Thursday, November 29, 2012

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Link to CleanTechnica

Google+ Hangout On Green Crowdfunding

Posted: 28 Nov 2012 02:52 PM PST

 
If you haven’t noticed, we’ve become pretty into crowdfunding… as a ton of people have. Crowdfunding is blowing up, and it’s unclear where it will go, but it opens a lot of possibility for consumers, investors, philanthropists, and entrepreneurs, of course. You can join a few of us from Important Media and some actual creators of current projects. Here are more details from host site sustainablog:



Come Hang with sustainablog to Discuss Current Green Crowdfunding Projects (via sustainablog)

Noticed that all of us in the blogosphere, green or otherwise, really like crowdfunding projects? Yes, we do! In some cases (such as Triplepundit's planned series on the sharing economy), we've figured out that there's a new method for funding content out there, and we want to support it. But…



Google+ Hangout On Green Crowdfunding was originally published on: CleanTechnica


New Way To Create Electricity Out Of Sunlight Discovered, A Solar Energy Funnel

Posted: 28 Nov 2012 05:15 AM PST

 
The discovery of a revolutionarily different way to generate electricity from sunlight has been made by researchers at MIT. The new technology, which is essentially a solar energy funnel, is able to use a much broader spectrum of sunlight’s energy than conventional solar does, by utilizing materials under elastic strain.

20121128-002734.jpg

“We’re trying to use elastic strains to produce unprecedented properties,” says Ju Li, an MIT professor and the lead author of a paper describing the new concept.

The ‘funnel’ in this case is a metaphor, though — it is electronic forces creating the funneling effect, not gravity as in a literal funnel. “Electrons and their counterparts, holes — which are split off from atoms by the energy of photons — are driven to the center of the structure by electronic forces.” But, interestingly, as the process occurs, the material actually assumes a funnel shape. The material is a stretched sheet of “vanishingly thin” material, pushed down at a center point with a microscopic needle, producing a curved shape similar to a funnel.


 
The pressure from the needle creates an elastic strain that increases toward the needle point. Because of the variation in the strain, the atomic structure is changed to the point where different sections are ‘tuned’ to different wavelengths of light. Making it possible to make use of not only visible light, but also the rest of the spectrum, most of which is invisible. The majority of the energy in sunlight is invisible.

The material used is a thin layer of molybdenum disulfide, which is a semiconductor that can form a film just a single molecule in thickness. And it possesses a ‘crucial characteristic’ called bandgap, which allows it to be formed into solar cells. But unlike the material used in most solar cells, silicon, “putting the film under strain in the ‘solar energy funnel’ causes its bandgap to vary across the surface, so that different parts of it respond to different colors of light,” the MIT press release notes.

“It turns out that the elastic strain, and therefore the change that is induced in electrons’ potential energy, changes with their distance from the funnel’s center — much like the electron in a hydrogen atom, except this ‘artificial atom’ is much larger in size and is two-dimensional.”

The funnel will also lead to better charge collection, the researchers think. In typical solar cells, the excitons randomly move throughout the material after they’ve been generated by photons. But in the funnel, the characteristics of the material direct them to the collection site at the center, which should lead to more efficient charge collection.

“People knew for a long time that by applying high pressure, you can induce huge changes in material properties,” Li says. But more recent work has shown that controlling strain in different directions, such as shear and tension, can yield an enormous variety of properties.

The work was just published this week in the journal Nature Photonics.

Source: Massachusetts Institute Of Technology
Image Credits: Yan Liang; Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives license

New Way To Create Electricity Out Of Sunlight Discovered, A Solar Energy Funnel was originally published on: CleanTechnica


SolarCity Announces Price For IPO

Posted: 28 Nov 2012 04:49 AM PST

 
Just one day after announcing it will release its long-anticipated Initial Public Offering (IPO) by the holiday season, SolarCity provided details on the share price.

The solar installation industry leader is aiming to trade 10 million shares for between $13-15 a share. Stockholders will sell 65,012 shares of initial stock.

SolarCity originally had planned an IPO worth $201 million. However, it has scaled those plans to $151 million. Still, not bad for the most anticipated clean-tech IPO since Tesla in 2010.

Will this IPO be a "Happy Holidays" or a "Ba Hum Bug" for SolarCity? Only time will tell.

