Catch wave power in floating nets

Zhong Lin Wang for Nature:  Nature provides three sources of energy for free: sunlight, air and gravity. Solar and wind power are increasingly exploited, gravity less so. Hydraulic power plants harvest energy from flowing rivers. Tidal energy can be gathered along some inlets and coasts. But few places are suitable for dams or barrages, which can also damage the environment. By contrast, oceans cover about 70% of Earth’s surface. Wave energy is plentiful day and night, whatever the weather. Capturing it requires little land and raises few safety or security concerns. Yet hardly any of this ‘blue energy’ is being generated. Today’s wave farms produce no more than 1–10 megawatts at any one time, enough to power a town. No commercial wave farms currently exist.   Full article:  

Stanford engineers create a low-cost battery for storing renewable energy

Jackie Flynn for Stanford News:  A battery made with urea, commonly found in fertilizers and mammal urine, could provide a low-cost way of storing energy produced through solar power or other forms of renewable energy for consumption during off hours. Developed by Stanford chemistry Professor Hongjie Dai and doctoral candidate Michael Angell, the battery is nonflammable and contains electrodes made from abundant aluminum and graphite. Its electrolyte’s main ingredient, urea, is already industrially produced by the ton for plant fertilizers. “So essentially, what you have is a battery made with some of the cheapest and most abundant materials you can find on Earth. And it actually has good performance,” said Dai. “Who would have thought you could take graphite, aluminum, urea, and actually make a battery that can cycle for a pretty long time?”   Cont'd...

First Wattway solar road pilot in US pops up in rural Georgia

Lacy Cooke for Inhabitat:  The first Wattway solar road pilot in America has popped up in rural west Georgia. The Ray C. Anderson Foundation, named for sustainable manufacturing pioneer Ray Anderson, is testing renewable technologies along an 18-mile stretch of road, and recently installed 538 square feet of Colas‘ Wattway solar road system near the border between Georgia and Alabama. Part of Georgia’s Interstate 85 was named for Anderson, but as over five million tons of carbon dioxideare emitted yearly on that road portion alone, Anderson’s family felt placing his name there didn’t honor his legacy, and began to look into renewable technologies to clear the air – so to speak. Thus began The Ray, an 18-mile living laboratory for clean technologies, including not only the solar roads, but also a solar-powered electric vehicle charging station, and WheelRight, a system people can drive over to test their tire pressure, which could lead to improved fuel inefficiency.   Cont'd...

Record-breaking solar panels could slash power costs

Reuters Jim Drury:  Swiss start-up Insolight says its solar panels double the yield achieved by other sun-powered technology. In independent tests the panels reached an efficiency of 36.4 percent. "Traditionally the market sits at around 18 percent and we can double this. Therefore we can double the return on investment for the final client....Our key innovation is that you do not need to rotate the panel in order to follow the sun. We can follow the sun in a flat manner, like any other solar panel, which makes it that our panel can be installed on standard rooftops, with standard mounting technology." Tiny square super cells capture all of the sun's rays, underneath round lenses, using a patented microtracking system.   Watch Video.

China is now the largest producer of solar power in the world

Lacy Cooke  for Inhabitat:  One way China is working to battle climate change-causing carbon emissions is by developing a vast army of renewable energy projects. Even as the country struggles with pollution, it has made great strides on clean energy. They’re now the largest producer of solar energy by capacity in the world, adding 34.54 gigawatts of the country’s installed capacity of 77.42 gigawatts last year alone. The country’s National Energy Administration (NEA) announced over the weekend that in 2016, installed photovoltaic capacity in China more than doubled. Their data revealed the jump to 77.42 gigawatts after the country added 34.54 gigawatts. The provinces in which capacity increased most include Shandong, Henan, and Xinjiang, which is also one of the provinces with the largest overall capacity. Gansu, Inner Mongolia, and Qinghai join Xinjiang in that latter category.   Cont'd...  

