Friday, February 1, 2013

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

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Wind Energy Hits Over 30% Of Denmark’s Electricity Consumption At End Of 2012

Posted: 01 Feb 2013 12:10 AM PST

The big wind news of the past year that we keep trumpeting is that US wind power accounted for more new US power capacity in 2012 than coal (which actually declined), natural gas, nuclear, solar, or anything else. It made up 42% of new power capacity additions in the US last year.

But another huge wind power stat from Denmark is also worthy of a trumpet or two. Wind provided enough electricity for over 30% of Denmark’s electricity consumption by the end of 2012. That’s actually a much bigger deal than it may sound if you aren’t familiar with the nuances of this market sector. While the 42% of new capacity figure above is pretty impressive, that’s just new capacity, not total capacity. Furthermore, wind is more variable than conventional power options, so a lower percentage of its capacity is utilized throughout the year. Wind still accounts for just 3–4% of electricity production in the US, and the target is to hit 20% by 2030. So, with that context, I think you can see that Denmark’s figure is very impressive. Pull out your trumpet!

And this isn’t the end of the line for Denmark. The Scandinavian country has actually set a goal to get 50% of its electricity needs from wind power by 2020 (it appears to be well on its way there), and is aiming for 100% renewable energy by 2050.

“The share of 30% wind energy in the electricity consumption is an increase of approx. 2 percentage points compared to 2011. The increase is based on some 170 MW of new capacity built on land and more than 50 MW at sea. At sea, it comes from wind turbines connected to the Anholt Offshore Wind Farm and onshore some 20% comes from Kalundborg Municipality, where 36 MW were installed last year,” the Danish Wind Industry Association wrote on January 31, 2013 (thanks to one of our readers for passing along the information).

“An increase of 2 percentage points may not sound as much, but it is in line with what we expect to reach the official target of 50% in 2020. We will see a slightly larger jump in 2013, when Anholt completed and there will again be some jumps when we connect the next big wind farms and near-shore turbines in 2017-2020,” says chief economist at the Danish Wind Industry Association, Sune Strøm.

The Danish Wind Industry Association’s article on the news adds: “Anholt Offshore Wind Farm will be completed at the end of 2013 and by the time the park’s 400 MW will provide 4% of the Danish electricity consumption. In addition, the planning process has started for Horns Rev III of 400 MW, Krieger’s Flak of 600 MW and the near-shore turbines which will have a combined capacity of 500 MW, of which 50 MW will be test turbines.” [sic]

The new data on wind’s share of electricity consumption come from the Danish Energy Agency’s wind register.

Wind Energy Hits Over 30% Of Denmark’s Electricity Consumption At End Of 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.

Official: US Wind Power Accounted For 42% Of New Power Capacity In 2012, Beat Natural Gas

Posted: 31 Jan 2013 04:48 PM PST

2012 proved to be a record-setting year for the US wind power industry. More than 13 gigawatts (GW) of wind power capacity was installed across the country last year, with a record-breaking 8,380 megawatts (MW) installed in the fourth quarter (4Q) alone, according to the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) 4Q industry report.

Leveraging private sector investment of $25 billion, utility-scale wind turbines were installed in 26 states and Puerto Rico in 2012.

Cumulative wind power generation capacity totaled 60,007 GW as of year-end 2012, with turbines up and producing clean, renewable electrical power in 39 states and Puerto Rico. The 60 GW milestone was breached just five months after AWEA announced cumulative US wind power capacity had reached 50 GW.

2012: A Remarkable Year for US Wind Power

The more than 60 GW rated capacity of installed US wind power generation is enough to supply the equivalent of nearly 15 million US homes – all those in Colorado, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, and Ohio combined — with electricity, AWEA announced at a January 30 press conference in Washington, D.C.

2012 marks another milestone for US wind power: more wind power capacity was installed in the US last year than that from any other source for the first time, with wind power accounting for 42% of total new generation capacity installed, the AWEA highlighted. Texas, California, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Illinois led the nation in new wind power capacity installation for 2012.

