Iconic Vegas Welcome Sign To Get Solar Power Makeover

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Officials in Las Vegas are harnessing the power of the sun to light the city’s iconic welcome sign.

Elected officials and project leaders flipped a switch Wednesday linking solar panels on 25-foot towers to the glittering neon “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign.

The project was headed by the Green Chips and Clean Energy Project nonprofit organizations, and funded by the Consumer Electronics Association, electric utility NV Energy, the Las Vegas Centennial Commission and Bombard Renewable Energy.

The new power source is the latest upgrade for the sign designed by Betty Willis and installed in 1959 in a traffic median on the Las Vegas Strip.

A parking lot for private vehicles and tour buses was expanded in 2012 to make access to the sign safer for picture-takers.

Courtesy: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/09/vegas-sign-solar-power_n_4568068.html

Apple Looking at Solar Power Converters

By Daniel Starkey

Getting “green” is going to be one of the tech trends that defines the next generation of hardware. As more customers are getting power conscious, the race is on to maximize performance and cut down on power consumption – especially for portable devices where the ability to run all day on a charge can make or break an entire product line.

That in mind, the U.S. Patent office has published a patent application from Apple Inc. titled “Power management systems for accepting adapter and solar power in electronic devices.” In short, it details a mechanism that would allow solar power to be put into a device directly, without the need for a secondary converter. This basically would act as a power supply in a desktop does and directly scales the electrical input to the proper voltage and amperage to help ensure compatibility.

From the patent: “The power management system includes a system microcontroller (SMC) and a charger. During operation, the power management system accepts power from at least one of a power adapter and a solar panel. Next, the power management system supplies the power to components in the electronic device without using a converter circuit between the solar panel and the power management system.”

If the patent is awarded, hopefully Apple will spread the love around, because having a cheaper, streamlined system for charging my stuff would be awesome.

Courtesy: http://www.tomshardware.com/news/apple-solar-power-converters-patent,24947.html

Solar power saves the day during Australia’s record heatwave

By: Ian Clover

As 40C-plus heat pours strain on traditional power plants, solar panel systems throughout Australia have taken up the slack.

Australia’s soaring temperatures this week have seen the country’s solar installations pass such a searing test with flying colors. wikimedia commons


While tennis players have wilted and bush fires have raged, solar power systems in Australia have come to the fore this week as the nation battles with the effects of the latest debilitating heatwave.

Temperatures across many parts of the country – including Melbourne, where the Australian Open is being held – have soared past 40C for the last few days, melting plastic bottles where they stand and proving once and for all that the sun’s heat can, in fact, fry eggs cracked on to flat metal surfaces.

But it is Australia’s coal-fired power plants that have really been feeling the strain. As the middle of the day sees peak demand for power-hungry air conditioning units, the country’s traditional power supplies have had that demand alleviated by solar power systems.

Throughout the country, both rooftop and ground-mounted solar installations have upped their share of power use and generation, helping to rein in wholesale pricing and reduce the number of power outages.

At the midday peak this Wednesday, findings from the Australian Solar Council revealed that the state of South Australia drew 9.41% of its energy needs from solar systems. That figure was 9.13% for Western Australia, 8.64% for Queensland, 3.59% for New South Wales and 2.8% for Victoria.

“As a community we should be congratulating those people who have made a significant personal investment in installing solar PV, which is now paying dividends for the entire community,” said the CEO of the Australian Solar Council, John Grimes. “Because solar PV produces electricity where it is used and does not need vast network infrastructure, the power that is produced is all being used to best effect, which adds up to a big saving for solar.”

Grimes added that he expects recent events will persuade more Australians to invest in solar solutions as the country’s “once-in-a-lifetime” heatwaves become more commonplace. “Solar is the perfect solution to these conditions, and we expect more Australians to want to take control of their own energy future.”

The Australian Solar Council’s stance, however, is at odds with the Energy Supply Association of Australia (ESAA), which argues that homeowners with rooftop solar panels installed avoid high network charges that are levied evenly across units of power used, while at the same time demand just as much peak power demand as non-solar customers. “Households with solar end up paying less for the network because they generate some of their own electricity and import less from the grid,” said an ESAA discussion paper on the issue of solar costs. “But solar households can be among the biggest users of the networks, because they both import and export electricity at different times of the day.

“Hence, most solar households end up paying only a fraction of their fair share of the cost of maintaining the network.”

This claim has since been challenged by the Australian PV network, which ran a study that concluded solar panels do in fact reduce the cross subsidy, finding that no matter to what extent solar operates during peak demand times, it still plays its part in reducing the overall level of demand at any given time.

Australia’s energy sector is calling for a broad-brush tariff reform to ensure all customers pay a fair share. Such reform is supported by the Solar PV institute of Australia, but Dr. Robert Passey has stressed that such reform should be “technology agnostic”, and not specifically target solar, which late last year reached 3 GW installed nationwide.

