Thursday, June 21, 2012

Latest from: CleanTechnica

Latest from: CleanTechnica

Link to CleanTechnica

One Step Closer to Invisible Solar Cells in Our Windows

Posted: 21 Jun 2012 06:18 AM PDT

Invisible Solar Cells

"That's not a window – that's a solar panel."

At least, that's what one might be able to say at some point, according to New Energy Technologies, Inc. The company is known for its development of see-through solar cells (which we've talked about before), and this week it’s just a little closer to making its almost invisible solar cells a production reality.

The new breakthrough involves the manufacturing technique the company uses. Working with the US Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, New Energy thinks it has figured out how to get material cost down and has also designed a new application technique. Said technique is supposed to raise the conversion efficiency of the finished product.

It's Not So Hot In Here, After All

The most important part of the new process is that it doesn't require high-temperature vacuum deposition, which is expensive and takes forever and is exactly what it says on the tin — depositing super thin layers slowly (molecule by molecule) at high temperatures in a vacuum. The new process works at low temperatures, meaning the company can produce its solar panels with both roll-to-roll and sheet-to-sheet manufacturing.

In other words, New Energy Technologies is a massive step closer to mass production. President and CEO John Conklin spoke briefly about the potential of his product as a whole:

"Over the past few months, our researchers have unveiled a virtually invisible conductive wiring system, which collects and transports electricity on SolarWindow™ prototypes, and have fabricated a large area working module, which is more than 14-times larger than previous organic photovoltaic devices fabricated at NREL. Earlier, we developed our first-ever working SolarWindow™ prototype using a faster, rapid scale-up process for applying solution-based coatings.

"Together, these achievements have moved us closer to our manufacturing, scale-up, durability, and power production goals — all important factors to advancing our SolarWindow™ technology towards commercial launch."



Just So You Remember How It Works

The totally see-through solar windows involve super-thin solar cells layered onto glass. The cells are arranged in a network, and then each cell is connected to its fellows with more-or-less invisible wires. Electrons are knocked off their atoms and start moving, generating an electric potential difference, and the energy is converted into usable electricity (this part is fairly standard for solar cells; the neat part is that all the mechanisms are transparent).

New Energy also hopes the product's shelf life will be improved with its recent discoveries, which would be good news for its customers. New Energy hopes to eventually get its product onto 85 million commercial and residential buildings in the United States.

Personally, I can't think of a better place for solar panels than on the windows (I love windows, I mean, look outside!). What about you? Let us know in the comments, below.

Source: New Energy Technologies
Image: New Energy Technologies

Bigger Is Better for Wind Turbines

Posted: 21 Jun 2012 06:07 AM PDT

Scientists have concluded in a new study that, the larger the wind turbine, the greener the electricity it produces. The report appears in the American Chemical Society journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Marloes Caduff and colleagues concluded that wind power is an increasingly popular source of electricity, providing almost 2 percent of global electricity worldwide, a figure that is expected to reach 10 percent by 2020.

The size of turbines is also increasing

One study recently showed that the average size of commercial turbines has grown 10-fold in the last 30 years, from diameters of 50 feet back in 1980 to nearly 500 feet today.

Unsurprisingly, super-giant turbines approaching 1,000 feet in diameter are on the horizon, which pushed the authors into wanting to determine whether larger was better.

Their study showed that bigger turbines do in fact produce greener electricity, for two primary reasons:

  • Manufacturers now have the knowledge, experience, and the technology to build big wind turbines with great efficiency, minimizing the need for research and development.
  • Advanced materials and designs permit the efficient construction of large turbine blades that harness more wind without proportional increases in their mass or the masses of the tower and the nacelle that houses the generator. In other words, more clean power without the large increases in the amount of material necessary for construction or fuel for transportation of said materials.



Source: American Chemical Society

All 1,800 British Firms to Report Greenhouse-Gas Emissions

Posted: 21 Jun 2012 06:04 AM PDT

The British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced at the Rio+20 summit on Wednesday that all 1,800 firms listed on the London Stock Exchange’s Main Market will be required to list their greenhouse gas emissions from next April. The move will make Britain the first country to require its companies to include emissions data for their entire organisations in their annual reports.

At a side event at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, Clegg said that the reporting would help corporations and investors identify potential areas of savings that can be made through energy efficiency.

“Counting your business costs while hiding your greenhouse gas emissions is a false economy,” he was quoted as saying in a statement issued by Britain’s environment department.

“British companies need to reduce their harmful emissions for the benefit of the planet, but many back our plans because being energy-efficient makes good business sense, too. It saves companies money on energy bills, improves their reputation with customers and helps them manage their long-term costs, too.”

This is not a spur-of-the-moment decision, as the regulations have been under discussion between government and business for some months now. Introduced at the start of the next financial year in April, the regulations will be reviewed in 2015, and a decision will be made whether the requirement would then be extended to all large companies in 2016.



Source: AFP
Image Source: D1v1d

Germany Could Miss Electric Car Target

Posted: 21 Jun 2012 06:00 AM PDT

A German official has stated that the country could miss its target of one million electric cars on the roads by 2020 if more incentives are not implemented soon.

