Friday, June 15, 2012

Latest from: CleanTechnica

Latest from: CleanTechnica

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Citizens Group Looking to Buy Berlin Grid (to Integrate More Renewable Energy)

Posted: 15 Jun 2012 05:19 AM PDT

 
Apparently, a citizens group in Berlin is looking to buy the capital city’s electricity grid. The group, Bürger Energie Berlin (BEB), wouldn’t be the first to do such a thing. As noted in this post on the documentary Power Play, Germans in the village of Schönau bought their grid decades ago and turned the area into a renewable energy leader. However, my guess is that this would the biggest such community grid purchase if it went through (correct me if I’m wrong).

BEB “has told Berlin’s Senate (as the City Council is called in the capital) that it is interested in buying the local power grid,” Craig Morris and Sven Ullrich of Renewable International writes. “The current contract with Sweden’s Vattenfall expires in 2014, and a new contract may be awarded in the next few months.”

Right now, BEB is in the process of collecting funds for the likely purchase.

“All citizens are invited to take part in a community purchase of the power grid in accordance with their financial leeway,” BEB announced. “We have already collected more than €1 million,” explains Lukas Beckmann, a supervisory board member at BEB. The group expects to need an equity ratio of 40%, with the rest coming from loans. Shares will not only be sold to residents of the German capital, but to anyone willing to invest at least €500. Nonprofits and private companies can also purchase shares. Indeed, power provider Schönau, from a community in southern Germany that got the ball rolling decades ago by purchasing its own local grid, already has a stake in BEB. Regardless of the number of shares purchased, everyone will have a vote in the general assembly to ensure that large investors do not dominate or take over smaller ones. BEB says it is also open to the idea of a partnership with the municipal government and would also work with a grid partner. But BEB says it will not work with any of Germany’s Big Four power firms “because they do not share our goals for energy supply.”

“We support the integration of renewables in the grid, distributed energy supply, and smart grids,” explains BEB board member Cornelia Ziehm. “In particular, smart grids are especially important in switching to renewables,” Ziehm adds. “But only those grid operators who are truly committed to this switch will ensure that our current grids are revamped.”

Talk about taking matters into one’s own hands! Kudos to these totally awesome Germans (Berliners, to be specific). Just another reason for me to love that wonderful city.

 

 

Note, however, that this is not a done deal yet. Here are the rest of the details from Morris and Ullrich:

“If the BEB gets the contract, it says it will devote at least 10% of profits to setting up an energy supply focusing on renewables. The rest will be paid back to shareholders. But even if BEB gets the contract, it is still not clear how much Berlin’s grid will cost. The city Senate put the figure at around 400 million euros, but Vattenfall says it is worth around three billion euros. The BEB says the latter figure is completely off the mark and points out that the Swedish power giant purchased the grid in 1997 from Berlin’s former municipal power firm Bewag for 1.17 billion euros – including the district heating network and power plants for electricity and heat production. Vattenfall has yet to provide any information about the condition of the grid, but the BEB expects this information to be made available before the contract is awarded.”

Source: Renewables International
Images: Berlin gendarmenmarkt market & Berlin birds-eye view via Shutterstock


Home Solar Power Storage — Another Option

Posted: 15 Jun 2012 04:49 AM PDT

 
In addition to the home storage option recently announced by Panasonic, below is another story about a some storage option that could greatly benefit those with cheap solar power on their rooftops in Germany (and some other locations). This is a full repost from the awesome site Renewables International:

At the ZSW's solar test field in Widderstall, researchers conducted long-term tests on the Sol-Ion storage system. Photo: ZSW

Researchers in a Franco-German project have come up with a power storage system that considerably increases direct consumption from roof arrays. Such applications are becoming increasingly important in countries like Germany, which has implemented a kind of real-time net-metering called “own consumption.”

As a part of the Franco-German Sol-Ion research project, scientists at Baden-Württemberg’s Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research (ZSW) in Stuttgart have come up with a new storage system for solar power. In a test building, they were able to increase “own consumption” – solar power used directly within the household without being exported to the grid – by 26%. The ZSW says the amount of energy stored in the new system covers the average power demand in a single-family home of four people in the evening. In other words, the system turns fluctuating, intermittent solar power into a source of energy that can be consumed as need be.

The Sol-Ion storage system is about the size of a normal household freezer. It contains the power inverters needed for the solar array as well as a battery charge rectifier, both of which have a nominal output of five kilowatts. The system also contains electronics for device controls, which the researchers optimized. They then collected data during various long-term tests over six months. Lithium-ion batteries with a useful storage capacity of 6 kilowatt-hours are the centerpiece of the system.

In the long-term tests, the researchers demonstrated that the battery’s capacity was utilized to a great extent. Power came from a 5.1 kilowatt array on a carport. “Even from February to mid April 2012, the battery was charged with four kilowatt-hours of solar energy on the average, and it was often even full,” says Michael Powalla, head of photovoltaics at ZSW. “We look forward to seeing the results in the summer. When the sun shines for a long time, the energy stored can suffice from the late evening until sunrise,” Powalla says.

Such technology has moved into focus particularly since the current governing coalition announced that it will only be offering feed-in tariffs for 80% of the solar power produced. The remainder is to be consumed directly. Rough calculations show that investments in PV rooftop arrays pay for themselves for homeowners under this policy regardless of the returns from feed-in tariffs. After all, the feed-in tariff of 19.5 cents for a kilowatt-hour of solar power is much lower than the retail rate in Germany, which ranges between 23 and 25 cents. And the lower feed-in tariffs drop, the more “own consumption” pays for itself. At the same time, the cost to society would be lower if only feed-in tariffs were offered; essentially, the “own consumption” policy pays homeowners a bonus to invest in storage systems and tailor their consumption to their own power production.

