Thursday, February 14, 2013

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Link to CleanTechnica

Renewables Deploy Fast

Posted: 14 Feb 2013 12:00 AM PST

Here’s another great post from the always thoughtful Karl-Friedrich Lenz, reposted from his site, Lenz Blog (image added):

Wind turbines in Spain via Shutterstock

Wind turbines in Spain via Shutterstock

Amory Lovins, in an open letter to Obama at Huffington Post:

These technologies scale faster than any other. No form of traditional generation — coal, gas, or nuclear — scales nearly as fast as efficiency, solar, and wind. Gigawatts of solar and wind can be added in months — not the years to decades required for traditional power plants. Cloudy Germany installed three gigawatts of solar in the month of December 2011 alone. That is 1.6 times more than was installed in the entire U.S. Germany's scale-up has cut its solar-system costs to half of ours.

I agree on the substance. Speed is one of the advantages of wind and solar.

But I would put it in a slightly different way. Wind and solar can be deployedmuch faster than coal and nuclear.

As to scaling, nuclear and coal scale rather bad. While there are small nuclear reactors running submarines, you won't find any to put into your garage or on your roof. In contrast, gas actually scales rather good. See theZuhausekraftwerk (home power plant) project by Volkswagen and Lichtblick I have blogged about before, which wants to put many small gas generators in German basements and control them centrally.

So while I agree with Lovins on speed, I think the issue is not speed of scaling, but speed of deployment.

Renewables Deploy Fast 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.

Gallons Of Light

Posted: 13 Feb 2013 11:34 AM PST

Tesla cars are already pretty dang popular. However, as with all electric vehicles, there’s a lot of room for improvement on the marketing side of things. Frankly, reaching out to the desires and emotions of common people is something we all need to do better.

Jordan Bloch, who’s in the business of doing this, was apparently inspired enough by Tesla but disappointed enough in its videos to go ahead and create a great video on Tesla’s Model S and solar-powered superchargers for the company. Here’s the video, followed by the introduction on the story behind the film:


The Making of Gallons Of Light

It was November 2012, and I had just moved from New York City to Los Angeles. My girlfriend and I were walking down the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica, CA, and I noticed the Tesla retail store.

I'd heard about Tesla, but seeing the car in person…I was floored. Beyond the car itself, Tesla was creating a network of free, solar-powered Superchargers in partnership with Solar City. This was the future of transportation.

As I looked around the store, my eyes wandered to plasma screens showing footage of the Model S. Frankly, I wasn't impressed. Where was the cinematic flair, the story, the emotion? I knew I could do better.

As I stared at the monitors surrounding me, I saw an incredible opportunity: to create a commercial that tied together the Model S and the Superchargers.

I went home and contemplated the challenge I was up against. Where would I get a Model S for my project? A hot commodity, the car was massively backordered.

The prospect was daunting to say the least….

For the full story (worth the read, imho) and many pics, check out: The Making of Gallons Of Light

Gallons Of Light 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.

World’s Largest Solar Sail Headed To Space Next Year

Posted: 13 Feb 2013 07:02 AM PST

Solar sail technology is continuing to rapidly move towards its potentially game-changing role in the future of space flight. NASA will be launching in 2014 what is, as of now, the world’s largest solar sail ever constructed. This solar sail spacecraft, dubbed Sunjammer, will serve as a test and demonstration for the technology, and will then likely be used in the future in missions to near-Earth asteroids (NEAs), and possibly in missions to objects at the edge of and beyond the solar system.

20130212-233400.jpg

The technology stands out for its relative affordability and complete lack of fuel use. It is accelerated entirely by photons from the Sun. The somewhat different electric solar sail also possesses many of the same advantages as the conventional solar sail, but is probably further off into the future.

“Dubbed Sunjammer, the giant solar sail measures about 124 feet on a side and boasts a total surface area of nearly 13,000 square feet,” Space.com writes. “The project is under the wing of NASA’s Space Technology Program, within the agency’s Office of the Chief Technologist.”

