Turbines Spinning in Antarctica

The Princess Elisabeth Station will be officially inaugurated in Antarctica on February 15th, 2009 . This station is the only polar base operating entirely on renewable energies. It marks a major change as most stations rely on diesel generators because no wind turbines, until now, were thought to be robust enough for such extreme conditions. The turbines will endure the most severe weather conditions on Earth. They will be operating in average winds of 53 mph and winter gusts of over 200mph, while still providing 230V electricity for the stations heating, computers, lights and scientific instruments. The electricity generated is expected to be the highest output of any small wind power system in the world.

BIPV Growth in Europe

Currently, there is substantial amount of interest in this market ( Building Integrated Photovoltaics ) due to its high year on year growth, as well as an increasing number of countries which now have legislation supporting BIPV technology. The key to understanding BIPV market hot spots is pinpointing the countries that have passed BIPV-friendly legislation. It is no secret that the countries with this kind of legislation have seen the most growth. Led by Germany, and followed by Italy, France and Spain, these markets in particular are ripe for investment. Countries such as Greece, Portugal and Switzerland are moving in the same direction. Although still in the preliminary stages, these markets are something for investors to keep their eyes on as they are emerging into potential BIPV hotspots.

Fuel Cells for Cell Phones

The cell, built by Medis Technologies , is - at least in concept - similar to a glow-stick or a hand-warmer. The user squeezes the cell to mix two chemicals together, and the unit runs until the chemicals are exhausted - about 40 hours. It comes with an assortment of connector tips, including those for USB ports, BlackBerrys and cellphones of various other models, MP3 players and similar devices. The company hopes to soon manufacture a version big enough to run a laptop computer, and later one that could run a whole house.

The Google PowerMeter

Google wants to build the platform for collecting, managing, and analyzing home energy information for… well, if they have their way, for everybody on earth. PowerMeter is currently in internal beta testing. About four dozen Google employees have home energy monitors to record their power usage (as proxies for the smart meters of the future). A Home Energy gadget on their iGoogle home pages shows them shows how much energy they are using. The gadget tracks historical data and forecasts future trends (similar to the displays available for some of Google's finance applications).

Forecasting the Potential of the Wind

The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) has reached an agreement with Xcel Energy to provide highly detailed, localized weather forecasts to enable the utility to better integrate electricity generated from wind into the power grid. The U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) will support the project by developing mathematical formulas to calculate the amount of potential energy produced by winds blowing at various speeds. The forecasts will help operators make critical decisions about powering down traditional coal-and natural gas-fired plants when sufficient winds are predicted, allowing the utility to increase reliance on alternative energy while still meeting the needs of its customers.

Alternative Fueling Station Locator

Drivers can now find alternative fueling stations using cell phones & PDAs. Consumers on-the-go can now access the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Alternative Fueling Station Locator using their cell phone, BlackBerry, or other personal digital assistant (PDA). The Mobile Alternative Fueling Station Locator allows drivers to find the five closest biodiesel, electricity, E85 (ethanol), hydrogen, natural gas, and propane fueling sites. This convenient tool uses well-known, easy-to-navigate Google Maps to automatically generate maps to fueling sites and lists each station's contact information and business hours. Detailed driving directions and an instant phone connection to the station can all be accessed at www.afdc.energy.gov/stations/m/ .

Who Let the Dogs Out?

The U.S. is now the world's top Wind Power Producer and closing in fast on Solar. The U.S. increased its wind capacity by 50 percent last year to a total of 25 GW, enough to power nearly 5 million homes. Germany took a close second with 24 GW of installed wind, while Spain took the third spot. Globally wind power grew by 29 percent, to reach 121 GW total capacity. As one of the most affordable sources of alternative energy -- being only slightly more expensive than coal and nuclear -- wind accounted for 42 percent of the new energy installations in the U.S.

