are seeking suitable land for the development of solar farm projects. However, not every parcel of land is suitable for a solar farm and, although the specifics can vary on a project-by-project basis, there are some key requirements common to a successful solar farm.

Below, we have explored the five key areas which determine whether or not land is suitable for the development of a solar project. Of course, each piece of land is unique and the best way to determine the viability of a solar farm is to speak directly with an experienced solar developer. Nonetheless, the following points will give a general idea of whether or not land is suitable for a solar farm.

#1. Parcel Size

If the parcel of land isn’t large enough to house a solar farm, then the project won’t go ahead. Generally speaking, solar developers will require a minimum of 10 acres of usable land—or 200 acres for a utility-scale project. A good rule of thumb is that 1 kilowatt (kW) of solar panels requires an area of 100 square feet. It’s also important to note that local towns and authorities usually do not permit full coverage of the entire parcel. YSG’s experience is that instead, they will likely allow somewhere in the vicinity of 60% of the total acreage to be covered with the solar PV project. So, if we take our 10 acre minimum as an example, only 6 of those acres will be utilized after setbacks and zoning restrictions. This will be equal to a 1 MWdc solar facility based on YSG’s 5 acres per 1 MW rule of thumb.

#2. Land Condition

As with a traditional agricultural farm, the quality of the terrain will play a significant role in determining the viability and success of the project. Solar developers are seeking clear, flat land, with little to no wetlands, and minimal incline (5 degrees maximum). YSG has noticed a trend towards single-axis tracker units. This is a racking system that will move in a single direction (east/west) to maximize the generation of each solar panel. This can increase power generation by 15%. According to Kenneth DeCiccio at YSG Solar, the land must not exceed a 5 degree incline in order to utilize a tracker system. The land should receive plenty of sunlight annually and be stable enough to house all necessary solar equipment. Smaller obstructions like bushes, shrubs, and other vegetation can be removed—though this could increase overall project costs—but major obstructions which prohibit construction or cause significant shading may prove too big of a stumbling block for developers.

#3. Infrastructure Proximity

Alongside the size and quality of the land, its location will play a key role in determining the viability of a solar farm. YSG’s rule of thumb is to make sure that the parcel is within 1,000 feet of three-phase power, and 2 miles of a substation. The further away a location is from the grid, the higher the cost of interconnection for the developer. As the distance and the cost increase, the land becomes less desirable for prospective developers. Even infrastructure like road access is an important component, as easy access to main roads keeps transport costs low, thus reducing the overall cost of the project. Proximity to a big town/city may offer greater access to the infrastructure necessary for the operations and maintenance of a solar farm project. YSG’s project developer, Kenneth DeCiccio, says, “We avoid connecting solar facilities at the end of the circuit, and the closer proximity to the substation does impact our interconnection upgrade costs.” Items like primary metering, reclosures, and upgrading fuses at the substation are standard upgrade costs, while reconductoring can also be an expensive item. How much does it cost to run three-phase power to a solar farm? On average, in the Northeast of the U.S, the cost is $500,000 per mile of electrical feeder. The typical voltage that a solar farm is seeking will be 12 kV – 32.4 kV.

#4. Local Policy

Regardless of the size or quality of a parcel of land, if local laws and regulations prohibit the construction of a solar farm, then the project will not be able to proceed. For a developer and landowner to work together and develop a solar farm, they need a clear path to construction and interconnection, with local policy allowing for the development of a solar PV project on the land. If there are immediate issues with construction permits or land limits then, unfortunately, the solar farm simply won’t be viable. These issues are more common in areas with fewer renewable energy projects, where the regulations and laws surrounding projects like solar farms are prohibitive or underdeveloped. YSG Solar has worked with various local governments to help rewrite zoning laws or other land use regulations to allow for solar farm development. Typically, items such as screening and visual buffers are of great importance to the community. In areas such as the Hudson Valley region in upstate New York, most of the towns require solar farm ‘screening’ per the local town code. Additionally, certain areas must be left undeveloped for environmental/conservation reasons. For example, the land may be home to a protected species of plant/animal.

