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Renewable Energy Supplies Quarter Of Electricity In UK

There has been some positive, record-breaking news in respect of the renewable energy industry in the last few days. Apparently, for the first time, the likes of solar power, hydro, offshore and onshore wind and bioenergy provided 25.3% of the electricity in the UK during the second quarter of 2015.

Solar power along with some other sources of renewable energy made a very good contribution to the production of electricity in the UK in Q2 2015

Quarter 2 of 2015 saw solar power making an excellent contribution towards electricity generation in the UK

There is also some more good news in so much as, for the first time, more electricity was provided using renewable energy sources than coal. We are sure that you will agree that this is welcome news.

Interestingly, in the second quarter of 2014, renewable energy only accounted for 16.4% of the electricity being used in the UK. Therefore, in the space of 12 months we have seen a huge increase in the use of renewable energy.

There was a rise of 114.8% in the generation of renewable energy by using solar power when comparing Q2 in 2015 with the same quarter in 2014. Electricity generated by offshore wind rose by 61.5% in the same periods, onshore wind by 70.4%, hydro by 27.7% and bio-energy that included co-firing increased by 26.2%.

It is still gas fired power stations that are producing the highest percentage of electricity at a figure of 30.2%. Nuclear power produces 21.5% and coal produced 20.5%. That leaves renewable energy in second place on 25.3%.

So, as you can see, the UK is benefitting significantly by using renewable energy sources to produce electricity. The increase in this type of energy being used to generate electricity was put down to more people having such energy sources installed and more favourable weather conditions i.e. sun, rain and wind.

Let us hope that we continue to see more installations of the likes of solar panels on both the roofs of houses and commercial premises. Furthermore, it would be good to see more solar farms being built. Collectively, these should go some way towards helping the UK meet its renewable energy targets by 2020.

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Domestic Solar Market In USA Breaks Record

The solar panel industry in the USA certainly seems to be progressing in an extremely positive way according to research by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and GTM Research based upon information contained in the US Solar Market Insight Report.

The USA witnessed a record 2nd quarter increase in residential solar capacity

The second quarter of 2015 saw a record quarterly increase in solar capacity in the domestic market in the USA

In the second quarter of 2015, the domestic market installed 473 megawatts of additional solar capacity of a total of 1,393 megawatts. This was a record for the residential solar sector. It is also the 7th consecutive quarter that in excess of 1GW of solar capacity has been added in the USA.

Interestingly, the commercial solar sector saw installations drop by 33% in comparison to Q2 in 2014. However, it is felt that in the remaining 6 months of this year things look more promising for the non-residential sector. Utility scale solar accounted for 729 megawatts of new capacity in Q2 of this year so was a significant provider of new solar capacity.

It is pleasing to see that the USA has broken through the 20 GW of solar capacity with a total of 22.7 GW of installed capacity to the end of Q2 2015. It is being forecast that the country is on line to achieve 7.7 GW of capacity for 2015 having achieved 2.7 GW of solar capacity in the first 6 months of this year. It is believed that significant growth is going to take place in particular in the domestic market during the remainder of 2015.

It is going to be interesting to see how the UK perform in the coming months as far as solar panel installations is concerned both in the domestic and non-domestic market. It is important that interest is maintained in the solar power industry as it is a huge help in the UK and the rest of the world for that matter achieving their renewable energy and carbon emissions targets going forward.

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Are Solar Panel Subsidies To Reduce?

The UK, along with the rest of the world, has renewable energy targets to meet by 2020. One of the benefits is that we should continue to see carbon emissions reduce to help make the world a more eco-friendly environment to live in.

the government are to review the level of subsidies they provide on people having solar panels installed

Is it possible that the government will significantly reduce subsidies on solar panels being installed in January 2016?

