- Folding E-Bike from Gabriel Wartofsky Design a Promising Addition to Green City Transit Network
- Could U.S. Get 20% of Electricity from Solar under Power Lines?
- Bamboo Cars?
- Vestas Rolls Out Two New Canadian Wind Projects for 2012
- US Solar Industry Jobs Grow 6.8% to August, 20%+ Expected in Next 12 Months
- Win a Vespa!.. from a Home Wind Turbine Company
- My CNBC Energy Opportunities Interview (VIDEO)
Posted: 17 Oct 2011 11:56 AM PDT
Making green urban transit system work effectively demands the launch of a smart network containing a set of transit hubs and options that seamlessly blend automobile, rail, bike, foot, and other modes.
One component of such a green transit network might be a folding e-bike, such as the ones being developed by Gabriel Wartofsky Design (GWD).
This e-bike prototype features a 250-watt hub motor that provides up to 15 mph electric assist from a hidden lithium-ion battery pack. The bike is capable of going 10 to 15 miles before charging is necessary. Another GWD prototype is in development that will feature a larger 350-watt motor and a battery pack with a 15 to 40 mile range.
Both e-bikes feature 2-inch-diameter steel tubing, a low step-over height frame, airless tires surrounding 20-inch wheels, a chainless shaft drive system, an adjustable handlebar, and increased pedal crank clearance.
“It’s inherently compatible with other modes of transportation, so it facilitates car-pooling, public transit and even travel by air,” says Wartofsky. “Electric assist ensures you won’t sweat in business attire and a chainless drive eliminates the risk of damaging clothing.”
In an optimum setting, such an e-bike could be picked up and dropped off at facilities that provide charging capabilities — an option more cities are starting to consider.
Wartofsky believes that such e-bike intersects are ideally located near bus stops or rail links for seamless transport integration, making it easy for commuters to hire short-distance transport solutions using items like RFID smart cards, like those already being used at bike rental stations in many major cities internationally.
While such bikes may be individually owned, Wartofsky's previous design work suggests that such bikes might be best suited to become part of an urban transit network via existing bike-sharing programs.
Although Wartofsky has not released a price for his folding e-bike, when it becomes available early next year, Kickstarter backers were offered a pre-launch price of US$1,395 with a full two-year warranty.
The following You Tube video reveals the inspiration behind, and demonstrates the folding action of, the folding e-bike:
Photo: Gabriel Wartofsky Design
Posted: 17 Oct 2011 11:53 AM PDT
What if the U.S. could get 20 percent of its power from solar, near transmission lines, and without covering virgin desert?
It could. Transmission right-of-way corridors, vast swaths of vegetation-free landscape to protect high-voltage power lines, could provide enough space for over 600,000 megawatts of solar PV. These arrays could provide enough electricity to meet 20% of the country’s electric needs. (Note: there may not be good interconnection opportunities for solar under these huge towers, so this should be read as a land use discussion rather than technical analysis of interconnection to the grid).
It starts with the federal Government Accountability Office, which estimates there are 155,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines in the United States (defined as lines 230 kilovolts and higher). According to at least two major utilities (Duke Energy and the Tennessee Valley Authority), such power lines require a minimum of 150 feet of right-of-way, land generally cleared of all significant vegetation that might come in contact with the power lines.
That’s 4,400 square miles of already developed (or denuded) land for solar power, right under existing grid infrastructure.
Of course, the power lines themselves cause some shading, as may nearby trees (although, the New York Public Service Commission, and likely other PSCs, has height limits on nearby trees that would minimize shading on the actual right-of-way). To be conservative, we’ll assume that half of transmission line right-of-way is unsuitable for solar.
That leaves 2,200 square miles of available land for solar. With approximately 275 megawatts (MW) able to be installed per square mile, over 600,000 MW of solar could occupy the available right-of-way, providing enough electricity (over 720 billion kilowatt-hours) to supply 20 percent of U.S. power demands. (Note: we used the average annual solar insolation in Cincinnati as a proxy for the U.S. as a whole).
