Tag Archives: solar pv

Can Hawaii go 100% Renewable?

Hawaii’s Renewables Portfolio Standard commits it to obtaining 100% of its energy from renewables by 2045, and Hawaii proposes to do this by wholesale replacement of fossil fuel generation with solar. This approach is theoretically possible, but only if there is enough energy storage (approximately 10GWh) to match day-night solar fluctuations of over 3GW to a substantially flat ~800MW load curve and if grid stability can be mantained with dominant solar generation. The Renewables Portfolio Standard also covers only electricity generation, which presently supplies only about a third of Hawaii’s energy needs, so even if it’s met Hawaii will still fall well short of its 100% renewable energy target. Continue reading

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Blowout Week 156 – Christmas Eve

This week it’s back to OPEC, which recently agreed to cut its output by 1.2 million bpd in an attempt to increase oil prices supplemented by an additional 0.5 million bpd from Russia + other non-OPEC producers. What does this portend for the oil market? Industry opinion is unanimous. No one knows: Continue reading

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Solar power on the island of Ta’u, a preliminary appraisal

A 1,400kW(p) solar PV array backed up by 6,000kWh of battery storage and a smart grid has been installed on the island of Ta’u in American Samoa. It’s widely reported that this system already allows Ta’u to obtain 100% of its electricity from renewable sources for 100% of the time, and this brief review suggests that it will in fact be capable of delivering 100% electricity for almost 100% of the time if and when it reaches full operation. Continue reading

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Blowout week 153

There are two major stories this week. First, the agreement within OPEC to cut production in concert with some non-OPEC countries, notably Russia sent the oil price soaring, but it has so far failed to break resistance at $54. Second, 50% of the 2 GW England-France inter-connector was severed by a dragged anchor during storm Angus. Continue reading

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UK Electricity Part 3: Wind and Solar

Part 1 of the series on 2050 electricity demand provided a “high electrification” scenario where the average electricity demand was approximately 72GW, but peak demand on exceptionally cold days could reach 121GW.

Part 2 described how this demand could be fulfilled with a nuclear supply model. In Part 3 we have used the same demand model to show how this could be substantially fulfilled with wind and solar power; though relying on significant amounts of storage to match supply and demand, and gas (or biofuel) capacity to operate when storage is insufficient. A number of different scenarios are explored, with the preferred scenario laid out below, adjacent to the nuclear scenario for comparison. Continue reading

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Blowout Week 144

This week’s Blowout features a blackout, specifically the long-anticipated outage that plunged South Australia into darkness last week. But it was caused by strong winds that took down transmission lines, not by too much wind power on the grid. Or was it? Continue reading

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Solar PV capacity factors in the US – the EIA data

A post I wrote a little over two years ago concluded that solar PV capacity factors in the US ranged between 13% and 19% with an average of around 16%. Recently, however, the US Energy Information Agency published a table showing an average capacity factor of around 28% for utility-sized PV plants in the US in 2015. This post looks into the reasons for this large difference and also addresses the question of whether the EIA estimates can be used to predict future US solar PV output. Continue reading

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Solar in Chile

Solar power in 2015 accounted for less than 5% of Chile’s total electricity generation, but because of decreased demand and inadequate grid connections it’s already generating surpluses that have to be curtailed or which result in the power being sold at zero cost . Yet to meet its target of 20% renewable energy from non-hydro sources by 2025 Chile plans to install yet more intermittent solar and wind energy by 2020/21. Continue reading

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The revealing numbers on solar employment in the USA.

Once again the green media are being transported into flights of ecstasy over the fact that the US solar industry now employs more people than the US oil & gas and coal industries. The data, however, show that the solar industry contributes virtually nothing to US energy supply, which is still filled dominantly by fossil fuels. Reviews also show that the problem of accurately estimating annual US solar generation has still not been solved. Continue reading

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Net Energy Trends

In writing Wednesday’s post ERoEI for Beginners, I prepared a number of charts that were not used and these are presented here. Where it has been measured and according to the literature, the net energy of oil, natural gas and coal is falling everywhere. Surface mined US coal has one of the highest energy returns of any fuel and is substantially higher than deep mined Chinese coal. In electricity equivalent (Eeq) form, Chinese coal is marching towards the Net Energy Cliff edge while US coal remains far from it. The image shows part of a 50 km long queue of coal trucks in China. Continue reading

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The Energy Return of Solar PV – a response from Ferroni and Hopkirk

Last week’s post on The Energy return of Solar PV caused quite a stir. Yesterday I received a response to some of the comments from Ferroccio Ferroni and Robert Hopkirk answering some of the queries raised by readers. There response is given below the fold. But first I have a few comments to add.

