Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Staff of Robots Can Clean and Install Solar Panels

By DIANE CARDWELL Published: October 14, 2013. RICHMOND, Calif. — In a dusty yard under a blistering August sun, Rover was hard at work, lifting 45-pound solar panels off a stack and installing them, one by one, into a concrete track. A few yards away, Rover’s companion, Spot, moved along a row of panels, washing away months of grit, then squeegeeing them dry. Rover, a robot, placing a solar panel in a track at Alion Energy, which is looking to shave labor costs. But despite the heat and monotony — an alternative-energy version of lather-rinse-repeat — neither Rover nor Spot broke a sweat or uttered a complaint. They could have kept at it all day. That is because they are robots, surprisingly low-tech machines that a start-up company called Alion Energy is betting can automate the installation and maintenance of large-scale solar farms. Working in near secrecy until recently, the company, based in Richmond, Calif., is ready to use its machines in three projects in the next few months in California, Saudi Arabia and China. If all goes well, executives expect that they can help bring the price of solar electricity into line with that of natural gas by cutting the cost of building and maintaining large solar installations.
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Bankrupt solar panel firm took stimulus money, left a toxic mess, says report

Published October 31, 2013 Solar panels are seen in this file photo. (AP/The Sentinel, Apolinar Fonseca, File) A Colorado-based solar company that got hundreds of millions of dollars in federal loan guarantees before going belly-up didn't just empty taxpayers' wallets - it left behind a toxic mess of carcinogens, broken glass and contaminated water, according to a new report. The Abound Solar plant, which got $400 million in federal loan guarantees in 2010, when the Obama administration sought to use stimulus funds to promote green energy, filed for bankruptcy two years later. Now its Longmont, Colo., facility sits unoccupied, its 37,000 square feet littered with hazardous waste, broken glass and contaminated water. The Northern Colorado Business Report estimates it will cost up to $3.7 million to clean and repair the building so it can again be leased. - Associated Press
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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

100 Million Solar Heating and Cooling Systems in the US is the Goal

 When we hear about the huge growth of solar installations in the US, the talk is mostly about solar PV, but there's enormous potential in solar thermal - used for heating and cooling. Currently, there's 9 gigawatts (GW) of solar thermal installed in the US, 1 GW less than solar PV. In fact, the national discussion on clean energy revolves around electricity and transportation, leaving out the biggest source of energy consumption - heating and cooling homes and buildings. Almost half (44%) of America's energy consumption comes from heating (hot water and space heating) and cooling, which costs some $270 billion a year. Right now, the US is on track to have 75 GW of solar thermal by 2050, installing 30,000 systems a year. But the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has created a roadmap that would result in 100 MW by 2025 and 300 MW by 2050, when there would be 100 million installations. At that level, solar thermal would supply 8% of US heating and cooling demand. It's already the most efficient renewable energy technology and has the quickest payback - costing as little as 6 cents per kilowatt hour. 100 million systems sounds like a lot to us too, but SEIA and partner BEAM Engineering say it's feasible. It would replace the need for 64 coal plants, save Americans $61 billion in energy costs and create over 50,000 jobs.
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Winter light: Solar mirrors bring sunshine to dark Norwegian town


(CBS News) The small industrial town of Rjukan, Norway is tucked away in a valley, so for the past 100 years, they haven't gotten direct sunlight in the winter. However, that all changed on Wednesday when they switched on large solar mirrors. For six months of the year, beginning in October, the sun is so low in the sky it never reaches the valley floor, where the town actually is. Even with Norwegian stoicism, Karin Ro who runs the tourism authority there says it could be a tough place to live. "People need sun, if people get sun they will be more healthy and they will work better," she said. The founder of the town - a foresighted industrialist named Sam Eyde - recognized the problem and put in a cable car to take the residents up the hillside and into the sunlight to keep them from getting a terminal case of cabin fever during the long dark winter. Yet, modern technology may have solved the problem. Instead of bringing the people to the light, they've figured out a way to bring the light to the people. An array of mirrors has been installed on the hillside, programmed to track the sun across the sky and reflect it down into the town below, but it doesn't light the whole town, just the town square.Ro told CBS News' Mark Phillips that even that little bit of sunshine will help. "It makes a difference, and this is the 'center' of the town," she said.
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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Wal-Mart Now Draws More Solar Power Than 38 U.S. States

Solar panels on the Wal-Mart in Foothill Ranch, California. Courtesy Wal-Mart. Solar power and keg stands have one thing in common: Wal-Mart wants to profit from them. In the race for commercial solar power, Wal-Mart is killing it. The company now has almost twice as much capacity as second-place Costco. A better comparison: Wal-Mart is converting more sun into energy than 38 U.S. states. Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration. In the beer department, Wal-Mart recently decided alcohol was good business and vowed to double sales by 2016. The result: 500 reps from the alcohol industry converged on the Sam’s Club auditorium in Bentonville, Arkansas, for an “adult beverages summit” focused on Wal-Mart. “It’s even selling it in garden centers,” Bloomberg News’s Renee Dudley wrote in August.

