Friday, October 31, 2014

Alternative Clean Energy Roundup: 31 October 2014

Renewables & Energy Efficiency Responsible For 70% Of Carbon Emission Drop Since 2007
October 29th, 2014 - Renewable energy development and implemented energy efficiency measures are responsible for 70% of the the drop in US carbon dioxide emissions seen since 2007 (when a slow decline began), according to a new report from Greenpeace.

The findings stand in contrast to some of the arguments put out there by detractors of renewable energy — some of who have argued that the drop in carbon emissions was the result of the natural gas tracking boom. The numbers say otherwise, of course.

The numbers come from Greenpeace energy analyst Lauri Myllyvirta who published them recently on the Greenpeace Energydesk website. read more>>>

Europe’s Ambitious Climate Goal
OCT. 28, 2014 - The European Union continues to lead by example on the issue of climate change. Last week, the union’s 28 members agreed to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent, compared with 1990 levels, by 2030.

This is, of course, just a number. Goals are easy to set but harder to meet, and many details of how Europe gets from here to there remain undecided. But the plan is an important step forward as well as a clear signal to other big emitters of greenhouse gases to set ambitious goals of their own in the months leading up to the next United Nations summit meeting on climate change scheduled for December 2015 in Paris.

Europe has already made impressive progress.

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Minnesota regains a top-tier ranking for policies promoting energy efficiency
10/28/14 - Minnesota has returned to a top-10 ranking among the states for its investments that promote energy efficiency, according to new national rankings by the American Council for an Energy-Efficiency Economy.

The rankings are worth attention because ACEEE is a respected analyst as well as advocate on the subject of efficient energy use, consistently making the case that the wisest use of each energy dollar is not to spend it at all — and that every dollar invested in averting energy consumption can be worth several dollars invested in increased energy production, no matter how clean and green the source.

Or, as the organization puts it in the introduction to its 2014 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard: read more>>>

Generating Power From Tidal Lagoons
OCT. 28, 2014 - Harvesting energy from the tides is hard to do, and the development of a new generation of sea-based power arrays lags far behind more widely used renewable technologies like wind and solar.

But the company pushing a new project on the coast of Wales thinks its twist — a 21st-century update of traditional dam-based hydropower — will be much easier to bring to fruition. If it wins government permission to go forward, Tidal Lagoon Power Limited says the approach, known as tidal lagoon generation, could provide as much as 10 percent of Britain’s power from six of its projects within a decade. read more>>>

While You Were Getting Worked Up Over Oil Prices, This Just Happened to Solar
Oct 29, 2014 - Every time fossil fuels get cheaper, people lose interest in solar deployment. That may be about to change.

After years of struggling against cheap natural gas prices and variable subsidies, solar electricity is on track to be as cheap or cheaper than average electricity-bill prices in 47 U.S. states -- in 2016, according to a Deutsche Bank report published this week. That’s assuming the U.S. maintains its 30 percent tax credit on system costs, which is set to expire that same year.

Even if the tax credit drops to 10 percent, solar will soon reach price parity with conventional electricity in well over half the nation: 36 states. read more>>>

DOE pushing new efficiency rules for furnaces
10/29/14 - Furnaces could be the latest household appliance facing new energy conservation standards.

The Department of Energy (DOE) is expected to propose new efficiency rules for residential non-weatherized gas furnaces and mobile home gas furnaces in the coming weeks.

DOE is waiting for the White House's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs to finish reviewing the energy conservation standards before it proposes the new rules for these furnaces. read more>>>

EU renewable heating sector remains confident
24 October 2014 - The European Council’s new target for renewables falls short of the needs of Europeans say AEBIOM, EGEC, and ESTIF.

The European Biomass Association (AEBIOM), European Geothermal Energy Council (EGEC) and European Solar Thermal Industry Federation (ESTIF) have expressed disappointment in the new renewable energy goals agreed by the European Council yet they remain confident in the continuity of renewable energy development.

The EC’s target of 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gases (GHGs) incorporates a 27 percent goal for renewables, but the three industry groups believe that this is far too low a target for the needs of most Europeans. The target is also only binding at EU level and only includes an indicative 27 percent for energy efficiency. read more>>>

HyperSolar achieves breakthrough in hydrogen separation process
21 October 2014 - Hydrogen technology company HyperSolar has developed a novel system architecture to efficiently separate and produce pure hydrogen from sunlight and water.

The company has achieved a significant technological milestone in its pursuit of clean hydrogen fuel production by eliminating an expensive hydrogen-oxygen separation process. This in turn will dramatically reduce the overall system cost of producing hydrogen from sunlight.

Self-contained sunlight driven water-splitting technology, known more generally as “artificial photosynthesis”, typically produces hydrogen and oxygen gas bubbles in the same reactor. This mixture is potentially explosive and the two gases must therefore be quickly separated from each other. However, current gas separation technology, which uses selective membranes, is very expensive and the membranes themselves also need to be regularly replaced. read more>>>

Cork launches electric car initiative in aim to become European Green Capital
23/10/2014 - The increasing popularity of electric cars is set to have a major effect on transportation in Ireland, according to the Evening Echo.

