Friday, September 30, 2011

The Niagara Falls

As its name implies, he is not a simple waterfall, but a combination of several of them, located in the basin of the Niagara River, located in the eastern part of North America, and that just marks a border between United States and Canada.

As we have said, is covered by several waterfalls, situated at an altitude of 236 metres above the sea level, and with one fell approximately 52 m, currently located on an area of strong policy of environmental conservation and tourist centres Niagara Falls (New York) by the American side, and Niagara Falls (Ontario) by Canadian party.

Their training is situated at the time of glaciation, which ended approximately 10,000 years, where the area of the Great Lakes region, due to the action of a glacier of great dimensions that he excavated soil and furthered some channels that today make up these lakes was formed.

Among the falls is a small piece of emerged land which comprises the Goat Island (in English, Goat Island) a centre which is a natural border between Canada and the United States and is completely uninhabited.

As we have said, Niagara Falls are a conglomeration of falls, which is why we find three different and distinct interconnected groups:

American falls: from the side of New York, being the largest and most voluminous despite not possessing great height, making them the largest tributary of the Great Lake area.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


In the town of Mexico alone generated 12,500 tons of garbage a day, on average, 1.4 kg of waste per person. Most of these residues are natural resources we are wasting, as well as the huge grounds which must be to bury them.

Continue managing waste in the same way means that we prefer to deplete our natural resources and that we do not know or do not want to do different.

However, we cannot do much to prevent waste from becoming garbage. The first step in any action is separate. To not produce garbage just split it into organic (food and pruning residues) and inorganic (everything else).

Organic waste can make compost; and inorganic ones can be separated into recyclable, such as metal, glass, plastic and paper sent to recycling, and the rest, going so far to the landfill.

Choose a site of approximately one square metre that is protected from excessive exposure to the Sun, wind or rain.

1 It uses a compost, sort of maybe bottomless, approximately 60 x 60 x 80 cm height, manufactured
with tables of recycled plastic or simply wood of thickness 2 cm and 10 cm wide, placed
with a separation of 1.5 cm between each of them to allow the passage of air. It seeks to lower tables are removable.
2 Put the compost directly on the earth so the waste coming into contact with living beings that inhabit it. It can also be in the courtyard or on the roof directly on the floor.

3 Put the first layer of soil in 10 to 15 cm in height at the bottom. If you have, including rods, dry branches or garden grass. It is placed in the center of the container waste and adds land in such a way that they not leave by the banks and will be well covered.
4 Add catering waste (approximately which meets in a pot with lid in eight days) and to distribute them evenly. Chop waste, because the smaller are the pieces presented a greater contact area to moisture, air and bacteria, which accelerates the decomposition.
5 Cover perfectly the above leaves or dry grass and Earth, or only with land. Make sure that no food is exposed.
6 Sprays the content with a little water and keep slightly moist to aid decomposition.
7 Cover the compost and let stand until put together another bucketful of chopped organic waste and repeats the operation from point number 4.

To make the compost will appear gusanitos, bacteria, fungi, worms and other microorganisms that comply with a specific function of degradation. In 8 or 10 weeks you will get a black earth that is extracted by the lower door and be screened through a thick mesh.

The land that pass through the mesh contains high nutrients of excellent quality that can be used or sold as fertilizer.

What remained in the mesh becomes deposited in the compost to finish its decomposition.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Top Ten United States Cleantech Law Firms of 2011

Business law (also known as commercial law) is very important within the clean technologies industry. Law firms help address numerous issues relevant to clean technology and renewable energy companies, including issues related to venture capital, debt financing (venture debt, project finance, and bank loans), energy regulatory, environmental matters and intellectual property.

Below is my personal list of the top ten cleantech law firms in the United States. These firms have greatly assisted clean technology and renewable energy companies, from entrepreneurs to large, multimillion dollar companies.

1) Latham & Watkins has won numerous awards for its work in the clean technology and renewable energy sectors. By understanding that the environment and energy are global concerns, they have been able to become a leading law firm representing companies in a broad range of sectors, including emissions, biofuels, grid efficiency, solar power, energy storage, wind power, geothermal power, hydrogen power, recycling, transportation, green building, and advanced materials. Their areas of expertise spans every practice area that matters to a clean technology and renewable energy company over its life cycle, including capital markets, climate change, emerging companies, energy regulation, environmental regulation, intellectual property litigation, tax, technology transactions, project finance and development, and mergers and acquisitions. Latham serves clean technology and renewable energy companies with an on-the-ground presence in every major U.S. region (offices in Silicon Valley, San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, Boston, New York, Chicago, Houston and Washington D.C.) and an unrivaled international reach (offices in the U.K., Germany, France, the Middle East, China, and other parts of Asia).

2) Mintz Levin is a leading law firm in cleantech nationally with global expertise in the commercialization of clean energy technologies. Their Energy & Clean Technology practice represents over 250 clients and has completed more than 180 transactions totaling $3.2 billion in value since 2006. They are the first law firm in the United States to build a dedicated clean technology practice group combining capabilities in emerging technology representation, project finance and development, and government relations to help clients pursue their business goals.

Their attorneys have been instrumental in driving the development of cutting-edge public/private financing mechanisms to enable commercial-scale deployment of clean technologies. The firm is also recognized for its work in the corporate and cleantech areas and is ranked 6th as issuer law firm and 8th as placement agent law firm – 2010 PIPEs League Table; ranked top 10 in IPO Leadership Rankings: IPO Issuers’ Law Firms – IPO Vital Signs; and ranked 6th among underwriters’ counsel and 2nd among disclosure counsel in Northeast – Thompson Reuters (Public Finance).

3) Cooley’s clean energy and technology team represents more than 200 leading cleantech companies, venture investors, and lenders. Cooley’s practice comprehensively covers the entire value chain, from startup and venture transactions through project development and finance, with specific expertise in wind, solar, biomass, biofuels, efficiency, carbon management, waste to energy, energy storage, materials science, water management, and smart grid technology. Cooley was recently ranked as the #1 law firm nationally for Clean Tech/Renewable Energy in Vault’s 2011 Law Firm Rankings. As more and more cleantech companies seek to deploy their technologies at refinery and utility scale, and as traditional project development is increasingly impacted by technology innovation, Cooley believes that expertise in all aspects of the business will be essential. Cooley has nine offices in major U.S. technology centers (Boston, Broomfield, New York, Palo Alto, Reston, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington) and recently filed an application to open an office in Shanghai.

4) Goodwin Procter’s Cleantech and Energy Practice represents entrepreneurs, operating companies, investors and investment banks. The lawyers at this firm help their cleantech clients protect and promote their ideas through patents and intellectual property licensing; obtain financing from angel investors, venture capital firms, and private equity funds; manufacture and deploy their technology under joint ventures, power purchase agreements, licensing and other arrangements; and realize exit strategies and otherwise capitalize on their investment. Goodwin represents nearly 140 companies, from start-ups to large public companies, in virtually every sub-sector of the cleantech space, including advanced materials, battery technologies, biofuels, energy efficiency, fuel cells and energy storage, advanced lighting, smart grid, solar, transportation, waste-to-energy, water and wind. Dow Jones VentureSource recently recognized Goodwin Procter as the 2nd most active law firm nationally in energy/utilities company venture capital financings. Goodwin was engaged in over 100 separate financings, mergers and acquisitions transactions and public offerings in the cleantech sector during 2009 and 2010, and the deal value of the approximately 75 cleantech-related closings in which they have been involved since 2010 is nearly $2 billion.

5) Wilson Sonsini has been consistently ranked as one of “America’s Best Corporate Law Firms,” due to its assistance with technology and growth enterprises around the world. In the last 50 years, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati has established itself through its increased knowledge of clients’ industries and long-standing contracts in the technology sector. The expertise offered helps in multiple stages of business growth – from start-up companies to multibillion dollar worldwide enterprises. With offices in the United States and China, this company has helped over 300 public enterprises with a variety of issues, including securities, corporate law, and corporate governance.

