But what happened in March shows how the growing supply of solar power could have a much greater impact in the future. The periods of “negative pricing” lasted longer than in the past — often for six hours at a time, and once for eight hours, according to a CAISO report.
In the Mojave Desert at the California/Nevada border, the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System uses 347,000 garage-door-sized mirrors to heat water that powers steam generators. This solar thermal plant — one of the clean energy facilities that helps produce 10% of the state’s electricity. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
Many are familiar with so-called photovoltaic cells, or solar panels, found on things like spacecraft, rooftops, and handheld calculators. The cells are made of semiconductor materials like those found in computer chips. When sunlight hits the cells, it knocks electrons loose from their atoms. As the electrons flow through the cell, they generate electricity.
To meet the (arguably optimistic) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projection in the Table 1 scenario for the average carbon intensity in 2050, the projected carbon intensity in 2050 is ≈0.45 kg of C yr−1 W−1, which is lower than that of any of the fossil fuels. The only way one can reach this value of the mean carbon intensity is through a significant contribution of carbon-free power to the total energy mix. This conclusion holds for an economy entirely based on natural gas; to the extent that the mix of consumed fossil fuels is not 100% natural gas but is roughly also equal parts oil and coal, even more carbon-free energy is required to maintain the average of the energy mix at the 0.45 kg of C yr−1 W−1 value. In fact, the amount of carbon-free power required in 2050 to meet these carbon intensity targets is >10 TW and is much greater than 10 TW if emissions are to be lowered such that CO2 can be stabilized at 550 ppm. Even more carbon-free power will be required later in the 21st century if CO2 levels are to be kept below 550 ppm or if a lower atmospheric CO2 target level is desired. By almost any reasonable estimate, stabilization of atmospheric CO2 levels at 550 ppm or lower will require as much carbon-neutral power by approximately the year 2050 as the amount of power produced at present from all energy sources combined (4). Furthermore, because CO2 emissions are cumulative on a century-level timescale, even higher levels of carbon-neutral power are required by 2050 if their introduction does not start immediately with a constant rampup but instead are delayed by 20 yr for their commissioning while awaiting technology development and/or policy and socioeconomic interventions.
Technologies promote sustainable energy including renewable energy sources, such as hydroelectricity, solar energy, wind energy, wave power, geothermal energy, bioenergy, tidal power and also technologies designed to improve energy efficiency. Costs have decreased immensely throughout the years, and continue to fall. Increasingly, effective government policies support investor confidence and these markets are expanding. Considerable progress is being made in the energy transition from fossil fuels to ecologically sustainable systems, to the point where many studies support 100% renewable energy.
In 2011, a report by the International Energy Agency found that solar energy technologies such as photovoltaics, solar hot water and concentrated solar power could provide a third of the world’s energy by 2060 if politicians commit to limiting climate change. The energy from the sun could play a key role in de-carbonizing the global economy alongside improvements in energy efficiency and imposing costs on greenhouse gas emitters. “The strength of solar is the incredible variety and flexibility of applications, from small scale to big scale”.
In the mid-1990s, development of both, residential and commercial rooftop solar as well as utility-scale photovoltaic power stations, began to accelerate again due to supply issues with oil and natural gas, global warming concerns, and the improving economic position of PV relative to other energy technologies. In the early 2000s, the adoption of feed-in tariffs—a policy mechanism, that gives renewables priority on the grid and defines a fixed price for the generated electricity—lead to a high level of investment security and to a soaring number of PV deployments in Europe.
A vast hydropower facility, the Three Gorges Dam stands roughly 181 meters tall and has a length of around 2,335 meters, according to the United States Geological Survey. The facility, which is located on the Yangtze River, has a capacity of 22,500 MW.
Firefighters rarely turn the planning part of their brains off, says Peter Lynch, chief of training at the Vermont Fire Academy. “If you’re driving down the road with a firefighter, more than likely, they’re looking at the next building saying, ‘If we needed to save this building, how would we do it?’” he says. But it’s hard to evaluate a solar-paneled house from the ground. Panels can get in the way of cutting ventilation holes, like they did on Eugene Street. First responders also rely on the ability to turn off the electricity pulsing through a structure—but photovoltaic panels can make their own power. Electrified panels can cause burns, or even blow responders off a roof.
