Justin Worland for Time: Crescent Dunes looks and sounds a bit like an invention lifted from a science fiction novel. Deep in the Nevada desert more than 10,000 mirrors—each the size of a highway billboard—neatly encircle a giant 640-foot tower. It looks like it might be used to communicate with aliens in deep space.
But the engineers and financiers behind the facility, located in the desert about halfway between Las Vegas and Reno, say the power plant’s promise is anything but fiction. The solar power facility built and operated by the company SolarReserve can power 75,000 homes. What sets it apart from other big solar projects is that this plant can store power for use when it is most needed, including cloudy days and after dark—a major advance for renewable energy technology. Cont'd...
PEG BRICKLEY and ANNE STEELE for The Wall Street Journal: Solar-energy Company SunEdison Inc. on Thursday filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, a dramatic move for a company whose market value stood at nearly $10 billion in July.
SunEdison said its publicly traded entities, TerraForm Power Inc. and TerraForm GlobalInc., aren’t part of the filing. The two so-called yieldcos—separate entities that buy operating projects from developer SunEdison and pay out cash flow to their shareholders—said Thursday they believe they have sufficient liquidity to run their businesses and meet financial obligations, although SunEdison’s bankruptcy “will present challenges.”
Bankruptcy has been a near-certainty for SunEdison for some time. The company borrowed heavily to buy up wind and solar developers, accumulating a pile of debt that worried investors. Disappointing earnings didn’t ease their fears about the pace of SunEdison’s growth, and an accounting move last year that reclassified more than $700 million worth of debt heightened anxieties. Cont'd...
Brady Dennis for The Washington Post: The U.S. wind energy industry had a memorable 2015, from installing thousands of new turbines across the country to supporting a growing number of jobs.
But perhaps one of the most noteworthy brights spots of the past year, according to an annual report released Tuesday by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), was the growing demand for wind energy from major corporations. High-tech firms such as Google Energy, Facebook and Amazon Web Services, as well as more traditional companies such as Procter & Gamble, General Motors, Walmart and Dow Chemical, have signed contracts to purchase increasing amounts of wind energy in coming years.
Corporations and other non-utility customers — including some municipalities and universities — accounted for more than half of the wind power capacity sold through so-called power purchase agreements in 2015, according to the AWEA. The group said that corporate and other non-utility buyers have signed contracts for more than 4,500 megawatts of wind power capacity, or enough to power the equivalent of about 1.2 million American homes. Cont'd...
Ian Clover for PV Magazine: A study by EuPD Research shows just 34% of PV installers in the U.S. offer storage solutions to customers, with those reluctant to do so citing cost concerns. However, 26% that currently do not offer storage hope to include it in their portfolios this year.
For all the glitzy product launches by the likes of Tesla and Sonnen, the solar+storage landscape of the U.S. is still largely shaped by what leading installers are – or aren’t – prepared to offer to customers, and a recent survey has found that around two-thirds do not currently include storage technology in their product portfolio.
EuPD Research’s latest PV Installer Survey USA 2015/16 revealed that only one-third of installers already offer energy storage to homeowners or businesses in the U.S. looking to adopt solar power. Of the two-thirds that do not, 38% said that current pricing of batteries impedes demand, meaning margins are too low for installers and the "technological maturity" of the systems on the market is not currently convincing.
However, the mood does appear to be shifting in favor of storage, with 26% of survey participants saying they hope to add storage products to their portfolio at some stage in 2016. Cont'd...
Adam Vaughan for The Guardian: The amount of household solar power capacity installed in the past two months has plummeted by three quarters following the government’s cuts to subsidies, according to new figures.
A fall in solar power was expected following a 65% reduction in government incentives paid to householders, but the size of the drop-off will dismay green campaigners who want take up on clean energy sources to accelerate.
Data published by the energy regulator this week shows there was 21 megawatts (MW) of small solar installed in February and March this year, after a new, lower incentive rate came into effect. By contrast, energy department figures show that for the same period in 2015, 81MW was installed. Cont'd...
From North American WindPower: According to MAKE’s latest wind power outlook for North America, unprecedented long-term policy certainty in the U.S., along with a new climate-conscious government in Canada, will enable nearly 75 GW of total wind power growth in the region from 2016 to 2025.
