Sunday, September 30, 2012

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Link to CleanTechnica

European Union Wind Power Capacity Reaches 100 GW!

Posted: 29 Sep 2012 05:00 PM PDT

The European Union’s installed wind power capacity has reached a milestone — the 100 gigawatt (GW) mark. That’s the equivalent of the electricity generated by 39 nuclear power plants, or “a train of coal stretching from Buenos Aires to Brussels.” There are financial risks that are threatening this growth though, according to industry body EWEA.


“We have just in the past couple of weeks passed 100 gigawatts of total installed capacity in Europe,” Christian Kjaer, CEO of the European Wind Energy Association is quoted as saying.

“We have been adding about 10 gigawatts per year for a couple of years and it will be around the same this year,” he added. “Whether that will continue in 2013, I can’t say. There’s too much political uncertainty.”

The wind power industry is very capital-intensive, so after banks recently “shortened the maturity of loans and increased costs for lenders,” it’s now facing challenges, Kjaer said, according to a Reuters news report.

In order to counter this, wind power companies are now looking for additional funding through “long-term investors, including pension funds and insurers to make up the shortfall.”

And happening at the same time, the recent economic crisis in the European Union has been leading to significant changes in government policies to do with the funding of renewable energy.

Recent growth in wind power in the EU this year includes 400 megawatts (MW) developed by DONG Energy off the coast of Denmark, and 48 MW developed by EDF Energies Nouvelles Polska in Poland, EWEA said.

So far, the majority for installed wind power has been onshore wind, but the rapidly emerging large-scale offshore wind sector can potentially double the current 100 gigawatts very fast,… once it solves its financing and grid issues.

Currently, the industry cost estimates for installing offshore are at least 2 times higher than onshore, “3-4 million euros per megawatt, compared with around 1.2-1.4 million euros for onshore.”

In order to stimulate future investment, EWEA is pushing the European Commission and its member states to “agree on a policy beyond the existing target of a 20 percent share of energy from renewable sources by 2020. It also wants to ensure major investment in the European grid, as part of a single energy market, in which supplies can easily cross national borders.”

Source: Reuters
Image Credits: Wind Turbines and Turbines via Wikimedia Commons

First Solar May Supply Panels for Biggest Solar Project

Posted: 29 Sep 2012 04:43 PM PDT

First Solar may win a contract to supply the solar panels required to construct the world’s largest solar power farm for NextEra Energy Incorporated (NEE). The electricity generation capacity of this plant will be 1,000 MW (1 million kilowatts).

NextEra is considering First Solar’s cadmium telluride solar technology for the construction of this Blythe project, which is in Southern California, according to a document filed with the California Energy Commission.

First Solar is a manufacturer of thin-film CdTe (cadmium telluride) solar panels. Cadmium telluride is a combination of the elements cadmium and tellurium. The company also designs and constructs solar power stations.

According to Ben Schuman, an analyst at Pacific Crest Securities in Portland, Oregon: First Solar may be the only manufacturer with the production capacity required to supply enough solar panels to NextEra.

"It would definitely be a positive for First Solar if they were able to win a 1,000-megawatt project," said Schuman.

NexEra hasn’t yet decided on a supplier, and might obtain solar panels from multiple suppliers according to Stephen Stengel, a NextEra spokesperson. This is an unusually large solar farm. Even a 400-MW solar farm is unusually large, and this is 2.5 times that size.

NextEra received approval on June 27 from a bankruptcy court to purchase Blythe from the former developer, the bankrupt SolarTrust of America LLC.

NextEra is a Juno Beach, Florida–based power company. First Solar is based in Tempe, Arizona.

First Solar is already working with another power company on another large power plant, the 550-MW Desert Sunlight solar farm in Riverside County, California. It is jointly owned by General Electric Co. and NextEra.

