Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Latest From : CleanTechnica

Latest From : CleanTechnica


Base Jumping off Wind Turbines [VIDEO]

Posted: 18 Jan 2011 08:30 AM PST

Apparently, the growing prevalence of wind turbines is a new extreme sport (or, maybe more accurately, a new variation of an existing extreme sport called base jumping).

Not sure if this should be considered a benefit or a downside of a growing wind energy industry at this point. (Is it safer or more dangerous than what these guys and girls would be doing otherwise?)

Here’s a glance at what’s going on out there:

Needless to say,.. don’t try this at home.

h/t Climate Denial Crock of the Week


New WindMade Label To Tell Us What & Who is Powered by Wind

Posted: 18 Jan 2011 07:00 AM PST

A new label, “WindMade,” certifies corporations and products made entirely using wind energy. WindMade is a global initiative founded by WWF, UN Global Compact, Bloomberg, The LEGO Group, and, of course, the Global Wind Energy Council and wind energy giant Vestas Wind System.

The founders have not decided on the specific qualification criteria yet. The “standard for certification is currently being developed by a technical expert group,” WindMade reports [PDF].

"Governments are dragging their feet, but consumers want to see change now. The private sector needs to
step up to provide the solutions we need to respond to the global energy and climate crises. With
WindMade, we want to facilitate the change that the public demands," said Steve Sawyer, Secretary
General of the Global Wind Energy Council, and interim CEO of WindMade

“We hope that this will create a strong element of consumer pull, which will accelerate the pace of wind energy development globally,” Ditlev Engel, Vestas chief executive, told Reuters.

The WindMade initiative will be presented in more detail at the World Economic Forum in Davos on February 28.

Photo Credit: marcusjroberts


The Knights Who Say Knee Power: Canadian Forces Follow in the FootstepsMonty Python

Posted: 18 Jan 2011 04:00 AM PST

knights who say knee might have been referring to knee braces that double as kinetic energy harvestersWhen the Monty Python crew dreamed up an all-powerful word that sounds like “Knee!” little did they know that not too many years later  a power-generating knee would emerge from the sustainability shrubbery, so to speak.  The new clean energy device, a product of the startup company Bionic Power, Inc., is being field-tested by Canadian soldiers. Think of a knee brace that lets you charge up your portable electronics simply by walking, and you get the idea.

Lightening the Load on Infantry

Modern infantry carries a load of power-gobbling gizmos in addition to traditional gear, which means an ever-increasing load of batteries must be schlepped around, too. The logistics of battery supply, portage and disposal are becoming unsustainable and the Canadian army is certainly not alone in its quest for clean, harvestable energy on-the-go. The University of Leeds is studying a similar device as part of a “battery-free soldier” plan that will enable British soldiers to shed some weight, and the U.S. military has also been looking into replacing batteries with lightweight solar energy kits among other things. Research is also being done into integrating kinetic and solar energy harvesters into t-shirts and other fabric items.

Harvesting Energy from Your Knee

Bionic Power’s device is a carbon fiber brace rigged up with a gearbox and generator, which convert the relatively slow speed of your knee flexing while walking into a range that is high enough to generate electricity. At a relatively modest 1.7 pounds, the device generates about twelve watts of electricity per hour, enough replace at least some of 28 pounds of batteries that the typical Canadian soldier has to carry on a 72-hour mission, according to the company. As for the rest of us, if the new technology proves itself for military use it won’t be long before a bit of the ol’ Monty Python knee-power hits the consumer market, too.

Image: Knight by publicenergy on flickr.com.


Cleantech News Link Drop

Posted: 17 Jan 2011 05:47 PM PST

I decided to leave last week’s roundup of cleantech (or related) news that we didn’t already cover on Cleantechnica to today (for various reasons). So, now, here’s the roundup.

China's High-Speed Trains [VIDEOS]

Why fly when you can travel the 1000km between Guangzhou (Canton) near Hong Kong to Wuhan – which is halfway up China on the Yangtze River – in about three hours. The journey can be done in luxury and costs about $115. A very nice way to go. The electric trains are hypermodern, the ride is so smooooth and they even feed you en route….

