Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Latest from: CleanTechnica

Latest from: CleanTechnica

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Canada Boosting Hydro Power to 88.5 GW to Replace US Coal

Posted: 16 Nov 2011 07:42 PM PST


Canada’s hydropower industry has plans to invest up to $70 billion on hydro-electric projects across the country in the next 10 to 15 years, increasing its hydro-electric resources – to a truly staggering 88,500 MW.

Most of the additional projects are in provinces with abundant precipitation that is likely to increase in a warming future, making them ideal for hydropower. Hydro-electric power is much cleaner in cold climates than in warm ones, because methane emissions that are caused by rotting vegetation are lower in colder climates. Quebec is building another 4,570 MW, British Columbia: 3,341 MW, Labrador: 3,074 MW and Manitoba: 2,380 MW.

Hydro is a good partner with the increasing amounts of renewable power being added to the grid. Because hydro can be turned on and off almost instantaneously, it is an ideal partner with solar and wind, “filling in the gaps from intermittent sources,” says Jacob Irving, head of the Canadian Hydropower Association.

Much of the new clean power is for exporting to the US – at least initially. “Each terawatt hour of hydro exported to the United States largely replaces fossil fuel generation,” says Irving. In Canada, only 19% of power comes from coal, so exporting it to the dirtier US grid will have more effect on global greenhouse gas emissions. Current hydropower exports to the US already reduce continental greenhouse gas emissions by at least half a million tons annually, he says.

The argument for increasing hydro-electricity imports from the colder and wetter North is compelling, given that each year 600 coal-fired generating plants in the US burn nearly a billion tons of coal. While nationwide, coal provides 45% of US electricity, this is heavily skewed by just eight states that are heavily dependent, getting between 85% and 98% of their electricity from coal – North Dakota, Indiana, Ohio, Missouri, West Virginia, Kentucky, Wyoming and Utah.

The exciting results of some timely research funded by the Department of Energy into a more environmentally friendly turbine for hydro-electricity comes at a time when hydro-electricity is getting a fresh look, and the EPA is beginning the process of retiring the oldest and dirtiest coal power stations on the grid.

Image: David Nunuk Pew Environment Group

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10 Cleantech Projects

Posted: 16 Nov 2011 10:00 AM PST


wind turbines scotland

There are so many cleantech projects, business stories, policy stories, scientific advancements, and original pieces I want to write that I can never get to the majority of them. Here’s a quick round-up of some recent cleantech project announcements:

  1. IKEA is adding solar to 3 more U.S. stores. Nearly 10,000 solar panels will be installed at these 3 locations. With these 3 stores going solar, more than half of IKEA’s U.S. stores will be at least partially solar-power.
  2. ECOtality recently installed the first Direct Current (DC) Fast Charger in Tennessee, at a Cracker Barrel. “This is the first of 12 Cracker Barrel locations statewide that will install DC Fast Chargers as a part of The EV Project. The stations are able to charge a battery to 80 percent capacity in under 30 minutes—the fastest charge rate currently available.”
  3. In Scotland, the Crown Estate recently awarded seabed lease agreements to 5 offshore wind projects that could support up to 5 gigawatts (yes, gigawatts) of new capacity. Remember that Scotland has just about the most ambitious clean energy plan in the world — 100% clean, renewable energy by 2025.
  4. China now has plans, or is creating plans, to “invest nearly $500 billion in electric power infrastructure — including roughly $90 billion in smart grid technologies — by 2020, a strategy experts say could significantly improve the nation's energy efficiency and cement a dominant position in the smart grid market.”
  5. Apple is planning a solar farm near its data center in Maiden, NC. “Permits issued by Catawba County show that the Cupertino, Calif., company has been approved to reshape the slope of some of the 171 acres of vacant land it owns on Startown Road, opposite the data center, in preparation of building a solar farm.” Currently, Apple has facilities in Austin, Texas; Sacramento, California; and Cork, Ireland that are 100% powered with renewable energy.
  6. SunEdison & Staples hit a big production milestone this month — “more than 30 million kilowatt-hours of energy produced through solar installations on Staples’ properties, which is enough to power 1,800 average U.S. homes for one year.” SunEdison has developed solar installation for 33 Staples stores in the U.S. now.
  7. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are evaluating the feasibility of developing renewable energy production on Superfund, brownfields, and former landfill or mining sites.” Projects being evaluated include wind, solar, biomass, and geothermal projects for 26 sites in 20 states. So far, over 20 renewable energy projects have been built on “contaminated” sites in the U.S. or are being built on such sites.
  8. In New Mexico, a new 50-MW wind farm is now online — the Macho Springs Wind Farm in Deming, New Mexico. The wind farm will create enough renewable power for 14,000 local homes. The project includes 28 Vestas V100-1.8 MW wind turbines put up on ranchland. It is the first dedicated source of wind power for Tucson Electric Power (TEP).
  9. Saudi Arabia’s first solar power plant, a 500-kilowatt plant on Farasan Island, was inaugurated recently.
  10. Argentina’s largest wind power plant was inaugurated last month by Argentina's President, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, “marking the completion of the first phase of the 77 MW Rawson Wind Power Plant I & II now installed.” The President of Emgasud, Alejandro Ivanissevich, stressed at the event that Argentina could have 5,000 MW of wind power installed by 2020. Regarding this project and Argentina’s wind power today, Vestas noted: “Once the 43 V90-1.8 MW turbines will be up and running in the beginning of 2012, the annual production of 320 GWh per year will correspond to the annual residential electricity consumption of 150,000 households in Argentina.”