Apparently, however, the Department of Energy and Climate Change is spending more than they would like in helping the country meet these targets resulting in it being announced that a review of subsidies is to be undertaken that could see subsidies reduce by not far off 90% from January 2016. If these subsidies were reduced by such a large percentage this could have a significant impact on people deciding to have solar panels installed on their roofs and that would not be good news for the industry nor, one would have thought, for the environment.

We have already seen a lowering of support for large solar farms being built in the UK yet you would have thought that some solar panel farms could be located in places that are not too visible to members of the public by being hidden by trees and various other planting.

Although many people in the UK are keen supporters of reducing carbon emissions, let’s not forget that most people want to be able to achieve this without any significant impact on their savings/monthly expenditure. Although many people have a capital outlay when having solar photovoltaic panels installed on the roofs of their homes and commercial premises they do so in the knowledge that, within a reasonable timescale, they should recoup that outlay and start to see some “payback” by a reduction in their electricity bills.

Therefore, surely it is important that any review of solar power incentives takes this into account so that homeowners are still prepared to consider having solar panels placed on their roofs or ground mounted panels in their back gardens. We will keep you updated on any developments in respect of the above.

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China Building Largest Solar Power Plant In The World

China is constructing the biggest solar power plant in the world in the Gobi Desert that is the largest desert in Asia covering part of Mongolia and China. The plant will cover an area of 10 square miles that, we are sure you will agree, is a huge project.

China is building the largest solar power plant in the world in the Gobi Desert

The largest solar power station in the world is being constructed in the Gobi Desert

It is estimated that the solar power plant will be capable of generating around 200 megawatts of solar power. This amount of energy could be capable of providing power to as many as one million homes. Obviously, China has a huge population but this plant will be of tremendous benefit to a significant number of people.

A plant of this size will no doubt make a huge contribution in reducing the volume of carbon emissions in China that the population of that country will no doubt wholeheartedly welcome as certain areas are renowned for their extremely high levels of smog. It is also expected to make a significant reduction in the use of coal to help generate electricity. China would like to be in a position by 2030 of being capable of reducing such emissions by as much as 20%. This plant will no doubt be a big help in this target hopefully being met.

The building of the plant will no doubt provide work for some of those people experienced in the construction industry. It may also mean that more jobs are required in the solar power manufacturing sector.

Let us hope that we continue to see large solar power construction schemes being taken forward in other countries around the world as it will no doubt require the collective support of us all to do everything that can be done to achieve global renewable energy targets in the coming years. For instance, solar farms can play a big part in providing renewable energy as well as solar panels being fitted to the roofs of residential properties and commercial buildings.

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Hillary Clinton Has Big Plans For Solar Power

If you follow American politics you will be aware that Hillary Clinton, wife of ex-president Bill Clinton, is running to be the Democratic Party’s choice to try to become President of the USA in 2016. Apparently, she is particularly keen to significantly increase solar panel capacity in the USA should she be successful in moving into the White House.

If Hillary Clinton becomes President of the USA she wishes an additional half a billion solar panels to be fitted to homes in the USA within 4 years.

Hillary Clinton intends to have an extra 500 million solar panels installed within 4 years should be elected President of the USA.

It would be her intention to have in excess of 500 million solar panels installed across the country within a period of four years from being elected. That is an awful lot of solar panels to have fitted in such a short period of time and will presumably create extra jobs in the industry in the country.

Those extra solar panels equate to an increase of around 700% in the number of solar panels presently installed. It is forecast that that sort of increase could, in due course, see renewable energy sources generate a minimum of 33% of the USA’s electricity that, we are sure you will agree, is a considerable amount. Mrs Clinton also wishes to see renewable energy providing power to all homes in the USA by the end of her second term.

It will be interesting to see, if she does become President, if she is able to achieve these goals. Support will no doubt be required from government by way of incentivisation. If those targets are met then it will no doubt go a long way towards helping the world reduce its carbon emissions and that has to be a positive factor.

