May 26, 2017

Students line up with their models cars behind the starting line.

The Middle School Electric Car Competitions attracted students from 18 schools across Colorado. Photo by Dennis Schroeder

The cars raced down the straightaway, unless they didn't. Forward momentum can be a problem with solar- and battery-powered model cars designed and built by middle school students.

"There's a lot to getting these cars to actually move and go," said science and math teacher Catherine Tuell between races at the Middle School Electric Car Competitions, held on May 20 at the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) campus in Golden. "There's a lot of problem solving and persistence. That's the main thing."

Tuell, who teaches at The Logan School in Denver, accompanied six of her students to the event. In all, 53 teams from 18 Colorado middle schools gathered outside under a cloudless sky for a day at the races. The cars that raced were products of teamwork, creative thinking, and an understanding of scientific principles. Although each school started with the same basic car components, there was a lot of room for innovative approaches and experimentation.

A series of time trials and double eliminations narrowed the number of competitors, leaving 16 teams in the solar and lithium-ion battery categories racing along a 20-meter neoprene rubber track for the championship. In between races, the students could run their cars on test tracks or refine their designs and gear ratios. Hot-glue guns, soldering irons, and coping saws were among the tools available for making improvements or repairs. Getting to this point, ready to face rival teams, required "a lot of planning," said Jeremy Anderson, a math teacher at Resurrection Christian Middle School in Loveland and coach to its two race teams.

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"I think one of the biggest challenges was getting the kids to think outside the box and not stick with the base models and experiment—to be OK with failure," Anderson said. In preparing for the event, his students "had a lot of cars that just raced once and got broken down and were rebuilt. It took a lot of experimentation on their part."

The know-how to make a race-worthy car comes to students immersed in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) courses. "I teach regular science, but these kids get a double-dose of science by taking a STEM elective," said Susan Coveyduck of Manning Options School in Golden. "They have two hours of science a day. They still get a broad spectrum of content in the regular science class. This is the application. This is the hands-on problem solving."

Coveyduck accompanied 16 students to the event, with the teams equally divided between the solar and battery categories. Just before the alert that signals the start of each solar race, contestants uncover their cars' solar panels. Battery-powered cars must have and on/off switch in the body design, so the teams racing those cars merely have to turn the motor on.

Students watch their cars race down the track toward the finish line.

The races took place on a neoprene rubber track that was 20 meters long. Photo by Dennis Schroeder

Battle of the Batteries

Amanda Opp and her friends, all in eighth grade, raced as Manning Battery #1 after having previously built a fast-moving solar-powered car in their STEM class. For their battery-powered vehicle, they attached a small motor, axles, and wheels to a lightweight plastic paint tray. The cars in the battery competition must carry a 26-ounce cylinder of salt, so the deep well of the paint tray proved to be an ideal design element—but not one without complications.

"We have to hold a payload, that salt container, and the way we positioned it we had to figure out how to hold it where it was and not affect the wires," said Fong Lieu, another member of the Manning Battery #1 team along with Hallie Greco. Their tinkering worked. In the final race, Manning Battery #1 outperformed the other model cars and reached the finish line in 6.7 seconds. The team from Douglas County's Parker Performing Arts School was only a tenth of a second behind. Manning Battery #2 came in third at 6.9 seconds.

Parker Performing Arts, which also had a team in the solar division, was ably represented in the battery-powered race by Sara Boland and Breken Sharp. Both are fifth graders at the school, which classifies students in fifth through eighth grade as middle schoolers. Coming up with the right design "took quite a while, but not too long," Sharp said. "Finding a way to carry the salt was probably the hardest part." To solve that problem, they built a truck that could house the container and dubbed their entry Terry the Salt Truck. In addition to their award-winning time, Boland and Sharp also left with the first-place trophy for best design among the lithium-ion vehicles.

Solar Cars Burn Rubber

Sebastian Tabares and Kyle Kim, sixth-graders from Kent Denver, comprised the only team from the suburban school. They were interested in building an electric model car even before they knew about the competition. Their solar-powered car came together through trial and error.

"We had to test a bunch of gears and some of them broke or were too big for the axle," Tabares said. Kim: "Or too small." Tabares: "Yeah."

A model car draws power from the sun as the race begins.

The races alternated between cars powered by solar panels and those using a lithium-ion battery. Photo by Dennis Schroeder

The resulting car incorporated half of a plastic soda bottle to tilt the solar panel and aluminum foil to better focus the sun's rays—and proved fast enough to be among the final eight cars competing. The fastest solar car, the Stargate Purple Team from Stargate School in Thornton, finished the race in 5.73 seconds, just ahead of Ken Caryl Middle School's time of 5.753 seconds. The Stargate Silver Team ended the day in third place at 5.687 seconds. The Kent Denver team finished in fourth place with a time of 6.816 seconds.

Leaving NREL with a trophy would have been nice, but Kent Denver coach (and Kyle Kim's dad) Kelly Kim had something else in mind when asked what he hoped the team would take away from the race: "That you can actually use renewable energy for practical purposes. It's not just something you read in a book," he said.

