Friday, November 30, 2012

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Link to CleanTechnica

Costa Rica’s 1st Solar Power Park Completed

Posted: 29 Nov 2012 08:00 AM PST

 
Given Costa Rica’s green cred, I’m quite surprised that this is its first solar park. Nonetheless, it’s good news to see that the solar power park is completed and generating clean electricity. More from sister site Ecopreneurist:



Costa Rica Launches First Solar Powered Plant (via Ecopreneurist)

Authorities in Costa Rica have opened the country's first large-scale solar power plants, built with a donation of $ 10 million Yens. President Laura Chinchilla and the director of the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE), Teofilo de la Torre, inaugurated the solar park in Bagaces Miravalles…



Costa Rica’s 1st Solar Power Park Completed was originally published on: CleanTechnica


Ingeteam Mobile App Allows for Solar PV Installation Monitoring

Posted: 29 Nov 2012 07:30 AM PST

 
Mobile technology and cleantech seem to go hand in hand very well. Recently, we have seen apps devoted to electric vehicle chargers, smart grids, bike sharing, carbon emissions, and solar power. Now you can add another solar mobile app to the list.

Ingeteam has come out with a mobile app which allows users to keep tabs on produced solar energy from their photovoltaic solar panels.

According to Solar Power World, the app will allow PV owners, promoters, and installers control of their production information, which will give a glance at how much owners are getting for their buck:

“This new app has been developed together with the new version of the monitoring software Ingecon Web Monitor, the key web portal for PV plant access, where every owner, installer or promoter of any PV plant can control his installation's production data. This software also contains all the Ingecon data sheets about Ingeteam's inverters and technological solutions.”

 

 
Some other cool features that will get cleantech geeks into a tizzy from the team at Ingeteam include: users getting yearly, monthly, or daily reports in graphic and list formats (regarding the PV energy being produced).

Apple's App store has the free app available in five different languages including: English, French, Spanish, Italian, and German.

Ingeteam Mobile App Allows for Solar PV Installation Monitoring was originally published on: CleanTechnica


Texas Grid Sets New Wind Power Record & Aims Much Higher

Posted: 29 Nov 2012 07:00 AM PST

 
Earlier this month, Texas set a new record for the percentage of electricity generated by wind power, a staggering 26 percent of total supply across the state's main grid system.

Wind turbines generated 8,521 megawatts (MW) of electricity just after 10:00 a.m. on November 10. More than 7,000 MW came from wind farms in West Texas, with around 1,100 MW coming from installations along the Gulf of Mexico coast.

This mark beat the previous record by more than 150 MW, was enough to power 4.3 million average Texas homes, and represented 85% of the state's optimal wind generation output, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). Wind has represented around 9% of ERCOT's supply for much of 2011, but that share is growing.
 

 
"We have surpassed previous wind power records several times this year," said Kent Saathoff, ERCOT vice president of Grid Operations and System Planning. "While added capacity is one reason for this growth, experience and improved tools are enabling ERCOT to integrate this resource into the grid more effectively than ever before."

ERCOT actual load and wind output

ERCOT actual load and wind output

Could Texas Reach 75% Wind?

ERCOT manages the grid for 85% of the state's total electric load, matching supply and demand for 23 million customers across 40,500 miles of transmission lines. Texas already has the most installed wind capacity of any state in America with a total of 10,929 MW and 10,000 MW within the ERCOT system.

But more installed wind capacity than many countries isn't enough for the state where bigger is better. Texas could conceivably triple the amount of installed wind capacity in the state.

Roughly 21,000MW of new wind turbines are under review by ERCOT, and the state is nearing the completion of several massive transmission projects designed to move wind power from West Texas to eastern metropolitan areas where demand is highest.

ERCOT wind installations 2000-2015

ERCOT wind installations 2000-2015

Winds of Economic Change

Wind played a key role in limiting blackouts during freezing conditions in 2011, and could become an even greater part of the state's energy and economic future.

Considering the potential of West Texas wind turbines, it's not hard to see an ideal situation where 30,000 MW of installed wind capacity could meet 75% of the state's total demand – especially with 2,400 miles of new transmission lines improving the grid operator's ability to move wind across the state.

The Texas renewable energy industry report, released this summer, estimates the wind industry will help add 6,000 renewable jobs per year through 2020 and contributes to 1,300 companies and 100,000 jobs, in total. Imagine adding 200% more to those numbers.

