Friday, January 11, 2013

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

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Yingli Green Now Biggest Solar Company, Showing Chinese Solar Might

Posted: 10 Jan 2013 11:42 AM PST

 
Yingli Green Energy is now the biggest global solar company in terms of annual solar panel manufacturing.

Image Credit: solar panel farm via Shutterstock

PV-Tech noted recently that the Chinese photovoltaic (PV) manufacturer leapfrogged past Suntech Power Holdings, who was number one in 2011.

Firm fourth quarter demand helped to catapult Yingli to the top spot, with total year shipments of 2.26 gigawatts (GW), surpassing its targets while beating its competitors in total shipments in every quarter last year.

“Despite the tremendous challenges to the global PV industry, we’re extremely inspired to have continuously expanded our market share throughout 2012 not only in the existing markets but also a number of emerging markets. According to public data to date, we believe that Yingli has evolved into the world’s largest PV module supplier," said Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Yingli Green Energy Liansheng Miao on the company being the world's number one solar business.

The growth of Chinese solar companies in recent years has been quite astonishing. In 2011 alone, five of the top ten solar module companies were from China.

Meanwhile, by 2010, 45% of global solar panel production came from China. That compares to just 1% in 2001.

Top solar power production companies. Credit: Uschinatrade (some rights reserved)

Add to the falling costs of solar panels in recent years, and it's no wonder why Chinese manufacturers, like Yingli, have dominated the global solar industry.

A Telling Tale of Emerging Market Brands

With Yingli being around since 1998, its rise to number one is a telling tale of emerging market brands on the global stage. From supporting clean energy alteratives for the FIFA World Cup, to boosting its home country’s solar goals, it's a telling tale how one company is leapfrogging old energy technologies to boost not only their own, but China's global image.

Yingli Green Now Biggest Solar Company, Showing Chinese Solar Might was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

Hawaii’s Energy Excelerator: A Cleantech Incubator

Posted: 10 Jan 2013 11:08 AM PST

 
In the world of energy, Hawaii is known for its need for alternative energy sources, excellent conditions for test bed projects, and access to the Asia Pacific market. So button up your Aloha shirts and slide your feet into a pair of slippers (flip flops); to kick off 2013, the Pacific International Center for High Technology Research (PICHTR) has launched Hawaii's first cleantech business accelerator, the Energy Excelerator. After funding ten companies and $12 M in projects over the past three years through the Hawaii Renewable Energy Development Venture, PICHTR is launching a new program to grow Hawaii's clean energy community.

The Energy Excelerator, launching this month, is a dual pathway program consisting of: 1) a one-week Lightning Excelerator program to support startup companies with potential funding up to $90,000; and 2) a Pacific Excelerator program to drive adoption of innovative technology within Hawaii by co-funding technology demonstration projects up to $1,000,000.

PICHTR is encouraging startups and entrepreneurs, ideally with a prototype, to apply to the Lightning Excelerator. The Lightning Excelerator is currently accepting applications online until January 18 for the program starting on February 7. Those selected to participate in a series of activities designed to identify needs, develop business and technology strategies, and connect with potential customers. A network of mentors and instructors, made up of industry professionals, investors, experienced entrepreneurs, and potential customers, will guide and be available to participants. Teams will compete to receive $20,000 – $90,000 of funding for further business or technology development.

If one accelerator program wasn't good enough, PICHTR is partnering with Blue Startups, a Hawaii-based business accelerator program. Top performers in the Lightning Excelerator will win not only funding, but also 1) dedicated mentors, 2) access to Blue Startups' training through Spring 2013, and 3) an opportunity to pitch at the joint Blue Startups – Energy Excelerator demo days in May.

The Pacific Excelerator will start accepting applications in summer 2013. Companies with highly innovative technologies will be accepted to participate in a 4-day program introducing participants to the Hawaii and Asia Pacific markets and strategic partners within their sector and customer segment.

For more information regarding both Energy Excelerator programs, visit hawaiirenewable.com/excelerator and connect via LinkedIn and Twitter.

This article was written by Dawn Lippert and Lauren Tonokawa and submitted to CleanTechnica.