The Sunjammer was built by L’Garde Inc. of Tustin, California, after being contracted by NASA to build the spacecraft. They have worked previously with NASA on several projects. The name ‘Sunjammer’ apparently comes from a fictional story about a ‘yacht race’ in space done using solar sails, written by the author Arthur C. Clarke.


 
Interestingly, the Sunjammer will be launched by SpaceX (the rocket and spacecraft company started by Elon Musk of Tesla Motors and Paypal), on top of one of its Falcon 9 rockets. The solar sail technology itself seems as though it will be very attractive to many private space companies, potentially allowing for the cheap harvesting of resources from asteroids.

“NASA is keen to infuse solar sail technology into other potential game-changing mission capabilities. Possibilities (that) include the collection and removal of orbital debris, deorbiting spent satellites, providing a direct communications link to Earth's south pole, as well as for deep space propulsion.”

“All space travel right now is limited by expendables,” said Billy Derbes, the chief engineer for Sunjammer. “If you show a technology not limited by expendables — and Kapton (the material the solar sail is constructed from) is a long-lasting film material — what new applications will people think up? We're opening up a whole new kind of thinking about how you do things in space.”

20130212-233547.jpg

One of these applications is for visiting multiple NEAs. NASA recently completed a study on the use of a solar-sail-propelled spacecraft for this purpose.

“We found that a Sunjammer-derived sail could visit up to six NEAs within six years of being launched. This would be impossible with chemical rockets and might not be achievable by electric propulsion. And it's all because the sail uses no propellant … deriving its thrust from sunlight, making it a very 'green' space propulsion system,” Les Johnson, deputy manager of the Advanced Concepts Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, AL, said.

“For me, I'm most excited about using a solar sail unfurled close to the sun, inside the orbit of Mercury, and using the increased solar pressure there to accelerate a large solar sail to speeds that will allow it to reach well beyond the edge of the solar system and into interstellar space within my lifetime.”

The economic advantages of the solar sail, compared to currently used space exploration technologies, are so enormous that it would be hard to imagine that the technology does not end up being used on a large scale, potentially even in exploration beyond the solar system. But that is presuming that space exploration/resource extraction remains viable into future, as climate change and its effects on civilization intensify.

Source: Space
Image Credits: NASA and L'Garde

World’s Largest Solar Sail Headed To Space Next Year 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.

Masdar — Manufactured Silicon Valley Of Cleantech?

Posted: 13 Feb 2013 07:01 AM PST

I recently had the chance to visit Masdar City as part of a VIP Media trip to Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week. Naturally, if someone pays for me to visit their home, I’m cautious of propaganda, smooth-talking, and candy of all sorts. But even with my cautious and skeptical face on, I have to declare that Masdar (or the folks behind it) have ambition, intelligence, perspective, and an eye for becoming the energy champions of the coming century. But there are a lot of intricate pieces to this story that I think are worth your time, so let’s delve into them.

Motive

First of all, let’s get right into the first thing most people will think about — motive. Masdar was established in 2006 with an initial commitment of $15 billion from the Abu Dhabi government. Yes, $15 billion. Abu Dhabi has the fifth-largest proven oil reserves (about 9% of the world’s reserves) and the sixth-largest natural gas reserves (about 5%). Fortune magazine and CNN in 2007 declared that Abu Dhabi was “the richest city in the world.”

Clearly, Abu Dhabi is in a comfortable position, and it is no doubt happy to have so much oil and gas to sell. But it’s also well aware of a couple other things:

  1. oil and gas won’t dominate the energy industry forever;
  2. global warming and climate change come with extremely expensive and harsh costs.



