Archive for June 12th, 2010

Minnesota asks drivers to brake for turtles
Why did the turtle cross the road?

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Visit the original post at: MSNBC.com: Environment

Bright Summer Shoes Pair Recycled Car Tires + Vibrant Colors (Photos)
osborn shoes photo
Courtesy photo.

When it comes to footwear aesthetic I love the bright, bold, and beautiful–and sustainable design, of course! New York-based Osborn Design, makers of fair trade shoes made in Guatamala from African Kente cloth, recycled clothing, and handwoven Guatemalan fabrics, has collaborated with fashion label Boxing Kitten, known for their use of vibrant African wax block print fabrics, on a limited-edition shoe for summer–sure to brighten up your toots… Read the full story on TreeHugger
Visit the original post at: TreeHugger

Bright Summer Shoes Pair Recycled Car Tires + Vibrant Colors (Photos)
osborn shoes photo
Courtesy photo.

When it comes to footwear aesthetic I love the bright, bold, and beautiful–and sustainable design, of course! New York-based Osborn Design, makers of fair trade shoes made in Guatamala from African Kente cloth, recycled clothing, and handwoven Guatemalan fabrics, has collaborated with fashion label Boxing Kitten, known for their use of vibrant African wax block print fabrics, on a limited-edition shoe for summer–sure to brighten up your toots… Read the full story on TreeHugger
Visit the original post at: TreeHugger

Nipton, California: A Truly Solar City

Nipton, California: A Truly Solar City

Some cities are just so big that it’s hard to make a noticeable dent in their capacity for pollution and fossil-fueled energy. But it’s not for lack of trying. A city like San Francisco can have nearly 2,000 solar power installations and still only get a small percentage of its electricity from solar. San Francisco, and the Bay Area in general, are like a Mecca for solar power, from Silicon Valley to Berkeley to Alcatraz Island. But it’s in the tiny town of Nipton, California that we see a true solar makeover today.

nipton solar power

Nipton announced on Thursday that it had installed enough solar power to supply a staggering 85 percent of the town’s demand for electricity. Okay, so this little town on the edge of the Mojave National Preserve has a population of 38 people, but it still may be the nation’s most solar-powered city per capita. And they’re doing it with some cutting-edge technology.

The town installed an 85-kilowatt concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) system in which rows of mirrors collect and focus solar energy onto solar cells. This increases the productivity from each solar cell by maximizing the amount of solar irradiance each receives. The mirrors and PV cells are ground-mounted and use a tracking system to follow the sun as it traverses the sky each day.

Skyline Solar is the company that designed and produced Nipton’s solar system. That design resembles parabolic trough solar thermal collectors operating on larger solar farms elsewhere in the Mojave Desert region. Many of those projects, however, remain mired in environmental controversy, while CPV projects like Nipton’s can be built in close proximity to the town and plugged directly into the grid, avoiding the high cost of constructing new transmission lines.

Concentrating photovoltaics had been a niche technology until recently due to high costs. But the continuing fall of solar panel and equipment prices is making CPV a valid option for large-scale projects. Nipton’s array may not be even close to the largest in the Mojave, but with an 85-kW array and a population of 38, each sunny day, the town produces approximately 2 kW of clean solar power for every resident. Even in tourist season, when Nipton’s population soars to about 250, that’s still about 1 kW for every three people. What other town can boast either ratio?

Source: Grist


Visit the original post at: Solar Power News

Do you live in one of the top solar cities in California?

Top California Solar Cities and CountiesEveryone knows California is a great state for solar.  But, California is a big state, made up of many counties and even more cities.  Do you know which cities and counties are the top places for California home solar power?

The California Solar Initiative, part of the Go Solar California campaign started in 2007, keeps track of the home solar power systems installed in California (excluding data from municipal utilities, which aren’t part of the CSI), but this dataset is enormous and hard to decipher.  But, we here at SunRun think being able to understand home solar growth is important.  That’s why we’ve taken comprehensive data from the California Solar Initiative and made it more accessible and easier to understand.  SunRun’s ranked the top California solar cities and counties, based on the number of solar homes added in 2010 to May.  We also have an additional page for the top solar cities in Orange County.  We’ll continue to update these pages over time so please check back frequently!

Here are some fast facts about the top CA solar cities and counties.

The Top Three Solar Counties in California

  1. San Diego – 1,091 solar homes added in 2010 through May
  2. Santa Clara - 683 solar homes added in 2010 through May
  3. Los Angeles - 627 solar homes added in 2010 through May

The Top Three Solar Cities in California

  1. San Diego - 364 solar homes added in 2010 through May
  2. San Jose – 280 solar homes added in 2010 through May
  3. Bakersfield - 239 solar homes added in 2010 through May

The Top Three Solar Cities in Orange County, California

  1. Santa Ana - 47 solar homes added in 2010 through May
  2. Huntington Beach - 45 solar homes added in 2010 through May
  3. Yorba Linda - 37 solar homes added in 2010 through May

Does your city or county make the cut? Check out our California Solar Initiative Top Solar Cities and Top Solar Counties page to see if your neighborhood is leading the way in California’s solar growth!


