quarta-feira, 27 de outubro de 2010

Concurso para 150MW

DGEG - Direcção-Geral de Energia e Geologia
Anúncio do concurso público para atribuição de capacidade de 150 MVA de injecção de potência na rede eléctrica de serviço público para energia eléctrica produzida a partir de centrais solares fotovoltaicas, incluindo a tecnologia solar fotovoltaica de concentração, e ponto de recepção associado. Clique aqui para ver anúncio.

Decreto-Lei da Microprodução finalmente publicado

via Portal das Energias Renováveis
Foi finalmente publicado na segunda-feira, 25 de Outubro de 2010, em Diário da República Número 207 Série I, Suplemento o diploma que altera o DL 363/2007: Decreto-Lei n.º 118-A/2010 (clique aqui para aceder ao DL).
Após meses de espera, uma vez que a Microprodução se encontrava suspensa desde o início do ano, espera-se que este novo diploma, apesar de conter tarifas substancialmente mais baixas que o anterior, venha clarificar e dinamizar o processo de instalação de sistemas de energias renováveis de pequenas potências.

Novas centrais fotovoltaicas têm de adiantar 60 milhões ao Estado- Edição Impressa

Jornal de negócios online
Governo exige contrapartida de pelo menos 800 mil euros por cada lote de dois megawatts no concurso solar
O concurso para licenciamento de novas centrais fotovoltaicas irá disponibilizar no mercado português uma potência total de 150 megawatts (MW), mas o Governo quer receber, em contrapartida, pelo menos 60 milhões de euros do sector privado. A Direcção-Geral de Energia e Geologia (DGEG) repartiu em 75 lotes, de 2 megawatts (MW) cada, o processo de atribuição de potência de injecção à rede eléctrica a partir de instalações fotovoltaicas. E cada um desses lotes só será entregue mediante uma contrapartida financeira para o Estado de, no mínimo, 800 mil euros.

SunSil Drives Electronics Deeper Into the Solar Panel

Greentech Media
Sunsil of Denmark has upped the technology ante in the integration of PV solar modules and power conditioning electronics. (...) Microinverters and panel optimizers maximize output for each module; SunSil's design goes a step further and adds their "dynamic microcell controller" at the solar-cell level within the module and addresses this cell variation, as well as panel shading and panel soiling. Maximum Powerpoint Tracking is being done at the cell level and the panel puts out alternating current.
Sunsil takes a backside-contact, 17-percent-efficient solar cell, scribes it with a laser and breaks the cell into sub-cells. Each solar module uses 576 sub-cells, along with 48 DC-to-DC converters. (...) With production help from Dutch firm Eurotron, SunSil is building a 300-watt, 230-volt AC module (ACM) -- one that produces 20 percent to 40 percent more kilowatt-hours per year than a standard module.
Hansen claims inverter efficiency of better than 96 percent, using space-grade components. The end product is guaranteed for 25 years.

Solar Roadways to Prototype First Ever Solar Road Panel

from Inhabitat 
Ever drive on the highway and think about how much solar energy is wasted on the asphalt below? Apparently, so has Solar Roadways. The startup was awarded a $100,000 U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) grant to prototype its Solar Road Panel–an energy-generating panel made from solar cells and glass that is meant to replace petroleum-based asphalt on roads and in parking lots.
The panels, designed by Solar Roadways founder Scott Brusaw, contain embedded LED lights that might eventually act as a “smart” system, providing travel lines as well as timely warnings to drivers about roadblocks and wildlife up ahead. At the same time, embedded heating elements in the panels could prevent snow and ice from building up on the road.
Once a prototype is complete, Solar Roadways still has a long ways to go before its technology is commercialized. But if and when it is, Brusaw estimates that covering the entire U.S. interstate highway system with his 12′ by 12′ panels could fulfill the country’s energy needs (based on each panel producing 7.6 kilowatt hours of power each day).

sexta-feira, 22 de outubro de 2010

Associações dizem que estão três mil empregos em risco nas energias renováveis

Jornal de Negócios
Em comunicado conjunto, a Associação Portuguesa da Indústria Solar (APISOLAR), a Associação Portuguesa de Empresas do Sector Fotovolaico (APESF) e a Associação Portuguesa de Energias Renováveis (APREN) criticam os "atrasos sucessivos" da publicação da lei que regula a actividade de microgeração por via renovável, "em particular baseada em energia solar". [As] associações representantes da área das energias renováveis denunciaram "a grave situação" do sector solar fotovoltaico, alertando que está em risco a manutenção de cerca de três mil postos de trabalho.

quinta-feira, 21 de outubro de 2010

Why China holds 'rare' cards in the race to go green

Why China holds 'rare' cards in the race to go green

From electric cars to wind turbines, environmentally-friendly technology around the world needs rare earth metals. But China - where over 90% of these minerals are mined - is saying it now wants to keep more for its own industry.