“Solar technology advanced to roughly its present design in 1908 when William J. Bailey of the Carnegie Steel Company invented a collector with an insulated box and copper coils.” By the mid-1950s Bell Telephone Labs had achieved 4% efficiency, and later 11% efficiency, with silicon PV cells. From then on, interest in solar power intensified. During the late 1950s and 1960s, the space program took an active role in the development of photovoltaics. “The cells were perfect sources of electric power for satellites because they were rugged, lightweight and could meet the low power requirements reliably.” Unfortunately, the cells were not practical for use on earth due to the high cost of making them efficient and lightweight, so further research was necessary.
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Although the precise future effects of such anthropogenic CO2 emissions are still somewhat uncertain, the emission levels can certainly be viewed rigorously within a historical perspective. The data from the Vostok ice core indicate that the atmospheric CO2 concentration has been between 210 and 300 ppm for the past 420,000 yr (8), and more recent studies of Dome Concordia ice cores have extended this time period to 650,000 yr (9). Over this same time period, the atmospheric CO2 concentration has been highly correlated with, but is not necessarily the cause of, temperature swings that have repeatedly caused ice ages on the planet. The CO2 concentrations in the past 50 yr have been rising because of anthropogenic CO2 emissions from fossil fuel consumption, and they are now in excess of 380 ppm. Without intervention, even the Table 1 scenario produces, within the 21st century, atmospheric CO2 concentrations that are more than double the preanthropogenic values (4, 6). The exact levels vary depending on the assumed composition of energy sources, the efficiency of energy production and consumption, the global economy, and different intervention scenarios to control CO2 levels. Modestly stringent interventions are based on stabilizing atmospheric CO2 in the 550- to 650-ppm range, with substantially higher values projected (>750 ppm) if the Table 1 scenario is followed. Climate models predict a variety of different global responses to levels of CO2 at or in excess of 550 ppm in the atmosphere. In some models, moderate changes are predicted, whereas in others, relatively serious sea level rises, changes in the hydrological cycle, and other effects are predicted (10). Tipping points involving positive feedback, such as the accelerated loss of permafrost, which could release further CO2 which then could accelerate still further permafrost loss, are of substantive concern. What can solar panels said with certainty is that the atmospheric CO2 concentrations are being increased and without severe intervention will continue to increase, because of anthropogenic sources, to levels that have not been present on the planet in at least the past 650,000 yr and probably in the past 20 million yr.
The Sun may be used to heat water instead of electricity or gas. There are two basic types of active solar heating systems based on the type of fluid — either liquid or air — that is heated in the solar energy collectors. (The collector is the device in which a fluid is heated by the Sun.)
Feb. 8, 2018 — Researchers propose three separate ways to avoid blackouts if the world transitions all its energy to electricity or direct heat and provides the energy with 100 percent wind, water and sunlight. The … read more
In another farming town, in Ivory Coast, I talked to a man named Abou Traoré, who put his television out in a courtyard most nights, so that neighbors could come by to watch. He said that they tuned in for soccer matches—the village tilts Liverpool, but has a large pocket of Manchester United supporters. What else did he watch? Traoré considered. “I like the National Geographic channel,” he replied—that is, the broadcast arm of the institution that became famous showing Westerners pictures of remote parts of Africa.
^ “Solar Photovoltaics competing in the energy sector – On the road to competitiveness” (PDF). EPIA. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 February 2013. Retrieved August 2012. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
Fly over the Carrizo Plain in California’s Central Valley near San Luis Obispo and you’ll see that what was once barren land is now a sprawling solar farm, with panels covering more than seven square miles — one of the world’s largest clean-energy projects. When the sun shines over the Topaz Solar Farm, the shimmering panels produce enough electricity to power all of the residential homes in a city the size of Long Beach, population 475,000.