- First Phase Of 800-MW Solar Project Begins
- Energy Efficiency Wins Big In California Election, But Debate Looms Over Dividing $2.5 Billion
- Can Conservatives Be Convinced On Climate Change?
- Share Of Wind Energy In India REC Scheme Has Increased By 22% In 2012, Total Capacity Has Crosses 2,000 MW
- 10,000 Aerovironment Chargers Installed In U.S., Some May Soon Be Installed At Fiat Studios
- SolarCity Brings 21st Century Energy To 1850′s Army Base
- How To Reverse Global Warming With Heat
- Model R: Next Tesla Roadster
- Gigantic Italian Oil Refiner Switches To Green Diesel
- 2,000 MW Of Solar Reached In Australia
- Using Carbon Taxes In Energy Efficiency Could Boost Economy
- UK PV Installations Reaping Increased Savings & Income
- Global Nissan Leaf Sales Cross 42,700
Posted: 14 Nov 2012 12:00 AM PST
The first phase referenced by Mr Hermann is a 266-megawatt solar farm sited on low-productivity farmland. Mount Signal Solar is the name of the project and it will provide electricity to an estimated 65,000 households. The anticipated completion date is early in 2014. A purchase-power agreement with San Diego Gas and Electric has already been signed.
In April, the Imperial Valley project was reported as being 600 MW, but that appears to be inaccurate. The latter two solar farms were estimated in a press release to have the capacity to power 140,000 homes, when there is enough sunlight.
8minuteenergy has 2,000 MW of solar projects in development in California.
Image Credit: 8minuteenergy
Posted: 13 Nov 2012 04:40 PM PST
California’s Proposition 39 did not get much attention in the months leading up to Tuesday’s election, but voters handily approved the measure to increase taxes on some corporations, with $2.5 billion of the money going for projects to conserve electricity and natural gas consumed by schools and other government buildings.
The appeal to Californians was understandable. Basically, the additional taxes will be paid by companies that sell their products in the state but have relatively few employees and little property here. In turn, $500 million annually for five years will pay for public building retrofit projects, each of which must save taxpayers more on energy costs in the long term than the retrofits cost.
The money can be used for renewable energy installations like solar panels too, but the cost-effectiveness requirement currently favors energy efficiency projects like insulation or modernizing heating, air-conditioning, water, or lighting systems, according to James Sweeney, professor of management science and engineering, and director of the Precourt Energy Efficiency Center at Stanford University.
“Many efficiency improvements can pay for themselves in several years,” said Sweeney.
Under Proposition 39, $500 million to $550 million a year will be spent in three areas: outright grants to cover the costs of projects, low-interest loans for such projects, and workforce training to increase the number of skilled workers available to install the new technologies.
The state legislature is to write, by June, the rules that will determine how the money will be divided among these three groups.
That will require debate, said Sweeney. Cities and school districts in these tough budget times would much prefer grants to loans. Even 1 percent interest loans create more debt on already strained government balance sheets.
Federal stimulus funds that California allocated to energy conservation grants for small cities and counties were taken up quickly, while a related low-interest loan program is still taking applications.
“For public buildings, capital constraints have prevented cost-effective investments to conserve electricity and natural gas. Grants under Prop. 39 will clearly overcome these capital constraints,” said Sweeney.
On the other hand, most policymakers in Sacramento have a strong preference for low-interest loans, which upon repayment can fund additional projects. A significant loan program could leverage the Prop. 39 program far beyond five years and $2.5 billion by conserving more energy and creating more jobs than one-time grants. Such a program might also be extended to private companies rather than just governments.
Under state mandates, half of the proceeds from the higher taxes must go to certain types of spending, primarily public education. After five years, the annual $500 million for energy efficiency will become available for general purposes.
Mark Golden works in communications at the Precourt Energy Efficiency Center at Stanford University.
