Monday, November 10, 2014

Alternative Clean Energy Roundup: 10 November 2014

Tiny rural co-op touted as solar leader
November 5, 2014 - One of the smallest utilities in the United States is being recognized as a solar leader. Kalona, Iowa's 650-member Farmers Electric Cooperative has become a model for simple, hands-on business programs that have made 20 percent of its members solar owners, according to the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA), which has published a case study on the co-op.

From feed-in tariffs to community solar gardens, Farmers is expanding in response to demand.

"The technology is coming. You're either going to embrace it, or a third party is going to come in and serve that load and you're going to lose that load," said Farmers' General Manager Warren McKenna, who SEPA named Utility CEO of the Year in 2014. read more>>>

Spain’s Stunning Solar Power Towers
Nov. 7 2014 - Two slim towers rise from the fields 20 miles west of Seville, each bathed in the rays of an otherworldly glow. Though they look like portals to another dimension, they serve a much more practical purpose: They are the "power towers" of Solucar, the largest solar energy complex in Europe.

The towers, named PS10 and PS20, began operating in 2007 and 2009. Each is surrounded by a field of angled mirrors known as heliostats, which reflect solar radiation onto a receiver located at the top of each tower. This reflected sunlight illuminates dust and water vapor in the air, resulting in the brilliant glowing rays.

The heliostats—624 for the PS10 and 1,255 for the PS20—move during the day in order to reflect the most sunlight possible. When the rays of light reach the receiver, their heat produces steam, which is used to power a turbine. The turbine drives a generator, thereby producing electricity. read more>>>

Sun Jack - world's most powerful solar charger!

Combining 'Tinkertoy' materials with solar cells for increased photovoltaic efficiency
November 3, 2014 - Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories have received a $1.2 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy's SunShot Initiative to develop a technique that they believe will significantly improve the efficiencies of photovoltaic materials and help make solar electricity cost-competitive with other sources of energy.

The work builds on Sandia's recent successes with metal-organic framework (MOF) materials by combining them with dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSC).

"A lot of people are working with DSSCs, but we think our expertise with MOFs gives us a tool that others don't have," said Sandia's Erik Spoerke, a materials scientist with a long history of solar cell exploration at the labs. read more>>>

Institutions Adding Bigger Microgrids
Nov. 4, 2014 - Universities and hospitals are installing larger and more self sustaining electric generation facilities to lower their utility costs, increase their renewable portfolios and provide greater independence from the power grid.

Santa Fe Community College in New Mexico in September celebrated the installation of a 1.5 megawatt solar project in partnership with Positive Energy Solar, which owns the facility and will sell the college power at a fixed rate, with an expected savings of $200,000 per year.

“We made a commitment many years ago to lower our carbon footprint,” said college president Randy Grissom. The project will provide an average of 44 percent of the power used by the college. read more>>>

Your own energy 'island'? Microgrid could standardize small, self-sustaining electric grids
November 5, 2014 - When Department of Energy and Oak Ridge National Laboratory researcher Yan Xu talks about "islanding," or isolating, from the grid, she's discussing a fundamental benefit of microgrids -- small systems powered by renewables and energy storage devices. The benefit is that microgrids can disconnect from larger utility grids and continue to provide power locally.

"If the microgrid is always connected to the main grid, what's the point?" Xu said. "If something goes wrong with the main grid, like a dramatic drop in voltage, for example, you may want to disconnect."

Microgrids are designed to not only continue power to local units such as neighborhoods, hospitals or industrial parks but also improve energy efficiency and reduce cost when connected to the main grid. read more>>>

High Schoolers Built a Solar-Powered Electric Vehicle for Just $1,500
11/03/14 - In early 2013, engineering students at Rhode Island’s Tiverton High School were given an ambitious project by their teacher: build a fully-functional electric vehicle with virtually nothing by way of a budget. What they came up with is pretty extraordinary: first they created The Endurance, a $1000 single-person PiEV, followed by The Apotheosis, a $1500 solar-powered EV that achieves a phenomenal 1552 MPGe.

