Batteries are far from being the only new energy storage technology out there and one of the more obscure and unlikely initiatives has just received a massive vote of confidence from GE. A tiny UK company called Highview Power stores energy by using cheap, off-peak energy to cool air to -196°C using a conventional industrial refrigeration plant, turning 700 litres of ambient air into a litre of “liquid air” that can be stored in a simple insulated tank. When you need the energy, you simply open the tap, the liquid air turns back into a gas, expands in volume, drives a turbine and creates electricity. If you add heat when you release the gas, you make the process more efficient. Highview says liquid air energy storage (LAES) has advantages over other emerging storage technologies in that it uses well-established technologies and doesn’t require any inputs such as the lithium that batteries need – the most exotic material involved in the process is stainless steel, the company says, while the extra heat can come from the process of cooling the air or from the waste heat of other industrial processes, including power stations. It is not geographically constrained like pumped hydro, it is long-lasting unlike many battery technologies and there is an existing global industrial gases infrastructure it can tap into. And unlike for a gas such as hydrogen, the storage tanks do not have to be specially reinforced or highly pressurised.
Chinese wind-power stocks, once given up for dead in the investor doldrums, have roared back to life in recent weeks on expectations of government support for the renewable energy sector and overseas demand. Investors are betting on future Chinese government policy directives and subsidies that boost profits for manufacturers of wind power turbines, gearboxes, blades, towers and transmission equipment. They're also betting that multinational wind energy companies such as Vestas, Siemens,General Electric and Senvion will step up orders for the Chinese-made equipment and parts that are used to build offshore and onshore wind energy farms worldwide. Contractors building big wind farms, particularly those off the European coast, often buy lower-rung products such as steel towers from China. And tower fabricators such as China's Titan Wind (002531:Shenzhen) are making good money on that demand. Shenzhen-listed Titan, which is only nine years old and listed in 2010, has seen its stock value climb 55% since the beginning of the year. The company has gotten major contracts from Vestas and GE. And it's currently planning to build a factory in India to complement existing plants in China and Denmark.
Airplane pilots reported that they were blinded by the intense sunlight reflecting off some of the 340,000 mirrors at the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System on the California-Nevada border. Yet six months elapsed before their reports reached the regulator that oversees the plant, which is located near the Las Vegas airport. The mirrors, called heliostats, focus the sun on 459-foot-high (140 meter) towers that contain water-filled boilers. The concentrated sunlight boils the water to create steam, driving turbines that generate 377 megawatts of carbon-free electricity. The heat is so blistering that it has melted the feathers of b irds in mid-flight . Planes fly far too high to be affected by the heat—but by not the light. “From the pilot’s seat of my aircraft the brightness was like looking into the sun,” reported one pilot as his small plane climbed from 6,000 to 12,000 feet after taking off from the Boulder City, Nevada, airport. In a report he filed with the Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS), the pilot wrote that, “In my opinion the reflection from these mirrors was a hazard to flight because for a brief time I could not scan the sky in that direction to look for other aircraft.”
“What if you could scoop the air? Scoop it and move it downward, amplifying its kinetic energy along the way, concentrate it to a single point of intensity, the way a magnifying glass concentrates sunlight to a single incendiary point?” Dr. Daryoush Allaei, an engineer and founder of Sheerwind, an innovative wind power company, is concentrating his unique thought process on harnessing wind energy in new ways. “And assuming you could do this technically, could you do it on a large enough scale to make it economically feasible?” Allaei writes in his company description. “More to the point, could you generate energy so inexpensively that it stages a renaissance?” Sheerwind is pushing the boundaries of wind power innovation with its bladeless wind turbine, called INVELOX. The turbines funnel wind into ground-level generators through a tapering passageway that squeezes and accelerates the air. The units are about half as tall as traditional wind towers, which rise up to 260 feet into the air, and the ground-based turbine blades are more than 80 percent smaller than conventional wind turbine blades, which are about 115-feet long. The device resembles a giant gramophone that sucks in wind instead of blurting out sound. Cont'd..
Ivanpah is thought to be the world's largest solar power project, or at least the largest of its type. The plant uses 347,000 mirrors, which utilize software controls to turn to face the sun throughout the day.
GTM Research and SEIA forecast another strong year in 2014 with 26% growth in the U.S. solar market. This will bring annual installations up to nearly 6 gigawatts and the cumulative total will be just shy of the twenty gigawatt milestone.
If the shipping industry were a country, it would place sixth on the most carbon emission generating countries in the world. The good news is that solar in maritime transport is improving.
The process relies on heat and pressure to break down the long hydrogen, carbon and oxygen polymers that make up plastics. From there, these elements are recombined into the shorter hydrocarbon chains that can be effectively burned as diesel or gasoline.
Network planning and grid control is an undeniable challenge as an increasing number of large-scale PV installations feed energy into the utility grid, but we see this shifting in the next 2-3 years.
