La cumbre de la OTAN

NATO SUMMIT, RENEWABLE ENERGY AND CLIMATE EMERGENCY

The NATO summit is taking place in Madrid on 28, 29 and 30 June, more than four months after the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Analysts agree that this summit is one of the most important to be held by the military alliance in recent decades.

THE STRUGGLE TOWARDS AN ENERGY TRANSITION

This summit is perhaps one of the most relevant because we are at a turning point in which the global order is being reconfigured, on the occasion of COVID-19 and accentuated by the war in Ukraine.

As a result of the war in Ukraine, the commitment to renewable energies is being accelerated by trying to break ties with Russian energy.

Today, Russia supplies gas that supplies Europe: 40 % of the gas that the European Union imports comes from Russia. And that percentage rises to 100 % for Bulgaria, 90 % for Finland and Lithuania, 80 % for Poland, 60 % for Austria and Hungary, 50 % for Germany and 40 % for Italy.

As the data shows, Europe’s high energy dependence is evident. For this reason, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, among many other actions, has pushed for agreements to improve the European energy market. In view of this situation, what should the European Union propose? That 60% of its energy pool should come from renewable energies by 2030, contributing to decarbonisation and the fight against climate change.

Renewable energies such as wind and solar are undoubtedly a key component of the path towards energy independence. In fact, the rate of renewable energy has not stopped growing, making the biggest leap since 2020.

The way to achieve this energy transition, decarbonisation and the fight against climate change is to set as a goal the European Green Pact, a programme of the European Commission aimed at making the continent a climate-neutral area by 2050. We can therefore consider the European Green Pact as another tool in the fight against the Russian invader.

The aim of the European Green Pact is to achieve climate neutrality, as Europe’s future depends on the planet’s future.  Today’s climate and environmental challenges demand an urgent and ambitious response.


La inteligencia artificial

THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND RENEWABLE ENERGIES

Artificial Intelligence is currently playing a key role in the transformation of the energy model. It allows us to do something that we are not capable of doing: to handle large amounts of data, which must also be processed in a logical and reasonable way. And in the field of energy in particular?

ENERGY SECTOR HARNESSES THE POTENTIAL OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

We are currently in the midst of a transition to a sustainable energy system. Most countries are not reducing their emissions fast enough, so the integration between renewables and smart grids is essential.

Renewable energies such as wind and photovoltaic will become much more efficient in the future with the application of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Many energy companies are already starting to apply Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to control the demand and production of renewable energies.

Solar and wind energy are linked to climatic factors to generate renewable energy, which conditions energy productivity. This conditions the productivity of energy, but with AI we can anticipate the drop in electricity production with the demand for consumption to stabilise the amount of energy available in the system. What do we achieve with this? Avoid outages or shortages of electricity supply at specific times and places where it is not possible to cover everything with renewable energies alone. These two types of energy will benefit the most from the use of AI in the management of the energy production grid.

In 2021, the World Economic Forum published a report entitled Harnessing Artificial Intelligence to Accelerate the Energy Transition, which explains that the global energy system is undergoing a massive transformation and that a process of decentralisation, digitalisation and decarbonisation will be consolidated in the coming decades.

Thanks to Big Data and data analytics, we can predict up to 36 hours in advance in which geographic areas renewable energy production will drop and where those additional demand peaks will occur.

As renewable energy deployment increases to decarbonise the sector, more energy will be delivered through endless sources such as solar and wind, creating the need for better forecasting, better coordination and more flexible consumption. With AI, we will be able to identify more accurate patterns and behaviours, so they play a crucial role in accelerating performance. AI has proven to be a key element in making installations more efficient, smarter and more capable in triggering the energy transition.

The future of renewables with AI is promising and although still limited, we may soon see it in long-term projects.


La energía solar

THE RISE OF RENEWABLE ENERGIES

Both solar photovoltaic and wind energy are fundamental to the energy transition. In the case of photovoltaic solar energy, its implementation is breaking records and is making history.

PHOTOVOLTAIC ENERGY IN EUROPE AND SPAIN

Photovoltaic solar energy is the energy that comes from the sun’s rays and can be used thanks to the use of solar panels. It is a renewable and unlimited resource.

Within the European Union, the use of renewable energies is booming and by 2050, the goal is that 55% of energy will be produced by renewables. What is necessary for this? Solar energy. Thanks to it, we have the opportunity to get rid of our dependence on fossil fuels, such as gas.