The leafy banks of the Birmingham and Worcester canal may be an unlikely place to discuss a looming industrial crisis but it was here that Professor Rex Harris of Birmingham University took me on his hydrogen-powered electric barge.

The super efficient motor, like most electric vehicle motors, uses rare earth magnets.

Rex gave me two matchbox sized neodymium-boron magnets, offering me £50 to push them together.

His money was safe, the magnetic field was too strong. Such power is vital to green technology, so much of which is based on the efficient generation, use and storage of electricity.

So we need to be sure of good supply of rare earth magnets.

"We worry about peak oil," he says, "we should worry about peak magnets as well."

Dangers of dependence

Rare earth metals are relatively abundant in the Earth's crust, but they are difficult to extract.

A wind farm
The green road always starts with black earth
Jack Lifton, independent expert

Most came form the United States in the 1960s but tightening environmental regulations and a price war closed the last Californian mine, handing China a virtual monopoly.

American strategic metal consultant, Jack Lifton has been warning the US government of the dangers of dependence.

"Last year the Chinese announced their regular five year plan, looking ahead to 2010 to 2015.

"They said they would continue to reduce the export of these materials to the West and that they were considering stopping the export of certain of them."

The Chinese motives are pretty clear. They want Western users to do their manufacturing in China and they need supplies for their own ambitious wind energy programme.

They plan to build 120 GW of wind generated electricity by 2020, more than Britain's entire electricity production.

That alone demands a full year's supply of rare earth metals.

The former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping once remarked "There is oil in the Middle East, there is rare earth in China."

Environmental concerns

Japan has already woken up to the implications of this by building up stockpiles.

Toyota, who make the rare earth guzzling Prius hybrid car, is considering opening its own mine in Vietnam.

The United States is worried about supplies for the military while the UK government has examined the risks for our own plans for more electric cars.

The search is now on for alternative sources of rare earths, with mines planned for California, Australia, Arctic Canada and even Greenland.

Baotou steel worker
Baotou in China is on top of about 60% of the world's rare earth deposits

But they are delayed by environmental concerns stoked by the Chinese experience.

Their principal source is Baotou in Chinese Inner Mongolia where enormous open-cast mines scar the landscape whilst refineries leak vast quantities of polluted water into the landscape.

Independent expert, Jack Lifton says we can't demand zero impact. If we want green technology then we need to mine, he says. "The green road always starts with black earth."

Cleaner alternative

However, Professor Animesh Jha at Leeds University thinks he may have a cleaner alternative.

He has discovered that titanium dioxide ore could be an important source.

The purification of this chemical, commonly used in paints, leaves a residue of rare earths. He believes this could by-pass the Chinese and the environmental problems of mining.

"There are very nice deposits of titanium oxide all over the world... Norway, India, Brazil, US. They all have rare earths in them."

Combine Professor Jha's technique with the fruits of new mines and the careful recycling of rare earth metals currently in use in our laptops and mobile phones and we may be able to provide sufficient supplies in the future.

But new processes take time to perfect and new mines take years to come on-stream.

That still leaves a long gap when the green revolution will rely on the economic and political judgement of China's exporters.

China mines 97% of the specialist metals crucial to green technology.

US inquiry into China rare earth shipments

US trade officials say they are looking into a New York Times report that China is blocking shipments of rare earths to the US and Europe.

China mines 97% of the specialist metals crucial to green technology.

The report, citing anonymous industry sources, said Chinese customs officials had broadened export restrictions.

Meanwhile China's commerce ministry has denied a report by the official China Daily that it will cut quotas by 30% next year to stop overmining.

"The report is completely false," the ministry said in a statement.

"China will continue to supply rare earths to the world, and at the same time, to protect usable resources and sustainable development, China will also continue to impose restrictive measures on exploration, production and import and export of rare earths."

Threat to economy

The US Geological Survey recognises 17 different rare earths.

They are used in everything from catalytic converters in cars to computer monitors, TVs and in pharmaceuticals.

Analysts say without these elements, much of the modern economy would shut down.

China accounts for about 97% of global rare-earth production. The BBC's Paul Mason says the rare earth story goes to the heart of China's relationship with the West.

The US, which is also a major buyer of rare earths, mined no rare earth elements last year.

US trade officials say they are now checking the New York Times report that China is blocking shipments to the US and Europe, following reports of a similar move against Japan.

