Monday, January 16, 2012

Latest from: CleanTechnica

Latest from: CleanTechnica

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First $30 Million State RPS Program Awards to Boost Solar Energy in New York City, Lower Hudson Valley

Posted: 16 Jan 2012 09:51 AM PST

Graphic courtesy NYC Solar Map

Greater efforts to promote and foster development of New York State’s renewable energy resources and potential were a highlight of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s recent 2012 State of the State address. 2012 could wind up being a ‘bumper year’ for solar and renewable energy in New York if the governor and his team are successful, as the seeds of initiatives enacted in recent years are beginning to germinate as well.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the state Public Service Commission (PSC) on Jan. 10 announced awarding $30 million to help fund large-scale solar power projects that will assist facilities in New York City and the lower Hudson Valley generate clean, renewable electricity for their own use, according to a press release.

First of 5 Years of Planned Solar Energy Funding

The $30 million in funding is the first of five years’ of planned investments to total $150 million authorized under the Customer-Sited Tier Regional Program of New York State’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), which calls for 29% of the energy produced by state investor-owned utilties (IOUs) to be produced from renewable resources come 2015. The NYSERDA incentive scheme will provide as much as 50% of a project’s costs up to a ceiling of $3 million.

2012′s funding is being distributed among a group of 15 companies made up of solar installers, solar project developers and real estate owners, who were selected through a competitive process. Included are: Alteris Renewables, altPOWER, Bright Power, ConEdison Solutions, Earthkind Energy, Martifer Solar USA, OnForce Solar, Ross Solar Group, SolarCity, Solar Energy Systems LLC, Solartech Renewables, SunEdison, SUNation Solar, SunRay Power and MS Harrison LLC.

The awardees will work with project partners that may include a wide range of businesses that consume a lot of electricity, such as department stores, discount stores, apartment complexes, Postal Service distribution centers and other sites in New York City and the Hudson Valley.

"The enthusiastic response to our solicitation confirms the important contribution that solar technology can play in addressing the energy, environmental, and reliability needs of the metropolitan New York City area," said Francis J. Murray Jr., NYSERDA president and CEO. “The success of this program is another example of New York's leadership in supporting investment in a wide range of renewable energy technologies."

The Customer-Sited Tiered Regional Program is aimed directly at promoting growing use of solar and renewable energy in New York City and lower Hudson River valley, areas that have long been heavy users of fossil fuels. NYSERDA will award as much as $30 million each year – $25 million for projects in the city or neighboring Westchester County and $5 million for projects in the lower Hudson Valley – to foster clean energy production and technology adoption.

Related posts:

  1. New York City can go solar cheaper than grid power
  2. New York City’s Solar Windfall Illuminates America’s Clean Energy Future
  3. New York City: Wind Energy Powerhouse?

LED Z Series Striplight Now Available for Energy Efficiency

Posted: 16 Jan 2012 08:32 AM PST

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Important Geothermal Project at Newberry Volcano (Includes Hydroshearing)

Posted: 16 Jan 2012 06:39 AM PST


In this full repost below, from sister site Planetsave, Michael Ricciardi gives us an intro to some of the (mild) controversy around geothermal hydroshearing (like hydrofracturing, or fracking, used to obtain natural gas, but not as severe for a couple of key reasons). He also delves into an important new geothermal project backed by Google and others at Newberry Volcano. Check it out:

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Support Artist Looking to Travel & Inspire the Country in Veggie-Oil, Solar-Powered Bus

Posted: 16 Jan 2012 06:29 AM PST


It seems veggie-oil vehicles don’t get the attention they used to. But I’m sure many people still haven’t even heard of them. One young lady and artist is hoping to spread the word on such vehicles,… and much more, by buying a veggie-oil bus that also include, putting solar panels on it, traveling the country in it, connecting to communities of all sorts, and inspiring green living of various sorts. Anyway, here’s more from her in this Planetsave repost (give her a helping hand on IndieGogo if you can!):

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New Bentley to be 40% More Fuel-Efficient… meh

