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Ghana Solar Energy Plant Set to Be Africa's Largest

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A UK firm has announced plans to build what it claims is the biggest photovoltaic (PV) solar power plant in Africa.

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JL A. (286)
Tuesday December 4, 2012, 3:56 pm

BBC News Science & Environment
4 December 2012 Last updated at 02:52 ET
Ghana solar energy plant set to be Africa's largest

Matt McGrath By Matt McGrath Environment correspondent, BBC News

A UK firm has announced plans to build what it claims is the biggest photovoltaic (PV) solar power plant in Africa.

The Nzema project, based in Ghana, will be able to provide electricity to more than 100,000 homes.

Construction work on the $400m (£248m) plant is due to start within 12 months.

The developers say that they are optimistic that finance for the project will be confirmed within six months.
Fully cooked

The initiative is being developed by Blue Energy, a UK-based renewable energy investment company.

Dozens of solar projects have been announced across Africa in recent years but few have been on this ambitious scale says industry analyst Ash Sharma at IMS Research. He says the 155 megawatt plant will increase Ghana's generating capacity by 6%.

"It is the biggest single project that's going ahead at the moment," he told BBC News. "It is not the biggest in the world, but if it goes ahead it will be the biggest in Africa."

He says that a key element in helping the project go ahead has been Ghana's renewable energy law under which the plant has been awarded a feed-in tariff for 20 years. These are premium prices, guaranteed for the working life of the site.

Project director Douglas Coleman, from Mere Power Nzema Ltd. who will build the plant, told BBC News that it was "fully cooked" in planning terms.

"The project has land, it has planning consent, it has a generating licence, and it has received a feed-in tariff," he said, "it is the right plant in the right place at the right time."

He was confident that the finance needed to build the plant could be raised in the next six months.

The company behind the scheme is majority owned and funded by members of the Stadium Group, a large European private asset and development company with £2.5bn under management.

Ash Sharma believes that the backing of this firm plus the feed-in tariff makes the idea viable.

"One of the biggest stumbling blocks has been overcome and the financing looks like it could be in a good position to succeed I would say."
Not concentrating

Unlike many other solar projects in Africa that use concentrated solar power, the Nzema plant will use photovoltaic (PV) technology to convert sunlight directly into electricity. Douglas Coleman says the characteristics of the Sun in Ghana favour PV.

"We can predict with great certainty on an annual basis, the output from the plant. That predictability means we can harmonise with the needs of the transmission network, to balance load with generation."

While concerns have been raised in recent weeks about the future of North Africa's Desertec project that aims to export solar power to Europe, researchers are far more hopeful about the prospects for local African markets.

Demand for renewable energy has been held back in emerging economies like Ghana by high costs, but a recent glut of solar panels on world markets has seen prices tumble - much to the advantage of African countries.

"The reason the technology hasn't taken off so far is that it has been too expensive," says Ash Sharma, "but the costs of solar have decreased dramatically in the last two years, they've fallen by 40% plus, and this has really enabled it to be used in emerging regions in Africa and Asia."

Installation of more than 630,000 solar PV modules will begin by the end of next year with electricity being generated early in 2014. It is due to reach full capacity at the end of 2015.


Terry V. (30)
Tuesday December 4, 2012, 4:38 pm

In the Congo they are having a difficult time TRYING to introduce simple solar cooking

JL A. (286)
Tuesday December 4, 2012, 5:01 pm
Indeed it is Terry. Change can be hard--especially when each individual has to change. It may be something community-wide like this that seems to be an opportunity is easier to rally support for. You cannot currently send a star to Terry because you have done so within the last week.

Michael Kirkby (91)
Tuesday December 4, 2012, 6:57 pm
Thiink of how much more effiicient it will be when it is wedded with nano technology.

JL A. (286)
Tuesday December 4, 2012, 7:22 pm
You cannot currently send a star to Michael because you have done so within the last week.

John B. (194)
Tuesday December 4, 2012, 8:03 pm
Great news J.L. Thank you for posting it. Read and noted.

JL A. (286)
Tuesday December 4, 2012, 9:35 pm
It is indeed John! You cannot currently send a star to John because you have done so within the last week.

Rose Becke (143)
Thursday December 6, 2012, 1:15 am

JL A. (286)
Thursday December 6, 2012, 7:38 am
You cannot currently send a star to Rose because you have done so within the last week.