“I’ve already said that without additional incentives we will reach more of a figure of half a million,” said Henning Kagermann, who oversees Germany’s electric mobility strategy.

German Transport Minister Peter Ramsauer gets out of an E-drive BMW electric car as he arrives for a press conference. Germany will miss its target of one million electric cars on its roads by 2020 without more incentives, the country's coordinator on electric transport policy warned on Wednesday.

The target was set in 2008 to have one million electric cars on its roads by 2020, with the country wanting to be a pilot market in the field. The plan gave the country until 2014 to prepare the market before mass production of electric cars would ramp up from 2017.

But Transport Minister Peter Ramsauer, at the same press conference, called for “optimistic realism” and spoke of “making Germany the number one (market) for the electric car” rather than re-stating the one-million target.

Matthias Wissmann, head of the Federation of German Industry (VDA) has stated that, by 2014, German car manufacturers will be able to provide 15 different models of electric vehicles, but he insisted that there was a need to improve the vehicles’ batteries so that the cars could be more feasible outside of heavily built-up areas.



Source: AFP

Hey Makers, Try this DIY Graphene!

Posted: 21 Jun 2012 05:30 AM PDT

researchers develop low cost method for making graphene

An international research team has developed a way to manufacture graphene without using any specialized equipment. For an idea of how important this breakthrough could be, consider the difference between today’s smart phones and the stationary touch-tones that represented the peak of telecommunications tech just a generation ago, and translate that into the next generation of smaller, faster, cheaper, and more versatile electronics.

Graphene electronics

Graphene has been called the “miracle material” with good reason. It has unique capabilities as a semiconductor, it is flexible and virtually transparent, and its distinctive lattice-like structure gives it super powers (by one estimate, it has 200 times the strength of steel), and it can even amplify light.

If graphene were to replace other common semiconductors like silicon, the result would be an incredibly high speed and energy efficiency combined with equally incredible low mass.

A hurdle for graphene to leap

Graphene, which was only discovered in 2004, consists of a single layer of carbon atoms, and therein lies the problem: how do you manufacture an atom-thin product?

The first attempts were worthy of a highlight in Make Magazine: researchers simply pressed a piece of adhesive tape to a chunk of graphite, and lifted off a layer of atoms.

That’s all well and good for starters, but fabricating graphene with reliable quality under controlled conditions has bedeviled researchers, who have been searching for low-cost ways to churn out graphene for further study in the lab, let alone for commercial application.

That includes concocting graphene from plain sugar or even using an old disco trick — dry ice — to separate graphene flakes.

The Polish solution

The new method was developed by researchers from the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw in collaboration with the Interdisciplinary Research Institute in Lille.

They started with an off-the-shelf, powder form of graphene called graphite oxide, which is manufactured by weakening the bonds that hold a chunk of graphite together (if you’d like to get your hands on some, it’s made by the Materials Science Division in North East Institute of Science and Technology in Dispur, India).

The oxygen in graphite oxide inhibits graphene from acting as a semiconductor, so the team mixed it with a sulfur-containing organic compound called tertathiafulvalene. When the mixture was subjected to an ultrasonic cleaner, the graphite oxide was reduced to graphene flakes.

The liquid mixture was then deposited on an electrode using a low-cost application method. Once dried, the result was a smooth coating with flakes of graphene on the surface. The last step involved a chemical reaction to remove the molecules of tertathiafulvalene.


DIY Graphene?

So there you have it, Makers. You can probably order up some tertathiafulvalene at any chemical supply company, and if you can’t afford an ultrasonic cleaner, your local rent-to-own might have one.

No, seriously, DIY graphene is at least conceivable, but we’re a long way from that. For now, the Polish team is hopeful that its method could be reproduced at practically any well-equipped laboratory, without the need to order new equipment.

On the other hand, graphene and other high-tech DIY may be closer than you think. To give a push to the high-tech DIY movement overall, DARPA — the legendary Defense research agency that created the Internet — has just teamed up with the shared Maker-friendly workshop network TechShop in a crowd-sourced collaboration to prod U.S. manufacturing into future methods of fabrication.

Image: Some rights reserved by derekskey

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Solar Tech Improvements; Solar Project News; Solar Manufacturing News… (Solar Energy News Roundup)

Posted: 21 Jun 2012 04:33 AM PDT

Other than the solar energy news we’ve already posted on, here’s some more solar energy news from the last week or so from around the cleantech interwebs:

Solar Technology News

Cross-sectional images of the indium gallium nitride nanowire solar cell. (Image courtesy of Sandia National Laboratories)

Solar nanowire array may increase percentage of sun’s frequencies available for energy conversion.

Changing the concentration of indium allows researchers to tune the material’s response so it collects solar energy from a variety of wavelengths. The more variations designed into the system, the more of the solar spectrum can be absorbed, leading to increased solar cell efficiencies. Silicon, today’s photovoltaic industry standard, is limited in the wavelength range it can ‘see’ and absorb.

