Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Alternative Clean Energy Roundup: 20 August 2014

Solar panel shortage looms even as manufacturers invest in production
August 19, 2014 - Shortage follows years of high inventories, which have pushed prices down and encouraged installations.

The solar industry is bracing for a global drought in photovoltaic panels after a series of high supply years that pushed prices to all-time lows and encouraged installations.

Solar panel adoption is supposed to increase as much as 29% this year, which has top manufacturers and installers anticipating a drop in availability of panels. This would be the first such shortage since 2006 when the nascent solar energy industry was just taking hold, reported Bloomberg News. read more>>>

After a slow start, PACE getting off the ground in Missouri
08/19/2014 - Four years after Missouri passed a law allowing Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), the state is on the verge of launching the first few projects.

“It’s been a long birthing process,” said Nathan Nickolaus, who is on the board of directors of the Missouri Clean Energy District, which administers the program.

As in many of the 31 states that have passed PACE laws allowing municipalities to create a PACE lending program for clean-energy projects, cities in Missouri concluded that they weren’t up to the task of creating a PACE program. Only 25 of those states actually have lending programs in place. read more>>>

Green energy job postings increase 88 percent from 2013
August 12, 2014 - There were more than two million job postings in the green energy sector in the first and second quarters of 2014 -- an increase of 87.5 percent from the first and second quarters of 2013 -- according to Ecotech Institute's Clean Jobs Index.

The Clean Jobs Index classifies clean energy jobs based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics description, which defines a clean job as part of a business that benefits the environment or conserves natural resources.

Ecotech Institute created the Clean Jobs Index to provide objective job information about the renewable energy industry and gathers its information from a combination of research entities, including the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency, the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Green Building Council. read more>>>

Montreal’s Saint-Laurent Looking To Start Installing “Green Rooftops”
August 12, 2014 - Saint-Laurent wants green roofs, and they could have them, if Quebec’s Régie du bâtiment would hurry up and approve their construction. Mayor of Saint-Laurent Alan De Sousa fears that if the Régie du bâtiment takes any longer to publish its official guidelines on green roofs, their inclusion in the borough’s newest houses will not occur.

Green roofs are basically rooftop gardens with their own drainage system, that have many benefits for the building at city at-large, such as moderating the city’s heat, improving air quality, insulating heat within a building (great for winter), add to the city’s greenspace, and even reduce the noise emitted from a building. read more>>>

7 cutting edge resiliency technologies (New York is investigating them now)
Aug 13, 2014 - The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) has awarded $3.3 million to seven research teams to develop technologies that add resiliency and efficiency to New York State's electric grid.

Radar for faster restoration. Enhance storm model predictions by incorporating radar data to better estimate damage on a local basis.

Aerial damage assessment. Analyze aerial pictures to locate line damage and pinpoint outages.

Using computers to analyze pictures for possible problems. Computer algorithms to recognize potential problems from smart phone pictures sent in by witnesses. read more>>>

Branching out for a green economy
July 30th, 2014 - To further the agenda of climate change and green growth knowledge generation, Unisa’s Exxaro Chair in Business and Climate Change has instituted a unique collaborative research programme on bio-derived fuels (BDF) and solar transition with researchers both within and outside the university.

Combining the chair’s expertise with various institutions, the chair’s incumbent, Professor Godwell Nhamo said it was important to institute a trans-, inter- and multidisciplinary (TIM) research programme on bio-derived fuels and solar transition under climate change and green economy/growth. The idea for this long-term research programme emerged in the last quarter of 2013, said Nhamo. Brainstorming then started within the chair and was later expanded to the Materials and Process Synthesis (MaPS) research unit within Unisa’s College of Science and Technology. read more>>>

Google's $1 million Green Idea Challenge
07/28/2014 - Internet giant Google has opened up submissions for the "Littlebox Challenge", in which contestants stand a chance of winning $1 million in prize money.