But, of course – Texas' wind energy potential ultimately depends a great deal upon renewal of the federal Production Tax Credit. Combined with wind power records being set across the country, ERCOT's newest announcement is proof once again that wind power make economic sense regardless of party affiliation.

Image Credit: Texas wind turbines via Shutterstock

Texas Grid Sets New Wind Power Record & Aims Much Higher was originally published on: CleanTechnica


Natural Fish Slime Fabric Sounds Gross, But At Least It’s Renewable

Posted: 29 Nov 2012 06:30 AM PST

 
From Canada’s University of Guelph comes the interesting news that fashionistas of the future may find themselves sporting fabrics derived from fish slime. Hagfish slime, to be precise.

hagfish slime as a renewable fabric

It’s ironic that the hagfish could play a major role in an industry characterized by constant change, since this ancient eel-like species has undergone very little change itself for the past 300 million years. However, in the search for renewable fabric alternatives to nylon, Kevlar and other petroleum-based products, the hagfish seems to be on track to come out on top.

Silk vs. Slime for the Renewable Fabric of the Future

When you think about it, wearing fish slime on your back is hardly any more gross than wearing the worm secretions known as silk.

The advantage of hagfish over silkworms is partly one of sheer productivity. When an Atlantic Hagfish is threatened it can spit out quarts of slime in a matter of mere seconds, which seems to be at least enough to make a nice scarf. Try that with a silkworm!

Of course, the raw slime is not exactly fit for use. Hagfish slime is partly composed of mucous, which we’re not interested in. The part that is really intriguing consists of tens of thousands of protein threads.

According to the University of Guelph, the threads are classified as an “intermediate filament.” Each is 100 times thinner than a human hair, but has “remarkable mechanical properties that rival those of spider silks.”


 

A Slimy Path to Artificial Spider Silk

Spider silk is outrageously strong for its weight, so much so that it has the potential to outperform petroleum-based products like Kevlar.

But, of course, unlike silkworms, spiders are notoriously hard to motivate for commercial-scale silk production. That’s where the hagfish could come in.

Researchers have been studying ways to create artificial spider silk from more cooperative renewable sources, but hagfish offer the prospect of cutting out the middleman and going straight to the source.

The research team, headed by Atsuko Negishi with co-authors from Guelph as well as McMaster and Dalhousie universities, has just published a paper showing that protein threads isolated from hagfish slime can be purified and spun into fibers. That leads to the possibility of using similar slimes from other animal proteins:

“This work is just the beginning of our efforts to apply what we have learned from animals like hagfishes to the challenge of making high-performance materials from sustainable protein feedstocks."

So far, the researchers have found that higher levels of protein concentration yield materials with potentially useful properties. The next step is to find efficient ways to spin fibers, leading to commercial-scale production.

Big Demand for Alternative Fabric

It’s not like hagfish slime is ready for its Top Model moment any time soon, but when it does break through, it could find a whole range of uses as a renewable alternative for petroleum-based products.

Ford, for example, is pushing hard to introduce renewable and recyclable materials in upholstery and other automotive fittings that are typically made from synthetic petroleum-based materials.

The sporting goods industry is another area in which lightweight, high performance petroleum alternatives would find an eager market.

Image: Hagfish courtesy of NOAA, via wikipedia

Follow me on Twitter: @TinaMCasey

Natural Fish Slime Fabric Sounds Gross, But At Least It’s Renewable was originally published on: CleanTechnica


Tasmania Seeks To Build Largest Windfarm In Southern Hemisphere

Posted: 29 Nov 2012 06:00 AM PST

 
There are two things in life I love: wind energy and my home.

OK. In reality, there are many things in love, but I promise that wind energy and Australia are on my list, and so when I saw that Hydro Tasmania is looking at building the biggest wind farm in the Southern Hemisphere, I was immediately intrigued.

For those unsure of the geography of Australia, here’s a little helper-image I whipped up for you.

As you can see, the ugly stepchild we on the mainland call Tasmania floats off the bottom of our continent like an unwanted piece of driftwood. King Island is probably what Tasmanians consider their ugly stepchild, drifting around off the northeast of the island.

And according to Hydro Tasmania, King Island is where the company hopes to build the $2 billion project that is expected to create up to 500 jobs during the two-year construction period.

