U.S., India glimpse a bright future together in solar power

There are few places in the world where the opportunity for solar power is more blindingly obvious than India. There are also few industries where the possibility of collaboration between India and the United States is more tantalizing.

But while India’s solar industry is finally taking off, massive hurdles must be overcome before it can make a meaningful contribution to the country’s rapidly growing power needs, experts and business leaders say.

“India is a very important market for the solar industry, one of the top three markets worldwide,” said Jayesh Goyal of California-based concentrated solar power technology provider Areva Solar. “The general view is that India will reach the 3 percent target before 2022.”

The logic for the Indian solar sector appears almost irrefutable.

Solar-Powered Catamaran completes record-setting circumnavigation

Turanor PlanetSolar, a futuristic-looking 100-foot catamaran, on Friday became the first vessel to have circumnavigated the planet exclusively on power generated by the sun. The voyage, which began and ended in Monaco, lasted 19-plus months and included layovers in 28 countries, which were designed to promote the importance of solar energy.
 

Traveling on an equatorial route to take advantage of abundant sunshine, Turanor PlanetSolar covered more than 37,000 miles and set multiple Guinness World Records. The five-man crew enjoyed stops in such destinations as Tangier, Miami, Cancun, the Galapagos Islands, French Polynesia, Brisbane, Hong Kong, Singapore, Bombay, Abu Dhabi and Doha.
 

New Study Shows US Solar Energy Could Employ Hundreds of Thousands of Americans by 2020

A new independent research report released today by the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, found that solar energy is following the same path to commercialization as other traditional energy sources spurred by federal incentives. The study, titled "Assessment of Incentives and Employment Impacts of Solar Industry Deployment," also estimates that the U.S. solar industry could employ hundreds of thousands of Americans by the end of the decade.

Like oil, coal, natural gas, nuclear, and all other traditional energy sources, the Baker Center finds, solar has received support from the federal government to promote its usage in order to drive our economy. In fact, according to the report, diffusion of solar energy technology in the energy markets is very similar to the paths that many American industries have traveled to become mainstream. Unlike more mature technologies, however, that continue to receive subsidies, solar energy is currently in a very early phase of its growth trajectory.

SolarCity to file for an IPO

Despite the series of withdrawals of greentech IPOs this month, solar rooftop installer SolarCity announced on Monday that it is planning for an IPO. The company says it filed its IPO registration on April 26, and is waiting for the documents to be reviewed and approved by the SEC.

A SolarCity IPO has been an open secret for the past few months and a report in Bloomberg in February said that an IPO could value SolarCity at more than $1.5 billion. Back in February SolarCity also raised $85 million from investors like Silver Lake Kraftwerk to expand its rapidly growing solar rooftop empire. Overall, SolarCity has raised just over $200 million in venture capital, company spokesman Jonathan Bass told us back in February.

Donald Trump to Scotland: Abandon 'monstrous' wind farm plans

Donald Trump swept into Scotland's parliament on Wednesday to demand the country end plans for an offshore wind farm he fears will spoil the view at his exclusive new $1.2-billion golf resort.

In a typically blunt display, the property tycoon told an inquiry into renewable energy to stop the wind power efforts in the country's north.

"Scotland, if you pursue this policy of these monstrous turbines, Scotland will go broke," he said. "They are ugly, they are noisy and they are dangerous. If Scotland does this, Scotland will be in serious trouble and will lose tourism to places like Ireland, and they are laughing at us."

When challenged to produce hard evidence about his claims on the negative impact of turbines, Trump said: "I am the evidence, I am a world-class expert in tourism."

The public gallery burst into laughter.

