Solar and wind power reinvented: latest news
Jun 07, 2017 Dr Peter Harrop
Virtually all of the new grid capacity being added in the world is renewable or nuclear nowadays. Solar + Wind met 10% of electricity demand in March 2017 in the USA. Hydro electricity from a wet spring season on the West Coast, which alone provided more than 10% of the nation's electricity, as well as biomass and geothermal power, all renewable energy sources combined met 24% of electric demand in March and if we add in the 20% we get from nuclear power, 44% of electricity demand in the USA was met with non-fossil fuel electrons. Norway and New Zealand have been almost entirely on renewable for some time.
Excitingly, both solar and wind are being reinvented and the new forms are typically pitched as replacements by unimaginative developers but they actually expand the market. They are complementary so existing proponents should not fear the - they should grab them. For example, Airborne Wind Energy is the flying of kites and increasingly tethered drones that tap the winds above conventional wind turbines. These winds have four times the power and are much more consistent so the main potential is to go where conventional wind turbines cannot go - up to four times the potential number of sites and potential land area. The drone versions can even rise through zero wind at ground level to tap the strong stuff. See the new IDTechEx report, Airborne Wind Energy 2017-2027. Solar roads can dynamically charge vehicles off grid and feed local communities off-grid - much more sensible than thinking of them as power station or solar farm replacements. Dynamic charging of vehicles is now advancing rapidly thanks the Qualcomm work in France, KAIST in Korea, TDK in Japan and others.
Edison said, "Make electricity where you need it." Growth of large-scale solar power plants that are located far from the cities has slowed as the transmission infrastructure to move that electricity must be further developed. As such - Installations atop factories, malls and airports are likely to surge sixfold to almost 40 gigawatts by the end of 2020 and 125 gigawatts by 2040. Expect solar roads there too.
JinkoSolar to collaborate with SERIS on new bifacial solar cells - two entities have begun collaborating on the creation of higher efficiency, mass-producible cells with the target of achieving 20% more energy output in outdoor applications compared to conventional silicon solar cells. The argument is that solar cells have become so cheap relative to an overall solar power installation, it is now economically viable to add a second layer of cells that will work at 1/5th the efficiency level of sun facing cells. If a solar system costing $3/W at 16% efficiency makes sense, then an install at $3.20/W will make great sense at 19-20% efficiency. Also consider infrared harvesting from under a vehicle and solar windows in vehicles (IDTechEx report, Electrically Active Smart Glass and Windows 2017-2027) as we progress to more Energy Independent Electric Vehicles EIV. See the IDTechEx reports, Energy Independent Electric Vehicles 2017-2027 and Energy Harvesting for Electric Vehicles 2017-2027 and attend the world's first conference on the subject, Energy Independent Electric Vehicles covering land, water and air. It is at the Technical University of Delft September 27-28 because that is where they have some of the best solar boats, cars and AWE.
Top image: Solar Roadways