What is the future potential for solar?| Interesting Engineering

In an article for TechInsider last year, Rebecca Harrington noted that the world would only need a land surface area about the size of Spain in order to meet global electricity demand in 2030, based on solar panels with a 20 percent efficiency level. How accurate is this and what does the future look like for solar power?


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  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Finland’s largest solar power plant started up

    Finland’s largest solar power plant was introduced on Thursday in Helsinki Kivikko. Helen’s solar power plant has nearly 3,000 solar panels. Helen solar power plants – rocky and a year ago started Suvilahti – reach an output of more than MW.

    One panel power is 285 watts

    ‘ If Kivikko solar panels are sold out, we will build a third plant on the same principle, ” says project leader Atte Kallio.

    Panels produced direct current that is converted to alternating current, and a further 20 000 volts for distribution network.

    Helen’s two solar power plants produce about 13 percent of the connected solar electricity production throughout the Finnish network.

    Source: http://www.uusiteknologia.fi/2016/04/16/suomen-suurin-aurinkovoimala-kaynnistyi/

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Brooklyn Microgrid World’s First Peer-to-Peer, Blockchain Energy Transaction

    NEW YORK—The future in peer-to-peer consumer energy exchange is here. The world’s first small-scale power grid, a microgrid, to use consumer blockchain transaction (think Bitcoin) has begun in New York.

    The first paid energy transaction between two individuals happened on April 11, on President Street, Brooklyn, where long-term resident and social justice activist Eric Fruman sold excess renewable energy from his solar rooftop installation to ex-Energy Star National Director Bob Sauchelli. This was the beginning of a relationship between five homes on one side of Presidents St., producing energy and selling their excess, to five homes on the other side.

    The Brooklyn microgrid is a small-scale solar venture in the Gowanus and Park Slope neighborhoods. It enables residents to trade and sell solar energy locally, via rooftop solar setups without the involvement of national utility companies. Instead they rely on a New York startup called TransActive grid.

    Blockchains are programs that make it possible to create digital ledgers. They are favored by the financial market due to their security, transparency, and ability to run in real time.

    Blockchains are commonly known for their association with Bitcoin. As Orsini puts it, “Bitcoin is to blockchain like Kleenex is to tissue.”

    New York Governor Andrew Cuomo started the “Reforming the Energy Vision” strategy after Hurricane Sandy left 2 million people in New York without power in 2011. It is a bid to clean up the state and promote better energy efficiency in the form of microgrids, roof-top solar installations, and so on, as well as providing affordability and a wider choice for customers in how they manage and consume their energy.

    Connecticut became the first state in the United States to launch a microgrid program in 2003

    Zero-net Energy (ZNE) means that a building produces as much energy as it consumes over the course of a year.

    TransActive grid hopes that the future in energy exchange will rely less on fossil fuels and more on renewable energy in a more community based environment.

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    IoT technologies used to make power plants more efficient

    Companies such as GE are launching digital power plant systems in gas and coal plants to make operations cleaner and more efficient by using Internet of Things (IoT) technologies.

    Ideologically, many people working within the tech sector are looking for the energy industry to pivot for good, move away from fossil fuels, and instead focus on greener, renewable alternatives. The realists will also admit the need in the short term to simply make the process as clean and efficient as possible, especially in developing countries where such projects are only just getting underway.

    GE and the IoT

    In the last year, digital industry solutions specialist GE has launched digital power plant systems for gas and coal plants. In new plants, GE’s technologies have increased the average conversion efficiency from 33 to 49%.

    For the longer-standing coal plants, efficiency improvements are substantially less, although emissions of greenhouse gases can be reduced by 3%. These efficiency gains come about through a clever blend of Internet of Things (IoT) technology and active monitoring. Optimizing fuel combustion, tuning the plant to adjust to the properties of the coal being burned, adjusting the oxygen levels in the boiler, and reducing downtime due to equipment failures all have an impact.

    “Access to precise, real-time information on the amount of gas flared at different sites can be compared to more effectively manage the flaring process—site to site, country to country, or process to process—enabling continuous improvement based on best practice from top performing (low emission) sites,”

    “Information can be presented on a dashboard for real-time analysis, enabling a business to reduce workforce costs, increase employee safety, reduce carbon tax obligations and provide significant environmental benefits by reducing emissions and fossil fuel waste,”

    Connected power plants can help to integrate renewables in the long term. This is made possible because smarter plants are more flexible and better able to respond to fluctuations in the power supplied by intermittent sources like wind and solar. In short, more connectivity means more efficiency


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