Thursday, October 25, 2012

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Link to CleanTechnica

Damen Launches Its First Hybrid Tugboat

Posted: 24 Oct 2012 03:29 PM PDT

 
Damen Shipyards, a Netherlands-based company, has launched its first diesel-electric hybrid tugboat. It is the ASD Tug 2810 Hybrid. Iskes Towing and Salvage will be the launching customer (the first customer to use it).

The signing ceremony took place yesterday (October 23), at Offshore Energy in Amsterdam.

Damen ASD Tug 2810 Hybrid Tugboat.

Damen Shipyards claims that this boat will offer diesel fuel savings of 10–30%, and that it reduces emissions by 20–60%.

The second hybrid vessel is slated to become available from stock at the end of 2013.

It Helps Green Technologies to be as Commercially Attractive as Possible

Erik van Schaik, Design & Proposal Engineer at Damen Tugs, said: "In the past many green solutions were simply too expensive for the tugboat market. We were very mindful that this vessel had to cut fuel and emissions, but at the same time it had to be positioned at an attractive price for the market. We wanted to make being green commercially attractive too."

Not only is the tugboat a hybrid, but it also features solar panels and energy efficient products.

“Solar panels are added to the deckhouse on the Damen standard version and these are used to charge the 24V battery packs for starting the engines and emergency power for navigation lighting and radio equipment,” Green Car Congress reports. “Other green initiatives on the vessel include LED lighting, and a special paint coating, making the vessel more environmentally friendly and clean for at least five years.”
 

 

Getting Innovative Green Technologies Going

While environmental friendliness and being economical go hand in hand when the right technology is used, and even more importantly in the right way, (and often is cheaper overall when you consider public health and other environmental costs), people are most likely to adopt “green” technologies when they are affordable “at the register,” so to speak.

Early adopters of environmentally friendly technologies help them to get off the ground because they test them on behalf of their manufacturers, and this testing is essential to the improvement of technology.

Technologies usually start out both impractical and expensive — there are few exceptions to this rule. The technologies which are considered cheap now started out expensive, including computers, automobiles, refrigerators, and air conditioners, and only a few wealthy people could afford those things.

Those few people made it possible for manufacturers to carry out real-life studies of them so they could be improved, and, not only that, but could eventually enjoy the benefits of economies of scale. Production volume generally has to start out small, and some people will have to pay the high price for that as a start, and then production volume can grow because of those early adopters.

Production volume cannot be increased without demand, and production volume needs to be increased to drive prices down so that everyone else will be willing to buy the new technologies.

The renewable energy and alternative fuel vehicle industries need this, as well.

It’s great to see hybrid tugboats breaking onto the scene. Hopefully early adopters will help lead to these becoming the norm.

Source: Green Car Congress
Photo Credit: Damen Shipyards Website


Liquid Metal Battery & Donald Sadoway on Colbert

Posted: 24 Oct 2012 10:36 AM PDT

 
We’ve gotten a pretty decent stream of views in the past couple days from people googling “liquid metal battery” or “donald sadoway battery” or “ambri” or something along those lines. Given that there wasn’t any recent news on Donald Sadoway’s liquid metal battery (now being developed under the company name Ambri — which is backed by Bill Gates, Khosla Ventures, and several others), I was a bit unsure where the surge in interest was coming from. I figured it must have been featured on TV or something. Sure enough, that seems to have been the case — Donald Sadoway and his liquid metal battery were featured on The Colbert Report show this week. The full interview is below.

For anyone not aware, Colbert pretends to be an über conservative… nonstop. Surprisingly, many interviewees don’t seem to be aware of that coming into the interview. Or, if they are aware, they just get totally thrown off. Sadoway seems to do quite a good job here of playing along a bit, staying composed, and getting his key points across.

He does seem to inadvertently promote some common misconceptions in the interview, however. While pointing out that better batteries will make it easier to store and use electricity produced from solar and wind energy (true), he almost makes it sound like we can’t integrate those into the grid without better batteries (not true). As recent studies have shown: the U.S. could be getting 70% of its electricity cheaply from renewable energy by 2030 with current technology, and the world could be 95% powered by renewables by 2050 with no breakthrough technologies.

So, it’s definitely not that we can’t do it, or that there’s anything technical holding back a surge in renewable integration today. However, big breakthroughs, especially in energy storage, will certainly help and can speed up our global renewable energy revolution. We here at CleanTechnica are big fans of Sadoway and his liquid metal battery, and I’m very happy to see him getting some attention in ‘mainstream’ media. I imagine the real Colbert is, too.


Cleantech, Politics, Nuclear, & Climate News Link Love

Posted: 24 Oct 2012 10:05 AM PDT

 
Here’s new on a mixture of different topics, to supplement our own 15 or so stories a day and the solar energy news and clean transportation news roundups I just published. Enjoy!

Politics & Policy

This November, Our Energy Future Hangs In The Balance: ”‘I like coal.’ Governor Romney's love note to the coal industry during the first Presidential debate in Denver gave rise to a tidal wave of Tweets and blog posts.  It's been widely panned by environmental groups and lauded by the fossil fuel industry — in fact, shares in several mining companies actually rose the following day. Governor Romney confirmed his affections during the second debate, declaring, ‘I will fight for oil, coal, and natural gas.’”

The Energiewende Cost Index: Craig Morris of Renewables International writes: “Germany’s Institute of Applied Ecology published two scientific studies this month in German investigating the complicated issue of what renewables actually cost. Here, we take a brief look at a few of the charts and try to explain the findings.”

The Green Take on Elizabeth Warren vs. Scott Brown — And Three More Hot Senate Races: “The presidential race has been sucking up a lot of oxygen (and just plain sucking), but there are in fact other important races playing out across the country. Here are four Senate contests with notable green (or not-so-green) angles.”


 

Nuclear Energy

Fresh Questions Raised over ‘Blank Cheque’ for New Nuclear: “The government is today facing renewed calls for it to rule out specific subsidies for nuclear plants that would cover construction risks relating to new projects, after a group of leading energy academics warned that taxpayer could end up footing a multi-billion pound bill.”

