European offshore wind industry smashes installation record

By Madeleine Cuff for Business Green:  The offshore wind industry is set for a bumper 12 months, as the latest figures from the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) reveal installations in the first half of this year hit record levels. As several projects reached completion and larger, more powerful turbines were deployed, new installations hit 2,342.9MW, triple the grid-connected capacity added in the same period last year. The surge in new projects makes the first six months of 2015 more successful than any other full year on record, in terms of installed capacity. Some 584 new offshore wind turbines have been connected to the European grid so far this year, while the average turbine size has risen from 3.5MW to 4.2MW as manufacturers continue to develop more powerful turbines capable of capturing greater amounts of wind energy, the report said. Total offshore wind capacity across Europe has now reached 10,393.6MW, it added.   Cont'd...

Offshore wind power gets foothold in US with Rhode Island project

By Richard Valdmanis for Reuters:  Rhode Island's Deepwater Wind began installing the foundations for North America's first offshore wind farm on Monday, a milestone the company says could pave the way for an industry long established in Europe but still struggling with opposition in the United States. The 30-megawatt wind farm, which will include five turbines located three miles (4.8 km) off the coast of the bucolic summer tourist destination of Block Island, will take more than a year to build and is scheduled to produce electricity for the tiny island community and the mainland by the end of next year. "Our belief is once Block Island is up and running, it will bring offshore wind from theory to reality in the United States and open up opportunities to build larger projects," said Jeffrey Grybowski, Deepwater Wind's CEO.   Cont'd...

The Nature Conservancy Installs Bird Safe Wind Power

The Nature Conservancy has completed its first phase of installation of SheerWind's INVELOX funnel-based wind power technology. Because Palmyra is home to a national wildlife refuge and more than a million nesting seabirds, conventional wind turbines were not an option due to the risk of bird strikes. What's more, the low wind speeds on the island would provide little to no energy production with traditional turbines.  The Conservancy turned to the Minnesota firm SheerWind to design the system resembling an hourglass turned on its side. Extending 83 feet horizontally with a big wind scoop at one end, an exhaust on the other, a Venturi section in the middle increases wind speed potentially three to six times. Nets over the intake and enclosed blades keep it bird friendly. The first phase of the installation includes a single turbine inside the Venturi, allowing for two additional to be installed in the near future.  The first phase of the INVELOX project is successfully charging batteries at night and on cloudy days to supplement the photovoltaic system also installed on Palmyra.   

Acquisition announced for solar power supplier Vivint Solar

On July 20, SunEdison, the world's biggest renewable energy development firm, along with TerraForm Power, an owner and operator of clean energy power plants, announced the acquisition of Vivint Solar, a major supplier of residential solar systems in the U.S. The merger will be worth approximately $2.2 billion in cash as the two major solar companies acquire the residential solar firm. Additionally, SunEdison has agreed to enter a power purchase agreement with TerraForm Power. Roughly 523 megawatts of solar power will be installed by Vivint Solar by the end of 2015, which will now all be moved over to SunEdison. Through the $922 million power agreement, TerraForm Power will install the solar panels for residential solar protections through a "10-year average levered cash-on-cash yield of 9.5 percent," the release stated. Also, TerraForm Power will obtain future small commercial solar and completed residential projects from SunEdison's Residential and Small Commercial business unit.   Cont'd...

New Material to Increase Solar Cell Efficiency

A team of researchers has come up with a solar cell that produces fuel rather than electricity. A material called gallium phosphide enables the solar cell to produce clean fuel hydrogen gas from liquid water. To connect an existing silicon solar cell to a battery that splits the water may well be an efficient solution; but it is very expensive. So, researchers were streamlining their search to a semi-conductor material that is able to both convert sunlight into an electrical charge and split water. The team found gallium phosphide (GaP), a compound of gallium and phosphide, useful in this respect. GaP has good electrical properties but the drawback is that it cannot easily absorb light when it is a large flat surface as used in GaP solar cells, said the study thatappeared in Nature Communications. The researchers overcame this by making a grid of very small GaP nanowires, measuring five hundred nanometres (a millionth of a millimetre) long and ninety nanometres thick. "That makes these kinds of cells potentially a great deal cheaper," said lead author Erik Bakkers from Eindhoven University of Technology, the Netherlands.   Cont'd...

