Sunday, September 9, 2012

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Link to CleanTechnica

Germany Added 543 MW of Solar Power Capacity in July

Posted: 08 Sep 2012 02:15 PM PDT

Germany added 543 MW of solar power capacity in July, according to the German Federal Network Agency.

According to Matt McDermott of Treehugger: “[In] the first half of 2012 Germany has installed just over 4.37 gigawatts of grid-tied solar power. Remarkably just about 1.8 GW of that happened in June alone (perhaps even more remarkable, this isn’t even a record amount for one month in Germany).”

germany solar feed-in tariff

Germany solar roof courtesy Shutterstock

The amount of solar power capacity added in June was much more than July’s, but July’s was still impressive. July’s addition brings Germany’s total installed capacity for the first half of 2012 to 4,900 MW (4.9 GW).

In the first half of 2011, 2.285 GW was added – 2.6 GW (or 53%) less than the first half of 2012.

Thus, the total of all solar power plants subsidized by the Renewable Energy Resources Act up to July 31, 2012 is a total of 29.7 GW.

This year’s rapid solar development can be partly attributed to changes in subsidies that took effect in that period. But it’s also clearly due to the rapidly falling price of solar.

As of April 1, the German federal government made drastic one-time cuts for rooftop PV panel systems and redefined the performance classes (cutting subsidies for larger solar projects). Therefore, at the end of June, there were important subsidy transition periods for larger plants, which is probably why there was a sharp increase in additional installations.

Until the end of September, operators of large solar power plants will still have time to connect their plants and profit from the old remuneration regulation.

Despite being cloudy, Germany’s solar power policies have enabled it to lead the development of solar panels. At the end of 2011, the country was #1 in total installed solar power, #2 in solar power per capita (only behind Italy), #2 in solar power per unit of electricity produced, and #2 in solar power per GDP (only behind the Czech Republic).

Sources: TreeHugger, pv magazine, and CleanTechnica.

Softbank and Mitsui Co. Plan to Built Largest Solar Power Plant in Japan

Posted: 08 Sep 2012 01:44 PM PDT

Japan's third-biggest mobile phone company, Softbank corporation, and Mitsui and Co. have joined hands to build and operate the nation's largest solar power plant. With a planned capacity of 39.5 MW, the solar power plant demonstrates the increasing interest of companies in the renewable energy sector after the Fukushima nuclear disaster last year.

The plant will be located in Tottori prefecture in the city of Yonago and is expected to be commissioned by July next year. Construction of the Tottori plant will start from next month. The project is to be financed partly by the equity from both the companies and partly from project finance schemes.

Earlier this year, Softbank also made announcement for its plan to build a 111-MW solar power plant in Hokkaido, with expected commissioning in 2014. According to the reports, Softbank plans to invest in about 230 MW in the renewable energy sector. This decision is believed to be a part of the country's plan to reduce the dependence on nuclear energy by about 20-25% by 2030, something Softbank’s CEO is very supportive of.

"Mitsui, which gets about 90 percent of its profit from trading in metals, oil and gas, has helped to arrange for Chugoku Electric Power Co. to buy the electricity from the solar plant,” Softbank Chairman Masayoshi Son said.

The launch of the comprehensive feed-in-tariff scheme in July, wherein regional power utilities can buy power from renewable energy suppliers at a pre-determined price for up to 20 years, has attracted many companies to invest in Japan's renewable energy sector.

According to a recent estimate by the government, Japan would require an investment of about $637.4 billion in renewable energy by 2030 to completely eliminate the country’s dependence on nuclear power.

It seems construction of mega-scale solar power plants is underway in the unused industrial complexes in Japan, amid expectations that renewable energy may rule the country's total energy mix, especially after the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Image Source: IntelFree Press

The views presented in the above article are author's personal views only.

100-MW Solar Power Plant for California Central Valley

Posted: 08 Sep 2012 01:38 PM PDT

Kings County, CA will be getting a new 100-MW solar power plant, courtesy of SunPower. The company announced recently it has plans to build one there starting in 2015, with the plant becoming operational by the end of 2016.

SunPower will be using its 435-watt SunPower solar panels and its own SunPower T0 Tracker system to keep the panels facing available sunlight each day. Their sun tracking system is said to increase energy production by about 25% compared with fixed solar panel systems.

