Saturday, January 19, 2013

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Link to CleanTechnica

First Turbine Installed At Teesside Offshore Wind Farm

Posted: 18 Jan 2013 09:30 PM PST

EDF Energy Renewables confirmed that it installed the first 2.3MW wind turbine at its 62MW wind farm.

First Turbine Installed At Teesside Offshore Wind FarmSome people may wonder why wind farms are installed offshore, as offshore wind electricity is more expensive than onshore wind power.

One reason to continue to pursue offshore wind is that technologies usually start out expensive and have to be tried and tested in order to improve, and the other is that offshore wind farms provide the largest and most stable source of electricity due to the fact that offshore winds tend to be stronger and more consistent.

The offshore wind industry is still very young, yet they have already learned important lessons about offshore wind, which prompted improvements such as the switch to gearless wind turbines to reduce maintenance costs.

Execution by far is the most revealing of a concept’s flaws, that is why pilot projects are required for every industry, as well as large projects which can actually yield different test results and may have different problems from small pilot projects.

In other words, you cannot be entirely sure about something until you do the real thing, and in some cases, full-scale.

This 27 turbine wind farm is EDF Energy Renewable’s first UK offshore wind project. It will be located 1.5 km off the North east coast at Redcar.

This wind farm is one of a wave of offshore wind projects that earned the UK the position of the leading offshore wind market. There are some enormous projects planned.

Completion of this wind farm is expected by spring, provided that the weather cooperates.

“The installation of the first offshore turbine on our first offshore scheme is a landmark event for the company, supporting the expansion of our onshore wind farm capacity over recent years,” said Christian Egal, chief executive of EDF Energy Renewables.

Source: businessGreen

First Turbine Installed At Teesside Offshore Wind Farm 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.

Colorado Solar Industry Association Readies Launch of Million Solar Roofs Campaign

Posted: 18 Jan 2013 08:00 PM PST

Colorado has gained a place at the forefront of the drive to power the US on clean, renewable energy. The transition to renewable energy sources is still in its infancy, however, and the state’s solar energy industry participants are looking to add to the momentum.

The Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association (COSEIA) on Jan. 16 announced that it will present the outline of its plan to pave "The Path to a Million Solar Roofs" at the Solar Power Colorado conference and trade show at The Westin in Westminister, outside Denver, Feb. 5-6.

Photo credit: Namaste Solar

US Solar Energy: A Growth Curve Inflection Point?

Coloradans are reaping the benefits of collaborative pro solar, wind, clean tech policies, plans and actions that span government, commerce and industry, academia, and civil society.

Solar and wind energy installations almost doubled between 2007 and 2011, and Colorado’s become a renewable energy and clean tech hub for manufacturers and participants all along the value chain. That’s driven green job creation, and boosted tax revenues, not to mention near and long-term health and environmental benefits from reducing carbon and greenhouse gas emissions and impacts of energy resource development.

"The Metro Denver region alone had about 1,500 companies and 18,000 workers in the cleantech sector in 2011, and achieved a 35% increase in direct employment growth since 2006," according to one of three initial Clean Energy Economic Development Series reports on the success and benefits of renewable energy development in US states produced by the Environmental Defense Fund and Collaborative Economics.

Shooting for a Ten-Fold Increase

COSEIA is looking to keep the renewable energy locomotive going with its Million Solar Roofs campaign and 2013 Solar Power Colorado conference.

“Solar energy is now a $100 billion global industry. As Colorado pioneers its path to a Million Solar Roofs, we’re excited to bring solar executives and utility leaders together to build partnerships for future growth," executive director Neal Lurie was quoted in a COSEIA press release.

“We are excited to outline our Million Solar Roofs campaign at the conference and to enlist industry leaders to help us flesh out the details to refine the plan for reaching this ambitious goal.”

The goal of the campaign, COSEIA elaborates, is to "provide about 3 gigawatts (GW) of solar energy in Colorado by 2030 through a combination of photovoltaic (PV) electric systems and solar thermal heating and cooling systems."

To do so, COSEIA members and partners aim to "boost public outreach, utility partnerships and public-private collaborations to encourage the growth of solar energy from small arrays on homes to large utility-scale projects, and from community solar gardens to industrial rooftop projects. To reach this goal, solar would supply nearly a fifth of our state’s energy needs."

For more on COSEIA’s Milllion Solar Roofs campaign and its plans to get there, check out this blog post by The Denver Post’s Cathy Proctor.

