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Solar Battery Revolution – Who Will Capture the Market?

Solar Battery Revolution – Who Will Capture the Market?

By Guest Blogger Clive Rollison

Given Deutsche Bank’s prediction that the solar energy market will reach $5 trillion by 2030, the continued growth of this successful industry depends on a viable solar battery. With Elon Musk’s Tesla, Mercedes-Benz and various startups, all challenging to create an effective solar battery, it only remains to be seen; who will capture the market?

 

Why are Solar Batteries so important?

So why is an effective solar battery so important to the renewable energy industry? Essentially, solar batteries will enable houses to harvest and store energy generated by solar panels during the day, using it to power up during peak times when generation is low, such as evenings.

Whilst the concept of renewable energy storage may not be new, we are at the beginning of a new era that could revolutionize the way we power our houses, businesses and potentially, the whole planet. In storing energy during off-peak hours of the day, solar batteries will enable houses to run independently of the power grid, with the potential to save us vast amounts of money.

 

The possibilities of domestic and business solar batteries are astounding. Not only is such cutting-edge technology a great economic investment, it ultimately aims to shift the planet away from dependence on fossil fuels as our main power source. In this sense it could be the defining factor in the United States’ pledge to cut its greenhouse gasses by “26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025”; and similarly, the European Union’s pledge of 40% by 2040. And in addition, the potential impact could be groundbreaking in developing countries, especially in areas that do not have easy access to grid electricity.

 

Who’s in the market?

Since Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors unveiled plans for their Tesla Powerwall at the end of April, Tesla has generated a wave of excitement across the industry. Declaring itself an “energy innovation company”, Tesla sees itself as a critical player in the mission to “enable a zero emission power generation”.

A wall-mounted lithium-ion electric battery for homes and small businesses, the Powerwall will measure in at 33 inches wide and 51 inches tall. It comes in either a 7-kilowatt per hour (kWh) daily cycle model, or a 10 kWh model, which cost $3,000 and $3,500 respectively. Moreover, consumers will be able to stack up to nine Powerwalls, providing up to 90 kWh of energy – some three times more than the average daily electricity consumption of U.S. residential utility customers. Tesla is also developing a higher capacity version designed for utility-scale use – the Powerpack.

Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz is also making progress in the industry with the announcement of its personal energy cell that holds 2.5 kWh of energy. Similar to the Powerwall that can be stacked to increase output, up to eight of these lithium-ion cells can be combined to hold 20 kWh of energy. Although prices are yet to be announced, Mercedes-Benz has opened an customer interest registration service on their website, though only available at the moment in Germany.

Aside from the aforementioned automobile corporations, various start-ups have had great success in the launching of similar lithium-ion batteries. Most notable is London based start-up Powervault. A product “designed with British people in mind”, the Powervault can store 2-4 kWh, and is priced at  £2,000-£2,800 ($3,110 – $4,350). Managing director, Joe Warren, aims to cut the cost to a modest £1,000 ($1,550).

Additionally, Ecotricity is set to trial the ‘Black Box’ energy storage system that will take houses on and off the power grid to avoid peak time usage.

 

Who will come out on top?

Tesla looks set to dominate a large part of the market with all planned units sold out until mid-2016. It has commissioned the building of the Gigafactory in Nevada, where it aims to produce 500,000 lithium-ion batteries annually, giving Tesla Motors a huge advantage over its competitors.

Despite such ambitions and early success, Tesla faces challenges in sustaining its market position due to the high cost of its product and its availability. This opens great opportunity for its competitors, including start-ups, to control smaller-scale markets. With plans to sell 50,000 units by 2020 through solar installers, it is clear that Powervault has its sights firmly on securing the British market.

With the price of lithium batteries predicted to fall, Deutsche Bank estimates that it could take only another five to ten years before we see wide scale adoption of solar batteries. We are clearly at the beginning of a new era in solar energy. Let’s hope the sun keeps shining!

 

About The Author

Clive Rollison is passionate about cutting costs for homeowners and businesses through renewable energy technology. His company, Complete Renewables, is the leading installer of solar panels in Essex, UK.

 

Source: Green Tech News

Tesla Powerwall Technology – Assault on Batteries

Tesla Powerwall Technology – Assault on Batteries

 

A couple of months ago, Tesla Motors announced an ambitious new technology—the Tesla Powerwall, which is a battery that can power up homes. The idea is that houses could harvest and store energy generated by solar panels during the day and use it to power up at night or during a power outage. The goal of the company is to fundamentally change the way the world uses energy.

