Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Latest From : CleanTechnica

Latest From : CleanTechnica


Energy Efficient Molybdenite Chips Could Use 100,000 Times Less Energy on Standby

Posted: 01 Feb 2011 04:40 AM PST

molybdenite challenges graphene for miracle material titleA serious challenger has emerged to take on graphene’s title as the miracle material of the 21st century, and that is a common, silvery looking mineral called molybdenite. Like graphene, molybdenite occurs in nano-thin sheets. It could play an important role in engineering the next generation of super small, super high efficiency electronics, especially when it comes to saving power while a device is in standby mode.

A New Role for Molybdenite

Molybdenite is commonly used in lubricants and in steel alloys. Researchers at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne have now determined that molybdenite is also a highly efficient semiconductor. It can be fabricated in sheets that are much thinner than conventional silicon sheets, which enables electrons to move around more efficiently. The lead researcher asserts that compared to conventional silicon transistors, a molybdenite transistor would use about 100,000 times less energy in standby mode.

Move Over, Graphene…

Molybdenite also has an important advantage over graphene, because it has an ideally spaced “band gap” (a band gap is an electron-free space, which electrons can “hop” across). Graphene lacks this naturally occuring feature, though researchers are discovering ways that graphene can be manipulated into producing the desired properties.

…Or Not

If cost-efficient graphene fabrication can be commercialized, it could have a long term advantage over molybdenite. As a mineral, molybdenite is a non-renewable resource. Given that the amount of electronic equipment flooding the world right now is nothing compared to what it’s going to be in the future, mining the earth for components may not be sustainable over the long run. In contrast, graphene has potential has a renewable resource: researchers have discovered that it can be made from plain table sugar.

Image: Molybdenite on quartz by John Chapman on wikimedia commons.


Sweden is an Energy Leader: 10 Key Points

Posted: 31 Jan 2011 02:25 PM PST

Ever wanted to know all about the energy history of Sweden? Probably not, but it is actually a pretty interesting history. Additionally, as you can see in the graph above, Sweden is an energy leader when it comes to CO2 emissions per GDP and CO2 emissions per capita.

Evan Mills of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories recently gave us quite an introduction of Sweden’s energy history, situation today, and plans for the future over on Climate Progress. You can read the full piece, Evolving energy systems: The Swedish story, over there if you want to read the whole thing. If you just want a snapshot, I’ve pulled out some especially interesting points.

  1. Stemming from a public referendum in 1980 triggered by the Three Mile Island disaster in 1979, Sweden decided to phase out and put a ban on new construction of nuclear reactors. This was one of only 6 referendums in Sweden’s history. (Other referendums refer to which side of the road to drive on, prohibition, the country’s pension system, and joining the EU and the Economic and Monetary Union of the EU.) Sweden didn’t meet its deadline of shutting down all of its remaining nuclear reactors by January 1, 2011, but a moratorium on nuclear expansion remains and one would expect that the country will phase out nuclear sooner or later.
  2. Sweden put a cap on CO2 in 1988! CO2 taxes of 105 oere/kgCO2 (US$150/ton!) have brought in about $4 billion/year in revenues since 1991. “This is almost as much as is generated by regular energy taxes.”
  3. National greenhouse gas emissions were about 18% lower in 2009 than 1991, exceeding its Kyoto requirement. “Emissions of SOx are down 70% and NOx down 50%.”
  4. Electricity demand has remained steady since 1991 despite economic growth of 60%. (In other words, energy efficiency is the name of the game in Sweden.)
  5. “Heating energy fuel choices in buildings have been managed very aggressively. Oil's share has dropped from 25% to about less than 10%.   Electric heating's share of energy in the household sector has been trimmed by 30%. District heating, fueled primarily with biomass has picked up most of the slack.  Between 1980 and 2010 district heating went from essentially 100% oil to essentially 0% oil.”
  6. 1/3 of Sweden’s energy supply is from renewable sources (if you include hydro). That’s more than any other EU country.
  7. Sweden plans to get 50% of its energy supply from renewable sources by 2020 and plans to have vehicles completely free of fossil fuels by 2030.
  8. “Overall energy intensity (presumably energy per GDP) shall be reduced by 20% between 2008 and 2020.”
  9. In 2020, it plans to emit 40% of the greenhouse gases it emitted in 1990.
  10. It plans to have zero net emissions (i.e. be carbon neutral) by 2050.