But up to now, power storage systems have been the main obstacle because they remain expensive. The bonus paid for “own consumption” does not currently suffice to pay for battery systems. If this problem is not solved in the next few years, the policy of “own consumption” might not allow Germans to install more photovoltaics then without the policy. “At present, the average household can only consume around 30% of its solar power directly without some kind of storage system,” estimates Powalla – and that level is considerably greater than the 20% currently required by law. But the law could change and require more direct consumption.

The only way that consumers can respond without storage is to have some appliances – such as washing machines and refrigerators – run mainly when the sun is shining, but there are no such appliances on the market at the moment. For the time being, the only way to increase direct consumption is to store as much solar power as possible in the afternoon for consumption in the evening and at night. Unfortunately, the policy of “own consumption” is still limited to solar power; no such bonuses or incentives are offered for wind power (not even for small generators in backyards) or to people without solar roofs who nonetheless wish to adjust their consumption so that more photovoltaics can be installed. (Sven Ullrich / Craig Morris)


iPhone App Rewards You for Bicycling & Walking (in UK)

Posted: 15 Jun 2012 04:33 AM PDT

 
A cool new iPhone app from Recyclebank, re:route, rewards you simply for traveling by foot or by bike. “Whether your route is quicker, better for the environment or gets you burning more calories, you’ll earn points towards all sorts of treats – from haircuts and hotels, to shopping and spa days,” the company writes. “You’ll earn 75 points just for linking the app to your Recyclebank account.”

There are many, many reasons to travel by foot or by bicycle, and this just adds on to those.

Afraid the process would be too complicated? Well, it seems that it’s not. Recyclebank’s “1-2-3 guide” for using the app is as follows:

Hmm, that looks pretty simple.

Apparently, you actually have to do a tad more than that — you enter your destination in the app; it provides you with some walking or bicycling options; and you choose one.

Aside from rewarding you for your green travel, the app also tells you how many calories you should burn along such routes.

The app is currently just available for the iPhone but should be coming to Android phones within a few months.

Hopefully the app will be available beyond the UK soon.


Friday Fun: Real Rydaz

Posted: 15 Jun 2012 03:52 AM PDT

 

This is just a fun, feelgood video that I think anyone can enjoy, but especially any bicycle lovers. While I can’t say I’m inclined to put money into a bike so decked out as these, I think you have to appreciate them. And it’s certainly nice to see the very supportive, loving community that has formed around them. Personally, I think that’s related to the beauty and human-focused quality of bicycles, but it’s obviously related to other matters (the humans in this community) as well. Here’s the video:

And, via the League of American Bicyclists, where I ran across this video: “For more info on the Real Rydaz and the awesome work they do in their community, click herehere, and here.”

Here are some more screenshots from the video above, so you can take a closer look at some of these bikes:

Apparently, 30 individuals make up the Real Rydaz. Pay them a visit if you’re in LA! I certainly would love to if I ever made it there.


Rapid Rail Plans for the US, & Why Big Oil Has to Spread Rail Propaganda

Posted: 15 Jun 2012 03:27 AM PDT

 
This is a great in-depth look at 4 rapid rail plans for 5 lines in the US, as well as a nice intro on why Big Oil is so threatened by 21st-century rail and works so hard to spread anti-rail propaganda. Check it out:



Express high-speed rail is sexy (via Red Green & Blue)

By Bruce McF Indeed, high-speed rail is sexy enough that when Big Oil propagandizes against it, they have to paint it as too expensive or something that America is too incompetent to handle, since the idea of sitting in an actually comfortable rail seat, watching a movie on a laptop or snacking on…



Brammo Empulse R Electric Motorcycle Videos

Posted: 15 Jun 2012 03:20 AM PDT

 

Brammo recently recently a couple of cool videos on its new electric motorcycle, the Empulse R. These are promo videos, of course, and the first one is basically an extended commercial, but I still think they’re cool enough for a Friday share. Check them out:

h/t TreeHugger


7 Arguments Against Nuclear Power (Why It Should Be a No-Go)

Posted: 15 Jun 2012 02:59 AM PDT

 
nuclear power plant czech republic

A reader recently dropped the below quote/list in a comment on a post regarding nuclear power in Australia. I thought it was an excellent one and have been meaning to get to it for awhile. It certainly summarizes my own 7 reasons for being against nuclear. While some people (well, most people) are probably firmly against nuclear just for 1-3 of the reasons below, the beauty of the list is that it summarizes the fact that nuclear is a bad call in numerous arenas.

Of course, anyone familiar with thorium nuclear reactors will know that this alternative is not so bad on some of these fronts, and actually helps to address #5, and possibly #4. But the point remains that the other arguments still apply.

Anyway, enough of my introduction, here’s the comment/list (which apparently originated in this post):

“In summary, the 7 reasons why we should say NO to nuclear power are:
1. Because it is not a fast enough response to climate change
2. Because it is too expensive
3. Because the need for baseload electricity is exaggerated
4. Because the problem of waste remains unresolved
5. Because it will increase the risk of nuclear war
6. Because there are safety concerns
7. Because there are better alternatives”

What do you think? Something to add?

