Friday, October 19, 2012

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Link to CleanTechnica

If You’re Neighbor Has Solar Panels, You’re More Likely To Go Solar (Solar Power Is Contagious)

Posted: 18 Oct 2012 05:57 PM PDT

Someone is considerably more likely to install solar panels on their home if others in their area have already installed them, according to new research from Yale and New York University.

The research was done by studying different clusters of solar panel installations in California from January 2001 to December 2011. The researchers found that residents are much more likely to install solar panels if they are already installed in their zip code, and particularly if they are installed on their street.

“We looked at the influence that the number of cumulative adoptions — the number of people who already installed solar panels in a zip code — had on the probability there would be a new adoption in that zip code,” said Kenneth Gillingham, the study’s co-author and assistant professor of economics at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. “Our approach controls for a variety of other possible explanations, including clustering of environmental preferences or marketing activity.”

The results were pretty significant, just 10 extra solar installations in a zip code made it 7.8% more likely that someone would install them themselves. And with just a 10% increase in the number of people within a zip code to have solar installations, there will be a 54% increase in the number of those going solar.

“These results provide clear evidence of a statistically and economically significant effect,” said Bryan Bollinger, the other co-author and assistant professor of marketing at New York University Stern School of Business.

The study also clearly shows what led to the increase: visibility and word-of-mouth. “If my neighbor installs a solar panel and tells me he’s saving money and he’s really excited about it, it’s likely I’ll go ahead and do the same thing,” said Gillingham. “Then there are others who’ll install because they don’t want to be one-upped by their neighbors.”

The new research was just published in the journal Marketing Science.

Source: Yale University
Image Credit: Solar panel installation via Shutterstock

Reposted from Solar Love with permission (with image changed).

4,000 to 5,000 MW New Geothermal for Indonesia by 2015

Posted: 18 Oct 2012 03:00 PM PDT

Indonesia has set the ambitious goal of adding 4,000 to 5,000 MW of new geothermal energy capacity by about 2015. It is currently operating about 1,200 MW. Its total potential is much higher at 29,000 MW. This number has been estimated to be about forty percent of the world’s total geothermal potential. (However, there may be more resources to be discovered and new technologies developed which increase that potential.)


Another goal Indonesia has is 10,000 MW of geothermal by 2025. If it achieves this one, up to 800,000 people could be employed by the creation and operation of the new plants.

Foreign companies are already playing a role in Indonesia’s geothermal energy. Mitsubishi Corporation is committed to acquiring a twenty percent share of the company that manages the largest geothermal facility in the country. British Petroleum has been given permission to explore 28 locations around the nation to research geothermal potential. The largest geothermal energy producer there is Chevron Corporation, and it said it welcomes the competition with BP, should it arise.

Panax Geothermal has three major geothermal projects there to begin production in the next several years. They are based in Australia.

The largest Indonesian geothermal plant is Wayang Windu located in West Java. There are two units in operation with a capacity of 227 MW. By the middle of 2013, another 127 MW is planned to be added. It is already one of the largest geothermal plants in the world.

Indonesia is one of the top five geothermal energy countries on the planet. The United States is in the top position, with the Philippines in second.

Image Credit: Jurema Oliveira

US Wind Project Size (Infographic)

Posted: 18 Oct 2012 12:53 PM PDT

Big dreams for renewable energy often goad people into imagining big wind projects with hundreds of turbines. But lots of smaller projects are just as likely to add up to big numbers.

Counting wind projects from 1999-2010 (based on data from LBNL’s excellent Wind Technologies Market report) the average size of an American wind project is 80 megawatts (MW). The size of projects has risen in the past decade, from about 50-60 MW, but largely because the average turbine size in US wind projects has nearly doubled to 1.79 MW in that time period.

Interestingly, the most economical wind projects are between 5 and 20 megawatts.

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

NYSERDA Awards $2M to 8 Projects to Develop Energy Storage Technology

Posted: 18 Oct 2012 12:45 PM PDT

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority has awarded $2 million to eight companies, it announced this week. Each company received $250,000 to facilitate the development of working prototypes of a variety of energy storage technologies. The recipients are all members of the NY Battery and Energy Storage Technology (NY-BEST) Consortium.

This initiative is for technologies that are proven to be feasible.