Source: Bloomberg
Image Credit: First Solar

Guess What: 93% of Fox News, 81% Wall St. Journal Reporting on Global Warming Just Plain Wrong

Posted: 29 Sep 2012 04:35 PM PDT

The Internet puts vast, overwhelming amounts of information at our fingertips. It’s a truly great thing, and more and more of us not only have the time to search, surf, and troll through this ever-growing digital repository, but we’re also compelled to do so to earn our livelihoods.

With this and the ever-growing complexity of modern life, we come to form opinions about an ever-growing mass of topics, some of which we come emotionally attached to (at times too strongly attached to), despite a lack of significant direct exposure or experience. More and more conditioned to fast-moving events and never-ending change — change in information/communications technology, in particular — we’re compelled to form opinions, perhaps even take actions, on an ever-growing range of topics at an ever-faster pace.

Climate change is certainly one issue that seems to generate strong, deep, often emotionally driven responses and opinions. Now, suppose you learned that the sources of information you’ve been relying on to form your opinions about climate change, or any topic for that matters, were erroneous… bunkum…. Not just some of the time, but more than 80%-90% of the time!

Would you: a) acknowledge this, reject those sources, and search for new and better news and information sources upon which you could reformulate better informed opinions, or b) hold fast to your comfortable opinions and preferred news and information sources and deny that they’re wrong?


Astounding Disrespect for the Public and the Truth

Well, an eye-opening study of primetime news coverage on global warming by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) found that 93% of primetime Fox News’ discussions of global warming are inaccurate, LiveScience reports. Examining the same at the venerable Wall St. Journal, UCS found that an astounding 81% is just plain wrong!

Can you imagine? Millions of Americans rely on these news agencies’ reporting and analysis to inform themselves and form opinions, and now we find that they’re leading people badly astray on a critical issue of our times! It’s not only shameful, it’s dangerous.

“It’s like they were writing and talking about some sort of bizarre world where climate change isn’t happening,” study author Aaron Huertas, a press secretary at UCS, told LiveScience. “It’s clear that we’re not having a fact-based dialogue about climate change."

If Fox News and WSJ had any self-respect and felt any sense of public, civic responsibility or obligation to inform the American public accurately and comprehensively, they should promptly issue a public apology and change their ways, if not do the decent thing and resign their positions and close up shop, or at least that part of the shop that deals with this issue. Worse than their own shamelessness is that this shows even less respect and responsibility to American and other viewers, not to mention a simple but crucial item: the truth.

In conducting the study on climate change reporting, UCS researchers sifted through six months of Fox News primetime programs from February to July 2012 and one year of WSJ op-eds from August 2011 to July 2012 for discussions of global warming.

"The most common climate mistakes on Fox News involved misleading statements on basic climate science, or simple undermining and disparaging of the field of climate science," LiveScience reports. "For example, on March 23, one on-air personality referred to global warming as a ‘hoax and fraud.’ (The analysis did not look at non-primetime broadcasts or"

UCS’ aim in conducting the study "is not to shut down legitimate debate on the appropriateness of various climate policies," the news report continues.

“It is entirely appropriate to disagree with specific actions or policies aimed at addressing climate change while accepting the clearly established findings of climate science,” according to the report authors. “And while it is appropriate to question new science as it emerges, it is misleading to reject or sow doubt about established science — in this case, the overwhelming body of evidence that human-caused climate change is occurring.”

Oh, one more item of significance. Both Fox News and the Wall St. Journal are part of Rupert Murdoch’s sprawling global news and media empire, News Corp. Yes, the same globe-spanning news agency that used to publish the UK tabloid News of the World and whose most senior executives have been criminally indicted for illegally tapping cell phones and publishing the information it gathered. It seems that shameless disrespect for themselves, their obligations as a news organization, the public, and the truth are fundamental values upon which Murdoch’s globe-spanning news and media empire are based. To the extent and degree that people still choose to watch and read what it broadcasts and publishes, we’ll all be the worse off for it.

