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Underwater Kites Could Harvest 64 Times More Power Than Undersea Turbines

David Olinger, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), believes that tethered underwater kites could be used to generate large amounts of electricity by harnessing the power of ocean waves and currents.

According to Olinger, deep sea currents are rife with unharvested kinetic energy. Even though we can’t see them, these currents are latent energy sources that could be tapped by the kites he wants to develop.

“Unseen under the waves, winding along coastlines and streaming through underwater channels, there are countless ocean currents and tidal flows that bristle with kinetic energy,” Olinger said in a WPI press release. “And just as wind turbines can convert moving air into electricity, there is the potential to transform these virtually untapped liquid ‘breezes’ into vast amounts of power. For example, it has been estimated that the potential power from the Florida Current, which flows from the Gulf of Mexico into the Atlantic Ocean, is 20 gigawatts—equivalent to about 10 nuclear power plants.” - November 8th 2013

Steam Engines Could Solve Solar Energy Storage Problem

Australian engineers might have solved one of the biggest obstacles to scaling up solar energy — the lack of affordable storage technology that allows solar to be used at peak demand after the sun goes down. Their California-based startup Terrajoule is applying an older technology, namely steam engines, to build a storage system that could lower the cost to under $100 per kWh, which is less than 20 percent of what it costs for current battery storage systems. This new system will also last longer (it has a 25 year lifecycle), thereby eliminating use of the toxic and rare materials contained in batteries.

According to Treehugger, “the Terrajoule system couples concentrated solar with steam engines and an integrated storage system using an insulated pressure vessel to deliver cost-effective solar energy 24 hours a day.”

The company believes they can use steam engines quickly and cheaply scale up solar, because all of the necessary technology already exists in automotive and industrial supply chains. This means that the factories, materials and manufacturing equipment can be easily converted to solar storage use.

Terrajoule recently announced they received an $11.5 million Series A round of funding that will allow them to continue to scale up distributed solar power generation.

“Who expected that reciprocating steam piston engines would play a major role in 21st century energy growth?,” the Terrajoule website states.

“Reciprocating steam engines powered the industrial revolution and steam itself is ubiquitous throughout industry to this day. Actually it is the phase change between steam and water that makes water a fundamental component of both life and industrial processes. Steam is fundamental to the conversion between thermal energy and electricity, and steam piston engines built with modern automotive technology are back.” - November 7th 2013

World's First 1 Megawatt Wave Energy Power Plant Launched in South Australia

Australia’s Oceanlinx just launched the world’s first 1 megawatt wave power plant in Port MacDonnell, South Australia. The wave energy converter was developed with support from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), and it will undergo tests over the next 12 months to determine how well it feeds into the national power grid. If all goes well the initiative plans to follow up with a 10 megawatt version of the device.

Oceanlinx’s “greenwave” technology works by using waves to produce high pressure air, which is fed through a turbine to generate electricity. The company says it is made of simple flat packed prefabricated reinforced concrete that makes the structure heavy enough to anchor itself to the seabed in approximately 10-15m of water without the need for destructive seafloor preparation. - November 6th 2013

A Cheaper Fuel Cell Could Provide Affordable Power for Microgrids (read more......)

Cheaper Fuel Cell Energy - Your own Power Plant

Fuel cell technology promises lower electricity costs through distributed generation with solid oxide fuel cell generators that produce electricity from natural gas.  They can also be modified to run on hydrogen or methane and are trending towards Busbar costs well below fossil fuel generated electricity prices and should eventually get costs down to around $0.01 per kwh, versus $0.08 - $0.12 per kwh (US and Canada prices).

At this price the traditional coal, oil and gas electricity power generators will be out of business and replaced by distributed generation models including fuel cells, solar and wind power.  Europe is moving very quickly towards this energy model and outdated economies in the US and Australia will need to follow suit or dissappear like the dinosaurs.

A one-meter-square gray box studded with green lights sits in a hallway near the laboratory of materials scientist Eric Wachsman, director of the Energy Research Center at the University of Maryland. It is a mockup of a fuel-cell device that runs on natural gas, producing electricity at the same cost as a large gas plant.

The box is designed to house stacks of solid-oxide fuel cells that differ from their conventional counterparts in a dramatic way: they’re projected to produce electricity for $1 per watt, down from $8 in today’s commercial versions, thanks to improvements that ¬Wachsman has made in the ceramic materials at their heart.
The technology could eventually become a practical and affordable way to ease strain on the increasingly stressed electricity grid; anywhere there’s cheap natural gas, we could also have constant and cheap electricity.

