Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Latest from: CleanTechnica

Latest from: CleanTechnica

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Study Determines Feasibility of Floating Wind Turbines on OCS

Posted: 13 Jun 2012 06:22 AM PDT

A study on the technical feasibility of installing floating wind turbines on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) has been completed by ABS, an agency focused on the development and verification of standards for the design, construction, and operational maintenance of marine-related facilities.

The goal of the study had been to determine how floating structures and moorings would be affected by the strong itneractions among the wind turbine rotor, control system, floating platform and mooring/cable system, and how different loading events could impact these events.



ABS was awarded this study through the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement's Technology Assessment and Research Program back in 2010, and since then has conducted extensive case studies evaluating the characteristic load conditions and global responses of three different design concepts.

Study results served as a basis for identifying the critical technical challenges to deploying floating wind turbines on the OCS. The final step of the project was the proposal of a draft design guideline for permitting floating wind turbine deployment on the U.S. OCS.

Information Adapted from North American Wind Power
Image Source: L.C. N√łttaasen

Nest Thermostat Now Available on Amazon

Posted: 13 Jun 2012 06:17 AM PDT

The Nest Learning Thermostat has been all the rage since it’s introduction late in 2011, thanks to its apparent ease of installation, flashy design, and usefulness. Now, you can get your very own Nest Thermostat at

Nest announced on June 7 that the Nest thermostat is now selling on the popular online superstore.

We’ve covered the Nest Learning Thermostat many times at CT, so check out more on the innovative product via one of the articles below:

Source: Nest

Abengoa to Build 200-MW Imperial Valley Solar PV Farm

Posted: 13 Jun 2012 03:25 AM PDT

Photo courtesy: Abengoa

Spanish multinational renewable energy developer Abengoa is to build one of the largest solar photovoltaic (PV) farms in the US, a 200-MW facility located in south-central California’s Imperial Valley. Awarded an engineering and construction (E&C) contract valued at $360 million, the project is scheduled to be up and running in a mere 18 months, with clean, renewable power coming on-line in phases during 2H 2013, according to a company press release.



The 200-MW solar PV project is expected to create around 150 direct jobs during design and development, as well as additional jobs with local sub-contractors. Abengoa has reached an agreement with local businesses to promote economic development around the Imperial Valley region, which has literally and figuratively become a “hotbed” of solar and renewable energy resources and projects.

Abengoa’s also got CO2 emissions reduction and environmental conservation on its mind, stating that “the plant’s design will reduce atmospheric carbon emissions as well as generating significant energy and fuel savings.”

Geographic, Renewables Diversification Key to Abengoa’s Success

Abengoa is doing well despite Spain’s economic and financial troubles, which led to a temporary suspension of its renewable energy feed-in tariff (FiT) in late January.

From its headquarters in Seville, Abengoa’s expanded internationally, and it’s been management’s determination in diversifying geographically that drove revenues 18%, cash flow 24% and and net income 58% higher in Q1 2011, according to its Q1 results.

More than 70% of Abengoa’s total €1,764 million ($2,205 million) in revenue was generated internationally. The company has established itself here in the US with offices and plants, including two solar thermal, aka concentrating solar power (CSP) stations in the Arizona and Mojave deserts. Revenue from the Americas region accounted for nearly 50% of the Q1 total, with US revenue accounting for 17% and Brazil revenue 14%.

Renewable energy Engineering & Construction (E&C) makes up the bulk of Abengoa’s business. E&C revenue rose 19% to €931 million ($1,163.75 million) in 1Q while EBITDA rose 13% to €106 million ($132.5 million), with an 11.4% margin. Electricity Infrastructure concessions (1Q Rev: €103mm, +18%; EBITDA margin: 65%) and Industrial Production (1Q Rev: €730mm, +17%; EBITDA margin: 15%) are Abengoa’s other two major operating divisions.

During 1Q, Abengoa and JGC Corp. brought the Solacor 1 and Solacor 2 solar thermal (or CSP) plants online ahead of schedule at the El Carpio Solar Complex in Cordoba, southern Spain.

With 121,000 reflective parabolic mirrors installed over an area roughly the size of 300 soccer fields, the CSP farm generates steam at a temperature of 400 degrees which drive two 50-MW turbines to generate clean, renewable electricity. The CSP farm will provide electricity for 52,000 households and avoid some 63,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year.

Breaking News: Diesel Exhaust Does Cause Cancer

Posted: 12 Jun 2012 05:04 PM PDT


nrdc switchboardby Peter Lehner of the NRDC

Today, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) confirmed what we've long suspected:  the pollution from dirty diesel engines causes cancer.

“The scientific evidence was compelling and the working group’s conclusion was unanimous: Diesel engine exhaust causes lung cancer in humans,” Christopher Portier, chairman of the IARC working group, said in a statement. “Given the additional health impacts from diesel particulates, exposure to this mixture of chemicals should be reduced worldwide.”