Climate Change

Winter Wheat Crop Now Feeling Impact of U.S. Drought: “During the past week, drought conditions have improved slightly across the U.S., but the majority of the lower 48 states continue to suffer from what is proving to be a widespread and pernicious drought event, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor statistics, released on Thursday. The drought put a major dent in the U.S. corn and soybean crop, and now it is delaying the emergence of winter wheat, which is grown in some of the hardest-hit drought states, such as Nebraska.”

Other Cleantech News & Opinion

GE Invites You to Build Your Own (Virtual) Wind Farm: “Using Microsoft's Kinect technology, wind maker GE Energy and software developer Infusion partnered to create a new Xbox 360-type gesture-driven interactive interface and colorful presentation through which users can experiment with some of the choices involved in building a wind project.”

Why You Need An Energy Audit: “As a green home consultant, there are preciously few definitive pieces of advice that I can give all-comers. It seems that I am always qualifying any advice on home upgrades–telling the homeowner that the right choice depends on the location of the home, local codes, whether the primary energy load is cooling or if it is heating, the type of heating fuel used, whether the summers in the area are humid or dry…There is always some qualifier. The advice to seek out a professional energy audit is an easy one. I can say that an energy audit is appropriate for every homeowner and every home, even a brand-new one.”

Explore EIA's New State Energy Portal: “EIA recently launched a new interactive web portal for state-level energy data and infrastructure overlays. The new web portal includes a profile analysis for each state and allows users to:

  • Compare state rankings of energy consumption, production, and prices across fuels and sectors (Pennsylvania/natural gas residential prices selected above right)
  • Customize energy maps with over 30 selectable layers (Pennsylvania/coal selected above left)
  • Visualize state-level data with graphics and charts (Pennsylvania/prices selected below)
  • Analyze key energy facts for each state”

Zero Waste Systems; A Cycle Following Nature's Design: “I write about sustainable practices and products every article. But the process that needs the most attention for our economy to become truly sustainable is the products' entire life-cycle process from extraction through production to purchase to use and then finally to its end. The end is the part that we need to really focus on now.”


Solar News Link Love

Posted: 24 Oct 2012 10:00 AM PDT

 
Here’s some more solar news and commentary from around the interwebs from the past week or so:

New "Smart" Solar Modules Unveiled by Upsolar: “Upsolar yesterday unveiled that it has created new "smart modules" with the help of Tigo Energy. Reportedly, these are the first smart modules to be certified by TÜV Rheinland PTL for Europe and North America. The new smart modules are good for residential, commercial, or utility-scale solar installations.”

New High-Tech Solar Company for Saudi Arabia: “A new high-tech company for the solar energy sector is going to be created in Saudi Arabia, courtesy Saint-Gobain (in particular, Jean-Pierre Floris, Senior Vice-President and President of the Innovative Materials Sector) and Prince Faisal Bin Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.”

Over 100 MW of Utility-Scale Solar for Indonesia: “100 MW of utility-scale solar power plants are reportedly headed to Indonesia courtesy First Solar, a leading solar product company based out of the US, and PT. Pembangkitan Jawa Bali Services (PJB Services), an Indonesia company. An MOU was signed this week by the two companies.”

SolarCity to Power 26 Los Angeles Unified School District Schools with Solar Energy: “SolarCity today announced a 7.4-megawatt (MW) solar power project that will bring renewable energy to 26 Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) schools. The project will bring immediate and long-term cost savings to the District and is expected to save more than $776,000 in their first year and more than $25 million over the next 20 years.”


 
Solar Insights: Grid Parity Is Really Here, This Time: “Grid parity is a term that is often discussed and a goal that is often raised, but until subsidies are stripped away it is a concept that has not been tested – beyond some off-grid and island locations. Where better to test it then, than in Spain, the country that did so much to support the deployment of wind and solar energy but which, thanks to the continuing fallout of its property crash, can no longer afford to pay energy subsidies, be they green, grey or black.”

Australian Rooftop Solar Market Cools in September: “Australian PV system registrations fell considerably in September, following a general downturn in the market. A downturn was expected after the reduction in solar multiplier drove installations into Quarter 2, but registrations in Q3 were buoyed by the closing feed-in tariffs in Queensland and Victoria, and by the lag between intallation and registration.”

First Solar to Build 13MW Solar Power Plant for Dubai Electricity & Water Authority: “First Solar, Inc. [has] announced it has been selected by the Dubai Electricity & Water Authority (DEWA) to construct a 13 megawatt (MWDC) solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant in Seih Al Dahal, approximately 50 kilometers south of Dubai. Under the terms of the agreement, First Solar will provide engineering, procurement and construction services, as well as its advanced thin-film PV modules.”

PetersenDean Roofing and Solar Announces That It Can Design and Build Roof Top Solar Power Systems at a Profit, Without the Need for the Investment Tax Credit: “PetersenDean Roofing and Solar, Inc. announced today that it can engineer, procure and construct its Power Saver Series line of roof top solar power systems without the need for the Investment Tax Credit to provide affordability for consumers and profitability for PetersenDean on each and every system.”

"The Power Saver Series is a simplified product line that is super easy to articulate to the consumer and strips out many of the unnecessary cost that designing individual systems require. I mean, how foolish and inefficient is it to take hours of the consumers time, plus hours of design time, plus hours of proposal time that simply requires one question and that is 'How much do you pay for electricity each month?' and when they tell us, we can put them in one of three Power Saver systems in minutes," said CEO Jim Petersen.

Petersen, also exclaimed, "I mean, why would anyone lease a solar power system that cost five grand for twenty years and never own it? Our Power Saver Series are power house systems that are all under fifteen grand and the consumer gets to keep the thirty percent tax credit for now. You talk about a no-brainer."

Solar Shoes Helps Mount on Shingled Roofs: “The CHEM LINK Solar Shoe provides an economical, yet innovative solution to mounting solar panels on shingled roofs. The Solar Shoe is made from a tough urethane that can resist heavy impact at high and low temperatures.”


