Category Archives: Energy News

Printed Solar Panels to be tested in Tesla

In an effort to increase awareness about climate change, scientists in Australia are busy experimenting with printed solar panels. The team from the University of Newcastle is getting the newly invented panels ready for a 15,100-km (9,400-mile) trip in a Tesla electric car which will begin in September.

Charge Around Australia is a project that plans to power a Tesla vehicle using 18 of these special solar panels. With each plastic panel measuring 18 meters (59 feet) long, they are meant to be rolled out on the ground to absorb sunlight in order to charge. Created from laminated PET plastic, the printed solar is lightweight and costs less than $10 per square meter.

According to Paul Dastoor, the developer of the panels and coordinator of the project, the plan is twofold: the first purpose is to check the durability of the plastic panels and the second is to test the possibility of using the panels for other purposes in the future. He explained, “This is actually an ideal test bed to give us information about how we would go about using and powering technology in other remote locations, for example, in space.”

The 84-day journey is sure to raise interest in the effects of climate change. The team’s findings will have significant impact in the use of sustainable energy and solutions for the security of our planet.

New Battery Technologies Can Help Your Business

There were two important advances in battery technology that could have an influence in the business world in the near future. The first one was presented by QuantumScape, a start-up backed by Volkswagen and Bill Gates. They announced that “solid-state” batteries that are created for electric vehicles, will be more efficient than batteries that have been made previously. These batteries are better in all the important ways: they hold more power, they will charge faster, and will last longer.

The second breakthrough in battery technology comes from a team of researchers at the University of California, San Diego together with California-based company zPower, and involves a rechargeable battery that is flexible and made of silver oxide-zinc. The new battery is five to ten times greater energy density than what is considered state of the art now. It is also easier to make. Most flexible batteries today need to be manufactured under strictly sterile conditions, in a vacuum. This new battery can be screen printed under normal laboratory conditions. It can be used in electronics requiring flexibility and also for wearables like soft robotics.

Any business that uses electricity should be interested in the advancement of battery technologies. It is expected that batteries will be one of the fastest trending products in the coming decades. Businesses will benefit from the science-driven improvements which will solve the problems of storing and using energy for a huge variety of products from cars to wearable robotics, machinery to phones. The age-old problem of finding and harnessing power is coming closer to its ultimate solution, allowing businesses to run with less interference, more reliability, and more flexibility.

Frank Armijo: Renewable Energy and Job Opportunities

Providing clean, sustainable energy is crucial for the environment today and the global future tomorrow.  MeyGen – the world’s largest tidal energy plant – is currently in the construction phrase for SIMEC Atlantis Energy (SAE) in its efforts to provide clean, sustainable energy.  Vice President of Lockheed Martin Energy (one of MeyGen’s suppliers), Frank Armijo said:

“MeyGen is on track to provide clean, sustainable, predictable power for at least 175,000 homes in Scotland, support local jobs, reduce carbon emissions, and deliver significant, long-term supply chain benefits for the UK economy.”

Armijo also said that the company is in the process of developing a flow battery. This will use electrolyte chemistry with cheaper earth metals and chemicals. These have a lifespan of 6 to 10 hours (much longer than the lifespan of regular lithium ion batteries of 2-4 hours).  In addition, the batteries are devoid of problems such as reliance on expensive and toxic materials like zinc bromide and vanadium.

SIMEC Atlantis Energy (SAE) has been using 6-MW MeyGen as part of its 25-year operational phase.  To date it has delivered over 8 GWh of energy to the national grid.

European Wind Firm Expands to US Market with $510 million Purchase of US Offshore Wind Company

The world’s largest offshore wind developer, Denmark-based Ørsted, has acquired the US-

Havvindparken Sheringham Shoal. Photo courtesy (Foto: Harald Pettersen/Statoil)

based Deepwater Wind LLC, for $510 million. Ørsted is seeking to expand into the US market, which it views has having a huge potential for growth.

After proving successful as an industry in Europe, offshore wind development is having many of the subsidies that have helped the industry grow since the early 1990s rolled back. Wind energy development in the USA is the natural next step.

Deepwater Wind LLC is the developer of the only offshore wind farm in the USA, with a capacity of about 3.3 gigawatts (GW.) Ørsted’s USA portfolio now has a capacity of 5.5 GW.

