Posts Tagged ‘prime minister’

14 June

Trains, Powered By Sunshine, in Belgium and India


Dear Friends, Visitors/Viewers/Readers,

(Please click on red links & note magenta)

The Swiss Solar Impulse 2 (solar airplane) and French solar rooftops have inspired me to look toward other forms of transport and surface areas to be powered by or used to generate solar energy. It’s fantastic that there had been quite a few interesting progress made in the area of trains. Case in point, the high speed train powered by solar energy, in the video below, was in service back in 2011 in Belgium:

The rail line between Antwerp and Amsterdam (about 80 miles) in Belgium was the first solar paneled train tunnel (about 2.2 mile long tunnel) in Europe that utilized 16,000 solar panels (costed $22 million for installation) to power the railway infrastructure and trains back in June (started on June 14), of 2011, bringing clean energy to trains. This Solar Tunnel project is expected to generate 3.3 megawatts of energy (equivalent of the average annual electricity consumption for 4,000 trains or about 1,000 homes). The project partner Enfinity also indicated that the tunnel is decreasing CO2 emissions by 2,400 tons annually. “It is the perfect way to cut the carbon footprint because the spaces used have no other economic value,” commented by Bart Van Renterghem, Enfinity former UK head. Other collaborators on this project were Belgium rail operator Infrabel and solar construction company Solar Power Systems.  This was a fantastic clean energy project because it is optimizing the previously idled space and once the installation is in place, there is to be no consumption of fuel or coal and at no cost to our environment.

About 4461 miles (or 7179 km) away, India is planning to massively  utilize the solar energy via its state-owned railway systems. With one of the largest railway networks in the world, running about 12,000 trains, 23 million passengers (practically the entire Australian population), and 3 million tonnes of freight daily, much energy is needed.   In 2012, the Indian Railways consumed nearly 3 million kiloliters of diesel oil  and about 14 billion kWh of electricity .  So, India’s railway minister Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu wants to control such a ballooning fuel bill by shifting toward alternative energy sources. Since the Indian Railway System is aiming to have at least 10% of its total energy consumption coming from renewable energy by 2020, the railway minister wants to incorporate more alternative energy sources to power trains. This is first done by solar powered lighting via solar panels mounted on the roofs of the trains. This is now being tested on a non-AC coach on the RewariSitapur passenger train.

Indian Solar Train photographed by Anil Kumar Chhatri or credit

Indian Solar Train photographed by Anil Kumar Chhatri or credit

The cost of installing panels on each coach is about Rs3.9 lakh (about $6,084), translating into savings of Rs1.24 lakh (about $1,934) per year, According to The Economic Times of India Times.  In the next few weeks, the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, and the railway coach maker Integral Coach Factory will  be testing the solar  paneled coach under a variety of conditions. Besides the solar powered coach, the Indian Railways will also be building  solar power plants of about 8.8 MW (megawatts) in 200 train stations and some of its office buildings.

Without the common vision and collaborations from policy makers, such ambitious projects would not have existed. In India, it took the echoing  support between India’s prime minister Narendra Modi and railway minister Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu to enable such a solar project to become a reality.  Prime Minister Modi encouraged alternative energy projects by encouraging solar companies from around the world to invest $100 billion to reach its solar power capacity target of 100,000 MW by 2022 (about five times India’s current solar power generation capacity). He was also instrumental behind another ambitious project, World’s First Canal Solar Power Plant in India, in Gujarat, in one of our previous post.

I hope all policy makers and governing bodies will receive the support he/she/they/it need(s) during this critical transitional period in human history, onward and forward toward the renewable/solar energy future! For deep down, within all of our hearts, we know that Solar/Renewable/Clean Energy is the solution/answer to Energy-Pollution-Economic Prosperity-International Conflicts. The sooner we get there, the better it will be for us and our posterity. In our system of democracy, perhaps all of us may be able to help play a part in assisting our policy makers in arriving at the correct decisions or policies quickly.

~have a bright and sunny day~

Gathered, written, and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker

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4 September

Can Japan Be The Second Biggest Market For Solar Power, With The Help of Feed-In-Tariff ?