Pretty inspirational to look at all these cleantech projects going up around the world, many of them firsts for a country or region or setting significant milestones and records.

Wind turbine photo by marcusjroberts

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World-Leading Smart Grid Demo on Maui Island, Hawaii

Posted: 16 Nov 2011 08:00 AM PST


maui island clean energy

Hawaii is a clean energy leader, and it is now looking to more efficiently use that clean energy with the development of a world-leading smart grid demonstration project on Maui Island, Hawaii.

The project, a project of the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), is based on the Japan-U.S. Clean Energy Technologies Action Plan.

Specific objectives of the project include: “to establish a system model for the integration of clean energy and to verify cutting-edge technologies in a smart grid system on Maui where a high percentage of renewable energy is already in place” and to contribute to “standardization of a low-carbon social infrastructure system deployment to other islands and semitropical regions all over the world.”

And specific targets are as follows:

  1. “Advanced load shift” for maximum utilization of renewable energy
  2. “Direct control” of home electric appliances and PV generation output control by smart PCS to withstand rapid changes in power supply and demand
  3. “EV/PHEV management system” coordinated with the grid management system for the impact of EV/PHEV high penetration
  4. “Cyber security” to improve safe operation of the system
  5. “Autonomous control architecture” for system scalability and highly responsive energy control
  6. Evolution of community and infrastructure based on the integrated control system of EV/PHEV management system and the grid management system using the latest information and communication and control technology to improve quality of life
  7. Evaluation of the efficiency of demonstration systems developed for the Project. Establish business models and assessment tools for remote island social infrastructure systems based on the project results

The project is supposed to be finished in March 2014, and contractors selected for the project include: Hitachi, Ltd., Cyber Defence Institute, Inc. (“Cyber Defence Institute”), and Mizuho Corporate Bank, Ltd. (“Mizuho Corporate Bank”).

Interesting project.

Wind turbines on Maui Island by peachygreen

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Airborne Wind Turbine Could Revolutionize Wind Power

Posted: 16 Nov 2011 07:41 AM PST

Could this airborne wind turbine generate steady, cheap wind energy?

Flying a kite has often been considered child's play, but a group of inventors think the concept could be used to make wind energy cheaper and more reliable than ever before, potentially revolutionizing wind power forever.

energyNOW! correspondent Josh Zepps met the innovators working to turn the idea of flying a kite into an airborne wind turbine that's lighter and more powerful than traditional wind turbines. The full video is available below:

The concept

If you've ever flown a kite, you're familiar with the strength and consistency of wind hundreds of feet off the ground, higher up than most land-based wind turbines. What if that same concept could be applied to harness wind power – could it help solve the intermittency, siting, and cost problems that have put a damper on wind energy?

Enter the Makani Airborne Wind Turbine, an innovative design that combines the concept of kite surfing with wind turbines. Its goal is to achieve the same motion of a turbine without the structure itself. "The difference between a wind turbine and what we're doing is we have a wing that is free-flying and tethered to the ground," said Corwin Hardham, Makani CEO. "You have this kite flying the same pattern as wind turbine blade, but up higher in the sky."

The technology

The secret to the air turbine design lies in using a fraction of the material necessary for a standard wind turbine. A conventional 1-megawatt wind turbine can weigh more than 100 tons, but Makani's airborne turbine only uses a carbon-fiber wing and lightweight rotors of their own creation. The company says its 1-megawatt airborne turbine system will weigh a tenth as much and have an installed price half a normal turbine, but with the same rated power. "We expect the cost to be around 3 cents a kilowatt-hour," said Hardham. "That's getting lower than a lot of coal-fired generation at the moment."