Visit the original post at: Solar Power News

Five Positive Notes on Next-Generation Biofuels

Join the forum discussion on this post

In the previous essay, I discussed some of the challenges that next-generation biofuels face according to a recently released USDA report:

Next-Generation Biofuels: Near-Term Challenges and Implications for Agriculture

Here are five positive notes from the report:

1. Renewable Diesel Plant Capacity

“Next-generation U.S. biofuel capacity should reach about 88 million gallons in 2010…” This is primarily a result of the expected start-up of a next-generation renewable diesel plant. I have reported on this technology before, as well as the efforts of first-generation biodiesel producers to slow it down and protect their own interests. My guess is that unlike the ConocoPhillips project that was killed after Congress voted to deny them the full tax credit, this project will receive the same tax credit as a conventional biodiesel producer. On a level playing field, I believe the hydrocracking approach is superior to first generation biodiesel, but our political leaders will need to stop playing games with the tax credits in order for next generation diesel to realize its potential. (For a complete explanation of the different kinds of renewable diesel, see my Renewable Diesel Primer).


2. Competitive Race

Companies are taking a number of different approaches to coming up with next-generation solutions, increasing the chances that a dark horse will arise as a contender: “There are about 30 next-generation companies in the United States developing biochemical, thermochemical, and other approaches, and experimenting with a variety of feedstocks, some of which are directly linked to agriculture..”


3. Open for Business

The first next-generation plants are expected to come online in 2010: “Range Fuels and Dynamic Fuels are expected to complete the first commercial next-generation biofuel plants in 2010.” I have certainly given Range Fuels a hard time over their public statements – especially in light of recent reports which this USDA report also flagged: “According to the EPA, however, the plant’s initial capacity has been reduced from 10 million to 4 million gallons per year and initial output will be methanol.” However, readers should not mistake my position as hoping that they fail. To the contrary, I hope they succeed, because we are going to need a lot of successes. I am just skeptical that they will, and unhappy that they sucked up a lot of taxpayer funds based on their initial promises that clearly did not materialize.

I would further note, however, that Range Fuels and Dynamic Fuels may be the first U.S. plants that could be classified as next-generation commercial plants (although as I have pointed out, we had commercial cellulosic ethanol plants in the U.S. by 1920), but such plants do already exist overseas. Neste Oil, in fact, has built several plants based on the same sort of technology that Dynamic Fuels is employing. There are also other overseas companies doing gasification (the Range approach) that are further along than Range is.


4. Algae Research

Just as there are many different approaches to next-generation fuels, there are many companies taking many different approaches to producing fuel from algae: “More than 30 U.S. companies currently are experimenting with different approaches to producing algae-based fuels.” Some of these approaches are unconventional: “Although the majority of algae-to-biofuel companies are focusing on producing algae oil for traditional biodiesel production, some companies are using algae to produce ethanol (Algenol), or petroleum-equivalent fuels (UOP and Sapphire).” The challenge of course will be to drastically reduce production costs, but the potential is too great to ignore.


5. Production Costs Decrease

Both production and capital costs for cellulosic ethanol are falling. The report noted “POET recently reported it had lowered production costs for cellulosic ethanol, including capital expenses, from $4.13 to $2.35 per gallon in a year as of November 2009 at its South Dakota pilot plant.” The report further notes that estimates for a 100 million gallon cellulosic ethanol facility have fallen from the $650 million to $900 million range (2004 estimate) to $320 million (2009 estimate). However, the report notes that this estimates should still be considered speculative, since “there are no actual cost data for commercial operations since none are yet operational.”

As a body of work, I highly recommend you read the USDA report if you are interested in the status of next generation biofuel facilities. It is a sober, objective assessment of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead as next generation fuel technologies continue to develop.



Visit the original post at: Energy News

Five Positive Notes on Next-Generation Biofuels

Join the forum discussion on this post

In the previous essay, I discussed some of the challenges that next-generation biofuels face according to a recently released USDA report:

Next-Generation Biofuels: Near-Term Challenges and Implications for Agriculture

Here are five positive notes from the report:

1. Renewable Diesel Plant Capacity

“Next-generation U.S. biofuel capacity should reach about 88 million gallons in 2010…” This is primarily a result of the expected start-up of a next-generation renewable diesel plant. I have reported on this technology before, as well as the efforts of first-generation biodiesel producers to slow it down and protect their own interests. My guess is that unlike the ConocoPhillips project that was killed after Congress voted to deny them the full tax credit, this project will receive the same tax credit as a conventional biodiesel producer. On a level playing field, I believe the hydrocracking approach is superior to first generation biodiesel, but our political leaders will need to stop playing games with the tax credits in order for next generation diesel to realize its potential. (For a complete explanation of the different kinds of renewable diesel, see my Renewable Diesel Primer).