2012′s total capacity of 13,124 MW of new wind power far exceeds that of the previous annual record, the 10,000 MW installed in 2010.

AWEA interim CEO Rob Gramlich highlighted the multiple, cross-cutting benefits wind power is yielding across US society in a year when the key federal production tax credit (PTC) seemed doomed to expire (the wind energy PTC was extended for another year at the last minute as part of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, the compromise legislative package that avoided the US government going over the so-called "fiscal cliff"):

It is a real testament to American innovation and hard work that for the first time ever a renewable energy source was number one in new capacity. We are thrilled to mark this major milestone in the nation’s progress toward a cleaner energy system.

What is just as striking as the new records is the expansion of new customers. A total of 66 utilities bought or owned wind power in 2012, up from 42 in 2011. We are also seeing growth in new customers in the industrial and commercial sectors purchasing or owning wind energy directly.

The fact that wind power grew by another 28 percent in 2012 alone and poured $25 billion of private investment into the U.S. last year demonstrates wind's ability to scale up, and continue to serve as a leading source of energy in America.

The benefits extend to the environment, included that politically dreaded term climate change, as well as the economy. "Currently installed wind power will avoid 95.9 million metric tons a year of carbon dioxide emissions, equal to 1.8% of the entire country's carbon emissions," according to AWEA.

AWEA expects to release its full-year wind industry report in April. The following is the industry association’s top 10 list of US states in terms of newly installed wind power capacity for 2012:

1. Texas (1,826 MW)
2. California (1,656 MW)
3. Kansas (1,440 MW)
4. Oklahoma (1,127 MW)
5. Illinois (823 MW)
6. Iowa (814 MW)
7. Oregon (640 MW)
8. Michigan (611 MW)
9. Pennsylvania (550 MW)
10. Colorado (496 MW)

Source: AWEA

Official: US Wind Power Accounted For 42% Of New Power Capacity In 2012, Beat Natural Gas 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.

Big Gas & Big Solar Are Big Friends, + More From Sustainable Energy In America 2013 Factbook Discussion

Posted: 31 Jan 2013 03:07 PM PST

Earlier today, I joined the conference call for the release of the Sustainable Energy in America 2013 Factbook, a product of Bloomberg New Energy Finance and commissioned by the Business Council for Sustainable Energy. There wasn’t any breaking new info presented, but some of the most salient clean energy and natural gas facts of recent years were highlighted. In the post below are what I think are some of the key ones. However, before getting into the fun statistics, something else not related to stats really stood out during this press event: Big Solar and Big Gas seem to have formed a rather close and mutually congratulatory relationship.

Natural Gas & Solar

Dave McCurdy, President and CEO of the American Gas Association, and Rhone Resch, President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), were each on the panel presenting the data, so one would expect a greater diplomacy between potentially competing industries. However, it wasn’t just diplomacy present at the meeting today — Mr Resch and others on the panel spoke in a surprisingly friendly way about natural gas (which is certainly not the cleanest energy option), even in their presentations on renewable energy matters. Throughout the conference call, Mr Resch and others seemed to steer clear of the term “clean energy,” but the implications were that natural gas was on the clean side of the table.

Mr Resch noted that natural gas and renewable energy together “probably made up 98% of new capacity” in the past few years. And he focused on the benefits of distributed generation (which does include natural gas) about as much as those of solar power itself. He pointed out that distributed generation options allow us to build where demand is greatest and help to stabilize grid; and that ” it’s not just clean energy, not just affordable energy, but a new type of generation.” Of course, we’re huge fans of distributed generation here on CleanTechnica, and I was happy to see that emphasized, but it seemed a bit odd that natural gas was being propped up so much in this discussion, and that Mr Resch went out of his way to be so inclusive of natural gas.

In the Q&A session, another person on the call posed a question about the “natural gas bridge,” asking if Mr Resch really saw it as a bridge (as it is widely reported) or if that was just an overly optimistic way of talking about the fossil fuel’s market growth that hides the fact that it is becoming an increasingly entrenched part of our energy mix (rather than a temporary energy source). Furthermore, if Mr Resch saw it as a bridge, the questioner asked when he saw us reaching the other side of that bridge and cutting its use.

