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What Barbie dolls can teach module manufacturers
Herman K. Trabish: June 18, 2013
As the solar industry wrestles with issues of quality and reliability that may be its biggest challenges, an engineer looked back four decades to the first reliability standards and discovered a crucial lesson the industry still has not learned.
During the oil crises of the 1970s, the Department of Energy funded a proposal to transform solar technologies developed to power early space exploration. “It was the beginning of the terrestrial PV program,” explained Ronald Ross, who was the NASA-Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Flat Plate Solar Arrays Engineering and Reliability Manager from 1975 to 1990, speaking at the 39th IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference in Tampa, Florida. “We had to figure out how to get from a few small-scale applications to large-scale future applications for high-voltage central utilities.”
They used the protocols and organizational procedures from an aerospace industry that had just conquered the moon.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/the-origins-of-solar-reliability?utm_source=Daily&utm_medium=Headline&utm_campaign=GTMDailyShare This Post
“The driving boom is over.”
Stephen Lacey: June 17, 2013
It's not surprising that Americans started driving less after the 2008 recession. But interestingly, the downward trend in vehicle use has continued five years later. This has raised a lot of discussion about whether North America has reached "peak car."
In his most recent analysis on driving trends in America using data through March of this year, Doug Short, an analyst with Advisor Perspectives, has published this graph showing a peak in vehicle miles traveled in November of 2007.
That's a pretty compelling trend. But when adjusted for population growth, the downward spiral becomes even more clear. The chart below shows that Americans are traveling the same number of miles they did in 1995 -- meaning vehicle miles have fallen by 8.75 percent since the summer of 2005. That's a 93-month drop that hasn't slowed.Share This Post
By Howard Schneider, Published: June 18 | Updated: Wednesday, June 19, 1:00 AM
The World Bank is beginning to commit billions of dollars to flood prevention, water management and other projects to help major Asian cities avoid the expected impact of climate change, a dramatic example of how short the horizon has become to alleviate the effects of global warming.
Places such as Bangkok, Jakarta and Ho Chi Minh City are now considered “hot spots” that will bear the brunt of the impact as sea levels rise, tropical storms become more violent, and rainfall becomes both more sporadic and — in the rainy season — more intense.
The Obama administration made a directive in April to cancel discretionary bonuses because of automatic spending cuts.
Bank officials said this week that those effects are not considered a distant risk anymore, but rather are a near certainty “in our planning period” of the next 20 years or so.
In a study released Wednesday, the bank, for example, projected that major portions of Bangkok would be flooded by 2030. A flood control system built for Ho Chi Minh City only a decade ago is now considered inadequate and needs a $2 billion overhaul, said Rachel Kyte, the bank’s vice president for the environment and sustainable development.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/climate-change-threatens-trouble-in-the-near-future-world-bank-says/2013/06/18/1ba2bcea-d83d-11e2-a9f2-42ee3912ae0e_story.html?wprss=rss_national&tid=pp_widgetShare This Post
By BETH GARDINER
Published: June 18, 2013
LONDON — At the intersection of clean power and information technology, a new breed of digital start-ups is harnessing the power of the Internet to make smarter, more efficient use of energy and other resources.
Proponents call it “cleanweb,” and they say the sector is poised to bring about huge leaps in efficiency, saving money and cutting planet-warming carbon emissions.
As its backers define it, cleanweb is any software or Internet application that makes it easier to use resources — like textiles or cars or electricity — more efficiently.
The label is applied to a diverse mix of companies, some of them far removed from the power sector. Cleanweb enthusiasts often point to Airbnb, a Web site that connects people seeking vacation accommodation with others looking to rent out their homes, reducing the use of hotel rooms — and, in theory, the number of hotels that need to be built.
The Nest, a sleek, smart home thermostat that can be controlled from a mobile phone, is cleanweb, too. So is Mosaic, a crowdfunding platform that links individual investors to solar energy projects that reduce the use of fossil fuels. RidePal tallies online votes from commuters to design routes to work for employer-funded buses, taking cars off the road in the congested San Francisco Bay area.
“For me, it’s about bringing the optimism and the creative energy of the Web to the big challenges of sustainability,” said Jack Townsend, an organizer of Cleanweb U.K., a network of British entrepreneurs and technology experts. “It’s early days right now, but it’s very fast-developing.”
