Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Alternative Clean Energy Roundup: 21 October 2014

Home weatherization saves costs, study finds
Ohio’s weatherization program is one of the best in the nation, resulting in home savings of more than 20 percent. But, this year the governor and legislature put a freeze on the state’s clean energy and energy efficiency efforts, and a push continues to repeal this successful program.

October 14th, 2014 - Ohio’s Home Weatherization Assistance Program results in home energy cost savings of over 20 percent on average, making it one of the best such programs in the nation. Additional benefits include pollution reduction, energy conservation, and job creation. read more>>>

Why clean energy might be cheaper than you think
14 Oct 2014 - Wind and solar power often get a bad rap for being more expensive than energy produced from fossil fuels. But what happens when you factor in, say, the health costs of people breathing smoggy air? Or the financial impact of climate change’s effect on ecosystems and precious resources like water?

Those are some of the questions the European Commission sought to answer. A new report written for the EC includes those environmental costs and more in calculations of the total costs of producing electricity from various renewable and nonrenewable sources. The result? Wind and water are the best bargains for making megawatts. read more>>>

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Waters Of The US Rule Deserves Public Attention
October 14, 2014 - We each learned early in our lives that water is necessary for all living things. We learned a little about clean water in science classes, and many among us learned that our livestock was healthier — indeed, our communities grew stronger — if we had an ample supply of healthy water.

But it is equally true that we occasionally take for granted the ability of nature to filter out the many pollutants we put into the system.

Every once in a while, we get a blunt reminder that clean water doesn’t magically come out of the tap. read more>>>

Study urges action on Lake Erie bacteria blooms
October 15, 2014 - Climate change and invasive mussels may have made Lake Erie a more inviting host for toxic bacteria in recent years, suggesting that ambitious goals are needed for reducing phosphorus runoff that feeds large blooms like the one that forced a temporary tap water shutdown in and near Toledo, Ohio, scientists said Wednesday.

Ever-larger mats of cyanobacteria, commonly known as blue-green algae, have formed on Erie since the early 2000s. They produce microcystin, a toxin that has killed pets and livestock and causes liver damage in humans. The soupy green glop prompted do-not-drink orders for two days in August that affected about 400,000 residents of northwestern Ohio and southeastern Michigan. read more>>>

Let EPA seek cleaner water
October 16, 2014 - Given the toxic algae in Lake Erie that shut down Toledo, Ohio’s municipal water system this summer, the drought that has shriveled the West, the disappearance of an acre of Louisiana wetlands per day and a host of other water-related calamities, it’s hard to believe that some politicians and their favored interests think that states are doing a bang-up job of regulating water quality.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers want to firmly define federal jurisdiction over some waterways, responsibility for which was left indistinct by U.S. Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006. Waterways in question mostly are small, including some wetlands and streams that only flow seasonally. But most are part of larger water systems. read ore>>>

Peru says country's glaciers shrank 40 pct in 4 decades from climate change
Oct 15, 2014 - Climate change has shrunk Peruvian glaciers by 40 percent in the past four decades and the melt-off has spawned nearly 1,000 new high-altitude lakes since 1980, Peru's government said on Wednesday.

Nearly 90 percent of Peruvian glaciers are smaller than 1-square-kilometer, putting them at greater risk of disappearing in coming years, Peru's water authority said in an update of its glacier inventory from the 1970s.

Peru's 2,679 glaciers, spread over 19 snow-capped mountain ranges, are the source of the vast majority of the country's drinking water. read more>>>

First US public offering of solar bonds: can crowdfunding take clean energy to the next level?
SolarCity just changed the way clean energy projects will be financed. Will retail investors give solar a boost?

15 October 2014 - The largest solar installer in the US announced Wednesday that it is offering up to $200m in bonds to retail investors, marking the first registered public sale of solar bonds in the country. SolarCity’s landmark move toward crowdfunding could democratize the way solar projects are bankrolled ­and grow overall investment for clean energy.

