Sunday, November 18, 2012

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Link to CleanTechnica

Siemens Wind Power Video — Classic

Posted: 17 Nov 2012 03:05 PM PST

This Siemens wind power video is awesome. Well thought out, well implemented, clever, attractive, excellent. Check it out:

Notably, wind power is now the cheapest form of electricity in many (perhaps most) places. Even without proper pricing of pollution (which would make coal and natural gas electricity much more expensive), wind power is the best option for those who want cheap electricity.

Siemens is certainly on to something with its emphasis on wind, and I imagine it (as one of the world’s top wind turbine producers) has done a lot to bring the cost of this clean technology down.

Interview With Jonathan Kraft, President Of The Kraft Group

Posted: 17 Nov 2012 12:11 PM PST

Yet another one of the great speakers who will be at Total Energy USA this year is Jonathan Kraft of The Kraft Group. Due to our relationship with the conference, like my interview opportunity with Gordon Gill of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, I had the chance to interview Jonathan Kraft this week. Again, it was a really interesting one, and I’m grateful Jonathan gave us such thorough responses to the questions. Check out the full interview:

1. I know The Kraft Group has been making a clear move towards clean energy, incorporating clean energy into some big projects. I’m curious (and have my own hunch), what prompted the company to do so?

As a group of businesses that have a high public profile through our sports entities and having experienced how we can make an impact in the community through our charitable efforts, we have applied that same philosophy with our green initiatives. By trying to lead in that area, we hope it encourages our fans and our partners to do the same.

Our highest profile business is sports, but our largest business area is paper product and packaging manufacturing, an industry that gave us significant early exposure to green initiatives and technology. In 1995, one of our companies, Rand-Whitney Containerboard, built the world's first paper mill to use 100 percent recycled water in its operation. We also use 100 percent post consumer waste in the production of linerboard, which is then used in our packaging manufacturing. In 2004, we built a natural-gas fired cogeneration plant that provides electricity and steam to the mill. Cogeneration, combined with other heat recovery and conservation initiatives, allows us to run a power plant that is over 80 percent efficient. Combined with state of the art pollution controls – its carbon footprint is 40% lower than conventional systems. We are currently looking at other opportunities as well – like cogenerating energy at our box-making plant in Worcester and converting carbon in the mill's wastewater into a biogas. Rand-Whitney Recycling, another one of our companies, is a market leader in recovering and re-sourcing materials that would otherwise end up in landfills.

We had all of that knowledge from our business experience when we set out to build Gillette Stadium. We privately financed the project and had complete control, which gave us the opportunity to incorporate long-term sustainability and energy efficiency into the design. This was 1999-2002, before it was automatically considered good business among sports venue owners and managers, but we knew that if we maintained that focus we would realize cost efficiencies in the long term. We incorporated features like a wastewater reuse system that saves 11 million gallons of water annually, and a lighting efficiency system. We have also pursued some projects simply because we thought they were the right thing to do. We committed significant resources to "daylighting" a stretch of the Neponset River on our property that had been buried in a culvert 50 years, then did 6,000 native plantings and created a protected river corridor. We have carried all of these efforts forward through our renewable power efforts at Patriot Place.

2. I’m also curious why specific technologies were chosen over others in some of your landmark projects. In particular, a 1.1 MW solar canopy project at Gillette Stadium and Patriot Place that covers about 60% of Patriot Place’s electricity needs, and another big (0.5 MW) solar PV project at Patriot Place.

An NFL stadium is unique in that it consumes relatively little energy most of the time, and then on 15-25 dates each year, when you have a full stadium event like a football game or a concert, it requires a huge energy load. Other than renewable energy credits, which we have used to offset in the past, there are limited opportunities at an NFL stadium to truly implement renewable in a practical way. When we constructed Patriot Place, it created opportunities to implement technologies that would have a material impact on our carbon footprint. Fortunately we have had partners like NRG who are creative and forward-thinking in their approach to practical applications of renewable energy. The solar canopy project serves multiple goals. In addition to generating solar power, it provides shade and weather cover for our guests and promotes clean energy technology to the hundreds of thousands of people who walk through Patriot Place each year. It has been a great partnership with NRG that we hope to build on.

3. Also, I read about a wind turbine going in at Patriot Place last December, but I haven’t heard anything about that since then. Is that still on the table, or was it nixed due to zoning laws or some other matter?

We have been studying wind for a long time and are excited about the possibilities. Even in the time that we have gotten serious about it the technology has advanced significantly. We are lucky to have a site that has the elevation and wind profile to support a high-output turbine, but we want to be smart in how we integrate it into our long-term development plans.

