Saturday, January 26, 2013

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Link to CleanTechnica

Volkswagen Launches Largest Solar Power Plant

Posted: 26 Jan 2013 12:00 AM PST

Europe’s largest car manufacturer has turned on their largest solar power plant, but it isn’t located in Germany – it’s in Tennessee. The 9.5 MW solar park covers 33 acres near Chattanooga and generates about 13% of the energy used by the Volkswagen plant during production. When manufacturing is not taking place, the photovoltaic (PV) system will provide all the plant’s electricity.

Passat.jpg

This particular plant focuses on building Passats for sale in the United States. About 3,000 people work there, and it was the first auto manufacturing facility to receive LEED Platinum certification. This rating is the highest given by the US Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design green building certification program.

It was earned due to the fact Volkswagen used about 48% recycled materials during construction of the facility. Also, almost 78% of construction and demolition waste was salvaged or recycled. The Chattanooga Passat factory cost one billion dollars to construct.

Volkswagen also uses solar power at their German facilities in Wolfsburg and Emden. Employing clean energy sources is part of a green campaign called Think Blue. "Think Blue is Volkswagen's commitment to reach the highest level of environmental protection and corporate social responsibility in everything we do,” explained Dr. Jan Spies, Head of Factory Planning, Volkswagen AG. (Source: SSOE)

Though the Passat reputation has taken some dings over the years for the sedan’s reliability issues, the 2012 version was selected as the Motor Trend 2012 Car of the Year. This honor may have resulted from Volkswagen gathering specialists from other divisions to focus on resolving manufacturing problems at the Tennessee plant and being successful in their efforts.

The Passat diesel is rated at about 40 mpg on the highway, but one reporter said he achieved over 50 during some drives.

Volkswagen Launches Largest Solar Power Plant 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.

Top Solar Power States (Per Capita)

Posted: 25 Jan 2013 12:21 PM PST

I love rankings as much as the next guy, and as a cleantech fanatic, I especially love the rankings of states, countries, companies, etc. that show who’s leading in solar power or wind power installations. However, what are often more important than absolute figures are relative figures. By looking at who’s leading relative to various important metrics, we can focus in on who has great policies and who has horrible policies (and who has mediocre policies).

Back in 2011 and 2012, I created some relative rankings of countries based on solar power per capita, solar power per GDP, and solar power per TWh of electricity production; as well as relative rankings of countries based on wind power per capita, wind power per GDP, and wind power per TWh of electricity production. However, for a long time, I’ve been wanting to also find data on total solar power capacity per state so that I could see how the different states compare relative to such matters. For various reasons (i.e. I overbook myself day after day), I never got around to asking SEIA or GTM Research for those numbers. Luckily, though, I met and had several good chats with GTM Research solar analyst Scott Burger at Masdar’s Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, and I mentioned this idea to him (and the need for that state data). With great appreciation, he delivered.

So, based on Q3 2012 data from GTM Research and July 2011 data from the US Census Bureau, here are the top solar states per capita (click here to see a much larger version of the bar chart):

Some initial thoughts:

1. My home state of Florida (aka the “Sunshine State”) is pretty freakin’ behind when it comes to installing solar power. Of course, I already knew that, but this is quite sad, given its tremendous solar resources and large population.

2. California, despite being clear in the lead in absolute terms, is only #6 in relation to solar power per resident.

3. As everyone knows, New Jersey is rockin’ it, but Arizona actually has it beat. That’s not a huge surprise — Arizona is one of the first states hitting grid parity — but I did think NJ was going to be #1. I guess there really are a ton of people packed into that small state. (Notably, Arizona just took a big step backwards on the solar front.)

4. Texas, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana… what the heck are you doing? Get some decent solar policies in place and take advantage of your amazing solar resources!

If you’re in Arizona, New Jersey, Hawaii, New Mexico, or Nevada, share the good news with your friends and family!

If you’re in pretty much any other state, share the not-so-good news with your friends and family! And work to improve the solar policies in your state.

If you don’t really care about all this, I don’t know how you made it down this far, but here’s a video of a penguin laughing for your efforts.

And last but not least, don’t forget to go solar.

Top Solar Power States (Per Capita) 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.

Cost Of Electricity From Rooftop Solar By Australian State — Super Competitive!