Colorado Solar Industry Association Readies Launch of Million Solar Roofs Campaign 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 Cost-efficient Method To Assess Renewable Energy Potential Of Waste

Posted: 18 Jan 2013 07:30 PM PST

A new approach has been developed by Cranfield University for calculating the renewable energy potential of waste products prior to incineration process. The new method is expected to cut down time and money for the energy and waste industries.

Image: Ari Herzog (CC BY-NC)

Under the UK Government's Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) scheme, electricity suppliers are required to demonstrate the biomass content or fraction of mixed fuels, and incentives are offered to electricity suppliers for sourcing an increasing proportion of the electricity from renewable sources.

The current process for calculating the content of renewable energy in waste involves manual segregation of waste into individual components which is a time-consuming activity and carries issues regarding labour costs, as well as health and safety concerns. It may also involve analysis of the flue gas using specialist equipment for carbon dating, which is costly and can only be calculated retrospectively.

The new method involves use of image and microwave analysis tools to determine accurately the composition of a mixed waste material and amount of renewable energy generation from each individual component in the waste stream.

Dr Stuart Wagland, Lecturer in renewable energy from waste at Cranfield, commented: "The system enables greater operator control over the fuels, allowing for blending to optimise the biogenic (renewable) content and the overall calorific value, or energy released on combustion."

Apart from saving time and money, the new approach will enable energy suppliers to predict the accurate amount of biogenic material present in the waste. Biogenic material consists of waste made up of materials produced by living organisms or biological processes such as paper, certain textiles, and food waste.

This research has attracted the interest of private companies and work is being planned in collaboration with National Physical Laboratory to further develop tools and test them with a number of feedstocks in a range of waste handling facilities.

According to some estimates, around 200 million tonnes of waste is produced in UK every year which is capable of producing 4% of the total UK's electricity and water needs.

New Method Could Help More Efficient Use Of Waste

Domestic waste can become a major source of energy if the conversion processes are made more 'environmental-friendly', that is, engineered and modified in such a way that the net energy content is increased while the potential of carbon emissions decreases (the emission intensity of waste-to-power process is reduced). Modifications may include further treatment of waste before being turned into fuel pellets or using microbial action to modify the waste's properties to reduce its final carbon footprint.

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

New Cost-efficient Method To Assess Renewable Energy Potential Of Waste 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.

FERC Regulatory Change Could Boost Distributed Solar In The US

Posted: 18 Jan 2013 06:30 PM PST

Connecting distributed generation solar projects to the electrical grid may have just gotten much faster and cheaper, potentially boosting both the US solar industry and overall grid reliability. 

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) yesterday published a set of regulatory reforms intended to streamline the grid interconnection process for mid-sized solar projects that meet certain technical standards. If approved, the reforms could double the amount of solar qualifying for "fast track" interconnection in the US. 

FERC's regulatory reform would update Order Number 2006, issued in 2005. The order established the first set of interconnection procedures for wholesale electricity generation projects under 20 megawatts (MW) in size. The procedures were adopted by many states, but with the solar market’s rapid growth, many aspects of Order 2006 have created red tape to bringing new projects online. 

Why Do Grid Interconnections Matter?

You might be wondering just what an interconnection is, and why it's so important to solar, so here's a quick primer. Interconnection standards are the requirements any electricity generator — either customer or utility — must meet in order for the grid operator to approve their connection to plug into transmission lines and sell power onto the system. 

The federal government has jurisdiction over the interconnection process for distributed solar projects where electricity is being sold to a utility on the wholesale market, and the growing volume of proposed solar installations has created a logjam in many areas, threatening many projects.   

What’s At Stake?

To get a sense of what’s at stake for this growing market, consider that PJM Interconnection (America's largest grid operator) recently stated two-thirds of active projects are under 20MW, and California (America's largest solar market) has a regulatory mechanism in place to procure 1,000 MW of distributed renewable generation from projects under 20MW. 

FERC's proposed reforms would streamline the interconnection process in four ways;

  • Allow projects requesting interconnections to be given a pre-application report from transmission operators evaluating the proposed installation before a formal request is made.
  • Increase the threshold for participation in the "fast track" process from 2MW to 5MW, and base eligibility on individual systems and resources.
  • Revise the supplemental review process for projects that fail to meet fast track requirements.
  • Provide interconnection requestors the ability to submit written comments on transmission upgrades necessary for their interconnection.

Massive Potential For America’s Solar Market

Wholesale distributed solar generation projects are an important element to meeting America's solar potential, because they fall between small rooftop projects and large utility-scale projects. Distributed solar generation can also be located close to demand, have smaller environmental impacts, and can be quickly constructed. 