#5. Flooding Potential

Before construction begins on a solar farm project, a flood risk assessment must be carried out to ensure that the land is not under threat from future flooding. If the risk assessment indicates a high risk of flooding then the project is unlikely to move ahead. However, even if the land is located on a floodplain, it doesn’t necessarily rule out a solar farm completely. In New York, for example, information regarding flood stage levels is available for most rivers in the state. So, even if the parcel is located on a floodplain, it may be possible to proceed with a solar project—it just requires a little extra planning to ensure that the solar equipment is both strong enough and elevated enough to withstand any potential flooding. It is important to note, however, that these additional measures could lead to additional project costs.

YSG Solar is a project development company responsible for commoditizing energy infrastructure projects. We work with long-term owners and operators to provide clean energy assets with stable, predictable cash flows. YSG’s market focus is distributed generation and utility-scale projects located within North America.

How Much Energy Do NFTs Take Up?

Nonfungible tokens, or NFTs, are unifying computerization and the world of marketable art. Like Bitcoin, the tokens are a cryptocurrency. However, instead of maintaining a fixed value, each token holds a different value, like a baseball card.

The push towards digitization derives from eco-conscious intentions. Physical art forms utilize many materials like ecologically degrading paints and rare resources. Though NFTs may lessen artists’ exploitation of natural resources, it is essential to examine their carbon footprint.

The Environmental Impact of Physical Art

Before evaluating the energy use and carbon footprint of NFTs, we must examine the environmental impact of physical art forms.

Many well-known pieces display nationally, traveling from exhibit to exhibit. The greenhouse gas emissions generated from shipping an art piece by plane or truck significantly affect its carbon footprint.

The transportation sector accounts for 27% of the U.K.’s total carbon emissions. It is the single most polluting division of the country, generating 112 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually. When artists frequently move their work, it contributes to atmospheric pollution.

Artists also use paints containing volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These compounds have adverse environmental and human health effects. VOCs generate fine particles, creating smog and compromising the ozone layer.

VOCs’ effects increase climate change and ecological degradation. Glass-blown pieces also generate adverse environmental impacts. High-temperature ovens rely on vast quantities of natural gases to function, for example.

When burned, natural gas releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The glass blowing sector also has low recycling rates and creates heavy metal pollution. All these ecological considerations led environmentalists to revolutionize the art industry.

NFTs and Their Environmental Impact

Since the Paris Agreement, various industries have adopted sustainable practices. Corporations increasingly balance shareholder expectations with reductions in localized community pollution and increased ecological conservation.

The market is changing, and industries must meet eco-consumer demands to remain relevant and profitable. Over 62% of Generation Z consumers prefer to purchase sustainably sourced goods and services. As a result, they represent a significant portion of the consumer market, influencing company actions.

Unfortunately, NFTs come with environmental limitations. Most “crypto art” distribution and security technology derive from Ethereum. The Ethereum platform uses 48.14 kilowatt-hours of energy per transaction.

The Ethereum blockchain generates thousands of transactions every day. One transaction uses as much power as the conventional household over a day and a half. As a result, it significantly increases global energy consumption.

The blockchain uses vast quantities of energy for proof-of-work (PoW) security. When you purchase an NFT, you hold the original and singular rights to the digital artwork. PoW prevents double-spending or duplication of the piece.

The security system uses data mining to assign a unique identifier to the purchase and constructs mathematical problems that ensure an owner’s protection. Math problems are solved through trial and error by computer systems, running all day and using significant amounts of electricity.

A Sustainable Solution

Environmental engineers and scientists search for sustainable solutions to crypto’s serious emission problem. Data mining generates a significant portion of energy expenditure in the NFT industry. Recently, Elon Musk explained Bitcoin’s plans for using renewable energy.

Musk presented a goal of mining with 50% renewable energy. NFTs can also utilize clean power, significantly reducing their environmental impact. However, a global transition will take time, strict policies, and public pressure.

Over 75% of cryptocurrency data mining occurred in China in 2020. China fuels 40% of its coin mining operations with coal, causing high greenhouse gas emissions. The under-regulation of crypto limits investors’ abilities to influence energy sourcing.

Fortunately, eco-consumers continue driving the market in various industries. For example, they influenced modern physical art forms, creating pieces with trash and limiting surface pollution. So, what is holding them back from altering NFT practices?

Without customers, the crypto art market will crash. Miners must adopt renewable energy and sustainability features for financial success. Over time, their influence can bring carbon-neutrality to the NFT industry.

