SunEdison Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection

PEG BRICKLEY and ANNE STEELE for The Wall Street Journal:  Solar-energy Company SunEdison Inc. on Thursday filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, a dramatic move for a company whose market value stood at nearly $10 billion in July. SunEdison said its publicly traded entities, TerraForm Power Inc. and TerraForm GlobalInc., aren’t part of the filing. The two so-called yieldcos—separate entities that buy operating projects from developer SunEdison and pay out cash flow to their shareholders—said Thursday they believe they have sufficient liquidity to run their businesses and meet financial obligations, although SunEdison’s bankruptcy “will present challenges.” Bankruptcy has been a near-certainty for SunEdison for some time. The company borrowed heavily to buy up wind and solar developers, accumulating a pile of debt that worried investors. Disappointing earnings didn’t ease their fears about the pace of SunEdison’s growth, and an accounting move last year that reclassified more than $700 million worth of debt heightened anxieties.   Cont'd...

WattJoule Develops Cost Breakthrough for Liquid Energy Storage

WattJoule Corporation, a developer of next-generation liquid electrical energy storage systems, has developed and built a new system demonstrating a major industry cost breakthrough. The new storage platform is called ElectriStor™ and will be offered to system integrators as the preferred core component for storing large amounts of solar and wind energy.  One of the major barriers preventing the widespread adoption of large-scale energy storage has been cost. WattJoule has engineered the ElectriStor™ platform based on the redox flow battery concept where electricity is stored in a liquid. WattJoule's proprietary liquid electrolyte is mostly water, and the company has developed a new, inexpensive process to make it in large quantities. Early liquid energy storage systems have suffered from a number of technical and cost limitations. Recently there have been several technical breakthroughs to overcome these constraints. WattJoule has both developed and exclusively licensed key technologies that, in combination, dramatically lower energy storage costs to $150 per kilowatt-hour in its first-generation energy storage product.   Full Press Release:    

Why companies like: Google and Walmart are buying so much wind power

Brady Dennis for The Washington Post:  The U.S. wind energy industry had a memorable 2015, from installing thousands of new turbines across the country to supporting a growing number of jobs. But perhaps one of the most noteworthy brights spots of the past year, according to an annual report released Tuesday by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), was the growing demand for wind energy from major corporations. High-tech firms such as Google Energy, Facebook and Amazon Web Services, as well as more traditional companies such as Procter & Gamble, General Motors, Walmart and Dow Chemical, have signed contracts to purchase increasing amounts of wind energy in coming years. Corporations and other non-utility customers — including some municipalities and universities  — accounted for more than half of the wind power capacity sold through so-called power purchase agreements in 2015, according to the AWEA. The group said that corporate and other non-utility buyers have signed contracts for more than 4,500 megawatts of wind power capacity, or enough to power the equivalent of about 1.2 million American homes.   Cont'd...

Two-thirds of US solar installers do not offer storage, study finds

Ian Clover for PV Magazine:  A study by EuPD Research shows just 34% of PV installers in the U.S. offer storage solutions to customers, with those reluctant to do so citing cost concerns. However, 26% that currently do not offer storage hope to include it in their portfolios this year. For all the glitzy product launches by the likes of Tesla and Sonnen, the solar+storage landscape of the U.S. is still largely shaped by what leading installers are – or aren’t – prepared to offer to customers, and a recent survey has found that around two-thirds do not currently include storage technology in their product portfolio. EuPD Research’s latest PV Installer Survey USA 2015/16 revealed that only one-third of installers already offer energy storage to homeowners or businesses in the U.S. looking to adopt solar power. Of the two-thirds that do not, 38% said that current pricing of batteries impedes demand, meaning margins are too low for installers and the "technological maturity" of the systems on the market is not currently convincing. However, the mood does appear to be shifting in favor of storage, with 26% of survey participants saying they hope to add storage products to their portfolio at some stage in 2016.   Cont'd...

