Sunday, September 18, 2011

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Upcoming Cleantech Events

Posted: 18 Sep 2011 04:36 PM PDT

ongreen cleantech conference

I thought I’d start highlighting upcoming cleantech events more here on CleanTechnica. Here are a handful of events you may or may not be interested in and able to attend. Drop more you are aware of in the comments below.

Sustainability 2.0: Harnessing the Power of Social Media to Promote Change (at Social Media Week)

Tuesday, September 20 at 3:00 PM – 7:00 PM  |  Latham Watkins Downtown Office in Los Angeles

At the Sustainability 2.0 event we will discuss how social media can motivate sustainability decisions – both decisions by individuals and decisions by companies. This will be an interactive panel discussion from 3-5 followed by a networking reception.

About Sustainability 2.0

Polls tell us that people want to buy 'green' products and are willing to pay more for it – but when push comes to shove – most people don't.

But we know there are growing environmental problems that we need to solve. The changing climate, increasing air and water pollution, rising energy prices, and ongoing water supply problems are all driven by choices that people make. It doesn't matter what you buy – cars, cosmetics, electronics and food all impact the environment – they all impact the environment. What does matter is how much you use – especially energy & water – and how much you waste. These have large impacts and global implications. With social media, consumers have more power to affect change in companies than ever before. This panel will highlight the following:

How do we connect the dots?

Do informed consumers make more sustainable choices?
How does social media influence consumer behavior and get people to demand more sustainable choices?
How will companies respond?


Robert Wyman | Global Chair, Environment, Land & Resources Department | Latham & Watkins
Craig Cogut | CEO | Pegasus Capital Advisors
Julie Albright | Research Scientist | University of Southern California
Nikhil Jain | Founder and CEO | OnGreen
Mark Bernstein | Senior Vice President | MWW Group
Gert Gremes | Founder and Chairman | Tecnospot Solar

Paula Mints: update on global PV markets

PV analyst Paula Mints of Navigant Consulting will give an assessment on the current status of the industry, updates on international PV markets to date, and prognostications on what it all means for 2012.

Collaborative Purchasing: Making Solar Simple, Affordable and Social

Research into the peer effects of solar purchasing decisions show that solar is contagious.  Emerging models tap that power of the crowd by creating group purchase programs within businesses and other organizations — with the result of increasing demand, reducing complexity and lowering the price of going solar.  Learn how organizations of all kinds are establishing these programs to provide a valuable employee perk and meet Corporate Social Responsibility goals. Presented by Jessie Denver of GroupEnergy, this webinar will explain the mechanics and results of these innovative collaborative purchasing programs.

Accelerate: Global Cleantech Conference

October 11-12 in San Francisco

Accelerate is a two day summit designed to explore the cleantech phenomenon that has inspired entrepreneurs, captivated policymakers, and attracted billions of dollars in funding from both the venture capital industry and some of the largest companies in the world.

Accelerate will examine the impact which the cleantech revolution is having on big business and society as a whole, and why cleantech is no longer a sector of technology, but rather a filter through which all the processes of civilization are being fundamentally upgraded.

Accelerate will connect the cleantech elite—CEOs, VCs, corporate investors, government officials, and other influential people from the cleantech community around the world—challenging them to present investment ideas and entrepreneurial innovations that not only promise environmental sustainability and resource abundance, but also deliver the basic necessities of life—energy, water, food, shelter, transportation and waste management—at lower unit costs. Such breakthroughs will spur economic growth and development, increase productivity, and raise the standard of living in countries all over the world.

Accelerate will take place at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, the largest Platinum LEED certified building in the world.

Solar Power International

October 17-20 in Dallas

Solar Power International (SPI) is North America’s largest, most comprehensive solar power trade show and conference. This annual, business-to-business event was the first of its kind in North America and grows bigger and better every year.

Nearly 24,000 professionals from 125+ countries attend. With one out of five attendees coming from outside the United States, SPI is truly a global event.