Mr Resch said outright that he saw it as “a very long bridge” to a renewable energy future, and then he focused on the ways in which natural gas complements wind and solar energy, filling in well for their variability (I didn’t hear a single mention of energy storage in this whole conference call). As he did earlier in his presentation, Mr Resch also happily emphasized the huge supply of natural gas the US is known to have. Though, he did note that renewables were going to keep making up a bigger and bigger percentage of the energy mix. Regarding when “renewable energy would take over” and the bridge would be completed, he was hesitant to make any strong statements, but he speculated that it could happen in 30 years or so. (Not all that uplifting for those of us concerned about runaway climate change.)

Interestingly, when I went over to Rhone Resch’s SEIA page to include a link on his name above, I discovered something that I don’t remember noticing before — he previously served as the Vice President for the Natural Gas Supply Association! So, clearly, he was more than just playing nice in this presentation — he has a long history with natural gas, and he likely has a genuine belief that it has benefits worth trumpeting.

It also seemed that he and Dave McCurdy might be teaming up more in coming months to co-promote solar and natural gas. There were either hints along those lines or dry jokes that sounded like hints.

But it wasn’t just Mr Resch and Mr McCurdy who focused on natural gas. In fact, in the follow-up email I received from the PR team for the call, this was emphasized in bold right at the beginning: “[the] key finding is that contrary to conventional wisdom, natural gas isn't blocking deployment of renewables. Quite the opposite – they're growing together

I thought this was all the most interesting part of the presentation today, but there were also much more uplifting and noteworthy stats along other lines, so let’s get to those. (But do feel free to chime in with your take on this natural gas–solar side story if you have some thoughts to add!)

Renewable Energy’s Rapid Growth & Price Drops

Mr Resch (and I think Ethan Zindler, Head of Policy Analysis at Bloomberg New Energy Finance) noted that the installed cost of solar power in the US has come down about 50% in the past few years (to be specific, the price has dropped about 45% since 2009). That’s a pretty astounding price drop, and it has been accompanied with similarly impressive growth. In total, US solar power capacity is now at about 8 GW. regarding renewables as a whole (not including hydro), in the past 4 years, the US has seen a near doubling of renewable energy capacity.

Back to the price drops, one of the speakers (I think Mr Zindler) emphasized something that I often try to emphasize: “if you’re using data regarding the cost of renewables that’s one year old, it’s too old,” and that even 6 months is probably too old. This most applies to solar. But, for now, here’s a chart of LCOE of various electricity technologies:

Here were some market growth and price reduction stats shared in a follow-up email from the organizers:

  • The cost of electricity generated by average large solar power plants has fallen from 31 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2009 to 14 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2012 (excluding the effect of tax credits and other incentives, which would bring those costs down even lower).
  • Over the same period, the cost of power from a typical large wind farm has decreased from 9 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2009 to 8 cents per kilowatt-hour.
  • Renewables including wind, solar, biomass and hydropower jumped to 9.4% of US energy supply in 2012, from 6.4% in 2007.

But, as highlighted above, it wasn’t just about renewables today.

“From 2007 to 2012, natural gas rose to 27.2% of total energy consumption (including electricity, heat, and transportation) from 23.4%, while renewables including wind, solar, biomass and hydropower have jumped to 9.4% from 6.4%. Meanwhile, during the same period, coal declined to 18.1% from 22.5% and oil fell to 36.7% from 39.3%. The winner of all this is U.S. emissions. From 2007 to 2012, U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions declined 13%.”

The point Jeffrey Sachs made at the recent World Future Energy Summit is that a 13% energy-related emissions reduction isn’t enough, and natural gas isn’t clean enough. The question is: is natural gas simply growing alongside renewables and supplementing them, or is it competing with renewables? I think you either have to be ignorant of our energy system or smoking some serious methane to get the answer to that question wrong. European countries not experiencing a natural gas boom are seeing much faster adoption of renewable energy. With proper policies in place, renewable energy could grow much faster — and it it would do so at the expense of natural gas. Up to a much higher renewable energy penetration than we have today, dispatchable natural gas is not needed to deal with solar or wind’s variability. None of this was mentioned on the call today.

