- Swap-O-Matic (Cool.)
- Sahara Forest to Have Solar-Powered Greenhouses Soon?
- History of Solar Cells in a Nifty Interactive Timeline
- Did Fukushima Just Increase the Inevitable Decline of Nuclear Power?
- A Level Playing Field Cuts Both Ways: Why We Should Encourage More Chinese Investment In U.S. Clean Energy
- Solar Buyer’s Guide (VIDEO)
- Solar Power Can Double Pumped Hydro Output (Nice)
- Cleantech News: Top Gear Racetrack Goes Solar; Largest REC Solar Power Project in India Registered; Hawaii Wind Farms Move Along; Fisker Doing Well…
- Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory & CalCEF Team Up to Boost Battery Industry in California
- Al Gore & Van Jones Tell It Like It Is (Regarding Wind Energy & Jobs)
- Perspectives on the Geothermal Energy Association Showcase in DC
- Monitoring and Reducing Energy Drain by Data Centers
Posted: 29 May 2012 07:53 AM PDT
Crowdfunding Platform: Swap-O-Matic Aims to Become A Mascot of The New Sharing Economy (via Ecopreneurist)
Project: SWAP-O-MATIC What is your project all about? The Swap-O-Matic is a vending machine that allows users to swap and trade, rather than buy. It's currently located at Ample Hills Creamery, an ice cream shop in Brooklyn, NY. Each of the donated items in the machine is free and there is no…
Posted: 29 May 2012 07:42 AM PDT
It seems the project is moving along still. So I thought I’d drop this quick update in here with one of the latest videos on the project, which I ran across on sister site Blue Living Ideas recently:
Posted: 29 May 2012 07:06 AM PDT
Posted: 29 May 2012 06:45 AM PDT
Fukushima Meltdown Hastens Decline of Nuclear Power (via sustainablog)
By J. Matthew Roney On May 5, 2012, Japan shut down its Tomari 3 nuclear reactor on the northern island of Hokkaido for inspection, marking the first time in over 40 years that the country had not a single nuclear power plant generating electricity. The March 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and subsequent…
Posted: 29 May 2012 06:36 AM PDT
Chinese capital is finally flowing into the U.S. clean energy market. Chinese direct investment in the U.S. clean energy economy has grown from just $4 million annually in 2006 to over $260 million in 2011. That increase is attracting attention, and not all of it is positive.
[Last week] Third Way released a report concluding that U.S. private-sector investors are losing interest in investing at home due to the fickle American policy environment, leaving Chinese companies to fill the gap. The report's authors worry that increasing Chinese participation in the U.S. clean energy market will "dramatically hamper U.S. companies' ability to compete" and "slow economic growth and American leadership."
Rather than welcome Chinese direct investments as job-creating, there is a tendency here in the United States to take a zero-sum view and assume that Chinese enterprise successes in this country are not good for American competitiveness. Last month, when China's ENN Group announced plans to build a massive solar power R&D, manufacturing, and generation complex in Clark County Nevada, some U.S. commentators suggested that the ENN facility would force solar panel prices down even further and drive U.S. firms into bankruptcy.
When it comes to the U.S. clean energy market, Chinese companies must feel like they cannot catch a break.
Over the past few months, many voices in the United States—myself included—have called for stronger U.S. trade enforcement vis-à-vis China, particularly in clean energy manufacturing. It appears that in at least some cases, Chinese manufacturing companies may be breaking global trade rules. If that is true, then U.S. policymakers have to do a better job protecting American companies and making sure WTO-illegal trade behavior does not erode U.S. competitiveness in this sector.
Playing by the rules goes both ways, however. If Chinese companies are willing to come over to the U.S. market and compete on an equal playing field, we should welcome that with open arms, not with knee-jerk protectionism.
Chinese competition is not the problem. As long as the field is level, U.S. companies can handle the competition. And if we open up new clean energy opportunities here in the U.S., ideally that will give the Chinese companies that are willing to play by the rules a pathway for opting in to our rules-based system. If those companies are successful, that success will be a positive contributor to the U.S. market, and it may also help convince Chinese leaders that heavy government subsidization is not the best pathway forward toward Chinese clean energy success.
In reality, the real problem isn't that Chinese companies are investing too much in U.S. clean energy technologies. The real problem is that they are not investing enough.
The United States does not have a clear policy framework on foreign direct investment. That makes our market difficult to traverse, and that means that in many cases, the only Chinese firms that can succeed here are the well-connected state-owned enterprises who are much more interested in fossil fuels than clean energy.
