- Inner Workings of Solar Cell: New Insight into How Solvent Mixtures Affect the Structure of Organic Solar Cells
- Bike Share Program Pedals onto the AT&T Wireless Network
- Awesome Bus Ad, Reinventing Points of View on Bus Travel (Saturday Night Live Style)
- Smooth Sailing for Wind Power with New Flow Battery… or Not
- WattPeople Helps Consumers See Benefit of Solar Bundling
- Stay Lit Up on Your Bike and Be the Envy of Everyone
- New Solar PV System Rebate Announced by AGT
- Largest Self-Storage Company to Save $1.9 Million with LED Lighting
- Electric Scooters in Asia Pacific Will Increase Nearly Tenfold from 2012 to 2018
- Hopper Electric Scooters — Amsterdam’s Electric Two-Wheeled Taxi Fleet
- World’s 1st Intelligent Energy-Storage-Powered High Rise Unveiled at Barclay Tower
- EU Launches Sustainable Energy Project in Uganda
- Chanel Fashion Show Sports Wind Turbines, Solar Panels
- 19 Smartphone Apps for an Eco-Friendly Home & Lifestyle
- 36 MW of Vestas Turbines Headed to France
Posted: 05 Oct 2012 03:57 PM PDT
This new research has given some insight into the most inner workings of these polymer-based solar cells, potentially leading to other future increases in efficiency.
In polymer-based solar cells, there are two domains, the acceptor, and the donor layers. The energy particles that are created by solar cells, excitons, need to be able to move quickly to the “interface of the donor and acceptor domains” for them to be used as an energy source.
It had been previously believed among researchers that making the “donor and acceptor layers as pure as possible was the best way to ensure that the excitons could travel unimpeded,” assuming that in this way solar cells would capture the most energy that they could.
North Carolina State physicist Harald Ade says: “We had previously found that the domains in these solar cells weren’t pure. So we looked at how additives affected the production of these cells. When you manufacture the cell, the relative rate of evaporation of the solvents and additives determines how the active layer forms and the donor and acceptor mix. Ideally, you want the solvent to evaporate slowly enough so that the materials have time to separate — otherwise the layers ‘gum up’ and lower the cell’s efficiency. We utilized an additive that slowed evaporation. This controlled the mixing and domain size of the active layer, and the portions that mixed were small.”
These mixed layers ended up having very good efficiency, leading to some thoughts that maybe allowing some mixing of the two layers wasn’t a problem, as long as the domains are small.
“We’re looking for the perfect mix here, both in terms of the solvents and additives we might use in order to manufacture polymer-based solar cells, and in terms of the physical mixing of the domains and how that may affect efficiency,” Ade says.
The findings are being published this month in two different journals, Advanced Energy Materials and Advanced Materials.
Source: North Carolina State University
Posted: 05 Oct 2012 03:45 PM PDT
AT&T and Social Bicycles recently announced that AT&T is “going to be the exclusive mobile internet provider in the United States for their launch this fall in select markets in California, Idaho and New York.”
The company Social Bicycles is a builder of ‘smart bikes’, those that use GPS tracking along with an integrated locking system and connectivity to AT&T’s wireless network. Similar to Zipcars, potential users can “locate, reserve and unlock bikes through a mobile phone application on your smartphone or tablet; allowing for easy pick up and drop off anywhere.”
And when you’re done it’s as easy as locating any bicycle rack that happens to be near your destination and then using the app to check it back in.
One of the main benefits of systems like these is that they are very cheap compared to station-based systems. By using mobile and internet reservations and real-time GPS tracking of their bikes, centralized-stations have become obsolete.
As part of their software, C02 emissions prevented, dollars saved (versus driving), and estimated calories burned are all tracked for the users to see.
Social Bicycles will be launching programs in three major markets in the autumn – Buffalo, NY; Sun Valley, ID; and San Francisco, CA. More markets are expected to open in early 2013.
Posted: 05 Oct 2012 03:32 PM PDT
Poetry in Travel on Bus
Riding the bus when I was young in Pennsylvania was a way to get to NYC (yes!), and to Stone Harbor, NJ, to see the shore… the ocean. My memories become vividly poetic at this point, populated with unknown faces, alert or sleepy, as we waited to board in predawn hours — we always chose a 4:00 am meeting with the bus to get to the city or the shore by breakfast. I was stirred by the energy and faces one would never see again; I was curious of others so varied. As they entered the window of my mind’s eye, I perceived their lives as engaging, short vignettes. Sounds of the day beginning, intermingled with pieces of conversations.
