- What Are Your Preference’s on CleanTechnica’s Site Design? (Short Survey)
- Top Climate Scientist on Need for Clean Energy Action
- Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) & American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) Team Up to Increase Renewable Energy
- Clean Links
- Clean Energy: The Sky’s the Limit
- Germany’s REpower to Upgrade Blyth Wind Farm with 23.8 MW of New Turbines
Posted: 30 Jan 2012 07:22 AM PST
I’d like to get your feedback on our site design. And, as promised last week, I’ve created a short (very short) survey so that you can help us make some important decisions. It is embedded below.
NOTE: below the survey is a screenshot of the previous site theme (relevant for the first question) – click on it to enlarge it.
MAKE SURE TO HIT “DONE” WHEN YOU ARE FINISHED WITH THE SURVEY.
Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world’s leading questionnaire tool.
Posted: 30 Jan 2012 06:59 AM PST
Check out this great post from one of the world’s leading climate scientists, Dr. James Hansen of NASA, on the need for clean energy action now. The piece and following letter are in support of an effort (Freedom of Information—or FOI—request) to make the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) reveal its funding sources. The GWPF is championing unwarranted doubt and lies about global warming and climate change. The title of the piece below is Cowards in Our Democracies: Part 1 and it’s reposted in full here (the chart has just been moved from the middle of the letter to the top of the post):
by James Hansen, Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies
The threat of human-made climate change and the urgency of reducing fossil fuel emissions have become increasingly clear to the scientific community during the past few years. Yet, at the same time, the public seems to have become less certain about the situation. Indeed, many people have begun to wonder whether the climate threat has been concocted or exaggerated.
Public doubt about the science is not an accident. People profiting from business-as-usual fossil fuel use are waging a campaign to discredit the science. Their campaign is effective because the profiteers have learned how to manipulate democracies for their advantage.
The scientific method requires objective analysis of all data, stating evidence pro and con, before reaching conclusions. This works well, indeed is necessary, for achieving success in science. But science is now pitted in public debate against the talk-show method, which consists of selective citation of anecdotal bits that support a predetermined position.
Why is the public presented results of the scientific method and the talk-show method as if they deserved equal respect? A few decades ago that did not happen. In 1981, when I wrote a then-controversial paper (http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/abs/ha04600x.html) about the impact of CO2 on climate, the science writer Walter Sullivan contacted several of the top relevant scientific experts in the world for comments. He did not mislead the public by dredging up and highlighting contrarian opinion for the sake of a forced and unnatural "balance".
Today most media, even publicly-supported media, are pressured to balance every climate story with opinions of contrarians, climate change deniers, as if they had equal scientific credibility. Media are dependent on advertising revenue of the fossil fuel industry, and in some cases are owned by people with an interest in continuing business as usual. Fossil fuel profiteers can readily find a few percent of the scientific community to serve as mouthpieces — all scientists practice skepticism, and it is not hard to find some who are out of their area of expertise, who may enjoy being in the public eye, and who are limited in scientific insight and analytic ability.
Distinguished scientific bodies such as national science academies, using the scientific method, can readily separate charlatans and false interpretations from well-reasoned science. Yet it seems that our governments and the public are not making much use of their authoritative scientific bodies. Why is that?
I believe that the answer, and the difficulty in communicating science to the public, is related to the corrosive influence of money in politics and to increased corporate influence on the media.
It is a tragic and frustrating situation, because when all the dots in the climate-energy story are connected it becomes clear that a common-sense pathway exists that would solve energy needs, stimulate the economy, and protect the future of young people. As I discussed in "Storms of My Grandchildren," a gradually rising carbon fee should be collected from fossil fuel companies, with the money distributed uniformly to legal residents. This would stimulate the economy, making it more efficient by putting an honest price on fuels, incorporating their costs to society.
"Captains of industry" told me they would prefer such a course with knowledge of a steadily rising carbon price, which would stimulate innovations in efficiency and clean energies.