Full Global Warming Solution: How to Stabilize World Climate

This post is an update of a 2008 analysis I revised in 2009.  A report by the International Energy Agency came to almost exactly the same conclusion as I did, and has relatively similar wedges, so I view that as a vindication of this overall analysis.

Stabilizing atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide at 450 ppm or lower is not politically possible today — not even close — but is certainly achievable from an economic and technological perspective, as I and others have said for years….

Why the U.S. Doesn't Get What it Wants

The sad thing about the U.S. is that most citizens think they control the government. Why do politicians get elected? Because the get millions upon millions of dollars from big business, which they use to create commercials and other ads telling their constituents to vote for them. When they get elected, do they need to respond to the desires of their constituents? Hardly. They need to respond to the desires of their funders, though. (Note: I'm not saying citizens shouldn't be involved or care. Actually, I think we need to be more involved and more informed in order to take that power back from large corporations.)

While coal and oil were necessary to the growth of the U.S. economy many years ago, they should be on their way out, for economic, environmental, national security, and health reasons. We need to change over to a clean energy economy.

U.S. citizens get this!…

Fearing High Gas Prices, Sean Hannity Proposes Re-Invading Iraq and Kuwait To 'Take All Their Oil'

HANNITY: There's two things I said. I say why isn't Iraq paying us back with oil, and paying every American family and their soldiers that lost loved ones or have injured soldiers — and why didn't they pay for their own liberation? For the Kuwait oil minister — how short his memory is. You know, we have every right to go in there and frankly take all their oil and make them pay for the liberation, as these sheiks, etcetera etcetera, you know were living in hotels in London and New York, as Trump pointed out, and now they're gouging us and saying 'oh of course we can withstand [these prices].'"…

Clinton: “No time to delay” for US-China climate agreement

Secretary of state argues US and China will set the pace and direction for the world’s “clean energy future.”…

Is Your State One of the Solar Power Top 5?

Already leaders in the solar game, there are five states pushing to incorporate more renewable energy sources into their infrastructure: Arizona, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, and New York. Here's how their state and local governments made it possible, and what to expect from these power states in 2011….

Gabrielle Giffords, a Solar Champion

By this time, most people have seen or heard the news about Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) being shot Saturday afternoon, January 8, in Tucson, Arizona – an episode of violence that left six people dead, including a 9-year-old girl, and Giffords in critical condition.

What fewer people know about is Gifford's legacy and reputation as a solar advocate whose work has been recognized by such solar leaders as Rhone Resch, the President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, or SEIA….

Why Streetcars are Important (& Cool)

Almost 50 years ago, streetcars in Washington, D.C. stopped running and most of their tracks were removed. Now they're back and ready for a revival, with parts of the first two lines slated to open next spring. In this post, we talk to Dan Tangherlini, the former DDOT director under Mayor Anthony Williams, who committed to building one of the first two lines, about why streetcars matter for the nation's capital….

EU May Consider Taxing Energy, Commissioner Says

The European Union may consider taxing energy resources to curb wasteful consumption and ensure the bloc follows its strategy of low-carbon growth, the EU's Climate Commissioner said today.

The 27-nation EU is already running the world's largest carbon market and wants to remain a global leader in combating climate change….

Duke, Progress Energy Merger Provides Bigger Clout to Energy Efficiency, Nuclear

The giant merger between the utilities Duke Energy Corp. and Progress Energy Inc. may have a telling impact on the congressional debate over U.S. energy policy during the new session….

Duke Energy to Buy Progress Energy for $13.7 Billion

Duke Energy Corp. will buy Progress Energy Inc. for $13.7 billion in stock, creating the largest U.S. utility and increasing its ability to build new power plants to meet future greenhouse-gas emissions limits….

China sets goals to reduce emissions of pollutants

China said Friday it would cut emissions this year by rejecting construction projects that pollute too much and developing new technologies that curb greenhouse gases.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection set a target to cut emissions of major pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, ammonia nitrogen and nitrogen oxide by 1.5 percent in 2011 compared to last year, a report on the ministry’s website said….

