New 50MW Solar Energy Park Planned for East of Sheffield

Solar Farm Sheffield

Plans are soon to be revealed for an innovative renewable energy generation and storage project to the East of Sheffield.

Independent renewable energy firm Banks Renewables is currently developing the planning application for a large new solar park which would sit on 116-hectare of agricultural land to the west of the Todwick Road Industrial Estate in Dinnington, around three miles east of Banks’ Penny Hill wind farm.

Banks Renewables are expected to submit a planning application to Rotherham Council for the new scheme in the coming months, with a view to it being settled before the end of 2022.

The project would include up to 50MW of solar and a 50MW battery energy storage system, which would be linked directly into the Thurcroft electricity substation, around three kilometres north of the site. The project called the Common Farm solar project would have enough capacity to meet the annual energy requirements of up to 18,800 family homes and would displace over 11,470 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the electricity supply network each year. The project would help to support the long-term security of energy supplies to UK consumers.

The company is ensuring that the local community are aware of their plans for the site. They plan to deliver a leaflet containing comprehensive information on the project to around 11,000 local homes in the coming days. A dedicated project website has also been set up to ensure information on the scheme is easily available.

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Jill Askew, solar and flex project manager at Banks Renewables said:

“As more sources of renewable energy are connected to the system, more innovative ways of storing the electricity they produce will be required. The battery energy storage system at Common Farm would help to ensure reliable, stable and balanced electricity grid operation at times of peak demand and would support the UK’s continuing drive towards its net zero ambitions.”

Banks Renewables has a policy of delivering real benefits to the places in which its operations are based. At least £50,000 of the income generated by the Common Farm project would be made available every year as part of a package to support local good causes. This would come to more than £2,000,000 over the lifetime of the project.

The company is currently developing a detailed ecology and biodiversity strategy to ensure that the site delivers a net benefit in biodiversity to the local community.

Lewis Stokes, senior community relations manager at The Banks Group, said:

“Maximising the production of renewable energy from domestic sources is a crucial part of the UK’s ongoing journey towards its net zero targets, especially within the current energy security climate, and the Common Farm solar scheme will further extend the contribution that we’re able to make locally towards reaching these goals. The project is located in an area that we know very well, and having conducted a detailed search, we identified this site as providing the best opportunity to create a solar park that links directly into the Thurcroft substation.”

As one of the leading owner/operators in the UK’s onshore wind sector Banks Renewables already owns and operates 11 onshore wind projects in England and Scotland, including 4 in Yorkshire such as the Penny Hill site.

The Penny Hill wind farm, the Hook Moor wind farm to the east of Leeds, the Marr wind farm to the west of Doncaster and the Hazlehead wind farm near Barnsley generated almost 89,000 MWh of electricity between them over the 12 months to the end of September 2021, as well as over £50,000 for their respective community benefits funds.

The Penny Hill wind farm’s community fund has supported a broad range of community projects, with over £202,000 being directed into it so far since the wind farm began generating electricity in 2013. So far grants totalling more than £140,000 have been awarded to local organisations.

The company is also currently developing the 40MW Barnsdale solar energy park to the south-east of Leeds, which was recommended for approval by Leeds City Council’s planning officers in June 2021. This commercial solar site will be able to produce enough electricity to meet the annual requirements of up to 12,000 family homes.

Lewis Stoke said that his company is really looking forward to meeting and working closely with residents, stakeholders and other community representatives to ensure that they develop an extensive and detailed planning application for the Common Farm solar project. He said they also want to hear their views on what might be delivered in a package of local benefits that will form a key part of the project. The company are excited about what can be achieved with this important project and hope that Rotherham Council’s planning committee will support the vision they’re now developing.

Banks Renewables’ extensive work on projects that are helping to secure the UK’s energy security is in line with the government’s 10-point plan for a green industrial revolution. The Prime Minister promised to create and support up to 250,000 British jobs through investment in green energy, technology and nature. He said that the government would invest £1bn to make homes, schools and hospitals greener, and install 600,000 heat pumps a year by 2028. These actions will be crucial in meeting the government’s new carbon emissions target, which constitutes a 68% reduction from 1990 levels, by 2030.

UK Fossil Fuel Use at an All-time Low Over Christmas 2021

carbon emissions

Fossil fuel use on the UK’s power grid fell to an all-time low during the Christmas holiday season. Analysts believe that this is further evidence of the ongoing renewables revolution on British electricity generation over the past decade.

Data from Drax Electric Insights showed that just before midnight on the 29th of December, coal and gas were providing just 6% of electricity. Natural gas generated 17GW of electricity, while no coal was being burned for generation at this time.

From the afternoon of 23 December 2020 to the afternoon of 29 December 2020 for a period of 6 days no coal was burned making 25 December 2021 the second coal-free Christmas Day Britain has experienced, after 2020’s.

