Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Rain Powered Solar Panel

Scientists from the Ocean University of China (Qingdao) and Yunnan Normal University (Kunming, China) have created an all-weather solar cell that works both in the sun and in the rain. The technology takes advantage of the unique qualities of graphene, which allow it to produce energy from raindrops. It might be an excellent solution for UK, for instance.

Like most solar panels, the new solar cell can generate energy from sunlight on sunny days using existing technology. When the clouds roll in and raindrops start to fall, the solar cell then can switch to its graphene-based energy collection system. The critical component in the rain-based system is an aqueous form of graphene. Liquid graphene can conduct electricity due to its delocalized electrons that help to set up a pseudocapacitor that can be used in the generation of electricity.

When rain drops hit the graphene-containing solar cell, the rain is dissociated into positive and negative ions. These positive ions are primarily salt-related ions, such as sodium, calcium, and ammonium, that accumulate on the graphene surface. This positive layer interacts with the negative electrons in the graphene to create a dual-layer system that acts like a pseudocapacitor. The difference in potential between the two layers is significant enough to produce voltage and a current.

Researchers hope to move their research beyond a proof of concept stage and begin to develop the technology into a viable method for generating electricity. These all-weather cells would provide a boost to solar cell technology which currently only works when there is ample sunlight. In climates or seasons that are dominated by clouds and rain, an all-weather solar panel could provide a clean form of energy that is not possible with existing technology.

In countries such as the UK, where sunny days are limited in number though, the all-weather solar cells could still be a viable renewable energy option.

While the rain-powered cells are only a working concept at the moment, rather than a marketable product, the researchers suggest it can inform future designs.
"The new concept can guide the design of advanced all-weather solar cells," said the study.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

KYOCERA Starts Operation of 70MW Solar Power Plant, the Largest in Japan

Clean, safe electricity generated will provide equivalent power for roughly 22,000 average households

Kyocera Corporation (President: Goro Yamaguchi) announced the launch of a 70 megawatt (MW) solar power plant in Kagoshima Prefecture, southern Japan. The Kagoshima Nanatsujima Mega Solar Power Plant went online on November 1 2013 and is being operated by a special purpose company established by Kyocera and six other companies to sell the electricity to a local utility under Japan's feed-in-tariff (FIT) program. An inauguration ceremony was held on November 4, with the attendance of company representatives and local governments to commemorate the launch of the country's largest utility-scale solar power plant.

Expectations and interest in solar energy have heightened to a new level in Japan with the need to resolve power supply issues resulting from the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 2011. To further promote the use of renewable energy, the Japanese government launched a restructured FIT program in July 2012, which stipulates that local utilities are required to purchase 100% of the power generated from solar installations of more than 10 kilowatts (kW) for a period of 20 years.

Exploring a new business model for utility-scale solar power generation, Kagoshima Mega Solar Power Corporation was established by Kyocera and six other companies in July 2012. Under a financing plan devised by Mizuho Corporate Bank, the new company was tasked to develop and operate the 70MW solar power plant on land owned by IHI Corporation -- with the power generated to be purchased by Kyushu Electric Power Co., Inc. based on the FIT program. As the largest shareholder of the new company, the Kyocera Group was responsible for the supply of solar modules as well as part of the construction, and will also undertake maintenance of the system with Kyudenko Corporation.
Additionally, a tour facility has been built adjacent to the 70MW plant -- which is open to the public -- featuring a circular viewing room where visitors can observe the 290,000 solar panels from an elevated vantage point and enjoy the view of the ocean bay and grand Sakurajima volcano in the background. Display zones for visitors such as students and tourists provide information about environmental issues and the science behind photovoltaic energy generation. By dedicating this facility, all parties involved hope to foster a deeper understanding of renewable energy and further facilitate a low-carbon society.

