Saturday, October 27, 2012

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Link to CleanTechnica

How Buying the Right TV Will Save $1.34 Billion in Annual Energy Costs

Posted: 26 Oct 2012 01:07 PM PDT

 
By Alex Katzman

In this day and age of technological innovation, you would think that televisions of the same size and type would have a similar power consumption. All TVs are definitely not made equal, though. In fact, it is quite the opposite.  LED TVs are usually at least 20 to 25% more efficient than LCDs or Plasmas. Taking 37 inch TVs (average size sold in 2012) as an example, there is a surprising 400% difference in energy usage between the most and least efficient models. And when you consider that approximately 40 million new TVs will be purchased in 2012, there is potential to save 11.2 billion kWh of electricity and $1.34 billion dollars in annual electricity costs by choosing the most efficient model.

Since it’s difficult to grasp what 11.2 billion kWh actually means, let’s convert that into people. Using the EIA’s average consumption benchmark, this translates into 996,454 households worth of energy that could be saved by choosing the more energy efficient 37 inch TVs. When you think about it, this would be the same as taking the cities of Boston and San Francisco off the grid. And in terms of reducing CO2 emissions, it would be comparable to removing 1.5 million passenger cars from the road.

This scale and the impact of simple purchase decisions led us to create the Enervee Score, which we like to think of as the MPG (miles per gallon) rating for electronics and appliances. It is a 0 to 100 (best) rating that ranks the energy efficiency of a television by comparing its energy consumption and screen area. And the best part is that, by choosing TVs with a higher Enervee Score, you can save money and save the planet at the same time without making sacrifices on the latest product features.
 

 
To help you figure out whether it is the right time to upgrade your TV, we have released a “Score my TV” app (enervee.com/mytv) that scores the energy efficiency of TVs dating all the way back to the 1990s. By answering three basic questions on the type, size, and age of a TV, it is scored and compared versus the average score of all TVs on the market.  It’s not only a fun game to see who can be the most energy efficient, but it actually is very beneficial to our wallets and the environment.

For now, we have only released the Enervee Score for TVs, but we plan to have over 20 product categories scored by the end of the year. Imagine if the example above also included the potential savings for all of the appliances and electronics in the home — the impact to US consumers would be tens or even hundreds of billions of dollars.

About the author: Alex Katzman is head of business development at Enervee and has a decade of experience with strategic partnerships and enterprise software implementation in the smart grid and mobile/web sectors. He is well versed in global business, having spent four years of his career working abroad in the UK, Argentina, and South Korea. Alex holds an MBA from the University of Virginia and a Bachelor’s degree in Information Science from the University of Pittsburgh. When he’s not talking to potential partners about Enervee, Alex enjoys cooking Italian cuisine, glassblowing, and rock climbing.


Solar PV Calculator Has All the Numbers

Posted: 26 Oct 2012 12:30 PM PDT

 
The guys over at Solar Panels UK just launched a great tool — it’s a solar PV calculator designed to tell you approximately how much you can save – or even make(!) — by turning your roof blue and going green.

Solar PV Calculator

Solar panels are increasingly popular — conversion rates are going up, they’re super clean and green, sunlight is there every day and just asking to be used, and they’re even a pretty shade of blue. But there’s always that one guy who keeps talking about how it’s such a scam and it costs so much to install the system that it’s not worth it, and how much power could solar panels really produce anyway.

My Solar Panels Do This Much — According to the Solar PV Calculator

The Solar PV Calculator from Solar Panels UK might or might not have been designed with this guy in mind, but it’s a pretty handy little tool. It takes into account a number of factors — the installation quote, roof pitch, feed-in tariff rate (because the UK has one of those), and whether or not any energy will be exported to the grid.
 

