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Economic potential of offshore wind energy showcased in Atlantic City, N.J.

October 9, 2014 in Environment, EV News, Greentech, Politics, Wind

Industry expects tipping point as construction starts in 2015

(6-17-14) Secretary Jewell and Governor Patrick Announce the Nation’s Largest Offshore Wind Energy Area Available for Commercial Development The Massachusetts Wind Energy Area is located approximately 12 miles offshore Massachusetts – from its northern boundary, the area extends 33 nautical miles southward and has an east/west extent of approximately 47 nautical miles. Photo courtesy of DOI

(6-17-14) Secretary Jewell and Governor Patrick Announce the Nation’s Largest Offshore Wind Energy Area Available for Commercial Development.
The Massachusetts Wind Energy Area is located approximately 12 miles offshore Massachusetts – from its northern boundary, the area extends 33 nautical miles southward and has an east/west extent of approximately 47 nautical miles.
Photo courtesy of DOI

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – Offshore wind energy projects off the coasts of Rhode Island and Massachusetts are aiming to start construction next year and bring an energy source familiar in Europe to the U.S. for the first time, company executives said this week in Atlantic City at the industry’s major annual conference.

“This is the year it happens,” said Jeff Grybowski, CEO of Deepwater Wind, developer of the Block Island Wind Farm off Rhode Island and three other projects. “We are nine months away from the installation of our first foundations.” Also forging ahead is the much-anticipated Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound, Massachusetts. “It’s an exciting time for the U.S. offshore wind industry,” said Dennis Duffy, Vice President of Regulatory Affairs for Energy Management Inc. (EMI), developer for Cape Wind. “Cape Wind is closing its financing this fall and looking forward to the start of construction.”

“We are going to put steel in the water in 2015,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). “By developing offshore wind power, we can create well-paying jobs, attract billions of dollars in private investment into our national economy and reduce carbon dioxide emissions for generations to come.”

While the U.S. offshore wind power industry is gaining momentum, many industry leaders recognize that to maintain it, Congress must provide policy stability by extending both the Production Tax Credit (primarily used by land-based projects) and the Investment Tax Credit (used by offshore and community wind developers) by the end of the year.

AWEA’s Kiernan emphasized this urgent need. “Congress must extend both these successful tax policies that have attracted up to $25 billion a year in new private investment to the U.S. economy. With these policies in place, wind power has been able to improve its technology and lower its costs by 58 percent over the last five years, saving consumers on their electric bills.”

AWEA’s 2014 Offshore WINDPOWER Conference & Exhibition brought over 600 attendees to Atlantic City this week, including government officials, private investors, members of the conservation community and others. Many said the industry is turning a corner with construction of more than one offshore wind project set to begin in 2015.

“It’s been encouraging to see so many people at this year’s conference,” said Fishermen’s Energy COO and General Counsel Paul Gallagher. “The quality of the speakers and panelists are exceptional. We are pleased to welcome everyone back to Atlantic City and we look forward to welcoming folks back when the Fishermen’s offshore wind project gets approved.” Gallagher introduced Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian, who expressed his enthusiasm for the potential of a growing offshore wind industry in the area.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell delivered the keynote address Tuesday morning, saying, “America’s offshore areas contain tremendous wind energy potential.”

“I am encouraged by the collaborative spirit and the thoughtful planning that has been the hallmark of our approach to ensure that development is realized in the right way and in the right places,” Jewell said. “Offshore wind is an exciting new frontier that will help keep America competitive and expand domestic energy production, all without increasing carbon pollution.”

“What an exciting year for offshore wind power,” said John Kostyack, executive director of the Wind Energy Foundation. “After many years of hard work by members of the offshore wind community and its friends and allies, projects are going into the water soon. Once people see it, they know it’s real; it’s part of everyday business. Everything changes from here on out.”

Developing offshore wind power is seen as an important tool not only to boost the U.S. economy and provide an abundant supply of fixed-price domestic energy, but also to benefit the environment by fighting pollution and helping to keep our air clean.

Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, joined U.S. Secretary Jewell in opening the conference. He emphasized this point, saying, “Developing Atlantic offshore wind is absolutely vital to protect our communities and wildlife from the worst impacts of global warming. I’m proud to stand with Sec. Jewell to support developing this critically needed new energy source in a way that protects wildlife and their habitats.”