The competition challenges the entrants to shrink inverters that take direct current from devices such as solar panels and batteries and turn them into alternating current for use in homes and businesses.

The Littlebox Challenge ( https://www.littleboxchallenge.com/ ) Web site states that the device shrunk must be no bigger than a small laptop in volume and smaller than every other contestant's to win the prize.

"There will be obstacles to overcome; like the conventional wisdom of engineering," Eric Raymond of the Google Green Team states in an online post.

"But whoever gets it done will help change the future of electricity." read more>>>

Urban Post-Disaster Housing Prototype Unveiled in New York CIty
June 17, 2014 - It’s nothing short of building a city within a city overnight.

That’s the fundamental premise behind a new modular post-disaster housing unit, designed by Garrison Architects, which was revealed Tuesday by New York City officials. The premise is simple but ambitious: Post-disaster housing will allow city residents to live in their neighborhood for months or years after a major disaster while their homes undergo repairs. The full-scale and operational prefabricated prototype represents the midpoint of a lengthy quest to change how cities respond to disasters in the 21st century.

The critical problem at hand is a total absence of emergency housing solutions in dense urban settings. Conventional approaches, such as the trailer homes of Hurricane Katrina infamy, are simply infeasible in major cities where space is at a premium. read more>>>

Market Report on Climate Change Adaptation Reveals New Business Opportunities
Jul. 24, 2014 - Weather-related disasters worldwide have helped galvanize attention on the need to prepare for the impact of changing weather patterns on our communities, businesses and natural resources. This presents significant opportunities for companies positioned to help clients prepare for, adapt to and even gain competitive advantage from the consequences of climate change.

In its newly updated EBI Report 4800, “Emerging Business Opportunities in the Climate Change Adaptation Industry,” Environmental Business International Inc. (EBI) talks to the first generation of service providers in this emerging business segment, looking at how they are positioning their companies to win contracts and at the challenges involved in pioneering adaptation work. read more>>>

Making eco-friendly 'pre-fab nanoparticles': Versatile, water-soluble nano-modules
August 12, 2014 - A team of materials chemists, polymer scientists, device physicists and others at the University of Massachusetts Amherst today report a breakthrough technique for controlling molecular assembly of nanoparticles over multiple length scales that should allow faster, cheaper, more ecologically friendly manufacture of organic photovoltaics and other electronic devices.

Details are in the current issue of Nano Letters.

Lead investigator, chemist Dhandapani Venkataraman, points out that the new techniques successfully address two major goals for device manufacture: controlling molecular assembly and avoiding toxic solvents like chlorobenzene. "Now we have a rational way of controlling this assembly in a water-based system," he says. "It's a completely new way to look at problems. With this technique we can force it into the exact structure that you want." read more>>>

Insights into a new class of semiconducting materials
August 12, 2014 - A new paper by University of Notre Dame researchers describes their investigations of the fundamental optical properties of a new class of semiconducting materials known as organic-inorganic "hybrid" perovskites.

The research was conducted at the Notre Dame Radiation Laboratory by Joseph Manser, a doctoral student in chemical and biomolecular engineering, under the direction of Prashant Kamat, Rev. John A. Zahm Professor of Science. The findings appear in a paper in the August 10 edition of the journal Nature Photonics.

The term "perovskites" refers to the structural order these materials adopt upon drying and assembling in the solid state. read more>>>

IHS Study: Diversity of United States Power Supply Could be Significantly Reduced in Coming Decades
Jul. 24, 2014 - Diversity in the U.S. power supply—the most cost-effective means of managing the inherent risks in fuel costs and technology performance in generating power—could be dramatically reduced in coming decades, says a new study by IHS (NYSE: IHS), the leading global source of critical information and insight. Fuel and technology decisions on new supply that will determine as much as one-third of U.S. power supply are required in the coming decades to meet growth in power demand, replace retiring power plants and satisfy proposed environmental regulations, the study says.

