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Kamuthi Solar Project; and the largest solar PV farms in India, China, and other countries

What are the World’s Largest Solar Projects?


Featuring over 2.5 million individual solar PV modules, and on 2,500 acres, in the town of Kamuthi in the Ramanathapuram district; the Kamuthi Solar Power Project supplies energy to ~300,000 homes. The Kamuthi Solar Power Project is a 648 MW solar photovoltaic (PV) farm in Tamil Nadu, India. However, as you will see in this article, there are actually a few larger solar projects in India, China, and elsewhere worldwide.


Kamuthi Solar Project

A lone solar worker strides along PV panels of Kamuthi Solar Power Project>>>


Crown Jewel of Tamil Nadu

Kamuthi cost US $710 million, and became operational in 2016. As a result, India became the #3 country in the world for operational utility-scale solar PV parks, behind only China and the United States. To reach the third spot, India had to leapfrog the United Kingdom, and this solar farm gave them just enough edge.

Tamil Nadu, home to the Kamuthi Solar Plant, is a relatively large state in India at the South-east tip of India, and the capital is Chennai. Known as the most urbanized state in India, Tamil Nadu is industrialized and produces a significant quantity of manufacturing. However, the Kamuthi Solar Plant remains the crown jewel of Tamil Nadu.


Adani ventures into solar energy with Kamuthi

Kamuthi was built and funded by Adani power, a company that was founded in 1996 as an energy trading company; and since became India’s largest private energy company. In 2011, Adani became the largest private thermal power generating company in India.

Adani took their first step into power generation with a massive coal power project in Mundra (built in 4+ stages between 2009-2012). This huge solar energy plant – Kamuthi – was Adani’s first venture into massive solar projects; and as Adani begins to look beyond coal, into sustainable energy, so too does the whole country of India seek a greener energy future.


How Long Did it Take to Build Kamuthi?

The Kamuthi Solar Power Project is a massive structure, however, it was built in only eight months. This feat was accomplished through the dedication of 8,500 team members, who worked 24 hours a day to complete the project. Perhaps as a result of the quick and efficient build, this project cost significantly less than the Topaz Solar Plant, an only slightly smaller sized plant than Kamuthi, but still a relatively large solar plant, in the Mojave desert.


Who Had the World’s Largest Solar Farm Prior to Kamuthi?

The record for the world’s largest individual solar PV farm prior to Kamuthi belonged to the Topaz Solar Plant in California, which has a total capacity of 550 megawatts, took 2 years to build, and cost $2.5 billion. The Kamuthi plant, by comparison, has a capacity of 648 megawatts. Kamuthi took ~1/3 less time to develop than Topaz, at ~1/3 the price. However, both of these solar plants have since been surpassed by subsequent developments of even larger solar PV parks; in India, China, and other parts of the world.

Both the Kamuthi and Topaz solar farms have been eclipsed in size by even bigger solar parks, again mostly in India (although some of the largest solar PV parks are elsewhere in the world; most substantially in China). China, the US, and India, stand as world leaders in the production of large solar farms, but other countries also have significant large solar projects.

Even larger than Kamuthi, is the Longyangxia Dam Solar Park in China, at 850 MW, which went operational in February 2017. And bigger still, is the 1GW Yanchi Ningxia solar park located in Ningxia, China, The 1 GW Kurnool Ultra Mega Solar Park in the south Indian province of Andhra Pradesh became fully operational in July 2017.

Bhadla Solar Park

The Noor solar plant in Abu Dhabi has a capacity of over 1 GW and was fully functional as of June 2019. Tengger Desert Solar Park takes up over 10,000 acres in China’s northwestern Ningxia province and has a total capacity of 1,547 MW. India has a couple of solar PV parks that have around 2 GW of capacity: Bhadla Solar Park and Pavagada Solar Park. Read more about the>>> the 2 GW Pavagada Solar Park in Karnataka’s Tumakuru district.

The following list has some of the largest PV parks in the world [note: this list was generated before solar parks like Noor, Bhadla, and Pavagada, were completed]:
  • Tengger Desert Solar Park, China – 1,547MW
  • Sweihan Photovoltaic Independent Power Project, UAE – 1,177MW
  • Yanchi Ningxia Solar Park, China – 1,000MW
  • Datong Solar Power Top Runner Base, China – 1,070MW
  • Kurnool Ultra Mega Solar Park, India – 1,000MW
  • Longyangxia Dam Solar Park, China – 850MW
  • Enel Villanueva PV Plant, Mexico – 828MW
  • Kamuthi Solar Power Station, India – 648MW
  • Solar Star Projects, US – 579MW
  • Topaz Solar Farm / Desert Sunlight Solar Farm, US – 550MW                  FROM:  power-technology.com/features/the-worlds-biggest-solar-power-plants

How Green is India?

India was the first country worldwide to set up an official government department of non-traditional energy resources, India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. India has been working towards more sustainable energy sources since the 1980s.

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, whose mission statement is to “increase the share of clean power, increase the availability of energy and improve its access, improve energy affordability, and maximize energy equity”, plans for India to generate 40% of the country’s electricity from renewable resources by 2030. Renewable energy currently accounts for over 1/3 of electrical generation in India, and well over 1/3 of energy production capacity in the country. India has a goal of powering over 60 million Indian homes with solar energy by 2022.


What Plans Does India Have for More Solar Plants?

India will soon have developed the world’s newest, largest solar power parks with other ultra-high capacity solar power parks – Pavagada and Bhadla Solar Parks. India is developing approximately 25 more large solar parks, with capacities around, or over, 1 GW; and now even two 2+GW solar parks (the Bhadla Solar Park, and the Pavagada Solar Park). India is also focusing on bringing clean electricity to remote villages and is taking on many other environmental sustainability initiatives.

India, along with China, is continuing to work on environmental sustainability measures like solar farms and other renewable energy projects as part of the transition these countries are in the process of making; from coal-based energy generation to supply a large share of these countries’ electricity needs, to renewable energy like solar power. Newly developed large solar farms in India, and throughout Asia and the Middle East, will have a substantial, positive impact on the environmental health of the planet.



Please also see:

The 550-megawatt Topaz Solar Plant, and Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System



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Permanent ban on new coal mines and other sustainability priorities

Climate Priority Pathways & Policies |


Strategies for mitigating climate change

What are the best strategies for mitigating global warming? How is the United States going to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions? Carbon pricing? The Green New Deal? Here’s a brief list of sustainability priorities that the United States should implement in order to avoid contributing to the most catastrophic consequences of anthropogenic climate change:


Priority Climate Actions for the US government

The United States federal government under Biden; all relevant Climate, Energy, and Environment executive administrative agencies must implement the following priorities. Also, ideally Congress and/ or state legislatures & governors must focus on priorities outlined in GCT’s Climate Public Policies article.   


Regulations

  • The EPA under Biden needs to work on ensuring environmental regulations are put back in place; including air, water, and land pollution and GHGs regulatory rollbacks, now that the Trump administration is gone. “Most of these [environmental protection] rollbacks can be reversed by the Biden administration, but it will take some concerted effort. [Berkeley Law] has compiled nearly 200 rollbacks, listed here“.   FROM  –  law.berkeley.edu/research/clee/reversing-environmental-rollbacks
  • A permanent moratorium on new coal plants legislated and mandated by the U.S. federal government, or at least by a majority of U.S. states. Pursue a just transition for coal country (e.g. retraining coal miners, other coal industry employees, in clean energy jobs. Just transition assistance with clean energy job placement; financial assistance to coal communities as local coal industry-dependent economies transition to clean energy economies). Existing coal mines are phased out completely by 2040 at the latest during the energy transition to clean energy in the U.S.
  • Permanent ban on all drilling for oil & gas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Moratorium on all mining in ANWR & in all public lands and waters of the United States. Ban on oil & gas drilling on federal lands & waters in the U.S. (Biden has effectively done most of the current moratoriums on drilling/ mining on federal lands/ waters with executive actions – now these bans must be made permanent with legislation through Congress).
  • Ban all Canadian tar sands oil imports and close tar sands oil pipelines – so that means ban all trains and pipelines that transport tar sands oil from Canada to the U.S., and stop the development of the Keystone XL pipeline – which Biden now has issued an executive order to do. The development of the Dakota Access pipeline should have effectively been stopped by the order of a federal judge in 2020. However, the case is still being bandied about the courts, pending ‘environmental review’, among other legal issues. Biden and Congress could shut the Dakota Access pipeline down, along with ensuring similar dirty tar sand oil pipelines are shut-down; especially the Line 3 pipeline.