With solar, will Wal-Mart have the same industry-focusing presence its had with booze? If small business is the heart of the U.S. economy, Wal-Mart is the gluteus maximus -- the power muscle. The company redefines global supply chains and crunches cost reductions in just about every area it touches. More than 80 publicly traded companies rely on Wal-Mart for 10 percent or more of their annual revenue, according to Bloomberg data. “When we find something that works -- like solar -- we go big with it,” the company’s website proclaims.

Record Breaking Solar Cell Efficiency From A “Perfect Crystal”

Gallium is already on its way to becoming the workhorse of the solar tech field, and now it looks like the soft metal is is on track to become a thoroughbred. A team of US scientists has hit upon an improved method for growing indium gallium nitride (InGaN) crystals that could lead to record-breaking solar cell efficiency. So far the method has resulted in a film of InGaN that has “almost ideal characteristics.”  To ice the cake, an analysis of the film revealed the precise reason why the results of the new InGaN growing method were so good, which could lead to further improvements in LED technology as well as solar cells.  A Perfect InGaN Crystal -Nitride refers to a compound of nitrogen, in this case in conjunction with indium, a soft silvery-white, zinc-like metal, as well as gallium.
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Solar Wind Energy Tower, Inc. Activates Equity Facility Agreement Commitment of $3,000,000

ANNAPOLIS, MD--(Marketwired - Oct 29, 2013) - Solar Wind Energy Tower, Inc. (OTCQB: SWET), (the "Company"), the inventor of a large Solar Wind Downdraft Tower structure capable of producing abundant, inexpensive electricity, announced today that its Equity Facility to fund up to $3,000,000 from Beaufort Ventures, PLC is now effective and Solar Wind Energy may access the funds under the terms of the agreement. Earlier this summer on July 15(th) , the Company announced it had received the commitment for the Equity Facility from Beaufort. Under the terms of the commitment, the Company was required to file an S-1 Registration Statement with the SEC. The Company was notified by the SEC that there were no further comments and the Registration Statement has now been declared "Effective" which allows the Company to access Equity Facility funding. 
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Monday, October 28, 2013

Solar 'death spiral' forces utilities to shift priorities

Cluttered power lines are giving way to solar cells as more businesses and homeowners generate their own energy, forcing utilities to find new ways to satisfy customers and shareholders. Sitting on a rooftop, soaking up sun, the humble solar panel may not look like a threat to a multibillion-dollar industry.But some electric utility executives say it is. They even have a name for the nightmare scenario solar could create - the "death spiral." They fear solar's rapid spread across homes and businesses, combined with the increasing efficiency of modern buildings and appliances, could slowly erode the utilities' ability to grow. California utilities get paid based on the value of the assets they own - the transmission lines, substations and wires. As more businesses and homeowners generate their own electricity, the utilities won't need to add as many of those assets as before. At the same time, the costs of maintaining the electricity grid might fall on fewer and fewer nonsolar utility customers. The companies could compensate by tacking on fixed monthly charges for all customers, solar and nonsolar alike. But those new charges would jack up bills, and that could prompt more people to slap panels on their roofs. The problem will only get worse if advanced battery packs become cheap enough for home use, parked in the basement by the water heater.
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20 GW Of Distributed Solar By 2015 Is New Target For China

20 GW of distributed solar by 2015 is the new goal in China. So far, about 2 GW has been installed, and six more could be added in 2014. Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou are some of the focal points for the development projects. 35 GW by 2015 is the target for all solar installations. According to a new report, China will the biggest deployer of photovoltaics in 2013. (Record demand in Asia is being driven by China and Japan.) China is the largest global energy consumer, and the second largest consumer of oil, with the US being number one. Coal and oil are its top two energy sources, with coal providing about seventy percent of its energy. Air pollution in China has been a known problem for years. In some of the largest cities, there are days with low visibility because of dense smog. This year, it was reported that there are over one million premature deaths there per year, due to air pollution. Recently, air pollution shut down parts of a Chinese city.
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Amping up Solar in the Snowy North

