Saturday, December 8, 2012

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica


Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Link to CleanTechnica

UPDATED: Ford Focus Electric vs Ford Focus ST

Posted: 07 Dec 2012 01:02 PM PST

So,… when I ran my comparisons of a Ford Focus Electric and Ford Focus S the other day, I thought the Ford Focus S was the most similar non-electric model to the Ford Focus Electric. Woops. After some discussions with readers, it seems the more appropriate comparison (for current Ford Focus options) is the Ford Focus ST, which has a base price of $23,700.

Additionally, readers seemed to make good arguments that maintenance costs really need to be included in these comparisons. So, without running through all the text in this post that I included in the other one, let’s quickly jump to some comparisons based on a similar variety of assumptions but with these changes incorporated (followed by a bunch of other considerations, mostly brought up by readers, that you really should consider):

Ford Focus Electric vs Ford Focus ST

Two assumptions that stay constant below are that the Ford Focus Electric has a combined MPGe rating of 105 and the Ford Focus ST has a combined MPG rating of 22. I also keep constant the assumption that average additional maintenance costs per mile (for the Ford Focus ST) = 4¢. Also, figures listed below are for the total cost at the end of the year. These factors as well as the ones I change below can be changed in this spreadsheet.

Example 1


  • average miles driven per year = 20,000
  • average price of electricity when charging your EV = 12¢/kWh
  • average price of gas per gallon = $4.50
  • tax rebates = $10,000

Result: start saving money in year 2 (not including health savings and the many other factors listed at the end of this post).

Example 2


  • average miles driven per year = 13,476
  • average price of electricity when charging your EV = 12¢/kWh
  • average price of gas per gallon = $3.50
  • tax rebate = $7,500.

Result: start saving money in year 5 (not including health savings and the many other factors listed at the end of this post).

Example 3


  • average miles driven per year = 20000
  • average price of electricity when charging your EV = 12¢/kWh
  • average price of gas per gallon = $3.50
  • tax rebates = $10,000.

Result: start saving money near the end of year 2 (not including health savings and the many other factors listed at the end of this post).

Example 4


  • average miles driven per year = 13476
  • average price of electricity when charging your EV = 6¢/kWh
  • average price of gas per gallon = $5.00
  • tax rebate = $7,500

Result: start saving money in year 3 (not including health savings and the many other factors listed at the end of this post).

Example 5


  • average miles driven per year = 15,000
  • average price of electricity when charging your EV = 12¢/kWh
  • average price of gas per gallon = $4.50
  • tax rebate = $10,000

Result: start saving money in year 2 (not including health savings and the many other factors listed at the end of this post).

Some Financial Factors Not Included

Sales tax (varies by state), interest rate if not buying the car up-front, availability of free EV charging, purchase of Level 2 EV charger, healthcare savings, depreciation rates, insurance rates, eventual need to replace/exchange the battery (after 8-12 years), state or local tax incentives (except in the last scenario) — I know some states offer an extra $2,500 off. To play with a spreadsheet that allows some modification of those, this Nissan Leaf driver has one you can download.

You can also play around with the assumptions in my spreadsheet.

Other, Non-Financial Factors

Now, as one of our readers noted, many (or even most) people don’t simply choose a car based on price. Surely, price is normally a factor, but not always the most important factor. Here’s a list of pros and cons for an EV versus a gasoline-powered car:


  • Super quiet.
  • Smoother ride.
  • Ridiculous torque.
  • Not have to worry about gas price swings/jumps.
  • Ability to fuel at home (never visit a gas station again) — big time cost savings there (and also savings from not buying snacks at the gas station, one of our readers noted).
  • Better health from not being as exposed to pollutants.
  • Not having to mess with oil changes, smog checks, timing belts, etc.
  • Helping the world (including your children and grandchildren) by fighting global warming.
  • Helping improve national security by reducing our dependence on oil.
  • Potential ability to engage in vehicle-to-grid projects.



  • Charging opportunities are not as widespread as gas stations.
  • The range on a full tank of fuel is lower for an EV.

Others you can think of?

Reposted with permission from EV Obsession.

UPDATED: Ford Focus Electric vs Ford Focus ST was originally published on: CleanTechnica

How Your EV Battery Could Save Your Life One Day

Posted: 07 Dec 2012 10:36 AM PST

The Department of Defense has been experimenting with microgrids that can suck the energy out of electric vehicle batteries whenever some extra juice is needed. The aim is to help provide military facilities with energy independence in case of massive grid disruptions. If EV battery microgrid technology proves itself in military use, it could easily ripple out into the civilian world, and it could have a huge impact on the ability of communities to recover after extreme storms like Hurricane Sandy.

military develops microgrids integrating EV batteries

When Climate Change Meets Home Health Care

When Hurricane Sandy struck the New York metro area, the aftermath revealed that two seemingly disconnected trends are on a collision course.

On the one hand, you have climate change leading to more extreme storms, with consequent disruptions in electricity supply and fuel transportation.

On the other hand, you have an explosion in health care technology that is enabling more people with life-threatening conditions to live at home or in small residential facilities. That includes robotic devices that can help the elderly or persons with disabilities to live independently.

So, what are all these folks going to do when the power goes out? Petroleum-fueled backup generators are the conventional solution, but as Hurricane Sandy revealed, liquid fuel supplies can be disrupted for many days after an extreme storm.

Backup generators also add a strong element of risk from carbon monoxide poisoning as well as creating noise and odor issues.

The EV Battery Microgrid Solution

Back in 2010, we noticed that an EV battery microgrid for the U.S. Marine Corps was getting a workout at the Twenty-Nine Palms base in California, with plans for another at Wheeler Air Base in Hawaii.

More recently, our sister site Gas2 noted a military smart microgrid project called SPIDERS, covering additional bases in Hawaii and Colorado.

Los Angeles Air Force Base has also become the first federal facility of any kind to replace an entire fleet of vehicles with new EVs, which could lead to smart microgrid integration.

An EV Battery Microgrid in Every Pot

The general concept is that electric vehicles, with their powerful high-tech batteries, can serve as mobile energy storage devices.

Aside from being used in emergencies, EV battery storage could also be used to help smooth out spikes in energy demand, enabling a facility (or a home) to rely more on intermittent sources like wind and solar.

Meanwhile, car manufacturers are already transitioning EV battery microgrids into civilian use.

After Sandy struck, GM and ABB demonstrated a microgrid system that used five Chevy Volt batteries, and Nissan is testing a home battery backup system based on its Leaf EV.

The icing on the cake would be to charge up those EV batteries using alternative energy, and those clever folks at the Pentagon have already thought of that. Last spring, the Army got its first solar-powered microgrid installed at TARDEC, the Army’s advanced vehicle research center in Michigan.

Image: Plug-in EV by vm2827

Follow me on Twitter: @TinaMCasey

How Your EV Battery Could Save Your Life One Day was originally published on: CleanTechnica

ARPA-E Award: Caltech’s Harry Atwater Aims For 50% Solar Efficiency

Posted: 07 Dec 2012 09:03 AM PST

Harry Atwater’s group at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has been awarded $2.4 million by the U.S Department of Energy’s ARPA-E (Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy) to develop 50% to 70% efficient solar cell technology.

Impact of Solar Panel Efficiency on Functionality

If this project is a success, it means that a panel which is roughly 1 foot by 1 foot could generate 50 to 70  watts of solar power on a normal sunny day, in direct sunlight!

Normally, a panel that size would generate 10 watts if 10% efficient, or 18 watts if 18% efficient.

