The manufacturing industry meets automation – trends of 2018

The manufacturing industry meets automation – trends of 2018

The idea of automation is not new to manufacturing, but the advancements in terms of technology to make a difference. Automation has plenty of features that win the battle against the skills of human employees. The concept is already widespread in the manufacturing industry because most companies spend tremendous amounts of money on recall and repair expenses. Both the nature and the economics of all manufacturing sectors are influenced by the implementation of automation in their activity, regardless of the labor complexity involved.

Raising technical feasibility is the focal point of the year 2018, to prepare the ground for complete automation. Adapting human capital to these changes involve reducing staff and investing in hardware. Depending on each manufacturing company’s labor supply and demand, these changes could be either positive or negative. The one factor that could influence the outcome is how much research and knowledge sits behind each decision that business owners make.

Automation is a tool for augmenting profitability and reduce labor costs, which is why it is worth the initial investment. Most manufacturing companies choose to invest in programmable logic controllers to increase input and output monitoring. Complex hardware also requires quality technical support, meaning that manufacturing companies should always opt for automation suppliers that can provide repairs, on-site programming and startup assistance. In addition, the opinion of manufacturers should be considered, especially referring to mitigating labor shortages and using new technologies. Providers such as PDF Electric & Supply offer complete hardware solutions and information related to automation products. Manufacturing business owners can choose from the numerous self-contained blocks available on their website while saying goodbye to initial control and debugging. Specialists will deal with complicated programming while companies can take advantage of the many benefits of automation.

Each year comes with tremendous changes in terms of tech. This is the reason why all industries must remain up to date with the latest trends. Energy connections and automation constitute the stepping stone of the manufacturing industry. The future predictions for this niche are promising and everyone should be prepared for the up-and-coming diversifications.

Rana is a successful entrepreneur and contributor at One SEO, a blog where companies can learn more about search engine optimization and better rankings altogether. Rana was involved in diverse SEO projects with above positive outcomes. Backlinks, fresh organic searches, keywords – Rana knows how to accomplish anything that clients desire.

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10 LARGEST WIND TURBINE COMPANIES by CCRES

10 LARGEST WIND TURBINE COMPANIES by CCRES

The ten manufacturers examined here were responsible for over 43GW of new wind capacity in 2016, representing 76% of the global market, and amounting to nearly 20,000 turbines.Their cumulative capacity at the end of last year added up to 380GW, more than three quarters of the worldwide total.

 

 

With more normal service resumed in 2016, Vestas returned to the top. According to FTI Consulting, it installed nearly 9GW last year, taking 15.8% of the global market.

The key word here is “global” because Vestas was active in 34 markets in 2016, more than any other turbine maker, FTI Consulting says. There has been no let-up this year, with the company announcing substantial turbine-purchase orders in some hitherto unlikely places — from China and South Korea to Russia.

The US supplies the lion’s share of the order book though, mainly for the highand medium-wind V100 and V110 2.0MW models.

Low-wind variants — with rotor diameters of 116 and 120 metres — were announced in April and will be in production next year.

The more Europe-centred 3MW platform is being upgraded for a nameplate capacity of 4.2MW with rotor diameters of 117, 136 and 150 metres.

Largely driven by the demands of competitive tendering auctions, especially in Germany, the main focus is on the medium- and low-wind models.

But the V117 will take the platform into typhoon territory for the first time, opening up coastal markets in China, Japan and Vietnam to the company.

The MHI Vestas offshore joint venture came of age in 2017 with the commissioning of Dong Energy’s 258MW Burbo Bank Extension off England’s north-west coast.

It was the first to deploy the V164-8.0MW turbine, but orders are in for UK, German and Dutch offshore projects.

A 9.5MW variant of the V164 was announced in the summer, which has already been specified for Innogy’s 860MW Triton Knoll project in UK waters. The only bad news on the offshore front during 2017 was the loss through fire of the first 9.5MW V164 prototype installed at the onshore Osterild test site in Denmark.

Vestas’s acquisition of independence service providers UpWind Solutions and Availon has paid dividends. Service orders rose from €1.8 billion in 2015 to €10.7 billion last year, the company reported.

Expanding the service operation is only part of the Vestas’ strategy of looking beyond the core business of making and selling machines.

“We have definitely stopped seeing ourselves as merely providing turbines,” says company vice president Morten Dyrholm. “We are looking at ourselves more and more holistically, as part of a larger electrical system where different technologies need to balance up against each other.”

This is still very much a work in progress, although Vestas has been involved in a small-scale hybrid wind-solar and storage schemes. In September the firm confirmed it was working with electric vehicle maker Tesla on energy storage solutions. Pilot projects are planned for 2018, with commercial schemes to follow.

  1. SIEMENS GAMESA, GERMANY and SPAIN

The merger of Siemens and Gamesa, which took effect on 3 April, created a new giant in wind-turbine manufacturing — one with 75GW of installed capacity across 90 countries, 27,000 employees, and a wide range of onshore and offshore hardware.

Six months later, however, and it is still unclear how Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy (SGRE) will fuse its operations and product line-ups. The first casualty, not entirely unexpected, appears to be the Adwen 8MW offshore turbine, which fell under Gamesa’s wing when nuclear group Areva quit the wind business.

Replacing the geared Adwen unit with the direct-drive SGRE 8MW turbine for France’s first offshore projects effectively sounds the death-knell for the Adwen machine.

There may be a future for its gearbox, built by Siemens subsidiary Winergy, in future offshore turbine designs from other OEMs, but that is by no means certain.

Another casualty has been jobs, particularly in blade manufacture, where plants in Canada and Denmark have been closed or cut back. Around 1,500 jobs have been lost this year.

Both arms of the new entity have found the going hard in 2017. Gamesa has been hit by the slowdown in Brazil, and the sudden slump in India as state utilities switch from feed-in-tariffs to competitive tendering.

Siemens has been outgunned by Vestas and GE in the ultra-competitive US market, and has been slow to react to the new demands of the German auction system.

The new company looked in need of a big win, and found it as the leader in the consortium that won a 1GW order in Turkey with a bid of only €34.8/MWh over 12-13 years.

“At that price, they’re welcome to it,” was the off-the-record response of one rival OEM and bidder. The contract includes a commitment to set up manufacturing and research facilities in Turkey, employing mainly local people, and a 65% local content requirement.

The turbine portfolio looks cluttered. Gamesa offers a 2MW platform with rotor diameters ranging from 80 to 114 metres; a 2.5MW family with rotor diameters of 106-126m; and a 3.3MW machine with a rotor diameter of 132m. Siemens’ geared 2.3-2.625MW onshore platform comes in at 101-120m. Its direct-drive onshore family now stands at 3.2-4.3MW with rotor diameters of 101, 108, 113, 120, 130, and 142 metres.

