Solar Cells You Can See Through

Did you know that you can have the best of both worlds? Solar energy and a view. A team of researchers as Michigan State University (MSU) have done just this- developed a new type of solar concentrator that when placed over a window, creates energy but doesn’t block the view. It is called a transparent luminescent solar concentrator and can be used on buildings, cell phones and any other device that has a clear surface.

MSU Solar Concentrator ModuleThe key word here is “transparent” according to Richard Lunt of MSU’s College of Engineering.

While research in this arena is not new, the results were poor as the energy production was low and inefficient and the materials were colored thereby blocking the view below the solar cell. The MSU solar harvesting system uses small organic molecules developed by Lunt and his team to absorb specific nonvisible wavelengths of sunlight better than its predecessors.

“No one wants to sit behind colored glass,” said Lunt, an assistant professor of chemical engineering and materials science. “It makes for a very colorful environment, like working in a disco. We take an approach where we actually make the luminescent active layer itself transparent. We can tune these materials to pick up just the ultraviolet and the near infrared wavelengths that then ‘glow’ at another wavelength in the infrared.”

The “glowing” infrared light is guided to the edge of the plastic where it is converted to electricity by thin strips of photovoltaic solar cells. “Because the materials do not absorb or emit light in the visible spectrum, they look exceptionally transparent to the human eye,” Lunt said.

One of the benefits of this new development is its flexibility. While the technology is at an early stage, it has the potential to be scaled to commercial or industrial applications with an affordable cost. Lunt noted that more work is needed in order to improve its energy-producing efficiency. Currently it is able to produce a solar conversion efficiency close to 1 percent, but noted they aim to reach efficiencies beyond 5 percent when fully optimized. The best colored LSC has an efficiency of around 7 percent.

Ecotech’s Clean Jobs Index Shows Clean Job Growth

Screen Shot 2014-08-14 at 8.40.16 AMThere are more than two million job postings in the clean and sustainable energy sector for the first two quarters of 2014, according to Ecotech Institute’s Clean Job Index that looks at job postings in the green energy sector. This is nearly a 88 percent increase from this time last year. Ecotech Institute created the Clean Jobs Index to provide objective job information about the renewable energy industry.

Highlights from the Clean Jobs Index Q1 and Q2 2014:

  • Number of U.S. Clean Jobs Postings in Q1 and Q2 2014: 2,637,133 (an 87.5 percent increase from Q1 and Q2 2013)
  • Number of New Clean Jobs since January 1, 2014: 1.2 million

Ecotech Institute prepares students for jobs in clean energy. Below is a list of some of the fastest growing job sectors of clean energy:

  • Power Utility Technology: 132 percent increase in jobs from 2013
  • Solar Energy Technology: 116 percent increase in jobs from 2013
  • Electrical Engineering Technology: 74 percent increase in jobs from 2013
  • Wind Energy Technology: 65 percent increase in jobs from 2013
  • Facility Management: 64 percent increase in jobs from 2013
  • Renewable Energy Technology: 63 percent increase in jobs from 2013
  • Energy Efficiency: 53 percent increase in jobs from 2013

“This Clean Jobs Index really demonstrates the rapid growth of the sustainable energy industry,” said Chris Gorrie, academic dean at Ecotech Institute. “Almost double the clean jobs were posted in the first half of 2014 compared to the first half of 2013. Ecotech Institute is the only educational institution out there that’s entirely focused on this space, and makes sure students are prepared for these available green energy jobs.”

Solar & Storage Microgrid Project Planned for Vermont

A new solar + storage microgrid project has been announced for Rutland, Vermont. The Stafford Hills project is being developed by Green Mountain Power in collaboration with Dynapower and GroSolar. The U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Electricity along with the Energy Storage Technology Advancement Partnership (ESTAP) funded the energy storage component project along with funds from the State of Vermont. In addition, the project is being managed by Clean Energy States Alliance and Sandia National Laboratories.

Solar + Storage System in Vermont“This project is a national model for the future of clean energy – combining solar with energy storage,” said Lewis Milford, president of Clean Energy Group, which manages the Clean Energy States Alliance. “Solar power and battery storage will provide clean reliable power to a school that serves as an emergency shelter, helping a community cope with loss of power in a future disaster. This new form of resilient power is what all communities need to protect themselves from power outages in severe weather events.”

