Google Maps can now tell you if it's worth installing solar panels on your roof

By Loren Grush for The Verge:  Google wants to help you harness the power of the sun. A new service called Project Sunroof aims to provide a "treasure map" of solar energy with the help of Google Maps. Sunroof gives homeowners detailed information about how much solar power their roof can generate and how much money they could save on electricity costs by adding solar panels. Sunroof uses data from Google Maps that previously had no practical application. For instance, Sunroof uses Maps’ 3D-modeling to calculate the amount of space a building’s roof has for solar panels. The service also analyzes the positioning of the sun over the course of a year, as well as the type of cloud cover and temperature the neighborhood usually experiences. It even considers the amount of shade cast by nearby objects.   Cont'd...

The Most Innovative Companies In Renewable Energy

By Michael McDonald for OilPrice.com:  As the oil price bust continues, renewable energy and sustainability innovation is continuing unabated. For instance, an architecture company recently unveiled a set of plans for a smart floating farm project that helps preserve land space and improve food production efficiency. The plans are just hypothetical at this point and it is unclear if they will ever be built, but that’s not really the point. The project shows that, around the world, companies and individuals continue to devote time and resources to innovation in sustainable living. In a similar vein for instance, in the solar field, small companies are creating a host of new innovative products like new inverters and module level electronics. Many of these innovations may seem trivial and iterative. And many are, but a series of trivial and iterative innovations can still lead to big change and that has solar proponents excited.  Big changes are also occurring on more visible systems. A company called Ripasso Energy is pushing its new, more efficient solar generators. In a highly visible effort, Tesla is pressing ahead with its home and business battery storage systems. Desalinization with solar and even solar planes are also on the horizon. The vast majority of these innovations are too early stage for investors to make serious bets on, and even if an investor could be in on an individual technology, that approach is risky. Instead, investors are better off putting their dollars into firms that consistently show an innovative spirit and are pressing forward with a broad portfolio of product innovations. These kinds of broad sets of innovations are important to the future of the planet and they can generate serious returns for sage investors as well.   Cont'd...

Renewable energy developers get their own watchdog

Barbara Grady for GreenBiz:  In another sign that renewable energy is becoming big business, developers of wind and solar power projects are about to find themselves subject to a new layer of scrutiny. The social impact startup trying to goad oil and gas exploration companies to meet certain levels of socially and environmentally responsible behavior is extending its efforts into renewable energy. Equitable Origin, founded as a self-proclaimed standards setter for how oil exploration and extraction companies should go about their work without trampling on human rights, harming local communities and destroying the environment, announced this week that it wants to branch out with new standards for wind and solar energy site development. It’s not that the organization is against renewable energy development, its officers insist. “What we are trying to do is assist the growing renewable energy industries by helping them not repeat the same mistakes as oil and gas,” Josh Garrett, communications manager of Equitable Origin, told GreenBiz.   Cont'd...

Tesla already has reservations for $1bn worth of energy storage

Tesla has taken 100,000 reservations for its Powerpack and Powerwall battery products, worth approximately $1bn, according to founder Elon Musk. Speaking on the company’s quarterly earnings call, Musk said Tesla had taken reservations (non-binding agreements) which led him to believe the company would sell $50m of storage in the fourth quarter of 2015, and up to $500m in both 2016 and 2017. Musk said: "If you just take the reservations that have been made thus far, it's well over $1 billion worth of Powerpacks and Powerwalls. And that's with no marketing, no advertising, no sales force to speak of, really, we're not trying to sell it". Tesla chief technology officer Jeffrey Straubel, who was also on the call, said that around 70% of the reservations were for the larger 1MW Powerpack system, which is focused at commercial users and large-scale energy generators.   Cont'd...