Visit NREL's Energy Education website to learn more about the ways the laboratory inspires students to explore solutions for future energy needs.

—Wayne Hicks

This page outlines all the available funding and incentive schemes for solar energy in the state of Maharashtra in India, both at the Federal and State level. If you notice anything that is incorrect or out of date, please let us know via our contact page.

Maharashtra has 430 MW of cumulative capacity of solar energy as of January 31, 2017 with an extra 340 MW of works in progress, according to market analysts Bridge To India. It is forecast to achieve a phenomenal 12 GW of solar power capacity by 2022.

Federal incentives for solar energy in India

Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission

The Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has the ambitious goal of reaching 100 GW of grid-connected solar power by 2022, and making India a global leader in the development of solar energy. Currently India is on track to reach this goal, and a poll we conducted via Twitter showed that half of respondents thought that India would surpass this and install “much more than 100 GW” by 2022, proving that optimism abounds on this question.

The JNNSM is geared toward both large-scale solar installations (60 GW) and residential rooftop plants (40 GW). It is rolled out in phases and batches, each of which consists of a reverse bidding auction. This means that bidders bid the price per kilowatt hour at which they would be willing to sell the electricity. The most recent auction was Phase II Batch IV of the JNNSM.

State incentives for solar energy in Maharashtra

The state of Maharashtra has taken decisive action in stimulating solar energy in the region. What follows are the various incentives and financial rules they have adopted in order to stimulate solar energy in the state.

Policy for large-scale solar projects in Maharashtra

Maharashtra’s current solar energy plan covers an installation of 7.5 GW, with 2.5 GW of this coming from Maharashtra State Power Generation Company (Mahagenco) and a further 5 GW coming from other developers. These projects must have a minimum capacity of 1 MW, although developers may bundle multiple projects of 250 kW or more to achieve the 1 MW floor. Solar power projects under the policy are exempted from acquiring a No-Objection Certificate (NOC), but must be registered with Maharashtra Energy Development Agency (MEDA). The electricity duty is waived for the first 10 years of solar plant operation.

For details of fees and charges for grid-connection, see the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) Regulations 2017.

Net metering policy for domestic solar rooftops

Maharashtra offers a net metering connection for domestic solar rooftops for both individuals and groups. The size of the system determines the voltage level that should be fed into the grid and the relevant authority of the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Co. Ltd (MSEDCL) to which the application should be submitted.

System size Voltage level Relevant MSEDCL authority
Up to 8 kW 230/240 V (one phase) Concerned sub-division office
8 to 150 kW/187 kVA (in Municipal Corporation areas)

8 to 80 kW/100 kVA (in other areas)

400/415 V (three phase) Concerned sub-division office
150 to 1,000 kW/187 kVA (in Mumbai Metropolitan Region)

80 to 1,000 kW/100 kVA (in other areas)

11 kV and above Concerned circle office

Application for the net metering program in Maharashtra is done with a simple online form.

Solar installations on Maharashtra government buildings and for people below poverty line

Maharashtra has put aside ₹2,682 crore aside for installing rooftop solar systems on government buildings (100% subsidy) and people below the poverty line (15% subsidy).

Are you interested in installing solar in Maharashtra?

If so, get in touch and learn how we can help you join us in the solar energy revolution.

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Agency’s governing body discusses the next steps towards a sustainable future

“We are in the midst of a major energy transition and renewables are at the centre stage of it, experiencing continuous growth and development in more and more countries around the world,” announced IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin at the opening of the 13th IRENA Council.

Convening from 23 to 24 May, with a preparatory day on 22 May and a Policy Day on 25 May, the 13th Council attracted over 300 delegates from 110 countries — the highest participation ever at an IRENA Council.

“This [energy] transition has multiple socio-economic benefits in terms of fueling economic growth, creating jobs and improving human welfare and the environment. We look forward to working closely with our Members and stakeholders to further accelerate the global energy transition through strengthened international cooperation and innovative partnerships,” the Director-General added.

“IRENA reports help us adapt our education curriculums and prepare for the energy transformation.” — Rutty Paola Ortiz Jara, Vice-Chair of the Council and Colombia’s Permanent Representative to IRENA

One of IRENA’s two governing bodies, the Council brings together a rotating group of 21 countries to discuss IRENA’s work and to propose issues for IRENA’s Assembly — the agency’s other, larger governing body.

Convening just twice a year, this Council’s discussion focused on reviewing the progress completed to date under IRENA’s current work programme, and preliminary planning for the Agency’s future work.

The plenary’s thematic sessions covered renewable decarbonising the energy sector to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement, renewable jobs, and market design for increasing renewable energy capacity.

Driving jobs and sustainable growth

Mr Li Fanrong, Deputy Administrator of the National Energy Administration of China, was elected Chair of the Council and Rutty Paola Ortiz Jara, Deputy Minister of Colombia’s Ministry of Mines and Energy, Vice-chair.