 
With oil and gas at the center of its economy, Abu Dhabi is well aware of what’s available, what it costs to retrieve those resources, and the fact that global supply has peaked or soon will. It will never extract and sell all of its oil and gas. Long before that would happen, the price of these resources will be higher than the price of solar power, wind power, and electric vehicles. As the head of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) noted during the World Future Energy Summit, solar is already the cheapest option for electricity in developing countries all across the world, and even in some developed countries. Solar, wind, and EV costs continue to drop. At some point, it just doesn’t make sense to expend the money to extract oil and gas, store it, and ship it for sale across the world — the price of doing so will increasingly become greater than the price for which you can sell it.

With that clearly on the minds of the leaders of Abu Dhabi, combined with the extremely comfortable and extravagant lives they’ve gotten used to, combined with plenty of extra money lying around to invest as wisely as possible, they have decided to try to become one of the leaders (if not the leader) of the energy technologies of the future.

Furthermore, I don’t think climate or environmental matters are insignificant to them. The region’s climate is harsh. The weather was perfect when I was there… at the beginning of January. But the hot and arid climate is well respected by residents there. A world 11° Fahrenheit warmer, on average, would be a difficult world to live in. Furthermore, as the images below show, the UAE as a whole has a decent history with environmental stewardship. It hasn’t passed up exploiting the oil and gas resources that has made it super rich, but it did: implement a hunting ban not long after its inception, sign the UNFCCC and ratify the Kyoto Protocol, and implement a “Zero Flaring” policy way back in 1992. And the late founding father Sheikh Zayed was awarded the Gold Panda Award in 1997.

The point of all this: there can be more than one motive, and I’m convinced that that’s the case in Abu Dhabi. I believe Abu Dhabi’s leaders are concerned about global warming and want to do the right thing. And I’m sure they want to remain at the head of the global economy, and they see that leading in cleantech is the way to do so.

Where Exactly Is $15 Billion Going?

Before my trip to Abu Dhabi, I was actually under the impression that Masdar was just Masdar City. I’ll admit that I didn’t read up on it a whole lot in previous years, thought that it was a bit of a green pet project or gimmick, and had seen many critical comments about it being simply a dream, greenwashing, a mirage, etc. Quite frankly, now that I’ve been there, I can tell you that it’s much more than a city, and it most certainly is not greenwashing or a mirage.

Masdar is actually split up into four separate (but, obviously, somewhat linked) parts:

  • Masdar Institute of Science and Technology
  • Masdar Capital
  • Masdar Clean Energy
  • Masdar City

What Is Masdar?

To quote Masdar, this is the company’s vision:

“To make Abu Dhabi the preeminent source of renewable energy knowledge, development and implementation, as well as the world's benchmark for sustainable development.”

And this is its mission:

“To advance renewable energy and sustainable technologies through education; research and development; investment; commercialisation and adaptation.”

The best analogy I can think of is one that a Masdar employee there used while we were having a chat — it’s goal is sort of to become the Silicon Valley of cleantech.

One key difference, of course, is that Silicon Valley earned its title “organically,” while Masdar is actually a company that aims to create or become the various walls (figuratively speaking) of such a place. It has a nascent research institute that, it seems, it intends to make the leading cleantech research institute on the planet. It is bringing headquarters of major cleantech companies (such as Siemens and GE) to Masdar City — through various enticements, of course. It has an investment arm that manages investment funds (its own and investments of others') and private equity. Last but not least, Masdar Clean Energy is focused on actually deploying clean energy projects in the region. It has invested in many of the largest cleantech projects in the world — such as the London Array, which will be the world’s largest wind farm once completed; the Gemasolar CSP plant in Spain, the world’s first 24/7 solar power plant; and Shams 1, the largest single-unit CSP plant in the world.

I have more info on Masdar Clean Energy, Masdar City, and Masdar Institute that I think will be more worthwhile to share in their own posts. Stay tuned.

But let’s tackle one last point before closing.

Can Masdar Become the Silicon Valley of Cleantech?

Another key thing about this story is actually unrelated to Masdar or Abu Dhabi. The fact of the matter is: many countries and companies see cleantech as the economic engine of the coming century. Thus, others do have similar goals to Masdar’s goals, if in slightly different forms and frameworks.