4. Other cool green initiatives I notice at Patriot Place are 700,000 square feet of white roofs and Magink video technology that you say uses a third of the energy of LEDs! How have those been performing for you? Have you seen a noticeable drop in energy use from the white roofs, and is that Magink video technology (which I’ve never heard of) really that much more efficient than LEDs (which we love here on CleanTechnica, due to their great efficiency)?

The white roofs were part of Patriot Place's original design to reduce energy consumption from heating and air conditioning. It is one aspect of an overall energy management system. Being our newest large-scale project, Patriot Place is certainly the most energy efficient and of course we enjoy costs savings as a result. Every time there is a new project, there are new opportunities. When we constructed The Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon, which houses the Patriots Hall of Fame and is a high-tech interactive experience for Patriots fans, we wanted to give each of our Patriots Hall of Famers a larger than life digital display. Our goal was to construct 30-foot high, indoor, double-sided interactive video pylons that would be visible from both inside the building and from the plaza outside. It was a tall order, but we found an Israeli company that was creating digital ink technology that displays video but emits no light or heat. It is reflective, so the stronger the natural light the brighter the display, which was unheard of at the time for video displays. It is a great example of seeking out the right technology to tackle a particular challenge, and in this case it was also extremely energy efficient, which is obviously something we care about. This was 2008, so I'm not sure how the technology compares — from an energy efficiency standpoint — to today's LED technology, which we also love. We currently have the largest outdoor HD LED video board in an NFL stadium.

Recognition For PV Supply Chain Partners: 5 Companies Garner First Solar 2012 NOVA Awards

Posted: 17 Nov 2012 08:36 AM PST

Surviving, much less thriving, in today’s maturing solar energy market and industry is quite an accomplishment in and of itself. That’s especially true if your company is independently owned and started from scratch. Tempe, Arizona–based First Solar has certainly had its fair share of ups, downs, and organizational changes in the past two to three years, but one thing that management and workforce continue to be recognized for is their advanced manufacturing prowess. There have been missteps and failures of note, but the company has earned and continues to produce the highest performance cadmium-telluride (CdTe) thin film PV cells and modules at the lowest cost industry-wide. That’s a quite notable achievement for an independent US-based manufacturer.

That said, solar photovoltaic (PV) market participants — as is true for many businesses today, manufacturing businesses in particular — rely on a network of suppliers that can extend around the globe in seeing to their business needs. First Solar is no exception. What’s also somewhat exceptional about the company, however, is the degree and extent of management’s efforts to promote core social and environmental (as well as economic, engineering, and manufacturing) values and ethics not only in-house but across its supply chain.

Recognition, in turn, can play a big role in promoting core values, ethics, and organizational motivation. On Nov. 13, First Solar management took time out to recognize its top suppliers for a second year running with its 2012 Achievement Awards. Some 160 of First Solar’s top suppliers attended the event. Five were "honored with the company’s NOVA award for outstanding performance in 2012," according to a First Solar press release.



First Solar’s Top 5 Supply Chain Partners

Reflective of the global span of First Solar’s supply chain, the five recipients of 2012 NOVA awards were advanced materials supplier Morgan Crucible Company; Nippon Sheet Glass (NSG), one of the world’s largest glass manufacturers; global logistics company Expeditors International; provider of thin-film deposition applications Oryx Advanced Materials; and Rapid Manufacturing, a global manufacturer of custom cable/wire harnesses.

“Our suppliers play a critical role in fulfilling our mission to create enduring value by enabling a world powered by clean, affordable solar electricity,” First Solar VP, Global Supply Chain Shellie Molina stated. “We appreciate the exceptional efforts of these NOVA award recipients and the value they provide through the highest standards of quality, cost and performance.”

Each 2012 NOVA award recipient contributed to First Solar’s ability to achieve its business goals in a manner consistent with the broader social and environmental values and ethics it seeks to espouse.

Collaboration with Morgan Crucible enabled First Solar to substantially improve critical materials processing at lower costs in line with its efficiency roadmap, according to the press release.

Oryx Advanced Materials’ own R&D efforts "contributed substantially" to cost reductions at First Solar.

Expediters International is paving the way for the Tempe-based thin-film PV company to enter new markets in compliance with all local laws and regulations.

Rapid Manufacturing, for its part, "has demonstrated a commitment to First Solar initiatives, providing notable flexibility on project support," First Solar management noted in making this year’s awards.

Photo Credit: First Solar

Tesla Model S Is 2013 Motor Trend Car Of The Year

Posted: 17 Nov 2012 08:18 AM PST

The Tesla Model S sedan has been deemed the 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year. Many people may be wondering why an electric car would get such a prestigious recommendation — after all, they are slow and have short driving range, right? Fortunately, that isn’t the case.

