Archive for May 20th, 2009

Enerkem to build N.America's first waste-to-biofuel plant
Environmental study paves the way for Enerkem and GreenField Ethanol to start construction on the Alberta plant using municipal waste for ethanol and chemicals.


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New Process Touted as Breakthrough for Cellulosic Ethanol

Mascoma Corp. says it has a way to make switchgrass such as this could be a more common and affordable source of ethanol.

Mascoma Corp. says it has found a way to remove several steps from the process of making cellulosic ethanol, cutting the cost and time it takes to make the fuel, while increasing yields.

The Lebanon, N.H.-based company says it has made advances in consolidated bioprocessing, a process that uses engineered microorganism to make ethanol from cellulosic biomass, such as grasses, stalks and wood waste. Mascoma’s CBP process eliminates the need to produce costly cellulase enzymes, by producing the cellulase and ethanol in a single step.

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U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions Plunge in 2008 – Record Gas Prices, Economy Major Drivers
Driven by record-high gas prices in the first half of the year and the economic crisis that hit in the later half of the year, United States greenhouse gas emissions plunged by the largest amount in decades, according to preliminary data released today by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, which drive global climate change, fell to 2.8% in 2008 to 5.8 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e), the lowest level of emissions in any year since 2000. Total U.S. energy consumption also fell 2.2% in 2008, the EIA reports.

(Sorry for poor image quality, blame the source: the EIA)

The drop in oil consumption in 2008 was the major driver of lower greenhouse gas emissions, as oil topped record prices throughout most of the year. Emissions from petroleum fell 6% in 2008, down 155 million metric tons CO2-e in 2008. Natural gas emissions rose slightly, inching up 1%, or 13 million metric tons CO2-e. Emissions from the combustion of coal fell 1.1%, by 23 million metric tons CO2-e.

Electricity generation was down 1% in 2008, leading the the drop in coal combustion, and a decline in electricity-sector emissions of 50 million metric tons CO2-e, a 2.1% drop. Electricity generation from non-carbon emitting sources (wind, solar, hydro, nuclear, etc.) increased by 18.6 billion kilowatt-hours (1.7 percent) in 2008, even as electricity generation overall fell, bringing the non-carbon share of generation up from 27.8% in 2007 to 28.5% in 2008.

In 2008, transportation CO2 emissions fell 5.2%, the largest annual decline since 1990. In contrast, transportation emissions have risen by 1.1% annually since 1990, as can be seen in the graphic to right.

Interestingly, emissions fell in 2008 despite an overall growth in economic output (GDP). While GDP plunged at an annual rate of 6.3% in the 4th quarter of 2008, as the economic crisis accelerated, GDP was up by 1.1% overall in 2008.

Emissions fell despite this economic growth due to an overall “decarbonization” of the economy, a fall in energy intensity and emissions intensity of the economy which has held strong for the past decades (see graphic to right). The EIA reports that energy-related CO2 emissions per unit of GDP dropped 3.8 percent in 2008, enough to outpace the modest economic growth in the year. The emissions intensity of the economy is the product of two factors, energy intensity of the economy (energy/GDP), which includes energy efficiency and productivity factors, and CO2 intensity of the energy supply (CO2/energy), which factors in the mix of energy sources and fuels used. According to the EIA, both factors fell in 2008, with energy per GDP falling 3.3% and CO2 intensity of the energy supply inching down 0.6%.

For more, check out the preliminary report from the Energy Information Administration here. The full report will be released in “the fall of 2009.”


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Irish Tube Compressor: Wave Energy Breakthrough or Pipe Dream?

Irish Tube Compressor

A new method of harvesting wave energy, the Irish Tube Compressor, is under development by the Dublin company JOSPA, which hopes to demonstrate superior performance in sustainable electricity production with their device.

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Southwestern Chinese city launches grants for hybrids
First state initiative for private vehicles encourages consumers to buy Chang’an Auto’s hybrid sedan.


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The next wave of cleantech investing:  Getting beyond energytech

We had a great REBN-Boston event last night at the Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry. John Warner spoke about his journey into the field of green chemistry, and about the need for green principles to be integrated into chemistry methodologies — not just for health and environmental reasons, but for profitability reasons as well.

You can read some of Warner’s thinking on the subject in an old interview here. For example, Warner mentioned last night that DuPont spends $1B per year on research and development — and $1B per year on regulatory compliance related to their products and processes. The problem, in Warner’s view, is that chemists are never trained in areas like toxicity and environmental impacts of the chemicals they work with and create. So it’s no surprise, therefore, that it becomes so expensive to deal with the waste and toxicity of the chemicals at “the end of the pipe”. Instead, if processes and products were designed with green principles and lessons in mind, up front, we could see more effective, cost-competitive and safe chemicals and processes right from the start.

This isn’t just a pesticides and chemical additives issue. Such chemistry-based design decisions are at the heart of other cleantech sectors like thin-film solar, water treatment, membranes, agriculture, etc.

It’s a great example of the next wave of cleantech: Everything else beyond energytech. While climate change, energy independence and energy supply concerns have elevated energy technologies thus far in the cleantech pantheon, we continue to see looming natural resource shortages in other areas like water supplies, agriculture and food, and basic materials/ commodities.

