Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Latest from: CleanTechnica

CleanTechnica

Latest from: CleanTechnica

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5 Solar Myths Busted (Infographic)

Posted: 19 Jun 2012 10:51 AM PDT

 
One of the good folks at PV Magazine recently dropped me a note about a cool new solar infographic the team there created. While I generally love to share a decent solar infographic, this one created by folks focused on the industry every day is better than most, as it bust 5 common myths that anyone who works in this industry runs into all too often. Additionally, rather than focusing on the myths, it focuses on the facts, a good messaging tactic.

We’ve written on some of the source materials before (such as #5 and #6) in the past, and might write on some of the others in the future. Additionally, we try to set the record straight on these 5 points below any chance we get. But sometimes nothing does it like an infographic. Check this one out and share it with friends!

Infographic: Setting the solar story straight
Solar myths infographic by pv magazine


Pacific Northwest Grid Operators Ready US’ Largest Smart Grid Trial

Posted: 19 Jun 2012 09:07 AM PDT

In what’s sure to be a closely watched smart grid event, project partners have installed the Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project’s transaction control system, which, if all goes well, will dynamically manage electricity demand, supply and grid conditions across interconnected assets of 11 utilities.

“We are in the midst of an impressive transformation of our electric power system. Technological advances are elevating the prospects of a more resilient, sustainable and efficient future power grid. Yet the question remains of how to get us there. What technologies work well? Can we make a business case for a ‘smarter’ grid that can help, for example, integrate renewable energy that is coming online at a tremendous rate?

“The Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project, or PNW-SGDP, the largest in the nation, is trying to answer some of those questions,” writes Carl Imhoff, who manages the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) Energy and Environment Directorates’ electricity infrastructure market sector.

 

 

Interdependent: Renewable Energy & Smart Grids

Interconnecting and centrally managing grid assets across the region promises finer, more detailed information on grid demand and supply, and enables quicker response times, as well as more accurate, efficient market pricing. The ability of more efficiently integrating intermittent renewable energy resources, such as grid-connected wind and solar energy, is another sought-after advantage, one that could further bring down the cost of clean, renewable energy.

“Integration of renewable energy provides another example of how the transactive system will work. Right now in the Pacific Northwest, we have about 4,000 megawatts of wind energy in the Bonneville Power Administration’s (BPA) footprint,” Imhoff explains.

BPA wind generation capacity is expected to double over the next couple of years to reach some 12,000 MW. That would be equal to the amount of hydropower generated by federal dams along the Columbia and Snake rivers, he continues.

“Our system is capable of incentivizing the consumption of renewable energy, so that the region can benefit from use of its clean natural resources when they are most abundant, and reduce the amount of ‘spilled’ wind power—excess wind-generated electricity that has to be dumped. Perhaps more importantly, the system engages the responsive assets to help balance the intermittent nature of wind energy and allows optimal operation of generation resources such as the hydro system.”

Multiple Mutual Benefits

Realizing these goals would yield multiple substantial benefits: reducing regional CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as land and water pollution prominent among them. In addition is the potential to smooth out peaks in electricity use, which, along with better renewable energy resource integration, keep a lid on future cost increases, according to Imhoff.

“Our project is a first step towards achieving these objectives,” he writes. “Last April, we successfully connected key system software and hardware components from the project’s technology partners: 3TIER, Alstom, IBM, Netezza and Quality Logic with Battelle’s Electricity Infrastructure Operations Center (EIOC), and demonstrated communication connectivity to several of our utility partners.

“At the same time, our utility partners are transforming the region’s grid by installing 80,000 smart grid enabling assets such as smart meters, and 12,000 smart grid-responsive assets, which include water heater load controllers, solar panels, battery storage units and backup generators.”

Reliable, secure telecommunications are integral to the success of smart grid projects. Electric, gas and water utilities are increasingly turning to public cellular networks to provide communications for smart grid networks, according to an April research report from Pike Research.


Solar Charger Giveaway for CleanTechnica Readers; IEEE Launches Green Your World Challenge to Inspire Sustainable Living

Posted: 19 Jun 2012 08:59 AM PDT

 

From recent news reporting a global investment in renewable energy of more than $257 billion, to headlines highlighting green changes implemented by companies across the globe, this past year was a notable era of progress in enhancing the environment's sustainability. However, as most of us know, there is still much that can be done to further improve environmental health.

