Friday, February 22, 2013

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Link to CleanTechnica

Clean Energy Powers Up North Carolina’s Economy

Posted: 21 Feb 2013 07:00 AM PST

It may seem ironic for a state that enacted a ban on sea level rise, but renewable energy is powering up North Carolina's economy by attracting investment, creating jobs, and lowering utility bills.

These findings come from a new study, "Economic, Utility Portfolio, and Rate Impact of Clean Energy Development in North Carolina," commissioned by the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association (NCSEA).

Renewables and energy efficiency have made the state a beacon among Southern  economies by creating tens of thousands of new jobs, saving millions of megawatt hours (MWh) of energy, and generating billions in state revenue since 2007.

Three key state policies have driven this growth according to NCSEA – the state's Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS), which requires utilities to generate 12.5% of retail sales from renewables or efficiency measure by 2021; a 35% renewable energy tax credit; and the Utility Savings Initiative, which supports energy efficiency projects in public buildings.

Big Government And Ratepayer Savings

The biggest winner in North Carolina's clean energy surge seems to be the bottom line – for both government and ratepayers. Between 2007 and 2012, the entire state saved an estimated 8.2 million MWh of energy, roughly equal with annual electricity consumption for the 1.3 million people living in Charlotte, Raleigh, and Fayetteville.

During that same five-year period, energy efficiency measures saved government entities $427 million dollars, while every dollar invested in tax incentives returned $1.87 in state or local revenue. And, by 2026 the state's clean energy transition will save electricity customers $173 million more than they would have paid if the three driving policies weren't in place.

Surging Investments Generate Green Jobs

The clean energy transition is also generating serious economic benefits. Investment in renewables and energy efficiency has increased 13-fold since 2007, creating $1.7 billion in direct benefits and $2.56 billion in associated spending across the state's economy. Unsurprisingly, solar power hit grid parity last year in several regions.

While North Carolina's Research Triangle has become a Silicon Valley for smart grid technology, the clean energy wave has spilled across the state. Over $100 million of new investment has occurred in three counties each – Davidson, Robeson, and Person – not to mention new plans for the largest solar farm east of the Mississippi River.

All this investment has created thousands of good jobs while the economy has slowed. North Carolina saw a net gain of 21,162 job years since 2007 from clean energy development, during the same period the state lost 100,000 overall jobs.

Indeed, NCSEA's 2012 Clean Energy Industries Census estimated over 15,200 full-time green jobs existed at 1,100 companies across 86 of the state's 100 counties, with those companies generating $3.7 billion in annual revenue.

A Bright Spot In Slow Southern Economies?

Taken as a whole, the transition to a clean energy future has become an economic driver for the Tar Heel state, and is "positioning North Carolina's clean energy industry as a top national and global competitor," said Ivan Urlaub, NCSEA Executive Director. "These policies are making all North Carolina industries more cost competitive and keeping more money in our state economy."

Clean Energy Powers Up North Carolina’s Economy 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.

Chattanooga Bike-Sharing Pilot Program A Big Success

Posted: 21 Feb 2013 06:00 AM PST

The Chattanooga Bicycle Transit System, launched last July, has performed very well during its first 6 months, providing over 12,600 rides. This resulted in a roughly 8,100-pound reduction in emissions in the city. Because of the program’s success so far, three new stations will be opening up in the spring.

20130219-004646.jpg

At first glance, the sprawling city of Chattanooga, Tennessee, doesn’t look like a good place to build a bike-sharing program. Without a strong culture of biking in place before the program, it has nonetheless been quite successful, fulfilling the goals set out by the planners: getting a lot of people to begin bicycling, improving air quality/getting vehicles off the road, and helping to improve peoples’ health.

A lot of the program’s success is probably down to the planning — studies on bike-sharing in the city began back in 2007. Based on surveys done during that time, more than 75% of residents expressed some interest in the program.

"We felt fairly confident that people would try this," Chattanooga Bike Coordinator Philip Pugliese said. "We're pretty happy, all things considered."


