Thursday, July 31, 2014

Alternative Clean Energy Roundup: 31 July 2014

In Ohio, clean energy is a sound investment
By turning its back on renewable energy, Ohio is missing out on the potential for new businesses

7/29/2014 - RENEWABLE-energy policies help businesses and investors save money, create jobs, and reduce carbon pollution. The recent move by Ohio politicians to freeze the state’s renewable-energy and energy-efficiency standards shows they are not thinking ahead. We need to support policies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s new Clean Power Plan, which helps us invest in a clean-energy future and cut pollution.

The Needmor Fund is a family foundation that works with others to bring about social justice. We are headquartered in Toledo, and work to help support access to public participation in a democratic society. read more>>>

Could California Go All in On Renewable Energy?
Jul 29, 2014 - A Stanford professor has presented a plan to power all of the Golden State’s energy needs with renewable energy by 2050.

“If implemented, this plan will eliminate air pollution mortality and global warming emissions from California, stabilize prices and create jobs -- there is little downside,” said Mark Z. Jacobson, the study’s lead author and a Stanford professor of civil and environmental engineering, in a press release.

It would take 25,000 onshore 5-megawatt wind turbines, 1,200 concentrated solar plants, 15 million residential rooftop photovoltaic systems, 72 geothermal plants, 5,000 wave devices and 3,400 tidal turbines. read more>>>

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Microgrids: How the U.S. Military Can Benefit
July 23, 2014 - The rise of microgrids — small, site-specific electrical power generation and distribution systems — has been documented among homeowners in disaster-prone areas and noticed by the companies that run the big grids. Nationwide, microgrids produce only about a gigawatt of power collectively, reports say, and many of those projects are by homeowners and institutions such as colleges. But there also another potentially big American player: the Defense Department.

A new analysis released by Red Mountain Insights notes that the military moves a lot of fossil fuel around to generate electricity at its far-flung facilities. “The fuel powers more than 15,000 generators in Afghanistan alone,” the research firm says. “What if, through use of Microgrid technologies, the military could cut that fuel transportation and use in half?” read more>>>

Microgrids: Electricity Goes Local
Jul 23, 2014 - When Hurricane Sandy hit New York in 2012, most of lower Manhattan went dark, and it was almost two weeks before most of the power was restored. But in one building in Greenwich Village, the lights stayed on and the heat kept working (and the building’s population doubled). That’s because, as University of Wisconsin engineering professor Thomas Jahns explained, that building had “its own miniature version of a utility grid”: a microgrid.

Big Old Power Grid

The trillions of watts of electricity used every year in the United States are delivered by just three huge power grids. read more>>>

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Spinach could lead to alternative energy more powerful than Popeye
July 23, 2014 - Spinach gave Popeye super strength, but it also holds the promise of a different power for a group of scientists: the ability to convert sunlight into a clean, efficient alternative fuel.

Purdue University physicists are part of an international group using spinach to study the proteins involved in photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert the sun's energy into carbohydrates used to power cellular processes.

"The proteins we study are part of the most efficient system ever built, capable of converting the energy from the sun into chemical energy with an unrivaled 60 percent efficiency," said Yulia Pushkar, a Purdue assistant professor of physics involved in the research. " read more>>>

Homes Are Getting Greener
There's a lot of potential for improving the energy efficiency of the existing housing stock.

July 22, 2014 - A promising trend in home construction is the rising number of certified green and energy efficient homes. Recent consumer preference surveys indicate that energy-efficient features top homebuyer wish lists. While newly built homes increasingly include such elements, there remains significant market potential for the remodeling sector to improve the existing housing stock.

Industry surveys, such as a 2013 McGraw Hill Construction study of green building by National Association of Home Builders members, detail the degree to which green building practices and products are being deployed in the home building sector. read more>>>

Putting Singapore on the global map for green buildings
In five short years since it was established, the Singapore Green Building Council has put Singapore on the global map for its excellence in green building practices. Vaidehi Shah traces the industry-led NGO's origin and progress.

23 July 2014 - While it is unusual for any government to be involved in setting up NGOs (non-government organizations), this did not deter Singapore’s building authority in helping to create the city-state’s first industry-led organization to champion green building awareness some five years ago.

