Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Alternative Clean Energy Roundup: 21 October 2014

Home weatherization saves costs, study finds
Ohio’s weatherization program is one of the best in the nation, resulting in home savings of more than 20 percent. But, this year the governor and legislature put a freeze on the state’s clean energy and energy efficiency efforts, and a push continues to repeal this successful program.

October 14th, 2014 - Ohio’s Home Weatherization Assistance Program results in home energy cost savings of over 20 percent on average, making it one of the best such programs in the nation. Additional benefits include pollution reduction, energy conservation, and job creation. read more>>>

Why clean energy might be cheaper than you think
14 Oct 2014 - Wind and solar power often get a bad rap for being more expensive than energy produced from fossil fuels. But what happens when you factor in, say, the health costs of people breathing smoggy air? Or the financial impact of climate change’s effect on ecosystems and precious resources like water?

Those are some of the questions the European Commission sought to answer. A new report written for the EC includes those environmental costs and more in calculations of the total costs of producing electricity from various renewable and nonrenewable sources. The result? Wind and water are the best bargains for making megawatts. read more>>>

Sun Jack - world's most powerful solar charger!

Waters Of The US Rule Deserves Public Attention
October 14, 2014 - We each learned early in our lives that water is necessary for all living things. We learned a little about clean water in science classes, and many among us learned that our livestock was healthier — indeed, our communities grew stronger — if we had an ample supply of healthy water.

But it is equally true that we occasionally take for granted the ability of nature to filter out the many pollutants we put into the system.

Every once in a while, we get a blunt reminder that clean water doesn’t magically come out of the tap. read more>>>

Study urges action on Lake Erie bacteria blooms
October 15, 2014 - Climate change and invasive mussels may have made Lake Erie a more inviting host for toxic bacteria in recent years, suggesting that ambitious goals are needed for reducing phosphorus runoff that feeds large blooms like the one that forced a temporary tap water shutdown in and near Toledo, Ohio, scientists said Wednesday.

Ever-larger mats of cyanobacteria, commonly known as blue-green algae, have formed on Erie since the early 2000s. They produce microcystin, a toxin that has killed pets and livestock and causes liver damage in humans. The soupy green glop prompted do-not-drink orders for two days in August that affected about 400,000 residents of northwestern Ohio and southeastern Michigan. read more>>>

Let EPA seek cleaner water
October 16, 2014 - Given the toxic algae in Lake Erie that shut down Toledo, Ohio’s municipal water system this summer, the drought that has shriveled the West, the disappearance of an acre of Louisiana wetlands per day and a host of other water-related calamities, it’s hard to believe that some politicians and their favored interests think that states are doing a bang-up job of regulating water quality.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers want to firmly define federal jurisdiction over some waterways, responsibility for which was left indistinct by U.S. Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006. Waterways in question mostly are small, including some wetlands and streams that only flow seasonally. But most are part of larger water systems. read ore>>>

Peru says country's glaciers shrank 40 pct in 4 decades from climate change
Oct 15, 2014 - Climate change has shrunk Peruvian glaciers by 40 percent in the past four decades and the melt-off has spawned nearly 1,000 new high-altitude lakes since 1980, Peru's government said on Wednesday.

Nearly 90 percent of Peruvian glaciers are smaller than 1-square-kilometer, putting them at greater risk of disappearing in coming years, Peru's water authority said in an update of its glacier inventory from the 1970s.

Peru's 2,679 glaciers, spread over 19 snow-capped mountain ranges, are the source of the vast majority of the country's drinking water. read more>>>

First US public offering of solar bonds: can crowdfunding take clean energy to the next level?
SolarCity just changed the way clean energy projects will be financed. Will retail investors give solar a boost?

15 October 2014 - The largest solar installer in the US announced Wednesday that it is offering up to $200m in bonds to retail investors, marking the first registered public sale of solar bonds in the country. SolarCity’s landmark move toward crowdfunding could democratize the way solar projects are bankrolled ­and grow overall investment for clean energy.