 
The system currently consists of “30 stations and 300 bikes dispersed around a 2.5-square mile area of downtown,” Streetsblog DC notes.

There are currently many other similarly sized cities looking to roll out bike-sharing programs similar to Chattanooga’s within the next couple of years. These include Bridgeport, Connecticut; Portland, Maine; and Fort Collins, Colorado. Such programs, if well designed, can be very effective at reducing air pollution, taking cars off the road, and improving the general health of the population.

Source: Streetsblog

Image Credit: Bike Chattanooga

Chattanooga Bike-Sharing Pilot Program A Big Success 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.

LightSail Gets $5.5 Million For Compressed Air Energy Storage

Posted: 21 Feb 2013 05:30 AM PST

LightSail Energy, a utility-scale energy storage company, has obtained $5.5 million from investors to fund its compressed air energy storage (CAES) project in the second closing of its $37.3 million Round D.

LightSail CAES Concept. Image obtained from LightSail Energy.

LightSail CAES Concept. Image obtained from LightSail Energy.

The investors include Bill Gates; Peter Thiel, an early Facebook investor and co-founder of Paypal; Total, a very large French energy company; Innova Corp; and Khosla Ventures.

Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, is definitely interested in alternative energy (including nuclear), but Peter Thiel flat-out said at one point that cleantech venture capital is a “disaster” and that alternative energy startup companies are wasting taxpayers’ money.

I mentioned his comments on alternative energy because energy storage is particularly important to wind and solar. It enables them to be deployed in a more economical manner if cheap enough.

Thiel’s comments against cleantech investment are apparently a thing of the past, though. Peter Thiel has come around to fund this CAES company, which aims to improve the efficiency of compressed air energy storage systems.

Compressed air energy storage systems store energy by using it to compress air in a tank, which can then be released so that it rushes through a generator to re-acquire it. LightSail said that the thermal efficiency of compressed air energy storage systems can be improved from 60% to 90% using the startup’s alternative concept.

Thermal efficiency is defined as how much of the energy that was supplied to the system was actually stored, rather than wasted as heat.

LightSail’s concept sprays water into an air tank to cool the hot, compressed air, since the water will absorb its heat, and then that warmed water is transferred to a tank for storage. The warm water is then used to reheat the compressed air to increase its pressure, and hence increase power production when it is needed.

A 50 litre (13 gallon) tank is required to store 1 kWh of energy. This has a volumetric energy density well below that of all the batteries on the market (in other words, it is bigger). However, U.S. Energy Information Administration studies have shown that compressed air energy storage is cheaper than batteries.

Source: Greentech Media

LightSail Gets $5.5 Million For Compressed Air Energy Storage 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 Electric Vehicle, Get Cheap Solar Power (Honda & SolarCity Team Up)

Posted: 21 Feb 2013 05:14 AM PST

Now that the dust has settled on the Tesla vs. New York Times battlefield, weren’t we just saying that electric vehicles are selling quite well? That’s partly because car manufacturers are pulling out all the stops to get a foothold in the EV market before the competition really heats up. In the latest maneuver, Honda has teamed with solar energy leader SolarCity to offer cheap solar power to eligible customers. They promise a utility bill for solar power that is less than the rate for grid-supplied energy, and that applies to Acura customers, too.

Honda offers free solar panels to eligible customersCheap Solar Power Less than Grid, Seriously?

If this sounds too good to be true, it gets better. The deal includes a rooftop solar panel installation, covering all costs in addition to the panels themselves. That’s important because the “soft costs” of solar power account for at least half the cost of a typical solar installation.

There is nothing particularly unusual about the new Honda/SolarCity arrangement, by the way. It’s basically a power purchase agreement (PPA), which is becoming a common way to finance solar installations.

PPA’s are designed to overcome one huge obstacle, and that is the up-front cost of installing solar panels. In a typical PPA, the property owner pays little or nothing up front for the solar installation. They pay only for the electricity it generates, at an agreed-upon rate for a set period of time. Typically, the solar installer continues to own, operate and maintain the system for that period.