The situation is rather clearer offshore, where the direct-drive SWT-154 turbine, introduced as a 6MW model but now developed to 8MW, has only the MHI Vestas V164 for competition in the 7MW-plus sector.

These two turbines look set to dominate Europe’s offshore market for the next decade, and are well-placed to exploit the nascent US offshore sector.

  1. GE, US

The pull of the domestic market remains strong for GE, but the US turbine maker has been making solid progress of late in a number of other countries, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.

In May, GE announced orders of nearly 200MW for two projects in China. June saw a deal with Mainstream Renewable Power to install 800MW in Vietnam. Highlights over the summer included a 153MW contract in Pakistan and a 453MW deal in Australia.

But the big opportunities lie in the US, well into its production tax credit phase-out boom.

According to Make Consulting’s analysis, announced at the American Wind Energy Association’s conference in May, 50GW of new wind power will be installed in the US by the end of 2020, plus another 7-8GW in repowering.

GE is aiming for a substantial slice of this market and will play hard to get it. It is now taking its chief competitor, Vestas, to the US courts in a patent infringement dispute.

The biggest order of the boom so far was announced in June – 800 2.5MW turbines for the Invenergy-developed 2GW Wind Catcher project in Oklahoma. Repowering deals include one worth roughly 500MW with PacifiCorp in Idaho.

GE’s venture into offshore waters looks less clear-cut. The 6MW Haliade turbine, acquired with Alstom, started its commercial electricity-generating life at Deepwater Wind’s 30MW Block Island site, commissioned in December last year.

Three more turbines are being installed at a demonstration project in China. Beyond that, there are orders for three French projects worth 1.5GW, which remain held up in legal disputes, and 396MW for a German project in the North Sea.

The Haliade’s 6MW nameplate capacity and 150-metre rotor diameter already leave it well behind the MHI Vestas and SGRE competition, raising doubts over its long-term future.

Those doubts grew in May when it was revealed that the European Commission (EC) was investigating GE’s takeover of blade maker LM Wind Power, approved by the EC only two months earlier, on the grounds that GE had initially submitted “misleading information”.

GE allegedly told the EC that it was not planning to develop a 12MW offshore turbine, but European Union regulators had subsequently found evidence to the contrary. The investigation continues.

GE has been heavily dependent on its 1.7-1.85MW and 2.0-2.5MW workhorse platforms for sales. Its 3.2-3.8MW family, aimed at the European markets, especially Germany, has struggled to make headway against the competition from Vestas, Enercon and Nordex, all of which are now working on 4MW-plus turbines.

GE revealed some details of a new 4.8MW machine with a record-setting rotor diameter of 158 metres at September’s Husum trade fair. Aimed at lowand medium-wind sites, it will be available with tower heights ranging from 101 to 161 metres.

4 . GOLDWIND, CHINA

Goldwind was the world’s leading manufacturer in installed capacity in 2015, its 7.88GW taking it past Vestas and GE.

But a slowdown in the Chinese market meant it slipped to third in last year’s rankings, and with the creation of Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy (SGRE) in April, it falls to fourth.

Goldwind reported a 10% fall in revenue and a 21% drop in pre-tax profit in the first half of 2017 compared with a year earlier, compounding fears the slowdown in China may have on its results.

The company’s cumulative installed capacity at the end of 2016 stood at just over 38GW, but only 1.4GW of that is outside China.

In 2016, it supplied turbines to three markets outside China — more than any of its domestic rivals — and that looks set to rise in the coming years.

The shining light in its international arsenal is the Goldwind Americas subsidiary. Towards the end of last year, the firm won a 1.87GW deal for developer Viridis Eolia’s multi-phase project in Wyoming. Delivery of the 2.5MW and 3MW turbines is due between now and 2022.

Elsewhere, over the summer Goldwind signed a memorandum of understanding with Saudi Arabian government agencies to research investment opportunities and potential manufacturing sites.

The company is adding storage to its catalogue. In August, Goldwind signed a letter of intent with Swedish storage company SaltX to develop a “solution for wind power with integrated energy storage”. Goldwind plans to join SaltX’s thermal energy-storage technology in a “megawatt-scale system” in Beijing.

Another year like 2015 may be a few years away for Goldwind, but it has realised to reach those heights again it needs to have a multi-pronged attack and cannot rely simply on quantity to secure a market position. It takes innovation and diversity as well.

  1. ENERCON, GERMANY

Speaking at the Hannover Messe trade fair in April, Enercon’s managing director, Hans-Dieter Kettwig, forecast gross performance of roughly €5.5 billion for 2017, with installations expected to reach up to 4GW. This is an increase from the 3.6GW installed in 2016, as reported by FTI Consulting.

Kettwig’s comments offer a rare glimpse of the financial health of Enercon. Operating as an independent conglomerate of limited-liability companies, it is immune to the pressures of quarterly public reporting, unlike its stock-exchange-listed competitors.

Enercon’s presence in 26 markets last year was second only to Vestas, according to the FTI figures, indicative of the work it does in smaller markets, including Bolivia, Costa Rica, Estonia, Taiwan and Vietnam. Historically it has steered clear of the US and China.

Equally notable is that its most popular turbine was the E115-3MW – all of the other top OEM’s biggest-selling models were 2.4MW or smaller.

This year saw Enercon’s re-entrance to the Indian market, following the completion of a decade-long legal dispute with its former joint-venture partner in the country, now trading as WindWorld India.

Enercon wants to refurbish 1,200 of its turbines on the subcontinent and has set about securing non-exclusive cooperation agreements with independent service providers for repair and maintenance.

The firm kick-started this year’s 4MW onshore revolution with the launch of its 4.2MW direct-drive turbine towards the end of 2016. Most of its main rivals have since followed suit, only for Enercon to completely change tack, revealing its radical new modular approach for its 3.5MW platform in August.

The company’s wide-ranging technology portfolio includes everything from the smallest EP1 (800-900kW) via the EP2 (2-2.35MW), EP3 (3.05-3.2MW), EP4 (4.2MW) and ending with the EP8 (7.58MW).

With the addition of the new modular EP3 3.5MW design, Enercon acknowledged the shift to auction systems around the world, which demand performance at a lower cost, particularly in Germany, where the company is trying to hold on to its position as market leader even as that market shrinks.

  1. NORDEX GROUP, GERMANY

Lars Bondo Krogsgaard lasted less than two years as Nordex CEO, resigning in March after the company reduced its revenue forecasts for 2017 and 2018, which prompted a steep fall in its share price.

He was replaced by his deputy and COO, Jose Luis Blanco, former CEO of Acciona Windpower.

The news was a little more positive by the year’s halfway point, with the company recording €572 million of new orders in Q2, bringing its total order backlog to €3.6 billion, including service contracts.