Never did they imagine that the fledgling Singapore Green Building Council would grow and evolve to become a powerful green building advocate that would put Singapore on the global map. read more>>>

Bluewater Wind finally blowing
July 23, 2014 - NextEra Energy Partners' (NEP) Bluewater Wind Energy Center in Huron County, Ontario has begun commercial operation.

The project is comprised of 37 turbines and capable of generating up to 60 MW of electricity, or enough to power approximately 15,000 homes. The Bluewater Wind Energy Center is owned by Bluewater Wind, LP, an indirect subsidiary of NextEra Energy Canada Partners Holdings, ULC.

"We are proud that the Bluewater Wind Energy Center not only contributes emissions-free electricity to Ontarians, but also that we have been able to significantly contribute to the local economy in Huron County through the development of this important project," said Armando Pimentel, president, NextEra Energy Partners. "We are very proud to add this terrific asset to our growing portfolio." read more>>>

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Hybrid renewable energy system overcomes urban challenges
July 22, 2014 - A hybrid renewable energy project recently commissioned on the rooftop of law firm Myers, Fletcher & Gordon (MFG) in Kingston, Jamaica will harness both wind and solar resources. Windstream, the system's provider, call it the largest in the world.

The nearly $1 million project faced challenges from the beginning: limited roof space common in urban locations and the high cost of traditional wind and solar farms made the hybrid system particularly attractive. read more>>>

Hydrogen breakthrough could make fuel greener
July 22, 2014 - Rutgers researchers have developed a technology that could overcome a major cost barrier to making clean-burning hydrogen fuel. The technology is intended to replace cost-prohibitive platinum for electrolysis reaction. The resulting hydrogen fuel could, potentially, replace fossil fuels.

Finding ways to make electrolysis reactions commercially viable is important because processes that make hydrogen today start with methane -- itself a fossil fuel -- thus the need to consume fossil fuel negates current claims that hydrogen is a "green" fuel, according to the researchers. read more>>>

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Alternative Clean Energy Roundup: 29 July 2014

Strategies for energy security and climate protection are one and the same
July 28, 2014 - Not so long ago, the consensus in Europe — and across the Atlantic, too — was that hard-boiled energy security didn’t have time for extravagant clean-energy agendas. Every time Russia shut off Eastern Europe’s gas, some spooked nations questioned the logic of trying to meet EU climate goals while simultaneously wrangling energy independence from Putin’s petro-state. Even earlier this year — with Moscow’s springtime annexation of Crimea — some politicians panicked: Suddenly fracking was back on the agenda and Europe was once again grasping for new, short-term fossil-fuel sources and routes.

But Europe’s energy security and climate protection strategies aren’t mutually exclusive. read more>>>

Report shows 1 in 3 Texans chooses renewable energy options
27 July 2014 - A Texas Empowerment report released by Choose Energy shows that about one in three Texans choose renewably sourced energy options.

That’s 100 percent more than any other state, Levente McCrary, spokeswoman for Choose Energy, said in an email.

“While Texans may have bigger grids and bills when it comes to energy, they also have a lot of choice in green energy plans — which may be partly why they gravitate to green energy plans more often than any other state,” she said.

This month, Choose Energy, an online energy marketplace that helps customers in deregulated areas, such as Tyler, choose the best energy option, released the Texas Empowerment report, found at read more>>>

7 Easy Steps to Green Buildings
21st July 2014 - So you are thinking green! Whether it is an existing building or a new construction, there are several ways of going on the green path. But the best green buildings will always include the following:

The best ‘site’ forward

Good site selection is the foundation for a green building. Do not build on sensitive habitats like wetlands, flood zones or endangered wildlife habitats. Consider a reclaimed brownfield, in-fill and greyfield sites (previously developed site with all utilities in place) instead of clearing greenfields or undeveloped lands. Proximity to mass transit and community resources will go a long way in not only minimising automobile dependence but also in creating strong self-sustainable green communities and neighbourhoods. read more>>>

Rehabilitation funding focuses on critical water infrastructure
July 21, 2014 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture is making a $262 million investment into the nation's waterways to rehabilitate dams that provide critical infrastructure and protect public health and safety.

