Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

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Impact Of EV & Solar Charging Stations (Infographic)

Posted: 27 Nov 2012 04:39 PM PST

Baker Electric Solar has put together this fantastic infographic detailing the impact electric vehicle (EV) solar charging stations have on the environment and our health.

“There's no question that electric vehicles are the automobiles of our future. With Tesla Motors introducing quick and efficient charging stations, Electric Vehicles (EVs) are sure to continue to pop up everywhere with increasing popularity,” Baker Electric Solar notes.

 Impact Of EV Solar Charging Stations On Our Health
Presented By Baker Electric Solar Energy Panels

Impact Of EV & Solar Charging Stations (Infographic) was originally published on: CleanTechnica

Solar Radiation Database Updated

Posted: 27 Nov 2012 04:37 PM PST

The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and collaborators released a 20-year updated version of the U.S. National Solar Radiation Database, a web-based technical report that provides critical information about solar and meteorological data for 1,454 locations in the U.S. and its territories.

national solar radiation database

The updated database covers 1991-2010 and includes data from 2006-2010 for the first time. It also features improved cloud algorithms for modeling solar radiation data, and an improved State University of New York (SUNY) model for gridded data based on satellite observations.

The database, which tracks hourly solar and meteorological parameters, is widely used by solar system designers, building architects and engineers, renewable energy analysts and others to plan, size and site solar electric systems.

The National Solar Radiation Database (NSRDB) provides solar resource information to industry in support of central solar power plant and distributed rooftop feasibility studies, economic analyses and research. The database also underlies other industry data and tools, including NREL's Typical Meteorological Year (TMY) data sets, PVWattsTM calculator, Solar Power Prospector and System Advisor Model (SAM).

The project was completed in collaboration with Clean Power Research and the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). This update, which supersedes the 1961-1990 and 1991-2005 NSRDB releases, is available in three forms:

  • A station-based data set at the 1,454 Weather Service stations (860 of the stations have serially complete data records).
  • A 10 km gridded data set (the Clean Power Research SolarAnywhere® v2.2 product based on the SUNY model) for the continental U.S and Hawaii from 1998-2009 (solar radiation values only). NREL has filled gaps in this data set, and the NSRDB version is serially complete.
  • A solar-only enhanced research data set for the 1,454 weather observing stations.

A copy of the 1991-2010 report can be viewed and downloaded without cost on the NCDC website.

The revised National Solar Radiation Database 1991-2010 Update: User's Manual is available on the NREL Renewable Resource Data Center.

The NSRDB solar data fields include global horizontal, direct normal, and diffuse horizontal irradiance. The NSRDB also features a 20-year summary with statistics (monthly/annual, diurnal, and persistence) for the 860 serially complete stations.

NREL has applied uncertainty estimates to each hourly data record to help users determine the suitability of data for each application. Station data are broadly classified based on uncertainty as Class I, II and III. The first two classifications segregate serially complete stations by data of higher and lower quality respectively; Class III stations have data gaps in the period of record, yet hold enough data in the time series to support many applications.

NREL is currently in the process of updating the Typical Meteorological Year data sets using data from the NSRDB update.

This article has been republished from the NREL website. NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy’s primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for DOE by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC. 

Solar Radiation Database Updated was originally published on: CleanTechnica

Cost Of Solar Systems In US Continues To Decline

Posted: 27 Nov 2012 04:16 PM PST

A new report from the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has shown that the installed price of solar photovoltaic (PV) power systems across the United States fell substantially in 2011 and continued the decline through the first half of 2012, supplanting solar as an integral part of the American economy and mindshare.

The news was reported in the latest edition of Tracking the Sun, an annual PV cost-tracking report released by Berkeley Lab.

The report found that the median installed price of residential and commercial PV systems which were completed in 2011 fell by approximately 11-14% from the year before.

The Installed Price of Solar Photovoltaic Systems in the U.S. Continues to DeclineAdditionally, prices in California fell by an additional 3-7% within the first six months of 2012.

The drop in price for installed systems is due in part to the massive reduction in PV module prices, which have been falling dramatically since 2008, and part of the reason why balance of system manufacturers are now accounting for 68 percent of the total costs for the average PV project.

