Friday, November 4, 2011

Latest from: CleanTechnica

Latest from: CleanTechnica

Link to CleanTechnica

Natural Gas Fracking Good at Creating Earthquakes

Posted: 04 Nov 2011 05:34 PM PDT

We’ve written about natural gas here on CleanTechnica a bit. It might be a useful transition energy source to help get us off coal and nuclear. However, at the current moment, methods used for retrieving it from the Earth are linked to flammable water and, it seems, earthquakes. I wrote about the possible link between fracking and earthquakes in Arkansas back in March. Now there’s news, from a company that engages in fracking, that it is probably linked to earthquakes in England. Of course, the UK’s Guardian has had a few pieces on this. Check out:

  1. Fracking ‘probable’ cause of Lancashire quakes
  2. Should fracking be banned in the UK?

Here’s my quick piece on the matter over on Planetsave, where we cover the link much more frequently:

Related posts:

  1. Are Arkansas Earthquakes Related to Fracking?
  2. Fracking Concerns Dim Excitement About Natural Gas Production
  3. Financial Analysts Say Natural Gas Fracking Ain’t So Great – Wait, What?


1st-of-Its-Kind Community Solar Project

Posted: 04 Nov 2011 04:51 PM PDT

Community solar programs and projects of various sorts are hugely loved here on CleanTechnica, but a new community solar program in California is a little bit different than anything I’ve seen before (and it might be completely unique). It’s essentially crowdfunding the investment dollars for solar projects on community centers. (Think “Kickstarter for solar power on community centers.”) Solar finance company Solar Mosaic and Oakland's Ella Baker Center for Human Rights are the ones behind it.

Pluses: low-income communities can get cheaper electricity, more green jobs are created, and we cut greenhouse gas emissions and other harmful pollution. Minuses: …?

Oakland’s Asian Resource Center was the first community center to benefit from the program. It got its solar roof, a 140-kilowatt solar installation (enough to power about 35 homes), on October 12. "Our communities are hurting already, but we are not waiting for the worst,” Miya Yoshitani, associate director of Asian Pacific Environmental Network, said at the opening ceremony. ”We're looking to build a solution-rich community. There's no better time to bring low-income communities together and green our community."

"We are courageous. We created something new. This is not an ordinary solar project. It represents the power of the crowd, the surplus of power that people employed to make it happen,” said Dan Rosen, CEO of Solar Mosaic.

community solar buying program

How Solar Mosaic’s Program Works

Investors in these solar projects can either donate their money or they can get it back in 7-10 years (essentially as zero-interest loans). They can buy “tiles” of the solar roof, each representing $100 of the investment, through Solar Mosaic.

As soon as total investments hit the price of the targeted installation, the project gets built. “The community, which receives the solar project, signs a 20-year lease with Solar Mosaic for use of the panels and agrees to pay the company for the power from the panels at a much lower rate than a utility company charges,” Simona Drevensek of Greentech Media reports.

It’s a way for individuals with money to give back to society, essentially.

"Solar Mosaic is doing what banks do (but without them), while creating jobs and a sustainable future," said Jeremy Liu, executive director of EBALDC (East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation).

"You save $112,000 over 20 years that would otherwise go to PG&E. It's a way for the community to get jobs, power and be part of the solar revolution," Danny Kennedy, founder of Sungevity, said.

OK, I Have Heard of Similar Program

If you were reading CleanTechnica about one month ago, you might remember a “Solar Schools” program started by UK climate activist group 10:10 that I wrote about on October 2. It is actually very similar. The only differences as far as I can tell are that investors in that program provide funding for solar power systems on.. schools, whereas the California program above does so for community centers, and that Solar Schools investors don’t have the option to get their money back.

Know of any similar projects? I’d love to hear about them, and I imagine others here would, too!

Image Credit: Screenshot of Solar Mosaic video at top.

Related posts:

  1. Solar-Powered Community Transporters in Florida
  2. 1st Community-Owned Solar Farm in Australia Coming Soon..
  3. 1 Block Off the Grid's Community Solar Initiative Expanding to 20 US Cities


You Can Pre-Order the Electric Ford Focus for $40,000

Posted: 04 Nov 2011 04:07 PM PDT

Well, okay, $39,995, but I didn’t want to sound too much like a car salesman. Anyway, here’s the news from sister site Gas2:

Related posts:

  1. SunPower, Ford Announce Key Partnership for Owners of New Focus EV
  2. Ford Unveils Plans to Build Chinese Electric Vehicle
  3. Brazil to Triple Renewable Energy by 2020 (Focus on Wind)


2012 Green Car of the Year Finalists

Posted: 04 Nov 2011 03:53 PM PDT

Can you guess the 2012 Green Car of the Year finalists? (Take out your notebook and pencil before peaking below.)

