U.S.-China smackdown: America No. 1 in wind power

Climate-conscious Americans have long glanced enviously across the Pacific to China and its ever-growing number of often-gargantuan wind farms.   It turns out that they have less to be jealous about than previously thought: The United States has more wind energy powering its grid than any other country in the world, says a report by EDF Renewable Energy, the largest third-party provider of operations and maintenance for wind renewable-energy projects in the country.   Though China has more megawatts of wind turbines installed than the U.S—about 90,000 to America's 60,000—the U.S. actually produces more electricity that is delivered to the grid, which in turn reaches more businesses and homes. And while China's wind industry delivered less than 138 billion kilowatt-hours in 2013, the U.S.'s delivered more than 167 billion.   That's 20 percent more than China. And the U.S.'s generation has been growing steadily since 2008, when it first overtook Germany to become the world's No. 1 producer.

Why Google, Microsoft and Yahoo are buying up wind energy

Google, Yahoo and Microsoft are part of a growing number of tech and other major companies that are entering into long-term “power purchase” agreements (PPAs) with wind farms to ensure a steady stream of power, at a fixed cost, over a period as long as several decades. Most recently, last month Yahoo signed such a deal for wind power in the Great Plains with OwnEnergy, a wind energy developer.   Google -- which is already carbon neutral and now trying to power itself with “100 percent renewable energy” -- has the longest history here. It has three PPA deals in the U.S. wind sector (in Iowa, Oklahoma, and Texas), and two more in Sweden. Microsoft, meanwhile, currently has two PPA deals with wind installments located near its data centers in Texas and Illinois. The agreements provide 285 megawatts of power to help drive both Bing searches and also its other online platforms, according to Brian Janous, the company’s director of energy strategy.   What these deals have in common is that they involve purchasing clean energy in close proximity to the power hungry data centers that these companies operate -- data centers that in turn drive searches, apps like Gmail and much more. “These are very energy intensive operations that these companies are planning on running for years, and they know they need electricity,” says Emily Williams of the American Wind Energy Association.

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." 

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