Monday, September 30, 2013

Alternative Clean Energy Roundup: 30 September 2013

Utilities & Small Solar: Learn to Love It
09/24/2013 - As we've been noting through a variety of articles, the advent of significant sources of solar, wind and distributed energy in general is threatening utilities' traditional business model. The trend is also toward using less energy through smart meters and energy retrofits.

After a decade or so of being forced to support renewable energy through state-mandated Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) and energy efficiency through state Energy Efficiency Resource Standards, these programs are working and utilities are feeling it in their bottom line. read more>>>

Can Ultrasolar’s Patented Pyrotechnics Boost Solar Cell Efficiency?
September 24th, 2013 - Ultrasolar Technology is a Silicon Valley startup that has developed a pyroelectric device to boost solar cell efficiency.

We all know what “pyro” means, but what is “pyroelectric” all about? According to this Greentech Media piece, which provides a helfpul overview of Ultrasolar’s methodology, “[p]yroelectricity converts heat to [an] electric field.”

One of Ultrasolar’s patents says this:

Super Thin Solar Panels Crown the Spectacular 'Green Zero' Modular Getaway in Italy
09/24/13 - Green Zero by Studio di Architettura Daniele Menichini is a new interpretation of modular housing that strives to be more like a private getaway than a place to live. The minimalist design ensures the structure is at home in almost any environment, from the backyard to the beach. Constructed using a wooden prefab exterior built on top of a natural stone foundation, the thin film solar-powered home in Italy also features an integrative rainwater management and drainage system.

The interior relies on a simplistic design, coming to life thanks to accents of color throughout the single bedroom dwelling. Even though the room is made for two, there is ample space to fit many more people should the occasion call for it. read more>>>

Snøhetta's Solar-Powered Maggie's Cancer Center Makes its Official Debut in Aberdeen, Scotland
09/24/13 - Snohetta’s Maggie’s Cancer Center made its official debut in Scotland yesterday. The cancer care facility is a single-story curved building with a concrete shell-like exterior and a soft timber interior. The 350 square meter center in Aberdeen will draw from its environment to provide the best climate for its patients and a varying number of visitors who circulate throughout the day.

Maggie’s Cancer Center resembles a pavilion more than a traditional healthcare facility. Built as part of the Elizabeth Montgomerie Foundation fundraising campaign, it is a place where people affected by the illness can meet, as well as receive care and guidance. Located at the southern boundary of the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary’s Foresterhill site, at the edge of Westbum field, the center will be connected to the hospital while still retaining its independence. read more>>>

Wind and Weather

Standard Solar and Solar Grid Storage Collaborate to Complete Pioneering Commercial Solar Microgrid
ROCKVILLE, Md., Sep 24, 2013 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Standard Solar, a leader in the full-service development, construction, integration, financing and installation of solar electric systems, in collaboration with Solar Grid Storage, today announced that construction is complete on the solar microgrid project at Maryland-developer Konterra's headquarters. The project, announced earlier this year, is a grid-interactive energy storage system co-located with a new 1,368 panel photovoltaic (PV) array, creating one of the nation's first commercial scale microgrids.

This 402.3 kW groundbreaking system, located at Konterra's corporate headquarters in Laurel, MD, is estimated to generate 20 percent of the building's annual power. The canopied solar array, which includes two electric vehicle charging stations with infrastructure for four additional stations, will be dedicated by Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley on October 15. read more>>>

A new climate economy
JOHANNESBURG, 24 September 2013 (IRIN) - For some years the idea of a "green economy" that would be less dependent on fossil fuels and low on harmful greenhouse gas emissions has been doing the rounds at the UN climate change talks, but reception to the idea has ranged from lukewarm to hostile.

On 24 September another idea for a cleaner economy, the "New Climate Economy Project", was announced in New York. This time, some of the world's leading economists have signed up, including Lord Nicholas Stern, the Vice-Chair of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate. He is the author of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, produced for the British government in 2006, the first study to put a price tag on the cost of inaction on climate change. read more>>>

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Two Icons Go Green
Long overdue upgrades make the Empire State Building and the U.N. Secretariat building relevant in the 21st Century.