Cork wants to be at the forefront of the adoption of electric cars in Ireland, helping the region become greener while also creating new jobs.

To do this, companies and bodies have come together to encourage more people to adopt electric vehicles and to make it easier for them to charge them at home, work or in public places.

Called Drive4Zero, the initiative was launched in Cork today. read more>>>

Two years after Hurricane Sandy, recognition of Princeton's microgrid still surges
October 23, 2014 - In the nearly two years since Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey, darkening swaths of the nation's most densely populated state for days, Princeton University has emerged as a national example of how to keep power running for residents, emergency workers and crucial facilities when the next disaster strikes.

Specifically, attention has fallen on Princeton's "microgrid," an efficient on-campus power generation and delivery network that draws electricity from a gas-turbine generator and solar panel field southeast of campus in West Windsor Township, New Jersey. Capable of producing 15 megawatts (or 15 million watts) of electricity, the University's microgrid enjoys a give-and-take relationship with the main grid available to the general public and maintained by the utility company PSE&G. When campus power use is high or utility power is inexpensive, the microgrid draws from the PSE&G grid, and when campus demand is low, Princeton's microgrid can contribute power to the main grid. read more>>>

Solar Cluster proposes transitioning Brazilian island to 100% renewable energy
22.10.2014 - Members of the German industry association Solar Cluster have submitted a proposal to José Antônio Bertotti, the Minister of Science of the Brazilian state of Pernambuco. They are suggesting completely switching the power supply of the archipelago Fernando de Noronha to renewable energies.

Most of the twelve smaller islands as well as 8 km² of the main island are nature reserves, and the Marine National Park Fernando de Noronha, which covers a total area of 112 km², is even a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site. There are 3,000 residents living on the island, who currently obtain their energy almost entirely from diesel generators. That is now set to change: the island, which is famous for its status, will soon switch to solar energy. "Sun, beaches and solar energy fit together perfectly," says Carsten Tschamber, the Managing Director of Solar Cluster. "The location is ideal for our project." read more>>>

Industry emissions fall in Scotland
23 October 2014 - The closure of Cockenzie Power Station led to an 8 per cent drop in greenhouse gas emissions in Scotland, new figures have revealed.

According to a new report from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, carbon dioxide emissions from industry fell from 22.9bn kg in 2012 to 21.1bn kg in 2013.

In edition methane emissions dropped from 47.5m kg to 47.3m kg, nitrous oxide fell from 192,447 kg to 173,848kg and sulphur hexafluoride fell from 304 kg to 241 kg.

The main reason for the fall has been attributed to the coal-fired power station at Cockenzie in East Lothian shutting down in March 2013. read more>>>

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Alternative Clean Energy Roundup: 29 October 2014

Why do people put solar on their roofs? Because other people put solar on their roofs
October 23 2014 - Who chooses to install solar panels on their roof? You might assume that the people who do so are probably fairly rich (an average installation can cost around $35,000, prior to tax credits or other incentives), and most assuredly, politically liberal. They can afford it, and it fits their values to boot.

According to a new study, though, politics and income may not be such important factors after all. Examining the spread of solar photovoltaic residential installations in Connecticut, two researchers at Yale and the University of Connecticut found instead that the single most important factor driving whether a given house installed solar was peer influence -- whether other houses nearby had recently done so. In other words, much like with buying a Prius, it looks like installing solar has a lot to do with how you want people around you to think of you. "People have called it green envy before, where you want to be green so that you can show off your greenness effectively," says Yale's Kenneth Gillingham, a professor at the School of Forestry and one of the study authors. read more>>>

Big utilities pushing into booming home solar market
Oct 22, 2014 - For years, the utilities responsible for providing electricity to the nation have treated residential solar systems as a threat. Now, they want a piece of the action, and they are having to fight for the chance.

If utilities embrace home solar, their deep pockets and access to customers could transform what has been a fast-growing, but niche industry. Solar powers only half a million U.S. homes and businesses, according to solar market research firm GTM Research.

But utility-owned rooftop systems represent a change the solar installation companies who dominate the market don't want, and whether the two sides can compromise may determine if residential solar truly goes mainstream. read more>>>

Canada switches on world's first carbon capture power plant
1 October 2014 - Boundary Dam held up as first commercial-scale CCS plant and proof that coal-burning is compatible with cutting emissions

Canada has switched on the first large-scale coal-fired power plant fitted with a technology that proponents say enables the burning of fossil fuels without tipping the world into a climate catastrophe.

The project, the first commercial-scale plant equipped with carbon capture and storage technology, was held up by the coal industry as a real life example that it is possible to go on burning the dirtiest of fossil fuels while avoiding dangerous global warming. read more>>>

Viewpoints: California leads the way on stopping gas pipeline leaks
10/24/2014 - There are more than 1 million miles of pipe that carry trillions of cubic feet of natural gas to America’s homes, businesses, factories and farms each year. We depend on the reliable delivery of natural gas, but too often in recent years we have had explosions and leaks that harm our communities, degrade the environment and contribute significantly to global warming.