According to Clean Energy Group, this project is unique in several ways:

  • It is one of the first exclusively solar-powered microgrids in the US, and the first to provide full back-up to an emergency shelter on the distribution network;
  • It is the first solar+storage microgrid to be developed on a brownfield site, contributing to brownfield redevelopment efforts in Rutland, VT;
  • It incorporates 7,722 solar panels, capable of generating 2.5 MW of electricity, helping GMP to reach its goal of making Rutland, VT the Solar Capital of New England, and helping Vermont to reach its renewable energy goals;
  • It incorporates 4 MW of battery storage, both lithium ion and lead acid, to integrate the solar generation into the local grid, and to provide resilient power in case of a grid outage;
  • It incorporates innovative multi-port inverters designed specifically for this project by Dynapower, a local Vermont firm;
  • It will provide resilient power to a Rutland school that serves as a public emergency shelter (additional critical facilities may be similarly supported by this microgrid in the future); and
  • It will provide clean, distributed generation and resilient power to an economically challenged, urban community that is targeted for revitalization, and that suffers frequent power outages due to storms.

Dr. Imre Gyuk, Energy Storage Program Manager in the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, U.S. Department of Energy, added, “This project provides resilient power during emergencies while benefitting the grid at other times. The technical innovations will reduce cost and make the project commercially viable. This is the perfect project! It has social value, technical innovation, and furthers renewable integration for the grid.”

Sierra Magazine Releases 2014 Coolest Schools

The “Coolest Schools” in America rankings are out and the top school is University of California, Irvine. Compiled annually by Sierra Club, the rankings focus on America’s greenest colleges. The ranking universities displayed a deep and Dickinson College Studentsthorough commitment to protecting the environment, addressing climate issues, and encouraging environmental responsibility. More than 150 schools filled out an extensive survey created in a collaboration between Sierra and the Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. Using a customized scoring system, Sierra ranked the universities based on their commitment to upholding high environmental standards.

“For eight years Sierra magazine has encouraged America’s colleges and universities to fully embrace their unique and multifaceted role in tackling the climate crisis and protecting America’s air, water, public health, and beautiful places,” said Bob Sipchen, Sierra magazine’s editor in chief. “From innovative research and development to powering campuses with wind and solar, to educating students in the most advanced thinking on sustainability, colleges and universities are leaders and models for the rest of society. Sierra magazine congratulates those that made our annual ‘Coolest Schools’ list.”

Sierra magazine’s top 10 schools of 2014 are:

1. University of California, Irvine (Irvine, CA)
2. American University (Washington, DC)
3. Dickinson College (Carlisle, PA)
4. Loyola University Chicago (Chicago, IL)
5. Lewis and Clark College (Portland, OR)
6. Stanford University (Stanford, CA)
7. University of South Florida (Tampa, FL)
8. Green Mountain College (Poultney, VT)
9. University of Connecticut (Storrs, CT)
10. Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, GA)

This is UC Irvine’s fifth consecutive year as a top 10 finalist, but its first time as the winner, thanks in part to its three on-campus solar projects, a 19-megawatt turbine cogeneration plant, and energy-efficiency goals that are consistently exceeded. Other factors that helped those at the top of our list: American University has D.C.’s largest solar array; Dickinson runs an organic farm; Stanford is divesting from coal; and USF supplies a solar charging station for electric vehicles.

“The Cool Schools ranking is yet another indication of how deeply young people understand the benefits of clean energy and of how adept they are at turning awareness into action,” said Karissa Gerhke, director of the Sierra Student Coalition. “To capitalize on this power, the Sierra Student Coalition will join with students across the country this fall to launch the Campuses for Clean Energy campaign, a transformative movement that will demand 100 percent clean energy for campuses.

New Jersey Home to First Energy Resilience Bank

New Jersey has created what they term the first of its kind in the U.S. “Energy Resilience Bank” (ERB) to focus on energy resilience. The bank was created in response to the impacts of SuperStorm Sandy where over 8 million people lost electric power in the region – many for several days. The ERB will provide $200 million for municipalities to finance clean resilient power solutions. Projects could include those that “would ensure a highly reliable power supply to critical public facilities such as water and wastewater treatment plants, hospitals, shelters, emergency response centers and transit networks in the event the larger electrical grid fails.”

