AES Betting On Lithium-Ion Batteries for Long-Duration Energy Storage

When it comes to storing energy at the scale of the power grid, lithium-ion batteries have a lot of advantages -- and, critics say, some significant drawbacks. Sure, lithium-ion is the dominant battery chemistry for consumer electronics and electric vehicles, which helps drive down costs and improve bankability for grid projects (see Tesla’s Giga factory for an example of how this future could unfold). And yes, they’ve been proven in many grid-tied projects around the world. But there are two questions that continue to dog the potential for lithium-ion batteries at grid scale. Can they provide hours of energy at a time to serve grid needs, and can they last for the decade or more required for cost-effective grid use when they’re being discharged so deeply, over and over, day after day?   Cont'd...

A fully transparent solar cell that could make every window and screen a power source

Researchers at Michigan State University have created a fully transparent solar concentrator, which could turn any window or sheet of glass (like your smartphone’s screen) into a photovoltaic solar cell. Unlike other “transparent” solar cells that we’ve reported on in the past, this one really is transparent, as you can see in the photos throughout this story. According to Richard Lunt, who led the research, the team are confident that the transparent solar panels can be efficiently deployed in a wide range of settings, from “tall buildings with lots of windows or any kind of mobile device that demands high aesthetic quality like a phone or e-reader.”   Scientifically, a transparent solar panel is something of an oxymoron. Solar cells, specifically the photovoltaic kind, make energy by absorbing photons (sunlight) and converting them into electrons (electricity). If a material is transparent, however, by definition it means that all of the light passes through the medium to strike the back of your eye. This is why previous transparent solar cells have actually only been partially transparent — and, to add insult to injury, they usually they cast a colorful shadow too. Cont'd..

Politics Threatens World's Largest Solar Power Project

An unpopular government’s legacy has become a burden for the new one, which could potentially lead to the scrapping of what has been planned as the world’s largest solar power project.   The Rajasthan state government in India has reportedly asked the central government to scrap plans to set up a 4,000 MW solar photovoltaic power project. The state government claims that the proposed project will threaten thousands of migratory birds that flock near the proposed project site every year.   Sources close to the government, however, claim that the Rajasthan Chief Minister is not too keen to pursue a project that had been planned during the tenure of the previous government, which was led by the United Progressive Alliance.   The proposed project is supposed to come up near Sambhar Lake in eastern Rajasthan. Officials of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy claim that about a fourth of the planned project area has been listed as environmentally and ecologically sensitive, and that area had already been excluded.   According to reports, the state Chief Minister wants to scrap the 4,000 MW solar power project, and pursue an ambitious state-directed solar power policy. Gujarat, under now-Prime Minister Narendra Modi, had earned global limelight after it established one of the largest solar power farms. To date, Gujarat continues to lead all Indian states in terms of installed capacity.

What You Need to Know Before You Invest in Solar Energy

olar energy is one of the greatest investing opportunities of our generation with well over a trillion dollars in annual market potential around the world. But with all that potential comes tremendous risk, particularly as new technologies emerge. Over the past decade, we've seen solar technologies rise and fall and companies have risen and fallen along with them. Now that this industry is competing with fossil fuels on a cost per kW-hr basis it's important to look at what technologies dominate the industry and what investors should be betting on in the future.   Massive solar farms like this one from SunPower are now competitive with other energy sources on the grid, opening up a huge opportunity for the solar industry. Source: SunPower. Silicon solar, the leader in the clubhouse   The vast majority of solar panels today are made using silicon semiconductor technology. At its core, this technology has been around for decades, it just hasn't been efficient or cheap enough to be economically viable versus the grid. But that's changed in the last few years as panel prices have plummeted below $1 per watt. Inside a silicon solar cell the sun's energy excites the semiconductor, knocking an electron loose. If properly built, a cell then captures that electron and turns it into a voltage potential and electric current.   cont'd..  

Solar Power Poses Lower Risk to Birds Than Cats or Cars

Solar-thermal power plants in the U.S. are less likely to kill birds than automobiles, cats or communication towers, despite reports that say the facilities pose a significant threat to avian life.   There were 321 “avian fatalities” in the first half of this year at the 392-megawatt Ivanpah solar project in Southern California, according to a statement Aug. 19 from NRG Energy Inc. (NRG), which co-owns and operates it. Of those, 133 were scorched by heat produced by the plant.   That’s far fewer than reported in an Associated Press article on Aug. 18. It cited federal wildlife investigators who estimated that one bird was burned every two minutes by concentrated sunlight at the Mojave Desert power plant.   The estimates for birds killed by solar power are “inflated,” NRG spokesman Jeff Holland said in an interview.   A greater risk comes from cats, which are estimated to kill hundreds of millions of birds each year. Cars are responsible for about 60 million deaths, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and communication towers add another four million to five million. Wind turbines killed 573,000 birds in 2012.

Solar panel shortage looms even as manufacturers invest in production

The solar industry is bracing for a global drought in photovoltaic panels after a series of high supply years that pushed prices to all-time lows and encouraged installations. Solar panel adoption is supposed to increase as much as 29% this year, which has top manufacturers and installers anticipating a drop in availability of panels. This would be the first such shortage since 2006 when the nascent solar energy industry was just taking hold, reported Bloomberg News. Eight years ago, only about 1.5 gigawatts of solar energy capacity was installed. This year as much as 52 gigawatts is expected to be hooked up and another 61 gigawatts in 2015, according to estimates by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. That is compared with about 70 gigawatts of production capacity currently available, though that estimate could be high since some manufacturers’ equipment is out of date or obsolete. The shrinking supply could hinder the growing rooftop solar panel industry. The scarce supplies often get routed to larger-scale utility projects and leave the residential side with limited availability.

Value of Solar Versus Fossil Fuels - Part 1

The value of solar power is being debated across the country by regulators, utility companies, and solar energy providers as distributed generation is increasing. This Energy and Policy Institute series consists of four separate reports summarizing recent developments, while providing recommendations for policy makers.

Q2 2014 Solar Energy Deal Volume Comparison

Lincoln International is pleased to present you with the latest DealReader from our global Renewable Energy Industry group.

Top 20 high-cost oil projects risk wasting $91 bln of investor cash

The study aims to alert institutional investors to the risks of investing in projects which depend on sustained high prices to make a return, and that are as a result exposed to a future double hit of falling oil prices and growing climate regulation in an increasingly carbon-constrained world.

Combining the Advantages of Module-level Power Electronics and String Inverter Topology

This product innovation provides benefits of module-level monitoring while avoiding all the complication, costs and disadvantages of existing module-level products.

Ways to Build Skills Among Renewable Industries' Workforce

For renewable energy industries, it is important that project knowledge, industry awareness and organizational savvy be captured within the organization so it can be easily shared with incoming employees.

Crescent Dunes - Bottling the Sun

These videos feature the stories of those who are working to construct the plant, the perspective of the residents of Tonopah (where the project is located), as well as an explanation of the technology of this revolutionary solar plant.

Upcoming Tradeshow, Conference & Exhibition Summary
September, October, November 2014

This year Solar Power International has moved to October. SPI is perhaps the most important show for the solar industry here in North America.

Converting Waste to Energy - The Big Cover-Up

Since biogas can be used as fuel to generate electricity, the city wanted a means to reliably collect biogas from the BVF® reactor to recover the energy while also controlling odors and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Latest Studies Open New Doors in Solar Power Utilization

With constant innovations hitting the frontiers of solar power research, two recent studies provide a glimpse of new opportunities in way we are harnessing this source of energy.

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