Monday, January 14, 2013

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Link to CleanTechnica

South Gloucestershire To Save And Reduce Carbon Emissions By Switching Off Street Lights

Posted: 13 Jan 2013 06:16 PM PST

South Gloucestershire is set to expand a program to switch off street lights between midnight and 5 am in order to cut costs on energy bills and reduce carbon emissions. The council has already implemented the program for approximately 6,000 of the total 29,500 street lights and has already saved over $145,000.

Credit: Pierre Vignau (Some right reserved)

The program will be expanded to 20,000 street lights by October this year, which will increase savings to $400,000 and save about 2,000 tonnes of carbon emissions every year.

The council had initiated this program on a trial basis in 2008 to assess its impact on the safety and security of the residents and also to assess the potential financial savings. Through the trials the council officials found that the program revealed no adverse effects and subsequently decided to expand the program to cover about 67% of the street lights by October 2013.

The council has excluded 33% of the street lights from the program which are located near roundabouts, emergency services and areas known to have high crime rate.

Rising Energy Prices, Carbon Emissions Force Streetlight Blackout

In 2012, several energy companies in the United Kingdom increased energy prices. Price increases announced by British Gas, npower, and EDF Energy, were partially responsible for local authorities taking the initiative to switch off street lights. Another reason for these measures — which may be called drastic by some — is the increase in carbon emissions by almost all the local authorities in the UK. Between 2009 and 2010, 97% of the local authorities reported increase in their carbon emissions. Only 12 of the 406 local authorities reported falls in its carbon emissions in 2010. This was a complete reversal from the situation in 2009 when only 4 local authorities reported increases in annual carbon emissions.

The UK Committee on Climate Change had urged the local authorities to do more to reduce their carbon emissions. The UK has a legally binding target to reduce its carbon emissions by 80% by 2050 from 1990 levels. David Kennedy, the committee’s chief executive, stated that the local authorities have a critical role in achieving that target. The committee calculates that collective action from the local authorities can result in the reduction of carbon emissions by up to 15 million tonnes per year, or approximately 3% of the UK’s carbon emissions. As a result, several local authorities have announced their own carbon emission reduction targets, but many others have called for increased financial support from the central government.

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

South Gloucestershire To Save And Reduce Carbon Emissions By Switching Off Street Lights 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.

Off-Grid Solar Power Projects For Myanmar

Posted: 13 Jan 2013 10:00 AM PST

SPCG Public Company Limited has announced that it intends to set up off-grid solar power projects for rural populations in Myanmar. The company has significant experience in the solar power sector in the Southeast Asia region. The company is expected to have 240 MW of operational solar power capacity in the region by the end of 2013. It is now planning to enter the new market of Myanmar which could open up highly attractive new sources of revenue.

Myanmar Flag (Credit: CIA World Factbook | GNU Free License)

While the company currently has plans to establish only 2 MW of solar power capacity, it may look to expand further. Myanmar is struggling to meet the rising electricity demand from its 60-million-strong population. According to the Asian Development Bank, of the 40 million people living in rural areas, only 16% are connected to the power grid. The majority of the rural population is dependent on diesel oil generators which are not only huge sources of harmful emissions (including carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide) but also cost about twice as much as off-grid solar power solutions.

Several renewable energy project developers in the Asian countries see this situation as a great investment opportunity. SPCG is looking to set up small hydro power plants in addition to solar power projects, as Myanmar is blessed with significant hydro power resources. Such small-scale and off-grid renewable energy projects are likely to play a critical role in the economic development of the large rural population of the country, as large-scale electricity infrastructure and regulatory mechanisms might take substantial time to implement.

100s of GW of Renewable Energy To Be Tapped

Myanmar is blessed with substantial renewable energy resources. Hydro power is the country’s biggest clean energy asset, with an estimated potential of over 100,000 MW. Wind energy, which is currently in the experimental and research phase there, has an estimated electricity generation potential of 365 TWh per year. Solar radiation intensity is also quite attractive at 5 kWh/m2/day during the dry season. Biofuels have shown significant promise as well.

