Monday, June 28, 2010

SunPower Sets Solar Cell Efficiency Record at 24.2%.

Published: June 24, 2010

California, United States -SunPower Corp. has produced a full-scale solar cell with a sunlight to electricity conversion efficiency of 24.2 percent at its manufacturing plant in the Philippines. This is a new world record for large area silicon wafers, and has been confirmed by the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL).

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

APEC wants continued development of renewable energy.

22 June 2010

Renewable energy technologies are declining in cost but continued efforts are required to further reduce this, according to energy ministers from the 21-country Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.

Solar, wind, geothermal and bioenergy for electricity, and biofuels for transport, are diversifying energy supply, and energy ministers urged “continued technology development efforts to further reduce their costs, standardise products, develop supply sources, and share best practices to accelerate their use in electricity generation, buildings and transport sectors.”

A declaration issued after their meeting in Fukui, Japan, directs APEC to “advance energy security, improve energy efficiency and increase the clean energy supply in the APEC region.”

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Australia can have 100% renewable energy in a decade.

23 June 2010

A combination of energy efficiency, fuel-switching and a combination of commercially-available renewable energy technologies could allow 100% of Australia’s energy needs to be met with renewable sources, according to a new report.

The Zero Carbon Australia 2020 Stationary Energy Plan was prepared by the environmental research group Beyond Zero Emissions. It was launched Tuesday at the Australian Parliament in Canberra.The plan outlines a “technically feasible and economically attractive way for Australia to transition to 100% renewable energy within 10 years,” with wind and concentrating solar thermal (CST) as the two primary technologies. Biomass and existing hydropower provide some backup.

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NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden under fire for potential conflict of interest on biofuel project

NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden under fire for potential conflict of interest on biofuel project -

Video: Up Close and Personal with Stirling Energy's CSP.

The Maricopa Solar project puts Stirling Energy Systems' SunCatcher to the test.

by Graham Jesmer, Video Producer
Published: June 21, 2010

Arizona, United States -- Just outside Phoenix, Arizona, sits a field of dishes reflecting the hot desert sun. Pulling up to the humming devices, installed by Stirling Energy Systems (SES) and Tessera Solar, the cars passing by on an adjacent road are dwarfed by their size.

This is the Maricopa Solar project, a 1.5-megawatt (MW) array of SunCatcher Systems (also known as the Stirling Dish Engine). In January NTR plc, which owns both SES and Tessera Solar, opened the plant after breaking ground just four months earlier.

Maricopa Solar is the first commercial project for the SunCatcher concentrating solar power (CSP) technology, which was designed and manufactured by SES. The SES SunCatcher is a 25-kilowatt solar power system that uses a 38-foot high, mirrored parabolic dish combined with an automatic tracking system to collect and focus the sun’s energy onto a Stirling engine to convert the solar thermal energy into grid quality electricity.

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

New Yeast Strain is Step Closer to Cellulosic Ethanol.

By David Bois | Tuesday, June 8, 2010 5:57 PM ET
Breakthrough yeast strain offers a move forward for efforts to make biofuels from a greater variety of non-food crops.

The promise of biofuels is genuine and sincere. Rather than taking carbon that's been fossilized for untold millions of years and sending it into our atmosphere the second we burn it, the manufacture and use of biofuels takes us much closer to greenhouse gas neutrality. Sure, the combustion of biofuels does produce carbon dioxide, but the plants from which the fuels are made remove carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere as they grow. Additionally, ethanol just so happens to burn cleaner as compared to petroleum based hydrocarbons.

Still, I know that I'm hardly alone in finding it more than a little perverse to divert perfectly good crops away from the food supply toward the manufacturing of ethanol. Corn and sugar cane are currently prized for the making of ethanol, as their sugars are easily accessible for conversion to fuel. Our best long term hopes are in the realm of cellulosic ethanol, made from more fibrous plant matter such as the stalks of the corn as well as such woodier, non-food plants as switchgrass. Switchgrass is particularly appealing due to it being a relatively low-effort crop which grows easily in a range of conditions, as well as to its high potential energy value.

So far, the challenges to cellulosic ethanol really taking off hinge on the effort (and by extension, the cost) required to get at the sugars that they contain. The additional effort required to make ethanol from fibrous plant material as compared to making it from corn pretty much doubles the cost. It's a stated goal of the federal government to make cellulosic ethanol much more cost-competitive, and ongoing research and development breakthroughs continue to bring these production costs down. And a just-announced finding by researchers at Indiana's Purdue University will no doubt help things along this path.

As PhysOrg has reported, an agricultural and bioengineering research team at Purdue has successfully genetically engineered a strain of yeast that is capable of converting the sugars contained in woodier plant materials such as corn stalks and switchgrass. An added and beneficial characteristic of the new strain of yeast is its resistance to acetic acid. Acetic acid is a common component of plant life and is given off along with the sugars, but it can hinder the fermentation activity that the yeast provides, slowing the conversion process and ultimately decreasing the yield of ethanol.

The Purdue team's research, currently published in the journal Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, is supported by funding from the US Department of Energy and will reportedly pursue even more improvements to the yeast's efficiency and resistance to chemical agents that slow the sugar-to-ethanol conversion process.

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Saturday, June 5, 2010

Giant Inflatable Airship Powered by Algae. AlternativeEnergy

June 1st, 2010

This summer, piloted by Captain Allan Judd, Bullet 580 will usher in the return of inflatable giant airships. The 235 ft long and 65ft diameter ship is covered with a type of Kevlar, a material 10 times-stronger than steel but only one sixteenth of an inch thick. An E-green design special costing £5.5million, this giant runs on algae – latest bio-fuel that can be developed from brackish and waste water.

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