Audi converts potholes to power with new eROT system

JAKE LINGEMAN for AutoWeek:  Aim for those bumps; save the planet.  Audi is working on a new suspension system called eROT (electromechanical rotary damper) that turns the kinetic energy of damper travel into usable, fuel-saving power.

“Every pothole, every bump, every curve induces kinetic energy in the car. Today’s dampers absorb this energy, which is lost in the form of heat,” said Dr. Stefan Knirsch, board member for technical development at Audi AG. “With the new electromechanical damper system in the 48-volt electrical system, we put this energy to use. It also presents us and our customers with entirely new possibilities for adjusting the suspension.”

The electromechanical dampers are arranged horizontally and feed electricity from the motion -- 100 to 150 watts on an average road during testing in Germany -- to a lithium-ion battery. A DC converter connects the 48-volt electrical subsystem to the 12-volt primary.  Cont'd...

Wind power fiercer than expected, study finds  University of Delaware researchers report in a new study that offshore wind may be more powerful, yet more turbulent than expected in the North Eastern United States.

The findings, published in a paper in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, could have important implications for the future development of offshore wind farms in the U.S., including the assessment of how much wind power can be produced, what type of turbines should be used, how many turbines should be installed and the spacing between each.

The study, led by Cristina Archer at UD and Brian Colle at Stony Brook University, analyzed historical data from 2003-2011 at the Cape Wind tower located near the center of Nantucket Sound off the coast of Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, and collected complementary data at the same location in 2013-2014.

Co-authors on the paper, titled "On the predominance of unstable atmospheric conditions in the marine boundary layer offshore of the U.S. northeastern coast," include UD professors Dana Veron and Fabrice Veron, and Matthew Sienkiewicz from Stony Brook.

The paper's main finding is that atmospheric conditions around Cape Wind are predominantly turbulent, or unstable, which is in stark contrast to prevailing data from European offshore wind farms in the Baltic Sea and the North Sea. European studies of offshore wind document that atmospheric conditions there are predominantly neutral— meaning neither too windy nor too still, but somewhere in the middle, with unstable wind conditions occurring only 20 percent of the time.  Cont'd...

Floating solar power sector has "considerable" bank support

Mark Lammey  for EnergyVoice:  A major bank’s decision to throw its weight behind a floating solar power scheme shows the sector is rich with commercial potential, bosses at engineering consultancy OST Energy said.

OST acted as technical adviser for Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) during the early stages of the project to bring Europe’s largest floating photovoltaic solar project to financial close earlier this year.

The 6.3 Megawatt peak (MWp) array, installed by Lightsource Renewable Energy, is the first project of its kind to secure European bank financing.

It now provides a source of clean energy to water utilities company, Thames Water, on the Queen Elizabeth II reservoir west of London.

Thames Water will buy all energy generated by the project as part of a power purchase agreement (PPA) with Lightsource.  Cont'd...

Nevada Court Rejects Solar Power Ballot Initiative As 'Inaccurate' And 'Misleading'

Samantha Page for ThinkProgress:  The Nevada Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a solar industry-backed measure that would have let voters decide how customers are paid for the electricity they put back on the grid.

The November referendum would have allowed voters to overturn a Public Utilities Commission (PUC) decision from late last year that gutted the state’s net metering program — a rate design element that ensures solar owners are paid retail rate for the electricity they put back on the grid.

The court ruled that the description included in the referendum was “inaccurate,” “misleading,” and “argumentative,” the AP reported.

But the industry was not bowed after the ruling, saying it would continue to fight to set fair rates for solar homeowners.  Cont'd...

Renewable energy storage revolutionised by flywheel device

Tereza Pultarova for Engineering & Technology Magazine:  A flywheel-based device invented by a Lancaster University student could help solve the renewable energy storage problem, offering a better alternative to battery technology.

The Flywheel Energy Store, designed by 21-year-old Abigail Carson, retains energy kinetically in a levitating floating mass. The flywheel, about the size of a football, doesn’t require any additional control mechanisms, inputs or maintenance.