Growth rates for Chinese clean energy investments in the United States only look impressive when viewed in isolation. When you compare those numbers to the numbers for fossil fuels, clean energy is still just a drop in the bucket. In 2011, for example, China invested just under $2 billion USD in American fossil fuel sectors. Most of those investments went toward U.S. shale gas assets. The $260 million that went toward clean energy projects pales in comparison.
If we want to accelerate the clean energy market, we need to do more to level that playing field for U.S. and Chinese investors alike.
– Melanie Hart is an Analyst with Chinese Energy and Climate Policy at the Center for American Progress.
Posted: 29 May 2012 06:22 AM PDT
Posted: 29 May 2012 06:17 AM PDT
Here’s a little more info on this from KMB48:
Now, Japan, which is putting full blast on renewable energy, has a lot of pumped hydro and is likely to see a similar trend occur. “Cheap solar power during afternoon peaks could double the number of pumped hydro cycles from one to two times per day” in Japan, KMB48 adds.
This is one of those rather hidden but huge benefits of large-scale solar power implementation.
Thank to the reader who passed this one on to me!
Image Credit: Qurren
Posted: 29 May 2012 05:41 AM PDT
Hope you all enjoyed your 3-day weekend! (Well, those of you in the US.) Here’s some more top cleantech news from around:
eSolar and Sanmina-SCI Partner to Advance CSP: eSolar and Sanmina-SCI have “announced that they have partnered to leverage their respective expertise in solar thermal energy solutions, local content-optimized component design, and manufacturing to offer industry-leading cost and value for utility-scale power plants.
“eSolar, the leading provider of modular, scalable concentrating solar power (CSP) plant technology, and Sanmina-SCI, a leading integrated manufacturing services company that produces some of the world’s most complex products, will work to optimize eSolar’s solar collector system product offering – a system already deployed in operating CSP facilities.”
Speeding Up Solar Energy Storage Research by Improving the Search for Electrocatalytics: “…finding an efficient way to store solar energy is a major goal for science and society. Efforts today are focused on electrolysis reactions that use sunlight to convert water, carbon dioxide, or other abundant feedstocks into chemicals that can be stored for use any time.
“A key stumbling block, however, is finding inexpensive and readily available electrocatalysts that facilitate these solar-driven reactions. Now, that quest for catalysts may become much easier thanks to research led by Stahl and UW-Madison staff scientist James Gerken and their colleagues.
“Writing this week in the journal Angewandte Chemie, the Wisconsin group describes a new high-throughput method to identify electrocatalysts for water oxidation.”
Top Gear Race Track Goes Solar: “Best known as home to the BBC’s 'Top Gear’ race track, Dunsfold Park is attracting interest as the first business park in Surrey to be powered entirely by 'green energy.’ Lightsource Renewable Energy Limited installed 8,500 ground level solar panels at Dunsfold aerodrome.”
Largest Solar Power Project Under India’s REC Scheme Is Registered: “The largest solar power project under the Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) scheme has been granted the certificate of registration by the central nodal agency on 22 May 2012. The solar PV power project has a generation capacity of 8.5 MW owned by Jain Irrigation Systems Limited.”
First Wind’s 69-MW Kawailoa Wind Project on Oahu's North Shore Under Construction: “RMT, Inc. (RMT), a renewable energy engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor specializing in the design and construction of wind and solar energy generating facilities, has commenced heavy construction at First Wind's 69-MW Kawailoa Wind project on Oahu's North Shore.”
First Wind’s 21-MW KWP II Wind Project in Maui, Hawaii Completed: RMThas also ”completed final turbine erection and energized the electrical system at First Wind’s 21-MW KWP II Wind project in Maui, Hawaii, in early May.”
Axion Awarded $150,000 to Work on Commercialization Plan for PbC Batteries: “Axion Power International Inc (OTC Bulletin Board: AXPW), the developer of advanced lead-carbon PbC® batteries and energy storage systems, [has] announced that it has been awarded a $150,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to fund a commercialization plan for the use of its PbC batteries in a ’low-cost, high-efficiency’ dual battery architecture for micro-hybrid vehicles.”
EV Highway Enters Washington: “A ribbon-cutting event to celebrate the expansion of the West Coast Electric Highway in Washington State with the opening of charging stations along Interstate-5″ will take place tomorrow, May 30, at the Sehome Village Shopping Center in Bellingham, Washington.
