News and analysis about energy in California with an eye toward renewables.
Technology
Now You Can Find Energy Projects Proposed For Your Neighborhood

Now You Can Find Energy Projects Proposed For Your Neighborhood

Technology: A new mapping project can give Californians a "heads up" about pending energy projects in their neighborhoods, which can help neighbors wield better input into energy decision making that can affect their lives, their property values, and their health.
Fed Agency OKs Controversial Power Storage Project Near Joshua Tree NP

Fed Agency OKs Controversial Power Storage Project Near Joshua Tree NP

Technology: A federal agency has given the go-ahead to a power storage project adjacent to Joshua Tree National Park that opponents say could seriously harm both the park's wildlife and local groundwater.
California Energy, Climate Labs Get Research Grants From Feds

California Energy, Climate Labs Get Research Grants From Feds

Science: Caltech, UC Riverside, UC Berkeley, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory are all receiving the multi-million dollar grants.
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Solar Roadways: 4 Reasons They Might Not Work

Solar Roadways: 4 Reasons They Might Not Work

Solar: As with any promise that sounds too good to be true, the Solar Roadways idea merits careful scrutiny. Here are four reasons to take the hype with a large amount of salt.
Breakthrough in Energy Storage Announced by UC Riverside

Breakthrough in Energy Storage Announced by UC Riverside

Technology: Imagine a smartphone battery that reached a full charge in a minute or two. A team of researchers has come up with a novel molecular architecture that they say doubles the power storage capacity of commercially available supercapacitors.
State May Give Break to Residential Energy Storage Systems

State May Give Break to Residential Energy Storage Systems

Technology: If a proposed decision released Tuesday is approved, the California Public Utilities Commission would prevent utilities from levying most extra fees on solar customers who install batteries to store some of the power their panels generate.
Bladeless Wind Turbine Too Good To Be True?

Bladeless Wind Turbine Too Good To Be True?

Wind: There's a video making the rounds this week showing a new wind turbine design that its developers claim will be more efficient, less resource-intensive, and safer for wildlife than conventional turbines. But do the claims stand up?
Here's a Great Idea: Power Storage With No Cash Upfront

Here's a Great Idea: Power Storage With No Cash Upfront

The Grid: We don't cheerlead much here at ReWire, but we're just really not seeing a downside to this: a Bay Area firm is leasing power storage capacity to businesses at no money down.
Advance Made in Super 'Batteries' Might Take Us Closer to a More Sustainable Future

Advance Made in Super 'Batteries' Might Take Us Closer to a More Sustainable Future

Technology: A new study suggests that pairing carbon with the second most common element in the Earth's crust, silicon, may offer a way to produce efficient, durable "batteries" that could remake the way we think about small-scale power storage.
California Solar Startups Get New Federal R&D Funding

California Solar Startups Get New Federal R&D Funding

Solar: Seventeen American startups working on innovation in the solar sector have been awarded grants from the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) to further their research -- and eight of those companies are based in California.
California's Power Storage Mandate is Vaguely Written, But That Might be a Good Thing

California's Power Storage Mandate is Vaguely Written, But That Might be a Good Thing

The Grid: A ruling by a state commission requires the state's largest utilities to develop more than 1,300 megawatts of electrical power storage by 2020 but doesn't specify an actual capacity for that storage. That's led some tech-savvy members of the public to raise an eyebrow, but one expert says that's not a huge problem.
So Much For Jobs? Startup Builds Solar Robot Workers

So Much For Jobs? Startup Builds Solar Robot Workers

Solar: Richmond-based Alion Energy is proposing to automate both construction and maintenance of large solar facilities, using robots instead of skilled workers to put solar panels in place and keep them clean.
Solar Energy From Windows? Scientists Get Closer With Major Breakthrough

Solar Energy From Windows? Scientists Get Closer With Major Breakthrough

Technology: We may be considerably closer to generating electrical power with the windows in our homes and offices.
Need Solar Energy? There's a Printer For That

Need Solar Energy? There's a Printer For That

Photovoltaic (PV): A team in Australia has developed a way to create inexpensive solar cells using a standard industrial printer, offering the possibility of incredibly cheap photovoltaic cells -- but there are a couple of reasons not to declare the solar revolution over.
Clean Energy From Wind Turbines On Kites? Google Thinks So.

