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Hawaii is Ideal for Ocean Energy Plant

HONOLULU, Aug. 5 (UPI) — Researchers in Hawaii say the islands may be an ideal spot for future ocean-based energy plants using seawater to produce sustained amounts of renewable energy.

A technology called Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion uses seawater to drive massive heat engines, an article in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy says.

In an OTEC system, a heat engine is placed between warm water from the ocean’s surface and cold water pumped from the deep ocean. Heat flowing from the warm water reservoir to the cool one drives the heat engine to spin a turbine and generate electricity, the article says.

The technology is almost 50 years old but cannot compete with the relatively low cost of fossil fuel energy.

An OTEC plant would be the most cost-competitive in places on Earth where ocean temperature differentials are the greatest — which includes the western sides of the Hawaiian Islands, a University of Hawaii researcher says.

An OTEC plant in this location could produce up to 15 percent more power than in other locations, Gerard Nihous says.

Such an improvement could help overcome one of the biggest hurdles to bringing the technology to the mainstream, he says.

“Testing that was done in the 1980s clearly demonstrates the feasibility of this technology,” Nihous says. “Now it’s just a matter of paying for it.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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College to Be First 'grid Positive'

OROVILLE, Calif., Aug. 4 (UPI) — A California college says it is set to become the nation’s only grid-positive college, producing more energy from its own on-site solar power than it uses.

Butte College in Oroville, Calif., will add 15,000 solar panels to its existing 10,000 by May 2011 to become the largest solar-producing college in the world, a college release said Wednesday.

“Once this solar project is completed, Butte College will provide enough clean renewable energy to cover all of our electricity needs and generate slightly more than we use — which will be a source of additional revenue for the college,” Dr. Diana Van Der Ploeg, Butte College President, said.

The school’s solar panels will generate more than 6.3 million kilowatt hours per year, enough energy to power more than 9.200 average-sized homes, the release said.

The 15,000 new solar panels will be placed atop rooftops and will create covered parking areas and walkways.

The project will cost $17 million, with $12.65 million coming from federal Clean Renewable Energy Bonds, which are low-interest loans that can be used for clean energy projects.

The college will fund the remainder, up to $4.35 million.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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College to Be First 'grid Positive'

OROVILLE, Calif., Aug. 4 (UPI) — A California college says it is set to become the nation’s only grid-positive college, producing more energy from its own on-site solar power than it uses.

Butte College in Oroville, Calif., will add 15.000 solar panels to its existing 10,000 by May 2011 to become the largest solar-producing college in the world, a college release said Wednesday.

“Once this solar project is completed, Butte College will provide enough clean renewable energy to cover all of our electricity needs and generate slightly more than we use — which will be a source of additional revenue for the college,” Dr. Diana Van Der Ploeg, Butte College President, said.

The school’s solar panels will generate more than 6.3 million kilowatt hours per year, enough energy to power more than 9.200 average-sized homes, the release said.

The 15,000 new solar panels will be placed atop rooftops and will create covered parking areas and walkways.

The project will cost $17 million, with $12.65 million coming from federal Clean Renewable Energy Bonds, which are low-interest loans that can be used for clean energy projects.

The college will fund the remainder, up to $4.35 million.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Researchers Report Solar Energy Advance

PALO ALTO, Calif., Aug. 2 (UPI) — Scientists say a new process utilizing both the light and heat of solar radiation could double the efficiency of electricity-generating solar panels.

Stanford University researchers say the technology, called “photon enhanced thermionic emission,” could lower the costs of solar energy production to the point where it is competitive with oil as an energy source, a university release said Monday.

Unlike current solar panels, which become less efficient as temperatures rise, panels using the PETE process excel at higher temperatures, the release said.

“This is really a conceptual breakthrough, a new energy conversion process, not just a new material or a slightly different tweak,” Stanford Professor Nick Melosh said. “It is actually something fundamentally different about how you can harvest energy.”

Such devices could be made with cheap and easily available materials, the release said.

Melosh’s team found that coating a piece of semiconducting material with a thin layer of the metal cesium produced a material able to use both light and heat to generate electricity.

“The PETE process could really give the feasibility of solar power a big boost,” Melosh said. “Even if we don’t achieve perfect efficiency, let’s say we give a 10 percent boost to the efficiency of solar conversion, going from 20 percent efficiency to 30 percent — that is still a 50 percent increase overall.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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U.S. Researchers Claim Solar Enegy Advance

PALO ALTO, Calif., Aug. 2 (UPI) — Scientists say a new process utilizing both the light and heat of solar radiation could double the efficiency of electricity-generating solar panels.

Stanford University researchers say the technology, called “photon enhanced thermionic emission,” could lower the costs of solar energy production to the point where it is competitive with oil as an energy source, a university release said Monday.

Unlike current solar panels, which become less efficient as temperatures, panels using the PETE process excel at higher temperatures, the release said.

“This is really a conceptual breakthrough, a new energy conversion process, not just a new material or a slightly different tweak,” Stanford Professor Nick Melosh said. “It is actually something fundamentally different about how you can harvest energy.”

