Monday, August 29, 2011

Climate Change: Affect Forests In The Basque Country

neiker-tecnalia has carried out a study on trends in the future distribution of habitats in the mountains of the Basque country. One of the conclusions thrown in his research indicates that climate change may alter the conditions for the growth of one of the most iconic trees of the region: the oak.

The research was carried out on the basis of scenarios more pessimistic and serious of the climate change into the future. From this hypothesis, stated for the 2080, forests of oak in the Basque country will be subject to a significant or near-total reduction of their habitat. This is due to that in the Basque country, already not meet variables of temperature and humidity necessary for their development. Experts believe that this study shows the trend of the mediterraneización of the forests in the Basque country.

On the basis of the results, and assuming that the scattering power of this tree allows it, it is possible to be a trend to the migration of the forests of Oaks to the North of Europe. The study shows that the oak would lose potential Habitat to make way for other Mediterranean species, such as the Mediterranean Alcornoque.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Quicker Battery Charging Is Another Way To SlayThe Range-Anxiety Beast

Auto reviewers, most of whom do seem to love their loud and precious ICE cars, never hesitate to talk about “range anxiety” when writing about electric vehicles, as if nobody driving a gasoline-powered car has ever run out of fuel and as if the EV technologies we have today — which are pretty darned good — will never get better or more affordable. That said, range anxiety is an issue, even if it has been overplayed in the press, so the future success of EVs is partly tied to developing less expensive batteries with higher energy densities than what we have today. What’s often overlooked, however, is the role that fast-charging technologies can play in tackling range anxiety. After all, does it matter if you can only drive 100 kilometres if, along the way, you can dip into a station and recharge your battery in just a few minutes?

That’s increasingly the thinking when it comes to buses. Indeed, General Motors announced today it has invested $6 million (U.S.) in Proterra Inc., which builds buses that can travel up to 40 miles before recharging and can recharge in 10 minutes. Buses often stop for several minutes at major pickup points. A Proterra bus has fast-charge technology mounted on its roof. When it pulls into a designated charging spot, it connects to an overhead system that charges the bus’ 54 lithium-titanate battery packs, each one rated 72-kilowatt-hours and supplied by Altairnano. The idea is that quick charging allows you to cut battery cost and weight, contingent on access to enough quick-charge locations. General Motors’ investment in Proterra was part of a larger $30-million round led by Kleiner Perkins. You can read more about the investment here.

This idea of quick-charging for buses has been around for a while. In 2009 I wrote about a Chinese company called Sinautec Automobile Technologies that builds buses that use ultracapacitors for storage. The buses could only go three or so miles before having to recharge, but charging took only two minutes and, unlike batteries, the ultracapacitor packs can be almost infinitely cycled. It’s an approach that might not make sense for an urban bus route, but certainly it could be ideal for a university campus or airport.

This ability to charge rapidly is what gets me excited about ultracapacitor innovations that could, eventually, replace conventional batteries in EVs. To me, an EV that could travel at least 200 miles (300 kilometres) on a single charge and recharge in two minutes would be ideal. Even if you did run out of juice — again, just as you can driving a gas-powered car — an AAA/CAA driver could easily pull over and have you charged up in minutes. No biggy.

View the original article here

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Smart Grids: New study highlights key challenges and trends in the European Union

ScienceDaily (July 7, 2011) — Intelligent electricity networks -- smart grids -- are a key component in the EU energy strategy, but substantial investments are needed to make them a reality. A new study from the European Commission's in-house science service, the Joint Research Centre (JRC), presents a review of 219 smart grid projects Europe-wide. The vast majority of investments, amounting to about €5.5 billion, were made in old Member States ("EU15"), while new Member States ("EU12") tend to lag behind.

By providing a complete catalogue of the projects to date, the report showcases how smart grids can help integrate more renewables, accommodate electric vehicles, give more control to consumers over their energy consumption, avoid blackouts and restore power quickly when outages occur.

European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, says: The implementation of smart grids is a significant opportunity for European industry to research, to market and to export new technologies, to create new jobs and maintain global technological leadership. We are only at the beginning of the transition to smart grids, and at this stage, sharing the results of research projects can help increase the stock of knowledge and add impetus to innovation in this field.