To be clear, the hardware and soft costs are absorbed by the installer, but paying for the power generated by the installation is still the property owner’s responsibility (in other words, there’s no such thing as a free lunch, but there are such things as more sustainable lunches).

As with typical PPA’s, the Honda/SolarCity offer includes insurance as well as maintenance, repair and monitoring during the agreed-upon period.

Wait, Solar Power that’s Cheaper than Grid-Supplied Energy?

As an incentive to draw property owners into the PPA market, solar installers typically offer an electricity rate that is lower than the rate they would pay for grid-supplied energy.

Honda is offering its (and Acura’s) customers two variations on that theme. Customers who qualify for the deal can either pre-pay for the solar electricity, or they can pay at a monthly rate that is lower than their utility bill.

Honda and SolarCity partnered up to form a $65 million investment fund to finance the arrangement, which covers dealerships as well as customers located within SolarCity’s 14-state service area. The investment fund also covers weatherization and other energy efficiency upgrades for customers and dealerships (more details at hondasolarcity.com).

On Beyond Free Solar Panels

If all this is starting to ring a bell, that’s because other EV manufacturers are starting to look at the solar power market as one big, juicy incentive to lure in new customers.

The idea is that electricity gives car owners the power to manipulate their car’s energy consumption in ways that liquid-fuel car owners can only dream about.

Using rooftop solar panels to offset your EV’s electricity consumption with sustainable energy is just part of the deal. EV owners also have the potential to reverse the energy equation and use their car battery to power their property.

For starters, EV owners can take advantage of the off-peak rates to charge up their cars when electricity is cheaper, and then use that same stored, cheap electricity to power their property during peak demand periods when rates are higher.


When connected with smart meters and smart grid technologies, that also enables fleets of EV owners to help smooth out local energy spikes, which in turn helps reduce the need to build big, expensive new power plants to cover peak demand.

In that regard, Ford’s MyEnergi Lifestyle EV package beats Honda to the punch, at least for now. Launched last year, the package treats EVs as yet another major home appliance that integrates seamlessly with other home appliances and renewable energy systems, helped along by mobile communications and wireless connectivity.

Image (cropped): Money sign by 401(K) 2013

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Buy An Electric Vehicle, Get Cheap Solar Power (Honda & SolarCity Team Up) 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.

How A City Can Get More Clean, Local Energy

Posted: 21 Feb 2013 05:00 AM PST

Like many cities attempting to solve climate change at a local level, Minneapolis is finding the prospect more challenging that it may have imagined. The lion’s share of emissions (two-thirds in the case of Minneapolis) come from electricity and gas sold by two monopoly, corporate utilities. Minnesota’s state-level policy is helping: a renewable energy standard pushes the electric utility to 30% clean energy by 2020 and a conservation standard aims to reduce the growth in energy consumption. But state (and federal) policies aren’t enough, and Minneapolis has had no leverage to force its utilities to de-carbonize.

But an opportunity is coming soon.

In a short time, the city's “franchise” contracts with its electric and gas utility will expire, giving the city a once-in-20-years chance to negotiate new terms for its energy services. These contracts are largely focused on right-of-way agreements, discussing an annual payment to city coffers in exchange utility use of city right-of-way to deliver energy services (in other words, payments for poles and wires in the alleys). But the contracts need not be limited to such mundane matters, especially when the city has a commitment to a climate-safe future and a populace strongly supportive of more clean, local energy. Already, the city’s franchise working group – a select four city council members – is examining alternatives to the status quo, options for energy services that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

But there’s a catch. State law gives the utilities a monopoly on serving Minneapolis customers, regardless of their interest in negotiation. In other words, there’s not much incentive for Xcel Energy or CenterPoint Energy to talk turkey with Minneapolis when their citizens are a captive audience.