This Device Could Provide a Third of America's Power

Sam Grobart for Bloomberg:  There are 332,519,000 cubic miles of water on the planet. That's 352,670,000,000,000,000,000 gallons just sloshing around out there.  Anyone who's ridden or been tossed by a wave has a sense of the kinetic energy contained in our perpetually moving oceans. If we could harness it, it could provide a clean, renewable source of energy. But efforts to turn our oceans into power generators—often in the form of "aqua-mills," windmill technology adapted to water—have foundered on the complexity of their many moving parts in the corrosive and remote environs of the sea.  A new approach, developed by a company called Oscilla Power, applies all that kinetic energy to a solid piece of metal instead of using it to turn the blades of an impeller. That creates an alternating magnetic polarity in the metal that can be converted into electrical current.  Oscilla's technology, which is nearly solid-state, may prove far more durable than any other ocean-power project, increasing the chance to draw power from our oceans cleanly, meaningfully, and endlessly.   View video here:

UK solar power installations plummet after government cuts

Adam Vaughan for The Guardian:  The amount of household solar power capacity installed in the past two months has plummeted by three quarters following the government’s cuts to subsidies, according to new figures. A fall in solar power was expected following a 65% reduction in government incentives paid to householders, but the size of the drop-off will dismay green campaigners who want take up on clean energy sources to accelerate. Data published by the energy regulator this week shows there was 21 megawatts (MW) of small solar installed in February and March this year, after a new, lower incentive rate came into effect. By contrast, energy department figures show that for the same period in 2015, 81MW was installed.   Cont'd...

Report: North America Could Add 75 GW Of Wind Power By 2025

From North American WindPower:  According to MAKE’s latest wind power outlook for North America, unprecedented long-term policy certainty in the U.S., along with a new climate-conscious government in Canada, will enable nearly 75 GW of total wind power growth in the region from 2016 to 2025. The production tax credit (PTC) in the U.S. was extended in December 2015 as a multiyear phaseout and will support a total of 44.4 GW of wind power additions from 2016 to 2021. However, as the value of the PTC phases down after 2018, several drivers must align to sustain wind power growth in the U.S. At the sub-regional level, Texas will lead wind power growth from 2016 to 2018, followed by the Plains and the Midwest. Turbine technology advancement and balance-of-plant cost reductions will continue to drive down the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) of wind power and offset a portion of the lost PTC value from 2019. This will allow wind power to maintain a substantial share of new power generation demand, despite attractive costs for natural gas power and rising competition from solar photovoltaics. Last year, the U.S. alone added nearly 8.6 GW of new wind energy generation.   Cont'd...

Danish researchers may have found 'the energy source of the future'

CPH Post:  Researchers at the University of Copenhagen have discovered a natural process they are calling ‘reverse photosynthesis’. They have observed how the energy in solar rays breaks down rather than builds up plant material, as happens in photosynthesis. Sunlight is collected by chlorophyll, and when combined with a specific enzyme the energy breaks down plant biomass. The resulting product can then be used as a biofuel. By increasing production speed while reducing pollution, the discovery has the potential to revolutionise industrial production. “This is a game-changer, one that could transform the industrial production of fuels and chemicals, thus serving to reduce pollution significantly,” said Claus Felby, the University of Copenhagen professor who headed up the research. “It has always been right under our noses,” he said. “Photosynthesis by way of the sun doesn’t just allow things to grow – the same principles can be applied to break plant matter down, so that the immense energy in solar light can be used so that processes can take place without additional energy inputs.”   Cont'd...

Solar Power's Promise Infuses a New Film

Emily J. Gertz for TakePart:  Filmmaker Shalini Kantayya set out to show that climate change isn’t all gloom and doom. The result, Catching the Sun, ably makes that case but may still leave you inspired and infuriated in equal parts. This fast-paced and compelling new documentary, which premieres Friday in New York City and in cities nationwide during April, follows a diverse group of job seekers, activists, politicians, and entrepreneurs as they tap into the world’s growing solar powereconomy. Kantayya jumps between nations that have unequivocally adopted policies to speed up adoption of renewables and more fitful efforts here in the United States to expand solar energy—from a program in Richmond, Virginia, training unemployed men and women to become solar panel installers to a “Green Tea Party” member and energy independence advocate working both sides of the halls of power in Georgia.   Cont'd...

The World's Largest Renewable Energy Developer Could Go Broke

Ben Walsh for The Huffington Post:  There is a “substantial risk” that SunEdison may file for bankruptcy, the world’s largest renewable energy developer said in a regulatory filing on Tuesday. The company’s fall isn’t a referendum on the solar industry as a whole, as much as it is on SunEdison’s aggressive growth strategy fueled by excessive debt and financial engineering, analysts say. SunEdison “just thought they were smarter than everyone else,” said David Levine, the founder and CEO of Geostellar,  a solar energy marketplace that has done deals with the company. The company’s shares have fallen steeply since they hit a high of $30 in July. They were at just $1.26 before the filing. The stock immediately dropped another 40 percent when the market opened after the filing, and the company was trading at just $0.59 by Tuesday lunchtime. “What happened from late-2014 to the middle of 2015, the company began embarking on a hyper-growth strategy,” S&P analyst Angelo Zino told The Huffington Post.   Cont'd...

