Archive for the ‘solar’ Category
When it comes to renewable energy and efficiency, a double-dip in the dish is a great deal.
The latest in solar dish technology that does what solar installations do—converts sunlight into power—but with an added twist: it generates clean water.
The efficiency of the typical solar installation ranges from 10 to 20 percent, with the rest waste heat. Swiss researchers associated with IBM have developed the High Concentration PhotoVoltaic Thermal system (HCPVT), which uses that waste solar heat to generate fresh water.
It’s reminiscent of the ancient craft of turning lead into gold. But it’s not alchemy, it’s real. Read the rest of this entry »
Reports of the solar industry’s pending demise have been greatly exaggerated, at least according to research by McKinsey.
According to the consultancy, the solar-power industry is merely suffering from “growing pains.” The article, “Solar power: Darkest before dawn,” dispels the notion that the industry has “lapsed into a classic cycle of boom and bust after a decade of unprecedented growth” even though that might appear to be what’s happening. Read the rest of this entry »
The show lays out the current status of climate change and what is doable on an individual and global basis. For example energy efficiency, while certainly not the total answer, will help tremendously. Take a look at the carbon footprint of the average U.S. family in a year–some 50 tons of CO2!
Remarkably, while there’s no glossing over that what we’ve done to the planet is alarming and dangerous and getting more so — the show has an upbeat and even optimistic message. It’s a solvable crisis because we have the technology and innovative ideas; we need the will for change.
This is really neat but will using solar power to create fuel have long-term legs? We’ll see – at some point alternative, renewal fuel ideas will have to catch on, won’t they?
Anyway this one is called solar biomass gasification, a concept and process that’s been around for some time, mostly in university scientific research circles. A relatively new company that has emerged from that university research environment, Sundrop Fuels Inc., might have the drop on making a commercial go of it.
CEO Wayne Simmons puts it quite succinctly: “We’re going to convert the sun’s energy into liquid fuel using concentrated solar power to gasify biomass, then convert the resulting syngas into green gasoline or diesel.”
The idea of the Solar power satellite is the yin to the yang of the Ronald Reagan’s expensive 1980s Star Wars fantasy, and almost as old. Scientists for decades have explored the potential of using space-based solar cells to beam power to the Earth.
Now the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has gone beyond whimsy by actually signing up several major collaborators to launch a giant one-gigawatt space solar power satellite into space. The players are huge – Fujitsu, Mitsubishi Electric and Sharp – and the bucks that JAXA has indicated it will invest in the project are also massive, $21 billion worth.
Warehouses and distribution facilities may be emptier inside than usual these days, but the rooftop space above is a great and largely untapped solar energy resource.
Distribution facility developer ProLogis, which was hard-hit last year by the collapse of the real estate industry, is on the cutting edge of what could and should be a bright business and sustanability opportunity in the logistics and warehousing arena.
The Denver company has formed a Global Renewable Energy Group that will oversee the procurement, development and management of new eco-friendly properties while providing management services for renewable energy projects, including a major push to provide rooftop space for solar energy installations.
One of the group’s first management efforts was announced recently: A new, 4.8-megawatt (MW) solar project that will be installed on eight rooftops at the ProLogis Park Sant Boi in Barcelona and ProLogis Park Alcala in Madrid, Spain. It’s a co-development arrangement with San Francisco’s Recurrent Energy that also marks Recurrent’s first foray into Europe.
More than $1.5 billion from two sources, one private and the other public, is going for renewable energy and clean technology projects.
The private venture capital firm Khosla Ventures said earlier this month that it closed on more than $1 billion in funding under two new venture funds with at least two-thirds of the money allocated for clean-tech investments, according to Samir Kaul, a general partner at the Menlo Park, CA firm.
Kholsa Ventures was founded in 2004 by Vinod Khosla, the founder and first CEO of Sun Microsystems. The firm offers venture assistance, strategic advice and capital for entrepreneurs working mainly in clean-tech areas such solar, battery, high efficiency engines, lighting, greener materials like cement, glass and bio-refineries for energy abd bioplastics, and other eco-friendly technologies.