World's first canal-based solar power project in Gujarat

This project has been developed by Gujarat State Electricity Corporation Limited (GSECL), with full support from Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL) which is the nodal agency behind construction of the Naramda canal that brought agricultural prosperity to the State. The engineering, procurement and construction contract for the project has been awarded to Sun Edison, a subsidiary of US-based global solar energy player, MEMC. The 750 metre stretch of the canal will generate 1.6 million units of clean electricity per year, as well as prevent evaporation of 900,000 litres of water per year from the canal.
Today, Gujarat has about 458 kilometres of open main canal, while the total canal length including sub-branches is about 19,000 kilometres; the final aim of SSNNL is to construct a total of 85,000 kilometres of canal network. Assuming a utilization of only 10% of the existing canal network of 19,000 kilometres, it is estimated that 2,200 megawatts of solar power generating capacity can be installed. This implies that 11,000 acres of land which would otherwise be needed to site solar panels as well as 20 billion litres of water per year can be potentially conserved.

Ontario Leads Canada's Record-Setting Wind Power Expansion

The outlook for US wind power growth is cloudy and negative with the wind production tax credit (PTC) due to expire at year-end. The wind power forecast for 2012 is decidedly better north of the US border, in Canada, however. Canada’s wind power market should experience another year of record-setting growth in 2012, with the addition of some 1,500 MW of additional capacity, according to a Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) study released at the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) annual conference in Copenhagen.

Canada’s wind energy industry enjoyed a record year in 2011, installing around 1,267 MW of new capacity, an investment of $3.1 billion that created some 13,000 person-years of employment. That ranks 6th globally with a total wind energy capacity of 5,403 MW, enough to power more than 1.2 million homes, according to CanWEA and the GWEC’s 2011 annual industry reports.

Rainmakers: How GE Engineers Squeeze Savings from the Digital Cloud

Data centers guzzle down 2% of the electric grid’s capacity and run up $2 billion worth of monthly utility bills. Furthermore, it’s estimated that by 2020, CO2 emissions from data centers will top the emissions by the airline industry.  How do we get the cloud under control?

One solution might be improving the efficiency in how data centers draw electricity in from the grid.  A recent post from GE Reports takes a look at how 99% of this electricity could be pulled in more efficiently by bypassing ‘filters’ when they’re not absolutely necessary.

If all data centers (‘the cloud’) did this, we’d be able to save 4,000 megawatts of electricity worth more than $3 billion per year.

U.S. wind industry adds 6,800 MW in 2011

The U.S. wind industry installed 6,816 megawatts (MW) in 2011, 31 percent higher than 2010, for a total
of 46,916 MW installed to date, the industry's trade group said in a release Thursday.
    Setting the stage for a strong 2012, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) also said there were more than 8,300 MW of wind power under construction across the United States.
    The nation has about one million megawatts of generating capacity with about 400,000 MW coming from natural gas burning plants, 300,000 MW from coal, 100,000 MW from nuclear, 80,000 MW from hydropower, 50,000 MW from oil and the rest mostly from wind and other renewables.
    One megawatt powers about 1,000 homes.
    Wind and natural gas are the two largest sources of new generating capacity in the United States. Wind has provided about 35 percent of new U.S. power capacity over the past five years, AWEA said.
 

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TROJAN BATTERY LAUNCHES VIDEO TUTORIAL SERIES TO EXPAND UNDERSTANDING OF DEEP-CYCLE BATTERY TECHNOLOGIES, MAINTENANCE AND SAFETY

Trojan Battery Company launched "Trojan Tips," its video tutorial series created to provide in-depth information
focusing on a variety of battery topics such as deep-cycle battery technologies, maintenance practices, charging procedures and safety when handling batteries. "Trojan Tips" is designed to expand awareness of deep-cycle battery technology.

A new "Trojan Tips" video tutorial will premiere each month throughout 2012 on the Trojan Battery corporate Web site. The first "Trojan Tips" video, which debuts today, reviews the various battery technologies available on the market today, and what to consider when selecting a battery for a particular application.

Click here for the first "Trojan Tips" video tutorial.

Cogenra Solar and Kendall-Jackson Winery Unveil Nation's Largest Rooftop Solar Cogeneration Array

Cogenra Solar, a provider of distributed solar cogeneration systems, today announced the nation's largest rooftop solar cogeneration system to date at Kendall-Jackson's Kittyhawk winery in Windsor, California. Expanding on Kendall-Jackson's existing energy and water conservation projects, the 96-module, 241kW hybrid solar photovoltaic (PV) and thermal array is expected to save approximately $30,000 in annual energy costs.

