Google to invest in grid for offshore wind

Google Inc. has thrown its financial clout behind a proposed 350-mile underwater electric cable off the U.S. East Coast that could form the backbone of a grid carrying power from future offshore wind turbines.  Japan's Marubeni Corp and New York investment firm Good Energies are joining in financing the project, which will be led by transmission-line developer Trans-Elect. The cable will help developers of offshore wind projects to surmount a major cost challenge -- connecting their turbines back to the grid in a way that allows them to sell to multiple customers. Google announced the move, which it called an investment in "a superhighway for clean energy" on its corporate blog.  Google, an often-quirky company, said in late 2007 that it would begin to invest in companies and fund research into producing affordable renewable energy. It has also invested in onshore wind and solar energy. The Internet search giant did not disclose the anticipated cost of the cable, which would run from Virginia to New Jersey, but The New York Times reported it as about $5 billion. Source: MSNBC

LG ELECTRONICS ENTERS SOLAR BUSINESS IN NORTH AMERICA

LG Electronics Inc. announced the company’s entry into the North American commercial solar industry at the largest business-to-business solar conference in the western hemisphere, Solar Power International 2010 (booth 1143). The U.S. solar debut builds on LG’s global expertise in marketing solar panels for residential, rooftop and commercial applications while capitalizing on LG’s strong presence in the North American consumer and business-to-business marketplace, according to industry veteran Geoff Slevin, vice president, Solar Division, LG Electronics North America. Launching LG solar panels in the United States also represents a major milestone in the company’s plans to expand its global solar business to $2.4 billion by 2015. LG is investing $820 million over the next five years in its solar cell research and manufacturing to increase production capacity to more than one gigawatt. “The U.S. is one of the fastest growing solar markets in the world and is expected to grow significantly over the next several years, in part due to federal and state incentives,” said Slevin, who joined LG this year from Carlisle Energy Services and BP Solar. “LG’s commitment to solar in the U.S. comes at just the right time to meet market demand for solar power with high-quality, sustainable and innovative products that consumers and businesses alike have come to expect from a global technology leader.”

For Third Consecutive Year, National Poll Shows More Than 9 out of 10 Americans Want Solar Now

A new national poll shows that the vast majority of Americans overwhelmingly support development and funding of solar energy, and their support for solar has remained consistent over the last three years. These and other findings were reported today in the 2010 SCHOTT Solar Barometer(TM), a nationally representative survey conducted by independent polling firm Kelton Research. The survey found that 94 percent of Americans think it is important for the U.S. to develop and use solar energy. This strong support for solar remains unchanged since Americans were asked the same questions in the August 2009 SCHOTT Solar Barometer (92 percent) and June 2008 SCHOTT Solar Barometer (94 percent). (The difference is within the margin of error for these polls.) This support for solar power is consistent across political party affiliation with 92 percent of Republicans, 98 percent of Democrats and 94 percent of Independents agreeing that it is important for the U.S. to develop and use solar power. Furthermore, four out of five (80 percent of) Americans feel that Congress should reallocate federal subsidies away from fossil fuels towards renewable energy industries. Broken down by party affiliation, 86% of Democrats, 69% of Republicans and 81% of Independents feel this way. Americans understand the urgency of growing the solar industry themselves; nearly half (49 percent) of Americans currently considering solar power options for their home or business plan to make a decision in less than one year.

5 Hot Topics To Watch For At Solar Power International

The solar industry will take over the Los Angeles Convention Center this week to showcase the latest technologies and discuss regulatory and project development and financing trends. Organizers of Solar Power International (SPI) expect to see roughly 25,000 attendees over three days. Here are five hot topics that you will no doubt hear about throughout the show:

1). Can’t Escape Politics
2). U.S. Market Now and Later
3). Emergence of CPV
4). Going Beyond Solar Electric
5). Energy Boosters and Sleeker System Designs

Read the full article here.

Belkin Conserve Gateway Connects to Smart Meter to Provide Energy Usage Insight in the Home

Belkin today announced its Conserve Gateway, a router system that pairs with your smart meter to provide real-time insight about home energy use. Conserve Gateway delivers this information via a simple web interface.  The interface allows people to easily track and reduce energy use in their homes and learn conservation tips. Further, it offers utility companies the ability to push information to Conserve Gateway with advice or calls to action, such as: “By using your dryer more efficiently, you can save up to $76 per year.”  Its protocol was informed by extensive ethnographic research that proved most people don’t know what a kilowatt-hour (kWh) is and have even less of an idea about where power comes from.  Both Google with the Google PowerMeter and Microsoft with Microsoft  Hohm also offer real-time wireless internet energy monitoring services. Source: Belkins

