- Chile Installs South America’s 1st Solar Thermal Plant
- New Wind Energy Records Set On ERCOT And SPP Grids
- Issa Puts The Stinkeye On Wind Tax Credit Extension, Biomass And Geothermal, Too
- House Republican Marks Climate Change As Top Priority In Farewell Speech
- LG Launches Super-Thin, Energy-Efficient OLED TV
- China Share Of Electricity From “Clean Energy” Increases To 20.2%
- Renault Zoe Deliveries Begin, Sales Strategy Changes
- US DOT Launches Traffic Jam 2013 — Highway Concert Series
- Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Sales Begin This Month In Japan
- Avis Buys Zipcar In Deal Worth $500 Million, But Zipcar Now Being Sued
Posted: 04 Jan 2013 05:01 PM PST
This is the first operational solar thermal plant in South America, and is located in the Antofagasta region of Chile.
The installation is spread over 6 hectares of land and is made up of over a thousand solar thermal collector modules.
The plant is expected to deliver heat every hour of the day thanks in part to the use of thermal energy storage. Given it’s location in the heart of mining country in the region, this is ideal, and Abengoa says it expects the plant to provide enough energy to replace 55% of the diesel fuel currently in use in the mining production.
Latin America’s Solar FutureThis news comes hot on the heals of an NPD Solarbuzz report which predicted that Latin America and the Caribbean are set to become hotspots for solar photovoltaic demand in the following few years.
Given the desperate need for developing countries to pick up some of the renewable energy slack first world nations have let slide, news of installations such as these in Latin America is great news.
Chile Installs South America’s 1st Solar Thermal Plant was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or justvisit our homepage.
Posted: 04 Jan 2013 04:57 PM PST
Texas wind turbines image via Shutterstock
Yet Another Texas Wind RecordEverything is bigger in Texas, so naturally it set the larger wind integration record on its transmission system. Turbines across the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), grid operator for most of the Lone Star State, set a new record by generating 8,638 megawatts (MW) of electricity on Christmas Day.
The new ERCOT record represented 25.7% of the system’s total 39,847 MW load at the time, beating the previous record set just over a month earlier, when ERCOT integrated 8,521MW of wind energy on November 10th.
While the new record only passed the previous mark by around 90 MW, the duration of high wind capacity deserves notice. Wind output was at 70% or greater of Texas’ 10,000 MW of total installed capacity for more than 14 straight hours, peaking just after 3:00 p.m.
ERCOT has set several wind power records this year, a trend attributed to improved grid management. “With new tools and experience, our operators have learned how to harness every megawatt of power they can when the wind is blowing at high levels,” said Kent Saathoff, ERCOT vice president of grid operations.
Winds of Change Blow Across SPPBut ERCOT wasn’t alone. Wind energy generated 5.9 GW of electricity across the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) during the evening of December 2nd – more than 30% total system demand. A few days later, the system set a new total capacity record with 6.3 GW total wind energy across its grid, but higher total demand at the time meant the overall percentage was under the December 2nd mark.
SPP may be a smaller grid operator than ERCOT, but the potential for wind as a percentage across its system could be just as significant. As of 2011, wind only represented 6% of total energy across the system, compared to 87% coal or natural gas.
However, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) estimated SPP would have 7.78 GW total wind capacity online by the end of 2012, and SPP had more than 27 GW of queued interconnection requests – compared to around 8.6 GW of coal or natural gas. As noted in SPP’s 2011 State of the Market report, “the percentage of generation derived from coal will likely decline.”
SPP interconnection requests chart courtesy of SPP
SPP does face significant congestion issues moving its growing wind capacity to meet demand, indicating it will need to invest in transmission and grid management tools to realize wind’s full potential.
Can Wind Power an Entire Region?Now that Congress has finally renewed the Production Tax Credit for 2013, wind’s booming growth will continue through the New Year. With 21,000 MW of new wind capacity under review and 2,400 miles of new transmission lines under construction in ERCOT, it’s not hard to see a scenario where wind could provide most of Texas’ electricity in the near future. Now, if congestion constraints can be alleviated in SPP, the entire region could gust toward a wind-powered portfolio.
