- 1603 Solar Treasury Program Up for Debate (Take Action Now!)
- Computing Efficiency Could Increase by 1 Million
- Mitsubishi to Offer Plug-In Option on Every Model within Four Years
- Spray-On LED Wallpaper for Your Spray-On Battery
- Green Roofs & Solar Panels: The Future of Renewable Energy?
- 1500V Photovoltaic Operation from Belectric
- Uluru to be Lit Up Using a 1/4-Million LEDs
- The Utterly Impractical Flying Bicycle
- Which US States Invest the Most in Bicycle and Pedestrian Projects
- Geothermal Energy Association Announces GEA Honors Finalists
- New Solar Photovoltaic Thermal System Developed, Generates Electricity and Heat More Efficiently
- Extreme Weather Costs EU’s Transport System At Least €15 Billion A Year
- Trina Solar Expands into Canada, Signs Up Local Supply Chain Partner
Posted: 11 Jul 2012 06:01 AM PDT
Things are at a crucial juncture in the effort to extend the highly successful Section 1603 Treasury Program.
Within the next few days, the Senate Finance Committee will begin crafting legislation to extend a host of expired tax incentives. If the Finance Committee moves forward with this effort, it is imperative that an extension of the 1603 program is included in the bill.
The 1603 Program has been a resounding success. Since the program was initiated in 2009, it has supported over 33,000 domestic solar projects and leveraged $5.44 billion in private sector investment for projects in 49 states.
Despite the obvious success of the 1603 Program, we are in the midst of a contentious election year, and we simply cannot assume that it will be extended. It is critical that you contact your Senator who serves on the Finance Committee with the simple message that they should extend this highly effective, common sense program.
The voice of concerned constituents plays a powerful role in our democratic process, and I hope I can count on you to reach out to your Senator who serves on the Finance Committee. Click here to contact your Senator.
Thanks in advance for your help,
With Best Regards,
B. Manning Feraci
Posted: 11 Jul 2012 05:24 AM PDT
Modern-day computers are based on logic circuits using semiconductor transistors. When an increase in computer power is required, smaller transistors are required, to the point that Moore’s Law states that the number of transistors that can fit on an integrated circuit should double every two years due to scaling. However, when your transistors are even getting smaller, this becomes difficult.
One of the most significant challenges faced by manufacturers is the need for efficient heat dissipation. As more transistors are added, so too does the heat increase, making it all the more difficult to dissipate the heat quickly and safely.
The Northwestern University researchers have developed “spin logic circuits” that utilise the quantum physica phenomenon of spin.
"What we've developed is a device that can be configured in a logic circuit that is capable of performing all the necessary Boolean logic and can be cascaded to develop sophisticated function units,” said Bruce W. Wessels, Walter P. Murphy Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, one of the paper's authors. "We are using 'spintronic' logic devices to successfully perform the same operations as a conventional CMOS circuits but with fewer devices and more computing power."
The spin-logic circuits are created with magnetoresistive bipolar spin-transistors, recently patented by McCormick researchers. The paper was recently presented on July 5 at the International Symposium on Nanoscale Architectures held in the Netherlands.
Posted: 11 Jul 2012 05:19 AM PDT
We've seen some bold moves in the electric vehicle industry over the past few months, but this may be the most ambitious of them all: Mitsubishi reportedly plans to offer either an electric-only, or plug-in hybrid version of every vehicle in its model range within four years.
Instead of creating an electric and plug-in hybrid version of each model, Mitsubishi will offer electric-only and gasoline-powered versions of smaller vehicles, and plug-in hybrid versions and gasoline versions of its larger and higher-performance vehicles.
If it is successful, Mitsubishi will become the first major automaker to complete a full transition to electric power.
The Japanese auto manufacturer already has taken concrete steps toward this goal. The 2012 i-MiEV electric minicar is already on sale in the United States, and a plug-in hybrid version of the Outlander SUV is scheduled for release this fall.
