Monday, April 30, 2012

Solar-Powered Restaurant Aan Zee Rests Lightly in the Dunes in the Netherlands

Completed in 2011, Restaurant Aan Zee provides an outpost for beach-goers, kite-surfers and mountain bikers to the Oostvoorne area. The building also displays information about the Dutch countryside and provides bathrooms even to people who don’t frequent the restaurant.

The back portion of the building is anchored in the dunes with shipping containers, while the front half is a curving form with a wall of glass to take in the sights. A slatted wood rain screen tops the building to help shield the sun and weather, further aging over time to blend with the landscape. The roof is used as a base for the solar system and visitors can climb to the top of the spiraling watchtower.

The restaurant serves both lunch and dinner as well as coffee, tea and alcohol. Using energy efficient lighting and appliances, the restaurant needs little energy. What little used is provided via photovoltaics, solar hot water and a windmill. Geothermal wells provide energy efficient heating and cooling with the help of natural ventilation. Waste water is treated in a helofytenveld and rainwater is soaked up by the dunes — the building needs no sewage connection.

 Finally, the restaurant was constructed in a way that it can be easily dismantled and recycled if it ever needs to be removed.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Water Up with a BIBO Water Filter

It’s well known that bottled water is a demon (or favorite punching bag) of the green community. Plastic is filling up our environment and even taking over huge patches of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Additionally, shipping bottled water all across the world is, to say the least, a bit absurd. Unfortunately, while the water coming out of the tap in many places may be fine for drinking, in some places, you’re really better off with cleaner water.

There are different options for ensuring that you’re drinking clean water. One of the most obvious is a water filter and dispenser in your home. BIBO is one such company now offering a water dispenser for home, and its dispenser will heat or cool your water while it’s at it.

I think I first ran across BIBO last year when someone shared a “10 Bottled Water Facts” info graphic (created by the company). The company is only a year old — it was founded in 2011 and started offering its home water dispensers in June 2011 —  and is just a 4-person team right now.

The formation of the company and BIBO’s products seems to have come out of a desire to help the environment. Founder Jonathan Brown was actually a bottled water pioneer in the UK in the late 80s. After some years in that field, however, he realized the environmental damage being done by the industry. So, he went on to develop filtered mains water dispensers for the workplace by forming Connect Water Systems. Reportedly, Connect has helped 200,000 companies move away from bottled water. In 2011, Brown (and a few others) expanded into the home sector with BIBO.

BIBO’s website states: “Bottled water is becoming harder to justify. Not only is it environmentally unsound to ship water hundreds, or thousands, of miles. It’s also well known that polycarbonate bottles can leach chemicals into the water they carry.” Very true.

So, if you’re in the market for a good water filter/dispenser, you might want to check out BIBO’s offerings.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Will Apple Grow on Solar Power?

Apple’s image in terms of social responsibility and environmental friendliness is not as pristine as its reputation with geeks is because of reports on the conditions offered to factory workers in China and the company’s poor recycling record.

However, Venture Beat reports that the company’s new facilities report reveals its data center in Maiden, North Carolina will run on solar power.

The center was designed to be energy efficient, thanks to its white-cool roof, the use of outside air to cool the facility at night and power monitoring. Now it will receive a solar array to help the facility go partially off-grid. The solar panels will generate 42 million kWh of alternative energy per year, Apple said. The building has also been LEED Platinum certified.

Article by Antonio Pasolini, a Brazilian writer and video art curator based in London, UK. He holds a BA in journalism and an MA in film and television.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Wind Power Blows Strong in the UK

Wind power in the UK has reached the 6GW threshold. The landmark figure was reached by the Ormonde offshore wind farm, off the coast of Cumbria and with 120 megawatts (MW) operational, which is enough to power more than 67,000 homes.

“There’s a great feeling of pride throughout the industry that we’ve reached a record high of 6 gigawatts, and there’s a further 19.5GW of capacity under construction, consented, or in planning,” said Renewable UK‘s Chief Executive, Maria McCaffery. “The Government’s Renewable Energy Roadmap is calling for 31GW of onshore and offshore wind combined by 2020, and we’re confident that we can deliver this if we continue to get the right level of Government support”.

The news was announced at RenewableUK’s Annual Parliamentary Reception last Wednesday. To give a better idea of what 6GW represents in terms of power, the UK now has enough installed wind power energy to supply over 3.3 million homes.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Benefits of the Use of Alternative Sources of Energy

Did you know that the sources of alternative energy such as water, wind and Sun provide an endless supply of resources? Because these methods do not also have a negative impact on the environment, using them makes even more preferable because they help to reduce pollution. It is important to think about issues like these in our modern life. There are better ways to continue using all the technology we have created while working to keep our touch ecosystem.

It is even more affordable to use alternative energy sources, as the necessary equipment to make it function becomes more available, overcome one of the biggest obstacles standing in the way of use of cleaner energy. Do you know that you can even take advantage of incentives prosecutors from the Government that will give you cash return on your investment in alternative sources of energy?

It is important to use these sources of energy with caution, because they can be used for almost anything in our lives. Alternative energy now renewable technologies are able to meet all our demands for electricity. We use all and they rely heavily on electricity on a daily basis as a means of feeding all the gadgets that we use every day. The best way to meet the demand of consumers is to use alternative sources of energy to feed all the technology that is so prevalent in our daily lives.

Using these alternative sources also helps save money using renewable energy, which cost less in the long term, and the planet through the use of safer, cleaner energy. You will see their energy bills fall due to lack of power grid of energy that you need to use to feed his house. However, even with all the options, energy alternatives would not be enough to feed all in his house. But at least you can configure a backup system until that energy is renewed and available.

You can only change its alternative energy source to the power source you're using at the moment. However, some households may never not used all the energy they generate and will end with a surplus of unused energy. Some people use the amount of energy they need and then sell the excess energy to the company to make extra money. Would it not be better to get a check from the energy company, which would be having to write one?

All the money you will save on your energy bill can be used to buy other things. Economic studies have shown that the cost of gas and food are rising almost every day. Experts believe that this will continue for a while in the coming months and years. Its budget domestic would be really making a favor by saving money on your utility bill.

The energy that we use today comes more alternative sources of energy as our demands of increase in clean energy. Due to increased costs and a depletion of our limited supply of fossil fuels, it is more important to use alternative resources. There may be another type of energy source ideal where you live in the world. However, you can rest assured knowing that there are many researchers studying the sources of new and unique alternative energy that will help us to meet the demands of our high-tech lifestyle.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

An Introduction to Aternative Energy

What are fossil fuels?

There are essentially three sources of fossil fuel in the world but they are decreasing in each one of them. It is the most abundant coal; coal is widely used and cheapest extracted. As such, we have come to depend exceptionally on largely coal and while there are still a lot left of coal estimated that America remaining coal will hold the country over the next 200 years too 300 but in no way is a perfectly clean energy form.