But there is a problem: Indium gallium nitride, part of a family of materials called III-nitrides, is typically grown on thin films of gallium nitride. Because gallium nitride atomic layers have different crystal lattice spacings from indium gallium nitride atomic layers, the mismatch leads to structural strain that limits both the layer thickness and percentage of indium that can be added. Thus, increasing the percentage of indium added broadens the solar spectrum that can be collected, but reduces the material’s ability to tolerate the strain.

Sandia National Laboratories scientists Jonathan Wierer Jr. and George Wang reported in the journal Nanotechnology that if the indium mixture is grown on a phalanx of nanowires rather than on a flat surface, the small surface areas of the nanowires allow the indium shell layer to partially “relax” along each wire, easing strain. This relaxation allowed the team to create a nanowire solar cell with indium percentages of roughly 33 percent, higher than any other reported attempt at creating III-nitride solar cells.

NREL Scientist, Dr. Heather A.S. Platt (foreground) and New Energy Principal Scientist, Dr. Scott R. Hammond Work on Company's SolarWindow™ Technology

New Energy Technologies and NREL have created an improved process for technology capable of generating electricity on see-through glass. New Energy Technologies has announced “an improvement in its manufacturing technique that should lead to higher speed, lower costs and greater durability” for its see-through solar cells for generating electricity on glass. “Teaming with the US Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, New Energy Technologies Inc. (OTCQB: NENE) has developed the use of low-cost materials and a special application technique that could help optimize the movement of electrons within the ultra-thin solar cells. This should increase the amount of electricity produced when New Energy's see-through SolarWindow™ prototype is exposed to natural or artificial light.”

UC Davis West Village net zero development rendering.

Technology innovation and continual cost decreases are fueling the spread of net-zero-energy buildings, Pike Research finds in one of its latest reports. “Several forces, including concerns about corporate image and branding in an increasingly sustainability-focused marketplace and growing interest in staying on the cutting edge of technology, are driving many in the construction industry toward the goal of producing zero energy buildings, i.e., buildings that produce as much energy as they consume through on-site and renewable energy systems.  Many of the technologies needed to deliver zero energy buildings, such as energy efficient HVAC systems, have already been developed.  Others, however, such as triple glazed windows and solar panels, are not considered cost-effective in comparison with conventional alternatives.  According to a recent report from Pike Research, over the next few decades, cost decreases in these existing technologies and innovation in emerging technologies, driven by stringent government regulations, will help make zero energy building more attainable.”

Image Credit: SolarEdge

Intersolar Award granted for next-generation power optimizer.

SolarEdge Technologies, a provider of solar power optimization and monitoring systems, has received the 2012 Intersolar Award for Innovation in the Photovoltaic category. The Intersolar Award honors solar companies for innovative ideas and technological breakthroughs.

SolarEdge received the award for its power optimizer, which features independent optimization technology to allow broader market adoption. Designed with a new set of semiconductor chips developed by SolarEdge, the company says it allows for a much smaller product with increased reliability, durability and efficiency. Additional benefits include increased safety and module-level PV monitoring.

Solar Project News

8-MW solar system saves community college $15 million. “An 8-megawatt solar project installed by the Mercer County Improvement Authority (MCIA) at Mercer County Community College (MCCC) is expected to save the college $15 million over the next 15 years at no upfront cost to the College. This will allow MCCC to stabilize its budget after years of significant cuts, and help keep tuition affordable.”


Mitsubishi Corporation and Osaka Gas have announced the intention to acquire 100 MW of solar projects from Recurrent Energy. Recurrent Energy will probably soon “sell a portfolio of Ontario, Canada solar photovoltaic (PV) projects to Mitsubishi Corporation and Osaka Gas. The transaction will represent approximately 100 megawatts (MW) of solar power that will be made available to the Ontario Power Authority (OPA). The acquisition is scheduled to occur once the facilities achieve commercial operation.”

Canadian Solar is set to deliver 122 MW of utility-scale solar projects in the US. The company yesterday “announced the acquisition of, or joint venture in 122MW of utility-scale solar development projects within the United States. The 11 photovoltaic (PV) power plants range in size from 2MW to 29MW and construction is planned to begin in 2012 with the last project set to be completed in 2014.”

Canadian Solar is also supplying 17 MW of solar modules to Potentia in Ontario. Potentia, an Independent Power Producer in Ontario, “will use the solar modules to power a number of commercial rooftop solar systems to be installed in major urban areas in Ontario.”

Nearly 20-MW solar project is up in Texas, combines water and electricity. “CPS Energy’s President and CEO Doyle Beneby, Mayor Julián Castro and other leaders ceremoniously cut a unique bowtie-styled ribbon to dedicate the utility’s newest source of solar energy – the William R. Sinkin Centennial Solar Farms 1 and 2. Named after local solar energy advocate Bill Sinkin, who is known for wearing bowties, the 19.8 megawatt (MW) project will produce enough clean power for an estimated 2,550 average Texas homes annually…. Two sites feature a total of 83,034 photovoltaic solar panels that track the sun from east to west. The solar arrays are located on nearly 200 acres of land at the Dos Rios Water Recycling Center owned by the San Antonio Water System (SAWS).”