The European Union already produces more than 10% of the energy it consumes thanks to the sun. At present, the panels installed throughout the Union’s territory produce 165 GW, generating no less than 39 terawatt hours.

Although the 2050 target is a common project of 27 countries, the development of sustainable energy is not the same in all of them.

At the top of the ranking is Germany, where the sun is responsible for the production of 17 % of the country’s energy mix. In second place is the Netherlands, and in third place is Spain.

And in Spain, how has solar energy evolved? In the last three years, installed solar PV capacity in Spain has tripled from 4,767 MW at the beginning of 2019 to a total of 15,190 MW by the end of 2021. This increase is due to two key factors: the repeal of the tax and the aid and subsidies for self-consumption and solar energy storage.

Repeal of the sun tax: The sun tax was a charge levied on energy generated through the use of photovoltaic installations. This discouraged and hindered the development of photovoltaic solar energy in our country. This measure was eliminated on October 5, 2018 when the end of the sun tax was announced and solar self-consumption installations began to take off with the entry into force of surplus compensation on March 1, 2020.

Grants and subsidies: Another key element in the development of solar energy in Spain has been the many grants and subsidies we have received over the years. Currently, several aid programs are open under the funds of the “Next Generation EU” recovery plan, which began at the end of 2021 and amount to 660 million euros.

Spain, the country with the best solar radiation in Europe, has an irradiation of between 1600 KW/m2 and 1950 KW/m2 and an irradiation of between 1600 KW/m2 and 1950 KW/m2. Even so, it is far from Germany, which has 10 times more installed capacity.


La energía solar flotante

FLOATING SOLAR ENERGY

The rise and growth of renewable energies worldwide is leading to significant technological advances that reduce the cost of manufacturing panels and improve their performance. When it comes to offering new solutions for renewable energies, technologies seem to know no limits. This is why floating solar energy has been born in response to the scarcity of land caused by population growth.

WHAT IS IT? WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF FLOATING SOLAR ENERGY?

Floating solar energy is the one that uses stagnant water (such as irrigation water, lagoons, lakes, dams, etc.) for the installation of photovoltaic solar energy infrastructures. Unlike solar panels located on land, these are mounted or installed on platforms that float on the water, interconnected with walkways that form maintenance corridors.

Did you know that one of the largest floating solar power plants is located on a reservoir in South Korea? That’s right, more than 92,000 floating solar panels shaped like plum blossoms float on a South Korean reservoir, more than 12 miles long in the southern county of Hapcheon. This installation is capable of generating 41 megawatts and powering 20,000 homes.

Some of the advantages of floating solar power plants are as follows:

Minimal land consumption: solar power plants, as they are built on water, do not require occupied land space.  These installations are characterised by the fact that they are installed on sheets of water that do not interfere with their use, such as water treatment plants, water reservoirs such as reservoirs, hydroelectric dams or irrigation ponds.

Increased efficiency: the performance of floating solar panels is much higher as the water on which they are installed produces a cooling effect, which reduces the ambient temperature and increases humidity, improving efficiency by 10-15%.

Reduced maintenance: these panels do not require frequent cleaning. The amount of dust on the surface of the water is less compared to dust on the ground.

They reduce water evaporation: the floating solar panels, by covering a large part of the water surface where they are located, manage to reduce evaporation by 85%, which allows greater use and performance of the reservoir.

Currently, several countries are already using this type of high-tech installation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions worldwide and increase the consumption of clean, renewable energy.

Learn more about renewable energy.


La eficiencia energética

ENERGY EFFICIENCY

Many of us have heard of the term energy efficiency, but… Do you really know what it means? This term refers to the ability to obtain the best results in any activity using the best possible amount of energy resources.

HOW CAN WE BECOME MORE ENERGY EFFICIENT?

Energy efficiency aims to protect the environment by reducing energy intensity, getting users into the habit of consuming only what they need. Today, the pursuit of Energy Efficiency has become a priority for governments around the world, as traditional energy sources are becoming increasingly expensive, limited and also generate dependence on the foreign market.

At a productive level, companies and the different public administrations are implementing measures and initiatives to commit to renewables and to be more sustainable. In addition, they need to take measures to obtain energy efficiency certificates, which are so important nowadays.

To calculate and measure energy efficiency, one of the main standards is ISO 14001 – Environmental Management Systems (EMS). This is an international standard that allows companies to demonstrate their commitment to environmental protection by managing the environmental risks associated with their activities.

