Category: solar

Visualizing the New Era of Energy


This post is by Govind Bhutada from Visual Capitalist


The following content is sponsored by Surge Battery Metals
new era of energy

The New Era of Energy

Energy is the pulse of our daily lives, powering everything from our homes to our cars and electronic gadgets. 

Over the last two decades, there’s been an ongoing shift in how we produce and consume energy, largely due to rising climate awareness among both governments and consumers.

The above infographic from Surge Battery Metals highlights the increasing uptake of clean energy technologies and explains the need for the raw materials that power them. This is part two of three infographics in the Energy Independence Series.

The Growth of Clean Energy

Government policies, falling production costs, and climate consciousness have all contributed to the exponential adoption of green energy technologies. 

For example, only a few countries were actively encouraging EV adoption a decade ago, but today, millions of consumers can take advantage of EV tax concessions and purchase subsidies with governments committed to phasing out internal combustion engines. Partly as a result, electric vehicles (EVs) are well on their way to mainstream adoption. 

Here’s a look at how the number of electric cars on the road has grown since 2011, including both battery EVs and plug-in hybrids:

Country/Region2011 Electric Car Stock2021 Electric Car Stock
China10,0007,800,000
Europe20,0005,500,000
U.S.20,0002,000,000
Other20,0001,100,000
Total70,00016,400,000

In (Read more...)

Mapped: Solar and Wind Power by Country


This post is by Bruno Venditti from Visual Capitalist


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How Far Are We From Phasing Out Coal?

Mapped: Solar and Wind Power by Country

This was originally posted on Elements. Sign up to the free mailing list to get beautiful visualizations on natural resource megatrends in your email every week.

Wind and solar generate over a tenth of the world’s electricity. Taken together, they are the fourth-largest source of electricity, behind coal, gas, and hydro.

This infographic based on data from Ember shows the rise of electricity from these two clean sources over the last decade.

Europe Leads in Wind and Solar

Wind and solar generated 10.3% of global electricity for the first time in 2021, rising from 9.3% in 2020, and doubling their share compared to 2015 when the Paris Climate Agreement was signed.

In fact, 50 countries (26%) generated over a tenth of their electricity from wind and solar in 2021, with seven countries hitting this landmark for the first time: China, Japan, Mongolia, Vietnam, Argentina, Hungary, and El Salvador.

Denmark and Uruguay achieved 52% and 47% respectively, leading the way in technology for high renewable grid integration.

RankTop CountriesSolar/Wind Power Share
#1?? Denmark51.9%
#2?? Uruguay46.7%
#3?? Luxembourg43.4%
#4?? Lithuania36.9%
#5?? Spain32.9%
#6?? Ireland32.9%
#7?? Portugal31.5%
#8?? Germany28.8%
#9?? Greece28.7%
#10?? United Kingdom25.2%

From a regional perspective, Europe leads with nine of the top 10 countries. On the flipside, the Middle East and Africa have the fewest countries reaching the 10% (Read more...)

The Clean Energy Employment Shift, by 2030


This post is by Omri Wallach from Visual Capitalist


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The Clean Energy Employment Shift Main

The Clean Energy Employment Shift, by 2030

This was originally posted on Elements. Sign up to the free mailing list to get beautiful visualizations on natural resource megatrends in your email every week.

With many countries and companies pledged to reduce emissions, the clean energy transition seems to be an inevitability. And that transition will undoubtedly have an impact on employment.

New sources of power don’t just require new and updated equipment, they also require people to operate them. And as demand for cleaner fuels shifts attention away from fossil fuels, it’s likely that not every sector will see a net gain of employment.

This graphic shows projected global employment growth in the clean energy sector and related areas, under announced climate pledges as of 2021, as tracked by the IEA’s World Energy Outlook.

Which Sectors Will Gain Jobs By 2030?

In total, the clean energy transition is expected to generate 10.3 million net new jobs around the world by 2030.

