Archive for April 15th, 2009

Sustainability News Headlines – 4/15/2009
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Florida Planning Solar-Powered City

Florida Planning Solar-Powered City

In the past couple of years, there have been quite a few plans unveiled around the world for fully sustainable cities and communities that run on a combination of renewable energies, but a new plan for a city in Florida would be the very first completely solar-powered city.

Florida is known for its sunny weather and solar projects have been successful there, so it makes sense that the state would stick to what it knows works. Utility Florida Power & Light is teaming up with Kitson & Partners to develop the 17,000-acre community called Babcock Ranch that will be near Fort Myers. The entire community will run off of a $300 million, 75 MW solar-powered generator.

The city will have a smart grid that will manage the energy used and generated and residents will have smart home features that allow them to monitor and control their energy use. Electric cars will have access to charging stations throughout the city and the street lamps will be solar powered too.

If this sounds like somewhere you’d like to live, you won’t have to wait too long to move. Construction on the solar facility begins later this year and the city center will follow next year. The city will eventually include 19,500 homes, 6 million square feet of retail and light industrial space and 8,000 acres of green space. Beyond all the eco-friendly features of the new community, it also promises 20,000 permanent jobs. It sounds too good to be true, but I hope it isn’t.

via Inhabitat


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A $5 solar stove for rural poor, paid for by polluters

It looks so simple, and that’s the key innovation.

The Kyoto Box consists of two cardboard boxes, one inside the other. The inner box is painted black to absorb sunlight, and the heat is trapped with a transparent acrylic lid. Captured solar energy heats up the air in the box enough to boil food and water and bake, but the stove is not powerful enough to fry food.

A prototype of the award-winning Kyoto Box solar cooker.

(Credit: Kyoto Energy)

The invention received the $75,000 FT Climate Change Challenge award last week. The competition, run by Forum for the Future with The Financial Times and Hewlett-Packard, had nearly 300 entries, which were judged on their contribution to tackling climate change.

“It feels good. It was the only finalist that was a solution for developing countries,” Kyoto Energy CEO Jan Bohmer, a Norwegian-born entrepreneur based in Kenya, told CNET News during a call on a crackling phone line from Nairobi.

The invention was inspired by the 240-year-old “hot box,” a heat catcher by Swiss inventor Horace de Sausseur, and it could solve problems plaguing rural areas of developing countries.

Deforestation is a huge problem in Africa, note the inventors of the Kyoto Box, who hope the stove could halve firewood use, saving trees and preventing carbon emissions. The Kyoto Box is targeted at people who currently use firewood, a fuel that takes the rural poor hours of hard labor per day to collect, and can cause health problems when the fumes from the often primitive stoves are breathed in the home.

Originally posted at Crave

Visit the original post at: Green Tech

Sewing Green by Betz White Ups the Ante on Eco Crafting
Sewing Green photo
Photo credit: STC Craft

Sewing in and of itself is already pretty darn green. Footprint, schmootprint, there’s just no substitute for rolling up your proverbial sleeves and taking the DIY route, without having to navigate the quagmire of ethical sourcing and fair compensation. But in Sewing Green: 24 Projects Made With Repurposed & Organic Materials, felting queen and crafter extraordinaire Betz White—have you swooned over her luscious cupcake pincushions?—sees your seam ripper and raises you a pile of deconstructed thrift-store sweaters.

An old men’s…
Visit the original post at: TreeHugger

Kangaroos too cute to cull more of them?

Kangaroos often run across the grounds of Australia's Government House in Canberra. Denmark's Princess Mary and Prince Frederik, second and third from left, got to see that for themselves back in March 2005.Canberra, Australia’s capital, has a problem — too many kangaroos. They bounce across the roof of Parliament House. They collide with cars. They come in through the bedroom window.