The report shows that Distribution System Operators (DSOs) play a leading role in coordinating smart grid deployment across Europe. DSO-led projects represent about 27% of all projects and about 67% of investments. However, the study underlines that current regulation in EU Member States tends to promote cost efficiency by reducing operation costs rather than by upgrading to a smarter system. It warns that the investment potential on smart grids will have difficulty accelerating without revising the current regulatory models. Regulation should ensure a fair sharing of costs and benefits in the set up of services platforms, as power system owners and operators are expected to sustain the majority of investments whereas several players might get benefits from smart grids.

Smart grids enable a two-way exchange of information and power between producers and consumers, and this leads to increased transparency, promoting responsible energy saving measures on the consumers' side. Success stories in the EU15 Member States confirm that consumer engagement is crucial to the effectiveness of smart electricity systems and needs to be won through trust, understanding and clear tangible benefits. For example, real-time information on electricity consumption and prices allowed consumers to save up to 10% of electricity.

The survey indicates that in almost all countries a significant amount of investment addresses the integration of different smart grid technologies. Most technologies are known, but their integration -- i.e. how well they work together -- is the key challenge for the success of these projects and the overall smart grid concept.


View the original article here



Friday, August 26, 2011

Tech Dreams: Solar-Powered Laptop

It’s far from being a reality, but an Italian product designer has a vision for solar-powered laptops.

The Luce Solar Panel Powered PC is by Andrea Ponti would be powered by two solar cells, one behind the monitor and the other under a keyboard, writes Get Solar.

Ponti is an industrial designer whose research is focused on international projects between Italy and Japan; his design portfolio is nothing short of impressive (check out his amazing Sustainable Water Container).

Energy conversion and battery life are the key elements that need to be improved to make this product a commercial reality. But as the Get Solar article points out, there is a technology called electronic ink display that is very energy efficient and which could provide the answer for it.

For now, the closer you’ll get to a solar power experience at the laptop is sitting at a cafe on a sunny day with a cup of coffee. Luce, however, is definitely a snapshot of things to come.

View the original article here

Thursday, August 25, 2011

SunSaluter, developed by 19-year-old Canadian Eden Full, could lower cost of solar PV for world’s poorest

A 19-year-old Princeton student from Calgary is getting a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: $100,000 and the chance to turn a classroom invention into a clean technology business.

Eden Full invented a new type of tracker for Solar PV panels. Instead of using sensors and electric motors to keep the panels directly facing the sun as they move across the sky, Full’s panels track the sun with the help of bimetallic strips that bend and twist in certain predictable ways when heated by the sun. You can read more about it in my Clean Break column posted today. She calls her invention SunSaluter, and like most tracking systems the technology can help improve the energy output of a solar PV system by up to 40 per cent. It’s also much cheaper than using motor-based systems, improving the economics for solar PV and making the technology more accessible to developing countries.

Full has filed a patent for her invention and is now focused on developing it into a commercial product. And she’ll truly get that chance to focus. The second-year Princeton University student was selected as one of “20 under 20? for a $100,000 fellowship from the Thiel Foundation, created by PayPal co-founder and early Facebook investor Peter Thiel. She’s packing up her bag, taking a two-year leave from Princeton and heading to Silicon Valley, where she’ll get the support she needs to build her invention into a business.

Enthusiastic, creative, passionate… and just 19 years old.

View the original article here

Friday, August 12, 2011

Illegal traffic of birds in Spain

The spoliation of eggs and chicks of birds of prey is undoubtedly a serious scourge against many threatened species.

This happens in the world, and in our country also alas. This has recently been demonstrated when it has been discovered and dismantled which is possibly the largest birds of Spain trafficnetwork.

Environmentalists such as SEO/BirdLife, WWF and ecologists in action organizations have recognized the good work carried out by the SEPRONA, service of protection of the nature of the Civil Guard. A major criminal network has been able to dismantle which in an operation.

