2018/06/04: Adding plants to solar farms offers all kinds of benefits to the facilities’ primary aim of reducing carbon emissions and expanding renewable energy. “Solar development is happening on a massive scale as lands are being converted from agricultural land or unused land into solar projects,” says Jordan Macknick, energy-water-land lead analyst with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), which funds research on the impact of native and crop plants grown in solar farms. “That represents an amazing opportunity to improve our agriculture and improve our food security while developing energy at the same time.”
Adding plants to solar farms offers all kinds of benefits to the facilities’ primary aim of reducing carbon emissions and expanding renewable energy. And native and crop vegetation can help improve the health of pollinators, which are threatened by habitat loss, pesticide poisoning, poor nutrition, disease, decreased genetic diversity and a host of other factors. As a result, managed honeybee colonies used for honey production declined from 5.7 million in the 1940s to around 2.7 million today. Pollinators have an enormous impact on the economy, too, by annually contributing US$24 billion to the nation’s economy.
2018-10-04: Research published today suggests that the power available from wind is much more limited than many experts thought, and that deployment on a larger scale could significantly raise temperatures over the Earth’s surface, as turbines alter atmospheric flows. The research highlights a painful but not altogether surprising reality: Even the cleanest renewable technologies come with environmental costs.
Research found that wind plants encompassing the largest areas had the lowest power densities, as expected. This figure implies that meeting current U.S. electricity needs alone would require wind farms to cover fully 12 percent of the U.S. land area. Wind power has physical limitations.
Miller and Keith found something even more surprising in another study that looked at a related question: What should we expect the climate impact of significant wind energy generation to be? Removing energy from atmospheric winds means those winds carry less energy afterward, moving more slowly, among other things.
simulations revealed that interactions of the turbines with the atmosphere would likely lead to a redistribution of heat in the lower atmosphere, resulting in a 0.54 degrees Celsius (0.97 degrees Fahrenheit) warming within the wind farms’ region itself, and an increase of 0.24 degrees Celsius (0.43 degrees Fahrenheit) over the continental U.S. This result, they note, actually matches up pretty well with recent satellite observations of local warming around wind farms operating in California, Illinois, Iowa and Texas. They also found that an expansive wind farm would need to operate for more than a century or so before the reduction of global carbon dioxide emissions would offset the local warming effect.
Miller and Keith also looked at U.S. solar farms, finding an achieved energy density about 10 times higher than for wind farms. Solar arrays in their study also led to much less local warming. There may be a good reason to shift future investments toward solar energy, as some big investors are doing already.
2013/09/13: The world will have to slash greenhouse gas emissions in half in the next 11 years, and then slash emissions in half again in each subsequent decade just to have a shot at avoiding 2 degrees Celsius of warming.
To do it, we’ll need to double our efforts every decade. In other words, we need more than rapid change; we need exponential change.
The good news: we are already seeing that exponential growth in wind and solar installations.
2018/09/04: While others were addressing the public health issues of the thick air pollution, Peters’ co-worker Andre Nobre from Cleantech Energy Corp., whose field is also solar energy, wondered about what impact such hazes might have on the output of solar panels in the area. The findings show that these effects are indeed substantial. In some cases it can mean the difference between a successful solar power installation and one that ends up failing to meet expected production levels - and possibly operates at a loss.
Floating solar farms have several advantages, not the least of which is they don’t use up valuable land in densely populated areas. China has over 100 cities with populations of more than 1 million. The US, by comparison, has 10.
Floating solar power plantThe panels help to conserve precious freshwater supplies by lowering the amount of evaporation into the surrounding atmosphere. In return, the water keeps ambient temperatures around the solar panels lower, which helps boost their efficiency and limit long-term heat-induced degradation.
The most interesting thing about the floating solar power plant in Huainan, however, is that the lake supporting it was created by rain after the surrounding land collapsed in a process known as subsidence following intensive coal mining operations over a period of years. Anhui province is rich in coal reserves and has been the source of much of the coal used to power the Chinese economy.
Umbra sheds a little light on solar chargers.
Take 300,000 computer-controlled mirrors, each 7 feet high and 10 feet wide. Control them with computers to focus the Sun's light to the top of 459-feet towers, where water is turned to steam to power turbines. Bingo: you have the world's biggest solar power plant, the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System. Long-mired by regulatory issues and
The rugged M-KOPA solar lighting and charging systems come with an innovative payment plan. Too bad they're only available in Kenya.
One of the main producers of renewable energy in Europe, Spain's solar industry, is edging toward bankruptcy. Producers say they'll be unable to repay credits after the government's decision to cut subsidies. Banks will suffer and jobs will be lost.