That would make it possible to do away with the diesel generators that are now widely used for backup power and as a key component of microgrids in places like Malaysia and cellular base stations in rural areas around the world. Solid-oxide fuel cells—which can run on diesel fuel or gasoline, not just natural gas—use much less fuel per watt than diesel generators of similar size. - October 28th 2013

Breakthrough for solar cell efficiency

Solar PV technology is improving every day. This latest breakthrough will help push solar further up the energy supply chain, making renewable solar energy even more attractive.

When solar Busbar cost per kwh falls below say $0.05 per kwh then fossil fuel energy businesses are in real trouble (as if they aren't already). In some countries (notably Australia) traditional energy producers have already recognised the threat of solar to their "steam train" business models and are now actively trying to block and discourage the spread of solar as distributed generation.

Consumers are voting with their feet and their wallets, so these old "fossils" better change their business plans soon or they will get left behind and just become footprints in history - a bit like the dinosaurs they are now emulating.

Read more .... - October 27th 2013

Unprecedented Arctic Warming. Hottest in 40,000 years (read more......)

Average Summer Temperatures in Last 100 Years May Be Warmest in 120,000 Years

Average summer temperatures in the Eastern Canadian Arctic during the last 100 years are higher now than during any century in the past 44,000 years and perhaps as long ago as 120,000 years, says a new University of Colorado Boulder study.

The study is the first direct evidence the present warmth in the Eastern Canadian Arctic exceeds the peak warmth there in the Early Holocene, when the amount of the sun's energy reaching the Northern Hemisphere in summer was roughly 9 percent greater than today, said CU-Boulder geological sciences Professor Gifford Miller, study leader. The Holocene is a geological epoch that began after Earth's last glacial period ended roughly 11,700 years ago and which continues today.

Miller and his colleagues used dead moss clumps emerging from receding ice caps on Baffin Island as tiny clocks. At four different ice caps, radiocarbon dates show the mosses had not been exposed to the elements since at least 44,000 to 51,000 years ago. - October 25th 2013


How Much New Energy Does Africa Really Need? (read more....)

Unmet Power Needs - Africa 2030

This article comes from a post at the Center for Global Development by Todd Moss and Madeleine Gleave. They ask, how much power does Africa really need? Their answer is ... a lot.

Here is their bottom line:

  • • As these countries poulations grow larger and richer (they are all posting impressive real GDP growth rates), the demand for electricity is going to be significantly higher than the modest targets currently envisioned by the international community.
  • • Nigeria’s ambitious electricity expansion plans to reach 10,000 MW are only the tip of the iceberg. To reach Tunisia-level consumption, it will need at least five times that level of electricity generation.?
  • • Even if President Obama’s “Power Africa” is a success, there’s a whole lot more pent-up demand out there! - October 14th 2013

Next-Generation Japanese Farmers Cultivate both Crops and Solar Energy Together.


japanese crops combined with PV solar energy panels

Farmers in Japan can now produce solar electricity while cultivating crops on the same farmland. In April, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) approved installation of PV systems on crop-producing land. Previously, the practice also known as “Solar Sharing” was prohibited under the Agricultural Land Act.

The concept was originally developed by Akira Nagashima in 2004. By knowing that too much sun will not help further growth of plants, Nagashima came up with the idea to combine PV systems and farming. He devised pergola-like structures equipped with solar panels and arranged them at certain intervals to allow enough sunlight to hit the ground for photosynthesis. - October 14th 2013

IPCC Warns Methane Traps Much More Heat Than We Thought (Read more...)


energy heat map - methane leaks in Boston

The IPCC recently reported that Methane is far more potent a greenhouse gas than we had previously understood. We’ve known for a long time that methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, which is released when any hydrocarbon, like natural gas, is burned.

But the IPCC’s latest report, released Monday, reports that methane is 34 times stronger a heat-trapping gas than CO2 over a 100-year time scale, so its global-warming potential (GWP) is 34. That is a nearly 40% increase from the IPCC’s previous estimate of 25. - October 1st 2013

Russia's First Ever Clean Energy Auction (Read more......)


russian flag

The first ever renewable energy auction within the borders of the world’s largest oil producer — Russia — was recently completed. As a result, the fossil fuel giant has now committed to subsidize 504 MW of new renewable energy projects — including 399 MW of solar and about 110 MW of wind.

