Wind Power Developers Race Clock to Secure Subsidy

As the rest of the world prepares to toast the new year, the wind industry is hard at work on its own year-end tradition, rushing to make sure projects qualify for an important subsidy before it is set to vanish at the stroke of midnight on Tuesday. Developers are signing deals, ordering equipment and lurching ahead with construction starts to qualify for a tax credit that is worth 2.3 cents a kilowatt-hour for the first 10 years of production. This month, giant turbine-makers like Vestas and Siemens have announced major new orders, including a deal worth more than $1 billion with MidAmerican Energy, an Iowa-based utility majority-owned by Warren E. Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, and another with the Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound. In previous years, the projects had to be in commercial operation by New Year’s Eve. This year, they need only have begun. “What we see right now is a race to the finish line, where we’re trying to get projects signed,” said Mark Albenze, chief executive of the Wind Power Americas unit of Siemens Energy. “It’s a little bit of a different dynamic, whereas in ’12 our projects teams were the ones stressing out in December and now it’s our acquisition team.”  

Google Glass Does Solar Panel Installs in the California Sun

You might think of Google Glass as one of those tech creations that’s more intriguing than practical. You might see computerized eyewear as a Silicon Valley nerd fantasy that’s unlikely to change the way the rest of the world works. You would not be alone. But that’s not how Michael Chagala sees it. Chagala is the director of IT at Sullivan Solar Power, which is slipping Google Glass onto the heads of the field technicians who install its solar panels atop homes and businesses across Southern California. Because every building is unique, these field techs need ready access to all sorts of specs and plans describing the job at hand. In the past, they’ve carried three-ring binders onto the roof, but those are so hard to handle — particularly when the wind is blowing pages. They’ve lugged laptops up there too, but that comes with its own problems, including, well, the sun. So Chagala and company are switching to Glass, allowing their techs to browse documents simply by looking through the eyewear. For the most part, they can do this without using their hands — though you do have to tap the side of the glasses to move from doc to doc. “When you have someone on a roof, safety is your primary concern,” Chagala says. “Having both hands free is significant.” Lead by Chagala, the company has built a custom Glass app that taps into a database housing its customer records, information about particular job sites, and its inventory of parts and equipment. But its technicians also will use other tools available with the eyewear. A field worker can, say, call headquarters with questions or transmit live video of a roof installation to get some feedback. Read Full Article at Wired.com

New Solar Panel Sensor Addresses Fire Risk

“There was a fire on a building in Munich which had solar panels and the Munich Fire Department let it burn to the ground,” rather than risk injury to its fire fighters, said Henson. Realizing that this could potentially become a recurrent problem in a geographic area that is  reliant on solar power, the fire department approached TOPinno and asked for its help finding a way that the solar panels could be disabled in cases of fire. The result was a small sensor, or fuse, that is placed between the panels and monitors the heat of the photovoltaic unit while subbing as a manual shut-off switch for emergency situations. “The moment the fuses are broken due to the heat, the voltage will go down to below 120V, which is the legal requirement to be able to use water to extinguish the flames,” says TOPinno GMBH’s  General Manager, Raymond Huwaë. But first responders needing to access the roof because of a fire inside the building (such as in Delanco, New Jersey or Munich, Germany) would also have the option of disengaging the fuse manually. “Currently we are negotiating with the UL Laboratories in Illinois USA, to have the fuse UL certified,” said Huwaë. Full Article:

New geothermal technology could produce 10 times the electricity using CO2 from fossil fuel plants

The idea starts with the liquid carbon dioxide which is increasingly envisioned as a solution to global climate change. The CO2 is captured at the source from fossil fuel burning electrical generation facilities. For efficient storage, the CO2 is compressed into a liquid, which can be pumped deep into the earth, to be trapped in the same porous rock beds which once provided oily reservoirs. But instead of just storing the CO2 underground, the COS would feed what is described as a "cross between a typical geothermal power plant and the Large Hadron Collider." Liquid CO2 would be pumped into horizontal wells set up in concentric rings deep in the earth. Carbon dioxide flows through the porous rock bed deep in the earth more quickly than water, collecting as much heat more easily. More importantly, the CO2 expands more than water when heated, so the pressure differential between the CO2 pumped into the ground and the heated CO2 is much greater than the pressure differential of the water making the same loop. The amount of energy that can be generated depends on this pressure differential -- and is therefore substantially greater in CPG than in traditional geothermal plants. The CO2 expands so much that the pressure alone can carry the heated CO2 back to the surface, an effect referred to as a "thermo-siphon". The thermo-siphon makes the use of pumps for recovering the hot CO2 unnecessary, reducing the energy costs required to generate the geothermal electricity for a higher overall efficiency.

