Shara Tonn for Wired.com: Geothermal Power has the potential to be cheap, reliable, and abundant—running off the heat of the Earth 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That’s especially true thanks to a new generation of home-grown geothermal plants, which don’t run off the steam of natural hot springs and geysers. No need to find those hydrothermal gems; today, geothermal engineers are making their own reservoirs by drilling down into hot rock and pumping in water.
The catch? Engineers can’t see what’s happening underground. Drilling wells in just the right spot can be like playing golf blindfolded: Even if someone faces you in the right direction, you could still hit the ball way off the green. But tiny fragments of DNA dropped into the wells could soon help engineers follow the path of water underground, helping them sink their putts every time.
In a basic geothermal plant set-up, engineers actually have to drill two types of wells. The first kind, which goes down two or three miles, carries cold water down deep, where it fractures the hot rock and creates new paths for water to move. It’s kind of like fracking, but without the chemicals. Cont'd...
By Kelly Hodgkins for Digital Trends: A team of engineers from Stanford University have invented a cool way to improve the performance of solar panel arrays. A new material that the team produced literally will lower the temperature of solar cells even while they are operating in full-strength sunlight. As the solar cells cool, their efficiency will rise, leading to significant gains in the amount of energy harvested from the sun.
Solar panel technology has improved by leaps and bounds, but the technology has a flaw that limits the efficiency of the system. The panels must face the sun to operate, but the heat from this exposure diminishes their ability to convert light into energy. The hotter they get, the less efficient they become. This issue has perplexed the industry for years, but the Stanford team may have discovered a material that can help dissipate this excess heat without affecting the operation of the solar array.
The solution, proposed by Stanford electrical engineering professor Shanhui Fan, research associate Aaswath P. Raman, and doctoral candidate Linxiao Zhu, uses a material that is able to capture and emit thermal radiation (heat) away from the solar call. While deterring heat buildup, the thin, patterned silica material does not block sunlight, allowing the photons to enter the solar panel where they are converted to energy. It’s a win-win situation, allowing the free flow of sunlight and the removal of excess heat from the system. Cont'd...
Megan Treacy for TreeHugger: A new technology developed by University of Nebraska-Lincoln electrical engineering doctoral student Jie Cheng solves both of those problems by harnessing the excess wind energy usually wasted as spillage and storing it for use when wind speeds dip, making wind turbines more efficient and consistent.
Cheng's system converts and directs the extra wind energy to an air compression tank, where the energy is stored until wind speeds dip below the maximum capacity. Using a rotary vane machine that is connected between the turbine's gearbox and generator, excess energy is diverted and stored in the air compression tank. When the wind dies down, the tank then kicks in and reverses airflow back to the rotary vane machine to generate electricity.
In a recent study of his prototype, Cheng found that a 250-kW system would produce an additional 3,830 kWh of electricity per week or an additional 16,400 kWh per month based on historical wind data from Springview, Nebraska. That extra electricity is about 18 times the monthly energy use of a typical American household. Cont'd...
Tim Maverick for Wall Street Daily: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) made it official last week. The current El Niño is classified as a strong event.
An El Niño falls into the “strong” category if weekly sea surface temperatures depart from the average by more than two degrees Celsius.
In fact, this El Niño has nudged ahead of the 1997 El Niño as the strongest in the modern era!
Meteorologists believe this occurrence is actually the most potent since 1948. And it’s expected to persist through winter and into spring.
Every El Niño’s effects are different. At the moment, this one is having a surprisingly negative effect on the wind power industryin the United States.
You see, this occurrence of El Niño has produced the weakest winds across the United States in 40 years. Forecasters say this situation will continue and may even worsen through the spring of 2016. Cont'd...
By Herman K. Trabish for UtilityDIVE: Solar photovoltaic (PV) installed capacity is expected to reach 7.7 GW in 2015, up 24% from 2014, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and GTM Research.
From July 2015 to December 2016, the report forecasts the U.S. solar PV marketwill add 18 GW, which is more than the cumulative capacity built by the industry up to the middle of 2014.
