Tag Archives | Alternative Energy

The Oil Industry is Going Solar

solarprice

Zachary Shahan writes at Climate Crock of the Week:

There’s no way around it — the future of energy is solar energy. But here’s the fun part: the future starts now.

Solar panels have been on the market for decades, but saying solar panels of today are the same as solar panels of the 1990s is like saying phones of today are like phones of the 1990s. True, you can’t play Tetris on your solar panels or listen to music via them, but who wants to climb onto a record-hot roof to do that anyway? Getting back to the central point here, it’s that the cost of solar has fallen off a cliff, and solar power is increasingly the cheapest option around. (see graph above).

Solar power prices are falling so fast that it’s hard for just about anyone to keep up. Last year, many of us jumped for joy as a record-low solar PPA was signed in Austin, Texas (for 5 cents/kWh).

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Synthesizing Jet Fuel from Sea Water

060318-N-7526R-154 South China Sea (March 19, 2006) Ð Amphibious command ship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) Sailors look on as a refueling probe crosses over the South China Sea, during a replenishment at sea (RAS) with the Military Sealift Command (MSC) underway replenishment oiler USNS Walter S. Diehl (T-AO 193). Blue Ridge, the 7th Fleet command ship, is currently underway for a regularly scheduled deployment throughout the 7th Fleet area of responsibility.

Everybody already knows that jet fuel can’t melt steel beams.

However, perhaps you didn’t know that a team at the Naval Research Laboratories in Florida has successfully developed a technology that synthesizes jet fuel from only sea water and electricity.

With all of their ships and planes, the navy has a huge need of both diesel and jet fuel. Unfortunately, many of the regions that contain large sources of petroleum, have…how shall I say…political interests highly contrary to those of the United States. So sending an oiler supply vessel to shore to find a petroleum source could be a very hazardous strategic move in a conflict and might leave our ships dead in the water or forced to return home. This strategic achilles heel for the navy is bad, but the fuel is also increasingly expensive (cost of fuel for the navy rose from $0.63/gal in 2000 to $3.75/gal in 2013, and effectively costs over $7.00/gal to deliver to the vessels) not to mention environmentally disastrous.… Read the rest

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New Report Shatters Myth of ‘Nuclear Renaissance’

A solar park in the UK. (Photo: RTPeat/flickr/cc)

A solar park in the UK. (Photo: RTPeat/flickr/cc)

This post was originally published on Common Dreams. See more of Andrea Germanos’ articles here.

If renewable energy advocates need more evidence that solar and wind are better investments than nuclear power, a new report may offer just that.

The findings come from the newly released World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2015, which looks at global nuclear developments over the past year.

Marking a first in five decades, Japan went without nuclear power for an entire year, the report states. And three of the world’s largest economies—China, Germany, Japan—as well as Brazil, India, Mexico, the Netherlands, and Spain, now all generate more electricity from non-hydro renewables than from nuclear.

In the UK, renewable energy, including hydropower, provided more electricity output than nuclear in 2014.

Global generation from solar was up 38 percent, and wind power increased over 10 percent.

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‘Blue Energy’ Is So Plentiful That It Could Meet All Our Electricity Needs

Could blue be the new green, asks BBC Future, referring to the so-called blue energy generated when fresh water rivers flow into salt water estuaries:

It is perhaps one of the most under-exploited sources of green energy. When salt water and fresh water mix in estuaries, a chemical process occurs that can be harnessed for electricity generation.

Medway Estuary. Photo: Clem Rutter (CC)

Medway Estuary. Photo: Clem Rutter (CC)

 

According to one estimate, this “blue energy” is so plentiful that it could meet all our needs – if we can find an effective way to tap it. Could ‘blue’ be the new green?

Blue energy was first proposed in 1954 by a British engineer named R E Pattle. It is sometimes called “osmotic power”, because it exploits the phenomenon of osmosis. To understand how this works, picture two solutions of water with different concentrations of a dissolved substance like salt. If these two solutions are separated by a thin “semi-permeable” membrane that lets water through but not salt ions, then water will naturally pass from the less- to the more-salty side.

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Ancient Bacteria Produce Carbon-Neutral Ethanol Using Just Sun, Waste Carbon Dioxide and Non-Potable Water

Scientists at innovative energy company Joule have engineered ancient bacteria to produce carbon-neutral ethanol using just the sun, waste carbon dioxide and non-potable water. It’s amazingly efficient, beating other ethanol sources like corn and wood chips by a huge margin and could eventually be cheaper than oil. Bloomberg’s Ramy Inocencio reports from Hobbs, New Mexico:

There’s more detailed information in Joule’s press release.