“It’s vital to develop a total energy solution for rural areas, not just lighting and electricity.” — Dilip Kumar Khare, Director of India's Ministry of New and Renewable Energy“It’s vital to develop a total energy solution for rural areas, not just lighting and electricity.” — Dilip Kumar Khare, Director of India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy

“In our efforts to meet growing energy demand with cleaner, low-carbon and sustainable sources of energy sources, China has become one of the fast-growing renewable energy markets in the world. It has now become evident in China that renewables can not only contribute to the on-going energy transition, but also drive sustainable economic growth,” said Mr. Li.

“China is open to cooperating with all countries across the globe on renewable energy development and deployment, and honored to be part of the IRENA’s invaluable efforts at the centre of international cooperation for greater renewable energy deployment,” Mr. Li added.

The Council was also the stage for the release of Renewable Energy and Jobs — Annual Review 2017, IRENA’s report on the state of global renewable energy employment. The report finds that renewable energy employed 9.8 million people around the world in 2016 — a 1.1% increase over 2015 — with solar PV being the largest employing technology (3.1 million jobs).

“Women and girls can be important game-changers in the energy sector.” — Bilun Müller, Senior Official at Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy

Outside of the Council’s plenary, events pertaining to IRENA’s work provided participants an opportunity to gain a better understanding about specific IRENA projects and initiatives, ask questions, and engage with IRENA staff.

A battery storage event highlighted the technology’s increasing larger-scale deployment, and that as prices for battery storage drop, the energy transition will accelerate. An event on the IRENA/ADFD Project Facility, described the renewable energy project development fund’s closer collaboration with IRENA’s Project Navigator online platform, to ensure more bankable and technically feasible projects.

“Falling battery electricity storage costs will help accelerate the energy transition, and its disruptive nature.” — Michael Taylor, IRENA Senior Analyst

Policy Day, held the day after the Council at IRENA Headquarters was a forum for a renewable energy policy dialogue. Countries and experts shared experiences and best practices in policy-making for efficiently deploying renewable energy and maximizing benefits. The day provided key input to support IRENA’s Work Programme and was a chance for policy makers and experts to engage in a discussion on key findings stemming from IRENA’s recent work on policy assessments and socio-economic benefits of renewable energy

This year’s Council members, as decided by the January’s 7th Assembly, are Argentina, the Bahamas, Belgium, Burkina Faso, China, Colombia, Egypt, Germany, Ghana, India, Japan, Norway, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, Samoa, Sudan, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the United States of America, and Zimbabwe, with Bangladesh, Cyprus, the Dominican Republic, France, Kenya, Malaysia, Panama, the Philippines, Spain and Uruguay acting as alternate Council members.

For more about the 13th Council, view the opening press release, check out it’s Twitter hashtag (#IRENAcouncil), or visit IRENA’s Flickr album for pictures.

Over 300 delegates representing 110 countries, attended IRENA's 13th Council in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 23-24 May 2017.Over 300 delegates representing 110 countries, attended IRENA’s 13th Council in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 23-24 May 2017.

Indian solar sector has done a great job surpassing 1 GW capacity for rooftop sector out of the set 40 GW target. Given, that the numbers are not pretty impressive if we are to compare it with improvement in the dominant countries, we have to consider that the current growth shows 113 per cent growth metric in 2016 over 2015. Without the industrial strength that supports the dominant countries, India has scaled an incredible height in green energy development. However, Central Electricity Authority of India’s (CEA) latest plan to add about 24 GW rooftop solar capacity within 2027, will need more than just Government backing.

Out of the 1 GW capacity of the Indian rooftop solar sector, commercial and residential holds 263 MW and 260 MW capacity, while Government based installations stand at 121 MW. However, industrial rooftop solar surpasses other sectors with 377 MW capacity. FY 2017 is expected to add another 400 MW to the rooftop solar growth in India, leading the cumulative capacities to 1,500 MW.

India has a total of 300 million houses, and rooftop potential of the country stands up to 1,24,000 MW. And statistics show that with only 1.3% of the total household made solar compatible, it is possible to cover more than 30 per cent of the rooftop potential of our country. And Indian Government is taking incredible initiatives like- introducing huge tenders on solar rooftop installations (1,000 MW by SECI), opting for 7,000 MW rooftop installation on Government buildings to increase the solar growth in the country. However, the rooftop implementation process is not picking up the speed we need it to reach 40 GW by 2022. Solar policies like- net metering and financial support are being announced but yet to be enforced aggressively to see the result we hope for.

Current rooftop solar capacity that stands at only 1,247 MW is only 3 per cent of the 40 GW target ahead of us. Reports prove that India needs to up its game in order to add 53 GW of solar power within next three years. Obviously, the rooftop solar growth plan would involve residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural sectors, introducing a symmetrical progress in all the sectors involved.

However, special focus on residential off grid solar growth is important to bringing in common man in the fold raising awareness with ease. A robust regulatory and policy framework is needed to improve residential solar growth. Better net metering policy and enforcement processes are also needed to further the progress.

An allocation of Rs5,000 crore has already been approved for implementation of grid connected rooftop solar systems. New investments are also coming, promising a better growth trajectory for Indian rooftop sector. However, more focus on skill development, awareness, and financing solutions are needed to successfully scale heights that we are hoping for.

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