Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Latest from: CleanTechnica

Latest from: CleanTechnica

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Solar Panels Suitability Checker — iPhone/iPod/iPad App (Free)

Posted: 03 Jul 2012 10:50 AM PDT

solar-panels-suitability-checker-app I recently ran across a pretty sweet solar power iEverything app (that is, it’s an app for numerous versions of the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad).

The app is a solar panel suitability checker… as you might have guessed from the title. ;)

To be more clear, the iTunes page states: “The solar panels suitability checker will help you to identify if your roof or other location is suitable for solar panel installation.”

The screenshots from the iTunes page look pretty interesting. I wish I had an iSomething to try it out myself — this is one of the most enticing apps I think I’ve ever run across.

The app comes from the website Solar Panels UK (a pretty attractive-looking solar website, in my humble opinion).

The app uses google maps technology… as so many do. “After downloading the app for either iPhone or iPad to their device, the user can simply press the ‘Use Current Location’ button to allow the suitability checker to locate them via the inbuilt GPS feature,” a news release states. “Alternatively one can also manually enter the address of the site and select the country from the drop down menu.”

Once the location is nailed down using satellite imagery, the app “uses a performance graph overlay to help identify the suitability of the site or specific section of the property’s roof.” That would be the colorful thing in the second image above.

All well and good, and it certainly seems like it’s worth a look. Not perfect yet, perhaps, but the company also notes that it is already developing version 2.0, which it says will “factor in sun time data based on GPS location and also slope/tilt angle of the roof to give estimated energy generation in kWh.” That’s insanely sweet. If this company were in the US, I imagine it would have won one of those recent DOE SunShot grants for bringing down the “soft costs” of going solar.

If all of the above wasn’t cool enough, I also don’t think anyone will complain about the fact that the app is actually free.

Of course, since it is based on google maps, the app works essentially everywhere in the world. To learn more and/or get the app, head on over to:

All images via Solar Panels UK

Solar Panels: Are They a Solid Investment?

Posted: 03 Jul 2012 10:41 AM PDT

going solar

This post may be a bit basic for our long-time readers and solar experts, but I think it makes a good intro post for anyone thinking about going solar, and someone passed it on to me just as I was thinking about putting together a little “Going Solar” series, so I thought it made a good fit for that. Check it out and chime in with your thoughts in the comments below the post!

On this rocky financial road that many of us seem to be travelling on, there seems to be no place to pull over and take a break in order to avoid huge utility bills and other costs that threaten to crash head-on into you when you least expect them to. What’s more, it seems like everyone’s driving gas guzzlers, which not only hurt the environment but also manage to be a lot less financially efficient.

Overblown metaphors aside, there’s certainly a point to be made regarding the use of electricity and gas in the UK. Both cost more by the month, it seems, while people are increasingly looking to more eco-friendly approaches that are becoming more viable for the average citizen. While lots of people follow in the footsteps of celebs and get themselves a nice green car — a hybrid or full-blown electric vehicle — others think a little more outside the box and consider renewable sources of energy that will not only be carbon neutral, but save them plenty of money in the process.

One option that people often find themselves considering is the installation of solar panels onto their home. While these offerings have certainly improved in terms of efficiency and initial cost, is photovoltaic (PV) energy still worth the investment?

If you end up getting PV from a solar panel installation company like Evoenergy, in the UK, there are things you must initially consider that could rule you out entirely — but it’s still easy and free to find out if you’re well-placed for the installation.

Firstly, you must have a house that could have them fitted in the right direction. There obviously needs to be adequate sunlight, as well as a south-facing surface that is never shadowed by other buildings or trees. A house must also have a strong enough roof to hold the heavy cells (though, more and more people are planting them in open garden space to get around this). Luckily, if you live in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales, you won’t need planning permission unless they go over a certain size.

Benefits are plenty in number. Firstly, you’re doing a good job for the environment. Solar panels reduce CO2 emissions and remove a tonne of the gas per cell each year — widespread adoption could certainly have a tremendous impact on a much more dramatic scale.

Secondly, you’ll cut your electricity bill by quite a large amount. Nobody is going to charge you for using sunlight. While the initial investment made to buy a solar panel or two isn’t cheap, you’ll likely recoup these losses over a short time. Also, any electricity you generate but do not use can be sold back to the National Grid. These feed-in tariffs, otherwise known as “clean energy cash back,” are part of a government initiative; however, they have been the subject of rule changes aplenty since their introduction, so see what you’re entitled to, and how best to take advantage of this plan.

