The U.S. is now the world's top Wind Power Producer and closing in fast on Solar. The U.S. increased its wind capacity by 50 percent last year to a total of 25 GW, enough to power nearly 5 million homes. Germany took a close second with 24 GW of installed wind, while Spain took the third spot. Globally wind power grew by 29 percent, to reach 121 GW total capacity. As one of the most affordable sources of alternative energy -- being only slightly more expensive than coal and nuclear -- wind accounted for 42 percent of the new energy installations in the U.S.
Akeena Solar Inc. and Enphase Energy have announced a strategic partnership to develop and market Andalay solar panel systems with ordinary AC house current output instead of the high voltage DC output that is produced from most solar panels. Andalay AC panels are expected to cost less to install and provide higher performance than ordinary DC panels. Akeena estimates that up to 25 percent of the total costs necessary to design and install a solar power system can be eliminated with solar panels that have integrated racking, wiring and grounding, and that operate with standard AC wiring.
If the U.S. is going to generate 20 percent of its electricity from the wind in the next 20 years, wind turbines will need to evolve in every way - larger, taller, less expensive, more reliable and more efficient. At NREL's National Wind Technology Center , engineers are preparing to install the two largest turbines ever tested at the laboratory. Key elements of a 1.5 MW General Electric turbine have begun arriving; instrumentation and equipment testing should begin by late summer. Installation of a 2.3 MW turbine from Siemens Power Generation is scheduled for late summer, too. Full story here.
The nation's century-old energy grid might get an upgrade soon to handle alternative energy. The economic stimulus package has earmarked $11 billion to invest in smart meters and 3,000 miles of renewable-energy transmission lines. Venture capitalists and utilities also are investing in smart-grid applications at a record pace. "It's like the Internet for the energy economy," said Katherine Hamilton, head of the GridWise Alliance.
Cisco this week initiated a partner program that integrates power management with network devices to monitor and control power usage. The company estimates 30% reduction in power consumption could drive adoption. Dubbed EnergyWise, the program was announced Tuesday along with partners from Schneider Electric, makers of power distribution and automation equipment; Verdiem, which manages PC and laptop power; and SolarWinds, known for network management. The collaboration lays the groundwork for robust, automated power management, Cisco said. EnergyWise software will be available on Catalyst switches via a software upgrade to all customers with a support contract.
There is now an alternative pumping technology being developed that is simple and costs little to manufacture, yet it is highly effective and can operate using low-grade heat energy - such as waste heat or solar energy. This type of heat pump has been termed the Non-Inertive Feedback Thermofluidic Engine (NIFTE) . Given their mechanical simplicity, low energy consumption and potentially low purchase cost, NIFTE pumps could be applicable for a wide variety of tasks. These range from irrigation and pond pumps to central heating circulating pumps and power showers.
A team of scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory, in collaboration with researchers from the University of Delaware and Yeshiva University, has developed a new catalyst that could make ethanol-powered fuel cells feasible . Made of platinum and rhodium atoms on carbon-supported tin dioxide nanoparticles, the research team's electrocatalyst is capable of breaking carbon bonds at room temperature and efficiently oxidizing ethanol into carbon dioxide as the main reaction product.
An award-winning scheme which will reduce the carbon footprint of the whisky industry on Speyside has moved a step closer after being granted planning permission by Moray Council. The CHP unit will use a combination of distillery co-products and wood chip from sustainable sources to generate 7.2 megawatts of electricity, enough for 9,000 homes, which can be used onsite or exported to the National Grid.
Project Nova (Novel Offshore Vertical-Axis), to which Qinetiq is a key technology supplier, was given the go ahead on 13 January 2009 by Lord Hunt, the UK Minister for Sustainable Development and Energy Innovation, as part of a potential £1.1billion fund. Project Nova's innovative aerogenerator wind turbine is based on a pair of giant V-shaped composite wings that will be scaled up to 120m high and rotate around the central axis to create power. Invented by David Sharpe and developed by Wind Power Limited, the aim is for a large-scale demonstrator to be installed offshore within six years and for offshore vertical-axis turbines to provide 1GW of power by 2020.
Today, Barack was inaugurated President of the United States of America. Many of his dreams fall on the renewable energy industry to fulfill. In his words "For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act - not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do."
The first full-scale Neptune tidal stream device is the design of Edinburgh's Aquamarine Power Ltd. The 2.4MW Neptune demonstration design is on schedule for delivery in 2010 at the UK tidal test centre, known as the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), located in Orkney, as a precursor to commercial deployment. The device comprises two horizontal axis tidal turbines, which will be mounted on a single monopile for the commercial demonstrator. The device features bi-directional (flood and ebb) generation, with its design heavily influenced by wind turbine technology and as such gives predicted efficiencies of up to 45 per cent.
In spite of the weakened economic conditions in countries around the world, electric power utilities are proceeding with investments in both their infrastructure and "smart grid" automation programs according to a study released by the Newton-Evans Research Co. Newton-Evans found that a majority of the 110+ officials from 38 countries participating in the just-completed study indicated that capital spending for control systems, substation automation, smart grid related programs, distribution management, advanced metering rollouts, and infrastructure equipment for transmission and distribution grids will remain as originally projected a year ago.
It looks like a giant funhouse mirror. But the big new dish atop South Table Mountain could be a renewable energy breakthrough that helps make concentrated solar power more affordable and appealing to utilities and their customers. For the next several months, NREL engineers will be testing the performance of SkyTrough , an innovative parabolic trough that is coated with a gleaming reflective skin instead of mirrored glass. Parabolic-trough systems concentrate the sun's energy through long U-shaped mirrors. The mirrors are tilted toward the sun, focusing sunlight on a vacuum pipe that runs down the center of the trough.
The use of solar technology for the production of energy is becoming more important as we strive to become less dependent upon diminishing supplies of fossil fuels. As the production levels of solar cells increase so too does the use of lasers. The attributes of non-contact processing, flexible beam delivery and precise control make the laser the ideal tool for processing these fragile components. With a number of different micro-machining processes to be performed during the production of mono and polycrystalline solar cells, it is essential that the most appropriate laser source is used .
Concentrator cells have been reaching increasingly impressive efficiencies, inspiring new interest in the high-efficiency, high-concentration approach. Currently, the record efficiency is 40.7 percent for a three-junction GaInP / GaInAs / Ge cell. From JX Crystals' perspective, its president Dr. Lewis M. Fraas sees the LCPV approach as fast to market with minimal risk. 'It is a simpler approach to understnd in terms of reliability and O&M because it is evolutionary from the traditional planar silicon module. Because of its simplicity, LCPV may be more suited to commercial building flat rooftops,' he recently told CPVToday.com in an interview.
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