Focusing on individual action is an effective starting point. It's often surprising to learn the extensive impact we each have on the planet – it's estimated every person produces 4.3 pounds of waste daily! While people seem interested in pursuing sustainable lifestyles more than ever, actually implementing changes can be difficult and overwhelming.

A great place to begin is by committing to just one activity that reduces your environmental impact and can be easily integrated in your day-to-day life. To get started, you can make a commitment, and invite your friends to do the same, by participating in the IEEE Green Your World (GYW) Challenge, which is a fun Facebook app that asks you to support or create an eco-friendly pledge.

IEEE, the world's largest technical professional organization, recently launched its GYW Challenge in an effort to encourage and inspire more sustainable living.

To get started, log in to Facebook (if you aren’t logged in already) and "like" the IEEE GYW Challenge page.

After you "like" the page, you will have the opportunity to create your own green challenge, support someone else's challenge, or create a drawing that shows what a greener world looks like to you. You can share the challenge on Facebook and invite your friends.

If contributing to a greener world isn't incentive enough, readers of CleanTechnica will have the chance to win a USB device solar charger, courtesy of IEEE, when you participate in the GYW Challenge. How to do so is below.

Solar Charger Giveaway

To enter the CleanTechnica Solar Charger Giveaway, just follow these three steps:

  1. Go to the IEEE Green Your World (GYW) Challenge page and submit a challenge (make sure to "like" the IEEE GYW Challenge page first).
  2. Share this post on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, StumbleUpon, LinkedIn, or Reddit.
  3. Let us know in the comments below (just one comment, please) what your challenge was and where you shared the post.

The winner will be selected next Wednesday, June 27.

If you want to go above and beyond the giveaway requirements, you can get the latest updates on the GYW Challenge by following @IEEEorg on Twitter, and you can share your green ideas for the challenge by tweeting them using #GreenYourWorld.

What will you pledge to do for the IEEE GYW Challenge? What are some of the actions you regularly take now to contribute to a more sustainable future?


California Grid Hit Record Solar Peak

Posted: 19 Jun 2012 04:10 AM PDT

 
The Californian power grid hit a record peak of solar generation on June 8, according to Stephanie McCorkle, Director of Communications of the California Independent System Operator, with 849 megawatts of solar generation on the system.

McCorkie noted, in a conversation with Greentech Media, that “the solar record would continue to be broken as the days get longer” (moving towards the summer solstice).

McCorkle explained, “With solar, you have a gradual ramp with a peak when you need it at AC [air conditioning] rush hour,” adding that “solar is a nice peaking resource” without the fluctuations of wind power.

This comes on the back of an announcement made by Germany’s renewable energy organisation that stated that “under a cloudless sky” on May 25, German solar generation reached 22,000 megawatts, which amounts to approximately half of Germany’s peak afternoon load, depending on the time of year.

Dr. Norbert Allnoch of the IWR noted that there is no other country on earth with solar plants capable of producing over 20,000 megawatts of electricity.

Also, for those interested, the cumulative amount of solar installed in the U.S. at the end of Q1 2012 was 4.943 gigawatts, according to GTM Research.

Image Source: Walmart


Carbon Sequestration’s Got an Earthquake Problem, Too

Posted: 19 Jun 2012 04:01 AM PDT

 
stanford links carbon sequestration to earthquakes

Fossil fuels seem to be running out of places to go. Back in March, officials in Ohio put new restrictions on the natural gas drilling method called fracking after seismologists linked it to earthquakes, and last Friday the National Research Council issued a report detailing the impact of conventional gas and oil drilling on seismic events, along with other underground activity including carbon sequestration. Now a whole new report focuses squarely on the risk of earthquakes from underground carbon sequestration. That apparently closes the door on what was supposed to be an effective way to manage greenhouse gas emissions… or does it?

Carbon in, carbon out…

The new report was prepared by Mark D. Zobackand and Steven M. Gorelick of the departments of Geophysics and Environmental Earth System Science at Stanford University. Aptly titled “Earthquake triggering and large-scale geologic storage of carbon dioxide,” it is a response to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which in 2005 proposed underground carbon sequestration as a viable strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from coal-burning power plants and other industrial sources.

Unfortunately, it looks like this strategy could be a classic case of the cure being worse than the disease. According to the report, underground sequestration is highly likely to trigger earthquakes, which would crack open the formation and enable the carbon dioxide to leak out to the surface.

The problem, as identified by the working group, is that most rock formations under continental land masses are too brittle.