In the end, you need to have someone actually look at your solar potential and give you an estimate of the costs to see what the exact monetary returns would be on a solar panel investment. And given how things can change in this environment, having such a process completed (it’s free, after all) every six months or so probably isn’t a bad idea (unless you go solar after the first time, of course).

Image Credit: solar panels on house via Shutterstock

World’s Largest Wave Turbine Gets New Grant from Australian Government

Posted: 03 Jul 2012 09:23 AM PDT

The Australian government as upped its investment in two nascent, Australian-developed wave energy technologies, announcing new grants worth almost $10 million to help bring the two new systems to the market, including what is believed to be the world's biggest wave energy turbine.

The government is providing $5.6 million to BioPower Systems to install a 250kW full-scale pilot plant of its bioWAVE technology off the coast of Victoria, and is also providing just under $4 million to Oceanlinx, to install a 1MW demonstration plan of its Greenwave technology in South Australia.

Both grants are being made under the $126 million Emerging Renewables program, and follow an earlier $9 million grant to Carnegie Wave Energy, which is building a $31 million, 2MW grid-connected demonstration of its CETO technology near Fremantle in Western Australia.

BioPower CEO Tim Finnigan said the grant, along with a $5 million grant from the Victorian state government, means that its $15 million project was now fully funded. "This puts us into a position to complete the project, get it on the grid, and prove the technology at scale," he told RenewEconomy. "It's a pretty big development for us."

The technology is best described with an image, see below. It's designed to lay flat on the ocean floor when the waves become too big (it calculated this to be around 1 per cent of the time).

worlds largest wave projectIt is designed to absorb energy both at the surface and below. It is mounted on sea-floor, the demonstrator will be in about 30m of water, and the array of buoyant floats, sways back-and-forth in tune with the waves, and the energy contained in this motion is converted to electricity by an onboard self-contained power conversion module, and is delivered through a cable.

However, the first demonstration plan will weigh 400 tonnes when it is installed at a site 4kms from Port Fairy on the southern coast of Victoria. "We not trying to prove a light-weight structure right now," Finnigan says. "We will carve our way to that over time."

Like Carnegie Energy, Finnigan says the long term goal for wave energy has to be to match wind – which means capital costs of around $2 million/megawatt and a levellised cost of energy at $100/MWh or below. He says BioPower has a four-stage plan to reach that target by the end of the decade.

BioPower is backed by Lend Lease Venture Capital and private equity firm CVC, and a collection of smaller private investors.

Meanwhile, Oceanlinx says it believes its GreenWave device (see below) is the first in the world to be rated at 1MW, and its efficiency has improved 50 per cent since an earlier, smaller version that was deployed near Port Kembla in NSW. The 20m by 20m structure, around 17m high, will sit in around 10m of water. It features an oscillating water column, with the turbine and other moving parts above the waterline. The 2,000 tonne concrete structure will sit on the ocean floor.

CEO Ali Baghaei says this demonstration unit will have an LCOE of 28c/kWh, which will fall to 16c/kWh once 5MW have been installed and to below 10c/kWh once 75MW have been installed. The initial project will cost $7.2 million, with the balance coming from a recent $8 million fund raising from existing investors.

"We have been working very hard on this," Baghaei told RenewEconomy. "We are  finally getting to final stages of the journey, and hopefully by showing something at a commercial scale people can see it, touch it and smell it, and then the technology can take its own course through commercialisation."

The demonstration device will be installed around 4kms off the coast near Port MacDonnell in South Australia (near the Victorian border). Oceanlinx is also developing a deep-water device that will be made of steel and will have moorings.

ocean power project canberraResources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson said the grants made Australia "one of the world's largest supporters" of wave energy technology. "Wave energy is still very much an emerging technology and this funding will position Australia as a global leader in developing this technology," he said in a statement, adding that wave energy had the potential of providing 1300 terawatt hours per year, or about five times Australia's total electricity requirements.

This article was originally published on REnew Economy.

Energy Plus Clean Water from New Wastewater Treatment Tech Equals Awesome

Posted: 03 Jul 2012 09:05 AM PDT

electricity from sewage - new source of power?