Clean Energy From Wind Turbines On Kites? Google Thinks So.

Wind: It sounds like a flight of fantasy: mount wind turbine generators on gigantic kites, then fly them a thousand feet off the ground to generate power. But one company pushing this literal "blue sky" concept got a huge real-world vote of confidence recently: Google bought them.
Can Electricity Be Stored Safely and Effectively? Firm Gets Big Money for Big Goal

Can Electricity Be Stored Safely and Effectively? Firm Gets Big Money for Big Goal

Technology: An East Coast firm has announced it's raised $15 million to develop affordable, scalable power storage for the grid using zinc-air battery technology.
6 Ways to Look at Renewable Energy Breakthroughs That Are Too Good To Be True

6 Ways to Look at Renewable Energy Breakthroughs That Are Too Good To Be True

Technology: There are a lot of wild claims about renewable energy these days. How do we sort the truly promising from the empty promises?
A New Spin on Recovering Heat For Power

A New Spin on Recovering Heat For Power

Technology: The notion of capturing waste heat from our technology and using it to generate electrical power isn't new. But a team of scientists at UCLA has come up with a new spin on the practice, using a branch of applied physics that didn't even exist 40 years ago.
Imagine a 'Battery' that Charges 100 Times Faster

Imagine a 'Battery' that Charges 100 Times Faster

Science: "With this work, we are blurring the lines between what is a battery and what is a supercapacitor."
Bladeless Wind Power Generator Was Not April Foolery

Bladeless Wind Power Generator Was Not April Foolery

Wind: Researchers in the Netherlands are developing a bladeless wind power generation technology. While there are some persistent issues to work out, the concept is potentially promising.
The Flywheel: A New Spin On Renewable Energy Storage

The Flywheel: A New Spin On Renewable Energy Storage

Technology: One of the main obstacles to greater use of renewables is the fact that the cheapest forms of renewable energy, solar and wind, don't offer power 24/7. Without an effective way of storing surplus energy when the sun's out and the wind's blowing, those readily available renewables don't help much on windless nights. A San Francisco-based company hopes to offer a practical way out of that problem by using high tech to fine-tune a technology we've used since the Stone Age: the flywheel.
Graphene May Offer Highly Efficient Solar Cells

Graphene May Offer Highly Efficient Solar Cells

Technology: Add another item to the growing buzz about graphene, which ReWire has covered quite recently: in addition to being a promising candidate for electrical power storage, the single-atom thin sheet form of carbon may offer a way to squeeze a whole lot more power out of photovoltaic cells.
USC Breakthrough May Mean Stronger, Faster Batteries

USC Breakthrough May Mean Stronger, Faster Batteries

Technology: Fast-charging, high-capacity lithium ion batteries could be available in two or three years, if a breakthrough made by USC engineers turns out to be commercially viable.
A New Kind Of Solar, Or Just More Spin?

A New Kind Of Solar, Or Just More Spin?

Technology: A new, intriguing approach to rooftop solar power is getting some attention lately, but will the product live up to its developers' promises?
Belgium May Build Hole In The Ocean To Store Energy

Belgium May Build Hole In The Ocean To Store Energy

Technology: It's an interesting idea, with obvious potential applications in California.
UC San Diego's Microgrid Gets Boost from State

UC San Diego's Microgrid Gets Boost from State

The Grid: The California Energy Commission is plowing $1.8 million into UCSD's microgrid to help the University develop it as a model for the rest of the state.
Clothing That Produces Energy: Future Solar Fabrics Possible

Clothing That Produces Energy: Future Solar Fabrics Possible

Technology: Did you open a package this week hoping for a nifty solar charger only to find out your gift was an ill-fitting sweater? In a few years, your gift might be both.
The Aesthetics of Design Meets Emergency Backup Power

