This Week in Sustainability: New Developments in Renewable Energy

| Josh Henretig

windturbsThis week, Mother Nature Network penned a story looking at how a former German air raid bunker has been repurposed as a renewable energy facility. The building, which had sat unused for decades, was transformed by the International Building Exhibition Hamburg, a group dedicated to turning abandoned buildings in Hamburg into carbon-conscious structures. This time, the IBA took the bunker and covered one side of the cement tower in photovoltaic arrays producing electricity for up to 1,000 local homes. Even better, the building boasts a 528,000-gallon capacity reservoir which was originally intended as shelter for civilians during the war. As the piece notes, now the reservoir serves as a way to store thermal heat, as it is heated by a solar array, woodchip boiler, a combined biomethane heat and power facility and waste heat from a close by industrial plant, generating enough power for up to 3,000 homes. If that’s not impressive enough, the building saves 6,600 metric tons of CO2 per year.

While the Hamburg project is bringing energy to more homes, another initiative is using IT to make existing wind turbines more productive. Clean Technica examined how General Electric is implementing its PowerUp software and hardware technology in order to increase the output of wind turbines. Ultimately, PowerUp can increase the output of wind turbines by 5 percent by taking performance information from the turbine, and using software upgrades to optimize the production of each specific turbine. While the technology was first implemented in November 2013, GE is now incorporating it into 402 wind turbines across 5 farms in the US. This could amount to an additional 420,000 MW hours of energy or enough power for 33,000 US homes, all thanks to an inventive application of software.

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