2019/08/16: In July, the French daily newspaper Le Monde reported that the 0.6-mile (1 kilometre) solar road was a fiasco.
In December 2016, when the trial road was unveiled, the French Ministry of the Environment called it "unprecedented". French officials said the road, made of photovoltaic panels, would generate electricity to power streetlights in Tourouvre, a local town.
But less than three years later, a report published by Global Construction Review says France's road dream may be over. Cracks have appeared, and in 2018, part of the road had to be demolished due to damage from wear and tear.
Even at its peak, the road was only producing half of the expected energy, because engineers didn't take into consideration rotting leaves falling on the road. They also didn't think about the pressure and weight from tractors, two locals told Le Monde.
MArket uptake of an innovative irrigation Solution based on LOW WATer-ENergy consumption.: The project received almost €4 million of Horizon 2020 funding to develop an innovative technology for irrigation that greatly cuts operating cost and water consumption. This new solution has been transferred to 27 European SMEs, which are currently commercialising and installing the systems for farmers!
The world of irrigation requires innovative solutions, less water and energy dependant. UPM developed in 2013 solutions for large power photovoltaic (PV) pumping systems at TRL5 that was successfully tested in a real Irrigators Community (IC) of Alto Vinalopó (Spain). The results showed great technical reliability (solving the problem of the variability of solar energy), matching the IC irrigation needs just with the solar electricity (thanks to sun-tracking systems) and reducing dramatically the cost of energy (60% regarding the conventional grid consumption) In parallel, ELAIA has integrated systems with, in one hand, automatisms and ICT solutions that reduce the water consumption (30%) detecting in real-time the actual needs of the specific crop in a certain moment, and in the other hand, low pressure systems that reduce the energy needs This project proposes activities to integrate both developments at a TRL9 for the first application and market replication of a new green product at TRL9 consisting of PV pumping systems for productive agriculture irrigation consuming zero conventional electricity and 30% less water
2018/06/04: Adding plants to solar farms offers all kinds of benefits to the facilities’ primary aim of reducing carbon emissions and expanding renewable energy. “Solar development is happening on a massive scale as lands are being converted from agricultural land or unused land into solar projects,” says Jordan Macknick, energy-water-land lead analyst with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), which funds research on the impact of native and crop plants grown in solar farms. “That represents an amazing opportunity to improve our agriculture and improve our food security while developing energy at the same time.”
Adding plants to solar farms offers all kinds of benefits to the facilities’ primary aim of reducing carbon emissions and expanding renewable energy. And native and crop vegetation can help improve the health of pollinators, which are threatened by habitat loss, pesticide poisoning, poor nutrition, disease, decreased genetic diversity and a host of other factors. As a result, managed honeybee colonies used for honey production declined from 5.7 million in the 1940s to around 2.7 million today. Pollinators have an enormous impact on the economy, too, by annually contributing US$24 billion to the nation’s economy.
2018-10-04: Research published today suggests that the power available from wind is much more limited than many experts thought, and that deployment on a larger scale could significantly raise temperatures over the Earth’s surface, as turbines alter atmospheric flows. The research highlights a painful but not altogether surprising reality: Even the cleanest renewable technologies come with environmental costs.
Research found that wind plants encompassing the largest areas had the lowest power densities, as expected. This figure implies that meeting current U.S. electricity needs alone would require wind farms to cover fully 12 percent of the U.S. land area. Wind power has physical limitations.
Miller and Keith found something even more surprising in another study that looked at a related question: What should we expect the climate impact of significant wind energy generation to be? Removing energy from atmospheric winds means those winds carry less energy afterward, moving more slowly, among other things.
simulations revealed that interactions of the turbines with the atmosphere would likely lead to a redistribution of heat in the lower atmosphere, resulting in a 0.54 degrees Celsius (0.97 degrees Fahrenheit) warming within the wind farms’ region itself, and an increase of 0.24 degrees Celsius (0.43 degrees Fahrenheit) over the continental U.S. This result, they note, actually matches up pretty well with recent satellite observations of local warming around wind farms operating in California, Illinois, Iowa and Texas. They also found that an expansive wind farm would need to operate for more than a century or so before the reduction of global carbon dioxide emissions would offset the local warming effect.
