- Top 10 Bicycling States in the US Are…
- Keystone XL Would Increase Gas Prices, Study Finds
- Cleantech News Roundup (Solar, Wind, EV, Geothermal, Biogas, Hydro, & More)
- Pedal-Powered Lives & Businesses: 5 Top Stories
- South Africa 2nd Round Renewable Energy Auction: 19 Awards Totaling 1.044 GW
- Americans Say Fuel Economy Primary Car Buying Factor, Says Consumer Reports Survey
- Tesla Motors to Start Delivering Model S on June 22
- 14 US Wind Energy Leaders Meet at White House over Call to Extend Wind Production Tax Credit before Congress Goes on Summer Recess
- 25 State Legislators Urge PUC to Protect Solar Industry
- Maryland Does Good by Solar Energy & 10,000 Potential Jobs
Posted: 23 May 2012 05:10 AM PDT
Washington is again the top state in the nation in these rankings, followed by Minnesota (2), Massachusetts (3), Colorado (4), Oregon (5), Wisconsin (6), New Jersey (7), Maryland (8), Maine (9), and Delaware (10).
"People in the Pacific Northwest embrace bicycling as part of a lifestyle that honors the environment, healthier living and transportation choices," said Washington Governor Christine Gregoire. "This title once again confirms that we're on the right track, supporting bicycling as a transportation option in our communities."
"We are encouraged to see significant progress in top states like Washington, Minnesota, Colorado and Massachusetts," said Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists. "But, as the scores clearly highlight, there's much work to be done in critical areas like infrastructure and funding. Overall, we see states — and especially state Departments of Transportation and state legislatures — lagging behind cities and the expectations of local cyclists, despite the many well-documented benefits of a more active lifestyle."
Of course, within many states not performing so well on the above ranking, there are pockets of bicycle-friendly communities. I helped get Charlottesville, VA a Bicycle Friendly Community award when I lived there, and a North Carolina city where I live, Carrboro, also has one. Additionally, one of only three Platinum-level Bicycle Friendly Communities is Davis, California and three other California cities are at the prestigious Gold level. But, apparently, those states as a whole aren’t all that bicycle friendly yet.
Posted: 23 May 2012 04:54 AM PDT
American drivers will face higher gasoline prices if the Keystone XL Tar Sands pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico were built, according to a new analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council.
That finding adds to the long list of reasons why the proposed pipeline should not be built, said the study, released today.
"The pipeline's proponents say it's the solution to high gas prices. The truth is exactly the opposite —the pipeline would raise gas prices,'' said Anthony Swift, NRDC attorney. "This is one of the most misunderstood issues surrounding this misguided Canadian project."
If built, the Keystone XL pipeline daily would transport up to 830,000 barrels of the world's dirtiest oil through America's heartlands and breadbasket—diverting oil from Midwestern refineries, which now produce more gasoline per barrel than any other region in the United States.
"The result would be less gasoline for American drivers—and higher prices at the pump,'' Swift said.
The proposed pipeline would turbo-charge U.S. gas prices by increasing the prices that Midwestern refineries pay for crude oil—a fact that TransCanada, the company seeking to build the pipeline, has confirmed.
Today Midwestern refineries buy crude oil at deep discounts, allowing them to produce gasoline far more cheaply than they could otherwise. Keystone XL would change that, the study said.
"The oil industry is increasingly looking to lucrative international diesel markets to increase its profits," said Lorne Stockman, Research Director at Oil Change International, "Keystone XL sends tar sands crude to refineries that are maximizing diesel production for export – and that means less gasoline for U.S. consumers."
And based on TransCanada's own analysis, under current market conditions Keystone XL would add $20 to $40 to the cost of a barrel of Canadian crude – adding tens of billions to the cost of oil throughout the United States.
"Tar sands producers mislead the public into thinking these pipelines benefit consumers while instead these pipelines are just massive profit machines for the big oil companies." said Tzeporah Berman, co-Founder of Forest Ethics.
