Case Study: Peak Demand Management with Fuel Cells

The CLEARgen™ unit is comprised of nine - 150 kilowatt PEM modules including the air delivery, cooling, fuel delivery and power electronics systems resulting in a one megawatt fuel cell power system.

Evergreen Solar Files Chapter 11

Evergreen Solar shares are down more than 60% Monday after the company filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy in federal court in Delaware. The stock seems likely to expire worthless. In connection with the filing, the struggling solar company said it reached a deal with holders of more than 70% of its outstanding 13% convertible senior secured notes to start a restructuring process that will include the sales of the company’s String Ribbon silicon wafer technology business. A company created by the noteholders called ES Purchaser will serve as a stalking horse bidder for the company’s assets. Evergreen said day-to-day operations will go on, and that it will continue to pay suppliers and vendors. As part of the reorganization, the company will cut 65 jobs in the U.S. and Europe, including suspension of operations at its Midland, Michigan plant. Here’s the nut of the story for investors: Evergreen said that “based upon the estimated value of the company’s assets, the assets are expected to be insufficient to satisfy all its obligations to its creditors. Accordingly, it is expected that no distributions will be made to holders of common stock and the common stock will be extinguished upon consummation of the Chapter 11 plan.”

A hybrid solar panel to make hydrogen

The best use of the sun's energy is to make hydrogen, according to a Duke University researcher. Engineer Nico Hotz earlier this week detailed results from his research around a rooftop solar panel that generates hydrogen from the sun's heat. The hydrogen gas--which is made by breaking off hydrogen atoms from a water solution--can be stored and used to make electricity in a fuel cell.  In his experiment, Hotz determined that his system creates more usable energy than solar photovoltaic panels which convert sunlight directly into electricity. He calculated the cost could be lower, too. There have been research efforts--and a commercial product from a company called Nanoptek --to make hydrogen from sunlight. Hotz's system, though, uses a new technique that relies on methanol, also known as wood alcohol, and a nano-engineered catalyst. Under the glass of Hotz's solar collector are copper tubes, coated with aluminum and aluminum oxide, which carry water and methanol. Once the liquid is heated to a sufficient temperature, a catalyst is added to cause hydrogen atoms to break off. That hydrogen gas is then piped and pressured for storage in a tank, where it can be drawn on to make electricity in a fuel cell.

Ford EVs to come with household solar-panel option

Ford and solar-panel maker SunPower have created a solar-powered electric-car package. Buyers of Ford's electric vehicles will have an option to have SunPower's rooftop solar panels installed for about $10,000 after a federal tax rebate. The companies estimate that the 2.5-kilowatt array will generate enough juice, about 3,000 kilowatt-hours a year, to fuel acar for about 1,000 miles a month of driving. The "Drive Green for Life" program means drivers can cut the cord on fossil fuels by generating power during the day and charging at night, according to the companies. Ford plans to release an all-electric Ford Focus and its C-Max Energy plug-in hybrid in 19 states next year and in Europe in 2013.

The dangerous side of solar and wind power projects

They can look benign from a distance - solar panels glistening in the sun or turbines gently churning with the breeze to produce electricity for hundreds of thousands of homes. But building and maintaining them can be hazardous. Accidents involving wind turbines alone have tripled in the past decade, and watchdog groups fear incidents could skyrocket further - placing more workers and even bystanders in harm's way - because a surge in projects requires hiring hordes of new and often inexperienced workers. Last year, the solar industry grew 67 percent and doubled its employment in the U.S. to 100,000 workers, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. The wind industry supports more than 75,000 jobs. "We're hearing about more and more incidents," said Lisa Linowes, executive director of watchdog organization Industrial Wind Action Group. "One of these days, a turbine's going to fall on someone." Many wind turbine technicians work in a bathroom-size space 20 stories above ground surrounded by high-voltage electrical equipment. Some inspect turbine blades while suspended alongside them, on sites whipped by strong winds. Components can weigh more than 90 tons.

Solar power glass house helps pump oil

The sun's energy will replace natural gas as the fuel for drawing more oil from the ground in Oman. GlassPoint Solar yesterday announced that it has signed a deal to install a 7-megawatt solar power system for Petroleum Development Oman to aid oil extraction. The solar system, which is essentially a glass house with solar concentrators, will generate the steam needed to pump oil from existing fields. In many existing oil wells, there is a substantial amount of oil underground, but it has become more expensive to pull out. In an enhanced oil recovery field, steam is pumped into wells to free that trapped oil. Typically, natural gas is burned to make the steam. GlassPoint Solar's system creates steam using trough-shaped mirrors about 20 feet wide that concentrate light onto a tube carrying water. When heated by the concentrators, the water turns to steam. The solar system will supplement Petroleum Development Oman's current natural gas system and use its steam pipeline. Using solar energy instead of natural gas will allow it to use the gas for other purposes--or export it, according to the company.  

