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Swell Actuated Reverse Osmosis System – SAROS

Wave powered desalination

Swell Actuated Reverse Osmosis System – SAROS

Desalination on a small scale is being testing using a low-cost device powered by ocean waves. It can produce enough water per day to be useful in emergencies or to provide water to small communities, plus it is small and completely self-sufficient. “Small scale desalination for people who really need it,” says a co-developer in the video. It will sell for about $23,000 and can produce upwards of 2,000 gallons of water per day. It is deliberately designed so users can make any needed adjustments using just a wrench.

Called the Swell Actuated Reverse Osmosis System – SAROS for short – it uses high-pressure pumps powered by the vertical motion of waves to remove salt from ocean water, making it fit for human consumption. The founders believe SAROS could be used to address fresh water shortages in coastal areas, island communities, and after natural disasters when regular water purification systems are disrupted.

“It’s never going to be something that’s going to make tons of money, but we just want to see it make tons of water,” Sonnett says.

Posted in Energy, Water0 Comments

From 32 to 4 since late July. Could easily drop to 2.

SunEdison, huge renewable energy developer, faces bankruptcy

From 32 to 4 since late July. Could easily drop to 2.

From 32 to 4 since late July. Could drop to 2.

Crushing amounts of debt are pummeling SunEdison, the biggest renewable energy developer in the world. Hedge funds, who used to favor the company, are dumping the stock, accelerating SunEdison’s problems. There is an unfortunate misconception that renewable energy companies are so wonderfully squeaky green clean that they are immune from Wall Street and financial machinations. SunEdison shows this quaint notion to be false.

Their dicey business plan was based on their stock always going higher, a “strategy” that always works until it doesn’t.

SunEdison was built to be a development company that would then sell wind and solar projects to its captive yieldcos. The yieldcos would buy projects (at a premium to what the market might pay) and finance them through a combination of new debt and equity, predicated on the idea that the cost of new capital would be lower than the cost of capital of the projects they were buying from SunEdison. This would help the yieldcos grow earnings and dividends, which theoretically would keep the stock price high. In theory, this could go on for many years.

All of this is a great idea but it falls apart once stock prices fall.

Well no, it’s not a great plan at all because only a fool or a charlatan says stock prices will go up for ever. Banksters were of course happy to jump in and pump up the stock price, but when the big money exits all at once, look out below.

SunEdison may be a bankruptcy candidate

With its business model falling apart, SunEdison needs a savior to finance both projects and its future operations. But that’s not going to come from hedge funds that are abandoning the company or yieldcos that now have such high yields that they can’t buy projects.

Posted in Banksters, Energy0 Comments

World Climate Summit. Paris 2015

US says Paris Climate Treaty not legally binding

World Climate Summit. Paris 2015

As is usual before a major climate treaty talk, the US begins to hedge and evade. Oh sure, we talk a great game about being squeaky-green with plentiful renewable energy and lowered carbon emissions. But when it comes time to make an international treaty, well, then the US says it’s not really a treaty thus not legally binding or openly sabotages the talks, as happened with Kyoto.

So now we have our usual charade of pretending to be very earnest about preventing climate change while insuring we don’t actually have to do anything about it. This may be done out of obstinacy — we are so marvelously Exceptional we don’t need others telling us what to do — or because the fix is in from the usual corporate suspects and their lobbyists. It’s probably a mixture of both.

[Hollande and Obama emphasized] their personal commitment to reach an “ambitious and durable” treaty to avert the worst effects of global warming, the White House said.

The call came a day after Hollande and France’s foreign minister responded to comments by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who said Wednesday that the December agreement in Paris was “definitely not going to be a treaty.”

Kerry also said the text would not set “legally binding reduction targets.”

Hollande is not happy about Kerry’s evasion.

“If the agreement is not legally binding, there won’t be an agreement, because that would mean it would be impossible to verify or control the undertakings that are made,” Hollande said.

And that is precisely what the US wants.

Posted in Energy0 Comments

Lower Austria Verbund-Hydropower

Largest state in Austria now 100% renewable energy

Lower Austria Verbund-Hydropower

Lower Austria Verbund Hydropower

Lower Austria, the largest state in Austria with 1.65 million people, now gets 100% of its power from renewable sources. The sources of the power may be surprising to some. They are 63% hydropower, 26% wind, 9% biomass, and 2% solar.

