For Those Near, the Miserable Hum of Clean Energy

VINALHAVEN, Maine — Like nearly all of the residents on this island in Penobscot Bay, Art Lindgren and his wife, Cheryl, celebrated the arrival of three giant wind turbines late last year. That was before they were turned on. “In the first 10 minutes, our jaws dropped to the ground,” Mr. Lindgren said. “Nobody in the area could believe it. They were so loud.” Now, the Lindgrens, along with a dozen or so neighbors living less than a mile from the $15 million wind facility here, say the industrial whoosh-and-whoop of the 123-foot blades is making life in this otherwise tranquil corner of the island unbearable. They are among a small but growing number of families and homeowners across the country who say they have learned the hard way that wind power — a clean alternative to electricity from fossil fuels — is not without emissions of its own. Lawsuits and complaints about turbine noise, vibrations and subsequent lost property value have cropped up in Illinois, Texas, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Massachusetts, among other states. In one case in DeKalb County, Ill., at least 38 families have sued to have 100 turbines removed from a wind farm there. A judge rejected a motion to dismiss the case in June. Source: New York Times

Here comes the sun: White House to go solar

Solar power is coming to President Barack Obama's house. The most famous residence in America, which has already boosted its green credentials by planting a garden, plans to install solar panels atop the White House's living quarters. The solar panels are to be installed by spring 2011, and will heat water for the first family and supply some electricity. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the plans Tuesday in Washington at a conference of local, state, academic and nonprofit leaders aimed at identifying how the federal government can improve its environmental performance. Former Presidents Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush both tapped the sun during their days in the White House. Carter in the late 1970s spent $30,000 on a solar water-heating system for West Wing offices. Bush's solar systems powered a maintenance building and some of the mansion, and heated water for the pool. Obama, who has championed renewable energy, has been under increasing pressure to lead by example by installing solar at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, something White House officials said has been under consideration since he first took office. The decision perhaps has more import now after legislation to reduce global warming pollution died in the Senate, despite the White House's support. Obama has vowed to try again on a smaller scale. Source: MSNBC

RENEWABLE SOURCES NOW PROVIDE 11.14% OF U.S. ENERGY PRODUCTION

According to the most recent issue of the "Monthly Energy Review" by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) , renewable energy sources (i.e., biofuels, biomass, geothermal, hydroelectric, solar, wind) provided 11.14% of domestic U.S. energy production during the first six months of 2010 – the latest time-frame for which data has been published.  This continues the steady growth trend for renewable energy. Renewables accounted for 10.71% of domestic energy production during the first six months of 2009 and 10.35% during the first six months of 2008.   Renewable energy sources provided 4.106 quadrillion Btus between January 1, 2010 and June 30, 2010 - an increase of 4.91% over the first half of 2009 and an increase of 8.37% over the first half of 2008. The largest single renewable energy source was biomass (including biofuels) which accounted for 50.66% of renewable energy production, followed by hydropower at 32.56%. Wind, geothermal, and solar sources provided 10.91%, 4.53%, and 1.32% of the total renewable energy output respectively. Moreover, renewable energy’s contribution to the nation’s domestic energy production is now almost equal to that provided by nuclear power. Nuclear power accounted for 11.19% of domestic energy production during the first half of 2010 - compared to 11.14% from renewables. But while renewable sources continue to expand, nuclear output in 2010 dropped - declining by 1.3% from its comparable 2009 level.