How to Help

If you are a digital art fanatic looking to expand your gallery, evaluate mining sources before purchasing. Consider the impact of your purchase and its effect on your carbon footprint. Supporting renewably fueled mining can positively influence the NFT market.

Purchasing NFTs from coal-driven mining platforms can support ecologically degrading practices. In addition, you can conduct crypto origin research and ensure the limited impact of your digital art purchase.

Top 5 Solar Farm Land Requirements

A solar land lease is an excellent way to generate an additional revenue stream—with little to no effort on the part of the landowner. In 2021, solar developers across the United States are seeking suitable land for the development of solar farm projects. However, not every parcel of land is suitable for a solar farm and, although the specifics can vary on a project-by-project basis, there are some key requirements common to a successful solar farm.

Below, we have explored the five key areas which determine whether or not land is suitable for the development of a solar project. Of course, each piece of land is unique and the best way to determine the viability of a solar farm is to speak directly with an experienced solar developer. Nonetheless, the following points will give a general idea of whether or not land is suitable for a solar farm.

#1. Parcel Size

If the parcel of land isn’t large enough to house a solar farm, then the project won’t go ahead. Generally speaking, solar developers will require a minimum of 10 acres of usable land—or 200 acres for a utility-scale project. A good rule of thumb is that 1 kilowatt (kW) of solar panels requires an area of 100 square feet. It’s also important to note that local towns and authorities usually do not permit full coverage of the entire parcel. YSG’s experience is that instead, they will likely allow somewhere in the vicinity of 60% of the total acreage to be covered with the solar PV project. So, if we take our 10 acre minimum as an example, only 6 of those acres will be utilized after setbacks and zoning restrictions. This will be equal to a 1 MWdc solar facility based on YSG’s 5 acres per 1 MW rule of thumb.

#2. Land Condition

As with a traditional agricultural farm, the quality of the terrain will play a significant role in determining the viability and success of the project. Solar developers are seeking clear, flat land, with little to no wetlands, and minimal incline (5 degrees maximum). YSG has noticed a trend towards single-axis tracker units. This is a racking system that will move in a single direction (east/west) to maximize the generation of each solar panel. This can increase power generation by 15%. According to Kenneth DeCiccio at YSG Solar, the land must not exceed a 5 degree incline in order to utilize a tracker system. The land should receive plenty of sunlight annually and be stable enough to house all necessary solar equipment. Smaller obstructions like bushes, shrubs, and other vegetation can be removed—though this could increase overall project costs—but major obstructions which prohibit construction or cause significant shading may prove too big of a stumbling block for developers.

#3. Infrastructure Proximity

Alongside the size and quality of the land, its location will play a key role in determining the viability of a solar farm. YSG’s rule of thumb is to make sure that the parcel is within 1,000 feet of three-phase power, and 2 miles of a substation. The further away a location is from the grid, the higher the cost of interconnection for the developer. As the distance and the cost increase, the land becomes less desirable for prospective developers. Even infrastructure like road access is an important component, as easy access to main roads keeps transport costs low, thus reducing the overall cost of the project. Proximity to a big town/city may offer greater access to the infrastructure necessary for the operations and maintenance of a solar farm project. YSG’s project developer, Kenneth DeCiccio, says, “We avoid connecting solar facilities at the end of the circuit, and the closer proximity to the substation does impact our interconnection upgrade costs.” Items like primary metering, reclosures, and upgrading fuses at the substation are standard upgrade costs, while reconductoring can also be an expensive item. How much does it cost to run three-phase power to a solar farm? On average, in the Northeast of the U.S, the cost is $500,000 per mile of electrical feeder. The typical voltage that a solar farm is seeking will be 12 kV – 32.4 kV.

#4. Local Policy

Regardless of the size or quality of a parcel of land, if local laws and regulations prohibit the construction of a solar farm, then the project will not be able to proceed. For a developer and landowner to work together and develop a solar farm, they need a clear path to construction and interconnection, with local policy allowing for the development of a solar PV project on the land. If there are immediate issues with construction permits or land limits then, unfortunately, the solar farm simply won’t be viable. These issues are more common in areas with fewer renewable energy projects, where the regulations and laws surrounding projects like solar farms are prohibitive or underdeveloped. YSG Solar has worked with various local governments to help rewrite zoning laws or other land use regulations to allow for solar farm development. Typically, items such as screening and visual buffers are of great importance to the community. In areas such as the Hudson Valley region in upstate New York, most of the towns require solar farm ‘screening’ per the local town code. Additionally, certain areas must be left undeveloped for environmental/conservation reasons. For example, the land may be home to a protected species of plant/animal.