Today's news places diesel exhaust in the same category of cancer risk as asbestos and arsenic. As my colleague Diane Bailey pointed out, the IARC report adds to the mountain of studies, reports, and data connecting diesel exhaust to a wide range of health impacts, including increased asthma emergencies, bronchitis, emphysema, and heart disease.



The cost of our reliance on dirty diesel fuels and engines is staggering. In the United States alone, diesel engines that power our buses, trucks, construction and farm equipment, locomotives, and ships trigger more than 50,000 premature deaths and $300 billion in health costs every year. Worldwide, the cost is many times greater, due to the much dirtier diesel fuels and engines that are typically used in the developing world.

Luckily, diesel pollution is a solvable problem, and we’ve already started tackling it here at home. Reducing sulfur levels in diesel fuel allows diesel engines to run dramatically cleaner, thanks to effective filter technologies that can only be used with ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel. In the United States, this fuel became standard in 2006. New diesel engines in this country are more than 90 percent cleaner than engines that were sold just a few years ago.

All around the world, though, diesel engines are much, much dirtier than the ones that power the buses on Madison Avenue in New York, the trucks on our interstates, and the heavy machinery on our farms. Sulfur levels in countries like China, India, and Mexico are more than 30 times higher than the levels in U.S. diesel fuel—and in countries throughout Africa, Asia, Latin America and elsewhere, sulfur levels can be as much as 300 times higher. At these sulfur levels, diesel engines lack even the most basic emissions controls, exposing people to even dirtier, more dangerous fumes — up to 100 times more polluted than exhaust from new diesel engines.

Despite our progress, there are still millions of dirty diesel engines on American roads today. Congress passed bipartisan legislation to retrofit and replace America’s dirtiest diesels, but hasn’t committed the funding to make it happen. Worldwide, governments need to commit to phasing in cleaner fuels and using more modern diesel engine technology. Dumping dirty diesel is a move that will save hundreds of thousands of lives each year.

Peter Lehner is the Executive Director of NRDC. The position is his second at NRDC. Beginning in 1994, he led the Clean Water Program for five years, before leaving in 1999 to serve as the head of the Environmental Protection Bureau for the Attorney General of the State of New York.

This article was originally published on the NRDC Switchboard.

Image: diesel exhaust fumes via Paul Marcus /

New Report Ranks World’s Biggest Countries on Renewable Energy

Posted: 12 Jun 2012 04:52 PM PDT

During the past decade, United States renewable electricity production has increased by a considerable 300%. Despite this impressively rapid growth, the European Union is still far ahead the US, as European countries (especially Germany) utilize renewable energy much more than the US or the rest of the world.

All in all, in 2011, the United States obtained 2.7% of it’s electricity from renewable sources, such as solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, and some other waste-to-energy power plants (not including hydroelectricity). That put it at #7 among G-20 countries.



Not All Policies Are Created Equally

In the midst of worldwide renewable energy sector growth, some government policies encouraged renewable energy growth much more effectively than others, such as Germany’s feed-in tariffs.

The United States has been pursuing renewable energy less aggressively than Germany has, and, in accordance with the saying “you reap what you sow,” Germany has far more effectively stimulated renewable energy growth.

To fully understand the importance of weighing an aggressive growth policy versus a milder one, it’s important to understand the purpose of encouraging renewable energy usage.

Due to the fact that global warming is a time bomb that requires urgent action, a mild growth policy that leaves the United States generating only 2.7% of power from renewable sources is not adequate. Every year that coal power plants dominate, they make a significant contribution to our growing global warming problem.

If global warming was not an issue, it could be pursued less aggressively. However, peak oil is a concern as well.

At the upcoming Rio+20 Earth summit in Brazil, renewable energy policy is expected to be a major issue.

Renewable Energy World Leaders

In May, cloudy Germany obtained 30% of it’s electricity from solar power plants. At the moment, some smaller non-G20 countries — such as Spain, New Zealand, Iceland, and Norway — get more than 15% of their electricity from renewable sources.

As you can see in the graphic above, the top 5 “countries” of the G20 for renewable electricity production are:

  1. Germany
  2. EU-27
  3. Italy
  4. Indonesia
  5. UK

US Renewable Energy Challenges

Despite the success of U.S government policies to encourage (at least some) renewable energy growth, they are now under scrutiny by renewable energy opponents.

"Unfortunately, the very policies that have increased our renewable energy supplies and reduced our dependence on dirty fossil fuels are now under fire in the United States and elsewhere," Jake Schmidt, NRDC's International Climate Policy Director, comments. "That's not just a threat to the thousands of new jobs being created by the renewable energy industry, but also a threat to our health, our environment and our planet."

Source: NRDC
Images via Bert Van Dijk & NRDC

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