Multi-Million-Dollar Solar Rebate Program Being Offered by Solar Electric System Provider in Florida

Posted: 29 Sep 2012 07:00 AM PDT


Solar Florida image by Shutterstock

SolarTek Systems USA Inc. is starting a new solar rebate program after recently acquiring $2,000,000 in funding for a rebate program from their supplier of solar equipment, Rosvik Power Systems, Inc. The rebate is only good for solar electric systems that were purchased from SolarTek and installed in the state of Florida.

“The rebate will be available on systems ordered between 9:00am September 17, 2012 and 5:00pm October 27, 2012. Systems receiving rebates must be installed prior to December 31, 2012. Rebates will be allocated strictly on a first come, first served basis and are available at a fixed rate of $2.00 per installed watt with an absolute cap of $30,000 per installation.”

To learn more, go to the SolarTrek website.

Source: PR Newswire

Google Purchases 48 MW of Wind Power for Its Oklahoma Data Center

Posted: 29 Sep 2012 02:00 AM PDT

Google this week announced its purchase of 48 megawatts of renewable wind power to provide electricity for its data center located in Oklahoma, USA. That's a very large amount of electricity, enough to power a small city.

The recent announcement shows that with a forward-thinking approach, large companies can make significant contributions to the transition to a renewable energy economy.

“To power its Oklahoma data centre – one of the facilities responsible for bringing you your Gmail, Docs, and Google search results – Google faced a local electricity mix of over 50% coal power,” Greenpeace writes. “But as one of the major electricity customers in the state, Google worked with the local utility to secure a new supply of renewable wind energy.”

Google’s decision to source the electricity for its data center entirely from renewable energy should send a message to other large “internet companies and electric utilities around the world that renewable energy is not only possible, but is simply smart business in the 21st-century economy,” Greenpeace adds.

Source: Greenpeace

China Plans to Rapidly Grow Its Urban Rail Systems

Posted: 29 Sep 2012 12:00 AM PDT

The central government of China has approved 25 new rail projects in cities across the country — in total, hundreds of billions of dollars in new construction.


As China's growth has continued to slow, and the U.S. and Europe have continued to perform poorly economically, the leadership in China has decided to accelerate its plans for rapid transit networks throughout all its major cities as part of a larger transportation infrastructure program. More than $127 billion (or 800 billion yuan) is to be used over the next 3-8 years in order to create 25 new subways and elevated rail lines.

“Though China's high-speed rail network (now the largest in the world) has garnered most of the headlines when it comes to transportation there, the nation's investments in urban rail have been just as dramatic and serve far more people on a daily basis. Its three largest metropolitan areas — Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Beijing — feature the world's fourth, fifth, and sixth most-used transit systems, providing more than five million rides each daily, more than similar networks in New York or Paris. Most of these cities' lines opened since 2000.”

These systems, even with their high ridership, are generally not profitable operationally, though. As an example, on the very expensive Shanghai system, only 1 out of 11 lines can cover their operational and maintenance costs; much less pay back large loans.

But the government in China doesn’t seem to see a subsidized mass transit network as a problem, figuring that the infrastructure will help economic growth. “In general, the new national aid, which comes in the form of very reduced borrowing costs, will allow for the fast-tracking of projects already in the pipeline, much as Los Angeles has hoped to do with its transit projects. On average, 42% of financing will be directed from local governments, with the rest financed by banks, all benefiting from the lower bond rates. Costs will be eventually covered through long-term tax revenue.”

According to current plans, by 2020, China will have “40 cities with metros extending 7,000 route kilometers” — that is 5 times more than what’s in the United States currently.

Because of the density of major Chinese cities, the authorities there think that the transit infrastructure will create ‘positive externalities’ that greatly outweigh the costs of the subsidies. With fares set so low, the metro lines can attract very high ridership and passengers from all the different economic classes. “Even in the densest, most-packed city centers, metro systems allow largely congestion-free mobility that is able to handle far more people and provide faster service than equivalent tramway or BRT programs. There is a reason these projects have proven so popular among China's citizens. The transportation benefits they offer certainly contribute to economic growth in the center of the cities they serve and likely limit the suburbanization of jobs.”

Source: Planetizen
Image Credits: Train via Wikimedia Commons