Multi-Function Meets Multi-Discipline

Product development in a shifting solar market shows "onshoring" makes sense

Solar Energy Moves into a Brighter Future

Sun tracking is accomplished through azimuth and elevation (screw jack) drives that require a high degree of accuracy and durability.

The Clean Energy Alchemists

Ontario, Canada, companies transform wind, sunshine and even sawdust into green power

Panasonic and Tesla Sign Agreement for the Gigafactory

Panasonic Corporation and Tesla Motors, Inc. have signed an agreement that lays out their cooperation on the construction of a large-scale battery manufacturing plant in the United States, known as the Gigafactory.    According to the agreement, Tesla will prepare, provide and manage the land, buildings and utilities. Panasonic will manufacture and supply cylindrical lithium-ion cells and invest in the associated equipment, machinery, and other manufacturing tools based on their mutual approval. A network of supplier partners is planned to produce the required precursor materials. Tesla will take the cells and other components to assemble battery modules and packs. To meet the projected demand for cells, Tesla will continue to purchase battery cells produced in Panasonic's factories in Japan. Tesla and Panasonic will continue to discuss the details of implementation including sales, operations and investment.  The Gigafactory is being created to enable a continuous reduction in the cost of long range battery packs in parallel with manufacturing at the volumes required to enable Tesla to meet its goal of advancing mass market electric vehicles. The Gigafactory will be managed by Tesla with Panasonic joining as the principle partner responsible for lithium-ion battery cells and occupying approximately half of the planned manufacturing space; key suppliers combined with Tesla's module and pack assembly will comprise the other half of this fully integrated industrial complex. 

More Utilities Are Shifting to Renewable Energy, Ceres Report Finds

The “new reality” facing electricity consumers and their utility companies is that renewable energy is meeting an increasingly larger share of U.S. energy needs, according to a report released this month from Ceres and Clean Edge.   That translates into more and better choices and a clean energy future.   “Renewables — including wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, waste heat and small-scale hydroelectric — accounted for a whopping 49 percent of new U.S. electric generating capacity in 2012, with new wind development outpacing even natural gas,” writes Jon Wellinghoff, partner at Stoel Rives LLP and former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in the report.   “Benchmarking Utility Clean Energy Deployment: 2014,” the first report from Ceres in partnership with Clean Edge on this subject, ranks the nation’s 32 largest electric utilities and their local subsidiaries on their renewable energy sales and energy efficiency savings. cont'd.

China Solar Projects Poised to Fuel Panel Price Rebound

The expected recovery in China, which accounts for more than 60 percent of global solar panel output, offers an early sign that manufacturers are succeeding in soaking up supply by building their own projects. The government’s push to promote developments closer to regions where electricity is needed most -- so-called distributed solar projects -- may also spur orders. Panel prices in China declined about 10 percent in the first six months of the year compared with the second half of last year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Higher tariffs imposed in the U.S. have had the opposite affect to what’s happened in China. Panel prices have increased about 15 percent since early June when the U.S. decided to apply preliminary duties on Chinese solar equipment imports, according to a global measure of panel prices. The U.S. Commerce Department acted again on July 25, proposing expanded penalties on some Chinese solar-energy imports in a victory for the U.S. unit of SolarWorld AG, which accused China of shifting production to Taiwan after it lost an earlier case.

The Coming Storage Boom: Project Proposals Nearly Double California's Storage Target

California’s push to transform the market for grid-scale energy storage is working even better than expected -- at least on paper.   Last year, California created a mandate calling for 1,325 megawatts of energy storage projects by 2020, to be scaled up every two years. The first installment of proposals due this year adds up to 200 megawatts.   As of mid-2014, more than 2,000 megawatts of energy storage projects have applied to interconnect with the state’s grid, according to recent data from state grid operator California ISO (PDF). In other words, project developers have received the market signal of a 1.3-gigawatt mandate and proposed enough storage to provide nearly double that amount over the coming years.   The list includes 1,669 megawatts of standalone battery storage, 44 megawatts of other standalone storage, 255 megawatts of batteries combined with generation projects, and a 90-megawatt project combining solar and batteries. They are all seeking interconnection under the initiative's “Cluster 7” window, which closed on April 30, 2014. (A project-by-project breakdown of all the applications is available in PDF.)

China Poised For Significant Expansion In Wind Power Generation

China is the world’s largest producer of electricity, surpassing the United States in 2011, with demand increasing alongside its strong, sustained growth in GDP.  Electricity generation in China has increased 9.6% annually, from 2005 to 2013, reaching 5,425.1TWh of electricity.  Coal-fired plants currently make up over two-thirds of power generation, which is partly the result of an abundance of coal in China.  Despite this growth, the country expects demand to continue to increase at a rapid pace, reaching 7.295TWh of demand in 2020 and 11,595TWh in 2040.     However, the growth in electricity production from coal-fired plants has resulted in an increase in air pollution and general lack of efficiency.  China is now moving aggressively to curb pollution and increase the supply of renewable power.  The central government has prohibited new coal-fired plants to be built around Shanghai, Guangzhou and Beijing, which is currently in the midst of having all of its coal plants being converted to natural gas.  Its 12th Five Year Plan, running through 2015, targeted non-fossil fuel energy to account for 15% of total energy consumption.  One of the key industries expected to help meet these goals is wind power.  