Hawaii’s Energy Excelerator: A Cleantech Incubator was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

Local Governments Answer America’s Climate Change Wake-Up Call

Posted: 10 Jan 2013 04:49 AM PST

 
At this point, the effects of climate change on American communities are difficult to ignore. 2012 was officially the warmest year ever recorded in the US, with 362 all-time record highs (and zero record lows), and the second-most occurrences of extreme weather on record.

Breezy Point, New York damage Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy damage image via Shutterstock

But a lack of federal leadership has left local governments on their own to plan climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies. They're where extreme weather is most acutely felt, the first line of defense in times of climate crisis, and tell the truest account of climate change's impact on America.

These factors may seem like the perfect recipe for failure, but they're leading cities and counties across the country to take innovative resiliency action to protect lives, strengthen infrastructure, and preserve local economies, according to ICLEI USA.

ICLEI is the leading network of local governments working to address climate and sustainability challenges. Representing more than 1,000 members worldwide, it’s finding that local impacts drive local action.

"2012 has been a wake-up call for local governments," said Michael Schmitz, ICLEI USA executive director. "While it's been easy for members of Congress to pretend like this isn't happening, America's city and county governments don't have that luxury.”

Local Impacts Driving Real Action

A recent survey of 300 local governments laid out the reality of climate change in America: 74% perceived changes in the climate, and 59% are pursuing adaptation planning for hotter temperatures, more intense storms, and higher sea levels.

Storm surge barrier

Storm surge barrier image via Shutterstock

ICLEI has highlighted 20 communities across the continental US leading the charge and responding to extreme weather by planning for the future. Among the more notable examples:

  • Atlanta, GA – Experiencing hotter seasons that worsen urban heat island effects. Responding with a climate action plan, including cool roof/pavement standards and 10,000 new planted shade trees.
  • Chicago, IL – Experiencing extreme heat and flooding. Responding with the landmark Chicago Climate Action Plan and the most installed green roof square footage in America.
  • Eugene, OR – Experiencing major wildfires and ultra-dry conditions. Responding by increasing water conservation, reducing demand on hydroelectric power, and planting drought-resistant trees.
  • Miami Dade County, FL – Experiencing severe flooding, identified as the most vulnerable city in the world to sea level rise. Responding by addressing sea level rise and disaster response in urban planning, and investing millions in flood mitigation projects.
  • New York, NY – Experienced $19 billion in damage from Superstorm Sandy. Responding with a $2.4 billion green infrastructure plan, restoring barrier wetlands, and requiring a climate risk assessment for new developments.

 

Toward A Resilient Future

These communities are leading America's climate change response, and their experiences are also being used to help even more local governments take action. ICLEI has published a series of guidelines and tools to empower elected officials to plan for climate adaptation and mitigation, while boosting renewables and energy efficiency.

Reports continue to predict delaying action to address climate change will only increase the local effects. "We need to build more resilient communities that can withstand the impacts of climate change," continued Schmitz.

Thankfully, with ICLEI's resources at hand and the experiences of other communities to guide a path forward, more and more local governments may soon be able to take their first steps toward a more sustainable future.

Local Governments Answer America’s Climate Change Wake-Up Call was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

New Nissan Leaf Offers Faster Charger

Posted: 10 Jan 2013 04:17 AM PST

 
The new 2013 Nissan Leaf electric vehicle will be filled with improvements and will be manufactured in the United States, next door to the country’s largest lithium-ion automotive battery plant.

One of the big improvements in the new Nissan Leaf will be a faster charging time, thanks to a new, onboard, 6.6 kW charger that reduces 220V charging time nearly in half, down to approximately four hours for a full charge.

2013 Nissan LEAF Improves Charging Time

Additionally, the new 2013 Leaf will come in a cheaper (although currently unpriced) S model as well as the existing SV and SL grades.

An array of enhancements have been added to the Leaf SL, including leather-appointed seating and 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, while three new option packages have been made available, offering advanced systems such as Around View® Monitor and 7-speaker Bose® energy-efficient audio.

Most important the new Leaf is expected to offer improved range; though, any specs are being held back until closer to the vehicle’s on-sale date.