September 2013 - Two iconic Manhattan skyscrapers have emerged from major renovations with sharply reduced carbon footprints, making them beacons of New York's evolving "green skyline." But the two projects could hardly be more different. The United Nations Secretariat building, designed by a team of architects including Oscar Niemeyer and Le Corbusier, was completed in 1952. After a gut renovation, the 39-story building reopened this year. "We tracked the LEED criteria, as well as guidelines from Japan and Great Britain and Australia, which in some cases are more stringent," says Michael Adlerstein, Assistant Secretary-General and Executive Director of the U.N. Capital Master Plan. "We wanted to restore the building in a way that, if we were to be evaluated, would meet the standards of what the world expects." read more>>>

Wormlike Hematite Photoanode Breaks the World-Record for Solar Hydrogen Production Efficiency
Sep. 25, 2013 — A research team of Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), South Korea, developed a "wormlike" hematite photoanode that can convert sunlight and water to clean hydrogen energy with a record-breaking high efficiency of 5.3%.

This research was published in Scientific Reports, a science journal published by the Nature Publishing Group.

The previous record of solar hydrogen efficiency among stable oxide semiconductor photoanodes was 4.2% owned by the research group of Prof. Michael Graetzel at the Ecole Polytechnique de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland. read more>>>

German-French Team Unveils World's Most Efficient Solar Cell!
09/25/13 - A team comprised of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems, Soitec, CEA-Leti and the Helmholtz Center, Berlin has just unveiled the world’s most efficient solar cell! Boasting an efficiency of 44.7%, the cell breaks the record set by Sharp just three months ago by 0.3%. The four-junction photovoltaic cell is not only dramatically more efficient than the theoretical 33.7% efficiency limit of conventional silicon-based solar PV, but it puts the team well on the road to reaching their goal of 50% efficiency by 2015.

Simply put, solar cell efficiency refers to how much energy from light—across the entire spectrum from ultraviolet to infrared—is converted into electricity. Greater efficiency in turn yields more cost-effective solar installations; using a smaller surface area, more electricity can be derived over the course of a given system’s lifespan. This efficiency is key to NREL’s goal of making large-scale solar energy systems cost-competitive with other energy sources by 2020, and key to making solar in general more affordable around the globe. read more>>>

New Global Commission aims to identify pathways to economic prosperity and a safe climate
Sep. 24, 2013 - New Climate Economy project led by former President of Mexico Felipe Calderón, with government, business and finance leaders from 14 countries

As evidence of human-induced climate change mounts, a new global commission launched today will analyze the economic costs and benefits of acting on climate change. The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate comprises leaders from government, finance and business from 14 countries, chaired by former President of Mexico Felipe Calderón.

The Commission is launching the New Climate Economy project, bringing together some of the world’s foremost economic experts to examine how stronger economic performance can be supported by good climate policy. The project aims to contribute to the global debate about economic policy, and to inform government, business and investment decisions. read more>>>

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Alternative Clean Energy Roundup: 29 September 2013

Sustainable Design Corp New Website Unites Green Homeowners, Builders
September 21, 2013 - Sustainable Design Corp. has rolled out a new website for green homeowners, builders and suppliers. The site is a clearing house of resources and your green building advisor dedicated to bringing the benefits and savings of sustainable design to the American home.

The purpose of the Sustainable Design Co. is to educate the American homeowner or buyer on the true value of sustainable design and green construction and to connect them with sustainable resources and builders in their local area. “With the right information, a builder or designer can create a structure that is easier to build, costs less, has longer lasting qualities, and is easier on the owners pocketbook and the environment; having a footprint that is years ahead of its conventional counterpart”, says Clark Baxter, founder of Sustainable Design. read more>>>

World Record Solar Cell With 44.7% Efficiency
Sep. 23, 2013 — The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, Soitec, CEA-Leti and the Helmholtz Center Berlin jointly announced today having achieved a new world record for the conversion of sunlight into electricity using a new solar cell structure with four solar subcells. Surpassing competition after only over three years of research, and entering the roadmap at world class level, a new record efficiency of 44.7% was measured at a concentration of 297 suns. This indicates that 44.7% of the solar spectrum's energy, from ultraviolet through to the infrared, is converted into electrical energy. This is a major step towards reducing further the costs of solar electricity and continues to pave the way to the 50% efficiency roadmap. read more>>>

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Study Finds Renewable Energy is Cheaper than Coal in the US
09/23/13 - A new study reveals that wind farms are less costly than new coal-fired plants, and cost about the same, if not less, than new natural gas plants. It sounds pretty extraordinary, but if one looks at the cost of warming and health issues caused by carbon emissions, as well as the hazards caused by sulfur dioxide emissions from coal-fired plants, the numbers begin to fall sharply in favor of renewable energy.

The report, authored by Laurie T. Johnson, Chief Economist at the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), along with Starla Yeh and Chris Hope, examines the Social Cost of Carbon (SCC). The metric is currently used by the U.S. government and measures how much damage one ton of CO2 emitted today causes now and into the future. The EPA describes it as “a comprehensive estimate of climate change damages and includes, but is not limited to, changes in net agricultural productivity, human health, and property damages from increased flood risk.” read more>>>

The Tax Break Most 'Green' Entrepreneurs Forget
September 23, 2013 - Could your company use a tax deduction of hundreds of thousands of dollars? If so, read on.

