Sunday, January 9, 2011

Latest From : CleanTechnica

Latest From : CleanTechnica

Dark Days for a Solar State

Posted: 09 Jan 2011 07:00 AM PST

congresswoman giffords shot in Arizona Arizona gets a frequent mention on the pages of CleanTechnica as it embraces a clean energy future with solar power and other forms of alternative energy, and Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords has been front and center in pushing this movement forward on a national level with her support for federal greenhouse gas legislation, so please bear with this brief pause to reflect on the devastating wound that this dynamic leader suffered in yesterday’s shooting, on the injuries inflicted upon those around her, and on the deaths of six innocent people. Your thoughts and comments are welcome in the thread below.

In a press conference after the shooting, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik deplored the “anger, the hatred, the bigotry” and the violent anti-government rhetoric that has colored the public discourse with increasing intensity, and called upon the country to do some “soul searching.” If his words are not just to be spoken into the wind,  it will be because all of us, in every state in this great nation, continue to press forward.

Image: Arizona sunset by Tony the Misfit on

German, Japanese Banks to Offer $630 Million in Renewable Energy Loans to India

Posted: 09 Jan 2011 04:00 AM PST

The Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) will soon enter agreements with banks in Germany and Japan to access over $630 million to be used for the promotion of renewable energy projects in India.

IREDA is one of the nodal agencies that provides monetary help for setting up of renewable energy infrastructure in India. It was established in 1987 under the administrative control of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. Its main function is to provide soft loans for renewable energy-based power plants and energy-efficiency projects.

The agency is likely to sign an agreement with the German KfW bank in February to get access to soft loans worth over $260 million. It is also likely to sign a deal with the Japan International Cooperation Agency in March for loans worth over $360 million.

India has outlined ambitious goals for expanding its renewable energy infrastructure over the next few decades. The government has announced policies to support the growth of solar energy projects, wind energy projects, small hydro power projects, waste to energy projects and projects based on other clean energy technologies.

The National Solar Mission is the central guiding policy initiative for growth of solar energy infrastructure in India. In addition, there is a National Mission on Enhanced Energy Efficiency which outlines various market-based approaches to increase industrial energy efficiency.

The government also provides subsidies to various entities in the clean energy sector. Subsidies are provided to the project developers in the form of generation-based incentives or premium tariff rates or tax benefits; subsidies are provided to power distribution companies; tax benefits are offered to equipment manufacturing companies to ease import of critical technology and promote indigenous development and financial help is also provided to consumers for procuring clean technology products.

IREDA also provides funds for government-run projects like off-grid rural electrification programs and distribution of solar lighting systems to poor families. The agency has already sanctioned $425 million worth of loans this year, a 26 percent increase from last year.

Due to the pro-investment policies being followed by the Indian government several international investors are looking to invest in the renewable energy boom that is underway in the country. In addition to the incentives provided by the central government, several state governments are offering additional benefits to the investors.

Other international investors like US Import-Export bank have also shown interest in providing funds for large-scale renewable energy based power plants. Last year, IREDA signed loan agreements worth $120 million with the French Investment Agency and Nordic Investment Bank.

Image: Image: Amaresh S K (Flickr)/ CC

Follow Mridul Chadha on Twitter and Facebook

Troy Start-up EcoMotors Could Bring 60% More Efficient ICE to Michigan

Posted: 08 Jan 2011 03:04 PM PST

Not every potentially game changing auto start-up is a radical departure from the traditional ICE power train that fed families for generations in the auto capital of the US.

In a move that could help extend the life of the traditional auto industry, a start-up in Troy, Michigan is working on refining the ICE engine, tapping heavy duty efficient diesel auto engineering experience from Volkswagen, Ford, and GM. They are tweaking normal engine development processes, not using advanced technologies or costly materials.

EcoMotors taps the brain of Peter Hofbauer, Volkswagen’s former head of powertrain development, and taps $23.5 million in round B funding from Bill Gates and Vinod Khosla. Khosla has said he thinks the improved power train will cost just a few hundred dollars more than standard ICE power trains.

Chief Technology Officer Hofbauer is considered the father of the modern high speed diesel at Volkswagon. He designed VW's first diesel engine.

EcoMotors President John Colleti created the hugely successful SVT high performance program at Ford, and its CEO, Don Runkle, is a longtime GM engineer and executive. Together the leadership team has been responsible for the award of over 150 patents and managed more than 30 power train programs.