Paris; UN Sustainability Goals; Climate & Land-use Targets

  • Rejoin the international community on climate. The United States must make good on commitments made at the 2015 Paris Climate Accord before trying to put into U.S. law (through Congress) parts of new policies like sections of the Green New Deal (GND). This is true for even less dramatic policies than the GND, like the various federal carbon pricing proposals circulating Congress. Now that the Biden administration has rejoined Paris, the U.S. must try and achieve the more ambitious Carbon Neutrality Coalition (CNC) goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, and join the CNC. Even if any part of The Green New Deal does get passed by Congress and signed into law by Biden, the U.S. must still try to achieve goals set at the Paris Climate Accord. The U.S. must maintain its commitments to vital measures; such as ambitious GHG reduction goals.
  • The U.S. will try to pull its own weight on climate, energy, the environment, and other sustainability goals.
  • The sustainability and clean energy measures listed above in this article should be implemented by the U.S. government; even if the efforts fall short of the ambitious climate, energy, environment, and social justice targets outlined in The Green New Deal. It is recommended that the US federal government, or just individual states, consider passing carbon pricing legislation; similar to California’s emissions trading system (ETS); or an ETS similar to the one conducted by 10 Northeastern states (11 with Virginia joining in 2021) – the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).   
  • The United States must ensure (through the EPA); or ideally pass legislation through Congress – setting GHG reduction, decarbonization targets for the U.S. in order to meet all ambitious goals to meet the climate targets set by the United States at the Paris Climate Accord. Biden has pledged to decarbonize the energy generation sector (for electricity generation) by 2035, and to achieve net zero emissions (carbon neutrality targets) by 2050 – these represent significantly ambitious climate targets.
  • All regulations for fossil fuel developments that were mandated under President Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP), which mirror GHG reduction targets initially set at the 2015 Paris Climate Accord must be enforced at a minimum. Based on the new, more ambitious direction of the international community on climate change mitigation; even more ambitious targets than were originally set up by Obama’s CPP should be new targets for the Biden administration. Greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. power plants will need to meet the most ambitious standards set by the Paris Climate Accord; and continue to evolve with new guidance from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – and which now are GHG reduction targets aligned with carbon neutrality by 2050.
  • Expand, protect, restore, and maintain U.S. protected public wilderness, parks, nature reserves, natural monuments, and all U.S. public lands.
  • Tax incentives/ direct government subsidies for sustainable agriculture (encourage farms to adopt practices such as cover crops, agroforestry, other common sustainable agriculture practices.


There were a few significant events which showed strong signs of global progress, with the United States as an occasional global leader on climate action; in terms of addressing anthropogenic climate change in 2014-2015, leading to the Paris Climate Accord:

  1. the Pope’s Encyclical on Climate Change
  2. Obama’s CPP
  3. Paris Climate Accord

These events represented true progress. We must get back to this momentum.

The new climate envoy and related staff, John Kerry and his staff, for the new executive climate department of the U.S. government; and the new Biden Administration picks for EPA, Energy, Interior, and other climate related cabinet positions – should get the U.S. back on track as far as ambitious climate policies based on the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change guidance. The COP26 in Glasgow should provide a beacon of hope for the global clean energy transition.

On day one of his presidency, Biden rejoined the Paris climate accord, and canceled further U.S. development of the Keystone pipeline, as well as discontinuing any further U.S. investment in the Keystone pipeline (stopping any use of the pipeline for Canadian tar sands oil). Now Biden and Congress just need to tackle the above priorities (including stopping at least 2 more major Canadian tar sands oil pipelines). Relevant parts of the Biden administration (EPA, the new Climate executive department, Energy, Interior) need to start issuing incremental policies (such as those listed above) to address sustainable climate solutions to meet new IPCC guidance. Public policies that are recommended for the United States to pursue as far as climate, energy, and the environment, please see: GCT’s CLIMATE PUBLIC POLICIES article.


The United States federal government (through Congress), or individual states (through state legislatures), should at least consider passing legislation from the various carbon pricing proposals circulating Congress. Please see: GCT’s EU and US climate progress, carbon pricing, and carbon tax articles; for more insight on the range of carbon pricing legislation measures proposed and in effect globally.


Big Oil (and gas) and Big Coal, in the United States as in much of the rest of the world, finance the campaigns of many politicians and have successfully been able to slow down progress on some major climate goals. How much of the Clean Power Plan had the Trump administration, Congressional Republicans, and the EPA under Trump been able to stop?  The EPA under the Trump administration had been able to stop or reverse the ambitious goals of the CPP and Paris Climate Accord in some, Republican-controlled, states.

However, many states and cities in the United States have stayed on track to meet the initial requirements of the Clean Power Plan and the Paris Climate Accord; as individual states (like California, many states in the Northeast, several other states) have remained committed to the ambitious climate goals of the CPP and Paris Climate Accord; and remain committed to achieving the latest climate targets set by the IPCC. Please see: greencitytimes.blogspot.com/elements-of-clean-power-plan-still-move and: greencitytimes.blogspot.com/was-clean-power-plan-just-wiped-out.


Some U.S. states have even more ambitious strategies to reduce GHGs and fight climate change than put forth in the CPP, or at Paris in 2015; closer to the carbon neutrality targets set by the latest IPCC guidance.

Examples of states with ambitious climate mitigation plans include: states like California, Hawaii, Washington, New Mexico, as well as several states in the Northeast U.S., a few other states (all are states which have passed bills through their states’ legislatures that mandate 100% renewable energy within the next 3 decades for their entire state; or at least 100% clean energy ). New York City is even planning a congestion levy for cars in the city center of NYC); and is investing substantial support for electric vehicles – like the development of extensive EV charging stations, as well as other EV infrastructure.


Carbon pricing, fiscal incentives for clean energy technologies, and incentives for clean energy job growth are among public policies that would benefit the environmental health of the planet by increasing investment in clean and renewable energy; helping in the fight against climate change by reducing GHGs from energy production.

Policies supporting clean energy job growth would also help the economy. Here is an article by Green City Times – a guide to needed public policies for environmental (as well as economic) sustainability, including our complete take on the Green New Deal – greencitytimes.com/stabilize-greenhouse-gas-emissions-2



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Renewable Energy – Breakthroughs in Wind Energy

Latest trends in global wind turbine technology


Onshore Wind Farms – Cheap and Clean Energy |

Onshore wind farms now provide the least expensive form of energy, renewable or non-renewable, once the wind farm is fully constructed and operational. Among energy sources used to power a municipal grid, wind farms also have the lowest greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), and the lowest carbon footprint, of ANY energy source (given the complete lifecycle of the energy source).


Recent breakthroughs in wind turbines

Investment of research & development in wind turbines has recently made wind turbines more efficient, helped to drive down costs due to technological advancements of new wind turbines, and helped to put wind energy on a stronger footing to out-compete coal and natural gas. Breakthroughs in wind technology include the production of increasingly larger wind turbines.

Turbines are increasingly made from stronger, lighter composite materials such as carbon fiber or composite materials. New wind turbines are being produced with an increased use of strong, light, corrosion-resistant composite materials for wind turbine blade, tower, and foundation structure construction.

Recent developments in wind turbines include such technological advancements as lasers pinpointing the direction of the wind. Lasers are used so that turbine blades can optimize their productive capacity by automatically adjusting their position. Here’s a brief summary of recent wind turbine optimizations:

As towers get taller, turbine blades get longer, which helps catch more wind. By turning to lighter, stronger materials, such as carbon fiber or advanced fabrics (the same composite materials used for next-generation aircraft), turbines can spin and generate power at lower speeds.

