Local and international news related to Renewable Energy. We'll try and keep you up to date!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Freeplay Energy

Freeplay Energy has been developing some great consumer products over the years, such as the Lifeline Radio, Jonta “human-powered” Flashlight, and the Indigo LED Lantern. But there is an offshoot of Freeplay we have yet to discuss, which is the non-profit Freeplay Foundation. With the help of the Lemelson Foundation, and green celebrity, Tom Hanks, Freeplay has been working to bring clean and renewable energy lanterns to Rwanda.

The Lifelights will replace the old, polluting, and dangerous kerosene lights currently being used in Rwanda. Compared to the consumer version of the Indigo Lantern, the ones that will be sent to Rwanda this February of 2009 are far more durable (able to withstand extreme weather and environmental conditions) and can be used to light up a larger area for longer periods of time.

The technology behind the Lifelight is primarily LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes), which provide an amazing amount of light for their size, efficiency rating, and non-toxic nature. Like Freeplays consumer brand of products, this lantern can be powered/charged by either sunlight or their own patented “wind-up” technology, which is thankfully far beyond most other “shake” flashlights on the market today.

The Lifelights are designed to be almost indestructible and to last for years with minimal maintenance and cost to the owner.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Konarka with 1 GW thin-film manufacturing facility

Konarka Technologies Inc. has opened what it claims to be the largest roll-to-roll flexible thin film solar manufacturing facility in the world, in New Bedford, Massachusetts, USA.

The rationale is to prepare for the commercialisation and mass production of Konarka’s Power Plastic, a thin, lightweight, and “very flexible” polymer-based organic photovoltaic (OPV) thin film solar material. The 250,000 ft2 building was previously the location for Polariod Corporation’s advanced printing technologies.

“This facility has state-of-the-art printing capabilities that are ready for full operation, with the future potential to produce over a gigawatt of flexible plastic solar modules per year,” says Howard Berke, Executive Chairman and Co-Founder of Konarka.

“Our technical leadership and innovation in flexible thin film solar, along with this facility’s capabilities of producing in excess of 10 million square meters of material per year, will allow us to produce Power Plastic for indoor, portable, outdoor and building integrated applications.”

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Explosive Growth Reshuffles Top 10 Solar Ranking

The explosion of photovoltaics production across the globe completely reshuffled the top companies in Nomura Securities' annual ranking of the leading companies, knocking long established Japanese players out of the top spots and putting four Asian suppliers in the Top 10. Japan's leading solar companies outline their strategies for this changing market in this report from SST partner Nikkei Microdevices.

Fast growing Q-Cells AG became the world's largest solar cell maker in 2007, producing nearly 400 megawatts (MW) worth of product. Longtime solar industry leader Sharp found itself in second place as production slipped to roughly 370 MW, which the company blamed on a constrained supply of silicon. China's Suntech was close behind the leaders with more than 300 MW output, pushing Kyocera and its 200 MW to a distant third.

Read the full article...

Friday, September 12, 2008

1.6 Percent

On the face of it, the Indian wind energy sector is booming. Installed wind power capacity has increased six-fold in the last seven years—from 1,338 mw in 2000-01 to 8,754 mw in 2007-08. In the last three years alone, about 5,150 mw has been added. As on March 31 this year, wind power accounted for 6.1 per cent of the total installed capacity to generate power in India.

The biggest challenge for the wind-power industry in India is to come to terms with the need to generate more power and to accurately account for it.
mnre collates data on the installed wind energy capacity, but most experts believe its data on wind power generation is questionable. The Central Electricity Authority does not collect data on wind power generation either. From the data mnre provides, adding capacity has not converted to actual power generation.

The average plant load factor, getting better, is still around 15 per cent. As a result, even as wind power generation has increased from 1,577 million units (mu) in 2000-2001 to 11,413 mu in 2007-2008, it accounts for a meagre 1.6 per cent of all power generated.

Moreover, industry is worried about stagnation in installation. Write Mahesh Vipradas and Niraj Kumar of the Indian Wind Energy Association, in their recent assessment of the sector: “The annual installation in 2007-08 is the lowest in the last three years, making us ask: is this the beginning of the end of the Indian wind success story?” They believe policy measures enacted in the past have had their run of success. Now, more steps are needed to re-energise the sector.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

India Builds Solar: A BIPV First

India's first green housing project facilitated with building-integrated solar power has been developed in a new district of Kolkata. Both environmentally and economically attractive, this project acts as a trailblazer for the rapidly developing country. Jaideep Malaviya reports.