The biggest problem is that coal is composed of carbon, as living beings and burning has to go through the production of carbon dioxide in the forms of energy. This carbon dioxide traps heat from the Earth and is an important factor that scientists believe is causing global warming. In a more positive note, however, scientists have created a more effective method for burning coal which traps 99% of impurities and harmful gases that are emitted.

Apart from coal strongly we have oil and natural gas are also in limited supply, and this is where the problem lies. Humanity is consuming energy more and more with each passing day and our fossil fuel resources are being depleted seriously due to the way in which we live. The answer to this problem seems to lie in alternative energies.

What is alternative energy?

Alternative energy are not fossil fuels, and does not deplete the resources of the Earth's fossil fuels all even more. Countries around the world are being pushed into investing money in research and production of alternative energy and many countries already have sources of natural energy, produce usable energy.

Wind energy.

One of the earliest forms used alternative was wind energy. Many countries have developed wind farms, both off shore and continental wind farms. Turbines are activated by the wind, creating a viable renewable energy source. The problem of wind power is that turbines is not near the housing districts by the noise created, albeit with more research and investments associated with wind technology wind turbines and energy will certainly continue to improve.

Solar energy.

Scholarships are now available to help pay for photovoltaic tiles that collects the heat from the Sun's rays and convert them into an exceptionally safe and renewable form of alternative energy in many countries. Used to create electricity or simply heat water or a heating system, solar energy is easily obtained and the technology is very affordable. With solar energy, consumers are assistance with the protection of the environment.


Biomass is still a relatively unused energy in many parts of the world, but is getting more and more money in the financing of the biomass. Biomass is the creation of energy using plant materials and is another source of clean, renewable energy. United States is a country that uses biomass to sizeable effect, being the largest source of renewable energy annually since the year 2000.

These are only a few alternative sources of energy that exist in the world, and increasingly more funding becoming available for production and research of these sources.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Alternative solutions of energy for the home

The new trend is currently for households installing alternative energy, solutions from wind turbines to produce electricity and solar cells from collection which include hydrogen cells. It's a new technology which continues in the 21st century and continue. There is much need of becoming energy independent and therefore, households need to rely less on energy derived from fossil fuels and be capable of producing alternative energy. The unstable Nations are generally those that supply of fossil fuels;

Therefore, there is the constant need to be outside and therefore, independent of this type of production. The fossil fuel industry is maintained by the Corporation, directors of the giant oil company interests and some of them are even involved in the conspiracy of Fund, thus creating a vicious cycle that can not give up relying on fossil fuels. Therefore, there is constant pressure on the fossil fuel industry and therefore, many alternative energy sources are overlooked in.

However, as indicated by many specialists in the field, there is need to develop the distributed generation of alternative energy sources. We need to restructure the electricity market and do more research on transmission, distribution infrastructure and diversify the existing means of market production. Energy suppliers can diversify their businesses gaining back lost revenue through the generation of micro-enterprises in the domestic energy.

Therefore, analysts UK have done some research and found that there are more and more people trying to adopt alternative energy sources to meet the growing demand for energy. This trend to adopt alternative energy sources is encouraged by the Government recommendation for the degradation of the environment; There is the desire to become energy independent, and this is encouraged at all costs. It is therefore possible to produce all the necessary energy in a home only using alternatives such as solar and wind energies combined energies. These solutions, solar panels and wind turbines, are likely to become the great novelty in the industry of suppliers of energy.

Alternative energy companies are presumption until now that traditional energy prices have remained at the same levels of some time ago, then it is possible for the generation of micro-enterprises come and establish their own prices. After all, if you are going to produce energy in the home, then through the solar panels and wind turbines, only consumed produces it. Therefore, this will make the very lucrative alternative market and therefore a competitor to traditional energy market.

Current analysis have pointed out that companies should establish techniques which promote the potential of alternative. By the opening of the market, success is more likely to be established. For example, the electricity companies in Britain have been investigate and discover the idea on how to facilitate the use of large-scale geothermal energy; Although these companies that geothermal energy could become the norm of energy in the future therefore, they were willing to invest in this idea. Through constant effort, one day, alternative energy sources will become the norm. Another analysis has pointed out that heating by solar energy can be profitable alternative to implement in the future. Although initially expensive install as a system, it would be profitable for the long term to use this alternative in the long term, because profits from the technology eventually outweigh the costs. Therefore, one should pay special attention before installing a system of this kind and make especially sure that they are really ready to take that step and not another.

Although solar power is still not profitable to install larger, for example in business scales, has been however one idea worth considering. There are a lot of fall to it however, due above all on a greater scale, should be changed a lot of plumbing systems for the implementation of the base of solar energy heating system. However, domestic individual users can reduce the costs of long term constantly saving money for invoices paid by the energy. Therefore, although for the installation of alternative energy prices remain high, the idea will surely catch the future.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Spain’s First Certified Passive House Cuts Energy Use by 90%

Josep Bunyesc’s home consists of a ground floor, first floor and a basement, where the architect has his office. The wooden shelter with solar panels on its facade is orientated to the south to capture free passive solar energy while protecting itself from hot Spanish summers.

The central patio creates a new internal southern facade, providing plenty of natural light, cross ventilation and views throughout the building interiors.

The construction was quick and utilized prefab OSB boards with 7.8 inch sheep’s wool insulation, and an external breathable surface to prevent condensation.

During the summer there is no need to open the double-glazed windows as a free cooling system with ducts and airshafts lowers the temps and provides enough breeze. Efficiently-built, low-energy, modern and very affordable, Josep Bunyesc’s passive shelter in Spain is a family home for life.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

South West of England to Create Marine Energy Park

The British Climate Change Minister Greg Barker named the South West of England as home for the UK’s first Marine Energy Park on a visit to Bristol today.

The South West Marine Energy Park will stretch from Bristol through to Cornwall and as far as the Isles of Scilly, which, to those of you (like me), who don’t live in the UK, looks like this:

From Bristol (right) to the Isles of Scilly (left)

“This is a real milestone for the marine industry and for the South West region in securing its place in renewables history as the first official marine energy park. The South West can build on its existing unique mix of renewable energy resource and home-grown academic, technical and industrial expertise,” Barker said.

The project will bring together the national and local government, along with Local Enterprise Partnerships, the Universities of Plymouth and Exeter, and members of industry including Cornwall’s Wave Hub. Their aim will be to speed up the progress of marine power development.

St Ives Cornwall

Because, in the UK, they have the potential to generate up to 27 gigawatts of power by 2050! That’s the equivalent of 8 coal-fired power stations, without the emissions.