That’s the motivation behind Minneapolis Energy Options, giving the city an option and giving residents and businesses a choice for more control over their energy future. To do it, the city needs to put a municipal utility on the ballot this fall. If passed, it would authorize the city to create a municipal utility but only if it could be cleaner, more affordable, more reliable, and generate more local energy than the incumbent utilities. (see the video below for more about Minneapolis Energy Options).

It’s been done before, in Boulder, Colorado. After many years of fruitless negotiation with their monopoly electric utility (Xcel Energy, by coincidence), citizens in Boulder narrowly approved authorization of a city-owned utility in fall 2011. It hasn’t closed the door to negotiation; in fact, Xcel continues to ply the city with alternatives to forgo losing tens of thousands of customers and millions in profits. The utility’s motivation should not be lost on Minneapolis or other cities with an eye on meeting ambitious climate and energy goals:

If you want investor-owned, for profit, monopoly utilities to work on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, they need a financial incentive. And there’s no better incentive than losing customers.

In the next two years, Minneapolis will have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to take charge of its energy future in its utility franchise negotiations. But it’s only likely to make a difference if they have options on the table. Here’s hoping city council gives citizens that chance.

How A City Can Get More Clean, Local Energy 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.

Tesla Motors Expects Small Profit In Q1 Of 2013; Reports $306 Million Revenue In Q4 Of 2012

Posted: 21 Feb 2013 04:43 AM PST

Tesla Motors expects to make a small profit in the first quarter of 2013, with the critically acclaimed Model S especially helping to move EV company slowly into profitable territory.

Green Car Congress notes that Tesla’s 2012 fourth quarter revenues were $306 million, a whopping 500% increase from the third quarter of 2011. The increase in revenue was due to firm demand for the Model S, which won Motor Trend‘s 2013 Car of the Year, with Motor Trend writing, “By any measure, the Tesla Model S is a truly remarkable automobile.”

Image Credit: Tesla Model S via Flickr (Some Rights Reserved)

Image Credit: Tesla Model S via Flickr (Some Rights Reserved)

Solid orders to Toyota from their RAV4 EV program (which uses Tesla technology) provided some further underlying support in the fourth quarter.

Fourth quarter total gross margin’s advanced to 8%, compared to -17% in the third quarter. Tesla attributed much of the increase to higher production in the Model S, as CEO Elon Musk and CFO Deepak Ahuja noted:

Since we are now producing cars at steady state production, we have shifted our focus to cost reduction. As a result, the cost of producing Model S is beginning to decline. Our operations in 2013 are already more efficient compared to Q4, as we continue to stabilize and improve the production process. In addition, further cost reduction efforts undertaken by both us and our suppliers will continue to reduce costs in Q1 and in upcoming quarters. Consequently, we expect gross margin to continue to improve towards our 25% target by year-end.

Overall, 2012 Q4 saw net losses after accounting rules of $90 million (or close to $70 million before accounting rules).

Complete 2012 revenues were $413.3 million, which was double 2011 levels of $204.2. Most of the revenue – $385.7 million — came from automobile sales. 12 million in total development services revenue, thanks to various projects through the Mercedes-Benz B-Class EV program, helped shore up further revenue for the EV car maker. Total net losses in 2012 after accounting rules were $396.2 million, and $344.2 million before.

While Tesla has faced lots of challenges in getting towards the black ink, it looks like it’s finally starting to head in the right direction, thanks to the Model S. For those Tesla haters out there, they should consider the company is fairly new in terms of automobile manufacturers (only in business since 2003). That is only ten years, not a long time to start competing with conventional car companies like GM, Ford, Toyota, and Nissan.

Tesla has the advantage of infrastructure (compared to twenty or thirty years ago) and new technology, which helps make electric vehicles more commercially viable. Web-based technologies, like its recent mobile app for the Model S, are giving more consumers more convenience, thus helping Tesla in the car market.

With 20,000 Model S cars set to hit the market in 2013, it will likely be a big year for the company. Can Tesla keep the upward momentum up? With a loyal support base, I’d say that: expect it to grow even more, driving towards long-term financial sustainability and profit.

