Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Link to CleanTechnica

ICE Energy From Waste Conference

Posted: 29 Jan 2013 12:01 AM PST

Here’s a guest post on an upcoming conference in the UK that looks quite interesting. Have a look and see if you’d like to attend:

The UK doesn't currently have sufficient capacity to process all waste that could be utilised for energy — an estimated 30 million tonnes go unexploited every year and more is exported to Europe. At a time when government is trying to cut carbon emissions and shore up energy supply, it's increasingly crucial that the potential of extracting energy from waste be realised.

The UK Government, major corporations, and international representatives of Energy from Waste (EfW) will be coming together on March 21 in central London to address the barriers to success that plague the industry – planning, community opposition, funding, land capacity, and more. Focused on case studies and key lessons learnt, the senior level discussion is a vital coming together for industry to learn from others, define solutions, enact real change, and maximise the potential of EfW.

The Institution of Civil Engineers is perfectly placed to organise such a forum, drawing on unrivalled access to industry experts and government. Speakers from Defra, the Green Investment Bank, Duchy of Cornwall, British Airways, and Severn Trent are just some of the experts who will be attending the third annual ICE EfW conference.

Peter Jones OBE, former Director of Biffa Waste Services Ltd, author of ecolateral.org and Chair of the past two ICE events, commented that the series "impressed me as an important meeting for the whole industry, it offers unparalleled networking and one of the most informative programmes on the market."

To view the programme and for more information on this influential industry conference visit ice-energyfromwaste.com.

ICE Energy From Waste Conference 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.

Solar Net Metering Equals Net Benefits In California And Vermont

Posted: 28 Jan 2013 02:06 PM PST

Two new reports from California and Vermont show that net metering creates significant net benefits for consumers while strengthening one of the US solar market's strongest drivers of new installations. 

Net metering is essentially a guarantee that utilities will provide their customers a fair retail credit for excess electricity they generate that flows onto the grid instead of into their homes – essentially only billing them for their "net" energy use. 

It's an important affordability factor for owners of small solar installations, especially rooftop systems, which generally push 20-40% of their total output back onto the grid. 43 states have some kind of net metering policy, and even though they have been credited with driving a boom in rooftop solar installations, utilities generally oppose the policy by saying it drives up electricity bills. 

$92 Million Annually for California

A new report finds California will soon see over $92 million in annual benefits to utility ratepayers. The Vote Solar report used an economic model approved by the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) to evaluate the overall economic effect of net metering to ratepayers in Pacific Gas & Electric (PGE), Southern California Edison (SCE), and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDGE). 

Turns out that by the time California's net metering program is fully subscribed at its current cap of 5% non-peak load (around 5.2GW of solar), financial benefits will outweigh costs by $92.2 million every year. These benefits include reducing fossil fuel dependency, less required investments in transmission lines, cost savings from meeting emissions reductions and renewable energy requirements, among others. 

Vote Solar's findings are huge news, considering those three utilities have estimated solar will cost ratepayers $1.3 billion by the end of 2015. Surprisingly, the report claims the majority of solar net metering economic benefits go to ratepayers without rooftop solar, in the form of reduced system demand and overall costs. 

Economic Benefits Spillover To Green Economy

"Net metering is doing what it was designed to do – accelerating solar adoption while reducing our dependence on dangerous fossil fuels and kick-starting one of the most promising job-creating industries of the 21st Century," said Daniel Kammen of the University of California-Berkeley's Energy and Resources Group. 

California's solar industry is booming, with 43,000 green jobs and $10 billion in private investment. Schools and public agencies will see an estimated $2.5 billion in direct savings through net-metered solar systems, and two-thirds of home solar installations now occur in low- and median-income areas.      

Net Metering’s Outsized Effect In Vermont

But while solar net metering is shining brightly in the Sunshine State, it's also creating rays of hope in an unlikely place – Vermont. Currently ranked 17th of all US states in installed solar capacity, net metering is driving rapid expansion of small-scale systems with a net-positive economic impact. 

The Vermont Department of Public Service was tasked by the state legislature to conduct an evaluation of net metering policies across the state's transmission system and retail electricity customers. 

Small Solar = Big Benefits

Even with an average statewide solar incentive of 5.3 cents above residential retail electric rates, the report found net metering will deliver net benefits between 4.3- and 3.3-cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) generated by 4-kilowatt (kW) or 100kW net metered solar systems. Benefits include avoiding costs from transmission across the regional grid, reducing emissions, and lower required system investments. 

Vermont net metering benefits for 4kW solar system

Net metering benefit for 4kW solar system image via Vermont Public Service Commission

While the state's net metering program only produces 1% of all state annual energy demand, solar accounts for 88% of all qualified systems, and 85% of these solar installations are under 10kW — meaning small scale solar is becoming a big part of the Granite State's energy system. 

