This week’s round up of greentech news is out of this world ;o)
NASA are developing a solar panel satellite that could provide one third of the world’s electricity needs. Thousands of mirrors on the satellite would focus the sunlight onto PV panels which would then convert the sunlight to microwaves which could be beamed back to earth.
Using a satellite rather than earth based solar farms would benefit from stronger sunlight and would not be disrupted by poor weather read more (update – NASA website is currently unavailable due to the shut down of the US government
Back down on earth Siemens won a contract to supply 24 wind turbines for four wind farms in northern France more
In the UK a disused landfill site that was converted into a solar farm has turned out to be the perfect habitat for wild chamomile. Solar farms with their large areas of open space and relatively small amount of disturbance from humans allow wildlife to flourish more
Researchers at the University of Alberta have developed a way to manufacture printable solar panels using phosphorus and zinc. The discovery could lead to further falls in the price of PV panels as these elements are abundant in the earth’s crust more
An electric hybrid vehicle inspired round up of greentech news for the weekending 25 August…
Following the success of the €1m LaFerrari the Italian sports car manufacturer has announced plans to develop more hybrid vehicles more
And another hybrid sports car manufacturer Telsa announced plans to expand into China on the back of strong Hong Kong sales. China is a key market for hybrid and electric cars which can provide automobiles demanded by a growing middle class without the pollution that comes with traditional fuels.
Finally the world’s biggest manufacture of hybrid vehicles Toyota announced discounts for it’s all electric RAV4 more
Here is your round up of greentech news…
UK based installer Solinium used solar slate tiles to enable Buckingham Group Contracting to generating their own local electricity at a new office in Amersham. We really like these tiles which overcome a lot of the aesthetic problems associated with traditional PV panels. Keep an eye on this blog for a more in depth look at solar slate tiles later this year…
California Governor Jerry Brown announced plans to ‘bottle sunlight’. In other words the state is looking at large scale storage solutions to enable power to be provided through peaks in demand more
Clarkson University has teamed up with The Centre for Evaluation of Clean Energy Technology (CECET) and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) in opening a $1.2m wind turbine test facility more
Three years after President Obama pledged to install solar panels on the White House work has commenced on the project. A White House official stated that the installation is “part of an energy retrofit that will improve the overall energy efficiency of the building”. Jimmy Carter first installed solar panels in the 1970s but these were removed by Ronald Regan during the environmentally unenlightened 1980s.
More greentech stories that were making the news while we were on our summer break…
A majority of European states reportedly endorsed the amicable solution reached in the EU-China solar trade dispute details
Indian railways announced plans to use solar power to provide air conditioning and light in passenger coaches more
Australia’s largest concentrated solar power plant launched in Mildura, Victoria
The 1.5 MW demo facility is the first stage in the development of a 100 MW facility being developed by Solar Systems. The CSP array uses curved mirrors to focus sunlight onto ultra efficient photovoltaic cells more
Catching up from our summer break. Here are the greentech stories that were making the news in the first week of August…
BMW unveiled it’s new electric vehicle the i3. The 170 horse power electric motor accelerates the car from 0-100 kmh in 7.2 seconds.
In a move to overcome customer fears about limited range BMW announced an option to borrow a petrol powered SUV such as the X5 for longer journeys more
BP reversed it’s decision to sell 16 wind farms due to a lack of demand from the market more
The first wind turbines were installed at the German offshore wind farm Borkum West 2
When completed the wind farm will generate 400MW of power through 80 wind turbines.
China and Uganda signed a memorandum of understanding for construction of the 188MW Isimba Falls hydropower plant. The $570m project is expected to be completed in 2018.
Greentech round up for the week
Republicans proposed cutting nearly $3 billion from the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget denying funds for president Obama’s plan to combat global warming more
Ford ended a partnership with Toyota to develop a hybrid system for pick-ups and SUVs. The two car producers mutally agreed to end their collaboration at the end of the R&D phase more
Biofuel makers in the US urged the federal govenment to ease quotas for the use of renewable fuels. A fall in the amount of gasoline being consumed means that refiners can’t sell enough ethanol without exceeding the 10% blend deemed safe for all vehicles more
Supporters of fossil fuels often mention predictability of supply in their argument against renewable energy sources. Put simply solar power is only effective when the sun is shining and likewise wind power only generates electricity on a windy day. While this criticism is not valid for all forms of renewable power (hydro and geothermal are some of the most consistently reliable energy sources) it is true that solar and wind power are very susceptible to peaks and troughs in supply. The traditional response has been to vary the feed into the grid from more reliable power sources such as coal, gas or nuclear to balance energy production with demand.
However while it is the case that sometimes there is insufficient power generated othertimes too much power can be generated. Domestic energy requirements tend to be lower during the day, ironically when the sun is shining and solar power production is most effective. When the wind blows strongly massive wind turbines can generate more power than is required by the electricity grid. Recently there have been some interesting developments that promise to improve the reliability of supply from renewable sources by storing excess power so that it can be released later to better match demand.
In Germany domestic solar customers are able to benefit from a hybrid solar invertor and energy management system. At the heart of the systmem are advanced Li-ion batteries that enable electricity to be consumed in the evening when demand is highest.
A typical household is estimated to be able to produce 80% of it’s own power using this system. Similar improvements in battery life are also improving the reliability of electric cars giving greater range to emission free runabouts.
Apple have filed a patent application for a wind turbine that generates heat instead of electricity.
The heat is used to generate steam to turn turbines which produce electricity. The benefit of this design is that heat is easier to store for long periods than electricity.
But perhaps the most original solution has been put forward by the Belgium government who plan to build a doughnut shaped island 5km offshore to store excess energy from wind farms. When additional power is needed valves would be opened allowing the water to flow back into the island turning hydroelectric turbines in the process.
We think that these ideas are hugely exciting and variations that offer even more innovative solutions to store energy will further improve the reliability of renewable power sources in future years
This week’s greentech news from around the world…
Solar stocks rose on news that China plans to add 10 GW of solar power a year for the next three years. The government also announced tax breaks for solar companies that acquire others more
UK utility company RWE claims that British power bills will increase by 20% by 2020 in order to pay for new power plants aimed at cutting pollution more
Electric car maker Telsa has replaced Oracle in the Nasdaq 100 index
Tesla shares have tripled this year with sales of the new Model S sedan helping the company achieve profitability more
A heatwave in Europe saw Germany break it’s previous record for solar power production. Output reached 23.9 GW on breaking the previous record set in June more
The city of San Diego is considering a 500 MW hydroelectric power plant to offset decomissioned nuclear capacity more
UK solar energy provider Eco Sustainable Solutions has submitted plans for a second solar energy farm on the outskirsts of Christchurch. The 173 acre farm will generate 36 MW, enough to power 9,000 homes more
BP North America’s plan for a 500 MW ind power project has been approved by the US Government more
Solar powered aircraft the Solar Impulse landed at JFK after succesfully completing it’s journey from California. The plane which is powered by 11,000 solar cells began it’s cross continantal journey back in May more