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Category: Energy News

Tax on Large Scale Sun Collection

Last week Riverside county voted to impose an annual fee on large, utility scale solar installations. The board of supervisors unanimously voted in favor of a “Sun Tax” that will charge large scale solar installations an annual fee for every acre used for solar collection. With the property tax brakes already given to any scale [...]

Savi's Pipistrelle bat killed at "Vjetroelektrana Ravna 1" wind farm in Pag, Croatia. Image by Ana Jancar.

Mass Bird Kill at Laurel Mountain Wind Farm Highlights Wind Energy Impact

Wind turbines are considered a green energy source but it seems oversights are creating a decidedly negative environmental outcome. More than 500 bird deaths occurred in a single incident at the AES Laurel Mountain wind farm near Elkins, West Virginia, USA. It is believed this was caused by lights being left on at a power [...]

Nellis Solar Power Plant 14-MW in Nevada, USA. Image by US DOE.

Desert Solar Energy Zones to Minimize Environmental & Cultural Impact of Solar Farms

In order to fast track utility scale solar power generation the US government is creating Solar Energy Zones (SEZ) where environmental and cultural impact of development can be minimized. These areas are also locations where electrical transmission and infrastructure development won’t be cost prohibitive to solar farms. SEZs are part of the Programmatic Environmental Impact [...]

Map of geothermal energy potential in USA. Image by Google & SMU.

Study Finds Major Geothermal Energy Potential in US

Recently research into the geothermal energy potential within the United States was undertaken by scientists from Southern Methodist University with funding from Google.org. Their report suggests that close to three million megawatts of electricity could be generated using Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) and Low Temperature Hydrothermal (LTH). Arriving at this number required sourcing geothermal data [...]

Solar Millennium Sells 2.25 GW Concentrating Solar Power Portfolio to Solarhybrid

Solar Millennium AG sells off its 2.25 GW Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) portfolio in American Southwest to Solarhybrid AG which will construct solar photovoltaic (PV) plants at the sites. According to Solar Millennium the conversion of projects to PV is a great step to achieve a “significant profit-share” and an opportunity to reimburse its entire [...]

Official seal of the United States Department of Energy.

US DOE Attempts to Block Evergreen Solar Patents Sale

Massachusetts based Evergreen Solar Inc filed for bankruptcy and its assets will soon be up for auction to the highest bidder. However, the United States Department of Energy is moving to prevent the sale of a particular patent held by Evergreen Solar. Researchers at the bankrupt solar company developed a patented method of manufacturing solar [...]

Europe Won’t Meet 20% Renewable Energy by 2020 Goal

At the Spring European Council in Brussels, 2007 governments from across Europe agreed to set a binding target of obtaining 20% of their energy from renewable sources by 2020. At the time only 6.5% of energy was being sourced from renewables. However it seems European countries will not be able to meet this goal due [...]

Nesjavellir Geothermal Power Plant in Þingvellir, Iceland.

New Geothermal Tech Addition Could Produce Lithium

It’s possible that geothermal power plants may be useful for generating more than just electricity. Technology company Simbol Materials is developing an industrial add-on for geothermal facilities that can produce lithium from brine (the mixture of water and various elements used by geothermal stations). This new advance could result in an economically feasible source of [...]

Proposed Kanasas Wind Farm Would be State Largest

Today it was announced that BP Wind Energy would be building the largest wind farm in Kansas state. Project Flat Ridge 2 will be a facility boasting 419 MW capacity and covering 66,000 acres which is expected to be operational by the end of 2012. “I love wind energy,” said governor Sam Brownback, “It’s a [...]

Ethanol plant in Turner County, SD, USA. Image by Jon Platek.

NRC Report Claims Federal Biofuel Mandate is Flawed

The US National Research Council released a report suggesting that federal biofuel mandate RSF2 is infeasible barring new technology progress. RSF2 is part of the Renewable Fuel Standard which was enacted by Congress as part of the Energy Policy Act. The mandate outlines the consumption volume of renewable fuels and would require 15 billion gallons [...]

