- Bird and Wildlife Charity to Erect Massive Wind Turbine (The Message: Wind Turbines Better for Birds than Fossil Fuels)
- SolarEdge and Zep Solar Launch Power Optimizer
- Audi’s New e-Bike
- Easier, Cheaper Solar Panel Installation
- Costs of Energy Technologies More Transparent with New NREL Database
- Solar Energy Industries Association Statement on Abound Solar Hearing
- High-Speed Rail Investment in U.S. Would Result in $26.4 Billion Net Benefits by 2040
- U.S. Air Force Gets Solar Power from SolarCity, Continues Clean Energy Push
- Solar Power Resources & EV Driving Potential Estimated with Free Solar App (iPhone & Android)
- Vermont & Wisconsin Battle for Biking Bragging Rights
- Solar Water Heating Just Got Easier
- U.S. Military Adding Solar Roofs to More Base Housing
- Could the U.S. Cut Household Electricity Use by Two-Thirds?
- IKEA Plugs in Largest Solar Energy System in Michigan
Posted: 17 Jul 2012 08:30 PM PDT
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) in the UK announced plans earlier this year to erect a massive wind turbine at its headquarters in Sandy, Bedfordshire. The 100-metre wind turbine would be installed, at the earliest, in the autumn of 2013, upon the requisite approval being granted.
"We are keen to promote the use of wind energy where it does not result in unacceptable impacts to wildlife and we are confident that this is a suitable location to do so,” Martin Harper, RSPB Conservation Director said.
"All of us have a part to play in helping to meet the UK Government's target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050, and this turbine will be one more step along the way.
"We need a revolution in the way we generate and use energy – but we want that revolution to take place in harmony with the natural environment.”
The RSPB noted that it believes “renewable energy is an essential tool in the fight against climate change, which poses the single biggest threat to the long term survival of birds and wildlife.” As a result, they are taking steps to reduce their own carbon footprint by generating their own electricity from renewable sources.
The RSPB is joining with green energy company Ecotricity to submit its planning application for a meteorological mast to be erected close to the charity's head offices at The Lodge nature reserve, the first step towards determining the site as suitable for a wind turbine. But this is not the first step the organization has taken, having already done numerous tests to determine the suitability of the site.
"It's essential that wind energy projects provide their vital environmental benefits with the minimum environmental impact,” said Dale Vince, Founder of Ecotricity. ”To ensure this, we conduct detailed studies on up to 27 different areas of potential impact such as health and safety, cultural heritage and wildlife. Our aim is to ensure that any wind project we build will be a good neighbour, for people and for wildlife, for the entire lifetime of operation. ”
"We know that with the right design and location wind turbines have little or no impact on wildlife,” said Harper. “The RSPB has commented on over 1,500 wind farm applications. In the small number of cases – around six per cent – where we feel there is likely to be a significant impact on wildlife we have lodged an objection. In many of these cases the developers have listened and redesigned their plans to make sure they do not threaten wildlife.”
"We hope that by siting a wind turbine at our UK headquarters, we will demonstrate to others that with a thorough environmental assessment and the right planning and design, renewable energy and a healthy, thriving environment can go hand in hand."
Posted: 17 Jul 2012 08:00 PM PDT
"We have joined with Zep Solar to develop a solution that will better serve our customers' needs," says John Berdner General Manager of SolarEdge North America. “Installers who currently enjoy the flexible design and maximum space utilization enabled by the SolarEdge solution, will now benefit from an easier installation and a reduction in labor time."
SolarEdge power optimizers already on the market provide a 99.5% peak efficiency and 98.9% weighted efficiency, maximizing energy production for each individual module, offering greater energy yields in both shaded and unshaded scenarios. On top of that, module-level energy monitoring provides full visibility of system performance and allows for remote troubleshooting.
Thus, the SolarEdge Zep Compatible power optimizer can be connected to PV modules on the ground, allowing the mounting hardware, power optimizer and module to be installed on the roof at the same time.
"The Zep Compatible ecosystem is a place where the benefits of great new technologies combine to offer new levels of efficiency," said Jack West, CTO of Zep Solar. "The addition of SolarEdge's cutting edge solution further contributes to this trend and enhances the growth of the Zep Compatible platform."
Zep Compatible solar modules are available today from leading module makers such as Trina Solar, Yingli Solar, Canadian Solar, Sharp Solar, Upsolar, and ET Solar among others, and were showcased at the recent Intersolar North America solar trade show in San Francisco.
Posted: 17 Jul 2012 07:30 PM PDT
The Audi e-bike’s frame is made from ultra-light carbon-fibre and weighs in at only 1,600 grams (3.53 lb). The bike implements material reinforcements only at points on the bike that will encounter load, and the swinging arm for the rear wheel is made from carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer.