Solar Manufacturing News

Soitec Solar has received $25 million from the US DOE for its solar manufacturing facility in San Diego. The money comes through a SUNPATH award.

SUNPATH, which stands for Scaling Up Nascent PV At Home, seeks to increase America's manufacturing competitiveness in the global solar market.

Last December, Soitec acquired a 176,000-square-foot manufacturing center on 14.8 acres of land located in San Diego to support over 300 megawatts (MW) of well advanced projects throughout San Diego and Imperial Counties. The new factory will enable a manufacturing capacity of 200 MW (275 MWp) of Soitec's fifth generation of Concentrix™ concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) modules, and will be the world's largest CPV manufacturing facility. This major project represents an investment of more than $150 million and is expected to create 450 on-site jobs and more than 1,000 indirect jobs at full capacity. Construction is currently underway, and the first phase is scheduled to be operational by the fourth quarter of 2012.

3M has completed expansion of its U.S. manufacturing plant for 3M Ultra Barrier Solar Film in Columbia, Missouri. ”This manufacturing expansion helps us support our customers' manufacturing scale-up plans by providing ample capacity to this growing market," said Derek DeScioli, Global Business Development Manager for the 3M Renewable Energy Division. "With our new production equipment and continued product innovation, 3M is well positioned to not only increase the performance of our Ultra Barrier Solar Film, but also significantly drive down the costs, further enabling our customers to provide competitive photovoltaic solutions to the commercial rooftop market."

Ascent Solar is supplying 50,000 of its new EnerPlex solar chargers for Apple iPhones. “The EnerPlex charger was launched in early June, and it was displayed at Ascent's annual shareholder's meeting. It was first publicly displayed to the industry at Intersolar in Europe last week. The product takes advantage of Ascent's ultra-light, thin and flexible solar panels and enables iPhone users to provide supplementary charging of their iPhones with sunlight.”

Westinghouse Solar and CBD Energy have teamed up to “begin distributing Westinghouse Solar Instant Connect™ Solar Power Systems to Harvey Norman Commercial Division…. This five megawatt purchase commitment is expected to be delivered over approximately six months following certification, and is subject to the system being certified in Australia. The certification process is currently underway and is expected to take approximately three months to complete. Once certifications are achieved, the company expects to begin shipping product in the fourth calendar quarter of this year. The Harvey Norman brand name is a retail icon throughout Australia with 185 franchised complexes throughout the local market.”


A Japanese telecommunication magnate is looking to transform Japan’s energy system post-Fukushima.

The chief executive of telecommunications and Internet company Softbank Corp.—these days best known as the man who brought Apple Inc.’s iPhone to Japan—says he told his board he was so concerned by the [Fukushima] accident that he couldn’t concentrate on his job anymore. Mr. Son said he planned to quit and work on energy issues instead.

“We had a big, big fight,” Mr. Son told attendees at a renewable-energy conference earlier this year. “Shouting…banging the table.”

The volatile Mr. Son was ultimately persuaded to stay. But he has also become one of the most outspoken advocates of a new energy era in Japan, arguing that solar and wind power, and some outside-the-box thinking, could take the place of electricity generated by nuclear reactors—and many fossil-fuel plants as well….

Mr. Son now proposes replacing all of Japan’s nuclear generation with renewable energy, including hydroelectric, for a whopping 50% to 60% of Japan’s total energy production by 2030, one of the most ambitious targets anywhere.

Japan Creates Potential $9.6 Billion Solar Boom with FITs

Posted: 21 Jun 2012 12:24 AM PDT

Very high new feed-in tariff payment rates coming into effect in July are widely expected to propel Japan to overtake both Germany and the current leader, Italy, to become the second largest solar PV market in the world.

As with the previous record-holders, it will be the generosity of the feed-in tariffs that drive the market. Japanese solar panel makers Panasonic and Sharp are among the potential solar industry beneficiaries of a generous 42 yen (53 cents) a kilowatt-hour feed-in tariff that utilities will be required to pay solar power producers starting next month.

The generosity of the new policy makes sense. The nuclear meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant last year and subsequent shuttering of nuclear in Japan suddenly increased a gigantic amount of demand for new generation, and Japan’s first move had been to back down into fossil power, a disastrous decision.

The rates are at the level that feed-in tariff experts like Paul Gipe say is required to drive speedy adoption: about three times what industrial users now pay for conventional power.

This should very quickly motivate investment that is estimated to get 3.2 gigawatts of clean energy onto the grid to help replace the lost power from the closed reactors, which were supplying 21% of Japan’s power.

Japan had an installed nuclear capacity of 49 GW over 54 reactors. It had been getting one fifth of its total 228 GW of power generation from nuclear. So its needs are huge, and the policy is enough to quickly get solar in to help replace that capacity.

