Solar Photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing continues along a trajectory of decreasing costs that will very soon cause it to reach grid parity. This post looks at an innovative Massachusetts based startup, 1366 Technologies that is poised to begin commercializing an important new cost cutting (and energy saving) manufacturing technology that will significantly reduce the cost of Silicon solar cell fabrication.
This post reports on the newly announced loan guarantees for the concentrated solar power (CSP) Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project that is to be built in Nevada. This kind of solar power, because it is paired with a molten salt thermal energy storage capacity has the ability to be a load following generation source that is somewhat insulated from intermittency issues as well. For large concentrated solar thermal energy this decoupling of the energy collection from electricity generation makes a lot of sense, because the molten salt is already being used as the working fluid that captures the sun’s heat.
This post looks at fifteen kinds of utility or grid scale energy storage solutions that are either in wide use or have significant potential to supply the energy storage capacity that will help make the grid both more efficient and more robust. These range from pumped hydro, which is by far the most prevalent form of energy storage at this scale to compressed air, thermal storage, advanced batteries, fuel cells and purely electric storage systems.
Concentrated solar photovoltaic energy or CPV is a relative newcomer to the solar power arena and is showing signs of entering into a phase of very rapid growth. It works by concentrating the sun onto a small area of active PV, which operates at around twice the efficiency of normal PV, and promises savings because it requires only a fraction of the photovoltaic material that normal systems require. The DOE has announced a $90 million loan guarantee to support a planned 30-megawatt facility near Alamosa, Colorado.
Wind farms up here in the Pacific Northwest may soon be shut down temporarily because there is no transmission capacity to move this green renewable power to where it is needed. A record snowfall in the mountains at the headwaters of the Columbia river system is about to begin melting and will send a surge of water down the river. Because this water cannot be sent over the spill ways without endangering already endangered Salmon and Steelhead fish it needs to be run through the turbines. There is just too much power for the regional markets and the existing transmission infrastructure to handle and thus wind farms are likely to be idled. What this exposes is the need for an improved Ultra high voltage long distance electric transmission network that is capable of moving surplus power from one region to another.
This post reports on a recent survey that indicates that the green roof sector in the US and Canada is enjoying excellent growth in spite of the very difficult economic environment that is prevailing in the building sector in general. The survey reports a growth of 28.5% and provides some background on what types of buildings and what cities are leading the adoption of green roofs.
Energy systems need to also be measured according to the potential risks associated with them in the advent of failure. And the actuarial costs of these risks need to be better understood and included into the market price for the energy that these systems produce. This post examines this catastrophic downside risk of nuclear and fossil energy focusing on the recent events in Japan and on the BP oil spill as two recent examples of hugely expensive catastrophes. It poses the question why should the taxpayers and the public bear the burden of these costs in this manner artificially lowering the price these energy sectors are thus able to charge for their products.
Overtopping wave energy systems are one of the pathways being investigated to capture this potential renewable energy source. An interesting an innovative approach has been adopted by the Norwegian company Wave Energy, which is now doing a technical feasibility study for building such a system in Oregon’s famous and famously stormy Tillamook Bay. Waves form a potentially large world-wide energy resource, estimated at more than 2 Terawatts, but formidable technical challenges have long stood in the way of realizing this potential.
DOE Announces New Biofuel Grant Programs for $30 Million for Research to Advance the Next Generation of Biofuels
GRANT ALERT: The DOE is accepting applications for small-scale process integration projects supporting the development of advanced biofuels that will be able to replace gasoline or diesel without requiring special upgrades or changes to the vehicle or fueling infrastructure.