UK Launches Major Solar Strategy

International Digital Editor, Power Engineering International

April 04, 2014 | The UK government today announced its Solar Strategy, the first such strategic document dedicated to solar by any European Union government.

It will entail the creation of ‘solar hubs‘ whereby commercial and public sector buildings deploy solar arrays onsite, effectively shifting the focus of the market towards mid- to large-scale rooftop installations.

It also reasserts the government’s goal to deliver 20 GW of solar capacity by 2020 and sets out a new ambition to double the number of domestic rooftop solar arrays in the UK to one million homes by 2015.

UK Energy Minister Greg Barker
UK Energy Minister Greg Barker. Image courtesy: Power Engineering International

The announcement made by Energy Minister Greg Barker – at a Solar Strategy conference session at event SunSolar Energy in Birmingham – is a statement of intent by the UK government that it is seeking to play a more influential role in the global solar sector, estimated to be around 46 GW by analysts from Deutsche Bank.

That 46 GW represents a 50 per cent increase in existing installed capacity.

Barker said: “We have put ourselves among the world leaders on solar and this ambitious strategy will place us right at the cutting edge.

“There is massive potential to turn our large buildings into power stations and we must seize the opportunity this offers to boost our economy as part of our long term economic plan.

“Solar not only benefits the environment, it will see British job creation and deliver the clean and reliable energy supplies that the country needs at the lowest possible cost to consumers.”

Ministers have also set a target of delivering 1 GW of capacity on public buildings by 2020 and will set out plans for the first 500 MW of installations later this year.

The conference session was co-chaired by Solar Trade Association (STA) PV Specialist Ray Noble and chaired by STA Chief Executive Paul Barwell.

Barwell said: “It’s a clever move by the UK government to start strategising to maximise its stake in a global market estimated at $134bn by 2020. With The Royal Society, the IPCC and even Shell  anticipating solar could be the world’s biggest energy source, the UK needs to make the most of its R&D, product design and manufacturing skills to steal a march in the global clean energy race.”

Noble said: “The Solar Strategy gives a clear signal that solar in the UK makes total sense. We still have work to do in developing solutions to some of the barriers but, working with government, these will be sorted during 2014. The message to the solar industry is full speed ahead and the message to the Minister is that we will achieve your ambition of 20GW.”

CSP Solar power
CSP solar system. Image courtesy: Power Engineering International

Other highlights of the strategy include plans to work with BIS to increase economic opportunities for UK plc in solar, building on UK innovation leads; new industry collaboration on building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) and the addressing removal of grid barriers that prevent the expansion of solar.

The strategy follows the ‘Roadmap to a Brighter Future‘ which was published last October. It looks to showcase how the UK is at the forefront of innovation in solar PV and its importance in driving further cost reduction, meeting the challenges of balancing the electricity system, securing carbon lifecycle benefits, and identifying new financial models to help households invest.

This article is republished here with the kind permission of Diarmaid Williams, International Editor of Power Engineering International

Additional gov.UK information is available:

WWF report: China can shift to 80% Renewables by 2050

by Guest Contributor: Chris Conner.
Originally published on World Wildlife Fund.

By embracing conservation measures and renewable energy, China can transition to an 80 percent renewable electric power system by 2050 at far less cost than continuing to rely on coal, according to a new report from World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

As a result, China’s carbon emissions from power generation could be 90 percent less than currently projected levels in 2050 without compromising the reliability of the electric grid or slowing economic growth.

Image Credit: China Solar Cells via Wikimedia Commons.

The future of renewable power is solar power in the distributed energy scenario. China Solar Cells Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

The China’s Future Generation report was prepared by the Energy Transition Research Institute (Entri) for WWF and uses robust computer modeling to simulate four scenarios based on today’s proven technology: a Baseline, High Efficiency, High Renewables, and Low-Carbon Mix scenario.

To develop its findings, Entri examined China’s electricity supply and demand on an hour-by-hour basis through 2050 using its advanced China Grid Model forecasting system.

“By fully embracing energy conservation, efficiency and renewables, China has the potential to demonstrate to the world that economic growth is possible while sharply reducing the emissions that drive unhealthy air pollution and climate change,” said WWF’s China Climate and Energy Program Director Lunyan Lu.

“This research shows that with strong political will, China can prosper while eliminating coal from its power mix within the next 30 years.”

In addition to ramping up development of renewable power sources, the world’s most populous and energy-hungry nation will need to simultaneously pursue aggressive energy efficiency initiatives to reduce electricity demand.