That having been said, renewables were responsible for delivering the UK’s greenest Christmas yet in 2021.

Analysts said:

“Renewables generated 24.19 GW, 65 % of the country’s entire electricity needs, while fossil fuels were at a new record low.”

The milestone reached just before midnight on the 29th of December happened as fossil fuels were marginalised by huge contributions from renewable sources. Gusty weather meant that wind turbines were generating 15.62GW of electricity, 55.32% of Britain’s needs. At the same time, biomass plants (Drax operates the UK’s largest biomass plant) were generating 2.34GW of electricity (8.27%) and hydro installations 0.3GW (1.05%). This takes the total contribution from renewables to 65% with nuclear contributing another 24%. Solar PV was not generating any electricity as the milestone was reached during the night.

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The news of this milestone emphasised the dramatic shift in the power mix over the last decade. At the same time a decade ago, fossil fuels were producing 18.78GW of electricity to the grid, accounting for 58.79% of all generation.

Indeed, green power dominated the grid mix over the 2021 Christmas period. During the seven days from Christmas Eve, the average carbon intensity of the power grid dropped to just 125g of CO2 per kWh which Is less than half the current average and 75 per cent lower than the same period in 2012 when the carbon intensity was 464g/kWh.

However, if the UK is to stay on track in order to reach net zero, the Climate Change Committee, says the carbon intensity of UK electricity must fall to 50g of CO2 per kWh by the end of this decade and reach just 2g of CO2 by 2050.

To achieve this a further major expansion in renewable power will be needed across the UK. Earlier in December 2021, ministers opened a £285m auction for a new fleet of offshore wind farms capable of powering eight million homes.

Though the growth of renewables and the demise of fossil fuels is going in the right direction, the UK’s electricity system was dirtier in 2021 than 2020. According to Carbon Brief’s provisional analysis, in the year to 22nd December 2021, the average carbon intensity of the grid was 187g CO2/kWh, which is up modestly from the green record of 181g set in 2020. They believe that this minor setback can be attributed to the extraordinary circumstances of 2020. Strict lockdowns held during the pandemic led to much of the economy being frozen for months and depressed electricity demand. On top of this historically low wind speeds across Europe also dampened renewable generation in 2021.

According to the National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) the grid did see some green landmarks in 2021. Due to high levels of wind and solar power, the carbon intensity of the grid fell to its lowest level yet at just 39gCO2/kWh on Easter Monday, 5th April.

Two more records toppled on 21st of May. Between 2am and 3am, wind turbines contributed the highest percentage of the UK’s electricity yet at 62.5%. As the windy day progressed wind generation peaked at an all-time high of 17.7GW between 3.30pm and 4.30pm. Britain’s wind turbines were generating enough electricity to power 7.8 million kettles!

The UK has also had an excellent green start to 2022. According to the ESO, New Year’s Day saw the carbon intensity of the grid once again dipping to 39g/CO2/kWh matching the record set in April 2021. This was made possible by huge contributions from zero-carbon sources. Taken together, wind, solar, biomass, hydro, and nuclear contributed 85.2% of the country’s power.

Is The UK On Track to Reduce Net Zero Carbon Emissions By 2050?

net_zero_2050

The UK government has committed to an ambitious target of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions to net zero by 2050 in order to help tackle climate change. Net zero is the point at which the country is taking as much of these greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere as it is putting in. As part of this end goal, the government recently made further pledges to cut emissions this decade by 68% compared to emissions in 1990 and by 78% by 2035.


However, despite the government’s target for all the UK’s electricity to come from clean sources by 2035, it is currently falling short of what will be required to achieve this. More funding and policy interventions will be needed to reach the net zero goal by 2050. Back in June, the Climate Change Committee (CCC), a group of experts that advise the government said that the UK only had credible policies in place to deliver about a fifth of the cut in emissions necessary for the net-zero goal.

The UK government are currently hosting COP26 in Glasgow where the signatories of the Paris Agreement are setting out their targets for reducing national and global emissions of the greenhouse gases that are causing climate change. It’s questionable whether the UK can claim the mantle of climate leadership based on current policy commitments. The emissions projections produced by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, show that greenhouse gas emissions are only expected to fall by 52% relative to 1990, by 2030.

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Successive governments have had relative success in reducing emissions from energy. They fell by 40% between 1990 and 2019 largely due to the closing of coal-fired power stations and more money being spent on solar, wind and nuclear energy.

Wind Power

The UK is leading the world in offshore wind. Presently it has capacity of about 10GW which the government has promised to quadruple by 2030. This increase would generate enough energy to power every home in the UK. Although this is achievable energy companies are concerned that the price, they are paid for wind energy is dropping rapidly which could squeeze their revenues and limit further investment. Another consideration is the need for there to be far more energy storage for the times when the wind does not blow.

