Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Link to CleanTechnica

$495,970 Rebate for New HP Energy Efficient Data Center

Posted: 10 Sep 2012 11:40 PM PDT

 
The City of Palo Alto has written a $495,970 rebate check to Hewlett-Packard (HP) for designing and constructing a new data center that is cooled mostly with fresh air. It is estimated HP will save nearly 5 million kWh per year by using this system, rather than a conventional one using electricity. (There is a backup system using electricity for hot days, but it uses more efficient technology.)

rebate

The almost 5 million kWh was said to be equivalent to the power needs of 640 homes per year. Cooper Preuit Engineers Inc., Enovity Inc., and staff from Hewlett-Packard collaborated on the new cool system design.

Some of the other energy-saving efforts made by HP are:

  • installing clear vinyl curtains from the ceiling to contain heat exiting from server racks;
  • oversizing air intakes and relief louvers to bring in outside air to cool;
  • without using supplemental fans, increasing chiller efficiency by using models with variable speed drives.

 

 
The very large rebate check HP received for the fresh-air cooling system is not HP’s only rebate from the City of Palo Alto. There previously had been others totaling $700,000.

HP has been focused on energy efficiency for some time. It has estimated that by 2015 there will be about ten million servers needed for the world’s computing needs. In 2011, it was predicted that the number of servers managing the world’s data will grow by ten times.

Energy efficiency measures at other data centers the company supports have cut an estimated 13 million kWh or 7,200 tons of CO2 emissions, according to HP.

Image Credit: CPAU Credit City of Palo Alto


What Are the Top 10 Best Cars for Commuting?

Posted: 10 Sep 2012 11:30 PM PDT

 
Top 10 Cars bills itself as the “most comprehensive automotive ranking and comparison car website” out there, and last week it released a list of what it believes are the TOP 10 Cars for Commuting, based on fuel-efficiency ratings in city driving conditions and a high Total Car Score.

At the top of the list was the Nissan Leaf electric, with a whopping City Miles Per Gallon of 106, but a lower Total Car Score of 78.76. The full list of cars is below.

“The highway number can be an inaccurate representation of real-world fuel efficiency,” remarked Karl Brauer, Editor in Chief of Total Car Score. “The mixed mpg rating, which represents the overall fuel efficiency of a vehicle, is usually closer to the city mpg than the highway number. That’s because the EPA knows most people spend the majority of their drive time in low-speed, stop-and-go driving conditions.”

Additionally, Mr. Brauer points out, when you combine a high city mpg with a high Total Car Score, you get an interesting mix of cars that are excellent for commuting.

“While the list specifies 2012 models,” said Mr. Brauer, “most of these cars are largely unchanged for 2013. However, because dealers want to move the 2012s out and make room for the 2013s after Labor DayWeekend, shoppers will likely find more competitive pricing and negotiating power if they buy a 2012 model.”

Clearly, other than the fully electric Nissan Leaf, hybrids rule the show when it comes to commuting:

Make/Model              City MPG      Total Car Score
1.  Nissan Leaf (electric) 106 78.76
2.  Toyota Camry Hybrid 43 86.31
3.  Ford Fusion Hybrid 41 80.05
4.  Hyundai Sonata Hybrid 35 83.56
5.  Lexus RX Hybrid 32 85.13
6.  Volkswagen Passat (diesel) 31 82.19
7.  Audi A3 (diesel) 30 80.76
8.  Volkswagen Golf (diesel) 30 83.29
9.  Chevrolet Sonic 29 76.56
10. Ford Fiesta 29 77.08

 

 
Source: PR Newswire


EV Owners Drive 1,050 Miles/Month on $30

Posted: 10 Sep 2012 11:20 PM PDT

 
Owners of electric vehicles drive an average of 1,050 miles a month and spend only ~$30 dollars in charging costs per month compared to ‘regular’ drivers. That’s a savings of around $75 per month in fuel costs, and around 360 pounds less CO2 emitted.

20120909-131804.jpg

These numbers were obtained from the pooled data of EV drivers who use PlugShare, “a mobile and web application developed by Xatori, a technology company focused on building innovative software for connected cars.” The PlugShare app has grown over the past few years to its current nationwide charging network that includes more than 100,000 users and 11,000 charging stations across the U.S., making it the world’s largest EV charging network. At its start, there were only data on 500 charging stations in the app.
 