New Wind Energy Records Set On ERCOT And SPP Grids was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.
Posted: 04 Jan 2013 04:37 PM PST
Given the nature of his complaint, as reported by The Hill, it looks like the bill’s treatment of algae biofuel could be in for some intense scrutiny as well, and Issa wasn’t too happy with the geothermal provisions, either. Oops…
Wind Power Extension Under ScrutinyIf this scenario seems to ring a bell in your head, maybe you watched a lot of Disney movies back in the day. There always seems to be some point early on when celebratory fireworks fill the screen and the hero jets triumphantly away, but since the movie isn’t nearly done you can bet that off in some dark corner a revenge plot is being hatched.
In the case of the production tax credit for wind power, Issa has taken issue with the bill’s new definition for projects that are covered under the one-year extension.
Previously, projects that were completed within the extension period qualified for the tax credit.
In the new legislation, the qualification was changed to include any project beginning construction within the extension period.
As reported by Zack Coleman of The Hill, in Issa’s view, that counts as a “‘dramatic’ alteration” of the tax credit program. However, given that a modern, large-scale wind farm typically takes from 18 months to two years to complete, a one-year extension under the old definition would have been meaningless for all practical purposes, except perhaps for small-scale installations.
Look Out Algae, You’re NextAccording to The Hill, Issa’s complaint also included biomass, and this is where algae biofuel might encounter a similar roadblock.
Biofuels International has reported that, in addition to extending a tax credit for biofuel for another two years, the new bill also expands the definition of cellulosic biofuel production.
Algae biofuel, which was previously not included in that definition, will now qualify for the same breaks. According to Biofuels International:
“Producers dabbling in algae-based fuel will also be happy with this outcome as the medium now qualifies under an expanded definition of cellulosic biofuel production. Everyone under that umbrella term will continue to recoup 50% of their eligible capital costs in the first year for facilities up and running before the end of 2013.”
In addition, algae producers will also qualify for the same production tax credit as other cellulosic biofuel producers for another year.
Geothermal on the Chopping BlockThe geothermal industry has been celebrating its gains under the new bill, and it’s not hard to see why. The same type of change given to the wind industry also applies to geothermal, which means that any project starting construction within the next twelve months will qualify for the production tax credit.
As with wind power, under the old definition, a one-year extension for the tax credit would have effectively put the kibosh on new large-scale geothermal projects.
In a statement applauding passage of the bill, the Geothermal Energy Association made a case for the economic benefits of the new definition:
“The Geothermal Energy Association estimates that new geothermal power projects in as many as a dozen states could be stimulated to move forward this year as a result of this change. Congress’ action will spur significant new employment and sustain geothermal industry growth. Consumers and utilities will benefit, as well, because developers will have greater certainty about whether the credit will be available for their project.”
When you consider the vast potential of geothermal energy in the US, there’s no wonder that the industry is so excited. According to a recent project funded by Google.org, researchers have estimated that there are three million megawatts in geothermal resources in the US.
It’s also worth noting that the US Department of Energy has just released a new open source map called the National Geothermal Data System (check it out at geothermaldata.org), which will help geothermal developers identify suitable sites more quickly and economically.
Raining on the Alternative Energy ParadeThe wind, biofuel, and geothermal communities are happy for now, but Issa’s complaint is no idle threat. As chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, he could make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for any additional extensions or expansions of public support for alternative energy production to occur.
Follow me on Twitter: @TinaMCasey
Issa Puts The Stinkeye On Wind Tax Credit Extension, Biomass And Geothermal, Too was originally published on:CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.
Posted: 04 Jan 2013 04:29 PM PST
In his farewell address on Tuesday, an outgoing Republican from California, David Dreier, listed climate change as a top problem facing the US.