The new study, The Value of U.S. Power Supply Diversity finds that a combination of factors—chronically depressed wholesale power prices, proposed environmental regulations and a focus on renewables and natural gas over coal, oil, nuclear and hydroelectric power plants—is currently moving the United States toward a significant reduction in power supply diversity. read more>>>

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Alternative Clean Energy Roundup: 19 August 2014

Dan Bakal: Learning from clean energy success
August 17, 2014 - As the Environmental Protection Agency seeks to reduce greenhouse gas pollution from U.S. power plants, it’s important to look at what’s already working to encourage clean energy.

Ceres, a nonprofit encouraging business and investors to address climate change, just studied how 32 of the country’s largest electric utility holding companies — providing 70 percent of the nation’s power — are doing at delivering renewable and more efficient energy.

The report shows wide disparities in how much renewable energy and energy savings utilities are providing.

It also shows strong state policies play an important role in enabling them to meet customers’ clean energy needs. read more>>>

Offshore wind plan not making any progress: Letter
August 18, 2014 - Tomorrow is the fourth anniversary of the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act. Since signing the law, Gov. Chris Christie and his administration have done nothing to make offshore wind a reality. We have waited for the state Board of Public Utilities to write offshore wind-financing rules. Without the rules, wind cannot go forward.

While New Jersey isn’t moving forward, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is — with a proposal to sell 344,000 acres off the New Jersey coast for offshore wind. read more>>>

States should not take Ohio’s lead on freezing renewable energy standards
August 18, 2014 - In the absence of a national energy policy, about 30 states have adopted plans to create more electricity from renewable sources. This patchwork of incentives is crucial to the development of the wind-power and solar-energy industries, and hundreds of thousands of jobs; the shift to renewables is also necessary to combat climate change. Yet even these modest state policies are under attack from groups including Americans for Prosperity and the American Legislative Exchange Council, which are both closely aligned with the billionaire Koch brothers. It’s a staggeringly misguided attempt to convince voters, mostly in economically struggling states, that renewable-energy targets are driving up their electric bills. Yet it may be bearing fruit. read more>>>

Florida fades in use of renewable energy as big utilities call the shots
August 15, 2014 - Some enterprising lawyer really should sue the state of Florida for misrepresentation. When it comes to energy resources, calling Florida "the Sunshine State" is as bogus as it gets.

Other slogans come to mind that more realistically capture Florida's energy image. How about "the Pushover State" for starters?

Fresh numbers are out comparing how each state relied at the start of this century on different fuels to generate electricity, and how that has changed today. read more>>>

After the flood: Expanded green infrastructure could help absorb rain, planners say
August 16, 2014 - There isn't much that could have prevented flooding this week after extraordinary rainfall that poured more than 6 inches of water over some parts of Metro Detroit on Monday.

But advocates for investment in green infrastructure believe an improved system of trees, gardens and ponds built to retain rainwater may have made a difference.

"Whenever you get 5 inches of rain in a three-hour period, it's difficult for any kind of system to be able to manage that," said Chris Dorle of the Detroit Future City Implementation Office. read more>>>

Solar continues to flourish in North Carolina with 64MW of new projects
12 August 2014 - The US state of North Carolina is to continue blooming with new solar projects, as 64MW of new solar sites reach construction.

The multiple solar projects now under construction in the state include several to be built by solar development and finance firm, Entropy.

The North Carolina solar sites will be supplied with 44MW of Canadian Solar CS6X-P PV modules.

Canadian Solar has executed a 44MW agreement with Entropy Investment Management and Entropy Solar Integrators. The agreement is Entropy’s second significant deal with Canadian Solar for projects scheduled to come online this year. read more>>>

Germany Shatters Record by Producing 31% of its Electricity from Renewables in the First Half of 2014!
08/13/14 - When it comes to the production of renewable energy, Germany is well ahead of the game – villages regularly break records by producing more energy than they need, and the country has met up to 74% of its energy demand with renewable sources. Now Germany has shattered another record: In the first half of 2014, 31% of the entire country was powered by renewables!

