Globally, over 70GW of solar power is installed and over 250GW of wind energy. In the past five years, the U.S. has added more renewable energy than coal and nuclear power. Grid energy storage is forecasted to grow from $3 billion to $160 billion annually in the next five years.
Sunlight dances on the roof of the world’s largest net zero building. At the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) headquarters in the foothills of the Colorado Rocky Mountains, 1,325 people work in a building that generates as much energy as it is consumed. A vast parking structure is covered with solar power. The parking structure includes 36 electric vehicle charge stations that charge with solar energy.
“The electric car doesn’t do any good because it’s just powered by coal” gets repeated by the oil industry, by news pundits who ignore fact checking, and even by some environmentalists. I have yet to meet an electric car driver or fleet manager who only uses coal power. In the United States, 36 states have utility scale wind power.
Environmentally concerned car buyers worry that that switching to an electric vehicle does not help. They are concerned that instead of using one fossil fuel, petroleum, another will be used, coal. Many electric vehicles are three times more efficient than vehicles that run on gasoline. Mitsubishi Motors, an early leader in electric vehicles, estimates EV efficiency at 67 percent instead of 30 percent for a hybrid-electric and 15 percent for a normal gasoline vehicle.
REC Solar has teamed with GE Energy Industrial Solutions, a leading supplier of power generation and energy delivery technologies, to distribute the GE WattStation™ electric vehicle (EV) charger. The partnership signals the movement toward the inevitable collision of two rapidly growing sustainability movements – solar and electric vehicles – for a cleaner, more secure world.
According to the most recent issue of the “Monthly Energy Review” by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), with data through June 30, 2011, renewable energy has passed another milestone as domestic production is now significantly greater than that of nuclear power and continues to close in on oil. During the first half of 2011, renewable energy sources (biomass & biofuels, geothermal, solar, water, wind) provided 4.687 quadrillion Btus of energy or 12.25% of U.S. energy production. By comparison, renewables accounted for 11.05% of domestic production during the first half of 2010 and 10.50% during the first half of 2009.
Chevron Technology Ventures launched an enhanced oil recovery (EOR) demonstration project to test using solar energy to produce oil. The 29MW project uses BrightSource technology including 7,644 mirrors to focus the sun’s energy onto a solar boiler. The steam produced is injected into oil reservoirs to increase oil production. The project is the largest of its kind in the world.
The movie Sideways added to the fame of the central coast of California with rolling hills covered with live oak, dramatic cliffs descending to the Pacific Ocean, and grapes harvested for premium wines. For electric car drivers, the central coast has another reason for fame. Rabobank, a financial leader in 48 countries and headquartered in the Netherlands, has installed a network of electric car chargers that use the solar power installed on bank branch roofs. The charging network is a perfect match for early adopters of electric cars who prefer to charge with renewable energy.
Ford and SunPower offer a rooftop solar system that will allow Focus Electric owners and other electric car drivers to “Drive Green for Life” by providing customers with enough clean, renewable energy to offset the electricity used to charge the vehicle. The SunPower rooftop solar system will be compatible with the C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid electric vehicle Ford is rolling out in 2012. This pre-configured solution makes solar charging easy for new customers.
Musicians United for Safe Energy (MUSE) to enhance fundraising efforts for disaster relief in Japan and for organizations worldwide promoting safe, non-nuclear energy, is performing a concert with internet access that includes Crosby, Stills & Nash, Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, Jason Mraz, The Doobie Brothers, Tom Morello, John Hall, Kitaro, Jonathan Wilson, Sweet Honey in the Rock. Within the next three decades, all the of our global energy demands can be achieved with zero coal and nuclear power as we replace massive waste with intelligent energy management, replace darkness with energy-efficient lighting, and replace mercury and nuclear poisoning of our children with the power of the sun and the wind.
It takes a lot of electricity to run Dow Jones, one of the world’s largest publishers and information providers. Dow Jones is now generating 3.6 MW of its own electricity with Solaire Generation Solar Parking Canopies. The Arizona VA Hospital is installing 2.9 MW of solar panels from Kyocera and REC Group covering several parking lots. Live from Intersolar Conference.
Germany is going to make it to the age of renewables and will be ending its use of nuclear power in 10 years. The last nuclear plant will close in 2022; 7 are already closed. Energy efficiency programs will reduce electricity from primary energy sources by 50 percent by 2050. Solar, wind, and other renewables will meet 35% of Germany’s needs by 2020.
Renault has received orders for 100,000 of its Renault Fluence Z.E. electric car from Better Place. These electric vehicles are zero emission from battery to wheels, but each car does contribute to tons of CO2 emission over its lifetime. With a stunning 55 MW Trina Solar parking structure, Renault will cut CO2 emissions by 30,000 tons a year.
The cleanest solutions to global warming, air pollution and energy security are wind, water, and solar power (WWS). As Dr. Mark Jacobson walks me through the numbers of his, Dr. Mark Delucchi, and their teams’ multi-year study, the renewable energy solution stands out as the clear winner. Wind power has been doubling in capacity about every three years. It’s now over 200 GW; in 3 years it will be over 400 GW. 36 U.S. states generate enough wind power to replace one or more coal or nuclear power plants.
In this decade, installed solar will drop to half its current cost. Such cost reductions will take more than lower costs of silicon panels and thin-film. Process, policy, right size, right place, interconnects, hybrid systems, and market solutions are now key for cost reduction. With progress in these 14 areas solar costs will approach grid parity in more locations.