The production tax credit (PTC) in the U.S. was extended in December 2015 as a multiyear phaseout and will support a total of 44.4 GW of wind power additions from 2016 to 2021. However, as the value of the PTC phases down after 2018, several drivers must align to sustain wind power growth in the U.S. At the sub-regional level, Texas will lead wind power growth from 2016 to 2018, followed by the Plains and the Midwest.
Turbine technology advancement and balance-of-plant cost reductions will continue to drive down the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) of wind power and offset a portion of the lost PTC value from 2019. This will allow wind power to maintain a substantial share of new power generation demand, despite attractive costs for natural gas power and rising competition from solar photovoltaics. Last year, the U.S. alone added nearly 8.6 GW of new wind energy generation. Cont'd...
Emily J. Gertz for TakePart: Filmmaker Shalini Kantayya set out to show that climate change isn’t all gloom and doom. The result, Catching the Sun, ably makes that case but may still leave you inspired and infuriated in equal parts.
This fast-paced and compelling new documentary, which premieres Friday in New York City and in cities nationwide during April, follows a diverse group of job seekers, activists, politicians, and entrepreneurs as they tap into the world’s growing solar powereconomy.
Kantayya jumps between nations that have unequivocally adopted policies to speed up adoption of renewables and more fitful efforts here in the United States to expand solar energy—from a program in Richmond, Virginia, training unemployed men and women to become solar panel installers to a “Green Tea Party” member and energy independence advocate working both sides of the halls of power in Georgia. Cont'd...
Ben Walsh for The Huffington Post: There is a “substantial risk” that SunEdison may file for bankruptcy, the world’s largest renewable energy developer said in a regulatory filing on Tuesday. The company’s fall isn’t a referendum on the solar industry as a whole, as much as it is on SunEdison’s aggressive growth strategy fueled by excessive debt and financial engineering, analysts say.
SunEdison “just thought they were smarter than everyone else,” said David Levine, the founder and CEO of Geostellar, a solar energy marketplace that has done deals with the company.
The company’s shares have fallen steeply since they hit a high of $30 in July. They were at just $1.26 before the filing. The stock immediately dropped another 40 percent when the market opened after the filing, and the company was trading at just $0.59 by Tuesday lunchtime.
“What happened from late-2014 to the middle of 2015, the company began embarking on a hyper-growth strategy,” S&P analyst Angelo Zino told The Huffington Post. Cont'd...
Anna Hirtenstein for Bloomberg Business: If you’re a power plant developer, chances are you’ll be selling renewables in a developing nation in the decades ahead -- even with fossil fuel prices bumping along historic lows.
That’s been the conclusion for some time of the International Energy Agency and independent researchers such as Bloomberg New Energy Finance. A report out Thursday from the United Nations Environment Program using BNEF data gives more statistical backing for the trends.
For the first time in 2015, more investment went into renewables than fossil fuels, and most of the money went to emerging markets. BNEF is hosting a conference in New York starting April 4 to bring together executives and bankers attempting to generate value from the boom.
Perovskite solar cells hold much promise for cost-effective solar energy. However, heat stability is an issue, and can significantly limit the solar cell’s long-term efficiency. A team of scientists led by Michael Grätzel’s lab at EPFL has now developed a cesium-containing perovskite solar cell that has achieved efficiency of 21.1%, as well as record-level reproducibility. The work is published in Energy and Environmental Science.
By adding cesium, the EPFL scientists, led by postdoc Michael Saliba, made the first ever triple-cation perovskite mixture (Cs/MA/FA). The new films are more heat-stable and less affected by fluctuating surrounding variables such as temperature, solvent vapors or the heating protocol used for the device. But more importantly, they also show stabilized power-conversion efficiencies of 21.1% and outputs at 18% under operational conditions, even after 250 hours.
“This is an absolute breakthrough,” says Michael Saliba. “These properties are crucial for commercializing perovskite photovoltaics, especially since reproducibility and stability are the main requirements for cost-effective large-scale manufacturing of perovskite solar cells.” Source AZOCleantech...
Sarah Fecht for Popular Science: Currently a high school senior in California, Lewis-Weber has just published a paper in the journal New Space with what he thinks could be the solution to the upcoming energy crisis: putting self-replicating solar panels in space. These solar panels would to build copies of themselves, autonomously, on the surface of the moon. Then they would enter Earth's orbit, collect the sun's energy, and wirelessly beam it to the ground.