Thank goodness for Republicans with common sense. I knew they existed!
Dreier told the House floor that climate change “is a fact of life” and something that must be confronted. In fact, he went so far as to say that climate change should be an issue the Republican party counts alongside the economy and gun control.
“Now, Mr. Speaker, we know it’s far from perfect, but I hope that this bipartisan agreement can lay the foundation for continued work to address the tremendous challenges that we face as a Nation. Millions of Americans are out of work. The national debt as a percentage of gross domestic product is too high. Upheaval exists in nearly every region across the globe. Education and immigration reform must happen. The potential for a crippling cyberattack continues to be a threat. Climate change is a fact of life. And most recently, Mr. Speaker, our families are reeling from the tragedy of Newtown.”
While not necessarily “breaking ranks” from his party, this is a moment of refreshing frankness from a Republican, with regards to climate change. One can now hope that it spurs the consciences of his fellow party members.
The full address can be viewed below thanks to CSPAN.
House Republican Marks Climate Change As Top Priority In Farewell Speech was originally published on:CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.
Posted: 04 Jan 2013 05:40 AM PST
The LG Cinema 3D Smart TV is one of the thinnest televisions around, measuring in at the same width of three credit cards at its thinnest point.
Described as “virtually borderless” and weighing in at only 16.5 pounds, the television gives the home viewer exceptional 2D and 3D viewing experiences. The Cinema 3D is also a smart TV, connected to the internet and a variety of applications and services.
OLED TechnologyOLED technology has been around for awhile but has never been very marketable due to the high price tag attached. The LG Cinema 3D Smart TV is going to be selling for around $10,300, and is therefore well outside the budgets of most households. But with growing adoption comes a lessening of the price, so maybe in the next few years we’ll see OLEDs achieve a more feasible price range.
The main selling point for OLED displays is their energy efficiency. Unlike LCD technology, which requires a lamp to provide backlight, an OLED display does without the lamp. This provides a more efficient device, greater black levels, and a greener production (removing the need for fluorescent lamps or LED backlights).
All in all, the LG Cinema 3D Smart TV is sure to be a winner this year as it makes its debut in Korea and, hopefully, in other countries later on.
LG Launches Super-Thin, Energy-Efficient OLED TV was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or justvisit our homepage.
Posted: 04 Jan 2013 05:07 AM PST
Wind turbines in China
In the first 11 months of 2012, the China State Electricity Regulatory Commission (SERC) reports that there was 20.3% increase in electricity generated from clean energy sources (compared to 2011)… resulting in, coincidentally, the 20.2% figure noted above.
Climate Connect writes: “In the first eleven months of 2012, 877 billion kWh of electricity was generated from non-fossil based sources. Country’s clean energy power generation was 74.8 billion kWh in November; but a decrease in clean energy generation as compared to October, 2012.”
During these 11 months, hydropower grew by 19.4%, nuclear power grew by 22.9% and wind power grew by 54.2%.
Clean Energy?“Clean energy” is a rather nebulous term, as I note over on our Clean Energy page. For those who support nuclear power and don’t think nuclear waste is anything to worry about, nuclear is include. As I note on the page above, until it’s clear we can really find a way to get rid of highly radioactive nuclear waste, we hear at CleanTechnica don’t consider nuclear to be clean.
Beyond the nuclear issue, large-scale hydropower has been shown to have horrible effects on ecosystems, human populations, and even global warming in some cases. So, in summary, some hydropower certainly deserves to be callen clean, while some projects should actually be filed under the dirty column. From what I’ve read (though, admittedly, I haven’t read a ton on this subject), China’s hydropower projects shouldn’t be trumpeted as clean energy. If you have more info on this subject, though, please share it with us.
China’s FutureChina recently increased its 2015 solar power capacity target to 40 GW (40,000 MW). Less than two years ago, the same 2015 target was just 5 GW — it has increased 8 times over in just about 19 months. The country also plans strong wind power growth.
