IKEA of energy delivers clean, green solar power-plant in a box

Richard Kemeny for New Scientist:  Here’s a bright idea for flat-packing. A German start-up has figured out how to cram an entire solar power plant into a shipping container. It has sent its first kits to off-grid villages in Africa, where they provide a new source of clean, affordable electricity after just two hours of assembly. More than 620 million people in sub-Saharan Africa have no access to electricity, a situation that can keep people in poverty. And population growth means this number is rising. Those with access tend to rely on inefficient diesel generators, chugging along with crippling financial and environmental costs. Despite that, diesel is standard for off-grid energy. “If there’s no diesel, there’s no electricity”, says Rolf Kersten of the start-up, Africa GreenTec in Hainburg, Germany, which shipped its first solar generator to Mali in December last year.   Cont'd...

Missouri is about to experiment with power from an unlikely source - its roads

BRYAN CLARK for TheNextWeb:  Part of its ‘Road to Tomorrow Initiative,’ Missouri’s Department of Transportation is teaming with Solar Roadways, an Idaho-based startup (seriously, what’s going on in Idaho?) to cover an undetermined length of Historic Route 66 with road-ready solar panels. Blair also told The Star that the bulk of its efforts will be crowdfunded. After receiving a $100,000 grant from the Federal Highway Administration to build a prototype, and a pair of $750,000 research grants from the US Department of Transportation, the group has raised more than $2 million of its own to complete the project through acrowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. Solar Roadways’ panels are tempered safety glass that are as strong as they are efficient. In addition to harnessing energy from the sun, they also come with LED lighting to effectively replace road lines and signage. While obviously more expensive to install upfront, the panels do have the benefit of being completely modular, which would allow for quick and cheap repairs by just swapping out the broken panels rather than re-paving entire stretches of road.   Cont'd...

Are Microgrids Catching On?

The real trick to opening the floodgates on microgrids is clear regulatory language that allows microgrid developers to serve the needs of an organization or community while also making the local electric utility whole for their services and investment.

24M's Batteries Could Better Harness Wind and Solar Power

Elizabeth Woyke for MIT Technology Review:  Lithium-ion batteries power everything from smartphones to electric vehicles. They’re well suited to the job because they are smaller and lighter, charge faster, and last longer than other batteries. But they are also complex and thus costly to make, which has stymied mass adoption of electric transportation and large-scale energy storage. Yet-Ming Chiang thinks his startup 24M has the answer. The key is a semisolid electrode. In a conventional lithium--ion battery, many thin layers of electrodes are stacked or rolled together to produce a cell. “Lithium-ion batteries are the only product I know of besides baklava where you stack so many thin layers to build up volume,” says Chiang, who is a cofounder and chief scientist at 24M as well as a professor of materials science at MIT. “Our goal is to make a lithium-ion battery through the simplest process possible.”   Cont'd...  

Tesla has just put in an offer to acquire SolarCity

Johana Bhuiyan for Recode:  Tesla’s board of directors has just sent an offer to acquire SolarCity to the company’s CEO. In other words, the electric car company Elon Musk is the CEO of just offered to buy the solar company Elon Musk is the chairman of. In the letter, sent to SolarCity co-founder and CEO Lyndon Rive, Tesla’s board of directors offered to buy all of SolarCity’s remaining common stock in exchange for Tesla’s common shares. That’s $26.50 to $28.50 a share, according to the board. The stock-for-stock deal amounts to about $2.8 billion based on where Tesla stock was trading before the proposal was announced. As of yesterday, Musk personally owns 22,160,370 shares of SolarCity. So if the respective boards of each company approves the acquisition, Musk would personally reap $587,249,805 to $631,570,545. Tesla’s move to acquire the solar company will help Musk in his goal of accelerating the world’s transition to using completely sustainable fuels in transportation.   Cont'd...

The "Redox" Principle

The energy density of the nanoFlowcell® is currently 20 times higher than that of a lead accumulator. This means the stored energy provides a range 20 times higher than with a battery of the same weight.

Very Large Lithium-ion Batteries

In the case of the relatively new market for very large, ground-based lithium-ion battery packs for such things as grid peak shaving, weight is not a primary issues, volume can matter somewhat but life, cost over life, performance and reliability matter greatly.