A new report from the Fraunhofer Institute states that Germany produced a whopping 81 TWh of renewable electricity in the first half of 2014. The report shows that nuclear energy production declined while solar increased by 28% and wind increased by 19%. The solar (37.5 GW) and wind (34.6 GW) sectors also led the nation in terms of new capacity installed, with 37.5GW and 34.6GW respectively. As expected, production from conventional power plants declined – gas powered plants produced half the energy they did in 2010. read more>>>

Record-Breaking Solar Car Can Travel 98 Miles on 15 Cents Worth of Electricity
08/12/14 - The annual Shell-Eco Marathon challenges student teams around the world to design the best ultra energy-efficient vehicle, which is then put to the test during racing events in Asia, America and Europe. At this year’s event in Rotterdam, the Swedish Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) set a new fuel efficiency record in the urban concept – battery electric group, by equipping its ‘Elba’ vehicle with thin solar cells made by Midsummer.

The Shell Eco-Marathon challenges collegiate teams from around the world to make their electric vehicles travel as far as possible using the energy equivalent of one liter of fuel, and this year 198 teams from 27 countries across Europe participated in the competition. read more>>>

Barnes & Noble

Nanogrids: The Ultimate Solution for Creating Energy-Aware Buildings?
August 11, 2014 - A building is often only as intelligent as the electrical distribution network it connects with. That's why smart buildings are often seen as an extension of the smart grid.

Meters, building controls, intelligent lighting and HVAC systems, distributed energy systems and the software layered on top are indeed valuable for controlling localized energy use within a building. But in many cases, the building relies on the utility or regional electricity grid to value those services.

Some analysts define these technologies as the "enterprise smart grid" because of their interaction with the electricity network. read more>>>

Princeton Power's Microgrid Project On 'The Rock' - A Harbinger of Things To Come
8/12/2014 - One of the most innovative electric power projects in this country sits on Alcatraz Island, in the middle of San Francisco Bay. On The Rock, Princeton Power Systems coordinates a microgrid combining 307 kilowatts (kW) of solar panels, a 400 kW (two megawatt-hour – MWh) lead acid battery bank, two diesel generators and its own controllers and inverters to keep the island running 24 X 7.

Microgrids are small electrical grids that can either stand remotely (as in the case of Alcatraz, and in some island or remote northern communities) or be interconnected with the main power grid. In the latter instance, they can be severed from the main grid (‘islanded’) in times of distress to become independent.

Microgrids have come into vogue lately, and they cannot come too soon. read more>>>

EU green energy laws 'put 1.5m UK manufacturing jobs at risk’
Eurosceptic group blames Brussels for up to 9pc of costs on manufacturers' energy bills

13 Aug 2014 - Green policies imposed by Brussels are endangering 1.5m UK jobs by saddling manufacturers with high energy costs, an influential group of business leaders has warned.

A report published on Wednesday by Business for Britain (BfB), a Eurosceptic lobby group, says that EU policies are to blame for up to 9 per cent of costs on energy bills for industrial companies and warns this could rise to 16 per cent by 2030.

Manufacturers are now considering moving their operations to countries where energy is cheaper, risking “devastating” job losses in the UK, it warns. read more>>>

Singapore to invest $100m in green data centres and green buildings
31 July 2014 - Singapore is investing S$100 million in two major initiatives for the research and development (R&D) of green data centres and to improve energy efficiency of buildings.

The Energy Research Development and Demonstration executive committee announced the new initiatives on Wednesday at the first Energy TechRoadMap symposium.

The ‘Building Energy Efficiency R&D Hub’ initiative will be implemented and managed by the Building and Construction Authority, while the ‘Green Data Centre Research Hub Programme’ will be managed by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA). read more>>>