"We applaud FERC for recognizing the challenges facing wholesale distributed generation development, which is one of the fastest-growing segments of the solar energy industry," said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). "This important proposed rule has the potential to roughly double the amount of solar generation capacity eligible to be fast-tracked in the US." 

FERC Regulatory Change Could Boost Distributed Solar In The US 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.

Wind Power Tops In New US Generation Capacity For 2012

Posted: 18 Jan 2013 05:37 PM PST

With key federal tax credits due to expire at year-end 2012, US wind energy developers brought a total of 45 projects online with a total rated generating capacity of 3,095 megawatts (MW) in December. That amounts to more than double the amount of coal-fired generation capacity and some 34% more than natural gas-fired electricity generation capacity, according to the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Office of Energy’s Energy Infrastructure Update for December 2012.

Statistics for the entire year are no less impressive. Nearly 10,700 MW of wind power capacity came online in 2012 as compared to 4,510 MW for coal and 8,746 MW of natural gas-fired capacity. In total, 40.5% of new US electricity generation capacity came from wind power installations as compared to 33.1% for natural gas.

Year-over-year comparisons show a 56% increase in US wind power capacity, though coal-fired generation capacity expanded at an even greater rate, rising more than 133% year-over-year (YoY). Additional natural gas-fired generation capacity decreased nearly 21% YoY.

Sixteen solar power projects came online in December, adding 77 MW to US solar power generation capacity. For the year, 240 solar power projects with a total capacity of 1,476 MW went live, a 30.5% YoY gain.

New Generation In-Service (New Build and Expansion) December and Year 2012, 2011

December 2012 January-December 2012(Cumulative) Jan. – Dec. 2011(Cumulative)
Primary Fuel Type No. of Units Installed Capacity (MW) No. of Units (MW) Installed Capacity
No. of Units (MW) Installed Capacity
Coal 4 1434 8 4510 15 1932
Natural Gas 6 2306 94 8746 108 11020
Nuclear 0 0 1 125 0 0
Oil 0 0 19 49 66 136
Water 2 4 13 99 41 94
Wind 45 3095 164 10689 146 6844
Biomass 5 91 100 543 131 446
Geothermal Steam 2 9 13 149 9 56
Solar 16 77 240 1476 354 1131
Waste Heat 0 0 1 3 2 136
Other 2 0 5 0 11 0
Total 82 7016 658 26387 883 21795

* Source: Office of Energy Projects, Energy Infrastructure Update For December 2012; Data derived from Ventyx Global LLC, Velocity Suite.

Natural gas is now the single largest source of electricity generation capacity in the US, driven higher by the shale gas boom and resulting decline in prices, as the Office of Energy’s breakdown of US electricity generation capacity by source as of year-end 2012 shows.

Total Installed Operating Generating Capacity

Installed Capacity (GW) % of Total Capacity
Coal 337.31 29.17%
Natural Gas 491.82 42.48%
Nuclear 107.01 9.24%
Oil 41.32 3.57%
Water 98.12 8.47%
Wind 57.53 4.97%
Biomass 15 1.30%
Geothermal Steam 3.7 0.32%
Solar 3.9 0.34%
Waste Heat 0.69 0.06%
Other 1.04 0.09%
Total 1157.86 100.00%

*Source: Office of Energy; Data derived from Ventyx Global LLC, Velocity Suite

Following is the lengthy list of wind power generation capacity that was brought online in the US in December 2012, organized by region:

New England

  • Iberdrola SA's 28.5 MW Hoosac Wind in Bershire County, MA is online. Hoosac Wind consists of 19 GE 1.5 MW wind turbines. The electricity generated is sold to NSTAR Electric Co. under long-term contract.
  • Iberdrola SA's 48 MW Groton Wind Project in Grafton County, NH is online. Groton Wind consists of 24 Gamesa Energy USA 2 MW wind turbines. The electricity generated is sold to NSTAR Electric Co. under long-term contract.
  • Georgia Mountain Community Wind's 10 MW Georgia Mountain Wind in Chittenden County, VT is online. Georgia Mountain consists of 4 Goldwind Science & Technology 2.5 MW wind turbines. The electricity generated is sold to Burlington Electric Department under long-term contract.