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Wind Energy Was Largest Source Of New US Electricity In 2014

Joshua S. Hill Via CleanTechnica:

The American Wind Energy Association has commented on the US Department of Energy’s data released for 2014 this week, which showed that wind energy added “significantly more” electricity than any other resource across the year.

According to Department of Energy (DoE) Energy Information Administration (EIA) statistics, wind energy generated 4.4% of all electricity during 2014, maintaining its position as the country’s fifth largest electricity source.

Wind energy generated a total of 181,791 GWh of electricity in 2014, up 13,951 GWh over 2013 levels.

EIA-1

 

Continue reading. (And please mark this article as “interesting” over at CleanTechnica if you found it informative.)

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Using ‘Fuzzy Logic’ to Optimize Hybrid Solar/Battery Systems

This image shows the fuzzy logic algorithm which reads the consumption energy and the monthly average of daily solar radiation and gives the output of the system which is the PVP surface and the battery capacity. Credit: Chokri BEN SALAH/Control and Energy Management Lab. (CEMLab), Department of Electrical Engineering, National School of Engineers of Sfax, BP. W, 3038, Sfax, Tunisia.

This image shows the fuzzy logic algorithm which reads the consumption energy and the monthly average of daily solar radiation and gives the output of the system which is the PVP surface and the battery capacity.

Credit: Chokri BEN SALAH/Control and Energy Management Lab. (CEMLab), Department of Electrical Engineering, National School of Engineers of Sfax, BP. W, 3038, Sfax, Tunisia.

Via ScienceDaily:

How did fuzzy logic help a group of researchers in Tunisia and Algeria create an ideal photovoltaic system that obeys the supply-and-demand principle and its delicate balance?

In the Journal of Renewable & Sustainable Energy, from AIP Publishing, the group describes a new sizing system of a solar array and a battery in a standalone photovoltaic system that is based on fuzzy logic — a many-valued logic system designed to reason outputs by considering a range of possibilities rather than a simple, binary yes or no, as with classical logic.

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Solar Power Towers Are Vaporizing Birds

bird-deaths-by-power-source

Bird Deaths By Power Source | U.S. News & World Report

 

Solar power may be deadly to birds, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the damage that coal power does.

Sarah Fecht writes at Popular Science:

But they aren’t the deadliest energy source for our feathered friends.

The Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project in Nevada is set to come online in March. Once completed, it will use thousands of mirrors to focus sunlight on a tower, melting millions of pounds of salt contained inside. The molten salt will heat water into steam, which then turns turbines and generates electricity without any carbon byproducts. There’s just one little problem: During a test run on January 14, the intense heat from the mirrors reportedly incinerated and/or vaporized more than 100 birds.

Rewire reports that during the test, operators fired up a third of the 110-megawatt facility’s mirrors, concentrating sunlight on a spot 1,200 feet off the ground.
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In 10 Years Solar and Wind Power Will Be the Cheapest Forms of Energy in Northeast Asia

Intel Free Press (CC BY 2.0)

Intel Free Press (CC BY 2.0)

Via Lappeenranta University of Technology:

A new study demonstrates that an energy system based completely on renewable forms of energy will be economically viable in the future. Research done at Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) shows that it will be worthwhile for North-East Asia, and China in particular, to switch to a completely renewable energy system within 5–10 years. According to the Neo-Carbon Energy project, which conducted the research, the price of solar electricity will drop by half by 2025−2030.

Completed at the end of last year, the study concluded that within ten years solar and wind power will be the cheapest forms of energy production for Asia’s largest energy markets. According to LUT Professor of Solar Economy Christian Breyer, this is because renewable energy is the cheapest way of producing energy in Asia.

Economic viability has been one of the challenges of making the transition to renewable energy sources and doing so on the terms of the market.

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Another State Fights War on Solar and Energy Efficiency

Via Mary Anne Hitt at EcoWatch

Despite poll after poll showing that Americans want more clean energy, Indiana legislators are pushing bills that would reduce energy efficiency and make it harder for Hoosier state residents to go solar, just as the solar industry is getting on its feet in the state.

Last week, Indiana’s Senate Utilities Committee heard from a packed room about its bill that would let utilities set energy efficiency goals. Last year the state decided to end the popular Energizing Indiana efficiency program. Now some in the legislature have created Senate Bill 412, which is very one-sided in favor of utilities who sell electricity and doesn’t protect the average person from monopoly interests.

Energy efficiency is a proven tool to lower electricity bills and save money for people across the state.

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