“The rate reflects the Government’s intention to set up many solar power stations very quickly,” explained Mina Sekiguchi, associate partner and head of energy and infrastructure at KPMG in Japan, conceding that the tariff is very attractive.

Fossil energy interests that were the first to benefit from the loss of nuclear power have jumped on the policy with concern over its high tariff rates that utilities will be paying for the next 20 years.

“This is a mechanism with a high degree of market intervention by setting tariffs artificially high and making users shoulder the cost,” complained Masami Hasegawa, senior manager of Keidanren, Japan’s most powerful business lobby. “We question the effectiveness of such a scheme.”

But Germany — the first to pioneer feed-in tariffs, boosting a staggering 22 GW of solar onto the grid, is now experiencing cheaper energy as a result of the merit order effect, in the peak energy hours of the afternoon when solar production peaks. Additionally, it has gotten solar installations down to a record average of $2.24/watt. For an explanation of how this works, Giles Parkinson at RenewEconomy explains the merit order effect in why fossil generators are terrified of solar.

Image: Paul D Smith for Shutterstock

Overseas Private Investment Corp. Approves $360MM in Clean Energy Investments

Posted: 20 Jun 2012 11:42 PM PDT

Rio+20, the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, opened today amid much fanfare and the pessimistic outlook that agreements on key issues — financial commitments prominent among them — will not satisfactorily made. While national delegations pledged to commit capital to the Global Environment Facility (GEF) fund managed by the World Bank Group at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) 17th Conference of Parties (COP-17) in Durban last year, to date, the actual amounts actually committed falls far short of what’s been pledged.

The US delegation is expected to play an important role at Rio+20. While the going’s going to be rough in Rio, the US government, as well as those of other nations, continue to make substantial overseas investments to foster and promote sustainable development in smaller and less-developed countries.

In recent days, the US Overseas Private investment Corp. has announced it is investing some $360 million of capital to develop renewable energy resources and technology in Latin America, Southeast Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa.

OPIC’s Board of Directors on June 19 approved $175 million to finance two new investment funds:

  • $125 million for TPG Alternative & Renewable Technologies Partners (TPG ART) that aims to match and connect renewable energy technologies from US and European companies with markets in Latin America and Southeast Asia

“Taking the latest renewable energy technologies and applying them to emerging markets is one of the great development challenges of the coming years. Be it converting local biomass to high-value products, improving energy storage, or making use of state-of-the-art building materials, the technologies invested in by this fund will represent an important step toward meeting that challenge,” OPIC president and CEO Elizabeth Littlefield stated.

  • $50 million for the GEF Africa Growth Fund, which aims to improve energy efficiency and agribusiness production in Sub-Saharan Africa by investing in environmentally-friendly energy infrastructure

“Rising energy demand and food consumption in Sub-Saharan Africa makes the connection between renewable energy and agribusiness critical to the subcontinent’s future,” Ms. Littlefield said. “The GEF Africa Growth Fund will make investments that accelerate the development of Africa’s energy infrastructure, particularly in industries that can raise agribusiness output to meet consumption needs.”

In addition, OPIC’s Board of Directors on June 18 approved $185 million to finance the construction of two 20-MW solar power plants in Peru. OPIC’s second major solar power project investment in the Andean nation, the two solar power plants are to have rated capacities of 20 MW each that will generate nearly 100 million kWh of clean, renewable electricity per year.

To be built in southern Peru, private equity firm Conduit Capital Partners will manage OPIC’s investment funds. The plants’ power output will be sold to Peru’s national grid operator.

Solar energy has great economic development, as well as clean energy, potential in Peru, a nation with one of the lowest electrification rates on the South American continent. Solar energy levels in Peru’s southern mountains exceed 6-kWh/sq. meter/day, among the highest in the world, OPIC notes.

“This project will enable Peru to take advantage of its great solar potential in order to increase energy access in rural, poorer areas where the need is greatest,” commented OPIC president and CEO Elizabeth Littlefield.

Peru’s government has made great strides in expanding access to electricity in recent years, but progress in its southern region have lagged. Access to electricity in Peru increased from 45% of the population in 1990 to 89% in 2011. Access in poorer rural areas is about 30%, however, according to OPIC, with more than 6 million Peruvians lacking access to electricity.

LED Street Lights Cut Energy Use 85% in 12 Large Cities; LED $10M CASH for CLUNKERS Program Launched… (Energy Efficiency News Roundup)

Posted: 20 Jun 2012 05:40 PM PDT

Some energy efficiency news from around (other than our energy efficiency stories from the last week):

An LED street lighting trial in 12 of the world's largest cities has shown energy savings of up to 85%.

The findings of LightSavers, an independent two-and-a-half-year global pilot of LED lamps in 15 trials across 12 cities including New York, London and Kolkata, are presented for the first time in a new report entitled, Lighting the Clean Revolution: The Rise of LED Street Lighting and What it Means for Cities.