“The global energy crisis is the biggest and most urgent problem that needs addressing,” said Carson, who is awaiting a patent for the device. “The Flywheel Energy Store can be used for a vast range of applications – most significantly in providing energy security and independence for everyone globally, but also including eliminating waste in power networks, pumping water to villages and allowing for cleaner cooking and heating in developing countries, instant charging of electric vehicles, and off-grid energy storage.”

Carson’s flywheel can rotate at up to 144,000 revolutions per minute (rpm). The majority of existing flywheel designs usually achieve a maximum of around 60,000rpm.  Cont'd...

Chernobyl is to become the world's largest solar power plant

ALEXANDRU MICU for ZME Science:  The Ukranian government plans to turn Chernobyl, the site of the world’s most famous nuclear meltdown, into a sprawling solar power plant — the largest in the world.

Since the meltdown on April 26, 1986, no one’s been able to find any good uses for Chernobyl. A 1,600 square mile area was drenched in radiation and deemed an “exclusion zone,” so everyone was evacuated after the clean-up efforts were concluded and the plant was sealed in its ubiquitous sarcophagus. The buildings, goods, and infrastructure in the area were abandoned so fast that the city looks like time froze there 30 years ago — albeit with a Falloutesque look. Since we left, nature took over, and for the most part, is thriving in our absence (though the microbes that decompose dead organic matter seem to be having a hard time living here.)

In a recent interview, however, Ukraine’s ecology minister Ostap Semerak said that the government is negotiating with two US investment firms and four Canadian energy companies to develop Chernobyl’s solar potential. The area is uniquely suited for the purpose — the land is extremely cheap, much of the required infrastructure, such as roads are already built. Even better, the power lines that served the old 4GW reactor are still useable.  Cont'd...

Tesla Lowers Bid, Agrees to Pay $2.6 Billion for SolarCity

Chris Martin for Bloomberg Technology:  Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors Inc. reached an agreement to buy SolarCity Corp. for $2.6 billion, about $300 million less than an initial proposal criticized as a “bailout” for the solar company in which he’s the largest shareholder.
SolarCity investors will receive $25.37 a share in stock under the agreement, according to a statement Monday. Musk initially offered $26.50 to $28.50 a share in Tesla stock. Analysts have said in the past that the bid was too low and investors have questioned the wisdom of Musk combining his electric-car maker with the clean-energy company.  The deal, which allows SolarCity to solicit competing takeover offers through Sept. 14, will now go to the shareholders of the companies for approval.   Cont'd...  

Molten storage and thermophotovoltaics offer new solar power pathway

Georgia Institute of Technology:  New computer modeling suggests that high temperature TPV conversion -- which captures infrared radiation from very hot surfaces -- could one day rival combined-cycle turbine systems when combined with thermal storage using liquid metal at temperatures around 1,300 degrees Celsius. Advances in high-temperature components and improved system modeling, combined with the potential for conversion costs an order of magnitude lower than those of turbines, suggest that TPV could offer a pathway for efficiently storing and producing electrical power from solar thermal sources, a new study suggests.

The underlying technologies of high temperature storage and thermophotovoltaic conversion could also be used to produce grid-scale batteries able to rapidly supplement other power sources by storing heat for quick conversion to electricity. The research, supported by ARPA-E, was reported July 4 in the journal Energy and Environmental Science by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology.  Cont'd...

Belgian scientists make novel water-from-urine machine

Reuters:  A team of scientists at a Belgian university say they have created a machine that turns urine into drinkable water and fertilizer using solar energy, a technique which could be applied in rural areas and developing countries.

While there are other options for treating waste water, the system applied at the University of Ghent uses a special membrane, is said to be energy-efficient and to be applicable in areas off the electricity grid.

"We're able to recover fertilizer and drinking water from urine using just a simple process and solar energy," said University of Ghent researcher Sebastiaan Derese.

The urine is collected in a big tank, heated in a solar-powered boiler before passing through the membrane where the water is recovered and nutrients such as potassium, nitrogen and phosphorus are separated.  Cont'd...

Turbines for First U.S. Offshore Wind Farm

The Maritime Executive:  Preparations for the groundbreaking Block Island Wind Farm – America's first – are well under way, with the regulatory permits obtained, the funding procured and the jacket installation complete. Now the actual equipment for the farm, towers, blades and five massive turbines have been shipped, ready for assembly. 