Furthermore, China is putting a cap on its coal production and use in 2015, and it has scaled back its nuclear power plans. So, while its emissions aren’t going to decrease anytime soon, it is putting a lot into clean energy, and the long-term goal seems to be cleaning up its electricity production. Also, I think the country’s leaders are well aware of its growing drought, flooding, and other extreme weather concerns, as well as the fact that these threats only grow in size with coal-fueled global warming.
If you have any thoughts on this recent news, or China’s electricity production and goals, in general, feel free to chime in below!
Connect with me on various social media site via ZacharyShahan.com
China Share Of Electricity From “Clean Energy” Increases To 20.2% was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook orTwitter, or just visit our homepage.
Posted: 04 Jan 2013 04:35 AM PST
Zoe electric car (Image Credit: Renault)
The price for the Zoe is just €13,700 (including VAT) after taking the €7,000 French government incentive for EVs. That’s pretty darn good, but it’s going to take Renault quite a bit of success to catch up to its competitors.
“European Renault, though at the forefront of producing EVs in Europe, is one of the vehicle manufacturers with the worst performance in Europe,” Frost & Sullivan writes.
“Renault invested approx. $5 billion in the production of electric vehicles, which prevented them from investing in new models of conventional cars. Whether this strategy pays off and the Renault Zoé attracts much interest remains to be seen.”
Furthermore, Frost & Sullivan thinks that Renault is a little prematurely focusing on the consumer market. ”The current EV market is a fleet market, a B2B market, not a B2C market,” Frost & Sullivan Senior Consultant, Nicolas Meilhan, said in an interview.
That may be the case, primarily, but it’s clear that EV sales are increasing at a good rate, and lower cost EVs (like the Zoe) are sure to do better.
Zoe Doesn’t Address City Driving/Traffic DilemmaIt seems that Frost & Sullivan’s beef with the Zoe seemed more to be beef with cars.
“A lot of people think the EV is the perfect car for the city. But the truth is it only addresses the local pollution issue; it neither addresses the congestion problems nor the parking issue most cities face today…. If you really want to reduce CO2 emissions and energy consumption, especially in cities, then governments and local authorities should only allow cars with a maximum 500kg weight. A 500kg gasoline car – a gasoline Twizy for example (which does not exist) — emits less CO2 in its lifecycle than a the Renault Zoé EV weighing 1400kg,” Meilhan said.
“If you compare the same Renault Zoé (EV) with a bike, the easiest means of transport in the city, then you have to put more than 140 people into the car in order to make it as energy efficient as your 10kg bike,” Meilhan added.
Yes, of course, as I just noted in my previous article, automobile traffic is a serious and costly problem. Nonetheless, as long as there is strong customer demand for medium to large cars (and weak government transportation policies), we will have cars on the roads and in our cities. And at least EVs do address the pollution problem.
How To Sell An EVNow, for those of us aware that we have stuck our societal head in a noose (with the fabric being greenhouse gas emissions), the zero emissions of an EV is the biggest selling point. But many are still asleep to this issue, and dropping a couple grand on a vehicle is a big decision that you make based on many factors.
As I’ve discussed (and analyzed), EVs are actually much cheaper to own for many of us now – the fuel savings outweigh the slightly higher “at the register” cost. But again, as some of our readers have noted, most people don’t use calculations and logic to decide between cars — we humans care about other things, too. For example: coolness, comfort, style, power, color.
Car companies selling EVs either didn’t think things through real carefully (optimistically) or haven’t been all that eager to sell EVs at all (cynically), as they have basically left some of the biggest benefits to EVs out of their sales strategies. I’m the optimistic sort, so my guess is the former. In either case, it’s high time things change.
