Massachusetts to open area the size of Rhode Island to offshore wind power

Massachusetts Deval Patrick and U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced plans for a new proposed offshore wind power area of more than 742,000 acres, or 1,160 square miles, which would make it about the size of Rhode Island (1,214 sq-miles). This new area, where space would be auctioned in 4 different leases, would nearly double the federal offshore acreage available for large wind energy projects. Secretary Jewell said that the government has learned from the Cape Wind offshore wind project in Nantucket Sound, which faced over a decade of opposition and lawsuits, and have picked a spot farther from the shore that should not be as contentious. "We put in zones that we believe have both high potential and lower conflict," Jewell said. "But it's going to actually get down to a specific construction plan on a specific site and (an environmental) analysis to determine what people want to do economically and what that impact is going to be.  

SolarCity is trying to become the Apple of solar power

SolarCity is already the largest installer of residential solar panels in the United States. Now the company is going a step further, buying up solar manufacturer Silevo and planning to build one of the world's biggest solar-panel factories in upstate New York. The immediate goal here is vertical integration. The company, which was co-founded by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, wants to handle all aspects of the solar supply chain, from design to manufacturing to sales to installation. It's basically the Apple model — only for solar panels. But SolarCity's ultimate aspiration is to drive down prices dramatically. In a call on Tuesday, Musk said that the aim was "to have solar power compete on an unsubsidized basis with fossil-fuel energy from the grid." (The company was also founded by brothers Lyndon and Peter Rive, who currently run it.) Is that doable? SolarCity has had success with its current business model — offering rooftop solar systems at no upfront cost to customers who make monthly payments spread out over many years. The company now handles 25 percent of all US residential solar installations — and is aiming for 1 million customers by 2018. This latest move means SolarCity will be able to produce its own panels for these systems and try to lower its costs even further.  

Maintaining Satcon Inverters

When Satcon, the former inverter manufacturer, closed shop, Photon Energy moved quickly and hired key technical personnel.

Solar Monitoring Q&A with Locus Energy

The growth of distributed PV is showing no signs of slowing down, and with it solar monitoring is set to grow as well.

ABB Grows in the Solar Industry

The longer term players in the industry have definite roadmaps that focus on achieving the goal of making solar power competitive over the long term.

How Upsolar America Sees the Future of the PV Industry

The biggest trend we're seeing in the U.S. is the development of new tools to help customers overcome the financial hurdles of going solar.

Leave the Gas at the Station:
Electric Cars Charge into the Future

Unsure about whether electric cars are here to stay or whether they are the best choice for your needs? Here is everything you need to know about these cost-efficient, environmentally friendly, and ever-improving wonder vehicles!

Buffett to double his $15 billion solar, wind investments

Warren Buffett is ready to double his $15 billion investment in renewable energy, according to reports.   Speaking at the Edison Electric Institute’s annual convention in Las Vegas Monday, Buffett described how he had briefly lost track of how much Berkshire Hathaway had invested in the sector and  needed a reminder from a deputy. Buffett said he responded “there’s another $15 billion ready to go,” according to Bloomberg News.   Buffett’s investments include wind farms in Iowa as well as solar farms in California and Arizona.   Buffett also vowed to keep investing in utilities. The sector may not make you rich, but it will keep you rich, the legendary investor was quoted as saying in another report.   Berkshire Hathaway’s MidAmerican Energy last year bought two co-located solar-power projects that combined are the largest solar project in the world.  Last month, MidAmerican said it will supply Google Inc. facilities in Iowa with electricity from wind power.

The most efficent wind turbine

A new windmill design loosely based on Archimedes’s screw principle, aims to change this, however. A Dutch startup aptly named The Archimedes has re-worked the concept of the windmill to move away from the traditional concept of using the pressure differential between the front and rear of the device to move the rotors.   The Liam F1 Urban Wind Turbine, modeled after a Nautilus shell, measures about 1.5 meters wide and weighs 75 Kg — an ideal size for installation in a residential setting. The turbine is rated to achieve an efficiency “80 percent of the maximum that is theoretically feasible."   According to the creators, the device is designed to provide enough electricity to power an apartment or small home. “The Liam F1 generates an average of 1,500 kilowatt-hours of energy [per year] at a wind-speed of 5 m/s [16.4 ft/s], which resembles half of the power consumption of a common household.” The Liam can even adjust to wind direction, which enables it to maximize power generation even with changing conditions.   The Liam is priced at Eur 3,999 or about US$ 5,450 and will start retailing by July 1st. The Archimedes says it has sold 7,000 units in 14 countries so far. The company says it has undertaken field tests for efficiency and power generation “over 50 times,” in which it has achieved its rated output and efficiency.  