Related Stories:

1. Europe’s Largest Wind Farm Gets Approval in Sweden
2. 250,000 Swedes Heat a Building with Their Bodies
3. EU Exceeds Target for 20% Renewable Energy by 2020


Wind Energy Giant Vestas Sees a Future in Romania

Posted: 31 Jan 2011 01:23 PM PST

Wind turbines on hillside in Romania

Wind turbine manufacturing giant Vestas is expecting a boom in wind energy growth in Romania and is locating its new Eastern European hub in its capital city, Bucharest.

Vestas cut the ribbon on its new office last week. With Romania’s government recently setting ambitious wind energy targets, Vestas is hopeful that the country will be building a lot more wind farms in the years to come and is putting its money on it.

As of last June, Vestas had installed 22 wind turbines in Romania, the total capacity of which comes to 43.66 MW. It plans to install 450 MW more by the end of this year.

Hans Jörn Rieks, President of Vestas Central Europe, believes that Romania could produce up to 14 GW of wind energy in total.

"Vestas is the world leader in wind energy, and so we feel we have a responsibility to share our 30 years of experience and knowledge with customers, government, communities and others – as they work to fulfil Romania's commitment to a clean energy future,” Rieks says. ”As a wind energy solutions provider, we want to bring the best turbines and the best business case to our customers here, but we also want to build strong and constructive partnerships to shape a sustainable wind industry."

Romania is currently expected to get about 24% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.

Currently, 41,000 Vestas wind turbines are generating power around the world in 65 countries, creating approximately 20,000 jobs and cutting CO2 emissions about 40 million tons every year.

Related Stories:

1. Life as a Wind Turbine Technician [VIDEOS]
2. iPhone Wind Energy App from Vestas

Photo Credit: Raoul Pop


GE, Conoco, NRG Put $300 Million More Towards Clean Energy

Posted: 31 Jan 2011 12:45 PM PST

General Electric (GE) seems to be in the news almost everyday lately. The latest news regarding this cleantech leader is that it, ConocoPhilips and NRG Energy Inc. are putting $300 million into a joint venture investing in “next-generation energy technologies.”

Energy Technology Ventures is the name of the investment company. It will financially back approximately 30 startups in the next four years.

In addition to financial investment in these startups, it will also offer “commercial collaboration opportunities.”

Working in coordination with ConocoPhilips and NRG Energy, large energy companies, "enables us to pool our financial resources and technological expertise – - along with our extensive relationships — to provide more than money to emerging energy technology companies," said Kevin Skillern, managing director and leader of venture capital at GE Energy Financial Services.

Energy Technology Ventures will mostly support companies in North America, Europe, and Israel.

What Will Energy Technology Ventures Focus On?

This joint venture is reportedly going to put its focus on companies working on renewable energy, smart grid, energy efficiency, biofuels, oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear, emission controls, and water technologies. Hmm, doesn’t leave much out.

Its first investments are officially in:

  • Alta Devices, Santa Clara, CA, improving the production economics of advanced materials for high-efficiency, low-cost solar energy.
  • Ciris Energy, Inc., Centennial, CO, developing technology to biochemically convert coal to methane at large scale and low cost.
  • CoolPlanetBiofuels, Camarillo, CA, developing technology that converts low-grade biomass into high-grade fuel and carbon that can be sequestered.
  • Related Stories:

    1. GE Hates US Energy Policy Too
    2. Green Sparks Fly as GE and GM Boost Energy Efficiency
    3. China Clean Tech Industry Gets $2 Billion More from GE

    Photo Credit: @mjb


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