In this week’s Solar News Report: New analysis from the International Energy Agency on solar’s rapid rise, Tampa Electric’s 100,000 solar homes agreement, and approval for the world’s largest single-site concentrated solar park in Dubai.
Solar photovoltaics grew faster than any energy source in 2016
The International Energy Agency (IEA) recently released a report on the growth of different electricity fuel sources worldwide, and concluded that over the past year solar photovoltaics (PV) grew by 50% – the largest growth of a single fuel source. “What we are witnessing is the birth of a new era in solar PV,” said Faith Birol, the executive director of IEA. “We expect that solar PV capacity growth will be higher than any other renewable technology through 2022.”
Solar PV is leading a general surge in the renewable market, with this year being the sixth consecutive year that clean energy has set a record for installations. For solar specifically, much of the growth has been due to China – about half of all new solar PV plants worldwide were built in China. The United States, India, and China combined are expected to make up two-thirds of all clean energy expansion projects worldwide.
Tampa Electric commits to solar for 100,000 homes
Following in the footsteps of other large Florida utilities such as Duke Energy Florida and Florida Power & Light, Tampa Electric has made a commitment to solar energy to the tune of 600 megawatts, which will provide enough power for 100,000 homes. “We have long believed in the promise of renewable energy,” said Gordon Gillette, CEO of Tampa Electric. “We believe now is the time to add large utility-scale solar generation.” The utility is expected to invest around $850 million into the project, which will initially appear as a $1 extra charge on monthly customer bills once the project is nearly complete.
When it reaches its long-term goal, Tampa Electric aims to have 12 percent of its generation capacity coming from solar. Statewide, Florida continues to creep towards a higher ranking for solar installations by state. The Sunshine State currently has 700 megawatts installed, which places it at 13th in the country.
Dubai approves the world’s largest solar energy park
The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) has awarded a contract to construct a 700 megawatt (MW) section of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, a huge solar park projected to generate 5,000 MW by 2030. The addition will be a concentrating solar power (CSP) project, which uses a central solar tower to concentrate sunlight and generate energy.
The solar park already has over 200 MW of solar photovoltaic capacity, and an 800 MW addition will begin operations by 2020. The new contract was awarded to Shanghai Electric from China and ACWA Power from Saudi Arabia, to be commissioned in the fourth quarter of 2020.
ACWA Power noted that a big reason to develop CSP projects is its ability “to collect energy from the sun, which can be used to generate entirely renewable energy based electricity not just during the day while the sun is shining but throughout the night just as a gas, oil or coal-fired power plant does.”
Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 has a vision of increasing Dubai’s total power output to 75 percent renewables by 2050. Projects like these signify a dedication to that strategy and will make Dubai a leader in clean energy and solar technology for years to come.