But, hurdles remain in the way of Mitsubishi's goal. Consumers have been slow to embrace all-electric vehicles, as low overall Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt sales can attest (though, notably, first-year sales were a few times higher than first-year sales of now extremely popular hybrids, like the Prius). The Toyota Prius is now an overwhelming success, now third overall in global auto sales, but Mitsubishi's plug-in hybrid technology is unproven and would have to compete with the established Prius brand.
Still, Mitsubishi's effort seems promising. The i-MiEV was named to Kelley Blue Book's "10 Best Green Cars of 2012" list, and company executives are similarly bullish on the hybrid Outlander. "It offers the performance of a 3.0-liter V6 petrol engine," said Lance Bradley, managing director of Mitsubishi UK. "We know the technology works and that it is good."
Posted: 11 Jul 2012 05:14 AM PDT
Not too far in the future, spray-on energy efficient LED lighting will be applied to paper, plastic or perhaps fabric and other surfaces as well. That could cause more than a little excitement among architects and interior designers in terms of the new aesthetic range. When combined with spray-on batteries and spray-on solar cells the implications for sustainable design are even more exciting.
Like a Chia Pet, with LEDs
Researchers Magnus Willander, Gul Amin and Naved ul Hassan of Linköping University in Sweden have demonstrated that it is possible to “grow” white LEDs directly on paper through a series of paint-on or spray-on steps.
The process involves first coating the paper with a thin layer of a resin called cyclotene, which repels water and creates a smoother surface. Then a layer of a conductive polymer (aka plastic) called polydiethylflourene is applied.
The light source itself consists of nanostructures of zinc oxide, which Amin has also demonstrated can be grown in the form of nanothreads on paper. When blown off the paper with ultrasound, the nanothreads form a powder than can be used in conventional printing presses.
Freestyle, High Efficiency Lighting
Put those together with spray-on LEDs, and you’ve got a killer combination of high efficiency lighting with renewable energy harvesting and energy storage capabilities, which could be applied to any number of smooth surfaces, whether rigid or flexible, flat or curved.
That offers two kinds of potentials for energy conservation. First is the inherent savings of using a high-efficiency lighting source combined with renewable energy harvesting and “smart grid” energy storage.
There are also a number of secondary impacts. The carbon footprint of manufacturing spray-on lighting could be reduced significantly compared to manufacturing bulbs or other devices, since it relies on a chemical process rather than conventional fabrication.
Additional savings result from integrating the light source, solar cell and battery into building materials and design elements, rather than manufacturing separate fixtures.
The elimination of separate lighting fixtures could also result in a more energy efficient building overall, by providing for a more efficient use of interior spaces.
Follow on Twitter: @TinaMCasey.
Posted: 11 Jul 2012 03:00 AM PDT
Adding a green roof to a building offers several benefits, including reducing harmful stormwater runoff, lessening the "heat island" effect, conserving energy and noise, containing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, and extending roof life. Green roofs have been shown to increase people's productivity and offer a new habitat for plants and animals. According to an EPA estimate, the "heat island" effect– when highly developed urban areas are significantly warmer than their less developed surroundings – is responsible for 5 – 10% of community-wide electricity demand. Building owners can save money through lower heating and air conditioning bills and decreased municipal sewer system fees via a green roof. A 2012 study revealed green roofs to be capable of cooling indoor air by 3.6° F in summer, reducing annual energy demand by 6%. Green roofs contain 50 – 80% of annual precipitation, according to Green Roof Technology.
Another important benefit is emerging as green roof experts incorporate photovoltaic systems to generate clean, renewable solar power by taking advantage of green roofs. By installing a solar panel with a green roof, owners can enjoy not only the cost savings and socio-environmental benefits of the living roof but also efficient, renewable solar power – lowering electricity bills by generating clean electricity and reducing demand.
A green roof, also known as a living roof, covers a building with soil and plants. The evaporation these plants facilitate makes the rooftop cooler. This effect enables photovoltaic cells to operate at peak efficiency. Panels mounted on a green roof will produce significantly more energy – up to 16% more – than those mounted on a non-living roof, especially during summer's higher temperatures. Additionally, green roof vegetation removes pollutants and dust from the air that might otherwise interfere with a cell's ability to produce electricity.