 

The Basics of the Technology

The Powerwall is a home-based battery pack that is designed to store up to 10 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of power. So, if a hair dryer consumes about 1 kW to run while a stove takes more, the new technology could power a home for several hours. Simply put, it comes in 10 kWh weekly and 7 kWh daily cycle models, but can be installed in multiple units for houses with greater energy requirements.

The boxes, which are about 33 inches wide, 51 inches tall and 7 inches deep, are carefully designed to be easily installed and connected to the Internet so users can monitor their energy usage.

Aside from the Tesla Powerwall, the company is also planning to introduce a battery storage system for businesses called the Powerpack, though the price for this related technology has not been released yet.

 

Relevance to Tesla’s Proven Automotive Battery Technology

The Powerwall could be similar to the technology found in the company’s Model S car. It has been presumed that the vehicle uses a particular type of lithium-ion battery of which one layer—the cathode—is composed of a mixture of nickel, cobalt oxide and manganese. Lithium ions are interfused throughout this layer, and when the battery is charged, these ions are driven out of the cathode by an electrical current into a fluid filled with electrically conducting ions and into another layer—the anode—which is composed of stacks of graphite. When the battery’s stored power is used, it triggers the ions to drift back into the cathode.

Though Powerwall’s geometry or particular blend of ingredients might be different, its basic chemistry can be the same with that of the Model S car’s battery pack.

 

How the Technology Can Become a Game Changer for the Energy Industry

Based on product specifications, the Tesla Powerwall can store less power than the typical battery pack of the Model S car. Also, the vehicle is powered by direct current, while homes use alternate current. This means the new technology would include some type of converter.

But while the Powerwall may be quite similar to other battery pack technologies, it can spur change in the household power storage market. Of course, the idea of harvesting and storing energy from the sun is not new, but most people are using the typical, cheaper, small capacity batteries that cannot continuously power up an entire home.

Also, some companies experimenting with similar technology to power up facilities have only ended up creating huge, industrial-size batteries—essentially like an entire building. Moreover, most people are using photovoltaic systems to help power their homes but only to sell their excess energy back to the power grid during the day. In case of power outages, they use back-up generators that uses gas, which is quite costly.

With these things in mind, using the new Tesla Powerwall really makes sense, not just because of its design, but also from a purely economic standpoint. One can say that the Powerwall is making an assault on other batteries.

 

Source: Green Tech News

ELF Solar Velomobile Review

ELF Solar Velomobile Review

If you would like to minimize your carbon footprint by buying a small green solar vehicle, there are many eco-friendly ones from which to choose. One of the top options is ELF, a solar-powered velomobile that’s designed and built by North Carolina-based company Organic Transit. With its unique design, sleek, attractive body and many benefits, it definitely should be on the top of your list.

 

Specs

The ELF comes with a built-in solar panel that powers its 600-watt electric motor. If you let the motor do all the work, it can reach around 20 mph and last up to 45 miles (on a single charge). But, if you pitch in and use the pedaling function, the vehicle can zoom down roads at 30 mph and reach 100 miles even with just a single charge. You can recharge the motor through sunlight and have it fully charged in seven hours. In a hurry to go somewhere? Recharge the vehicle through its AC power adapter (which takes around two hours and 30 minutes).

The vehicle measures at 105 inches (length) x 45 inches (width) x 60 inches (height). It weighs around 150 lbs but can carry a payload of up to 350 lbs, which means there’s enough room for you as well as your bags, groceries and other things.

 

Other key features

The ELF is built with an aircraft-grade aluminum frame and a durable carbon fiber body and comes with stainless steel hardware. Because of these, it can withstand constant exposure to rain and sun and can last for a long time with proper care. It’s also designed with safety in mind; through its LED headlights, brake lights, and turn signals, you can alert motorists and pedestrians about your presence and keep accidents at bay. Of course, Organic Trust made sure that users can ride the vehicle with ease by equipping it with familiar bicycle steering and ensuring the body can accommodate people of varying heights (from 5 feet to 6′ 9”).

