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Solar Energy
Concentrating Solar Power Plant in Spain and Powerful Solar Power Plant in Portugal Combat Climate Change

Serpa Solar Power Plant Phorto: Wikipedia.
The first commercial scale concentrating solar power (CSP) plant in Europe was inaugurated in the Southern Spanish city of Seville in March 2007. The 11 MW plant has been designed to produce 23 GWh of electricity a year, enough to supply a population of 10,000. This production of solar electricity avoids the emission of about 16,000 tonnes of CO2 each year.
The CPS project called PS10 produces electricity via 624 movable mirrors (heliostats) of 120 m2 surface each that concentrates solar radiation to the top of a 115-m- high tower where the solar receiver and the steam turbine are located.
The PS10 solar plant is situated 25 km west of the city of Seville and is promoted by the company Abengoa. The investment costs amounted to ?35 million, with a contribution of ?5 million from the European Union's Fifth Framework Programme for research awarded for its highly innovative approach.
The project execution took 54 months, from 1 July 2001 to 31 December 2005.
PS10 is the first of a set of solar electric power generation plants to be constructed in the same area which will produce a total of more than 300 MW by 2013.

Solar Farm in Portugal

The solar farm of Serpa in southern Portugal, inaugurated in March 2007, has a capacity of 11 MW and is expected to produce, with its 52,000 photovoltaic modules, 20 gigawatt/hours of power per year, enough to supply 8,000 homes. The Solar farm, which covers about 60 hectares of pastures for sheep, saves 30,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year, according to its promoters.
According to the European Commission press report of October 2, 2007, it is considered to be the world's most powerful solar power plant.
"This plant is a good example of the benefits that renewable sources of energy can bring: it creates jobs, it reduces greenhouse gas emissions and it reduces our foreign energy dependency", said Commissioner Piebalgs after visiting the plant on October 2,2007.
European Commission’s Binding Target for Renewable Sources of Energy
In December 2007, the European Commission will table a framework directive with measures to reach the binding target for Renewable Sources of Energy as agreed by the European Council last March: 20% of Energy Consumption.
For first time, the directive will take into consideration heating and cooling from renewable sources of energy, together with the two traditional sectors, sustainable biofuels and green electricity.

Alternative Energies Photo:Wikipedia
Photovoltaic is one of the technologies that could be used for the production of green electricity.
"These new technologies give Europe a new option to combat climate change and increase energy security while strengthening the competitiveness of the European industrial sector and creating jobs and growth", said Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs, on the occasion of the inauguration of the plant.