Solar energy scientist Joshua Pearce, left, and Jay Meldrum, director of the Keweenaw Research Center, with the array of solar panels behind KRC. Even on this gloomy day, they were cranking out electricity. Solar farms are a no-brainer in warm and sunny places, but what about in northern climes where snow can cover and even shut down the panels? Michigan Technological University's Keweenaw Research Center (KRC) is now part of a two-year study that will help answer that question. The aims are to gauge how snow affects solar panels' power generation and determine the best ways to overcome any losses. The international engineering firm DNV GL, which specializes in large energy- and sustainability-related projects, has built an array of solar photovoltaic panels behind KRC, each set at a different angle, from 0 degrees (flat) to 45 degrees. "If you tilt them at 60 degrees, almost no snow sticks to the panels, but you also lose a lot of sunlight when they are not facing the sky," said Tim Townsend, a principal engineer for solar services with DNV GL.

Solar Panels Can Be Used to Provide Heating and Air Conditioning

The use of solar panels for hot water in the bathroom is standard practice, but researchers at the Madrid Universities Carlos III and Polit├ęcnica suggest that they may also be used to provide large offices with heating in the winter and air conditioning in the summer. Their proposal involves the incorporation of solar collectors into a gas-based co-generation system with an absorption machine, which would reduce both energy expenditure and CO2 emissions.
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Solar Decathlon 2013: Team Austria Wins Top Honors

A team of Austrian students from Vienna University of Technology (Team Austria) has has won top honors for “designing, building, and operating the most cost-effective, energy-efficient and attractive solar-powered house” at the 2013 U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Decathlon. The net-positive home, known as “LISI – Living inspired by sustainable innovation,” prides itself for being a simple, smart house that is capable of adapting to a variety of lifestyles and climate zones.

Past the neatly coordinated neighborhoods, the master-planned homes and immaculate lawns, on an old military runway in Irvine, a community that imagines life on a smaller scale has taken root. There, hundreds of college students from across the U.S., Canada and Europe have designed and built 19 solar-powered homes in a unique competition to see which will emerge as the most cost-effective, energy-efficient and attractive. Sponsored by the Department of Energy, the Solar Decathlon is a rigorous competition — the rule book is 68 pages long and regulates everything from acceptable average interior temperature (71 to 76 degrees Fahrenheit) to affordability (ideally below $250,000) to the brightness setting on a TV during a scheduled movie night.

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Governor Brown Signs AB 327; Net Metering Victory in California

Published on 8 October 2013. California Governor Brown has signed AB 327, the landmark bill that will provide much-needed stability for California's rooftop solar industry. According to the Alliance for Solar Choice, AB 327 achieves the following:

  • Removes the suspension on net metering that would have gone into effect at the end of next year.
  • Eliminates uncertainly over how the current net metering cap is calculated
  • Provides a framework for removing the net metering cap altogether.
  • Removes the 33% ceiling on the state's Renewable Portfolio Standard. 
In his signing statement regarding grandfathering of net metering customers, Governor Brown affirms, "I expect the Commission to ensure that customers who took service under net metering prior to reaching the statutory net metering cap on or before July 1, 2017, are protected under those rules for the expected life of their systems."
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Abengoa’s Gigantic ‘Salt Battery’ Stores Utility-Scale Solar Energy

The global solar company Abengoa Solar has just announced that its massive Solana solar power plant has begun commercial operation in Arizona. The plant represents a transformational breakthrough in utility scale solar power, because it includes an energy storage system based on molten salt. The storage feature enables the plant to keep generating electricity long after the sun goes down. Solana is also noteworthy because it puts yet another feather in Arizona’s already impressive cap of solar power projects. The continued growth of the Arizona solar power sector is a bit of a surprise given the conservative leanings of Governor Jan Brewer and other public officials in the state, so it’s worth taking a look at Solana in that context.
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Solar challenge draws cars built neither for comfort nor for speed

'The only expectation is that you bring your enthusiasm,' says race director as 40 teams trek across Australia's red heartland. The photo above shows one of the cars, Aurora Evolution, at a testing session in Darwin. If you're travelling any part of the 3000km stretch between Darwin and Adelaide in the next few days, don't be alarmed if you see what appears to be alien reconnaissance craft cruising the roads. An array of futuristic vehicles with the sunlight dancing upon their saucer-like tops are taking part in the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, a marathon north-south trek across the red heart of Australia undertaken by 40 teams. As the name suggests, all of the cars involved in the race must be powered by electricity generated from the sun. Organisers say they welcome "lateral thinking" in designs, hence the car that has a coating so aerodynamic that dirt doesn't stick to it, thereby avoiding that perilous moment when you have to guide what looks like a shiny door wedge on wheels through the car wash.