 
Using the calculator is pretty straightforward if you have a UK address (I don’t, so I googled for a random UK postal code and started fiddling) — all of the instructions are right there on the page. Playing around with the calculator gives me the impression that a 30° roof slope facing due south is the most efficient arrangement, but the difference between the most and least efficient setups I could find (assuming the size of the installation and percent of energy exported to the grid remained constant) was no more than 11%.

The one thing I’d like to see it do that I couldn’t find was maybe a little graph of how much energy the solar panels generate, but that’s mostly because I like graphs. If I had a roof on which to install solar panels (I rent, so this is not an option for me), this fun little tool would definitely be super helpful in convincing me to install solar panels. Can we have something like this for the US now?

Head over the the solar panels uk website to try the tools out: http://www.solarpanelsuk.co.uk/solar-pv-calculator.php

Source: Solar Panels UK
Image Source: Solar Panels UK


All-Electric Fiat 500E to be Unveiled at LA Auto Show

Posted: 26 Oct 2012 12:22 PM PDT

 
Fiat 500 E

For all those Fiat lovers out there that have been waiting to catch a glimpse of the mysterious all-electric version of the Fiat 500, you may soon get your chance. The Fiat 500E will make its official debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show next month. The Los Angeles Auto Show has listed the Fiat 500E as one of the models that will be revealed in the upcoming auto show.


 
Although any details about the car still remain sketchy, Green Car Reports estimates that the car will be available only in limited numbers and that it will have an electric motor delivering about 100 horsepower.

Fiat has been keeping this model pretty much under their hat, so I guess we will have to wait until after the auto show to find out all the details about this stylish all-electric vehicle.

Source: AutoblogGreen
Image Credit: Fiat 500 via Stefan Ataman / Shutterstock.com


Difference Between Obama & Romney on Energy, Climate Change, Clean Air, Energy Efficiency, & Public Lands

Posted: 26 Oct 2012 07:00 AM PDT

 

Here’s the bulk of a long email I received from the NRDC this week. Very apt, very on point, very useful, and… very objective (it’s centered around exactly what Obama & Romney have said and what’s in their policy proposals). Here you go:

Mitt Romney has promised to roll back basic air and water protections and stop the Environmental Protection Agency from limiting mercury and other toxic power plant emissions. He wants to eliminate federal oversight of oil and gas drilling on federal lands. He opposes new standards that will double our auto mileage and cut our gasoline bills dramatically while simultaneously helping our environment and air quality. He would end support of the dramatic growth we’re making in clean, renewable, made-in-America energy, and instead do whatever possible to expand our dependence on oil, coal and other dirty fuels.  Romney has moved his rhetoric toward the center in the debates – a tacit acknowledgment of where the American public is – but he hasn't shifted his campaign's anti-environmental positions at all.

President Obama has pledged to continue clean air and water improvements and address climate change instead of ignoring it. He has made it clear he will keep building on the growth in the clean energy industry, creating jobs, clearing our air and decreasing our dependence on foreign oil along the way. He wants to eliminate billions of dollars in oil and gas subsidies, and keep our public lands in the hands of those who are supposed to control them — the American public.

Americans support clean energy and the environment. A recent University of Texas poll, for instance, found that 58 percent of Americans are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports expanding investments in renewable energy than those who don't. Furthermore, poll after poll shows voters prefer President Obama's plan to move America toward a more sustainable future. An October poll from USA Today/Gallup gave Obama a 13-point advantage of Romney on energy issues. Even Gov. Romney seems to recognize this, as he has tried to portray himself as an advocate of clean energy despite the content of his platform.

Don’t take our word on all of this. Remember what the candidates themselves said on these issues:

ON ENERGY

President Obama wants to end $4 billion in annual tax breaks for oil and gas companies; expand production of clean, renewable energy and set standards to get 80 percent of the nation's electricity from clean energy by 2035.

Mitt Romney wants to end bipartisan renewable energy programs like the Production Tax Credit for wind energy; make it easier for oil and coal companies to get permits and turn much of the oversight for energy exploration to state regulators.

