Scientists develop self-healing solar cells

Over time, most solar cells degrade due to prolonged exposure to the sun's scathing rays and are rendered useless. But with a little inspiration from nature, researchers have now created a new solar material that regenerates its damaged energy-capturing packets on-demand. A small prototype solar cell built from the self-healing material can continuously produce electricity for an entire week without losing any efficiency, the scientists report. The team was inspired by plants in nature. The ingredients within a plant’s leaves that turn sunlight into energy aren't actually immune to the sun’s damage. Instead, the molecules do their job (pump out sugar), get destroyed, and in less than an hour they regenerate. This process happens over and over again – enabling the leaves to produce energy at the same efficiency as they did on day one of their operation. Read the full article by Michelle Bryner here.

Call for Solutions!: Downeast Launches $5 million Biomass Engineering Competition

The DownEast 2010 Biomass Engineering Prize Competition seeks innovative solutions and technologies capable of transforming an underperforming biomass-fueled electricity generating facility in Maine into a vibrant part of the green energy grid. A recent operations audit concluded that available conventional retro-fitting options were uninspiring. This challenge has two simple goals: return the facility to profitability and utilize new and disruptive biomass-fueled electricity generation technologies that do not require massive capital investments and that can achieve sustained profitable operations. All manners of solutions will be considered, including new technologies and novel applications of existing technologies, process improvements and site re-use. In short, DownEast is seeking creative ingenuity from innovators across the globe.

San Diego gym turns spin bike into a power source

The Greenasium really wants to be green. To do it, the new gym in San Diego is turning its customers into real gym rats. The Greenasium , which opened Wednesday, has three specialty spin bikes straight out of Gilligans Island that push electricity back into the grid, helping provide power to the gym and other electricity customers. Its the first human-powered fitness studio in San Diego, according to its owners. "The bike's are retrofitted by a company up in Seattle that we work with called Resource Fitness," said Greenasium's co-owner Byron Spratt. "As the bike (spins), the wheel creates DC power, converts it to AC power, which is plugged back into the wall, which puts energy back into the grid." Spratt expects to add elliptical bikes in October to help offset their carbon footprint to an even greater extent.

Largest Solar Rooftop Project in U.S. to be Built in Salt Lake City

Salt Lake County and its project partners, NexGen Energy and Bella Energy, announced the construction in downtown Salt Lake City of one of the largest roof-top solar panel installations in the United States. The estimated 600,000 square-foot system will be built atop the Calvin L. Rampton – Salt Palace Convention Center. When completed, the system will produce 2.6 megawatts of electricity, one-quarter of the annual needs of the convention center. The team presented a plan to install up to 2.6 megawatts of solar modules on the structure. If built to that capacity, the Salt Palace will host the largest rooftop solar facility in the United States, generating more than 3,330,000 kilowatt hours of electricity every year while reducing the building’s consumption by 25%.

Deere & Co. sells its wind unit to Exelon for $900 million

Deere & Co. said Tuesday it would sell its John Deere Renewables unit, including wind farms, to Exelon Corp. in a deal valued at $900 million. Exelon said it's expanding its role in the wind generation business by adding 735 megawatts of wind energy, plus 230 megawatts under development, via the deal. Deere plans to take an after-tax charge of approximately $25 million in its fourth quarter results as part of the sale. Exelon said it would use debt to pay for the deal. Source: Steve Gelsi of Market Watch.

MECASOLAR installs 42 MW of solar trackers in Italy in 2010

The Spanish multinational MECASOLAR will end 2010 with more than 4,200 trackers and fixed structures in solar farms throughout Italy,which will reach an output of 42 MW. This figure makes the Spanish company the leader in its sector in the Italian market. With MECASOLAR in Italy, the multinational will reach at the end of the current year 282 MW accumulated in tracker installations throughout the world, a figure which is equivalent to the manufacture and start up of more than 22,000 solar trackers in countries such as the United States, Greece, Italy, Germany, France or Spain, among others.

Report shows Forty percent of consumers are likely to test drive an electric vehicle

According to a new study of online American adults from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)®. The study, Electric Vehicles: The Future of Driving, suggests electric vehicles entice consumers with improved environmental quality and potential cost savings, but leave them with questions about battery life and convenience of battery charging. Consumers are open to considering an electric vehicle in the future, with 42 percent reporting they are likely to follow news reports about electric vehicles. However, overall awareness of the various types of alternative vehicles remains low. While nearly one-third (32 percent) report they are familiar, or very familiar, with hybrid vehicles, only about one-quarter are familiar with electric-powered vehicles (25 percent). The study finds running out of battery power on the road (71 percent), lack of charging stations and/or not being able to recharge (66 percent) and limited mileage (59 percent) are the most common perceived disadvantages with electric vehicles. Home charging stations may also impact purchase decisions. Half of consumers (51 percent) would be less likely to consider purchasing an electric vehicle if they would have to install special charging equipment for the batteries.

Charging up CES with the Electric Vehicle TechZone

With consumers looking to live more sustainably, electric vehicles are quickly gaining popularity as alternative transportation. The Electric Vehicle TechZone at the 2011 International CES features a full range of high- and low-speed vehicles, energy storage devices and charging equipment for the green-minded consumer. Garner unprecedented media coverage and access the industry elite, government officials and final decision-makers.