 
“The mobile app assists drivers in finding the best charging options nearby and also collects information on EV behavior, hence the user/driver patterns and top EV-ready cities previously mentioned. A new app, GreenCharge, is an iOS app that simplifies the driver experience and can connect with a Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt or Toyota Prius Plug-In.”

Some of the interesting stats derived from the app include a ranking of the top electric vehicle-ready cities in North America. Somewhat surprisingly, the top three are Portland, Dallas, and Nashville. While San Francisco and Seattle lag behind at numbers four and five.

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LA doesn’t even make the top 10. “The article doesn’t define the methodology for what city makes the EV-ready city cut, or what it actually means. As for Portland, that’s got to be the city in Oregon and not the one in Maine.”

Source: AutoBlogGreen
Image Credits: AutoGuide


LEDs Light the Way to a Smaller Footprint, to Surge Ahead in Coming Years

Posted: 10 Sep 2012 11:10 PM PDT

 
Shedding more light on the path to soften our environmental footprint, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) recently shared a key way for us to use less resources. A new report from the Department of Energy and UK–based N14 Energy Limited found that LEDs are leading the way into the future.

“The light-emitting diode lamp is a rapidly evolving technology that, while already energy-efficient, will become even more so in just a few short years,” said Marc Ledbetter, who manages PNNL’s solid-state lighting testing, analysis, and deployment efforts.

“Our comprehensive analysis indicates technological advancements in the near future will help people who use these lamps to keep shrinking their environmental footprints.”

This is the first public report to examine the environmental impact of LED manufacturing in depth. Various impacts were considered when evaluating environmental footprints, including the potential to increase global warming; use land formerly available to wildlife; generate waste; and pollute water, soil, and air.

The report examined the complete life cycles of three kinds of light bulbs: light-emitting diodes (also called LEDs), compact fluorescents (or CFLs), and traditional incandescent light bulbs.

Less Footprint, More Resources

As consumers, if we choose to use energy-efficient lighting, it is another way to keep shrinking our environmental footprints. At the moment, LEDs & CFLs are quite comparable on that front.

“Regardless of whether consumers use LEDs or CFLs, this analysis shows we could reduce the environmental impact of lighting by three to 10 times if we choose more efficient bulbs instead of incandescents,” Ledbetter said.

led lamp up close

LED Light bulb closeup — people who use these lamps shrink their environmental footprints.

This report, completed for the Solid-State Lighting Program of DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, is the first public report to examine the environmental impact of LED manufacturing in depth.
 

 

Leave Your Incandescents Behind

Along with all the concerns regarding lights and resources, this study shows that the difference between those two bulbs’ overall environmental performance is largely determined by the energy and resources needed to make them. But both are worlds better than incandescents.

“By using more energy to create light, incandescent bulbs also use more of the natural resources needed to generate the electricity that powers them,” Ledbetter said.

This and other DOE reports on solid-state lighting are available online.

Source: Heather E. Dillon and Michael J. Scholand, “Life-Cycle Assessment of Energy and Environmental Impacts of LED Lighting Products, Part 2: LED Manufacturing and Performance,” June 2012.
Images: Philips AmbientLED by John Loo; LED Lightbulb closeup by matt512


Lada: 1st Russian-Built Electric Vehicle

Posted: 10 Sep 2012 11:00 PM PDT

 
A vehicle called “El Lada” is to be the first Russian-built electric vehicle.

Renault and Nissan, which are sister companies, own 50% of Lada.

El Lada Russian Electric Car.

El Lada is shown below in a video that was released by AvtoVAZ, which is also a part-owner of Lada,

The car has a 60kW (80 HP) electric motor that facilitates a top speed of up to 80 mph, and it can travel up to 100 miles after each charge.

This 5-door compact hatchback electric car will undergo its first tests as a taxi in the city of Stavropol in southern Russia, which is about 100 miles above the border of Georgia. This is reminiscent of a recent EV taxi project in The Netherlands commissioned by Better Place Consortium.