American University's Mary Graydon Center features a 8,130-square-foot green roof installed in March 2011. The roof captures over 100,000 gallons of rainfall annually and incorporates 2,150 photovoltaic cells to generate electricity for the building below. The Graydon Center also uses 174 solar thermal energy panels to supply hot water for three nearby residence halls. AU avoids emitting over 550 tons of carbon with this innovative roof.
Green roofs and solar power make a difference even in small homes. A 540-square-foot green roof at 14th & W Streets NW captures 8,640 gallons of rainfall. This homeowner takes further advantage of the roof by installing photovoltaic solar arrays from Groundworks Anacostia.
Germany and Italy may lead the world in solar energy production, but American cities are pioneering in green roof-solar power technology. New York City's Department of Buildings launched a new Green Roof and Solar Tax Abatement Program to encourage solar green roofs. The Portland City Council updated regulatory improvement codes to better incentivize solar panel installations. Austin, Chicago, San Francisco, and Seattle are making green roofs important policy goals, while Washington, DC, is second behind Chicago in total area of green roofs per capita.
While solar panels can take away rainfall and sunlight from green roof vegetation, the introduction of photovoltaic cells can actually strengthen the living roof by creating areas of biodiversity, where plants and animals adapted to less water and light can thrive. A more diverse roof is a more stable roof.
According to Jorg Breuning of Green Roof Technology: "Heat is the enemy of energy production. Any time atmospheric temperatures on a roof begin to rise, PV [photovoltaic] elements lose their efficiency and can shut down if temperatures rise too high. We sought a way to counteract this negative phenomenon by combining solar modules with an extensive green roof." Anacostia Watershed Society recently hosted Mr. Breuning for a lecture on his Sun Root Solar Living Roof System. Besides Green Roof Technology, Australian firm ZinCo has developed the Solar Base module and solar energy companies around the world are adapting photovoltaic cells to green roofs.
AWS's Green Roof Rebate Program, funded by District Department of the Environment, offers financial support for green roofs on residential, commercial, and institutional properties. To learn more about the program, visit our website or call us at (301) 699-6204.
Image Credit: green roof and solar panels via ZinCo
Posted: 11 Jul 2012 02:58 AM PDT
Belectric, a world market leader in photovoltaic system integration, has integrated the world's first 1500-volt operation into the grid. The open-space solar power plant is the first to utilize the full power bandwidth defined by the European Union's Low Voltage Directive, and could result in significantly more efficient grid integration.
The new power plant has been under development and construction for the past few months, with a number of well-known companies participating in the project. The 1500V inverter station was delivered by Padcon GmbH (the ones that specialize in power distribution systems and plant monitoring), and the fluid-cooled outdoor central inverter was built by Power Conversion (a subsidiary of GE Energy in Berlin).
Uses All The Bandwidth
For the first time in the history of photovoltaics, a solar power plant is using the complete power bandwidth outlined by the low voltage directive. In theory, it's the new standard for solar power plant technology. In theory, the use of the entire power bandwidth reduces cost significantly in the cable system and also in the power electronics, which would also correspondingly reduce network expansion costs. The end result? Lower costs for the end user.
Bernhard Beck, CEO of Belectric, said:
Beck's new solar power plant technology can be integrated into existing grids worldwide with no problems. Belectric feels that the open-space power plant, able to provide reactive power around the clock, will be vital to stabilize a network dominated by renewable energy.
Posted: 11 Jul 2012 02:52 AM PDT
“It is one of my life ambitions to create a Field of light installation on the scale I had imagined many moons ago whilst travelling across the Australian outback,” said Bruce on his website. “My aim is to make an event shared in every aspect with as many people in Australia as possible. I aim to install Field of Light at Uluru between April-October 2013.”