New Jersey Disaster Recovery Action PlanOn July 23, 2014, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities approved a sub-recipient agreement with the New Jersey Economic Development Authority to work jointly in the establishment and operation of the ERB. The ERB would be financed through use of $200 million of New Jersey’s second Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) allocation. According to the Governor Christie’s announcement, “the ERB will support the development of distributed energy resources at critical facilities throughout the state …to minimize the potential for future major power outages and increase energy resiliency.”

Clean Energy Group’s President, Lewis Milford, applauded the creation of the ERB. “New Jersey has created a model for all states to finance resilient power projects, to protect against power outages during severe weather events. The ERB is an important way for states to finance projects like solar with energy storage in food banks, fire stations, wastewater treatment plants, and schools. It deserves to be a national infrastructure finance model for states around the country.”

The Clean Energy Group is working with states and communities to help deploy more resilient power projects, and the organization cites financing as a remaining a key stumbling block. The New Jersey approach through the new ERB is a model that all states should consider as they deal with increasing problems of severe weather and the power system, problems that are only growing worse, according to Clean Energy Group.

CGI America Launches Feed-Out Program

The world is about to see the first market-based, fixed-price funding program for solar and renewable technologies through a Feed-Out Program. The program, the brain-child of the Clinton Global Initiative America (CGI America) and Demeter Power Group, has a goal of helping modernize the nation’s power grid with distributed energy.

Clinton Global Initiative logo“The Feed-Out Program will bring together independent power producers and financiers to enable the lowest-cost, fixed-price offering for renewable energy,” said Michael Wallander, Demeter Power Group founder and president. “But unlike other similar ‘feed-in-tariff’ programs, the energy will be used on the customer-side of the meter.”

According to CGI, $1 trillion a year – a total of $36 trillion – is needed for investment in sustainable energy infrastructure to successfully reduce greenhouse gas emissions 50 percent by 2050. The Program will help tackle this challenge focusing primarily on funding for solar energy while also enabling cost-effective investment in energy storage, fuel cells and electrical vehicle car charging stations.

Yann Brandt, Demeter Co-Founder and EVP of Development noted, “What retail tenant or business owner would not want to save money on their energy bills while offering customers and employees the ability to shade their cars and power up with solar energy? We enable funding for solar-powered carports with electric vehicle charging stations at a net-negative cost to the customer.”

Demeter Power Group logoDemeter is contributing its finance mechanism – PACE3P – to help overcome credit-related challenges that have prevented scalable finance programs in the past. Demeter explained that PACE3P ties services fees to the buildings where the energy is used through a voluntary assessment on property tax bills.

Initially the Program will make financing available to commercial properties located in Northern California communities participating in the California FIRST property assessed clean energy (PACE) Program offered through the California Statewide Community Development Authority. Interested participants must register with Demeter to participate in the platform, which is expected to launch in the first quarter of 2015.

U.S. Mayors Expand Climate Protection Agreement

U.S. Mayors have signed a revised climate protection agreement that for the first time focuses on local actions to adapt cities to changing climate conditions. The agreement is also aims to build grassroots support for local conversation efforts. The action took place during the 82nd Annual U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) meeting where one area of focus was climate change and the role energy efficiency and renewable energy could play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions such as carbon.

14307537950_ca123598fd_zThe Agreement also urges federal and state governments to enact bipartisan legislation, policies and programs to assist mayors in their efforts to lead the nation toward energy independence. Following the signing ceremony, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Environmental Protection Administrator Gina McCarthy congratulated the Conference on their work and engaged in an interactive discussion with mayors from the audience.

USCM President Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said mayors have been leaders on climate protection, whether it’s cutting carbon emissions or preparing their communities for the effects of climate change. “In the 3.0 era, mayors are innovating, working with the best and the brightest, to lead on climate. Mayors are getting smart about sustainability. We’re moving from fossil fuels to alternative fuels, from waste to reuse. Mayors are using technology and innovation to do what we couldn’t do ten years ago. We’re boosting our economies and protecting our climate at the same time.”

The climate initiative was first launched 10 years ago in February of 2005 and at the time the U.S. Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement was a landmark pledge by mayors from all across the country to take local action to reduce carbon emissions from city operation and by the community at large, consistent with the goals of the Kyoto Protocol. More than 1060 mayors signed the Agreement, mostly representing larger cities. Since then, USCM has been recognizing mayors for their successful efforts through its annual Mayors’ Climate Protection Awards.

