Last week was a busy and eventful one for the solar energy industry as market participants from across the U.S., and around the world, gathered in Anaheim, Calif. for the Department of Energy’s (DOE) “SunShot Grand Challenge Summit 2014.” Among the highlights: The Energy Department launched a $1 million solar “soft costs” innovation crowdsourcing contest and $10 million in R&D funding for six thermochemical energy storage projects.
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The Hanwha solar profile will dominate the diversified company’s public image, thanks to a solar makeover for its Seoul headquarters.
Energy use in commercial buildings accounts for 17 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions at a cost of more than $100 billion per year, according to the EPA.
Rather than fight over limited outlets and drive up electric bills, a few innovative companies are finding ways to offer renewable, free solar energy charging stations for community use.
Concentrating solar power is poised on the cusp of a major advance as the goal of integrating grid-scale thermal energy storage appears within reach. Aiming to keep the momentum going, the DOE released a new CSP industry report and announced $10 million in new R&D funding to develop cheaper and more efficient thermal energy storage technology.
“Vehicles capable of being charged directly from the road during operation could become the next pioneering step in the development towards reduced environmental impact,” says Volvo Group’s Niklas Gustavsson.
SPECIAL SERIES: Sustainably Attired
Fast fashion has become the hundred-billion dollar industry it is today on a very simple premise: As consumers, on face value, we will always chose the similarly styled $10 T-shirt over the $25 T-shirt. It’s unfortunately not that cut and dry.
Looking to replicate the success it has had in the U.S., the partnership with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and Global Environment Facility (GEF) will enable Cleantech Open to scale-up its startup accelerator programs geometrically as it expands across six countries whose economies are in transition.
The brick is the basic building block of architecture, popular because it is modular, has a simple design and is both easy to make and use. In fact, the humble brick is used in over 80 percent of global construction, according to architect-turned-scientist Ginger Krieg Dosier. But this classic building material has a heavy environmental toll, Dosier said in a June 2013 TEDx Talk: It is estimated that annual global brick production releases 800 million tons of carbon pollution each year. Inspired by strong natural structures like seashells since she was a child, Dosier invented a process that uses bacteria to “grow” bricks and releases virtually no carbon emissions.
Southwest has undertaken to partner with Project for Public Spaces in a new ”placemaking” program called Heart of the Community. The program works with city planners and community members to create places that are special in a way that will invite people to linger and commune, which will, in turn, raise the value of the community and the quality of life for those who live in it.
Environmental concerns have hindered construction of utility-scale concentrating solar (aka solar thermal) power plants, but Chile’s environmental ministry has approved Abengoa’s 110-MW Cerro Dominador CSP project. Cerro Dominador will not only be the largest CSP facility in South America, but also the first to supply solar-generated electricity 24 hours a day, seven days a week.