Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Alternative Clean Energy Roundup: 30 July 2013

Efficiency Drove U.S. Emissions Decline, Not Natural Gas, Study Says
Conventional wisdom says switching to natural gas is why CO2 fell last year, but a recent analysis found a different explanation.

Jul 30, 2013 - Aggressive energy efficiency efforts by households, companies and motorists led to the decline in carbon dioxide emissions from energy use in the United States, according to a recent report. The finding contradicts recent studies that say the power sector's shift away from coal to cheap natural gas caused the bulk of reductions.

U.S. emissions last year fell by 205 million metric tons, or 4 percent, from 2011 levels. read more>>>

Study: Global warming puts South American water supplies at risk
July 29, 2013 - Water supplies in South America could be threatened with ongoing global warming moving rain-bearing winds away from their normal paths, researchers say.

A reconstruction of past changes in the North and Central Patagonian Ice-field, which plays a vital role in the hydrology of the region, suggests the field had suddenly contracted around 15,000 years ago after a southerly migration took westerly winds toward the South Pole, they said. read more>>>

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Harmonizing EV and smart grid technology
July 24, 2013 - Plug-in hybrid sales doubled in the first six months of 2013 compared to the same period in 2012 with sales expected to grow further as the next generation of cars and grid systems demonstrate even greater cost saving for consumers, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

That is why the DOE has launched the Electric Vehicle-Smart Grid Interoperability Center at Argonne National Laboratory. The Center will work to ensure that vehicles, charging stations, communications and networking systems work in unison with the electric grid, harmonizing emerging EV and smart grid technologies. read more>>>

SolarCity to Provide Solar Electricity to 7,500 Military Homes at Island Palm Communities at Multiple Army Bases in Hawai’i
July 24, 2013 - SolarCity SCTY +1.10% today announced plans to add 12.8 megawatts of new solar generation capacity to provide solar power to up to 7,500 military homes at Lend Lease-managed Island Palm Communities throughout the island of Oahu, including Fort Shafter, Schofield Barracks, Wheeler Army Airfield, Aliamanu Military Reservation, Helemano Military Reservation and Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawai'i. The projects are the latest to be announced under SolarCity's SolarStrong initiative, a five-year plan to build more than $1 billion in solar projects to provide power to up to 120,000 military homes in the United States. SolarCity has now initiated projects that are expected to provide renewable power to approximately 22,000 military homes when completed. read more>>>

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Microgrid grants will power key services
July 24, 2013 - Gov. Dannel P. Malloy braved the mid-afternoon heat Wednesday to announce a new program he said will help residents left out in the cold when the next superstorm strikes.

The city is receiving nearly $3 million for three natural gas turbines that will power City Hall, the Police Department and the senior center in the event of a citywide power outage.

"This is an exciting day for all of us in the city of Bridgeport," Mayor Bill Finch said during a news conference outside the Margaret E. Morton Government Center. read more>>>

UK green economy celebrates as government figures show £6bn boost
Government data confirms green goods and services market grew nearly five per cent to £128bn in 2011/12

25 Jul 2013 - The UK's green goods and services market increased almost five per cent to more than £128bn during 2011/12, according to government figures released last week.

While the rest of the economy remained virtually flat, sales in green markets grew by almost £6bn, while the sector racked up a trade surplus of £5.2bn. read more>>>

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Liverpool's learning green lessons from Los Angeles
23 Jul 2013 - A leading Los Angeles low carbon expert is helping Liverpool to launch its Green Partnership, sharing her experiences of creating a sustainable city.

The idea that going green hinders economic development has been discredited by the strategies of successful and progressive cities around like Los Angeles, Hamburg, Sydney and New York who are building their future prosperity on a high value / low carbon economic vision.

Liverpool is now adding its name to this prestigious list, saying the city cannot afford not to embrace a pioneering low agenda. read more>>>

Cost of Arctic methane release could be `size of global economy`
Jul. 24, 2013 - Economic modelling shows that the possible methane emissions caused by shrinking sea ice from just one area of the Arctic could come with a global price tag of 60 trillion dollars - the size of the world economy in 2012 according to a new report.

As the Arctic warms and sea ice melts at an unprecedented rate, hitting a record low last summer, the thawing of offshore 'permafrost' - frozen soil - in the region is releasing methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.

