Friday, November 23, 2012

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

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Thank You

Posted: 22 Nov 2012 05:23 PM PST

 
I know not all of our readers are American, but that doesn’t mean we can’t send you a big thanks today. Really, I send out my thanks to you all every day… just silently. I’m extremely grateful to be in this position, extremely grateful to have such a wonderful community of readers, and extremely grateful that we have the solutions we need (just have to implement them much faster).

I just ran across this short little infographic, so thought I’d share it with you all:

Source: Golden Eagles Coaching via Greenster


Infographic: Fastest Hybrid & Electric Vehicles In The World

Posted: 22 Nov 2012 11:23 AM PST

 
Some of the fastest known electric and hybrid vehicles in the world include the electric Eliica car, Porsche 918 Spyder hybrid car, Tesla Roadster, Tesla Model S, and, of course, plenty of electric trains.

The 0-60 mph acceleration speed of some of these electric speedsters are as follows:

  1. Hybrid Porsche 918 Spyder – 2.9 seconds.
  2. Tesla Roadster Sport – 3.7 seconds.
  3. Tesla Roadster – 3.9 seconds.
  4. Eliica limousine – 4 seconds.
  5. Tesla Model S – 4.4 seconds.

Electric trains are in a category of their own, because they are the fastest land vehicles in the world, attaining speeds of up to 357 mph.

For a closer look at these vehicles and much more info, check out this infographic:

Source: Autoblog Green


Ferrari Hybrid Supercar Could Weigh Under 2,500 Pounds

Posted: 22 Nov 2012 10:59 AM PST

 
Electric and hybrid supercars are getting more and more common, and have helped change the old conception that hybrid and electric cars can’t be fast. Now, an upcoming Ferrari flywheel hybrid supercar may weigh a mere 2,500 pounds or less.

The supercar uses a flywheel to store energy and provide it with a power boost when desired.

The body of this Ferrari hybrid is expected to be 20% lighter than the Ferrari Enzo, and should reduce its emissions by 40%.

Most people know that the weight of automobiles has an impact on its efficiency and performance, but what matters is how much.

To give you an idea of just how significant the issue of vehicle weight is, almost all of the power that a vehicle requires is dedicated to moving the vehicle’s own weight — the weight of the passengers is nothing compared to it. This is one of multiple reasons why small cars and motorcycles are more fuel-efficient than large cars.

To read more about this Ferrari hybrid supercar, check out Gas2‘s post: Ferrari Hybrid Supercar Could Weigh Under 2,500 Pounds.


SUNY Buffalo Is Shutting Down Controversial ‘Fracking’ Institute Over Credibility Concerns

Posted: 22 Nov 2012 07:04 AM PST

 
The State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo recently announced that it was shutting down its controversial, and heavily-criticized, Shale Resources and Society Institute. It is shutting it down due to concerns regarding the credibility of its research, a lack of consistency in disclosing its financial interests, and an insufficient faculty presence.

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The institute, which was devoted to the ‘study’ of hydraulic fracturing, was heavily criticized after the release of its first study back in May, due to its very noticeable bias towards the oil and gas industry.

In an address to the “university community," President Satish K. Tripathi said: "It is imperative that our faculty members adhere to rigorous standards of academic integrity, intellectual honesty, transparency and the highest ethical conduct in their work."

The University of Texas at Austin is currently conducting a similar investigation of a fracking study that it released earlier this year. It came out that one of the professors who ‘fostered’ the study was on the board of a gasoline company… and had never disclosed that.

These controversies are a bellwether of sorts. There have been growing concerns about the influence of corporate money in academic research, especially now that government grants are declining.


 
The recent investigation and subsequent closure seems to be due almost entirely to grassroots efforts. The University came under significant pressure from “professors, students and some SUNY trustees to close its shale institute, with a petition with more than 10,500 signatures.”

"The people who signed the petition feel that their public university needs to remain a public university and not a mouthpiece for corporations," said Jim Holstun, an English professor at the university who questioned the credibility of the institute.

The study had stated that drilling was becoming much safer in Pennsylvania thanks to state regulation, and that New York's pending rules would create the same effect.

