Archive for December 20th, 2009

Earth to Thomas Friedman: Winning the “Earth Race” Requires Federal Investment
Cross-posted from Americans for Energy Leadership

In a major departure from conventional climate wisdom, Thomas Friedman argues in today’s New York Times that the UNFCCC framework is broken and should be replaced by a global competition in the clean-tech industry, which he says the United States can and should lead. “Let the Earth Race begin,” he declares, contrasting this with the long-dominant “Earth Day” strategy:

“This Copenhagen climate summit was based on the Earth Day strategy. It was not very impressive. This conference produced a series of limited, conditional, messy compromises, which it is not at all clear will get us any closer to mitigating climate change at the speed and scale we need…

Today, we need the Earth Race: who can be the first to invent the most clean technologies so men and women can live safely here on Earth… An Earth Race led by America — built on markets, economic competition, national self-interest and strategic advantage — is a much more self-sustaining way to reduce carbon emissions than a festival of voluntary, nonbinding commitments at a U.N. conference.”

Friedman is right. The race to develop competitive clean-tech industries is the critical element with the potential to motivate enough development and deployment of clean technologies – far more than any potential “legally-binding” global emissions treaty, as we’ve seen with the failure of the Kyoto Protocol and the inability of the UNFCCC framework to produce a meaningful treaty at Copenhagen. The International Energy Agency estimates that $10.5 trillion of global investment in clean technology and energy efficiency is necessary over the next 20 years to stay below 450ppm – an unimaginable sum under any UNFCCC treaty.

Moreover, building the long-term political support of a broad segment of the American public requires a national agenda centrally focused on competing in the clean-tech growth industries of the future. As Friedman explains, “If you start the conversation with “climate” you might get half of America to sign up for action. If you start the conversation with giving birth to a “whole new industry” — one that will make us more energy independent, prosperous, secure, innovative, respected and able to out-green China in the next great global industry — you get the country.”

Indeed, countries like China, Japan, and South Korea are already launching massive government investment programs to dominate this industry – not because their priority is reducing carbon emissions, but because they recognize the economic potential. In our recent report, “Rising Tigers, Sleeping Giant,” we found that China, Japan, and South Korea – Asia’s “clean technology tigers” – have already surpassed the United States in the production of virtually all clean energy technologies, an advantage they are solidifying and expanding with direct, large-scale government investment strategies.

As his competitive solution, Friedman repeats his call for a price on carbon. “The goal of Earth Racers is to focus on getting the U.S. Senate to pass an energy bill, with a long-term price on carbon that will really stimulate America to become the world leader in clean-tech,” he writes. “All [Obama] needed to do in his speech was to look China’s prime minister in the eye and say: “I am going to get our Senate to pass an energy bill with a price on carbon so we can clean your clock in clean-tech. This is my moon shot. Game on.”

The Chinese prime minister might just have laughed in Obama’s face. Why? Because a modest carbon price is far too weak to regain American competitiveness in the face of Asia’s massive investment projects. These governments are set to out-invest the United States by three to one in these industries over the next five years – about $509 billion compared to $172 billion in the U.S., assuming passage of the proposed American Clean Energy and Security Act and including current appropriations and stimulus measures.

No wonder Deutsche Bank recently concluded that “generous and well-targeted [clean-tech] incentives” backed by “comprehensive and integrated government plans” in China and Japan will create a low-risk environment for investors and stimulate high levels of private investment. In contrast, Deutsche Bank concluded, the U.S. is a “moderate-risk” country compared to the lower-risk environment of China and Japan, because we rely on “a more volatile market incentive approach that has suffered from a start-stop approach in some areas.” According to another recent report by the China Greentech Initiative, China’s national clean-tech market could eventually grow to $1 trillion annually.