Scientists have previously warned that there are vast reservoirs of methane in the Arctic, hundreds of billions of tonnes of a gas many times worse than carbon dioxide for global warming - of which only a fraction needs releasing into the atmosphere to trigger possibly catastrophic climate change. read more>>>

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University professors in US receive grant to develop biomass conversion project
25 July 2013 - Professors David Domermuth and Ok-Youn Yu of Appalachian State University in the US have received a $45,000 grant from the N.C. Agricultural Foundation for a project to economically convert biomass to biofuel and useful biochar.

Both professors are with the university's Department of Technology and Environmental Design.

The grant, along with a current grant from the EPA, is being used to complete the university’s bioshelter/greenhouse at the Watauga County Landfill where the biomass conversion will occur. read more>>>

Central Maine Power promoting EVs with grants
July 25, 2013 - Central Maine Power Company (CMP) is offering incentives to organizations that wish to try out plug-in electric vehicles (PEV) in an effort to encourage the use of hybrid and electric cars in the state.

Through the Plug-In Electric Vehicle Grant Program, selected organizations will receive up to $15,000 to support the lease or purchase of eligible vehicles. A portion of the grant may be applied toward the purchase and installation of a Level 2 or 3 charging station. read more>>>

Monday, July 29, 2013

Alternative Clean Energy Roundup: 29 July 2013

Why It Finally Makes Political Sense to Talk About Climate Change
New polls show that voters increasingly view climate global-warming deniers as cranks. The White House is paying attention.

July 25, 2013 - In the summer of 2009, a dozen Democratic members of Congress took a deep breath and put their political futures on the line, voting for historic global-warming legislation President Obama had told them was a top priority. After the bill squeaked through the House, Democrats pleaded with the White House: After taking this risk, they needed Obama to go to bat for them—and the bill—with speeches, campaign appearances, constituent outreach, anything.

He didn’t. Behind the scenes, White House advisers counseled the president not to waste his political capital on climate change. It was too risky. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pulled the plug on the bill in summer 2010. That fall, Republicans went hard after House Democrats who had voted for it, causing many to lose their seats—and Democrats to lose control of the House. And on the campaign trail last year, Obama followed the advice of his staff and barely mentioned climate change, to the dismay of his environmental base.

Suddenly, that’s all changed.

Does Lake Michigan's record low mark beginning of new era for Great Lakes?
Despite above-average precipitation, lake has seen below-average water levels for 14 years running. Less ice cover and more dark open water may explain why.

Patric Kuptz means it when he says he grew up on the Great Lakes.

"I've spent most of my life within 50 feet of here," the 37-year-old said on a sunny May morning, working on a boat near his third-generation family home — a brown brick duplex at the edge of Milwaukee's South Shore Yacht Club. read more>>>

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On Rooftops, a Rival for Utilities
July 26, 2013 - For years, power companies have watched warily as solar panels have sprouted across the nation’s rooftops. Now, in almost panicked tones, they are fighting hard to slow the spread.

Alarmed by what they say has become an existential threat to their business, utility companies are moving to roll back government incentives aimed at promoting solar energy and other renewable sources of power. At stake, the companies say, is nothing less than the future of the American electricity industry. read more>>>

MSU Works On Eliminating EV ‘Range Anxiety’ Through Better Batteries
July 28, 2013 - Like people who drive gas-powered cars, those who drive electric vehicles are always on the lookout for where they can get their next “fill up.” Or, in their case, battery charge.

This so-called “range anxiety” could someday be eased a bit thanks to a team of Michigan State University researchers.

In the lab of Jeff Sakamoto, an associate professor of chemical engineering and materials science, he and his team are looking to improve upon the lithium ion battery, a rechargeable battery that works well in hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles, but still needs improvement for all-electric vehicles. read more>>>

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Banks Boost Green Credit for Green Growth
2013-07-20 - Major Chinese banks have vowed to offer strong credit support for the development of green economy amid China's drive to promote ecological progress and curb pollution.

Building a mechanism to provide positive incentives will be key to the development of green finance, according to a consensus reached by more than 10 financial institutions including the "big four" state-owned banks at an on-going ecological forum in Guiyang, capital city of southwest China's Guizhou Province.