The organizations and researchers that received the funding are:

  1. Custom Electronics Inc, which is to develop an electrolytic graphene capacitor to back up the electricity grid during power shortages, voltage spikes, and momentary electricity interruptions.
  2. E2TAC, which is to develop lithium-ion capacitors for purposes ranging from hybrid vehicles to power electronics.
  3. GE Energy Storage, which is to work with Raymond Corp. of Greene to develop and electric forklift for use in freezer houses, and it will be equipped with their Durathon Sodium-Halide batteries. Sodium is a very abundant mineral which can be obtained from even seawater. 70% of the earth’s surface is covered in water, and 96% of all water on earth is saline.
  4. Paper Battery Co., which is to develop a production prototype of its flexible ultracapacitor for energy storage in computer UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply) systems.
  5. Ioxus Inc, which will continue the development of its supercapacitors (ultracapacitors or ELDC).
  6. Prismet Precision Materials (Ithaca) — it intends to lower the cost of the manufacturing key raw materials required for lithium-ion batteries.
  7. Graphene Devices, Ltd – it intends to develop powerful graphene-based supercapacitors with three times the energy density of current commercial devices at the same cost.
  8. Urban Electric Power – it intends to store 1 MWh of energy  using a “flow-assisted” zinc battery which can power up to 40 homes for a day. It takes one house an entire month to use a MWh of electricity. This energy storage system is intended to augment electricity supply when demand spikes during peak hours. This project is being developed with the CUNY Energy Institute.


I’m not surprised that graphene has garnered faith, because it has demonstrated a combination of qualities that no other technology or material can amount to — it has the ability to collect sunlight and convert it into electricity; it has the ability to store energy; it’s extremely lightweight; its strength exceeds that of steel by far; it isn’t metal, so it does not rust; it is malleable; it conducts electricity as well as copper; it conducts heat as well as aluminium; and finally, it was used to construct the fastest transistor in the world — it is an impressive semiconductor.

Source: Green Car Congress

Charlotte Gets Huge Light Rail Expansion

Posted: 18 Oct 2012 12:31 PM PDT

Government officials recently signed on for a 9.3-mile expansion of Charlotte's Lynx light rail system. Scheduled to be completed by 2017, the Blue Line expansion will connect the distantly located campus of UNC Charlotte with the large urban center in the Queen City, which has a population of around 750,000.


The expansion has been in the works for awhile now, so the signing is somewhat of a formality, but an important one. The expansion of the line will at least double its ridership, according to FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff.

Charlotte is the home of one of North Carolina’s largest universities, but because of its location, it has remained somewhat unintegrated with the rest of the city. There have been some improvements in recent years, but none like this.

The expansion will make travel between the campus and downtown easy and fast for the massive student population. The line will run directly by the Student Union and a large number of the school’s dormitories, Streetsblog reports, “to South End, uptown and points in between, notably the NoDa neighborhood of bars, restaurants and renovated mill houses … And people in other parts of the city will be able to travel more easily to the main university campus without having to fight interstate highway traffic.”

The city is hoping (rightly) that the extension will go a long way to revitalize neighborhoods running along the new extension. "If the light rail's South Corridor is any predictor, it will.” Such lines have revitalized neighborhoods and stimulated economic growth in many other cities, as well.

Source: StreetsBlog
Image Credits: RaisetheHammer

If You’re Going to Debunk a Myth, Don’t Reinforce It!

Posted: 18 Oct 2012 08:29 AM PDT

Reading or hearing a complete lie or piece of very harmful misinformation can be extremely frustrating. When you see this lie or myth repeated and repeated and repeated, it can bring you to a breaking point. If channeled correctly, that breaking point is a full-scale debunking of the myth. But if you’re going to debunk a myth, the last thing you want to do is reinforce that myth — unfortunately, that’s what the vast majority of mythbusters seem to do!

What I’m writing here is not just a thought from my own head, though — it’s based on careful psychological research. Here’s an example of this “familiarity backfire effect” from one study:

“To test for this backfire effect, people were shown a flyer that debunked common myths about flu vaccines.1 Afterwards, they were asked to separate the myths from the facts. When asked immediately after reading the flyer, people successfully identified the myths. However, when queried 30 minutes after reading the flyer, some people actually scored worse after reading the flyer. The debunking reinforced the myths.”

And just give it a little thought — if you hear or read a myth repeatedly, but any explanations debunking the myth don’t fully sink in, down the road you might just recognize the statement/myth (that you had come across is it before) and assume it must therefore be true.

Going on, John Cook and Stephan Lewandowsky write:

“The driving force is the fact that familiarity increases the chances of accepting information as true. Immediately after reading the flyer, people remembered the details that debunked the myth and successfully identified the myths. As time passed, however,  the memory of the details faded and all people remembered was the myth without the "tag" that identified it as false. This effect is particularly strong in older adults because their memories are more vulnerable to forgetting of details.”


