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China Tests Technology that Could Beam Solar Power from Space to Earth

Chinese researchers have successfully tested a full-system model of technology that could one day wirelessly transmit solar power from outer space to Earth.

A model power station at Xidian University in Shaanxi province captures sunlight high above the ground and converts it into microwave beams. It then transmits through the air to a receiver station on the ground, where it can be converted back to electricity. While the model only sends the energy 55 meters through the air, the researchers hope the technology could one day be expanded to send power from orbiting solar panels to Earth.

The research team behind it recently conducted tests in front of a panel of outside experts, who verified its success on June 5, the university said in a press release.

The promise of solar power from space is that it would eliminate the clean energy technology’s biggest drawback — not being able to operate in darkness — by putting the panels in orbit where they can evade Earth’s shadow.

China isn’t the only country looking into the technology. Researchers at the California Institute of Technology launched a space solar program after a $100 million grant in 2013. Researchers in India, Russia, the UK and France are also exploring possibilities, and Japan is particularly advanced in the field, according to Xidian. While individual components of solar-from-space technology have been tested before, the Chinese researchers are the first to successfully test a full-system model, Xidian said.


Source : Business Standard

Infographic: Solar and Wind Power by Country

See large image . . . . . .

Source : Visual Capitalist

Infographic: Solar Power by Country in 2021

See large image . . . . . .

Source : Visual Capitalist

中國国家能源局关于2021年风电、光伏发电开发建设有关事项的通知

各省(自治区、直辖市)能源局,有关省(自治区、直辖市)及新疆生产建设兵团发展改革委,各派出机构,国家电网、南方电网、内蒙古电力公司、电规总院、水电总院,各有关企业,各有关行业协会(学会、商会):

  2021年是“十四五”开局之年,风电、光伏发电进入新发展阶段。为持续推动风电、光伏发电高质量发展,现就2021年风电、光伏发电开发建设有关事项通知如下:

  一、总体要求

  深入学习贯彻习近平生态文明思想和习近平总书记关于能源安全新战略的重要论述,落实碳达峰、碳中和目标,以及2030年非化石能源占一次能源消费比重达到25%左右、风电太阳能发电总装机容量达到12亿千瓦以上等任务,坚持目标导向,完善发展机制,释放消纳空间,优化发展环境,发挥地方主导作用,调动投资主体积极性,推动风电、光伏发电高质量跃升发展。2021年,全国风电、光伏发电发电量占全社会用电量的比重达到11%左右,后续逐年提高,确保2025年非化石能源消费占一次能源消费的比重达到20%左右。

  二、强化可再生能源电力消纳责任权重引导机制

  按照目标导向和责任共担原则,根据“十四五”规划目标,制定发布各省级行政区域可再生能源电力消纳责任权重和新能源合理利用率目标,引导各省级能源主管部门依据本区域非水电可再生能源电力消纳责任权重和新能源合理利用率目标,积极推动本省(区、市)风电、光伏发电项目建设和跨省区电力交易,确定本省(区、市)完成非水电可再生能源电力最低消纳责任权重所必需的年度新增风电、光伏发电项目并网规模和新增核准(备案)规模,认真组织并统筹衔接做好项目开发建设和储备工作。

  三、建立并网多元保障机制

  建立保障性并网、市场化并网等并网多元保障机制。

  各省(区、市)完成年度非水电最低消纳责任权重所必需的新增并网项目,由电网企业实行保障性并网,2021年保障性并网规模不低于9000万千瓦。保障性并网规模可省际置换,通过跨省区电力交易落实非水电消纳责任权重的,经送、受省份协商并会同电网企业签订长期协议后,根据输送(交易)新能源电量相应调减受端省保障性并网规模并调增至送端省。保障性并网项目由各省级能源主管部门通过竞争性配置统一组织。

  对于保障性并网范围以外仍有意愿并网的项目,可通过自建、合建共享或购买服务等市场化方式落实并网条件后,由电网企业予以并网。并网条件主要包括配套新增的抽水蓄能、储热型光热发电、火电调峰、新型储能、可调节负荷等灵活调节能力。

  四、加快推进存量项目建设

  2020年底前已核准且在核准有效期内的风电项目、2019年和2020年平价风电光伏项目、以及竞价光伏项目直接纳入各省(区、市)保障性并网项目范围。各类存量项目应在规定时限内建成投产,对于超出核准(备案)有效期而长期不建的项目,各省级能源主管部门应及时组织清理,对确实不具备建设条件的,应及时予以废止。