EVs are super quiet, almost silent — that’s a big comfort improvement (very few humans actually like noise). Additionally, they require almost no maintenance — forget monthly oil changes, tune-ups, etc. Thirdly, with an EV, you don’t have to stand at a smelly gas station to fill up your tank (and as one reader has noted, can save a bit of money on all the crappy gas station junk food… while also improving your health). Notably, inhaling gas fumes isn’t exactly good for you. EVs also have great acceleration due to their instant torque. Furthermore, EVs are a great way to “fight” oil wars.
Renault isn’t focusing on all these matters, but it is apparently broadening its sales strategy to focus more on how quiet EVs are.
More stories on the Renault Zoe:
§ Renault Zoe EV Could Have 220-Mile Range & Low Price
Connect with me on various social media site via ZacharyShahan.com
Renault Zoe Deliveries Begin, Sales Strategy Changes was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or justvisit our homepage.
Posted: 04 Jan 2013 03:32 AM PST
I guess the conclusion was: if you can’t fix the traffic, at least make it more enjoyable.
Traffic jam via Shutterstock
“Saying the year-round outdoor events were designed to attract music lovers of all ages to the country’s interstate highway system, department heads confirmed that more than 90 artists have already signed on, with top-drawer headliners such as Jay-Z, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Avicii, and Bon Iver set to play across the nation on more than 200 major U.S. roadways,”the Onion reports.
“Our goal was to put together exciting lineups that would encourage Americans to drive up the on-ramp of their nearest interstate, roll down the windows, and enjoy some live music as they travel,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said. “Whether you want to hear Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre rock the mic on a Long Beach frontage road or a rousing program from the Boston Symphony Orchestra across six lanes of I-90, we have something for everyone.”
Apparently, tickets will be sold for $55, and it will be sponsored by Bud Light Lime and Vitamin Water.
Aside from the music concerts, ”the festival will also reportedly include dance performances atop freeway guardrails, nightly movies projected onto vacant billboards, and a wide variety of local food carts and beer concession stands scattered through passing lanes.”
The Truth Always Reveals ItselfAh, of course, the Onion is a satirical news site (and my favorite old-school newspaper in college and grad school). If you’ve been to DC, you’ve probably seen stacks of the hilarious newspaper on many street corners. In other words, yes, the above story is a complete joke (you can read more here – it gets better).
But what is written below is not a joke.
The Price Of TrafficIn all seriousness, we have a huge traffic problem in the US… as does anyplace with a high percentage of car ownership and transportation. And that traffic adds up to some huge costs, many of which aren’t often linked to our transportation choices.
For example, as research by the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) has shown, transit saves the US about 785 million hours of delay each year. But we all know that the large majority of our transportation is still served by automobiles, and we often see the traffic jams that result. If the relatively small transit ridership we have today saves the nation 785 million hours a year, how many hours are still wasted by single-occupancy vehicles sitting in traffic?
Of course, time is money, and all that lost time is essentially lost money… or lost time with our families and friends, lost time relaxing at home, etc.
Beyond the time costs, pollution from automobiles costs us much more than an arm and a leg. Automobile emissions cause lung cancer, heart attacks, asthma, and much more. This stuff is not your friendly cold. It’s not cheap, and it sure as heck isn’t pleasant.
Transit does save us hundreds of millions of gallons of fuel, hundreds of millions of hours in traffic, and tens of millions of tons of carbon pollution. (By the way, US transit riders actually save about $10,000 a year simply on fuel and car maintenance costs — per person.) Cyclists and pedestrians also cut all of those nondesirables, of course. But we still waste much, much, much more than we save. And while I loved the Onion article mentioned above, most of the time, traffic is really no laughing matter. It’s something I think we should all contemplate a bit more and work to address.
Connect with me on various social media site via ZacharyShahan.com
US DOT Launches Traffic Jam 2013 — Highway Concert Series was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook orTwitter, or just visit our homepage.
Posted: 04 Jan 2013 02:49 AM PST
One attempt at this is the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (Plugin Hybrid Electric Vehicle), which goes on sale in Japan on January 24.
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV propulsion system is comprised of two 60kW (60 kW = 80 HP) electric-drive motors, which are powered by a 12kWh lithium-ion battery pack and a 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder MIVEC gasoline engine.