Global Market

Bloomberg New Energy Finance isn’t just focused on the US, of course, and Mr Zindler made some interesting comments regarding the global market.

One statistic that I think was new to me is that, globally, for the best in class, the LCOE for solar PV dropped to 1.89 per watt in 2012 — that’s really getting down there.

Furthermore, he repeated the obvious regarding one country always in the public eye — China. He noted China’s new focus on solar, its dramatically increased solar targets, and its potential to become the global leader in this market, as it has already done in the wind power market.

Electric Vehicles

Electric vehicles didn’t have much time in the sun in this presentation, but the time they got was used to put them in a positive light. Again, Mr Zindler made a point that we often try to emphasize: pure EVs and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) have seen more rapid adoption and sales than hybrid vehicles (like the world-leading Prius) saw in their initial years. The Prius, which last year rose to #3 in world auto sales, didn’t have nearly the growth rate of the Nissan Leaf or Chevy Volt. And there wasn’t such a huge variety of hybrids brought to market as with EVs and PHEVs.

Mr Zindler noted that goals for EV sales were certainly far higher than they have been to date, but that the issue isn’t that the industry is seeing poor sales — the issue is just that some people had very ambitious (apparently, overambitious) assumptions regarding how fast EVs would penetrate the market.

Furthermore, it was pointed out that EVs and hybrids accounted for about 500,000 US vehicle sales last year, or about 3% of the market. That’s considerable, and that’s only expected to increase.

Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency, as always, didn’t get a lot of attention in the press briefing (it’s not as sexy as solar and not as controversial as natural gas), but some cool facts were highlighted. I’ll just quote from the materials sent to me afterwards:

“The Factbook highlights how energy efficiency is increasingly becoming a priority, particularly among large power consumers such as manufacturers who are being ever more cost-conscious. US utility budgets for efficiency expenditures reached $7 billion in 2011 (the latest available date for which data exists), and financing for energy efficiency retrofits has become increasingly sophisticated, propelling further greening of U.S. buildings. Since 1980, energy intensity of commercial buildings has fallen by more than 40%.”

One of the presenters also noted what one of our readers picked out of various statistics: that US energy use has declined even as the economy has grown. The specific stat from the presentation was that total energy use fell 6.4% from 2007 to 2012, while GDP grew 3% in that time.

Solar’s Barriers

Beyond what I mentioned above, something Mr Resch focused on very firmly was the need to give solar power providers equal access to the grid. It should be a given: if you produce valuable electricity, you should be able to send it to the grid and receive a fair rate back for that electricity. He noted that a lot of work still needed to be done in order to implement net metering across the country, break down permitting and regulatory barriers that were set up for large coal and nuclear power plants (that simply don’t apply to solar power), and produce a level playing field for solar to compete on. Very good points, and ones we’ll be coming back to a lot this year — but hopefully not for many years to come.

Sustainable Energy in America 2013 Factbook

So, to wrap up, if you want more info, check out Bloomberg New Energy Finance and Business Council for Sustainable Energy’s press release, check out a slideshow of today’s presentation, or check out the Sustainable Energy in America 2013 Factbook itself. And, for those of you who prefer infographics, there’s one of those, too (larger version here):

Big Gas & Big Solar Are Big Friends, + More From Sustainable Energy In America 2013 Factbook Discussion 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.

Washington DC Requires Commercial Buildings To Track Energy And Water Use

Posted: 31 Jan 2013 11:57 AM PST

Washington DC just took another step toward its stated goal of becoming the greenest city in the United States, with a new requirement for all large commercial buildings to report annual energy and water use. 

As of April 1, 2013 all privately owned buildings over 100,000 square feet must benchmark their 2012 energy and water use to the District's Department of the Environment (DDOE) and then continue reporting on an ongoing annual basis. All reporting will be uniformly conducted under the EPA's free Energy Star Portfolio Manager software. 