The burden of combating global warming is not restricted to developed countries and many developing countries have shown their commitment to moving towards a more sustainable, low-carbon economy.

A good example of this type of commitment comes from India's West Bengal region, where the country's first housing complex using roof-integrated photovoltaics has recently been completed.

The policy behind the Rabi Rashmi Abasan project, which in the local Bengali language means ‘solar ray-based dwelling', was the brainchild of S. P. Gon Choudhary, managing director of the West Bengal Green Energy Development Corporation Limited (WBGEDCL), a state government-backed renewable energy undertaking.

Read on...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Algae: Biofuel of the Future?

In the world of alternative fuels, there may be nothing greener than pond scum. Algae are tiny biological factories that use photosynthesis to transform carbon dioxide and sunlight into energy so efficiently that they can double their weight several times a day.

As part of the photosynthesis process algae produce oil and can generate 15 times more oil per acre than other plants used for biofuels, such as corn and switchgrass. Algae can grow in salt water, freshwater or even contaminated water, at sea or in ponds, and on land not suitable for food production.

Read the entire article...

Monday, September 1, 2008

Silicon Rally

FOR 40 years or so, the price of solar panels fell steadily, as volumes grew and technology improved. But in 2004 Germany enormously increased subsidies for solar power, prompting a surge in demand. The supply of pure silicon, the main component of most solar cells, did not keep pace. Its price rose from $25 a kilogram in 2003 to as much as $250 this year, abruptly halting the downward march in the price of panels. If making energy from sunlight is ever to become as cheap as burning fossil fuels, the price of silicon will have to fall.

Happily, it seems likely to do so soon. Silicon producers, whose biggest customers were always chipmakers, have been slow to cater to the solar industry. They were scarred by the memory of the technology bust of 2001, which had weighed them down with excess capacity, and so delayed expansion—despite the boom in solar. Moreover, it takes three years or so to get a new plant going, so new silicon supplies are only just beginning to materialise.

Read the full story...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

15 Photovoltaics Solar Power Innovations You Must See

Energy. The lifeblood of modern civilization. Finding clean sources of it is very high on the green movement's priority list, and one very promising field is solar photovoltaics (PV).
CoolEarth inflatable solar balloons; Thin Film Solar Record: 19.9% Efficiency; Sunrgi Xtreme Concentrated Photovoltaics; 'Hairy' Thin Film Nanowire Solar Panels and more.

Read the full story...

Friday, August 22, 2008

Creating Realistic Expectations for Renewable Energy

It's a delicate time for the renewable energy industry. Now that the public eye is focused more intensely on clean energy technologies, there are a lot of high expectations about their potential. Properly educating consumers, investors and journalists about what each technology can realistically offer will be one of the most important factors in moving renewables forward, say industry professionals.

At the consumer level, that means encouraging buyers to do the necessary research about the product they're purchasing and the company they're working with. If buyers don't really know what they are getting, that could make for a less-than-satisfactory experience — or even worse, a situation where the customer gets scammed.

Read the full article...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

In the Lab vs. Real World

Beating solar PV efficiency records in the lab is great - just recently, a 40.7% record from 2006 was beaten by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) with a new record of... 40.8% - but in the short-term, what matters most is what makes it to market.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Indian Solar Loan Program Offers Access to Light

If you live in a rural area of southern India, two lights can literally save your life.

Just ask Vinoj Kanaya, farmer of silkworms who lives outside a small village located 250 kilometers from the new Silicon Valley of Bangalore. Like many people in developing countries, Mr Kanaya wanted something better than burning wood, dung or kerosene for which he paid a higher proportion of his income than someone in a developed country.

After he installed two solar-powered lights with the help of a solar loan, Kanaya says attacks by deadly cobras have gone down because the snakes are scared off by the brighter solar light. The lights are much cheaper to run than those powered by kerosene and there are fewer accidents and burns with solar lights. Kanaya says that both his helpers and his silkworms work much better without the smoke and fumes of kerosene lamps.