“The refinements and enhancements for 2013 hit at the core of customer requests during LEAF’s first two years – available features providing quicker charging, improved range expectations and the ability to fine-tune the equipment levels to exact owner needs, whether they desire fewer standard features for an even more affordable car or more luxury amenities like leather-appointed seating and premium audio,” said Nissan Division Vice President and General Manager Al Castignetti.

The full spec-list and press release detailing the changes and improvements to the 2013 Nissan Leaf range can be seen here.

New Nissan Leaf Offers Faster Charger was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

New Blade Design Are Longest Wind Turbine Blades Ever Built

Posted: 10 Jan 2013 03:54 AM PST

 
The UK Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) has appointed UK wind turbine developer Blade Dynamics to develop and demonstrate the technologies for constructing what would most likely end up being the world’s longest wind turbine blades.

The blades would measure in at between 80 and 100 metres in length, compared to more traditional offshore blades which only measure in at 60 to 75 metres in length. These new blade types are hoped to be used on the next generation of large offshore wind turbines that are currently under development, which will generate a capacity of 8 to 10 megawatts, up from the 5 to 6 megawatts of capacity currently in play in existing offshore turbines.

Blade Dynamics Building World's Longest Wind Turbine Blades

The new blades will be constructed incorporating carbon fibre rather than conventional fibre glass, and are constructed by means of a new design and manufacturing process which see the blades assembled from smaller, more accurate and easily manufactured component pieces. This, instead of the common large and expensive full-length mouldings.

“We have worked hard on the design of this blade technology for a number of years now,” said David Cripps, Senior Technical Manager, from Blade Dynamics. “Financial backing from the ETI for this project allows deployment on ultra-large turbines far sooner than would otherwise have been possible and as a result of this project we will be hiring new engineers and technologists to make this possible.”

The project is expected to see the blades manufactured and in a position to begin production by late 2014, which, as Cripps mentioned, brings this innovation into play much sooner than would have been expected. Design and innovation on this level desperately deserves the financial backing necessary to expedite production in an effort to push renewable energy industries into a leading electricity generating role.

The blades will weigh up to 40% less than the more traditional, glass-fibre blades and will help reduce the cost of the energy produced by the blades by way of cutting on weight and cost savings.

“Offshore wind has the potential to be a much larger contributor to the UK energy system if today's costs can be significantly reduced,” said Paul Trinick, Offshore Wind Project Manager at the ETI. “Investing in this project to develop larger, more efficient blades is a key step for the whole industry in paving the way for more efficient turbines, which will in turn help bring the costs of generating electricity down.”

The £15.5 million project will see the ETI — a public-private partnership between BP, Caterpillar, EDF, E.ON, Rolls-Royce, Shell, and the UK Government — become an equity investor in the Isle of Wight-based developer, and represents the second time in the past 12 months that the ETI has undertaken a private equity investment in a UK SME.

One can now only hope that other firms and investors will take note of the sort of innovation that exists across all the renewable energy industries and act accordingly. And for a massive photo of one of the new blades, check out this photo and be prepared to be amazed.

And let’s not forget the other innovations in wind turbine technology. Just last October Siemens started testing the world’s largest wind turbine rotor; December saw the first ever floating wind turbine being tested in the US; and in October Uprise Energy unveiled its new portable 50kW wind turbine.

New Blade Design Are Longest Wind Turbine Blades Ever Built was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

Governor Cuomo Expands New York Solar Energy Program, Gets SEIA’s Support

Posted: 10 Jan 2013 03:46 AM PST

 
The New York solar industry has a lot to be happy about after Governor Cuomo’s NY-Sun Initiative announcement (among others) yesterday. The announcement even got the attention of the national Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA), which issued this news release regarding the matter:

WASHINGTON, DC– In his State of the State Address, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo [yesterday] announced an expansion of New York State's NY-Sun Initiative for solar energy, funding it with an additional $150 million per year over the next 10 years. The governor also announced plans to create a $1 billion green bank, as well as his appointment of Richard Kauffman as New York's chairman for energy policy and finance.

Launched last year, NY-Sun is intended to help quadruple the amount of customer-sited solar in New York. This initiative is aimed at providing additional certainty to solar developers, attracting significant private investment in solar photovoltaic systems, enabling the sustainable development of a robust solar power industry in New York, creating additional quality jobs, improving the reliability of the electric grid, and reducing air pollution.

