Tag Archives | Solar Power

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. Over a six-hour period, biologists counted 130 “streamers,” or trails of smoke and water left behind as birds ignited and plummeted to their deaths.
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Renewable Energy Will, In Fact, Not Solve Climate Change

Y U NO STOP CLIMATE CHANGEjpg

Y U NO STOP CLIMATE CHANGE?

 

Ross Koningstein & David Fork via IEEE Spectrum:

Starting in 2007, Google committed significant resources to tackle the world’s climate and energy problems.

Google’s boldest energy move was an effort known as RE<C, which aimed to develop renewable energy sources that would generate electricity more cheaply than coal-fired power plants do. The company announced that Google would help promising technologies mature by investing in start-ups and conducting its own internal R&D. Its aspirational goal: to produce a gigawatt of renewable power more cheaply than a coal-fired plant could, and to achieve this in years, not decades.

Unfortunately, not every Google moon shot leaves Earth orbit.  By 2011, it was clear that RE<C would not be able to deliver a technology that could compete economically with coal, and Google officially ended the initiative and shut down the related internal R&D projects.  The conclusion: even if Google and others had led the way toward a wholesale adoption of renewable energy, that switch would not have resulted in significant reductions of carbon dioxide emissions.

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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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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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Solartopia! Winning the Green Energy Revolution

The_Sun_by_the_Atmospheric_Imaging_Assembly_of_NASA's_Solar_Dynamics_Observatory_-_20100819Harvey Wasserman writes at Common Dreams:

High above the Bowling Green town dump, a green energy revolution is being won. It’s being helped along by the legalization of marijuana and its bio­fueled cousin, industrial hemp.

But it’s under extreme attack from the billionaire Koch Brothers, utilities like First Energy (FE), and a fossil/nuke industry that threatens our existence on this planet.

Robber Baron resistance to renewable energy has never been more fierce. The prime reason is that the Solartopian Revolution embodies the ultimate threat to the corporate utility industry and the hundreds of billions of dollars it has invested in the obsolete monopolies that define King CONG (Coal, Oil, Nukes & Gas).

The outcome will depend on your activism, and will determine whether we survive here at all. Four very large wind turbines in this small Ohio town are producing clean, cheap electricity that can help save our planet. A prime reason they exist is that Bowling Green has a municipal­owned utility.

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Another Step Closer to Low Cost Solar Cells

Pic: Qi research group that studies Flextrodes.  From left: Yabing Qi, Yuichi Kato, Min-Cherl Jung and Michael Lee. (C) OIST

Pic: Qi research group that studies Flextrodes. From left: Yabing Qi, Yuichi Kato, Min-Cherl Jung and Michael Lee. (C) OIST

Via ScienceDaily:

The dwindling resources for conventional energy sources make renewable energy an exciting and increasingly important avenue of research. However, even seemingly new and green forms of energy production, like silicon-based solar cells, are not as cost effective as they could be. An OIST research team led by Yabing Qi is investigating solar cells based on organic materials that have electrodes both flexible and transparent, enabling the fabrication of these solar cells at a low cost.

In a recent paper published in the journal Organic Electronics, Qi and his research group characterized the electrodes made with new materials, including plastic, conductive material and zinc oxide. They also successfully identified methods by which to clean the electrodes to restore their conductivity and work function after an extended period of storage, thus contributing to the optimization of making these new solar cells.

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Solar Powered Plane to Fly Around The World

People powered might just as well be the description of this nifty solar plane, as the 12,000 solar cells are all sponsored to the tune of $200 each.

640px-Flea_Hop_HB-SIA_-_Solar_Impulse

Finn Olaf-Jones reports for the Wall Street Journal:

…In 2003, [Bertand] Piccard approached European companies to sponsor what has become a $148 million project and began assembling a team of 80 engineers and technicians plucked largely from Swiss universities. After seven years of tinkering, they arrived at a machine with a deceptively simple design: Solar Impulse—with its sleek, clean lines, white-gloss finish and rakishly angled 208-foot wings (bent to increase the plane’s stability)—resembles what you might get had Steve Jobs reimagined a child’s balsa-wood glider in giant form.

“The crux to flying nonstop around the world with solar energy is being able to fly even when the sun isn’t out, especially at night,” notes André Borschberg, a former Swiss air force fighter ace and McKinsey & Company consultant who, as the project’s CEO, oversees the design team and takes turns piloting the plane.

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Wall Street Journal: Solar a “Mortal Threat” to Utilities

Picture: NASA (PD)

Peter Sinclair writes at Climate

Denial Crock of the Week:

Three weeks ago, I had my 5 minutes at a local “listening session” on energy, put on by the Governor of my fair state.

My main message was that a technological sea change is coming in energy production – and if regulatory and utility policy do not anticipate the further build out of wind, solar, and distributed energy, the transition is going to be ugly.  Traditional energy producers who think they can hold back the tide will be like typewriter makers trying to bad-mouth word processors. They are going to go away.

Last week had coffee last week with a well-informed friend, who agreed with me that this is an oncoming freight train. He pointed me to some new survey results from Ernst & Young.

Renewable Energy World:

We conducted a telephone survey of executives involved in corporate energy strategy at 100 companies with revenues of US$1 billion or more.

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Wind and Solar Power Paired With Storage Could Power the Grid 99.9 Percent of the Time

And it wouldn’t cost more money than our current system.  Via ScienceDaily:

Renewable energy could fully power a large electric grid 99.9 percent of the time by 2030 at costs comparable to today’s electricity expenses, according to new research by the University of Delaware and Delaware Technical Community College.

A well-designed combination of wind power, solar power and storage in batteries and fuel cells would nearly always exceed electricity demands while keeping costs low, the scientists found.

“These results break the conventional wisdom that renewable energy is too unreliable and expensive,” said co-author Willett Kempton, professor in the School of Marine Science and Policy in UD’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment. “The key is to get the right combination of electricity sources and storage — which we did by an exhaustive search — and to calculate costs correctly.”

The authors developed a computer model to consider 28 billion combinations of renewable energy sources and storage mechanisms, each tested over four years of historical hourly weather data and electricity demands.

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Tiny Pacific Island Becomes The First Completely Solar-Powered Nation

Think a completely renewable-energy-based society is a pipe dream? Tiny Tokelau will no longer rely on imported diesel, instead switching over to solar panels and coconut-based biofuel. Fiji, the Cook Islands, Samoa, and Tuvalu plan to follow suit in the next decade. Voice Of America reports:

The remote islands of Tokelau have become the first territory in the world to be powered by the sun, officials say. The move is expected to save money and ease the environmental burden of relying on imported fossil fuels.

“The Tokelau Renewable Energy Project is a world first. Tokelau’s three main atolls now have enough solar capacity, on average, to meet electricity needs,” said New Zealand’s foreign affairs minister Murray McCully in a statement. “Until now, Tokelau has been 100 percent dependent upon diesel for electricity generation, with heavy economic and environmental costs.”

The island nations of Samoa and Tuvalu are aiming to get all of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

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