Solar Technology lights up Las Vegas at night

Posted on 14 April, 2015 by Admin in general

Las Vegas at night is a spectacular lightshow. It seems impossible to imagine this city being powered by solar power.
In the following days this incredible concept is about to become a reality.

SolarReserve’s new concentrated solar energy plant Crescent Dune is set to introduce a unique technology that will challenge the way the world currently thinks about renewable energy.

Crescent Dune situated near Tonopah in the Central Nevada Desert, 300kms north of Las Vegas, will capture and stores the sun’s power to reliably provide electricity whenever it’s needed most. Powering 75,000 homes, casinos and entertainment palaces during peak demand periods, even after dark. With zero emissions.

The unique and potential game-changing feature of this one billion dollar facility is the molten salt power tower technology with fully integrated energy storage. This cost effective power supply is cheaper than diesel and is therefore competitive with new build coal and gas generation.

The super battery holds 10 hours of molten salt storage that converts to deliver 110MW of base-load capacity to Las Vegas between the hours of 12 noon and midnight each day, when the city needs it most.

Over 10,000 tracking mirrors, called heliostats, in a 2800-meter diameter mechanical solar reflection field follow the sun throughout the day and reflect and concentrate sunlight onto a large receiver (heat exchanger) on top of a concrete tower.

Within the black tube walls of the receiver, molten salt flows through the piping and absorbs the heat from the concentrated sunlight. The liquid salt is heated from 288 degrees Celsius to over 566 degrees Celsius. Unlike water, which at these temperatures would flash into steam, these salts maintain their liquid state for efficient storage.

After passing through the receiver, the high temperature molten salt flows down the piping inside the tower at a rate of over 5,000 gallons(18927.1 liters) per minute, and into an insulated thermal storage tank, where the energy is stored as high-temperature molten salt until electricity is needed. There is minimal heat loss through this process per day.

When power is needed, day or night, the hot molten salt is passed through a steam generation system to heat water and produce high temperature and high pressure steam which in turn is used to drive a conventional power turbine, which generates electricity.

SolarReserve has the exclusive worldwide license to this technology, which was originally developed and perfected during various space programs.

The company currently has numerous projects in various stages of development in Middle East, Africa, Australia, China, India and Latin America.

Crescent Dune is set to be generating electricity before the end of April 2015.

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Australia lagging behind rest of the world

Posted on 13 April, 2015 by Admin in general

New report on renewable energy

Australia is lagging behind the world’s major economies when it comes to renewable energy generation despite having enough renewable energy resources to power the country 500 times over.

At a joint press conference  in Canberra last month, the Climate Council of Australia's Professor Tim Flannery and John Grimes, CEO of the Australian Solar Council released a report into global renewable energy trends.

Globally, renewable energy is now cost-comparative or cheaper than fossil fuels for generating electricity, and the cost of wind and solar in particular is projected to continue to fall steeply. But as other G20 members stride ahead on renewable energy, Australia is in danger of falling further and further behind, the report warns.

“Globally, the renewable energy industry is booming with strong investment growth,” Flannery said.  “Unfortunately in Australia investment in this sector has fallen sharply.

“It is the countries with long term renewable energy policies that are attracting investment.” In 2014, clean energy investment grew 32 per cent in China and 12 per cent in Japan but in Australia it fell 35 per cent.

Investment in large-scale renewables fell 88 per cent in Australia due to policy uncertainty by the federal government, according to the report entitled“The global renewable energy boom: How Australia is missing out.”

In 2014, Australia and Italy were the only two countries in the world to experience a decline in investment due to regulatory changes.

“Australia has excellent renewable energy resources but is missing out on a global boom due to threats to reduce the Renewable Energy Target (RET),” the report said.

“Australia is the sunniest country in the world and one of the windiest; it has enough renewable energy resources to power the country 500 times over.

“Threats to reduce the RET as well as multiple reviews of the target and ongoing debate has substantially undermined investor confidence.”

Job creation

Globally, 800,000 jobs were created in the clean energy sector between 2012 and 2013. In 2014, the US solar industry added over 31,000 new jobs, an increase of 21.8 per cent on the previous year.

At a time when global employment in this sector grew by 13 per cent, jobs in Australia's renewable energy sector fell 13 per cent in 2013. A big driver of growth is the steep decline in the cost of wind and solar.

Solar PV panel prices have fallen 75 per cent in the last five years while global wind costs have dropped 14 per cent. An estimated 1.4 million Australian homes now have solar installed with the cost of solar PV expected to fall a further 45 per cent over the next five years.

The report said that renewable energy is now cost comparative or cheaper than fossil fuels for generating electricity.

“Renewable energy growth is surging globally. In just a decade investment has increased five fold. The world has installed 760GW of power, that is 12 times Australia's total capacity,” the report said.

At the end of 2013 China, the US, Brazil, Canada and Germany led the world in total installed capacity. In 2013, investment in clean energy reached $US268.1 billion, which is more than double the investment in fossil fuels which reached $US102 billion.

Last year investment grew 16 per cent above 2013 levels to $US310 billion. Moreover, 51.5GW of wind power was added in 2014 up from 35GW in 2013. Some 0.7GW geopthermal power was added om 2014, up from 0.6GW added in 2013.

There is clear evidence to prove that the level of investment in each country is determined by the policy environment. A country with a clear, consistent, long term energy strategy attracts private investment. For example, investment in China last year reached $US89.5 billion, up 32 per cent on 2013 while Japan reached $US41.3 billion, up 12 per cent on the previous year.

