Observing the renewable energy transition from a European perspective

Archive for the category “solar”

Perovskite Solar Cells Could be the Future of Energy

Daily Yield Dutch Solar Panels

Note that at Northern-European latitudes, lots of seasonal storage capacity is required. Minimum yield is almost zero in January, maximum in June-July.

[] – Martien Visser

Singapore Floating Solar

45 soccer fields worth of solar panels, floating on water in Singapore.

[] – Singapore now home to one of the world’s largest floating solar farms

50 GW Green Hydrogen Plan for West-Australia by 2030

The two companies CWP Global and InterContinental Energy were not deterred by the recent rejection by the Australian government of their 26 GW green hydrogen scheme and came back with a new, even bigger 50 GW proposal. The difference seems to be that this time, aboriginal organizations seem to be on board.

Some data: an area of 15,000 km2 would be implicated, total cost B100$, annual production target 3.5 m tonnes hydrogen, to be converted into 20 m tonnes NH3. Current national Australian power production from mostly conventional sources: 54 GW. Start date first production: 2030. The green fuel is intended to be used in electricity production, shipping, aviation and heavy industry like steel production.

[] – InterContinental Energy announces 50 GW WA green hydrogen hub
[] – Plan to build world’s biggest renewable energy hub in W-Australia
[] – ‘Historic’ 50 GW green hydrogen hub proposed for WA
[] – Asian Renewable Energy Hub

The Australian project would out-bid a German plan for Kazakhstan:

[] – Green hydrogen plan to tap 45GW wind/solar Kazakhstan

As a sobering reminder, this news comes quickly after a recent rejection by the federal government of a smaller scheme:

[] – ‘Rapid’ rejection of $50 billion renewable energy hub

Exploring Solar Panel Efficiency Breakthroughs in 2020

45 GW Wind/Solar/Hydrogen for Kazakhstan?

Artist impression from the developers site

It sounds a little too Wild West, or Wild East rather, but the company Svevind AB (Swedish? German?) has announced it has signed a memorandum of understanding with a Kazakh investment firm about developing a 45 GW wind and solar farm, combined with 30 GW hydrogen capacity in Western and Central Kazakhstan. Cost and commissioning date are vague:

The overall development, engineering, procurement and financing phases are expected to take about three to five years. Construction and commissioning phases are predicted to take approx. five years.

About Svevind:

Svevind is a privately owned group of companies in the renewable energy industry, based in Weißenbrunn (Germany), Piteå (Northern Sweden), Dresden (Germany) and Almaty (Kazakhstan). The Svevind group plans, develops, designs, sells, and operates onshore wind power and solar PV as well as green hydrogen projects. The projects vary in size and scope from single turbines to farms of 1,101* turbines and up to Gigawatt-scale green hydrogen projects. Svevind’s largest project to date is located in Markbygden in the municipality of Piteå. It is expected to become one of the largest wind farms in Europe, and perhaps the world. Total production is expected to be up to 12 TWh.


The story could win in plausibility if it could be shown that the project has Chinese financial backing. So far, Svevind has realized 1 GW wind power and 1.5 GW under construction.

Grain of salt.

[] – SVEVIND and Kazakh Invest National Company JSC sign a memorandum of understanding
[] – Duitse steppestroom uit Kazachstan
[] – Svevind plans 45GW wind- and solar-to-green hydrogen
[] – Svevind AB

[source] Kazakhstan has excellent wind resources

German Roofs Solar Potential 3 Times National Consumption

…says the German Fraunhofer Institute, whom we trust blindly in these matters.
Total potential yield German roofs: 1,710 TWh/year

[] – Jedem Dach eine Solaranlage: Wäre Deutschland unabhängig?

Read more…

Bifacial Solar Panels

One support structure, two active layers. The front side gets the full solar wax, the behind side indirect solar radiation, like from white flat roof or yellow desert sand. This bonus yield can amount up to 30% extra. In a time, where the cost of the support structure begins to approach that of the active solar layer, this design makes sense.

[] – Bifacial solar cells
[] – What are bifacial solar modules?
[] – Bifacial modules: The challenges and advantages

How China Won Solar (& Why Germany Lost)

The Case for Agrivoltaics

Yes, plants need light, just like you need food. But just like that there is a limit to the amount of food that is beneficial to you, there is also a limit to the amount of light that a plant needs to flourish. Plant growth is proportional to CO2 absorption. The key measure here is photosynthetically active radiation (PAR). According to the video, there is a cut-off point above 1000 PAR, which means that the plants can do without a portion of the daily supply of sun rays and wouldn’t mind a sunscreen, just like you may have in your garden if it all gets too much in the summer:

During sunny days in Southern Europe, the solar influx could reach PAR-values of 1600-2000. In other words, 60-100% could be shaved off the peak value, without impact on agricultural yield. And those are also the hours when solar yield is maximal.

