Friday, October 26, 2012

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Link to CleanTechnica

BrightSource Energy Has Raised More than $80 Million of Extra Equity Financing

Posted: 25 Oct 2012 01:45 PM PDT

One of the global leaders in concentrating solar thermal technology, BrightSource Energy, has now raised another $80 million dollars in additional equity financing. Its total equity financing now totals more than $615 million, opening up many possibilities for the company to significantly expand and grow.


"BrightSource's unique technology combines the scale, robustness and stability of conventional power plants with the attractive low-carbon profile of using a solar feedstock,” noted Stephan Dolezalek, Managing Director at VantagePoint. ”In addition, the Company’s model of working closely with global partners including Alstom, Bechtel, NRG, Google and Chevron is how we see the technology of energy evolving."

The main investors during this latest round of capital-raising were: Alstom, VantagePoint Capital Partners, DFJ, CalSTRS, DBL Investors, Goldman Sachs, Chevron Technology Ventures, and BP Ventures.

BrightSource and Alstom have also expanded their geographic partnerships to develop solar thermal power plants in Australia and India. The companies also announced, back in 2010, plans to develop power plants in Africa and the Mediterranean. This is all in addition to their collaboration on the development of thermal storage and hybridization with fossil fuels.

BrightSource notes: “According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), solar energy, including both Concentrated Solar Thermal Power and Photovoltaics could account for 25% of global electricity by 2050 and cover a third of global energy demand after 2060. Concentrating solar thermal power alone could supply 11.3% of the world's electricity by 2050.”

Currently, BrightSource Energy is operating a 6MW thermal demonstration facility in the Negev Desert in Israel, and also a 29MW thermal facility for in Coalinga, California.

It is also in the process of constructing the 377MW Ivanpah solar project, as part of its partnership with Google and NRG Energy. That project is currently more than 60% complete. When completed, it will be capable of providing renewable, reliable electricity to more than 140,000 California homes. The company is also in the process of receiving permits for a 500MW project in Rio Mesa, and a 500MW project in Hidden Hills.

Source: BrightSource Energy

Fisker Electric Vehicles Being Launched in Middle East with Help from Al-Futtaim’s Trading Enterprises

Posted: 25 Oct 2012 01:35 PM PDT

The multiple-award-winning electric car, the Fisker Karma sedan, made its official debut in the Middle East last Friday. The environmentally friendly luxury car was unveiled by the senior management of Al-Futtaim and Fisker Automotives at the Al Badia Golf Club in Dubai Festival City.


Billed as “the world's first high performance electric luxury vehicle,” Al-Futtaim’s Trading Enterprises business group will be an exclusive partner of Fisker in the GCC and MENA regions.

It will be the exclusive distributer of Fisker automobiles throughout the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Egypt and the Levant. The first Fisker showroom in the region will be opening in Dubai Festival City's automotive park by the end of this year.

The Fisker Karma is expected to retail in the UAE for around AED500,000-AED600,000.

"Fisker offers an environmental alternative to traditional luxury vehicles and we are well placed and proud to partner with Fisker and support their vision of delivering uncompromised, responsible luxury to this part of the world,” Colin Cordery, Managing Director, Trading Enterprises said.

“Al-Futtaim has built strength and credibility in delivering great customer experience and this latest partnership with Fisker automobiles further reiterates our position as the region's number one dealer of the finest automotive brands."

Henrik Fisker, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman at Fisker Automotive, said: "Today is a proud moment for the Fisker brand as it is the start of our journey in the Middle East. We could not have found a better business house than Al-Futtaim Group to partner us. Al-Futtaim is one of the strongest players in the automotive segment with proven capabilities in customer engagement, high standards of after-sales service, network of showrooms and parts distribution centers. We are honored to have a partner with such strong legacy."

Source: Fisker

UK Makes Biggest Cuts to Greenhouse Emissions amongst EU Countries in 2011

Posted: 25 Oct 2012 01:11 PM PDT

Last year, the UK reduced its greenhouse emissions more than any other European country. The UK, exceeding its Kyoto goal, was especially helped along by increased renewable energy generation. Partial credit can also be attributed to mild weather and a sluggish economy.

UK greenhouse emissions

A couple of other honorable mentions go to France and Germany, which also made significant cuts to their emissions.

According to the report released by the European Environment Agency, only two European countries are in danger of missing their targets. Spain and Italy are the two that are lagging behind, and that can most likely can be accredited to their failing economies.

