Friday, December 28, 2012

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

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Community Power: Renewing Communities Through Renewable Energy

Posted: 28 Dec 2012 12:00 AM PST

This is a post that was shared with me quite awhile back and offered up for reposting. Thanks to Christmas, I finally got the time to take a look and repost it. Enjoy!

Community Power: Renewing Communities Through Renewables

A joint article by 
Samantha Go and Devika Narayan, SolSolution 
Mümtaz Derya Tarhan, The Community Power Report

”…achieve something extraordinary, as a community”

Who would have a better understanding of a community’s needs than community members themselves? And who can come up with better solutions to those needs but the community itself?

Whether the need is economic, financial, environmental, or a combination of the three, local communities can respond to such needs through community-based renewable energy projects — or as we call them, Community Power projects.

There is much meaning behind the name Community Power. It does not only refer to electrical power generated by a community; it also implies individual and community empowerment.

Community Power enables individuals to take steps towards the betterment of the environment, their communities, and also their personal finances. It also enables these individuals to gather for a common purpose and achieve something extraordinary, as a community. This is where true economic, environmental and social sustainability lies. Through igniting individual behaviour change and community solidarity, Community Power starts an empowering process that enables communities to provide local solutions to their local needs for the long term.

Local Ownership Pays Off — For Everyone!

Local ownership accounts for 50% of all economic activity created by a project

Whether the locally generated electricity is sold to the grid or used to offset electricity costs through net metering or behind-the-meter usage, project owners receive a direct financial benefit from community power projects. A recent study from Germany revealed that half of all economic activity generated through a project returns directly to the pocket of project owners, or in other words, community members.

Community-based energy projects not only benefit their owners economically, but they lift up the entire local economy through additional employment and business opportunities as well as the creation of surplus dollars.

Local Energy Leads to More Sustainable Local Jobs

A National Renewable Energy Laboratory study found that the impact of community-owned projects on jobs creation during construction period is 1.1 to 1.3 times higher than corporate ones, and 1.1 to 2.8 times higher during operations period.

The employment and investment impact of community-owned projects can also go beyond a local community. Community ownership played a pivotal role in Germany and Denmark becoming global leaders not only in renewable energy generation but also in energy research & development and systems manufacturing. Currently, more than 50% of Germany’s renewable power is generated by community-based projects, and 80% of Denmark’s world-renowned windmills are cooperatively owned.

Going back to the local level, it has been shown that the surplus dollars generated by community-owned projects through ownership, employment and other business activities have a high chance of being spent within the community. A study by Iowa Policy Project shows that financial resources that remain in the community are more than five-fold for small wind projects owned by local community members compared to large wind projects owned by out-of-state companies.

Community Power uplifts the entire local economy

Community Power projects are versatile, because their strength lies in a local community's strength. Communities may be urban or rural; have a large tax base or not; may have a strong potential for whether solar, wind, biomass or hydro power. There is something that Community Power can do for all of them.

Community Power Leads Us Towards 'Negawatts'

While some may think the environmental benefits of community power projects go without saying, they actually go much deeper than one may initially think! Yes, generating our electricity from clean sources is important, but in order to combat climate change in a comprehensive and sustainable manner, conservation is indispensable. It is even widely recognized that conservation before any energy generation takes place is much more cost and time effective than combating the negative effects of climate change after the fact.

As underlined by Patrick Devine-Wright, the current scheme of centralized global electricity production from traditional sources creates a significant 'spatial and psychological distance' between energy generation and energy use. In simpler words, we just flick on and off without knowing where and how out electricity is generated, and without even a basic understanding of the economic, social, environmental, and personal impacts of electricity generation and use.

Community Power helps us understand
the impacts of our electricity
generation and consumption choices

Local ownership provides community members a direct stake in clean energy generation, and thereby reduces that ‘spatial and psychological distance’ and encourages a culture and behaviour change regarding electricity use. Community members, who are now more aware of how and where their electricity is generated, are also much more likely to consume it wisely.

In shorter words, Community Power helps individuals become more connected to themselves, the environment, their community, and to the world.

Securing Our Energy Future

Besides generating clean energy, community-owned projects also provide a more comprehensive and sustainable solution to our energy issues.

Generating electricity close to where it is consumed reduces efficiency losses during transmission. This can speed up the transition towards distributed power generation from centralized sources, protect the environment, and generate economic benefits at the micro and macro levels.

Remember the major blackout in 2003, anyone?

Distributed generation also increases a local grid's reliability towards reducing its dependence on outside sources. It is safe to say that Community Power paves the way towards a safer and more reliable energy future.

Social Empowerment

Community power projects are not only gaining momentum because of the economic and environmental advantages they provide, but also because of the immense social benefits they offer. Community-owned power projects encourage community-building and social cohesion as a group of ordinary citizens is presented with the opportunity to come together and achieve something extraordinary.

Students discover the true impact of solar panels on their school by looking closely at real-time solar data.

An essential part of ensuring community power projects keep thriving lies in communicating the benefits of renewable energy and community ownership. Educating the public about the significant impact and tangible benefits that community power projects offer can also help convince higher-level policy makers that they can take actions that significantly improve the quality of life in their neighbourhoods and districts. And where better to start the chain of education than with our future leaders?

Today, most of us just flick switches on and off without knowing where the electricity that powers our many gadgets comes from. Patrick Devine-Wright attributed this 'psychological distance' between energy generation and energy use to the current scheme of centralized global electricity production from traditional sources. One significant way in which we can bridge this mental gap is to educate our younger generation about where their electricity comes from. When kids are taught about energy production, it allows them to feel more connected to themselves, the environment, their community, and the world.

(Photo: Courtesy of Communities for Renewables)

Take SolSolution for example. They are a Boston-based green startup that provides solar energy solutions for K-12 schools and are dedicated to educating our next generation about renewable energy and community power. It has a clear yet powerful dual mission that seamlessly fuses community power and education.

