Tuesday, November 24th, 2009
U.S. researchers have demonstrated a technology that uses the sun’s heat to convert carbon dioxide and water into the building blocks of traditional fuels, a reverse combustion process that may emerge as a practical alternative to sequestration of CO2 emissions from power plants.
The prototype “Sunshine to Petrol” system, developed by Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico, uses concentrated solar energy to trigger a thermo-chemical reaction in an iron-rich composite located inside a two-sided cylindrical chamber.
The iron oxide is designed to lose an oxygen molecule when exposed to 1,500 degree C heat, and then retrieve an oxygen molecule when it is cooled down, essentially converting an incoming supply of CO2 into an outgoing stream of carbon monoxide.
Monday, November 16th, 2009
GE just invested in them. Now, Guy Sella, founder and CEO of Israeli company SolarEdge, is planning a revolution. Don’t be alarmed though, this one isn’t dangerous. His goal is to transform the way photovoltaic systems are now operated, in terms of efficiency, safety and cost.
“People haven’t been looking at photovoltaic systems from a holistic point of view,” Sella tells ISRAEL21c. “Panel manufacturers care only about the panels and panel conversion efficiency. The people that develop classical inverters only care about the efficiency of the inverter. I asked: can we create a system that is better than we currently have?”
Sunday, November 15th, 2009
For years now, many members of Congress have insisted that cutting carbon emissions was difficult, if not impossible. It is not. During the two years since 2007, carbon emissions have dropped 9 percent. While part of this drop is from the recession, part of it is also from efficiency gains and from replacing coal with natural gas, wind, solar, and geothermal energy.
The United States has ended a century of rising carbon emissions and has now entered a new energy era, one of declining emissions. Peak carbon is now history. What had appeared to be hopelessly difficult is happening at amazing speed.
For a country where oil and coal use have been growing for more than a century, the fall since 2007 is startling. In 2008, oil use dropped 5 percent, coal 1 percent, and carbon emissions by 3 percent. Estimates for 2009, based on U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) data for the first nine months, show oil use down by another 5 percent. Coal is set to fall by 10 percent. Carbon emissions from burning all fossil fuels dropped 9 percent over the two years.
Wednesday, November 11th, 2009
The solar power boom in Germany, Spain, and parts of the United States has been fueled by government subsidies. But now some U.S. states — led by New Jersey, of all places — are pioneering a different approach: issuing tradable credits that can be sold on the open market. So far, the results have been promising.
In the last seven years, 4,334 solar installations have been built in New Jersey, including this rooftop project at a Hillsborough department store.
California is the number one U.S. state for solar power generation — not a surprise. The country’s most populous state, with an inclination for progressive environmental policies also happens to enjoy sun in abundance.
What state might be number two? Surely some other large southerly state. Arizona? Maybe sunshine-state Florida?
Not even close. Number two for solar electric power, and number one in total solar installations on a per capita basis, is small and not-so-sunny New Jersey, more known environment-wise for its abundance of Superfund sites. What’s perhaps most remarkable is how quickly the state got to the runner-up spot, from six solar installations only seven years ago to 4,340 today. Even in the throes of the recession, solar installers (120 of them today, versus two at the turn of the millennium) are reporting booming business.
Wednesday, November 4th, 2009
A $400 billon (£240 billion) plan to provide Europe with solar power from the Sahara desert moved a step closer to reality with the formation of a consortium of 12 companies to carry out the work. Known as the Desertec Industrial Initiative (DDI), the German-led consortium consists of some of country’s biggest engineering and power companies, along with Munich Re, the largest reinsurer in the world.
Since the project was first announced in July, the DII has gained support from a wide variety of political and governmental institutions in the Middle East, North Africa and Europe.
Friday, October 30th, 2009
The developing world, where 44 percent of people lack access to electricity, could soon be one of the biggest markets for solar power, according to participants at the Solar Power International conference in California.
To date, just 1 percent of solar panel production has been installed in poor nations in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, a situation that Michael Eckhart, president of the American Council on Renewable Energy, called “a scandal for our industry.”
Monday, October 26th, 2009
Turkey’s alternative energy potential is huge, but it remains locked – at least so far. Earlier this month, Ankara hosted the International Energy Congress on Renewable Energy where the Turkish energy sector was the main discussion point. The congress attracted a record number of participants from public and private sectors, including the Turkish Minister of Energy and members of the country’s Parliament. It was once more observed that the potential of investments in Turkey is by far exceeding the enthusiasm of the bureaucrats and the readiness of the Turkish infrastructure.
Monday, October 19th, 2009
Ormat Technologies, Inc., announced today that its Israeli subsidiary, Ormat Systems Ltd., has signed a Joint Venture Agreement (“JVA”) with Sunday Energy Ltd. (“Sunday”), an Israeli solar integration company, to construct and operate solar-photovoltaic (“PV”) energy systems in Israel with a total capacity of 36 megawatts (MW).
Under the JVA, Sunday will contribute the rights to all of its property and roofs required to develop solar energy systems above 1 MW to special purpose entities (“SPEs”). Ormat will own 70% of each SPE and will also have control of it. Under the terms of the agreement, Ormat and Sunday will act, jointly, as the engineering, procurement and construction (“EPC”) contractor and the operator of each project in accordance with each company share in the SPEs .
Saturday, October 17th, 2009
For more than 40 years, scientists have dreamed of collecting the sun’s energy in space and beaming it back to Earth. Now, a host of technological advances, coupled with interest from the U.S. military, may be bringing that vision close to reality.
Despite the enormous promise of solar power, the drawbacks of the technology remain significant. People need electricity every day, around the clock, but there’s no part of the United States that is cloud-free 365 days a year — and no solar radiation at night. You have to find some way to store the energy for those sunless periods, and there’s not yet a large-scale way to do that.
Moreover, the best locations for solar arrays — the deserts of the American Southwest — are far from the centers of population, so even under the best of circumstances you’d have to send electricity many hundreds of miles through transmission lines that don’t yet exist.
Friday, October 16th, 2009
The so-called “thermeleon” (rhymes with chameleon) technology uses a common commercial polymer trapped between layers of plastic, including a black layer at the back. When the temperature drops, the white layer disappears, exposing the black layer.
The MIT graduates say the tiles reflect about 80 percent of the sun’s heat when they are white, translating into a 20 percent savings in cooling costs. When the tiles turn dark, they absorb about 70 percent of solar energy.