OWI Frightened Grasshopper Kit – Solar Powered

An educational robot and mini solar toy. He’s small, but he’s an attention-getter! Explore the potential of solar power with this neat science item. The Frightened Grasshopper Solar Powered Bug Teaches about forms of alternative energy. Shows how solar energy can be used to generate electricity. Illustrates how radiant energy from the sun can be transformed to electrical energy with a PV cell A motor inside the grasshopper transforms electrical energy to motion Functions best very close to a non-florescent light bulb or in direct sunlight An attention-grabbing display piece related to solar power for a science fair project, class discussion, or just out-of-the-ordinary play.

Solar Power Your Home For Dummies (For Dummies (Home & Garden))

The bestselling alternative energy reference book in North America—now in an updated edition

Want to take advantage of solar power in your home? Whether you’re looking to save on your energy costs by adding a few solar components or you want to build a solar-powered house from the ground up, Solar Power For Dummies, 2nd Edition takes the mystery out of this energy source and shows you how to put it to work for you!

This new edition gives you hands-on tips and techniques for making your home more energy-efficient though solar power—and helping the planet at the same time. Plus, you’ll get all the latest information on changes to federal, state, and local regulations, laws, and tax incentives that seek to make solar-power adoption more feasible.

  • Expanded coverage of the technology that underpins full-scale solar-power systems for the home
  • New small- and mid-sized solar products, projects, and applications
  • Rik DeGunther is a design engineer who started his own energy consulting firm

Featuring ten of the easiest and cheapest DIY solar projects, Solar Power For Dummies, 2nd Edition is the fun and easy way to meet your energy needs with this clean power source!

Green energy: Urban Green Energy does it again with ViewUGE

ViewUGE give you the controlUrban Green Energy has released the ViewUGE at CES 2012. ViewUGE is Urban Green Energy’s answer to monitoring green energy production. The ViewUGE is the online energy monitoring application that ties small wind turbines with the smart grid, perfect for those who are planning to or have installed a renewable energy system and seek a reliable, remote way to monitor their energy production.

With its clean and personalized interface, ViewUGE distinguishes itself from monitoring systems implemented in other sectors. The user experience was the key consideration during the design stage of ViewUGE and exemplifies the signature user-friendliness of all UGE products.

“At UGE, we are strong proponents of using multiple technologies to get the most out of renewable energy, and ViewUGE allows for just that in a very effective manner,” noted Scott Van Pelt, VP of Engineering at UGE.

“With ViewUGE, we are allowing our customers to track a variety of renewable energy inputs, including weather data from the Urban Green Energy 1st Step Weather Station, along with their own energy consumption. This same technology will play a pivotal role in projects utilizing our wind/solar street lamps and the Sanya Skypump, the wind powered electric vehicle charging station we launched with GE this past summer.” Mesh Systems, a leader in machine to machine (M2M) communications, collaborated with UGE in the design of ViewUGE.

With installations in approximately 60 countries, including several government agencies and Fortune 100 companies, Urban Green Energy is changing the face of distributed renewable energy generation. Urban Green Energy’s goal is to put users in control of their energy source, and is doing so by designing and manufacturing more versatile wind turbines and hybrid wind/solar systems for use in applications ranging from residential to commercial, from suburban US homeowners to off-grid telecoms towers in rural Africa.

Visit Urban Green Energy at their website http://www.urbangreenenergy.com/products/ViewUGE

ViewUGE allows you to simply and conveniently monitor in real-time the energy consumption of your home, business, or a specific area of your house! Simply connect it to an output of your breaker box to see how much energy your air conditioning has used today. Get to know your energy habits, and reduce your consumption to fully optimize your energy system today!

Carrington solar flare

And this is just in from 1859 because we all need to know why we watch for solar flares. Well, at least how we got started watching for solar flares.

Carrington solar flare
At 11:18 AM on the cloudless morning of Thursday, September 1, 1859, 33-year-old Richard Carrington—widely acknowledged to be one of England’s foremost solar astronomers—was in his well-appointed private observatory. Just as usual on every sunny day, his telescope was projecting an 11-inch-wide image of the sun on a screen, and Carrington skillfully drew the sunspots he saw.