Making Solar Panels in China Takes Lots of Dirty Energy

Manufacturing solar panels can be a dirty business, from the mining of raw materials to the chemical-laced process of purifying silicon to the assembly of silicon wafers.   Solar energy is a renewable source, of course, but it’s essential to examine the full supply chain to gauge its total environmental impact. One potential concern is the use, containment, and disposal of toxic chemicals. Another is the energy-efficiency of the manufacturing process and the source of the energy used.   Researchers at Northwestern University and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory recently examined the solar panel production process in different locations and published their findings in the July issue of the journal Solar Energy. “We estimated that a solar panel’s carbon footprint is about twice as high when made in China and used in Europe, compared to those locally made and used in Europe,” says Fengqi You, a co-author of the paper and an assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering at Northwestern. “While it might be an economically attractive option to move solar panel manufacturing from Europe to China, it is actually less sustainable from the life cycle energy and environmental perspective.”   The primary differences, the researchers found, are the less stringent enforcement of environmental regulations in China coupled with the country’s more coal-dependent power sector. “It takes a lot of energy to extract and process solar-grade silicon,” says co-author Seth Darling. “And in China, that energy tends to come from dirtier and less efficient energy sources than it does in Europe.”

Intersolar North America 2014 - Special News Report

News announcements from show. Open for exhibitors - publish your news here.

Powering NASA'S Off-grid Operations

Planetary Power's HyGen is a complete reinvention of the diesel generator that combines innovations in renewable energy, battery storage and engine efficiency for a robust power generation platform.

Learn About Three New Finance Models for Non-Profits Wanting to Go Solar

REC Solar has developed new solar financing partnerships that are tailored to the needs of non-profits, such as churches, hospitals, HOA's, and charitable organizations.

Energy Star Certified Homes in the US

Texas leads the ENERGY STAR certified homes in 2013 and continuing its leading position in Q1 2014.

U.S. Residential Solar PV Installations Exceeded Commercial Installations for the First Time in Q1 2014

Driven by strong year-over-year growth in the utility and residential markets, the United States installed 1,330 megawatts of solar photovoltaics (PV) in the first quarter of 2014. According to GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industry Association’s (SEIA) Q1 2014 U.S. Solar Market Insight Report , the U.S. installed 232 megawatts of residential PV, exceeding the non-residential (commercial) market’s 225 megawatts for the first time in the history of the report. Ongoing strength in the residential sector and volatility in the non-residential market spurred this historic milestone. Despite the dip in non-residential installations, GTM Research and SEIA expect the market to rebound and exceed the residential market in 2014 annual PV installations. In another significant development, Q1 2014 was the largest quarter ever for concentrating solar power (CSP) due to the completion of the 392 megawatt (AC) Ivanpah project and the Genesis Solar project’s second 125 megawatt (AC) phase. With a total of 857 megawatts expected to be completed by year’s end, 2014 is on pace to be the largest year for CSP in history. “Solar accounted for 74% of all new U.S. electric capacity installed in Q1 2014, further signaling the rapidly increasing role that solar is playing in the energy market,” said Shayle Kann, Senior Vice President at GTM Research. “Expect to see a resurgence in the non-residential market, combined with continued incremental residential growth, throughout the rest of this year.” Not to be outshone by the success of the residential sector, the utility PV market continued its dominance, growing 171% between Q1 2013 and Q1 2014. With 873 megawatts installed, it accounted for two-thirds of total installations during the quarter. Large-scale projects that were under contracts and negotiations between 2010 and 2012 are now becoming a reality.

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