- US Underestimates Costs of Carbon Pollution and Climate Change, Study Finds
- Arizona Wins America’s Next Top Algae Biofuel Research Facility… For Now
- Advanced Solar CPV Manufacturing Plant to Open in NC this Month
- From Local to National, India to the US, Government Action Key to Low-Carbon Green Economic Development
- Peak Wind Power in UK Rises to Over 4,000 MW
- Global Cleantech Market Expected to Expand to €4 Trillion by 2020, Germany to Capitalize
- Gamesa Strengthens Brazilian Presence with 258 MW Wind Turbine Order
- Antalya Metropolitan Municipality & Renault Preparing Zero Emissions Partnership
- Electric Vehicle Converters Petitioning White House for Tax Incentives
- Make Your Mark in Cleantech via Cleantech Fellows Institute
- 4 Charts Provide Distributed Solar Lessons from California
- Affordable Solar-Powered Air Conditioner in a Neat Little Package is Finally Here
- Top-Rated Raceway Gives the Green Light to Recycled Oil
- Car-Sharing Services Becoming Popular as a Way to Get Around
- Computer Modelling Could Help Boost Urban Wind Power
Posted: 17 Sep 2012 06:22 AM PDT
WASHINGTON (September 14, 2012) – The federal government is significantly underestimating the costs of carbon pollution because it is using a faulty analytical model, according to a new study published in the Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences.
A more appropriate accounting of costs would pave the way to cleaner, more economically efficient sources of power generation, the study found.
"This is a wake-up call for America to start aggressively investing in low carbon sources of energy. The very real economic benefits will accrue quickly and increase over time," said Dr. Laurie Johnson, chief economist in the climate and clean air program at the Natural Resources Defense Council.
"With approximately 40 percent of all carbon emissions in the U.S. coming from power plants, the economic advantages of clean electricity sources are significant," she said.
The real benefits of carbon reduction range from 2.6 to more than 12 times higher than the government's estimate.
"It turns out that the price we now pay for energy is much higher than what shows up on our electric bills or the tab at the gas pump," Johnson said.
Without properly accounting for pollution costs, natural gas appears to be the cheapest generation option for new power plants. However, as Johnson writes here in her blog (which will be available at 6am Monday) the revised estimates show, after incorporating the economic costs of carbon and other pollutants from fossil fuel generation, building new generation using wind and solar power would be more cost effective than either natural gas or coal.
Supplementary analysis by one of the authors shows even greater gains from replacing existing coal plants with new wind and solar photovoltaic, or with new fossil fuel generation that has carbon capture and storage technology.
The country's existing coal fleet accounts for approximately 36 percent of all U.S. CO2 emissions and is responsible for virtually all power-sector sulfur dioxide emissions, which cause thousands of premature deaths every year, respiratory problems, heart disease, and a number of ecosystem damages.
Image Credit: carbon pollution via Shutterstock
Posted: 17 Sep 2012 06:05 AM PDT
It’s going to have some stiff competition, though. Texas A&M University’s algae biofuel research program also recently got a huge infusion of federal cash, and a network of regional research centers is growing in Hawaii, California, Ohio and Georgia.
A National Push for Algae Biofuel Research
To be fair, the competition is far more friendly than not. Under the new grant, Arizona and states with existing algae research centers will collaborate with each other and with federal laboratories as well as with private sector partners.
The Arizona testbed will be called ATP3 (for Algae Testbed Public-Private Partnership), and will be housed at the Arizona Center for Algae Technology and Innovation at the Polytechnic campus of Arizona State University.
Just as the name says, it will be supported by a laundry list of public and private partners, including the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, Cellana LLC, Touchstone Research Laboratory, SRS Energy, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Texas at Austin, and Commercial Algae Management.
Also weaving into the algae biofuel picture are the US Navy’s algae biofuel initiative, which has been forging ahead despite opposition from Republican leadership in Congress, NASA algae biofuel research, and the US aviation industry’s biofuel initiatives.
What’s It All About, Algae Biofuel?
If all this activity seems a little Manhattan Project–esque, there’s a good reason for the urgency. With only three percent of the world’s oil reserves, the US could drill its way to China and back without reducing its dependence on foreign supplies. Even aside from global warming issues, domestic fuel diversity is critical for long-term security.