The newspaper cited unnamed Chinese rare earths officials as saying that "the embargo is expanding".

Nefeterius McPherson of the US Trade Representative's office said: "We're seeking more information in keeping with our recent announcement of an investigation into whether China's actions and policies are consistent with WTO rules."

Washington is investigating whether China is violating international trade rules by subsidising its clean energy industries.

EU trade spokesman John Clancy told the BBC that he was unable to confirm claims made by European industry officials in media reports of China blocking shipments to the EU.

"Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao stressed at the recent EU-China Business Summit that China did not intend to take such action or close its market," Mr Clancy said in a statement.

He said rare earths were a key element of European industrial policy, and that the situation was being monitored closely.

Japan accused China of halting rare earth shipments last month amid a diplomatic row over Japan's detention of a Chinese fishing boat captain whose trawler collided with two Japanese patrol boats.

segunda-feira, 18 de outubro de 2010

First Solar to Acquire 5N Plus to Access Tellurium? 

[adapted from] Greentech Media
First Solar, the globe's leading producer of thin-film photovoltaic panels, will look to buy 5N Plusto secure its supply of the element tellurium. (...) Although First Solar is the largest cadmium telluride user, there are a few startups looking to replicate its success. The leading aspirants in the CdTe materials system for photovoltaics are Abound Solar [who has a supply agreement with 5N Plus],  PrimeStar Solar, Calyxo/Q-Cells and Solexant.
Tellurium is a byproduct of copper mining and there is an ongoing debate over whether the global tellurium supply can support the growing needs of the solar industry. Prices for tellurium surged from under $100 per kilogram in 2007 to over $200 per kilogram in 2008. It is estimated that 30% of the global tellurium supply goes to First Solar -- and that proportion is increasing [Tellurium is also used to improve the machinability of steel and copper, as well as in CD-RW disks and other semiconductor applications.]. Rising tellurium prices might spur companies to explore a more active exploration and mining operation, rather than depending on tellurium as byproduct. First Solar has been looking for suppliers who would focus on mining tellurium. Capital Mining in Australia announced in May 2008 that First Solar was sending a geologist to check out a newly discovered tellurium deposit.
Estimates vary, but annual global tellurium production is about 160 tons to 260 tons, with demand potentially reaching 800 tons by 2013. At 8 grams of tellurium per 2 foot by 4 foot panel, that's roughly 100 metric tons of tellurium for each gigawatt of PV production. (...) In any case, silicon remains a much more earth-abundant element than tellurium, although tellurium is in strong supply extraterrestrially and in undersea mountain ridges.

Are Solar Thermal Power Plants Doomed? 

Greentech Media
Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) [including all concentrating solar thermal (CST) technologies, such as trough, tower, and dish-engine - as well as concentrating PV (CPV) technologies including companies such as Amonix, SolFocus, and Concentrix] is one of our favorite renewable energy technologies, but it might be in serious trouble. (...) The relentless price declines of PV panels allows developers to build PV plants at a lower cost than their CST cousins. The better comparison is levelized cost of energy (LCOE). PV is cheaper today, and expected to widen its edge over the next decade. By 2020, the CSP technologies are expected to be in the $0.10-$0.12/kWh range, whereas PV is forecast between $0.07-$0.08/kWh.

quinta-feira, 14 de outubro de 2010

Lumeta and Its Giant Stick-On Solar Module 

Greentech Media
[Lumetta], a subsidiary of a large roofing contractor called DRI Companies, has devised a 400-watt solar module that essentially sticks onto the roof of a building. You just peel off the paper on the bottom of the module, line it up on the roof in relation to the other modules, and stick it on.
"We prefer to call it adhesive," joked general manager Jonathan Pickering, the former Applied Materials exec. (...) The idea is to curb the costs and difficulties associated with installing solar on commercial rooftops. (...)
"They were concerned about how to maintain the integrity of a roof after thousands of little holes" had been drilled into it to accommodate solar racks. Sticking the module to the roof eliminates the need to drill. It also generates other advantages. First, it cuts weight, an important consideration on older buildings. (...) The number of components and labor involved in an install are also greatly reduced. Davey estimates that Lumeta can curb labor by 60 percent. (...) And, because they have virtually no wind profile, the panels won't fly off in a storm. The "plumber's crack" dilemma in solar -- the fact that labor grows as a proportion of solar installations as the cost of solar panels declines -- has become the focus of a few startups such as Armageddon Energy (modular residential panels) and Zep Solar (minimalist racking). Over the past year, however, large solar module makers have begun to tackle the problem, as well. Suntech Power Holdings, for instance, makes utility-scale solar panels that fit into each other tongue-and-groove style. Solon and SunPower, meanwhile, unfurled megawatt-size solar power plant modules. Canadian Solar has adopted Zep's racks.

