NREL Publishes Landmark Residential Solar PV + Energy Storage Cost Breakdown

Joshua S Hill for CleanTechnica: The US National Renewable Energy Laboratory has published a landmark report extensively detailing component and system-level cost breakdowns for residential PV solar systems equipped with energy storage. The decreasing cost of solar systems has been well documented over the last several years, with increased innovation and decreasing manufacturing costs combining to make solar PV a competitive and economic choice for residents and utilities across the United States, and in fact the world. As such, the costs attributed to the development of residential and utility-scale solar projects has been well defined for some time - even though that figure keeps decreasing.

Wind Energy Now Directly Competing With Coal On Cost

Gregory Brew for Last week, Xcel Energy announced a multi-state wind capacity project, anticipated to be the largest in the United States. Spanning seven states, the project covers eleven new wind farms and would generate 3280 MWs at a cost of $3.5-4.4 billion. In its announcement, Xcel emphasized the cost-savings attached to wind power, arguing that it would save Xcel customers in the Midwest $7.9 billion over thirty years. This, rather than the environmental benefits of renewable energy, drove the company's mission statement: wind was cheap, not just clean.

Fla. movin' on up with solar power

NWFDailyNews: For years, Florida has been an underachiever in solar power. Despite being ranked third in the nation for rooftop-solar potential by the Solar Energy Industries Association, Florida annually has finished in the high-teens for actual installations. But the Sunshine State's solar prospects are beginning to brighten - and the results are making an economic impact.

Tata Power Solar Expands and Modernises its Manufacturing Facility

The two-stage expansion doubled the company's module capacity to 400 from 200 MW, and increased its cell manufacturing capacity by 65 per cent from 180 to 300 MW.

Big Oil Replaces Rigs With Wind Turbines

Jess Shankleman for Bloomberg: Big oil is starting to challenge the biggest utilities in the race to erect wind turbines at sea.

Record-breaking solar panel converts more than a quarter of sunlight into electricity

Ian Johnson for Independent: A record-breaking solar panel that can convert more than a quarter of the sunlight it receives into electricity has been developed by researchers in Japan.

Trump Should Make Space-Based Solar Power A National Priority

Space-based solar power (SBSP) --- in which satellites in Earth orbit capture the Sun's radiation, convert it to electricity and then transmit it back to Earth in the form of either microwaves or lasers --- would arguably do more to positively impact the lives of everyday Americans and fellow citizens of the world than almost anything the new President could champion.

Perceptual Robotics, Autonomous wind turbine inspection

SUAS News:   Perceptual Robotics is applying leading edge autonomy concepts to industrial applications.  Currently based in the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, our passion is to bridge the divide between academia and industry. Perceptual Robotics is applying leading edge autonomy concepts to industrial applications. Currently based in the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, our passion is to bridge the divide between academia and industry.  Through our Innovate UK project, we will be developing a fully autonomous system for the intelligent, efficient and reliable inspection of wind turbines.   Cont'd...

Google: 4 out of 5 US homes have solar power potential

Steve Dent for engadget:  A five kilowatt rooftop solar installation now costs just $12,500 on average after tax credits, and pretty soon, installing one might soon be a matter of re-tiling your roof. Whether it's right for you, however, depends in large part on how much sun your house gets. That's where Google's Project Sunroof comes in -- launched just two years ago, it has now surveyed over 60 million US buildings in 50 states. That means there's a good chance you can see the electricity production potential in your city, neighborhood and even specific house. Google calculates the amount of sunlight on your roof based on "3D modeling of your roof and nearby trees," weather patterns, the position of the sun in the sky during the year and shade from buildings, trees and other obstructions. That info is then converted to energy production "using industry standard models for solar installation performance," Google says.   Cont'd...