Today’s turbines have sensors and precision controllers, which constantly tweak the blade position to optimize the use of the wind energy and provide information to wind farm operators. The orientation of each turbine blade is continuously adjusted as well. Intelligent controllers expose more of the blade to capture the most wind…

Improvements in weather forecasting are also increasing the output from wind farms. Accurate wind forecasts can increase the power dispatch…by having a better grip on the wind’s intermittent nature.”   FROM –  windenergy.org.nz/improvements-in-technology


Modern Wind Turbines – Bigger and Better

Advancements in blade design of new wind turbine blades optimize performance by maximizing energy production capacity, optimizing the flow of wind turbine blades, and decreasing drag. Many new wind turbines on the global market are also manufactured with an increased length of wind turbine blades.

New wind turbines also have increased power generating capacity, compared to wind turbines produced last decade. GE recently unveiled a 12 MW offshore wind turbine (now being developed as 12,13, or even 14 MW units)- the Haliade-X. The Haliade-X is being developed for use in new European offshore wind farm projects, and offshore wind farms in the US as well.


How Do New Wind Turbines Address the Intermittency Issue?

Two types of technologies in particular address intermittency of wind; as well as energy storage concerns, factors which have held wind back in the past. Industrial smart systems in new, advanced tech wind farms send data to wind farm operators, allowing operators to predict wind strength, times of stronger wind activity, and wind direction. With these smart systems, turbine operators can program optimal position for turbines based on the forecasted wind speed, time, and direction.

In addition, renewable energy storage technologies store excess electricity when more energy is produced by the wind than what is needed. Energy storage is needed with wind farm in order to feed energy back into the grid when the wind slows down, or the wind stops blowing for a time.


Here is a snippet from Bloomberg Green on the new GE Haliade-X wind turbine, as well as other large wind turbines now in development-

“Since GE debuted its own 12-megawatt Haliade-X turbine in March 2018, the machine has racked up numerous orders, including for the world’s biggest offshore wind farm that will be built off the coast of England [specifically for Dogger Bank C, the 1.2GW third phase of the 3.6GW Dogger Bank Wind Farm), and cut into the business that’s been dominated by Siemens Gamesa and to a lesser extent by MHI Vestas Offshore Wind A/S.

The Siemens Gamesa [14-megawatt] turbine, which the company’s calling SG 14-222 DD, will be ready for a prototype in 2021 and commercially available in 2024. With the new machine cutting off GE’s claim on the world’s biggest windmill, Siemens Gamesa will be well positioned to solidify its position as the market leader.”   FROM –  bloomberg.com/battle-over-world-s-biggest-wind-turbine-is-heating-up



Related wind energy articles>>>

windpowerengineering.com/new-advances-in-wind-turbine-components

bbc.com/is-wind-powers-future-in-deep-water

nesgt.com/what-does-the-future-of-wind-turbine-technology-look-like-for-engineers


Please also see:

Amazon wind farms


London Array – paving the way for efficient offshore wind energy farms


Anholt Offshore Wind Farm — Denmark’s most powerful source of renewable energy


The Block Island Wind Farm – America’s 1st operational offshore wind farm


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Shortfall in International GHG Reduction Pledges

Shortfall in International NDCs |


Is the World Going to Meet its Climate Targets?

There is a substantial shortfall between GHG emission reduction pledges that almost 200 countries have made, and global climate reality. Worldwide, almost 200 countries have set climate targets – independently, and internationally all member-nations of the UNFCCC* have recommended targets.

The international pledges are known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs)  – and can be compared to UN recommendations. The international NDCs made at the Paris Climate Accord represent a problematic shortfall compared to the reality of what greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) the planet has in store for its future. [*UNFCCC is the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change]

At the same time, there is also a genuine, continuing effort by the world’s countries to try to limit global temperature rise to below 2° Celsius average global temperature increase (above pre-industrial era global temperature averages) by the end of this century. 2° C is the number that represents saving the planet from the worst effects of climate change.

The UNFCCC advises all world governments that a reduction in global GHGs (NDCs) by 7.6% annually for the next decade is required to meet the ambitious 1.5°C Paris target (see below).



What Measures are Needed to Reach Climate Targets?

In order to prevent the most damaging effects of climate change, the international community has pledged (both in the COP21 at Paris, and in subsequent years) to increase the use of such sustainability technologies like renewable energy and energy efficiency measures; while simultaneously decreasing fossil fuel use, in order to mitigate GHGs…emissions which lead to global temperature rise.

The idea is to keep global temperature rise to well under 2°C (compared to historical values, usually mid-19th century) by the end of this century. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) advises that world nations must increase ambition/ investment in clean & renewable energy, energy efficiency, clean transportation, and green building, in order to keep global warming well below 2°C this century. **The ambitious recommended IPCC limit to global warming is for the world to stay to no more than 1.5°C temperature rise above pre-industrial average global temperatures this century. Global average temperatures are already over 1° increase; using scientifically accepted metrics of measuring global temperature rise to assess the last 150-170 years; thus 1.5° is rapidly approaching.


Global Warming Reality vs. Paris Pledges

The reality is that the average global temperature rise will likely be significantly greater than what was promised at Paris – barring concerted, ambitious climate action by the international community. A 4.1-4.8°C degrees rise in average global temperatures would result if the world simply maintains the status quo. The world is thankfully not simply going to maintain the status quo in reality. This is evidenced by progressive net zero targets by the US and China (among many other nations), and best exemplified by ambitious climate action by the EU and especially Northern European countries.

The Paris pledges, as well as actions by nations, industries, and private investors, after COP21, demonstrate a genuine global effort. This global effort to reach climate goals involves the research, development, and effective use of sustainable low- or zero-emissions technologies and measures. Of course, this is great, but global temperature rise is still projected to be over the global temperature goals committed to in Paris.

In other words, a 2+°C change over the acceptable 2°C limit by the end of this century will result even if all pledges by all countries are actually met. Even in this somewhat positive scenario (and in the realistic best-case scenarios), as of now, there is still a shortfall – this NYTimes interactive piece clearly illustrates this problem — for the original 2015 NYTimes interactive click>>> http://tinyurl.com/gct333

If all nearly 200 nations keep all of their promises from COP21, global temperature rise will be limited to just 0.035°C (0.063°F) annually (best case). Even if every government on the planet that participated in COP21 keeps every Paris promise, reduces GHG emissions as promised, and shifts no emissions to other countries; and also keeps these emission reductions going throughout the rest of the century – the average projected global temperature rise will be kept to just 3°C (5.4°F) by the year 2100.

United States Future Climate Ambition

Obama’s Clean Power Plan, his moratorium on drilling for oil in the Atlantic, the U.S.’s 3-year moratorium on building coal mines on federal land represented progress on climate goals that was, and still is, the best hope for America to do its part. Now that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are the new United States President and Vice President; and Democrats are in charge of both the House of Representatives and the Senate, the United States will rejoin the international community focused on climate action. Progressive action on climate will be legislated and, in some cases, mandated, both nationally and state-by-state.

First and foremost, this means rejoining the Paris Climate Accord; and working to achieve the latest global decarbonization goals of the International Panel on Climate Change. Relevant U.S Environmental, Energy, and Climate executive administration agencies are now focused on action for sustainability agendas.

The United States government is also poised to invest substantially in clean energy infrastructure, clean energy job development, environmental protections, and in many other significant sustainable climate, energy, environmental, and economic/job growth US sectors. For a complete list of the latest GCT recommended US climate priorities, including ambitious priorities such as carbon neutrality for the U.S. by 2050 – please see – Permanent ban on new coal mines and other sustainability priorities for the United States.

The Rest of The World

China looking to shut down older coal power plants is a very positive sign. Promising signs include the global increased development and use of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. Energy transition progress is also seen in substantial increases in electric vehicles in Northern European nations, Asia, and much of the both the developed and developing world. Europe has been leading the way on ambitious climate action for many years.