In this regard, it should be noted that at least one of the suspects involved in this network of trafficking of birds was working on projects of the Junta de Andalucía. Agency that personará in the case along with the above mentioned environmental organizations who assume the role of the accusation in defence of the conservation of birds of prey plundered.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Dump of Nerva

The problem of waste, treatment, management and harvesting always lies in storage, and is there when different standards are put into force, with defaults on the landfill of Sedases, or more serious offences such as Nerva landfill fire, to which is added a controversial new.

The activist organization Ecologists in action has made a recent requested the Consejería de Medio Ambiente which requested the revocation of the authorization that allows the operation of Landfill of Nerva, with its subsequent final closure.

This request is based on the aforementioned fire, joined another occurred a few hours ago, and other incidents that have been reported in a timely manner by the Organization, to the Department, which among different spread of waste on the road.

This problem is added pollution of Rio Tinto, by various discharges that would be from this landfill, joined the health risks which set out the nearby villages, which had been requested to also know the obligations that must be completed BEFESA, who manages and should monitor this dump signature.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Mary River turtles threatened by climate change

The turtle River Mary (Mary River) - Elusor macrurus - are a particular species limited to a single river system in Australia. Recent studies consider that they will suffer from multiple problems whether future temperatures increase envisaged because of climate change reach.

Scientists have incubated eggs of the Mary River turtles at temperatures of 26, 29 and 32 ° C. Young turtles that took place in high temperatures (32 °) showed a decline in the ability of swimming and - therefore - a preference for shallow water.

This combination of physiological effects and behavior may have consequences for the chances of survival of the offspring. Deeper waters, not only offer the young turtles protection from predators, but is also where his food. These results are worrying given that the predictions of climate change for the area suggest that the temperature of the nest likely to reach 32 ° C in the coming decades.

It the Mary River Turtle is endangered according to The IUCN Red List and the population has suffered a great decline in recent decades. Some known factors that have affected the population include the capture of eggs for the trade and the introduction of predators such as foxes and dogs.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Taking Control of the Heat

Last week, temperatures soared into the triple digits, reaching record highs for the Twin Cities. After a wicked winter, I actually welcomed the heat with open arms. That is, until the temperature inside my house hit a steamy 86 degrees – even with curtains closed and fans circulating. And while I pride myself on keeping an energy efficient – and comfortable – home, I was in a bit of a pickle.

With the fans not cutting it and no central air on which to rely, my only other option to beat the heat was a lone window air conditioning unit. I sat on my couch for several minutes, contemplating my (limited) options. Do I flip the switch and let the cool air rush in, or do I tough it out?

As sweat ran down my face in a steady stream, I caved. I also had to think of my three young kids – it was simply too hot not to do anything. And while the cool air felt good, all I could think about was how much my decision was going to cost me.

But is it odd to think that way? Can’t I just sit back and enjoy the comfort of the cooler air without worrying about the impact my air conditioner was having on my electric bill?

Apparently, I’m not the only one who thinks this way.

The Nielsen Company conducted a recent survey that found nearly half of residential electricity customers would be willing to pay for access to smart meter usage date, such as hourly energy usage and consumption data on individual appliances – e.g. an air conditioning unit.

Other survey findings revealed that 15 percent of the population would pay up to $10 a month for “smart meter” data, an indication of just how valuable consumers believe this kind of information can be.

I, for one, agree this information is a valuable asset. And while I’m not sure how much extra I’d be willing to pay for this kind of information, I do know I would put it to good use. In this instance, it may not have changed my decision to use my air conditioner. But at least I would be armed with the information for use in the future.

So tell me, would you pay for a “smart meter” service? If so, how often do you think you would use it?

View the original article here

Monday, August 8, 2011

Tapping our oil

You and I own some oil. It's in the ground in Texas and Louisiana.

Much has been made of the recent decision to tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR). Some are for it, and others are against it. Some are for it, others are against it. But there's something missing in this discussion - something that affects our economy, the future of alternative energy, and the autonomy of local regions.

In response to the OPEC oil embargo of 1973, the U.S. government established the SPR, now maintained by the Department of Energy. It holds about $100 billion of crude oil, ready for tapping at a moment's notice. The IEA announced recently that OECD nations have agreed to tap the U.S. and European reserves to make up for the loss of production from unrest in Libya.