“We are very pleased to be working again with PG&E to deliver cost-competitive solar power at a 100 megawatt scale, while creating jobs and economic opportunity for the local community,” said Howard Wenger, SunPower President, Regions.

One source says this 100-MW solar plant will generate enough electricity to power 36,000 homes. However, the Consumer Energy Center says one megawatt is enough to power 1,000 homes. (It appears the source was using 360 homes per megawatt to calculate the total number of homes powered.)

There seems to be a wide variation in the average number homes believed to be powered by one megawatt of power. For example, in Texas, a solar project was said to have the capacity to power 127 homes per MW, 167, or 700.

For the Central Valley project, another source said the 36,000 homes powered figure came from Pacific Gas and Electric. Hopefully, this number is accurate — they are a leading utility company, so it would be a little surprising if they didn’t know these scenarios.

Over seventy million dollars is expected to be added to the Kings County economy, and about 200 jobs for the construction phase. The unemployment rate in the county was reported to be over seventeen percent in April of 2012.

Image Credit: Jake Richardson

Wishful Thinking about Rape, and Global Warming, Too

Posted: 08 Sep 2012 04:00 AM PDT

Women’s Equality Day came and went in a blur last month, but folks are still celebrating all around Important Media, the network that hosts CleanTechnica, with a series of posts this week on women’s rights and accomplishments. So without further ado, let’s hear what the #1 cleantech site in the world (yes, that would be CleanTechnica) has to say on the subject of women’s rights in the context of our other favorite topic, climate change.

antique lab equipment

Rights, Rape, and the Equal Right to Science

If you want to sum up the consequences of willful ignorance on women’s rights in two words, it’s hard to do better than U.S. Representative Todd Akin (R-Missouri) did when he used the phrase “legitimate rape.”

Those two simple words lead into a labyrinth of twisted reasoning worthy of the Minotaur’s maze, so for now let’s just focus on one aspect, and that is the right to partake equally in the advances of modern science.

Akin brought up the concept of legitimate rape as a matter of settled science while trying to explain why he believes that conception rarely if ever follows from an act of rape.

Vanessa Heggie of the Guardian points out that  “legitimate rape” once did have a firm grounding in science, at least insofar as the scientists of 13th century England were capable of understanding how female reproductive organs function.

Heggie notes that even as recently as 1814, medical texts persisted in linking pleasure (in other words, consent) with conception:

“For without an excitation of lust, or the enjoyment of pleasure in the venereal act, no conception can probably take place. So that if an absolute rape were to be perpetrated, it is not likely she would become pregnant.”

A woman gets pregnant after being raped, therefore she consented, therefore no rape occurred. Even Monty Python couldn’t do justice to that argument.

Nowadays, of course, most people know better. For those that don’t, it’s just a matter of wishful thinking: thinking that pregnancy is a condition that women can easily avoid by refraining from engaging in sex for pleasure.

In this formulation, there is no need for contraceptives of any kind, let alone access to routine and safe early-term abortion procedures performed by licensed medical professionals. All that is necessary is for women to not have sex for pleasure unless they really do want to get pregnant. So simple!

That’s what you get when you base 21st-century women’s health policies on 13th-century science.


Wishful Thinking about Climate Change

Would it surprise you to know that Akin applies the same thought process to climate change? Over at Grist, senior editor Lisa Hymes notes that Akin’s website provides a page on global warming that expends a lot of two-dollar words to reach a two-bit conclusion, aptly expressed by Akin on the floor of the House in 2009:

“In Missouri, when we go from winter to spring, that's a good climate change. I don't want to stop that climate change, you know. So, and who in the world would want to put politicians in charge of the weather anyway? What a dumb idea.”

Unfortunately, Akin has plenty of company at the upper reaches of his own party, as demonstrated by an article titled Top 5 Craziest Things GOP Contenders Said on Climate in 2011 by Joe Romm of Climate Progress.

Whether they laugh it off as a joke or couch it in science-y (Hymes’s word) language that refers to no science at all, supporters of the denialist position are engaging in the same kind of wishful thinking behind “legitimate rape,” and, for that matter, creation “science” – facts, schmacts.

Facts, schmacts!

It’s one thing to ignore the science of the 21st century as a matter of personal opinion, but for policymakers charged with the well-being of a nation, the bar for professionalism should be set much higher.

Image: Lab equipment. Some rights reserved by Double–M.

Follow me on Twitter: @TinaMCasey.

Note: here’s that link to related stories on Important Media.

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