As detailed in the recently released 2016 Revolution…Now report, the U.S. wind energy industry has forged a trajectory of sustained growth thanks to rapidly decreasing costs and increasing market demand.
Let’s take a deeper dive to better understand where we’ve been, where we are now, and where we’re headed in the near future.
1. The cost of land-based wind has dropped by 41% since 2008, and wind capacity has tripled in the same timeframe.
As you can see in the chart above, the cost of wind energy has decreased significantly in the past 35 years from more than 60 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) in 1980 to about 7 cents/kWh today, unsubsidized. Naturally, as wind energy has become less expensive, it has become an increasingly popular renewable energy option around the country. More than 35 years ago there was virtually no wind energy on the U.S. electric grid. Now, there is approximately 75 gigawatts (GW) of wind capacity in the United States. In the past seven years alone, wind power has tripled in capacity from 25 GW to 75 GW, providing more than 5% of our consumed energy.
2. Scaling up size to capture better wind.
Another trend driving growth in wind farm installations across America’s landscape is the increasing size of wind turbines. As developers deploy larger wind turbines, they are able to generate even more clean electric power by tapping higher quality, steadier winds, which in turn makes more areas in more states attractive for wind deployment. And turbines are slated to grow even taller in the future, so we’ve got nowhere to go but up!
Continued investments in key technology improvements such as taller turbines and longer blades have helped drive down costs and improve performance. For example, wind energy has yet to reach its potential in the southeastern United States. However, by utilizing taller towers and longer blades to extract more energy from stronger winds at higher elevations, we can unleash cost-effective deployment in more regions of the U.S, including the Southeast.
3. The future is here for offshore wind.
The oceans contain virtually unlimited potential for clean energy. Following on examples from abroad, the United States now (as of October 2016) has wind turbines installed off the coast of Rhode Island. This 30-MW offshore wind farm—America’s first—is slated to be fully operational by the end of the year. Last month, we released the National Offshore Wind Strategy in conjunction with the U.S. Department of the Interior. The strategy document details how the wind industry can accelerate the responsible deployment of offshore wind energy in the United States.
In fact, Revolution…Now states that “the technical potential of offshore wind resources is enough to generate more electricity than twice what the U.S. generated from all sources of electricity in 2015.” While the domestic offshore wind industry still faces challenges, the potential of this technology to capture high quality wind resources close to coastal load centers makes it a key future source of clean electricity for the nation.
4. Wind has great future potential by 2050.
Wind still has massive untapped potential, as shown in a recent Energy Department report titled Wind Vision: A New Era for Wind Power in the United States, which outlines how wind energy could generate 20% of the nation’s electricity by 2030 and 35% by 2050. Industry observers expect technological advancements to continue to drive down costs in the future. In fact, a recent survey of wind experts indicated that wind energy costs could fall another 35% by 2050. With continuous technological innovation, transmission expansion, and continued federal and state support, wind can continue to grow and unlock its wide array of benefits in all 50 states.
( Source: written by Jose Zayas Wind Energy Technologies Office Director)
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are new technologies which have been making all kinds of waves recently; but VR and AR are not only going to be used for gaming, several companies are exploring applications for VR and AR to be used in education. Around 90% of what we see and do is retained, which is something that has always been missing from education; students do not retain as much information if they are just reading a textbook compared to having more real applications of what they’re learning. Which is why VR and AR in education are so beneficial; these technologies engage students in a completely new way which is more fun and engaging for them, and it increases retention. Several companies are currently working on innovations in this space; and the work we’ve seen so far is surely a good sign of things to come.
Immersive VR Education
Lecture VR is a VR app by Immersive VR Education which simulates a lecture hall in virtual reality, while adding special effects which can’t be utilized in a traditional classroom setting. Lectures are accompanied by images, videos, and immersive experiences which enhance the lesson. Imagine learning about Apollo 11 and while the instructor is lecturing, they can transform the classroom to be inside the space shuttle which they’re lecturing about; adding much more to the lecture than would be traditionally possible. Another major asset of this type of learning is that students and professors can remote in from anywhere in the world, which makes education more accessible on a global level.
