Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Alternative Clean Energy Roundup: 9 July 2014

Supercomputer tackles grid challenges
July 1, 2014 - "Big data" is playing an increasingly big role in the renewable energy industry and the transformation of the nation's electrical grid, and no single entity provides a better tool for such data than the Energy Department's Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) located on the campus of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Imagined by NREL leaders who foresaw the possibilities for high performance computing (HPC), the ESIF's HPC data center is fulfilling the goal of handling large and complex datasets that exceed traditional database processes.

"As industry moves forward to integrate all these renewables, big data is a key piece of the puzzle," ESIF Business Development Manager Martha Symko-Davies said. read more>>>

Solar panels light the way from carbon dioxide to fuel
July 1, 2014 - Research to curb global warming caused by rising levels of atmospheric greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, usually involves three areas: Developing alternative energy sources, capturing and storing greenhouse gases, and repurposing excess greenhouse gases. Drawing on two of these approaches, researchers in the laboratory of Andrew Bocarsly, a Princeton professor of chemistry, collaborated with start-up company Liquid Light Inc. of Monmouth Junction, N.J. to devise an efficient method for harnessing sunlight to convert carbon dioxide into a potential alternative fuel known as formic acid. The study was published June 13 in the Journal of CO2 Utilization.

The transformation from carbon dioxide and water to formic acid was powered by a commercial solar panel generously provided by the energy company PSE&G that can be found atop electric poles across the state. read more>>>

A4C Superstore

Net-zero energy test house exceeds goal; ends year with energy to spare
July 1, 2014 - The net-zero energy test house at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in suburban Washington, D.C., not only absorbed winter's best shot, it came out on top, reaching its one-year anniversary on July 1 with enough surplus energy to power an electric car for about 1,440 miles.*

Despite five months of below-average temperatures and twice the normal amount of snowfall, NIST's Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility (NZERTF) ended its one-year test run with 491 kilowatt hours of extra energy. Instead of paying almost $4,400 for electricity -- the estimated average annual bill for a comparable modern home in Maryland -- the virtual family of four residing in the all-electric test house actually earned a credit by exporting the surplus energy to the local utility. read more>>>

Scientists discover how 'plastic' solar panels work
July 1, 2014 - Scientists don't fully understand how 'plastic' solar panels work, which complicates the improvement of their cost efficiency, thereby blocking the wider use of the technology. However, researchers at the University of Montreal, the Science and Technology Facilities Council, Imperial College London and the University of Cyprus have determined how light beams excite the chemicals in solar panels, enabling them to produce charge. "Our findings are of key importance for a fundamental mechanistic understanding, with molecular detail, of all solar conversion systems -- we have made great progress towards reaching a 'holy grail' that has been actively sought for several decades," said the study's first author, Françoise Provencher of the University of Montreal. read more>>>

DIY Solar Projects: How to Put the Sun to Work in Your Home

US seeks ways to increase microgrid resilience
Jul 01, 2014 - The US Energy Department has launched a new competition through which it aims to learn more about the performance and value of microgrids.

A microgrid is a local energy grid with control capability, which means it can disconnect from the traditional grid and operate autonomously. It can be powered by distributed generators, batteries and renewable sources like solar panels.

The Microgrid 2014 MVP Challenge will recognise local organisations in the US that have adopted successful grid strategies which can continue providing public services during power cuts caused by severe weather or other events. read more>>>

Smart waste as a strategic energy resource
July 1, 2014 - Waste, commonly known as trash, while distasteful to many, can actually be a strategic resource. The volume of waste generated by the world's cities is growing in tandem with the world's population and the pace of economic progress in developing countries. Emerging smart waste technologies offer the opportunity to generate renewable energy, enhance municipal solid waste (MSW) collection, and optimize the environmental performance of landfills.

At the heart of the smart waste evolution, according to the report, is a focus on reducing operational costs and using MSW as a strategic renewable resource for material and energy recovery -- all supported by technologies for smart collection read more>>>

EcoloBlue Water from Air

Nanogrids give microgrids a run for their money
June 30, 2014 - Nanogrids, smaller versions of microgrids, are modular building blocks -- typically serving a single load -- for energy services that support applications ranging from emergency power for commercial buildings to the provision of basic electricity services for people living in extreme poverty.

Navigant Research says that nanogrids are "big business," compared to microgrids. Even though microgrids exhibit exponential growth and share synergistic properties with nanogrids, substantial deployments of nanogrids are already deployed. read more>>>

Here’s Where Solar, Storage and Microgrids Are Starting to Take Hold in the US
July 1, 2014 - The grid edge is all around us.

Historically, distributed generation has largely been limited to a handful of progressive states. But as new maps from GTM Research show, solar, storage and microgrid applications are expanding beyond those traditional borders and leaving their imprint on the grid. Here are a few findings from some recent reports.

1. Solar will start to saturate more feeders

Solar Electricity Handbook - 2014 Edition: A Simple Practical Guide to Solar Energy - Designing and Installing Photovoltaic Solar Electric Systems

Students Unveil Solar-Powered 'Rooftop House' for an Apartment Block in Berlin
07/08/14 - A group of students have organized a crowdsourcing initiative to help renovate an Altbau - a turn-of-the-century apartment block in Berlin - for this year’s Solar Decathlon Competition. Their Rooftop House is a modular home that will replace the current roof truss and provide solar power to the building below.

The owners of the Altbau will invest to refurbish the rooftop and possibly replace old electrical appliances, fix windows and the façade and renew the heating system. The modular addition can be transported in its entirety and simply be put on top of the base house in one piece. Underneath several solar panels that can be adjusted to the direction of sunlight are the kitchen, dining space, living area and bathroom. By using bamboo for the surface of the kitchen as well as the module, the kitchen melts into the central unit of the house. read more>>>

Employment: Commission outlines measures to maximise job opportunities in the green economy
2 July 2014 - The European Commission has today adopted a Communication outlining the employment challenges and opportunities of the current transition towards a green, low carbon, energy and resource-efficient economy. The Green Employment Initiative Communication presents an integrated framework to allow labour market and skill policies to play an active role to support this transition. The Communication focuses on the importance of anticipating and establishing adequate skills policies to support workers in coping with structural change, of securing labour market transitions, and of strengthening governance and partnership-based initiatives. This Communication complements Communications on the Circular Economy and on a Green Action Plan for SMEs read more>>>

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