#5. Flooding Potential

Before construction begins on a solar farm project, a flood risk assessment must be carried out to ensure that the land is not under threat from future flooding. If the risk assessment indicates a high risk of flooding then the project is unlikely to move ahead. However, even if the land is located on a floodplain, it doesn’t necessarily rule out a solar farm completely. In New York, for example, information regarding flood stage levels is available for most rivers in the state. So, even if the parcel is located on a floodplain, it may be possible to proceed with a solar project—it just requires a little extra planning to ensure that the solar equipment is both strong enough and elevated enough to withstand any potential flooding. It is important to note, however, that these additional measures could lead to additional project costs.

YSG Solar is a project development company responsible for commoditizing energy infrastructure projects. We work with long-term owners and operators to provide clean energy assets with stable, predictable cash flows. YSG’s market focus is distributed generation and utility-scale projects located within North America.

5 Benefits and Challenges of Using Secondhand Solar Panels

Homeowners invest in solar panels to decrease their pollution and carbon emissions. Many of them may wonder what happens to a solar energy system when it is no longer in use. Storms, natural disasters and sold real estate affect a panel’s life expectancy.

If people believe their panels have expired, they may send them to a landfill, generating ecologically harmful waste. Many individuals dispose of them too early when efficiency levels remain high. You can reduce waste and shrink your carbon footprint by investing in secondhand solar panels.

Secondhand Panel Demands

Secondhand solar purchases are new in the industry. Though many individuals are unaware of its existence, it aids in panels’ lifelong sustainability. When owners no longer use their renewable energy system, improper disposal decreases environmental protection.

Various panel elements are recyclable, including metal, glass and wiring. Silicon cells are essential to energy production, but they also contain complex parts to dispose of.

Silicon wafers are nonrecyclable like other panel materials, and engineers discovered a repurposing method for them. Certain facilities can melt down the cells, extracting silicone and metals for reuse. The cells also contain cadmium and lead, which degrade the environment when improperly disposed of or recycled.

When individuals discover the extent of recycling panels and the potential ecological harms, they turn to secondhand versions. The demand for reused panels also increased through the COVID pandemic and following the Texas power outages. Residents want to remove themselves from the grid for a reasonable price.

Benefits

Thrifted panel demands additionally derive from renewable energy first-timers. Used panels generally have a shorter life expectancy and are cost-efficient. If homeowners want to explore solar benefits without less of a commitment, they can try going secondhand.

1. Emission Reduction

Previously used panel purchases provide various benefits to homeowners. They help customers reduce their carbon emissions. Solar systems rely on nondepletable sunlight, meeting all residential energy demands.

2. Waste Reduction

The panels also reduce waste. If homeowners who bought new systems live in a shaded or less efficient region, they may get rid of them. Rather than generating waste in a landfill, thrifted systems receive a second life.

3. Cost-Efficient Energy Bill

Secondhand systems significantly reduce the owner’s energy bills. New panels cost $300 apiece, averaging $2.67 per watt. A used one can cost $75 and average 25 cents per watt. If you are hoping to power your entire property, you can purchase more thrifted systems for less.

4. Appliance Support

Installing used solar panels also opens the door for other renewable devices. Once you put a secondhand system into place, you can utilize a solar water heater. The more appliances you connect to your system, the smaller your carbon footprint becomes.

You can additionally utilize a solar thermal chiller after installing thrifted panels. The emission-free system uses up to 90% less energy than conventional air conditioners. Energy-efficient appliances help preserve your solar system, reducing stress. 

Electric vehicle solar charging ports are on the rise. The transportation sector accounts for the most significant portion of global greenhouse gas emissions. You can reduce your emissions when connecting your home charging port to a secondhand solar system. 

5. Technological Advancements

Solar panels have an efficiency rate of 20% on average, and technological advancements will boost that number. Purchasing a panel system close to its expiration date gives owners the freedom to acquire new technology when they hit the market.