California Could Lead The Way

So if the benefits of solar net metering are clear — so are the imperatives for keeping this successful policy in place. Solar incentives are falling across California and its net metering program is scheduled to end in January 2015, and programs have been challenged by utilities in many other states.

Considering the ability of net metering to boost clean energy, save money, and reduce emissions, opposing the concept sure seems like a net loss.

Solar Net Metering Equals Net Benefits In California And Vermont 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.

Speeches of Hermann Scheer, Part 1: Lipservice, Excuses, And The Lack of Courage

Posted: 28 Jan 2013 09:58 AM PST

Last week, President Obamas took a few moments during his inauguration speech to address climate change and the need for the US to show leadership in the transition to clean energy. Since the President made some refreshingly clear statements about the most important issues of our time, I am happy that they got alot of attention throughout the media. However, they were vague, and we still have to see to what political action they lead.

To give a better understanding of what meaningful action requires, I want to start sharing some excerpts from speeches given by Hermann Scheer during the past decade.

In case you don’t know who Hermann Scheer is, here’s a little Introduction:

Until his sudden death in 2010 at age 66, Hermann Scheer was one of the leading global voices for a transition to a 100% renewable energy supply. Time Magazine once called him “Hero of the Green Century,” and a German newspaper once labeled him an “uncompromising renewable energy hawk.” As a member of the German parliament, he was a driving force behind most of the country’s renewable energy policies & initiatives since the late 1980s. Among others, this legacy includes the 1999 “100,000 Rooftop Program,” the German Renewable Energy Act of 2000, and the initiative to create the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) between 2008-2009.

But now, here’s a transcript of one of his speeches from 2005 (the remainder of this article, except the last line and the picture, is an extended quote):

The famous philosopher Schopenhauer identified three stages in the implementation of a new solution. At first it is ignored. Secondly, there is strong opposition against it. In the end, former opponents and skeptics turn into supporters of the new initiative.

The state of Renewable Energy development does not confirm this view: nowadays, everybody speaks in favor of Renewable Energies. But at the same time, too many fossil fuel supporters continue their blockades. There are too many lip services paid and too little concrete action.

This situation shows: renewable energies are not really accepted as a priority by a majority of decision-makers in politics and economics.

Numerous excuses are on the table: the expenses will be too high, the technologies aren't ready, the market won't accept renewables; and a lack of consensus does exist.

However, all these so called "arguments" only portray a lack of leadership and a lack of courage to set the right priorities. Forceful, speeding developments require driving forces. No one will become a driving force without courage, consistent concepts, and new alliances.

The reasons of the German success were the following:

1. The Right Concept

The German feed-in-law gave space for independent power supplies, protected them from the interferences of the conventional energy suppliers by creating a special market framework for renewables outside the conventional energy "market" rules. And it was based on guaranteed access to the grid and on guaranteed feed-in-prices. It offered investment security for renewables.

Wherever this concept was introduced, the targeted renewable energies gained momentum. In contrast, wherever an RPS-system was introduced, there was much slower development and — by the way — less cost decline / effectiveness.

The reasons are very obvious: the costs of a project, let's say a wind mill, are not only the costs for the technology, but include the expenses for getting the permissions for installations. Only a few can shoulder these expenses without an investment security, which means without a guarantee for implementation. That means no one can calculate these real costs when he participates in a call for tender. And that is the reason why many projects within a RPS-system are not realized.

2. The Courage To Overrule The Conventional Energy Interests

Conventional energy interests exist everywhere, and are deeply mixed with governments. The initiatives in Germany came from within the Parliament, based on its constitutional duty and legitimacy to act for the common interest and not for special interest.

3. The Mobilization Of The Common People

The general public is the best ally for renewable energies, as soon as the public has recognized that renewable energies work. Therefore, it is a must to enlighten the people about the possibilities and the benefits of renewable energies, and to challenge the will of the people to be responsible for our common future – and to do so by offering an economic incentive in order to overcome social barriers.

We have to promote renewables by creating public confidence in renewables, and by referring to the two main values of the people:

  • individual freedom, by getting energy independency for everybody and not only for a few; and
  • social commitment, which means access to energy without damaging the quality of life of others. This is only possible with renewables.

4. The Establishment Of A New Socio-Economic Alliance

Two strong campaigns against our feed-in tariff law were waged in Germany. We countered these campaigns with two actions in front of the Parliament, carried out not only by the renewable energy associations and the renewable energy protagonists in the Parliament, but also by the economic interest groups who see their own future combined with that of renewables: the farmers associations, the association of small and medium enterprises, the association of machine manufacturers, and the Union of the Workers in the Machine, Electrical Equipment, and Buildings Construction Industry. There never existed such an alliance of different groups in all of history.

- Hermann Scheer on April 23rd 2005 at a WTO Symposium titled “Rethinking the Energy Paradigm”

Speeches of Hermann Scheer, Part 1: Lipservice, Excuses, And The Lack of Courage 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.

