Saturday, February 16, 2013

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

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Actually, Tesla’s Elon Musk Could Be Smiling Over that New York Times Review

Posted: 15 Feb 2013 07:49 PM PST

Unless you’ve been tied up watching marathon sessions of House of Cards all last week, you are probably aware that John Broder of The New York Times wrote a scathing review of his experience driving a Tesla Model S electric vehicle from Washington, D.C. to Boston, to which Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk promptly wrote a scathing reply. So, why do we think that Musk might be secretly having a happy over the whole episode?

It’s this: regardless of who wins on the evidence (we think Elon, but whatever), the only thing that Broder actually accomplished was to prove that you have to try really, really, really-really hard to get a well designed electric vehicle to fail your expectations.

Tesla's Elon Musk Challenges New York Times

 Tesla’s New York Times Test

To recap the basic complaint, Broder ran out of electricity short of his destination, and had to call for a tow truck. He attributed the problem to the manufacturer’s failure to account for cold weather driving conditions when calculating range and charge times, among other issues.

In reply, Musk cited “hundreds” of successful test drives under all sorts of weather conditions, including a test by another Times writer. Tesla Motors had also equipped the car with a data log that shows, according to Musk, significant discrepancies with Broder’s description of events.

How to Get Your Moment of EV Derp

Broder did issue a strong rebuttal to some of Musk’s major points about the data log, but even if you give him the benefit of the doubt his excursion fails the smell test.

Never mind Tesla, just put yourself in the shoes of a typical first-time EV owner, any make, any model. You’ve just plunked down a huge chunk of change on cutting edge, state-of-the art automotive technology that you’ve had little or no experience with before. You’re planning a 400-mile jaunt along some of the most heavily trafficked parts of the Northeast Corridor in the dead of winter, and given all the hazards of driving any kind of car in that region in that season, you decide it would be wise to do some local driving first.

That way, you’ll get used to assimilating the critical information you’ll be getting from the dashboard while on the road, particularly information about the battery. You’ll also familiarize yourself with charging protocols, and you’ll get a heads up on any range problems that the manufacturer failed to disclose.

Before you head out for an extended trip, you’d probably also pinpoint the exact location of all the charging stations along your route (Google Maps, much?) along with directions for reaching them, so you won’t have to make panicky phone calls to Customer Service while you’re on the road.

On the other hand, if you really want to experience that moment of EV derp, just jump in the car and go.

Does John Broder Really Hate Electric Vehicles?

Mr. Broder has been accused elsewhere of hating on EVs, and at least one of his recent articles seems to bear that out. Barely one year ago, on March 25, 2012, he wrote this rather depressing rundown of the state of the EV market:

“Yet the state of the electric car is dismal, the victim of hyped expectations, technological flops, high costs and a hostile political climate. General Motors has temporarily suspended production of the plug-in electric Chevy Volt because of low sales. Nissan's all-electric Leaf is struggling in the market. A number of start-up electric vehicle and battery companies have folded. And the federal government has slowed its multibillion-dollar program of support for advanced technology vehicles in the face of market setbacks and heavy political criticism.”

For the record, GM maintains that the Volt production suspension was related to increased production and technology upgrades, and it resumed a few days earlier than scheduled (on April 16, just a few weeks after Broder’s article appeared).

The Nissan Leaf might be struggling, but if you look at the way Ford’s C-MAX sales have been going, that could be the result of emerging “buy American” competition from a new crop of domestic hybrids in addition to new domestic EVs like the all-electric Ford Focus and yeah, the Tesla.

As for start-up failures, those are a dime a dozen in any industry (just look at the early history of the U.S. automotive industry).

Broder’s assessment of a slowdown in federal EV support was premature, by the way. Just a couple of months ago, the Obama Administration launched the fifth in a series of major public-private research efforts called Energy Innovation Hubs, and this one was aimed squarely at improving EV battery efficiency.

The Administration also just recruited a whole raft of major companies including GE, Eli Lilly and 3M (as well as Nissan, GM and Tesla) to its new Workplace EV Charging Challenge, with the goal of increasing the number of U.S. employers offering EV charging to employees.


Workplace charging is part of a broader public-private Administration initiative called EV Everywhere, which just like the name says, is a platform for launching EVs into the mass market (including more affordable EVs), along with building a national charging infrastructure to support them.

Edmunds Gets the Last Word

Just last week we took a look at a comparative test of EVs undertaken by Edmunds under real driving conditions, namely rush hour traffic in California. Edmunds found that some of the EVs exceeded the EPA’s mileage rating, while others pretty much met expectations and others were somewhat disappointing.

For what it counts, among those beating expectations was the Tesla Model S.

Image (cropped): Tesla Model S courtesy of Tesla Motors

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Actually, Tesla’s Elon Musk Could Be Smiling Over that New York Times Review 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.

