Brazil gives go-ahead to 31 solar parks in push for new energy

Brazil finally entered the solar power sector on Friday, granting contracts for the construction of 31 solar parks as it tries to diversify its sources of generation amid an energy crisis caused by the worst drought in eight decades.   Brazil's energy regulator, Aneel, concluded its first exclusive solar power auction on Friday, clinching 20-year energy supply contracts with companies that will invest 4.14 billion reais ($1.67 billion) and start to feed the national grid in 2017.   The 31 solar parks, the first large-scale solar projects to be constructed in Brazil, will have a combined installed capacity of 1,048 megawatts (MW). Market expectations were for projected total awards of 500 MW.   "This auction is a mark, not only because it signals the entrance of solar power in the Brazilian energy mix, but because it was one of the most competitive to date," said Mauricio Tolmasquim, head of the government's energy research company, EPE.   The auction lasted more than eight hours. The final price for solar power came at around 220 reais ($89) per megawatt-hour, against an initial price of 262 reais ($106), an 18 percent discount.   "This is one of the lowest prices for solar energy in the world," Tolmasquim said.

Siemens developing thermal energy storage system

Siemens is developing a system of storing thermal energy in rocks with the aim of using it to harness excess power from wind turbines. A spokesperson told Windpower Monthly that the project is in the early stages of development and there is no specific timescale for the construction of a prototype of the system.   He said the system would be scaleable for use on site at different projects.   The company was unwilling to reveal specific technical details about the process, but said it relied on established technology.   The storage of heat in rocks has been used as a method of energy retention for some time. But Siemens' system will transform the stored thermal energy back into electricity rather than use it for heating.   This would be done in a "conventional manner" the spokesperson said. The captured heat would be used to create steam to generate electricity through steam turbines.  

Power storage group Alevo plan 1bn US battery plant

Could a long-vacant cigarette factory in North Carolina build the rechargeable battery that will unlock the future of the clean energy economy?   The Swiss-based Alevo Group launched the new battery technology on Tuesday. After spending $68.5m (£42.5m) for the factory, the group said it would spend up to $1bn to develop a system that would get rid of waste on the grid and expand the use of wind and solar power.   The project, a joint venture with state-owned China-ZK International Energy Investment Co, aims to ship its first GridBank, its patented battery array, to Guangdong Province this year, going into production on a commercial scale in mid-2015.   The container-sized arrays store 2MW and would be installed on-site at power plants.   Jostein Eikeland, Alevo’s chief executive, said in an interview that the company had an agreement with the Turkish state power authority, and was in discussions with US power companies.   “It’s a gamechanger,” he said.   “If we can take some of the massive energy that is wasted today by mismanagement of the grid and inject it where it is needed, everybody wins,” said Eikeland.   Eikeland said the company would create 2,500 jobs at the factory in Concord over the next three years.

Hybrid Energy Sources for the Home

When considering hybrid systems composed of photovoltaic solar panels, geothermal, hydro or wind turbines, the whole is greater than its parts, but you need to understand the best type of energy generation that can be used in your area.

EPA 111(d) Clean Power Plan Could Increase Energy Efficiency Impacts, Net Benefits, and Total Value

This white paper takes a novel, nationwide approach to estimating an overall impact on emissions and cost. It sheds light on the role that energy efficiency can play as a compliance mechanism.

HEMOS Technology

Essentially, we're giving the solar panel a brain; the patented HEMOS chipset can be fitted in a typical junction of any solar panel. With it you can communicate directly with the panel and execute commands at the module level.

The State of the Solar Industry in North America

The recent surge in storage activity has its roots in a general consensus being reached by stakeholders that the technologies are on a path that will enable them to achieve the cost, performance, and reliability targets that have been promised.

2015 State Solar Power Rankings

Of the top ten states for solar, only New Mexico is what we would consider a traditionally "sunny" state. And most of the top ten is made up of northeastern states, which see plenty of wind, rain, snow, and clouds.

Energy in California Conference 2014

Being very involved in getting environmental permits to build renewable energy facilities, I am very interested in the question of how the industry is going to solve the grid integration issue. Since renewable energy is generated during daylight hours and the highest period of demand is in the evening, there is a mismatch.