Read more: http://www.pv-magazine.com/news/details/beitrag/solar-power-saves-the-day-during-australias-record-heatwave_100013970/#ixzz2rVzCg5Xa

Boeing, United Arab Emirates Partners Look to Harvest Biofuel from Desert Plants

ABU DHABI, Jan. 22, 2014 – Boeing [NYSE:BA] and research partners in the United Arab Emirates have made breakthroughs in sustainable aviation biofuel development, finding that desert plants fed by seawater will produce biofuel more efficiently than other well-known feedstocks. The Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium (SBRC), affiliated with the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology in Abu Dhabi, will test these findings in a project that could support biofuel crop production in arid countries, such as the U.A.E.

“Plants called halophytes show even more promise than we expected as a source of renewable fuel for jets and other vehicles,” said Dr. Alejandro Rios, Director of the SBRC. “The U.A.E. has become a leader in researching desert land and seawater to grow sustainable biofuel feedstocks, which has potential applications in other parts of the world.”

Funded by Boeing, Etihad Airways and Honeywell UOP, the SRBC is dedicated to the development and commercialization of sustainable aviation biofuel, which emits 50 to 80 percent less carbon through its lifecycle compared to fossil fuel.

“Etihad Airways is very pleased with the research results of these saltwater-tolerant plants,” said Etihad Airways’ President and Chief Executive Officer James Hogan. “This is real progress in developing a truly sustainable aviation biofuel from a renewable plant source, appropriate to our environment.”
Halophyte seeds contain oil suitable for biofuel production. SBRC research found that the entire shrublike plant can be turned into biofuel more effectively than many other feedstocks.

In the coming year, SBRC scientists will create a test ecosystem by planting two crops of halophytes in Abu Dhabi’s sandy soil. Waste seawater from a fish and shrimp farm will nourish halophytes that clean the water as they grow. The water will next flow into a field of mangroves before returning to the ocean. Both plants would be converted into aviation biofuel using SBRC research findings.

“This project can have a global impact, since 97 percent of the earth’s water is ocean and 20 percent of the earth’s land is desert,” Dr. Rios said.

“Boeing is committed to finding ways to reduce aviation’s carbon emissions, and sustainable aviation biofuels is a key component of our strategy,” said Jeffrey Johnson, president, Boeing Middle East. “Masdar Institute’s biofuel research is showing tremendous potential, and we applaud Abu Dhabi’s leadership and innovation in this critical area.”

SBRC’s research success, announced at the World Future Energy Summit, continues the momentum for a sustainable aviation biofuel industry in Abu Dhabi. On January 18, Etihad Airways conducted a demonstration flight with a 777-300ER (Extended Range) powered in part with biofuel refined in U.A.E. On January 19, Boeing, Etihad Airways, Masdar Institute and others launched BIOjet Abu Dhabi: Flight Path to Sustainability, an initiative to advance biofuel research, feedstock production and refining capability.

These activities are aligned with the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030, which seeks to develop sustainable energy sources to diversify the U.A.E. economy and increase workforce opportunities for Emiratis.

Courtesy: https://www.masdar.ac.ae/media-section/news/item/6277-boeing-united-arab-emirates-partners-look-to-harvest-biofuel-from-desert-plants

World’s biggest solar plant may pave way for smaller-scale renewable future

Vast desert solar farms helping to meet energy targets but environment and wildlife campaigners raise concerns

BrightSource Energy’s Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in the Mojave Desert. Photograph: Isaac Brekken/Washington Post

Tower One glows so bright against the blue sky that even at mid-afternoon in the Mojave Desert it would be easy to conclude it is designed to illuminate the valley floor below.

In fact, hundreds of thousands of glittering mirrors, carefully arranged across a swath of desert, reflect sunlight on to the tower and two others like it, heating them to 538C and causing the glow. Water in pipes atop the towers turns to steam. The steam spins turbines to generate electricity.

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System will send that power across California, the Golden State, early this year, becoming the largest solar plant in the world to concentrate the sun’s rays to produce electricity. Such utility-sized solar plants are beginning to appear across the US, with 232 under construction, in testing or granted permits, many in the south-west and California, says the Edison Electric Institute, which represents utilities. The scale of the largest plants is difficult to imagine in the eastern part of the country, where a relative lack of available open land and unobstructed sunlight have limited solar facilities to perhaps a tenth the size of the West’s plants. In the west, ample sun, wide-open spaces, financial incentives, falling costs and state mandates have made big solar plants possible.

“Right now you’re seeing the gold rush of renewable [energy] projects coming on line,” said Fong Wan, senior vice-president for energy procurement at Pacific Gas and Electric, the big northern California utility that has bought about two-thirds of the electricity the Ivanpah plant will produce.

But even as the largest plants are helping utilities meet state requirements for renewable energy, the appetite for them may be waning, say experts. The next phase of solar development – especially in the east – may feature smaller projects located closer to cities. Environmental groups want regulators to look at sites such as landfills and industrial zones before allowing construction in largely undisturbed environments such as deserts.

“Part of the beauty is that solar is scalable, Read more »