IKEA of energy delivers clean, green solar power-plant in a box

Richard Kemeny for New Scientist:  Here’s a bright idea for flat-packing. A German start-up has figured out how to cram an entire solar power plant into a shipping container. It has sent its first kits to off-grid villages in Africa, where they provide a new source of clean, affordable electricity after just two hours of assembly. More than 620 million people in sub-Saharan Africa have no access to electricity, a situation that can keep people in poverty. And population growth means this number is rising. Those with access tend to rely on inefficient diesel generators, chugging along with crippling financial and environmental costs. Despite that, diesel is standard for off-grid energy. “If there’s no diesel, there’s no electricity”, says Rolf Kersten of the start-up, Africa GreenTec in Hainburg, Germany, which shipped its first solar generator to Mali in December last year.   Cont'd...

Siemens, Gamesa merge to create wind power giant

From DW.com:  Spanish renewable energy group Gamesa has agreed combine its wind power business with those of Germany's Siemens in a deal that will create one of the world's largest makers of wind turbines. In a note to the Spanish stock market regulator on Friday, Gamesa said it had reached the necessary "corporate approval for the potential integration of Siemens' wind business," with the final terms of the deal still needing to be agreed upon.  The announcement followed months of negotiations between the two companies and it comes as demand for wind power surges as countries develop more renewable energy to comply with emissions cut targets.  Although no price tag has so far been put to the merger, financial news agency Bloomberg reported that Siemens would pay around one billion dollars (890 million euros) to Gamesa as part of the operation.  The German engineering group would hold a majority stake of 59 percent of the new wind venture, Bloomberg said, citing people familiar with the matter. Gamesa's biggest shareholder, Spain's biggest power company Iberdrola, would have a 20 percent stake in the new firm, according to Spanish media reports.   Cont'd...

Saving the Earth by Making Energy Industry's Boardrooms Diverse

Ainslie Chandler for Bloomberg:  The U.S. energy sector accounts for 83.6 percent of the country’s carbon emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, so tackling climate change effectively requires their participation. Some experts worry the lack of diversity in their leadership is hindering that shift. Energy-sector boards are the least diverse of any industry globally, with 8.2 percent of seats occupied by women, compared with an average of 10.5 percent for all businesses, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That translates to an average of just 0.7 women on the board of each of the 650 energy companies in Bloomberg’s review. More than 170 countries signed the Paris Agreement in April, which aims to limit the global temperature increase to below two degrees Celsius. If this target is going to be met and the transition to a “de-carbonized” economy made, companies will need to fundamentally change, so leadership teams also have to change, said Rachel Kyte, chief executive and special representative of the UN Secretary-General at Sustainable Energy for All. “It’s like this bus is coming toward us,” Kyte said of climate change and the transition to renewable energy. “If you keep asking the same people and they keep coming up with the same answer, we’re not going to manage this transition very well.”   Cont'd...

Australia's Carnegie Wave Energy Project Sets World Record

Joshua S Hill for CleanTechnica:  Australia’s Carnegie Wave Energy Project has set a new world record after completing 14,000 cumulative operating hours, the highest ever recorded. The news was announced by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) this week, which provided $13.1 million in funding. The $40 million project uses CETO wave energy technology, and was the world’s first array of wave power generators to be connected to an electricity grid. For the past 12 months, the CETO 5 project has used an array of three offshore wave power generators to provide electricity and potable desalinated water to Australia’s largest naval base, HMAS Stirling, on Garden Island in Western Australia. “ARENA is proud to help local companies, like [Carnegie Wave Energy Limited], develop new renewable energy solutions that have the potential to change the way the world generates electricity,” said ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht. “We do this by providing Australian innovators with the support they need during the critical RD&D period, when patient funding is essential.”   Cont'd...

American wind power sets sights on doubling in five years

From WINDPOWER 2016 -  By continuing to advance technology and lower costs, wind power, America's fastest growing new source of electricity, will stay on pace to grow to supply 10 percent of U.S. electricity by 2020. That's according to leading wind energy executives this morning during the American Wind Energy Association's WINDPOWER 2016 Conference and Exhibition, as thousands of attendees continued to file into the Western Hemisphere's largest wind energy industry event all year.  Helping to grow wind energy in the U.S. are a mix of stable federal policy, passed late last year on a bipartisan vote by Congress, forward-looking states raising their renewable energy targets, and corporate and other non-utility buyers aiming to cut carbon pollution and pass savings onto American homeowners and businesses.    Full Press Release. 

High legal barriers in 10 states make it especially difficult to put solar panels on rooftops.