Despite the obstacles presented by the role of money in politics and by the huge advertising campaigns of the fossil fuel industry, the urgency of addressing the climate-energy issue demands that we do the best that we can to inform the public. One of the things we can do is try to expose how the public and our democracies are being manipulated for the benefit of those profiting from the public's fossil fuel addiction.
For that purpose I provided the witness statement below in support of an effort to reveal the name of the seed funder of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) in the UK. GWPF is "successful" in casting doubt on the reality and significance of human-made climate change.
The newsletters of Benny Peiser, Director of GWPF, can be quite entertaining and sometimes include useful references. He pings the impracticality and costliness of an energy approach that relies excessively on renewable energies. But ultimately his purpose seems to be to persuade the public that climate science is flawed. I don't know if GWPF is supported by the fossil fuel industry, but it seems to me that the public has the right to know. Ultimately, I hope and believe, the public will be able to appreciate how our democracies are being twisted by people with money for their own purposes. But that requires freedom of information.
Some clarification of what this is about, the secret efforts of Lords, the wealthy, the privileged, to dupe the public in our democracies into supporting their continued and growing privileges, is provided by this news article and press release:
I, James Hansen of Kintnersville, Pennsylvania, USA, say as follows
1. I am Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City and Adjunct Professor of Earth Sciences at Columbia University's Earth Institute. I write here in my personal capacity, not representing these institutions. I was trained in physics and astronomy in the space science program of Dr. James Van Allen at the University of Iowa, receiving my Ph.D. in 1967. Since the mid-1970s my research has focused on Earth's climate and understanding the human impact on global climate. I am a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences, have testified about climate change to our Congress many times, and have met with officials of numerous nations concerning actions needed to stabilize climate and assure a bright future for young people.
2. I make this witness statement in support of Brendan Montague's appeal. The facts and matters set out in this statement are within my own knowledge unless otherwise stated, and I believe them to be true. Where I refer to information supplied by others, the source of the information is identified; facts and matters derived from other sources are true to the best of my knowledge and belief. References in this statement are to documents in the bundles of documents prepared for the Tribunal hearing.
The current situation regarding global climate change is described in a paper, The Case for Young People and Nature: A Path to a Healthy Prosperous Future, which I am preparing with the help of 17 international colleagues for submission to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA. The paper includes more than 100 scientific references supporting the discussion in my statement below. The abstract summarizing our paper is [posted at the top].
Science, as described in numerous authoritative reports, has revealed that humanity is now the dominant force driving changes of Earth's atmospheric composition and thus future climate. The principal climate forcing is carbon dioxide (CO2) from fossil fuel emissions, much of which will remain in the atmosphere for millennia. The climate system's inertia, which is mainly due to the ocean and the ice sheets on Greenland and Antarctica, causes climate to respond slowly, at least initially, but in a very long-lasting way to this human-made forcing.
Governments have recognized the need to limit emissions to avoid dangerous human-made climate change, as formalized in the Framework Convention on Climate Change. Despite this, the Kyoto Protocol, established in 1997 to reduce developed country emissions and slow emissions growth in developing countries, has been so ineffective that the rate of global emissions has since accelerated to almost 3%/year, compared to 1.5%/year in the preceding two decades.
There is a huge gap between rhetoric about reducing emissions and reality. Governments and businesses offer assurances that they are working to reduce emissions, but only a few nations have made substantial progress. Reality exposes massive efforts to expand fossil fuel extraction, including oil drilling to increasing ocean depths, into the Arctic, and onto environmentally fragile public lands; squeezing of oil from tar sands and tar shale; hydro-fracking to expand extraction of natural gas; and increased mining of coal via mechanized longwall mining and mountain-top removal.
Governments not only allow this activity, but use public funds to subsidize fossil fuels at a rate of about 500 billion US$ per year. Nor are fossil fuels required to pay their costs to society. Air and water pollution due to extraction and burning of fossil fuels kills more than 1,000,000 people per year and affects the health of billions of people. But the greatest costs to society are likely to be the impacts of climate change, which are already apparent and are expected to grow considerably.