Carrington sun spot and solar flare 1859
Carrington sun spot sketch Copyright: Royal Astronomical Society

On that morning, he was capturing the likeness of an enormous group of sunspots. Suddenly, before his eyes, two brilliant beads of blinding white light appeared over the sunspots, intensified rapidly, and became kidney-shaped. Realizing that he was witnessing something unprecedented and “being somewhat flurried by the surprise,” Carrington later wrote, “I hastily ran to call someone to witness the exhibition with me. On returning within 60 seconds, I was mortified to find that it was already much changed and enfeebled.” He and his witness watched the white spots contract to mere pinpoints and disappear.

It was 11:23 AM. Only five minutes had passed.

Just before dawn the next day, skies all over planet Earth erupted in red, green, and purple auroras so brilliant that newspapers could be read as easily as in daylight. Indeed, stunning auroras pulsated even at near tropical latitudes over Cuba, the Bahamas, Jamaica, El Salvador, and Hawaii.

Even more disconcerting, telegraph systems worldwide went haywire. Spark discharges shocked telegraph operators and set the telegraph paper on fire. Even when telegraphers disconnected the batteries powering the lines, aurora-induced electric currents in the wires still allowed messages to be transmitted.

“What Carrington saw was a white-light solar flare—a magnetic explosion on the sun,” explains David Hathaway, solar physics team lead at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

Now we know that solar flares happen frequently, especially during solar sunspot maximum. Most betray their existence by releasing X-rays (recorded by X-ray telescopes in space) and radio noise (recorded by radio telescopes in space and on Earth). In Carrington’s day, however, there were no X-ray satellites or radio telescopes. No one knew flares existed until that September morning when one super-flare produced enough light to rival the brightness of the sun itself.

“It’s rare that one can actually see the brightening of the solar surface,” says Hathaway. “It takes a lot of energy to heat up the surface of the sun!”

The explosion produced not only a surge of visible light but also a mammoth cloud of charged particles and detached magnetic loops—a “CME”—and hurled that cloud directly toward Earth. The next morning when the CME arrived, it crashed into Earth’s magnetic field, causing the global bubble of magnetism that surrounds our planet to shake and quiver. Researchers call this a “geomagnetic storm.” Rapidly moving fields induced enormous electric currents that surged through telegraph lines and disrupted communications.

Green energy bill signed into law

Mojave solar collector farm - green energyMarilyn Bechtel – When Governor Jerry Brown put his signature on Senate Bill 2X April 12, California became No. 1 in the nation in its commitment to renewable energy.

SB 2X, introduced by state Senator Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, requires all electricity retailers in California, whether privately owned or municipal, to get at least 33 percent of their electricity from clean, renewable sources such as solar, wind and geothermal, by 2020. Previous legislation called for privately owned utilities to get 20 percent of their energy from renewable sources, a goal, analysts say should be achieved by 2012.

The bill was backed by many environment, labor and health organizations, and clean energy businesses. Supporters include the California Apollo Alliance, the American Lung Association of California, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the California Pan Ethnic Health Network and the Sierra Club.

In a statement, Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) energy analyst Laura Wisland called the bill “not just a victory for California’s economy and environment, but for the whole nation.” UCS estimates that with the 33 percent law in place, California will account for over a quarter of renewable energy generated by state standards in 2020. Wisland urged the federal government to follow California’s lead.

The labor-business-environment Apollo Alliance emphasized renewable energy’s job-creating potential. Noting that California already leads the nation in the number of clean energy jobs, business and patents, the Alliance said the new law “will spur billions of new dollars of investment in clean energy and infrastructure projects that help create jobs in a state where clean-tech is already the fastest growing sector of the economy.”

The measure also got high marks from The Utilities Reform Network, which advocates for and assists utility customers. Writing on TURN’s web site, staff attorney Matt Freedman said he was glad to see the bill signed into law after “years of obstruction” from Brown’s predecessor, Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who vetoed a similar bill in 2009 and threatened to veto one last year.

