Tag Archive | advantages and disadvantages of solar power

Many More Jobs Solar Power Creates Than Coal

This Simple Graphic Shows How Many More Jobs Solar Power Creates Than Coal

In recent weeks, Donald Trump has spoken on several occasions about his desire to revive the coal industry for the sake of preserving and creating jobs. But 2016 data shows shifting focus away from sustainable energy sources back to fossil fuels may preserve the jobs of those in the coal industry, the net effect will ultimately cost America hundreds of thousands of new jobs per year.

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Solar Industry News : Pv Industry Become More Powerful, Especially In China

Solar will be the world’s most popular power source by 2050, that the cost of solar PV technology will fall by 50 percent in the next ten years and  that solar will inevitably be the energy source of the future by 2050, one researcher once said.

Though support through feed-in tariffs has almost disappeared throughout the country, Australians have found that Chinese solar panels are the key to installing affordable domestic solar systems. So much so that well over a million of our households are powered by solar systems.

A remarkable achievement.     However the dive down the cost curve is a two-edged sword according to some analysts. While the availability of affordable panels has driven the “ground up” Australian solar market from consumers, it has also stymied — even destroyed — the output of Australian PV manufacturers of solar panels . This is not just an Australian phenomenon. With looming trade wars over alleged protectionism from countries such as the United States, who aren’t exactly angels when it comes to subsidising their export industries to gain a competitive edge.     Many of course rightly point out the contradiction that China presents when it comes to supporting renewable energy while still being the world’s largest consumer of fossil fuels. The solar will be at the forefront of this technological advance, solar energy is fast becoming more affordable. It is only to be presumed that these savings will be translated to other countries such as Australia who know only too well of the benefit of Chinese solar products.     Chinese solar panel When we look at the year ahead for renewable energy, and try to divine the development of the Australian solar market, one of the first conclusions is the importance of neighbouring countries. I’m talking here of the continued role China plays in solar energy in Australia.     It’s not an exaggeration to say thatbenfeits of solar power,cheap, quality solar panels from China have driven the domestic demand for solar panels in Australia. Despite wide open spaces for solar farms and abundant sun, Australia is lagging behind the rest of the world in renewable energy. We haven’t take your rightful position as one of the leaders in the world in developing large scale renewable energy as we should.     The misconception is that we “punch above our weight” in all issues from international diplomacy, to sporting fixtures, to energy policy. However true this may be for other areas, it lacks credibility when it comes to renewable energy and climate policy. Here we’re content to sit back and allow the world to take the lead, it appearsFree Reprint Articles, with the modest gains of previous governments swept aside.

 

Will We Soon Be Riding on Solar Roads?

The Idea Gains Traction

 Countries—U.S., France, Netherlands—are testing ways to pave roads with solar panels. Their plans have skeptics.
 

Solar is popping up just about everywhere, even landfills and parka pockets. So why not roads? Indeed, solar road projects are gaining interest around the world, and some promise to even charge electric cars while moving.

The Netherlands built the first solar road, a bike path, in 2014. France announced a bolder move in January—over the next five years, it plans to install 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) of solar roads, designed to supply power to five million people.

In fact, on December 22, France opened the world’s first solar road for cars, in a Normandy village. The 0.6-mile route in Tourouvre-au-Perche is covered with 2,800 square meters of electricity-generating solar panels. The goal is powering street lighting.

The project, which cost around 5 million Euros, is expected to be used by about 2,000 motorists a day.

German company Solmove aims to bring solar panels to German roads, and Idaho-based Solar Roadways has received three rounds of U.S. government funding (plus $2 million in venture capital) to test its technology.

“We have interested customers from all 50 states and most countries around the world,” says Julie Brusaw, who co-founded Solar Roadways with her engineer husband Scott. She says before hitting the open road, they’re testing their panels in non-critical areas such as parking lots, walkways, and their own driveway.

