Hugh Cowley for Scientific American: Perovskites have arguably transformed solar energy more in the last few years than other technologies have in decades. But British researchers have called into question optimistic predictions of undiscovered perovskites. Hybrid perovskites are a mix of organic and inorganic ions with the same crystal structure as calcium titanium oxide (CaTiO3). Halide perovskites are a subset of these structures containing halide ions such as fluoride or chloride. Iodide perovskites such as methylammonium lead iodide (CH3NH3PbI3) can convert sunlight to electricity. Researchers use a decades-old geometric 'tolerance factor' to propose new combinations of ions that will form stable perovskites. Now, Robert Palgrave and his team at University College London, UK, have reassessed the validity of the tolerance factor in predicting new hybrid perovskite structures. Cont'd...
Brad Plumer for VOX : Rooftop solar is expanding rapidly in the United States — by some estimates, a new system goes up every four minutes. There are plenty of reasons for that, from falling prices to generous federal subsidies to innovative leasing schemes. But there's another, little-discussed factor here: Residential solar power is contagious. Yep, contagious. Studies have found that if you install solar photovoltaic panels on your roof, that increases the odds that your neighbors will install their own panels. SolarCity, the largest solar installer in the United States, just published some fascinating data on this "contagion" effect. The company has installed 230,000 rooftop systems nationwide (often by allowing customers to lease panels rather than buy them upfront). It says fully one-third of customers were referred by a friend or neighbor. SolarCity has also made some neat animations showing the "contagion" effect in action. View here:
To make our list, your company had to be, first and foremost, innovative. Your company needed an innovative product, technology, or process to even have been considered for our rundown.
Phys.org: Wind energy is to have a major share in the future renewable energy mix. The Germany-wide TremAc project is aimed at improving the planning, development, and acceptance of wind power plants and at developing objective criteria for their emissions. For this purpose, experts will study the interaction of acoustic and seismic vibrations of wind power plants and plan to generate a model to compute both emissions. TremAc is funded with EUR 1.85 million by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. "We want to compute the complete chain of effects from the plant to the population," Theodoros Triantafyllidis, coordinator of the TremAc cooperation project and Head of the Institute of Soil Mechanics and Rock Mechanics of KIT, explains. Within the framework of the TremAc cooperation project, a single chain is to be developed for modeling all vibrating plant components and the surroundings, i.e. the rotating rotor blades, drive shaft, gondola suspension and tower structure, foundation, and the ground, various topographic terrains and airflows as well as adjacent residential buildings and workplaces.
John Downey for Charlotte Business Journal: A Charlotte energy executive surveying the scene at the third day of the Energy Storage Association’s Annual Conference and Expo expressed satisfaction and a little surprise at the bustle and buzz the event produced. On a large scale, the conference put top storage developers and vendors together with power producers and systems operators looking for sparks. But there were interesting stories on a smaller scale as well. Here are a few of those quick shots:
David Szondy for GizMag : Sea-based wind farms are becoming a common sight in many parts of the world, but why not floating solar power stations? Engineers at the Vienna University of Technology foresee a future where platforms 100 m (330 ft) long and covered with solar panels float on even heavy seas thanks to a new floatation system called Heliofloat. Still under development, Heliofloat uses flexible, open-bottom floats that are capable of standing up to rough seas that would destroy such a platform sitting on conventional tanks. Solar energy has a great potential for helping solve the world's energy problems, but among the factors hindering its general application is that suitable land is not always available. Relocating panels offshore could make for installations of incredible size and generating potential, but the seas isn't always a placid place. Even relatively calm areas can suddenly become tempests with waves that can pound a floating platform to kindling in a matter of minutes. Cont'd...
Here is an account of something I stumbled upon on a visit to Munich last year which I hope will be of interest. The four laws without which nothing whatsoever throughout the universe that happens, happens.
Justin Worland for Time: Crescent Dunes looks and sounds a bit like an invention lifted from a science fiction novel. Deep in the Nevada desert more than 10,000 mirrors—each the size of a highway billboard—neatly encircle a giant 640-foot tower. It looks like it might be used to communicate with aliens in deep space. But the engineers and financiers behind the facility, located in the desert about halfway between Las Vegas and Reno, say the power plant’s promise is anything but fiction. The solar power facility built and operated by the company SolarReserve can power 75,000 homes. What sets it apart from other big solar projects is that this plant can store power for use when it is most needed, including cloudy days and after dark—a major advance for renewable energy technology. Cont'd...