Image: nuclear power plant in Temelin, Czech Republic via Shutterstock


Why Fossil Fuel Companies Hate Solar So Much

Posted: 15 Jun 2012 02:43 AM PDT

 
We’ve covered these points below (including the specific case study discussed) numerous times before, but this is another really good, short write-up of the story from Jeremy Bloom over on sister site Red, Green, and Blue, so I thought it’d be a good idea to share this one here on CleanTechnica as well to try to make the points below just a little clearer and help them reach perhaps a few more eyes. Here’s the full repost:



Why big oil hates solar energy so much (via Red Green & Blue)

It's not just that solar energy is a competitor to big oil, coal, and gas – it's that solar cuts into big oil's biggest profit center. In arguing against solar, they're always happy to tell you, "The sun doesn't shine at night, heh heh heh." But nighttime isn't when extra power is…



Cleanweb Solar Hackathon Wrap-Up

Posted: 15 Jun 2012 02:26 AM PDT

 
We shared news of the first-ever solar hackathon one week ago, before it happened. Now, Priti has put together a nice summary of the solar hackathon after the event that I though you’d like to see — so here it is:



Sun was Shinning on Cleanweb Solar Hackathon in Oakland via Genability (via Ecopreneurist)

This weekend concluded the first Cleanweb Solar Hackathon hosted by Sungevity in Oakland.  Developers, programmers, and business types all collaberated to create teams that competed against one another to build applications that made solar power easy, efficient and a part of our daily lives.  …



New Study: Smart Roofs Could Transform California Energy and Water Use

Posted: 15 Jun 2012 02:11 AM PDT

 
Green and Cool roofs will save money, reduce emissions, and relieve stress on limited water supplies

Installing green roofs and cool roofs in southern California could save consumers more than $211 million in energy bills and reduce emissions equivalent to removing 91,000 cars from the road each year, according to a new study from the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Emmett Center on Climate Change and the Environment at UCLA School of Law. Installing green roofs will additionally reduce stormwater runoff that pollutes our beaches.

"Southern California is facing a complex, and mostly worsening, set of sustainability challenges but solutions exist," said Noah Garrison, project attorney for NRDC's water program. "Green roofs and cool roofs are a solution that can be implemented today.  Taking simple steps like installing drought resistant plants on a roof surface or painting roofs to reflect the sun's energy can dramatically reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and, for green roofs, reduce the amount of pollution that flows to our rivers and beaches."

According to the report, "Looking Up: How Green Roofs and Cool Roofs Can Reduce Energy Use, Address Climate Change, and Protect Water Resources in Southern California," if green roofs or cool roofs were installed on 50 percent of existing roof surfaces for residential, commercial, and government and public use buildings in southern California, it could save up to 1.6 million megawatt hours of electricity annually, enough energy to power more than 127,000 homes in California and save residents up to $211 million in energy costs each year based on 2012 rates.  The energy savings would cut carbon pollution by 465,000 metric tons annually.

Because green roofs absorb and evaporate rainfall, installing green roofs on 50 percent of the existing roof surfaces could reduce stormwater runoff by more than 36 billion gallons each year – enough to fill more than 54,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools – significantly reducing the volume of pollution reaching our local waters.

"The scale of these benefits is truly impressive, and justifies a much more aggressive set of policies and incentives to help advance the adoption of green roofs and cool roofs in our region," said Cara Horowitz, the Andrew Sabin Family Foundation executive director of the Emmett Center on Climate Change and the Environment at UCLA School of Law. "If Los Angeles and other southern California cities provided better incentives for residential and commercial building owners to install green roofs and cool roofs, we would have healthier, more sustainable neighborhoods and save money too."

Ensuring new development projects install green and cool roofs can also provide tremendous savings.  Installing green roofs and cool roofs on 50 percent of new construction and redevelopment would save up to one million megawatt-hours per year by 2035 and $131 million in electricity costs during that time period, while cutting carbon pollution by 288,000 metric tons annually, which is the equivalent of taking more than 56,000 cars off the road each year. It would also result in a reduction of 20 billion gallons of stormwater runoff in southern California each year by 2035, significantly reducing the volume of pollution flowing to local rivers, lakes, and beaches.

Additionally, green and cool roofs can cut urban temperatures.  Cities create their own heat islands—areas where surface and ambient air temperatures are higher than in surrounding undeveloped or rural land.  The dark, paved surfaces in urban and suburban areas absorb and radiate heat back into the surrounding communities.  These increased air temperatures worsen smog and other air pollution, and can result in increased heat-related illnesses.  Installing green roofs and cool roofs across urban landscapes can help cool down neighborhoods, reducing temperatures in urban cores by as much as 3.5 degrees Fahrenheit, with air quality and human health benefits.

"Green roofs and cool roofs make sense for southern California – we have mild winters but hot summers, and these types of roof can keep buildings and entire cities cooler, saving energy and protecting water resources in the process," said Garrison.

Background

Green roofs have a thin covering of soil and live plants growing on them which provide shade, insulation, and evaporative cooling that reduces temperatures on the roof surface and in the building interior below.  The temperature of a green roof can often be cooler than the surrounding ambient air, resulting in less energy needed to cool the building interior. Conversely, the temperatures on the surface of a dark, conventional roof may exceed those of ambient air by 90°F (50°C) or more on a hot, sunny day, and much of that heat transfers into the building's interior, requiring more energy for cooling.

Cool roofs, like green roofs, use smarter materials to reduce energy demand and lower temperatures compared with traditional rooftops.  Cool roofs use reflective materials, often but not always light-colored, to reflect more of the sun's energy than dark, traditional roofs, and to more efficiently transmit heat from the building's interior. Compared to conventional dark roofs, the surface of a cool roof can be 50° to 60°F (28° to 33°C) cooler on a hot, sunny day.

This post was originally published on the NRDC website.

Image: house with green/living roof via Shutterstock


El Salvador Looks Beyond Hydropower, Oil in Conducting First Utility-Scale Solar PV Auctions

Posted: 15 Jun 2012 12:10 AM PDT

 

Photo courtesy: CEL El Salvador

The small Central American nation of El Salvador has been relying on hydropower and oil to meet its electricity needs, but that’s due to change as non-profit state-owned utility Comision Ejecutiva Hidroelectrica del Rio Lempa (CEL) is preparing to auction development rights for a 14.2-MW solar power farm in 2013 and a 42-MW installation in 2014, Bloomberg News reports.

