Mecca, the birthplace of Muhammad, and Islam’s holiest city, has plans to become the first city in Saudi Arabia to run completely on solar power. The Saudi Arabian government has said that it will invest $109 billion to establish a strong solar industry across the nation. The King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy program is the jewel in this crown, and aims to develop 41 gigawatts of solar capacity over the next 20 years. 25 gigawatts will be installed in the form of solar thermal plants, and the remaining 16 gigawatts will be supplied by photovoltaic panels.
Report from the European Photovoltaic Industry Association predicts the PV market untilo 2016. Main findings:
• Under the right policy conditions PV can continue its progress towards competitiveness in key electricity markets and become a mainstream energy source.
• 29.7 GW of PV systems were connected to the grid in 2011, up from 16.8 GW in 2010; PV is now, after hydro and wind power, the third most important renewable energy source in terms of globally installed capacity
• 21.9 GW were connected in Europe in 2011, compared to 13.4 GW in 2010; Europe still accounts for the predominant share of the global PV market, with 75% of all new capacity in 2011
• Italy was the top market for the year, with 9.3 GW connected, followed by Germany with 7.5 GW; Italy and Germany accounted for nearly 60% of global market growth during the past year
• China was the top non-European PV market in 2011, with 2.2 GW installed, followed by USA with 1.9 GW
• The number of markets achieving more than 1 GW of additional PV capacity during 2011 rose from three to six: Italy, Germany, France, China, Japan, USA
22% efficiency using amorphous and monocristalline silicon together, using the commonest – and therefore cheapest – crystalline cell (called “p-doped silicon”). Magic word: heterojunction. Achieved by a team from the EPFL in Neuchatel/Switserland. Secret behind this heterojunction: application of an infinitesimal layer – one hundredth of a micron – of amorphous silicon on both sides of a crystalline silicon wafer. In the medium term an investment of 2500$ should be enough to provide a household of 4 with sufficient electricity. Efficiencies attained thus far were 18-19% at best using the best quality monocrystalline cells. Production costs for a square meter are expected to decrease to 100$. Under Swiss circumstances such a panel could generate 200-300 kWh per year.
20-year-old installation of Kyocera 945-watt solar modules in France still performs with a high power output level. The evaluators found that, after 20 years, the panels’ power production declined by only 8.3%. Usually an economic lifespan of 20 years is attributed to solar panels. Due to the gradual nature of deterioration however, this means that the panels could last many more years before becoming useless.
Youtube text: Robert Llewellyn visits Masdar City, a city fully sustainable on green energy. Masdar City is a project in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates. Its core is a planned city, which is being built by the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, a subsidiary of Mubadala Development Company, with the majority of seed capital provided by the government of Abu Dhabi. Designed by the British architectural firm Foster and Partners, the city will rely entirely on solar energy and other renewable energy sources, with a sustainable, zero-carbon, zero-waste ecology.
There can be little doubt that there are no real physical of economic limitations that could prevent several European countries from getting independent from fossil fuel as far as electricity generation is concerned, as early as 2020. Denmark for example produced 40.7% of its electricity from renewable sources in 2011.
Europe has now surpassed a total installed wind energy capacity of more than 100 GW, enough for 57 million households. The first 10 GW needed 20 years, the next 90 GW merely 13 years. 50% was installed during the last six years. 72 million tons of coal are saved per year, that’s a train of 750,000 wagons, with a combined length from Brussels/Belgium to Buenos Aires/Argentina. Most is installed on land, but once financing and grid problems are solved doubling of the current capacity could happen fast. Currently onshore installed capacity costs 1.2-1.4 million euro per megawatt, offshore however 3-4 million euro per megawatt.
The Financial Times yesterday published an article “Euro crisis fuels Spanish separatism” and is discussed in the economicpolicyjournal, nationalreview and many other places. As a general rule, political entities are likely to face major upheavels and/or disintegration or other restructuring, once the ruling center has screwed up. Think of the Czar in Russia after the lost war against Germany in 1917, likewise the Ottoman empire, the abdication of the German emperor, the disintegration of Yugoslavia after the communist ideology evaporated, the breakaway of several Arab countries, like Egypt, from Pax Americana (Arab Spring), etc., etc.
Text from Youtube: Richard Heinberg, author of “The End of Growth” speaks with Vivien Langford from Beyond Zero Radio at his hotel in Sydney, Australia. Richard is currently visiting Australia on a speaking tour sponsored by Sustainable Population Australia and is also appearing at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas. Check out BZE for the full interview coming soon. Continuous growth of either population or GDP is impossible in a finite world. Both these drivers of unsustainability have now run up against Nature’s biophysical limits. Nature is now forcing humanity to a transition, one that is as profound as the transition from gatherer/hunter to settled agriculturalist 10,000 years ago.
Youtube text: “In this edition of the show Max interviews Mike Ruppert from collapsenet.com. He talks about the decline of the American empire at the end of the age of oil. Mike Ruppert is an American author, a former Los Angeles Police Department officer, and investigative journalist and peak oil advocate.”
An offshore turbine is finally spinning in the United States. This marks the first time that any offshore power generation facility has fed electricity back to a utility grid in the United States. Location: Cobscook Bay, part of the bigger Bay of Fundy, off the Maine coast. The TidGen has a peak power output of 180 kilowatts. The company plans on installing another two turbines in the same location in the fall of 2013. End target, possibly 5 MW. The TidGen device, installed in water depths of 15 to 30 meters, takes advantage of water flowing in and out of the bay as the tides change. The Bay of Fundy as a whole is an enormous tidal power resource; ORPC says that 100 billion tons of water flow in and out of the bay every day, with tidal ranges as high as 15 meters. Combined, wave and tidal power have fairly massive potential, up to as much as 15 percent of the U.S. electricity demand according to reports from the Department of Energy.