Clean Transportation News Link Love

Posted: 24 Oct 2012 09:29 AM PDT

 
Here’s some more clean transportation news from around the interwebs from the past week or so:

Electric Vehicles

Toyota's Scion iQ EV Joins Car-Sharing Craze: “A new electric vehicle from Toyota, the he 2013 Scion iQ EV, is going to be used for urban and campus car-sharing programs. This is a battery-electric car with 4 seats that is aimed at urban commuters. About 90 of the vehicles will go to car-sharing fleets, to start.”

Cadillac ELR, Based Off Chevy Volt, To Roll Out In 2013: “GM is developing a Cadillac version of the Chevy Volt, and word is that it will hit the market in late 2013.”

Nissan's Supercharged Hybrid Drivetrain To Debut In 2014 Infiniti JX: “Once upon a time, hybrid cars were boring. But as we move deeper into the 21st century, automakers are realizing the potential hybrid vehicle drivetrains represent. As previously reported, Nissan is working on a hybrid drivetrain paired with a supercharged engine. Now comes word that this system will make its debut in the 2014 Infiniti JX crossover.”

First All-Electric Taxi Fleet Could Hit Roads In US: ”A futuristic-looking fleet of all-electric cabs may soon be plugged in and driving on the streets of Arlington, Virginia, near the nation’s capital, a sign the environmentally-friendly vehicles are slowly catching on as a viable means of transportation in the US.”

Furtive eGT EV Hits 149 MPH in Germany: “The racing driver Sabine Schmitz has tested the battery-electric Furtive eGT sports car from Exagon Motors (earlier post) on the Nordschleife (north loop) of the Nürburgring, achieving a top speed of nearly 240 km/h (149 mph) on the 20 kilometer long Nordschleife. The Furtive eGT, introduced earlier this year at the Paris Motor Show, features motors from Siemens and batteries from Saft.”

Hertz Puts Customers In Charge With Electric Vehicle Campaign: “During the next month, The Hertz Corporation (NYSE: HTZ) is partnering with Mission Electric, an outreach campaign co-founded by the City of New York, to give New Yorkers a vote on which neighborhoods in their city should receive new Electric Vehicles (EVs) to rent through Hertz. Based on the results, the most popular locations will each receive a Hertz On Demand EV to rent by the hour or by the day.”


 
Germany Will Be Home to Europe’s Largest Battery Factory: “Europe’s largest battery cell factory is under construction in the German state of Saxony. The Federal Government is optimistic that the production of high performance lithium based batteries could revolutionize the automotive industry. Germany Trade & Invest will have experts at this year’s Batteries 2012 event in Nice from October 24 to 26, 2012 to inform visitors about the latest business opportunities in the industry.”

EIB loans Bollore 75 million euros to expand Autolib electric carsharing program: “It looks like Parisian electric-vehicle car-sharing service Autolib just got some more juice. The European Investment Bank (EIB) loaned France-based conglomerate Bollore 75 million euros ($98 million) to expand its Autolib service throughout the French capital. Last year, Bollore received a 130 million euro loan from the EIB for electricity-storage investments.”

Elon Musk Steps Up To Defend Tesla Dealership Program: “It recently came to light that Tesla Motors was coming under fire for opening several company-owned dealerships in areas like Boston and New York City. This has traditional franchise dealership associations up in arms, with lawsuits flying Tesla's way. Elon Musk, chairman and CEO of the electric automaker, has taken to his blog to explain why Tesla Motors must sell cars differently. Tesla recently opened stores in both Boston and New York City. While 48 states have laws against automaker-owned dealerships, there is a loophole that Tesla can exploit because it is not competing with any other franchise-owned Tesla dealerships. The way the law is written, automakers can't compete with existing dealerships… but if there are no dealerships to compete with, no problem, right?”

Bicycling

Study Finds Bicycle Infrastructure Reduces Risk Of Cycling Injuries: “With Vancouver's Bike to Work Week coming near, the University of British Columbia has just released a new study that cites bicycle infrastructure as playing an important role in decreasing cycling accidents. The study was published in the American Journal of Public Health.”

More Evidence on the Growth of the Bicycle Economy: “A number of reports over the last few years have illustrated the economic benefits of building bicycling infrastructure: from job creation to reductions in health care spending, investment in bike lanes and paths (as well as walking infrastructure) pays off. Now the League of American Bicyclists has updated its 2009 study The Economic Benefits of Bicycle Infrastructure Investments, and the news continues to impress. Bicycle manufacturing, infrastructure development, and bike-focused tourism are still strong bets in an economy still struggling to grow. Nearby bicycling facilities even improve home values.”

120,000 People, 0 Cars: “For a short time on Sunday, streets were liberated from automobiles in Los Angeles and Atlanta — and thousands of residents flooded into their reclaimed public space. With the roads closed to cars, more than 100,000 Angelenos and 20,000 Atlantans took advantage by biking, walking and celebrating community in a variety of creative and active ways. Both initiated in 2010, CicLAvia and Atlanta Streets Alive are just two of the growing number of open streets events nationwide. In fact, according to the Alliance for Biking & Walking's Open Streets Project, the movement in North America has grown from only 11 initiatives in 2005 to more than 80 this year.” (Great LA Times picture at the link above.)

Other

Europe's Vibrant New Low Car(bon) Communities: “ITDP has issued a new report that examines eight new developments across Europe and finds that the design and policy measures these developments have employed to limit car use are working. These developments have lower rates of car ownership and car mode share, and higher rates of bicycling, walking and transit use than comparable areas or their surrounding cities. This also means these developments have lower carbon footprints from transportation.”

Andrew Steer – Reflections On The 8th International Congress On Sustainable Transport: “Who said urban transport was boring? Certainly not the 1,100 people who recently gathered in Mexico City at the 8th annual International Congress on Sustainable Transport. The event, organized by colleagues at EMBARQ Mexico, brought together leading government officials, practitioners, academics, and other professionals to explore lessons and find new solutions to global transportation challenges. I was amazed by the energy and excitement that pervaded the event and by the ideas and innovations emerging in this field.”


