Solar around the World

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U.S. Solar Flourishing Despite Trump’s Tariffs

U.S. Solar Flourishing Despite Trump’s Tariffs 1024 678 Joshua Jones

Clean energy is on the up and up again, and the U.S. solar industry is benefiting as a result. According to a new report, this year is expected to see solar installations increase despite a drop in installations last year.

Clean Energy on the Rise

The report from the Solar Energy Industries Association and Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables, a market research group, was published June 4th. It shoes that 2.7 gigawatts of solar capacity had been added to the grid in the first quarter of 2019. That makes it the strongest in the U.S. solar industry’s history! The report projects new solar installations should grow 25 percent from 2018, to 13.3 gigawatts.The bounce back from the 2 percent dip last year was driven by large-scale utility solar projects. These types of projects account for 61 percent of the first quarter’s growth.

This marks a significant change from what was expected last year after President Trump’s announcement for tariffs on imported solar cells and modules. The industry was worried at the time that the tariffs would hinder solar, especially after 2017’s job losses. However, solar installations rose past the 2 million mark this year, which is a marker worth celebrating.

“We’ve now gone a full five quarters with the tariffs being in place, and the market has seemed to have really settled down and has grown quite robustly,” said Colin Smith, senior analyst with Wood Mackenzie, to Earther. “Now, we’re in a position where we’re seeing a lot of market growth beyond what we initially expected a year ago or simply overcome any impacts of the tariffs.”

Areas of Growth

The report notes that residential rooftop solar is seeing some growth. Meanwhile, non-residential solar is facing a decline. This refers to solar panels found on commercial and industrial facilities, as well as community solar projects. The real saviors are utility solar projects that feed into the grid. The report notes that this sector should grow by 46 percent this year from 2018. In particular, this is attributed to large solar projects in Florida and the Carolinas. Florida has been leading the charge in solar installations so far this year, followed by California.

The industry expects this growth to continue well past 2019, as well. Several U.S. utilities – from Dominion to Duke Energy – have solar projects in the works. These projects are projected to become reality by 2024. Furthermore, non-residential solar is expected to see some growth in the coming years. The authors of the report expect community solar to make up close to 30 percent of non-residential solar capacity by 2023. Additionally, another roughly 20 percent will come from solar-plus-storage as energy storage starts to gain some steam.

clean energy solar array

Helping Hands

Corporations are also helping fuel solar’s growth, said Smith. Companies like Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and Google are procuring hundreds of megawatts-if not gigawatts-of solar to help fuel their internal renewable energy targets.

“In years past, we were really looking at distributed generation so residential and commercial rooftop projects as one segment,” Smith told Earther, “but we’re now seeing this emerging segment that’s really driving growth.”

Currently, solar makes up less than 2 percent of the U.S. energy generation. However, as costs have gone down solar has grown more than 1700 percent since 2008 according to the Department of Energy. Renewables, in general, are set to be the “fastest growing source of U.S. electricity generation for at least the next two years,” per the Energy Information Administration. Meanwhile, coal generation has been falling; it’s currently only 28 percent of U.S. energy generation.

Is this enough?

Still, solar and wind energy may not be enough to meet targets set by the Paris Agreement according to E&E News reports. Other renewable clean energy types may be necessary during winter months when energy demands are highest. Governments may need to step in to ensure that more research is done on nuclear, renewable hydrogen, biogas, and carbon capture. If we’re to break our dependency on fossil fuels, we need to find ways to bridge the gaps if times come when wind and solar cannot produce enough energy.

The energy market is changing, and we all need to be prepared.

Solar array at Chattanooga Metro Airport

First Full Solar Airport in US

First Full Solar Airport in US 1440 460 Joshua Jones

Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport in Tennessee has become the first airport in the United States to run entirely on solar power. The small facility recently announced the completion of a 12-acre, 2.64 megawatt solar farm. With this, they are now able to generate enough green energy to account for the facilities total energy needs, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The project, funded largely by the Federal Aviation Administration, cost a total of $10 million. It took nine years and three phases to complete. It utilizes onsite batteries to support night time power operations and has an expected life span of 30 to 40 years. The array is built in the southwest corner of the airfield on land deemed unusable for aviation purposes, and is visible from Chattanooga’s two runways. “It’s good for our environment and our bottom line,” Dan Jacobson, chairman of the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport Authority, said at a press event. He made note that the solar panels produce enough electricity to power 160,000 light bulbs.