European nations are independently setting ambitious net zero goals of 2050 (or even sooner in a couple cases). The European Union passed legislation that also targets net zero GHG emissions by 2050,. Even before President Biden announced a net zero by 2050 target for the United States, China set a net zero target of 2060.

However, optimism, in the face of the undeniable math of GHG reduction targets, reality, and the true effort it will take to reach ambitious climate goals, such as carbon neutrality by 2050; clearly tells us more needs to be done.



Green City Times is a resource on sustainability, urban planning, renewable energy, sustainable mass transportation, energy efficiency and green building. Find facts on renewable energy including: hydroelectric (from dams, mills, waves, currents and tides), solar, wind, geothermal, biomass (and biofuel). Also get info. about everything from recycling to clean coal…Green City Times also features articles on the latest sustainability technology. 

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Breakthroughs in Solar Photovoltaic (PV) and Solar Thermal Technology

SHINING Future of Solar


Solar – the most abundant renewable energy on the planet |

Recently there have been dramatic breakthroughs in solar energy that will help advance the mainstream use of photovoltaic (PV) technology. Here is a guide on top solar companies as well as in-depth explanations of various solar projects. This guide offers different recommendations depending on what solar services are needed (comparing cost, customer satisfaction data, and technology).

Recent technological advancements are bringing solar PV down to a more affordable cost. In the case of utility-scale PV (solar farms), solar energy is at an even lower cost: cheaper when compared to fossil fuel energy (given an ideal location for the solar farm).

Breakthroughs in solar are not limited to PV, there are also breakthroughs in solar thermal technologies (CSP towers, solar parabolics, solar water heaters). Solar is the most abundant energy source available on the planet and is steadily dropping in cost while rising in efficiency.

A key development that will enable the widespread use of solar is the production of cells using less expensive, and readily available materials. Silicon has traditionally been the preferred material for PV, however, cadmium telluride, among other PV cell materials, is now also used to produce PV cells as flexible thin-film cells or brittle crystalline structures. These materials are used to produce highly efficient, low-cost cells with far fewer raw materials needed.

Advanced solar PV technology, along with nano PV, is found in utility-scale thin-film solar farms, as well as most modern solar PV farms, rooftop PV, and solar arrays of every size.

Nano solar cell

Nano PV

Nano PV cells result in much more compact, thinner, more efficient solar panels. Nanotechnologies in PV with from 4 to 7 times (or more) the efficiency of standard photovoltaic cells are in the R&D phase today, with limited commercial availability. 

However, there are nano and alternative material PV cells with substantially higher efficiency than the traditional standard in the solar market (double to triple the efficiency of common solar cells that have typically had up to 19% efficiency). 

The solar arrays now being produced could be exponentially improved with the development, refinement, and implementation of nanotechnology. For more information on materials used to make modern solar cells, please see Renewable Energy: Solar.


Solar Thermal |

In addition to advancements in traditional photovoltaic technology, there have been exponential advancements in the field of solar thermal energy. Instead of simply converting energy from the sun into electricity as with PV, solar thermal technology uses energy from the sun to heat water, molten salt, or another working fluid. That heated liquid produces steam, which drives a generator to create electricity. Solar thermal represents an advancement in solar energy with 4 to 5 times the power density of PV.

Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System

CSP

Concentrated solar power (CSP) systems are examples of large-scale solar thermal projects. CSP solar tower generators consist of a central solar energy collector positioned on a tower (solar power tower) and used to concentrate solar energy in order to heat a working fluid. The concentrated solar power is beamed solar power tower from thousands of mirrors (heliostats). Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System is a good example of a successful large-scale CSP tower operation. Some of the most promising new projects in the world of solar power are in CSP.

solar dish, solar trough, and CSP tower

Solar Parabolics

Another type of solar thermal energy system is a parabolic solar installation. Solar parabolic systems consist of solar dishes and troughs; and are used as grid-scale energy generators, as well as for large-scale energy storage. Additionally, other solar thermal technologies have found great use in the emerging field of thermal energy storage (see Science Direct link). See this link for a detailed description of the various types of solar thermal systems touched on in this article, and more on solar thermal storage using molten salt; as well as more on solar water heating systems – sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/solar-thermal-storage


Solar water heaters

Another commercially successful application of solar power is the solar-powered water heater. Solar-powered water heaters are mandatory in most new residential buildings and homes in the country of Israel, and now, in the state of Hawaii. Some of the other new applications of solar thermal energy include power generation and solar space heating, as well as solar water heating; in industrial buildings, schools, hospitals, and even in remotely situated buildings.


Both types of solar energy (PV and solar thermal) will continue to steadily lessen in cost as technological advancements are made. However, photovoltaic is projected to remain ahead of thermal in terms of cost of production and utilization. Solar thermal does have a couple of advantages that compensate for the higher cost. Solar thermal energy is produced consistently throughout the day, not relying on weather conditions. as the turbine will run on natural gas if there is no sun for an extended period of time. Solar thermal units fit easily with power storage systems and will continue to produce energy at night, using energy harnessed during the day.


Dropping cost of solar

This chart illustrates the future trend of dropping costs for solar, to a level much lower than fossil fuel energy. Solar energy is already cheaper than all fossil fuel energy for utility-scale thin-film solar PV farms in many locations ideal for solar.

 

At the end of 2019, solar produced just over 2% of global electricity. The chart above tells us that after two more doublings, when 2,400 GW of solar are producing roughly 8% of current electricity demand, solar costs (of the most recently built built & operational projects) will have dropped in half from today’s levels. In the sunny parts of the world with low costs of capital, labor, and land, we could routinely be seeing unsubsidized solar in the 1-2 cent range. In California (typical of the green line) we could be seeing unsubsidized solar at 2.5 cents per kwh. In northern Europe, we could be seeing utility scale solar routinely priced at 4-5 US cents per kwh.  FROM  –  rameznaam.com/solars-future-is-insanely-cheap-2020


Related links on solar energy:

understandingnano.com/solarcells

grist.org/solar-power/harnessing-the-suns-energy-for-water-and-space-heating

Here’s a snippet from a BBC article titled A breakthrough approaches for solar power about the rising efficiency of solar cells, and growing use of solar worldwide>>>

“Today’s average commercial solar panel converts 17-19% of the light energy hitting it to electricity. This is up from 12% just 10 years ago. But what if we could boost this to 30%? More efficient solar cells mean we could get much more than today’s 2.4% of global electricity supply from the sun.

Solar is already the world’s fastest growing energy technology. Ten years ago, there were only 20 gigawatts of installed solar capacity globally – one gigawatt being roughly the output of a single large power station. By the end of last year, the world’s installed solar power had jumped to about 600 gigawatts.”   FROM –  bbc.com/May2020

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Economy vs. the Environment

GREEN, Healthy Environment = GREEN, Healthy Economy


Economic growth does not have to come at the expense of the environment. Sustainable technologies (such as renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable mass transit, electric vehicles) are also extremely beneficial to the economy. For example, the renewable energy industry employs over 500,000 people in the United States. The coal industry is responsible for under 90,000 jobs in the US. In addition, the cost of renewable energy, like solar and wind, is lower than coal (especially when looking at the levelized cost of energy), as depicted in this chart:

(chart from: wind-and-solar-are-our-cheapest-electricity-generation-sources-now; and also see: lazards-levelized-cost-of-energy)


GREEN Growth

A good example of eco-environmental sustainable growth can be seen clearly at the national level. Economic growth is beneficial and necessary for both industrialized and developing nations; as modernization (cities, national infrastructure, vital services, etc…) significantly improves the quality of peoples’ lives.

Unfortunately, most global economic growth historically has only been possible with the exploitation of natural resources. Historically, this exploitation of natural resources has been in land (as in exploitation of forests. wilderness), water (e.g. oceans, rivers, lakes), and especially fossil fuels (gas, coal, and oil for energy, oil/ petrochemicals for manufacturing).

Today, this exploitation of natural resources is no longer necessary to achieve growth; sustainable technologies are abundant, efficient, and affordable (such as renewable energyenergy efficiency technologies, sustainable mass transitelectric vehicles, etc…).

