Spain will switch to 100% renewable energy by 2050

Solar power in Spain

Experts have described the scheme as a wake-up call to the rest of the world.

Spain has announced ambitious plans to switch the country entirely over to renewable electricity by 2050. The Spanish government also want to see greenhouse emissions slashed down by 90% compared to 1990 levels, in a plan that goes above and beyond the requirements set out by the EU. By 2030, the nation hopes to be running on at least 35% green electricity.

The government have committed to installing at least 3,000MW of wind and solar every year, for the next 10 years. The so-called “sun tax” that has hampered solar power in the past has been scrapped, and money has been set aside to re-skill workers in the fossil fuel industry.

Spain is “deadly serious” about climate change

Laurence Tubiana, chief executive of the European Climate Foundation and one of the key figures in drafting the Paris accord, called the plans “groundbreaking” and “inspirational”.

“By planning on going carbon neutral, Spain shows that the battle against climate change is deadly serious, that they are ready to step up and plan to reap the rewards of decarbonisation,” she said.

James Watson, CEO of trade association SolarPower Europe, said: “It is exciting to see Spain setting the pace in its commitment to a 100 per cent renewable powered future… Spain’s energy ambition is a wake-up call to all the other states across the world, as it demonstrates what we know – it is possible to power large economies by renewables in the very near future.”

Back in the UK, the government are aiming to reduce greenhouse emissions by 80% by 2050.

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China are building a series of solar farms shaped like giant pandas

panda solar farm

In 2017 construction work started on a 248-acre solar farm that, when viewed from above, looked like a pair of giant cartoon pandas. Now, the Chinese government are on a mission to build 99 more ‘panda power plants’ around the world – investing billions of pounds in the process.

The idea came from a Hong Kong teenager named Ada Li Yan-tung, who wanted to increase interest in renewable energy. Instead of simply lining solar panels up in neat rows, she suggested arranging them more creatively to form artwork that could be seen from the sky. An artist’s impression of her original panda concept is shown below:

Panda solar farm
An artist’s rendering of the panda solar farm

A year later, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and development company Panda Green Energy Group picked up the idea and agreed to make it a reality. The first operating solar plant recently opened in the Shanxi province of China. The 50 megawatt plant resembles two baby pandas.

Panda solar farm

Panda solar farm

The developers plan to add a second phase to the project, adding two more pandas to complete a ‘panda family’. Once complete, the solar farm will have a capacity of 100 megawatts. According to the developers, it will generate 3.2 billion kilowatt-hours over 25 years, powering more than 10,000 households per year.

Future plans

Panda Green Energy Group have an ambitious goal to build 99 more solar farms like this one, stretching across what China calls the “Belt and Road Initiative” – an infrastructure project spanning 60 countries across Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

China is the world’s largest producer and installer of photovoltaic solar panels, and has the highest installed solar capacity in the world at over 130 gigawatts.

What are the pros and cons of solar panels?

pros and cons of solar panels

If you’re thinking about getting solar panels installed on your rooftop, you’re not alone – there are almost 1 million solar installations in the UK already! To help you decide if solar panels are right for you, our experts have compiled a list of some of the major pros and cons of solar panels.

Note – if you’re looking for even more ways to reduce your living costs, you can save up to £400 per year by switching to Eversmart – we’re one of the UK’s cheapest energy suppliers. Get a quote in under 2 minutes here.

Read on for our top pros and cons of solar panels:

 

Advantages of solar energy

Advantages of solar energy

Save & make money

Let’s be honest – who doesn’t love saving money! A home solar system actually saves and makes money in 3 different ways:

1. Cheaper electricity bills

The more sunlight your panels soak up and turn into electricity, the less you will have to buy from your electricity supplier – which means cheaper energy bills! The exact amount you can save depends on a whole range of factors – such as the number of panels, which part of the country you live in, and your typical energy usage – but the Energy Saving Trust estimate that a typical household in the south of England could save as much £220 per year.