Julian Spector for CityLab:  A lot has been said already about the success of the states that are leading the adoption of solar energy. There’s plenty to celebrate, as solar installationssmash records and as the industry grows 12 times faster than the U.S. economy. At the same time, it’s important to recognize that many people live in places where the government is either not facilitating a solar market or is actively smothering it. Solar obstructionism takes center stage in a report, aptly titled “Throwing Shade,” out Tuesday from Greer Ryan at the Center for Biological Diversity. The organization advocates for an energy system that’s clean, equitable, and wildlife friendly, so Ryan set out to rank the states based on how well their policies encourage rooftop solar panels. Then she analyzed the 10 worst-scoring states with the highest solar potential in order to better understand how the absence of state-level policies—or the presence of antagonistic ones—hampers the growth of solar markets.   Cont'd...

This Device Could Provide a Third of America's Power

Sam Grobart for Bloomberg:  There are 332,519,000 cubic miles of water on the planet. That's 352,670,000,000,000,000,000 gallons just sloshing around out there.  Anyone who's ridden or been tossed by a wave has a sense of the kinetic energy contained in our perpetually moving oceans. If we could harness it, it could provide a clean, renewable source of energy. But efforts to turn our oceans into power generators—often in the form of "aqua-mills," windmill technology adapted to water—have foundered on the complexity of their many moving parts in the corrosive and remote environs of the sea.  A new approach, developed by a company called Oscilla Power, applies all that kinetic energy to a solid piece of metal instead of using it to turn the blades of an impeller. That creates an alternating magnetic polarity in the metal that can be converted into electrical current.  Oscilla's technology, which is nearly solid-state, may prove far more durable than any other ocean-power project, increasing the chance to draw power from our oceans cleanly, meaningfully, and endlessly.   View video here:

Danish researchers may have found 'the energy source of the future'

CPH Post:  Researchers at the University of Copenhagen have discovered a natural process they are calling ‘reverse photosynthesis’. They have observed how the energy in solar rays breaks down rather than builds up plant material, as happens in photosynthesis. Sunlight is collected by chlorophyll, and when combined with a specific enzyme the energy breaks down plant biomass. The resulting product can then be used as a biofuel. By increasing production speed while reducing pollution, the discovery has the potential to revolutionise industrial production. “This is a game-changer, one that could transform the industrial production of fuels and chemicals, thus serving to reduce pollution significantly,” said Claus Felby, the University of Copenhagen professor who headed up the research. “It has always been right under our noses,” he said. “Photosynthesis by way of the sun doesn’t just allow things to grow – the same principles can be applied to break plant matter down, so that the immense energy in solar light can be used so that processes can take place without additional energy inputs.”   Cont'd...

EPFL Scientists Achieve Record-Level Reproducibility for Perovskite Solar Cells

Perovskite solar cells hold much promise for cost-effective solar energy. However, heat stability is an issue, and can significantly limit the solar cell’s long-term efficiency. A team of scientists led by Michael Grätzel’s lab at EPFL has now developed a cesium-containing perovskite solar cell that has achieved efficiency of 21.1%, as well as record-level reproducibility. The work is published in Energy and Environmental Science. By adding cesium, the EPFL scientists, led by postdoc Michael Saliba, made the first ever triple-cation perovskite mixture (Cs/MA/FA). The new films are more heat-stable and less affected by fluctuating surrounding variables such as temperature, solvent vapors or the heating protocol used for the device. But more importantly, they also show stabilized power-conversion efficiencies of 21.1% and outputs at 18% under operational conditions, even after 250 hours. “This is an absolute breakthrough,” says Michael Saliba. “These properties are crucial for commercializing perovskite photovoltaics, especially since reproducibility and stability are the main requirements for cost-effective large-scale manufacturing of perovskite solar cells.”   Source AZOCleantech...

United Airlines is flying on biofuels ... here's why that's a really big deal

Chelsea Harvey for The Washington Post:   On Friday, United Airlines will launch a new initiative that uses biofuel to help power flights running between Los Angeles and San Francisco, with eventual plans to expand to all flights operating out of LAX. It's the first time an American airline will begin using renewable fuel for regular commercial operations, and the occasion is part of a bigger movement when it comes to clean transportation in the U.S. The renewable fuel used to power United's planes will be coming from a Los Angeles refinery operated by AltAir Fuels, which is using the facility to produce both renewable jet fuel and diesel fuel using a technology developed by Honeywell UOP, a major supplier and technology licenser in the petroleum industry. Back in 2013, AltAir and United announced their partnership, in which United will purchase up to 15 million gallons of biofuel over a three-year period. Friday's launch will be the first application of that agreement. The flights will use a mixture of 30 percent biofuel and 70 percent traditional fuel, and United says that the biofuel will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 60 percent compared with regular fuel.   Cont'd...

