Solar Race in the Mojave has Great Expectations
Although solar accounts for less than 1 percent of California's electricity, the state hopes to see it play a key role in the its energy future. California Governor Jerry Brown is confident that renewable energy will account for one third of the state's electricity needs by the end of the decade.
Billions of dollars of federal stimulus funding and a state law that requires utilities buy a third of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020 has created a rush of huge solar plants setting up shop in the Mojave Desert. Hundreds of jobs will be created in the race to bring electricity to millions of homes from renewable energy resources.
Although the recent collapse of Fremont and Solydra, receiving huge federal loans, has dominated the news, many other solar companies are thriving. BrightSource Energy, for one, is well on its way to completing the world's largest solar thermal power plant after getting a $1.6 billion loan guarantee. When completed, it will generate enough power from solar for 140,000 homes. BrightSource's Ivanpah facility is expected to generate 370 megawatts of electricity, displacing 13.5 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions over the project's 30 year life. Big utility companies have already invested millions in the project and signed long term contracts to purchase a fraction of the energy.
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"Solar thermal technology projects like Ivanpah are playing a vital role in helping us meet our state renewable goals while providing for a secure and sustainable energy future," Fong Wan, senior vice president for energy procurement at PG&E, said in a statement.
Ivanpah uses mirrors to boil water and create steam to turn turbines that generate electricity, whereas traditional rooftop solar panels convert sunlight into electricity. The company is also making an effort to leave much of the native vegetation intact, an issue critics complain about the most. According to BrightSource CEO John Woolard, "This has the lowest environmental impact of any project in solar," since the use of water, soil and terrain is kept to a minimum.
To ease the tensions between solar companies and conservationists, California is developing a plan to decide which parts of the desert will be open for solar farm development and which areas will be protected.
W3 Energy signs technical operations contract with Luxcara
The wind farm, located outside of Piteå in northern Sweden, plans to have 137 wind turbines on full installation, with an expected capacity of more than 750 MW.
W3 Energy will be responsible for onsite technical operations management and local accounting services as well as operation and maintenance of the electrical infrastructure and transformer stations.
"This contract strengthens our position as a key player in onsite technical operations management. The Önusberget wind farm is the largest single-site wind power project in Europe and we are proud that Luxcara gives us the trust to support with the operational management of their investment", says W3 Energy's COO André Sjöström.
"The contract with Luxcara is extremely important to us and means that we take a firm grip on our home region. This contract allows us to continue to grow and we plan to continue to recruit in Piteå, Umeå, and Skellefteå."
The new contract with Luxcara means that W3 Energy manages approximately 15% of the renewable energy produced in Sweden and lays the foundation for continuing to build growth in other regions.
"Luxcara is an internationally respected asset manager in renewable energy, with high-quality investment criteria and a strong focus on diversity and sustainability. We share their view on sustainability, with a strong focus on environmental as well as social and ethical aspects", stated W3 Energy's CEO Pär Dunder.
Its past engagement with W3 combined with their track record from other large projects and their local experience were decisive factors for choosing W3 Energy, according to Philip Sander, Managing Director of Luxcara.
Global Wind Day will be held tomorrow (June 15), to promote wind's potential to reshape our energy systems, decarbonise economies and boost jobs and economic growth.
Onshore wind is now the cheapest form of new power generation in most of Europe, and offshore wind is not far behind with costs having fallen over 60% in three years, according to WindEurope.
Adrian Timbus, ETIPWind Chairman, said: “Wind energy can help electrify 75% of Europe’s energy demand and thereby deliver climate neutrality by 2050. But we must prioritise the development of the necessary technologies: next generation onshore and offshore turbines, electrification solutions for transport and for industry, and electrolysers for renewable hydrogen.”
Poland leads Europe's wind growth
Poland saw Europe's biggest increase in wind turbine energy production between 2000 and 2018, according to a Save on Energy study, and produced the fourteenth highest percentage of electricity by wind power overall in 2018.
Czechia has seen second highest percentage increase in electricity production generated by wind power. Despite having the second lowest proportion of electricity generated by wind power in 2018, the country previously produced the lowest percentage overall in 2000, so it has still seen a significant increase in wind turbine energy production over the years.
France has the third largest increase in wind turbine energy production throughout the period studied, with electricity production generated by wind power increasing from 0.009% in 2000, to 4.9% in 2018, while neighbouring Belgium experienced the fourth highest increase in wind energy production, with almost 10% of electricity produced being generated by wind power in 2018, compared to 0.02% in 2000.
Although Ukraine boasted the lowest percentage of electricity produced by wind turbines in 2018 (0.7%), the country had the fifth largest percentage increase since 2000, since only 0.003% of electricity production was generated by wind turbines.
By comparison, Denmark, Luxembourg and Spain each ranked as having the lowest percentage increases when it came to the percentage of electricity production generated by wind turbines between 2000 and 2018, and they lag considerably behind other European nations.
The EU wants wind to account for 50% of the continent's electricity by 2050. The Romanian Wind Energy Association recently launched a Code of Good Practice for renewable energy.
Top 10 countries in Europe for wind growth