Making big strides toward a renewable energy future doesn’t require massive, remote solar projects. We can use existing infrastructure or land to generate significant portions of our electricity demand. Transmission right-of-way, providing 20% of U.S. electricity from solar, is just one piece of the puzzle, with another 20% possible using existing rooftops and a solar potential of nearly 100% from solar on highway right-of-way. Solar can help achieve a 100% clean – and local – energy future.
Posted: 17 Oct 2011 11:20 AM PDT
Posted: 17 Oct 2011 11:14 AM PDT
Hot off the heels of a recent report that Canada will have a record year in wind energy installation, 2012 is already looking good thanks to two new wind projects slated next year, despite recent concerns plaguing the industry in one of Canada’s provinces.
Vestas, one of the largest wind turbine manufacturers in the world, announced this past week it plans two new southwestern Ontario wind farms totalling 178 megawatts (MW).
Martha Wyrsch, President of Vestas Canadian Wind Energy, said on the website that this will boost Ontario’s clean energy sector while providing up to 60,000 Ontario homes with new clean energy.
The proposed two new wind farms announcement comes after recent controversies within Ontario’s wind industry. Internal documents leaked to the public said officials took in hundreds of complaints about Ontario’s 900 wind turbines, yet downgraded the concerns. Even Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) president Robert Hornung said recently he acknowledged that turbines may have some health issues. In attempts to discuss these concerns with community groups, the association has put out a publication on better collaboration between industry and other groups in going forward.
The new farms will be under the province’s feed-in tariff (FiT) scheme. The feed-in tariff allows for renewable energy projects like wind to receive firmer prices over the long-term. Locations for the projects and names, as well, will be announced at a later date, Vestas said.
Posted: 17 Oct 2011 10:29 AM PDT
The US solar industry created jobs at a 6.8% pace in the year through August 2011. That compares to the expected 0.7% job growth rate for the US economy overall economy and a 2% net job loss in fossil fuel power generation, according to The US Solar Foundation’s second annual US solar workforce review.
More than 17,198 solar employment sites employing 100,237 individuals were identified in the “National Solar Jobs Census 2011: A Review of the U.S. Solar Workforce,” which was conducted by The Solar Foundation in partnership with GreenLMI and Cornell University.
California continued to rank at the top of US states in solar employment with 25,575 workers. Colorado, Arizona, Pennsylvania, New York, Florida, Texas, Oregon, New Jersey and Massachusetts, respectively, rounded out the top 10.
The six states where solar employment was growing the fastest were Colorado, Arizona, Florida, Oregon, New Jersey and Massachusetts.
The results show that strong state solar and renewable energy policies are contributing to jobs growth, Wendy Mitchell, CEO of the Aurora Economic Development Council in Colorado, noted.
"States like Colorado see solar as one of the cornerstones for our economy now and into the future," said Wendy.
"Both GE Solar's announcement to locate their new $300 million solar manufacturing plant in Aurora (which will create 355 new direct solar jobs) and the results of the National Solar Jobs Census show that Colorado's investment in the solar industry is paying off in good jobs for skilled workers. It is important that we continue to promote this job-generating industry both at the state and federal level."
A Much-Needed Reference
The report is noteworthy in a number of respects, but particularly for its value as one of perhaps only a few comprehensive, nationwide primary research studies and references on solar industry jobs. It includes data from more than 2,100 solar company survey respondents across the industry value chain, from installation, wholesale trade, manufacturing, utilities and other fields.
As such, it can prove invaluable in helping inform job seekers and energy policymakers, as well as industry participants, both in the US and internationally. "The National Solar Jobs Census is an important reference because the previous lack of data about solar employment was presenting difficulties to policymakers and training providers," commented Philip Jordan, chief business officer at BW Research Partnership.