“We are in talks about some very interesting projects,” she says, noting the Missouri Department of Transportation wants to install the panels at a rest area along the I-70 highway. The couple say their tempered-glass panels offer asphalt-like traction, support the weight of semi-trucks, include LEDs for signage, and contain heating elements to melt snow and ice.

Could solar panels really pave the roads of the future? Proponents see endless possibilities, but others raise questions about cost, efficiency, and durability.

“We just place our solar panels on an existing pavement,” says Jean-Luc Gautier, inventor of the Wattway technology that will be tested this spring in France before its polycrystalline silicon layer is applied to actual roads. Gautier, technical director at construction company Colas, says he was inspired by the fact that roads look at the sky so they can collect solar energy.

Julie and Scott Bursaw, an Idaho couple who co-founded Solar Roadways, poses in front of a prototype for their solar-embedded pavement.

 

PHOTOGRAPH BY SOLAR ROADWAYS

“The sheer amount of surfaces each country devotes to roadways is enormous,” the Bursaws write on their website. “Allowing this space to double as a solar farm could have very positive implications in the battle to put a halt to climate change.” They estimate that their panels, if used in lieu of existing U.S. roads and walkways, could produce more than three times the electricity used in the United States.

Besides, they say their panels could charge electric vehicles, first on solar parking lots. With enough solar highways and cars with the right equipment (to pick up energy from induction plates in the road) they might even be able to charge vehicles while moving.

THE COST CHALLENGE

“In theory, solar PV roadways sound great. The issue is cost.” says Mark Jacobson, an engineering professor at Stanford University who has promoted a plan for powering the U.S. solely with renewable energy. (Read about his blueprint for a carbon-free America.)

“Aside from road dust, particularly black tire dust and diesel exhaust, which will quickly cover a portion of each panel, the continuous traffic covering panels will reduce their solar output,” says Jacobson, adding they’ll likely suffer more wear and tear and need more repairs than other solar panels.

He also says that while they don’t require land acquisition costs, as do solar power plants, their panels cannot be rotated for optimal solar exposure. He expects a solar road won’t be able to compete on cost, but “I’m hopeful it will.”

“Installing photovoltaics in roads seems like a daft idea at first, “says a report last month byIDTechEx, an independent research and consulting firm. “A closer look reveals that most of the problems are easily overcome and even at poor efficiency, that local electricity has viable uses.”

Despite high costs, company chairman Peter Harrop says solar roads might work in places that are putting down roads for the first time. “They need early (technology) adopters like China that want to leapfrog in development.”

In contrast, “I can’t see solar roads in London,” he says, noting the city often digs up its roads for underground repairs.

So far, the Netherlands’ solar path is popular. In its first year, 300,000 bikes and mopeds rode the initial 70-meter (230-foot) stretch connecting two Amsterdam suburbs. Officials say the SolaRoad produced more energy last year than expected—enough to power three households. It’s made of crystalline silicon solar cells, encased in concrete and covered with a translucent layer of tempered glass.

In the U.S., Solar Roadways has received more than $1.5 million from the Department of Transportation over the last six years to develop and test its hexagonal-shaped panels.

“One of the shortcomings Solar Roadways has yet to resolve is the manufacturing process,” two DOT officials wrote in a December post, noting the solar cells are handmade and thus “very costly” to produce. Julie Bursaw says the company’s most recent prototype is less costly to produce, 25 percent more efficident, and easier to install.

The DOT officials, Michael Trentacoste and Robert C. Johns, say the agency has received “a lot of positive feedback” about the project; the company’s promotional video has 21 million views on YouTube. Because the panels can melt snow or keep water from freezing, even with high costs, they say the innovation “could still be useful in smaller areas such as parking lots, sidewalks, driveways, and bike lanes.”

This story was originally published on March 10, 2016 and was updated on December 22, 2016 with information about the opening of the solar road in France.

The story is part of a special series that explores energy issues. For more, visit The Great Energy Challenge.

On Twitter: Follow Wendy Koch and get more environment and energy coverage at NatGeoEnergy.