Fisker Doing Better: “Fisker Automotive, the leading manufacturer of luxury Electric Vehicles with extended range (EVer™), today published its first business update by announcing that revenues had exceeded $100 million in the first four months of 2012,” the company noted today. “The company, which began deliveries of the Fisker Karma luxury four-door electric sedan in December 2011, also revealed that it has delivered 1000 vehicles to customers in the US and Europe.”
Biofuels Initiative Launched by Aviation Leaders: “United Airlines, Boeing, Honeywell's UOP, the Chicago Department of Aviation and the Clean Energy Trust have announced the launch of Midwest Aviation Sustainable Biofuels Initiative (MASBI). MASBI has been designed to advance aviation biofuel development in a 12-state region of the United States holding significant promise for biomass feedstock, technology development, job creation and sustainable commercialization.”
China to Spend$26.8 Billion on Domestic Energy Efficiency Markets: China has allocated 170 billion yuan (approx. $26.8 billion) for energy-saving measures in the domestic and industrial sector.
Sandia National Laboratories & DOE Launch Online Energy Storage Tool: “Partnering with DNV-KEMA, a global testing and consulting firm, Sandia is releasing Energy Storage Select, or ES-Select, software under a public license to the company. The tool makes it easier to conduct a quick, high-level analysis of energy storage options and determine the value of energy storage technologies for a specified application, which developers say will increase the adoption of energy storage technologies.”
Vote for Brighter Planet’s Sparkwire App: “The Department of Energy’s ‘Apps for Energy‘ challenge… has inspired scores of submissions from software developers across the country to build off the DOE’s new ‘Green Button‘ standard, which enables customers to access their energy usage data from their utilities. 15 utilities serving 27 million households have committed to using the Green Button.
“The spark we need is better integration. For most of these Green Button apps to work well, you have to log in to your utility account and manually download and import your latest energy usage data every time—a hassle that will keep most people from becoming regular users. This is where our own DOE challenge app, Sparkwire, comes in. You can connect any app to your energy usage data by just telling Sparkwire your utility site login once and letting it automatically import your most recent data whenever it’s needed. Sparkwire is designed to grease the gears of the energy app ecosystem, enabling the efficient flow of Green Button energy data from utilities to the many applications that rely on it, and making it easier all of us to enjoy the benefits of the smart grid.
“Please vote for Sparkwire (you don’t have to create an account, just sign in with Facebook or Twitter). You can also vote for other apps that Sparkwire will help make viable.”
Posted: 29 May 2012 04:18 AM PDT
Two great bodies, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and CalCEF, have teamed up to give battery production and development a big boost in California. Here’s the news release just a few minutes off the press:
SAN FRANCISCO and BERKELEY, Calif. – May 29, 2012 – CalCEF, which creates institutions and investment vehicles for the clean energy economy, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) today announced a partnership to launch CalCharge, a consortium uniting California's emerging and established battery technology companies with critical academic and government resources. By bringing together the dozens of battery companies and institutions in California working on applications for consumer electronics batteries, electric/hybrid vehicle transportation and the electric grid, Berkeley Lab, CalCEF, along with other Bay Area academic institutions, aim to create a regional ecosystem for innovation in energy storage that will not only jumpstart a new era of battery technologies but also help ensure that U.S. companies succeed in this highly competitive environment.
"The next decade will be critical for this industry and this region," said Berkeley Lab Director Paul Alivisatos. "With our highly regarded battery scientists and state-of-the-art equipment at Berkeley Lab, the CalCharge consortium will be able to leverage these resources to enable the development of battery solutions for electric transportation and other clean energy applications in California."
CalCharge is a first-of-its-kind public-private partnership working to accelerate the timeline of energy storage commercialization and market adoption through technology assistance, workforce training and market education. Members will have access to Berkeley Lab's world-class scientific facilities and personnel, including testing and diagnostics equipment not available to many start-up companies. CalCharge offers a streamlined and more affordable channel for Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs) and similar arrangements. These allow firms to access technical resources at the Lab, which will help scale battery innovations from the bench to the market.
"To broadly scale renewable energy requires tackling the challenges of energy storage, and no technical community is better suited to those challenges than California's battery engineers and scientists," said Dan Adler, CalCEF's president. "The companies and organizations that make up CalCharge will be central to forging a renewable energy future."
California has emerged as the epicenter of battery innovation in the U.S., with more than 30 startups and large companies concentrated in the Bay Area alone. The state has consistently led battery technology patent registrations, reaching 258 filings from 2008 to 2010—more than the next three leading states combined—according to the 2012 California Green Innovation Index, an annual economic filing published by Next 10. What's more, in 2011 venture capital investment in energy storage grew thirteen-fold over the previous year, making up 11 percent of the total VC investment in clean technology for the state.
