Eco City

Why to invest in solar power?

 4-MINUTE READ

Spain to use given
resources wisely

Solar power is gaining its competitive features in nearest future. Namely, Spain is one of the most advanced countries in the development of solar energy and by 2020 expects the installed solar generating capacity of 10,000 megawatts (MW). At the same time, Spain is the leader in National CSP capacities in 2013 with 2,300 MWp, showing growth with 360 MWp more than in previous year. But Spanish researchers do not stop on the accomplished and Spanish National Research Council have developed a novel technique that reduces the costs of the 'smart windows', with which the amount of light passing through glass can be controlled. 'Smart windows' do not only have the ability to become darker or lighter in response to the brightness and heat of sunlight, but also offer the potential to greatly reduce heating and cooling costs, among other benefits.

Can we cover city
needs only with solar?

The world’s largest solar plant is located in California, USA. California’s Topaz has been fully operating since 2014 and covers over 160,000 homes – majority of San Luis Obispo County’s population. What is more, the project is expected to displace 377,000 tons of CO2 annually, equivalent to taking 73,000 cars off the road, according to First Solar (Jake Richardson, 2014). It does not come as a surprise, that China is the third largest in installed and planed concentrated solar power plants, as it has been the world's largest manufacturer of solar panels since 2008, producing 3/5 of the of global photovoltaics on an annualized basis in 2012, according to Earth Policy Institute. Industry projections estimate that by the end of 2017, China will have enough manufacturing capacity to produce 51 GW of photovoltaics per year, an amount over twice as large as 2010's global production of 24 GW.

Insight box

Sun is the most promising energy resource of the future. Therefore, increasing amount of companies invest into sun harvesting technologies and its development is very rapid. Solar power has to be included in company's strategy plan as an important development step.

Multifunctional roads
of future

New promising technologies are expected to enable solar energy harvesting right in the city using roads and pedestrian pawns. The idea that feels like a dream is actually put together and has been presented in November by Solaroad. The first solar bike path is built 25 kilometers away from Amsterdam and is already in use. 70 meters long cycle path generates energy enough to cover three households. Nevertheless, innovative technologies' costs are miles too big: the project's cost is €1.5 million, though when finalized, the total cost will be up to €3 million. Producer claims that in the future solar roads will supply power not only to homes, street and traffic lighting, but also to the electric vehicles driving over the roads.

Welcome to the market of
home-produced energy

Innovative technologies has to be invested by private companies or driven by the government, but what if a household could provide its energy by itself via solar power? For instance, the case study in Finland shows that impossible is nothing, even in the northern Europe. Markku Åberg, an entrepreneur in Mäntsälä, southern Finland, has constructed private-home solar power plant, which produces enough energy not only for his property, but also for his office. In addition, Markku sells the surplus power to a local power company. The efficiency of private-home solar power can be argued. Nevertheless, technology is developing rapidly, enabling huge possibilities to create carbon free and energy-independent cities.

Solar vs. Fossil resources

As we all know, renewable sources of energy are the most efficient regarding ecological ways to produce energy, unlike the nuclear and other finite fossil resources, which will eventually run out or are otherwise problematic to the environment. The solar resources are more than 200 times larger than finite fossil and nuclear resources combined, having the biggest energy potential. The other renewable sources, like wind energy, could probably supply all of the planet’s energy requirements, however, only solar alone could meet the demand. Therefore, solar energy industry is growing rapidly and due to innovative technologies its costs are decreasing. Nowadays, the price of solar panels is hundred times lower than it was in 1977 (Zachary Shahan, 2014). Throughout 25 years, the price of watt peak capacity (WP) produced by solar plants has dropped over 80% from $7/Wp in 1985 down to $1,5/Wp in 2011 according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Sources

REN21 (2014). "Renewables 2014: Global Status Report"

Perez & Perez, 2009a

"Global Market Outlook for Photovoltaics 2014-2018". www.epia.org. EPIA

European Photovoltaic Industry Association -Researchers develop cheaper 'smart windows', 03.02.2015, phys.org

Homegrown solar generation gains foothold in Finland, 30.7.2013, yle.fi

Solaroad, www.solaroad.nl/en

#solar #renewables #energy #zerocarbon #smartsystems #topaz

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