The service division is now expanding quickly, up 24% on 2016 levels with a turnover of over €150 million.

But there is more pain to come. In September, Blanco announced that the group was looking to cut €21 billion from its materials and operating costs, and a further €24 million in personnel costs, with the loss of 400-500 jobs across Europe, mostly in Germany.

Germany’s shift to competitive tendering has created uncertainty in Nordex’s domestic market, and the pure players, including Enercon and Senvion, are struggling to adapt.

“We are responding to the changes in business volume by stepping up cost discipline to support our profitability,” said Blanco.

The big news on the product front was the unveiling in September of the latest development of the 3MW Delta platform, launched in 2013.

The new model — aimed at low- and medium-speed wind sites — has a nameplate capacity of 4-4.5MW and a rotor diameter of 149 metres. The first prototype will be installed in autumn 2018, with full-scale production starting the following year.

The company has also been testing a 134-metre tubular steel tower with a diameter of 4.3 metres, which passes German transport restrictions.

  1. SENVION, GERMANY

The US-owned, German-headquarted turbine maker failed to make the 2016 top ten for installed capacity, according to FTI figures. But its cumulative capacity, international reach and turbine portfolio push it up in our rankings.

In the past 18 months the company has revealed new models for its 3MW platform, teased the development of a 10MW-plus offshore turbine, entered a raft of new markets, announced a 4.6% fall in revenues in H1 2017 and plans to cut 780 jobs, mainly at manufacturing sites in Germany. The firm is moving into two years of “transition”, explained CEO Jürgen Geissinger.

The former Schaeffler chief has been the role for almost two years. In that time the firm has entered six new markets with supply deals in Croatia, Chile, Norway, Ireland, Serbia, and Italy (offshore), plus a troubled re-entry to India following its sale from previous owner Suzlon to Centerbridge Partners in 2015.

Senvion’s onshore portfolio ranges from its MM 2-2.05MW series, of which the MM92 is its bestseller, to the 3.7M144 that was unveiled at Husum in September This turbine has already been specified for a 429MW project in Australia.

  1. UNITED POWER, CHINA

A wholly owned subsidiary of the China Guodian Corporation, one of the country’s five largest state-owned power generators, United Power has felt the effects of the slowdown in wind installations in China.

According to FTI, United Power installed 3.09GW of new capacity in 2015, all of it in China, for a 4.9% share of the global market. In 2016 that dropped to 2.13GW and 3.8%. It remains China’s second biggest turbine manufacturer although well behind Goldwind.

Sales are concentrated on a 1.5MW turbine with an 86-metre rotor diameter, designed by German wind power consultancy Aerodyn Engineering.

European expertise has also influenced its 2MW turbine (97-metre rotor diameter) and 3MW model (120 metres). A prototype 6MW offshore turbine with a rotor diameter of 136 metres was unveiled several years ago, but United Power did no offshore business in 2016.

  1. ENVISION ENERGY, CHINA

Envision’s 1.5MW turbine with a 93-metre rotor diameter
Envision has been exploring new markets and new technologies to compensate for the slowdown in China. It installed just over 2GW in 2016, mostly at home, but it won a 90MW deal in Mexico and has signed contracts for 185MW of projects in Argentina.

The firm acquired the French onshore wind portfolio of European developer Velocita Energy Developments, which includes a 500MW pipeline. It has also been doing its homework in India, ahead of a possible entry into the world’s fourth-largest market.

A European consortium last year selected Envision’s low-wind turbines to be fitted with a direct-drive superconductor generator — a device claimed to be capable of tripling wind-power generation.

In 2016 the firm unveiled its EnSight energy analytics platform and EnOS system, which it claims can manage “all types of energy infrastructure”, from wind turbines to storage devices, and smart grids to home appliances.

Technology giants have taken notice, and this year Microsoft and Accenture teamed up with Envision to develop an internet-of-things programme.

  1. SUZLON, INDIA

India’s leading domestic turbine maker only makes to top ten on the back of its historical record and the future promise of its domestic market.

It installed 1.14GW in 2016, placing it 16th in FTI’s table of leading wind turbine suppliers. But it lies eighth in terms of cumulative capacity, with 16.8GW of turbines operating in North and Latin America, Europe and Australia.

India’s ambitious wind targets offer ample opportunities for growth, not least in repowering, but other manufacturers are eyeing the market, and Suzlon will have to up its game on the technological front.

Because we are from Croatia, we have to mention Croatian company KONČAR.

Wind Turbines made by KONČAR are completely automatized wind turbines. They are initialled when the wind speed reaches the power designed for their start-up. The wind turbine output power raises with the speed of the wind. Wind turbines reach their nominal power at a certain wind velocity (depending on the wind turbine type).

When the wind reaches a speed for which the wind turbine is designed to stop working, blades start to rotate on their axes until they obtain the position in which they put up the lowest resistance to the wind and the wind turbine is under the so-called free-wheeling condition, the condition of free rotation.

The nacelle is equipped with a yaw system, turning the nacelle always towards the wind. All nacelle components are installed in a line related to the wind turbine main axis. Besides the nacelle yaw system, the wind turbine also has a generator excitement system, control system, lubrication system, braking system, blade turning system, fire alarming system and a nacelle air-conditioning and heating system.

The direct wind turbine operation solution (without a gearbox) has several benefits compared to other possible solutions. Such turbines use more wind power by 10-15 % transforming it into the electric power, decrease mechanical losses and the level of noise, achieve higher operational safety and it is also worthwhile to mention the benefit of a simpler maintenance of those wind turbines.

Zeljko Serdar,

Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources (CCRES)

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The future of food and farming post 2020



The future of EU food and farming – Communication on the Common Agricultural Policy post-2020


