|Cleantech & Climate News Of The DayPosted: 23 Jan 2013 06:53 PM PST
Yep, you should make sure you scroll down our home page for the hottest cleantech news and commentary, but for some “almost the hottest” cleantech news and commentary from the past day or so, here’s a curated list of goodies:
Australia Solar PV Market – Contraction Seen in 2013: “Each year about this time, SunWiz sits down for a few days brainstorming with Nigel Morris (Solar Business Services) in which we gaze into a crystal ball and forecast how much solar power will be installed in Australia over the next five years. Last year the crystal ball was clouded by the inevitability of a roll-back of feed-in tariffs and a severe reduction in solar multiplier, which at one stage we feared could have crippled the solar industry…. Whether paradoxically or ironically, the reduction in government incentives unleashed a Solar Tsunami, to the point where SunWiz is confident that 1 GW has been installed in 2012. When held up to the sun, our crystal ball for 2013 reveals a mixed story, with hope for some and disappointment for others. Government incentives for solar PV can’t really get lower, but this doesn’t mean the worst is over.“
“Foreign Sales Bigger than Domestic for the First Time:” “Our survey of executives in the solar sector continues today. The German solar power experts that our Heiko Schwarzburger spoke to believe that exports will exceed imports as the German market shrinks and focuses more on direct consumption.”
France Net Power Exporter Except to Germany: “Yesterday, French grid operator RTE released a slideshow, revealing that the country’s power consumption continues to grow – and that France remains the largest power exporter in Europe, though it continues to be a net importer to Germany.”
juwi Begins Construction on 48 MW in Thailand: “German photovoltaic developer juwi has announced that is has begun construction on a project that will see five solar parks, with a combined capacity of 48 MW, developed in Thailand. The power power plants will be equipped to deal with floods, such as those that took place in Thailand in 2011.”
Dow Corning and Crystal Solar to Partner on High-Efficiency Silicon Venture: “Silicon manufacturer Dow Corning and start-up Crystal Solar have announced a business relationship to develop high-performance silicon-based materials for PV cells and modules…. The two companies also plan to jointly develop new products for building-integrated PV applications.“
Japan Considers FIT Reduction for PV Installations: “The Japanese Ministry of Economy has announced that Japan installed 1,398MW since April last year…. A committee was convened to consider possible changes to the current feed-in tariff for PV installations. The current rate of ¥42 (US$0.525) per kWh will end with the closing fiscal year…. The government document states that project proposals with a combined capacity of 3,262MW have already been submitted…. Furthermore, the government expects a total of 2GW of newly installed PV capacity for the fiscal year of 2012.“
Jamaica Receives Strong Response to 115MW Renewable Energy Tender: “The Jamaican Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) has received a positive response to its call for renewable energy projects following the issuing of a 115MW renewable energy tender.”
Obama Becomes First Prez to Walk Down a Bike Lane on Inauguration Day: “The networks were busy tripping over themselves trying to point out all the “firsts” during yesterday’s inauguration ceremonies. But when Barack and Michelle Obama stepped out of the presidential motorcade to greet well wishers on Pennsylvania Avenue, they missed a huge one: Obama is now the first U.S. president to walk down a bike lane during his inauguration.”
Road Diets Are Changing American Cities for the Better: “If it can work on Edgewater Drive in Orlando, it can work anywhere…. This road diet — or “street rightsizing” — removed one traffic lane on a four lane road through 1.5 miles of the city’s College Park neighborhood. Since then, traffic collisions are down 34 percent. Pedestrian activity increased 23 percent and cycling rose 30 percent.”
Echo Automotive Demonstrates New Fleet Vehicle Hybrid Technology: Echo Automotive, “a developer of technologies enabling the cost-effective conversion of existing fleet vehicles into fuel efficient hybrids,” just today launched “a multi-mode hybrid technology aimed directly at significantly improving the economic performance of fleet operations.”
Japan’s Sporty Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle is an Emissions Free Dream Car: “We recently had the opportunity not only to see this sporty fuel cell vehicle from Japan, but to actually get in and pretend to drive off into the Abu Dhabi sunset. Featured at the World Future Energy Summit last week, this dreamy sports car was designed by students at Osaka Sangyo University using parts taken from the open market. And we loved it. Browse through our gallery of this emissions-free diamond in the rough and learn more about what makes it tick.”
Consumer Reports Buys Tesla Model S. Yes, We’re Jealous: “Lucky them. That’s our opinion of Consumer Reports, which really took one for the team by taking delivery of its Tesla Model S last week. The organization is noted for purchasing most of the vehicles it tests rather than reviewing ones loaned to them by manufacturers…. The institute groused about waiting for more than two years after paying its $5,000 deposit to receive the goods. While the car’s base price is $57,400, Consumer Reports managed to jack that up to an $89,650 tab by opting for the largest 85-kwh battery pack (good for a 265-mile single-charge range) as well as leather interior, air suspension and other goodies. The publication also complimented Tesla for making the purchase possible without a dealer visit – the car, which won 2012 Car of the Year golden calipers from Motor Trend, was ultimately delivered on a flatbed.“
Wheego Electric Cars Adds Nimnicht Family of Dealerships in Jacksonville, Florida: Wheego has announced that “the Nimnicht Family of Dealerships In Jacksonville, Florida will represent the Wheego line of electric vehicles.”
Toyota Prius Production Finally Coming To America? “Though the Toyota Prius may not be the sexiest green car, and it certainly isn’t the fastest, it is by far the most popular and best-known hybrid in the world. For years now, Toyota has been hinting that production of the Prius could move to America, where manufacturing costs are cheaper. Top executives are now hinting that Prius production will move to the places where they are “popular”; is an American-made Prius coming soon?”
A123 Expects Wanxiang Sale to be Finished by Feb. 1: “The bankruptcy proceedings for A123 Systems are moving relatively smoothly toward completion, and it looks like Wanxiang America Corp. and Navitas Systems LLC should complete the transactions within the guidelines of the court-ordered asset purchase agreements by February 1, 2013.”