Posted: 25 Jan 2013 09:32 AM PST

Mediocre Adelaide solar

Electricity from rooftop solar is now very cheap in Australia compared to grid power. But just how much solar electricity costs a household over the life of a system is not an easy question to answer, as it depends on location, the cost of capital, feed-in tariffs, and other factors. As a service to readers, and to keep my parole officer happy, I have spent a lot of time this week crunching numbers to determine the cost of electricity from new rooftop solar for households in the population center of each Australian state. I have intentionally avoided being optimistic in my calculations and locked my rose-tinted glasses away in order to determine the cost of electricity from a mediocre solar installation. That is, one that is far from perfect, but assumes that people aren’t stupid enough to do things such as install the solar panels in permanent shade or upside down.

In order to determine the cost of rooftop solar electricity, I took into account the factors detailed below. All costs are in Australian dollars, but if you prefer US dollars, don’t worry, the two are very similar. If you want the precise amount in greenbacks, just add 5%.

The Cost of Solar (Solar $/watt): I have used the latest available figures on the average cost of solar in each Australian state, which are from December, and I used the cost of three kilowatt systems, as they are currently the most commonly installed size. Their average installed cost was $2.06 a watt. Without our Goods and Services Tax and Renewable Energy Certificates, they would cost households about 15% more.

The Cost of Money: Generally speaking, someone who owns a house roof in Australia can borrow money at about 6.25% or less, so I will use that figure for the cost of capital. If someone wanted to pay for a system with a credit card, a basic one can have an interest rate of 11.8%.

The Cost of Grid Electricity (Grid cents/kWh): Australians now pay an average of about 27.5 cents a kilowatt-hour for electricity, with considerable variation between regions. Determining what people actually pay in an area is difficult, as electricity retailers can be deliberately confusing. Personally, I’ve had four different retailers tell me that they are the cheapest in my area. Obviously, at least three of them are lying. For comparison purposes, I’ve provided the cost of grid electricity in different regions, and because of the intentional confusion, it is possible the figures may be slightly too high, and so, unfair to electricity retailers, but as far as I am concerned, electricity retailers can bite my not at all shiny and only slightly metallic arse.

Insolation: The amount of sunshine in Australia varies depending on location. Checking out a solar map of Tasmania, I see the place is quite shady by Australian standards, while Queensland is of course the Sunshine State, and Western Australia is the world’s largest oven. I have used a figure that is typical for where the bulk of a state’s population lives, and not a sun-blasted outback location where clouds are so rare that young children flee from them in terror.

Efficiency: It’s quite common for people’s roofs to not be optimally aligned for collecting solar power. Usually, the easiest solution to this problem is to use a slightly larger system rather than attempt to rotate or tilt the house. Australian solar averages around 80% of what it would produce if the panels were perfectly aligned, so this is the figure I’ve used even though it is brought down by the occasional stupid installation, such as under trees or facing south in the southern hemisphere.

Electricity Export: Very few Australians use all the electricity produced by their solar systems and normally export some to the grid. Just how much is exported mostly depends on the size of a system compared to total electricity use and whether or not people are home during the day. For everyone except Tasmanians (because they’re special), the higher the portion of solar electricity exported, the higher the cost of rooftop solar. I have assumed that 50% of the electricity generated by rooftop solar is exported. Just how much this electricity is worth depends on the feed-in tariff.

Feed-in Tariffs (FiT cents/kWh): These have a huge effect on the cost of solar electricity and vary from state to state, and can also vary within states. Just to make things nice and confusing, it’s possible for neighbours to have different feed-in tariffs. In Tasmania, a kilowatt-hour exported is worth the same as a kilowatt-hour bought from the grid, while in other states, feed-in tariffs can range from over 23 cents per kilowatt-hour down to 8 cents a kilowatt-hour or less. For my calculations, I have used the lowest feed-in tariff that applies to a large portion of a state’s population.

