What if we could tap the power of the ocean to produce electricity? Companies including Lockheed Martin, Wavebob and OpenHydro are working on technologies to capture energy from waves, tides, currents and the ocean’s thermal gradients on a scale that could eventually make the sea a major contributor to the nation’s clean energy supply. Despite its promise, however, to provide continuous electricity — a benefit that solar and wind don’t offer — development of so-called “hydrokinetic” technology (relating to the kinetic energy of moving fluid) has run into technical and fundraising difficulties. For example, the California Utilities Commission rejected a power purchase agreement from utility Pacific Gas & Electric to buy electricity from a project by Finavera Renewables, saying the technology was too unproven and costly. So far, few studies have looked into the environmental impact of ocean and tidal power equipment worldwide. As researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Washington State explained recently, some of the limited studies have taken place outside the U.S., focusing on wildlife not commonly found in the estuaries and oceans hugging this country. Source: Josie Garthwaite – GigaOM
As the founder of CSP Today and organizer of the 1st CSP Today India conference in New Delhi, Belén Gallego is often asked about the future of the CSP industry in India. She has written a piece about the opportunities in the Indian market published recently in CSP Today. Having lived in India for 2 years, it is difficult for me to be impartial when assessing the opportunities in the CSP industry. I believe very firmly in the great capacity of Indians to learn fast and reduce costs –they are specialists in making things cheaper maintaining quality standards. Much as I try, I can´t think of anything that the CSP industry is more in need of. While last year there was very little talk of India becoming one of the biggest markets for CSP, today the question on everybody’s lips is: Will India be a bigger CSP power than China? From an economic and development perspective, India’s economy is performing very well, averaging 8.5% growth this year. Its growth rate could overtake China’s by 2013 - if not before - according to a recent article by The Economist. While China’s growth has been largely state-directed, India’s is driven by 45m entrepreneurs. Private firms have had to compete with the world´s best - and many have discovered that they can. Read full article here.
Rapidly declining equipment costs combined with stronger government support have set the stage for explosive growth in the US solar market over the next decade, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, the world’s leading provider of research and analysis in clean energy and the carbon markets. Solar-powered generating capacity – using photovoltaic and solar thermal electricity technologies – could reach 4.3% of the nation’s power capacity by 2020, depending on the industry’s ability to attract an estimated $100bn of investment. The US today has just 1.4 gigawatts of installed solar power capacity, ranking it fifth globally. But that could rise to 44 gigawatts by 2020, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. In a new report, forecast capacity from large-scale solar thermal projects is projected to rise from 0.4 gigawatts currently to 14 gigawatts by 2020. For photovoltaics, the group anticipates a 34% annual growth rate to 30 gigawatts by 2020. Full Story.
Recently a number of news stories and politically motivated TV ads have run across the country that falsely attack policies critical to keeping Americans working in wind power -- a bright spot in the economy, which has kept 85,000 Americans working during the recession. These stories and campaign ads have challenged renewable energy tax credits (the 1603 tax credits) which have been one of the most effective public policies in existence for saving American jobs. In the recession, project development and financing was difficult to obtain and costly. Many wind projects in mid-development could not complete financing. As a result, wind investment stalled with some projects stopping mid-construction; laying off construction workers and leaving wind towers and blades on the ground. The 1603 tax credit program restarted stalled projects and saved thousands of jobs at risk. Every job saved was an American job. 100% of projects that receive investment tax credits through 1603 are built in the U.S. as required by the Recovery Act. The program also supports America’s growing manufacturing and supply chain industries. U.S. wind turbine domestic manufacturing has grown 12-fold, with an increase in domestic content from 25% only a few years ago to over 50% now, and nearly 400 American manufacturing facilities making wind components. Full Press Release.
The California Energy Commission recently announced EV Connect, a leading provider of electric vehicle infrastructure solutions (EVISs) and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) will be conducting a pilot program to assess the integration of PEV’s into the transportation network and consumer behavior and ridership patterns. This pilot project aims to understand the viability of a PEV-transit network and establish best practices that optimize the consumer experience while reducing the carbon footprint of Los Angeles. The transportation sector alone accounts for 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the State of California, six percent higher than the national average. Completion of this project and its potential as a major transit component will further reduce priority air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions in the City and County of Los Angeles.