Unimersiv is a VR learning platform which releases educational content on a monthly basis. The content in Unimersiv’s app is more individualized and immersive, and at the moment the 3 educational experiences available on the app are: Explore the International Space Station, Anatomy VR, and Learn about Stonehenge in Virtual Reality. The diversity in this content shows the true potential in the range of things we can learn by using VR in education; and it also shows that Unimersiv is dedicated to creating educational content on a wide range of topics, which makes their potential truly unlimited.
Google Expeditions Pioneer Program
Google is also making waves in the space of VR education with their exciting Expeditions Pioneer Program. The purpose of the program is for Expeditions teams from Google to visit schools around the world and provide everything teachers need to take their students on a journey anywhere; the team will also assist the teachers in setting up and utilizing this technology. The VR experiences are meant to be like a really cool field trip which teachers would ordinarily never be able to take their students on; whether it’s to an underwater coral reef, or into a city like Barcelona, the potential is truly limitless here. The way the app works is that the students and the teacher will see the same things and be in the same session, but the teacher will be able to lecture and highlight certain things which are relevant to the lesson.
Alchemy VR is creating immersive educational experiences on an impressive scale. The experiences on Alchemy VR are like a narrative being told to the user where they will get to see and experience a myriad of different things; one such example is exploring the Great Barrier Reef. What makes Alchemy VR standout in this space is their partnerships which contribute to the level of content they produce. Alchemy VR is partnered with Samsung, Google Expeditions, Sony, HTC, the Natural History Museum in London, and the Australian Museum in Sydney. Alchemy VR has actually made several projects for Google Expeditions and is set to release experiences on pyramids and the human body soon.
Discovery has been telling stories like no one else for over 30 years; and now they are entering the modern era with their Discovery VR app. Some of your favorite content is available on the Discovery VR app, so you can experience some of your favorite Discovery shows in a whole new way. Discovery brining content to virtual reality is great for the space of education in virtual reality; Discovery has been creating educational content for years, they’re a household name and when people hear you can watch Deadliest Catch or Mythbusters in Virtual Reality it might just get more people interested in the potential applications of virtual reality for education.
zSpace is unique in the space of education in VR because of the technology they’re using. zSpace feels that VR technology should not necessarily be so antisocial and one sided as everyone putting on their own headset. zSpace has monitors which are similar to the way 3D movies work, where a group of people use glasses which are similar in feel to 3D glasses; these glasses make the content come off the screen. Additionally zSpace users have a pen which they use in order to manipulate the stimulus as you can see below. zSpace currently has content available for STEM education, medical training, and more general math and science experiences.
Curiscope is a startup company focusing on education in VR, and their Virtual Tee is already turning heads. The way it works is that one person wears a t-shirt while another person with a smartphone launches the app and is able to learn about the human body in a unique way. This is a unique way to utilize AR in education and it is surely a sign of good things to come from Curiscope.
Woofbert VR is focusing on bringing art to VR technology, they are looking to reshape the landscape of storytelling and revolutionize the way we look at art and culture. WoofbertVR is a unique way to visit an art gallery, either individually or in a classroom setting giving students the opportunity to take a field trip which they would never normally get to experience. Exploring a gallery using WoffbertVR’s app is nearly identical to how you would explore it in person; you can follow any path you choose, zoom in on paintings you are interested in, and listen to audio segments on certain exhibits. The only difference here is that you do not need to take an expensive trip in order to visit a gallery which has some of your favorite paintings or pieces, now it can be done from the comfort of your own home.
Nearpod is an organization which combines VR and AR technology with traditional lesson plans in a classroom for a more immersive technology driven approach to learning. Nearpod utilizes 360 degree photos and videos in lesson plans, and also has something akin to a PowerPoint for students to use alongside the 360 photos and videos. There are also options to have students answer questions by typing into their laptop or tablet. Nearpod VR is giving us an idea of what a classroom of the future is going to look like, with lesson plans being enhanced with VR and AR technology and students being more engaged by using this new technology.