The UK’s Guardian writes:

The EU as a whole will meet its target under the 1997 treaty, which requires developed countries to cut their emissions by a total of just over 5% from 1990 levels by the end of 2012. Currently, EU member states are the only major countries pledging to continue the Kyoto protocol beyond the end of this year, when its current provisions expire.

Connie Hedegaard, EU commissioner for climate action, said the EEA’s research showed that it was possible to cut emissions while boosting economic growth. “The EU is delivering on its Kyoto commitment,” she said. “While our economy grew 48% since 1990, emissions are down 18%. These figures prove once again that emissions can be cut without sacrificing the economy. Now, it is important to keep the direction.”

At the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009, the EU pledged to cut its emissions by 20%, a goal that is supposed to be achieved by 2020. For the most part, the EU looks set to easily nail that.

Unless Italy and Spain pick up the pace, however, they may fall into a “burden-sharing” agreement, which made every member mutually responsible for emissions reductions.

If they fail to meet the targeted reductions, then they could be forced to buy carbon credits under the United Nations’ emissions trading system. With both countries facing financial hardships, this could cost the distressed countries tens of millions of euros.

“The European Union as a whole will over-deliver on its Kyoto target,” said Jacqueline McGlade, executive director of the EEA. “In two months’ time we will be at the end of the first commitment period under the Kyoto protocol. Considerable progress has been made since 1997 but all member states need to deliver on their plans.”

A spokesman for the Department for Energy and Climate Change said: “We welcome today’s report from the EEA and that the UK has delivered the largest emissions cuts in real terms in 2011. However, we are not complacent and there is a huge amount of work to be done, both domestically to drive up energy efficiency and decarbonise our heating, power and transport, and working with our international partners to renew the Kyoto protocol agreement during the upcoming talks in Doha, and our European partners to increase ambition at the EU level.”

It looks like the EU doesn’t have much to worry about with regards to its agreed upon 2020 emissions targets.

Source: Guardian
Image Credit: Vic Sharp (some rights reserved)

One Millionth PV Module Installed at Californian Solar Project

Posted: 25 Oct 2012 12:56 PM PDT

Earlier this month, MidAmerican Solar and First Solar installed the one-millionth solar module at the Topaz Solar Farms located in  San Luis Obispo County, California, the largest solar project currently under construction anywhere in the world. When completed, the 550-megawatt project will contain nearly 9 million PV modules.

One Millionth PV Module Installed at Californian Solar Project

“The installation of the one millionth module is a major accomplishment for everyone involved with the project,” said Paul Caudill, president of MidAmerican Solar. “Construction on Topaz Solar Farms began less than one year ago. Since then, we have worked as a team to ensure that as our top priority, we meet our commitments to the residents of San Luis Obispo County. We remain committed to safely constructing an environmentally friendly facility that will deliver reliable renewable energy to our customer, Pacific Gas and Electric Company.”

Upon completion, the Topaz Solar Farms project will provide local energy company PG&E with enough renewable energy to power approximately 160,000 Californian homes, displace approximately 377,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, and help the state of California towards meetings its goal of generating 33 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2020.

“We congratulate MidAmerican Solar and First Solar for reaching this milestone at Topaz Solar Farms,” said Fong Wan, senior vice president, energy procurement, PG&E. “PG&E provides to its customers some of the cleanest electricity in the nation, more than half of which comes from sources that are renewable or carbon free. Photovoltaic solar will be an important part of our energy mix as we work toward California’s 33 percent renewable portfolio standard. The work of our energy partners at Topaz Solar Farms also is helping us progress toward a clean energy future for all Californians.”

NRG Bluewater Earns 1st “Smart from the Start” Outer Continental Shelf Offshore Wind Lease

Posted: 25 Oct 2012 07:36 AM PDT

The Dept. of Interior and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) have awarded a lease to NRG Bluewater Wind Delaware LLC, the first completed under Interior’s "Smart from the Start" initiative, which aims to streamline and facilitate development of environmentally responsible offshore wind development along the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).

The federal OCS lease grants the corporation exclusive right to submit one or more plans to BOEM to conduct activities in support of offshore wind energy development spanning 96,430 acres some 11 nautical miles off the coast of Delaware, the Interior Dept. explains in a press release.