Imagine a fleet of 26-feet wide, motorized fixed-wing gliders tracing circles in the air at 150 miles per hour, sending a constant stream of electricity to the grid via the tether connecting them to the ground. The wing's rotors function as both propeller and generator: when the wing launches, it uses backup or stored power to reach its cruising altitude. At about 1,000 feet high, they switch to creating resistance against the high-altitude winds and generate electricity the same way an electric vehicle generates power from its brakes.

But what about when the wind doesn't blow? The wings can stay aloft using steady breezes or their own power, but once the wind speed drops below nine miles an hour, they become net consumers of electricity, and would be landed if periods of low wind speed are forecast. Makani says the system will generate power twice as consistently as the best wind farms operating today. "The wind is about twice as powerful at that altitude," says Hardham.

Future outlook

Makani's future seems bright. Their airborne turbine system won this year's Breakthrough Award in energy from Popular Mechanics, received a $3 million dollar grant from the Department of Energy's ARPA-E program, and $20 million in venture capital funding from Google.

But, like most energy start-ups, the airborne wind turbine will ultimately succeed or fail based on how much power it can generate. That's why Makani is developing a bigger turbine system to fly at 1,600 feet and produce enough electricity to power 600 homes. It plans to launch a prototype of the new design by 2013 and enter commercial production by 2015.

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Toyota to Unveil Concept Hybrids at Tokyo Motor Show

Posted: 16 Nov 2011 07:41 AM PST

The Tokyo Motor Show will be held from November 30 through to December 11 and Toyota Motor Corporation will be unveiling several concept cars at the show, including a Prius Plug-in Hybrid, a Fuell-cell vehicle, and a compact-class dedicated hybrid.

The company said that it is aiming "to make fresh proposals concerning the dream and joy of motor vehicles under the concept 'Fun to Drive, Again'."

Included in the six cars which Toyota will unveil at the show is the Aqua, or the Prius C as it will be labelled outside of Japan. A compact-class car with a suitably compact price-tag is said to offer a "groundbreaking" fuel efficiency of approximately 35 kilometres to the litre, according to the JC08 test cycle.

The Toyota Aqua to be Unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show

Toyota describes the car as providing "the joys of hybrid vehicle ownership, such as superior fuel efficiency, user friendliness and fun, to as many people as possible" in a body that, at less than four metres in length, "offers outstanding handling."

Five other cars will be shown off at the Tokyo Motor Show:


  • Toyota Fun-Vii (world premiere)

A concept vehicle that heralds a future where people, cars and society are linked.

 Toyota Fun-Vii to be Unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show


  • Compact Rear-Wheel-Drive Sports Vehicle (world premiere)

The prototype model of a compact rear-wheel-drive vehicle jointly developed by Fuji Heavy Industries and TMC.


  • Prius Plug-in Hybrid (Japan premiere)

The Prius Plug-in Hybrid, an environment-friendly vehicle that combines features from both pure-electric vehicles and gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles, is equipped with a new, high-capacity lithium-ion battery that can be charged from a household outlet. Able to operate as an electric vehicle on short trips and as a gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle on medium to long trips, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid can be used regardless of battery charge status or charging infrastructure availability.

Prius Plug-in Hybrid to be Unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show

With this vehicle, TMC aims to address environmental issues such as the reduction of fossil fuel consumption, CO2 emissions and atmospheric pollution. A production model is planned for launch by TMC in early 2012 with fuel economy exceeding 57 km/L*3 and an EV cruising range*4 (on fully charged battery) of 23.4 km, positioning the plug-in hybrid as a leading next-generation eco-car coming after gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles.


  • FCV-R (world premiere)

A practical sedan-type next-generation fuel-cell concept vehicle fueled by hydrogen, a promising source of CO2 emission-free energy that can be produced from a variety of sources and can be easily stored and transported. This concept model is a highly practical fuel-cell vehicle (FCV) that is planned for launch in about 2015.

Toyota FCV-R to be Unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show

With the fuel-cell unit located beneath the specially designed body, the vehicle can accommodate up to four passengers and boasts impressive luggage space. The fuel cell stack, consisting of a 70 MPa high-pressure hydrogen tank, has been improved to provide a cruising distance of approximately 700 km or more (under the JC08 test cycle; according to TMC).


  • FT-EV III (world premiere)

Electric vehicles (EVs), with zero CO2 emissions, are important future eco-cars that have promise to replace cars fueled by gasoline. The FT-EV III is an electric concept vehicle with an ultra-compact and lightweight package suitable for short-distance trips.