The solar panels on the roofs serve as a catalyst for engaged, hands-on learning, and the students play an integral role in assessing their own school's solar capacity. The panels drive students' curiosity and interest in renewable energy projects and green entrepreneurship opportunities. By experiencing a solar installation firsthand, students are motivated to take their experience another step further. Whether it be talking with a skeptical parent or teacher about the benefits of green energy or being inspired to pursue their very own community power project, students' newfound knowledge moves them to take action. This, in turn, inspires parents, teachers, and neighbors to get involved after they witness how excited their kids are about green energy initiatives. By educating our future leaders and the general public about the importance and value of community power projects, many people will be motivated to make a difference in their own communities, fueling new, lasting and effective community power initiatives. When students are provided with the chance to see the concrete benefits of clean energy solutions, it allows them to connect what they are learning inside their science and math classrooms with possibilities outside the classroom in the present and future to make a difference for the world.

Community power projects are capable of producing great economic benefits both at the micro and macro levels and building a strong foundation for a safer and more reliable energy future. But the social benefits that they bring are where the real magic lies. These locally-owned projects have the capacity to bring entire neighbourhoods together by strengthening their core identity as a green community. From there, this joint, concerted effort can demonstrate the measurable and significant impact individual choices and actions have on our environment. That sense of ownership leads to a sense of pride in a community, improving the natural and social environment overall. Isn't that the type of neighborhood you want to live in?

Students are not the only community members who can benefit from learning about and starting their own community power projects. Anyone has the power to start a community power project, and by teaching people to embrace the positive change that comes along with community-based renewable energy projects, we can light up the path to a better, brighter future for us all.

What do you think about Community Power? What can it do for your community? Please feel free to contribute to our conversation by leaving us a comment below. Or you can tweet us with your thoughts and questions @thecpreport with hashtag #PowerUp.

Follow SolSolution on Twitter @thesolsolution and The Community Power Report @thecpreport

Samantha Go and Devika Narayan, SolSolution 

Mümtaz Derya Tarhan, The Community Power Report

Community Power: Renewing Communities Through Renewable Energy was originally published on: CleanTechnica

Energy Efficiency Saves New England $260 Million In Transmission Costs

Posted: 27 Dec 2012 01:04 PM PST

Energy efficiency represents the biggest potential to cut consumer costs and reduce power demand – one report has found America is just 43.8% efficient. While individual projects show small results, when they accumulate across a regional grid, efficiency savings add up quickly, as New England's grid operator recently discovered.

Is that an LED bulb in the iconic Maine lighthouse?

State and private programs designed to reduce consumer energy demand have recently cut the need for $260 million in planned transmission system upgrades across the six states within the ISO-New England (ISO-NE) region. The announcement was made during ISO-NE's energy-efficiency forecast, the first multi-state outlook in the U.S.

Big Investments = Big Energy Savings

ISO-NE is one of the nation's largest grid operators, managing electricity supply and demand for 14 million people in 6.5 million households and businesses across 8,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines and 350 generators. The system has more than 32,000 MW of capacity, including more than 2,000 MW of demand response resources.

Roughly $1.2 billion was spent across the ISO-NE region from 2008-2011, resulting in a total reduction of 3,502 gigawatt-hours (GWh) in electricity use. The average state reduced electricity consumption 876 GWh annually, with total summer peak demand savings of 514 megawatts (MW).

The overall effects of these savings are hard to ignore. Regional peak demand is only forecast to grow .9 percent from 2012–2021 (roughly 2/3 the previous estimate), with a flat annual growth in energy consumption over the same period, and winter peak demand actually projected to decline nearly .5 percent.

Lower Demand Leads To Lower Infrastructure Costs

In the long term, this consumption decline will have a major impact. From 2015–2012, ISO-NE estimates annual savings of 1,343 GWh from energy efficiency — roughly the same amount of electricity used by 2 million average homes in the region. New England will spend an estimated $5.7 billion on energy efficiency program over the same time period, according to the report.

As a result, ISO-NE was able to lower long-term planning needs for the system's grid beyond 2020. "Revised analysis shows that the region can actually defer 10 transmission upgrades that earlier studies showed were needed to ensure system reliability," said Stephen Rourke, vice president for system planning. "By deferring these upgrades, the region will save an estimated $260 million."

Energy efficiency programs across the region were comprised of relatively simple steps, like encouraging consumers to swap out incandescent light bulbs for efficient lighting like CFLs or LEDs, upgrade HVAC systems and building insulation, purchase Energy Star appliances, or integrate more efficient industrial processes and motors.

Diverse Funding Streams Foot the Bill

Funding for the 125 different individual programs has come from four main sources: state-designated funding, revenue from the system's Forward Capacity Market (long-term capacity sales), a designated "systems benefits charge" on ratepayer bills, and revenue from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

Energy efficiency programs have been the largest recipients of RGGI investments by far, garnering 66 percent of all carbon auction revenue to date, according to the RGGI 2011 Investment Report.

Given all this, it's no surprise New England leads the U.S. in the energy efficiency economy, with Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, and Rhode Island all listed in the annual ranking of the top ten most energy efficient states.

Image Credits: Maine lighthouse image via Shutterstock; electricity demand chart via ISO on Background presentation

Energy Efficiency Saves New England $260 Million In Transmission Costs was originally published on: CleanTechnica

On Dancer, Prancer, Rudolf, And Other Reindeer Resting On Wind Turbines

Posted: 27 Dec 2012 12:47 PM PST

Thank you New Energy News for keeping us in time and in tune with the happenings of reindeer. Forget the troubles of the day, forget what the paparazzi does to the private lives of stars, just take a moment to unwind with Lapland’s Reindeer and New Zealand’s children.

How enchanting to refresh oneself with views of the sweet children from Wellington, New Zealand and to hear the voices of wind turbine technicians as they share with us images from the resting spot of Rudolf and friends… as the reindeer rejuvenate themselves and plan their journeys onward. Love form the folks and reindeer of Wellington, New Zealand, a land known for winds and coffee with the froth blown off the top.


Image Credit: Reindeer by dration

On Dancer, Prancer, Rudolf, And Other Reindeer Resting On Wind Turbines was originally published on: CleanTechnica

“Cycle To Work” Scheme Improves Participants’ Health & Reduces Pollution

Posted: 27 Dec 2012 12:23 PM PST

In Britain, there is an incentive to encourage people to ride their bicycles to work. It is called the “Cycle to Work” scheme.

Under this scheme, prospective cyclists can end up paying up to 40% less than the original price of the bike they want to purchase, but this funding is capped at £1,000 ($1,600) per bike.

Cyclist on bike.

The employer actually pays the full price of the bike at first, but the employee repays this loan over a 12-month period via pre-tax payroll deductions.

