Cat Distasio for inhabitat: Many countries are on the brink of becoming self-sufficient in their clean energy production, thanks to advances in battery technology that allow electricity from renewable sources to be stored and used on demand. Over the years, as renewable energy generation methods have charged forward, utility companies have struggled with how to integrate that clean energy in usable ways. Now, scientists at Harvard, MIT, Stanford, the Lawrence Livermore and Oak Ridge labs, and other agencies are working on energy storage projects funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, with their sights set on what the department calls the ‘holy grail’ of energy policy. The department says the industry could be transformed in as little as five to ten years.
Earlier this year, Advanced Research Projects-Energy (ARPA-E), the division of the U.S. Department of Energy founded in 2009 to oversee these projects, claimed to have achieved that goal. Without pointing to a specific invention or discovery, ARPA-E insists that the solution lies amid the 75 projects the agency is funding. The breakthrough technology—the next generation of renewable energystorage—is expected to be developed for large-scale usage in as little as five to ten years. Cont'd...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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.
AltEnergyMag.com's special coverage report brings all the important headlines from this years event.
John Petersen for Investor Intel: Rooftop solar is an odd duck. A consumer buys an expensive capital asset with the expectation that he’ll recover his investment through lower electric bills. As a matter of metaphysics, he’s decided to go into the power business with the primary goal of satisfying the most important and discriminating customer on the planet. The value proposition he currently offers his local electric utility is:
- I’ll buy less electricity from you because of my solar panels, but I need you on standby 24/7 to supply my nighttime needs and fill any weather related power production gaps;
- Since my solar panels will frequently produce more power than I need, I want you to give me credit for any excess power production, let me draw equivalent power from you when I need it, and structure it all as a tax free swap;
- You can, of course, bill me for any difference between what I deliver and what I take;
- I’ll have no duty to buy a fixed amount of power from you or deliver a fixed amount of power to you, but you must supply whatever I need and take whatever I don’t need; and
- You will be required to pay all of the costs associated with weather related production gaps and pass those costs through to your other customers.
Fred Lambert for Electrek: Last week, Elon Musk announced his plan for Tesla to acquire SolarCity and fold the solar installer’s operations into Tesla’s own business. The offer is still contingent on board approval and shareholder votes at both companies, but Electrek has now learned that the automaker is going ahead with trademark applications to sell solar products under its ‘Tesla’ brand.
According to trademark filings obtained by Electrek, Tesla’s trademark and copyright attorney at Cooley LLP, Ariana Hiscott, filled 6 new trademark applications for the company on June 22nd – the day Tesla announced the offer.
The trademarks applications range from solar cells and solar modules: “Solar energy equipment, namely, photo-voltaic solar modules for converting electronic radiation to electrical energy; and equipment for use in collecting and converting solar into electricity, namely, solar cells and inverters.”
To the installation and repair of solar panels: “Installation, maintenance and repair of solar panels and other equipment for use in converting solar energy into electricity; installation of solar energy systems and consulting related thereto.”
It also covers the monitoring of solar energy generation and the financing of solar installations. All applications are for the trademark “Tesla”. Cont'd...
Stephen Edelstein for GreenCarReports: Tesla Motors was the first carmaker to branch out from selling electric cars to offering standalone battery packs for energy storage, but others have followed the company's lead.
Mercedes-Benz and Nissan have stated their intentions to enter the energy-storage market, and now BMW is jumping on the bandwagon as well.
At the Electric Vehicle Symposium & Exhibition 29—known as EVS29—held this week in Montreal, Canada, BMW unveiled an energy-storage system that uses battery packs from i3 electric cars.
Developed in concert with German firm Beck Automation, BMW's system is designed to use either new battery packs or "second-life" packs that have degraded too much for continued use in electric cars.
Battery packs that can no longer function in cars still have enough usable capacity for energy storage.
BMW has tested the concept over the past five years with various research projects, including a 2013 "micro-grid" project with the University of San Diego, and a 2014 collaboration in Germany with utility Vattenfall to use electric-car battery packs as buffer to help stabilize electricity grids. Cont'd...
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