Italy’s Relaunch Decree helps homeowners install solar photovoltaic systems for free

May 27, 2020 by  
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Italy has been hit hard by COVID-19 and is attempting to jump-start its economy through the Relaunch Decree, a revitalization package of 55 billion euros ($60 billion) that Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and his cabinet passed earlier this month. The stimulus includes tax breaks for clean energy projects and renovations; Italian homeowners are offered free rooftop installations of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems through the Relaunch Decree. To help Italy recover from the coronavirus-induced recession, incentives — like tax credits for homeowners pivoting toward energy efficient home improvement projects — are offered. According to Ernst & Young’s Global Tax News , “Individuals can offset 110% of qualified building renovation and energy efficiency costs incurred between 1 July 2020 and 31 December 2021 against their tax liabilities in five equal installments (up to certain thresholds).” Related: First home solar pavement installed on a driveway PV Magazine explained that the bonus is “for building-renovation projects from 65% to 110% and a jump in support for PV installations and storage systems associated with such renovation projects, from 50% of costs to 110%.” Any solar photovoltaic installations for the next year-and-a-half will be subsidized. Only a few weeks ago, Green Tech Media warned that Italy’s subsidy-free solar sector had stalled due to the pandemic, placing many projects on hold. While the solar industry is no stranger to vicissitude cycles, the pandemic added unexpected variables. “For the sector, the Relaunch Decree is certainly a great opportunity for the spread of photovoltaics on the roofs of Italian homes,” said Paolo Rocco Viscontini, president of PV association Italia Solare. Italy’s investment incentives for solar should come as no surprise, since Statista describes Italy as “the leading country worldwide for electricity consumption covered by solar PV.” Since the early 2000s, Italy has been a strong proponent of solar installations. In 2017, it unveiled its National Energy Strategy — a 10-year plan to decarbonize, expand renewable energy and promote energy efficiency and environmental sustainability. As of early 2020, Italy is second only to Germany in the photovoltaic sector, with solar power as the country’s preferred renewable energy source. In 2019, Italy had a 69% increase in solar photovoltaic installations compared to 2018. That growth was deemed “the most substantial recorded in Italy” by PV Europe with a grand total of 56,590 new solar power system installations in 2019, of which 50,653 were residential. While COVID-19 dampened photovoltaic growth for Italy’s first quarter of 2020, many nonetheless hope that the Relaunch Decree’s incentives can support a swift restart of the solar PV sector. Tom Heggarty, principal solar analyst for global energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie, said , “Solar [projects are] pretty quick to develop and construct. So once we start to see restrictions lifted, the industry should, theoretically, be in a good place to bounce back quite quickly.” Via EY Global Tax News , PV Magazine , Green Tech Media , Statista and PV Europe Image via Giorgio Trovato

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Italy’s Relaunch Decree helps homeowners install solar photovoltaic systems for free

UNStudio installs new energy-generating facade for solar producer Hanwhas HQ

May 4, 2020 by  
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UNStudio has completed renovations of the Hanwha headquarters in Seoul — all without disrupting the building’s normal business operations. The impressive feat was achieved thanks to efficient and low-impact construction methods that the international design firm dubs “remodeling in place.” In addition to renovated interior spaces and a redesigned landscape , the Hanwha headquarters is now home to a completely new, energy-generating facade with integrated solar panels to express the company’s identity as an ambitious global leader in the solar panel industry.  Located along the Cheonggyecheon in Seoul , the 57,696-square-meter Hanwha headquarters building had been suffering from a disconnect between its dated appearance and the company’s desire to be seen as a leading environmental technology provider. UNStudio won a competition to lead the redesign along with sustainability and facade consultant Arup and landscape design firm Loos van Vilet. Critical to the redesign was the replacement of the original facade, which included horizontal bands of opaque paneling and single-paneled dark glass. The new facade features clear, insulated glass with aluminum framing and integrated solar panels. Related: MVRDV to transform Seoul’s concrete-dominated waterfront into a vibrant, green oasis The renovation takes inspiration from nature and the surrounding environment. For example, the facade opens up along the north side to enable daylighting while the southern facade is more opaque to mitigate unwanted solar gain. The openings in the facade and the placement of facade panels also respond to views and the programs within the rooms. The solar panels are placed on the opaque panels on the south and southeastern facade and are angled for optimal solar harvesting. Glazing has also been positioned to reduce direct solar impact. “By means of a reductive, integrated gesture, the facade design for the Hanwha HQ implements fully inclusive systems, which significantly impact the interior climate of the building, improve user comfort and ensure high levels of sustainability and affordability,” Ben van Berkel, founder of UNStudio, said. “Through fully integrated design strategies, today’s facades can provide responsive and performative envelopes that both contextually and conceptually react to their local surroundings, whilst simultaneously determining interior conditions.” + UNStudio Photography by Rohspace via UNStudio