"America does not need the Keystone XL pipeline–and does not need all the attendant harms that it would do to our air, our lands, our waters and our climate,'' Swift said. “The solutions to our energy needs lie in reducing our demand for oil, increasing fuel efficiency standards, and eliminating subsidies for the oil and gas industry."
Find the report here: http://www.nrdc.org/energy/keystone-pipeline/higher-oil-prices.asp
This post was originally published on the NRDC website.
Posted: 23 May 2012 04:37 AM PDT
Kyocera Solar to supply 34 MW of solar panels for utility-scale solar project: Kyocera “has begun shipments of 34 megawatts (MW) of its U.S.-made solar modules for a 127MW, utility-scale photovoltaic (PV) installation in southwestern Arizona. Production of the modules for this large-scale project will continue through March 2013.”
Sunrain hits Shanghai Stock Exchange: “As the worldwide leader in the solar thermal industry, Sunrain aims to build a world famous brand…. Being the first company to be listed in China in the solar thermal industry, Sunrain will gain attention when it comes to energy conservation and the capital market.”
Solar-powered boat competition wraps up: students from 39 California high schools get honored for their participation in the nation’s largest solar-powered boat competition.
Solar leasing/loan in UK: “Innovative financing model to offer households and businesses the chance to deploy ‘pay-as-you-save’ solar panels.”
Dominion Virginia Power proposes rates to encourage solar adoption: “In a filing with the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC), the company is seeking permission to buy solar-generated electricity from residential and small commercial customers at 15 cents per kilowatt-hour for a five-year demonstration period. The demonstration project would be limited to 3 megawatts total, or 3,000 kilowatts.”
SoCalGas advancing new solar technology: “To help accelerate the commercialization of new technology that uses the sun’s energy rather than the electric grid or natural gas to power air-conditioning systems while co-producing renewable electricity, Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) has launched a multi-year demonstration of an advanced concentrated solar cogeneration system to benefit businesses and the region.
“The uniquely designed solar thermal technology, installed at SoCalGas’ Energy Resource Center in Downey, Calif., uses mirrors and a tracking system to capture the sun’s energy and focus the sunlight onto an array of photovoltaic solar collectors to produce electricity and hot water at the same time. The solar-heated hot water is used in place of electricity or natural gas to power an air conditioning process to provide 10 tons of cooling, or enough air conditioning to cool two average-sized homes.”
Jinko Solar to provide 50 MW of solar panels for Chinese project: “it will provide modules for a 50 megawatt (MW) solar project operated by state-owned renewable energy development company GSHHSD in northwestern China. Expected to come online within the year, the project marks a key contribution to China’s renewable energy production goal of 15 gigawatts (GW) by 2015.”
Loan completed for 20-MW solar project in Arizona: “The North American Development Bank (NADB) and SunEdison, a leading worldwide solar energy services provider and subsidiary of MEMC Electronic Materials, Inc., have signed a US$65 million loan agreement for the construction of a 20-megawatt (MWAC) solar park in Picture Rocks, Arizona.”
China Sunergy delivers 5 MW of solar panels to Bulgaria: the company has “completed delivery of 5MW in solar modules to Bulgaria for the Yerussalimovo Solar Park. The modules were sold to Mitsubishi International GmbH and are being installed and managed by Helios Power.”
Honey launches 3rd-generation film to protect solar panels: Honeywell “has introduced its third-generation laminate film designed to protect solar power panels from harsh environments while helping them maintain power output over their 25-year lifespans.
“The product, PowerShield® 3W, is a cost-effective backsheet for photovoltaic panels that helps protect the electrical circuits in solar panel modules, preventing moisture from entering the module and keeping electrical charges within the module. These features help the module retain maximum power output while maintaining electrical safety.”
Suntech introduces new 60-cell module: “Suntech Power Holdings Co., Ltd. (NYSE: STP), the world’s largest producer of solar panels, will introduce a new compact frame design for its popular 60-cell W-Series module at Intersolar Munich. The new slim and lightweight module format is easier to install, lowers shipment costs, and reduces the product’s carbon footprint.