Check Out the Debunking Handbook!

This is actually just one of several common mistakes commonly made by “mythbusters.” To my great frustration or disappointment, I see people making this mistake almost every day when debunking very harmful myths. So, I’m (re)sharing this point with you all (in case you do a bit of mythbusting in your spare time), and pointing you again to this great and free Debunking Handbook created by the folks over at Skeptical Science. Please, read it, read it carefully, and follow its advice!

Mythbusting without Stimulating the Familiarity Backfire Effect

Since the focus of this post was the familiarity backfire effect, I should probably share how to avoid this mistake. Here’s the conclusion from John and Stephan:

“How does one avoid causing the Familiarity Backfire Effect? Ideally, avoid mentioning the myth altogether while correcting it. When seeking to counter misinformation, the best approach is to focus on the facts you wish to communicate.”

“Not mentioning the myth is sometimes not a practical option. In this case, the emphasis of the debunking should be on the facts. The often-seen technique of headlining your debunking with the myth in big, bold letters is the last thing you want to do. Instead, communicate your core fact in the headline. Your debunking should begin with emphasis on the facts, not the myth. Your goal is to increase people's familiarity with the facts.”

ENERGY STAR Homes = 26% of New Construction in 2011

Posted: 18 Oct 2012 08:00 AM PDT


Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on ENERGY STAR.
Note: Percentages represent number of ENERGY STAR single-family homes as a percentage of single-family housing completions reported by the Census Bureau.

Homes built to voluntary ENERGY STAR® specifications made up about 26% of all new homes constructed in the United States during 2011. Under the latest update of the specifications that went into effect earlier this year, ENERGY STAR homes consume at least 15% less energy than those built to the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC).

There is currently no national building energy code. States have adopted a variety of codes with different levels of stringency, mostly based on the IECC, a building energy code created by the International Code Council. Often the stringency of these state building codes and ENERGY STAR participation is correlated: all but one of the eight states lacking a statewide energy code have low ENERGY STAR participation, while Arizona’s strong utility support for energy-efficient construction has fostered a high penetration of ENERGY STAR qualified homes, even though there is no statewide code there.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) initiated the ENERGY STAR specification for residential construction in 1995, creating homes that were 30% more efficient than the 1992 Model Energy Code (MEC). The specifications were revised to create Version 2 in 2006, and Version 3 was released in 2012.

A home can get ENERGY STAR certification in one of two ways: the prescriptive path or performance path. Both paths have program requirements common to all qualifying homes across the nation. The prescriptive path incorporates predefined improvements based on a home’s IECC climate zone, while the performance path uses home energy modeling to account for savings based on a more flexible use of energy savings measures. A certified Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) home energy rater verifies that specific requirements of the guidelines are met.

This article was originally published on the website of the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

E-Moss Testing “completely climate-neutral” Wireless Charging Bus in Netherlands

Posted: 18 Oct 2012 07:00 AM PDT

E-Moss is testing an electric bus that was equipped with a wireless charger, It is usually electric cars that are equipped with these, but buses could also benefit too.

The type of charger the bus is equipped with is an induction charger. Induction chargers operate by using inductors to generate an electromagnetic field which another receptive inductor in the bus uses to generate electricity.

This bus is can be charged by plugging in overnight or via wireless charging.

Electric bus in front of wireless charger.

These chargers are not the long-range type (such as microwave power transmitters) which transmit power without wires to devices hundreds of feet away, but it is a convenient short-range type that is set up in the bus lane so that the bus automatically starts charging as soon as it drives over it at a stop.

In other words, they partially charge whenever they stop to pick up and drop off people. Of course, buses make many stops and all that charging adds up.

Buses Can Benefit More from Wireless Induction Chargers than Cars

Electric cars, unlike buses, don’t tend to have completely predictable, fixed schedules. So it’s not surprising that on-road wireless charging for buses is popping up first, but roads may soon be equipped with induction chargers that could charge cars at stoplights, as well.

Source: Autoblog Green

Australian Businesses Switching to Solar Power Because…

Posted: 18 Oct 2012 06:09 AM PDT

Can you guess why more and more Australian businesses are installing commercial solar arrays?

Yep, it’s all about the Benjamins… or some other famous dead guy who Australian rappers boast about the Nellies. Of course, there are also other reasons for switching over (ahem, stopping mass societal suicide from excessive greenhouse gas emissions), but I think it’s pretty obvious what causes a mass shift in the business world — money.