As it stands currently, solar and wind energy only account for about 0.8% of the country’s energy mix. Though, the country does possess an impressive hydroelectric capacity — currently supplying about 16% of the country’s electricity. The other ~83% is, as of now, supplied by fossil fuels and nuclear energy.

In recent years, the oil giant has made its goals with regard to renewable energy clear.

And now, with this first ever renewable energy auction — which saw 39 ventures secure government subsidies — the country certainly seems to be moving towards the realization of those goals. - October 1st 2013

Coal Electricity Generator Blames Solar Energy for Decline!! (Read more...)


Caol Fired Non Renewable Energy Power Station

This is what the decline of base-load and centralised generation looks like. Stanwell Corp, the Queensland government owned electricity generator, has failed to make any money in the past year from its 4,000MW of coal and gas fired generation because rooftop solar has taken away demand and pushed down wholesale electricity prices. - October 1st 2013

IPCC Report Confirms - We ARE Getting Hotter, and it Is Man Made (Read more...)

Basically the report found stronger evidence that Climate Change IS man made.

Their key findings include:

  • ·  Average surface temperatures up 0.85 degrees since 1880
  • ·  Extremely likely – 95 per cent certainty – humans the dominant cause of Global Warming
  • ·  Sea levels to rise 26-81 centimetres by 2100
  • ·  World temperatures to rise 2–4.8 degrees – warming by 2100

It is more certain than ever that human civilisation is the main cause of global warming, putting the world on track for dangerous temperature rises, the latest major UN assessment of climate change science has found. Click the link above to read our full article, and the link is here to the IPCC Summary Report.

IPCC 5th Report Summary - Click Here - September 27th 2013

Elon Musk 700 MPH Hyperloop Train - Will it Work? (Read more...)


700 MPH Hyperloop from Elon Musk

Courtesy Elon MuskAn artist's impression of the Hyperloop pod


Almost a year after Elon Musk, chief executive of Tesla Motors (TSLA) and SpaceX, first floated the idea of a superfast mode of transportation, he has finally revealed the details: a solar-powered, city-to-city elevated transit system that could take passengers and cars from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 30 minutes.

In Musk’s vision, the Hyperloop would transport people via aluminum pods enclosed inside of steel tubes.

Cheers - Allan Barker

October 1st 2013




Electricity prices around the world in $/kWh (Read more...)


Energy - Electricity Price by Country

Everywhere in the world, people complain about the cost of electricity. The above graph shows average electricity prices from 17 countries around the world, converted to $/kWh (US). All the data is based on average prices and exchange rates for 2011, graphed in US cents/kWh.

Cheers - Allan Barker

September 24th 2013




Tesla Builds One Of World's Safest Cars? (Read more....)


Tesla Motors churns out super-safe Model S with the help of robotics, workers and advanced engineering


TESLA FACTORY: Tesla Motors churns out super-safe Model S with the help of robotics, workers and advanced engineering. 

Tesla Motors builds its cars to "best practice" world safety standards out of cheap, lightweight but strong aluminium, rather than much heavier steel sheet.

The secret to their unprecedented safety levels (as measured by NHTSA crash tests) is special aluminium reinforcing bars in the doors, panels, roof and body - all fastened with aero-space grade bolts, the same quality as used by NASA in the space program.

Cheers - Allan Barker

September 24th 2013





Destination Mars, if Earth Becomes Uninhabitable? (Read more....)


Alternative Energy - Mars Landscape


Mars landscape, as seen from NASA probe.


A study published in the magazine Astrobiology concludes that Earth will eventually become too hot for human habitation, all water will evaporate and only microbes would be able to survive the heat.

Astrobiologists predict our planet will move out of the solar system's "habitable zone" and become too hot for even primitive bacteria. To survive, humans might have to migrate to Mars.

The Habitable Zone is calculated to be the distance from a planet's star at which temperatures will sustain water on the surface. Astrobiologists calculate Earth will cease to be habitable somewhere between 1.75 billion and 3.25 billion years from now.

After this point ... the seas would simply evaporate. We would see a terminal extinction event for all life on Earth.  Conditions for humans would be intolerable much sooner. This is being accelerated by climate change. Humans would be in trouble with even a small increase in temperature.

Cheers - Allan Barker

September 22nd 2013




50 Percent Reduction in Renewable Energy Cost (Read more....)

A recent anlysis by Lazard Freres  & C0 - global advisors and asset managers  -has found that the Capital Cost per KW for Renewable Energy sources has fallen by more than 50% in the last four years.

