Wind Energy Now Directly Competing With Coal On Cost

Gregory Brew for OilPrice.com: Last week, Xcel Energy announced a multi-state wind capacity project, anticipated to be the largest in the United States. Spanning seven states, the project covers eleven new wind farms and would generate 3280 MWs at a cost of $3.5-4.4 billion. In its announcement, Xcel emphasized the cost-savings attached to wind power, arguing that it would save Xcel customers in the Midwest $7.9 billion over thirty years. This, rather than the environmental benefits of renewable energy, drove the company's mission statement: wind was cheap, not just clean.

A Low-Tech Approach To Energy Storage: Molten Metals

Bruce Gellerman for WBUR: The ability to store energy promises to revolutionize the way we generate, transmit and use electricity - making renewable sources such as wind and solar cheaper and more dependable. Massachusetts is one of just three states requiring electric utilities to build battery facilities in the future. A company in Marlborough believes it literally has the next hot technology in energy storage: molten metals.

GTM: 10 US states have energy storage pipelines greater than 100MW

Danielle Ola for Energy Storage News: According to the latest GTM Research figures, energy storage is coming into its own and is no longer confined to a handful of US states. 21 states now have 20MW of storage projects proposed, in construction or deployed. Further, 10 states have pipelines of more than 100MW.

Fla. movin' on up with solar power

NWFDailyNews: For years, Florida has been an underachiever in solar power. Despite being ranked third in the nation for rooftop-solar potential by the Solar Energy Industries Association, Florida annually has finished in the high-teens for actual installations. But the Sunshine State's solar prospects are beginning to brighten - and the results are making an economic impact.

Tata Power Solar Expands and Modernises its Manufacturing Facility

The two-stage expansion doubled the company's module capacity to 400 from 200 MW, and increased its cell manufacturing capacity by 65 per cent from 180 to 300 MW.

Big Oil Replaces Rigs With Wind Turbines

Jess Shankleman for Bloomberg: Big oil is starting to challenge the biggest utilities in the race to erect wind turbines at sea.

Energy storage is America's industry to lose

David Ferris, E&E News reporter: The problem, Blunden said, is that the United States is wandering into a global competition without much urgency or a plan. "Are we going to make the decision to take a significant share of the next wave of manufacturing growth globally?"

Trump Should Make Space-Based Solar Power A National Priority

Space-based solar power (SBSP) --- in which satellites in Earth orbit capture the Sun's radiation, convert it to electricity and then transmit it back to Earth in the form of either microwaves or lasers --- would arguably do more to positively impact the lives of everyday Americans and fellow citizens of the world than almost anything the new President could champion.

Perceptual Robotics, Autonomous wind turbine inspection

SUAS News:   Perceptual Robotics is applying leading edge autonomy concepts to industrial applications.  Currently based in the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, our passion is to bridge the divide between academia and industry. Perceptual Robotics is applying leading edge autonomy concepts to industrial applications. Currently based in the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, our passion is to bridge the divide between academia and industry.  Through our Innovate UK project, we will be developing a fully autonomous system for the intelligent, efficient and reliable inspection of wind turbines.   Cont'd...

Automation in the Energy Industry

Automation should be the prologue to a discussion whenever a new process is introduced, not a postscript. This fundamental shift in thinking is critical to maximize any automation strategy.

Google: 4 out of 5 US homes have solar power potential

Steve Dent for engadget:  A five kilowatt rooftop solar installation now costs just $12,500 on average after tax credits, and pretty soon, installing one might soon be a matter of re-tiling your roof. Whether it's right for you, however, depends in large part on how much sun your house gets. That's where Google's Project Sunroof comes in -- launched just two years ago, it has now surveyed over 60 million US buildings in 50 states. That means there's a good chance you can see the electricity production potential in your city, neighborhood and even specific house. Google calculates the amount of sunlight on your roof based on "3D modeling of your roof and nearby trees," weather patterns, the position of the sun in the sky during the year and shade from buildings, trees and other obstructions. That info is then converted to energy production "using industry standard models for solar installation performance," Google says.   Cont'd...

Elon Musk: I can fix South Australia power network in 100 days or it's free

Elle Hunt for The Guardian:  Elon Musk, the billionaire co-founder of electric car giant Tesla, has thrown down a challenge to the South Australian and federal governments, saying he can solve the state’s energy woes within 100 days – or he’ll deliver the 100MW battery storage system for free. On Thursday, Lyndon Rive, Tesla’s vice-president for energy products, told the AFR the company could install the 100-300 megawatt hours of battery storage that would be required to prevent the power shortages that have been causing price spikes and blackouts in the state. Thanks to stepped-up production out of Tesla’s new Gigafactory in Nevada, he said it could be achieved within 100 days.   Cont'd...

Large-scale floating offshore wind power is finally here

Sami Grover for TreeHugger:  Offshore wind energy has been growing like crazy in the last few decades—so much so that there's even talk of serious talk of multi-gigawatt offshore wind farms in the US in the not too distant future.  But offshore wind has so far been limited to areas where the seafloor is relatively shallow, and where it's easy to build foundations for these gigantic turbines. Floating wind turbines are different. Instead of using fixed foundations, they are anchored to the sea floor using cables. And that means they can be located in deeper waters, opening up many more areas where wind conditions are favorable and concerns about views and/or bird migration routes are less relevant. Alongside opening up new areas for development, the other major advantage of floating turbines—once they are being developed at scale—could also be reduced costs.    Cont'd...

German institute successfully tests underwater energy storage sphere

Megan Geuss for ArsTechnica:  Pumped storage is a decades-old technology with a relatively simple concept: When electricity is cheap and plentiful, use it to pump water up into a reservoir above a turbine, and when electricity is scarce and expensive, send that pumped water down through a turbine to generate more power. Often, these pumped storage facilities are auxiliary to other electricity-generating systems, and they serve to smooth out fluctuations in the amount of power on the grid. A German research institute has spent years trying to tailor pumped storage to ocean environments. Recently, the institute completed a successful four-week pilot test using a hollow concrete sphere that it placed on the bottom of Lake Constance, a body of water at the foot of the Alps. The sphere has a diameter of three meters and contains a pump and a turbine. Much like traditional pumped storage, when electricity is cheap, water can be pumped out of the sphere, and when it’s scarce, water can be let into the sphere to move the turbine and generate electricity.   Cont'd...

New process for manufacturing PV cells means cheaper solar power

Phys.org:  A major roadblock to the mass use of solar energy are photovoltaic (PV) solar cells. This is because the cost, inefficiency and negative environmental impact that the manufacturing of these cells outweighs any potential savings provided by the resulting solar energy. If, however, cost could be were minimised, then solar power would be more able to compete with traditional fossil fuel-based methods for generating energy. To overcome this hurdle, the EU-funded SOLNOWAT project has developed an innovative dry process for manufacturing PV solar cells. PV cells are typically created via a wet chemical process that etches away layers of silicon from a crystalline wafer, leaving behind the solar cell. The SOLNOWAT process replaces the expensive and inefficient wet chemical process with the use of atmospheric pressure dry etching technology – a process that cuts costs and speeds up production. Because less silicon is removed during dry etching, the resulting cells are darker, making them very efficient at absorbing light. In fact, they are so efficient that they have been classified as having zero global warming potential.   Cont'd...

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