California is one of the world’s leaders in implementing solar stations and using renewable energy sources, and a local company (New Energy Nexus) has a lot of positive ongoing developments in this area. As the sun is one of the major sources of alternative energy in the state, solar parks and rooftop panels are actively used. In addition to solar power, the company also uses wind power and other clean energy sources. Of course, there are numerous other companies working to make a new kind of energy available to the public as well. One such company is Mosaic, which allows homeowners to install solar panels “in debt” to avoid the cost of its initial installation. Recently, the company raised a $220 million investment and plans to issue $1 billion during the year in loans. Another striking example is the startup SunSwarm. This is a marketplace where consumers’ and builders’ “public” solar farms meet. The project helps to find solar farms to which you can connect and save on electricity.
Despite these breakthroughs, we must recognize that many people still have the same mindset from five or ten years ago: that solar energy is very expensive. But in fact, prices are going down rapidly, and economic arguments are beginning to favour alternative sources compared to traditional energy. The historical relationship is already formed: when the area of the solar panels is doubled, the price of energy is reduced by about 50% in the world. So, I think that if developing countries will make a bet on clean energy, this strategy will be more reliable in the long term.
However, there are still some barriers when it comes to alternative energy. For example, depending on weather conditions, the production of solar and wind energy may constantly be in flux, as well as energy consumption, which is also not stable. Here, I think a key step forward would be to create an intelligent energy system that could handle fluctuations in the production of alternative energy and handle jumps in consumption. An important feature of the system would be to smooth consumption peaks in a timely manner. For example, when prices suddenly jump, the system introduces restrictions on the excessive use of air conditioners. Smart grids should also be in place to store power.
In fact, the prices for storage are falling very fast, and in California, there are major business projects underway for energy storage. For example, Tesla Motors Inc. recently reported that it will build a store on the south of the state by 20 MW. On its blog, the company also states that it will be the biggest electricity storage in the world of this kind. When fully recharged, a large battery, can provide electricity to about 2,500 homes during the day, or recharge about 1,000 electric vehicles (electrocars). Such a large station in combination with solar and wind stations will be able to supply customers with electricity without interruption, day and night.
I believe this new business model based on renewable sources, which we have with companies like Mosaic and SunSwarm, can subsequently be adopted by other countries, and hopefully developing countries will be no exception.
This guest post is brought to you by Hendrik Tiesinga, an alternative energy expert and Co-Founder and Program Manager for New Energy Nexus. He works for California Clean Energy Fund and is a member of the experts’ panel for #NEWENERGY Global Startup Fest.
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