For example, China (a country with a somewhat significant population and economy), is clearly gunning for the cleantech “trophy.” It has rather successfully attempted to take over the solar panel and wind turbine manufacturing industries. (Of the top 10 solar panel suppliers in 2012, 7 were based in China. It isn’t so dominant in the wind turbine industry, but #2, 3, 8, and 10 on the list are all Chinese.)

But China isn’t only going after manufacturing. As Lux Research recently noted, “China's rapid transition from a low-cost manufacturing hub to an innovation hotspot with growing foreign ambitions represents both a threat and an opportunity for companies and investors around the globe.” Of course, Lux isn’t the only one to note China’s aim of becoming more than the manufacturing basement of the world. And anyone who follows clean energy knows that China is a giant to keep a constant eye on. China’s clean energy investments have completely dwarfed US clean energy investments. And the country has also been holding strong as the most attractive country for renewable energy investment, according to Ernst & Young.

Nonetheless, China isn’t the only player to watch. European countries, the US, and others also want to be the center of cleantech attention. Major corporations such as GE, Siemens, and Google have put a lot of investment into various sectors of the cleantech arena. And Silicon Valley itself is involved in cleantech research, investment, and deployment of various types. As noted above, each of these countries, companies, and regions have their own frameworks — some are more organic, some more cohesive, some more focused on one aspect of the market or another.

So, where is all this context leading? It’s leading to the point that, like clean energy itself, I think the clean energy “sector” will be quite dispersed, a more decentralized market. It will be more global. There won’t be a clear “cleantech center.”

But that doesn’t mean that being one of many centers is not important. That doesn’t mean that investing in becoming a cleantech leader in as many ways as possible won’t pay off. That doesn’t mean that I’m not extremely impressed with the integrated way in which Masdar is approaching things. I am impressed. I was almost breathtakingly impressed with the vision and scale of the company when learning about it. And I’d invest a good chunk of my measly pocket change that the $15 billion put into Masdar (and probably more down the road) will pay off.

Oh yeah, and to put that $15 billion into a bit of perspective, the US government invested about $5.55 billion in clean energy from 1994–2009. In other words, this ain’t no gimmick.

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.

Masdar — Manufactured Silicon Valley Of Cleantech? 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.

Siemens To Provide 80 Wind Turbines For Giant German Offshore Wind Power Plant

Posted: 13 Feb 2013 06:00 AM PST

Siemens has been awarded a contract to provide 80 wind turbines to the Butendiek offshore wind power plant off Germany’s North Sea coast. The order was made by wpd group, and when the power plant comes on line under a plan for 2015, it’s total generating capacity will be 288 megawatts (MW), enough to supply approximately 370,000 homes with electricity.

Installation of Windpark Horns Reef 2, Denmark in Summer 2009

The world's largest offshore wind park when it was completed in 2009, Horns Rev II. The facility, which is located in the North Sea, consists of 91 Siemens wind turbines for generating electricity. The wind farm has a maximum output of about 210 megawatts (MW), enough to meet the electricity needs of approximately 200,000 households.
Image Credit: Siemens

The Butendiek offshore wind farm will be located in the North Sea, 34 kilometres west of the island of Sylt near the German-Danish border. 80 3.6-megawatt turbines with a rotor diameter of 120 metres will be erected across an area 42 square kilometres in waters measuring around 20 metres deep.

The contract also includes a long-term maintenance contract for ten years, the first of its kind for an offshore wind project. Siemens will provide a new logistics concept that includes a service operation vessel designed to deploy to offshore wind farms.

Butendiek will be the eighth offshore wind power plant order that Siemens has won in German waters, and the second in Europe with an equity stake from Siemens Financial Services. The wind farm will join the over 30 offshore wind plants currently in various stages of development and operation in German waters.

“By 2020, we estimate that the combined installed electrical generating capacity of wind power installations worldwide will reach 500 gigawatts,” said Felix Ferlemann, CEO of Siemens Energy’s Wind Power Division.