Of course, more efficient solar panels means that more electricity can be obtained from solar panels in general, meaning that the theoretical maximum amount of power the world could obtain from solar panels would increase.

This limit is already impressively high, even with our currently inefficient panels.

Solar-Powered Cars

For those of you that are interested in solar-powered cars, or cars which utilize solar panels to do certain things (such as power ventilation fans to keep the interior from getting too hot), this is a project to follow.

The success of this project would mean, for example, that solar panels could power car air conditioners so that the cars can be kept cool on hot days without burning fossil fuels.

Impact of Solar Panel Efficiency on System Cost

Apart from the above implications, solar panel efficiency does affect the cost of solar power systems, not only because less efficient solar panels produce less energy per material input, but also because larger panels are more costly to install, ship, and store.

Source: Greentech Media

ARPA-E Award: Caltech's Harry Atwater Aims For 50% Solar Efficiency was originally published on: CleanTechnica

Solar-Cell Fabrics May Soon Be A Reality

Posted: 07 Dec 2012 08:50 AM PST

Solar-cell fabrics may soon be a reality, thanks to new research from Penn State. For the first time, a silicon-based optical fiber with the ability to be used as a solar cell has been created, and is scalable to a usable size. The new research brings the possibility of flexible, irregular, cloth-like solar cells (woven from the fibers) nearly within reach.


“The team’s new findings build on earlier work addressing the challenge of merging optical fibers with electronic chips — silicon-based integrated circuits that serve as the building blocks for most semiconductor electronic devices such as solar cells, computers and cellphones. Rather than merge a flat chip with a round optical fiber, the team found a way to build a new kind of optical fiber — which is thinner than the width of a human hair — with its own integrated electronic component, thereby bypassing the need to integrate fiber-optics with chips. To do this, they used high-pressure chemistry techniques to deposit semiconducting materials directly, layer by layer, into tiny holes in optical fibers.”

For the new research the same techniques were used to create a crystalline silicon semiconductor fiber that is able to work as a solar cell, which essentially means a fiber that can create electricity from sunlight.

“Our goal is to extend high-performance electronic and solar-cell function to longer lengths and to more flexible forms. We already have made meters-long fibers but, in principle, our team’s new method could be used to create bendable silicon solar-cell fibers of over 10 meters in length,” Badding said. “Long, fiber-based solar cells give us the potential to do something we couldn’t really do before: We can take the silicon fibers and weave them together into a fabric with a wide range of applications such as power generation, battery charging, chemical sensing and biomedical devices.”


Electricity-generating fabrics obviously have an enormous number of possible applications, allowing much greater autonomy from centralized power sources.

“A solar cell is usually made from a glass or plastic substrate onto which hydrogenated amorphous silicon has been grown,” Badding explained. “Such a solar cell is created using an expensive piece of equipment called a PECVD (plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition) reactor and the end result is something flat with little flexibility. But woven, fiber-based solar cells would be lightweight, flexible configurations that are portable, foldable and even wearable.”

The woven fibers could simply be connected to electronic devices, easily charging them on the go. “The military especially is interested in designing wearable power sources for soldiers in the field,” Badding added.

Another major advantage of such fabrics would be their ability to use light simultaneously from various different angles, thanks to their flexible nature.

“A typical solar cell has only one flat surface,” Badding said. “But a flexible, curved solar-cell fabric would not be as dependent upon where the light is coming from or where the sun is in the horizon and the time of day.”

Pier J. A. Sazio of the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom and one of the team’s leaders added, “Another intriguing property of these silicon-fiber devices is that as they are so compact, they can have a very fast response to visible laser light. In fact, we fabricated fiber-based photodetectors with a bandwidth of over 1.8 GHz.”

The findings were just published in the online edition of the journal Advanced Materials on December 6th.

Source: Penn State
Image Credits: Badding lab, Penn State University

Solar-Cell Fabrics May Soon Be A Reality was originally published on: CleanTechnica

Silver Nanocubes That Work Extremely Well As Light Absorbers, Great Potential For Use In Solar Panels

Posted: 07 Dec 2012 08:37 AM PST

Researchers from Duke University have created silver nanocubes that have the ability to absorb an incredible amount of light. This new technology has shown great potential for use in solar panels, potentially leading to more efficient and cost-effective absorbers for solar cells.


The silver nanocubes are a meta-material, which means that they are a human-created material designed specifically to have traits that are not present in natural materials. They can be designed to allow great control over waves, such as light. The manufacture of materials like this has remained something of a challenge, though. The method usually used, lithography, is expensive and doesn’t scale well.

“Our new approach is more of a bottom-up process,” said Cristian Ciracì, research scientist at Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering. “It may allow us to create devices — such as efficient solar panels — that cover much larger areas. In our experiments, we demonstrated an extraordinarily simple method to achieve this.”

The new material is composed of three main components; a thin gold film layer that’s then coated with a nano-thin layer of an insulator and then dusted with self-assembled nanocubes numbering in the millions. Currently, the researchers are using nanocubes fabricated from silver.

“The nanocubes are literally scattered on the gold film and we can control the properties of the material by varying the geometry of the construct,” Ciracì said. “The absorptivity of large surface areas can now be controlled using this method at scales out of reach of lithography.”

Though metals are reflective when on their own, “the nanocubes act as tiny antennae that can cancel out the reflectance of the metal surface.”

“By combining different components of the metamaterial elements together into a single composite, more complicated reflectance spectra could be engineered, achieving a level of control needed in more exotic applications, such as dynamic inks,” Ciracì said.

The new creation was just detailed in a paper published December 6th in the journal Nature.

Source: Duke University
Image Credits: Cristian Ciraci

Silver Nanocubes That Work Extremely Well As Light Absorbers, Great Potential For Use In Solar Panels was originally published on: CleanTechnica

Is Your New Car Fuel-Efficient? The EPA Has Spoken With The 2013 Fuel Economy Guide (+ 10 Most Fuel-Efficient Cars)

Posted: 07 Dec 2012 08:04 AM PST

The Fuel Economy Guide is enlightening and entertaining (or is that part just me) every year. In the face of increasing concerns regarding fuel cost and efficiency, this week has given us the 2013 Fuel Economy Guide.

EPA 2013 Fuel Efficiency Guide

Did We Mention The Electric Cars?

My personal favorite part of next year’s guide is the number of electric and hybrid cars evaluated. More hybrids and EVs are available each year, and the EPA is faithfully testing them all. There is, of course, also a wealth of information regarding vehicles that run on more traditional fossil fuels, including (most importantly) evaluations of their fuel efficiency and emissions.

The most fuel-efficient and low-emission vehicles available are, of course, the electric cars and the plug-in hybrids — but in order to offer the widest range of useful information possible, the EPA has released two top-ten lists for fuel efficiency. One list involves the super awesome EVs and hybrids, and the other is for vehicles powered by a standard gas or diesel ICE.

Regarding the 2013 guide, Administrator Lisa P. Jackson says:

"This Administration has been working to foster a new generation of clean, fuel-efficient American vehicles, and part of that effort is ensuring that Americans have access to the best possible fuel economy information when they're choosing a car. The 2013 Fuel Economy Guide provides Americans information about which car on the lot offers the greatest fuel economy and the lowest environmental impact. These are important considerations that can help families save money while protecting their health and the environment."

How Do You Drive? (Also With Interactive Assessments)

Annual fuel costs can be personalized with local fuel prices and individual driving habits. Along with greenhouse gas ratings for each vehicle, personalized fuel cost estimates can help consumers make an informed decision when purchasing a new vehicle. Consumers can also see how their fuel costs would change if driving habits were altered, which helps make it a great tool.