Posted: 16 Jan 2012 06:20 AM PST


Jo Borras shares the good (but not spectacularly amazing) news on the upcoming Bentley pictured above (model year 2013) with us from Gas2. The gist of it for those of us concerned about clean air and a livable climate: the new Bentley will increase its fuel efficiency 40%. Here’s more:

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Gas Prices to Rise Higher in 2012

Posted: 16 Jan 2012 06:15 AM PST


Yep, as ‘alarmists’ and ‘hippies’ have been warning for ages, gas prices are just going to keep going up and up. Makes the cost of an electric vehicle (EV) better and better. Here’s more on the rising price of gas in 2012 from sister site Gas2:

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A Short Tale & “The Long Tailpipe”

Posted: 16 Jan 2012 03:05 AM PST


Considering all of our present renewable energy generation, there is enough clean electricity to power just a little over 100 million electric cars, today. Arguments like “the long tailpipe” would suggest that this goal is far off or even potentially unreachable.


Much of the discussion that also came with the EV1 was that the electric car was a ZEV (zero emission vehicle). The "long tailpipe argument" was used to counter that claim and, with the demise of the EV1, gained some legitimacy. It says that, even though the vehicle does not produce emissions in its operation, when charging a vehicle battery, the electric power comes as a mix that includes electricity from dirty power plants. Statistics and charts on the "energy mix" of an area are compiled for every country and political subdivision, of course. For the 12 months up to September 2011, the EIA gives the US stats as:

  • COAL: 1,788,203 (43.28%)
  • LPG: 17,423 (0.42%)
  • P. COKE: 12,911 (0.31%)
  • N. GAS: 999,811 (24.20%)
  • OTHER GASES: 11,059 (0.27%)
  • NUCLEAR: 789,649 (19.11%)
  • HYDROELECTRIC: 319,363 (7.73%)
  • OTHER RENEWABLES: 187,655 (4.54%)
  • PUMPED STORAGE: -5,838 (-0.14%)
  • OTHER: 11,581 (0.28%)
  • TOTAL: 4,131,818 GWhr (100.00%)

(I have calculated percentages from the information.)

This seems to imply that almost half of the energy put into a single electric car from the grid uses dirty coal for a little more than 2/5 of its energy.


It is really just a model. We use models to describe things that are usually too big to see all at once. A doll house could be a model of a full-sized house. We calculate the average weight and height of all people and this allows us to see where we fit into the bigger picture. But, when we do this, the individual is part of the larger group. The individual electric car is never a part of the energy-producing group. Instead, it is part of a different group. An energy-consuming or ‘using’ group. It is unlikely that we could ever find any electric car using this exact mix of energy and, if we could, is it even telling us any useful information about the car? In another place, the inference will completely change. If charging from a PV array, the model is completely useless. Our models should give us consistent information.


Fooling Perspective

Even images can fool the eyes. At first glance, we think we understand what is in front of us. In a similar way, models can sometimes give us the wrong impression. When we relate the cleanliness of an electric car to a power plant, it suggests we judge the vehicle for the problem of the power plant. This is a little like imposing the sins of the father on the son: "if your father is a racist, you must be a racist." Neither the son nor the EV can then ever be better because they are being judge by the setting and not their merits. Once we allow this kind of argument, where do we stop the trail of blame? Other counter arguments have been proposed and I hope some will take the time to mention their impression of them in the comments section, but these all require information external to the simple argument itself.



The energy mix is useful information. It tells us about our energy supply. If we want to consider how it relates to our energy usage, we may need to also examine the energy usage in groups, as well. There are 300 million vehicles in the US. It has been suggested that we should have 1 million cars electric cars on our roads by 2015. If we reach that goal, we will have achieved an electric vehicle penetration into the market of about 1/3 of 1%.

The EPA estimates that the Nissan Leaf will need 34 kWh / 100 miles. Using an average annual mileage of 12,500, we would need (34 x 12500/100=) 4250 kWh/yr. As a brief review, 1000 watts = 1 kilowatt (kW), 1000 kW=1 megawatt (MW) and 1000 MW = 1 gigawatt (GW.) Assuming even 5000 kWhr / year, our Leaf is then using 5 MWhr/year or .005GWhr/yr).