Siemens wins world's biggest onshore wind power order

Siemens won an order to supply 448 wind turbines with a total capacity of 1,050 megawatts (MW) to U.S.-based MidAmerican Energy, which the German engineering group said was the largest single order for onshore wind power ever awarded. The wind turbines, with a nominal rating of 2.3 MW each and a rotor diameter of 108 metres, are to be installed in five different projects in Iowa, Siemens said in a statement on Monday. Siemens said it would also be responsible for service and maintenance of the wind turbines. Siemens did not provide any financial details of the transaction. By a rule of thumb, one megawatt of onshore wind capacity sells for 1 million euros ($1.37 million).

Geothermal Energy: A Resource Waiting To Be More Fully Tapped

A discussion covering the geothermal context, power generation, ground source heat pumps and geothermal's potential for the future.

How Cities can reach 100% Renewable Energy.

It's like having a blueprint to build a house, rather than just buying appliances, walls, and other parts. It is important to set out with a plan for what you want to end up with.

VOTO - Charging Batteries in a Fire

One half of the VOTO is a fuel cell and the second half is a handle which has a light, cell phone adapter and nickel-metal hydride battery to store energy.

Is our current approach to energy sustainable?

It seems that we've proven ourselves exceptionally able in arguing with one another. The time for that has passed. Nature will act if we don't.

Using Microbes to Produce Biofuel

Liquid fuels derived from plant biomass are one of the best alternatives if an inexpensive means of commercial production can be found. Major research efforts are focusing on fatty acids, which are the energy-rich molecules in living cells that have been dubbed nature's petroleum.

Big Data for Solar

Helping Fleet Managers Streamline Operations and Management Functions

Permanent Magnet Alternators for Wind Turbines

Permanent magnet alternators are very compact compared to asynchronous generators and allow simplified mechanical integration thanks to being direct-driving by the rotor.

SunPower Testing Batteries to Store Solar Power

SunPower Corp. (SPWR), the second-largest U.S. solar-panel maker, is testing power-storage systems in three countries to complement its residential systems, its chief executive officer said. The company is evaluating batteries in Germany, Australia and California and expects to have a product to sell to customers within the next couple of years, Chief Executive Officer Tom Wernersaid today in an interview at Bloomberg’s New York headquarters. Adding batteries to residential solar systems would let people power their homes at night with electricity generated during the day, decreasing demand for energy from the grid and creating a threat to utilities’ revenue, Werner said. California will require utilities to use storage by 2020 and Germany introduced incentives in May to promote wider use of the technology. “In the near term, we’re driven by policy,” he said. “In the long-term it’s economics.” The company, based in San Jose, California, gets at least 25 percent of its revenue from photovoltaic panels that end up on consumers’ rooftops. SolarCity Corp. (SCTY), which provides rooftop solar systems, began offering lithium-ion battery storage units made by Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA) last week.

U.S. Solar Industry Records Second Largest Quarter Ever

GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association® (SEIA®) today released U.S. Solar Market Insight: 3rd Quarter 2013, the definitive analysis of solar power markets in the U.S., with strategic state-specific data for 28 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.  The U.S. installed 930 megawatts (MW) of photovoltaics (PV) in Q3 2013, up 20 percent over Q2 2013 and 35 percent over Q3 2012. This represents the second largest quarter in the history of the U.S. solar market and the largest quarter ever for residential PV installations. Even more importantly, 2013 is likely to be the first time in more than 15 years that the U.S. installs more solar capacity than world leader Germany, according to GTM Research forecasts.  "Without a doubt, 2013 will go down as a record-shattering year for the U.S. solar industry," said Rhone Resch, SEIA president and CEO. "We've now joined Germany, China and Japan as worldwide leaders when it comes to the installation of new solar capacity. This unprecedented growth is helping to create thousands of American jobs, save money for U.S. consumers, and reduce pollution nationwide. When it comes to preparing for America's future, clean, dependable and affordable solar energy has become the ‘Little Engine That Could,' defying expectations and powering economic growth – and, frankly, we're just scratching the surface of our industry's enormous potential." 

Invest in solar power for just $25

In the last few years peer to peer lending and crowdfunding have blossomed. While it's great to crowdfund the latest cool product that lets you cut down on using plastic or turns your regular bike into e-bike, it's infinitely cooler tocrowdfund the shift to renewable energy. Mosaic calls itself an online marketplace for solar. Basically the company provides debt financing to solar projects and lets individual and institutional investors buy shares in a project until it is funded. When projects are complete, the company sells power to a solar customer via a long-term contract, and shares returns of approximately 4.4 - 6.36% with its investors. Investment capital is paid back along with the interest over a 5 - 10 year period. Now Mosaic wants to take that concept to larger number of potential investors with a new incentive - the company will give new investors $25 once they make their first investment (minimum investments are $25). Once a new user sets up a Mosaic account and finds a qualified project to invest in, Mosaic will add $25 to the amount invested.

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