Major Media & Tech Sites Fail Big Time On Tesla–NYTimes Story

Posted: 15 Feb 2013 02:15 PM PST

Tesla-Model-S

Tesla Model S. Image Credit: Tesla Motors

When I first posted on the NYTimes–Tesla story, I figured I wouldn’t come back to the issue. I figured it was completely obvious what had happened, and that major media would be doing a good job of slamming the NYTimes and Mr Broder. Unfortunately, major media reporters, humans, and even tech reporters aren’t as bright as I had assumed.

Let’s start real quickly with the NYTimes–Tesla story before delving into the dumb responses to the story that I’ve seen on sites quite a bit larger than CleanTechnica.

John Broder, a NYTimes writer with a completely biased agenda, is making a living out of bashing electric vehicles. Good for him — everyone has a right to make money off of being idiotic. But he’s the last person you should trust for impartial opinions on an electric vehicle (EV), or (apparently) for an honest test drive of an EV.

In his test drive, Tesla data has shown that he drove in circles in a parking lot, didn’t fully charge the Model S he was testing when advised to, passed up public charging stations when he needed a charge, and even turned up the heat in the car when his battery was running low (but just wouldn’t die as it was supposed to!).

For anyone to pay Mr Broder’s “results” any attention is absurd. Yet, blogger after blogger and reporter after reporter are doing so. From TIME to MIT Technology Review, writers with very large audiences are blowing the story. Furthermore, they’re putting even more misinformation into people’s minds.

Without focusing on the myths, I’m going to bust them up a bit with a little bit of reality and perspective.

1. With common sense, you can easily drive an EV wherever you want today.

People have driven EVs around the world. There was actually an around-world EV race recently in which the Tesla Model S won. It’s not hard to fill up your gas tank and not run out of fuel. And it’s not hard to charge your EV and take long road trips if desired, even with EVs with much less range than the Model S.

2. EVs are completely ready for mass market… if the media would simply stop screwing up the story.

EV’s are cheaper than conventional, gas-powered cars for many, many people now. They can actually save many of us money. Simply do the math and check for yourself.

Furthermore, EV prices are coming down fast, making them even more of a ‘duh’ consumer option… again, for those who are willing to simply do the math and think for themselves.

3. Charging an EV is considerably easier and quicker than filling up a gas tank.

This is possibly the issue around which there’s the most widespread confusion. The fact of the matter is, all you really need to do to charge an EV is plug it in. That takes a mere seconds. You don’t have to stand at a gas station breathing in air pollution that can actually kill you. You don’t have to stand outside in the cold on a winter day. If you’re using your car for normal daily purposes (and you’re an average America), you can charge your car at night when you get home and not have to worry about it. In an increasingly number of workplaces, you can also plug in at work. Again, pluggin in your car and unplugging it later takes a mere seconds.

If you want to take a longer trip, you can do so with some basic planning. If you don’t want to think about plugging in while away from home, you can buy an extended range electric vehicle (e.g. Chevy Volt) and use gasoline for the 1% or 10% of the time you might find it more convenient. Or you can simply rent a car for such trips.

Count up the hours you’d save each year from not having to stand or sit at gas stations. Consider how much easier it would be to plug in your car when you get home, forget about it until your next drive, and unplug it again when you go back out. Consider these things and I’m sure you’ll notice how much more convenient an EV is.

4. EVs are most certainly a lot greener than gasoline-powered cars.

This is an issue I’ve seen brought up in comment after comment… with completely the wrong point being made. People love contradictions, especially when they can say them and show people how “smart” they are. It has become common practice among some people to claim that EVs aren’t greener than gasoline-powered cars when they charge from our grid (which uses some coal power). For those who think they’ve got a useful point to make there, please read up on the facts before spreading misinformation. In the most comprehensive study on the matter to date, it has been found that EVs are greener in pretty much every corner of the United States (on the current grid).

Furthermore, from what I’ve read (don’t have a link on this one, though), the majority of EV drivers have solar panels. If you want to make sure your electricity is green, put up some solar panels, save even more money, and live happily.

5. The biggest barriers to change are close-mindedness and ignorance.

What is actually blocking even more widespread EV adoption? The biggest obstacles to a faster EV revolution are apparently close-mindedness, ignorance, and fear.

People like Mr Broder, who have made up a story before even giving the new technology a chance, are confusing the public and holding us all back.

People who don’t look past the claims of Mr Broder and gang, who even repeat the claims, are holding us back through their ignorance.

Those of us who don’t adequately look at the benefits of electric vehicles before buying our next vehicle or discussing the matter with those who might be are slowing the technological revolution.