Large institutional investors (such as Google, Honda and US Bank, in the case of SolarCity projects) finance the bulk of solar projects today. While individual investors can already put money into solar projects via crowdfunding platforms such as Mosaic, SunFunder and Crowdsun.com, most of these opportunities are only available to accredited investors – wealthy individuals – or are limited to just one or a few states, said Tim Newell, SolarCity’s vice president of financial products. read more>>>

America Can Nearly Quadruple Its Renewable Electricity By 2030
October 19th, 2014 - A recent Union of Concerned Scientists (USC) study found that America can nearly quadruple its renewable electricity in the next 15 years, reaching 23% by 2030. This comes in response to the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal that America set a modest goal of 12% renewable energy by 2030. Rachel Cleetus, Senior Climate Economist of UCS, referred to the EPA’s goal as just a fraction above “business as usual.” The UCS found raising this target, to +23% of the nation’s electricity from non-hydro renewable sources by 2030, would cost the average household only about 18 cents per month. Cleetus described this as a realistic and affordable goal: “Looking at the way renewable energy is ramping up and costs are falling dramatically, there is a real opportunity to go farther.”

Seven states are already exceeding their proposed goals set by EPA for 2030 and another 17 have existing laws that require more renewable electricity than what the EPA requires. read more>>>

Solar Rising in Village Microgrids
10/14/2014 - Solar panels are on the rise for microgrids that bring electricity to small villages in the developing world, spawning work on low-power, direct-current homes, according to presentations at a conference here.

“In India, there’s been a big mindset shift among regulators and utilities in favor of photovoltaics and microgrids,” said Vineeth Vijayaraghavan, director of research and outreach for the non-profit Solarillion Foundation.

“So far, there’s been little research in networking microgrids, but the government is interested” in ways to connect DC rural grids to each other and to the AC urban grid, he said in a talk at the IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference. read more>>>

Microgrids Can Serve Multiple Purposes With The Right Policy Frameworks
October 14, 2014 - Remember the old beer commercial with the “tastes great….less filling” debate? Microgrids provoke a multitude of views in the USA. For the Department of Energy, developing advanced microgrids holds the promise of building new electricity resources for customers, the community and the macrogrid. For the Department of Defense, microgrids deliver energy security for military bases and mobile operations. Massachusetts thinks of microgrids as enabling environments for regulatory reform. New York, in the midst of its initiative to redefine utility business models, considers microgrids as good platforms for distributed energy resources (DER). California, on the other hand, sees microgrids as crucial to supporting the integration of renewable generation into the grid.

Larisa Dobriansky, Senior Vice President, Legal, Policy and Regulatory Affairs for General MicroGrids has excellent perspectives on how microgrids can serve in these capacities. read more>>>

Researchers create first energy storing solar cell
15.10.2014 - Researchers at the Ohio State University have developed a device, which captures energy from sunlight and stores it in form of electricity: a combined “solar battery”.

It consists of a mesh solar panel covered with a red dye (a type of dye-sensitised solar cell), which functions as an electrode shuttle, and a lithium-oxygen battery. The top of the solar battery is made of a permeable mesh solar panel made from titanium gauze with titanium dioxide rods, which functions as first electrode for the battery. A thin carbon sheet below this forms the second electrode and a lithium plate at the bottom a third one. Since the technique is based on an earlier battery model by the researchers around Yiying Wu, Professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Ohio State, it needs air to work. Therefore the layers are permeable to air. read more>>>

Streamlining solar interconnection processes
October 14, 2014 - With the solar market expected to more than double in the next few years, cutting the time and costs involved in connecting individual residential and commercial photovoltaic (PV) installations to the grid is a growing concern for utilities, regulators and solar installers. Utilities are focused on interconnection -- the actual process of connecting a new installation to the grid – which can take less than two weeks or more than two months, according to research from the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA), produced under a Department of Energy SunShot Incubator Award, in partnership with Clean Power Research.

In an online survey completed by 64 utilities in 25 states, the 17 percent of utilities currently providing online processing of interconnection applications said they can complete the approvals twice as fast as those still requiring customers to fill out paperwork. read more>>>

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