2010 Was a Kick-Ass Year for Clean Energy Investments — Thanks, China!

Global investment in clean energy rocketed to a record $243 billion in 2010, largely on the back of China's rabid spending and solar rooftop installations in Europe, according to figures released this week from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Meanwhile, the Americas region — which includes the U.S. — brought up the rear. And the way things are shaking out, the U.S. won't make any headway in 2011 either….

China's Galloping Wind Market

A corporation that makes wind-machine components estimates that more than three times as much wind power capacity was installed in China last year than in the United States and that China now constitutes the world's largest wind energy market….

How to use solar energy at night

Molten salts can store the sun's heat during the day and provide power at night….

Scientists Make Solar Power Even More Affordable

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or MIT, are studying a new form of carbon which may help make organic solar photovoltaic (OPV) cells and panels cheaper, thus increasing uptake….

China’s solar companies are more powerful than Europe’s and the U.S.’

Germany has been a powerful adopter of solar energy in Europe and exports modules around the world. It added 8,000 megawatts of solar modules last year,the equivalent of eight nuclear reactors, surpassing Italy, Japan and the U.S., according to Reuters….

PepsiCo on track to becoming “fossil fuel free” by 2023

Path to Zero programme delivers cuts in water and power consumption….

Los Angeles beats all comers with renewables performance

Mayor Villaraigosa: “There’s no city in the USA that has moved as far and fast as the city of LA to meet our renewable goals.”…

Ray LaHood Responds To High-Speed Rail Critics

DOT Secretary Ray LaHood responds to a Washington Post editorial that condemned not only the California High Speed Rail project, but President Obama’s vision for a national high-speed rail network….

Responding to China's innovation and competitiveness policies – With a special focus on the renewable energy challenge

Energy Secretary Steven Chu has explained why China's bid for clean energy leadership should be our "Sputnik Moment." The Center for American Progress and ClimateProgress have previously discussed China's aggressive strategy to assume leadership in clean energy (see "Green Giant" and "China begins transition to a clean-energy economy").

Now CAP's Kate GordonSusan LyonEd Paisley, and Sean Pool have put together a major 50-page reportlaying out the full challenge posed by China and what a progressive response by the United States might look like.  Below is the executive summary and the section from the report on renewable energy….

Military v climate spending: How China outguns the US on clean energy

China is spending 1/6th as much as the US on its military and investing twice as much on clean energy technology….

Major bank calls US ‘significant outlier’ on greenhouse-gas action

One of the world's largest banks said Thursday there is "positive momentum" in 2011 for climate change-related investments. But the bank says there's one exception to that rule: the United States….

To save the planet and the budget, cut energy off the dole

President Obama promised in the fall that a top priority of his legislative program for 2011 would be an energy policy “that helps us grow at the same time as it deals with climate change in a serious way.” With global warming deniers now in charge of the House of Representatives, there would seem to be little hope for major legislation on clean energy or climate in this Congress….

But all is not lost. If Obama wants to set us on a path to a sustainable-energy future – and a green one, too – he should propose a very simple solution to the current mess: eliminate all energy subsidies. Yes, all of them – oil, coal, gas, nuclear, ethanol, and wind and solar. Energy subsidies are the sordid legacy of more than 60 years of politics as usual in Washington. It would be better for national security, the balance of payments, the budget deficit and even, yes, the environment if we simply wiped the slate clean and let all energy sources compete for the future….

Dirty Business Film Debunks 'Clean Coal' Myth

Dirty Business, the new documentary from the Centre for Investigative Journalism, began its nationwide screening tour last night in Berkeley, California, with the aim of debunking the myth of “clean coal” and kick-starting a debate on the future of energy in the US.

The film shows scarred mountains, abandoned family homes on remote hillsides, water courses toxic with sludge, respiratory fatalities and children whose growth has been stunted by pollution as some of the side effects of coal extraction and the power stations that burn it. And, of course, it shows the effect of coal combustion on global temperatures.