Those who don’t make the switch to electric sooner, or who even fight against electric vehicle growth and popularity, simply out of fear, simply because they are afraid of change, are holding us all back. These are the reasons why articles like those written by Mr Broder are not immediately scoffed at and thrown in the trash.

I’m sad to say that people who I thought would have “gotten it,” do not. I’m sad to see that they’ve written horrible responses to the Broder/NYTimes scam that simply reinforce the myths that are holding society back. Here’s hoping some of them learn a bit from this debacle and don’t make the same mistake again.

Major Media & Tech Sites Fail Big Time On Tesla–NYTimes Story 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.

Glut Of Solar Panels Is A Good Thing

Posted: 15 Feb 2013 08:10 AM PST

There are any number of conspiracy theories and news stories looking at the oversupply of solar panels currently flooding the market, and a general negative view of the solar industry has followed.

Solar Panel Glut Good For Long Term BusinessHowever, Director of the Resnick Sustainability Institute and Howard Hughes Professor and Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science at Caltech Dr. Harry A. Atwater believes the current glut of solar panels is a good thing for the industry.

"There has never been a better time to go 'long' on innovative solar technology," said Atwater.

"If we invest now, by the time the industry recovers from today's oversupply crisis, very advanced innovations will have emerged that can fuel the next wave of solar technology. These will build on the momentum created by the current phase of the market and dramatically expand the usefulness and adoption of solar."

Atwater shared his opinions at the VX 2013 Conference in Los Angeles, explaining how the market arrived where it is now and how it could be viewed as a good thing, in the long term.

The problem stems from the fact that the solar industry grew so fast and efficiently that it reached a worldwide module production capacity of 60 GW peak.

Sounds good, right?

Problem is, during 2012, there was only demand for 35 GW of modules, and 2013 is predicted to only require demand in the 40 GW range.

The industry is, therefore, “under water.” Some companies have gone bankrupt, while consumers are living the dream, encountering lower-than-ever prices.

"This period in the history of the solar market is like the 'dotcom bubble'," said Atwater. "During that era, there was a lot of financial and entrepreneurial pain, but vast amounts of infrastructure, market exposure and adoption occurred which catalyzed today's dramatic growth in worldwide use of the Web. We believe the same is true of solar."

Atwater believes that those companies who go long on solar now — by supporting the innovations currently underway — are going to benefit in the long run, even if they might sacrifice some short term success.

Glut Of Solar Panels Is A Good Thing 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.

EU Wind Energy Grew In 2012, Faces Challenges In 2013

Posted: 15 Feb 2013 07:10 AM PST

The European Union added 11.6 gigawatts (GW) of wind energy capacity in 2012 according to annual statistics released by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), bringing the total EU wind energy capacity up to 105.6 GW.

However, the EWEA expects 2013 and 2014 to be challenging years for the wind energy sector.

European Union Adds More Wind Energy Capacity

Massif du Sud wind power plant
Image Source: EDF Energies Nouvelles

"The 2012 figures reflect orders made before the wave of political uncertainty that has swept across Europe since 2011 , which is having a hugely negative impact on the wind energy sector," commented Christian Kjaer, CEO of EWEA. "We expect this instability to be far more apparent in 2013 and 2014 installation levels."

The European Union installed 9.4 GW of wind energy capacity in 2011, lower than 2012s 11.6 GW. Wind energy represented 26% of all new European Union capacity installed during 2012, with investments between €12.8 billion and €17.2 billion.

The 105.6 GW wind energy capacity is currently meeting 7% of Europe’s electricity demand, up from 6.3% at the end of 2011.

Last year, wind energy installations were led by Germany (2.4 GW, 21% of all new wind power capacity), the UK (1.9 GW, 16%), Italy (1.3 GW, 11%), Romania (0.9 GW, 8%) and Poland (0.9 GW, 8%). In terms of total installed capacity, Germany is also the leader with 31.3 GW (30%), followed by Spain (22.8 GW, 22%), the UK (8.4 GW, 8%), Italy (8.1 GW, 8%) and France (7.2 GW, 7%). (Sourced from EWEA)

These statistics put the EU at almost 2 GW under its National Renewable Energy Action Plan forecasts, with eighteen member states falling behind, including Slovakia, Greece, Czech Republic, Hungary, France, and Portugal.

UK Reach Third Place

The UK were happy to have reached third place, overall, up from fifth in 2011. Maf Smith, RenewableUK deputy chief executive, said the figures reflected the growing importance of the British wind industry to the economy, but called for greater certainty over the future of financial support mechanisms for the industry.

“The government is calling for the UK to more than quadruple the amount of wind installed between now and 2020,” he said. “The industry can achieve 31GW onshore and offshore by the end of the decade, but only with clear cross-party political support.”