Silicon Valley start-up Bloom Energy, which makes fuel cell boxes that can power buildings , expects to be producing one of its boxes per day in the next few months, its chief executive and co-founder said. The main limitation on the growth of the business, since it is based on a new technology, is building a supply chain to feed it, Chief Executive K.R. Sridhar said yesterday. "As the supply chain is ramping up, then we can ramp up, and at no point will our internal capacity become the bottleneck," he told the Reuters Climate Change and Alternative Energy Summit in San Francisco. "If we don't plan it that way, then we get ahead of our headlights." The company, with about 500 employees, has 50 systems deployed and expects to have double that number working by the end of the year, said Sridhar, who wants to be producing far more boxes to meet what he calls "robust" demand. "I'm not patient by nature," he said. "Getting all the ducks lined up so that we can be making a lot more than one box a day, that's what I worry about." Bloom's boxes cost $700,000 to $800,000, and each provides 100 kilowatts of electricity--enough to power 100 average U.S. homes--with roughly the footprint of a parking space. Source: Reuters
The solar industry is a strong and growing segment of our national economy. Over the past ten years, companies that design, manufacture, sell, install, and maintain solar systems have emerged in all regions of the United States, providing tens of thousands of jobs throughout the country. These employment opportunities span numerous industries and occupational titles, from skilled laborers to customer service and sales representatives. In recent years, new technology, favorable legislative policies, and increased consumer demand for clean, renewable sources of energy have led to even more rapid growth of the solar industry. In fact, according to GTM Research, solar photovoltaic installations grew at a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 61% between 2006 and 2009. Despite gloomy general economic conditions in most sectors of our nation’s economy, the momentum generated by these trends has led to increased optimism about the potential for continued growth of solar jobs. Full story here.
Google Inc. has thrown its financial clout behind a proposed 350-mile underwater electric cable off the U.S. East Coast that could form the backbone of a grid carrying power from future offshore wind turbines. Japan's Marubeni Corp and New York investment firm Good Energies are joining in financing the project, which will be led by transmission-line developer Trans-Elect. The cable will help developers of offshore wind projects to surmount a major cost challenge -- connecting their turbines back to the grid in a way that allows them to sell to multiple customers. Google announced the move, which it called an investment in "a superhighway for clean energy" on its corporate blog . Google, an often-quirky company, said in late 2007 that it would begin to invest in companies and fund research into producing affordable renewable energy. It has also invested in onshore wind and solar energy. The Internet search giant did not disclose the anticipated cost of the cable, which would run from Virginia to New Jersey, but The New York Times reported it as about $5 billion . Source: MSNBC
LG Electronics Inc. announced the company’s entry into the North American commercial solar industry at the largest business-to-business solar conference in the western hemisphere, Solar Power International 2010 (booth 1143). The U.S. solar debut builds on LG’s global expertise in marketing solar panels for residential, rooftop and commercial applications while capitalizing on LG’s strong presence in the North American consumer and business-to-business marketplace, according to industry veteran Geoff Slevin, vice president, Solar Division, LG Electronics North America. Launching LG solar panels in the United States also represents a major milestone in the company’s plans to expand its global solar business to $2.4 billion by 2015. LG is investing $820 million over the next five years in its solar cell research and manufacturing to increase production capacity to more than one gigawatt. “The U.S. is one of the fastest growing solar markets in the world and is expected to grow significantly over the next several years, in part due to federal and state incentives,” said Slevin, who joined LG this year from Carlisle Energy Services and BP Solar. “LG’s commitment to solar in the U.S. comes at just the right time to meet market demand for solar power with high-quality, sustainable and innovative products that consumers and businesses alike have come to expect from a global technology leader.”
A new national poll shows that the vast majority of Americans overwhelmingly support development and funding of solar energy, and their support for solar has remained consistent over the last three years. These and other findings were reported today in the 2010 SCHOTT Solar Barometer(TM), a nationally representative survey conducted by independent polling firm Kelton Research. The survey found that 94 percent of Americans think it is important for the U.S. to develop and use solar energy. This strong support for solar remains unchanged since Americans were asked the same questions in the August 2009 SCHOTT Solar Barometer (92 percent) and June 2008 SCHOTT Solar Barometer (94 percent). (The difference is within the margin of error for these polls.) This support for solar power is consistent across political party affiliation with 92 percent of Republicans, 98 percent of Democrats and 94 percent of Independents agreeing that it is important for the U.S. to develop and use solar power. Furthermore, four out of five (80 percent of) Americans feel that Congress should reallocate federal subsidies away from fossil fuels towards renewable energy industries. Broken down by party affiliation, 86% of Democrats, 69% of Republicans and 81% of Independents feel this way. Americans understand the urgency of growing the solar industry themselves; nearly half (49 percent) of Americans currently considering solar power options for their home or business plan to make a decision in less than one year.