This scheme was actually started in 1999, and it has been highly successful in encouraging bike ridership. It has helped people to over 400,000 individuals to get bikes.

The carbon dioxide emissions output reduction caused by it is “equivalent to the output of a city of 60,000 people.”

Reducing carbon dioxide emissions is only one of the major benefits of this program.

It eliminates air pollution caused by automobiles, as well. Typical gasoline and diesel-powered automobiles emit the toxic carbon monoxide, pollutants that cause lung and heart cancer, and sulfur dioxide — and not just in industrial/commercial locations like power plants, but everywhere, even in residential areas.

There is another, even more important group of health benefits that come with the exercise gained by cycling, benefits simply from the physical exercise.

For example, one person who participated, Toby Field, said that he has lost 119 pounds. A huge step from 294 pounds (21 stone), to a more normal 175 pounds. He was partially encouraged to participate due to the fact his father died from obesity-related health problems at the age of 55.

Cycling is also good for the pocketbook. Cycling provides regular exercise, which you don’t have to pay regularly for as you do at the gym. And to top it off, it enables you to save a tremendous amount of money on transportation. Cars are very costly compared to bicycles.

Source: Planetizen
Photo Credit: The Atlantic Cities

“Cycle To Work” Scheme Improves Participants’ Health & Reduces Pollution was originally published on: CleanTechnica

Biggest Community-Owned Solar Array In US Now Online

Posted: 27 Dec 2012 12:01 PM PST

The San Miguel Power Association Community Solar Array, the largest community-owned solar facility in the country, is now officially open. At its location in southwestern Colorado, the 1.1MW solar array provides power to more than 200 homes.


According to Paul Spencer, the CEO and the founder of the Clean Energy Collective (CEC), this project shows that the ease and affordability of the community-owned but utility-scale model is going to have a large effect on future development.

"We are leveraging scalability to the benefit of individual panel owners," he says. "You don't even need a roof to adopt clean energy today, and the paybacks are higher than ever – both for the environment and financially."

Individuals who are interested can participate by purchasing panels at the facility for $705 each, getting as many as they like, offsetting all or part of their electricty needs, with the credit for the power produced showing up directly on their monthly bills.

The $705 includes all of the tax credits and electricity discounts that customers would receive if the solar panels were installed on their actual homes. And the panels will be maintained for at least 50 years by the CEC, leaving the customers with no maintenance or repair costs.

“In addition to the SMPA Community Solar Array, CEC has partnered with six other utilities and has 14 shared solar projects operating or under construction, representing more than 5,300 kW of community-sited solar PV. By the end of 2013, Spencer estimates CEC's community-owned arrays will be providing upwards of 10 MW of energy capacity, with that number eclipsing 100 MW nationally by 2015.”

Source: Energy Digital
Image Credits: Jeffco Public Schools

Biggest Community-Owned Solar Array In US Now Online was originally published on: CleanTechnica

Chinese Hydro Developer Invests in 40MW PV Farm

Posted: 27 Dec 2012 11:32 AM PST

The Sinohydro Group, a Chinese hydroelectric dam builder, has approved plans to construct a 40-megawatt photovoltaic solar farm in the Chinese province of Gansu.

Chinese Hydro Developer to Invest in Solar

Panorama of the lower Daxia River valley in Gansu Province

Located in the northwest of the country, the Gansu province lies between the Tibuetan and Huangtu plateaus. It borders Mongolia.

Sinohydro’s board of directors has approved an investment of RMB443 million ($71.1 million) in the 40MW PV plant, which is part of a larger renewable energy plan that will also see two wind farms built in the area.

Sinohydro is set to end up investing a total of RMB1.36 billion in the three projects.

On top of that, Sinohydro has let it be known that it is considering investing a further RMB1.2 billion in an attempt to stabilise the company’s capital management and broaden its financing channels.

For a country such as China, developing into a massive world-power (both financially and industrially), many would argue that clean energy has been underdeveloped, forcing the country into being one of the planet’s biggest emitters of pollutant gasses.

One can hope that a move such as this by Sinohydro is a step in the right direction for the whole country.

Source: PVTech
Image Source: Wikipedia

Chinese Hydro Developer Invests in 40MW PV Farm was originally published on: CleanTechnica

RoboSmart Bluetooth Smart Wireless LED Light Bulb

Posted: 27 Dec 2012 11:29 AM PST

Smart Home Labs have revealed the new RoboSmart wireless LED lighting system that enables users to control their lighting from their smartphones, tablet or computer using Bluetooth technology.

New Smart Phone Bluetooth enabled Lightbulb

Another lightbulb to be searching for funding underneath the Indiegogo platform, the RoboSmart is an energy-efficient Bluetooth Smart enabled LED lightbulb which allows anyone the ability to customise their lighting from anywhere thanks to apps for both iOS and Android, allowing users to use either a tablet or a smart phone.

Additional features and capabilities include:

  • Each RoboSmart Light Bulb can be assigned a unique light, group and room name by the free Smart Lights App for easy identification.
  • Warm white light 2700K or 3000K at 480 and 800 Lumens Fully dimmable attractive design with omni-direction light dispersion.
  • Full Automation: RoboSmart Light Bulb has 100 levels of brightness, can turn on or off, or run programs at set dates and times based on your scheduling preferences.
  • Proximity and Indoor Location – RoboSmart Light Bulb can tell when you arrive and when you leave. They can follow you around the house, automatically turning on and off as they sense you approach or depart.
  • Lighting for information at a glance – RoboSmart Light Bulb can alert you to important information, such as important emails or social media messages.
  • The Smart Lights App allows multiple RoboSmart Light Bulb to be grouped together for simultaneous control, allowing the production of any light scene combination.
  • Power Monitoring – RoboSmart Light Bulb reports power consumption for periodic reporting

More from IM:

Source: Indiegogo and Smart Home Labs via BusinessWire

RoboSmart Bluetooth Smart Wireless LED Light Bulb was originally published on: CleanTechnica

ChargePoint Unveils New EV Charging Smartphone App With “All” US Charging Stations

Posted: 27 Dec 2012 10:37 AM PST

The largest online network of independently owned EV charging stations, operating in more than 14 countries, ChargePoint introduced earlier this month the newest electric vehicle charging station mobile application for all iPhone and Android smart phones.