An extra light or two that may not mean much to many in the developed world, but for Kanaya and thousands of others, they've brought safety, profits and better quality of life. For SELCO Vice President, Mr. Thomas Pullenkav, the equation is simple: "quality of light equals quality of life."

Read the full story...

Monday, August 11, 2008

The economics of solar power

  • Solar energy is becoming more economically attractive as technologies improve and the cost of electricity generated by fossil fuels rises.
  • By 2020, hundreds of billions of dollars of investment capital will probably boost global solar-generating capacity 20 to 40 times higher than its current level.
  • As the new sector takes shape, producers of solar components must drive their costs down, utilities must place big bets despite enormous technological uncertainty, and regulators must phase out subsidies with care.
  • The actions these players take will determine the solar sector’s scale, structure, and performance for years to come.
  • The Growing Competitiveness of Solar Power (Graph)
  • The Global Solar Market in 2020 (Graph)
Read the full report

Sunday, August 10, 2008

China 'leads the world' in renewable energy

China is the world's leading producer of energy from renewable sources and is on the way to overtaking developed countries in creating clean technologies, according to a report by the Climate Group.

Published August 1st 2008, the group's report, China's Clean Revolution, shows that supportive government policies investing billions of dollars in energy efficiency and renewables are driving huge levels of innovation in China.

The Climate Group says that, despite its coal-dependent economy, China has become a world leader in the manufacture of solar photovoltaic technology - its six biggest solar companies have a combined value of over $15bn (£7.57bn). Around 820 megawatts of solar PV were produced in China in 2007, second only to Japan.

The country already leads the world in terms of installed renewable capacity at 152 gigawatts. In the next year, China will also become the world's leading exporter of wind turbines and it is also highly competitive in solar water heaters, energy efficient home appliances, and rechargeable batteries.

Read on...

Read the Summary Report - China's Clean Revolution

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Tibetan Vocational Training

Today was the last day in Auroville for Chung and Norbu from the Tibetan Vocational Training Centre in Selakui, near Dehradun in Uttarakhand state.

They completed a 1 month on-the-job training at Aurore in solar thermal (ETCs) and solar PV (PhotoVoltaics), and will take their knowledge back to the Tibetan VTC with the intention to start up a vocational training course in solar for Tibetan youths.

We hope this will be the start of a fruitful cooperation between Aurore and VTC Selakui.

Chung and Norbu will join Aurore technicians Manikandan and Nitin to Jhansi (UP) for one more on-the-job installation of a solar pumping system there in the coming week.

We wish them all the best back in Selakui with the set up of the new vocational training course in solar.

Tashi Delek!

Friday, August 1, 2008

'Light A Billion Lives'

A host of Bollywood stars are teaming up with Rajendra Pachauri, head of the Nobel Prize-winning United Nations climate panel, to help raise money for a project that will generate power for 100 villages in Asia and Africa.

Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan and several other celebrities from the Indian film industry are involved in the 'Light A Billion Lives' campaign, which aims to provide solar lanterns in villages spread across nine countries.


Friday, July 25, 2008

Solar lighting systems successful in Rajasthan

It is a simple device but it has shrunk the nights in Rajasthan’s countryside. Over the past decade, thousands of families in the state’s remote villages, unconnected with the grid, have installed solar lighting systems at their homes, which harness solar energy to generate electricity.

According to the Rajasthan Renewable Energy Corporation, the nodal agency of the union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (mnre), 73,590 solar home lighting systems have been installed in Rajasthan since 1999. This is more than one-fifth of the total such systems installed across the country.

Read on...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Global PV Market Set to Take Off

The rapid growth in the solar photovoltaic (PV) industry could lead to an oversupply situation in the short term, but could also lead to grid parity for PV in three to four years, opening many new doors for the industry. That is according to a new report from SolarPlaza.

The report gives an overview of the market forces that are currently driving the global demand for solar power and discusses the probability and consequences of the possible oversupply situation. The first part of the report looks at demand dynamics in the world’s major PV markets. Government policies will come into play as Germany, Spain and the U.S. face uncertainties regarding their respective subsidy programs.