Tesla Motors Expects Small Profit In Q1 Of 2013; Reports $306 Million Revenue In Q4 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.

The Hotel Which Floats On Sand

Posted: 21 Feb 2013 04:30 AM PST

Hidden away in the Gobi Desert is “the bay of sand”, Xiangshawan.  It’s a popular tourist destination for China’s newly rich adrenaline junkies, with huge dunes making it is a perfect playground for driving Jeeps and quad bikes at reckless speeds.

lotus hotel in the sand

However it’s also 500 miles from Beijing and has relentlessly shifting sands. To make life even more challenging the average temperature shifts from 85°F in the summer to 2°F in the winter (sand dunes in the snow are a beautiful sight!) and can alter by over 20°F in one day .

This is what faced PLaT architects when they started designing the Lotus Hotel, another green hotel for the future.  They threw away all the unsustainable bricks and concrete which blight most new developments and brought in materials and techniques to support low carbon construction, whilst using the local resources to produce a genuinely low impact hotel.

An ingenious skeleton distributes the hotel’s weight through its walls, rather than directly onto its floors, while underneath a system of containers allows the sand to move under and around the hotel while it stays in a relatively fixed position.

Embedded within the structure are a number of cutting edge solar, wind and water generation technologies which provide power and heating by maximizing the energy generating potential of the temperature variations.

In addition, the tiered nature of the building allows it to provide natural shading whilst its roofs are shaped to gather dew, snow and rainwater and channel it into the building’s water system.  This cleans and circulates as much waste water as possible meaning the hotel is a fully self sufficient system for both water and energy.

The hotel itself is only the first step for Xiangshawan and PLaT architects.  The entire area is now under development using the same ecologically friendly template to create a low carbon, zero-impact luxury holiday retreat in the desert.

Getting the resources to build this will be relatively easy: less than an hour’s travel away is the industrial town of Baotou, whose Bayan Obo mines produce nearly half of the world’s rare earth metals.

Which could provide the “why” behind building this development in the first place.  As rare earth metals become more and more important Baotou is likely to attract both visitors and a more highly paid workforce.  Perhaps this will eventually turn into another city in the sand, maybe even the Chinese equivalent of a cleantech Silicon Valley like Masdar.  Only time will tell.

lotus hotel in the sand snow

All pictures courtesy of PLaT architects / XiangSW.com

 

The Hotel Which Floats On Sand was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

Solar Number Fun (VIDEO)

Posted: 21 Feb 2013 04:00 AM PST

Check out the staggering solar facts in this Clean Power Research video:

Time to go solar, much?

Solar Number Fun (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.

Envision Plans To Install 2,300 Rotating Solar Tree Car Shelters In South Carolina

Posted: 21 Feb 2013 03:30 AM PST

According to Inhabitat, roughly 160 billion square feet of land have been paved and used just as parking lots for cars. Envision plans to use some of this space to accommodate solar panels structures called solar tree car shelters. Is this wasting even more space? Not quite.

Solar Panel Shaded Parking Area - From Shutterstock

Parking Lot Shaded by Solar Panels. Image obtained from Shutterstock.

The solar tree shelters are using the little extra spaces between parked vehicles for towers that the solar panels are then mounted on, so the solar panels themselves are not wasting space — the only space is required for the narrow towers, which aren’t even three feet wide.

The solar panels also provide shade for the cars in the parking lot, enabling their interiors to last longer, and also enabling their passengers to avoid being burnt by accumulated heat while waiting for the AC to cool things off.

This is reminiscent of the fact that solar panels are the only type of generators that can be utilized in such a way that they use literally no land, because they can be installed anywhere, including on unused roof space, walls, windows, and even in paint if you factor in prototype technology.

Solar panels can be the most space-efficient generators of all — not even nuclear power plants can be as space-efficient.

The solar trees are equipped with trackers that track the sun to optimize performance. They each shade six cars, and can charge six electric vehicles at a time.