System Life and Maintenance: Rooftop solar lasts a long time and doesn’t need much in the way of maintenance. A 10-year warranty for inverters and a 25-year warranty for solar panels is the industry standard. So, if something goes wrong in the first 10 years, the homeowner shouldn’t be out of pocket, and for at least the next 15 years after that, it’s only the inverter that might require money to replace. I’ve allowed $25 a year per kilowatt of capacity to cover inverter replacement and any other maintenance that might be required. I think this is too much given how cheap and reliable inverters are likely to become in the future, but I’ve decided to err on the side of depressing miserableness. I’ve assumed the lifespan of rooftop solar is 30 years. I think it can be relied upon to last longer than this, but 30 years is already longer than a considerable number of Australian houses will last, so it will do.

The cost of rooftop solar to households in cents per kilowatt-hour is shown below for the capital city of each state:

As can be seen, throughout Australia, rooftop solar is cheaper than grid electricity, and in four states, it is less than half the cost of grid power. Due to cloudy skies, a low feed-in tariff, and relatively low grid electricity prices, Melbourne’s solar electricity cost is only about 20% less than the price of grid power. Hobart has the second cheapest solar electricity despite being less sunny than Melbourne, thanks to a high feed-in tariff, while Adelaide is the runaway winner because of a high feed-in tariff, high electricity costs, and sunny dispositions all round.

Recently in Australia, games of Kick the Support for Solar have been popular in State Parliaments, and there have even been surprise rounds played at the Federal level. While I’m confident that South Australia’s and Tasmania’s feed-in tariffs are safe for now, if they were reduced to the low 8 cents a kilowatt-hour often seen in other states, the cost of solar electricity per kilowatt-hour would be 14.5 cents in Adelaide and 18.5 cents in Hobart.

I have assumed that the lifespan of rooftop solar is 30 years. However, some people may be considering putting solar on an older house that might not last that long or on a beach house that might only have a decade or two before the ocean eats it. For these people, I’ve worked out what the cost of solar would be per kilowatt-hour if the system only had a lifespan of 15 years:

So even with its lifespan cut in half, rooftop solar is still cheaper than grid electricity in most states, about the same in Brisbane, and only more expensive in Melbourne. In Adelaide, it is still below half the cost of grid electricity.

Although it has been a bone of contention for centuries now, many philosophers (some of them called Bruce) agree that Australians have free will and so are not bound to pay the average price of rooftop solar in their state, but are free to shop around and buy the cheapest available if they wish to do so. Looking at newspaper advertisements this month, I see that the cheapest systems are around one third less than the average cost. So, electricity from a low-cost installation that is two-thirds the average price would cost:

So, for a low-cost installation, solar electricity is around half the cost of grid electricity or less in all state capitals and astoundingly cheap in South Australia.

And for my final trick, I will determine the cost of solar electricity from a low-cost installation if it is bought by credit card:

So, even if it’s purchased by credit card, rooftop solar can still produce electricity at below the cost of grid power throughout Australia, and in Adelaide it is less than one third the cost of grid power. That’s pretty impressive.

Cost Of Electricity From Rooftop Solar By Australian State — Super Competitive! 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.

IKEA Planning To Double Its Investment In Renewable Energy By 2020

Posted: 25 Jan 2013 07:43 AM PST

The world's largest furniture retailer, the IKEA group, recently revealed its plans to greatly increase its investment in renewable energy. It is planning to double its current investment by 2020, bringing the total up to $4 billion dollars, and receiving 100% of the energy consumed at its stores and by its subcontractors from renewable sources by the same date.
20130125-034704.jpg

The decision was made, in part, as a way to reduce costs, helping the company to remain affordable into the future. IKEA’s CEO, Mikael Ohlsson, stated in an interview that the projects will be a necessity if the company continues its fast rate of expansion.

"I foresee we'll continue to increase our investments in renewable energy," said Ohlsson. "Looking at how quickly we're expanding and our value chain, we will most likely have to double the investments once more after 2015."

Currently, IKEA owns a quarter of a million solar panels, and 126 wind turbines, covering 34% of its energy consumption.

The company has also been working to expand its range of energy efficiency, lighting, and water-use efficiency products, while also “testing out some solar solutions for customers in the U.K.”

This is a welcome development. Just last year, IKEA announced its plan to sell only LED lights by 2016, and to receive 70-80% of its power from renewable energy sources by 2015. Though its reasoning for doing this is, as noted above, mostly because it’s good business and will save the company money, it is still a positive development. It will hopefully serve as a wakeup call to other large corporations, showing that not only are renewables cost-competetive, but they will very likely save you significant money.