If built — and at the moment it is currently an ‘if’ — the 600-megawatt wind farm would produce approximately 2400 gigawatt-hours of renewable electricity for the national market, using around 200 wind turbines. That’s enough energy to supply nearly 240,000 homes with electricity, and would represent more than 5% of Australia’s Renewable Energy Target, as well as reducing the amount of carbon entering the atmosphere by around 1.9 million tonnes a year. 
 

 
The proposal, known as TasWind, is currently in the early phases of consulting with the islands community to determine its feedback over the next three months.

TasWind to be Largest Windfarm in Southern HemisphereDavid Crean, Hydro Tasmania Chair, said that for the past 15 months Hydro Tasmania had been assessing the wind farm concept on the island to utilise the world-class resource of the prevailing Roaring Forties, the name given to the strong westerly winds that blow between the latitudes of 40 and 50 degrees in the Southern Hemisphere (i.e. right over the top of King Island).

“While sitting in the path of the world-class wind resource that is the Roaring 40s makes King Island the perfect location for such a project, it is important to emphasise that it is very early days," Dr Crean said.

Dr Crean said the work done to date indicated it was broadly feasible from a technical, economic, and environmental perspective. The Tasmanian Government had expressed its strong support for the project proceeding to the consultation stage.

“It is most important that we seek the views of the King Island community,” he said. “Their support is crucial for the project to go to the full feasibility stage.”

Here’s more from Dr Crean:

"The project will only proceed to full feasibility if the majority of King Islanders are in favour. That is why we are embarking on a consultation process that aims to set a high standard nationally for engaging with local communities on major renewable energy projects.

“Such a project would also require extensive and detailed social, economic and environmental investigations, as well as regulatory approval at both state and federal level, before it became a reality.

“Obviously a project of this size would have considerable benefits for the island in terms of jobs, infrastructure development and likely upgrades to existing facilities such as the port, while injecting considerable additional value into the local economy.

“However, we also recognise there will be a level of concern in some quarters and many questions about the project. We want to ensure King Islanders have all the information they need and every opportunity to discuss the issues and concerns they may have.

“Their views and input would provide vital feedback to help our business make the right decision with and for the people of King Island.”

Source: HydroTasmania
Image Source: TasWind 

Tasmania Seeks To Build Largest Windfarm In Southern Hemisphere was originally published on: CleanTechnica


44% Of San Francisco’s City CarShare Fleet Is Electric

Posted: 29 Nov 2012 05:30 AM PST

 
City CarShare is the largest nonprofit carsharing organisation in North America, and it has recently increased its share of electric, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid vehicles to 44% in the San Francisco Bay Area with the introduction of two new Ford Focus all-electric vehicles.

City CarShare’s fleet is now made up of 160 hybrids, 13 plug-in electric hybrids, and 5 all-electric vehicles.

This high percentage of electric vehicles helps City CarShare’s fleet prevent 80 million pounds of CO2 from entering the atmosphere each year.

San Francisco City CarShare Electric Vehicles Hybrids

City CarShare Mitsubishi i-MiEV

"We are very close to meeting one of our mission goals of converting half of our fleet to electric or hybrid by 2015," says Rick Hutchinson, City CarShare CEO. "By offering innovative and greener mobility options to individuals and businesses, we are significantly reducing gas consumption and CO2 emissions, making the Bay Area a more livable place."

A recent survey of City CarShare members found that many favoured electric and hybrid vehicles as a transportation option. When asked why, members indicated the following reasons:

  1. curious about the technology
  2. environmental reasons
  3. to reduce petroleum or fossil fuels
  4. the potential for cost savings or fuel efficiency
  5. an affinity for new technology.

 

 
"City CarShare's expansive electric and hybrid fleet is the largest in the Bay Area and provides San Francisco residents and businesses with an environmentally-friendly choice that helps ease congestion on our City's streets and leads the way in environmental stewardship in this collaborative consumption economy," said Edwin M. Lee, Mayor of San Francisco.

44% Of San Francisco’s City CarShare Fleet Is Electric was originally published on: CleanTechnica


New Nike Boots The Greenest Boots Available

Posted: 29 Nov 2012 05:00 AM PST

 
Everyone’s favourite shoe manufacturer last week announced the Nike GS 2 Boot (soccer shoe) is being billed as delivering “seamless ball control” and “low environmental impact” — a heady combination, to say the least, but worth your attention nonetheless.