Renewable energy boom will mean vastly cheaper electricity

By Lucas Mearian, ComputerWorld:  Renewable energy, combined with prolific battery storage, will soon result in vastly cheaper electricity -- and solar power that's less expensive than what fossil fuel-based power plants can produce. Additionally, solar power with lithium-ion and flow-battery storage systems will make the combination of renewable energy so inexpensive that it will surpass nuclear power and obviate the need for futuristic power sources such as fusion. That was consensus view from a several keynote speeches delivered at the Intersolar Conference in San Francisco this week. Eicke Weber, director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems, said that in sun-rich countries, the cost of solar power is already below 5 cents per kilowatt and it will continue to plummet as battery storage systems become more prolific and less expensive. Cont'd...

South getting its first wind farm soon as bigger turbines make the region viable

By JASON DEAREN, Associated Press:  On a vast tract of old North Carolina farmland, crews are getting ready to build something the South has never seen: a commercial-scale wind energy farm. The $600 million project by Spanish developer Iberdrola Renewables LLC will put 102 turbines on 22,000 acres near the coastal community of Elizabeth City, with plans to add about 50 more. Once up and running, it could generate about 204 megawatts, or enough electricity to power about 60,000 homes. It would be the first large onshore wind farm in a region with light, fluctuating winds that has long been a dead zone for wind power. After a years-long regulatory process that once looked to have doomed the plan, Iberdrola spokesman Paul Copleman told The Associated Press that construction is to begin in about a month. Right now, there's not a spark of electricity generated from wind in nine states across the Southeast from Arkansas to Florida, according to data from the American Wind Energy Association, an industry trade group. But taller towers and bigger turbines are unlocking new potential in the South, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, and the industry is already looking to invest.   Cont'd...

Obama Plan Would Give Poor Easier Access to Solar Energy

The Obama administration on Tuesday announced an initiative to help low- and middle-income Americans gain access to solar energy, part of a series of steps President Obama is taking to tackle climate change, according to administration officials. The administration said it intends to triple the capacity of solar and other renewable energy systems it installs in federally subsidized housing by 2020, make it easier for homeowners to borrow money for solar improvements and start a nationwide program to help renters gain access to solar energy, the officials said. The actions were announced in Baltimore by Brian Deese, Mr. Obama’s senior adviser for climate issues, and Representative Elijah E. Cummings, the Democrat who represents the city. Mr. Deese, in a conference call with reporters, called the moves “part of a bigger-picture effort to try to drive innovation” toward cleaner, low-carbon energy solutions. Also unveiled on Tuesday were commitments totaling more than $520 million from charities, investors, states and cities to pay for solar and energy-efficiency projects for lower-income communities.   Cont'd...

Start of test with solar energy generating noise barriers alongside highway

Alongside the A2 highway near Den Bosch, The Netherlands, two test noise barriers are installed that generate solar energy. The aim of this practical test, that was officially launched 18 June is to assess the economic and technical feasibility of this form of energy generating noise barriers. Playing a key role in the test are the LSC panels, developed by researcher Michael Debije at TU/e. The translucent, colored panels are a new type of energy source, developed jointly by TU/e. These 'luminescent solar concentrators' (LSCs) receive sun light and guide it to the side of the panels. There, it lands in concentrated form on traditional solar cells. "Thanks to their many colors the LSC are visually very attractive, which makes them ideal for use in many different situations in the built environment", explains Debije of the Department of Chemical Engineering and Chemistry, who has carried out years of research into these panels. "Further benefits are that the principle used is low cost, they can be produced in any desired, regular color, is robust, and the LSCs will even work when the sky is cloudy. That means it offers tremendous potential." Debije published his latest research findings on this subject last March in Nature. On 18 June a one-year practical test started in 's-Hertogenbosch, led by the building company Heijmans. The researchers intend to assess the feasibility of generating electricity using solar cells integrated in noise barriers or SONOBs (Solar Noise Barriers).   Cont'd...

Investment In Renewable Energy Yields More Jobs Than Fossil Fuel Sector

Joshua S Hill for CleanTechnica:  A new report has determined that investments in energy-efficient and renewable energy sources yield more jobs for a set amount of spending than investing in maintaining or expanding the fossil fuel industry. [wind turbine cowboy jobs] The report, Global Green Growth: Clean Energy Industrial Investment and Expanding Job Opportunities, was published earlier this week and presented at the Vienna Energy Forum 2015 by its two authors, the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). “Significant progress has already been made in overcoming the hitherto conventional wisdom that taking steps to cut GHGs is incompatible with economic growth,” said Yvo de Boer, Director-General of GGGI. “This report moves the debate another positive step forward by showing that employment and development result from sustainable, green growth.”