The global sustainability movement best represents the current global modernization movement; as evidenced by increased global investment in, and increased innovation of, clean energy technologies. In addition to the lower cost of, and increased efficiency of, clean energy technologies, the clean energy is the fastest growing segment of the US economy for job growth.


Please see: Renewable Energy JOBS are UP; and RE cost is down


Efficiency of sustainable technologies

Modern, 21st-century sustainability technologies are simply more energy-efficient and cost-efficient than their 20th-century fossil-fuel-intensive counterparts; as evidenced by hybrid and electric vehicles (EVs). EVs and hybrids get greater MPGs with greater fuel efficiency; providing much more savings (and responsible environmental safety as well), than all transportation options relying on more polluting vehicles running only on internal combustion engines (ICE vehicles).

EVs generate much less CO2 and other GHGs than ICE vehicles; especially when EVs are charged with electricity from a municipal grid powered with low-carbon energy sources. There’s also savings on maintenance costs, in addition to savings on fuel and much lower emissions, with EVs and hybrids compared to ICE vehicles (even when an EV is more expensive to purchase than a similar ICE vehicle); as illustrated in this chart comparing the total cost of ownership for a Chrysler Pacifica plug-in hybrid (PHEV) vs. ICE equivalent minivan:

PHEV vs ICE vehicle – total cost of ownership


The significantly greater long-term, sustained economic benefits of, and opportunities provided by, modern, sustainable technologies are true for every technology that uses clean energy instead of dirty fossil fuels. The economy grows more as companies’ carbon footprints are reduced, fewer natural resources are used, the environment is treated with care; and more efficient products, as well as sustainable jobs, are developed.

Economic growth only TRULY happens (long-term) with sustainable technologies, which promote both economic growth AND environmental protections. If the economy has boom cycles due to environmental deregulations which allow coal, oil, gas, and petrochemical companies to avoid best environmental practices – how is that not counter-productive and a negative strategy overall?


Economic costs of unsustainable energy

Let’s say one person in the community gets wealthy due to loosening regulations on fossil fuel development, while another deals with damage due to the same deregulation. For example, in the case of a mishap in fracking or drilling when there are deregs allowing for booming fossil fuel business, but also causing destruction due to lax environmental standards. This is seen in: us-oklahoma-drilling-blast/five-missing-after-oklahoma-oil-and-gas-drilling-site-explosion.

The costs (negative externalities; costs to public health and the environment) of damage due to fossil fuels are increasing; costs of repair, cost of clean-up for environmental pollution, and/ or medical costs due deregulation & increased pollution (not to mention loss of life and personal injury in fossil fuel development and production), global warming, less clean water, air, land etc…

These costs associated ONLY with fossil fuels and NOT with renewable energy, increase when environmental deregulations continue to be given to what should be highly regulated fossil fuel industries. The federal, state, and private resources required to deal with the many problems associated with the deregulated fossil fuel industry offset any short-term economic gains. With clean energy and energy efficiency job growth and economic investment there is sustained long-term growth, without the abundance of negative externalities that come with fossil fuels.


Sustainable economic growth

Isn’t it a better idea to focus on a sustainable social business growth model vs. analyzing adjusted gains due to continual subsidies to fossil fuel companies; and deregulating industry to help fossil fuel intensive companies in the stock market? 10% of the richest Americans own 84% of all stocks in the stock market.  A much better indicator of economic health is the job market, and, in fact: jobs in clean energy are up to 10 times higher than jobs in fossil fuel industries.

For example, take this chart which compares US jobs in solar (& wind energy) v. jobs in fossil fuels (& nuclear):


Job opportunity is much more focused on the clean energy sector than fossil fuels- see: The United States green economy now employs 10 times more people than the fossil fuel industry



An article from the Earth Institute of Columbia University looks at the need for combining the ideas of environmental sustainability and economic growth. Here, the author specifically examines the economic opportunities created with environmental regulations>>>

“There are political and business leaders who do not care if economic growth causes environmental damage and there are environmental advocates who do not believe you can have economic growth without causing environmental damage. In a New York Times piece on the climate and economics discussions at Davos, Mark Landler and Somini Sengupta reported that:

Critics pointed to a contradiction that they said the corporate world had been unable to resolve: how to assuage the appetite for economic growth, based on gross domestic product, with the urgent need to check carbon emissions. “It’s truly a contradiction,” said Johan Rockström, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. “It’s difficult to see if the current G.D.P.-based model of economic growth can go hand-in-hand with rapid cutting of emissions,” he said.”

I find this dialogue a little amazing since it completely ignores the history of America’s success in decoupling the growth of GDP and the growth of environmental pollution. This fact of American environmental and economic life began around 1980, a decade after the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and continues today. It’s really quite simple: with public policies ranging from command-and-control regulations to direct and indirect government subsidies, businesses and governments developed and applied technologies that reduced pollution while allowing continued economic growth…

Environmental protection itself contributes to economic growth.”     FROM –  blogs.ei.columbia.edu/economic-growth-environmental-sustainability

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Plan for Smart Meter Deployment in all 50 States

Modern SMART Meters

Many buildings in America today still rely on inefficient energy infrastructure, such as older models of energy meters, instead of modern, cost-effective, energy efficiency technology such as smart meters.[1] Smart meters are energy meters with digital, high-speed, real-time, two-way communication, and data storage functions. Since 2013, the number of smart meters have passed the number of older models of meters deployed on energy grids throughout the United States.[2]

Energy utilities should continue to expand the deployment and implementation of smart meters to market capacity in the United States. Market capacity for smart meter deployment is defined here as replacing ALL old energy meters with smart meters throughout the United States.


Defining: what is a smart meter?

A smart meter records the electrical energy used by a building and sends that information digitally to the utility (and often can send the data to customers, too); in real-time, for monitoring and billing. Smart meters allow for two-way communication between the customer’s energy meter, and the utility (as well as for the energy customer, in many circumstances). They allow for utilities to read meters remotely; and for the utility to take operational control of the meter remotely when necessary.  Smart meters can also track energy consumption and provide data on the energy supply/ demand at the time of use.

Smart meters provide other data for analysis, such as power quality and power outages. They can store and/or transmit data on demand; and smart meters are programmable with respect to the data the smart meter is collecting, storing, and transmitting. Smart meters transmit data wirelessly (dependent on the wi-fi capabilities of the area in question) to utilities (and to energy customers in many smart meter systems). They use cable and/ or broadband carriers if the wireless or cellular signal in the area is not sufficiently operative.

Real-time Smart Data

Smart meters provide real-time, high-speed data and analytics to utilities; making the utility more efficient, responsive, resilient, and reliable. In addition, this data and analytics can, in many cases, be passed on to energy consumers. This enables energy customers to be more informed, and more efficient, with their energy usage; along with utilities.

Smart meters increase the energy efficiency of the energy used by utilities and energy customers (how smart meters increase energy efficiency for utilities and consumers is further detailed in the “Benefits of Smart Meters” section below). Smart meters can reduce customer’s energy bills by helping to reduce their energy consumption, and reduce electrical energy demand from utilities and on the grid (as seen in the examples in the “Case Studies” section below).

By reducing energy production and consumption from the utility/ energy grid and energy customers, and by making energy use more efficient, smart meters effectively reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with power generation. Therefore, they also reduce the impact of GHGs associated with energy generation on climate change (see section on “Benefits of Smart Meters – for environment” below).[3]  

How are Smart Meters Deployed?

Smart meters can be deployed by utilities on a city-wide, a statewide, or a regional, basis. Local governments, city municipalities, or state governments, along with private energy utilities/ energy infrastructure companies, can help promote the use of smart meters.[4] The local/ state utility usually manages and maintains smart meters and related infrastructure, and the utility usually maintains customer relations/ accounts.

