Electric school buses, solar roads, almost ALL new US energy renewable

Solar capacity continues to grow in the US

A new report from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) in the United States points out just how quickly solar power continues to grow in that country.

The U.S. Solar Market Insight Report, published in association with GreenTechMedia Research, shows that even though solar installations slumped in the first part of the year due to Trump tariffs on imported solar panels, there is still annual growth of 13% on a year over year comparison with 2017.

The total amount of solar capacity installed was 2.5 Giga (billion) watts of photovoltaic solar, making it 10 quarters in a row that more than 2 GW has been added. That’s two and a half years straight years.

S&P Global has put the SEIA figures together with information from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to give a breakdown of which energy sources have been installed since 2010. That is the graph at the top of this segment.

In the past three months, solar and wind contributed 95% of the energy capacity. Solar was 55%, wind 40% the next closest source was natural at 2% of the total and other  – things like geothermal, hydroelectric and biomass – made up 3%.

No new coal-fired plants were built. ZERO.

To give you some idea of how things have changed in the past 8 years, here is a pie chart of the energy sources built in 2010 versus the first quarter of 2018. The shrinking of coal and natural gas is obvious enough when they are labelled individually, but when it is divided into fossil fuel versus renewables – solar and wind – the change is even more stark.

A couple of other notes from the SEIA report:

New additions of residential PV remained flat quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year in Q1 2018.

The non-residential solar segment posted its fourth-highest installation total ever, with 509 megawatts installed. This represents year-over-year growth of 23 percent. Community solar continues to be a strong driver of non-residential solar demand. Minnesota alone added more than 100 MW of community solar in Q1. The report says the U.S. has now surpassed 1 cumulative gigawatt of community solar capacity.

»» Get the Executive Summary of the SEIA Report
»» Read the S&P Global article


IKEA working to meet Paris goals

The IKEA Group is the largest IKEA franchisee in the world, with 363 stores in 29 markets. And, with 817 million real life shoppers last year (and 2.1 billion on-line), they have quite an impact on the environment.

On Tuesday they outlined ways in which they are being guided by the Science Based Targets Initiative to ensure that the business contributes to reaching the targets of the Paris Agreement.

The Science Based Targets initiative is a collaboration between CDP (the Carbon Disclosure Project), the United Nations Global Compact, World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and is one of the We Mean Business Coalition commitments. 

For IKEA, the Science Based Targets are all part of a bigger People and Planet Positive Strategy that includes:

Removing all single-use plastic products from the IKEA range globally and from customer and co-worker restaurants in stores* by 2020

Designing all IKEA products with new circular principles, with the goal of using only renewable and recycled materials

Increasing the proportion of plant-based choices in the IKEA food offer, such as the veggie hot dog launching globally later this year

Achieving zero emission home deliveries by 2025*

Expanding the offer of affordable home solar solutions from five IKEA markets to 29 IKEA markets* by 2025.

Here’s a video about home solar products in IKEA stores.


Electric school buses taking kids to school emission free

LionM Electric School Minibus

It makes sense that school buses that carry kids would be one of the places you would want to cut down on fossil fuel fumes and carbon emissions. That’s exactly where The Lion Electric Co. and First Priority GreenFleet focus their efforts, and they have partnered to roll out more than 150 all-electric school buses in the last two years, with more than a million miles driven. California is the largest market, with 40 buses.

Lion Electric, based in Quebec, Canada, was founded in 2008 with a goal of designing and manufacturing reduced and zero emission school buses. First Priority Green Fleet is the only independent commercial electric vehicle service organization covering both coasts. It represents Lion in California, New York and New Jersey.

This summer Lion will add to their fleet and sales with the introduction of the LionM, an electric minibus able to travel 75 to 150 miles.

Their lineup also includes all-electric trucks which will be ready for distribution by the end of the year. Because the company makes its own chassis, battery packs and body, the heavy-duty urban trucks can be easily adapted as the basis for ambulances, service trucks, cranes and delivery trucks.by the end of the current year, leveraging the technologies developed over the last eight years. We’re talking specifically about specialty medium to heavy-duty urban trucks (classes 5 to 8). The vehicles can range from ambulances or service trucks, to cranes and delivery trucks.

In the past year in particular there has been increasing attention paid to commercial vehicles and their importance in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as well as the toxic chemicals and particulate put into the air from the burning of diesel. Electric motor technology is ideally suited for urban buses that go on the same route over and over and has led to some intriguing battery charging methods including from overhead and from below the bus.


Solar roads for the Tokyo Olympics

Solar roads are something that a number of countries have worked on. China built a prototype highway 2 kms long and there have been other installations in the Netherlands and France. Sweden also built an electrified road that is not dependent on solar energy, but is able to charge trucks as they driver along.

There are also quite a few examples of solar sidewalks in Canada, Hungary and Scotland

Now Japan is taking up the initiative, in part because the Olympics in 2020 will be a good showcase for new technology. 

Wherever they are installed, the solar roads and sidewalks work essentially the same. Solar panels are installed in the base, and then covered with a special plastic that can stand up to the traffic.

One of the problems with any new technology is the high cost of installing the first iterations. Japan is hoping that the kick start from the publicity and hopefully proof of the concept will lead to mass production and more affordable solar roads that can be put just about anywhere.


Images: Charts: S&P Global with data from GTM Research, FERC; Lion Electric Co.; Icons: made by Freepik from www.flaticon.com

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