The "big four" refers to Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, China Construction Bank, Bank of China and Agricultural Bank of China. read more>>>

Microgrids Going Mainstream

July 2013 - As alternative-energy sources become more commonplace, the need for infrastructure to support their expanding reach into mainstream energy markets is also on the rise. Microgrids have emerged as an ideal technology to meet this growing demand. A recent study confirms the interplay of the two trends.

According to Boulder, Colo.-based Navigant Research, microgrid deployments are evolving, and this market is becoming increasingly robust as new vendors enter. read more>>>

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“Excellently positioned to take the green economy to a higher level quickly”
07-18-2013 - Green Chemistry Campus: at the intersection of agriculture and chemistry

The Bergen op Zoom region, in the Southwestern part of the Netherlands, is the centre of the new green economy – for those who did not know yet. They have it all: strong agrofood industries, a strong agricultural sector with many side streams, ambitious and international chemical companies, a thriving logistical sector and many good transport links. The Green Chemistry Campus, established in 2011 at the site of chemical giant SABIC, will develop the green economy with powerful innovations. read more>>>

Mercedes Unveils Solar-Powered 'Vision' Golf Cart of the Future
07/23/13 - Mercedes-Benz has unveiled the Vision, which the automaker is touting as the golf cart of the future. Today’s golf carts rarely set hearts on fire with their slab sided minimalistic designs, but the Vision takes Mercedes-Benz design cues and applies them to create a golf cart that is not only sexy, but also green with its solar-powered electric motor.

How did Mercedes-Benz come up with the concept?

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Norwegian Town Creates 'Artificial Sun' to Light Up Dark Winter Days
07/23/13 - The small Norwegian town of Rjukan is getting its own artificial sun this month. Engineers are completing The Mirror Project—a system of three 300 square foot heliostatic mirrors that redirect winter light into the valley, turning one of the biggest town squares into a sunny meeting place. The entire mechanism is controlled by a central computer that adjusts the position of the mirrors.

Three huge mirrors were installed on the face of a neighboring mountain a few days ago that will redirect the sun down onto the town. The light will create a 2,000-square-foot circle on the town square which is usually in shadow. Costing less than a million dollars, the Mirror Project will bring light to the Norwegian town which is, from September until the end of March, in near perpetual darkness. read more>>>

WorldGBC and IFC aim to ramp up green construction
The World Green Building Council and IFC, a member of the World Bank Group are joining forces in an effort to rapidly scale up sustainable construction in emerging markets

24 Jul 2013 - The partnership perfectly demonstrates the commitment of both the WorldGBC and IFC to play a leading role in transforming the urban environment of emerging markets and mitigate climate change.

It’s understood that the WorldGBC has agreed to connect its network of national green building councils to IFC’s investment and advisory programme. The WorldGBC’s local affiliate councils will certify green buildings through IFC’s new web application, EDGE. read more>>>

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Alternative Clean Energy Roundup: 28 July 2013

Storm Protection: State Picks 9 Microgrid Projects For $18M In Funding
July 26, 2013 - As part of the state's plan to better prepare for destructive storms, Connecticut officials on Wednesday announced nine microgrid projects that will receive a total of $18 million in funding.

The projects will connect neighborhoods or communities with a small power plants, like a fuel-cell or a natural gas turbine, that will be able to operate independently from the grid. The systems have gained increased attention after a number of large powerful storms have hit the Northeast in recent years, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without power for days.

"Today marks another step forward for how we handle extreme weather," Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said, standing outside of City Hall flanked by state and local officials. read more>>>

Off-Grid Sterilization With 'Solar Steam'
July 22, 2013 — Rice University nanotechnology researchers have unveiled a solar-powered sterilization system that could be a boon for more than 2.5 billion people who lack adequate sanitation. The "solar steam" sterilization system uses nanomaterials to convert as much as 80 percent of the energy in sunlight into germ-killing heat.

The technology is described online in a July 8 paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition. In the paper, researchers from Rice's Laboratory for Nanophotonics (LANP) show two ways that solar steam can be used for sterilization -- one setup to clean medical instruments and another to sanitize human waste. read more>>>

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Solar Air Conditioners Can Solve Australia’s Energy Woes
On a hot Australian summer’s day when the sun is blazing down the heat is oppressive for all plants and creatures including you. It would be nice if someone could turn at least some of this heat into cooling? A cool idea indeed! Well much more than just a cool idea, this is now a cool reality.