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/19/business/energy-environment/harnessing-the-net-to-power-a-green-revolution.html?_r=0Share This Post
Siemens, unable to find a buyer for the CSP remnants of Solel, lays off 150 workers.
Eric Wesoff: June 17, 2013
Concentrating solar power (CSP) via solar trough technology is struggling.
In October 2009, German industrial giant Siemens bought solar thermal trough firm Solel for $418 million from founder Avi Brenmiller and other investors.
In October 2012, plummeting PV costs, among other forces, drove Siemens to announce its intention to exit the solar business. It would sell off its solar assets, starting with what was once Solel in Beit Shemesh, Israel. The firm has lost more than $1 billion since 2011, according to Bloomberg.
Last week, Siemens Solar Thermal sent 150 of its 200 employees home, having failed to find a buyer at the right price, according to reports in Globes.
Spain's Abengoa was one of the bidders, but the firm "withdrew its offer because of uncertainty about the market's future, even though Siemens had agreed in principle to finance the plant's operations for two years, 'until the picture clears,'" according to Globes. Founder Brenmiller was also said to be making a bid for his former firm, according to reports.Share This Post
Approximately $100,000 worth of LED light bulbs were stolen in Santiago, Chile, where electricity can cost more than 10 percent of the median income.
By Steven Bodzin, Correspondent / June 18, 2013
The thieves pulled up in silence late Sunday night, creeping into a vacant lot next to the ByP warehouse in an industrial zone of Santiago. They broke into the warehouse, loaded up their truck with loot, snagged the security camera tapes, and were off.
LED lighting is increasingly popular around the world: It uses about a 30th of the electricity consumed by conventional incandescent bulbs, and saves money. That’s attractive to a Chilean family that spends an average $28 a month on electricity. The bills add up in a country where the median per capita income is about $240 a month.
Indeed, while Chile’s electricity is far from the world’s most expensive (the International Energy Agency reports that Denmark spends 41 cents per kilowatt-hour, compared with 21 cents in Chile), retail prices are about twice as high as in the United States. That’s because Chile’s economy and consumption keep growing, while big coal and hydro generating stations have been slowed or stopped by environmental lawsuits. Lower-impact renewable energy, like wind or solar, are tough to finance since Chile’s regulations say such higher-price power sources must remain off-line until all the cheaper alternatives are at capacity. The upshot is that all electricity has grown more expensive.
So it’s up to individual households and businesses to find efficiencies where they can here. Enter the LED light.Share This Post
By Don Fitz
When Stan Cox’s Losing Our Cool questioned America’s fetish for air-conditioning in 2010, some very nasty comments reached his inbox. But Cox, an agricultural researcher at the Land Institute in Salina, Kan., is not one to back down from saying what needs to be said.
Now he’s poking another cow most sacred: the free market. In his new book, Any Way You Slice It: The Past, Present, and Future of Rationing, he argues that environmental sanity might require something even more dreadful than limiting consumption. Are you ready for this? A sustainable world just might be one in which humans get equal shares of what they need.
I talked with Cox the day after Slice It was released.
Q. Why do you think that rationing is necessary to stop environmental collapse?
A. Avoiding collapse will mean cutting back deeply on our exploitation of fossil fuels and other resources. There’s climate disruption, but there’s much more as well. At least one-quarter of all plant growth and freshwater flow on Earth is captured and used every year by our species. We have either already breached, or are on the way to breaching, all of the Earth’s critical boundaries.Share This Post
By MARK SCOTT
Published: June 18, 2013
LONDON — On the outskirts of Scunthorpe in northern England, workers at the large power station known as Keadby 1 are preparing to shut it down at the end of the summer, with the loss of about 40 jobs.
Its owner, the British utility Scottish & Southern Energy, says fluctuations in global energy markets have made the natural gas power plant unprofitable despite a multi-million pound renovation, as demand for electricity has plummeted since the financial crisis.
In response, the company plans to keep Keadby shut down until at least 2015. It has also delayed new energy investments and is planning to close almost a quarter of its fossil fuel power plants, including parts of the Ferrybridge coal power station near Leeds in northern England.