Panasonic Commissions 500KW Solar Power Plant At University Of Colorado Boulder

Posted: 28 Jan 2013 08:00 AM PST

Panasonic Eco Solutions North America has executed a 500kW solar PV plant for the University of Colorado Boulder. The system was developed and built by Panasonic with local support from Lighthouse Solar. Financing was provided by a subsidiary of Renewable Social Benefits Fund, which works with Panasonic to finance distributed generation solar projects in the US and US territories.

Ground-mounted solar panel installation at the University of Colorado Boulder (Credit: Panasonic Corporation of North America)

The power plant will help the university meet its targets of increasing the use renewable energy and eventually becoming carbon neutral. The university plans to reduce energy and water consumption, achieve zero waste, and reduce petroleum consumption under the Colorado Governor’s “Greening of the State Government” executive order. The university has pledged to become carbon neutral under the American College and University President Climate Commitment.

Jamie Evans, Director of Project Finance for Panasonic Eco Solutions North America, expects that the university would reap long-term benefits from the new solar power plant.

The University of Colorado Boulder will benefit from this system solution for years to come in long-term energy cost savings and Panasonic is proud to help the university advance its own forward-thinking environmental and sustainability practices. It’s a comprehensive solution of this nature that Panasonic, in partnership with Coronal Management, is also bringing not only to the educational sector but to both the municipal and social minded corporate sectors as well.

The university has been doing well in keeping a cap, and actually reducing its water and electricity consumption over the past few years. Moe Tabrizi, campus Sustainability Director for CU-Boulder, views the power plant as a major milestone in the university’s commitment towards sustainability.

For more than half a century, CU-Boulder has been a leader in climate and energy research, interdisciplinary environmental studies programs and engaging in sustainability and “green” practices both on campus and in the larger world. This project complements and extends our commitment to leveraging solar power throughout our campus to provide power in a low cost and responsible manner.

Between 2001-02 and 2010-11, the total use of potable water has been reduced by almost 50%. Between the 2009-10 and 2010-11, the total use of potable water fell by 2.1%. The water consumption per unit area fell to about a third in 2010-11 compared to 2001-02. The water consumption per unit area has fallen every year between 2001-02 and 2010-11 except for 2007-08 when it showed a minor increase. 

The electricity use in 2010-11, at almost 132 million kWh, is at its highest over the 10 years between 2001-02 and 2010-11. But so has been the money spent on research. Spending on research had reached $381 million in 2010-11. Electricity consumption per unit area has been on a consistent decline since 2001-02 and 2010-11 and has fallen by almost 21% over this period.

Panasonic Commissions 500KW Solar Power Plant At University Of Colorado Boulder 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.

Opower Saves US Residents 2 Terawatt Hours Of Electricity

Posted: 28 Jan 2013 07:00 AM PST

Opower is the world’s leading provider of customer engagement solutions for the utility industry (whatever that means) and last week it announced that it had saved residential energy customers in the United States a total of two terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity nationwide as a result of its behaviour-based efficiency platform.

Want to understand just what two terawatt hours turns out to be? It’s the equivalent of taking a 500,000-people-sized city off the grid for a whole year.

It also equates to $223 million saved on energy bills and 3 billion pounds of CO2 emissions abated (figures which are just continuing to grow on the Opower ticker located top right on its website).

Opower Saves US Residents 2 Terawatt Hours in Electricity

Image Source: Opower via flickr

"Saving two terawatt hours is a significant and exciting milestone for Opower and we share this accomplishment with all our utility partners," said Alex Laskey, Opower president and founder, who made the announcement at the World Economic Forum in Davos. "We achieved this only nine months after reaching one TWh's of energy saved.”

“We're building incredible momentum and to date have put over $220 million back into the pockets of families and businesses. Opower is committed to working with our utility partners to implement effective programs that save customers energy and money, and give homeowners the tools and insights needed to better manage their energy consumption."

So just what does Opower do? Simply put, Opower provides consumers with information on their energy usage, how it compares to other homes, and tips on how to save energy in a customers specific situation. 

Two TWh's of energy is equivalent to:

  • Enough energy to power a city the size of 500,000 people
  • $220 million in bill savings for customers
  • Over 3 billion pounds of CO2 abated

"As we continue to add utility partners in the U.S. and abroad, there is a tremendous opportunity for Opower, and broader energy efficiency programs, to have a massive impact on energy consumption across the globe, and to save families significant amounts of money," said Laskey.

Companies like Opower are only going to become more essential as we move forward. Utility companies will attempt to implement their own similar solutions, but in the long run it will be outside-companies like Opower running for the express purpose of saving people money and minimising electricity usage which will end up helping the most.

Source: Opower

Opower Saves US Residents 2 Terawatt Hours Of Electricity 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.

