Monday, September 30, 2013

Alternative Clean Energy Roundup: 30 September 2013

Utilities & Small Solar: Learn to Love It
09/24/2013 - As we've been noting through a variety of articles, the advent of significant sources of solar, wind and distributed energy in general is threatening utilities' traditional business model. The trend is also toward using less energy through smart meters and energy retrofits.

After a decade or so of being forced to support renewable energy through state-mandated Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) and energy efficiency through state Energy Efficiency Resource Standards, these programs are working and utilities are feeling it in their bottom line. read more>>>

Can Ultrasolar’s Patented Pyrotechnics Boost Solar Cell Efficiency?
September 24th, 2013 - Ultrasolar Technology is a Silicon Valley startup that has developed a pyroelectric device to boost solar cell efficiency.

We all know what “pyro” means, but what is “pyroelectric” all about? According to this Greentech Media piece, which provides a helfpul overview of Ultrasolar’s methodology, “[p]yroelectricity converts heat to [an] electric field.”

One of Ultrasolar’s patents says this:

Super Thin Solar Panels Crown the Spectacular 'Green Zero' Modular Getaway in Italy
09/24/13 - Green Zero by Studio di Architettura Daniele Menichini is a new interpretation of modular housing that strives to be more like a private getaway than a place to live. The minimalist design ensures the structure is at home in almost any environment, from the backyard to the beach. Constructed using a wooden prefab exterior built on top of a natural stone foundation, the thin film solar-powered home in Italy also features an integrative rainwater management and drainage system.

The interior relies on a simplistic design, coming to life thanks to accents of color throughout the single bedroom dwelling. Even though the room is made for two, there is ample space to fit many more people should the occasion call for it. read more>>>

Snøhetta's Solar-Powered Maggie's Cancer Center Makes its Official Debut in Aberdeen, Scotland
09/24/13 - Snohetta’s Maggie’s Cancer Center made its official debut in Scotland yesterday. The cancer care facility is a single-story curved building with a concrete shell-like exterior and a soft timber interior. The 350 square meter center in Aberdeen will draw from its environment to provide the best climate for its patients and a varying number of visitors who circulate throughout the day.

Maggie’s Cancer Center resembles a pavilion more than a traditional healthcare facility. Built as part of the Elizabeth Montgomerie Foundation fundraising campaign, it is a place where people affected by the illness can meet, as well as receive care and guidance. Located at the southern boundary of the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary’s Foresterhill site, at the edge of Westbum field, the center will be connected to the hospital while still retaining its independence. read more>>>

Wind and Weather

Standard Solar and Solar Grid Storage Collaborate to Complete Pioneering Commercial Solar Microgrid
ROCKVILLE, Md., Sep 24, 2013 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Standard Solar, a leader in the full-service development, construction, integration, financing and installation of solar electric systems, in collaboration with Solar Grid Storage, today announced that construction is complete on the solar microgrid project at Maryland-developer Konterra's headquarters. The project, announced earlier this year, is a grid-interactive energy storage system co-located with a new 1,368 panel photovoltaic (PV) array, creating one of the nation's first commercial scale microgrids.

This 402.3 kW groundbreaking system, located at Konterra's corporate headquarters in Laurel, MD, is estimated to generate 20 percent of the building's annual power. The canopied solar array, which includes two electric vehicle charging stations with infrastructure for four additional stations, will be dedicated by Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley on October 15. read more>>>

A new climate economy
JOHANNESBURG, 24 September 2013 (IRIN) - For some years the idea of a "green economy" that would be less dependent on fossil fuels and low on harmful greenhouse gas emissions has been doing the rounds at the UN climate change talks, but reception to the idea has ranged from lukewarm to hostile.

On 24 September another idea for a cleaner economy, the "New Climate Economy Project", was announced in New York. This time, some of the world's leading economists have signed up, including Lord Nicholas Stern, the Vice-Chair of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate. He is the author of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, produced for the British government in 2006, the first study to put a price tag on the cost of inaction on climate change. read more>>>

Get Started With Green Energy at

Two Icons Go Green
Long overdue upgrades make the Empire State Building and the U.N. Secretariat building relevant in the 21st Century.

September 2013 - Two iconic Manhattan skyscrapers have emerged from major renovations with sharply reduced carbon footprints, making them beacons of New York's evolving "green skyline." But the two projects could hardly be more different. The United Nations Secretariat building, designed by a team of architects including Oscar Niemeyer and Le Corbusier, was completed in 1952. After a gut renovation, the 39-story building reopened this year. "We tracked the LEED criteria, as well as guidelines from Japan and Great Britain and Australia, which in some cases are more stringent," says Michael Adlerstein, Assistant Secretary-General and Executive Director of the U.N. Capital Master Plan. "We wanted to restore the building in a way that, if we were to be evaluated, would meet the standards of what the world expects." read more>>>

Wormlike Hematite Photoanode Breaks the World-Record for Solar Hydrogen Production Efficiency
Sep. 25, 2013 — A research team of Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), South Korea, developed a "wormlike" hematite photoanode that can convert sunlight and water to clean hydrogen energy with a record-breaking high efficiency of 5.3%.

This research was published in Scientific Reports, a science journal published by the Nature Publishing Group.

The previous record of solar hydrogen efficiency among stable oxide semiconductor photoanodes was 4.2% owned by the research group of Prof. Michael Graetzel at the Ecole Polytechnique de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland. read more>>>

German-French Team Unveils World's Most Efficient Solar Cell!
09/25/13 - A team comprised of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems, Soitec, CEA-Leti and the Helmholtz Center, Berlin has just unveiled the world’s most efficient solar cell! Boasting an efficiency of 44.7%, the cell breaks the record set by Sharp just three months ago by 0.3%. The four-junction photovoltaic cell is not only dramatically more efficient than the theoretical 33.7% efficiency limit of conventional silicon-based solar PV, but it puts the team well on the road to reaching their goal of 50% efficiency by 2015.

Simply put, solar cell efficiency refers to how much energy from light—across the entire spectrum from ultraviolet to infrared—is converted into electricity. Greater efficiency in turn yields more cost-effective solar installations; using a smaller surface area, more electricity can be derived over the course of a given system’s lifespan. This efficiency is key to NREL’s goal of making large-scale solar energy systems cost-competitive with other energy sources by 2020, and key to making solar in general more affordable around the globe. read more>>>

New Global Commission aims to identify pathways to economic prosperity and a safe climate
Sep. 24, 2013 - New Climate Economy project led by former President of Mexico Felipe Calderón, with government, business and finance leaders from 14 countries

As evidence of human-induced climate change mounts, a new global commission launched today will analyze the economic costs and benefits of acting on climate change. The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate comprises leaders from government, finance and business from 14 countries, chaired by former President of Mexico Felipe Calderón.

The Commission is launching the New Climate Economy project, bringing together some of the world’s foremost economic experts to examine how stronger economic performance can be supported by good climate policy. The project aims to contribute to the global debate about economic policy, and to inform government, business and investment decisions. read more>>>

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