“The sleek frame design will be utilized on Suntech’s new W-Series 260W modules, each with 60, six-inch monocrystalline cells that together achieve up to 16% module-level conversion efficiency. The 1640 x 992 x 35 mm module is one of the most powerful in its class and ideally suited for Europe’s robust residential solar market.”
Solar Junction receives 5-MW order: “Solar Junction, a developer of high efficiency multi-junction solar energy cells for the concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) market, announced [this week] an agreement with SolFocus for a 5-megawatt order.”
Posted: 23 May 2012 04:00 AM PDT
The Pedal Powered Business: Turning Human Power into Profit (via sustainablog)
Pedal powered business – we've done that before. From food delivery to recycling pick-up to musical tours, we've seen multiple examples of businesses that use bicycles as their sole means of transportation. But the energy transferred from biker to bike doesn't necessarily have to create forward…
Posted: 23 May 2012 03:41 AM PDT
The South African government on May 21 awarded renewable energy contracts with a total capacity of 1,043.9 MW as it named the preferred bidders of a second-round Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Program (REIPPP) auction. Nineteen project bids were accepted: 9 solar photovoltaic (PV) projects with a total 417.1 MW; 7 wind power projects totaling 562.5 MW; 2 small hydro projects totaling 14.3 MW; and 1 concentrating solar PV project of 50 MW.
The South African government expects to award renewable energy contracts with a total maximum capacity of 3.725 gigawatts (GW) over the five-stage course of the Renewable Energy IPP Program. This week’s announcement of preferred project bidders is part of the second round of the SAR100 billion (~$12 billion) REIPPP.
Second-round auction bids to develop 79 renewable energy projects with a total 3.2 GW of capacity were submitted to South Africa’s Dept. of Energy to develop renewable energy projects in “Window 2″ of the REIPPP, the bidding window for which closed March 5. While 51 met the RFP (Request for Proposals) criteria, only 19 were selected due to a cap on the electricity generation capacity to be awarded.
Renewable Energy Transition Key to Spurring Economy, Job Creation, Protecting the Environment
A lack of sufficient, reliable electricity generating capacity has been plaguing South Africa’s economy, while heavy reliance on coal to generate electricity brings all the financially unaccounted-for environmental and health costs and risks associated with coal-fired power plants. As a developing country, South Africa is one of the biggest emitters of carbon dioxide (CO2) and greenhouse gases (GHGs) in both absolute and per-capita terms. At the same time, high un- and under-employment continues to be a chronic social and economic problem.
South Africa is richly endowed when it comes to potential renewable energy resources, however. The SA government has come around to the view that encouraging, and actively supporting, a shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy resources can go a long way toward meeting its social, economic and environmental challenges. Encouragingly, that’s a viewpoint that developing economies around the world are coming round to, particularly as emerging market economies are the primary drivers underlying actual and forecast growing global fossil fuel demand.
The SA government’s Integrated Energy and Integrated Resource Plans lay out the overarching strategy for South Africa to start a transition to clean, renewable energy and address critical social, economic and environmental problems.
The Renewable Energy IPP Program is central to reaching SA’s renewable energy and IRP goals. The government has set targets of producing 10,000 GW-hours of electricity from renewable energy sources by 2013, and installing 17.8 GW of renewable power capacity by 2030, less than 10% of its forecast total.
In addition to avoiding the CO2 and GHG emissions, land, water pollution and environmental degradation associated with using fossil fuels to generate electricity, Renewable Energy IPP Program bids must meet mandatory local content provisions, which the government has included to motivate project developers to build renewable energy manufacturing facilities in the country. This, along with development and growth of downstream renewable energy businesses, such as installation and service providers, as well as ancillary service providers, is expected to provide a significant boost to job creation.
