Tokyo drive for renewable energy expected

Following the devastating Tsunami in Japan earlier this year, Tokyo is expected to announce a major push for renewables as public confidence in nuclear power dwindles.

Reports suggest that Japan will aim for a 15 fold increase in the use of solar power by 2030. One idea is that every new building will have to incorporate solar panels by 2030.

Japan was the world’s third biggest user of nuclear power before the ‘quakes.

And it’s not just the Japanese government stepping forward. Big business leaders are also joining the renewables cause with one billionaire president planning to invest over 3 trillion yen (which equals over $36 billion dollars) of its sales revenue in solar power (source Reuters).

Perhaps other countries (including the UK) should take note and not wait for a national disaster before starting similar programmes of mass renewable installation.

photo credit: francois rejete

Selling solar energy to the masses

Kirsten Korosec at Bnet.com wrote a very interesting piece a couple of weeks ago about American big DIY outlets previous unsuccessful attempts to sell solar equipment.

One of the main problems she reckons is the upfront cost of such a system still putting many homeowners off.

And it’s understandable. Although more and more homeowners are installing solar energy systems and reaping the rewards of cheaper energy bills and revenue from Government tariffs, many more still see solar as a ‘fringe’ energy source.

However a new scheme is going to be piloted whereby the DIY stores will not only sell the hardware, but also be able to arrange the finance and provide other options like leasing the equipment – similar to ‘rent-a-roof’schemes in the UK where the installation is free, but the tariff payments go to the company rather than the homeowner.

The homeowner just benefits from the lower energy bills and the knowledge they’re reducing the own homes CO2 emissions.

Like Solar Panel Quoter – instant online quotes for photovoltaic (electricity) and hot water solar systems, the American ‘trial’ will see visitors to the stores able to input their own property and the software ‘map’ a potential customers house.

It’s hoped the system will include indicators of how much energy they’re currently using, what their current daily spend on “dirty energy” is and how much less that would be with a solar system installed.

It’s a brave move and I’m sure that if it works well enough, then it could herald the start of similar schemes in the UK.

To be able to arrive at a point where the homeowner states how much capital they’re able to invest in a solar panel installation and the solar leasing companies be able to work out a proportionate amount of tariff payments to the homeowner etc must surely be one way forward for the UK’s solar industry?

photo credit: bill rice

Bearded Theory – solar panels in the most unlikeliest of places

Our intrepid Festival go’er – Adam – is just back from the Bearded Theory festival>, which this year was held in the grounds of Kedleston Hall, Derbyshire.

(and yes he did wear his false beard – a Dumbledore creation in vivid purple)

Anyway, knowing my fascination for all things solar, he snapped the above picture – a set of solar panels apparently powering a DJ desk.

Whilst the solar panels wouldn’t have generated enough power for the turntables, let alone the amps, they would have charged a battery up very nicely for a little night-time illumination.

If you’ve got the camping or caravan bug, and have been thinking about solar panels, unfortunately, Solar Panel Quoter is aimed more at domestic and business installations.

But you might try your local Maplins or Caravan seller as they may provide the smaller, complete solar kits for the great outdoors (or festival).

photo credit: Adam.

Storing Solar Energy

It’s all very well thinking about installing solar panels on the roof of your house – all that cheap electricity and the possibility of selling it back to the National Grid for all that lovely ‘Government money’.

But how is all this electricity stored when you’re not using it? Does it just go to waste?

There are two types of system currently available to you.

You can either store the electricity generated for use by yourself when the sun isn’t shining – this is called an off-grid system.

Off-grid systems store generated energy in batteries, for use later on.

A grid connected system is linked directly to the National Grid and any energy over and above what you’re actually using is exported directly. When your panels aren’t generating enough for your needs, your home simply draws the extra off the grid (like it does at present).

Isolated properties can benefit enormously from off-grid systems where there isn’t any mains electricity.

Find the latest renewable energy news on our dedicated renewable energy blog – updated daily – click here to visit it now.

photo credit: mike schinkel

African residents could see first electricity thanks to solar

Africa’s green future…

Maureen McHale reports that plans are afoot to bring solar energy to residents across Africa.

With some villagers having never seen electricity in their villages, the implications of introducing cheap energy for powering lighting, microwaves and televisions or radios becomes apparent.

Now add to that the possibility of being able to power fridges and other basic equipment at health centres – even water pumps and the true usefulness is obvious.

And as Maureen reports, with only 5% to 20% of Africans (excluding Egypt and S Africa) having direct access to electricity, a small change can make a big difference.