Meet Solar Grid Storage, a startup mixing batteries and solar

A young startup is building a business around installing solar panels and batteries. Innovation in the energy industry isn’t just about new technologies, it’s about new business models, too. The market for storing electricity is drawing not only startups building new technology but also new comers that want to build and install new projects. Meet Solar Grid Storage, a two-year-old, angel-funded startup which just completed a project that mixes batteries with solar panels and electric car charging stations in Maryland.

Mexican Sun Lures Cash to Solar as Panel Prices Plunge

Mexico, poised to allow foreign oil extraction for the first time in 75 years, is finding its abundant natural resources also appeal to investors in a much cleaner energy: sunshine.  First Solar Inc. (FSLR) of the U.S. has bought its first projects in Mexico, while more than a dozen other developers including Germany’s Saferay GmbH and Spain’s Grupotec Tecnologia Solar SL own licenses there. Local investor Gauss Energia opened Latin America’s largest photovoltaic plant in the country last month.  The project “will open the way for the development of the photovoltaic sector,” Gauss Chief Executive Officer Hector Olea said in an e-mail. “There have been multiple announcements but very little real development work so far even though the regulatory system is sound and conducive to bankable projects.”

Ikea to Sell $9,200 Solar-Panel Kits in All U.K. Stores

Ikea, the biggest home-furnishing retailer, tied up with Hanergy Solar Group Ltd. (566) to sell solar-panel systems in its 18 U.K. stores for the first time. Ikea will sell the systems in all U.K. shops within 10 months after a successful trial in July, it said in a statement. The Hong Kong producer will offer its thin-film panels, as well as consultation, installation and maintenance services. The deal shows how photovoltaic power is moving into the mainstream in the U.K., where more than 400,000 small solar systems operate. Price drops and state subsidies have doubled installations since the end of 2011, government figures show. Ikea will offer standard 3.36-kilowatt photovoltaic systems for 5,700 pounds ($9,200) upfront, as well as a leasing option.

7 Reasons The Solar Revolution Is For Real

The shale revolution has gotten a lot of attention in the past few years, and rightfully so.  But during pretty much the exact same time, a solar boom has occurred, as you'll se in the chart at the right. It shows percentage growth of various forms of electricity generation.  Solar is up 700% since 2001. Fossil fuels and nuclear barely even register.  We've lately been documenting the rise of solar, including a new world record in solar efficiency and how solar generation has already begun wreaking havoc on utilities. But we wanted to chronicle how solar has been able to explode in the past decade. No one thing has helped push solar over the top. It's more like a bunch of events building to a head.

Firefighters alarmed by latest rescue risk: solar panels

Firefighters across the nation are alarmed at the prospect of battling blazes in buildings topped with solar panels, which can create new risks of roofs collapsing, an inability to gain footing and even potential electric shock. Two recent fires involving structures decked with solar panels have triggered complaints from fire chiefs and calls for new codes and regulations that reflect the dangers posed by the clean-energy devices. A two-alarm fire last week at a home in Piedmont, Calif., prompted Piedmont Fire Chief Warren McLaren to say the technology “absolutely” made it harder on firefighters. Weeks earlier, in Delanco, N.J., more than 7,000 solar panels on the roof of a massive 300,000-square foot warehouse factored into Delanco Fire Chief Ron Holt’s refusal to send his firefighters onto the roof of a Dietz & Watson facility.

Hawaii Demonstration Project Still Pumping Solar Thermal Energy

The Sopogy Concentrating Solar Power Plant, located on the Big Island of Hawaii, produces enough electricity to power the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority and push plenty of power back onto the grid as well. The 125 kilowatts of power the Concentrating Solar Power plant produces is just a fraction of the 500 kilowatts the solar thermal array could produce, said plant operator Dean Towle. Presently, the generator the plant uses can only produce 125 kilowatts. It's been noted, however, that Sopogy could install three more generators and increase the output.

