Tag Archives | Alternative Energy

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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How Much Safer Would Thorium Based Nuclear Power Be?

Uploaded by Alchemist-hp  via Free Art License 1.3 (FAL 1.3)

Uploaded by Alchemist-hp via Free Art License 1.3 (FAL 1.3)

According to Oliver Tickell, not much:

Numerous advantages for thorium as a nuclear fuel and for the LFTR design over conventional solid fuel reactors have been claimed. In this section we consider each of these claims in turn.

3.1 Abundance of thorium relative to uranium

Claim: Thorium is several times more abundant in the Earth’s crust than uranium.

Response: Thorium (232Th) is indeed more abundant than uranium, by a factor of three to four. But whereas 0.7% of uranium occurs as fissile 235U, none of the thorium is fissile. The world already possesses an estimated 1.2 million tonnes of depleted uranium (mainly 238U), like thorium a fertile but non-fissile material. So the greater abundance of thorium than uranium confers no advantage, other than a very marginal advantage in energy security to those countries in which it is abundant.

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New Technique Offers Spray-on Solar Power

liz west (CC BY 2.0)

liz west (CC BY 2.0)

Via ScienceDaily:

Pretty soon, powering your tablet could be as simple as wrapping it in cling wrap.

That’s Illan Kramer’s (ECE) hope. Kramer and colleagues have just invented a new way to spray solar cells onto flexible surfaces using miniscule light-sensitive materials known as colloidal quantum dots (CQDs) — a major step toward making spray-on solar cells easy and cheap to manufacture.

“My dream is that one day you’ll have two technicians with Ghostbusters backpacks come to your house and spray your roof,” said Kramer, a post-doctoral fellow with The Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at the University of Toronto and IBM Canada’s Research and Development Centre.

Solar-sensitive CQDs printed onto a flexible film could be used to coat all kinds of weirdly shaped surfaces, from patio furniture to an airplane’s wing. A surface the size of your car’s roof wrapped with CQD-coated film would produce enough energy to power three 100-Watt light bulbs — or 24 compact fluorescents.

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The Coming Era of Unlimited — and Free — Clean Energy

When I saw this headline in  a tweet from Daniel Pinchbeck I thought it was going to link to one of “those” blogs, but no, it’s straight from a stalwart of the mainstream media, the Washington Post, which is touting 100% solar-generated electricity meeting all our needs, sooner rather than later:

In the 1980s, leading consultants were skeptical about cellular phones.  McKinsey & Company noted that the handsets were heavy, batteries didn’t last long, coverage was patchy, and the cost per minute was exorbitant.  It predicted that in 20 years the total market size would be about 900,000 units, and advised AT&T to pull out.  McKinsey was wrong, of course.  There were more than 100 million cellular phones in use in 2000; there are billions now.  Costs have fallen so far that even the poor — all over world — can afford a cellular phone.

The experts are saying the same about solar energy now.  

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