Thus renewable energy continues to become more cost-competitive with traditional fossil fuels. 

Cheers - Allan Barker

September 21st 2013







Bartlett, who died this month at age 90, gave his lecture "Arithmetic, Population and Energy "all over the world 1,742 times or on average once every 8.5 days for 36 years to audiences ranging from junior high students to seasoned professionals in many fields. His ability to stay on message for so long about something so important should make him the envy of every modern communications professional.

Farewell to a great mind.

With the greatest respect - Allan Barker

September 18th 2013



Construction Of Major New Solar Energy Plant In Suffolk, UK

Construction of one of the UK's largest renewable energy solar power plants has begun at the site of former RAF Stradishall, the second world war airfield in Suffolk.
Once Broxted Solar Farm, covering a 150 acre site in south west Suffolk, has been completed by the end of 2013 it will be one of the UK's largest utility scale ground mounted solar projects, and will produce an installed capacity of 31.6MW - enough to provide electricity to 8,000 UK homes a year.

It will also generate clean renewable energy, producing 30,200 MWh per year, and will avoid the emission of 33,120 tonnes of carbon dioxide and 94,213 tonnes of nitrogen oxide into the atmosphere

Cheers - Allan Barker

September 17th 2013



GE in 200MW US Wind Turbine Deal (read more...)


UNITED STATES: GE has agreed to supply EDF Renewable Energy with up to 200 MW for its US projects, beginning construction this year.

The first of the 1.85MW turbines will be deployed at EDF's Hereford wind project in the Texas Panhandle.

EDF recently executed a membership interest purchase agreement, under which the company has acquired the first 200MW phase of the Hereford project from Lincoln Renewable Energy, as well as an option agreement for a total of up to 500MW.


Cheers - Allan Barker

September 16th 2013



Recharged Japan Solar PV Industry Hits 10 GW of Installed Capacity (read more...)

alternative energy_japan solar 10GW_sept_2013

Solar photovoltaic (PV) installations in Japan have now reached the 10 gigawatts (GW) milestone for cumulative PV capacity. Japan is only the fifth country to reach this mark, after Germany, Italy, China and the U.S. Both the U.S. and China reached 10 GW of solar PV within the past few months, according to new research featured in the NPD Solarbuzz Asia Pacific PV Market Quarterly Report.

Reaching 10 GW in August 2013
In July 2012, the federal government launched a feed-in tariff (FIT) program to accelerate the deployment of large-scale renewable technologies. This has been instrumental in Japan’s PV market growing rapidly over the past 12 months, and becoming only the fourth country to break the 10 GW mark.

  • Cumulative solar PV installed in Japan broke through the 10 GW barrier during August 2013 and exceeded 10.5 GW at the end of August.
  • Until the end of 2012, the Japanese PV market had been heavily weighted towards the rooftop segment, with 97 percent of PV capacity.
  • During the first eight months of 2013, the ground-mount segment has accounted for 27 percent of new solar PV capacity installed.
  • Over the first three quarters of calendar year 2013, Japan is forecast to install more PV capacity than during the entire three-year period spanning 2010 to 2012.
  • At the end of August 2013, rooftop solar PV installations remain the dominant type of PV installations by project number and by MW volume, with 89% of market share by capacity. The remaining 11 percent is spread across the ground-mount and off-grid segments.

Cheers - Allan Barker

September 16th 2013



Asian Survey finds Climate getting Hotter & Less Predictable

A survey released today by Climate Asia and backed by the BBC has
surveyed 33,500 people in Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan and Vietnam for the poll

Three out of four Asians say the weather has become hotter and less predictable in the past decade as a result of climate change, prompting job changes, migration and lifestyle adaptation.

Bangladeshis are changing how they live more than any other nation surveyed, with 36 per cent saying they’ve adapted, for example by growing different crops or migrating for work. Indonesians are the most worried about food, with 30 per cent saying crop yields have fallen


Cheers - Allan Barker

September 16th 2013




A Nuclear Reactor in your Basement?


Alternative Energy - Renewable Energy - Nuclear in the Home

Scientists at NASA are hopeful of soon proving the Widom-Larsen Weak Interaction LENR Theory, which would gives us safe "cold fusion" nuclear reactors which could
power our home.

Traditional nuclear reactors use "fission", which is pretty unstable and dangerous. LENR reactors using nuclear "fusion" will be much safer, cheaper and simpler, if the physicists and scientists can get it right.

