NASA is testing solar panels that unfurl like Fruit Roll-Ups in space

Sarah Fecht for Popular Science: The experiment is set to fly to the space station this week

Tesla's Solar Roof Is Finally Ready For You to Buy

Tom Randall for Bloomberg: Elon Musk says orders will begin today. Pricing details have yet to be revealed.

Gigantic Wind Turbines Signal Era of Subsidy-Free Green Power

Jess Shankleman , Brian Parkin , and Anna Hirtenstein for Bloomberg: Offshore wind turbines are about to become higher than the Eiffel Tower, allowing the industry to supply subsidy-free clean power to the grid on a massive scale for the first time.

Record-breaking solar panel converts more than a quarter of sunlight into electricity

Ian Johnson for Independent: A record-breaking solar panel that can convert more than a quarter of the sunlight it receives into electricity has been developed by researchers in Japan.

Innovative tidal technology gets $4.6 million funding

Anmar Frangoul for CNBC:  The European Commission has awarded 4.4 million euros ($4.63 million) in funding to a European tidal energy consortium to demonstrate innovative technology for tidal turbines. The consortium, led by Scotland's Nova Innovation, will use the funding to demo and show a "direct drive power take-off (PTO) solution" for tidal turbines. According to Nova Innovation, this technology could help to cut the lifetime cost of tidal power by 20 percent. The project will be known as TiPA (standing for Tidal turbine Power take-off Accelerator) and run for 36 months. Organizations involved in the project include Siemens, the University of Edinburgh, and Delft Technical University, among others.   Cont'd...

Scientists invented a battery that could work for a decade without degrading

Mike Wehner for BGR:  Energy storage degradation in rechargeable batteries is a pretty serious problem that many of us put up with on a regular basis. It’s why your iPhone seems to last forever when it’s brand new out of the box but seems like it dies by lunchtime after a couple of years of use. Now, researchers at Harvard have developed a new battery technology using a bit of chemistry magic to create a rechargeable power source that could be tapped for many years with very little in the way of maintenance. Energy storage degradation in rechargeable batteries is a pretty serious problem that many of us put up with on a regular basis. It’s why your iPhone seems to last forever when it’s brand new out of the box but seems like it dies by lunchtime after a couple of years of use. Now, researchers at Harvard have developed a new battery technology using a bit of chemistry magic to create a rechargeable power source that could be tapped for many years with very little in the way of maintenance.   Cont'd...

Catch wave power in floating nets

Zhong Lin Wang for Nature:  Nature provides three sources of energy for free: sunlight, air and gravity. Solar and wind power are increasingly exploited, gravity less so. Hydraulic power plants harvest energy from flowing rivers. Tidal energy can be gathered along some inlets and coasts. But few places are suitable for dams or barrages, which can also damage the environment. By contrast, oceans cover about 70% of Earth’s surface. Wave energy is plentiful day and night, whatever the weather. Capturing it requires little land and raises few safety or security concerns. Yet hardly any of this ‘blue energy’ is being generated. Today’s wave farms produce no more than 1–10 megawatts at any one time, enough to power a town. No commercial wave farms currently exist.   Full article:  

Tidal Power Can Make the U.K. a Green Energy Leader

Mark Gilbert for Bloomberg:  The U.K. government is mulling whether to support a 1.3 billion pound  ($1.6 billion) proposal to build a tidal lagoon in South Wales. It should stop dithering and subsidize the project to help meet the country's green energy goals, produce cheaper power, and establish Britain as the world leader in technology that harnesses the power of the tides to generate electricity. The U.K. lost its energy independence in 2004, and now depends upon imports to meet about half of its energy needs. And while the contribution from renewable energy sources has climbed to a bit less than 10 percent from about 1 percent at the start of the last decade, the U.K. commitment to reduce carbon emissions to 57 percent of their 1990 levels by 2030 means even less electricity needs to come from coal-fired power plants.   Cont'd...

Science Plant a Wind Tree in your neighborhood to generate energy from low-speed wind

Bruce Brown for Digital Trends:  These trees do more than just add ambiance. Harnessing the wind to generate electrical energy usually brings to mind thoughts of huge land- or ocean-based wind farms consisting of huge towers with two or three blades, each more than 100-feet long, on the top. The size, weight, noise, and vibration of industrial wind turbines restrict their use to large open spaces. Newwind, a French startup, has developed a much smaller, urban-space-friendly “Wind Tree,” reports Electrek. The Wind Tree, which produces sufficient energy to power small buildings or streetlights, is designed to connect to a nearby energy storage system. The trees are each about 30 feet tall and 26 feet in diameter, and weigh approximately 5,500 pounds. Each tree has 54 Aeroleafs mounted vertically on tree branches. The Aeroleafs are 3.2 feet high and, spinning at optimum speed, are capable of generating 65 watts each. So, a tree with 54 leaves has an energy-generation capacity maximum of 3,510 watts (3.5kW), about the same as a small home solar installation.   Cont'd...