Tidal Power Can Make the U.K. a Green Energy Leader

Mark Gilbert for Bloomberg:  The U.K. government is mulling whether to support a 1.3 billion pound  ($1.6 billion) proposal to build a tidal lagoon in South Wales. It should stop dithering and subsidize the project to help meet the country's green energy goals, produce cheaper power, and establish Britain as the world leader in technology that harnesses the power of the tides to generate electricity. The U.K. lost its energy independence in 2004, and now depends upon imports to meet about half of its energy needs. And while the contribution from renewable energy sources has climbed to a bit less than 10 percent from about 1 percent at the start of the last decade, the U.K. commitment to reduce carbon emissions to 57 percent of their 1990 levels by 2030 means even less electricity needs to come from coal-fired power plants.   Cont'd...

Battling corrosion to keep solar panels humming

Sue Holmes for Phys.org:  People think of corrosion as rust on cars or oxidation that blackens silver, but it also harms critical electronics and connections in solar panels, lowering the amount of electricity produced. "It's challenging to predict and even more challenging to design ways to reduce it because it's highly dependent on material and environmental conditions," said Eric Schindelholz, a Sandia National Laboratories materials reliability researcher who studies corrosion and how it affects photovoltaic (PV) system performance. Sandia researchers from different departments collaborate to accelerate corrosion under controlled conditions and use what they learn to help industry develop longer-lasting PV panels and increase reliability. For example, work by Olga Lavrova of Sandia's Photovoltaic and Distributed Systems Integration department demonstrated, for the first time, a link between corrosion and the risk of arc faults in PV systems' electrical connections. Research by Erik Spoerke of Sandia's Electronic, Optical and Nano Materials department focuses on developing new nanocomposite films that could dramatically increase reliability.   Cont'd...

Saudi Arabia Plans the World's Cheapest Power With Solar and Wind

Wael Mahdi for Bloomberg:  Saudi Arabia will award its first tender to build 700 megawatts of solar and wind energy in September, with the cost of power forecast to be the lowest in the world, Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said. OPEC’s biggest oil producer plans to build 300 megawatts of solar plants in the al-Jouf area in northern Saudi Arabia and 400 megawatts of wind projects in nearby Tabuk, he said. Requests to qualify for bidding will be issued Feb. 20 and bids will be on April 17. “The terms on renewable contracts will be motivating so that the cost of generating power from these renewable sources will be the lowest in the world,” Al-Falih said Wednesday at a press conference in Riyadh.   Cont'd...

Massive wind turbine takes energy generation record

John Anderson for NewAtlas:  A behemoth V164 offshore wind turbine from Danish company MHI Vestas Offshore Wind has produced almost 216,000 kWh over a 24-hour period during tests at its site near Østerild, Denmark in December. In doing so, the 9 MW prototype – a reworked version of the V164-8.0 MW, which was initially developed in 2012 and launched two years later – takes the energy generation record for a commercially available offshore wind turbine. Since its launch in 2014, the Usain Bolt of wind turbines is essentially in competition with itself, largely due to its superior size over the competition. The V164 stands at 722 feet (220 m) at full height, with 38-ton blades that are 263 feet (80 m) in length for a total sweep area of 227,377 square feet (21,124 square meters) – larger than the giant London Eye Ferris wheel.   Cont'd...

America is torn apart by partisan politics-except when it comes to buying solar power

Michael J. Coren for Quartz:  We are all one when it comes to getting cheap power from the sun. Amidst the political rancor roiling the United States, one bright spot is home solar power installation. It keeps going up, and a study by PowerScout, a company that helps people switch to renewable energy, finds that to be true for households on both sides of the political divide. PowerScout used machine-learning algorithms and satellite imagery to detect rooftop solar panels on the homes of 1.5 million political donors in 20 states. In mature solar markets like California and Hawaii, Republicans and Democrats install solar at nearly equal rates, says Eric Roberts of PowerScout. In more nascent markets, Democrats have slightly higher installation rates than Republicans. These findings hold throughout the country.   Cont'd...