One of the awesome things about living in the time we do is also one of the things that no one ever seems to mention – the sewer systems. The pipes and drains are below our feet, doing their thing every day, and a lot of us kind of seem to take it for granted. There's quite a bit of energy that goes into processing and disposing of waste, though, which just makes the announcement at the 243rd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) that much greater: there is a new and efficient version of a machine that both processes sewage and makes electricity doing it, and that device could be commercially viable.

From Taking Energy to Making It

Current wastewater treatment tech has a lot of steps: separation, settling, filtration, biological digestion, and chemical treatment. There's a lot of equipment, too, including settling tanks, macerators, membranes, and so on. At least one evaluation has estimated that wastewater treatment uses 2% of the United States' overall energy consumption. It’s not the first waste-fueled machine in the United States, but it does seem to have the broadest potential application.

The machine in question, presented by Orianna Bretschger, Ph.D., is a new and improved version of a previous prototype. It's a microbial fuel cell (MFC), and it has a 13% energy recovery capacity. That's a pretty major improvement over the initial prototype, which had a 2% energy recovery capacity. Bretschger, when presenting the report, mentioned that this could have a significant impact on water treatment and availability, particularly in developing countries:

“We’ve improved its energy recovery capacity from about 2 percent to as much as 13 percent, which is a great step in the right direction. That actually puts us in a realm where we could produce a meaningful amount of electricity if this technology is implemented commercially. Eventually, we could have wastewater treatment for free. That could mean availability for cleaner water in the developing world, or in southern California and other water-short areas of the United States through the use of more wastewater recycling technologies."

What's A Microbial Fuel Cell?

An MFC is exactly what it says on the tin – it's a biological fuel cell. Where traditional fuel cells convert fuel into electricity without igniting it (combining hydrogen and oxygen, as in the hydrogen fuel cell), an MFC uses organic matter as the fuel and microbes to break them down. As the microbes break down the organic matter, electrons (the movement of which constitutes electricity) are produced.

Bretschger's revised MFC uses sewage from a bog standard sewage treatment plant. It's made of a sealed container and an unsealed container, separated by a membrane. The microbes grow in a film on an electrode in the sealed chamber, sending electrons to the electrode and protons to the unsealed container. Oxygen in that container plus microbes on a second electrode plus the electrons from the sealed chamber combine to produce things that are not sewage and generate some electricity in the process (remember, electricity is electrons moving from point A to point B, which is pretty much what's happening here).

The Final Results

New and improved: costs less, more power.

The new prototype is less expensive than the first one, since initial titanium components have been replaced with PVC and graphite (although, it's still six or seven times the cost per gallon of conventional water treatment tech). The Bretschger's team hopes to keep bringing the cost down. The team also hopes to further improve energy recovery efficiency – right now, it's at 13%. Bretschger thinks that if they can get a big enough device going at maybe 20-25% (the same numbers as some current mass-produced solar cells), they could actually power a conventional sewage treatment plant.

The device also removes the vast majority of organic matter and potentially disease-causing microbes, Bretschger also pointed out. Although, it's not quite at the point of creating drinkable water along with electricity:

“We remove about 97 percent of the organic matter. That sounds clean, but it is not quite clean enough to drink. In order to get to potable, you need 99.99 percent removal and more complete disinfection of the water.”

Life is a cycle, guys. I don't think any one single clean energy technology is going to be the salvation wave breaking us free of fossil fuels; rather, I think a lot of types of tech working in tandem will eventually do the trick. This particular little machine uses a resource that is never, ever going to be used up, and I'd say that makes it a pretty viable area for further research. What do you think? Let us know in the comments, below.

Source: American Chemical Society via Science Daily
Image Credits: American Chemical Society, Wikimedia Commons

Vestas Wins New Belgium Offshore Wind Order

Posted: 03 Jul 2012 07:58 AM PDT


Vestas recently won a 216-megawatt (MW) order for the Northwind Offshore wind farm in Belgium. The farm is set to be built off the coast of Zeebrugge, on the Bank Zonder Naam.

According to the press release, the 216-MW order will include supplying and installing 72 V112-3.0 MW wind turbines for the project, along with commissioning them. Vestas is also scheduled to service the turbines under a 15-year agreement.

