The Sun Could Be The Mystery Source of Earth’s Unexplained Water, Scientists Say

Earth is our Solar System’s bluest planet, and yet no one really knows where all our water came from.

The dust of a nearby asteroid has now revealed a potentially overlooked source: the Sun.

Some water on our planet, it seems, might have been created by a river of charged particles, blown from the upper atmosphere of the Sun billions of years ago.

When solar wind interacts with the tiny dust particles found on certain asteroids, it can create a small amount of water, and this could explain some of the liquid we find here on our planet.

Most modern models suggest the majority of H20 on Earth originally came from an extraterrestrial source, possibly from C-type asteroids in the Jupiter-Saturn region and beyond.

These far-away asteroids are thought to be the parent bodies of carbonaceous chondrite meteorites that regularly crash into Earth, and this particular type of meteorite is known to contain a significant amount of water-containing minerals.

But carbonaceous chondrites probably aren’t the only way water was initially delivered to Earth. Other types of water-rich meteorites could have also done the same, especially since carbonaceous chondrites can’t account for Earth’s entire water budget. 

There are other types of chondrite asteroids that could have also held particles of water, albeit to a lesser extent. The near-Earth asteroid, Itokawa, for instance, is an ordinary chondrite asteroid, and an analysis of samples taken from this silicate-rich rock in 2010 found signs of water, and the source could very well be the Sun.

Solar wind irradiation has been proposed in the past as a possible way to form water on silicate-rich materials floating in space.

In the lab, volatile hydrogen ions have been shown to react with silicate minerals, resulting in water as a byproduct, and electron microscopy and electron spectroscopy studies have found direct evidence of H20 within extraterrestrial dust particles in the past.

Theoretically, if water becomes trapped in these dust particles, the element will be protected from space weathering and can then be delivered via meteorites to other bodies in space.

“This phenomenon could explain why the regoliths of airless worlds such as the Moon, which were once thought to be anhydrous, contain several percent H20,” the authors of the new study explain.

To explore this hypothesis further and in a slightly different way, researchers turned to the S-type asteroid, Itokawa, to see if this object contains a ‘volatile reservoir’ of isotypes similar to that of solar wind.

While most water isotypes on Earth match carbonaceous chondrites, a small percentage don’t, and the Sun or the solar nebula have been proposed as possible sources.

The article is published courtesy of Science Alert

DOE Investing $128 Million Toward Cutting Solar Costs 60% by 2030

On March 25, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) shared that it has set a new goal of cutting the cost of solar energy by 60% by 2030 and that it is putting $128 million toward lowering costs, improving performance, and accelerating the development of technologies used. 

U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm noted that solar is already cheaper than coal and other fossil fuels in many parts of the country. She added that the new funding will help bring more affordable clean energy to the national power grid, create jobs, and put the U.S. on track to accomplish the Biden-Harris administration’s goal of having the U.S. powered by 100% clean energy by 2035.

The new solar energy cost reduction target is 5 years earlier than the DOE’s previous goal. Currently, the average U.S. solar kilowatt-hour costs 4.6 cents, and the 60% reduction goal would bring that cost down to 3 cents/kWh by 2025 and 2 cents/kWh by 2030.

The DOE said that by 2035, traditional solar panels could provide between 30% and 50% of the U.S. electricity supply. The new funding will support innovative advancements in perovskites and cadmium telluride — two key materials used to produce solar cells. 

Here’s a breakdown of where that $128 million in funding will go:

  • $40 million will be devoted to advancing perovskite research and development
  • $20 million will support the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in advancing cheaper cadmium telluride thin-film solar technologies
  • $3 million will form the Perovskite Startup Prize — a new competition aimed to speed entrepreneurs’ path to commercializing perovskite technologies
  • $33 million is devoted to the advancement of projects in concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP), which captures heat from sunlight and converts it to energy that spins turbines or powers engines
  • $25 million will be utilized to demonstrate a next-generation CSP power plant, built by Sandia National Laboratories.

Additionally, the DOE has made $7 million available for projects that would increase the lifespan of silicon-based photovoltaic systems from their current 30 years to 50 years, which would lower the cost of energy and cut down on waste.

Image Credit: Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Story credit: Thomas Insights 

Infrastructure Fund Africa50 helps Egypt’s Solar Power Sector take off

A 37-square-kilometer solar park so large that it can be seen from space, with over seven million photovoltaic panels, and funding of $4 billion. In Africa? Impossible? Not anymore.

Thirty international infrastructure developers got behind this project, investing in Egypt’s massive Benban solar park, which will be the largest in the world upon completion. Among the investors is Africa50, established by the African Development Bank (

Africa50 is an independent infrastructure fund, focused on high-impact projects mostly in the energy and transport sectors. The investment vehicle contributes to Africa’s growth by developing and investing in bankable projects, catalyzing public sector capital and mobilizing private sector funding.