That may sound like a crazy idea, but the notion of space-based solar power actually dates back several decades, to the 1970s oil crisis. It was set aside after oil prices went back down, but since then, two things have happened: One, the world has become a lot more desperate to solve climate change; and two, technological innovations have brought this crazy idea out of the realm of science fiction. The idea is gaining attention, and with some big investments, it's possible that space-based solar power could become a reality within a few decades. Cont'd...
SCOTT WALDMAN for Politico: The federal government has designated an 81,000-acre area off of Long Island for possible commercial offshore wind development.
The move by the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on Wednesday to open the federal waters 11 miles off of New York to major wind development projects will be a significant boost to the Cuomo administration’s aggressive climate policies. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will now conduct an environmental assessment, with a possible sale of leases to follow.
“New York has tremendous offshore wind potential, and today's milestone marks another important step in the President's strategy to tap clean, renewable energy from the Nation’s vast wind and solar resources,” U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said in a statement. “We will continue to work with the State and local stakeholders through a collaborative effort as we determine what places have the highest potential and lowest conflict to harness the enormous wind energy potential off the Atlantic seaboard.” Cont'd...
Jethro Mullen for CNN: Fed up with their hefty electricity bill, managers at Cochin International Airport in southern India took matters into their own hands.
Three years ago, they began adding solar panels -- first on the roof of the arrivals terminal, then on and around an aircraft hangar. The success of those initial efforts led to a much bigger endeavor.
"We wanted to be independent of the electricity utility grid," Jose Thomas, the airport's general manager, told CNNMoney.
Last year, the airport commissioned the German company Bosch to build a vast 45-acre solar plant on unused land near the international cargo terminal.
The plant came online in August, making Cochin the world's first fully solar-powered airport.
The tens of thousands of panels generate on average slightly more than the roughly 48,000-50,000 kilowatts of power that the airport -- the seventh busiest in India -- uses per day, according to Thomas. Surplus energy is fed into the wider electricity grid.
The big project cost around 620 million rupees ($9.3 million), a sum the airport expects to save in less than six years by not having to pay electricity bills anymore. It also estimates the solar plant will avoid more than 300,000 metric tons of carbon emissions from coal power over the next 25 years. Cont'd...
Brad Reed for BGR: We typically think of carbon dioxide as an unhealthy byproduct of our over reliance on fossil fuels. But what if CO2 could be used to help us move away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy sources? GE Global Research has been working with the U.S. Department of Energy to come up with a way to use excess carbon dioxide produced by power plants to store extra solar power and deliver it back to the grid for later use.
There are two major components to this solar power storage system: The first component captures solar energy and keeps it stored in molten salt, while the second component takes surplus electricity from the grid to cool off carbon dioxide to the point where it becomes dry ice. To keep the solar energy stored, the molten salt will then be released into the CO2, which will act as a battery capable of deploying power when needed.
The CO2-molten salt mixture will then flow through a specially designed CO2 turbine that GE says “can generate as much as 100 megawatts of ‘fast electricity’ per installed unit.” The advantage of this system is that these turbines would be able to operate at night when there’s no solar power being directly absorbed. Cont'd...
Adele Peters for Co-Exist: Less than a year after Tesla unveiled its Powerwall battery for storing electricity at home, a startup has designed a much cheaper alternative that you can plug in yourself, without an electrician.
The modular batteries, called Orison, can be hung on the wall or set on the ground to double as an LED lamp. If you want more power, you just add the units together.
"Think of Orison like Legos," says co-founder and CEO Eric Clifton. "The 2.2 kilowatt-hour unit is really just one piece, so you can actually add as many as you need." The 2.2 kilowatt-hour version is as large as the company could make one unit and keep it under 40 pounds, so it could be easily shipped and moved.
With one unit, if your power went out in a storm, you could keep an energy-efficient refrigerator running for about two days. If you want to back up everything in your house, you'd connect a long series of batteries together.
For someone with solar panels on the roof, the batteries can store power to use at night. Right now, most people can sell extra solar power back to the grid when they're not using it, but many state laws are about to change so people will make less money. Batteries can help solar homeowners save money by making use of the power they've generated. Cont'd...
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