“The cost of producing solar panels is constantly dropping – largely due to the arrival of major players out of China, so the barrier to entry is being lowered all the time,” a post about the Australian commercial solar shift on sister site The Inspired Economist notes. “In fact, we've seen costs of solar systems drop by around 50% from 2011 – 2012, meaning the once high capital costs associated with installing a system are diminishing – fast. By moving your business to a solar energy source, you're in effect hedging your bets against rising electricity prices.”

Yep, we just wrote about the quick, nonstop drop in solar panel prices (for the 100th time) the other day.

Here’s more from The Inspired Economist:

Here in Australia, we're all feeling the pinch of rising electricity costs and small business owners are no exception. In the State of New South Wales (NSW), which has the country's largest population, energy costs will jump by 38% in two years largely due to underinvestment in infrastructure (electricity poles and wires etc) and the flow on effects of the Carbon Tax.

The introduction of the Australian Federal Government's Carbon Tax on July 1 this year has seen electricity companies increase their prices to compensate for any losses associated with the tax. The government is providing relief in terms of personal income tax but there is little in the way of help for small business.

One area which has some of the biggest potential to ease the cost of electricity price rises is solar energy. The uptake in Australia has exploded in recent years with generous government rebates on solar systems and feed in tariffs (where you send unused electricity back to the grid in exchange for credits on your electricity bill) providing a real incentive to make the switch to solar power.

Given the fact that installing a solar power system, whether for residential or commercial purposes is so much cheaper now than even 12 months ago, and it's not uncommon for the average business to save upwards of 40% on their energy overheads, it makes perfect sense to begin the move to solar energy today and reap the rewards for years to come.

Image via Solar Market

Electric Car Company Coda Automotive Offering 10,000 Miles Free Fuel to October Buyers

Posted: 18 Oct 2012 05:47 AM PDT

One of the leading electric car companies in the world, CODA Automotive, just announced a new offer for Californian customers. It’ll give you 10,000 miles of free fuel when you purchase its new 2012 CODA in October.


"With gas prices this high in California, this is the perfect opportunity to spell out the extremely low operating costs electric vehicles have to consumers," said Thomas Hausch, CODA senior vice president of sales, marketing and aftersales. "When comparing vehicles, the total cost of ownership (TCO) is critical to consider, along with the purchase price, as it provides a comprehensive view of the bottom line. Once consumers review these factors and in turn, discover the benefits of an EV – including significantly lower maintenance costs, avoiding high gas prices completely, low electricity prices, access to the carpool lane, various tax incentives and more – going electric in today's climate makes a lot of sense. It makes you think: When has cutting edge technology been more affordable than the 'old school' version it replaces soon after its introduction?"

The deal makes a very clear contrast between the very low ‘fuel’ costs of EVs and the continually rising fuel costs of fossil-fuel-powered cars. Driving a CODA for 10,000 miles only costs you about $552 in electricity, compared to the $1500-$2000 you’d spend for gasoline or diesel.

Another significant advantage for EV owners is that they won’t be subject to the effects of fuel inflation. During the last twenty years, “the average U.S. real retail gasoline price increased 106 percent when the average U.S. real residential electricity price declined 12 percent.”

The rebate will be for the new 2012 CODA, the first completely electric five-passenger, compact sedan, possessing full rear seating and large trunk space. It will have a range of at least 88 miles per charge, and up to 125 miles. And the recharge speed looks to be pretty good, at about six hours for a full charge.

With all the tax credits taken into account, the total price in California works out to about $27,250.

CODA's 10,000 free miles promotion is a point-of-sale instant rebate of $552 and is available through CODA dealers through October 31, 2012. California consumers can contact a CODA dealer for test drives and more information: CODA Los Angeles; CODA of Silicon Valley; Fladeboe CODA in Irvine, Calif.; and Marvin K. Brown CODA San Diego.

Source and Image: Coda Automotive

This article has been reposted from Electric Love with full permission.

Synthetic Butterfly Wing Material to Cover Buildings & Improve Solar Panels

Posted: 18 Oct 2012 05:37 AM PDT

A new material designed to emulate many of the qualities of a butterfly’s wing has been developed by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Created primarily through the use of lasers, the ‘wafer’ can mimic the iridescent colors of butterfly’s wings, and is also water-proof.