This ambitious effort falls under DC's Clean and Affordable Energy Act, and adds to existing energy reporting requirements for all publicly owned buildings. The commercial reporting scope will expand next year to cover all buildings over 50,000 square feet, and all reported data will be publicly available starting in late 2013 to democratize data and help inform potential buyers and tenants looking for efficient properties. 

America’s Green Building Capital?

Combined with an existing efficiency push that's seen 266 buildings certified under EPA's Energy Star label and made it the US leader in new LEED certifications, DC could soon be America's green building capital. Other US cities like New York City and Philadelphia require commercial buildings to measure energy use, but DC would go furthest in combining energy and water efficiency with public reporting.

"By measuring and reporting energy use in large buildings, we raise awareness of energy and water efficiency and help business owners and tenants identify ways to save energy, water, and money," said Keith Anderson, Acting Director of DDOE.

Major Energy And Emissions Effects

Beyond informing potential occupants about the office efficiency features installed in each building, benchmarking can help target future efficiency and emissions reduction efforts. A district-wide inventory found that building created 75% of DC's greenhouse gases, and with one-fifth of US energy consumption coming from commercial buildings, efficiency upgrades will be key to cutting total emissions.

New York City's efficiency benchmarking effort, for example, found some older buildings were more efficient than even LEED-certified structures and minimum efficiency upgrades in the poorest-performing buildings could cut energy demand 18% and reduce emissions 20%.

As part of the final regulation release, DDOE also published energy efficiency benchmarking results for more than 200 government facilities across DC from 2009-2011. Among other findings, 11 additional DC public school facilities may now qualify for Energy Star certification.

Boost To Commercial Values

The new regulations are the result of two years of stakeholder engagement with building owners, developers, utilities, and tenants to establish a realistic set of rules that boost property value and appeal to potential occupants.

Taken together, DC's efforts demonstrate the value of energy efficiency in existing buildings and could improve the economy and environment. Benchmarking "gives us the ability to assess building performance objectively," said Michelle Good, sustainability director for DC-based real estate firm Akridge. "It allows us to identify areas for improvement and potentially raise the value of the properties we manage."

Washington DC Requires Commercial Buildings To Track Energy And Water Use 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.

Honeywell Teams Up With Opower To Curb Electricity Demand

Posted: 31 Jan 2013 07:28 AM PST

Consumer technology company Honeywell have teamed up with the world’s leading utility customer engagement solutions company Opower to introduce a new technology that they hope will encourage utilities to attract more homeowners to voluntary programs that will help curb their demand for electricity.

The Energy Management Platform is a combination of Honeywell’s Wi-Fi thermostat and Akuacom utility management software with Opower’s interactive, cloud-based application.

Honeywell and Opower Team to Save Consumers MoneyThe combination will allow users to view and adjust their energy usage from anywhere via a smartphone application or the web, as well as providing tips to increase efficiency and savings.

The current average participation rate for residential customers in demand response programs is around 13 percent, according to a 2012 E Source survey, but Honeywell and Opower are hoping to increase that to 20 percent with their new application. They believe that such an increase in involvement would provide an additional 220 megawatts of peak shed capacity.

In addition, the Energy Management Platform uses measurement techniques to deliver ongoing and verifiable energy savings each day.

"As separate efforts, demand response and efficiency programs can offer significant benefits to utilities and customers, but it's typically been hard to measure and verify their effectiveness," said Alex Kinnier, senior vice president of Product Management at Opower. "By combining these efforts and providing a way to help utilities generate real, measurable savings, we've created a new, more cost-effective and capable model."
"Program participation can't be a one-way proposition," said Jeremy Eaton, vice president and general manager of Honeywell Smart Grid Solutions. "To maximize enrollment, utilities must provide real, tangible benefits to consumers. We're bridging the gap by providing mobility, relatable energy information, precise control and other features customers want so utilities can reach deeper levels of connectivity and participation."

