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...

Kickstarter Projects August 2015

Here are a few alternative energy crowd funding projects that you may find interesting.

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.

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...

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...

The Bright Idea Behind Power Classes

In order to avoid costs for AC panel upgrades, it makes sense for inverter manufacturers to provide power classes that get the most solar power on an existing customer's AC panel without upgrading it.

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...

IBM Uses Machine Learning to Boost Solar for Dept of Energy

While other solar forecasting systems take more narrow location and timeframe views, what's different about the IBM approach is that we incorporate a great number of weather and solar energy prediction models. We then blend those using historical data as a function of weather situation, forecast horizon and location to create what we call a supermodel.

The future of solar Feed-in Tariffs in the UK

We're extremely close to reaching the point at which renewable electricity costs as little to generate as electricity from fossil fuels, so it's imperative that we don't take a backward step.

Hillary Clinton is calling for a 700% increase in solar power. Is that realistic?

Brad Plumer for VOX:  In the coming months, Hillary Clinton's campaign is planning to release a series of proposals for dealing with global warming. Her first installment is out Sunday evening, and it calls for a large increase in renewable power. Specifically, she's proposing to boost the amount of wind, solar, and other renewables so that they provide 33 percent of America's electricity by 2027 — enough to power every home in the country. Part of her plan would involve accelerating the recent rapid growth of solar installations nationwide. In her proposal, Clinton calls for US solar power to grow 700 percent from current levels. That sounds like an impossibly large number, but it's not implausible on its face. US solar capacity grew 418 percent between 2010 and 2014 (because it was starting from a small base). So 700 percent growth by 2027 is at least within the realm of possibility. But it would require additional policy changes — and clean energy prices would have to keep dropping.   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.   

A Proven Approach To The Challenge Of Building A Leak-proof Array

The current suggested guideline by the NRCA (National Roofing Contractor Association) for the installation of a PV system on a steep slope asphalt shingle roof as far as the flashing of the PV system stanchions, shows the metal flange to be applied underneath the roofing paper.

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...

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