  • Wind projects in Pennsylvania:
    1. BP Energy's 140.8 MW Mehoopany Wind Farm in Wyoming County is online. This facility consists of 88 GE 1.6 MW wind turbines. The electricity generated is sold to Old Dominion Electric Cooperative and Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative Inc. under long-term contracts.
    2. EverPower Wind Holdings' 139.4 MW Twin Ridges Wind Farm in Somerset County is online. This facility consists of 68 REpower MM92 2.05 MW wind turbines.


  • Wind projects in Illinois
  1. Algonquin Power and Utilities Corp's 200 MW Minonk Wind in Woodford County is online. This facility consists of 100 Gamesa 2 MW wind turbines.
  2. Invenergy LLC's 214.4 MW California Ridge Wind in Vermilion County is online. This facility consists of 134 GE 1.6 MW wind turbines. Electricity generated is sold to TVA under long-term contract.
  3. MidAmerican Renewables' 81 MW Bishop Hill II in Henry County is online. This facility consists of 50 GE 1.62 MW wind turbines. The electricity generated is sold to Ameren Illinois under long-term contract.
  • E.ON Group's 200 MW Wildcat Wind Farm I in Madison County, IN is online. This facility consists of 125 GE 1.6 MW wind turbines. The electricity generated is sold to Indiana Michigan Power Company under long-term contract.
  • Alliant Energy Corp's 100 MW Franklin County Wind Farm in Franklin County, IA is online. This facility consists of 60 Vestas 1.65 MW wind turbines. Electricity generated is sold to Alabama Power under long-term contract.
  • DTE Energy Co.'s 110 MW total capacity Michigan Thumb Wind Parks, composed of DTE McKinley Wind, DTE Minden Wind and DTE Sigel Wind in Sanilac and Huron Counties, MI are online. Thumb Wind Parks consist of 69 GE 1.6 MW turbines. Electricity generated is sold to Detroit Edison under long-term contract.
  • Juwi Wind LLC's 31 MW Community Wind South in Nobles County, MN is online. This facility consists of 15 Repower MM92 wind turbines. The electricity generated is sold to Northern States Power Co. under long-term contract.
  • General Electric's 235 MW Chisholm View Wind in Garfield County, OK is online. This facility consists of 140 GE 1.68 MW wind turbines. The electricity generated is sold to Alabama Power under long-term contract.

Mountain West

  • Alliance Power's 67 MW Colorado Highlands Wind in Logan County, CO is online. Highlands Wind consists of 42 GE 1.6 MW turbines. The electricity generated is sold to Tri State Generation and Transmission Association under long-term contract.
  • Wind projects in Idaho:
  1. Exelon Corp's 40 MW High Mesa Wind in Elmore County is online. High Mesa consists of 19 Suzlon 2.1 MW wind turbines. The electricity generated is sold to Idaho Power under long-term contract.
  2. Terna SpA's 88.8 MW total capacity Mountain Air Wind Projects, comprised of Cold Springs Wind Farm, Desert Meadow Wind Farm, Two Ponds Wind Farm and Mainline Wind Farm in Elmore County are online. Mountain Air Wind Parks consist of 40 Siemens 2.2 MW turbines. The electricity generated is sold to Idaho Power under long-term contract.
  • Minnesota Power's 210 MW Bison Wind III expansion project in Oliver County, ND is online. This facility consists of 70 Siemens 3 MW wind turbines. The electricity generated is delivered to Minnesota Power's customers transmitted through the company's DC line from Center, ND to Duluth, MN


  • Algonquin Power and Utilities Corp's 150 MW Senate Wind in Jack County, TX is online. This facility consists of 75 Gamesa 2 MW wind turbines.

West Coast

  • Wind projects in California:
  1. MidAmerican Renewables' 300 MW combined capacity of Pinyon Pines I and II wind projects in Kern County is online. The projects consist of 100 Vestas V-90 3 MW wind turbines. The electricity generated is sold to Southern California Edison under long-term contract.
  2. Riverstone Holdings LLC's 265 MW Ocotillo Express Wind Project in Imperial County is online. This facility consists of 112 Siemens SWT 2.3 wind turbines. Electricity generated is sold to San Diego G&E under long-term contract.
  3. PG&E Corp's 189 MWManzanar Wind in Kern County is online. This facility consists of 126 GE 1.5 wind turbines. Electricity generated is sold to San Diego G&E and Silicon Valley Power under long-term contract.
  4. EDF Group’s 102.5 MW Shiloh IV Wind Project in Solano County is online. This facility consists of 50 REpower Systems AG wind turbines. Electricity generated is sold to Pacific Gas & Electric under long-term contract.
  5. Foundation Wind Power's 3.2 MW Cemex Black Mountain Quarry Wind and 3.2 MW Cemex Victorville Wind in San Bernardino County, 3.2 MW Foundation Nwna Cabazon Project and 2 MW Foundation RRM Cabazon Project in Riverside County, are online.
  • First Wind's 104 MW Palouse Wind Farm in Whitman County, WA is online. This facility consists of 58 Vestas 1.8 MW wind turbines. Electricity generated is sold to Avista Corp under long-term contract.