Heat Pumps

British homes account for about 14% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions mostly due to gas boiler heating systems and poor insulation according to the CCC.

The UK government has committed to installing 600,000 heat pumps a year by 2028. Heat pumps transfer heat from the ground, air or water around a property into its heating system and cost upwards of £8,000.

In terms of numbers, about 35,000 heat pumps were installed in the UK in 2019 compared to about 1.7 million gas boilers being sold each year. There are 23.5 million gas boilers in the UK. The government has banned gas boilers from new builds from 2025. In its latest strategy the government has allotted £450m for the installation of heat pumps over 3 years. Grants of £5,000 will be available for homeowners which would be enough for 90,000 grants and that’s if you ignore any administrative costs. The CCC think the overall number installed each year should be higher than the 600,000 a year target and environmental experts are questioning how the government will meet this target anyway. The scheme is part of a wider package, worth £3.9 billion to decarbonise heat and public buildings.

Insulation

Further to this the CCC has said that insulation rates vital to the decarbonisation of energy in homes are only about a third of what they need to be. The government scrapped the Green Homes Grant scheme earlier this year, which was put in place to help people with the cost of insulating their homes. The latest net zero strategy only mentions insulation once with support promised for low-income households.

Transport


Cars and taxis accounted for 16% of UK emissions in 2019 and in a bid to reduce this the government has said that no new petrol and diesel cars will be sold from 2030. After 2040 you will only be able to purchase zero emissions vehicles. Though the number of electric cars being sold is growing quickly only 10% of cars sold in 2020 were electric. This is up on 2.5% in 2018.  The government has not brought in a scrappage scheme to help incentivise people to buy electric cars though there is a £2,500 grant available for fully electric cars that cost less than £35,000. There are 25,000 charging points in the UK, but the Competition and Markets Authority believes that 10 times that number could be needed by 2030. Huge growth in publicly accessible charging points is crucial for the move to electric cars.

To get people out of their cars the government has spent £338m on walking and cycling infrastructure in England with a view to building a “world class” cycling network by 2040.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, flying made up about 7% of overall emissions and shipping about 3%. There is very little known about how the government plans to reduce them and there are no targets for these sectors yet.  The CCC would like to see a freeze on demand for flights and a strategy to cut emissions from freight transport, aviation and shipping. The government has placed no restrictions on people flying and has claimed that there is technology yet to be developed that will allow domestic flights to be almost emissions free by 2040, and international aviation to be near zero-carbon by mid-century.

Agriculture


The CCC has said that emissions from agriculture need to be reduced by 30% by 2035. In order to achieve this people would need to eat 20% less meat and dairy on average, more land would need to be used for trees and restored peatland and shifted from agricultural use and there would need to be less food waste. The government has yet to publish its food strategy.

Trees

The role trees play in removing carbon emissions from the atmosphere is very important. The government does have an ambitious plan to plant 30,000 hectares of trees a year by 2025. Though the government wants to treble planting, in England during this parliament it has a long way to go to meet this target.

Hydrogen

Hydrogen is a low-carbon fuel that could be used for transport, heating, power generation or energy storage and the government would like to have a capacity of 5GW of hydrogen production by 2030. However, it’s early days for this industry and in fact there is almost no low-carbon production of hydrogen in the UK or globally now. The industry will need “rapid and significant scale-up” in the coming years if it is to be part of the solution. The government is promising a decision on the role of hydrogen in heating by 2026.

Carbon Capture and Storage

The government is highly reliant on new technologies, such as carbon capture and storage, to allow the continued use of fossil fuels without releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The ability to capture carbon and store it is essential for the UK to reach net zero by 2050. The government is planning to capture and store between 20 and 30 million tonnes of CO2 a year by 2030. The technology is still emerging and is very expensive. A project has been planned for North-East Scotland that can extract as much CO2 from the air as 40 million trees can. Two areas have also been chosen to have priority access to government funding for carbon capture projects. They are the Hynet Cluster covering the North-West of England and North Wales, and the East Coast Cluster in the Humber and Teesside. North-east Scotland will be the reserve cluster. Even if the government’s target is met, it will account for less than 3% of current emissions which is far short of the emissions cut required this decade.

Industry

The government has said that it will cut emissions from manufacturing by about two-thirds before 2035. Carbon capture and hydrogen will both play a big role, but substantial progress will be needed in these technologies. The government is also planning to cap the amount of emissions allowed by individual sectors each year, which will reduce gradually. It’s not clear how the scheme will prevent production and emissions shifting to other countries. The CCC has also advised the government that all gas-fired power stations where carbon is emitted and not captured should be phased out by 2035.

Over the past 12 months the government has released several strategies to reduce emissions in key sectors, including transport, industry and hydrogen production. Apart from phasing out petrol and diesel cars in 2030 there have been no new policies that would significantly reduce emissions announced or enacted. Given the limited timeframe between now and 2030, substantially more urgent action is needed if the UK is to live up to its mantle as climate leader.