"This investment will protect people and property from floods, help keep our water clean, and ensure that critical structures continue to provide benefits for future generations," Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Chief Jason Weller said. "Families, businesses and our agriculture economy depend on responsible management of dams and watersheds."

A number of the projects to be funded are in Oklahoma where the first full watershed plan and structure completed by USDA on private lands happened in the 1940s. read more>>>

Wind and Weather

Microgrid becomes popular option
July 19, 2014 - The periodic blackouts in Cassina Tarsia's Oceanside, Calif., neighborhood meant the 71-year-old couldn't charge her cellphone or electric wheelchair.

But outages aren't a problem anymore.

Since February, Tarsia's garage has housed a suitcase-sized battery that stores power from her rooftop solar panels and the main electrical grid. In a blackout, the battery can power her home for days or even weeks.

“I think about what will happen in a big earthquake and what happened in Japan with the tsunami,” said Tarsia, who paid $5,000 to get the battery installed. “I wanted to be prepared.” read more>>>

Clearing the way for extremely efficient solar cells: First ab initio method for characterizing hot carriers
July 17, 2014 - One of the major road blocks to the design and development of new, more efficient solar cells may have been cleared. Researchers with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have developed the first ab initio method -- meaning a theoretical model free of adjustable or empirical parameters -- for characterizing the properties of "hot carriers" in semiconductors. Hot carriers are electrical charge carriers -- electrons and holes -- with significantly higher energy than charge carriers at thermal equilibrium.

"Hot carrier thermalization is a major source of efficiency loss in solar cells, but because of the sub-picosecond time scale and complex physics involved, characterization of hot carriers has long been a challenge even for the simplest materials," says Steven Louie, a theoretical physicist and senior faculty scientist with Berkeley Lab's Materials Sciences Division (MSD). read more>>>


Tax reductions for Indian PV industry
22.07.2014 - The Indian finance minister has proposed measures to boost the Indian photovoltaics business. In addition to financial support (see the article), tax reductions will also be implemented.

Finance minister Mr Arun Jaitley stated that certain components for manufacturing PV systems will be exempt from basic customs duty. Among them are EVA sheets, solar back sheets and specified inputs used in their manufacture, solar tempered glass used in the manufacture of photovoltaic cells and modules, and flat copper wire for the manufacture of PV ribbons. All of these are exempt from excise duty. read more>>>

Photovoltaics market: Europe is in decline, but Asia is booming
22.07.2014 - The European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) has published its report 'Global Market Outlook for Photovoltaics 2014-2018'. Data for the year 2013 clearly shows that the market is shifting from Europe to Asia.

According to the EPIA report, 2013 was a good year for the global photovoltaics industry. The global increase in capacity in 2011 and 2012 was approximately 30 GW per year, but newly installed capacity climbed to 34.8 GW last year. This brings the total installed capacity worldwide to 138.9 GW. read more>>>

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The Transition to a Green Economy in North Africa - What Prospects for Private Companies?
18 July 2014 - Private companies must play a leading role to support public institutions in their efforts to break the "business as usual" model. They will have to move gradually towards cleaner, energy and resource-saving, as well as eco-innovation based production methods, which constitute the only way to transform environmental constraints into opportunities for economic and social performance.

The study that has just been launched by the ECA Sub regional Office for North Africa aims to assess the commitment of businesses to consider environmental concerns and principles of sustainable development.. This study entitled "industry and green economy in North Africa: read more>>>

Inventor Pushes Solar Panels for Roads, Highways
Jul. 11, 2014 - The solar panels that Idaho inventor Scott Brusaw has built aren't meant for rooftops. They are meant for roads, driveways, parking lots, bike trails and, eventually, highways.

Brusaw, an electrical engineer, says the hexagon-shaped panels can withstand the wear and tear that comes from inclement weather and vehicles, big and small, to generate electricity.

'We need to rebuild our infrastructure,' said Brusaw, the head of Solar Roadways, based in Sandpoint, Idaho, about 90 miles northeast of Spokane, Washington. His idea contains 'something for everyone to like.'

'Environmentalists like it,' he said. 'Climate change deniers like it because it creates jobs.' read more>>>