Solar windows, huge solar farms, Al Gore and electric cars

A collection of newsworthy items and links about solar and renewable energy.

Mashable: A view from space of how China dominates the global solar power industry
April by Andrew Freedman
China is the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, but it’s also leading the world in clean energy investment and deployment. The growth in China’s solar power sector, in particular, has been swift. 

These time-lapse videos from the NASA/USGS Landsat 8 and ESA Sentinel-2 satellites show the expansion of solar energy facilities in China at Longyangxia and at Jinchang — during the five-year period between April 2013 and 2018.

7minutesolar: At the beginning of the year China’s National Energy Administration announced that its annual photovoltaic capacity now tops 100 BILLION kilowatt hours per year. It still generates distressingly high amounts of power with coal, but these time lapse gifs show the enormity of its commitment to solar energy. The Beijing smog (as well as in Shanghai and other cities) is literally unbearable. With the concurrent switch to electric vehicles – 60,000  were sold in China in March (40,000 in the EU) – the combination of solar generation and electric vehicle transportation looks like a formula for cleaner air, with the associated savings in health and other fossil fuel related expenses.

World Economic Forum: Morocco is building a solar farm as big as Paris in the Sahara Desert
May 1, 2018 by 
Adam Jezard
An amazing transformation has taken place on the dunes below Morocco’s sun-blasted High Atlas mountains. Against the yellow sand thousands of curved mirrors, each taller than a human, stand in rows. These are part of a solar-power generating plant that is rapidly changing how the whole continent produces its electricity.

The mirrors cover an area of roughly 1.4 million square metres, about the same size as the French capital city of Paris.

7minutesolar: It would seem that the Sahara desert – with one of the highest measures of solar radiance on the planet is the ideal spot for solar installations. This one is a solar thermal facility, which operates in the same way as Australia’s Aurora Solar Energy Project, using the sun to heat molten salt and drive steam turbines through the night. In many other African countries the move is more towards decentralized power, with solar panels on homes or in communities. (Leonardo di Caprio just invested in Kingo Energy, which is a leader in this area.) The combination of large and micro hopefully gives Africa a good shot at growing its economies and improving lives and work prospects without the climate downside that has accompanied rapid growth in China and India.

Global Solar Radiance map

The Guardian: UK drives into e-vehicle fast lane with 11% sales rise
April 19, 2018 by Daniel Boffey

Sales of electric cars in the UK have risen 11% on last year, putting the country in the premier league of those ditching petrol and diesel engines, though it is still miles behind Norway and China.

An analysis of the latest global sales of electric vehicles found that nearly half the vehicles registered in Norway in the first three months of 2018 were electric (48%), compared to just over a third (35%) during the same period in 2017. The vehicles are run almost exclusively off the nation’s hydropower resource, underlining Norway’s claim as the world leader.

7minutesolar: More electric cars is better. There’s a reason that governments and corporations alike evaluate green energy projects by saying “reducing greenhouse gas emissions by taking the equivalent of XX,000 automobiles off the road.”

Compound Semiconductor: Saule Opens Up Licence For Perovskite Solar Windows
April 24, 2018

Saule, a high-tech company from Poland, signed a cooperation agreement with Skanska, one of the biggest European construction companies in January, 2018.  It is now offering flexible licence-based cooperation opportunities for companies active in the Middle East.

The subject of the licence is an opaque PV product with very high energy conversion efficiency which can be easily integrated with building facades, and an efficient, translucent perovskite cell in any colour (so-called ‘solar window’).

7minutesolar: There is a lot of ongoing activity in the perovskite arena. We reported on Saule when they announced their agreement with Skanska. (This post has a neat video about printing perovksite solar film). Skanska builds a LOT of things, it had revenue of $160B in 2017 and are deeply involved in sustainable structures and reducing fossil fuel use even on their own project sites. If Skanska thinks this application of perovskite has a future, this new licensing in the ME looks like another step forward not just for Saule, but the whole perovskite and solar window end of things.

Best of New Orleans: ‘So much depends on it’: Al Gore issues environmental call to arms at Collision
May 2, 2018 by Kat Stromquist

The man who was almost president has a message for the entrepreneurs, investors and other tech-adjacent professionals milling about this week’s Collision conference in New Orleans: he needs you on board. ‘I’m not here to just give you information,’ he says. ‘I’m here to recruit you. We need your help to win this struggle. We need your help to solve the climate crisis.’

In a 30-minute speech to a packed-to-the-gills house (people sitting in the aisles, on the floor in front of the stage), former vice president, Nobel laureate and venture capitalist Al Gore exhorted conference-goers to sign on to what he says will be the defining battle of our lifetimes — the struggle to turn back the clock on an ever-warming, ever-more-meteorologically volatile planet whose climate has been disrupted by human activity and fossil fuel emissions.

7minutesolar: Al Gore is obviously an important person to have leading the charge to change things. What is even better is where he spoke. Planet:tech is a part of the organization that puts together Lisbon’s Web Summit, ‘the largest tech conference in the world’. To have the sustainable energy and cleantech industries enmeshed with tech startups working on a wide variety os solutions can only lead to cross pollenization that will lead to easier adoption and efficiency of green energy generation and distribution.

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