  • Sempra US Gas & Power and BP Wind Energy's 21 MW Auwahi Wind Project in Maui, HI is online. Auwahi Wind consists of 8 Siemens 2.6 MW wind turbines and an 11 MW battery storage unit capable of storing power generated by the wind turbines to regulate the intermittent wind power. The electricity generated is sold to Maui Electric Co. under long-term contract.

Wind Power Tops In New US Generation Capacity For 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.

Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week Summary & Opening Ceremony Highlights (Including Videos Of Child Speeches & Pictures)

Posted: 18 Jan 2013 04:43 PM PST

The 6th Annual World Future Energy Summit (WFES) and first ever Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW) just wrapped up. With approximately 30,000 participants from 150 countries attending ADSW, including a couple of us from CleanTechnica, the event brought in world leaders of all sorts — queens, princes, presidents, other top policymakers, academic leaders, scientists, business professionals, and more. The presentations and discussions covered pretty much all aspects of the energy sector. As the program guide we received noted, ADSW included the following: 

Policy: World leaders from over 70 countries attended the opening ceremony, which included excellent speakers such as President of France François Hollande and Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan. The opening ceremony also included four very interesting ministerial panels.
Technology: Over 150 keynote and expert speakers in cleantech sectors such as solar power, wind power, microgrids, smart grids, energy storage, geothermal power, hydropower, desalination, and more.
Business: Exhibitions and side presentations from 600 companies. These included startups, medium-sized businesses, and some of the largest corporations in the world.
Investment: For project developers and financiers, ADSW was certainly a place for this sort of networking, as well. The exhibition area even included a “Project & Finance Village,” which was themed "Powering the Future of Cleantech and Renewable Energy Investment."

Included as part of this notable and massive summit was also the International Renewable Energy Conference (IREC). “IREC acts as a common platform for government, private sector and civil society leaders to jointly address the goal of advancing renewable energy and has provided the impulse for several momentous initiatives over the past decade,” organizers noted. It is hosted in different countries every 2 years. It has previously been held in Delhi (2010), Washington, DC (2008), Beijing (2005), and Bonn (2004). Some of the significant issues addressed at this IREC were: 

  • What have been the recent global trends for each of the three goals of Sustainable Energy for All?
  • What are the challenges and opportunities in reaching the goals?
  • Which policies are needed to ensure a smooth transition towards the technical integration of large shares of renewables into energy systems?
  • How can policy design capture macro-economic benefits of renewable energy?
  • What new renewable energy support policies have developed recently? How to overcome the challenges of existing support mechanisms?
  • How is the water-energy nexus perspective best integrated into domestic policies? What can be learnt from existing initiatives with regards to best practice, common barriers?
  • What are the latest Renewable Energy policy developments, best practices and investment opportunities in the GCC, MENA region?
  • What inter-governmental opportunities are there in manufacturing, infrastructure sharing and knowledge sharing?
  • What is the global renewable energy outlook in view of existing economic instability and the range of credible possibilities for renewable energy in the long-term?
  • Energy system transformation and integration, looking at new actors and structures on the energy market.
  • What new financing mechanisms are being put in place to support renewable energy projects during the global economic crisis?
  • What is the role of multi-lateral and national development banks in filling the gap in private sector investment in the wake of the economic crisis and slowed commercial lending?
  • How are utilities responding to integrating renewable energy in their conventional energy mix? 

But that’s not the end!

Also included in Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week were the first ever International Water Summit (IWS), the Zayed Future Energy Prize Awards Ceremony, the 3rd session of the International Renewable Energy Agency's (IRENA) General Assembly, and the 1st Energy Meeting of the Arab League and South American Energy Ministers. Needless to say, we couldn’t attend everything, but we did have a week jam-packed full of wonderful speeches, panel discussions, tours, and interviews. For the rest of this post, I’ll just run down some notable points from the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week opening ceremony. For more posts from our experiences, notable announcements made at the event, and exclusive CleanTechnica content from the week, check out the links on the bottom of this post.

