Britain opens first subsidy-free solar power farm

A worker inspects solar panels at a solar Dunhuang, 950km (590 miles) northwest of Lanzhou, Gansu Province in this September 16, 2013 file photo. (File photo by Reuters)
Updated 26 September 2017
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Britain opens first subsidy-free solar power farm

LONDON: Britain’s first solar power farm to operate without a government subsidy is due to open in eastern England on Tuesday, as a sharp fall in costs has made renewable energy much more economical.
Britain needs to invest in new energy capacity to replace aging coal and nuclear plants that are due to close in the 2020s. But it is also trying to reduce subsidies on renewable power generation.
“The cost of solar panels and batteries has fallen dramatically over the past few years, and this first subsidy-free development at Clayhill is a significant moment for clean energy in the UK,” Claire Perry, minister for Climate Change and Industry said.
The 10 megawatt (MW) solar farm, in Clayhill, Bedfordshire, can generate enough electricity to power around 2,500 homes and also has a 6 MW battery storage facility on site.
In an effort to curb spiraling renewable subsidy costs the government has moved to scrap new subsidies for solar projects and onshore wind over the past few years.
The project “proves that the government’s decision to withdraw subsidies doesn’t have to signal the end of solar as a commercially viable technology,” Steve Shine, chairman of the Clayhill project’s developer, clean tech firm Anesco, said.
Falling costs have seen solar power capacity soar in Britain to around 12 gigawatts (GW), from around 2 GW five years ago, and on one sunny day in May this year solar hit a record, providing almost 25 percent of the country’s electricity.
Britain has a target to meet 15 percent of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2020, up from 8 percent in 2015.
The country’s renewable subsidy auction for offshore wind hit a record low earlier this month, falling well below the cost of subsidies promised to French utility EDF to build the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant.


‘Stronger than ever’: India set for fresh Moon launch attempt

Updated 43 min 10 sec ago
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‘Stronger than ever’: India set for fresh Moon launch attempt

  • The South Asian nation is bidding to become just the fourth nation to land a spacecraft on the Moon
  • The first launch attempt was scrubbed just under an hour before the scheduled lift-off because of what authorities described as a “technical snag”

SRIHARIKOTA, India: India will make a second attempt Monday to send a landmark spacecraft to the Moon after an apparent fuel leak forced last week’s launch to be aborted.
The South Asian nation is bidding to become just the fourth nation — after Russia, the United States and China — to land a spacecraft on the Moon.
The misson comes 50 years after Neil Armstrong became the first person to step foot on the moon, an occasion celebrated by space enthusiasts globally on Saturday
The fresh launch attempt for Chandrayaan-2 — Moon Chariot 2 in some Indian languages including Sanskrit and Hindi — has been scheduled for 2:43 p.m. (0913 GMT) on Monday, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) said.
“Chandrayaan 2 is ready to take a billion dreams to the Moon — now stronger than ever before!” it said on Thursday.
The first launch attempt was scrubbed just under an hour before the scheduled lift-off because of what authorities described as a “technical snag.” Local media, citing ISRO officials, said that issue was a fuel leak.
The agency tweeted Saturday that a rehearsal for the launch was completed successfully.
Chandrayaan-2 will be launched atop a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) MkIII, India’s most powerful rocket.
Experts said setbacks were to be expected in such missions given their complexity, and that it was more prudent to delay the launch instead of taking risks that may jeopardize the project.
“In such an ambitious and prestigious mission like Chandrayaan, one cannot take a chance even if a small flaw is detected,” Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, head of space policy at the New Delhi think tank the Observer Research Foundation, told AFP.
Former NASA scientist Kumar Krishen said India’s space agency should be praised for taking on ambitious projects like Chandrayaan-2.
“We should keep in mind that space exploration is risky as many systems have failed in the past and many lives lost,” he told AFP.
Aside from propelling India into rarefied company among spacefaring nations, Chandrayaan-2 also stands out because of its low cost.
About $140 million has been spent on preparations for the mission, a much smaller price tag compared with similar missions by other countries — whose costs often run into billions of dollars.
Chandrayaan-2, and India’s space program as a whole, are a source of national pride in India.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has outlined an ambitious plan to launch a crewed space mission by 2022, and India hopes to seek out commercial satellite and orbiting deals.
The new mission comes almost 11 years after the launch of India’s first lunar mission — Chandrayaan-1 — which orbited the Moon and searched for water.
The rocket carrying Chandrayaan-2 will launch from the Satish Dhawan Space Center at Sriharikota, an island off the coast of the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.
The spacecraft will carry an orbiter, lander and a rover, which has been almost entirely designed and made in India.
The orbiter is planned to circle the Moon for about one year, imaging the surface and studying the atmosphere.
The lander, named Vikram, will head to the surface near the lunar South Pole carrying the rover. Once it touches down, the rover will carry out experiments while being controlled remotely by ISRO scientists.
It is expected to work for one lunar day, the equivalent of 14 Earth days, and will look for signs of water and “a fossil record of the early solar system.”