Why The Debate Over Energy Storage Utterly Misses The Point

The quest for "The Holy Grail of Energy Storage" is doomed to fail.

Strange bedfellows: Solar power meets oil drilling

A company that uses solar energy to recover crude has scored big financing from some major oil players—and highlights a growing niche of global oil exploration.   GlassPoint Solar last week landed a $53 million investment from Royal Dutch Shell and the sovereign investment fund of Oman for its enhanced oil recovery (EOR) technology. In a twist of irony, GlassPont's technology runs on solar power, which produces steam to help pump more fossil fuel from conventional crude plays.   GlassPoint has been using this technique in Oman since 2012, and it helped the firm score more than double its initial funding. Given the age of its oil fields, Oman relies on EOR—a complex process that extracts more oil than traditional drilling—to boost production.   Although EOR is common to the oil industry, using the power of the sun "is expanding very rapidly, and is a very new technology" said Rod MacGregor, GlassPoint's CEO, in an interview. "This application looks like the next step for solar."

World's Largest Single Rooftop Solar Power Project Commissioned In India

Indian solar energy companies are fast delivering world-class solar power projects as the market expands based on favorable regulatory and policy outlooks.   India’s largest engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) company in the solar power market has just commissioned the world’s largest single rooftop solar photovoltaic power project. The 7.52 MW solar power plant has been commissioned in the northern state of Punjab.   Larsen and Toubro has been involved in the construction of several solar power projects that will be seen as major milestones in India’s solar power infrastructure expansion. The company reported that it has already commissioned or is working on solar power projects with total capacity of 400 MW. This includes the largest solar thermal power plant in Asia – Reliance Power’s 125 MW linear Fresnel power project located in Rajasthan. The company has also worked on several other solar power projects under the National Solar Mission.   Punjab has some of highest power tariffs in the country. Being an agricultural state, power supply to the farmers is of paramount importance, while industries and commercial users are low on the priority list. In the absence of adequate supply, the utility procures power from short-term markets, which increases the overall costs which, in turn, is passed on the industrial and commercial consumers.

UC makes largest solar-energy purchase by U.S. higher education institution

The University of California announced Monday that it signed two power-purchase agreements that, combined, will provide 206,000 megawatt hours of solar energy per year — the largest solar energy purchase by any higher education institution in the U.S.   This energy is equivalent to powering 30,000 homes and will avoid producing more than 88,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. The initiative will provide power for UC Irvine, UC San Diego and UC San Francisco, along with their medical centers, in addition to UC Merced and UC Santa Cruz.   Mark Byron, the university’s wholesale electricity program manager, described the purchase as a “nexus” with UC President Janet Napolitano’s sustainability initiative, which was released November. One of the main components of the initiative is to be carbon neutral by 2025.   “By injecting solar energy, we’re making sure our portfolio comes from green energy,” Byron explained.   The university signed the 25-year agreements with Frontier Renewables, a San Mateo-based company focused on solar energy technology. Two solar fields will be built in Fresno County as part of the project.

Sharp Considering Sale Of U.S. Solar Energy Unit

Sharp Corp is looking to sell its U.S.-based solar energy development unit Recurrent Energy, Bloomberg reported on Monday, as the Japanese firm winds down its involvement in the solar industry to focus on profitable businesses. Sharp paid $305 million in cash in 2010 to acquire Recurrent Energy. Selling the company now would help Sharp to raise capital as it struggles to raise its equity ratio to a healthy level. This year, Sharp shut down its UK solar plant and also pulled out of a venture with Italian energy firm Enel SpA  to make solar panels and generate solar power.

Flexible solar cell woven into fabric

Wearable electronics are quickly becoming the fashion. And there could soon be a way to power those electronics indefinitely, now that scientists in China have developed a solar cell 'textile' that could be woven into clothes. The textile retains a power-generation efficiency close to 1% even after been bent more than 200 times, and can be illuminated from both sides.   Scientists have been looking into flexible solar cells for decades, partly for coating irregularly shaped objects but also for integrating into wearable fabrics. One popular line of investigation has been dye-sensitized solar cells, in which a pigment absorbs sunlight to generate electrons and their positive counterparts, holes, before passing on those charges to inexpensive semiconductors. These solar cells are cheap and flexible, but the liquid nature of their pigments means that they must be well sealed. Bend a dye-sensitized solar cell more than a few times and the seals are likely to break, destroying its light-harvesting properties.   That is why Huisheng Peng at Fudan University in Shanghai and colleagues have been exploring another option: polymer solar cells. Although their maximum efficiencies fall below 10% - about half that of crystalline silicon, the most prevalent solar cell - polymer solar cells are lightweight, flexible and easy to manufacture. Peng and colleagues' solar cell textile consists of microscopic interwoven metal wires coated with an active polymer (to absorb the sunlight), titanium dioxide nanotubes (to conduct the electrons) and another active polymer (to conduct the holes). The researches coated each side of the textile with transparent, conductive sheets of carbon nanotubes, which complete the circuit.

Value of Solar Versus Fossil Fuels - Part 2

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.

Energy Sources in a Disaster

Businesses need to invest in back-up renewable power systems to insure that they can continue working during and after a disaster. With such installations, businesses can prevent interruption losses caused by grid failure.

Unlikely Bedfellows: Mines That Run On Solar Or Wind Power

As mining companies continue to evaluate their power options in an era of higher diesel fuel and electricity costs, it is interesting to contemplate whether they could one day foresee operating in an environment more weighted towards renewables than conventional energy.

White Lists: A Proactive Approach to Risk Reduction for the Bioenergy Industry

As more species and cultivars are proposed to help meet the substantial renewable energy needs of our nation, more risk assessments will be necessary to identify the truly green renewable alternatives to petroleum-based energy sources.

6 Reasons Why Energy Efficiency Programs Fail

Amongst the numerous measures the world has taken to wean itself off the fossil fuels, only a few have been successful in making the businesses, homes and vehicles more energy efficient. Various psychological and financial barriers have kept governments and organizations from realizing the actual potential of energy efficiency programs.

Tilapia Village: Net Zero Ranch Style Pocket Village Community

A sustainable small pocket neighborhood development alternative to the traditional subdivision housing model and even to the standard condo / townhouse model.

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.

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