In his post on the subject, climate writer Joe Romm argues that it's a good thing we're tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Romm writes:

Let's face it. The strategic reserve is not strategic. It was created at a time when people worried that countries could withhold oil from us. But now we have a global market, so that isn't possible. We have replaced oil shortages with price spikes. So if we don't use the SPRO to deal with our current price spike, when would we ever use it? After all, in the entire three-decade history of the SPRO, a mere 32 million barrels were sold during crises.

So I can't imagine we're going to keep this relatively useless "reserve" for many more decades. As you know better than anyone Mr. Chairman, we need to be almost completely off of oil by mid-century to avoid catastrophic climate impacts. So sometime soon we're going to sell off the SPRO's oil -- I can't imagine we are seriously going to keep $100 billion under the mattress forever.

I think we could use the price relief now. We could generate $20 to 25 billion this year alone. Some of that could help low-income families deal with high energy bills. And some could jump-start the transition to a clean energy economy and end our oil addiction.

Romm is partially right, but for very wrong reasons. We should tap the SPR right now to dampen price volatility, but not because the SPR is a bad long-term idea.

Tapping the SPR brings the price of oil down; refilling it brings the price oil up. Thus the SPR acts as a buffer or counterweight against price swings. When the price drops significantly at some point in the future (due, say, to the next recession), we can fill the SPR back up again. This allows us to keep the price of oil from overshooting during recoveries and undershooting during recessions.

Price volatility is a key problem in that it makes it difficult for alternative energy to get a toehold. That is, every time oil (and generally fossil fuel) prices spike, alternatives are seen as relatively cheap and investment begins; once West Texas Intermediate hits $80-90/bbl and other fossil fuels hit their equivalents, alternatives like solar and wind (and, unfortunately, tar sands) start looking cheap. A year or three later when those high oil prices help cause a new recession, oil prices fall again, and pending alternative energy projects get canceled as they appear unlikely to make a profit. This high-frequency noise makes it hard to discern the long-term price signal being sent: oil prices are rising steadily. Take a look at this price chart of WTI over the last 5 years - and note that during this time total supply has remained roughly flat (and net exports have only changed marginally):

By dampening volatility in oil markets, it's possible for the SPR to make the long term depletion of oil obvious. Careful management of the SPR to maintain a very slowly increasing price point would aid in the transition to alternatives.

Would this be a government price control? Yes, but not completely, as the OECD wouldn't be able to control oil prices perfectly. I'd argue in our current situation it's better to use the SPR as a counterweight for price swings rather than let the exaggerated boom-and-bust dynamic to play out on its own. Most states already control prices in electricity markets, so this is nothing new.

In the long run, having a second, distributed (regional / state-by-state) SPR system is a good idea. A centrally-located SPR is vulnerable to transportation and pipeline disruptions, and requires federal planning for its use. Regional SPRs that include not just crude oil but refined products would help dampen local price swings.

View the original article here

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Tendril, Siemens Announce Partnership

Earlier this month, Tendril Networks and Siemens Energy, Inc. announced a strategic alliance to market the Tendril Connect platform to utilities. Tendril Connect, the core of Tendril’s home energy management offering, is one of the most comprehensive home energy management solutions available. The Siemens partnership could do big things for Tendril by connecting it with a new set of potential utility customers.

With its Tendril Connect platform, Tendril is aiming to get into the home for the benefit of both the utility and the consumer. It consists of a suite of energy management applications that will not just collect and analyze data but enable remote control of home systems on behalf of the utility and the consumer. The platform will enable personal energy use visualization, demand response, load control, energy efficiency, electric vehicle charging, and on-site renewable energy integration.

With deregulation and competitive retail electricity markets on the rise in the United States and abroad, Tendril is also setting its sights on competitive electricity suppliers by offering customized services that will match customers with the best suppliers and pricing plans given their energy usage behaviors.

Siemens, by virtue of its deep presence in the U.S. utility sector and its project management and implementation capabilities, is in a position to take Tendril’s technology to the next level. Tendril already counts over 30 utilities as customers, ranging from small municipal utilities to major investor-owned utilities such as SCE, ComEd, and National Grid and competitive suppliers such as Reliant and Green Mountain. Through its partnership with Siemens, Tendril will be on the fast track to landing new customers with larger footprints and, with any luck, selling them more fully-fledged versions of its platform.