Tata eMO Electric Vehicle Still on the Drawing Board: “A mystery still shrouds the presence of Tata Motors in the US auto market. The Tata eMO concept car received a lot of attention and praise a year ago at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show as an “electric mobility study.” Oh, and because it sported a $20,000 price tag and roomy interior. On the gasoline side of the ledger, the redesigned Tata Nano may or may not be available in the US within three years for under $10,000. But where does the eMO stand?”
Mitsubishi i for Just $69 a Month in this Outrageous Lease: “It has become readily apparent to automakers that consumers aren’t willing to pay much of a premium for pure electric vehicles. This has led to cost-cutting across the board, though an Illinois Mitsubishi dealer has undercut everybody with a $69-per-month lease deal on the Mitsubishi i electric vehicle. How is that even possible?“
Nissan Lays Out Upcoming Hybrid Plans, Featuring Resonance Powertrain: “Alongside a continued strong push for all-electric vehicles, Nissan announced plans to introduce 15 new hybrids by 2016 at the recent Detroit Auto Show, including the Altima sedan, Murano crossover andPathfinder SUV. Neither the Pathfinder nor Murano are currently available as hybrids, and the Altima hybrid went out of production with the 2011 model year, so this would likely be a re-launch for 2014.”
Ford Says EPA May Revise Hybrid Efficiency Test Methods: “Ford received a lot negative attention and a federal class action lawsuit for advertising their new C-MAX hybrid and the Fusion hybrid’s 47 MPG efficiency. It all came to a head after Consumer Reports stated that the fuel efficiency ratings obtained from their own test results were 17% and 21% lower than the EPA fuel efficiency that Ford claimed. This backlash could lead to new hybrid vehicle testing methods from the EPA.”
Coda Circling The Drain With More Layoffs, Slashed Prices: “It always sucks to see an innovative company with great ideas go under, and the green energy movement has had its fair share of casualties. But in all honesty, we don’t think anybody is surprised to see electric car maker Coda struggling to make any headway with their Chinese-built EV. With news of more layoffs and dealers slashing prices by 40%, it seems as though the writing is on the wall for Coda.”
High-Performance Micro-Sized Si-C Composite for Li-ion Anodes Offers High Tap Density for High Volumetric Capacity: “A team at Penn State University has synthesized a micro-sized silicon-carbon (Si-C) composite consisting of interconnected Si and carbon nanoscale building blocks as anode materials for Li-ion batteries (LIBs). The Si-C composite, produced by a low-cost and large-scale approach, exhibits a reversible capacity of 1459 mAh/g after 200 cycles at 1 A/g with a capacity retention of 97.8%, with high-rate performance of 1100 and 700 mAh/g at current densities of 6.4 A/g and 12.8 A/g.”
Nikkei Reports Announcement Pending on Toyota Providing BMW with Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology; BMW Prototype by 2015: “The Nikkei reported that Toyota Motor Corp. is close to an agreement with BMW AG to provide that company with drivetrain and storage technology for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. In June 2012, the two companies had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aimed at long-term strategic collaboration in four fields: joint development of a fuel cell system; joint development of architecture and components for a future sports vehicle; collaboration on powertrain electrification; and joint research and development on lightweight technologies.”
Lessons From Past Predictions: Ridley vs. IPCC and Hansen: “As we have now shown several times, the IPCC surface temperature projections have been exceptionally accurate (although they have under-predicted many other climate variables, such as Arctic sea ice extent and sea level rise). Ridley would have been wise to simply argue that a linear 0.1°C warming prediction is not terribly wrong yet, rather than trying to incorrectly claim that his prediction has proven more accurate than those made by the IPCC and James Hansen. In reality, his is not even close to the accuracy of the IPCC.”
The Onion: 2012 Was Once Considered Hottest Year On Record, Man In 2024 Remembers Wistfully: “NEW WASHINGTON—Marveling at how dire things seemed in the relatively stable days of 12 years ago, Alan Gibson, 41, a local man of the year 2024, wistfully recounted on Wednesday the then-record temperatures recorded in the United States in 2012. ‘To think that we were concerned about a 55.3-degree average is almost comical, but then, I guess at that point we must have still had some kind of perceivable ozone layer,’ Gibson said fondly while reapplying the full-body coat of UV-resistant resin he and his fellow citizens of the 43 contiguous United States wear at all times. ‘Today, you wouldn’t think twice about a 96-degree day in the middle of February, but a mere decade ago you would look up at the skies waiting for snow. Christ, those were the days, man.’ Gibson then recounted at length to reporters the story of how he and his family narrowly escaped the Eastern Seaboard during the abrupt and tragic events of March 2019.”
Climate Change and the Cult of the Presidency: A summary of this story doesn’t quite do it. Just click through and go read the whole thing.
President Obama, Consider this Your ‘Need-to-Do’ List: Greenpeace’s 5-point list for Obama. (Yes, if you read the post just above this one, I recognize the irony — I think there’s value in both.)
White House: ‘We Are Going To Achieve The President’s Goal Of Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions By 17 Percent By 2020?: “I attended the Environmental and Clean Energy Inaugural Ball in DC Monday night. That is the smaller, wonkier ball, the one without Will.i.am…. A number of White House and Cabinet officials made clear that Obama meant it when he emphasized action on climate and clean energy in his second inaugural. For instance, Heather Zichal, Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change, told the crowd, ‘Energy and climate policy are going to be a top priority’ in Obama’s second term.“
Obama Wins Praise Abroad for Climate Change Goals: “U.S. President Barack Obama won praise abroad on Tuesday for his pledge to lead the fight against climate change, which has faltered as nations argue over who should foot the bill to lower carbon emissions.”
Looking at History and Seeing a Grim Future for the World’s Coastal Cities: “Justin Gillis tags along with researchers who are trying to pinpoint just how much of the world’s coastlines will be inundated by dramatically rising sea levels. By looking at historical records scientists are beginning to paint a grim picture.”