“Offshore wind power plants constitute by far the fastest growing segment of this market. Maritime wind power is playing a key role in Germany’s energy turnaround efforts. Its broad acceptance among the general public and significantly higher energy capture than onshore installations are particular points in its favour.”

“Wind energy can make a major contribution to ensuring electrical power supply,” adds Randy Zwirn, CEO of the Service Division at Siemens Energy. ”To do so, however, wind turbines must be reliable and work at maximum output. This holds true on land just as it does under the harsh conditions at sea. Our experienced service technicians and intelligent maintenance concepts help to reliably maintain wind turbine performance over the entire estimated service life of these units – for up to 25 years.”

Source: Siemens

Siemens To Provide 80 Wind Turbines For Giant German Offshore Wind 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.

Obama: “We Must Do More to Combat Climate Change”

Posted: 13 Feb 2013 05:41 AM PST

As anticipated, President Obama used a hefty part of last night’s State of the Union Address to outline his climate change policy and call for more action on climate change, and he didn’t pull any punches. After mentioning “dangerous carbon pollution that threatens our planet,” he boiled the situation down to this: the recent period of record high temperatures along with historic droughts, floods, wildfires and storms is not a “freak coincidence,” it is the result of a dangerous warming trend that demands action “before it’s too late.”

The President didn’t go into specifics, but he did drop a couple of hints about his plans for action over the next four years, at least some of which he pledged to accomplish by executive order if Congress fails to act.

Obama plans climate change action at state of the union

First, the Bad News

The President did say a couple of things that raised a red flag. First, in a part of the speech about the need for infrastructure improvements, he mentioned the p-word, as in pipeline. He could have been referring to any pipeline, particularly water pipes, but then again it could have been a reference to the notorious Keystone XL Pipeline.

The idea of accelerating the permit process for gas and oil drilling also doesn’t bode well for those of us who have been following the gas fracking issue. On the other hand, given his Administration’s dogged attempts to close the gaping loopholes in fracking regulations, he could have in mind a tradeoff: a quicker process, but far more restrictive.

The Obama Climate Change Policy

If the President’s plans for wind and solar power were a little shy on details, there’s a good reason for that. He already came up with a plan several years ago, and it’s already being implemented.

Back in 2011, the Administration launched the SunShot Initiative with the goal of making solar power as cheap as fossil fuel. The wide-ranging initiative is a public-private partnership that covers the development of new high-efficiency solar cells, utility-scale projects as well as affordable rooftop projects, and reducing the “soft costs” of installation (such as permits, inspections and grid connections — these can account for half the total cost of a typical installation).

Wind power has also been getting a public–private boost from the Obama Administration, primarily through the establishment of shared wind power test facilities that enable private companies to cut down on R&D costs.

Though not mentioned in his speech, the Obama Administration has also launched similar public-private initiatives for algal biofuel and hydrokinetic power among others.

No More Oil for Cars?

Perhaps the most intriguing part of the President’s plan was his suggestion that oil and gas revenues from drilling on public lands be used to fund new research that would “shift our cars and trucks off oil for good.”

Did he mean that as a threat, to get the oil and gas industry to quit pressuring him to allow more oil and gas drilling on public land? Who knows?

In any case, as with the aforementioned wind and solar initiatives, the Obama Administration is already well on the way to establishing an electric vehicle infrastructure in the U.S. with public–private partnerships for charging stations, advanced battery research, and other aspects of the EV sector.


The Administration also has other renewable energy projects well under way — for example, biogas initiatives through the AgStar program, and brownfields reclamation for wind and solar through Re-Powering America’s Lands, to say nothing of the U.S. military’s hand-over-fist adoption of renewable energy.

So yeah, when the President says that he will take action, with or without the help of Congress, he probably means it.

Fasten your seatbelts…

Image (cropped): Obama’s State of the Union by Medill DC

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Obama: “We Must Do More to Combat 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.