Large institutional investors (such as Google, Honda and US Bank, in the case of SolarCity projects) finance the bulk of solar projects today. While individual investors can already put money into solar projects via crowdfunding platforms such as Mosaic, SunFunder and Crowdsun.com, most of these opportunities are only available to accredited investors – wealthy individuals – or are limited to just one or a few states, said Tim Newell, SolarCity’s vice president of financial products. read more>>>

America Can Nearly Quadruple Its Renewable Electricity By 2030
October 19th, 2014 - A recent Union of Concerned Scientists (USC) study found that America can nearly quadruple its renewable electricity in the next 15 years, reaching 23% by 2030. This comes in response to the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal that America set a modest goal of 12% renewable energy by 2030. Rachel Cleetus, Senior Climate Economist of UCS, referred to the EPA’s goal as just a fraction above “business as usual.” The UCS found raising this target, to +23% of the nation’s electricity from non-hydro renewable sources by 2030, would cost the average household only about 18 cents per month. Cleetus described this as a realistic and affordable goal: “Looking at the way renewable energy is ramping up and costs are falling dramatically, there is a real opportunity to go farther.”

Seven states are already exceeding their proposed goals set by EPA for 2030 and another 17 have existing laws that require more renewable electricity than what the EPA requires. read more>>>

Solar Rising in Village Microgrids
10/14/2014 - Solar panels are on the rise for microgrids that bring electricity to small villages in the developing world, spawning work on low-power, direct-current homes, according to presentations at a conference here.

“In India, there’s been a big mindset shift among regulators and utilities in favor of photovoltaics and microgrids,” said Vineeth Vijayaraghavan, director of research and outreach for the non-profit Solarillion Foundation.

“So far, there’s been little research in networking microgrids, but the government is interested” in ways to connect DC rural grids to each other and to the AC urban grid, he said in a talk at the IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference. read more>>>

Microgrids Can Serve Multiple Purposes With The Right Policy Frameworks
October 14, 2014 - Remember the old beer commercial with the “tastes great….less filling” debate? Microgrids provoke a multitude of views in the USA. For the Department of Energy, developing advanced microgrids holds the promise of building new electricity resources for customers, the community and the macrogrid. For the Department of Defense, microgrids deliver energy security for military bases and mobile operations. Massachusetts thinks of microgrids as enabling environments for regulatory reform. New York, in the midst of its initiative to redefine utility business models, considers microgrids as good platforms for distributed energy resources (DER). California, on the other hand, sees microgrids as crucial to supporting the integration of renewable generation into the grid.

Larisa Dobriansky, Senior Vice President, Legal, Policy and Regulatory Affairs for General MicroGrids has excellent perspectives on how microgrids can serve in these capacities. read more>>>

Researchers create first energy storing solar cell
15.10.2014 - Researchers at the Ohio State University have developed a device, which captures energy from sunlight and stores it in form of electricity: a combined “solar battery”.

It consists of a mesh solar panel covered with a red dye (a type of dye-sensitised solar cell), which functions as an electrode shuttle, and a lithium-oxygen battery. The top of the solar battery is made of a permeable mesh solar panel made from titanium gauze with titanium dioxide rods, which functions as first electrode for the battery. A thin carbon sheet below this forms the second electrode and a lithium plate at the bottom a third one. Since the technique is based on an earlier battery model by the researchers around Yiying Wu, Professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Ohio State, it needs air to work. Therefore the layers are permeable to air. read more>>>

Streamlining solar interconnection processes
October 14, 2014 - With the solar market expected to more than double in the next few years, cutting the time and costs involved in connecting individual residential and commercial photovoltaic (PV) installations to the grid is a growing concern for utilities, regulators and solar installers. Utilities are focused on interconnection -- the actual process of connecting a new installation to the grid – which can take less than two weeks or more than two months, according to research from the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA), produced under a Department of Energy SunShot Incubator Award, in partnership with Clean Power Research.

In an online survey completed by 64 utilities in 25 states, the 17 percent of utilities currently providing online processing of interconnection applications said they can complete the approvals twice as fast as those still requiring customers to fill out paperwork. read more>>>

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Alternative Clean Energy Roundup: 15 October 2014

Renewable Energy Share In Sub-Saharan Africa Could Reach 45% By 2040, IEA Reports
October 14th, 2014 - “A better functioning energy sector is vital to ensuring that the citizens of sub-Saharan Africa can fulfil their aspirations. The energy sector is acting as a brake on development, but this can be overcome and the benefits of success are huge.”