But there are some headwinds for the sector. In a sign it has reached a level of maturity achieved recently by the wind industry, solar advocates now face an uphill political battle for the industry's most vital federal incentive
The mandated term of solar's vital 30% federal investment tax credit (ITC), in place continuously since 2008, will end on December 31, 2016. Beyond that deadline, the tax credit provided at the end of a project’s first year of operation will fall to 10% for commercial investments in solar and to zero for residential solar investments.
SEIA is mounting a multi-million dollar lobbying campaign to secure a five-year extension that will get the industry to 2020, when it hopes the Clean Power Plan can take over to help boost growth. Cont'd...
By Timothy Cama for The Hill: The Obama administration announced Wednesday morning a series of efforts worth more than $120 million aimed at boosting solar and other clean energy sources.
The initiatives focus on the Department of Energy, where the bulk of the funding will go to programs to develop solar power technology and get it into homes, businesses and other facilities.
“President Obama and Vice President Biden are committed to promoting smart, simple, low-cost technologies to help America transition to cleaner and more distributed energy sources, help households save on their energy bills, and to address climate change,” the White House said in a fact sheet outlining the efforts.
“All told, this funding will drive the development of affordable clean energy throughout the country,” it said.
The actions aim to help out solar power in 24 states, officials said. Cont'd...
This years show will place September 14 -17 in Anaheim, CA. Over 15,000 + visitors are expected in attendance to learn about the latest technology innovations, financing models, business best practices and policy and incentive programs that are contributing to the growth of the solar industry. With over 600 exhibitors from 75 countries on display showcasing the entire system of solar technology and advances in solar cell and module technology, balance of system components, solar heating and cooling and energy storage.
Check out Solar Power International Newspage for all the News and Announcements from this years show. Also stay tuned for our SPI Tradeshow Report.
Derek Markham for CleanTechnica: The company behind what will be California’s first commercial-scale solar desalination plant is issuing $10 million in preferred stock in the venture, through a state-registered direct public offering (DPO) in California.
WaterFX Hydro I, Inc., doing business as HydroRevolution℠, a California subsidiary of WaterFX™, is offering the shares to finance the construction of a fully solar-powered desalination plant in the Central Valley, which is expected to be able to produce up to 1.6 billion gallons (5000 acre-feet) of water per year, with virtually zero liquid discharge. The HydroRevolution℠ process is said to allow for a 90% recovery rate, with the remaining brine being treated further to isolate the salt and mineral byproducts for industrial applications.
Instead of desalinating seawater, as many desalination operations do, this plant will pull water from shallow irrigation water (also called subsurface drainage water) which is produced as a consequence of agriculture, and which has a high salinity content that can be detrimental to freshwater ecosystems. This new plant is a scaled up and expanded version of the company’s demonstration desalination plant. Cont'd...
By Vlad Tverdohleb for CruxialCIO: Panasonic Corp is the producer of lithium-ion batteries for Tesla Motors Inc’s cars. However, Panasonic is now preparing to begin selling batteries that power homes in Europe. Its first market is Germany, where homeowners are even given greater incentives to switch to clean electricity generated by solar-power devices.
Thus, Panasonic’s push into international markets with home batteries is putting the Japanese company into direct competition with Tesla, its flagship customer. In May, the American company unveiled a suite of batteries to store electricity for businesses and homes.
Panasonic plans to move later to France, the U.K. and other European markets. Laurent Abadie, Panasonic Europe chief executive officer, declared on Wednesday, Sept. 2, in an interview at the IFA International Consumer Electronics Show in Berlin, that the company has not decided yet when it would start sales in Europe. Cont'd...
By Lucas Mearian for Computerworld: Manhattan has approximately 47,000 buildings with around 10.7 million windows, according to a 2013estimate from The New York Times.
Now imagine if just 1% -- or 100,700 -- of those windows could generate electricity through transparent photovoltaics.
That's the idea behind solar power windows, and at least two companies are hoping to sell the technology to window manufacturers, saying once installed in a building the technology will pay for itself in about a year.