EON Reality is looking to change how teachers utilize technology in the classroom. Students and teachers can create blended learning environments with the EON Creator, which is an interactive tool that allows users to combine 3D content with videos, sound effects, notes, Powerpoint, and more. EON also has an EON Experience Portal where teachers and students can upload their work and also explore the creations of other teachers and students. There is also the EON Colliseum where students and teachers can meet virtually, which makes collaboration possible at any time and from nearly any location.
Schell Games is one of the largest independent game development companies in the United States; with their forte being in what they refer to as transformation games, or games that change people for the better. Among the countless games they have developed includes Water Bears VR, which is a VR puzzle game aimed at kids that promotes systems thinking and spatial recognition. There has always been a challenge in education with engaging students, especially kids, and making learning fun has always been a practical solution to that challenge. With companies like Schell Games producing fun VR games for kids, which have the added bonus of being educational, we find a fun solution to the challenge of getting kids interested in learning.
Gamar is a company who is attempting to make museum visits more modern through the use of Augmented Reality. The way that Gamar’s content works is that they have interactive experiences and supplemental information which can be paired with certain locations to enhance museum visits. One of the chief rules of a museum is not to touch anything, but with Gamar’s app museum attendees will be able to point their smartphone or tablet at an exhibit at one of their paired locations and get additional information on that exhibit. Museum visits can be tedious for kids when all they want to do is pull out their smartphones and play with them. Gamar has provided a solution to this problem by finding a way to engage kids in museums and doing it in a way that’s interesting to them and on their level. AR and VR technology are great tools for education, but if we can’t get kids to use them then it’s all for not; which is why we need organizations like Gamar who find ways to get kids to utilize this technology in educational ways.
A unique take on 360 images has been developed for classroom use by ThingLink. The way that their technology works is that it allows teachers, or students, to annotate 360 images with various interactive tags, or links to different videos or applications or third party tools. Imagine being able to look at a 360 picture of London and click on various things throughout the picture, one tag might be a video enhancing something you are looking at, while another tag might be a writing assignment or a place to record notes. This kind of all in one learning experience will help in breakages in immersion which would typically occur in learning which utilizes VR or AR technology. If students do not have to look away from a 360 image in order to take notes or do an assignment then the immersion will never truly be broken. ThingLink’s technology encourages students and teachers to utilize AR in the classroom for a unique one stop experience, and it has the potential to shape adoption of VR and AR technology in the classroom on a broad scale due to its appeal to students and teachers alike, not just one or the other.
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are the next big step forward in education, and these technologies are good for educators and students alike. Educators will be able to capture the attention of their students like never before and get them more actively involved in the classroom. Students are always trying to do what’s cool and what’s new; utilizing VR and AR technology in classrooms will appeal to students because it’s the latest and greatest thing and it’s very cool to use. Using VR and AR technology will not only make learning more interesting and exciting to students but it will also increase retention because it engages them in a way which textbooks simply cannot compete with. These technologies give us a window into the future of education, and it probably won’t be long until it is standard for classrooms to come equipped with some form of VR or AR technology.
( Source: Touch Stone Research)
Energy Department Announces Up to $107 Million for Innovative Projects and New Funding to Advance Solar Technologies
Today the Energy Department announced up to $107 million in new projects and planned funding in order to support America’s continued leadership in clean energy innovation through solar technology. Under the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (EERE) SunShot Initiative, the Department will fund 40 projects with a total of $42 million to improve PV performance, reliability, and manufacturability, and to enable greater market penetration for solar technologies. In addition to the new projects announced today, the Department intends to make up to $65 million, subject to appropriation, in additional funding available for upcoming solar research and development projects to continue driving down the cost of solar energy and accelerating widespread national deployment.
One of SunShot’s goals is to drive down the levelized cost of utility-scale solar electricity to $0.06 per kilowatt-hour without incentives by 2020. The projects and new funding announced today aim to reach costs well below that threshold, furthering the Obama Administration’s commitment to advancing solar technology as a resource for clean energy in America’s low-carbon economy.
