Friday, November 21, 2014

Alternative Clean Energy Roundup: 21 November 2014

Abu Dhabi Energy Company Aims for Solar-Powered Travel
NOV. 18, 2014 - Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company, is hosting the first attempt at a round-the-world flight by a solar-powered aircraft, due to start from the emirate in March.

The Solar Impulse experimental flight program is one of a slew of international projects in which Masdar has invested, reinforcing its status as a pioneer in solar energy innovation.

“We wanted to demonstrate the viability of this revolutionary clean technology,” said Ahmad Belhoul, who took over as chief executive of Masdar, a unit of Mubadala, the Abu Dhabi government’s investment arm, in March. “There have been successful internal flights, but the idea is to have global travel that is exclusively powered by solar energy.” read more>>>

Renewable energy could power 29 million US homes by 2030, new analysis finds
19 Nov 2014 - The US Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to curb carbon pollution from power plants overestimates the electric power industry’s compliance costs by as much as $9 billion, according to a Natural Resources Defense Council report published today.

Using current data, the report shows, the power sector and its customers could actually save nearly $2 billion in 2020 while meeting the EPA’s carbon reduction targets.

In its first detailed analysis of the agency’s Clean Power Plan, NRDC found that greater reliance on renewable sources of energy and on using energy more efficiently would produce substantial savings to the industry — and to its millions of customers. read more>>>

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China to Place Limit on Coal Use in 2020
NOV. 20, 2014 - China plans to set a cap on coal consumption in 2020, an important step for the country in trying to achieve a recently announced goal of having carbon dioxide emissions peak by around 2030.

The State Council, China’s cabinet, released details of an energy strategy late Wednesday that includes capping coal consumption at 4.2 billion tons in 2020 and having coal be no more than 62 percent of the primary energy mix by that year.

Worldwide, coal burning for industrial use is the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions, which are the biggest catalyst of global climate change. China is the biggest emitter of greenhouses gases in the world, and it uses as much coal each year as the rest of the world combined. read more>>>

Ask Arizona tribes: We need clean power
November 19, 2014 - As the governor of New Mexico for eight years, I understand the challenges facing Native American communities and in particular how climate change disproportionately affects these communities.

As a former U.S. Energy secretary, I also have an intimate understanding of the benefits and opportunities that accrue from policies that help us transition to cleaner sources of energy.

The Environmental Protection Agency unveiled its Clean Power Plan this year, the most significant policy to date for addressing carbon pollution from power plants, the primary cause of climate change in the U.S. read more>>>

Amazon Vows to Run on 100 Percent Renewable Energy
11.19.14 - Apple made the pledge. So did Google and Facebook. But Amazon stayed silent.

Over the past few years, Apple, Google, and Facebook pledged to run their online empires on renewable energy, and considering how large these empires have become—how many data centers and machines are now required to keep them going—this was a vital thing. But despite pressure from the likes of Greenpeace, the environmental activism organization, the other big internet name, Amazon, didn’t budge.

That all changed on Wednesday. With a post on its website, Amazon’s cloud computing division—Amazon Web Services—said it has a “long-term commitment to achieve 100 percent renewable energy usage for our global infrastructure footprint.” read more>>>

Report: ​Sacramento residential solar grew six fold in six years
Nov 19, 2014 - The capital region grew its residential solar capacity by six-fold over six years and eclipsed the rest of California in energy efficiency during the same time period, according to a new report by the nonprofit Next10 and consultancy firm Collaborative Economics.

Per capita energy efficiency for Sacramento-area residential homes improved six percent between 2006 and 2012, from 3.54 megawatt hours per person to 3.34 megawatt hours per person, according to the report's author. read more>>>

Affordable Solar Power Could Be Just One 3M Employee Away
Nov 13, 2014 - Those who happen to know one of the 40,000 3M workers across North America can now power down their own utility bills using 3M’s hefty discount on solar panels.

3M is expanding its revolutionary employee solar program to include friends and family, significantly broadening the number of homeowners across the U.S. and Canada who’ll be able to get solar at a reduced rate and take advantage of clean, renewable energy.

"We are so thrilled to give our friends and families the first opportunity on such a progressive initiative," said Gayle Schueller, 3M's vice president of global sustainability, who announced the program’s expansion before hundreds of attendees at the annual Net Impact sustainability conference this weekend in Minneapolis. "Employee feedback has been robust, and we are eager to share this tremendous benefit with others.” read more>>>

Burundi: Launch of the Green Economy Fund
14 November 2014 - On 30 October 2014, the Economic Community of Central African States established a Fund for a Green Economy in Kinshasa (DRC). The fund is meant to regulate the timber industry and protect biodiversity.

According to Remy Ndayishimiye, Communication Officer in the Ministry of Environment, Water, Land and Urban Planning, talk of a Green Economy Fund started at the Congo Basin partnership meeting in 2012. Banks, NGOs, public and private institutions came together to discuss how to protect Central African forests. "Different countries gathered in COMIFAC (the African Forests' Commission, ed.) realised that there wasn't any commitment towards the creation of a Green Economy fund", says Ndayishimiye. read more>>>

Jordanian authorities transform Amman into a green city
2014-11-14 - Efforts are under way in Jordan to transform the capital Amman into a green city and move the kingdom towards a green economy, officials told Al-Shorfa.