Climate change is a moral issue of unprecedented scope, a matter of intergenerational injustice, as today's adults obtain benefits of fossil fuel use, while consequences are felt mainly by young people and future generations. In addition, developed countries are most responsible for emissions, but people in less developed countries and indigenous people across the world are likely to be burdened the most while being least able to adapt to a changing climate.
The tragedy of human-made climate change, should the rush to exploit all fossil fuels continue, is that transition to clean energies and energy efficiency is not only feasible but economically sensible. Assertions that phase-out of fossil fuels would be unacceptably costly can be traced to biased assumptions that do not account for the costs of fossil fuels to society or include the benefits of technology innovations that would emerge in response to an appropriate price on carbon emissions.
Fossil fuel emissions so far are a small fraction of known reserves and potentially recoverable resources, as shown in Figure 1. There are uncertainties in estimated reserves and resources, some of which may not be economically recoverable with current technologies and energy prices. But there is already more than enough fossil fuel reserve to transform the planet, and fossil fuel subsidies and technological advances will make more and more of the resources available.
Burning all fossil fuels would create a different planet than the one that humanity knows. The paleoclimate record and ongoing climate change make it clear that the climate system would be pushed beyond tipping points, setting in motion irreversible changes, including ice sheet disintegration with a continually adjusting shoreline, extermination of a substantial fraction of species on the planet, and increasingly devastating regional climate extremes.
Phase out of fossil fuel emissions is urgent. CO2 from fossil fuel use stays in the surface climate system for millennia. Failure to phase out emissions rapidly will leave young people and future generations with an enormous clean-up job. The task of extracting CO2 from the air is so great that success is uncertain at best, raising the likelihood of a spiral into climate catastrophes and efforts to "geo-engineer" restoration of planetary energy balance.
Most proposed schemes to artificially restore Earth's energy balance aim to reduce solar heating, e.g., by maintaining a haze of stratospheric particles that reflect sunlight to space. Such attempts to mask one pollutant with another pollutant almost inevitably would have unintended consequences. Moreover, schemes that do not remove CO2 would not avert ocean acidification. The pragmatic path is for the world to move expeditiously to carbon-free energies and increased energy efficiency, leaving most remaining fossil fuels in the ground.
Transition to a post-fossil fuel world of clean energies will not occur as long as fossil fuels remain the cheapest energy in a system that does not incorporate the full cost of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are cheap only because they are subsidized directly and indirectly, and because they do not pay their costs to society. Costs of air and water pollution caused by fossil fuel extraction and use, via impacts on human health, food production, and natural ecosystems, are borne by the public. Similarly, costs of climate change and ocean acidification will be borne by the public, especially by young people and future generations.
Thus the essential underlying policy, albeit not sufficient, is a price on carbon emissions that allows these costs to be internalized within the economics of energy use. The price should rise over decades such that people and businesses can efficiently adjust their lifestyles and investments to minimize costs. The right price for carbon and the best mechanism for carbon pricing are more matters of practicality than of economic theory.
An economic analysis indicates that a tax beginning at a level of $15/tCO2 and rising $10/tCO2 each succeeding year would reduce emissions in the United States by 30% within 10 years. Such a reduction of carbon emissions is more than 10 times greater than the carbon content of tar sands oil that would be carried by the proposed Keystone XL pipeline (830,000 barrels/day).
Relative merits of a carbon tax versus cap-and-trade continue to be discussed. Cap-and-trade has had some, albeit limited, success in Europe, but failed in the arena of U.S. policy, as opponents won the rhetorical battle by describing it as a devious new tax. The merits of an alternative, a gradually rising fee on carbon emissions collected from fossil fuel companies with proceeds distributed to the public, have been summarized by DiPeso, Policy Director of Republicans for Environmental Protection, as: "Transparent. Market-based. Does not enlarge government. Leaves energy decisions to individual choices…. Sounds like a conservative climate plan."