Climate Patriotism: Sierra Club Endorses Civil Disobedience For First Time In Its History: “For civil disobedience to be justified, something must be so wrong that it compels the strongest defensible protest. Such a protest, if rendered thoughtfully and peacefully, is in fact a profound act of patriotism…. For us, [the wrong] is the possibility that the United States might surrender any hope of stabilizing our planet’s climate.”
History Shows U.S. Can Tackle Pollution And Climate Change: “President Obama’s strong remarks on climate change yesterday left the environmental community hopeful that actions will soon follow his words. The Center for American Progress has laid out a blue print for how the President can move forward on climate change and energy, and most of those recommended actions can be taken now through executive orders, including setting carbon-pollution standards for existing power plants, oil refineries, and other major industrial sources under the federal Clean Air Act.”
Uncertainty about Climate Change is Reason for More Aggressive Action: “I’ve done some writing about uncertainty and the role it plays in climate change analysis. (See: here, here.) I continue to think that it’s one of the most widely misunderstood aspects of the mess we’re in. Insofar as uncertainty enters climate discussions, it’s usually in dopey arguments over whether ‘the science is settled.’ In fact, it’s true both that the basic science is settled and that we face enormous uncertainties about climate impacts and their cost. We need to start dealing with those uncertainties in a more sophisticated way.”
Incoming! New Report Notes 14 “Carbon Bombs” Threatening To Blow The Global Carbon Budget: “The general scientific consensus is that the average global temperature cannot be allowed to warm more than two degrees Celsius [3.6°F] in order to avoid catastrophic climate change. In fact, a two degree rise alone would threaten the water supplies of hundreds of millions of people, lead to global crop declines, bleach coral reefs around the world, and drive up ocean acidification.” (Yep, this one could very well go into the next section.)
Nebraska Governor Approves Revised Keystone XL Pipeline Route through State: “Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman approved the revised route of the Keystone XL pipeline through his state. The governor sent a letter to President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton, notifying them of the accepted Nebraska route.”
Two Hopeful Signs The Obama Administration Will Not Approve Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline: “50-50. Those were the odds you could get in DC for a bet on whether or not Obama would ultimately approve the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline…. But this week I think the odds turned against the pipeline, for two reason.”
Governor Inslee Calls Coal Exports ‘The Largest Decision We Will Be Making As A State From A Carbon Pollution Standpoint’: “Newly-minted Washington Governor Jay Inslee has been lauded for his impassioned views on environmental issues from climate change to renewable energy. Indeed, his first official act as governor was to write a letter to a clean energy company inviting it to relocate to the state…. In his first press conference as governor last week, Inslee addressed another aspect of the climate change fight in the Pacific Northwest: proposed coal export terminals that would allow for the shipping of 150 million of tons of coal every year from public lands in Wyoming and Montana’s Powder River Basin abroad.”
Climate Change At Fault For Massive Andes Glacier Melting: “New research into the continued decline of glaciers around the planet is not new, yet nevertheless these studies remain critically important to understanding our impact upon the environment and the sort of world we will be living in ten years from now.”
State Department Receives New Report On Climate Effects Of Keystone Pipeline: “Four days before President Obama promised, during his second inauguration address, to combat climate change, officials at the US State Department received a new report by scientists which details how a particular byproduct of the Keystone XL pipeline — ‘Petroleum Coke’ — renders the project even more dangerous to the climate than previously estimated.”
Cleantech & Climate News Of The Day 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.
|Join Us For A “Hangout” About Electric VehiclesPosted: 23 Jan 2013 05:22 PM PST
Have you heard of Google? Of course you have. But have you heard of Google+ and Google+ “On Air” Hangouts? Possibly, but that’s much less likely, so I’ll give you a quick rundown.
One of the cool things about Google+ is that you can have video “Hangouts” with people (sort of like Skype), and that you can even have “On Air” Hangouts in which non-participants can at least watch the discussion. If you’ve been a CleanTechnica reader for long enough, you might remember that we had one of these hangouts with folks from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) over a year ago… maybe it’s time for another one of those.
Long story short: Jeff McIntire-Strasburg of sister site sustainablog (who is actually the person who first hired me to blog and got me rolling) has been hosting a weekly On-Air Hangout on interesting and important topics for a couple months now. This week (on Friday at 10am CST/11am EST), the topic will be “The Prices of Electric Vehicles,” and I’ll be joining the crew. Come join us if you’re free at that time! (And if you’re interested in electric vehicles, of course.)
Some of the content off of which we’ll be basing the discussion include:
By the way, if you want to connect with me on Google+, here’s my profile.
Join Us For A “Hangout” About Electric Vehicles 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.
|How To Horribly Communicate The $$ Side Of A Clean Energy Revolution — World Economic Forum ReportPosted: 23 Jan 2013 01:06 PM PST
First of all, yes, different studies serve different purposes, and we do need narrowly focused studies of all sorts. However, one of the things that most irks me professionally is the horrible way in which researchers, reporters, politicians, and everyone in between discuss the “costs” of a clean energy transition or clean energy revolution.
If you paid attention to the questions I posed to Connie Hedegaard at the World Future Energy Summit last week, I think you might well know where I’m headed. And it’s nice to see that she and at least a few others are doing it right. But most people (especially influential people) still are not.
Today, the example of horrible communication is a World Economic Forum and Green Growth Action Alliance report (with good intentions and good research) on the topic of how much we will have to spend on clean energy to avoid “too catastrophic” and out-of-control climate change. What was so bad about it? It didn’t mention the second half of the equation! Or the second part of the sentence, if you prefer to word it like that.
It actually came to a very exciting finding: $700 billion more investment (than we are currently putting in) is needed to avert “climate catastrophe,” but only $34 billion more in public funding is needed to hit that. To put that in perspective, that’s “less than the US$50 billion recently approved by the United States Congress for rebuilding resilience after Hurricane Sandy,” just one of the many tremendous climate catastrophes we’ve seen and will continue to see. Great messaging to make that note!