  各省2021年保障性并网规模主要用于安排存量项目。存量项目不能满足今年非水电最低消纳责任权重要求、保障性并网仍有空间的省(区、市),省级能源主管部门应按剩余保障性并网规模抓紧组织开展竞争性配置,确定2021年并网的新增项目,加快核准(备案),积极推进建设,确保尽早建成投产。

  五、稳步推进户用光伏发电建设

  2021年户用光伏发电项目国家财政补贴预算额度为5亿元,度电补贴额度按照国务院价格主管部门发布的2021年相关政策执行,项目管理和申报程序按照《国家能源局关于2019年风电、光伏发电项目建设有关事项的通知》(国能发新能〔2019〕49号)有关要求执行。在确保安全前提下,鼓励有条件的户用光伏项目配备储能。户用光伏发电项目由电网企业保障并网消纳。

  六、抓紧推进项目储备和建设

  各省级能源主管部门应根据《可再生能源发展“十四五”规划》明确的方向和任务,依据本省(区、市)2022年非水电最低消纳责任权重,确定2022年度保障性并网规模,抓紧组织开展保障性并网项目竞争性配置,组织核准(备案)一批新增风电、光伏发电项目,做好项目储备,推动项目及时开工建设,实现接续发展。

  七、保障措施

  各省级能源主管部门要及时公布保障性并网规模,落实保障性并网和市场化并网项目,及时编制年度开发建设方案并抓紧组织实施。要优化营商环境,规范开发建设秩序,不得将配套产业作为项目开发建设的门槛。要督促地方落实项目建设条件,推动出台土地、财税和金融等支持政策,减轻新能源开发建设不合理负担,调动各类市场主体投资积极性。要加大与自然资源、林业草原、生态环境、住房建设等部门的协调,为风电、光伏发电项目开发建设创造有利条件。

  电网企业要简化接网流程、方便接网手续办理,推广新能源云平台,实现全国全覆盖,服务新能源为主体的新型电力系统。要加强接网工程建设,确保纳入年度开发建设方案的保障性并网和市场化并网项目“能并尽并”,不得附加额外条件。要会同全国新能源消纳监测预警中心及时公布各省级区域并网消纳情况及预测分析,引导理性投资、有序建设。

  发电企业对纳入年度开发建设方案的项目,要按照核准(备案)文件要求,及时组织开展项目建设。要加强工程质量管控,确保建设安全和生产安全。要及时在国家可再生能源发电项目信息管理平台填报并按月更新项目信息。

  国家可再生能源信息管理中心要按月统计项目信息并报国家能源局,抄送各省级能源主管部门和相关派出机构。

  国家能源局将加强可再生能源电力消纳责任权重落实情况监测评估,引导和促进风电、光伏发电开发建设。各派出机构要加强对辖区内风电、光伏发电规划落实、项目竞争性配置、电网送出工程建设、项目并网消纳等事项的监管,按要求组织开展清洁能源消纳情况综合监管,保障风电、光伏发电开发建设运行规范有序。


Source : 国家能源局

‘Insanely Energy’: How Solar Power Continues to Shock the World

Royce Kurmelovs wrote . . . . . . . . .

In the year 2000, the International Energy Agency (IEA) made a prediction that would come back to haunt it: by 2020, the world would have installed a grand total of 18 gigawatts of photovoltaic solar capacity. Seven years later, the forecast would be proven spectacularly wrong when roughly 18 gigawatts of solar capacity were installed in a single year alone.

Ever since the agency was founded in 1974 to measure the world’s energy systems and anticipate changes, the yearly World Energy Outlook has been a must-read document for policymakers the world over.

Over the last two decades, however, the IEA has consistently failed to see the massive growth in renewable energy coming. Not only has the organisation underestimated the take-up of solar and wind, but it has massively overstated the demand for coal and oil.

Jenny Chase, head of solar analysis at BloombergNEF, says that, in fairness to the IEA, it wasn’t alone.

“When I got this job in 2005, I thought maybe one day solar will supply 1% of the world’s electricity. Now it’s 3%. Our official forecast is that it will be 23% by 2050, but that’s completely underestimated,” Chase says.

“I see it as the limits of modelling. Most energy system models are, or were, set up to model minor changes to an energy system that is run on fossil fuel or nuclear. Every time you double producing capacity, you reduce the cost of PV solar by 28%.

“We’ve got to the point where solar is the cheapest source of energy in the world in most places. This means we’ve been trying to model a situation where the grid looks totally different today.”