With the release of the new guide, Energy Secretary Steven Chu hit the vital points of just why it’s so important to drive a fuel-efficient and low-emission car:

“The Fuel Economy Guide gives consumers easily accessible information to help them choose the vehicle that's right for them. Fuel efficient vehicles help American families save money at the pump, continue to deliver on vehicle performance, and help reduce our dependence on foreign oil while limiting carbon pollution.”

Here’s the Top 10 list based on fuel economy:

1. 2013 Scion iQ EV 2013 Scion iQ EV Combined 121 City 138/Highway 105
Electric Vehicle, Auto (AV)
2. 2013 Honda Fit EV 2013 Honda Fit EV Combined 118 City 132/Highway 105
Electric Vehicle, Auto (A1)
3. 2013 Mitsubishi i-MiEV 2013 Mitsubishi i-MiEV Combined 112 City 126/Highway 99
Electric Vehicle, Auto (A1)
4. 2013 smart fortwo cabriolet EV 2013 smart fortwo EV cabriolet Combined 107 City 122/Highway 93
Electric Vehicle, Auto (A1)
2013 smart fortwo coupe EV 2013 smart fortwo EV coupe Combined 107 City 122/Highway 93
Electric Vehicle, Auto (A1)
5. 2012 Ford Focus Electric 2013 Ford Focus Electric Combined 105 City 110/Highway 99
Electric Vehicle, Auto (AV)
6. 2013 Tesla Model S 2013 Tesla Model S (60 kW-hr battery pack) Combined 95 City 94/Highway 97
Electric Vehicle, Auto (A1)
7. 2013 Tesla Model S 2013 Tesla Model S (85 kW-hr battery pack) Combined 89 City 88/Highway 90
Electric Vehicle, Auto (A1)
8. 2012 CODA Automotive CODA 2013 CODA Automotive CODA Combined 73 City 77/Highway 68
Electric Vehicle, Auto (A1)
9. 2012 Chevy Volt 2013 Chevrolet Volt *Ranked by combined gas/electricity rating of 62 MPGe Combined 62 City 63/Highway 61

The guide is online at and will be updated as more 2013 vehicles hit the market. What are you waiting for? Go look at it!

Source: EPA
Image via:

Is Your New Car Fuel-Efficient? The EPA Has Spoken With The 2013 Fuel Economy Guide (+ 10 Most Fuel-Efficient Cars) was originally published on: CleanTechnica

US DOE, Israel Ink $3.5 Million Deal To Support 4 Renewable Energy Projects

Posted: 07 Dec 2012 07:56 AM PST

The United States Department of Energy (DOE) and Israel's Energy and Water Ministry have jointly allocated $3.5 million budget towards the development of four American-Israeli renewable energy projects. The projects will receive financing under the Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Energy program. BIRD Energy has announced that each project receiving funds will be comprised of one American and one Israeli partner.

BIRD was established by US and Israeli governments in 1977 to promote cooperation between the two nations in the emerging hi-tech and start-up sectors, and has since expanded its scope to areas of renewable energy, life sciences, optics, electronics, software, and homeland security.

The four projects that have been selected by BIRD for providing investments are as follows:

  1. The first project will focus on the development of the Hydrogen-Halogen Regenerative Fuel Cell. The project will be developed by Bromine Compounds of Beersheba and Sustainable Innovations of Glastonbury, Connecticut. Both companies aim to produce mechanisms for low-cost, modular energy storage capacity.
  2. The second project will involve the development of high-energy, rechargeable magnesium batteries. The project will be undertaken by Bar-Ilan Research and Development Company of Ramat Gan and Pellion Technologies of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Both companies are of a view that magnesium batteries are more superior to conventional lithium-ion batteries in size, weight, cost and lifetime.
  3. The third project will be jointly developed by B.G. Negev Technologies in Beersheba and Southwest Solar Technologies of Phoenix, Arizona to carry out research to develop a concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) system which employs new active cooling module.
  4. In the fourth project, development of solar windows with a high level of transparency and insulation will take place. Windows will employ the use of  building-integrated photovoltaic technology and replace conventional windows. The project will be developed by Pythagoras Solar of Petah Tikva and BISEM of Sacramento, California.

BIRD finances about 20 projects annually and the cumulative sales of products that have resulted from BIRD projects amount to more than $8 billion. BIRD believes that these four research projects will create jobs, improve economic competitiveness, and help to commercialise renewable energy projects.

Image Credit: Solar panels via Waynenf (some rights reserved)

The views presented in the above article are the author's personal views only.

US DOE, Israel Ink $3.5 Million Deal To Support 4 Renewable Energy Projects was originally published on: CleanTechnica

SolarCity Awarded Hire Power Award For US Job Creation

Posted: 07 Dec 2012 07:40 AM PST

US clean energy services company SolarCity was this week awarded the ‘Hire Power’ award by Inc. Magazine as part of the Top Job Creators in the US.

SolarCity ranked in the Top 10 out of a list of 100 private companies credited for generating the largest number of jobs in the US over the past three years, and ranked first among energy companies.

SolarCity Wins Award

Over the three years covered by Inc. Magazine (2008–2011), SolarCity’s employee base grew by more than 252% and finished at a total of 1,381 full-time hires by end of year 2011.

In fact, since the survey window closed, SolarCity has gone on to hire more than 1,000 more employees, bringing their total up to more than 2,300 employees, and is currently advertising 300 job openings (around the same number it was advertising back in July).

"SolarCity's award win shines a light on the whole solar industry which has driven job creation eight times faster than the overall economy," said SolarCity's VP of Human Resources, Linda Keala. "SolarCity provides consumers with clean, renewable energy that can be more affordable than rising utility bills and this has created domestic solar development jobs that can't be easily outsourced."

Notably, SolarCity is about to have its IPO, a highly anticipated cleantech IPO that we’ll be watching closely.

"The top 100 companies on the list have created 73,032 American jobs in the three-year period from 2008 to 2011 – an amazing feat, given that much of that job growth came during the heart of the recession," explains Inc. editor-in-chief Eric Schurenberg. "And it isn't just the big guys that are adding jobs. Companies with less than $50 million in annual revenue make up nearly one-third of the Hire Power list."

Source: SolarCity
Image Source: Bernd Sieker

SolarCity Awarded Hire Power Award For US Job Creation was originally published on: CleanTechnica

US Energy Production Outpacing Consumption

Posted: 07 Dec 2012 07:27 AM PST

[Editor's notes at the end.]

The US Energy Information Administration has just released its “Annual Energy Outlook 2013” report with projections for US energy markets through to 2040. The report shows that growth in the country’s energy production is outpacing the growth of consumption.

Specifically, the report found that the growth of renewable energy is much faster than the use of fossil fuel.

Renewable Production Growing Faster than Fossil Fuel Use

“EIA’s updated Reference case shows how evolving consumer preferences, improved technology, and economic changes are pushing the nation toward more domestic energy production, greater vehicle efficiency, greater use of clean energy and reduced energy imports,” said EIA Administrator Adam Sieminski. “This combination has markedly reduced projected energy-related carbon dioxide emissions.”