PRESIDENT OBAMA
"We've got to control our own energy … not only oil and natural gas, which we've been investing in, but also we've got to make sure we're building the energy sources of the future, not just thinking about next year, but 10 years from now, 20 years from now. That's why we've invested in solar and wind and biofuels, energy-efficient cars." (Second presidential debate, Oct. 16, 2012)

"I believe we can create more jobs by controlling more of our own energy. After 30 years of inaction, we raised fuel standards so that by the middle of the next decade, your cars and trucks will go twice as far on a gallon of gas. And today, the United States of America is less dependent on foreign oil than at any time in two decades.  (Speech in Miami, Oct. 11, 2012).

MITT ROMNEY

"I will fight for oil, coal and natural gas." (Second presidential debate, Oct. 16, 2012).

"In place of real energy, Obama has focused on an imaginary world where government-subsidized windmills and solar panels could power the economy." (OpEd in Columbus Dispatch, March 5, 2012).

  

ON CLIMATE CHANGE

Mitt Romney has flip-flopped on whether he believes the overwhelming scientific evidence that shows humans are contributing to global warming. He has indicated he doesn't think climate change is something that can – or needs to be – addressed.

President Obama agrees with science, and knows that climate change is contributing to natural disasters today and hurting our children's future tomorrow. He wants to continue reducing carbon emissions from cars and power plants and shift toward clean, renewable energy.

PRESIDENT OBAMA
"My plan will continue to reduce the carbon pollution that is heating our planet, because climate change is not a hoax. More droughts and floods and wildfires are not a joke. They are a threat to our children’s future." (Convention speech, Sept. 6, 2012).

“Climate change is the one of the biggest issues of this generation, and we have to meet this challenge by driving smart policies that lead to greater growth in clean energy generation and result in a range of economic and social benefits." (Response to National Academy of Sciences Questionnaire Science Debate 2012, Sept. 4, 2012)

MITT ROMNEY
"I’m not in this race to slow the rise of the oceans or to heal the planet." (Remarks on Meet the Press, Sept. 7, 2012) 

"My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet." (Speech at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh PA, Oct. 27, 2011).

 

ON CLEAN AIR

President Obama supports standards to reduce toxic emissions from power plants and big polluters.

Mitt Romney has said he would block the EPA from limiting carbon dioxide, and opposes EPA limits on emissions of mercury and other toxic power plant emissions. He also has said he wants to change the Clean Air Act, eliminating the health-based science considerations on which the law is based.

PRESIDENT OBAMA
"We shouldn't be in a race to the bottom, where we try to offer the cheapest labor and the worst pollution standards.  America should be in a race to the top.  And I believe we can win that race." (Speech to Congress, Sept. 8, 2011).

"While we must acknowledge the need for differentiated responses, any effort to curb carbon emissions must include the fast-growing carbon emitters who can do more to reduce their air pollution without inhibiting growth." (Speech to United Nations, May 25, 2011).

MITT ROMNEY
"Now I know there is also a movement to say that carbon dioxide should be guided or should be managed by the Environmental Protection Agency. I disagree with that. I exhale carbon dioxide. I don’t want those guys following me around with a meter to see if I’m breathing too hard." (Speech in Manchester, N.H., Nov. 18, 2011).

"We have made a mistake is what I believe, in saying that the EPA should regulate carbon emissions. I don’t think that was the intent of the original legislation, and I don’t think carbon is a pollutant in the sense of harming our bodies." (Remarks at a Derry, NH town hall meeting, July 14, 2011)

 

ON AUTO MILEAGE STANDARDS

President Obama and his administration orchestrated landmark new vehicle mileage standards that will double the average vehicle mileage to 54.5 by 2015, save consumers $1.7 trillion on gas, reduce oil imports by one-third and cut carbon pollution by the emissions equivalent of 85 million cars in one year.  The standards are backed by the auto industry.