A rising carbon price is the sine qua non for fossil fuel phase out, but it is not sufficient. Other needs include investment in energy R&D, testing of new technologies such as low-loss smart electric grids, electrical vehicles interacting effectively with the power grid, energy storage for intermittent renewable energy, new nuclear power plant designs, and carbon capture and storage. Governments must support energy planning for housing and transportation, energy and carbon efficiency requirements for buildings, vehicles and other manufactured products, global monitoring systems, and climate mitigation and adaptation in undeveloped countries.
Rhetoric of political leaders, including phrases such as "a planet in peril", leaves the impression that they fully grasp the planetary crisis caused by rising atmospheric CO2. However, closer examination reveals that much of the rhetoric is aptly termed "greenwash" (J. Hansen, Storms of My Grandchildren, Bloomsbury, 2009, 304 pp.) as even nations considered to be among the "greenest" support expanded fossil fuel extraction including the most carbon-intensive fuels such as tar sands. The reality is that most governments, rather than taking actions to rapidly phase out fossil fuels, are allowing and using public funds to partially subsidize continued fossil fuel extraction, including expansion of oil drilling to increasing ocean depths, into the Arctic, and onto environmentally fragile public lands; squeezing of oil from tar sands and tar shale; hydro-fracking to expand extraction of natural gas; and increased mining of coal via mechanized longwall mining and mountain-top removal.
How is it possible that a specter of large human-driven climate change has unfolded virtually unimpeded, despite scientific understanding of likely consequences? Would not governments – presumably instituted for the protection of all citizens – have stepped in to safeguard the future of young people? A strong case can be made that the absence of effective leadership in most nations is related to the undue sway of special financial interests on government policies and effective public relations efforts by people who profit from the public's fossil fuel addiction and wish to perpetuate that dependence.
Such a situation, with the science clear enough to demand action but with public understanding of the situation, and thus political response, hampered by the enormous financial power of special interests, suggests the possibility of an important role for the judiciary system. Indeed, in some nations the judicial branch of government may be able to require the executive branch to present realistic plans to protect the rights of the young. Such a legal case for young people should demand plans for emission reductions that are consistent with what the science shows is required to stabilize climate.
Judicial recognition of the exigency and the rights of young people will help draw attention to the need for a rapid change of direction. However, fundamental change is unlikely without public support. Obtaining public support requires widespread recognition that a prompt orderly transition to the post fossil fuel world, via a gradually rising price on carbon emissions, makes overall sense and is economically beneficial.
The most basic matter, however, is not one of economics. It is a matter of morality – a matter of intergenerational justice. As with the earlier great moral issue of slavery, an injustice of one race of humans to another, so the injustice of one generation to another must stir the public's conscience to the point of action. Until there is a sustained and growing public involvement, it is unlikely that the needed fundamental change of direction can be achieved.
A broad public outcry may seem implausible given the enormous resources of the fossil fuel industry, which allows indoctrination of the public with the industry's perspective. The merits of coal, of oil from tar sands and the deep ocean, of gas from hydrofracking are repeatedly extolled, all of these supposedly to be acquired with utmost care of the environment. Potential climate concerns are addressed by discrediting climate science and scientists, including use of character assassination and every negative campaign trick that they have learned.
The fossil fuel kingpins who profit from the public's fossil fuel addiction, some of them multi-billionaires, are loosely knit, but with a well-understood common objective of maintaining the public's addiction. These kingpins have the resources to be well aware of the scientific knowledge concerning the consequences of continued exploitation of fossil fuels. However, they choose not only to ignore those facts, but to support activities intended to keep the public ill- informed. These kingpins are guilty of high crimes against humanity and nature. It is little consolation that the world will eventually convict them in the court of public opinion or even, unlikely as it is, that they may be forced to stand trial in the future before an international court of justice.
The fossil fuel kingpins are separated from the foot soldiers who serve as their public mouthpieces, separated by multiple layers of people, and even by corporations, which some courts have granted rights and protections of people.
The public has the right to know who is supporting the foot soldiers for business-as-usual and to learn about the web of support for the propaganda machine that serves to keep the public addicted to fossil fuels and destroys the future of their children.