6) Fenwick & West has a long history of working alongside clean technology companies, including alternative energy and energy efficiency. They have worked with a number of companies in a variety of fields, including power management, energy consumption, and alternative materials and fuels. Fenwick and West has offered a number of representative engagements, including corporate and financial counseling for entrepreneurs and startups in the alternative energy sector, representative of a variety of investors, patent counseling, and license drafting and negotiations. Some of the areas Fenwick currently represent include advanced gasification, biofuel and biochemical production, smart grid, thin film and high-concentration photovoltaics, and advanced fuel cells.

7) Loeb and Loeb is a multi-service law firm with more than 300 lawyers in 5 offices across the U.S. and 1 in China. Loeb has a strong reputation representing startups to multi-national, Fortune 100 companies, venture capital and private equity firms, and investment banks involved in the cleantech industry. Loeb regularly assists with angel, venture and other private financings, mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures, IPOs and other public offerings of equity and debt, and acting as outside general counsel to companies. Loeb is a also a proven leader in delivering the transactional, litigation and regulatory services required by cleantech projects worldwide. For instance, Loeb has extensive experience with projects in a wide range of renewable energy sectors, including wind, hydroelectric, solar, geothermal, waste-to-energy, fuel cell and landfill gas sources. Loeb regularly works with equity and debt investors, utilities, lenders, contractors, developers, energy suppliers, transmission owners, and others in a variety of dynamic project ventures. Loeb’s cleantech capabilities include tax equity investments, tax credits, renewable energy credits, DOE loan guarantees and grants, US Treasury cash grants, interconnection agreements, energy purchase agreements, transmission, hydro relicensing, environmental and land use, real estate and construction, federal and state rate cases, and federal and state regulatory and compliance matters.

8 ) Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe had been dedicated since 1863 in aiding clients in achieving their overall goals. Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliff is well practiced in a number of transactional areas, including capital markets, global infrastructure, energy, mergers and acquisitions, banking and finance, and emerging companies. This law firm has been integral in developing environmental preservation programs, including energy conservations, office construction and operation, indoor environmental air quality, community service partnerships, and recycling within their offices. .

9) Vinson & Elkins with over 50 clean energy clients ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies lawyers have closed transactions totaling more than $11 billion in value in this sector in the last five years. These include venture capital financing (representing companies and investors), M&A, project development and joint venture deals, technology licensing matters, and dispute resolution. This firm’s main strength is its energy practice, stemming from its roots in Texas.

10) Bingham. Bingham is a leading international law firm with 1,100 lawyers in 13 offices across the U.S., Europe and Asia. They have significant experience in the clean technology, renewable energy and infrastructure sectors, with decades of experience developing and implementing new energy sources both in the U.S. and abroad. Their lawyers include seasoned practitioners who have developed new renewable energy technologies as principals and represented emerging growth companies, project developers and sponsors, equity investors, tax-credit investors, and debt finance sources. They are one of the few firms that offers deep experience in all of the major disciplines needed for our clients to thrive in this market, including lawyers experienced in project development and finance; commercial technology and intellectual property; all forms of relevant financing, ranging from angel investing and venture capital/private equity investing to debt and equity capital markets and project finance; mergers and acquisitions; IPOs; environmental, land use and natural resources permitting and litigation; tax and tax financing;

View the original article here

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Beehive-Inspired Vertical Farm is a Self-Sufficient Mini Ecosystem for London

Xome Arquitectos began their design based on the premise that by 2050 more than 70% of the world’s population will live in an urban environment. If this comes to fruition as expected, vertical farming will become a necessary strategy to feed urban residents.

Xome also wanted to design a place where people could participate in multiple activities like shopping, working, living and recreation. Their proposal for the London Tower Farm, through the LOFT AWR 2011 design competition, is a honeycomb-like tower with apartments around the perimeter and growing levels in the center.

The tower’s facade was based on the strategy of carbon, life’s building block with the atomic number of 6. The building’s basic block is a hexagon that is repeated up the tower and serves as the apartments’ windows to the world.

Renewable energy systems on the roof generate power for the building, while rainwater is collected and used for hydroponics, showers and toilets. Food is grown in the center of the tower, so residents can easily access the growing areas and be a part of the farm.

The resulting fruits and vegetables are for the residents as well as for sale to the general public. Plants spill over the windows and balconies adding even more life to the verdant building.

View the original article here

Friday, September 23, 2011

Two Wind Farms Get NZ Closer to 90% Green

Two huge wind farm approvals totaling 1,400 MW (1.4 GW) bring New Zealand closer to its target of 90% renewable electricity by 2025. The small nation of four million gets more than three quarters of its electricity from clean energy already: 79%.

Geothermal and hydropower have long supplied the majority of New Zealand’s power, but hydro is at a natural limit. Wind is well positioned to fill the gap, according to Wind Energy Association CEO Eric Pyle. ”Wind power could generate 20% of New Zealand’s electricity by 2025, up from 4% today.”

That means growing wind from its current 615 MW to around 3,000MW. These two approvals are a significant step forward, supplying nearly half of that at a total of 1,400 MW. The two large utility-scale wind farms are rated at 860 MW and 540 MW. (Another huge farm in the coal-rich South Island was denied, Meridian Energy is fighting to overturn a decision against its 630 MW Project Hayes in Otago.)

860 MW Genesis Energy

Genesis Energy has just been granted the resource consents to build an 858 MW wind farm in a remote region of the Wairarapa, at the bottom of the North Island, but near to Wellington, one of New Zealand’s four main population centers.

The 286 turbines, with a maximum height of 155 meters are proposed for a remote area that is relatively sparsely populated, with just six small rural settlements in or around the remote coastal site, with a combined population of about 500 in just 110 households.

Like US wind farms in Iowa and Texas, the company has signed land use agreements with 27 owners of the land, and would site the turbines within a “turbine corridor” ideal for wind farm development. Over several years, building the farm is expected to cost around $1.68 billion NZ (US$1.43)

540 MW Contact Energy

Contact Energy, New Zealand’s largest utility has resource consent to build Hauauru ma raki (“northwest wind” in Maori) a 504 MW, 168-turbine wind farm near New Zealand’s largest population center of Auckland, with the farm sited on the windy west coast between Port Waikato and Raglan.

Among the conditions imposed on Hauauru ma raki under the consent are that the turbines must not be taller than 150 metres with a maximum of three, 50-metre blades, which must be light grey or off-white in colour with low reflectivity, and limits for noise created during both the construction and operation of the wind farm, and a number of conditions to protect the local ecology.

At the time, the approval made it the biggest wind project in the country to secure consent to date, but Contact Energy appears to be wavering on going forward with the project immediately. Certainly it is a gigantic step.

Both farms approved are twice the size of New Zealand’s biggest wind farm to date, West Wind, which has only 62 turbines that are less than half the height of the new turbines, at only 67 meters tall.

View the original article here

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Warming Cycles Will Trigger Civil Wars, New Study Suggests

Are we getting more cranky and fractious as the planet heats up? It certainly seems so. The US is only warmer by just a few degrees on average over the last 30 years, and yet the culture seems to have become a lot angrier than thirty years ago. But that’s just one person’s subjective sense of what’s happening.

To see if there is a connection between rising temperatures and rising bellicosity, an interdisciplinary team of researchers at Columbia University’s Earth Institute counted tropical conflicts and compared the timing to the El Niño warming cycles.

Coauthor Mark Cane, a climate scientist at Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, was among the earliest to predict the rhythm of El Niño/El Niña cycles, in the 1980s. That discovery is now used by organizations around the world to plan agriculture and relief services.

The higher temperatures during El Niño years double the risk of civil wars across 90 affected tropical countries, the authors found. Their paper appears in the current issue of the leading scientific journal Nature.

In recent years, scientific evidence has accumulated that past societies suffered and fell due in connection with extreme droughts that damaged agriculture and shook governments. This is the first study to make the case for such destabilization in the present day, using statistics to link global weather observations and well-documented outbreaks of violence.

“The most important thing is that this looks at modern times, and it’s done on a global scale,” said Solomon M. Hsiang, the study’s lead author, a graduate of the Earth Institute’s Ph.D. in sustainable development. “We can speculate that a long-ago Egyptian dynasty was overthrown during a drought. That’s a specific time and place, that may be very different from today, so people might say, ‘OK, we’re immune to that now.’ This study shows a systematic pattern of global climate affecting conflict, and shows it right now.”