Related posts:

  1. Hawaii Teacher of the Year Gets Electric Car & Charging Stations (for 1 Year)
  2. Architecting the Future Finalists in New York
  3. Buckminster Fuller Challenge Semi-Finalists Warrant Closer Look


Geomembrane Technology Creates Solar-Powered Landfills

Posted: 04 Nov 2011 03:47 PM PDT

A 45-acre geomembrane covers this landfill with 7,000 flexible solar panels

Landfills are a constant reminder of the waste we produce, but a new innovation could throw out the notion of a "dump" by turning them into solar power dynamos.

energyNOW! visited Conley, Georgia to see how one company is generating renewable energy while safely covering nine million cubic yards of municipal solid waste. You can watch the full video below:

Most people don't give much thought to the science behind landfills, but they're a highly engineered environment, designed to safely contain decomposing waste and methane while keeping out the elements. Clean energy advocates have looked at landfills for years as a ideal location for solar power installations, but encountered problems because as waste breaks down over time, their shape can shift and damage solid structures.

Enter the Spectral Power Cap, a first-of-its-kind 45-acre landfill cover combining flexible geomembrane and solar photovoltaic (PV) technology into a dual-purpose system to close the landfill and generate solar energy. The geomembrane is made of thermoplastic polyolefin, similar to the material used on commercial white roofs. It contours to the shape of the landfill and can flex over time, maintaining a snug fit.

The geomembrane is an interesting technology by itself, but what really makes the Spectral Power Cap innovative is the integrated solar panels. About 7,000 flexible 144-watt PV panels are factory bonded to the geomembrane, shipped to the landfill, unrolled on site, and welded together into a solid cover. The PV panels are Teflon-coated, durable enough to walk on, and connected by a million feet of wire to four inverters that sends the solar energy onto the grid.

All in all, the Spectral Power Cap combines four 250-kilowatt arrays covering 10 acres into a total operating capacity of one megawatt, enough to power 224 homes. Best of all, the system makes money for the landfill operators through an agreement with Georgia Power to sell the energy into the wholesale electricity market.

The Conley geomembrane is the largest of its kind, much larger with more generating capacity than two similar installations in New York and Texas, and its success could lead to many more systems across the country. "A lot of these landfills are built in urban settings, and they're close to transmission lines," said Tony Walker of landfill operator Republic Services. "We think this type of system can be built across the country."

Related posts:

  1. Sun-Powered Cutter and Solar-Powered 3D Printer that Creates Glass Objects from Sand {PHOTOS & VIDEOS}
  2. Ridgeblade Wind-Powered Microsystems Wins Green Challenge with Discreet New Technology
  3. Massachusetts Developing Solar Farms on Old Landfills


World’s Largest Wind Power Project Moving Forward

Posted: 04 Nov 2011 03:17 PM PDT

Truck with a wind turbine blade shepherds flat wind farm

Truck with a wind turbine blade on its way to the Caithness Shepherds Flat wind farm under construction in Eastern Oregon.

It’s been a long time since we reported on the largest wind farm in the world, the 845-megawatt Caithness Shepherds Flat project in Eastern Oregon (in Gilliam and Morrow Counties, to be exact). I think the last time we reported on it was in April, after Google announced that it was investing $100 million in the project. While there isn’t any groundbreaking news to report, the project is moving forward according to schedule and Phase 1 (which includes 70 wind turbines) is supposed to be fully completed by the end of November.

Construction is on schedule and on budget. Work on the substations, interconnection facilities, transmission lines, and electricity collection systems has been finished. 338 foundations (for all three stages) have been built. All in all, the project is more than 50% complete. By August 2012, all 338 wind turbines are projected to be up and running.

Wind power is booming across the U.S. and across the world. Being perhaps the cheapest form of new electricity in most places, it is consistently being chosen over development of coal, nuclear, and natural gas power stations by energy companies and corporations (with and without a green leaning) who can do simple math. Total installed power capacity of wind turbines around the world is expected to go from 197, 039 MW at the end of 2010 to 1,750,000 MW by 2030.

The Caithness Shepherds Flat wind farm is owned by Caithness, GE Energy Financial Services, Google Inc., Sumitomo Corporation of America, and Tyr Energy, and it is being built along the Columbia River Gorge (I guess I wasn’t completely exact above).

Image Credit: OregonDOT

Related posts:

  1. DESERTEC $555 Billion Renewable Energy Project Moving Forward
  2. China Moving Forward on World’s Largest Solar Roof
  3. Desertec (HUGE Solar & Clean Energy Project) Moving Forward


Chevy Volt Outsells Nissan Leaf for 1st Time

Posted: 04 Nov 2011 02:48 PM PDT

I have to say, I’m more of a Nissan Leaf fan, but it’s nice to see the Chevy Volt is also picking up steam and achieving some sales milestones (including finding more buyers in October than the Leaf).