The current COP26 global climate summit in Glasgow is believed to be crucial for climate change to be brought under control.  Almost 200 countries are being asked for their plans to cut emissions, and it could lead to big changes in our day-to-day life.

UK Subsidy Free Solar Market Continues To Flourish

SOLAR PANELS

Back in 2017, Clayhill Solar Farm was the first solar farm to be built without government subsidies. The 10MW site near Flitwick in Bedfordshire was developed by Anesco, a UK-based renewables developer and, crucially, after the Renewables Obligation scheme had been closed to new applicants. The scheme was one of the main support mechanisms for large-scale renewable electricity projects in the UK. Clayhill Solar Farm was a landmark development for the solar industry which paved the way for a sustainable future no longer reliant on subsidies.

According to new figures released by Solar Energy UK 175 MW of new photovoltaic (PV) solar capacity has already been installed across the UK between January and March this year (Q1’21). The UK solar industry is continuing to grow despite the lack of any subsidies.

This brings the UK’s total installed PV capacity to more than 14 GW, generating enough electricity to power over 3 million homes. It is clear that all three solar market segments, residential, commercial rooftop and ground-based have grown despite a drop in installations during the initial Coronavirus pandemic lockdown last year.

The significant growth over the winter period was again dominated by ground-mounted solar parks, contributing 70% of the new capacity deployed.  By comparison, rooftop segments are now a much smaller part of a very large industry.

Despite the major government support scheme, the Feed-in-tariff (FiT) for small-scale renewables being removed by the UK government back in early 2019, rooftop markets are also continuing to thrive with rooftop solar capacity seeing 14% year-on-year growth. Last year, however, saw the majority of rooftop solar installations located on commercial and industrial buildings.

More than 1 GW of subsidy free solar PV capacity has been installed since subsidies were withdrawn marking another landmark moment for the industry.

660 MW of new solar capacity was installed in the 12-month period to 31st March 2021, and it looks likely the UK may be on track to deliver an additional GW of unsubsidised solar capacity this year as building, and energy decarbonisation accelerates.

Even though the Covid-19 pandemic has challenged overall deployment over the past year, industry groups and the Solar Media Group believe that market confidence remains clear.

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Finlay Colville, head of analysis at Photo voltaic Media Ltd, said that the “sturdy deployment figures” from the primary quarter of 2021 proved the UK photovoltaic business was now working “effectively and profitably” in a zero-subsidy atmosphere.

He said:

“If the industry succeeds in introducing new PV equipment in excess of 1GW without any government incentives, 2021 could still be the most important year for UK solar power.”

And all this could be achieved in the total absence of any incentive schemes.

Though the solar industry is growing without government subsidies, the government has recognised the need for funding in renewables if the UK is to meet its target of net zero emissions by 2050. As part of the government’s £1 billion industrial decarbonisation strategy, funding for rooftop solar on public buildings has received an important boost. £932 million has been allocated for the public sector decarbonisation scheme which will see 429 projects around England receive funding. The funding will be used for a number of measures, including rooftop solar, storage and heat pumps. This is happening at the same time as the introduction of stricter energy efficiency regulations for not only new builds but UK households across the board. These regulations will further increase the uptake of solar PV as well as other renewables.

The success of the UK’s subsidy free solar industry could be seen over the Easter weekend when the UK’s electricity system recorded its greenest day ever as sunshine and windy weather led to a surge in renewable energy.

Chris Hewett, CEO of Solar Energy UK, recently said:

“The UK used the cleanest grid electricity ever at Easter Weekend, and solar temporarily provided 21% of its electricity generation. The expansion of the pipeline for unsubsidized projects reflects investors’ confidence in solar technology, and the UK is making solar power increasingly clean and affordable. “

Large scale solar farms are likely to continue to dominate UK solar for the next decade as the pipeline of new site projects is added to each month. During the past year more than 800MW per month on average has been added by way of new sites, with most of these at pre-application stage. The UK subsidy free solar market continues to flourish even in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Electric vehicle uptake; how ready are we?

EV

It’s no surprise that we’re beginning to see a decline in the uptake of diesel cars throughout the country, with the news the government will ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2040, and with electric vehicles (EVs) becoming more accessible, affordable and genuinely attractive purchases for more and more people.

Whilst many of the more established models of electric car have higher upfront costs than their petrol and diesel counterparts, in their lifetime they make back those costs. Currently, fully charging a Tesla costs just £1 to £3 per day, with a £10-a-year fee to use nation wide charging points.

Among the wider motive of tackling climate change, poor air quality is becoming the focal subject for incentivising people to ditch the combustion engine, citing it as the “biggest environmental risk to public health in the UK”.

Yet, with electric cars presently comprising less than 1% of new sales, prompting a mass shift will require a lot of changes, and it appears the country is less than ready for such a dramatic move.

