Saturday, November 12, 2011

Latest from: CleanTechnica

Latest from: CleanTechnica

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Solar Skyscrapers are Nearly Here

Posted: 12 Nov 2011 02:06 PM PST


Solar Skyscraper - Photovoltaic Glass

Living skyscrapers? Not quite. While organic solar cells are one of several types of photovoltaics currently being explored, Scientific American reports that work is being done that could lead to windows acting as solar panels, by using a compound very similar to chlorophyll.

Chlorophyll, as we all remember from elementary school, is the green chemical in leaves that turns water and carbon dioxide to oxygen and glucose with the use of sunlight (through a horrible cycle learned once in bio class and then forgotten forever). A chemist by the name of Michael Graetzel of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology thinks he can use it to build a better solar cell.

Highly Efficient? You Could Say That

The current cell Graetzel's team has working has 12% efficiency – while this may not seem particularly high compared to some of the numbers CleanTechnica readers are used to seeing, the fact that the cells are a step toward photovoltaic glass is pretty impressive. The team even thinks they may be able to tweak the dyes in use now to include infrared light and get up to 15% efficiency. This is without mentioning that if a window is producing electricity in addition to being a perfectly good window, it’s pretty darn impressive no matter what the conversion efficiency is.

Graetzel's team is pretty excited about the possibilities, according to an email sent to Scientific American:

"[The] key benefits are light weight and flexibility as well as transparency and multicolor options for building-integrated photovoltaic glass panels. The new cells will be produced ultimately at significantly lower cost than conventional devices."

Low-Light-Specific Photovoltaics

Another neat point is that these solar cells perform better when the light is less bright. When the weather is cloudy, or they're not in direct light, the conversion level would be comparatively high. This characteristic would be particularly useful for photovoltaic glass, particularly on lower floors of a building in, say, downtown Chicago. Michael McGehee of Stanford University explains:

"They may not do as well at noon, but they can perform better earlier and later in the day. For that reason, the gap in performance isn't as large as it may seem."

I know many Americans think solar power is great — but how about solar windows?  Let us know what you think in the comments, below.

Source: Scientific American via Climate Denial Crock of the Week | Image: Wikimedia Commons

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  3. Solar Thermal Panels, Practical but Not Yet Popular – A Solar Overview

Amory Lovins Nails Renewable Energy Costs, Energy Subsidies, & Myth of Baseload

Posted: 12 Nov 2011 08:52 AM PST

Below is a wonderful video of Amory Lovins explaining the energy subsidy inequality (favoring fossil fuels) in the U.S. today, renewable energy costs, and the myths of baseload power. But first, Peter Sinclair’s apt comments on the interview, which doesn’t only include Lovins:

The video above from Bloomberg shows the best and worst of energy/economics communications.

First you've got a next-quarter obsessed wall street wonk, incapable of stepping out of market-speak, or group-think, even for a microsecond. Then you've got a time pressed journalist who allows an outrageous unsupported talking point to go by unanswered at the end, as time runs out. (if time is short, cut to the chase at 7:25)

Fortunately, Amory Lovins uploaded a correction to the misinformation the same day, which I've spliced in at the end.

Thanks, Peter!

Related posts:

  1. Answer to an Amory Lovins Disciple Who Believes in Conservation, Solar, Wind and Micropower
  2. Early Fossil Fuel & Nuclear Energy Subsidies Crush Early Renewable Energy Subsidies
  3. Fossil Fuels Get Tons More in Subsidies than Renewable Energy

South Korea to Build World’s Largest Offshore Wind Farm, Domestic Wind Power Industry

Posted: 12 Nov 2011 07:19 AM PST

Photo courtesy of Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering; Recharge News

Despite relying on imported sources for 97% of its energy needs, South Korea’s been slow to tap into and develop its wind power resources. That appears to be changing. The South Korean government announced that it will invest 10.2 trillion won (US$9 billion) in building a 2.5 gigawatt (GW) offshore wind farm, the largest in the world.

Located offshore of South Korea’s southwestern coast, the offshore wind farm will be built in three phases by South Korean companies led by Korea Electric Power, the country’s largest electric utility. The first is a 100 megawatt demonstration phase to be completed by 2014. Wind turbines with capacities ranging from 3 MW to 7 MW will be erected mainly off the coast of Jeollabukdo and Jeollanamdo provinces in three stages at a projected cost of 400 billion won (~US$353 million).

A second 400 MW phase is scheduled for completion in 2016 at a cost of 1.6 trillion billion won (US$~US$1.4 billion), according to a Bloomberg BusinessWeek report.

Joining Korea Electric in the consortium of companies building the offshore wind farm are eight suppliers, including Doosan Heavy Industries and Construction Co., Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co., and Hyundai Heavy Industries Co.

