Bigger Is Better for Wind Turbines

Source: Cleantechnica Scientists have concluded in a new study that, the larger the wind turbine, the greener the electricity it produces. The report appears in the American Chemical Society journal Environmental Science & Technology. Marloes Caduff and colleagues concluded that wind power is an increasingly popular source of electricity, providing almost 2 percent of global electricity worldwide, a figure that is expected to reach 10 percent by 2020. The size of turbines is also increasing One study recently showed that the average size of commercial turbines has grown 10-fold in the last 30 years, from diameters of 50 feet back in 1980 to nearly 500 feet today. Unsurprisingly, super-giant turbines approaching 1,000 feet in diameter are on the horizon, which pushed the authors into wanting to determine whether larger was better. Their study showed that bigger turbines do in fact produce greener electricity, for two primary reasons: Manufacturers now have the knowledge, experience, and the technology to build big wind turbines with great efficiency, minimizing the need for research and development. …

Have we reached a tipping point for solar powered buildings?

Source: Rejournals Due to advances in technology and improved manufacturing, the cost of solar technology, specifically solar photovoltaic panels, has declined dramatically over the last few years.  Coupled with available funding from federal, state and local utility company incentives, many industry experts believe we will see a growth in solar power for industrial buildings in the years ahead. Could we be nearing the tipping point between the initial cost and long-term utility savings for different types of solar systems for buildings?  The answer is found by investigating the return on investment that solar systems can provide.  In all cases, the return on investment depends on material and installation costs, current utility rates, future utility rates, overall consumption, tax depreciation, and incentives.  Historically, the time period required for solar power savings to offset initial material and installation costs could range anywhere from 10 to 20 years.  Today, with the proper incentives, solar installations are proven to pay for themselves in six years or less.  With this reduced payback timeframe, many owners …

Special solar cells produce electricity from underwater sunlight

Source: Gizmag Although solar cells are proving indispensable for powering things such as electronic sensors on dry land, sensors located underwater have typically had to rely on batteries, or electricity piped in from photovoltaic panels situated above the surface. That could be changing, however, as scientists from the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory have recently developed functioning underwater solar cells. Water absorbs much of the spectrum of sunlight – blue-green light is the last portion of the spectrum to be absorbed, and thus penetrates the farthest below the surface. Because traditional topside silicon solar cells are designed around the full solar spectrum, this leaves them little to work with when placed underwater. Continue Reading…

Last Weekend, Half of Germany Was Running on Solar Power

Source : TreeHugger Here’s how they did it, and how we can too This is what can happen when citizens and government agree that it’s worth spending a bit more for clean, carbon-free power: German solar power plants produced a world record 22 gigawatts of electricity – equal to 20 nuclear power stations at full capacity – through the midday hours of Friday and Saturday, the head of a renewable energy think tank has said … Norbert Allnoch, director of the Institute of the Renewable Energy Industry in Muenster, said the 22 gigawatts of solar power fed into the national grid on Saturday met nearly 50% of the nation’s midday electricity needs. That’s right—half of all of Germany was powered by electricity generated by solar plants. That’s incredible. It was also world record-breaking. Germany is pretty much singlehandedly proving that solar can be a major, reliable source of power—even in countries that aren’t all that sunny. To read on….

Solar Microgrids Bring Power To People Who Have Been Off The Grid Forever

Source: Fastcoexist Instead of waiting for the electric grid to slowly spread to every remote village, new standalone grids may be the best way to get electricity into every home–and to keep polluting and unhealthy kerosene fires away. A few electrons can go a long way. We have an insatiable appetite for new juice in industrialized economies: Energy use will likely double between 1990 and 2035, reports the Energy Information Administration. But in parts of the developing world, just getting any power to turn on the lights or charge a cell phone is the problem. Nearly one-fifth of the world will still be without electricity by 2030, while the number of “energy poor” stay virtually unchanged. That depressing statistic led to an idea that is bringing light and energy to rural villages once with neither. Solar microgrids are community-wide distributed power systems consisting of a few solar panels, batteries, wires, and poor yet paying customers. Whereas national power grids are monstrously complex and expensive, running into the trillions to build …

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