As the recent drought shows, food-based biofuel crops such as corn aren’t going to cut it over the long run, so attention is turning to non-food sources. Algae looks like a winner because it is rich in oil; it can be grown under controlled conditions; it can thrive in different regions of the US; and it won’t necessarily take up any space that could be used to grow food.
Move Over Cacti, Here Comes Algae
The new testbed in Arizona is designed to provide private industry with shared access to a national database for analyzing algae growth and algae biofuel production methods, which will help quicken the pace of research from the lab to fully scaled-up commercial algae farms and biofuel refineries.
Notwithstanding members of Congress who have railed against federal support for algae biofuel, it seems that algae has the potential to become big business, and on that account, it is winning support from legislators at the state level.
Algae could provide a particularly significant economic boost for states like Arizona, which could see its agriculture and energy production sectors grow in one fell swoop.
In Arizona, ASU writer Amelia Huggins notes that state lawmakers recently approved two bills designed to create a friendly opening for private industry. One classifies algae as agriculture, and the other permits algae farming on state trust lands.
Huggins also notes that algae research in the state has “benefitted from the strong support of Arizona Gov. Janice Brewer.”
Follow me on Twitter: @TinaMCasey.
Posted: 17 Sep 2012 05:58 AM PDT
Management initially expects to produce five to six megawatts (MW) worth of its leading-edge CPV modules per year at the Henderson, NC plant. That could over time expand to as much as 35 MW and employ as many as 250 people in doing so, according to a Bloomberg News report.
Swimming Against the Tide
Semprius is opening its CPV plant amidst a general backdrop of solar energy market and industry turmoil, manufacturing plant slowdowns, shutdowns, and layoffs — both in the US and other other major solar-producing countries, including Germany and China. Management and its investors believe that the combination of high-efficiency and low-cost production will prove the company viable in a fiercely competitive global solar PV market that governments around the world have targeted as a low-carbon, green economy growth engine.
A SunShot CPV Manufacturer Ready to Go Commercial
About the diameter of a dot made by a ballpoint pen, Semprius's solar photovoltaic (PV) cells are triple-junction cells made of gallium arsenide. Low-cost lenses concentrate sunlight 1,100 times onto the cells. Their tiny size reduces module cost, as they take up only 1/1000th of the entire solar module area. It also enables a high density of cells per module, which better distributes unwanted heat across the entire solar module solar area. That eliminates the need for heat dissipation hardware, such as heat fins, further reducing production costs.
Semprius' patented micro-transfer printing process allows thousands of its concentrated solar PV cells (CPV) to be transferred from a growth substrate to a semiconductor wafer or other form factor. It's a continuous, massive parallel process that runs continuously and allows the growth substrate to be used repeatedly, which cuts costs dramatically, according to NREL and Semprius.
Posted: 17 Sep 2012 05:50 AM PDT
Besides being closest to stakeholders and constituencies, city and local governments hold sway over land use, natural resource, and local environmental policies. They hold sway over local power, water, waste and transportation systems, building codes, local taxes, and a host of other laws, regulations, and rules-governing issues that can be of central import when it comes to developing low-carbon sustainable economies, as well as managing what can be extensive. They, and the communities they’re responsible for and represent, may be best-served by initially focusing their sustainable development plans on areas in which they have the greatest control and a direct, vested interest.
And that’s what is happening in cities, towns, and villages (as well as nations) as geographically and culturally separated and diverse as India and the US. Such progress in integrating and coordinating policies and actions from local to national levels, and even to international levels, is a tremendously positive sign.
New Local Solar Initiatives in India, the US…
In India, civil authorities in Kolkata, Howrah, Durgapur, and Siliguri are incorporating requirements that all "multi-storied commercial establishments, including hospitals and five-star hotels" install solar water heaters in local building codes, according to a Times of India report. In the nation’s capital, the government of Delhi intends to expand its solar photovoltaic (PV) installations to include more of the capital’s historic monuments.
“A solar system on a commercial building could cost $40,000 to $75,000, but with tax incentives and rebates, it could pay for itself in five or six years,” Norberg paraphrased local councilman Patrick Slayter.
Across the country, on the East Coast, Connecticut has launched a "Solarize Connecticut" program that cuts the cost of residential solar PV installations by pooling orders from local home and property owners and sharing the resulting savings, according to a report from Westport Now.
