Solar energy that doesn’t block the view

Read the full story from Michigan State University.

A team of researchers at Michigan State University has developed a new type of solar concentrator that when placed over a window creates solar energy while allowing people to actually see through the window…

The research was featured on the cover of a recent issue of the journal Advanced Optical Materials.


Modeling photovoltaic diffusion: an analysis of geospatial datasets

Carolyn Davidson et al 2014 Environ. Res. Lett. 9 074009. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/9/7/074009

Abstract: This study combines address-level residential photovoltaic (PV) adoption trends in California with several types of geospatial information—population demographics, housing characteristics, foreclosure rates, solar irradiance, vehicle ownership preferences, and others—to identify which subsets of geospatial information are the best predictors of historical PV adoption. Number of rooms, heating source and house age were key variables that had not been previously explored in the literature, but are consistent with the expected profile of a PV adopter. The strong relationship provided by foreclosure indicators and mortgage status have less of an intuitive connection to PV adoption, but may be highly correlated with characteristics inherent in PV adopters. Next, we explore how these predictive factors and model performance varies between different Investor Owned Utility (IOU) regions in California, and at different spatial scales. Results suggest that models trained with small subsets of geospatial information (five to eight variables) may provide similar explanatory power as models using hundreds of geospatial variables. Further, the predictive performance of models generally decreases at higher resolution, i.e., below ZIP code level since several geospatial variables with coarse native resolution become less useful for representing high resolution variations in PV adoption trends. However, for California we find that model performance improves if parameters are trained at the regional IOU level rather than the state-wide level. We also find that models trained within one IOU region are generally representative for other IOU regions in CA, suggesting that a model trained with data from one state may be applicable in another state.

Collaborative Research Uses Camelina to Build Better Biofuel

Read the full story from Kansas State University.

A Kansas State University biochemist is improving biofuels with a promising crop: Camelina sativa. The research may help boost rural economies and provide farmers with a value-added product.

Timothy Durrett, assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics, is part of collaborative team that has received a four-year $1.5 million joint U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Energy grant. The project, led by Colorado State University, was one of 10 projects funded this year as part of the federal Plant Feedstocks Genomics for Bioenergy research program.

Fiscal Policy to Address Energy’s Environmental Impacts

Read the full story at IMF Survey.

  • Countries should reflect health, environmental costs of fuel use in energy prices
  • Setting appropriate charges on energy use could allow other taxes to be cut
  • Reforms can be initiated by finance ministers, need not await global action

Cigarette butts offer energy storage solution

Read the full story from the Institute of Physics.

A group of scientists from South Korea have converted cigarette butts into a high-performing material that could be integrated into computers, handheld devices, electrical vehicles and wind turbines to store energy…

This paper can be downloaded from

Why Energy Efficiency is About to Come Roaring Back

Read the full story in Triple Pundit.

We write a lot of stories these days about the remarkable growth of solar and wind power and how they are truly transforming the energy landscape. Another important component of this sea change is energy efficiency (EE), though we haven’t been writing as much about that, perhaps because it’s not as sexy and exciting as shiny new solar panels or towering wind turbines. But there is another reason: Investment in energy efficiency projects has been in a long-term decline, going back to a peak of about $2 billion annually in 1992, which has drifted down to about $1.2 billion in recent years…

Chris Hummel, chief marketing officer of Schneider Electric, thinks that all of that is about to change. After ticking off some $7 billion in new financing going into efficiency from state banks in Europe and the U.S., he told the Guardian the reasons why energy efficiency is about to come roaring back.

Carbon price efficiency : lock-in and path dependence in urban forms and transport infrastructure

Download the document.

This paper investigates the effect of carbon or gasoline taxes on commuting-related CO2 emissions in an urban context. To assess the impact of public transport on the efficiency of the tax, the paper investigates two exogenous scenarios using a dynamic urban model (NEDUM-2D) calibrated for the urban area of Paris: (i) a scenario with the current dense public transport infrastructure, and (ii) a scenario without. It is shown that the price elasticity of CO2 emissions is twice as high in the short run if public transport options exist. Reducing commuting-related emissions thus requires lower (and more acceptable) tax levels in the presence of dense public transportation. If the goal of a carbon or gasoline tax is to change behaviors and reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions (not to raise revenues), then there is an incentive to increase the price elasticity through complementary policies such as public transport development. The emission elasticity also depends on the baseline scenario and is larger when population growth and income growth are high. In the longer run, elasticities are higher and similar in the scenarios with and without public transport, because of larger urban reconfiguration in the latter scenario. These results are policy relevant, especially for fast-growing cities in developing countries. Even for cities where emission reductions are not a priority today, there is an option value attached to a dense public transport network, since it makes it possible to reduce emissions at a lower cost in the future.