The scientists tracked the El Niño years from 1950 to 2004 and correlated them with onsets of civil conflicts that killed more than 25 people in a given year. The data included 175 countries and 234 conflicts, over half of which each caused more than 1,000 battle-related deaths where the chance of civil war breaking out was about 3 percent; during El Niño, the chance doubled, to 6 percent. Countries not affected by the cycle remained at 2 percent no matter what.

Some examples of festering conflicts they counted that began and flared up during El Niños include Southern Sudan where intense warfare broke out in 1963, and flared up again in 1973 and 1983. El Salvador, the Philippines and Uganda also broke out in conflicts in 1972-73; and Peru’s guerrilla Shining Path movement also began during the 1982-83 El Niño. Angola, Haiti and Myanmar flared into civil war in the 1991 El Niño; and Congo, Eritrea, Indonesia and Rwanda in 1997.

Climate scientists do expect the natural weather cycles of El Niño-El Niña will become more extreme with a warming climate, but the researchers do not directly address the issue of long-term climate change.

“No one should take this to say that climate is our fate” said Cane. “Rather, this is compelling evidence that it has a measurable influence on how much people fight overall. It is not the only factor–you have to consider politics, economics, all kinds of other things.”

Poorer countries seem to be more vulnerable to the effect. Rich Australia, for instance, has never seen a civil war despite its El -driven extreme drought and flood cycles.

“But if you have social inequality, people are poor, and there are underlying tensions, it seems possible that climate can deliver the knockout punch,” Hsiang added.

Sounds like America could be in for rough times.

View the original article here

Monday, September 19, 2011

SolarCity to Launch Largest Residential Rooftop Project

SolarCity, a leading American solar company, has announced it is set to begin a $1 billon residential rooftop project, doubling the number of solar systems currently on homes around the United States.

The company reports it has received funding from two major investment banks – U.S. Renewables Group and Bank of America – plus a loan guarantee from the Department of Energy. SolarCity recently received $280 million investment from Google. With this infusion of capital, the company plans to install 160,000 solar photovoltaic systems on houses and other buildings on military bases around the country in the next five years.

“This is the largest domestic residential rooftop solar project in history,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a statement announcing the deal. “It can also be a model for other large-scale rooftop solar projects that help America regain its lead in the solar industry.”

Since it was founded in 2006, the company has installed 16,000 rooftop units. “This is a massive kick of momentum for the company,” said Lyndon Rive, SolarCity’s founder and CEO in a company press announcement.

In the wake of recent DOE loan failures to large solar companies like Solyndra, which filed for bankruptcy last week, Rive stresses that this deal is nearly risk-free for the lenders and government, with SolarCity putting up its own money for the panels and only getting reimbursed by its lenders after each project is complete.

Renewable Energy World reports that SolarCity owns, operates and maintains the systems, and sells the electricity to the end-user. In working with investment banks to pool together often-complicated state and federal incentives, the company streamlines the process and simply offers the customer solar electricity — often at prices lower than current electric rates.

SolarCity says it will try to employ American veterans and family members for the 750 people needed to complete the project, showing that green jobs do indeed exist. The company has seen extraordinary growth in recent years. After starting in 2006 with just two people, SolarCity has added over 600 employees since 2006.

View the original article here

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Tesla And The Future Of The Electric Car

Tesla And The Future Of The Electric Car guest post by Clean Energy Intel

A debate has once again been raised with regard to the future ofclean technology and in particular the electric car. Whilst many ofthe issues on which this debate is based are genuine, they in factfail to get to the heart of the matter. It therefore seemsworthwhile to address some of central issues directly.

The Global Problem of Oil’s Monopoly in the Transport Sector

At the heart of the matter is the simple fact that a number of threatening global issues cannot be dealt with unless we end theeffective monopoly of petroleum products in the transportation sector:

Economic security – the monopoly position currently enjoyed by oil leaves the global economic cycle very exposed to the gyrations of both the oil price and political instability in the Arab world – an arena which continues to be very volatile. It is no co-incidence that the recession and financial calamity of2008 was preceded by a sharp rise in the price of oil or that the same has been true of the softening of the recovery this year.

Oil is the only strategic commodity capable of having such a disruptive impact on the economic cycle and frankly the world’s oil reserves are largely concentrated in hands which don’t necessarily appear to act in favor of stability.National Security – oil’s monopoly position ensures a continued flow of funds into the national economies of nations who are not particularly friendly to the interests of the US or western democracy as a whole.Global warming and associated abnormal weather patterns. I have no wish to get embroiled in the current debate over climate science.

However, the risks are clearly there whether or not we fully understand the processes at work. Most importantly,climate science predicts not just a warming of the planet overtime but more importantly a proliferation of abnormal weather patterns – more frequent occurrence of droughts and floods etc.That is exactly what we are seeing.

If climate science is correct these disruptions will continue to get worse. I don’t believe that the precise interactions at work here can be definitively proven. Only time will tell. However, all the risk is that this is another factor likely to increasingly influence both policy-makers and consumers.

I don’t feel the need to argue the precise detail related to each of these points. The fact of the matter is simply that, taken together,they represent inordinate risks to the global policy environment –risks which we largely face because we accept the monopoly position enjoyed by oil in the transportation sector.

No matter which way you look at it, one or other of these issues will keep rearing their head until we address them. As we have seen this year, developments on a global scale will simply keep bringing us back to the essential dilemma that oil’s monopoly needs to be dealt with.

That will continue to influence both policy-makers and consumers.The pressure on these issues may die down for a while – but only until the next oil shock or some other calamity. Consequently, time and again we will be brought back to the fact that we have to allow and encourage a free market in alternatives to oil in the transportation sector.

The essential point to understand is simply that these issues will keep coming to the forefront of the policy agenda until dealt with –and that both policy-makers and consumers will increasingly move towards solutions.

Resource Scarcity and Replacing Oil as a Strategic Commodity

The problem is of course that given the all-pervasive use of oil in the transport sector, it is extremely difficult to find a single technology or commodity capable of replacing it on its own. This is particularly true in the face of the growing demands on the earth’s limited resources which are rising relentlessly due to both population growth and the shift in global incomes towards poorer populations. Whilst the later factor is of course desirable, it produces an inexorable rise in global demand.

These factors have of course been prominent in creating the very need for clean technology and the related need for an end to oil’s monopoly in the transport sector. However, they also suggest that we are likely to face supply constraints across a range of commodities going forward – particularly those related to new demand for high-tech solutions.

These issues are extremely important and point to a number of conclusions:

It would be a grave mistake for anyone in the green community to see the electric vehicle or any other single technology as a simple solution to the problem of the way in which we fuel the transport sector.It would be an equally grave major mistake for governments totry to pick winners or force a single solution to these problems. The end result would likely be alternative supply constraints and difficulties.We need to let the free market do its job.
And this brings us to the heart of the matter. The problem with oilis not simply that it is a limited natural resource with anassociated highly volatile price. Many other commodities face thesame problems. What makes the problem with oil significantlydifferent is that it is in a monopoly position as the sole strategiccommodity in the transport sector.

Where the free market is allowed to function properly, the pricing mechanism creates proper resource allocation and usage, alters the pattern of demand and generates demand for alternatives, stimulating investment and innovation. It’s not perfect but it works. It gets the private sector moving on the deliverance of solutions.

Conversely, there are massive barriers to entry in terms of refueling the transport sector and this does not allow the market to flexibly adjust to supply constraints and use a multiplicity of solutions in order to spread demand across a range of resources.

The bottom line is that governments get themselves into trouble when they pour money speculatively into specific solutions. It’s not the government’s role to pick winners. However, it is the government’s job to act against monopolistic barriers to entry and to ensure afree market. That’s what needs to be done with regard to oil’s monopoly role in the transport sector.

