Monday, November 7, 2011

Latest from: CleanTechnica

Latest from: CleanTechnica

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Exclusive Pictures from Green Prophet: Egypt’s Kuraymat Solar in Operation

Posted: 07 Nov 2011 04:46 PM PST


Among the few rewards of blogging are the field trips supplied to see clean energy technology in action. On one such bloggers’ clean tech tour last summer in Finland, I met the (then very pregnant) editor of Green Prophet, a site set in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region and she subsequently invited me to write for her site.

The region is a joy to write about, because – compared with the US, hobbled by its bizarrely obstructionist Republican party – the commitment to renewables at the government level in so many MENA nations is implementable. Policy is supported by the proximity to the EU, and its Clean Development Mechanism, which funds renewables as part of the EU commitment to the Kyoto Accord and the resulting climate-stabilising policies of carbon constraint.

Pictured: Paul van Son, Desertec CEO, an idealistic desert expert with the sensitivity required for conducting delicate negotiations and dealing with diverse cultures, together with the very progressive Mahmoud Attia Mustafa, Vice Chairman of NREA, Egypt’s New and Renewable Energy Authority.


The MENA region is now jumping with clean energy activity as a result, including the actual beginnings of Desertec, the visionary half-trillion dollar plan to power 15% of Europe from the North African desert across the Mediterranean, and the Moroccan plan to power 42% of its kingdom with solar.

Taffline Laylin, one of my fellow writers at Green Prophet just posted her pictures from one such tour. She attended the Desertec conference  in Cairo this month. (And it’s not all rainbows and sunshine: she did wind up having to take taxis around because of unwanted advances in the Cairo streets). But the revolution has changed little in the renewable direction of Egypt, which has been terrific, even before the revolution.

Her field trip to see Egypt’s first solar thermal power plant yielded some of her typically terrific pictures, of the new 150 MW Integrated Solar Combined Cycle (ISCC) power plant just opened 95 kilometers south of Cairo that I reported earlier this year.

“Brimming with the kind of energy that infuses a school field trip, roughly 80 professionals from the renewable energy industry packed into two large buses outside the Semiramis International Hotel in Cairo last Friday,” she says.

Iberdrola was awarded the $220 million contract to build Kuraymat by the Egyptian government's New Renewable Energy Authority (NREA) in September 2007 after an international public tendering process, and the company began work on building it in 2009, near the grid, 95 kilometers from Cairo.


It began operation in July of 2011, and has been feeding solar energy into the Egyptian grid every day since.


Funding included a $50 million grant from the World Bank and a $190 million loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).


Like all solar thermal plants, it is just made of steel and mirrors, not the photovoltaic panels that most people assume comprises utility-scale solar projects. In fact few utility-scale solar projects are PV. Most use the sun to make steam-powered electricity, one way or another, using the same kind of turbines to make electricityas the old fashioned fossil fuel plants.


In fact this one keeps those same turbines running at night, too. It moonlights on fossil power. The plant operates at night as a  110 MW combined cycle gas power plant. But desert days are looooooong – and by day it operates as a 150 MW solar thermal plant supplying the peak hours when air conditioning is needed most.


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Siemens Energy Racks Up $900 Million of Wind Turbine Orders in the Americas

Posted: 07 Nov 2011 11:48 AM PST

Siemens Energy’s North American business has the wind at its back. Europe’s largest engineering company racked up orders for 293 wind turbines from six wind power projects – four in the US, one in Puerto Rico and one in Canada – from July to October.

Worth more than $900 million, the turbines’ combined capacity totals 673 megawatts (MWs), enough to provide clean, renewable power for more than 200,000 homes, according to a company news release.

All of the orders are for Siemens Energy’s SWT-2.3-101 wind turbines, “the workhorses of the company’s wind power portfolio,” Felix Ferlemann, CEO of Siemens’ Wind Power Division.

“As we look to further regionalization efforts within our wind power business, we’ve continued to locate new and expand existing manufacturing, assembly and service facilities to provide superior products and support to our wind power customers in the Americas,” commented Mark Albenze, CEO of the Americas Business Unit of Siemens Energy’s Wind Power Division. “These orders are evidence of the continued investment and growth in the wind industry and an increasing demand for clean energy in the region.”

In the continental US, Siemens Energy received orders to supply 57 wind turbines for Duke Energy’s 131 MW Cimarron II project in Gray County, Kansas; 87 for its 200 MW Los Vientos, Phase 1 project near Harlingen, Texas; 30 more for Duke’s 69 MW Laurel Hill project in north central Pennsylvania’s Lycoming County; and 66 SWT-2.3-101 wind turbines for Pattern Energy’s 152 MW project near Ely, Nevada.

