World’s Largest Solar Power Development Breaks Ground

SUNPOWER CORP. ANTELOPE VALLEY

Construction has started on what’s being billed as the world’s largest solar power development, the 579 MW Antelope Valley Solar Projects, located in California. The development, from MidAmerican Solar and SunPower Corp., is actually two projects, in both Kern and Los Angeles counties, and is expected to take about three years to complete. During construction, the projects will employ about 650 people and be responsible for about $500 million (USD) worth of economic impact in the region. The site covers over 3200 acres, and will feature SunPower’s Oasis Power Plant technology, a modular system that is designed for rapid installation… read more

Build a Solar Heating Panel with Soda Cans

soda can solar heater

If you’ve got good sun exposure on one side of your house, you can take advantage of free heat from the sun with this DIY solar heating panel, which uses old soda cans to collect and transfer the sun’s energy into your house. Sometimes, low-tech solar devices are much better than high-tech ones for home use, as they not only tend to be cheaper to make, but will also last much longer before any repairs or maintenance are necessary. And even better, they can be built in part from repurposed or recycled components, which is something you don’t see very… read more

New Power Storage System for Offshore Wind Uses Giant Underwater Spheres

Giant Wind Farm

The design for a new method of storing energy from offshore wind farms uses giant concrete spheres on the sea floor, which could both anchor floating wind turbines and smooth out power fluctuations to the grid. The new underwater storage design, from researchers at MIT, could be used to capture excess power from offshore wind turbines, and then release it on demand, helping to bridge the difference between generation and demand times for electricity. “Whenever the wind turbines produce more power than is needed, that power would be diverted to drive a pump attached to the underwater structure, pumping seawater… read more

Goodbye Silicon, Hello Graphene

Graphene electrodes

Silicon, the second most abundant element in the earth’s crust, and eighth most abundant in the entire universe, may have just taken a backseat to a lesser known element: Graphene. One of silicon’s best uses is in solar cells, though that may all change soon. According to MIT, Graphene has the potential of providing 60 percent more energy efficiency than silicon. So far, there aren’t any devices capable of using graphene to harvest energy, however, in the near future when companies begin testing and developing such machines, we may very well have a revolution in solar energy on our hands…. read more

Battery Breakthrough Could Benefit Solar and Wind Power

lithiumpolysulfideflowbattery

In order to further integrate solar and wind power into the grid, one of the things that can make a big difference is finding an economical way to store and release energy, and a recent breakthrough in battery design from SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University may be able to that. Because of the power fluctuations that are a natural part of solar and wind power installations, an energy storage system must be in place in order to smooth out peaks and valleys in the power supply by storing excess energy when it is generated, and discharging it when… read more

IBM’s High-Efficiency Solar Device Provides Electricity and Potable Water

HCPVTprototype

Thanks to a $2.4 million, three-year grant from the Swiss Commission for Technology and Innovation, the research and development of an affordable, highly-efficient photovoltaic system that also provides air conditioning and potable water is in the works. The project’s aim is to build an economical version of their High Concentration PhotoVoltaic Thermal (HCPVT) system, which is said to be able to concentrate solar energy by a factor of 2000, while converting 80% of the incoming radiation into usable energy. The HCPVT system uses a large parabolic dish filled with mirrored facets that reflect the sun’s rays onto hundreds of tiny… read more

GE Successfully Tests High-Temperature Superconducting Generator

hydrogenie

In the future, power from wind and water could be produced with much smaller, much lighter, and more efficient generators, thanks to advancements in superconducting technology. GE’s Power Conversion facility in Rugby, England, just completed successful trials for its Hydrogenie generator, which is highly efficient in power production, yet with significantly less size and mass than conventional versions. The Hydrogenie uses a superconducting layer instead of copper wire in the rotor windings, which enables the use of wires only about 2% of the size of those in conventional generators. The generator operates at a temperature of -230°C, using a system… read more

Atmospheric Vortex Engine Could Power Cities with Tornados

AVEgraphic-charles-floyd

A new clean energy concept, the Atmospheric Vortex Engine (AVE), will be built out into a bigger prototype for further testing and analysis, thanks to some Silicon Valley funding. With the receipt of a new grant from The Thiel Foundation, AVEtec will work toward building an 8 meter diameter prototype of their unique energy device at Lambton College in Ontario, which will spin a 1 meter diameter turbine. The AVE works by using low temperature waste heat to create a tornado-like vortex that acts as a virtual chimney, and the technology could be used to spin turbines for electricity. Other… read more

Affordable Solar Options

Affordable Solar Options

The sun’s rays have long been utilized for energy. Though they pay for themselves in the long run, the upfront costs of installing solar panels can be steep. If you want the optimal effects of solar energy but cannot afford to solarize your whole home or business, there are other options that will produce sustainable power without as steep of a price tag. Financing and tax incentives are usually available for renewable energy installations. Instead of splurging for an entire line, you can also purchase individual panels and add to your solar collection when you have the opportunity. If you… read more

What Time Is It?

What Time Is It?

Energy use varies throughout the day causing fluctuations in rates. Energy consumption costs more at peak times where use spikes across the board. For example, in many areas from 4 to 8 on weekday evenings is typically when energy use it at its highest. So the electricity you use during a certain part of the day may actually cost you more during another time. Peak times vary for different areas and seasons. There are simple tricks to reduce energy use and save a little money, too. More than half of all energy expended is from housing. Things like using air… read more