Even though balance of system is making up a higher percentage of project costs, overall prices have fallen. The report notes that non-module costs such as balance of system, labour, marketing, overhead, and inverters have all fallen significantly over time.

"The drop in non-module costs is especially important," notes report co-author Ryan Wiser of Berkeley Lab's Environmental Energy Technologies Division, "as these costs can be most readily influenced by local, state, and national policies aimed at accelerating deployment and removing market barriers."

The median installed price of PV systems installed throughout 2011 was $6.10 per watt (W) for residential and small commercial systems less than 10 kilowatts (kW) in size, and was $4.90/W for larger commercial systems of 100 kW or more in size, whereas utility-sector PV systems which are larger than 2,000 kW in size averaged $3.40/W in 2011.

Report co-author Galen Barbose, also of Berkeley Lab, stresses the importance of keeping these numbers in context, noting that "these data provide a reliable benchmark for systems installed in the recent past, but prices have continued to decline over time, and PV systems being sold today are being offered at lower prices."

The authors of the report also believe that US PV prices will continue to drop as a result of large-scale deployment programs, but that other factors are also important in achieving installed price reductions.

There were variations in the PV system pricing when compared across states. The median installed price of PV systems less than 10 kW in size that were completed during 2011 ranged from $4.90/W to $7.60/W depending on which state they were being constructed in.

Additionally, the report shows that PV installed prices are good indicators of economies of scale, with the median price for systems smaller than 2 kW coming in at $7.70/W while the median price for a large commercial system greater than 1,000 kW in size was only $4.50/W. Utility-scale systems larger than 10,000 kW were even lower, with most systems ranging from $2.80/W to $3.50/W.

Sadly, as the cost of installed PV systems have fallen, so have the incentives. According to the report, the median pre-tax value of such cash incentives ranged from $0.90/W to $1.20/W for systems installed in 2011, depending on system size. But these numbers have decreased by roughly 80% over the past ten years, and by a massive 21-43% from just 2010 to 2011.

The report, Tracking the Sun V: An Historical Summary of the Installed Price of Photovoltaics in the United States from 1998 to 2011, by Galen Barbose, Naïm Darghouth, and Ryan Wiser, may be downloaded from:

Source: Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Cost Of Solar Systems In US Continues To Decline was originally published on: CleanTechnica

New Concentrating Solar Power Storage Material From Yara

Posted: 27 Nov 2012 04:09 PM PST

Yara International is a Norway-based company focused on sustainable environmental and agricultural solutions. The company recently made an announcement about a breakthrough technology used in concentrated solar power. Below is an interview with Emilio Iglesias Sola, a Yara business manager.

YaraPorsgrunnBulkWhat about your use of potassium calcium nitrate is new and unique?

This is the first time that potassium calcium nitrate has been used in the concentrated solar power (CSP) market, and therefore opens up many opportunities for utility-scale growth.

Calcium nitrate is not new; it has been used in other industries and application for years. What is unique is that our new potassium calcium nitrate grade – patent-pending – has been specifically developed to meet the performance demands of the solar thermal power industry. Our researchers identified a challenge related to heat storage using existing molten salts available in the market, and applied Yara's chemistry expertise to overcome this obstacle.

At its core, this reflects what Yara does every day. With over 100 years of experience in nitrogen-based applications, we provide products and integrated solutions using nitrogen – one of the building blocks of life – and help make the world a better place by optimizing industrial processes and environmental compliance. For instance, our diesel exhaust fluid helps abate harmful nitrous oxides from heavy-duty trucks.

What practical advantages are there to using it and the way you are using it?

In addition to cost advantages, the new potassium calcium nitrate offers plant engineers and operators technical advantages:

First, the properties of potassium calcium nitrate bring down the melting point of the molten salt mix, a huge improvement for all CSP technology. For plants using parabolic trough technology with thermal oil and thermal storage, the current temperature range is 290ºC to 390ºC. Thermal oil's maximum temperature is 400ºC.  The new ternary salts using potassium calcium nitrate have a wider Tª (131-560ºC).  The wider temperature range and significantly lower melting point means plants have more storage time and require less molten salt to function. In addition, the lower melting point helps owners prevent blockage caused by molten salt solidification, which can be very costly in terms of plant down-time and repairs.