Dear Friends & Visitors/Readers/Viewers,

(please click on red links below)

Despite its small physical size,  Japan has been expanding its solar power since the 1990’s and is a leading manufacturer of solar panels, ranking in the top five for countries with the most solar PV installed.  Japan had the third largest solar capacity in the world, next to Germany and Spain, in 2009.  Japan is the world’s fourth largest energy consumer, making solar power an important national project.  The Japanese government is planning to expand solar power using subsidies and feed-in-tariff, aiming to have 70% of new homes with solar power installed.  The Japanese government enacted the feed-in-tariff in November, 2009, that requires utilities to purchase excess solar power sent to the grid by homes and businesses and pay twice the standard electricity rate for that power. On June 18, 2012, a new feed-in-tariff of 42 yen/kWh (about 0.406 Euro/kWh or 0.534 USD/kWh) was approved and became effective on July 1, 2012.  Impact due to feed-in-tariff may be seen in the steepness of the blue line (in the graph at right below) since 2009. The tariff covers the first ten years of excess generation for systems less than 10 kW. Let’s take a look at some data pertaining to Japanese solar power trend:

PV Module Prices of Japan From 1992-2011 (wikimedia commons)

PV Cell Production and Shipment (GWp) in Japan: Total (orange), Export (green), and Domestic (blue) (wikimedia commons)

After Fukushima incident, the Japanese prime minister Naoto Kan signaled for change in energy policy. “Based on the recent accidents at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), I think it is necessary to discuss the scrap of the current Basic Energy Plan, where the ratio of the nuclear energy is expected to be more than 50 percent in 2030,” said Kan in a news conference.  “The past energy policy has regarded nuclear energy and fossil fuels as two major pillars in electricity,” he continued. “With the recent accidents, I think two additional pillars are important. The first additional pillar is to add renewable energy, such as solar and wind power, as well as biomass, to the core energy resources.” (source:, May 11, 2011)

Japanese people learned and acted quickly: the first three solar plants by TEPCO were completed in 2011 and 2012, the Ukishima Solar Power Plant (7 MW), the Ohgishima Solar Power Plant (13 MW), and the Komekurayama Solar Power Plant (10 MW).

Komekurayama Solar Power Station owned and operated by TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) in Kofu, Yamanashi Prefecture (wikimedia commons)

The output of all three can be monitored on the internet. (source:  Near the industrial district of Tomakomai, a 200 MW photovoltaic station has also been proposed on the island of Hokkaido. Plans will be set after the proposed Feed-In-Tariff (FIT) has been finalized.  Many new projects such as the proposed 70 MW plant by Kyocera in Kagoshima and a 100 MW plant by Toshiba in Minami Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, will be constructed to take advantage of the new feed-in-tariff. For better understanding of FIT, (an incentive program for renewable energy that had been responsible for great deal of job creations,  widespread renewable energy installations, and Germany’s leadership position in renewable energy world), please visit April 17, 2012, post of Sun Is The Future and sunisthefuture Youtube Channel.

For a summary of the total installed solar power in Japan between 1992-2011, take a look at this graph, below:

Total Installed Solar Power (MWp) Between 1992-2011 in Japan (wikimedia commons)

Above is a clip of high efficiency Panasonic HIT solar panels at various places in Japan. Japanese, as a group, is very cautious and practical. They have tried and tested many different avenues in optimizing their energy infrastructure and decided that Feed-In-Tariff is the smart way to go! Feed-In-Tariff does not ask the government for free solar panels but is a policy mechanism designed to accelerate investment in renewable technologies.  It achieves this by offering long-term contracts and price certainty to renewable energy producers and help finance renewable energy investments, typically based on the cost of generation of each technology. Please refer to wikipedia page on Feed-In-Tariff.

Perhaps we can take advantage of the lessons learned by others/Japan…it will certainly be less expensive…isn’t it time for us here is USA to seriously consider implementing effective Feed-In-Tariff for Solar/Renewable Energy…not just in Hawaii, but throughout our 50 states?!

~have a bright and sunny day~

researched, written, and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker,

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