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Published on January 30th, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan

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Clean Energy: The Sky’s the Limit

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January 30th, 2012 by Zachary Shahan
 
I think we’ve covered all of the technologies and stories mentioned in this guest post below, but it is a nice summary of some recent clean energy news and a nice “step back and take a broader look at things” kind of piece that I think is worth sharing, so here it is!

by Hayden Brown of The Climate Reality Project

What’s the most exciting part of clean energy? Maybe, as my colleague Shravya wrote, it’s about the race to the top or the role clean energy plays in energy security.

© 2011 SteFou/Flickr cc by 2.0

To me, it’s the technology. How cool is it that someday, when we flip the switch in our houses, our electricity could come from solar panels in space? Space not your thing? That’s all right; clean energy technology has something for everyone. For example, researchers at Notre Dame are working on solar paint. Yes, you read that right. Paint that can convert sunlight into electricity. These technologies are still in their early stages, but someday they could change the way we think about turning on the lights.

But at the same time, engineers and scientists are hard at work improving existing technology for renewable energy. Offshore wind farms are already iconic along Europe’s coasts, but a new kind of wind turbine could change the game entirely. Engineers are working on giant, floating wind turbines that could be towed out to the deep sea, tethered to the ocean floor and left to float as they generate clean electricity. These 2- to 7- Megawatt turbines could open up the deep sea for cheaper, more efficient wind power.

As interest in clean energy increases, developers are looking at increasingly innovative ways to harness the wind. Here’s just one example. Makani Power, based in California, is developing kite-like airborne wind turbines (AWT) that generate electricity from high-altitude winds. By taking advantage of the powerful and consistent winds, these kites can create electricity from just a strong breeze. AWTs also have lower capital costs than traditional wind turbines and can be used in non-traditional locations such as valleys or low wind speed regions. Combining seemingly space-age technology with the tried and true is essential as we race to remove fossil fuels from our electricity.

Beyond technological advancement, there are big changes coming to where and how we build wind farms. The U.S. Department of Energy recently launched an online program that will make it easier to build wind farms in locations that generate the most electricity. Making renewable energy more efficient will help bring down the cost for developers and lower our utility bills.

Advancements in clean energy technology can be seen throughout the sector. The work being done at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado and Advanced Research Programs Agency – Energy has already led improvement in everything from the way solar cells are manufactured to advanced battery technology. The advancements this industry has made in the last decade are truly remarkable.

But we cannot stop here. By showing your support for the amazing work already under way, you can help remind people that our clean energy future is too important to simply throw away.

Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.

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About the Author

spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as the director/chief editor. Otherwise, he's probably enthusiastically fulfilling his duties as the director/editor of Solar Love, EV Obsession, Planetsave, or Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and wind energy expert. If you would like him to speak at a related conference or event, connect with him via social media. You can connect with Zach on any popular social networking site you like. Links to all of his main social media profiles are on ZacharyShahan.com.



  • Anonymous

    I love all of the new renewable energy innovations and I desperately want them to succeed. But the current success of the developing shale industry must not be ignored as much as proponents of clean energy would like it to just go away; it won’t.
    With President Obama’s endorsement of shale gas recently , it is time for the clean energy community to do what it can to influence HOW fracking is done in order to keep environmental damage to the minimum.
    I encourage you and others with outlets to the public to take a long look at waterless fracking technology [LPG-propane] which is being used successfully in Canada and Southwest U.S. All of the environmental issues including methane leakage are addressed with this technology. The oil and gas industry is heavily invested in water fracking and will not change without a push from the public. That is where you can make a difference. Thanks. J.O.

    • http://cleantechnica.com/ Zachary Shahan

      Thanks for the note. Send along top pieces as you run across them.

      • Anonymous

        Zachary,
        While I have your attention, I will list four articles over the last year that describe the environmental advantages as well as the growing economic advantages that will ensure this waterless fracking technology is here to stay.To what degree this system becomes the new standard partly depends on whether pragmatic environmentalist get behind it..
        To first summarize; LPG fracking [mostly propane] , UNLIKE HYDRO-FRACKING, uses no water; uses no toxic chemicals; is fully recovered after fracking as a gas;does not bring salts,heavy metals or radioactivity out of the ground;reduces air pollution dramatically ; reduces truck traffic by 75% ; is safe [ advanced safety procedures]; leaves nothing to dispose of; and works much better than hydro-fracking in most shale formations.
        1. Nov.6 2011, Inside climate News ” New Waterless fracking Method Avoids Pollution Problems, But drillers Slow To Embrace It.”
        2.Nov. 14, 2011, Inside Climate News “Q and A. Inventor of Waterless Fracking On Why His Method Will Be A Game Changer”
        3.Jan. 30, 2012, Seeking Alpha “Gasfrac Energy: Unlocking New Hydrocarbon Liquid Basins ”
        4.Gasfrac Energy Services Jan. 2011 Presentation….see page 11
        Thank You , J.O.

  • Carl Page

    Airborne wind turbines like MakaniPower will be the right way to do deep water offshore wind power. So far no one has found a way to economically put a traditional wind turbine up on the ocean. Towers need a foundation so you don’t build them cheaply on the ocean. But airborne wind turbines only need a buoy or barge to launch from, and unlike traditional wind turbines, they can be deployed in places that are at risk for hurricanes– and probably produce power during them.

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