Why is a new reform necessary?
The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is one of the oldest policies of the European Union (EU). It successfully fulfilled its original objectives of securing supply of good quality, safe and affordable food products while supporting European farmers. Since 1962, the CAP has undergone many reforms and its adaptability is what makes it still relevant. The world is moving fast and so are the challenges facing not only the farmers but our societies as a whole. Climate change, price volatility, political and economic uncertainty, growing importance of global trade: farmers need to learn every day how to operate in a changing environment and it is up to the legislators to accompany them throughout these changes and to provide legal clarity and simplicity in the medium and long term.
The European agricultural policy turned the EU into the agri-food superpower that it is now: the EU if the first agri-food exporter globally, has an unparalleled reputation for its culinary heritage and food products, and for the savoir-faire of its producers. But the EU cannot be complacent: a success can also hide many individual difficulties.
The CAP needs to lead the transition towards a more sustainable agriculture. The CAP needs to help foster the sector’s resilience in times of crisis and support farmers’ income and viability. The CAP needs to fully accommodate digital innovations that make the everyday jobs of farmers easier, reduce red tape and could favour the sector’s much-needed generational renewal. The CAP needs to strengthen European rural areas, which are the core of our European traditions and family farm model.
The Communication published today provides orientations in terms of addressing these objectives and meeting the emerging challenges, with a less prescriptive approach and greater subsidiarity at Member State level, to bring the CAP closer to those who implement it on the ground.
How can the revised policy be discussed without knowing what the budget and the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) will be?
Money is a means to an end. The Communication discusses how to improve the CAP’s value for money. Now is the time to reflect on our objectives and future architecture of the policy. This will steer the debate without prejudging the Commission proposal for the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), expected for May 2018.
Why does the Communication not contain more detail on some issues?
The Communication points towards the challenges and opportunities ahead, puts forward orientations and indicates further paths to be explored. More debate and work will be needed over the next months to advance on the directions outlined therein and to refine concepts. The same way that the Communication outlines a less prescriptive approach and more subsidiarity, the Commission wants to continue the debate on practicalities with a wide range of stakeholders and co-legislators.
What are the next steps?
Over the next months the discussion and work on the concrete objectives, architecture and design of the future policy will advance in parallel with the work on the next MFF. This will be done notably in form of an impact assessment exploring different options by making use of the elements gathered from stakeholders and citizens (e.g. the public consultation carried on in 2017, Re-Fit inputs, the Cork 2.0 conference “The CAP: Have your say” conference) and intensifying the collection and processing of evidence. Following the expected Commission proposal for the next MFF in May 2018, legislative proposals on the future CAP are expected before the summer of 2018.
How will the future CAP be simpler for farmers and administrations in Member States?
Who wants to measure their hedges because “Brussels said so”? Why would an Italian farmer face the same environmental requirements as a Finnish farmer though they farm in very different conditions?
The future CAP will have common objectives and a set of measures to achieve the said objectives. From this common set of measures, Member States, either at national or regional level, will be able to pick their preferred panel of options to achieve the goals set at EU level.
Moving from a one-size-fits-all to a tailor-made approach means that the EU requirements will be reduced to a strict minimum. The actual needs on the ground will be assessed and fed by Member States into a CAP strategic plan approved at EU level. We are aiming at establishing a pact of trust with our rural areas, with our farmers.
The strengthening of farm advisory services for farmers and the full implementation of geospatial aid applications will also of course further support the simplification of aid applications and the implementation of investment measures.
How will this new approach function in practice?
The Union should set the basic policy parameters based on the objectives of the CAP, fulfilling the  EU Treaty obligations but also the already agreed objectives and targets on for instance the environment, climate change (COP 21), and a number of sustainable development goals.
Each Member State should establish a “CAP strategic plan”, which would cover interventions in both pillar I and pillar II. This plan will tailor CAP interventions to maximise their contribution to EU objectives taking better into account local conditions and needs, against such objectives and targets. At the same time, Member States would also have a greater say in designing the compliance and control framework applicable to beneficiaries (including controls and penalties).
These strategic plans would be prepared not in isolation but in the framework of a structured process and the Commission would assess and approve such plans. This would maximise the contribution of the CAP towards the EU priorities and objectives and the achievement of Member States’ climate and energy targets. It would also enhance the EU added value and preserve a functioning agricultural internal market.
While Member States should bear greater responsibility and be more accountable as to how they meet the objectives and achieve agreed targets, the new approach will continue to ensure a level playing field, preserving the common nature and the two pillars of the policy.
Is it the first step to renationalise the CAP?
This EU added-value has never been questioned and the CAP remains one of the flagship EU policies. Acknowledging that one size does not fit all is pragmatic. What are the local realities? What are the farmers’ concrete circumstances? This is about acknowledging the varied agriculture, agronomic production potential, climatic, environmental and socio-economic conditions across the EU. It is about embracing our diversity instead of trying to impose one single model.
The input gathered by the EU-wide online public consultation from February until May 2017 was strongly supportive of the added-value of managing agricultural policy at European level since this ensures a level playing field within the single market. Only with a common European approach can agriculture respond more effectively to the shared challenges such as environmental protection and climate action. The need to maintain economic, social and territorial cohesion across the EU as well as the need for a common framework of sharing best practices was also frequently mentioned.  
While the specific details of the implementation of the measures will be done at national/regional level, the EU will guarantee a well-defined regulatory and budgetary framework in order to ensure that our common objectives are met through common instruments, in line with the EU Treaties and to fulfil the EU’s international commitments on climate and sustainable development.
Why is the CAP relevant for the environment?
Agriculture covers almost half the land surface area of the EU, and on that territory it works in a very close relationship with the environment. On the one hand, it depends on various natural resources – i.e. soil, water, air and biodiversity – and is heavily influenced by the climate. On the other hand, agriculture shapes the environment in which it operates – not only through its use of natural resources but also by creatingand maintaining landscapes that embody our European diversity and provide essential wildlife habitats.
The CAP has an essential role in making farming’s relationship with the environment and climate as mutually beneficial as possible. It also offers support in some cases to rural-based non-agricultural businesses which can influence the environment – e.g. in the forestry sector and other parts of the bio-economy.
The future CAP needs to promote and support climate-smart farming, it needs to place sustainability at the core of its priorities and actions.
How will the future CAP support farmers in protecting the environment?
As a foundation, farmers receiving income support from the CAP will have to apply various environment- and climate-friendly practices. Member States will determine the detail of these – in line with the need to meet EU-level objectives but also taking into account national, regional and local circumstances. The system will draw on strengths currently observed in the CAP but will involve fewer and less complex rules in EU legislation.
Eco-friendly action which goes beyond this foundational level of good practice will be supported through schemes which are voluntary for farmers – at a relatively basic level, and above that more advanced schemes. Once again, Member States will be responsible for designing the schemes, in such a way as to meet EU objectives translated into national, regional and local terms.
The CAP will also place strong emphasis on unlocking the potential of research, innovation, training and the use of advice to improve care for the environment and climate, including through greater resource efficiency.
If you entrust environmental commitments to Member States, how can you ensure a level playing field among farmers? Will we end up with 28 different systems?