The blades arrrived in Providence, RI from Denmark on the general cargo shipSuomigracht late last month, and the turbines are on board the Fred Olsen jackup construction vessel Brave Tern, currently under way across the North Atlantic. When theTern arrives, it will begin the process of installing the towers; that work is expected to begin in August. 

The 20-mile cable connecting Block Island with the mainland was completed on June 28 – providing the island with its first electrical and fiber optic connection ever. Deepwater Wind, the developer and operator of the farm, has completed a separate cable linking the facility with Block Island, and expects to finish cable linkages between the five wind towers this month.   Cont'd...

Why flying a kite could be the future of clean energy

Antony Michels for Yahoo Finance:  David Schaefer wants to sell $50,000 kites to farmers to help them generate electricity by harnessing the power of the wind.

Schaefer, 54, is the CEO of eWind Solutions, a Beaverton, Oregon, company he founded in 2013 after quitting his job as director of mechanical engineering at Xerox.

“Imagine when you were a kid in a field flying the kite,” Schaefer says. “When the wind picks up you remember feeling that pull on the string. Well that pull is really energy. That’s what we’re doing. We’re harnessing that energy.”  Cont'd...

Obama makes new push on solar power

Timothy Cama for The Hill:  The Obama administration is making a new large-scale effort to encourage deployment and use of rooftop solar power on homes.

Numerous agencies announced new or strengthened coordinated efforts Tuesday aimed at increasing solar installations in houses owned by low- and moderate-income Americans, including a new goal for solar installations and a policy change to increase access to a key financing mechanism for solar power and energy efficiency.

“This is an approach that cuts across the government to try to take advantage of the fact that the cost of renewable technologies has come down dramatically during President Obama’s tenure, and we want to advantage of that a try to encourage more homeowners to actually benefit directly from that dynamic,” Brian Deese, a top adviser to Obama, told reporters.

The administration is dubbing the effort the “Clean Energy for All Americans Initiative.”  Cont'd...

Why Drones Are 'Game-Changing' for Renewable Energy

Julia Pyper for GreenTechMedia:  Amazon caused quite the stir in 2013 when it announced plans to launch a drone delivery service. People were both thrilled and horrified at the thought of flying robots delivering toilet paper to our doorsteps.

Some drone enthusiasts hoped to see Amazon launch a drone-based solar installation service -- but alas, that business doesn't exist. Yet.

Drones are already disrupting the solar sector, however.

This week at Intersolar North America, DroneDeploy, a cloud software platform provider for commercial drones, and DJI, a leading maker of drones and camera technology, announced a partnership that is expected to dramatically increase the efficiency of solar panel installation and inspection using drone-based thermal imagery capture and analytics.

The companies claim that customers can reduce residential solar system measurement times by up to 50 percent and reduce commercial measurement times from days to minutes. In addition, on-board thermal imagery can help to ensure that equipment is in the optimal position for maximum production.  Cont'd...

Energy Storage Would Get U.S. Tax Credits in Bipartisan Bill

Chris Martin for Bloomberg Politics:  Energy storage would gain access to the same tax incentives that helped make renewable energy the biggest new source of electricity in the U.S. last year under a bill introduced in the Senate.

Batteries like the lithium-ion ones in phones and electric vehicles would be eligible for the tax incentives when connected to the utility grid at homes and businesses under a bill introduced Tuesday by Democratic Senator Martin Heinrich from New Mexico. The bill has eight co-sponsors including Dean Heller, a Nevada Republican, according to a statement.

Other energy storage technologies such as pumped hydroelectric power, flywheels and compressed air would also have access to the tax credits, modeled after incentives for the solar industry, which reimburse as much as 30 percent of installation costs.  Cont'd...

Intersolar and ees North America 2016 underway in San Francisco

Since its establishment in 2008, Intersolar North America has become the most attended solar event and the premier networking platform for the North American solar industry.'s special coverage report brings all the important headlines from this years event.

Visit the Intersolar North America website.

Click here for's Special Intersolar Newspage

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