Kia premieres its unique electric concept car

Spotlighting Kia's increasing focus on striking design and new technologies, the chrome-colored, three-metre-long three-seater POP with its electric drivetrain, oblong-shaped side windows and front-hinged doors took centre stage on Kia's Paris Show stand. Unconventional features of POP – the striking side-window design, the high-tech feel of the dot-pattern head and taillights, back-lit front grille, rear-view cameras in each door, full-length glass roof, and the simplistic look of the wheels – all point to inspiration from outside the usual automotive spheres, such as gliders and high-speed bicycles. POP is also in fact a fully-electric, zero-emissions car with a 60 ps, 190 Nm motor. It's powered by highly efficient, compact lithium polymer gel batteries and is fully rechargeable in just six hours. Top speed is 140 kph, with a maximum range of 160 km on a single charge. The POP concept was designed by Kia's European design team under the direction of Peter Schreyer, Kia's Chief Design Officer, and Gregory Guillaume, Kia Europe's Chief Designer. Source: Kia

We Need to Rebalance Earth's Energy Portfolio

The U.S. has taken a shortsighted approach to "financing" our energy future for decades. We are rapidly depleting our energy capital of oil, gas and coal at greater rates each year, and giving very little thought to the long-term (20-50+ years) consequences.

Consumer Attitudes and the Benefits of Smart Grid Technologies

Consumer attitudes about the benefits of smart grid technology are still in a formative stage. Most consumers are not aware of the term, much less the capabilities smart grid technologies will be bringing in the next few years. Several conditions are clear: * Consumers are very interested in learning how they can cut their electricity costs * Most are willing to pay to save * Some consumers would allow utilities to control systems in their home, but many are not willing to relinquish control even if they can override utility commands

Global Solar Photovoltaic Demand Up 54% Second Quarter and Expected to Double in 2010

Growth Spurred by Improved Financing Conditions and a Rush to Beat Feed-in Tariff Cuts in Europe

Passive Pumping for Solar Hot Water System

Sunnovations is a classic entrepreneurial story: a technically savvy consumer went to purchase a product and found what was in the market lacking and decided to build a superior solution himself. Arnoud van Houten founded the company in March 2008 and partnered with angel investors Solaq BV (who advised van Houten's previous start-up) for development and early-stage financing.

Solar Parking Structures

Solaire's mission is to dramatically increase the use of solar power by providing a mounting canopy for every commercial solar parking lot. Our goal is to revolutionize the solar parking installation market and minimize its environmental impact through our product line, which delivers Architecturally Integrated Renewable Energy.

Adobe draws power from a Pennsylvania landfill

The company has had 12 fuel cell systems installed that will turn air and methane into a third of the electricity supply for Adobe’s campus in downtown San Jose. The 1.2-megawatt project is the largest installation to date for Bloom Energy Corporation, the fuel cell specialists based in Sunnyvale, California. The 12 Bloom Energy Servers, which are also known as Bloom boxes, have been installed on the fifth floor of Adobe’s West Tower building. Each 100-kilowatt server is the size of an average parking space, containing thousands of fuel cells that generate electricity from methane and air. Typically, one server generates enough power to supply 100 average homes with electricity, Adobe said. Randall H Knox III, senior director of Global Workplace Solutions at Adobe, said the methane gas is being sourced from out of state from a landfill in Pennsylvania. Methane is produced when organic materials in landfills break down. Adobe pays for the gas to be put into the pipeline, offsetting the methane used in California. “Installing Bloom Energy fuel cells supports Adobe’s efforts to remain at the forefront of utilizing impactful, clean technologies to reduce our environmental footprint,” said Mr Knox. “We hope to be an example to other companies considering cleaner, more affordable energy sources for their operations.” Source: BrightEnergy.org

Google Invests In Human Monorail

Google's Project 10^100, the search engine giant announced on Friday that it's given $1 million to Shweeb, which makes a transportation system based on pedal-powered pods that zoom around a monorail track about 20 feet above the ground. If that sounds like a crazy but kinda cool concept, that's because it is. The original prototype was built as a ride in an amusement park in New Zealand, where pod pedalers race each other on a side-by-side track for a fee of $35. Google is funding the company to help it test the system as public transportation in an urban setting. Shweeb hasn't announced the location of the planned first transit system (please make it in the Bay Area), but says on its website it will disclose the location shortly. Here's some characteristics of the Shweeb that likely attracted Google: It requires practically no energy other than human pedaling so it's a fossil-fuel-free transportation, and it's really efficient, requiring "less energy to cover a given distance than any other vehicle on earth," according to the company. The pedaled pods are also based on recumbent bikes (the bikes where you sit back and relax), which I could imagine Google's young outdoor enthusiast types identified with... Source - Gigaom