"There's a lot of battery know-how in California, specifically the Bay Area, but technology startups need an ecosystem to thrive," said Venkat Srinivasan, head of Berkeley Lab's energy storage research program. "The Berkeley Lab battery program, long known for its deep expertise in solving the problems in advanced batteries, is ideally positioned to work with battery companies in the region. We look forward to building this ecosystem with CalCharge."
A thriving regional ecosystem for battery development requires contributions from diverse partners, including companies involved in advanced battery technology, customers who will use that technology, and research institutions that can offer expertise and equipment to accelerate development of new technology as well as an educated workforce pool—all supported by local governments that will provide the policies and incentives to foster a regional energy storage industry.
"We wanted to start CalCharge because we know that emerging energy storage companies are facing a complex market and major technical challenges," said Doug Davenport, development lead for energy storage at Berkeley Lab. "CalCEF is an ideal partner for us because they bring a focus on policy and markets that truly complements our science and technology orientation."
Cheaper and higher-performing batteries are critical to our nation's clean energy future—underscored by the White House's call for decreasing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and putting one million electric vehicles on the road by 2015. Nationwide efforts are also underway to modernize our antiquated electric grid for increased renewable energy integration and grid-scale batteries are an essential element. California has also made strides to support battery technology development this year. It adopted the world's first energy efficiency standards for battery chargers and enacted the second round of the Advanced Clean Car Rules, which targets a 34 percent reduction in GHG emissions from 2016 levels by 2025.
CalCEF and Berkeley Lab will be presenting the CalCharge launch at the Silicon Valley Energy Storage Symposium, Wednesday, May 30 at 9:40am. Please direct CalCharge membership inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org
CalCEF works to promote the transition to a clean energy economy by creating institutions and investment vehicles that grow markets for clean energy technologies. CalCEF is a non-profit umbrella organization that pursues statewide and national agendas via two affiliated entities governed by separate boards of directors comprised of prominent policy makers, scientists, entrepreneurs, and financial professionals. CalCEF Innovations, a 501(c)(3), leads CalCEF's analysis and product development, designing real-world solutions—market strategies, business models, and public policies—that rapidly advance clean energy adoption. The California Clean Energy Fund, a 501(c) (4), executes and scales the CalCEF investment strategy via a fund-of-funds model, partnering with leading investment managers. For more information, please visit www.calcef.org.
About Berkeley Lab
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory addresses the world's most urgent scientific challenges by advancing sustainable energy, protecting human health, creating new materials, and revealing the origin and fate of the universe. Founded in 1931, Berkeley Lab's scientific expertise has been recognized with 13 Nobel prizes. The University of California manages Berkeley Lab for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science. For more, visit www.lbl.gov.
Image: electric vehicle battery charging via Shutterstock
Posted: 29 May 2012 03:15 AM PDT
Some of my favorite lines:
Posted: 29 May 2012 01:37 AM PDT
The fourth annual GEA International Geothermal Energy Showcase concluded Wednesday, May 23, in Washington DC. The conference featured countries and projects in 6 different regions of the world: Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Turkey, Latin America, the Caribbean, and East Africa. Presentations by corporate and country leaders, for many of the projects, were very similar, but a few had unique challenges. Ultimately, what started out with policy, charts, and graphs ended up with a human face and concerns in Nevis and East Africa. The showcase was well-organized, resulting in a virtually flawless program.
Keynote Speaker: Sen. Jeff Bingman
Sen Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, provided the keynote address. Highlights of his speech were echoed throughout the presentations:
Geothermal Power Development Dates from the 60′s
The US began development of utility-scale geothermal in the 60's and has the most installed generating capacity at 3187 MW. When referring to geothermal, a distinction is made between uses for power generation and “direct usage” (as heat energy). China uses more geothermal energy than us, but primarily for heating, and it is only beginning to use geothermal for electrical generation. In association with the conference, an International Geothermal Overview was concurrently released. Worldwide, there are approximately 11 Gigawatts installed.
With limited growth in geothermal power in the US, the focus was on exportable technology. "One of the best aspects geothermal has to offer is that it is very exportable," remarked Halley Dickey, Director Geothermal Business Development, TAS Energy, headquartered in Houston, Tex. “We build the entire plant here in the U.S. and export it abroad.”
Different Types of “Geothermal”
The GEA website contains a tutorial that outlines the various technologies used to tap the Earth’s heat energy. As we drill deeper into the Earth’s crust anywhere, temperatures will rise. In some places, that heat is closer to the surface. If the heat is also associated with water, drilling will release steam that can be used for direct heating or in a Dry Steam Power Plant. Other locations will need to manipulate the energy to make it useable.