Airbus A320 Makes First Commercial Flight on Biofuel in Spain

Today an Airbus A320 flew from Madrid to Barcelona, Spain using a partial biofuel and conventional jet fuel mixture. This made it the first commercial flight in Spain to be powered by biofuels and showed that these alternative fuel sources are viable for the airline industry. Energy company Repsol supplied the new experimental fuel to [...]

PlanetSolar in Hamburg, Germany.

PlanetSolar Continues Attempt at First Solar Powered Cirumnavigation of Globe

Starting on September 27th, 2010 the PlanetSolar project’s solar powered boat is embarked on its attempt to circle the Earth and set a record for first solar powered vehicle to do so. Currently the vessel has been at sea for over a year with an overall goal of 18 months to complete the trip. Starting [...]

University of Maryland Wins Solar Decathlon

This year’s Department of Energy sponsored Solar Decathlon 2011 winner was the team from University of Maryland with their WaterShed home. Design of the home focused on four guiding principles which were; water is a precious resource and should be handled as such, homes should function as micro-ecosystems, sustainable homes should conserve and produce resources, [...]

DOE Greenlights $4.8 Billion in Solar Loan Guarantees

Friday marked the end of the beleaguered Department of Energy 1705 loan guarantee program. Section 1705 of the EPAct was a temporary program designed to assist renewable energy, power transmission, and biofuel projects. The program had been under scrutiny after lending to the Solyndra solar corporation which is currently under investigation for declaring bankruptcy just [...]

Nellis Solar Power Plant 14-MW in Nevada, USA. Image by US DOE.

First Solar Selected For 130 MW California Solar Farm

Tenaska Inc. has selected First Solar to provide services and photovoltaic cells for an upcoming 130 Megawatt solar farm located in Southern California. First Solar will be responsible for procurement, construction, and engineering of the new Imperial Solar Energy Center South facility. Energy produced by the solar power station will be sold under a 25 [...]

Nesjavellir Geothermal Power Plant in Þingvellir, Iceland.

Ormat Technologies Secures $350m DOE Partial Guarantee Loan

Geothermal power company Ormat Technologies secured a Department of Energy partial guarantee loan totaling $350m to build an additional 113 megawatts of geothermal power in Nevada. The DOE finalized three loans on Friday which went to wind, biofuel, and geothermal energy projects across the US. Ormat’s project will increase Nevada’s geothermal capacity by almost 25% [...]

Rooftop solar panels installed at Googleplex.

Google Investing More in Solar Tech

Search engine giant Google is expanding further into the solar industry by funding rooftop solar companies. Financing company Clean Power Finance will be receiving $75 million from Google to allow solar installers to receive cheap financing. Ultimately the goal of this funding is to allow homeowners to install solar panels with low upfront cost. When [...]

Polymer photovoltaic cell making use of transparent conducting polymers.

Copper Nanowires May Offer Solar Cost Solution

Research by chemists at Duke University may hold key to lowering cost of photovoltaic cells in the form of copper nanowires. Copper atoms are organized to form long, thin nanowires that can be used to create a transparent conductive film which is then coated over plastic or glass. While conductive transparent films are nothing new [...]

Medium size wind turbine blades. Image by Alexh.

Canada On Track for Record Wind Power Growth in 2011

Projections show that around 1,338 MW of newly installed wind energy will come online in 2011 crushing the current record of 950 MW set in 2009. New wind power capacity in Canada will also nearly double last year’s installation of 690 MW bringing the total installed wind power capacity in Canada to 5,300 MW or [...]

Official seal of the United States Department of Energy.

Solar Loans Deadlocked by Solyndra Investigation

Aftermath from the Solyndra solar company bankruptcy is continuing to affect the solar industry at large. On Friday solar panel installer SolarCity was unable to acquire a $275 million loan guaranteed by the Department of Energy. The DOE blamed additional paperwork resulting from the investigation into the 1705 loan guarantee program. Just days after securing [...]

