The Role of Data Analytics in Accelerating the Adoption of Solar

Data analytics help fleet owners and operators reduce costs while improving system performance, thus accelerating the adoption of solar since it can better compete with other generation sources.

Mercedes-Benz To Follow Tesla With Its Own Home Batteries

Stephen Edelstein for Motor Authority:  Tesla Motors may be the first automaker to try selling standalone battery packs for powering homes and businesses, but it may not be the only one for long. Mercedes-Benz could soon enter the energy storage business as well. A division of parent company Daimler has been testing battery packs that can power houses or store excess electricity from the grid, and plans to launch commercially in September, according to Australia's Motoring. Called ACCUmotive, this division was created in 2009 to develop lithium-ion batteries. Like Tesla before its recent announcement, the Daimler arm has been testing energy storage systems under the radar for some time. It recently built an energy storage array operated by German electricity joint venture Coulomb. The array consists of 96 lithium-ion modules that together boast a combined 500 kilowatt hours of storage capacity, which is used to stabilize the Saxony Kamenz power grid. There are plans to expand it to 3,000 kWh of capacity. ACCUmotive has reportedly delivered more than 60,000 lithium-ion cells to customers—which may include Mercedes itself—and employs more than 250 people. 

Five lessons on how to sell home energy storage

TRISTAN EDIS writes:  Reposit Power are one of the first companies in Australia that have teamed up with Tesla in the roll-out of their Powerwall home energy storage system. The interesting thing about Reposit is that its primary businesses isn’t selling energy hardware but, rather, using software to aggregate and trade lots of little sources of power generation into the electricity market. Most battery retailers and installers in Australia have their roots in the off-grid market – they have sold batteries to customers because their only other option was expensive, maintenance-intensive diesel generators. But Reposit is inherently bound to the grid where there are lots of generators connected which they trade against. It means Reposit, in trying to get batteries rolled out (which they can then use to trade into the power market), face a far more challenging sales proposition. Grid-connected customers don’t really need the battery system – it’s an optional extra because the grid works extremely well in providing reliable and affordable power. Yet participants in the solar PV market know there is some considerable latent demand for batteries among householders – particularly those with solar systems – provided the offering is right. The challenge is working out what the successful marketing formula needs to be to tap this latent demand. Dean Spaccavento, chief product officer with Reposit, explained what they’ve found out so far, outlining 10 lessons of which I’ve plucked out five. The overall message is it is extremely hard to sell a grid-connected household an energy storage system. And Reposit had the benefit of an ARENA grant which allowed them to discount the price of their $25,000, 14kWh battery system by a very hefty $10,000. This was a one-off, small volume offer. To sell battery systems in Australia it will need to happen without the benefit of such a big rebate. The five lessons below provide one overarching lesson – batteries won’t be sold on some kind of pure sophisticated financial calculus of rate of return or NPV. Instead, it will be a mixture of rule-of-thumb financial hurdles and a strong dose of emotion.   Cont'd....

The Trillion Dollar Drone

Drones will eventually be "as ubiquitous as pigeons", London-based futurist Liam Young recently predicted. They will be used for a lot of different tasks. One overlooked drone application even has the potential to become a trillion dollar business. And to save the world.

Can bladeless wind turbines mute opposition?

Dominic Bates for The Guardian:  A new bladeless wind turbine that promises to be more efficient, less visually intrusive, and safer for birdlife than conventional turbines has been welcomed by two of the UK wind energy industry’s most vocal critics. The RSPB and the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), which have both expressed concerns over the impacts of industrial-scale windfarms on the landscape and wildlife, said the new turbine was encouraging news for birds and had the potential to open up more urban environments to the sector. The streamlined design contains no contacting moving parts, making it virtually noiseless and less prone to vibration. Vortex Bladeless, the turbine’s Spanish developers, hopes these advantages could finally help usher in a viable consumer wind power market. “Wind turbines now are too noisy for people’s backyard,” says David Suriol, who co-founded the company with Raul Martin and the turbine’s inventor, David Yáñez. “We want to bring wind power generation to people’s houses like solar power.”

Smart Energy Storage Software

Software plays a critical role in the performance of grid-scale energy storage systems because these energy storage systems are complex to design, deploy and operate.

Yieldco: A Financial Catalyst for Creating New Solar Parks

A yieldco is a publicly-traded company which aims to create growing dividends. More yieldcos are entering the renewable energy market, and the existing ones have grown quite fast in the last year.