Each of the two 60kW electric motors is independent (there is one on each axle), while the gas engine can produce 85 kW (117 HP) and 137 pound-feet of torque (186 Newton-metres) when rotating at 4,500 RPM.
Combined, the two electric motors produce 160 HP, and all the motors combined produce 277 HP.
This vehicle has a driving range of 37.4 miles in electric mode, and the combined fuel efficiency rating is 67 km/L (178 MPG US).
The hybrid efficiency is 18.6 km/L (44 MPG in the US), and the hybrid system allows the vehicle to operate in three different modes.
EV ModeIn this mode, the vehicle uses electricity only from the battery, allowing the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV to achieve its best efficiency.
As you would expect, this mode propels the vehicle using only the electric motors, which will receive power only from the battery.
Series Hybrid ModeIn this mode, the gas engine generates electricity to directly power the 60kW electric motors when the battery’s charge is low.
Battery Charge ModeSimilar to the Series Hybrid Mode, there is also a Battery Charge Mode in which the gas engine generates electricity to charge the battery. This is similar to how the Chevy Volt works when the battery is depleted.
Parallel Hybrid ModeThis mode is activated at high speeds when the vehicle needs additional power. In this mode, the gasoline engine provides most of the power, and the electric motors assist it when going uphill.
This is the least efficient, but most powerful mode, allowing the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV superior versatility.
The MSRP is ¥3,324,000 to ¥4,297,000 ($38,972 to $50,380) in Japan, including consumption tax.
Source: Gas 2.0
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Sales Begin This Month In Japan was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook orTwitter, or just visit our homepage.
Posted: 04 Jan 2013 02:25 AM PST
Zipcar would act as a subsidiary of Avis Budget Group if the transaction is given the green light. However, reports suggest that the deal is already under investigation by Bernstein Liebhard LLP, who has stated that Zipcar has “breached its fiduciary duty to its shareholders in agreeing to sell Zipcar to Avis Budget Group.”
“We are delighted to announce our intention to join the Avis Budget Group family of companies, and we believe this combination is a win across the board for our members, shareholders and employees,” said Scott Griffith, chairman and chief executive officer of Zipcar. ”We will be well positioned to accelerate enhancements to the Zipcar member experience with more offers and additional services as well as an expanded network of locations.”
Avis Budget hopes to generate $50 to $70 million in annual synergies as a result of the transaction.
“By combining with Zipcar, we will significantly increase our growth potential, both in the United States and internationally, and will position our Company to better serve a greater variety of consumer and commercial transportation needs,” said Ronald L. Nelson, Avis Budget Group chairman and chief executive officer.
“We see car sharing as highly complementary to traditional car rental, with rapid growth potential and representing a scalable opportunity for us as a combined company. We also expect to leverage Zipcar’s technology to expand mobility solutions under the Avis and Budget brands.”
“Avis Budget’s existing infrastructure, scale and experience with managing multiple brands make us uniquely positioned to accelerate the growth and profitability of Zipcar,” Mr. Nelson added. “At the same time, we are committed to retaining the elements of the Zipcar brand and culture that have allowed Zipcar to achieve such rapid growth and success over the last twelve years.”
Bernstein Liebhard LLP v. Zipcar LawsuitHowever, as mentioned, law firm Bernstein Liebhard LLP has already announced an investigation into the deal, investigating whether “the Board of Directors of Zipcar breached its fiduciary duty to its shareholders in agreeing to sell Zipcar to Avis Budget Group.”
Under the terms of the agreement, Zipcar shareholders will receive $12.25 in cash for each share they own. The investigation is focused on the potential unfairness of the price to Zipcar shareholders and the process by which the Zipcar Board of Directors considered and approved the transaction.
Avis Buys Zipcar In Deal Worth $500 Million, But Zipcar Now Being Sued was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebookor Twitter, or just visit our homepage.