2nd Round Auction Puts SA Renewable Energy Plan on Firmer Track
Valued at more than SAR 28 billion (~$3.34 billion), the 19 renewable energy project developments awarded Monday are projected to result in the creation of nearly 7,400 jobs. Nearly SAR11.8 billion of the total SAR28.06 billion in renewable energy project value is to be of local content.
Some 1,165.9 MW of Renewable Energy IPP Program’s planned large-scale renewable energy project capacity remains unallocated. Breaking this out, 798.9 MW of a total 1,850 MW of onshore wind capacity, 256 MW of a total 1,450 MW of solar PV, and 60.7 MW out of a total 75 MW allocated for small hydro projects have yet to be awarded.
South Africa’s Nedbank Capital is a partner in 39% of the 19 renewable energy projects slated for development as a result of the second-round REIPPP auction awards, according to a Creamer Media Engineering News report.
The latest Renewable Energy IPP Program awards “would go a long way towards easing any lingering doubts about the South African government's commitment to its Integrated Resource Plan, which outlines the deployment of some 17 000 MW of renewable capacity by 2030,” Nedbank Capital's infrastructure, energy and telecoms head Mike Peo was quoted as saying.
Posted: 22 May 2012 08:54 PM PDT
Call it a case of bad gas, bad gas prices, or both. It’s a familiar story: Any time fuel prices approach near record levels, American consumers tend to drive less and start serious discussions about buying smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles. So says a recent survey by Consumer Reports.
According to the survey, 37 percent of those responding said their leading consideration when shopping for their next car will be fuel economy. A distant second was quality (17 percent) followed by safety (16 percent), value (14 percent) and performance (6 percent).
“These results make it clear that high fuel prices are continuing to impact driver behavior and influencing future purchase considerations,” said Jeff Bartlett, Consumer Reports deputy auto editor. ”While quality, safety and value are still important, this may be foreshadowing a market shift by folks seeking relief at the pump.”
Similar consumer behavior existed the last time gasoline prices rose higher than $4.00 a gallon. However, when gas prices dropped, larger vehicles regained their popularity.
As for the issue of gas mileage, some two-thirds of owners surveyed expected their next vehicle to get better fuel mileage than the one they’re currently driving. While gasoline costs were the primary reason cited for wanting a more fuel-efficient vehicle, over half of respondents cited other reasons, including a desire to be more environmentally friendly (62 percent) and a concern about dependence on foreign oil (56 percent).
For more information regarding Consumer Reports’ fuel economy survey, visit its Guide to fuel economy.
The survey also reported that owners were open to different ways of saving at the pump, from downsizing to looking at hybrids, electric cars, or models with diesel engines. Significantly, nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of participants said they would consider some type of alternatively fueled vehicle, with flex-fuel, which can run on E85 ethanol (methanol, or M85, once very popular in California, was not mentioned in the survey) and hybrid models at the top of the list. Not surprisingly, younger buyers were more likely to consider an alternative fuel or electric vehicle than drivers over the age of 55.
Of note, owners of large SUVs (once extremely popular) were the most open to downsizing, frequently planning to move to a smaller SUV. Small cars were the leading category targeted by survey respondents for their next vehicle, followed by larger sedans and mid-sized SUVs. Further illuminating a future market shift, larger sedans (18 percent) and minivans (7 percent) are on fewer participants’ radar relative to their current model.
The Consumer Reports National Research Center conducted the random, nationwide telephone survey in two waves, April 5-7 and April 12-15, 2012, contacting 2,009 adults. The Center interviewed 1,702 adults in households that had at least one car.
Posted: 22 May 2012 04:06 PM PDT
Tesla Motors announced today that it would start customer deliveries of the Model S on June 22. The long-awaited electric sedan for those with more money (and needs) than me will first roll out to certain select customers “at an invitation-only event at the Tesla Factory in Fremont, California,” the company stated.
Originally, deliveries of the Model S were to start in July, so this June announcement is a pleasant surprise (again, mostly for a few rich folks,… but also for all of us EV lovers around the world).