Drivers Now Have Quick-Charge Coverage From Washington To California

Posted: 28 Jan 2013 07:00 AM PST

Anyone recently wanting to drive their electric vehicle from Washington to California may have been adding a few extra days to their travel to ensure enough time to charge their cars up to full capacity. However, five new quick-charge stations installed along the interstate system now give EV drivers the opportunity to charge up in 30 minutes or less.

West Coast Electric Highway

West Coast Electric Highway
Image Source: West Coast Green Highway

These new quick-charge stations complete the Oregon portion of the West Coast Electric Highway with five new locations:

  • Southeast Portland Burgeville
  • Woodburn Elmer's Restaurant
  • Clackamas Town Center
  • Wilsonville Town Center
  • Shari's Restaurant in Keizer

The West Coat Electric Highway connects British Columbia to Baja, California along the I-5 corridor. When fully completed, the Highway will span 1,300 miles and have public quick-charge stations every 25 to 60 miles.

These five latest charging stations added to the Highway were installed as part of a pilot program led by Portland General Electric (PGE) in an effort to complete the Highway in Oregon, and used Blink DC Fast Chargers manufactured by ECOtality.

"Through the EV Highway pilot, PGE is working with our customers along the interstates who want to host charging stations and charging station manufacturers that want to install them," said Kurt Miller, PGE's director of business model and program development. "These two new stations close the gap between quick-charge stations along the interstate system making the West Coast Green Highway a reality in Oregon."

Level 2 public charging station – Custer I-5, exit 269 – Southbound Custer Safety Rest Area. (Image Source: Washington State Dept of Transportation)

"We are very excited to be partnering with PGE in completing this stretch of the I-5 corridor," said Amy Hillman, ECOtality area manager. "Completing this project is yet another step forward boosting drivers' range confidence and enabling them to use their EV as their primary vehicle, while providing them with the benefits of fast charging that more closely reflects their lifestyle."

The charging stations along the Highway are located at places where you can also grab a cup of coffee, shop, or even grab a meal before continuing on your journey.

Drivers Now Have Quick-Charge Coverage From Washington To California 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.

We’re On Target For Catastrophe, But Clean Energy Technology Is Growing Fast & Ready For Massive Deployment,… But We’re Still On Target For Catastrophe

Posted: 28 Jan 2013 06:05 AM PST

A group of international energy leaders were recently on a panel for “Sustainable Energy for All,” a major UN initiative aimed at making “sustainable energy” available for all people or the world by 2030, at the recent World Future Energy Summit (part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week). The panel was a bit more controversial than most. And, beyond the diversity of perspectives on the panel, just following the panel there was a keynote speech by Jeffrey Sachs that essentially continued the conversation but emphasized an angle that wasn’t discussed much in the panel’s conversation.

Sustainable Energy for All Panel

Sustainable Energy for All panel at 2013 World Future Energy Summit, part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week. Photo Credit: Zachary Shahan / CleanTechnica

Sustainable Energy for All 2013 World Future Energy Summit

Sustainable Energy for All panel and moderator at 2013 World Future Energy Summit, part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week. Photo Credit: Zachary Shahan / CleanTechnica

Early on in the discussion, Adnan Z. Amin, Director General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and occasional contributor to CleanTechnica, gave us some uplifting figures regarding rapid global renewable energy growth in recent years — something I’m sure all of our CleanTechnica readers having a good sense of. (Unfortunately, I was just arriving from another panel or interview, so I didn’t jot down the exciting stats he cited.)

Following Mr Amin’s positive notes, moderator Kandeh Yumkella — Director-General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, Special Representative for Sustainable Energy for All, and chief executive of the Sustainable Energy for All initiative — posed the following question to Achim Steiner of Germany, Executive Director of of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP): On the current track, we’re on pace for 4 degrees of warming (some leading climate scientists would emphasize that’s a low estimate, due to various climate feedbacks) — is current progress enough?

Achim Steiner answering a question on the Sustainable Energy for All panel. Photo Credit: Zachary Shahan / CleanTechnica

Achim Steiner contended that there’s plenty of reason to be positive. We’re not on track to stop global warming, he agreed, but things are changing very fast, fast growth is occurring. There is hope that it can speed up enough to adequately tackle the problem at hand. But the key is that we’ve got a lot of work to do in order to make that happen, he added. Meanwhile, we’ve got billions of people who don’t have grid electricity or don’t have reliable grid electricity. As these places gain this basic good, Mr Steiner emphasized that we need to find ways to make sure that electricity is coming from clean energy resources.

Here’s more from Mr Steiner (paraphrased) when prodded on the challenge of this clean energy revolution, and why it’s currently not happening hast enough:

Everything boils down to economics. Coal/oil were cheap (ignoring externalities). Additionally, people entrenched in these sectors, from their educational training and decades-long professions, have a difficult time shifting — such a large shift takes time.