Precourt Energy Efficiency Center: (650) 724-1629, email@example.com
Posted: 13 Nov 2012 04:31 PM PST
By Mark Golden
SACRAMENTO, Calif.–Opposition to action on global warming may seem to be almost a litmus test for Republican Party candidates, but conservative minds could be changed under the right circumstances, according to several conservative insiders.
The current U.S. policy of subsidizing fossil fuels is not in line with fundamental conservative values, and a deal to change that policy could be struck so long as it reduced the reach of the federal government, according to speakers at the Behavior, Energy & Climate Change conference this Monday.
"Since 1980 our foreign policy has been shaped by the Carter doctrine, which is that the United States should use whatever means necessary, including military intervention, to defend U.S. interests in the Middle East. Our dependence on oil undermines our foreign policy and national security," said the founder of EnerGOP, Drexel Kleber.
The key is to delink energy from environmentalism, said Kleber, a former conservative talk radio host in Texas. "Climate change science is difficult to understand. Energy is personal. It's my son being deployed to a war in Iraq or my loss of hunting grounds to transmission lines under eminent domain or getting in an argument with my wife over the empty checking account due to high gasoline prices," he said. "Meanwhile, we are literally funding the greatest threat to this country–terrorism."
The keys to a deal on climate change, according to Alex Bozmoski of the Energy & Enterprise Institute at George Mason University, would be to drop all subsidies for all forms of energy and to include external costs like defense spending and health impacts in the price of fossil fuels. But revenues from a tax on carbon must be offset by reductions on other taxes and by eliminating the many laws and regulations on greenhouse gases that have been enacted as proxies for such a tax. Preferably, Bozmoski added, conservatives would get to choose which taxes would be reduced.
"Nobody should be allowed to privatize their profits while socializing their costs," he said. "Let energy sources compete on their merits rather than on their ability to secure political influence."
That’s certainly something environmentalists and those in renewable energy industries have argued for, but they’ve been forced to focus on other types of solutions due to strong fossil fuel control over the political process.
"Without a limited-government solution on the table, denying climate change is a reasonable coping mechanism for conservatives," Bozmoski told the predominantly liberal audience. "You need to throw all the talk about 'cap and trade' and 'renewable portfolio standards' on the trash heap of history and develop climate solutions that do not grow government."
According to surveys performed by the Center for Climate Change Communication, also at George Mason University, the distance between conservatives and liberals is not as vast as one might think. Approximately half of registered Republicans would support action on climate change if it boosted clean energy jobs and reduced dependence on imported oil, according to the center's Connie Roser-Renouf, a communications professor. Similarly, about 40 percent of conservatives would support a tax on carbon if the revenues paid down the national debt or reduced other taxes. However, conservatives fear that action on climate change will lead to more government intrusion and higher energy prices, and most do not see how it would improve national security. [Editor's note: very important here is to recognize that these relatively "high" percentages of support for climate change action are not reflected in elected Republican voting or other action on such matters -- as I've noted many times, there's a big difference between what conservative voters want an what conservative politicians do.]
Pessimism is a problem for both conservatives and liberals, Roser-Renouf said. Only 6 percent of Americans, regardless of political affiliation, think that humans can effectively deal with the problem of global warming.
The annual Behavior, Energy & Climate Change conference is sponsored by Stanford University's Precourt Energy Efficiency Center, the California Institute for Energy & the Environment, and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.
Mark Golden works in communications at the Precourt Energy Efficiency Center at Stanford University.
Contact: (650) 724-1629, firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted: 13 Nov 2012 04:05 PM PST
The share of wind energy under the Indian REC (Renewable Energy Certificate Scheme) increased by 22% in 2012, to a capacity of over 2,000 MW (2 GW).
Upwards of 520 wind projects in seven states — Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu — have been officially recognized since the REC scheme was commissioned in 2010.
Posted: 13 Nov 2012 03:56 PM PST
There are many at BMW dealers that offered the ActiveE, and at Nissan dealers.
Even though Aerovironment is Nissan’s preferred charging station vendor, Nissan can still choose other charger brands.