Source: Greentech Media

SolarCity Announces Price For IPO was originally published on: CleanTechnica


MISO Wind Output Blows Past 10,000 MW

Posted: 28 Nov 2012 04:39 AM PST

 
Overnight on Friday November 23rd, Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator Incorporated (MISO) made some serious headwind by blowing past the 10 gigawatt (GW) mark for wind energy produced. Production topped out at 10,012 megawatts (MW) during that faithful evening, according to a statement from MISO.

The organization, which watches over the high-voltage system and offers open-transmission assistance over 11 states in the Midwest United States and the Canadian province of Manitoba, yesterday announced the milestone.

This is quite significant, considering during the same period that day, wind output represented 25% of the energy being used within the MISO region.

Officials have been supportive of wind energy’s upward trend as an energy solution in the Midwest US and Canada.

“Wind represents one of the fuel choices that helps us manage congestion on the system and ultimately helps keep prices low for our customers and the end-use consumer,” said MISO's Executive Director of Real Time Operations Joe Gardner in the release.

“When we have significant quantities of wind being generated, we use less of other, more expensive, generation types to keep the system in balance.”

Since 2006, wind capacity in the region has rapidly advanced, with the organization watching over 12,000 MW of registered wind capacity this year, in comparison to just 1,112 MW six years ago.
 

 
MISO is one of the largest energy markets in the world, grossing $23.6 billion in energy market transactions annually. The organization covers 11 states, including: Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, and the Canadian province of Manitoba. MISO's headquarters are located in Carmel, Illinois, and the company has centers both in Carmel and in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Source: MISO

MISO Wind Output Blows Past 10,000 MW was originally published on: CleanTechnica


Air Pollution Linked To Autism

Posted: 28 Nov 2012 04:30 AM PST

 
Without a doubt, autism is receiving more and more scientific and popular attention as we move further into the 21st century. A new study has added to our knowledgebase by showing that various sources of air pollution are associated with autism.

Air Pollution Linked to Autism

The study, published in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry and headed by Heather Volk, Ph.D., assistant professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine and investigator in the Division of Research on Children, Youth and Families at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, demonstrates for the first time that exposure to traffic-related air pollution during pregnancy and during the first year of life is associated with a more than two-fold risk of autism.

Additionally, exposure to regional pollution consisting of nitrogen dioxide and small particles is also associated with autism, even if the mother lives nowhere near a busy road.

"This work has broad potential public health implications," said Volk. "We've known for a long time that air pollution is bad for our lungs, and especially for children. We're now beginning to understand how air pollution may affect the brain."

Volk’s research is the first to look at the amount of near-roadway traffic-pollution that individuals have been exposed to and combine that statistic with the measure of regional air quality. Volk notes that the research builds upon previous work she and colleagues conducted, looking at how close subjects lived to a freeway.

"We took into account how far away people lived from roads, meteorology such as which way the wind was blowing, how busy the road was, and other factors to study traffic-related pollution," she said. "We also examined data from air quality monitors, which measure pollution over a larger region that could come from traffic, industry, rail yards, or many other sources."
 

 
The study looked at data on 279 autism cases and 245 control subjects enrolled in the California-based Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment (CHARGE) study. Based on the addresses of mothers, the researchers estimated exposure during each trimester of pregnancy and the first year of life.

Source: Keck School of Medicine of USC
Image Source: Thomanication (some rights reserved)

Air Pollution Linked To Autism was originally published on: CleanTechnica


Most Anti-Solar Reporter In Mainstream Media?, China Solar Thermal: 3,000 MW By 2015 (+ More Solar Energy News)

Posted: 28 Nov 2012 04:22 AM PST

 
Here’s some more top solar energy news from around the interwebs:

Mirrors at solar thermal power plant via World Bank Photo Collection

China Solar Thermal Targeted For 3,000 MW By 2015: “China is likely to have about 3,000 MW of solar thermal power capacity by 2015…. The total market value for that projected solar thermal capacity is 45 billion yuan (or $7.15 billion).”

Is Puerto Rico A Myth Or The Next Big Solar Market? “For the last two years, Reznick Capital Markets has been working on the island of Puerto Rico with several clients that are developing wind and solar projects. After several years of PREPA (the sole utility on Puerto Rico) issuing over 1GW of PPOAs (same as a PPA, but including operation), very few developers have successfully built renewable energy projects in Puerto Rico. In this article, I will attempt to help you understand the current market and the potential future for renewable energy on Puerto Rico.”