USCM Energy independence and Climate Protection Task Force Co-Chair and Bridgeport, CT Mayor Bill Finch noted, “This is not a cause for mayors. This is a pragmatic problem that requires pragmatic solutions. Mayors across the country are investing in the future by tackling climate change head on. And, those who have signed onto the U.S. Conference of Mayors agreement have made more progress on beating back climate change in their cities than those who have not. Continue reading

ACORE Study: Evolving Business Models for Renewable Energy

A new study has been released, “Evolving Business Models for Renewable Energy,” from the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE). With aid from several members, the report explores key issues and provides recommendations related to evolving utility and other business models for renewable energy. The report was produced in conjunction with ACORE’s Power Generation and Infrastructure Initiative.

“From potential storage benefits of electric vehicles, to recommendations on ideal scenarios for integration of distributed renewable assets, ACORE and its members are tackling the cutting edge issues facing our electricity sector today,” said co-author and CEO of American Clean Energy, Steve Morgan.

ACORE Evolving Biz Models for Renewable Energy.jogThe report details how distributed generation, smart grids, and microgrids are changing traditional utility business models, suggests outcomes for the successful integration of renewable energy at scale, and spotlights ways in which emerging energy sources such as concentrated solar power (CSP) and electric vehicles (EVs) are changing the way utilities look at generation, integration and storage.

“Our Power Generation and Infrastructure Initiative has always focused on solutions over politics,” said ACORE CEO Michael Brower, “and by convening our members who are developers, legal experts, sector analysts and financiers to review the business landscape, we guarantee a highly credible, critical and realistic view to help craft solutions for a cleaner, more reliable power sector future.”

Sections of the report include “Renewable Energy Drivers of Change,” “Overview of Actions from the Utility Perspective,” as well as “Distributed Energy: Understanding and Mitigating Commercial and Regulatory Risks”. These chapters are designed to build on the organization’s efforts to create bridges between the utility industry and renewable energy industry.

ACORE’s Power Generation & Infrastructure lead James Hewett called this focus “essential” noting, “The utility sector is well aware of the disruptive nature of distributed renewable energy. ACORE is focused on making this disruption an opportunity for utilities, not a threat. Frankly, it’s essential to the success of all.”

Las Vegas & Gresham OR Win Climate Protection Award

The 82nd annual United States Conference of Mayors is underway in Dallas, Texas and Las Vegas, Nevada (NV) Mayor Carolyn Goodman and Gresham, Oregon (OR) Mayor Shane Bemis were awarded the 2014 Mayors’ Climate Protection Awards. The climate protection award is an initiative sponsored by The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) and Walmart, and recognizes mayors for innovative programs that increase energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. An independent panel of judges selected the winners from a pool of applicants.

“Mayor Goodman and Mayor Bemis are changing the energy future of their cities and the nation, showing how local innovation can offer solutions to our growing climate challenges,” said Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, president of The U.S. Conference of Mayors. “Mayoral leadership and successful local initiatives are a crucial part of our nation’s arsenal in combating climate-harming emissions.”

U.S. CONFERENCE OF MAYORS LOGOCindi Marsiglio, Walmart’s vice president of U.S. Manufacturing and Sourcing, added, “We are proud to join with the Conference in honoring these cities and their mayors for their leadership in curbing greenhouse gas emissions and improving the quality of life for their citizens,” said “These local initiatives cut energy use, clean the air, reduce emissions, and save money, all of which helps build stronger communities and a stronger economy.

Las Vegas, Nevada won for its net zero initiative in the Large City Category. The City of Las Vegas is challenging itself to become the nation’s first net-zero energy, water, and waste municipality. This net zero initiative has seen the construction of more than 1 million square feet of municipal green buildings. Additionally, more than 80 percent of the city’s 50,000 streetlights have been upgraded to LEDs. The city now has more than 5.25 Megawatts of solar photovoltaic at 30 facilities. These systems have reduced city energy consumption by approximately 15 percent, saving the city more than $1 million dollars annually. Comingled recycling at all city facilities has raised recycling rates to 55 percent, up from 20 percent five years ago. The city has reduced its municipal water consumption by 27 percent since 2008, through turf conversions, xeriscaping, and equipment installations throughout city facilities.

