We’re trying to get more solar energy stories going over on Planetsave. To catch readers up, I’m doing a short series on the top 50 solar energy stories of 2013 so far. I guess that’s 10 per month, theoretically. Learning from the Top 33 EV Stories article I recently published, I’m splitting this one into 5 posts. Otherwise, the page would take forever to load. Plus, it’s easier to swallow 10 at a time.
It’s pretty hard to actually rank these top 50 articles, so I didn’t even try. The list is in no particular order. The numbers are basically just for referring people (your friends, family, coworkers, etc) to specific stories you think are worth highlighting. Don’t forget to do that! Once the posts are up, I will add links here:
OK, here are the first 10:
1. World’s Largest Solar Power Plant Is Now Under Construction
MidAmerican Solar and SunPower Corp. in April marked the start of construction on the 579 megawatt Antelope Valley Solar Projects (4 months after MidAmerican bought the project). The solar power plant (aka solar farm) is expected to be the largest in the world when completed.
2. New Electricity Capacity On The California Grid Is Set To Be Almost 100% Solar In The 2nd Half Of 2013
Solar is growing fast, especially in California, where sunshine and healthy incentives make it competitive. Plus, utilities there have renewable energy mandates they have to hit. The stars have lined up for a fun second half of 2013, with nearly all new electricity capacity in the state scheduled to be from solar power systems.
3. So Many Solar Efficiency Records Set
Click to enlarge this beast.
Let’s just run down them:
4. Solar Grid Parity Now In Over 100 Countries
This definition of “grid parity” is the cost of rooftop solar versus the cost of electricity sourced from the grid – this is sometimes known as “socket parity.” At least one source finds that 102 countries have now hit grid parity.
5. Solar Likely To Be #2 Source Of New Power Capacity In US In 2013
In an on-air Google Hangout in March, Recurrent Energy CEO and Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA) Chairman Arno Harris noted that more solar power capacity is projected to be installed in 2013 than from any electricity source other than natural gas. And, by 2016, solar energy may actually be the #1 source of new power for at least one year.
6. World’s Largest Single-Unit Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) Plant Launched
The world’s largest single-unit concentrated solar power (CSP) plant launched in Abu Dhabi, UAE in March. The Shams 1 “will power thousands of homes in the United Arab Emirates and displace approximately 175,000 tons of COâ per year.” I was quite lucky to visit the solar power plant in January and learn much more about it.
7. Hawaii At Grid Parity
Hawaii has hit “solar grid parity.” In other words, you’re better off going solar than paying for conventional electricity from the power grid. Above is a fun infographic about that and related matters, which actually shows that residents there &ldquoay off” their solar power investments within 3–5 years, and then have free electricity for decades. Nice. (By the way, utility-scale solar has actually hit grid parity in cloudy Oregon, too!)
8. Grid Energy Storage Projects Starting To Take Off; Promising Energy Storage Companies Budding
Grid energy storage is not very important for renewable energy growth at this point in time. However, when renewable energy accounts for a large percentage of our power supply, it will be quite important. So, it’s good to see that significant and competitive projects are starting to get off the ground. Here are a few hot stories along those lines:
9. Solar Equaled 100% Of New US Power Capacity In March
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Office of Energy Projects in April released a report, “Energy Infrastructure Update,” that showed that renewable energy sources (biomass, geothermal, solar, water, wind) accounted for 82% of all new domestic electrical generating capacity installed in the first quarter of 2013. Furthermore, solar power accounted for all new power capacity in March. (Note: this doesn’t even include residential or commercial solar power systems.)
10. Africa’s Largest Solar Power Plant Launched
Image Credit: Masdar
It’s no giant, but at 15 MW, the Sheikh Zayed Solar Power Plant is apparently the largest solar PV power plant in Africa. The project is located in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, a country with considerable solar and wind resources, but also considerable energy poverty.