Opower recently announced that they had saved US residents 2 terawatt hours of electricity by way of their behaviour-based efficiency platform, which amounted to the equivalent of taking a 500,000-people-sized city off the grid for a whole year, $223 million in savings on energy bills, and 3 billion pound of CO2 from the atmosphere.

PG&E is currently trialling the application in California, involving participants and installing more than 500 free thermostats.

Honeywell Teams Up With Opower To Curb Electricity Demand 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.

Color-Changing Photonic Fibers Created, Inspired By The Bastard Hogberry

Posted: 31 Jan 2013 05:58 AM PST

A new type of flexible color-changing photonic fiber has been created by reserchers at Harvard University and the University of Exeter. When it’s stretched, the fiber changes color, with the color varying from a deep red to a bright blue. The researchers think that the new fiber could be used for the creation of ‘smart’ fabrics that visibly change color when exposed to heat or pressure. Such fabrics could have a wide variety of potential uses.

20130131-021010.jpg

“Our fiber-rolling technique allows the use of a wide range of materials, especially elastic ones, with the color-tuning range exceeding by an order of magnitude anything that has been reported for thermally drawn fibers,” says coauthor Joanna Aizenberg, Amy Smith Berylson Professor of Materials Science at Harvard SEAS, and Kolle’s adviser.

The fibers were inspired by the fruit of a common South American plant, the bastard hogberry. The unique structural elements in the berry’s surface layers create the bright iridescent blue color that the plant is known for.


 
“Our new fiber is based on a structure we found in nature, and through clever engineering we’ve taken its capabilities a step further,” says lead author Mathias Kolle, a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS). “The plant, of course, cannot change color. By combining its structure with an elastic material, however, we’ve created an artificial version that passes through a full rainbow of colors as it’s stretched.”

20130131-021123.jpg

The upper cells of the seed’s skin possess a repeating ‘curved’ pattern that creates ‘color’ by interacting with light waves, somewhat similar to what gives soap bubbles color. The researchers were able to copy these key structural traits to make the new, flexible and stretchable, color-changing photonic fibers.

“For our artificial structure, we cut down the complexity of the fruit to just its key elements,” explains Kolle. “We use very thin fibers and wrap a polymer bilayer around them. That gives us the refractive index contrast, the right number of layers, and the curved, cylindrical cross-section that we need to produce these vivid colors.”

According to the researchers, the production process is easily scalable to the industrial level. It will be interesting to see what can be done with the fibers. They seem like the kind of technology that will end up having uses that are unforeseen by their creators.

The research was just published January 28th in the journal Advanced Materials.

Source: Harvard University
Image Credits: Peter Vukusic; Mathias Kolle;

Color-Changing Photonic Fibers Created, Inspired By The Bastard Hogberry 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.

Daytona Speedway Makes It Official: Chicken Fat Rules

Posted: 31 Jan 2013 05:32 AM PST

First it showcased the new Mazda6 running the Rolex 24 endurance race on biodiesel from chicken fat, and now Daytona International Speedway has tapped a chicken fat motor oil as the venue’s “Official Motor Oil.” Well, both the biodiesel and the motor oil include other animals fats as well as plant oils along with the chickeny goodness, but the basic idea is the same. The racing world is stepping in as a green ambassador, showing off the high performance capabilities of “home-grown,” renewable fuels and oils to millions of racing fans across the U.S.

renewable G-OIL is official motor oil of Daytona International Speedway

Chicken Fat Motor Oil for Daytona International Speedway

Daytona’s new official oil is produced by Green Earth Technologies under the name G-OIL.

According to independent tests cited by Green Earth, the carbon footprint of its 5W-30 G-OIL is about 67 percent less than a conventional counterpart.

In addition to replacing petrochemicals in its products with domestically sourced animal fats and plant oils, Green Earth puts its products in bottles made of 30 percent post-consumer recyclable plastic, it uses labels made from recycled paper, and it prints those labels with water based inks.

As the official oil of Daytona International Speedway, G-OIL products will be used throughout the venue’s operations, including shuttle buses, landscaping equipment, and safety, maintenance and service vehicles.