Source: Bloomberg
Image Credits: IKEA Group

IKEA Planning To Double Its Investment In Renewable Energy By 2020 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 “Rock Candy” Silicon Could Make Ultra-Cheap Solar Power Even Cheaper

Posted: 25 Jan 2013 05:12 AM PST

Researchers at the University of Michigan have come up with a low-cost way to manufacture high-grade silicon, based on a concept familiar to anyone who has tried to make rock candy at home. If the breakthrough can be translated into a commercially viable process, it would make ultra-cheap solar tech like V3Solar’s Spin Cell (which we were just raving about the other day) even cheaper.

Ironically, funding for the research project came from the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund, but maybe they know something we don’t.

U Mich researchers make low cost silicon for low cost solar cellsCooking Up a Batch of Low-Cost Silicon

Silicon is the key component of conventional solar cells. It comes from silicon dioxide, aka sand, which is one of the cheapest and most abundant materials on Earth, but converting sand into high grade silicon is a high cost, energy intensive process with a pretty significant carbon footprint.

As described by U Mich writer Kate McAlpine, the new process works at just 180 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a far cry from the 2,000 degrees needed for conventional silicon manufacturing.

The method basically consists of covering a liquid gallium electrode (gallium is a soft whitish metal that has a melting point around room temperature) with a layer of a solution based on silicon tetrachloride (a colorless, flammable liquid).

As in conventional silicon processing, electrons from the metal convert the silicon tetrachloride into raw silicon. The new twist is that by using soft metal with a low melting point, the research team was able to get the raw silicon to form crystals without exposing the solution to additional heat.

A Ways to Go for Low Cost Silicon

The team has observed films of silicon crystals forming on the liquid gallium electrodes, but so far the individual crystals are only about 1/2000th (yes that’s 1/2000th) of a millimeter in diameter.

There is still a long way to go before the process jumps from the lab into commercial viability, and the next steps include experimenting with other metal alloys that have low melting points.

Meanwhile, other routes to low-cost silicon based solar power are at or near commercial development, and they could go even lower if the U Mich research pans out.

One approach, illustrated by the aforementioned V3Solar Spin Cell (which by the way began life as Solarphasec), is to squeeze more power out of conventional solar cells by reconfiguring the solar module.

The Spin Cell reboots the typical flat solar panel into a 3-D cone. Along similar lines, MIT researchers have come up with a solar “tower of power” that takes advantage of 3-D angles.

The 3-D concept can also be internalized, as demonstrated by a company called (what else) Solar3D.

On a completely different note, the Obama Administration is also focusing on lowering the “soft costs” of solar power, which typically account for half the cost of a completed solar installation.

The Petroleum Research Fund

Well, here’s hoping. In any case, the really interesting part of the story is the involvement of the Petroleum Research Fund, which states at the top of its home page that its mission is to support “fundamental research directly related to petroleum or fossil fuels.”

In its vision statement following that declaration, the Fund waxes a little more expansive, describing itself as dedicated to “significantly increasing the world's energy options," though directly after the following note appears: “Proposals will no longer be considered in solar power, which includes photovoltaics and solar cells.”

Apparently the U Mich project got in under the wire, but it shouldn’t be surprising that a grant-making organization with roots in the petroleum industry was at least once open to solar power research.


Solar power has long been used as an economical way to provide energy to remote oil fields, where grid connections would be difficult if not impossible.

Given the energy intensity of harvesting unconventional oil, most notably from Canada’s tar sands, low-cost power in any form would be a welcome development for the petroleum industry.

Image: Rock candy by stevendepolo

Folllow me on Twitter: @TinaMCasey

New “Rock Candy” Silicon Could Make Ultra-Cheap Solar Power Even Cheaper 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.

SolarCity & Shea Homes Celebrate SheaXero

Posted: 25 Jan 2013 05:00 AM PST

Recently, SolarCity celebrated the one year anniversary of Sheaxero, which is helping home owners to save on money and the planet.

In a partnership with Shea Homes to create the "no electric bill home," the program is giving owners of 517 homes in five states — Nevada, Arizona, California, Washington, and Florida — a big opportunity to save some real money. According to the press release, home owners will see savings around $500,000 per year, or $10 million over a twenty year period.