That’s where agrovoltaics come in, where solar panels can be used as sunscreens, providing a nice extra source of income for the farmer involved, without significant impact on his agricultural yield.

[] – Photosynthetically active radiation
[] – Agrivoltaics: opportunities for agriculture and the energy transition
[deepresource] – Airborn Solar Panels

Ørsted Now in Solar and Storage Too

Permian Energy Center in Andrews County, Texas.

The company’s first utility-scale solar plus battery storage project of 460MWAC reaches commercial operation, making Ørsted the first developer to operate the full spectrum of new renewable technologies at utility scale in the US.

420 MW PV and 40 MW battery storage. 1.3 million solar panels, sufficient to provide 80,000 households with electricity. Installed next to oil fields (to intimidate?). Legacy project from US developer Lincoln Clean Energy, which Ørsted bought in 2018.

[] – Ørsted completes Permian Energy Center
[] – Another giant makes its home in Texas
[Google Maps] – Andrews County, Texas

How the site looked like in 2019.

Germany Renewable Energy Tender Timeline 2021-2030

Here are the plans of the German government for this decade, regarding renewable energy installation:

Source 2020 (GW) 2030 (GW)
Onshore wind 54.4 71.0
Offshore wind 7.8 20.0
Solar 53.1 100.0
Biomass 8.2 8.4

[] – Germany aims to tender 4 GW of additional PV in 2022
[] – What’s new in Germany’s Renewable Energy Act 2021

German electricity consumption 2019: 512 TWh. Germany would be at 80% renewable electricity share by 2030, if plans are realized.

VirtuPVT Hybrid Solar

Basically a form of PVT:

Regarding PV Cell Efficiency at High Temperatures, Nicholas Simmons from Naked Energy has this to say: “PV cells regularly get to very high temperatures. If you return to your car on a hot summers day you know how hot it can be. A conventional PV module traps the cells behind glass and lets them bake in the sun. When a solar panel is made the temperatures used in the lamination process go up to something like 150C. As mentioned the efficiency of a solar cell drops off as temperature rises – this is known as the temperature coefficient and is published on the data sheets that go with PV modules. A conventional solar module has no way of losing heat other than through convection, but at the height of summer with no breeze and high ambient temperatures there is very little cooling going on. There is a lot of academic research out there discussing this. The virtuPVT heat exchanger as described in the video is constantly taking heat away to be used for other heating / hot water / process heat. Consequently a virtuPVT collector can actually be cooler than a normal PV module under the same circumstances.

[] – Company site
[] – Photovoltaic thermal hybrid solar collector

World Record Low Solar Energy Cost $0.0104/kWh

[source] The 300 MW Sakaka PV IPP project

The Kingdom of Saudi-Arabia has announced the intended construction of a 600 MW Al Shuaiba PV IP project, at a world record low cost of $0.0104/kWh.

As we have noted before, the cost of desert solar electricity is no longer relevant. Relevant is the cost of a “prepackaged kWh” on world markets. Storage, not generation, is the real cost. Think the cost of electrolyzers, conversion of hydrogen into a more convenient chemical form, transport, storage.

[] – Saudi Arabia’s second PV tender draws world record low bid of $0.0104/kWh

Record Solar Day in the Netherlands

Record solar day in the Netherlands, for the first time more than 7 GW, or 45% total Dutch electricity demand.

(In March!)

The most important reason for the record is the 50% growth of installed solar pv-capacity, as compared with 12 months ago. The expectation is further 30% growth for the coming 12 months. For 2030, the projected total solar capacity is expected to be three times that of today.

[] – Martien Visser
[] – Felle lentezon zorgt voor recordopbrengst aan zonne-energie

Lightyear Solar Car Raises €40 mln and Considers IPO

This “Dutch Tesla” offers more than a Tesla, namely an annual ca. 12,000 km “free”, autonomous range, based on solar energy, sourced from cells glued to the car. In territories like North-Australia or Arizona, this car could be used for (almost) all year round, plug-in-free car miles, which suffices for daily activities like commuting and shopping.

The company Lightyear, that owns the prototype and has 130 employees, has received access to 40 million of funding, which suffices to start production of 1500 vehicles per year. The major selling point of this car is that it reduces plug-in sessions and daily ritual fights over scarce charging stations.