"Solarize Connecticut" is modeled along the lines of neighboring Massachusetts’ "Solarize Massachusetts," which has proved a great success and is being expanded. Four Connecticut municipalities, including Westport, have been chosen to launch the program, which aims to encourage at least 50 local residents in each muncipality to purchase and have solar PV and/or solar hot water systems installed at below-market rates before Dec. 14.
Dovetail with Those at the National and International Levels
The solar energy initiatives coming from city and local governments and civil authorities in India fall right in line and reinforce the national government’s Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission, which has catapulted India into the ranks of the world’s largest solar energy producers.
What’s true at the local government level is also true for the largest property owner and energy consumer in the US — the federal government. The Commerce Dept. and other federal government departments, offices, and agencies are on track to meet the energy use, waste and cost reductions called for by the President in his Executive Order 13514 of 2009.
US government departments, offices, and agencies are also aggressively pursuing achievement of the carbon and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions established by President Obama in an executive order issued on January 29, 2010. That executive order calls for the federal government to reduce its GHG emissions by 28 percent by 2020.
All these are part of a strong, broad, sweeping, and self-reinforcing sustainable development strategy laid out in the Obama administration’s "Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future" strategic plan.
The federal government spent more than $24.5 billion on electricity and fuel in 2008 alone. "Achieving the Federal GHG pollution reduction target will reduce Federal energy use by the equivalent of 646 trillion BTUs, equal to 205 million barrels of oil, and taking 17 million cars off the road for one year," he notes. "This is also equivalent to a cumulative total of $8 to $11 billion in avoided energy costs through 2020," according to the White House.
Posted: 17 Sep 2012 05:21 AM PDT
Image Credit: Magnus Manske, Wiki Commons
Posted: 17 Sep 2012 04:30 AM PDT
Specifically, the research found that the clean technology market has “grown at an average of almost 12 per cent a year since 2007, and predicts it will continue to accelerate over the coming years.”
“The economic and financial crisis has not stopped the worldwide expansion of the green tech industry,” said the study’s author, Torsten Henzelmann, head of the Civil Economics, Energy & Infrastructure Competence Centre at Roland Berger Strategy Consultants. “On the contrary, the worldwide market volume has now overshot the €2tr mark, thus exceeding our forecasts from 2009.
The research also revealed that Germany has a dominant share of the global clean tech market, at 15%, and is expected to grow more than any of its competitors. Germany’s cleantech companies are already generating a very high 11% of the country’s GDP and employing over 1.4 million workers. And according to the research, the clean tech market volume is expected to reach €674 billion by 2025, more than doubling.
One of the study’s most interesting findings, though, is that the cleantech sector’s rapid growth has been stimulating the other segments of the economy, even some seemingly very separate sectors.
“More and more companies are finding that using green tech is a way to stand out among their international competitors,” said report co-author Ralph Büchele. “Better efficiency regarding energy and [raw] materials is increasingly becoming a strategic advantage in international competition – that goes for all sectors of the economy in general.”
Posted: 17 Sep 2012 04:25 AM PDT
One of the leading global companies in the wind energy business, Gamesa, has just agreed to a contract to provide wind turbines with a total capacity of 258 MW for 10 wind farms in southern Brazil.
The agreement is for Gamesa to provide and install 129 of its G97-2.0 MW turbines and also maintain and operate them for the next 20 years. Installation is set to begin late in the first half of 2013 and be completed during the first quarter of 2014.
“The wind farms’ construction will generate more than 1,500 jobs, both direct and indirect. When they are all in operation, the 10 wind farms will generate around 957,000 MWh of electricity per year, enough to meet the annual energy needs of 510,000 Brazilian households. Moreover, the sites will prevent atmospheric annual emissions equivalent to 370,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.”
Source and Image: Gamesa
Posted: 17 Sep 2012 04:20 AM PDT
The partnership is aiming to achieve wide-scale deployment of electric vehicles in Antalya, specifically focusing on the establishment of a “substructure of charging points for electric vehicles manufactured in Bursa Oyak Renault Automobile Plants since the end of 2011.”