Mitt Romney opposes new mileage standards.

PRESIDENT OBAMA
"Thanks to a remarkable partnership between automakers, autoworkers, environmental advocates, and states, we also set in motion a new national policy to increase gas mileage and decrease carbon pollution for all new cars and trucks sold in this country, which is going to save us 1.8 billion barrels of oil.” (Remarks after meeting with energy industry CEOs, July 2, 2009)

“After decades of inaction, we raised fuel-economy standards, so that by the middle of the next decade, our cars will average nearly 55 miles per gallon, almost double what we get today.  That means you’ll be able to fill up your car every two weeks instead of every week … that will save the average family about $8,000 at the pump over the life of a car, which is real money." (Speech at Ohio State University, March 22, 2012). 

MITT ROMNEY
"Governor Romney opposes the extreme standards that President Obama has imposed, which will limit the choices available to American families,” said Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul in a statement to NBC News. (Romney campaign press statement, Aug. 28, 2012).

"Look, the reason these companies got in trouble was because the unions asked for too much; the management gave in too often and made some enormous mistakes of their own; the government put in place CAFE requirements that were disadvantageous for domestic manufacturers," (Romney statement to press, Feb. 232012).

 

ON PUBLIC LANDS
President Obama has taken steps to ensure responsible oil and gas production on federal lands, and also has signed legislation that will protect national parks and other federal lands.

Mitt Romney wants to turn oversight for oil and gas production over to state regulators – even if it's on federal lands. State regulators don't have the funding or the personnel to oversee drilling on public lands, and regulations would vary from state to state.

PRESIDENT OBAMA
"Our lands have always provided great bounty — food and shelter for the first Americans, for settlers and pioneers; the raw materials that grew our industry; the energy that powers our economy. What these gifts require in return is our wise and responsible stewardship."  (Remarks at the signing of the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act, March 30, 2009)

"You had a whole bunch of oil companies who had leases on public lands that they weren't using.  So what we said was, you can't just sit on this for 10, 20, 30 years, decide when you want to drill, when you want to produce, when it's most profitable for you.  These are public lands, so if you want to drill on public lands, you use it or you lose it.  And so what we did was take away those leases, and we are now re-letting them so that we can actually make a profit." (Second presidential debate, Oct. 17, 2012)

MITT ROMNEY
"We're going to have state regulators – not just regulate oil production, gas production on state lands and private lands but also on federal lands." (Speech in Hobbs, N.M., Aug. 23, 2012).

"So I haven't studied it, what the purpose is of the land, so I don't want to say, 'Oh, I'm about to hand it over.' But where government ownership of land is designed to satisfy, let's say, the most extreme environmentalists, from keeping a population from developing their coal, their gold, their other resources for the benefit of the state, I would find that to be unacceptable." (Romney in editorial board interview with Reno Gazette-Journal, Feb. 2, 2012).


Natcore-NREL Partnership Holds Promise of Low-Cost, High-Efficiency “Absolute Black” Solar Cells

Posted: 26 Oct 2012 05:57 AM PDT

 
New records are being set and surpassed in short order as the quest to make solar photovoltaic (PV) modules and panels ever more efficient continues. Reducing the amount of sunlight reflected from the surface of solar panels is one promising pathway that’s being explored. Making them black would appear to be a simple solution, but doing so isn’t so simple… or cheap.

Natcore Technology Oct. 25 announced that it has fabricated an "Absolute Black" silicon PV cell — from wafer to finished product — using a proprietary processes "amenable to low-cost mass production."


 

 

The Blackest Black

Natcore scientists first created the "blackest" silicon solar cell surface ever recorded. Natcore technicians then took over, employing the Red Bank, NJ-based company’s liquid phase deposition (LPD) process to create the finished Absolute Black silicon PV cell.

