Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Alternative Clean Energy Roundup: 13 August 2014

IRS guidance relaxes renewable energy tax credit
08/11/14 - The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) lowered the threshold for renewable energy projects that qualify for federal tax credits.

The new guidance released Friday by the IRS and Treasury Department could provide a boost to developers and investors in the wind energy industry, who up until recently were uncertain how much they would be able to rely on federal credits, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The guidelines state renewable energy projects could qualify for a pair of tax credits if they paid for at least 3 percent of the total project cost before the start of 2014. That is down from the earlier threshold of 5 percent.

The IRS also specified which construction qualified as a project of "significant nature," which is another way developers and investor partners can be reassured they qualify for the credits. read more>>>

Teaching kids about climate change? Read them a classic story
8 Aug 2014 - A professor of environmental science at Chicago’s DePaul University, Heneghan recently started teaching a seminar called the Ecology of Childhood. Working from a list of the 100 most popular children’s books, including classics like Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see?, Heneghan explains that although they weren’t written with ecology in mind, the books are goldmines for environmental meanderings. More, they offer “the most gentle and loving way” to teach kids about the havoc humans are wreaking on nature.

While environmental literature began surfacing first in the 1960s and again the ’80s, titles are becoming more abundant under topics such as climate change. They don’t, however, “offer the subtlety and beauty” found in those written for the purpose of story. read more>>>

Toledo is a reminder that state must do more to curb runoff pollution
Aug. 11, 2014 - When state legislators return to Madison next session, they should invite in a few folks from Toledo, Ohio, to talk about how algae in Lake Erie poisoned that city's water supply. Then the legislators should sit down and craft legislation that will help farms and other sources of runoff pollution mitigate the algae blooms that overwhelm too many of Wisconsin's inland waters every summer.

A bill passed earlier this year rewriting standards to reduce phosphorus pollution, a fertilizer ingredient and primary mover in algae blooms, was a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done to regulate and deal with runoff from farms and developments. While the federal Clean Water Act and the state have done reasonably well in curbing pollution from so-called point sources, such as sewage treatment and manufacturing facilities, runoff remains a significant problem. read more>>>

Government needs to up support for green start-ups, say MPs
August 4th, 2014 - The government is “punching below its weight” when it comes to supporting businesses operating in the green economy, according to the Energy and Climate Change Committee. In a new report, MPs are critical of the government’s progress in working with low carbon start-ups and entrepreneurs.

A 2010 report from the National Audit Office (NAO) looking at the Department for Energy and Climate Change’s (DECC) record criticised the government for a poorly coordinated programme of publicly funded development sustainable technologies. The new report from the cross-party committee builds on this and assesses the developments. read more>>>

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Green economy offers opportunities for students
August 12, 2014 - “[The] green economy is growing like a mushroom,” said Professor Heila Lotz-Sistka at a recent event hosted by the Career Lounge as part of Rhodes University’s Environmental Week. Lotz-Sisitka and other speakers from the Environmental Learning Research Centre focused on the many career opportunities for those with a passion for environmental science.

Speakers spoke about their personal journeys by exploring the environmental research field and their shared love for the environmental science sector was clear.

Young people entering into the environmental field don’t necessarily need to be trained in environmental science to break into the sector, the speakers agreed. read more>>>

New material allows for ultra-thin solar cells
August 4, 2014 - Extremely thin, semi-transparent, flexible solar cells could soon become reality. At the Vienna University of Technology, Thomas Mueller, Marco Furchi and Andreas Pospischil have managed to create a semiconductor structure consisting of two ultra-thin layers, which appears to be excellently suited for photovoltaic energy conversion.

Several months ago, the team had already produced an ultra-thin layer of the photoactive crystal tungsten diselenide. Now, this semiconductor has successfully been combined with another layer made of molybdenum disulphide, creating a designer-material that may be used in future low-cost solar cells. With this advance, the researchers hope to establish a new kind of solar cell technology. read more>>>

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National Grid hails new solar legislation
August 5, 2014 - The Massachusetts Legislature has passed legislation that will establish a task force to review net metering in the commonwealth and develop recommendations on incentives and programs supporting renewable energy.

Originally proposed as H 1485, the legislation was intended to be a broad sweeping compromise legislation. The bill -- as passed, now known as HB 4385 -- is a considered by some in the industry a short-term fix to address the bottleneck of solar projects across the commonwealth by immediately raising the cap on net metering. read more>>>

300 Government Buildings are Getting Rooftop Solar in India's Tamil Nadu State
08/05/14 - After the resounding success of rooftop solar in the Indian state of Gujrat, other states in the country are scrambling to launch programs of their own. Tamil Nadu, a state that has faced power supply and demand issues for some time, is the latest province to join the solar frenzy in India. The Tamil Nadu Energy Development Agency (TEDA) has announced plans to set up rooftop solar arrays at about 300 government buildings across the region.

The agency is planning to cover 50 village government buildings and 234 local government buildings in the area with rooftop solar with a capacity of 7 kW each. read more>>>

Climate change deniers risk being left behind
6 Aug 2014 - Printers’ scepticism of climate change is holding them back from seizing the opportunities of the emerging green economy, environmental consultant Phil Lawrence says.

A recent ProPrint poll found 37 per cent of print professionals think Australia should not do anything to reduce its carbon emissions, because they do not believe man-made climate change is real.

Those who said Australia should do something to reduce emissions largely rejected the Abbott Government’s direct action plan, with only 15 per cent saying it was the best option, compared to 24 per cent advocating a carbon tax and the same number favouring an emissions trading scheme. read more>>>

Community-based Micro Grids: Experiences in Rural Kenya
4 August 2014 - I am standing in Olosho-Oibor, a small village three-hours from Nairobi, at the bottom of the Ngong Hills (famous as the place where Denys Finch Hatton crashed his plane and died in Karen Blixen’s autobiography Out of Africa). Beeping in my pocket, my smartphone has just received an email, yet the nearest connection to the national grid is about 15km, or a three to four hour walk away. The contrast between my rural surroundings and the wireless 21st century couldn't be starker. But unlike many people - not only in Kenya, but in large parts of Sub-Saharan Africa - the villagers of Olosho-Oibor do not need to make that long walk to charge their phones or LED lanterns, thanks to a solar-wind hybrid micro grid they have been successfully operating since 2009. read more>>>

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Germany's solar story
July 31, 2014 - The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has released a study prepared by the Brattle Group, which takes an in-depth look at Germany's solar support programs and how the United States can benefit in the long term by applying lessons learned.

Currently, Germany has 35 GW of installed solar capacity -- representing about 7 percent of the nation's wholesale generation -- and is on track to reach 52 GW in the near future. But the path has not been obstacle free.

"The primary lessons from the German experience are that a system of FITs [feed-in-tariffs], such as the one used in Germany, can be highly effective in promoting the growth of solar PV," the report contends. read more>>>

Large-scale photovoltaics project in Thailand has been completed
31.07.2014 - SPCG Public Company Limited and the Kyocera Corporation have installed thirty-five photovoltaic systems with a total capacity of 257 MW as part of a large-scale project in Thailand. The companies have now announced that the project is operational.

SPCG began the project in 2009 as a response to the strong demand that arose in Thailand in 2007, when a feed-in system for renewable forms of energy was announced. Kyocera provided approximately 1,100,000 modules for the systems. read more>>>

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