Related posts:

  1. Nissan Leaf Disses Chevy Volt in New Commercial {VIDEO}
  2. Nissan Leaf Taxi Testing Begins
  3. Nissan Explains Leaf Battery (Video)


Hawaii Teacher of the Year Gets Electric Car & Charging Stations (for 1 Year)

Posted: 04 Nov 2011 02:40 PM PDT

electric car for hawaii teacher of the year

Yet another reason to love Hawaii. The state of my dreams has now announced that it is awarding the 2012 State Teacher of the Year with an electric car and two charging stations.. for one year (guess they didn’t have it in the budget to give these to the teacher forever). I have to say, while I’ve always thought of Hawaii as one of the most idyllic places in the world (and the most desirable state to love in), this make me think of Hawaii as in even more idyllic way. Seriously, though, does any other state do anything like this?

“Chad Miller, a language arts teacher at Kailua High School, received the prestigious designation as the 2012 Hawaii State Teacher of the Year during ceremonies hosted by the Hawaii State Department of Education,” a news release this week announced.

You’re probably wondering, at this point, which car it is…. It’s the Mitsubishi iMiEV, which has been making the rounds lately (see link). The charging stations, predictably, are for the teacher’s home and her parking space at school (yet another reason for jealous teachers to grumble about her). The charging stations were provided by AeroVironment, which is a supplier of EV charging stations from Monrovia, California.

Another interesting thing I learned from this story is that Honolulu offers free parking for electric vehicles “at all City and County public parking facilities and parking meter stalls on streets and roadways throughout the island of Oahu.” Interesting incentive.

Image Source: Hawaii Automobile Dealers Assoc.

Related posts:

  1. Electric Vehicle Charging Stations Coming to a City Near You?
  2. Charging Stations for Electric Vehicles Mandatory in France by 2015
  3. iPhone & iPod Touch App Crowdsources Locations of EV Charging Stations


60-Acre Solar Farm for Chicago O’Hare Airport

Posted: 04 Nov 2011 02:20 PM PDT

Chicago’s not the sunniest city in the world, but solar panels work (and make sense) everywhere, and the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) has decided that a solar farm at Chicago O'Hare International Airport would be a good addition to the site. But that’s not the only way CDA is going green….

Related posts:

  1. Chicago's New Distributed Solar Energy Pilot Project
  2. Israel's Ben Gurion Airport Plans 50-Kilowatt Solar Project
  3. Denver International Airport Leads US Commercial Airports in Solar Power


Congress Clean Energy Champions Introduce Key Clean Energy Legislation

Posted: 04 Nov 2011 02:12 PM PDT

al franken clean energy congress

Two important pieces of legislation have been introduced in the House and Senate that would provide long-term certainty to the clean energy industry by extending tax credits for wind, geothermal, hydro and biomass facilities.

Yesterday in the House, Washington Republican Dave Reichert and Oregon Democrat Earl Blumenauer introduced a piece of legislation that would extend the production tax credit (PTC) for a suite of renewable energy technologies through 2016. The PTC provides a credit of 2.2 cents for every kilowatt-hour of electricity generated by a qualifying facility. The PTC for wind is set to expire at the end of 2012, and the PTC for geothermal, hydro and bioenergy would expire the following year.

Because projects take years to plan and develop, the prospect of an expiration frequently causes a "boom-bust" cycle. In the lead-up to the expiration date, there's a frenzy of activity to take advantage of the credit. Then project levels fall drastically the following year. This is happening today in the wind industry as companies anticipate the end of the Treasury Grant Program this year, and the potential lapsing of the PTC next year.

In a statement after the bill was introduced, Karl Gawell, executive director of the Geothermal Energy Association, explained that companies in the geothermal sector are seeing a similar problem.

"Extending federal tax incentives through 2016 is vital for the future of the US geothermal industry. We are already seeing a slow-down in projects unable or unlikely to meet the current deadline.  This legislation would stem this downturn and sustain growth in the US geothermal industry."

The PTC primarily benefits large-scale facilities. A bill introduced in the Senate would also extend incentives to community-scale wind facilities, potentially spreading the financial benefit of project development to a broader range of people.

Minnesota Democratic Senator Al Franken and Montana Democratic Senator Jon Tester introduced the Community Wind Act, which would expand a small wind Investment Tax Credit to projects up to 20 MW. Currently, that that tax credit is only available for facilities up to 100 kW. The ITC offers investors a 30% credit based upon capital costs.

Because of the complexities of the PTC, it can be difficult for smaller community projects to arrange project financing. This piece of legislation is designed to make financing models simpler and bring in more capital to the sector.

These are two promising developments. If Congress is serious about creating conditions for businesses in the U.S. to grow, these simple pieces of support would help leverage thousands of new clean energy projects and billions in private financing.

This article was originally published on Climate Progress and has been reposted with permission.

Image Credit: Вени Марковски

Related posts:

  1. Leading Republicans Introduce Clean Energy Bill
  2. Climate & Clean Energy Legislation Continues to Get WIDE Support
  3. National Call-in Day on Clean Energy & Climate Legislation — TODAY


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