Their conclusion:

“Because even small- to moderate-sized earthquakes threaten the seal integrity of CO2 repositories, in this context, large-scale CCS is a risky, and likely unsuccessful, strategy for significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

 

 

Not the end for carbon sequestration

The report doesn’t rule out any underground storage, but it does suggest that appropriate sites are not as widespread as previously supposed.

One avenue of exploration is the use of depleted gas reservoirs. While not entirely risk-free, these formations once stored gas, so they could be more likely to have the potential for holding a firm seal.

This past January, the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory reported that a demonstration gas reservoir project undertaken in Australia has been successful so far, but further study is needed before putting the practice into widespread use.

Image: Some rights reserved by martinluff

Follow me on Twitter: @TinaMCasey


Summer Solstice Solar Survey: Consumers Around the World Think Their Country Has the Most Solar Power Installed

Posted: 19 Jun 2012 04:00 AM PDT

 


All countries in blue are expected to have hit solar grid parity by the end of 2012. Light blue countries were expected to hit grid parity by this time just one year ago — a lot has changed in that time.

Applied Materials puts out an interesting Summer Solstice Solar Energy Survey annually. While it covers a range of topics, one of the most interesting findings this year, in my opinion, is that consumers of various countries think their country is the solar leader (when it is not).

“Respondents of each country believed their country has installed the greatest number of solar panels. Almost six in 10 (57%) Americans say the U.S. has installed the most solar panels, 43 percent of Chinese think it is China, and half (52%) of India thinks it is their country,” Applied Materials writes.

Pretty hilarious.

Only 17% of respondents responded that Germany was the world leader.

Of course, as CleanTechnica readers know, the top countries in absolute numbers (MW of installed solar power) as of the end of 2011 were:

  1. Germany — 24678
  2. Italy — 12754
  3. Japan — 4914
  4. Spain — 4400
  5. USA — 4383
  6. China — 3093
  7. France — 2659
  8. Belgium — 2018
  9. Czech Rep. — 1959
  10. Australia — 1298

But those rankings change when you look at installed solar power in relative terms (i.e. per capita, per GDP, and relative to electricity production).

Other highlights from the survey include the following:

  • “Nearly half of consumers (46%) believe that growth of solar will positively impact the job market by creating jobs. The U.S. is most optimistic with nearly six in 10 (58%) responding as such. Every country, city and community has the potential to directly benefit from the growth of the solar power industry with on-the-ground jobs in system integration, installation, sales and marketing, and project development.”
  • “Over half (55%) understand that when compared to the cost of traditional energy sources, like coal, solar energy is less expensive.”
  • “Nearly six in 10 (58%) consumers in China believe that the projected rate of solar energy adoption to15 GW by 2015 is too slow of an adoption rate. And when respondents in India were asked about the government’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy’s goal of increasing the contribution of renewable energy to six percent of India’s total energy mix by 2022, more than half (51%) voiced concern that the rate of adoption was too slow.”

Expanding on that last point, Applied Materials writes:

“The reality is that the cost of solar has fallen dramatically over the last year. Today, PV module prices are below $1/Watt, which means that in many countries solar power has reached a point where it is cost competitive with retail energy prices – that is, that solar is at parity with grid power. Last year, we reported that 28 countries would be at grid parity at the end of 2012. Today, that number has surpassed 100. To put that in perspective, these 105 countries make up 98% of the world's population, account for 99.7% of the world's GDP and consume 99.2% of the world's energy related to CO2 emissions. We've graphically illustrated this and encourage you to share it to help raise awareness.”

Images via Applied Materials


Twitterstorm Calls for End of Fossil Fuel Subsidies

Posted: 19 Jun 2012 03:12 AM PDT

 
twitter storm fossil fuel subsidies

The popular social media network, Twitter, has been host to a massive 24-hour campaign aimed at pressuring leaders at the Rio+20 summit to cut fossil fuel subsidies. The #EndFossilFuelSubsidies campaign started at 8am GMT yesterday and hopes to call attention to the issue so that it will be addressed at the summit.

The hashtag did manage to become a Trending Topic on Twitter by mid-morning, though it fell off eventually, despite numerous posters continuing to use the tag.

"This world has a few problems where a trillion dollars might come in handy — and we'd have a few less problems if we weren't paying the fossil fuel industry to wreck the climate," said Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, one of the groups organizing the Twitter campaign.

1 comment:

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