Wind & Solar Power = 100% of New U.S. Electricity Capacity in September 2012

Posted: 24 Oct 2012 06:30 AM PDT

 
Reposted in full from our friends over at Climate Progress, here’s some pretty exciting news that I think will get our readers to perk up in their chairs this morning. And I’ll just add one thing here: while everyone seems to focus on the natural gas boom (especially in mainstream energy & political media), notice below that more wind and solar power capacity have been added to the grid in 2012 than natural gas capacity. In other words, natural gas is certainly booming these days due to its (unsustainably) low price, but renewable energy is booming to an even greater degree! (Note that, in the US, the median LCOE of wind power is now equal to the median LCOE of combined cycle natural gas power.) Anyway, on to the data….

September was tied for the hottest of any September on record globally. It was also a very hot month for renewable energy in the U.S. According to figures from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, wind and solar accounted for all new electricity capacity added to America's grid in September.

The projects consisted of five wind farms totaling 300 megawatts and 18 solar installations totaling 133 megawatts:

solar wind power additions capacity us electricity capacity

Renewable energy analyst Kenneth Bossong initially reported on the figures.

"The remarkable expansion of renewable energy's contribution to the nation's electrical supply reflects continuing declines in costs, the impact of state renewable electricity standards, and the mix of tax and other incentives provided by the federal government," said Bossong in an emailed statement.

As the chart above shows, the U.S. has seen 4,055 MW of wind, 936 MW of solar, 340 MW of biomass, 123 MW of geothermal, 9 MW of hydro, and 3 MW of waste heat projects come online since January. This represents a 29 percent increase over the same period in 2011.


Total Grid-Connected US Solar PV Capacity Unveiled in New EIA Data — Over 3.5 GW

Posted: 24 Oct 2012 06:22 AM PDT

 

Sources: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Form EIA-861 Annual Electric Power Industry Report and Form EIA-860 Annual Electric Generator Report
Note: While photovoltaic capacity is typically discussed in direct-current megawatts (MWDC), EIA collects data on the electric power industry in alternating-current megawatts (MWAC). See the AC vs DC section below.

Using new information, EIA combines data on utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity with customer-sited PV capacity, as reported in the graphic.  EIA’s utility-scale electric generator survey has a threshold of 1 MW for reporting and, thus, does not capture most customer-sited installations. However, in 2010, electric utilities started reporting to EIA the capacity of their customers’ behind-the-meter generation, which is larger than utility-scale capacity.

National solar PV capacity is growing rapidly. Tracking this rapid growth is a challenge, however, because PV solar is more often used at a consumer’s location—e.g., rooftop solar panels—and less often in large, centralized generating stations like other technologies.

An estimate of total PV capacity must therefore account for many small installations (often referred to as distributed solar capacity). However, while EIA maintains an inventory of all power plants of 1 megawatt capacity and greater, there is no census—either from government or industry—of the thousands of small rooftop commercial and residential solar PV installations across the United States.

EIA is improving its data collection to address this issue. Meanwhile, EIA presents this lower bound based on existing electric power industry survey data: at the end of 2011, EIA data show U.S. solar PV capacity was at least 3,536 megawatts (MWAC). The chart above summarizes the calculation (also, see below).
 

 
Using EIA data to estimate total PV capacity. Electric generating capacity is reported to EIA every year by:

  • utility-scale power plants on the Annual Electric Generator Report (Form EIA-860)
  • retail electricity providers serving net metered generators on the Annual Electric Power Industry Report (Form EIA-861).

To estimate total PV capacity, capacity data on net metered PV installations from Form EIA-861 are added to utility-scale capacity data from Form EIA-860, and then adjusted to remove possible overlap between the two data sets.

This overlap occurs because the limit for installations reported on Form EIA-861 is 2 MW, while the reporting threshold for Form EIA-860 is 1 MW. Regulatory capacity limits on the size of net metered installations vary by state; some are above the 1-MW threshold for utility-scale reporting, and some states have no limit at all. For states in either of these cases, industrial and commercial solar PV installations between 1 and 2 MW are removed from the total utility-scale capacity reported on the Form EIA-860. In 2011, this potential overlap amounted to only 14.2 MW.

Why a lower bound? It is important to emphasize that this estimate is a lower bound for total PV capacity, as there are likely PV installations that are not captured on either the Form EIA-860 or EIA-861. As mentioned above, net metering size limits vary, and some are far below the 1-MW threshold for utility-scale reporting. It is not clear that EIA is capturing PV installations with capacities above the state net metering limit but below the Form EIA-860 threshold.

At first glance, the distributed generation dataset, also collected on the Form EIA-861, might seem useful to capture this missing segment. However, the net metering data collection is similar but more comprehensive and is preferred. The reported data for net metering are larger, and the net metering collection includes residential, industrial, and commercial sectors.

Comparison to industry estimate. The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) prepares an estimate of total PV capacity developed using a combination of state incentive program data, information from utility companies, and collaboration with other organizations tracking this series. Considering the information below places the IREC 2011 estimate of 4,000 MWDC between 3,200 and 3,600 MWAC(using an 80% to 90% conversion efficiency). EIA’s lower bound of 3,536 MWAC falls towards the high end of this range.

Alternating current and direct current (AC and DC). To compare EIA’s lower bound with solar industry estimates, it is important to consider the units with which they are described. Organizations like IREC and the Solar Energy Industries Association report in MWDC, because solar panels produce DC power. EIA collects electric capacity data in MWAC, the type of electricity used in homes and on the grid, and which is produced by non-PV generators. Moving the electricity from the solar panel to the grid involves some losses, and equipment and other considerations differ from installation to installation.

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


Companies Plan 12 Solar Installations at Macerich Shopping Centers for 2013

Posted: 24 Oct 2012 06:10 AM PDT

 
The beginning phase of a large multi-property retail real estate solar power program, funded by Panasonic Eco Solutions North America and Macerich, is now starting.