However, the huge point it neglected to mention was that the costs of not investing this $54 billion, or the $130 billion total they have pegged for necessary public investment (which many will rightfully see as a huge amount of money), are dwarfed by the costs of not getting our climate under control. Perhaps they assumed that was obvious — a given — but the Reutersarticle covering the report didn’t make note of that until the very last line (when it finally noted that the cost of inaction is projected to be much greater than the cost of action), and many or most readers won’t connect the dots. Most readers won’t realize that spending $54 billion, or $130 billion, or even $700 billion if you include the private investors, is much less than the trillions upon trillions that society will pay under a “business as usual” scenario. Most readers won’t realize that this choice is something like paying $7,000 for a Rolex versus $100 for a typical watch… and then having the Rolex and your wrist smashed in an accident the day you buy it. Even that doesn’t really capture the suffering humanity will go through from not stopping climate change, or the scale of the costs.
Another huge point that the report authors, those who wrote the executive summary, and the Reuters reporters didn’t mention, is that fossil fuel companies get over $1 trillion in subsidies per year! That is about 20 times more than the extra amount the report above says governments need to invest in clean energy (and much more than clean energy currently gets). And that still doesn’t even take into account the health costs of burning fossil fuels, which are even greater than $1 trillion a year! That doesn’t even take into account historical subsidies for fossil fuels, which would dwarf that $54 billion figure, or the $130 billion figure.
In other words, $54 billion of investment, or even $130 billion or $700 billion of investment, is chump change compared to the economic benefits that will come from averting the worst that climate change is ready to dish up for us. I can’t even come up with an analogy that puts that into perspective. It’s about like each of us only having to spend $7.71 to avert total societal collapse and possibly unlivable temperatures. Worth it? Of course it is. Presented in that way, anyone could choose the right option.
The World Economic Forum / Green Growth Action Alliance study – The Green Investment Report: The Ways and Means to Unlock Private Finance for Green Growth – is great. The results are great. But the messaging is horrible, and the public will be confused, will get the wrong picture… as is the norm with this topic.
How To Horribly Communicate The $$ Side Of A Clean Energy Revolution — World Economic Forum Report 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.
|Unsubsidized Solar Revolution Starting, UBS ReportsPosted: 23 Jan 2013 11:23 AM PST
This articles was originally published on Renew Economy. It has been republished with full permission.
The revolution in energy markets caused by the growing impact of rooftop solar PV is about to take a dramatic leap in scale.
According to analysts from the global investment banking giant UBS, the arrival of socket parity – where the cost of installing solar is cheaper than grid-sourced supplies – is about to cause a boom in unsubsidised solar installation in Europe, and the energy market may never be quite the same again.
Such forecasts have long been the province of environmentalists, climate activists, university researchers, and the occasional industry leader, such as David Crane, the head of NRG, the largest generator of electricity in the US.
Now, the team of energy analysts from UBS, writing in response to plunging power prices in Europe, has issued a stunning report entitled “The unsubsidised solar revolution” – suggesting that investing in solar will become a “no brainer” for households in several European countries, and will have profound implications for the incumbent energy industry.
“Solar has turned from a heavily-subsidised marginal technology into a mainstream source of power generation,” the UBS analysts write. “Thanks to significant cost reductions and rising retail tariffs, households and commercial users are set to install solar systems to reduce electricity bills – without any subsidies.”
Here’s a graph to illustrate what they mean. It shows the light blue line at the top, which indicates where grid-based electricity costs are heading.
The dark blue line indicates the cost of solar PV – it’s now at an inflection point in southern Germany and will get cheaper.
But PV with battery storage, while more expensive now, will cross over in 2014 and ultimately deliver the biggest savings.
UBS says this means utility customers will effectively become utility competitors. It estimates there could be 80GW of unsubsidised solar installed in Germany alone.
This is on top of the 32GW already installed through subsidised installation, and the 52GW cap put on subsidised installations.
“We are at the beginning of a new era in power markets,” the UBS analysts write. ”Purely based on economics, we believe almost every family home and every commercial rooftop in Germany, Italy and Spain should be equipped with a solar system by the end of this decade.”
It says up to 18% of electricity demand could be replaced by self-produced solar power in these markets, at the expense of centralised generation. Even as soon as 2020, up to 43GW of unsubsidised solar could be installed in Germany, Italy and Spain, replacing up to 9 percent of electricity demand. This is on top of reduction in demand caused by energy efficiency measures and weak GDP growth.
The impact on utilities will be profound, and will be made worse by the emergence of cheap battery storage, which would allow households – and businesses – to consumer more of their own energy, and effectively remove the morning and evening peak in pricing, as well as the midday peaks, as we revealed in a dramatic graph in our article last May of Why generators are terrified of solar. Without any peaks, the profit margin of generators is removed. UBS calculates the EBITDA profit pool of the conventional generators will shrink by around 50 percent.
“Households will be able to use the electricity stored in batteries during the evening, which means pressure on spot prices during the evening hours. So far, solar has only been shaving the midday peak. Even worse, batteries installed in family homes or commercial buildings could also reduce the morning peak as they could be charged with low-cost electricity from the grid during night hours,” UBS notes.
It says residential customers, on average, could provide 29 percent of their own energy needs by 2020. Individually, a house with a 3kWh battery and a 4kW PV system could lower its electricity consumed from the grid by 50-60 percent. Commercial businesses could cut even greater amounts, and even a car manufacturing giant like BMW could produce 490MWh of solar electricity per year using its own land, or 29 percent of the group-wide electricity demand.
The impact on the generation industry will be severe. Here’s what UBS estimates the combination of solar PV and battery storage will do to the tariff curve by 2020 – the full impact of their predictions will result in an even greater flattening of the curve. (Please click on graph if it is not totally visible).
UBS predicts that by 2020, power prices will fall another 10 percent, and coal-fired generators, once the major providers of baseload power, will be reduced to the role of filling the gaps between renewable. UBS estimates that the load factor of lignite (brown coal) plants in Germany drops from 72% to 59%, while the load factor of hard coal plants drops from 47% to 31% by 2020. That will give them a lower load factor than many wind or solar farms.