Earth to Thomas Friedman! Winning the “Earth Race” requires major federal investments in clean technology development and deployment. “If the United States hopes to compete for new clean energy industries,” we conclude in “Rising Tigers, Sleeping Giant,” “it must close the widening gap between U.S. and Asian government investments in research and innovation, manufacturing, and domestic market demand. Small, indirect and uncoordinated incentives are not sufficient to outcompete Asia’s clean tech tigers. To regain economic leadership in the global clean energy industry, U.S. energy policy must include large, direct and coordinated investments in clean technology R&D, manufacturing, deployment, and infrastructure.”

Winning the “Earth Race” also requires a national effort in high-tech energy education, and President Obama’s RE-ENERGYSE proposal is a critical first step, especially in the realm of higher education. As my colleague and I wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle, “To win today’s clean-energy race, the United States must respond with the same vigorous commitment to education and innovation that won the space race four decades ago. If America does not take immediate action to bridge its energy education gap – and if we fail to make substantially larger investments in our own clean-energy economy – we will effectively cede the clean-energy race to Asia.”

Yet instead of calling for an effort to actually strengthen the Senate bill to match what energy innovation experts say is necessary (including dozens of Nobel Laureates, Brookings Institution, Association of American Universities, Google, and others) – at least $15 billion per year for clean energy R&D, compared to $1.2 billion in the current proposal – Friedman simply calls for passing the bill in its current form. Indeed, he doesn’t seem to care whether the bill is strong enough to accomplish much of anything besides a modest price on carbon, as he explained in an op-ed after the passage of Waxman-Markey:

“It is pathetic that we couldn’t do better [than Waxman-Markey]. It is appalling that so much had to be given away to polluters. It stinks. It’s a mess. I detest it. Now let’s get it passed in the Senate and make it law.”

That is no strategy to win the “Earth Race.” Reflecting on the surge in Afghanistan, Friedman recently wrote, “China, Russia and Al Qaeda all love the idea of America doing a long, slow bleed in Afghanistan.” His point extends here as well: China, Japan, South Korea, and the rest of our competitors would love the idea of America settling on a “pathetic” bill with modest clean-tech investment and pricing.

The United States did not win the space race with a tax on airplanes. We did not invent the Internet by enforcing a cap and trade system on fax machines, nor did we create the personal computer by taxing typewriters. Those who suggest we can simply rely on indirect, market-based mechanisms to achieve a clean energy revolution – including Thomas Friedman – fail to understand the history of technology innovation and competitiveness, and they risk relegating our clean-tech industry to second-class status or worse.

Fifty years ago, in the wake of the launch of Sputnik, the United States launched a massive national effort to lead the space race and win the Cold War. Today, the clean energy race represents one of the greatest opportunities and challenges for American leadership in a generation. If we do not take immediate action to launch a national energy competitiveness project based on large, direct, and coordinated innovation policies, we will effectively cede the clean-energy industry to Asia and other competitors. The mass majority of exports, jobs, tax revenues, and other economic benefits will accrue to foreign countries, and we will miss a historic opportunity to achieve a new era of American leadership. The choice should be clear.


Visit the original post at: Energy News

Earth to Thomas Friedman: Winning the “Earth Race” Requires Federal Investment
Cross-posted from Americans for Energy Leadership

In a major departure from conventional climate wisdom, Thomas Friedman argues in today’s New York Times that the UNFCCC framework is broken and should be replaced by a global competition in the clean-tech industry, which he says the United States can and should lead. “Let the Earth Race begin,” he declares, contrasting this with the long-dominant “Earth Day” strategy:

“This Copenhagen climate summit was based on the Earth Day strategy. It was not very impressive. This conference produced a series of limited, conditional, messy compromises, which it is not at all clear will get us any closer to mitigating climate change at the speed and scale we need…

Today, we need the Earth Race: who can be the first to invent the most clean technologies so men and women can live safely here on Earth… An Earth Race led by America — built on markets, economic competition, national self-interest and strategic advantage — is a much more self-sustaining way to reduce carbon emissions than a festival of voluntary, nonbinding commitments at a U.N. conference.”