Obtaining this certificate offers companies, organisations and administrations many advantages as it confirms that they are working in a structured and strategic way to reduce their environmental impact.

And now …. What if we want to transfer energy efficiency to the home?  From Nara Solar we leave you some tips to be more efficient at home.

Use energy-efficient appliances: the energy label on household appliances allows us to quickly and easily see their energy efficiency. This is based on a letter scale (from A to D) and a colour scale (from green to red), ranging from the most to the least energy efficient.

Make responsible use of air conditioning and heating: in summer because it is hot and in winter because it is cold… we end up using these appliances, which account for between 60 and 70% of household electricity consumption. The solution? Good home insulation, especially in doors and windows, can help to conserve the temperature better.

Choose the right bulbs: lighting accounts for 10% of household electricity consumption. Changing incandescent and fluorescent bulbs for energy-saving LEDs offers advantages: they are safer and less polluting.

Reduce, reuse and recycle: implementing the so-called “circular economy” at home is one of the most effective ways to contribute to global energy efficiency. Do you find it difficult? To make it easier you can set aside a small space in your kitchen to separate waste while you are cooking or cleaning.

These small changes cost very little and can do a lot for your economy and the environment. Start being more energy efficient!

Find out more about renewable energy.


La biodiversidad

THE IMPACT OF RENEWABLES ON BIODIVERSITY

Increasing the production of renewable energies is essential to achieve the energy transition towards decarbonisation of the economy. Both large-scale photovoltaic and wind power require large areas of land, so their installation must be carried out in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner.

BIODIVERSITY AND RENEWABLES: WIND AND PHOTOVOLTAICS

To ensure that the construction of new renewable energy parks does not cause damage to biodiversity, a multitude of studies are taken into account prior to their construction, such as the replanting of flora or the care of species. According to Fernando Ferrando, president of the Renewables Foundation, the negative impacts of renewables on biodiversity are very small.

How can renewable energy have an impact on biodiversity?

In the case of wind farms, large wind turbines affect animal life, mainly birds and bats. The direct impact of the blades, due to their size and force, can cause changes in atmospheric pressure, which affects the flight of these animals. It is calculated that the impact of a wind turbine on the carbon footprint is amortised in just over 7 months, making wind energy one of the technologies with the least negative impact on the environment.

In the case of photovoltaic solar plants, their installation can affect land deforestation. However, according to a study by the Spanish Photovoltaic Union (UNEF), it has been analysed that, after the installation of a photovoltaic plant, the space is suitable for a large number of species of birds, invertebrates and other vertebrates.

Today, both wind farms and the most recent photovoltaic plants have much improved measures to reduce the impact on fauna and flora compared to those built some time ago. So far, solar energy has had the least impact on our ecosystem and its collection facilities are the least invasive, leaving the smallest footprint and can be almost entirely recycled.

What remedies exist to regulate the impact of renewables on biodiversity?

On the one hand, there is the National Integrated Energy and Climate Plan (PNIEC), which has an approved Strategic Environmental Assessment, setting targets for renewables penetration and various considerations of how they should be deployed. On the other hand, there is the instrument of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for projects of many types, including renewable plants of a certain size, which are regulated in Law 21/2013 on Environmental Assessment (EA) and by regulations of some autonomous communities that expand the assumptions to be considered.

Thanks to technological advances, new ways of generating energy are made more sustainable, supporting the environment and combating climate change.

What aspects need to be taken into account to ensure that the energy transition is beneficial for biodiversity conservation?

Appropriate zoning: this involves prior planning, avoiding areas of high environmental and landscape value.

Size: carrying out small, decentralised projects and, whenever possible, linked to local self-consumption.

Research and development: using, as far as possible, wind turbines or solar panels that generate a low environmental impact.

Environmental impact studies: these studies must be strict, efficient and independent, as well as presenting the reality with documented and field-tested work.

Find out more about renewable energies in our news section.


Paneles solares

THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF SOLAR PANELS

The renewable energy sector is one of the sectors that has experienced the greatest technological and R&D&I growth in the last decade. From the first solar panels to the current ones, there is a huge difference in terms of efficiency and profitability.