How Flushing your Toilet could help create Biofuel

Laura A. Shepard for Popular Science: Picture a giant toilet bowl looming larger than life outside the UN headquarters in New York. It sounds like an absurd scene, but the stunt from three years ago was not a childish prank. It was a serious statement to mark the first World Toilet Day and raise awareness of the fact that one third of the world's population lacks access to toilets. Addressing the global sanitation crisis is a top priority among the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, and it now has an exciting solution. In fact, science may soon make your toilet bowl a viable alternative energy source. Your flushes can produce two or three gallons of biofuel per year when the wastewater is treated using a process, developed scientists and engineers at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, called hydro-thermal liquefaction (HTL). HTL emulates the way crude oil forms naturally, when biomass decays under high pressure and heat for millions of years - but it only takes 45 minutes. Cont'd...

The First Tidal Generator in North America Is Now Online

Avery Thompson for Popular Mechanics:  The first tidal generator in North America has gone online this month in the Bay of Fundy, and is expected to generate enough electricity to power 500 homes. While most hydro generators harness the energy of falling water, or the energy of the waves, tidal power uses the energy of the high and low tides. At the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia, which has the largest tides in the world, that energy is being harnessed to generate 2 megawatts of electrical power. In the Bay of Fundy, the difference between high and low tide is about 56 feet. Approximately 115 billion tons of water flow in and out of the bay every tidal period. Two renewable energy developers, OpenHydro and Emera, decided to build turbines on the seafloor that could harness that power.   Cont'd...

A Danish Wind Turbine Maker Harnesses Data in a Push to Stay Ahead

Stanley Reed for The New York Times:  A project to install hundreds of wind turbines in the Fosen peninsula area of Norway at one point was shelved as unfeasible. The strong breezes that whip off the sea can shift and swing unpredictably, while the soaring cliffs and steep drop-offs create turbulence that wears out expensive equipment. The venture was rescued with a lot of help from the mathematical calculations of Vestas Wind Systems, a Danish wind power company.  Vestas used data to figure out how to use more powerful turbines for the project, and precisely where to place them. That meant the utility developing the facility could buy fewer turbines, helping cut costs and balancing the economics of the $1.2 billion project. The company is at the forefront of efforts to make wind a competitive source of energy, rather than just a subsidized experiment. In doing so, it has become a model for the renewables industry, which has struggled at times to remain viable while facing cuts to government subsidies and volatile oil and gas prices.  Vestas understands the fickleness of the renewable energy business.   Cont'd...

Obama makes new push on solar power

Timothy Cama for The Hill:  The Obama administration is making a new large-scale effort to encourage deployment and use of rooftop solar power on homes. Numerous agencies announced new or strengthened coordinated efforts Tuesday aimed at increasing solar installations in houses owned by low- and moderate-income Americans, including a new goal for solar installations and a policy change to increase access to a key financing mechanism for solar power and energy efficiency. “This is an approach that cuts across the government to try to take advantage of the fact that the cost of renewable technologies has come down dramatically during President Obama’s tenure, and we want to advantage of that a try to encourage more homeowners to actually benefit directly from that dynamic,” Brian Deese, a top adviser to Obama, told reporters. The administration is dubbing the effort the “Clean Energy for All Americans Initiative.”   Cont'd...

Scripps Vessel Proves Viability of Renewable Fuel on 14,400-Mile Voyage

Chris Jennewein for Times of San Diego:  A Scripps Institution of Oceanography research vessel has demonstrated the viability of renewable fuel by traveling 14,400 nautical miles over a 16-month period on renewable diesel. The R/V Robert Gordon Sproul used a hydrogenation-derived renewable fuel called NEXBTL Renewable Diesel developed by Neste Oil in Finland. The experiment began in September 2014 and ran through December 2015, during which time the vessel used a total of 52,500 gallons. “Part of the Scripps mission is to protect the environment, and one of the most significant changes that we could make in our ship operations involved moving toward the use of cleaner, renewable fuels,” said Scripps Associate Director Bruce Appelgate. “As scientists, we know we need to develop sustainable means of powering our ships to address pollution concerns as well as to mitigate future increases in fossil fuel costs.” Renewable biofuel is nearly carbon-neutral and produces cleaner emissions, thus decreasing greenhouse gas emissions and improving air quality relative to fuels derived from petroleum.   Cont'd...

SolarCity pushing industry to 40% increase in useful lifetime of solar power installations

John Fitzgerald Weaver for Electrek:  In a new report released by SolarCity, we are seeing that solar power systems have a usable lifetime of at least 35 years – 40% longer than the market expects. The key finding of the report is that power degradation (annual efficiency loss) of solar panels supplied to SolarCity is as much as 35% lower than for a comparable industry-wide selection of non-SolarCity panels, which are typically expected to last for 25 years. SolarCity feels it is the implementation of a stringent and industry-leading “Total Quality Program” that has driven this. SolarCity is in the unique position of being one of the largest deployers of solar panels – from multiple manufacturers – in the world, and with their tens of thousands of systems connected to a central database they know realtime performance. In the study here, SolarCity looked at greater than 11,000 panels to determine their data points and come to their conclusion that their solar panels are performing well beyond expected industry standards.   Cont'd.. .

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