Friedman is right. The race to develop competitive clean-tech industries is the critical element with the potential to motivate enough development and deployment of clean technologies – far more than any potential “legally-binding” global emissions treaty, as we’ve seen with the failure of the Kyoto Protocol and the inability of the UNFCCC framework to produce a meaningful treaty at Copenhagen. The International Energy Agency estimates that $10.5 trillion of global investment in clean technology and energy efficiency is necessary over the next 20 years to stay below 450ppm – an unimaginable sum under any UNFCCC treaty.

Moreover, building the long-term political support of a broad segment of the American public requires a national agenda centrally focused on competing in the clean-tech growth industries of the future. As Friedman explains, “If you start the conversation with “climate” you might get half of America to sign up for action. If you start the conversation with giving birth to a “whole new industry” — one that will make us more energy independent, prosperous, secure, innovative, respected and able to out-green China in the next great global industry — you get the country.”

Indeed, countries like China, Japan, and South Korea are already launching massive government investment programs to dominate this industry – not because their priority is reducing carbon emissions, but because they recognize the economic potential. In our recent report, “Rising Tigers, Sleeping Giant,” we found that China, Japan, and South Korea – Asia’s “clean technology tigers” – have already surpassed the United States in the production of virtually all clean energy technologies, an advantage they are solidifying and expanding with direct, large-scale government investment strategies.

As his competitive solution, Friedman repeats his call for a price on carbon. “The goal of Earth Racers is to focus on getting the U.S. Senate to pass an energy bill, with a long-term price on carbon that will really stimulate America to become the world leader in clean-tech,” he writes. “All [Obama] needed to do in his speech was to look China’s prime minister in the eye and say: “I am going to get our Senate to pass an energy bill with a price on carbon so we can clean your clock in clean-tech. This is my moon shot. Game on.”

The Chinese prime minister might just have laughed in Obama’s face. Why? Because a modest carbon price is far too weak to regain American competitiveness in the face of Asia’s massive investment projects. These governments are set to out-invest the United States by three to one in these industries over the next five years – about $509 billion compared to $172 billion in the U.S., assuming passage of the proposed American Clean Energy and Security Act and including current appropriations and stimulus measures.

No wonder Deutsche Bank recently concluded that “generous and well-targeted [clean-tech] incentives” backed by “comprehensive and integrated government plans” in China and Japan will create a low-risk environment for investors and stimulate high levels of private investment. In contrast, Deutsche Bank concluded, the U.S. is a “moderate-risk” country compared to the lower-risk environment of China and Japan, because we rely on “a more volatile market incentive approach that has suffered from a start-stop approach in some areas.” According to another recent report by the China Greentech Initiative, China’s national clean-tech market could eventually grow to $1 trillion annually.

Earth to Thomas Friedman! Winning the “Earth Race” requires major federal investments in clean technology development and deployment. “If the United States hopes to compete for new clean energy industries,” we conclude in “Rising Tigers, Sleeping Giant,” “it must close the widening gap between U.S. and Asian government investments in research and innovation, manufacturing, and domestic market demand. Small, indirect and uncoordinated incentives are not sufficient to outcompete Asia’s clean tech tigers. To regain economic leadership in the global clean energy industry, U.S. energy policy must include large, direct and coordinated investments in clean technology R&D, manufacturing, deployment, and infrastructure.”

Winning the “Earth Race” also requires a national effort in high-tech energy education, and President Obama’s RE-ENERGYSE proposal is a critical first step, especially in the realm of higher education. As my colleague and I wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle, “To win today’s clean-energy race, the United States must respond with the same vigorous commitment to education and innovation that won the space race four decades ago. If America does not take immediate action to bridge its energy education gap – and if we fail to make substantially larger investments in our own clean-energy economy – we will effectively cede the clean-energy race to Asia.”