The main objectives are:
Posted: 17 Sep 2012 04:09 AM PDT
According to the petition on the White House website:
“While the Federal government should continue providing Qualified Plug-in Electric Drive Motor Vehicles (IRC 30D) tax incentives for new plug-in vehicles, they should extend the same incentives to EV / plug-in conversions. Conversions target 250M existing vehicles on the roads, can save over 40% of fuel use or no fuel at all, have a smaller carbon footprint than new car since they reuse most of the original vehicle, and cost less to buy as an incremental expense making plug-in more affordable.”
Jon Lesage from Autoblog Green asked: “Why is it that you can get a $7,500 federal tax credit on your electric vehicle manufactured by a major automaker, but not on your converted EV or plug-in hybrid?”
What if you want a Volvo, Acura, or a Dodge? Electric vehicle conversion can be fun, of course, but it also enables you to have an electric version of any model that you want. If you DIY, you can save money by avoiding labour costs.
Most people can’t do this themselves, but they can have organizations do it for them.
Electric vehicle converters may have the potential to really help get the electric vehicle industry off the ground if they receive substantial tax incentives.
Most people buy the vehicles that they personally want to. Aesthetics and brand play a truly tremendous role in vehicle purchase decisions, so there will have to be a large variety of vehicles to choose from, which is why this is so important.
25,000 signatures are needed for this petition to be considered by the White House, and, so far, it is far from that goal.
If you support it, go ahead and sign it!
Source: Autoblog Green
Posted: 17 Sep 2012 03:38 AM PDT
The national profile of the Cleantech Fellows Institute allows the organizers to leverage partnerships across the U.S. to gain access to industry leaders and visionaries that are willing to share their expertise and insight into growing a cleantech business.
Looks interesting, useful, inspiring. Find out more about how to make your mark in cleantech via the Cleantech Fellows Institute site.
Posted: 17 Sep 2012 03:29 AM PDT
There are the usual caveats about the technical limitations of the current grid, but a few graphics from the report provide a glimpse into the implications of a distributed generation future.
This first chart shows supply curves for various types of distributed solar under their 15 GW scenario. What I find interesting is that the biggest chunk of distributed solar is not on the ground or on commercial roofs, it's residential rooftops. Half of the state's distributed solar potential is on residential rooftops.
This next chart illustrates the cost and benefits of residential solar PV for a PG&E substation in Fresno, CA. What I find interesting is that 6-7 cents of the levelized cost of solar (which includes the federal tax credit) are offset by electric system benefits and greenhouse gas reductions. Energy provides another 5-6 cents. Presumably, state incentives (the CSI, net metering, etc.) fill the gap.
This chart shows what it will mean to have a significant amount of solar on the grid. It will effectively shift the peak demand period on the electricity system from the mid-afternoon to the early evening (when solar PV no longer produces much electricity). This could have interesting implications for net metering customers who count on high peak prices to pay off their PV investment.
The last item of interest is their cost projection for maximizing local solar power. Reaching the 15 GW distributed solar potential would increase the state's renewable energy supply from 33% in 2020 to 48%. The marginal cost is about $6 billion, or about $0.15 per kWh. That's not bad when the avoided cost (e.g. "market price referent") in California is around $0.12 per kWh, especially when we're talking about 2.5 GW of additional local solar power with $750 million in economic benefits and new jobs.
This post originally appeared on ILSR's Energy Self-Reliant States blog.
Posted: 17 Sep 2012 03:17 AM PDT
Why Solar Panels Are Not Integrated Directly into A/C Units
A/C units tend to be shaded by the roofs of houses, as well as awnings, so they are usually not exposed to direct sunlight, and they shouldn’t be. It is best that they are kept as cool as possible.
This single issue is a big one, but as long as the solar panels can be a decent distance away, this isn’t a problem.
Main Benefits of Solar Air Conditioning
Normally, to solar power an air conditioner, you would have to buy an air conditioner, then a separate inverter, separate batteries, solar panels, and hire both an electrician and a building contractor to set up the system for you, and that costs a fair bit of money.
Home solar power systems tend to cost $7 per watt in the United States (without tax credits), and around half of that cost is installation alone — this is because you have to hire contractors to set up the electronics such as the batteries, panels, etc. by hand.
However, for situations where it works, there are some big advantages.