The researchers used holographic lithography to create the material, recreating the wings’ reflective properties with a “3D cross-linked pattern in a kind of material called photoresist.” Afterwards a solvent is then used, washing away all the photoresist untouched by the laser. This creates a three dimensional structure that is able to affect the light that hits it. The researchers then use a ‘poorer’ solvent to roughen up the surface, resulting in the ‘fuzzy’ water-resistant texture.

The primary goal of the researchers who worked on this was to create ‘hydrophobic coatings’ that will help to improve solar panels. These coatings will allow solar panels to be more efficient by keeping them cleaner and drier.

There are a number of other potential applications though. The lead researcher is currently collaborating with architects to develop a low-cost version of the technology that could be used to cover buildings.

“Specifically, we’re interested in putting this kind of material on the outside of buildings,” Yang said. “The structural colour we can produce is bright and highly decorative.”

“The butterfly building would be connected to a chip that would let its owner change its colours and transparency at will. Because the material is water-resistant, it wouldn’t need to be cleaned as often.”

The current estimate is that the prototype will be ready in June.

Source: NewScientist
Image Credits: Advanced Functional Materials

The article above was reposted from Solar Love with permission.

Siemens Building Wind Power Plant in Turkey

Posted: 18 Oct 2012 05:13 AM PDT

Siemens Energy has been contracted to provide another wind power installation in Turkey amounting to 22 wind turbines for the Balabanli onshore wind power plant near the city of Tekirdağ in the European part of the country.

Siemens Contracted to Build Turkish Wind Farm

Wind turbines on the Turkish island of Bozcaada

This is the fourth contract Siemens has undertaken in the country, and this latest project will see the Balabanli plant achieve a capacity of 50 megawatts, enough to supply approximately 43,000 Turkish households with clean electricity.

“The Turkish wind energy market is attractive for Siemens and we expect further growth in the future,” said Felix Ferlemann, CEO of the Wind Power Division of Siemens Energy. “The fourth wind power order from Turkey shows that we are not only doing well in the offshore sector, but that we are also successful in onshore wind energy.”

Siemens will be providing 22 wind turbines, each with a capacity of 2.3 megawatts and a rotor diameter of 108 metres. Siemens will also be providing a long-term service agreement which will see the company guaranteeing availability and extended warranty on major components over the entire term of the agreement.

Source: Siemens
Image Source: tryangulation (some rights reserved)

Mongolian Nomadic Herders Get Electricity from Off-Grid Solar

Posted: 18 Oct 2012 05:06 AM PDT

Life has changed somewhat dramatically for approximately 100,000 herder families across Mongolia after a new effort led by the Mongolian government helped supply portable off-grid solar home systems which are now generating electricity for lights, televisions, radios, mobile phone charging, and small appliances.

The program, Renewable Energy and Rural Electricity Access (REAP), was launched by the Mongolian government and supported by the World Bank and the Government of the Netherlands.

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Over half a million men, women, and children now have access to electricity wherever they travel as they follow their herds of yak, cattle, sheep, goats, and camels around the 1.5 million square kilometres they call home.

“We are proud to be part of this effort, which means 500,000 people, or half the rural population of Mongolia, have electricity through portable and affordable solar home systems," said Pamela Cox, World Bank Regional Vice President for East Asia and Pacific in her first visit to the country.

"Now, children can study at night, families can watch TV and recharge cell phones, enabling them to connect to the world while maintaining their nomadic lifestyles. This is one of many innovative ideas that we are putting to work on the ground to make growth more inclusive."

Did they want electricity though?

These Mongolian herders have been living in this fashion for century upon century, and the first question that came to my mind upon reading this story was ‘Who wanted the herders to have electricity?’ Was it the government or the herders themselves?

“A few years ago, country herders managed with candles and lanterns. The change in life between then and now is like night and day," said herder Baatar Khandaa. "I believe that the quality of life in the countryside and the city are now about the same."

That’s the only quote provided by the World Bank, though they do go on to add that herder families are now able to use television weather reports to help manage their livestock and use mobile phones to determine market prices for wool and cashmere. Economically sensible, yes, but hardly a rousing vote of confidence on the part of the herders themselves.

The World Bank press release cosily reports that “families can now relax and spend time together at night under electric lights.  Children can learn by reading and from watching television.” Seems to me that families had been relaxing together and learning quite well on their own for several hundred years without the intervention of electricity.

Nevertheless, the availability of such technology for communities such as Mongolian herders is a boon for not only the industry, but those communities around the world who may in actual fact both desire and require electricity. One can only hope that the World Bank and governments like the Netherlands are looking to other countries more impoverished with similar intentions in mind.