However, getting back to his optimism, Mr Steiner noted that, 30 years ago, people were saying: an energy transformation in our lifetime is impossible for technological reasons; 20 years ago, an energy transformation in our lifetime was considered impossible for economic reasons; and, today, almost everyone is saying, “we can’t not do this!

Mr Steiner thinks pretty much everyone in the UN deeply believes in the “energy for all” goal, that it really is possible, but he also believes in something else: that we cannot achieve access to energy for those who don’t have it by using the old systems, out-of-date systems. Technology today makes decentralized energy (off-grid and microgrid development) more practical than the systems on which the US and Europe were built.

Furthermore, he noted that a fundamental issue to address in the Sustainable Energy for All initiative is financing. There is too much bureaucracy, too much difficulty getting financing from investors and banks (for projects in Africa, in particular). I also heard this emphasized later in the week by a pioneering microgrid entrepreneur.

Dr Robert Ichord discussing the Sustainable Energy for All initiative at the 2013 World Future Energy Summit, part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week. Photo Credit: Zachary Shahan / CleanTechnica

Dr Robert Ichord, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Transformation in the US, also on the panel, chimed in that we need to develop innovative clean energy financing mechanisms to achieve this goal.

Adnan Z. Amin discussing the Sustainable Energy for All and current clean energy competitiveness at the 2013 World Future Energy Summit, part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week. Photo Credit: Zachary Shahan / CleanTechnica

Adnan Z. Amin of Kenya also emphasized that we need a new way of doing things. He added, a little more specifically, that we need an investment-focused approach rather than a top-down approach, which he says simply won’t work.

In developing countries everywhere in the world, he noted that the results of a recent report show that renewable energy options are cheaper than fossil fuels. The challenge is no longer to bring their costs down, but to break down barriers that make it difficult to access financing, get project approval, and get the cheaper technology in the ground and on people’s roofs. Again, this was a focus of a lot of discussion at a panel on microgrids that I attended later in the week, but nobody seemed to have a clear idea as to how to solve the problem, just that it needed to be solved — hopefully that will soon lead to many innovative solutions and a faster rush of clean energy deployment.

Suleiman Al Herbish talking on the Sustainable Energy for All panel at the 2013 World Future Energy Summit, part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week. Photo Credit: Zachary Shahan / CleanTechnica

Suleiman Al Herbish of Saudi Arabia, current Director-General and Chief Executive Officer of the Vienna-based OPEC Fund for International Development, came into the discussion on a positive note, stating that Saudi Arabia takes its role as a reliable source of oil for the global economy very seriously. It recently announced a renewable energy or low-carbon target of 100%. Mr Al Herbish stated that the country is aimed at the sustainability of that responsibility, as well as environmental sustainability. He added that the country doesn’t just want to acquire solar or other renewable energy from other countries, but wants to develop its own renewable energy industry (including solar energy R&D and its supply chain) — this is similar to Masdar’s cleantech goals, and it is a topic I’ll get into in more depth in a future article.

Notably, Saudi Arabia is investing about $109 billion for solar power, and wants to be 33% powered by solar by 2032. And it recently launched a 3.5MW solar power project within its borders.

However, everyone knows that Saudi Arabia is oil rich, and it wants to cash in on that oil. A bit of a heated discussion between Mr Al Herbish and Mr Amin got going when Mr Al Herbish became quite defensive over Mr Amin’s statement about clean energy being more competitive than fossil fuels everywhere in the world. And there seemed to be a bit of a history of such discussions between those two.

Dr Jeffrey Sachs discussing climate change (in particular, its effects on us today) just following the Sustainable Energy for All panel at the 2013 World Future Energy Summit, part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week. Photo Credit: Zachary Shahan / CleanTechnica

Jeffrey Sachs followed the Sustainable Energy for All panel with his keynote address, which I wrote a post on last week. I’ll just paraphrase that speech once more:

Dr Sachs was watching the above panel while waiting to give his speech, and when he got up to the podium, one of the first things he noted was that the early statements from Mr Amin regarding clean energy growth around the world were nice, but that the growth was far less than adequate (compared to what the world needs to avoid considerable climate change catastrophe).

He noted that we used to think about climate change as a problem of the future, a problem we won’t be subject to. But we’re already experiencing extreme natural disasters related to climate change (disasters which really shouldn’t be considered natural any more). We will continue to face these catastrophes, and our children will face them. This year alone offered a few warning signs. First, the continental US experienced its hottest year on record, breaking 362 all-time heat records and no cold records. Secondly, drought crept across over 60% of the nation, making prices soar for several staple crops in the US and globally, and costing the US billions of dollars. Thirdly, we got slammed with superstorm Sandy. Despite previous warnings, from the Earth Policy Institute that the increased sea levels and greater risk of hurricanes or other large storms resulting from global warming had made serious flooding a key risk New York City, no work was done to make NYC more prepared for such risks or more resilient to potential damage. The result? One of the richest and most advanced cities in the world faced tremendous suffering and a breakdown of its critical systems, with many people even going without power for weeks.

