5 Green Tech Stories You Should Be Reading: April 13, 2012

What’s the Internet a-buzz with today? Tweaking green tech to make solar and offshore wind cheaper, easier and more available, considering the implications of grid power and energy storage for EVs, and green neighborhoods—plus a financial overview of the solar industry’s first quarter.

wind power barges dong

image via Dong Energy

1. “Wind Power Seen Surging as Custom Barges Cut Set-Up Costs” – Bloomberg – Though wind power is currently three times the cost of electricity from coal power, Dong Energy is constructing custom-built barges specialized for offshore wind that can build wind farms in deeper water and deal with rougher seas, which will speed up wind farm construction while drastically reducing the price. Prior to this barges used for oil exploration were used, at greater cost and less effectively.

2. “Start-Up EV Grid to Pioneer Vehicle-to-Grid Technology” – Green Tech Media – As electric vehicles become more commonplace and the possibility that large-scale EV charging will strain the grid grows, the need for a comprehensive EV-grid plan is becoming more necessary. One vehicle-to-grid (V2G) plan would involve using car batteries as a source of energy storage, and researchers are currently weighing their options as to how to implement an idea like this.

3. “A Smarter Mirror for Cheaper Solar Power” – CNET – To cut down on the cost of solar power, startup Thermata developed a smart solar mirror, a heliostat equipped with an HD camera and a wireless connection, allowing it to follow the sun in real time, reducing costs in concentrated solar plants. Their small size and wireless capability also serves to make them cheaper and easier to operate, all while achieving optimal angles for energy collection.

4. “The Greenest Building May Actually Be a Neighborhood” – The Atlantic Cities – Building or renovating houses singularly to be LEED-certified is tough, but what might be easier is greening entire neighborhoods in one fell swoop. UCLA grad students are studying the planning of the Playa del Rey neighborhood in Los Angeles, and looking for ways to make the neighborhood not only greener, but also give it more of a sense of community.

5. “Solar Industry Sees More VC Deals, But Total Investment is Down” – Renewable Energy World – The number of venture capital (VC) deals in the solar industry has grown to record numbers, but investments in terms of number of dollars are shrinking—2011′s first quarter saw total investments at $658 million, while 2012′s first quarter was only at $329 million. However, 2012 saw 34 deals while 2011 saw only 25 in their respective first quarters.

Laura Caseley is a graduate of SUNY New Paltz and a resident of New York State’s Hudson Valley. She writes for several publications and when she’s not writing, she can usually be found painting in her makeshift studio or enjoying the scenery of her hometown.