Friday, September 21, 2012

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Link to CleanTechnica

Rimac Electric Supercar Could Happen

Posted: 20 Sep 2012 07:00 AM PDT

If you’re into electric vehicles, or even if you’re just into supercars, I think you’ll like the news about this electric supercar out of Croatia:

Croatian-Built Rimac Concept One Electric Supercar Might Actually Happen (via Gas 2.0)

CNN Money is reporting that production of the 1000 hp, million-dollar Rimac Concept One electric supercar is scheduled to begin soon. This information comes hot on the heels of other Rimac news reports stating that the car was shown at the Salon PrivĂ©, one of the most prestigious car shows in the…

South Africa Solar Power Project Financed by OPIC

Posted: 20 Sep 2012 06:55 AM PDT

Developing country economies and societies stand to gain the most by leap-frogging 20th-century fossil fuel technologies and moving to center their energy infrastructures on more distributed renewable energy power and fuel sources. Such is the case in South Africa, where coal production and oil imports have long fueled development.

With its historic Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers (REIPP) auction program now under way, US–based solar, wind, and renewable energy technology companies and project developers, as well as those from China, Germany, India and other countries, are keen to expand internationally and participate in South Africa’s nascent renewable energy market. US development finance agencies, including the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), are keen to support both them and South Africa’s sustainable development efforts.

OPIC on Sept. 17 announced the approval of up to $250 million in financing that will enable US–based solar photovoltaic (PV) cell and module manufacturer MEMC Electronic Materials and its solar installation and project development subsidiary SunEdison to construct and operate a 60-megawatt (MW) PV facility in the Free State province city of Boshoff.


Solar Power Development, Black Economic Empowerment in South Africa

Joining MEMC and SunEdison in their winning REIPP auction bid to build and operate the solar PV facility are two local company partners, a requirement established with the passage of South Africa’s Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) Act of 2007.

Carrying out and successfully completing the project should go a fair way toward demonstrating the true, overall costs and benefits of pursuing a ‘renewable energy first’ energy policy. In addition to supplying the region with clean, renewable electricity, the Boshoff solar power project will create good green jobs. Its successful completion and operation will also mean some 140,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions will not be going into the atmosphere.

South Africa relies on coal-fired power plants for 84% of its electricity. Through the REIPP, South Africa is working to reach a goal of bringing 3,725 MW of renewable power online by 2016. South Africa’s 2012 electricity consumption totaled 212.2 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh). Using a 20% capacity factor, the Boshoff PV facility should be able to produce around 105 million kWh of electrical energy per year.

"South Africa's ambitious and impressive renewable energy program has established the country as a leader in the field," commented OPIC President Elizabeth Littlefield. "We're pleased to work with an experienced developer such SunEdison to deliver so many developmental benefits for South Africa, from the reduction of pollution and displacement of GHG emissions to the creation of local jobs and the realization of the country's BEE program goals."

Graphic courtesy: Solar Homes, South Africa

Want to Save Energy on Heating Costs this Winter? Here Are 10 Things You Can Do

Posted: 20 Sep 2012 06:43 AM PDT

If you're anything like my family, this cool weather gets you thinking about what you can do to save energy heating your home this fall and winter. Below are 10 things you can do in the next couple months (if you haven't already).

Old Gravity Furnace

Replacing your old furnace (like this gravity or ‘octopus’ furnace) is just one of many things you can do to save energy — and money — on winter heating costs.

Things you should do now to save on heating costs:

  • Change your furnace filter every 1-2 months
  • Switch furnace fan setting from continuous to auto
  • Hire a professional to do a Home Performance Audit of your home
  • Install weather-stripping or caulk leaky doors and windows and install gaskets behind outlet covers
  • Air seal and insulate your house to recommended levels
  • When your fireplace is not in use, be sure the damper is closed
  • Install a programmable thermostat (and program it—see notes below)
  • If you have an old, inefficient furnace, install a new ENERGY STAR furnace

Things you should do when it gets colder:

  • Adjust thermostat from 68˚ to 60˚ at night and during the day when no one is home
  • Grab a sweater instead of turning up the heat


After you take actions: Be sure to take part in the Family Energy FACE-OFF to join a team and contribute your actions to the Mill Pond Minimizers or Prairie Penny Pinchers! The FACE-OFF is a contest running from Earth Day 2012 to Earth Day 2013 where two Minnesota families are facing off to see who can save more energy, and they need YOUR help!