This court cannot single-handedly cure the cancer that is afflicting democracies worldwide, the inappropriate power granted to money, to special financial interests. But by standing for the rights of the people, by exposing one link in the web of the oppressing fossil fuel propaganda machine, it just may start a process that allows the public to begin to realize what is at stake and where the public interest lies. Perhaps, if this process begins soon, there is still time to preserve a good future for young people and future generations.
I believe that the facts stated in this witness statement are true.
– James Hansen
James Hansen photo via NASA Goddard Photo and Video
Posted: 30 Jan 2012 06:55 AM PST
The Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) and American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE) have announced “a partnership to explore how renewable energy can help the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) achieve mission objectives, save taxpayer money, and reduce risks associated with reliance on fossil fuels.” Here’s the rest of the announcement, from AEE:
The two organizations announced a multi-part forum series to be held throughout 2012 in collaboration with the DOD to help increase U.S. military effectiveness through the integration and deployment of renewable energy solutions. Key areas of focus identified by the DOD include technological and financial opportunities and challenges related to the expanded use of renewable energy in support of national defense.
“Our armed forces know the dangers of overdependence on oil better than anyone, and advanced energy companies stand ready to help the Defense Department meet its energy needs in new ways,” said Nick d’Arbeloff, President of Regional Development and National Programs for Advanced Energy Economy. “Renewable energy is an important part of the answer, along with energy efficiency and energy management technologies.”
“America’s continued reliance on foreign oil resources presents a serious and urgent threat to our national and economic security. The U.S. military, used to planning strategic campaigns to manage risk, has taken a leading role in deploying renewable energy as threat mitigation,” said Vice Admiral (Ret.) Dennis McGinn, President of ACORE. “Let’s learn from their example and find ways for the renewable energy industry to work with the military to create an energy future that will ensure and enhance America’s national security and prosperity.”
The Department of Defense is the largest industrial consumer of oil in the world, using 125 million barrels of oil in FY 2010, which was more than that consumed by 82% of the world’s countries individually in 2010. DOD is projected to spend $150 billion over the next decade on fuel and electricity. The use of renewable energy in combat operations can reduce the need for hazardous fuel convoys, which were associated with 12% of Army casualties in Iraq and 35% of Army casualties in Afghanistan in 2007. Renewable energy and efficiency improvements can also cut energy costs on military bases and other permanent installations.
The Department of Defense has pledged to draw 25% of its energy from renewable sources by 2025, and recently committed as part of President Obama’s January 2012 State of the Union address that the Navy will purchase enough clean energy capacity to power a quarter of a million homes a year. ACORE and AEE are uniquely positioned to help DOD meet this challenge by drawing on the collective expertise and experience of their members, which include advanced energy industry associations, utilities, end users, professional service firms, financial institutions, educational institutions, nonprofit groups, and government agencies.
For this first forum, ACORE and AEE have produced a primer for companies describing the military’s commitment to advanced energy and outlining resources for companies interested in working effectively with the DOD, as well as case studies of successful collaborations between the military and three companies: Lockheed Martin, for the development of portable microgrid systems to efficiently manage power systems at temporary and permanent bases and to integrate more renewable energy; SunPower, for developing the first large-scale solar photovoltaic installation for a military base that will be financed through a 20-year power-purchase agreement; and Ocean Power Technologies, for developing, in collaboration with the U.S. Navy, wave-power technology for remote, ocean-based sensing equipment and other “power at sea” applications. Also, ACORE and AEE have created an infographic that illustrates key data on the military’s energy challenges and some advanced energy solutions. The primer, case studies and infographic can all be found at the following link: www.aee.net/DoD-partnership.
Following the forum series, ACORE and AEE will establish a member-led initiative to support continued collaboration between DOD and the advanced energy industry through activities such as market, technology, procurement and policy analysis; meetings; conferences; and communications.
The first event of the forum series, “Collaboration on Technology, Procurement and Finance Solutions to Enhance National Defense,” focusing on renewable energy integration and increasing U.S. military and warfighter effectiveness, is scheduled for January 26, 2012, in Washington, D.C.