“The kind of decisions S.S.E. is taking is likely to be reflected across the industry in the coming months,” Paul Smith, the utility’s managing director for generation, recently told investors. “The right market signals and support structures need to be in place before we can make the necessary investment decisions.”Share This Post
G8 leaders aim to level the global resource playing field this week, discussing a consequential, if obscure, energy issue at the G8 summit. Are developing nations getting a fair share of their oil, coal, and mineral wealth?
By David J. Unger, Correspondent / June 18, 2013
Many of the world's most valuable resources happen to fall in the poorest places on the planet. Large, multinational companies mine precious oil, gas, and coal from developing African, Asian, and Middle Eastern nations.
That can generate much-needed job growth and infrastructure development, but the exchange isn't always balanced. Host countries are often stripped of commodities for profits to be made halfway around the world. In other cases, corrupt leaders exchange their national resources for their own personal profit.
"Mineral wealth for developing countries should be a blessing, not a curse," British Prime Minister David Cameron said in a statement last month. "And I urge our G8 partners to champion the same high standards of transparency."
As host of this year's G8 summit, Mr. Cameron has made extractives transparency part of the agenda. It may not be the broad-reaching discussion of global energy issues and climate change that loomed large over previous summits. But the focus on equitable resource extraction shines a light on a consequential, if relatively obscure, issue.Share This Post
By John Upton
Original source: http://grist.org/news/batteries-included-new-wind-turbines-and-solar-panels-come-with-built-in-storage/?utm_campaign=daily&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&sub_email=dkschultz%40gmail.com
If you want to use solar power at night or wind power on calm days, you need batteries that can store energy after it’s produced. But why bother with two pieces of equipment when you could have one?
Engineers are now beginning to build batteries directly into wind and solar systems.
Combined renewable generation-storage systems are just starting to be deployed in the wind sector. From a report last month in Quartz:
[W]hat if every wind turbine became a node in an energy internet, communicating with the grid and each other to adjust electricity production while storing and releasing electricity as needed? That’s the idea behind General Electric’s new “brilliant” turbine, the first three of which the company said … will be installed at a Texas wind farm operated by Invenergy.
The 2.5-MW windmill is something of a technological leap in an industry where turbines have gotten bigger and bigger but not necessarily smarter. The turbine’s software captures tens of thousands of data points each second on wind and grid conditions and then adjusts production, storing electricity in an attached 50 kilowatt-hour sodium nickel chloride battery. If, say, a wind farm is generating too much electricity to [be] absorbed by the grid—not an uncommon occurrence in gusty west Texas—it can store the electricity in the battery. When the wind dies down, the electricity can be released from the battery and put back on the grid.
“This provides a path for lowering the cost of energy even more,” Keith Longtin, general manager of GE’s wind product line, told Quartz. “We think by being able to integrate the storage into the turbine and by being able to provide predictable power it’s going to minimize a lot of the balancing the grid has to do today.”Share This Post
The inventor of renewable energy credits has something else up his sleeve.
Stephen Lacey: June 14, 2013
The renewable energy credit, or REC, is a staple in the retail energy sector. But fourteen years ago, when the tool was first being crafted, very few people understood its potential.
"I heard consistently that it couldn't be done. But then we closed our first transaction and we saw this huge shift in thinking from 'You can’t do that' to 'How did you do that?'" said Rob Harmon, who, as chief innovation officer at the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, helped create the first RECs in 1999.
Now Harmon, who is CEO at the Portland, Oregon-based company EnergyRM, believes he and his team have a tool for deploying energy efficiency that will be far more revolutionary.
Meet the MEETS, also known as the metered energy efficiency transaction structure. Think of it like a power purchase agreement for energy efficiency.
Harmon says the structure breaks down nearly every conceivable conflict between landlords, tenants, investors and utilities that stand in the way of deep efficiency retrofits.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/This-May-Be-the-Most-Innovative-Energy-Efficiency-Financing-Tool-Yetkj?utm_source=Daily&utm_medium=Headline&utm_campaign=GTMDailyShare This Post
M&A drivers in the LED industry vary widely, according to Jim McHale of Memoori.
Jim McHale: June 14, 2013
Jim McHale founded Memoori in 2008, a consultancy company based in London that provides market research, business intelligence and financial deal tracking services to clients across several industries. The Business of LED Lighting in Buildings 2013 to 2017 report highlights important conclusions, supported with facts, as to what is shaping the future of the LED lighting industry.
