Electric vehicles – It's not just about the car - "One of the key characteristics of complex systems, such as the world's energy and transport sectors, is that when they change it tends not to be a linear process. They flip from one state to another in a way strongly analogous to a phase change in material science... A second important characteristic of this type of economic phase change is that when one major sector flips, the results rip through the whole economy and can have impacts on the societal scale." (via) [more inside]
The case for optimism on climate change - "I'll finish with this story. When I was 13 years old, I heard that proposal by President Kennedy to land a person on the Moon and bring him back safely in 10 years. And I heard adults of that day and time say, 'That's reckless, expensive, may well fail.' But eight years and two months later, in the moment that Neil Armstrong set foot on the Moon, there was great cheer that went up in NASA's mission control in Houston. Here's a little-known fact about that: the average age of the systems engineers, the controllers in the room that day, was 26, which means, among other things, their age, when they heard that challenge, was 18." (via; previously) [more inside]
Tesla Powerwall Battery Economics: Almost There - "Elon Musk announced Tesla's home / business battery today. [video] tl;dr: It'll get enthusiastic early adopters to buy. The economics are almost there to make it cost effective for a wide market... That said, for large scale grid deployment (outside of the home), it still looks like flow batteries and advanced compressed air are likely to be far cheaper in the long run." [more inside]
UN Climate Report: We Must Focus On 'Decarbonization', and It Won't Wreck the Economy - "The basic message is simple: We share a planet. Let's start acting like it." [more inside]
Installed solar capacity is growing by leaps and bounds, led by Walmart and Apple, and helped by bonds backed by solar power payments,[*] which have sent industry stocks soaring, even as molten salt and new battery technologies come on line to generate storage for use when the sun doesn't shine. Of course we could always go to geostationary orbit -- or the moon -- as well we may (if politics allow it) as thirst from the developing world grows beyond the earth's carrying capacity. [more inside]
Cloud services that power email and other technologies we use each day are themselves massive energy consumers. Gigaom reporters have written a pair of in-depth articles about efforts by Amazon and Apple to build infrastructure and source their own energy.
In the year and a half since the earthquake and tsunami caused an industry-wide Japanese nuclear shutdown , Japanese consumers and businesses have been urged to conserve energy whenever possible. Although a few reactors are being brought back online temporarily, the Japanese government has pledged to move away from nuclear power sources. Yesterday the Japanese government announced what may be the world's highest solar photovolatic feed-in tariff at 53 cents per kWh generated. [more inside]
Earth Faces 12% Chance of "Catastrophic Solar Megastorm" by 2020 The last gigantic solar storm, known as the Carrington Event, occurred more than 150 years ago and was the most powerful such event in recorded history. [more inside]
Most of the talk about renewable energy is aimed at electricity production. However, most of the energy we need is heat, which solar panels and wind turbines cannot produce efficiently. To power industrial processes like the making of chemicals, the smelting of metals or the production of microchips, we need a renewable source of thermal energy. Direct use of solar energy can be the solution, and it creates the possibility to produce renewable energy plants using only renewable energy plants, paving the way for a truly sustainable industrial civilization. [more inside]
"A practical [inexpensive] artificial leaf has been one of the Holy Grails of science for decades. We believe we [Sun Catalytix] have done it." Video: Professor Daniel Nocera at MIT
Around one year ago we saw some of the recent events in solar power. At that time solar panels topped out at a peak efficiency of around 290W for a 1.99 x 0.99 meter 72-cell module, with a lone rare and expensive 315W module that was used to build team Germany's solar decathlon winning house. Since then prices have dropped a lot, and China is advancing in commodity tech. [more inside]
Get the Energy Sector off the Dole - Why ending all government subsidies for fuel production will lead to a cleaner energy future—and why Obama has a rare chance to make it happen.
For the second time in two years a team from Germany has won the US Department of Energy's Solar Decathalon. This year's entry was a cube shaped house entirely covered in 300W and 70W solar panels generating a peak of 11.1kW. The DoE has published a complete product directory of all the subsystems and components used to build each house. Another notable design is the Canadian Team North house designed for optimal solar+insulation performance in high latitude climates.
Pics of the new Tesla S-Model have been leaked. With an anticipated price tag of 50K and a potential 45-minute recharge time, will this finally kick-start a true replacement to the internal combustion engine? And if so, where will the electricity come from? What future is there for the fuel-cell vehicle, or will fuel cells remain stationary? Is that really it for hydrogen? [more inside]
Popular Science has named Nanosolar the #1 innovative product of the year. Finally, cheap and ubiquitous solar power has arrived, “You’re talking about printing rolls of the stuff—printing it on the roofs of 18-wheeler trailers, printing it on garages, printing it wherever you want it,” The only problem is demand, so they're building the world’s largest solar-panel manufacturing facility in San Jose. See 96 other innovations in PopSci's Best of 2007.
Google went solar yesterday! Google's PV solar system went live yesterday (or at least the stats page did.) Also, they converted 100 Priuses to plug-in electric vehicles, to be recharged by the PV solar panels. Pictures.
Mike Strizki lives in the nation's first solar-hydrogen house. "The technology this civil engineer has been able to string together – solar panels, a hydrogen fuel cell, storage tanks, and a piece of equipment called an electrolyzer – provides electricity to his home year-round, even on the cloudiest of winter days. Mr. Strizki's monthly utility bill is zero – he's off the power grid – and his system creates no carbon-dioxide emissions. Neither does the fuel-cell car parked in his garage, which runs off the hydrogen his system creates."
Cheap solar power poised to undercut oil and gas. The "tipping point" will arrive when the capital cost of solar power falls below $1 per watt, roughly the cost of carbon power.
CitizenRe is a solar power rental company for the home. Free to install (!), a monthly rental fee is equal to what would normally be paid to the power company. Video.
A kilometre-high solar tower, to be built in the Australian outback by EnviroMission Ltd, will become the world's tallest structure when completed in 2006. Designed by Jorg Schlaich of Schlaich Bergermann und Partner, the solar tower (or solar chimney) operates like a hydroelectric power plant, but uses hot air instead of water, and it could provide enough electricity for 200,000 homes. Time calls it one of the best inventions of 2002, and I think it's one of the most ingenious ideas I've ever heard. Another solar chimney project was planned in Rajasthan, India, but I haven't found any information on its current status.