As of December of last year, figures show there were 132,000 electric and hybrid cars on UK roads, with 2017 seeing the biggest increase in EV purchases: 47,000 for the year. This is a stark contrast to the 25.5 million petrol and diesel cars currently out there.

However, although the likes of Gloucester and the Cotswolds rank 4th and 10th respectively on a list of the highest percentage of electric vehicles in the UK, neither area seems well enough equipped for an influx of electric car purchases. Gloucester has just 2 working public charge points in the city, equating to less than 0.001 public charging points per electric vehicle.

This is a similar story in the city of Bristol.

Although research has found that Bristol has the third highest number of people who have considered purchasing an electric vehicle at 63%, a survey of drivers has found that 73% of Bristol motorists could not name a charging spot near them.

While it is still early days and the existing picture seems somewhat bleak, there are those being proactive in helping create a greener future on the roads.

The Government announced last year that £400 million would be pumped into creating a world-leading electric car charging infrastructure, with charging locations being added around the UK daily. Even in July of last year, 255 locations were added in just 30 days.

One particular company looking at helping to incentivise the electric vehicle uptake by providing the latest charge points for homes and places of work, as well as solar PV, is Mypower.

Managing Director, Ben Harrison, said that while the number of charge points throughout the country may appear low, they don’t actually take into account businesses and public facing enterprises that provide charge points, as well as personal home charging points. Adding these would produce a figure of well over 100,000 dedicated EV charging points in total.

Speaking of Gloucestershire’s high number of electric car owners, he said, “We’ve seen enquires for charging points at homes and commercial properties increase significantly in the last 6 months. Those really savvy home and businesses owners are also installing solar panels on their roofs to generate their own electricity which means they charge their cars for free.”

This idea is being touched upon by some of the electric car giants such as Tesla and Nissan, both offering the option for home solar PV panels to produce your own electricity, and pump it straight into your car, saving you money on household bills alongside your now non-existent petrol bills.

Combining this with an energy storage device for use when it’s needed can set a family on its way to being nigh on self-sustainable.

Purchasing all of this technology can be pricey to begin with, leading into a few thousand before a car is even bought, however with the certainty that this will be the norm in the next few decades, costs will plummet and become accessible to practically everyone.

It’s currently being suggested that charging points can be implemented into existing street lamps with government grants distributed throughout councils to help with the adaption.

We look forward to the days of solar-powered electric cars, but until then, there are plenty of great options that will help you do your bit.

The State of Solar Shingles

solar shingles

When Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced the birth of the Tesla Solar Roof last year, it was greeted with enthusiasm by the entire solar market. A photovoltaic solar system in the form of roof tiles, invisible to the naked eye? The solar world marveled at the ingenuity of Tesla, once more.

But the concept of solar shingles is not a new one. In fact, the technology to create such a product has been public knowledge since 2009 and solar shingles have been gracing the roofs of users since 2011.

As we move into 2018, when Tesla’s Solar Roof will see its full rollout, it’s important to remember where this technology came from, so that we can better predict where it is going.

The History of Solar Singles

DOW Chemical

The solar shingle concept was created by DOW Chemical Company, who first unveiled it in 2009. The company rolled out its Powerhouse Solar Shingle in 2011, and predicted at the time of announcement that it could see up to $10 billion in revenue by 2020.

The shingles were designed to blend in with a typical asphalt roof. They were heavily touted, due to their being an aesthetically pleasing alternative to traditional solar panels. Another added benefit of the shingles were the ease in which they could be installed, as there was no need for locating rafters and anchor points to bolt into, like with solar panels.

Using Copper Indium Gallium Slenide solar cells, the shingles worked the same as most standard panels, pulling in the rays of the sun and converting it to electricity, before transferring it to an inverter box, from which it enters the home.

In 2009, when TIME Magazine declared DOW’s solar shingle one of the 50 Best Inventions of 2009, it was estimated that the solar shingle would sell for 10% to 15% less than traditional solar panels.

Unfortunately, that did not prove to be the case, as solar shingles ranged in price from $4 to $12 per-Watt, while traditional solar panels in 2015 were only $3.50 per-Watt (learn more about Solar Costs at PowerScout). Federal, state and local incentives helped to decrease the price point, sometimes by almost half, but the product was failing to catch on as predicted. Before it’s downfall, Powerhouse had only been installed on 1,000 homes.

DOW discontinued the Powerhouse line in mid-2016, announcing the news on the same day the company cut 2,500 jobs globally.

Enter Tesla

Tesla threw their hat into the clean energy game in 2016 with its $2 billion acquisition of Solar City. Following the termination of DOW’s Powerhouse shingles, many companies attempted to take over the industry. CertainTeed and Atlantis Energy Systems tried to compete, but Tesla has become the major name in the solar shingle game.