What happens in America can sometimes impact on decisions made in the UK so it will be interesting to observe if our government responds in a positive way from the solar power industry’s point of view should she become President and put measures in place to install as many solar panels as she intends to do in the coming years.

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The UK’s First Carbon Positive Home

A new three bedroomed detached house in Bridgend in Wales has been designed and constructed in such a way that it has become the first carbon positive home to be built in the UK. It incorporates a variety of eco-friendly features and benefits such as solar panels, LED lighting and a heat pump.

solar panels have been built into the structure of the roof in a carbon positive home in Bridgend

A new carbon positive home is using solar panels incorporated into the construction of the roof.

The solar panels have been incorporated into the south-facing roof. There is a battery to provide power to the home when not directly using energy provided by the sun through the solar panels such as in an evening.

There are many features to help improve the energy efficiency of the property and also reduce carbon emissions such as insulated render and panels. Low carbon cement has been used in its construction. It has an air heating system that uses the rays of the sun.

It is claimed that more electricity can be sent to the National Grid than the house will use. Presumably, this will provide an additional welcome source of income. It is interesting to note that the cost of building this home is in line with the cost of the construction of social housing.

The battery and solar power is capable of powering the combined hot water, air ventilation and heating system as well as the electric power system that looks after the heat pump, lighting in the home and the appliances the occupants will use.

We are sure that you will agree this is an interesting move forward in the construction of properties here in the UK. If more homes are built in this way it will no doubt lead to the UK getting that much closer to achieving its renewable energy and carbon emission targets by 2020. Of course, it will also be good for the solar panel industry here in this country if a significant number of properties similar to this are constructed.

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Warmer Weather Impacts On Solar Energy Output

Hopefully, most of you will have been enjoying the extremely warm, sunny weather that the UK has had in the last few days. For those of you that have solar panels installed on the rooftops of your homes or business premises, you will probably have also benefitted by an increase in solar powered energy output

As much as 16% of electricity being utilised in the UK on 3 July 2015 was by solar power as the weather was so good

On 3rd July 2015, up to 16% of electricity being used in the UK was generated by solar power

In fact, it has been estimated that on Friday 3rd July 2015, solar power was generating anything up to 16% of the electricity being used in the UK. We are sure that you will agree that this is a commendable performance and, as more and more solar panel installations take place, this figure will hopefully increase.

As at May 2015, there had been 694,961 Feed-in Tariff solar panel installations here in the UK. This was an increase of 25% in the number of installations when compared with May 2014. That just goes to show the increased number of properties that have had solar panels fitted in the 12 months up to May this year.

The National Trust has announced that it is increasing the amount it has spent on renewable energy schemes as it is making a £30 million investment in renewable energy projects to provide power and heat for some more of its properties that it owns and maintains. This is with a view to having renewables provide half of its energy by 2020 plus it wishes to reduce the use of fossil fuels and lower the use of energy by a fifth. It is estimated that as much as £4 million per annum could be saved in energy bills.

Let us hope that the trend of greater use being made of renewable energy including solar panels in the UK continues as it is important that we make as much use of possible of the sun. As always, we welcome your comments.

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Biggest Water-Based Solar Panel Plant in World

We have previously made reference to solar panels being floated on the surface of water in various parts of the world. Well, a few weeks ago, Japan completed the construction of what is currently reported to be the largest solar panel plant built to float on water in the world.

Could we find that a number of reservoirs are used in the UK to house solar panel plants?

Could some reservoirs be used in the UK to house solar power plants?

Kyocera TCL Solar has built the 2.3 MW plant in Hyogo Prefecture in Western Japan that is capable of producing around 2,680 MWh of electricity each year. To put this into context, making certain assumptions, that is estimated to be enough electricity to provide power for about 820 average sized homes.

To build the solar power station, it has needed 9,072 solar panels. The station covers an area of about 25,000 square meters on the surface of a reservoir so is a considerable size. The solar panels have been placed on a float that has used polyethylene in its construction. Apparently, solar panels that are floated on water are capable of producing a greater amount of electricity than those that are mounted on the ground as the water cools the panels down.