Do-it-yourself solar power for your home

Imagine outfitting your house with small, affordable solar panels that plug into a socket and pump power into your electrical system instead of taking it out.  That's the promise of a Seattle, Washington-based start-up that is working to provide renewable energy options -- solar panels and wind turbines -- for homes and small businesses. The panels cost as little as $600 and plug directly into a power outlet. The company, Clarian Power, aims to be the first to bring a plug-in solar power system to the market, in 2011. Clarian's president, Chad Maglaque, says the company's product is different from existing micro-inverters, which convert solar panels' power into AC current. Maglaque says his system has built-in circuit protection, doesn't require a dedicated electrical panel and plugs directly into a standard electrical outlet. Source: CNN

Whisky Powered Cars ...Yeah!

That's right, whisky. Scottish (where else?) researchers at Edinburgh Napier University have figured out a way to use the byproducts of their nation's most famous beverage as biofuel, capable of running in any normal engine. Like some other biofuels, no modifications to the car are needed, making it an easily adopted, if not easily made or found, alternative. During the making of whisky (in this case likely Scotch, rather than the more freedom-loving whisky of my own nation, the glorious amber elixir that is bourbon), two main byproducts are produced. "Pot ale" is the name for the leftover liquid in the stills, and "draff" is the leftover, used-up grains. Together, the pot ale and draff can be converted into butanol. Butanol can actually be burned in typical gas engines, but due to its higher cost and difficulty in producing, it's more likely to be added in smaller doses to regular gasoline-maybe 5% or 10%. Source - SmartPlanet.com

Largest U.S. Ocean Device is Generating Electricity

The ocean-current technology developer Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC) has been working on a pilot version of its cross-flow turbine since 2004. Over the last six years, the company has learned a number of important lessons about the difficulties of deploying energy technologies in the marine environment. ORPC's 30-kw unit, which was installed in the Bay of Fundy off the coast of Maine, was battered by bad weather and did not function properly due to wrongly-sized parts. But the company announced today that the test of its 60-kW pre-commercial device, known as the TGU, was running smoothly and had delivered compatible electricity to the Maine grid at a consistent output. No word on how much electricity was actually generated. The machine was installed in Cobsook Bay in Eastport Maine last fall. Source - RenewableEnergyWorld

Atlantis Unveils The World's Largest Tidal Turbine - The AK1000™

Atlantis Resources Corporation (“Atlantis”) unveiled the largest and most powerful tidal power turbine ever built, the AK1000™, yesterday at Invergordon, Scotland. The AK1000™ is due for installation at a dedicated berth at the European Marine Energy Centre (“EMEC”), located in Orkney, Scotland later this summer.  Despatching 1MW of predictable power at a water velocity of 2.65m/s, the AK1000™ is capable of generating enough electricity for over 1000 homes. It is designed for harsh weather and rough, open ocean environments such as those found off the Scottish coast. The turbine incorporates cutting edge technology from suppliers across the globe, has an 18 meter rotor diameter, weighs 1300 tonnes and stands at a height of 22.5 meters. The giant turbine is expected to be environmentally benign due to a low rotation speed whilst in operation and will deliver predictable, sustainable power to the local Orkney grid.

Agreement to make home appliances smart grid ready in U.S.

An alliance of U.S. home appliance manufacturers, energy and water efficiency organizations, consumer groups and environmental organizations have agreed to improved efficiency standards and tax policies for refrigerators, freezers, clothes washers, clothes dryers, dishwashers and room air conditioners. The agreement could save enough energy to meet the total energy needs of 40 percent of American homes for one year and the amount of water necessary to meet the current water needs of every customer in the City of Los Angeles for 25 years, the partners believe. Further, global warming CO2 will be reduced by 550 million metric tons over the same time period, without considering the emissions reductions from smart appliances. The partners have called for new national minimum efficiency standards, production tax credits for super-efficient appliances, and the inclusion of smart grid readiness as a feature of future ENERGY STAR qualified appliances.

Al Gore Bashes Capitol Hill Cut to Renewable Energy Program

Al Gore is upset that Capitol Hill lawmakers are cutting $1.5 billion in renewable energy project loan guarantees to help fund state aid legislation aimed at preventing teacher layoffs and covering Medicaid costs.  Renewable-energy groups are furious over the latest raid on the Energy Department loan program, which was also the source of $2 billion in funding for the "Cash for Clunkers" rebates a year ago.  "These rescissions put into jeopardy the green jobs that the administration has touted as part of our clean-energy future and put us further behind the rest of the world," Gore said on his website Monday afternoon.  The House is slated to vote Tuesday on the $26 billion state aid package the Senate approved last week. Gore said the underlying state aid bill is important legislation, but believes the loan-guarantees cut is the “wrong way on renewables.” Source - E2Wire

Bio Bug: Car Runs on Human Waste

The Bio-Bug has been converted by a team of British engineers to be powered by biogas, which is produced from human waste at sewage works across the country. They believe the car is a viable alternative to electric vehicles. Excrement flushed down the lavatories of just 70 homes is enough to power the car for 10,000 miles - the equivalent of one average motoring year. This conversion technology has been used in the past but the Bio-Bug is Britain's first car to run on methane gas without its performance being reduced. It can power a conventional two litre VW Beetle convertible to 114mph. Mohammed Saddiq, of sustainable energy firm GENeco, which developed the prototype, claimed that drivers "won't know the difference". Source - Telegraph.co.uk

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