Here’s a (not very high quality) video of much of Dr Sachs’ speech:

All in all, the Sustainable Energy for All panel and Dr Sach’s follow-up keynote speech were very interesting. They provided a good picture of where we are today, where we are going, and how we need to get to the desired future. I hope I was able to convey the key points to you all.

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For more content from CleanTechnica's trip to Abu Dhabi, 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 any specific events or Masdar in any particular way.

We’re On Target For Catastrophe, But Clean Energy Technology Is Growing Fast & Ready For Massive Deployment,… But We’re Still On Target For Catastrophe 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.

Canada’s First Off-Shore Wind Farm Set for B.C.

Posted: 28 Jan 2013 06:00 AM PST

Canada's first off-shore wind farm is taking shape, which is set to boost British Columbia's renewable energy image.

Image Source: NaiKun Map via NaiKun Wind Energy Group

The multiphase project, owned by the NaiKun Wind Energy Group, will consist of 550 square feet kilometres, with a total of 396 megawatts (MW) of energy is set for phase one.

A total of 110 wind turbines are planned, providing British Columbian residents a cleaner alternative, according to the website. This will cut 450,000 tonnes of carbon emissions each year rather than using natural gas, and power 200,000 homes.

Located in Hecate Strait, between Prince Rupert and Haida Gwaii, the NaiKun wind project is giving a much-needed boost to the province’s energy plan of having no carbon emissions come from new energy projects. Meanwhile clean energy, according to the province, accounts for 90% of all energy produced in B.C., which will certainly be given a boost by this new offshore wind farm.

If wind projects continue to sprout up across Canada like this one, wind energy will no doubt continue it's upward trend as a real choice to power Canada's energy needs. In 2012 new Canadian wind projects were expected to increase by 20%, or 1,200 MW and a total of C$2.5 billion in new investments. However, British Columbia was not one of the three top provinces in new wind capacity in 2012. Ontario (2,000MW), Quebec (1,600MW) and Nova Scotia (1,000MW) led the way.

Will B.C.’s new offshore wind farm help catapult a province that is known more for hydro energy than wind? NaiKun Wind Energy Group certainly thinks it can’t hurt.

Main Source: NaiKun Wind Energy Group

Canada's First Off-Shore Wind Farm Set for B.C. was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

Ford, Daimler, & Nissan Promise Affordable Electric Fuel Cell Vehicles

Posted: 28 Jan 2013 05:14 AM PST

Now, here’s a first. Daimler AG, Ford Motor Company and Nissan Motor Co. are pushing ahead with an unusual three-way agreement to develop affordable fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs)for the mass market on three continents. Actually, it’s even more expansive than that since Renault is also included under the Nissan-Renault Alliance. The unique collaborative effort is not only designed to take advantage of the economies of scale involved in a common fuel cell system, it’s also meant to send a “clear signal to suppliers, policymakers and the industry” to jump on the fuel cell band wagon.

ford, daimler and nissan-renault partner on fuel cell vehiclesA Three-Way for Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles

The basic financial reasoning behind the new partnership is that the up-front investment costs of developing the new technology can now be split three ways instead of burdening one company with all the risk.

The project will involve developing a fuel cell stack and related systems that is identical across all three companies, but that will enable each to continue developing “highly differentiated” FCEVs under their own brands.

Each company plans to invest an equal amount, with ambitious plans to launch the first ever affordable, mass market FCEV by 2017.

FCEV’s are Ready for Their Close-Up

On its blog, Daimler points out that the three companies together have accumulated a total of more than 60 years and 10 million kilometers in FCEV research and test drives.

The foundational technology is well established. Rather than storing energy like a battery or burning fuel like a conventional engine, a fuel cell creates electricity through an electro-chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen. The only emission is water vapor.

On its own, a typical fuel cell can’t create enough electricity to power a vehicle, so multiple units have to be assembled into a fuel cell stack.

Arriving at a common configuration for the stack is only one aspect of the challenge faced by the new alliance, and it’s probably the easiest one. The other part of the problem will be to rev up enough investor interest to develop processes for manufacturing mass-marketable, low cost hydrogen and establishing a common, international infrastructure for delivering it.

The End of Battery Electric Vehicles?

Probably not. A 2009 study commissioned by the Department of Energy notes that fuel cells give you greater range for less weight, but there are other vehicle engineering issues involved that might not make fuel cells the best choice for every type of electric vehicle.

Though spokes persons for the three companies are understandably excited about the new alliance, they have also been quick to note that fuel cell technology will complement their battery EV offerings, not replace them.