“Marine power has huge potential in the UK not just in contributing to a greener electricity supply and cutting emissions, but in supporting thousands of jobs in a sector worth a possible £15bn to the economy to 2050,” said Barker.

The Leader of Plymouth City Council, Councillor Vivien Pengelly, said:

“The opportunity for growth and increased commercialisation in marine renewable energy, which underpins the ethos of the South West Marine Energy Park, represents a major opportunity to help Plymouth’s economy generate investment and jobs.

Plymouth has world – class research and development expertise in this field along with a strong marine business base and advanced manufacturing sector and looks forward to working closely with its private and public sector partners to make the South West Marine Energy Park a success.”

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Solar Leasing & Solar PPAs — Some of the More Hidden Benefits

Last time I wrote on the popularity of going solar through a service (i.e. solar leasing or going solar through a PPA), someone from Sunrun (a leading solar service company) got in touch with me and we had a nice back-and-forth about more of the details of going solar through Sunrun. I’ve been meaning to come back to writing a post about that since then.

Basically, the discussion centered around some of the more hidden benefits of going solar through solar leasing or PPAs — in particular, for those who can afford it, going with a prepaid solar service vs. owning a system.

One big benefit of going with a prepaid solar service is that companies like Sunrun are sometimes eligible for subsidies that individuals/households are not eligible for. So, the overall cut in cost can be greater than going solar on your own. Policies vary from location to location and for people in different tax situations, so, as always, it’s worth getting as much info as you can on different solar options before deciding on the option that’s best for you.

Another somewhat hidden benefit is that people going solar through a third party generally don’t have to worry about maintenance of the system because the third party will often cover maintenance and monitoring of the system for the entire 20-year contract of the lease or PPA.

Many inverters are not guaranteed for 20 years and will die before that time. Under a 20-year solar leasing or PPA contract, Sunrun would notice the inverter failure through monitoring of the system and would replace it without charging the homeowner an extra dime.

Some nice benefits. It’s no wonder about 70% of households going solar in California are now going solar through such third-party solar services.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Alternative Sources of Energy For Your Home

Research on alternative energy has led to the development of alternative energy sources of the art for the home. One of the advantages of the use of alternative energy is that it is a renewable resource that is draining our supply of coal and other fossil fuels. This advantage of renewable energy and alternative energy has many companies and people that are looking for ways to power.

Sometimes referred to as renewable resources, alternative energy does not need fossil fuel or even Division of the atom to occur. Called renewable because sources constantly taking place. Does not cause contamination of oil and gas causes. This type of energy is not really new. What's new is that now we categorized these forms of energy such as alternative energy.

The forms that can take energy alternatives are stacks of fuel, geothermal, wind, biomass, hydropower, solar energy and water as wave energy and tidal power.

Fuel as a kind of alternative energy cells is usually associated with electric cars and hybrid cars. Electrochemical devices produce energy through a chemical reaction. The main advantage of fuel cell technology is that the power is produced without the production of pollutants harmful. They are still very expensive to produce, however.

* Geothermal can be a powerful source of energy. It is ideal for small scale heat homes, businesses, and small industry. On one larger scale, geothermal extraction plants the heat of the Earth and used to create steam for power turbine engines.

* Wind turbines produce energy using the same principle as windmills. The modules are moved by the wind, and an axis of the blades rotate a generator that produces energy. This energy is stored in batteries. Wind is of course needed to run this type of alternative energy, so much more wind has better work. Sites where there is windy, as open farmland are good for wind turbines, or other locations that cannot be achieved by electric.

* Biomass is organic matter that can be converted into fuel. There are many types, such as waste of animals, crops and grain, timber and other by-products of mills and forests as well as aquatic plants. A type used the affair to burn to produce steam energy; otherwise, the matter becomes a gas or liquid.

* Solar is probably the best-known form of alternative energy. It is the use of heat from the Sun to the safe and efficient energy.

* Energy of water. Hydroelectric energy is the energy produced by dams. The movement of water produces turbines generate power instantly. The initial cost of a dam is very high, but after the power is free. Tidal power works in the same concept as prey. Turbines are placed directly in the water and the movement of the tides on them feeds the turbines. Wave energy uses the motion of waves in the same way.

To continue research into alternative energies, more alternative energy sources will be found. Perhaps one day we will be heat our houses transforming our waste into a usable energy source.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Alternative energy and alternative energy sources

The term Alternative Energy is generally used to indicate non-traditional energy systems which

do not use fossil fuels and have low environmental impact. There are many non-fossil fuel based energy systems either already in use or being evolved and developed to counter the harmful effects of increasing use of fossil fuels.

We shall briefly look at the major alternative energy systems.

Solar energy

Wind energy

Tidal (Wave) Power




Solar Power as Alternative Energy Source

Solar radiations cover a very wide spectrum of frequencies - from infrared through the visible to ultraviolet frequencies. The visible radiations give us light and the infrared radiations give us warmth.

From ancient times people have been using the solar radiation for heating - heating water and warming houses in winter. In recent years many developments have taken place; now apart from domestic hot water supply or space heating of large buildings, solar energy is being used to provide hot water and steam for industrial processes and even to supplement power generation in large thermal power stations.

Photovoltaic generation of electricity as an alternative energy source is a modern development. A photovoltaic (PV) cell is made of Silicon metal; it exhibits strong photovoltaic properties converting visible solar radiation into electricity.

Individual solar cells are small and give only a small amount of power. Now PV cells are assembled in different configurations as arrays and panels; these solar arrays and panels can be used for generating sufficient electricity for practical applications. Arrays or panels of solar cells are being used in remote and inaccessible communities to obtain clean power; they are being used to run cars, to supply power on satellites and space stations and even to supplement power generation in large power stations of hundreds of MW.

Since the year 2000 solar electric production has grown at an average rate of 40% per year and by 2007, the installed capacity is about 10.6 GW.

Wind Power as Alternative Energy Source

Wind energy for pumping water and grinding grains has been used since the medieval times. Wind energy is now mainly used for generation of electricity; wind mills drive turbines for generation of electricity which is connected into the grid of the local utility. Due to variability of wind speeds from time to time, generally wind energy supplies only a small proportion of the total utility load.

By the end of the last year, the total wind-powered generator-capacity worldwide was 94.1 GW contributing only 1% of world-wide electricity use. Wind power generation has increased by over 500% since 2000 and is expected to spiral upward.

Tidal Power as Alternative Energy Source

Tidal power utilizes the rise and fall in sea levels due to the tides. This alternative energy source had been realized by man long ago and in Europe tide mills had been in use for grinding grains over a thousand years ago. It is possible to utilize this energy for generating of electricity and efforts are on in many countries around the world to harness this energy.

Tidal energy, being derived directly from the interaction of the sun and the moon and the earth's rotation, is an inexhaustible alternative energy source. The only limitation is that it can be put to use only in select places around the world.

