Bay Area Company Unveils Energy Storage System


BatteryThis week the EnerVault company in Stanislaus County, California unveiled two large energy storage tanks that are a part of a flow battery, which stores energy from the area’s solar panel systems. The battery is the largest flow battery in the world, and could play a significant role in California’s quest to develop larger and more efficient methods of energy storage.

Flow batteries store energy in tanks of electrolytes, which means that the large tanks outside Turlock, California contain a fluid of water and minerals in which energy can be stored. That fluid is pumped through individual batteries when they require power.

Energy can be obtained from solar power plants and wind farms, but the output of those facilities can be quite variable according to weather and other conditions. If that energy could be collected and stored on a large scale, then those supply sources could be evened out and made more reliable. Officials and industry experts in California see energy storage as a in important element of the state’s goal to shift to use of more renewable energy, and this demand has resulted in a young but quickly growing energy storage industry in the Bay Area.

The tanks were unveiled to the public on Thursday, May 22 in a ceremony with state and federal officials in attendance.


New Solar Project In Colorado Exceeds Expectations


Solar FarmThe Comanche Solar Project is going to be supplying about 120 megawatts of energy to Xcel Energy’s portfolio of energy in the state. this large solar farm is exceeding the expectations of those in the industry, and it will be providing about 70% of the total energy that Xcel Energy will be producing.

In essence, this is the largest solar project east of the Rockies and it will give Xcel the chance to double its output in the region. With a project like this in the Rockies, companies will also be able to see how well the tracking technology works. The panels will follow the sun from when it is rising to when it is setting at night.

The solar panels will be built by Community Energy and the project will be able to power about 31,000 homes when it goes live. This is just another step in supporting energy production in the region with alternative energy.

(Solar) Rooftops of New York


shutterstock_139568855There are so many rooftops in the whole of the city of New York that there is plenty of space for solar energy. The installations are going up at an amazing rate, and some of them are extremely large. Jetro Cash and Carry has the largest solar panel installation in the city (and you’ve never heard of them.) However, if everyone used their rooftop space for solar panels, they would be able to get mostly off the grid very easily.

There are many companies that are competing for the work to install solar panels all over the city, and the Governor’s office is earmarking even more money for solar energy in the state. Even while California and Arizona have 80% of the solar panels in the US, New York’s investment program could bring it into competition with the western states.

This solar boom could help to quell energy supply fears in the Northeast.

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Finance Programs Offered By Solar Companies Makes Solar Systems More Affordable For Americans


shutterstock_126254933Solar City and Sungevity are providing financial programs for homeowners who want to enjoy the benefits of solar power but are unable to afford to pay for a solar electric system. Both companies have employed a prepaid system that allows homeowners to lease solar systems without having to pay enormous upfront costs.

The program is prepaid model that enables homeowners to pay a monthly rate only for the energy generation and consumption. The financing program has made it possible for more homeowners to afford a solar system. It has helped fuel the increase of solar photovoltaic installations across the country. Installations of solar systems have moved up from 5000 customers in 2003 to 83,000 in 2012.

This financing program is already popular in countries such as India, Zambia, Kenya, Tanzania. In these countries, solar energy is the most affordable option for homeowners to power their homes. This is as a result of the high cost of kerosene for lighting. For example, villagers in Kenya spend approximately 80 times more per kilowatt hour for kerosene lighting than what a US resident pays per kilowatt hour for electricity.

Austin Church Lights A Beacon of Hope For Businesses Considering Solar Energy


Church Goes SolarThe Saint David’s Episcopal Church in Austin is pioneering the way in urban solar power with a massive solar project. The church administrators are hoping to reduce its electricity costs that is fueled by a restaurant, coffee shop, bookstore, parking garage and preschool attached to the building.

The idea for the solar panel project came ten years ago but the low interest rates, government rebates caused members to grasp at the opportunity to go ahead with it. The initial project proposal consisted of 150 KW. However, it was rejected by Austin Energy as it was deemed to be too large.

The project was so huge, it would produce more energy than the church needed and posed a potential safety issues. The excess energy could result in equipment damage overtime as well as cutting off power from the building. As a result, the capacity of the proposal had to be reduced in order to gain approval.

If the solar system works for the church, it will be a beacon of hope for businesses and other interests that are considering solar energy.  Texas electricity rates have been so cheap the past several years that it has been difficult for solar energy projects to get funded in many cases.

Researchers Successfully Devise A Theory to Reduce the Cost Of Solar Cell Construction


Soalr ResearchElectronic engineering and chemistry researchers are on a mission to find alternate methods of increasing the amount of energy that photovoltaic devices absorb. This is in an effort to increase the amount of energy that solar panels absorb, as maximum absorption is crucial for them to be efficient. The research is being spearheaded by University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University researchers with support from the Department of Energy’s Office of Basic Science as well as other engineering and energy conservation organizations.

The researchers have being carrying out a series of experiments for over five years now to come up with a theory that will make solar cell construction cheaper and easier to manufacture. For this to be possible they had to find materials that exhibit great amounts of photovoltaic effects to transmit visible light as there are currently no known existing materials with these properties.

The research team sought to use their expertise in materials science to invent a new structure and measure its properties. In order to do this, they faced an enormous challenge to find materials that could keep their polar properties and at the same time absorb visible light.

The team theorized that they would need to physically produce specific perovskite crystals but failed several times to achieve this. After many failed attempts, they finally succeeded in combining, potassium niobate, barium nickel niobate and polar material. When compared to the materials currently used in thin film solar technology, these materials consist of relatively cheap non-toxic elements that are in great abundance.