Juan Araluce, Chief Sales Officer of Vestas Wind Systems A/S said in the statement, "Vestas is very proud to be chosen by Northwind for the 216 MW offshore project in Belgium."



"This is a very important milestone for Vestas, as we look to strengthen our position within offshore. We are truly committed to the development of offshore wind energy and we are extremely proud to receive another strong customer commitment to our V112 platform technology," he also said.

Meanwhile, Frank Conen, Chief Executive Officer of Northwind NV, a company which is helping to build and keep up a wind farm on the Bank Zonder Naam, emphasized the need to work with Vestas in strengthening the wind farm.

"We have had a very fruitful relationship with Vestas over the years and we fully recognise their experience in the field of offshore wind. I am therefore very pleased to now be taking our partnership to the next level by having a signed agreement in place with Vestas for the Northwind Offshore Wind Farm. I hope to be taking the many lessons learned from the Belwind Bligh Bank project and actively putting these to good use when constructing this new offshore wind farm together," he said.

"I believe the V112-3.0 MW is a very competitive turbine, and I look forward to seeing it perform at Northwind," Conen also said in the statement.

The project is set for completion by the second quarter of 2014.

Source: Vestas wins 216MW Offshore Order in Belgium
Photo Credit: Vestas

Smart Grid Coming to Philadelphia Train Stations

Posted: 03 Jul 2012 07:43 AM PDT

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority announced last week the unveiling of what they are terming as a “ground-breaking recycled energy and optimization project.” The pilot project captures the braking energy of its trains on the Market-Frankford Line and integrates the captured energy into the regional electric grid.

Market-Frankford Line platform at 8th Street Station.

This is a unique step forward in the capture of kinetic energy. Many solutions have no feasible means to store the energy captured, for use later on or for reintegration into the grid. The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) believes that its project is the first to combine the capture of regenerative braking to provide supply savings with energy storage that provides support to the electric grid through the frequency regulation market. The result clearly creates a recurring economic value.

"Through this pilot project, SEPTA will become even more energy efficient, which will help control operating costs—benefiting both customers and taxpayers. We've made our system cleaner, greener and more efficient in recent years – things like replacing traditional diesel buses with diesel-electric hybrids and installing energy-efficient lighting at stations, facilities and offices," said Joe Casey, General Manager at SEPTA. "These measures are helping us control costs in tough economic conditions – and making us a better neighbor in the communities we serve."

SEPTA launched the pilot project in partnership with Viridity Energy, a smart grid technology firm that specializes in electric market integration. Saft was selected to provide the design, manufacturing and commissioning of its Intensium Max20 P System, a battery energy storage system (ESS). Envitech Energy, a member of the ABB group, was selected to provide power controls, power conversion and system integration using its ENVISTORETM System. With these partner technologies and Viridity Energy's VPower™ software optimization system, the train's regenerative braking energy is being transformed into virtual power that will provide significant energy savings and new energy revenue to support SEPTA's progressive sustainability goals.

Viridity Energy's VPower™ optimizer enables the simultaneous process of regenerative capture, regulation performance, and energy market participation by selecting which market to participate in based upon market pricing, battery state of charge, and availability of regenerative energy from the trains.

"We are excited to be a part of this groundbreaking achievement," said Audrey Zibelman, CEO and President of Viridity Energy. "In a smart grid world, two-way digital information exchange opens up new horizons. This project truly showcases the potential of that smart-grid world, particularly as it applies to the transportation industry. By harnessing the regenerative braking power of the trains and empowering SEPTA to become a virtual power generator that can provide valuable and environmentally responsible service to the electric grid, we can fulfill the promise of interconnected systems on the grid and behind the meter responding dynamically to reliability and economic signals to strengthen the grid."



With luck, this pilot project will be viewed as successful by other rail authorities the world over, and quickly implemented in stations across the world. There have been countless projects and studies that display just how much kinetic energy the movement of humans from home to work creates, so the fact that we are finally starting to capture that energy for productive uses is heartening.

For more history on this story, check out our previous posts:

The Polish metro service in Warsaw and ABB are also working on a system to capture the braking energy of their trains and use it to power accelerating trains. Though, this project will not include infusion of the captured energy into the electric grid.