Image Credit: United States Marine Corps Official Page
Posted: 30 Jan 2012 06:34 AM PST
Some more top cleantech stories from around, to kick off the week:
1. KDC Solar, teaming up with Nugen Capital Management, ”has begun commercial operation of the second largest PV roof-mounted solar system in New Jersey at the White Rose Inc. warehouse in Carteret.” Ribbon-cutting (see picture) took place on January 25. “The 4.88-megawatt solar system will generate approximately 6.2 million hours of solar electricity per year and is designed to supply more than 60 percent of the electric power needs for the White Rose grocery warehouse site, which is owned by KTR Capital Partners. The installation was done by Solar Power Inc. a global leader in producing world-class solar energy facilities. SPI procured over 22,000 high quality panels manufactured by LDK Solar.”
2. National Solar Power has teamed up with Liberty County, Florida to build an “up to 100MW solar energy project” in the county. “Up to five 200-acre, 20MW farm segments are planned at a cost of $70 million each–-potentially injecting hundreds of millions of dollars in the Liberty County community.”
3. SolarBridge Technologies is teaming up with Solartec Energia Renovable to bring to AC modules to Mexico. SolarBridge is “the leading developer of module-integrated microinverters for the solar industry” and Solartec “will manufacture and sell AC modules powered by SolarBridge PantheonTM microinverters into the Mexican market.” Shipments of Solartech’s S60MC modules are projected to start going out towards the end of this quarter.
4. Canadian Solar recently signed and announced an agreement with the Al Fahad Group (a diversified conglomerate with expertise in Defense & Intelligence, Homeland Security, Networking & Communications and Power) to supply over 1.5 MW of its solar modules for one of the largest solar PV projects in Abu Dhabi, “considered one of the pioneers for renewable energies in the Middle East.” The project is a governmental venture that “was agreed upon during the recent World Future Energy Summit (WFES) held in Abu Dhabi.”
5. Yingli Solar has announced today that it will supply 180 MW of multi-crystalline and mono-crystalline (Panda) PV modules to IBC Solar in 2012. The modules are especially to be installed in Germany, other European countries, but also other countries around the world.
6. Orange County Great Park and the United States Department of Energy have announced that Orange County Great Park will be the site for the 2013 Solar Decathlon. “The Solar Decathlon challenges international collegiate teams to design and build solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient and attractive while promoting the education and economic benefits of renewable energy and energy efficiency. Visitors will be able to tour the renewable energy houses that combine energy-efficient construction and appliances at a specially-constructed Great Park Solar Village in the fall of 2013.” This is a biennial event that was started in 2002 and this will be the first time the event is not not held in Washington, D.C.
7. The China Development Bank Corp (CDB) has recently invested a total of $64 million to construct solar power plants in California and New Jersey. “China-based LDK Solar Co Ltd announced on Jan 4 that it had secured $20 million from CDB to construct two solar power plants in California,” China Daily reports. “In addition, SPI, a California-based company majority owned by LDK, received $44 million from CDB to pay for the construction of solar projects it is working on jointly with KDC Solar LLC in New Jersey.”
1. Germany installed over 2 gigawatts of wind power in 2011, a tremendous amount and an increase over its 2010 total (which was a somewhat disappointing year). “According to the German Wind Energy Institute (Dewi), the German Wind Energy Association (BWE), and mechanical engineering association VDMA, the relatively large volume of newly installed wind capacity in southern Germany helped bring the total for the country up to 2,007 megawatts for the year. Up to now, almost all of German wind power capacity has been installed in the north. For instance, the southern state of Baden-Württemberg long had governments almost completely opposed to wind power, as was the case when the EU’s current Energy Commissioner Oettinger was Prime Minister of that state. More turbines in the south would also take a load off the grid; at the moment, Germany is having trouble getting all of that wind power from the north down to cities in the south.”
