by Marina Orhei
MONACO. With their endless expanse of sun-drenched deserts, some countries have the potential to be sunshine super powers, whilst other countries that entirely lie in this wet-humid zone are by far the least favoured in solar power. For instance, Morocco has one the highest rates of solar insolation of any country. The country receives about 3,000 hours of sunshine annually. In the meantime, Dubai (UAE) is looking forward to trouncing the capacity of Morocco, the world’s current record-holder. And so on in alphabetical order…until we will find out how the tiny Principality of Monaco’s shines for the Oceans’ protection with its solar energy projects.
Africa is often considered and referred as the “Sun continent” or the continent where the Sun’s influence is the greatest. According to the “World Sunshine Map”, Africa receives many more hours of bright sunshine during the course of the year than any other continent of the Earth: many of the sunniest places on the planet lie there. Despite the large solar potential, penetration of solar power in Africa’s energy sector is still very low. Future installations for harvesting solar energy in Africa will tend not to be found within the equatorial and subequatorial climate zones, that are located in the western part of Central Africa usually near the equator but that extend as far north and south as the 8th or 9th parallel in both hemispheres, since they are systematically linked with almost permanent cloud cover and only intermittent bright sunshine. Therefore, countries that entirely lie in this wet-humid zone such as the Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi, Liberia and Sierra Leone are perhaps in need of a “breakthrough energy miracle that provides cheap, clean energy for everyone.” as Bill Gates argued recently in his talk at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. “When I say “miracle”, he said, I mean a kind of thing like a computer on a chip, or the Internet, or the cell phone, that are really quite miraculous. Most people would not have predicted them, and their effect has been very, very dramatic. I think all of us expect and count on more miracles.“
In the meantime, many perpetually sunny African nations like Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Morocco, Niger, Sudan, South Africa and Namibia for instance could rely on developing their tremendous solar resources on a large scale thanks to the immense surface of their territory and at reduced prices. Projects called “concentrated solar plants” consist of a large number of movable mirrors that can follow the sun’s path and harness sunlight to melt salt. The molten salt stores energy and can be used to power a steam turbine, allowing for energy production even when the sun isn’t shining. Developing a cutting edge solar technology, the plant is aimed at reducing the African countries’ carbon emissions.
ASIA – MIDWEST
Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park & control-centre compound in DUBAI will be the World’s Largest Concentrated Solar Power Plant. The Dubai Water and Electricity Authority (DEWA) has announced the second phase of a massive solar project located in the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park. The ambitious project is part of the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050, which aims to provide 7 per cent of the emirate’s total power output from clean energy sources by 2020, 25 per cent by 2030 and 75 per cent by 2050, Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, DEWA CEO and managing director, said in a statement.
Construction of the world’s tallest solar tower is underway in ISRAEL. (see photo cover)The 820-foot tower is represented in the post’s cover. It stands in the middle of a 121 Megawatt concentrated solar complex in Israel’s sun-drenched Negev desert, and is slated for commercial operation by the end of 2017. The tower, known as the Ashalim solar project operated by Megalim Solar Power Ltd, is truly an international effort. French engineering firm Alstom is overseeing the construction using parts from California-based BrightSource Energy and Boston-based General Electric.
ASIA – OCEANIA
Many countries in Asia made very strong commitments to join the mitigation and adaptation efforts declared at 2015 COP21 in Paris. Especially CHINA made a clear commitment to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. Renewable energy and energy efficiency are important not only for environmental protection. They also play a part in combating climate change. The past 7 years have witnessed exponential growth in solar energy deployment across Asia and the Pacific. At the end of 2015, solar energy capacity exceeded 75 gigawatt (GW), up from 1 GW in 2010 in the Asia and Pacific region including Australia, Japan, and New Zealand. As for the People’s Republic of China (PRC), it held more than half of the region’s capacity at the end of last year.
In the EU countries solar energy consists of photovoltaic and solar thermal energy. Solar Power, the production of electricity from solar energy, is performed directly, through photovoltaic, or indirectly, using concentrated solar power (CSP). One advantage that CSP has is the ability to add thermal storage and provide power up to 24 hours a day. A joint venture between Sener and Masdar, Torresol Energy has three concentrated solar power plants. In southern sunny SPAIN Gemasolar and Valle 1 & 2 Gemasolar.