Today’s Communication marks a significant step change in the implementation of the CAP. Respecting the commitment to subsidiarity and less complexity, the Commission’s scrutiny of national/regional plans will ensure that choices made are not manifestly mistaken or inadequate to meet the performance objectives and the basic EU requirements. The Commission would assess and approve the national/regional strategic plans with a view to maximising the contribution of the CAP towards the EU priorities and objectives and the achievement of Member States’ climate and energy targets. This is important to ensure the maintenance of a common approach to the delivery of environment and climate objectives across Member States. Increased ambition is the only viable policy option in this regard.
The Commission will also maintain its key roles as guardian of the Treaties and as the institution ultimately responsible for the management of the EU budget and, as part of the process of scrutinising national/regional plans, the Commission will look carefully at how to avoid over-regulation.
Are the two pillars (direct payments/market measures and rural development) remaining in place?
The two pillars are two complementary facets of the CAP, which should remain in place. They structure the CAP around two essential broad types of intervention. The first pillar supports farmers on an annual basis in the form of direct payments and market measures, which are subject to compliance with basic rules and environmental objectives. The second pillar is a multiannual and flexible investment tool, more adapted to the local realities of each Member State, in particular to help support longer term projects.
How can we ensure that the future CAP will be fairer and that smaller and medium-sized farms will get the support they need?
In 2015, the first year of implementation of the last CAP reform, 20% of farmers received around 80% of direct payments. This raises understandable concerns of economic efficiency and social equity in the public debate.
In fact, this reflects the concentration of land and the nature of the support, which is largely area-based. Furthermore, more than half of its beneficiaries are very small farms and most of the payments (72% in 2015) go to medium-size professional (family) farms (from 5 to 250 ha) who manage most of the EU agricultural land (71%) hence are the main responsible for the delivery of public goods and environmental benefits.
Still, the Commission is committed to explore ways to further target direct payments more effectively and ensure a fair and better targeted support of farmers’ income across the EU, as evoked in the Reflection paper on the future of EU finances. The following non-exhaustive list of possibilities should be further explored:
A compulsory capping of direct payments taking into account labour to avoid negative effects on jobs;
Degressive payments could be introduced as well, as a way of reducing the support for larger farms;
Enhanced focus on a redistributive payment in order to be able to provide support in a targeted manner e.g. to small-medium sized farms;
Ensure support to genuine farmers, focussing on those who are actively farming in order to earn a living.
Will farmers be treated equally across the EU?
At the same time as the CAP is ensuring that support is targeted to genuine farmers, focussing on those who are actively farming in order to earn their living, it also needs to play its role in following the principles of “Equality between its Members, big or small, East or West, North or South”, which were recalled by President Juncker in his State of the Union address of 2017.
In this sense, it should reduce differences between Member States in CAP support. Even if the wide diversity of relative costs of labour and land as well as the different agronomic potentials across the EU should be acknowledged, all EU farmers face similar challenges with regard to market volatility, the environment and the climate.
What is the role of the CAP to promote rural prosperity?
The CAP is not only acting on the farming sector, but helps boosting local rural economies and enhancing rural prosperity. Rural development funds can for example support the setting up of an artisan’s business. New jobs’ opportunities and increase of growth potential can appear in rural areas through support of new rural value chains such as clean energy, the emerging bio-economy, the circular economy and ecotourism, investments in infrastructure, natural and human capital, including vocational training, programmes to develop new skills, quality education and connectivity. “Smart villages”, as an emerging concept, will help communities address issues of inadequate infrastructures and employment opportunities.
How can the Commission encourage the setting-up of young farmers and generation renewal in the sector?
Generational renewal should become a priority in a new policy framework, but Member States are in the best position to stimulate generational renewal using their powers on land regulation, taxation, inheritance law or territorial planning. The CAP should give flexibility to Member States to develop tailor made schemes that reflect the specific needs of their young farmers.
The CAP strategic plans could include support for skills development, knowledge, innovation, business development and investment support. The CAP should also help mitigate this risk in the first years after launching a farming business by providing an EU-wide system of support to the first installation. Access to financial instruments to support farm investments and working capital should be facilitated and better adapted to the investment needs and higher risk profiles of new entrants. Support to the new generation of farmers could be combined with the appropriate incentives to facilitate the exit of the older generation and the transfer of knowledge among generations as well as to increase land mobility and facilitate succession planning.
Why does the CAP need to support innovation? What is the rationale?
Agriculture and our rural areas face a number of challenges for which new solutions need to be found. We need better advice and more innovation. Public involvement in research and innovation is necessary to bridge the gap between rural areas in demand of digital innovations and better connectivity and providers of new technologies.
For example, sensors could detect and prevent poor health in animals early on and reduce the need for treatment. Real-time access to information about sunlight intensity, soil moisture, markets, herd management and more provides for better and faster decisions by farmers.
It makes sense to cooperate on research an innovation at EU level. By learning from each other in different parts of the EU we will develop better knowledge and will adopt innovation faster.
When facing volatility and market crisis, what kind of support can the farmers expect from the future CAP?
Be it sanitary or phytosanitary crises, climate change-related events or market volatility, farmers face high risks and pressure on incomes. The Commission has always and will always stand by farmers, as evidenced by the two latest solidarity packages each worth €500 million, but the higher frequency of risks calls more a more systematic approach.
The farming sector needs an adequate framework for risk management, which combines EU-level support with Member States’ national tools and private sector instruments.
For example, the possibility to set up a sector-specific income stabilisation tool, with lower loss thresholds to trigger compensation, is expected to make it more attractive for both farmers and administrations. At the same time, a careful assessment needs to be carried out as to whether new tools or types of support should be introduced. In this context, cooperation among farmers and along the food chain should be fostered, including mutualisation and integrated services, for risk sharing purposes.
What will the EU-level platform on risk management entail?
The limited awareness of farmers and other stakeholders of the available tools and their relative lack of experience in implementing them has been one of the main barriers to the uptake of risk management instruments in the last few years.
The EU-level platform on risk management will be a platform for all actors involved, from farmers and public authorities to research institutes and private sector players (ex. insurance companies) to share knowledge and exchange best practices.
The Commission will be involved, as appropriate, as a facilitator and will develop the platform on a dedicated website.
Under the platform, expert groups, working panels, seminars and events will be organised around specific risk management topics, e.g. loss calculation using index-based systems. Moreover, the platform will offer the possibility to gather together private or public initiatives on risk management at local level, and relevant work in other policy fields, e.g. climate change adaptation, agro-meteorology, etc.
Why should the CAP stimulate investments and how can financial instruments support farmers?
A flexible CAP investment tool is essential to support competitiveness, innovation, climate change adaptation and mitigation and ultimately the sustainability of agriculture and rural areas.Modernising a farm, setting up new technologies, renovating irrigation systems are all actions that require a lot of frontload money and are substantial financial efforts that farmers cannot be expected to do all on their own. The public funds available for grants are not sufficient to address the growing investment needs of the sector. Rough estimations show that the market gap for financing agriculture is between €1.6 and €4.1 billion for short-term loans, and between €5.5 and €14.8 billion for long-term loans.
Financial instruments, such as loans, guarantees and equity funds, can ease access to finance for those farmers (e.g. small holders, new entrants, etc.) or agri-food producers, who find it difficult to obtain the necessary funds to either enter the business or develop it. By bringing together EU and private funding, they shall have a multiplier effect, i.e. increased investment volumes (leverage).

Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources(CCRES)

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No-till farm technique

No-till farm technique

No-till is a technique and tool to achieve the farmer’s objectives of reducing tillage and building soil health. It is also a whole farm system. And these techniques and tools can work equally well on all farms. The term basically describes ways to grow crops each year without disturbing the soil through tillage or plowing. A true no-till system avoids disturbing the soil with tools like chisel plows, field cultivators, disks, and plows. No-till can help your farm in a number of different ways but it is imperative that the system be implemented in a way that encourages success.

Here are just a few of the key concepts to think about:

• No-till depends on the cover crops to provide the nutrition needs of the cash crop. Of course, the nutrients from the cover crops are not available immediately. They are partially available the first year and partially available in successive years.  If your soil is low in organic matter, or if you have not farmed organically before, it may take a while to build the soil.  Think of it as money in the bank. You’re investing in your soil, and as time progresses you will be able to cash in on the dividends or interest from your account.

• Kill is achieved with a roller-crimper rather than synthetic herbicides. It works by rolling the cover crop plants in one direction, crushing them and crimping their stems. The roller-crimper can be front-mounted on a tractor, freeing up the rear of the tractor for a no-till planter, drill or transplanter to plant directly into the rolled cover crop. While other tools, such as a stalk chopper, rolling harrows, and mowers have been used for this purpose, the roller-crimper has several advantages over other tools.

• The rolled cover crop acts as a mulch, preventing annual weeds from growing through the entire season. To achieve adequate weed control, the cover crop should be planted at a high rate and produce approximately 3 to 4 tons to the acre of dry matter. For this reason, cover crops that yield a high amount of biomass work best for the no-till system. It’s also important to select cover crops with a carbon to nitrogen ratio higher than 20:1.  The higher the ratio, the more carbon, and the more slowly the crop will break down.  This will provide consistent weed management through the season.

Here are some suggestions about how to get started—without planting a single seed. The following ideas will help you become a successful no-till farmer, while managing the risks of adjusting to a new system.

Reading and learning
Find out as much as you can about which cover crops do well in your area. This might include talking to other no-till farmers, taking advantage of resources available at your local Extension office, and following up by consulting reference guides.

Assess your farm
Look at your soil types, the crops you intend to plant, the equipment and resources you have and the time you have to explore new planting systems. Like any changes on your farm, knowledge is power and understanding how new cover crop management tools will fit into your operation will be critical to your success.

Source local seed
Locally adapted cover crop seed will give you an edge, providing a crop that’s already adapted to your area.  It will be less likely to winter kill and may perform better on your farm. Since it may take some time to track down a local source, you should begin early.  This is especially true for organic seed since quantities may be limited.

Test plot
Perhaps the biggest source of risk comes from transitioning to a new management system and a completely new technology. During the first couple of years, the learning curve may be fairly steep.  It’s a good idea to start with a small, experimental area or test plot on your farm.
Cover crops are an essential part of any organic system but are especially crucial to the success of no-till in an organic operation and provide a multitude of benefits:

Increase soil organic matter
No-till is an intensive system which requires at least 3 to 4 tons of dry matter per acre to be effective. Cover crops are grown to their full potential, instead of being tilled in at an earlier growth stage. This means that, in general, the organic matter will be higher in carbon and lower in nitrogen making for long-lasting benefits as mulch for weed management.

Provide year-round cover for the soil
Covering the soil increases infiltration, reduces evaporation, stabilizes soil temperatures, provides habitat for soil life, and reduces soil crusting.

Decrease erosion
The roots of the cover crop stabilize soil and reduce runoff, while the above-ground portion of the plants protects the soil against the destructive force of raindrops. In an organic no-till system, actively growing cover crops (or, the rolled and killed cover crops) are in place during key times when erosion can occur, including spring melt, winter thaws, and summer storms.

Capture, hold and stabilize nutrients
Many cover crops (also called “catch crops”) are excellent scavengers of nitrogen and other nutrients. Rye, in particular, can scavenge 25%-100% of residual nitrogen left behind from the previous crop. As covers are rolled down and begin to decompose, this nitrogen is slowly released for use by the subsequent cash crops. Buckwheat is especially good at capturing phosphorus and releasing it for use by cash crops. Cover crop roots can also forage deeper in the soil, bringing calcium and potassium up from untapped soil layers. Unlike chemical fertilizers, organic amendments are more likely to provide a slow release of nutrients.

Increase biological activity
No-till increases diversity on the farm by providing year-round habitat and minimizing soil disturbance. Cover crops provide roots which nourish microorganisms and stabilize organic matter. Aboveground, beneficial insects find both habitat and nectar sources which may lessen the severity of pest insect problems.

Reduce field operations
In organic no-till, the yearly field operations can be as few as two: one pass to roll the cover crop and plant, and another to harvest the crop. Additional field operations may be used at other points in the rotation to establish the cover crops; however, these crops generally don’t require any cultivation to manage weeds.

Save energy
According to some estimates, up to 80% of the energy used in the production of corn is conserved by converting to organic no-till. While the production system may require approved organic fertilizers, energy savings are realized through the elimination of conventional nitrogen fertilizer.

Provide non-chemical weed management
For organic farmers, weed management is ranked as the number one challenge in most surveys. No-till can help by breaking weed cycles and by providing cover through much of the growing season.

If no-till trend caught on, it could have a few big climate benefits. It would lock more carbon in the soil and curtail fossil-fuel use in farm operations. The UNEP estimates that no-tillage operations in the United States have helped avoid 241 million metric tons of carbon-dioxide since the 1970s. That’s equivalent to the annual emissions of about 50 million cars.

Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources (CCRES)

Posted in ALTERNATIVE, CCRES, CROATIAN CENTER of RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES, HCOIE, HRVATSKI CENTAR OBNOVLJIVIH IZVORA ENERGIJE, RENEWABLE ENERGY, zeljko serdar | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Silvopasture systems

Silvopasture in Croatia

Silvopasture is the intentional combination of trees, forage plants and livestock together as an integrated, intensively-managed system. Silvopasture can provide profitable opportunities for softwood or hardwood timber growers, forest landowners, and livestock producers.

Silvopasture is the most commonly practiced form of agroforestry today, covering 1.1 billion acres worldwide. The theory is simple: Combine trees or woody shrubs and pasture grasses to foster greater livestock yields. What happens if you intensify the process? Add more animals, plant different types of trees, and rotate the herd more quickly? It seems counterintuitive that it could have a beneficial effect on land and climate, but it does.