Some key findings:

  • Crude oil production, particularly from tight oil plays, rises sharply over the next decade. The advent and continuing improvement of advanced crude oil production technologies continues to increase projected domestic supply. Domestic production of crude oil increases sharply in AEO2013, with an annual growth averaging 234 thousand barrels per day (bpd) from 2011 through 2019, when production reaches 7.5 million bpd (Figure 1). The growth results largely from a significant increase in onshore crude oil production, particularly from shale and other tight formations. After about 2020, production begins declining gradually to 6.1 million bpd in 2040 as producers develop sweet spots first and then move to less productive or less profitable drilling areas.
  • Motor gasoline consumption is lower in the AEO2013 relative to the level in AEO2012, reflecting the introduction of more stringent corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards; growth in diesel fuel consumption is moderated by increased use of natural gas in heavy-duty vehicles. AEO2013 incorporates the greenhouse gas (GHG) and CAFE standards for light-duty vehicles (LDVs) through the 2025 model year, which raise the new vehicle fuel economy requirement from 32.6 miles per gallon (mpg) in 2011 to 47.3 mpg in 2025. The increase in vehicle efficiency reduces gasoline use in the transportation sector by 0.5 million bpd in 2025 and by 1.0 million bpd in 2035 in AEO2013 compared to the AEO2012 Reference case (Figure 2). Furthermore, the improved economics of natural gas results in an increase in the use of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in heavy-duty vehicles that offsets a portion of diesel fuel consumption. The use of petroleum-based diesel fuel is also reduced by the increased use of diesel produced using gas-to-liquids (GTL) technology. Natural gas use in vehicles reaches 1.7 trillion cubic feet (including GTL) by 2040, displacing 0.7 million bpd of other motor fuels.
  • The United States becomes a larger exporter of natural gas than projected in the AEO2012 Reference case. US natural gas production increases throughout the projection period (Figure 3), outpacing domestic consumption by 2020 and spurring net exports of natural gas. Higher volumes of shale gas production in AEO2013 are central to higher production volumes and an earlier transition to net exports than was projected in the AEO2012 Reference case. US exports of LNG from domestic sources rise to approximately 1.6 trillion cubic feet in 2027, double the 0.8 trillion cubic feet projected in AEO2012; the United States becomes a net exporter of LNG in 2016.
  • Renewable fuel use grows at a much faster rate than fossil fuel use. The share of electricity generation from renewables grows from 13 percent in 2011 to 16 percent in 2040. Electricity generation from solar and, to a lesser degree, wind energy sources grows as recent cost declines make them more economical. However, the AEO2013 projection is less optimistic about the ability of advanced biofuels to capture a rapidly growing share of the liquid fuels market than AEO2012. As a result, biomass use in AEO2013 totals 4.2 quadrillion Btu by 2035 (compared to 5.4 quadrillion Btu in AEO2012) and 4.9 quadrillion Btu in 2040, up from 2.7 quadrillion Btu in 2011.
  • With improved efficiency of energy use and a shift away from the most carbon-intensive fuels US energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions remain more than 5 percent below their 2005 level through 2040 [Editor's note: recall, from our post moments ago, that "energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions" is a very deceiving term that hides simultaneous growth in CO2 emissions from natural gas flaring, among other things]. The projected growth rate for US energy-related CO2 emissions has declined successively in each Annual Energy Outlook since AEO2005, reflecting both market and policy drivers (Figure 4). Emissions from motor gasoline demand in AEO2013 are lower than in AEO2012 as a result of the adoption of fuel economy standards, biofuel mandates, and shifts in consumer behavior. Emissions from coal use in the generation of electricity are lower as power generation shifts from coal to lower-carbon fuels, including natural gas and renewables. The story is somewhat more complex for natural gas. Emissions from natural gas use are higher in the industrial and electric power sectors in AEO2013 than in AEO2012 as a result of increased consumption; however, the increase is partially offset by lower emissions from natural gas use in the residential and commercial sectors in AEO2013 as a result of the implementation of efficiency standards for energy-using equipment and other changes that affect demand.

Other AEO2013 Reference case highlights:

  • The Brent spot crude oil price declines from $111 per barrel (in 2011 dollars) in 2011 to $96 per barrel in 2015. After 2015, the Brent price increases, reaching $163 per barrel in 2040, as growing demand leads to the development of more costly resources. World liquids consumption grows from 88 million bpd in 2011 to 113 million bpd in 2040, driven by demand in China, India, Brazil, and other developing economies.
  • Total US primary energy consumption grows by 7 percent in the AEO2013 Reference case, from 98 quadrillion Btu in 2011 to 108 quadrillion Btu in 2040. The fossil fuel share of primary energy consumption falls from 82 percent in 2011 to 78 percent in 2040 as consumption of petroleum-based liquid fuels falls, largely because of the incorporation of new fuel efficiency standards for LDVs.
  • In the AEO2013 Reference case, energy use per capita declines by 15 percent from 2011 through 2040 as a result of improving energy efficiency (e.g., new appliance standards and CAFE) and changes in the way energy is used in the US economy. Energy use per 2005 dollar of gross domestic product (GDP) declines by 46 percent from 2011 to 2040 in AEO2013 as a result of a continued shift from manufacturing to services (and, even within manufacturing, to less energy-intensive manufacturing industries), rising energy prices, and the adoption of policies that promote energy efficiency. CO2 emissions per 2005 dollar of GDP have historically tracked closely with energy use per dollar of GDP. In the AEO2013 Reference case, however, as lower-carbon fuels account for a bigger share of total energy use, CO2 emissions per 2005 dollar of GDP decline more rapidly than energy use per 2005 dollar of GDP, falling by 56 percent from 2005 to 2040, at an annual rate of 2.3 percent.
  • Net imports of energy decline both in absolute terms and as a share of total US energy consumption. The decline in energy imports reflects increased domestic petroleum and natural gas production, increased use of biofuels, and lower demand resulting from rising energy prices and the adoption of new efficiency standards for vehicles. The net import share of total US energy consumption is 9 percent in 2040, compared with 19 percent in 2011. (The share was 29 percent in 2007.)

[Editor's notes: There's a lot of data above, and I'm sure much of it is confusing to the average reader. So, I'm just going to pull out a few underlying points and add some of my own:

  • It's pretty clear that the EIA is predicting a huge natural gas boom, not just in the coming years, but the coming decades. Whether or not this will come about is unclear, but that's the track we are currently on. The EIA is quite 'biased' in its energy projections because it gives a lot of credence to what has been happening in the past year, what is happening at the moment, and not so much what is likely to happen as wind and solar policies and innovation make them more and more attractive from a financial perspective.
  • Natural gas is arguably much better than coal or oil. However, several researchers have also put up huge red flags regarding methane leaks and the true result of natural gas flaring, red flags which imply natural gas may not be so much better after all, and may not be better at all in a worst case scenario.
  • The projected increase of renewable electricity from 13 percent in 2011 to 16 percent in 2040 seems like a joke. If we had that small of an increase in that time, I'd be shocked. I'd bet all my savings that projection is way off. And, again, it's a result of the EIA's narrow approach to making these projections. However, it is based on something -- a US Congress that has been completely horrid at doing what the public wants, which is climate action and a strong promotion of renewable energy production. Let's hope we don't stick in a grid-locked Congress and society on this matter for long... and certainly not as long as the EIA is projecting!

Those are my main thought chime in with your own if you have them.]

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration
Image Source: Sam Churchill

US Energy Production Outpacing Consumption was originally published on: CleanTechnica

The Myth Of U.S. Carbon Dioxide Emissions Reductions

Posted: 07 Dec 2012 07:03 AM PST

This is an excellent, insightful piece by Kevin Matthews, Editor-in-Chief of Architecture Week (reposted from Climate Progress). Though, heads up, it’s also a bit depressing (especially for those of us who were quite happy to see news of the US CO2 emissions drop mentioned below). Not much to preface it with, just read on….

by Kevin Matthews

A person — a public figure, member of the media, maybe even an international climate negotiator — could be confused about U.S. carbon dioxide emissions.