Source: World Bank

180 Solar Panel Manufacturers Could Disappear by 2015

Posted: 18 Oct 2012 04:58 AM PDT

GTM Research says many PV solar panel makers will go under or be acquired soon. The global marketplace is simply over-saturated, the company’s report states, so dramatic changes are coming. The difference in PV supply and demand could be 35 GW a year.


About 88 companies are predicted to shutter PV factories, mainly in the United States, Europe, and Canada. The cost of solar panels and their manufacture has dropped so much it is simply too costly to produce them competitively in certain parts of the world. The number of companies affected by the fast-changing market conditions is huge, and very sad for the demise of their once promising ventures.

“Manufacturing costs for firms in Europe, the U.S. and Japan are currently over 80 cents per watt. The cost for their Chinese competitors is between 58 cents and 68 cents per watt. The writing is on the wall: these companies will either take what they can get via acquisition or they will bow out,” said the report’s author, Shyam Mehta, Senior Analyst at GTM.

Even the Chinese manufacturers are vulnerable, though. About 54 of them are anticipated to go under as well. Some of these companies have been called ‘solar zombies’ because they have received government support while not functioning competitively on their own.

Of course, scores of workers will lose their jobs, and even though some national economies may experience a slight uptick, it is still a very tough time to find a good job.

Much political hay was made with the Solyndra demise and one can only imagine a huge loss of various solar panel companies might be similarly exploited. It is difficult to be sympathetic to failed government-supported ventures, but there are also gigantic and ongoing subsidies for fossil fuels, so I think the continued support for renewable energy is completely reasonable and justifiable.

Image Credit: Chinneeb

New Nanotech Battery Energy Storage System Debuts in Kansas City

Posted: 18 Oct 2012 04:54 AM PDT

Kansas City's electrical grid just got stronger and smarter, thanks to a new nano-battery energy storage system.

Nanotech energy storage battery

The 1-megawatt (MW) battery went live late last week and once fully operational will store solar energy produced in the area, help smooth out peak demand, and limit regional power outages.

It may not look like much more than a simple 45-foot-long trailer, but the Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) could be the next step in community-scale energy storage. At full capacity, the nanotech polymer lithium ion battery can supply the electricity demand of 400 homes for about an hour.

BESS is designed by manufacturer Exergonix to be self-contained and modular in nature, can scale up or down in size depending on demand, and has a 10-year operating expectancy. Two separate 500-kilowatt hour (KWh) capacity units are independently controlled electronically, and can be installed in a building or outdoor setting.

The system's performance results will be independently tested and analyzed before it goes fully online in order to determine environmental, economic, and reliability impacts.

While the BESS design and output is impressive by itself, its impact on Kansas City could be even more significant. As the anchor of Kansas City Power and Light Company's (KCP&L) $48 million dollar SmartGrid Innovation Park, the battery ties together a solar array, electric vehicle charging station, regional grid monitoring station, and urban park. It's also open to the public and provides programs to educate consumers about their energy use.

In turn, the Innovation Park is at the heart of the city's Green Impact Zone, an effort to transform a 150-square block area of Kansas City. The zone has suffered severe economic decline and an estimated 50 percent unemployment rate. A combination of weatherization programs, green collar job training programs, renewable energy and smart grid investments, and overall sustainability strategy aims to transform the neighborhood into a green economic zone.

BESS battery system image via KCUR Kansas City Public Radio

99% Natural Timber Tower for Wind Turbines

Posted: 18 Oct 2012 04:47 AM PDT

Timber Tower makes wooden wind power towers up to 200 meters tall for wind turbines. Their test tower at Hannover employs a 1.5 MW Vensys wind turbine, which has been estimated to generate electricity for about 1,000 homes. The turbine weighs one hundred tons.


The timber tower support structure is a wooden hollow column with a multi-sided cross-section. Hexagonal, octagonal, or dodecagonal cross-sections are used. The timber used to make the wooden pieces are sourced from ecologically and economically responsible forestry practices. The wood has a PEFC certificate, which is a standard in Europe for socially responsible business.

One of the main advantages of using wood for wind power towers is cost. Steel can by very expensive, but locally sourced timber typically is much cheaper. Another advantage is transportation of the tower materials and pieces to challenging locations. Wood materials are easier to carry via large trucks than tubular steel sections.

Timber Towers are guaranteed to have a minimum life cycle of twenty years. Once a tower has exhausted its usefulness, the materials can be recycled.

Image Credit: Timber Tower

1 comment:

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