In the two new venture funds announced early this month Khosla closed on a roughly $250 million Seed Fund designed to make investments of around $2 million each, Kaul says.
The firm also closed Khosla Ventures III at about $800 million, which will back companies with initial investments of $5 to $10 million.
This was Khosla’s first foray into raising funds from outside investors and the largest clean-tech funding by a single venture capital firm since 2007.
California Public Employees’ Retirement System (Calpers) was an investor along with other unidentified pension funds, university endowments and foundations.
Kaul estimated both funds will be invested over the next three to five years, adding that Khosla is looking into various sub-sectors of clean-tech with a special focus on building materials and bioplastics.
Those “are very big markets and they are growing and there’s a lot of consumer demand,” he said.
Current bioplastics investments by Khosla include Draths Corp. of Okemos, MI and Segetis Inc. of Golden Valley, MN. Its building materials portfolio includes two California companies, Soladigm of Santa Rosa and the cement company Calera Corp., of Los Gatos.
So far this year Khosla has added seven new portfolio companies in the clean technology sector. These include Skywatch Energy in solar, HCL CleanTech Ltd. in cellulosic sugars, Hybra-Drive Systems LLC in efficiency, and Rayspan Corp. and SeaMicro Inc. in information technology.
Stimulus grants awarded by DOE and Treasury are in the first round of about $3 billion in direct payments to companies in lieu of tax credits that will eventually support an estimated 5,000 biomass, solar, wind and other renewable energy production facilities.line “These grants will help America’s businesses launch clean energy projects, putting Americans back to work in good construction and manufacturing jobs,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu.
Companies receiving the most money involved wid farm projects, including the Penascal wind farm ($114.1 million) in Sarita, TX; the Locust Ridge II, LLC wind project ($59.2 million) in Shenandoah, PA; the Canandaigua Power Partners, LLC wind project ($52.4 million) in Cohocton, NY; and the Wheat Field wind farm ($47.7 million) in Arlington, OR.\line Iberdrola Renewables Inc., a subsidiary of Spain’s Iberdrola SA was awarded $294.9 million for five wind projects, bringing the company’s investment so far in U.S. wind power to about $1 billion. The 12 winning projects could produce 840 megawatts of electricity, representing a 3 percent increase in total U.S. renewable electricity generation capacity, the Energy Department said.
FedEx Ground, the small-package shipping unit of FedEx Corp., plans to install the nation’s largest rooftop solar-electric system at its 80-acre distribution hub in Woodbridge, N.J.
And the Army Corps of Engineers last week chose Clark Energy Group to develop the largest solar power project in Department of Defense history at Fort Irwin, CA. Acciona Solar Power will team with Clark to construct and manage the Fort Irwin Energy Solar Energy EUL project. The Enhanced Use Learning program is administered by the Corps’ Baltimore District.
The FedEx solar project is the third solar power project between a FedEx operating company and BP Solar and the fifth solar power project overall for FedEx. The 2.42-megawatt solar power system will cover approximately 3.3 acres of roof top space, using about 12,400 solar panels.
When completed, the system will have the capacity to produce approximately 2.6 million kilowatt hours of electricity a year and could provide up to 30 percent of the hub’s annual energy needs.
As part of the agreement, BP will install and operate the solar power system and FedEx will purchase the power generated.
Installation is scheduled to begin this month and is slated for completion by November.
When the system is fully operational, the combined environmental benefits based on a projected annual reduction of approximately 1,867 metric tons of CO2 emissions, are equivalent to one of the following:
- More than 340 passenger cars not driven for one year
- 211,900 gallons of gasoline not burned
- 4,300 barrels of oil not consumed
- 259 households’ electricity use for one year
- 47,872 tree seedlings grown for 10 years
- 13 acres of forest preserved from deforestation
Last year, FedEx Freight installed two solar power systems. One in Whittier, CA, is a 282-kilowatt system, while another in Fontana, CA, is a 269-kilowatt system. In 2005, FedEx Express activated a 904-kilowatt system at its Oakland, Calif., hub facility, making it the first of its kind in the FedEx family. That system today meets up to 80 percent of that facility’s peak energy demand. And, FedEx is currently constructing its Central and Eastern European gateway at the Cologne/Bonn, Germany, airport, which will include a 1.4-megawatt solar power system. The hub is slated for completion in 2010.