This rapid radical reduction in the price of PV solar is a story about Chinese industrial might backed by American capital, fanned by European political sensibilities and made possible largely thanks to the pioneering work of an Australian research team.

The deep history begins with a succession of US presidents and the quest for energy independence. First was Richard Nixon, who in November 1973 announced Project Independence to wean the US off Middle Eastern oil. Then came Jimmy Carter, who declared the energy transition the “moral equivalent of war” in April 1977 and pumped billions of dollars into renewable energy research, which came to a screeching halt when Ronald Reagan came to power.

But by then, interest had been piqued in Australia.

The father of PV solar

The solar cell was invented when Russell Shoemaker Ohl, a researcher in Bell Labs, noticed in 1940 that a cracked silicon sample produced a current when exposed to light. However, little improvement had been made until the contribution of Martin Green, a young engineering professor working out of the University of New South Wales.

Born in Brisbane, Green had spent some time in Canada as a researcher before circling back home in 1974. A year later he had started a PV solar research group working out of a small university laboratory built with unwanted equipment scrounged from big American engineering firms.

His first experiments, alongside a single PhD student, involved looking for ways to increase the voltage on early solar cells.

“Pretty soon, we started beating all these groups in the US in terms of the voltage we could get,” Green says. “Nasa had a project that had six contractors working on it. We beat them all.”

Not long after, Green and his team began to raise their ambitions. Having boosted the voltage, the next step was building better quality cells. Their early efforts broke the world efficiency record in 1983 – a habit the team would continue for 30 of the next 38 years.

In the very early years of the industry, the received wisdom had been that a 20% conversion rate marked the hard limit of what was possible from PV solar cells. Green, however, disagreed in a paper published in 1984.A year later, his team built the first cell that pushed past that limit, and in 1989 built the first full solar panel capable of running at 20% efficiency.

It was a moment that opened up what was possible from the industry, and the new upper limit was “set” at 25% – another barrier Green and his team would smash in 2008. In 2015, they built the world’s most efficient solar cell, achieving a 40.6% conversion rate using focused light reflected off a mirror.

Rise of the Sun King

Out of this whirlwind of activity, the Chinese solar industry would be born largely thanks to an ambitious physicist named Zhengrong Shi.

Born in 1963 on Yangzhong Island, Shi had earned his master’s degree and come to Australia a year before the Tiananmen Square protests. He had spotted a flyer advertising a research fellowship and talked Green into bringing him on as a PhD student in 1989.

Shi would finish his PhD in just two and a half years – a record that still stands today. By the time he became Dr Shi, he had so impressed Green that he stayed on as a researcher.

With time, the university was increasingly looking to commercialise its world-leading solar cell technology and struck up a partnership with Pacific Power in 1995. The government utility sank $47m into a new company called Pacific Solar. A factory was set up in the Sydney suburb of Botany and Shi was made the deputy director of research and development where he quickly earned a reputation for resourcefulness and precision.

“Zhengrong basically ran the company,” Green says.

Shi stuck it out for a few years but in November 2000, he was made an offer. At a dinner held at his home, four officials from the Chinese province of Jiangsu suggested the 37-year-old researcher and Australian citizen return to China and build his own factory there. After some consideration, Shi agreed and ended up settling in the small city of Wuxi where he founded SunTech with $6m in start-up funding from the municipal government.

Shi’s arrival caused a stir. The ability to cheaply build conventional PV solar panels with 17% efficiency was far beyond what his competitors were capable of.

“That was a shock to them,” Shi says. “When they saw we were making solar cells of large area and high efficiencies they said, ‘wow’.

“The first reaction was: that’s the future. Everybody said that’s the future. But they also said it was one step too early. What they meant was that there was no market for it yet. In China at the time, if you mentioned solar, people thought of solar hot water.”

All that would change when Germany passed new laws encouraging the uptake of solar power. Quickly it became clear there was a massive global demand and the world’s manufacturers were struggling to keep up with supply.

Spying an opportunity for investment, a consortium that included Actis Capital and Goldman Sachs came knocking to pitch Shi on taking the company public. When the company listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 2005, it raised $420m and made Shi an instant billionaire. A year later he would be worth an estimated $3bn and crowned the richest man in China, earning him the moniker “the Sun King”.

Having shown the way, the Chinese PV solar industry began a massive expansion. SunTech alone boosted its production capacity from 60 megawatts to 500MW, and then to 1 gigawatt in 2009. The company grew so fast, its supplies of glass, polysilicon and electronic systems needed to build its panels came under strain, forcing it to invest heavily in local supply chains.