Though fuel generation will definitely be affected by the clean energy transition, the biggest impact will be felt in modernizing energy infrastructure:

Clean Energy Jobs By Sector (to 2030)Jobs GainedJobs Lost Net Job Shift 
Efficiency3.2M03.2M
Cars2.6M02.6M
Power generation2.6M-0.3M2.3M
Grids1.6M01.6M
Bioenergy1.2M01.2M
End-use renewables1M01M
Innovative technologies0.9M00.9M
Critical minerals0.2M00.2M
Coal0-0.6M-0.6M
(Read more...)

Visualizing Copper’s Role in a Low-Carbon Economy



The following content is sponsored by Teck

Visualizing Copper’s Role in a Low-Carbon Economy

Climate change is top of mind for much of the world’s population.

The transition to renewable energy and electrification will require tons of metals, and copper is considered the most essential.

The above infographic from Teck outlines copper’s role in low-carbon technologies, highlighting why the red metal is essential for a low-carbon future.

Why Copper? 

Copper has been an essential material to man since prehistoric times. In fact, it is the oldest metal known, dating back more than 10,000 years and one of the most used because of its versatility.

The metal has four key properties that make it ideal for energy storage, propulsion for electrical vehicles (EVs), and renewable energy:

  • Conductivity: Copper has the highest electrical conductivity rating of all non-precious metals.
  • Ductility: Copper can easily be shaped into pipes, wires or sheets.
  • Efficiency: Copper’s thermal efficiency is about 60% greater than aluminum, so it can remove heat far more rapidly.
  • Recyclability: Copper is 100% recyclable and can be used repeatedly without any loss of performance.

In addition to its unique properties, copper remains relatively affordable, making it a key part of the energy transition.

A Cornerstone of the EV Revolution

EVs can use up to four times as much copper when compared to an internal combustion engine (ICE) passenger car. The amount goes up as the size of the vehicle increases: a fully electric bus uses between 11 and 18 times more copper (Read more...)

Uranium: Powering the Cleanest Source of Energy



The following content is sponsored by the Sprott Physical Uranium Trust

Uranium: Powering the Cleanest Source of Energy

The world’s energy needs are growing with its population. However, achieving a net-zero carbon economy while meeting our growing energy needs requires a larger role for clean, sustainable, and reliable sources. Nuclear is one such energy source.

The above graphic from the Sprott Physical Uranium Trust highlights how uranium is powering one of the cleanest and most reliable sources of energy in nuclear power.

The Cleanest Energy Sources

Although all energy sources have tradeoffs, some are better for the environment than others.

To find the cleanest sources of energy, Our World in Data calculated CO2-equivalent emissions per gigawatt-hour (GWh) of electricity generated over the lifecycle of power plants for different energy sources. This includes the footprint of raw materials, transport, and construction of power plants.

Energy SourceCO2-equivalent Emissions Per GWh (tonnes)Type
Coal820Fossil fuel
Oil720Fossil fuel
Natural Gas490Fossil fuel
Biomass78-230*Non-renewable
Hydro34Renewable
Solar5Renewable
Wind4Renewable
Nuclear3Non-renewable

*Emissions from biomass vary depending on the type of fuel combusted.

It’s not surprising that coal, oil, and natural gas plants emit much more greenhouse gases than their renewable and non-renewable counterparts. In fact, emissions per GWh from coal power plants are roughly 273 times higher than nuclear power plants.

Hydropower offers a cleaner and renewable alternative to fossil fuels, however, the concrete and materials used in (Read more...)

Electricity from Renewable Energy Sources is Now Cheaper than Ever


This post is by Govind Bhutada from Visual Capitalist


renewable energy sources

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The Briefing

  • Electricity from new solar photovoltaic (PV) plants and onshore wind farms is now cheaper than electricity from new coal-fired power plants
  • The cost of electricity from solar PV plants has decreased by 90% since 2009

The Transition to Renewable Energy Sources

Renewable energy sources are at the center of the transition to a sustainable energy future and the fight against climate change.

Historically, renewables were expensive and lacked competitive pricing power relative to fossil fuels. However, this has changed notably over the last decade.