"Today's announcement shows New York State is making tremendous strides in its commitment to expanding solar deployment and growing its clean energy economy," said Carrie Cullen Hitt, senior vice president for state affairs at SEIA. "We applaud Governor Cuomo for advancing policies that promote clean energy innovation, create jobs, protect the environment, and help ensure our nation's energy security and independence. The NY-Sun Initiative has put New York State at the forefront of new solar deployment, creating clean economy jobs while containing energy costs for consumers. This expansion of the NY-Sun Initiative, the creation of a $1 billion green bank, as well as the appointment of former Department of Energy official Richard Kauffman as New York State's chairman for energy policy and finance, will ensure that solar becomes an increasingly significant component in New York's energy portfolio while supporting solar's affordability for more New York State families and businesses. We look forward to working with the governor and the legislature to move this initiative forward."

Since 2008, the amount of solar powering U.S. homes, businesses, and military bases has grown by more than 500 percent – from 1,100 megawatts to more than 6,400 megawatts today, which is enough to power more than one million average American households. Solar is the fastest-growing and most affordable, accessible and reliable clean energy technology available today. America's solar industry now employs more than 119,000 workers at 5,600 companies – most of which are small businesses spread across every state in the union.

New York State is currently ranked 12th among states in terms of installed solar capacity, according to the latest U.S. Solar Market Insight® report. There are approximately 3,300 solar professionals working at 338 companies in New York.

Additional Resources

- SEIA: New York Solar Policy: http://www.seia.org/state-solar-policy/new-york
- Outline of Gov. Cuomo's 2013 Agenda: http://www.governor.ny.gov/press/01092013-cuomo-agenda-2013
- NY-Sun Initiative website: http://ny-sun.ny.gov/

Governor Cuomo Expands New York Solar Energy Program, Gets SEIA’s Support was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

China & Renewable Energy: The Outlook For Growth

Posted: 10 Jan 2013 02:58 AM PST

 
China’s economy has grown at double-digit rates for most of the more than thirty years since then Premier Deng Xiao Peng and supporters managed to bring about a revolutionary shift in the Chinese government’s strategic goals and policies.

Opening up its borders to foreign investment, industry, and commerce; adopting an export-driven model of industrial and economic development; and joining the World Trade Organization (WTO), China has become the manufacturing hub of the world. That includes the manufacture of crystalline silicon (c-Si) solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, a market that Chinese manufacturers, supported by government policy and subsidies, have come to dominate over the past decade.

However, the negative impacts and ramifications of its rapid, export-focused industrial and real estate development-driven growth and development, along with its high environmental, social, and geopolitical costs, have become increasingly evident in recent years amid a backdrop of weakness and fragility in the financial sectors and economies of its key trading partners – the US, European Union (EU), and Japan atop the list.

This confluence of factors has prompted the Chinese government to take emergency measures, and adjust and reorient its policies. Finding ways of spurring even greater adoption of renewable energy domestically has been one focal point.

Solidiance’s Report on China’s Renewable Energy Growth Outlook

Changes to its domestic strategic plan for the solar energy market serve as a case in point. Looking to soak up what’s grown to be a "huge glut of solar panels and cells" and stem the precipitous drop in prices on the world market, China’s leadership has increased its target for domestic solar power capacity 8 times over in the past couple years, from 5 gigawatts to 40 gigawatts by 2015, as CleanTechnica site director Zachary Shahan notes.

In its 12th and latest five-year plan (for 2011–2015), China’s leadership again singled out renewable energy as a key, strategic economic sector targeted to receive even greater attention and support. Aiming to provide "a snapshot of China’s renewable energy market," consulting firm Solidiance January 8 released a white paper that "demonstrates the challenges and opportunities faced by this important industry."

In its paper, "China’s Renewable Energy Sector: An Overview of Key Growth Sectors," Solidiance analysts identify three main drivers propelling renewable energy’s growing importance, then move on to examine the government’s targets and strategies, which they note lie "at the root" of industry growth in China.