Let’s kick off with the unshakeable enthusiasm for renewables of every flavour from the Scottish National Party. Member of the Scottish Parliament Callum McCaig:

I think Scotland is very much leading the way…. Continue reading

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The Energy Return of Solar PV

A new study by Ferroni and Hopkirk [1] estimates the ERoEI of temperate latitude solar photovoltaic (PV) systems to be 0.83. If correct, that means more energy is used to make the PV panels than will ever be recovered from them during their 25 year lifetime. A PV panel will produce more CO2 than if coal were simply used directly to make electricity. Worse than that, all the CO2 from PV production is in the atmosphere today, while burning coal to make electricity, the emissions would be spread over the 25 year period. Continue reading

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Blowout Week 123

A few careless campers who forgot to extinguish their campfire, or maybe a few kids playing with matches, or a cigarette, or an arsonist, a piece of glass, whatever, have in the last few days done more to bring the global oil market back into balance than OPEC and the rest of the world’s producers put together. Continue reading

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Net metering and the death of US rooftop solar

“Net metering” allows anyone with a solar installation to sell surplus solar power to the grid when the sun is shining and to purchase power back from the grid when it isn’t. Net metering has been described as the lifeblood of solar in America, and it’s probably true to state that without it there would be few, if any domestic rooftop solar installations anywhere in the country. However, the program is now coming under attack, with Hawaii and Nevada recently rolling back net metering benefits and with a number of other states also considering changes. What happens if enough states impose similar rollbacks, or maybe do away with net metering altogether? This post reviews this question and concludes that domestic solar in the US will slowly wither and die. Continue reading

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Blowout Week 119

The Obama Administration is becoming progressively more strident in its attempts to bring home the perils of climate change to a largely disinterested public. Last week it published the results of a 300-page multi-year study involving “scores of researchers and the work of eight federal agencies”. The study’s conclusion was that climate change could kill tens of thousands of Americans each year by the end of the century. Continue reading

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Blowout Week 118

This week we focus on solar power in the United States. A report by the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory has concluded that the country can fill 39% of its electricity needs with rooftop solar PV alone. And that doesn’t include the “immense potential” of ground-mounted PV units. Is an all-solar America on the horizon? Continue reading

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Estimating life-time costs for Renewable Energy in Europe

To compare the cost of new renewables (wind and solar PV) with other forms of generation the costs need to be adjusted for capacity factor, length of plant life and running costs. For example, nuclear may run for 60 years with a capacity over 80% while solar PV may last 20 years and have capacity of 10%. Making these adjustments suggests that onshore wind may cost 10 times as much as a gas fired plant while offshore wind and solar PV are 40 times more expensive than gas. Continue reading

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How to make El Hierro 100% renewable

Euan suggested that I explore other renewable options for El Hierro to see how they compare with the wind, pumped hydro and diesel option of the existing Gorona del Viento (GdV) complex that cost an estimated €82 million to install. GdV has so far delivered 32% renewables, well short of the 100% that is widely publicised. It is found that a solar photo voltaic (PV) + diurnal storage system could deliver close to 100% but with a price tag of €150 to 200 million. Concentrated solar power (CSP) switches off completely when it is cloudy and is not viable without 100% backup. El Hierro is an active volcanic island sitting on top of a magma (molten rock) chamber. Geothermal could most likely provide a reliable 365day/24hour electricity supply without storage for a fraction of the wind or solar costs, but appears to have never been explored. Continue reading

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Blowout Week 113

This week Nicholas Stern is in the spotlight followed by US shale producers are finally buckling – or are they? Plus the budding US/Russia natural gas war, China now number one in wind, nuclear power plant costs, EDF calls for EU market reform, German solar “too much of a good thing”, Drax threatens a shutdown, the Didcot accident, Swansea tidal has a competitor, Solar Scotland, the ITER nuclear fusion machine, another battery storage breakthrough, the global warming pause is real and sea levels are rising faster than ever. Continue reading

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Blowout Week 111

This week’s Blowout features the US supreme court’s surprise decision to block Obama’s clean power plan and how it might cause the Paris Climate Accord to unravel. Below the fold a message from US shale producers to OPEC, China’s meltdown-proof reactor, wind and solar in the EU, South Australia, Scotland, California and Morocco, the CSIRO layoffs, the Rugely shutdown, Scotland’s dwindling tax revenues, Swansea Bay tidal takes a hit, Friends of the Earth in trouble over anti-fracking campaign, WWF accused of “involvement in violence & abuse”, the waning El Niño, Christians give up fossil fuels for Lent and UK rig workers no longer fit through escape hatches. Continue reading

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