Meet the competing families, see what they're doing to save energy and money in their homes, then join a team to contribute your actions at! Watch this video to learn more:

CERTs Family Energy FACE-OFF

France President Francois Hollande Says 40% CO2 Emissions Cut by 2030 Needed

Posted: 20 Sep 2012 06:37 AM PDT

The French President Francois Hollande made the recommendation last Friday that the European Union cuts its carbon dioxide emissions 40 percent by 2030 and 60 percent reduction by 2040. Hollande also noted that a global accord on climate change needs to be made by 2015.

Francois Hollande via Parti socialiste

“Our next goal is to reach a global climate agreement in 2015. France is fully committed to achieving this,” Hollande told an annual environmental conference.

Hollande has been quoted as saying that he intends to make a strong push for more global dialogue on environmental issues during his five-year presidency. The need for this has been becoming more and more urgent as the lack of progress in meeting climate goals has continued.

Source: Reuters

50-MW Geothermal Plant for Mexico

Posted: 20 Sep 2012 06:28 AM PDT

A 50-MW geothermal power plant will be built in the Mexican region of Michoacan for Mexico’s Federal Electricity Commission by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd from Japan. It should be completed by December 2014. When finished, it will be the twelfth geothermal plant constructed by Mitsubishi for Mexico.

Mexico is currently in the top 5 geothermal power nations, with well over 900 MW of geothermal power capacity. It installed the first geothermal power plant in the Western hemisphere in 1959. One advantage geothermal has over solar and wind is that it is not intermittent.

Renewable clean energy development can help local economies free themselves from having to pay the costs for imported fossil fuels, and geothermal energy is a useful part of that.

Michoacan has a population of over four million and the main industries are agriculture, commerce, manufacturing and mining.

Image Credit: Thelmadatter, Wiki Commons

New Online Tool Shows Long-Term Effects of Your Specific Fuel Use

Posted: 20 Sep 2012 06:20 AM PDT

The US Department of Energy (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory has created a new, free-to-use online tool that allows users to analyze the environmental impact of various fuels before they are used to create power.

Oil pipeline via Shutterstock

“The Excel-based Upstream Dashboard provides ‘upstream’ data for lifecycle analysis of coal, natural gas, crude oil, uranium, and biomass, as well as gasoline, ethanol, jet fuel, and diesel derived from either petroleum or coal-gasification. For solid fuels and natural gas, data is included from extraction of a raw fuel through its delivery to a power plant; for transportation fuels, data is provided from extraction through refining. The tool not only breaks down energy production into the lifecycle stages of extraction and transportation, it also supplies choices, such as individual operations and construction processes, for each stage.”

Using the tool, a user selects the energy source, generating a calculation of the expected amount of greenhouse gases, criteria air pollutants, solid waste, water use, energy input, water emissions, water withdrawal and consumption, land use changes, and energy return on investment.

Every part of the lifecycle is broken into sections so that each part’s contribution to the entire system can be understood. And the user can customize the analysis to their specific use, changing the mode of transportation, the distance the raw material travels, and the very specific type of fuel (as examples: Powder River Basin coal versus Illinois No. 6 coal, or conventional onshore natural gas versus natural gas from Marcellus shale).

The long-term environmental impacts can also be calculated, showing potential impacts 20-, 100-, or 500-years from now, based on the global warming potentials calculated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Source: Green Car Congress

Voltage Cycles and AllCell Technologies Teaming Up to Create New Electric Bikes

Posted: 20 Sep 2012 06:04 AM PDT


The companies Voltage Cycles and AllCell Technologies are entering into a product development partnership in order to advance the development of electronic propulsion systems for electric bikes.

They are envisioning the electric bike as a mainstream solution to personal transportation in the 21st century. To accomplish this, they need a battery-based propulsion system that is extremely reliable throughout a wide range of environments, and is durable enough that it can live through thousands of cycles of charging and discharging.