                           The 70MW Kagoshima Nanatsujima Mega Solar Power Plant


Solar Power Plant Overview
Kagoshima Nanatsujima Mega Solar Power Plant
2 Nanatsujima, Kagoshima City, Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan
1,270,000m2 (roughly the same area as 27 baseball stadiums)
Annual output
Approx. 78,800MWh (projected)
Electricity generated will provide the equivalent power for roughly 22,000 average households*2, and will help to offset roughly 25,000 tons of CO2 per year*3.
Construction timeline
Start of construction: September 2012
Completion: October 2013
Total Investment
Approx. 27 billion yen (approx. 275.5 million U.S. dollars*4)

Company Overview
Company name
Kagoshima Mega Solar Power Corporation
Representative director
President and Representative Director: Nobuo Kitamura (also serves as Senior Executive Officer of Kyocera Corporation)
July 10, 2012
Approx. 4.3 billion yen (approx. 44 million U.S. dollars)
Investing companies
Kyocera Corporation; KDDI Corporation; IHI Corporation; Kyudenko Corporation; Kagoshima Bank, Ltd.; Bank of Kyoto, Ltd.; Takenaka Corporation
Business outline
To sell power produced from 70MW solar power plant to local utility company (Kyushu Electric Power Co., Inc.). Power to be purchased for a period of 20 years starting from commencement of power supply.

Role of Participating Companies
Company Operation
Kyocera Corporation
Kyocera Solar Corporation; Kyudenko Corporation; Takenaka Corporation
Operational maintenance
Kyocera Solar Corporation; Kyudenko Corporation
Land leasing
IHI Corporation
Project finance
Mizuho Corporate Bank

Saturday, 23 November 2013


Nepal’s Pioneering ‘Renewable Energy Village’ Switches On Asian Development Bank and its Energy for All Partnership, backed by Government of Nepal and the Alternative Energy Promotion Centre provide renewable energy to remote villages far from Nepal’s national electricity grid.

 Based on a pilot project providing solar cookers, biogas and solar dryers, remote villagers have now access to electricity using small wind and solar PV resources.

Monday, 8 July 2013

World's Largest Solar Powered Hospital Opens in Haiti

Hopital Universitaire de Mirebalais

The world's largest solar powered hospital has just opened its doors in Haiti and boasts over 1800 solar panels on its elegant and otherwise, stark, white rooftop. Haiti's central plateau is riddled with intermittent flows of energy - a fact that derails the possibilities of large-scale healthcare infrastructure. In the specific region of Mirebalais, located 30 miles north of the capital Port-Au-Prince, outages occur for an average of three hours each day. The new Hopital Universitaire de Mirebalais, a venture of "Partners in Health"  will cover an area of 205,000 square feet and its 300 beds will assist in correcting a national healthcare system with scarce or disparate resources.

Most impressively, however, is the employment of design solutions in the building system as a whole, wherein the building is set to generate more energy than the hospital will consume. Even before the complex officially opened, the German-Supplied solar panels reportedly produced 139 megawatt hours of electricity - enough to charge 22 million smartphones and offset 72 tons of coal. The architecture is solving myriad problems and composed such that it provides rather than garners resources. The surplus electricity will be funnelled back into Haiti's national grid, a testament to the ability of the built form to create a sustainable system for survival. 

The spirit of sustainable innovation is evident in every aspect of the design: natural ventilation and lighting; sun angles and roof overhangs; motion sensor lights; healing gardens and courtyards; as well as water-efficient plumbing and highly effective waste water treatment. Although cutting edge, the hospital remains remarkably Haitian – a wall of medallions crafted by local metalworkers frames the main entrance and the hospital is light and airy with open-air courtyards, gardens and waiting areas. Ceiling fans provide airflow and comfort while air conditioning is used only in rooms which require strict temperature control. Natural ventilation, coupled with the placement of ultraviolet lights in open areas, reduces the spread of hospital-acquired tuberculosis and other infectious diseases.

In addition to air movement, the hospital carefully considers the treatment of waste – an important response to the country’s recent cholera epidemic. The site includes its own wastewater treatment plant based on a system that utilizes simple mechanics and aerobic bacteria. Ann Polaneczky, the lead project engineer responsible for designing the plant, explains they had to come up with a simple but effective system: “Our biggest challenge was meeting the high US standard without the typical US treatment approach. At Mirebalais, we will not have an engineer on site… We didn’t have advance construction techniques or a lot of money to spend now or in the future.”

The method clearly works, as water coming from the wastewater plant is significantly cleaner than the tributary it is discharged into, with no fecal bacteria alive after the process. Polanceczky reiterates one of the most striking aspects of the HUM project, stating: “The hospital is proof of what is possible in Haiti and that includes responsible wastewater treatment. We must protect the safety of the environment if we want to truly improve public health.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Renewable Energy at the Kibbutz

What was the news in 2009...