For Those Near, the Miserable Hum of Clean Energy

VINALHAVEN, Maine — Like nearly all of the residents on this island in Penobscot Bay, Art Lindgren and his wife, Cheryl, celebrated the arrival of three giant wind turbines late last year. That was before they were turned on. “In the first 10 minutes, our jaws dropped to the ground,” Mr. Lindgren said. “Nobody in the area could believe it. They were so loud.” Now, the Lindgrens, along with a dozen or so neighbors living less than a mile from the $15 million wind facility here, say the industrial whoosh-and-whoop of the 123-foot blades is making life in this otherwise tranquil corner of the island unbearable. They are among a small but growing number of families and homeowners across the country who say they have learned the hard way that wind power — a clean alternative to electricity from fossil fuels — is not without emissions of its own. Lawsuits and complaints about turbine noise, vibrations and subsequent lost property value have cropped up in Illinois, Texas, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Massachusetts, among other states. In one case in DeKalb County, Ill., at least 38 families have sued to have 100 turbines removed from a wind farm there. A judge rejected a motion to dismiss the case in June. Source: New York Times

Here comes the sun: White House to go solar

Solar power is coming to President Barack Obama's house. The most famous residence in America, which has already boosted its green credentials by planting a garden, plans to install solar panels atop the White House's living quarters. The solar panels are to be installed by spring 2011, and will heat water for the first family and supply some electricity. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the plans Tuesday in Washington at a conference of local, state, academic and nonprofit leaders aimed at identifying how the federal government can improve its environmental performance. Former Presidents Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush both tapped the sun during their days in the White House. Carter in the late 1970s spent $30,000 on a solar water-heating system for West Wing offices. Bush's solar systems powered a maintenance building and some of the mansion, and heated water for the pool. Obama, who has championed renewable energy, has been under increasing pressure to lead by example by installing solar at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, something White House officials said has been under consideration since he first took office. The decision perhaps has more import now after legislation to reduce global warming pollution died in the Senate, despite the White House's support. Obama has vowed to try again on a smaller scale. Source: MSNBC

RENEWABLE SOURCES NOW PROVIDE 11.14% OF U.S. ENERGY PRODUCTION

According to the most recent issue of the "Monthly Energy Review" by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), renewable energy sources (i.e., biofuels, biomass, geothermal, hydroelectric, solar, wind) provided 11.14% of domestic U.S. energy production during the first six months of 2010 – the latest time-frame for which data has been published.  This continues the steady growth trend for renewable energy. Renewables accounted for 10.71% of domestic energy production during the first six months of 2009 and 10.35% during the first six months of 2008.   Renewable energy sources provided 4.106 quadrillion Btus between January 1, 2010 and June 30, 2010 - an increase of 4.91% over the first half of 2009 and an increase of 8.37% over the first half of 2008. The largest single renewable energy source was biomass (including biofuels) which accounted for 50.66% of renewable energy production, followed by hydropower at 32.56%. Wind, geothermal, and solar sources provided 10.91%, 4.53%, and 1.32% of the total renewable energy output respectively. Moreover, renewable energy’s contribution to the nation’s domestic energy production is now almost equal to that provided by nuclear power. Nuclear power accounted for 11.19% of domestic energy production during the first half of 2010 - compared to 11.14% from renewables. But while renewable sources continue to expand, nuclear output in 2010 dropped - declining by 1.3% from its comparable 2009 level.

Kia premieres its unique electric concept car

Spotlighting Kia's increasing focus on striking design and new technologies, the chrome-colored, three-metre-long three-seater POP with its electric drivetrain, oblong-shaped side windows and front-hinged doors took centre stage on Kia's Paris Show stand. Unconventional features of POP – the striking side-window design, the high-tech feel of the dot-pattern head and taillights, back-lit front grille, rear-view cameras in each door, full-length glass roof, and the simplistic look of the wheels – all point to inspiration from outside the usual automotive spheres, such as gliders and high-speed bicycles. POP is also in fact a fully-electric, zero-emissions car with a 60 ps, 190 Nm motor. It's powered by highly efficient, compact lithium polymer gel batteries and is fully rechargeable in just six hours. Top speed is 140 kph, with a maximum range of 160 km on a single charge. The POP concept was designed by Kia's European design team under the direction of Peter Schreyer, Kia's Chief Design Officer, and Gregory Guillaume, Kia Europe's Chief Designer. Source: Kia

Adobe draws power from a Pennsylvania landfill

The company has had 12 fuel cell systems installed that will turn air and methane into a third of the electricity supply for Adobe’s campus in downtown San Jose. The 1.2-megawatt project is the largest installation to date for Bloom Energy Corporation, the fuel cell specialists based in Sunnyvale, California. The 12 Bloom Energy Servers, which are also known as Bloom boxes, have been installed on the fifth floor of Adobe’s West Tower building. Each 100-kilowatt server is the size of an average parking space, containing thousands of fuel cells that generate electricity from methane and air. Typically, one server generates enough power to supply 100 average homes with electricity, Adobe said. Randall H Knox III, senior director of Global Workplace Solutions at Adobe, said the methane gas is being sourced from out of state from a landfill in Pennsylvania. Methane is produced when organic materials in landfills break down. Adobe pays for the gas to be put into the pipeline, offsetting the methane used in California. “Installing Bloom Energy fuel cells supports Adobe’s efforts to remain at the forefront of utilizing impactful, clean technologies to reduce our environmental footprint,” said Mr Knox. “We hope to be an example to other companies considering cleaner, more affordable energy sources for their operations.” Source: BrightEnergy.org