EFFICIENCY, PROFITABILITY AND COSTS DEPENDING ON THE TYPES OF SOLAR PANELS

We can distinguish different types of solar panels in terms of their uses. They are not all designed for the same operation:

  • Photovoltaic solar panels: they convert light energy from the sun into electrical energy, thanks to their silicon cells. When photons hit the silicon cells, electrons are broken and their release generates an electric current.
  • Thermal panels: They use the energy from the sun to generate heat, thermal energy. These panels can be used to heat water or power heating systems.
  • Hybrid panels: This type of panels are a mixture of the two previous ones. They can generate both electrical and thermal energy and generate heat and electricity at the same time.

Within the photovoltaic solar panels, we can also draw certain characteristics that differentiate them into several types, of which we will talk about the two main ones:

  • Monocrystalline panels: They are formed with silicon and are composed of several cells that connect, in series and in parallel. Monocrystalline panels are made up of single-crystal cells.

Visually, they are easily recognized because they are a darker blue, almost black, and their sheets have rounded edges. They are more efficient and have a high degree of efficiency, but they are also more expensive.

The use of these panels is the best option when you need a higher energy production, when the installation is going to receive an adverse climate and when you have limited space.

  • Polycrystalline panels: Unlike the previous ones, these are formed by the union of several silicon crystals.

These panels have a lighter blue color than monocrystalline panels and the manufacturing process is different from monocrystalline panels. There is less waste of materials and therefore their manufacturers can afford to reduce costs. They are much cheaper, but much less efficient.

If the efficiency of the installation is not your main concern, because you do not need to generate a lot of energy or because you have a lot of space for the placement of panels, these are the right panels, due to their low cost.

Find out more about renewable energy in our news section.


instalación

COMPONENTS OF A PHOTOVOLTAIC SYSTEM

A solar photovoltaic system is capable of producing renewable electricity through solar radiation. The components of your installation are very important as they set your operating system in motion. One of the most important elements, as well as indispensable for its operation, are the solar panels. 

THE ELEMENTS OF A PHOTOVOLTAIC INSTALLATION

When building a solar installation, there are certain components that are necessary to make use of the sun’s radiation and capture the maximum amount of solar energy.

Solar panels.

Solar panels are of course indispensable in a photovoltaic system. They are responsible for capturing solar radiation and converting solar energy into electricity through the photovoltaic effect. They are formed by the combination of several panels and provide the system with the necessary power. The greater the demand for energy, the greater the number of solar panels required.

Solar panels are made up of small elements called photovoltaic cells. The most common photovoltaic cells are made of silicon and can be divided into three subcategories.

  • Monocrystalline silicon photovoltaic cells.
  • Polycrystalline silicon photovoltaic cells (with higher efficiency).
  • Amorphous silicon cells (the least efficient).

Investors.

They are responsible for converting direct current into alternating current and are indispensable in any solar panel system. Inverters store information on photovoltaic production, grid consumption and the general status of the installation, and are responsible for monitoring all this information.

There are various types of inverters that are classified according to their characteristics and are essential for both connected or isolated solar photovoltaic installations, whether they are simple or have other functions such as charging or regulation.

Structures and supports.

The structures and supports are the devices that allow the solar panels to be anchored to the roof and to be able to get the maximum performance from the installation with the appropriate orientation and inclination. These systems are usually made of highly resistant metallic materials, so that they can withstand the action of different meteorological agents.

Charge controllers.

They are the link between the solar panels, the batteries and the rest of the photovoltaic components. They manage the energy efficiently, ensuring that the system and batteries are not overcharged and can be discharged at night.  They have a maximum current capacity in amperes that guarantees an adequate charge while ensuring an optimal power supply.

There are two types of regulators, MPPT and PWM. The choice of one or the other depends on the type of solar installation and its intended use.

Batteries or accumulators.

Batteries for solar panels have the function of storing energy over a period of time, providing high instantaneous power and fixing the working voltage of the installation. Since the sun’s energy does not arrive uniformly, but depends on the length of the day, the seasons or the cloud cover at a given time, batteries are used to store energy at times when there is no solar radiation.

Photovoltaic technology is a great source of renewable energy and its state of maturity is so high that it could be considered as an alternative to traditional electrical energy.

Find out more about renewable energies in our news section.

 


Las energías renovables

RENEWABLES AND THEIR RELATIONSHIP WITH CLIMATE CHANGE

Climate change is becoming increasingly evident and is caused by the large quantities of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere by human activities, such as burning fossil fuels for electricity generation, heating and transport. One of the most serious consequences is the destruction of the ozone layer, which leads to an increase in the earth’s temperature and the production of extreme weather phenomena, but it is not the only one.