The 2,300 trees, which are to be installed through collaboration with Horizon Energy Group, are to generate 35 MW of electricity.

Source: Inhabitat

Envision Plans To Install 2,300 Rotating Solar Tree Car Shelters In South 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.

Daylight Harvesting In New York City Could Save 160 Megawatts

Posted: 21 Feb 2013 03:00 AM PST

New York City could benefit substantially from the incorporation of daylight harvesting systems into its most easily-retrofittable office buildings, reducing peak electricity demand by up to 160 megawatts, according to a recent study by Green Light New York. The use of daylight to cut back on electricity usage, in appropriate buildings, would save tenants and building owners in the city an estimated $70 million dollars annually.

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Greentech Media’s Katherine Tweed writes:

“New York City has the largest concentration of office space in the U.S. by far, about 542 million square feet, compared to 110 million square feet in Chicago. New York also has an advantage in that nearly half of the current office space was built prior to 1950, when buildings were still largely dependent on daylight and natural ventilation, according to the report.”

A large proportion of these older buildings, and also the newer ones built after 1980, could easily incorporate daylight harvesting, with the total easily retrofitted office space area being about 152 million square feet.

“It also helps that the city’s utility, Con Ed, could be increasing its rebate offerings for LED lights, which are inherently controllable and work well with daylighting systems,” Tweed adds.

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While there are many benefits to daylight harvesting in New York City, perhaps the most beneficial is the effect that it would have on peak electricity demand during the summer, working to greatly cut down on energy usage then.

Green Light New York is currently developing several proof-of-concept pilot projects in New York that are expected to run through 2014. These should serve to demonstrate the buildings that will benefit the most through the adoption of daylight harvesting.

Image Credits: Green Light New York

Daylight Harvesting In New York City Could Save 160 Megawatts was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

Geothermal Could Provide 40% Of Glasgow’s Heat

Posted: 21 Feb 2013 02:30 AM PST

Glasgow is Scotland’s largest city with nearly 600,000 people. Recently, scientists have stated that 40% of Glasgow’s heating needs could come from geothermal power located in local abandoned coal mine shafts. There are many such mines throughout the country, and some of them are located deep enough below ground level that they have accumulated water. This water is warm enough it can be pumped up to heat buildings and homes.

Image Credit: Kim Traynor, Wiki Commons

Image Credit: Kim Traynor, Wiki Commons

The British Geological Survey has helped map the collection of mine shafts described as extensive, in order to identify which ones contain the warmer bodies of water. Fifty meters has been referenced as a potentially feasible depth, because the shallower mines may be unstable, and it is necessary to go deep enough to find water warm enough to use.

“At these levels, the temperature doesn't tend to vary with the seasons. You don't have to go very deep into the ground to find water with a temperature that remains stable all year round,” explained Glasgow Caledonian University researcher Bjørn Aaen. (Source: Science Omega)

Installing a heat pump in the UK can cost £10,000-£15,000 per home, which may be too expensive for many, but for larger buildings they can be more economical because they provide heat for more people and can do so for twenty to twenty-five years. Heat pumps are already popular in Sweden, so the technology is well-known and proven.

Scotland has aggressive renewable energy goals – 50% of its electricity by 2015, and 100% by 2020.

These goals are not only aggressive, they are also exciting and one could argue it is necessary to generate some excitement around moving away from fossil fuels to make the transition more feasible, because we all need to change if we are going to reduce the impact of climate change on all species.

Having such a large portion of Glasgow’s heat provided by a renewable source would most likely be a very good of way demonstrating the benefits of geothermal energy, when solar and wind seem to be getting most of the press. Geothermal seems to suffer due to the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ problem, but it is a better renewable energy source, depending on where it is located and how it is developed.

Geothermal Could Provide 40% Of Glasgow’s Heat 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.