Source: The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority
Image Source: Michael Hicks

LEDs Light Up the Largest Municipal Street Lighting Project in China

Posted: 03 Jul 2012 07:21 AM PDT

More than 1.9 million LED lights were recently installed in over 20,000 street lights the Beibei district of Chongqing, China in the country’s largest municipal intelligent lighting control project, which includes nearly 16 miles of highway, 119 streets, and one tunnel.

Officials estimate the installation will result in annual maintenance and electricity savings of more than RMB 19.5 million (approximately USD 3 million) and 17.6 million kWh.

On the Street of Beibei

The lights were installed with 1.9 million Cree XLamp XP-E and XP-G LEDs in an effort to improve living conditions for local citizens and to meet China’s stringent roadway lighting requirements for light efficacy, brightness, luminance, heat dissipation, and service lifespan.



Replacing antiquated sodium-vapor street lighting along the Yuwu Highway, extending from Chongqing to Wusheng, the street lights were fitted with Cree XLamp LEDs and engineered by Chongqing Silian Optoelectronics Science and Technology Corporation (Silian), a leading LED lighting company in China

Silian were the developers and manufacturers of the new intelligent light control system which features an advanced wireless network management system that uses sensors to detect light issues and adjust the brightness of the LED street lights in accordance with vehicle and pedestrian flow.

"We are very pleased with the performance of Cree's XLamp LEDs in our luminaire systems," said David Reid, chief operating officer, Silian. "Cree LEDs emit high-quality light with low heat dissipation that meets China's lighting standards while saving the municipality millions of Renmenbi."

"Cree LEDs are perfect for large-scale lighting projects such as the Beibei District installation," said Tang Guoqing, senior advisor, Cree Hong Kong Limited. "Designed to last more than 50,000 hours, Cree XLamp LEDs offer the high efficiency and easy integration with intelligent lighting systems needed to reduce overall costs while providing beautiful light."

Source: Cree
Image Source: Achiu

“Low-Cost” Wind Power Demonstration Project Now Under Construction

Posted: 03 Jul 2012 07:00 AM PDT

Wind power company Mass Megawatts has started work on a demonstration low-cost wind power system that uses “the company’s patented wind augmentation technology.”

The demonstration project will include a wind power system with the company’s patented technology and one without it.

“The Mass Megawatts’ wind augmentation system utilizes a less complicated and inexpensive wind-focusing technique to increase the wind velocity directed at the turbine by an average of 70%. This accelerated wind speed, in turn, triples the increase in the electrical power generated by the turbine,” the company writes.

The Company’s augmentation system eliminates the need for turbine structures to exceed a height of 80 feet to realize adequate wind velocity. This reduces material and installation costs while expediting zoning approval in many locations. Additionally, the augmenter technology makes it possible for turbines to operate profitably in lower wind-speed locations.

Using horizontal or propeller type turbine blades, the cost per rated kilowatt is projected to be less than $1000 and anticipated to approach $600 in mass production. This compares very favorably with traditional wind power systems that realize a cost of $1500 to $2000 per rated kilowatt.

If all the information above is correct and this company isn’t pulling our legs, that sounds mighty promising.

I don’t see any independent verifications of the claims above on the Mass Megawatts site, and the design is clearly looks quite a bit different from typical wind turbines. I can’t say I’m convinced the system is revolutionary, though. But what do I know — an engineer want to chime in with your opinion on this?

For a little more food for thought, perhaps, here’s a video on the technology:

U.S. Navy Fires off Another Round of Biofuel Power

Posted: 03 Jul 2012 05:31 AM PDT

Navy jet flies on biofuel

The U.S. Navy’s Green Strike Group has just sailed out to show off America’s biofuel-enabled power to the world this summer at the RIMPAC maritime exercise, so the timing is perfect for yet another biofuel announcement. This one involves the Navy, the Department of Energy and the Department of Agriculture in a $62 million, public-private effort to develop drop-in aviation biofuel and biodiesel on a cost-competitive scale. Hey, didn’t Congress just say there wouldn’t be any more spending on biofuels?

Biofuels Blow Past Congress

The announcement follows a months-long battle over the U.S. military’s biofuel initiatives, which ended up with a Republican-led attempt in Congress to prevent the Department of Defense from purchasing biofuels, at least not until the price reaches parity with fossil fuels.