They are developing a simple and economical engine for production and licensing, that cuts the number of parts in half, and hope to achieve 50% greater fuel efficiency over standard diesel engines with their opposed piston/opposed cylinder diesel engine that is laid out horizontally instead of vertically.

The engine can be 30% lighter, and because the layout is laid out horizontally, it helps both to cancel out vibrations from the engine and to make the vehicle more aerodynamic.

The engine seems to be durable and some of the emissions targets have been met. The overall goal is to meet the 2010 Tier 2 Bin 5 Heavy Duty Truck standard.

While it can now meet the standards at specific RPM levels, they are working on meeting the standards across all RPM levels.

Susan Kraemer@Twitter

New Mexico Tea Party Governor Kills 3% Yearly Pollution Reduction Plan

Posted: 08 Jan 2011 11:51 AM PST

According to the New York Times, incoming Tea Party Governor Susana Martinez has just fired all of the Environmental Improvement Board members who in December passed pollution reduction legislation, and issued an executive order to halt all pending regulations to “determine whether they hurt business” in New Mexico. The climate plan had been opposed by the energy interests that funded her candidacy.

In December, under termed-out Democratic Governor Bill Richardson, New Mexico’s Environmental Improvement Board had adopted a greenhouse gas reduction plan that would gradually, at a rate of 3% a year, transition the state to clean energy, by requiring greenhouse gases be reduced 25% below 1990 levels by 2020.

Four Northeastern States have already embarked on similar annual pollution reduction plans, and have been meeting those goals, and California is about to implement its own.

New Mexico’s plan was adopted by the board by an overwhelming majority vote. Martinez halted it to determine if the plan “hurts business.”

Given that the fossil fuel industry sued for two years in court to stop the greenhouse gas reduction plan, it can be assumed that there will certainly be at least one aggrieved industry to claim that regulations “hurt business”.

Under her protection, this will enable big polluters in the state to overturn the regulations. Martinez, an outspoken climate denier candidate, received hundreds of thousands from oil and gas interests, according to the Times. But polluter industry efforts to overturn the ruling via their new Governor might not be that easy.

It was a small local non-profit environmental organization, New Energy Economy, that was instrumental in getting the plan passed into law, with local input and testimony to counter two years of legal obstruction by the fossil energy industry.

The emissions reduction plan would put New Mexico on a path to joining Massachusetts and California, which is just about to begin implementing its own climate plan, having shaken off similar polluter obstruction (with a Tea Party astroturfed ballot initiative: Prop 23) that failed.

The Northeastern RGGI states have for several years succeeded in reducing greenhouses gases with similar legislation that encourages clean energy and efficiency.

The plan was to begin in 2013, and require 3% reductions annually from 2010 levels starting in 2012. It would involve big polluters only, those electric power plants, petroleum and natural gas facilities in New Mexico that generate greenhouse gas pollution emissions exceeding 25,000 metric tons per year of carbon dioxide.

There was flexibility in how the reductions would be achieved. Owners could use drastic cuts in one faciltiy to count towards their overall cuts. So an owner of several power plants could, for example, replace one of several coal plants with a natural gas power plant (for a 60% GHG reduction), or with a (zero emissions) wind or solar farm. There were upper limits to the spending on new plants.

It had surprised to me that a small local environmental organization had been able to face down the fossil industry in court and get this petition passed into law, and in December I had contacted New Energy Economy to find their secret. They are not the NRDC, after all. It appears that local involvement in the court cases was instrumental.

Lilia Diaz told me in December "one of the reasons that we were successful here is because we had a lot of community support throughout the hearings, with people from very different walks of life testifying in support of a cap on carbon pollution".

Asked about the prospect of a roll back after the election, one of the board members did say at the time that a simple edict from the governor would not be enough to kill the plan, and speculated that even if she reconstituted the board, it could take as long as a year to rescind the measures.

She has begun that process by firing the board members.

For the Martinez administration to succeed in rolling it back, by New Mexico law, this will take another public process, which must include at least one hearing and a chance for public comment to overturn the rules.

The New Energy Economy plan passed in December was very thorough, involving 200 hours of technical testimony and complex documents and public comments before reaching the decision.

Susan kraemer@Twitter

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