100MW Solar Project Planned For North Carolina

Posted: 13 Feb 2013 05:00 AM PST

Strata Solar is planning a 100-megawatt (MW) solar power farm in Duplin County, North Carolina, about 40 miles north of Wilmington and the same distance from the eastern coast. When finished, this new solar power facility will actually be one of the largest east of the Mississippi River.

UNC–Chapel Hill campus via Bad thorn / Wiki Commons

Currently, no solar farm in North Carolina is anywhere near the size of the planned Strata Solar project. For the sake of comparison, one of the leading energy companies in North Carolina – Duke Energy – has about 26 MW of solar power in operation providing enough electricity for up to approximately 3,900 homes (when there is adequate sunshine).

Photovoltaics will be used to cover about 400 acres of land, and roughly 400 workers will be employed during the construction phase. Total cost is an estimated $250 million. Solar panels will be provided by Canadian Solar, an Ontario-based company. The Duplin County installation will sell electricity to Progress Energy Carolinas.

Strata Solar is based in Chapel Hill. In 2012, it hired about 170 workers to construct other solar projects in North Carolina. ”Too often job creation gets left out of the solar discussion,” explained CEO Markus Wilhelm. ”We recently started construction on our fifth and sixth farms in our  southeastern cluster where we have been employing a similar number of dedicated employees since the start of the year.”

His point about job creation is a great one, because renewable energy stories in the news often leave out the number of jobs created, even if they aren’t permanent. The official unemployment rate in North Carolina is about 9.2%, though it might be higher.

In 2011, North Carolina had 45.5 MW of grid-connected solar power installed, which ranked it ninth in the nation.

100MW Solar Project Planned For North Carolina 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.

Doubling US Energy Productivity Could Boost Job Creation, Economy, Health, and the Environment

Posted: 13 Feb 2013 04:00 AM PST

Energy productivity in the US could be doubled by 2030 and provide a substantial boost to job creation and the US economy given supporting government policies aimed at realizing gains in energy efficiency, according to a blue-ribbon panel of 20 energy experts and National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) director Dan Arvizu.

"Doubling national energy productivity could create a million new jobs, while saving the average household $1,000 a year and reducing carbon dioxide emissions by one-third," according to the blue-ribbon panel and NREL Director Arvisu. Members of the Alliance to Save Energy (ASE) Commission on National Energy Efficiency Policy, the panel of experts unveiled their recommendations at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. February 7.

Image Credit: Building a Better America by Environment America Research & Policy Center

Revolutionizing How We Use Energy

“Serving on the Commission on National Energy Efficiency Policy over the past year has been a unique and rewarding experience,” Arvizu was quoted in NREL’s press release. “The commission’s recommendations provide a bold yet attainable roadmap for revolutionizing our nation’s use of energy, and boosting our economy and improving our environment along the way.”

“Perhaps the most compelling evidence that energy efficiency measures can have dramatic effects in the future is the often-overlooked fact that they already have produced so many benefits for our nation,” Arvizu noted in his testimony.

A report by the ASE showed that the US would be using 50% more energy than is actually used today had advantage not been taken of all the energy efficiency opportunities developed and deployed over the past three decades.

"Unleashing investments in energy efficiency concepts and technologies throughout the economy, modernizing our energy infrastructure, reforming regulatory measures to promote efficiency, and educating consumers and business leaders on ways to reduce energy waste," can pave the path forward and enable the US to double energy productivity by 2030, according to the ASE panel.

Energy Efficiency Gains for Buildings and Transportation

"Researchers at the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have long understood that using energy more efficiently can be just as beneficial as finding new ways to produce energy more efficiently," the national energy lab states in its press release.

NREL’s been at the center of numerous and varied efforts at the cutting-edge of realizing energy efficiency improvements across the nation, particularly when it comes to the two largest sectors of energy use in the nation: buildings and transportation.