Siemens will also supply 44 SWT-2.3-101 wind turbines for Pattern Energy’s 101 MW Santa Isabel wind farm in Finca de Viento, Santa Isabel in Puerto Rico and 9 wind turbines for Grand Valley 1 Limited Partnership’s 19.8 MW project in Grand Valley, Ontario.

Green Job Creation

Having entered the American wind power market in 2005 with one employee, Siemens has created nearly 1,800 jobs in its US wind power business alone, the company noted. It operates a nascelle assembly plant in Hutchison, Kansas, and has expanded its 600,000-square foot wind turbine IntegralBlade manufacturing facility in Fort Madison, Iowa, which now employs more than 700.

Siemens intends to add two facilities this year: a new wind service distribution center in Woodward, Oklahoma and a distribution and tooling facility in Wichita, Kansas.

Americas Expansion

With a cumulative installed wind power capacity of more than 4,800 MW, Siemens has a solid second position in the US and also holds a leading position in Canada, being the number one supplier of wind turbines in Ontario.

Looking to expand across the Americas, Siemens is aiming to build up its wind power business in South America. It’s secured orders for its 2.3 MW wind turbines with three wind power projects in Brazil with a combined installed capacity of 312 MW. They’re due to be installed in 2012 and 2013.

For more on wind power, see:

- Wind Energy & Wind Turbine Market Booming Globally (1,750,000 MW Projected by 2030)
- Wind Power at Bargain Basement Prices by 2020
- Texas Wind Power to Double by 2013

* Image Courtesy of Siemens Energy

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Obama: Looking into China’s Solar Trade Practices (Video)

Posted: 07 Nov 2011 05:35 AM PST


obama china solar policy

The #1 surprise of the recent solar power conference in Texas was a petition brought forth by some in the industry, led by Oregon-based SolarWorld, claiming that China was illegally “dumping” its solar panels in the U.S. (selling the panels for less than it costs to make them).

While some in the U.S. solar industry have come out strongly against such claims and pointed out that a solar trade war would be less than helpful, Obama acknowledged last week that the administration has wrestled with China on some clean energy policies and is looking into this claim.

In an interview with Tracy Barry, news anchor for Portland-based KGW NewsChannel 8, Obama said:

"We have seen a lot of questionable competitive practices coming out of China when it comes to the clean energy space, and I have been more aggressive than previous administrations in enforcing our trade laws. We have filed actions against them when we see these kinds of dumping activities, and we're going to look very carefully at this stuff and potentially bring actions, if we find that the basic rules of the road have been violated." Here’s the video:

While Gordon Brinser, president of Oregon-based SolarWorld Industries America Inc., says Obama’s statement validates his concerns that China is violating U.S. and world trade laws in this space, I think it’s inaccurate to say that Obama’s remarks validate SolarWorld’s specific concerns, and we have to wait until an investigation into the matter is concluded to see if he agrees with SolarWorld and the other solar companies that have brought this matter up.

And, agreeing with Arno Harris of Recurrent Energy, I think the overall effects of getting into a solar trade battle with China is not the way to go — it’s not going to help the U.S. and it’s not going to help the world.

Obama photo via jurvetson on flickr

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India Solar Market: 54 MW in 2010 to 9,000+ MW in 2016

Posted: 07 Nov 2011 05:14 AM PST

solar power taxonomy india solar growth

Quick News: GTM Research and Bridge to India have published a new report,  The India Solar Market: Strategy, Players, and Opportunities, that finds that while solar power has had a minimal role in India’s energy mix to date, the sun-lucky nation is going to turn that all around and become a solar powerhouse in the next few years. Increasing power demand, increasing fossil fuel prices, an ambition national solar plan (the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission), solar incentives offered by states, renewable and solar energy quotas, and quickly falling solar costs are likely to drive the India solar market to over 9,000 megawatts (or 9 gigawatts) by 2016.

For more info, check out the link above or A Tale of Two Markets: How National and State Incentives Are Spurring Solar in India.

Image via GTM Research

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Orchard Hardware Customers Offered Solar Power

Posted: 07 Nov 2011 04:59 AM PST

orchard hardware solar

Quick News: If you’re a resident of California, you’ve probably heard of Orchard Hardware — it has 89 hardware and garden retail stores across the state. News is, Orchard Hardware has now teamed up with SunPower to encourage more people to go solar. The “high efficiency solar power systems” are being offered “via information displays at Orchard Supply Hardware’s California stores and at”

Basically, the displays describe the technology a bit and tell people about the installation process, as well as providing info on local SunPower dealers and SunPower’s solar leasing and loan options.

If you’re an Orchard Hardware or SunPower customer and have something to share on this news, drop us a note! If you think this is good news worth sharing, check out the buttons at the top and see what happens when you click them.