In August, 2012, the Associated Press reported this:

In a surprising turnaround, the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere in the U.S. has fallen dramatically to its lowest level in 20 years, and government officials say the biggest reason is that cheap and plentiful natural gas has led many power plant operators to switch from dirtier-burning coal."

Since August, the misleading meme of shrinking U.S. greenhouse gas emissions has been picked up and carried forward by a variety of respected sources. As recently as November 26, for instance, the Guardian reported on how the findings were influencing climate negotiations:

Greenhouse gas emissions from the US have fallen sharply in recent years, owing to the replacement of coal-fired power generation by gas in the US, following its widespread adoption of shale gas.

Jonathan Pershing, a senior negotiator for the US, said: "Those who don't know what the US is doing may not be informed of the scale and extent of the effort, but it's enormous."

Given these claims, you'd think that there was solid information that U.S. greenhouse gas emissions have dropped. But the real story is somewhat different.

Back in August, the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA), part of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) that collects and reports certain energy-related data, posted an article centered on this graph:

That graph is labeled obscurely, but with partial accuracy, as showing U.S. "carbon dioxide emissions from energy demand."

That's the same as "carbon dioxide emissions from energy use" or "carbon dioxide emissions from energy consumption," which is primary data collected by the EIA. It's relatively easy to track in real time, since it's essentially based on adding up the sales figures for coal, oil, and natural gas.

Therein lies the first layer of confusion. The EIA does not include biomass combustion energy, hydroelectric power, or true renewables like wind and solar in its main energy consumption figures. Except for biomass, there is little CO2 associated with the use of these clean energy sources.

So the EIA graph in the article should be labeled as U.S. "carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel consumption." In fact, that's exactly how the graph is labeled in EIA's deeper technical reports. According to the most recent official EPA figures, carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel consumption represented about 79% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2010.

Starting a tally of this U.S. fossil fuel use "grade inflation," we can use these terms:

(CO2 emissions from fossil fuel use) + (CO2 emissions from all other energy use) = (total CO2 emissions from energy use).

The big headline on the EIA article adds another level of exaggeration. It says "U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions in early 2012 lowest since 1992." Note the shift from "energy-use" CO2 emissions to "energy-related" CO2 emissions.

The headline is directly wrong because the underlying data does not include CO2 emissions from energy production and distribution such as flaring of natural gas, an increasing element in the U.S. EIA seems to use the this sloppy label regularly.

(CO2 emissions from energy use) + (CO2 emissions from energy production & distribution) = (energy-related CO2 emissions)

The headline also sets people up for another natural error. While CO2 is the biggest greenhouse gas, it's not the only one. It's common practice in adding up climate numbers to convert all the differing units of other greenhouse gases into CO2-equivalent values.

It's tedious to always say "CO2-equivalent greenhouse gas emissions." And pretty often, people just say "CO2 emissions" when "CO2-equivalent emissions" is what they really mean.

That's just a little slippage in our language, but it has big implications for the numbers.

(energy-related CO2 emissions) + (non-CO2 energy-related emissions) = (energy-related greenhouse gas emissions)

Missing Methane

The biggest energy-related non-CO2 emissions are methane — and that's huge.

Estimates of energy-related methane emissions are in flux, as traditional industry numbers are being looked at more closely. Current research, in line with a recent NOAA report, suggests under-reporting by the fossil fuel industry may be on the order of 2 percent of natural gas used, suggesting total methane losses on the order of 4%. Since methane is about 21 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2 (in the time frame of a generation), we can multiply (4% methane leakage) x (21 times GHG impact compared to CO2) = 84%. That shows that methane emissions from the natural gas system may have a CO2-equivalent greenhouse gas impact roughly comparable to the GHG impact in CO2 from burning the gas. While the methane emissions may prove to be somewhat smaller, there's little doubt they are significant.

This is part of the picture described by guest bloggers Shakeb Afsah and Kendyl Salcito in the Climate Progress article "Shale Gas And The Overhyping Of Its CO2 Reductions."

By leaving out methane, and other things, the EIA data really only describes one specialized slice of emissions. It's a big slice, but not one to freely generalize from.

Because renewables are missing from the EIA data, which has been widely and inappropriately generalized, it's all too easy for pundits and reporters to simply compare the coal curve and the natural gas curve against the (baseless) overall conclusion of dropping emissions, and then call out lower natural gas prices as the cause of U.S. progress — thus leaving out the significant growth of renewables. But that's another story.

Ultimate Confusion

As noted above, it's apparently been easy for analysts and media alike to take the EIA information to the final level of misinformation, trumpeting that CO2 levels have fallen to their lowest levels in 20 years or that greenhouse gas emissions have fallen sharply.

The claim is wrong, because to get to greenhouse gas emissions overall, all the non-energy-related emissions sources also need to also be included. To summarize and complete the equation:

EIA data: (CO2 emissions from fossil fuel use)
+ (CO2 emissions from all other energy use)
+ (CO2 emissions from energy production & distribution)
+ (non-CO2 energy-related emissions)
+ (all non-energy-related greenhouse gas emissions)
= total greenhouse gas emissions

Methane, flaring, and biomass emissions not included in the primary EIA numbers mean those numbers don't fully reflect energy-related GHG emissions.

According to the official U.S. GHG emissions inventory, the non-energy-related emissions (from agriculture, logging, other land use changes, etc.) represent another ~20 percent of the total, on top of the ~80 percent of GHG emissions that are directly energy-related.

EPA to the Rescue

The EIA used to actually calculate and report its own U.S. total greenhouse gas emissions numbers. That EIA overall GHG inventory was discontinued in 2011, due to mid-year budget cuts, according to an EIA source. However, the agency has never been the source of the official U.S. inventory.

The official U.S. greenhouse gas emissions inventory has been produced for many years by the EPA, following detailed international reporting protocols. It's presented to the United Nations every April, in a careful and fairly hard-to-read formal report.

The most recent official EPA inventory, reported in April 2012 and showing total U.S. emissions for 2010, shows our emissions going up that year:

The current EPA inventory report shows total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions for 2010 up 3.2% over 2009 emissions, with an average annual growth rate from 1990 through 2010 of 0.5%. It's hard to say what increase or decrease the U.S. inventory for 2011 will show, when the EPA releases it in April 2013, or what the inventory for 2012 will show when it comes out in April 2014. Unless someone is prepared to duplicate the EPA's work, and do it faster, we can expect to wait for those numbers.

Bottom Line

U.S. major media and others have been trumpeting a false meme of declining U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, spinning off from EIA data that actually shows a much narrower trend.

While the primary EIA data represents a large, very specific piece of the overall U.S. emission inventory, it's fundamentally misleading to inflate its importance. Nonetheless, this seems to have been done regularly by the EIA itself, and to an even greater degree by downstream users of EIA information.

In the past, EIA produced an overall emissions inventory. Because energy consumption is easier to collect and report on quickly than other types of emissions, they continue to produce reports including U.S. CO2 emissions from energy use, which the EIA releases at a pace tantalizingly close to real time.

No doubt it's frustrating to media and officials who love to report on realtime score cards, but the only official U.S. greenhouse gas emission inventory comes from the EPA. It takes a while for all the data to be collected and complied — and impatience is no reason to misrepresent the data available.

In any case, year-to-year ups and downs in U.S. emissions are not very meaningful relative to the scale of the climate mitigation challenge we face together. In the U.S., we need to be planning and faithfully implementing, in every sector of our economy, in every government, agency, and large organization, roughly 5% reductions in total greenhouse gas emissions, every year, year-on-year, for the rest of our lives.