Sleek and futuristic, the bike allows users to switch between pedalling or electric, reaching speeds of up to 80 km/h (50 mph) with a peak output of 2.3 kW, a new high point for e-bikes. All in all, the bike weighs a total of 21 kg (46.30 lb), equivalent to a power-weight ratio of 9 kg (19.84 lb) per kilowatt, or 7 kg (15.43 lb) per horsepower.
I’m not 100% certain that this sort of bike is of any value to real aficionados of the bicycle. But, for those who don’t mind being laughed off the ramp or want to make their leisurely ride a little more leisurely, this might be just the thing.
Posted: 17 Jul 2012 07:00 PM PDT
A sure-fire way to increase investments in solar panel rooftops? Make ‘em easier to put together and cheaper to install. Many shy away from solar power because of costly labor and complicated installation, but two new products claim to put those complaints to rest.
Solar company Solon has rolled out a couple of photovoltaic products, including SOLfixx and patent-pending SOLquick, which the company claims arrive fully configured and can be installed solely by hand. Solon says both products are shipped directly to the designated work site and do not require staging.
SOLquick is intended for non-metal commercial roofs; SOLfixx for rooftops that can bear less weight. Both require flat roof surfaces.
Decreased Panel Weight
Solon advertises the SOLquick panels as frameless and lightweight, about 2.8 pounds per square foot. The SOLfixx is listed at 12.9 kilograms per square meter.The reduced weight also plays a role in easier installation — no heavy machinery is heeded to hoist and situate the solar paneling.
According to Solon, the SOLquick roof can be installed in ten units per man hour, cutting the mechanical installation time by 85 percent and cutting the electrical installation time by 50 percent.
Those are some pretty huge time (and, thus, cost) savings.
NoninvasiveNeither paneling system requires roof penetration in most instances. The SOLquick brochure, however, does list a caveat that roof penetration may be necessary in certain cases due to seismic activity, snow and wind loads, or due to the height of the building.
Tool-free installation, lighter weight materials and snap together construction makes adding solar panels to commercial rooftops much more appealing to business owners of all stripes.
Source & Image/Caption Credits: SOLON
Posted: 17 Jul 2012 06:22 PM PDT
A new web application collects cost and performance estimates for electric generation, advanced vehicles, and renewable fuel technologies and makes them available for utilities, policy makers, consumers, and academics. The Transparent Cost Database (TCDB) app provides technology cost and performance estimates that can be used to benchmark company costs, model energy scenarios, and inform research and development decisions.
In keeping with the Obama Administration’s commitment to open and transparent data, the TCDB provides cost comparisons to make it much easier to view the range of estimates for what energy technologies such as a utility-scale wind farm, rooftop solar installation, biofuel production plant, or electric vehicle might cost today or in the future. The new database will help companies and investors make informed decisions supporting the commercialization and deployment of clean energy.
TCDB was developed by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) through a grant from DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. It provides “a first-cut estimate of current and projected costs and performance characteristics for vehicles, biofuels and electricity generation,” with a current focus on renewables, NREL analyst Austin Brown said.
TCDB displays DOE estimates and targets in a place that is easy to find and update, Brown said. Until now, those estimates and targets typically have been found in program-planning or budget documents that, while public, are difficult to find and collect. In support of the Administration’s goals to increase data transparency, DOE is collecting this planning data in one public resource for the first time.
The TCDB provides access to published historical and projected cost estimates for electricity generation, biofuels, and vehicle technologies. The cost data are sourced from published studies and the Department of Energy’s internal planning documents. DOE works closely with private companies to accurately estimate technology costs. This information helps DOE plan research and development.
The new database will soon allow experts to contribute reliable new information to continually expand and validate the cost information available to the public. The data are arranged so users can see a range of cost and performance numbers as well as reports on potential improvements. All data will be viewable and downloadable from DOE’s Open Energy Information platform, OpenEI.org, a virtual clearinghouse for information about energy.
NREL analysts collected the first batch of data by reviewing publicly available reports and collaborating with technology experts at DOE. In the near future, data will also be suggested by expert users and continually refreshed by the NREL project team.
The database currently contains thousands of estimates from more than 100 reports. The web interface allows the user to look at current estimates and future projections, and to filter the data of interest. The exact report referenced in each data point is just a few mouse clicks away.
TCDB is fully integrated into OpenEI and is available at OpenEI.org. The project is still under development. Users are welcome to submit suggestions for additional functionality to email@example.com.
NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy’s primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for DOE by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.
Posted: 17 Jul 2012 04:02 PM PDT
Here’s SEIA’s full statement on the matter:
WASHINGTON – In anticipation of tomorrow's House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs hearing on the bankruptcy of Abound Solar, Rhone Resch, President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association® (SEIA®), issued the following statement:
"The closure of any American factory is troubling. However, it is important to remember that the U.S. solar industry is a bright spot in an otherwise sluggish economy.