Wireless Power Transmission Developed For High-Capacity Transit, Begins Large-Scale Use On High-Speed Rail In September

Posted: 21 Feb 2013 02:00 AM PST

A completely wireless power transmission technology capable of powering high-capacity transport (such as high-speed rail, harbor freight, and airport transportation) has been developed by the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and the Korea Railroad Research Institute (KRRI). It is able to supply a steady and constant 60 kHz and 180 kW of power remotely.

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The technology has already been showcased to the public on the railroad tracks at Osong Station in Korea. “Originally, this technology was developed as part of an electric vehicle system introduced by KAIST in 2011 known as the On-line Electric Vehicle (OLEV),” KAIST writes. “OLEV does not need to be parked at a charging station to have a fully powered battery. It gets charged while running, idling, and parking, enabling a reduction in size of the reserve battery down to one-fifth of the battery on board a regular electric car.”

The first models of OLEV are a bus and a tram, which receive 20 kHz and 100 kW of power “at an 85% transmission efficiency rate while maintaining a 20cm air gap between the underbody of vehicle and the road surface.” In only a couple of months, in July 2013, OLEV will be put to the test on a regular road for the first time.

Read more over on EVObsession: Wireless Power Transmission For Transit, Trains, Harbor Freight, Etc.

Image Credit: KAIST

Wireless Power Transmission Developed For High-Capacity Transit, Begins Large-Scale Use On High-Speed Rail In September 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.

China Reaches 50 GW Of Connected Grid Wind Capacity; Expected To Top 140 GW By 2015

Posted: 21 Feb 2013 01:30 AM PST

China advanced past 50 gigawatts (GW) of on-grid/connected wind power capacity in 2012, and this is expected to grow a further 40% by the end of 2013.

GTM Media Research and Azure International in their China Wind Market Quarterly for the fourth quarter of 2012 said the emerging market country is on target this year to add another 18 GW of installed grid connected wind capacity.

Some of the underlying strength seen in the Chinese wind market is due to recent government action to help solve some of the domestic wind industry concerns. This included revamping surcharge revenue and pre-appropriating funding this year.

"China's wind industry retains its leadership position worldwide, whether looking at policy targets, overall installation numbers or innovation," said co-author of the report Anders Hove.

"Fully understanding the world's largest wind energy market requires an in-depth understanding of complex issues, and that's why this report is timely. We need to understand the reasons for interconnection delays, develop an expectation for future curtailment, and look province by province at the cash flow issues created by slow disbursement of renewable energy surcharge funds," he said.

Meanwhile, based on report projections, China will reach 140 GW of installed capacity by 2015, far exceeding expectations in 2011 of 100 GW.

In 2012 alone, China had nearly 35% of new wind power installations, virtually neck and neck with the United States to take top the spot, according to the Global Wind Energy Council’s 2012 report.

To see just how fast China’s wind energy industry has grown so far this century, we can look back and see that China only had 5.9 GW of installed capacity in 2007. Meanwhile, by 2020, China is expected to have nearly 250 GW of installed capacity. That would represent over 42 times the 2007 installed capacity.

However, rapid growth for China’s wind sector should become more levelled out in the years to come, as the industry should see more linear growth, the report said.

Will China be able to keep up its strength and reach the 250 GW installed capacity mark by the end of the decade? It would not be surprising if that target is reached before the start of 2020. Maybe the only question left to ask is whether it will it happen sooner or later.

Main Source: Greentech Media

China Reaches 50 GW Of Connected Grid Wind Capacity; Expected To Top 140 GW By 2015 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.

The “Value Of Solar” Could Be Worth Much More Than Austin Energy Pays

Posted: 21 Feb 2013 01:00 AM PST

I recently wrote a long post on the idea of using a “value of solar” policy instead of various types of government incentives for solar. Much of that post was based on research conducted by Clean Power Research for Austin Energy — so that Austin Energy could implement a Value of Solar policy (which it now uses). As I stated at the time, however, the value that is placed on solar depends on what assumptions you use — in particular, what benefits you include. I’ve now noticed that Clean Power Research has actually performed a handful of value-of-solar studies, and in the ones conducted for the Mid-Atlantic Solar Energy Industries Association (MSEIA) and the Pennsylvania Solar Energy Industries Association (PASEIA), it included several additional societal benefits provided by solar PV power. Check out this post below on the differences between those two studies and the Austin Energy study, as well as another summary of this policy concept and a summary of much more widespread net metering.