Everything is Bigger in Texas - or not:
The State of the Texas Solar and Electricity Markets

Today, Texas only has 200 MW of solar capacity, less than New Jersey, Massachusetts, and a handful of other states.

California Electric Car Owners Can Get Cheaper Car Insurance

California could be at the forefront of these car insurance savings because it is one of the earliest adopters of clean cars (including Hybrids, Plug Ins & electric cars) in the nation.

SolarWorld announces expansions of solar panel and advanced cell production in Oregon

SolarWorld, the largest crystalline silicon solar producer in the Americas for nearly 40 years, announced that in 2015, it would add a solar-panel production line in Hillsboro to bring the panel-assembly factory's capacity up to 530 megawatts (MW), expand advanced cell production capacity by 100 MW and add 200 jobs.  "It is no secret that the last several years have been tough for SolarWorld and for U.S. solar manufacturers in general," SolarWorld U.S. President Mukesh Dulani said. "However, thanks to a variety of factors, including our trade cases against China, difficult but necessary financial controls and a fantastic group of employees, we have turned the corner. Today's announcement shows that SolarWorld is not only here to stay, but it also is ready to extend our leadership in the American solar manufacturing industry."    Dulani was joined at a morning news conference by U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance. Sen. Wyden received a commemorative plaque thanking him for his years of support for SolarWorld and its workers during the cases. He also spoke at a SolarWorld employee forum after the news conference. 

Sunrun, OutBack Power Pilot Renewable Energy Storage Systems For Homeowners

Sunrun, the largest dedicated residential solar company in the United States, today announced a partnership with OutBack Power Technologies, Inc. to pilot renewable energy storage-based systems for a select group of Sunrun solar customers. OutBack Power is a designer and manufacturer of power conversion systems incorporating energy storage for off-grid and grid-connected renewable energy applications. As part of the pilot, Sunrun will combine and test OutBack Power's technology consisting of weather-resistant batteries and inverters with home solar systems in both indoor and outdoor environments.  "It is now more affordable than ever for consumers to run their homes with clean power, and we strongly believe that the next evolution of solar as a service for our customers is home solar paired with energy storage," said Sunrun's chief operating officer, Paul Winnowski. "With OutBack Power, we will further our commitment to providing customized and affordable home solar that allows customers to be a part of the solution for building a clean, modern grid that provides power when it is needed the most." 

Why Is There So Much Confusion About "Small Wind"?

Have you ever noticed energy blogs or articles about small wind turbines comparing them directly with big wind technology and solar? I am writing this article to provide a little background on where small wind turbines can be very successful and where they make absolutely no sense. It also explains why the market for “Small Wind” is vastly different from that of “Big Wind.”   First of all, “Small Wind” has been defined by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) as any turbines under 100 kW of rated power. As we all know, 100 kW wind turbines aren’t small! Therefore, others have decided to define them as anything up to 10 kW. For the purpose of this article, we use the same definition as AWEA, up to 100 kW. Full Article:

Battery Backup for Rooftop Solar Power Systems Too Costly

Using batteries to retain energy from rooftop solar systems will be too expensive for at least two years, according to industry executives.   That means homeowners who add solar panels to save money on utility bills will continue to lose electricity during blackouts, even after an 80 percent decline in battery costs over the past decade.   Residential solar systems typically send power to the grid, not directly to the house, and don’t run the home during a blackout. For batteries to save consumers money, stored energy must be drained daily, said Jamie Evans, who runs the U.S. Eco Solutions unit for Panasonic Corp., which supplies lithium-ion cells for Tesla Motors Inc.   “Solar will need storage for grid stability,” Evans said yesterday in an interview at the Solar Power International convention in Las Vegas. “Battery costs need to come down and regulatory structures have to change to really scale up.”   As residential solar become more common from California to New York, utility grids will increasingly become stressed without storage to ease supply and demand imbalances, he said.   For now, that means battery storage only makes economic sense for large businesses that get hit with extra fees when their power usage exceeds utility expectations.  

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