“Since 2008, the commitments made by the Department of Energy have contributed to solar PV’s deployment growing 30-fold and overall costs falling more than 60%,” said Under Secretary for Science and Energy Franklin Orr. “Continuing to invest in solar technologies will help to drive down costs even further for American consumers and ensure that the U.S. maintains global leadership in this century’s clean energy economy.”
Today’s announcements encompass several programs within EERE’s SunShot Initiative. Additional details on the announcements are below:
PV Research and Development Program: $17 Million for 19 Advanced PV Technologies
SunShot selected 19 projects to receive a total of $17 million under the PV Research and Development Program to improve the performance, reliability, and manufacturability of existing PV technology while seeking to advance next generation solar technology development. The new research and development projects focus on both current and emerging PV technologies aimed at improving power conversion efficiency and energy output, while also enhancing service lifetime and decreasing hardware costs. These projects could significantly lower solar PV costs from SunShot’s 2020 targets to support even more widespread deployment of PV technologies across the nation. Click here to view the list of awardees.
Technology to Market Program: $25 Million for 21 Rapid Solar Innovation Projects
To accelerate the current growth trajectory of solar energy in America, the Department is also announcing nearly $25 million for 21 new projects under SunShot’s Technology to Market Program. The funding will support the development of new tools, technologies and services for the solar industry by helping to reduce hardware costs, improve business operational efficiency, and broaden the investor pool for project development. Additionally, the projects will yield products that can leverage new, emerging technologies and assist in streamlining regulatory processes. Click here to view the list of awardees.
Future Funding for PV Technology, Technology to Market and Systems Integration Programs
Later this year, SunShot intends to make up to $65 million, subject to appropriation, in additional funding available under the PV Research and Development Program, Technology to Market Program, and its Systems Integration Program. The PV Research and Development Program is expected to make up to $25 million available in funding to improve PV module and system design, including hardware and software solutions that facilitate the rapid installation and interconnection of PV systems. The Technology to Market Program expects up to $30 million to be made available for projects that accelerate the commercialization of products and solutions that can help to drive down the cost of solar energy. Finally, SunShot will make up to $10 million available under its Systems Integration Program for projects that are focused on improving solar irradiance and power forecasts that will accelerate data integration into energy management systems used by utilities.
(Source: Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy)
Bio-microsystem is a group of miniaturized and integrated devices for biological or biochemical reactions in diagnostics, monitoring, therapy, and research and development. Some of the advantages of bio-microsystems are parallelism, integrated intelligence, low cost, speed, complexity and redundancy. Biochip is one of the examples of technical development of bio-microsystem. Biochip is a collection of microarrays arranged on a solid substrate which allows hundreds or thousands of complex biochemical reactions such as decoding genes in few seconds. Biochips are used in variety of applications such as research application in biotechnology such as genomics and proteomics, drug screening and development and molecular diagnostics. It also offers other diagnostic applications such as microfluidic technologies, microarray and biosensors. Biochip is also used to analyze organic molecules associated with living organisms. Biochip helps in identifying gene sequences, airborne toxins, environmental pollutants and other biochemical constituents. There are various types of biochips such as DNA chips, lab-on-a-chip and protein chips. Chip based analysis is mainly used in on-site diagnostics.
North America dominates the global market for biochips due to large number of aging population and broad technical applications of biochips. Asia followed by the Europe are expected to show high growth rates in the next five years in global biochips market. China and India are expected to be the fastest growing biochips markets in Asia-Pacific region. Some of the key driving forces for biochip market in emerging countries are increasing R&D investment, large pool of patients and rising government funding.
In recent times there is increased use of biochips due to increasing cancer treatment and diagnostics. Rise in personalized medicine, drug discovery and life science research, need for high speed diagnostics and increased government funding are some of the key factors driving the growth for global biochips market. In addition, increasing healthcare awareness is also fuelling the growth of global biochips market. However, limited technical knowledge related to biochips, low acceptance due to high cost and availability of alternative technologies are some of the major factors restraining the growth for global biochip market.