The two methods by which energy of the tides can be harnessed are:

The tidal stream system which will make use of moving water in much the same manner as wind energy being used by windmills; and

The barrage system which will use the difference in the height between the low and the high tide in an estuary.

Both these methods are being actively tried out in various places. Experts feel that tidal energy has a great potential as an alternative energy source. .

Biomass Power as Alternative Energy Source

Biomass refers to biological materials including trees, grass, agricultural and urban waste matter, etc. Biomass contains energy received from the sun. Chlorophyll in plants uses solar energy to convert carbon dioxide (from air) and water (from ground) into carbohydrates. When these carbohydrates are burnt they release carbon dioxide and water, and energy that had been trapped in it is released. This is as if the carbohydrates act as storage battery for solar energy - they hold the energy and release it at a later time when burnt as an effective alternative energy source in place of fossil fuels.

From time immemorial biomass has been burnt to recover sun's energy as heat. By using modern technology we can produce heat, steam and electricity from biomass more efficiently and cleanly; we can also convert it into liquid fuels or produce combustible gases from it.

In US alone, about 50 billion kWh of electricity (about 1.2% of total consumption), about four billion gallons of ethanol (about 2% of the liquid fuel used in vehicles) are produced from biomass. DOE believes that by 2030 about 20% of transportation fuel could be produced from biomass. There is obviously a vast potential for use of biomass the world over.

Geothermal Power as Alternative Energy Source

The most recent (1994) estimate of temperature at the core of earth is about 7500 deg. C. Energy obtained by tapping into the hot interior of the earth is called the geothermal energy. Geothermal energy is an alternative energy source for generation of electricity; it is also used for heating houses in cold countries, and for supplying process heat requirements.

Building a geothermal power station is expensive but the low operating costs and absence of carbon emission into atmosphere are two major benefits of this system.

Power plants based on geothermal energy fall into three types depending upon the method used:

Those plants that take steam directly from fractures/holes in the ground and drive turbines directly from this steam are called Dry steam plants.

In a Flash plant hot water, usually at more than 200 deg C, , is taken out of the ground and allowed to boil as it rises to the surface; steam is separated from it and run through turbines.

In binary plants, hot water taken from ground flows through heat exchangers, where it imparts heat to an organic fluid to boil it; this organic fluid runs through turbines driving them.

In all the three types, the remaining geothermal fluid and condensed steam are injected back into the hot rock crust to recycle.

A 1999 study shows that the worldwide geothermal electrical generation capacity using existing technologies is between 35,000 to 70,000 MW; using the new technologies it could be twice as much.

Nuclear Power as Alternative Energy Source

Popularly nuclear reaction is equated with atom bombs. However, controlled nuclear reaction is used as an alternative energy source for generation of electricity for the last 50 years. Nuclear reaction releases enormous energy which is used to raise steam as is done by burning oil or coal in conventional thermal power stations and this in turn is used to generate electricity. Today more than 50 countries are generating over 370 000 MW of electricity by using nuclear power reactors.

Constructing and maintaining nuclear power plants is expensive. Moreover they produce nuclear waste which is hazardous, and there is the potential for enormous nuclear disasters. The nuclear waste is highly toxic and can not be destroyed or recycled. Unless properly stored in a secure location it can create hazardous environment.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Energia Hdroelectric: in search of less ecological impact

We analyze the main ecological impacts derivations of hydroelectric dams and solutions that promise to overcome these problems in the future.

One of the oldest forms of energy is hydroelectric. Its use has been documented for centuries and is one of the most common forms of renewable energy. So common is its implementation in this regard, for example in EE.UU., the renewable energy sector gets hydropower 49% of its total production.

To qualify for hydroelectric power, require large amounts of water that fall, so the pressure exerted by water triggers the operation of turbines which - in turn - produce electricity..

Hydroelectric energy It is especially suitable for those areas that have very large amounts of water availability. Today, it constitutes 21 per cent of renewable energy sources.

Conventional hydropower generation methods require the use of dams which act as reservoirs of water to move the turbines and generators.

While the force of the water gives us an alternative more environmentally friendly than fossil fuels, the dams are expensive to build and generate a significant impact on the environment.

Change the course of the rivers may involve diverting the water from which many people depend on for drinking, irrigation of crops, livestock, etc.

This also implies flood large tracts of land (with their fields, natural habitats and even villages). And of course they also pose a risk to the ecosystem and the survival of fish and other aquatic animals.

To show all these points only enough with some examples. In our blogs we have on previous occasions brought news about the issues surrounding the construction of you dams or reservoirs. One of them, who took a certain international significance is the from the Belo Monte damin Brazil, where local Aboriginal groups were in a legal battle trying to preserve its ecosystem and natural resources on which they depend for their livelihood.

And without going so far in search of our example, not too long ago I contábamos the controversy raised here same in Spain before the adoption of the construction of the Reservoir Biscarrués and complaints from environmentalists groups regarding its impact on vast areas of great ecological value, many of them belonging to the Natura 2000 network.

Having said all that, it is now time to know what are the alternatives proposed to these problems.

In view of the many dangers that large reservoirs of water intended for the hydropower can pose, there is one growing urgency to get the same energy, but without the construction of dams. Fortunately, this urgency has given rise to attractive concepts that could well point to the abandonment of the construction of dams in the future.

Of these new alternatives of Hydroelectric energy without dams I discussed in detail in our next article where we will see what are the most promising projects in search of a sustainable hydropower.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Alternative Energy and Its Significance in Our Lives

Alternative energy means the production of energy or electricity by using any alternative source such as water, sun, heat etc. These alternative sources do not have any side effects on the environment but are helping humans to save their money. Only such sources of generating alternative energy are selected which may not damage the environment.

Significance of Alternative Energy

It has much significance. You can generate power with very low prices and do not have to pay expensive electricity bills anymore. Another significance, is that you can generate power at home. Whether you have read physics or not, you can still generate power by using alternative sources.

Sources of Alternative Energy

I. Solar Power

Solar power is obtained by converting sun light into electricity or hot water.

How does Alternative Energy produce power from it?

The cells which are made up of silicon are used for this purpose. When cells having silicon are exposed to sunlight, they automatically produce electricity. If you want to utilize by solar power, place cells on such places where they may receive maximum amount of sun light. Open roofs are the best places for replacing these cells. Cells will get excess amount of sun energy directly there.

II. Hydro Power

Hydro means water and hydro power means generation of power from water turbines.

How does Alternative Energy produce from it?

Small water turbines are made for generating hydro power. Water turbines are set into flowing stream of water. Then hydro power is automatically generated in the streams of water.

III. Wind Power

Wind power means generation of power by using wind.

How does Alternative Energy produce from it?

