Megan Barber for Curbed: Based off the concept of how a sunflower follows the sun, the Smartflower is a portable, adjustable petal system that tracks the sun's path throughout the day. When the sun rises in the morning, the Smartflower automatically unfolds and begins producing energy by setting its petals at a ninety-degree angle. The flower goes "back to sleep" into a folding position at night or whenever high winds make it unsafe to operate.
Emil Venere for Phys.org: Researchers have shown how to modify commercially available silicon wafers into a structure that efficiently absorbs solar energy and withstands the high temperatures needed for "concentrated solar power" plants that might run up to 24 hours a day.
David Nield for Science Alert: Construction will soon be underway on a gigantic solar farm in South Australia that's set to be the biggest of its kind in the world - thanks to 3.4 million solar panels and 1.1 million individual batteries. The project is expected to be completed by the end of the year, at which point the huge plant should outdo all other solar farms in terms of overall battery capacity - although other solar facilities are larger in terms of land area.
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.
Gregory Brew for OilPrice.com: 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.
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.
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.
Jess Shankleman for Bloomberg: Big oil is starting to challenge the biggest utilities in the race to erect wind turbines at sea.
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.
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.
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...
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...
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:
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...
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...
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