Reducing the reflectivity of solar cells ten-fold yields up to 3% more usable light and an identical boost in PV cell efficiency, according to Natcore. “This is a major milestone for Natcore and the entire solar industry. A low-cost, scalable production process was the missing piece in making black silicon solar cells viable. We now look forward to providing this key capability,” company Chairman Brien Lundin stated.

The entire process was completed at Natcore’s R&D Center in Rochester, NY — the first time the company fabricated one of its black silicon PV cells from start to finish. Due to lack of equipment and technical capacity, Natcore had previously farmed out aspects of the process to other labs, including Arizona State University, the Photovoltaic R&D Center at the University of Toledo, and the US Dept. of Energy National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL).

That changed in July when Natcore was able to raise $2.5 million in capital to commercialize its black silicon technology. Some of the proceeds were invested "in the brainpower and lab equipment needed to execute its work quickly and in-house," according to Natcore’s press release. "This black silicon solar cell, made entirely in our lab, is the first fruit of that investment," commented Natcore president and CEO Chuck Provini.

Achieving such a high state of "blackness," Natcore’s black silicon wafers have "near-zero reflectivity," which means that virtually 100% of the sunlight striking the cell gets absorbed and is available for conversion to electricity. The wafers are only the substrate for the finished product, however. They need to be "fashioned into solar cells" before they’re able to convert sunlight into electricity.

Solar R&D Public-Private Partnership

Enter NREL, with whom Natcore has a Cooperative Research & Development Agreement (CRADA). NREL recently produced black silicon PV cells with a conversion efficiency of 18.2%, but these black silicon solar cells were fabricated using a thermal deposition process too expensive for production in commercial quantities. Natcore’s LPD, by contrast, is a chemical process.

As per the terms of the CRADA, Natcore and NREL will work together and make use of their respective technologies "to achieve or exceed that efficiency with Natcore’s black silicon solar cells." This entails combining Natcore’s patented LPD technology with "NREL’s technologies for creating a black silicon antireflective layer integrated into high-efficiency solar cells.”

"The feasibility of the combined technologies working together has already been demonstrated in a preliminary Natcore/NREL effort that produced a small-area, lab-scale black silicon solar cell with 16.5% efficiency," Natcore notes.

“We have a good synergy with Natcore on black silicon technology," commented NREL Research Scientist Dr. Hao-Chih Yuan. "A silicon surface, without proper coating, is detrimental to the energy conversion efficiency of the solar cell. It is not unusual to grow silicon dioxide coatings on black silicon surfaces for this purpose, but the growth is typically at very high temperatures. Natcore’s coating uses chemistry. They are the ones who can passivate a black silicon surface cheaply.”

Regular CleanTechnica readers will know that other than Natcore and NREL, researchers in Germany at the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft institute are working on improving and perhaps commercializing black silicon solar cells. Natcore seems the closest to commercialization at this point, but the work of all of these scientists may help us in the long run.


Bicycling, Transit, & Public Space Initiatives Boost Local Economies & Businesses, New Report Finds

Posted: 26 Oct 2012 05:35 AM PDT

 
Bike lanes are often the subject of controversy and criticism, and often unrightfully so. New research has shown that, rather than being a waste of money, they help to boost the local economy.

20121026-015539.jpg

A new report released on Wednesday by New York City's Transportation Department finds that one clear and perhaps under-the-radar benefit of bicycle lanes, pedestrian plazas, and rapid-transit bus systems is that the businesses that are located near this infrastructure often experience a significant increase in customers.

"These projects are not just about the quality of life or aesthetics," Janette Sadik-Khan, the city's transportation commissioner, said in a phone interview. "In case after case, these projects really do set the table for economic development."

The report was created after analyzing data provided by the Department of Finance, primarily sales figures from small businesses in the areas around the new infrastructure. Apparently, larger chains couldn’t be included in the analysis because they report receipts centrally, rather than by individual location.