Meeting the Hydrogen Challenge

Aside from infrastructure issues, the overall greenhouse gas emissions issue for FCEVs has to be overcome, just as it does for EVs. In the U.S., with our heavy reliance on fossil fuels for electricity generation, charging up your EV generally means that your ultimate source of fuel is coal, natural gas or oil. That’s changing, though, as more wind power and solar energy are rapidly coming on line, both for individual charging stations and on the grid.

FCEVs face a similar challenge, and a similar solution. It takes an enormous amount of energy to manufacture hydrogen, so introducing a huge number of FCEVs to the U.S. market right now would have a consequent effect on fossil fuel consumption.

However, the fossil fuel issue is quickly fading away for FCEVs. Over at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, for example, researchers are using a natural protein to develop a new catalyst for low cost, highly efficient hydrogen manufacturing. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab is tackling the same problem from a different angle, using a low cost catalyst based on titanium dioxide.

Then there’s a company called HyperSolar, which has come up with a solar powered hydrogen generator, and a University of Colorado-Denver research project for a microbe-driven process that can treat and desalinate wastewater while creating hydrogen and generating electricity, too.

Image: FCEV by pgegreenenergy

Follow me on Twitter: @TinaMCasey

Ford, Daimler, & Nissan Promise Affordable Electric Fuel Cell 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.

An E-Bike From The Future

Posted: 28 Jan 2013 05:00 AM PST

If you dream it, you can do it. Do you dream of an ebike with retractable storage right between your legs? Done. Do you dream of a bike with a built in lock on the handle bars? Done. Do you dream of a foldable bike that looks sleek? Done. Do you dream of headlights that double as Bluetooth speakers? Done.

Your dream came true when designers took ebike dreaming to a whole new level with the futuristic looking (and functioning) nCycle.

nCycle courtesy of Behance

nCycle is the brainchild of a NYC-based design and development company Behance. The company decided to rethink ebikes by “problem solving from ground up and integrating it into the aesthetics.” And then nCycle was born.

Behance claims that the design of nCycle addresses typical ebike issues of expense, inflexibility, weight, and general hideousness. While the pictures look awfully chic, mum’s the word from Behance on the cost or poundage of nCycle. If we’re honest with ourselves, we know that fancy-pants bicycles (electric or not) cost a pretty penny, so don’t hold out for a bargain-basement price when you start shopping for your very own nCycle.

The nitty-gritty details of the nCycle aren’t available yet, but you can check out the light-weight (at 43.3 lbs) ebike Audi is peddling. If futuristic isn’t your style, there’s always the Faraday Porteur ebike that looks a tad more vintage.

Having nCycle as the ride for an ebike sharing program like the one at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is probably a pipe dream. But don’t go thinking that seeing ebikes zoom around your neighborhood is a pipe dream; this report expects bikes to exceed 47 million by 2018. The question is how many, if any, will be mounting nCycle?

Source: Autoblog Green

An E-Bike From The Future was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

Home Solar On-Air Hangout With SolarCity, 1BOG, & CleanTechnica — Join Us!

Posted: 28 Jan 2013 04:09 AM PST

Dave Llorens of One Block Off The Grid (1BOG) has organized a Google+ “On-Air” Hangout about Home Solar Power — the “first ever” Google+ On-Air Hangout on that topic. Aside from Dave, the discussion will include Jonathan Bass, Senior Director of Communications at SolarCity (which is getting a whole ton of solar power on rooftops across the US); me, your humble CleanTechnica servant; and I think some folks from Veterans United (the nation’s largest dedicated provider of VA Loans).

The hangout is taking place on Wednesday at 1pm EST (10am PST) if you are interested in joining us. (Of course you are!)

If you’re not familiar with Google+ On-Air Hangouts, they’re essentially video chats that allow any Google+ user to join in the chat (up to a limit of 10 people) or to simply watch it. Incidentally, Vice President Joe Biden just participated in one of these a few days ago, and I participated in one with Jeff McIntire-Strasburg of sustainablog on Friday on the topic of electric vehicles.

If you’re interested in home solar power, come join us for this hangout!

Home Solar On-Air Hangout With SolarCity, 1BOG, & CleanTechnica — Join 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.

Geothermal Power Plant Cost Potentially Reduced By 50%

Posted: 28 Jan 2013 04:00 AM PST

Geothermal developers from AltaRock Energy, a Washington state-based company, have been working on creating geothermal reservoirs with their own technology. They have recently made three such reservoirs from a single well, which means there is a greater chance a commercial geothermal plant can be built because with more reservoirs there is greater flow and energy output for each well. With human-made reservoirs expanding the energy output, the overall cost of constructing a geothermal plant could be reduced by 50%.