AC Solar Panels

Akeena Solar Inc. and Enphase Energy have announced a strategic partnership to develop and market Andalay solar panel systems with ordinary AC house current output instead of the high voltage DC output that is produced from most solar panels. Andalay AC panels are expected to cost less to install and provide higher performance than ordinary DC panels. Akeena estimates that up to 25 percent of the total costs necessary to design and install a solar power system can be eliminated with solar panels that have integrated racking, wiring and grounding, and that operate with standard AC wiring.

Giant Wind Turbines

If the U.S. is going to generate 20 percent of its electricity from the wind in the next 20 years, wind turbines will need to evolve in every way - larger, taller, less expensive, more reliable and more efficient. At NREL's National Wind Technology Center , engineers are preparing to install the two largest turbines ever tested at the laboratory. Key elements of a 1.5 MW General Electric turbine have begun arriving; instrumentation and equipment testing should begin by late summer. Installation of a 2.3 MW turbine from Siemens Power Generation is scheduled for late summer, too. Full story here.

Smart Grid - The Internet for the Energy Economy

The nation's century-old energy grid might get an upgrade soon to handle alternative energy. The economic stimulus package has earmarked $11 billion to invest in smart meters and 3,000 miles of renewable-energy transmission lines. Venture capitalists and utilities also are investing in smart-grid applications at a record pace. "It's like the Internet for the energy economy," said Katherine Hamilton, head of the GridWise Alliance.

Cisco EnergyWise Partner Program

Cisco this week initiated a partner program that integrates power management with network devices to monitor and control power usage. The company estimates 30% reduction in power consumption could drive adoption. Dubbed EnergyWise, the program was announced Tuesday along with partners from Schneider Electric, makers of power distribution and automation equipment; Verdiem, which manages PC and laptop power; and SolarWinds, known for network management. The collaboration lays the groundwork for robust, automated power management, Cisco said. EnergyWise software will be available on Catalyst switches via a software upgrade to all customers with a support contract.

NIFTE Pump Technology uses Solar Energy

There is now an alternative pumping technology being developed that is simple and costs little to manufacture, yet it is highly effective and can operate using low-grade heat energy - such as waste heat or solar energy. This type of heat pump has been termed the Non-Inertive Feedback Thermofluidic Engine (NIFTE) . Given their mechanical simplicity, low energy consumption and potentially low purchase cost, NIFTE pumps could be applicable for a wide variety of tasks. These range from irrigation and pond pumps to central heating circulating pumps and power showers.

Ethanol-Powered Fuel Cells

A team of scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory, in collaboration with researchers from the University of Delaware and Yeshiva University, has developed a new catalyst that could make ethanol-powered fuel cells feasible . Made of platinum and rhodium atoms on carbon-supported tin dioxide nanoparticles, the research team's electrocatalyst is capable of breaking carbon bonds at room temperature and efficiently oxidizing ethanol into carbon dioxide as the main reaction product.

9000 Homes Powered by Scotch Whisky!

An award-winning scheme which will reduce the carbon footprint of the whisky industry on Speyside has moved a step closer after being granted planning permission by Moray Council. The CHP unit will use a combination of distillery co-products and wood chip from sustainable sources to generate 7.2 megawatts of electricity, enough for 9,000 homes, which can be used onsite or exported to the National Grid.

Vertical-axis Wind Turbine

Project Nova (Novel Offshore Vertical-Axis), to which Qinetiq is a key technology supplier, was given the go ahead on 13 January 2009 by Lord Hunt, the UK Minister for Sustainable Development and Energy Innovation, as part of a potential £1.1billion fund. Project Nova's innovative aerogenerator wind turbine is based on a pair of giant V-shaped composite wings that will be scaled up to 120m high and rotate around the central axis to create power. Invented by David Sharpe and developed by Wind Power Limited, the aim is for a large-scale demonstrator to be installed offshore within six years and for offshore vertical-axis turbines to provide 1GW of power by 2020.

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