Special turbines are designed which can store wind power and are capable of generating wind power. Such turbines are set at the top of tall towers. Turbines on a tall tower generate power kinetically by using wind.

IV. Ethanol and Biodiesel

Ethanol is used as alternative of gasoline while biodiesel is an alternative fuel of petroleum diesel. They can be used in all such vehicles where gasoline, petroleum and diesel are used. They do not affect vehicles or their speed but help you to save your money by stop paying high prices of petroleum and diesel.

Reasons behind the use of Alternative Energy

There are several reasons which insisted people to search for alternative sources of energy. All countries of the world are facing problems like shortage of fuels and gases. Their shortage increased their prices. When there was no stability in the prices, people started looking for alternative sources of energy. The high prices of gases and fuels could not solve their shortage problem but lessen their demand.

People prefer to use alternative sources of energy now instead of using expensive fuels and gases. Another reason behind the use of alternative energy is that people can neither afford nor want to pay expensive charges of electricity. The prices of electricity are too unstable and keep on rising. Therefore, people prefer to use alternative sources now.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Electric power | the history of its discovery

The attempt to unravel what is electricity could be described as an adventure which, despite already having a long journey, far from completion.

The oldest records correspond to observations of the Greek philosopher Thales of Miletus (600 BC) with respect to property that presents the amber of attracting small objects to be rubbed. Amber is a vegetable resin fosilizada, from remains of conifers and other very old trees. It features generally yellowish tones, and the Greeks called her electron.

The first to use the term electric to nominate be rubbed in general varied materials that behave similarly to amber, was William Gilbert (1544-1603), physician to Queen Elizabeth I of England. His investigations were undertaken to separate the effects electric magnetic, which by then appeared
most useful for its application to navigation.

Both phenomena related, in appearance, and remained without explanation since ancient times. Traditionally, the movement of bodies as a partner to the vital impetus and the presence of a soul or Anima was interpreted.

In this context, it was thought that electrical phenomena and magnetic were able to grant this animation to inanimate objects through the communication of a sort of vital fluid. The attraction which aroused such phenomena, behind the illusion of understanding the phenomenon of life and eventually control nature, based on the knowledge of its laws.

To physics was organizing as a science and making progress in the definition of its methodology, its limits and possibilities, electricity has joined the theoretical body of fundamental concepts that allow interpreted the structure of matter and its changes.

The works of Gilbert are the first to attempt to tackle the understanding of a group of phenomena from a truly experimental methodology. Gilbert started by classifying materials into two groups: those that purchased electric State by rubbing, as amber, and those who did not.

He also advanced the determination that this effect was not, in principle, relationship with the increase in temperature, but with same rubbing.


At the beginning of the 18th century, two scientists, English Stephen Gray (1696-1736) and Jean Desaguliers (1683-1744), French found they could electrify a cork if they ran it through a metal wire to a previously rubbing glass tube. The phenomenon showed even if both Corps were separated.

They then performed other experiments that allowed them to raise that rubbing bodies appeared an "virtue" or "fluid" electric, it could be transmitted by some materials, which they called drivers.

A French scientist, François du Fay (1698-1739), discovered that two previously frotados glass repelían when approached them. To experiment with other materials, such as resin, was able to identify two types of electric States to those designated as vitreous fluid and resinous fluid, as provided to the load of glass or resin be rubbed with a silk cloth.

It was determined that two equal electric States repel, while individual States attract.

A few years later, Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) he performed similar experiments, but analyzed the results with special emphasis on that glass had acquired an electric State by its interaction with silk cloth.

He played the phenomenon such as the presence in the glass of an excess of what he called electric charge (q), which corresponds to a lack or defect of the same charge in silk. Then he called respectively positive and negative burden, names which are still used.

View the original article here

Friday, April 6, 2012

Energia hidroelectric without dams

1. Kinetic hydropower

Hydro Green Energy has developed a set of turbines that operate according to the principle of hydro-kinetics. These modular turbines can be download and upload with the help of a crane aboard, so it is easier to carry out peacekeeping operations and eliminate the need to dive below the surface of the water for purposes of control. A floating raft acts as a platform for any operation can be carried out. The capacity of each set of turbines is 250 kW.

This innovative for hydroelectric energy generation method that aquatic life is not altered, maintaining the balance in the ecosystem. Unlike conventional hydropower, does not need to build a dam to generate electricity because the only requirement is that water there is flowing.

2 Turbines FlipWing

Hydrovolts Seattle Inc. He launched the turbine called the FlipWing during 2010, in order to generate electricity without the use of dams. The important thing about this technology is that the turbine can be used to generate energy in the shallow waters, which serves as a solution for those areas where the bodies of water are not deep. The turbine is completely submerged and leaves are pushed by the current generating rotation.

This technology is believed to be capable of generating around 4 kW of power. The company is currently working on the construction of turbines of different sizes.

The FlipWing turbine can be used in water supply and irrigation channels, offering water sources areas little deep the opportunity to generate their own energy hydroelectric.

3. CARE Electric energy

Johann Hoffmann is a name that is synonymous with ecological inventions. Continuing its legacy of patented innovative concepts, Hoffmann had developed CARE Electric energy, a turbine that generates electricity while protecting marine life and ensures the passage of small boats.

The system is suspended in the middle of the bodies of water flowing, while the leaves of the turbine revolve by water flow and pressure that builds up behind the installation. The system generates up to 90 per cent of the total capacity of the generator, which is substantially higher than conventional systems.

Unlike conventional ones, the system can work year-round to generate a good supply of electricity. What is most impressive, however, is that the Electric CARE system allows the passage of fish, and small boats making it easier to maintain the ecological balance and giving way to transport and trade.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Are Lithium Ion BatteriesSustainable to the Environment? -(II)

In our previous article, we spoke about the importance of recycling the valuable batteries, but while doing so, various costs are involved and it is observed that the cost of logistics is higher than the cost of recovering the scrap. But aren?t the social and environmental factors important, while recycling the battery? Lets read on to find out how Lithium Ion batteries are vital, considering their recyclable nature and find out if any countries are sincerely paying heed to the recycling of batteries?

What is the process of recycling old batteries?
Old batteries are shredded with the help of hammer mill, breaking out the components- aluminum, cooper, steel and separating them easily. Larger batteries that might still hold a charge are cryogenically frozen with liquid nitrogen before being hammered and shredded; at -325 degrees Fahrenheit, the reactivity of the cells is reduced to zero. For extracting lithium, the battery chambers are flooded and dissolved into lithium salts, which are filtered out and used to produce lithium carbonate. The remaining sludge is processed to recover cobalt, which is used to make battery electrodes. About 95 percent of the process is completely automated.

The significance of metals used in Lithium Ion batteries: -

Cobalt is very important to human life and health, as Vitamin B-12 contains cobalt. Besides, cobalt is used in various decorative arts-ceramics, pottery and industrial applications- production of jet engines and gas turbine engines for energy generation.