Project Better Place offers a concept that enables electric vehicles to switch their batteries to fully charged ones in less than 2 minutes. This is very impressive compared to normal charge times for all other electric cars on the market today. But the key is that the vehicles don’t have to charge their own batteries – they swap them with already charged ones. But, back to Lada….

Lada recently hired former Mercedes-Benz senior designer, and former Volvo chief designer, Steve Mattin to run the Russian automaker’s design operations.

Lada has apparently jumped ahead of Yo Auto, which is owned partially by Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov. Yo Auto claimed in 2010 that it would start producing Russia’s first hybrid vehicle by the end of this year. The company recently retracted this claim and said that the car, which is called a Yo Mobile, will not be available until 2015.

Source: Autoblog


Transit Creates 31-84% More Jobs than Building Highways (Per $1 Spent)

Posted: 10 Sep 2012 10:00 PM PDT

 
Give the people what they want. And what do they want? Well, a few things: Jobs, more money in their pockets, mass transit, and less polluted air. And how can we achieve all of those things? Transit-oriented development.

Greg LeRoy’s contribution on The Blog over at The Huffington Post makes the case for putting priority on mass transit initiatives to spur job growth, using facts and figures about job creation from the Recovery Act. LeRoy writes, “Two analyses of the Act’s apples-to-apples jobs data found that building transit systems created 31 to 84 percent more jobs per $1 billion than did building highways.”

So, instead of roads to nowhere, effective public planning should  focus on repairing the existing highway system and providing mass transit that will inevitably create jobs and lessen our collective dependence on expensive, dirty oil imports.
 

 
The success of transit-oriented development news is sweet, sweet music to the ears of the environmentally conscience, un-(or under)employed, folks choosing (or financially forced) to live without cars, and those of us who just think mass transit is the ish.

Source: The Huffington Post
Image: mass transit in Portland, Oregon via Shutterstock 


Where’s the Clean Energy Stimulus? Q2 a Record Quarter for US Solar Market

Posted: 10 Sep 2012 05:52 PM PDT

 
Republicans and other opposing parties—i.e. Big Oil—are intensifying populist rhetoric and efforts to derail the Obama Administration’s legislative and policy initiatives to promote and foster solar, wind, and renewable energy development and market growth in the US. The good news: the US solar energy market continues to expand, creating green jobs as well as clean, reliable, and local power for individuals, communities, commerce, industry, and public services across the country.

US solar energy market growth surged 45% higher quarter-to-quarter in Q2 2012 and 116% year-over-year (YoY), according to the Solar Energy Industry Association and GTM Research’s latest quarterly "U.S. Solar Market Insight" report.

The results mark Q2 2012 as the second-best quarter in the history of US solar energy, with 742 MW of solar power having been installed. It was also the best-ever quarter recorded for utility solar. Utility solar power installations totaled 477 MW in Q2, according to the SEIAGTM report.


 

 

Record 2Q for US Solar Market

Credit: SEIA, GTM Research “U.S. Solar Market Insight” Q2 2012

Assertions to the contrary notwithstanding, solar and renewable energy are giving a much-needed boost to US job creation and the economy, and federal government support is a critical factor supporting progress. More than 100,000 Americans working for some 5,600 mostly small businesses across all 50 states are now employed in the US solar energy market.

More than eight states installed 10 MW of solar power or more in the second three months of 2012: California, Arizona, Nevada, Texas, Illinois, North Carolina, New Mexico, and New Jersey. There is now more than 5,700 MW of installed solar power capacity in the US, enough to supply more than 940,000 households, according to the report.

Though utilities’ installing of solar power capacity drove 2Q results to their record gains, the US residential solar energy market also contributed a lot, registering its fourth consecutive quarter of growth. Growth in residential solar was incremental, according to the report, with 98.2 MW of new capacity having been installed. California, Arizona, and New Jersey led residential installations nationally. Residential solar installation growth was also strong in Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Maryland.

The latest “US Solar Market Insight” report also shows how rapidly the third-party residential solar ownership model has gained traction across the country. Third-party residential solar installations accounted fro more than 70% of total Q2 installation in major state markets, including California, Arizona, and Colorado.

In California, Q2 marked the first time the cost of a third-party residential solar installation was lower than that of a residential solar PV system purchased outright, according to SEIA and GTM’s research: $5.64 per watt for third-party versus $5.84 per watt for directly-owned solar systems.