Facts on Concentrating Solar Power

PS10 is an example of so-called Concentrating Solar Power plants which use solar radiation as a high-temperature energy source to produce electricity via concentrating heliostats in a thermodynamic cycle. The need for Concentrating Solar Power technology arises because solar radiation reaches the Earth's surface with a density that is adequate for heating systems but not for an efficient thermodynamic cycle for electricity production.
The potential contribution of Concentrating Solar Power plants to a more sustainable energy system has still to be fully exploited. The EU has been supporting the Concentrating Solar Power (CPS) sector for more than ten years facilitating efforts to research, develop, validate, demonstrate and disseminate the performance of these technologies in both the public and private sector.
Under the Fifth and Sixth Framework Programmes for Research, the EU has contributed with some ?25 million to research projects working to develop CSP technologies.
This contribution has had a multiplying effect by leveraging a large amount of additional private investment worth several hundred million Euro, in a ratio of about ?10 for each Euro invested by the European research programme.
Research, technological development and demonstration of a new generation of renewable energy technologies has an essential role to play in meeting growing energy demand and allowing Concentrating Solar Power technologies to become another EU success story.
For more information: http://ec.europa.eu/energy/res/sectors/csp_diss_en.htm
Global Wind Energy Markets Exceed 2006 Expectations
Industry delivered 32% of annual market growth: The booming wind energy markets around the world exceeded expectations in 2006, with the sector experiencing yet another record year. These figures, which include wind energy developments in more than 70 countries around the world, show that the year saw the installation of 15,197 megawatts (MW), taking the total installed wind energy capacity to 74,223 MW, up from 59,091 MW in 2005.
On the day of the publication of the 4th Assessment Report on Climate Change by the IPCC, the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) released its annual figures for 2006. These figures, which include wind energy developments in more than 70 countries around the world, show that the year saw the installation of 15,197 megawatts (MW), taking the total installed wind energy capacity to 74,223 MW, up from 59,091 MW in 2005.
Despite constraints facing supply chains for wind turbines, the annual market for wind continued to increase at the staggering rate of 32% following the 2005 record year, in which the market grew by 41%. This development shows that the global wind energy industry is responding fast to the challenge of manufacturing at the required level, and manages to deliver sustained growth.
In terms of economic value, the wind energy sector has now become firmly installed as one of the important players in the energy markets, with the total value of new generating equipment installed in 2006 reaching ?18 billion, or US$23 billion.
The countries with the highest total installed capacity are Germany (20,621 MW), Spain (11,615 MW), the USA (11,603 MW), India (6,270 MW) and Denmark (3,136). Thirteen countries around the world can now be counted among those with over 1000 MW of wind capacity, with France and Canada reaching this threshold in 2006.
In terms of new installed capacity in 2006, the US continued to lead with 2,454 MW, followed by Germany (2,233 MW), India (1,840 MW), Spain (1,587 MW), China (1,347 MW) and France (810 MW).
This development shows that new players such as France and China are gaining ground. ?The tremendous growth in 2006 shows that decision makers are starting to take seriously the benefits that wind energy development can bring. However, we must not forget that wind energy is a new technology that needs robust policy frameworks and political commitment to fulfill its full potential,? said Arthouros Zervos, Chairman of GWEC.
Europe is still leading the market with 48,545 MW of installed capacity at the end of 2006, representing 65% of the global total. In 2006, the European wind capacity grew by 19%, producing approximately 100 TWh of electricity, equal to 3.3% of total EU electricity consumption in an average wind year.
While Germany and Spain still represent 50% of the EU market, we are seeing a healthy trend towards less reliance on these two countries. In the EU, 3,755 MW were installed outside of Germany, Spain and Denmark in 2006. In 2002, this figure still stood at only 680 MW, said Christian Kjaer, the European Wind Energy Association?s (EWEA) CEO. The figures clearly confirm that a second wave of European countries is investing in wind power.
Despite the continuing growth in Europe, the general trend shows that the sector is gradually becoming less reliant on a few key markets, and other regions are starting to catch up with Europe. The growth in the European market in 2006 accounted for about half of the total new capacity, down from nearly three quarters in 2004.
Asia has experienced the strongest increase in installed capacity outside of Europe, with an addition of 3,679 MW, taking the continent over 10,600 MW. In 2006, the continent grew by 53% and accounted for 24% of new installations. The strongest market here remains India with over 1,840 MW of new installed capacity, which takes its total figure up to 6,270 MW.
China more than doubled its total installed capacity by installing 1,347 MW of wind energy in 2006, a 70% increase from last year?s figure. This brings China up to 2,604 MW of capacity, making it the sixth largest market world wide. The Chinese market was boosted by the country's new Renewable Energy Law, which entered into force on 1 January 2006.
"Thanks to the Renewable Energy law, the Chinese market has grown substantially in 2006, and this growth is expected to continue and speed up. According to the list of approved projects and those under construction, more than 1,500 MW will be installed in 2007. The goal for wind power in China by the end of 2010 is 5,000 MW, which according to our estimations will already be reached well ahead of time,? said Li Junfeng of the Chinese Renewable Energy Industry Association (CREIA).
North America
22% of the world?s new wind capacity was installed in North America, where the annual market increased by a third in 2005, gaining momentum in both the US and Canada.
For the second year running, the US wind energy industry installed nearly 2,500 MW, making it the country with the most new wind power.
'Strong growth figures in the US prove that wind is now a mainstream option for new power generation,' said Randy Swisher, President of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).
'Wind's exponential growth reflects the nation's increasing demand for clean, safe and domestic energy, and continues to attract both private and public sources of capital. New generating capacity worth US$4 billion was installed in 2006, billing wind as one of the largest sources of new power generation in the country' second only to natural gas' for the second year in a row.'
Canada also had a record year, with the installed capacity more than doubling from 683 MW in 2005 to 1459 MW at the end of 2006. 'Wind energy is an emerging Canadian success story and 2006 will be remembered as the year that our country first began to seriously capture its economic and environmental benefits,' said Robert Hornung, President of the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA). 'Canada's is on the cusp of a wind energy boom as provincial governments are now targeting to have a minimum of 10,000 MW of installed wind energy capacity in place by 2015.'
Africa and Middle East
Growth in the relatively young African and Middle Eastern market picked up considerably in 2006, with 172 MW of new installed capacity, bringing the total up to 441 MW. This represents a 63% growth, and should be seen as a promising signs for future developments. The main countries experiencing growth are Egypt (230 MW, up from 145 MW), Morocco (124 MW, up from 64 MW) and Iran (48 MW, up from 23 MW).
Compared to previous years, the Australian market only experienced slow growth in 2006. "While 2006 saw only 109 MW installed bring total capacity to 817 MW, the Australian market has been given a new lease of life with the introduction of state based renewable energy targets providing a more positive outlook for 2007," said Dominique La Fontaine, CEO of the Australian Wind Energy Association
'As security of energy supply and climate change are ranging high on the political agendas of the world's governments, wind energy has already become a mainstream energy source in many countries around the world. Wind energy is clean and fuel free,which makes it the most attractive solution to the world's energy challenges,' said Arthouros Zervos, Chairman of GWEC.
Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), http://www.gwec.net, is the global forum for the wind energy sector, uniting the wind industry and its representative associations.
The member associations of GWEC operate in more than fifty countries and represent:
  • Over 1,500 companies, organisations and institutions
  • All the world?s major wind turbine manufacturers
  • 99% of the world?s more than 73,000 MW of installed wind power capacity
The following organisations are Members of the GWEC Board:
  • Acciona Energ'a
  • Airtricity
  • Associazione Nazionale Energia del Vento (ANEV)
  • Australian Wind Energy Association (AusWind)
  • American Wind Energy Association (AWEA)
  • Bundesverband Windenergie (BWE)
  • Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA)
  • Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association (CREIA)
  • European Wind Energy Association (EWEA)
  • Gamesa
  • Garrad Hassan
  • GE Wind Energy
  • Hansen Transmissions
  • Iberdrola
  • Indian Wind Turbine Manufacturers Association (IWTMA)
  • Japanese Wind Energy Association (JWEA)
  • LM Glasfiber
  • Nordex AG
  • Renewable Energy Systems (RES)
  • Shell WindEnergy
  • Siemens Wind
  • Suzlon Energy
  • Vestas Wind Systems
NREL's R&D projects in concentrating solar power focus on parabolic trough solar technology and advanced concentrating solar power technologies. We also support the U.S. Department of Energy in its concentrating solar power deployment efforts.