Parque fotovoltaico na Madeira

Jornal da Madeira via Portal das Energias Renováveis
Já está concluída a primeira fase do novo parque fotovoltaico da Nutroton Energias que está a ser instalado na Zona Franca Industrial (ZFI), no Caniçal [na ilha da Madeira].
Ontem, o director executivo da Nutroton Energias, o ex-presidente do PSD, Marques Mendes, visitou o parque fotovoltaico, o primeiro a ser construído na ilha da Madeira, uma vez que a empresa já tem a funcionar desde Maio deste ano um parque fotovoltaico na ilha do Porto Santo.Na oportunidade, disse ao JM que o parque fotovoltaico já está a produzir energia desde a semana passada, embora em fase experimental. Marques Mendes realçou que a “potência total do parque será de 6 megawatts, sendo que metade do parque (3 megawatts) já está pronto e está a produzir energia”. Quanto às obras da segunda fase do parque fotovoltaico, que já arrancaram, o director executivo da Nutroton Energias referiu que “ficam concluídas até ao fim de Novembro”. No total, disse, o parque “terá 28.800 painéis fotovoltaicos, passando a ser um dos maiores a nível nacional”, destacando ainda que “abrange uma área de 100 mil m2” e custará 20 milhões de euros.

sexta-feira, 8 de outubro de 2010

Microinverter With 25-Year Warranty From SolarBridge

Greentech Media
SolarBridge Technologies, a developer of power conversion solutions for the solar industry, announced the launch of the SolarBridge AC Module System, a microinverter that enables the industry’s first integrated AC modules with a full 25-year warranty. The company is partnering with photovoltaic (PV) module manufacturers to bring AC modules to market. Kyocera Solar and SunPower are two of these partners. If you're going to build a microinverter integrated with a solar module, it makes sense that the microinverter should rival the lifetime of the panel itself.
As with all microinverters, the SolarBridge product improves energy harvest with the potential for improved reliability and reduced installation costs. The SolarBridge microinverter replaces today’s junction box and is integrated directly onto the back of a solar module during module manufacturing. The SolarBridge microinverter requires a fraction of the bulk capacitance of traditional inverter architectures, enabling the use of long-life film capacitors. This is a component design decision different than that of the leading solar microinverter firm.

Centrais fotovoltaicas já produziram mais que em todo o ano passado

Jornal de Negócios Online
A produção de electricidade a partir do Sol, em Portugal, está em alta, mas o ganho ambiental vem acompanhado de um sobrecusto de dezenas de milhões de euros.
A produção de energia solar fotovoltaica em Portugal está em alta e já ultrapassou, na primeira semana deste mês, o volume produzido em todo o ano passado, de acordo com dados da REN - Redes Energéticas Nacionais. No feriado de 5 de Outubro, a produção fotovoltaica acumulada desde o início do ano atingiu 139,3 gigawatt-hora (GWh), superando os 139 GWh que a REN registava no final de Dezembro de 2009.
Em comparação com o mesmo período do ano passado, as centrais fotovoltaicas portuguesas levam um crescimento de 23%. O que é justificado pelo aumento da potência instalada, de 64 megawatts (MW) em Setembro de 2009 para 81 MW agora. Mas a energia fotovoltaica tem ainda um peso residual no sistema eléctrico nacional: este ano responde por 0,35% do consumo nacional. Em 2009, a energia fotovoltaica abasteceu 0,28% do consumo eléctrico em Portugal.

quarta-feira, 6 de outubro de 2010

Obama to Install Solar Panels on the White House this Spring

from Inhabitat - Green Design Will Save the World
Looks like President Obama has finally given in to the pressure — the White House is about to go solar – again. In the 1970’s President Jimmy Carter had solar panels installed on the roof of the first home only to have President Ronald Reagan remove them later. Coalitions — like this one — have been pushing for Obama to bring solar back to the first residence as a sign of his commitment to renewable energy. The new solar array is expected to be installed by next spring and will heat the first family’s supply of hot water as well as supplement power for some of the the first family’s energy needs

BP Solar Announces Solar Modules with Thermo Cool Technology for the Middle East

from AzoCleanTech
BP Solar has declared the introduction of a novel solar technology designed for exclusive use in extreme operating temperatures. The introduction forms a part of its 14 kW pilot program currently undergoing tests on the grounds of the New Energy Oasis, located in King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia.
The new system was put on test during July this year being the first summer month of the year when the temperature reaches its peak. The tested system comprises 60 PV modules and nearly 50% of which includes the new 120 half-cell modules with the novel Thermo Cool Technology of BP. The Thermo Cool backsheet stratum utilized in the technology provides quicker heat dispersal to provide cooling operating environ within the solar module, thus increasing the output of the module.