In contrast, Q2 solar power installations contracted in the non-residential market segment, which includes commercial, government, and non-profit solar power installations. As a whole, installations fell from 291 MW in Q1 to 196 MW in Q2. Non-residential solar installations contracted sharply in California (down 45%) and New Jersey (down 35%). The decline was broad-based, however.

“Only ten of the 24 states the report tracks individually saw quarterly growth in the non-residential market in Q2 2012,” the report authors elaborate. “This trend was likely due to a combination of factors. In some individual markets such as New Jersey, it was a result of state-market-specific factors such as SREC oversupply. In other states, Q1 2012 had been bolstered by safe-harbored 1603 Treasury Program installations.”

What’s Ahead for US Solar in 2012?

GTM forecasts that the utility photovoltaic (PV) market will continue strong through the remainder of 2012 — their count there are more than 3,400 MW of utility PV projects under construction. The renewable energy news, research, and market data provider anticipates an additional 1.1 gigawatts (GW) of newly installed power capacity to come online before year’s end. In total, the report’s forecast anticipates 3.2 GW of solar PV being installed in the US in 2012. That would be a 71% YoY increase.

SEIA and GTM also anticipate average US system prices will continue to fall. They’ll drop an additional 10% over the remaining course of 2012 as compared to the previous quarter, SEIA and GTM say.

"The U.S. solar industry is rapidly growing and creating jobs across America despite the slow economic recovery," SEIA president and CEO Rhone Resch stated for the press. "More solar was installed in the U.S. this quarter than in all of 2009, led for the first time by record-setting utility-scale projects.

"With costs continuing to come down, solar is affordable today for more homes, businesses, utilities, and the military. Smart, consistent, long-term policy is driving the innovation and investment that's making solar a larger share of our overall energy mix."

Other key findings in SEIA-GTM Research’s Q2 "U.S. Solar Market Insight" report include:

Photovoltaics (PV):

  • PV installations totaled 742 megawatts in Q2 2012, up 45 percent over Q1 2012 and 116 percent over Q2 2011
  • The residential market remained relatively flat in Q2, while the non-residential market shrank 33 percent on a quarterly basis
  • Q2 2012 was the largest quarter ever for utility PV installations, as more than 20 projects were completed, totaling 447 megawatts
  • There is now a cumulative 5,161 megawatts of PV capacity spread amongst nearly 248,000 individual systems operating in the U.S. as of the end of Q2
  • GTM Research forecasts that 3.2 gigawatts of PV will be installed in the U.S. in 2012, up 71 percent over 2011

Concentrating Solar Power (CSP and CPV):

  • Cogentrix's 30-megawatt-ac CPV Alamosa Solar came on-line
  • Construction progressed at the BrightSource Ivanpah Project, with 92 percent of pylon installation complete at Unit 1 at the end of June
  • Two CSP projects, the 100-megawatt Quartzsite Project and the 100-megawatt Moapa Solar Energy Center, were expedited under President Obama's "We Can't Wait" initiative
  • As of the end of Q2 there is a cumulative of 546 megawatts concentrating solar capacity operating in the U.S.


Wind Provides Nearly 60% of Energy Demand in South Australia (Graphs)

Posted: 10 Sep 2012 05:33 PM PDT

 
This article was originally published on Renew Economy. It has been reposted with full permission.

Last week was another big week for wind production in South Australia – as another spring weather system with high winds made wind energy the dominant force in local energy production.

According to figures pulled together by consultants Intelligent Energy Systems using data from the Australian Market Operator, wind energy accounted for 57.9 per cent of demand in the state on Tuesday, and followed up with 55 per cent of total demand on Wednesday.

At the morning peak of 10am, it accounted for 65 per cent – and in the early hours of the morning on Wednesday, when demand was weakest, it accounted for 80 per cent. On Monday, wind accounted for more than 85 per cent, a record.
 

 
These graphs below illustrate what happened on Tuesday and Wednesday. Put together by Intelligent Energy Systems, the key bits to look at are the black line, which shows demand; and the dark and light blue shades, which indicate wind energy (dark blue is older installations, light blue the newer ones). Orange represents gas.