The Nike GS 2 is described as being “the lightest, fastest production boot Nike has ever made and the most environmentally friendly boot available.”

It also features “All Conditions Control (ACC) technology,” which sounds to me as if it’s actually a car but apparently delivers enhanced ball control in both dry and wet weather conditions (which, in hindsight, still leaves it sounding like a car).

Nike Boasts Most Environmentally Friendly Boot Yet

Nike said on its website that “the Nike GS 2 boot is constructed using renewable and recycled materials” and “has been optimized to reduce weight and waste.” Featuring recycled and renewable materials throughout the upper and plate design, the boot laces, lining, and tongue are made from a minimum of 70 percent recycled materials, while the toeboard and collar feature at least 15 percent recycled materials.

The Nike GS 2 will be worn by some of Europe's best young players, including Theo Walcott, Eden Hazard, Raheem Sterling, Mario Goetze, Christian Eriksen, and El Shaarawy, which I assume must be a good thing if those names turn out to be famous footballers and not the Nike press editor’s past babysitters.

Source: Nike

New Nike Boots The Greenest Boots Available was originally published on: CleanTechnica


University Of Delaware Establishes Energy Efficiency Fund

Posted: 29 Nov 2012 04:30 AM PST

 
The University of Delaware recently announced the creation of the Revolving Energy Efficiency Fund to support energy efficiency projects across the campus. The goal is to reduce the University's carbon emissions and operating costs. Potential projects will be identified by the Facilities and Auxiliary Services engineering staff, who will target investments with a payback period of fewer than five years.

The University of Deleware Lighting Retrofit

“Reducing our energy consumption and carbon footprint is an important element of our Path to Prominence," said David Singleton, vice president of facilities and auxiliary services. "The University's Energy Efficiency Fund will be an important tool in meeting our goals.”

Their first funded project is for the replacement of outdated lighting systems found in several buildings on campus with new energy-efficient lighting alternatives.

"Lighting is a significant contributor to the University's carbon footprint, and to its energy bill," said Anne-Marie Crossan, assistant director, Energy and Operations, and co-chair of the University's Sustainability Task Force.

The new lighting will meet national lighting standards per the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA), which address lighting levels and energy usage. The new light systems will reduce energy use through a combination of controls for electricity usage and conversion from electricity to available, non-electric light sources.
 

 
It is projected that, upon completion in January 2013, the lighting retrofit project will save 935,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity and 542 metric tons of carbon annually.

Source: The University of Delaware

University Of Delaware Establishes Energy Efficiency Fund was originally published on: CleanTechnica


Solar Graph Porn

Posted: 29 Nov 2012 04:00 AM PST

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

Someone recently passed along these great graphs from a German website (you can see an English translation of the webpage they came from here). The overall message: solar PV prices in Germany have dropped considerably in the past few years (as installation has boomed), and the prices are pretty darn low these days.

More specifically, note that the graphs are not for the same time period — they are sequential. So, basically, the price just dropped and dropped and dropped and dropped. (The same thing is happening in the US, just not as fast, since installation isn’t happening as fast and because of some other factors, like balance of system or “soft” costs and subsidies.)

Take a look at the graphs below and let me know if anything else comes to mind for you (note: prices are per kWp for plants up to 100 kWp solar power plants):

October 2012

 

Amazing, isn’t it?

And here’s the price history in list form (again, prices are per kWp for plants up to 100 kWp solar power plants):

Month PV Price
January 2009 € 4,110
February 2009 € 3,930
March 2009 € 3,820
April 2009 € 3,740
May 2009 € 3,500
June 2009 € 3,500
July 2009 € 3,390
August 2009 € 3,230
September 2009 € 3,110
October 2009 € 3,050
November 2009 € 2,950
December 2009 € 3,060
January 2010 € 3,040
February 2010 € 2,970
March 2010 € 3,030
April 2010 € 2,930
May 2010 € 2,890
June 2010 € 2,840
July 2010 € 2,580
August 2010 € 2,610
September 2010 € 2,540
October 2010 € 2,500
November 2010 € 2,510
December 2010 € 2,470
January 2011 € 2,480
February 2011 € 2,390
March 2011 € 2,350
April 2011 € 2,390
May 2011 € 2,370
June 2011 € 2,300
July 2011 € 2,210
August 2011 € 2,170
September 2011 € 2,120
October 2011 € 2,090
November 2011 € 1,960
December 2011 € 1,950
January 2012 € 1,990
February 2012 € 1,960
March 2012 € 1,990
April 2012 € 1,900
May 2012 € 1,870
June 2012 € 1,740
July 2012 € 1,720
August 2012 € 1,630
September 2012 € 1,610
October 2012 € 1,600