“While proclaiming himself the Green Governor to audiences around the world, Schwarzenegger systematically blocked meaningful environmental progress here at home,” he said. “California is going to be much greener without him standing in the way of progress.”

Iranian Students Design, Develop Solar-Powered Car

Iranian Solar Car designed and built by studentsTEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian university students unveiled a car that runs entirely on solar energy.

The students from the vehicular research department at the University of Qazvin designed and developed the vehicle named ‘Havin’ which means ‘shining sun’.

Havin is five meters long and two meters wide and is capable of reaching speeds of over 130 kilometers (80 miles) per hour.

The students unveiled the fiber glass vehicle at the Tehran Permanent International Fairground on Thursday.

The vehicle weighs 160 kilograms (352 lb.) and is fitted with six square meters of silicon solar cells.

The environmentally-friendly project comes in line with Iran’s greater policy to reduce energy consumption across all sectors.

China Buries Obama’s Goal for Renewable Green Energy Use

Green energy- Solar power above vertical-axis wind turbine(Bloomberg-Ben Sills) – China is beating the U.S. in the race to supply clean-energy technologies to the world, helped by a government bank whose advisers include Henry Kissinger.

China Development Bank Corp., which listed the former U.S. secretary of state as an advisory board member in a 2010 bond prospectus, agreed last year to lend 232 billion yuan ($35.4 billion) to Chinese wind and solar power companies. The U.S. gave about $4 billion to their American competitors in grants and offered about $16 billion of loan guarantees. Adding in private investment, China also led.

CDB, which has almost twice the assets of the World Bank, is matching U.S. expertise with Chinese financing and manufacturing prowess to dominate a market both nations say is critical to their future. Chinese solar-panel makers such as LDK Solar Co. Ltd. were the biggest loan recipients and for the first time last year supplied more than half the global market, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which begins its annual conference today in New York.

“What China’s doing is really smart,” said Jon Anda, vice chairman of UBS AG’s securities unit in Stamford, Connecticut. “Without a clear policy path, we’ll get crushed.”

President Barack Obama said in January his country needs another “Sputnik moment” to wean itself of foreign oil. The U.S. had just slipped to third place behind China and Germany in a ranking of nations funding renewable power in 2010 as Republicans in Congress blocked the White House’s energy spending plans, according to a ranking by New Energy Finance.

U.S. Versus China

In addition to the $35.4 billion CDB pledged in corporate loans, state and private interests sank $54.4 billion into Chinese equity and project debt for clean-energy companies last year, up from $39.1 billion in 2009, according to the research company. In the U.S., which led the ranking in 2008, $34 billion was invested, trailing Germany’s $41.2 billion.

“The danger for the U.S. is that by the time it wakes up, in place of the levy it currently pays to oil despots, it will pay a levy to overseas clean-energy companies,” New Energy Finance Chief Executive Officer Michael Liebreich said.

CDB sold 673 billion yuan of debt to investors in 2009, according to the bank’s annual report. The bank that year loaned 635 billion yuan. Clean-energy loans constituted about 28 percent of all lending, according to Vandana Gombar, a New Energy Finance analyst.

Kissinger, Keating

CBD cited Kissinger as part of its 15-member advisory board alongside former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating and former American International Group Inc. Chairman Maurice ‘Hank’ Greenberg in its October prospectus to sell yuan-denominated bonds in Hong Kong.

Jessica Leporin, Kissinger’s New York-based spokeswoman, didn’t respond to voice and e-mail messages seeking comment. A person in Greenberg’s office who said she was his assistant and wouldn’t give her name declined to comment. CDB officials didn’t respond to messages left by telephone and fax.

The bank’s chairman is Chen Yuan, a former vice-chairman of the central bank whose father was a politburo member under Deng Xiaoping, the Chinese leader who died in 1997. The son “has always been very interested in bringing in ideas from outside,” said Erica Downs, a China specialist at the Brookings Institution in Washington. “It has to do with this desire to be a world-class institution.”

China’s state-driven investment hasn’t always paid off. Chairman Chen faced criticism from the Chinese media and the public when London-based lender Barclays Plc fell as much as 93 percent following his 2.2 billion-euro investment in July 2007.

