Sunday, May 13, 2012

Latest from: CleanTechnica

Latest from: CleanTechnica

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Now Your Shoes Can Charge Your Phone

Posted: 13 May 2012 11:34 AM PDT

 

24-year-old Anthony Mutua has created a device that turns your sneakers into cell phone chargers. The invention is being presented at Kenyan Science Technology and Innovation Week in Nairobi this week.

“The shoe apparently has a very thin ‘crystal chip,’ perhaps a piezoelectric device, that generates power when the sole bends. It can charge phones via a long cable to a pocket while the user walks, or store power for later charging,” Tim Hornyak of cnet writes.

“This charger works using pressure, as you walk you generate pressure that in turn generates energy, once you have arrived where you were going you can now sit down and charge your mobile phone,” Mutua told CNC World.

Apparently, the device can be transferred from one shoe to another and works in ‘everything’ except bathroom slippers. And it can reportedly charge several phones (or similar devices) at once.

The device has been patented and could enter mass market shortly.

The current estimate is that it would cost an equivalent of $46 and come with a 2.5-year warranty.

Image via Android Authority

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‘The Floating Beast’ Is UMaine’s Wind Technology Contest Winner

Posted: 13 May 2012 11:21 AM PDT

Four Madison high-school students have won the University of Maine’s top award in the Windstorm Challenge 2012 contest. They call their product “The Floating Beast” — it’s “a scale-model, floating offshore wind-turbine platform.”

The team of winners was composed of Travis Emerson, Stephen Cusson, Jess Theberge and Matt Soucy.

The win makes Soucy eligible for a $20,000 work-study scholarship over four years at the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center, a program within the school’s engineering department.

Theberge and Emerson will attend Maine Maritime Academy and Cusson said he plans to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps.

“I’m so proud of my physics students,” their teacher Erin Demshar said. “Through Windstorm Challenge 2012, students applied their classroom knowledge to real world problems.”

The Floating Beast is a scale model of a wind turbine platform designed to float 20 miles off shore.

For an image and to see more info, check out the Maine Sunday Telegram‘s story.

Image via Windstorm Challenge website.

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Goldman Sachs-backed Firm to Invest $1.1 Billion in Indian Wind Energy Sector

Posted: 13 May 2012 11:04 AM PDT

 

One of the fast-emerging wind energy companies in India, ReNew Power Limited, has announced plans to invest Rs 6,000 crore (over $1.1 billion) to set up 1,000 MW of wind energy projects across the country. ReNew Power, which recently commissioned its first wind energy project with 25.2 MW of capacity, sold a majority stake to Goldman Sachs in 2011 for Rs 1,000 crore (~$20 million).

ReNew Power Limited plans to install 1,000 MW of wind projects by 2015, including about 275 MW by March 2013. The 25.2-MW project commissioned recently in Gujarat is registered under India’s Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) scheme. The project could generate significant revenue under this scheme, as the company would also be eligible to sell the Renewable Energy Certificates to the electricity generated.

Several companies have entered the Indian wind energy sector over the last few years. Wind energy technology providers as well as project developers have set ambitious plans to make huge investments and expand capacity in the country. Many international funding agencies and private investors have poured million of dollars into these prospective projects.

ReNew Power was founded by Mr Sumant Sinha, who earlier served as the chief operating officer at Suzlon Energy, one of India’s leading integrated wind energy solutions provider.

While the government withdrew a key tax incentive for the wind energy sector in April of this year, the general notion seems to be that this will have only a short-term impact on the capacity addition, as new market-based initiatives like the REC scheme have been launched. Wind energy finds favor with the investors, as it is has the largest share among India’s installed renewable energy capacity, commanding 70 percent of the share.

Image: Leaflet | Wikimedia Commons

The views presented in the above article are author's personal views only.

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Wind Cheapest Form of Energy in Kenya and Nicaragua

Posted: 13 May 2012 10:48 AM PDT

 
A recent study by scientists at the ETH Zurich's Department of Management, Technology and Economics (D-MTEC) looked into the cost of generating 1/10 of the electricity needed for 6 countries (Brazil, Egypt, India, Kenya, Nicaragua, and Thailand) using wind power, utility-scale solar PV, or conventional options. (The research team didn’t include decentralized, off-grid wind turbines and photovoltaic power in this study but will do so in a future study.)