Senator John McCain (R-AZ) also tacked on a provision that was supposed to prevent DoD from building its own biorefineries.

However, it seems that the Administration has found a way around both obstacles.

The new round of funding is made possible under a 1950′s-era authority within the Defense Production Act, which has been used routinely in the past to ensure the domestic availability of vital defense-related materials and products such as steel, aluminum and semiconductors.

Of the $62 million in funding, some will go to provide seed money for a new commercial-scale biorefinery as well as pilot and demonstration-scale projects.

Part of the funds will also be aimed at foundational biofuel research with a focus on non-food crops, algae and waste materials.

Together, the projects will help speed the private sector biofuel industry toward parity with petroleum fuel, rendering Congress’s action moot.

Getting Aviation Biofuel off the Ground

“Drop-in” is the catch for the Navy’s aviation biofuel. Qualifying fuels have to meet extreme performance standards for aircraft without damaging engines and related systems, and it also has to go through the existing transportation, storage and fueling infrastructure without damaging equipment or causing new health and safety issues.

The Navy and Air Force have been testing algae and camelina (a weedy plant) biofuel blended 50-50 with conventional fuel on a variety of aircraft including fighter jets and helicopters for more than a year, and so far the biofuel blends have gotten the green light (haha sorry, couldn’t resist that one).

In fact, as reported by Jim Lane over at Biofuels Digest, “new tests conducted at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base have revealed that US warplanes are capable of flying faster and carry more payload on missions, when flying with synthetic fuels, including biofuels, compared to conventional military jet fuels made from petroleum.”

RIMPAC and Navy Biofuels

Not for nothing, but RIMPAC (it stands for Rim of the Pacific) is a competitive exercise and it is the largest multinational exercise of its kind in the world, held every other year since 1971.

It will go on all through July with a total of 40 ships, six submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel from 22 countries including Australia, France, Japan, Republic of Korea, Russia and the U.K.

Aside from trying to out-do the other participants, the Navy’s Green Strike Group is there to show off the power of made-in-America fuels to the entire world, so you’d think that if anything the party of “support our troops” would be sending those ships and aircraft out with a loud cheer instead of trying to monkeywrench the entire biofuel program.

Oh, well.

Image: Some rights reserved by Official U.S. Navy Imagery.

Follow me on Twitter: @TinaMCasey.

China Quadruples 2015 Solar Power Target!

Posted: 02 Jul 2012 05:20 PM PDT

solar energy investment china

The global solar marketplace has a huge glut of solar panels and solar cells. This is the top reason why solar panel prices have plunged in the past year or so. And China’s tremendous manufacturing output is certainly a big part of that oversupply.

Now, it seems the country is looking to help relieve that glut a lot more by quadrupling its 2015 solar power targets! The new 2015 target is reportedly 21 GW of installed solar power capacity. This is quadruple its initial 2015 target. (Though, notably, a little more than one year ago, the country doubled its target to 10 GW, and it increased it again to 15 GW in December.)

To put that into perspective, the top 5 countries for total installed solar PV power capacity (and their capacity) at the end of 2011 were:

  1. Germany — 24.7 GW
  2. Italy — 12.8 GW
  3. Japan — 4.9 GW
  4. Spain — 4.4 GW
  5. USA — 4.4 GW

China had about 3.1 GW.

Italy installed the most new solar power capacity last year at about 9.3 GW.

China’s target also includes concentrating solar thermal power plants, 1 GW worth, but that leaves 20 GW of its target for solar PV.

These details were passed along to Bloomberg by phone today, and the official announcement/plan is supposed to be coming soon.

When China’s 2015 solar target was 5 GW, its 2020 solar target was 20 GW. It’s nice to see it has really stepped on the gas and increased that target by 5 years. But at this rate of change, perhaps the 2015 target will reach 25 or 30 GW in six months.

“The government has considered an increase since last year as solar panel makers led by Suntech Power Holdings Co. and Trina Solar Ltd. suffer from cuts in European subsidies and a global supply glut that drove prices lower,” Bloomberg reported.

"With a significant tumble in photovoltaic prices, the timetable for mass use is ahead of time," said Lian Rui, a senior analyst for the research company Solarbuzz. "The new target is still very conservative; we expect the installation to surpass 30 gigawatts."

