BREAKING: Tesla, SolarCity merger approved with 85% shareholder support

Utility Dive:  More than 85% of Tesla's unaffiliated shareholders voted in favor of the $2.6 billion deal with SolarCity, which will allow the companies to move forward with an integrated solar roof and battery storage offering.   Cont'd...  

Solar Power Turns Water and Carbon Dioxide Into Fuel

Seeker:  Finish researchers are building a demonstration power plant that would use solar-generated electricity, water and carbon dioxide extracted from the atmosphere to create gas and liquid fuels. The Lappeenranta University of Technology and VTT Technical Research Centre are working together on the SOLETAIR project, which is being built on the university campus and is scheduled for completion in 2017. Germany's Karlsruhe Institute of Technology also is a player in the project.  The project involves several different innovations. VTT will design equipment that will capture CO2 from the air and store it, while Lappeenranta researchers will build a device to produce hydrogen from water via electrolysis. Karlsruhe has developed a a microstructured, chemical reactor to convert the hydrogen produced from solar power together with carbon dioxide into liquid fuels, according to a press release. The reactor will be built by INERATEC, a spinoff company created by Karlsruhe.   Cont'd...

Solar Power Meets Electric Vehicle Atop a VW Microbus

Brett Belan, Apparent Energy for MotherEarth News:  The time is here for solar power to make its way to our vehicles. The state-of-the-art panels pose no weight limitation. At 6 pounds per 150 watts, thin flexible solar panels will weigh 600 pounds but give you 15 kilowatts! This is enough to directly drive from the sun. However, the surface area is a limitation, because that much solar would require 10 feet around the vehicle on all sides. The solution, ironically, is a mechanical engineering question of how to accordion-style fold these panels to conveniently open them for charging while the vehicle is at a standstill.  Cont'd...

Solar power proponents hopeful Trump sees benefit of growing industry

Ivan Penn and Rob Nikolewski for The LA Times:  Longtime solar executive Barry Cinnamon got up Wednesday wondering what a Donald Trump administration will mean for his industry. “I woke up this morning and walked to my car and took a picture of the sun coming up, and it did indeed come up,” said Cinnamon, president of Cinnamon Solar, one of the highest-profile solar companies in Silicon Valley. Candidate Trump said a lot of things that heartened conventional oil and natural gas producers and worried the renewable energy business, which is growing fast but is still a tiny part of the energy landscape.   Cont'd...

Self-drive delivery van can be 'built in four hours'

Jane Wakefield for BBC News:  A self-drive electric delivery van, that could be on UK streets next year, has been unveiled at the Wired 2016 conference in London. The vehicle's stripped-back design and lightweight materials mean it can be assembled by one person in four hours, the firm behind it claims. The vehicles will be "autonomous-ready", for when self-drive legislation is in place, the firm said. The government wants to see self-drive cars on the roads by 2020. "We find trucks today totally unacceptable. Loud, polluting and unfriendly," said Denis Sverdlov, chief executive of Charge, the automotive technology firm behind the truck. "We are making trucks the way they should be - affordable, elegant, quiet, clean and safe."   Cont'd...

Is The Best Analogy For The Energy Storage Business--Eeek!--Hard Drives?

Michael Kanellos for Forbes:  The optimism in the energy storage industry is based on soaring demand, rapid technological advances, expanding capacity and, for some, what will likely be a scary competitive environment. First, the good news. Lithium ion battery packs over the last ten years have declined faster than the cost of solar, said John Carrington, CEO of Stem, which makes behind-the-meter storage systems for hotels and other commercial customers looking to shave peak power costs, during a hallway meeting at Finance West sponsored by the American Council of Renewable Energy this week. Solar panels have declined by 50% or more in the last five years. Batteries have declined by 80% in three years, he said. Battery packs hit the under $300 per kilowatt hour mark last December, Carrington added. By 2020, battery pack prices could drop to $190 per kilowatt hour. (In 2007, lithium ion battery packs in the wholesale markets sold for around $1,000 per kilowatt hour.)   Cont'd...

Batteries That Make Use of Solar Power, Even in the Dark

Stanley Reed for the NY Times:  A new cash crop has sprung up on Nicholas Beatty’s enchanting farm near here. Rows of gray solar panels range over about 25 acres, turning sunlight into electricity, as dog-size muntjac deer hop by. The panels themselves, trouble-free money earners that feed into the electric grid, are no longer unusual on farms in Britain or other countries. What’s new in Mr. Beatty’s field is a hulking 40-foot-long shipping container. Stacked inside, in what look like drawers, are about 200 lithium-ion cells that make up a battery large enough to store a substantial portion of the electricity the solar farm puts out. The battery and its software give Mr. Beatty an advantage over other solar panel farmers. Power prices in Britain and elsewhere rise and fall, sometimes strikingly, during the day and over the year, depending on the supply and demand.   Cont'd...

New York set for offshore wind after environmental review

Daniel J. Graeber fro UPI:  Areas off the New York coast will be open for offshore wind energy bidders, but some area is reserved because of ecological concerns, the U.S. government said. The U.S. Interior Department, in coordination with its Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, said it would open 79,350 acres off the coast of New York up for a commercial wind energy lease sale. About 1,780 acres was removed because of environmental concerns associated with a subsea feature known as the Cholera Bank. "In a comment letter, the National Marine Fisheries Service identified the Cholera Bank feature as a sensitive habitat to be avoided for the placement of structures," an Interior Department stated read. "As a result of this removal, the revised lease area will be approximately two percent smaller than the lease area considered in the proposed sale notice."   Cont'd...