"In 2006 our plan was to build an electric sports car followed by an affordable electric sedan, and reduce our dependence on oil," said Elon Musk, Tesla Motors CEO and Chief Product Architect. "Delivering Model S is a key part of that plan and represents Tesla's transition to a mass-production automaker and the most compelling car company of the 21st century."
If you’re new to the Model S, here’s a brief summary of the car from the folks most in the know:
In addition to customer deliveries, Model S test drive events will be launched in July in a variety of North American cities.
Overall, Tesla intends to deliver 5,000 vehicles by the end of the year. Over 10,000 are already reserved.
Other than the Tesla Model S, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV (above), another all-electric vehicle, is hitting a lot of people’s homes in June (it is available nationwide next month). The i-MiEV has been named 'The Greenest Vehicle of 2012′ by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy and it gets a 112 combined MPGe, while the Model S gets a similar 108 combined MPGe. (Note: you can still enter the $200 Whole Foods giveaway from Mitsubishi i via that link above.)
Of course, while these are both pioneering EVs, they are also quite different. The MSRP for the standard ED model of the i-MiEV is $21,625 after the federal tax credit, and the net MSRP for the SE version after the federal tax credit is $23,625 (these prices could be lower in states and cities with more EV incentives). The Model S, on the other hand, ranges in price from $49,900 to $97,900 (after the federal tax credit). And, of course, the qualities and features of the cars vary a great deal.
In my opinion, it’s just great to see a variety of clean EVs making it to market now. Here are some more Model S pics for us all to drool over:
Posted: 22 May 2012 03:22 PM PDT
by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA)
WASHINGTON – Two Cabinet secretaries met with 14 leaders of the U.S. wind manufacturing, construction, and development sectors at the White House today, advancing a bipartisan effort to extend the wind energy Production Tax Credit before Congress recesses for the summer, and retain 75,000 U.S. jobs.
A bipartisan coalition has been raising this issue since late last year as an urgent need for action by Congress, including for example Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Reps. Dave Reichert (R-WA), Steve King (R-IA), and Tom Latham (R-IA), as well as a bipartisan group of 23 governors, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers, the American Farm Bureau, and the Edison Electric Institute.
Extension of the tax credit appears on a "To-Do List" for Congress and the Administration to act on by August to create jobs and help the middle class.
Industry leaders explained that the extension is urgent to keep its 75,000 jobs, a new U.S. manufacturing sector, and over $15 billion a year in private investment. The industry is in the midst of preparations for the world's largest annual wind event, the WINDPOWER 2012 Conference and Exposition, June 3-6 in Atlanta.
President Obama will tour a wind blade factory in Newton, Iowa, this Thursday, where over 700 people got jobs after Maytag closed a factory there.
"With both President Obama and members of Congress covering the whole political spectrum supporting the wind tax credit to keep U.S. manufacturing jobs, it shows there's a real chance of getting it done in time to keep this homegrown industry growing in America," said Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, who was present at today's meeting.
The wind PTC has attracted support this year from a broad cross-section of Congress, including 21 House Republican cosponsors, and a number of Republican Senators.
Today's meeting was attended by White House energy adviser Heather Zichal, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, and Deputy Director of the National Economic Council Brian Deese.
Present for the industry were: John Purcell, Leeco Steel Vice President, Energy Division; Susan Reilly RES Americas CEO; Stefan Nilsson, DMI Industries President; Terry Royer, Winergy Drive Systems CEO; Mark Albenze, Siemens Energy Inc. CEO; Steve Trenholm, E.ON Climate Change & Renewables CEO; Doug Fredrickson, Blattner Energy, Inc. Executive Vice President for Renewables; Victor Abate, GE Energy, Vice President-Renewables; Ned Hall, The AES Corporation, COO for Global Generation and Executive Vice President; Joseph Baker, Acciona Windpower North America CEO; Armando Pimentel, NextEra Energy, Inc. President & CEO; Rob Gramlich, AWEA Senior Vice President for Public Policy, as well as Bode.