Nissan Leaf owners can purchase 44 kW DC fast chargers for under $20,000, which is terribly expensive, and is unnecessary if they plug in to a 240 volt outlet overnight (since a 240 volt, 13 amp outlet can charge it in 7.7 hours).
More information pertaining to the Fiat deal will surface later, possibly at the upcoming Los Angeles Auto Show, where the all-electric Fiat 500E will be presented.
Source: Autoblog Green
Posted: 13 Nov 2012 03:17 PM PST
The SolarCity Installation at Fort Bliss
The SolarCity project is the third in a series that will eventually cover 120,000 military homes for a total of $1 billion and 300 megawatts. Called SolarStrong, it dovetails with an ongoing Department of Defense initiative to put military housing under private management, which began in 1996. Basically, the housing initiative set up lease agreements that attracted private sector dollars onto military bases.
If the lease agreement setup sounds familiar, it’s the same basic arrangement that SolarCity and other solar companies have used to make solar power affordable (up front) and available to more property owners.
With this platform in hand, the DoD pays no money up front for the solar installations, and that provides a neat buffer between it and certain legislators who are opposed to federal investment in clean energy.
SolarCity, Green Jobs and Veterans
In his Veterans Day address, President Obama promised a renewed focus on services for returning veterans, including jobs. SolarCity is already on board. According to the company, it employs 79 veterans, including its Vice President and architect for SolarStrong.
Fort Bliss as a Green Leader
Fort Bliss is one of a handful of bases selected to lead the Army Net Zero initiative, which just like the name says envisions vast, sprawling complexes that use no more energy than they can generate on site (or at least locally), send no waste off site, and use only locally available water.
That not only calls for projects on the bases themselves, it also calls for a new level of community interaction. As one standout example, Fort Bliss has initiated a project to help solve the waste disposal problem of nearby El Paso by using it as feedstock for a solar hybrid waste-to-energy facility at the base.
Aside from installing solar energy, Fort Bliss is also looking to tap its geothermal potential. According to one recent study, as a group, DoD lands have enough geothermal potential to power military facilities and provide energy to the civilian grid, too.
Follow me on Twitter:@TinaMCasey
Posted: 13 Nov 2012 03:08 PM PST
Most people know what anthropogenic global warming is. Even climate deniers have some idea of how it works, though they may pretend it’s not happening. The technical details of anthropogenic global warming are as follows:
There’s obviously a lot more to it than that, but this is the basic science behind it.
A lot of people are operating under the mistaken assumption that moving the human production of CO2 to zero will fix the problem, but this is not necessarily true, for several reasons.
For earth to remain habitable, and for us to continue to enjoy our lifestyle, we must be removing carbon from the atmosphere, not simply reducing the amount we add. Unfortunately, there are not many known ways to reliably do this. One way that is known, however, is pyrolysis.
Pyrolysis is the exposure of organic material to heat in an anaerobic environment. Without oxygen, high-energy hydrogen compounds break off the organic material and leave relatively inert carbon behind. This resulting material is known as biochar, and is reputed to be wonderful fertiliser, as well as a sink for carbon that would otherwise escape back into the atmosphere.
Another thing that heat can be used for is energy storage. Renewable sources of energy face a huge hurdle in replacing chemical fossil energy because they are not available on demand. One of the ways engineers have gotten around this is to store energy from the sun in the form of molten salt. These solar thermal designs have proven their ability to provide 100% renewable baseload power.
Check out the Gemasolar 24-hour solar plant.
The configuration of heat storage, pyrolysis, and manufacturing could be done in any number of ways:
One might take the industrial heat from smelting or raw materials production and store it to create electricity later. One might produce biogas directly from electricity and export it or store it to generate power when needed. One might immediately oxidize the biogas created to generate a two-phase, ultra-efficient electrical generation system in the manner of combined cycle natural gas power plants.
If society were to do any of this, it would be a win-win-win-win-win-win-win-win scenario.