UBS says that the explosion of solar will have a cascading effect – as noted by AGL Energy in Australia, and the local utility in Hawaii. AGL used the circle of death as an argument to reduce feed-in tariffs. But the significance of unsubsidised solar is that the proliferation of solar is unstoppable – unless, of course, it is halted by regulation, or fixed tariffs.
Given the rising costs of fossil fuels, this would be a PR nightmare for the generation industry, but UBS raises the possibility, echoing our story last year about how electricity business models and markets are effectively broken. “At some point, we think this will trigger a political debate about how the grid fees and renewables subsidies should be paid for. It could lead to a flat-fee pricing model,” the UBS analysts write.
The UBS analysis does not extend beyond Europe. It says there is no immediate prospect of unsubsidised solar in other European countries, either because retail tariffs are lower (France), or because of lousy sun (northern Europe). But it clearly has implications for other countries, particularly Australia, which has high retail tariffs and excellent solar resources, and which already has a near 10 percent penetration rate of rooftop solar on available households.
Unsubsidized Solar Revolution Starting, UBS Reports 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.
|Jeffrey Sachs: Natural Gas Is “Absolutely Not Clean Enough”Posted: 23 Jan 2013 08:27 AM PST
Dr Jeffrey Sachs, Director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University and Special Advisor to the United Nations Secretary?General on the Millennium Development Goals, gave one of the strongest presentations of the first-ever Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week and the 6th Annual World Future Energy Summit — it might have been the strongest presentation, in my opinion. His goal definitely seemed to be to wake us up to the urgency of addressing global warming and global climate change, and I think he did a good job of that. He also focused quite a bit on the shortcomings of natural gas. Here’s a video of his speech, followed by what I think were some of the highlights / key points:
In my opinion, the messages or quotes in bold below were some of Dr Sachs’ most compelling points:
1. Natural gas production is not sustainable — it’s also harmful to our climate. “The hydrofracking revolution that is bringing shale oil and shale gas to many parts of the world is very profitable, but it is not putting the world on a trajectory that is sustainable by any stretch of the imagination.”
Later in the speech, he added: “while we are in the middle of our new ‘gold rush’ of hydrofracking, and we tell ourselves conveniently that natural gas is clean, it is cleaner than coal, but it is absolutely not clean enough to divert us from a trajectory of grave damage on the environment — let’s be clear about that. We use rhetoric, which lulls us to complacency, to say that natural gas is a clean energy source. It is not a low-carbon energy source. It’s low-carbon only in comparison to coal. But it is high-carbon in comparison to what our climate can take.”
This triggers an excellent analogy Karl-Friedrich Lenz recently made (which I shared in a news roundup yesterday): “Using gas is like smoking a ‘light’ cigarette. It may contain slightly less harmful substances, but it will still kill you. That’s why the European Union has a ban in place on using words like ‘light’ or ‘mild’ in connection with cigarettes since 10 years ago.”
That’s the sad truth. And while natural gas could help renewable energy technologies power the majority of the grid without any support from nuclear or coal power plants, the truth is that we don’t currently need it (at today’s renewable energy saturation levels), and it is far too overhyped.
Of course, even with optimistic assumptions about natural gas, it is not clean enough to be a significant part of our energy mix:
However, due to uncontrollable and perhaps grossly underestimated natural gas leakage, the scary thing is that natural gas might be even much worse than we tend to assume.
2. Climate change is already hitting us. It is already a challenge. And this is just the beginning. “And I do think we are seeing, if we care to open our eyes, a rather alarming reality about climate change. It’s not news anymore, but I’m going to say it anyway, and that is — the issue of climate change used to be talked about as a problem of the future, and it is now a problem of the immediate present. In every part of the world, in every year, there are a number of calamities that vastly outnumber anything that we experienced even 20 years ago. The global climate system is simply changing a lot faster than our minds are changing, our institutions are changing, or our energy systems are changing.”
In reference to that point just above, he had this great quote: ”I come from New York City. It’s a place that considers itself pretty sophisticated. It’s a place that couldn’t get the power supply on millions of people for a month after a major hurricane hit in November, and the city was unprepared, as was the East Coast unprepared, for a massive amount of flooding, which has come from the fact that the sea level has increased/risen by about a foot over the past century, and so when a massive storm hit, the amount of flooding was of an unprecedented character.
“But the United States was actually hit by pre-shocks this past year — the warmest year in the instrument history of the United States; the massive drought that hit more than 60% of the US, and caused a huge damage to the food supply, and sent wheat and soybean and maize prices worldwide soaring once again; and the hurricane, Hurricane Sandy, which struck in early November.
“But if you look in almost any part of the world, the story is the same. The size of the shocks, the droughts, the floods, the extreme events are coming at an alarming rate.”
What more is there to say about all of that? The catastrophes of global warming and climate change are already hitting us… and they are only projected to get worse.
3. “I don’t think that our discussion is adequate yet. We do not have a solution trajectory that is, first of all, even identified. The United States, for example, does not have an energy plan. We have no policy that is agreed in the United States, not even a policy that has been put forward clearly in the United States, to explain how we will get on a low-carbon trajectory.”
Again, not much to add there.
4. “And in the United States, for various reasons, we have not been able to create a framework that describes to the American people, for example, what is a trajectory to reach a low-carbon economy. Even less do we have a public policy. We don’t have a carbon tax. We don’t have a permit system. We have no agreement on this.
“And if you look around at the major economies of the world, this is basically true, with the partial exception of Europe.”
A bit chilling. For those of us aware of this, I think all we can do is keep pushing as hard as we can to change things in the countries, communities, and circles where we live.
For more content from CleanTechnica’s trip to Abu Dhabi, check out our archive pages for Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, the World Future Energy Summit, and/or the International Renewable Energy Conference.
Full Disclosure: my trip to Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week was funded by Masdar. That said, I was completely free to cover what I wanted throughout the week, and at no point did I feel under pressure to cover any specific events or Masdar in any particular way.