In 2011, over 1,200 companies from all vertical markets in the solar power spectrum will exhibit in a space of more than 1 million gross square feet.


19-Year-Old Winning Awards Left & Right for Her Solar Power Helper, the SunSaluter

Posted: 18 Sep 2011 08:57 AM PDT

This is one of the coolest stories I’ve seen in awhile. It was shared with me by one of CleanTechnica’s great readers on our Contact page, but I couldn’t get to it for awhile. Luckily, as I started writing on it, I found out that the technology and its 19-year-old inventor just got a $275,000 boost!

Eden Full’s SunSaluter — Summary

Eden Full, a 19-year-old Princeton University mechanical engineering student has developed a non-toxic, cheap, recyclable device made out of metal and bamboo that allows solar panels to follow or track the Sun without the use of an electric motor. This does two things: 1) it boosts the output of the solar panels by about 40% (huge) and 2) it does so using a much cheaper and simpler method than traditional trackers commonly used in commercial projects (her technology costs $10, a lot less than the typical $600 solar tracker).

I love the bit in the video below where she says that she could teach Kenyan children how to construct and fix the device if it breaks. That’s the way to help the world!

SunSaluter Winning Awards Left & Right

Eden and the SunSaluter (being developed by her company, Roseicollis Technologies, now) have won a number of big awards for this ‘simple’ device. As mentioned above, she just won $275,000, in the 2011 Postcode Lottery Green Challenge. She also won $10,000 in the the EcoLiving 2011 Awards a few months ago, and she’s also won a $100,000 fellowship from the Thiel Foundation this year. More on that from Tyler Hamilton of Clean Break:

On May 25, Full was one of 24 students under the age of 20 to win a $100,000 fellowship from the Thiel Foundation, set up by PayPal co-founder and early Facebook investor (read: super rich dude) Peter Thiel.

It's not just a handout, however. To get the money, Full must commit to taking a two-year break from her studies at Princeton so she can dedicate herself full time to developing her product, which she calls the SunSaluter.

Full is taking the plunge. In mid-August she is packing her bags and moving to Silicon Valley, where she'll be mentored by a network of entrepreneurs and tech experts working with Thiel. She'll be learning how to develop her product, but also how to build a business and raise money.

She emphasized that the $100,000 award doesn't necessarily go toward technology development. It covers living expenses, allowing Full to throw herself into her work without worrying about paying bills.

"The money will give me a chance to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes," she said.

I asked her if she was nervous being parachuted into this high-tech heartland.

"I do feel very intimated, not only by the calibre of the other projects, but because there's a huge standard to meet and a lot of hype around it," she continued. "But a little pressure is good. It will make me perform better."

How the SunSaluter Works

Hamilton does a good job of explaining the technology as well, as much as is possible until Eden receives her patent and can safely reveal more:

The concept is simple, really. Steel expands at a different rate than aluminum when exposed to heat. Full has combined steel and aluminum into bimetallic strips, which are attached to an axel running across the back of a solar panel.

She won't go into too much detail until her patent on the invention is published, but when the sun hits the strips the resulting heat causes the aluminum part of the strip to expand more than the steel part. This causes bending and twisting of the strips.

Full has figured out a way to configure and control her system so that the bending strips keep her panels, for the most part, directly aimed at the sun.

How the SunSaluter Came About (And Did I Mention that Eden Built a Solar-Powered Car When She Was 9?)

Here’s a little more on where the inspiration for this device came from, via Eden’s Green Challenge page:

I built my first solar-powered car when I was nine years old. I fell in love with the idea of clean technology that was better for our planet. As I grew older, I became frustrated with how solar panels were not optimized to collect their maximum potential. I began building prototypes for different tracking systems and the SunSaluter was born!