"The use of renewable energy is an increasingly hot topic and important issue in China. According to Solidiance’s analysis, there are 3 key drivers behind the continued interest in renewable energy in China:

1. China's increasing demand for electricity.
2. China's need to reduce its reliance on coal for energy production
3. China's need to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

"In the face of the problems of climate change, greenhouse gas emissions and oil prices rising, the public has come to realize the importance of developing renewable energy. More and more people opt for green travel or low-carbon lifestyles and the public media has been increasing its coverage and publicity of the development of low carbon technology and renewable energy," Solidance quotes Liu Mingliang, an analyst for the China Wind Energy Association, as saying.

China & Fossil Fuel Use: Unsustainable

The twin aspects of China’s rapid rise to global economic prominence can be captured in two statistics: over the past ten years, China has grown to become the world’s largest consumer of energy, and it has become the world’s largest producer of carbon and greenhouse gas emissions. China produced 20% of all electricity worldwide in 2010, overtaking the US for the first time to become the world’s largest producer of electricity, Solidiance analysts highlight in the report.

While GHG emissions in the US exhibited a slightly declining trend over the past decade, and those of Japan, Russia and India held steady, China’s have risen rapidly, a trend that shows signs of accelerating. Moreover, energy consumption in China has more than doubled in less than 10 years, and there’s no sign of abatement as "the Chinese government continues to invest in moving Chinese manufacturers away from low-cost manufacturing and higher up the value chain into greater value-added activities," Solidiance analysts note.

The increasingly high costs, risks, and threats posed by ongoing reliance on coal, oil, and gas are not lost on China’s leadership. "China's demand for energy as well as its capabilities and capacity for energy production are now positioning China to seize the opportunity to take the lead in the development of sustainable energy technologies, so as to further cement its position as an international leader in renewable energies," according to Solidance’s report.

That said, thermal coal continues to be the source of the large majority of China’s power generation capacity, accounting for 77% of total output. Renewable energy resources, in contrast, account for 19.3% when hydropower is included. Take hydropower out of the calculation and renewable energy generation accounts for just 1.3% of China’s electricity generation, according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy, June 2011, Solidiance highlights in its report.

"China is quickly realising that coal will no longer be able to support the growth of its economy. Considering the logistical aspects of using coal, China has to either import it or have it removed from mines which is very difficult, and as a matter of fact, China is now rapidly using up its coal capacity," Solidiance asserts. "China is now recognising that it is unable to get more coal as quickly as it is needed, so China will have to switch to something else.

"In the future, the effectiveness of China's industrial evolution will no longer be judged on the speed of development alone. Instead, the application of smarter, more sustainable energy sourcing techniques will serve as a stronger indicator of China's next generation of successful growth in the coming 10-15 years."

Realizing Pledges to Reduce Carbon, Greenhouse Gas Emissions: A Vexing Problem

Pressed by international organizations such as the United Nations to reduce its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, then Premier Wen Jiabao at the 2009 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference of parties, as part of the Copenhagen Accord, pledged China would reduce its CO2 emissions 40%-45% from 2005 levels by 2020.

Clearly, a drastic shift in energy resource use is required if China has any chance of delivering on its commitment. Renewable energy sources currently account for around 9% of China’s overall energy supply mix. The government has targeted a goal of reaching 15% by 2020, according to Solidiance.

While there are those that have serious doubts of seeing any such dramatic change, Solidiance notes that "China's investment in renewables has grown at around 80% per annum since 2004, clearly demonstrating China's commitment to pursuing global leadership in renewable energies and building a sustainable support structure for the continued growth and development of its national economy."

China’s 2006 Renewable Energy Law — the first state-supported renewable energy mandate — continues to serve as the foundation for growth in renewable energy development and adoption, Solidiance analysts state. The 2006 Renewable Energy law promotes construction of renewable energy facilities and puts pressure on grid operators to purchase their output, the excess costs being picked up by imposing a surcharge on all consumers.

The Chinese government raised this surcharge 100% in December 2011, from 0.04 RMB per kWh to 0.08 RMB per kWh, which led to a subsidy fund balance of some RMB 50 billion, "all of which is used to further develop the use of renewable energy in China," according to Solidiance analysts.