“We are proud of our net zero initiative and the progress we are making,” said Las Vegas Carolyn Goodman. “What is happening here in Las Vegas on energy innovation shouldn’t just stay here. All cities, as well as the nation, can benefit from net zero initiatives.” Continue reading

SEIA Releases Cutting Carbon Report

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) recently released a report, “Cutting Carbon Emissions Under §111(d): The case for expanding solar energy in America”. The report, which was released to coincide with the Clean Power Plan, offers a detailed case as to why states should take advantage of clean solar energy as part of their efforts to comply with §111(d) of the Clean Air Act. This year alone, solar is expected to generate enough electricity to effectively offset 13.8 metric tons of CO2 emissions.

Once the new EPA emission standards are in place, each state will be required to create a compliance plan that must be approved by federal regulators. Failure to do so could result in a more restrictive EPA-mandated plan.

“For many states struggling to reduce their carbon emissions, solar can be a real game changer,” said SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch. “We have a very simple message to SEIA Cutting Carbon Emissionsstate regulators: Do the math. When it comes to greenhouse gas emissions, the 13 GW of solar currently installed in the United States generates enough pollution-free electricity to displace 14.2 billion pounds of coal or 1.5 billion gallons of gasoline. Put another way, it’s the equivalent of taking 2.7 million passenger cars off U.S. highways each year.”

According to the report, which was prepared by SEIA staff in consultation with member companies, solar has already proven to be a key part of many states’ energy mix – as demonstrated on March 8 when solar provided a record 18 percent of California’s 22,700 megawatt (MW) demand.

“Today, solar is the fastest-growing source of renewable energy in the United States, employing 143,00 Americans and accounting for nearly 30 percent of all new electric generation capacity installed in 2013 – second only to natural gas,” Resch continued. “All totaled, solar is now generating enough clean, reliable and affordable electricity to effectively power nearly 2.5 million homes. We’re doing our part to help fight climate change, but we can do a lot more in the future – and that’s something we will be stressing to state regulators once the new carbon rules for power plants are announced.”

Resch also noted that solar energy’s rapidly falling prices and rapidly growing generating capacity, as well as the volatility of fossil fuel prices, give solar energy the potential to transform compliance with both new carbon emission requirements and other existing requirements under the Clean Air Act.

The report notes, “Historically, air pollution emission reduction from the electric sector has been achieved primarily through pollution control equipment at power plants. Today, the EPA and states recognize that the reduction of carbon emissions from the electric sector requires a new approach that treats the production and delivery of electric power as a broad system, in which power plant modifications, demand side reductions and renewable energy all contribute to emission reductions.

“Solar contributes to a balanced portfolio of energy resources, and can help achieve an optimal long-term strategy for each state’s economy and environment,” the report continues. “By including solar energy as part of their §111(d) compliance plan, states can cost-effectively meet their Clean Air Act requirements while reaping a wide range of additional benefits.”

Fight Over Clean Power Plan Gets Dirty

I’ve written a bit about the Clean Power Plan – the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed plan to reduce carbon emissions from utility plants by 30 percent by 2030. The plan has caused hope and consternation and both environmental groups and the utility industry is weighing in.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has cited a new disinformation campaign has been waged by “Big Polluters” who they say are intent on subverting the country’s first ever carbon pollution standards (aka, Clean Power Plan. In response, NRDC has launched a campaign of it’s own in response to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Study and National Mining Association (NMA) who say that putting limits on carbon will increase electricity prices. However, both the Washington Post and Denver Post have fact checked the study and claims and found some of them to be false.

“The real truth is: We need to cut the carbon pollution spewing out of power plants to protect our health and future generations. We can do this, and save people money on their electric bills even as we invest in energy efficiency that creates hundreds of thousands of new jobs,” said Peter Altman, director of NRDC’s Climate and Clean Air Campaign.

NRDC launched the ad on national television outlets and digital platforms to challenge critics of carbon pollution standards proposed on June 2 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The standards, when finalized says NRDC, can reduce carbon pollution at least 30 percent by 2030 by empowering states and utility companies to work together to make reductions in the most cost-effective way for each state.