In addition to augmenting these existing utility relationships, Siemens’ venture capital wing, SVC, will help sharpen Tendril’s market strategies and support its financial and operational planning efforts. The size of SVC’s investment into Tendril was not disclosed, however.

In the United States, the near-term path to success for home energy management players will be through partnerships with utilities. In other countries, such as the United Kingdom, home energy management companies such as AlertMe and PassivSystems are making a play by selling straight to the consumer. While Tendril’s long-term ambitions are international, it’s focusing on the United States today, and its partnership with Siemens will help cement the relationships it needs to expand its uptake in the United States.

Article by Eric Bloom.

View the original article here

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Recycle onion skin

The problem of waste generated daily by a family should be treated with proper management of waste, to achieve a proper discarding of themselves, with a possible separation of trash in their respective containers, or simply looking to Recycle waste, to give it a new use.

On this occasion, has added a new material that can be recycled, discovering beneficial properties for various uses, including food ingredients, coupled with the removal of substances beneficial to health.

This material is extracted from the waste of onions, which estimated a demand for a recycling of the bulbs, which can be drawn from compounds azufrados and fructanos (makers of the itching eyes and nose) that skin Brown and the outer layers are available fiber and flavonoids.

While it is not a definitive solution to the problem of waste, is to consider that it is a considerable aid to reduce the nearly 500,000 tons of waste generated annually (figure estimated by the European Union) which not only creates problems of infrastructure, but also has its impact on the impact environmental.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Reservoir Biscarrues

We have already seen and analyzed the problem that refers to the Rivers of Spain and its decline in the flow, caused by various factors referred not only to climate change, but also to an over-exploitation of water resources, added in addition to a bad water planning, which leads to a dam construction without taking into account the details of the environmental impacts are causing.

Adding to this problem is the approval of the location of the Reservoir Biscarrués, which has been approved by an environmental impact statement issued no more and no less than by the Ministry of the environment, Rural and marine, who has been harshly criticized by environmental organisations belonging to the Council Adviser on the environment (i.e., Ecologistas en Accion )(, Greenpeace, WWF, friends of the Earth and BirdLife)

Stands out not only that this construction will lead to the irreversible destruction of areas of great natural value, but there is also a glaring contradiction, that among these locations, there are many covered by the Natura 2000 network.

In addition to these factors, it is estimated that the usefulness of this reservoir is doubtful, for what will look for the different legal options to prevent its construction.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The innovative roof ecologico Brooklyn children's Museum

It The children of Brooklyn Museum in New York is the first Museum of the city to obtain the certification LEED silver. In its design it strikes us fundamentally its very new flag with a green roof transparent. He told you.

The Brooklyn children Museum has as one of its foundations be respectful of the environment. Therefore for enlargement has been oriented towards a sustainable construction and ecological.

The ceiling will comprise a kind of ready-made awning with a transparent material called ETFE, which is a plastic heat derived from fluoride-resistant. This material has been chosen because it makes a very high resistance to temperature and high durability.

From inside the compound which is perceived is a similar effect to that feels under the shade of the trees, with the Sun's rays entering among the foliage. An is architecturally beautiful take advantage of natural light in a comfortable way.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Invasive algae sea urchins

In many cases, the inclusion of an invasive species to a particular ecosystem causes massive damage to the rest of the native species, either in general form as an individual, affecting only one, as it is in the case of sea urchins, which has been shown recently, are being heavily affected.

A recent study by Spanish researchers from the University of Girona has been revealed the involvement of marine alien species, mainly type macroalgaein the decrease in the diversity of the funds of the Mediterranean Sea.

One of the affected species is that of the Sea urchins, which can only reverse the effect of these seaweed at an early stage, being outnumbered widely when invasive species begin a mass reproduction, acting as direct, consuming these species, or as indirect, eating other species that they serve as a substrate to algae.

This analysis gives clues about how it must be a population control of these exotic species that have a fundamental impact on the reduction of the diversity of marine ecosystems, as well as causing numerous damages that can be economically.