Miller and Keith also looked at U.S. solar farms, finding an achieved energy density about 10 times higher than for wind farms. Solar arrays in their study also led to much less local warming. There may be a good reason to shift future investments toward solar energy, as some big investors are doing already.
2018/09/27: scientists trying to improve the solar cells themselves developed an integrated battery that works in three different ways. It can work like a normal solar cell by converting sunlight to electricity immediately, explains study author Song Jin, a chemist at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. It can store the solar energy, or it can simply be charged like a normal battery. It's a combination of two existing technologies: solar cells that harvest light, and a so-called flow battery.
The most commonly used batteries, lithium-ion, store energy in solid materials, like various metals. Flow batteries, on the other hand, store energy in external liquid tanks. This means they are very easy to scale for large projects. Scaling up all the components of a lithium-ion battery might throw off the engineering, but for flow batteries, "you just make the tank bigger," says Timothy Cook, a University at Buffalo chemist and flow battery expert not involved in the study. "You really simplify how to make the battery grow in capacity," he adds. "We're not making flow batteries to power a cell phone, we're thinking about buildings or industrial sites.
2014/11/14: As the world seeks cleaner power, solar energy capacity has increased sixfold in the past five years. Yet manufacturing all those solar panels, a Tuesday report shows, can have environmental downsides.
Ben Santarris, strategic affairs director for SolarWorld, said his company has made efforts to recycle panels, but the volume isn't there yet. "We have product that's still performing to standard from 1978, so we don't have a big stream," he said. "It is a problem, because on one hand there is an interest in getting ahead of a swelling stream of returning panels. On the other hand, there's not a big market for it right now."
Recycling is particularly important because of the materials used to make panels, said Dustin Mulvaney, an assistant professor of environmental studies at San José State University who serves as a scientific adviser to SVTC. "It would be difficult to find a PV module that does not use at least one rare or precious metal," he said, "because they all have at least silver, tellurium, or indium."
Because recycling is limited, Mulvaney said, those recoverable metals could go to waste: "Companies that are reporting on a quarterly basis, surviving on razor-thin margins—they're not thinking 20, 30 years down the road, where the scarcity issue might actually enter the conversation."
2013/09/13: The world will have to slash greenhouse gas emissions in half in the next 11 years, and then slash emissions in half again in each subsequent decade just to have a shot at avoiding 2 degrees Celsius of warming.
To do it, we’ll need to double our efforts every decade. In other words, we need more than rapid change; we need exponential change.
The good news: we are already seeing that exponential growth in wind and solar installations.
The Peak Oil story got some things right. Back in 1998, Colin Campbell and Jean Laherrère wrote an article published in Scientific American called, "The End of Cheap Oil." In it they said: Our analysis of the discovery and production of oil fields around the world suggests that within the next decade, the supply of conventional oil
According to a recent, comprehensive study of the scientific literature (1), the average energy return on energy invested (E...
Druid perspectives on nature, culture, and the future of industrial society
ON THE desk of Chris Case, chief technology officer of Oxford Photovoltaics, there sits a small but heavy vial filled with a canary-yellow liquid. "That's enough for a kilowatt," he says.
It's generally assumed that it only takes a few years before solar panels have generated as much energy as it took to make them, resulting in very low greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional grid electricity. However, a more critical analysis shows that the cumulative energy and CO2 balance of the industry is negative, meaning that solar PV has actually increased energy use and greenhouse gas emissions instead of lowering them. The problem is that we use and produce solar panels in the wrong places. By carefully selecting the location of both manufacturing and installation, the potential of solar power could be huge. Picture: Jonathan Potts. There's nothing but good news about solar energy these days. The average global price...
Niche applications will help advanced power-grid-battery technology.
Renewable energy, by definition, is inexhaustible or, at least, it can tap the sun's energy for times that can be considered infinite f...
It's been a bit player, but solar power is about to shine.
2014-10-29: solar electricity is on track to be as cheap or cheaper than average electricity-bill prices in 47 US states.
It's getting increasingly difficult to feed humanity's seven billion-plus mouths, especially as climate change begins to wreak havoc on the world's staple crop supplies. While efforts are being made to find hardier alternatives, a research team from the University of Sydney has developed a tool to better manage the crops we've already got.
As utilities see how distributed solar, aided by new storage tech, can chip away at their monopolies (and profits), they're fighting back.