Developed by ranchers, intensive silvopasture is practiced today on more than 500,000 acres in Australia, Colombia, and Mexico. Most systems use a quickly growing, edible, leguminous woody shrub: Leucaena leucocephala. Planted 4,000 per acre, it is intercropped with grasses and native trees. Trees keep the wind in check and improve water retention, which causes increases in biomass. Livestock move through rapid rotational grazing. Species biodiversity doubles, stocking rates nearly triple, and animals gain more weight.

Sound too good to be true? In a five-year study of intensive silvopasture in which trees were incorporated with grasses and Leucaena leucocephala, the rate of carbon sequestration was roughly three tons per acre, a high rate for any land use.

Farmers in Croatia will have the opportunity to see first hand a project which seeks to demonstrate the feasibility and profitability of combining trees, forage crops and livestock.

Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources (CCRES) at CCRES Research facility in

Lika-Senj County is managed by Zeljko Serdar. Additional funding over three years will be provided by the Agriculture Program of the CCRES.

Through new plantings and thinning of existing woodlands, CCRES will show three stages in the development of a silvopastoral system. Starting last year, 2016, trees were planted o­n an existing mature pasture. Tube shelters protect the trees from animal damage and improve growing conditions. In this silvopastoral system, pasture crops will provide short term income while tree crops of different rotation lengths will yield medium and long term returns. Nitrogen-fixing forage species, pasture fertilization and animal manure all help improve the soil and tree nutrition. Grazing controls competing brushy species and reduces fire hazard. Trees create a sheltered microclimate to protect animals from heat and cold. Shelter also improves forage quality and lengthens its growing season.

One visible effect of including trees in pastures is the shady haven which they provide for livestock o­n hot summer days. The benefits of providing protection from the hot rays of the summer sun are obvious. It easily follows that animals, which are unable to shelter from the direct sun during the heat of the day, will have to expend energy to deal with their discomfort and/or reduce their feeding activity. Their productivity should decline in proportion to the time spent under these unfavorable conditions. Increased livestock production during hot weather is promoted by CCRES as o­ne of the benefits of having trees. However, there is very little published research available to either verify or disprove this widely held belief.

The prunings of some trees can also be used as fodder, e.g. poplar. The result is better livestock growth. Birds can use conifer trees as perches. From the tops of tree rows, they can easily survey the pasture alleys for insects, worms, and other food items.

Careful observation of animals behavior is necessary to detect and correct potential problems with browsing or rubbing of trees.

In summary, our experience is that silvopastures planted in rows are far superior for livestock production than are either grid or cluster plantings. Trees planted in rows with wide open spaces for pasture production between them, support high forage production and facilitate agricultural operations and animal herding. The large amount of edge created and maintained long into the timber rotation tends to maintain high biodiversity

Electric fencing or individual tree guards may be necessary to protect trees if animals are introduced when they are still small. Fencing is also used in rotational grazing methods to better control forage consumption.

Throughout the duration of the CCRES project at CCRES Research facility, Zeljko Serdar and others will monitor tree growth, crop and animal yields, fuel use and soil fertility. The practical results of the project will be shared with other farmers, both through o­n-site field days and educational displays at other meetings.

Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources (CCRES)

Posted in ALTERNATIVE, CROATIAN CENTER of RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES, HRVATSKI CENTAR OBNOVLJIVIH IZVORA ENERGIJE, RENEWABLE ENERGY | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Agroforestry in Croatia

Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources (CCRES) is a non governmental organization registered and working in Croatia in the field of renewable energy, agroforestry, reforestation and sustainable land uses. The organization started working at CCRES Research facility in the year 2013 and has been involved with giving farmers free seeds, training farmers and community at large on more about agroforestry techniques and environmental conservation awareness. CCRES has been able to facilitate planting of trees in forest lands, community farms, schools, waterlines and private lands. Some of the benefits the farmers have been able to acquire from the organization include; free seeds, free training manuals in agroforestry, workshops in agroforestry and sustainable land uses. 

Agrošumarstvo se uglavnom sastoji od miješanja sadnje stabala sa sadnjom usjeva i/ili uzgojem stoke. To omogućuje bolju iskorištenost resursa, pomaže povećanju bioraznolikosti i može povećati prinose.

U sklopu Hrvatskog Centra Obnovljivih Izvora Energije (HCOIE), objavili smo svoje nove planove za razvoj ekološki održivih šumarskih praksi diljem Hrvatske. Ovi projekti imaju za cilj smanjiti negativan utjecaj na okoliš te integrirati prakse upravljanja šumama u agroekologiju.

Agrošumarstvo se uglavnom sastoji od miješanja sadnje stabala sa sadnjom usjeva i/ili uzgojem stoke. To omogućuje bolju iskorištenost resursa, pomaže povećanju bioraznolikosti i u konačnici povećava prinose. Studija HCOIE pokazala je da parcela od 100 ha pod agrošumarskim praksama daje ekvivalent od 136 ha pod standardnim principima korištenja, dajući tako potencijalni ekonomski rast za proizvođače koje takve prakse usvoje.

Koncept ima velik broj prednosti po pitanjima uzgoja usjeva i zaštite okoliša. U principu, drveće kroz svoje korijenje stvara uvjete u tlu koji potiču bolju apsorpciju vode i minerala usjevima na površini. Agrošumarske tehnike potiču strateško pozicioniranje stabala kako bi se maksimiziralo povećanje prinosa. Dodatno, stabla pomažu u diverzifikaciji proizvodnje, ograničenju gubitaka nitrata iz tla te onečišćenju podzemnih voda.

Plodnost tla također se poboljšava padom jesenskog lišća i njegovom razgradnjom na tlu, stvarajući tako važan izvor prirodnog komposta i gnojiva okolnim kulturama. Drveće i živice na poljima povećavaju bioraznolikost, što je pogodno kukcima za oprašivanje. Konačno, stabla igraju važnu ulogu u apsorpciji CO2 i spremanju ugljika tijekom faze rasta, smanjujući tako učinak klimatskih promjena.

Agrošumarstvo tako postaje ključni igrač u agroekološkom planu HCOIE. Zbog svih ovih prednosti, promocija i širenje korištenja agrošumarstva postali su nam jedan od glavnih ciljeva u borbi protiv klimatskih promjena. Plan otkriva naše konkretne prijedloge za njegovu promociju u širokim kategorijama s brojnim specifičnim aktivnostima u svakoj od njih.

Kategorije uspostavljaju sustav za istraživanje i praćenje različitih oblika agrošumarstva koji se provode u Hrvatskoj, te uspostavljaju mreže za razmjenu informacija između različitih sudionika u agrošumarstvu. Povećanje informacija o tome što se radi u agrošumarstvu omogućit će širenje inovativnih ideja koje su u budućnosti primjenjive.