The idea is a big one. A quarter of a million LED-lit stems “in a circular format covering an area equivalent to one square Kilometres adjacent to” Uluru [sic].
Munro is working on the design for 500 LED and solar-powered illuminators “so that the installation will be self-sufficient on power,” making it “as small a carbon footprint as possible.”
And you can help, by buying a light stem for £12.
The basic stats are:
Posted: 11 Jul 2012 02:39 AM PDT
So, yeah. The bike is currently only able to sustain air travel for 3 to 5 minutes and weighs a whopping 200 pounds. A prototype won’t be test-flying until August. And it will never go into commercial production.
But you still want one.
Posted: 11 Jul 2012 02:36 AM PDT
The data looks at which states are prioritising bicycle and pedestrian projects that create transportation enhancements, reduce congestion and improve air quality, improve highway safety, and enhancing the safety of surface transportation.
The top five in each category are listed below:
The League of American Bicyclists noted that “the percentage of STP and HSIP funds spent on bicycle and pedestrian spending are generally fairly low. However, both of these sources offer a considerable amount of transportation funding. Even though a state may spend only a few percentages of these sources on bicycles and pedestrians, this can still constitute tens of millions of dollars and shouldn't be overlooked.”
The full spreadsheet of collated data can be downloaded here (XLSX).
Image Source: Tejvan Pettinger
Posted: 11 Jul 2012 12:00 AM PDT
The Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) recently announced the finalists for its GEA Honors awards. The winner will be announced at the GEA National Geothermal Summit Awards Dinner on August 7. The focus of this awards program is to “recognize companies and individuals that have made significant contributions during the past year to advancing technology, spurring economic development or protecting the environment.”
The finalists for each of the three categories, as well as some “special recognition” companies, individuals, and organizations, are as follows:
Technological Advancement: Awarded to an individual or company that has developed a new, innovative, or pioneering technology to further geothermal development.
Economic Development: Awarded to an individual or company that has made a substantial contribution to the development of local, regional or national markets through the development of geothermal systems.
Environmental Stewardship: Awarded to an individual or company that has fostered outstanding environmental stewardship through the use of geothermal systems. This award will be presented in conjunction with the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI).
Special Recognition: Awarded to an individual or company for outstanding achievement in the geothermal industry. These awards are open to both GEA members and non-member companies.
GEA is also honoring these four companies that brought U.S. power plants online in 2011-12:
I’m sure you can learn much more about any of the above, and see who the winners are, at the second annual GEA National Geothermal Summit, which “will bring policy leaders, utilities and industry professionals to Sacramento August 7-8 to discuss the opportunities and challenges facing the geothermal industry.”
As with most such summits, the event will include keynote speakers, breakout plenary sessions, and roundtable discussions. The GEA Honors awards dinner kicks off the event on Tuesday, August 7.
Image Credit: geothermal power plant via Shutterstock
Posted: 10 Jul 2012 10:42 PM PDT
A significant breakthrough in solar technology has been made. Researchers have created a new solar photovoltaic thermal (PVT) system that more efficiently generates both electricity and heat.
Solar PVTs are generally made from crystal silicon cells, generating electricity but not much heat. But there’s a lot of focus on improving this option these days. For example, see these stories from just the past week about such solar panels:
Researchers Stephen Harrison and Joshua Pearce have now designed and tested new amorphous silicon cells in a PVT system. The research observed increased heat generation in them because of their higher operating temperatures and 10 percent more solar electric output.
“These studies open up an entirely new application of amorphous silicon and make a highly-economic PVT possible,” says Dr. Pearce. “We need both solar electricity and solar heating in Canada but we are running into ‘roof real estate’ issues. Now people can have both their solar electricity and solar heating combined in a nice tidy package.”
Amorphous silicon has many distinct advantages over crystal silicon — less material is required, manufacturing it is cheaper, and there is a higher return on investment.
The research also found that amorphous silicon solar cells can be “made into thicker cells as long as they are operated at higher temperatures in the PVT system.”