Forty percent of US energy consumption is from buildings, "from hospitals to factories, restaurants to office complexes,” NREL notes. Citing just one example, NREL is working with architects and engineers around the country to identify ways of reducing energy intensity of large hospitals, schools, and retail buildings by 50%; efforts that include development of the software for the Advanced Energy Design Guidlines (AEDGs) that have become a reference standard for the green building sector.

NREL Director Arvisu has been on the road campaigning particularly hard of late to raise awareness of the scope and scale of benefits that could be realized by raising US energy efficiency. Last December, he testified before the US Senate Finance Committee on Energy, Natural Resources, and Infrastructure, a transcript of which is available on the NREL website.

Arvizu also gave a keynote address at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week’s International Renewable Energy Conference, during which Clean Technica’s site director had the opportunity to interview him.

In the interview, Arvizu zeroes in on the fact that our centralized, essentially fossil fuel-based system for generating and distributing electrical power is remarkably inefficient; ie. given the need to install capacity to meet peak demand, our power generating assets are only used about 44% of the time.

A transformation is needed, Arvizu said, emphasizing "the importance of creating citizen demand – a citizens’ movement" – to see it through to fruition. More aggressively deploying distributed renewable power generation capacity capable of better matching electricity supply and demand should figure prominently in any such plan, complemented by policies and actions on the part of both public and private sectors to enhance US energy efficiency and energy productivity.

Doubling US Energy Productivity Could Boost Job Creation, Economy, Health, and the Environment 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.

Significant Growth Opportunities For Wind Energy In Emerging Markets

Posted: 13 Feb 2013 03:00 AM PST

A new report launched by the European Wind Energy Association at its 2013 Annual Event in Vienna and online deems emerging markets like Romania, Poland, and Turkey as possible emerging markets for wind energy.

"These emerging markets are not only important in their own right, but they have increased perceived importance given the state of wind energy markets elsewhere in Europe," Pierre Tardieu from EWEA said on launching the report today.

Emerging Markets Growing Wind Energy

Image Credit: Vestas Wind

Emerging markets "are experiencing teething problems very similar to what we've experienced in the rest of the world," said Inigio Sabater Eizaguirre from Vestas, who was in attendance at the annual meeting. He added that the European markets are attractive to companies like Vestas and that the ongoing recovery from the economic crisis is “big incentive” to look for new markets outside of the well-established markets already in existence throughout Europe.

Another unlikely issue at play is the EU Cohesion Funds worth €240 million earmarked for wind energy have not yet been spent. We need to make sure these funds are used, otherwise these unspent funds are returned to the EU's biggest contributors like Germany, Tardieu said.

There are emerging markets all across the world, in South America and South-East Asia, that are starting to boom. There is a conscientious effort to step away from traditional and harmful electricity generation methods and towards the bountiful reserves of wind, and the growth in wind energy technology has suffused emerging markets across the planet.

The EWEA report, available now to attendees of EWEA 2013 in Vienna and online, highlighted several key requirements for wind energy developers in emerging markets:

  • Stable national frameworks to support wind (in particular no further retroactive changes which make wind financing very expensive)
  • National frameworks which are compliant with European Commission rules
  • Clarity on the rules over no-go areas like "Natura 2000" zones.
  • Transparency on grid access costs
  • Streamlined administrative procedures.

Significant Growth Opportunities For Wind Energy In Emerging Markets 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 Tethys Database Offers Guidance For Responsible Ocean Energy Development

Posted: 13 Feb 2013 02:00 AM PST

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has launched an online database containing "results of environmental monitoring and research efforts on wave, tidal, and current energy development worldwide.” Named after the Greek titaness of the ocean, Tethys "will help industry regulators and enrgy project developers deploy sustainable ocean energy projects in an environmentally responsible manner," according to a DOE Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE) news release.

Developed in collaboration with the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) Ocean Energy Systems Initiative (OES), the Tethys database and an accompanying report bring together the results of worldwide research on the potential environmental impacts and monitoring methods associated with development of ocean energy resources.