2. Gamesa, one of the world’s leading wind turbine manufacturers has “secured a contract with the Santa María joint venture (made up of two Grupo Ortiz companies) to deliver 50 MW of turbines for the Santa María de Nieva wind farm (phases I and II), owned by Explotaciones Eólicas Vélez Rubio and slated for construction outside the towns of Vélez Rubio and Huércal-Overa in Almeria (Spain).” Here’s a fun fact: Gamesa has a staggering 1,960 MW of turbines installed in Andalusia and has approximately 700 MW more under development in the region.
3. Chicago-based Goldwind USA “has acquired two 10MW wind farms, referred to as the Musselshell Project, in Shawmut, Montana. Volkswind has obtained all of the necessary permits for construction and secured power purchase and interconnection agreements with NorthWestern Energy. The project is expected to begin construction soon with commercial operations as early as Q3 2012…. The deal marks Goldwind’s 14th in North and South America with over 200MW sold in the past year and a half.”
4. AnalySwift, “a leading provider of efficient high-fidelity modeling software for aerospace and energy composites and other advanced materials,” has announced the release of its new VABS 3.6. “This is the latest version of VABS, which is the tool of choice for efficient and accurate modeling of composite slender structures such as wind turbine blades, helicopter rotor blades, high aspect ratio wings, composite bridges, and other slender structural components,” Utah State University announces. “The main feature of the VABS 3.6 is the improved method of optimizing the finite element mesh. Compared to the previous version, VABS 3.6 is several times faster for large problems, and the slower I/O (Input/Output) performance reported by some users was corrected. Furthermore, VABS 3.6 can handle much larger models, which cannot be analyzed by previous versions.”
1. The Ford C-MAX Energi was recently announced the Green Car Journal’s 2012 Green Car Vision Award™ winner at The Washington Auto Show. “The highly-efficient plug-in model, which is expected to come to market in late 2012, is built on the same global C-car platform as the Ford Focus and other Ford models to come.”
2. New rules ”requiring that 15 percent of all new cars sold by 2025 be powered by electricity, hydrogen, or other reduced-emission sources” were passed in California last week. The new rules “also require a 75-percent reduction in smog-creating emissions from new cars, SUVS, pickups and minivans, and a 50-percent reduction in emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases by 2025. According to the board, the initiative would put about 1.4 million low-emission vehicles on California roads by 2025, compared with current levels of about 10,000. They predict the new rules will add about $1,900 to the price of a new car, but will save about $5,900 in fuel costs during the life of the vehicle.”
1. “A tidal energy generator off the coast of Northern Ireland has been hailed as the first in the world to produce more than 3GWh of electricity, marking a major milestone for the UK’s fledgling marine energy sector,” the UK’s Business Green reports. The electricity has been produced by Marine Current Turbines’ (MCT) 1.2-MW SeaGen device. “The government has predicted energy from wave and tidal technologies could provide up to 27GW of capacity in the UK by 2050, although much of the technology is still in early stages of development with MCT one of the first developers to get a commercial scale device in the water.”
2. Pike Research announced today that worldwide revenue from microgrids is projected to reach $17.3 billion by 2017, according to one of its latest reports. Capacity in such microgrids is projected to reach 4.7 gigawatts in that time. “Microgrids, or integrated systems in which distributed energy resources (DERs) operate as a single, autonomous grid either in parallel to or isolated from the existing utility power grid, offer customers and distribution utilities a host of new ways to bolster reliability and manage variable, bidirectional resources. In addition, their smaller scale results in far fewer line losses, a lower demand on transmission infrastructure, and the ability to rely on more localized sources of power generation. All of these benefits are stimulating increased demand for microgrids on a worldwide basis, in a range of application scenarios including campus environments, military operations, remote/off-grid settings, community/utility systems, and commercial and industrial markets.”
3. Ryan Matley of the Rocky Mountain Institute discusses how “the industrial sector can achieve 84 percent greater production using 9 to 13 percent less energy, and save $0.5 trillion net” with a focus on energy efficiency and renewable energy in a recent post piggy-backing on the institute’s Reinventing Fire analysis. The post also focuses on how these industries are creating jobs and rebuilding a strong American manufacturing sector (with significant successes already). Climate Progress aptly titled a repost of this piece “Picking up the $500 Billion Bill on The Ground: Driving the Next Industrial Revolution Through Efficiency.” Well put.