Yet instead of calling for an effort to actually strengthen the Senate bill to match what energy innovation experts say is necessary (including dozens of Nobel Laureates, Brookings Institution, Association of American Universities, Google, and others) – at least $15 billion per year for clean energy R&D, compared to $1.2 billion in the current proposal – Friedman simply calls for passing the bill in its current form. Indeed, he doesn’t seem to care whether the bill is strong enough to accomplish much of anything besides a modest price on carbon, as he explained in an op-ed after the passage of Waxman-Markey:

“It is pathetic that we couldn’t do better [than Waxman-Markey]. It is appalling that so much had to be given away to polluters. It stinks. It’s a mess. I detest it. Now let’s get it passed in the Senate and make it law.”

That is no strategy to win the “Earth Race.” Reflecting on the surge in Afghanistan, Friedman recently wrote, “China, Russia and Al Qaeda all love the idea of America doing a long, slow bleed in Afghanistan.” His point extends here as well: China, Japan, South Korea, and the rest of our competitors would love the idea of America settling on a “pathetic” bill with modest clean-tech investment and pricing.

The United States did not win the space race with a tax on airplanes. We did not invent the Internet by enforcing a cap and trade system on fax machines, nor did we create the personal computer by taxing typewriters. Those who suggest we can simply rely on indirect, market-based mechanisms to achieve a clean energy revolution – including Thomas Friedman – fail to understand the history of technology innovation and competitiveness, and they risk relegating our clean-tech industry to second-class status or worse.

Fifty years ago, in the wake of the launch of Sputnik, the United States launched a massive national effort to lead the space race and win the Cold War. Today, the clean energy race represents one of the greatest opportunities and challenges for American leadership in a generation. If we do not take immediate action to launch a national energy competitiveness project based on large, direct, and coordinated innovation policies, we will effectively cede the clean-energy industry to Asia and other competitors. The mass majority of exports, jobs, tax revenues, and other economic benefits will accrue to foreign countries, and we will miss a historic opportunity to achieve a new era of American leadership. The choice should be clear.


Visit the original post at: Energy News

Earth to Thomas Friedman: Winning the “Earth Race” Requires Federal Investment
Cross-posted from Americans for Energy Leadership

In a major departure from conventional climate wisdom, Thomas Friedman argues in today’s New York Times that the UNFCCC framework is broken and should be replaced by a global competition in the clean-tech industry, which he says the United States can and should lead. “Let the Earth Race begin,” he declares, contrasting this with the long-dominant “Earth Day” strategy:

“This Copenhagen climate summit was based on the Earth Day strategy. It was not very impressive. This conference produced a series of limited, conditional, messy compromises, which it is not at all clear will get us any closer to mitigating climate change at the speed and scale we need…

Today, we need the Earth Race: who can be the first to invent the most clean technologies so men and women can live safely here on Earth… An Earth Race led by America — built on markets, economic competition, national self-interest and strategic advantage — is a much more self-sustaining way to reduce carbon emissions than a festival of voluntary, nonbinding commitments at a U.N. conference.”

Friedman is right. The race to develop competitive clean-tech industries is the critical element with the potential to motivate enough development and deployment of clean technologies – far more than any potential “legally-binding” global emissions treaty, as we’ve seen with the failure of the Kyoto Protocol and the inability of the UNFCCC framework to produce a meaningful treaty at Copenhagen. The International Energy Agency estimates that $10.5 trillion of global investment in clean technology and energy efficiency is necessary over the next 20 years to stay below 450ppm – an unimaginable sum under any UNFCCC treaty.

Moreover, building the long-term political support of a broad segment of the American public requires a national agenda centrally focused on competing in the clean-tech growth industries of the future. As Friedman explains, “If you start the conversation with “climate” you might get half of America to sign up for action. If you start the conversation with giving birth to a “whole new industry” — one that will make us more energy independent, prosperous, secure, innovative, respected and able to out-green China in the next great global industry — you get the country.”