So said IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven in conjunction with the release of the Africa Energy Outlook report, a part of the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) 2014 World Energy Outlook series of reports.

According to the report, more than 620 million people in sub-Saharan Africa are living without electricity, while nearly 730 million people rely on what the IEA describe as “dangerous” and “inefficient” forms of cooking. The use of solid biomass, in the form of fuels like fuel wood and charcoal, outweighs that of any other fuel, combined. read more>>>

Pentagon Signals Security Risks of Climate Change
OCT. 13, 2014 - The Pentagon on Monday released a report asserting decisively that climate change poses an immediate threat to national security, with increased risks from terrorism, infectious disease, global poverty and food shortages. It also predicted rising demand for military disaster responses as extreme weather creates more global humanitarian crises.

The report lays out a road map to show how the military will adapt to rising sea levels, more violent storms and widespread droughts. The Defense Department will begin by integrating plans for climate change risks across all of its operations, from war games and strategic military planning situations to a rethinking of the movement of supplies.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, speaking Monday at a meeting of defense ministers in Peru, highlighted the report’s findings and the global security threats of climate change. read more>>>

BlueGreen Alliance calls for strong US methane reduction strategy
10/13/2014 - The BlueGreen Alliance, a coalition of 10 national labor unions and 5 environmental organizations, urged the Obama administration to adopt a strong methane reduction strategy with the US oil and gas industry as a major component.

The goal is to advance the administration’s climate action plan and meet its goal of reducing the nation’s global warming pollution 17% by 2020, the group’s executive director, Kim Glas, said in an Oct. 10 letter to US President Barack Obama.

“The oil and gas industry is the nation’s largest industrial source of methane, the main component of natural gas and a potent greenhouse gas,” she maintained. “Reducing methane emissions throughout the industry’s operations needs to be a key part of our nation’s strategy to address climate change.” read more>>>

Insights on climate and energy from the newest Nobel Prize winner
October 13th, 2014 - Today we celebrate the accomplishments of French economist Jean Tirole, winner of this year’s Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. His work is particularly relevant for those of us concerned with the leadership of electric utilities, their regulators, and the growing number of us who are trying to respond to the growing impacts of global warming. Below are a few tidbits from his work that relate to each of these issues.

Writing on regulatory capture, Tirole and of his several colleagues have explored the balance between the altruistic regulator, who wants to “do the right thing,” and the self-interested (even corrupt) regulator who has been “captured” by the monopoly that s/he is entrusted to oversee. (See p. 18 of the Economic Sciences Prize Committee’s background paper). read more>>>

Clean Energy Benefits Virginia
Oct. 14, 2014 - Today, Governor McAuliffe is expected to outline his vision for a “New Economy of Virginia” through implementation of the 2014 Virginia Energy Plan. While we don’t support all of the plan’s recommendations, the McAuliffe administration should be applauded for its strong leadership and bold commitment to spurring economic growth through the creation of renewable energy jobs in the wind and solar industries and reducing costly energy waste through smart investments in energy efficiency measures.

What’s more, the clean energy policies in the Virginia Energy Plan can be leveraged to help meet Virginia’s carbon pollution reduction target set in EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan, which will be finalized next June.

Based on existing projections from Virginia’s utilities, we are already 80 percent of the way to meeting Virginia’s carbon pollution target under the Clean Power Plan. read more>>>

Frome’s green revolution is gathering pace
October 14, 2014 - FROME is fast becoming one of the greenest towns in the UK. A whole range of ground-breaking initiatives in recent months have put Frome firmly on the map as a leading environmently friendly town.

And the town’s efforts have been recognised with Frome Town Council picking up a prestigious nomination in this year’s South West Green Energy Awards, following on from the Cheese and Grain winning a Green Apple Award earlier this year. read more>>>

Opportunities and challenges of nanotechnology in the green economy
2014-10-07 - In a world of finite resources and ecosystem capacity, the prevailing model of economic growth, founded on ever-increasing consumption of resources and emission pollutants, cannot be sustained any longer. In this context, the "green economy"concept has offered the opportunity to change the way that society manages the interaction of the environmental and economic domains.