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Smart Grid Tech Taking Hold in Australia
power lines in sun photo
Photo via respres

Smart grid technology is expanding in Australia and quite a few companies are finding a place for themselves within a government-mandated Advanced Metering Infrastructure program. Most recently, IBM and Silver Spring Networks have found themselves at home helping Australia update its electrical grid….
Visit the original post at: TreeHugger

Paris Using Ultracapacitors in Buses

Paris Using Ultracapacitors in Buses

Much has been made of the potential of ultracapacitors in electric cars. Many start-up companies are hoping to make the big breakthrough that changes the future of EVs by creating lighter, cheaper and better energy storage, but so far we haven’t seen the results.

German company MAN has decided to look beyond small electric vehicles and has outfitted a hybrid bus with an ultracapacitor. Paris’s public transport system RATP is currently testing a few of these models called Lion’s City Hybrids in the city without passengers to see if they’re worth permanently adding to their transportation fleet.

The bus is being tested on four different bus routes to gauge its performance under various demands like longer distances or more frequent stops. The ultracapacitor allows the bus to start without turning on the engine. Once the bus is moving, the diesel engine starts running.

MAN claims that the hybrid bus reduces fuel use by 20 to 25 percent compared to the currently-used models. If these test go well, this could be the beginning of ultracapacitors finally making their way onto the road instead of just being an exciting prospect.

via Autoblog Green

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E.ON’s CEO calls for approval of offshore wind parks closer to shore

E.ON’s chief executive officer Wulf Bernotat has reportedly called for an approval of offshore wind parks closer to shore.

He made this comment with reference to ambitious plans to set up 2,000 offshore wind turbines, which according to him, could hardly be realised without massive investments in technology.

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Visit the original post at: Wind Power News

Grays Harbor plans setting up of its offshore power plant

Grays Harbor Ocean Energy Co is in news for its plans to set up an “unusual offshore power plant”.

The company says it has identified the right technology solutions for sustainable installation and operation of large offshore wind/wave farms.

read more

Visit the original post at: Wind Power News

“You can’t set up reasonable-cost manufacturing in a boom-bust business cycle”

Despite the sustained demand for wind turbine parts from the US, an established manufacturer has highlighted that the lack of a long-term and stable market can be a major concern.

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Visit the original post at: Wind Power News

Green Growing Fun – Strange Planters

Green Growing Fun – Strange Planters

Heads up; none of these items are particularly sustainable (well, some are recycled), but they’re not going to change the world or cut your electricity use. That said, sometimes you just need a nice dose of green fun. All of the following items grow some green, but not in typical ways.

flower-pot-ring-that-growsAbove is the quirky Flower Pot Ring by Allison Wells at Paper Snake. Wells makes lots of nice jewelry, besides pots that grow. I’d check out her bird designs.


If you’re going to waste paper for hand out business cards, at least get some that grow when dipped in water!These above do – the Another Bloomin’ Designer business cards by Jamie Wieck. I’m a big Jamie Wieck fan – this artist creates so much cool stuff that your eyes will pop. Visit the site.


OMG Lego Planter! – if your kids have outgrown their Lego sets, why not build a planter with them? Why not indeed…  This is a cool way to recycle toy use. See many more images. Via The Bob Blog.

See more cool planters…

What’s the oddest thing you’ve ever recycled into a planter?

Visit the original post at: Solar Power News

In Search of Skyline Solar

In Search of Skyline Solar

logo_skyline[Mountain View, California USA]

Finding the concentrating photovoltaic (PV) solar collector.
Skyline Solar CEO Bob MacDonald presenting at Dow Jones Alternative Energy Innovations Spring 2009 next week.

Since posting Skyline Solar Dawn, I’ve been keen on learning more about Skyline Solar’s High Gain Silicon PV solution. Some PV insiders may have followed my cryptic closing comment, The Truth is Out There. As I understand it, the slide below showing the Skyline Solar solution was presented by Doug Rose with SunPower Corporation (NASDAQ:SPWRA, NASDAQ:SPWRB) at the Solar Power International 2008 State-of-the-Art CPV session in violation of an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement). This slide pegs the Skyline Solar trough concentration at 13x (thirteen times).