We've also seen the market develop a trend to avoid thermal oil as a heat transfer fluid (HTF) for several reasons, including thermal oil is more expensive, not environmentally friendly and requires an (often expensive) heat exchanger between the oil and the molten salt. The broader temperature range of the new ternary salts using potassium calcium nitrate allows for new lower working temperatures, and provides a higher turbine yield when working at higher temperatures.

Finally, our new potassium calcium nitrate is much less corrosive than common calcium nitrate grades. It also contains fewer impurities than common grades of calcium nitrate. More pure and less corrosive, Yara's synthetic molecule helps reduce corrosion of plant components, related maintenance costs and safety issues.

Your use of potassium calcium nitrate is said to be more cost effective, how much more cost effective is it and why?

The price of Yara's new potassium calcium nitrate is more competitive than that of potassium and sodium nitrate, offering significant CAPEX reductions in the purchase of the nitrates during plant construction.  Not only is potassium calcium nitrate very competitively priced, but given the wider temperature range noted earlier, less salts need to be purchased overall.

As the world's largest nitrates producer, our global scale and production efficiencies mean we can provide the product to our customers at an even lower rate than our competitors to anywhere in the world.

Based on size of the plant (which determines the volumes of molten salts required during construction) and the current price of potassium and sodium nitrate, we can estimate a wide range of total capital expense savings. Additionally, due to the potassium nitrate (KNO3) and sodium nitrate (NaNO3) price trends, we anticipate savings for customers using our potassium calcium nitrate will increase over the coming years.

It is these cost savings, along with operational expenses, that we believe will make solar thermal more profitable for plant operators and investors, significantly improving the commercial viability of CSP.

Is your new technology currently operating in CSP facilities, if so, where, and if not, where might it be employed soon?

We have advanced negotiations with several companies, although due to Non-Disclosure Agreements I am not at liberty to share more. That said, the product is ready for sale today and we anticipate the first plant running our proposal will come out of field tests in 2014.

In which parts of the world do you expect it to be used first and why?

The United States and Spain, the countries with the most advanced CSP development, will be the places where this technology is first implemented.

Going forward, we anticipate the next large area of CSP growth to come from the US for several reasons:

  • First, the US has the potential to offer better yields than Spain. Land availability and better radiation locations will allow plant managers to develop larger, more-efficient CSP plants which will lower costs and produce better yields.
  • Secondly, the US currently has a renewable energy pool policy, which is a good political and social environment to develop CSP plants.

How long can potassium calcium nitrate be used before its storage potential is exhausted?

Thermal storage using nitrates lasts the whole lifetime of the CSP plant, which is about 30 years.

Are there limits to how much you can produce?

As the world's largest nitrates producer, Yara can produce more than enough potassium calcium nitrate to meet the needs of the solar thermal market. Although the volumes of molten salts needed for the CSP sector are set to surge, they remain only a fraction of Yara's production capacity. Our global production platform and international supply chain can currently support the US and Spanish CSP markets, as well as future CSP markets in China, North Africa, India and Australia.

What is the future of concentrated solar power and what does this breakthrough development mean for the global solar power industry?

Two things have always plagued the utility-scale adoption of solar power: storage and cost. Concentrated solar power technology solved the first issue, by providing a way to store thermal energy and provide on-demand, reliable electricity from the sun, even after dark, when demand for electricity peaks. This allows CSP to be baseload, something PV and wind power cannot achieve in any scalable way at the moment. It also will enable CSP to achieve grid parity with its traditional gas, coal and nuclear counterparts.

The next generation of molten salts using Yara's potassium calcium nitrate address the second and final barrier, making utility-scale CSP plants less costly to construct and more profitable for plant operators and investors – for the first time, CSP will be commercially viable.

How did Yara's commitment to innovation lead to the identification of this new grade of CN, developed specially for heat storage and transfer applications?

Through ongoing R&D, we identified a new grade of potassium calcium nitrate with promising thermal properties, and developed it specifically for heat storage and transfer applications. We then tested the CSP application in partnership with Universidad Complutense de Madrid in Spain.

As noted earlier, Yara has over 100 years of experience in nitrogen-based applications. Ongoing R&D is an important part of our commitment to "shape" the industry, and as the market develops in the coming years, we will continue to follow this track.

