Fabric that Can Harness Wind and Solar Energy

by Yerika Reyes

We have had the ability to produce fabrics that produce electricity from physical movement for a few years, but now researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology are developing a fabric that can gather solar energy and motion energy concurrently. The combination of these two generators of electricity into a textile will allow for developing clothes that can provide their own source of energy to power smartphones and global positioning systems (GPS). This fabric will alleviate the issue of charging devices while conducting research in the field because it can harness energy from the wind and sun.

This development was spearheaded by Zhong Lin Wang, a Regents professor in the Georgia Tech School of Materials Science and Engineering. This new material would be 320 micrometers thick woven together with strands of wool, and could be integrated into tents, curtains or wearable garments. To construct the fabric, Wang’s team used a commercial textile machines to interlace together solar cells constructed from lightweight polymer fibers with fiber-based triboelectric nanogenerators. Triboelectric nanogenerators use a combination of the triboelectric effect and electrostatic induction to generate small amount of electrical power from mechanical motion such as rotation, sliding or vibration. Fiber-based triboelectric nanogenerators capture the energy created when certain materials become electrically charged after they come into moving contact with a different material. For the sunlight-harvesting part of the fabric, Wang’s team used photoanodes made in a wire-shaped fashion that could be woven together with other fibers. Continue reading

Harvesting Wind Energy with Invelox Technology

by Chloe Soltis

In September 2011, Dr. Daryoush Allaei founded Sheerwind, an energy start-up focused on using wind power to generate electricity. Dr. Allaei realized that current wind turbines are obsolete in the sense that they must passively wait for wind to operate (Breunig). Dr. Allaei believes that wind’s velocity should be accelerated so that electricity can be generated from wind energy in areas that are not suitable for turbines. Therefore, he created the Invelox, a system that can both capture and accelerate wind power. Continue reading

Offshore Wind Farm Industry Takes Off in the United States

by Genevieve Kules

The offshore wind farm industry appears to be growing despite the current political disinclination towards environmentally friendly energy initiatives. In 2016 Deepwater Wind created the US’s first offshore wind farm off the coast of Rhode Island’s Block Island consisting of five turbines. In January of 2017 Deepwater Wind submitted permits for approval of fifteen turbines off the coast of Long Island, NY. This could only be the start for the construction of over 200 turbines nearby.

Offshore wind farms are far more prominent in Europe, and China has a wind farm with enough turbines to power a small country, but lack of buyers has left many of those turbines unused. Continue reading

Offshore Wind Farm Industry Takes Off in the United States

by Genevieve Kules

The offshore wind farm industry appears to be growing despite the current political disinclination towards environmentally friendly energy initiatives. In 2016 Deepwater Wind created the US’s first offshore wind farm off the coast of Rhode Island’s Block Island consisting of five turbines. In January of 2017 Deepwater Wind submitted permits for approval of fifteen turbines off the coast of Long Island, NY. This could only be the start for the construction of over 200 turbines nearby.

Offshore wind farms are far more prominent in Europe, and China has a wind farm with enough turbines to power a small country, but lack of buyers has left many of those turbines unused.

Now, in the United States, offshore wind farms could be a promising energy resource. Many large oil corporations have invested in wind energy and Google says their data centers and offices will be completely run on renewable energy in 2017. Continue reading

Rise of the Supergrid

by Emil Morhardt

To get electricity from where it is generated to where it is needed requires transmission lines, which inevitably lose some of the power along the way. Using high voltages and transmitting with direct current (DC) rather than alternating current (AC) help. Doing both is best, and with the ultimate goal of being able to move electricity long distances from isolated renewable sources, ultra high voltage direct current (UHVDC) transmission lines are in planning stages or under construction. The first in the US will be a 700-mile long cable from Oklahoma’s wind farms to Tennessee to connect with the Tennessee Valley Authority grid. Similar initiatives are under way in China, Europe, and Brazil. Some lower voltage DC lines have been operating for years; one transmits power along the east side of the Sierra Nevada mountains from the massive hydroelectric dams on the Columbia River between Washington and Oregon to Los Angeles. Others connect oceanic islands; across the English Channel and between New Zealand’s North and South Islands, for example, where AC is impractical because of the losses from interaction of its alternating magnetic fields with ions in salt water. Continue reading

Corporations Take the Lead in US Wind Power

by Woodson Powell

According to the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) Q4 2015 market report, about 75% of the megawatts contracted through power purchase agreements (PPAs) during the fourth quarter were non-utility buyers (companies, city governments, universities) [http://blog.rmi.org/blog_2016_02_22_us_wind_power_demand_corporations_take_the_lead]. That spike in corporate contracts is not simply reflective of a shift in contracting, but also of the growth in the wind power industry. The AWEA’s report notes that the United States wind industry installed 8,598 megawatts in 2015, 77% more than 2014 [http://awea.files.cms-plus.com/FileDownloads/pdfs/4Q2015%20AWEA%20Market%20Report%20Public%20Version.pdf]. Historically, utility-scale wind power was mostly purchased in the form of large wind farms, because it was an efficient way for states to meet their renewable portfolio standards. Nowadays, corporate purchasers are entering the market, because wind power has good value, not just because of government mandates. Continue reading

Construction to Begin on Largest Wind Farm in the World

by Isaiah Boone

In a recent article posted on ScienceAlert, David Nield examines the impact of the final investment in a project that will construct the largest wind farm in the world off the shores of the United Kingdom. The project known as Horsea Project One is being led by a danish firm, DONG Energy, and is expected to be completed in 2020. The addition of Horsea Project One is expected to significantly increase the total wind energy production in the UK once it is completed. Continue reading

National Parks or Energy: Kenya’s Dilemma

by Jessie Capper

According to a recent report released by the International Energy Agency’s ‘Africa Energy Outlook,’ unreliable power supply has been a persistent problem in African countries. The IEA claims that by addressing this uncertainty, African governments help increase investment in their respective country’s power sector, and ultimately boost their GDP by an estimated $15 (International Energy Association 2014). Kenya continues to address its problems with efficient, reliable, and high-cost energy through the pursuit of renewable energy sources—varying from solar and wind power, to hydropower, and geothermal energy. Although Kenya’s energy initiatives are progressive and admirable, there is rising concern over detrimental side effects, especially to the national parks. Continue reading

Smart Source with Skystream

by Alexander Flores

Xzeres, a small corporation based in Wilsonville, Oregon has developed a cost-efficient, compact, and all-inclusive personal wind generator designed to function in very low winds (10−12+ mph). This personalized wind turbine known as the Skystream has a height of 52 feet, a weight of 170 pounds, a rotor diameter of twelve feet, a swept area of 116 feet, three reinforced composite fiberglass blades, a slot-less, brushless permanent magnet alternator, a battery charge controller kit, a braking system with electric stall regulation, and comes with Skyview monitoring software. Continue reading

Energy Kites: An Airborne Wind Turbine

by Alex Elder

Makani Power, acquired by Google X in 2013, is seeking to improve the modern wind turbine design in order to make wind power more efficient, cheaper, and less intrusive. Makani has developed an innovative new system of utilizing wind as a source of energy by using an “energy kite.” These kites are actually carbon fiber gliders which fly in circles while remaining tethered to the ground. This design allows the energy kites to reach higher altitudes than traditional wind turbines while significantly reducing the cost of materials for construction. Due to their lightweight design, the kites are more aerodynamic, and thus more energy efficient, than ground-based wind turbines. Because higher altitudes allow access to stronger and more consistent wind speeds, the kites can generate about 50% more energy than traditional wind energy technology. Continue reading