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

Off-Grid Solar Power Projects For Myanmar 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.

Ohio To Get Honda’s Money

Posted: 13 Jan 2013 07:10 AM PST

Ohio’s about to get a big economic boost from Honda. Honda of America Mfg., Inc is going to invest $23 million in Marysville, Ohio’s economy to expand its Marysville manufacturing plant by 95,000 square feet. The reason? The company is going to construct the 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid there.

This will be the third hybrid model that Honda will build in the US, and the first in Ohio. It will be equipped with two motors — the Earth Dreams Technology 2.0-liter i-VTEC 4-cylinder Atkinson cycle engine and a 124 kW electric traction motor.

The electric motor can function as an electric, continuously variable transmission (e-CVT), and a 105kW electricity generator.

Electric motors are conceptually very similar to generators because they utilize the same basic principle of electromagnetic induction, which is why motors in general can also generate electricity by default. Although, certain types, such as induction motors, require minor modification before they will generate electricity.

The Need For Electric Vehicles

Hybrid electric vehicles are part of the transition to fully electric vehicles, which are only part of the effort to facilitate both transportation and electricity generation without coal, diesel, or oil.

Electric vehicles facilitate this because they can be powered by any fuel or energy source, even garbage, landfill gas, hydrogen, WVO, and of course sunlight and wind.

This versatility is paramount to getting the United States off oil, or any other energy source with which it has problems.

Honda’s Ohio Love

Over the last three years, Honda has announced that it has invested over $800 million in its Ohio factories. These investments include projects to establish on-site parts consolidation centers, renovate auto assembly and painting operations, and make major investments at the Anna Engine Plant (as well as its transmission plant in Russells Point) to manufacture continuously variable transmissions (CVTs).

Source: Green Car Congress

Ohio To Get Honda’s Money 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.

Small Chinese Solar Manufacturers Were Decimated In 2012

Posted: 13 Jan 2013 07:00 AM PST

Someone from ENF recently passed on the post below. It does a good job of succinctly presenting what was a rather huge solar story of 2012, so I decided to go ahead and repost it from ENF (with minor edits). Check it out:

2012 has been the most difficult year to date for Chinese solar manufacturers. Too many new manufacturers flooded into the industry in 2011, with the number of core solar chain producers (ingot, wafer, cell, and panel) rising from 807 manufacturers to 901 manufacturers.

This has resulted in a serious price crash as producers fought to keep their factories running. Prices that Chinese manufacturers were selling their crystalline panels in December 2011 stood at €0.68/Wp ($0.92) but by December 2012 that had plunged to €0.46/Wp ($0.60).

For thin-film panel manufacturers, the situation was even worse. Unable to lower their cost of manufacturing fast enough, they saw their average selling price actually become more expensive than crystalline panels. Chinese thin-film panel prices dropped from €0.63/Wp ($0.85) in December 2011 to €0.57/Wp ($0.74) in December 2012. Historically, most large customers would only purchase thin-film panels due to the cost being significantly lower than crystalline panels, and so, much of the thin-film industry has come to a grinding halt.

As profits vanished, many manufacturers went bankrupt. During 2012, the number of core solar chain manufacturers dropped from 901 to 704, with a particular drop among panel manufacturers from 624 manufacturers to 454 manufacturers. In addition, a further 180 core chain manufacturers went to sleep, meaning that there are now only 524 currently operating manufacturers (a drop of 42% since 2011).

In the Chinese solar industry, a small manufacturer will generally only take a customer order if he can make a profit, and will generally not produce anything until a profitable customer is in hand. So, when a bubble occurs and orders dry up completely, a small manufacturer will often just shut their gates and ask their employees to come back in the future when the industry is in better health. This phenomenon is excellent for the industry's health – instantly sucking capacity out of the market as it becomes too bloated. So while the small players may have contributed to the solar bubble by jumping in without understanding global market supply and demand trends, they also act to remedy an unprofitable market.