Humorous Bus Scenes in Smoke Signals (John Wayne’s Teeth)
Bus travel is also a must-see scene in the movie Smoke Signals. Two young Lakota men exchange a huge glass bottle of change for bus tickets off the reservation. They are journeying to acknowledge the passing of a father in another land. Their bus trip is filled with the enchantment and the strangeness of what it is to travel in such a way.
Bus experiences are always unique. In fact, when I do the bike–bus mix on a normal daily run, I find the same episodes of poetry arise. There is just something about immersion in culture that one only finds through mass transit. After enjoying the cool bus video above once, twice, or more times, don’t miss the bus scene in Smoke Signals (posted below), which includes a song about John Wayne. The young Lakota men are truly inspired and entertaining on their bus trip.
The advertisement for the top video is for the company Midttraffik, a mass transit bus company in Denmark. It is truly a great video. As Gas2 notes, it is “obviously seeking to making riding the bus much cooler than it actually is. And you know what? The ad works, at least for me.”
I guess I am just that rare person that experiences that different sense of “cool” — I have always thought of buses, and even more so trains, as very cool. Whatever your perception of cool is, enjoy the Midttraffik video; in particular, the sarcastic, dramatic music and slow-motion technology.
Posted: 05 Oct 2012 09:48 AM PDT
What is a Redox Flow Battery?
Basic redox flow battery technology has been around since the 1970s (redox stands for reduction-oxidation). They work by storing power in the form of liquid chemicals kept in two separate tanks. The system literally does “flow,” since to generate electricity the liquid electrolytes are pumped from the tanks through a reactor.
Aside from being able to store vast amounts of energy from intermittent sources like wind and solar power, flow batteries can be idled for long periods without losing capacity, and they can be activated quickly when needed.
PNNL researchers solved these problems by focusing on a type of flow battery that uses two different vanadium ions (vanadium is a soft, silvery gray metallic element).
Conventional redox flow technology relies on sulfuric acid. The PNNL team gained a 70% increase in storage capacity by adding hydrochloric acid. The hydrochloric acid also enabled the flow battery to operate in a wider range of temperatures.
The result is a flow battery that requires tanks far smaller than previous technology, without wasting energy on extra equipment needed for temperature control.
UniEnergy Built This! So Did We!
UniEnergy has entered into a licensing agreement with PNNL to tweak the technology a little further for developing commercial products that can be used by electric utilities, industry customers, and power generators, including wind farms and solar installations.
PNNL, of course, is a taxpayer-funded facility under the Department of Energy, so if the battery is a success and fortune smiles on the good folks at UniEnergy, we can all give ourselves a pat on the back. Sandia National Laboratory is working on another flow battery based on liquid salts, too, by the way.
About that Wind Energy Tax Credit…
Come to think of it, let’s not count our chickens before they hatch. The federal wind tax credit is the alternative energy industry’s equivalent of the kind of taxpayer support that has been showered on the fossil fuel industry for generations.
There is nothing new or controversial about it. This kind of support is meant to sustain a vital industry and create new jobs, and given recent job growth in the wind industry (including a cool wind power jobs for veterans program) it has been a smashing success.
Nevertheless, a routine extension due up this year has turned into a political firefight, because the aforementioned usual suspects in Congress (yes, leadership in the Republican party) are refusing to grant it.
The controversy intensified last summer after Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney declared his opposition to the wind tax credit. He also threw more fuel on the fire during the first presidential debate by supporting the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline, while also stating that he would be open to eliminating subsidies for the oil and gas industry.
Follow me on Twitter: @TinaMCasey
Posted: 05 Oct 2012 09:37 AM PDT
WattPeople has created a web application that allows users to sum up their total energy usage, taking into account not only their regular electricity bill, but also the average cost of gasoline and the number of miles driven in a year. You can select the electric vehicle of your choice to see whether the Solar EV Bundle is right for you.
What is the Solar EV Bundle? Simply put, buy a home solar installation as well as an electric car.
“The average American household spends $111 per month on electricity, $220 per month on gas for the car, and costs are increasing every year,” said WattPeople co-founder Rainer Boelzle. “Electric vehicles are the future but pose a number of challenges including the impact such vehicles may have on the electrical grid, charging, range, and stimulating consumer interest to drive widespread adoption.”
Posted: 05 Oct 2012 09:32 AM PDT
So you may as well stay visible in style.
Check out the new MonkeyFK from Monkeylectric.
The Monkey Light is made up of 32 ultra-bright, full-colour LEDs, 16 on each side of the wheel, that combine to create up to 42 themes with hundreds of colour combinations.
Monkey Light Features:
The MonkeyFK retails from the Monkeylectric site for $74.99, and a Mini version is available for $49.99.