Solar Graph Porn was originally published on: CleanTechnica


Phenomenal Eco-Island Designed As Home To 300,000 People

Posted: 29 Nov 2012 03:30 AM PST

 
It’s one of the world’s greatest dreams, which must have entered the mind of any child old enough to wield a bucket and spade. Just what would you do with two billion tons of sand and a free hand?

Renowned New York designer Dror Benshetrit knows what he’d do. He’d build HavvAda, one of the most forward thinking eco-islands in the world, which challenges many of the established principles of high-density living and brings people together into a social whole.

Eco island HavvAda
 

 
So, first things first: you take your bucket and spade and create some hills. Six of them all in a circle, to be precise. Now you have an eco-island with some interesting bumps and a central valley. But where are the people going to live?

Challenge number one: get rid of the sky scrapers. These buildings have long been criticised by environmentalists because of the huge foundations needed to support their weight. In short: the taller they are, the bigger the hole you have to fill with concrete at the bottom.

So lay them down flat to give even weight distribution: easy. But long straight things are pretty boring, so how about we wrap them around something… those hills for example?

HavvAda Eco Island Residential

There, all done!

Challenge number two: bring the people together. You remember those six hills we first made with our bucket and spade? Well it’s time to leave the bucket and spade behind and bring a little more sophistication to our eco-island. Instead of having six hills, let’s have six geodesic domes.

These will be hollow, allowing habitation and congregation to happen internally as well as externally. The floor of each dome can be dedicated to one particular facet of life shared by all (sports, culture, education, etc) while the valley in the centre of the island can be the eco-island’s main commercial hub.

HavvAda Eco Island Inside The Dome

With transportation links based upon communal methods like cable cars and walkways, we’re all going to get along just fine

Final challenge: make the eco-island eco-friendly. Now that our eco-island has layers of buildings wrapped around its hollow hills, we can work with that to help build the ecology of the place.

The external parts of the wrap-around buildings can be transformed into an environmental wonderland where people can walk and enjoy the outdoors, and the insides can be designed to have naturally circulating air and greenery.

What’s more, because these hills are going to be up to 400 yards high, the variation in between the plains at sea level and their summits will create genuine micro climates with diverse biodiversity and agricultural opportunities.

Finally, install all those great renewable energy systems and don’t forget rainwater harvesting alongside your wind and solar power. Heat from the sun outside and people on the inside will ensure an abundance of energy, creating a net-positive eco-island whose hills really do live as independently functioning ecosystems.

HavvAda Eco Island Net Gain Energy

Just where’s this 2 billion tons of sand going to come from, anyway?

The rise of eastern European trade means that around 50,000 ships pass through the Bosporus every year, at least 10% of which are oil tankers. The Bosporus is a wiggly waterway which in places is only half a mile wide and the Turkish government has decided its getting way too crowded.

So they’re going to build a relief canal several miles away, very much like Suez or Panama. That’s going to need the removal of 1 billion cubic meters of earth, which equates to around 2 billion tons of sand.

You take this sand, lay it out in a 2-mile-wide circle and build your 400-yard-high domes on top of it. Cover them in a mesh and more earth and away you go.

And if you’ve read this far and are picking holes in the design: you’re right. It’s crazy, bonkers, fascinating stuff. But that’s the point: it’s a design, meant to be far-reaching and challenging, created as the pinprick of distant vision and ready to be refined and reworked by technical considerations.

But if only half of it happens (and let’s face it, two billion tons of sand isn’t going to disappear into thin air) it could be the start of a whole new way of building cities.

To find out more watch this video from the designers. And remember: design is at least two-fifths art!

Source: HavvAda Eco Island

Phenomenal Eco-Island Designed As Home To 300,000 People was originally published on: CleanTechnica


2 comments:

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