Posted: 13 Nov 2012 04:10 AM PST
Tesla expanded and offered the Model S, as well as the Roadster Sport (which accelerates from zero to sixty mph in 3.7 seconds). The company intends to offer a “Model X” in the future, and now word on the street is that the following vehicle from the electric car leader will be the Model R.
The Model R is actually going to be a rehash of the Tesla Roadster. The original Roadster had a range of 244 miles per charge, and a top speed which was electronically limited to 125 mph. 125 mph sounds low, but that is above pretty much all speed limits, so it doesn’t matter, because you can’t drive any car at 125 mph almost anyplace you fo. The Model R is supposed to be even faster than the Tesla Roadster (no surprise there).
Focusing on one car may yield better results than spreading oneself thin designing many. Although, the design challenges associated with making the Model S affordable may teach the company how to make even its high-end cars more cost-competitive with the competition.
Designing more cars certainly does give the company more experience.
Posted: 13 Nov 2012 03:30 AM PST
In the midst of continuing economic travails across Europe, the largest petroleum refiner in Italy is placing a bet on biofuels. The Italian energy company Eni S.p.A. will retrofit one of its diesel refineries in Venice to produce renewable diesel, using a system designed by the Illinois-based Honeywell company UOP. The switch will eventually ecompass Eni’s entire operation in Venice and, if the project is a success, it could serve as a model for putting underused fossil fuel facilities back to work in the new green economy right here in the U.S.A.
Converting a Diesel Refinery to Renewable Diesel
Honeywell calls the new process UOP/Eni Ecofining, since it was developed jointly by UOP and Eni. Converting an existing refinery to Ecofining is fairly straightforward. The process does not require unusual extremes of heat or pressure and the resulting product, Green Diesel, is chemically identical to its petroleum counterpart.
“The process for producing green diesel operates in mild conditions and integrates well within existing petroleum refineries,” according to UOP.
The two-step process can use oils from conventional biofuel crops like soy and palm, but in practice UOP and Eni have already moved on to next-generation, non-edible oils such as algae oil. Also notably included are inedible animal tallow (waste from meat processors) and waste grease, which otherwise present thorny disposal issues.
How Ecofining Works
To simplify the procedure down to the bones (you can find complete details at UOP’s Green Diesel pages) — first the feedstock is pressurized and mixed with hydrogen, then sent to a catalytic reactor where it is deoxygenated. This part of the process yields propane, water, and carbon dioxide as byproducts.
After the byproducts are removed, the resulting diesel gets another dose of hydrogen gas and is sent to a second reactor for further processing.
The final distillation steps yield more byproducts including additional propane. Leftover hydrogen is also recaptured and sent back to the two reactors.
As for the Green Diesel product itself, because it is chemically identical to petroleum, it can be used as a drop-in substitute, without any modifications to the vehicle or its engine, or to the fueling infrastructure.
UOP also claims that Green Diesel provides better performance than conventional biodiesel, especially in cold weather.
Ecofining in the U.S.A.
Ecofining is already making inroads in the U.S. market, with the announcement last spring of a new Ecofining facility in Louisiana, built by the Chicago-based biofuel company Emerald Biofuels.
That’s great as far as new refinery construction goes, but of much greater interest to environmental advocates in the U.S. is the potential for switching existing petroleum refineries to biofuel, since that could pull the rug out from under the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline.
The Keystone XL project would not necessarily provide more oil to the U.S. market. Its purpose is to convey tar sands oil from Canada to the global market, through Gulf Coast refineries.
So far, the Obama Administration has resisted approving the pipeline on environmental grounds. Keystone advocates have muddied the issue by arguing that the “shovel-ready” project will create badly needed construction jobs, and it will preserve jobs in the refining sector.
However, the emergence of conversion-friendly biorefining alternatives like Ecofining pretty much eliminates that argument. After all, if the creation and preservation of energy jobs is what it’s all about, there’s plenty of work to go around.
