- Cities Getting Local Energy Choice with Aggregation
- Warren Buffet’s MidAmerican Wind Acquires Two Huge Alta Wind Projects
- BrightSource’s Proposed Rio Mesa Solar Power Plant in California Passes State Test
- New Solar Power Arrays Will Save Colorado School District Significant Amounts of Money
- Ecotricity & Nissan to Speed Up “Electric Motorway” in England, and Ford & Schneider Install Electric Car Chargers Across Europe
- Americans Love Solar (Republicans, Democrats, & Independents) — More than Any Other Energy Source
- Solar Power to Energize Avatar Sequels for James Cameron
- Kings Cross Solar Power Renovation Completed
- The GM Ultralite — 1400 lbs, 100 MPG, and You Can’t Have It
- New York Green Tech 50 Revealed
- Green Brain Makes a Mashup of Computer Games, Flying Robots and Beekeepers from Toulouse
- Australian Territory (ACT) Outlines Plan for 90% Renewable Energy by 2020
- IKEA 1st Retailer to Sell Only LED Lights (by 2016)
- Paving the Way to a Low-Carbon Society: California Governor Enacts 19 New Clean Energy Bills
- 24.9 GW of Renewable Energy Capacity for Japan by 2016?
Posted: 02 Oct 2012 04:43 PM PDT
While many communities have used aggregation to simply select a new, less expensive electricity supplier, a few communities are also attempting to use their newfound control to maximize clean local energy development. Marin Clean Energy in California, Oak Park in Illinois, and Cincinnati in Ohio have all pursued much greener electricity options or attempted to encourage local distributed renewable energy development.
This presentation I gave to the National Strategy Meeting of the Local Energy Aggregation Network (February 2012) explores the potential for community choice aggregation policy to increase local clean energy development, providing an overview of where the law is currently in force, and where the opportunities are. For more on this policy and its history, you may also like ILSR’s 2009 report on community choice aggregation.
This post originally appeared on ILSR's Energy Self-Reliant States blog.
Posted: 02 Oct 2012 04:28 PM PDT
"The Alta Wind VII and Alta Wind IX projects demonstrate MidAmerican Wind's commitment to developing wind generation in the U.S.," said Tom Budler, president of MidAmerican Wind. "The two projects, which are part of the largest wind farm in the country, make an excellent addition to our growing portfolio of renewable energy assets as we continue to evaluate and acquire wind projects."
When the Alta Wind Energy Center is fully complete, it will contain a total capacity of 1,320 megawatts. Southern California Edison — the primary electricity supply company for much of Southern California — will purchase electricity from each of the projects under the terms of power purchase agreements that currently extend to 2035.
Posted: 02 Oct 2012 04:05 PM PDT
The California Energy Commission has said in a recent news release that its staff “had found the solar project, estimated to cost $2 billion, would comply with all applicable laws, ordinances, regulation and standards and the environmental impacts would be less than significant.”
The staff noted some issues that need to be resolved first, though. These concern “geology and paleontology, soil and surface water, traffic and transportation, transmission system engineering, water supply and visual resources.”
This preliminary report isn’t a final decision, though; that will still come at a later date.
According to the commission, BrightSource estimated that the project would employ on average 840 workers a month during the construction phase, peaking at 2,188, and ending up with 100 full-time employees after the project is completed.
“The proposed Rio Mesa project consists of two 250-MW solar plants, producing steam to generate electricity. Each plant would have about 85,000 heliostats — elevated mirrors used to focus the sun’s rays on a solar receiver,” Reuters notes.
“The solar receiver is located atop a 750-foot (230-meter) power tower near the center of each solar field.”
BrightSource is aiming to build Rio Mesa on Palo Verde Mesa in Riverside County. That’s around 13 miles SW of Blythe, California, which is located around 224 miles east of LA.
The proposed construction site is located on land that is leased from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and covers over 3,805 acres.
“BrightSource originally asked the commission in October 2011 for permission to build a 750-MW project on about 5,750 acres. But in July 2012, the company amended its application to remove the 250-MW plant that would have been on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land due in part to concerns raised by the BLM,” Reuters adds.