In contrast, clean energy investment in Australia fell 35 per cent to $US3.7 billion last year, the lowest level of investment since 2009. Moreover, investment in large scale renewable energy projects dropped a whopping 88 per cent last year, to levels equivalent to investment figures 12 years ago. Investment in large scale wind projects were zero.

Similarly in Italy investment fell 60 per cent due to retrospective cuts to the country's feed-in-tariff scheme for large scale solar plants.  As renewable power has become more cost competitive, businesses and organisations are increasingly choosing to purchase or install and operate their own renewable electricity to reduce energy costs and meet company sustainability commitments.

Companies relying on 100 per cent green power or generating their own power on-site include Apple, BMW and Coca Cola.

Energy storage

Grid parity is when the cost of solar PV is lower or reaches the same price as retail electricity tariffs per kWh. Some 13 G20 countries now have regions of grid parity including Australia, Brazil, China, India, Turkey and the US.

As costs come down energy storage deployment continues to grow. Global battery storage is expected to grow from $US22 million in 2014 to $US18 billion by 2023.

Last year Telstra announced it would build a battery production facility in Nevada in the US. It will produce 35GWh of battery cells and 50GWh of battery packs by 2020.

Australian grid operators are beginning to trial battery storage to reduce peak demand, improve grid reliability and provide an alternative to building or replacing electricity transmission lines.

In early 2014 there were 144 couhntries with a Renewable Energy Target (RET), up from 138 in 2013 and triple the number from a decade a go.

Australia's RET sits in the middle range of G20 targets. While Australia's G20 allies and trading partners continue to embrace renewable energy with three of the world's largest gas emitters China, European Union and India expanding their RETS. Global renewable energy capacity hit record highs in 2013 and its likely 2014 will eclipse previous year records.

As other G20 members stride ahead on renewable energy Australia is in danger of falling further and further behind.



From solar power to horsepower – the electric car revolution

Posted on 8 April, 2015 by Admin in general

With Wheels Car of the Year award this year going to BMW i3 it is worth asking if is this a game changer for the automotive landscape?

One thing is certain; the electric car industry is on the way up. This surge could provide economic opportunities such as to bring down household costs.

EV Goes Mainstream

The first production line fully-electric vehicle hit Australian streets in 2008 and more affordable and varied models are being introduced each year.

A myriad of companies in the automobile industry are now venturing into electronic technologies for their cars including Tesla Model S, BMW i8, Holden Volt, Mitsubishi Outlander, Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi I-MiEVs

There are two main types of electric cars – battery-electric (EV) and plug-in-hybrid-electric (PHEV). Battery-electric uses a rechargeable storage battery as its only power source. These are charged using dedicated charging equipment at home or at a charging station.

Plug-in hybrid-electric have a rechargeable battery but they also have a petrol or diesel power system which generates additional power to increase their driving range.

The distance an electric car can travel before recharging depends on many factors, including battery size, driving style and road conditions, but 100 kilometres should be achievable in most models.

The typical road user has a daily commute that’s well within the range of a single charge on an electric car: Mitsubishi’s i-MiEV has a range of 100-120 kilometres; Nissan’s LEAF has a range of 150-175 kilometres and Tesla has been able to achieve up to 480 kilometres on a single charge.

Tesla is the clear pioneer and forerunner of the electric car. Tesla model S was named the best overall car for the second year running in Consumer Reports. This achievement signifies how their electric car has moved to the mainstream in vehicle driver safety and consumer interests.

An Energy Market in Decline

Perhaps the key to the success of electric vehicles in Australia would be intertwined with the utility industries interest in electric vehicles and its infrastructure of storage and charging stations. This could be an antidote to declining demand and the forecast “death spiral” looming for the electricity market

Origin Energy, for instance, is endorsing the deployment of electric vehicles. Origin’s website promotes their product ‘Chargepoint’ for electric cars under the banner of “Big Picture Topics”. By adding Origin’s renewable ‘Greenpower’ product to households, consumers can calculate the potential savings to both the hip pocket nerve and the environment.

It could be rightly argued that the most fuel-efficient new petrol cars on the market are on par with average power generation emissions for electric cars charging from the “dirty grid” in most countries.

It is when you add the electric car to renewable energy resource that you begin to hit on a vertical integration potential of energy optimisation with minimal environmental impact.

Charging Stations

Fast charging DC units are being installed in central city areas, boasting a 20 minute top-up to 80% charge. AC charging stations, which are more readily available, are a little slower.

The first solar-powered electric vehicle charging station opened to the public near Byron Bay in December last year. The 45kW solar system, is one of the largest solar installations on the North Coast.

Built by Smart Commercial Solar, this solar array features 180 PV panels on a purpose-built carport structure. Situated in the car park at Macadamia Castle this shelter will generate half of the energy needs of the tourist attraction whilst also charging the electric cars of visitors within battery range from Brisbane.


Add the household solar resource to this picture and we may expect to see the most energy efficient, environmentally friendly adaptation of the automobile yet.

With household consumption generally low while solar generation is peaking, excess clean power is available for charging of car batteries during the day, thereby avoiding the meagre returns on solar power exported to the grid.

To utilise clean power for overnight charging, household battery storage for solar generated power, or grid-supplied ‘green power’, would be required.

Naturally, the upfront investment would need to be justified over several years of low cost driving.

The incredible benefit of the electric vehicle and renewable energy dream team offers a strong argument to turning solar power into horsepower.

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