"Over 100,000 Americans have jobs in solar, more than double the amount from two years ago. Costs of solar products to consumers continue to drop, while the deployment of solar systems across the U.S. increased by 85 percent over the last year.
"Today, as a result of the DOE's Loan Guarantee Program, thousands of construction workers are building or operating 11 utility-scale solar projects with guaranteed revenue streams that will generate enough energy to power more than 630,000 homes.
"We hope as the subcommittee conducts its oversight, they take an even-handed approach and do not kill a program that is delivering results – world-renowned utility-scale solar projects, thousands of American construction jobs, and hundreds of megawatts of clean, renewable power.
"America invented solar technology, and I have every conviction that our companies can and will continue to thrive in the global marketplace. It would be short-sighted to cede this ground to our competitors in Asia and Europe and let a $10 billion, high-tech industry slip away as the U.S. did with flat screen televisions. Let's keep the leadership, the jobs, and the industry here in America.
"The solar industry looks forward to working with Congress and the Administration to consider ways to improve the competitiveness of American manufacturers, starting with a robust Loan Guarantee Program."
Posted: 17 Jul 2012 07:00 AM PDT
The report, titled "Opportunity Cost of Inaction: High-Speed Rail and High Performance Passenger Rail Service," details how building a high-speed rail program in the U.S. will result in $26.4 billion in net benefits over the next 40 years.
Anti-rail protesters, politicians, and media critics get one of their central arguments wrong, time and time again. While the upfront costs of high-speed rail may look big, the long-term benefits far exceed the costs.
For APTA’s full news release on this matter, jump on over to Page 2.
Posted: 17 Jul 2012 06:31 AM PDT
When the Department of Defense privatized military housing back in the 1990′s, little did it know that those homes would become the platform for the largest residential solar project in American history. Well, they did.
Last November, the solar installer SolarCity announced that it would build about $1 billion in solar projects for military housing under a project it calls SolarStrong, and now the company is following up with a new round of solar installations for the U.S. Air Force in partnership with the global company Lend Lease.
The Solar Powered Force of the Future
It’s no secret that Republican leaders in Congress have tried to monkey-wrench DoD’s efforts to transition to solar power and other forms of renewable energy that are cleaner, safer, and more reliable than fossil fuels. However, DoD has been finding ways to work around those obstacles.
The Navy is forging ahead with a $62-million biofuel research and development project under the force of a 1950′s-era law, and DoD has just announced a $420-million public-private partnership to build commercial-scale biorefineries for aviation biofuel and biodiesel.
The Army has topped them all with the Energy Initiatives Task Force, a planned $7 billion series of public-private solar power partnerships based on the same statutory authority that privatized military housing.
In support of this initiative, the Army Corps of Engineers envisions utility-scale projects at Army facilities that would generate renewable solar, wind, geothermal, or biomass energy. They would be built under power purchase agreements, in which the Army provides the real estate for facilities owned and operated by private sector energy companies.
SolarCity and SolarStrong
According to information provided to CleanTechnica this week, SolarCity’s new project will cover more than 850 military homes at the Los Angeles Air Force Base and two bases in Colorado Springs, Peterson AFB and Schriever AFB.
All together, the installations will total about 18,000 solar panels generating about 6.4 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually. That’s enough to provide up to 60 percent of the electricity used in each community, and it will help reduce strain on the grid during the summer peak use series.
Lend Lease and a Solar Powered Military
All of the properties are managed by Lend Lease, which has been building a solid track record in sustainable construction. Its projects for DoD include the two biggest solar communities in the country at Davis-Monthan AFB and Army Hawaii. Lend Lease’s solar thermal project at Camp Lejeune is also the biggest installation of its kind in the U.S.
Other large military solar projects by Lend Lease include two previous partnerships with SolarCity, for the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona and Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii.
Clean Power and Green Jobs for Veterans
It’s worth noting that SolarCity has recently begun ramping up its efforts to recruit veterans into its workforce. According to SolarCity, in addition to holding job fairs, it has partnered with other veteran recruitment programs,
including the '100,000 Jobs Mission' of JP Morgan Chase & Co., Swords to Plowshares, The California National Guard, The California Conservation Corps, and Veterans Green Jobs.
Just recently announced here on CleanTechnica, it currently has over 300 job openings across the U.S.
Image: Courtesy of U.S. Air Force.
Follow me on Twitter: @TinaMCasey.
Posted: 17 Jul 2012 05:35 AM PDT
You can now use the screen of your smartphone to simulate the active surface area of a solar panel, and receive an estimate of the solar resources in that position.
In addition to that, the free app, available for iPhones or Android phones, also gives you information such as “hours of light generated, CO2 emissions avoided and even the distance traveled by an electric car with the energy generated by the PV installation!”