Interview with Andreas Karelas of RE-volv: Why Don't More Environmental Nonprofits Go Solar

RE-volv is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to empower people and communities to invest collectively in renewable energy. RE-volv finances solar energy projects for nonprofits and worker-owned cooperatives that serve their community through a 20 year solar lease agreement.

"Designer carbon" boosts battery performance

Mark Shwartz, Stanford Univ.:  Stanford Univ. scientists have created a new carbon material that significantly boosts the performance of energy-storage technologies. Their results are featured in ACS Central Science. "We have developed a 'designer carbon' that is both versatile and controllable," said Zhenan Bao, the senior author of the study and a professor of chemical engineering at Stanford. "Our study shows that this material has exceptional energy-storage capacity, enabling unprecedented performance in lithium-sulfur batteries and supercapacitors." According to Bao, the new designer carbon represents a dramatic improvement over conventional activated carbon, an inexpensive material widely used in products ranging from water filters and air deodorizers to energy-storage devices. "A lot of cheap activated carbon is made from coconut shells," Bao said. "To activate the carbon, manufacturers burn the coconut at high temperatures and then chemically treat it." The activation process creates nanosized holes, or pores, that increase the surface area of the carbon, allowing it to catalyze more chemical reactions and store more electrical charges.

Are Wood Skyscrapers the Future Building Trend?

Concrete or wood skyscrapers? Wood, you ask? Can you even build tall buildings out of wood? There has been a movement for wood-based, eco-friendly architecture for years. Some architects believe that when harvested responsibly, wood is one of the best materials architects and engineers have for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and storing carbon in our buildings.

Talking Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy (FORGE) with Rachel Dahl and James Faulds

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) selected a site near Fallon for its Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy (FORGE), and $2 million in federal funds to launch the ground-breaking research project.

Berkeley lab unveils new solar energy center aimed at producing fuel from sunlight

Jeremy Thomas for Inside Bay Area News:  In a christening hailed as a key moment in the effort to harness the sun's energy to create fuel, Lawrence Berkeley Lab officials on Tuesday unveiled a $59 million Solar Energy Research Center. Named after former Energy Department Secretary and Lab Director Steven Chu, the 40,000-square-foot Chu Hall will be a place of world-changing research in producing cheaper, more efficient renewable energy to replace fossil fuels, said Chu, who was honored for inspiring the mission. "This is one of the most important problems that science, technology and innovation really need to solve," Chu said. "It's a very big deal. ... We simply need to save the world, and it's going to be science that's going to be at the heart of that solution." The facility will be home to the Berkeley hub of the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis, a Department of Energy-funded collaboration led by the California Institute of Technology that is attempting to create solar fuel as plants do by using sunlight and other catalysts to split water into hydrogen and oxygen gas and convert carbon dioxide into liquid fuels such as methanol and ethanol. The byproduct of producing such a fuel would be oxygen.

Biogas: Big Opportunities, But Beware the Risks

Today, there are more than 191 biogas sites already operating on farms and about 1,500 more at wastewater treatment plants, but there is tremendous opportunity for more growth in biogas systems.

Why one company sees great potential in the U.S. offshore wind market

By Jaclyn Brandt for FierceEnergy: In April, DONG Energy signed an agreement to take over RES Americas Developments Inc.'s (RES) more than 1,000-megawatt (MW) development project rights off the coast of Massachusetts. RES had secured the rights to two leases from the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) in January. "The U.S. is an interesting market for offshore wind with the potential to become a significant area for future development," said Samuel Leupold, executive vice president of Wind Power with DONG Energy, said at the announcement in April. "We already have a number of post-2020 projects in our pipeline in North-Western Europe that we will continue to develop. With the takeover of the offshore wind development project in the US, we will broaden our geographical scope and follow the market potential outside of our current footprint." Leupold continued, "The site conditions are quite similar to those we currently work with in North-Western Europe which means that the project could be developed using well-known technology and logistics." Although the offshore wind market in the United States has many regulatory obstacles, Brostrøm said that there is also a lot of potential off the East Coast -- including good wind speeds and water depths. He also cited the efforts by BOEM to encourage wind development.

The Road to Change: Electric Vehicles Power the Future for Everyone

The EV industry is on the precipice of a significant growth spurt. AltEnergyMag.com talks with Principal Solar about this and the their now available White Paper "The Road To Change: Electric Vehicles Power the Future for Everyone".

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