Bloomberg reports that Chile now has enough solar energy infrastructure that the price of electricity routinely hits zero. At the end of April, there had been 113 days of zero-cost energy. In the whole of last year it was 192.
A team of Stanford University researchers have generated a plan for converting existing US energy infrastructure to run entirely on renewable energy by 2050. The study illustrates how existing renewable technologies such as solar, wind and geothermal could realistically replace fossil fuels.
The complex study examined the current and future energy needs of every state for four main categories – residential, commercial, industrial and transportation. It then examined how all these energy needs could be met purely by using electricity and what renewables infrastructure would be needed to meet this.
Not only does converting to electricity allow full use of renewables but due to greater efficiency could produce an energy saving of 39% by 2050.
Some states are already well down the road of converting to renewables. Washington State produces 70 percent of its electricity from hydroelectric, and both Iowa and South Dakota use wind power for around 30 percent of their electricity needs.
The cost of conversion to all renewables would be substantial, but once established the electricity generated is almost free, returning invested capital over time. Other benefits would be less air and ground pollution, energy cost stability, energy independence and substantial new employment and business opportunities to replace those lost in the fossil fuel industries.
All that is needed now is the political will to execute the plan. A republican win in this year’s presidential election would see the plan thrown to the back of a very dark cupboard!
The UK still ranks close to the bottom of the European Union in its use of renewables. In 2014, it used fossil fuels to produce more than 60 percent of its electricity, half again as much as the E.U. average. The Conservative government plans an 87 percent reduction in subsidies for solar power despite promising after the May election to “unleash a new solar revolution”. Washington Post
A 70 metre test track in Amsterdam embedded with solar panels has generated more than 3000kwh, enough to power a house for a whole year. The result is much better than expected.
The road is made up of rows of crystalline silicon solar cells, encased within concrete and with a translucent layer of tempered glass overlaid. The top layer is dirt-repellent to guarantee maximum exposure to sunlight by keeping the surface clean.
The solar panels are connected to smart meters, which optimise their output and feed the electricity either to street lighting or to the grid.
So far, approximately 150,000 cyclists have ridden over the road and, if trials go well, the companies working on the project are thinking of developing solar panels that could withstand large buses and vehicles.
There is a similar initiative in the US, the Solar Roadways project.