Once Tesla announced the Solar Roof to the masses they seemed to solidify their hold on the industry. In 2017, the first two variations of the Solar Roof were released in the form of textured and smooth glass.

The Future of Solar Shingles

The Tesla Solar Roof

In 2018 we will see a full roll out off the Tesla Solar Roof, with Tuscan and French Slate designs on their way to American homes this year. While the performance of this new product remains to be seen, there are certainly a large number of pros and cons associated with it.

For starters, the Tesla Solar Roof touts an impressive layer of protection as compared to the average roof. Tesla has released a video test, which shows a Solar Roof panel pelted with a 2-inch ball of hail traveling at 100 mph. The Solar Roof withstands the impact perfectly while traditional roof tiles shatter like glass. Coupled with a lifetime warranty, it seems like a smart investment at face value. Traditional solar panels, however are equally durable, so this is not a viable advantage that one product seems to have over the other.

The main issue plaguing the future of the Solar Roof seems to be its pricing. Much like DOW before them, Tesla may suffer from a market unwilling to shell out big bucks for their product when traditional solar panels cost so much less. Tesla’s Solar Roof is estimated at being 70% more expensive than installing solar panels on a home with a sturdy roof and 35% more costly than installing a solar panel system and having your roof fully replaced.

Another potential roadblock for the technology powerhouse is the energy output of their costly system. While the Solar Roof does produce enough power to save you money on your utility bills, it only produces 70% of the power generated by a traditional solar power system.

To top it off, competition is looming as DOW seeks to reclaim its lost throne.

The Return of DOW

Following an agreement between RGS Energy and DOW, the solar shingle market could start to see competition in the form of Powerhouse 3.0. Backed by the commercial prowess of RGS, the original solar shingle system could return with a bang and challenge Tesla’s dominance over the industry.

The major differentiating factor between Powerhouse 3.0 and its previous incarnations is an adoption of silicon solar cells, which reduces the cost of production, thus eliminating the biggest opponent of DOW’s past success, pricing.

The 2018 Battleground

2018 proves to be a fascinating year for the solar shingle industry. The success of the Solar Roof is far from assured and it will be interesting to watch its successes or failures as the full rollout concludes. What’s more, are we fixing to see a knock-down drag out battle between Tesla and DOW? Could DOW’s new, less expensive Powerhouse shingles reclaim its lost industry?

The Benefits of Offshore Wind Energy

Offshore Wind

More and more people have heard of clean energy and wind energy but wonder if such an energy solution could benefit them or their communities. Information is available to support many of the benefits of offshore wind energy and wind energy farms. Offshore wind energy may also serve to improve the health of local residents and supply new jobs to the area, in addition to being a better energy choice for the environment.

How Maryland Uses Wind Energy

Two offshore wind projects were approved near the Ocean City coastline in Maryland. The projects are projected to produce enough clean energy to provide electricity to 147,000 Maryland homes. These two projects will allow Maryland to cut its carbon emissions by as much as 19,000 tons every year. Unfortunately, Maryland is ranked fifth in the country when it comes to adult asthma and many children are afflicted. This may be linked to the air pollution in the area. Offsetting carbon emissions by supplementing tradition energy sources with wind energy in the state may serve to improve the health of adults and children affected by pollution-related health problems and improve the air quality for all Maryland residents.

An investment into offshore wind energy will make for 9,700 new jobs, help Maryland become a leader for the offshore wind industry along the Atlantic, and provide Maryland residents with a clean energy source that may be used for generations to come. Wind power is one of the clean energy alternatives being embraced around the world.

Going Green

Wind power is a green energy solution to the world’s continued demand for energy to power homes, businesses, transportation and the most common of appliances. Traditional sources of energy, such as oil and coal, produce potentially toxic by-products in their extraction and processing. Additional fuel is used when the refined products are transported for use. The harnessing of wind energy does not produce additional pollution or result in dangerous chemical by-products that may seep into the groundwater or damage the surrounding ecosystem. No climate gases are emitted when electricity is produced via a wind turbine. This makes wind energy, like geothermal and solar energy, attractive clean energy sources for many communities.

Exceeding Our Needs

If communities and residents get behind the potential of wind power, it can provide 20 times more power than what is needed for the current human population. This efficient energy source is growing at a rate of 25 percent annually and operational cost of turbines are low. Wind power has great domestic potential as residents can be protected from power outages and enjoy energy savings.

Wind Energy Is Renewable

Traditional sources of energy rely upon non-renewable resources. As the human population grows, so will the demand for energy which adds further pressure and reduces the amount of finite resources. In comparison, wind energy cannot be depleted. Wind occurs naturally and is due to nuclear fusion processes happening on the sun. Wind energy will be able to be captured and harnessed to produce electricity for as long as the sun continues to shine.