“The partners say that AllCell's patented phase change material (PCM) technology is an ideal fit for the new Voltage e-bike. By rapidly absorbing and distributing heat away from the lithium-ion cells in the battery, AllCell's PCM protects the cells from heat generated during battery discharge as well as from external heat sources, improving the battery's cycle life. With in-frame batteries, environmental heat can be challenging on a sunny summer day. As lithium-ion cell manufacturers produce increasingly energy-dense cells, the need for thermal management will only increase. AllCell's battery technology allows Voltage to use the highest energy density cells without concerns about overheating.”

Whether electric or not, bikes are probably the greenest transportation option in the world. They’re more efficient than walking, driving, taking the bus, and seemingly everything else. They’re also good for your health and fun!

Source: Green Car Congress

FHWA Bike-Sharing Program Guide for Cities

Posted: 20 Sep 2012 05:50 AM PDT


Weekday usage patterns of Washington DC’s Capital Bikeshare, Denver B-cycle, and Minneapolis’s Nice Ride. Image: FHWA

The Federal Highway Administration just released a new report to help communities that are considering bike-sharing programs. The report is a go-to guide for those looking to get such programs off the ground.

The report outlines twelve planned and existing bike-sharing systems from around the U.S., in order to help explain the basics of bike-sharing through the choices that cities will face when launching a system.

Specifically, the report offers guidance on bike-share business models, station planning, implementation, typical costs per bike and per station, and pricing structures for bike-share members. The report also outlines potential sources of federal funding for bike-share systems.

Source: Streetsblog

Ford’s Electrification Director: “I’ve never got love emails and notes like [these]“

Posted: 20 Sep 2012 05:43 AM PDT

ford focus electric options

“I’ve never got love emails and notes like I get for this BEV — it brings many absolute joy,” says Kevin Layden, Ford’s director of Electrification Programmes and Engineering, on the customer response received from the Ford Focus Electric.

Ford is preparing to release five new electrified vehicles to the marketplace in 2012, so Layden recently did an interview with just-auto’s Dave Leggett on this and related matters.

Some highlights from the interview are below:

“Ford has what we call the ‘power of choice’. We can offer the customer a number of options and all the fuel alternatives that reduces your CO2 – or lessen the carbon footprint.”

“We should be able to satisfy 60-70% of customers on daily use as their primary vehicle…. We want to get everything right, down to the sales experience, delivery experience, all the components and making sure the introduction goes well.”

“In 2020 we are expecting between 10-25% of our fleet (vehicles sold) to be electrified vehicles — BEVs, hybrids and plug in hybrids [the figure now is 1-1.5%].”

Source: PRNewswire
Image Credit: Ford

UK Electric Car Sales Soar

Posted: 20 Sep 2012 05:30 AM PDT

nissan leaf technological revolutions

In the UK, the government is reporting that 1,700 new electric cars were purchased between January 2011 and June 2012. Industry statistics, though, are suggesting that the real total may be well over 2,000.

1,700 new electric cars in the UK were registered under a government grant scheme after it began in January 2011, the new figures revealed. That’s more than double the 680 registered by the end of June 2011. However, the figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that the total is actually as high as 2,041.

Also reported, and of great interest, “since April 2002, the first quarter for which reliable CO2 emission values are recorded, the average emissions from new cars have fallen by 42 g/km, a decrease of around 24 per cent.” Much of this drop is being attributed to tighter environmental regulations, emissions targets forced on manufacturers, and a growing consumer demand for cars with better fuel efficiencies and lower vehicle excise duty rates.

Source: Business Green
Image: Nissan Leaf courtesy of Shutterstock 

Trillion-Dollar ‘Company’ Known as ‘Nature’ Needs a Boardroom Says U.N. Economist

Posted: 20 Sep 2012 05:20 AM PDT


Even though nature provides the resources that power the global economy, they lack a seat in the boardrooms of most large companies, the resources that they provide should have a price tag, says one of world’s most influential green economists.

“Ignoring nature’s value risks ‘mayhem’ for corporations and mankind in the rush for profits and finite resources,” says Pavan Sukhdev, formerly of Deutsche Bank and a United Nations goodwill ambassador.

By putting a price on the services that nature provides, Sukhdev thinks it would help to force firms to think about the planet during their business decisions. He is currently leading a global push to get governments ‘to put nature on balance sheets.’ The idea is to charge large companies for their use of natural resources and for the pollution they cause, potentially forcing the companies to consider their impact on the broader environment.