"The Solar Foundation is helping to fill that gap with solid research that allows us to draw important conclusions about the solar industry with a high degree of confidence, while giving training providers, job seekers, and the general public the critical information they need to understand the solar labor market."
Good news for job seekers as well as renewable and clean energy supporters, Census researchers also found that solar industry employers expect to add another 24% more jobs – that’s an additional 24,000 – by August, 2012. Nearly half of the solar industry companies that responded to the survey said they planned to add jobs over the next year.
Remember, this was as of end August, however. Some long shadows have been cast over the economy, including doubts about the future of the Treasury 1603 grant program and renewable energy investment tax credits, as well as the political scandal and media dog pile that’s come about as a result of the failure of Solyndra.
Furthermore, it looks like the solar industry is entering a period of consolidation, as the price of solar cells and modules continues to decline and the shares of solar power companies take a pounding, which makes acquisitions cheaper.
If European Union leaders don’t find a viable solution, or at least one perceived by the financial markets as viable, and the banking crisis worsens, all bets are off. Another banking crisis and global recession would be likely, according to economic and financial market analysts.
The Solar Foundation’s executive director did add a word of caution about future expectations. “These survey responses merely reflect employers' best estimates at expected new hiring, but it demonstrates a clear growth pattern for the industry and tremendous optimism by employers in the industry," she said.
"Employers expressed similar optimism last year, but failed to meet their hiring expectations because of stalled legislative initiatives and continued policy uncertainty."
Posted: 17 Oct 2011 09:01 AM PDT
This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Sauer Energy. All opinions are 100% mine.
I’ve written about Sauer Energy a number of times over the years. About a year ago, the company released a new vertical-axis wind turbine with a unique design to improve the efficiency of this small-scale, clean power option.
With energy prices continually rising (causing not only people’s transportation and electricity bills to rise, but also the price of food and goods), more and more people are turning to clean energy options like this that use free fuel.
It’s just common sense.
As I wrote recently (in two pieces), the small-wind-turbine market has been growing fast. In 2010, the small wind turbine market grew more than in any other year, growing by 26%. Furthermore, as I just wrote a couple weeks ago, a study from Pike Research projects that, by 2015, the market will grow from 50MW to 152MW. Impressive growth.
Bringing more attention to the small-wind-turbine market in an innovative way, Sauer Energy is now hosting a contest to win a a Vespa (model LX 50 4V)! Would love to win one of those little green (relatively speaking) machines. You have an opportunity to do so, of course.
Win a Vespa by doing at least one of the following:
For more, official contest rules are linked above. Good luck! (Wish I was eligible to participate!)
Posted: 17 Oct 2011 04:45 AM PDT
I noted about a month and a half ago that I was going to be interviewed for CNBC and Harvard Business Review’s Energy Opportunities series. I was interviewed about a month ago now, at CNBC’s studios in London, and the video has just been published.
Of course, while I actually spoke for about 10-15 minutes, CNBC cut it down to a more attention-span-friendly 2 minutes or so. There’s stuff I would have liked them to have kept in, but I think that they did quite a good job overall and chose some of the most important segments to feature.
Overall, it’s not a pleasure to watch myself on video, and I’m not quite used to discussing these matters verbally. But, hey, what can you do?…
In the possibility and hope that this video would be watched by more than just people interested in and knowledgeable about energy (and clean energy, in particular), I wanted to focus on a few points that I thought were most important for most people to understand:
Also, knowing that repetition is key to people remembering anything, I emphasized these points a few times in the course of the interview and am quite happy that some of them were repeated in the course of the 2-minute video.
So, now, here’s the video, followed by some of the things I discussed that were left out:
As I said above, I didn’t expect CNBC to include ALL of my points. I knew the video would be shortened. Luckily, though, I’ve got a blog where I can share more. Other points I know or am quite sure I mentioned (sometimes multiple times) include:
I think I covered much more than that, but those were some of the other key points.
Hope you find the video and my follow-up comments here useful. If so, sharing with more people than just your niche “energy circle” would be greatly appreciated.
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