The Future, and the Potential

Good-paying jobs are created with the investment into wind energy, as can be seen in the projects approved in Maryland. Wind turbine technician was named as the “fasted growing American job of the decade” according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statisticians. In 2016, over 100,000 people were employed in the U.S. wind sector. The wind industry has the potential to add many more jobs across various areas including supporting services, installation, maintenance and manufacturing. States with high unemployment rates may greatly benefit from investment into wind energy solutions.

The costs associated with harnessing wind power have greatly decrease but some sites are not suitable for a wind farm or off shore wind energy solution. It may be necessary to build in remote locations to take advantage of a good wind site. Noise pollution and the visual sight of wind turbines may be factors for some. Community planners and residents must consider all of the benefits and challenges when it comes to taking advantage of wind-generated electricity prior to any investment into this clean energy option.

The Future of Energy: Pivotal Technology and Trends to Watch

Renewables Future

The world continues to struggle with the switch to renewable energy. Despite the plentiful natural resources handed to us through wind, water and sun, governments around the world are wrestling with ‘selling’ the idea to their citizens. Standing in the way of on-mass innovation adoption is, often, cold-hard cash.

To illuminate just how imposing a problem this is, consider this – despite unparalleled growth in the sector over the coming years, by 2040, all renewables will still only account for less than 10% of global power supply (Fortune). Sobering figures indeed. With this in mind here we look toward the most promising forms of technology, and a couple of key trends, as we continue to grapple with the burning of fossils.

Trends emerging on the horizon

New tariffs will be introduced to work more seamlessly with grid operating costs

Whilst the cost of rooftop solar continues to nose dive, we now face another problem: the cost of managing and upgrading grids to allow for two-way energy flows.

Hawaii has been home to an industry leading case study in this respect, with the introduction of a wide range of differing tariffs, including multiple options for “self-supply”. This transition from legacy NEM tariffs, to next gen, will certainly make for interesting viewing.

Smart tech will only become ever smarter, helping us to become greener

Smart technology may be one of the most exciting realms to be working in right now – and for renewable energy consumption, the potential is practically unmatched. Central to the successful merging of this area and energy consumption, are thermostats and heating/AC units that are becoming more intelligent; and as more of us continue to adopt smart home tech, the accompanied costs will continue to drop. A final benefit of smart tech is that consumers themselves become smarter and more informed as to how and where it is that their energy is being consumed.

Key tech promising to be pivotal to the renewable energies market

The home powering battery

Further to the issue of cost, is the issue of being able to rely upon renewable energy. For too long homes have faced the prospect of having to have a back-up should their renewable energy system fail. For this, there comes one innovative solution from the makers of the world’s most ground breaking electronic car.

We talk, of course, of Tesla, who have just announced development of their ‘Powerwall’ – which is effectively a battery for homes that allows them to tap into the power of solar or wind energy. Not only could it make energy consumption far cheaper, but it promises also to allow householders to feedback any surplus energy and actually make money, rather than burn it.

The traditional Central heating System (may) finally be thrown out

The Big Magic Thermodynamic Box – cutting-edge and forward-thinking in equal measure, this technology demonstrates that the future of energy storage does indeed promise much in the way of an energy storage revolution. However, whilst the technology is cutting-edge, the concept is a simple one – providing a renewable heating system for a property, and hot water, through the power of solar. Going into a little more detail, The Big Magic Thermodynamic Box features Thermodynamic Panels which are free from the need of direct sunlight for energy; instead, they harvest energy from the temperature of the atmosphere around them – making them an optimal choice all year round when compared to weather reliant solar panels.

A further defining (and rather HUGE) selling point of the Big Magic Thermodynamic Box is that the average home can have hot water all year through for, wait for it, the tiny price of approximately £80.

Finally, it seems that renewable energy can be harnessed in a way that makes it accessible for all – overcoming high costs with serious savings all year through and doing away with consumer rejection of seasonally hit and miss alternatives.

https://youtu.be/-hOfVw3-Ujw

It truly seems that we may be on the cusp of tapping into renewable energy on-mass – which is certainly something to be celebrated given how decades have passed by with only relatively limited success of renewable energy acceptance.

What is the Future of Renewables in the UK?

Houses Of Parlament

In the end the Government only slashed the Feed in Tariff for solar by 65% rather than the touted 87, something that is still going to cost the industry thousands of jobs and is seen as a backward step for those who believe passionately in the green agenda.

Despite the rest of the world getting enthusiastic about lowering carbon emissions and becoming less dependent on fossil fuels after the Climate Change Summit in Paris, many UK observers are sceptical about the future here.

According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, growth could see the sector thrive worldwide as a 24 million jobs are created by 2030. The change to a more active carbon free energy sector would not only help stop climate change but improve world economies across the board.

Particularly in Asia, this confidence has been boosted largely by the growth of the solar industry. It seems everyone but Britain is pushing forward with the race for a cleaner world. Here, the Government has put the brakes on wind and solar and are investing heavily in nuclear while also trying to get fracking off the ground despite the general population being against it.