These efforts come as Amman takes on duties as one of the newest members of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, a network of the world's megacities committed to addressing climate change.

In October, Amman was named a member of the C40 Cities "in recognition of the measures the capital has adopted for improving the city's environment, infrastructure and public transport", The Jordan Times reported. read more>>>

Fukushima Radioactive Cesium Found Off California Coast
November 11, 2014 - In California waters for the first time, scientists have detected trace amounts of signature radioactive compounds from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident triggered by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami off Japan’s Pacific coast.

The radioactivity came from water samples collected and sent in August to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts for analysis by a group of volunteers on the research vessel Point Sur sailing between Dutch Harbor, Alaska, and Eureka, California.

Collected 100 miles (150 km) due west of Eureka, the water samples were found to contain the specific form of radioactivity released into the ocean by the nuclear meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi – cesium-134. read more>>>

Much maligned DOE energy loan program turning a profit
November 14, 2014 - When solar panel makers went bankrupt in 2011, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and President Obama were hit with massive criticism because of the agency's approval of $535 million in federal loan guarantees to Silicon Valley startup Solyndra, a solar panel maker with an unusual technology that found itself unable to compete in the market.

A few more bankruptcies followed. When Congress developed the Energy Policy Act of 2005, there was no intention for it to be a profitable program, and $10 billion was specifically dedicated because of the assumption that there would be failures. The program really got underway when Congress authorized considerable funding as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Despite the money set aside for failures, the criticism was intense and drawn out when some companies defaulted.

But to the surprise of many, the loan program is turning a profit. It was never dismantled or canceled, although it did go into hibernation mode following the bankruptcies. read more>>>

Open House Hosted for 'Green' Maplewood Fire and Police Station
11/14/2014 - The Maplewood Fire and Police Departments are inviting the public to come check out their new environmentally-friendly station during an open house Saturday.

The new station will replace Fire Station 1 on Century Avenue North and includes four apparatus bays, departmental offices, staff support spaces and a new police substation. Construction on the station began in April. read more>>>

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Alternative Clean Energy Roundup: 19 November 2014

Tiny Batteries Could Revolutionize Green Energy
Nanotechnology could dramatically improve energy storage for electronics, cars, and buildings.

November 17, 2014 - Tiny is big in the quest to build batteries that store more energy for cars, buildings, and personal electronics.

Nanosize batteries that are 80,000 times thinner than a human hair represent a promising new front. They could advance the use of electric vehicles, now limited by short driving ranges, and of renewable energy, which needs storage for times when the wind doesn't blow or the sun doesn't shine.

The latest breakthrough: a "nanopore" that's the ultimate in miniaturization. It's a hole in a ceramic sheet, no thicker than a grain of salt, that contains all the components a battery needs to produce electric current. One billion of these holes, connected in a honeycomb fashion, could fit on a postage stamp. read more>>>

Largest African Solar Energy Plant Comes Online In South Africa
November 11, 2014 - SolarReserve, a leading global developer of utility-scale solar power projects and advanced solar thermal technology, today announced that the 96 megawatt (MW) photovoltaic (PV) Jasper solar power project completed construction and is fully operational, almost two months ahead of schedule. Jasper is located in South Africa's Northern Cape in a solar park that also includes the 75 MW Lesedi solar power project which came online in May, and the proposed 100 MW Redstone concentrated solar thermal power (CSP) plant featuring SolarReserve's industry-leading CSP technology with integrated energy storage.

The Jasper Project generated about 1 million man-hours during construction, peaking at over 800 on-site construction jobs. As part of the South African Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Program (REIPPPP), the project will set aside a percentage of total project revenues for Enterprise Development and Socio-Economic Development for the benefit of the local communities. read more>>>

INFOGRAPHIC: Could the Entire World Really Run on Solar Power?
11/10/14 - It’s pretty safe to say that we all know that we have to find an alternative to fossil fuels as soon as possible, and the most viable answer to the planet’s energy needs is visible to us any time we look upward. The amount of solar energy that hits just 1 square mile of this planet over the course of a year is equal to 4 million barrels of oil, and the energy that hits the Earth in a mere 40 minutes can fuel all of humanity’s energy needs for a year. Isn’t that incredible? Check out the infographic below to learn more about all the ways that solar power is the way to go, and how we can go about making it a reality worldwide. read more>>>

Building Know-How For A Sustainable Future
November 11, 2014 – Southface, a founding member organization of EarthShare Georgia, has been approved by the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) to accept veteran education benefits from those who have served in the military, who are currently on active duty, or are dependents of a disabled or deceased veteran for over 90 percent of Southface courses. Qualifying students will receive a 100 percent tuition reimbursement on Southface courses and associated certification exams that prepare students for careers in the green building sector.