The Aesthetics of Design Meets Emergency Backup Power

Technology: Is it an emergency battery backup, or a "personal massager"? Wei Long's "Juice Can" is a creative approach to a slightly pedestrian need.
Innovative Solar Cell Tech Gets Snapped Up In Lenders' Fire Sale

Innovative Solar Cell Tech Gets Snapped Up In Lenders' Fire Sale

Photovoltaic (PV): Nifty subatomic technology didn't save this Bay Area solar firm from melting down.
African Students' 'Pee Power' Invention No Panacea

African Students' 'Pee Power' Invention No Panacea

Biomass: Four teenaged students in Nigeria got a lot of press around the world for building a "urine-powered generator." Sadly, the coverage misrepresents what these very bright kids have done.
Stanford Team Captures Sunlight With Carbon

Stanford Team Captures Sunlight With Carbon

Technology: A team of researchers at Stanford University have found a way we might be able to use carbon to help solve the climate problem: by building photovoltaic cells with the stuff.
Electric Car Battery Manufacturer Files for Bankruptcy

Electric Car Battery Manufacturer Files for Bankruptcy

Technology: The battery manufacturer responsible for Fisker electric cars catching on fire has filed for bankruptcy.
Are California Smart Meters Causing Fires?

Are California Smart Meters Causing Fires?

Technology: Could Pennsylvania's smart meter overheating problems happen in California? Looks that way.
Want To Learn More About California Energy? Try This Great Map Resource

Want To Learn More About California Energy? Try This Great Map Resource

Technology: Ever find yourself wanting to know where California's solar, wind, and other renewable energy facilities are? That just got a lot easier, thanks to the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Charge an Electric Car Battery in 15 Minutes? Research May Power a Way

Charge an Electric Car Battery in 15 Minutes? Research May Power a Way

Technology: By predicting the movement of atoms inside a battery, UC San Diego researchers hope to make batteries more efficient and faster to charge
Robots May Make Solar Power Cheaper

Robots May Make Solar Power Cheaper

Photovoltaic (PV): A Silicon Valley firm envisions a solar future in which patient robots quietly turn solar panels to face the sun.
Solar Panels May Soon Contain Fewer Rare Elements, Become Cheaper

Solar Panels May Soon Contain Fewer Rare Elements, Become Cheaper

Photovoltaic (PV): Photovoltaic cells made out of common elements may be coming soon to a rooftop near you.
Can Fracking be Considered Renewable Energy?

Can Fracking be Considered Renewable Energy?

Technology: Natural gas may be a stepping stone to a renewable future, but that doesn't make it renewable on its own.
USC Research Offers Promise For Cheap, Rusty Energy Storage

USC Research Offers Promise For Cheap, Rusty Energy Storage

Technology: Could California's renewable energy future depend on rust?
Santa Barbara Firm Claims Breakthrough in Solar Hydrogen

Santa Barbara Firm Claims Breakthrough in Solar Hydrogen

Technology: A Santa Barbara company's solar hydrogen process was inspired by plant biology.
UCLA Engineers Develop Transparent Photovoltaic Cells

UCLA Engineers Develop Transparent Photovoltaic Cells

Photovoltaic (PV): Windows that generate power from the sun may become a reality, according to UCLA engineers.
$2 Million Funded To Study Renewable Power Shortfalls

$2 Million Funded To Study Renewable Power Shortfalls

Technology: A $2 million grant to study evening out renewable power in California goes to four companies, one of which could really use a break right about now.
U.S. Renewable Energy Fans No Longer Need to Envy Ugandans

U.S. Renewable Energy Fans No Longer Need to Envy Ugandans

Technology: U.S. customers are lining up to buy a hot renewable technology toy that had previously been available only to struggling entrepreneurs in Uganda.
California Energy Commission Plows $1.15 Million Into Renewables Research

California Energy Commission Plows $1.15 Million Into Renewables Research

Technology: The California Energy Commission ponies up more than $1 million to aid research into climate forecasting and renewable energy technologies.
China Rare Earth Strategy May Reopen California Mine

China Rare Earth Strategy May Reopen California Mine

Technology: China's decision to stop exporting strategic minerals may boost reopening of a California Desert mine