SolarCity pushing industry to 40% increase in useful lifetime of solar power installations

John Fitzgerald Weaver for Electrek:  In a new report released by SolarCity, we are seeing that solar power systems have a usable lifetime of at least 35 years – 40% longer than the market expects. The key finding of the report is that power degradation (annual efficiency loss) of solar panels supplied to SolarCity is as much as 35% lower than for a comparable industry-wide selection of non-SolarCity panels, which are typically expected to last for 25 years. SolarCity feels it is the implementation of a stringent and industry-leading “Total Quality Program” that has driven this. SolarCity is in the unique position of being one of the largest deployers of solar panels – from multiple manufacturers – in the world, and with their tens of thousands of systems connected to a central database they know realtime performance. In the study here, SolarCity looked at greater than 11,000 panels to determine their data points and come to their conclusion that their solar panels are performing well beyond expected industry standards.   Cont'd.. .

Here's How Brexit May End Most British Wind Power

Andrew Follett for the Daily Caller:  Officials from Britain’s wind industry are terrified their subsidies and tax incentives will end because of the U.K.’s decision to leave the European Union, according to a report by Reuters published Friday. The report found that British wind companies, particularly ones that specialize in offshore wind power, are worried that Brexit places the government subsidies and easy access to financing at risk. The industry is deeply dependent on these subsidies to make projects more economically viable. Britain’s political uncertainty following the pending resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron means cuts to subsidies are likely. The Brexit could also make it much harder for wind companies to get loans from European banks, which could significantly slow the expansion of wind power.   Cont'd...

Tesla applies for 6 new trademarks to sell solar energy under the 'Tesla' brand

Fred Lambert  for Electrek:  Last week, Elon Musk announced his plan for Tesla to acquire SolarCity and fold the solar installer’s operations into Tesla’s own business. The offer is still contingent on board approval and shareholder votes at both companies,  but Electrek has now learned that the automaker is going ahead with trademark applications to sell solar products under its ‘Tesla’ brand. According to trademark filings obtained by Electrek, Tesla’s trademark and copyright attorney at Cooley LLP, Ariana Hiscott, filled 6 new trademark applications for the company on June 22nd – the day Tesla announced the offer. The trademarks applications range from solar cells and solar modules:   “Solar energy equipment, namely, photo-voltaic solar modules for converting electronic radiation to electrical energy; and equipment for use in collecting and converting solar into electricity, namely, solar cells and inverters.” To the installation and repair of solar panels:   “Installation, maintenance and repair of solar panels and other equipment for use in converting solar energy into electricity; installation of solar energy systems and consulting related thereto.” It also covers the monitoring of solar energy generation and the financing of solar installations.  All applications are for the trademark “Tesla”.   Cont'd...

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...

Missouri is about to experiment with power from an unlikely source - its roads

BRYAN CLARK for TheNextWeb:  Part of its ‘Road to Tomorrow Initiative,’ Missouri’s Department of Transportation is teaming with Solar Roadways, an Idaho-based startup (seriously, what’s going on in Idaho?) to cover an undetermined length of Historic Route 66 with road-ready solar panels. Blair also told The Star that the bulk of its efforts will be crowdfunded. After receiving a $100,000 grant from the Federal Highway Administration to build a prototype, and a pair of $750,000 research grants from the US Department of Transportation, the group has raised more than $2 million of its own to complete the project through acrowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. Solar Roadways’ panels are tempered safety glass that are as strong as they are efficient. In addition to harnessing energy from the sun, they also come with LED lighting to effectively replace road lines and signage. While obviously more expensive to install upfront, the panels do have the benefit of being completely modular, which would allow for quick and cheap repairs by just swapping out the broken panels rather than re-paving entire stretches of road.   Cont'd...

24M's Batteries Could Better Harness Wind and Solar Power

Elizabeth Woyke for MIT Technology Review:  Lithium-ion batteries power everything from smartphones to electric vehicles. They’re well suited to the job because they are smaller and lighter, charge faster, and last longer than other batteries. But they are also complex and thus costly to make, which has stymied mass adoption of electric transportation and large-scale energy storage. Yet-Ming Chiang thinks his startup 24M has the answer. The key is a semisolid electrode. In a conventional lithium--ion battery, many thin layers of electrodes are stacked or rolled together to produce a cell. “Lithium-ion batteries are the only product I know of besides baklava where you stack so many thin layers to build up volume,” says Chiang, who is a cofounder and chief scientist at 24M as well as a professor of materials science at MIT. “Our goal is to make a lithium-ion battery through the simplest process possible.”   Cont'd...  

Tesla has just put in an offer to acquire SolarCity

Johana Bhuiyan for Recode:  Tesla’s board of directors has just sent an offer to acquire SolarCity to the company’s CEO. In other words, the electric car company Elon Musk is the CEO of just offered to buy the solar company Elon Musk is the chairman of. In the letter, sent to SolarCity co-founder and CEO Lyndon Rive, Tesla’s board of directors offered to buy all of SolarCity’s remaining common stock in exchange for Tesla’s common shares. That’s $26.50 to $28.50 a share, according to the board. The stock-for-stock deal amounts to about $2.8 billion based on where Tesla stock was trading before the proposal was announced. As of yesterday, Musk personally owns 22,160,370 shares of SolarCity. So if the respective boards of each company approves the acquisition, Musk would personally reap $587,249,805 to $631,570,545. Tesla’s move to acquire the solar company will help Musk in his goal of accelerating the world’s transition to using completely sustainable fuels in transportation.   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...