My parents instilled a sense of responsibility towards the environment when I was younger and I carried this value with me throughout my life. I had the opportunity to travel to the Canadian Arctic two years ago where I witnessed the depressing lack of sea ice as a result of climate change, which made it hard for animals to find food and land. On a Zodiac boat ride, I had a chance to get within five metres of a polar bear that was so desperately hungry he didn’t even bother to turn away from us. This was an emotional moment for me when I realised that I had a chance to help prevent this problem from getting worse. I would have to help with the reduction of CO2 emissions.

More from Eden

And since she is such an inspiration inventor and do-gooder, here are a few more quotes from Eden. From the same page:

The Green Challenge prize will make all the difference in my work. I will be able to deploy more pilot projects in both emerging and developed markets, and design a subsidized financial model so that people in developing countries would be able to afford the SunSaluter as well. With the SunSaluter, the 65,000-panel solar fields in California could generate 40% more electricity to sell to the grid. This would increase the value of solar energy in the renewable energy market and help to reduce CO2 emissions. A family in rural Kenya could power one additional lightbulb in their hut at night since the SunSaluter is more affordable than a traditional $600 motor. If many panels harness 40% more energy consistently, then 40% more of the community can benefit from the electricity. For emerging markets, this will eliminate the need for kerosene lanterns, encouraging communities to pursue sustainable development.

And from EcoLiving: "When I realized that I could invent a technology for social good, I fell in love with tinkering with something that mattered."

For more on the technology, Eden’s success, and her company’s goals, check out this submission of hers to the Dell Social Innovation Competition.

Congrats to Eden! And good news for the world. Hope to hear more about this technology and Eden soon. Drop us a line if you run into anything new.


Peak Oil, Peak Debt, and the Concentration of Power

Posted: 18 Sep 2011 04:25 AM PDT

This is a truly wonderful post from The Oil Drum by Goddard College’s Charles Eisenstein (licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 U.S. License). Giving more depth to peak oil than the good infographic on that presented yesterday, but also delving deeply into the problems of our economy and how they are linked to our energy and environmental crisis, this 3-pager is my recommended reading of the month, at least. The concentration of power (increasingly obvious to us) and how that is linked to our energy infrastructure is, in particular, a very interesting part of it all for me, and piggy-backs on John Farrel’s excellent pieces on democratizing our electricity system.

I was just listening to this great cover of a great Rolling Stones song — Bitter Sweet Symphony — while reading this and thought it was actually a good match for the piece, so let’s start off with that:

(Thanks to Andrew Burger for recommending we republish this article, and thanks to my good friend Jacek Fior for reminding me of this great song and video.) 

by Charles Eisenstein

When theorists approach the peak oil problem from the perspective of finding a substitute that will allow us to maintain our present energy infrastructure, their conclusion is one of despair. There may be many substitutes for oil as a concentrated form of storable energy, but none of them are nearly as good as oil itself. Those invested in the status quo would, quite understandably, like to maintain it, but it is becoming apparent even to the most highly invested that the status quo is doomed; that it can be maintained only temporarily, and at a rapidly accelerating environmental cost.

The transition before us is not merely a transition in fuel types. It is also a transition in the whole energy infrastructure, both physical and psychological; a transition away from big power plants, distribution lines, and metered consumers; away from capital-intensive drilling, refining, distribution, and consumer fueling stations. More broadly, it is a transition away from centralization, concentration, and all the social institutions that go along with it.

Both the energy system and the money system are based on accumulation and the concentration of power. Not only our energy infrastructure, but our dominant yet invisible way of thinking about energy, presupposes a centralized system of distribution based on a highly concentrated energy source. Many alternative energy technologies have made little headway, not because they are technologically unfeasible, but because they don’t fit into our present physical, financial, and psychological infrastructure.

There is a causal as well as a metaphorical parallel between the concentration of power in oil and in money. A concentrated power source that can be stored allows social and political power to concentrate in the hands of those who control it. It generates very different social dynamics from an energy source that is universally distributed and constantly renewed.