Indeed, countries like China, Japan, and South Korea are already launching massive government investment programs to dominate this industry – not because their priority is reducing carbon emissions, but because they recognize the economic potential. In our recent report, “Rising Tigers, Sleeping Giant,” we found that China, Japan, and South Korea – Asia’s “clean technology tigers” – have already surpassed the United States in the production of virtually all clean energy technologies, an advantage they are solidifying and expanding with direct, large-scale government investment strategies.

As his competitive solution, Friedman repeats his call for a price on carbon. “The goal of Earth Racers is to focus on getting the U.S. Senate to pass an energy bill, with a long-term price on carbon that will really stimulate America to become the world leader in clean-tech,” he writes. “All [Obama] needed to do in his speech was to look China’s prime minister in the eye and say: “I am going to get our Senate to pass an energy bill with a price on carbon so we can clean your clock in clean-tech. This is my moon shot. Game on.”

The Chinese prime minister might just have laughed in Obama’s face. Why? Because a modest carbon price is far too weak to regain American competitiveness in the face of Asia’s massive investment projects. These governments are set to out-invest the United States by three to one in these industries over the next five years – about $509 billion compared to $172 billion in the U.S., assuming passage of the proposed American Clean Energy and Security Act and including current appropriations and stimulus measures.

No wonder Deutsche Bank recently concluded that “generous and well-targeted [clean-tech] incentives” backed by “comprehensive and integrated government plans” in China and Japan will create a low-risk environment for investors and stimulate high levels of private investment. In contrast, Deutsche Bank concluded, the U.S. is a “moderate-risk” country compared to the lower-risk environment of China and Japan, because we rely on “a more volatile market incentive approach that has suffered from a start-stop approach in some areas.” According to another recent report by the China Greentech Initiative, China’s national clean-tech market could eventually grow to $1 trillion annually.

Earth to Thomas Friedman! Winning the “Earth Race” requires major federal investments in clean technology development and deployment. “If the United States hopes to compete for new clean energy industries,” we conclude in “Rising Tigers, Sleeping Giant,” “it must close the widening gap between U.S. and Asian government investments in research and innovation, manufacturing, and domestic market demand. Small, indirect and uncoordinated incentives are not sufficient to outcompete Asia’s clean tech tigers. To regain economic leadership in the global clean energy industry, U.S. energy policy must include large, direct and coordinated investments in clean technology R&D, manufacturing, deployment, and infrastructure.”

Winning the “Earth Race” also requires a national effort in high-tech energy education, and President Obama’s RE-ENERGYSE proposal is a critical first step, especially in the realm of higher education. As my colleague and I wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle, “To win today’s clean-energy race, the United States must respond with the same vigorous commitment to education and innovation that won the space race four decades ago. If America does not take immediate action to bridge its energy education gap – and if we fail to make substantially larger investments in our own clean-energy economy – we will effectively cede the clean-energy race to Asia.”

Yet instead of calling for an effort to actually strengthen the Senate bill to match what energy innovation experts say is necessary (including dozens of Nobel Laureates, Brookings Institution, Association of American Universities, Google, and others) – at least $15 billion per year for clean energy R&D, compared to $1.2 billion in the current proposal – Friedman simply calls for passing the bill in its current form. Indeed, he doesn’t seem to care whether the bill is strong enough to accomplish much of anything besides a modest price on carbon, as he explained in an op-ed after the passage of Waxman-Markey:

“It is pathetic that we couldn’t do better [than Waxman-Markey]. It is appalling that so much had to be given away to polluters. It stinks. It’s a mess. I detest it. Now let’s get it passed in the Senate and make it law.”

That is no strategy to win the “Earth Race.” Reflecting on the surge in Afghanistan, Friedman recently wrote, “China, Russia and Al Qaeda all love the idea of America doing a long, slow bleed in Afghanistan.” His point extends here as well: China, Japan, South Korea, and the rest of our competitors would love the idea of America settling on a “pathetic” bill with modest clean-tech investment and pricing.