Valuing solar: A matter of perspective

2012 has seen a backlash against distributed generation net metering, particularly solar distributed generation. Most utilities in most states currently have some form of net metering, which is a simple mechanism for assigning a value to distributed generation that is physically connected to a load center like a home or commercial building. With net metering, typically a bi-directional meter is installed that spins backward when excess electricity is generated, and forward when drawing energy from the grid.

Utilities with a high penetration of distributed generation, such as Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), have begun to push-back, claiming that net metering is unfair to utilities and rate payers. In some cases, the utilities believe they are paying too much for the electricity; in others, they believe they are unfairly penalized by the compensation mechanisms of utility regulation. David Rubin from PG&E recently made the utility case against net metering eloquently in a guest post for Greentech Media, "PG&E Sees a Bright Future for Rooftop Solar."

Clean Power Research has been an early leader in bringing objective analysis to the debate. In 2006, we conducted one of the first studies on the value of solar for the City of Austin and Austin Energy. In 2011 we extended this study, and that work led to the development of a dedicated tariff for distributed solar electricity in Austin, one of the first such tariffs of its kind in the United States.

As a result, in Austin, meters no longer spin backwards on homes with newly installed PV systems. Instead, there are two meters:

  1. The home meter, which generates a bill
  2. The PV meter, which produces a credit from the utility

In Austin, the solar system is credited for the electricity at more than 12 cents per kWh, higher than the average cost to the utility because solar produces power at the times of highest value.

Now for the perspective part. For those who have been following the value of solar discussion, you may have seen a recent report prepared by Clean Power Research for the Mid-Atlantic Solar Energy Industries Association (MSEIA) and the Pennsylvania Solar Energy Industries Association (PASEIA). In this report, we calculated the value of solar electricity to the grid at seven locations across New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

The result was a calculated value of solar that was significantly higher than the Austin Energy study, ranging from 25 to 32 cents per kWh. One might ask if the disparity is due to electricity rates that are much more expensive on the east coast. While the answer to that question is yes – there is a difference in electric rates – that is only part of the story.

In the MSEIA and PASEIA study, we were asked to take a 'societal perspective' in valuing solar, while in the Austin Energy work, we took a 'utility' or 'ratepayer perspective.' The societal perspective takes into account all of the value of the utility perspective, plus a number of values that may accrue to society in general, but not specifically to the utility or other ratepayers.

Most of the difference in the value of electricity in the two studies is represented by three factors that were included in the MSEIA/PASEIA study:

  1. Economic development value – the value of local jobs (primarily installation) created by solar.
  2. Environmental value – the value to the environment of replacing dirty generation (such as coal or gas) with cleaner generation.
  3. Market price reduction – the value to all consumers of lower electricity demand which leads to a lower market clearing price for all consumers.

For a full breakdown of the differences between the two studies, see the chart below.

Austin-Energy-and-MSEIA-Comparison

So which one is right? Well, they're both right when viewed from their unique perspectives. In the end, the concept of value is meaningless unless you specify value to whom. In this case, society might value solar electricity significantly more than an individual utility or ratepayer. The choice is left to the policy makers, particularly the public utilities commissions, to decide what perspective they want to take in their rate-making proceedings. Clean Power Research is founded on the principle of delivering objective research that is based on the best data and analytical tools available, and we'll continue in that tradition.

The "Value Of Solar" Could Be Worth Much More Than Austin Energy Pays 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.

Concentrated Photovoltaics (VIDEO)

Posted: 21 Feb 2013 12:10 AM PST

Continuing on with our daily series on Leonardo ENERGY videos, here are two videos on the topic of concentrated photovoltaics (CPV):

Concentrated Photovoltaics (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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