Image Credit: Yara International

New Concentrating Solar Power Storage Material From Yara was originally published on: CleanTechnica

Ford Fusion Energi Price Announced, BMW i3 Concept Unveiled, Tesla Wins Lawsuit, Tesla Model S Price Increasing (+ More Clean Transport News)

Posted: 27 Nov 2012 03:56 PM PST

Some more clean transport news from the past few days or so:


Ford Fusion Energi Priced At $39,495: “Marching forward with its plans to launch a slew of plug-in hybrid vehicles this year, Ford has finally put a price and details to the much-anticipated 2013 Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid. Starting at $39,495 before tax credits, does the Energi have what it takes to overtake favorites like the Chevy Volt and Toyota Prius Plug-in?”

Tesla Wins Dealership Lawsuit: Of course, how could any judge side against the much loved Tesla? (In actuality, Tesla probably deserved to win.) While “48 states prohibit automakers from owning dealerships that compete with local franchises,” the key points to know are that Tesla doesn’t sell its vehicles to dealerships (so, it’s not competing with them) and its “dealership salespeople,” as Chris DeMorro notes, “are not paid on commission  and the only way to order a Tesla Model S is via its website.” Nonetheless, the Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association (MSADA) tried to sue Tesla… and lost.

Tesla Model S Price Bump Coming Soon: Uh oh, the days of the cheap Model S (er,… not super duper expensive Model S) may be coming to a close… or just some minor changes (we’re not sure yet). The Model S currently starts at over $57,000 (before tax credits) and can cost over $90,000. But things change. “The Tesla Motors blog confirmed that within the new couple of weeks, the price of the Tesla Model S sedan will be going up. But don't worry if you're one of the 13,000 or so people with a Model S already on reserve; Tesla confirmed that only those making a Model S purchase after a certain date will be affected by the price increase.

“Automakers regularly raise their prices from one year to the next in order to keep up with inflation, and squeeze a few more bucks in profit out of consumers. Tesla may also make certain equipment options standard going forward, though the company did not specify what options or how much higher the price might go.”

BMW i3 Coupe Concept Unveiled Ahead Of LA Auto Show: “Though BMW has yet to officially begin selling its i-brand of electric vehicles, the German automaker isn't done teasing consumers with cool EV concepts. Behold the latest pure electric vehicle, the BMW i3 Coupe Concept. The i3 Coupe Concept will make its official debut later this week at the L.A. Auto Show.”


$2 Million Win for Biking and Walking in Harrisonburg“In September, 50 community members participated in anAdvocacy Advance Action 2020 Workshop in Harrisonburg, Virginia, to jumpstart the region's efforts to fund local bicycle and pedestrian projects…. Since then, they've have taken a giant leap towards meeting that goal: more than $2 million was invested in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in 24 hours.”

Cargo Bike History – Svajere in Copenhagen: Tons of old pictures and some interesting history on cargo bikes in Copenhagen. Really, the post is worth a stroll!

Can Chicago Build a Bike-Share System That Works for Everyone? ”It's an exciting time in Chicago, as the city gears up for a major bike-share launch this spring that will make 4,000 bikes at 400 stations available to the public. City officials are thinking ahead, trying to avoid a problem that has plagued other systems: namely, the failure to make bike-share useful to residents from every walk of life. John Greenfield at Grid Chicago describes how local officials are trying to ensure that it's not just the affluent who reap the benefits of bike-share in the Windy City.”

D.C. Limits Parking to Promote Bicycling and Transit: “In rapidly developing neighborhoods such as Columbia Heights, Adams Morgan, and the U Street Corridor, the D.C. Department of Transportation (DDOT) is eliminating half of visitor parking spaces on weekdays to make sure there is enough parking for residents…. Other transit changes to come include creating bicycle lanes and setting aside hundreds of metered parking spaces for the disabled.”



Algae Could Replace Petroleum And Soybean Diesel: “Ethanol has lost a lot of support in the past few years for a variety of reasons. One of the biggest knocks against corn-derived ethanol is the reduced horsepower and fuel economy, causing some to be wary of an alternative fuel promises. But a new study shows that algae-based biodiesel has nearly the same horsepower and torque output as petrol and soybean diesel.”

