Wind turbine prices fall to their lowest in recent years

Increasing scale, improved efficiency and over-capacity among wind energy hardware manufacturers have combined to push the average price of onshore wind turbines below €1m ($1.36m) per megawatt. The fourth issue of Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s Wind Turbine Price Index shows that fierce downward pressure on prices has continued in recent months in all parts of the world. Bloomberg New Energy Finance analyzed confidential data provided by 28 major purchasers of wind turbines. The sample includes more than 150 undisclosed turbine contracts, totaling nearly 7GW of capacity in 28 markets globally – with a main focus on Europe and the Americas. Dropping turbine prices may be uncomfortable for manufacturers, but it is good news for project developers and it further improves the cost-competitiveness of wind energy compared with gas and coal. Click to view the main conclusions of the analysis.

Building a bridge to renewable energy

Bridges are generally exposed to the elements, meaning they generally get a nice dose of sunlight often coupled with some fairly strong crosswinds. For these reasons this “Solar Wind” bridge design would seem to make a lot of sense. The proposed bridge would harness solar energy through a grid of solar cells embedded in the road surface, while wind turbines integrated into the spaces between the bridge’s pillars would be used to generate electricity from the crosswinds. The brainchild of Italian designers Francesco Colarossi, Giovanna Saracino and Luisa Saracino, the Solar Wind concept was designed for the Solar Park Works – Solar Highway competition that asked entrants to modernize sections of a decommissioned elevated highway stretching between Bagnera and Scilla in Italy. The road surface would replace traditional asphalt with 20 km (12.4 miles) of “solar roadways” consisting of a dense grid of solar cells coated with a transparent and durable plastic coating providing 11.2 million kWh per year. The designers say this system, combined with the 26 wind turbines integrated underneath the bridge generating 36 million kWh per year, would provide enough electricity to power approximately 15,000 homes.

AltEnergyMag has launched a New Alternative Energy Industry Forum

San Diego, California, February 3, 2011 - AltEnergyMag.com, a leading online alternative energy publication, announced the launch of an Alternative Energy Forum. The open forum is designed to be a community for the Alternative Energy Industry to discuss a variety of topics including Solar, Wind, BioFuels and more. AltEnergyMag founder and editor Bob Hetherington says "We have set up a few of what we think are some important forum topics but this is just the beginning so we need the input and participation of our readers to make it grow into a valuable source of discussion and information for the Industry." He goes onto say "I think that the Forum at AltEnergyMag.com will be a valuable and interesting resource for our readers, and we are delighted to provide this service to the alternative energy community."

Volt sales are kicking the Leaf's butt

In January, General Motors sold 321 Chevrolet Volt cars. Meanwhile, Nissan, its fiercest electric car competitor, has sold just 87 Leaf cars in the U.S. Both cars went into production at the end of November. GM had originally planned to sell the Volt in only select areas of the country before 2012, but the automaker announced last week that it would expand sales of the Volt to all 50 states by the end of the year. Nissan has said 20,000 people have put down $99 deposits to be put on a waiting list for the car. Those people will get their cars, Al Castignetti, general manager for Nissan in the U.S., said, it just isn't certain when. "Our main goal right now is quality, not quantity," he said. So far, he said, there have been no quality issues and Nissan is working gradually to ramp up production. Nissan plans to open a U.S. plant to build the Leaf in 2012. For now, all Leafs are built in Japan. In December, just after the cars went into production, Nissan sold 19 Leafs in the U.S. while GM sold 326 Volts.

U.S. wind energy industry finishes 2010 with half the installations of 2009

America's wind industry built 5,115 megawatts of wind power last year, barely half of 2009's record pace, but entered 2011 with over 5,600 megawatts currently under construction - and with wind cost-competitive with natural gas for new electric generation, utilities are moving to lock in favorable rates. AWEA reported today that 3,195 megawatts (MW) of wind-powered electric generating capacity came online in the fourth quarter of 2010. That performance was below the 4,113 MW installed in the same period in 2009, but a leap from the third quarter of 2010, when only 670 MW were installed. The U.S. finished the year with a total of 5,115 MW of new wind power. Buoyed by a one-year extension of the 1603 Investment Tax Credit for renewable energy in the final days of the 111th Congress, the industry entered the new year with over 5,600 MW of electric power currently under construction, well above the same time a year earlier. Further projects are expected to start up in time to meet the new construction deadline for the tax credit, now set to expire at the end of 2011. The industry is likely to finish 2011 ahead of 2010 numbers, according to Elizabeth Salerno, AWEA Director of Industry Data & Analysis.

Suntech Opens Solar Manufacturing Plant in Arizona

Our local manufacturing operations will allow Suntech to meet the growing demands of customers throughout the Americas, including our dealer network with more than 400 partners. One advantage is that all modules produced at the facility are compliant for procurement in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) projects. Also, in the long term, regional manufacturing will help to minimize our exposure to rising oil and transportation costs.