NRG Bluewater’s Offshore Wind Power Plans

In its original project proposal, NRG Bluewater lays out its plan to construct a 450-megawatt (MW) offshore wind farm in the leased area, a project that if constructed would have an estimated capacity sufficient to supply more than 100,000 homes with clean, renewable electrical power. With the federal "Smart from the Start" lease in hand, the company can now move forward and undertake additional research and development work in the water.

More specifically, the OCS lease paves the way for NRG Bluewater to submit a Site Assessment Plan (SAP), which may include installation of a meteorological tower or buoy. The lease also enables the corporation to submit a Construction and Operations Plan (COP) for the actual building and installation of offshore wind turbines, site-to-shore cabling, and other infrastructure.

Located in federal waters, the lease area is made up of 11 full OCS blocks and 16 partial ones. The location has been chosen to "avoid existing uses of the OCS offshore Delaware," Interior and BOEM explain, "including but not limited to major shipping lanes into and out of Delaware Bay, a proposed vessel anchorage ground and a munitions disposal area."

Tremendous Benefits Forecast for Offshore Wind Development

An industry-sponsored study conducted for the Atlantic Wind Connection estimates that development of 7,000 MW (7 GW) of offshore wind farms in the Mid-Atlantic region from Virginia to New Jersey could create 70,000 jobs and enough clean, green power for as many as 2.3 million homes. Moreover, such development could have a combined economic impact of $19 billion across these states, as well as generating another $4.6 billion in local, state, and federal tax revenue.

A 1,000-megawatt (MW) offshore wind farm built off South Carolina's coast would create an average of more than 3,900 jobs per year during its 10-year construction period and produce over $2 billion in wages from 2016 to 2030, according to "S.C. Wind Energy Supply Chain Survey and Offshore Wind Economic Impact Study," research carried out for the S.C. Energy Office. In addition, it would add some $620 million to state and local government revenue per year over its 10-year construction period.

Yingli Green Energy to Power Largest Solar Plant in Singapore

Posted: 25 Oct 2012 07:32 AM PDT

Yingli Green Energy announced Wednesday that it will be supplying 1 megawatt of multicrystalline photovoltaic modules to the Ulu Pandan NEWater Plant as it constructs what will be, upon completion, the largest solar PV installation at one single location in Singapore.

Yingli Green Energy will be providing the modules to SolarGy, a professional PV system integrator based in Singapore, who will be responsible for engineering, procurement, and construction of the project. The project is owned by K-Green Trust and will be managed by Keppel Seghers NEWater Development.

“Since its opening in 2011, our regional headquarters in Singapore has continuously driven our sales and business development in Southeast Asia,” commented Mr. Liansheng Miao, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Yingli Green Energy.”It is a pleasure for us to work with SolarGy and KSND to power the largest solar project in Singapore. We’ll continue to build our success in this region and look forward to serving more customers with our high quality products.”

Mr Albert Lim, Managing Director of SolarGy Pte Ltd, Singapore, said: “This is by far the single largest PV project in Singapore. We are confident that SolarGy will be able to deliver a high standard using Yingli modules.  We are excited about this green project which will have significant contribution in the reduction of carbon footprint and are now proceeding in earnest with the EPC contract.”

The project will be home to approximately 4,000 modules covering an area around 10,000 square metres and will generate an estimated 1,200,000 kWh of clean energy a year, equivalent to the average electricity consumption of 250 four-room residential apartments in Singapore.

Source: Yingli Solar

Grid Energy Storage Annual Market Value to Exceed $30 Billion by 2022, Report Finds

Posted: 25 Oct 2012 07:29 AM PDT

Energy Storage on the Grid (ESG) is anticipated to surpass $30 billion in annual value, according to a new report from Pike Research.

Pike Research said advances in storage technology (including pump storage, advanced batteries, and compressed air) is providing more competitive storage options for the market.

Collage with solar batteries via Shutterstock

Meanwhile, quickly changing energy mixes and electric grid volatility will encourage energy operators to look at grid energy storage in order to give more secure electricity.

"One of the key challenges for energy storage will be to deliver cost-effective solutions for these grid stability issues," said Pike Research  analyst Anissa Dehamna.

"Market structures still must catch up with the market to acknowledge the value of energy storage to grid operators and power consumers. At the same time, the industry must solve issues around business models and the supply chain in order to successfully scale up and fully commercialize these emerging technologies," Dehamna added.