“We can attract billions of pounds worth of investment to the UK and create tens of thousands of jobs, but only if the signals from Westminster are right. The proof of this will be in the Energy Bill, which is due to become law by the end of the year. So the decisions taken by government over next few months are absolutely crucial for the UK’s wind industry.”

Troubled Waters Ahead

However, the UK is actually underperforming. The UK should have had 8.6 GW of new capacity installed by 2012, instead it only has 8.4. That certainly seems an insignificant difference, but it is representative of a greater problem.

The authors of the report were clear to show that the 2012 figures do not reflect the “significantly negative impact” of economic, regulatory, and political uncertainty that has existed in Europe since 2011.

Most of the capacity installed during 2012 was permitted and approved prior to the negative falloff, and projects going forward are up against the wall.

“The 2012 figures reflect orders made before the wave of political uncertainty that has swept across Europe since 2011, which is having a hugely negative impact on the wind energy sector,” said Christian Kjaer, chief executive of EWEA.

“We expect this instability to be far more apparent in 2013 and 2014 installation levels.”

EU Wind Energy Grew In 2012, Faces Challenges In 2013 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.

34 More Hydroelectric Dams For Amazon Basin

Posted: 15 Feb 2013 06:10 AM PST

Brazil is planning to build 34 additional hydroelectric facilities in the Amazon by 2021 in an effort to increase Brazil’s national energy output by 50% or more.

Total cost for their construction is over $150 billion. Over 6,000 square kilometers of land will be flooded when the dams are finished. Rivers will be diverted, canals built, and roads constructed to accommodate the new development and re-arranging of the many natural water flows for human purposes.

amazonrivers

Image Credit: NASA, Public Domain

The Jirau hydroelectric dam will feature the largest number of huge turbines in the world and is scheduled to be finished by 2015. Each of its 50 turbines could house a locomotive. The dam will span five miles of the Madeira River, the largest tributary of the Amazon.

About 18,000 workers are currently toiling away trying to finish the behemoth on schedule. This enormous dam is located in the Western jungle about 2,250 kilometres (1,400 miles) from Sao Paulo where the electricity will be received and used. Areas flooded by the project will no longer be accessible to locals.

Not all the dam projects are of such a colossal scale. Most are much smaller and will function as power sources for industrial sites, or silos. Some will simply help regulate water flows.

Brazil’s population growth rate has been slowing due to a number of factors, but their society is becoming more economically developed and power consumption has been increasing steadily. A recent analysis indicated energy demand is growing in parallel with GDP. One of Jirau’s directors said two enormous dams must be built each year in Brazil to keep up with energy demand.

Environmentalists are unhappy, however, given the massive swath of industrialised development taking place within the Amazon. They want Brazil to focus on developing solar and wind alternatives, rather than imposing human restrictions on natural resources like the Amazon Basin.

“This is a sort of 1950s development mentality that often proceeds in a very authoritarian way, in terms of not respecting human rights, not  respecting environmental law, not really looking at the alternatives,” said Brent Millikan, the Brazil Program Director for the International Rivers Network.

Already residents are being forced to leave their homes and communities. Telma Santos Pinto, aged 53, said she had to leave her home of 36 years, receiving $18,000 as compensation from the companies building Jirau.

"The compensation was very, very low," she said. "And we were obligated to accept that."

Her town of Mutum Parana is now under water, one of many subsistence communities left to rot.

34 More Hydroelectric Dams For Amazon Basin 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.

Tough Little Bug Smashes Down Wall Between Us And Sustainable Biofuel

Posted: 15 Feb 2013 05:37 AM PST

The biofuel fuel vs. food debate has really been getting a workout this year, especially in the U.S. where a historic, devastating drought has put the squeeze on corn ethanol. More sustainable biofuel crops like perennial grasses and shrub willow are under development, but the sugars in plants like these are locked away behind tough, woody cell walls, and getting at them can be a costly process. Now researchers at Brown University have found a bacteria called Streptomyces, which could be deployed as a microscopic “biorefinery” to get the job done.

Brown researchers explore Streptomyces to make biofuelBiofuel from Bacteria

With soft biomass such as cow manure, a microbe-based biofuel process can be relatively quick and inexpensive, and it is already being deployed commercially with a push from the Department of Agriculture’s AgStar program. Microorganisms simply chew away at the organic matter, releasing methane gas as they go. The gas can be captured and used to power generators, or used directly to heat boilers.

Getting liquid biofuel or biofuel precursors from woody biomass is a whole different ballgame. Very few microorganisms can digest lignin, the polymer that puts the wood in woody (or grassy) biomass.

The Key to Biofuel from Woody Biomass

Streptomyces is one of those rare, wood-loving microorganisms, but knowing what it does is one thing. Getting it to work on a commercial scale is another thing entirely, kind of like the microbial version of herding cats, and that depends on a detailed understanding of the process.