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These 5 Department of Defense Solar Energy Projects Will Forever Change What Fuels America's Military

In 2012, the Department of Defense announced its goal to deploy three gigawatts of renewable power and meet 25% of its energy needs with renewable energy by 2025 - enough to power 750,000 homes. Each armed forces department has separate timelines to reach their individual goals of one gigawatt of power (Air Force - 2016, Navy - 2020, Army - 2025). The Department of Defense intends to meet these goals without any additional costs to the taxpayer and aims to leverage private sector financing through authorities such as Power Purchase Agreements, Enhanced Use Leasing, Utility Energy Service Contracts, and Energy Savings Performance Contracts.

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You can now make money helping the US military convert to solar power

The US military has ambitious plans—$7 billion worth—to install renewable energy at bases and other facilities across the nation. American taxpayers, of course, are footing the bill. But now they can choose to put their money into a military solar project and make a return, thanks to the crowdfunding craze. Mosaic, a California startup that earlier this year began letting ordinary investors put in as little as $25 to help finance commercial rooftop photovoltaic arrays, today announced its first military-related project, a 12.3-megawatt (MW) installation that will put 55,189 solar panels on housing at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey. The panels will be installed on 547 homes and are expected to supply 30% of their electricity demand. 

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International Energy Agency rewards Drake Landing Solar Community for solar thermal heating, storage

Photo above is of Drake Landing Solar Community, providing solar thermal energy for 52 homes, in Winter 2010. In 2012, the community covered nearly 100% of its space heating needs with solar energy. The Drake Landing Solar Community (Okotoks, Alberta, Canada) received the prestigious 2013 International Energy Agency (IEA) Solar Heating and Cooling (SHC) Programme Solar Award on September 25th, 2013.The prize honours significant achievements in solar thermal market development and reductions in market barriers. ATCO Gas and Sterling Homes (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada), which operates record setting solar heating and storage system for the community, accepted the award on behalf of the partners, including the Town of Okotoks and United Communities. Completed in 2007, Drake Landing Solar Community (DLSC) is the first implementation of the so called “seasonal solar thermal energy storage” in North America, by which solar thermal energy is collected in the summer, stored underground, and then is returned to 52 single-detached homes as heat during the winter.

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Zeolite thermal storage retains heat indefinitely, absorbs four times more heat than water

Hold onto your hat/life partner/gonads: Scientists in Germany have created small, zeolite pellets that can store up to four times more heat than water, loss-free for “lengthy periods of time.” In theory, you can store heat in these pellets, and then extract exactly the same amount of heat after an indeterminate amount of time.  Zeolites (literally “boil stones”) aren’t exactly new: The term was coined in 1756 by Axel Cronstedt, a Swedish mineralogist who noted that some minerals, upon being heated, release large amounts of steam from water that had been previously adsorbed. For the last 250 years, scientists have tried to shoehorn this process in a heat storage system — and now, the Fraunhofer Institute, working with industrial partners, has worked out how to do it.

Friday, October 25, 2013

City of Lancaster, California, Mandates Solar Panels for New Construction

In California, the towns of Lancaster and Sebastopol have become the first 2 towns in the United States to mandate solar panels for new buildings, Earth Techling has reported.
Lancaster is situated on the edge of the sunny Mojave Desert to the north of L.A., and Sebastopol is about 400 miles away, close to Napa and Sonoma. Although Lancaster is a conservative town, and Sebastopol is more of a liberal enclave, the mayors of both towns maintain that the moves are in the interests of addressing climate change. There was apparently “no pushback” to speak of when the new requirements were proposed.

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Australia's Solimpeks Hybrid Thermal-PV Panel

A cutting edge hybrid solar panel technology has become the first of its kind in Australia to be deemed eligible for use as both Solar PV and Solar Hot Water applications in one combined product. The Sydney-based Solimpeks Australia this week received confirmation that it’s PV-T panels – which have adorned the roofs of a number of houses featured in the UK television series ’Grand Designs’ – are fully certified be used in any residential, commercial or industrial application as part of a whole system on the Solar Hot Water Register – meaning any experienced installer can work with the system.