Ford Fusion Energi Price Announced, BMW i3 Concept Unveiled, Tesla Wins Lawsuit, Tesla Model S Price Increasing (+ More Clean Transport News) was originally published on: CleanTechnica

Chevy Spark EV — Under $25,000 After Incentives!

Posted: 27 Nov 2012 02:11 PM PST

The Chevy Spark has officially been unveiled at the LA Auto Show. Looks good, and comes in at quite a competitive price – $25,000 after federal tax incentives (with the potential for additional state or local incentives in some places).

Here’s more on the Spark from the one & only (well, probably not only) Chris DeMorro: “just a few days away from the ‘official’ unveiling comes a few other key details that make the Spark EV seem like a serious contender. GM already let slip that the Chevy Spark EV will have pretty good acceleration of 0 to 60 mph in under 8 seconds thanks to an available 400 ft-lbs of torque and 130 horsepower. Yet the 20 kWh battery pack is still expected to deliver as much, if not more range than similar EVs on the market.”

Additionally, as noted in an email sent to me a few hours ago from Chevrolet representatives, “When it goes on sale next summer, the Spark EV is expected to have among the best EV battery range in its segment and be the first electric vehicle to offer SAE Combo DC Fast Charging capability, enabling the Spark EV to reach 80-percent battery charge in just 20 minutes.”

As Chris also duly notes, the before-incentives price of the Spark must be about $32,500, “cheaper than the Nissan Leaf, but more expensive than both the Mitsubishi i and Smart ForTwo Electric Drive, slated to be the cheapest EV on the market.”

Ah, and the often neglected factor of EVs’ great torque: "When you engineer a technology-filled, all-electric mini car that goes from zero-to-60 mph in less than eight seconds, customers won't miss the gas," said Mark Reuss, president, General Motors North America.

Now comes the bad news… the Spark won’t be available everywhere, or even close to everywhere. It will initially be available in California, Oregon, Canada, South Korea, and other global markets. Of course, this is the norm for commercially available EVs thus far.

Chevy Spark EV — Under $25,000 After Incentives! was originally published on: CleanTechnica

National Grid Has 40 Million Reasons to Extend the Wind Tax Credit

Posted: 27 Nov 2012 01:15 PM PST

What do they know that we don’t know? The utility giant National Grid has just announced a $40 million investment in four new high-voltage, long-distance renewable energy transmission projects by Clean Line. The move comes as Republican leaders in the House of Representatives continue to stall on extending a key federal wind power tax credit, leading to an uncertain future for the U.S. wind industry. However, National Grid’s investment appears to indicate that wind energy is the wave of the future, and extension of the wind tax credit might just be a good bet after all.

new transmission projects show optimism over wind tax credit extension


Clean Line’s Renewable Energy Projects

Though not exclusively dedicated to wind power, Clean Line’s four projects involve moving renewable energy from wind-rich states in the Midwest out to neighboring states and beyond.

The Plains & Eastern Clean Line will move 3,500 megawatts from western Oklahoma, southwestern Kansas, and the Texas Panhandle to Southeastern states.

The Grain Belt Express Clean Line will deliver 3,500 MW from Kansas to Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and points east. This project is particularly interesting because it involves a partnership with The Nature Conservancy to avoid habitat disruption.

The Rock Island Clean Line will connect 3,500 MW from northwest Iowa to Illinois and points east, and the Centennial West Clean Line will deliver 3,500 MW from northeastern New Mexico to California.

A Bright Future for the U.S Wind Industry?

All this points to a lot of optimism over future development in wind power production. That might seem counter-intuitive, considering the opposition to extending the tax credit from key Republican leaders all the way up to former presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

However, if you check out the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s recent piece on long-term wind industry trends, a distinct pattern emerges. Since 1992, when the tax credit was first authorized, every time it has been allowed to lapse, the wind industry has faltered, and as soon as it has been restored, the wind industry has come roaring back.

In more recent years, as Brad Plumer of the Washington Post points out, state-level clean energy mandates have helped to create an additional cushion, smoothing out some of the bumps in the tax credit’s cycle of extensions and lapses.

According to the American Wind Energy Association, another cause for optimism can be seen in the results of this election cycle. According to AWEA CEO Denise Bode:

“We heard a lot about wind energy in this election, and it proved to be a winning issue because it is so popular with the American people. As just one measure, an overwhelming majority of the members supported by our political action committee, WindPAC, won their races."