The electric car has a role here. Not as the single solution to the problem but rather as one of a range of potential solutions. The most rational path forward is to break down the barriers to entry,allow free competition and let the market do the rest. A few steps forward seem appropriate:

Greater use of natural gas in the trucking sector. The Natural Gas Act would aid the roll-out of natural gas filling stations across specific trucking corridors.The Open Fuel Standard Act. For the cost of merely $100 per vehicle, new cars can be produced with the capacity to take ethanol, methanol and other biofuels as they are developed.Again, simple free competition. Open the market, innovation will do the rest.The role of the electric vehicle is clear. It is certainly notto entirely replace oil. However, it can add an alternative source of power. This is the only way we can spread demand in the transportation sector across a range of finite natural resources. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) in particular when combined with the Open Fuel Standard will allow competition between various forms of liquid fuels and electricity. Let the consumer decide.Greater use of electricty as a clean energy solution also requires that we move towards cleaner technologies in power generation itself. Increased use of natural gas to meet base load requirements, combined with a33% Renewable Energy Standard such as that in place in California would seem like a reasonable step forward.
What is clear is that the issues of population growth, the spread of income growth to the world’s poorer nations and the resultant demand growth, mean that oil simply cannot continue to play its current role for the rest of this century. The solution is not to force the march on any one single alternative. It is to break down the barriers to entry and allow the free market to provide a range of solutions. This is the only way to deal with the very real problems of resource scarcity that we face in the years ahead.

The Forces Behind Electrification Are Already in Play

Most importantly, it appears that the factors behind the increasingdevelopment of various forms of EV alternatives are already in play.The single most important factor has probably been the new CAFEstandards here in the States. These will help produce morefuel-efficient vehicles based on the internal combustion engine(ICE). However, automakers appear to have realized that in order tomake the grade they will have to innovate and adopt a greater use ofEV technology across their respective model ranges.

This has, for example, led recently to a number of announcements inthe EV field from General Motors (GM), clearly pointing to thecompany’s commitment to moving forward:

The announcement of a battery pack deal with A123 Systems –see hereThe announcement of a plug-in hybrid Cadillac ELR, based onthe Converj.The announcement late last week of a broadening of thecompany’s collaboration with LG – see here.

What is becoming clear is that we are likely to see a range ofapproaches and battery sizes. The most interesting is probablyToyota’s (TM) approach with the plug-in Prius, which will have asmall Lithium battery capable of covering some 13 miles or so.Nevertheless, it is competition at the fuel pump. Combined with anOpen Fuel Standard, this has the potential to be the car of thefuture. Or certainly one of them.

Battery Efficiencies and Cost Reduction

Opponents of clean energy and the electric vehicle for some peculiarreason like to show charts of the improvement in disk capacity orCPU speed in the IT industry compared to, for example, batteryenergy density. The purpose is no doubt to illustrate the point thatthe laws of chemistry do not allow electric batteries to provide thekind of exponential improvements in efficiency as seen in the ITindustry and described by Moore’s Law. Whilst this is true, it isalso entirely irrelevant. There is absolutely no reason to expectbattery technology to replicate the efficiency gains of the ITworld. Most importantly, such efficiency gains are not exhibited bythe internal combustion engine nor in any other technology thatelectric batteries or clean technology actually competes with in thereal world. So let’s leave the wonders of the IT industry aside andfocus on the realities of energy and the transport sector.

It is nevertheless true that the electric batteries currently inproduction are certainly expensive and have not in general managedto breach the question of range anxiety without significant cost ora back-up generator. So where will the improvements come from? Letme focus on a few significant points:

Any analysis based on the reputed cost structure faced by A123Systems (AONE),which puts at battery costs at $1,000 per kWh, is notparticularly insightful in a discussion of the future of the EVmarket as a whole. Developments in the overall EV market willclearly be driven by the more efficient producers, of which A123Systems is currently not one.Tesla’s (TSLA)Model S appears to have significant potential to alter themetrics in the EV market. The company has of course not releasedcost details of its new battery packs. However, the company hasprovided literature suggestingthat on a $ per kWh basis the battery pack of the Model S isdown to 42% of the cost of the original battery pack for thefirst version of the Roadster. The Roadster Sport had alreadygotten those costs down to 69%, so the gains continue to beimpressive. The further expected gains are no doubt based on theCustom 18650 automotive cell in development with Panasonic.That is why Tesla appears to be able to suggest that when the300 mile version of the Model S is released next year it willcost somewherearound $75,000. There appears to be a demand forsuch a luxury EV and those metrics start to offer an interestingoption in the luxury car market.Efficiency gains that have been made elsewhere should also berecognized. For example, the new Ford Focus BEV has a 70-milesingle-charge range, similar to that offered by the Nissan Leaf.However, the company claims that its 23 kwh battery pack can becharged with a Level 2, 240-volt charger in 3-4 hours - almosttwice as fast as the Leaf.Looking forward on a more medium-term basis, potentialadvances will no doubt come from new innovation related toalternative battery technologies – particularly related toVanadium for example. Again, it is not necessary to try and pickwinners. It’s simply the case that competition will spurinnovation. These new technologies are of course a threat tolithium battery specialists such as A123 Systems. However, theyare nothing but a potential boon to a company such as Tesla, whois not tied to a particular battery system and who could workwith whatever a Panasonic or alternative can provide in thefuture most cost effectively.Perhaps the most significant point is that further gains,particularly in lower end commuter-orientated EVs and PHEVs, arelikely to come from other production advances outside of batterytechnology. A critical issue is likely to be weight-shedding andrelated new materials for example. This is no doubt the key toGM’s expanded relationship with LG Group. GM had previously beencollaborating with LG Chem on the battery packs for the Volt andthe Ampera. However, the company has recently announced that therelationship between the two companies will be expanded toinvolve LG Group as a whole. This will allow the Korean companyto offer its expertise in other areas, particularly related to'vehicle structures and architectures'. See more detail here. AndTesla of course is already working with aluminum in order to getthe weight of the Model S down.Finally, the introduction of Level 3, 480-volt chargers isalso significant to the potential growth of the EV market. Thiswill be particularly true once they are installed where they aremost needed, across the nation's Interstate highways - as is forexample planned with regard to the PacificCoast Green Highway. These Level 3, 480-volt rapidchargers can provide a 19 kwh charge to a Leaf for example in 30minutes. Some other EVs can be charged more rapidly. Drving fromLA to the Canadian border in a Tesla will be a breeze.
All of this suggests that in fact there is no slow crawl ahead whenit comes to overall efficiencies for EV vehicles. Most importantly,such efficiencies in terms of the performance of the cars as a wholewill not be limited to efficiencies in battery technology.

What to Invest in: TeslaAs discussed above, Tesla (TSLA)is a low cost player in terms of the company's battery powertrain technology - despite being well placed in the luxurymarket.The company has developed a significant brand name.When the Model S is first produced in 2012, sales appearlikely to go well. The company already has customer orders forsome 5,550 units.The company's target of 20,000 unit sales infull year 2013 seems reasonable.Tesla has an ongoing relationship with Toyota and seems likelyto play a significant role in the roll-out of Toyota's EVprogram. The suggestion is that the two companies are currentlynegotiating over a $1bn deal - more detail here.In my disclosure below, I have stated that I own no stock in any ofthe companies discussed. This is simply because, having hada reasonable month in difficult conditions, I decidedto use Friday's rally to lock in profits on my clean technologyportfolio. I intend to use any weakness into September to buy backmy positions in stocks such as Tesla.

Finally, the bottom line is that the global issues discussed abovewill keep bringing both policy-makers and consumers back to the samequestions. There is only one answer. It's time to break oil'smonopoly in the transportation sector - and to put our trust in thefree market and American innovation.

View the original article here

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Infinyte I4: A Purely Electric Catamaran Cruiser

Infinyte I4 While solar-power electric hybrid vehicles are a proven success story on the roads, the time is ripe for the appearance of solar-electric watercraft. Already a pontoon boat – Loon – is available in the market. It is solar-electric powered and can seat eight passengers. Now a smaller one – the purely electric run, Infinyte I4 – is the new kid in the block. Plans for a bigger boat solar-electric type are also on the anvil.

With a similar looking bow and stern, the i4 boat does have a unique appearance, which as per claim is aiding and increasing the boat’s progress in the water. The boat is about 14 feet long and has twin 24 V motors. The motors are manufactured by Mercury Marine’s MotorGuide Division. The boat can be steered and controlled with a joystick. The boat weighs about 223 kg (710 lb).

The maximum speed it can achieve is 13 kph (8mph). It can run for approximately about 10 hours – which can vary with use and the kind of battery used. There is an onboard charger that can charge the battery at a pinch – say for running at home, but it can be otherwise charged from a traditional domestic 240 V outlet. There is a display panel to show battery status. It can execute a 360 degrees rotation and turn directions easily.