20121023-234449.jpg

Throughout the next year, solar power installations “at a total of 12 Macerich shopping centers in Arizona, California, New York and Connecticut are expected to yield 10.2 MW to 12 MW of clean energy – enough power for approximately 10,000 homes,” Kathleen Zipp of Solar Power World writes.

This new solar power focus is a part of Macerich's “fully-integrated sustainability program.” The company established this program in 2008 to improve its practices related to “energy efficiency, water conservation, sustainable real estate development and redevelopment, waste management and green operational practices and procurement,” Kathleen adds.

The company says that it is aiming to conduct its business in a more socially responsible way; balancing environmental responsibility and social impact while at the same time driving the creation of long-term value.


 
All of the twelve new solar projects are being developed by Panasonic and then financed and owned by Panasonic's financial platform partner, Coronal Management.

"Macerich offers an example of the types of projects Panasonic and Coronal will pursue," said Jonathan Jaffrey, head of Coronal Management. "This alliance with Panasonic has created a powerful team with the resources and expertise needed to serve corporate clients like Macerich and stand behind solar installations over the long term."

"The Macerich portfolio represents an ideal opportunity for Panasonic to deliver an end-to-end solar solution on a large scale with an ideal partner," said Jim Doyle, President, Panasonic Eco Solutions North America. "We are delighted to have forged a strong partnership with Macerich and look forward to developing more solar opportunities across their national portfolio in the future."

Source: Solar Power World
Image Credits: P10 via Wikimedia Commons


New Audi F12 e Sport Electric Car

Posted: 24 Oct 2012 06:00 AM PDT

 
German automaker Audi recently announced a new model in its line of electric cars. The F12 e Sport is its newest electric model, maintaining the ‘supercar’ looks of some earlier models while implementing a “more practical application of the electric drivetrain that can be used in everything from crossovers to city-cars,” as Chris DeMorro of Gas2 writes.

20121023-230856.jpg

The Audi F12 e Sport is being built with the same chassis as the Audi R8 e-tron supercar, so they may look alike, but their internal builds are quite different — primarily because of the new battery pack and electric drivetrain, jointly developed by Audi, Bosch, and university researchers. More from Chris:

“The lithium-ion battery pack delivers 38 kWh of power, a little less than the Audi R8 e-tron, sending power to three electric motors. At low speeds, the electric motor at the front wheels drives the Audi F12 e Sport in a manner that saves energy. At higher speeds, two rear-mounted electric motors propel the car in conjunction with the front motor. The combined power output of this electric motor trio is a respectable 204 horsepower and 405 ft-lbs of torque.”


 
There’s a heat pump present to keep the battery cool, though the batteries are also designed to be able to store heat, allowing the engine an easier warm up on colder days. The new model also makes use of a removable tablet computer as the control panel.

“This more practical approach to electric vehicles may help put Audi on top of the European EV game. But for my money, the Audi R8 e-tron and Mercedes SLS AMG Electric Drive need to duke it out for electric dominance before I'll be happy.”

Source: Gas2
Image Credit: Audi


British Public Want More Solar and Wind

Posted: 24 Oct 2012 05:52 AM PDT

 
An opinion poll conducted by YouGov and commissioned by the Sunday Times has shown that a clear majority of the British public want the government to using more solar and wind power.

In fact, the report (PDF) showed a clear favouritism towards renewable energy, with significant percentages rejecting the need for more nuclear, gas and coal-fired electricity, and oil use.

British Public Want More Solar and Wind

The survey showed that 55 percent of those questioned say that the number of wind farms in the country should be higher, while only 14 percent thought the number should stay at current levels. Sadly, 21 percent thought that there should be fewer than are currently installed.

A whopping 72 percent of those surveyed wanted more solar power, with only 5 percent wanting less than is currently installed and 12 percent wanting levels to stay the same.

An increase in nuclear power was favoured by 40 percent of those surveyed, but only 17 percent wanted more coal- and gas-powered stations.
 

 
“This is an unequivocal vote of confidence in renewable energy,” RenewableUK’s Deputy Chief Executive Maf Smith said. ”A clear majority of British people support building more wind farms to meet our country’s clean energy needs. That support is consistently strong, in this and other independent polls.

“One stark message from this survey is the public’s evident disenchantment with fossil fuels, including the unpopularity of fracking for shale gas. The British public is telling us that we are right to be making this landmark transition from a perilous fossil fuel addiction to a low-carbon future.”

Source: RenewableUK
Image Source: NHD-INFO (some rights reserved)


UK Must Target Policies to Promote Renewables, Big Clean Energy Companies Pulling Out of UK Plans due to Uncertainty

Posted: 24 Oct 2012 05:36 AM PDT

 
A WWF-UK funded paper published Tuesday made it clear that the UK government must target policies to promote renewable energy solutions in an effort to reduce the country’s carbon footprint and increase investor confidence in the country’s renewable industry.

The report, ”On picking winners: The need for targeted support for renewable energy,” was written by Dr Rob Gross of Imperial College London and arrives at a turbulent stage for the UK energy policy.

UK Must Support Renewable Energy Policies

Already this year, the UK has lost three major investors in the offshore wind industry: General Electric put on hold its €110 million planned investment in a UK offshore manufacturing plant, citing the lack of clarity in the UK's renewable energy policy; Korean company Doosan Power Systems similarly cancelled its planned investment citing "sapping market confidence" in the UK's offshore wind market; and Vestas cancelled its plans to employ up to 2,000 people in an offshore turbine factory.

Additionally, Siemens, Alstom UK, Mitsubishi Power Systems, and four other companies have threatened their own pull-out due to a lack of decision-making, saying that threats to relax key targets "have caused us to reassess the level of political risk in the UK" in a Times article published earlier this month.

The report makes it clear that the popular notion of a “carbon price to fix it all” is simply not viable. Carbon pricing will play a part, the author notes, but it must play a part in conjunction with financial support policies such as feed-in tariffs and the Renewables Obligation.