That makes even more sense in terms of the new Clean Line projects, which stand to give the wind industry a huge boost in states dominated by Republican legislators. Those wind industry jobs are occupied by constituents who have a powerful interest in pressing their representatives in Washington to preserve their jobs, and create more.

Still a Need for the Federal Wind Power Tax Credit

Despite the apparent optimism of National Grid and AWEA, there’s no question that the dithering on the Republican side of the aisle has already led to job losses in the wind industry this year, with even more pain to come if the tax credit is not extended.

That’s a double shame in the case of job prospects for returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. The wind industry has been actively recruiting veterans, many of whom have the kind of physical training and technology background that make a good fit for careers in wind power.

Image: Benton County wind turbines, Huwmabeing

Follow me on Twitter: @TinaMCasey

National Grid Has 40 Million Reasons to Extend the Wind Tax Credit was originally published on: CleanTechnica

Massachusetts Approves Cape Wind / NSTAR Power Purchase Agreement

Posted: 27 Nov 2012 12:41 PM PST

The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) has now approved a PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) between NSTAR and Cape Wind under which NSTAR would purchase electricity from the Cape Wind project.

Artist’s rendition of Hy-Line Cruises’ Cape Wind Eco Tour.

There are projections that this project will reduce electricity prices by $7.2 billion. And, there are projections the other way, as well. This is dependent on how windy this location is, as well as a variety of other factors.

The potential of offshore wind to affect electricity prices (either negatively or positively, depending on location) and to provide large amounts of the most stable and valuable wind energy is currently hotly debated. Some are so upset about it that they filed lawsuits, blocking the project for many years (though, these are based largely on some people not wanting their view “ruined”).

Offshore wind energy has great potential due to the strong, steady winds offshore. But construction and maintenance offshore is more expensive than onshore, so onshore wind energy is generally much cheaper still.

The president of the Cape Wind project, Jim Gordon, said: "This decision helps secure the position of Massachusetts as the U.S. leader in offshore wind power, launching a new industry that will create jobs, increase energy independence and promote a cleaner and healthier environment.

“With this decision, Massachusetts electric consumers have secured an abundant, inexhaustible, and clean energy resource that provides price stability and avoids all of the external costs of fossil fuels. Finally, our region will no longer be at the end of the energy pipeline, by harnessing an endless supply of offshore wind power, we will be producing homegrown and clean energy right here."

The power purchase agreement is for NSTAR to purchase 27.5% of Cape Wind’s power.

In December, 2011, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court unanimously upheld the Department of Public Utilities approval of Cape Wind's PPA with National Grid for 50% of Cape Wind's power.

Extracts from the DPU Order approving the Cape Wind / NSTAR PPA:

"Accordingly, we conclude that the attributes of the Cape Wind facility, when considered in the aggregate, remain unique among Section 83-eligible resources and will provide benefits to NSTAR Electric ratepayers that far exceed those that could be provided by other potential Section 83 contracts. The critical unique attributes of the Cape Wind facility relate to its size, capacity factor, location on the regional transmission system, and stage of development." p. 149.

"Accordingly, as we concluded in D.P.U. 10-54, at 229-230, the Cape Wind facility will produce far greater benefits in terms of its: (1) contribution to narrowing the projected gap between supply and demand of renewable resources; (2) contribution to compliance with GWSA emission reductions requirements; (3) contribution to fuel diversity; (4) price suppression effects; (5) ability to act as a hedge against future fuel price increases and volatility; (6) contribution to system reliability; and (7) ability to moderate system peak load.

“As discussed below, the value of the Cape Wind facility as compared to alternative Section 83-eligible resources is further enhanced when these benefits are considered in combination with the facility's favorable location on the regional transmission grid and advanced stage of development." p.150″

Source: Business Wire
Photo Credit: Cape Wind Website

Massachusetts Approves Cape Wind / NSTAR Power Purchase Agreement was originally published on: CleanTechnica

Army Corps of Engineers Transforms Old Warehouse into High Tech Showcase

Posted: 27 Nov 2012 06:28 AM PST

It looks like the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) gets bragging rights to one of the most energy-efficient office buildings in the entire country. The USACE Seattle District has just moved into its new headquarters, formerly the site of a 1940′s-era warehouse. Originally host to a nondescript, one-story sprawling box like thousands of others that populate the industrial landscape, the site is now a showcase for cutting edge conservation technology like geothermal energy, rainwater harvesting, and thermal storage.