ChargePoint Unveils New EV Charging Smart Phone App

The new application has an all-new user experience and look and now features ‘all’ EV charging stations installed in the United States, not just those on the ChargePoint network.

On top of that, the free application now lets users easily identify which station is closest to their current location and the prices available.

"ChargePoint is the world's largest electric vehicle global charging network," said Pat Romano, president and CEO of ChargePoint.

"One feature EV drivers have requested is the ability to navigate, access and charge at any electric vehicle charging station, not just those on the ChargePoint network. With more than ten thousand EV charging spots on the ChargePoint network and thousands more out of the network it is the easiest way to find any EV charging station anywhere in North America."

The ChargePoint EV charging station mobile app allows EV drivers to:

  • Find charging stations near you or near any specified address.
  • Get turn-by-turn directions to charging stations.
  • See the real-time availability of charging stations: Available or In Use.
  • Load detailed maps quickly. Drivers can switch between map view and list view for simple navigation.
  • Add, remove and recall your favorite places to charge.
  • Create a new ChargePoint account directly from your phone.
  • Start and stop charging sessions directly from your smart phone. (*)
  • Get directions from your current location to where your EV is charging. (*)
  • Get status on your current or most recent EV charging session: energy used, greenhouse gas savings and charging time. (*)
  • Receive real-time notifications of your current charging session. (*)

(*) Some features require a free ChargePoint driver account. Visit to create your account and sign up for a ChargePoint card.

ChargePoint Unveils New EV Charging Smartphone App With “All” US Charging Stations was originally published on: CleanTechnica

Wind Turbine Syndrome… Not!

Posted: 27 Dec 2012 07:31 AM PST

Recently, a supposed “peer-reviewed” paper on the effects of living near wind turbines was released. As has been the case for many years, there are a few opponents of wind energy (mostly in or related to fossil fuel or nuclear industries), and they’ve been trying to make wind energy out to be some big, bad, scary energy option that it simply isn’t. The main focus has been on the sound that wind turbines create. This recent paper seems to be just another such attempt… and a badly performed one.

Before we get into this recent study, a few quick notes:

1) I intend to keep this page updated with any news I find regarding wind turbine noise studies. Bookmark the page for future reference if this is an important topic to you.

2) To date, there is no scientific evidence that anything such as “Wind Turbine Syndrome” actually exists (as those two articles to which I just linked will tell you). In other words, there’s no scientific evidence that wind turbine noise has any noticeable effect on human health.

3) Since most of you probably haven’t been near a wind turbine, take a look at this graphic below, which indicates how the sound of wind turbines compares to other, more familiar machines at various distances:

Evaluating “Effects of industrial wind turbine noise on sleep and health”

“Effects of industrial wind turbine noise on sleep and health” is the name of the study noted at the top of the page. The study was authored by Jeffery Aramini, Michael Nissenbaum, and Christopher Hanning.

Before getting into a longer evaluation of the study itself, BigCityLib makes some points about the authors that are probably worth a bit of consideration:

“Firstly, all three authors, Jeffery Aramini, Michael Nissenbaum and Christopher Hanning, are long-time anti-wind activists. Furthermore, the three reviewers mentioned in the paper are all paid anti-wind ‘experts’ who have a long history of directly testifying against wind energy in various court cases. One of them, Carl Phillips, lost his position at the University of Alberta several years ago for taking money from the tobacco industry.

Yikes, but there’s always room for redemption, right?

I also got this note from Chris Varrone of:

Sample size: 18, 20, 14, 27

Are they joking?

They found that in a sample of EIGHTEEN PEOPLE who lived close to the WTGs, there was evidence of sleep problems?… This is a laughable sample size. NO ONE would take such a study seriously.

Nielsen requires 1,800 households to do TV ratings weekly — and is roundly criticized for not using higher sample sizes….

Whatever this is, it is not science.

Also worthy of note before delving into the “science” is that “Aramini’s training is as a veterinarian; Michael Nissenbaum is a radiologist; and Christopher Hanning is an Anaesthetist.”


Now, to get into the study in more detail, here’s a lengthy response to the paper from Mike Barnard on Quora:

Summary:  Its reliability is very low.  This is a flawed and misleadingly titled study by long-time anti-wind lobbyists.

  • It mistakes correlation for causation, and overstates correlation
  • It downplays or ignores long-understood impacts of both bias and impacts of change in creating annoyance
  • There are significant unstated conflicts-of-interest, biases and allegiances to an anti-wind lobbyist group among the six authors and reviewers
  • One of the authors has been actively involved in creating anti-wind bias and annoyance in these sites for years
  • It should be considered against the 17 major world-wide reviews to date which have found no health impacts from wind generation.
  1. The study overstates causation and correlation, and understates the impact of bias of the studied groups.a.  Nissenbaum et al are overstating the strength of the correlation that their data shows. In contrast to the conclusions, figures 1 and 2 show a very weak dose-response, if there is one at all. The near horizontal ‘curve fits’ and large amount of data scatter are indications of the weak relationship between sleep quality and turbine distance. The authors seem to use a low p-value as support for the hypothesis that sleep disturbance is related to turbine distance. A better interpretation of the p-value related to a near horizontal line fit would be that it suggests a high probability of a weak dose response. Correlation coefficients are not given but should have been to indicate the quality of the curve fits. Intrinsik points out an additional failing of the report:

    Although there was a statistically significant difference between the mean PSQI scores in the near (7.8) and far group (6.0), it is important to remember that both of these average scores are greater than 5, which would qualify both groups as "poor sleepers". When one examines the reported "% of PSQI score >5" no statistical difference between the near and far groups was found (p=0.0745).

    b. As the Intrinsik assessment points out:

    Given that the relationship between noise from wind turbines and health concerns is the fundamental premise of the study by Nissenbaum et al., it is surprising that the authors gave such little consideration to collection of actual sound data measurements at the study participant homes. The use of post-hoc sound data, visually obtained from figures in reports, is not scientifically defensible and should not have been used to draw conclusions about the findings of the questionnaires with distance from turbine locations. [16]

    c. Intrinsik also points out the misleading title of the study, another case of overstating conclusions available from the data:

    We also believe that the title of the paper "Effects of industrial wind turbine noise on sleep and health" is not supported given the nature of the data presented. No evidence with respect to sound level (noise) and its effect on sleep and health has been presented in this paper  [16]