From State-of-the-Art CPV by SunPower at Solar Power International 2008

A quick search revealed the headquarters of Skyline Solar, Inc. is not far from downtown Mountain View. The first time I drove past the office building, I didn’t notice anything special. Months later, I decided to pedal by during a bike ride. This was when I first noticed a metal structure in the back lot behind the building. Could it be this easy? I had imagined their prototypes would be on sun at a remote site near Skyline Blvd., on the campus of Skyline College, or perhaps following in the footsteps of SolFocus at PARC (Palo Alto Research Center).

Unobtrusive from the road, the dual trough concentrating solar photovoltaic modules are nestled behind a fence covered with an opaque film and circled with medium sized trees. On my first field trip, I photographed the backside of the PV modules. It was a sunny day, and the units were tracking the sun away from my view point. Later in March, I captured part of the inside trough and the silicon solar cell receivers when the sky was overcast with my Blackberry mobile.

At almost the same instant, four (4) Skyline Solar patent applications were published at both the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and WIPO:

USPTO Patent Application 20090056787 March 5, 2009
Concentrating solar collector

USPTO Patent Application 20090056786 March 5, 2009
Photovoltaic receiver

USPTO Patent Application 20090056785 March 5, 2009

USPTO Patent Application 20090056698 March 5, 2009
Solar collector framework

I have not had a chance to review these patents in depth, but here are a few quick observations. Keying on the DUAL TROUGH CONCENTRATING SOLAR PHOTOVOLTAIC MODULE patent, I believe the dual trough arrangement concentrates light from a reflector panel (two per trough) to the opposite photovoltaic receiver. There are four (4) PV receivers per dual trough module. Each dual trough module is mounted on a single-axis tracker.

ALANOD Aluminium-Veredlung GmbH & Co. KG is mentioned as one source for the aluminum strip on the reflector panels using MIRO-SUN® PV for Photovoltaic Applications reflection material. An interesting option provides multiple, redundant layers on the reflector panels which can be removed as they are worn over the presumable twenty (20) plus year product life.

[0044]In one embodiment, each reflector panel 106 may be made of Miro-Sun.RTM. KKSP, made by Alanod of Ennepatal, Germany. The Miro-Sun.RTM. KKSP is a 0.5 mm thick aluminum strip that may have a specialty surface providing over 90% specular reflection over the band in which silicon photovoltaic cells operate. A protective lacquer coating may be applied to the top of the reflector panels 106 to increase abrasion and weather resistance. In another embodiment, the reflector panels 106 may be made of any high reflection material, produced by Alanod or a plurality of other vendors. In still another embodiment, the reflector panel 106 may have a silver coated polymer-based laminate over the aluminum strip. Once the reflective properties of the silver coated laminate are degraded from weather and/or the sunlight, the silver coated laminate may be removed to thereby expose a new reflective layer. This allows the collector 100 to be used for longer periods of time without having to be replaced, easily maintained, and less costly. A reflector panel may have between about 1-5 layers of silver coated laminate.

The design appears to favor about 78mm (3.07 inch) square monocrystalline silicon solar cells while almost every alternative crystalline silicon solar cell technology, process, and shape is claimed possible.

[0070]Each of the plurality of PV or solar cells 406 may be connected electrically in series to form a solar cell string 410. The solar cell string 410 may be formed by any known means such as soldering each solar cell together via interconnect wires 414. Each solar cell 406 may have a cell size of about 78.times.78 mm and may be a square wafer manufactured from a monocrystalline silicon boule. Alternatively, the solar cell may be any type of known solar cell such as multi-crystalline, single-crystalline, rear contact, emitter wrap-through, LGBC (laser grooved buried contact), PERL (passivated emitter with rear laterally diffused cell), multi-junction, silicon ribbon, thin film PV cells, and the like. Although each solar cell 406 is illustrated as a square, the shape of the solar cell 406 is not intended to be limiting as any shape may be used such as a rectangle, square with one or more rounded or truncated comers, hexagon, and the like.