1 million Leaf-sized vehicles may ultimately need 5000 GWhr/year, if we achieve that goal in 3 years. This sounds like a lot of energy, but it is about equal to the pumped hydro storage in the US and is dwarfed by the 187,655 GW that were produced by "other renewable energy" (wind, solar, geothermal…) in the 12 months before September 2011.

When we consider all of our presently renewable energy (conventional hydroelectric’s 319,363 GWhr plus these other renewables 187,655 GWhr) for a total of 507,018 GWhrs, we have enough clean energy to power just a little over 100 million electric cars. Now. Today.

If our entire transportation fleet of 300 million vehicles were electric, it may require an electric power supply no more than 1/3 above what we presently use.


These basic energy calculations do not consider the vast amounts of electricity that are presently used by refineries to make the fuel that goes into petrol cars.

They also don't consider studies that suggest up to 84% of our present fleet of vehicles might be charged using the present infrastructure (no new plants) if they were charged off-peak, at night.


The long tailpipe argument is a story that is simple. It is like a tune that catches in our heads and just doesn't seem to go away. As more people sing, it becomes increasingly popular. But it is nevertheless a model that has misdirected our eyes and fools our reason.

ZEV refers to a “vehicle.” It is a term made up by laws in the ’90s and, like other legal terms, is narrowly defined. In this case, it is based on the emissions of a vehicle. We might otherwise be asking about a zero-emissions transportation system or a zero-emissions power plant. Power plants are not vehicles. ZEV may suggest more as a common definition, but car advertisements have suggested more than steel, glass, and fabric for decades. The objection to the term “ZEV” might laughably be “the pot calling the kettle black” if it were not taken so seriously.


The lack of a direct connection between electric vehicles and power plants does not free us from our polluting, petrol-burning fleet, refineries, or electric power plants that are used for so many of our other needs. The electric car is like the pure angel that has come to tell us that there are problems that we need to discuss. The EV is not the problem but a messenger that points to some other, real issues. We can choose to kill the messenger and bury our heads in fracking, tar sands, and lots of discussion, but this will probably not give more insight or wise solutions. Thanks in advance for your considered comments below.

Devil with a short “tale”: wiki commons
EV charging: Quinn Dombrowski via Flickr
Energy mix Chart: author
Fooling Perspective: Wiki Commons
Angel: LocalTravelPhotos via Flickr

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Top 10 Posts of the Week

Posted: 16 Jan 2012 02:47 AM PST

Excellent Year for Canadian Wind in 2011, Looking to Move Forward in 2012

Posted: 16 Jan 2012 02:36 AM PST

Wind energy in Canada had a very solid year in 2011, with gains seen in total production and investment, advancing the potential of Canadian wind energy. With 2012 under way, how will Canada's wind energy players do in a challenging business and economic environment, given that fossil fuels continued to be favoured over renewable energy? Let's take a look at last year in a little more detail and gander through the crystal ball at what 2012 will possibly hold for Canadian wind.

Canadian Wind 2011

“Wind energy is proving itself a key partner as Ontario builds a stronger, cleaner and affordable electricity system. Increased growth of wind energy in Ontario means cleaner air, new jobs and local investments for the communities that host wind energy projects,” said Robert Hornung , President of the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) said.

Total wind energy production saw some very good gains in 2011. Production in Ontario alone, at the end of last year, was at 3.9 Terawatts an hour (Twh), CanWEA said in a press release. That is up by 1.1 Twh from 2010's level of 2.8 Twh. Ontario's wind production, in November, was 0.56, showing some firmness ahead of the end of 2011, CanWEA said.

2011 also saw increased investments, totalling more than C$3 billion, while adding 17,000 man-hours in employment. That's quite impressive for an industry that is still fairly young.

However, despite the gains in output, wind energy still only represents a small part of the total electricity output in Ontario, representing 2.6% of the 149 Twh produced, CanWEA said.