Newberry site geothermal system. (Image Credit: Alta Rock)

"The purpose of the Newberry EGS project is to demonstrate AltaRock's tne technology designed to lower the cost of EGS, and thus allow economic extraction of heat from the earth in locations where high temperatures can be reached by conventional drilling techniques," said Susan Petty, founder and president of AltaRock. (Source: Fort Mill Times)

These reservoirs are also called stimulated zones or enhanced geothermal systems, and located at the Newberry Enhanced Geothermal System (EGS) Demonstration site, which is near an ancient volcano in Oregon. They are created by injecting cold water into hot, low permeability rock to amplify fractures there, which then allows the surface hot water to leak out and fill the human-made reservoirs. (The Department of Energy has contributed over $20 million to their research.)

The potential costs savings results from the ability to create multiple hot water reservoirs from one well or single site. Alta Rock has made Thermally Degradable Zonal Isolation Materials (TZIM) to help create these multiple zones. A biodegradable polymer was used at the Newberry site in a process that was implemented several times. It is possible to do more than three stimulation rounds at one site for reservoir creation.

If you would like to follow the Newberry project updates, Alta Rock has been publishing a blog.

Geothermal is believed to have large potential because it has a smaller environmental footprint and produces clean energy 24/7, whereas solar and wind power are intermittent sources. Typically, one may think of Iceland as being nearly synonymous with geothermal power, but there is no reason it can’t be developed all over the world, if there are sufficient natural resources for it.

Geothermal Power Plant Cost Potentially Reduced By 50% 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.

Replay: Google On-Air Hangout About Electric Vehicles

Posted: 28 Jan 2013 03:44 AM PST

As noted last Thursday (before the event), I joined Jeff McIntire-Strasburg and some others last week for an “on-air” discussion of electric vehicles (mostly for folks who don’t follow EV news very closely). We also got into some talk about wind power and solar power, naturally. Jeff now has the video of the hangout up on YouTube and posted over on sustainablog, so I’ll repost that right here:

Here was an early summary of the hangout that Jeff posted on Google+ that may also be interesting to you (with added links on some of the things we discussed):

We’re still pulling together some of our links and such (which I’ll add to this post as they become available), but wanted to make sure to give you a heads up on a fantastic Hangout on Air today. +Zachary Shahan of Cleantechnica did a fantastic job of discussing the economic and technological promise of electric vehicles, and +Bill Bright  of Gallup Solar (http://gallupsolar.org/) and Earthship advocate +Jeffrey Rust tossed out some great questions… we went well over our normal 25-30 minutes, but it was a fascinating discussion!

The main news we discussed involved Nissan’s announcement that it was dropping the price of the LEAF significantly: http://cleantechnica.com/2013/01/21/major-drops-in-price-ahead-for-nissan-leaf-and-chevy-volt/

Zach also dug into EV economics, specifically how long it takes to reach a payback point on the higher prices of these vehicles: http://cleantechnica.com/2012/12/06/is-an-electric-car-worth-the-money/

Of course, if you’re a true gearhead, you may want to spend some time at our sister site Gas 2.0: http://gas2.org

UPDATE: And more links to posts mentioned in the Hangout:

The Via Motors truck:



The UCS study on emissions:


The SunPower–Ford & Nissan–Ford partnerships:



Prius owners using their cars for electricity when Sandy hit:


(Note: I think I made an insignificant but incorrect statement about the Chevy Volt at the beginning of the video — regarding when it uses gas. Let me know, and let me know if I messed up on anything else, or if you have any other thoughts.)

Replay: Google On-Air Hangout About Electric 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.

Crowdsourcing Your Bus Wait-Time

Posted: 28 Jan 2013 02:00 AM PST

It’s painfully chilly waiting for the bus in Minnesota these days, which makes even minor delays seem like hours. But knowledge is power and knowing that the bus is one, three or ten minutes delayed helps riders cope with the wait. Since most transit users don’t have ESP, the Moovit crowdsourcing app delivers just what you need to know via passengers already en route.

Moovit dubs itself as “social GPS for public transport” that allows you to choose the fastest and least crowded route based on real time conditions.

We Minnesotans can’t enjoy Moovit just yet, but residents of Boston, Chicago, Washington DC, Baltimore, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, Portland and San Francisco can. Moovit is also available in selected cities in Brazil, Canada, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain.

Other cool crowdsourced maps and apps include this bike map of Moscow or this app for EV charging stations.

Getting what we want and need to know truly takes a village these days, doesn’t it?

Source: Planetizen

Crowdsourcing Your Bus Wait-Time 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.

Cruisin’ Cali Via Public Transport

Posted: 28 Jan 2013 01:00 AM PST

Forget the rental car. If you’re looking to transverse California, check out this comprehensive public transport map on how to get from city to city without getting behind the wheel of a car.

California circa 1880 via Shutterstock

The California Rail Map shows more then 500 destinations, all reachable on the train or connecting by bus or ferry. And one of these days — so long as the money holds out — high speed rail will be available from San Francisco to Sacramento to Los Angeles. Let’s hope that Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is on the money about US efforts to move forward with high-speed rail funding in other states.

Source: Planetizen

Cruisin’ Cali Via Public Transport 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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