Not the First Time Around for G-OIL

The new affiliation is not G-OIL’s first spin around the Daytona track. Right around this time last year, G-OIL sponsored the TriStar Motorsports Toyota Camry driven by Tayler Malsam, which finished sixth in the DRIVE4COPD 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series event.

That puts Green Earth Technologies just one degree of separation away from NASCAR’S new young driver safety campaign, for which Malsam is a spokesperson. The campaign, which launched last year, takes a holistic approach to safety by placing it in the context of environmental stewardship through responsible driving.

Daytona is also not the only NASCAR venue where Green Earth’s products are popping up. The company also has an affiliation NASCAR, which puts it just one degree away from the U.S. EPA through a green partnership that launched last year. NASCAR will be working on its suppliers to improve their sustainability profile and it will use its high profile venues to introduce fans to EPA’s Design for the Environment (DfE) label.

That’s just part of the agreement. With NASCAR as a platform, the opportunities for green publicity can go into some interesting places, a NASCAR-ized Toyota Prius being just one example.

Daytona International Speedway Goes Green!

Well, baby steps. Aside from hitching up with Green Earth Technologies, last year Daytona began participating in a NASCAR-wide tree planting program, but so far its green mission statement is a little vague on the details.


That could change, though, as other NASCAR venues are setting the pace. In particular, Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania, aka the “Tricky Triangle,” got a jump on everybody else with a massive 3-megawatt, grid connected solar installation back in 2010.

Image (cropped): Daytona International Speedway by inazakira

Follow me on Twitter: @TinaMCasey

Daytona Speedway Makes It Official: Chicken Fat Rules 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.

Unity College Narrows Focus To Climate Change

Posted: 31 Jan 2013 02:30 AM PST

The past ten years has seen environmental sciences become more and more popular at universities and colleges the world over, with many tertiary institutions implementing courses designed towards very specific career outcomes.

Unity College Focuses Entirely On Climate ChangeNo university, however, has made climate change it’s central focus, until now.

Unity College, a private college in Maine, has decided to tie every aspect of its curriculum to the mitigation of climate change under the leadership of its new president, Stephen Mulkey.

We are running out of time,” Mulkey said in a statement released in November of last year. “While our public policy makers equivocate and avoid the topic of climate change, the window of opportunity for salvaging a livable planet for our children and grandchildren is rapidly closing.”

Now that commitment and drive has shaped Unity College into a tertiary institution solely dedicated to mitigating the effects of climate change. Every major offered at ‘America’s Environmental College’ is tied to this one singular focus, a transdisciplinary approach to this generation’s greatest challenge.

The liberal arts college will give students the opportunity to pursue everything from conservation law enforcement through to environmental writing (where we hope they’ll then come to Cleantechnica).

Furthermore, Unity College made the decision in December to divest themselves from all investments in fossil fuels.

“The way forward is clear, though for many confrontation-averse academics the path seems impassable,” Mulkey said. “It requires action that is unnatural to the scientifically initiated: to fight to regain the territory illegitimately occupied by the climate change deniers.”

The hope from such decisions is that more-mainstream tertiary institutions will pick up the call and start making environmentally helpful decisions as part of their vision statements.

Training the future scientists will provide us with the technical expertise to begin to grasp what we’ve done to our planet, but those arts students must also take their place in an effort to create a world where not only they can live, but their children can live as well.

Unity College Narrows Focus To Climate Change 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.

Buy An Oil Pipeline To Lower Your Taxes

Posted: 31 Jan 2013 01:30 AM PST

While there is certainly a growing renewable energy trend, there still remains an entrenched fossil fuel infrastructure and system of associated economic incentives. The public may not be all that aware of one of the incentives, but certain business people are. Master limited partnerships are a way to structure an energy business to reduce the corporate tax burden greatly or even to nothing at all. Each partner’s profits from an MLP are counted as income from an individual so the MLP can be exempt from paying corporate income tax.