A Flash Power Plant separates steam from hot water. A binary power plant uses an organic Rankin cycle (like a heat pump) to use low heat energy sources. In some places, there is enough heat but no water to produce steam. Deep in the Earth the rock may be fractured and water injected. This is known as Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS). All of the above systems use deep wells that can be over 2 miles into the earth. These tap into the Earths natural heat. Useable temperatures may be from 150 deg F to 700 deg F.
Geothermal wells for heat pump systems are more shallow, in the range of 150 to 600 feet. These wells take advantage of the relatively constant “surface” temperatures of around 55 deg F (depending upon location) and the magic of heat pumps to heat and cool homes and businesses. The Earth’s surface temperatures would be more than 20 degrees less without the additional heating effect of the sun. To some extent, then, Geothermal heat pumps are like wind energy, an adaptation of solar radiation, but far more constant due to the thermal mass of the Earth.
Nevis and East Africa
While every project presents a unique situation, two were particularly interesting. As with many islands, Nevis must produce its electricity without the benefit of a substantial grid. Similar to many islands, that power is produced with diesel generators. At $0.37 per kWh (equiv) that power is costly and polluting. This conflicts with tourism, the island’s principal source of income that capitalizes on the island’s natural beauty and greenery.
Land and equipment is limited, but reliability is paramount for the primary electrical production plant. With a capacity factor that can reach 96%, geothermal is an excellent option. With steam venting here at 485 deg F, this is a potent resource. Peak load is about 8.5 MW with a resource potential of up to 150 MW.
East Africa has many natural resources, including geothermal energy potential. There are hydroelectric plants, but these are actually unreliable with the extended dry periods. Economics and land use are significant concerns. Geothermal collects a concentrated energy source when compared to solar or wind. The land use is therefore much less. When enough land is set aside for geothermal, as it was in Kenya 30 years ago, it can support multiple uses. As if to proclaim the cleanliness of geothermal energy, Kenya’s first geothermal power plant is now located in the middle of a nature preserve.
But East Africa also needs employment. Electrification can support higher technology and a better standard of living, but employment is addressed with direct geothermal projects that use the heat and humidity in greenhouses and fish farms.
An Issue of Pollution
Prior to the showcase, I added to the comments section in another CT article that suggested that geothermal in Hawaii was not a workable plan. At a media roundtable, I was able to ask about emissions from some geothermal power plants.
First, we have to keep in mind that geothermal is an improvement over diesel generation. On islands like Nevis and Hawaii, where there is not a large grid, baseload power may be required and geothermal fits that description. An older plant like PVG may not be as adaptable as new construction, but the technology exists to capture emissions and, in some cases, turn chemicals into marketable products for industry. In the US, geothermal plants are required to contain emissions. At the roundtable I was offered and hope to yet receive the GEA’s response to complaints like these. Look for further updates.
Into the Future
Geothermal energy can be adapted to produce electricity in a number of ways. It can also condition our environments and provide jobs. Worldwide, there is enough easily obtainable geothermal energy to satisfy all of our electrical energy demands. In choosing geothermal, we take advantage of a more concentrated type of clean alternative energy with a smaller footprint. Geothermal is an exportable technology that can also be used to generate not only electricity but jobs around the world.
US Geothermal Resource Map via Wiki Commons
Posted: 29 May 2012 01:02 AM PDT
Developed at the request of Credit Suisse, EPFL researchers created the Power Monitor System and Management (PMSM) to monitor and track the power consumption of a data center. More than that, however, the PMSM also has the capacity to distribute the workload among several servers, and vice versa: “Two servers running at 40% of their capacity each, consume much more than only one at 80%” explained David Atienza, director of the Embedded Systems Laboratory (ESL), where the program was created.
According to David Atienza the PMSM can achieve energy savings “of at least 30%, and even up to 50% less of what is consumed today.”
The PMSM has already been installed on the racks of approximately 5200 servers in Credit Suisse’s data center in Zurich. According to Marcel Ledergerber, responsible for the management of this complex, the solution proposed by the ESL laboratory is particularly attractive to them since it contributes to a process of “server virtualization” that the bank has been undergoing for some years already. Such a process aims at progressively reducing the number of servers hosting a gradually greater computing power. “The PMSM system allows us to concentrate our machines in a smaller space,” he said. “The specific information that it provides allows us to better control the issues of temperature, and thus manage our installations more safely.”
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