After the study was released, the Public Accountability Initiative, which is a local government watchdog group, began questioning some of the study's data and conclusions. And also questioning the lack of full disclosure from its lead authors, who have conducted research directly for the industry.

Amongst them, the third author, and the shale institute's co-director, John P. Martin, worked for the industry doing planning and public relations.

Dr. Tripathi has said “that as a result of the transparency issues raised by the now-defunct shale institute, a committee that includes the faculty senate would meet to recommend how to strengthen policies for disclosing financial interests and sources of support in research going forward. He said the university would continue to pursue studies on energy and the environment.”

Source: The New York Times
Image: Fracking diagram by Moto202 (some rights reserved)


Algeria Targets 22,000 MW Of Renewable Energy By 2030

Posted: 22 Nov 2012 06:50 AM PST

 
North African country Algeria is upping the ante in the renewable energy game. According to a recent PV-Tech article, the country hopes to have 22 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy online by the year 2030, with a good part being exported on the international market.

State-owned utility Sonelgaz, is expected to build 4.2 GW of renewables itself, providing underlying support towards Algeria's goal.

Next year will see the first phase of the ambitious project, which will eventually include solar photovoltaic energy, concentrated solar power, and wind energy. As noted by PV Tech:

The first phase, which is expected to start in 2013, will include 1,228MW from PV power plants, followed by 2,475MW of concentrated solar (CSP) and 516MW of wind energy by 2022.

Besides Sonelgaz's commitment to wind and solar, the utility also has a deal with the Desertec CHP project, to look at possibly exporting 1 GW to European countries.

With lots of sun to harness, Algeria, if it succeeds, could be a renewable energy market to watch out for in the years to come.


Home Depot Now Offering 30 Electric Vehicle Chargers Online

Posted: 22 Nov 2012 05:14 AM PST

 
It's a sign of the times and a testament to consumer demand when one of the largest home renovation stores is helping to boost clean transportation technology.

Home Depot, which is now offering 30 different types of electric vehicle (EV) charger models for sale online, up from 5 in 2011, according to a recent TreeHugger article.

EV Charging Station via Chesky/Shutterstock

Some of the brand names of EV chargers Home Depot now offers to consumers include: Siemens, Eaton, General Electric, Leviton, and Schneider.

Prices for EV chargers range from $699 to $7,999, depending on the model, charge, and function.
 

 
Besides not running on fossil fuels (a huge plus), one of the benefits EVs have over vehicles run on fossil fuels is that they can replenish on energy more often and more easily thanks to the fact that they are parked the large majority if the time. As Treehugger notes:

“This means that if you have a way to charge where you park (at home, at the office, in the parking lot of businesses, etc), you can drive off with a full charge almost all the time. This is a completely different dynamic from gas and diesel vehicles, and it does a lot to mitigate the shorter driving range of EVs (for now — batteries improve every year), and for longer distances, super-fast public charging stations are already starting to be built (including the amazing free-to-use Supercharger network by Tesla).

As the popularity of electric vehicles continues to advance, so will the growth of electric chargers, which are expected by 2020 to increase to 11.4 million units, according to a Pike Research report.


Large-Scale Power Projects Undermine the CDM

Posted: 22 Nov 2012 04:59 AM PST

 
In less than a week, world leaders, government negotiators, industry, and civil society will converge on Doha, Qatar, for COP18. They will discuss how the global community can get itself out of the current climate mess. What’s clear is that, in terms of solutions, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) should not be a prominent one. A new Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) policy brief argues just this.

The World Bank-funded Bujagali Dam, which drowned a treasured waterfall and forced hundreds from their lands, was registered by the CDM for 858,000 CERs.

The brief – Transitioning away from large-scale power projects: A simple and effective fix for the CDM? – shows how large-scale power supply projects such as large hydro and coal undermine the integrity of the CDM. Instead, it proposes that governments and the CDM administration transition away from them. The policy brief builds on an analysis they conducted for the CDM Policy Dialogue, which was published in late October in the report Assessing the Impact of the CDM.