The United States did not win the space race with a tax on airplanes. We did not invent the Internet by enforcing a cap and trade system on fax machines, nor did we create the personal computer by taxing typewriters. Those who suggest we can simply rely on indirect, market-based mechanisms to achieve a clean energy revolution – including Thomas Friedman – fail to understand the history of technology innovation and competitiveness, and they risk relegating our clean-tech industry to second-class status or worse.

Fifty years ago, in the wake of the launch of Sputnik, the United States launched a massive national effort to lead the space race and win the Cold War. Today, the clean energy race represents one of the greatest opportunities and challenges for American leadership in a generation. If we do not take immediate action to launch a national energy competitiveness project based on large, direct, and coordinated innovation policies, we will effectively cede the clean-energy industry to Asia and other competitors. The mass majority of exports, jobs, tax revenues, and other economic benefits will accrue to foreign countries, and we will miss a historic opportunity to achieve a new era of American leadership. The choice should be clear.


Visit the original post at: Energy News

1st Solar-Powered Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Station in New York City

Electric vehicles (EVs) are great, but better if you are not charging them from coal-powered electricity. Solar-powered charging stations are beginning to pop up now to address this situation. Dell headquarters in Texas planted some “solar trees” recently to charge their employees’ EVs, Chicago got its first solar-powered EV charging station in April, and now, New York just got its first one as well thanks to sustainable energy company Beautiful Earth Group.

There may be more on the horizon as well. EVs are looking to boom across the world.

Read more of this story »


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Biomass Plant to Generate 49KW of Green Electricity to 50,000 Homes


biogas resize Biomass Plant to Generate 49KW of Green Electricity to 50,000 Homes

biomass power station 1 9l9NH 69 300x156 Biomass Plant to Generate 49KW of Green Electricity to 50,000 HomesThis sustainable power plant called Heatherwick Studio is designed to run on biomass, generating about 49MW of green electric energy. The project led by Bio Energy Investments will be constructed on the banks of River Tees in Teesside. It will generate enough energy to power up to 50,000 homes and will save 140,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually through the use of carbon neutral woodchip.

biomass power station 2 f15sC 69 300x149 Biomass Plant to Generate 49KW of Green Electricity to 50,000 HomesTeesside is building a reputation as one of the leading producers of green energy in Britain and we needed an ambitious design team capable of understanding and responding to the practical complexities of the project. The studio has brought a level of design and artistic thinking rarely associated with this typology of building and we are looking forward to working with the local community in developing the plans.’ said project director Matthew Day.

Additionally, River Tees will also house another £200 million biomass power station from Gaia Power and designed by URS. The construction will start in 2010 and this project was granted planning permission earlier this year.

[Source: Architects Journal]


Visit the original post at: Energy News

Biomass Plant to Generate 49KW of Green Electricity to 50,000 Homes


biogas resize Biomass Plant to Generate 49KW of Green Electricity to 50,000 Homes

biomass power station 1 9l9NH 69 300x156 Biomass Plant to Generate 49KW of Green Electricity to 50,000 HomesThis sustainable power plant called Heatherwick Studio is designed to run on biomass, generating about 49MW of green electric energy. The project led by Bio Energy Investments will be constructed on the banks of River Tees in Teesside. It will generate enough energy to power up to 50,000 homes and will save 140,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually through the use of carbon neutral woodchip.

biomass power station 2 f15sC 69 300x149 Biomass Plant to Generate 49KW of Green Electricity to 50,000 HomesTeesside is building a reputation as one of the leading producers of green energy in Britain and we needed an ambitious design team capable of understanding and responding to the practical complexities of the project. The studio has brought a level of design and artistic thinking rarely associated with this typology of building and we are looking forward to working with the local community in developing the plans.’ said project director Matthew Day.

Additionally, River Tees will also house another £200 million biomass power station from Gaia Power and designed by URS. The construction will start in 2010 and this project was granted planning permission earlier this year.