Instructor Edwin Fernandes worked with two high school seniors—Zach and Ryan—to build the Endurance. The trio followed designs from a “nice fellow” in Florida to construct a chassis from PVC piping, which was donated to the project by a local plumber. An additional donation of $565 from a friend of the school allowed them to purchase bicycle wheels and a brushless DC motor that was originally designed for use in e-bikes. read more>>>

Barnes & Noble

SolarWorld is increasing its production capacity in the US
03.11.2014 - SolarWorld AG from Bonn has announced that it is increasing the capacity of the production site for photovoltaic modules and cells in Hillsboro, Oregon. This will bring SolarWorld AG's future capacity up to a total of 1,300 MW.

The photovoltaic market is booming in the USA. Demand increased significantly this year and the industry is expecting a further increase next year. For this reason, the corporation intends to increase its module production by 150 MW to an annual capacity of 530 MW. read more>>>

Users don't understand the energy aspect of computers
November 3, 2014 - Computers consume significant amounts of energy even when they are not in use, and computer users don't even realize it, meaning lost opportunities to save energy, according to the results of two studies commissioned by the California Energy Commission (CEC) and conducted by the California Plug Load Research Center.

Ultimately, the study results were compared to each other, revealing that users don't fully understand how their computers' power management works and that computers are not going into sleep mode or being automatically turned off as often as users think. read more>>>

[Infographic] Green Alternatives to Conventional Building Materials
3 November 2014 - Green buildings can reduce energy use by between 30 and 50 percent while only costing between three and five percent more thean conventional buildings to construct.

With this in mind, construction training expert Able Skills has produced an infographic outlining some of the best green solutions construction companies can find.

Areas of construction covered include insulation, flooring and structural with respective green suggestions including wool, bamboo and even straw bales.

Take a look at the infographic below to find out more: read more>>>

A Tale of Two Green Homes
11/2/2014 - If you spend enough time in the environmental movement, you'll undoubtedly get wrapped up in the philosophical discussions of what is the most “green.” Paper, or plastic? Off-grid, or grid-tied? Such debates are naturally going to arise in a movement whose goal is to improve the way people live on this planet, because the act of living affects our natural world many varied ways. Sometimes, improvement in one aspect of environmental impact has unintended consequences in another.

Green building is not without its own debates of this ilk. Should a new insulation product capable of drastically dropping energy consumption be used, even if it is manufactured with chemicals whose toxicity is not well studied? Should I stay in my existing energy hog of a home here in town, or build a new green home in a location that requires me to drive many miles each day to work and the nearest grocery store? Any project that successfully transforms from dream to reality is going to have to accept some compromises between competing environmental concerns. I work with customers every day who must contemplate these trade-offs, and have observed that green home projects are often guided by one of two very different general philsophies, each with their separate focus on what it means to be a truly green residence. read more>>>

Earth Talk: Sweden leads world in sustainability
November 2, 2014 - I recently heard that Sweden is the greenest country in the world. Is this true and, if so, by what standards? And where does the U.S. rank?

—Raul Swain, New York City

It’s true that Sweden came out on top in the recently released ranking of 60 countries according to sustainability by consulting firm Dual Citizen Inc. in its fourth annual Global Green Economy Index . Norway, Costa Rica, Germany and Denmark rounded out the top five. The rankings take into account a wide range of economic indicators and datasets regarding leadership on climate change, encouragement of efficiency sectors, market facilitation and investing in green technology and sustainability and management of ecosystems and natural capital. read more>>>

Building Sustainable Cities
Nov 1, 2014 - “Time is running out. If we don’t really change we will be in real trouble in the next 10 years.” That was the stark warning from Dr Arab Hobdallah from United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) at the Emirates Green Building Council’s (EmiratesGBC) Congress on 20-21 October.

Sustainable Cities for the Future was the theme for this year’s congress, which saw stakeholders, delegates and government representatives discuss best practice and look at how existing successful green programmes can be adopted in the UAE and beyond.

“Cities and buildings are where we live, work and play, and we need to ensure that we build cities that not only stimulate economic activity, but also for our social well-being, and protecting the environment and the scarce resources that we have,” said EmiratesGBC chairman, Saeed Al Abbar.

The vision is clear, but what is the method? read more>>>

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