Not only will atomic power be released, but someday we will harness the rise and fall of the tides and imprison the rays of the sun. Thomas A. Edison

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

San Diego Scientists Growing Algae As Next Alternative Fuel

KGTV Channel 10 reports that San Diego has become a center of renewable energy research in the field of algae fuel. Southern California receives a great deal of sunlight, required for aggressive algae growth. Nearby Imperial Valley provides cheap, non-arable land for production. Algae growth requires relatively little water, a good fit for a desert operation.

There is another benefit to algae-based fuel. The entire process is carbon neutral. The formation of algae involves photosynthesis, which converts carbon dioxide into oxygen and stored energy. The resulting oil is refined in the same way as crude oil from wells. Fuel products are very close to the refined products that the consuming public is accustomed to. Once burned, the same carbon is released into the atmosphere as opposed to bringing up fresh carbon from underground. The cycle repeats.

You can read the entire article from KGTV 10 news by clicking here.

Bacterial Breakthrough Could Lead to Cheap, Renewable Bio-Batteries

By Loren Grush
Published May 23, 2011

You may not think twice about what goes down the drain in your toilet. But soon, what you're flushing away could turn on the lights in your home.

This unique take on recycling comes from a substantial discovery concerning the way in which bacteria transfer electrical charges -- and it could lead to the development of “bio-batteries” or bacteria-fueled electrodes. Eventually, these fuel cells could take human or animal waste and convert it into usable energy.

“The exciting thing is that we really never understood how the electrons were getting on the surface,” Dr. Tom Clarke, one of the lead researchers on the project from the University of East Anglia, told “What happens in this process is that bacteria take in organic carbon molecules and ‘chew’ them inside the cell, which then releases electrons.”

The project -- funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the U.S. Department of Energy -- has revealed how the microscopic molecular structure of bacteria proteins allows for energy transfer.

Multiple layers of proteins inside bacteria essentially act as the cell’s organic power lines, enabling electrons produced within the bacteria to be transferred to the bacteria’s surface. Now that scientists understand what’s happening on the surface, they will be able to produce a cell that can connect to the bacteria.

Then the bacteria can feed off the electrode, and in return, generate electrons.

The process is called iron respiration, but the researchers have colloquially dubbed it "breathing rocks."

“Bacteria have a whole different arsenal of things to breathe other than just oxygen. They can breathe on mineral oxides, so this process of bacteria sitting on rocks and breathing rocks can be applied to electrodes. Bacteria can breathe on the electrodes and produce electrons.”

There have been attempts to harness electricity on the surface of bacteria before, but lacking the knowledge discovered in this project, only small amounts of energy were able to be obtained. Now sizable amounts of electricity can be put towards practical use.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Reuters reports on solar panel leases.

Buying systems to generate alternative energy is expensive. Before the housing bubble burst, many were able to obtain a second mortgage or restructure their existing one to come up with the cash to purchase and install solar panels. Either way, you had to borrow money to install.

Caleb Denison reported on May 13, 2011 that solar leasing is a growing trend for homeowners and small businesses. As Denison states: “A solar lease can provide a path toward solar energy integration for home and small business owners that might otherwise be unable to make such an investment. In this article we'll take a look at what is involved in a solar lease, how some of these programs work and discuss one solar energy company's recent adoption of solar leases and how it integrate these programs into its business model.”

To read the Reuters article, click here.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Pasquotank County planning board to consider wind farm

From the Virginian-Pilot:
May 7, 2011

The Pasquotank County Planning Council will meet next week to consider a permit application for a large-scale wind farm.

The Daily Advance of Elizabeth City reports the council will meet Wednesday to discuss an application from companies involved in the Desert Wind Energy Project. The project was approved by the North Carolina Utilities Commission on Tuesday.

About 80 of the project's 150 wind turbines would go in Pasquotank. The rest of the 475-foot turbines would be in neighboring Perquimans County.

Most of the 20,000 acres in the project would remain farmland. The project is expected to generate up to 300 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 70,000 homes a year.

Local officials estimate construction of the facilities could create 300 temporary jobs and pay about $1 million a year to local landowners. The company building and operating the turbines, Iberdrola Renewables, said it expects to employ about two dozen people to manage the wind farm once it is built.

From Rubble to Sustainable Energy, the Story of Greensburg

The recent rash of tornados that ripped through much of the South reminds us of the awesome destructive power that is contained in these storms. I grew up in Nebraska. I’ve seen first-hand funnel clouds darting across the prairie. It is not uncommon to see stalks of straw driven completely through telephone poles.

Yet, power of wind can be reclaimed to remake a community devastated by these powerful twisters. The link below tells the story of Greensburg, Kansas. This small farming community was the unlucky recipient of the first tornado classified EF-5, the most powerful level of cyclone (greater than 210 mph).

Using mostly reclaimed materials and a great deal of determination, Greensburg is the greenest town in the United States. Their community has a 10-turbine wind farm generating 12 megawatts of electricity. There are more geothermal wells per capita than anywhere on earth. All city buildings are LEED Platinum certified (the highest energy efficiency certification available) and the brick used was reclaimed from the conventional power station destroyed by the storm in 2007.

Get the whole story by clicking here.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Israeli Company Sees Future In Floating Solar Panels

Photo-voltaic (PV) arrays offer a variety of attractive features. They are quiet, reliable, and durable.

They also have some drawbacks. Tree, buildings, and terrain can conspire to hide the sun. Heat buildup under the array reduces PV efficiency. The arrays add structural and wind stress to the supporting roof. The roofline may not be oriented to provide optimal surface area to the sun and may not be of sufficient surface area to provide adequate power for the home. Finally (my favorite), roof-mounted PV arrays provide the perfect hiding place for your kid’s Frisbee.

The article below reports that an Israeli company, Solaris Synergy (, has developed a scalable, floating array that takes advantage of large bodies of water. A floating array has the advantage of an unobstructed view of the sky. Further, the water serves to cool the array by dissipating heat, increasing efficiency.

The following article can be found at Israel National News,

by Gavriel Queenann

Israel's Solaris Synergy is one of the companies to see a future in floating solar panels, Green Economy reports.

Such panels would float on agricultural and mining ponds, hydroelectric reservoirs and canals, and similar locations.

In addition to being an efficient use of space, floating solar panels have other economic benefits attached. First, they minimize the use of steel, which is the main cost in the production of land-based panels. Second, the water's cooling effect can increase electricity production over typical ground-mounted systems. And third, a solar system floating on water also reduces water evaporation 70%, while inhibiting destructive algae growth by blocking sunlight on the water.
Solaris engineers say such systems can produce up to 2 MW of electricity per mile.

Solaris has installed its first live floating concentrated photovoltaic (F-CPV) system connected to the Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) grid. The system is based at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies' Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation located on Kibbutz Ketura, 30 kilometers north of Eilat.

The project is part of Capital Nature Experimentum, a verification and inspection center for new technologies developed by renewable energy companies.

"This installation is a milestone for us," Solaris Synery CEO Yossi Fisher said. "We're confident that it's just the first of many future Solaris implementations in Israel and throughout the world."

Solaris Synergy also plans to float a solar array on a reservoir in the south of France in a trial with French utility EDF.