[Source: Architects Journal]


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Hot Electrons Could Increase the Solar Cell’s Power Output


solar power resize Hot Electrons Could Increase the Solar Cell’s Power Output

solar panels HyXdG 69 300x189 Hot Electrons Could Increase the Solar Cell’s Power OutputResearchers at Boston College have developed new solar cells that successfully use hot electrons to increase the cells’ power output. According to the scientists, the concept could lead to solar cells that break conventional efficiency limits.

A research team led by Michael Naughton, a physics professor at Boston College have created an ultra-thin solar cell (15-nanometer-thick), through which hot electrons can quickly pass before cooling. In conventional, thicker solar cells, only the “cooler” lower-energy electrons that have longer wavelengths can pass through.

When a conventional solar cell absorbs a high-energy photon, it produces a hot electron that quickly loses much of its energy as heat before it can pass through the cell and be used to generate electric energy. Although solar cells can be designed to use hot electrons and absorb high-energy photons, without being able to absorb low-energy photons. But the new solar cell design, however, can absorb both types to produce more energy.

Unlike conventional solar cells that are able to convert about 35% of sunlight into electric energy, the new cells could absorb low-energy photons as well as hot electrons o convert up to 67% of sunlight energy into electricity.

[Source: Physorg]


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$5 Billion More in Clean Energy Tax Credits

In the midst of the Copenhagen negotiations last week, the White House announced a proposal to give a huge increase in tax breaks to manufacturers who produce wind, solar, geothermal, or other clean energy technologies. The goal of the tax breaks is to stimulate more job growth and promote clean energy technology more in the US.

With clean energy technology poised to become the third largest sales sector in the world, Obama and Biden realize that they must stimulate this field in the US a bit more to get the jobs that go with that growth.

In the proposal set forth by the White House on Thursday, new or expanded factories making clean energy technology (i.e. electric vehicles, solar panels, high-speed trains, and wind turbines) can get a 30% tax credit. This raises the current cap on these tax credits from $2.3 billion to $7.3 billion.

In addition to the tax credit, Obama’s proposed ‘jobs plan’ includes “increased investment in public works, small business tax cuts and incentives for homeowners who retrofit their houses to be more energy efficient.”

Congress will need to approve this jobs plan for it to go through.

Read more of this story »


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German Robot Pigs

German Robot Pigs
“What I need for this project”, I explained to my young son, “is an army of German robot pigs.” His eyes went wide. “And I know just where to get them…”

I have a project on my desk right now to look at avenues of disposal for sewage sludge in a specific location. There are lots of things you can do with sewage sludge, but it is obviously dependent on a number of factors. There are places where farmers spread it on their fields, there are places where it is incinerated, and there are places that it is land-filled. And there are other options beyond that.

In order to utilize sludge for energy, the water content is obviously critical. Too much water, and any energy you create from the sludge is lost due to the need to dry the sludge. So what I really needed in this specific case was a method of drying that could help generate net energy from the project.

Obviously you could just spread the sludge out in a sunny location, but there are many problems with that. One good rainstorm can ruin a week’s worth of drying and create a brown river to the nearest waterway. Further, as the outside layers dry, the drying slows down unless the sludge is constantly mixed.

I thought that this particular situation could benefit from a solar dryer. I am familiar with solar kilns and solar ovens, so why not a solar sludge drier? I envisioned a system like a greenhouse that allows the sludge to dry, but also ventilates and removes the moisture. Several of the functions would need to be automated if this has any hope of being economical.

So I thought “Hmm, I wonder if anyone has invented such a system.” Since about 98% of anything that I ever think of has already been invented, I Googled it. Turns out that there are lots of solar sludge driers to choose from, but one in particular caught my eye. Enter the German robot pig:

German robot pig the star of sludge drying plants

A group of young, up-and-coming German scientists in the late 1990s founded a company that today is the world leader in solar sludge drying. The star of the environmentally friendly drying process is an unusual pig that works all day without food or complaint.