Africa50’s investment in Egypt’s 1.5 GW solar park in the Aswan desert is a prime example.

The solar energy potential in Egypt, a country known for year-round sunny days, has long tempted investors. But the high cost of solar plants led the government to favor climate-warming fossil fuels, accounting for 90% of its power generation.

Now that the prices of its components have fallen, solar energy has become competitive, allowing Benban to become a reality. In 2017, Africa50 joined investors Norfund and Scatec Solar to reach financial close for six of the 32 utility scale solar power plants in the complex, totaling 390 MW.

The Benban project, providing clean energy to hundreds of thousands of households, will help Egypt to reach its target of generating 20% of its power from renewable sources by 2022. It has put Egypt on the map as a major solar player in Africa and has set a precedent for using North Africa’s ample solar resources to provide power while meeting climate change commitments.

The solar power project has also demonstrated Africa50’s ability to act as a bridge between the private sector and governments to deliver more projects more quickly and help narrow Africa’s infrastructure gap.

Africa50 is one of the largest contributors to the Benban park. With a 25% stake, the investment platform contributed equity to fund construction, alongside Scatec Solar and Norfund, which helped leverage total funding of around $450 million from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the Dutch Development Bank FMO, the Green Climate Fund, the Islamic Development Bank, and the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector.

“Benban is a good example of how we use early stage project development expertise and financing to rapidly bring projects to financial close and then add equity to encourage broader financing,” said Alain Ebobissé, Africa50 CEO.

“Benban is also the first of our dozen active projects to become fully operational and is now delivering clean energy to Egyptian people and businesses,” he added.

The plants are supported by 25-year power purchase agreements with the Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company (EETC) under Egypt’s Feed-in Tariff program, backstopped by a sovereign guarantee. Access roads and interconnection facilities were funded collectively by the Benban project developers under a cost-sharing agreement with EETC and the New and Renewable Energy Agency.

The development impact of Benban is tremendous. Africa50’s six plants alone created about 1,000 construction jobs (out of 4,500 total jobs) and a quarter of the 250 permanent operations positions.

In 2019, when the plants were operational, they started producing about 870 GW hours of power annually, providing clean energy for over 400,000 households and avoiding 350,000 tons of CO₂ emissions that would have been produced from non-renewable sources.

The consortium is also pioneering the use of bifacial solar modules, capturing the sun from both sides of the panel to increase generation.

The innovations of the Benban project could provide valuable insights for the Desert to Power program, led by the African Development Bank. Desert to Power, with which Africa50 is associated, aims to develop 10 GW of solar power across the Sahel by 2025 and supply 250 million people with green electricity, including in some of the world’s poorest countries.

Moreover, Benban’s links to the infrastructure of the Aswan Dam will help combine hydro, wind, and solar power, a model for other African regions.

The landmark Benban project is an example of a fundamental change in the way an African country can provide power to its people.

For decades, the Egyptian government had built and operated most power plants and was spending more on electricity subsidies than it was on education, healthcare, and social welfare combined.

Benban proves that, with the right regulatory regime and cost structure, the private sector, supported by partners such as Africa50, can make solar power attractive, allowing governments to focus on other pressing priorities.

Indeed, in the time of COVID-19, partners such as Africa50 can play a key role in leveraging private finance to free up government budgets across the continent to deploy resources to fight the pandemic.

Sewa Energy Resources Limited Donates 20,000 Solar Lamps to Support Free Quality Education in Sierra Leone

Chief Executive Officer of Sewa Energy Resources Limited, Kofie Macauley, On Wednesday presented 20,000 solar lamps, worth Le 4 billion, to His Excellency President Dr. Julius Maada Bio as part of their support to government’s free quality education program.

Minister of Energy, Alhaji Kanja Sesay, said the company was one of their partners, especially in the renewable energy sector. He noted that the lamps would help to create immediate energy access especially for children in rural areas, adding that the lamps were cheap and maintenance almost free.

The company CEO said that the move was part of their efforts to look at life after the Coronavirus. He said that in collaboration with the energy ministry, they thought about providing solar lamps for deprived school children in rural communities, noting that that was a good effort to get them back into their schoolwork mode.

“These lights are waterproof and the battery life lasts for about ten years if properly charged. We believe that we should be able to get these lights across to every child in this country who needs to read at night. As an indigenous partner in the energy sector, we believe that supporting local businesses is where results are needed to achieve long term and sustainable goals within the country,” he said.

On his part, President Bio thanked the Sewa Group for being a partner to the country’s energy sector, saying that the lamps would help to increase the study time for students, especially those in rural communities. He also noted that his government had prioritised education as the best way of investing in the future, adding that the lamps would complement those efforts.