Overhead view of the 2011 Solar Decathlon homes.

Solar Decathlon 2011 Begins

Today marked the start of the 10 day long biannual U.S. Department of Energy sponsored Solar Decathlon. Held in Washington D.C. the decathlon challenges teams of competitors to design, build, and showcase solar powered homes that are cost effective, efficient, and aesthetically pleasing. The event is open to teams from universities around the world making [...]

Polycrystalline solar wafer. Image by Georg Slickers.

First Solar Bets on Efficiency Increases

Solar manufacturer First Solar plans on implementing improvements to its mass produced solar cells to increase efficiency from 11.7% to as high as 14.5%. These improvements are intended to keep the companies thin film solar cell technology competitive with increasingly cheaper Chinese polysilicone solar cells. While still boasting the lowest cost per watt First Solar’s [...]

Solyndra Officers Plead Fifth, Refuse to Testify

Executive officers of recently beleaguered Solyndra Inc. will be invoking their fifth amendment rights to avoid testifying at Friday’s hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s investigative subcommittee according to their attorneys. “I have advised Mr. Harrison that he should decline to answer questions put to him by this subcommittee based on his rights [...]

Thin film flexible solar photovolatics. Image by Fieldsken Ken Fields.

U.S. Photovoltaic Installations Jump in Q2 2011

Report from GTM Research and SEIA shows that U.S. solar photovoltaic installations outpaced the global market with demand growing 69% annually. In total installed photovoltaic capacity was increased by 314 megawatts an increase of 17% since Q1 of 2011. Current rates of photovoltaic growth will see a 1,750 megawatt increase in 2011 which is more [...]

Intel Demonstrates: Near-Threshold Voltage Solar Powered Processor

Intel revealed a new experimental solar powered CPU codenamed Claremont based on the old Pentium core. Typically transistors used in a CPU operate at 1 volt while the Claremont requires around half of that. This reduction in voltage requirements means that the processor can run on only a few milliwatts of power. Dubbed Near-Threshold Voltage [...]

Factory in China on Yangtze River.

Pollution Shutters Chinese Photovoltaics Factory

Vehicles were overturned and windows smashed during protests at a JinkoSolar Holding Company factory before police dispersed a mob consisting of hundreds of protesters. Some protesters even managed to gain access to the factory pillaging offices. More than 20 protesters were detained for charges ranging from public disorder to vandalism. In addition to protesters three [...]

Nellis Solar Power Plant 14-MW in Nevada, USA. Image by US DOE.

Germany Tops Renewable Energy Record

BDEW, Germany’s Association of Energy and Water Industries, has reported that more than 20% of electricity generated in the country was supplied by renewable energy sources for the first half of 2011. Germany reached this goal through a combination of wind, biomass, solar, and hydro power plants. BDEW’s report shows that one of the largest [...]

Solar-crop

Sempra’s Copper Mountain now largest NA photovoltaic plant

Boulder City, Nevada, USA – Today marked the start of operation for Sempra’s Copper Mountain solar facility making it the largest operating photovoltaic plant in North America at 55-MW. This is a major increase over the previous holder of that title which was Florida Power & Light’s 28-MW plant in Arcadia, FL. Construction was completed [...]

British Petroleum (BP) oil spill spreading through Gulf of Mexico

It seems that an explosion on the off shore oil rig Deepwater Horizon that was previously thought to be leaking oil at around 1,000 gallons a day is actually closer to 5,000 gallons a day. Apparently there was a rather large and complex safety mechanism that should have shut down the oil leak but it [...]

Tesla Motors gets $465 million for electric sedan

The Tesla Motors company, most famous for their electric sport car, has received $465 million to fund a manufacturing plant in Southern California that will be used to produce the “Model S” electric sedan. This could mark the first steps in a truly affordable consumer electric car. I’ve always believed that Tesla Motors would be [...]