2. The Generation Tariff (formerly the Feed-in Tariff)

The old feed-in tariff, where the government paid you per unit of clean energy you produced, was launched in April 2010 ended in January 2016. The rates were much more generous than they are now, leading to a solar power boom in the early years of this decade.

The new scheme gives you a set amount of money per unit of electricity you produce (in pence per kilowatt hour). The rate you get varies depending on a number of factors – you can find out more on the government’s website.

The Energy Saving Trust estimate that you can make between £115–£160 per year from the generation tariff.

3. The export tariff

What happens to the electricity that you don’t get around to using? You can sell up to half of it back into the grid. The National Grid will give you 4.85p per unit of electricity sold. The EST estimate that you could make up to £105 per year from exporting.

So to summarise – a big installation in the right part of the country in the right conditions could make you up to £485 better off per year.

It’s good for the environment

Solar power is a clean and renewable energy source. It doesn’t produce carbon dioxide or any other harmful greenhouses gasses, and unlike fossil fuels it will never run out (at least not in the next few billion years!)

Experts estimate that you can save around 1.2–1.7 tonnes of carbon from being released into the atmosphere per year.

They are low-maintenance

A typical set of rooftop solar panels will last for around 25 years, making them a great long-term investment. Once installed, they require very little in the way of maintenance other than a quick clean every now and then.

They work in bad weather

It’s a common misconception that solar panels only work where it’s hot & sunny. They work just fine in the UK and they can still generate power even when it’s cloudy. The UK actually has the sixth highest solar capacity in the world!

 

Disadvantages of solar energy

Disadvantages of solar energy

Big up-front cost

Solar panels aren’t cheap – a new system typically costs around £5,000 to £8,000 to install. The good news is that energy saving products such as solar panels qualify for the reduced rate of VAT in UK – 5% instead of the usual 20%.

The system will pay for itself eventually, so to get the best value from your panels you shouldn’t be planning on moving any time soon.

It’s difficult to store energy

Solar panels only produce electricity during daylight hours, and you really have to use it there and then if you don’t want it to disappear back into the grid. You can use batteries to store the excess juice and save it for when you need it, but the battery arrays are expensive.

Technology is improving however and prices may eventually come down, making them a more attractive investment. The Tesla Powerwall is one example of domestic battery storage that could make storing solar energy more feasible in the future, but for now the battery and associated hardware costs just under £6,000.

You house & roof may not be suitable

For those of us living in the northern hemisphere, solar panels work best on a south-facing roof. If you roof faces east & west, the effectiveness of your panels will be reduced. Your roof also needs to be big enough to accommodate the panels (things like skylights, chimneys and dorma windows can get in the way) and should ideally have a pitch of around 30-40 degrees. Solar panels may not be a great idea if your roof is often shaded by trees or tall buildings.

You can’t install them yourself

Technically you could install your own DIY solar array if you really wanted to, but it’s not recommended. For starters, you won’t be immediately eligible for the generation tariff. The system would first have to be certified by an MCS-accredited engineer, who may be reluctant to sign-off a system that they didn’t install or supervise.

They might make your home more difficult to sell

According to research from consumer website Which?, two thirds of estate agents said that solar panels make no difference to a home’s value. 16% actually thought they would lower the price of a house, and just 8% thought they would increase property value.

That said, having solar panels can improve your home’s Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and the benefits of the generation and export tariffs will be passed on to the new owners.

 

Have you recently had solar panels fitted? Do you think it was worth it? What advice would you give to somebody thinking about getting them? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!

 

UK solar growth halves for the second year in a row

rooftop solar panels

The number of new solar power installations in the UK has dropped for the second year in a row, according to a new study published by Solar Power Europe this week.

The decline has been so steep that is has brought the entire EU average down to practically zero, despite several European countries installing record-breaking numbers of panels last year.