John Naylor, vice president of planning and development for the airport, told Bloomberg News in December that officials from nearly 50 airports around the world have visited or contacted the Chattanooga airfield in recent years. He said they came to learn more about their solar operations. Several major airports, including San Diego and the UK’s Gatwick, have installed solar panels capable of handling a portion of their power needs. Moreover, the world’s busiest airport, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, is looking to construct renewable energy microgrids to help power a portion of it’s operations. The trend looks to follow in the footsteps of the global leader in clean energy aviation, which is Cochin International in Kerala, India. Cochin as been 100% solar powered since 2015, with a 29.5 megawatt array.

Persian Gulf coast, Dubai

Dubai Joins Clean Energy Race

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Taking Inititave

The Persian Gulf is speckled with oil and gas rigs. However, it may soon be home to a more environmentally sustainable energy source. Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) has stated they are thinking of developing floating renewable energy plants in the Persian Gulf. On June 9th, it launched a search for consultants to advise on the project.

DEWA’s plan fits with the over-arching goal of Dubai’s government to develop it’s renewable energy resources. The city-state has relatively little oil or gas compared to it’s neighbor, Abu Dhabi. Because of this, they’re following a plan known as the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050. This aims to ensure that 75% of it’s total power output comes from clean sources by 250

The Plan

In order to reach that target, the authorities estimate they will need to have 42GW of clean electricity-generating capacity in place by then. Large projects are already being developed to help reach that goal. These include the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park in the desert outskirts of the city. This park is believed to be the largest single site solar energy project in the world! The first phases of the project are already up and running, but is still being expanded upon. Their aim is to have 5GW of installed solar capacity on site by 2030 at a total cost of AED50 billion ($13.6 billion).

DEWA has asked consultants to bid on a contract to advise them on developing and constructing solar plants out at sea. The contract will cover feasibility studies and an environmental impact assessment report, among many other topics. It is not yet known the quantity or location of offshore solar capacity Dubai is planning to develop.

The World’s Biggest Solar Parks

The World’s Biggest Solar Parks 150 150 Joshua Jones

What’s the biggest solar array you’ve ever seen?

A typical home solar panel produces around 300 watts of energy. This means that a small array on your roof is more than enough to provide power to your house, and even produce a bit extra that can be transferred back into the grid. If it takes thirty panels to power your house, how many do you think it would take to power your neighborhood? What about your whole town? A city? A country?

In Dubai, a record breaking solar park is under construction. The Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum solar array is one of the largest in the world. It could power as many as 1.3 million homes by the time it’s finished! This would reduce carbon emissions by 6.5 million tons annually.

Although it is still under construction, the park already contains more than 2.3 million solar panels. That’s enough to produce more than 200 megawatts of energy! The builders are on track to increase production by another 800 megawatts by the end of 2020. Right now, plans are for the plant to produce 5,000 megawatts of energy per year by the time it’s finished in 2030. That will make the Al Maktoum plant the largest in the world!

Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park

The Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Power Park

 

Currently, the world’s largest solar power plant is in China. The Tennger Desert Solar Park is located in Ningxia, a province in the central region of the country. The solar plant covers an area of more 16 square miles! It has a peak output of 1,547 megawatts. That’s huge!

Tennger Desert Solar Park

The Tennger Desert Solar Park

 

A close second behind the Tennger plant in China is the Bhadla Solar Park in Rajasthan, India. With a peak output of 1,515 megawatts, it’s a clear contender for the title of largest solar power plant in the world. India is making big waves in the worldwide solar industry, with 15 different planned solar projects over 500 megawatts as part of the country’s Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects plan.

bhadla solar power park

The Bhadla Solar Power Park

 

Here in the United States, we have a few exceptional solar power parks of our own. Solar Star is one such plant: when it was finished in 2015, it was the largest solar power plant in the world! It has 1.7 million panels, giving it a peak output of 579 megawatts. The plant is located on 3,200 acres in Rosamund, California.

Solar Star Power Plant

Solar Star Power Plant

We’re excited to see a future with solar power. With some of the world’s biggest countries dedicating lots of resources to renewable energy, we think the future of solar is looking pretty bright!

What do you think about these large solar parks? Let us know in the comments below!