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Solar Exchange Launches With Over $28 Million in Solar Goods in First Week

Thu, Sep 19, 2013 9:00 AM EDT 
25 Founding Member Companies Help Inaugurate New Age of Online Solar Commerce

MENLO PARK, CA - Solar Exchange has successfully launched its cloud-based commerce platform which automates the buying and selling of goods for the solar industry. Professionals across the solar value chain have begun to do business with each other utilizing the trading platform. Over $28 million in solar content has been put up for auction in the first week.  Solar Exchange utilizes online business-to-business (B2B) auctions and request for quote (RFQ) capabilities to facilitate sales and procurement activities. These capabilities create a direct connection between qualified solar businesses, large and small, along the entire solar value chain including raw material and component suppliers, panel and BOS manufacturers, Engineering-Procurement-Construction (EPC) companies, developers, integrators, utilities, and power companies.

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India Plans Largest Solar Plant in the World

NEW DELHI, Sept. 23 (UPI) -- The Indian government says it is planning the world's largest solar power plant in the northwestern state of Rajasthan. The project will have a total power generation capacity of 4,000 megawatts, which is more than double the total solar power generation capacity in the country.

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Solar Plane - Pioneering Team Up with Google

The Solar Impulse plane is pictured on the runway shortly before taking off from Cincinnati, Ohio on … The company behind Solar Impulse, the first solar airplane capable of flying day and night without using any fuel, is partnering with Google to help promote its goal of circumnavigating the globe in 2015 using only solar energy. Solar Impulse will work with the Silicon Valley-based Internet giant to enhance the company's social media presence leading up to the planned flight around the world. Google's various online or mobile platforms, including YouTube, Google+, Google Earth and Google Glass will be used to share information and multimedia with Solar Impulse supporters, company officials said.

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Solar Powered Plane Lands in Washington DC after World Travels

Solar Impulse pilot Bertrand Piccard is congratulated by his fellow flier, Andre Borschberg, after the solar-powered plane's landing at Washington's Dulles International Airport early Sunday. Piccard and Borschberg have been taking turns in the cockpit during Solar Impulse's cross-country odyssey. The Swiss-made Solar Impulse plane made a smooth landing in Washington early Sunday, leaving just one more solar-powered hop to go in its cross-continent odyssey.  The 208-foot-wide (63-meter-wide) aircraft set down at Dulles International Airport at 12:15 a.m. ET, with Solar Impulse chairman Bertrand Piccard at the controls. The trip from Cincinnati Lunken Municipal Airport took more than 10 hours – an hour and a half longer than it would have taken to drive. But speed isn't the point. Rather, Solar Impulse is designed to demonstrate how solar power alone can take a plane across the country, and eventually around the world.
Although this trip didn't set any speed records, it did include a first-ever overnight "pit stop." Cincinnati was added to the itinerary just a few days ago when flight planners determined that cross winds and head winds would slow down the plane's progress too much to make it from St. Louis to Washington in one long stretch. Andre Borschberg, Solar Impulse's CEO, flew the first leg of the trip – and then let Piccard take the second leg.  "The mobile hangar wasn't deployed during this short 11-hour pit stop – an unprecedented tactic in the history of the project – because it would have required too much time to set it up and take it back down," the Solar Impulse team said. "For the first time, the solar airplane was able to enjoy a starry night under the watchful eyes of its bodyguard, the ground crew."  

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Enlisting the Sun: Powering the U.S. Military with Solar Energy 2013

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Military Sun: Army Announces $7B in Solar Contracts

Solar wins big over other renewables. The U.S. Army is putting money in wind, biomass, geothermal and solar, but it's the latter that is getting the lion’s share of Pentagon dollars in 2013. The Army announced $7 billion in power-purchase agreements (PPA) to nearly two dozen companies for solar energy on Wednesday. Last year, the Army said that it would spend about $7 billion on renewable energy contracts, and earlier this year it awarded the first five contracts to geothermal projects. The most recent announcement indicates that wind and biomass could be an afterthought following the Army’s spending on solar.

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Burbank's ESolar Company Picks Up $22M for Concentrated Solar For Oil and Gas Markets

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eSolar, the Burbank, Calif.-based builder of power-tower solar thermal technology, just raised $22 million led by Oak Investment Partners. Existing investors include Idealab, GE Energy and GE purchased a stake in the startup in 2011. The company has raised close to $200 million since its founding in 2007.

US Solar Market Poised to Grow 30% in 2013

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Infographic: State of US Solar 2013. Mike Munsell: September 18, 2013  According to the recent U.S. Solar Market Insight report by GTM Research and SEIA, the U.S. will install 4.4 gigawatts of photovoltaics and 912 megawatts of concentrating solar power this year. The infographic below details some key milestones that the U.S. solar market will hit by the end of 2013.