Initially, spurred by government incentives, ample sunshine and investments from energy companies eager to turn a profit, a growing number of south-Israel kibbutzim — those communal-living enterprises that have traditionally emphasized ideals like collective labor, egalitarianism and natural living — were turning to state-of-the-art energy projects.

The aim was: to position their region as the Silicon Valley of renewable energy.

Nudging that effort, Israel’s National Infrastructures Minister, Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, signed the country’s first two solar power licenses.

The first was given to E.D.I.G. Construction Management, Ltd., which has built a thermosolar energy site with a capacity of up to 100 kilowatts at Kibbutz Samar in the Arava Valley. The second licensee, the Arava Power Company, plans to build a photovoltaic facility with a capacity of up to 4.9 megawatts at nearby Kibbutz Ketura.

For its part, Kibbutz Ketura owns a forty percent stake in Arava Power, while the remaining 60 percent of the company is owned by American investors led by former multimedia executive and current president of Arava Power Company, Yosef Abramowitz. Arava Power has also signed a deal with 16 other kibbutzim in the area that is expected to give the company enough land assets to build capacity for another 500 megawatts of solar electricity, at a cost of $2.5 billion — or around $5 dollars a watt.

Mr. Ben-Eliezer also pledged that by 2020 between 10 to 20 percent of Israel’s energy production would come from solar and other renewable sources. As part of the agreement, the Negev and Arava regions of southern Israel were designated as renewable energy zones by the economic cabinet of the Israeli government.

Other area kibbutzim with a committment to green energy include Kibbutz Neot Smadar and Kibbutz Yotvata, which recently built a 50-kilowatt solar panel rooftop installation. Kibbutz Lotan, meanwhile, maintains a bird reserve, a center for creative ecology and a green apprenticeship program.

One Lotan resident, Noam Ilan, who directs renewable energy efforts for the Eilat-Eilot region of the country and last month helped organize an international renewable energy conference in Eilat, is optimistic about the coupling of renewable energy and kibbutzim.

“We see renewable energy as a catalyst for the region’s development and we have all the natural conditions to implement this new energy here,” Mr. Ilan said in a telephone interview from Israel. “The kibbutzim are the main entities. We hope it will be a new income source for them because these communities only live on agriculture and tourism. This is the biggest opportunity for their future growth.”


Workers positioned panels at the construction site for a hybrid solar power station on Kibbutz Samar in southern Israel. 

What is happening in 2013...


Arava Power, partners with Hapoalim on solar field; Bank Hapoalim lends Arava 80% of project's cost; other partner is French energy giant Electricite de France.
Sharon Udasin, April 4, 2013 (Jerusalem Post)

“Arava Power Company has ratified financial agreements to build its 40- megawatt solar field on 60 hectares of Kibbutz Ketura land [just north of the city of Eilat]…Slated to begin construction in a few months, the company will be erecting in the [sandy, dry] field across Road 90 from its 4.95-megawatt Ketura Sun field – the first ever medium-sized field in Israel.

“Arava Power has received NIS 250 million, 80 percent of the project’s overall cost, from Bank Hapoalim…Once completed at approximately the end of 2014, the field is expected to cover the equivalent of one-third of Eilat’s electricity consumption…The project is part of a cooperative engineering and financing framework shared by Arava Power and EDF-EN Israel, part of the renewable energy branch of the French energy giant Electricite de France.”

“Having received conditional approval for tariff rates from the Public Utility Authority, as well as a power purchasing agreement from the Israel Electric Corporation, the project now joins 10 other Arava Power solar projects receiving financing from Bank Hapoalim, with a cumulative capacity of about 60 megawatts…

“Founded at Kibbutz Ketura in 2006 by Yosef Abramowitz, David Rosenblatt and Ed Hofland, Arava Power inaugurated its medium field in the summer of 2011…Bank Hapoalim’s project financing unit…has in recent years been aiming to assist both public and private sectors in switching to renewable energies…”

Monday, 21 January 2013

Japan is about to start building world's biggest offshore wind farm this summer

The world's largest offshore windmill farm, Middelgrunden Windmill Farm, located in the Oeresund, three km from Copenhagen harbour. (AFP Photo / Soeren Bidstrup)
Japan is about to start building its ambitious wind farm project off the Fukushima coast in July. The farm is expected to become the world’s largest and produce 1GW of power once completed in 2020.