The solar industry will take over the Los Angeles Convention Center this week to showcase the latest technologies and discuss regulatory and project development and financing trends. Organizers of Solar Power International (SPI) expect to see roughly 25,000 attendees over three days. Here are five hot topics that you will no doubt hear about throughout the show: 1). Can’t Escape Politics 2). U.S. Market Now and Later 3). Emergence of CPV 4). Going Beyond Solar Electric 5). Energy Boosters and Sleeker System Designs Read the full article here.
Belkin today announced its Conserve Gateway, a router system that pairs with your smart meter to provide real-time insight about home energy use. Conserve Gateway delivers this information via a simple web interface. The interface allows people to easily track and reduce energy use in their homes and learn conservation tips. Further, it offers utility companies the ability to push information to Conserve Gateway with advice or calls to action, such as: “By using your dryer more efficiently, you can save up to $76 per year.” Its protocol was informed by extensive ethnographic research that proved most people don’t know what a kilowatt-hour (kWh) is and have even less of an idea about where power comes from. Both Google with the Google PowerMeter and Microsoft with Microsoft Hohm also offer real-time wireless internet energy monitoring services. Source: Belkins
VINALHAVEN, Maine — Like nearly all of the residents on this island in Penobscot Bay, Art Lindgren and his wife, Cheryl, celebrated the arrival of three giant wind turbines late last year. That was before they were turned on. “In the first 10 minutes, our jaws dropped to the ground,” Mr. Lindgren said. “Nobody in the area could believe it. They were so loud.” Now, the Lindgrens, along with a dozen or so neighbors living less than a mile from the $15 million wind facility here, say the industrial whoosh-and-whoop of the 123-foot blades is making life in this otherwise tranquil corner of the island unbearable. They are among a small but growing number of families and homeowners across the country who say they have learned the hard way that wind power — a clean alternative to electricity from fossil fuels — is not without emissions of its own. Lawsuits and complaints about turbine noise, vibrations and subsequent lost property value have cropped up in Illinois, Texas, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Massachusetts, among other states. In one case in DeKalb County, Ill., at least 38 families have sued to have 100 turbines removed from a wind farm there. A judge rejected a motion to dismiss the case in June. Source: New York Times
Solar power is coming to President Barack Obama's house. The most famous residence in America, which has already boosted its green credentials by planting a garden, plans to install solar panels atop the White House's living quarters. The solar panels are to be installed by spring 2011, and will heat water for the first family and supply some electricity. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the plans Tuesday in Washington at a conference of local, state, academic and nonprofit leaders aimed at identifying how the federal government can improve its environmental performance. Former Presidents Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush both tapped the sun during their days in the White House. Carter in the late 1970s spent $30,000 on a solar water-heating system for West Wing offices. Bush's solar systems powered a maintenance building and some of the mansion, and heated water for the pool. Obama, who has championed renewable energy, has been under increasing pressure to lead by example by installing solar at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, something White House officials said has been under consideration since he first took office. The decision perhaps has more import now after legislation to reduce global warming pollution died in the Senate, despite the White House's support. Obama has vowed to try again on a smaller scale. Source: MSNBC
According to the most recent issue of the "Monthly Energy Review" by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) , renewable energy sources (i.e., biofuels, biomass, geothermal, hydroelectric, solar, wind) provided 11.14% of domestic U.S. energy production during the first six months of 2010 – the latest time-frame for which data has been published. This continues the steady growth trend for renewable energy. Renewables accounted for 10.71% of domestic energy production during the first six months of 2009 and 10.35% during the first six months of 2008. Renewable energy sources provided 4.106 quadrillion Btus between January 1, 2010 and June 30, 2010 - an increase of 4.91% over the first half of 2009 and an increase of 8.37% over the first half of 2008. The largest single renewable energy source was biomass (including biofuels) which accounted for 50.66% of renewable energy production, followed by hydropower at 32.56%. Wind, geothermal, and solar sources provided 10.91%, 4.53%, and 1.32% of the total renewable energy output respectively. Moreover, renewable energy’s contribution to the nation’s domestic energy production is now almost equal to that provided by nuclear power. Nuclear power accounted for 11.19% of domestic energy production during the first half of 2010 - compared to 11.14% from renewables. But while renewable sources continue to expand, nuclear output in 2010 dropped - declining by 1.3% from its comparable 2009 level.
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