Source: Reuters
Image: Nature pic via Shutterstock 

Renewables Guide Raises Awareness of Heat Pumps to Solar Owners

Posted: 20 Sep 2012 05:10 AM PDT


Heat pumps are a very effective way for homeowners to make a positive contribution to the environment and to lower their energy bills, and they work especially well for those households that have already installed a solar photovoltaic system. Renewables Guide is currently on a mission to raise public awareness of their many benefits.

Though heat pumps require a small amount of electricity to start working, they produce much more heat than the input electricity would otherwise allow, making them a much more efficient heating system than other competing conventional technologies. And when combined with solar panels, they could form the basis of a self-sufficient and energy-efficient home.

David Holmes, Founder of Renewables Guide commented: "It's fantastic to see many homes in the UK have opted to install and are now using solar technology to generate their own electricity. Our aim is to encourage homeowners who are environmentally conscious that they can improve their green credentials further by considering the benefits of installing technologies such as ground source heating systems, air to air and air to water heat pumps, some of which qualify for the one off renewable energy grant payments available through the Government's Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme."

Source: Business Wire
Image: heat pumps by yum9me 

Zipcar to Include Honda Fit EVs in San Francisco Carsharing Network

Posted: 20 Sep 2012 04:00 AM PDT

The car sharing company Zipcar will start including 2013 Honda Fit EVs in San Francisco this month. Zipcar will station the Fit vehicles at City Hall at 34 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, at the InterContinental, and at Parc 55 hotels (near the Powell St. BART).

A Zipcar spokesperson said that the Fit can charge in under 3 hours using a 240-volt power outlet, and the car will be rented for $8 per hour. It can travel 82 miles on a single charge and offers a fuel efficiency of 118 MPGe (Miles Per Gallon equivalent).

2013 Honda Fit BEV.

Fit EV Carsharing Details

The Fit EV actually uses a lithium-titanate (Toshiba Super-Charge) battery that is capable of charging almost completely (to 90% of its capacity) in less than 10 minutes, but this requires a proper charger designed to provide the large current necessary for it.

Hopefully, Honda will also offer compatible charging stations to be set up in public places (where they are needed most, since everyone has 240-volt outlets at home which can charge the car overnight).

“The introduction of the Honda Fit EVs into the Zipcar fleet allows our members to drive one of the most technologically-advanced vehicles on the road while reducing environmental impact,” said Mark Norman, Zipcar president and COO.

“These vehicles add to the selection of smart and sustainable options Zipcar currently offers, and will help increase overall awareness of an exciting new technology in a vehicle we know our members will love.”

Another initiative that complements this one is a recent solar-powered electric vehicle charging station set up in San Diego that charges electric cars in the parking lot of the San Diego Zoo (assuming that you are actually attending the zoo). Perhaps a bit far for a trip from San Francisco, but if one is taking the Fit EV down that far, I’m sure they’d appreciate the chargers!

Demonstrations and free test drives were also held on Monday and Tuesday at the San Francisco Justin Herman plaza.

Zipcar and Honda also intend to introduce additional Honda Fit BEVs to Zipcar fleets in Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon, this fall.

Honda also rents out Fit electric vehicles in California for $389 per month.

Source: Autoblog Green

Electric Swiss Army Bike — Voltitude 2013

Posted: 20 Sep 2012 04:00 AM PDT

How can you not love this beauty of an electric vehicle, an electric swiss army bike:

2013 Voltitude: The Electric Swiss Army Bike Gets Real (via Gas 2.0)

After years of fund-raising and development, the "Electric Swiss Army Bike" Voltitude is ready for full-scale production. The first batch of the bikes are being built now, and initial orders should be shipping before the new year! With a 15 mph top speed and a 25 mile electric-only range (add "…

How to: Solar Heater Made of Soda Cans

Posted: 20 Sep 2012 03:00 AM PDT

So you want a solar heater? How about throwing some soda cans together and making one yourself? Here’s a “how to” post on the matter from sister site sustainablog:

How to Make a Soda Can Solar Heater (via sustainablog)

We're finally cooling off after a brutal Summer here in St. Louis. While I'm thoroughly enjoying the temperatures in the 60s and 70s, they're a good reminder that Winter will be here soon, and that we'll be paying to heat the home. That got me thinking about a concept I first encountered a…


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