One of the best things about the ELF is that it’s legally classified as a bicycle (even if it comes with an electric motor). This means you can use it even if you don’t have a driver’s license, and you can take it almost anywhere you like. Another great thing about this vehicle is that it encourages you to exercise. Since you’d have to use the pedal if you want to drive at a faster speed and/or extend the motor’s life, you’ll give your muscles a good workout and burn a substantial amount of calories without even knowing it. As a result, you won’t only get to save a substantial amount of money and help Mother Nature but you’ll also improve your health and be fitter and stronger.

 

Source: Green Tech News

Autonomous Cars and the Environment: What You Need To Know

Autonomous Cars and the Environment: What You Need To Know

By Guest Blogger Scott Huntington

Ever since Henry Ford introduced the Model T in the early 1900s, the automobile industry changed forever. Transportation via car was no longer a luxury of the affluent, but a mainstay in American culture accessible to virtually everyone.

Much has changed over the last century; the automotive industry has blossomed into a multibillion-dollar enterprise featuring competitors from around the world. In 2000, amid a push for alternative fuel sources, Toyota released the Prius to the American market. This vehicle was the first hybrid car in the United States. As environmental concerns over the future of cars continue to grow, many are looking to driverless cars as the answer to curbing carbon emissions.

No, this isn’t something out of a science fiction movie; autonomous cars are real and they are coming faster than you think. In fact, Google has a working prototype of a driverless car and Delphi Automotive recently attempted the world’s first cross-country road trip in one of these vehicles.

An Autonomous Solution?

Self-driving cars have many social and economic benefits, but can they really be helpful from an environmental perspective? One major concern is the vehicle’s fuel source. Driverless cars are still cars, and further reliance on fossil fuels aren’t exactly helping the environment. Automotive engineers have to figure out the most eco-friendly way of streamlining this method of transport. While it is difficult to determine the long-term environmental benefits without a larger sample size, you can find some speculative points below:

  • Fuel efficiency: Researchers at KPMG believe that driverless cars will be considerably more fuel-efficient than vehicles that use human drivers. If every car is driving at the same speed, the cars could, theoretically, bunch together, effectively cutting gas usage by at least 30 percent.
  • Lighter vehicles: The hope is that automated vehicles will lessen the amount of car accidents per year. Considering the fact that 81 percent all car accidents are due to human error, driverless cars should be met with widespread support. With less emphasis placed on accident prevention, cars will likely be more durable and use less material.
  • Ridesharing increase: Recent data from the International Parking Institute suggests that cars remain parked 90 percent of the time. Services like Uber and Lyft are beginning to mitigate the stigma associated with ridesharing. Autonomous vehicles have the potential to turn ridesharing into a normal occurrence. Fewer cars on the road translates to increased environmental stability.

Convenience at a Cost

Driverless cars open up a realm of new possibilities for people who are unable to drive, such as minors, disabled, elderly, intoxicated or medically unable. Ridesharing is already causing significant tensions between taxi companies and other sources of public transportation; what happens if autonomous vehicles become the preferred method of transport among Americans? Other mediums would quickly become obsolete.

Despite the prospect of a less-stressful work commute, the increased number of driverless cars on the road will outweigh any proposed environmental benefits. Experts foresee a 160 percent jump in people’s need to travel by car. Autonomous vehicles may be the next step in the automobile industry, and their effects on the environment remain will be seen soon.

 

About the Author

Scott Huntington is a writer and auto enthusiast. Check out his site, offthethrottle.com for more.

 

Source: Green Tech News

What about Solar-Isopropanol Powered Cars?

By Guest Blogger Ali Lawrence

For decades, we’ve heard about the promise of the electric car. These cars don’t produce any tailpipe emissions, they’re less expensive (they cost about one-third or one-quarter less per mile than their gas-guzzling counterparts), and you can fill them up at home. On top of that, they’re practically silent, meaning you won’t have to hear the loud whirr of the engine as you drive from Point A to Point B.

The cars — which have theoretically been coming down the pike since the ‘70s — still have yet to make considerable inroads in the market, despite the soaring success of companies like Tesla Motors on Wall Street. In 2013, for example, 96,000 electric cars were sold in the United States, representing about one-half of one percent of the market that year.

So while electric cars have yet to take off — it remains to be seen if they ever will —scientists are working on alternative green energy sources they hope will one day power the automobile.

Using the Sun for Fuel

At Harvard, researchers recently revealed they figured out how to convert solar energy into liquid fuel, a breakthrough that may very well have substantial implications as we search for alternative fuel sources.

