Solar Photovoltaic Projects: In the Mainstream Power Market, written by renewables energy pioneer Philip Wolfe, is an excellent introduction to the solar photovoltaic project development and power markets sector. Mr. Wolfe’s multi-decadal experience in the solar sector first founding BP Solar in the 1970s and then later working with various renewable energy finance initiatives, brings a wealth of knowledge ground-truthed by stories of what has worked and what has failed.
Solar Photovoltaic Projects: In the Mainstream Power Market includes environmental-specific analysis related to how to structure projects, siting of projects, management of projects, and technical aspects of system design. What is also highly useful in this book is the presentation of five hypothetical case studies. These case studies are discussed throughout each section in the book. The case studies are relevant to project development in Sub-Saharan Africa, India, the USA, and Europe. This results in making pertinent points more readily available. The case studies provide an excellent way for novices and experts to understand key project criteria.
One theme mentioned often throughout the book that I found quite interesting was preventative maintenance. For example, often herbaceous understory plants grow up between solar panels and then shade the panels decreasing performance. Hence, in the Gut Erlasee Solar Park in Germany, sheep are used to graze between solar panels to improve solar panel performance. As a result, the sheep are the preventative maintenance.
As global solar installation has recently passed 100 GW (Looking bright: solar power passes 100 gigawatts worldwide), for those interested in learning how to develop a large-scale solar photovoltaic project and its related environmental impacts, Solar Photovoltaic Projects: In the Mainstream Power Market is the best book and most-easily assessable book available.
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Author: Philip Wolfe
Gabriel Thoumi, CFA, LEED AP, is a natural resource scientist and financial consultant.
(02/12/2013) The world’s installed solar capacity hit 101 gigawatts last year, according to new data from the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA). Last year alone, saw nearly 30 gigawatts of solar power added around the world.
(11/26/2012) In 1990, British cloud physicist John Latham published a paper arguing he could cool global climate by brightening clouds over the ocean. Most colleagues ignored the paper, titled ‘Control global warming?’—probably because this thing called global warming was not yet a hot topic. Now, more than two decades later, Latham continues to develop what has become one of the most promising and controversial ideas in climate control. ‘Marine cloud brightening’ might sound benign, but hairs rise when it’s called ‘geoengineering.’
(10/17/2012) This year saw the Arctic sea ice extent fall to a new and shocking low, while the U.S. experienced it warmest month ever on record (July), beating even Dust Bowl temperatures. Meanwhile, a flood of new research has convincingly connected a rise in extreme weather events, especially droughts and heatwaves, to global climate change, and a recent report by the DARA Group and Climate Vulnerability Forum finds that climate change contributes to around 400,000 deaths a year and costs the world 1.6 percent of its GDP, or $1.2 trillion. All this and global temperatures have only risen about 0.8 degrees Celsius (1.44 degrees Fahrenheit) since the early Twentieth Century. Scientists predict that temperatures could rise between 1.1 degrees Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit) to a staggering 6.4 degrees Celsius (11.5 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century.
(08/01/2012) Burning coal fuels climate change, causes acid rain, and spreads toxic pollutants into the environment, but now a new Greenpeace report warns that coal may also imperil the world’s biggest feline: the tiger. Home to world’s largest population of tigers—in this case the Bengal subspecies (Panthera tigris tigris)—India is also the world’s third largest coal producer. The country’s rapacious pursuit of coal—it has nearly doubled production since 2007—has pushed the industry into tiger territory, threatening to destroy forests and fragment the tiger’s already threatened population.
(03/08/2012) Imagine powering your cell phone by leaving it on the window sill. Sounds like science fiction? Actually, this might soon turn into reality. Scientists have been exploring the potential of solar energy for decades. One of the cheapest ways to turn solar energy into electricity is by creating solar cells from organic polymers, which are easily manipulated by scientists. However, such cells are not efficient at converting sunlight to electricity. But now, researchers at UCLA’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering have come up with a new type of solar cell that sets the record in changing sunlight into power.
(09/06/2011) As many people in the United States question whether renewable energy is a viable alternative to fossil fuels, Germany now derives 20.8 percent of its electricity from renewable sources—a 15 percent increase since 2000, reports Der Spiegel. In contrast, the United States generates only 10 percent of its electricity from renewable sources, 6 percent of which comes from hydroelectric power, which some environmentalists see as unacceptably damaging.
(03/29/2011) According to a report by the US Pew Environment Group global clean energy investments, which do not include nuclear power, jumped 630% since 2004. The report detailing 2010 clean energy investments found that China remains the global leader in clean energy, while the US fell from 2nd to 3rd. This is the second year in a row that the US fell: in 2009 it lost first place to China. In all $243 billion were invested in clean energy in 2010.