Opening Ceremony

The opening ceremony was reportedly attended by 3,200 delegates. As I think is increasingly the norm with these types of events, a young child — focused on changing the way the world works and protecting the planet — spoke in front of the world leaders in attendance in order to kick things off. Only following a song by a group of Arabic children, the young girl opened the ceremony by speaking about the future in a pessimistic way (to the surprise of most people in attendance, of course), and then turning around 180 degrees (figuratively speaking) and speaking about the same things in an optimistic way. I actually saw a video of this exact same speech about a year ago — it was going somewhat viral, but no one else I talked to had seen it before. Here’s a recording of most of the speech from the opening ceremony (just a little bit cut off at the beginning):

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. (Photo Credit: Zachary Shahan / CleanTechnica)

Crown Prince Abu Dhabi

Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. (Photo Credit: Zachary Shahan / CleanTechnica)

France President

France President Françoise Hollande speaking at opening ceremony of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week. (Photo Credit: Zachary Shahan / CleanTechnica)

Francoise Hollande

France President Françoise Hollande. (Photo Credit: Zachary Shahan / CleanTechnica)

Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and President of France François Hollande kept the ball rolling by giving forceful presentations on the need for renewable energy — the fact that we already have the technology we need today, and  that we simply have to gather the political will to deploy it at the scale needed. This was a theme through many of the speeches and presentations I saw this week. And as you’re well aware, if you’ve been reading CleanTechnica for long, this is one of the key points I try to emphasize whenever I speak to a more general audience. (Note: if you understand French and would like a couple videos of President Hollande speaking that I recorded, let me know in the comments below).

Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber

Masdar CEO Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber speaking about water–energy nexus at opening ceremony of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week. (Photo Credit: Zachary Shahan / CleanTechnica)

Masdar CEO

Masdar CEO Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber speaking about water–energy nexus at opening ceremony of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week. (Photo Credit: Zachary Shahan / CleanTechnica)

Following those two great speakers, the CEO of Masdar, Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, gave an extremely strong talk on the critical interdependency of water and energy, and the fact that we already face a water crisis globally, but that this will only increase in the years to come… unless we work decisively to address it. He noted that water is more important than oil (obvious, but significant coming from a leader in the UAE, the country with the 5th largest supply of oil in the world). Dr. Al Jaber duly noted that the water crisis needed to be addressed in two ways — by reducing demand (through water efficiency measures) and improving water technologies. In particular, Dr. Al Jaber emphasized the fact that about 50% of water demand is currently used for energy needs. Electricity production is one big part of that, and while not noted by Dr. Al Jaber in this particular speech, this is another key reason to choose solar PV and wind power rather than their competitors — because they are, by far, the lowest water users in the electricity production sector. This speech is really worth highlighting, and I was lucky enough to record it, so I intend to create a full article on this one in the coming days.

The President of Argentina, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, followed up with a focus on the need for fair and equitable distribution of energy. She discussed the effort to provide “sustainable energy for all,” universal access to clean energy. Beyond renewable energy, however, she impressed that there will be great demand for fossil fuel energy in order to “improve the lives of millions or billions of people from underdeveloped locations.” It’s actually quite clear, for most who follow climate science, that the use of fossil fuels in developing countries can only (at best) improve the lives of the citizens there for a short time, but that their lives will be threatened by the catastrophes of global warming to an even greater degree if we burn much more in the coming years.

President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner focused repeatedly and heavily on the need for developed countries to advance renewable energy and increase greener industrialization of countries and communities around the world. She also contended that nuclear energy was one of the cleanest and cheapest types of energy, two highly debatable points that CleanTechnica and many others have found to be entirely untrue (unless you are simply focusing on the topic of CO2 emissions). Beyond the issue of nuclear waste, it should be noted that nuclear power plants are not being built or even approved in any location where they aren’t heavily, heavily subsidized by the government (aka, taxpayers) or ratepayers. Apparently, Argentina and France just at the beginning of the week partnered to work on technology transfer for nuclear power in Argentina. It’s ironic, given France’s current focus on reducing its nuclear power share, and the decision from numerous countries to go completely nuclear free — in no small part due to economic reasons, as well as the more obvious nuclear waste issue. It’s unfortunate that Argentina is looking to adopt antiquated and extremely expensive nuclear technology at this moment in time.

Queen of Jordan, Rania Al Abdullah. (Photo courtesy of Masdar.)

The Queen of Jordan, Queen Rania Al Abdullah, gave what many considered the most forceful speech of the night. Focusing on the need to address climate change and the need for much more progress on the provision of reliable and clean energy for all, the Queen was forceful, yet elegant and beautiful at the same time. She garnered the attention of the audience and the urgency of the issues we face probably better than any other speaker.