PV Inverter Scene Overhauled by Micros and the AC Module

Central inverters may currently dominate photovoltaic installations but a distributed inverter architecture using either micro-inverters or AC-DC solutions is set to mount a growing challenge. See a recent review at RenewableEnergy.com

Some recent developments in this area:
Petaluma-based Enphase makes microinverters that increase the efficiency of solar panels. It has sold 400,000 of the microinverters since it started business in 2008. Paul Nahi is its president and CEO. Suntech (NYSE: STP) makes solar power systems for use on homes, businesses and by large industrial and utility customers. It’s based in Wuxi, China. Its local head office is in San Francisco.The two didn’t give financial or other details of this agreement.
National Semiconductor announced today that it is collaborating with Suntech to develop “smart panel” technology, incorporating National Semiconductor’s award-winning SolarMagic™ power optimizer chipset into Suntech solar panels to improve the power output of solar systems. National’s SolarMagic power optimizer chipset enables each solar module to produce the maximum energy regardless of whether other panels in the array are under-performing due to environmental mismatch. The technology enhances the energy harvest of each individual PV panel through a combination of advanced algorithms and leading-edge analog power management circuit techniques. In real-world tests involving shading and mismatch, Suntech modules with SolarMagic power optimizer technology were shown to recoup an average of 50 percent of lost energy, and in some cases captured as much as 75 percent of otherwise lost energy compared to standard panel performance.

Germany Adds Nearly 1% of Electricity Supply with Solar in Eight Months

from Renewable Energy World
Seemingly determined to put an end to speculation that solar photovoltaics (PV) can't "scale" quickly enough to make a dent in electricity consumption, the German solar industry continues to break records.
According to the latest data from the Bundesnetzagentur, Germany's solar industry added another 1,000 MW during July and August [which] brings the total for the eight-month period from January through August to 4,900 MW from nearly 175,000 solar installations. Solar PV installations to date in 2010 are capable of generating slightly less than 5 TWh of electricity under German conditions. [Since] Germany consumed 580 TWh of electricity in 2009 [i]nstallations of solar PV during the first eight months of 2010 are capable of providing 0.86% or nearly 1% of the country's electricity.
Germany currently meets approximately 1% of its supply with solar PV. With the 2010 additions, the country will meet 2% of its supply with solar PV.
Wind energy supplied 6.5% of Germany's electricity in 2009. Germany is expected to add another 4 TWh of generation from wind energy in 2010 or somewhat less than 1% of consumption.

Martifer finishes installation of 2.5 MW PV park in Ilha do Sal in Cape Verde

Martifer and the Ministry of Economy, Growth and Competitiveness of Cape Verde (MECC) has inaugurated today the first of two solar parks contracted in January. The Prime Minister of Cape Verde, Dr. José Maria das Neves, presided the inauguration ceremony.
Installed on fixed structures, this park, located in Ilha do Sal, is a turnkey project entirely developed by Martifer Solar and it uses PV panels produced in its plant in Oliveira de Frades, Portugal. The installation occupies an area of 9.75 hectares and has 2.5 MW peak power, with the possibility of a 2.5 MW expansion capacity until 2014. This park, so far is the biggest PV Central in the African continent. The second park, which will be inaugurated in November, is located in Ilha de Santiago and will have 5MW peak power capacity.

segunda-feira, 4 de outubro de 2010

Student Refits $50 Motorcycle To Run On Solar Power

from Inhabitat
With cars being designed to run on electricity and biofuel, it’s only fair that motorcycles are similarly retrofitted for renewable forms of energy. With that in mind, a student at Purdue University has converted an old 1978 Suzuki to run on solar energy and to emit zero emissions.
 Said student, the awesomely named Tony Danger Coiro bought the motorcycle for $50 and spent $2,500 redesigning and retrofitting the bike to run on sun. With the new modifications, the bike now has a range of 24 miles and a top speed of 45 miles per hour compared to a previous consumption of a ‘penny per mile’.

Whitfield Solar Announces 50kW Purchase Order from Portugal

Whitfield Solar [announced] that SmallPower Energias Renováveis, Lda. (“SmallPower”), has placed an unconditional purchase order for 50 kW of WS:Si24 Solar Concentrators for delivery in Q3 2011. The product will be used for a ground mounted application [in Leça da Palmeira] (...) It is Whitfield Solar’s first Northern Hemisphere order comprising more than 100 units of WS:Si24 Solar Concentrators.