Parabolic Trough Solar Technology

Parabolic trough solar technology is a proven, robust, and reliable power source for large, utility-scale power plants. In addition to proven performance, the main advantages of parabolic troughs include:
  • Manufacturing simplicity
  • Use of standard equipment and improvements
  • Improvement in cost effectiveness
  • Low technical and financial risk to the investor.
Despite its advantages, parabolic trough solar technology is not yet cost competitive in today's energy market. However, the technology has great potential for cost reduction. NREL works not only to improve parabolic trough technology but also to increase its cost effectiveness through the following R&D projects:

Advanced Concentrating Solar Power Technologies

NREL's research and development in advanced concentrating solar power technologies includes the following crosscutting projects that aren't tied to a single concentrating solar power technology:

Concentrating Solar Power System Deployment

NREL currently supports the following U.S. Department of Energy concentrating solar power system deployment efforts:

How Much It Will Cost to Power An House With Solar Energy?

Solar panel systems initial cost is higher than classic gas or electric systems. Most homeowners and homebuilders choose conventional systems for that treason.
But that doesn’t mean that today’s solar power systems aren’t cost competitive. The option may be environmental, but also economical.
As natural gas, fuel and electricity becomes more and more costly, solar become more and more advantageous.
A recent study undertaken by Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), a research institute of the University of Central Florida, found that solar water heaters offered great savings. Annual costs are 50% to 85% lower for solar water heather than those for electric water heaters.
In today's USA market the average price of an active solar hot water system is around $2,500-$4,000 per home (or half of that for systems without circulating pumps and controls).
Besides, there are also local finance incentives and tax credits which may reduce sharply the final cost and consequently the payback period.


You can recover your initial investment on solar power systems in a short period, or in a much longer one... It depends on the type of solar power system.
The payback period for solar hot water systems is usually short: 3 or 4 years, in some cases.
The payback period for solar space heating varies a lot, depending on the type of system: see Costs and Payback of Solar Space Heating
The payback period for PV solar electricity is larger: 8 - 10 years or more. It all depends on eventual rebates, tax credits, home insulation or on the scale of production...
Remember: the payback period may vary, but after it the energy costs are nearly zero...
Costs and Payback of Solar Space Heating
In the case of solar space heating, costs may vary widely. The simplest solutions (solar wall heaters) are relatively inexpensive, say, $700 - $1000 per collector/room. But they have a restricted set of uses; they can be a good solution for heating a room or as an auxiliary heating device, and just that.
Other active solar space-heating systems demand a much higher initial investment. They are more sophisticated in design and maintenance than solar water-heating systems, and demand a higher investment in collectors and hardware. With today’s technology they aren’t as cost-effective as the solar water-heating systems and they have a longer payback: two or three years more at least.
Climate is another major element in cost-evaluation of solar space systems. These systems are obviously more cost-effective in climates with extended heating seasons and many sunny days. If you live in a state as Florida, with short heating seasons, the system becomes less interesting and less competitive…
See also:
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