Cleantech VC investing tanks in Q2

According to a report out on Wednesday morning from Dow Jones VentureSource, with analysis by Ernst & Young, cleantech venture capital investing dropped 44 percent to $1.1 billion, compared to the same quarter a year ago. The number of cleantech VC deals were also down by 12 percent to 68 for the quarter. Similar numbers were reported by the Cleantech Group last month, which found that cleantech VC investing had dropped by a third in the second quarter compared to the same quarter last year.  The second quarter fall follows some mixed signals for cleantech VC investing from the first quarter of the year, but also some solid signs that cleantech investors have been pulling back on new investments. While the first quarter of the year produced an almost record amount of cleantech VC funding according to numbers from the Cleantech group, a deeper dive into those numbers revealed that the bulk of those fundings were follow-on rounds for capital-intensive companies like Miasole, BrightSource, Fisker Automotive, and Bloom Energy. However, Dow Jones VentureSource reported first quarter numbers more conservatively than the Cleantech Group, at actually 8 percent lower than today’s second-quarter numbers.

Obama unveils sharp increase in auto fuel economy

Several major auto makers on Friday embraced the Obama administration's proposal to push the industry further away from once-dominant gas guzzlers to more lean and efficient vehicles. The proposal, which is the result of months of negotiations between the Obama administration and auto makers, would require the companies to reach an average fuel efficiency across their U.S. fleets of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. "This agreement on fuel standards represents the single most important step we've ever taken as a nation to reduce our dependence on foreign oil," Obama said at an event announcing the new standards. Flanked by top auto maker executives, Obama said the new rules would lower the country's oil use by 2.2 million barrels a day over the next 15 years. The rules will cut more than 6 billion tons of carbon emissions for the duration of the program.

The Solar Decathlon

Here are 5 of the entries in this years Solar Decathlon for your interest and enjoyment. More to come in future issues. These students have earned the support of us all. Thanks for giving us your view of the future!

Solar Thermal 101

We've cobbled together some great factoids from the Apricus website to create this overview of Solar Thermal systems. Why are we not using this technology on every home that is exposed to the sun?

Smart Grid Communications: Layers and Players

There are a myriad of communications players (technologies) that can be deployed across the smart grid applications layers. The "best fit" technology for any one layer or overall system. The first thing to drive the communications technology decision is the objective for the system. Add in the risk profile of the company and the communications requirements start to take shape.

Biopower - Global Market Size, Feedstock Analysis, Regulations and Investment Analysis to 2020

GlobalData has released its research on the Alternative Energy Industry. Please see below for key findings from the study.

The Zebra Breakthrough

Our strategy is focused on being close to the market. For the last 25 years the photovoltaic sector has operated mainly in a horizontal fashion. Now the time for vertical integration has come, and we are well positioned for this change. With this in mind, the recent joint venture Espe-SunParc will allow Silfab to be completely involved in every segment of the downstream market, including Solar Farms.

SolarCity to offer solar-powered EV chargers

SolarCity said today that it will begin to offer installation services for solar-powered EV chargers compatible with any electric vehicle currently on the market. To do so, the company is partnering with EV charger manufacturer ClipperCreek, which will supply chargers that use the standard SAE-J1772 charge cable. Installation of a 240-volt Level II charger, which typically charges an EV battery to full capacity in about four hours, for a home or business will start at $1,500 including the price of the charger, according to SolarCity. SolarCity said the offer is not just an add-on for customers who have the company install solar panel systems, but that it's also willing to install a standalone EV charger.

DEGERenergie: Strong demand for MLD tracking in the USA

The worldwide renewable energy boom continues. Now, the euphoria has also arrived in the American solar market. This is what DEGERenergie reports from the Intersolar North America. What surprises recently is the diversity of the demand in the United States. Not only potential investors and solar park operators were interested in information about the most efficient technology DEGERenergie offers for medium and large-scale solar projects – more than ever, specific inquiries also came from individuals wanting to benefit from the advantages of MLD tracking. Michael Heck, Vice President Marketing & Sales at DEGERenergie, puts it like this: "The issue of self-supply is rapidly gaining importance – not only in Germany."

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