smart energy

US power and gas utility DTE Energy last week announced that it received approval from the Detroit City Council to carry out a solar energy project.Under the approved programme, the energy company will develop a solar energy plant in the city as from May through to the last quarter of 2016.

In a press statement, the company serving some 3.4m electric and gas customers in Michigan said the plant, to be developed on a 10 acre piece of land, will produce smart energy able to power 450 homes.

The project is expected to generate US$1m in tax revenue for the city over a 20 year period.

[quote] The utility said the project falls under its plans to exceed Michigan’s 2008 Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard which required the utility to generate 10% of its total capacity from smart energy by 2015.

In line with its plans to optimise its operations, DTE said it will invest more than US$1 billion over the next 10 years to modernize the City's energy grid.

To date, the company has invested more than US$67m towards the development of solar energy plants since 2008 and is targeting to have 31 solar arrays capable of powering over 14,000 homes by the end of this year.

Solar energy in the US

In early March, smart energy technology company SolarWindow announced it has entered into phase 3 of its Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the US Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

Commenting on the development, John A. Conklin, CEO of SolarWindow said: ‘With this CRADA extension in place, we’re one step closer to launching what is possibly the single greatest breakthrough technology in clean energy to help us overcome our dependence on fossil fuels.”

Phase 3 of the programme allows the two to continue R&D of a solar technology to enhance performance, scale and reliability at the same time obtain performance certifications for a commercial rollout.

Under the CRADA, SolarWindow and NREL developed SolarWindow transparent electricity-generating coatings, which can be used by skyscrapers for solar technology power generation.

The extension will also focus on the product’s large-scale window fabrication and interconnection development for easy ‘plug-n-play’ on site installation.

Dr. Maikel van Hest, a senior scientist in the Thin Film and Processing Group within the National Center for Photovoltaics at NREL, said: “The prospect of skyscrapers generating electricity from see-through window products is very exciting.”

Maikel added: “SolarWindow and NREL have advanced the technology by enhancing scale, efficiency and reliability.”

SolarWindow claims its technology can provide a one-year financial payback while producing 50-times greater energy than rooftop solar when modeled for a 50-story building.

At the same time, SolarWindow shows 15-times the environmental benefit of rooftop solar by avoiding 2.2 million miles of equivalent carbon dioxide emissions produced by vehicles.

The development came at a time SolarWindow's survey stated that 5 million tall towers and commercial buildings in the US are said to be consuming 40% of the total electricity generated.