The pink stuff at the bottom represents exports from South Australia to other states. On Tuesday, the state was exporting almost all day, as the wind output was quite consistent. On Wednesday, it exported for most of the day and there is a bit of pink at the top in the late afternoon to indicate coal imported from Victoria. (South Australia's coal generators are in mothballs right now due to the impact of wind, and lower demand, and the carbon price).

energy production south australia

natural gas wind energy production south australia

 

These one-day graphs, of course, are just snapshots of an overall trend happening in the state, and across the National Electricity Market, that will only become more apparent as the amount of wind and solar installed in the country increases. Indeed, Drew Reidy from IES says these days only rank as the 6th and 12th highest in terms of energy produced on a single day, and 5th and 6th in terms of percentage of demand. The highest day in terms of output was on August 17 this year, while the highest in terms of percentage of demand came in February 5, when wind accounted for 64.1 per cent of demand across the day.

The Clean Energy Council's Russell March said it was proof that wind energy can generate real power – and lots of it. "This type of significant wind generation is common in South Australia," he said. In 2011/12, according to AEMO data, wind produced 24 per cent of the state's generation, overtaking coal. And, Russell noted, AEMO data shows that emissions from South Australia's electricity sector have dropped every year since 2005/06, and have reduced by more than 27 per cent over the last five years.

"All this wind is putting SA way ahead of the curve on the national Renewable Energy Target, helping provide farmers and local business owners in regional areas with extra income. It also means that the state's residents collectively have a lower carbon price bill, while getting fully compensated from the Federal Government under the scheme." Indeed, on Tuesday and Wednesday, the state enjoyed not just by far the cleanest energy in the country, but also the cheapest, with average prices over the day at $43/MWh, compared to more than $52/MWh for NSW.

Another energy consultancy firm Pitt & Sherry this week produced the latest of their monthly updates of Australia's energy mix and energy emissions – which point to a consistent change as coal-fired generation (principally black coal) is reduced and wind and gas offset that rise. The only reason brown coal generation is not changed is because they continue to be the lowest cost – although the closure of the South Australian generators, and the winding back of production at Energy Brix in Victoria, may give a different picture over the longer term.

australia electricity from coal, natural gas, renewable energy

 

Pitt&Sherry noted that the output of wind generators, on an annualised basis, has been growing every month for ten years and in the year ending August 2012 reached 3.7 per cent of NEM generation. In the month of August itself, the wind contribution to NEM generation was 5.0 per cent.

It noted that brown coal has been steady in its output, thanks to its advantageous place in the electricity market's merit order. "With both gas and wind generation increasing and demand for electricity from NEM generators now almost unchanged from demand in the year ending June 2006, where has the brown coal electricity been going? Out of Victoria, to NSW and SA, where it has been displacing higher cost black coal generation in both States," it said. And the combined effect of that has been the lowest level of national emissions since 2003.


Mitsubishi Hybrid SUV

Posted: 10 Sep 2012 12:13 PM PDT

 
I’m not a big fan of SUVs, to be quite frank. Not just because they are gas guzzlers — personally, I just don’t like big vehicles that aren’t trams, buses, trains, or airplanes. But, I have to say, this upcoming Mitsubishi plug-in hybrid SUV looks pretty nice:



2014 Mitsubishi Outlander Targets 143 MPG With 3 Driving Modes (via Gas 2.0)

Japanese automaker Mitsubishi has been in a bit of a lurch these days as its aging product lineup has a hard time competing with newer, more exciting and fuel-efficient vehicles. But Mitsu is hoping that its Outlander plug-in hybrid vehicle can recover some of that lost mojo. Give Mitsubishi credit…




Fracking Is Freakin’ Bad News (If You Care About Your Water, That Is)

Posted: 10 Sep 2012 12:06 PM PDT

 
We’ve had our share of posts on natural gas fracking. Perhaps not as many as Planetsave, but close. Don Lieber, one of our writers on Planetsave, actually has a new one out that is pretty clear on one point — fracking is bad news. Check it out:



Fracking and the Natural Gas “Boom” — No National Standards, Secrecy, and Carcinogens (via Planetsave)