Google Invests In Human Monorail

Google's Project 10^100, the search engine giant announced on Friday that it's given $1 million to Shweeb, which makes a transportation system based on pedal-powered pods that zoom around a monorail track about 20 feet above the ground. If that sounds like a crazy but kinda cool concept, that's because it is. The original prototype was built as a ride in an amusement park in New Zealand, where pod pedalers race each other on a side-by-side track for a fee of $35. Google is funding the company to help it test the system as public transportation in an urban setting. Shweeb hasn't announced the location of the planned first transit system (please make it in the Bay Area), but says on its website it will disclose the location shortly. Here's some characteristics of the Shweeb that likely attracted Google: It requires practically no energy other than human pedaling so it's a fossil-fuel-free transportation, and it's really efficient, requiring "less energy to cover a given distance than any other vehicle on earth," according to the company. The pedaled pods are also based on recumbent bikes (the bikes where you sit back and relax), which I could imagine Google's young outdoor enthusiast types identified with... Source - Gigaom

Whopper of a wind farm opens off Britain

LONDON — The world's largest offshore wind farm had its grand opening Thursday — and its location on the estuary of the Thames River makes it a showcase for Britain's push to move beyond fossil fuels. So far, 100 wind turbines have been planted in waters up to 80 feet deep across the estuary in southern England. The idea is to produce enough electricity, 300 megawatts, to power the equivalent of 200,000 homes. Each turbine is nearly as tall as a 40-story building and the blades are at least 65 feet above the water for clearance with vessels. No turbine is closer than 1,600 feet to another and the entire "farm" covers an area of 22 square miles. Up to 341 turbines will be installed over the next four years. With Thursday's opening, which tops a 91-turbine farm off Denmark, Britain now has more offshore wind capacity than the rest of the world combined. in now gets three percent of its electricity from renewables but aims to get 15 percent by 2020. As part of that, the government this year awarded licenses to wind farm developers in a program that could deliver up to 32 gigawatts of generation capacity and require investment of more than $117 billion. MSNBC

Eight hurdles on the track to a green energy future

The green energy future envisions a technological road that leads to an infinite supply of power, independence from potentially hostile nations and an atmosphere cleared of the excess heat-trapping gases that are blamed for warming the planet. The track to this future, however, is full of technological and policy hurdles.

  1.  Clean up the existing supply with a price on carbon
  2. Store wind and solar energy for later use
  3. Limit impact of transmission lines
  4. Drive down costs of electric cars
  5. Build a portfolio of transportation options
  6. Mine the earth for rare minerals
  7. Grow energy crops; save the food
  8. Bury hang-ups on nuclear waste

Read full article at MSNBC

Boeing wins Pentagon contract to build a solar-powered drone that can stay aloft for five years

With four scrawny fuselages and wings stretching more than the length of a football field, Boeing Co.’s solar-powered drone looks a bit like a flying antenna. But the government is hoping that the aircraft, dubbed the SolarEagle, will one day be capable of flying for five straight years at 60,000 feet. Last week, Boeing announced it had won an $89-million contract with the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to develop a prototype of the SolarEagle that can demonstrate it can stay aloft for 30 days by 2014. Eventually, Chicago-based Boeing sees the SolarEagle hovering at stratospheric altitudes for at least five years. "That's a daunting task, but Boeing has a highly reliable solar-electric design that will meet the challenge,” Pat O'Neil, the plane’s program manager, said in a statement. The SolarEagle will draw on solar energy through panels affixed to the wings. The power will be stored in fuel cells and used through the night. The plane will also feature electric motors and propellers. Much of the design work is being done by Boeing engineers at its Phantom Works facility in Huntington Beach. Boeing expects the plane to be ultimately used as a spy and communication aircraft. Source - LATimes Blog

Spray-on solar panels tested at University of South Florida

New technology was unveiled last week that allows ordinary everyday surfaces like windows to be converted into solar panels by spraying on a special coating. Maryland-based technology developers New Energy Technologies, Inc., said their spray-on solar panels could even generate power from artificial light on glass surfaces inside commercial buildings. The company showcased a small-scale working prototype of its "SolarWindow" system at a public demonstration on Thursday at the University of South Florida, in Tampa. Less than a tenth the thickness of solar thin-films, SolarWindow makes use of some of the world's smallest functional solar cells, as developed by University of South Florida physicist Xiaomei Jiang. Researchers are currently working toward lower production costs and increased power performance, along with methods for applying power-producing coatings to glass surfaces. John A. Conklin, the firm's President and CEO said: "Today's public demonstration is a pivotal milestone not only for the dedicated research team, but for our external stakeholders as well, including our investors who are keenly aware of how the development of the highly-anticipated SolarWindow technology has the potential to create a fundamental paradigm shift in the way we produce power worldwide." Source - BrighterEnergy.org

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