So far Ørsted has been unsuccessful in getting a better foothold in the US market, losing out on several auctions. Deepwater, in contrast, has been able to achieve more through auctions, and now has the rights to developing offshore wind power for use in Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York.

“With this transaction we’re creating the number one offshore wind platform in North America,” said Ørsted’s offshore wind chief Martin Neubert.

It’s Good to Have Options

The following is a guest article written by Brad Martin, Senior Vice President, Marketing, Mass Market Sales & Services of Genie Energy:

I never really stopped to consider the vast amount of options available for some of the most mundane items we need. Standing in Target recently, I contemplated the purchase of a toothbrush for far too long as I weighed the brands, style, color, bristle stiffness and other options available. I mean, there must have been no fewer than thirty different choices. Shaking her head, a woman next to me who was equally perplexed said, “I’m just going to pick the cheapest one… they all end up in the same place eventually…”

I took her advice.

It’s a different story altogether, as many business owners and managers are struggling with a similar problem when it comes to their energy supply. Aside from the multitude of Retail Energy Provider companies out there offering procurement services versus the local utility company, there are a host of options available that should be carefully weighed, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Some options include, “block”, “heat rate”, “nodal” and “variable” rate programs. However, in this article, I’d like to review two of the more commonly presented options, “fixed” and “index”, to address management of commercial electricity costs.

Choices… choices…

 A pure fixed rate plan is as it sounds. Your business locks in a fixed price per kilowatt hour (kWh) for some predetermined length of time. A term could be any length of time that provides you the best price and other desired options, taking into account your consumption amount and patterns, load factor, capacity and transmission charges, seasonality and a variety of other factors. (Please see https://www.businessdistrict.com/timing-is-everything/ “Timing is Everything”, a previous piece that explains the importance of term and timing of energy supply agreements). A fixed rate plan can be a good option for a company seeking budget certainty or protection from market volatility.

An index plan gives a business the opportunity to purchase at the varying prevailing market prices for electricity. This can be for as specific a period as each given hour in a day, corresponding to a published market index while fixing the adder to the wholesale energy component. An index plan is a more aggressive product, and would be a fine fit for a company looking for the flexibility to shop around, or for a position that allows them to take advantage of wholesale market price drops. A company may “float” on an index price, constantly watching the forward market for the right opportunity to lock in. While the index might be relatively cheaper to the fixed rate, the index can rise precipitously during peak demand periods in the very cold winter and/or very hot and humid summer periods.

Advantages for some may mean disadvantages for others.

With a fixed rate plan, your price certainty comes with a factor of some variable load cost, which reflects the variable risk the energy provider must take on in its hedge, by offering a fixed price over a period of time. The fully unitized fixed rate plan can also mitigate the risk of the utility’s peak-demand charges on the supply side of the bill as they would no longer apply. Most small/medium businesses will seek the Fixed Price option for budget certainty and the potential for year-over-year savings versus local utility supply pricing.

With an index plan, it’s the customer that absorbs most or all of the risk, and no variable load cost is associated, since pricing is in ‘real-time’. A large commercial or industrial company (i.e. manufacturers) may seek an index price option (or hybrid, also referred to as a ‘block’ plan, with only a percentage of their load on an index plan), where consumption is large enough to make it worthwhile to change consumption patterns based on anticipated hourly prices. They may opt for example, to use more electricity during off-peak hours (overnight).

While it may be good to have options…

…It’s best to take advantage of the expertise of an energy broker or supplier that can provide you with the analysis and recommendations suited to your business and specific usage patterns. No one option may be right for another business owner, and while there is the potential to realize reductions in your energy overhead, there is no reason to go it alone!

Own or manage a business that uses energy or know someone who could benefit? Message me to get connected with an energy expert who will provide a complimentary commercial energy analysis with no obligation.

Brad Martin is Senior Vice President, Marketing, Mass Market Sales & Services of Genie Energy

About Genie Energy Ltd.:

Genie Energy Ltd. (NYSE: GNE, GNEPRA), through its Genie Retail Energy (GRE) division, is a leading independent operator of retail energy providers and commercial brokerage services.  GRE’s providers supply electricity and natural gas to residential, small business and commercial customers in deregulated markets in the United States and the United Kingdom.  For more information, visit http://www.genie.com/.