Yingli Green Energy Announces Largest Module Supply Contract In Company’s History: Yingli Green Energy (aka Yingli Solar) “today announced that its subsidiary, Yingli Green Energy Americas (“Yingli Americas”), has entered into the Company’s largest project supply agreement to date. Yingli Americas was selected to supply 200 MW-dc of utility-scale solar PV modules for the Centinela Solar Energy Facility Project (“Centinela Project”), which is segmented in two phases, each phase with a separate release notice, currently pending notification for the second phase. The 170 megawatt-ac project, designed to be one of the largest solar projects in the world, is situated on 1,600 acres approximately 90 miles east of San Diego in Imperial County, California, and is estimated to achieve commercial operation in the middle of 2014.”

Rajasthan Opens Bids Again For 200 MW Solar PV & Thermal Power Projects: “The Rajasthan government has called for bids for setting up 100 MW each of solar thermal and solar PV projects under the Rajasthan Solar Policy 2011. Under the policy, the government plans to set up 200 MW solar power capacity by 2013 and additional 400 MW capacity between 2013 and 2017.”

The Most Anti-Solar Reporter In The Mainstream Media? ”Julie Cart of the Los Angeles Times has published yet another anti-solar piece in the Los Angeles Times. This time, in ‘Solar power plants burden the counties that host them,’ she discovers that sprawling rural counties that vote Republican would like more money from the federal government, please, and it’s all the fault of Big Solar. And when a sprawling rural county that votes Republican tries to tax just the solar industry alone, solar advocates organize opposition to a Sun Tax…. The horrors!”

Trina Solar Improves Medical Treatment For 85,000 People In Malawi: Trina Solar “today announced the donation of solar modules to three health care centres in Malawi servicing over 85,000 people. Together with partner Innovation: Africa, Trina Solar will make clean energy available to two remote medical centres and a community-based organization offering HIV/AIDS support, vocational training, adult education, orphan care and more. In combination with a storage system, these solar modules will allow all three facilities to offer care and services to their communities at night and other conditions of low visibility.”

JinkoSolar Donates 30 kW To Village In Western China: JinkoSolar ”today announced that it has donated 30 kW of solar PV modules to Mumuke village in Kashgar Prefecture, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in western China. With a population of approximately 120 residents, Mumuke village is located in a remote part of Xinjiang Province where electricity from the national grid is unavailable and there is little in terms of transportation infrastructure. The off-grid system will meet the basic electricity needs of the village. This donation is the result of joint efforts between JinkoSolar and Schneider, the global specialist in energy management.”

Most Anti-Solar Reporter In Mainstream Media?, China Solar Thermal: 3,000 MW By 2015 (+ More Solar Energy News) was originally published on: CleanTechnica


D*Haus Designs D*Dynamic, Origami-Inspired, Shape-Changing House

Posted: 28 Nov 2012 03:16 AM PST

 
Yeah, that title could be a little confusing. But it probably also gives you a sense of the unique awesomeness that’s about to come….



D*Haus’ D*Dynamic Origami-Inspired Shape Changing House (via Green Building Elements)

Architecture in origami form is a remarkable concept which is hard to envision but D*Haus has come up with a house design that follows the very dynamics of the paper folding art. D*Haus' transformation house, D*Dynamic, has yet to be built but the conception is likely to take hold. They have designed…



D*Haus Designs D*Dynamic, Origami-Inspired, Shape-Changing House was originally published on: CleanTechnica


Conservative Groups Attacking Renewable Energy Standards

Posted: 28 Nov 2012 02:45 AM PST

 
Editor’s note: Unfortunately, while the election is over, influential conservatives haven’t let up their assault on renewable energy (clean energy sources that, of course, the vast majority of Americans — conservative and liberal alike — support). This post below by Stephen on new attacks on state renewable energy standards is sad and nauseating. Read it, for sure, but don’t expect to feel great afterwards. The article is reposted from the always excellent (imho) Climate Progress:

The campaign to kill renewable energy, brought to you by the organization that gave you this billboard.

