SingularityHub tells us in the next 20 years, between 50% to 100% of the world’s energy production could come from solar. The site observes: “We are on the cusp of a solar revolution where the cost of solar cells will plummet, efficiency will rise dramatically, and the incentives for widespread adoption will become compelling.”  This is part 1 or a two part series on the changes underway in solar energy technology. Part 1 discusses a new material called perovskite which has several advantages over traditional silicon-based solar cells, the most important being its cost. ” Estimates suggest that perovskite solar panels could cost just 10 to 20 cents per watt, compared to 75 cents per watt for traditional silicon based panels — anywhere from 3X to 8X cost savings — making solar panels much more affordable for the average consumer.”

Currently 24 countries produce geothermal energy. Some expect this number to expand to some 80 countries in the foreseeable future.  The 8 largest geothermal producers are: US (3.5 gigawatts – GW); Philippines (1.9 GW); Indonesia (1.4 GW); Mexico (1 GW); New Zealand (970 megawatts – MW); Italy (940 MW); Iceland (660 MW); and Kenya (600 MW).  Note: 1 GW is the size of a typical nuclear reactor.

China intends to triple its electricity generated by wind power by 2030. A report by GlobalData says wind power installed capacity in the Asian country will increase from approximately 149 gigawatts (GW) in 2015 to over 495 GW by 2030. China has the highest wind power capacity globally by far, accounting for a third of cumulative wind power capacity worldwide in 2015. GlobalData says government policies that include attractive subsidies to wind producers and the availability of low-cost financing from government banks are the main reasons for the success of the Chinese wind power market. However, China’s wind sector faces the key problem of its increasing inability to accommodate the rapid surge in the number of wind turbines in remote areas due to its underdeveloped electrical grid. Its northern provinces of Inner Mongolia, Jilin, Heilongjiang, Gansu, Ningxia and Xinjiang have been affected the most.

Japan now has more electric car charging stops than petrol stations, according to a recent survey by automaker, Nissan. The company says there are now 40,000 public EV recharging stations compared with some 35,000 stations to buy gasoline and diesel. This compares to the US where there are only 9,000 public EV charging stations versus 114,500 petrol stations. Japan has heavily subsidized not only the purchase of EVs but also the infrastructure to recharge them.

Singapore plans to create 2000 electric car charging points for an island-wide electric car-sharing program. The program would see the introduction of up to 1,000 EVs and a trial of electric-car-sharing services. Currently there are over 100 charging points in commercial and residential buildings and in public spaces to handle the city-state’s 120 electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

UK electric car owners will be able to sell electricity back to the grid according to a new plan developed by Nissan. Using special charging points, the country’s National Grid will be able to draw electricity from car batteries at peak times as it tries to balance supply and demand. The cars will be recharged at night when there is a surplus of electricity and rates are low. Nissan and power group Enel are planning 100 “vehicle to grid” points across the UK.  Nissan said if all of its 18,000 electric cars in the UK were connected at once, their combined electricity output would be the same as a 180 magawatt power station.

The Cayman Islands in the Caribbean has 13 EV charging stations for its fleet of 40 EVs. Next year the number of charging stations is expected to rise to 18 and the number of EVs will rise to over 50. Most of the EV stations offer recharging for free.

The 40-year oil boom that made the US state of Alaska one of the nation’s richest states is over. Not only have petroleum prices crashed, but Alaska’s supply of crude is running out. Thirty years ago the state was pumping 2 million barrels per day, a quarter of all US output. Alaska’s output has now fallen to 500,000 b/d. With oil revenues evaporating,  Alaska is facing a $4 billion government budget deficit.

Removing coal as a source of electricity generation in Germany won’t come cheap. A new study by the Institute of Energy Economics at the University of Cologne estimates that eliminating the use of coal-fired plants between 2020 and 2045 will cost the country €71.6 billion ($81.7 billion). Most of these costs will arise from switching from cheap coal to more expensive natural gas.



with h/t Tom Whipple

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