Octopus Diagrams and Buckminster Fuller's Design Challenge

Sustainability is the Grand Unifying Theory for finding the Ultimate Answers to Life, Universe and Everything --- and the answer for Earthlings is Sunshine --- All else is Moonshine.

Optimizing Communication Networks in Renewable Energy Markets with Wireless Technologies

Each of the applications that can be performed using data radios in solar and wind power generation plants are conducted today in many thousands of other market applications. These radios are relied upon in mission critical monitoring, controlling and data acquisition situations in the harshest weather and RF conditions.

A Bean Called Castor Can Cut Carbon & Fuel the Future

Vast scope exists for exploitation of castor as a bioenergy crop although there are still some technological challenges to overcome. A combination of conventional breeding methods with biotechnological techniques provides newer routes for designing oils for biofuel purpose.

Hydrogen Gas as a Supplemental Fuel for Automobiles

The system consists of a hydrogen tank, a pressure regulator two cut off valves, a distribution manifold and 4 fuel injectors.

70 gallons of renewable cellulosic gasoline from one dry ton of waste feedstock

Houston-based bioenergy technology firm Terrabon Inc. achieved a significant milestone this week by exceeding its target yield threshold of 70 gallons of renewable cellulosic gasoline from one dry ton of waste feedstock at its demonstration facility in Bryan, Texas. "Just the research around the process conditions to ultimately achieve that conversion is where a lot of the research in our lab, and translating that into our demonstration plant, has really made this come to fruition," said Terrabon CEO Gary Luce. Terrabon's MixAlco process is described by Luce as a linkage of biological fermentation and chemical processes. It begins by treating the feedstock with lime to enhance its digestibility, and then fermenting the biomass using a mixed-culture of microorganisms to produce a mixture of carboxylic acids. Calcium carbonate is added to the fermentation to neutralize the acids to form corresponding carboxylate salts, which are then dewatered, concentrated, dried and thermally converted to ketones. The ketones are then hydrogenated to alcohols that can be refined into renewable gasoline, diesel or jet fuel blendstocks.

'Clean energy standard' pushed

President Barack Obama nudged lawmakers on Tuesday night to take another swing at several high-profile energy ideas, including phasing out of billions of dollars in oil subsidies, ramping up use of biofuels and electric vehicles and setting a nationwide goal for "clean energy sources" that includes nuclear and "clean coal." Obama suggested the White House will also continue to push efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions - although he didn't use the phrase climate change - and promote clean energy technologies despite the death of cap-and-trade legislation last year. The president sought to make a direct link between economic growth and clean energy policies, while studiously avoiding picking favorites among several different power sources that can quickly prompt bitter regional fights, as well as partisan ones.

Solar Energy International Launches Free Introduction to Renewable Energy Online Course

Introduction to Renewable Energy is Solar Energy International's NEW free online course for those who wish to learn the basics of renewable energy - including where it is found, how we can harvest it for use in our homes and how it can help ease pressures on the environment. You will not become an expert through this course, but you will get to know renewable energy in its many forms - helping you to decide whether solar, wind or other renewable technologies are right for you. If you've never taken an online course from SEI, this is a great preview into our online course structure and learning experience. We hope this will lower any inhibitions you may have in taking an online course by giving you this free opportunity to experience the SEI Online Campus. This free 10-lesson course includes education on conservation and efficiency, sustainable building, solar thermal, solar electricity, wind power, microhydro power, renewable energy for the developing world, and the economics of renewable energy.

Clean-energy collaboration could enhance U.S.-China relations

Cooperation on clean energy could be a high point in U.S.-China relations leading to benefits for both countries, government and business officials said ahead of a summit between Chinese President Hu Jintao and President Barack Obama. Disputes between the world's two largest economies and energy consumers over China's wind power subsidies and its slowdown in exports of rare earths minerals, used in everything from wind turbines to cell phones, have dominated headlines in recent months. As China tries to transform its economy from the manufacturing of cheap goods into one developing and distributing sophisticated technologies, such as clean energy, spats over intellectual property rights have already troubled trade relations between the two countries. But pressure on both countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reel in fossil fuel demand may push them to overcome these differences.

New 'green city' for environmentally damaged country

Until now, Abu Dhabi has been known as the quiet powerhouse behind its flashier neighbor, Dubai, bankrolling record-breaking skyscrapers and fantastical island resorts intended to make the United Arab Emirates synonymous with luxury, wealth and success. But now Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, is looking to set a different kind of example. The Masdar development project, due to be completed in 2013, aims to be the world's first carbon-neutral, zero-waste city. Clocking in with a healthy $22-billion price tag, Masdar is to house approximately 1,500 clean-tech companies and 40,000 residents, and support 50,000 commuters. In addition to new technology, the design draws on traditional Arab and Islamic spatial principles to create a natural cooling effect and require less air conditioning. Narrow streets with cantilevered facades are to help maximize shading and reduce glare in order to provide cooler ambient temperatures. These architectural details combined with strategic green space and a renewable-energy-powered public transportation system are intended to minimize energy demand and pollution.

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