Given the force and quality messages of Queen Rania Al Abdullah, plus the fact that I recorded a couple videos of the speech, I’m going to dedicate a full article on her speech in the coming days.

The opening ceremony’s final speech was by CEO of Siemens Peter Löscher. It was noted that this was the first time that a member of the business community spoke at the WFES opening ceremony. Siemens is a leader in a handful of clean technologies, warranting its presence on the stage. Nonetheless, there was practically a mass exodus from the audience as he began, and during his speech. It wasn’t clear if this was because he wasn’t a head of state or if it was because he was the last speaker before lunch. But it was certainly odd.

To completely close out the opening ceremony, there was this brief appeal to action from one young girl (I think she was a resident of Abu Dhabi) and an invitation to Abu Dhabi from a few youngsters:

For more content from the week, check out our archive pages for Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, the World Future Energy Summit, and/or the International Renewable Energy Conference.

Full Disclosure: my trip to Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week was funded by Masdar. That said, I was completely free to cover what I wanted throughout the week, and at no point did I feel under pressure to cover specific events, Masdar, or any other corporations in a particular way.

Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week Summary & Opening Ceremony Highlights (Including Videos Of Child Speeches & Pictures) 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.

Next Generation of High Efficiency LED Lights Can Mimic Sunlight

Posted: 18 Jan 2013 05:16 AM PST

The killer combination of ultra high efficiency with warm and fuzzy aesthetics is a bit closer to reality, as researchers at the University of Georgia are on the trail of a new LED (light emitting diode) light bulb that casts a soft white light instead of the characteristic cool blue. If it can be produced commercially, the new light could quickly find a home, well, in homes for one thing, especially in the millions of homes whose occupants have balked at switching over to high-efficiency compact fluorescent light bulbs.

new LEDs can mimic sunlightA Brief Primer on Artificial Light

According to the University of Georgia team, their new LED boasts a color temperature of less than 4,000 kelvins and a color index of 85. Thankfully, the team has provided us with a breakdown of what that means in terms of naturalness.

The kelvin is a unit of measurement of thermodynamics. The base or null point of the Kelvin scale is absolute zero, at which point all thermodynamic activity ceases (the Fahrenheit equivalent of absolute zero in kelvin units is -460 degrees).

Ideally, a nice warm light of about 4,000 kelvins or less is suitable for indoor use. Anything above 5,000 kelvins gives you the bluish tint of the typical LED light.

The other part of the quality index is a scale for judging color rendition, with 80 being close to natural. The farther under 80 you drift, the more unnatural the color appears.

How to Make Your LED Mimic Nature

The research team tackled one of the key obstacles to natural-looking LED lights, which is cost. The current generation of “warm” LEDs is typically achieved by coating a blue LED chip directly with different kinds of phosphors (light emitting materials). The phosphor coating method, however, is expensive and difficult to achieve with consistency.

The Georgia breakthrough consists of a yellowy, luminescent compound made by combining miniscule bits of europium oxide (a rare earth also used in fluorescent lamps, plasma TVs and smart phones) with aluminum oxide, barium oxide and graphite powders.

The powder mixture is vaporized at a temperature of 2,642 degrees Fahrenheit and then deposited on a substrate, where it forms the luminescent compound.

When the compound is placed in a bulb and illuminated by a conventional LED chip, the yellow cancels out the blue and the result is a warm, natural-looking white light.

The team still has a ways to go in terms of stabilizing the production process and ramping up the efficiency of the bulb to match its bluish LED rivals, but the verdict so far is “a very good starting point.”

Notsofast on That Rare Earth

Did your nose start to itch when we mentioned europium oxide? Ours sure did, because in 2011, the price of europium spiked wildly after China imposed a crackdown on illegal mining, sparking fears of a global shortage.

Shortages can also arise when prices fall too low compared to mining and production costs, prompting mining companies to scale back their operations.

Europium oxide is just one of several rare earths and other substances that are critical to the development of a new U.S. energy paradigm based on high-efficiency lighting as well as next-generation solar cells, wind turbines and electric vehicle batteries.

Finding reliable domestic sources or substitutes for critical materials has become a priority for the Obama Administration, which recently established the Critical Materials Institute under the leadership of Ames Laboratory in Iowa.

Part of the new institute’s mission will be to develop new manufacturing, recycling and resource recovery pipelines to promote the more efficient use of critical materials.