Copper is used in building construction, power generation and transmission, electronic product manufacturing, and the production of industrial machinery and transportation vehicles.
Nickel is mainly used to produce stainless steel in order to result into a stable, ductile, corrosion resistant and an austenitic structure. It is largely used in domestic kitchen equipment and utensils.
Iron ore largely contributes to the production of steel. Steel is used for construction, automobiles, and other forms of transportation such as trucks, trains and train tracks.

Slowly, the importance of these batteries is coming to light and many countries have become aware of the effectiveness of the recyclable batteries. There are many companies- Umicore, Toxco, working in the recycling sectors of Lithium Ion batteries.

The European Union has already restored to protection measures concerning battery recycling, as they have passed a bbattery recycling law and the vendors are required to reclaim for recycling a minimum of 25% of the batteries they manufacture and sell. Taking into account, the protection measures concerning battery recycling by European Union, how many more countries would go ahead and take the battery recycling initiative in their stride?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Are Lithium Ion Batteries Sustainable to the Environment? (I)

Lithium Ion batteries are used on a large scale to power portable electronics and implanted medical devices mainly ? cell phones, pacemakers, watches along with numerous other devices, such as MP3 players, calculators, remote car locks, battery backup systems in computers etc. The use of Smart grid technology for efficient electricity generation has been facilitated with the arrival of Lithium Ion (Li-ion) batteries as Li-ion cells can now be used to power the house with clean electricity, during days when energy is not being generated. In addition, considering the rising pollution levels, electric vehicles are now being designed with the help of these cells. These electric vehicles are truly "green", both emission-free in operation and sustainable in design as they work on batteries that can be recycled.

According to the experts, Lithium Ion batteries have been categorized as non-hazardous waste and are safe for disposal in the normal municipal waste stream. In comparison with other types of batteries that include toxic metals such as cadmium, the metals in lithium ion batteries - cobalt, copper, nickel and iron - are considered safe for landfills or incinerators.

However, dumping Lithium Ion batteries is a waste of valuable metals, as they can be replenished and reused. The researchers estimate that around 8,000 and 9,000 tons of cobalt is used in the manufacture of lithium ion batteries each year. Similarly other important metals (copper, nickel and iron) also contribute to the production of lithium ion batteries These metals found in Lithium Ion batteries are extremely significant, and its sustainable use and re-use is essential.

However, it still seems difficult to manage the battery waste because the scrap value of batteries doesn't amount to much, but in contrast the cost of collecting, sorting and shipping used batteries to a recycler exceeds the scrap value, so batteries tend to be thrown away. Sadly, the market does not consider the social cost of disposal, nor does it recycle precious metals such as cobalt, having a much lower economic and environmental cost than mining raw materials.

Shouldn't social and environmental factors be put ahead while recycling batteries, rather than giving undue importance to the costing of logistics?

Read further to know how Lithium Ion batteries are vital, considering their recyclable nature and find out if any countries are sincerely paying heed to the recycling of batteries?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Federal Government Funding for Weatherization Program Requires More Skilled Workers: Begin Your Career with AIRE

The United States' federal government is making many significant steps into recovering from the Great Recession and moving towards a clean energy economy. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was signed last year in order to jump-start our economy and create jobs. It allocated $5 billion to the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP).

With low-income families in mind, the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) enables families to reduce their energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient. Funds are used to improve the energy performance of homes of needy families using the most advanced technologies and testing protocols available in the housing industry.

The more money the federal government gives to the movement of weatherizing homes, the more skilled workers are needed. Specifically, the Recovery Act gave $29 million for weatherization training centers across America. The American Institute of Renewable Energy (AIRE) is an on-site weatherization training institute that offers BPI certification. Certifications such as this allow entrance to the many career paths of weatherization. Training is very important because one must have the knowledge of the advanced technologies and testing protocols to improving the energy efficiency of homes.

In many states throughout the country, apprenticeship programs give workers the knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform the energy audits correctly. In North Carolina, Kevin Scott, a technical education and training coordinator, affirms that training in weatherization is crucial to making the United States a more environmentally friendly country while simultaneously saving needy families money during the Great Recession.

If he stays in weatherization, he's going to be an asset there, but if he decides not to stay, he's going to have all these concepts and all these skills from weatherization to foster the green movement further,? Scott said referring to an apprentice of his. ?There are jobs that are in demand. The things they are learning are premium. Any builders or contractors in the private sector that want to build green buildings, they love to get a hold of people in weatherization.?

Thorough training in weatherization is required for most employers to even consider a worker as having the ability to successfully carry out basic responsibilities. The American Institute of Renewable Energy (AIRE) offers a Weatherization Training Program to prepare energy auditing professionals to conduct a comprehensive inspection and diagnostic analysis of a house using state-of-the-art diagnostic tools.

One of the duties energy auditors must know how to do is to detect if a home builder did not install insulation batting correctly. A ?blower door?, a new technological device used to measure leakage of warm air, is used to conduct such tests. By attending a BPI weatherization training course at AIRE, workers entering the weatherization industry will have the know-how to using these new tools.

The American Institute of Renewable Energy (AIRE) is a state-of-the-art training facility located in Southern California and offers the best instructors for those wanting to receive BPI weatherization training. Money from the federal government is flowing into the weatherization sector allowing for homes to become energy efficient, saving money for low-income while simultaneously creating the skilled workforce of the 21st clean energy economy.

Monday, April 2, 2012

10 Huge German Solar Energy Myths Bjørn Lomborg is Trumpeting

No doubt, you’ve heard about Germany’s likely decision to quickly and severely cut its solar PV feed-in tariff policy, a world-leading solar policy that has made Germany a solar power hero of sorts. A friend recently shared a story by Bjørn Lomborg on these cuts with me and asked me for my opinion. It’s taken me a few days to get to it because Lomborg’s piece is so full of myths and lies, but before I get to debunking Lomborg’s claims, let’s have a little context.

Lomborg is infamous for denying the need for clean energy action to stop human-caused global warming, and for claiming that scientists’ concerns about global warming are overblown.

Lomborg has flipped and flopped a bit in the past few years, but he has stuck to his odd idea that deploying clean energy now isn’t the best way of responding to global warming (again, going against a large consensus on the matter by experts in the field).

Unfortunately, for Lomborg, the Danish government recently announced that it was cutting $1.6 million in funding for his “Copenhagen Consensus Center” — “It’s been very strange that particular researchers have received special treatment due to ideology. We’re going to run fiscal policy differently,” said Ida Auken of the Socialist People’s Party at the time.

Now, onto the matter of the day, Lomborg’s recent claims (read: myths and lies) about solar energy in the midst of Germany’s move to scale back its solar PV subsidy policy….