Such devices could be made with cheap and easily available materials, the release said.

Melosh’s team found that coating a piece of semiconducting material with a thin layer of the metal cesium produced a material able to use both light and heat to generate electricity.

“The PETE process could really give the feasibility of solar power a big boost,” Melosh said. “Even if we don’t achieve perfect efficiency, let’s say we give a 10 percent boost to the efficiency of solar conversion, going from 20 percent efficiency to 30 percent; that is still a 50 percent increase overall.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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'Green' Energy Production Makes Advances

NEW YORK, July 15 (UPI) — The United States and Europe added more power capacity from renewable sources like wind and solar than from conventional sources in 2009, a report says.

This year or next, experts predict, the world as a whole will add more capacity to the electricity supply from renewable sources than from traditional sources such as coal, gas or nuclear plants, a report by the U.N. Environment Program said Thursday.

China surpassed the United States in 2009 as the country with the greatest investment in clean energy, the report said, with China’s wind farm development enjoying the greatest investments.

Countries that encourage renewable energy have roughly doubled, the report noted, from 55 in 2005 to more than 100 today, half of them in the developing world.

In 2009 renewable sources represented 25 percent of global electrical power capacity, generating 1,230 gigawatts of the total of 4,800 gigawatts from all sources including coal, gas, nuclear, the report said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Coal, Electricity, Nuclear, Other, Solar0 Comments

Floating Ocean Wind Turbines Proposed

COLLEGE PARK, Md., June 30 (UPI) — Wind turbines as a renewable energy source have problems of noise, visual clutter and land use, and one U.S. researcher says moving them offshore is a solution.

Offshore wind farms have been built, but only in shallow water near coasts, and one naval architect wants to go much farther out by placing turbines on floating platforms, a release from the American Institute of Physics said Wednesday.

Dominique Roddier of Marine Innovation & Technology of Berkeley, Calif., has proposed a platform design dubbed “WindFloat” based on existing gas and oil platform designs.

Roddier and his and colleagues published a feasibility study of the design in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy, published by the AIP.

Testing of a small scale model in a wave tank showed the platform is stable enough to support a 5-megawatt wind turbine producing enough energy “to support a small town,” Roddier said.

A full-size prototype being built in collaboration with electricity company Energia de Portugal “should be in the water by the end of 2012,” Roddier says.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Discovery is Prepped for Its Final Journey

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., June 24 (UPI) — Kennedy Space Center technicians Thursday removed space shuttle Discovery’s three main engines in order to remove and replace a malfunctioning turbopump.

Workers at NASA’s Orbiter Processing Facility-3 at the space center also tested the shuttle’s power reactant distribution system, which serves Discovery’s electricity-generating fuel cells.

And at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, STS-133 astronauts Tim Kopra and Alvin Drew rehearsed spacewalk procedures Thursday at the facility’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab.??

All that activity is focused on Discovery’s planned Sept. 15 launch on its final scheduled mission into space. However, space agency officials said that date might be moved to Oct. 29, with STS-134 moving to February 2011. NASA said the requested rescheduling is under consideration and an announcement is expected by July 1.

“During space shuttle Discovery’s final spaceflight, the STS-133 crew members will take important spares to the International Space Station along with the Express Logistics Carrier 4,” the space agency said in a statement.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Unsealed Solar Cell Operates Eight Months

EDMONTON, Alberta, June 21 (UPI) — Canadian scientists say they have succeeded in increasing the operating life of an unsealed plastic solar cell from hours to eight months.

Researchers from the University of Alberta and Canada’s National Institute for Nanotechnology led by David Rider said they created a longer-lasting, polymer coating for the solar cell’s electrode — which extracts electricity from the cell.

Prior to the polymer-coating breakthrough, the research team said its plastic solar cell could only operate at high capacity for about 10 hours, but their advanced solar cell performed at high capacity for eight months before it was damaged during transit between laboratories.

The research appears in the June 22 issue of the journal Advanced Functional Materials.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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U.S. Accelerating Move to Cloud Computing

GAITHERSBURG, Md., June 14 (UPI) — The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology says it’s been asked to help accelerate the federal government’s move to cloud computing.

Cloud computing is an Internet-based computing system that provides shared software and information to computers and other devices in an on-demand fashion, like the electricity grid, according to Wikipedia.

U.S. Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra, who requested NIST assistance, said he views the new technology as a means of lowering the cost of government operations, driving innovation and fundamentally changing the way government delivers technology services across the board.

NIST said it’s focused on two major cloud computing efforts — one of which is a collaborative technical initiative known as the Standards Acceleration to Jumpstart Adoption of Cloud Computing. That program is intended to validate and communicate interim cloud computing specifications before they become formal standards.

Another major challenge with cloud computing is to safeguard government data in clouds, especially citizens’ private information. Agencies using cloud computing will still use NIST-developed Federal Information Security Management Act guidelines.

More information is available at http://csrc.nist.gov/groups/SNS/cloud-computing.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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