Image Source: Analogue Kid, CC Wiki Commons

An estimated 90 tax-free partnerships own most of the oil pipelines in the United States. For example, Tennessee Gas Pipeline paid over $100 million in 2011 taxes when it was structured as a corporation. Recently, it was bought by Kinder Morgan and set up as an MLP. The result of the re-organisation was zero dollars paid in corporate taxes this past August.

Even non-energy companies like Burger King were trying to get in on the MLP action in the 1980s, but Congress restricted the tax break to energy companies. “The authors of the exception did not envision how popular the tax break would become," explained John Buckley, a tax professor at Georgetown University Law Center. Mr. Buckley also helped write the tax code.

Though in retrospect it may appear a rather unfair benefit, at the time it was conceived, clean energy companies were not nearly as active as they are today. Congress may actually extend the tax break to these renewable energy players, but perhaps only as a way to preserve it for fossil fuel energy companies.

“These incentives are not Loop Holes’, they were placed in the Tax Code by Congress to make participation in oil and gas ventures one of the best tax advantaged investments,” explained the website Pipelineoilandgas.com.

Tax-advantaged indeed. The oil and gas industry is one of the most lucrative in the world, and yet it also produces an astronomical amount of air pollution and climate change emissions. (Not to mention regular spills.) Pre-tax profits were $16.7 billion for publicly traded oil and gas partnerships in 2011. This amount was more than double what their pretax profits were in 2007.

Buy An Oil Pipeline To Lower Your Taxes 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.

NREL Acquires Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicles From Toyota

Posted: 31 Jan 2013 12:30 AM PST

Via NREL:

The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) recently received four fuel cell hybrid vehicles – advanced (FCHV-adv) on loan from Toyota through a two-year Cooperative Research and Development Agreement. These vehicles will help NREL enhance its research related to hydrogen fueling infrastructure, renewable hydrogen production, and vehicle performance.

"We're looking at the whole system—from renewable hydrogen production and vehicle fueling equipment to the impact of driving patterns and behavior on vehicle performance," said NREL Laboratory Program Manager for Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Technologies Keith Wipke. "Because the vehicles will be four or five years old by the time our two-year loan ends, we will also be able to observe extended durability and reliability, which is critical to their commercial success."

These vehicles are representative of many fuel cell hybrid designs being proposed by automotive companies today. Toyota plans to introduce a fuel cell hybrid sedan to the U.S. commercial market in 2015.

NREL will showcase the vehicles on loan at a variety of events to educate the public about advanced vehicle technologies and to solicit feedback for assessing consumer acceptance and interest in such vehicles.

Based on the Toyota Highlander mid-size sport utility vehicle platform, the FCHV-adv has a fuel cell system with light-weight high-pressure hydrogen gas tanks, an electric motor, a nickel metal hydride battery, and a power-control unit that determines the split of power from the battery or the fuel cell stack to power the vehicle. When the fuel cell is in use, hydrogen is fed to the fuel cell stack where it is combined with oxygen from the air. The electricity produced by this chemical reaction is used to power the electric motor and charge the battery.

In addition to a high fuel economy (estimated 68.3 miles/kg on-road fuel economy, as verified in 2009 and documented in the Evaluation of Range Estimates for Toyota FCHV-adv report), the vehicles emit no harmful tailpipe emissions—water vapor is the only byproduct.

The vehicles on loan to NREL are fueled with renewable hydrogen made from wind and solar energy thanks to the Wind-to-Hydrogen Project, which uses wind turbines and photovoltaic arrays to power electrolyzer stacks that split water into hydrogen and oxygen. Housed at NREL's National Wind Technology Center, the Wind-to-Hydrogen Project is funded by the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy's Fuel Cell Technologies Program.

NREL is hosting a contest for students to design graphic decals for use on the vehicles. Students who are currently enrolled in a graphic design program at a university, community college, or technical school in the Denver Metro area are invited to participate. Three designs will be selected based on adherence to the design specifications and themes described on the contest webpage at www.nrel.gov/hydrogen/design_contest.html.

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

NREL Acquires Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicles From Toyota 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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