Sunday, January 2, 2011

Latest From : CleanTechnica

Latest From : CleanTechnica

New “Foam Party” for Plants Could Boost Greenhouse Efficiency

Posted: 02 Jan 2011 07:00 AM PST

Sunarc develops new cooling foam to save energy in greenhousesA new foam developed by researchers at Sunarc of Canada, Inc. promises to give greenhouse-grown plants a boost during the summer months, without expending excess energy on conventional shading devices. In terms of the refreshing and cooling effect, the new technology is like a foam party for flora – the only catch is, the party takes place on the roof and not indoors.

The Need for More and Better Greenhouses

As crop damage due to droughts, floods,  and other weather-related events becomes more widespread due to climate change, the relatively stable environment of greenhouses will play an increasingly important role in food supply. However, greenhouses are not completely immune to the effects of climate change. Hot summer temperatures have always been problematic for greenhouse plants, making it necessary for growers to spend money – and lots of energy – on cooling pads, foggers, shades, and other means of reducing the destructive effects of too much solar radiation. With climate change comes even hotter summers, and that brings up the potential for a significant increase in the amount of energy needed to run an efficient greenhouse.

New Cooling Foam for Greenhouses

Sunarc’s energy efficient solution is a foam that is spread between two layers of polyethylene film. The foam insulates the greenhouse from excess heat, reducing the need for forced-air ventilation. In contrast to mechanical shades, on sunny days the foam mimics the action of clouds, allowing more natural light to enter without adding to heat stress. At dusk and on cloudy days, the foam is drained off into a storage system to be re-diffused when needed.

Greenhouses and Energy Efficiency

Aside from new energy-efficient cooling technologies, more improvements are on the horizon. In Italy, solar industry leader Solyndra is testing a greenhouse with a built-in photovoltaic installation, which could provide more than enough energy to run a greenhouse.  Another focal point for energy saving is the sensing and monitoring systems used in many greenhouses; for example, California-based ClimateMinder is developing a solar powered greenhouse monitoring system that can run on solar power or stored energy.

Image (altered) Foam by rosmary on

1 GW Green Energy Storage Facility in Mexico Could Open Power Trading Opportunities with US

Posted: 02 Jan 2011 04:00 AM PST

Mexico is building a green energy storage facility with a capacity of 1000 MW at Mexicali, Baja California. The project will be carried out by Rubenius, a Dubai-based alternate energy and smart gird solutions provider. The facility would require an investment of $4 billion and is expected become operational in five to seven years.

During the announcement of the project, Mexico’s President Calderon emphasized on the need of energy storage facilities to ensure an increased contribution of renewable energy sources in power generation. Pointing out the intermittent nature of renewable energy-based power, he justified the establishment of the project.

President Calderon also pointed out that Northern Mexico is rich in renewable energy resources, specifically solar energy in Sonara and wind energy in Baja California.

Rubenius announced its plans of increasing market share in the clean energy markets in Mexico and the United States. The company also announced that it would offer its smart gird and off-grid energy solutions to the Mexican government which plans to establish pilot projects to try out off-grid power systems in its remote towns and cities which will be based on either solar energy or wind energy.

Rubenius will open its research and development facility in San Diego. The company is likely to launch new products and services to make the most of the pro-investment policies of California in the renewable energy sector.

During the earlier discussions between Rubenius and the government of Mexico, the possibility of power trading with California was also discussed. Grid connectivity is available between Baja California and the US which could be for supplying power (generated from large solar energy power plants located in California) to the storage facility and then supplied back during peak hours.

The storage facility wil make use of high-capacity sodium sulfide batteries. These batteries have very high efficiency of about 89 percent and can be used continuously due to reversible charging and discharging cycles. For more information about sodium sulfide batteries, read The Energy Blog.

Image: Duke Energy at Flickr/CC

Top 10 Clean Tech Stories of 2010

Posted: 01 Jan 2011 12:33 PM PST

I know, I’m one of the few people who actually waited until the beginning of 2011 to do a 2010 top 10 list. Hope that you haven’t seen enough of them by now.