The exhibition featured 40 exhibitors, including major manufacturers and developers, renewable energy experts from the state of Maryland, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and technical advisors from DNV GL

“We are excited to see the American offshore wind industry progress and we find the conference very useful for meeting our clients and partners,” said Johan Sandberg, Service Line Leader – Offshore Renewable Energy for DNV GL. “Offshore wind is a key industry for DNV GL as it is the one industry where our five legacy companies intersect after the merger between DNV, GL, KEMA, Garrad Hassan and Noble Denton. We feel a very strong responsibility to make this industry succeed and our recent pledge to help reduce offshore wind’s costs demonstrates this. We are committed to making offshore wind power an important part of the U.S. energy mix.”

Chairing the closing keynote session on Wednesday is the U.S. Department of Energy’s Senior Advisor for Offshore Wind Technologies, Gregory M. Matzat. The session will tackle the three offshore wind power projects for which the DOE has awarded seed funding: Dominion Virginia Power, Fisherman’s Energy, and Principle Power will each receive up to $50.6 million to complete their designs and construct projects off Virginia, New Jersey and Oregon.

“As a readily expandable, domestic source of clean, renewable energy, wind power is helping pave the way to a low-carbon future that protects our air and water while providing affordable, renewable electricity to American families and businesses,” said Jose Zayas, Director of the Energy Department’s Wind and Water Power Technologies Office.

“While land-based wind energy now contributes over 4.5 percent of the nation’s electricity, the offshore wind industry in the United States has also been steadily gaining momentum,” Zayas said. “Within the past year, the Energy Department has released a number of reports and tools to help industry and policymakers, announced a conditional commitment for a loan guarantee for Cape Wind, and announced the selection of the three advanced technology demonstration projects to continue to the next phase.”

The official sponsors of AWEA’s Offshore WINDPOWER Conference & Exhibition are DNV GL, GE Power & Water, Siemens, Alstom, Fishermen’s Energy, Rabobank, and UK Trade & Investment.

The event’s official partners are Maine Ocean & Wind Industry Initiative, Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, the National Wildlife Federation, the New England Clean Energy Council, the Sierra Club, the Southeastern Coastal Wind Coalition, and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

AWEA’s annual Offshore WINDPOWER Conference & Exhibition will be held next year in Baltimore, Maryland, September 29 – 30. Booth sales have just begun.

AWEA is the national trade association of the U.S. wind energy industry, with 1,000 member companies, including global leaders in wind power and energy development, wind turbine manufacturing, component and service suppliers, and the world’s largest wind power trade show, the AWEA WINDPOWER Conference & Exhibition, which takes place next in Orlando, FL, May 18-21, 2015. AWEA is the voice of wind energy in the U.S., promoting renewable energy to power a cleaner, stronger America. Look up information on wind energy at the AWEA website. Find insight on industry issues at AWEA’s blog Into the Wind. Join AWEA on Facebook. Follow AWEA on Twitter.

This article (10-8-14) is an EV News Report repost, credit: AWEA.

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Hybrid materials could smash the solar efficiency ceiling

October 9, 2014 in Environment, EV News, Greentech, Solar

A new method for transferring energy from organic to inorganic semiconductors could boost the efficiency of widely used inorganic solar cells.

Solar Efficiency When light is absorbed in pentacene, the generated singlet excitons rapidly undergo fission into paris of triplets that can be efficiently transfered onto inorganic nanocrystals.  Image credit: Maxim Tabachnyk (University of Cambridge)

Solar Efficiency
When light is absorbed in pentacene, the generated singlet excitons rapidly undergo fission into paris of triplets that can be efficiently transfered onto inorganic nanocrystals.
Image credit: Maxim Tabachnyk (University of Cambridge)

By University of Cambridge

Researchers have developed a new method for harvesting the energy carried by particles known as ‘dark’ spin-triplet excitons with close to 100% efficiency, clearing the way for hybrid solar cells which could far surpass current efficiency limits.

The team, from the University of Cambridge, have successfully harvested the energy of triplet excitons, an excited electron state whose energy in harvested in solar cells, and transferred it from organic to inorganic semiconductors. To date, this type of energy transfer had only been shown for spin-singlet excitons. The results are published in the journal Nature Materials.