Source: Pike Research

Bacteria-Made Wires Create Electrical Currents in the Seabed, Possible Applications in Electronics

Posted: 25 Oct 2012 07:20 AM PDT

Three years ago researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark discovered something completely unpredicted, measurable electrical currents running through a completely undisturbed seabed. At the time of discovery, it wasn’t completely clear what was conducting the current, but the theory was that electric currents could possibly be traveling through different bacteria “via a joint external wiring network.”


The mystery has now been uncovered, though — the entire process is occurring inside of bacteria that are only one centimetre long. These create a sort of living electric cable. This discovery opens up all sorts of potential applications in different fields of electronics and energy technologies.

Every one of the ‘cable bacteria’ possess a ‘bundle of insulated wires’ that is conductible, allowing an electrical current to travel from one end to another.

Aarhus University writes: “Electricity and seawater are usually a bad mix. And it was thus a very big surprise when scientists from Aarhus University a few years ago discovered electric currents between biological processes in the seabed. Since then they have been searching for an explanation and together with partners from the University of Southern California, USA, they now present sensational results in Nature.”

“Our experiments showed that the electric connections in the seabed must be solid structures built by bacteria,” says PhD student Christian Pfeffer of Aarhus University.

The electrical currents could be interrupted simply by moving a thin wire horizontally across the seafloor. In the same way that our electric cables can be interrupted by damage.

Using microscopes the researchers discovered an until now unknown type of bacteria. A long, multi-cellular that was present every time when researchers measured the electric currents.

“The incredible idea that these bacteria should be electric cables really fell into place when, inside the bacteria, we saw wire-like strings enclosed by a membrane,” says Nils Risgaard-Petersen, Aarhus University.

The new bacterium is about 100 times thinner than a human hair. The whole bacterium is essentially an electrical cable, possessing a quantity of insulated wires inside of itself — nearly in the same way that the common electric cables we use everyday are built.

“Such unique insulated biological wires seem simple but with incredible complexity at nanoscale,” says PhD student Jie Song, Aarhus University, who mapped the electrical properties of the cable bacteria using nano tools.

“In an undisturbed seabed more than tens of thousands kilometers cable bacteria live under a single square meter seabed. The ability to conduct an electric current gives cable bacteria such large benefits that it conquers much of the energy from decomposition processes in the seabed.”

In contrast to every other known form of life, these cable bacteria are able to “maintain an efficient combustion down in the oxygen-free part of the seabed. It only requires that one end of the individual reaches the oxygen which the seawater provides to the top millimeters of the seabed. The combustion is a transfer of the electrons of the food to oxygen which the bacterial inner wires manage over centimeter-long distances. However, small disturbances can lead to fatal ‘cable breakage’ in the fragile bacteria.”

Already, a number of international entities have shown interest in the research of the bacterium. Not only could the bacterium alter our understanding of bioelectronics, and revolutionize that field; but the bacteria really stand out in their uniqueness — there is much that is unknown about the role they or similar bacteria may have played in the development of life on Earth.

As of now, any potential applications are theoretical, but it would seem unlikely that these bacteria wouldn’t be used in some capacity in the development of new technologies.

Source: Aarhus University
Image Credits: Mingdong Dong, Jie Song and Nils Risgaard-Petersen;

Smart Highway that Charges Your Car (+ Much More)

Posted: 25 Oct 2012 07:10 AM PDT

Smart highway will charge your car

There are a lot of cool smart highway designs going around, but Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde and Heijmans Infrastructure just made me want to jump in the electric car and hit the road.

smart highway

This smart highway design not only charges your car, but it will light the road, show you the weather and make you feel like you are driving in the future. The roads are treated with a special foto-luminising powder to create a glow in the dark pathways, so extra lighting is not needed. The powder is charged during the day and at night it illuminates the contours of the road for up to 10 hours.

smart highway

To get a weather report to the driver, a dynamic paint is used to create a road surface that responds to temperature fluctuations. The dynamic paint, for example, in cold weather may produce ice crystals on the road to alert the driver of slick road conditions.

Smart Highway

Pretty wicked, eh?

Source: TreeHugger
Image Credit: Studio Roosegaarde

Americans Used Less Energy in 2011, & More Renewable Energy

Posted: 25 Oct 2012 07:06 AM PDT

A new study released by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) shows that renewable energy use in the U.S was up for 2011, while overall energy use was down. The decrease in energy use was partly due to more higher-efficiency energy technologies in the transportation and residential sectors.

Americans using less electricity

Coal use declined across the United States, while the energy flow chart above shows a shift toward natural gas use.

Wind energy saw the biggest jump in renewable energy from .92 quadrillion BTU’s in 2010 to 1.17 quads in 2011.