Tesla Model S

Electric propulsion technology can be slow and have short range, as can any gasoline-powered car that has a small gas tank, poor design, and small propulsion system.

Or, it can utilize larger batteries and a more powerful but more expensive propulsion system to achieve 300-mile range (depending on configuration) and a zero to sixty mph acceleration time of 4.4 seconds… like the Tesla Model S.

Apart from the capability of electric cars to compare in performance respects with gasoline-powered cars, they can also offer a unique combination of qualities that ICE (internal combustion engine) cars cannot, such as efficiency, exceptional torque, no engine noise or vibration (and the resulting comfort from that), and no emissions (plus long range and high speed).

Normally, ICE-powered cars are either fast or efficient, or you have to choose between luxury and efficiency, but you can’t get all three from them. Electric cars can achieve efficiency better than that of a small Prius, and acceleration better than that of the vast majority of cars — look at the Tesla Roadster.

According to Motor Trend editor Angus MacKenzie, the Model S is "…like a sports car, eager and agile and instantly responsive. But it's also as smoothly effortless as a Rolls-Royce, can carry almost as much stuff as a Chevy Equinox, and is more efficient than a Toyota Prius. Oh, and it'll sashay up to the valet at a luxury hotel like a supermodel working a Paris catwalk."

Source: Gas 2.0
Photo Credit: Gas 2.0

EU Commission Postpones International Airline Tax

Posted: 17 Nov 2012 07:46 AM PST

The European Union (EU) on January 1, 2012 introduced a law that imposes a carbon tax on flights to and from European airports. This ran up against strong resistance from the United States, China, and India; and a Republican senator in the U.S. even introduced a bill that would ban U.S. airlines from paying the tax. (Notably, while not all American airlines are ready to combat climate change, some are trying.)

The European Commission has now exempted non-European airlines from paying the tax for 1 year. Climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard said she agreed to “stop the clock” to create a positive atmosphere in which the issue of airline emissions could be discussed.

Airplane taking off via Shutterstock.

“But let me be very clear: if this exercise does not deliver — and I hope it does — then, needless to say, we are back to where we are today with the EU ETS (emissions trading scheme). Automatically.”

“While I am pleased the EU has temporarily suspended its efforts to unilaterally impose a tax on our airlines flying over U.S. and international airspace, the EU’s announcement does not rule out future efforts to tax foreign carriers,” said Senator John Thune, who led efforts in the U.S. Senate to block the law.

“China always maintains that under the multilateral mechanism, such as the UNFCCC,… international cooperation should be carried out to tackle climate change,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters in Beijing. ”We should oppose unilateral measures.”

German Environment Minister Peter Altmaier said the decision was justified. “It made clear that the EU is holding on to its view, but at the same time it is also in the position to stick to its international commitments and actions,” he said.

A year from now, the international airline tax will be reinstated if an alternative isn’t agreed upon.

In other recent news along these lines, Norway last month introduced the world’s largest carbon tax.

Source: Reuters

New Book Sparks Climate Suit Against The Netherlands

Posted: 17 Nov 2012 07:28 AM PST

A new Dutch book written by ‘the climate-lawyer’ Roger H.J. Cox has sparked a lawsuit being filed against the Dutch government, claiming that the Netherlands is under a legal obligation to reduce its CO2 emissions by as much as 40% by 2020 and up to 95% by 2050.

New Book Sparks Climate Lawsuit

The book provided not only the impetus but a blueprint for such lawsuits, and a call for similar suits to be levied against many other Western nations.

The book is backed by world-renowned American climate scientist James Hansen, who was the first to receive an English translation of the work at the book’s launch in The Hague. Author and Dutch attorney Roger H.J. Cox thinks reaching a wider audience with the English translation is important: “Multiple climate cases throughout Europe and in other Western countries will speed up the process toward an energy revolution that is demanded by citizens. This is why we worked hard to make the translation available as soon as possible, so potential petitioners in other countries can use it as a working document for their climate suits.”

“In the climate and energy debate we need more pressure and involvement from the public, willing to defend our rights and those of our children and grandchildren using all the means of our laws to achieve justice,” added Hansen.

Author Cox argues that without the legal intervention outlined in the text, Western nations are at risk of “committing domestic human rights violations on a scale nobody had thought to ever see again after World War II.”

With the fast-paced readability of a crime novel, Revolution Justified leaves no room for reassuring doubt or denial about the huge societal challenges of oil decline, climate change and the failure of democracy. Meticulously substantiated with a wide array of international scientific, journalistic and even military sources, the text draws readers into a tightening stranglehold that eases only in the final section. Here, the reader learns how the judiciary may yet rescue the climate and break through the status quo in the energy world to prevent the literal downfall of Western society.

The book can be purchased from the website RevolutionJustified.

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