Read on...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Solar Thermal Power Coming to a Boil

After emerging in 2006 from 15 years of hibernation, the solar thermal power industry experienced a surge in 2007, with 100 megawatts of new capacity coming online worldwide. During the 1990s, cheap fossil fuels, combined with a loss of state and federal incentives, put a damper on solar thermal power development. However, recent increases in energy prices, escalating concerns about global climate change, and fresh economic incentives are renewing interest in this technology.

Considering that the energy in sunlight reaching the earth in just 70 minutes is equivalent to annual global energy consumption, the potential for solar power is virtually unlimited. With concentrating solar thermal power (CSP) capacity expected to double every 16 months over the next five years, worldwide installed CSP capacity will reach 6,400 megawatts in 2012—14 times the current capacity. (See data.)

Unlike solar photovoltaics (PVs), which use semiconductors to convert sunlight directly into electricity, CSP plants generate electricity using heat. Much like a magnifying glass, reflectors focus sunlight onto a fluid-filled vessel. The heat absorbed by the fluid is used to generate steam that drives a turbine to produce electricity. Power generation after sunset is possible by storing excess heat in large, insulated tanks filled with molten salt. Since CSP plants require high levels of direct solar radiation to operate efficiently, deserts make ideal locations.


Monday, July 21, 2008

Jatropha Production Expanded in India

India is one of the world’s leading cultivators of jatropha as a feedstock for biodiesel, with over one million hectares planted to date. That figure is set to rise slightly on the news that Hindustan Petroleum and the Chhattisgarh Renewable Energy Development Agency (CREDA) are partnering to plant an additional 15,000 hectares.

Cleantech is reporting that though the exact financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed, Hindustan Petroleum will hold 74% of the joint venture and will received the entire harvest of jatropha seeds, which it will then refine into biodiesel for sale at its retail outlets across the state of Chhattisgarh. The land used for cultivation will be wastelands obtained by CREDA.

India has conducted a number of trials using Jatropha-based biodiesel on it public transport systems, both on major train routes and on public buses.

Read on...

Ashden Awards 2008

The Ashden Awards are given to visionaries in the developing world who are finding solutions to climate change and bringing real social and economic benefits to their local communities at a grass-roots level. In the past projects have shown how simple, innovative design, at a relatively small price can bring huge changes to large numbers of people in terms of health, education, and social welfare. This year the 7 finalists are no less inspiring.

In Western China, the Renewable Energy Development Project (REDP), has brought affordable, high-quality solar lighting to people who live in tents in rural areas. Since 2001, REDP has sold over 402,000 photovoltaic (PV) solar-home systems to yak and other herding communities in remote areas. Previously they relied on kerosene, butter lamps and candles for light. Now almost 1.44 million people who previously had little access to electricity have an improved quality of life through better light, communications and entertainment.

Read on...

Aurore won the Ashden Award in 2004

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Renewable Energy Accelerates Meteoric Rise

2007 Global Status Report Shows Perceptions Lag Reality
REN21 Renewables 2007 Global Status Report

Download the report, press release and presentations slides
Paris, 27 February 2008 – The renewable energy industry is stepping up its meteoric rise into the mainstream of the energy sector, according to the REN21 Renewables 2007 Global Status Report. Renewable energy production capacities are growing rapidly as a result of more countries enacting far-reaching policies.

Prepared by the Renewable Energy Network for the 21st Century (REN21) in collaboration with the Worldwatch Institute, the Renewables 2007 Global Status Report paints an encouraging picture of rapidly expanding renewable energy markets, policies, industries, and rural applications around the world. In 2007, global wind generating capacity is estimated to have increased 28 percent, while grid-connected solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity rose 52 percent.

Read on...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Buoyant wind market

India and China are among top five growing markets for wind energy.

Of the various renewable energy sources, wind energy is making a significant contribution to the installed capacity of power generation and is emerging a competitive option.

It is used in more than 70 countries and contributes to 1.3 per cent of the global electricity consumption. In some countries, wind energy contributes to 40 per cent or more of their power needs.

Germany, the US, Spain, India and China are the top five countries with growing wind markets. At the end of 2007, worldwide capacity of wind-powered generators was 93,849 MW.

World Wind Energy Association press release.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Thomas Edison on the sun

"We are like tenant farmers chopping down the fence around our house for fuel when we should be using Nature's inexhaustible sources of energy-sun, wind and tide. I'd put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don't have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.

"Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931).