Jeffrey Sachs: Natural Gas Is “Absolutely Not Clean Enough” 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.
|33% Of All Global PV Shipments Ended Up In China In The 4th QuarterPosted: 23 Jan 2013 07:00 AM PST
According to new research from the NPD Solarbuzz Quarterly report, the Chinese end-market received 33% of global solar photovoltaic (PV) shipments in the fourth quarter of 2012.
“Just two years ago, the Chinese end-market was less than 10% of global PV demand,” stated Michael Barker, Senior Analyst at NPD Solarbuzz. “However, during Q4’12, a third of all global PV panel shipments ended up in China. This is the start of a new chapter for the solar industry, with China potentially taking center stage in both the upstream and downstream channels.”
There is more than one explanation for why China has all of a sudden achieved such end-market domination: slow growth in Europe due to declining PV incentives coupled with Chinese domestic policies geared at assisting Chinese manufacturers have both helped.
The report found that global solar PV demand rose to 8.3 gigawatts (GW) during the fourth quarter of 2012, resulting in the year-end surge PV suppliers have come to expect. In this case, however, the shift from a year-end surge from Europe to China has produced an entirely new set of complications.
“The Chinese end-market has different module supplier preferences, pricing expectations, and routes to market,” said Baker. “However, threatened by the impact of global trade barriers, the biggest challenge will fall on Chinese manufacturers that are restricted to domestic demand only.”
Global PV Demand by Region (Q2’12-Q2’13)
The Chinese demand for solar PV materials is weighted towards the end of the year. Fourth quarter 2012 demand for solar PV in China accounted for almost 60% of the total year’s demand.
News of China’s solar PV requirement come perilously close to bad news regarding the Chinese solar industry. Earlier this month, we reported that China was removing support for its solar industry, going so far as “encouraging mergers among producers of solar panels, reducing government support, and ‘blocking’ local leaders from supporting domestic producers.” Within two weeks of this announcement, China also declared that it intended to install 10 GW of solar power in 2013.
Main Source: Solarbuzz
33% Of All Global PV Shipments Ended Up In China In The 4th Quarter 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.
|Giant Japanese Wind Farm To Replace Fukushima Power PlantPosted: 23 Jan 2013 06:00 AM PST
In the wake of the 2011 Fukishima Daiichi nuclear disaster, Japan has decided to build a 1GW wind farm.
This wind farm is intended to replace the Fukishima nuclear power plant, since it has been partially crippled, and its malfunction raised safety concerns, causing many to oppose nuclear power and avoid the risk associated with the inability of nuclear power plant operators to contain certain reactor disasters.
Hizen Wind Farm.
54 nuclear reactors were shut down because of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster. Except for the power from two, which already are back online, the power they supplied needs to be replaced.
The new wind farm will be comprised of 143 wind turbines on a platform that is 16 km (9.9 miles) off the coast of Fukishima. It is expected to be built by 2020.
The Greater Gabbard wind farm has 140 wind turbines, three fewer than the planned Fukushima farm. However, the turbines used for the Japanese wind farm are nearly twice as powerful as the ones used at Greater Gabbard.
This wind farm is part of Fukushima’s goal to become completely energy independent by 2040.
The UK is currently leading the offshore wind industry with a keen enthusiasm for offshore wind. But Japan is clearly eyeing the space as well.
On another note, the Fukushima Prefecture is also set to build the country’s largest solar farm. Add that to this 1GW wind farm, which is to have twice the power capacity of the largest offshore wind farm currently in operation in the world (Greater Gabbard, off the coast of Suffolk, UK), and Japan will have some clean energy momentum behind it.
Source: Deccan Chronicle
Giant Japanese Wind Farm To Replace Fukushima Power 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 just visit our homepage.
|300 MW Of Wind Power Go Online In CanadaPosted: 23 Jan 2013 06:00 AM PST
French renewable energy corporation EDF Energies Nouvelles announced this week the completion of two wind power plants – Massif du Sud and Lac Alfred — totalling an installed capacity of 300 megawatts (MW).
The two wind power plants are part of a seven-project programme which will eventually end in 1,003.2 MW installed capacity.
Massif du Sud wind power plant
The two wind farms are based in the Quebec province of Canada and are made up of 150 wind turbines supplied by REpower. Together, the two plants will be capable of generating electricity capable of powering 70,000 homes.
Hydro Quebec has agreed to buy the power under a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA).
Part of the original deal between EDF Energies Nouvelles and REpower was that there be a high percentage of locally manufactured materials. As a result, the towers, the blades, and the converters were all built in different regions of Quebec.
The construction phase of the two wind farms created more than 600 jobs, and has resulted in 20 to 30 permanent jobs for operation and maintenance.
The Massif du Sud and Lac Alfred wind farms represent the second and third in the seven wind farms awarded to EDF Energies Nouvelles.
Source: EDF Energies Nouvelles
300 MW Of Wind Power Go Online In Canada 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.
|3,000 Dairy Cows Chip In To Offset Super Bowl XLVII Greenhouse Gas EmissionsPosted: 23 Jan 2013 05:00 AM PST
Three thousand dairy cows from Green Meadows Farm in central Michigan will do their part to offset greenhouse gas emissions related to Super Bowl XLVII, with the ambitious goal of making this year’s game the “greenest ever.” The offset, which is available for fans to purchase through the Super Bowl host committee’s “Geaux Green” initiative, will be provided by three manure digesters at the farm.
Manure digesters are becoming ubiquitous with a heavy promotional push from the Obama Administration through the AgStar initiative, but the Green Meadows project got its start under the Bush Administration, and it’s one of the larger and more elaborate operations, so it’s worth taking a closer look to see just what it means for the future U.S. energy landscape.
Super Bowl “Geauxs” Green
Sustainability-related actions are nothing new for the Super Bowl, which by some measures began incorporating green elements into the event since the 1990?s. The efforts stepped up in the mid-2000?s, when Super Bowl organizers began purchasing carbon offsets.