2013 is showing signs of increasing demand – and as the solar winter ends, we should see the re-emergence of the small sleeping manufacturers.

About ENF: ENF Solar ( is a solar market research company that actively interviews Chinese solar core chain manufacturers throughout the year. It also publishes a free online directory of all solar companies in the world.

Small Chinese Solar Manufacturers Were Decimated In 2012 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.

U.S. Military Bets $20 Million On 500 Electric Vehicles For EV-To-Grid Initiative

Posted: 13 Jan 2013 04:00 AM PST

Among the many (many, many) sustainable energy programs recently launched by the U.S. military, the Defense Department’s new military electric-vehicles-to-grid initiative is especially worth noting. With the announcement of a $20 million, 500-vehicle leasing program soon to get underway, in one fell swoop it’s going to accelerate several major trends that have been slowly leaking into the civilian mainstream.

That includes the marriage of zero emission electric vehicles with the potential for zero-emission recharging from solar panels or other renewable sources, smart grid technology with off-peak power maximization, and the flexibility of local energy storage to help secure facilities (or individual buildings) against brownouts and more serious grid disruptions.

Department of Defense to lease 500 electric vehicles

500 More Electric Vehicles for the U.S. Military

The new lease program, which is expected to get underway later this year, will cover a variety of off-the-shelf vehicles ranging from $30,000 to $100,000 in the commercial market.

The 500 vehicles will be split among six installations, with Los Angeles Air Force Base taking the lead.

If that name rings a bell, you may recall that a little over a year ago LA AFB announced that it would become the first federal government facility ever to replace 100 percent of its fleet (its non-tactical fleet, that is) with electric vehicles. The new lease program is based partly on lessons learned from that program, which covered non-emergency sedans and buses as well as light trucks.

Coincidentally, LA AFB is also an early solar energy leader, and its all-EV initiative includes solar charging as well as a demonstration ground for EV-to-grid systems. Basically, the electric vehicles serve as mobile energy storage units. They can be charged at off-peak hours to take advantage of lower electricity rates and/or any available renewable energy, and when integrated with a smart microgrid they be called into play to help alleviate stress on the local grid during periods of peak use.

Many Benefits from Military’s Transition to Electric Vehicles

As described by Camron Gorguinpour, special assistant to the assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and logistics, the prospect of reducing greenhouse gas emissions at military facilities is side benefit to the main attractions of switching to EV’s: saving money on fleet expenses, meeting energy efficiency goals

For those of you wondering why leasing is the preferred option, the typical lifespan of a non-tactical military vehicle is far longer than the current pace of innovation in EV technology. By leasing, the Defense Department can roll over its EV fleet more quickly to take advantage of new models.

As for the 500 vehicles, that’s just a drop in the bucket of DoD’s fleet of non-tactical ground vehicles, which last time we looked numbered about 190,000. Just imagine what kind of market demand is going to kick in if and when this initial program proves its worth and DoD ramps up the pace of its EV transition.

The Coming EV-to-Grid Revolution

Meanwhile, back in the civilian sector, a mirror trend has been taking place in which consumers are finding themselves at the cusp of a transition from vehicles that you just fill up and drive, to vehicles that partner with you to achieve the most efficient, lowest-cost, lowest-emission energy consumption patterns across the spectrum of your needs, from mobility to household use.

We’ve already seen a steady growth in the integration of EV manufacturers, charging station manufacturers and rooftop solar companies, and now auto manufacturers are taking it to the next level.

Ford seems to be first out of the box with its MyEnergi Lifestyle EV package, which encourages EV owners to think of a car as the biggest electrical appliance they will ever own, one that can store renewable energy, take advantage of off-peak pricing to lower costs, and interact with other household appliances through a cloud-based mini-grid.

Image: EV power connector by Dawn Endico

Follow me on Twitter: @TinaMCasey

U.S. Military Bets $20 Million On 500 Electric Vehicles For EV-To-Grid Initiative 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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