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Obama to challenge private companies to boost solar power use

Submitted on 04/17/14, 12:26 PM | Click Here for the full article: Washington Post

Obama to challenge private companies to boost solar power useObama to challenge private companies to boost solar power use

President Obama will challenge companies Thursday to expand their use of solar power, part of his ongoing effort to leverage the power of his office to achieve goals that have been stymied by Congress. The new initiative comes as the White House is hosting a Solar Summit aimed at highlighting successful efforts on the local level to speed the deployment of solar energy.
 
Although some large solar plants are coming online and it is the fastest-growing source of renewable energy in the United States, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, it accounts for roughly 1 percent of the nation’s electricity generation.
 
“Now is the time for solar,” said Anya Schoolman, executive director of the Community Power Network, a Washington-based nonprofit group that helps communities build renewable energy projects. She will be honored at the summit Thursday.
 
“The costs are affordable, in reach of middle America and above. We know how to do it now, we know how to scale it, and we kind of just need people to let it go and encourage it,” she said.
 
In an effort to make it easier for state, local and tribal governments to expand their solar portfolios, the Energy Department is launching a $15 million-dollar “Solar Market Pathways” program.

 

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Global Wind Power Capacity Projected To Nearly Double In 5 Years

Submitted on 04/15/14, 02:54 PM | Click Here for the full article: http://cleantechnica.com/2014/04/15/global-wind-power-capacity-projected-nearly-double-5-years-chart

Global Wind Power Capacity Projected To Nearly Double In 5 YearsGlobal Wind Power Capacity Projected To Nearly Double In 5 Years

Asia is now leagues ahead of other regions within the global wind market. Furthermore, this market is expected to grow at an annual cumulative capacity rate of more than 10 percent over the coming five years. A recent Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) report shows other significant wind energy markets of the past few years have slowed in comparison. However, overall global growth of wind energy will remain firm with a hopeful measure of expanding growth again.

The wind market for 2013 was an “off” year. Less wind energy capacity was installed in 2013 than in 2012. This disappointment saw the biggest drop in the market’s relatively short life. From 1996 through 2013, annual installed capacity for wind grew at an average rate of more than 20 percent.

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MIT, Harvard scientists study how to produce solar power without sunlight

Submitted on 04/14/14, 07:45 AM | Click Here for the full article: Biz Journals

MIT, Harvard scientists study how to produce solar power without sunlightMIT, Harvard scientists study how to produce solar power without sunlight

A team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University are working on a technology that wouldn't require sunlight to produce solar power.

The team is developing a material that can absorb the sun's heat and store the energy in a chemical form, ready to be released "on-demand," according to a release.

The technology could be used for heating buildings, cooking or other uses where heat, rather than electricity, is the desired output.

In a release, researchers describe the technology behind the system:

"Some molecules, known as photoswitches, can assume either of two different shapes, as if they had a hinge in the middle. Exposing them to sunlight causes them to absorb energy and jump from one configuration to the other, which is then stable for long periods of time.

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GTM Research - Chinese solar-panel prices rising 20% in the U.S.

Submitted on 04/10/14, 03:17 PM | Click Here for the full article: AltEnergyMag Newspage

GTM Research - Chinese solar-panel prices rising 20% in the U.S.GTM Research - Chinese solar-panel prices rising 20% in the U.S.

The price of Chinese-made solar panels delivered to the U.S. could increase by up to 20% by the end of the year, GTM Research said Thursday.

The increase is due to supply constraints, rising input costs, and the ongoing trade dispute between the two countries, the Boston-based green-energy consultancy said in a report. 

Chinese-made modules are significantly cheaper than those made in other areas, and GTM Research estimated they were 55% of total modules shipped to the U.S. last year. 

Chinese firms are quoting modules at 80 cents to 85 cents per watt for delivery in the second half of the year, compared to 70 cents per watt at the end of 2013, the report said. 

The ongoing U.S.-China trade case is the "primary driver" behind the price increase, the report said. 

More duties on Chinese and Taiwanese solar modules would push up U.S. pricing beyond current levels, as the firms would pass on tariff-induced penalties onto customers or contract out cell and module production to vendors based in higher-cost countries such as India, South Korea, and Malaysia, GTM Research said. 

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Celebrating The 60th Anniversary Of The First Practical Solar Cell

Submitted on 04/08/14, 01:35 PM | Click Here for the full article: Clean Technica

Celebrating The 60th Anniversary Of The First Practical Solar CellCelebrating The 60th Anniversary Of The First Practical Solar Cell

Sixty years ago on April 25, 1954, Bell Laboratories demonstrated to the world one of the most significant breakthroughs ever recorded in the history of solar energy and of electricity – the first solar cell capable of converting enough sunlight into electricity to generate useful amounts of power. The press watched in awe as light poured on the first watt of silicon to run a 21 inch Ferris wheel. The next day the New York Times stated on its front page that the Bell invention marked “the beginning of a new era, eventually leading to the realization of one of mankind’s most cherished dreams – the harnessing of the almost limitless energy of the sun for the uses of civilization.”