China – Installed Solar Power Capacity

China – Installed Wind Power Capacity

Infrastructure, Sustainable Growth & Development

The lack of adequate power transmission and distribution infrastructure continues to pose significant obstacles to realizing the government’s renewable energy ambitions. China’s not alone in this regard, as fellow CleanTechnia correspondent Silvio Marcacci notes in this synopsis of a Greentech Media report.

The lack of infrastructure to bring electricity generated from renewable sources online at faster rates has plagued corresponding efforts in the US and EU, with grid interconnection slowing down and threatening Germany and the EU’s chances of meeting their offshore wind power targets, for instance.

As stated in China’s latest five-year plan, sustainability is the buzzword for the development of China’s economic growth model out to 2015, with the focus of investment placed on clean energy, energy conservation, and clean energy cars, Solidiance highlights in its report.

In line with these three primary goals, the Chinese government has set targets of reducing energy use by 15% per unit of GDP, and reducing CO2 emissions by 17%. The government has also set an investment target of RMB 5.3 trillion (~US$ 830 billion) for the power industry, "with hydro power, wind, solar, biomass and grid developments as key targets."

How to drive rapid growth of renewable energy capacity while meeting its economic growth targets poses a vexing problem for China’s leadership. Shutting down factories during peak season, as the government did to help meet energy and CO2 emission reduction targets during the 11th Five Year Plan period 2006–2010, "suggests a lack of systematic planning of how to develop renewable energy systems along with the relevant supporting industries as part of the government's push to reduce China's carbon dioxide emissions in line with their self-imposed targets," Solidiance analysts note.

Quoted in the report, a senior US diplomat at the US Embassy in Beijing takes a similar view. "The Five Year Plan is a strategic plan of where the government wants to go, but they don't specify how they will get there.

"The 12th Five Year Plan has been out there for a year or so, but is not in a position of serious implementation. They are only now beginning to look at it from an industrial level and trying to figure out how they can get to where they want to go, they are only now finalising the 'how' part of their strategy."

A national renewable energy roadmap that provides a more granular and dynamic assessment of the stages of development of China’s key renewable energy sectors could benefit China’s shift to a sustainable energy-based economy immensely. In its report, Solidiance assesses the stages of development of each of China’s four principal renewable energy sectors:

1. Hydro – Approaching Decline: With fewer suitable locations for the installation of hydro power, the industry is experiencing a 'final push' before the final slowdown. The well-established industry is past its peak and now moving towards decline.
2. Wind – Approaching Maturity: With well-established distribution channels and product standards maturing, the industry is seeing slowed growth after a period of rapid expansion, with recovery rates uncertain.
3. Solar PV – Entering Growth: With a large number of competitors in the market, industry players are seeking to differentiate themselves, regularly creating product innovations and receiving increased levels of investment.
4. Biofuels – Introduction Stage: With technical issues still being resolved, industry players are now beginning to show an interest in the sector. The infant industry is being investigated for future investment, with rapid future growth expected.

There’s a wealth of additional information and detail on each of these four sectors in Solidiance’s report, the results of which we’ll examine in subsequent posts.

All graphics courtesy of Solidiance, "China’s Renewable Energy Sector: An Overview of Key Growth Sectors."

China & Renewable Energy: The Outlook For Growth was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

Ford Fusion Wins AOL Autos 2012 Car Of The Year

Posted: 10 Jan 2013 01:23 AM PST

 
The staff over at AOL Autos did what many websites do at the end of the year and nominated its top 5 products of the year; in AOL Auto’s case, the top 5 cars from 2012.

The winner? The 2013 Ford Fusion.

Though for the life of me I’ve no idea why.

Ford Fusion Awarded AOL Autos Car of the Year ... but why?

Let’s be honest for a moment. The Ford Fusion does look beautiful. To quote the AOL Autos staff, “the bold styling is seen in the car’s front-end, which is audaciously reminiscent of the Aston Martin Rapide,” and if anything that’s a win right there.

However, looks and pricing aside, the Ford Fusion only runs a combined fuel economy of 28 miles per gallon which, in this day and age, is verging on horribly low for any ‘car of the year’.

AOL Autos states that the “Ford Fusion boldly redesigned to not only raise the bar from the original Fusion, but to meet the stalwarts of the category–Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and Nissan Altima–pound for pound and dollar for value for performance, value and quality.”