The research was just published in the journals Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells and Solar Energy.
Posted: 10 Jul 2012 02:34 PM PDT
A recent study by the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland estimates that extreme weather conditions cost EU transport system at least €15 billion a year.
The greatest costs are from road accidents, currently, and also the associated material damage and psychological suffering. The costs that arise from accidents are expected to decrease in volume in the future, though the time-related costs attributable to delays are projected to increase. The researchers say that this is partly due to climate change, “whose impact on extreme weather phenomena was addressed in the study, and because of consequent costs.”
For the study, researchers calculated the costs of extreme weather phenomena for the transport system itself, its users, and the customers of freight carriers in the 27 EU member states. This is the first time that calculations on this scale and scope have been done.
“The study shows that the mode of traffic most vulnerable to extreme weather is road traffic. It continues to have a higher volume than the other modes, with the additional factor of not being centralised or professionally controlled, in contrast to rail or aviation.”
“In particular, the consequences of extreme weather are visible in road traffic in the form of increased road accidents and the cost arising from them. In other traffic modes, far more likely than accidents will be time-related costs with a variety of causes, typically delays. Aviation in particular is prone to time-related costs in extreme weather.”
The annual net cost of extreme weather for European aviation is in the billions of euros. The cost is mostly carried by travellers and airline operators. In a somewhat surprisingly finding, “infrastructure related costs did not have a lion’s share of the total costs.”
Here are more details from a recent VCC news release regarding the study:
The full report is available online: “The costs of extreme weather for the European transport systems. EWENT project D4″ [PDF].
Posted: 10 Jul 2012 01:44 PM PDT
China’s Trina Solar is expanding in North America, entering the Canadian solar photovoltaic (PV) market with the opening of an Ontario-based sales and development office and a partnership with Silfab Ontario that will enable Trina to offer locally manufactured solar panels in the Canadian market, the company announced today.
The Ontario government’s enactment of a renewable energy feed-in tariff (FiT) has made the province the focal point for solar, wind and renewable energy development in Canada. More than 5,600 MW of wind power capacity alone is expected to be installed in Ontario by 2018. That’s been a boon to the economy and job creation in the province, as well as for the environment.
Canada’s Solar Energy Focal Point: Ontario
Ontario rates at the top of the list for North America in terms of its market for solar energy, as well. Ontario is the second-largest solar energy market on the continent, ranking only behind California, Trina noted in its press release.
“We foresee strong growth for the Canadian industry that could reach 1GW by 2015. We look forward to participating more directly in the growth of the industry and to collaborating with our Canadian partners to bring solar PV to the next level of adoption and popularity.”
In addition to opening its sales and development office, Canada subsidiary Trina Solar Energy Development Pte. Ltd. has signed an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) partnership to do the final assembly work that will put silicon solar PV modules from neighboring, Mississauga-based Silfab on the Canadian market under Trina’s brand name.
As a certified Trina supply chain partner, output from Silfab is expected to meet demand for Trina solar panels in Canada, according to the company.
Having rapidly come to dominate the global market for silicon solar PV cells and panels, Trina and other Chinese solar power companies have embarked on ambitious international expansion plans, both as a means to expand their businesses and avoiding actual and potential import tariffs. The US Commerce Dept. and International Trade Commission have issued preliminary tariff penalties on Chinese silicon solar cell and panel imports, having determined that Chinese silicon solar PV manufacturers have been dumping solar PV cells and modules in the US and the Chinese government has been providing subsidies prohibited by WTO rules. A final determination on the tariff duties is expected in October.
Trina has recently garnered recognition for its sustainable practices, corporate viability, and field performance, the company points out. It took top honors among solar PV panel manufacturers in the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition’s annual global review of sustainable manufacturing practices and was also ranked first among its peers in terms of its financial outlook in PRTM’s Sustainable Growth Index Field Performance. The California Energy Commissions ranked Trina’s solar PV panels first on its PTC/STC ratio of real-world performance.
Photo Credit: Trina Solar
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