FedEx’s Woodbridge hub sits on a former brownfield site once used to stockpile soils dredged from the nearby Raritan River. Soils and groundwater were contaminated with various polluting substances, primarily arsenic. To build the facility, FedEx Ground worked with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection on a remedial action for the site. Today, the hub houses a workforce of more than 1,000 employees and independent contractors.
In addition, the company signed an agreement with the China Huadian New Energy Development Co. (HNE) to develop utility-scale and commercial rooftop solar projects totaling 500mw in China’s western provinces.
The recent announcements were the latest in a flurry of moves by the world’s largest crystalline photovoltaic module manufacturer, which has regional headquarters in Beijing, Wuxi, China and San Francisco. Suntech trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol STP.
Financial terms of the deals were not disclosed.
Under the partnership with CECIC, the state-owned energy conservation company will be responsible for project investment and solar project development, while Suntech will supply the solar products, system design and technical support. The plan is to develop large-scale, on-grid projects, urban building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) projects, rural off-grid projects and wind-solar hybrid projects.
CECIC focuses on energy conservation investment and also consults on conservation and policy to government agencies.
In the deal with HNE, Suntech will supply silicon solar modules along with system design and tech support. HNE will oversee investment and solar project development.
Suntech said the projects developed under the collaborations could include solar initiatives previously announced by the company in Qinghai province, Shaanxi province, Ningxia province’s Shizuishan city, Panzhihua in Sichuan province and in Jiangsu province.
Recent news from the word’s largest photovoltaic module maker, Suntech Power Holdings, is somewhat mixed.
On the upside, Suntech will close soon on a $50 million loan from the World Bank Group’s International Finance Corporation.
Suntech says the convertible loan will boost its new Pluto technology for silicon solar cells, along with debt financing requirements. The seven-year loan has a fixed-rate coupon of 5 percent per year payable twice a year on June 15 and December 15. If it is converted to a variable-rate loan, the conversion price is $18.00 per American depositary share, which was set at a premium over the average trading price during a span of 20 trading days immediately prior to IFC’s notice that it had approved the loan.
Under the agreement the New York Stock Exchange-listed company (STP) can draw down the loan after meeting certain conditions that it says it will satisfy within 30 days. Suntech has regional headquarters in Wuxi, China, Switzerland and San Francisco.
On the downside, Suntech said Tuesday that Johnson Chiang suddenly resigned as the company’s Chief Operating Officer on July 3, citing the ever-mysterious “personal reasons” for his departure. There was no further explanation for the move.
“We appreciate Johnson’s significant contributions to Suntech over the past year and wish him all the best in the future,” said Zhengrong Shi, chairman and CEO, in a brief statement.
Suntech’s stock has plummeted by nearly 65 percent over the past 10 months and the company’s revenue fell by nearly 25 percent in the first quarter though it was able to scratch out what analysts called a “surprise profit” for the period.
In other management changes, Suntech said Guangchun Zhang, vice president of Manufacturing Technology and Quality, will take over management of all crystalline silicon PV manufacturing operations in China.
Shi will temporarily oversee management of the Shanghai thin film plant, KSL Kuttler and BIPV manufacturing operations at Suntech Japan “until a suitable replacement is found.”
Regarding the $50 million IFC loan, Shi said, “These additional funds will strengthen Suntech’s financial position and support our transition to the high efficiency Pluto technology as we progress towards our goal of providing grid parity solar solutions.”.
IFC’s new investments in 2008 totaled $16.2 billion, a 34 percent increase over the previous year.