Why flying a kite could be the future of clean energy

Antony Michels for Yahoo Finance:  David Schaefer wants to sell $50,000 kites to farmers to help them generate electricity by harnessing the power of the wind.

Schaefer, 54, is the CEO of eWind Solutions, a Beaverton, Oregon, company he founded in 2013 after quitting his job as director of mechanical engineering at Xerox.

“Imagine when you were a kid in a field flying the kite,” Schaefer says. “When the wind picks up you remember feeling that pull on the string. Well that pull is really energy. That’s what we’re doing. We’re harnessing that energy.”  Cont'd...

Obama makes new push on solar power

Timothy Cama for The Hill:  The Obama administration is making a new large-scale effort to encourage deployment and use of rooftop solar power on homes.

Numerous agencies announced new or strengthened coordinated efforts Tuesday aimed at increasing solar installations in houses owned by low- and moderate-income Americans, including a new goal for solar installations and a policy change to increase access to a key financing mechanism for solar power and energy efficiency.

“This is an approach that cuts across the government to try to take advantage of the fact that the cost of renewable technologies has come down dramatically during President Obama’s tenure, and we want to advantage of that a try to encourage more homeowners to actually benefit directly from that dynamic,” Brian Deese, a top adviser to Obama, told reporters.

The administration is dubbing the effort the “Clean Energy for All Americans Initiative.”  Cont'd...

Why Drones Are 'Game-Changing' for Renewable Energy

Julia Pyper for GreenTechMedia:  Amazon caused quite the stir in 2013 when it announced plans to launch a drone delivery service. People were both thrilled and horrified at the thought of flying robots delivering toilet paper to our doorsteps.

Some drone enthusiasts hoped to see Amazon launch a drone-based solar installation service -- but alas, that business doesn't exist. Yet.

Drones are already disrupting the solar sector, however.

This week at Intersolar North America, DroneDeploy, a cloud software platform provider for commercial drones, and DJI, a leading maker of drones and camera technology, announced a partnership that is expected to dramatically increase the efficiency of solar panel installation and inspection using drone-based thermal imagery capture and analytics.

The companies claim that customers can reduce residential solar system measurement times by up to 50 percent and reduce commercial measurement times from days to minutes. In addition, on-board thermal imagery can help to ensure that equipment is in the optimal position for maximum production.  Cont'd...

Energy Storage Would Get U.S. Tax Credits in Bipartisan Bill

Chris Martin for Bloomberg Politics:  Energy storage would gain access to the same tax incentives that helped make renewable energy the biggest new source of electricity in the U.S. last year under a bill introduced in the Senate.

Batteries like the lithium-ion ones in phones and electric vehicles would be eligible for the tax incentives when connected to the utility grid at homes and businesses under a bill introduced Tuesday by Democratic Senator Martin Heinrich from New Mexico. The bill has eight co-sponsors including Dean Heller, a Nevada Republican, according to a statement.

Other energy storage technologies such as pumped hydroelectric power, flywheels and compressed air would also have access to the tax credits, modeled after incentives for the solar industry, which reimburse as much as 30 percent of installation costs.  Cont'd...

Intersolar and ees North America 2016 underway in San Francisco

Since its establishment in 2008, Intersolar North America has become the most attended solar event and the premier networking platform for the North American solar industry.
AltEnergyMag.com's special coverage report brings all the important headlines from this years event.

Visit the Intersolar North America website.

Click here for AltEnergyMag.com's Special Intersolar Newspage

Why Every Rooftop Solar System Needs Energy Storage

John Petersen for Investor Intel:  Rooftop solar is an odd duck. A consumer buys an expensive capital asset with the expectation that he’ll recover his investment through lower electric bills. As a matter of metaphysics, he’s decided to go into the power business with the primary goal of satisfying the most important and discriminating customer on the planet. The value proposition he currently offers his local electric utility is:

  • I’ll buy less electricity from you because of my solar panels, but I need you on standby 24/7 to supply my nighttime needs and fill any weather related power production gaps;
  • Since my solar panels will frequently produce more power than I need, I want you to give me credit for any excess power production, let me draw equivalent power from you when I need it, and structure it all as a tax free swap;
  • You can, of course, bill me for any difference between what I deliver and what I take;
  • I’ll have no duty to buy a fixed amount of power from you or deliver a fixed amount of power to you, but you must supply whatever I need and take whatever I don’t need; and
  • You will be required to pay all of the costs associated with weather related production gaps and pass those costs through to your other customers.