Non-profit and state-owned, CEL began investigating the development of solar energy in 2010 as part of an overarching national strategy with the twin aims of developing the country’s renewable energy resources and enhancing conservation and protection of its natural resources. Among it’s solar energy resource development efforts, CEL has installed and has been evaluating the performance, cost and technical aspects of a small, 24.57-kW grid-connected solar PV installation at its administrative offices in San Salvador.

 

 

International Collaboration Results in El Salvadoran Renewable Energy, Energy Conservation Strategy

With financial and technical support from Germany’s KfW overseas development bank, CEL has been working on a preliminary feasibility study of grid-connected solar PV projects of at least 5 MW.

In January 2011, ILF began providing technical, financial and economic development consulting services to CEL that has resulted in the planned 2013 auction of rights to develop what would be El Salvador’s first grid-connected, utility-scale solar PV installations — the 14.2-MWp solar power field in the area of CEL’s Central hydroelectric facilities and a 3.6-MWp installation in Guajoyo.

CEL is also working with the US Trade & Development Agency (USTDA) to carry out a feasibility study that is to evaluate installing solar PV fields in the area of the state utility’s Central and Cerron Grande hydroelectric power plants. The USTDA in August, 2011 awarded CEL a $267,000 grant to fund a feasibility study on a pilot 3-MW, grid-connected solar PV field.

Complementary to its clean, renewable energy drive, the Salvadoran government has also launched a national energy efficiency program that aims to reduce electric bills across Salvadoran society by promoting and fostering best practices to reduce fuel and electricity consumption.

Some 75 government agencies have signed up to participate in the program, which is being run by the National Electricity Board (CNE). One of the program’s immediate goals is to reduce electricity consumption and bills by promoting and supporting a switch from incandescent and fluorescent lighting to compact fluourescent and LED lighting.

The Salvadoran government has been formulating an overarching national strategic renewable energy and energy conservation policy. The ultimate goal of CNE’s strategic Plan Maestro para Desarollo de las Energias Renovables de El Salvador (Master Plan for the Development of Renewable Energy), developed with support from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), is to “identify and analyze the energy potential of the country’s varied renewable… that forms a clean energy development strategy that’s to be carried out from 2012-2027.”


Vestas’ Wind Tower Factory Sale: The Shape of Things to Come in Wind, Solar Manufacturing?

Posted: 14 Jun 2012 09:11 PM PDT

 

Vestas, the world’s leading, though embattled, wind turbine manufacturer, announced that it had found a buyer for its wind energy tower factory in Varde, Denmark: China’s Titan Wind Energy (Suzhou) Co., Ltd.

The news was nothing if not welcome, particularly for the plant’s 120 employees, as Vestas had previously announced that it was going to shut the factory down. The sale also gives Titan, the world’s largest wind energy tower manufacturer and a longstanding supplier to Vestas and other leading wind turbine manufacturers, a European base from which to expand.

There’s another side to the story, an aspect that’s related to rising international trade tensions, government subsidies and a dramatic change in the line-up, and home bases, of the world’s leading wind and solar photovoltaic (PV) manufacturers, however.

 

 

Vestas Wind Tower Business Sale: Numerous Shared Benefits

No doubt, there’s a lot in the way of advantages and benefits to be gained by Vestas selling its wind tower factory to Titan. Vestas management themselves listed the following:

  • Titan Wind Energy establishes European production of towers for both onshore and offshore wind turbines, leveraging on Vestas' renowned expertise in tower-manufacturing
  • About 120 highly specialized "greentech" jobs are maintained in Varde, Denmark
  • Based on Denmark's leading position within the wind industry and excellent facilities for shipment of large turbine towers mainly intended for offshore, the facility in Varde is ideally positioned to support the further globalization of Titan Wind Energy's operations
  • The divestment of the towers facility in Varde will reduce Vestas' fixed costs while increasing partnerships and knowledge-sharing with trusted suppliers such as Titan Wind Energy.

"This is an excellent agreement for all parties involved. Vestas welcomes the establishment of Titan Wind Energy in what might be described as the cradle of the global wind industry and we see a huge potential in the ongoing cooperation and co-development with Titan Wind Towers,” Vestas CEO Ditlev Engel stated in a press release.

"We have been cooperating with Vestas for several years, both in China and abroad, and we look forward to further utilizing our long-standing partnership within the development and production of technology-leading towers for wind turbines," added Titan Wind Energy (Suzhou) founder and CEO Yan Junxu.

"Our new towers facility here in Denmark increases our possibilities of servicing and expanding our global customer base. The location of our European headquarters in Varde is optimal because we see Denmark as the focal point for the global wind industry. Europe is the region that offers the most promising outlook for the development of offshore wind energy.”

Having signed the sale and purchase agreement this past Tuesday, Titan and Vestas say they will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on June 15 as part of a Chinese official state visit to Denmark. Titan is due to assume ownership of the Varde wind tower factory on September 1. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

The Flip Side

Looking beyond the more immediate impact of the sale, Titan’s purchase is a testament to the effectiveness and success of China’s state-directed and -sponsored drive to dominate renewable energy and clean tech manufacturing. It’s taken just a handful of years for Chinese wind tower, as well as solar PV manufacturers, to rise to dominance in their respective industry sectors. Not coincidentally, these are the same two renewable energy manufacturing industries in which U.S. manufacturers have successfully brought illegal subsidy and dumping cases against their Chinese counterparts.

