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Posts Tagged ‘renewables’

New laws to enforce purchasing renewable energy in Japan

Since the nuclear disaster happened last year in Fukushima almost devastated part of the country, Japan government and population are dealing with new ways to meet their energy necessities. Last Sunday July 1st a new regulation enforces companies to purchase renewable energy at a fixed price.

Initiatives like this might lead Japan to a notable position among the countries which invest most in renewables technologies. While Chinese manufacturers’ are capturing the worldwide market, Japanese policies might arise as a salvation to those American and German companies struggling to survive. The catastrophe has left a sense of insecurity in the population that may let these manufacturers to compete the Chinese by offering high quality products and a wide range of services at higher prices than current utilities assume.

It is an opportunity they can’t overlook, and surely Barack Obama and Angela Merkel have already included this issue in their agendas.

More info about Japan opens solar energy parks on Yahoo News

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Solar energy can help to address summer peaks of demand

June 28, 2012 1 comment

One of the highest challenges utilities have to face during the hottest season is a huge increase of electricity demand. Customers all around the country, moreover in southern states as Texas, Arizona or California, turn on their air-condition machines at the same time. Utilities are then forced to supply more energy by means of running plants for a short-time, leading to a more expensive generation cost.

Some California utilities already charge electricity depending on a base/peak basis (Time of Use tariff, see previous posts). Solar energy has demonstrated to be able to reduce the electric generation cost on peak times since solar radiation is higher during these hours. If we also consider PV as a distributed generation system, benefits are even more decisive.

The Brattle Group, an energy consultancy, has analyzed “how prices would have been impacted if solar photovoltaic (PV) systems had been added to the generation mix” in Texas last year. You can consult the whole article on Shows Solar Energy as a Solution in Texas to Help Address Summer Electricity Challenges.

Brief overview for German approximation to the solar power

Germany has probably become the world’s leader in solar technologies. How have they outperformed the concurrency?

First, they pledged for developing a whole value chain in order to maximize the benefit to the German population, instead of just promoting an electrical production. This chain initiates with raw material (most used is Silicon) treatment and transformation into wafers, cells and eventually modules, which will be later sold internally or overseas and installed by partners or third parties. Thus the revenues generated by incentives can be partially retained in the country while new jobs and investments are sustained even by non-German investors, which additionally bring capital, R&D and some other benefits. PV Silicon AG, Wacker-Chemie AG or QCells are some examples of German companies which can cope with not only the commercialization of PV modules but also the primary activities where investments and technical knowledge is essential.

In order to achieve the previous goals, by 2000 Germany deployed a feed-in tariff which provides a 20-year-guaranteed 0.457-0.624 euro/kWh incentive with an annual reduction of 5% per new arrivals, to compensate the constant drop in costs. Besides tax credits and VAT exemptions to commercial PV providers, training support, wage subsidies and R&D incentives, and state-of-the-art infrastructures as roads and IT, Germany has become a leading country in Solars even though his environmental conditions are worse than other Mediterranean countries such as Spain, Italy or Greece. Universities and institutes of research do also play an important role in the system.

Huge investments are done every year in the Eastern regions as part of a larger plan to improve development and reduce the differences with respect to the Western. This process is supported by the many semiconductor’s companies present in this area which would likely provide key synergies at silicon manufacturing.