Yep, you read that right. 20 GW is just a target — the expectation is that the country will actually hit 30 GW by 2015. I’m just going to go out on a limb and predict another big increase in its 2015 target sometime around December.

Combined with Japan’s big feed-in tariff news last month, the global solar industry must be feeling pretty good right now, and I wonder if we could ‘soon’ see the solar power leaders shift from Europe to Asia.

Here are some more details on solar policies and trends in China from Bloomberg:

China has offered financial assistance for projects under the so-called Golden Sun program since 2009 to stimulate renewable energy. The nation in May chose GCL-Poly Energy Holdings Ltd., Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. and about 100 other developers of projects with 1.7 gigawatts of combined capacity to be eligible for a subsidy of 5.5 yuan a watt under the program in 2012.

In January, Suntech Chief Executive Officer Shi Zhengrong and Trina CEO Gao Jifan said China may double its installations of solar panels this year, absorbing excess production that depressed prices and profit margins in 2011.

JinkoSolar Holding Co. expects the domestic market to account for as much as 12 percent of sales this year, double that of a year earlier, Chief Executive Officer Chen Kangping said in April. Yingli Chairman Miao Liansheng said in May China will account for 30 percent of revenue this year, while Germany and the U.S. currently make up about 80 percent of its sales.

Pretty good news to start off the month. What’s your take on this? And what do you think China will really hit in 2015? Maybe we should take some bets. :D

Source: Renewable Energy World/Bloomberg
Image Credit: China & solar panel via shutterstock

Q.CELLS Solar Projects Totaling 30 MW Completed

Posted: 02 Jul 2012 02:31 PM PDT

Q.CELLS North America has completed two solar PV projects totaling 30 MW for PG&E. The projects, the 20-MW Cantua project and the 10-MW Giffen project, are located in Cantua Creek in California's Central Valley.

Q.CELLS is one of PG&E’s preferred partners in the 250 MW utility-owned generation (UOG) program. “The UOG program enables 250 MW of utility-owned solar PV to be developed over a five-year period.”

For more info, see: Q.CELLS Completes PG&E Solar Plant Projects as Part of Utility-Owned Generation (UOG) Program.

20-MW Solar Project Completed in California

Posted: 02 Jul 2012 02:23 PM PDT

Cupertino Electric has completed a 20-MW solar PV project in Huron, California for electric utility PG&E.

20 Megawatt solar farm engineered and constructed by Cupertino Electric for PG&E in Huron, Calif. (Photo: Business Wire)

The project was built in just 8 months and is now in commercial operation. This is ”the third project that Cupertino Electric has built for PG&E under the utility's five-year clean energy initiative.”

For more info, check out: Cupertino Electric Completes 20 Megawatt Solar Project for PG&E to Help Meet California Renewable Generation Goals or the CEI site.

Martha’s Vineyard Fishermen Drop Cape Wind Lawsuit

Posted: 02 Jul 2012 02:11 PM PDT

The Martha's Vineyard / Dukes County Fishermen's Association (MVDCFA) has dropped a federal lawsuit against the Cape Wind offshore wind project, it was recently reported.

According to Martha’s Vineyard Patch, “the Martha's Vineyard Fishermen and Cape Wind have agreed to work together to support sustainable local Island commercial fisheries and sustainable energy.”

“In exchange for dropping the lawsuit, Cape Wind has agreed to fund a new fishing permit program. The Martha's Vineyard Permit Bank will enable the purchase of commercial fishing permits for local commercial fishermen's use and the promotion of 'Vineyard wild-caught' seafood.”

Tesla’s Elon Musk Predicts 50% of New Cars EVs in 20 Years; Model S Gets EPA Rating of 89 MPGe, 265-Mile Range

Posted: 02 Jul 2012 01:33 PM PDT


The Model S came out to rave reviews on Friday. Also, as indicated in the Gas2 repost below, the car has received an EPA rating of 89 MPGe and 265 miles of range. This comes close to backing up Tesla’s previously unverified range claim of 300 miles.

Tesla reports that its first batch of 6,500 Model S EVs are sold out. And, not only that, Tesla CEO Elon Musk is predicting that “more than half of new cars manufactured will be fully electric” in 20 years. He’s confident enough about that to say that it’s “a bet I will put money on.” Actually, ”it’s probably going to be in the 12- to 15-year time frame,” he says. Hmm, that would be something.