The electricity that is generated by these floating solar panels is to be sold to the Kansai Electric Power Co in Osaka.

Here in the UK, we have a huge expanse of water that could potentially be used more frequently to house solar panels. Just think of the number of reservoirs that we have in this country. Could some of the surface area be set aside to accommodate solar panels? Obviously, the cost of such schemes would need to be compared with the likes of ground-mounted or rooftop based ones that are undoubtedly the most popular ones that we currently see.

We will continue to keep you updated about any more interesting solar panel projects that we hear about but do feel free to tell us about any.

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Solar Independence Plan for Britain Produced by STA

The Solar Trade Association (STA) has just published its Solar Independence Plan for Britain that you may wish to read if you have any interest in the solar power industry. So, whether you are involved in the likes of manufacturing and/or selling solar panels or are a customer considering investing in solar panels for your home or business, you may find the plan interesting.

The Uk needs to increase the number of solar panels being installed to help it acieve/exceed its renewable energy targets

If the The Solar Independence Plan for Britain was followed it may result in more solar panels being installed in the UK

Some of you may not be aware but the UK presently generates in the region of 1.5% of its electricity by the use of solar power. The Solar Trade Association believes that if the Government were to support its Solar Independence Plan significant inroads could be made in the amount of electricity being generated by the utilization of solar power.

For instance, it suggests that the Government increase its solar generated electricity capacity target to 25GW by 2020. In doing so, the UK could be producing 6.9% of its electricity by solar power by 2020. There would be around 2.1 million homes using solar power as well as 24,000 commercial premises with solar panels on their roofs. There would be not far off 57,00 people working in the industry. The roof top installation subsidy could be stopped. Solar power would be competitive with electricity that is produced by fossil fuels. The additional cost to households would be £1.11 per month.

The plan requests that the Government does the following this year: -

1. Feed-in Tariffs should be altered to focus on achieving zero subsidy by 2020 and push forward growth.
2. Contracts for Difference should be adapted so that SMEs and solar benefit.
3. The Renewable Obligation in respect of sub-5MW systems should be safeguarded up to 2017.
4. Solar should receive a fairer share of the budget in respect of the Levy Control Framework.
5. Constraints relating to the grid should be dealt with strategically and decisively.
6. Incentives should be introduced in respect of solar being installed into new built homes and offices.

It will be interesting to see what response the above plan produces from all interested parties.

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Are Solar Panels Going To Be Used In Car Parks?

Solar panel car ports have already been installed in a number of public car parks in the likes of the USA and it sounds like we may start to see some being erected in the UK at some point in the coming years. Hive Energy that is a solar development company would like to be able to introduce these panels on a large scale here in the UK.

Over the next few years will we see public car parking spaces have solar panel car ports installed?

Are some public car parks going to have solar panel car ports installed in the coming years?

Apparently, it is estimated by the RAC Foundation that this country has in the region of 4 million car parking spaces with many of them capable of having car ports fitted with solar panels on top of them. If a large % of them were fitted with solar panels, it is forecast that they would produce enough energy to power just under 1.7 million homes. They will also no doubt make a significant impact in reducing carbon emissions.

Many of these car parking spaces are in the likes of hospital grounds and shopping centres and the solar photovoltaic panels could be used to provide power for those commercial premises. Hive Energy have predicted that solar car park shelters will be frequently seen within the next 5 years.

Such car ports would also provide some shelter for vehicles that park under them which would make parking a much more pleasant experience for people that are visiting the likes of hospitals and supermarkets and local town centres. No doubt they would be lit up much like under cover car parks are at the moment that we see in cities and towns.

It will be interesting to see how the above progresses in the future especially when you consider that the focus seems to be moving away from having ground mounted solar panels installed in the countryside.

As ever, we would welcome the thoughts of our readers about the above.

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