To enable society to build and sustain a green economy, the associated concept of "green nanotechnology"aims to exploit nano-innovations in materials science and engineering to generate products and processes that are energy efficient as well as economically and environmentally sustainable. These applications are expected to impact a large range of economic sectors, such as energy production and storage, clean up-technologies, as well as construction and related infrastructure industries. read more>>>

Energy efficiency targets could boost UK economy by £62bn
October 6th, 2014 - The figures, part of a costs and benefit assessment disclosed after an access to information request and now released by the Guardian, reveal that a curb of energy consumption could increase GDP while helping to tackle climate change.

Significantly, they also reveal that the stronger the targets, the more substantial the benefits. A 40% cut in energy use would increase GDP by £62 billion, while a 30% cut would deliver a boost of just £17.3 billion – more than three times less.

This comes shortly after the release of a report that hailed energy efficiency as “a hidden fuel” that could boost economic growth and sustainable development. read more>>>

Barnes & Noble

RenewableUK welcomes additional government funding for renewables
03 October 2014 - Additional funding for renewable energy project will provide a welcome stimulus to wind, wave and tidal projects in the UK says trade association RenewableUK.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has announced an extra £300 million for all low-carbon technologies, supported under the Contracts for Difference (CfD) mechanism, an increase of £95 million from the initial budget announced in July.

Established technologies, such as onshore wind, will now compete for £65 million in annual support, up from £50 million, while less established technologies, including offshore wind and marine energy will share £235m, up from the initial £155m. read more>>>

Renewable energy will be key to Paris climate talks, IRENA says
19 September 2014 - As France prepares to host the make-or-break Paris Climate Conference in December 2015, and with expectations that the outcome will define global climate efforts in the future, renewable energy is increasingly taking centre stage in the climate discussion.

REthinking Energy, a new report released by the International Renewable Energy Agency(IRENA) this week, underlines that renewables must be part of any solution to avoid catastrophic climate change. IRENA presented the new report at the Senate of France on Tuesday highlighting the economic, social, technological, environmental, and climate dynamics of the global energy transition.

“Renewable energy provides an answer to many of the most pressing socio-economic challenges faced by governments today, including energy access, energy security, health and environmental concerns,” said Adnan Z. Amin, Director-General of IRENA. read more>>>

It paid to go ‘green’ for owners of a Houston energy-efficient house
October 6, 2014 - The Braes Heights home looks like a typical house for a family of four in the well-to-do neighborhood. It has three stories, six-bedrooms, a state-of-the-art kitchen, arching doorways and a sweeping staircase.

But what owner Ker Thomson, a Houston anesthesiologist, and his wife Rachel, a retired ballerina for the Houston Ballet, wanted was more than a typical house when they set out to build roughly three years ago. And now, the house at 3730 Drummond is possibly the first in Houston to earn a LEED Platinum certification, a “Fortified Rated” designation from the Institute for Building and Home Safety and the Zero Energy Ready Home certification from the Department of Energy.

“It represents a fundamentally different way to build a home and was designed for the U.S. Gulf Coast,” Ker Thomson said. ”It still has all the amenities and appearances of an elegant custom home, but we have changed the game behind the sheet rock. The short and long term benefits from this type of construction become obvious, especially when viewed as a complete package, or a system.” read more>>>

Why New Hampshire could be the next state to take on microgrids
October 08, 2014 - New Hampshire soon may be charting a course toward electric grid modernization — and microgrids — if it follows the advice in a 10-year energy strategy issued by the state Office of Energy & Planning.

The advisory agency recently recommended that the Public Utilities Commission investigate grid modernization, in keeping with similar action in Massachusetts and New York. The states are looking at how to make the grid more storm-resilient, economic and efficient with microgrids, distributed energy, smart meters and other approaches that foster local energy.

The report noted that in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, “microgrids have gained national prominence,” with Princeton University’s microgrid serving as a model. read more>>>