    Given that the authors themselves admit that they can’t construct a dose-response curve, their conclusion that wind farms affect sleep is surprising:

    In their paper Nissenbaum et al. state that noise emitted by IWTs can affect sleep. However, their results do not support this statement. In fact, the authors state that "The data on measured and estimated noise levels were not adequate to construct a dose-response curve…" and no statistical analyses were conducted to assess this supposed relationship. Therefore, we do not believe that Nissenbaum et al. (2012) show any statistical difference in overall "poor" sleep quality or sleepiness between the groups. [16]

    d.  The studied communities, via agitators such as Nissenbaum, have developed strong negative attitudes to wind farms.  As this study shows, this is a much better predictor of the effects Nissenbaum is claiming than any actual noise from wind farms. [4]

    Intrinsik goes further and asserts the conclusion that the authors, if unbiased, would have found from the data, that the study groups were annoyed by changes in their environment and self-reported health impacts arose from annoyance with the change:

    The authors pointed out that visual cue and attitude towards wind turbines"are known to affect the psychological response to environmental noise".While this may be true, visual cue and attitude by themselves have been shown to be stronger drivers of psychological responses than a wind-turbine specific variable like sound itself (e.g., Pedersen 2004). Therefore, a conclusion that can be drawn from this study is that the self-reported health effects of people living near wind turbines can be likely attributable to physical manifestations from an annoyed state, rather than a wind-turbine specific factor like noise. Indeed, the weight of evidence in the wind turbine and human health literature points to a causal relationship between self-reported health effects and annoyance, which is to say annoyance brought on by the change in the local environment(i.e., a decrease in amenity) that wind turbines represent (Knopper and Ollson 2011). [16]

    e.  The authors’ treatment of bias is poor, stating without evidence that accounting for selection and reporting bias would make their conclusions stronger, not weaker.

    f.  The sample size is small as is the control group (many studies have small sample sizes; this makes this less authoritative, not worthless in and of itself.)

  2. The study group has undisclosed biases influenced by one of the authors.This is not Nissenbaum’s first study of the Mars Hill or the Vinalhaven wind farms.  He ran studies there in 2010 and 2011 as well, using a format pioneered by anti-wind folks in the UK and then by Nina Pierpont, creator of Wind Turbine Syndrome. [3], [9] The a-scientific studies are so poorly constructed that they are guaranteed to make people ascribe new symptoms to wind turbines, and to take completely ignored minor symptoms and turn them into major complaints. These studies have pre-loaded the biases of these study groups, making it difficult to accept the the conclusions of this better structured study.  The data this study is based upon is not new data, but data that was obtained several years ago that has been presented at the ICBEN conference in London (UK) over a year ago and has been presented as part of anti-wind farm submissions, which is not unusual, but the data and the conclusions Nissenbaum et al have been putting forward has been strongly criticized in the past. [10] For example, a 2012 Massachusetts expert panel had this to say about the conclusions:

    details of how homes were identified, how many homes/people were approached, and differences between those who did and did not participate are important to know. Without this, attributing any of the observed associations to the wind turbines (either noise from them or the sight of them) is premature. [16]

  3. The authors’ pre-existing bias is not disclosed or accounted for.Jeffery Aramini is the person most often interviewed in newspaper reports but the study is co-authored with Michael Nissenbaum and Christopher Hanning.

    a. Aramini has maintained a lower profile than Nissenbaum and Hanning, but is on the Advisory Group of an anti-wind lobbyist group, Wind Vigilance. [11]
    b. Nissenbaum is a long-time anti-wind activist and also a member of the Advisory Group of Wind Vigilance. [1]
    c. Hanning is a long-time anti-wind activist as well, who has been writing anti-wind papers that have not been able to get into even low-impact, peer-reviewed journals and is also on the Advisory Group of Wind Vigilance.[2] [12]

    Fronting with the lower profile Aramini in newspaper interviews appears to be a convenient way to disguise the deep and long-standing bias of the authors.

    The authorial bias can easily be detected by the inappropriate use of the emotionally laden “industrial wind turbine”, a term which was selected and focussed grouped by anti-wind lobbying organizations associated with the Koch Brothers.[14]  Neutral language includes “wind turbine” and “wind turbine generator”.

  4. The thanked reviewers have unstated biases and conflicts-of-interest as they are paid anti-wind experts who have a long history of directly testifying against wind energy.a. Carl Phillips is relatively new to this group, having been asked to leave his post at an Alberta university for taking tobacco industry money and remarkably finding that tobacco products were much less harmful than people thought.[6]  He has found a new source of funds in anti-wind lobbying.  As he says on his blog, Ep-Ology:

    I knew what answer I was going to present from the start. So when I wrote my COI [conflict of interest] statement, I did not hesitate to describe, matter-of-fact, that I do work as a testifying expert on behalf of communities fighting the siting of local wind turbines.

    b. Rand not only testifies, his firm gains revenue from measuring sound near wind farms for complainants and to assist litigation. [7]  Rand, in any event,
    c. James has been testifying for fee against wind farms since 2006.[8]

    Phillips and James are both members of the Advisory Group of Wind Vigilance as well.  The three thanked are bolstering their court room pitches, and cannot be considered credible unbiased assessors. If they are the only peer reviewers, this is grounds for retraction. As their conflicts and pre-existing biases are unstated, this too is grounds for serious concern.

