Obama unveils sharp increase in auto fuel economy

Several major auto makers on Friday embraced the Obama administration's proposal to push the industry further away from once-dominant gas guzzlers to more lean and efficient vehicles. The proposal, which is the result of months of negotiations between the Obama administration and auto makers, would require the companies to reach an average fuel efficiency across their U.S. fleets of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. "This agreement on fuel standards represents the single most important step we've ever taken as a nation to reduce our dependence on foreign oil," Obama said at an event announcing the new standards. Flanked by top auto maker executives, Obama said the new rules would lower the country's oil use by 2.2 million barrels a day over the next 15 years. The rules will cut more than 6 billion tons of carbon emissions for the duration of the program.

The Solar Decathlon

Here are 5 of the entries in this years Solar Decathlon for your interest and enjoyment. More to come in future issues. These students have earned the support of us all. Thanks for giving us your view of the future!

Solar Thermal 101

We've cobbled together some great factoids from the Apricus website to create this overview of Solar Thermal systems. Why are we not using this technology on every home that is exposed to the sun?

Smart Grid Communications: Layers and Players

There are a myriad of communications players (technologies) that can be deployed across the smart grid applications layers. The "best fit" technology for any one layer or overall system. The first thing to drive the communications technology decision is the objective for the system. Add in the risk profile of the company and the communications requirements start to take shape.

Biopower - Global Market Size, Feedstock Analysis, Regulations and Investment Analysis to 2020

GlobalData has released its research on the Alternative Energy Industry. Please see below for key findings from the study.

The Zebra Breakthrough

Our strategy is focused on being close to the market. For the last 25 years the photovoltaic sector has operated mainly in a horizontal fashion. Now the time for vertical integration has come, and we are well positioned for this change. With this in mind, the recent joint venture Espe-SunParc will allow Silfab to be completely involved in every segment of the downstream market, including Solar Farms.

SolarCity to offer solar-powered EV chargers

SolarCity said today that it will begin to offer installation services for solar-powered EV chargers compatible with any electric vehicle currently on the market. To do so, the company is partnering with EV charger manufacturer ClipperCreek, which will supply chargers that use the standard SAE-J1772 charge cable. Installation of a 240-volt Level II charger, which typically charges an EV battery to full capacity in about four hours, for a home or business will start at $1,500 including the price of the charger, according to SolarCity. SolarCity said the offer is not just an add-on for customers who have the company install solar panel systems, but that it's also willing to install a standalone EV charger.

DEGERenergie: Strong demand for MLD tracking in the USA

The worldwide renewable energy boom continues. Now, the euphoria has also arrived in the American solar market. This is what DEGERenergie reports from the Intersolar North America. What surprises recently is the diversity of the demand in the United States. Not only potential investors and solar park operators were interested in information about the most efficient technology DEGERenergie offers for medium and large-scale solar projects – more than ever, specific inquiries also came from individuals wanting to benefit from the advantages of MLD tracking. Michael Heck, Vice President Marketing & Sales at DEGERenergie, puts it like this: "The issue of self-supply is rapidly gaining importance – not only in Germany."

The Groupon for solar looks nationwide

A startup offering Groupon-style group discounts for solar panel roof installations is now looking to connect with potential solar customers nationwide. On Monday One Block Off the Grid (1BOG) plans to expand access to its group solar discounts, installer recommendations and solar information services to another set of almost two dozen states across the U.S. 1BOG works by using the power of the group to leverage a low-cost solar deal in certain areas. Similar to Groupon, 1BOG collects a critical mass of interested solar customers in a given area and uses the volume of people to make deals with local solar installers. Think of the service as a way for entire neighborhoods to go solar in one fell swoop.

GM, ABB rewire Volt battery for back-up power

General Motors and grid equipment supplier ABB this week showed an early version of an energy storage system using battery packs from the Chevy Volt electric car. The two companies are partnering to build a prototype which they say can be used either for large-scale grid storage or back-up power for consumers. They estimate that 33 repurposed Volt battery packs could supply 50 U.S. homes for four hours during an outage or brownout. Batteries lose their storage capacity over time, but used car batteries are still viable for grid storage. GM estimates that once used car batteries have 70 percent of their initial charge, they can still be suitable for grid storage. Finding a viable method to repurpose used EV batteries after seven to ten years of driving isn't just a question of consumer convenience and driving range. Because batteries are the most expensive component of electric cars, car companies and battery makers are trying to ways to draw more money from that asset with grid storage.

Harnessing solar power, on a small scale

No thicker than a piece of paper - because it practically is a piece of paper - a solar panel created by an MIT researcher can be shoved into a pocket or made into a paper airplane, and it will still create energy when exposed to sunlight. The trick is in the way it is made. The panel is printed like ink onto a sheet of paper. Even folded up like a letter, it retains its ability to convert light to electricity. With her colleagues, Karen Gleason, a professor of chemical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, published a paper last week in the journal Advanced Materials, demonstrating how they created a solar panel by printing tiny, lightweight layers of electrodes and semiconductors on a piece of paper.

AltEnergyMag - 2011 InterSolar North America Report

Intersolar promotes the development of business opportunities throughout the North American solar industry. There are 800 exhibitors and 22,000 trade visitors expected at the 2011 exhibition, co-located with SEMICON West. The accompanying conference expects 1,600 attendees. Since its establishment in 2008, the exhibition and conference have developed into the premier platform for the solar industry in North America. Intersolar North America focuses on photovoltaic and solar thermal technology and has quickly established itself among manufacturers, suppliers, distributors and service providers as a vital international industry meeting point.

Electric Vehicle Market Expansion in China

China fully intends to make its automotive industry one of its pillar industries; and those who do business there must be ever mindful of that reality. China appears determined to segue from "Made In China" to "Made By China". The profundity of that change in preposition should resonate even among those doing well in China.

SunWave Technology

Smart Solar is highly distributed, large scale solar coupled with Smart Grid technology installed in partnership with utility companies. Smart Solar builds solar in a reliable and cost-effective way that mitigates challenges faced by traditional solar. Smart Solar is the best insurance for long-term grid stability.

States Drive Impressive Fuel Cell Growth

The fuel cell industry is still finding its foothold in the energy technology portfolio, but supportive state policies that help foster fuel cell installations, company relocations and growth will help keep the U.S. at the forefront of fuel cell commercialization for a wide variety of applications and power needs.

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