24M Introduces the Semisolid Lithium-Ion Battery

Today, 24M emerged from stealth mode to introduce the semisolid lithium-ion cell, a revolutionary technology that solves the grand challenge of energy storage by enabling a new, cost-effective class of the lithium-ion battery. 24M’s semisolid lithium-ion is the most significant advancement in lithium-ion technology in more than two decades and combines an overhaul in battery cell design with a series of manufacturing innovations that, when fully implemented, will slash today’s lithium-ion costs by 50% and improve the performance of lithium-ion batteries. The technology will accelerate the global adoption of affordable energy storage. Until now, the energy storage field has had two options to try to drive down costs – build massive and complex factories to produce lithium-ion batteries in high volumes or pursue entirely new chemistries that may never move from the lab to the commercial floor. With the invention of the semisolid lithium-ion battery, 24M presents a third option – work with the world’s preferred energy storage chemistry and unlock new opportunities for cost reductions through new cell design and manufacturing innovations. 24M’s platform is the most significant advancement in lithium-ion technology since its debut more than 20 years ago.

Trina Solar to Invest $500 Million in India-Based Solar Plant

Per a media report, Trina Solar Limited is going to invest $500 million for building a 2-gigawatt solar module plant in India in partnership with Welspun Energy Ltd. The plant's output will be exported to the U.S. and European markets, which have imposed punitive trade duties on solar shipments from China.  The facility will be built in either Gujarat or Andhra Pradesh. Construction of the plant will be completed in two phases over a period of about 18 months. 

Nissan to incorporate used Leaf batteries in home energy storage system

Following in the footsteps of Tesla and Mercedes-Benz, Nissan is now set to become the latest automaker to offer battery packs for stationary energy storage. Although pricing information has yet to be provided, the Nissan product should be relatively affordable, as it will incorporate used batteries from Nissan Leaf electric cars. Nissan designed the battery packs as part of the 4R Energy joint venture with Sumitomo Corp., and has partnered with commercial energy storage company Green Charge Networks to manufacture them. While Nissan is the source of the actual "second life" lithium-ion batteries that no longer meet the demands of automotive use, Green Charge is providing the power management software. According to Nissan, this is the first time that used EV batteries have been commercially utilized for such an application. "A lithium-ion battery from a Nissan Leaf still holds a great deal of value as energy storage, even after it is removed from the vehicle, so Nissan expects to be able to reuse a majority of Leaf battery packs in non-automotive applications," says Brad Smith, director of Nissan's 4R Energy business in the US.   Cont'd..

Designer Carbons Are Getting a Boost from Nanotechnology

By Richard Martin for The MIT Technology Review:  A group of Stanford researchers have come up with a nanoscale “designer carbon” material that can be adjusted to make energy storage devices, solar panels, and potentially carbon capture systems more powerful and efficient. The designer carbon that has reached the market in recent years shares the Swiss-cheese-like structure of activated carbon, enhancing its ability to catalyze certain chemical reactions and store electrical charges; but it’s “designed” in the sense that the chemical composition of the material, and the size of the pores, can be manipulated to fit specific uses. The designer carbon tested at Stanford is “both versatile and controllable,” according to Zhenan Bao, a professor of chemical engineering and the senior author of the study, which appeared in the latest issue of the journal ACS Central Science. “Producing high-surface-area carbons with controlled chemical composition and morphology is really challenging,” says Bao. Other methods currently available, she says, “are either quite expensive or they don’t offer control over the chemical structure and morphology.”   Cont'd...

Why You Should Be Paying Attention To The 'Other' Form Of Solar Power

Joe Romm for ThinkProgress:  Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems have seen explosive growth because of their stunning 99 percent price drop in the past quarter century. As a result, the other form of solar power — concentrating solar thermal power (CSP) — is a small fraction of the solar market. But the International Energy Agency (IEA) says CSP has a very bright future too because it enables cheap, efficient storage, which allows CSP plants to provide electricity long after the sun has set. According to the IEA’s 2014 CSP Technology Roadmap, 11 percent of global electricity will be generated by concentrating solar thermal power in 2050.   Cont'd...

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