And no blip in annual emissions, whether actual or invented, is going to rescue business-as-usual from this fundamental need for real climate action.

Kevin Matthews is Editor-in-Chief of Architecture Week.

The Myth Of U.S. Carbon Dioxide Emissions Reductions was originally published on: CleanTechnica

EU Energy Company Interest In US Offshore Wind; Renewables Account For 46% New US Electrical Generating Capacity Since January (+ More Cleantech News)

Posted: 07 Dec 2012 02:16 AM PST

Aside from the solar energy news roundup and clean transport news roundup I just published, here’s one more roundup of big cleantech news from the past couple days:

Clean Energy (In General)

Germany’s Network Agency Says Power Outages “Unlikely” Amidst Renewable Energy Growth: “The President of the Network Agency, Jochen Homann, told the German press yesterday that there is “no indication” that the switch to renewables is causing more power outages.”

Germany Energy Transition: A new website on… (hold your breath) the clean energy transition in Germany (aka Energiewende).

Israel Moves Renewable Energy Quota From Wind To Solar: “A 300MW quota for renewable energy development in Israel will move from the wind energy sector to that of solar power…. The move came after a top-level meeting on Sunday which included members of the country's Ministerial Committee for Promoting Renewable Energy.”

Expanding The WindMade Label To Renewables: The folks behind the WindMade label, as well as other renewable energy leaders, had a press briefing and discussion at COP18 this week. Noting the success of the program to date, there is a plan to create a broader label for products produced using renewable energy.

France Installed Solar Capacity Hits 4,000 MW, Wind Energy Now Cheaper Than Nuclear There!: “According to French General Commission on Sustainable Development (CGDD) data, France’s solar PV capacity was up to 3,923MW at the end of September (2012). There was a 241 MW increase in solar power capacity in Q3 of 2012, 34% higher than Q3 2011. Over 1,ooo MW of solar were added in the first 9 months of this year. Unfortunately, that amounted to a 24% decrease from what was installed in the first 9 months of 2011. Hopefully the Q3 increase is a sign of a shift.”

Renewables Account For 46% New US Electrical Generating Capacity Since January: “The latest “Energy Infrastructure Update” report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Office of Energy Projects states that renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, solar, water, wind) accounted for 41.14% of new electrical generating capacity installed in October 2012 and 46.22% for the first ten months of 2012.”

Italy Abandons RPS, Adopts System of Feed-in Tariffs: “This past summer Italy not only adopted new feed-in tariffs for solar, but also radically revised its program for wind and other renewables. The complex new Italian policies go into effect at the beginning of the new year.

“While the trade press has focused on revisions to the solar tariffs, the abandonment of Italy’s Renewable Portfolio Standard in favor of feed-in tariffs may be far more significant for what it says about the future of such policies in Europe.”

In-Depth Analysis: How A Progressive Carbon Tax Will Fight Climate Change And Stimulate The Economy: “Superstorm Sandy. Massive droughts. Devastating tornadoes. Horrific wildfires. The United States has certainly seen the dramatic weather-related effects of climate change in 2012, and every American has in some way been negatively impacted. Unfortunately, unless we start taking action now to curb the greenhouse gas pollution that's causing this extreme weather, things are only going to get worse. Depending on which actions we choose to take, this year will either be the new normal or it will be a glimpse into a future where conditions are much, much worse.”

U.S. Energy Outlook: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly: “New projections released by the Department of Energy show a mixed — but mostly scary — picture for America's energy and environmental future. This week, the Energy Information Administration released its "AEO 2013 Early Release Overview." It is the preview version of its complete Annual Energy Outlook 2013 due next spring.  This updates AEO 2012 by factoring in newly adopted policies – such as the 2017-2025 fuel economy standards for light duty vehicles – for EIA's projections of energy production, consumption, and carbon pollution between now and 2040.”

Carol Browner: 'Stunning' Climate Denial In The House Prevents Any Action On Climate In Washington: “Former EPA Chief and White House Climate Czar Carol Browner says that climate deniers in the House of Representatives are the biggest impediment to getting a price on carbon. When asked what the most significant obstacle in passing climate change legislation is during an event in Washington on the Clean Air Act yesterday, former EPA Chief Carol Browner pointed to Republicans in the House and their ‘stunning’ denial of the reality of earth's changing climate.”

World Climate Change Talks At Mid-Session: “As usual with international climate negotiations in recent years, dissension and near-deadlock have characterized the initial days of this year’s meeting in Doha, Qatar (pronounced like ‘cotter.’). The summit involves 195 nations. It began on November 27 and is scheduled to conclude this Friday, December 7. A nearly half-day time difference delays reporting in the U.S.”

Proliferation warnings on nuclear ‘wonder-fuel’, thorium: “Thorium is being touted as an ideal fuel for a new generation of nuclear power plants, but in a piece in this week’sNature, researchers suggest it may not be as benign as portrayed…. Writing in a Comment piece in the new issue of the journal, Nature, nuclear energy specialists from four British universities suggest that, although thorium has been promoted as a superior fuel for future nuclear energy generation, it should not be regarded as inherently proliferation resistant. The piece highlights ways in which small quantities of uranium-233, a material useable in nuclear weapons, could be produced covertly from thorium, by chemically separating another isotope, protactinium-233, during its formation.”

WWF Report: “Cutting energy related emissions the right way”: “Based on research by CE Delft, this report assesses the five decarbonisation scenarios presented in the European Commission's Energy Roadmap 2050. It shows that the Energy Roadmap only considers a relatively narrow range of decarbonisation options, all with roughly similar levels of renewable energy by 2030, and a significant residual fossil fuel liability through to 2050.

“WWF's report also demonstrates that the European Union could reap greater rewards from more ambitious options, such as 95% emissions reductions combining high renewable energy generation and high energy savings.”

Wind & Wave Energy

UK Economy Will Fare Better With More Wind Power Than Natural Gas: Report: “Large-scale investment in offshore wind would generate more wealth for the economy and create more jobs than relying on gas-fired power plants, a report suggested on Tuesday.

“Substantial deployment of offshore wind by 2030 would have only a marginal impact on electricity prices but would boost growth, cut dependence on gas imports and reduce emissions, the report for WWF-UK and Greenpeace said.”

U.S. Offshore Wind Market Becoming ‘Real’ With European Interest: “European energy companies are considering participating in U.S. offshore wind-farm auctions, a sign of increasing confidence in the viability of marine-based wind power off U.S. shores, according to Arcadia Windpower Ltd. President Peter Mandelstam.”

Replacing Fossil Fuels: Utilizing Sea Wave to Generate Electricity: “Researchers Dr Ismail, Dr Muhammad Murtadha and Baharin Abu Bakar from Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia have carried out a conceptual study on mathematical modelling for sea wave in electricity generation.

“This conceptual study focused on using Oscillating Wave Column (OWC) which is considered as the most efficient way to utilize sea waves, the largest power source on earth, to generate electricity. Previous studies have revealed that global wave power is estimated to be 1TW (1 terrawatt=1012W).”

Wave Power to Prove Its Mettle with 30 Megawatts to be Built Off Mexico’s Coast: “Marersa, based in Mexico City, will install about 450 floating buoys that harness the movement of waves to create hydraulic pressure which is converted into electricity…. It has pledged to sell the energy at 20 percent lower prices than electricity bought from state power utility Comision Federal de Electricidad.”