Yes, U.S. states and the federal government, as well as their European counterparts, do subsidize wind, solar, and other forms of renewable energy. Mind you, best estimates put fossil fuel exploration and consumption subsidies at five to six times the level of renewables, and fossil fuel companies, some of the largest and most profitable businesses in world history, continue to benefit and wrangle for more.

The crucial difference between China and the U.S.’ wind, solar and renwable energy subsidies lies in their very nature: China’s directly setting production and cost targets and subsidizing the manufacturing and export of wind towers and solar PV cells and panels.

These supply-side subsidies are predatory and damage competitors in World Trade Organization (WTO) partner nation markets, and that’s in direct contravention of agreed-upon WTO rules. Subsidies in the U.S. and E.U. are fundamentally different in nature: they’re primarily demand-side subsidies that do not convey advantages to any particular manufacturer from of any particular origin.

Again, Vestas’ decision to shutter the Varda wind tower factory and subsequent decision to sell it to Titan is a positive and welcome reversal of events with many benefits. But it isn’t the only recent example of Chinese wind and solar PV manufacturers deciding to buy up productive manufacturing assets abroad.

It’s surely not going to be the last, as final rulings from the U.S. on countervailing duties and penalties to be imposed on Chinese solar PV imports are due in the fall and the Wind Tower Trade Coalition’s case makes its way through the U.S.-WTO legal process.

It is testimony, however, to just how much the U.S., and to a lesser degree the E.U., have given up in terms of manufacturing as a pillar and driver of economic development and growth in recent decades, be it wind, solar, clean tech or another type of manufacturing. And that’s not a development with a lot of advantages, at least for the E.U. and U.S. economies and employment.


Energy Efficiency, Energy Storage, Grid, & Other Cleantech News

Posted: 14 Jun 2012 05:17 PM PDT

 
And some more top cleantech news from around the interwebs (last roundup of the day):

Energy Efficiency

TOPTEN USA Releases New Lists of Energy Efficient Televisions — Sharp, Samsung, and Magnavox Lead the Field

“It’s a surprising trend: Even as manufacturers pack higher-tech features into their televisions, the new models use less and less electricity. In the latest rankings of the 10 efficiency leaders in three size categories from the nonprofit TopTen USA (toptenusa.org), even the largest model, the 70-inch Sharp Aquos LC-70LE745U, operates on only 64 watts, less than a typical incandescent light bulb. That’s about half the power that the same-sized models used just a year ago.”

Energy Storage

$22M for Potential Breakthrough in Energy Storage: Isentropic Energy

“The U.K. government-backed Energy Technologies Institute (ETI), a private-public partnership, is investing $22 million in Isentropic’s Pumped Heat Electricity Storage (PHES) system in order to build a full-scale demonstrator of its technology. The goal is to deploy a 1.5-megawatt, 6-megawatt-hour storage unit on a U.K. primary substation owned by Western Power Distribution, a distribution network operator for the Midlands, southwest England and South Wales with 7.7 million customers.

“Jonathan Howes, the Chief Technical Officer of U.K. startup Isentropic Energy has claimed large-scale storage costs that are an order of magnitude lower than lithium-ion batteries or other stored energy technologies: $55 per kilowatt-hour currently, with a path to get down to $8 per kilowatt-hour.

“Isentropic’s technology is compact, has no geographical constraints and claims a round-trip efficiency of 75 percent.”

Combination of Solar Tracking and Energy Storage Solutions Celebrate its World Premiere

“DEGERenergie enables energy customers to be independent of the grid by offering solar energy systems with stable electricity prices – for the next 25 years

“The sensation is perfect: DEGERenergie renders energy customers independent of the public grid. The global market leader for solar tracking systems, DEGERenergie combines its tried and tested MLD technology with a new storage solution suitable for everyday use: a battery management system. The innovative end-to-end solution will celebrate its world premiere at Intersolar Europe in Munich.”

When Will Utility-Scale Energy Storage Become Widespread?

“Don't hold your breath. The CEO of the California ISO says, ‘It's good stuff, but it's expensive, and we have to find business cases.’”

Grid

Remote Microgrids Will Help Meet Soaring Energy Demand in the Developing World

“Demand for energy in the developing world, including Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America, is expected to grow in tandem with projected increases in human population and rising living standards among the chronically poor.  Demand for energy, especially electricity, is growing much more rapidly in these nascent economies than the rate of expansion of conventional electricity grids in the major industrialized world.  A recent report from Pike Research finds that remote microgrids are ideally suited to help meet this surging appetite for more power, without increasing carbon emissions.”

The Global Smart Energy Market Reached $222 Billion in 2011, Says Pike Research

“The smart energy paradigm is gaining traction worldwide, opening a window of opportunity for transformation.  A number of convergent market drivers are leading to expanded availability and increasing revenue opportunities across the smart energy continuum.  These drivers include the rising costs of maintaining the current energy system as well as regulatory and policy initiatives in many countries around the world.  According to a new report from Pike Research, total revenue from smart energy and smart energy storage reached $222 billion in 2011.  By 2015, the cleantech market intelligence firm forecasts, total market value will be $420 billion — an increase of 90% in just four years.”

"Our annual report demonstrates that smart energy is no longer a niche market," says research director Kerry-Ann Adamson.  "The overall smart energy market is now growing at such a pace that it represents over 10% of the global annual additional capacity forecast by the International Energy Agency between now and 2020."

Waste-to-Energy

U.S. EPA Launches First Waste to Biogas Mapping Tool

“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Pacific Southwest Region has launched an online ‘waste to biogas mapping tool’ to support the use of organic waste for energy projects.”

"This innovative mapping tool, the first of its kind in the nation, helps restaurants, hotels and other food waste generators to connect with large energy producers," said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA's Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. "Harvesting this energy prevents waste from ending up in landfills or clogging sewer lines."