According to the CEO of Regen SW, Merlin Hyman:

“The Paris agreements have fired the starting gun on the global race to clean energy and made the shift to a radically different decentralised energy system unstoppable. The UK clean energy sector is determined to play a leading role despite the UK Government’s attempts to prop up fossil fuel and nuclear power.”

There are some minor skirmishes going on in the renewable energy sector at the moment which are not necessarily making front page news. Two solar panel companies are taking the Government to court over their retrospective cut to subsidies for large scale developments two years ago. There are further clashes anticipated between energy secretary Amber Rudd and the Lords as she seeks to bring about the end for subsidies for onshore wind farms.

The truth is that many observers believe that the renewables industry is under fire in the UK and some areas will be hard pressed to survive Government back tracking.

The only good news is that the cost of installing solar is still coming down. When the first panels were installed in the late 1950s the cost was around £1,300 per watt in today’s money. That’s dropped to just 50 pence per watt on average in the UK in 2016. According to Oxford University researchers:

“Since the 1980s, panels to generate electricity from sunshine have got 10% cheaper each year. That is likely to continue, the study said, putting solar on course to meet 20% of global energy needs by 2027.”

The cry from the solar industry is not that they don’t want to exist without subsidies (as fossil fuels globally have failed to do) but that they don’t want the economic rug pulled from under their feet too quickly. There are still some major issues for solar to navigate over the coming years, not least the best way to store an energy supply that is more available at certain times of the day than others.

Research is continuing robustly, even with the current decline of governmental enthusiasm for all things green. Prospects of solar paints that can be used to cover buildings with thin, cheap coats of electricity producing material could be a major advance that comes in the next few years. Better storage and integration with other renewable technologies such as wind and hydro are on the cards also.

While a Western country like the UK is procrastinating, though, developing countries such as Costa Rica, Afghanistan and India are all working hard towards a future with full power from renewables. Costa Rica, strangely, is leading the way, professing to have provided 100% of their energy needs from renewable sources for a succession of 94 days.

The trouble is that the Government’s confused energy policy has had damaging knock on effects beyond solar and wind. Tidal constructions such as the lagoon in Swansea Bay are being put on hold as investors wonder where the Government are going to cut next. This wide ranging uncertainty is causing those with the money to help change our world to think twice. Unfortunately, the damage has been done and the length of time that it will take for confidence to be restored could set the UK a long way back in the development of renewables compared to the rest of the world.

Is it Time to Worry When UN Scientists Sound Off?

United Nations

This week, support for the beleaguered renewables industry came from an unlikely source. Professor Jacquie McGlade is chief environment scientist for the UN, someone who you would think knows a lot about the renewable agenda. She expressed her disappointment that the UK has appeared to do an about turn and is running headlong away from technologies such as solar and wind whilst the rest of the world is rushing forward with open arms.

She told the BBC:

“What I’m seeing worldwide is a move very much towards investment in renewable energy. To counterbalance that you see the withdrawal of subsidies and tax breaks for fossil fuels. What’s disappointing is when we see countries such as the United Kingdom that have really been in the lead in terms of getting their renewable energy up and going – we see subsidies being withdrawn and the fossil fuel industry being enhanced.”

Whilst politicians still seem intent on coming out with the same tired old phrases about how they are trying to get a better deal for bill payers, there is some concern in the wider global arena that the UK has decided to abandon its leadership on climate change. McGlade even went as far as to call the signal that the UK was sending out to other countries ‘perverse’.

What Does a Reset Mean?

One thing that hasn’t been discussed in great deal is the Government’s idea of a reset to the industry and what that actually looks like. You’d be forgiven for thinking that they may not have much of a clue themselves with the lack of information that has been forthcoming. The sensible option would have been to say we are going to get rid of this (the FiT) and replace it with this (place your own idea here). All we have is a spurious promise that they are committed to renewables and something is on its way.

Meanwhile some big investors are starting to look elsewhere. According to the same BBC article, the CEO of ACWA Power in Saudi Arabia said:

“Everyone is running around the world looking for other places. Thank you very much, I’ve picked up experience now, the UK is not the best bet, let me go somewhere else. Even the UK companies are looking aggressively elsewhere.”

Most people in the industry agree that the FiT subsidy should eventually be phased out but cutting by 87% in fell swoop has brought cries of frustration from the market and outside investment. According to a recent report by EY, government initiatives to remove the FiT and threats to other subsidies in the future is baffling many investors to the point where they are taking their business elsewhere.

The organisation suggested that this might indeed mean that the UK was trying to make renewables the first unsubsidised market in the world. If that’s the case many in the UK believe they are making an unholy mess of it, akin to throwing a baby from its pram in the vain hope that it will land on its feet.

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