“Separately, BrightSource started building the 370-MW Ivanpah solar power plant in California’s Mojave Desert in October 2010 and will sell the power to PG&E Corp and Southern California Edison. The company expects Ivanpah to cost about $2.2 billion and enter service in 2013.”
And in addition to all of this, BrightSource is also creating the 500-MW Hidden Hills solar power plant in SE California located around the Nevada state border. The company is expecting Hidden Hills to cost about $2.7 billion. It’s expected to start construction by 2013 and enter service by 2015.
Posted: 02 Oct 2012 03:55 PM PDT
The school district celebrated the new 1.4-megawatt (MW) solar project Monday, with a "flip the switch" ceremony at the local Foothill Elementary School, which is one of 14 schools that are benefitting directly from the project.
The new solar power systems will result in the elimination of “over 110 million pounds of annual carbon dioxide emissions, which is the equivalent of taking roughly 300 cars off Colorado's roads each year.” The solar systems will also result in the school district paying less for the solar power generated electricity over the course of its ’20-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA)’ than the conventionally sourced electricity that it currently uses.
As part of the project, the students at the 14 participating schools will “have access to rich on-site educational resources: With SolarCity's web-based monitoring, PowerGuide®, BVSD students will be able to track in real-time how much power their solar system is generating and how much electricity their school is using. This data is displayed graphically, thus allowing students to easily see the relationship between production and consumption.”
The school district and SolarCity entered into a ‘Power Purchase Agreement’ as part of the relationship. This allowed the district to go green without any upfront costs, and to still pay significantly less for electricity than they are paying currently. SolarCity will take care of all of the maintenance and operations of the systems from their centers in Denver and Parker.
The schools that will be receiving the new rooftop solar arrays are: Angevine Middle School (Lafayette), Aspen Creek K-8 (Broomfield), Boulder High School (Boulder), Broomfield High School (Broomfield), Centaurus High School (Lafayette), Coal Creek Elementary School (Louisville), Columbine Elementary School (Boulder), Creekside Elementary School (Boulder), Eldorado K-8 (Superior), Foothill Elementary School (Boulder), Heatherwood Elementary School (Boulder), Manhattan Middle School (Boulder), Monarch High School (Louisville), and Sanchez International Elementary School (Lafayette).
This project “will bring the total number of BVSD schools with solar arrays to 30, which is more than half of BVSD's school buildings,” SolarCity noted.
Posted: 02 Oct 2012 03:23 PM PDT
Ecotricity and Nissan to Speed Up “Electric Motorway” in England
Battery electric vehicle users can now charge their electric cars in 30 minutes using three chargers that were set up along a route between London and Birmingham.
A half-hour charge can charge most electric car batteries up to 80% of their capacity, providing them with an additional 80 miles of range. This is much better than a 3-hour charge and will work for most people, except for the few that have to drive multiple stretches of hundreds of miles.
While news about the invention of technologies is good to hear, it is even more heartwarming to see actual progress being made outside of laboratories as well, such as the construction of charging stations and power plants for public use, rather than just for experimentation.
In order for people to adopt electric vehicles, they have to be able to charge them in public places, just in case their overnight charge at home is not enough for that extra-long trip to grandma in another state or region, for example.
Ford and Schneider Electric Offer Car Chargers Across Europe
Ford and Schneider Electric also just started offering car chargers across Europe, technology that can charge electric cars in as little as 3 hours. The charging stations are compatible with any vehicle that uses the J1772 plug, which is what most electric cars use.
The chargers are optimized for use with Ford vehicles, including the Focus Electric.
Focus electric customers will have the option to purchase their electricity from certified green energy providers, which will not be mentioned until the Focus Electric is released.
Ford has not affirmed how many charging stations will be set up, but a Ford spokeswoman said that Schneider will offer multi-chargers to fleet customers.
Posted: 02 Oct 2012 01:31 PM PDT
Now, a new study conducted by Hart Research on behalf of the Solar Energy Industries Association, shows that Americans of all stripes are still fully in love with solar.
This is the 5th year in a row that the survey has been conducted, and it’s the 5th time solar has been the popular kid on the block. As stated above, even Republicans (voters, not Congresspeople, that is) love solar:
“The poll found that more than nine out of 10 (92 percent) of likely voters feel that the U.S. should develop and use more solar energy. This support was strong across the political spectrum with 84 percent of Republicans, 95 percent of independents, and 98 percent of Democrats agreeing.”
