Wednesday, August 12th, 2009
“We will have solar energy as soon as the utility companies solve one technical problem – how to run a sunbeam through a meter” — anonymous
There is a lot of buzz going on these days about the role solar will play in the current clean tech revolution occurring around the world. Many people find solar interesting but don’t know how it works, why it is gaining so much popularity and how they can get involved. Below are some of the resources I have used to make the world of solar easier to understand.
First question to answer: What is solar? For this you should read the wiki description of solar power.
Now that you understand some of the history of solar power, you may want to understand one of the most common ways that solar power is converted into electricity, for this you should read about photovoltaics or PV.
Monday, August 10th, 2009
Biofuels – made from algae and non-food plants – are emerging as a potentially viable alternative to conventional jet fuels. Although big challenges remain, the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions could be major.
Earlier this year, a Continental jet accelerated down the runway at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston. Nothing out of the ordinary for Capt. Rich Jankowski, who countless times in his 38-year career had eased such two-engine Boeing 737-800s into the sky. Except on this experimental flight, one of the engines Jankowski relied on was burning fuel derived from microscopic algae to push the 45-ton aircraft into the air and keep it aloft — a first in aviation history.
Monday, August 10th, 2009
The rapid growth of wind power in Texas is already reducing consumption of natural gas and lowering the cost of electricity generation in the state, according to a Wall Street research group. Bernstein Research reports that the rising output of wind turbines in Texas — the world’s sixth-largest producer of wind power — has eliminated the need to fire up natural gas-powered generators to meet the last bit of demand during periods of low energy usage.
Powering up natural gas generators is expensive, and Bernstein reports that the spreading use of wind turbines “can have a material impact on the price of power.” The report predicted that the “growth of wind power in (Texas) over the next three years will markedly lower the consumption of gas and coal by conventional generators.”
Monday, August 10th, 2009
For thousands of years, the native Aymara people have been harvesting scarcely fallen raindrops along the Andean foothills in northern Chile by capturing the rainwater in nets for irrigation and drinking purposes. The people in this region, in and around the Atacama desert, are accustomed to fragile ecosystems and an extremely dry climate. However, today, even in the fertile central and southern regions of Chile, there are noticeable tensions over water rights and water availability.
Presently, it is not as if there are times when nothing flows out of the tap here. Nor are the urban folks of Santiago running outside their homes with their own polypropylene mesh nets ready to catch any drop of rain that falls. However, a convergence of factors – an increase in population growth, perceptible changes in climate patterns, and competition for water resources between various industries and hydro power – have caused a national “war over water” of sorts to emerge at the forefront of national environmental, economic, and political discussions.
Tuesday, August 4th, 2009
When Congress returns from its summer vacation it will consider legislation that could energize investment in renewable energy projects with an almost “cash for clunkers”-like fervor.
Like the cash for clunkers legislation (and American Idol, and The Office), a feed-in tariff bill would be a ripoff of a European idea modified for American consumption. Bills that would require utilities to pay a premium for renewable power have been tried and failed here before, but the time (and composition of the Congress) may be right for the fight to take flight.
Introduced by Democratic Senators Jay Inslee (WA) and Bill Dellahunt (MA), the bill would guarantee a market for the renewable power projects and would do much to calms fears in today’s skittish investment arena. Feed-in tariffs have been overwhelmingly successful in Germany and Spain, basically creating the solar industries in both those countries.
Because a feed-in tariff promises American jobs and reduces foreign energy dependency, Congress will likely give the idea more of a fair hearing when the leaves begin to turn in DC.
Saturday, August 1st, 2009
The Pacific Northwest just finished four days of triple digit temperatures, which put the heat on renewable energy sources to keep up with demand. Just as records were being set for power consumption, wind power generation slowed due to the calm air from the locked-in high pressure system.
The extreme weather highlights the reality that wind — and to a lesser extent hydropower — may not be a panacea for power production.
Southern Washington and the Portland metro area had a record breaking streak of warmth that pushed energy demand to record highs, but the high pressure system also featured calm breezes. The local utility Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) had to quickly balance the reduction in wind power with increases in hydropower.
Friday, July 31st, 2009
The goal is to enable power generation from low-temperature geothermal resources at an economical cost. In addition to being a clean energy source without any greenhouse gas emissions, geothermal is also a steady and dependable source of power.
A new method for capturing significantly more heat from low-temperature geothermal resources holds promise for generating virtually pollution-free electrical energy. Scientists at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) are testing a new innovative approach to safely and economically extract and convert heat from vast untapped geothermal resources.
Thursday, July 30th, 2009
The Turkish Statistical Institute announced that the Turkish economy shrank 13.8% and that the unemployment rate increased to 14.9% in the first quarter. Despite these difficult economic conditions, the Turkish wind industry is still one of the fastest growing industries in the country. One reason is that Turkey may face electricity shortages in the near future, furthermore Turkey has just ratified [the] Kyoto agreement which is going to result in carbon emission reduction targets for the post 2013 period.
Among other renewable resources, wind has been the most popular and most approachable power source in the last four years. The use of wind power started around 1,000-1,200 AD in Anatolia, as early as in other European countries. However, Turkey’s development throughout the centuries has not been as fast as that of its counterparts. At the time when Turkey installed its first 0.5 MW wind turbine in Izmir in 1998, Germany had already installed almost 3,000 MW.
Monday, July 27th, 2009
The “locavore” movement is big, especially in California. With the bounty of food found locally in the Bay Area, living off the land — and sea — is not only possible, but also a delicious exercise.
But there’s another, less obvious, revolution brewing here in the Bay Area: the “locavolt” movement. In response to high gasoline and natural gas prices, global warming and an increasingly unstable, scary world, people are looking to generate power right in their own homes and neighborhoods with free energy from nature.
Technology advances in computers, telecommunications, generators, inverters, and even cars, are all giving the locavolt new tools to harness renewable energy and lead a fairly normal life.
Within the next few years, plug-in hybrid cars in California will be able to serve as a mini-power generator for your home and store renewable energy from your solar photovoltaics system or your small wind turbine. Plug-in hybrids may also help balance out a smarter electricity grid capable of easily sending power back and forth between generators and consumers, much like we send and receive e-mails on the Internet today.
Friday, July 24th, 2009
BrightView Systems, a Petah Tikva, Israel-based start-up developing production process optimization tools for the solar industry, and the Thin-Film Photovoltaics Laboratory at IMT, a world leading lab in silicon-based thin-film solar cells research, part of the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL), are joining forces to introduce novel solutions for the optimization of next generation thin-film solar cells production.
According to a joint press release, BrightView’s advanced solutions will be utilized to provide real-time feedback to encompass a complete framework for process optimization that is scalable from pilot line to mass production of large area panels.
In January 2009 BrightView finalized a $6 million Series A financing by Israel Cleantech Ventures and Hasso Plattner Ventures. (more…)