Friday, November 11, 2011

Latest from: CleanTechnica

Latest from: CleanTechnica

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Solar Mosaic Follow-Up

Posted: 11 Nov 2011 01:30 PM PST

community solar buying program

Following up on a popular post one week ago, on Solar Mosaic’s unique community solar program, we shot the folks there some more questions asking for more details on a few things. Aside from a response in the comments of that post, I received the following email from a Solar Mosaic employee:

1. Building owners have the option to buy the installation once the initial lease ends. In most cases, this is 20 years. Although, depending on the project, it could be less. The expected lifespan of the installations is 25 to 40 years. Solar Mosaic is responsible for maintaining and insuring the system and allows for community centers (schools, churches, non-profits) to take advantage of federal incentives that are, unfortunately, written in a way that makes it very difficult for them to do so on their own.

2. The pay-offs for building owners are lower electricity costs (not insignificant over the installation’s lifetime), supporting clean energy, stepping up as community leaders, and by crowdfunding projects it allows them to engage their supporters and beyond.

We also know that Community Solar is much more than the projects we do, and is why we love seeing successful models like Solar Schools, community solar gardens, and other models popping. Most of us at Mosaic have come from a clean energy community organizing mold. To help build the movement, we are currently organizing a Community Solar Day on November 20th. We are encouraging everyone that can not go solar with us to organize an event, educate their peers, and find ways to go solar in their own communities. As part of Community Solar Day, we have created a tool kit to help anyone navigate the barriers of going solar. Signing up for a meet-up will keep you in touch with our developments and help inspire others to join the movement.

If you have any questions, ideas, or thoughts please don’t hesitate to follow up with us.

Back to comments from Zach: We’ve written about the Community Solar Day, as well. If you want to learn more, the folks there seem eager to answer questions, and Lisa left her email in the comment she left on the initial post: lisa@solarmosaic.com. If you’re really into Solar Mosaic’s model, you might want to “Like” and “Follow” them on Facebook and Twitter, and you can always share our posts on them :D .

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Green Your Route Travel App Wins EPA Innovation Award

Posted: 11 Nov 2011 01:12 PM PST

Top “Be an Energy Star” Videos Chosen (Video)

Posted: 11 Nov 2011 01:03 PM PST

California Now Has 1 Gigawatt of Solar Power Installed

Posted: 11 Nov 2011 12:27 PM PST

solar power california

Joining the ranks of 5 countries other than the U.S. that have hit the 1 gigawatt solar milestone (Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan, and the Czech Republic), California has now installed its 1st gigawatt (or 1,000th megawatt) of rooftop solar installed.

To put that into perspective, 1GW of solar can power up to 750,000 homes and is equal to about 2 coal-fired power plants.

“California can become the Saudi Arabia of the sun if it continues to get behind big, successful solar programs,” said Michelle Kinman of Environment California and co-author of “Building a Brighter Future: California’s Progress Toward a Million Solar Roofs.”

The California Solar Initiative was reported as a key driver of growth, helping to bring 600 megawatts online. And falling solar prices combined with solar leases for as little as $0 down have been a tremendous growth driver as well.

205 MW of the 1,000 MW installed were installed in 2011, despite the sagging economy.

Source: San Jose Mercury News
California Solar Panels via Walmart Stores

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New Canadian Wind Farm Completed

Posted: 11 Nov 2011 10:31 AM PST

Renewable Energy Systems Canada have completed their second Canadian wind energy project, The Greenwich Wind Energy Project, on the northern shore of Lake Superior in Ontario.

The completed wind farm will provide approximately 300,000 megawatt-hours of energy, which equates to the annual consumption of 33,000 households in the region. A project in a limited parthership that is jointly owned by Enbridge and RES Canada, and in which Enbridge has a majority interest, the wind farm consists of 43 Siemens SWT-2.3-101MW wind turbines totalling an overall capacity to generate 99 megawatts.

“The project has been well received by the community and, without their support and the positive efficiency of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, it would not have been as successful,” said Andrew Fowler, Chief Operating Officer of RES Canada. “While the Canadian Shield geology posed some construction challenges, RES Canada, Siemens, and the sub-contractors worked together to ensure we delivered a quality project on budget and ahead of schedule."

“We are pleased that the Greenwich project created positive economic benefits and a significant number of jobs in the region during its construction,” said Peter Clibbon, Vice President of RES Canada. “Enbridge has been a reliable and strong partner and we look forward to working with them in the future.”

“We’re delighted to again partner with RES Canada through this project, which has been constructed safely, ahead of schedule, on budget, and with safety top of mind,” said Don Thompson, Enbridge’s Vice President, Green Energy. “Our investments in renewable energy align well with our objective to profitably grow our energy infrastructure business and to deliver superior returns to shareholders. With the Greenwich Wind Energy Project, we now have interests in eight wind energy projects – three of which are in Ontario, and three solar energy projects – all of which are in Ontario.”