The lamps are being utilised across the world – in disaster zone areas and across sub-Saharan Africa. They are very light in weight, waterproof and solar-powered. Easy to use and recharge and specifically ideal for rural community areas where there is limited or no electricity access.

AfDB announces EUR 40 million investment from the European Commission for the Facility for Energy Inclusion (FEI)

The African Development Bank (AfDB) announced a EUR 40 million investment from the European Commission for the Facility for Energy Inclusion (FEI), a new platform for financing small-scale renewables in Africa.

Unlocking the transformative potential of small-scale renewables energy in Africa. Photo credit: AfDB

The announcement was made to energy sector stakeholders at a sideline event held during the Africa Energy Forum, which took place in Lisbon, Portugal from 11-14 June. The Bank, the European Commission, in partnership with Lion’s Head Global Partners and Fieldstone and the Lusophone Renewable Energy Association, presented the Facility to participants at the Forum.

FEI is a $500 million financing platform spearheaded by the African Development Bank to catalyze financial support for innovative energy access solutions.: FEI On-grid, a targeted USD 400 million fund, supports improved energy access through the development of small-scale renewable energy generation and mini-grids across Africa, while the Off-Grid Energy Access Fund (OGEF), a targeted USD 100 million fund, supports off grid energy distribution companies and boosts their long-term capacity to access capital markets at scale.

Joao Cunha, Manager for Renewable Energy Initiatives at the African Development Bank said FEI had been developed to offer debt instruments, including in local currency, to companies providing affordable, clean and sustainable access to underserved communities in the Sub-Saharan region.

“Through FEI, we aim to increase co-financing and private sector investment in innovative on-grid and off-grid clean energy access solutions, and consequently move faster on our “Light Up and Power Africa ( priority to achieve universal energy access in Africa by 2025,” said Cunha.

The event was attended by the renewable energy investor community, including representatives from various Development Finance Institutions (DFIs), international and African commercial banks, project developers and sponsors.

During the event, the FEI fund managers guided project sponsors and developers in attendance through project selection criteria, and financing terms of the specific FEI windows.

In December 2018, the Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development of the European Commission (DG DEVCO) approved a EUR 25 million investment to FEI On-Grid window, EUR 13 million into the FEI OGEF window, and EUR 1.6 million to support the Fund’s Technical Assistance Facility, which aims to build investee capacity in structuring and executing transactions in African capital markets. These investments will provide junior equity to strengthen FEI’s capital structure, and enable FEI to fundraise from a range of commercial and private investors.

“FEI is a great example of how the EU has been developing innovative financing initiatives together with financial partners such as the African Development Bank, to stimulate and de-risk private sector investments without which we won’t be able to address the growing energy demands and provide access to sustainable energy in sub-Saharan Africa,” said Hugo Van Tilborg, Head of Infrastructure, and African Development Bank Liaison at the EU.

The European Commission’s contribution further underscores the African Development Bank’s focus on building strong partnerships with diverse organizations in order to provide a wide range of grant and investment instruments to fast track sustainable energy access across the continent.

FEI’s off-grid window reached a $58 million first close in August 2018, with contributions from the African Development Bank, the Nordic Development Fund, the Global Environment Facility, All On and Calvert Impact Capital, Shell Foundation, USAID and the UK’s Department for International Development. FEI On-Grid is currently fundraising towards achieving a first close of about $120 million.

USAID Administrator Mark Green Signs Power Africa Memorandum of Understanding with The Government Of The Republic Of Korea


USAID Administrator Mark Green

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Mark Green and Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Strategy and Finance for the Republic of Korea (ROK) Kim Dong Yeon signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) toward pursuing our energy goals in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The MOU on Tuesday, May 22, 2018 will ensure the development of the power-sector infrastructure through a $1 billion investment by the Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF), which includes a commitment to construct 1,000 kilometers of transmission line from 2018 to 2023.

USAID will implement the MOU through the Power Africa Coordinator’s Office. USAID Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator for Africa Cheryl L. Anderson and Coordinator for Power Africa Andrew M. Herscowitz also attended the signing ceremony.

Through this partnership, the United States and the ROK will collaborate on the following issues to accelerate progress under Power Africa:

  • Advancing power-sector infrastructure through a $1 billion investment by the Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF), which includes a commitment to construct 1,000 kilometers of transmission line from 2018 to 2023;
  • Conducting policy dialogues with African governments to develop the energy sector in a fair, transparent, and sustainable manner;
  • Coordinating field efforts to support small-scale grids and off-grid solutions, and;
  • Seeking mutual project collaboration opportunities for ROK and U.S. companies.

The ROK is the 17th development partner to formalize its relationship with Power Africa, further strengthening the broad coalition of public and private sector partners committed to helping accelerate progress towards our goal of doubling access to electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa.