Posted: 05 Oct 2012 09:28 AM PDT
The rebate program will provide owners of solar PV systems a $0.36/W cash rebate following their installation. Depending on existing federal and state incentives, this rebate is capable of improving a system owner’s return on investment by 15% to 30%.
"We wanted to develop a program that would positively impact the ROI for a system owner," said David Goodman, CEO of AGT. "Receiving cash aftera construction project is a pretty neat twist. And, in this case, the cash will allow the PV system owner to significantly improve his/her ROI and see positive returns much sooner.”
For more information, AGT has set up a toll-free number to provide additional details for anyone interested: 888-735-2641.
Source: Advanced Green Technologies
Posted: 05 Oct 2012 09:24 AM PDT
"Each property is unique. We have multiple buildings at each location that can be single-story or multi-story buildings, which has made it difficult to standardize lighting and has led to varied repair and maintenance costs throughout our portfolio," said Robbie Williams, vice president of facilities for Public Storage. "A third party maintains our LED signage lighting, which costs up to $1,000 per year per location including energy and upkeep. We really needed to standardize lighting and maintain information in one database while reducing our costs."
With as many as eight signs at each storage location, the costs quickly added up for Public Storage. They initially looked at swapping to T8 fluorescent lamps but chose to swap to LED sign lighting as the technology became competitively priced and the light quality improved.
Approximately 150 locations have already been fitted with the new LED lighting systems, and the rest will be retrofitted over the next three to five years.
Each property is subsequently expecting to reduce sign lighting energy consumption by 73 percent, earning them $799 per property over five years (and those savings are tax free).
Source: GE Appliances and Lighting
Posted: 05 Oct 2012 07:59 AM PDT
Most of these vehicles will be used in China (approximately 91 million).
Reportedly, in the Asia Pacific region, electric motorcycles are considered more of a luxury than an essential mode of transportation, and people are more inclined to purchase electric scooters instead. (Notably, that’s one big reason for the new Scoot program in San Francisco, and perhaps also for the new electric scooter taxi program, Hopper, in the Netherlands.)
India also has potential for a strong electric scooter market. Scooters are basically a lower-end alternative to motorcycles. Electric scooters have a speed range of 20 to 50 km/h, and electric motorcycles have a much higher speed range exceeding 50 km/h.
“Electric scooters meet the mobility requirements of a growing number of urban, middle class consumers in Asia Pacific," says senior research analyst Andy Bae. "Increasing population density, rising urbanization, increases in income levels, and government policies are all fueling the demand for lightweight, highly mobile electric two-wheel vehicles."
According to the same Pike Research study, sales of ICE (internal combustion engine powered) vehicles in India, China, and most ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) nations is already strong. One quality of popular Asian culture is that they don’t spend much on transportation. This is why foot transit and bicycles are so popular in China. But there’s a big vehicle buying trend going on there at the moment.
Posted: 05 Oct 2012 07:45 AM PDT
Electric Taxis on Two Wheels
The Hopper program is meant to be very flexible public transportation. In practice, it’s a network of electric taxis, except that the taxis are all scooters instead of cars (this is actually a good call for Amsterdam’s narrow, twisty roads).
According to Hopper’s website, you can catch a ride on one of the zero-emission, super-cute scooters by flagging one down on the street, by calling for a ride, by booking a ride on the website, or by using their mobile app (this last option is not actually available yet, but it should work something like San Francisco’s Scoot Networks). Each ride is a flat rate — € 2.50 — regardless of where you go or how long it takes.
Electric vehicles having zero emissions is a no-brainer. Of course it’s better for the environment, of course it’s more sustainable, of course there’s the potential for totally clean power all the way up the chain. Electric vehicles also have fewer moving parts than ICE scooters, and therefore require maintenance less often — if it’s not there, it can’t break.
Scooters, specifically, also make a lot of sense for Amsterdam for two reasons.
The first goes back to emissions — European emissions standards are much laxer for mopeds than cars, which leads to greater pollution potential. Having electric scooters on the street instead of gas-powered mopeds reduces particulate emissions considerably.
The second is the actual streets themselves — have you seen them? They’re gorgeous, but also narrow and twisty and full of lots of moving things, and the one and only time I drove through Amsterdam in a 4-wheeled vehicle, I was sure someone was going to die (probably not me, because I was in the giant metal cage, but still). Scooters and other small vehicles? Way better choice; it’s a matter of tailoring the fleet to the location.
And The Rest Will Follow
Hopper hopes to launch fleets in Rotterdam, The Hague, and Utrecht within six months, and I wish it well with it. Even though inclement weather will sometimes make them a less than comfortable choice, I love the idea of a fleet of electric scooter taxis.