Full Article:

Scripps Vessel Proves Viability of Renewable Fuel on 14,400-Mile Voyage

Chris Jennewein for Times of San Diego:  A Scripps Institution of Oceanography research vessel has demonstrated the viability of renewable fuel by traveling 14,400 nautical miles over a 16-month period on renewable diesel.

The R/V Robert Gordon Sproul used a hydrogenation-derived renewable fuel called NEXBTL Renewable Diesel developed by Neste Oil in Finland. The experiment began in September 2014 and ran through December 2015, during which time the vessel used a total of 52,500 gallons.

“Part of the Scripps mission is to protect the environment, and one of the most significant changes that we could make in our ship operations involved moving toward the use of cleaner, renewable fuels,” said Scripps Associate Director Bruce Appelgate. “As scientists, we know we need to develop sustainable means of powering our ships to address pollution concerns as well as to mitigate future increases in fossil fuel costs.”

Renewable biofuel is nearly carbon-neutral and produces cleaner emissions, thus decreasing greenhouse gas emissions and improving air quality relative to fuels derived from petroleum.  Cont'd...

SolarCity pushing industry to 40% increase in useful lifetime of solar power installations

John Fitzgerald Weaver for Electrek:  In a new report released by SolarCity, we are seeing that solar power systems have a usable lifetime of at least 35 years – 40% longer than the market expects. The key finding of the report is that power degradation (annual efficiency loss) of solar panels supplied to SolarCity is as much as 35% lower than for a comparable industry-wide selection of non-SolarCity panels, which are typically expected to last for 25 years. SolarCity feels it is the implementation of a stringent and industry-leading “Total Quality Program” that has driven this.
SolarCity is in the unique position of being one of the largest deployers of solar panels – from multiple manufacturers – in the world, and with their tens of thousands of systems connected to a central database they know realtime performance. In the study here, SolarCity looked at greater than 11,000 panels to determine their data points and come to their conclusion that their solar panels are performing well beyond expected industry standards.  Cont'd...

Here's How Brexit May End Most British Wind Power

Andrew Follett for the Daily Caller:  Officials from Britain’s wind industry are terrified their subsidies and tax incentives will end because of the U.K.’s decision to leave the European Union, according to a report by Reuters published Friday.

The report found that British wind companies, particularly ones that specialize in offshore wind power, are worried that Brexit places the government subsidies and easy access to financing at risk. The industry is deeply dependent on these subsidies to make projects more economically viable. Britain’s political uncertainty following the pending resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron means cuts to subsidies are likely. The Brexit could also make it much harder for wind companies to get loans from European banks, which could significantly slow the expansion of wind power.  Cont'd...

Tesla applies for 6 new trademarks to sell solar energy under the 'Tesla' brand

Fred Lambert  for Electrek:  Last week, Elon Musk announced his plan for Tesla to acquire SolarCity and fold the solar installer’s operations into Tesla’s own business. The offer is still contingent on board approval and shareholder votes at both companies,  but Electrek has now learned that the automaker is going ahead with trademark applications to sell solar products under its ‘Tesla’ brand.

According to trademark filings obtained by Electrek, Tesla’s trademark and copyright attorney at Cooley LLP, Ariana Hiscott, filled 6 new trademark applications for the company on June 22nd – the day Tesla announced the offer.

The trademarks applications range from solar cells and solar modules:  “Solar energy equipment, namely, photo-voltaic solar modules for converting electronic radiation to electrical energy; and equipment for use in collecting and converting solar into electricity, namely, solar cells and inverters.”

To the installation and repair of solar panels:  “Installation, maintenance and repair of solar panels and other equipment for use in converting solar energy into electricity; installation of solar energy systems and consulting related thereto.”

It also covers the monitoring of solar energy generation and the financing of solar installations.  All applications are for the trademark “Tesla”.  Cont'd...

BMW electric-car batteries to be used as home energy-storage devices

 Stephen Edelstein for GreenCarReports:  Tesla Motors was the first carmaker to branch out from selling electric cars to offering standalone battery packs for energy storage, but others have followed the company's lead.

Mercedes-Benz and Nissan have stated their intentions to enter the energy-storage market, and now BMW is jumping on the bandwagon as well.

