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...

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...

World's Largest Solar Project Would Generate Electricity 24 Hours a Day, Power 1 Million U.S. Homes

Lorraine Chow for EcoWatch:  The race to build the world's largest solar power plant is heating up. California-based energy company SolarReserve announced plans for a massive concentrated solar power (CSP) plant in Nevada that claims to be the largest of its kind once built. SolarReserve CEO Kevin Smith told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the $5 billion endeavor would generate between 1,500 and 2,000 megawatts of power, enough to power about 1 million homes. That amount of power is as much as a nuclear power plant, or the 2,000-megawatt Hoover Dam and far bigger than any other existing solar facility on Earth, the Review-Journal pointed out. "It's a big project," Smith told the publication. "It's an ambitious project."   Cont'd...

World's First Farm to Use Solar Power and Seawater Opens in Australia

Kristin Falzon for EcoWatch:  Sundrop Farms, a tomato production facility that is the first agricultural system of its kind in the world, celebrated its grand opening in Port Augusta, South Australia, Thursday. Instead of soil, pesticides, fossil fuels and groundwater, Sundrop Farms uses only solar power and desalinated seawater to grow tomatoes across 49 acres. The water is pumped into the facility from the Spencer Gulf about 1.2 miles away where it is desalinated to water the farm's 180,000 tomato plants.   Cont'd...  

This New Wind Turbine Could Power Japan for 50 Years After One Typhoon

Nick Mafi for Architectural Digest:  A typical typhoon produces wind speeds between 98 and 120 m.p.h. and usually leaves behind a trail of destruction. But a Japanese engineer has plans to harness a typhoon’s incredible wind energy and use it to power the nation. Atsushi Shimizu has just invented the world’s first typhoon-powered wind turbine—a roughly 18-foot structure that, with its three distinct prongs, somewhat resembles an egg beater. Don’t be fooled by the simple design, however. According to the Atlantic Oceanographic & Meteorological Laboratory, a mature typhoon can produce a level of kinetic energy equivalent to about half of the world’s electrical generating capacity. That means that after a single typhoon, Shimizu’s invention could power Japan for up to 50 years. Add in the frequency of the country’s typhoons—anywhere from three to seven each year—and the potential for massive quantities of renewable energy is unmistakable.   Cont'd...

US Solar Power Attitudes: 89% of Americans Support Solar Power

GetSolar.com sighting PEW Research:  Solar Power in America has gained wide acceptance over the last few years as prices have dropped and solar panel installation has greatly increased. Nine out of Ten Americans (89%) support solar power, regardless of political affiliation, according to a new report. Energy costs and environmental concerns rank highest on the list of reasons for such unprecedented support. The Pew Research Center, a polling and research group focused on global trends released a report highlighting the changes in American's attitude towards (solar power) in particular, along with other sources of energy. Solar power gained the highest acceptance of any form of power (see chart), with only 9% of Americans opposing it. Wind Power came in a close second at 83%, with other forms of more traditional energy generation taking a serious back seat (with half or less the support of solar).   Cont'd...

Using Industry 4.0 Know-how, North German Region is Going 100% Renewable: Test Run for the Energy Transition

As of 1 December 2016, an energy system of the future will be developed in Northern Germany as part of the large-scale project NEW 4.0. From 2035, around 4.5 million residents in the federal states of Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein will be provided with power by renewable energy sources alone. Applying Industry 4.0 systems, the project will demonstrate how imbalances in production and consumption can be offset based on renewable energies.  Northern Germany is playing an important role in Germany's energy transition: Schleswig-Holstein as an energy supplier with an ever increasing number of onshore and offshore wind farms, and the city state of Hamburg as a location for industry and large power consumers. As part of the NEW 4.0 project, the states of Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein have been merged into one consistent energy region. The overall objective is to serve as a showcase for Germany and to demonstrate within a European context that the energy transition is indeed feasible: NEW 4.0 will showcase how a region with 4.5 million residents can be supplied with regenerative energy as early as 2035 using 100% safe, affordable, eco-friendly and socially acceptable energy sources that can lead to a reduction in CO2 emissions by 50 to 70%.   Full Press Release:  

Siemens unveils new hot rocks energy storage system

Jocelyn Timperley for BusinessGreen:  A new energy storage technology currently under development by Siemens is set to see excess wind energy converted to heat rocks, allowing the energy to be stored using an insulated cover. The system consists of a fan that uses an electrically-heated air flow to heat the stones to high temperatures, with the thermal energy then converted back to electricity when needed using a steam turbine. The simple principle of the set-up promises to deliver a low-cost way of storing energy, Siemens said, with the only limit to the concept being the space required for the rock-filled insulated container.  Cont'd...

New solar panel integrates battery storage, inverter, and smart software into a single unit

Derek Markham for TreeHugger:  This startup is reinventing the solar panel, and aims to cut the cost of integrating clean power and energy storage to homes by half. Home solar has the potential to reduce, and even eliminate, electricity costs for many people, but even with the rapid advancements we're seeing in solar technology, there are still weak points that can be addressed and overcome, such as energy storage and 'smart' home integration. But a newcomer to the residential solar scene believes it has the answer, in the form of a standalone solar and battery unit which can be used singly or connected in an array, and which may be able to lower the overall costs considerably. SunCulture's SolPad solar device integrates solid state batteries directly into the solar panels themselves, offering its users the ability to not only generate their own clean electricity, but to also store if for use after dark or during peak demand times, when electricity costs are higher. The SolPad units also incorporate an inverter, which converts the electricity from the DC generated and stored by the device to the AC required by most household appliances, and includes "intelligent software" that communicates with both the users and with their home's systems, allowing for granular control over which rooms or devices will receive the solar power.   Cont'd... Full Press Release:

Elon Musk aims to unveil Tesla solar power roof next month

Robert Ferris for CNBC:  Elon Musk tweeted on Thursday that he hopes to unveil a Tesla/SolarCity solar roof with a new integrated battery pack and Tesla car charger on Oct. 28.   Musk first began teasing the next generation Powerwall at an event for Tesla owners in Paris earlier this year, according to Electrek. At the time, he had said the company would roll out the new battery in "July or August." SolarCity's merger with Tesla has aroused skepticism and even ire from some investors and analysts, even after Musk outlined his reasons for combining the two companies in his second installment of his "Master Plan" in late July.   Cont'd...

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