Largest Wind Farm In Southern Hemisphere Opens Down Under

The 420 megawatt Macarthur wind farm was opened in the state of Victoria on Friday. It is the largest wind farm in the southern hemisphere and its 3 megawatt Vestas turbines are the largest in Australia. The Mcarthur Wind Farm is actually the first project to use Vestas’ V112-3.0 MW wind turbines. The project’s expected operating capacity is 35% and its cost was almost exactly one billion dollars. One billion dollars may sound like a lot of money, probably because it is, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good deal. The wind farm has an operating life of 25 years and if a 5% discount rate is used for the cost of money, it will generate electricity at about 6 cents a kilowatt-hour. While this is slightly higher than the average price of electricity generated from coal in Australia, it does have the very large advantage of being non-fatal on both the personal and planetary scales. It’s also cheaper than electricity from new coal plants and is a major reason why Australia is extremely unlikely to ever build any new coal capacity.

Why First Solar is buying a silicon solar cell startup no one's heard of

First Solar is buying an under-the-radar startup called TetraSun to add expertise around silicon solar cell manufacturing to its technology portfolio, which until now has focused on using the material cadmium telluride to make solar cells. The Arizona-based thin film solar giant announced the pending acquisition on Tuesday during its analyst day — its first since 2009 — in which it laid out a persuasive technology and business development plan for the next five years. Investors liked what they heard and pushed the company’s stock up by nearly 50 percent during trading. So why TetraSun? Apparently Silicon Valley-based TetraSun has some disruptive silicon cell designs that set it apart from the rest of the silicon solar companies. Its designs require fewer manufacturing steps to produce conventional silicon cells, and eliminates the need for silver and transparent conductive oxide. Silver is used to transport electricity produced by the cells, while the oxide is a coating that protects the cells and helps the semiconductor material (such as silicon or cadmium telluride) to grab the light more effectively to produce electricity. First Solar claims that TetraSun’s cells also can perform better in hot climates than conventional silicon cells. That feature will make solar panels with TetraSun’s cells more desirable in places like the Middle East and India, two markets with a lot of potentials for growth. First Solar says it plans to start making TetraSun’s cells in the second half of 2014.

California sets windpower-generation record, says Cal ISO

The Folsom-based California Independent System Operator, which operates the state's wholesale electricity transmission grid, said today that wind power turbines on the grid set a new record of 4,196 megawatts on Sunday. The record came at 6:44 p.m. That mark came on the heels of Friday's passing of the 4,000-megawatt threshold. Previously, the ISO's all-time record peak output for wind energy was 3,944 megawatts on March 3. "With these impressive wind-production levels, California is well positioned to meet the 33 percent by 2020 green power goal," said ISO President and CEO Steve Berberich. "Our control center operators are tracking a steady increase in renewable energy ... " Currently, ISO said there is a total of 5,899 megawatts of wind plant capacity installed within the California grid. California is the nation's second largest producer of wind power, trailing only Texas. ISO said that Texas, which has a current wind-generation peak capacity of 10,407 megawatts, reached a record peak of 9,481 megawatts on February 9.

Wind Turbine Inspection Robots

Helical Robotics, HR-MP20 Magnetic Platform Lifting Vehicle   Lightweight and portable design for easy deployment, use, and transport. Mecanum wheel drive system offers best in class maneuverability. Magnetic adhesion system does not contact the work surface.    

BrightSource shelves second major solar project this year

BrightSource Energy on Wednesday shelved a major solar power project in California for the second time this year. In a document filed with the California Energy Commission, BrightSource said it "has determined there is a need to suspend" its application to permit the 500 megawatt Hidden Hills solar thermal power project until further notice. The company did not give a reason for the suspension, and company officials were not immediately available for comment. BrightSource, based in Oakland, said it will continue to evaluate the project, which was to be located in Inyo County near the Nevada border. In January, BrightSource suspended its 500 MW Rio Mesa project in Riverside County, California after multiple delays in the permitting process. Late last year, CEC staff said the Hidden Hills project would have "significant" impact on the environment, adding that the use of photovoltaic solar panels "would be environmentally superior" to BrightSource's solar thermal technology. BrightSource disputed those claims at recent hearings, and the CEC was expected to issue a final decision on the project later this year.