The power-generating facility will be built 16 kilometers off the coast of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which was critically damaged by an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. 
The 143 wind turbines, which are to be 200 meters in height, will be built on buoyant steel frames stabilized with ballast and anchored to the continental shelf. 

Once completed in 2020, the project will generate 1 gigawatt of renewable electrical power.  
The project is part of Japan’s national plan to increase renewable energy resources following the nuclear disaster at Fukushima. After the quake, Japan shut down its 54 nuclear reactors, but due to energy shortages it has had to restart two reactors. 

“This project is important. I think it is impossible to use nuclear power in Fukushima again,” project manager Takeshi Ishihara of the University of Tokyo told New Scientist weekly magazine.

Ishihara believes the area's seismic activity won't be a problem for the turbines. His team has carried out lots of computer simulations and water tank tests in order to verify the safety of the turbines in all possible extreme events, such as earthquakes, tsunamis and typhoons. 
"All extreme conditions have been taken into consideration in the design," he added.
There were some objections to the project by local people, who expressed concerns, in particular, over possible impact on the fishing industry, which was also hit by the nuclear disaster. But Ishihara is sure it’s possible to turn the farm into a ‘marine pasture’ that would attract fish.

Facility specifications of forward project. (Image from Fukushima Floating Offshore Wind  Farm Demonstration Project, Takeshi Ishihara The University of Tokyo)

Facility specifications of forward project. (Image from Fukushima Floating Offshore Wind Farm Demonstration Project, Takeshi Ishihara The University of Tokyo)

The project is also part of the prefecture’s plan to become completely energy self-sufficient by 2040, using only renewable sources.   
The Fukushima wind farm will produce double the amount of energy of the Greater Gabbard array, currently the world’s biggest, off the coast of Suffolk in the United Kingdom, which generates 504 megawatts from its 140 turbines. Although the title of biggest will soon pass to the London Array in the Thames Estuary, where 175 turbines will produce 630 megawatts of power when it becomes operational later this year.
Scientists and researchers believe Japan’s wind capacity could reach 7.6 gigawatts over the next three years.

Development phases and key success factors. (Image from Fukushima Floating Offshore Wind  Farm Demonstration Project, Takeshi Ishihara The University of Tokyo)

Development phases and key success factors. (Image from Fukushima Floating Offshore Wind Farm Demonstration Project, Takeshi Ishihara The University of Tokyo)

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Tahara Solar/Wind Project in Tahara City, Japan Is Set To Start Construction

The Tahara Solar/Wind Project in Tahara City, Japan is set to start construction and will be Japans largest solar and wind power generation facilities. The project formally named Tahara Solar/Wind Electricity Generation Cooperative Operation will provide 50MW Solar Power output (conditioner module output 35MW) and 6MW of Wind Power.
The project is a joint venture comprising Mitsui Chemicals, Inc. 35%, Mitsui & Co., Ltd. 15%, C-Tech Corporation 10%, Toagosei Co., Ltd. 10%, Toshiba Corporation 10%, Toray Industries, Inc. 10%, Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding Co., Ltd.10%. The management of the project has been outsourced to Trans Value Trust Company, Limited.
The decision to start the construction phase by the Joint Venture follows the successful conclusion of feasibility and commercialization studies for the project.
The project capital investment is approximately 18 billion yen, with construction to begin in November 2012 and commercial operations to start in October 2014. The project has a planned business span 20 years from commercial operation startup.
The project is significant in bringing together seven companies with technology and knowledge of solar and wind electric power generation products and business operations.
In line with the government's promotion of renewable energy, numerous "mega solar" and wind power electric generation projects are expected which will require reinforcement of infrastructure for generation and connective systems, and in addition technology development.
Participating companies will share knowhow and issues during the long term management of the operation. Moreover, participating companies will maintain a cooperative technological relationship with utility Chubu Electric Power Co., and will acquire new technology and knowledge unique to the nation's largest solar energy generation facility.
The construction site is a choice location due to its top level daylight hours and wind velocity which are expected to yield high generation.
The total solar and wind electricity the project will generate annually is approximately 67,500MWh/year and the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions is approximately 32,000 tons CO2/year.