The study found that, in all 6 countries, wind power was cheaper than solar (though, I think it’s clear that they complement each other). Furthermore, in Kenya and Nicaragua, they found that wind was cheaper than the conventional electricity mix in those countries. (And note that this is without even taking important, costly fossil fuel externalities into account.)

However, some government policies make wind’s cheap price less than obvious: “natural gas and crude oil are subsidised in many countries,” Fabio Bergamin writes on ETH Life. “Egypt, for instance, supplies its own natural gas to the electricity companies at about half the global market price. Also in other countries, there are hidden subsidies. Kenya, for example, maintains the electricity price at a low level and covers the deficits in the production of power caused by the rising oil prices with tax money.”

For more info, check out the ETH Life article or the actual journal article in Nature.

Image: Kenya wind turbine via Whirling Phoenix

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Home Energy-Harvesting Tech

Posted: 13 May 2012 08:42 AM PDT

 
I recently ran across a story about a home energy-harvesting tech company called EnOcean. The company mostly offers such tech for commercial environments, but is reportedly moving more and more into the residential arena.

Examples of what kind of tech I’m talking about? Lighting, HVAC, security, and digital health monitoring powered by kinetic, solar, or thermo power.

“O'Callaghan sees a lot of promise in the home energy market for the thermo powered sensors to use the energy they harvest to signal air vents to open and close, thereby assisting HVAC systems to run more efficiently,” Steven Castle writes over on GreenTech Advocates. “And since heating and cooling represent almost half of an average home's energy bills, saving money on HVAC is a great place to start.”

Here’s more on lighting options:

Kinetic devices for lighting control can eliminate the need to run wire from a switch to the fixture—and instead just have a powerline wire to power the fixture. The switches can be peeled and stuck right to a wall. Verve Living Systems already sells EnOcean-based lighting control systems.

Leviton also uses EnOcean technology in some of its lighting systems, though those have only been available for commercial applications, largely due to increased cost. An energy harvesting wiring switch could cost $40 to $50, as opposed to regular switch that costs a couple of bucks at the hardware store. And energy harvesting sensors can cost about $10 more than typical battery-powered sensors, O'Callaghan says. However, he maintains that in a new construction, the savings from not having to pull wire to light switches, for example, could result in savings of 15 percent—and 50 percent to 75 percent in a retrofit.

For more details, check out the GreenTech Advocates post or the EnOcean website (both linked above).

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95 MW of Polish Wind Projects Under Construction

Posted: 13 May 2012 08:26 AM PDT

 
poland wind farm

Poland, the country where I now live, doesn’t compare to neighbor Germany when it comes to renewable energy, but it’s moving along. One of its prime areas of focus at the moment is the coastal area in the north, which has great wind resources.

As part of that, GE just announced the other day that it will supply 38 2.5-MW wind turbines for four wind power projects under construction in Northern Poland.

“When operational, these projects, referred to collectively as Darlowo Wind Energy Center—Phase Two (Darlowo—Phase Two), will mark the first use of GE's 2.5-megawatt class wind turbines that feature 103-meter rotors for high productivity in Poland,” GE notes.

More info on wind power projects in Poland:

Invenergy Wind LLC (Invenergy) and Polish development company Enerco sp. z o.o. (Enerco) are collaborating to develop nine wind energy generation projects in the region in and around Darlowo, near the Baltic Sea. GE provided 32 wind turbines for Darlowo—Phase One, which was fully commissioned in March 2011 and today produces 80 megawatts of power. Darlowo—Phase One is comprised of the Weikowice, Jezyce and Dobiesław projects.

Darlowo—Phase Two, comprised of the Boryszewo, Krupy, Stary Jarosław and Nowy Jarosław facilities, will bring the total installed capacity of wind energy in the Darłowo area to 175 megawatts.