With series cell resistance a concern in the concentration application, Day4 Energy Inc. solar cells with the Day4 Electrode inter-connection are one potential source. For back contact monocrystalline cells, SunPower would rank as a favored supplier if the smaller cell size is manufacturable, and they elect to service a cell customer.

[0071]The plurality of solar cells may be modified such that they have a lower series resistance when electrically connected. In one embodiment, the back surface field strength of the solar cell may be increased and the top-surface conductive grid may be thickened or increased in number to reduce the series resistance in traditional non rear-contact solar cells. In another embodiment, for rear contact PV cells, the back metallization of the solar cells may be thickened.

Each photovoltaic receiver has twenty-four (24) series connected silicon solar cells.

[0072]Each solar cell 406 may be positioned with a small gap between each other to allow room for electrical connections, differential thermal expansion, and mechanical tolerances. A single solar receiver 400 may have any number of solar cells 406 to form a cell string. In one embodiment, one solar receiver 400 may have about twenty four solar cells 406 and may be electrically connected in series, parallel, or any combination. Each solar cell 406 when illuminated may generate approximately 1/2 volt. Thus, if all cells are connected in series the single solar receiver 400 may generate a total of 12 volts.

In addition to the above, the intricate heatsink design and simplified tracking arrangement appear novel.

The City of San Jose mentioned Skyline Solar as a possible contender for solar demonstration projects in “San Jose explores solar energy farms” by Lisa Sibley for the Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal.

Skyline Solar is among the Presenting Companies at the Dow Jones Alternative Energy Innovations Spring 2009 event from April 21-22, 2009, in Redwood City, California USA. It would appear Skyline Solar CEO Bob MacDonald is prepared to tell =all= regarding development schedules, business plans, and funding requirements to prospective investors next week.

Curious that Skyline Solar opted out of commenting on this post.

I don’t think today’s press release by GreenVolts, “GreenVolts Appoints Executive Chairman” elevating Bob Cart to Executive Chairman invalidates my post, “GreenVolts Jolts Concentrating PhotoVoltaic (CPV) Business Plans”. How actual events unfold over the next few months will tell the tale. Please see “GreenVolts Replaces CEO Bob Cart” at Greentech Media for their take.

Visit the original post at: Solar Power News

Denmark Hydrogen Link Project Ready for Rapid Growth

The Hydrogen Link project based in Copenhagen, Denmark is ready for rapid growth over the next few years. The plan is that by 2015 the municipality of Copenhagen has 85-percent of its cars running on electric or hydrogen, which will total around 600 vehicles.

The plan also calls for a total conversion of its fleet to electric and hydrogen cars by 2025. In order to stimulate the building and rollout of hydrogen cars, Denmark has decided to make them tax exempt (rather than the usual 180-percent tax).

In addition, increased investments in hydrogen refueling stations is expected to double in order to meet these goals. By the end of this year Copenhagen will be adding 15 fuel cell vehicles and one hydrogen fueling station in anticipation of the United Nations Climate Meeting being held in December.

And, if a person owns a hydrogen car in Copenhagen, they will be able to take advantage of free parking as well. Now, I’ve talked about the Scandinavian Hydrogen Highway Project before and how it links together three other local projects including the Denmark Hydrogen Link Project, Norway’s HyNor and Sweden’s HyFuture Project.

The clustering of hydrogen cars and fueling stations geographically is a worthy idea also being piloted in Los Angeles, California. The Europeans, however, look as if they have a leg up in this regard and are charging ahead with hydrogen development and interlinking hydrogen car and fueling station networks.

Visit the original post at: Fuel Cell News

China to get first biomass plant using sea buckthorn, caragana
Inner Mongolia plant expected to generate 150 million kWh per year using the native shrubs.

Visit the original post at: Energy News

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