Running on electric power makes for zero carbon emission unlike the gasoline-fed combustion-engined traditional watercrafts. With absolutely no exhaust fumes or oil spills/slicks filled wake, the boat is definitely a great improvement with its silent performance. And its light weight makes it easy for transportation by towing or carrying on top.

Cost factor
Infinyte Marine’s i4 is priced around US $12,999. The company is based at Canada and has dealerships in six countries. It’s website, Infinyte Marine offers all the needed information should you be interested in going for the cute little silent and smart-looking eco-friendly hybrid boat.

Future plans
There are plans afoot to create a bigger-size, speedier solar-electric boat called i8. It will have roofs for housing the integrated solar panels. It can go at a clipping rate of 32 kph (20 mph) and the battery will be supported by a biodiesel generator. It can seat some 10 travelers and will measure about 7.6 meters (25feet).

The future looks bright for solar-electric water transport vehicles. This will be a definite improvement with their low noise level and zero-carbon emissions. Tourism, boating and pleasure boating will welcome these hybrid watercraft with open arms.

What do you think?

View the original article here

Friday, September 16, 2011

World's smallest electric motor made from a single molecule

ScienceDaily (Sep. 4, 2011) — The smallest electrical motor on the planet, at least according to Guinness World Records, is 200 nanometers. Granted, that's a pretty small motor -- after all, a single strand of human hair is 60,000 nanometers wide -- but that tiny mark is about to be shattered in a big way.

Chemists at Tufts University's School of Arts and Sciences have developed the world's first single molecule electric motor, a development that may potentially create a new class of devices that could be used in applications ranging from medicine to engineering.

In research published online Sept. 4 in Nature Nanotechnology, the Tufts team reports an electric motor that measures a mere 1 nanometer across, groundbreaking work considering that the current world record is a 200 nanometer motor. A single strand of human hair is about 60,000 nanometers wide.

According to E. Charles H. Sykes, Ph.D., associate professor of chemistry at Tufts and senior author on the paper, the team plans to submit the Tufts-built electric motor to Guinness World Records.

"There has been significant progress in the construction of molecular motors powered by light and by chemical reactions, but this is the first time that electrically-driven molecular motors have been demonstrated, despite a few theoretical proposals," says Sykes. "We have been able to show that you can provide electricity to a single molecule and get it to do something that is not just random."

Sykes and his colleagues were able to control a molecular motor with electricity by using a state of the art, low-temperature scanning tunneling microscope (LT-STM), one of about only 100 in the United States. The LT-STM uses electrons instead of light to "see" molecules.

The team used the metal tip on the microscope to provide an electrical charge to a butyl methyl sulfide molecule that had been placed on a conductive copper surface. This sulfur-containing molecule had carbon and hydrogen atoms radiating off to form what looked like two arms, with four carbons on one side and one on the other. These carbon chains were free to rotate around the sulfur-copper bond.

The team determined that by controlling the temperature of the molecule they could directly impact the rotation of the molecule. Temperatures around 5 Kelvin (K), or about minus 450 degrees Fahrenheit (ºF), proved to be the ideal to track the motor's motion. At this temperature, the Tufts researchers were able to track all of the rotations of the motor and analyze the data.

While there are foreseeable practical applications with this electric motor, breakthroughs would need to be made in the temperatures at which electric molecular motors operate. The motor spins much faster at higher temperatures, making it difficult to measure and control the rotation of the motor.

"Once we have a better grasp on the temperatures necessary to make these motors function, there could be real-world application in some sensing and medical devices which involve tiny pipes. Friction of the fluid against the pipe walls increases at these small scales, and covering the wall with motors could help drive fluids along," said Sykes. "Coupling molecular motion with electrical signals could also create miniature gears in nanoscale electrical circuits; these gears could be used in miniature delay lines, which are used in devices like cell phones."

The Changing Face of Chemistry

Students from the high school to the doctoral level played an integral role in the complex task of collecting and analyzing the movement of the tiny molecular motors.

"Involvement in this type of research can be an enlightening, and in some cases life changing, experience for students," said Sykes. "If we can get people interested in the sciences earlier, through projects like this, there is a greater chance we can impact the career they choose later in life."

As proof that gaining a scientific footing early can matter, one of the high school students involved in the research, Nikolai Klebanov, went on to enroll at Tufts; he is now a sophomore majoring in chemical engineering.

This work was supported by the National Science Foundation, the Beckman Foundation and the Research Corporation for Scientific Advancement.

Tufts University, located on three Massachusetts campuses in Boston, Medford/Somerville, and Grafton, and in Talloires, France, is recognized among the premier research universities in the United States. Tufts enjoys a global reputation for academic excellence and for the preparation of students as leaders in a wide range of professions. A growing number of innovative teaching and research initiatives span all campuses, and collaboration among the faculty and students in the undergraduate, graduate and professional programs across the university is widely encouraged.

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The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by Tufts University.

Journal Reference:

Heather L. Tierney, Colin J. Murphy, April D. Jewell, Ashleigh E. Baber, Erin V. Iski, Harout Y. Khodaverdian, Allister F. McGuire, Nikolai Klebanov, E. Charles H. Sykes. Experimental demonstration of a single-molecule electric motor. Nature Nanotechnology, 2011; DOI: 10.1038/NNANO.2011.142

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Natural Gas: Climate Friend or Enemy? Depends

Natural gas emits less CO2 than coal and fewer smog-causing pollutants. As a source of power generation, it helps smooth out the intermittent nature of renewables such as wind and solar. It appears to be plentiful, thanks to improved horizontal drilling technologies and “fracking” techniques that allow us to better exploit and monetize shale-gas reserves. In fact, the International Energy Agency has hailed the coming “golden age” of natural gas, while the wise folks at MIT see natural gas use worldwide as “likely to continue to expand under almost all circumstances.” Shale gas reserves are local, meaning natural gas relieves much of the angst regarding America’s energy security, or its current lack of it.

That’s the good news — and let’s be clear, that is truly good news. But it comes with some bad news as well that we simply can’t ignore.

Indeed, the list of items on the bad news side is just as long — maybe even longer — which makes me wonder whether this love affair we seem to be having with natural gas is justified. It’s a relationship that can’t end well over the long term, not on a planet that needs to end its dependence on fossil fuels — all forms of fossil fuel. Natural gas, increasingly coming from shale gas projects, is like smoking “light” or “mild” cigarettes as part of a strategy to stop smoking and lower the risk of getting lung cancer. It’s an illusion. As we know from studies, smoking light cigs only strengthens the addiction, it doesn’t reduce cancer risks, and it gives the smoker a false sense that they’re taking meaningful action to avoid a deadly disease.

So, what is so bad about natural gas? Used strategically to realize efficiencies or as a bridge to renewables, there’s not a heck of a lot wrong with natural gas. But with shale gas on the scene, natural gas is cheap and plentiful, meaning that it is being used less strategically and more generally as a fuel of choice. What were once called “smart gas” strategies are out the window. To use the smoking analogy again, natural gas was once thought of as a more expensive nicotine patch designed to gradually wean us from smoking. Now, it’s a lower-cost light cigarette that only encourages us to smoke more. As a result, we’re seeing a mad dash to gas, and because a greater portion of that gas is coming from shale projects, we should be concerned. Here’s why:

Shale gas projects are a serious threat to local drinking water, as concluded in a recent Duke University study. It found that methane levels were 17 times higher in water wells located within 1 kilometer of a shale-gas fracking site, adding weight to anecdotal evidence from folks living near shale-gas projects. The study also shined a light on the lack of research and regulation in this area, and how the industry’s “trust us” approach doesn’t provide the transparency needed to keep this emerging industry in check.There’s also big concerns about the chemical cocktails used during the hydraulic fracturing process. Do they leak into wells? Certainly, there’s the potential for accidents. A Chesapeake Energy shale gas well in Pennsylvania had a blowout in April that sent thousands of gallons of toxic fracking fluid into nearby farm fields and streams. Companies are not required to disclose what chemicals they use for fracking. Why not? Again, the trust-us approach doesn’t cut it and has failed us in the past.There are even concerns that the fracking process can trigger earthquakes. This is, in my view, an overblown concern but it adds to the public’s perception that fracking on a large scale is potentially dangerous.There is concern that fugitive methane emissions from shale-gas projects make this form of natural gas no better than coal from a GHG emissions perspective, as raised by Cornell University’s Robert Howarth in a recent study. This, of course, has been widely challenged by industry and others, such as MIT. Again, it’s tough to know for certain as the industry has not historically disclosed the data required to make a proper assessment. At this point, IMHO I think it’s fair to say that shale gas lies somewhere between conventional natural gas and coal and the outcome depends heavily on drilling and fracking practices. Also, I think we underestimate the short-lived climate impacts of stray methane emissions from shale-gas projects. If methane emissions aren’t a big issue, why is the U.N. Environment Program churning out reports preaching the need to crack down on tropospheric ozone, including methane, to slow down the global temperature increase and delay tipping points that could trigger runaway climate change?