In addition to debunking opponents’ claims, the NRDC ad goes after Big Polluters’ efforts to undermine energy efficiency initiatives in a number of states. For example, utility and fossil fuel-funded front groups peddled disinformation to attempt a freeze on Ohio’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS) and Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS) in 2014.

But ramping up energy efficiency, NRDC has shown, can help accomplish the goals of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, and help consumers. NRDC recently released an analysis showing that strong limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants could save Americans $37 billion on their electric bills and create a net 274,000 jobs. These jobs, growing mostly through investments in energy efficiency and renewables, can put to work electricians, roofers, carpenters, insulation workers, heating/air conditioning installers and heavy equipment operators, among others.

UC Riverside Named an Energy Frontier Research Center

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Ernest Moniz has announced $100 million in new funding for 32 new Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs). The EFRCs are designed to accerlerate the scientific breakthroughs needed to build a new 21st century energy economy in the U.S. One of the new research centers will live at University of California- Riverside (UC Riverside). “Spins and Heat in Nanoscale Electronic Systems” (SHINES) will receive $12 million over four years from DOE. The lead researcher is UC Riverside Professor of Physics Jing Shi, who will work with researchers from seven universities. SHINES is one of 10 new projects announced, along with 22 other projects receiving new funding based on achievements to date.

“Today we are mobilizing some of our most talented scientists to join forces and pursue the discoveries and breakthroughs that will lay the foundation for our nation’s energy future,” Secretary Moniz said. “The funding we’re announcing today will help fuel innovation.” He said the intent of the Energy Frontier Research Centers is to make fundamental advances in solar energy, electrical energy storage, carbon capture and sequestration, materials and chemistry by design, biosciences, and extreme environments.

UC Riverside Professor Jing Shi“I am happy to hear the news,” said Shi, the UCR physics professor who has put together an interdisciplinary team of researchers from UC Riverside, UCLA, Johns Hopkins, Arizona State University, University of Texas, Austin and Colorado State University, Fort Collins. “I’m looking forward to seeing the scientific advances that they come up with,” said Michael Pazzani, UC Riverside’s Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development. “This is exactly the kind of scientific leadership that UC Riverside has been encouraging and supporting This project will lay the groundwork for energy technology for the nation.”

SHINES will investigate several aspects of basic research: new ultrathin films, nanostructured composites, high resolution imaging, the transport of electrical signals, heat and light. “All of it will be studied, modeled and simulated in order to help the nation’s ability to advance in the way we use energy,” said Shi, the lead researcher.

CSP: ELEMENTS Awarded to Southern Research Institute

Southern Research Institute has signed a jointly funded cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) as part of the DOE’s new Concentrating Solar Power: Efficiently Leveraging Equilibrium Mechanisms for Engineering New Thermochemical Storage (CSP: ELEMENTS) funding program. The program is part of the SunShot Initiative. CSP: ELEMENTS supports the development of high-temperature thermochemical energy storage (TCES) systems that enable concentrating solar power plants to produce electricity in the evenings and even overnight when the sun is no longer shining.

“Southern Research Institute is excited and honored to be selected by DOE for this project,” said Michael D. Johns, vice president engineering at Southern Research Institute. “We are proud to be recognized for our leadership in alternative energy, and the development of this innovative thermochemical storage system is in great alignment with the work at our recently established Southeast Solar Research Center, where we design, test, and validate technologies throughout the solar energy spectrum.”

CSP technology employs mirrors that concentrate reflected sunlight onto receivers containing heat transfer fluids. From there, the fluids are used to heat water, which in turn generates steam that is used to power turbines and produce electricity. By adding thermal storage to these facilities they are able to operate at significantly higher capacity factors and produce approximately double the energy for the same size power facility. In addition, the production of electricity can be shifted to occur at the same time as peak power demand, making the electricity much more valuable.

More specifically, the Southern Research Institute project will develop a TCES system that uses a low-cost calcium-based sorbent in a reversible closed-loop endothermic-exothermic chemical reaction cycle. The system stores energy during mid-day when sunlight is plentiful in the endothermic step, and then releases energy when the sun is no longer shining during the exothermic step, allowing for electricity to be produced in a more stable and consistent fashion. This TCES system is projected to cost less than a current state-of-the-art molten salt storage systems, and will be able to store the same amount of energy in a system about one-sixth the size. Continue reading

GENERcoin to Back Renewable Alternative to Coal

Now this is an interesting concept that I’ve run across – a mix of digital currency with renewable energy. The crypto currency is backed by real Green ENERgy and their product is coined ‘GENERcoin’. The product is being offered through Arterran Renewables and according to the company combines stable value together with economic utility that neither debt-backed or gold-backed currencies offer.