  5. Noise and Health is a rarely referenced journal of low impact.The journal, Noise and Health has a very low impact index of 1.2, meaning that few researchers reference their studies; there can be a variety of reasons for this including poor quality or trivial papers. [5]  The journal may not have sought independent reviewers who would have pointed out the flaws in the article, but may have accepted the reviewers that came with the article as suggestions.  If the journal did not gain separate review, this is a reason for retraction in and of itself.
  6. Wind Vigilance, on whose Advisory Group five of six authors and reviewers sit, has been promoting wind health issues in the absence of peer-reviewed evidence and against 17 major studies’ findings for years. As Wind Vigilance is a central theme to this, it would be useful to understand their positions and the degree of evidence behind them:

    Based on a review of the evidence, the Society for Wind Vigilance is satisfied that there is a significant probability of adverse health effects for human subjects living within 2.0 km of land based industrial wind turbines. The Society for Wind Vigilance recognizes the urgent need for further human health research to finalize guidelines for siting and noise levels that will protect human health. In the interim the Society for Wind Vigilance recommends that land based industrial wind turbines be sited a minimum of 2 km from the property line of non participating residents. Distances greater than 2 km will typically be required for special terrain such as turbines on ridges and offshore turbines. [13]

    Bolding is mine to indicate statements which require elaboration:
    1. This statement was released April 2012, six months before the first peer-reviewed paper that found any issues with wind energy and health was published.  In the meantime, 17 major reviews by independent and credible organizations worldwide of thousands of pieces of peer-reviewed research found no issue with wind energy and human health.  On what grounds did Wind Vigilance make the assessment that all of the other studies and the vast majority of medical, engineering and acoustic professionals were wrong?  On what grounds did they decide on 2 kilometers?
    2. “Industrial wind turbines” is the preferred emotive phrasing of anti-wind lobbyists.  It is not neutral language in this discussion, just as “wind farms” is the preferred emotive language of pro-wind advocates (including me).  This language was created by lobbying organizations associated with the Koch Brothers and other astroturf funding undiversified fossil fuel organizations.[14]
    3. The reasoning behind greater setbacks on ridges and lakes is not explained, but given the weakness of the rest of their position, it can only be to ensure that wind turbines will never be seen or heard.  Obviously this is an extreme and foolish position.

    That five of six authors and reviewers of this paper are so tightly associated with an organization with such a strong and strident opposition to evidence-based siting guidelines and wind energy in general is indicative.  That they do not make clear their association, their long-standing bias and their conflicts-of-interest is also indicative.

  7. 17 major reviews have found no health impacts from wind energyThis single paper must be contrasted to the 17 (to-date) major reviews world-wide of hundreds or thousands of peer-reviewed articles related to wind energy, health and noise which have found no health impacts.  All studies agree that a small subset of people very close to wind farms find the noise annoying. [15]  The best consensus is that the vast majority of health complaints attributed to wind energy are the result of a psychogenic or communicated psychosomatic illness; people are making themselves sick when they are told that they will get sick. [15]

Full disclosure. This assessment was developed with the assistance of:

  • Dr. David Perry — Dr. Perry holds degrees in electrical engineering and neuroscience from The University of Melbourne and a PhD from the Bionics Institute examining how sound stimulation from a cochlear implant is represented in the brain. Dr. Perry is also on the Board of Directors of community-owned wind project Hepburn Wind in Australia.
  • Richard Mackie – Mr. Mackie is an Engineer with degrees from the University of Auckland and the Australian Graduate School of Management. He is Managing Director of Advanced Energy Consulting (Australia) which does work related to wind energy projects.
  • The Intrinsik professional assessment upon which some of the comments are based was funded by CanWEA (Canadian Wind Energy Association).

[1] Dr. Michael A. Nissenbaum – The Society for Wind Vigilance
[5] Journal and Academic Rankings
[6] Tobacco researcher leaves U of A
[7] Wind Turbines: Published Articles
[8] Mike Barnard’s answer to Wind Power: Is Dr. Nina Pierpoint’s “Wind Turbine Syndrome” a real medical syndrome caused by wind turbines?
[11] Jeff Aramini, DVM, MSC, PHD – The Society for Wind Vigilance
[12] Dr Chris Hanning – The Society for Wind Vigilance
[13] News – The Society for Wind Vigilance
[14] Turbine foes try to forge national opposition movement
[15] Wind Power: What might cause people who live near wind turbines to get sick?

Additional references:
[1] Additional background on the authors and the nature of the preceding studies performed by Mr. Nissenbaum here:  A Vet, A Radiologist, And An Anaesthetist Walk Into A Scientific Controversy…
[3] Nissenbaum paper recycles claims on wind energy and health already found inadequate by courts and expert panel
[4]BigCityLib Strikes Back - The Full Nissenbaum

Wind Turbine Syndrome… Not! was originally published on: CleanTechnica

Stanford Solar Car Updates

Posted: 27 Dec 2012 07:00 AM PST

The Stanford team that’s working on its next solar-powered car for the annual solar car race across Australia recently dropped a bunch of updates on its blog. From one of the updates, I’ll simply drop some of their photos and a video below — for text on what they’ve been up to, check out Update 5 or the home page of the Stanford Solar Car Project.

Stanford Solar Car Updates was originally published on: CleanTechnica

10 Top EV Stories From 2012

Posted: 27 Dec 2012 04:30 AM PST

2012 has been a pretty notable year for electric vehicles. For one, more EVs have been sold this year than in any year in history — but that’s rather expected, isn’t it? Beyond that fact, which will likely be repeated for many years to come, let’s have a quick look at some of the other top EV stories of the year.

10. Recording-breaking year: Well, let’s start with the point above. Over 47,500 EVs have been sold in the US this year, the most ever in a single year. Furthermore, November sales were the highest for any month to date, yet another sign of where we’re headed. Also, globally, alternative fuel vehicles had a record year: “sales are up an astounding 73%, with nearly 440,000 hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and electrics sold thus far this year.” There were a number of more fanciful records set as well:


9. Nissan: struggling, under pressure, but still ambitious. Nissan is far off its Leaf sales targets and is facing a lot of criticism (not to mention financial struggles) from it, but the pure-electric (for the masses) pioneer still opened an EV battery manufacturing plant in Tennessee, and it’s hopeful that it will have a bright EV future despite a less than ideal 2012.

empulse r

8. Electric Motorcycles — Represent! Does anyone still use that line? Anyway, some top electric motorcycle companies had some things to celebrate this year. Zero Motorcycles (an electric motorcycle company) sold more electric motorcycles in January than in all of 2011! It also announced a new model, the FX. Additionally, Brammo delivered its first electric Empulse motorcycle.

7. Chevy Volt: Winning! For the second year in a row, a higher percentage of Chevy Volt owners said they’d buy the car again than owners of any other car on the market (US). 92% of them said so. Meanwhile, the Volt dominated EV/hybrid sales throughout the year. It sold 20,828 vehicles January through November, 239.1% more than the same period last year. That’s a lot more than the 8,330 Nissan Leafs sold through November and the 11,389 Prius PHEVs. This is all after a concerning start in which conservative Bob Lutz had to fight back the anti-EV conservative crowd on FOX News.