Could uphill train tracks solve the problem of energy storage?

James Murray for BusinessGreen:  is commonly regarded as a green form of travel, typically boasting lower levels of carbon emissions and air pollution than road transport, but could it also serve to deliver a cleaner and more resilient power grid? That is the hope of innovative US start up Advanced Rail Energy Storage, LLC, which yesterday announces it has secured a crucial right-of-way lease from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to develop its planned 50MW gravity-based energy storage project. The ARES Nevada project uses the same principles as pumped hydroelectric energy storage projects, but instead of relying on water in a water-stressed region it plans to make use of an inclined rail track and generator locomotive cars that will run along it.   Cont'd...

Why Power Markets Tilt Toward Renewables Even With Cheap Oil

Anna Hirtenstein for Bloomberg Business:  If you’re a power plant developer, chances are you’ll be selling renewables in a developing nation in the decades ahead -- even with fossil fuel prices bumping along historic lows. That’s been the conclusion for some time of the International Energy Agency and independent researchers such as Bloomberg New Energy Finance. A report out Thursday from the United Nations Environment Program using BNEF data gives more statistical backing for the trends. For the first time in 2015, more investment went into renewables than fossil fuels, and most of the money went to emerging markets. BNEF is hosting a conference in New York starting April 4 to bring together executives and bankers attempting to generate value from the boom. Here are six charts from the UNEP report showing why cheap oil and natural gas aren’t about to slow the rise of wind and solar.

EPFL Scientists Achieve Record-Level Reproducibility for Perovskite Solar Cells

Perovskite solar cells hold much promise for cost-effective solar energy. However, heat stability is an issue, and can significantly limit the solar cell’s long-term efficiency. A team of scientists led by Michael Grätzel’s lab at EPFL has now developed a cesium-containing perovskite solar cell that has achieved efficiency of 21.1%, as well as record-level reproducibility. The work is published in Energy and Environmental Science. By adding cesium, the EPFL scientists, led by postdoc Michael Saliba, made the first ever triple-cation perovskite mixture (Cs/MA/FA). The new films are more heat-stable and less affected by fluctuating surrounding variables such as temperature, solvent vapors or the heating protocol used for the device. But more importantly, they also show stabilized power-conversion efficiencies of 21.1% and outputs at 18% under operational conditions, even after 250 hours. “This is an absolute breakthrough,” says Michael Saliba. “These properties are crucial for commercializing perovskite photovoltaics, especially since reproducibility and stability are the main requirements for cost-effective large-scale manufacturing of perovskite solar cells.”   Source AZOCleantech...

Tesla Discontinues 10-Kilowatt-Hour Powerwall Home Battery

Julia Pyper for GTM:  Tesla has quietly removed all references to its 10-kilowatt-hour residential battery from the Powerwall website, as well as the company’s press kit. The company's smaller battery designed for daily cycling is all that remains. The change was initially made without explanation, which prompted industry insiders to speculate. Today, a Tesla representative confirmed the 10-kilowatt-hour option has been discontinued. "We have seen enormous interest in the Daily Powerwall worldwide," according to an emailed statement to GTM. "The Daily Powerwall supports daily use applications like solar self-consumption plus backup power applications, and can offer backup simply by modifying the way it is installed in a home. Due to the interest, we have decided to focus entirely on building and deploying the 7-kilowatt-hour Daily Powerwall at this time." The 10-kilowatt-hour option was marketed as a backup power supply capable of 500 cycles, at a price to installers of $3,500. Tesla was angling to sell the battery to consumers that want peace of mind in the event the grid goes down, like during another Superstorm Sandy. The problem is that the economics for a lithium-ion backup battery just aren’t that attractive.   Cont'd...

Solar Panels Grown on the Moon could Power Earth

Sarah Fecht for Popular Science:  Currently a high school senior in California, Lewis-Weber has just published a paper in the journal New Space with what he thinks could be the solution to the upcoming energy crisis: putting self-replicating solar panels in space. These solar panels would to build copies of themselves, autonomously, on the surface of the moon. Then they would enter Earth's orbit, collect the sun's energy, and wirelessly beam it to the ground. That may sound like a crazy idea, but the notion of space-based solar power actually dates back several decades, to the 1970s oil crisis. It was set aside after oil prices went back down, but since then, two things have happened: One, the world has become a lot more desperate to solve climate change; and two, technological innovations have brought this crazy idea out of the realm of science fiction. The idea is gaining attention, and with some big investments, it's possible that space-based solar power could become a reality within a few decades.   Cont'd...

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