"South Korea is a latecomer to wind energy and is coming in at a very difficult time for the industry, where severe competition and falling turbine prices are squeezing the profits of the entire supply chain," Bloomberg New Energy Finance lead wind analyst Justin Woo commented.

"Offshore wind is probably the best entry point for Korean companies into this sector, given their extensive shipbuilding and marine engineering experience as well as the country's excellent offshore wind resources."

South Korea & Clean Energy

Accounting for less than 3% of South Korea’s energy supply as of 2009, the proportion of renewable energy used is forecast to rise to nearly 4% in 2013, around 6% by 2020 and 13% by 2020.

Having signed and approved the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) Kyoto Protocol, South Korea has pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) by 30% below a business-as-usual baseline scenario by 2030.

An emissions trading scheme (ETS) has been operating in a trial phase since January 2010, with a mandatory ETS scheduled to begin in 2015. As per the ETS, companies that produce more than 25,000 metric tons of carbon emissions per year will be required to set energy saving and greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets.

Announced in October 2010, the country’s “Green Power” project is investing in building 10 renewable energy projects, including installation of solar panels and wind turbines, at electric utilities and power stations.

The South Korean government is becoming increasingly proactive in terms of spurring development of clean and renewable energy.

Other clean energy initiatives include feed-in tariffs for renewable energy, subsidies of up to 80% for installing certain types of renewable energy systems, and long term, low interest loans to operate and manage them.

South Korean Wind Power

Korea’s completed its first wind farm in June, a 9-turbine wind farm with a nameplate capacity of 22 MW, enough to supply clean, renewable power to some 12,000 households and avoid some 3,000 metric tons of carbon emissions per year. Another 30 MW of capacity is expected to be added to the government-sponsored wind farm project, which sits on unused land at a thermal power (coal) site at Yeongheung.

The 2.5-GW wind power project is viewed as a major stepping stone by the South Korean government and industry as the country aims to develop a wind power industry that “by 2015 is expected to become one of the country's flagship industries along with semiconductors and shipbuilding.”

Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) entered the wind power industry with the purchase of US wind turbine manufacturer DeWind from Composite Technology Corp. in 2009.

Earlier this month, the company said it was thinking about buying German wind turbine manufacturer Bard.

A little over a year ago, management stated that it’s looking for wind power industry sales to produce 30% of its total sales by 2020.

For more on recent developments in the offshore and broader wind power industry, see:

- Wind Energy & Wind Turbine Market Booming Globally
- Deepwater Wind to Begin Construction on 30-Megawatt U.S. Offshore Wind Farm by 2014
- Blackstone Private Equity Firm Invests in German Offshore Wind…In a Big Way

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Cleantech Continues to Rise as an Emerging Global Industry: Report

Posted: 12 Nov 2011 05:34 AM PST


cleantech rising

Grant Thornton, known more for accounting and taxation rather than environmental lobbying, recently came out with a report illustrating cleantech as an emerging industry in the globalized 21st century.

"If you are leading a cleantech business today, you may well be in the right place at the right time," said the report.

The 24-page report looked at three major themes, which included: government policy towards clean tech’s long-term goals of sustainable energy, the differences between government policy and implementation of policy, and how commercial leaders can be more aware of government policy and subsidies without relying consistently on government funding for the health of the industry.

Examples that highlighted each of these themes were Germany’s well-known promotion of long-term sustainable energy through subsidies and feed-in tariff’s, while recent financial constraints in Germany have also slowed some growth in the solar sector, the report said. Dow Chemical’s POWERHOUSE Photovoltaic solar shingles, which are expected to bring in US$1 billion in revenue by 2015, were one of the highlights in the report, which emphasized businesses understanding the regulatory environment without constant government subsidies.

While the report focused on the three major themes above, one aspect that was key throughout the analysis was the emphasis that cleantech is a global industry not dominated by a single country. With the report mentioning global Initial Public Offerings (IPO) reaching US$1.1 billion in clean technology between 2009-2010, the United States, while important, is not calling the complete shots in this very young and promising sector. "Cleantech is not developing according to a US centric paradigm," said the report.

Some of the countries include: Israel, which has invested US$300 million in clean tech since 2009 in oil-reducing technologies such as solar heating and electric vehicles; India, which is looking to reach grid parity between solar energy and fossil fuel energy by 2022 and cost parity by 2032; and China, whose goal by 2015 is to have around 11.4% of its energy mix come from non-fossil fuels.

The overall report from Grant Thornton on cleantech’s exceptional potential as a truly 21st-century globalized industry comes after concerning news by the International Energy Association that countries will have to get their energy act together in five years or risk serious dramatic climate effects on the planet.

Wind turbines photo modified from image by nualabugeye on flickr

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