In the natural world, excitons are a key part of photosynthesis: light photons are absorbed by pigments and generate excitons, which then carry the associated energy throughout the plant. The same process is at work in a solar cell.

In conventional semiconductors such as silicon, when one photon is absorbed it leads to the formation of one free electron that can be extracted as current. However, in pentacene, a type of organic semiconductor, the absorption of a photon leads to the formation of two electrons. But these electrons are not free and they are difficult to pin down, as they are bound up within ‘dark’ triplet exciton states.

Excitons come in two ‘flavours’: spin-singlet and spin-triplet. Spin-singlet excitons are ‘bright’ and their energy is relatively straightforward to harvest in solar cells. Triplet-spin excitons, in contrast, are ‘dark’, and the way in which the electrons spin makes it difficult to harvest the energy they carry.

“The key to making a better solar cell is to be able to extract the electrons from these dark triplet excitons,” said Maxim Tabachnyk of the University’s Cavendish Laboratory, the paper’s lead author. “If we can combine materials like pentacene with conventional semiconductors like silicon, it would allow us to break through the fundamental ceiling on the efficiency of solar cells.”

Using state-of-art femtosecond laser spectroscopy techniques, the team discovered that triplet excitons could be transferred directly into inorganic semiconductors, with a transfer efficiency of more than 95%. Once transferred to the inorganic material, the electrons from the triplets can be easily extracted.

“Combining the advantages of organic semiconductors, which are low cost and easily processable, with highly efficient inorganic semiconductors, could enable us to further push the efficiency of inorganic solar cells, like those made of silicon,” said Dr Akshay Rao, who lead the team behind the work.

The team is now investigating how the discovered energy transfer of spin-triplet excitons can be extended to other organic/inorganic systems and are developing a cheap organic coating that could be used to boost the power conversion efficiency of silicon solar cells.

The work at Cambridge forms part of a broader initiative to harness high tech knowledge in the physical sciences to tackle global challenges such as climate change and renewable energy. This initiative is backed by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Winton Programme for the Physics of Sustainability.

This article is an EV News Report repost, credit: University of Cambridge.

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SF Event to be 100% Powered by Renewable Microgrid

October 8, 2014 in Battery Energy Storage, Environment, EV News, Greentech, San Francisco, Sustainable San Francisco

VERGE San Francisco to be powered by renewable microgrid Photo courtesy of GreenBiz Group

VERGE San Francisco to be powered by renewable microgrid
Photo courtesy of GreenBiz Group

Four-day VERGE SF event powered by mix of renewable fuels and storage

OAKLAND, Calif. – VERGE San Francisco, a four-day conference focusing on the intersection of technology and sustainability, will be powered by a fully functional, replicable, renewably-powered microgrid, demonstrating the power of distributed energy solutions on the market today.

VERGE SF, October 27-30, is the flagship of a global event series produced by GreenBiz Group. The event focuses on how technology accelerates sustainability solutions across industries and cities in a climate-constrained world.

The microgrid, constructed in less than one day to power the four-day-long event, will feature battery storage and power generation from solar and biomass gasification. It models resilience, interoperability, radical efficiency and other key VERGE themes.

“We’re extremely excited to be deploying the Interconnect microgrid with leading partners such as ALL Power Labs and Stem at VERGE SF.

This year, Spirae is deploying our next gen platform to manage the 100% renewable microgrid system that will power the entire conference,” said Sunil Cherian, Founder and CEO of Spirae.

“The VERGE microgrid uses a system and resources that are already in operation around the world. We are showing that these are not fringe technologies of the future, but proven solutions that are reliable, scalable and economically viable today. The VERGE microgrid shows the future is now.” In addition to powering the live event, the microgrid will be the backbone of VERGE Interconnect, an interactive vendor and technology exhibition that demonstrates energy efficiency and distributed energy systems in action.

Interactive displays in VERGE Interconnect will include EV charging, a popup parklet, a solar array, a “Food Tech Snack-down,” 3D printers, drones and virtual reality tools. The nearly 100 sessions in the VERGE SF program focus on distributed energy systems, next-gen buildings, sustainable mobility, food and water systems, smarter supply chains and resilient cities.