"If you look at the glass that's manufactured worldwide today, 2% of it is used for solar panels; 80% of it is used in buildings. That's the opportunity," said Suvi Sharma, CEO of solar panel maker Solaria. Cont'd...
Ross Jennings for The Conversation: The world’s tides contain enough energy to power the entire UK’s electricity consumption. And, since it effectively harnesses the moon’s constant and predictable gravitational pull, tidal power overcomes one of renewable energy’s classic problems – the fact you never know quite how much sun, wind or rain to expect. Now, underwater windmills positioned just below the ocean surface could be a major breakthrough for tidal power.
Costly technology and inaccessible locations have thus far held things back. Large, heavy and expensive turbines mounted on the seabed have been developed, but these are aimed at commercial scale developments. Tidal power needs its equivalent of the rooftop solar panel.
Imagine then a wind turbine, but underwater, and not fixed to the seabed – these so-called “mobile floating turbines” are a cheaper and more adaptable alternative to big, fixed developments. Most floating turbines look something like this: Cont'd...
By Lauren J. Young for IEEE Spectrum: Today’s concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) technologies have shown promising potential for more efficient solar power. The latest systems are said to be capable of handling the power of a hundred suns. Yet prototypes have failed to compete with cheaper flat panel solar systems that dominate the market. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E) is determined to push CPV to the next level. On 24 August, at the Clean Energy Summit, U.S. President Barack Obama and Energy Secretary Ernest Monizannounced a program called MOSAIC that will invest $24 million into CPV solar technology development.
Why can’t today’s CPV systems compete? The concentrators can only convert direct sunlight into energy, missing out on the large fraction of sunlight diffracted by clouds and the atmosphere. Manufacturing costs of concentrator apparatuses have also prevented CPV from reaching mass production. Cont'd...
NASA's space technology program is seeking proposals to develop solar array systems for space power in high radiation and low solar energy environments.
In the near future, NASA will need solar cells and arrays for multiple applications in robotic and human space exploration missions. Because these systems were traditionally developed for operation near Earth, there is a need to develop new solar array concepts as NASA considers missions that require exposure to more intense radiation environments and travel ever farther from the sun.
NASA hopes to solicit proposals for the development of promising technologies to increase solar cells that will work under low intensity, low temperature and high radiation environments.
Proposals will be accepted from U.S. organizations, including NASA centers and other government agencies, federally funded research and development centers, educational institutions, industry and nonprofit organizations.
Iran is building the Middle East’s first geothermal power plant at the foot of an inactive volcanic peak as the country is racing to meet a runaway demand for electricity by its growing population.
The pilot station in northwestern Meshguin Shahr in the Ardabil province is projected to come on stream in the next two years, putting Iran in the club of two dozen nations with the geothermal power generation capacity.
The 50-megawatt project is in line with Iran’s bid to expand its clean energy mix which is dominated by fossil fuels. Geothermal power is cheaper and more reliable than other renewable energy sources, such as thermal or hydro power. Cont'd...
Todd Woody for TakePart.com: The federal government on Monday green-lit a 485-megawatt solar plant that would generate enough carbon-free electricity to power 180,000 homes when it comes online in the Southern California desert.
During the Great Recession, that was nothing unusual about billions of dollars in federal stimulus money fueling big green dreams of carpeting the Mojave Desert with giant solar power plants on government-owned land, a cornerstone of the Obama administration’s efforts to fight climate change. That land, however, often turned out to be home to desert tortoises, blunt-nosed leopard lizards, and other endangered wildlife. Many of those projects went belly-up in part because of fierce opposition from environmental groups.
That prompted an effort by the federal government to be “smart from the start” about where it allowed big renewable energy plants to be built. So the Blythe Mesa Solar Project, which was approved Monday, will deploy tens of thousands of solar panels across 3,587 acres of already disturbed or fallow farmland where wheat, alfalfa, and citrus had been grown. No desert tortoises will be harmed. Cont'd...
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