• Making our life more comfortable

• Making a lot of economic sense

• Improving the environment

A commercially viable, efficient, mature and reliable solar air-conditioning package is now available as a result of our research and development. Instead of siphoning away mains power on the hottest days, causing power blackouts and worse, GreenLand Systems solar air-conditioning rely on solar energy. And the hotter the Australian sunshine the more cooling power it will provide. read more>>>

American Vanadium Announces Energy Storage and Renewable Microgrid Initiative for Remote Communities across Northern Canada
July 22, 2013 - AMERICAN VANADIUM CORP. ("American Vanadium" or the "Company") (TSX.V: AVC) (OTCQX: AVCVF) announces it has engaged Hon. Robert Nault to develop energy storage and renewable microgrids for remote communities and First Nations in Canada and the United States. This is a key initiative for American Vanadium which recently became the Master Sales Agent in North America for Gildemeister's CellCube energy storage system, the world's leading vanadium redox flow battery.

"Currently there are hundreds of communities across the United States and Canada that are operating off grid and relying on very expensive diesel generation" said Ron MacDonald, Executive Chairman of American Vanadium. read more>>>

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Grid Evolving and Connecting Utilities and Customers
Jul 21, 2013 - Electricity is the lifeblood of our nation's economy and quality of life, and the leadership of both political parties, including President Obama, are on written record stating that the United States cannot achieve a strong, secure 21st Century economy with a 20th Century Electricity System.

It must be transformed from its current obsolete analog, electromechanical grid structure to a truly intelligent electronically controlled system with a fully integrated network that diagnoses and resolves problems instantly as they arise, and maximizes reliability and efficiency. read more>>>

Green Architecture and Construction Materials Expo 2013 to Be Held in August
The Shanghai exhibition engages you to shape a green future

Jul. 22, 2013 - Green Architecture and Construction Materials Expo 2013, jointly organized by Shanghai Building Materials Industry Association and Shanghai Modern International Exhibition Co., Ltd., will be held from August 15 to 17, 2013. The expo, recognized as the largest show of its kind in Asia, will display China and the world's latest products and leading technologies in the construction materials market. After years of development, it has become one of the most-attended construction materials exhibitions in China. The show will provide opportunities to meet, do business with, and otherwise cooperate with the stakeholders of the construction materials sector . read more>>>

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IFC & WorldGBC team up to promote green buildings
Jul 22, 2013 - International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) are to collaborate to rapidly scale up the construction of green buildings in emerging markets.

The new partnership demonstrates a shared commitment to playing a leadership role in transforming the built environment and mitigating climate change.

The WorldGBC has agreed to connect its network of national green building councils to IFC’s investment and advisory program. read more>>>

New Laws and Leadership Cultivate Green Building in Southwest
July 22, 2013 - There’s something happening in those dry Southwestern mountains. It seems to be billowing outward from the ponderosa pines, carried by the roadrunner into the fields of Indian paintbrush and down into the mighty Colorado River. Thanks to the prolific outreach efforts of USGBC’s green building community, the benefits of healthy, efficient and low-impact buildings are on builder's minds, and lawmakers are taking action.

Here's some recent highlights from 2013:

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Met Office PV system generates more electricity than expected in first year
22 July 2013 - The 250kW solar PV array installed on the roof of the Met Office HQ at Exeter has outperformed all initial estimations

The system has been in place for a year now but despite some terrible weather over the past 12 months the Met Office’s PV array on the roof of its Exeter HQ has still out-performed initial expectations.

Official figures show that 2012 was one of the wettest years on record for the UK with June 2012 being the least sunny month since 1910. read more>>>

Thai solar farm commences operations
18 July 2013 - Symbior Solar Siam has celebrated the start of commercial operations for its solar farm at Kranuan, Khon Kaen, in Thailand. The plant commenced operations on 5th July 2013

The plant is the first of six solar PV plants in an initial 30MW pipeline and will generate 1,700 megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity per year to the community. It consists of 15,000 thin-film PV modules supplied by First Solar and representatives of the various commercial partners were present at the opening ceremony along with local government officers. read more>>>