Commercial Beekeeping Goes Solar


We've been so focused on solar and energy markets lately, we thought it made sense to look at the fun side of solar for a change.  Here's a story in National Geographic  about how commercial solar is helping commercial beekeeping thrive:

The SolarWise garden in Ramsey, Minnesota, doesn't look especially cutting edge as solar farms go. But in April, it quietly achieved a milestone: It became the first U.S. solar facility to host commercial beekeeping. The apiary is part of an effort to rethink how land for clean energy can be used to supply more than just kilowatts.

Instead of the gravel or turf grass that typically underlies a solar array, the one in Ramsey has low-growing, pollinator-friendly plants and 15 hives installed by Bolton Bees, a local honey producer about 35 miles away in St. Paul. Two other solar apiaries followed in the state, with more on the way.

The rise of solar energy in the United States coincides with a growing awareness that pollinators, which help grow three-quarters of the world's food crops, are in trouble. American produce ranging from almonds to blueberries depends heavily on this winged workforce. But in the U.S., beekeepers lost more than 40 percent of their colonies in 2016 due to a variety of factors.

Read more here.

Solar To Kill Coal Faster Than Most People Think

coal and solar

Coal is on the way out, and faster than most people think.  Here's the story:

Solar power, once so costly it only made economic sense in spaceships, is becoming cheap enough that it will push coal and even natural-gas plants out of business faster than previously forecast.

That's the conclusion of a Bloomberg New Energy Finance outlook for how fuel and electricity markets will evolve by 2040.

Read more here.

Energy bills crushing families

While our focus is commercial energy, we can't overlook stories like this one that show the pain high energy prices are causing across Australia.  Some of the details are sobering with families sacrificing GP visits and skipping meals to pay for power.  Here's an excerpt:

The last of the three energy retail giants has revealed its new prices, with Origin announcing it will increase electricity prices by 16.1 per cent – or $310 a year for the average household – from July 1.

This means residential customers in NSW with either AGLEnergyAustralia or Origin – which control more than 90 per cent of the state's retail market – will pay 17 per cent more on average for electricity next financial year. Last year, the jump was 8 per cent.

However, an EnergyAustralia notice sent to a Randwick family on a basic plan shows that all electricity charges, whether for the first 11kWh of peak usage per day, the next 11kWh, or the balance, have been standardised to 32 cents per kWh, meaning the family is facing a shocking 29.2 per cent increase.

Read the rest of the story here.

Solar Tax Coming For Households?

Not a commercial solar issue, but worth raising just the same because it reflects a potentially important change in the treatment of locally generated solar power and the grid:

The Australian Energy Market Commission, the main rule maker for the industry, is canvassing a potential “solar tax” that could be charged by networks on solar households exporting surplus capacity back into the grid.

The proposal is included in the AEMC’s draft report on the Distribution Market Model, in which it argues that a solar tax may be needed because there is no other way for networks to recoup their costs from solar households.

The proposal is sure to court great controversy in the solar industry. Solar households are already paid little more than the wholesale rate of electricity, partly on the basis that network charges “are unavoidable” for retailers. They suggest that if small generators are charged for network use, then maybe the large generators should be too.

“Any moves to tax the sun in the way that’s being proposed by the AEMC report will be met with very strong community resistance by the 5 million solar voters around the country,” said Shani Tager, from Solar Citizens.

Read more here.