  • The UK installed 4.1GW worth of new solar panels in 2015
  • In 2016, the figure was down to just under 2GW
  • Last year, we installed just0.95GW

Lack of government support

The sharp drop has been blamed on government cuts to solar panel subsidies, making them a less attractive financial investment to homeowners and businesses.

The Labour party have called the government’s commitment to green energy “nothing but an empty PR move”, while the chief executive of Solar Power Europe said “Solar power has been voted the most popular energy source in the UK, it is therefore sad to see the UK government not take advantage of the huge potential of solar.”

Energy and climate change secretary Amber Rudd challenged the criticism, stating that the cuts were necessary to keep energy bills down “whilst ensuring there is a sensible level of support for low carbon technologies that represent value for money.”

Still a world leader

Despite the recent slow growth, Britain is still ranked sixth internationally in terms of installed solar capacity, and third in Europe behind Germany and Italy. China are now the biggest, with a total of 130GW installed capacity providing 1.07% of the country’s consumption.

Installed solar capacity by country:

Installed solar capacity by country

Ten of the World’s Greenest Football Stadiums

Green football stadiums

The 2018 World Cup kicks off in Russia later this month, so what better time to take a look at some of the most eco-friendly, energy efficient football stadiums in the world.

Stadium owners around the globe have been making big steps to cut the environmental impact of these huge energy-hungry buildings, from covering roofs in solar panels to recovering & recycling rainwater. And it’s not just national stadiums and top-flight clubs that are going green – one non-league English team features on our list, with one of the most eco-friendly football grounds in the world!

You can check out the full list in the infographic below. If you would like to re-publish it on your own website or blog, we have included some easy embed codes at the bottom.

(Click or tap on the image for a better view).

Green Football Stadiums - Infographic by Eversmart Energy

Use this infographic on your own website

Simply copy & paste the below code into your website editor.

<img src="https://www.eversmartenergy.co.uk/blog/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/green-stadiums-infographic.jpg" alt="Green Football Stadiums - Infographic by Eversmart Energy" width="800" height="7779" /> <p>Infographic by <a href="https://www.eversmartenergy.co.uk/">Eversmart Energy</a></p>

California introduces mandatory solar panels on new homes

Solar panels in California

California has become the first state in the USA to make solar panels compulsory on all new homes and apartment buildings, starting from 2020.

The plan, which still needs approval from the Building Standards Commission, was recently approved by the California Energy Commission in an effort to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Existing laws already require that at least 50% of the state’s energy comes from renewable sources.

California is the most populous states in the US, and one of the sunniest. It has already invested over $42m in solar energy, with around 16% of the state’s energy coming from solar last year.

It is estimated that adding solar panels will add around $8,000 – $12,000 to the cost of a new home, as some critics have been quick to point out. However, the California Energy Commission has argued that the extra cost will only add around $40 a month to an average mortgage, and that the panels will save homeowners around $80 per month in electricity bills.

Some homes will be exempt from the new law if installing solar panels is not feasible – for example, homes that are usually in the shade. Existing homeowners will not be forced to get panels, although government rebate programmes are available for those who wish to do so. The new rules would apply to single-family residences and multi-family buildings up to three stories high.

“We cannot let Californians be in homes that are essentially the residential equivalent of gas guzzlers”, said commissioner of the California Energy Commission David Hochschild, describing the new law as a “very bold and visionary step”.

Renewable energy for beginners

renewable energy

Experts predict that the world will run out of traditional fossil fuels within fifty to one hundred years from now.

Renewable energy sources – such as wind, solar, wave, tidal and geothermal energy – have been steadily growing in popularity around the world for well over a decade, and as resources like coal and gas become more scarce,the world will need to up its renewable capacity.

Have you ever been confused by renewable energy? This excellent short video from National Geographic explains what it is, the advantages and disadvantages of alternative energy, and the challenges the world still needs to overcome in order to let go of our fossil fuel dependency.

The video answers questions such as:

  • What is renewable energy?
  • What are the most common sources of renewable power?
  • What are the benefits of renewable energy?
  • Are there any downsides to renewable energy?