Six months after rolling out a disastrous billboard campaign that linked people who care about global warming to the Unabomber, the Heartland Institute is looking for another project to boost its profile.

And what better way for the organization to mend its tarnished image than to go after a policy that Americans overwhelmingly support?

The Heartland Institute, known for its campaigns to cast doubt about the science of climate change, is now teaming up with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to craft laws repealing state-level renewable energy targets. ALEC is best known as a "stealth business lobbyist" that helps corporate interests write and pass legislation friendly to their interests. This spring, the organization came under fire for its role in pushing Stand-Your-Ground laws that opponents blamed for the shooting death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin. Both the Heartland Institute and ALEC lost major funders throughout the spring as a result of the separate controversies.

The campaign to dismantle these types of laws isn't new. Last summer, Bloomberg News reported on tax documents showing that Koch Industries, Exxon Mobil and other energy companies paid membership fees to ALEC in order to help write legislation repealing carbon pollution reduction programs in states around country. But aftergetting beat on the issues in national elections earlier this month, these groups are doubling down on their efforts to kill clean energy on the state level.

The Washington Post reported this weekend on how the embattled Heartland Institute is joining the campaign:

The involvement of the Heartland Institute, which posted a billboard in May comparing those who believe in global warming to domestic terrorist Theodore J. Kaczynski, shows the breadth of conservatives' efforts to undermine environmental initiatives on the state and federal level. In many cases, the groups involved accept money from oil, gas and coal companies that compete against renewable energy suppliers.

The Heartland Institute received $736,500 from Exxon Mobil between 1998 and 2006, according to the group's spokesman Jim Lakely, and $25,000 in 2011 from foundations affiliated with Charles G. Koch and David H. Koch, whose firm Koch Industries has substantial oil and energy holdings. Lakely wrote in an e-mail that the Koch donation was "earmarked for our work on health care policy, not energy or environment policy." He added the institute had received financial support from the Koch brothers before 2001, but did not specify how much.

James Taylor, the Heartland Institute's senior fellow for environmental policy, said he was able to persuade most of ALEC's state legislators and corporate members to push for a repeal of laws requiring more solar and wind power use on the basis of economics.

So far, 29 states have renewable energy targets in place. And with years of experience in these states, multiple analyses have shown that these laws have had virtually no impact on rate increases.

Heartland and ALEC are building their campaign around economic research from the Beacon Hill Institute, a free-market think tank that has received money from Koch-backed groups:

As part of its effort to roll back renewable standards, ALEC is citing economic analyses of state policies co-published by Suffolk University's Beacon Hill Institute and the State Policy Network. Both groups have received donations from foundations funded by the Koch brothers.

The analyses — which examine current or proposed standards in such states as Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina and Oregon — assume that the Energy Information Administration's projected renewable energy price estimates are too low, and that cost-containment measures embedded in state policies will fail. As a result, the reports conclude Kansas's requirement to obtain 20 percent of its electricity will cost consumers $644 million over the next eight years, while Oregon's goal of 25 percent renewable electricity by 2025 will cost consumers $992 million by 2025.

Beacon Hill Institute research economist Michael Head said he and his two co-authors were skeptical the cost caps outlined in legislation would kick in.

"We just left it out so we could provide the actual analysis of the policy itself," Head said, adding that the central question is not whether renewable energy costs more but "the matter of degree. You're certainly going to have these higher electricity prices. They will have profound negative consequences for the states' economies."

Richard Caperton, a renewable energy finance expert at the Center for American Progress, explained that the studies are based on a number of flawed assumptions.

"The Beacon Hill studies arbitrarily choose high-end estimates for the future price of renewables, they wrongly claim there are no environmental benefits to using renewable energy, they ignore the fact that most state targets have price caps built into them, and they ignore the data we already have showing that there is no evidence that state renewable energy targets drive up rates for consumers," he told Climate Progress.
 

 
Conservative groups also claim that renewable energy mandates will stifle economic growth. However, the non-partisan Energy Information Administration recently modeled the impact of national Renewable Energy Standard and found that it would leave GDP growth virtually unchanged. Under an 80% clean energy standard by 2035, GDP would grow at 2.67% — just a .02 percent change from the baseline 2.69%.

In an effort to work with these conservative groups from within, the Solar Energy Industries Association and the American Wind Energy Association have become members of ALEC. (SEIA was a member until this summer). But the fight is less about the economics or social importance of renewable energy, and more about an ideological battle over the role of government in setting targets for clean energy.