If there’s one issue worth supporting loud and clear and basing an election on, its clean energy, and especially solar. Clearly, that’s not what the Romney/Ryan ticket is doing, and even the Obama administration isn’t being very clear about it. Obama’s energy message is all about “all of the above” — I wonder how much more popular he might be if he went on a really strong clean energy push with a focus on solar?
Geoff Garin, president of Hart Research Associates, says: "These results clearly show that American voters across the political spectrum have a strong favorable view of solar energy and the solar industry, and they believe that government has an important role to play in allowing this industry to grow and succeed."
“The consistency of these findings is also impressive,” said Molly O’Rourke, partner at Hart Research. “Voters express the same high levels of support across a variety of measures, from their very positive perceptions of solar energy to their enthusiasm for policies that promote greater use of solar.”
And these weren’t just general or non-competitive questions! Take a load of these stats:
“Voters' favorable view of solar translates directly into widespread bipartisan support for federal incentives fostering solar energy. Nearly four out of five (78 percent) of voters say the government should provide tax credits and financial incentives to encourage the development and use of solar energy. Fully two-thirds of swing voters (67 percent) chose solar above any other energy source to receive tax and financial incentives.”
Yes! And yes, please — give us more solar!
Posted: 02 Oct 2012 01:22 PM PDT
Mr. Cameron said: “We have to do this. We have to do this for the future, for our children and we have to do it as a moral responsibility for the planet.”
Over 3,600 solar modules make up three arrays at Lightstorm Entertainment. Stellar Energy is the solar power company that provided the guidance for the permitting process, construction and logistics.
Of course, Avatar has a strong environmental theme, so using clean energy for the film production company that made the film is in alignment with its overall message.
Presumably, this new solar power project will help power the production of Avatar 2.
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox, via Wiki Commons
Posted: 02 Oct 2012 01:19 PM PDT
The station, located in North London, just turned on the installation of 1,392 solar cells that are “embedded into glass laminate units that now form part of the two new vaulted roofing structures spanning the main platforms.”
This 240kW system that spreads out over more than 2,300 square metres of the ‘grade 1 listed building’ is projected to produce over 175,000kWh of electricity a year — that will save around 100 tonnes of CO2 every year.
The contractors on the project, Kier, the Sundog Energy solar system planners, and ESB’s installation services had to adapt to work with the variability in dimensions that almost always comes with working on old buildings, and of course had to work with strict safety procedures in mind, since they were working directly over a live rail line.
The glass laminate that makes up the panels also had to be engineered to be much stronger than ordinary solar installations in order to survive any potential terrorist bomb attacks.
By overcoming all of these challenges requiring technical precision, the founder and technical director of Sundog Energy, Martin Cotterell, said that this project clearly shows that renewables can play a great role in the enocation of historic buildings, even when those buildings are in very busy and densely-packed urban areas.
“The sheer scale of the installation has presented many major technical and aesthetic design challenges from day one and there has been no margin for error as the work had to be undertaken while the station remained fully operational,” he said. “We believe the project combines the very best in modern design, technical excellence and sustainability with the grace of one of the UK’s most iconic grade 1 listed buildings.”
The Kings Cross renovation and installation of a solar system is only the newest in a recent series of renewable energy installations on the rail network — it’s dwarfed by the enormous installation being constructed on top of Brackfriars station. That station, located in central London, will be more than 6,000 square meters.
There are still more than 4,400 panels waiting to be installed on the roof of a railway bridge located there that spans the Thames — that will be done by the end of 2012.
This new rooftop system will be able to provide more than half of King Cross station’s energy needs.
Posted: 02 Oct 2012 01:11 PM PDT
Every now and then, the 90s show up with something amazing and far less well known than it should have been, and we all taste bitter regret at what could have been. This is the case with the GM Ultralite, a 1400 lb car that got up to 100mpg, two decades ago. No, really.