Below are its key findings:

  • Despite years of development, experience, and revision, the Clean Development Mechanism's method for assessing additionality remains controversial and contested. For some project types, additionality is relatively certain, but for large-scale power supply projects, which are expected to generate the majority of CDM credits going forward, additionality is hard to demonstrate with high confidence.
  • The value and integrity of the CDM may hinge on the net emissions impact of these large-scale power supply projects. If they are truly additional and operate well beyond the credit issuance period, they can lead to a decrease in global greenhouse gas emissions. If they are mostly non-additional, as research suggests, they could increase cumulative global greenhouse gas emissions by over a gigaton of CO2e through 2020. [Emphasis added]
  • A transition away from such CDM projects could help address the over-supply of certified emission reductions (CERs), support projects that truly depend on CERs, and improve the CDM's overall mitigation impact. However, such a transition would need to be carefully considered, bearing in mind governance and legal aspects and the need for investor confidence.

Currently, the oversupply of CERs has plummeted the price of each CER to approximately €1 apiece. According to the High  Level Panel, between 2013 and 2020, the excess of CERs could be as many as 1.25 billion. However, says SEI, a transition away from large-scale infrastructure projects (those greater than 15 MW) could reduce this over-supply and instead refocus attention on more effective ways of supporting the low-carbon energy sector while reducing emissions, such as through nationally appropriate policies and measures (NAMAs; these include renewable energy standards, feed-in tariffs, efficiency programs and standards), domestic emission trading systems, and carbon taxes.

Why target large-scale power projects? Because researchers have shown for years that the most serious additionality concerns are attached to large-scale projects like hydropower, as well as wind, natural gas, high-efficiency coal, waste energy, and to a lesser extent, biomass. Such large-scale projects simply do not need CDM support, because they are already common practice in their countries, enjoying benefits such as feed-in tariffs, mandates, and other forms of government or private support and incentives.

In addition, according to SEI, “the CDM, on average, has a small effect (e.g. ~3% for wind and hydropower) on the expected rate of return of power sector projects,” and compared to other normal variations in economic factors, it is unclear whether the CDM provided enough of an incentive for projects to happen. In other words, continued use of non-additional CERs from large-scale projects could actually increase global emissions of greenhouse gases, rather than mititgate or reduce them (as was the original intended purpose of the CDM). While power projects only represent a quarter of CERs issued so far, they are expected to generate almost 70% of total CERs from 2013 to 2020, with large-scale projects representing 90% of those power-sector CERs.

The SEI policy briefing also warns against some of the short-term fixes recommended by the CDM Policy Dialogue, one of which is for the Green Climate Fund or other funds to buy up and cancel the surplus CERs. The brief warns that such an option could be costly, divert climate finance from other mitigation or adaptation activities, and that its mitigation benefit would be uncertain due to the poor confidence in the additionality of these registered projects. The only effective and straight-forward solution, therefore, is to transition away from large-scale power projects.

How do you accomplish such a transition? The SEI briefing offers the following recommendations:

  • The CMP and the CDM Executive Board should consider steps to graduate large-scale power supply projects from the CDM, such as ceasing registrations and crediting period renewals of these projects.
  • Buying countries should consider disallowing purchase of CERs from large-scale power supply projects after a certain date and/or credit vintage.
  • Countries should support mechanisms other than project-based offsets to promote lower-carbon power.

 

 
Ultimately, what this policy brief confirms is that if we are to counter the current climate crisis, we need to move beyond offsetting and towards more direct and certain forms of reducing our carbon footprint. With recent reminders like Hurricane Sandy, there is no time like the present for serious climate action.

Katy Yan is the China Program Coordinator and a climate campaigner at International Rivers. She blogs at: www.internationalrivers.org/blog/246


Creating Rainbows Using Nanoscale Structures May Lead To Better Solar Cells And LED-Displays

Posted: 22 Nov 2012 04:30 AM PST

 
This article has been reposted from Solar Love with full permission.

Researchers from King’s College London have developed a detailed process to separate colors and create ‘rainbows’ on a metal surface by utilizing nanoscale structures. This method will likely lead to improved solar cells and LED displays, according to the researchers.

The modern discovery of how to separate and project different colors was actually also made at King’s College, more than 150 years ago. This discovery led to the development of color televisions and other displays. In modern research, the primary goal has been for the manipulation of color on the nanoscale. When this capability is further developed it will lead to great changes in imaging and spectroscopy, the sensing of chemical and biological agents, and also (likely) to better solar cells, LED displays, and TV screens.