Orchard Hardware sign in Sunnyvale, California via jimg944

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Texas Ranchers Battle New Enemy: Coal

Posted: 07 Nov 2011 04:37 AM PST

texans organize against new coal power plantsCoal is the new face of conflict for Texas ranchers. In that drought-stricken state, the water-sucking propensities of coal fired power plants are replacing any enemy Hollywood could ever dream of – even the dreaded fence-erecting farmer. The Boston Globe is reporting that ranchers, along with shrimpers, rice farmers and residents concerned about dwindling water resources, are rising up in organized opposition to new coal fired power plants. As a movement, that’s quite a turnaround for an apparently conservative state, so let’s pick that apart and see what’s going on.

Wind Power an Alternative to Coal in Texas

The most important factor is that Texans have a clear alternative sitting, literally, right in their backyards. Texas is an ideal state for wind power and coal is not the only fuel being pushed out of Texas by the force of wind (ha ha sorry, couldn’t resist); the water-dependent nuclear industry is also starting to back out of plans for new construction in the state. With wind power already relatively cheap and due to be even cheaper thanks to government-supported research, it’s not a stretch to oppose a new coal fired power plant in one’s neighborhood, regardless of whether or not abundant water is at hand. The water rich state of Washington, to cite one example, is closing its only coal fired power plant primarily due to public health concerns and the availability of alternatives.

Drought, Climate Change and Coal in Texas

Texas ranchers are also bearing the brunt of a historic drought. This is a climate change effect that experts have been predicting for years, and its impact on water supply will be exacerbated by a projected increase in population in the coming years. However, as Boston Globe reporter Ramit Plushnick-Masti points out, you can be a hard core climate change denialist and still organize against a new coal fired power plant in your community. He cites the example of a new plant under consideration that would impact water supplies for nearby oyster and shrimp nurseries, as well as a number of large ranches, bringing out opposition from the local Chamber of Commerce among others.

Community Pride and Wind Power

Added to the mix is the fact that Texas imports most of its coal, and you can eventually hand a win to the ranchers. Texas certainly does not have a monopoly on home-state pride but it does have a reputation for being outsized in everything, and wind power has a long and iconic history in the state dating back to its inception.  Home-state energy independence could emerge as a powerful public relations weapon on the side of organized opposition to new coal plants. As a counterargument the coal industry touts jobs at coal fired power plants, but wind power projects like the Farmers City Wind Power Project in Missouri demonstrate that jobs and local economic development can just as easily follow wind as coal, so that argument just doesn’t hold water (sorry!!!).

Image Credit: Wind power in Texas, some rights reserved by CopperCatStudios.

Twitter: @TinaMCasey

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Stamford Connecticut Switches to LED Streetlights

Posted: 07 Nov 2011 02:11 AM PST


City of Stamford LED streetlights

In a move to help curb costs and expand sustainability efforts, the city of Stamford Connecticut is switching to energy-efficient LED streetlights. The move will save the municipality more than $146,000 annually.

To help jump-start the initiative, the city was awarded an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant, an initiative funding energy efficiency and conservation programs across the country.

The grant funded the replacement of more than 1,000 high-pressure sodium-based streetlights with GE's Evolve LED Roadway Medium Cobrahead (ERMC) fixtures

"We looked at several manufacturers and thought the GE Cobrahead lights offered the best quality in terms of color temperature (4300 K), CRI, lighting uniformity and reduced glare." says Nancy Pipicelli, energy & utility manager for the City of Stamford.

The lights consume 95-157 watts per fixture, less than half that of consumed wattage under the previous high-pressure sodium vapor systems and have an estimated service life of more than 10 years.

Stamford will also receive a $357,000 rebate from Connecticut Light and Power, an electrical provider for the state of Connecticut. The city plans to use these funds to install an additional 467 energy-efficient streetlights using the LED technology next year.

Photo: General Electric

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Pedaling Protesters Get Power from Bike

Posted: 07 Nov 2011 02:03 AM PST

OK, one more Gas2 share for the day. Not sure if this should be filed under transportation or not, though (I’m thinking not). Basically, it’s all about power from bikes,.. or power from humans,.. or power for more humans,.. or something like that…

(Occupy Wall Street protesters in Zuccotti Park getting electricity from bikes.)

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Electrically Assisted Pedal Boat (VIDEO)

Posted: 07 Nov 2011 01:55 AM PST

How about another fun clean transportation story to start the week? Gas2 has one on an electrically assisted pedal boat worth a look (got me excited):

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Air Power Bike from O2

Posted: 07 Nov 2011 01:48 AM PST

I have to admit, I’m growing fond of little, alternative-fuel bikes. I’ve always been a fan of human-powered bikes, but I think these innovative alternatives have a place in the world, too. Here’s a story on sister site Gas2 on a new one:

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