Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Alternative Clean Energy Roundup: 19 March 2014

Putting the green economy into practice
March 2014 - An important announcement was made at this year’s World Economic Forum Davos global gathering, namely that 14 WTO members [Ref 1] committed to negotiating a trade liberalising agreement on environmental goods. A gradual liberalisation and market opening in the area of environmental goods would be positive step towards incentivising the transition to low-carbon economic development. Furthermore, the move is particularly important given the ongoing negotiations to achieve an international climate agreement next year in Paris, France.

Indeed, the Davos initiative could be considered as part of a growing international pressure to achieve a meaningful climate agreement. read more>>>

Solar policy pathways for U.S. states examined
March 11, 2014 - The Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has published a report that aligns solar policy and market success with state demographics. By organizing the 48 contiguous states into four peer groups based on shared non-policy characteristics, the NREL research team was able to contextualize the impact of various solar policies on photovoltaic (PV) installations.

"Although it is widely accepted that solar policies drive market development, there has not been a clear understanding of which policies work in which context," lead author Darlene Steward said. "This study provides much-needed insight into the policy scope and quality that is needed to spur solar PV markets across the United States." read more>>>

Hotbed for microgrids grows in 'energy cul-de-sac'
March 10, 2014 - San Diego is at the opposite end of the country from the megacities that were walloped by Superstorm Sandy. But this surf town is becoming known as the leading laboratory for grid technologies that harden communities against blackouts and big weather.

At its largest research university, in a lonely desert town and among three Navy bases, an unparalleled set of ventures is blazing new trails on microgrids. read more>>>

Microgrids To Have Major Utility Industry Impact Within 10 Years
February 26, 2014 - Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), HOMER Energy and CohnReznick Think Energy (CRTE) recently released a new report detailing the potential for appreciable customer defection from the electric grid in major markets by 2025, without incurring higher costs or lower reliability. The report shows that, as the hybrid combination of solar photovoltaic and battery storage become cost competitive with retail grid electricity rates, migration of customers away from the grid could happen well within the 30-year planned economic life of typical utility investments such as central thermal generation plants and transmission infrastructure.

In the first installment of two reports, RMI, HOMER Energy and CRTE outline the possible scenarios in five different U.S. regions -- Hawaii, California, Kentucky, Texas and New York -- and identify when solar PV and storage combinations could disrupt existing utility business models. read more>>>

Energy research database a "goldmine"
March 10, 2014 - WikiEnergy, a suite of online research tools that includes the world's largest research database of customer energy and water use has been launched by a consortium of university and non-governmental organization (NGO) researchers with the aim of advancing global university-based research and training on data science, energy, engineering, the environment and human behavior.

Currently, a lack of accessible data -- on customer-level load profiles, including energy and water use, down to the appliance and circuit level -- hinders research on some levels for climate change and energy solutions. However, WikiEnergy could be the largest, most detailed database of consumer energy and water use bringing together the brightest minds from universities and NGOs around the world, according to Brewster McCracken, CEO of Pecan Street Inc. Pecan Street Research Institute is a University of Texas-based nonprofit research firm that is supporting and operating the database. read more>>>

UNEP recognizes China's Chongming Island as green economy model
2014-03-11 - China's experiment in developing a green economy on Chongming Island in east China's Shanghai has been recognized by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) as a recommended model of green economic development.

UNEP on Monday published its evaluation report on the ecological status of Chongming Island. The island is the world's largest alluvial island and the least developed district of China's commercial hub of Shanghai.

Covering an area of 1,267 square km, Chongming was approved as a national development zone for sustainable development in 2010, and UNEP was invited by the Chinese government to evaluate the eco-island construction project. read more>>>

All-Terrain Extreme Weather Rescue Vehicles Could Save Lives During Natural Disasters
03/10/14 - Designer Phil Pauley has come up with a series of Extreme Weather Rescue Vehicles that could navigate through deep floodwaters and around physical obstacles, unlike conventional trucks and emergency vehicles. The ATVs would be powered by on-board solar arrays and equipped with auxiliary generators to provide power to other vehicles and devices. Wi-Fi hotspots and satellite facilities would provide constant connectivity along with screens for accessing the internet, news and weather broadcasts. Intelligent design features include cameras, integrated alarm systems and an array of sensors would help drivers avoid collisions with debris.

Two-dimensional material shows promise for optoelectronics: LEDs, photovoltaic cells, and light detectors
March 10, 2014 - A team of MIT researchers has used a novel material that's just a few atoms thick to create devices that can harness or emit light. This proof-of-concept could lead to ultrathin, lightweight, and flexible photovoltaic cells, light emitting diodes (LEDs), and other optoelectronic devices, they say.

Their report is one of three papers by different groups describing similar results with this material, published in the March 9 issue of Nature Nanotechnology. The MIT research was carried out by Pablo Jarillo-Herrero, the Mitsui Career Development Associate Professor of Physics, graduate students Britton Baugher and Yafang Yang, and postdoc Hugh Churchill.

The material they used, called tungsten diselenide (WSe2), is part of a class of single-molecule-thick materials under investigation for possible use in new optoelectronic devices -- ones that can manipulate the interactions of light and electricity. read more>>>

Hawaii schools to install 100 MW of solar PV on microgrids
10.03.2014 - The Department of Education in the U.S. state of Hawaii has partnered with Chevron Energy Solutions (San Francisco, California, U.S.) to launch a five-year sustainability program. This will include the installation of roughly 100 MW of solar photovoltaics (PV) and 25 MW of wind to power microgrids at schools.

The multifaceted program will also feature “aggressive” energy efficiency measures and demand response. DOE does not expect the program to be run into utility Hawaiian Electric Companies' (HECO, Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.) limits on PV generation due to the use of microgrids. read more>>>

Atomically thin, flexible, semi-transparent solar cells created
March 9, 2014 - Ultrathin layers made of Tungsten and Selenium have been created at the Vienna University of Technology; experiments show that they may be used as flexible, semi-transparent solar cells.

It does not get any thinner than this: The novel material graphene consists of only one atomic layer of carbon atoms and exhibits very special electronic properties. As it turns out, there are other materials too, which can open up intriguing new technological possibilities if they are arranged in just one or very few atomic layers. Researchers at the Vienna University of Technology have now succeeded for the first time in creating a diode made of tungsten diselenide. Experiments show that this material may be used to create ultrathin flexible solar cells. Even flexible displays could become possible. read more>>>

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