However, third-party private energy companies (both associated with, and/ or independent from, the utility) can take over some services, and continue to do so more and more in the 21st century. Today, there are private energy companies that offer these services to customers throughout the United States,. In these energy services, a customer signs a contract for a subscription of smart meter compatible equipment, smart meters, and smart appliances.[5]

Smart public-private partnerships

The utility will generally maintain and manage the energy infrastructure, the actual energy distribution, however the utility may want to stop directly servicing the customer account/ customer relations. A private energy company (a private company other than the utility) can sometimes take over managing the energy customer’s account.[6] The U.S. should create and leverage private-public (utilities, other private energy companies, government) partnerships in the energy sector to replace old meters with smart meters in all states in the United States.

Utilities usually supply most of the up-front capital (energy meters, other energy infrastructure including energy distribution systems), the initial deployment, the maintenance of energy meters; however, utilities also often depend on public and private efforts made by local municipalities, or State governments, and/ or other private energy companies. In order to use smart meters, the old meters for energy customers need to be swapped out with new smart meters.

More often than not, smart meter deployment and use is driven by, and promoted by, private-public partnerships, involving utilities and government. These sectors will need to contribute resources and effort in order for a complete switch to smart meters to be made in large areas such as cities, states, and regions.

Examples of smart meter deployment, use, and smart meter implementation plans in the immediate future, include Pennsylvania, as well as more examples of success with recent smart meter deployment and implementation in other US states (the “Case Studies” section below details the success of smart meter deployment and implementation in these areas of the US), and countries throughout the world, found below in the “Case Studies” section.

Act 129 in Pennsylvania – Boon for Smart Meters

One example of statewide legislation which has led to widespread deployment of smart meters, as well as implementation plans for smart meters, is Act 129 in Pennsylvania. Act 129 of 2008 amended Section 2807 of the Public Utility Code [in Pennsylvania] by adding a requirement for electric distribution companies (EDCs) with greater than 100,000 customers to submit, for PUC approval, a smart meter technology procurement and installation plan.”[7]

Customers of the parent energy company First Energy (in Pennsylvania) can expect old meters to be swapped out for new meters (if it hasn’t been done already), as local utilities, for example, customers of West Penn Power, Penelec, and Met-Ed get new smart meters; while the roll-out of smart meters for customers of the utility Penn Power is now complete.


Benefits of Smart Meters

Smart meters present an opportunity for 3 main categories of benefits; benefits to energy companies, benefits to energy customers, and benefits to the environment:

Benefits to Energy Companies

  • Monitors the electric system much more quickly AND *aa.
  • Enables dynamic pricing, which adjusts the production of energy for required for buildings, and the cost of electricity based on demand, AND *bb.
  • Makes it possible to use energy resources more efficiently
  • Provides real-time data that is useful for balancing electric loads while reducing power outages (i.e. blackouts), the utility can quickly problem solve power quality issues, disturbances, and outages effectively and based on accurate real-time data
  • Reduces the expense to the utility of building new power plants to keep up with energy demand from utility by increasing energy efficiency by customers/ buildings, and decreasing energy use by buildings
  • Helps to optimize income with existing resources

Benefits to Energy Customers

After the electric company has deployed and implemented all of the features of smart meter technology,  its smart meter infrastructure; smart meters offer the following benefits to electricity customers:

  • *aa. Far greater (and more detailed) feedback regarding energy use (through Energy Management systems)
  • *bb. Enable BOTH utilities AND consumers to adjust their habits (through data analytics software, Energy Management apps) in order to lower energy generation costs and electrical bills
  • Reduces the number of blackouts and system-wide electricity failures

Benefits to the Environment

  • Reduces the need for new fossil fuel power plants that produce GHGs
  • Reduces GHGs from existing power plants by increasing energy efficiency, and decreasing energy production and consumption
  • Reduces carbon footprint of energy customers
  • Reduces or eliminates pollution created by vehicles driven by meter readers [8]

Smart meters are currently being given a hard look by most utilities in the US to replace (or utilities already have plans to, or have already replaced) old, “non-smart”, meters throughout the country; as the United States continues to upgrade its energy grid in every state to a modern, 21st century, smart grid nationally. Smart energy meters give utilities, as well as energy customers, a detailed, real-time look at energy consumption in a building (even narrowing the detailed data into categories like ‘HVAC’, and ‘electricity’.

Also gaining in popularity are tools such as residential/ business building Energy Management energy monitoring systems and apps (systems for monitoring energy consumption in buildings, apps for tablets or smartphones) to regulate the efficiency of energy consumers’ energy use.

Some building Energy Management apps are able to incorporate the data from smart meters into apps for smartphones or tablets, and further break the data down into sub-categories of energy used by specific appliances in the building; given that the appliance has to also be a smart appliance, and connected to the smart meter, and that the given model of smart meter, and the model of appliance, must have that capability).[9]

Smart meters (and building Energy Management systems) allow utilities to reduce their energy costs during off-peak times by increasing energy efficiency, and by helping utilities recognize energy use patterns for building, and balance energy supply and demand loads, therefore reducing overall energy generation needed for buildings.[10] Utilities can then pass those cost reductions onto customers, re-invest those cost savings in research & development of even more cost-saving technologies, or simply enjoy the greater profit with the increased revenue.

Additionally, smart meters reduce labor costs for the utility- namely the amount of labor needed by the utility to monitor consumption of energy; as technicians from the utility are replaced by automated high-speed wireless data networks. This also poses a direct savings to the utility. Also, energy bills are more accurate with the use of smart meters and smart technology, as opposed to with the human manual readings of energy meters for the utility, as the utility sends people out in the field to go meter by meter recording data when old meters are used by the utility.[11]

Furthermore, “smart buildings promise to improve efficiency by [designing] these [smart meter, Energy Management] systems to reduce operating costs and increase the safety, productivity and quality of life of those who work and live inside their walls.” FROM- forbes.com/honeywell/


“New advanced metering infrastructure [smart meters] that can measure customer load with increased granularity has created opportunities for variable rate structures, effective demand response and increased customer control over their energy use. And now, with the ability to compare real-time usage to historical baselines, the industry can begin to more accurately value efficiency as energy…” FROM- how-smart-meters-are-changing-energy-efficiency-in-california/

Lastly, buildings represent the #1 source of GHGs in America, when the totals of the emissions from energy to create electricity for buildings and energy production for HVAC are combined.[12] Smart meters change (decrease) the share of emissions created by buildings by allowing utilities and customers to generate and use energy more efficiently.[13]


Case Studies

The growth of smart meter deployment in the United States is summed up in the following case studies-

Although the initial expense of smart meter deployment represent substantial up-front costs to utilities (billions of dollars are invested annually by utilities in researching & developing, and deploying, smart meters, and smart meter infrastructure), the return on investment from implementing this technology (as seen in the financial benefits listed above) are also substantial, and often present a short-term cost horizon which is favorable to the utilities, making the initial investment in smart meter development, with a break even point of only a few years.[14]

States in the US currently have been successfully deploying and implementing smart meters for energy; including in Pennsylvania (as demonstrated in the case study above), New York, and Illinois (as seen in the case study examples below).

Similar to First Energy in Pennsylvania, ConEd in New York plans the deployment of smart meters to all of their customers in the state (although ConEd took the initiative to plan on the statewide deployment of smart meters independently, without first being compelled by legislation).[15] ConEd in Chicago and Northern Illinois aims to have installed approximately 4 million smart meters in all homes and businesses across northern Illinois by the end of 2018.[16]

Although the following worldwide locations may not be all entirely analogous to U.S. states (different economies, different demographics as compared to the United States), it is interesting to note the success of smart meter programs throughout the world. The growing deployment of smart meters throughout the world is summed up in the following examples:

  • Europe- The UK plans to have smart meters deployed to all residential properties (30M+ homes) by 2020, as well as most small businesses (2M+ businesses).
  • Canada- In the province of Ontario alone, there are 800,000+ residential and commercial properties with updated smart meters.
  • Japan- Businesses utilize smart meters throughout commercial buildings in the country, and Japan’s Energy Conservation Centre plans more research & development, and deployment and implementation, of smart meters.
  • Australia- In the province of Victoria, there are plans to deploy smart meters to 2.6M properties. As the deployment of smart meters is taking place, energy customers are offered in-home displays tied to the smart meters, eliminating the need to go outside to look at the display.[17]

“As climate change and its effects become more apparent, the energy industry is working to change the current system as quickly as possible to improve energy efficiency and reduce human activity’s impact on the environment. Although some companies and countries are slower to adopt smart meters and similar concepts than others, no one can argue the fact that a massive overhaul of the current systems is imperative.”[18]

The most effective strategy to increase the impact of smart meter deployment and implementation in the United States is to encourage and promote smart meter deployment and implementation in all 50 states of the United States.