I’d like to say at this point that many of the above issues can be addressed with technology and best practices, but without adequate industry transparency or regulation, and with environmental protection agencies seeing budget cuts across the continent, how can we assume industry will act in the best interests of the environment and citizens? There’s the added challenge that these projects are small and distributed — i.e. there’s a heck of a lot of them, making it difficult even under a stricter regulatory environment to monitor compliance. Furthermore, what happens when developing countries such as China begin their shale gas revolutions? Can we expect the highest of standards and most advanced technologies to be used there? Yes, shale-gas development can be made to be cleaner. That industry worldwide will aim for the highest bar is a big, dangerous assumption to make.

Here are some other reasons why shale gas is potentially a greater problem than solution:

Certainly, it’s great if plentiful, cheap natural gas is used instead of coal for power generation. The concern is if, in a post-Fukushima world, natural gas is chosen to fill the gap left behind in countries that have declared a moratorium on nuclear power generation or declared their intention to close down older nuclear plants. Likewise, it wouldn’t be good if solar, wind and other renewables are impacted by the dash to gas. Yes, natural gas generation is a good bedfellow with certain renewables, but the fear is that natural gas will hog the bed, steal the covers and overstay its welcome. It may bridge the transition to renewables but it could also delay it significantly, and time is something we can’t afford when it comes to keeping the worst effects of climate change in check. Nobuo Tanaka, executive director of the International Energy Agency, made this point recently when the agency issued its “golden age” of gas report. “An expansion of gas use alone is no panacea for climate change,” Tanaka warned. Absent a carbon tax with some bite, it’s unlikely industry or utilities will care much.One of my biggest concerns is how cheap gas — i.e. the impact of shale gas on natural gas prices — is spurring the production of dirtier oil, mainly from oil sands. It’s well known that natural gas is a key fuel input for oil sands mining, bitumen extraction and refining. It can represent more than half the cost of production, and in-situ projects that represent about half of all projects require tremendous amounts of steam, meaning tremendous amounts of natural gas. We’ve got this interesting scenario in which natural gas is consistently below $5 per million BTU and oil is consistently around or above $100 a barrel, creating a 20-to-1 spread. For perspective, the spread at the height of the 2008 oil sands boom was 13-1, so certainly the economics of producing dirty oil in an age of plentiful, cheap shale gas has improved significantly. The end result is a dirtier form of natural gas threatening to slow down the deployment of renewables while also driving greater production of a dirtier form of oil.

Again, this is why a carbon tax is so important. In B.C., for example, a $25 a tonne carbon tax is having a significant impact on natural gas costs by effectively adding a 25 per cent levy. “This sends quite a different price signal in terms of substitution,” say Don Roberts, who heads up the cleantech and renewables practice as CIBC World Markets. “At the end of the day it’s still the best policy to get that carbon tax.”

On a final note, I’d like to consider the land footprint of shale gas. Some people in the oil and gas sector take issue with the land footprint of wind turbines while ignoring the similar footprint that comes with shale gas development. Let’s compare the two. In the United States, there are roughly 20,000 installed wind turbines and roughly 20,000 shale-gas wells. Both forms of energy extraction require access roads, access to ideal sites, and connection to a main collector (transmission in the case of wind; pipelines in the case of shale gas). Over 25 years, the average shale gas well might produce 2 billion cubic feet of gas that, when used for power generation in a combined-cycle natural gas plant, produces about 285,000 megawatt-hours of electricity. Over 25 years, a 2.3-megawatt onshore wind turbine would produce about 150,000 megawatt-hours of electricity based on a 30 per cent capacity factor.

From this very rough calculation, it would seem that a shale gas well could result in roughly twice as much electricity production than a wind turbine over a 25-year period, but the question we need to ask is whether the additional energy is worth it for the footprint it occupies. A shale-gas well results in both upstream and downstream GHGs emissions; a wind turbine doesn’t. A shale-gas well poses a risk to local drinking water; a wind turbine doesn’t. A shale-gas well requires that a stew of toxic chemicals be injected underground at high pressure; a wind turbine doesn’t. A shale-gas well can pose local odour problems; a wind turbine doesn’t. A shale-gas well can leak bad stuff; a wind turbine can’t. A shale-gas well requires a large amount of water during drilling and fracking; a wind turbine doesn’t require water. I should point out that a wind-turbine site can produce energy practically forever, though the turbine will have to be replaced with a new one around the 25-year mark. Not so for shale gas — once a well is depleted it is of no more use, though its impact on the surrounding environment can be felt much longer.

Yes, wind turbines can kill birds and bats, and yes, some people don’t like the look of them and they can produce bothersome noises, but given the choice — a wind turbine within 1 kilometre of your home or a shale-gas well — which would you choose?

All of this isn’t to completely crap on natural gas and the many benefits it can offer. We need natural gas, and it will be an important part of the transition to an economy powered by renewables and other emission-free sources of electricity. It is, generally, cleaner than the other fossil fuels out there. But shale gas is making natural gas dirtier than it has been, just like the oil sands are making the world’s oil resources dirtier and less climate friendly. And if we depend on it too much, we risk taking a serious step backward by delaying our embrace of truly low-carbon and zero-emission energy sources. This will happen — guaranteed — if the market is left to its own devices.

Increased environmental regulation, requiring both transparency and best practices, and a carbon tax are what will keep natural gas a climate-friendly fuel. Left unchecked, it will become a climate enemy and our hope of keeping the global average temperature from exceeding 2 degrees C will be sunk.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wind Power Growth Rebounds 15% in H1 2011, Capacity Rises ~23%

The worldwide wind energy market has been rebounding strongly from a weak 2010 through the first half of this year, according to the World Wind Energy Association’s (WWEA) first half report for 2011. Some 18,405 megawatts (MW) of wind power came on-line in the first six months of 2011, a 15% year-to-year increase over first half 2010's 16,000MW, bringing worldwide wind power capacity to 215,000MW as of end June. Worldwide wind capacity rose 9.3% during 2011's first six months and by 22.9% when compared with the first six months of 2010.

The Top 5

The top five producers of wind power worldwide — China, the USA, Germany, Spain and India — continue to dominate the wind power market, accounting for 74% of global wind power capacity.

China remained the worldwide leader in wind power capacity with approximately 52 gigawatts (GW) installed, and it continued to dominate the worldwide wind power market for new wind turbines through the first six months of 2011. China added a record 8GW of wind power during 2011's first half, accounting for 43% of worldwide demand. That compares to the 50% of new wind power demand China accounted for in 2010.

The US added 2,252MW of wind power capacity in 1H 2011, some 90% more than it installed in a weak 1H 2010. Canadian wind power capacity also showed strong growth, installing 603MW. Wind power capacity rose most in Ontario, which enacted its ‘Green Energy Act.’

Germany continued to lead the European wind power market, which showed stronger growth in the first six months of 2011 than it did the previous year. Germany installed 766MW of wind power, bringing its total capacity to 27,981MW. Spain installed 484MW, bringing total installed capacity to 21,150MW, Italy installed 460MW to total 6,200MW, France installed 400MW to total 6,060MW, the UK installed 504MW to total 5,707MW, and Portugal installed 260MW to bring its total installed wind power capacity to 3,960MW.

Emerging Wind Power Markets

Venezuela, Honduras and Ethiopia joined the growing list of countries worldwide using wind energy to generate clean, renewable electrical power, bringing the the total number of countries producing wind power to 86. Wind power in the Dominican Republic increased from 0.2MW to 60.2MW with the installation of its first large-scale wind farm.