THE USE OF RENEWABLE ENERGIES TO COMBAT CLIMATE CHANGE

To curb this situation, the EU has set a series of targets for 2030 to move towards a low or zero carbon economy and thus achieve a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95% by 2050.

In the fight against climate change, the use of renewable energies plays a fundamental role. These sources of energy generation are clean and inexhaustible resources that, unlike fossil fuels, do not produce greenhouse gases or polluting emissions.

According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, IRENA, doubling the share of renewables in the global energy mix to 32% by 2030 would result in a 3.7% increase in welfare.

In 2015, world leaders adopted a series of global goals (SDGs – Sustainable Development Goals) with the aim of eradicating poverty, protecting the planet and improving citizens’ rights. Renewable energy is SDG 7, which aims to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.

When we talk about renewable energies we can highlight:

Wind energy: is that which harnesses the energy of the wind by means of wind turbines or windmills. The wind turbine is the main element of this renewable energy system, the most common being the one that converts the energy from the movement of the air into electrical energy that is finally transmitted to the electricity grid.

Solar energy: it is obtained directly from the sun and can be solar photovoltaic, solar thermal or solar thermoelectric, depending on the exploitation mechanism used, heat or electricity can be obtained.

Hydropower: This type of renewable energy uses the movement of water to generate electricity.

Geothermal energy: this energy harnesses heat from within the earth’s crust. According to the FAO, this type of energy can be very beneficial in developing countries, as it can be used for drying food or pasteurising and sterilising milk.

Biomass: The generation of energy from organic waste is another renewable energy source, in this case linked to gas and electricity.

Tidal energy: tidal energy is energy that harnesses the power of the tides or waves to produce energy.

Will renewable energies be able to transport us to a new scenario?


hidrogeno verde

GREEN HYDROGEN, A RENEWABLE ENERGY WITH MULTIPLE USES

Green hydrogen has become an essential part of the energy transition to ensure a sustainable future. Falling hydrogen production costs through renewable energy have given hydrogen an unprecedented boost.

GREEN HYDROGEN HAS BECOME ONE OF THE MAIN PILLARS OF THE EUROPEAN UNION’S RECOVERY FUNDS

Energy transition is one of the axes of this recovery, with 30% of the budget allocated to the fight against climate change. And it is here that green hydrogen has begun to gain ground, growing in interest and positioning itself in the public debate as one of the fundamental pillars for the decarbonization of the economy, one of the objectives that countries around the world have set themselves for 2050. To achieve this, green hydrogen is one of the keys.

Hydrogen is the simplest and most abundant chemical element in nature, consisting of one proton and one electron. In the case of green hydrogen, it is an energy carrier that allows you to move energy from one place to another, in this case, through water, using renewable energies

To produce green hydrogen, no carbon dioxide is used or emitted, which is why its global demand as a fuel has tripled since 1975, as noted by the IEA (International Energy Agency), reaching 70 million tons per year in 2018. It is a clean energy source that only emits water vapor and leaves no residues in the air, unlike coal and oil.

In addition, it has multiple uses, ranging from power generation for industries such as metallurgy and chemistry, to energy, residential and transportation uses.

Industry: The industrial sector is the one that consumes the most fossil hydrogen, for this reason, the progressive implementation of green hydrogen is driving an industrial reconversion in both the public and private sectors.

Transportation: It is used as a fuel. Hydrogen ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles are 30% more efficient compared to gasoline vehicles, and perform well in all weather conditions, even at low temperatures. Many cities are already implementing the use of this fuel in their public transport network.

Energy: Hydrogen can be used to generate electricity through fuel cells and to be injected into the natural gas grid, a practice that significantly reduces emissions from heating systems.

Residential: There are hydrogen micro-cogeneration systems that are capable of providing electricity and heat to homes. It is very convenient and practical as it can be transported and stored without additional investments and taking advantage of the existing gas infrastructure.

In Spain, the Climate Change and Energy Transition Law includes a strong commitment to this energy, as well as a project for a macro green hydrogen transport network from Spain to northern Europe (Green Spider Project).

Green hydrogen is here to stay and the Spanish government and the European Union are clearly committed to this energy.  Its promotion is vital to achieve, among other things, the climate commitments of the Paris Agreement and the zero emissions targets required by the climate emergency.

Find out more about renewable energies in our news.