The Cochin International Airport in the southern state of Kerala, India is officially the world’s first airport thats runs exclusively on solar power. The entire facility is “absolutely power neutral”—meaning it creates just as much energy as it consumes.
The airport just launched a 12 megawatt solar power plant earlier this week made up of more than 46,000 solar panels laid across 45 acres. This capacity should allow the airport to generate 50,000 to 60,000 thousand units of electricity per day, which is just over what the airport consumes in a typical day.
The International Energy Agency recently found that renewables are now the world's second largest source of electricity.
On August 12th, Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced a new power purchase agreement (PPA) for wind energy from an Iberdrola Renewables wind farm in southwestern Pennsylvania. Wind power will supply the District of Columbia’s government buildings with 35 percent of their electricity, all while saving $45 million for D.C. taxpayers over the next 20 years. This agreement is the largest purchase of wind energy by a US city to-date.
Dr. Umit Koylu, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology, has received a six-month $50,000 Innovation Corps Teams (I Corps) Program grant from the National Science Foundation to accelerate tech-transfer and explore commercialization of a biology-inspired polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cell. And the campus flora is his inspiration.
“Nature perfected its natural delivery system,” Koylu says, glancing out his window. “Our team of researchers came up with an engineering version of it.”
To get useable energy out of fuel cells, they have to be stacked together, which takes up a lot of space to produce minimal results. However, the bio-inspired fuel cells are expected to increase peak power density by up to 30 percent over conventional fuel cells, Koylu says. That means bio-inspired cells would take up less space than current models, or more could be stacked in the same amount of space, increasing power.
New Zealand generates over three quarters of its electricity from renewable sources, second only to Iceland in the OCED. Most of this energy comes from geothermal and hydroelectric generation, and the country plans to run 90% renewable energy by 2025.
However, New Zealand solar capacity of only 13 mW, representing only .1% of the country's electricity generation. Much of the underinvestment in solar energy can be attributed to the minimal support the industry has received: New Zealand has no legally mandated subsidies, feed-in tariffs or net metering.
Additionally, many power companies will not pay wholesale for domestic solar energy, and utility-scale installations remain virtually non-existent. PM John Key rejected a Green Party proposal for cheap loans for solar installations.
Nonetheless, the future of solar energy may be bright in New Zealand, for as solar technology edges closer to grid parity in New Zealand, there will be a greater interest from the general public.