Thirty-seven states have programs to speed up repairs and replacement of problem sections of the gas distribution system. Most recently, California enacted a leak mitigation approach from which the whole country can take a lesson.

Part of the climate change package signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last month is a law to require a significant reduction in pipeline leaks. read more>>>

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Steyer turns to celebrities in final election-year push
10/28/14 - Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer is turning to actor Woody Harrelson and director Darren Aronofsky in a new ad urging voters to “take the fight against climate change to the ballot box.”

The 30-second ad buy, narrated by Harrelson, and directed by Aronofsky, declares the climate fight is one people “will win,” but voting on Election Day is key.

“They told us the world was flat and insisted it was the center of the universe,” Harrelson states in the ad as images of the earth in black and white flicker on the screen.

“[They] said that cigarettes were harmless.”

City council looks for renewable energy opportunities
10.27.2014 - The city of Ishpeming spent more than $200,000 on energy costs last year.

Now the city council is looking for ways to become more energy efficient.

The Ishpeming City Council approved a resolution that might set aside some land for the use of producing renewable energy.

"With that comes factories comes taxes, jobs, all of the good things that happen in a city. It's usually off of industries," said Mike Tall, Mayor.

The resolution is a way to let legislators and the state know their concerns about the need for reliable and affordable energy. It allows them to approach a number of power companies with hopes that they bring different sources of renewable energy to Ishpeming. read more>>>

Chattanooga smart grid a living lab for new energy tech
October 22, 2014 - A new partnership has been formalized with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and Chattanooga's EPB, one of the largest publicly-owned electric power distributors in the country. The partnership will establish Chattanooga's smart grid as a living laboratory for testing new energy technologies.

Under the agreement, DOE and ORNL will apply their technical expertise in areas such as data analytics, control systems, cybersecurity and high-performance computer modeling to test new smart grid technologies and processes on the electric grid in Chattanooga. read more>>>

SEPA: Imagine a new solar energy future
October 21, 2014 - In her opening speech at Solar Power International in Las Vegas this week, Julia Hamm asked attendees to Imagine a future in which solar energy and all the industry stakeholders -- from utilities to installers and manufacturers to customers -- were unhampered by existing regulatory and market structures, as well as the challenges and, at times, divisive debates they have created.

Hamm, president and CEO of the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA), threw out a challenge and invitation to the thousands of industry leaders to come up with their own ideas and visions of what this new market would look like and how it might work, forcing the audience to think about what it would be like if we could start over in a "hypothetical 51st state," building a fully diversified, integrated energy sector from the ground up. read more>>>

Sweden rated as ‘world’s greenest country’
21 October 2014 - Sweden is the world’s greenest country – but Germany is taking the credit.

Iceland, Austria and Spain are greener than you think they are. Mongolia is not very green at all. Meanwhile, the US, Australia and Japan have received too much credit for too little action.

These are some of the findings from a new report from Dual Citizen, a US-based data consultancy. They have created a Global Green Economy Index, ranking countries on both how green they are perceived to be, and how well they perform in reality. read more>>>

University Microgrid Manages Multiple Generation Assets
October 21, 2014 - Combined heat and power (CHP) technologies are sometimes overlooked as important assets that can be deployed in Smart Grids and microgrids in North America. Also known as cogeneration, it is defined in the Smart Grid Dictionary as the production of electricity and useful thermal energy from a single fuel source, typically located at or near the point of consumption. The thermal energy is typically used for heating, cooling, or applied to specific processes. CHP deserves more consideration in microgrid designs and deployments. Ongoing technology advances in combustion turbines result in much more energy-efficient equipment, and that means that the solutions are more powerful and occupy smaller form factors than in the past. That opens up more possibilities for installations within microgrids that are strategically placed to build infrastructure resiliency. read more>>>

Greenbuild Exhibitors Are Pulling the Plug To Demonstrate Net Zero Energy
October 22nd, 2014 - In the Net Zero Zone at Greenbuild 2014, exhibitors will demonstrate a solar-powered microgrid by disconnecting from the energy utility.

“Two years ago at Greenbuild I predicted that in a few years you’ll come to this conference and the booths will be powered by renewable energy generated at the show,” says Brian Patterson, president of the nonprofit EMerge Alliance. “When I walked away from that conversation, I decided that was my goal.” read more>>>

The Global Green Economy Index Winners And Losers
October 21st, 2014 - The authors of the latest Global Green Economy Index have raised concerns about the “perceptions” of developed countries such as Australia, Japan, the Netherlands, and the United States, suggesting that “perceptions of their green economic performance dramatically exceed their actual performance on the [Global Green Economy Index].”

First published in 2010 by analytics company Dual Citizen, the GGEI provides an in-depth look at how 60 countries are performing in the global green economy. Countries are measured on four separate scales: leadership and climate change; efficiency sectors; markets and investment; and environment and natural capital. There is also a difference between the perception of a country and its actual performance, as seen below. read more>>>