The most recent employment numbers show that opportunities are improving across the nation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the September 2014 national unemployment rate of 5.9 percent is the lowest it has been since the beginning of the Great Recession. However, this downward trend is not distributed equally across the states. Georgia has the highest unemployment rate of any state in the nation, tipping the scales at 7.9 percent. read more>>>

Co-ops growing solar in 34 states
November 11, 2014 - Solar development by electric cooperatives has great potential for expansion and is growing rapidly. Member-owned, not-for-profit co-ops currently have online or are planning to develop 240 MW of owned and purchased solar capacity in 34 states.

Co-ops are making significant investments in renewable resource generation, using loans from the Rural Utilities Service and other sources. With solar becoming more cost-competitive, electric co-ops are poised to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in new projects. read more>>>

Solar industry bounces back after recession
November 11, 2014 - Through a combination of a more robust economy, falling production costs, consumer demand and other factors, solar industry growth is accelerating quickly. Residential and commercial solar dropped substantially during the housing bubble of a few years ago but have been roaring back.

While utility-scale solar still accounts for a very small amount of the country's total power generation, it doubled in 2013 and is expected to do so again by the end of 2015, with about two-thirds of that generation coming from California, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. And customer-sited photovoltaic capacity (rooftop solar installations) is expected to exceed utility-scale solar between 2013 and 2015. read more>>>

Urban Farming Takes Root in Downtown Los Angeles
11/12/2014 - Amid the rooftops of downtown's Financial District , basil, parsley and vegetables line a raised-bed garden. The 6th floor plot, part of a trend of urban farming in downtown Los Angeles , serves a restaurant at the members-only Jonathan Club .

"This was a dream of mine since I was a kid," said Matthew Allnatt , Jonathan Club's chief operating officer, who on Tuesday showed off the garden to a group from a UCLA conference on sustainable agriculture.

Started in 2010, the garden was expanded last year. The fruits, herbs and vegetables are used by chefs at The Grill, the Jonathan Club's restaurant.

Urban farming isn't new in downtown. Blue Velvet, a now-shuttered City West restaurant, launched a vegetable garden on its roof in 2009. Residents in the Biscuit Lofts, a brick loft building in the Arts District , also launched a community garden in 2009. read more>>>

At World Sustainable Building Conference in Barcelona, a Global Call for Energy-Efficiency
11/09/2014 - In this Mediterranean port city where Antoni Gaudi's surreal architectural masterpieces have forever altered the skyline and raised expectations, an international gathering of sustainable building experts has plotted changes to the world's built landscape that could be as revolutionary and even more transformational.

Meeting in the architectural shadow of Gaudi's inimitable Sagrada Familia church, a parade of presenters and leaders at the World Sustainable Building Conference called for an urgent and widely replicable "green building" response to a looming world housing crisis that has potentially grave impacts on climate change.

"This is like the Kyoto for building, and the building sector for Kyoto ," said Antonio Lucio Gil , the conference's global vision chair, referring to the 1997 conference in Japan that set global greenhouse gas reduction goals. read more>>>

Europe’s Largest Solar Power Plant Under Construction in France
November 10, 2014 - New massive solar power plant is about to make France a serious contender for the ever-so-wanted title of ‘Europe’s greatest’ in renewable energy. Constructed and managed by the French-based firm Neoen, the biggest solar power plant is set to begin full operation in one year from now.

Over the past few years, the renewable energy sector in Europe has blossomed. Various projects are now in full operation and every new one is bigger and better than the previous. Germany plays a big role in this, as there was a moment in time earlier this year when they were making it to the news with record breaking statistics every other day. But while they are picking the fruits of their success, others are quietly catching up. read more>>>

Report: The demand for green homes isn't going anywhere
November 10, 2014 - Consumers often are willing to pay more for homes and products from a builder who is committed to protecting the environment, a Nielsen poll shows. So builders who are hoping to tap the market for green homes—which will double by 2016, McGraw Hill Construction estimates—are well-advised to make that commitment, and to make the case to energy-and environmentally conscious house hunters that they’re buying from a builder who cares about the same things their customers do. read more>>>

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Eden Project partners with Good Energy to promote renewables
10 November 2014 - The UK’s Eden Project environmental centre has teamed up with its new power supplier, Good Energy, to help visitors understand how their energy use affects the environment.

The Eden Project now obtains all its electricity from Good Energy which sources its supplies from renewable projects such as the Delabole Wind Farm in Cornwall and other renewable energy projects. The environmental centre is now actively working with Good Energy in order to engage and inspire visitors to reconnect with where the energy they use comes from. The Eden Project is intending to develop a fun learning programme for visitors which could include energy-themed exhibitions and displays, workshops, and short courses. read more>>>

IRENA opens council meeting amid global calls for expanding renewable energy
07 November 2014 - The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) gathered representatives from over 90 countries in Abu Dhabi to review and recommend actions to scale-up renewable energy around the world.

The two-day meeting opened on the heels of the release of the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which recommended the decarbonisation of the world’s energy mix by 2100.

“Any solution to address climate change requires a massive scale-up in renewable energy,” said IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin. “And as momentum builds around the climate issue, so does the focus on renewable energy – because not only can renewable energy combined with energy efficiency keep the global climate to a two degree temperature rise, it can do so affordably.” read more>>>