The second benefit: Solar panels tend to generate more electricity at the same time that air conditioner power consumption increases. The fluctuating power consumption of air conditioners (caused by weather variation) is a problem for the electricity grid because power plants are not able to adjust their power production quickly enough to meet power demand spikes.
Cutting Your A/C Use
Finally, while this is a clever invention which can take advantage of economies of scale (due to factory production), unlike traditional hand-built solar setups, you can substantially reduce your air conditioner usage using simple measures such as closing window blinds on some windows, opening other windows to facilitate ventilation, and much more.
One of the greatest conservation tips of all is to use less energy (not reduce your standard of living, just turn things off when you aren’t using them — you don’t have to use them less to conserve energy), then go about obtaining energy from more sustainable sources, in general.
Posted: 17 Sep 2012 01:24 AM PDT
Green Oil for a Greener Raceway
According to Safety-Kleen, its used-oil refining process can use up to 85% less energy than producing motor oil from virgin crude.
The arrangement with VIR is designed to show off EcoPower’s performance under a wide range of conditions. The raceway will use several different grades of EcoPower to power dozens of vehicles, from emergency vehicles and ATVs to heavy equipment and lawn mowers.
Building Green Cred at the Racetrack
Auto racing has the unique ability to blast the green tech message out to millions of fans from all walks of life in a high-performance, pumped up setting that’s hard to beat anywhere else.
Just a couple of other examples are the huge solar installation at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania and the green showcase at the Indy 500 last year, which was part of the event’s 100th anniversary celebration.
VIR seems a little slow to the party, but it is positioned to take it up to a whole new level through affiliations with the tenants of its on-site industrial park, the Virginia Motorsports Technology Park, including Virginia Tech’s new National Tire Research Center.
It’s also worth noting that one of VIR’s sponsors is the green-transitioning Coca-Cola company, which has been getting top marks for pushing the global corporate world in a more sustainable direction particularly in the field of water conservation.
Follow me on Twitter: @TinaMCasey.
Posted: 17 Sep 2012 01:16 AM PDT
Researchers from the Concordia Institute of Information Systems Engineering have piloted a new computer model that helps determine how car-sharing services can grow, maximize customer satisfaction, and still be profitable.
"Given car-sharing's goal of reducing congestion and carbon emissions, our work represents a potential boost to environmental sustainability," explains Anjali Awasthi, assistant professor in the Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science, who, prior to arriving at Concordia in 2008, had spent time research car-sharing services in Europe.
"I wanted to apply the lessons I'd learned overseas to the Montreal region," she added.
For Communauto, the scholarly research was a great boost. "The expertise and input of Professor Awasthi and Ahmed Al Fassi allowed us to improve the analysis necessary to determine our growth strategy," says Communauto's director of development and public relations, Marco Viviani. "This was the first step that we hope will lead to a long-term collaboration, which will be particularly helpful as we grow into new markets overseas."
Posted: 17 Sep 2012 01:09 AM PDT
The project will be run by PhD student Amir Tabrizi — a student at the School of Engineering and Energy under the supervision of Dr Jonathan Whale, Dr Tania Urmee, and Dr Samuel Gyamf — who said the project would look at wind data from open spaces, rural areas, and urban settings to understand the differences of wind shear and turbulence.
Mr Tabrizi said this would help improve the current design standard for small wind turbines.
"The current design standard lists design turbulence intensity as 18 per cent across a range of sites, but this result is appropriate for open-site testing only. While it is very early days, our on-site testing has shown turbulence intensity of up to 24 per cent at an urban site in Port Kennedy and 30 per cent at another urban site in Melville," Mr Tabrizi said.
Currently, Mr Tabrizi is working on adapting a two-dimensional model into a three-dimensional computational fluid dynamics model. The modelling will incorporate the dynamics of various wind environments, taking into account variations by height, prevailing wind directions and the effects of different building shapes.
Already, the simulations have suggested that both rooftop sites and forest sites face turbulence intensity values much greater than those believed to exist in the current design standard.
"Ultimately we want to establish better guidelines for design and installation of urban wind turbines to maximise efficiency and guarantee safety,” Mr Tabrizi said.
“For a small wind turbine, mounted on a rooftop, for instance, we need to determine what part of the roof catches the most energy, how far the turbine should be above the roofline and how far back it should be from the edge of the roof.”
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