Aaron Bouchard (161)
Thursday December 6, 2012, 4:38 pm
Good news thank you

JL A. (286)
Thursday December 6, 2012, 4:53 pm
You are welcome Aaron

Past Member (0)
Friday February 22, 2013, 11:18 am
Noted , Good news , Thanks .

JL A. (286)
Friday February 22, 2013, 11:37 am
You cannot currently send a star to Samir because you have done so within the last week.

Alice C. (1797)
Sunday June 2, 2013, 8:11 am
Top 50 Solar Energy Stories Of The Year (Part One: #1-10)
June 1, 2013Zachary Shahan





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:
Top 50 Solar Energy Stories Part 1 (1-10)
Top 50 Solar Energy Stories Part 1 (11-20)
Top 50 Solar Energy Stories Part 1 (21-30)
Top 50 Solar Energy Stories Part 1 (31-40)
Top 50 Solar Energy Stories Part 1 (41-50)
OK, here are the first 10:
1. World’s Largest Solar Power Plant Is Now Under Construction

Image Credit: SunPower
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.
Extra Notes:
The almost as humungous400 megawatt San Antonia solar power plant Alamo 1 is also now under construction.
The whoppingly large 750 megawatt McCoy Solar Project has received expedited review approval from California Governor Jerry Brown. Hopefully construction will begin soon.
Sempra this year completed the first 150 megawatt phase of the 700 megawatt Mesquite Solar farm.
Also in Arizona, the first 127 megawatt “block” of the 5-block Arlington Valley Solar Energy II (AV Solar II) solar farm was completed.
2. New Electricity Capacity On The California Grid Is Set To Be Almost 100% Solar In The 2nd Half Of 2013

Image Credit: California ISO
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:
Sharp sets 37.9% triple-junction, non-concentrator solar cell efficiency record. (Note: the US Navy is working on a triple-junction solar cell that it thinks will break through the 50% efficiency barrier.)
Amonix Inc. sets 34.9% outdoor concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) solar module efficiency record, as well as a peak efficiency record of 36%.
Ripasso Energy sets 32% solar stirling dish efficiency record.
Alta Devices sets 30.8% two-junction (aka dual junction) solar cell efficiency record.
Panasonic sets 24.7% crystalline silicon solar cell efficiency record.
SunPower sets 21.5% commercial solar module efficiency record with X-Series solar modules.
SunPower sets record (and second and third place) in solar module yield tests.
Solar Frontier sets 19.7% CIGS solar cell efficiency record, a 10-year record.
First Solar sets 16.1% cadmium-telluride (CdTe) photovoltaic (PV) module conversion efficiency record.
Researchers at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology set 8.92% plasmonic polymer solar cell efficiency record for cells using nanoparticles.
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

CleanTechnica Director Zachary Shahan (me) at the Shams 1 CSP power plant in Abu Dhabi. Photo Credit: Marika Krakowiak / CleanTechnica
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 CO₂ 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 “pay 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:
Japan Installing World’s Largest Battery Storage System
Eos Energy Storage — Next Big Thing In Energy Storage?
Eos Energy Storage Launches 1st Pilot Project With Con Edison
Eos Energy Storage Raises $15 Million, Gets Funding From NRG Energy
Zinc-Iron Redox Flow Batteries — The Next Big Thing In Energy Storage?
PG&E Unveils Battery Storage System In San Jose, California
150MW California Solar Project With Energy Storage Gets PPA
North America’s Largest Wind Energy Storage Facility Fires Up In Texas
Belgium Plans Artificial Island For Wind Energy Storage
Bill Gates Provides Boost To Renewable Energy Storage Company Aquion Energy
Apple Designs A Wind Energy Storage Concept
Energy Storage Breakthrough: Large And Powerful Redox Flow Battery Developed
Compressed Air Energy Storage In The Northwest — Enough Wind Energy To Power 85,000 Homes For 1 Month Can Be Stored In Porous Rocks
LightSail Gets $5.5 Million For Compressed Air Energy Storage
New Durable High-Power Lithium-Ion Battery Developed In Germany
Toyota Recycles Hybrid Batteries Into Energy Management Systems
International Battery & Energy Storage Alliance Established
Solar Energy Industries Association & Electricity Storage Association Buddy Up
Germany To Begin Renewable Power-To-Gas Research Project
Solar PV Energy Storage Market To Skyrocket
Grid Energy Storage To Grow 56 Gigawatts By 2022
Energy Storage Costs To Halve & Market To Boom, Study Finds
Much More Clean, Renewable Energy Could Be Integrated Into Grid
Germany’s Energy Storage Incentive Starts
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.

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