The Brown team, headed by chemistry professor Jason Sello and biology professor Rebecca Page, had previously identified the genes in Streptomyces that encode enzymes, which the bacteria deploys to break down lignin.

Normally, the genes in question are dormant, but the team found that the they would switch on when the bacteria was exposed to a lignin-enriched environment, using a compound called protocatechuate. Exploring this phenomenon further, the team discovered that the “finger” on the switch was a protein called PcaV.

As described by Brown writer Kevin Stacey, the latest step in the research shows that PcaV really does work like a microscopic finger. Normally, PcaV binds itself to DNA and physically prevents the lignin-degrading genes from going into action. Once exposed to lignin, PcaV loses interest in DNA, exposing the genes, which then go to work on expressing the enzymes.

Once the enzymes break lignin into simpler carbon compounds, the rest is pretty clear sailing. Some of the carbon goes to sustain the bacteria, and the rest gets converted into triglycerides, which could then be processed into biodiesel or other products.

As to exactly why PcaV disengages from DNA in the presence of lignin, the team got into that level of detail, too. They identified an amino acid in PcaV called arginine-15, which plays a key role in keeping PcaV bound to DNA. In the presence of lignin, arginine-15 acts like a “molecular switch” that breaks the bond.

About that Willow Biofuel

Streptomyces has a long (long) way to go before it’s ready for its commercial biofuel close-up, but in the meantime woody biomass is already emerging as a more sustainable biofuel crop, particularly shrub willow.


As a perennial, willow resolves energy issues related to annual plantings. It can be grown on land that is too marginal for other crops, providing rural property owners with a long term, sustainable alternative to more destructive forms of revenue such as natural gas fracking.

Willow is also a hardy, drought-resistant plant. In fact, stress might be good for it, at least in terms of biofuel production: researchers in the U.K. are finding that windy conditions trigger a gene in willow that boosts sugar production, making it significantly more amenable to biofuel conversion.

Image: Streptomyces courtesy of Brown University

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Tough Little Bug Smashes Down Wall Between Us And Sustainable Biofuel 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.

7 Responses To Obama’s 2013 State Of The Union Address

Posted: 15 Feb 2013 05:10 AM PST

The State of the Union (SOTU) address is obviously a pretty big deal. Tina wrote up a great piece for CleanTechnica on this year’s speech, but other cleantech and environmental thought leaders also made some noteworthy comments this week that I wanted to share with all of you.

Before the 7 I’m reposting below, I’ll just note that Jeremy Bloom has a few interesting posts up on sister site Red, Green, and Blue that are worth checking out:


And here are 7 official statements from some top cleantech and environmental organizations, associations, and companies:

1. Statement by Maggie Fox, CEO of The Climate Reality Project:

"[This week], the President once again stood up for reality. The President made it clear that we can and must take immediate action to stop the climate crisis. We stand with the President in our shared commitment to speak truth to the American people about the climate crisis and take immediate steps toward solutions.

"We are already paying the costs of carbon pollution. Climate change has increased our risk of severe storms, crippling droughts, and heat waves – extreme weather that threatens human lives and livelihoods and is costing us tens billions of dollars in damages today. The time has come for a historic shift to a clean energy, carbon-free future. We look forward to working with the President to help make that change happen."

2. Statement by Lisa Jacobson, Council President of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy:

“Clean energy businesses commend the President for reaffirming his commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to address the damaging and costly impacts of climate change. We agree that the most effective approach is for Congress to pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change. However, if that is not possible in the short-term, clean energy industries will work with the Administration to ensure that commercially-available clean energy technologies are fully utilized to reduce emissions and improve the resiliency of our buildings and infrastructure.

“Recent trends show that U.S. carbon emission reduction goals are not only achievable, but it can be done in an way that is affordable and does not harm economic growth.

“The Council also commends the President for his commitment to cut energy waste in half in the next 20 years and his pledge to support states that take steps to increase energy productivity for households, businesses and the building sector.”

3. Statement by Graham Richard, CEO of Advanced Energy Economy:

“With technology and innovation giving us more choices in energy than ever before, this is a critical time for America to seize the opportunity of advanced energy for cost savings, energy security, and economic competitiveness.”

“I applaud President Obama for recognizing the opportunity in reducing energy waste and making all of our energy sources more secure, clean, and affordable. I look forward to working with Congress and the Administration to making the most of it.”

4. Statement by Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association:

"In tonight's State of the Union Address, President Obama laid out a vision for the American energy economy that is in line with what SEIA is working to achieve – a robust clean energy industry that powers our homes and businesses while growing our economy and protecting our environment. Energy is a primary input to our nation's economic system, so it's appropriate that President Obama is placing emphasis on developing our nation's robust clean energy resources to help rebuild the nation's economy.