For one thing, the profit potential of the latter is intrinsically less. Once you have sold the geothermal pump or the PV array, the buyer is self-sufficient, unlike the electrical power consumer who has to pay the metered rate in perpetuity. Energy dependency and economic dependency are closely linked.

A similar pattern holds in other fields as well. In medicine, for instance, the universal, endogenous medical knowledge of several centuries ago that employed common weeds as medicine has given way to a system in which both knowledge and pharmaceutical medicines have been purified, abstracted, and concentrated in an exclusive domain.

There is little profit potential in dandelion or burdock, nor did the village herbalist or country doctor of yesteryear make much money. We might apply the same analysis to the migration of legal power from informal community-based mechanisms of dispute resolution to the centralized, codified, and therefore in a sense concentrated mechanisms of the law. So also for education, entertainment, and news.

In all these realms though, the trend toward increasing concentration is nearing its peak, or has peaked already. The peak manifests in many different ways. In some areas it reflects resource depletion; in others, demand saturation; in others, it is due to technology. For example, thanks in large part to the Internet, a tide of decentralization and disintermediation is erasing the producer/consumer divide in the areas of news and entertainment. That more and more of our time is spent watching “content” produced by amateurs suggests that we are approaching “peak Hollywood,” in parallel with peak healthcare, peak pollution, peak advertising, peak fisheries, and peak oil.

It should not be surprising, since the profit motive has been the primary driver towards these peaks, that we should be approaching a peak in the realm of money as well, a peak that we might call “peak debt.” The crisis in money is ineluctably related to the crisis in everything else, because the viability of our money system depends on growth: the conversion of nature into goods, and relationships into services. This conversion cannot proceed much farther, due to resource depletion and the inability of society and biosphere to sustain more damage.

–> Read Page 2

Obama Wins Cap and Trade War to Cut Ozone Pollution

Posted: 17 Sep 2011 10:06 PM PDT

Starting in January 2012, the EPA will implement the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) cap and trade program that will put a cap on ground-level ozone (smog) nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide that cross state lines. The EPA cap and trade program will achieve similar results to last year’s climate bill, making coal less attractive financially than clean energy.

The Obama administration may have lost the battle but it has won the war. Last year, the Waxman-Markey climate bill (which capped coal plant pollution, in order to curtail climate change) was killed in the Senate (Republican filibuster) after passing the then heavily Democratic House.

Now, with no climate bill, it will be the EPA’s own cap and trade under the CSAPR starting in January that will cut climate change, one of several EPA actions which which will curtail the use of coal. The loss will be made up by shifting to more natural gas, wind, solar, geothermal, hydropower, biomass and eventually ocean energy and nuclear power for electricity. The coal industry can also, to some extent, clean up as well.

The EPA has successfully administered cap and trade systems in the past. EPA cap and trade got the lead from our gasoline and EPA cap and trade got the acid from our rain, (and under the Montreal Protocol, international cap and trade is closing the stratospheric ozone hole over Antarctica). So it has a long history of success in putting a cap on pollution, and then ratcheting it down, using cap and trade.

Under cap and trade, dirty power plants must cap pollution. That is the cap. Dirty power plants must pay money to the cleaner power plants. That is the trade (in “emissions quotas”). The money from the dirty power plants pays for the new technology that the clean power plants install to emit less pollution. It is simple, and costs taxpayers little or less than nothing: the CBO score of the climate cap and trade bill showed a net gain of $60 billion over the next eight years, for example.

Republicans have mounted CRA resolutions to put an end to the implementation of the cap and trade plan by the EPA ( S.J. Res 27 and  H.R. 2891) but Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolutions can be vetoed by the president, and overcoming a presidential veto would take 67 votes in the Senate. With only 47 Republicans, that would be about as hard for them as it has been over these last 5 years for a Democratic majority of under 60 (for all but a few months) to overcome the persistent Republican filibuster, which only takes 40 votes.

Surprisingly, the shoe is on the other foot.

Susan Kraemer
(syndicate this article here)




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