Toyota FT-EV III to be Unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show

TMC is developing EVs with the aim of launching a vehicle suitable for short-distance travel in 2012. Equipped with a lithium-ion battery, the FT-EV III achieves an estimated cruising range of 105 km on a fully charged battery.

If you're heading to the Tokyo Motor Show, or are simply in the area, make sure to head along to the nearby Mega Web where Toyota will be showing off their cars and allowing a special few test drives and hands on. If you're not able to make it though, stay tuned to the Tokyo Motor Show portal site where there'll be a heap of information available throughout the show.

Source: Toyota Motor Corporation

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Lonestar State Growing As A Solar Player But Much Work To Do: Report

Posted: 16 Nov 2011 07:40 AM PST

Solar Panels Near The Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas USA

Solar Panels Near The Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas USA

The state of Texas is steadily growing as a player in the solar power installation market, but much work has to be done, according to a new report.

Clean Edge, a cleantech think tank released a report titled The Texas Solar PV Market: Competitive Analysis where it ranked the state compared to five other different states (Arizona, California, Colorado, New Jersey, and New Mexico) in terms of competitiveness.

"Texas may be in the race, but its far from taking full advantage of its abundant solar resources and traditional energy industry expertise, managerial know how, research, infrastructure, and economic resources," said the report.

Texas ranked tenth in new solar installations in 2010 with 25 mega watts (MW), according to the report. That is far off the pace of the top five states in the US that include: California with 252 MW, New Jersey (132 MW), Nevada (65.3 MW), Arizona (58.5 MW), and Colorado (58.3 MW).

While the Lonestar state finished tenth in new installations, they finished dead last in four of the five major market and technology indicators in the report. Those indicators in the study included: total market value, venture capital, job creation, research and development (R&D), and policy landscape.

The report found that Texas new installation capacity in 2010 had a total new installation market value of US$128.6 million, or U$5.12 per capita last in this section. This is far off the pace of leading California who had total new installation market value of US$1.5 billion, or $41.84. Much of the new installation in Texas was driven by utilities, the report said.

Venture capital saw Texas do  better third with US$78 million, only behind Colorado with US$264 million, and California with US$4 billion. The report noted the importance of venture capital for growth in the solar industry saying " they are a clear indicator of state leadership and competitive economic advantage."

While Texas fared better in venture capital the state fared poorly in solar job creation with only .08 of the state employed in the solar energy sector and far behind other states compared, especially California (.30), Colorado (.29), and Arizona (.20).

In terms of solar R&D patents, Texas had per capita only 0.76%, last in this section. New Mexico per capita finished better, along with California. However, despite the poor showing in R&D patents, the report does see lots of potential for the Lonestar state thanks to its well known universities in the state including University of Texas, and Rice University.

Texas, also lacked many of the policy tools vital to spur growth in the industry, the report found. The state was the only state in the study that did not have solar rights provision or net metering. Texas as well does not have any loan programs ranging up to US$5 million for energy reducing technologies, which include solar PV’s.

The overall view of the Clean Edge report on Texas’s solar industry shows a lot of thing it can do better , while giving it hope to a state that can diversify away from fossil fuels and towards an industry that has grown 39.8% compounded annually since 2000 and worth US$71.2 billion at the end of 2010.

Photo Credit: Clickykbd, courtesy of Flickr

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Freeing Energy from the Grid

Posted: 16 Nov 2011 07:30 AM PST


carbon nanotechnology ted talk

This is a pretty fascinating video of Justin Hall-Tipping talking about the world’s greatest challenges — global warming, energy security, and water security– and nanotechnology’s potential for solving these. Below the video is more on Justin.

More on Justin from his TED author page:

Some of our most serious planetary worries revolve around energy and power — controlling it, paying for it, and the consequences of burning it. Justin Hall-Tipping had an epiphany about energy after seeing footage of a chunk of ice the size of his home state (Connecticut) falling off Antarctica into the ocean, and decided to focus on science to find new forms of energy. A longtime investor, he formed Nanoholdings to work closely with universities and labs who are studying new forms of nano-scale energy in the four sectors of the energy economy: generation, transmission, storage and conservation.

Nanotech as a field is still very young (the National Science Foundation says it’s “at a level of development similar to that of computer technology in the 1950s”) and nano-energy in particular holds tremendous promise.
He says: “For the first time in human history, we actually have the ability to pick up an atom and place it the way we want. Some very powerful things can happen when you can do that.”

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