PEG BRICKLEY and ANNE STEELE for The Wall Street Journal: Solar-energy Company SunEdison Inc. on Thursday filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, a dramatic move for a company whose market value stood at nearly $10 billion in July. SunEdison said its publicly traded entities, TerraForm Power Inc. and TerraForm GlobalInc., aren’t part of the filing. The two so-called yieldcos—separate entities that buy operating projects from developer SunEdison and pay out cash flow to their shareholders—said Thursday they believe they have sufficient liquidity to run their businesses and meet financial obligations, although SunEdison’s bankruptcy “will present challenges.” Bankruptcy has been a near-certainty for SunEdison for some time. The company borrowed heavily to buy up wind and solar developers, accumulating a pile of debt that worried investors. Disappointing earnings didn’t ease their fears about the pace of SunEdison’s growth, and an accounting move last year that reclassified more than $700 million worth of debt heightened anxieties. Cont'd...
According to the US Geological Survey, 66% of public water comes from surface water. Presumably some of that is pumped at some point, but even if only half of that were gravity fed, the potential for electricity production from municipal water pipes is significant.
Deterministic weather forecasts have their place, but probabilistic forecasts are the clear choice for alternative energy companies that take the weather seriously and need long-term data.
WattJoule Corporation, a developer of next-generation liquid electrical energy storage systems, has developed and built a new system demonstrating a major industry cost breakthrough. The new storage platform is called ElectriStor™ and will be offered to system integrators as the preferred core component for storing large amounts of solar and wind energy. One of the major barriers preventing the widespread adoption of large-scale energy storage has been cost. WattJoule has engineered the ElectriStor™ platform based on the redox flow battery concept where electricity is stored in a liquid. WattJoule's proprietary liquid electrolyte is mostly water, and the company has developed a new, inexpensive process to make it in large quantities. Early liquid energy storage systems have suffered from a number of technical and cost limitations. Recently there have been several technical breakthroughs to overcome these constraints. WattJoule has both developed and exclusively licensed key technologies that, in combination, dramatically lower energy storage costs to $150 per kilowatt-hour in its first-generation energy storage product. Full Press Release:
Brady Dennis for The Washington Post: The U.S. wind energy industry had a memorable 2015, from installing thousands of new turbines across the country to supporting a growing number of jobs. But perhaps one of the most noteworthy brights spots of the past year, according to an annual report released Tuesday by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), was the growing demand for wind energy from major corporations. High-tech firms such as Google Energy, Facebook and Amazon Web Services, as well as more traditional companies such as Procter & Gamble, General Motors, Walmart and Dow Chemical, have signed contracts to purchase increasing amounts of wind energy in coming years. Corporations and other non-utility customers — including some municipalities and universities — accounted for more than half of the wind power capacity sold through so-called power purchase agreements in 2015, according to the AWEA. The group said that corporate and other non-utility buyers have signed contracts for more than 4,500 megawatts of wind power capacity, or enough to power the equivalent of about 1.2 million American homes. Cont'd...
Universal access to renewably-generated electricity could be within the foreseeable future, with cleaner air and water as the side effects. Better public transportation systems will make life more enjoyable for commuters all over the country, as will a self-sustaining energy economy.
Sam Grobart for Bloomberg: There are 332,519,000 cubic miles of water on the planet. That's 352,670,000,000,000,000,000 gallons just sloshing around out there. Anyone who's ridden or been tossed by a wave has a sense of the kinetic energy contained in our perpetually moving oceans. If we could harness it, it could provide a clean, renewable source of energy. But efforts to turn our oceans into power generators—often in the form of "aqua-mills," windmill technology adapted to water—have foundered on the complexity of their many moving parts in the corrosive and remote environs of the sea. A new approach, developed by a company called Oscilla Power, applies all that kinetic energy to a solid piece of metal instead of using it to turn the blades of an impeller. That creates an alternating magnetic polarity in the metal that can be converted into electrical current. Oscilla's technology, which is nearly solid-state, may prove far more durable than any other ocean-power project, increasing the chance to draw power from our oceans cleanly, meaningfully, and endlessly. View video here:
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