 



footnotes:

[1] Website URL+ path: https://www.forbes.com/sites/honeywell/2016/10/28/why-we-need-smart-buildings/#1e314cad77d9 (accessed11/15/2018)

[2] URL + path: https://www.utilitydive.com/news/how-smart-meters-are-changing-energy-efficiency-in-california/410489/ (accessed 11/15/2018)

[3] URL + path: https://www.energycentral.com/c/iu/smart-grid-and-climate-change (accessed 11/12/2018)

[4] URL + path: https://dailyenergyinsider.com/news/6539-utilities-regulators-jointly-improve-nations-electric-grid-aii-says/ (accessed 11/15/2018)

[5] URL + path: https://www.forbes.com/sites/allbusiness/2018/10/06/clean-tech-startups-key-issues/#58faf723194e (accessed 11/12/2018)

[6] URL+ path: https://www.marketsandmarkets.com/Market-Reports/smart-meter-366.html,https://www.marketsandmarkets.com/Market-Reports/smart-meter-366.html (accessed 11/15/2018)

[7] URL + path: http://www.puc.pa.gov/filing_resources/issues_laws_regulations/act_129_information/smart_meter_technology_procurement_and_installation.aspx (accessed 11/15/2018)

[8] URL + path: https://www.thebalancesmb.com/pros-and-cons-of-smart-meters-1182648 (accessed 11/16/2018)

[9] URL + path: https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/utilities/smart-meters/ (accessed 11/16/2018)

[10] URL + path: https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/save-electricity-and-fuel/appliances-and-electronics/reducing-electricity-use-and-costs (accessed 11/16/2018)

[11] URL + path: https://www.esa-automation.com/en/smart-meters-and-their-purpose-in-industrial-automation/ (accessed 11/16/2018)

[12] URL + path: https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emissions (accessed 11/15/2018)

[13] URL + path: https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2017/01/f34/AEP_Smart-Grid-Technologies-Cut-Emissions-Costs-Ohio-SGDP.pdf (accessed 11/15/2018)

[14] URL +path: https://www.iotforall.com/how-make-smart-city-projects/ (accessed 11/16/2018)

[15] URL + path: https://www.coned.com/-/media/files/coned/documents/our-energy-future/our-energy-projects/electric-long-range-plan.pdf (accessed 11/16/2018)

[16] URL + path: https://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/progs/env/smart-grid-for-a-smart-chicago.html (accessed 11/16/2018)

[17] URL + path: https://www.greencitytimes.com/smart-grid-overview/ (accessed 11/16/2018)

[18] URL + path:

https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2013/07/f2/20130716-Energy%20Sector%20Vulnerabilities%20Report.pdf

(accessed 11/16/2018)



FAQ

  1. What is a smart meter?

    smart meter records the electrical energy used by a building and sends that information digitally to the utility; in real-time, for monitoring and billing. Smart meters allow for two-way communication between the customer’s energy meter, and the utility, allowing for utilities to read meters remotely, and for the utility to take operational control of the meter remotely when necessary.  Smart meters can also track energy consumption and provide data on the energy supply/ demand at the time of use.

  2. What are some of the benefits of smart meters?

    Smart meters enable utilities and energy customers to produce and consume energy on a more efficient basis, where energy supply more accurately meets energy demand as reported from data collected and transmitted by smart meters. Not only is energy produced and consumed on a more efficient basis with use of smart meters, energy use is effectively decreased with the implementation of smart meter technology. By reducing energy production and consumption from the utility/ energy grid and energy customers, and by increasing energy efficiency, smart meters reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with power generation; and reduce the impact of GHGs associated with energy generation on climate change. 

  3. How are smart meters deployed?

    Smart meters can be deployed by utilities on a city-wide, a statewide, or a regional basis. Local governments, city municipalities, or state governments, along with private energy utilities/ energy infrastructure companies, can help promote the use of smart meters. The local/ state utility usually maintains smart meters and related infrastructure, and the utility often maintains customer relations/ accounts. However, third-party private energy companies (both associated with, and/ or independent from, the utility) can take over some of the management of energy distribution and customer relation management services.

GCT tags

carbon farming carbon footprint carbon neutral carbon neutrality carbon pricing carbon tax clean energy Clean Power Plan climate change climate solutions cogeneration Conference of the Parties cover crops e-bikes electric vehicles energy energy efficiency energy star Freiburg global warming green building greenhouse gas emissions hydrogen hydrogen fuel cells Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change LEED nationally determined contributions net zero greenhouse gas emissions nuclear energy Paris Climate Accord recycling renewable energy reverse osmosis smart grid smart meter solar sources of renewable energy sustainability sustainable agriculture sustainable mass transit United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change urban planning waste-to-energy waste management zero-waste

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Desalination- Clean Water for a Thirsty World

Clean Water from the Sea |



Carlsbad, California desalination plant |



The Sorek desalination plant in Tel Aviv, Israel |



The two desalination plants featured in this article; one in Carlsbad (north coastal San Diego county), California, and one in Tel Aviv, Israel, represent two of the pioneering large-scale desalination plants in the world using reverse osmosis.


Desalination represents a significant strategy among the various solutions to the world water crisis; along with wastewater treatment/ treated wastewater infrastructure, and mass distribution of water filters to the poor, especially in 3rd world countries (and low socioeconomic areas in general). Desalination is a current technology that helps provide vital clean water to people globally. According to statistics from Our World in Data:


Carlsbad and Tel Aviv Desal. Plants

The desalination plant in Tel Aviv provides 20% of the clean water the people in the entire country of Israel use; and the Carlsbad desalination plant provides 10% of the clean water San Diego county residents use. Although Carlsbad and Tel Aviv don’t represent the struggles with water scarcity in the third world specifically, the desal. plants in those locations do represent solutions to the growing need for clean water in the world as a whole. Both plants use a technology called reverse osmosis as part of the process of water purification. Here are a few articles about the desalination plants in Carlsbad and Tel Aviv, and desalination in general:

citylab.com/tech//a-look-inside-the-largest-desalination-plant-in-the-western-hemisphere

The largest ocean desalination plant in the Western Hemisphere [as of the date in this article] is open in Carlsbad, San Diego, heralding what may be a new era in U.S. water use.

technologyreview.com/desalination-out-of-desperation

Global desalination output has tripled since 2000: 16,000 [large and small-scale] desalination plants are up and running around the world [now, a few years after this article was originally published, it’s over 20,000], and the pace of construction is expected to increase while the technology continues to improve. Desalination is ripe for technological improvement. A combination of sensor-driven optimization and automation, energy-efficient technology that is said to nearly halve energy consumptionplus new types of membranes, could eventually allow for desalination plants that are half the size and use commensurately less energy. Among other benefits, small, mobile desalination units could be used in agricultural regions hundreds of miles away from the ocean, where demand for water is great and growing. Already, some 700 million people worldwide suffer from water scarcity, but that number is expected to swell to 1.8 billion in just 10 years. Some countries, like Israel, already rely heavily on desalination; more will follow suit.

technologyreview.com/megascale-desalination

10 miles south of Tel Aviv, Israel, a vast new industrial facility hums around the clock. [The Sorek desalination plant in Tel Aviv] provides 20% of the water consumed by the country’s households. Thanks to a series of engineering and materials advances, however, it produces clean water from the sea cheaply and at a scale never before achieved, demonstrating that seawater desalination can cost-effectively provide a substantial portion of a nation’s water supply.



Desal. Plants Globally

The desalination plant in Carlsbad served as a pioneering project for large-scale desalination projects in the United States, of which there are now dozens, in addition to hundreds of smaller desalination projects in the United States. In the entire world there are over 120 countries with desalination plants, the largest of which are in Saudi Arabia, with a comparatively large-scale plant in the United Arab Emirates. The Ras Al Khair desalination plant in Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest desalination plant.