"There is a notion, popular amongst some energy economists, that carbon pricing is the only policy we need in order to save the planet,” said Dr Rob Gross, Director of the Imperial College Centre for Energy Policy and Technology. ”This is so simplistic it is absurd. Renewable energy in particular needs the policies that are investment grade. Only then will we get costs down and create a cleaner and more secure energy system.”
 

 
"Investing in large-scale wind is not the same as investing in small-scale wind or solar and neither is it the same as investing in gas. We need horses for courses in our energy policy. The government understands this but is often being urged to take a different approach in order to simplify energy policy. I am all in favour of simplicity, but we must not lose sight of what drives investment, and what investors need. Targeted policies are essential. If the government relies too heavily on carbon pricing the result will simply be higher bills and higher carbon."

The report highlights a number of limitations which could arise if carbon pricing was the only policy driver to support investment in renewables:

  • A carbon price will rarely be set at the level necessary to attract investment in newer clean technologies like renewables. Instead, it is more likely to drive investment from coal to gas.
  • A carbon price set high enough to drive investment in emerging technologies which cannot yet compete with established fossil fuel generation would risk a windfall for operators of existing low carbon plant and higher prices for consumers. Targeted financial support policies combined with a lower carbon price provides an effective way of providing certainty to renewable energy developers whilst driving investment away from high carbon technologies across all sectors.
  • At the global level, fossil fuels are more often subsidised than taxed, which also undermines carbon pricing. The effect of fossil fuel subsidies is therefore to create, in effect a 'negative carbon price'.
  • Carbon pricing does not do enough to overcome the non-financial barriers that hinder the deployment of emerging technologies such as compatibility with existing infrastructure, incumbent lobby interests and skill shortages.

"Dr Gross' report exposes the deep flaws in the argument that carbon pricing can do it all,” explained David Nussbaum, Chief Executive of WWF-UK. ”Whilst the simplicity of this argument may sound appealing, in practice relying on carbon pricing alone is likely to lead to carbon-intensive gas plants continuing to dominate our energy mix – preventing newer and cleaner technologies from realising their potential and locking us in to a risky reliance on largely imported fossil fuels.”

"Without targeted and proportionate policies supporting our renewables industry, we will miss out on the opportunity rapidly to reduce the costs of emerging renewable technologies and on the promising economic growth opportunities that the sector has to offer the UK. This would be a huge missed opportunity given the UK's current industrial leadership in offshore wind and marine renewable technologies."

Source: WWF-UK
Image Source: Mark A. Coleman


Hybrid Car 100+ Years Old Was Similar to Chevy Volt

Posted: 24 Oct 2012 05:27 AM PDT

 
Think hybrid vehicles like the Prius and Volt are new? Well, they are new to us, but the Lohner-Porsche Mixte Hybrid was created in 1901, making it over 110 years old. At the time, it probably was called a ‘horseless carriage’ and weighed about 3,300 pounds.


The Lohner-Porsche Hybrid used a power configuration similar to today’s Chevy Volt, in that it employed a generator which ran on gasoline to create electricity. The small internal combustion engine used as a generator was made by Daimler. Electric motors near the wheel hubs were powered by this electricity. The vehicle’s top speed was about 37 mph.

For a turn-of-the-century vehicle, this was moving swiftly, if you consider 37.5 mph was about the average speed when Secretariat won the Belmont Stakes. Safety features on horseless carriages in 1901 couldn’t have been that extensive, and city streets would have been crowded with horse-drawn carriages and pedestrians, so it might have been dangerous to go that fast. Today’s version of this ground-breaking hybrid might be the Porsche Cayenne S. It costs almost $70,000, supposedly gets 24 mpg, and has a top speed of 150 mph.
 

 
Austrian Dr. Ferdinand Porsche was the designer and builder of the Mixte and he was only about 24 at the time. He drove one of his hybrids in the Exelberg Rally of 1901 and finished in first place. In the early 1930s, he went on to found Volkswagen and Porsche motor companies. At one point, he was contracted by Hitler to make vehicles and even tanks for the Nazis.

Of course, today, Porsche is an iconic car brand known for making some of the fastest and most attractive vehicles in the world.

For a similar story, check out “Disabled Millionaire Spearheaded Hybrid Car To Pursue Driving Pleasure.”

Image Credit: Public Domain


Peel Energy’s 57 MW Cheshire Wind Farm Approved

Posted: 24 Oct 2012 05:11 AM PDT

 
The United Kingdom’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has approved the construction of 19 wind turbines at a wind farm in Cheshire, which is a county in North West England.

The wind farm is to be constructed for Peel Energy near Frodsham, and it has an electricity generation capacity of 57 MW (57,000 kW). As such, it has the capacity to power up to 25,000 homes in the town and in neighboring Helsby and Elton.

Wind farm in East Somerton, England.

A community trust fund is also to be established to help fund projects in the area.

As for the other two, but very important purposes that wind farms serve: The DECC said that this wind farm would create 50 new construction jobs and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 50,000 tonnes annually.

For those that don’t already know, the generation capacity of a power plant, especially a wind farm, is the maximum amount of electricity that it is capable of generating, but not necessarily how much it generates on average.
 

 
The amount of electricity a wind farm generates on average is dependent on how high the average wind speeds in the location are, and wind speed consistency is also helpful.

The capacity factor for wind farms has been improving considerably in recent years, and the average is now around 50%. Of course, the cost of wind power is affected by other factors as well, such as the cost of the turbines used and the installation cost. Labour costs can vary quite a bit between countries and even within countries.

Source: BusinessGreen
Photo Credit: shirokazan (some rights reserved)


IKEA Plans for 100% Clean Energy by 2020 (& Much More Goodness)

Posted: 23 Oct 2012 04:50 PM PDT

 
IKEA, the planet’s largest furniture retailer, has announced it will shift to 100% renewable energy by 2020. By that time, it will also grow more trees than it uses under a broad-based plan to safeguard nature that has won strong support from environmentalists.