Virtual Power Plants Get Around Solar Power's Intermittency Problem

Richard Martin for MIT Technology Review:  Attempting to harness the power of distributed rooftop solar installations to make its grid more flexible and reliable, New York utility Consolidated Edison is launching a pilot program this summer to link dozens of small solar arrays into a single, software-connected power plant. The utility is working with solar power developer SunPower and energy storage company Sunverge to create a “virtual power plant”—a network of distributed assets that functions as a unified resource on the grid. The project will include 300 homes with a combined total of 1.8 megawatts of solar capacity and batteries that can store up to four megawatt-hours of electricity, enough to run 300 average U.S. households for about 10 hours.   Cont'd...

New Solar Cell Device Surpasses Theoretically Predicted Efficiency Limit

Thomas Burton for Energy Technology Matters:  A team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) published a paper last week in the journal Nature Energy that described how they built a working solar thermophotovoltaic device (STPV) that enables solar cells to break through a theoretically predicted ceiling on how much sunlight they can convert into electricity. With this revolutionary new technology, the researchers show the potential of how solar panels can generate even more energy than theoretically determined by harnessing some of the panels’ waste. To learn more about the STPV technology, read on! Since 1961, the Shockley-Queisser Limit established an absolute theoretical limit on traditional solar cell efficiency regarding energy conversion. A single-layer of silicon cells—the type of cells most widely used in today’s solar panels—has an upper limit of 32 percent. But currently, researchers are studying ways to increase this overall efficiency by using multiple layers of cells or converting the sunlight first to heat before generating electrical power. This latter method uses devices called STPVs, which the MIT team used in their study.   Cont'd...

Dubai Is Building the World's Largest Concentrated Solar Power Plant

George Dvorsky for Gizmodo:  They like to do things big in Dubai, including a newly-approved concentrated solar power project that will generate 1,000 megawatts of power by 2020—and a whopping 5,000 megawatts by 2030. The Dubai Water and Electricity Authority (DEWA) has announced the launch of the world’s largest concentrated solar power (CSP) project. Located on a single site within the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, the plant will consist of five facilities. The first phase of the project is expected to be completed either in late 2020 or 2021, at which time it’s expected to generate 1,000 MW of power. By 2030, this plant could be churning out five times that amount—enough to raise the emirate’s total power output by 25 percent. By comparison the Ivanpah CSP in California (which is currently the world’s largest) generates about 392 MW of power. Morocco’s Ouarzazate solar power plant will provide about 580 MW of power once it’s complete in 2020.   Cont'd...

Construction of the largest land-based wind turbine ever built in the United States.

“Reaching New Heights” uses a combination of time-lapse footage, aerial photography and behind-the-scenes action shots to document the steps involved in building MidAmerican Energy’s first concrete wind turbine tower, located at the company’s Adams wind farm in Adams County, Iowa. At 379 feet from ground to hub, the concrete turbine is more than 100 feet taller than its neighboring turbines constructed with steel towers.

Offshore Wind Arrives in U.S. Waters

By Daniel Cusick, ClimateWire for Scientific American:  The first offshore wind farm in the United States is set to begin delivering power to Rhode Island’s electricity grid by year’s end, a milestone that could help reshape energy markets from New England to South Florida, experts say. But for U.S. offshore wind power to achieve its full potential, as much as 4 gigawatts of capacity, it will need a major influx of capital and know-how, much of which will come from Europe, where the technology has a 25-year performance record and now accounts for 11 GW of generation capacity on the continent. Representatives of top U.S. and European wind firms—including executives of Deepwater Wind, the firm building the 30-megawatt Block Island Wind Farm off Rhode Island—told industry peers gathered on the Gulf Coast last week that the industry should act now to establish the technical, logistical and policy frameworks to build more offshore wind farms in the United States.   Cont'd...

Nanomaterials could double efficiency of solar cells by converting waste heat into usable energy

Devin Coldewey for TechCrunch:  An experimental solar cell created by MIT researchers could massively increase the amount of power generated by a given area of panels, while simultaneously reducing the amount of waste heat. Even better, it sounds super cool when scientists talk about it: “with our own unoptimized geometry, we in fact could break the Shockley-Queisser limit.” The Shockley-Queisser limit, which is definitely not made up, is the theoretical maximum efficiency of a solar cell, and it’s somewhere around 32 percent for the most common silicon-based ones. You can get around this by various tricks like stacking cells, but the better option, according to David Bierman, a doctoral student on the team (and who is quoted above), will be thermophotovoltaics — whereby sunlight is turned into heat and then re-emitted as light better suited for the cell to absorb.  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. 

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