At the time of the Bell announcement, all the solar cells in the world delivered about one watt. Today, more than 100 billion watts of generating capacity of photovoltaics have been installed worldwide. This year not only marks the 60th anniversary of the solar cell, but also the beginning of reaching the Holy Grail that had previously been only a dream of solar scientists – entering the Era of Grid Parity, when solar panels generate power at costs equal to or less than electricity produced by fossil and nuclear fuels. With the phenomenal growth of solar technology in the last several years and its future looking even brighter, the time is ripe to celebrate the founding of a technology that led Science magazine almost forty years ago to declare, “If there is a dream solar technology, it is photovoltaics ­­­solar cells … a space­age electronic marvel at once the most sophisticated solar technology and the simplest, most environmentally benign source of electricity yet conceived."

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Shale Gas Boom Leaves Wind Power Developers Seeking More Subsidy

Submitted on 04/07/14, 06:23 AM | Click Here for the full article: Business Week

Shale Gas Boom Leaves Wind Power Developers Seeking More SubsidyShale Gas Boom Leaves Wind Power Developers Seeking More Subsidy

The $14 billion industry, the world’s second-largest buyer of wind turbines, is reeling from a double blow -- cheap natural gas unleashed by the hydraulic fracturing revolution and the death last year of federal subsidies that made wind the most competitive of all renewable energy sources in the U.S.
 
Without restoration of subsidies, worth $23 per megawatt hour to turbine owners, the industry may not recover, and the U.S. may lose ground in its race to reduce dependence on the fossil fuels driving global warming, say wind-power advocates.
 
They place the subsidy argument in the context of fairness, pointing out that wind’s chief fossil-fuel rival, the gas industry, is aided by the ability to form master limited partnerships that allow pipeline operators to avoid paying income tax. This helps drive down the cost of natural gas.
 
“If gas prices weren’t so cheap, then wind might be able to compete on its own,” said South Dakota’s Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard.
 
Consider that gas averaged $8.90 a million British thermal units in 2008 and plunged to $3.73 last year, making the fuel a cheaper source of electricity for utilities. Congress allowed the wind Production Tax Credit to expire last year, and wind farm construction plunged 92 percent.

 

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Record-Breaking Demand For Global Solar PV Industry in Q1 2014, According to NPD Solarbuzz

Submitted on 04/03/14, 01:51 PM | Click Here for the full article: AltEnergyMag Newspage

Record-Breaking Demand For Global Solar PV Industry in Q1 2014, According to NPD SolarbuzzRecord-Breaking Demand For Global Solar PV Industry in Q1 2014, According to NPD Solarbuzz

New solar photovoltaic (PV) demand added during the first quarter of 2014 exceeded 9 gigawatts (GW), which was 35 percent more than the previous first-quarter record, set last year. In fact, every quarter in 2014 is forecast to reach new highs, with trailing 12-month demand at the end of Q1 2015 forecast to exceed 50 GW for the first time, according to findings in the latest NPD Solarbuzz Quarterly report. 

The record level of demand achieved in the first quarter was driven by strong growth in Japan and the United Kingdom. These two countries combined accounted for more than one-third of global solar PV demand in Q1 2014 and set new quarterly records for PV deployed. 

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How They Clean Those Gigantic Solar Energy Plants Clean?

Submitted on 04/01/14, 02:24 PM | Click Here for the full article: Gizmodo

How They Clean Those Gigantic Solar Energy Plants Clean?How They Clean Those Gigantic Solar Energy Plants Clean?

The world's largest solar plants sure look amazing, but for those with inquisitive minds they raise one big question: how the hell do they keep all those panels clean? Nowadays, using robots like this!
 
This video shows the newly installed robotic cleaning system at Ketura Sun Solar Park. Until now, the panels covering the 20-acre site were only cleaned about nine times a year—a laborious task, performed infrequently due to expense—which in turn led to sub-optimal plant efficiency.
 
Now, though, a robotic army—designed and made by Israel-based Ecoppia—swarm over the panels to keep them clean. The 100 centrally controlled automatons set to work at nighttime, using microfiber pads and controlled air flows to push dirt from the surface of the solar panels. The robots move up and down their own aluminum frames to avoid loading the panels, and during the day they sit at the bottom and charge using electricity generated by the plant. So, now you know. 

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