Darlowo—Phase Three will consist of two additional projects—Gorzyca and Pekanino—which currently are under contract. These sites will boost the aggregate output of the nine Darlowo projects to 250 megawatts.

Source: GE
Image: wind turbines in Poland via Shutterstock

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India Plans to Reassess Wind Energy Resource to Match Latest Wind Energy Tech

Posted: 13 May 2012 08:11 AM PDT

 

The Centre for Wind Energy Technology (CWET), located in the capital of India’s leading wind-energy-producing state, is all set to launch a new project to assess the wind energy potential in the country. The new project would enable new and existing project developers to get a real sense of the investment opportunities available in India’s most favored renewable energy sector.

Officials at CWET plan to set up wind-speed assessment sensors at 75 locations at a height of 100 meters and at four other locations at a height of 120 meters. The development is significant because the organization has actual validated wind energy potential measurements taken at only 45 meters. The data is so old that probably none of the wind energy solution providers in India are selling any wind turbine with a hub height of 45 meters.

Most of the wind turbines available in India have hub heights ranging between 65 and 100 meters. Interestingly, according to the measurements at 45 meters high, the southern state of Tamil Nadu has a wind power generation capacity of 5,374 MW while the wind generation capacity installed in the state was 6,286 MW in August 2011. At 45 meters, India’s total wind power generation potential has been assessed at 49,130 MW, while at height of 80 meters the potential has been estimated at 102,788 MW.

The decision by CWET to undertake a study which matches the current technology would boost the confidence of investors and project developers who were disappointed by the government’s move to roll back a tax incentive policy for wind projects from April 2012.

Wind energy is the largest renewable energy sector in India with a share of 70 percent of the total renewable capacity installed. The sector continues to attract huge investment from domestic as well as international investors. Last year, the Global Wind Energy Council stated that, even in the absence of any new policies, the wind energy capacity is likely to double to about 24 GW by 2020 and further increase to more than 30.5 GW by 2030. If the current policies are fully implemented, the installed capacity is likely to grow by almost four times to over 46 GW by 2020 and then more than double to over 108 GW within the next ten years.

Image via k c m (Flickr)/CC

The views presented in the above article are author's personal views only.

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New French President Chooses Hybrid Limo

Posted: 13 May 2012 07:00 AM PDT

 
And who wouldn’t?…

Looks like the newly elected French president, Francois Hollande, will be taking the country in a different direction, starting with the limo that will drive him around. Here’s more from Chris DeMorro of sister site Gas2:



Newly Elected French Prez Wants Hybrid Limo (via Gas 2.0)

Last week's French Presidential elections saw the incumbent, Nicolas Sarkozy, deposed in favor of his socialist competitor Francois Hollande. Among the many perks Hollande will soon enjoy is his choice of presidential limos. Hollande has named the Citroen DS5 diesel-hybrid as his preferred limo,…


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With Canal Hydropower, Still Waters Make Electricity

Posted: 13 May 2012 05:28 AM PDT

hydropower can be scavenged from canals like thisA modest-looking canal hydropower project in Oregon could be the start of the next big thing in alternative energy in the U.S. Instead of requiring the construction of a new dam, the new Klamath Irrigation District“C-Drop” project scavenges power from an existing canal system. It’s a relatively cheap, painless way to provide affordable, sustainable energy to rural communities, so what’s not to like?

Sustainable hydropower in the U.S.A.

Reclaiming hydropower from pre-built environments has been a focus of the Obama Administration’s sustainable energy initiatives, though until this spring it got little notice. That all changed last year when the Department of the Interior found that scores of sites at its canals in the Western U.S. could potentially be retrofitted generate hydropower.

Just last month, DOI announced that it found scores of additional sites, for a total of more than 1.5 million megawatt hours annually (enough to power 30,000 homes) in potential canal-based hydropower.

The Department of Energy has also found that an extra 12 gigawatts of power could be ours for the taking by retrofitting existing dams, with makes canal hydropower look like a drop in the bucket.

However, canal hydropower could still make a huge difference to relatively small, remote communities and agricultural areas.