Investment continues to rise in Africa’s sustainable energy programmes – in 2005 just $200 million was invested compared to $2.5 billion in 2009.

It’s a fascinating story of two businessmen’s dreams of bringing cheap renewable energy to Africa – read the full report here.

photo credit: steve evans

Free solar panel venture for industrial premises announced

Renewable News reported how a UK company, previously known for installing industrial scale wind turbines on commercial buildings is going to be offering solar panels installations ‘free-of-charge’.

The news will be welcome to any business that has looked at reducing energy overheads but lacked the finance to install their own solar system.

Solar Power Direct aims to target roofs in excess of 4,000 square metres.

Read the full report by Renewable News by clicking here.

photo credit: seier seier

Pyramids, Camels and solar panels….


Egypt, more known for it’s historical landmarks is planning to put itself on the modern map by building a 100MW solar power plant.

The plans due to be started in 2012 and finished by 2017 would see the country become one of the foremost generators of solar energy in North Africa.

This development also ties in with Egypt’s plans to become a major exporter of electricity to Europe as part of the Desertec initiative.

If cruising down the Nile is more your thing, then you’ll be interested to know that there are also plans to install several large wind turbine sites along the banks of the Nile – it being identified as an area of sustained wind levels making it a perfect location.

There’s some very impressive figures quoted in Business Greens full report – click here to read the full article.

photo credit: daveness_98

Irish solar panel firm partners with Fiat


From the Emerald Isle comes news that SolarPrint – an energy technology company has just signed a deal with Fiat to develop solar panels for their cars.

The panels will be incorporated into the vehicle roofs, to generate alternative fuel sources.

According to Inside Ireland, The new “smart roof” will incorporate low cost photo voltaic (PV) – or solar – cells and lithium batteries that will in turn be used to power on board devices in cars.

The 3million euro project also involves other european companies.

Read more about the deal and how Fiat see the “smart roof” working in production models by clicking here.

photo credit: hugo90

After the Party


At the time of writing this, Glastonbury looms on the weekend horizon – lets hope the rain stays away this year – to do battle with the World Cup (particularly England’s game on Sunday) and of course Wimbledon reaches the half way stage.

But what happens after the ‘party’? Once everyone’s gone home, back to their usual everyday lives, what grabs our attention – what fills our days?

I think it’s a bit like that with Solar Energy and the recent feed-in tariffs announced.

There was a lot of build up and I mean a lot of comment and anticipation, there was the launch date and then…. well not much it seems. At least not in my neighbourhood.

The web seems not only full of stories of solar installation companies being busy, but also of reports of homeowners being given false information by unscrupulous installers and shoddy installations.

But I don’t see a lot of evidence of massive installations on my travels around Derbyshire. In fact I don’t think I’ve seen one more house with solar panels on it than before April.

So what’s stopping people or are they really not aware of what a good installation can offer them?

The Government announced last week that it’s planning to scrap a load of ‘under-performing’ websites after reviewing current web activity and realising they’d spent over £94 million on 46 websites with an additional cost of £32 million in staffing costs for 2009-2010 alone.

One website they could do with keeping, or at least improving is one on advising homeowners on green energy and spelling out exactly how much a solar system could cost, and how long it will take a homeowner to recoup their investment after feed-in tariffs and installation grants have been taken into account.

This, to me anyway, seems to be the biggest hurdle to mass take up by homeowners of solar energy. We all know it’s good, we just don’t know how much it’s going to cost us.

One cost you can get for yourself is a quote on an installation – photovoltaic or hot water solar system – from Solar Panel Quoter.co.uk. A free online resource that afterwards, if you choose to, can put you in touch with reputable local solar panel installers near you.

photo credit: infrogmation

But the sun never shines at Glastonbury


Spotted on This is Bristol was this story about Glastonbury Festival founder Michael Eavis renewable energy effort.

In what will become Britain’s biggest privately owned solar farm, the project will see more than 1,100 panels, weighing 22.5 tons, installed on a specially re-inforced barn roof.

He expects the system to pay for itself in 6 years, through the feed-in tariffs as well as reducing his own energy bills.

In a recent call for all outdoor festivals to become greener, you may be interested to know that the Festival organisers have already bought all the used chip shop oil they can which will be used to power the onsite generators.

It’s a fascinating story and illustrates what you can achieve with solar energy if you’ve got a roof big enough.

Click here to read the full article now.

photo credit: foxypar4