  The President of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Francis Beinecke, recently visited areas in western Pennsylvania where 'fracking' operations are occurring, and spoke with local residents about the impacts of these projects in their communities. My cousin — a medical professional…




Hanergy to Launch Thin-Film Solar Systems in IKEA Stores

Posted: 10 Sep 2012 09:27 AM PDT

 
IKEA stores in the UK will soon be stocking thin-film solar systems and “a comprehensive homeowner service package that includes a full site survey, installation, fitting and a guarantee,” thanks to Hanergy Holding Group Limited.
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Hanergy and IKEA UK will also be conducting three workshops at the IKEA Milton Keynes store on September 9 as a part of their partnership. And nearly 70,000 messages have already been distributed by IKEA to their British members in order to recommend Hanergy solar systems for homeowners.
 

 
"We believe in the growth potential of the British PV market. This is why Hanergy has decided to launch its small power generation systems in the UK. Our cooperation with IKEA was only a matter of time since we share the same principles of environmental protection and sustainable development," said Jason Chow, CEO of Hanergy Global Investment & Sales Pte. Ltd.

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According to current estimates, Hanergy rooftop units can save up to 40% on the electric bills of British households. And with enough units installed, homeowners are actually able to generate enough electricity to make some money off of it, by selling the excess back to the National Grid through the UK’s feed-in-tariff (FiT) scheme.

Source: Business Wire
Image Credits: IKEA


Can PACE Local Energy Financing Come Back?

Posted: 10 Sep 2012 09:15 AM PDT

 
It can with your help – submit a comment to the FHFA by Thursday, Sept. 13!

After effectively suspending residential PACE energy efficiency and renewable energy municipal financing programs in 2010, and then being taken to federal court and required to do a revised rule making, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) released its revised ruling on PACE programs [pdf] earlier this summer.

Did the agency repent from its 2010 assertion that PACE presented a risk to mortgage holders like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?

In short, no.

The ruling states:

The Enterprises shall immediately take such actions as are necessary to secure and/or preserve their right to make immediately due the full amount of any obligation secured by a mortgage that becomes, without the consent of the mortgage holder, subject to a first-lien PACE obligation…

The Enterprises [Fannie and Freddie] shall not purchase any mortgage that is subject to a first- lien PACE obligation…

The Enterprises shall not consent to the imposition of a first-lien PACE obligation on any mortgage.

In other words, h*** no.  So residential PACE is still dead and it's not clear that anything short of a replacement at the top of the FHFA could make a difference.

Click here to learn what is PACE. You can also read ILSR’s 2010 report on the lessons learned from early PACE programs, or try to feel better by laughing it off.

This post originally appeared on ILSR's Energy Self-Reliant States blog.


Wind Energy Could Meet Global Demand 20–100 Times Over, New Study Finds

Posted: 10 Sep 2012 08:41 AM PDT

 
All of the world’s energy needs could be provided for solely by wind power, according to new research from the Carnegie Institute and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

20120910-083854.jpg

The winds are capable of providing more than enough energy to meet all of the world’s demands. The potential of atmospheric turbines is a part of that, capable of converting the much faster and steadier high-altitude winds into electricity (rather than ground- and ocean-based units).

The new research from the Carnegie Institute investigates what the actual limits of wind power are; how much could potentially be harvested; and what the effects of such large-scale, high-altitude wind power would be — could they affect the whole climate themselves?
 

 
The research was led by Kate Marvel of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, who had begun this research while working at Carnegie. The research team quantified the possible amount of power that could be generated using both surface and atmospheric winds with the aid of computer models. They defined the surface winds as the ones that could be exploited by towers (possibly higher than those currently available) on land or at sea, while the high-altitude winds were considered to be those that would only be accessible by using technology that merges turbines and kites. The only factors considered in the study were the geophysical limitations of these techniques, no economic or technical difficulties were factored in.

“Turbines create drag, or resistance, which removes momentum from the winds and tends to slow them. As the number of wind turbines increase, the amount of energy that is extracted increases. But at some point, the winds would be slowed so much that adding more turbines will not generate more electricity. This study focused on finding the point at which energy extraction is highest,” a news release on the study reported.

“Using models, the team was able to determine that more than 400 terrawatts of power could be extracted from surface winds and more than 1,800 terrawatts could be generated by winds extracted throughout the atmosphere.”