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UNStudio installs new energy-generating facade for solar producer Hanwhas HQ

Serpentine roof tops a solar-powered community center in Western Sydney

April 16, 2020 by  
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Sydney-based architectural firm Carter Williamson Architects has completed the Woodcroft Neighborhood Center, a civic building that unites the culturally diverse Western Sydney community. Designed to replace the former municipal building that was burned down in 2015, the new fireproof structure is an inspiring landmark for the neighborhood. Crafted with sustainability in mind, the multipurpose building follows passive solar principles and includes a north-facing photovoltaic array and a rainwater harvesting system with 50,000-liter underground tanks. Commissioned by the Blacktown City Council, the Woodcroft Neighborhood Center was created to usher in a new type of civic architecture that promotes inclusivity and resilience while catering to a wide range of ages and a diverse set of community groups. The building comprises four sections — office space, smaller community rooms, a courtyard and a main hall for 200 people with a commercial-scale kitchen — organized around a tall central foyer and through-site link. The building will also serve as a backdrop and facilities hub for the annual Woodcroft Festival. Related: CLT gives a sustainable community center in Copenhagen a welcoming feel Carter Williamson Architects drew inspiration from the landscape and the site’s history as a former brick factory. The community center is constructed from a robust palette of brick, timber and steel. Expanses of glazing strengthen the building’s connections to Woodcroft Lake and Parklands. An eye-catching serpentine roof infilled with white opalescent polycarbonate tops the building. The roofline undulates in response to the interior spaces; the roof rises above the center hall for lofty ceilings and dips downward in the private areas to create a sense of intimacy.  “Creating a magnetic, gregarious space that can be embraced by all, the centre is designed to be kind to neighbours, with storage facilities positioned as acoustic baffles along the walls closest to nearby homes,” the architects explained. “This allows Woodcroft Community Centre to maintain its bold design and stature, which aids in its goal to galvanise and bring together local communities, whilst not negatively impacting surrounding residents. It’s clear Woodcroft Neighbourhood Centre has succeeded, already embraced by the local community, a contemporary icon of Woodcroft, loved by all.” + Carter Williamson Architects Images via Carter Williamson Architects

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Serpentine roof tops a solar-powered community center in Western Sydney

First home solar pavement installed on a driveway

April 6, 2020 by  
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Solar tiles aren’t just for roofs anymore. Platio, a Budapest, Hungary-based tech company, has just installed the first solar pavement for use on a residential driveway. “Roofs are not the only surfaces that can be used for solar energy production,” said Platio co-founder and engineer Imre Sziszák. “Paved areas absorb solar radiation all day long as well. The walkable solar panels of Platio can utilize this new source of clean energy.” Related: New recycled plastic sidewalk harvests energy from the sun The system consists of interlocking units called Platio solar pavers. Each paver is made from 400 recycled PET plastic bottles for a product more durable than concrete, according to the company’s product video . Pavement can be installed in sizes of 10 to 30 square meters and is suitable for driveways, terraces, balconies and patios. The energy generated by Platio tiles is fed back to the household’s power network. A 20-square-meter solar pavement can cover the yearly energy consumption of an average household, according to the video. The developers aimed for aesthetically pleasing tiles that would look good in a driveway and would increase a home’s energy efficiency. The solar pavers are available in black, red, blue and green. Hardened glass tiles protect the solar cells. They are anti-slip, so people can safely walk on them, and the tiles are designed to be able to bear the weight of a car occasionally driving over. Electric car drivers can also use the solar paving system to fuel their vehicles. Inhabitat previously reported on a 50-square-foot solar sidewalk Platio installed at an EV charging station in Budapest. Other uses include connecting a Platio solar paver system in an outdoor square to benches equipped with digital boxes, from which people can charge their mobile devices. Pavers could also fuel streetlights on nighttime walking paths. Unlike roof-mounted solar tile systems, paved areas with good sunlight access have a larger-scale potential for energy production. + Platio Images via Platio

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First home solar pavement installed on a driveway

Coronavirus: Falling power demand is impacting clean energy

March 26, 2020 by  
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With the pandemic spurring a dramatic drop in economic activity across Europe, electricity, renewables and carbon prices have also plummeted

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Coronavirus: Falling power demand is impacting clean energy

Should land be used for solar panels or agriculture?

March 26, 2020 by  
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The burgeoning Solar Sheep movement argues: Why not both?