Challenges

All used purchases come with some limitations. Thrifted panels benefit the environment and a customer’s wallet when in adequate condition. You always run the risk of purchasing a malfunctioning system when acquiring secondhand goods.

1. Decreased Efficiency

Solar panel efficiency decreases with age. The rate of degradation depends on the tier or panel type. Tier one panels degrade at .30%, reaching 93.04% efficiency over 25 years. The third-tier panels degrade to 82.47%

2. Damage and Imperfections

Damage and imperfections are difficult to spot. If a panel contains internal moisture from cracks or malfunctions, the voltage output will fluctuate, interfering with energy demands. Other issues may interfere with efficiency rates or cause zero energy.

3. No Company Backing

Unlike purchasing panels from a company, used versions lack warranty backing. If the equipment has issues and needs repairs, it is on your dime. Though solar maintenance costs dropped significantly in the past few years, they are more costly than complimentary repairs from the sales or installation company.

4. Out-of-Pocket Installations

Many solar companies conduct the installation. When you purchase new, the provider calculates this into your cost and sends professionals to your home. Used solar panels lack a setup crew, leading individuals to pay out-of-pocket for mounting and wiring.

5. Transportation Expenses

Similar to installations, companies pay for system transportation following a new purchase. If you buy used solar panels, you are responsible for transporting the devices. You may hire a moving team to transport the system, ensuring its safety throughout the trip.

First Step

If you have weighed the pros and cons of purchasing used solar panels and decided to follow through, you may want to contact a renewable energy consultant. They can evaluate the age, efficiency and condition of the system before you make the purchase. When the professional gives you the go-ahead, you may install your panels and experience the environmental and financial benefits.

The Future of Heating in Housing Developments: Shared Ground Arrays

GSHP

In 2025 gas boilers will be banned from installation in new build properties in favour of low-carbon heating technologies such as ground source heat pumps. This piece of legislation marks a significant move by the UK government as we push forward to reach carbon net zero targets by 2050.

The government target for the number of new homes to be built each year is 300,000 – to install heat pumps in this many properties is a 20-fold increase from today’s current number of installations which stands at around 30,000 a year. So, the question is, how can the heat pump industry achieve this rate of growth in the space of just a few years?

One solution being proposed is Shared Ground Arrays, a method of installation already being rolled out by ground source heat pump specialists Thermal Earth.

What are shared ground arrays?

Ground arrays or ground collectors are a network of pipes installed underground which collect energy from the earth and circulate it to a heat pump where the temperature is raised and then distributed to radiators, underfloor heating and hot water cylinders to provide heating and hot water in the home. Typically, one property has its own ground array which is sized specifically to collect enough energy for the heat demand of that particular property.

Shared ground arrays are the same principle however two or more properties can be connected to one ground array which reduces the amount of groundwork required, speeding up installation time.

Shared ground arrays are installed vertically in boreholes, the number of boreholes needed and their depth will depend on the amount of properties being connected and their required heat load. As an example one borehole at around 100 metres deep can provide enough energy for two 2 bedroom apartments.

Each property connected to a shared ground array has its own heat pump installed (typically placed in a garage, utility room, airing cupboard or even under the stairs) so that homeowners or tenants can set their preferred temperatures, heating schedules and also select an electricity tariff to power their heat pump which offers the best value for them.  

Shared ground arrays will be a particularly effective solution for housing developments as properties are normally built to the same size and specification making it easier to calculate the required size of each ground collector.  As the drilling team are often the first on-site, before any houses are constructed, it also means there is minimal disruption.

What the benefits of shared ground arrays?

Shared ground arrays provide many advantages, particularly for new build properties. These include:

  • A long lifespan of 100+ years
  • Less groundwork required
  • Reduced installation time
  • Decreased costs associated with ground works
  • Highly efficient source of energy – ground source heat pumps produce around 3-4kWh of heat for every 1kW of electricity which is an efficiency of 300-400%
  • Lower energy bills – As ground source heat pumps are so efficient, residents living in the properties can benefit from lower energy bills
  • Cooling functionality – Ground source heat pumps can operate in reverse and provide Passive or Active cooling in warmer months, increasing comfort levels for residents
  • Clean and carbon free – Heat pumps are powered by electricity and do not produce any on-site carbon. When a renewable electricity provider is used, the system will be 100% carbon-free
  • Little maintenance required

Who will the shared ground arrays belong to?