It may not be this year, but at some point those other markets are going to develop to the point where they will be ripe for innovation and rapid adoption of alternative technologies. And methodologies like Green Chemistry may help spur such innovation, in proprietary ways that VCs love to see.


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Where should turbines be located in Wisconsin?

Welch - cropped - lo res
Bob Welch (right), hired lobbyist for anti-wind forces, told a joint legislative hearing on wind siting where turbines can be located in Wisconsin:

Senator Jon Erpenbach: Yeah, real quick. Bob. 25%. You’re saying if a wind farm is built it’s only going to work—going to get 25% of it’s capacity. Where do you get the numbers from?

Welch: I got the numbers from the U.S. Department of Energy. And some of them are a little dated because the wind farms have not been very forthcoming in putting their stuff up right away, like quarterly, or by month, or at least we can’t find it. Maybe I just don’t know where to look, but we’ve had a lot of people looking. Some were averaging below 20%, but as I said, roughly, 25%, and the stuff out west, from the same time period, was 35-40%.

Erpenbach: Is there a place in Wisconsin where it would work?

Welch: Lake Michigan would work great.

Welch is also paid to lobby for the following interests: Safari Club International, Wisconsin Chapters; Swisher International, Inc.; The Washington Center; Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association; Wisconsin Bio Industry Alliance; Wisconsin Broadcasters Association; Wisconsin Coin Community Alliance; Wisconsin Corn Growers Association; Wisconsin Occupational Therapy Association; Wisconsin Wine and Spirit Institute.


Visit the original post at: Energy News

Where should turbines be located in Wisconsin?

Welch - cropped - lo res
Bob Welch (right), hired lobbyist for anti-wind forces, told a joint legislative hearing on wind siting where turbines can be located in Wisconsin:

Senator Jon Erpenbach: Yeah, real quick. Bob. 25%. You’re saying if a wind farm is built it’s only going to work—going to get 25% of it’s capacity. Where do you get the numbers from?

Welch: I got the numbers from the U.S. Department of Energy. And some of them are a little dated because the wind farms have not been very forthcoming in putting their stuff up right away, like quarterly, or by month, or at least we can’t find it. Maybe I just don’t know where to look, but we’ve had a lot of people looking. Some were averaging below 20%, but as I said, roughly, 25%, and the stuff out west, from the same time period, was 35-40%.

Erpenbach: Is there a place in Wisconsin where it would work?

Welch: Lake Michigan would work great.

Welch is also paid to lobby for the following interests: Safari Club International, Wisconsin Chapters; Swisher International, Inc.; The Washington Center; Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association; Wisconsin Bio Industry Alliance; Wisconsin Broadcasters Association; Wisconsin Coin Community Alliance; Wisconsin Corn Growers Association; Wisconsin Occupational Therapy Association; Wisconsin Wine and Spirit Institute.


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SolarCraft Completes Solar Electric System for Miss Sandie’s School
Novato-based SolarCraft announced today it has completed the design and installation of a 16.6 kW solar electric system at Miss Sandie’s School in Novato.
Visit the original post at: Renewable Energy News – RenewableEnergyWorld.com

Europe’s Largest Onshore Wind Farm Is Switched on in Scotland
Today, the final phase of Europe’s largest onshore wind farm is being turned on in Scotland. The 322-megawatt (MW), 140-turbine Whitelee wind farm was built by ScottishPower Renewables, which is part of the Spanish power business Iberdrola.
Visit the original post at: Renewable Energy News – RenewableEnergyWorld.com

4.2-MW Solar System in Provence Goes Online
The Vinon-sur-Verdon photovoltaic solar park, with a capacity of 4.2 megawatts (MW), has now started electricity production. Solaire Durance, a joint venture between Caisse des Dépôts and Solairedirect, developed the project.
Visit the original post at: Renewable Energy News – RenewableEnergyWorld.com

Orecon Signs Landmark Deal With Eneolica for 4.5-MW Wave Farm in Portugal
Orecon, the Cornish wave energy device developer, has signed an agreement with Portuguese developer Eneólica to establish a Joint Venture company to build and deploy Orecon’s first full scale 1.5 MW MRC wave energy buoy. The site will be connected to the Portuguese electricity grid and deliver power for up to 1500 homes.
Visit the original post at: Renewable Energy News – RenewableEnergyWorld.com

Suntech Starts First 1-MW Rooftop Solar Project in Jiangsu Province
Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd. will build a 1.5-megawatt (MW) solar system in Huai’an City, Jiangsu Province, China in collaboration with Jiangsu Guoxin Asset Management Group Ltd. The solar system, which is expected to be completed by October 2009, will be the first grid connected solar system installed in Jiangsu Province larger than 1-MW.
Visit the original post at: Renewable Energy News – RenewableEnergyWorld.com

Kyocera To Supply Solar Modules for Toyota Prius
Kyocera Corporation has announced that it will supply solar modules for the new Toyota Prius solar ventilation system, an optional feature for the hybrid car model introduced in Japan by Toyota Motor Corporation last week. The output of the system will be 56 watts and the cell conversion efficiency will be 16.5%.
Visit the original post at: Renewable Energy News – RenewableEnergyWorld.com

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