Here’s how it works: Scientists use sunlight to break apart water into hydrogen and oxygen. By using a bacterium and adding carbon dioxide, they’re able to convert the gases into isopropanol, a liquid fuel generally used in cleaning, pharmaceutical or cosmetic applications.

Who knows whether scientists will be able to leverage isopropanol to power cars in such a way that allows them to move quickly over long stretches of road. After all, General Motors believes “range anxiety” — a driver’s fear of their electric car running out of juice and leaving them stranded on the highway — is a primary inhibitor of EV adoption. So in order for an electric car to really be successful, it has to be able to cover lots of ground.

But they will most assuredly be trying.

Will Isopropanol Be the Gasoline of the Future?

Charged with the task of ensuring the planet remains livable for future generations, many environmentally conscious car owners are proactively looking to reduce their carbon footprints, finding a more fuel-friendly vehicle like a hybrid (if not a fully electric car), taking public transportation or carpooling.

Believe it or not, Americans consumed 13 percent less gasoline in 2012 than they did in 2007, though they still burned through 123 billion gallons of gasoline. This reduction was driven in part by new, alternative forms of energy.

While we still rely on gasoline, researchers are pursuing a variety of substitutes, including ethanol, methanol, compressed natural gas, biodiesel, electricity and hydrogen. These alternative fuel sources have helped reduce our collective carbon footprint — but we can certainly do better.

The breakthroughs at Harvard certainly give us a glimmer of hope that we as a society may very well be able to begin seriously weaning off gasoline and oil in our lifetimes. The sun is one of our most renewable resources, and as such we should do all we can to leverage its power.

Imagine driving a solar-powered car that doesn’t shut off at nighttime or on a cloudy day. Thanks to the researchers at Harvard, it appears as though we’re a step closer to experiencing that reality.

 

About the Author

Ali Lawrence is a tea-sipping writer who focuses on healthy and sustainable living via her family blog Homey Improvements. She was born and raised in Alaska and dabbles in PR, Pilates, and is a princess for hire for kid’s parties.

 

Source: Green Tech News

New Roof Tile Coating Cleans the Air

New Roof Tile Coating Cleans the Air

roof tiles clean the air

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way that we could get rid of pollution without actually having to do anything? Well, researchers at UCR in southern California believe they have a solution that fits the bill. A new coating for roof tiles can absorb smog pollutants, and can clean the area’s air daily if given a chance by homeowners.

By spraying clay roof tiles with titanium dioxide, UCR students discovered that 88% to 97% of nitrogen oxide pollution can be cleaned from the air. The calculations suggest that 21 tons of nitrogen oxides can be removed from the air with the adoption of the roof tiles on one million homes. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make much of a dent in the 500 tons of pollution emitted every day in Southern California.

Despite the 4% reduction rate, it’s worth noting that the research delivers positive results. With even a small coating of titanium dioxide, there is effectiveness being exhibited. It’s a small step in the average homeowner taking an effort to reduce air pollution, without actually having to do more than apply a treatment to their roof. The average sized home would only require about $5 worth of the coating to treat their existing roof.

These types of roofing tiles are available commercially already, although they are fairly expensive. A small study completed by the UC Riverside engineering students showed that pollution concentrations can decrease in as little as 20 minutes when using titanium dioxide coated roof tiles.

These new roof tiles aren’t the first invention to harness the pollutant eating capabilities of titanium dioxide. In the Netherlands, a city street comprised of titanium dioxide coated pavers was proven to reduce nitrogen oxide pollution by 45%.

The research on titanium dioxide coatings and their effect on air pollutants, specifically nitrogen oxide, shows a positive step towards dealing with environmental issues. Because the coating is relatively easy to use and requires very little from the consumer, it can be a way to proactively deal with smog without negatively affecting the appearance of the neighborhood.

Titanium dioxide is a compound that is already added to a variety of consumer products, such as paint, makeup, and sunscreen. The UC Riverside students would like to continue their research to determine if the addition of titanium dioxide to paint used on walls would also have an effect. If so, adding this type of paint to concrete dividers and walls along major highways can help reduce the air pollution emitted from traffic.

While the concept isn’t anything new, and the research study was small, the findings are a big step in the right direction for dealing with pollution. Better air quality is something that many major cities struggle to maintain, and something as simple as a coated roof tiles (or painted walls) can have a large impact. The next step is to think large scale, and apply the pollution eating aspect of titanium dioxide in a bigger project.

 

Source: Green Tech News