Wave-Powered Robot Completes Record-Setting 9,000-Mile Journey Across the Ocean: “Liquid Robotics, a Silicon Valley startup behind the surfboard-sized robots known as Wave Gliders, announced today that the Papa Mau robot completed a record-breaking 9,000 mile trip across the Pacific Ocean from California to Australia. During its more than 365 days at sea, the robot reportedly survived shark attacks, weathered gale-force storms and battled the East Australian Current. But the wave-powered robot it reached its destination, setting a new world record for the longest distance traveled by an autonomous vehicle.”

Green Living

Not on the list. (Image credit: via photopin cc)

sustainablog's 2012 Holiday Gift Guide: “Struggling with gift ideas? Definitely want to stay away from the mall? I'm with you on both counts – Christmas shopping is right up there with major dental work on my list of favorite things. But there are people in you life whom you want to give a gift during the holiday celebrations, and you want that gift to be something that'll be meaningful. If you've got a good greenie on this list, here's our small list of some unique ideas (which can all be bought online!).”

Eco-Friendly Home-Improvements: Britain to Show the World How it's Done!!: “People often over-spend on energy bills for years without realising how much money they could be saving from making a few staple improvements to their homes. The UK government has acknowledged this and decided to take a major move in the right direction in helping people stop their houses from draining their bank accounts and energy resources.”

Energy Efficiency

Whirligig Beetles Inspire Energy-Efficient Robots: “Whirligig beetles are named for their whirling movement on top of water, moving rapidly in and taking off into flight. While many may have found the movements curious, scientists have puzzled over the apparatus behind their energy efficiency — until now, thanks to a study performed by a team led by Mingjun Zhang, associate professor of mechanical, aerospace and biomedical engineering, at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.”

Omron Releases “D6F-D” 2-Axis MEMS Flow Sensor Designed to Help Optimize Air Conditioning Energy Efficiency: “OMRON Corporation (TOKYO:6645)(ADR:OMRNY) today announced the release on December 10, 2012 of a 2-axis MEMS flow sensor designed for high-precision measurement of airflow velocity and direction aimed at contributing to reducing the electricity consumption of air conditioning systems. Air conditioning accounts for 30% to 40% of the power consumed by cleanrooms and data centers, so the ability to provide optimal air conditioning while consuming the minimum possible amount of power can make a substantial difference to overall power consumption in such facilities. However, it is not currently possible to fully grasp the environmental parameters needed to truly optimize air conditioning settings.”

EU Energy Company Interest In US Offshore Wind; Renewables Account For 46% New US Electrical Generating Capacity Since January (+ More Cleantech News) was originally published on: CleanTechnica

25MW Solar Power Plant For Russia; 200MW Solar Project For Qatar; Solar Light Bulbs & Cucumbers (+ More Solar Energy News)

Posted: 07 Dec 2012 02:09 AM PST

Lots more solar energy news from the past couple days or so:

Solar Projects & Policy

Russia To Get 25MW Solar Power Plant: “A new 25MW solar power plant is being planned in the Orenburg region of Russia by Avelar Solar Technology.

 The company, which is a subsidiary of the Swiss Avelar Energy Group, has already begun the process by making an investment agreement with the Ministry of Economic Development, Industrial Policy and Trade in the Orenburg region.”

Oregon State University Planting Seeds for "Solar Farm" on Campus as Part of OUS Program: “SolarCity has begun construction on two large arrays of solar panels on agricultural lands operated by Oregon State University as part of ‘Solar by Degrees,’ a large-scale, photovoltaic power program coordinated by the Oregon University System.”

Qatar: Gulf state plans 200 MW solar project: “With commentators questioning the appropriateness of staging the latest UN Climate Change Conference in the capital of Qatar, a country with one of the world’s highest levels of GHG emissions per capita, plans have been unveiled for the country’s first solar power plant.”

UK Confirms February FiT: “Ofgem has confirmed the feed-in tariff (FiT) rates for solar photovoltaic technology beginning February 1, 2013. The rates will remain the same, as reported by Solar Power Portal last month, following disappointing levels of installs across all capacity bands.”

Phase Two Of India's Solar Mission: “A draft version of phase two of India's Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) has been released, targeting 9 GW of grid connected solar by 2017. The draft proposes reverse auctioning 1.65 GW of photovoltaic projects by April 1, 2013 and 870 MW in 2014.”

Solar $$

France Installed Solar Capacity Hits 4,000 MW, Wind Energy Now Cheaper Than Nuclear There!: “According to French General Commission on Sustainable Development (CGDD) data, France’s solar PV capacity was up to 3,923MW at the end of September (2012). There was a 241 MW increase in solar power capacity in Q3 of 2012, 34% higher than Q3 2011. Over 1,ooo MW of solar were added in the first 9 months of this year. Unfortunately, that amounted to a 24% decrease from what was installed in the first 9 months of 2011. Hopefully the Q3 increase is a sign of a shift.”

Report: Solar Module Price Declines To Continue Into 2013 As German Installs Fall: “Solar module prices across most regions of the world declined in October due to weak demand in Germany, a trend set to continue into 2013, according to market research firm IHS.”

Next Step Living Gets $18.2M for Community-Scale Home Efficiency, Solar: “Boots-on-the-ground, community-based home efficiency retrofits and solar installs gets a VC boost.” This looks like a promising new startup. Will be keeping our eye on it.

New Solar Tech

Uncovering Unique Properties In A Two-Dimensional Crystal: Potential For Optoelectronics, Solar Cells, Valleytronics: “When the dry lubricant, molybdenum disulfide, is stripped down to a single layer of atoms, a tightly bound quasi-particle composed of two electrons and a hole forms with unique spin and valley properties, researchers from Case Western Reserve University and colleagues discovered.

“These charged quasi-particles, called negative trions, can be manipulated to change the light absorbed and emitted from this two-dimensional semi-conducting crystal, opening it to potential use in new solar cells and other electronic devices that are controlled by light or designed to control light.”

Cambridge Race Team Look To Live The Solar Dream: “The Cambridge University Eco Racing team (CUER) has unveiled designs for its latest solar powered racing car. Codenamed 'Daphne', the prototype is being developed to take part – and with any luck win – the 2013 World Solar Challenge, an arduous 3,000km road race from north to south Australia in cars powered by the sun.”

Natcore Technology To Produce Second AR-Box Solar Cell Processing Station: “Natcore Technology Inc. (TSX-V: NXT; NTCXF.PK) has commissioned the construction of an upgraded AR-Box™ solar cell processing station that will include black silicon capability.

“Like the original AR-Box, this second-generation device will be manufactured by MicroTech Systems, Inc., of Fremont, CA, a 12-year-old Silicon Valley company that designs and manufactures wet-bench manufacturing equipment for solar, LED, semiconductor, biomedical, data storage and other high technology applications.”


How to Make a Solar Light Bulb? 1 Million Homes Lit Up by Liter of Light: “A Solar Light Bulb can bring easy day-lighting impoverished housing developments around the world. Millions of people in developing countries live in temporary settlements that are so close to each other that they lack adequate lighting even during the day. Electricity is not an option for many and they resort to kerosene, candles, or inventive wiring for light, that are not only risky but also expensive.” (Perhaps an even better idea: one of our friends and readers recommended using white plastic hockey pucks embedded with strontium aluminate – “It glows for 20 hours after exposure to sunlight-light, and lasts pretty much forever. Which means light during the day and night with no batteries or hi-tech.” Interesting…. He added that they use it at the Pentagon for exit signs.)