Renewables are the Cheapest Sources of New Electricity

Fossil fuel sources still account for the majority of global energy consumption, but renewables are not far off. The share of global electricity from renewables grew from 18% in 2009 to nearly 28% in 2020.

Renewable energy sources follow learning curves or Wright’s Law—they become cheaper by a constant percentage for every doubling of installed capacity. Therefore, the increasing adoption of clean energy has driven down the cost of electricity from new renewable power plants.

Energy SourceType2009 Cost (Read more...)

Solar concentration startup Heliogen basks in $108M of new funding



Sunlight is a great source of energy, but it rarely gets hot enough to fry an egg, let alone melt steel. Heliogen aims to change that with its high-tech concentrated solar technique, and has raised more than a hundred million dollars to test its 1,000-degree solar furnace to a few game mines and refineries.

We covered Heliogen when it first made its debut in 2019, and the details in that article still get at the core of the company’s tech. Computer vision techniques are used to carefully control a large set of mirrors, which reflect and concentrate the sun’s light to the extent that it can reach in excess of 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, almost twice what previous solar concentrators could do. “It’s like a death ray,” founder Bill Gross explained then.

That lets the system replace fossil fuels and other legacy systems in many applications where such temperatures are required, for example mining and smelting operations. By using a Heliogen concentrator, they could run on sunlight during much of the day and only rely on other sources at night, potentially halving their fuel expenditure and consequently both saving money and stepping toward a greener future.

Both goals hint at why utilities and a major mining and steel-making company are now investors. Heliogen raised a $25M A-2, led by Prime Movers Lab, but soon also pulled together a much larger “bridge extension round” in their terminology of $83M that brought (Read more...)

Solar concentration startup Heliogen basks in $108M of new funding



Sunlight is a great source of energy, but it rarely gets hot enough to fry an egg, let alone melt steel. Heliogen aims to change that with its high-tech concentrated solar technique, and has raised more than a hundred million dollars to test its 1,000-degree solar furnace to a few game mines and refineries.

We covered Heliogen when it first made its debut in 2019, and the details in that article still get at the core of the company’s tech. Computer vision techniques are used to carefully control a large set of mirrors, which reflect and concentrate the sun’s light to the extent that it can reach in excess of 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, almost twice what previous solar concentrators could do. “It’s like a death ray,” founder Bill Gross explained then.

That lets the system replace fossil fuels and other legacy systems in many applications where such temperatures are required, for example mining and smelting operations. By using a Heliogen concentrator, they could run on sunlight during much of the day and only rely on other sources at night, potentially halving their fuel expenditure and consequently both saving money and stepping toward a greener future.

Both goals hint at why utilities and a major mining and steel-making company are now investors. Heliogen raised a $25M A-2, led by Prime Movers Lab, but soon also pulled together a much larger “bridge extension round” in their terminology of $83M that brought (Read more...)

Aurora Solar aims to power the growing solar industry with a $250M round C



Aurora Solar had one of those pitches that seemed obvious in retrospect. Instead of going to a house and measuring its roof manually for a solar panel installation, why not use aerial scans and imagery of the whole region? That smart play earned them a $20M A round, a $50M B round, and now only six months later a massive $250M C as they aim to become the software platform on which the coming solar power expansion will be run.

The idea is simple enough to explain, but difficult to pull off. There’s lots of data out there about the topography, physical and infrastructural, of most cities. Satellite imagery, aerial lidar scans, light and power lines and usage data, and of course where and how the sun hits a given location — this information is readily available. Aurora’s innovation wasn’t just using it, but assembling it into a cohesive system that’s simple and effective enough to be used widely by solar installers.

“Aurora’s core value proposition is the fact that you can do things remotely much faster and more accurately than could if you traveled to the site,” explained co-founder and CRO Sam Adeyemo.

Having developed algorithms that ingest the aforementioned data, the service they offer is a very quick turnaround on the tricky question of whether a solar installation makes sense for a potential customer, and if so what it might cost and look like, down to the size and angle of the panels.

An interface showing a solar roof design and power savings.

Image Credits: Aurora Solar

(Read more...)