Ok, let’s take a step back. Arterran Renewables is a nextgen biofuel company whose technology converts any waste with a suitable cellulose content into a solid biofuel that can replace coal.  According to the company, the result is a renewable and abundant source of energy that produces significantly more energy than industrial wood pellets, with no off gassing, superior combustion characteristics, and lower handling costs.

“Arterran Renewables is very enthusiastic about the potential from this partnership with members of the crypto currency community. The mutual discovery of the benefits that each of us can offer the world is enormous,” said Arterran’s CEO Lloyd Davis. “Arterran believes both parties have disruptive innovation at the core of our technologies and our innovations will change the World.”

GENERcoinNow back to GENERcoin. The solid biofuel, which is a replacement for coal, is reality thanks in part to GENERcoin, whose currency is in essence backing the technology.

“GENERcoin is simply about one thing: a World with sustainable renewable energy. The world cannot afford to ignore the effects of 150 years of fossil fuel use, nor can it continue down the big energy business as usual path,” said GENERcoin’s lead visionary David Tiessen. “The effects of fossil fuel use will continue to increase the CO2 levels of the planet and negatively affect our climate and the future of thousands of species, including ours.”

“We now have the choice of business as usual and the continued burning of dirty fossil fuels and the polluting of the planet, or renewable and sustainable alternatives like Arterran Renewables,” continued Tiessen. “Mankind now has at our disposal clean, sustainable energy alternatives and Arterran Renewables with their ability to directly replace coal is the latest exciting addition. GENERcoin is the medium to deploy Arterran’s NextGen Renewable Solid Biofuel and we’re excited to get down to the business of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

GENERcoins will be released through a crowdsale taking place on the Master Protocol on June 11, 2014. Each participant will actually be pre-purchasing Arterran’s NextGEN Solid Biofuel at the rate of $0.062 USD per coin, equivalent to 10,000 btu calculated at a significant discount (according to current market prices as reported by Argus Media). Each coin holder then has the option of redeeming their coins for the fuel or exchanging or trading them as they see fit.

Prez Michelle Bachelet of Chile Inaugurates Solar Plant

President Michelle Bachelet of Chile inaugurated the Amanecer Solar CAP plant in Copiapo, Chile. The solar project is the largest photovoltaic solar power plant in Latin America and one of the largest in the world. The project was developed, built and interconnected by SunEdison under an offtake agreement with CAP Group.

The Amanecer Solar CAP plant has 100 MW of total installed capacity; the amount of energy consumed each year by approximately 125,000 Chilean homes, or equivalent to 10 percent of the renewable energy generation capacity goal established by the Chilean Government for 2014. The project involves an investment of US $250 million and is critical for the future development of renewable energy in Chile and Latin America.

SunEdison 100 MW Amanecer Solar CAP Power PlantAhmad Chatila, President and CEO of SunEdison, noted: “This project has changed the course of renewable energy development not only in Chile and Latin America, but throughout the world. Amanecer Solar CAP has become a benchmark for SunEdison in how to develop photovoltaic solar energy on an international level.”

Located 37 kilometers from Copiapo in the Atacama Desert, the plant has more than 310,000 photovoltaic modules spread over 250 acres. The Amanecer Solar CAP plant was built in six months and all of its energy is injected into the Central Interconnected System, which lowers the net cost of grid electricity.

In its first year of operation it is estimated that the plant will inject 270 GWh (gigawatt hours) of clean energy into the system. To generate the same amount of energy using diesel would require more than 71 million liters of fuel.

Jose Perez, President of SunEdison for Europe, Africa and Latin America, added: “This plant demonstrates that photovoltaic solar energy is an ideal way of diversifying the energy matrix in Chile, reducing costs and contributing towards meeting the demand for clean and sustainable energy. SunEdison has now interconnected 150 MW in the Atacama Desert – the 100 MW Amanecer Solar CAP plant plus a 50 MW power plant in San Andres – and this is just the starting point. We are firmly committed to the future of clean energy production and the development of the energy industry in Chile.”