According to the LLNL website:

“Wind energy jumped significantly because, as in previous years, many new wind farms came online,” said A.J. Simon, an LLNL energy systems analyst who develops the flow charts using data provided by the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration. “This is the result of sustained investment in wind power.”

Another top performer in renewable energy was hydroelectricity, which went from 2.51 quads in 2010 up to 3.17 quads in 2011. Although the researchers note that this is largely because, in 2011, the U.S saw large amounts of precipitation and that allowed the dams to run at full capacity.

Natural gas showed a significant increase from 24.65 quads in 2010 to 26.9 quads in 2011. Which slowed the demand for coal from 2010 to 2011.

“Sustained low natural gas prices have prompted a shift from coal to gas in the electricity generating sector,” Simon said. “Sustained high oil prices have likely driven the decline in oil use over the past 5 years as people choose to drive less and purchase automobiles that get more miles per gallon.”

“With the advent of shale gas, it appears that natural gas prices in the United States may remain lower than their historical averages for many years into the future,” Simon said. “This has prompted many gas users in the industrial and electricity generating sector to switch from coal or oil to natural gas when it is technically possible, but might not have been economical at higher gas prices.”

Overall electricity generation accounted for 39.2 quads, followed by transportation, industrial, commercial, and residential consumption. The biggest declines where felt in the residential, commercial, and transportation sectors, where more energy efficiency and renewable energy was incorporated into the mix.

Source & Image Credit: LLNL

Superior Kid-Carrying Machine Hits Japan, and It’s an E-Bike!

Posted: 25 Oct 2012 06:59 AM PDT


Bridgestone bikes

With new electric pedal-assist, the Angelino Petite Assista (E-Bike) designed by Bridgestone Japan may just very well be the perfect bike for the mom that is always on the go.

The machine is built with a step-through rugged frame and some reinforced kid seats. As a matter of fact, this is a good bike for any cyclist that enjoys taking the little ones for a ride.

According to Bridgestone, the company has sold over 300,000 of these Assistas in the home market of Japan.

As reported by Treehugger:

Truly, if nothing else Assista offers a throne-like ride for the younger occupants of the bike. The child seats include head guards, which help both if a child falls asleep in the chair or in the event that the bike tips over. The seats also include comfy footrests, and in the case of the back seat, a handlebar for resting the hands.

The Assista’s small wheel base makes it easy to handle when fully loaded. Range on a single charge is estimated at up to 32 – 37 kilometers.

Last but not least, the bike’s solid back kickstand allows the rider to easily park the bike in order to safely unload the tots.

We may have to wait awhile before being able purchase one in the United States, as they are only sold in Japan. But it might be worth the wait.

Image Credit: Bridgestone

World’s First “Living Building” Uses Algae to Provide Energy and Shade

Posted: 25 Oct 2012 04:00 AM PDT

The world’s first ever “living building” has started construction in Germany. Known as the BIQ building, it uses moveable panels of micro-algae to generate heat, shade, and energy.

These panels are designed to be retrofitted onto the outside of existing buildings so that when sunlight hits them the micro-algae naturally photosynthesises and starts to grow.

This means the building becomes a dynamic, living instrument whose “bio-adaptive fa├žade” responds to increased sunlight by creating shade and generating power for immediate use or storage.

The solution works in three specific ways:

Firstly, it traps heat from the sun. This stops it from entering the building in the first place and the heat is then reused to help to power the building.

Secondly, the growing micro-algae block out part of the sunlight entering the building — reducing glare, and creating a more pleasant environment. These first two will also have an impact on auxiliary systems such as air conditioners and purifiers.

Thirdly, the micro-algae is harvested as biomass and used to generate power for the building, turning a shading solution into a uniquely clean source of renewable energy.

The construction is based upon the winning entry in last year’s prestigious Metropolis magazine's Next Generation Design Competition. This estimated that the panels would generate nearly 10% of a building’s energy requirements when fitted to an old federal building in Los Angeles.

The prototype will be ready for demonstration at the 2013 International Building Exhibition (IBA) in Hamburg, Germany.

By that time, hopefully fuller figures will be available, including greater depth into the 10% energy production figure, an insight into how it can effect auxiliary systems and the balance of both against energy required to manufacture the panels.

That aside, though, the only other drawback I can think of is that we all get used to living and working in a subtle shade of green light. Not much to ask in a green economy, is it?

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