Pear Energy provides renewable energy to customers across the country without long-term contracts or interruption to utility service.
Less than 24 hours after Oakland-based Mosaic allowed crowdfunding campaigns in January 2013 in which investors could pitch as little as $25, they raised enough money to fund four clean energy projects in California for affordable housing projects. More than 400 investors raised $313,000. The investors, on average, paid about $670 each. Last week, Mosaic launched a new platform on their site, allowing people to finance solar arrays on homes, in addition to the commercial projects already being funded. Since its initial launch in 2010, company has raised more than $7 million in investments through crowdfunding with a 100 percent payback rate. In its seed rounds, Mosaic raised $3.4 million from venture capitalists. In 2012, Mosaic received a $2 million grant from the Department of Energy. The biggest project to date is installing solar panels on 1,500 military homes in Fort Dix, New Jersey. Another successful project included installing a solar roof on Pinnacle Charter School in Denver, Colorado, which doubled as clean energy education for the students. Full Article.
Solar power production hit a new record of 4,093 megawatts on Saturday, March 8, 2014. The previous record was 3,926 megawatts (MW) set the previous day on March 7. Electricity generated from solar has more than doubled from June 7, 2013 when the ISO recorded 2,071 MW of peak production — and output has more than quadrupled from the summer of 2012. The new record generation can instantaneously power about 3 million homes. Meanwhile, when combining ISO wind resources of 5,890 MW* and solar resources of 5,231 MW, the two resources now account for 11,121 MW interconnected to the ISO grid. In total, all renewables (including geothermal) make up about 15,000 MW of the ISO generation mix. The current wind production record stands at 4,302 MW set June 23, 2013. "This shows that California is making remarkable progress in not only getting new resources approved and connected to the grid, but making meaningful contributions in keeping the lights on as well," says Steve Berberich, ISO President and Chief Executive Officer. "The milestones illustrate that we are well into a new era when clean, renewable energy is shouldering its share of our electricity needs — and that is exciting."
At the European Wind Energy Association's annual conference, GE) announced its 2.75-120 wind turbine, a smarter, more powerful turbine. Part of GE's brilliant wind platform, the 2.75-120 provides 5 percent more annual energy production than GE's 2.5-120 model and is available with various tower technologies, ranging between 85-139 meters, and optional energy storage. "As we accelerate our platform's growth in Europe, we will continue to invest in technology such as the 2.75-120's flexible tower and other energy storage options, making GE's wind turbines more customizable for developers and operators," said Cliff Harris, general manager of GE's renewable energy business in Europe. The 2.75-120 is available on a steel, hybrid or space frame tower, helping to tailor the turbine for unique site conditions and bring wind power to new places across the continent. The range of tower height spans 85-139 meters tall. Short-term or long-term energy storage is available with the 2.75-120, making wind power more predictable, flexible and fast responding through battery software applications. Short-term storage is integrated at the turbine level and long-term storage is centralized for the wind farm. These options further customize GE's offering based on-site or operator needs.
Continuing its explosive growth, the U.S. solar industry had a record-shattering year in 2013. According to GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association's (SEIA) Solar Market Insight Year in Review 2013, photovoltaic (PV) installations continued to proliferate, increasing 41percent over 2012 to reach 4,751 megawatts (MW). In addition, 410 MW of concentrating solar power (CSP) came online. Solar was the second-largest source of new electricity generating capacity in the U.S., exceeded only by natural gas. Additionally, the cost to install solar fell throughout the year, ending the year 15 percent below the mark set at the end of 2012. At the end of 2013 there were more than 440,000 operating solar electric systems in the U.S. totaling over 12,000 MW of PV and 918 MW of CSP. The U.S. installed 2,106 megawatts in the fourth quarter alone, 44 percent of the annual total. This makes Q4 2013 by far the largest quarter in the history of the U.S. market, exceeding the next largest quarter by 60 percent. Cont'd
To understand how the energy storage in the United States – particularly California — is heating up, just follow the money. Green Charge Networks, a Silicon Valley storage installer, announced Tuesday that it has lined up a $10 million fund from TIP Capital to finance projects. Green Charge installs lithium-ion batteries for businesses, who could forgo owning the storage equipment and pay for energy storage as a service via a long-term contract instead. “Energy storage is what a lot of clean energy financing companies are working toward,” said Vic Shao, CEO of Green Charge Networks, which was founded in 2009. “Everybody realizes that this is what’s coming and they need to get on board.” This leasing model has succeeded in expanding rooftop solar panel installations at homes and businesses, which could use solar electricity without paying tens of thousands of dollars upfront to own the equipment. Installers often market solar electricity as being cheaper than the electricity from utilities, though that saving usually isn’t guaranteed for the duration of the contract. Storage installers tend to pitch their services to businesses and government agencies that want to reduce the so-called “demand charge.” A utility collects the fee to help pay for its readiness to generate and send power to meet its customers need, especially when demand is high. Cont'd
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