What would a machine look like if it lived in the mud? Well, probably like a pig. Some 12 years ago, Tilo Conrad, together with two of his fellow students from the University of Hohenheim, built the first electrical pig, pioneering a device that is now being used as a solution to waste disposal problems throughout the world.

The stainless steel pigs, which in a sense resemble big beetles, are an important part of a larger solar drying process was patented by Thermo-System GmbH, a company Conrad founded in 1997 in Filderstadt.

Today, nearly 200 mechanical pigs do what normal pigs do: wallow in and shuffle through the mud — only these pigs do it to reduce sewer sludge disposal costs and protect the environment. Conventional drying processes use non-renewable energy, but Thermo-System’s process harvests solar power to dry the mud. It spreads the wet sewage sludge into sheds that are similar to greenhouses and puts the pigs to work.

In the sheds, the sludge absorbs heat from the solar rays and an innovative ventilation system keeps the air inside the shed warm and dry. The electrical pig, which is a fully automated robot complete with stainless steel mixing tools, tills and aerates the microbiologically active sludge, thereby accelerating the drying process. The whole system is fully automatic, uses very little energy and can be easily maintained.

Alas, another invention that someone thought of 10 years before I did. But this system really has many of the characteristics that I am looking for. Whether the economics pan out is still entirely unclear. The company does have an impressive project portfolio, though, having already built over 100 sludge-drying plants worldwide.

But one doesn’t get a chance to work with an army of German robot pigs every day, so I will continue to investigate and maybe this works out. Besides, that sounds so much more interesting than “I am working on sewage sludge.”



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McClellan Products, Inc. receives $500,000 from the State of Georgia.
Artesia, Calif.—McClellan Products, Inc. A privately held corporation that designs, builds and manages solar and wind farms, sells commercial and residential wind and solar solutions, today announces that it has been awarded a $500,000 grant rebate for a 995kw solar project in Georgia.
Visit the original post at: Renewable Energy News – RenewableEnergyWorld.com

McClellan Power & Energy Agrees to purchase 25 Megawatts of solar panels from Phono Solar
Artesia, Calif.—McClellan Power & Energy (MP&E), a division of McClellan Products, Inc. A privately held corporation that designs, builds and manages solar and wind farms, sells commercial and residential wind and solar solutions, today announces an agreement with Phono Solar Technology Co. LTD. the United States a SUMEC Group Company, to purchase 25 megawatts of solar panels.
Visit the original post at: Renewable Energy News – RenewableEnergyWorld.com

McClellan Power & Energy Agrees to purchase 25 Megawatts of solar panels from Phono Solar
Artesia, Calif.—McClellan Power & Energy (MP&E), a division of McClellan Products, Inc. A privately held corporation that designs, builds and manages solar and wind farms, sells commercial and residential wind and solar solutions, today announces an agreement with Phono Solar Technology Co. LTD. the United States a SUMEC Group Company, to purchase 25 megawatts of solar panels.
Visit the original post at: Renewable Energy News – RenewableEnergyWorld.com

McClellan Power & Energy Agrees to purchase 25 Megawatts of solar panels from Phono Solar
Artesia, Calif.—McClellan Power & Energy (MP&E), a division of McClellan Products, Inc. A privately held corporation that designs, builds and manages solar and wind farms, sells commercial and residential wind and solar solutions, today announces an agreement with Phono Solar Technology Co. LTD. the United States a SUMEC Group Company, to purchase 25 megawatts of solar panels.
Visit the original post at: Renewable Energy News – RenewableEnergyWorld.com

McClellan Power & Energy Agrees to purchase 25 Megawatts of solar panels from Phono Solar
Artesia, Calif.—McClellan Power & Energy (MP&E), a division of McClellan Products, Inc. A privately held corporation that designs, builds and manages solar and wind farms, sells commercial and residential wind and solar solutions, today announces an agreement with Phono Solar Technology Co. LTD. the United States a SUMEC Group Company, to purchase 25 megawatts of solar panels.
Visit the original post at: Renewable Energy News – RenewableEnergyWorld.com

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