There are a handful of reasons why Germany is cutting its solar feed-in tariff policy so quickly and dramatically. As Susan noted the other day, though, the big one is that it cuts into rich and influential utility companies’ bottom lines. It’s also related to the extremely fast and unpredicted drop in the cost of solar PV panels, but mostly because of the effect that is having on the utilities.

“New solar installations of a record 7.5 GW in 2011, far outpacing the country’s 2.5 to 3.5 GW plans, have cut into the business model of German utilities,” as Susan notes.

“Increasing the amount of solar power on the grid has actually lowered peak electricity prices (How the merit order effect works) but it has generated a backlash among German utilities, who are having their bottom line hurt by solar competition….”

But, his has already been covered in more depth (a few times here on CleanTechnica) so let’s just get on to the Lomborg myths.

Note: because I’d rather not drill the myths into your head, I’m leading with the most important (accurate) point related to each myth.

1. Solar PV reduces the price of electricity (or keeps it lower than it would be otherwise). Lomborg makes the claim that Germany’s increase in solar PV is going to result in a massive spike in electricity bills.

First of all, we’ve written on the documented evidence that solar PV reduces electricity bills, since it produces the most electricity at peak demand when baseload power is already stretched and producing new electricity costs the most. (Aside from Susan’s piece from this week linked above, I wrote about how solar PV reduces the price of electricity on February 9th and John Farrell posted a piece on it again on February 13th — I don’t think Lomborg caught either of those.)

The same thing happens with wind power, which is even cheaper than solar today, as I’ve documented here. (Note, again, that Lomborg isn’t a fan of wind energy either — basically, he’s just not a fan of deploying clean energy.)

Now, as implied above, utility companies’ inability to charge more than a pretty penny for peak electricity (since homes are now providing it themselves) might very well be hurting their profits. But should energy policy be about making sure traditional, rich utility companies make a hefty profit, or should it be about what’s best for the citizenry? (Tough one, I know… if you’re a politician.)

2. Solar power is already cheaper than fossil fuels and nuclear. Solar’s levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) may not be, and if that’s the only thing that matters to Lomborg, his claim that solar is more expensive than coal, natural gas, or nuclear, might be right. However, if you look at a couple of important factors, solar is already cheaper.

First, I know folks like Lomborg don’t like to do this, but if you take the true cost of all energy sources into account (including health costs not included in the LCOE), solar is already cost-competitive (and subsidies to support solar adjust for failures in the market that leave out those important externalities).

Furthermore, if people actually evaluated the price of solar based on the true lifespan of solar power systems, the situation gets even better. If you do this and even continue to leave out externalities like health costs, solar is already cost-competitive in many or most regions.

But we’re not done yet! As discussed on our solar energy page, the projected cost of solar in a few years is already lower than coal and nuclear at that time. And the important but often overlooked point here is that it takes years to get a new coal or nuclear power plant up and running. So, by the time you had a new plant up and running, the electricity from it would already be more expensive than the projected price of solar at that time (and note that solar prices have been falling faster than anyone predicted in previous years). Here are two images and a video on this matter from our Solar Power page (linked above):

3. Solar doesn’t work at night (for the most part) — who cares?! Lomborg focuses a little on solar not working at night (solar PV, that is). Yes, solar doesn’t produce electricity at night, and the water doesn’t come out of the shower head when I turn the shower off — no problem. Wind is often more abundant at night, so mixing wind and solar works well (which Germany and anyplace with much clean energy does). Additionally, as noted above, peak demand isn’t at night, and what solar is most useful for (at the moment) is covering peak demand. Aside from wind, there are many other ways to fill in at night when needed, but the bottom line is that diversity is key, and no one is ever going to try power a country 100% from solar (at least not in the near future), so this is really a completely moot point.

4. Solar power from Germany is sometimes exported and electricity from other power sources is sometimes imported. Lomborg makes a fuss about power from other countries sometimes needing to be imported when solar power production is low. This need is not unique to solar, though, and isn’t really an issue. As I noted about a month ago, Germany’s abundant solar power helped to save France’s butt when it got really cold in France and nuclear power production dipped. The key, again, is a good diversity of energy sources, a good grid, and good planning. Solar is actually very flexible, one of its strengths, unlike nuclear and coal baseload power that takes ages to start up (sometimes days) and can actually really “get in the way” as a result of that, as the article linked above notes. Solar’s intermittency is not a problem at this level of integration and it’s not likely to be any time soon (if ever). But why not knock a potential weakness while we have the chance — right, Lomborg?

5. Solar PV drives electricity bills down. Again, Lomborg comes back to the claim that solar is going to wildly drive up consumer electricity bills. The key to spreading a myth is pounding it into you head, you know? As described above, solar PV drives down the price of electricity. In the medium- to long-long run, solar installed today is clearly a cost-effective solution to new power production. And, of course, if you put solar on your home, the better off you are!

6. The cost of global warming inaction is MUCH greater than the cost of strong global warming action now. As noted the other day, a new study by former Microsoft executive Nathan Myhrvold and climate scientist Ken Caldeira finds that we need a 100% shift to truly clean energy now in order to avert serious climate consequences in the second half of this century (the climate consequences of the coming decades from previous emissions are basically already locked into place).

Bill Gates and U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu emphasized basically the same thing this week at the ARPA-E 2012 summit.

Perhaps more importantly, for countering Lomborg’s claim that the cost of global warming action and clean energy deployment today is too expensive for us (that it’s more expensive than not acting), Yale economist has shown that the cost of climate inaction is MUCH greater than the cost of action. Here’s a chart on his findings:

Others have come to the same finding. Lomborg’s claims to the contrary, without any supporting evidence, are just plain untrue.

6.5. Clean energy deployment today is a MUST in order to address global warming. Woops, I jumped the gun a bit. Debunking Lomborg’s claim that “focus first on increasing research and development to make green-energy technology cheaper and more competitive,” much of what was included in the point above is again relevant. We need action now, not in 10 years. However, even beyond that, this R&D to cut costs, not deployment, is a false choice. Firstly, deployment is one of the best ways to get costs down. Solar prices dropped off a cliff in the last year, and have for years, largely due to increased demand and deployment. This creates better economies of scale and also stimulates private sector innovation. Furthermore, we don’t need one or the other, but both. We need continued R&D, but certainly not at the expense of extremely effective policies stimulating clean energy installation around the world.

7. Germany’s solar policy has been a wild success. One of the most ridiculous claims Lomborg makes, perhaps, is that “Germany’s experiment with subsidizing inefficient solar technology has failed.” If anything, the policy has been so successful that it may need a bit of restructuring. Again, as Susan noted: “New solar installations of a record 7.5 GW in 2011, far outpacing the country’s 2.5 to 3.5 GW plans.” There’s a reason why countries around the world have gone the same route as Germany — the policy has been a wild success.