EnergySage Releases Findings of 2016 Solar Installer Survey

EnergySage released today the results of its second annual Solar Installer Survey, the largest and most comprehensive business climate survey of solar companies nationwide. The report captures key observations of local, regional and national solar installers in both residential and commercial markets. More than 360 experienced solar installers across the United States responded to the survey, which was fielded and authored by EnergySage in partnership with pv magazine.  Among the central findings, over half of solar companies surveyed (53%) report that their largest obstacle in closing sales is the confusion created by their competitors and its impact on consumer confidence overall. Similarly, the survey reflects an increasing trend noted in last year's report: customer acquisition has become more challenging due to increased competition and consumers reviewing more quotes before buying. However, the study also reveals that installer confidence levels have increased nationwide in the last year.   Full Press Release:

New Interactive Atlas Puts Spotlight on Planet's Solar Power Potential

Peter Koekoek for Daily Planet:  A new web-based tool provides free access to accurate data about the solar power potential of your location – or any other part of the world. Recent research has revealed how Americans across the political aisle are united by renewable energy. Roughly the same amount of people with rooftop solar power installations are Republicans and Democrats. But geographically, not all places on the planet equally suitable for solar power – and that does not only include the amount of solar radiation that reaches the surface. The air temperature and terrain elevation may also impact how well solar equipment will fare in a particular area. In some regions, less solar panels are needed to generate the same amount of power compared to other areas. The Global Solar Atlas  now provides you with a colourful world map that allows zooming in on areas of up to one kilometre.   Cont'd...

Mercom: Project funding for energy storage totalled US$820 million in 2016

Andy Colthorpe for Energy Storage News:  Project funding for energy storage jumped to US$820 million in 2016 from just US$30 million in 2015, while Sonnen was revealed as the energy storage company to raise the most VC funding this year. The latest quarterly report from Mercom Capital on financial activity in battery storage, smart grid and energy efficiency wraps up the results for the entirety of 2016. It found that during the year, energy storage companies raised US$820 million in project funding across seven deals, compared to US$30 million across three deals in 2015. The majority of this project funding, US$625 million, was raised in the third quarter of the year and included Tabuchi America netting US$300 million for residential work and Advanced Microgrid Solutions with US$200 million of project financing from Macquarie Capital.   Cont'd...

Why more and more countries are taking an interest in geothermal energy

Bianca Nogrady for VOX:  At 2:46 pm local time on Friday, March 11, 2011, Japan was rocked by the largest earthquake ever to strike its shores. The 9.1-magnitude quake triggered a devastating tsunami that killed more than 15,000 people. It also took out the backup emergency generators that cooled the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant complex, causing a series of catastrophic meltdowns. But amid the chaos, the Yanaizu-Nishiyama geothermal power plant in Fukushima prefecture didn't miss a beat. Along with two more of the nine geothermal power plants in the region, the 65-megawatt facility continued to generate power, even as many other power plants around them failed because of damaged equipment and transmission lines."This is big news for many geothermal people around the world," says Kasumi Yasukawa, principal research manager at the Institute for Geo-Resources and Environment in Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology. In a country as seismically active as Japan, it was a clear signal that geothermal energy was worth investing in.   Cont'd...

Making the switch: should the oil industry be moving into offshore wind?

Offshore Technology:  The oil & gas and renewables industries are often described as a dichotomy, the old way versus the new, the dirty versus the clean. In reality, from a technical and engineering standpoint, there are many areas of overlap, particularly in countries such as the UK, where a majority of renewable and non-renewable assets are located offshore. Building an oil rig in the North Sea is not all that different to setting up a wind farm. Both jobs require the ability to negotiate choppy waters and bad weather (often using remotely operated vehicles), and the technology to drill or pile foundations into the seabed. Communications and cabling infrastructure present a big challenge in both instances, as do the logistics of transporting and arranging huge components such as derricks and blades.   Cont'd...

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