Key findings include:

  • Surveys in Kolkata, London, Sydney and Toronto indicated that between 68% to 90% of respondents endorsed LEDs city-wide rollout. Benefits highlighted included improved safety and visibility.
  • LED lighting trialed lifespan ranges from 50,000 to 100,000 hours indicating a high return on investment.
  • LED failure rate over 6,000 hours is around 1%.
  • The Climate Group and Philips are calling for an international low carbon lighting standard to be created and implemented ensuring that citizens worldwide have access to energy efficient outdoor lighting.

Independence LED Lighting has launched a “comprehensive” $10 million CASH for CLUNKERS program for lighting. “The incentive covers the cost of banned T12 tubes, proper disposal of the toxic tubes and ballasts, and an LED Lighting Retrofit Return on Investment (ROI) Assessment. The incentive is for U.S. businesses that choose to retrofit with Independence LED Tubes, which are three times more energy efficient and last three times longer than the obsolete T12s.  To further assist qualified business owners, Independence LED provides $0 down financing programs providing net savings from the flip of the switch. The program runs through 12/31/2012.”

FPL has released summer savings tips that could help you save $250/year “with simple ‘do-it-yourself’ home energy fixes.” ”When it comes to energy efficiency, a little goes a long way and there are several no-cost or low-cost measures we suggest that can add up to big savings,” said FPL energy efficiency blogger Danielle Mousseau.

LEDs are now available to residential customers in Puget Sound region. Puget Sound Energy has announced “the wide availability of light emitting diode (LED) bulbs and fixtures for the utility's residential electric customers at participating retail stores. As the country phases out incandescent bulb technology in favor of more efficient and longer lasting options, LED technology has been viewed as a long term solution – though a costly solution.”

Technology innovation and continual cost decreases are fueling the spread of net-zero-energy buildings, Pike Research finds in one of its latest reports. “Several forces, including concerns about corporate image and branding in an increasingly sustainability-focused marketplace and growing interest in staying on the cutting edge of technology, are driving many in the construction industry toward the goal of producing zero energy buildings, i.e., buildings that produce as much energy as they consume through on-site and renewable energy systems.  Many of the technologies needed to deliver zero energy buildings, such as energy efficient HVAC systems, have already been developed.  Others, however, such as triple glazed windows and solar panels, are not considered cost-effective in comparison with conventional alternatives.  According to a recent report from Pike Research, over the next few decades, cost decreases in these existing technologies and innovation in emerging technologies, driven by stringent government regulations, will help make zero energy building more attainable.”

Vigilent swept the Higher Education Energy Efficiency and Sustainability Best Practice Awards in the HVAC Retrofit/Design category this year. “The Vigilent system, through advanced software and wireless sensor control technology, uses artificial intelligence to dynamically adjust cooling to optimally match real-time demand in the most efficient way possible.”

Image Credits: The Clean Revolution; Independence LED

Floating Wind Turbine Testing in Japan; Floating Wind Turbine Feasibility Study for US; 5 Brazilian Wind Farms Receive Funding… (Wind Energy News Roundup)

Posted: 20 Jun 2012 05:18 PM PDT

Some top wind energy news from the past week or so (other than the wind energy stories we’ve already covered):

Japan has installed a small, floating wind turbine off a Goto island with the eye to bringing the technology to commercialization.

The demonstration project, organised by the Ministry of Environment (MOE), uses a 100kW wind turbine made by Fuji Heavy. It was originally installed by Japan's New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) on Isena Island in Okinawa in 2002.

The turbine has now been moved to a site 1km off Kabashima Island, in Nagasaki Prefecture, and installed on a spar-type floater in water 96-99 metres deep.

The machine is the largest yet to be used on a floating project in Japan and the first to be connected to the grid.

5 big Brazilian wind farms have received a financing commitment from Brazil's National Bank for Economic & Social Development (BNDES). Total financing comes to R$ 378 million (US$ 184 million). The wind farms will be in Brazil's Northeastern states of Bahia and Rio Grande do Norte. “These funds will be earmarked for Força Eólica do Brasil (Eolic Power of Brazil), a joint venture by Brazilian power companies Neoenergia and Iberdrola, which are to invest a total of R$ 594.5 million (US$ 288.7 million) in the 150 megawatt (MW) project…. This financing by BNDES will generate 1,800 direct and indirect jobs as the new windfarms are built. The windfarms will be in Brazil's municipalities of Caetité (Bahia state) and Bodó, Santana do Matos and Lagoa Nova (Rio Grande do Norte state). The five new centers are a part of a larger project consisting of a further five windfarms nearby.”

ABS has completed a floating wind turbine technical feasibility study of floating wind turbines for the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE). “The goal was to determine how floating structures and moorings would be affected by the strong interactions among the wind turbine rotor, control system, floating platform and mooring/cable system and how different loading events could impact these systems…. The final step of the project was the proposal of a draft design guideline for permitting floating wind turbine deployment on the [US Outer Continental Shelf].”

Vestas has signed a contract to supply 55 MW of wind turbines to Italy. Vestas will supply 21 units of the V100-2.6 MW turbine for use in the "Orta Nova" wind power plant, to be located in the Apulia region of Italy.