The Swedish retailer is oriented to addressing many of its customers’ desire for a greener lifestyle. As such, on Tuesday, officials stated the company by 2020 would limit sales to only energy-efficient products, including induction cookers and LED light bulbs.

“This will be a great driver of innovation,” said Mikael Ohlsson, chief executive of the firm, to Reuters in an interview.

IKEA will invest €1.5 billion ($1.95 billion) from 2009-2015 in solar and wind power to produce at least 70 percent of the group’s energy. By 2020, it expects to produce as much renewable energy as it consumes.

The company's commitment to renewable energy is stunning. IKEA presently owns wind farms in six European nations and has already installed 342,000 solar panels on its stores, warehouses, and factories. In total, these generate 27% of the group’s electricity.
 

 
By 2020 IKEA plans to grow at least as many trees as it uses to make products such as beds or cupboards. Already, IKEA says it does not take wood from natural tropical forests, such as in the Amazon or Congo basins.

To this end goal, IKEA would buy 10 million cubic meters of wood by 2017 — half the projected total for that year and four times current amounts — from sources such as those certified by the non-profit Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

This aggressive plan positions IKEA as a leader among companies that have made a long-term commitment to environmental sustainability. Reuters reports that environmentalists, including Greenpeace UK, give solid backing to the plan. IKEA said other environmental experts had praised the strategy, including leading conservation organization WWF and the UK-based Climate Group think-tank.

Importantly, IKEA also set stricter targets for palm oil, leather, and cotton supplies. It will tighten bans on child labor and enforce workers’ rights, partly with unannounced audits of suppliers. The company will also ensure greater supplies of clean water in communities where it operates, cut waste, and promote recycling.

IKEA predicts the number of visitors to its stores will total 1.5 billion by 2020.

Photo Credits: IKEA Beijing Store via testing / Shutterstock.comIKEA Milan Show via Adriano Castelli / Shutterstock.com


Horses and Bayonets and the Navy’s Great Green Fleet

Posted: 23 Oct 2012 07:15 AM PDT

 
When the conversation turned to horses and bayonets in last night’s presidential debate, that sure rang a bell over here at CleanTechnica. The subject arose after candidate Mitt Romney challenged President Obama on the number of ships in the U.S. Navy, and since the Navy’s sustainability initiatives have been a favorite topic of ours, we just had to chip in with the clean technology angle, and green jobs, too.

horses and bayonets and the navy's great green fleet

Horses and Bayonets and Navy Ship Counts

First off, given last night’s twitterstorm over those horses and bayonets, it’s important to note who actually said what.

The President did not say that horses and bayonets are never used any more; he said that we have fewer of them. Regarding the use of horses in military action, that’s pretty clear. And the bayonet can still be vital for dismounted fighters, but its role in modern warfare is not what it was in 1917.

Let’s also note for the record that Mr. Romney did not compare the number of ships we have now to 1916. Mr. Romney used 1917 as his benchmark (more on that later!). The President mistakenly used 1916 in his response but did not challenge Mr. Romney on the basic premise of having fewer ships now than way back then.

How Many Ships Did the Navy Have in 1917?

As our source for the following information, we went to the Navy’s official online history, which provides a series of year-by-year charts detailing “U.S. Navy Active Ship Force Levels” from 1886 to 2011.

Assuming that the Navy’s history pages are not too far off the count from any other Navy sources, yes, the Navy had a total of 342 active ships in 1917, and as of today it had 278.

Included in the 1917 total were 44 submarines (there were 53 in 2011), zero carriers, and no active aircraft, at least not in the fighting force.

As of April 1917, when war was declared with Germany, the Navy and Marines had 54 aircraft at a single land-based air station with 48 flyers, including students, though apparently none of those aircraft were equipped for warfare.

How Many Ships for World War I?

Now, here’s where it gets interesting. Go back a few years before 1917 and you’ll see that the Navy was gradually building its force, but throughout that period it had significantly fewer active ships than it has today.

That pattern held right up to 1916 when the active force totalled 245 ships, still fewer than today’s count.

Given that history, it’s pretty obvious why Mr. Romney chose 1917 as his benchmark. The jump to 345 in just one year was an unprecedented but appropriate activity by the Navy, given that the U.S. was heading into war with a powerful force that had already laid waste across Europe.

After World War I, the Navy’s active force took a nosedive for reasons that are patently obvious. The same pattern, logically enough, occurred before and after World War II.

In other words, 1917 is a cherry-picked year of comparison. It does not account for the technological advances that President Obama pointed out, and it does not account for the state or nature of warfare during the periods of comparison.


 

The Great Green Fleet and Green Jobs

It’s no secret that the size of the Navy’s active ship force has become an issue in this election year, as the presidential candidates vie for votes in Virginia, where Navy ship-building translates into local jobs.

However, as covered numerous times on CleanTechnica (nevermind the links, just google us), the Navy’s ambitious biofuel programs and other energy initiatives have kickstarted the creation of thousands of new green jobs, especially in rural communities where the new biofuel economy is taking root.

The biofuel initiatives culminated in the Navy’s Green Strike Group, which debuted this past summer to participate in the important Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise. The Green Strike Group is comprised of ships and aircraft powered with the help of non-petroleum fuels (it’s anchored by a nuclear carrier, btw).

The strike group is a precursor to the launch of a Great Green Fleet. Like the Great White Fleet that sailed the world at the turn of the 20th century, the Great Green Fleet is meant to usher in a new era of American naval power, showcasing the most cutting-edge technology of its time.

Just a quick note: Perhaps it’s no accident that the President mentioned Battleship during the debate. In its Hollywood incarnation, key scenes for Battleship: The Movie were shot with actual Navy ships during a previous RIMPAC exercise.

Go, Navy!