 
“On Ninth Avenue, where the city has installed protected bike lanes, businesses from 23rd Street to 31st Street have seen a 49 percent increase in retail sales, compared with a boroughwide average of 3 percent over the same period, the report said.”

That is a significant increase, and correlates very clearly with the new transit infrastructure.

And where a plaza and protected bike path were put in on the north end of Union Square, there has been a 49 percent drop in commercial vacancies. The borough average for the same period was an increase of 5 percent in commercial vacancies.

“In Brooklyn, where a parking area on Pearl Street was converted into a plaza, retail sales have increased 172 percent for neighboring businesses, compared with 18 percent throughout the borough.”

The report also linked improvements in bus service with economic improvement. There was a 71 percent increase in retail sales along Fordham Road in the Bronx. According to Ms. Sadik-Khan, faster rapid-transit buses and the increased ridership that they’ve brought were most likely bringing more customers to the local businesses.

"Everybody's got an opinion," she said, "but we have the data."

Source: The New York Times
Image Credits: Bike Lanes via Wikimedia Commons


London Array Moving Forward with Plans for 240MW Extension

Posted: 26 Oct 2012 04:52 AM PDT

 
The 240MW expansion of the London Array offshore wind farm is now one step closer to reality. The developers just submitted the application to start building the second phase of the project. Once completed, the extension will increase the wind farm’s overall capacity to 870 MW.

london array wind farm

When the initial planning approval for the expansion was granted in 2006, it was decided that the second phase couldn’t continue until satisfactory evidence was provided that the legally protected Red Throated Divers population in the Outer Thames Estuary wouldn’t be negatively affected by the construction.

“Richard Rigg, project director at London Array, said developers Dong Energy, E.ON, and Masdar have been working with the RSPB and Natural England to collect and analyse the bird population for the last six years.”

And now, after all the research, they have decided that the expansion could go forward without negatively affecting the birds. So, they have submitted their proposal to the Department of Energy Climate Change (DECC) and the Marine Management Organisation (MMO).


 
“The proposal for Phase 2 is based on the results of these monitoring and modelling studies,” said Rigg. “London Array believes the proposed scheme, which uses only part of the area available for Phase 2, can maintain the integrity of the Special Protected Area in which the wind farm sits and will not adversely affect the population of Red Throated Divers.”

The Phase 2 expansion is designed to cover over 40 square kilometers and will be capable of producing enough electricity to meet the annual energy needs of over 180,000 homes. Depending on the size of the turbines that are installed, between 36 and 65 turbines may be installed.

“London Array refused to speculate on when the wind farm would be fully operational, although it is widely assumed that if consent is granted the project should be up and running by the end of the decade and capable of powering 650,000 homes in total.”

The first phase of the project is expected to be completed towards the end of the year.

Source: BusinessGreen
Image Credits: RPS Group


Solar Panels Work Great in Snowy Regions, Research Shows

Posted: 26 Oct 2012 04:45 AM PDT

 
Solar power installations are well worth the investment, even in snowy climates, according to new research from Michigan Technological University. The albedo effect caused by white snow cover actually helps to increase solar panel efficiency (counter to what many of us might have thought).

20121026-012442.jpg

While a layer of snowfall temporarily covers the panel and stops production, the panels don’t remain covered for long, even in the most snow-heavy regions.

“Sometimes snow actually helps solar cells,” says Michigan Tech’s Joshua Pearce. Referring to the albedo effect, which is caused by white colors reflecting sunlight. “It can make a panel generate more electricity in the same way that it gives skiers sunburn on sunny winter days.”

For the new research, scientists from St. Lawrence College and Queen’s University, along with a group of 20 industry partners, investigated the effects of snow on the Open Solar Outdoors Test Field.


 
“They created a computer model to predict how much power generation would decline in various amounts of snow cover and on different types of solar modules mounted at different angles, from flat to steeply pitched. Then they validated their model with data from many of Ontario’s huge commercial solar farms.”