The GM Ultralite prototype was unveiled to the public in Detroit in January ’92, with working air conditioning, self-leveling air suspension, and even the ability to hit 60mph in 8 seconds (which, given how economic it was on fuel use, is remarkably quick).
Head on over to our sister site, Gas2, for the rest of the reasons GM never made this lean, efficient machine.
Posted: 02 Oct 2012 12:58 PM PDT
The goal of the NY Green Tech 50 Is to highlight the most promising, fastest-growing, and potentially market leading private New York based companies that are focusing their efforts on green technology. Nominations for the 50 were opened in May of this year and nearly 200 companies were nominated by the end.
72 percent of the companies recognized are currently in the seed stage, acquiring angel investment or government grant funding only.
The list of 50 companies is a diverse group, made up of materials companies, renewable energy companies, energy storage companies, and Green IT/Cleanweb companies.
Adapted from material provided by CBInsights.
Photo Courtesy: US Solar Institute
Posted: 02 Oct 2012 12:52 PM PDT
The Green Brain and Computer Games
The Green Brain moniker is meant to echo the Blue Brain human intelligence initiative, which is forging ahead on IBM’s Blue Gene supercomputer.
For Green Brain, a research team at the Universities of Sheffield and Sussex in England will use hardware from Texas-based NVIDIA Corporation, which specializes in accelerated processing for ultra high-performance supercomputers.
NVIDIA’s processors are also used to create the 3-D graphics in computer games, and that is what attracted the Green Brain team. Rather than using a conventional supercomputer configuration, which is both massive and expensive, Green Brain will run its high-volume calculations on standard desktop computers.
If the project is a success on desktop PC’s, by the way, it could open up a new era of faster, cheaper and less energy intensive research.
About Those Flying Robots…
When you think about autonomous flying robots, nowadays it’s pretty hard not to think about drone warfare (yep, now go ahead and try it). However, as with any other technology, there are important civilian applications as well as military uses for drones, and the operation of an actual flying device is a critical step in testing the Green Brain computer model.
The research teams expects that lessons learned from Green Brain will provide new insights into neuroscience projects for human cognition. Green Brain could also be used to design autonomous robots used in agriculture (including artificial pollination), construction and maintenance, or manufacturing; or for exploration and research, emergency response including search-and-rescue, and environmental monitoring.
Green Brain could interweave with other kinds of honeybee research, such as a DARPA-funded project that involves using real honeybees for bomb detection.
The team also anticipates that an improved understanding of honeybee behavior could help gain insights into colony collapse disorder and other honeybee afflictions.
But These are No Ordinary Beekeepers!
Research at the Université de Toulouse has been instrumental in establishing that the tiny bee brain is capable of abstract thinking, and is proportionally as capable as human brains when it comes to certain cognitive functions.
In partnership with a team from Australia, researchers from Toulouse recently demonstrated that individual honeybees could be trained to navigate a maze, by learning rules based on visual relationships such as above/below.
Translated into a computer model, the research could lead to a robotic brain that has visual capabilities almost as advanced as human sight.
Follow me on Twitter: @TinaMCasey.
Posted: 02 Oct 2012 07:00 AM PDT
In a refreshing change from the head in the sand policies on climate change and clean energy adopted by the state conservative governments, particularly Queensland and Victoria, the ACT Climate Change Strategy, released by Energy Minister Simon Corbell in September, also includes a target to reduce the ACT's carbon emissions by 40 per cent from 1990 levels by 2020, by 80 per cent by 2050, and to achieve "carbon neutrality" by 2060.
"Solar energy has been the centrepiece of the government's renewable energy projects to date but this strategy outlines a broader pathway to achieve carbon reduction targets," Corbell said in a statement.
"The government will combine the benefits of new renewable energy sources like wind with existing solar projects, both here and in the capital region; encourage more use of public transport to reduce traffic emissions and boost energy efficiency in homes and buildings to reduce our carbon footprint and save Canberrans money."
The ACT government has already shown leadership in the renewables sector, implementing the first feed in tariff for commercial scale solar PV installations, and recently completed the first "reverse auction" for utility scale solar that will see the country's largest solar farm, a 20MW facility near Royalla, built by the Spanish firm FRV by 2014.