Featured speakers from the more than 200 confirmed to participate include Lisa Jackson of Apple, Chris Anderson of 3D Robotics, Joe Gebbia of Airbnb, John Lauckner of GM, Robb Fraley of Monsanto, author and entrepreneur Paul Hawken, biomimicry guru Janine Benyus and senior executives from Autodesk, Facebook, HP, Ford, GE, SDG&E, Google, IBM, Southern California Edison, Microsoft, NRG Energy, Jones Lang LaSalle, Yahoo!, PG&E, Volvo, Boeing, Qualcomm, Kaiser Permanente, PepsiCo and Walmart. Public-sector speakers represent the cities of Los Angeles, Atlanta, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, San Francisco; the state of California, the federal Department of Energy, General Services Administration, NOAA and the White House. For more information about VERGE San Francisco, visit


GreenBiz Group’s mission is to define and accelerate the business of sustainability. It does this through a wide range of products and services, including its acclaimed website and e-newsletters, GreenBuzz and VERGE; webcasts on topics of importance to sustainability and energy executives; research reports, including the annual State of Green Business; the GreenBiz Executive Network, a membership-based, peer-to-peer learning forum for sustainability executives; and conferences: GreenBiz Forum and VERGE.

This article is an EV News Report repost, credit: GreenBiz Group.

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SolarCity Introduces MyPower, a First-of-its-Kind Solar Loan Paid Back by the Sun

October 8, 2014 in Environment, EV News, Greentech, Solar

SolarCity Introduces MyPower, a First-of-its-Kind Solar Loan Photo courtesy of SolarCity

SolarCity Introduces MyPower, a First-of-its-Kind Solar Loan
Photo courtesy of SolarCity

Solar installation at no additional cost and immediate utility savings just like a standard Power Purchase Agreement, but now you own it

SAN MATEO, Calif.SolarCity (Nasdaq: SCTY) introduced MyPower today (10-7-14), a first-of-its kind solar financing option that combines the low upfront cost and immediate utility savings of a power purchase agreement (PPA) with the benefits of ownership. SolarCity customers pay for their MyPower solar loan similar to the way they pay for a solar PPA—based on the energy the system produces from the sun—but they retain ownership of the solar panels.

MyPower’s unique structure creates America’s most affordable solar loan—with a lower cost than PPAs in many locations.

MyPower can allow customers to pay as much as 40 percent less for solar power than utility power, and unlike other loans, MyPower allows customers to prepay their entire balance or prepay a portion of their solar loan to lower their monthly payments at any time, with no fees or penalties.

SolarCity has become America’s #1 residential solar service provider—the company installed more residential solar in the second quarter of 2014 than its next 50 competitors combined [1]—by providing solar electricity directly to homeowners for less than they pay for electricity from utilities. Now SolarCity is lowering the cost of solar electricity even further by leveraging its scale and low cost of capital to act as a direct lender to its customers through its subsidiary, SolarCity Finance Company. MyPower customers can enjoy a fixed annual percentage rate as low as 4.5 percent for 30 years. Due to its potential to lower the cost of solar electricity, SolarCity ultimately expects MyPower to expand the addressable market for solar power to areas of the United States that have traditionally seen very little adoption.

While most solar loans are provided by third-party banks and municipalities in partnership with solar manufacturers and regional installers, SolarCity has created the industry’s best financing terms by lending directly to customers as part of its full-service model.  Some competitor products place a lien on the customer’s home and involve an onerous approval process. MyPower places no lien on the home—making it easier to transfer in a sale—and it only has a minimum credit score requirement of 680.

As with all of SolarCity’s solar financing options, MyPower will include the industry’s best service package. MyPower customers will enjoy a 30-year warranty, production guarantee, and monitoring service package. SolarCity backs up its agreements with the largest in-house service footprint in the industry—its 52 operations centers serve 15 states.

Starting today, SolarCity will offer MyPower to customers in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey, and ultimately plans to expand the product beyond its existing service territory.  Homeowners interested in MyPower can contact SolarCity directly at 1-888-SOL-CITY (1-888-765-2489) for a free, no-obligation solar consultation or visit the company online.