“The tool is an interactive map created to link food and other biodegradable waste sources with facilities such as wastewater treatment plants that can enhance energy production with their existing infrastructure. Wastewater treatment plants and some dairies manage waste with anaerobic digesters, which produce methane-rich biogas as a natural byproduct.”

Other

NREL Selected to Join Europe's DERlab

“The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has been selected as a new member of the nonprofit Association of European Distributed Energy Resources Laboratories (DERlab).

“DERlab is an international association of leading laboratories and research institutions in the field of distributed energy resources equipment and systems.”

Poland fights carbon cuts in EU again: draft

“Coal-reliant Poland has pitched itself against the other 26 members of the European Union ahead of a debate on a low-carbon energy future this week, EU sources said.”

Ecobee's Newest Thermostat

Ecobee’s newest thermostat, the Smart Si, has just been released. “This thermostat is designed for home use and energy efficient technology offered at affordable prices. This technology is estimated to save an average homeowner 26 percent on annual energy costs.

“The Smart Si thermostat can be adjusted from any computer, IPhone, smart phone or tablet at any time. It is equipped with an automatic alert system to notify homeowners when heating and air conditioning equipment needs service, when it is time to change the filters and if there is any malfunction within the equipment system.”


Solar Energy News

Posted: 14 Jun 2012 05:03 PM PDT

 
Top solar energy news from around the interwebs:

Solar Projects

Kyocera Solar Power Generating Systems Help the Maldive Islands Meet Renewable Energy Goals

100kW Kyocera solar power generating system at the Maldives Center for Social Education.

“Kyocera Corporation (NYSE:KYO)(TOKYO:6971) along with Toyota Tsusho Corporation and Wakachiku Construction Co., Ltd. announced that the companies are working to install 675kW of Kyocera’s solar power generating systems at schools and other public facilities in the island nation of the Republic of Maldives (also known as the Maldive Islands) located in the Indian Ocean. The Project for Clean Energy Promotion in Malé is being funded by the Japanese government’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) — provided through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Japan International Cooperation System (JICS) — to promote the utilization of solar energy as an alternate and renewable energy resource and to undertake measures against climate change.”

Finance Company Targets €600 Million Investment in Wind and Solar

“An investment vehicle launched [this week] expects to raise €600m (£485m) from pension funds and insurance companies to finance up to 400MW of European renewable energy assets.

“Prime Renewables GmbH, structured by Frankfurt-based financier Prime Capital AG, is targeting institutional investors through the issuance of 25-year profit-participation notes.”

First Solar to Provide 159 MW in Solar Power Projects for AGL Energy Under Australia's Solar Flagships Program

“First Solar [this week] announced it will design, construct and maintain two utility-scale solar photovoltaic power projects totaling 159 megawatts for AGL Energy Limited as part of Australia's Solar Flagships Program. AGL was selected as the successful proponent in the solar PV category of the program and will receive federal and state government funding to help deliver on its commitment to greater investment in renewable electricity generation.”

Chint/Astronergy Completes 50MW Solar PV Power Plant in Bulgaria

“Chint/Astronergy today announced its completion of a solar PV power plant with a total installed capacity of 50MWp in Bulgaria. The commercial operation date of the solar power plant is on June 12, 2012.”

SPI Solar to Develop 68 Projects in Hawaii

“SPI Solar, a photovoltaic solar developer, has acquired the rights to co-develop and construct 68 solar energy projects in Hawaii totaling approximately 29 MW dc. The sites are distributed across the islands of Oahu, Kona and Maui and are predominately ground mount photovoltaic systems with some rooftop and shade structures. All of the projects are feeding directly into Hawaii's utility power grids. In addition to the 68 projects, the agreement also allows SPI to pursue an additional 10 megawatts of projects that are currently in the Hawaiian Public Utility Commission's reserve queue. As part of SPI's global practices and its commitment to local economies, the projects will employ local trade people during their construction.”

German Solar Installations to Move from Parks to Rooftops

“Europe is set to dominate the own consumption segment, with growth of up to 150 GWp by 2020. More than half of all installed solar capacity worldwide could be for own consumption by the end of the decade, according to a recent McKinsey study. Germany is already the global frontrunner in solar power, accounting for approximately half of the world’s photovoltaic capacity. The country’s industry is well positioned for the next growth phase, according to Germany Trade & Invest experts at this year’s Intersolar Europe in Munich from June 13-15.”

“Those companies who survive the current consolidation wave will experience a bright future. Especially the rooftop segment and downstream business models are expected to drive the industry forward,” stated Tobias Rothacher, photovoltaic industry expert at Germany Trade & Invest in Berlin.

IKEA U.S. Solar Plans near 89% with Two More Installations Proposed; Distribution Centers in Perryville, MD and Westampton, NJ Will Be among Country's Largest Projects

IKEA has “announced plans to install solar energy panels on two more of its United States locations – both of them distribution centers in the Eastern U.S. Installation will occur this Summer on the IKEA Distribution Center in Perryville, Maryland and Westampton, New Jersey. Both projects will rank among the largest commercial rooftop solar installations in the U.S., and their implementation will extend the IKEA solar presence to nearly 89% of its U.S. locations.”

IKEA To Use Solar Power on Buildings in China

IKEA has also “announced that, as part of its goal to only use renewable energy to power its buildings, it will partner with Hanergy, one of China's leading clean energy companies, to install solar photovoltaic panels on IKEA owned buildings in China. Once complete, the solar panels will provide both 10-15 percent of all electricity needed to run IKEA stores and 100 percent of the electricity needs of IKEA distribution centres in China, saving around 6,000 tonnes of CO2 each year. In addition to helping to power IKEA operations in China, the project is also being extended to the company's suppliers in China. The solar panels will be manufactured and installed by Hanergy over the next three years.”