Included are real-world data that documents "interactions between wave, tidal, and current devices, marine wildlife, and oceans’ physical systems that will help safely explore and expand the use of clean, renewable energy sources like ocean power.”

Hokusai’s “Great Wave”


An interactive Tethys map highlights ocean energy environmental monitoring and research projects worldwide; an online research tool that should be of great help for ocean energy policy makers, as well as researchers and project developers. Looking to make Tethys yet more collaborative, comprehensive, up-to-date, and dynamic, the DOE encourages ocean energy and environmental researchers to submit their research results for incorporation into the database.

Tethys’ accompanying report was compiled by the DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in partnership with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Also contributing substantially in terms of input and funding to the report were partner nations in the IEA’s OES initiative, including Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, and South Korea.

Current Ocean Energy Developments

Near some of the strongest tidal currents in the world, the Ports of Normandy Authority (PNA) recently announced plans to invest some $78 million to expand and outfit the ports of Cherbourg and Caen-Ouistreham to facilitate development of marine tidal power generation systems and renewable marine energy industry facilities.

Across the English Channel, the UK Crown Estate recently released a report estimating that tidal and wave power capacity in the UK amounts to some 153 gigawatts (GW), enough to meet 20% of current electricity demand while significantly reducing carbon and greenhouse gas emissions.

Funded in part by the DOE, Maine last July became the first US state in which a commercial, grid-connected tidal energy project has been commissioned. Located off the coast of Eastport, developing the Cobscook Bay Tidal Energy Project gave a $14 million boost to the local economy and led to the creation of more than 100 local and supply chain jobs.

Generating enough clean, renewable electrical power to supply more than 1,000 Maine homes and businesses, the electricity generated by the Cobscook Bay pilot project is sold to three investor-owned utilities – Central Maine Power Co., Bangor Hydro Electric, and Maine Public Service Co. – as per the terms of the first-ever long-term marine tidal power purchase agreement (PPA).

New Tethys Database Offers Guidance For Responsible Ocean Energy Development 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 London Recycle Bins Come With Displays

Posted: 13 Feb 2013 01:00 AM PST

People receive news and advertisements on many mediums such as newspapers, television, personal computers, and cellphones. Now, in London, they will see it on public recycle bins, or “techno-pods”. The techno-pods are equipped with large colour screens.

Renew recycling bins.
Image Credit: Renew

The company that developed these bins is Renew, which was co-founded in 2002 by Kaveh Memari. The bins are constructed of damage-resistant fibreglass, with a screen on either end. 

The impetus for this e-news idea was caused by excessive newspaper litter. These bins will not only display news and advertisements, but also information about underground delays and the number of Boris bikes available in the vicinity.

The city hoped to have 100 pods in place before the Olympics, but that was unsuccessful. The target was reached in November.

Renew is not going to charge people to use the bins, however, they said that advertisements and sponsorship may provide the necessary revenue to pay for these futuristic bins.

The bins can also be used to display emergency alerts so that people walking out on the street who would not currently be viewing a television, computer, or even a cellphone would be notified immediately.

“We have killed the idea it’s a grotty place for [advertisers and publishers] to put their messages. We are also talking to seven major film studios and they are very interested in the possibilities.”

Source: The Guardian

Follow me on Twitter: @Kompulsa.

New London Recycle Bins Come With Displays 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.

US Energy Savings Potential & Who Pays For It (VIDEO)

Posted: 13 Feb 2013 12:10 AM PST

The renewable energy graduate student who got me to go give a guest lecture on renewable energy to his class recently passed along some useful videos on different types of clean technology. These are introductory videos, but they’re not as introductory as our typical blog posts about such topics — they’re each about 30 minutes to 1 hour in length. Above is the fourth video we’re sharing, which is on the topic of US energy savings potential. (Note: the slides tend to not keep up with the voice, unfortunately.)

For more videos, check out our Leonardo Energy archives.

US Energy Savings Potential & Who Pays For It (VIDEO) 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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