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Should land be used for solar panels or agriculture?

Should land be used for solar panels or agriculture?

March 26, 2020 by  
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The burgeoning Solar Sheep movement argues: Why not both?

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Should land be used for solar panels or agriculture?

Solar-powered home embraces tree canopy views in all directions

March 4, 2020 by  
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In the coastal township of Barwon Heads, Australian architecture firm Peter Winkler Architects has completed the Green Velvet House, a family’s solar-powered home that sensitively responds to the landscape in more ways than one. Positioned for passive solar design and to maximize views over the surrounding tree canopy, the sustainable dwelling was engineered to minimize impact on the existing terrain. In addition to walls of glass that let in natural light and ventilation, the home draws power from a rooftop solar array and minimizes its environmental footprint with rainwater collection tanks for irrigation and toilet-flushing. Nestled into an existing depression in the site, the Green Velvet House rises to a height of two stories with 580 square meters of living space. Its minimalist appearance — a facade of cement sheets and floor-to-ceiling glazing divided by exposed structural timbers — helps to reduce the building’s visual impact on the landscape. “In response to the program, we have minimized the building footprint by efficiently consolidating the form, rather than creating a sprawling building that overtakes the site,” the team explained. Related: Samurai-inspired home keeps naturally cool in Melbourne To keep the focus on the outdoors, the solar-powered home is surrounded by walls of glass and terraces that invite the owners outdoors on multiple floors. The outdoor spaces and the interiors are protected from unwanted solar gain by generous eaves and horizontal screens. The main living areas and the guest bedroom are located on the ground floor, while the upper floor is reserved for the more private areas, including the master suite and two children’s bedrooms. Plywood walls and a sealed fiber-cement ceiling reference the exterior materials and lend a sense of warmth to the interiors. Recycled “Grey Ironbark” hardwood columns and beams are also featured throughout the building. For energy efficiency, the Colorbond tray deck roof is fitted with a 10.26 kW photovoltaic system . The aluminum sliding doors are also outfitted with double glazing, while the double-hung, sashless windows can be opened for natural ventilation. Three 5,000-liter water tanks were installed beneath the north deck to store rainwater for garden use and toilet-flushing, while other stormwater runoff is retained in bioswales. The home is also equipped with hydronic heating, wood-burning fireplaces and a Sanden heat pump with a 315-liter water tank. + Peter Winkler Architects Photography by Jack Lovel via Peter Winkler Architects

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Solar-powered home embraces tree canopy views in all directions

How long will the slowdown in renewables last?

March 3, 2020 by  
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There was impressive growth in renewables during the last decade, with about $2.6 trillion of clean energy investments. But the market seems poised to transition from a sprint to a long-distance event.

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How long will the slowdown in renewables last?

Jimmy Carter’s solar plant powers half his Georgia hometown

February 25, 2020 by  
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Half of Plains, Georgia’s energy comes from solar panels, thanks to former President — and former farmer — Jimmy Carter. Since installing a solar plant on his former farm in 2017, Carter’s nearly 4,000 solar panels have kept the lights on for many of Plains’ 727 residents. The company SolAmerica first approached Carter with the idea to turn his land into a solar farm. SolAmerica Energy President George Mori recently told People that this experiment is still fueling the town a few years later. On a good sunny day, the panels provide 1.3 megawatts of power, Carter told the Sierra Club soon after the panels were installed. One megawatt provides enough energy to power 400 to 900 homes . Related: Jimmy Carter built a solar plant on his old peanut farm Carter was the first president to embrace solar energy. In 1979, during the Arab oil embargo, he had 32 solar panels installed on the White House. This semi-symbolic gesture served as a reminder to ordinary citizens about the importance of conserving energy. “A generation from now, this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken or it can be a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people; harnessing the power of the sun to enrich our lives as we move away from our crippling dependence on foreign oil ,” Carter said at the time. The White House has undergone a changing relationship with solar energy , as reflected by successive administrations and their attitudes. After Carter left office, President Ronald Reagan had the panels removed. President George Bush had solar panels installed on the grounds during his administration, and in 2010, President Barack Obama ordered panels be reinstalled on the White House. Despite changing trends over time, the 95-year-old former president has remained true to his alternative energy vision. “Distributed, clean energy generation is critical to meeting growing energy needs around the world while fighting the effects of climate change ,” Carter said in 2017. “I am encouraged by the tremendous progress that solar and other clean energy solutions have made in recent years and expect those trends to continue.” Via People and ThoughtCo Image via Baxter Slate

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Jimmy Carter’s solar plant powers half his Georgia hometown

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