The project will see Siemens providing operations and maintenance services for the wind turbines for the next five years, at least, and the energy generated will be delivered to the Ontario Power Authority.

According to RES, the total carbon dioxide savings of the project will amount to 106, 000 tonnes per year.

Source: Renewable Energy Systems Canada
Image Source: Courtesy of RES Canada

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Solar Costs Can Only Go Down

Posted: 11 Nov 2011 10:16 AM PST

solar cell costs going down

Solar costs have fallen rapidly in recent years, as I’ve mentioned more times than I can count. And it seems they can only continue going down. Why? Because there’s a tremendous supply glut of polysilicon, a key ingredient for most solar panels (accounting for about 25% of their final cost). The price of polysilicon has dropped 93% in the past 3 years (from $475/kilogram to $33/kilogram).

The supply glut is the result of the top 5 polysilicon producers nearly doubling their output. And, the trend is continuing. In 2011, they produced 20% more polysilicon than was demanded. In 2012, they are expected to produce 28% more than demand.

"Polysilicon is a grossly, grossly, grossly oversupplied commodity product," said Paul Leming, director of research at Ticonderoga Securities in New York. "We're staring at years of stability where polysilicon pricing sits at something approaching cost of production and doesn't move."

The solar photovoltaic industry accounts for about 90% of polysilicon demand, while most computer chips also require it.

For the solar industry, this means that prices all through the supply chain have dropped and several solar companies are going bust or on the verge of going bust. (For computer chips, it doesn’t have as much impact, as it only account for about 5% of their cost.)

"Two-thirds of the existing 66 polysilicon producers could fall victim to the shakeout that has just started," analysts at Macquarie Group Ltd. wrote this week. "The total number of Chinese polysilicon producers could fall to as little as four over the next three years, down from 35 known to us today."

The projection by some analysts is that the price will drop a bit further (to $20 or $25 per kilogram) and then will stabilize there after a “shake-out” in the supply industry. They will then hold stable for a couple years.

The main cause of the glut: a fast increase in demand for solar panels due to helpful governmental policies, followed by a relatively quick drop in demand as those policies were cut and other countries didn’t follow suit. With factories already being built or expanded to supply a lot more polysilicon, the supply continues to rise while demand isn’t keeping up.

Source: Bloomberg
Photo: PNNL – Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

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International Energy Agency: 5 Years to Change or Be Changed

Posted: 11 Nov 2011 08:25 AM PST

us fossil fuel use rose 2010

U.S. fossil fuel use rose in 2010. This is the U.S. energy split in 2010.

Climate scientists have warned us (for decades). Some politicians have warned us. Military reports have warned us. And citizens of the world have certainly warned now. Now, the International Energy Agency (IEA) is warning us: if we don’t make a massive switch to clean energy in the next few years (5 years according to the IEA), climate change is going to wreck us.

Now, an important thing to remember is that avoiding the catastrophes of climate change is not like meeting a legislative or business deadline. It’s not like stopping the car before driving into the wall. It’s more like this: we’ve driven the car into the biggest hurricane the world has ever seen, and now we need to get out of it, rather than keeping driving towards the center of destruction. Climate-related disasters are already costing us billions upon billions of dollars. but, back to the IEA….

“[R]ising fossil energy use will lead to irreversible and potentially catastrophic climate change” if current trends continue, the IEA concluded in its annual World Energy Outlook report.

“The door to 2.0 C is closing.” OK, there is a sort of wall climate scientists have come up with to help humanity get to work planning and averting serious disaster. That wall is 2.0 C degrees of warming. We’re at 1.0 C degrees of warming now, compared to the last century, because of rising CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions.

The IEA finds that without tremendous change, we will hit 2.0 C in 2017.

“As each year passes without clear signals to drive investment in clean energy, the ‘lock-in’ of high-carbon infrastructure is making it harder and more expensive to meet our energy security and climate goals,” said IEA chief economist Fatih Birol.

The bad news: if we take into account current government commitments to change energy policy in order to avoid climate change, a 3.5 C increase in the global average temperatures in the next 25 years. That is, basically, equal to massive catastrophes around the world, natural disasters and basic life service collapses like humans have never seen. And that means that not only do countries who have committed to strong climate action need to realize their goals, but many more countries (ahem, the U.S.) need to get on board or increase their commitments.

And, if we just carried on with “business as usual,” the projection is actually 6 C degrees of warming. To put it bluntly, good luck to your children surviving that! As the AFP summarizes: ”Scientists who have modelled the impacts on biodiversity, agriculture and human settlement say a 6 C world would be close to unlivable due to violent extremes of drought, flooding, heatwaves and storms.”