There are over 20,000 desalination plants under development or fully operational worldwide, with over half of the major global desalination plants located in the Middle East. The Carlsbad desalination plant now has company, especially with a couple of other desalination plants in California, in the industry sector of large-scale municipal desalination plants in the United States, as depicted in the following global map of major desalination plants–





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10 Countries Promoting the use of EVs

Global EV BOOM


Why Is There A Need For EVs Globally?

In its World Energy Outlook, the International Energy Agency identifies pathways for clean energy technological solutions needed to reach global carbon neutrality (i.e. net zero GHG emissions) by 2050. It also details interim goals that will ensure the world is on the path to carbon neutrality. In order to achieve these goals, global electric vehicle sales need to increase from <3% of new vehicle sales to 50% by 2030.

Increased awareness of fossil fuels’ effect on the planet, and the universal imperative for all nations across the planet to act on climate NOW to reduce GHGs, have driven many countries around the world to implement policies encouraging electric and hybrid vehicles. The sales of electric vehicles (EVs) have increased globally, with EVs, including 100% EVs and plug-in hybrid EVs; and now account for over 2.5 million vehicles annually

Over 90 million vehicles (internal combustion engine {ICE} vehicles, EVs, and hybrids included) are manufactured worldwide each year. Globally,  China produces over 1 in 4 vehicles (of all the world’s vehicles and of all types) annually; and almost another 1/3 of vehicles in the world are manufactured in – the United States, Japan, Germany. The U.S. produces more than Japan, and Japan’s vehicle production is a bit higher than Germany. Other major vehicle-producing countries include India and Mexico, which combined with the U.S., Japan, and Germany, produce roughly another 1/3 of the world’s vehicles.

The remaining auto manufacturing representing the final ~1/3 of the global vehicle market is done in other countries, most significantly South Korea. Even with all of the above countries contributing to manufacturing EVs, EVs still only account for less than 5% of vehicle manufacturing globally (mostly in the form of electric and plug-in hybrid light-duty passenger cars and trucks). This number of EV production needs to increase in order for the world to meet global climate goals. 

The global reliance on the automobile results in a rapid increase in carbon dioxide emissions. Climate change has disrupted the entire atmospheric setting of the planet, causing global warming and extreme weather such as floods, increased seas levels, heat waves, droughts, hurricanes, and more storms; all of which in turn affect food production, human health, and our general well being. EVs and hybrids are a cost-effective, efficient way to fight climate change (while consumers get a superior product) – see The Benefits of Hybrids, Plug-in Hybrids, and Electric Vehicles.


 Ten Countries promoting Electric Cars and Hybrids  

written by Eseandre


Norway

Norway is first on our list because its government is in full support of cleaning the atmosphere and creating sustainable energy for its citizens; especially with regard to EVs. Norway has substantial tax incentives for EV buyers/ owners. Norway has built an extensive EV infrastructure, with ubiquitous, often free, EV charging; and Norway further incentivizes EVs with dedicated, free EV parking spots with charging included, as well as entire EV garages dedicated to these perks, and free use of bus/ carpool lanes for EVs. The entire country of Norway plans for carbon neutrality by 2030, and that new car sales should be entirely zero emission vehicles by 2025. The sales of EVs in Norway have gone up to over half of new vehicle sales (when plug-in hybrids are also considered). EV customers and owners in Norway enjoy incentives such as tax exemptions for EV purchases, free parking spots, and free charging – incentives aimed to get others interested and invested in the transition to an all-EV society.  Oslo, Norway is even considering a complete ban of fossil fuel-based vehicles from its city center.

France

Even with the yellow vest event just passing by, the sales of electric cars in France have gone up 111%. Paris is aiming to ban all cars except electric vehicles by 2030 in the city, and in the country, there will be a similar ban by 2040. In the bid to reduce GHGs and air pollution, Emmanuel Macron government has offered incentives in the cost of  EVs, and plans to increase charging ports to 100,000 by the year 2020. 

The UK

The UK has declared it will be fully electric car compliant by 2040, and the UK has also passed a nationwide law to ban traditional ICE car sales by 2030. Although the government is thriving hard to be a major force with the zero-emission ambitions for the country, and the congestion charge in London, the structure to sustain the use of EVs, and plug-in cars are still not in place, and the government needs to fix that for the program to be a success. However, the UK is home to some of the best brands of electric and plug-in cars.

China

China is the largest producer of fossil fuel vehicles globally, but with the country’s moves towards clean energy and sustainability, China is at the forefront of producing electric and hybrid cars, trucks, and buses. Sales of EVs in China climb higher as the need for clean energy and GHG reduction nationwide remain a priority. 

The USA

Sales of EVs and hybrid vehicles have increased in the United States by over 25% annually since 2016; with even greater increases seen in the U.S. EV market recently, in large part thanks to Tesla. When discussing EVs and America, one immediately thinks of Tesla, the auto manufacturer based in Palo Alto CA. Tesla is the #1 manufacturer of EVs worldwide. Tesla car sales have increased by 280% annually over the last year in the United States, and by over 138% worldwide, now claiming sales of around 250,000 cars worldwide annually, most of them in the United States.

Germany

Electric cars and hybrids have flooded the streets of Germany. Germany will have more than a million EVs on city streets in the country in a couple of years. Germany is known for its financial incentives for buyers of German EVs and hybrids, and over 30 makes of German EVs in the country.

Brazil

Brazil is second on our list, not just for a country that uses electric cars, but for being among the pioneers of pushing for renewable energy in all facet of its economy. As the Brazilian government implements the idea of EV, we are seeing more industrial and residential sectors combining to sell the impact of greenhouse gas and how we can change it. Since the gradual introduction of EVs in Brazil, the emission rate is reducing as both electric cars, and fuel cell vehicle is seen on the streets. The country also uses cleaner fuel alternatives such as ethanol blends and biomass. 

Please see our article on Curitiba for more on this city in Brazil, and Curitiba’s successful use of hybrid vehicles in sustainable mass transit systems.

The Netherlands

The Netherlands has set a target for itself that only emission-free vehicles will be allowed on the streets by 2030.The government of the Netherlands will subsidize the sales of electric vehicles beginning in 2021. EVs will be exempt from taxes on motor vehicles starting in 2025.  

India

With little clear government support for EVs, lack of charging infrastructure, and the higher cost of EVs compared to fossil fuel cars, India struggles in its drive for EVs. However, the success of EVs in India might be achieved in a different way; the introduction of the two-wheel electric scooters throughout India to combat the dense population of the country, and pollution. Hopefully, soon electric scooters will be affordable enough for the masses in India, in the aim to cut down on the GHGs in the country. 

Canada

The government of Canada is investing in green infrastructure and clean technologies including partnering with private and public bodies to attain the dream of a clean Canada. This drive toward sustainability has also pushed the need for zero-emission vehicles on Canadian roads, as well as the introduction of charging stations to accommodate the growing number. Although it has not attained the position of countries like Norway, China or even its neighbor the US, it is on the verge of being one of the countries with a higher renewable and sustainable energy in the future. 


The earth is our home, using renewable and creating a more sustainable form of energy is all we need to change the problems that currently plague us. Countries setting policies that help people make the sustainable transit transition; and the global population taking the initiative to adopt hybrid vehicles, plug-in EVS, and 100% EVs, is a significant help to the cause. (Other countries not on this list are notable for their production and incentivizing of use of EVs, most notably South Korea).

The demand for EVs globally is expected to rise sharply in coming decades, as illustrated in this chart – with stats from BNEF, BP, OPEC, Exxon, and the IEA –

Electric vehicle global demand forecast


Please also see:

The Benefits of Hybrids, Plug-in Hybrids, and Electric Vehicles


About the author – Eseandre is a passionate freelance writer, with over 2,000 positive reviews on Fiverr, who loves travelling and caring for the less privileged, and the earth. You can find her here- https://www.fiverr.com/eseandre