While Canadian wind energy had success in output, total new installations for 2011 were estimated to be around 1,338 megawatts (MW), with significant investments made. Can 2012 be as successful as its predecessor? Will Canadian wind face strong gusts in front of it from the fossil fuel industry continually blocking its way? Here are some things to watch for:

Canadian Wind 2012

Canadian Federal Budget: Nothing New is Nothing Good at All. Expect the Conservative government of Canada to release its budget sometime in late February or in March with no new exciting incentives at all for the renewable energy sector. Canadian Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is expected to tighten the fiscal purse strings, namely Environment Canada's budget. This government seems more supportive of oil sands projects, and its ministers seem to think environmentalists are extremists. Don't expect much in new policy that would be supportive of the wind industry in the Great White North.

Feeding the Wind: While the Canadian federal government won't step up to the table, most of the investments by government in Canada will have to come, yet again, from provincial governments. Ontario, with its feed-in tariff (FiT), which has been successful in spring-boarding much of Ontario's green energy sectors, will once again lead the way with this innovative policy. Other provinces, including Quebec and BC, with carbon taxes now in place, are good provinces with policies supporting renewable energy as well.

My Wish for Canada's Wind Sector: As wind continues to be a serious player in the energy mix in Canada, it will be important for a cohesive policy that will spur innovation towards Canada’s wind energy sector, and that will get Canada off fossil fuels. That means putting a price on carbon at a national level. Whether its cap and trade or, preferably, a carbon tax, that would force companies to innovate their way out of fossil fuel use, avoiding the punishment for polluting or regulation.

I would also seriously like to see our current federal government put a stronger emphasis on private research and development towards renewable energy. While Canada does rank ninth in wind energy installed, the country has fallen behind in the renewable energy race. Other countries, including China, Europe, and the US, have steamed ahead of us. The US spends close to 18 times the amount Canada does on clean tech.

If Canada wants to get to its goals of wind being 20% of Canada’s electricity by 2025, much has to be done. Here’s hoping 2012 will continue the good growth seen, but push barriers further down to where it is moving full steam ahead.

Photo Credit: Climate Change Connection

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Ballot Initiative Would More Than Double Michigan’s Renewable Portfolio Standard

Posted: 15 Jan 2012 01:08 PM PST

Last week, a coalition of clean energy advocates announced a 2012 ballot initiative that would amend the state constitution to more than double Michigan's existing state renewable energy standard (RES).

The Michigan Jobs & Energy Coalition wants to boost the amount of electricity utilities provide to their customers to 25 percent by 2025. The state's current RES, enacted in 2008, requires utilities to provide at least 10 percent of their electricity from renewables by 2015.

In late 2011, less than four percent of Michigan's electricity came from renewable energy sources, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

A 25 percent RES would immediately vault Michigan into the top tier of state renewable energy targets nationwide. Only Hawaii (40 percent by 2030), California (33 percent by 2020), Colorado (30 percent by 2020), New York (29 percent by 2015), and Connecticut (27 percent by 2020) have higher goals. Six other states have 25 percent by 2025 goals.

29 U.S. states currently have RPS targets

Economic Impacts

Coalition spokesperson Mark Fisk said that approving the measure "will create thousands of new jobs for Michigan workers" and "spark over $10 billion in new investment." The coalition, which includes public health, labor and farming groups, wants to raise $1 million dollars and collect 500,000 signatures.

The proposal urges incentives to promote hiring Michigan workers and may help boost the state economy. "Billions of dollars in investments are going to come into this type of program here," said Jeff Mettts, president of Michigan-based wind turbine manufacturer Dowding Industries. "I see it as a way to diversify."

Measures are also included to protect consumers by capping utility rate increases related to meeting the target at one percent per year. But a spokesman for Michigan-based Consumers Energy said a jump to 25 percent combined with a rate cap would cause conflicting priorities for utilities. Consumers currently generates five percent of its electricity from renewables, and will generate eight percent when its first wind farm comes online this year.

Environmental Impacts

Michigan's power sector has been getting greener over time. From 2000-2009, state energy-related CO2 emissions have fallen 16.3 percent, from 196.9 million metric tons of CO2. Over that same time period, the state's economic carbon intensity also dropped five percent. Both statistics are according to the U.S. EIA.

But beyond the environmental benefits of an RPS, electricity customers may actually wind up paying less on their utility bills as their power gets greener. A recent report found that, between 2005-2010, the five states with the highest volume of wind and solar saw the lowest increase in electricity prices.

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