Emerging markets in Eastern Europe were the fastest growing wind power markets: Romania’s installed wind power capacity rose 10%, Poland’s t rose 22%, Croatia’s 28% and Estonia’s 32%.

Auguring well for the future of renewable energy development in their countries, Ecuador, Malaysia and Uganda enacted feed-in tariffs.

Full-year Outlook for 2011

Additional wind power capacity of 25,500MW is forecast to be installed by year-end 2011, according to the WWEA report, bringing new installations to 43,900 for the year as compared to 37,642MW for all of 2010. Total installed wind power capacity is expected to reach 240,500MW, accounting for nearly 3% of worldwide electricity demand.

“Although the deployment of the wind power worldwide is again speeding up, we still see relatively moderate growth rates, compared with previous years,” commented WWEA Secretary General Stefan Gsänger. “On the one hand, it is very encouraging that new countries are coming up. On the other hand, we need more support on the national as well as on the international level.

“We hope that especially the UN climate change conference in Durban will lead to better frameworks for wind energy mainly in developing countries. Amongst the industrialized countries, we expect that Japan will play an active and positive role in wind power in the foreseeable future and join soon the group of leading wind countries.”

View the original article here

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Storm of Anxiety Over Fresh Oil Batters the Gulf

In the Gulf, another maelstrom has hit. But the tropical storm Mother Nature has brewed is not the top concern on some resident’s minds. Instead they are worried about the threat of fresh oil sighted in the in the general vicinity of BP’s Macondo well.

The fact there is oil and sheen in the water now is irrefutable. After weeks of denial the Coast Guard has finally admitted it's there. But where it’s coming from and how much is bubbling up from the seabed is still very much in question. BP and the Coast Guard say there is no indication the oil sheen spotted recently—linked by some scientists to BP--is coming from a leak in the Deepwater Horizon well. But some speculate it could be coming from a crack in the seabed created by the explosion and three-month blowout that poured 170 million gallons of crude into the Gulf last year.

Bonnie Schumaker, a former NASA scientist and founder of On Wings of Care, has flown numerous times last month over the waters near the Deepwater Horizon and captured what appears to be slicks of oil and sheen stretching for miles earlier this week. She says she immediately reported her findings and coordinates to the Coast Guard and to research vessels in the area. The Coast Guard initially told her they sent out aircraft and boats to find the slicks but in most cases have come back empty. That, she says, is baffling.

“How can a girl in a little airplane can go out and find oil with her own eyes day after day and the Coast Guard can’t find it?” She estimates her most recent sighting of oil this week found a slick of oil ten miles long and four miles wide, about 15 miles from the Macondo well. See her video from a flight on August 30th.

In fact, we found so much oil out in the Macondo Prospect (near the site of the April 2010 explosion), that we have an 11-minute video of it that never covers the same area twice! Not since last summer have we seen this kind of expansive surface sheen. Metallic-gray and rainbow swirls stretched for miles, mixed with dark-brown stuff that resembled weathered crude more than sargassum weed. And there were those round-shaped 'globs' of oil again, here, there, and everywhere it seemed. We did not want to see this stuff anymore!

Bonnie Schumaker found oil slicks in Gulf this week Photos: Bonnie Schumaker

But what’s happening 40 miles out in the Gulf is not the only concern to those who make a living off the sea. Many are deeply worried about the BP’s oily impact to the fisheries close to shore. At the top of the list are the Louisiana shrimpers who troll the shallow waters that before the BP blowout were the most fertile shrimping grounds in the world.

That’s hard to say now. The all important white shrimp season opened a week ago and some fishermen say it too will be a disaster, perhaps worse than the brown shrimp season that ended in July and was a disappointment to many.

“It’s the worst I’ve ever seen by a long shot,” says Grand Isle’s Dean Blanchard, once the largest shrimp buyer on the coast. “The white shrimp are born right hear near the coast. They can’t make it through this oil. These are born to die conditions.”

Blanchard says fishermen continue to report dead dolphins in the area on a daily basis, something he says was unheard of in previous years. And on Thursday he took a trip to some oyster beds in nearby Barataria Bay that had been seeded with oyster spat to try to encourage them to come back to life. Instead they found death and devastation. “Everything was dead and the cages were full of oil. No one down here is being held accountable.”

Grand Isle Mayor David Carmadelle was on the same trip with an LSU scientist and confirmed the discovery. The discovery shocked the mayor. Carmadelle says Grand Isle’s beaches are clean, something disputed by some residents. A nearby beach at Ft. Fouchon remains closed due to the oil. But the mayor agrees something’s not right with the fisheries.

“The fishermen complain there’s no shrimp," he says. "They know something is wrong because they can’t catch anything.”

Dead dolphin found off Mississippi coast this week Photo: Lorrie Williams

But many fishermen are getting desperate. Here is an email I received Friday from Kindra Arnesen, who’s fishing family in the Buras/Venice area of Plaquemines Parish at the tip of the bayou has been severely impacted by the devastating impacts of this ongoing oil disaster.

There is oil in the Gulf of Mexico "Fresh OIL" we need help. The DWH incident crippled our fishermen & our fisheries, I have seen things I never saw before here off of South Plaquemines Parish. As this fresh oil spreads we wonder why is there nothing being done about it. If any of you can PLEASE HELP, save what’s left of the Northern Gulf.

Dean Blanchard says he has given up on getting help from BP or the government. He says his business lost at least $6 million due to impacts of the BP disaster, yet BP has paid him just $1 million so far. He’s had to lay off more than half of his employees and now is wondering if he just may have to shut down altogether.

“BP has turned by life upside down, and I don’t know what’s coming next. I may have to close down and go into the oil business because that seems to be the only thing left.”

Blanchard says his one hope is that a storm will stir everything up and blow it onto land. That’s about the only hope he sees to protect his faltering business—and the fisheries he depends on in the Gulf.

Everytime I talk to people like Dean I hope the news is better. But it isn't. A year ago, I blogged about a group of fishermen who joined victims of Hurricane Katrina and marched through the streets of the 9th Ward. They included Florida commercial fisherman Kathy Birren, who marched with her daughter holding a bright yellow hand-painted sign that said, “On the 5th day God created fish. In 2010 BP took them away.” This is what she told me a year ago:

"We’ve came here from Florida to help spread awareness that the oil disaster is continuing to cause damage to families all along the Gulf coast. They can’t just sweep this under the rug. The government has to stop lying.”

Today, it’s hard to imagine that some of these fishermen are in even worse shape. It will take years before science gives us answers about the environmental impacts and lawyers can come to terms with the economic toll from this disaster. And when that time comes, what will Gulf fishermen like Dean Blanchard and Kindra Arnesen be doing?

View the original article here

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The packaging directive are not met

Several environmental organizations have submitted a formal complaint with the European Environment Commissioner by what they see as serious irregularities in packaging data recycled Spain delivered to the European Union.

Recycling containers

Associations that have reported this fact are tothe Earth migos, ecologists in action, Ecologistes of GOB, Greenpeace, Catalunya and Fundación Global Nature. According to these environmental organizations the real figures are lower than that officially recycles our country.

Recycling of paper

Along with the complaint they claim to the Commissioner of the environment to open an investigation to determine whether there had been irregularities in these data.

They argue that most of these data come from government agencies really have no systems to have a reliable calculation of the amounts collected.

Truck collected waste

In addition could be including, calculation recycled packaging tons of other materials which do not fall within this classification such as paper and cardboard, resulting materials of incineration can not distinguish if really are packaging and even have including data goods recycled through the traditional Metalworkers.

Many other materials that are collected in specific containers for the recycling of packaging waste would not correspond to this type of material and on the other hand if they are counted in the figures for collected material. The data for this circumstance are around 2% in the case of the glass and up to 25% in light packaging. These materials are separated into recycling plants that can not be recycled for what it should not be counted.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

More Oil From Macondo?

Oil Spill From BP's Deepwater Horizon Macondo Field Disaster

The Macondo Prospect, where British Petroleum’s ill fated offshore drill rig exploded and sank last year killing eleven men is a reservoir of oil in the Mississippi Canyon area of the northern Gulf of Mexico about 40 miles off the Louisiana coast.

