A Toys “R” Us distribution facility in New Jersey will soon be home to the largest solar rooftop installation in the country. The huge installation will feature 37,000 solar panels producing 5.38 MW of power.
Toys “R” Us has entered into a 20-year power purchase agreement with the Constellation Energy Group — the builders of the project — and will meet 72 percent of the facility’s energy needs with the solar power system. The facility’s carbon footprint will be reduced by 4,569 tons.
Mayor Bloomberg has outlined some new additions to his PlaNYC, which aims to cut New York City’s emissions by 30 percent by 2030. One of the major new projects will be the building of solar power plants on old landfill sites.
New York City has about 3,000 acres of shuttered landfills and through this plan 250 of those will be outfitted with solar power. Once those plants come online, they’ll have a capacity of 50 MW, enough to power 50,000 homes.
The revised PlaNYC also includes a gradual cessation of the use of #4 and #6 heating oils. The dirty oils produce more soot than all of the cars and trucks in the city combined. The city will help building owners and neighborhoods transition to cleaner heating, with #6 being phased out by 2015 and #4 by 2030.
Another big goal of the plan is to create the New York City Energy Efficiency Corp with $37 million of federal stimulus money. The corporation’s main purpose will be provide financing to property owners for renewable energy installations and efficiency improvements.
There has been some controversy concerning the location of this year’s Solar Decathlon competition, but the contest/educational event is back on the National Mall in the nation’s capital, and twenty finalist teams have been picked to display their innovative, solar-powered homes at the final competition.
Among the teams that made the final cut in this international competition, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, is the University of Maryland, which recently unveiled Watershed, its qualifying entry this year. Like all Solar Decathlon homes, Watershed runs exclusively on solar power–unlike most other homes, this one was designed to make the most of water and in so doing, protect the Chesapeake Bay.
We’ve heard about ideas for floating data centers and floating wind turbines; it was only a matter of time before we heard about floating solar power plants. Australian solar power company Sunengy has just gotten approval for a pilot project in India through a partnership with Tata Power.
The floating solar power units, called Liquid Solar Arrays (LSA), use concentrated photovoltaic technology where a lenses direct the light onto solar cells and move throughout the day to follow the sun.
The company says the advantage to floating a solar power plant is that it erases the need for expensive structures to protect it from inclement weather and high winds — when rough weather comes along, the lenses just submerge. Floating on water, whether it be the ocean, a lake or a tiny pond, also keeps the solar cells cool, which increases their efficiency and lifespan. You can see a video demonstration of the technology here.
The pilot project should begin construction this August. Sunengy as another larger array in the works for 2012 and if both projects go well, they plan to go into full production.
Mechanical engineers at Arizona State University are experimenting with graphite as a cheap way of augmenting the efficiency of solar thermal systems by improving the heat-absorbing properties of liquid used for generating steam.
“We estimate that this could mean up to $3.5 million dollars per year more revenue for a 100-megawatt solar power plant,” said Robert Taylor, a graduate student in mechanical engineering at Arizona State University.
The team from Arizona State University turned their attention to the solar thermal collectors, an essential part of a solar thermal power system, also known as concentrating solar power systems. The collectors focus sunlight to heat liquid that makes steam which drives a turbine to generate power.
“The big limitation of PV panels is that they can use only a fraction of the sunlight that hits them, and the rest just turns into heat, which actually hurts the performance of the panels,” said Mr. Taylor. In contrast, solar thermal collects and uses the heat which would be lost by PV.