SolarCity and U.S. Bancorp Announce Fund to Finance up to $250 Million in Residential and Commercial Solar Projects

SolarCity, a national leader in clean energy products and services, and U.S. Bancorp (NYSE: USB) [yesterday] announced their largest renewable energy tax equity fund to finance up to $250 million in residential solar power and commercial solar power projects for homeowners, businesses, schools, and government buildings. This is the sixth and largest fund created by the two companies since they partnered three years ago to make solar power systems affordable and accessible.”

Solar Power Policy

Getting California to 12,000 Megawatts of Distributed Generation

“California Governor Jerry Brown wants 12,000 megawatts of distributed generation (DG) to be part of the 20,000-plus megawatts of renewable capacity the state's utilities have been ordered to put in place by 2020. That’s a lot of rooftop and ground-mounted solar, small and community wind, small biomass/biogas production, combined heat and power and other such local renewables.”

Reduce Eurodebts by Thirty Percent With Sun and Wind

“The countries most affected by the Eurocrisis could reduce their debts substantially with concessions for renewable energy. Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Ireland have excellent conditions for harvesting energy from the sun, wind and geothermal sources. They could give their creditors concessions for large scale investment programs in renewable energy that offer enough long-term financial profit….

New Technology

Combination of Solar Tracking and Energy Storage Solutions Celebrate its World Premiere

“DEGERenergie enables energy customers to be independent of the grid by offering solar energy systems with stable electricity prices – for the next 25 years

“The sensation is perfect: DEGERenergie renders energy customers independent of the public grid. The global market leader for solar tracking systems, DEGERenergie combines its tried and tested MLD technology with a new storage solution suitable for everyday use: a battery management system. The innovative end-to-end solution will celebrate its world premiere at Intersolar Europe in Munich.”

Trina Solar Presents Honey Ultra World Record Technology and Trinasmart Performance Optimizer at Intersolar 2012

“Trina Solar Limited (NYSE: TSL), a leading integrated manufacturer of solar photovoltaic (PV) products from the production of ingots, wafers and cells to the assembly of PV modules, is presenting at this year’s Intersolar Europe trade fair its new Honey Ultra world record technology as well as Trinasmart, a module-integrated solution that optimizes the energy output of PV systems….

“Honey Ultra, the second generation of Trina Solar’s Honey technology, to the company’s best knowledge, has achieved a new world record for multicrystalline modules. The standard-size Honey Ultra module (1650x992mm) reached 284.7 watts peak power output in May 2012, which has been confirmed by TUV Rheinland.”

SOLON SOLquick Commercial Rooftop System Wins Intersolar Award 2012

“SOLON Corporation, one of the largest providers of turnkey solar power plants and photovoltaic (PV) products in the U.S., today announced it has been selected as the winner of the prestigious Intersolar AWARD 2012 in the Photovoltaic category, recognizing SOLON's patent pending SOLquickTM commercial rooftop system as one of the most pioneering technologies and innovations of 2012.”

bSolar launches High Efficiency Bifacial Silicon Solar Cells

bSolar has announced that new “high-power, high-efficiency, bifacial, photovoltaic (PV), crystalline silicon solar cells” are now commercially available. “Bifacial cells utilize the cells’ rear side to collect reflected and diffused sunlight and generate additional electricity. bSolar cells are produced using p-type wafers, standard equipment and production processes, giving them a mass market appeal.”

“The new cells provide 10-30% higher energy (KWH) per KWp installed in standard applications and up to 50% in vertical installations, resulting in an equivalent cell efficiency of 21%-24% in standard applications and a total module power of 280-325 Watts for 60 cell modules. This unprecedented efficiency and power are amongst the industry highest for mono crystalline silicon cells.”

First Solar and Intermolecular Announce Joint Program to Accelerate Solar PV Roadmap

“First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR) and Intermolecular, Inc. (NASDAQ: IMI) [this week] announced a collaboration and licensing agreement aimed at accelerating the efficiency roadmap for First Solar’s cadmium-telluride (CdTe) photovoltaic (PV) technology….

Under a newly signed collaborative development program, First Solar will leverage Intermolecular’s High Productivity Combinatorial (HPC) platform in the development of its advanced, CdTe-based, thin film PV manufacturing technology. The program addresses new opportunities in certain critical materials and processes that may significantly influence the conversion efficiency of CdTe technology. Technical work is to be performed jointly at Intermolecular’s San Jose, Calif., facility and in First Solar’s research and development labs.”

Other

Building Your Own Solar Power System

“Looking for a big summer project? We found something you might love: Instructables user MacOSJoey has drafted plans for creating a home solar system, starting with something small — a 10-watt charger for his laptop — and building up to an expandable system that now charges the family’s cell phones, laptops and some lights.

“The system uses parts you can easily find anywhere from online stores to hardware stores to stuff laying around in the garage. While the instructables is interesting for inspiration to create your own system, the best part about it is watching the maker come up with solutions, troubleshoot for new applications for the system, and in general DIY a solar system that works for the family’s needs. Pretty great project to check out!”

California Grid Hits Record Solar Generation Peak

“Stephanie McCorkle, Director of Communications of the California Independent System Operator, noted that a new record was set on June 8 with 849 megawatts of solar generation on the system.”

EnergySage Awarded $500,000 Department of Energy SunShot Startup Investment

“Distributed Energy Research & Solutions, Inc. (d/b/a EnergySage: www.EnergySage.com) today announced it received one of ten Department of Energy SunShot Incubator investments aimed at reducing soft costs associated with solar energy installations. EnergySage will use the $500,000 investment to develop and implement a web-based solar photovoltaic (PV) comparison-shopping platform that will provide pricing transparency and facilitate open market interactions between property owners and solar PV installers. EnergySage is the only direct consumer-facing solution for reducing customer acquisition costs and the only East Coast company to receive an award.”