"We are especially encouraged by the president's commitment to securing America's place as a leader in clean energy innovation throughout the world. President Obama understands that the stakes are high and we must not fall behind other nations as the world shifts to emissions-free clean energy technologies like solar.

"We thank President Obama for his leadership and look forward to continuing to work with Congress and the White House to make solar an increasingly-important component of the nation's energy portfolio."

5. Statement by Rob Gramlich, Interim CEO of the American Wind Energy Association:

“Wind power became the number one source of new U.S. electric generating capacity in 2012. [This week], President Obama called on Congress to strengthen the stewardship we all share for our environment, and put more Americans to work in clean energy jobs and manufacturing.

“President Obama sets a goal tonight ‘to once again double generation from wind, solar, and geothermal sources by 2020.’ The President has called on Congress to make the renewable energy Production Tax Credit permanent and refundable, as part of comprehensive corporate tax reform, providing incentives and certainty for investments in new clean energy.

“We are proud to be recognized for producing nearly half of the nation’s new electric capacity last year, creating tens of thousands of jobs, and as a central climate solution.

"Wind power is one of the most beneficial and cost-effective greenhouse gas mitigation technologies available to our nation. With over 60 gigawatts of wind power generating capacity now installed in America, wind energy will avoid nearly 100 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions this year, equal to 1.8% of the entire country's total carbon emissions.

"We're inspired too, by stories like that of Lee Maxwell, a commissioning technician at Acciona Energy, who was invited to the Capitol to watch the State of the Union address from the First Lady's box. He's a 2012 graduate of the wind turbine technician program at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where he earned 26 separate certifications in everything from reading blueprints to driving forklifts. Iowa gets 20 percent of its electricity from wind energy thanks to dedicated workers like Lee, who now travels the country turning on new wind turbines.

"Utility-scale wind power was invented here, and increasingly the parts are made-in-the-U.S.A. Domestic content in the U.S. industry is up to nearly 70 percent, from 25 percent just a few years ago. That has created 30,000 American jobs in wind manufacturing, and further brought down the cost of wind energy now that we're making most of the parts right here in the U.S.A.

"Policymakers all over should be recognizing the opportunity and supporting the growth of clean energy in their own states, such as through robust state Renewable Portfolio Standards.

"Because the Administration and Congress wisely extended the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) and Investment Tax Credit (ITC) at the start of the year, tens of thousands of workers in U.S. wind manufacturing facilities can get back to building wind projects and wind turbines. Private investors put $25 billion into the U.S. economy in 2012 and got the signal from the PTC/ITC extensions that the U.S. is still open for clean energy business. This is what successful policy looks like.

"America's homegrown wind energy industry is ready to work with President Obama and the U.S. Congress to advance the goals of energy independence and clean, renewable power that is available and affordable for all Americans."

6. Statement by David Foster, Executive Director of the BlueGreen Alliance:

"[This week], President Obama asked Americans to join him to respond to climate change, to rebuild our nation's infrastructure, and to invest in the promise of clean energy manufacturing to create good jobs for the American people.

"Climate change is having a profound impact on our communities and our economy, and we can no longer wait for action. But this challenge also presents an economic opportunity for our country. Tonight President Obama put forward priorities that will allow us to meet the vital challenges we face today and create quality jobs. Investing in our nation's infrastructure, strengthening the manufacturing sector and finding more ways to deploy clean energy across the country are the pathway to a better, stronger economy.

"The President's commitment to making America a magnet for jobs and manufacturing and investing in the skills that will help workers perform those jobs will create jobs and strengthen our economy. Expanding investments in clean energy and curbing greenhouse emissions from existing power plants is key to responding to climate change. Investing in our infrastructure will prepare us for the new reality of climate change, help move people and goods more efficiently, and stimulate American manufacturing.

"Congress should heed the president's call for action on climate change. In a few weeks, our nation will once again face the choice of whether to invest in the priorities that will put people back to work and prepare our nation for the future. We cannot afford to miss this opportunity to build a cleaner, stronger, and fairer America for the next generation."

7. Statement by Paul Gaynor, CEO of First Wind:

"Although the recent extension of the tax credits was key for the industry, we must now look toward more stable policy for wind energy to avoid the artificial boom and bust cycle for wind project development and construction that occurs as the tax credits expire.

"To realize the clean energy vision outlined in the State of the Union, we need to put in place a predictable policy that allows access to capital for renewable energy in the same manner oil, gas, and coal have operated for decades.

“Looking toward 2013 and beyond, the extension of the wind energy tax credits will allow for the continued growth of cost-competitive wind energy in the United States. However, additional certainty around federal policy will set the stage for long-term growth, especially because stable, predictable policy creates increased efficiencies within the industry.