Vestas has received a 49.5-MW wind turbines order for a new project in Inner Mongolia. “This project will be using the Vestas V80 turbines which will be installed in the Wandequan wind park, Huitengxile grassland, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region (IMAR).”

Image: wind turbines in Brazil via Shutterstock

325 EV Charging Stations Coming to NY; Disruptive EV Battery Tech Company Gets $15M More; Wuhan, China Bike-Sharing System to Have 90,000 Bikes… (Clean Transport News Roundup)

Posted: 20 Jun 2012 05:09 PM PDT

Some top clean transport news from the last week or so (other than our own clean transport stories):


New York and the US federal government are partnering to fund 325 new electric-vehicle charging stations across the state. “Dana Rubinstein asks if this investment will be enough to persuade East Coasters to start buying EVs in droves.”

Aquion Energy's potentially disruptive battery tech has landed a $15 million loan.

While the market for viable energy storage is dependent on regulatory and financial market structures as well as technology, it would be helpfule to have a disruptive, cheap, and safeelectrochemical storage technology – one that had superior performance and management characteristics compared to the predominant lithium-ion materials system.

Aquion believes it has that technology and the startup just picked up a $15 million loan facility from Horizon Technology Finance Corporation and Silicon Valley Bank to build its business.

Aquion’s battery consists of an anode made of activated carbon, a cathode made from sodium and magnesium oxide, and a water-based electrolyte. The firm wants to build a factory with a capacity of 500 megawatt-hours worth of batteries a year in 2013 and 2014. The plan is to build it in the U.S. In 2015, with the goal of replicating that factory in other parts of the world.

Germany may miss electric-cars goal without funding. “Germany’s goal of 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2020 may only be achieved if state funding of fossil fuel-free mobility is raised substantially.”

Hertz and Italo-NTV (the first European private high speed railway operator) have launched a program in which “Italo customers will be able to rent stylish smart fortwo electric drives from the Hertz locations at the Rome Tiburtina and Rome Ostiense train stations. These electric vehicles can be booked from just 8 euros per hour through the website using the special Italo discount code, and will be powered at charging units provided by Enel, Italy’s largest electric utility. The program is an important step in the Manifesto di Roma Capitale (Rome Manifesto) to increase the number of electric vehicles and other sustainability initiatives in Italy’s capital city. Electric vehicles in Rome have free of charge access to designated parking areas and no ZTL (city center zone) limits.”

Eaton has announced that it is supplying EV charging stations for a federal government pilot program.

The contract is an element of the federal government’s Electric Vehicle Pilot Program, a targeted investment to incorporate EVs and charging infrastructure into federal vehicle and building portfolios.

To prepare for program expansion, Eaton and veteran-owned AutoFlex engaged with the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Community College of Baltimore County to create VETCARS, a pilot training and occupational program instructing veterans how to install and service EV charging infrastructure, as well as, earn a certificate to maintain new advanced battery technology. The program will also help provide employment for deserving veterans.

Axion Power has received $150,000 from the US DOE for commercialization of lead­-carbon PbC® batteries in ”low-cost, high-efficiency” dual battery architecture for micro-hybrid vehicles.

Saab is to become an electric vehicles company. “Bankrupt carmaker Saab has been sold to a Chinese-Swedish investment group which aims to turn the company into a maker of electric vehicles,” BBC writes. “Saab’s administrator said the buyer was National Electric Vehicle Sweden (Nevs). No sale price was given.” We actually covered this back in April when it was just a rumor.

Nissan has announced that its Japanese customers will now start receiving Leaf-based EV Power Stations with the capability of powering a home for a couple of days — that's on top of its ability to keep your car charged for travel of up to 100 miles.”


House Republicans have ramped up their war on safe biking and walking. “If some House Republican negotiators get their way, safe biking and walking could be increasingly hard to find. More and more, Americans are biking and walking to work, on errands, and for fun. Just last year, cyclists saved $4.6 billion by biking instead of driving. Nationwide, biking and walking account for almost 12% of all trips, yet biking and walking infrastructure receives less than 2% of all federal transportation funding.”

Advocacy Advance has awarded $25,000 in grants for “young advocacy organizations and dramatically increase biking and walking in Mississippi and Tucson, Arizona.”

Capital Bikeshare = less driving and money saved according to a new independent study. “The Washington, D.C. region’s Capital Bikeshare (CaBi) service released the third-party analysis of its 2011 member survey yesterday and it has some impressive results. Analysis shows that members save an average of $891 per year and collectively reduce their driving miles by 5 million annually.”

US Mayors have urge Congress to preserve traditional funding for bike/ped programs. “Adding a very powerful voice to the call for continued federal funding for sidewalks and bikeways, the U.S. Conference of Mayors passed a resolution at its annual meeting last weekend that urges Congress to ‘protect and increase funding for bicycle and pedestrian programs in the next transportation reauthorization law.’”

Bike-sharing programs in China keep growing. “On Saturday, June 16, Beijing Public Bicycle Service began in a section of the Chinese capital south and east of Tienanmen Square. With 2,000 bikes in 63 stations the service run by the Municipal Government of Beijing expects to expand to 50,000 bikes in 1,000 station by 2015. The service will offer the first hour of use at no extra charge, then a small overage charge thereafter. Watch the video below for more explanation.”