Siemens, Gamesa merge to create wind power giant

From DW.com:  Spanish renewable energy group Gamesa has agreed combine its wind power business with those of Germany's Siemens in a deal that will create one of the world's largest makers of wind turbines. In a note to the Spanish stock market regulator on Friday, Gamesa said it had reached the necessary "corporate approval for the potential integration of Siemens' wind business," with the final terms of the deal still needing to be agreed upon.  The announcement followed months of negotiations between the two companies and it comes as demand for wind power surges as countries develop more renewable energy to comply with emissions cut targets.  Although no price tag has so far been put to the merger, financial news agency Bloomberg reported that Siemens would pay around one billion dollars (890 million euros) to Gamesa as part of the operation.  The German engineering group would hold a majority stake of 59 percent of the new wind venture, Bloomberg said, citing people familiar with the matter. Gamesa's biggest shareholder, Spain's biggest power company Iberdrola, would have a 20 percent stake in the new firm, according to Spanish media reports.   Cont'd...

Electric Utilities Prepare for a Grid Dominated by Renewable Energy

Julia Pyper for GTM:   A growing number of electric industry leaders agree that it’s only a matter of time before renewable energy resources dominate their grid systems. In California, it’s already a reality, said Steve Berberich, president and CEO of California Independent System Operator Corporation. On a typical day, CAISO will pull about 30,000 megawatts of energy production, with around 6,500 megawatts from solar, 5,000 megawatts from wind and another 5,000 from geothermal and other services on the system. In addition, California’s grid system has roughly 4,000 megawatts of behind-the-meter solar, which is growing at a rate of about 70 megawatts per month. In any given day, California gets more than 30 percent its electricity from renewable energy. On many days that amount climbs to 40 percent, and on some days renewables reach 50 percent, said Berberich. “Now we have to think about the system as a renewable energy-based system complemented by other things,” he said, speaking at the Edison Electric Institute’s annual convention this week in Chicago.   Cont'd...

With Skilled Volunteers and a High-Performing Kyocera Solar Array, Fallbrook Seventh-day Adventist Church Slashes Energy Costs

The 30kW grid-tie system uses 126 Kyocera solar modules and is currently supplying more power to the grid than the church consumes.

Coal and Gas to Stay Cheap, but Renewables Still Win Race on Costs

This year's edition of BNEF's long-term forecast sees $11.4 trillion investment in global power generation capacity over 25 years, with electric vehicles boosting electricity demand by 8% in 2040.

Virtual Power Plants Get Around Solar Power's Intermittency Problem

Richard Martin for MIT Technology Review:  Attempting to harness the power of distributed rooftop solar installations to make its grid more flexible and reliable, New York utility Consolidated Edison is launching a pilot program this summer to link dozens of small solar arrays into a single, software-connected power plant. The utility is working with solar power developer SunPower and energy storage company Sunverge to create a “virtual power plant”—a network of distributed assets that functions as a unified resource on the grid. The project will include 300 homes with a combined total of 1.8 megawatts of solar capacity and batteries that can store up to four megawatt-hours of electricity, enough to run 300 average U.S. households for about 10 hours.   Cont'd...

State of the Market: Wind Power Projects in Egypt

The broad range of wind energy project sizes and locations in Egypt demonstrates the increasing importance of the country as a renewable energy producer, supplier, modular manufacturer, skills trainer and investment opportunity.

Solar Signage Board

Since they have to be lit up at night, the advantages of using independent solar modules and inbuilt battery have many advantages.

New Solar Cell Device Surpasses Theoretically Predicted Efficiency Limit

Thomas Burton for Energy Technology Matters:  A team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) published a paper last week in the journal Nature Energy that described how they built a working solar thermophotovoltaic device (STPV) that enables solar cells to break through a theoretically predicted ceiling on how much sunlight they can convert into electricity. With this revolutionary new technology, the researchers show the potential of how solar panels can generate even more energy than theoretically determined by harnessing some of the panels’ waste. To learn more about the STPV technology, read on! Since 1961, the Shockley-Queisser Limit established an absolute theoretical limit on traditional solar cell efficiency regarding energy conversion. A single-layer of silicon cells—the type of cells most widely used in today’s solar panels—has an upper limit of 32 percent. But currently, researchers are studying ways to increase this overall efficiency by using multiple layers of cells or converting the sunlight first to heat before generating electrical power. This latter method uses devices called STPVs, which the MIT team used in their study.   Cont'd...

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