“Clean energy and economic opportunity are not partisan issues. Bi-partisan efforts to create a more predictable federal policy will enable First Wind and other renewable energy companies around the country to invest millions of dollars of investment in local communities over the next few years.  As the President said [this week], his primary goal is to put in place policies that will create jobs and invest in our nation.  A predictable federal policy will translate into jobs, new sources of revenue for towns and communities, and new sources of clean energy at a competitive price for consumers."

If you’d like to watch the SOTU again, you can do so right here:

7 Responses To Obama’s 2013 State Of The Union Address 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.

Hydrogen Fuel Network In London Expands

Posted: 15 Feb 2013 04:10 AM PST

A fully integrated hydrogen fuel network in London has moved a step closer with the announcement of new fuel stations and the roll-out of the 700 bar delivery system required by manufacturers to existing stations.

The current hydrogen fuel stations at Heathrow Airport and in Bedfordshire, north of London, will be upgraded, and two new hydrogen fuel stations are to be built, one of which will be in central London.

Transport for London’s main hydrogen fuel station will also be upgraded, giving further support to the city’s plan to increase the number of hydrogen buses it runs.  A fleet of hydrogen-fuelled Hyundai cars and Revolve vans will be deployed to test the hydrogen fuel network on a day-to-day basis.

The announcement builds on London’s “hydrogen highway” and comes after major vehicle manufacturers announced hydrogen fuel cars would be available from 2014, with Ford, Nissan, and Daimler aiming to have affordable hydrogen-powered cars on sale by 2017.

London already has an impressive diesel/electric hybrid bus network, with over 300 already in operation and a further 600 due for delivery by April 2013, as well as nearly 1,000 electric car charge points already available.

The city is also moving ahead with plans to convert 25% of its electricity generation to renewable sources by 2025.  This includes the installation of a 300kW/300kW electricity/heat hydrogen power station in the heart of the City of London, which will be online by the end of 2014.

There are also plans to bring resilience to the city’s essential systems through the deployment of ten smaller hydrogen fuel cell generator as a backups.

Hydrogen Fuel Network In London Expands 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.

Record Year For California Third-Party Home Solar Leases

Posted: 15 Feb 2013 03:10 AM PST

Having home solar panels installed by leasing them from third parties has grown like wildfire in the US, particularly in states with their own government incentive programs. On February 13, Sunrun, a pioneer in third-party solar leasing, and solar photovoltaic (PV) market data provider PV Solar Report, announced that third-party-owned solar pumped more than $938 million into California’s economy in 2012, a record-high annual amount equal to that of all the previous five years combined.

Third-party solar energy system leases now account for nearly three-quarters (74%) of California’s residential solar market, according to Sunrun and PV Solar. A market research report released last August revealed that solar leasing had added more than $1 billion to California’s economy since being introduced in 2007.

Photo credit: GRID Alternatives

Photo Credit: GRID Alternatives

The California state government has put together one of the most proactive and ambitious packages of home solar energy incentives in the nation (if not the most proactive and ambitious). Spurred ahead by the California Solar Initiative (CSI), or the "One Million Solar Roofs" program, solar power generation capacity breached a major milestone, crossing the 1 gigawatt (GW) installed solar power generation capacity mark.

Having a home solar energy system installed via third-party leasing makes a significant dent in the upfront cost of having one installed, with providers in some states even offering zero-down financing. That’s driving uptake of solar PV across a much broader base of the US population, low- and median-income households in particular. Two-thirds of home solar installations are now occurring in low- and median-income neighborhoods, according to a July 2012 assessment from the California Solar Initiative (CSI), Sunrun, and PV Solar.

"Solar service is bringing solar to more American families not only because it eliminates the upfront cost, but also because it removes the hassles of ownership," Sunrun co-CEO Lynn Jurich was quoted in the press release. "Homeowners feel the impact of a tight economy and are looking for ways to own less in order to save more money. Our business model meets those needs, plus it helps the planet."

The numbers speak for themselves.

"Nearly 75% of homeowners who went solar in 2012 chose third-party-owned, compared to 56% in 2011," founder and managing director of PV Solar Report Stephen Torres highlighted. "We are seeing the most growth in low and median-income zip codes as companies like Sunrun continue to remove the barriers to access."

Earlier this week, Greentech Media (GTM) released research that found that third-party-financed home solar installations made up more than 50% of new capacity in Arizona, California, Colorado, and Massachusetts. The third-party leasing business model is also gaining market share in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas, Vermont, and Washington, according to GTM.

Drilling down into the data, PV Solar and Sunrun compiled a list of California’s "Top Solar Cities for 2012":

  1. San Diego
  2. San Jose
  3. Bakersfield
  4. Los Angeles
  5. Fresno
  6. San Francisco
  7. Corona
  8. Murrieta
  9. Clovis
  10. Temecula

An executive summary of the Sunrun-PV Solar report is available online.