Image (cropped): Sunlight by Florencetime

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Next Generation of High Efficiency LED Lights Can Mimic Sunlight 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.

Are Photovoltaics Or Biofuels Better At Energy Conversion?

Posted: 18 Jan 2013 03:00 AM PST

“The energy source for biofuels is the sun, through photosynthesis. The energy source for solar power is also the sun. Which is better?”

This is the question posed by University of California – Santa Barbara Bren School of Environmental Science & Management Professor and life cycle assessments (LCA) expert Roland Geyer.

The premise is simple: in 2005 the US saw corn ethanol as the new wave of powering vehicles while doing the environment and the local economy a wealth of good. Subsequently, 4 billion gallons of renewable fuel were added to the gasoline supply in 2006, which rose to 4.7 billion gallons in 2007 and 7.5 billion in 2012.

Photovoltaics More Efficient and Economical than EthanolProblem is, ethanol isn’t all that great!

Life cycle assessments have shown that corn ethanol has little to no effect on reducing carbon dioxide emissions and may in fact increase them. On top of that, the farmland needed to grow all that corn is encroaching on natural habitats. Considering that in 2010 fuel ethanol consumed 40% of the US corn stocks, and the US is also responsible for 40% of the world’s corn supplies, corn prices have skyrocketed.

Since 2005, we’ve seen the battery electric vehicle (BEV) increase in popularity and efficiency, but charging an electric vehicle from fossil fuels doesn’t make a lot of sense (even though doing so is still much better for the environment than using petrol/gasoline). It would be ideal if we could charge our electric cars using renewable sources, like solar.

Here is where Geyer — and former BrenSchool researcher David Stoms and James Kallaos, of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology — re-enter the picture. They wanted to find out what would be better; corn grown from the sun turned into fuel or electric vehicles charged by the sun.

Even the laxest of CleanTechnica readers would be able to make an educated guess at the result.

According to the research, published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, photovoltaics is a much more efficient option than biomass.

“PV is orders of magnitude more efficient than biofuels pathways in terms of land use – 30, 50, even 200 times more efficient – depending on the specific crop and local conditions,” says Geyer. “You get the same amount of energy using much less land, and PV doesn’t require farm land.”

And when you include recent WWF research that shows that land used for solar panels is being significantly underused, the biomass option seems absurdly outdated.

Geyer and his colleagues set about examining three ways in which sunlight is able to power cars:

  • convert corn or other plants to ethanol
  • convert energy crops into electricity for BEVs rather than producing ethanol
  • using photovoltaics to convert sunlight directly into electricity for BEVs

They then examined five prominent “sun-to-wheels” energy conversion pathways for every county in the contiguous US. These included:

  • ethanol from corn 
  • ethanol from switchgrass
  • electricity from corn
  • electricity from switchgrass
  • photovoltaic electricity 

By focusing the life cycle assessment on three key impacts of electricity generation — direct land use, life cycle greenhouse gas emissions, and fossil fuel requirements — they found that photovoltaic electricity for battery electric vehicles was easily the best option.

“Even the most efficient biomass-based pathway… requires 29 times more land than the PV-based alternative in the same locations,” the authors write. “PV BEV systems also have the lowest life-cycle GHG emissions throughout the U.S. and the lowest fossil fuel inputs, except in locations that have very high hypothetical switchgrass yields of 16 or more tons per hectare.”

What does this mean for the future? “What it says to me is that by continuing to throw money into biofuels, we’re barking up the wrong tree,” Geyer explains.

“That’s because of a fundamental constraint, which is the relative inefficiency of photosynthesis. And we can’t say that right now, biofuels aren’t so great but they’ll be better in five years. That fundamental problem for biofuels will not go away, while solar EVs will just continue to get more efficient and cheaper. If they’re already looking better than biofuels, in five years the gap will be even greater. A search for a silver bullet is under way through ‘synthetic photosynthesis,’ but using genetic engineering to improve the efficiency of photosynthesis is a pipe dream. If there is a silver bullet in energy, I think it’s solar power.”

Taking into account the previously mentioned WWF report — which detailed the fact that if 100% of the planet’s electricity was generated by solar farms the total land use would only amount to less than 1% — Geyer’s faith in photovoltaics is well held.

Putting aside for a moment the tremendous cost currently invested in developing and growing ethanol fuel crops, the other uses to which those funds (and crops) could be put to use, and the unsure science of “clean ethanol,” the reality is that photovoltaic power is turning out to be a more financially and economically efficient option.

Are Photovoltaics Or Biofuels Better At Energy Conversion? 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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