8. Today, we should try to reduce price of solar PV, first and foremost, with rapid deployment. Woops, I jumped the gun again. The main summary of why deployment is critical to further reducing the price of solar, not just R&D, is above. Basically, we’ve got the technologies to the point we need to produce them at a cost-competitive level, and the best way to further bring down the costs is with deployment. This is the route Google has now gone, and this is the route advised by studies and analysts. Of course, as stated multiple times above, not ignoring R&D, but not ignoring the potential from deployment either.

9. Solar produces green jobs. Lomborg uses the following quote as an absurd scare tactic: “many ‘green jobs’ are being exported to China, meaning that Europeans subsidize Chinese jobs.” Yikes, China is getting jobs out of a German solar energy boom, oh no! The fact of the matter is, this fast-growing solar industry is creating jobs around the world. The U.S. now has over 100,000 jobs from the solar energy industry. Germany has even more. The EU has over 1 million jobs in the clean energy arena. One of the really nice things about solar is that it creates a ton of jobs for local, small business. Solar installation and maintenance is, surely, giving Germany a huge jobs boost. Killing solar policies might take away some Chinese jobs (if that’s your main aim… and why should it be?), but it will also take away good jobs for Germans.

10. Germany’s solar energy growth is having a tremendous, positive impact on CO2 emissions. It’s so off point, I almost don’t even want to share this quote from Lomborg, but for the sake of debunking it, here it is: “the actual effect of extra solar panels in Germany leads to no CO2 reductions, because total emissions are already capped…. Germans simply allow other parts of the EU to emit more CO2.” How are you going to cut CO2 emissions if you don’t deploy clean energy?! Seriously, I think this claim takes the cake. Yes, policies are in place that require cutting emissions, and solar PV in Germany helps to hit those targets. Without solar in Germany, that would certainly be harder, and hey, it might not even happen. But Lomborg seems to think that it magically happens without doing anything and, so, doing something is counterproductive. Got that? Furthermore, there’s a huge push in the EU now to considerably raise its emissions reductions target (from 20% by 2020 to 30% by 2020), something that a recent study found would save the EU money. Certainly, such an improved target wouldn’t be possible, let alone talked about, if countries like Germany hadn’t aggressively reduced emissions ahead of schedule!

All in all, Lomborg tries to scare the reader (probably successfully in most cases) with big number that have no context and gross claims that the average reader wouldn’t know are just plain false. It’s a disservice to society, a disservice to Germany, and a disservice to generations to come that might have to live with the consequences if Lomborg (and friends) influence enough people.

To reiterate, as Giles Parkinson of REneweconomy writes, the German solar PV subsidy cut is “not so much because of the problems of trying to match a tariff rate with the plunging costs of solar, or the potential cost of consumers, but because solar PV is starting to create a large hole in the business models of the conventional power industry.”

Furthermore, “prices in peak power periods in the middle of the afternoon on sunny days are running lower than base power prices of 2am.” (In other words, electricity is now cheaper when it has traditionally been least expensive than it is when it should be least expensive.)

And: “The merit order impact was detailed in a recent study by IZES, which found that solar power has reduced the price of electricity on the EPEX exchange by up to 40 percent in the early afternoon when the most solar power is generated. This causes massive problems for generators of conventional power, who rely on increases in peak power prices to deliver their profit margins.”

Some quick details on the German solar subsidy cuts from James Montgomery of Renewable Energy World: “The newly proposed subsidies cut the FiT levels by up to 30 percent, limit the payback on electricity produced, and eliminate a self-consumption bonus. They also take effect on Jan. 2013 but apply to everything installed by March 9, not April 1 as many had thought. (The previous FiT structure would have cut the levels by another 15 percent in July.)”

View the original article here

Sunday, April 1, 2012

“Pimp My Elevator” Retrofit Turns Clunkers into Energy Savers

Forget about turning your car into a rolling DJ booth, the Thyssen Krupp Americas Elevator company has just launched the vertical version of the MTV hit show from a while back, “Pimp my Ride.” The company is offering a new elevator retrofit package, which transforms an old clunker into a smoother, faster, high tech ride that collects and recycles the energy it creates from friction while braking.

Coolness factor aside, building retrofits like this could play a significant role in President Obama’s Better Buildings Initiative, which kicked off last year. The initiative seeks to “mine” buildings as a significant new source of energy. According to the Department of Energy, buildings used about 40% of the energy in the U.S. economy, costing more than $400 billion a year. The Better Buildings Initiative aims to make a dent in that with a goal of 20 percent savings for commercial and industrial buildings by 2020. In a way, that’s like discovering a whole new oil patch.

Planning more efficiency into new construction is part of the solution, but much of the focus is on energy efficiency upgrades for existing buildings. Last December, the President announced a $4 billion package for energy efficiency upgrades in federal and private sector buildings.

To cite just one iconic example of the energy-mining potential in building retrofits, the Empire State Building in New York City is in the final stages of a retrofit that earned it a LEED Gold rating. The initial, $13 million phase involved upgrading thousands of windows and the steam heat system, yielding a savings of $4.4 million per year for a quick payback on the investment. In the next phase, the Otis elevator company is upgrading the building’s 68 elevators. Like ThyssenKrupp, Otis’s upgrade package also includes regenerative braking.

ThyssenKrupp’s system saves energy in two ways. The regenerative system harvests the energy from braking, of which elevators do a lot. According to ThyssenKrupp’s promotional materials, a conventional elevator machinery can lose more than 30 percent of its energy in the form of waste heat. Tricked out with a new retrofit, the loss is only about five percent. The rest gets shunted back into the building’s electrical system to reduce its demand on the grid.

Regenerative energy capture is becoming common in systems that are characterized by stop-and-go motion, whether laterally or vertically. That includes delivery vehicles, commuter rail lines, and shipping cranes.

The second part of the savings is a direct consequence of the first. In a conventional elevator system, excess heat collects in the machine room, which then requires air conditioning to keep the machinery from overheating. That doesn’t apply in a regenerative system, since most of the heat is captured and put to use elsewhere in the building.

The trick behind the system is a gearless technology based around a permanent magnet AC motor. According to the company, a gearless machine operating at less than 240 rpm can reach the same speed as a geared machine at 1,800 rpm.

For additional savings, the motor does not consume energy unless the elevator is actually in use, and the retrofit can include high efficiency LED lighting in the cab.

Only a building manager could appreciate some of the other aspects of a gearless system. It takes up less space in the machine room, eliminates oil and carbon dust, and significantly reduces noise.

As far as the passengers go, when you step into a retrofitted elevator ThyssenKrupp claims you will experience less vertical vibration, smoother stops and starts, a more precise match between the floor of the elevator and each floor of the building, and of course, a faster ride.