Energy-Storage Startup LightSail Plots Long-Term Game Plan

Barbara Haislip for the Wall Street Journal:  Few industries are more daunting for entrepreneurs these days than clean energy. Developing the technology and hardware is expensive, and setbacks are common. Even if all goes well, getting a product to market can take a decade or more. Most venture-fund investors, meanwhile, want a quicker payout. Danielle Fong, co-founder and chief scientist of LightSail Energy, is trying to keep investors happy while working toward some ambitious clean-energy goals. Her company’s aim, she says, “is to produce the world’s cleanest and most economical energy-storage system” through a technology that uses compressed air to store energy from the grid. LightSail’s technology will do this more efficiently than other solutions, Ms. Fong says, by capturing some of the excess heat that comes when compressing air.  “Until now, this was wasted, reducing efficiency,” she says. Founded in 2009, Berkeley, Calif.-based LightSail has raised $70 million from several investors, including Bill Gates, Peter Thiel,Khosla Ventures and the French energy giant Total.   Cont'd...

Low-cost energy storage for power grid can be found in your Water Heater

By David Shaffer  for Star Tribune:  The least-expensive battery to store energy from the electric power grid may be sitting in homeowners’ basements — the electric water heater. That is the surprising finding of research released Wednesday by the cooperative power industry, including Maple Grove-based Great River Energy, and an environmental group. Customers at many utilities already save money by heating water at night, taking advantage of low, off-peak electric rates. It requires a special electric water heater that holds a day’s worth of household water, but offers long-term savings. Now, a study by the Brattle Group, an economic consulting firm, says that the nation’s 50 million residential electric water heaters can address bigger challenges on the power grid, such as storing intermittent renewable energy from wind farms and solar arrays.   Cont'd...

MIT Tool Gives the Cost of Installing Solar Panels on Any Roof in Your City

Daniel Oberhaus for Motherboard:  The world, it seems, is falling in love with solar energy. Recent years have seen the increasing adoption of solar power around the world as an alternative energy source for everything from individual homes to the entire energy grid, with the United States’solar capacity having grown to 24 GW, a more than a 17-fold increase since 2008. Part of this rapid growth for solar infrastructure is the result of markedly more efficient solar energy cells, but in spite of these recent technological advances, transitioning to solar power still doesn’t make sense (at least economically speaking) everywhere. Installing photovoltaic systems can be pretty pricey, and home- and business-owners have to engage in a complex cost-benefit analysis to see if transitioning to solar power is an economically sound idea. The “pain-in-the-ass” factor of such calculations alone might be enough to turn people off of the idea of contemplating installing a photovoltaic system, so the folks at MIT came up with a solution: Mapdwell. Mapdwell maps the solar potential of entire cities by doing a cost-benefit analysis for every rooftop to determine if installing solar panels on that rooftop is worth the investment. All you do is enter your address into the program, and it will tell you the expected installation costs, the number of years it will take to earn back this investment from your photovoltaic system, the amount of carbon offset by the installation, as well as incredibly detailed installment specs such as the optimal panel tilt and the number of panels that could fit on the roof.   Cont'd...

This year will be a solar-powered Super Bowl

By Jeff Clabaugh for WTOP:  Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, will set the stage for Sunday’s Super Bowl, and it will be a solar-powered event. Levi’s Stadium, which opened in July 2014, is the first professional football stadium in the NFL to open with LEED Gold certification, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association in Washington. Princeton, New Jersey-based NGR Solar LLC installed more than 1,150 solar panels at the stadium during its construction — enough to produce 375 kilowatts of peak power. The system can generate enough power in a year to meet electricity demand during every San Francisco 49ers home game. The solar panels cover three bridges that connect the stadium to the main parking lot and the “NRG Solar Terrace” that overlooks the field. There are 544 solar panels on the stadium roof and another 642 on the bridges, which also serve as canopies covering the bridges.   Cont'd...

Low Oil Prices Not Killing Algae Biofuel - Yet

Tina Casey for CleanTechnica:  The algae biofuel market is still in play even though the global petroleum market shows no real signs of lifting itself out of the doldrums, as two examples from different ends of the Earth illustrate. Over in Australia, researchers have come up with a new, low cost way to raise algae for biofuel, and here in the US the Department of Energy is moving forward with a new grant program to fund commercially viable algae production.   Cont'd...

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