Solar Park Freetown project to provide clean renewable and sustainable electricity



Commencement by H.E. The President of Sierra Leone of Solar Park Freetown (6MW) – Award Winning Project of The International Renewable Energy Agency /Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (IRENA/ADFD) International Project financing facility

Together with the Project Management and Contractor, the project total costs have also been reduced from the initial USD18 million allocation to only USD12.6 million for all project components

The Government of Sierra Leone represented by the Ministry of Energy ( is pleased to announce that Sierra Leone has undergone a number of critical steps leading up to the historic landmark event on 12th of December 2017, where the Solar Park Freetown project was inaugurated and commenced by His Excellency The President of Sierra Leone, Dr. Enest Bai Koroma in presence of Former Hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Samura Kamara and Hon. Minister of Energy, Henry Macauley, who is leading the project from the government’s side. The important steps that the Government made leading up to the commencement, include, the ratification of the ADFD Loan by the Sierra Leone Government, establishment of a working Project Implementation Unit (PIU) at the Ministry of Energy in Sierra Leone, and the recent re-appointment of the UAE based Advanced Science and Innovation Company (ASIC) LLC as the Project Manager and Lead of the Solar Park Freetown Project and the EPC, SMRT Projects and Energy Solutions (SMRT P&ES) ( Together with the Project Management and Contractor, the project total costs have also been reduced from the initial USD18 million allocation to only USD12.6 million for all project components, including even certain critical infrastructure additions.

The landmark 6MW Solar Park Freetown Project, which won the first prestigious International Renewable Energy Agency and Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (IRENA/ADFD) financing facility, was initiated and coordinated from its inception by late Ambassador Siray Alpha Timbo and Dr. Bahige Annan the Consul General of Sierra Leone in Dubai, UAE and later further developed together with the Project Manager, Filip Matwin, CEO of ASIC. In close cooperation with the Minister of Energy and the PIU, the Project managed to overcome a number of hurdles and to be commenced in a landmark event, which will leave an important legacy for Sierra Leone.

The Project, will for the first time in the history of the country, provide large amounts of clean Renewable and sustainable Electricity to both urban and western rural districts around the capital, Freetown. This is a landmark Renewable Energy Project not only in Sierra Leone, but also in West Africa, adding valuable and needed clean electricity to the grid, as well as important power and supporting infrastructure and critical international know-how to Sierra Leone in the field of Renewable Energy and Sustainable Development.

Solar Park Freetown Project is specially designed to include a number of institutional and critical human resource arrangements for sustainable management and international best practices of the IRENA/ADFD project facility. The Project has been specially structured by the Project Manager in coordination with the PIU, to provide a most efficient implementation of sustainable Renewable Energy and knowledge transfer, for Sierra Leone’s particular geographic and socio-economic situation, and to be in line with His Excellency’s the President of Sierra Leone and IRENA / ADFD’s goal of sustainable electrification in Sierra Leone.

The total cost of the project, which has been successfully reduced over the year by the Project Consortium (PM & EPC), include in addition to the 6MW Power Plant, assets such as an additional extension and upgrade of road and grid-power infrastructure, incl. a necessary extension of the 161KV grid power line, a distribution substation, and a MV/HV substation as part of the total project, which will significantly benefit the Government and the people of Sierra Leone.

As all the administrative and force majeur problems have been now solved, The Project Manager ASIC and the EPC SMRT have already started works and will now after the commencement be able to make daily progress on the project. Monthly updates to the PIU, community and the press will be given by the Project Manager and the EPC on the progress and each of the critical stages of the project will be shown and explained to maintain good momentum, full transparency and community inclusion.

Project Summary – Key Facts

  • Funding Agencies: Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) and the Government of Sierra Leone (GOSL)
  • Owner: Ministry of Energy of Sierra Leone
  • Project Manager: Advanced Science and Innovation Company (ASIC) LLC from the United Arab Emirates (UAE)
  • EPC Contractor: SMRT Projects and Energy Solutions from Sierra Leone
  • Type of Power Plant: Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Power Plant
  • Connection Type: Grid Connected with additional infrastructure
  • Capacity: 6MWp
  • Module Type Polycrystalline – 350Wp
  • Cumulative Energy Yield (25 Years): more than 190,000,000.00 kWh
  • Period of Execution: 12 Months

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Ministry of Energy, Republic of Sierra Leone.

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For further information:
Ministry of Energy- Project Implementation Unit- Dr. Patrick Tarawalli- Tel: +232 88 28 25 60- e-mail:
Project Manager- Advanced Science and Innovation Company (ASIC LLC     Mr. Filip Matwin (CEO / Project Manager) –
EPC Contractor- SMRT Projects and Energy Solutions- Nabil Bazzi (Managing Director/Head EPC)- Tel: +232 88 50 18 80- e-mail:

Ministry of Energy, Republic of Sierra Leone