The rig was actually owned by Transocean, built by South Korean giant Hyundai and under lease to BP at the time of its catastrophic demise. In the high stakes world of oil poker, details of ownership and registry are kept deliberately muddied and overly complex, the better to avoid taxes, laws and other liability and responsibilities.

The prospect which BP bid on in 2008 was estimated to contain 50 million barrels of oil which sounds like quite a lot. Sold at current prices that amount of oil would bring bring in gross revenue of 5 billion dollars and that’s just the cost of the crude. Major oil companies also own the pipelines, refineries and the gas pumps where we go to fill our tanks and pick up a six pack so in addition to the profits at the well they make great chunks of money all the way downstream to our front door and beyond.

50 million barrels of oil is about what we use in this country every 60 hours. That’s right, we use about twenty million barrels every day. The eleven dead, the despoliation of 500 miles of the Gulf’s coast, the crippling of the fishing and tourist industries, the physical destruction of people and wildlife, the damage to their lives and their future well being was all about keeping us cruising the roads and cursing at bubble packaging for a long weekend.

A year ago the NOAA, the Coast Guard, the administration and, of course, BP was telling us that the oil was 70% gone and they were working very hard to make things right. I don’t have to crawl very far out on the limb to say that they were lying then and they continue to lie today.

In the world of business, they’ve grown so accustomed to lying that the truth is no longer necessary.

The oil, BP’s crude gate crasher, appears to be back. In addition to the continual beaching of tarballs from the missing oil at the roiled bottom of the Gulf, expected with the onset of another season of warming waters, tropical storms, and hurricane activity it appears that something is leaking large in the vicinity of the Deepwater Horizon well.

According to an article in Al Jazeera “The return of the BP disaster? “on Thursday, reporting on animal rescue organization Wings of Care and in another piece this morning “Oil Still Gushing From BP Well In Gulf,” September, the most active month of hurricane season is likely to begin uncovering the ugly truth.

It is entirely possible that the coalition of irresponsible and incompetent corporations who gave us the tragic deaths of eleven men and the worst oil spill in our history are no more capable of safely capping a well than they are of safely drilling one, transporting its products, or refining them. They are after all, to be found spilling, gushing, leaking, spraying and otherwise carelessly spewing crude oil all over the Earth.

The reports come at us every month, from the Gulf, Alaska, the North Sea, small towns in Texas, Colorado, Pennsylvania and from the Yellowstone River. There is no place on earth that these greaseheads will not despoil and are not actively and zealously engaged in destroying. Make a note that these are only the events that get reported or otherwise discovered.

Following the reports linked above, BP is already making noises about “natural oil seeps,” the expression being a large part of the literature that comprises their canned media response.

It’s likely that 60-70 percent of the oil from last year’s spill, rather than conveniently disappearing is laying on the bottom of the Northern Gulf mixed with toxic Corexit. Just laying in wait for a direct hit by something on the scale of last month’s Irene, to spread its filthy fingers all over the southern coast.

As for the current leaks being from natural seeps, I don’t know, but I don’t buy it. There are 4000 active oil and gas platforms in the Gulf and 27,000 that have been plugged and abandoned by actors like BP.

In addition to BP’s giant screw up in the Macondo prospect, the Deepwater Horizon disaster, that’s a lot of unnatural holes.

View the original article here

Friday, September 9, 2011

Need Rain? Try Lasers

Desperate people have tried everything from firing cannons into the sky to lacing clouds with silver iodide. Now researchers have attempted to make it rain with lasers.

On the banks of the Rhone River in 2009 and 2010, Swiss researchers fired ultrashort pulses of a powerful mobile laser into the sky 28 different times. The laser shots created nanometer-sized particles in the air. These particles then allowed water molecules to bind together, forming droplets and avoiding re-evaporation.

The researchers reported their results in the online journal Nature Communications.

The droplets were too small to fall as rain, perhaps because the laser just wasn't strong enough or did not hit enough material in the sky. But the scientists note that their technique might also be used to prevent rain, by creating more of the smaller water droplets that stay airborne. And the laser system apparently works in temperatures ranging from 2 degrees Celsius up to 36 degrees C, though the laser bursts become less effective as it gets warmer.

Of course, this finding is preliminary. But, given crippling drought in Texas and catastrophic rains in Vermont, controlling the weather--especially rain--remains an attractive prospect for a laser light show.

View the original article here

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Mitsubishi Building Green in the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor

The Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor is an ambitious project, and it’s no surprise that Japan wanted in. One of its companies slated to participate in construction projects is Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. MHI’s angle is the promotion of eco-friendly cities – which it calls “Smart Communities” – built from the ground up. MHI is currently conducting studies on economic feasibility along with India’s leading business conglomerate, the Tata Group.

The idea is to proceed with the infrastructure development project somewhere within the massive area between Delhi and Mumbai. MHI submitted its initial report at the end of 2010, which must have been favorable — companies in Gujarat in northwest India became local partners in the venture and accelerated it considerably. MHI will further assess the feasibility of constructing such eco-friendly cities in Japan at the request of the Ministry of Economy.

What will they build? Construction will include such projects as industrial parks, power plants, airports, ports, railways, roads, and other commercial facilities. Research will be conducted on energy conservation and energy management systems for factories, wastewater disposal systems (also for factories), energy storage systems, the construction and use of electric vehicles, and use of solar power. MHI will also look into reducing CO2 emissions. All told, the investment will total about $90 billion USD.

MHI will summarize its study results in March of 2012 — at which point Japan may or may not start building smart communities of its own.

View the original article here

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

NREL Data Set Shows Clouds’ Effect on Solar Power System in 1-Second Intervals

Photo credit: Saving Oahu's Solar LLC

The US Dept. of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has produced and made publicly available a data set that shows in greater than ever detail the effect of clouds passing over a solar PV power installation. The data set captures second-by-second over the course of one year the effects of clouds passing over 17 measurement stations near Hawaii’s International Airport on Oahu.

The extremely granular nature of the data set can provide utilities, solar PV system operators and project developers, researchers, forecasters and others empirical data in heretofore unobtainable detail on the effects clouds have on the power output and overall performance of solar PV installations. This can in turn enable them to construct models that can help them forecast electrical power output based on varying cloud conditions and help manage fluctuations in the flow of electricity.

‘What happens when clouds pass between the sun and a large solar PV installation?’ and ‘How much is lost in the effort to convert the sun’s photons into electrons for electricity?’ were questions that remain largely unanswered until recently, NREL points out in a press release. The information in the NREL data set can be used to predict probable PV power outputs at 1-second intervals for medium- and large-scale installations.

Smoothing out fluctuations in voltage are critical to ensuring stable, grid-quality flows of electricity. Solar PV system operators can stabilize electricity flows by storing electricity or by using infrastructure and software packages, according to NREL.

“Clouds can cause pretty significant jumps or ramps over a very short period of time,” NREL senior scientist David Renne noted, adding that as solar power becomes a bigger part of the energy mix, such jumps can cause fluctuations in the grid, which can cause surges, fluctuations, and headaches for the utility operator if unmitigated.

Researchers from NREL’s Solar Radiation Research Laboratory designed the equipment so that a global positioning satellite system can be used to provide concurrent 1-second measurements for each of the 17 stations, a degree of precision necessary as solar PV systems respond quickly to shadows, Renne explained.

Funded by the DoE in support of the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative (HCEI), the measurement system and data set enabled the NREL team “to set up a solar-monitoring network that simulates exactly how clouds would impact a large photovoltaic system,” that can be used to model solar PV systems’ output for installations as large as 30 megawatts (MW), Renne said.

“The time-synch data are unique. All 17 stations make a 1-second measurement at exactly the same time. This allows the array to ‘see’ clouds moving through and simulates how a PV system might behave. Each of the 17 measurement stations measure the solar energy in the sun’s visible spectrum that reaches a horizontal surface at ground level.”

In addition, very large arrays of solar PV panels smooth out fluctuations caused by cloud shadows to a greater degree than is the case for single panels of small rooftop arrays, the research team found.

The data was collected for the Oahu Solar Energy Study, the partners of which include HCEI, General Electric, the Hawaiian Electric Company and the Hawaiian National Energy Institute.

View the original article here