"Our founder Jess Jackson was a trailblazer who made sustainability a core part of Kendall- Jackson's DNA largely through innovation"

U.S. Congressman Mike Thompson and local business leaders convened today at Kendall-Jackson's Wine Center to celebrate the company's commitment to sustainability and unveil the solar cogeneration system, now supplying solar hot water and electricity to power the winery's extensive tank and bottle washing operations.
 

Click here for Full Press Release:

The long, long (long) road for algae fuel

Earlier this week algae fuel startup Sapphire Energy announced that it’s in the process of raising a whopping $144 million from private investors, which will be used to build out its first commercial demonstration algae farm in New Mexico. That farm could be able to produce 1.5 million gallons of Sapphire’s green crude per year by 2014, says Sapphire’s VP of Corporate Affairs, Tim Zenk.

That might sound impressive, but it’s a far cry from the company’s previous projections. Back in 2009, Sapphire was hoping its algae farm would be able to produce 1 million gallons of green crude per year by 2011, followed by 100 million gallons per year by 2018, and 1 billion gallons per year by 2025. When Sapphire made those projections, the sheer volume was so much more than any of their competitors were putting out there, that I asked if Sapphire was going to be “the gorilla of algae fuel?“

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RENEWABLE ENERGY EXPERIENCES EXPLOSIVE GROWTH DURING FIRST THREE YEARS OF OBAMA ADMINISTRATION

According to the most recent issue of the "Monthly Energy Review" by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), with data through December 31, 2011, renewable energy sources expanded rapidly during the first three years of the Obama Administration while substantially outpacing the growth rates of fossil fuels and nuclear power.

Between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2011, renewable energy sources (i.e., biofuels, biomass, geothermal, solar, water, wind) grew by 27.12%. By comparison, during the same three-year period, total domestic energy production increased by just 6.72% with natural gas and crude oil production growing by 13.66% and 14.27% respectively. Moreover, during the same period, nuclear power declined by 1.99% and coal dropped by 7.16%.

Full Press Release:
 

Floating Windmills in Japan Help Wind Down Nuclear Power: Energy

Japan is preparing to bolt turbines onto barges and build the world’s largest commercial power plant using floating windmills, tackling the engineering challenges of an unproven technology to cut its reliance on atomic energy.

Marubeni Corp. (8002), Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. (7011) and Nippon Steel Corp. (5401) are among developers erecting a 16-megawatt pilot plant off the coast of Fukushima, site of the nuclear accident that pushed the government to pursue cleaner energy. The project may be expanded to 1,000 megawatts, the trade ministry said, bigger than any wind farm fixed to the seabed or on land.

“Japan is surrounded by deep oceans, and this poses challenges to offshore wind turbines that are attached to the bottom of the sea,” Senior Vice Environment Minister Katsuhiko Yokomitsu said at a meeting in Tokyo this month. “We are eager for floating offshore wind to become a viable technology.”

Full Article:

NRG Energy, Inc. to Build Unprecedented Electric Vehicle Fast-Charging Infrastructure in California

The California Public Utilities Commission and NRG Energy (NYSE: NRG) have entered into an agreement where NRG will build a comprehensive electric vehicle (EV) charging network in California, investing approximately $100 million over the next four years.

"And we will be helping the State meet its clean car goals as embodied by its Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) mandate."

This fee-based charging network will consist of at least 200 publicly available fast-charging stations—installed in the San Francisco Bay area, the San Joaquin Valley, the Los Angeles Basin and San Diego County—which can add 50 miles of range in less than 15 minutes of charging. Additionally, NRG's EV infrastructure commitment will include the wiring for at least 10,000 individual charging stations located at homes, offices, multifamily communities, schools and hospitals located across the State.

Full Release:
 

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