Distributed Solar Power Lights the Future

Large solar power installations require a lot of space and a lot of approvals. As a reaction to this, smaller solar power installations have been approved and placed close to transmission centres. This is a more reliable and sustainable energy network than what existed before.

Over the past few weeks, some 1,300 megawatts’ worth of distributed solar deals and initiatives have been announced or approved. At peak output, that is the equivalent of a big nuclear power plant.

Two weeks ago in California, regulators authorized the utility Southern California Edison’s program to install 500 megawatts of solar on commercial rooftops. A few days later, they recommended that Pacific Gas and Electric, the dominant utility in Northern California, be given the green light for its own 500-megawatt initiative that aims to install ground-mounted photovoltaic arrays near electrical substations and urban areas.

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District said in January that it took only a week to sell out its 100-megawatt solar program, which offers developers the opportunity to build photovoltaic projects of up to five megawatts.

And last week, the New York Power Authority announced a program to install 100 megawatts of solar arrays around the state.

“All of this is a great indication that solar prices are continuing to get a lot cheaper and that results in scale,” said Adam Browning, executive director of Vote Solar, a San Francisco nonprofit that promotes renewable energy.

Keep on reading about distributed solar power.

Wind Power Shelters Sea Life

You read that right: wind power generation can shelter sea life. Offshore wind farms help create spaces that encourage sea life to grow in a similar fashion to coral reefs.

Offshore wind power and wave energy foundations can increase local abundances of fish and crabs. The reef-like constructions also favour for example blue mussels and barnacles. What’s more, it is possible to increase or decrease the abundance of various species by altering the structural design of foundation. This was shown by Dan Wilhelmsson of the Department of Zoology, Stockholm University, in a recently published dissertation.

“Hard surfaces are often hard currency in the ocean, and these foundations can function as artificial reefs. Rock boulders are often placed around the structures to prevent erosion (scouring) around these, and this strengthens the reef function,” says Dan Wilhelmsson.

Keep reading about offshore wind power at Science Daily.

World’s Largest Solar Powered Foot Bridge

Check out this groovy solar-powered foot bridge:

solar bridge

Read about it at Energy Matters or see more pictures at Ecofiend.

One of the other unique features of the bridge is how it is lit and powered. The bridge employs a sophisticated LED lighting scheme that can be programmed to produce an array of different lighting effects, which will become a feature of Brisbane’s annual Riverfire celebrations.

75 per cent of the power required to run the LED lighting in the fully lit mode is generated by solar energy, but in most lighting configurations, 100 per cent of the power will be provided by solar with any surplus electricity returned to the main grid. The 84 solar panels used on the bridge will have an average daily output of 100kWh and an average yearly output of 38MWh

Public Works Minister Robert Schwarten said the bridge’s grid connect solar power system will see savings of around 37.8 tonnes of carbon emissions each year.

Dow to Sell Solar Shingles

When I started Things Are Good many years ago I also wrote a short paper on creating a company based on selling shingles for roofs that have solar panels in them. I think DOW read my paper 😉 because next year they’ll be selling solar shingles.

$20 million invested in the company from the American government may equal up to $5 billion in revenue for Dow Chemical (best known for the horrible Bhopal disaster they committed) by 2015.

Reuters has some more on the product.

The new product is the latest advance in “Building Integrated Photovoltaic” (BIPV) systems, in which power-generating systems are built directly into the traditional materials used to construct buildings.

BIPV systems are currently limited mostly to roofing tiles, which operate at lower efficiencies than solar panels and have so far been too expensive to gain wide acceptance.

Dow’s shingle will be about 30 to 40 percent cheaper than current BIPV systems.

The Dow shingles can be installed in about 10 hours, compared with 22 to 30 hours for traditional solar panels, reducing the installation costs that make up more than 50 percent of total system prices.

The product will be rolled out in North America through partnerships with home builders such as Lennar Corp (LEN.N: Quote, Profile, Research) and Pulte Homes Inc (PHM.N: Quote, Profile, Research) before marketing is expanded, Palmieri said.

Dow received $20 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy to help develop its BIPV products.

Solar Tower Provides Plenty of Power

Solar power continues to prove to the world that the sustainable energy choice is a good and efficient source of electricity generation. Solar towers that rely on mirrors aimed at the tower to produce heat are a great way to spin a turbine to provide power for a lot of homes, I don’t understand why places with lots of sun and a lot of land don’t use more of these types of power plants. I’m looking at you Australia.

Read more about concentrated solar towers.

UBS Wealth Management, moreover, is predicting that the relatively small market for concentrated solar power tends to expand, with projected growth of almost 20 gigawatts in new capacity over the next decade. UBS analysts Gianrento Gamboni and Christoph Hugi, refers to the new projects in the United States and Spain as they say “After a long period of stagnation, the market is evolving more dynamically.”

What is a solar power tower?
One square kilometer of land holds the capacity – depending on the specifities of location – to generate as much as 100 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity per year through solar thermal technology. To make it clear, this amount is enough to run 50,000 residents.

One option to produce this energy is the solar power tower, which is a type of solar thermal plant that uses a tower to receive the sunlight, focused upon it via an array of flat, movable mirrors (ie. heliostats). These focused rays heats the water and the steam produced powers a turbine. As you see, no pollutants are emitted in producing the electricity.

Today liquid sodium is commonly used instead of water to store the energy during brief interruptions in sunlight or in night time.