India Almost Doubled Its Solar Power In 2013 With Big Plans For More
By Ari Phillips on January 21, 2014
India added just over 1 gigawatt of solar energy to its electrical grid last year, a major milestone that nearly doubles the country’s cumulative solar energy capacity to 2.18 gigawatts. After a slow start to the year, solar installation picked up rapidly – a good sign that India will be able to meet its ambitious solar targets going forward. India hopes to install 10 GW of solar by 2017 and 20 GW by 2022.
The Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission, launched in 2010 by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, aims to help the country achieve success with solar energy deployment. India is currently in the planning stages of building the world’s largest solar plant, which would generate 4 gigawatts in the northwestern state of Rajasthan.
“This is the first project of this scale anywhere in the world and is expected to set a trend for large-scale solar power developments,” Ashvini Kumar, director of Solar Energy Corp, one of five public utilities that will run the plant, told Business Insider.
In the last decade India’s renewable energy capacity has gone from just under 4 GW to over 27 GW as of this month. Wind energy makes up about two-thirds of this total, with small hydropower contributing nearly 4 GW and biomass over 1 GW.
Last weekend India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) signed a Memorandum of Understanding to cooperate to promote renewable energy, especially solar.
“The MoU has come at a time when India is struggling to implement ambitious plans to reach out to the population without access to modern forms of energy across the country,” said Jarnail Singh, India Program Manager at the Climate Group.
40 percent of rural Indian households don’t have power. India is also anxious to develop domestic energy sources to supply growing demand so it doesn’t have to import fossil fuels that contribute to trade deficits. Over half of India’s electric power capacity comes from coal, with coal imports hitting a record high last fiscal year. This is bad both environmentally and economically for India.
In a further indication that renewable energy has a large role to play in India’s future, last year the largest coal company in the world, Coal India, starting pursuing commercial solar power plants to cut costs. The company explained its logic, in part, by saying “India has an abundance of sunshine and the trend of depletion of fossil fuels is compelling energy planners to examine the feasibility of using renewable sources of energy like solar, wind, and so on.”
There’s more than one way to invest in solar power
CNBC, Monday, 20 Jan 2014, By: Javier E. David
Solar companies, already benefiting from booming share prices, are turning to increasingly innovative ways to raise capital, including bond issues, bank loans and even crowd-funding.
SolarCity-Wall Street’s newest renewable energy darling-last week announced that it will offer debt investments backed by pools of solar assets this year. Last year, SolarCity, which is backed by Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk, issued about $54.4 million in the first-ever solar bonds. They secured an investment-grade rating from Standard and Poor’s.
Observers say SolarCity’s fortunes are the latest signs of a maturation process that could hasten the day when renewable energy is less dependent on government subsidies. It also comes as demand for solar power is expected to see what research firm NPD calls “explosive growth,” with demand expected to surge more than 36 percent in 2014.
“As we’re seeing costs and price point for solar systems fall, we’re seeing concomitant increase in deal structures and investment vehicles available to individual investors and utilities,” said Nadav Enbar, senior project manager in power delivery utilization at the Electric Power Research Institute. “As a result of this maturity, investors consider renewable energy/solar as a potential area with less risk for their dollars.”
Still, the move toward tapping capital markets means green projects could make the sector less vulnerable to the backlash that often ensues from using public funds. Private investors are starting to warm to the idea: US Bank has a alternative energy arm that has doled out more than $1.7 billion to a spate of renewable projects in the U.S.
A steep drop in solar prices and costs-data from the Solar Energy Industries Association says sun-power is now 60 percent cheaper than it was just a few short years ago-is fueling strong demand.
Because solar power can be generated at the local level, and because its infrastructure can be built easily without the politically-tinged problems that accompany crude, it makes for a comparatively attractive investment.
Hot Nanotubes Helping Solar Panels Capture More Sunlight
Bloomberg News, By Christopher Martin January 19, 2014
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are seeking to increase the efficiency of solar cells by helping them take advantage of more of the sun’s rays.
MIT scientists are testing solar cells with a layer of carbon nanotubes that “make it possible to take advantage of wavelengths of light that ordinarily go to waste,” according to a statement yesterday from the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based university.
Standard polysilicon photovoltaic cells don’t “respond” to the entire spectrum of sunlight, limiting the amount of photons they’re able to convert into electricity. Scientists have said standard polysilicon has a theoretical maximum efficiency of 33.7 percent. The nanotube technology may be used to surpass that limit, according to Evelyn Wang, an MIT associate professor of mechanical engineering.
Cell efficiency, the amount of energy in sunlight that’s converted into electricity, “could ideally be over 80 percent,” she said in the statement.
MIT scientists combined carbon nanotubes, hollow cylinders with walls that are one-atom thick, with photonic crystals to create an “absorber-emitter.” When the nanotubes absorb concentrated sunlight, their temperature rises, heating the device to as much as 962 degrees Celsius (1,763 degrees Fahrenheit).
Just as a red-hot iron glows in a fire, the heated crystals emit light that the photovoltaic cell is able to turn into electricity, according to the statement.
The most efficient standard cells in production today convert about 22 percent of sunlight energy into electricity.