“And then, you know the rest,” Shi says.

Dirt cheap power – at a price

As with the rest of China, the rate of technological development in the PV solar business makes for an industry that builds itself up one day, tears itself down the next, and then remakes itself again the day after. With razor-thin margins and cut-throat competition, everyone is always one step away from falling.

Around 2012 the world market was flooded with solar panels, sending the price plummeting through the floor, leaving SunTech vulnerable. Already under intense financial pressure, disaster struck when an internal investigation found a takeover bid it had launched had been guaranteed by €560m in fake German government bonds.

Upon discovering the bonds didn’t exist, Shi was removed as CEO of his company and a year later SunTech would file for bankruptcy protection when it couldn’t repay a $541m loan that fell due in March 2013.

Whatever befell SunTech later, the Macquarie University emeritus professor John Mathews says the company played a pivotal role in changing both China and the world forever.

In a quirk of history, what had begun as an American drive to wean itself off oil was eventually taken up by China, which made solar power dirt cheap in the process.

“The Chinese approach to renewables is all about energy security,” Mathews says. “At the scale from which they’re building new industries, they would need colossal imports of conventional fossil fuels, which would cripple them economically.

“They can get around that problem, which is a geopolitical obstacle, by manufacturing their own energy equipment.”

Today Green and Shi keep in touch. Both are working on new projects. Shi is overseeing a new company while 72-year-old Green is looking for new innovations to explore.

One such innovation is the stackable solar cell. Though still a niche technology very much in the early stages, the basic idea is to lay a material over a solar cell in order to boost its power output.

“We think a 40% module, rather than the 22% you can do nowadays with PERC, is what the industry will be doing once we perfect this stacking approach,” Green says. “We’re just trying to find a new cell that will have all the qualities of silicon that we can stack on top of silicon.

“The International Energy Agency now says solar is providing the cheapest energy the world has ever seen. But we’re headed towards a future of insanely cheap energy.

“It’s a fundamentally different world we’re moving into.”


Source : The Guardian

Solar Pushes Aside Coal as the Favorite Fuel for Power, IEA Says

William Mathis and Jeremy Hodges wrote . . . . . . . . .

Renewables are set to overtake coal this decade as the world’s favorite fuel to generate electricity, the International Energy Agency says.

Solar photovoltaics are now cheaper than plants fired by coal and natural gas in most nations, the Paris-based researchers concludes in its annual report on global energy trends. Those cheaper costs along with government efforts to slash climate-damaging emissions will increasingly push coal off the grid and give renewables 80% of the market for new power generation by 2030, the IEA says.

The findings mark a profound shift away from fossil fuels in the world’s energy supply at a time when governments everywhere are looking for ways to rein in the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming. While hydro-electric plants will continue to be the biggest source of renewable power, solar is catching up quickly because the cost of manufacturing and installing panels has come down so much.

“I see solar becoming the new king of the world’s electricity markets,” Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA, says in a statement with the report on Tuesday. “Based on today’s policy settings, it’s on track to set new records for deployment every year after 2022.”

The IEA’s projections are based on what it calls the Stated Policies Scenario, which assumes Covid-19 is gradually brought under control next year and the global economy returns to levels seen before the outbreak. The scenario includes currently announced policy intentions and targets that the IEA considers to be backed up by detailed measures for the plans to be enacted.

Goodbye to Coal

It also anticipates natural gas demand slowly easing in developed nations, especially Europe, and coal dropping everywhere. About 275 gigawatts of coal-fired capacity worldwide, 13% of the 2019 total, will be shut off by 2025, mostly in the U.S. and European Union. That will more than offset increases in coal demand in developing economies in Asia.

Coal’s share of the global power supply is set to fall to 28% in 2030 from 37% in 2019. By 2040, the fuel that once was a staple of utilities will fall below 20% for the first time since the industrial revolution, the IEA concludes. That decline could be even sharper if governments pick up the pace on decarbonization.

Potential Gridlock

The assumptions require a massive investment in power grids, which need upgrades to absorb supply from more diverse sources that only work when the sun shines or the wind blows.

Investment to modernize, expand and digitize the grid will need to reach $460 billion in 2030, two thirds more than the cost last year. That spending will help roll out 2 million kilometers of new transmission lines and 14 million kilometers of distribution networks, 80% more than was added in the last 10 years, according to the IEA.


Source : BNN Bloomberg