Meet the new, disruptive player in residential solar
Early last week, a California-based startup called SunCulture Solar Inc. debuted a product with the potential to change the way we think about residential solar energy.
The SolPad solar panel integrates solid-state batteries into the panel itself, as well as an inverter system and software that utilises app-based gamification to encourage sustainable energy use. SunCulture says their product is “the world’s first fully integrated solar energy solution created for the modern smart home and sustainably minded global citizen.” The panels will go on sale late next year, and can be placed on a rooftop or propped up on a balcony or patio.
“With our groundbreaking component miniaturization and integration, we’ve transformed solar -- much like the smartphone revolutionized the personal computer sector -- combining numerous components into a single device that’s significantly less expensive, more powerful, and easier to use than conventional systems,” said Christopher Estes, the CEO and Chief Product Architect at SunCulture Solar Inc.
SolPad’s integrated design means that the product can operate independently, with the stand-up ‘SolPad Mobile’ model able to be connected with a single cord to form a mini-grid. Once the panel is plugged into an electrical outlet outside it will begin delivering solar energy into the home.
The energy management platform supplied alongside the panels, called SolControl, also makes users aware of when and how their energy is being consumed. The programme allows homeowners to decide which items will be powered with solar energy, be they lights or a television.
“SolPad revolutionizes personal energy by bringing together the sustainable smart home, solar and energy storage into a simple, gorgeous and integrated device,” said Estes. “SolPad also makes solar even more accessible for the majority of the global population and its growing energy needs.”
Drax advances biomass strategy with Pinnacle acquisition
The Group’s enlarged supply chain will have access to 4.9 million tonnes of operational capacity from 2022. Of this total, 2.9 million tonnes are available for Drax’s self-supply requirements in 2022, which will rise to 3.4 million tonnes in 2027.
The £424 million acquisition of the Canadian biomass pellet producer supports Drax' ambition to be carbon negative by 2030, using bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and will make a "significant contribution" in the UK cutting emissions by 78% by 2035 (click here).
This summer Drax will undertake maintenance on its CfD(2) biomass unit, including a high-pressure turbine upgrade to reduce maintenance costs and improve thermal efficiency, contributing to lower generation costs for Drax Power Station.
In March, Drax secured Capacity Market agreements for its hydro and pumped storage assets worth around £10 million for delivery October 2024-September 2025.
The limitations on BECCS are not technology but supply, with every gigatonne of CO2 stored per year requiring approximately 30-40 million hectares of BECCS feedstock, according to the Global CCS Institute. Nonetheless, BECCS should be seen as an essential complement to the required, wide-scale deployment of CCS to meet climate change targets, it concludes.