[] – Lightyear raises 40 million in capital for Helmond solar car and is considering an IPO
[] – With €40 million in its pocket, Lightyear is exploring the possibility of going public
[] – Lightyear haalt 40 miljoen kapitaal op voor Helmondse zonneauto: ‘Hartstikke blij dat productie is zeker gesteld’
[deepresource] – Our Lightyear posts

New PV-Solar Materials

Dutch language video

Physicist Dave Blank of the TU-Twente in the Netherlands explains why the photo-voltaic effect isn’t necessarily confined to semi-conductors like silicon.

Classic solar cells require a metal mesh to conduct the electrons that are split of from the crystal due to the impact of light. Metal however is not transparent for light, reducing the electron yield. What you really want is materials that are both transparent and conductive.

Blank draws a comparison between an Indonesian treat with a Dutch name, the spekkoek, a left over the colonial era. The cake is layered and consists of ingredients you wouldn’t want to eat separately, but in combination are delicious:

Blank uses the spekkoek as a model for new materials to be applied in photovoltaic technology, where the desired photovoltaic effect results from combining (ultra-thin) layers of a few atoms thick. These layers are produced using a laser, ejecting atoms from a source medium, that are deposited on a substrate. By shooting electrons from the side it is possible to accurately control the thickness of each atom layer.

To make a long story short, by combining layers, one can obtain physical properties that the individual layers do not possess, like conductivity at the interface of two non-conductors, that are additionally both transparent. All of a sudden, plastics for instance could become materials useful in electronics and solar technology. Think windows as solar panels, windows in homes, cars and busses.

[source] In the works: a transparent smartphone, enabled by plastics that receive properties, useful in electronics.

By piling layer upon layer, each with different properties, it is possible to absorb a far greater part of the entire radiation spectrum.

To be continued.

[] – 580.000 euro voor onderzoek aan alternatieve zonnecellen
[] – Dave Blank “mr. Nano” retires as professor UTwente
[] – Core Dutch nano-technology program
[] – Spekkoek

Zonnepark Budel Largest in the Netherlands

Zinc factory Nyrstar wants to expand the existing Solar Park Budel with 154,000 panels and 44 MW towards 270 soccer fields or 200,000 panels, yielding 90 GWh/year.

You may have noticed we are passionate about renewable energy, but not necessarily about projects like these. In a previous post we reported that a single 15 MW offshore wind turbine can generate 80 GWh/year. So why on earth would you want to sacrifice 270 soccer fields of valuable but scarce Dutch land with solar panels, if you can achieve the same energy yield by ramming an incremental single monopile in the North Sea bed. OK, this is polluted soil that can’t be used for any other purpose.

Europe by night from space. It is obvious that the Netherlands is the most densely populated country in Europe and much of the rest of the world.

But do we really want to cover large parts of valuable agricultural land with low-density solar parks, if we border the North Sea with an energy harvesting potential of up to 400 GW, more than 10 times the Netherlands will ever need for a 100% renewable energy transition? Asking the question is answering it. Solar panels on every suitable roof and perhaps even roads or garden terraces, yes! On fields, no.

[] – Zonnepark Budel
[] – Zonnepark Budel start productie elektriciteit
[] – Zonnepark in Budel; niet 50 maar 57 hectare zonnepanelen
[] – Zonnepark Budel moet grootste van Nederland worden: zinkfabriek Nyrstar wil naar oppervlakte van 270 voetbalvelden
[Google Maps] – Zonnepark Budel
[deepresource] – Solaroad or Solar Garden Terrace?

Jinko Solar Building 20 GW/Year Solar Cell Factory

Operational later this year. It will be the largest pv-plant in the world.

Jinko Solar’s annual output will triple from 10 to 30 GW. Jinko Solar also achieved an AAA-credit rating, underlining the trust and solidity in the renewable energy industry and renewable energy transition in general.

[] – Jinko Solar
[Google Maps] – Chuxiong, Yunnan Province, China
[] – JinkoSolar Ranked as Top Solar Brand used in Debt Financed Projects and Most “Bankable” PV Manufacturer by Bloomberg New Energy Finance

Total & Engie Plan 40 MW Electrolyzer


The ink of our previous 24 MW Linde-ITM electrolyzer post isn’t dry yet and is already superseded by developments in France, where refiner Total and Engie plan to build a 40 MW electrolyzer, to be fed with solar electricity. Purpose: production of biodiesel.

[] – Energy giants Total and Engie to tap solar for France’s largest green hydrogen plant
[] – La Mède, one of Europe’s Largest Biorefineries
[Google Maps] – Total La Mède Refinery

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