Whopper of a wind farm opens off Britain

LONDON — The world's largest offshore wind farm had its grand opening Thursday — and its location on the estuary of the Thames River makes it a showcase for Britain's push to move beyond fossil fuels. So far, 100 wind turbines have been planted in waters up to 80 feet deep across the estuary in southern England. The idea is to produce enough electricity, 300 megawatts, to power the equivalent of 200,000 homes. Each turbine is nearly as tall as a 40-story building and the blades are at least 65 feet above the water for clearance with vessels. No turbine is closer than 1,600 feet to another and the entire "farm" covers an area of 22 square miles. Up to 341 turbines will be installed over the next four years. With Thursday's opening, which tops a 91-turbine farm off Denmark, Britain now has more offshore wind capacity than the rest of the world combined. in now gets three percent of its electricity from renewables but aims to get 15 percent by 2020. As part of that, the government this year awarded licenses to wind farm developers in a program that could deliver up to 32 gigawatts of generation capacity and require investment of more than $117 billion. MSNBC

Eight hurdles on the track to a green energy future

The green energy future envisions a technological road that leads to an infinite supply of power, independence from potentially hostile nations and an atmosphere cleared of the excess heat-trapping gases that are blamed for warming the planet. The track to this future, however, is full of technological and policy hurdles.  Clean up the existing supply with a price on carbon Store wind and solar energy for later use Limit impact of transmission lines Drive down costs of electric cars Build a portfolio of transportation options Mine the earth for rare minerals Grow energy crops; save the food Bury hang-ups on nuclear waste Read full article at MSNBC

Boeing wins Pentagon contract to build a solar-powered drone that can stay aloft for five years

With four scrawny fuselages and wings stretching more than the length of a football field, Boeing Co.’s solar-powered drone looks a bit like a flying antenna. But the government is hoping that the aircraft, dubbed the SolarEagle, will one day be capable of flying for five straight years at 60,000 feet. Last week, Boeing announced it had won an $89-million contract with the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to develop a prototype of the SolarEagle that can demonstrate it can stay aloft for 30 days by 2014. Eventually, Chicago-based Boeing sees the SolarEagle hovering at stratospheric altitudes for at least five years. "That's a daunting task, but Boeing has a highly reliable solar-electric design that will meet the challenge,” Pat O'Neil, the plane’s program manager, said in a statement. The SolarEagle will draw on solar energy through panels affixed to the wings. The power will be stored in fuel cells and used through the night. The plane will also feature electric motors and propellers. Much of the design work is being done by Boeing engineers at its Phantom Works facility in Huntington Beach. Boeing expects the plane to be ultimately used as a spy and communication aircraft. Source - LATimes Blog

Spray-on solar panels tested at University of South Florida

New technology was unveiled last week that allows ordinary everyday surfaces like windows to be converted into solar panels by spraying on a special coating. Maryland-based technology developers New Energy Technologies, Inc., said their spray-on solar panels could even generate power from artificial light on glass surfaces inside commercial buildings. The company showcased a small-scale working prototype of its "SolarWindow" system at a public demonstration on Thursday at the University of South Florida, in Tampa. Less than a tenth the thickness of solar thin-films, SolarWindow makes use of some of the world's smallest functional solar cells, as developed by University of South Florida physicist Xiaomei Jiang. Researchers are currently working toward lower production costs and increased power performance, along with methods for applying power-producing coatings to glass surfaces. John A. Conklin, the firm's President and CEO said: "Today's public demonstration is a pivotal milestone not only for the dedicated research team, but for our external stakeholders as well, including our investors who are keenly aware of how the development of the highly-anticipated SolarWindow technology has the potential to create a fundamental paradigm shift in the way we produce power worldwide." Source - BrighterEnergy.org

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