Norway Could Provide 20,000MW of Energy Storage to Europe

Mike Stone  for GTM:  Norway has a lot of hydroelectric plants: a total of 937 of them, which provide a population of 5 million with around 98 percent of its electricity. In fact, the Scandinavian country is home to roughly half of all the hydroelectric water storage reservoirs in Europe. This vast system could also offer a Europe a substantial amount of energy storage -- up to 20 gigawatts of it -- if an ambitious scheme currently being proposed can overcome political and social hurdles and get the necessary funding. That’s according to Kaspar Vereide, an engineer at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim. And his models suggest it could all be achieved in seven years. Vereide is not alone in thinking Norway could become a vast green battery for Europe. The Centre for Environmental Design of Renewable Energy has concluded that there are four realistic scenarios for pumped hydro energy storage in the country, ranging from a Nordics-only scenario, where Norway only looks after its own needs, plus some of those of its Scandinavian neighbors; to a so-called ‘big storage’ scenario, which, it says, would see “Norwegian hydropower play an important role in integrating variable renewable sources into the European power system by providing large volumes of balancing over various time horizons to the North Sea countries through highly integrated grids and power markets.” It’s this "big storage" scenario -- with Norway becoming "the green battery of Europe" -- that Vereide has in mind.   Cont'd...

Battery Costs Set To Fall 60% By 2020 From Energy Storage 'Megashift'

By Sophie Vorrath for RenewEconomy:  The key role energy storage will play in the electricity grids of the future – and the vital importance of investing in and testing the various emerging battery storage technologies – has been highlighted in a major report published by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency on Monday, which predicts a 40-60 per cent price plunge for certain battery technologies by 2020. The 130-page report prepared by AECOM predicts a “mega-shift” to energy storage adoption, driven by demand – from both the supply side, as networks work to adapt to increasing distributed and renewable energy capacity, and from consumers wishing to store their solar energy – and by the rapidly changing economic proposition; a proposition, the report says, that will see the costs of lithium-ion batteries fall by 60 per cent in less than five years, and by 40 per cent for flow batteries.  Cont'd...

Q2 2015 Deal Volume Comparison

The majority of sectors within the solar energy industry are still exhibiting lower than optimal bottom line margins. However, certain sectors are now beginning to see slight margin improvements generated from continued improvements in balance of system costs, industry consolidation and continued growth for solar in certain geographies.

ReneSola Expands into the LED Market

Since launching our U.S. LED business in late 2014, we've quickly built a sales and logistics network across 25 states.

China is building the world's largest solar power plant

Oliver W heaton for Metro.co.uk:  The massive solar plant, which will stretch out across the Gobi desert in the country’s Quinghai province, will cover 25 square kilometres of vacant ground space. When finished the plant, called Delingha, is expected to have a capacity of 200 megawatts, which means it will power one million households all year round. Delingha is the world’s first solar power plant to be run as a commercial entity after being jointly developed by BrightSource Energy from California and the Shanghai Electric Group in China. The awesome structure will have six huge towers as well as thousands of solar mirrors which, due to their heat storage time of 15 hours, will be able to guarantee ‘stable and continual power generation’, according to Qinghai Solar-Thermal Power Group board chair, Wu Longyi.   Cont'd...

Five Characteristics of Great Utility Customer Engagement

The evolution of the energy industry that is enabling customers to engage with their energy use is opening up new opportunities-and new challenges-for utilities.

Fact Sheet: President Obama to Announce Historic Carbon Pollution Standards for Power Plants

The Clean Power Plan is a Landmark Action to Protect Public Health, Reduce Energy Bills for Households and Businesses, Create American Jobs, and Bring Clean Power to Communities across the Country

Japan Builds World's Largest Floating Wind Turbine off Fukushima

by ARATA YAMAMOTO for NBC News:  Engineers in Japan have installed the world's largest floating wind turbine, a towering 344-foot structure that is billed as being able to withstand 65-foot waves and even tsunamis. The 7 megawatt turbine was fastened to the seabed last week by four 20-ton anchors about 12 miles off the Fukushima coast. Its installation was delayed four times because of consecutive typhoons in the region. But one of its chief engineers, Katsunobu Shimizu, told NBC News that the turbine — which is about the same height as London's St. Paul's Cathedral — would be able to withstand even the most extreme conditions. "These turbines and anchors are designed to withstand 65-foot waves," Shimizu said during a sea tour of the turbine given from a boat off the coast. "Also, here we can get 32-foot-tall tsunamis. That's why the chains are deliberately slackened." If a large wave were to push the turbine up, down or to the side, the loose chains connecting the structure to the seabed would give it the freedom to move without being damaged, he said.   Cont'd...

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...

Technology Supports Global Sustainability

Cloud-based software is one technological advancement that can pay dividends in the development and management of a wide variety of renewable energy projects, from wind farms, solar farms and geothermal plants to hydropower and biomass facilities.

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...

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