“In most cases power losses are minimal, even in snowy Canada,” Pearce said. As part of the research, though, they also created a model that is designed to help the most efficient photovoltaic systems, even in extremely snowy areas.

Pearce and R. W. Andrews have authored a paper based on the preliminary study, “Prediction of Energy Effects on Photovoltaic Systems Due to Snowfall Events,” published in proceedings of the 2012 38th IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference.

Source and Image: Michigan Technological University


2,500 MW of Rooftop Solar Sought in Dubai

Posted: 26 Oct 2012 04:30 AM PDT

 
The CEO and managing director of the Dubai Water and Electricity Authority has announced that various efforts are underway to help facilitate the expansion of 2,500 MW of rooftop solar by 2030. If it achieves this ambitious goal, about 20 percent of its total energy needs would be meet by this venture.

dubai night

A 1,000MW, $3.5 billion project, the Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Solar Park is a central focus for expanding solar power. The first phase of this development is a modest 10 MW and it should be completed by the end of 2013. Currently, natural gas, LNG, and diesel oil are some of the key energy sources there.

Moving towards solar power is very sensible considering the abundance of sunlight which is available. “The potential for this region is huge, with each square kilometre of land receiving every year an amount of solar energy that is equivalent to 1.5 million barrels of crude oil, ” said Helene Pelosse, director general of the International Renewable Energy Authority.

Dubai is the name of an emirate, and a city. They city’s economy was built on the oil industry, so the shift to solar is a significant transition. Dubai City has been the site of much development in terms of new buildings and other infrastructure.
 

 
Recently, a declaration about the importance of energy access for all citizens in Dubai was made: “We commend the host country the UAE for its Vision 2021 for a green economy, its emergence as a global champion for sustainable energy, responsible development and the efficient use of hydrocarbon resources and Dubai as a role model for its vision, innovations, and achievements in energy efficiency.”

If solar power is contagious, as has been reported, it will be fascinating to see if Dubai’s lead will spark similar enthusiasm in neighboring countries.

Image Credit: .EVO. from UAE


Concentrated Solar Power Could Supply 11.3% of Global Electricity by 2050

Posted: 26 Oct 2012 04:30 AM PDT

 
Concentrated solar power markets are growing all over the world, and new projections suggest that, by 2050, they could make up 11.3% of the electricity generated worldwide.

A new report released by Global Information points to concentrated solar power’s (CSP) dispatchability, increased efficiency, and track record in innovation as the reasons behind their projections.

Concentrated Solar Power

There isn’t much more to the report that is of great value to anyone but a few executives, a point that I imagine Global Information are too well aware of if their shameless and utterly disturbing approach to a press release is any indication. The majority of the press release is dedicated to selling the report with ‘limited time offer’ and ‘special offer’ interspersed through a tide of information meant to entice the would-be investor or project manager.

For anyone wondering, concentrated global power is the act of using mirrors or lenses to concentrate a large area of sunlight onto a smaller area (as seen in the image to the above).

According to the report, the “most mature and widely deployed of all CSP technologys” is the Parabolic Trough, accountig for no less than 95.6 percent of all currently running CSP installations.

A diagram of a parabolic trough solar farm (top), and an end view of how a parabolic collector focuses sunlight onto its focal point.

Source: Global Information


Army Reserve Quietly Steps Up Its Sustainability Game

Posted: 26 Oct 2012 04:27 AM PDT

 
The Department of Defense has been steadily picking up the pace of its clean energy initiatives, and that includes the Army Reserve. This week, CleanTechnica had an opportunity to speak with Mr. Tad Davis, the person in charge of a $1.2 billion-per-year office that oversees sustainability programs for the Army, Army National Guard, and Reserve. Mr. Davis described how Reservists are uniquely positioned to play a powerful role as the Army transitions into a more sustainable force that leverages alternative energy as well as water conservation, waste management, and land stewardship.