The film is narrated by Jeff Goodell, Big Coal author and contributing editor of Rolling Stone magazine, who compares the first time he saw an open-top mine in West Virginia like the “first time you look into an abattoir after a lifetime of eating animals”….

Where does your electricity come from?

As you read this blog on the internet, which connects us all around the globe, many of us are still blind to the fact that half of our  in our country still comes from a technology that was introduced in the nineteenth century: coal.

Last night, I saw a film called Dirty Business: "Clean Coal" and the Battle for Our Energy Future, consulted and narrated by Rolling Stone reporter Jeff Goodell, which asks these crucial questions: "Can coal ever really be made "clean"? If we were to try to wean ourselves off coal, how would we keep the lights on? Is renewable energy ready for prime time? Is Carbon Capture and Storage really a viable option financially and environmentally?…

Green Energy Opponents Are the Real Job Killers

Listen to how we discuss clean energy in this country, and you'll note that the conversation is exactly upside down. To hear the mainstream discourse tell it, clean energy may be a nice idea but it's prohibitively expensive. Going green, it's said, will cost jobs and strangle growth at a time when America must do whatever it takes to get our economy and people working again. Environmentalists are going to raise everyone's energy bills. We're the "job killers."

This framing of the issue runs 180 degrees counter to the actual facts of life in the year 2011. Clean energy transformation is the best—perhaps the only—path to economic and job growth, including rebuilding our industrial base and competitiveness. As British economist Nicholas Stern has said of clean energy, "These investments will play the role of the railways, electricity, the motor car and information technology in earlier periods of economic history."…

Kerry calls for massive energy investments

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) is calling on his fellow lawmakers to pass legislation to invest billions of dollars in transportation and energy technology.

"Now is the moment for America to reach for the brass energy ring — to go for the moon here on earth by building our new energy future," Kerry said in remarks at the Center for American Progress Tuesday. "This shouldn't be a partisan issue; but instead of coming together to meet the defining test of a new energy economy and our future, we're now leaving a political season in which too many candidates promised not to work with the other party."…

Friday Fun: No Pants Subway Ride

People from 50 cities in 24 countries stripped down to their skivvies on Sunday to participate in the tenth annual No Pants Subway Ride, a serious feat considering how cold it's been in recent weeks. The subway event originated in New York City by a group called Improv Everywhere. The chaotic and silly act has gained popularity over the past couple of years, drawing attention to public transit. Here are a few highlights from the event….

Volt’s Battery Capacity Could Double

GM has tipped its hand about the type of battery materials it aims to use in the next generation of the Chevrolet Volt and other battery-powered cars. It has licensed battery-electrode materials developed at Argonne National Laboratory, a U.S. Department of Energy Lab. These materials, called mixed-metal oxides, could improve the safety and durability of car batteries and help double their energy-storage capacity, potentially leading to substantial costs savings by allowing GM to use a smaller battery pack….

The Lost Years for Alternative Energy?

Oil and gasoline prices, low since 2008, are projected to rise again, rapidly returning our oil addiction to the national spotlight. Analysts say that oil prices are heading toward $100 a barrel, and former Shell Oil chief Carl Larrywarns that we could see $5 a gallon gas by 2012. Inevitably, the price increases will inspire calls to reduce our dependence on oil, and Congress will consider some legislation to do just that. But as we try to make progress on oil alternatives, we need to bear in mind the lessons of low gas prices. Otherwise, we are doomed to repeat the same debilitating cycle of energy politics we’ve been trapped in for years….

China Moves Toward Carbon Emissions Trading to Improve Energy Efficiency and Competitiveness

When professor Chen Hongbo tried to promote carbon trading in China three years ago, he found himself under fire. As developing countries like China aren’t obliged to limit the byproduct of their economic growth, opponents argued vehemently that they saw no need to motivate Chinese industries to either emit less greenhouse gases or pay for their emissions.

Today, China is still free of that obligation, but the internal dispute seems to have ended. In its proposed development plan for the next five years, the government has for the first time revealed its interest in building a domestic carbon market….