In the new research, light of different colors was ‘trapped’ at different positions of a nanostructured area, by using nanostructures designed specifically for this function. Specific to the nanostructure’s geometry, a ‘trapped’ rainbow “could be created on a gold film that has the dimension on the order of a few micrometers — about 100 times smaller than the width of a human hair.”

Professor Anatoly Zayats explains: “Nanostructures of various kinds are being considered for solar cell applications to boost light absorption efficiency. Our results mean that we do not need to keep solar cells illuminated at a fixed angle without compromising the efficiency of light coupling in a wide range of wavelengths. When used in reverse for screens and displays, this will lead to wider viewing angles for all possible colors.”

The primary difference between natural rainbows and these artificial rainbows is that the researchers can actually control where and in what order the colors appear, simply by altering the nanostructures’ parameters. And in addition to this, they can also separate colors to appear on different sides of the nanostructures.


 
Co-author Dr Jean-Sebastien Bouillard says: “The effects demonstrated here will be important to provide ‘color’ sensitivity in infrared imaging systems for security and product control. It will also enable the construction of microscale spectrometers for sensing applications.”

“The ability to couple light to nanostructures with multicolour characteristics will be of major importance for light capturing devices in a huge range of applications, from light sources, displays, photo detectors and solar cells to sensing and light manipulation in optical circuits for tele and data communications.”

The new research is published in Nature’s Scientific Reports.

Source: King’s College London
Image Credits: Dr. Jean-Sebastien Bouillard, Dr. Ryan McCarron


More Than 3,000 Natural Gas Leaks Discovered In Boston’s Aging Pipeline System, Finds New Study

Posted: 22 Nov 2012 04:13 AM PST

 
There are more than 3,000 leaks in the natural-gas pipeline system that serves the City of Boston, according to new research from Boston University and Duke University.

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The new research is following on the heels of the devastating fires that were caused by natural gas leaks during Hurricane Sandy. Safety concerns have been raised because of potential flooding damage that may have been done to the gas pipeline pressure regulators located there.

As a result of the research in Boston, more than 3,356 separate natural gas leaks under the streets of Boston were found. “While our study was not intended to assess explosion risks, we came across six locations in Boston where gas concentrations exceeded the threshold above which explosions can occur,” said Nathan Phillips, co-author of the study, and an associate professor in BU’s Department of Earth and Environment.

In the U.S., natural gas pipeline failures kill an average of 17 people every year, cause 68 injuries, and cause around $133 million in property damage, according to the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. Natural gas leaks are also a major environmental problem because natural gas is almost entirely methane, a very-potent greenhouse gas that also lowers air quality. The leaks are also simply a significant loss of resources. Over $3 billion of natural gas is lost every year in the U.S. due to leaks.

“Repairing these leaks will improve air quality, increase consumer health and safety, and save money,” said co-author Robert B. Jackson, Nicholas Professor of Global Environmental Change at Duke. “We just have to put the right financial incentives into place.”

The researchers conducted the research by using a “new, high-precision methane analyzer” installed in a GPS-equipped car to map the gas leaks under Boston. They then drove over all the 785 road miles within the city limits, discovering the 3,356 known leaks.


 
“The leaks were distributed evenly across neighborhoods and were associated with old cast-iron underground pipes, rather than neighborhood socioeconomic indicators. Levels of methane in the surface air on Boston’s streets exceeded fifteen times the normal atmospheric background value.”

Boston’s not unique in these regards, though — most other aging cities around the globe have old pipeline infrastructure that is likely to be leaking. The researchers are highly-recommending that ‘coordinated gas-leaks mapping campaigns’ be developed in cities where the old infrastructure is likely to be a significant risk. “The researchers will continue to quantify the health, safety, environmental, and economic impacts of the leaks, which will be made available to policymakers and utilities as they work to replace and repair leaking natural gas pipeline infrastructure.”

The new research is being published this week in the online edition of the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Pollution.

Source: Boston University College of Arts and Sciences
Image Credits: Boston University College of Arts & Sciences


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