"I think we're going to see a real knock-out drag-out fight," said Scott Sklar, president of the renewable energy consultancy The Stella Group, speaking to Climate Progress. "A lot of the conservative groups that didn't get a lot of payback spending money the national level during this past election have increasingly been moving toward these state fights."

Public polling suggests that these groups are on the wrong side of the issue. A recent survey from Harvard, Yale, and the National Bureau of Economic Research showed that Americans would be willing to pay $160 per year more to deploy clean energy. And a pre-election poll showed that 72 percent of swing voters agreed that the government should to more to promote solar energy — illustrating why the millions of dollars in attack ads this campaign season didn't sway the election.

"This will be an interesting set of fights," said Scott Sklar. "The clean energy industry is preparing for them. But I do believe the country is reaffirming its commitment to clean energy in all its forms, and I don't think they're going to be duped into these arguments against the industry."

Conservative Groups Attacking Renewable Energy Standards was originally published on: CleanTechnica


CEO Of $10 Billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation Announced & Interviewed (+ More Climate Change & Clean Energy Policy News)

Posted: 28 Nov 2012 02:37 AM PST

 
Some more top clean energy and climate policy news from around:

Ohio's Next Big Decision: A Clean Or Dirty Energy Future? ”Now that the presidential election is over, the people of Ohio are facing another important choice — whether their state will embrace clean energy measures that will save money and lives, or continue wasting energy from polluting coal plants…. There’s a big question mark hanging over the state’s energy direction. Will the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio choose a future of unnecessary and expensive coal and gas generating plants that make people sick or, instead, a twenty-first century path that reduces energy waste and creates jobs?”

In 1989, NJ Republican Governor Issued Climate Order, Warning Of 'Increase In The Intensity Of Major Storms': “In 1989 — just one year after NASA's James Hansen testified before Congress about the looming threat of climate change — New Jersey's Republican Governor Thomas Kean issued an executive order calling on his state to recognize the "scientific consensus" of climate change and to prepare for rising sea levels, intensifying storms, and other threats posed by a warming planet.”


 
Oliver Yates Named Inaugural CEO of the $10 Billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation: “The former Macquarie Group banker Oliver Yates has been confirmed as the inaugural chief executive of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, the body that has been armed with $10 billion to help mobilise private capital to commercialise low carbon technologies.”

Oliver Yates Interview: “RenewEconomy secured the first interview with new CEFC chief Oliver Yates. He talks about his reasons for taking the job, the challenges he faces, the project pipeline he expects to build, the threat of the Opposition to can the CEFC, and why the financial community will soon see clean energy as a mainstream and low risk investment”

European Parliament Demands Tougher Emissions Cuts: “MEPs approve a resolution to raise EU’s 2020 carbon-cutting goal from 20 to 30 per cent.”

CEO Of $10 Billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation Announced & Interviewed (+ More Climate Change & Clean Energy Policy News) was originally published on: CleanTechnica


First Geothermal Plant For Tanzania

Posted: 28 Nov 2012 02:00 AM PST

 

Tanzania is planning to have 100 MW of geothermal power operating by 2016. Geothermal tends to be more stable, so developing it there can counteract the erratic output from hydroelectric dams.

Mbeya_road.jpgDue to a lack of rain, there have been power shortages in the country, so seeking a more balance energy mix is very sensible. Additionally, national power demand is expected to increase.

The country has an estimated 650 MW of geothermal potential and will begin drilling in the southern region near Mbeya. In May of this year, a 1.6 MW geothermal power plant project was reported as part of a rural electrification effort in the area. A geothermal reservoir at the Ngozi volcano nearby could have a 100 MW potential. Mbeya is a city with a population of about 280,000 and the name of the surrounding region, which includes two million residents.

Geothermal energy typically is not intermittent like solar and wind power. And, in Tanzania, having new reliable sources of energy could be a great boon to economic development and poverty alleviation. This domestic energy potential is true for other ‘third-world’ nations as well, such as Kenya, where geothermal is also being developed to a great degree.

Image Credit: Fiver Löcker, Wiki Commons

First Geothermal Plant For Tanzania was originally published on: CleanTechnica


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