In most cases it’s likely that ownership will be retained by the property development company. This gives the opportunity for the cost of installation to be offset by charging a monthly utility tariff to those residing in the connected properties. Developers such as Persimmon already charge a service fee to residents for the upkeep and maintenance of general areas of a development so a ground array tariff could be incorporated into this. Once the initial outlay has been recouped, this could become a new long-term revenue stream for property developers which requires little to no maintenance.

It’s also possible that the ground arrays could be sold to a utility management company who will maintain the system and charge residents a small monthly tariff. 

How to Make Fish Farming More Sustainable

Sustainable Fish Farming

According to a recommendation by the American Heart Association, people are encouraged to eat fish at least twice a week.  Fish is considered to be low in saturated fat, high in protein and rich in omega 3 fatty acids. The global consumption of fish has so far increased and currently, about a half of the seafood that’s consumed globally is produced through fish farming. 

According to a projection by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); fish farming will be one of the fastest ways of producing fish for global consumption. By 2030, fish farming will be responsible for about two thirds of the fish that we consume. One of the most common types of aquaculture is that which entails farming in cages or nets, and pens that have been anchored at the seabed. 

FAO estimates that about 600 aquatic species are produced globally in diverse aquaculture systems through use of brackish water, saltwater, and freshwater. China is one of the largest exporters of fish globally and the biggest aquaculture producer. About 88 percent of aquaculture is practiced in Asia. Fish farming has had a long reputation of not being sustainable as it takes almost 3 tons of forage fish to feed and produce about a ton of salmon. 

Here are some of the things to be done if fish farming is to be more sustainable;

Awareness of the environmental risks of marine aquaculture

In order to practice sustainable fish farming; there should be an awareness of the environmental risks that are associated with marine aquaculture. When practicing marine aquaculture; it’s important to note that leftover foods and fish waste that spills out of the nets right into the ocean and in turn cause nutrient pollution. The spillage may in turn lead to oxygen depletion in the sea or oceans and can in turn lead to the death of aquatic creatures.

In addition, the antibiotics and pesticides that are normally used in farmed fish can affect human health and other marine life. When fish are crowded together in pens and nets; they are more susceptible to stress and that creates an environment for diseases to spread quite fast even to reach the wild fish. The most sustainable method of farming fish is to consider engaging in land-based aquaculture. Farming fish in closed systems can help minimize the spread of disease and also eliminate fish escapes. 

Fish farming has to some extent been responsible for the destruction of mangroves. As you may know, mangroves help with various ecological functions including being a habitat for diverse species. Mangroves also prevent soil erosion and provide protection from storms.

Use of New Kinds of Feed

The environmental exploitation of forage fish for feed alongside the high prices for feed makes it difficult for fish farming to be sustainable. There should be continued research into identifying alternative sources of fish meal or coming up with ways to make feeds sustainable. Soybeans and plant waste are some of the alternatives being explored. 

Get more information on sustainable ways of fish farming that you can adopt by visiting https://ecolonomics.org/. Become part of the community and engage with a team of farmers from diverse fields of interest.

The Future Of Solar Power And Other Renewable Energy

SunPower_PV

With an insatiable demand, many natural energy sources are dwindling at an alarming rate. While a number of experts are racing against the clock to find a better solution, more and more people are opting for solar power and other renewable sources of energy. And for today’s piece, we will get into these energy sources and see what the future holds for them.

Renewable Energy: What Is It?

Any form of energy that generates and replenishes through natural means is known as renewable energy. These energy sources include wind, waves, sunlight, geothermal heat, water, and so on. Although they occur via natural means, the generation of these energy sources is limited. And at most times, it would depend on some determinants, like weather, timing, and man-made factors.

The Types Of Renewable Energy

Solar Energy

Photo via creative commons

One of the most utilized naturally-occurring energy sources, solar energy works best for many purposes. Humans use it to set and dry numerous kinds of food, keep away from being cold, dry cold, and grow various yields and crops. And with today’s technology, we use a solar generator to produce electricity for commercial, industrial, and residential settings.