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Present civilization needs around 18 TW of power. Even if limited to only near-surface winds, enough power could be generated to create 20 times more electricity than the current global power use. When you factor in high-altitude wind turbines, you could potentially generate more than 100 times the current global power demand, just by using wind, nothing else.

Interestingly, the researchers found that “at maximum levels of power extraction, there would be substantial climate effects to wind harvesting. But the climate effects of extracting wind energy at the level of current global demand would be small, as long as the turbines were spread out and not clustered in just a few regions.”

If all of our energy was provided by wind power, the wind turbines would change surface temperatures by around 0.1 degree Celsius and alter precipitation levels by around 1%. The researchers think that these would not be substantial environmental impacts.

“Looking at the big picture, it is more likely that economic, technological or political factors will determine the growth of wind power around the world, rather than geophysical limitations,” Caldeira said.

The research was just published on September 9th in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Source: Carnegie Institution
Image Credits: Sky Windpower; Wind Sunset via Wikimedia Commons


Mexico City Bike-Sharing Program Is Quadrupling in Size this Month

Posted: 10 Sep 2012 08:24 AM PDT

 
Mexico City is quadrupling the size of its bike-sharing program this month. Within the next four weeks the number of available Ecobici bikes will increase from 1,000 to 4,000.

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The mega-city will dramatically increase the overall size of its system: 185 new stations, 3,000 new bikes, and 43,000 new subscribers. The currently used system has been sold out of its memberships for awhile now.

“Mexico City launched a bike share system (Ecobici) in early 2010 with 70 stations and over a thousand bikes. After seeing a very small expansion in 2011 (15 stations), the system will finally receive a Phase 2, which is to be installed this month.”
 

 
Here are some more details on the changes:

  • Stations: from 90 to 275
  • Bikes: from 1,000 to 4,000
  • Annual Subscribers: from 30,000 to 73,000

The program is limited to annual subscribers, so it’s not available to tourists. And because of the limited nature of the system, there has been a member limit of only 30,000. This new greatly needed expansion will increase the member limit to 73,000 for now, and in the future to 100,000.

20120910-082355.jpg
This upgrade will give Mexico City the seventh largest bike-sharing system in the world. But even with such a large system, it is set to be eclipsed by New York City’s massive 10,000-bike-strong system, which has already opened but will be expanding in the spring.

Source: Streetsblog
Image Credits: StreetsBlog; Ecobici (via Blogtown)


Clean Power Finance to Unveil National Solar Permitting Database

Posted: 10 Sep 2012 06:26 AM PDT

 
One of the biggest hindrances to the installation of solar technology is obtaining the correct permit to do so. The rules and regulations change from city to city, state to state, and are costly at that.

This week at Solar Power International 2012, Clean Power Finance plans to unveil the initial prototype of the National Solar Permitting Database that it has been working on.

Solar panel installation via Shutterstock

The National Solar Permitting Database is designed to streamline the process of acquiring permits to install solar technology by gathering permitting data and stands from Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJs) around the United States in one single location.

Solar professionals and anyone installing solar equipment will be able to search the database for complete and accurate information on permitting requirements for their particular location.

"Permitting is a widely recognized pain point in the solar sector, but we think this project can change that," said James Tong, director of government programs management at Clean Power Finance. "Collecting permitting information in a database that is available to all solar integrators without charge will dramatically improve time and cost savings for both solar professionals and AHJs and help lower the overall installed cost of solar."
 

 
The Database will be available to the entire industry for free, thanks in part to a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative. The Database will be relying on solar professionals and AHJs submitting their permitting information for the locations in which they operate, and already a number of leading industry companies have pledged their support, including Paramount Solar, SunWize Technologies, Next Step Living, B.E. Solar, PvPermits, and Real Goods Solar, Inc.

"We're very happy to help Clean Power Finance with the National Solar Permitting Database," commented John Schaeffer, founder and residential president at Real Goods Solar, Inc. "We believe this program will help significantly in sorting out the confusion from numerous jurisdictions around the country, thereby reducing cycle time, design and administration costs. Ultimately, we will be able to set better expectations with customers, which will foster profitable growth in new solar markets."

Source: Clean Power Finance


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