Army Reserve leads in sustainability

Army Reservists as Green Ambassadors

Mr. Davis (his full title is Command Executive Officer and Director of Services and Infrastructure Core Enterprise for the United States Army Reserve) noted that the Army Reserve has adopted a full slate of new clean energy and conservation strategies, guided by the Army Reserve Company Plan for Sustainability. That includes alternative energy, LEED construction standards, microgrids, and smart metering; with the ultimate goal of achieving Net Zero status for waste and water as well as energy.

These initiatives are driven by technology, infrastructure, and upper level management decisions, but as Mr. Davis sees it, energy training for Soldiers is the glue that holds the whole thing together.

Davis pointed out that compared to career Soldiers, Reservists have less exposure to training and messaging. That presents some challenges. On the other hand, it presents an opportunity for conveying the sustainability message to the civilian sector, as Reservists cycle constantly between their base, their home, and their workplace.

The flow of information works in the other direction as well. Mr. Davis noted that the Army’s “culture change” focus on energy is still a relatively new one, and Reservists can contribute to the learning curve with fresh insights from sustainability programs that they may pick up at work, at school, or in their communities.

In an article published earlier this year, Mr. Davis described the relationship like this:

“The Army Reserve's primary presence is in its Reserve centers, maintenance sites and training installations in hundreds of communities throughout the United States, making us the face of the military in many parts of the country. This means that partnership with local communities is a must. We are working with our neighbors to learn what we can do better together and to show what is possible through energy and sustainability programs.”


 

The Power is In Your Hands

As frequently covered by CleanTechnica (go ahead, google it), the Department of Defense has been aggressively pursuing sustainability and Net Zero goals, both at its permanent facilities and in forward operations where reducing vulnerable supply convoys is imperative.

In that regard, Mr. Davis directed our attention to the Army’s new “The Power is in Your Hands” initiative, which envisions an “energy-informed culture” that relies on both behavior changes and new technology:

“We are examining every way possible to be more effective with our energy use, to employ renewable resources, and lower our costs. All of this will reduce the number of convoys on the roads. But it requires us to change our behavior. When Soldiers start thinking: HOW CAN I USE ENERGY SMARTER?, we know we are on our way.”

The ten key elements of the initiative include batteries and “worn power,” generators, training simulators, accounting systems and microgrids, performance incentives for fuel and water savings, analytical tools that support the more rapid introduction of new conservation equipment (including a demonstration project at Camp Buehring, Kuwait), improvements for certain aircraft and vehicles, and next-generation technologies aimed at increased agility and sustainability.

Putting the Pieces Together

What it all boils down to is a holistic vision of national defense that necessarily includes a broader life-supporting mission. The Army Environmental Policy Institute summed that up in its 2010 Sustainability Report:

“…It is an organizing principle that factors mission, environment, community and economic benefit into each of its decisions and activities. Training, equipping and supporting the Army's operations require land, resources and people…. The Army continues to pursue sustainability strategies to meet current and future mission requirements worldwide, safeguard human health, improve the quality of life and enhance the natural environment.”

Image: Army Reserve, some rights reserved by The U.S. Army

Follow me on Twitter: @TinaMCasey


Clean Energy Atlanta Program to Offer Up to $200M for Building Retrofits

Posted: 26 Oct 2012 04:00 AM PDT

 
Ygrene Energy Fund, a provider of clean energy finance projects, has announced that Invest Atlanta, the economic development authority of Atlanta, voted to release $200 million of energy retfrofit funds via the Clean Energy Atlanta program.

These funds will be available to both multi-family residential building owners and commercial ones as well.

The program is expected to create up to 3,000 jobs.

“Now is the time to implement intelligent programs that offer both economic and environmental benefits immediately,” Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said. “Clean Energy Atlanta paves the way to finance and implement extensive energy savings while adding value to Atlanta property and creating thousands of local jobs. We are ready to get started right away.”

Source: PR Newswire


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