All you have to do is place the smartphone in the same position that your installation would be. The results will vary depending on the inclination and rotation used, so you can compare different setups and locations. Here’s more from the solar blog:
You can learn more here.
If you check it out, let us know how it compares to the solar panels suitability app we recently wrote about!
Source: Onyx Green Building
Posted: 17 Jul 2012 05:08 AM PDT
Since May 1, Burlington cyclists have pedaled almost 200,000 miles, putting them at the top of the National Bike Challenge. Vermont is also ranking #1 in the state rankings.
Wisconsin won’t go down without a fight, though. The Cheesehead state is sitting pretty with five of the top 10 cycling communities in this year’s challenge. The states and their bicycle-loving communities will duke it out until August 31.
Posted: 17 Jul 2012 04:57 AM PDT
DIY-ers will be happy to hear that a solar hot water system with simplified installation has hit the market.
The Liberty-Box has been developed without the extra pipes, pumps and holding containers that were traditionally needed to adapt pre-existing water heaters.
From Derek Markham of TreeHugger: “The Liberty Box, from EDS USA, uses the electricity generated from several photovoltaic solar panels to heat a second heater element in an existing water heater, instead of heating the water in secondary thermal collectors. The system is said to be able to provide 100% of the hot water needs of a family of four in the summer time, and 75% of the water heating demand for the winter time, with no batteries needed, no chance of pipes freezing or leaking, and no moving pieces (such as pumps) vulnerable to breakage or failure.”
The upfront cost? $4,000 for kits that include solar panels, or $1,000 for kits without them. (Though, the system does qualify for a 30% Federal Tax Credit, and there may be incentives in your state, county, or city that it also qualifies for.)
For more info on the kit, check out the Liberty Box brochure from EDS USA.
Posted: 17 Jul 2012 04:42 AM PDT
Great news on solar power: More eco-friendly military housing is on the horizon. Today, SolarCity announced that three more solar panel rooftop projects will be added to Air Force bases in California and Colorado later this summer. The additional bases are a part of SolarStrong, a $1-billion solar installation project.
SolarCity, partnered with property developer Lend Lease, plans to provide solar power to more than 850 privatized military homes in Los Angeles and Colorado Springs. The five-year project is aiming to create up to 300 megawatts of solar power for as many as 120,000 military housing units across the U.S. If completed, SolarStrong would be the largest solar project in America.
Solar power projects are already underway or completed at Hickam Communities at Joint Base Pearl Harbor and Soaring Heights Community at Tucson's Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, pictured above.
About 4 megawatts of solar power will be installed at Hickam Communities by 2013 — we’ve got more on that project coming in a few hours.
Davis-Monthan AFB installed 6 megawatts of solar power in December 2010 in the form of ground mounts and rooftops. Another 14.5 megawatts will be generated by solar panels covering 130 acres of land at two locations around Davis-Monthan.
Reduced Waste, Increased Savings
Fitting homes and underutilized land with solar panels is a progressive energy and financial strategy for the Department of Defense. While politicians quibble over how to reduce government spending, the Department of Defense — the single-largest energy consumer in the U.S. — is heading in the right direction with renewable energy sources like solar panels.
An exciting example of increased savings from solar is at Davis-Monthan: “The solar PV project is expected to provide approximately 35 percent of the base electricity requirements, reducing base utilities cost by an average of $500,000 annually.” Sounds like the Tucson Air Force base is meeting its goal to “Think green, build green, and fly blue.”
Posted: 17 Jul 2012 04:03 AM PDT
Your mind-blowing chart of the day, courtesy of Arne Jungjohann at the Heinrich Böll Foundation. To be fair, there’s little need for air conditioning in Germany compared to the United States, but air conditioning only accounts for about 20% of U.S. household electricity consumption. Leaving it out makes it 9,200 kWh vs. 3,100 kWh.
This post originally appeared on ILSR's Energy Self-Reliant States blog.
Posted: 17 Jul 2012 03:57 AM PDT
The new system consists of 122,200 square feet, made up of 4,160 solar panels.
The Canton store’s solar PV system is the 20th solar project for IKEA in the US, while another 19 locations are in the planning stages, the release said. The new solar array will produce 1,114,943 kilo watt hours (kWh) annually, taking out 769 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
IKEA also chose to team with SoCore, one of the largest solar developers in the Midwestern USA, to help build the project for the Detroit-area store.
The recent development for the Canton, Michigan store has manager Anton von Dongen really excited.
"We are thrilled at how this solar energy system furthers our commitment to sustainability at IKEA Canton."
"IKEA has a never-ending job where most things remain to be done that encourages us always to ask ourselves how we can improve what we do today for a better tomorrow," he said in the statement.
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