Obama to challenge private companies to boost solar power use

President Obama will challenge companies Thursday to expand their use of solar power, part of his ongoing effort to leverage the power of his office to achieve goals that have been stymied by Congress. The new initiative comes as the White House is hosting a Solar Summit aimed at highlighting successful efforts on the local level to speed the deployment of solar energy.   Although some large solar plants are coming online and it is the fastest-growing source of renewable energy in the United States, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, it accounts for roughly 1 percent of the nation’s electricity generation.   “Now is the time for solar,” said Anya Schoolman, executive director of the Community Power Network, a Washington-based nonprofit group that helps communities build renewable energy projects. She will be honored at the summit Thursday.   “The costs are affordable, in reach of middle America and above. We know how to do it now, we know how to scale it, and we kind of just need people to let it go and encourage it,” she said.   In an effort to make it easier for state, local and tribal governments to expand their solar portfolios, the Energy Department is launching a $15 million-dollar “Solar Market Pathways” program.  

Global Wind Power Capacity Projected To Nearly Double In 5 Years

Asia is now leagues ahead of other regions within the global wind market. Furthermore, this market is expected to grow at an annual cumulative capacity rate of more than 10 percent over the coming five years. A recent Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) report shows other significant wind energy markets of the past few years have slowed in comparison. However, overall global growth of wind energy will remain firm with a hopeful measure of expanding growth again. The wind market for 2013 was an “off” year. Less wind energy capacity was installed in 2013 than in 2012. This disappointment saw the biggest drop in the market’s relatively short life. From 1996 through 2013, annual installed capacity for wind grew at an average rate of more than 20 percent.

CA Lottery Hits Jackpot with Solar and Ice-based Energy Storage

The Pavilion of CA Lottery Uses Ice Storage and Solar Panels to Achieve Net Zero.

Developing Renewable Energy Projects on Brownfields: Mitigating Environmental Risks & Liabilities

Although the environmental risks and liabilities associated with brownfields generally diminishes their viability as locations for such facilities, these risks and liabilities can often be sufficiently controlled and minimized through governmental and private party tools to make certain projects worth pursuing.

Half of power plant capacity additions in 2013 came from natural gas

But Solar came second - twice as much as coal - and Wind was 4th (comment from AltEnergyMag)

Why Oil Industry Estimates for Energy Reserves Can Be an X-File

Hopefully, we won't have to deal constantly with misinformation like Mulder and Scully had to when jousting with their malevolent arch-nemesis, the Cigarette Smoking Man. However, be prepared to do some digging to get at the facts.

Distributed Generations Future Impact on the U.S. Capacity Markets

As variable, distributed generation increasingly becomes a prevalent source of generation in regions, changes in capacity market dynamics will have a profound impact on generating assets and their future economic viability.

Solar Tracking Technology

The demand for trackers has expanded significantly in recent years as more reliable and cost-effective solutions come to market. According to a recent study by Transparency Market Research, the global installed capacity for solar trackers is estimated to reach almost 9 GW by 2020.

Trees go high-tech: process turns cellulose into energy storage devices

The new approach just discovered at Oregon State can produce nitrogen-doped, nanoporous carbon membranes - the electrodes of a supercapacitor - at low cost, quickly, in an environmentally benign process.

The Benefits of Power Optimizers

Power optimizers are a module-level power electronics (MLPE) solution that can be affixed on-site or embedded during the manufacturing process as a replacement for the junction box.

NextEnergy Drives Investment in Advanced Energy Technologies in Michigan

The global energy future is not about a single technology, it's about a mix of core and enabling technologies that provide a portfolio of options to meet different consumer needs in different settings.

Finding Solutions For Battery Sulfation Issues In Renewable Energy Applications

While the recent news about carbon has been touted as something that can drastically improve the overall performance of the flooded lead acid battery, the facts should be completely understood before buying these types of batteries with any carbon additives, especially if they are sold as a value added feature.

MIT, Harvard scientists study how to produce solar power without sunlight

A team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University are working on a technology that wouldn't require sunlight to produce solar power. The team is developing a material that can absorb the sun's heat and store the energy in a chemical form, ready to be released "on-demand," according to a release. The technology could be used for heating buildings, cooking or other uses where heat, rather than electricity, is the desired output. In a release, researchers describe the technology behind the system: "Some molecules, known as photoswitches, can assume either of two different shapes, as if they had a hinge in the middle. Exposing them to sunlight causes them to absorb energy and jump from one configuration to the other, which is then stable for long periods of time.

GTM Research - Chinese solar-panel prices rising 20% in the U.S.

The price of Chinese-made solar panels delivered to the U.S. could increase by up to 20% by the end of the year, GTM Research said Thursday. The increase is due to supply constraints, rising input costs, and the ongoing trade dispute between the two countries, the Boston-based green-energy consultancy said in a report.  Chinese-made modules are significantly cheaper than those made in other areas, and GTM Research estimated they were 55% of total modules shipped to the U.S. last year.  Chinese firms are quoting modules at 80 cents to 85 cents per watt for delivery in the second half of the year, compared to 70 cents per watt at the end of 2013, the report said.  The ongoing U.S.-China trade case is the "primary driver" behind the price increase, the report said.  More duties on Chinese and Taiwanese solar modules would push up U.S. pricing beyond current levels, as the firms would pass on tariff-induced penalties onto customers or contract out cell and module production to vendors based in higher-cost countries such as India, South Korea, and Malaysia, GTM Research said. 

Celebrating The 60th Anniversary Of The First Practical Solar Cell

Sixty years ago on April 25, 1954, Bell Laboratories demonstrated to the world one of the most significant breakthroughs ever recorded in the history of solar energy and of electricity – the first solar cell capable of converting enough sunlight into electricity to generate useful amounts of power. The press watched in awe as light poured on the first watt of silicon to run a 21 inch Ferris wheel. The next day the  New York Times  stated on its front page that the Bell invention marked “the beginning of a new era, eventually leading to the realization of one of mankind’s most cherished dreams – the harnessing of the almost limitless energy of the sun for the uses of civilization.” At the time of the Bell announcement, all the solar cells in the world delivered about one watt. Today, more than 100 billion watts of generating capacity of photovoltaics have been installed worldwide. This year not only marks the 60th anniversary of the solar cell, but also the beginning of reaching the Holy Grail that had previously been only a dream of solar scientists – entering the Era of Grid Parity, when solar panels generate power at costs equal to or less than electricity produced by fossil and nuclear fuels. With the phenomenal growth of solar technology in the last several years and its future looking even brighter, the time is ripe to celebrate the founding of a technology that led  Science  magazine almost forty years ago to declare, “If there is a dream solar technology, it is photovoltaics ­­­solar cells … a space­age electronic marvel at once the most sophisticated solar technology and the simplest, most environmentally benign source of electricity yet conceived."

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