USACE LEED office building in Seattle

A LEED Gold Building for the USACE

The new Federal Center South Building 1202 is located on Marginal Way in Seattle. It conforms to LEED Gold standards and the USACE is aiming for Platinum. It’s already on track for an Energy Star score of 100.

The new building will use about one-fifth of the energy compared to other air-conditioned office buildings in the region, thanks partly to the use of a stored cold-energy system that reduces the load on cooling equipment.

The heating and cooling system also incorporates geothermal energy through new, deeper structural piles that replaced the relatively shallow piling of the original structure.

LEED Improvements for Everyone

Along with the high-tech improvements, the project includes a number of conservation measures that are more widely applicable to commercial sites as well as residential buildings.

A rooftop harvesting system collects rainwater and stores it in a 25,000 gallon cistern, to be used for flushing toilets and irrigation.

The new building replaces the rectangular footprint of the original structure with a U-shaped plan around a central atrium. The new design, by ZGF Architects LLP in partnership with Sellen Construction, provides daylighting to 90 percent of the building.

The overall site plan restored about half of the original paved and built surfaces to porous green spaces. Aside from building better stormwater management into the site, the landscaping also helps to alleviate the heat island effect (not such a big deal in rainy Seattle, but every bit helps).

The new building was also constructed with a total of about 300,000 board feet of structural timber and decking reclaimed from the old structure.

USACE Takes LEED on the Road

Under a 2010 directive, USACE is committed to observing LEED standards throughout its projects. The Seattle project is just one energy efficient feather in its cap. Another example is the new billion-dollar office complex at Fort Belvoir in Virginia, which sports a green roof and cyclist-friendly shower rooms, among many other green features.

The LEED policy applies to Department of Defense facilities overseas, and USACE is working to comply with local standards that are even more strict.

In Germany, USACE has undertaken a pilot project to adjust LEED standards to conform with German standards, for construction of a new Child Development Center. German certification includes a heavy dose of factors that are not currently part of LEED, including the building’s lifecycle costs, flexibility for growth or change, and use by other parties.

With high profile projects like these, USACE has positioned itself as a leader and role model for the private sector construction industry. That includes not only a commitment to green building standards, but also a commitment to core sustainability principles.

Before his retirement last year, former USACE commanding general Lt. Gen. Robert Van Antwerp summed up USACE’s sustainability policy with a quote from a former commander who said, “Environmental ethics and values must be more than an overlay.  They must be a bone-deep part of our way of doing business."

Image: Courtesy of ZGF Architects LLP

Follow me on Twitter: @TinaMCasey

Army Corps of Engineers Transforms Old Warehouse into High Tech Showcase was originally published on: CleanTechnica

SolarCity Set To Release IPO By Holiday Season

Posted: 27 Nov 2012 02:23 AM PST

After much anticipation and some delay, SolarCity, one of the top solar panel installation companies in North America, is scheduled to release its initial public offering (IPO) by the end of 2012.

SolarCity Car via Brokensphere/WikiCommons Some Rights Reserved

Originally set for earlier this Fall, the release of the IPO was delayed due to Hurricane Sandy in late October, according to Reuters, not long after SolarCity had initially filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

SolarCity will hit the ground running in attempts to drum up investor support for the $200 million offering to the public, and further grow its presence in the cleantech arena.

As reported here on Cleantechnica in October, the company plans to have common stock on the NASDAQ stock exchange in New York, with the ticker symbol Scty.

Meanwhile, Roth Capital Partners and Needham & Company LLC will co-manage the offering. Credit Suisse LLC, Merril Lynch BofA, and Goldman Sachs & Co will undertake book managing services for the IPO.

SolarCity would not be the first cleantech company to undergo an IPO. Tesla Motors in 2010 offered its shares on the NASDAQ initially in 2010 for $178 million, as have a number of other companies.

SolarCity Set To Release IPO By Holiday Season was originally published on: CleanTechnica

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