Edison signs deals for seven new solar power plants

The facilities, to be completed by 2016, would more than double the utility’s electricity-generating capacity from solar projects. A 325-megawatt photovoltaic installation in Rosamond, Calif., would be one of the nation’s largest….

LEDs Are Getting Ready for the Spotlight

Businesses could soon find that they can quickly recoup the higher up-front cost of high-tech lighting….

LA Bus Fleet Now Cleanest In The Nation

The city still known for its smog will not have its buses to blame – the last of its diesel-fueled ones retired Jan. 12 in a celebration. All but 7 of the 2,221 buses will be compressed-natural-gas powered; electric and gas-electric the remainder….

Wisconsin and Ohio Scrapped HSR – So What Are They Doing Instead?

When we last heard from the governors of Wisconsin and Ohio, they were passing up $810 million and $385 million in federal money, respectively, by refusing to pursuepassenger rail corridors. With one campaign promise already fulfilled — to stop the trains they considered wasteful — how are they building on their early success? In the case of Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, who rode theno-train to victory, it appears he’s taking office with a plate full of what Streetsblog calls “dubious and expensive highway projects.” Among these are $100 million for an 11-mile highway servicing a city of 10,000 and, according to a Wisconsin political blogger, $3.8 billion on various parts of the Southeastern Wisconsin Freeway Reconstruction and Expansion. Walker’s new “waste commission,” designed to root out unnecessary or irresponsible state projects, just got up and running this week. Whether it will take a serious look at road spending, or continue in Walker’s anti-rail spirit of holding highways to a different standard, only time will tell. As for Ohio, time has already spoken to new governor John Kasich — and it said that people don’t like him as much as they once did. Kasich’s approval rating plunged 7 points before he even took office, and part of the dissatisfaction seems to be all the jobs he cost the state by killing the bullet train….

General Anderson: Save Energy, Save Our Troops

An across-the-board Pentagon efficiency mandate would have many benefits. First, it would save many lives: there are casualties in one out of every 24 fuel supply convoys in Afghanistan; 47 drivers were killed there last year. It would save money; it costs taxpayers about $66 million a day for air-conditioning in the war zones.

It would also reduce opportunities for the enemy. Some soldiers jokingly call the fuel trucks "Taliban targets," and for good reason — they are a high-payoff quarry for insurgents using nothing but homemade bombs. In addition, having fewer fuel shipments would allow NATO to take highly trained troops off convoy duty and use them in combat or, even better, send them home….

New Report: The Most Promising U.S. High-Speed Rail Routes

Where does it make the most economic sense to build America’s high-speed rail system? A new report on the most promising HSR corridors in the U.S. was released this morning by America 2050. The report, a follow-up to a previous America 2050 bullet study (pdf), evaluated 7,870 potential high-speed rail corridors in mega-regions across the country. Emphasizing potential ridership, authors of the new report limited themselves to bullet lines that extend from roughly 100 miles up to 600 miles — the distance, they believe, over which trains can effectively compete with automobile and air travel….

Egypt announces 2011 wind power masterplan

Energy minister launches plan to produce more than 2.6GW of wind power this year….

Pro Wind Energy Film 'Wind Uprising' Counters Wind Power Critics

Last year I wrote about Wind Uprising, an award-winning documentary about the four-year struggle to establish the Spanish Fork Wind Project in Utah. We just got word that Wind Uprising is screening at the Mountain Top Film Festival on January 19-20 in Waitsfield, VT, as a last-minute addition, where it is being paired as a "double-feature" with Windfall, a controversial film critical of wind turbines.

We also got word that both wind energy advocates and opponents are descending onto the festival for the event.Wind Uprising, which is a  generally more upbeat and balanced approach to wind, was added to "counterbalance" the negativity of Windfall….

Have more cleantech (or related) news to share? Drop it in the comments below.

Photo Credits: rpeschetz via flickr; Freedom to Marry via flickr(www.debabrata.info) debabrata via flickrM.V. Jantzen via flickr


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