Over the course of the last five years, Memoori has been closely monitoring developments in the LED market, tracking a total of 238 significant deals. Although we cannot claim that this list of deals is exhaustive, it certainly paints a picture of the mood in the market and the strategies of its respective major players.
The total value of deals where disclosure was made during this period was nearly $8 billion, peaking in 2008 at over $4 billion. The number of deals completed over the five-year period remained fairly consistent.
The median value of deals also fell slightly over the period of analysis, ranging between a maximum of $18.3 million in 2008, to a minimum of $11 million for 2013 data to May.
Our analysis also shows that the strategy for growth through acquisition has cooled off since 2011. We believe there are three reasons for this:Share This Post
By John Upton
A major spill of toxic oil waste has wiped out trees and vegetation across a 104-acre swath of Alberta, Canada. The apparent cause of the spill: The rupture of a five-year-old pipeline that was designed to last at least 30 years.
The pipeline spilled 2.5 million gallons of a waste mixture of oil and water, which the company responsible, Houston-based Apache Corp., downplayed as “salty water” with “trace amounts of oil.”
Whatever you call it, it’s nasty stuff. “Every plant and tree died” in the area touched by the spill, says the chief of the nearby Dene Tha First Nation, while The Globe and Mail reports that “aerial photos show a broad strip of trees that have turned brown.”
It’s unclear when the pipeline started spilling. Judging by the damaged trees in the area, the Dene Tha say the leak might have been sprung in the winter. But the spill was only revealed publicly this week by the province’s energy regulators following media reports.Share This Post
by Chris Clarke
on June 17, 2013 3:38 PM
The head of the safety division of California's ratepayer protection agency has blasted Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) over the utility's reaction to a proposed $2.25 billon penalty stemming from a 2010 gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno that killed eight people. In a reply to PG&E's calling the proposed penalty "excessive," the California Public Utilities Commission's (CPUC) Emory J. (Jack) Hagan repeatedly referred to the utility's "lack of remorse," saying "It's time to throw the book at PG&E."
The September 9, 2010, explosion, which destroyed 38 homes and damaged 108 more in the San Francisco suburb, was traced to an aging, insufficiently maintained 30-inch buried gas pipeline. The explosion left a 30-foot crater, and flames lept 1,000 feet into the sky during the course of the resulting fire, which was worsened due to a 90-minute delay in getting gas turned off to the ruptured pipeline. In the end, 58 people were seriously injured, and 8 killed -- including Jacqueline Greig, a veteran CPUC staffer who worked as a natural gas utility expert in the Commission's Ratepayer Advocates office, as well as Greig's daughter.
Since the disaster, PG&E has admitted it had no idea the ailing section of pipeline was there, and the utility has said to regulators that it can't guarantee there aren't other similarly neglected and forgotten gas mains elsewhere in the company's service territory. The CPUC's Safety and Enforcement Division pointed to decades of flawed or nonexistent record keeping on ailing pipelines as part of the reason for its recommendation that PG&E pay the record $2.25 billion penalty, which it would be forbidden from recouping from ratepayers. Rather than go into state coffers, the Safety and Enforcement Division's recommendation is that PG&E be forced to spend the sum on immediate improvements to its infrastructure to help prevent a future San Bruno.Share This Post
As effects of the nuclear plant's shutdown are evaluated, officials examine how to to satisfy region
By Morgan Lee2:47 p.m.June 16, 2013
A future without nuclear energy has been on the drawing board for Southern California since a radiation leak shut down San Onofre in January 2012.
With the recent announcement of the facility’s permanent retirement, diverse architects of the state’s power grid are acting on those plans.
Utility executives last week resubmitted a previously spurned application for a major new natural-gas plant on the southern outskirts of San Diego, as engineers look to shore up power supplies across an area larger than the state of Maryland.
Any solutions will have to navigate increasing technological challenges and a complex landscape of environmental and clean-energy mandates in California.
The cost implications are unclear for ratepayers, who already are underwriting the state’s aggressive green-energy makeover. Utility engineers in San Diego County and the Los Angeles Basin are studying how to make up for San Onofre, which generated enough electricity to power 1.4 million homes.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2013/jun/16/power-of-uncertainty/Share This Post