Image Credit: Ecofining, courtesy of UOP
Follow me on Twitter: @TinaMCasey
Posted: 13 Nov 2012 03:00 AM PST
In July, there were about 1,700 MW of solar PV on an estimated 750,000 homes. This figure was about 10% of the total number of homes in the country. Currently, however, Australia’s main power source is still coal. Queensland and NSW are two of the areas with the most solar PV.
(For the sake of comparison, note that Germany installed 1,000 MW of solar in just September of 2012!)
As indicated by this long write-up on CleanTechnica awhile back, the way forward in Australia is not entirely clear: “Those on the inside of the PV industry can smell economic parity; we can see it and taste it in many parts of the world, including Australia's retail market and we know how fast it is going to accelerate. It won't come without bumps and wobbles and it isn't a silver bullet. But it is grossly underestimated and with their own confirmation bias I suspect the deniers are failing to open up to what's really going on around them.”
Australia’s solar power future is likely to be very bright, with 15 GW of concentrated solar power potential alone.
Posted: 13 Nov 2012 02:30 AM PST
Investing funds in an energy efficiency program would provide several bonuses that other options simply cannot match. In addition to creating a cleaner energy system, such a program would be fast to mobilise, and would stimulate economic activity and create jobs across the whole of the United Kingdom. Such a program would employ workers in construction and parallel sectors, industries which have been particularly hard-hit by the recent economic recession.
On top of all of this, investing in energy efficiency would be less likely to ‘crowd out’ alternative economic activity, and would reduce the National Health Service’s expenditure on treating cold-related illnesses prevented by heating and enhanced by pollution.
Of course, with any energy efficiency scheme, there is a direct impact on fuel poverty, an issue affecting over six million UK households, a number that is expected to continue to grow as the energy prices continue to soar.
“Fuel poverty leaves millions of households having to cut back on essentials like food and heating to make ends meet,” O’Connor continued. “The Government's current energy efficiency and fuel poverty plans will only touch the tip of this iceberg. However, Government has the opportunity to use the large and stable revenues from carbon taxes to deliver the most breathtaking and transformative energy efficiency scheme that we have ever seen.”
“The Energy Bill Revolution is the biggest fuel poverty alliance that has ever been formed in the UK,” added Ed Matthew, Director of the Energy Bill Revolution campaign. “We are united by our conviction that there is a financial solution which can end the suffering and generate more jobs than any equivalent investment. This is the Marshall Plan the UK needs to slash the energy bills of the most vulnerable and re-build the economy.”
Posted: 13 Nov 2012 02:00 AM PST
"The average size of solar PV installations has increased from 3kWp to 3.5kWP, which basically means households are generating more electricity and therefore more savings and Feed-in Tariff income,” said Ian Cuthbert, renewables expert from the Energy Saving Trust. ”It is clear that UK households are increasingly looking to get the maximum yield for their roof to maximise the benefits of the solar installation."
Data prior to the beginning of November showed that the average combined savings and income for PV-installed households was approximately £540 per year. The new figures, however, show that this has increased to £635. The updated savings and income figures were published alongside data revealing that a third of UK residents have been approached with the idea of installing solar panels on their homes, but only four percent decided to purchase a solar power system.
"We hope the latest data and figures will provide householders, whose homes are appropriate for solar panels, with the reassurance that they will be making significant savings and income as a result of the installation,” Cuthbert added. “These savings could be even higher if householders take steps to reduce the amount they export to the grid by shifting some of their electrical demand to during the day when the solar PV system is generating. For example, using the washing machine during the day instead of at night.”
Energy Saving Trust worked out the new figures for solar PV installation income and savings through the following:
When looking to install solar panels, the Energy Saving Trust has produced the following recommendations and guidance to help households:
Posted: 13 Nov 2012 01:00 AM PST
While global sales of the electric vehicles have been solid, US sales have been bumpy, but have also edged upward.
The Japanese carmaker sold 1,579 units of the zero-emission vehicle in October, a significant 76% increase from one year before in October, 2011.
In an effort to gain more branding awareness of the Leaf, Nissan recently started a global campaign to boost sales further:
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