The Army's $7 Billion Renewable Energy Contracts

The military services want the private sector to design, build, own and operate the alternative energy generation capacity and sell the energy to the military services.

New Guidelines Encourage Biodiesel Production in Texas

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has introduced new state guidelines which allow for biodiesel to be blended at any ratio into any compliant fuel.

Just How Green is Google

In the realm of clean energy and the US drive to reduce dependency on foreign fuel imports, Google and other IT giants could wield a significant amount of influence, both on the public and on policy.

Potentially incorrect beliefs currently prevalent in the Solar Energy Industry

It is entirely technically reasonable to amortize the financing of a well engineered solar array over 30-40 years, not just 20.

What is the Cleantech Fellows Institute?

The program addresses the need for experienced, successful cleantech executives to maximize the many technological and business opportunities available in clean technology.

Solar energy's vital role in our energy future

Much of the industry press coverage lately has focused on multi-100MW projects. Yet these large, centralized production facilities are not really the best use of solar energy. They certainly have their usefulness, but distributed generation offers an even better approach.

Cox Enterprises Expands Alternative Energy Use

Cox started focusing on alternative energy projects in 2007 when Cox Conserves, our national sustainability program, was created. Cox Chairman Jim Kennedy is passionate about the environment and wanted to make sure our company is being a good steward of the environment.

Sharp Hits Concentrator Solar Cell Efficiency Record, 43.5%

Sharp has developed solar cells that match the concentrator solar cell efficiency world record set by Solar Junction last year. The technology’s staggering 43.5% efficiency from a triple-junction compound solar cell is 1.2% higher than the efficiency of the cells holding the record before March of 2011 (when Solar Junction busted that record). The conversion efficiency was actually confirmed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy in April 2012 (for some reason, these companies and researchers don’t let us know about the new records for months sometimes). “Compound solar cells utilize photo-absorption layers made from compounds consisting of two or more elements, such as indium and gallium,” Sharp writes. “The basic structure of this latest triple-junction compound solar cell uses Sharp’s proprietary technology that enables efficient stacking of the three photo-absorption layers, with InGaAs (indium gallium arsenide) as the bottom layer.”  

German solar energy industry reaches new milestone over the weekend

Germany’s Renewable Energy Industry (IWR) announced that over the weekend the country’s solar energy infrastructure met approximately 50% of the country’s energy demand. The IWR notes that more than 22 gigawatts of solar energy per hour was generated by the country’s various alternative energy systems and fed into the energy grid. This is comparable to the energy generated by 20 nuclear power plants operating at full capacity. This marks a new record for Germany and sets the bar higher for the global solar energy industry   Government officials claim that this milestone is proof of the viability of solar energy. The fact that the country was able to meet half of its energy needs through the use of solar power during the weekend is being considered a major accomplishment. The German solar energy industry continues to break records and show that alternative energy should be taken more seriously by developed countries.

Obama urges Congress to extend clean-energy tax credits

From a wind-power factory in this battleground state, President Obama urged Congress to extend tax credits he said would save jobs in the field of clean-energy production. Obama said continuing the production tax credit would save 37,000 jobs that would otherwise be at risk, an estimate his aides based on reports from industry officials. "If Congress doesn't act, companies like this one will take a hit. Jobs will be lost. That's not a guess. That's a fact," Obama said Thursday as he visited TPI Composites, a wind turbine blade manufacturer based in a town that's home to a closed Maytag factory. "We can't let that happen. We can't walk away from these jobs." The production tax credit, created in 1992 and extended nearly continuously since then, gives wind farms a credit of 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour of energy produced. Industry advocates said it spurred $15.5 billion a year in private investment in the U.S. in the last five years. The credit is scheduled to expire at the end of the year.

New inexpensive, environmentally friendly solar cell shines with potential

The limitations of conventional and current solar cells include high production cost, low operating efficiency and durability, and many cells rely on toxic and scarce materials. Northwestern University researchers have developed a new solar cell that, in principle, will minimize all of these solar energy technology limitations. In particular, the device is the first to solve the problem of the Grätzel cell, a promising low-cost and environmentally friendly solar cell with a significant disadvantage: it leaks. The dye-sensitized cell's electrolyte is made of an organic liquid, which can leak and corrode the solar cell itself. The Northwestern cell exhibits the highest conversion efficiency (approximately 10.2 percent) so far reported for a solid-state solar cell equipped with a dye sensitizer. This value is close to the highest reported performance for a Grätzel cell, approximately 11 to 12 percent. (Conventional solar cells made from highly purified silicon can convert roughly 20 percent of incoming sunlight.)

Next-gen solar makers still finding funding

Despite the fact that solar panels are quickly becoming a commodity — cheap and uniform — it looks like investors are still willing to put a small amount of funding into the next-generation of solar equipment. Three startup solar makers have raised funds over the past week or so — two that make concentrating solar technology and one that makes crystalline silicon solar cells. Last week Solexel, which uses silicon gas to make solar wafers, closed on $25 million in funding, according to a filing. Bloomberg reported on the deal and said that the funds would be used to build a pilot plant in California, which would be a testing ground for a larger commercial plant in Malaysia. Solar panel maker SunPower participated in the round, as did venture investors Kleiner Perkins, Technology Partners and DAG Ventures, reported Bloomberg.

Commerce Preliminarily Finds Dumping of Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Cells, Whether or Not Assembled into Modules from the People's Republic of China

On May 17, 2012, the Department of Commerce (Commerce) announced its affirmative preliminary determination in the antidumping duty (AD) investigation of imports of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, whether or not assembled into modules (solar cells) from the People’s Republic of China (China). For the purpose of AD investigations, dumping occurs when a foreign company sells a product in the United States at less than fair value. Commerce preliminarily determined that Chinese producers/exporters sold solar cells in the United States at dumping margins ranging from 31.14 percent to 249.96 percent. Check out our Newspage for statements and reaction coming in from across the industry.

Scientists to harness solar energy in space

Solar power from space could be a valuable source of renewable energy, thanks to an innovative research. Researchers at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, have already tested equipment that would provide a platform for solar panels to collect the energy and allow it to be transferred back to earth through microwaves or lasers. This unique development would provide a reliable source of power and allow valuable energy to be sent to remote areas in the world, providing power to disaster zones or outlying areas that are difficult to reach by traditional means. "Space provides a fantastic source for collecting solar power and we have the advantage of being able to gather it regardless of the time of the day or indeed the weather conditions," said Massimiliano Vasile, mechanical and aerospace engineer at Strathclyde, who is leading the research, according to a university statement.

PV Fleet Management

PV by nature is an intermittent energy source that can be affected greatly (even over the course of seconds) by weather influences such as passing clouds. While this variability may not be a concern for the individual PV system owner, it is for utilities or system operators that may have tens of thousands of grid-connected PV systems within their service territories.

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