Solar & Seawater Turns Desert Into A Greenhouse: “Today I ate my first solar cucumber. (It was delicious). Its seed was planted two weeks ago just before the formal opening of a unique pilot facility in Qatar, in the massive industrial zone that generates the Gulf state's unbelievable riches. It was grown in a greenhouse cooled by seawater and irrigated by water desalinated by solar thermal energy. The electricity to drive various machines and facilities came from solar PV.”

25MW Solar Power Plant For Russia; 200MW Solar Project For Qatar; Solar Light Bulbs & Cucumbers (+ More Solar Energy News) was originally published on: CleanTechnica

Lamborghini Aims For Carbon-Neutral Production; Better Place’s Battery-Swapping Coda Taxis Coming To California (+ More Clean Transport News)

Posted: 07 Dec 2012 02:07 AM PST

Lots more clean transport news from the past couple days or so:

Electric Cars

Tesla Motors Reports Positive Cash Flow For The First Time: “Right on time for a Christmas miracle, the shining star of the electric vehicle movement has perhaps what is the best news for EV owners and advocates all over the world. Last week Elon Musk tweeted that Tesla Motors had its first cash flow-positive week from doing what the company was founded to do; selling electric cars.”

Hubject wants to expand EV-charging payment system across Europe: “Hubject, the collaboration between a half-dozen German companies that earlier this year proposed a standardized electric-vehicle charging payment infrastructure for Germany, is now thinking even bigger. BMW, Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler, Bosch and the other companies in the collective are looking to broaden Hubject’s efforts across Europe, according to Hybrid Cars.”

Cambridge Race Team Look To Live The Solar Dream: “The Cambridge University Eco Racing team (CUER) has unveiled designs for its latest solar powered racing car. Codenamed 'Daphne', the prototype is being developed to take part – and with any luck win – the 2013 World Solar Challenge, an arduous 3,000km road race from north to south Australia in cars powered by the sun.”

Better Place’s Battery-Swapping Coda Taxis Coming To California In 2014: “San Francisco will get a treat of a different kind in 2014 when battery-swapping network builder Better Place starts serving a fleet of electric-powered taxis in the Bay Area, Forbes reports. Using funds from a $3 million grant from the California Energy Commission, Better Place will launch the project with four Coda Sedan EVs that will be customized by FEV to allow their batteries to be switched out in a matter of minutes. Ultimately, Better Place looks to support a fleet of 60 electric taxis between San Francisco and San Jose with six battery-swapping stations along the way.”

Volvo V60 PHEV Gets Five-Star Crash Test Rating From Euro NCAP (VIDEO): “Volvo continues to take kudos for making the safest cars on European roads, with its diesel-engine V60 plug-in hybrid earning the highest score ever for a PHEV given by Euro NCAP. The Euro NCAP tested the all-new V60 PHEV through a series of crash tests and give it a five star rating; if this were in the US, it would be quite similar to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s crash test rating system. But why take our word for it when you can see a video [above].”


Protean’s In-wheel Electric Drive Earns “Most Promising Technology” Honors From Car And Driver Magazine: “Being named to this list is evidence that Protean Electric’s in-wheel electric drive has a bright future in the global auto industry, according to Car and Driver, the world’s largest auto enthusiast magazine.  This list of Most Promising Technologies accompanies Car and Driver’s 10Best Cars celebration, which has existed for more than three decades.”

More US Airports Offering EV Charging For When You’re Away: “Airports seem like an ideal place to recharge electric vehicles – the cars sit unused for long periods of time and could benefit from something productive like slow charging. Environmental correspondent Jim Motavalli took an aerial view of the current state of airport electric vehicle charging stations and found charging stations at 11 major US airports.”

CarCharging Group Hopes To Standardize Wireless Charging Into Parking Bumpers: “CarCharging Group, Inc. could one day expand its offerings into the wireless charging arena with an inductive charger in the shape of a parking bumper. Drivers would only have to park their electric car’s wheels close to the charging apparatus, offering seamless and effortless charging.”

Chevrolet Volt Owners Surpass 100 Million Electric Miles: “Chevrolet Volt owners collectively have driven more than 100 million all-electric miles since the vehicle went on sale two years ago this month. The average Volt owner travels more than 65 percent of the time in pure electric mode as the car was designed – only using the gasoline-powered generator for longer trips.”

US DOE Opens "Apps for Vehicles" Challenge; Leveraging Open Data For Fuel Efficiency & Safety: “The US Department of Energy's (DOE) Vehicle Technologies Program (VTP) officially opened the Apps for Vehicles Challenge, which is offering $50,000 in prizes for the best business plans, app ideas and product designs that use open vehicle data to improve safety and fuel efficiency through technology innovation. The challenge had been announced earlier at the DOE's Energy Datapalooza event in October.”

World’s First Demonstration Of Power Transfer From Wheels To Power An Electric Car: “Electric vehicles (EV) have ten times higher energy performance than automobiles powered by gasoline-based engines. However, they are not yet popular with drivers due to the need to store large batteries onboard. Now, Takashi Ohira and colleagues are developing an innovative method for powering EVs that drastically reduces the number of batteries.”

Bikes & Scooters

The Blue Book On Bikes: Everything You Need To Know And Then Some: “At some point in your life, I bet you've looked at yourself in the mirror and said, ‘Hey, I should take up biking. It seems so fun and cool and dammit, I bet the exercise'd be good for me.’

“Then you realized you didn't know much about cycling, lived in a city that has less-than-stellar bike infrastructure, and were intimidated by things like cars. Oh well.

“But wait! Portland, Ore., bike blogger/evangelist Elly Blue has produced the 127-page solution to all of your pedaling problems….”

Smart Scooter Gets By With A Little Help From Its Friends: “With its easy-to-park cars and high-end, pedal-assist bikes, Mercedes' Smart brand has spent years positioning itself as the best choice for fashionable, eco-conscious urbanites. Since 2010, the brand has been threatening to add another vehicle to its portfolio of swank city-rides: a plug-in electric scooter.

“Now, it seems that Smart will be getting some help in developing its electric Vespa-fighter, courtesy of the electric scooter experts at Vectrix, who have been building plug-in scooters in series production since 2008.”

Carbon-Monocoque Electric Bike Might Be Worth Price of Admission: “If you think the twin disc brake setup of the LEAOS pedal-electric bicycle hints at the bike's performance, you're right. With a 36V 250W electric assist helping you push the pedals through an 8-speed Shimano Alfine gearest, this high-end, carbon monocoque bike is more than capable of blitzing through modern day traffic with (what promises to be) as much "go" as a small scooter.”

From Scrapped to Striped in 16 Months: L Street Goes Green in the Nation's Capital: “A few weeks ago, I finally saw something I've been hearing about for a long while. Heading back to the office from a doctor's appointment, I wasn't fighting for space on the road. Instead, I was flying down bustling L Street Northwest on the new L Street cycletrack, a protected bike lane that takes up a whole lane of traffic and is protected by bollards, with green paint near intersections.

“Yesterday, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) hosted a formal ribbon cutting ceremony with Mayor Vincent Gray, WABA Executive Director Shane Farthing, and the Downtown DC Business Improvement District's Director of Infrastructure & Sustainability, Ellen Jones.”


Lamborghini Pledges Carbon-Neutral Production By 2015: “The push for greener cars and more efficient production methods isn't just coming from the usual suspects of treehuggers and academia. Lamborghini recently signed a pledge to reduce the emissions of its cars by 35%, as well as making its production facility carbon neutral by 2015. Lamborghini, the new leader of ‘green’ cars?”

Lamborghini Aims For Carbon-Neutral Production; Better Place’s Battery-Swapping Coda Taxis Coming To California (+ More Clean Transport News) was originally published on: CleanTechnica

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