The total portfolio of 40MW to be allocated via the auction will account for around 2 per cent of the territory's needs. The 90 per cent target envisages up to 90MW of large scale solar PV by 2020, around 23MW of biomass from landfill waste, and the purchase of renewable energy certificates and output from up to 583MW of wind power in the ACT/NSW border region. It also includes around 72MW of small and medium scale rooftop solar PV.
It estimates around that a maximum 130-160MW of solar energy could be installed in the territory, but its reverse auction system could accelerate the deployment of solar thermal and geothermal technologies if these also looked promising.
The key areas of reduction in carbon emissions contained in the climate change strategy include:
- 218,000 tonnes of carbon emissions reduced from the residential sector through increased energy efficiency; restrictions on installations of high emission hot water heaters, continuation of the ACTSmart programs and collaboration with local tertiary education institutions to trial new technologies to produce and store energy;
- 181,000 tonnes reduction in the commercial sector through the possible expansion of the energy efficiency scheme to large businesses and buildings as well as a heating and cooling load map to encourage private investment in low-carbon energy networks;
- 138,000 tonnes reductions through the implementation of the transport for Canberra strategy which will increase public transport frequency to encourage people out of their private vehicles;
- and 1,471,000 tonnes reduction through the deployment of large-scale renewable energy including solar and wind power.
Posted: 02 Oct 2012 04:43 AM PDT
The decision by the Swedish furniture giant is just part of the company’s sustainability strategy. IKEA has also banned incandescent light bulbs and plastic bags, according to a statement by IKEA.
Besides IKEA's continued commitment to sustainability, the plan to have all LED lights by 2016 comes hot off the heels of a survey by IKEA and Wakefield Research.
The survey noted that half of Americans have seen an increase in their electricity bills within the past 1-2 years.
Meanwhile, 69% of US residents said up to 40% of their electricity bill comes from lighting.
LED lighting growth in 2011 was 44%, according to data from Strategies Unlimited.
Here are some other interesting facts regarding LED lights that you may not know, according to IKEA:
Source: CSR Newswire
Posted: 02 Oct 2012 04:29 AM PDT
Streamlining the process of obtaining building or other permits to have rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) systems installed, California Senate Bill 1222 (SB 1222), authored by Sen. Mark Leno (D-SF), standardizes and limits the fees city and county governments can charge. Local government agencies and school districts are eligible for reimbursement of certain costs incurred as a result of the state mandate.
More than 1 million more rooftop solar energy systems are expected to be installed in California in coming years. The cost of obtaining permits for them varies widely across state jurisdictions, and "high permitting fees increase the costs of installations and reduce the ability for solar to be deployed across all income spectrums," the new law notes.
Lowering the Cost of Rooftop Solar; Public Clean Energy Partnership with DoD
Also worthy of particular note is the "Energy Security Coordination Act of 2012" (SB 1409), "which strengthens the partnership between California and the U.S. military." Per the terms of the bill, which was authored by State Senator Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills), the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) will act as liaison and coordinator between the state government and US Department of Defense (DoD) on clean energy policy in order to enhance collaborations in achieving energy security and creating new jobs.
The US military is the single largest energy consumer in the country, spending some $20 billion a year on energy. Recognizing the critical role renewables, clean energy, and energy efficiency can play in US national energy security, the US Armed Forces are on a renewable and clean energy drive under the Obama Administration’s leadership. Colorado’s Pike Research forecasts that the US Dept. of Defense will spend $1.8 billion on clean energy by 2025.
Here’s the rundown on the 17 other clean energy bills signed into state law Sept. 27, from Gov. Brown’s website:
Photo Credit: SF Gate
Posted: 02 Oct 2012 04:25 AM PDT
Japan has set a three-year window for very high feed-in tariffs to encourage explosive renewable energy. (Extremely explosive might be more accurate.) Though these numbers may seem ludicrously ambitious and even laughable to some, one only needs to consider the shuttering of nuclear power in Japan to understand the urgency of the energy situation there.
As already noted on CleanTechnica in June, Japan’s feed-in tariff rates could vault their clean energy production to levels alongside Germany and similarly enthusiastic clean energy early adopters. The tariff for wind there is currently the highest in the world.
Image Credit: 663highland, Wiki Commons
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