The Klamath C-Drop project

The C-Drop project involves harvesting the energy from an existing waterfall formed when water flows between two canals in the Klamath District, from A-Canal to C-Canal. Rather than building a dam or other water storage to provide steady pressure to the turbines, the turbines will adjust automatically as the routine flow of the canal changes.

Benefits of hydrokinetic power

The basic difference between the C-Drop project and conventional hydropower is the design of a hydrokinetic system, which relies simply on the ambient flow of water rather than storing pressure behind a dam.

Without a dam or other storage system, very little about the canal ecosystem will change. Temperature, nutrients, pH and other characteristics will vary only as much as they normally do in the canal.

The turbine could result in a temporary lowering of oxygen levels in the water, since it will reduce the turbulence of the waterfall, but an existing screen on A-Canal already prevents most fish from entering, so little impact on aquatic life in the canal is predicted.

An environmental impact statement also noted that any existing canal leakage that feeds into nearby wetlands would continue as always.

More hydro, more green jobs

In addition to existing dams and canals, hydrokinetic turbines could also piggyback on other built environments like wastewater treatment plants and food processing plants.

There are clearly some growth opportunities here, and the Obama Administration has already lent a big assist to the hydrokinetic power industry. In 2010, the Department of Energy provided funding for Tulane University to kick off a hydrokinetic test bed at its Mississippi River Riversphere project, which is designed to provide private companies with a reliable, affordable platform for testing new turbines in real conditions.

Image: A canal in Oregon, Gary Halvorson, Oregon State Archives.

Follow me on Twitter: @TinaMCasey.

 

 

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Chevy’s Smallest Car to Hit US Markets Ever — Chevy Spark

Posted: 13 May 2012 04:00 AM PDT

 
People seem increasingly aware of the high (and often useless) cost of owning large vehicles. Whether switching to bikes, buses, electric vehicles, or smaller cars, people are making changes in their lives to get around more efficiently. So, it’s no surprise Chevrolet is about to offer its smallest vehicle to date in US markets (as well as an electric version of it in unnamed markets in 2013). More from Andrew Meggison of Gas2:



The Smallest Chevrolet Ever Offered In The USA (via Gas 2.0)

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Microsoft Implements Cap & Trade to Cut CO2

Posted: 12 May 2012 08:08 PM PDT

bill-gates-microsoft-cap-&-trade-co2

Bill Gates has started to notice that the climate is a potential problem.”We need energy miracles” he said at TED. “The microprocessor and internet are miracles. This is a case where we have to drive and get the miracle in a short timeline.”

It’s always encouraging when someone with the power and reach to make real change gets it. Maybe his epiphany is why – with no filibuster obstructing progress -Microsoft has just announced that it will adopt an internal carbon price within each of the business units of the company beginning next year to help drive money in the direction of the miracles.

More than $10 million in clean energy investment could be the result, according to Robert Bernard, the company's chief environmental strategist, quoted at Point Carbon.[PDF]

Microsoft will charge its business units that overshoot a carbon emissions level, and use the proceeds to buy renewable energy or emissions offsets (such as the Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) that utilities must buy if they are unable to meet mandated targets)

Emissions generated from its business units spanning 100 countries, through data centers, software development labs, offices and employee air travel must be balanced by investment in renewable energy or by buying credits for renewable energy produced by others.

Microsoft will use CO2 management software from the Australian company CarbonSystems to measure and manage its carbon emissions.

It will source credits from U.S.-based low-carbon energy marketer Sterling Planet, which deals in renewable energy certificates (RECs) and voluntary credits.

In its suggestions for how businesses can cut their carbon footprint, Sterling Planet emphasizes energy efficiency and buying certified renewable power from utilities. Other possible direct carbon cutting investments would include new renewable energy projects including wind farms and methane-capture facilities, and methane-capture-powered fuel cells to power data centers.

"By charging an internal fee for carbon emissions to the business groups responsible for incurring the emissions, we will build an investment fund that can be used for a variety of renewable energy and offset projects," says Microsoft.

Microsoft is aiming to cut its CO2 emissions by 30 percent below 2007 levels before the end of this year. That means just six months to meet that deadline. By the end of next fiscal year, June 2013, Microsoft plans to be carbon neutral.