There is considerable academic and commercial interest internationally in a new form of CSP, called STEM, for off-grid applications to produce 24-hour industrial scale power for mining sites and remote communities in Italy and other parts of Europe. STEM uses fluidized silica sand as a thermal storage and heat transfer medium for CSP systems. It has been developed by Salerno-based Magaldi Industries, ITALY. The first commercial application of STEM took place in sunny Sicily in 2015 and the Italian project shows strong potential for sand based CSP. In 2010 the ENEL Archimede Central was inaugurated in Priolo Gargallo, Syracuse, Sicily. Over the next 10 years the European solar thermal will grow on average at a rate of 15% per annum. According to the National Renewable Energy Action Plans the total solar thermal capacity in the EU will be 102 GW in 2020 (while 14 GW in 2006). As for FRANCE, currently the country generates about 75% of its electricity from nuclear power, but it has been reported that figure could decline to 50% by 2025. Especially due to the intermittent bright sunshine and to poor financing support, in many European countries the solar thermal market is still in its infancy. Some have extremely low targets in their plans or have not included solar thermal in their national plans at all. But a quiet revolution in renewable energy is going on across Europe. An international power grid is gradually developing, using power interconnectors to trade surplus energy across national electricity networks, allowing big wind power producers in Northern Europe, for example DENMARK, GREAT BRITAIN and NORWAY to trade electricity with large solar energy generators in Southern Europe.
Lodged between the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean is the Atacama Desert in CHILE, the driest non-polar desert in the world. Valhalla, a Chilean company, claims Chile’s unique coastal geography make it’s an ideal location for a new concept of a solar and hydropower plant. During the day, the plant will use solar power to move seawater up a tunnel to the top of a mountain, where the water will be stored in a natural reservoir. At night, the water will be released back down, generating power as it falls. This way, the plant can generate power day and night. Always in the northern part of the country in the municipality of María Elena, about 1,300 kilometres north of Santiago, Italian owned Enel Green Power Chile Ltda recently commissioned a 160 Megawatt facility, Chile’s largest solar PV project connected to the grid.
In the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA solar energy is cheaper and more efficient than ever. The price of utility-scale solar dropped 85 per cent from 2009 to 2016, and newer panels can power up on even cloudy days. Rooftop solar is now cost-competitive with the traditional grid in much of the U.S. Heck, some cutting-edge companies see a market so ripe for the picking they’re developing entire roofs made of solar to sell to homeowners. Forty years ago, the total global installation of solar was around two megawatts, enough to power around 330 homes. Today, it’s closer to 224,000 Mega watts. And as you might expect, the more the price falls, the more attractive it becomes to everyone. Elon Musk’s SolarCity is the national leader in clean energy services and America’s #1 solar power provider.
Last but not least, we are happy to remind our followers something unique about the tiny PRINCIPALITY OF MONACO solar energy projects. Beside the fact that the State has been committed to a programme of energy saving in public buildings since 2006 with the overall reduction in energy consumption on fifty different sites that has reached 26%, Monaco will take part in efforts to stabilise the global warming of the planet by reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% in 2020 and 80% in 2050 (by which time the Principality will be carbon neutral) with respect to the reference date of 1990. In 2015, as part of the 21st United Nations Climate Change Conference, the Principality announced an interim target of reducing greenhouse gases by 50% by 2030 compared to 1990. Organised since 2014 by the Yacht Club de Monaco, in collaboration with the International Powerboating Federation (UIM) and Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, the Solar & Energy Boat Challenge is unique in the world, taking place 2-6 July 2019. More than a century after the first international powerboat meetings were launched in 1904, the YCM is reviving a tradition by leaving the field wide open to innovation and the imaginations of young engineers, working hand in hand with experienced manufacturers. Their goal is to develop alternative propulsion systems, using only clean energy sources to power the yachting of tomorrow. A real technological challenge to meet the energy needs of the leisure boat and shipping industries and the accompanying and environmental prerogatives.