These efficiencies, including bold standards for appliances and industrial equipment, can reduce annual power consumption in 2050 by almost half, which would set the gold standard for these products globally and make the shift to a renewables-based power system possible.

“This research allows Chinese leaders to put the questions of technical feasibility aside and economic viability aside. Instead, it is time to focus on how to enact the right policies and establish the right institutions to ensure that China’s citizens and economy are receiving clean, renewable electricity,” said Lu. “The report shows that today’s technology can get China within striking distance of WWF’s vision of a future powered solely by renewable energy.”

The analysis also describes recent Chinese regulatory efforts and challenges to increasing the percentage of renewable electricity in the country, while providing a set of targeted recommendations for Chinese leaders and policy makers on energy efficiency, prioritizing low-carbon electricity supply investments, allowing price changes to reflect the true cost of service, and prioritizing collection and analysis of key power usage data.

“Both China and the United States are at a crossroads where leaders need to choose between a future where healthy communities are powered by clean, renewable energy or a future darkened by air pollution and the dangerous effects of climate change.

This year, as all countries develop new national climate targets in advance of talks in Paris, our leaders need to choose that brighter future.

For Chinese leaders the choice is simple. This report shows that renewables are doable. China can meet bold new targets with today’s technologies while cutting energy costs.” — Lou Leonard, WWF’s US vice president for climate change.

China cuts Electric Vehicle subsidy, Tesla stocks soar

by Nicholas Brown

The Tesla Model S electric vehicle – now available in China.

Tesla Model S

China’s generous electric vehicle subsidy was rumoured for months to face huge cuts — but the Finance Ministry has lowered the subsidy by only half of what was originally planned (a 5% drop in 2014, and a 10% drop in 2015).

Electric Vehicle (EV) manufacturers within and outside of the country had been holding their breath ever since the first hints of a possible subsidy cut trickled out into the press.

However, since the latest announcement electric vehicle manufacturers have been celebrating — including Tesla Motors (TSLA) whose stock values have suddenly surged to a record high of $196 per share. Last year, 35,000 to 60,000 yuan ($5,780 to $9,900 USD) per electric vehicle were paid out in subsidies as the frenetic push continues for cleaner air within China’s smog-choked cities.

China has been on a manufacturing roll in recent years. Even companies that are not based in China choose to manufacture their products in the world’s most dynamic economy. Tesla Motors recently entered the Chinese automotive industry despite legal challenges — and Tesla brass expect the Chinese electric vehicle industry to be as large as, or even larger than that of the U.S.

That doesn’t surprise me, as China has the world’s largest population (1.35 billion in 2012, according to Google), and the world’s largest car market.

Apart from that, Tesla’s stock value could come crashing back down as it did in November of 2013. A 40% decrease occurred in a matter of months, possibly caused by reports of (only) three Tesla Model S fires.

However, every cloud has a silver lining — the fires, along with subsequent NHTSA test results, have showed that Tesla vehicles are quite safe. The NHTSA has since rated the vehicle and Tesla was awarded the highest safety rating ever by the NHTSA in 2013.

Information from CleanTechnica.com show the German’s agree with the U.S. National Highways and Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Responding to potential concerns, the German Federal Motor Transport Authority, Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt (KBA) decided to investigate the matter and check for manufacturing defects. Tesla complied, providing data and additional information related to the three Tesla fires noted above.

KBA conducted its investigation and came to the same conclusion as Tesla, writing:

“According to the documents, no manufacturer-related defects [herstellerseitiger Mangel] could be found. Therefore, no further measures under the German Product Safety Act [Produktsicherheitsgesetz (ProdSG)] are deemed necessary.”

I would also expect the electric vehicle industry to show strong growth as millions more of China’s citizens begin to enjoy disposable income levels on par with other emerging nations. In the China of 2014, hundreds of millions of people need economical cars today and (literally) millions of others are waiting for the opportunity to buy a luxury car. In some cases, due to the long waiting lists the delivery date for a luxury imported car can take longer than one year in China.

According to the Wall Street Journal, even Rolls-Royce sells more cars in China than they do in most countries, at a cost of hundreds of thousands of U.S. dollars per vehicle. China and the U.S. are the most significant markets (as of January 2014) for Rolls-Royce.

Tesla is due to report their fourth quarter results on February 19.

Source: CNN Money

Editor: John Brian Shannon