White Tesla Model S

6. Tesla: Winning! Tesla’s new Model S won Motor Trend‘s “Car of the Year” award. In other words, some of the top car journalists in the world consider the Model S the top car around (of any type). The EV maker, which has almost rockstar status, also announced it is taking aim at the European market, with a new factory in the Netherlands and its European pricing plan announced. The pioneering EV company also happened to win a lawsuit regarding its unique, Apple-like dealership approach.

5. The Ford C-Max Hybrid starts strong. The hybrid electric vehicle broke the hybrid launch sales record this year. "For October and November, the all-new Ford C-Max sold 8,030 units, making it the highest-selling hybrid vehicle ever in the first two months. The sales significantly surpassed the 7,300 Camry Hybrids that Toyota sold in that car's first two months on the market, back in May and June of 2006. Ford also calculates that C-Max sales are moving three times faster than combined results from the first hybrids on the US market – the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight – which were launched in 2000."

Wireless EV charger from Evatran.

4. Wireless charging really becoming something. Raleigh, NC announced that it would become the first US city to join the Apollo Program, a wireless EV charging trial program, and Sacramento announced it was joining the program around the same time. We’ve also seen a wireless electric bus developed by Utah State University, and the UK city of Milton Keynes is going the wireless route. Additionally, after some trialling with Google, the LA Dept of Water & Power, and HertzPlugless Power now offers consumers wireless EV charging for the Leaf and Volt (and probably other cars), while Momentum Dynamics is also looking to get into the game. Plus, there’s continuous news of folks trying to bring us roads that wirelessly power our cars (and even much more).

envia ev battery breakthrough

3b. Batteries, batteries, batteries. It’s no secret, everyone is hoping for batteries to improve a lot in order for EVs to really take off, and there are a ton of scientists working to make it happen. Here are some of the bigger EV battery headlines from the past year:

3a. EVs aren’t just driving machines. I think one of the most underrated things about electric vehicles (in consumer minds) is what they offer beyond transportation, largely because of their batteries. EV batteries can save lives, mostly because the batteries can help create microgrids that can serve many critical purposes. Victims of Hurricane sandy even used their cars to power their many electronic needs when the power went out for an extended period of time. And here’s something I expect to see much more of in 2013 and 2014: IBM, Honda, and PG&E in 2012 launched a pilot project to experiment with communication between EVs and the grid.

2. EVs can now save you big money. The price of EVs is at such a level now that many of you can save thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars over the lifetime of an EV if you purchase one instead of a comparable ICE vehicle. In some cases, you could be saving money after just 1 or 2 years. Seriously, just do the math.

1. Tons of new EVs. Perhaps most importantly, there have been many entries into the EV market this year, and many announced EVs that will soon be hitting the market. This includes the following (and probably more):

As a clear indication of the rise of EVs, these cleaner vehicles dominated the EPA’s recently released list of the most fuel efficient cars on the market. Well,… all 10 cars were EVs of some sort.

A few honorable mentions that didn’t make the list include: the proliferation of home EV chargers, including 30 now being sold on Home Depot’s website; GE’s big purchase of 2,000 EVs and its plans to buy more in years to come; the rise of EV taxi fleets (including EV scooter taxis); 8 top automakers agreeing on standardized EV charging details and a fast-charging EV charger standard being set by the SAE; Blink’s 1-million-charge milestone; the Union of Concerned Scientists releasing of a landmark report showing that EVs are indeed better for the environment and save you a ton on fuel; Mitsubishi announcing that it would offer a plug-in electric version of every one of its models within 4 years; the largest EV fast-charging network in the US getting rolled out and the West Coast EV highway getting started; the Pope going electric; the growth of EV carsharing; tons of new EV smartphone apps;… oh, and I became a full-hearted fan of EVs.

Any other stories to add?

10 Top EV Stories From 2012 was originally published on: CleanTechnica

Biggest Solar Power Company in U.S. Could More than Double in Size

Posted: 27 Dec 2012 02:12 AM PST

With control over 320 megawatts of solar power generating capacity, Florida-based NextEra Energy Resources already calls itself the biggest solar power company in the U.S. (at least for now), and it is about to add a whopping 750 more megawatts in one fell swoop if the Environmental Impact Statement for its proposed McCoy solar energy project in California passes muster. Among other issues, habitat protection for the Desert Tortoise is a key item.

new solar project on public land must protect desert tortoise habitat

If it does make the grade, the significance of the McCoy solar project goes far beyond bragging rights for just NextEra Energy. Assuming that it hits the ground on schedule in 2013, it will help push President Obama’s ambitious renewable energy initiative for public lands far beyond its original goal of 10,000 megawatts, zooming from zero to 10,400 megawatts since 2009.

The McCoy Solar Project

Though not the biggest solar project planned for pubic land in California, the NextEra project (through McCoy Solar LLC) is massive by any measure. If approved, its 750 megawatts are enough to provide electricity for 225,000 homes. Including a 14-mile line and a two-acre switch yard, the installation will be developed on about 4,400 acres.

Most of the land is managed by the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management, located in Riverside County, California.

One key to approval of the project will be the company’s plans for mitigating impacts on the habitat of the Desert Tortoise. The original project boundaries were changed in order to avoid some impacts. Additional mitigation measures include an equivalent tradeoff in protections for habitat outside of the project.

For the record, as of this writing the largest planned solar project planned for California is Solar Millenium’s 1,000-megawatt Blythe project in the Mohave desert.

More and Bigger Solar Power Projects

To give you an idea of how rapidly the solar power field is advancing, back in 2009 the President’s goal was to authorize 10,000 megawatts of utility-scale renewable energy projects on public land covering solar power along with wind and other renewable sources, by 2013.

This past October, the Administration laid out an ambitious blueprint for another 23,7000 megawatts in solar power alone on public land.

That dovetails with a Memorandum of Understanding that Interior and the Department of Defense signed a few months back, which streamlines the process for siting utility-scale renewable energy projects at military facilities.

Standalone, utility-scale renewable energy projects at public facilities also got a boost last year, when the Army launched the Energy Initiatives Task Force. This special office was set up to relieve individual base commanders from having to reinvent the wheel for each power project.

Meanwhile, utility scale renewable power is just one sustainable avenue toward energy security that the Obama Administration has been pursuing. The initiatives also include a heavy dose of individual-oriented energy conservation, building retrofits and energy data management strategies through the Better Buildings and Green Button initiatives.