The Danube River provides most of the renewable energy. Hydropower is still the king of renewable energy by far, both worldwide and in the US.

In 2014, renewable energy accounted for 13 percent of the total net electricity generated in the United States. Hydropower accounted for 48 percent of that total. The states with the largest hydroelectric generation are Washington, California, New York, Oregon and Alabama

For apparent political reasons, California does not count big hydro as renewable energy but does include small hydro. Go figure. Yes, big dams can create environmental problems (so can small ones.) However big hydro produces prodigious amounts of energy at low cost, as does so 24/7 as long as there is sufficient water. Drought is not a problem in Austria.

The focus on clean energy isn’t just good for the environment, either. According to the report, Lower Austria has created some 38,000 ‘green jobs’ thanks to its heavy investments in renewable energy production, and the state aims to up this to 50,000 positions by 2030. The rest of Austria is also remarkably invested in renewables, with 75 percent of the country’s electricity coming from clean energy.

Posted in Energy, Water0 Comments

Advanced Rail Energy Storage

Robot train in Nevada will generate energy like a Prius

Advanced Rail Energy Storage

An innovative system in Nevada for generating energy on demand to stabilize the grid when needed will use the railroad equivalent of pumped hydro, which uses excess renewable energy top pump water uphill into a reservoir, where it is released as needed to power turbines. Similarly, surplus power will be used to send a robot train 5.5 miles up a steep grade. When energy is needed, the trains are sent downhill, creating power via the braking system.

As surplus power from such renewable projects comes in, it will be used to push an automated shuttle train up the hill. Then when electricity is needed on the grid, the train will be sent back down the hill, generating power through its braking system as it goes.

“It’s like a Prius,” said Francesca Cava, the Santa Barbara, Calif.-based vice president of operations for ARES.

Advanced Rail Energy Storage

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Cooled liquid energy storage is economically viable


Energy can be stored many ways, the most common being in batteries. Concentrated Solar Power projects store excess heat from the sun in molten salt to power turbines at night. Pumped hydro uses excess energy to pump water uphill into a holding reservoir to be released when needed to turn the turbines. Using cheap power to cool liquids at night cuts costs for air conditioning during the day.

Ice Energy and CALMAC are leaders in cooled energy storage. Both have been profitable for years. CALMAC helps big buildings cut peak electricity costs while Ice Energy works with utilities and it paid by them for storing energy and turning off A/C compressors and using the stored cooling instead.These systems are designed for large buildings and can be retrofitted into existing systems.

Margins are good for the two dominant providers of cooled liquid storage, which uses low-priced nighttime electricity to freeze or cool a liquid and then utilizes the chilled liquid to help offset electric air conditioning loads when power prices peak during the day.

“We are generally earning margins in the 25% to 30% range and that is unusual in the storage industry,” said Ice Energy CEO Mike Hopkins. “For most of the companies, especially in the lithium ion space, the cost is not competitive yet and they have to price their product at no margin.”


Ice Energy

Posted in Energy0 Comments

Hywind Scotland

World’s largest floating windfarm gets ok in Scotland

Hywind Scotland

Hywind Scotland will begin building what will become the world’s largest floating offshore wind farm. The initial pilot project will consist of five turbines generating 30 MW, capable of powering nearly 20,000 homes.The wind farm will be 12 miles offshore, presumably far enough out that NIMBYs with delicate sensibilities will not be able to complain about it.

Floating turbines can be sited in deeper water, further offshore, where fixed turbines can not be. Thus, once the technology becomes mature and tested, floating offshore wind turbines can be installed around the planet and will be cost-competitive with carbon-based electricity

The development, known as Hywind Scotland, differs from conventional offshore windfarms by using turbines attached to the seabed by a three-point mooring spread and anchoring system. The turbines are interconnected by cables, one of which exports electricity from the pilot farm to the shore at Peterhead.

Research from the Carbon Trust has suggest that floating wind concepts could potentially reduce generating costs for offshore developments.

Last month the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) released a report indicating that floating offshore wind could be a credible, cost-effective form of low-carbon energy for the UK by the mid-2020’s.