Increasing R&D investment and outsourcing of pharmaceutical companies would lead to growth in biochips market in Asia. In addition, broaden application of biochips products would develop opportunity for global biochip market. However, high cost involved in manufacturing of biochips could lead a challenge for global biochips market. Some of the trends for global biochips market are outsourcing of biochips technology, which would help in reducing labor cost and capital requirement. Some of the major companies operating in the global biochips market are Affymetric Inc, Illumina Inc, GE Healthcare Ltd, Agilent Technologies Inc. Roche NimbleGen, Life Technologies Corporation, EMD Millipore., Bio-Rad Laboratories Inc, Abbott Laboratories and Fluidigm Corporation.
( Source: Persistence Market Research)
The proof-of-concept device can pack hundreds of times as much data per square inch than the most advanced, commercially available data-storage technologies today.
By manipulating the interactions between individual atoms, scientists report they have created a device that can pack hundreds of times more information per square inch than the best currently available data-storage technologies.
The working prototype is part of a decades-long attempt to shrink electronics down to the atomic level, a feat scientists believe would allow them to store information much more efficiently, in less space and more cheaply. By comparison, tech companies today build warehouse-sized data centers to store the billions of photos, videos and posts consumers upload to the internet daily. Corporations including International Business Machines Corp. and Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. also have explored research to reduce such space needs.
The so-called atomic-scale memory, described in a paper published on Monday in the scientific journal Nature Nanotechnology, can hold one kilobyte, the equivalent of roughly a paragraph of text.
It may not sound “very impressive,” said Franz Himpsel, a professor emeritus of physics at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, who wasn’t involved in the study. But “I would call it a breakthrough.”
Most previous attempts at encoding information with atoms, including his own, managed roughly one byte, Dr. Himpsel said. And data could be stored only once. To store new information, the “disk” had to be re-formatted, like CD-Rs popular in the ’90s.
With the new device, “we can rewrite it as often as we like,” said Sander Otte, an experimental physicist at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands and the lead author on the new paper.
The researchers first stored a portion of Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species” on the device. They then replaced that with 160 words from a 1959 lecture by physicist Richard Feynman in which he imagined a world powered by devices running on atomic-scale memory.
To build their prototype, the scientists peppered a flat copper bed with about 60,000 chlorine atoms scattered at random, purposely leaving roughly 8,000 empty spaces among them. A mapping algorithm guided the tiny, copper-coated tip of a high-tech microscope to gently pull each chlorine atom to a predetermined location, creating a precise arrangement of atoms and neighboring “holes.”
The team also crafted a language for their device. The stored information is encoded in the patterns of holes between atoms. The atom-tugging needle reads them as ones and zeros, turning them into regular binary code.
The researchers marked up the grid with instructions that cued the software where it should direct the needle to write and read data. For instance, a three-hole diagonal line marked the end of a file.
“That’s what I really love in this work,” said Elke Scheer, a nanoscientist at the University of Konstanz in Germany not involved with the study. “It’s not just physics. It’s also informatics.”
Writing the initial data to the device took about a week, though the rewriting process takes just a few hours, Dr. Otte said.
“It’s automated, so it’s 10 times faster than previous examples,” said Christopher Lutz, a staff scientist at IBM Research-Almaden in San Jose, Calif. Still, “this is very exploratory. It’s important not to see this one-kilobyte memory result as something that can be taken directly to a product.”
Reading the stored data is much too slow to have practical applications soon. Plus, the device is stable for only a few hours at extremely low temperatures. To be competitive with today’s hard drives, the memory would have to persist for years and work in warmer temperatures, said Victor Zhirnov, chief scientist at the Semiconductor Research Corp., a research consortium based in Durham, N.C.
When Dr. Otte’s team took the memory out of the extremely low-temperature environment in which it was built and stored, the information it held was lost. Next, his team will explore other metal surfaces as well as elements similar to, but heavier than, chlorine, to see if that improves the device’s stability.
“There’s many combinations to play with,” he said.
(Written by Daniela Hernandez, Wall Street Journal. Further readings:.)