Solar Mosaic Receives $2 Million Grant for Solar Financing Platform

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded Solar Mosaic a $2 million grant to help take solar mainstream. The company is building an online crowdfunding platform for Americans to create and fund solar projects. The award comes through the SunShot Initiative.

Building a Little Solar-Powered House on the Prairie: Off-the-Grid or Grid-Tied?

“A year ago, Mike Larsen and Linda Nelson left their beloved urban Minneapolis home and moved to the prairie in southeast Minnesota near Altura to live in a way more connected to the land. In this story, Mike writes about how they came to the decision to build their off-the-grid home.”


Wind Energy News

Posted: 14 Jun 2012 04:56 PM PDT

 
Some top wind energy news from around:

Research

How Wind Cuts Electricity Bills

“Wind as an electricity supply resource has been getting steadily cheaper, and its technical performance characteristics continue to improve as larger turbine sizes and higher hub heights capture both economies of scale and more of the passing wind.1 Simultaneously, the projected cost of coal-fired power has begun to climb; the increasingly global coal market has given rise to higher coal prices, and many existing coal plants will need to be retired or retrofitted with new environmental controls to comply with stricter regulations being enacted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).”

Offshore Wind Power Costs ‘Could Fall 1/3 by 2020′

“The costs of offshore wind power generation could be brought down by one-third by the end of the decade, making this form of renewable energy commercially viable in the UK, according to new reports by the wind industry and government.”

WINDPOWER 2012

WINDPOWER 2012: It's a Wrap

Greentech Media had a nice summary of the WINDPOWER 2012 conference, which included several of the announcements below as well as commentary on other topics and this video of a GE flash mob:

Wind Projects

Vestas Signs 40 MW Order in Nicaragua

“Vestas has signed an order for a total capacity of 39.6 MW consisting of 22 units of the V100-1.8 MW turbine for the Alba Rivas wind power plant, which will be located in Hacienda La Fe, Rivas, Nicaragua.”

DTE Energy Taps GE Advanced Technology for Four Wind Project in Michigan

“GE is supplying 137 wind turbines to the lower region of Michigan with a total capacity of approximately 220 megawatts of clean energy. DTE Energy's total investment in these projects is $500 million.”

180 Iowa Citizens Purchase GE Wind Turbines to Support Local Farm, Community Energy Needs

“Eight GE wind turbines will power a 12.6 MW community wind initiative with the financial benefits from the project will assist local towns.”

GE's 1.6-100 Wind Turbines Reach Nearly 3 Gigawatts

“GE has received commitments over the past several months to provide its 1.6-100 wind turbine for projects that will add 1.8 gigawatts of capacity to the world's clean energy supply by end of 2012. Agreements for the 1.6-100, the highest capacity factor wind turbine operating in North America, have totaled $3.6 billion and approximately 2.8 megawatts since the technology was introduced a year ago, with projected volumes of more than 1,500 units installed globally by 2013.”

Finance Company Targets €600 Million Investment in Wind and Solar

“An investment vehicle launched [this week] expects to raise €600m (£485m) from pension funds and insurance companies to finance up to 400MW of European renewable energy assets.

“Prime Renewables GmbH, structured by Frankfurt-based financier Prime Capital AG, is targeting institutional investors through the issuance of 25-year profit-participation notes.”

Outland Energy Services Awarded Services Contract by Consumers Energy for 100 MW Wind Farm

“Consumers Energy has awarded Outland Energy Services a service contract to provide construction/commissioning-period support, and operations, maintenance, and remote monitoring services at the 100.8 MW Lake Winds Energy Project in Mason County, Michigan. The project is comprised of fifty-six Vestas V100 1.8 MW wind turbines and is expected to begin commercial operation in October, 2012.”

Iberdrola Starts Engineering Phase of €1.6-Billion Wikinger Offshore Wind Farm in Germany

“IBERDROLA has announced it is commencing the detailed engineering phase of Wikinger, the company's first offshore windfarm in Germany, with a view to starting operations on the €1.6billon project by 2016.

“UK based engineers, project managers and technicians from IBERDROLA's Offshore Business Division, based in Glasgow and London will have a crucial role in the delivery of the project. In total, IBERDROLA is planning 11,000 MW of offshore wind capacity across Europe, including the United Kingdom and France.

“The €1.6billon project announced [this week] will enable the development and construction of up to eighty wind turbines, with a capacity of up to 400 MW, enough energy to power 350,000 homes. These will be located some 30 km off the coast of the German Island of Rügen, and will cover an area of 34 km2 in the Baltic Sea.”

Wind Power Policy

Reduce Eurodebts by Thirty Percent With Sun and Wind

“The countries most affected by the Eurocrisis could reduce their debts substantially with concessions for renewable energy. Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Ireland have excellent conditions for harvesting energy from the sun, wind and geothermal sources. They could give their creditors concessions for large scale investment programs in renewable energy that offer enough long-term financial profit.”

Offshore wind could create 100,000 jobs by 2020, says Mainstream

“The offshore wind power industry could be employing nearly 100,000 people and contributing 0.4 per cent of the UK’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 2020, according to a new report that calls on government to boost its policies to support the sector.”

UK and South Korea aim to cement status as offshore renewables pioneers

The UK and South Korea this week moved forward with “plans to establish a so-called ‘UK-Korea Ocean Energy Technology Co-operation Project’, as the two countries look to cement their status as two of the world’s leading markets for offshore renewables.”


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