Top stories on our radar this week in the world of clean tech.
Smart GridNest Labs Files Counterclaims In Honeywell Suit Nest has filed Answer and Counterclaims in Honeywell’s patent infringement suit over its smart thermostat technology. Nest denies the claims of patent infringement and calls Honeywell's patents invalid. Nest says it has the resources to vigorously defend itself.
Munich Gets Smart Munich's utility company SWM is using smart grid controls to integrate and manage 12 power plants, six of which are renewable energy installations (one wind farm and five hydro plants). Siemens AG is providing the city with its distributed energy management system, which, according to SmartPlanet, "makes note of weather forecasts, current electricity prices, and demand, and then plans production accordingly. A windy forecast, for instance, would cue more reliance on the wind farm."
UK to Roll Out 50 Million Smart Meters by 2020 The UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change released documents detailing the deployment of 50 million smart meters to 30 million homes by 2020. The huge project is expected to bring the UK $11 billion in benefits. The documents outline standards like no matter what the vendor, each meter will be able to connect with the nationwide communications platform and will be able to interface with communications networks inside of the home.
Connecticut Installing Energy Management Systems at All State Buildings
The state of Connecticut has chosen EnerNOC to outfit 100 state facilities including colleges, medical campuses, correctional facilities, and other state buildings with metering and energy monitoring equipment to help reduce energy use. The project is part of Connecticut's Lead by Example program that is aiming to demonstrate the economic benefits of energy efficiency.
Data Centers / Computing
IBM Simplifies IT Systems, Could Shrink Size of Data Centers IBM unveiled its new integrated systems family – PureSystems -- that brings together all IT elements, both physical and virtual. This new system has a key green feature: it's design combines the server, storage, and networking, which allows for greater computing density. IBM claims that PureSystems is capable of doubling the computing power per square foot of data center space, which would mean data centers could scale up processing without scaling up space, reducing energy used for operating and cooling extra racks of servers.
Alaska’s 1st Utility-Scale Wind Farm Gets Energy Storage Boost from Xtreme Power Alaska's Pillar Mountain Wind Project has contracted Xtreme Power to provide a 3-MW battery storage system for the wind farm. Pillar Mountain is currently 4.5 MW but has plans to expand to 9 MW and as that expansion starts feeding the grid, Xtreme's battery system will help smooth out any instability.
Nanoparticles Could Create Efficient Lithium-Sulfur Batteries Researchers have developed porous carbon nanoparticles that in a lab demonstrate the ability to increase the capacity, conductivity and stability of lithium-sulfur batteries. Lithium-sulfur batteries could prove to be a lighter weight replacement for lithium-ion batteries and this new research could improve their energy density and performance.
New Record Set for Solar Cells Converting Indoor Light to Electricity UK company G24 Innovations has reached a new record for converting indoor light from bulbs into electricity with its dye-sensitized solar cells. The cells were able to hit 26 percent efficiency, a huge jump over the previous record of 15 percent. This gets the technology to a place where it could be used to help power smart phones and other gadgets.
Harmless Bacteria Found in Cornflakes Could Make Greener Solar Cells A doctoral student at Kansas State University has found that a harmless bacteria, Mycobacterium smegmatis, found in soil and even cornflakes, can be used to make more efficient dye-sensitized solar cells with less toxic materials.
Self-Repair Coating for Touchscreens Ready for Market Japanese company Toray will start mass producing a self-repair coating for touchscreens that automatically repairs itself when scratched. The coating could lead to a longer lifespan for touchscreen electronics and hopefully make those plastic film screen protectors obsolete.