Stay tuned.

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Driving a Hydrogen Fuel Cell Mercedes at EVS26

Posted: 12 May 2012 03:43 PM PDT

 
Here’s another post from Susanna from EVS26, her notes and video on driving a hydrogen fuel cell Mercedes there:



Driving the Hydrogen Fuel Cell Mercedes | EVS26 (via Gas 2.0)

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Electric APE — Sweet!

Posted: 12 May 2012 03:19 PM PDT

 
No, not the animal, but the beauty pictured in the article below — an electric version of one of my favorite vehicles (via Jo Borras of sister site Gas2):



Super Amazing Electric APE Clone Makes Me Super Happy (via Gas 2.0)

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Carbon Capture and Storage Growth Stalled in 2011

Posted: 12 May 2012 03:08 PM PDT

 

New Worldwatch Institute report discusses the future of carbon capture and storage technology.

Washington, D.C.—Funding for carbon capture and storage technology, a tool for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, remained unchanged at US$23.5 billion in 2011 in comparison to the previous year, according to a new report from the Worldwatch Institute. Although there are currently 75 large-scale, fully-integrated carbon capture and storage projects in 17 countries at various stages of development, only eight are currently operational—a figure that has not changed since 2009

Carbon capture and storage, more commonly known as CCS, refers to the technology that attempts to capture carbon dioxide from its anthropogenic source—often industry and power generation systems—and then store it in permanent geologic reservoirs so that it never enters the atmosphere. The United States is the leading funder of large-scale CCS projects, followed by the European Union and Canada. The new Worldwatch report, part of the Institute's Vital Signs Online series of analyses of environmentally related trends and data, discusses a number of new CCS projects and facilities throughout the world. Among these is the Century Plant in the United States, which began operating in 2010.

"Although CCS technology has the potential to significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions—particularly when used in greenhouse gas intensive coal plants—developing the CCS sector to the point that it can make a serious contribution to emissions reduction will require large-scale investment," said report author and Worldwatch Sustainable Energy Fellow, Matthew Lucky.

Today, the total storage capacity of all active and planned large-scale CCS projects is equivalent to only about 0.5 percent of the emissions from energy production in 2010. "Capacity will have to be increased several times over before CCS can begin to make a serious dent in global emissions," said Lucky.

The prospects for future development and application of CCS technology will likely be influenced by a number of factors, the report explains. Last March the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency imposed regulations on CO2 emissions from power plants. As a result, U.S. power producers will soon be unable to build traditional coal plants without carbon control capabilities (including CCS). The technology will therefore likely become increasingly important as power producers adjust to the new regulations.

Globally, an international regulatory framework for CCS is developing slowly and the technology has been addressed in international climate negotiations. Its classification as a Clean Development Mechanism—a mechanism created through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate change to allow industrialized countries to gain credit for emissions reductions they achieve through funding development projects in developing countries—has raised objections, however, from those who argue that it risks prolonging the use carbon-intensive industries.

"CCS technology is worth exploring as one of a large array of potential strategies for slowing the buildup of CO2 in the atmosphere," said Worldwatch president Robert Engelman. "But as this report demonstrates, right now there's little progress in realizing this potential. A technology capable of permanently sequestering large amounts of carbon will be expensive, and so far the world's markets and governments haven't assigned much value to carbon or to the prevention of human-caused climate change. Ultimately, that will be needed for progress in CCS development and implementation."

Further highlights:

  • There are now 7 large-scale CCS plants currently under construction, bringing the total annual storage capacity of operating and under constructions plants to 34.97 million tons of carbon dioxide a year.
  • According to the International Energy Agency, an additional $2.5–3 trillion will need to be invested in CCS between 2010 and 2050 to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by mid-century.
  • On average, $5–6.5 billion a year will need to be invested in CCS globally until 2020 for the development of this technology.
  • About 76 percent of global government funding for large-scale CCS has been allocated to power generation projects.

Purchase the full report here.

Image: coal power plant via Shutterstock

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