Inventor of Photosynthesis-Based Solar Cells Wins Millennium Tech Prize

Professor Michael Gratzel The inventor of a low-cost solar cell that could be used to build electricity generating windows has been awarded this year's Millennium Technology Prize. He received the 800,000 prize at a ceremony in Helsinki. Explaining his inspiration, he said: "I was always intrigued by the way plants capture sunlight and turn it into fuels like sugar. Gratzel says "Natural photosynthesis was the inspiration, and our solar cell is the only one that mimics the natural photosynthetic process." Gratzel cells rely on nanotechnology to produce power from sunlight. "We are using nanocrystal films in which the particles are so small, they don't scatter light," said Professor Gratzel. "You can imagine using those cells as electricity producing windows. What's very exciting is that you collect light from all sides, so can capture electricity from the inside as well as the outside. You could think that the glass of all high-rises in New York would be electricity generating panels."

Cisco wires 'city in a box' for fast-growing Asia

Cisco Systems is helping build a prototype in South Korea for what one developer describes as an instant "city in a box." Cisco, which has more than 4,400 employees and contractors in Research Triangle Park, is wiring every tech nook and cranny of the new city, making it one of the most technologically sophisticated urban centers on the planet. New Songdo City, a soon-to-be-completed metropolis about the size of downtown Boston that serves as a showroom model for what is expected to be the first of many assembly-line cities. In addition to state-of-the-art information technology, Songdo will emit just one-third of the greenhouse gases of a typical city of similar size. "Everything will be connected - buildings, cars, energy - everything," said Wim Elfrink, Cisco's Bangalore-based chief globalization officer. "This is the tipping point. When we start building cities with technology in the infrastructure, it's beyond my imagination what that will enable."

Coulomb Technologies to install 4,600 electric vehicle charging stations

LA Times - Coulomb Technologies plans to install 4,600 electric vehicle charging stations for free around the country. The installations are part of a $37-million project called ChargePoint America, funded partly by a $15-million stimulus grant administered by the Department of Energy through the Transportation Electrification Initiative. Once the stations are in place, Purdue University and Idaho National Labs will analyze data about vehicle use and charging patterns. The company, based in Campbell, Calif., will immediately start setting up public and private stations in Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Jose and San Francisco Bay Area. The stations will also go up in Austin, Texas; Detroit; New York; Orlando, Fla.; Redmond, Wash.; and Washington, D.C. Once installation launches in the coming weeks, more than 1,000 stations are scheduled to be put in by December, with the rest to be in place by September 2011.

ZigBee Alliance & SunSpec Alliance Collaborate on Renewable Energy Management

Today ZigBee Alliance, a global ecosystem of companies creating wireless solutions for use in energy management, residential, commercial and consumer electronics applications announced an agreement to collaborate with SunSpec Alliance to define standards for renewable energy and microgrid management using ZigBee Smart Energy Version 2.0. The collaboration between the two Alliances will address the existing gap between the growing use of distributed generation via renewable energy resources and the Smart Grid, in order to take advantage of the energy management efficiencies of the Smart Grid.

Kyocera Solar's New Solar Plant Opens In San Diego

Initially, it will produce 30 megawatts of solar modules a year for the US market. But the plant's capacity is expected to expand as Japanese-owned Kyocera seeks to produce one gigawatt (1,000MW) of solar cells worldwide by March 2013. Kyocera's 210-watt and 235W modules are being produced at the San Diego facility, the company's most powerful and efficient solar power products. Tatsumi Maeda, vice president and general manager of Kyocera Corporation's Solar Energy Group, said: "High-quality, high-efficiency solar modules from Kyocera's San Diego plant fulfill the Buy American' provisions enacted by the U.S. government, while meeting the rising demand for renewable energy that has accompanied the current administration's Green New Deal' measures."

Smart House Developed Through ASHRAE Grant

From smart home controls to solar powered gas refrigeration, undergraduate HVAC&R students in their senior year are able to gain hands-on experience in their field thanks to the 2010-2011 ASHRAE Undergraduate Senior Project Grant. "Purdue University is designing and building a net zero energy home that will showcase a variety of new technologies for residential construction" Bill Hutzel, faculty advisor of the project, said. The ASHRAE grant will provide the crucial infrastructure for monitoring and controlling the mechanical, electrical, lighting and other systems in the smart house by developing the controls schematic; developing the sequence of operation; developing the control code; installing the controls and sensors; and commissioning the building systems. The smart house will become a multidisciplinary living laboratory for large numbers of university students interested in low energy residential construction.

Transforming waste plastic into an alternative fuel

Student researchers at Northeastern University have designed an apparatus to convert plastic waste into clean energy while minimizing the release of harmful emissions. Self-sustainability is the key to the double-tank combustor design. Plastic waste is first processed in an upper tank through pyrolysis, which converts solid plastic into gas. Next, the gas flows to a lower tank, where it is burned with oxidants to generate heat and steam. The heat sustains the combustor while the steam can be used to generate electric power.