As with other professional sports, individual NFL team owners have also been taking advantage of the valuable real estate at home venues to undertake additional sustainability-related ventures including major solar power installations and wind turbine projects.
This year’s green Super Bowl festivities, dubbed “Geaux Green” in honor of host city New Orleans, are sponsored by utility giant Entergy. The Green Meadows offset is actually just one of three options offered to fans going to the game, who can choose between the cows, a landfill gas project in Texas, and a redwood forest conservation project in California.
The three projects are certified by the Climate Action Reserve, and the carbon credits will go to offset the fans’ travel-related emissions.
Entergy will match the fans’ carbon credit purchases dollar-for-dollar, and in addition the company is also purchasing credits to offset emissions related to travel for the two teams, including coaches, cheerleaders and supporting staff.
Cows Step Up for Sustainable Energy Production
The Green Meadows methane capture project kicked off in 2008, when the dairy farm teamed up with Michigan State University to install a set of three anaerobic digesters.
Anaerobic digesters use a natural microbial process to break down animal waste, only far more quickly and efficiently than in an open environment (anaerobic refers to microorganisms that thrive without oxygen).
The process enables the capture of copious amounts of methane gas, which would otherwise enter the atmosphere as the waste breaks down.
Nothing Simple About Recovering Gas from Cows
That sounds easy enough, but it’s worth checking out the details of a major methane capture operation like Green Meadows Farm to appreciate the engineering that goes into the operation.
After a number of preliminary steps to separate out the dairy barn bedding, manure mixed with water is piped into a digester. Even this initial part of the system is designed for energy efficiency. The incoming manure has to be heated to 102 degrees Fahrenheit, and instead of using an outside energy source it is run through a heat exchanger powered by hot manure coming out of the digester.
The ingoing manure still requires additional heating, but this step also involves reclaimed energy rather than an outside source. The heat for this second step is provided by hot water, and the boilers are run on methane gas from the digesters.
The digesters are large tanks about 85 feet in diameter and 24 feet tall, each capable of holding about 900,000 gallons of manure at a time. Heating tubes in the walls and floor keep the temperature at an optimal warmth for the microorganisms to thrive. As they digest the organic material in the manure, they produce methane gas which is collected at the top of the tank.
As fresh manure is added near the bottom the older, practically spent manure is forced out of the top. After it is used to heat incoming manure, it goes through an additional treatment and dewatering process.
The treated manure is now rendered into a cakelike sludge which unlike raw manure can be safely disposed on land as a soil enhancer or fertilizer. Water from the process is clean enough to use for irrigating crops, or for washing down the dairy barn.
As for that methane gas, whatever doesn’t get used directly by the boilers can go to a generator to produce electricity, which can be used to make more hot water.
In some livestock digester operations, electricity from the generator can also be sold back to the local grid.
Is This the Best We Can Do?
Well, yeah, when you consider all the overlapping layers of sustainable energy production and resource reclamation involved in projects like the Green Meadows Farm digesters, it’s at least a great start.
The significance of the operation also goes far beyond greenhouse gas management, to embrace more universal issues of sustainable economic growth.
Manufacturing manure digester equipment creates jobs, designing, building, operating and maintaining the equipment creates jobs, farmers can gain extra income from selling both electricity and processed fertilizer (and spend that income), and neutralizing the raw manure waste disposal problem can enable livestock operations to expand without running afoul of environmental regulations.
The Super Bowl and New American Traditions
In terms of permanent job creation and sustainable economic growth, fossil fuel projects like the Keystone XL Pipeline run a pretty poor second to advanced energy solutions like the Green Meadows Farm digesters. That’s even without considering environmental stewardship, risk management and farmland preservation, all of which make Keystone a hands-down loser.
Even so, the pipeline is nudging closer to approval, with the latest development being a thumbs-up from Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman, who previously opposed it on the basis of a proposed (and now revised) route through environmentally sensitive regions.
With the burden of rendering a decision on the pipeline now falling to the Obama Administration, Entergy’s Geaux Green carbon offset program gives some cause for hope.
After all, if one of America’s most iconic, flamboyant, non-political, money-generating national events can hitch its star to the renewable power produced by thousands of cows, it looks like we really are ready for a new energy paradigm.
Follow me on Twitter: @TinaMCasey
3,000 Dairy Cows Chip In To Offset Super Bowl XLVII Greenhouse Gas Emissions 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.
|Most Efficient Sedan In America Now For SalePosted: 23 Jan 2013 04:00 AM PST
Honda has set a high fuel-efficiency standard in the United States with its outstandingly efficient 2014 Accord Plug-In Hybrid Sedan.
It is the most efficient sedan in America. It surpasses the efficiency of the Chevy Volt, Prius Plug-In Hybrid, all of the other Prius vehicles, and the Ford Fusion Energi Plug-In Hybrid.
2014 Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid.
It is the first hybrid to meet the LEV3/SULEV20 emissions standard.
To give you a better idea of what we’re talking about, compare it to the Chevy Volt and Prius Plug-In Hybrid:
§ Ford Fusion Energi Plug-In Hybrid: 100 MPGe. 47 City | 46 Highway | 46 Combined.
§ Chevy Volt: 98 MPGe.
§ Prius Plug-In Hybrid: 95 MPGe. 51 City | 49 Highway | 50 Combined.
An Accord is not exactly a small economy car, either — it is a comfortable family car, so this is very impressive.
This hybrid can be fully charged in less than three hours when plugged into a 120-volt power outlet (a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter), or less than one hour using a “Level-2? 240-volt charger.
This car is equipped with a Honda Earth Dreams technology two-motor hybrid propulsion system consisting of a 124 kW (166 HP) electric motor which acts as a CVT (continuously variable transmission).
It is also equipped with a 4-cylinder, 2.0-litre, i-VTEC, Atkinson-cycle gasoline combustion engine and three driving modes:
1. All-electric mode, which enables you to silently enter and leave neighbourhoods during late night or early morning hours.
