Monday, August 26, 2013

Alternative Clean Energy Roundup: 26 August 2013

3-D Graphene: Solar Cells' New Platinum?
Aug. 20, 2013 — One of the most promising types of solar cells has a few drawbacks. A scientist at Michigan Technological University may have overcome one of them.

Dye-sensitized solar cells are thin, flexible, easy to make and very good at turning sunshine into electricity. However, a key ingredient is one of the most expensive metals on the planet: platinum. While only small amounts are needed, at $1,500 an ounce, the cost of the silvery metal is still significant. read more>>>

EV ARC: World's First Self-Contained Mobile Solar Charging Station for Electric Vehicles
08/20/13 - Envision Solar isn’t new to innovative solar design. They created the Solar Tree, an umbrella-like solar array that can be used in a parking lot to charge multiple vehicles. Now they have broken new ground with the EV ARC, a completely portable solar charging station that fits in the average parking space.

Most solar charging stations are great, but they can also be an ordeal since they require new trenches, foundations, electricity and sometimes even building permits. But the EV ARC requires none of that and it can be moved as needed and deployed in five minutes. read more>>>

Portable Power & Off-Grid solar - RV/Camping Products

USDA funding hundreds of rural renewable projects
August 21, 2013 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) is making investments of more than $21 million into energy projects nationwide to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce their energy consumption and costs, use renewable energy technologies in their operations and/or conduct feasibility studies for renewable energy projects.

The funding, available through USDA's Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill is earmarked for 631 projects across the country. REAP helps producers purchase and install renewable energy systems, reduce energy costs and increase production efficiency. read more>>>

Smart home in a box could capture community behavior
August 21, 2013 - Washington State University (WSU) researchers have received a National Science Foundation grant to share their "smart home in a box" technology with 60 institutions and scientists around the world in what will be the largest-ever installation of such home monitoring systems.

The collaborators will develop their own monitoring projects in a home or a lab and use the data to develop a system for using and sharing cutting-edge, smart environments on a large scale.

Originally intended for researchers to study human health and behavior in the elderly, the research will also be a step toward scaling pervasive computing to larger population groups and settings, including energy consumers. read more>>>

Builders of Vogtle Nuclear Plant Face Growing Costs, Concerns
08/21/2013 - Favorable economics for natural gas-fired energy production is putting pressure on builders of Georgia's $14-billion Plant Vogtle nuclear expansion project, with Southern Co. and contractor CB&I facing heightened scrutiny as they deal with continuing cost and schedule overruns.

Philip Hayet, a Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) analyst, summed up the changed fiscal environment when he testified in early August that, "if a decision had to be made today to build a new nuclear project, it would not be justified."

Even though Southern is using "overstated" natural-gas price forecasts to produce "overly optimistic estimates of the benefits of the project," Hayet claims, it would be less expensive to finish Vogtle than to shut down the project and replace it with a natural-gas-powered plant. read more>>>

Report: China’s Wind Power Expands to Its Frontiers
Looking for available transmission, Chinese developers went off-shore and to higher elevations.

February 19, 2013 - Wind development in China is reaching out to its frontiers -- where curtailment and transmission limitations are not an issue.

Here are some observations from the new GTM Research/Azure International China Wind Market Quarterly: 4th Quarter 2012:

From snow-covered Tibet to the tidewaters of Jiangsu, China wind farm developers are looking to expand in areas that don’t suffer from the curtailment issues impacting China’s major wind bases in the north and northeast. read more>>>

Wind and Weather

Wind market making way for more cost-effective forecasting solutions
August 22, 2013 - As the wind power industry matures, wind forecasting technologies are becoming critical to integrating greater amounts of variable wind energy into the grid. Currently meteorological towers, or met towers, are the predominant forecasting solution, but these towers will increasingly give way to remote sensing devices, such as sound detection and ranging (sodar) and light detection and ranging (lidar) systems, according to Navigant Research. read more>>>

Microbial team turns corn stalks and leaves into better biofuel
20 August 2013 - A University of Michigan research team in the US believes it has found a better way to make a biofuel that matches gasoline's properties better than ethanol. The process employs a fungus and E. coli bacteria to turn tough, waste plant material into isobutanol.

"We're hoping that biofuels made in such an efficient way can eventually replace current petroleum-based fuels," said Xiaoxia "Nina" Lin, assistant professor of chemical engineering and leader of the research. read more>>>

wind turbines

NextFuels to produce biofuels from palm plantation residue
20 August 2013 - NextFuels has unveiled its strategy for economically producing transportation and industrial fuels from wet, unprocessed agricultural waste.

The underlying technology -- which was developed by Shell Oil over several years -- will allow the Los Altos, Calif.-based firm and its partners to produce bio-based petroleum at commercial scale for $75 to $85 a barrel out of wet biomass that has not been mechanically or thermally dried. read more>>>

HyperSolar Moves Closer to Low Cost Solar Hydrogen Water-Splitting by Reaching the 1.0 Volt Milestone
August 20, 2013 - HyperSolar, Inc. (OTC:HYSR), the developer of a breakthrough technology to produce renewable hydrogen using sunlight and any source of water, today announced that its artificial photosynthesis technology is now capable of producing 1.0 volt open circuit voltage for use in direct solar hydrogen production. This achievement represents a dramatic voltage increase over the previous 0.2 volt just 8 months ago, and 0.75 volt just 3 months ago.

It is well known that the theoretical voltage for splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen is 1.23 volts, and approximately 1.5 volts in real-world systems. read more>>>

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