Besides homeowners saving their hard earned cash, this initiative is also saving the planet. Thanks to SolarCity building a solar-system into the price of the homes — along with some energy efficiency features — a total of 39.4 million cubic feet of carbon emissions is being reduced by these homes.

"We broke new ground when we offered SheaXero as a lifestyle to homeowners in different states," said Shea Homes Active Lifestyle Communities president Rick Andreen. "SheaXero homeowners can experience energy savings from the very first day they move into their homes and we look forward to offering SheaXero to more homebuyers.”

Net-zero emission housing continues to gain traction. SolarCity this week is showcasing a net zero home created by Blue Heron at the International Builders Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. Meanwhile, other net-zero projects have been popping up across the US — including: Philadelphia and Brooklyn, New York – giving rise to this new model of housing.

As prices continue to fall for solar panels, don't be surprised to see more net-zero housing project continue to show up across the US — including lower-income areas — as solar starts becoming an attractive option for builders looking to build new affordable housing units that are environmentally sustainable.

SolarCity & Shea Homes Celebrate SheaXero 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.

Shenzen Police Department Adding 500 BYD e6 Vehicles

Posted: 25 Jan 2013 04:00 AM PST

BYD, China's electric car manufacturer has won a bid to provide its fleet of e6 electric vehicles to the Shenzen police department in China.

The purchase of BYD's fleet of vehicles in Shenzen is just a part of a broader movement towards sustainable transportation in China, as the country aims for five million electric vehicles on the road by 2020, according to Autoblog Green.

Meanwhile, BYD is helping the southern Chinese city in its on-going quest to electrify its fleet. It also provided 200 buses, 300 taxis, and plans to add an additional 500 each of electric buses and taxis in the future.

Within the past year, BYD has continued to grow its market share, primarily in emerging market countries. Last summer, the company gained a foothold in Uruguay, providing 500 electric buses, as they move towards clean technology.  Bogota, Colombia, known as one of the top sustainable cities thanks to its public transportation system, signed up for 46 e6 vehicles to boost its taxi fleet.

BYD Helping to Move Chinese Cleantech Brands Up the Global Ladder

As BYD continues to expand and gain a foothold in the global economy, its not the only clean-tech brand from China to move up the ladder for global dominance. Earlier this month, Chinese solar manufacturer Yingli Green Energy jumped past other companies to become the top solar manufacturing company in the world.

As prices of EV batteries continues to drop there is lots of potential for BYD to not only further its foothold globally, but be a true leader in helping to boost sustainable transportation options in emerging market countries that are looking to leapfrog past fossil fuel based modes of transport.

Shenzen Police Department Adding 500 BYD e6 Vehicles 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.

Toronto Doctors Argue Bike Lanes Save Lives

Posted: 25 Jan 2013 03:00 AM PST

Most health professionals agree that cycling is good for health, but Toronto doctors are going a step further and arguing that bike lanes save lives. Dr. Tomislav Svoboda has released an open letter asking the Toronto city council to save lives by installing more bike lanes.

Bike lane via Shutterstock

This isn’t the first time Svoboda has been vocal about his opposition to city officials’ lack of cycling support. The good doctor has an arrest record for civil disobedience from a November 2012 kerfuffle over the removal of Jarvis Street bike lanes.

Two weeks ago Svoboda held a press conference explaining how increasing bike lanes can save lives, referencing the six cycling fatalities in Toronto in 2012 as well as the benefits of biking as exercise. On CleanTechnica we’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: the benefits of biking include saving money, reducing air pollutionlosing weight, repairing the brain.

Dr. Svoboda is not the first medicine man to push city officials to support biking initiatives. In 2010, more than 150 medical professionals sent a letter to New York City Mayor Bloomberg urging for pedestrian and bicycling safety improvements.

Source: Planetizen

Toronto Doctors Argue Bike Lanes Save Lives 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.

Up And Coming Solar PV Innovators Aim To Grow Markets, Drive Costs Even Lower

Posted: 25 Jan 2013 02:00 AM PST

Industry players and the Department of Energy’s renewable energy initiatives are focusing in on the soft costs of having solar photovoltaic (PV) power systems installed given the sharp drops in cost of solar PV equipment experienced in recent years; soft costs such as permitting, installation, and operations and maintenance.

