Thursday, January 31, 2013

Alternative Clean Energy Roundup: 31 January 2013

White Sands & Solar Panels
01/30/2013 - The U.S. Army dedicated its largest solar photovoltaic system at White Sands Missile Range in a ceremony led by Brig. Gen. Gwen Bingham, White Sands commander, joined by Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment.

“I came here about four months ago talking about how White Sands is a national treasure and now we can feel proud that we’re really on the environmental edge,” Bingham said. “It takes passion to do something like this. I’m just excited about the journey that will lie ahead.”

Developed in coordination with the U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center in Huntsville, Ala., Siemens Government Technologies, Inc., and Bostonia, the over-four-megawatt White Sands Missile Range solar energy system will generate about 10 million kilowatt-hours of clean electricity annually, and provide an estimated annual savings of $930,000. read more>>>

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No seeds to weather climate change
JOHANNESBURG, 31 January 2013 (IRIN) - Thembikosi Gumedze, the curator of the national seed bank in cash-strapped Swaziland, has been unable to supply much-needed drought-tolerant food crop seeds to farmers for more than two years.

He has not been able to source the US$7,000 to $10,000 a year needed to produce enough seeds to distribute to the country’s smallholder population.

For almost a year, the bank did not have money to repair its defunct vehicle. Once the vehicle was repaired, the bank was unable to afford the petrol needed to get it on the road. "We have been grounded essentially," Gumedze said over the phone.

As farmers in Swaziland grapple with an increasingly erratic climate, the shortage of funds has affected the bank’s production of climate-resilient maize seeds and hardier legumes, like pigeon peas, that can thrive in drought-like conditions. read more>>>

Hybrids, solar panels and trashing trash: A look at University of Michigan sustainability progress
Jan 30, 2013 - Since University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman introduced ambitious sustainability goals 16 months ago, many practices have started to change at the school but there's even more left to do.

In the course of 12 months, the school introduced seven hybrid buses to its transportation fleet. It installed a 2.4-acre solar panel field on north campus and finalized plans for another large array to be constructed this spring.

The most expensive building U-M has ever constructed —the $754 million C.S. Mott Children's and Von Voigtlander Women's Hospital— received a silver LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Building to LEED code added tens of millions of dollars to the construction cost, but was consistent with the goals Coleman outlined when she announced a $14 million sustainability initiative in September 2011. read more>>> - Buy Best Electronic Gadgets, Laptop Parts, Computer Components, Cell Phone Accessories!

Minneapolis City Council panel passes energy-rating mandate
January 28, 2013 - A Minneapolis City Council panel approved rules Monday to require commercial buildings to receive public ratings based on their energy efficiency.

The goal of the ordinance, sponsored by Council Member Elizabeth Glidden, is to encourage building owners to reduce their energy consumption by posting their scores on a city website. Environmental groups offered full-throated support at a public hearing, while building owners opposed the mandate.

Under the proposal, commercial buildings larger than 50,000 square feet would submit their energy usage information to Energy Star, a government-backed program that offers tools for calculating energy efficiency.

About 50 buildings in Minneapolis already voluntarily display their Energy Star ratings. Kevin Lewis, executive director of the Greater Minneapolis Building Owners and Managers Association, noted the progress building owners have already made conserving energy. read more>>>

Insects` gut microbes hint at Biofuel breakthrough
BEIJING -- Jan. 25, 2013 -- Deep inside insects' guts may lie the key to one of the biofuel industry's great challenges: how to cost-effectively turn tough plant waste into profit-making fuel.

About 50 million tonnes of lignin are produced every year worldwide, mostly as waste after the sugar, or cellulose, in a plant has been converted into ethanol.

Finding a way to process this tough molecule could boost biofuel production and cut the greenhouse gases that are emitted when it is burned as waste.

Insects harbour natural catalysts that could be exploited to convert plant material into biofuels more efficiently, report scientists in a paper in PLoS Genetics this month (10 January). Herbivorous insects often rely on microbes in their guts using these molecules to digest plant materials such as cellulose and lignin. read more>>>

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East Asia will spend $4.8 billion on FGD this year
Jan. 30, 2013 - Power plants in East Asia will spend $4.8 billion on flue gas desulfurization (FGD) this year. This will be 63 percent of the total worldwide expenditure. This is the conclusion reached in FGD World Markets published by the McIlvaine Company.

These forecasts do not include repair parts and upgrades nor do they include consumables such as lime and limestone. Total expenditures by the power plants for FGD will exceed $15 billion in 2013.

The forces shaping the market include:

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