A village in the heart of one of Britain’s former coalfields is to host a groundbreaking trial that could pave the way for tens of thousands more homes to run off solar power. People in 40 council homes in Oxspring, South Yorkshire, are being given batteries that can store electricity from rooftop solar panels, in the latest sign of interest in energy storage systems. The batteries, which normally have a starting price of about £2,000, will be hooked up to a “virtual power plant” that will aim to smooth out how much solar power is exported to the grid, enabling more homes to have solar panels. The growth of solar power has been held back in many parts of the country, including the borough of Barnsley, which takes in Oxspring, because of the extra strain it puts on local grids. Operators have to keep voltage levels within strict limits but this is difficult if solar panels are generating a lot of power on a bright day but dip sharply as clouds pass by. “We can do all sorts of things to address this,” said Jim Cardwell, head of trading and innovation at Northern Powergrid, a distribution network operator taking part in the £250,000 Oxspring trial. The Oxspring trial is the latest in a growing number of efforts to see if batteries can help ease pressure on power grids as renewable energy spreads. Centrica, the UK’s largest retail energy supplier, is testing another scheme in Cornwall that will see if a mix of batteries and green energy systems can turn nearly 160 homes and businesses into a new independent power market.
FT 19th Jan 2017 read more »
U.S. solar employs more workers than any other energy industry, including coal, oil and natural gas combined, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s second annual U.S. Energy and Employment Report. 6.4 million Americans now work in the traditional energy and the energy efficiency sector, which added more than 300,000 net new jobs in 2016, or 14 percent of the nation’s job growth.
Ecowatch 17th Jan 2017 read more »