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...  

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...

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...

SolPad Releases Pricing & Pre-Order Info For Mobile Solar + Storage Product

Derek Markham for CleanTechnica:  The Silicon Valley startup SolPad has just announced the specs, pricing, and pre-order date for its all-in-one solar plus storage mobile solution, which could help usher in a new era of entry-level solar. We first covered the SolPad product back in October of last year, with writer Matthew Klippenstein calling it “a glimpse of the future.” That article raised a lot of questions in the comments section about the details and reliability of such a device. Some of those comments called it vaporware, while others questioned the wisdom of integrating batteries into the body of a solar panel and the legality of simply plugging such a system into the grid without an adequate grid-tie arrangement, and still others asked why it was even needed with the current state of solar technology. Most of which were decent skeptical questions, and all of which are expected on a piece about a forthcoming “breakthrough” solar product. However, it looks like the SolPad Mobile is getting ready to enter the market, as the company has released additional details about how much it will cost and when it will be available, so we’ll soon get an opportunity to see how the product will be received once it is released into the wild, so to speak.   Cont'd...

Two for the Price of One: Russian Scientists Build Solar+Wind Power Generator

Sputnik News:  A team of enterprising Russian scientists managed to develop a unique power generator that uses both solar and wind energy at the same time to produce electricity. There have been numerous attempts before to produce a combo solar+wind power generator, but so far none have met success. Solar panels tend to wear out rather quickly due to the powerful air currents generated by wind turbines, which drastically limits the system’s efficiency. But now, the combined efforts of the Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute, the Moscow Power Engineering Institute and a Zelenograd-based solar panel manufacturer have finally borne fruit.   Cont'd...

Arab gulf firms set their sights on the region's growing appetite for solar power

Tom DiChristopher for CNBC:  Some of the world's top oil exporters want to be major players in solar power, too. Middle East and North African countries, blessed by ample sunlight and open space, are increasingly adopting solar power. But it's not European, Chinese or American companies taking the lead on some of the region's largest solar parks. It's local firms that are relatively new to renewable energy. Analysts say meeting solar demand at home is just the start. Some of these companies could become global competitors in the fast-growing market for large solar power plants.   Cont'd...

Solar Could Beat Coal to Become the Cheapest Power on Earth

Jessica Shankleman  and Chris Martin for Bloomberg:  Solar power is now cheaper than coal in some parts of the world. In less than a decade, it’s likely to be the lowest-cost option almost everywhere. In 2016, countries from Chile to the United Arab Emirates broke records with deals to generate electricity from sunshine for less than 3 cents a kilowatt-hour, half the average global cost of coal power. Now, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Mexico are planning auctions and tenders for this year, aiming to drop prices even further. Taking advantage: Companies such as Italy’s Enel SpA and Dublin’s Mainstream Renewable Power, who gained experienced in Europe and now seek new markets abroad as subsidies dry up at home. Since 2009, solar prices are down 62 percent, with every part of the supply chain trimming costs. That’s help cut risk premiums on bank loans, and pushed manufacturing capacity to record levels. By 2025, solar may be cheaper than using coal on average globally, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.   Cont'd...

China to plow $361 billion into renewable fuel by 2020

Reuters:  China will plow 2.5 trillion yuan ($361 billion) into renewable power generation by 2020, the country's energy agency said on Thursday, as the world's largest energy market continues to shift away from dirty coal power towards cleaner fuels. The investment will create over 13 million jobs in the sector, the National Energy Administration (NEA) said in a blueprint document that lays out its plan to develop the nation's energy sector during the five-year 2016 to 2020 period. The NEA said installed renewable power capacity including wind, hydro, solar and nuclear power will contribute to about half of new electricity generation by 2020. The agency did not disclose more details on where the funds, which equate to about $72 billion each year, would be spent. Still, the investment reflects Beijing's continued focus on curbing the use of fossil fuels, which have fostered the country's economic growth over the past decade, as it ramps up its war on pollution.   Cont'd...

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