A top 10 list of clean tech stories is pretty hard to come up with these days, given the extremely rapid growth in this industry. Here’s a shot at it:

10. Electric Vehicles Roll Out in U.S.

From the Nissan Leaf to the Chevy Volt to the charging stations that make electric vehicles possible, 2010 ushered in a new era of automobiles and related infrastructure. I expect we’ll be seeing a lot more of that in 2011.

9. Solar-Nuclear Crossover

This caught a lot of people’s attention when the news broke. And for good reason. More of a symbolic thing than anything else, the point that solar has come so far is really something. Oh yeah, the specific story I’m referencing is that a report showed that solar energy costs are now lower than nuclear energy costs. Extremely rapid growth of the solar energy industry is an obvious result and another top news story that ties into this (I’m combining these for the purpose of this list). "Solar is now the fastest growing energy industry in the U.S., employing nearly 100,000 Americans and generating billions of dollars of economic growth for our economy."

8. 2010 U.S. Elections

Well, it was expected, given that our economy could not recover economically from 8 years of Bush as president in less than 2. Nonetheless, the Republican (and even Tea Party) wins of 2010 are going to make for a rough couple of years. Republican obstructionism in the name of… nothing.. is a threat to the future of the U.S. One of the biggest threats in the history of the country I would say. As we saw just recently, these politicians are willing to hold the whole country’s prosperity and growth hostage for no other purpose than making the rich richer. And as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) recently annouced, "if they think it's bad now, wait till next year." Read more here: NY Times on GOP's Intention to Attack EPA & Country

Photo Credit: DonkeyHotey

Massachusetts Joins California and New Mexico to Cut GHGs 25% Below 1990 by 2020

Posted: 01 Jan 2011 10:10 AM PST

On the last day of 2010, Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles set the statewide greenhouse gas emissions limit for 2020. Given a range of 10% below to 25% below 1990 levels, Bowles has now selected the maximum authorized by the Act.

The 2008 Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Act had required him to decide where to set the 2020 goal by January 1, 2011, based on what might be deemed achievable at that (then) future date.

As a mark of how easy it is to actually achieve these goals – despite the media hysteria the idea of greenhouse gas reductions seems to evoke – he set it at the most ambitious target, noting that measures already in place are already close to getting Massachusetts much of the way toward getting 25% below 1990 levels by 2020 anyway.

Last month, New Mexico passed 25% below 1990 by 2020 legislation using cap and trade and California held onto its landmark cap and trade plans to reach the same goal, despite a ballot measure designed to kill it.

The three states have plans to meet the target that scientists say we must achieve by 2050 or face dangerous climate destabilization that could lead to permanent runaway global warming for a 100,000 years or more.

In each of these cases, the 2020 goal is the first step towards the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.

This amounts to an average of just 2% a year, if adopted early, as Massachusetts has done. The longer states leave it, the more draconian and unaffordable the cuts will be, and the more scarce the materials will be to make the necessary changes. China has already clamped down on the rare earth exports needed to build wind turbines and electric cars.

Massachusetts is already operating in a cap and trade economy as part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which uses funds from polluters to pay for the needed changes to energy efficient buildings and clean energy sources like solar and wind, to achieve the 2020 goal.

His department was also required to issue a plan for achieving those reductions while growing the clean energy economy. (Massachusetts GWSA plan PDF)

Among some new policy ideas is an interesting pilot program for Pay As You Drive auto insurance, intended to incentivize drivers to reduce miles driven where possible with lower premiums for staying under a quota.

But the current ideas are already very effective.

Like New Jersey and several other RGGI states, Massachusetts residents can already earn cash from solar with SRECs. Overall, Massachusetts has among the best solar incentives in the nation.

Image: GWSA plan PDF

Susan Kraemer@Twitter

More on achieving GHG goals:
4 US States Have Lowered Greenhouse Gas Emissions Below 1990 Levels
Scotland on Track to Get 80% Renewable Energy by 2020

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