If you’re in Amsterdam, hop on one and let us know how it goes — they’ll be on the streets from 8am to 8pm, and it sounds super fun. Or just let us know what you think of the whole project!
Posted: 05 Oct 2012 04:10 AM PDT
The installation of this new system is relevant because it could greatly alter the way electricity is delivered, potentially bringing “a new design architecture for city electrical grids, allowing them to become smarter, more adaptable, and operate more efficiently.”
“The system stores energy during off-peak periods when rates are low, and then releases the energy during peak periods when prices can be very high. It works as a physical hedge against volatility risk during periods of high demand, effectively capping costs by using energy from storage at times when rates have the potential to skyrocket.”
Posted: 05 Oct 2012 04:07 AM PDT
"This project is intended to stimulate private sector investment and popularise the use of such energies [renewable] among Ugandans for a green economy," said Dr Roberto Ridolfi, the EU delegation to Uganda. "Our motive is to make these energies cheaper and accessible."
"The project works in tripartite arrangements with renewable energy entrepreneurs and financial institutions with a shared objective of increasing access to affordable and sustainable renewable energy in rural areas," reads the EU press statement issued earlier this week.
The EU has signed the Memorandum of Understanding with five renewable energy companies, namely Kirchner Solar Uganda Limited, Incafex Solar Systems Ltd, Moset Investments Ltd, Solar Energy Distributors, and NACO Solar Ltd., to work on this project.
"Each company will partner with a financial institution of her choice to facilitate the project; they have selected parts of the country they will operate in. The programme targets 9,000 households and 1,100 businesses if successful," said Stam Nienke, a project director.
Image Credit: Uganda map & flag colors by TShilo12 (in public domain)
The views presented in the above article are author's personal views only
Posted: 05 Oct 2012 04:01 AM PDT
The 2013 Chanel runway show in Paris Fashion Week included a catwalk that looked like it was made from solar panels and and 13 huge wind turbines (see pictures above). The clothes even had elements of renewable energy, with a turbine graphic on a sweater and a dress that looked to have tiny solar panels on it, according to Greenster.
Chanel Creative Director Karl Lagerfeld may be controversial in his use of furs, but we’re happy to see he’s got his head in the game on renewables.
Photo Credits: Stephan Moskovic (many more photos via that link)
Posted: 05 Oct 2012 04:00 AM PDT
By Neila Columbo
Boston, Massachusetts – With an abundance of 'green' articles at our fingertips on how to make sustainable choices in the daily features of our lives and at home, SCGH is here to help parse through the vast web of information. Alas, these top ten smartphone apps below help us navigate through our day to manage our household and personal life, reduce our environmental footprint and learn some very interesting facts along the way that will impress even the most environmental savant.
iViro help users create more sustainable homes and living spaces. Perform a customized energy analysis to receive a detailed overview of your home's heat, cooling, electricity, water and appliance energy consumption patterns with annual cost and CO2 emission estimates. Additional features provide ideas on energy-saving alternatives and strategies to ensure your home is energy-efficient and cost-efficient while reducing its environmental impact.
A simple yet powerful concept, the EcoCharge app will ring an alarm when electronic devices are fully charged to increase battery life and prevent unnecessary energy use. In place of leaving a cellular phone or laptop continuously charging at home or work when the battery is fully charged, it helps users become more aware of energy use while providing great eco-friendly tips on how to stay connected and energy efficient with our favorite tech gadgets and devices.
GoodGuide provides ratings for products and companies to help consumers assess their environmental, health and social performance. Its iPhone app allows users to browse its database, which includes 170,000 products ranging from food, personal care and household items, to find the most eco-friendly in each category, as well as a barcode scanning feature that provides details such as nutritional value, energy efficiency and ingredients.
Recyclebank rewards its members for making eco-friendly choices, providing points for daily activities such as recycling, water usage, energy efficiency, and purchasing green products. Members can view their points balance, report recycling activity to earn points and order rewards with its app.
Earth911.com's iRecycle connects users to its comprehensive database of 100,000 recycling centers in the U.S.,including information on what can be recycled and what local recycling options are available. As well, the new version has a social sharing feature that allows you to share recycling searches via Facebook and Twitter.
Posted: 05 Oct 2012 03:54 AM PDT
Vestas has its game face on these days, with a powerful 8MW turbine in the works and 68 MW of new turbines set for a wind farm in the UK. The latest news is that twelve 3MW wind turbines have been ordered for three wind farms in northeastern France.
The turbines will be constructed later this year and are expected to be fully functional by mid to late 2013.
Ostwind International ordered the turbines, which come with a 10-year service and maintenance agreement.
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