[1] Source: GTM Research Q3 2014 PV Leaderboard

About SolarCity
SolarCity® (NASDAQ: SCTY) provides clean energy. The company has disrupted the century-old energy industry by providing renewable electricity directly to homeowners, businesses and government organizations for less than they spend on utility bills. SolarCity gives customers control of their energy costs to protect them from rising rates. The company makes solar energy easy by taking care of everything from design and permitting to monitoring and maintenance. SolarCity currently serves 15 states and signs up a new customer every minute of the work day. Visit the company online at and follow the company on Facebook & Twitter.

This article (10-7-14) is an EV News Report repost, credit: SolarCity.

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Europe’s Largest and First Commercial Battery Power Plant

October 7, 2014 in Battery Energy Storage, Environment, EV News, Greentech, Large Energy Storage

Europe’s largest commercial battery power plant was connected to the grid today (9-16-14) in the presence of Vice-Chancellor and Energy Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania’s Minister-President Erwin Sellering.

The 5 megawatt lithium-ion unit was designed by the Berlin-based grid and storage specialists Younicos for WEMAG, a supplier of green electricity based in the northern German city of Schwerin. The commissioning of the fully automated unit marks the first time in Europe that a stand-alone battery is stabilizing fluctuations in grid frequency, thus helping to safely integrate wind and solar energy into the existing grid.

“The first commercial battery storage system on this scale is an important step towards a successful energy transition,” said Federal Minister Sigmar Gabriel at the opening ceremony. “Batteries are especially well suited to providing control power to stabilize grid frequency. In combination with wind and solar generation, this can ensure the future stability of the power system. WEMAG’s battery power plant is a good example of the commitment of municipal utilities to the energy transition, which can inspire similar projects in other parts of Germany.”

“Up to now the power grid has been largely stabilized by inflexible coal-fired power plants, which can only use a fraction of their output for control power. This blocks space in the grid, increasingly forcing wind and solar generation to be taken offline,” explained Clemens Triebel, CTO of Younicos. “Our battery park avoids this economic impact because it is much faster and more precise than a thermal power station. Thus, our 5 megawatt battery in Schwerin provides the same control power as a conventional 50 megawatt turbine,” the Younicos co-founder added.

“In the WEMAG grid area, more than 80 percent of the power consumed already comes from wind and solar generation – making us a front runner in renewable energy. We therefore feel committed to bringing to market new, more efficient solutions for the energy transition,” adds Thomas Pätzold, CTO of WEMAG AG. “Our battery storage unit shows the way forward: it is the best technical solution for smoothing naturally intermittent renewable feed-in, and it is also commercially very attractive.” In addition to receiving initial development funding of 1.3 million Euros from the innovation program of the Federal Environment Ministry, the unit will earn its keep by competing in the primary frequency regulation market. “In the future, the battery will also provide other system services, such as reactive power and black start capability, thus offering further economic advantages,” Pätzold continued.

Ewald Woste, Chairman of WEMAG AG and CEO of Thüga AG, added: “With this battery power plant, WEMAG is making a significant contribution to the development of storage technology. We are demonstrating that intelligent short-term storage is already a commercially attractive investment both for individual companies and for the economy as a whole.”

Younicos designed and built the turnkey storage unit in 12 months. Housed in a hall the size of a school gym, 25,600 lithium-manganese oxide cells can store and discharge power in milliseconds. Cell supplier Samsung SDI guarantees the performance of the battery power plant for 20 years. Five medium-voltage transformers, each weighing four tons, connect the battery to both the regional distribution and the 380kV high-voltage grids.

Michael Sterner, Professor for Energy Storage at OTH Regensburg added: “From a scientific perspective it is clear that battery power plants can make major technical contributions to system stability. With battery prices falling sharply, their use reduces costs and thus makes macroeconomic sense. In a recent study of storage that I led for the think tank “Agora energy transition,” we suggested making technology open to ensure existing and future flexibility, and thus giving storage a fair chance by removing barriers.”

About Younicos

Younicos makes grids and storage intelligent – and thus fit for more renewable energy. Our solutions enable grid operators to shut down their conventional generators when enough wind and solar power are available. Because Younicos’ control and energy management software optimizes usage, availability and Battery life, leading cell manufacturers provide 20-year performance guarantees on our systems.

This article (9-16-14) is an EV News Report repost, credit: Younicos.