Wind Energy

Photo by janie.hernandez55

A study shows that wind energy is among the cheapest sources of natural power. And utilizing wind has been around for thousands of years, just like solar and hydro energy. And thankfully, we don’t have to rely on old-fashioned windmills so we can use wind energy. Windmills and other harnessing devices can do it on our behalf.

Biomass

Photo courtesy of Karuna Bhavan

Biomass energy is a source that comes in many forms – wood waste, biodiesel, landfill gas, wood, and even ethanol. Biomass is quite versatile, able to power up vehicles, create electricity for buildings, and heat many facilities. We have been using biomass for a long time, and its usage comes as a controversial issue.

Hydroelectric Power

Photo by grendelkhan

Another quick-replenishing source, hydroelectric power, primarily comes from bodies of fast-moving water. A device or structure converts the water motion into usable electricity that manufacturers will transfer to houses and buildings.

Geothermal Energy

Photo courtesy of mypubliclands

Geothermal energy comes from deep inside the earth in the form of heat. We use it for heating and cooking functions. Geothermal energy is available any day and time of the week. However, using it comes with some side effects that can harm people.

The Future Solar Power And Other Renewable Energy

More and more entities and people in places around the globe are becoming more environmentally conscious, pursuing the continued usage of renewable energy. Enterprises and companies are switching to renewable energy as an alternative source of power – this move reduces the negative impact that the environment receives.

Now, building structures and products that utilize renewable energy comes in a bit expensive, but the investment is advantageous, especially in the long run. And perhaps in the future, renewable energy might replace fossil fuels and other traditional, environment-harming energy sources.

 

How Can I Help?

It is not just big companies and enterprises that have the capability to make a change when it comes to using renewable energy. As an average home or commercial owner, you can create an impact as well. Having a solar generator, a device that can produce green technology and renewable sources of energy at home can be as easy as pie.

They have guides and articles that highlight and assist you in how you can convert your home into using renewable energy. As renewable energy sources allow you to save on energy and cash, having it in your households and commercial settings is a big win-win.

What Advantages Does Renewable Energy Have?

Here are some of the numerous benefits of renewable energy sources.

●     Independence

You won’t have to rely on big companies to provide you with power and electricity. Installing solar panels and small windmills allows you to become independent of localized or imported energy.

●     Savings

Operating renewable energy devices and structures is not costly. So, it’s not just energy that you will get to save. In addition, you get to save on precious cash. You don’t have to pay for fuel for your car, electricity for your home, or power for your devices.

●     Limitless

If you are worried about running out of fossil fuels, you won’t sweat it with renewable energy. There is no limit to the usage of wind, sunlight, and water. So, you can go ahead and take it easy, as these sources won’t run out anytime soon.

●     A New Experience

Having renewable sources will be a different and new experience for you, your friends, and your loved ones. Your lifestyle might tend to change for the better, as having these environmentally-friendly energy sources lets you make better choices and decisions for daily life.

●     Harmless

Fossil fuels have a lot of negative effects on the environment. However, that is not the case for renewable energy sources. Using solar panels, wind turbines, and mills costs less energy. That is less stress for the environment.

 

The Future Looks Bright

To conclude, you may want to start saying your farewells to harmful energy sources. With more and more people and industries looking for better alternatives to fossil fuels, it is a green light for solar power and other forms of renewable energy. Sure, it still needs some work, but, once policies and laws give renewable energy the go signal, the world will be a cleaner and better place for all of us.

Article written by Kirsten Chapple

What are solar cell windows and are they really something to watch out for?

solar windows

We live in an ever-changing world of technology in which the things that we purchase often become obsolete before we know it. We have a throwaway culture that means we’re okay with wastage and we’re happy to invest in a new phone over and over again even if we don’t need one. But where is that getting us..? We’ve been fighting for change but doing so using tech that contributes to the issues we’re trying to eradicate. With that in mind, technology is evolving and becoming more than tools that we use on a daily basis, it’s becoming a passive resource that we take advantage of without even thinking. Solar cell windows are a great example of this change and it’s become even more apparent that they could become more than just a gimmick or the topics of an article.

What are solar cell windows?

Solar cell windows refer to pieces of glass that have been designed to contain technology capable of generating electricity just as a solar panel would, however, just as a traditional window is, these solar cell windows are transparent. While that might not sound plausible and seem slightly farfetched, it’s a really exciting endeavour that could help to change the world!