Still, CDB’s 35.3 billion-yuan profit in 2010 exceeded Morgan Stanley’s and its own 30.2 billion-yuan net in 2009.

‘Leapfrog the U.S.’

“They intend to leapfrog the U.S. in these technologies,” Will Coleman, a partner at Menlo Park, California-based Mohr Davidow Ventures, told the Senate Energy Committee on March 17. “If we don’t move forward urgently, I’m concerned that we will not only cede the current opportunity, but we’ll lose the knowledge and the experience necessary to compete.”

Obama is struggling to win support for his energy policy. The Republican-controlled House passed a budget proposal in February that will cut 2012 funds for the Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy programs by 35 percent to $1.5 billion, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. The president proposed almost twice that amount.

“We’ve run into the same political gridlock, the same inertia that has held us back for decades,” Obama said during a speech at Georgetown University in Washington last week when he set a goal to cut U.S. oil imports by a third.

Space Race

In his Jan. 25 State of the Union address, Obama said the U.S. must “reach a level of research and development we haven’t seen since the height of the space race.”

Green energy- Solar power above vertical-axis wind turbineAfter the Soviet Union in 1957 launched the beach ball- sized Sputnik, the first man-made satellite, President Dwight Eisenhower set up the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to energize the space program and take the lead from the Soviets. President John F. Kennedy set the goal of landing a man on the moon, and by 1965 NASA’s annual budget reached the equivalent of $37 billion in 2011 dollars.

China will invest about twice that in clean-energy projects each year for a decade in a 5 trillion-yuan program aimed at steering the economy away from fossil fuels, under a five-year plan announced last month. CDB loans are expanding the manufacturing base, driving down the cost of the renewable- energy equipment it exports.

CDB’s lending to the clean-energy industry rose 32 percent last year as it granted a five-year $9.1 billion credit line to LDK Solar, the world’s largest maker of solar wafers. The bank also loaned $7.6 billion to Suntech Power Holdings Co. and $5.5. billion to Yingli Green Energy Holding Co., according to New Energy Finance data.

The loans will allow China’s solar companies to sell more cheaply than global competitors by developing less-expensive panels and will protect them from hedge funds that are shorting their shares, said Antony Froggatt, a senior research fellow on the energy and environment at Chatham House, a London-based policy adviser.

“It gives them a competitive edge which we don’t have,” Andreas Wiltsdorf, head of sales for the German solar-panel maker Conergy AG, said in an interview in London. “Speak to the Chinese guys here, and they say, ‘We have such cheap loans from the state — Easy!’”

–With assistance from Alex Morales in London and Feifei Shen in Beijing. Editors: Todd White, Reed Landberg

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To contact the reporter on this story: Ben Sills in Madrid at bsills@bloomberg.net
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at landberg@bloomberg.net

Largest Photovoltaic Solar Plant In Colorado Now Open

Solar panels in Colorado in the snowSunPower, a solar panel manufacturer, and Xcel Energy, a utility provider, have announced the completion of one solar facility and the construction of another in Colorado’s Alamosa County. The Greater Sandhill solar power plant, a 19 megawatt photovoltaic system, was completed and commissioned this March.

Greater Sandhill is now generating enough power to serve almost 5,000 homes each year when at capacity. The solar power plant began construction in the summer of 2010, and is said to have created 100 jobs in the area during its development. SunPower is using its proprietary solar tracking system at the plant, which it claims can generate up to 25% more energy than conventional systems by titling panels towards the sun as it moves across the sky.

Also under development from SunPower is another solar power plant in Alamosa County. Calling the project the San Luis Valley Solar Ranch, the system will be a 30 megawatt photovoltaic solar power facility built on 216 acres of private land that is expected to be completed late this year.

Alamosa County seems to be a bit of a solar hotbed in Colorado, as we recently reported on Morrison Construction’s project in the area. Colorado as well is taking greater steps to be green, being one of the top states in terms of energy efficiency, along with building efficiency upgrades at local schools and a historic courthouse.