The 2011 World Energy Outlook ”shows that the world is heading for a fossil-fuel lock-in. This is another urgent call to move to a low-carbon economy,”  Connie Hedegaard, the European Union’s climate commissioner, notes. “One wonders how many more worrying figures the world needs.”

This is why I’m in the job I’m in today. While it’s clearly a global problem and others need to do their part, the important thing for us is that we do our part (individually and nationally).

Image Source: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

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Minnesota Biofuels Get Boost

Posted: 11 Nov 2011 07:55 AM PST

biofuels minnesota

Following hot of the heels of recent wind energy and energy efficiency announcements in the Gopher state, the biofuels industry received some good news recently.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced national funding of US$44.6 million to 156 businesses and producers on advanced biofuel projects. In order to qualify for the funding, producers must be working on non corn-based biofuels. Examples include: vegetable oil, bio gas (sewage and landfill waste), food & yard waste, and cellulosic fuels.

"Just as importantly, USDA’s support will help to further develop the nation’s growing biofuels industry and generate green jobs and economic growth," said US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on the announcement.

Six Minnesota companies won funding from the USDA totalling around US$2.55 million. Cargill, one of the world’s largest agricultural companies received US$1.27 million towards biodiesel, along with Minnesota Soybean Processors (US$1.165 million), and Ever Cat Fuels (US$70,583).

Cargill, recently said they have cut 11% of their green house gas emissions (GHG), almost double the amount that they pledged to decrease with the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX) of 6%, with part of it due to its support of biofuels. Evercat Fuels has had success with creating fuel from soy and canola crops.

With average wages from US$49,200-US$55,400, the USDA announcement helps solidify the biofuels industry in a state that has 21 ethanol and 5 biodiesel plants.

The funding also moves Minnesota as a strong clean tech state in the mid-western US and could give some lessons to its Canadian provincial prairie counterparts (hello Manitoba) on how to do clean tech right.

Photo Credit: GSankary

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London: Home of 1st Electric Vehicle Wireless Charging Trial

Posted: 11 Nov 2011 04:04 AM PST

Pushing the introduction of electric cars was always going to require easier methods of charging, and a new trial initiated by Qualcomm Incorporated will make London the home of the first Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging (WEVC) trial.

The pre-commercial trial is expected to start early 2012 and will see Qualcomm collaborating with the UK Government, the Mayor of London's office, and Transport for London to bring as many as 50 electric vehicles to the trial.

The trial will use Qualcomm wireless inductive power transfer technology that, according to Qualcomm, "enables high-efficiency power transfer across a large air gap."

"It is very easy to use: the driver simply parks the vehicle in the usual way and the system automatically aligns for power transfer, making parking easier and charging hassle free."

"This wireless charging technology is a giant leap forward for the electric car industry and I am delighted that London businesses will be among the first to benefit from the trial," said British Prime Minister David Cameron. "Creative, high-tech advances such as this are extremely important as we work to rebalance our economy, and the decision to trial this at Tech City shows confidence in the UK as an ideal place for innovation and investment."

"This trial is a great example of how vehicle recharging could work in the future. This private sector investment shows how innovative solutions will help ensure electric cars are a real option for motorists," said Justine Greening, secretary of state for transport. "This project supplements the £30 million Government fund to kick-start installation of recharging points in eight areas across the country."

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said, "In my quest to deliver cleaner air for the capital, I want London to be the electric car epicenter of Europe. Encouraging a massive uptake in electric driving is key to this vision of becoming a zero-emission city. We are already on this path with Transport for London delivering a citywide charging network, but we need to go further. This trial is an innovative new facet of my plans, with the promise to help drivers go electric with even greater confidence."

The trial is going to see itself take place primarily in Tech City, in East London, in an attempt to make the most of the entrepreneurial mindset of the region, and will be overseen by representatives from Transport for London, the Mayor's office, and central Government. The trial is open to any and all companies that wish to participate; companies should register their interest at www.wevc.com.

Source: Qualcomm
Image Source: Frank Hebbert

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Solar LED Runway Light Wins Future Airport Award

Posted: 11 Nov 2011 04:04 AM PST

Solar LED Airport Runway Light

QUICK NEWS: The Solar LED Runway Guard Light, the result of a joint development project between Caramanah Technologies Corp and ADB Airfield Solutions, has been named Airport Technology of the Year by the Future Airport, a publication from Global Trade Media International.

The combination of cost efficiency and significant carbon emission reductions earned the product the award. The panel of judges went on to say the “runway light is an excellent choice for airfields in remote locations or where access to grid power could be difficult or expensive.”

Carmanah Technologies CEO, Bruce Cousins stated the recognition “reaffirms the capabilities and applicability of solar powered aviation lights for modern airfields everywhere."

Picture: Caramanah Technologies

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