LightSail Energy Advances Grid-Scale Compressed Air Energy Storage. LightSail Energy has developed an advanced grid-scale compressed air energy storage (CAES) technology that stores mechanical energy rather than electrochemical energy. With CAES, an electricity-powered air compressor drives air into storage tanks and the compressed air can then be released on demand to generate electricity. The LightSail system captures and stores both the mechanical energy and the thermal energy used in compressing air. To do this, a water mist is infused into the compression chamber as the air is compressed. Water can hold 3,300 times as much heat as the same volume of air, and as such, it is able to capture the heat generated by the process more effectively. Both potential energy in the form of pressurized air and the heated (and therefore higher-energy) water can be stored. The LightSail team is working on the system’s round-trip efficiency and report they have “consistently achieved over 90 percent thermodynamic efficiency.” The company will ship its first product in 2013, with a unit size somewhere between half a megawatt to a megawatt. (Greentech Media.com, 2012; LightSailEnergy, 2012)
More Than Half of Germany’s Renewable Energy Owned by Citizens or Farms. Slightly over half of renewable energy in Germany is now owned not by corporations but by actual biological people — a democratic shift in control of resources and a break from the way electricity and energy has been produced over the past century. Of all renewable energy in Germany 51% is now owned by individual citizens or farms, totaling $100 billion worth of private investment in clean energy. Breaking that down into solar power and wind power, 50% of Germany’s solar PV is owned by individuals and farms, while 54% of its wind power is held by the same groups. In total there’s roughly 17 GW of solar PV installed in Germany—versus roughly 3.6 GW in the US (based on SEIA’s figures for new installations though the third quarter of 2011 plus the 2.6 GW installed going into the year). Germany now produces slightly over 20% of all its electricity from renewable sources.