Elon Musk wants to sell you a better-looking solar roof amid slowing growth for panels

Ivan Penn and Russ Mitchell for The LA Times:  Like some kind of 21st century Willy Wonka, audacious entrepreneur Elon Muskchose a prime spot on the Universal Studios Hollywood backlot tour to unveil his latest attempt to energize an industry — roofs that generate solar power but look like no other.  Musk, the chief executive of Tesla Motors and chairman of SolarCity, showcased a line of high-design solar roof tiles that would replace clunky solar panels and tie into an upgraded version of the Tesla wall-mounted battery for those times when the sun doesn’t shine. The glass solar shingles resemble French slate, Tuscan barrel tile or more conventional roofing materials with a textured or smooth surface.  “The key is to make solar look good,” Musk said during the product introduction staged on the old set of ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” series, where he had re-roofed four of the Wisteria Lane houses. “If this is done right, all roofs will have solar.”   Cont'd..

Half a million solar panels were installed every day in 2015.

Katie Herzog for GRIST:  Half a million solar panels were installed every day in 2015.  According to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA), renewable energy, mostly solar and wind, accounted for more than half of all new electric capacity added in the world last year, a 15 percent jump from 2014. Globally, there is now more renewable power capacity than coal power capacity. Clean energy growth was especially high in China, which was responsible for about 40 percent of all new clean energy capacity. Get this: In China in 2015, two wind turbines were installed every hour. This surge in renewables, according to the IEA, can be attributed to policy changes, lowered costs, and improvements in technology.   Cont'd...

Bike Path In Poland Can Glow For 20 Years Using Solar Power

Andrew Conrad for PSFK:  It’s no Yellow Brick Road, but residents of Olsztyn, a town along the Lyna River in northern Poland, can now follow along this glowing bike path to travel safely to their destination. Using solar power, it is said that the path can remain illuminated for up to 20 years. The engineering breakthrough, developed by Polish firm TPA, was unveiled in late September as a 100-meter trial section with plans for expansion. The asphalt in the path is blended with particles that absorb energy from the sun during daylight hours and then glow for up to 10 hours once the sun goes down. The plan is to increase the shorter section following winter.   Cont'd...

Europe's offshore wind industry booming as costs fall

The Guardian:  On a sunny October morning, our boat passes the run-down relicts of Liverpool’s maritime past and heads down the river Mersey and into the Irish Sea. As we steam offshore, I see in the distance a cluster of tall structures that soon reveal themselves to be towers of a wind turbine array. Arriving at the windfarm, six miles offshore, the turbines rise as high as 650ft, taller than the tallest church in the world. Each of the turbines’ three shiny metallic rotor blades is nearly 300ft long. “A single rotation of an eight-megawatt turbine will cover the daily electricity consumption of an average British household,” says Benj Sykes, vice president of Dong Energy Wind Power, the company that is constructing and co-owns this wind project, as the boat rocks in five-foot swells.   Cont'd...

Solar & Wind Cheaper To Replace Coal In UK Than Biomass

Joshua S Hill for CleanTechnica:  A new study has concluded that transitioning to wind and solar power would be a cheaper option for the United Kingdom to replace its coal fleet than using biomass electricity generation. According to a new study published this week by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and conducted by London-based Vivid Economics, which examined the full system costs of renewable energy technologies like wind and solar in comparison to biomass as a replacement for the UK's coal fleet, wind and solar came out as the cheaper option. The UK already uses a lot of biomass for electricity generation, with the report concluding that "biomass supplies the lion's share" of the country's renewable electricity generation. However, as the authors of the report note: "…recent science shows that many forms of biomass produce more carbon emissions than fossil fuels like coal and natural gas-especially biomass from forests-increasing carbon pollution precisely when the United Kingdom aims to rapidly decarbonise its electricity sector."   Cont'd...

Idaho company debuts solar power sidewalks

Nicholas K. Geranios for AP:  Scott Brusaw has a vision for the nation's roads. He believes the solar-powered glass pavers his company makes could transform thousands of miles of pavement into a new energy source. His business, Solar Roadways, recently unveiled its first public installation, in a downtown plaza in this northern Idaho resort town. It's 150 square feet of hexagon-shaped solar panels that people can walk and bicycle on. The company is working on proof that the panels, for which it has a patent, are strong enough and have enough traction to handle motor vehicles, including semitrailers. "Our plan is to replace all the asphalt and concrete," said Brusaw, noting concrete occupies over 48,000 square miles in the U.S. "If you cover it with solar panels, we can make three times our energy needs." Solar Roadways is among a growing number of companies embracing renewable energy as the U.S. aims to reduce carbon emissions by one-third from 2005 levels by 2030.   Cont'd...

Is 2016 The Turning Point For Energy Storage?

Michael McDonald for OilPrice.com:  In the future, when investors look back at the year that represented the turning point for clean energy, 2016 may be it. The industry overall is growing at a breath-taking pace, but perhaps not for the reason that some investors think. Energy storage rather than solar power and wind power are the real factors that are driving a revolution across the electrical power industry. Energy storage changes the equation, not only in the renewables space, but in the conventional utility space as well. The concepts of spin/non-spin reserve costs, peaker prices, and a variety of other conventional concerns for utilities, lose meaning in the context of efficient and cost-effective energy storage. While energy storage was available previously, it’s only today that costs are coming down substantially. Tesla’s economies of scale on battery storage are well-known, but small start-ups like Orison are finding ways to lower costs in innovative ways as well. The graphic below from a recent EPRI presentation highlights the role that multiple layers of costs savings can play in creating economical battery storage.   Cont'd...

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