Wind and Solar Could Supply 25 Percent of Oahu’s Electricity

Solar Power in Hawaii is taking off
Solar Power in Hawaii is taking off

by Joshua S Hill – “The findings of this study show it is feasible to integrate large-scale wind and solar projects on Oahu but also have value beyond Hawaii. Both large mainland utilities and relatively small and/or isolated grids that wish to integrate significant amounts of renewable energy while maintaining reliability for their customers can learn from this study,” said Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (HNEI) director Dr. Rick Rocheleau, regarding a study which shows that 500 MW of wind energy and 100 MW of solar power could supply more than 25 percent of Oahu’s projected electricity demand.

The Oahu Wind Integration Study (OWIS) was conducted by Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (HNEI) at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, General Electric (GE) Company, and the Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO).

Oahu Wind Integration Study Findings

The study found that the combined 600 MW of renewable energy could eliminate the need for approximately 2.8 million barrels of low sulphur fuel oil and 132,000 tonnes of coal each year, while still maintaining a reliable system, if the following recommendations are incorporated:

  •  Provide state-of-the-art wind power forecasting to help anticipate the amount of power that will be available from wind;
  •  Increase power reserves (the amount of power that can be called upon from operating generators) to help manage wind variability and uncertainty in wind power forecasts;
  •  Reduce minimum stable operating power of baseload generating units to provide more power reserves;
  •  Increase ramp rates (the time it takes to increase or decrease output) of Hawaiian Electric’s thermal generating units;
  •  Implement severe weather monitoring to ensure adequate power generation is available during periods of higher wind power variability;
  •  Evaluate other resources capable of contributing reserve, such as fast-starting thermal generating units and load control programs.

“To reach our renewable energy goals we need to use all the resources available to us. For Oahu, this includes the utility-scale solar, roof-top solar, waste-to-energy and on-island wind that we are pursuing. But on-island resources are not enough to meet Oahu’s power needs,” said Hawaiian Electric executive vice president Robbie Alm.

“We know that more solar power is possible on Oahu than was studied by the OWIS. However, this baseline study is an essential first step for the Interisland Wind Project. It shows that the technology may present challenges but these can be overcome. The questions now are financing, environmental impact and whether the affected communities can live with the project with community benefits.”

The wind energy not produced on Oahu would be brought in from Molokai and Lanai.

Cuts to DOE Loan Program Could Set Back U.S. Solar Industry

Rueters-Maria Gallucci: Solar companies are warning that if Congress kills two major Department of Energy funding programs this spring, the country would squander the opportunity to exploit recent breakthroughs in solar energy development.

For Tenaska Solar Ventures in Omaha, Neb., a cut in DOE loan guarantees could mean losing two planned solar plants in Southern California, which in turn would halt operations at a new manufacturing facility for solar parts.

“It would kill off a number of projects that otherwise would have been created,” Tenaska spokesperson Bart Ford told SolveClimate News.

Through its CSOLAR Development subsidiary, the firm plans to supply 130 megawatts of photovoltaic (PV) capacity from its Imperial Solar Energy Center (ISEC) South project.

A second 150-megawatt project at its ISEC West location would triple the amount of concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) capacity that research consultancy Strategy Analytics expects to be installed in the U.S. this year.

The facility is the largest power station of its kind to be announced worldwide, with potentially enough capacity to serve 55,000 California homes.

CPV currently accounts for 0.1 percent of the total domestic PV market, as the relatively new technology slowly begins to compete with traditional lower-cost silicon PV projects.

The technology, which is best suited to extremely sunny areas, uses optical lenses to concentrate sunlight onto high-efficiency solar cells. The panels are mounted on tracking systems to follow the movements of the sun’s rays.

Ford said that both projects have secured 25-year power purchase agreements from San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), and that pricing for the deals was based on receiving credit subsidies.

He declined to disclose the total costs of the projects or the amount of DOE funding on the table, explaining only that, “If the loan guarantee goes away, then likely our solar projects go away.”

Solar Surged in 2010 From Loan Guarantees

The DOE loan guarantees encourage investment in risky, innovative energy projects by ensuring financial institutions and project developers that the government will cover loans they cannot pay back.

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