Nothing to be said there about fuel efficiency.

So, while the Ford Fusion may look pretty and compete well with its competitors in handling and value, in a day and age where petrol prices are simply sky-rocketing through the ceiling of anyone’s budget, it beggars belief that you can name a mid-sized sedan with only 28 mpg combined as anyone’s car of the year.

Authors Note: while the Ford Fusion does come in a Hybrid version, AOL Autos refer to the Consumer Reports reports stating the advertised fuel economy does not add up in real-world driving. 

Ford Fusion Wins AOL Autos 2012 Car Of The Year was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

Interactive Tool For Developing A Cleaner Energy Future

Posted: 10 Jan 2013 01:12 AM PST

 
NREL just made a big announcement regarding an interactive tool it has created for developing a cleaner energy future. Here’s the full announcement (screenshot from the BITES website added):

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has created an energy analysis tool to help individuals and educators experiment with future energy use scenarios. The interactive Buildings, Industry, Transportation, Electricity, and Transportation Scenarios (BITES) allows users to explore how changes in energy demand and supply can impact carbon dioxide emissions and the current U.S. energy trajectory.

“BITES can help people understand the complex issues surrounding the energy and carbon implications of altering America’s energy profile,” NREL Senior Analyst Austin Brown said. “By imagining ‘what-if’ scenarios, users are able to adjust inputs from things like electricity generation to transportation fuel use in order to compare their outcomes to baseline cases.”

The scenarios used in BITES were originally developed to examine strategic planning opportunities for DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. DOE is interested in identifying research priorities where potential technical advances will have the greatest impact in achieving national energy goals. As the scenarios demonstrate, significant technology and policy deployment in every sector is required to meet U.S. climate and energy security goals.

BITES was adapted for the web so anyone can investigate possible pathways for the U.S. energy economy. Users can adjust assumptions to each sector of the U.S. economy in order to evaluate outcomes, or combine these sector-specific strategies into a more complete picture of potential future energy use.

“For instance, someone could calculate how much energy could be saved by making homes and businesses more efficient,” Brown said. “They could also look at how much petroleum could be saved by making cars, trucks, and planes more efficient. And then, the users can put it all together and look at the combined impact of these situations.”

Scenarios created in BITES can be private, or they can be shared with the analysis community for discussion. Educators and students interested in energy and sustainability can use BITES to help teach the combined impacts of research, policy, or other forms of national action in energy. The BITES team has developed and piloted a college level workshop and is seeking interested educators to help further refine the curriculum. Information can be found online at https://bites.nrel.gov/education.php.

BITES launches with several featured scenarios representing the findings of high-profile studies. One example focuses on the potential for high penetration of renewables in the electric sector based on the recent Renewable Electricity Futures study.

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy’s primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for DOE by The Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.

Interactive Tool For Developing A Cleaner Energy Future was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

Goal Zero Launches Brand New Off-Grid Solar Generator

Posted: 10 Jan 2013 12:59 AM PST

 
The dawning of a new year means resolutions, diets, and my favourite, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas where consumer manufacturers gather to display their latest designs, prototypes, and upcoming releases.

Amongst them this year is the Yeti 150 Solar Generator by Goal Zero which gives you plug-and-play electricity for anything from emergencies through to your own camping trips.

Yeti150, the new Portable Solar Charger from Goal Zero

Smaller than the previous Yeti 1250 which requires wheels to maneuver around, the Yeti 150 can be charged up to 150 watt-hours of electricity and can be carried around using a smart green handle.

And this little generator can power just about anything;

  • USB
  • 12V
  • AC

Which means that it will power devices as far ranging as your laptop and tablet through to pumps and lamps.

The Yeti 150 can be charged from a wall point, but also from the 15W Bolder 15 Solar Panel installed on the device.

"We (Goal Zero) design all our products to provide our customers with a sense of security," said Joe Atkin, President and CEO of the Utah-based company. "Whether you choose to be away from the grid or it fails our Yeti line of solar generators can help keep the lights on, your phones charged, and your refrigerators working."

The Yeti 150 will be available from only $400 and can be reserved now on the Goal Zero website.

Goal Zero Launches Brand New Off-Grid Solar Generator was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

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