Posted: 30 Jan 2012 06:00 AM PST
I think we’ve covered all of the technologies and stories mentioned in this guest post below, but it is a nice summary of some recent clean energy news and a nice “step back and take a broader look at things” kind of piece that I think is worth sharing, so here it is!
by Hayden Brown of The Climate Reality Project
What's the most exciting part of clean energy? Maybe, as my colleague Shravya wrote, it's about the race to the top or the role clean energy plays in energy security.
To me, it's the technology. How cool is it that someday, when we flip the switch in our houses, our electricity could come from solar panels in space? Space not your thing? That's all right; clean energy technology has something for everyone. For example, researchers at Notre Dame are working on solar paint. Yes, you read that right. Paint that can convert sunlight into electricity. These technologies are still in their early stages, but someday they could change the way we think about turning on the lights.
But at the same time, engineers and scientists are hard at work improving existing technology for renewable energy. Offshore wind farms are already iconic along Europe's coasts, but a new kind of wind turbine could change the game entirely. Engineers are working on giant, floating wind turbines that could be towed out to the deep sea, tethered to the ocean floor and left to float as they generate clean electricity. These 2- to 7- Megawatt turbines could open up the deep sea for cheaper, more efficient wind power.
As interest in clean energy increases, developers are looking at increasingly innovative ways to harness the wind. Here's just one example. Makani Power, based in California, is developing kite-like airborne wind turbines (AWT) that generate electricity from high-altitude winds. By taking advantage of the powerful and consistent winds, these kites can create electricity from just a strong breeze. AWTs also have lower capital costs than traditional wind turbines and can be used in non-traditional locations such as valleys or low wind speed regions. Combining seemingly space-age technology with the tried and true is essential as we race to remove fossil fuels from our electricity.
Beyond technological advancement, there are big changes coming to where and how we build wind farms. The U.S. Department of Energy recently launched an online program that will make it easier to build wind farms in locations that generate the most electricity. Making renewable energy more efficient will help bring down the cost for developers and lower our utility bills.
Advancements in clean energy technology can be seen throughout the sector. The work being done at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado and Advanced Research Programs Agency – Energy has already led improvement in everything from the way solar cells are manufactured to advanced battery technology. The advancements this industry has made in the last decade are truly remarkable.
But we cannot stop here. By showing your support for the amazing work already under way, you can help remind people that our clean energy future is too important to simply throw away.
Posted: 30 Jan 2012 05:01 AM PST
REpower, a German wind turbine manufacturer plans to upgrade/replace the 20-year-old wind turbines at Blyth Wind Farm with new 3.4-MW turbines. There are nine old 300-kW (0.3 MW) turbines at that power plant (with a combined capacity of 2.7 MW or 2,700 kW) and REpower is to replace them with seven 3.4-MW turbines, turbines which will be the UK’s biggest to date. Seven 3.4-MW turbines would have a combined electricity generation capacity of 23.8 MW, of course, making for a pretty powerful wind farm.
The old turbines are being replaced because their useful life has ended. The first new turbine that will be installed is expected to generate more electricity than all of the old turbines combined due to tremendous improvements in wind turbine technology over the past couple of decades.
Additionally, they are simply larger. Larger wind turbines are more economical, since they are exposed to more and stronger wind. If you increase the height of the tower of an existing wind turbine, it will generate more power. Taller towers do cost more money, but they are clearly worth the investment in the long run.
Rick Eggleston, who is the managing director of REpower UK, said that he was very pleased to have sold the company’s first 3.4-MW turbine in the UK.
“Using larger capacity turbines like this means that onshore wind farms can be even more productive in relation to their size,” he said. “I am also delighted to be continuing our long-established relationship with Hainsford Energy.”
The first turbine is expected to be installed in the middle of the year, and should be commissioned by late summer.
h/t BusinessGreen | Photo Credit: REpower
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