Solar panel robot doesn't need water to clean

Saudi Arabia wants to spend over $100 billion to build vast solar arrays and reduce its dependency on oil to generate electricity. But desert sandstorms pose a major challenge to keeping solar panels clean and efficient. Japanese startup Miraikikai is developing a solution to getting rid of this pesky dust and grit: a cleaning robot that doesn't need water. The firm has produced the Wall Walker wall and ceiling robot, and recently unveiled a prototype solar panel cleaner built with researchers at Kagawa University. It weighs about 24 pounds -- light enough to be carried by one person -- and measures about 22 inches across. It cleans with a rotating brush and can operate for up to two hours on a battery charge. The robot's efficacy has been demonstrated in arid regions, Miraikikai said in a release, and the machine can clean panels as well as human workers. Making optimal use of the device would result in low-cost cleaning even in areas with relatively cheap labor costs.

Lessons Learned: Collaboration, Empowerment and Vigilance Key to Sites' Successful Safety Culture

It takes more than perfunctory "safety moment" sharing and hard hat stickers to ensure employees and contractors make safety their top priority. In creating a viable safety culture, site leaders first identified the unique strengths of each company and exchanged lessons learned at other power generation facilities.

CHINA FACES $243BN CLIMATE FINANCE "GAP" PER YEAR BY 2020

Series of reforms being explored as China seeks to expand clean tech investment

A New Class of Rogowski Coil Split-core Current Transducers

Until now Rogowski coils have delivered at best a 2% positioning error. With this improvement, the error due to the positioning of the conductor is specified at a maximum of 0.65% of the measured value for a 15mm diameter conductor irrespective of where it is positioned, even if it is adjacent to the coil clasp.

Solar Portfolio Continues Outperformance by Close to 10X

At the current time the market is overbought at a level which historically results in a pullback in the market closer to the 50 day moving average. As a result of this I have been setting our stop loss points very conservatively in order to make you that when a correction or pullback comes we will still lock in healthy profits.

Corrosion Control for Wind and Solar Equipment

Coatings are the first preventative measure for all of these assets. Since most are being deployed in desert areas or mountainous areas or along the coasts, or sometimes in the water, choosing the right coating is imperative to achieve design life.

Impact of Smart Grid on Connected Homes

The study investigated the current and future direction of the market and the opportunities smart grid represents for participants in the value chain.

Eagle death at Nevada wind farm brings federal scrutiny

A single dead eagle could spell trouble for a White Pine County wind farm that sells power to NV Energy. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is conducting an investigation after a golden eagle was killed in late February at the Spring Valley Wind Farm, about 300 miles north of Las Vegas. San Francisco-based Pattern Energy, which owns the 152-megawatt wind energy project, reported the dead bird and turned it over to federal authorities within 36 hours of its discovery. “They did all the things they were supposed to because of an eagle death,” said Jeannie Stafford, spokeswoman for the Fish and Wildlife Service in Nevada. Even so, the wind farm could face a fine of up to $200,000 because it does not hold a federal “take” permit that would allow the incidental death of a golden or bald eagle. Stafford said the matter is under investigation by the service’s Office of Law Enforcement.

This Company Is Kickstarter for Solar Power

Here's how Mosaic works: Investors contribute a minimum of $25 to a project. Over the next 5 to 10 years—depending on the project—the investors will make that money back, plus interest. The return on the investment ranges from 4.5 to 6.4 percent annually, depending on the project. They can support projects in any state, but right now only accredited investors and people in New York and California can invest in the projects, due to regulatory barriers in other states. In order to qualify, projects must be for organizations that are financially stable, have adequate insurance, and benefit the wider community in some way. Recent projects include affordable housing projects, a convention center, several nonprofits, a grocery store, and a Native American reservation. Mosaic's founders want to do for solar energy what Kickstarter has done for bands and independent films, or what Kiva has done for upstart projects in the developing world. But Mosaic's model goes beyond most other crowdsourcing sites, by not only allowing supporters to invest in the solar project but also make a profit doing so.

Foxconn invests in solar power in China

Foxconn has announced plans to build a solar power network in China encompassing new factories and plants. According to a statement released by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, the Taiwanese electronics manufacturer is investing in one research center, five solar-power components factories, and 20 solar-power generating plants in the southern province of Guangxi. Foxconn since 2012 has been shifting its focus toward solar power, pouring nearly 100 billion yuan (US$16 million) in other provinces in China, where the government has provided solar manufacturers with heavy subsidies. In the face of competition, increasing labor cost and pressure from business customers, Foxconn's cellphone subsidiary company had failed to meet market expectation and reported an annual loss of US$316 million in its fiscal 2012. Hence, to some, the moves could be seen as part of a strategic plan. Despite last week bankruptcy filing of SunTech, China's biggest solar panel manufacturer, the outlook for the domestic market remains encouraging, according to Shen Hongwen, an analyst from CIConsulting company. Foxconn should be able to tap the expanding Chinese market by utilizing its financing power and management expertise, Shen said.

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