Michael Graham Richard of TreeHugger has some good thoughts on this:

Are things likely to happen that way? It’s hard to say, but I do know that non-linear systems can surprise people when tipping points are reached. It wasn’t that long ago that almost nobody had cellphones, and someone looking at the cellphone adoption rate could have projected that it would take decades for cellphones to reach even a pretty small market share.

But at some point, certain conditions were met and cellphone adoption exploded rapidly, faster than almost anyone could have predicted. These conditions were things like price, performance, size and portability, the network effect (the more people have them, the more useful they become), features, familiarity, etc.

Electric cars aren’t cellphones and even if they reach the right conditions, adoption won’t be as fast. But it could be much faster than some people think. Once you reach a certain level of price, performance, familiarity, and infrastructure, things could happen rapidly. At some point, most new car buyers just won’t have much reason to prefer a gasoline car over a fully electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle, and with some help from high oil prices and a better economy, people will be more ready to spend a bit more upfront for big fuel savings over time.

Here are more details on the Tesla Model S from Gas2:

EPA Rates Tesla Model S At 89 MPGe, 265-Mile Range (via Gas 2.0)

It's hard to believe that of all the major automakers around the world, it took an upstart known as Tesla to build and sell a viable electric car. Sure, the Tesla Model S starts at $50,000 after tax breaks, but the EPA rating now certifies the mileage claims from Tesla itself. The EPA has officially…

Fuel Cells to Power CBS Studios in California

Posted: 02 Jul 2012 12:56 PM PDT

In what’s becoming a trend, CBS is the latest high-profile public corporation to turn to fuel cells as a means of “greening” its power supply. United Technologies Corp. subsidiary UTC Power is installing six PureCell stationary fuel cell systems at two CBS Studios’ production locations in California, it was announced today.

Three PureCell units are to be installed at CBS Studio Center, a production and office facility in Studio City with 18 sound stages. Another three will be installed at CBS Television City in Los Angeles, which houses eight sound stages and office space. The studios are home to shows including Entertainment Tonight, The Price is Right, CSI: NY, NCIS, American Idol and Dancing with the Stars, according to UTC Power’s press release.



Combined Heat & Clean Power

Making use of both the electrical power and heat — combined heat and power (CHP) — generated is a big advantage of fuel cell systems. The PureCell fuel cells will produce a total 2.4 MW of clean electrical power, enough to meet 40% and 60% of the studios’ respective power needs. Thermal energy from the fuel cell systems will be used for cooling both studios, as well as space and hot water heating at Television City.

The PureCell systems will also enhance the studios’ energy security. Four of the units will be configured for grid-independent operation, supplying electrical power to the studios in the event of a power outage, according to UTC Power.

“Fuel cells are a great fit for our business and sustainability goals," commented aid Michael Klausman, president, CBS Studio Center & senior VP Operations, CBS Television City.

"With the installation of these PureCell systems, we will substantially increase our energy security by being able to continue operations in the event of a grid outage and, equally important, the installation is projected to reduce our impact on the environment and provide significant energy cost savings for our business."

In terms of being more environmentally friendly, the PureCell systems rate highly. They’ll avoid some 2,370 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, which is the equivalent of planting nearly 550 acres of trees, according to UTC Power. Reductions in nitrogen oxide (NOX) emissions, as compared to a conventional power plant, will equate to taking 357 petrol-powered cars off the road.

Installing the fuel cell systems will also conserve a lot in the way of water: CBS will save more than 2.8 million gallons of water per year, enough to fill 4-1/2 Olympic swimming pools, UTC Power notes.

"We are thrilled to provide fuel cells for CBS, a world-renowned company with a long and proud history," commented Joe Triompo, UTC Power vice president and general manager. “Our efficient PureCell systems are a great fit for these busy studios and will help CBS to lower their energy costs, increase their energy security and reduce their environmental emissions by producing clean, reliable power on-site."

Scheduled to be installed later this year, supporting funding is being provided by California’s Self-Generation Incentive Program. According to UTC Power, the PureCell systems being installed at CBS Studios will operate at an industry-leading 90% efficiency, with an industry-best fuel cell stack life of 10 years.

Photo Credit: UTC Power Fuel Cell Installation at WTC, NYC; courtesy UTC Power

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