"Young people flocked to wind energy jobs over the past decade because they see the promise of a bright career that also means doing something to create a new and better future," said NRG Systems' Blittersdorf afterward. "We know those jobs are at risk now, and those of us employing these bright young people don’t want to see them leave or get discouraged."
In the past five years of bipartisan policy stability, American wind power has created one of the largest providers of new American electric generation, with 35% of all new power capacity, right behind natural gas. A typical wind turbine now generates 30% more electricity, while driving down costs. "Wind power is American ingenuity and entrepreneurship at work," Bode said.
A critical part of the equation are nearly 500 new American manufacturing facilities with 30,000 workers in the wind energy supply chain from coast to coast, whose orders for 2013 now hang on the tax credit's extension. The Production Tax Credit hasn't been allowed to expire since 2005. "This is what successful policy looks like when it's working," Bode said.
Unless extended by Congress, however, it next expires at the end of 2012. "Wind projects typically have an 18- to 24-month development cycle. So effectively the PTC is already expiring," said Bode. "That is why an extension is urgently needed now. We can't afford to wait until the PTC runs out."
Layoffs are beginning across the industry because of that uncertainty, with 10,000 jobs lost expected by year's end, and 37,000 jobs lost predicted within a year by Navigant Consulting.
On the other hand, Navigant said that with predictable policies, wind could grow to 100,000 jobs by 2016; and, the U.S. Department of Energy predicted in 2007 that wind could support 500,000 jobs by 2030.
"Extending the PTC already has broad bipartisan support, but Congress and the President need to act," Bode said. "Let us finish the job of creating this industry."
Image: White House via Shutterstock
Posted: 22 May 2012 03:08 PM PDT
SACRAMENTO — In a strong letter sent to the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) released today, 25 state legislators are urging the agency to enact its proposed decision on “net metering” that will allow the state’s solar industry to continue its record growth. The PUC is expected to vote Thursday on a proposed decision by PUC Chairman Michael Peevey recalculating net metering that will result in the addition of 2.1 gigawatts of solar energy to the state’s grid from rooftop solar systems.
"The CPUC's Proposed Decision does NOT change the 5% statutory cap on net energy metering; rather it provides direction to our state IOUs on the statutorily appropriate methodology for calculation," the letter states. "The Decision will provide the time necessary for the Commission to complete an updated study on the benefits and costs of net energy metering to properly inform future actions by the Commission or the Legislature."
"Most importantly, we are at a tipping point relating to the affordability and accessibility of solar systems for all types of ratepayers in the state. Currently, school districts, state agencies, local governments, dairies, farms and wineries, irrigation districts, small and large businesses, new production housing and existing homes look to solar to fix their monthly energy costs," the legislators write. "Without this Decision, we could lose the important progress that has been made in lowering solar costs and expanding solar access to business and public sector customers and low and middle-income residents."
The letter was signed by:
Posted: 22 May 2012 12:09 PM PDT
WASHINGTON – Today, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signed into law the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard for Solar Energy and Solar Water Heating Systems bill (Senate Bill 791 and House Bill 1187), which accelerates the target date for achieving the state’s renewable portfolio standard two-percent solar carve-out by two years and ensures the industry maintains positive, year over year job growth. This bill will create 10,000 new local jobs between now and 2018, with a strong concentration in an industry that needs jobs the most – the construction industry. The legislation is designed to keep the local industry from experiencing the cycles of boom and bust that have hurt sustained growth in neighboring states.
“This is an important victory for Maryland’s quickly emerging solar energy market,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “The state’s RPS policy has worked. We’ve seen a dramatic decline in the cost of solar energy, rapid job growth and tens of millions of dollars in economic expansion. But a potential market distortion would dramatically constrain growth of solar in Maryland.
“With passage of this bill, the state’s solar market will grow in an economically sustainable way that protects consumers while continuing to create jobs and new investment. We thank Delegate Sally Jameson and Senator Rob Garagiola for their leadership in moving this bill across the finish line, as well as members of House Economic Matters and Senate Finance Committees.”
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