“According to the Jinghua News Service, Wuhan will be increasing the size of its bike-share system from 70,000 bikes by adding 20,000 new bikes and 200 new stations by the end of this year. 90,000 bikes – incredible!”


Streetsblog takes a look at the upside of iPads without Google Transit directions.

As we reported last week, the new Apple mobile operating system, iOS 6, will come with a new, Apple-designed Maps application that eschews Google's mapping tools and comes without standard transit directions. The Apple Maps app will provide driving and walking directions, but transit riders will have to access third-party plug-ins to figure out the best way from point A to point B.

While that could pose a hurdle for millions of iPhone and iPad users, the new system could also encourage the creation of a much richer assortment of transit apps for mobile devices, according to Kevin Webb, who develops mapping and trip planning tools at OpenPlans, Streetsblog's parent organization.


International deal to cut aviation emissions delayed a year.

Draft proposals to tackle the carbon impact of aviation look set to be delayed until March 2013, according to the head of the UN body overseeing long-running negotiations to deliver a global deal to curb greenhouse gas emissions from the sector.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) is next week expected to discuss four proposals for market-based mechanisms designed to curb emissions, including a global emissions trading scheme and mandatory offsetting requirements.

The body has come under pressure to negotiate a solution after countries such as China, the US and India vehemently objected to the launch this year of emissions trading rules for all flights in and out of the EU – a policy Brussels says it will only reverse if an equally stringent global agreement for curbing aviation emissions comes into force.

EU Car Emissions Policy

EU vehicle emissions standards are projected to create €9 billion worth of new jobs.

Forcing new vehicles to meet proposed tighter emissions standards could create €9bn of new jobs and save €36bn in fuel costs by 2030, according to draft EU estimates.

Brussels is considering setting a goal of 95 grams of CO2 per kilometrefor new cars from 2020, following on from the current goal of 130g/km by 2015, while the same target for vans may be set at 147g/km from the end of the decade, down from 175g/km by 2017.


Azul Brazilian Airlines Flies Demonstration Using Renewable Jet Fuel Made from Sugarcane

Posted: 20 Jun 2012 03:33 PM PDT


Participating companies pave runway for development of renewable jet fuels and global aviation

Flying high on sugarcane may once have been little more than the lyric to a song. Not any longer.

Yesterday, Azul Brazilian Airlines, working in partnership with Amyris Inc., Embraer, and GE completed a demonstration flight using jet fuel produced from Brazilian sugarcane. The Embraer E195 jet operated by Azul departed from Campinas Viracopos Airport, flew over Rio de Janeiro, host city to the U.N. Conference for Sustainable Development (Rio+20), before landing at Rio’s Santos Dumont Airport.

Known as Azul+Verde (“a greener blue” in Portuguese), this project was launched in 2009 with the objective of evaluating the development of a renewable jet fuel that might reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“Azul’s commitment to reducing our dependency on volatile petroleum products goes beyond reducing our costs. The main objective is to innovate in our service offerings, using the best technologies to reduce our carbon footprint as well as raise awareness among our customers that they are not just choosing an airline that is merely concerned about the environment but is taking steps to preserve it,” said Flavio Costa, COO of Azul Airlines.

A lifecycle analysis and sustainability study developed by a Brazilian think-tank, Institute for International Trade Negotiations (ICONE), indicates that the Amyris renewable jet fuel could reduce greenhouse gas emissions up to 82 percent compared to fossil-derived jet fuel.

“Amyris’s renewable jet fuel has been designed to be compliant with Jet A/A-1 fuel specifications. To that end, we have successfully undertaken a series of tests that measure its performance,” said John Melo, president & CEO of Amyris, in a press announcement. “This demonstration flight caps a major milestone in our jet fuel program and allow us to pursue our certification and commercialization goals.”

The sugarcane fuel, referred to as AMJ 700, is produced using modified microorganisms that convert sugar into a renewable hydrocarbon. The renewable jet fuel must still be approved by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).

“Developed as drop-in, the renewable jet fuel did not require any modification or adaptation in the aircraft for the demonstration flight,” said Mauro Kern, Executive Vice President for Technology & Engineering at Embraer. “The tests undertaken by Embraer with Amyris’s renewable jet fuel in Brazil were a success. This confirms the potential performance of this renewable fuel, whether on technical or environmental grounds.”

Ground tests were conducted at GE’s engine testing facility in Ohio earlier this year.

Azul’s team believes there will be a minimal food impact from growing sugarcane in Brazil. “Azul greatly believes in Amyris technology. Brazil has abundant arable land, which allows for the growing of sugarcane in ways that do not displace other crops, such as food,” says Adalberto Febeliano, Azul director of institutional relations. “We expect that it will be possible to adopt this renewable fuel in commercial flights in the medium term, with a large-scale production economically viable."

Photo: Globe Newswire

1 comment:

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