New spongelike structure converts solar energy into steam

A new material structure developed at MIT generates steam by soaking up the sun. The structure — a layer of graphite flakes and an underlying carbon foam — is a porous, insulating material structure that floats on water. When sunlight hits the structure’s surface, it creates a hotspot in the graphite, drawing water up through the material’s pores, where it evaporates as steam. The brighter the light, the more steam is generated. The new material is able to convert 85 percent of incoming solar energy into steam — a significant improvement over recent approaches to solar-powered steam generation. What’s more, the setup loses very little heat in the process, and can produce steam at relatively low solar intensity. This would mean that, if scaled up, the setup would likely not require complex, costly systems to highly concentrate sunlight. Hadi Ghasemi, a postdoc in MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, says the spongelike structure can be made from relatively inexpensive materials — a particular advantage for a variety of compact, steam-powered applications. “Steam is important for desalination, hygiene systems, and sterilization,” says Ghasemi, who led the development of the structure. “Especially in remote areas where the sun is the only source of energy, if you can generate steam with solar energy, it would be very useful.”

How Much Energy Storage Do You Need to Back Up the London Array?

Storing electricity underwater in the form of compressed air is a tantalizing notion that could, if it works, help solve the intermittency problem of wind, solar, and other renewable sources. That “if” is a big one, though, because there are many details engineers have yet to nail down for underwater compressed-air energy storage (UW-CAES). One company that’s been trying to nail down those details is the Canadian start-up Hydrostor. I recently wrote about its plans to deploy the world’s first commercial UW-CAES system in Lake Ontario. The Hydrostor system will use electricity from the Toronto Hydro power grid to run a compressor; the compressed air will then be stored in flexible energy bags submerged at a depth of about 80 meters. Later, the air will be run through a turbine when the energy is needed. For all that effort, the system will be able to supply just a megawatt of electricity for up to three hours. Eventually, the company is aiming for a capacity of 20 to 30 megawatts that can be discharged over 10 to 20 hours. But a big wind or solar farm would require a lot more storage than that.. cont'd.

SEIA: Future Unclear Despite WTO Ruling in China Solar Trade Case

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a significant ruling handed down today, a panel of judges at the World Trade Organization (WTO) accused the United States of violating global trade rules when it imposed punitive import duties in 2012 on many Chinese products, including solar panels. After the decision was announced, Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), issued the following statement:  "We are continuing to follow developments closely, but today's WTO decision is not expected to impact either the 2012 U.S. solar countervailing duty (CVD) order against China or any new CVD tied to the ongoing investigation until 2016, at the earliest. It's also important to remember that this decision is subject to an appeals process, which could take approximately 120 days. Assuming the decision is upheld on appeal, the United States would then have approximately one year to implement the decision. But even then, it's not clear whether the decision will result in any substantive modification of a solar CVD order against China."

EPA's Clean Power Plan: Challenges Ahead for Sources and States

In this paper, we discuss the critical issues that sources and states face in evaluating EPA's proposal and developing plans to meet the Clean Power Plan requirements.

Nokero Introduces World's Most Affordable Solar Light Bulb

Nokero's Next Generation Solar Light Bulb (the N182), Doubles Light Output, Decreases Costs and Lights the Way to Ending Extreme Energy Poverty

Upcoming Tradeshow, Conference & Exhibition Summary - August, September & October

As Summer kicks into full gear we can sit back and enjoy a bit of a break from the Tradeshow schedule. August will see a bit of a lull but starting September and intensifying in October the Alternative Energy tradeshow calendar is full! Here is a summary of what Tradeshows, Conferences & Exhibitions to look forward to in the coming months.

Using Fuel Cells in Unique Product Applications

The three products we offer are the PowerChip, a silicon based fuel cell product targeted for defense and commercial customers, the second product is the BuzzBar Suite that is targeted at consumers for cell phone and tablet charging, and the final product is the Formira product, which is an air based fuel cell technology that generates hydrogen for formic acid and that can be used for larger power ranges.

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Featured Product

OMG Roofing Products  - PowerGrip Plus Roof Mount System

OMG Roofing Products - PowerGrip Plus Roof Mount System

PowerGrip Plus Roof Mount System, a watertight structural attachment system used to secure ballasted solar racks and other equipment to roofs covered with thermoplastic (TPO and PVC) membranes. PowerGrip Plus is designed with wind performance in mind and offers ultimate tensile strength of 2,000 lbf. and ultimate shear strength of 1,075 lbf. Properly installed PowerGrip Plus units reduce rack movement and remaining watertight. PowerGrip Plus units are easy to install, saving both time and labor when compared to alternative options. A wide membrane skirt promotes easy welding in place, and the 15/8 diameter and 1/2 inch tall mount provides an optimal perch for securing brackets or struts. The exposed 1 inch tall and 3/8 inch diameter bolt and mounting stand are made from corrosion-resistant stainless steel and aluminum alloy for superior long-term performance.