That by no means implies that equipment cost reductions have reached their limit, or that entrepreneurial start-ups and large and established solar PV equipment suppliers are slackening the pace of innovation.

Two young California solar PV companies adding momentum to the solar PV innovation and equipment cost reduction drive made business news headlines this week. Sunnyvale-based Alta Devices produces the thinnest, highest efficiency flexible thin-film PV cells on the market, while Santa Clara’s Crystal Solar is commercializing a vapor deposition process that holds out the promise of cutting cost of fabricating solar PV cells in half.

Graphic credit: Crystal Solar

Silicon PV Innovation: Making Solar Energy Yet More Affordable, and Commonplace

Prices for PV modules dropped between 30% and 41% in the year to September 2012 and between 51% and 64% for the two years to September 2012 in Europe depending on the technology and source, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency’s (IRENA) "Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2012" report

IRENA analysts expect further equipment cost reductions out to 2020, a development that will further enhance the affordability of solar power. The rate of decline for solar PV out to 2020 will likely be slower than that of recent years, however. That may well prove to be too conservative a judgment.

Founded in 2008 by professors Harry Atwater of Cal Tech and Eli Yabonovitch of Berkeley, Alta Devices produces the solar energy industry’s thinnest and most efficient thin-film PV cells. This mobile power technology can be integrated in an increasingly wide range of products—from special purpose and mobile consumer electronic devices to clothing accessories.

"This technology significantly extends the battery life of any application, in many cases eliminating the need to recharge from the grid because it converts more light into electricity. This provides the ultimate in portability," Alta states on its website.

CEO Christopher Norris said management expects military applications to account for around 80% of revenue in 2013. Looking forward, Alta sees the market for solar-powered mobile phones and consumer electronic devices growing to become a $20 billion market through 2016, according to a Bloomberg News report.

Cutting Silicon PV Costs in Half

Santa Clara-based Crystal Solar has developed a vapor deposition process for fabricating solar silicon wafers that serve as the substrate for PV cells. Its "Direct Gas to Wafer" technology eliminates two entire steps in the conventional fabrication process – fabrication of polysilicon and production of polysilicon ingots – producing solar silicon wafers directly from the application of silane gas to metallurgical silicon.

This innovative process "wastes less silicon during processing than conventional approaches and greatly reduces the amount of equipment needed to make the wafers, potentially cutting wafer costs in half," according to an MIT Technology Review report. "Wafers account for a third to a half of the cost of making a solar panel."

South Korea’s Hanwha, an integrated solar PV supplier that’s been expanding its presence along the global value chain amid recent ructions in the industry, in September announced that it was making a $15 million strategic investment in Crystal Solar.

On January 21, Dow Corning, one of the world’s largest producers of solar silicon, announced that it is partnering with Crystal Solar in a venture to supply high-performance, silicon-based materials for photovoltaic (PV) cells and modules.

"The two companies also intend to assess options for developing high-performance building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) solutions for building and construction, focusing on both commerical and residential applications," according to a Dow Corning press release.

Up And Coming Solar PV Innovators Aim To Grow Markets, Drive Costs Even Lower 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.

Has Europe Attained “Peak-Car” Status?

Posted: 25 Jan 2013 01:00 AM PST

Europe appears to be exhibiting a phenomenon dubbed as “car-peak” by Morgan Stanley researchers. This phenomenon is the decline of car usage, which can also cause a decline in car demand.

There are multiple possible causes for such decline, including culture changes, high gasoline prices, economic hardship, increased environmental awareness, population decline, and severe traffic congestion.

As for causes that may apply specifically to Europe:

There has been population decline in Europe, high gasoline prices, increased environmental awareness, and in certain areas — such as London – severe traffic congestion.

Environmental awareness has increased in many parts of Europe, including Germany, the United Kingdom, Sweden, and other countries.

Increased environmental awareness does encourage some people to drive less, and travel by foot, bicycle, or public transit more often.

In 2007, 16 million cars were registered in the European Union, however, that many registrations is unlikely to happen again, and may instead drop down to 11 million registrations, which is equivalent to that of 1993 before the number of registrations stabilizes.

Source: Wall Street Journal

Has Europe Attained “Peak-Car” Status? 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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