Record Year For California Third-Party Home Solar Leases 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.

NEC And Acea To Provide Energy Storage Systems For Rome Smart Grid Project

Posted: 15 Feb 2013 02:10 AM PST

NEC Italia, which is a subsidiary of NEC Europe, and Acea Spa, an Italian utility serving the Rome metropolitan area, have announced an agreement to develop innovative lithium-ion battery storage systems to be implemented in Acea’s primary and secondary power substations.

NEC Smart Grid. Photo Credit: It.Nec.com.

NEC Smart Grid. Image Credit: It.Nec.com.

This agreement was signed in December 2012, and it signifies the start of a major partnership between Acea and NEC.

NEC will provide two energy storage systems which will play a key role in Acea’s smart grid project. One of the systems can provide 180 kW of power and store 100 kWh of energy. The other can provide 100 kW of power and store 50 kWh of energy.

The 100kWh system will serve as am emergency backup power source in the event of a power outage. The 50kWh system will be coupled with Acea’s mid-voltage electricity grid and PV solar power plant to improve service quality and compensate for power fluctuations.

“NEC is proud to partner with a visionary company like Acea, who understands the importance of Smart Grids for successfully meeting the demands of utility companies as well as reducing environmental burdens,” said Ugo Govigli, Vice President, Smart Grid Solutions, NEC Europe.

“These ESS were designed entirely by the NEC EMEA Energy competence center which was established in Italy in 2011. We expect these developments to pave the way into new energy market segments throughout EMEA.”

“This is an exciting step forward for Smart Grid design, especially in consideration of the complex energy distribution network of the Rome metropolitan area,” said Marco Staderini, CEO, Acea.

“Our company is fully committed to maintaining and improving the superior quality of its electric power services. For this reason, we are working with highly qualified partners like NEC, who is able to meet our requirements for the Smart Grid project from both energy and ICT perspectives.”

Source: Altenergymag.com

NEC And Acea To Provide Energy Storage Systems For Rome Smart Grid Project 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.

GE Wind Tops List Of Wind Turbine Manufacturers In Global Market

Posted: 15 Feb 2013 01:10 AM PST

US-based GE Wind topped the list as 2012′s top wind turbine manufacturer, according to a new report.

According to preliminary data from B&M Navigant’s World Market Update 2012, GE leapfrogged past second place Danish company Vestas, largely on the mad dash to complete projects (helping GE Capture 15% of the global market last year) before the Production Tax Credit was originally set to expire by December, 31, 2012. Fortunately, the credit was extended for another year in January.

Image of wind farm via Shutterstock

Image of wind farm via Shutterstock

Siemens was number three, up six spots from 2011. Enercon moved up one spot to fourth, and rounding out the top five was the Suzlon Group, up from sixth the prior year. Meanwhile, Spanish company Gamesa fell out of the top five, thanks to wind moratorium concerns within its own borders.

Perhaps most surprising was that, despite the strength of China as a leader in wind energy, and having four of its top companies in the top ten (United Power, Goldwind, Sinovel, and Mingyang), none of them were in the top five.

While GE’s move up the wind turbine market ladder was positive for the company, Vestas lost the top spot for the first time since 2000 and must not be happy about that.

An analyst in Bloomberg recently had this to say on Vestas losing the number one spot, and who they should be watching over their shoulder:

"It's been part of their identity at Vestas that they're the biggest in the world," said Jacob Pedersen, an analyst at Sydbank A/S in Aabenraa, Denmark. "From a Vestas point of view I would fear Siemens a lot more than GE. Siemens is more global in their reach. GE is extremely dependent on the U.S. Market."

Siemens had some solid market gains globally, including a 270-megawatt order from Australia last August, as well as announcing a new Turkish wind power plant in October.

With total wind capacity increasing by 20% globally in 2012, will turbine manufacturers like GE Wind benefit thanks to firm US Growth? Will China see one of their own companies crack the top five within the next few years, like its solar counterparts? Will Vestas regain the top spot after one disappointing year? No one knows, but these are definitely interesting times in the global wind market.

Main Source: BusinessWire

GE Wind Tops List Of Wind Turbine Manufacturers In Global Market 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.

Smart Domestic Appliances (VIDEO)

Posted: 15 Feb 2013 12:10 AM PST

As noted in previous posts in this series, the renewable energy graduate student who got me to go give a guest lecture to his class on renewable energy also recently passed along some useful videos on different types of clean technology. Below is the sixth video we’re sharing, which is on the topic of smart domestic appliances.

For more videos in this series, check out our Leonardo Energy archives.

Smart Domestic Appliances (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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