Još jedan veliki prostor na koji se odnosi plan jest poboljšanje regulatornog, pravnog i financijskog okvira koji okružuje agrošumarstvo. Neke od specifičnih aktivnosti uključuju osnaživanje financijske potpore za agrošumarstvo, poboljšanje dostupnosti alata za različite sudionike na regionalnom nivou te favoriziranje razvoja agrošumarstva kroz financijske alate.

Obrazovanje je još jedna važna komponenta plana, kako u poljoprivrednim školama, tako i u pružanju obuke već postojećim poljoprivrednicima o prednostima agrošumarstva i kako prijeći na njega. Dodatno, plan postavlja sustav pomoći kako bi se podigla vrijednost proizvedenih kultura koristeći agrošumarstvo te strategiju promocije agrošumarstva na međunarodnoj razini.

Široko korištenje agrošumarstva moglo bi imati veliku ulogu u prelasku na održive okolišne prakse u dugoročnom razdoblju, a također bi pomoglo i proizvođačima na ekonomskom nivou u povećanju prinosa, te korištenje biomase drveta, kroz malčiranje, kao prirodno gnojivo za usjeve. Predstavljeni plan trebao bi svoju primjenu naći na nacionalnom, ali i na međunarodnom nivou.

 

Željko Serdar, Hrvatski Centar Obnovljivih Izvora Energije (HCOIE)

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Take control of your energy consumption

Take control of your energy consumption

The Powerwall is a home battery system that turns your home’s solar panels into an all day resource – increasing self-consumption of solar – while also offering backup in the event of an outage. The Powerwall enables more of your home’s electricity use to come from solar, which enhances solar functionality, and reduces energy costs.

When solar panels produce more power than a home needs, the excess solar is sent back to the grid. The Powerwall enables a homeowner instead to capture and store excess solar power produced during the day for use at night. The result is greater self-consumption of your solar generation and reduced energy costs.

Tesla is far from the only company looking to profit off of rechargeable batteries for the home.

At-home batteries are a necessary purchase for anyone looking to convert their home to solar power. The batteries store the electricity generated by solar panels, which can then be used at night or during peak grid times to save money on your electricity bill.

But the batteries can also be used to charge electric vehicles, which is why many automakers are now selling their own units.

Scroll down to see the 10 at-home batteries looking to take on Tesla’s Powerwall 2:
First, some information on Tesla’s Powerwall 2 — a 264-pound, lithium-ion battery that you can mount on your wall. Panasonic makes the cells for the battery, while Tesla builds the battery module and pack.
A single Powerwall unit stores 14 kWh of energy, but you can link up to 10 batteries side-by-side to increase storage. A single unit, including installation, can cost as much as $11,450.

POWERWALL 2 SPECIFICATIONS

Technology
Wall mounted, rechargeable lithium ion battery with liquid thermal control.

Model 2
13.2 kWh – For daily cycle applications

Warranty
10 years

Supported Applications
Solar self-consumption, Time of use load shifting, BackUp

Power
7kW peak / 5kW continuous

Scalable
Up to 9 Powerwalls

Dimensions
1150mm x 755mm x 155mm

Installation
Floor or wall mounted
Indoor or outdoor

Operating Temperature
-20°C to 50°C

Use more of your solar
Instead of sending excess solar energy into the grid, Powerwall stores it for use any time.

Weight
110kg

Always connected
Monitor your solar energy use in real-time and receive alerts when Powerwall is preparing for cloudy or severe weather.

All in one inverter
Powerwall uses an internal inverter to convert DC energy to the AC energy required for your home, lowering cost and complexity.

Depth of Discharge
100%

Tesla has offered battery and solar installations as one process ever since it acquired SolarCity last November. Tesla is now selling solar roof shingles that are designed to look like an actual roof to compete with rival solar installers, like Sunrun and Vivint, on an aesthetic level.

  1. LG Chem’s RESU battery is probably Tesla’s closest competitor in the space. Last October, LG Chem partnered with solar company Sunrun to bring its battery option to the US.

The RESU is now available to Sunrun customers and its products distribution arm — a similar strategy to making the Powerwall available to SolarCity customers. It stores up to 9.8 kWh of energy and starts at around $4,000 for lower-voltage options.

  1. Mercedes also has the potential to rival Tesla’s home battery business. The company announced Thursday it will partner with Vivint to sell its home battery in California.

The German automaker is following Tesla and LG Chem by partnering with a solar company to combine the battery and solar installation processes. Mercedes’ battery stores 2.5 kWh of energy, but units can be combined to store 20 kWh. The biggest storage option costs $13,000, installation included.

  1. Nissan offers a rechargeable battery option, called XStorage, which holds 4.2 kWh of energy storage. The automaker began selling the XStorage in May in the United Kingdom, where Tesla and Mercedes also sell their battery options.

Nissan’s xStorage battery costs $4,500, which includes the price of installation. Nissan is looking to set itself apart as a sustainable battery provider by using old battery cells in the units.

  1. BMW plans to sell two battery options that can store a whopping 22 kWh and 33 kWh worth of energy, but they have yet to launch. Like Nissan, BMW will take a sustainable approach by reusing batteries from its BMW i3 series.
  1. Sonnen, a German company, sells several at-home battery options with up to 16 kWh of storage. The eco compact version pictured here holds 4 kWh of energy and costs $5,950. It comes with the inverter included.

The company derives two-thirds of its revenue from its German operations, but is looking to expand abroad. Sonnen opened a factory in Atlanta in April to begin production for the US market. It also has plans to expand to Australia, the United Kingdom, and Italy.

  1. SimpliPhi Power is an at-home battery maker that’s been around since 2002, but its original name was LibertyPak Company. SimpliPhi offers several battery options, the largest of which stores 3.4 kWh of energy.

SimpliPhi’s batteries can be combined to make a battery pack as large as you need. The company recently partnered with solar installer CivicSolar to provide a comprehensive energy system.

  1. Sunverge offers battery systems providing anywhere from 7.7 kWh to 19.4 kWh of energy storage. Weighing around 500 pounds, the battery has to be installed by a trained Sunverge specialist.

Sunverge comes with a corresponding app so you can monitor your solar energy storage and see electric grid costs at different times. A Sunverge unit can cost between $8,000 and $20,000, depending on the size you get.

  1. Powervault is an at-home battery system that is sold in the UK. All units come with an inverter included, and the most powerful model stores 6 kWh of energy. Prices start at roughly $3,000.
  1. Palo Alto-based ElectrIQ sells a battery for US homes that stores 10 kWh of energy. Its retail price is about $16,000 and includes the price of an inverter.
  1. Panasonic, which makes the cells for Tesla’s home battery, also has its own unit that can store 8 kWh of energy. It’s currently available in Australia.

Panasonic’s battery weighs about 185 pounds, but the cost of a unit is not made readily available.

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