Posted in Energy, Wind turbines0 Comments

Crescent Dunes CSP plant, Tonopah

Tonopah NV solar plant generates power at night

Crescent Dunes CSP plant, Tonopah

The Crescent Dunes Concentrated Solar Power plant 200 miles northwest of Las Vegas in Tonopah is now coming online. Unlike photovoltaic, CSP solar plants can store energy and thus generate power at night. 10,347 tracking mirrors, each about the size of a billboard, reflect the sun’s heat to the Crescent Dunes central tower to heat molten salt which powers turbines. The molten salt can also be stored and used to power the turbines for ten hours at full load at night. Thus, so long as the sun has shone that day in the Nevada desert, which it usually has, Crescent Dunes can produce electricity at night.

The Tonopah plant is next-gen CSP. Dry cooling technology minimizes water use, since the water is in a closed system, converted to steam then back to water over and over. Other CSP plants can store power, however none can do it as for as long as Crescent Dunes. This could be a game changer.

The facility still isn’t fully operational, but Painter said it is now in the final stages of startup. By early next year, he expects it to be delivering full power to NV Energy, which has agreed to buy the plant’s entire load at 13.5 cents per kilowatt hour — roughly twice the cost of power from a natural-gas fueled plant — for 25 years.

“We’re stepping through territory that’s never been stepped through,” Painter said. “We’re just being very cautious of how we bring it online.”

Solar Reserve, based in Santa Monica, explains how their molten salt system works.

Molten salt is circulated through highly specialized piping in the receiver (heat exchanger) during the day, and held in storage tanks at night – requiring no fossil fuels.

The tanks store the salt at atmospheric pressure.

Use of molten salt for both heat transfer and thermal energy storage minimizes number of storage tanks and salt volumes needed.

Molten salt is stored at 1050F until electricity is needed – day or night, whether or not the sun is shining.

As electricity is needed, molten salt is dispatched from the hot tank through a heat exchanger to create super-heated steam which then powers a conventional steam turbine.

The molten salt never needs replacing or topping up for the entire 30+ year life of the plant.

Heat loss is only 1F per day.

The salt, an environmentally friendly mixture of sodium nitrate and potassium nitrate, is able to be utilized as high grade fertilizer when the plant is eventually decommissioned.


Posted in Energy, Solar power0 Comments

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Renewable crude oil from algae

Manta Biofuel LLC just got $150,000 in seed money to develop a next-gen autonomous, algae harvester that will produce cost-competitive oil as well as clean up algae-invested waters. It’s a double win. I really hope this scales commercially because it’s a great idea. Pond scum can be your friend.

From their website:

Growing algae is relatively simple. As long as there are enough nutrients and sunlight, algae will grow rapidly. Since our technology allows us to harvest any algae, we can utilize the native colonies and natural blooms.

Our portable, floating harvesters rely on solar power, autonomously navigate through the waters and collect algae, utilizing our novel technology.

The collected algal biomass is converted to crude oil by being subjected to high temperature and pressure, in a process called hydrothermal liquefaction.

The oil produced is largely equivalent to petroleum and can be used as a drop in replacement at the refinery level. The fuels produced from this product are renewable and carbon neutral.

Posted in Energy0 Comments

Nokero solar light

Nokero solar light, great for camping, hiking more

Nokero solar light

The Nokero solar light charges during the day and provides fifteen hours of light on low and six hours on high. It comes with a stand, can be clipped on a backpack or inside a tent, and also be used as a handheld flashlight. The top swivels. Expose the solar panels during the day to charge it. Turn at night to use the light. The Nokero solar light is highly useful for backpacking. Most importantly, it can be used in areas with unstable or no electricity. Hang it outside during the day. Use it at night. Pricing is quite reasonable; $17.99 for one, $59.99 for eight, $249.99 for sixty.

Nokeros is based in Colorado. Their name means “No kerosene”

The Nokero N233 is perfect for camping, backpacking, emergency lighting, and other off-grid lighting. It is bright enough for reading, working or lighting up a tent and runs up to 15 hours after just a day’s charge. It is designed and tested here in our home state of Colorado and will withstand years of daily use in the world’s harshest conditions.

Posted in Energy0 Comments


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