Scientists harness solar power to produce hydrogen from biomass

University of Cambridge via Biomass Magazine:  Dr Moritz Kuehnel, from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge, joint lead author on a new research paper published in Nature Energy, says: "Lignocellulose is nature's equivalent to armoured concrete. It consists of strong, highly crystalline cellulose fibres, that are interwoven with lignin and hemicellulose which act as a glue. This rigid structure has evolved to give plants and trees mechanical stability and protect them from degradation, and makes chemical utilisation of lignocellulose so challenging." The new technology relies on a simple photocatalytic conversion process. Catalytic nanoparticles are added to alkaline water in which the biomass is suspended. This is then placed in front of a light in the lab which mimics solar light. The solution is ideal for absorbing this light and converting the biomass into gaseous hydrogen which can then be collected from the headspace. The hydrogen is free of fuel-cell inhibitors, such as carbon monoxide, which allows it to be used for power.   Full Article:

Solar Experiment Lets Neighbors Trade Energy Among Themselves

Diane Cardwell for The New York Times:  Brooklyn is known the world over for things small-batch and local, like designer clogs, craft bourbon and artisanal sauerkraut.  Now, it is trying to add electricity to the list. In a promising experiment in an affluent swath of the borough, dozens of solar-panel arrays spread across rowhouse rooftops are wired into a growing network. Called the Brooklyn Microgrid, the project is signing up residents and businesses to a virtual trading platform that will allow solar-energy producers to sell excess-electricity credits from their systems to buyers in the group, who may live as close as next door. The project is still in its early stages - it has just 50 participants thus far - but its implications could be far reaching.   Cont'd...

Large-scale floating offshore wind power is finally here

Sami Grover for TreeHugger:  Offshore wind energy has been growing like crazy in the last few decades—so much so that there's even talk of serious talk of multi-gigawatt offshore wind farms in the US in the not too distant future.  But offshore wind has so far been limited to areas where the seafloor is relatively shallow, and where it's easy to build foundations for these gigantic turbines. Floating wind turbines are different. Instead of using fixed foundations, they are anchored to the sea floor using cables. And that means they can be located in deeper waters, opening up many more areas where wind conditions are favorable and concerns about views and/or bird migration routes are less relevant. Alongside opening up new areas for development, the other major advantage of floating turbines—once they are being developed at scale—could also be reduced costs.    Cont'd...

New process for manufacturing PV cells means cheaper solar power  A major roadblock to the mass use of solar energy are photovoltaic (PV) solar cells. This is because the cost, inefficiency and negative environmental impact that the manufacturing of these cells outweighs any potential savings provided by the resulting solar energy. If, however, cost could be were minimised, then solar power would be more able to compete with traditional fossil fuel-based methods for generating energy. To overcome this hurdle, the EU-funded SOLNOWAT project has developed an innovative dry process for manufacturing PV solar cells. PV cells are typically created via a wet chemical process that etches away layers of silicon from a crystalline wafer, leaving behind the solar cell. The SOLNOWAT process replaces the expensive and inefficient wet chemical process with the use of atmospheric pressure dry etching technology – a process that cuts costs and speeds up production. Because less silicon is removed during dry etching, the resulting cells are darker, making them very efficient at absorbing light. In fact, they are so efficient that they have been classified as having zero global warming potential.   Cont'd...

US wind generation reached 5.5% of the grid in 2016

Iowa, South Dakota, Kansas, Oklahoma and North Dakota all sourced more than 20 percent of their electricity generation from wind power during 2016, according to new data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). It shows wind supplied over 5.5 percent of electricity nationwide, up from 4.7 percent in 2015.  With 99 percent of wind turbines located in rural areas, wind power's steady growth as a share of the nation's electricity supply has been accompanied by a surge of investment in rural America. The industry invested over $13.8 billion in new turbines last year, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), in addition to operating a fleet now over 52,000 turbines.   Full AWEA Press Release:

Global Annual Installed Capacity of Small and Medium Wind Turbines is Expected to Exceed 446 MW in 2026

Despite weakening policy drivers and competition from declining solar PV prices, the SMWT industry is still poised for growth. With a large amount of wind resource potential still available, plus several growing and emerging markets, the industry is anticipated to sustain itself into the foreseeable future. Click to tweet: According to a new report from @NavigantRSRCH, the global installed capacity of SMWTs is expected to grow from 176.4 MW in 2017 to 446.0 MW in 2026.  "With historically leading markets such as the United States, the United Kingdom, and China seeing declining annual installed capacities of small and medium wind in recent years, other countries such as Japan, Denmark, and Italy are emerging as forces in the distributed wind market thanks to favorable government incentives," says Adam Wilson, research associate with Navigant Research. "We're also seeing a shift with medium-sized turbines as their niche slowly shrinks as drivers continue to favor small wind turbines for distributed wind and larger multi-megawatt turbines dominating utility-scale applications."   Full Press Release:

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