2. Hybrid gas and electric.
3. Direct engine drive.
As hybrid cars usually do, this vehicle operates in all-electric mode until the battery’s SOC (state of charge) is low, or unless the driver accelerates aggressively, then the gas engine will start to provide it with the necessary power.
This vehicle just went on sale in California and New York for an MSRP of $39,780.
Source: Honda Pressroom
Most Efficient Sedan In America Now For Sale 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.
|Taller Wind Turbines Boost State Energy Self-ReliancePosted: 23 Jan 2013 03:00 AM PST
A story in the Minneapolis Star Tribune highlights the increasingly common use of 100 meter wind turbines for new wind power projects, up from the previous 80 meter standard. The technological change grabs more wind energy, with consistently higher wind speeds at higher altitudes, meaning states can get even more power from a similar number of turbines.
In our 2010 report Energy Self-Reliant States, we illustrated the potential for state self-reliance on wind power with the following map, using NREL data that assumed turbine heights of 80 meters (and a minimum capacity factor of 35%, to be conservative). The following two maps show the potential state self-reliance on wind power at the previous 80 meter turbine height and at the new 100 meter turbine height (with a minimum capacity factor of 30% or greater). See the original article for a handy mouseover option.
The taller turbines mean that five more states are able to get 100% or more of their electricity from wind power (for a total of 27) and 30 states could get at least half their electricity from in-state wind power alone.
This post originally appeared on ILSR’s Energy Self-Reliant States blog.
Taller Wind Turbines Boost State Energy Self-Reliance 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.
|Solar Yacht 300+ Feet Long Under ConstructionPosted: 23 Jan 2013 02:00 AM PST
OceanCo is building a 106-meter (348-foot) yacht with solar power capabilities for launching in 2015. The design is from Nuvolari Lenard. A steel hull will be used along with a beam of at least 15 meters. The length of the vessel, when completed, will be greater than the playing area of an American football field.
The huge vessel will employ a rigid sail system called a Dyna Rig to catch wind and propel itself when under way. The Dyna Rig is operated electronically, so no manual labor is required by deck hands and there are no ropes to become entangled or manage.
The owner of OceanCo, Mohammed Al Barwani, said: “We are very proud of the project; it’s not only the largest project but a very environmental project. The project is called Solar and it would rely heavily, or chiefly, on power from solar energy.”
The Dyna Rig concept was first developed in Germany in the 1960s, as an alternative to conventional propulsion systems which relied on expensive fossil fuels. The use of square sails was actually borrowed from old wooden ships that were powered only by wind. From the 16th to the 19th centuries, these types of ships were some of the most important forms of transportation. Some of these vessels in the 19th century used both square rigging and steam, so there were hybrid propulsion systems even then.
Next-generation cargo ships may employ rigid square sail systems to reduce their reliance on bunker fuel by up to 30%. If this technology adoption comes to pass, it will be significant because bunker fuel use produces colossal amounts of unhealthy air pollution.
Among pleasure craft, there is already a very large yacht employing a Dyna Rig called the Maltese Falcon. This is a significant development because it may be the signal of an overall trend to incorporate this kind of technology into similar vessels as well to cut down on fuel consumption.
Boating of all kinds — both for commerce and pleasure — continues to wreak environmental havoc. The air pollution problem was touched upon briefly, but there are also fuel spills, sewage dumping, and the dumping of grey water. This type of discharge contains toxic chemicals that don’t break down and can cause much damage.
If the wealthiest yacht owners can cut back on their excesses and green their vessels, it might help set an example for others.
Solar Yacht 300+ Feet Long Under Construction 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.
|Solar Energy Legislation Slow To Move Through Polish GovernmentPosted: 23 Jan 2013 01:00 AM PST
One step forward, two steps backward? We sure hope that’s not how it goes with solar subsidies in Poland. New regulations for solar subsidies were expected to be hashed out in 2012 and ready for implementation at the start of 2013, but discussion about reorganization has been stalled.
Presidential Palace in Warsaw via Shutterstock
According to PV Magazine, the best case scenario is that the Polish cabinet finalizes a draft to be presented to parliament at the end of March and then — fingers crossed — that legislation will become law at the beginning of 2014.
It’s not all bad news out of Poland, though. The central European country surpassed original green power output by about 0.7 percent in 2012, mostly thanks to biomass and wind power generation.
Solar Energy Legislation Slow To Move Through Polish Government 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.
|SolarCity Helps Power Net-Zero Homes At International Builders ShowPosted: 23 Jan 2013 12:00 AM PST
SolarCity, one of the top solar providers in the US, is now attempting to make a splash in the energy-efficient homes market.
The company is showcasing the “net zero” home concept at the International Builders Show in Las Vegas, Nevada this week, hosted by the National Association of Home Builders.
Designed by Blue Heron, 56 solar panels, provided by SolarCity, power the home, while creating 12 kilowatts of energy. This helps to create excess energy, resulting a net-zero energy benefit.
Show attendees can see the house for free at the event, along with various other features relating to solar power, environmentally sustainable housing, and energy efficiency that SolarCity is putting on during the show. These include a discussion on the future of solar energy and its impact on homeowner happiness, and a panel on the value of selling green products.
SolarCity is just one of the most recent organizations getting into the Net-Zero movement, which has gained traction around both the US and other parts of the world.
In December, we reported on a net-zero building opening up in Brooklyn, New York, which features 80 solar panels that will create 12 megawatt-hours of electricity a year, good enough to provide almost 25 percent more energy than needed.
Meanwhile, Nexus Energy in Philadelphia was putting up a net-zero building complex on five lots built with volatile organic compound materials (VOC), while powered with geo-solar. The homes would have the highest green rating from the National Association of Homebuilders.
On the global scale, other notable projects include the Dutch headquarters of the World Wildlife Federation, which features 250 solar panels powering the building, as well as recycled building material.
After its recent announcement with its IPO, and its continued growth in solar installations, it was only a matter of time before SolarCity would move to boost the Net-Zero concept further. It will be interesting to see what comes out of this upcoming show for SolarCity as it continues to grow its market share.
Main Source: SolarCity