How they work

The way that the solar cell windows work is rather impressive. They, of course, allow light to pass through them but in doing so they’re also converting the sunlight into electricity for your home or building to use. The solar cell window premise at first sounds tricky, you need to absorb the sunlight to convert it into electricity but also allow sunlight through the window at the same time, so how does that work? Surely it can’t? And that’s an understandable question but there is an explanation.

A traditional solar panel will be made up of photovoltaic cells (these are made of semiconductor materials that are designed to absorb the sunlight. More accurately they absorb the photons that the sun emits) and these are responsible for absorbing sunlight and turning it into electricity for you to use. The way that a solar cell window works is very similar, but the technology is a little more advanced due to there being a need to let visible sunlight through the window and into your home, office, or even a car. Instead, a solar cell window will be able to harness just a portion of the solar spectrum that is invisible to the naked eye and then allow the visible light to pass through the window and illuminate whatever is on the other side. This is done using a transparent luminescent solar concentrator or TLSC for short. TLSC is made of organic salts that have been designed to absorb only specific wavelengths that we can’t see.

Are they worth it? 

One of the biggest issues people have with solar panels is that they’re big, ugly, and very expensive. So, the question remains; should we be on the lookout for solar cell windows in the mainstream market? The answer to that isn’t exactly simple and here’s why:

Style

As mentioned, one of the biggest issues that people have with that they’re big and not too pleasant to look at. The idea is that solar cell windows can solve this issue quite easily. You won’t have to place a big panel on your roof or the walls of your property, instead, they‘ll look like a set of windows, just like any other. 

This helps to maintain the style that you’re going for with your property which is something that some people find to be a priority. 

Efficiency 

Here’s where the trouble arises… These kinds of solar cells aren’t as effective as those of a traditional panel. This is down to the light that they’re letting pass through, if they could absorb the entirety of the light just as a normal solar panel, they’d be more efficient than they are. However, their purpose means that they’re less efficient than a normal panel.

The team developing this technology have stipulated that as these become a mainstream product and are being mass-produced, they should deliver an efficiency of almost 10% (9.8%). While you might think that this isn’t anything special because solar panels will range between 15-20%, but this version of solar cell windows holds the highest rating for transparent solar efficiency. But the most important thing is that this technology is invaluable as progression within the energy industry.

To realise its potential, imagine you’re standing in London or New York City and you’re looking up at all of the skyscrapers and buildings that have floor to ceiling windows on each floor. Now compare the efficiency of one of those buildings compared to an equivalent building with only a few solar panels on the roof. The former building will be much more efficient when compared to the latter which is why this is such an important breakthrough.

Cost 

The cost of these solar cell windows is something that will likely be a deciding factor. In the first phase of creating them, you’re likely to be spending a lot. However, as with most things, as time goes on the price is likely to decrease and they’ll become more affordable.

Unfortunately, as of yet, we’ve not been able to find an accurate estimate of how much these windows are likely to cost in the future but it’s not unreasonable to assume that they’ll cost considerably more than a traditional solar panel. This is because you’ll be purchasing the added benefit of not having to have solar panels on your roof. 

So, are solar cell windows something that we can look forward to in the near future? I suppose we’ll have to eagerly wait and see what happens. If we had to give you a rough estimate, I’d say that you’re likely to be waiting more than 5 years before we start to see them being utilised properly by cities. This is because many will be waiting for them to reduce in cost so that they can afford to make this kind of upgrade. The cost associated with having to not only replace all of the windows in your building but also invest in the technology and purchase solar cell windows is likely to be huge. However, after the technology has progressed and become cheaper to create, I do think that people will be turning to the tech for its properties when updating their homes or building a new home. The same goes for developers of both commercial and domestic buildings; I do think that they’ll end up utilising solar cell windows in new build homes. 

BIO

Rob Gavin, Aluminium Bending Specialists Ltdhttps://www.absltd.co.uk 

Rob has been running ABS Ltd for some time now and he’s managed to change the industry for the better. Being the UK’s leading aluminium bending specialists, ABS Ltd has been able to create bespoke windows for both domestic and commercial buildings giving them leading insight into specialist designs, premium styles and the latest in renewable window technology.