Articles on Solar power

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When it’s hot, the sun is shining. That’s good for solar power. Flickr/jimwhimpey

When the sun don’t shine, the power don’t flow … or does it?

Renewable energy seems to be on a roll. One million Australian homes have rooftop solar cells. There’s so much renewable energy it’s reducing wholesale electricity prices. But then, that old chestnut pops…
Regional centres and outer suburbs - not inner-city latte sippers - are leading the solar charge. Duncan Rawlinson

Solar revolution led by outer suburbs

Households across the country are putting solar panels on their roofs at a rate that has exceeded all expectations. This year we hit 1 million rooftops with photovoltaic (PV) solar panels, up from just…
Solar panels covering just 1 per cent of Australia’s landmass could provide all our electricity needs. Flickr/Rantz

How do we get to the next million solar roofs?

There are now one million Australian homes with solar electricity. That means 2.5 million Australians now rely on solar power – more than the population of Brisbane. Australians have clearly shown their…
You don’t need to be Glastonbury’s Michael Eavis to be happy about renweables. Ben Birchall/PA

Farmers could use land to create power as well as food

One of Britain’s largest independent cheese producers, Wyke Farms in Somerset, picked up a commendation in the BusinessGreen Leaders awards this month for its efforts to become completely energy self-sufficient…
When the sporting gods smile at Australia, we go to Rio, but Brazil has long been on the international business map. AAP

All business roads lead to Rio

We have recently witnessed Brazil being hit by mass protests not seen since the days of the military dictatorship, but apart from the Socceroos going to the 2014 World Cup and the Rio Olympics in 2016…
A trade dispute between China and the EU could blow up into full-on stormy weather. Ben Birchall/PA

International spat over solar must not turn into trade wars

Manufacturers and politicians embroiled in the dispute between China and the EU are closely watching the looming deadline of June 5th. By then the European Commission must conclude its provisional anti-dumping…
How selfish! Are solar panels really pushing up the price of power for everyone? Elliot Brown

More solar, less power demand, higher prices: does it add up?

If I install solar panels and a car battery to run my air conditioner, should I pay higher electricity network fees? The electricity industry and Queensland’s Energy Minister would say yes, but is that…
It doesn’t matter that wind and solar power are intermittent: the need for base-load power is a myth. Flickr/Eidoloon

Baseload power is a myth: even intermittent renewables will work

The future of civilisation and much biodiversity hangs to a large degree on whether we can replace fossil fuels – coal, oil and gas – with clean, safe and affordable energy within several decades. The…
China’s solar photovoltaic industry has exploded in the last decade. AAP/Chinese Solar Energy.

What’s going on with Chinese solar?

The bankruptcy of Chinese solar energy company Suntech Wuxi is being depicted in the media as a sign of chaos in the solar industry. The industry is said to be suffering from disastrous price falls created…
How do rooftop solar panels work? Abi Skipp

Explainer: what is photovoltaic solar energy?

There are two main types of solar energy technology: photovoltaics (PV) and solar thermal. Solar PV is the rooftop solar you see on homes and businesses - it produces electricity from solar energy directly…
Concentrated solar thermal power remains expensive compared to other forms of energy. International Rivers.

Solar thermal energy cost expected to halve: CSIRO

Solar thermal energy will halve in cost by 2020, the new director of the CSIRO’s Australian Solar Thermal Research Initiative…
It’s time to take solar transport fuels a lot more seriously. National Renewable Energy Lab

Here’s to hydrogen: Australia is missing the potential of solar fuels

Many times in human history governments have tried to write policies based around future technologies and missed identifying the transformational keys. In the 1970s, for example, few if any horizon-scanning…
Things go wrong when prices are out of whack. Kevin Baird

Set reasonable PV feed-in tariffs, or expect perverse outcomes

Contrary to expectations, demand for electricity in Australia has been falling for several years. Reasons for this include large price rises (of which the carbon price is a relatively small component…
Australia could soon have millions of small electricity generators. absentmindedprof/Flickr

Energy White Paper underestimates solar

The 2012 Energy White Paper has much to commend it. In particular, the far greater acknowledgement of the need to shift to clean energy sources is a fundamental shift from previous White Papers. The emphasis…
The mechanisms that make some fish hard to see could be used in next-generation electronics. mattieb

‘Invisible’ fish could light the way to better optical devices

Imagine setting up mirrors in a circle around you, the shiny sides all facing outwards to reflect your surroundings. To the casual observer you would appear to be “invisible”, blending into the environment…
Wind and solar power appears to have been behind a drop in wholesale power prices in South Australia, leading to a proposal to reduce retail prices for consumers.

Power of the wind - how renewables are lowering SA electricity bills

Renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power appear to be the impetus behind a South Australian proposal to substantially drop electricity prices, just as other states are hiking theirs. The Essential…
The Climate Commission says Queensland could be a leader in concentrated solar thermal power, but the political will is lacking. AAP

Qld a leader in solar? Not under current govt, say experts

Around the clock solar power could be a reality for Australians in the foreseeable future, but experts say a hostile state…
Sunlight falls equally on leaves and solar panels, but which does the best job of turning it into useful renewable energy? kincuri/Flickr

For efficient energy, do you want solar panels or biofuels?

About 80% of the world’s total energy consumption is derived from fossil fuels, with only 12.5% from renewable resources. Replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources derived from sunlight - such…
Ross Garnaut: “One can’t avoid the reality that some political leaders have said that they would like to remove carbon pricing.” AAP/Alan Porritt

Australia under a carbon price plan: Q+A with Ross Garnaut

Tomorrow Australia will place a price on carbon. The former climate change adviser to the Federal Government, Ross Garnaut…
A cleaner, more efficient Australia will blend smart grids and meters with renewable power’s growing capacity. Pictured: Spain’s Gemasolar concentrated solar thermal power plant. Gemasolar

Challenge 13: smart energy demand and renewable supply

In part 13 of our multi-disciplinary Millennium Project series, Mark Diesendorf argues that it is high time we got smart about power: how we generate it and how we deliver it. Global challenge 13: How…

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