Despite an uneven economic recovery and the lingering effects of the global recession on virtually every industry around the world, Leon (Lee) M. Pierhal, Chief Executive Officer of OPEL Solar, Inc., a leading global supplier of high concentration photovoltaic ("HCPV") solar panels and other solar products, including utility scale ground-based tracker systems and unique light weight rooftop tracker systems, is reporting a sharp uptick in requests for quotes on industrial scale solar power systems in North America and abroad. In commenting on the dramatic growth in quoting on utility scale solar installations, Pierhal also noted an especially sharp and recent focus in the marketplace on solar power installations of at least 1 MW in size.

China to Subsidize Alternative Energy Cars

China is subsidizing alternative- energy cars in five cities to increase their attractiveness for buyers to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and improve air quality. The government will provide as much as 50,000 yuan ($7,320) for purchases of plug-in hybrid models, which run partly on gasoline, and as much as 60,000 yuan for cars powered only by batteries, a statement on the Ministry of Finance's website said today. China, which became the world's biggest car market last year, aims to increase the annual production capacity of alternative-energy vehicles to half a million units by 2011 as part of efforts to cut oil imports and rein in pollution.

Electric Daihatsu Mira goes 623 miles on a charge, but not to a showroom near you

Want an electric vehicle with more than a piddly couple-hundred mile range? Apparently you have to build it yourself and follow in the footsteps of the Japan Electric Vehicle Club, which broke the Guinness World Record last weekend by driving 623.76 miles (just over 1,000km) on a single charge in its customized Daihatsu Mira. The trip took 27.5 hours traveling around what appears to be the famous Tsukuba circuit in Shimotsuma, Japan. The car was powered by 8,320 Sanyo li-ion cells, each weighing about 44 grams, for a grand total of 807lbs -- more than half the weight of a stock Mira. While we're sure Daihatsu helped with this build, it's worth noting that this is not an official project of the company, meaning the 100 mile Nissan Leaf is about as close as you're going to get to this feat for the near future.

Source: Engadget

Tesla, Toyota To Open Electric Car Plant

The heads of Tesla Motors Inc. and Toyota Motors Corp. surprised the auto world Thursday by announcing a partnership to develop and build electric cars at a recently shuttered auto plant in the San Francisco Bay area. Akio Toyoda, CEO of the world's largest automaker, said Toyota will invest $50 million in Tesla when the company begins selling stock to the public, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk said his company will purchase the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. factory, known as Nummi, in Fremont where the Model S electric sedan will be built. Analysts said the partnership enhances the credibility of Tesla, a Silicon Valley start-up just a few years ago, and boosts Toyota's image after being fined a record $16.4 million for its slow response to an accelerator pedal recall.

Biodiesel Demand on the Rise

Europe will consume about 20m tonnes a year of renewable biodiesel by 2020 due to stricter regulations driving up demand for the ‘greener’ product, says Matti Lievonen, president and chief executive officer for Neste, a leading producer of biodiesel. “Renewable energy will also very much be in demand in Asia. Based on an anticipated population increase of one billion by 2030, there will be a 50% increase in energy demand especially in the areas of biofuels, solar and wind energy.”

New Study: Solar Industry Poised to Create 200,000 Jobs with Stimulus Extensions

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) today released an independent study projecting the positive economic impact of the Department of Treasury Grant Program (TGP) and the Manufacturing Investment Tax Credit (MITC). The study found that extending the TGP and MITC by two years would add 200,000 new domestic jobs to the solar workforce and supporting industries in the United States. Additionally, it would result in 10 gigawatts (MW) of new solar installations by 2016 – enough to power 2 million homes. “The clean energy grant program created in last year’s stimulus bill allowed enough renewable energy to come on line to power four cities the size of Seattle and create over 140,000 new jobs,” Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) said. “Extension of the Treasury Grant program is essential to continuing our nascent economic recovery and moving to a cleaner, more distributed 21st energy system.

iPhone Your Electric Car To See if it's Ready to Roll!

The groundbreaking Nissan LEAF is fitted with a system where the air conditioning can be programmed using a mobile like the iPhone or HTC Desire. When they are out and about, drivers can use their phone to communicate with the battery powered, electric vehicle. With just a few clicks, drivers can find out how much battery power the car has left and if they have left it charging, they can ask the vehicle to send a message when power has been fully restored. They can also request what temperature they would like the cockpit to be at when they return to the five-door hatchback.

Google Invests $38.8 Million in Wind Farm

It is the first of its kind for Google and the company may use the extra energy to power, at least partially, its many data centers. “On Friday we made our first direct investment in a utility-scale renewable energy project — two wind farms that generate 169.5 megawatts of power, enough to power more than 55,000 homes,” Rick Needham, Green Business operations manager at Google, wrote. “These wind farms, developed by NextEra Energy Resources, harness power from one of the world’s richest wind resources in the North Dakota plains and use existing transmission capacity to deliver clean energy to the region, reducing the use of fossil fuels. Through this $38.8 million investment, we’re aiming to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy — in a way that makes good business sense, too,” he added.

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