Perhaps the best example of this distributed, democratic side of the renewable power scene is the Administration’s new Plug and Play solar power initiative, which aims to make solar power as affordable and universally accessible as any other major appliance.

Image (cropped): Desert Tortoise by Averain

Follow me on Twitter: @TinaMCasey

Biggest Solar Power Company in U.S. Could More than Double in Size was originally published on: CleanTechnica

California Sets Second Cap-And-Trade Emissions Auction

Posted: 27 Dec 2012 02:09 AM PST

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has issued official notice that the state's cap-and-trade program will hold its second auction of greenhouse gas allowances on February 19, 2013. The state's system is the second functional carbon market in the U.S., following the Northeast's Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

Cap-and-trade could clear the air while boosting the economy

California's February auction will offer nearly 13 million 2013 vintage allowances and 9.5 million 2016 future vintage allowances for sale, and is the next step toward maturity for the world's second-largest carbon market, which will eventually cover 85 percent of all state emissions.

Allowance Prices Set to Rise

The system's first auction, declared "a success" by state regulators, resulted in a complete sell out of all 23.1 million available 2013 vintage allowances at $10.09 per allowance, just over the set floor price of $10. While the clearing price was relatively low, analysts have forecast allowances will sell for just over $14 in 2013.

California's cap-and-trade system is an attempt to reduce its emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, roughly a 17 percent reduction. The state emits roughly 447 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, and while the largest percentage comes from transportation, just over a third come from electricity generation and industrial sources.

These large-volume emitters (more than 25,000 annual metric tons of CO2) must now abide by a "cap" on emissions that declines every year. Additional emitters will enter the system in 2015. If companies cannot reduce their emissions to meet the cap through offsets or efficiency measures, they must turn in allowances equal to their excess emissions.

Allowances are purchased through quarterly auctions, and authorize the holder to emit one ton of carbon. During the first auction, these large-scale emitters, known as "compliance entities," purchased 97 percent of all sold allowances.

A Climate Dividend for Consumers

To alleviate concerns the system could lead to higher prices for electricity and fuel, state regulators have directed roughly 85 percent of all allowance revenue to return directly to households in the form of a climate dividend.

Twice per year, each household will be given a credit on their utility bills, with the total amount depending on auction revenue. State regulators estimate the system will return up to $22.6 billion to utility ratepayers by 2020.

First California, Then America?

Stakes are high for California's cap-and-trade system. Beyond reducing emissions in America's largest state and the sixth-largest economy in the world, success in the Sunshine State could have a regional ripple effect, strengthening other carbon markets.

Under the Western Climate Initiative, California plans to link its carbon market with Quebec's provincial system, set to launch in 2013. The two systems could hold their first joint auction in August 2013, increasing the overall market 20 percent and creating the first international carbon market in North America.

Regulators have also considered linking to RGGI, and success in California's system could help quell skepticism among other Western U.S. states that reducing emissions will harm their economies.

Los Angeles skyline smog image via Shutterstock

California Sets Second Cap-And-Trade Emissions Auction was originally published on: CleanTechnica

West Antarctica Warming Twice As Fast As Previously Thought, Research Finds, May Speed Up Sea Level Rise

Posted: 27 Dec 2012 01:50 AM PST

New research has revealed that West Antarctica is actually warming nearly two times faster than was previously thought. This finding suggests, therefore, that sea levels may rise much faster than was previously predicted.


The average annual temperatures in West Antarctica, at the Byrd research station, have increased an incredible 2.4 degrees Celsius (4.3F) in the years since the 1950s. This is one of the quickest increases in temperature in the world — it’s currently 3 times the global average increase.

This finding adds strong support to the theory that the ice sheet is much more vulnerable to melting than was previously thought. If West Antarctica was to melt, it would raise global sea levels by at least 3.3 meters (11 feet). It’s currently thought that it would take a few centuries for it to melt completely.

“The western part of the ice sheet is experiencing nearly twice as much warming as previously thought,” Ohio State University said in a recent statement by its geography professor David Bromwich.

The higher than thought warming “raises further concerns about the future contribution of Antarctica to sea level rise,” it said. “Higher summer temperatures raised risks of a surface melt of ice and snow even though most of Antarctica is in a year-round deep freeze.”

Very low-lying countries, such as Bangladesh and many pacific islands, are very vulnerable to near-future levels of sea rise. As are many globally important cities, such as London, New York City, and Buenos Aires. So far, sea levels have increased by about 8 inches in the past hundred or so years.

“The United Nations panel of climate experts projects that sea levels will rise by between 18 and 59 cms (7-24 inches) this century, and by more if a thaw of Greenland and Antarctica accelerates, due to global warming caused by human activities,” Reuters reports.

“The rise in temperatures in the remote region was comparable to that on the Antarctic Peninsula to the north, which snakes up towards South America, according to the U.S.-based experts writing in the journal Nature Geoscience.”

Some glaciated areas of the northern hemisphere have been warming at very significant rates also.

There have been numerous significant collapses of Antarctic ice shelves in the past few years. As these ice shelves collapse and disintegrate, the glaciers that they had previously held in place in the inlands speed up their slide faster into the ocean, which then contributes to sea level rise.


“The stakes would be much higher if a similar event occurred to an ice shelf restraining one of the enormous West Antarctic ice sheet glaciers,” said Andrew Monaghan, a co-author at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research.

The researchers note that there has already been one instance of a very large surface melt of West Antarctica that occurred in 2005. “A continued rise in summer temperatures could lead to more frequent and extensive episodes of surface melting,” they wrote.

Reuters adds:

“West Antarctica now contributes about 0.3 mm a year to sea level rise, less than Greenland’s 0.7 mm, Ohio State University said. The bigger East Antarctic ice sheet is less vulnerable to a thaw.

“Helped by computer simulations, the scientists reconstructed a record of temperatures stretching back to 1958 at Byrd, where about a third of the measurements were missing, sometimes because of power failures in the long Antarctic winters.”

Source: Reuters
Image Credits: NASA; NASA image by Robert Simmon, based on data from Joey Comiso, GSFC

West Antarctica Warming Twice As Fast As Previously Thought, Research Finds, May Speed Up Sea Level Rise was originally published on: CleanTechnica

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