So who is ready for their own "in-home" nuclear reactor? Some of the leading scientists want to be the first, so it better work.

Cheers - Allan Barker

September 14th 2013




New 5KW Home Battery Storage Options for Home Solar

In new developments on the home solar front, governments in both the US (California) and Germany are investing in new facilities or facilitating efforts to provide 5 KW home storage batterries for home solar users.

This means that thes home owners hould never have to draw from the grid, as happens with a tradional home solar installation.  When the sun does not shine, you draw from the grid.  When it does shine, any excess power you produce you sell back to the grid, at the Feed In Tariff rate.  In the absence of government subsidies the Feed In Tariff you earn is only about a third, in monetary terms, of what you pay your supplier when you have to draw from the grid, so it is an unequal equation for the home owner.

With these new 5KW hour batteries, most home owners should be able to draw on that storage until the sun shines again, thus never having to draw from the frid at all.

With solar technology advancing rapidly and the installed cost of solar systems still dropping every year, with these storage batteries the future for home solar is looking brighter every day.


Cheers - Allan Barker

September 13th 2013




Army Adds Wind Power To $7 Billion Renewable Energy Buy

The US Army Corps of Engineers has just announced that it has awarded contracts to 17 private companies to build wind turbines on Department of Defense facilities around the country. It’s the third in a series of four groups of renewable energy contracts for DoD that will eventually total $7 billion. Given the military’s avid pursuit of a more diversified fuel mix, it looks like certain members of Congress better get off the “drill, baby, drill” train once and for all if they really do support our troops.

The first two groups of contracts were geothermal and solar, and the last will be biomass. We’re especially interested in the military’s sudden interest in wind power, though, because not too long ago there were concerns about wind turbines interfering with radar systems. So, what changed?

Seventeen Wind Power Contracts For The US Military

The $7 billion DoD renewable energy initiative is basically the same kind of power purchase agreement (PPA) that is commonplace in today’s solar power market.


Allan Barker

September 12th 2013

Research Cites Role of Warming in Extremes

Australia is currently experiencing record high temperatures in early Spring, with massive unseasonal bushfires raging in New South Wales today, September 10th 2013.

The prestigious New York Times reported on September 6th 2013:

"Scientists have long predicted that global warming will worsen heat waves and torrential rainfalls. In some parts of the world, that is exactly what happened last year, climate scientists reported.

Rising temperatures add energy to the atmosphere, and computer models warn that this will produce wider and wilder swings in temperature and rainfall and alter prevailing wind patterns. In examining a dozen extreme weather events last year, scientists found that evidence that human activity — in particular, emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels — was a partial culprit in about half of them."

The research, a series of 19 studies by 18 teams, was published in a special issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.


Allan Barker

September 10th 2013



Hydrogen Fuel From Sunlight:


The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has announced that they have developed a way to produce hydrogen from sunlight by artificial photosynthesis.

In the future we may be able to produce limitless supplies of cheap hydrogen from sunlight, water and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Click the headline above to visit the Berkeley Lab website for the full story



Allan Barker

September 9th 2013

Record US Sales of Electric Cars in August


Plug in electric car sales hit an all time peak in the US of 11,361 vehicles in August.

Whilst pure plug in electric vehicles still trail hybrids (298,000 now on the road in the US) plug in electric vehicles are fast catching up.

Total US sales for plug in electric vehicles was 52,581 in 2012 but by August 2013 year to date sales of plug in's have already reached 59,537 and will well pass 100,000 vehicles in 2013.

The monthly rate of sales for plug in's has increased six fold between August 2010 and August 2013 - only three years.

With Tesla recently proving a range of up to 400 miles on a single charge and rolling out a national network of half hour super charging stations over the next two years coast to coast electric motoring is now virtually possible.

Tesla, Nissan, Chev and Ford are all ramping up sales and production sothe future is bright. One could say its electric.


Allan Barker

September 8th 2013

Hydrogen Cars - Dream Still Alive (read more.........)

By the mid-2000s, the dream of hydrogen-powered cars had faded in the face of stubborn practicalities like the lack of charging stations and the inefficiency of fuel cells. But as the auto industry wrestles with the limitations of battery-powered electric vehicles, the dream lives on. That is apparent at the Paris Auto Show.

Automakers are showing new interest because key problems with fuel cells—their limited capacity to convert hydrogen to electricity and their susceptibility to freezing—have largely been overcome in recent years.

Alternative Energy & Renewable Energy - Hydrogen


Allan Barker

September 8th 2013



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