At the Electric Vehicle Symposium & Exhibition 29—known as EVS29—held this week in Montreal, Canada, BMW unveiled an energy-storage system that uses battery packs from i3 electric cars.

Developed in concert with German firm Beck Automation, BMW's system is designed to use either new battery packs or "second-life" packs that have degraded too much for continued use in electric cars.

Battery packs that can no longer function in cars still have enough usable capacity for energy storage.

BMW has tested the concept over the past five years with various research projects, including a 2013 "micro-grid" project with the University of San Diego, and a 2014 collaboration in Germany with utility Vattenfall to use electric-car battery packs as buffer to help stabilize electricity grids.  Cont'd...

IKEA of energy delivers clean, green solar power-plant in a box

Richard Kemeny for New Scientist:  Here’s a bright idea for flat-packing. A German start-up has figured out how to cram an entire solar power plant into a shipping container. It has sent its first kits to off-grid villages in Africa, where they provide a new source of clean, affordable electricity after just two hours of assembly.

More than 620 million people in sub-Saharan Africa have no access to electricity, a situation that can keep people in poverty. And population growth means this number is rising. Those with access tend to rely on inefficient diesel generators, chugging along with crippling financial and environmental costs.

Despite that, diesel is standard for off-grid energy. “If there’s no diesel, there’s no electricity”, says Rolf Kersten of the start-up, Africa GreenTec in Hainburg, Germany, which shipped its first solar generator to Mali in December last year.  Cont'd...

Missouri is about to experiment with power from an unlikely source - its roads

BRYAN CLARK for TheNextWeb:  Part of its ‘Road to Tomorrow Initiative,’ Missouri’s Department of Transportation is teaming with Solar Roadways, an Idaho-based startup (seriously, what’s going on in Idaho?) to cover an undetermined length of Historic Route 66 with road-ready solar panels.

Blair also told The Star that the bulk of its efforts will be crowdfunded. After receiving a $100,000 grant from the Federal Highway Administration to build a prototype, and a pair of $750,000 research grants from the US Department of Transportation, the group has raised more than $2 million of its own to complete the project through acrowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.

Solar Roadways’ panels are tempered safety glass that are as strong as they are efficient. In addition to harnessing energy from the sun, they also come with LED lighting to effectively replace road lines and signage. While obviously more expensive to install upfront, the panels do have the benefit of being completely modular, which would allow for quick and cheap repairs by just swapping out the broken panels rather than re-paving entire stretches of road.  Cont'd...

24M's Batteries Could Better Harness Wind and Solar Power

Elizabeth Woyke for MIT Technology Review:  Lithium-ion batteries power everything from smartphones to electric vehicles. They’re well suited to the job because they are smaller and lighter, charge faster, and last longer than other batteries. But they are also complex and thus costly to make, which has stymied mass adoption of electric transportation and large-scale energy storage.
Yet-Ming Chiang thinks his startup 24M has the answer. The key is a semisolid electrode. In a conventional lithium--ion battery, many thin layers of electrodes are stacked or rolled together to produce a cell. “Lithium-ion batteries are the only product I know of besides baklava where you stack so many thin layers to build up volume,” says Chiang, who is a cofounder and chief scientist at 24M as well as a professor of materials science at MIT. “Our goal is to make a lithium-ion battery through the simplest process possible.”  Cont'd...
 

Tesla has just put in an offer to acquire SolarCity

Johana Bhuiyan for Recode:  Tesla’s board of directors has just sent an offer to acquire SolarCity to the company’s CEO. In other words, the electric car company Elon Musk is the CEO of just offered to buy the solar company Elon Musk is the chairman of.

In the letter, sent to SolarCity co-founder and CEO Lyndon Rive, Tesla’s board of directors offered to buy all of SolarCity’s remaining common stock in exchange for Tesla’s common shares. That’s $26.50 to $28.50 a share, according to the board.

The stock-for-stock deal amounts to about $2.8 billion based on where Tesla stock was trading before the proposal was announced.

As of yesterday, Musk personally owns 22,160,370 shares of SolarCity. So if the respective boards of each company approves the acquisition, Musk would personally reap $587,249,805 to $631,570,545.

Tesla’s move to acquire the solar company will help Musk in his goal of accelerating the world’s transition to using completely sustainable fuels in transportation.  Cont'd...

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