While entrepreneurs are clearly seeing the opportunities of the green economy, many are not fully profiting from a key tax break that rewards their everyday environmental endeavors -- 179D of the tax code.

For many architectural or engineering firms contracted by federal, state or local institutions -- including state universities -- there is a very good chance the work they perform on a daily basis could save them hundreds of thousands of tax dollars. read more>>>

'Green future' development: Top 10 priorities for emerging economy countries
23-Sep-2013 - Malaysian leaders meet top US, other international experts at High Level Green Future Forum, Fairmont Hotel San Francisco

Investments in green energy, education, networking opportunities and research top a list of 10 priorities for countries looking to move up the world's financial ranks, according to a leading US expert in innovation, creativity, entrepreneurship and economic growth.

Jerry Hultin, Senior Presidential Fellow of New York University, and President Emeritus of the Polytechnic Institute of NYU, says investments in life-long education and entrepreneurial spirit are the primary keys to a country's economic breakthrough.

Mr. Hultin, also a former US Secretary of the Navy, who now advises leaders in both the private and public sectors worldwide, is one of several top US experts attending an international forum Monday Sept. 23 in San Francisco: "Building Sustainable Green Growth and Green Future," followed by an afternoon session with leading American executives detailing "successful growth strategies of innovation-driven companies." read more>>>

Research and Markets: Microgrid Market - 2013 Report
September 24, 2013 - Research and Markets has announced the addition of the Microgrid Market - 2013 Report to their offering.

Global installed capacity of microgrid has seen a staggering growth since 2011 and is forecast to grow at a CAGR of over 17% from 2012- 2022 to attain a total installed capacity of over 15GW by 2022. In terms of market value for the vendors the market presents a potential of over $5billion and is likely to reach up-to $27 billion by 2022 growing at a CAGR of over 17% from 2012-2022.

Campus/Institutional microgrid is the largest microgrid by application and is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 18.83% from 2012-2022. read more>>>

Addressing carbon pollution from power plants is vital for avoiding catastrophic climate change
Sep. 20, 2013 - Future U.S. power suppliers will need to limit their carbon pollution, thanks to new standards announced today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The proposed emissions standards for new power plants are an important measure in implementing the President’s Climate Action Plan (announced in June) to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate global warming.

EPA’s announcement comes against the backdrop of our deepening understanding of the science of climate change. It also arrives as we witness multiple extreme weather events that present a vivid picture of what we are likely to experience in a changing world. This summer, we saw record rainfalls on the southeast coast, massive wildfires in California and Idaho, and most recently, deadly flooding in Colorado. These extreme events–to say nothing of their massive economic cost–remind us of why the United States has an obligation to cut its emissions. read more>>>

World Bank green bonds surpass us$4 billion mark – reflections five years on
Aug. 28, 2013 - Since the launch in 2008, the World Bank’s green bonds have grown quickly and reached an important milestone in August. Earlier, this month, the World Bank launched a US$550 million green bond bumping the total amount of World Bank green bonds issued to over $4 billion dollars since the green bond program began. This milestone prompted us to pause and take stock of the program and the new market it helped start.

As countries move toward a low-carbon, climate resilient future, the appetite for innovative climate finance is growing. read more>>>

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Power Sector Opportunities for Reducing Carbon Dioxide Emissions: Michigan
Sep. 1, 2013 - According to new WRI analysis, in the near- to mid-term, Michigan can meet and possibly exceed future emissions standards for existing power plants. The state has renewable energy (RPS) and energy efficiency standards in place that are already set to achieve significant reductions in CO2 emissions from the power sector.

WRI analysis finds that Michigan can reduce its CO2 emissions 33 percent below 2011 levels by 2020 using existing state policies and infrastructure opportunities. These reductions would meet or exceed relatively stringent EPA standards for existing power plants. read more>>>

Business Briefs: Volkwswagen wins green power award
September 24th, 2013 - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Monday awarded the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga with its Green Power Leadership Award, which is given each year to the leading green power users.

Volkswagen Chattanooga is currently generating more than 13 million kilowatt-hours of green power annually from its 30-acre solar farm at the VW plant in the Enterprise South Industrial Park.

The solar farm generates about 12 percent of the power used in the VW assembly plant.

The Chattanooga VW plant is the first in the world to gain LEED Platinum certification for its energy efficiency and use of sustainable power sources. read more>>>