Image: Great Green Fleet, some rights reserved by Official U.S. Navy Imagery

Follow me on Twitter: @TinaMCasey


Germans Support Nuclear Phase Out Even with (Unfairly) Rising Electric Bills, New Poll Shows

Posted: 23 Oct 2012 07:03 AM PDT

 
The vast majority of Germans are continuing to support their government’s decision to phase out the use of nuclear power and transition to renewable energies within the decade, regardless of increased electricity costs, according to a new poll.

20121023-014856.jpg

The poll for was taken by the German news magazine Focus, and published on Sunday. It found that 72 percent of those polled continue to be behind the country’s nuclear phaseout, only 24 percent were opposed to the policy.

“Germany’s grid operators announced earlier this month that a surcharge on households’ electricity prices financing the expansion of renewable energies will increase by 47 percent starting in January,” Yahoo! notes. “A typical family of four will then have to pay about €250 ($325) per year on top of their bill.”


 
The polling agency Forsa conducted the survey this week, with 1,000 people polled.

Notably, retail electricity prices are going up in Germany while wholesale electricity prices are going down. Abundant solar power has shaved off normally expensive peak power prices to a large degree, and merit order pricing has been driving electricity costs down. However, it seems utilities are simply taking in more profits instead of passing those savings on to residents.

Source: Yahoo!
Image Credits: German Solar via Wikimedia Commons; Thomas/CleanTechnica; Fraunhofer


New Solar Water Disinfection Method Greatly Increases Speed of Ultraviolet Disinfection

Posted: 23 Oct 2012 06:50 AM PDT

 
Ultraviolet light is a very effective, easy way to clean contaminated water, preventing and reducing the occurrence of a wide variety of bacterial and viral diseases in areas without access to clean water. The technique, Solar Water Disinfection, works simply through the action of ultraviolet light.

20121023-011719.jpg

Creating a cheap, easy, way to clean water has long been a goal of researchers, as Christine Lepisto of TreeHugger notes, “approached by a number of innovative scientists with ideas ranging from using common chemicals to clean water to developing technological solutions such as hand-cranked pre-filter and UV treatment bottles that could be distributed widely in problem areas.”

A new approach that uses the “ability of photocatalysts to accelerate the UV-decontamination power of simple sunlight” has been put forward by the young researcher Deepika Kurup.


 
She put two photocatalysts to the test, titanium dioxide (TiO2) and zinc oxide (ZnO). They were coated on rods fitted to the center of two quart plastic water bottles.

These were then used as part of a simple and effective experiment. Three UV-treatment vessels with catalytic rods were created. Two of them contained the two photocatalysts, and a third a combined coating. And a fourth plastic bottle without any photocatalyst served was used as a control. The water from the bottles was then sampled every three hours, while “using an incubator she developed herself to grow colonies in order to test the water contamination levels.”

The results of the experiment showed that the TiO2-ZnO combination rods were able to significantly accelerate the decontamination of the water, resulting in a greatly reduced treatment time.

Since the materials used to create this very-fast solar water treatment method are cheap and ‘relatively available’, it’s potentially a very good fit for the rural areas in ‘developing’ countries. In addition to speed, another advantage is that the photo-catalysts are completely reusable, and should last a long time.

Source: TreeHugger
Image Credit: SODIS via Wikimedia Commons


JinkoSolar Wins Contract to Build 50MW Solar Power Plant for Three Gorges New Energy

Posted: 23 Oct 2012 06:46 AM PDT

 
Leading solar manufacturer JinkoSolar just announced it has won a contract to build a 50 megawatt (MW) project for Three Gorges New Energy Corporation in the Gansu Province in China.

Solar Panels Against Sunny Skies Via Shutterstock

One of the largest state-owned power companies in China, Three Gorges New Energy has an impressive amount of assets, totalling 300 renminbi's according to the statement. The company has invested heavily in various renewable energy projects, such as hydro, wind, and solar. Recently, the company has been rapidly investing in solar plants across China.

So, it's no surprise, given this track record, that Three Gorges New Energy is teaming up with JinkoSolar in this latest venture.
 

 
“Our goal is to drive China’s future in renewable energy, and in particular solar power which has proven to be one of the most feasible and eco-friendly solutions,” said Project Deputy General Manager of Three Gorges New Energy Zhengfeng Yang.

“We feel excited to work with JinkoSolar to make electricity from solar power more competitive and economical,” he said.

JinkoSolar officials were also supportive of the new deal:

“We are very pleased to be working with Three Gorges New Energy to deliver cost-competitive solar power on 50-MW scale,” said Mr. Xiande Li, Chairman of JinkoSolar. “By combining our high-efficiency solar technology and CTGNE’s experience in financing and management of clean energy projects, we are confident that this project will maximize the solar energy generated over the span of system’s life. The increased amount of electricity being generated from renewable energy sources, from solar in particularly, will gradually change the Chinese energy portfolio.

“This strategic partnership with Three Gorges New Energy will further strengthen the Company’s position in China’s renewable market. We look forward to future cooperation between our two companies including joint exploration of hybrid solar-wind solution projects with them,” added Mr. Xiande Li.

Source: JinkoSolar


Environmental Defense Fund Releases New Video on Clean Energy Benefits

Posted: 23 Oct 2012 06:40 AM PDT

 
OK, so, we know that the fossil fuel industry has pumped ample money into a US presidential campaign to oppose clean energy, because this time there’s a legitimate threat to the industry.

In response, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), has just put out a new video which offers many useful talking points on why we need a strong renewable energy policy, including: job creation, battling climate change, and boosting the US economy. Here’s the video:

Clean energy support makes sense, especially considering the fact that the fossil fuel industry get 75 times more in subsidies compared to it's clean energy counterparts, the EDF noted.

“Despite the fact that clean energy has become the ‘modern-day whipping boy,’ it is indeed alive and thriving. The clean energy sector now creates more jobs than the fossil fuel industry and, just last year, grew nearly twice as fast as the overall economy,” said vice president of EDF's Energy Program Jim Marston.

Be sure to watch the video to find out what the EDF has to say on clean energy.

For more, you can also go to the EDF’s Energy innovation Series.

Source: Environmental Defense Fund


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