2. Competitive Race

Companies are taking a number of different approaches to coming up with next-generation solutions, increasing the chances that a dark horse will arise as a contender: “There are about 30 next-generation companies in the United States developing biochemical, thermochemical, and other approaches, and experimenting with a variety of feedstocks, some of which are directly linked to agriculture..”


3. Open for Business

The first next-generation plants are expected to come online in 2010: “Range Fuels and Dynamic Fuels are expected to complete the first commercial next-generation biofuel plants in 2010.” I have certainly given Range Fuels a hard time over their public statements – especially in light of recent reports which this USDA report also flagged: “According to the EPA, however, the plant’s initial capacity has been reduced from 10 million to 4 million gallons per year and initial output will be methanol.” However, readers should not mistake my position as hoping that they fail. To the contrary, I hope they succeed, because we are going to need a lot of successes. I am just skeptical that they will, and unhappy that they sucked up a lot of taxpayer funds based on their initial promises that clearly did not materialize.

I would further note, however, that Range Fuels and Dynamic Fuels may be the first U.S. plants that could be classified as next-generation commercial plants (although as I have pointed out, we had commercial cellulosic ethanol plants in the U.S. by 1920), but such plants do already exist overseas. Neste Oil, in fact, has built several plants based on the same sort of technology that Dynamic Fuels is employing. There are also other overseas companies doing gasification (the Range approach) that are further along than Range is.


4. Algae Research

Just as there are many different approaches to next-generation fuels, there are many companies taking many different approaches to producing fuel from algae: “More than 30 U.S. companies currently are experimenting with different approaches to producing algae-based fuels.” Some of these approaches are unconventional: “Although the majority of algae-to-biofuel companies are focusing on producing algae oil for traditional biodiesel production, some companies are using algae to produce ethanol (Algenol), or petroleum-equivalent fuels (UOP and Sapphire).” The challenge of course will be to drastically reduce production costs, but the potential is too great to ignore.


5. Production Costs Decrease

Both production and capital costs for cellulosic ethanol are falling. The report noted “POET recently reported it had lowered production costs for cellulosic ethanol, including capital expenses, from $4.13 to $2.35 per gallon in a year as of November 2009 at its South Dakota pilot plant.” The report further notes that estimates for a 100 million gallon cellulosic ethanol facility have fallen from the $650 million to $900 million range (2004 estimate) to $320 million (2009 estimate). However, the report notes that this estimates should still be considered speculative, since “there are no actual cost data for commercial operations since none are yet operational.”

As a body of work, I highly recommend you read the USDA report if you are interested in the status of next generation biofuel facilities. It is a sober, objective assessment of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead as next generation fuel technologies continue to develop.



Visit the original post at: Energy News

Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Industries Join Call to Increase Clean Energy Investment

Visit the original post at: Renewable Energy News – RenewableEnergyWorld.com

US Solar Academy Picks NST to Manage Solar PV and Thermal Curriculums

Visit the original post at: Renewable Energy News – RenewableEnergyWorld.com

Emerson Wins Contract to Modernize 100 Hydro Units in Ukraine
Emerson Process Management has been awarded a $28 million contract to control, protect and monitor 100 hydro units of the Dnipro hydroelectric complex for OJSC UkrHydroEnegro (UHE) – the main hydropower generating company of Ukraine.
Visit the original post at: Renewable Energy News – RenewableEnergyWorld.com

New World’s Largest Airship ‘Stratellite’
stratellite

In a further sign that airships are making a comeback, the first model of what is now the world’s largest airship has been recently launched. The Bullet 580 measures 235 feet (more than 71 meters) in length, more than 40 feet longer than the Goodyear blimp (though not nearly as large as airships of the past such as the Hindenburg or the USS Macon).

Compared to heavier-than-air aircraft, airships are relatively slow, lumbering vehicles. But what they lack in speed they can more than make up for in the time they are able to stay aloft. At present, the Bullet 580 can stay aloft for more than 48 hours, and it is expected it will eventually be able to remain in flight for more than a week. The Bullet 580 can fly at faster than lumbering speeds, as well – it can go up to 80 mph (129 kph) and has a cruising speed of 35 to 40 mph (55 to 65 kph).

The ability to stay in the air for long periods of time is useful for both military as well as civilian uses. A high-altitude airship acting as a ‘stratellite’ fills a gap between conventional aircraft and satellites. The airship is orders of magnitude less expensive to launch than a satellite would be. It is capable of carrying a payload of up to 2000 pounds (905 kg) to an altitude of 20,000 feet (6,100 meters). Applications for such long-duration airships include use for surveilance in defense and security applications, survey of natural resources, agriculture, and forest fires, and telecommunications.

The Bullet 580 is expected to have a price of roughly $8 million.

via: MNN


Visit the original post at: EcoGeek.org

Motricity Stock Offered in IPO to Raise Money for Investments, Acquisitions
Motricity, a mobile data solutions company, expects to have an Initial Public Offering of its stock next week.
Visit the original post at: TMCnet-News

Motricity Stock Offered in IPO to Raise Money for Investments, Acquisitions
Motricity, a mobile data solutions company, expects to have an Initial Public Offering of its stock next week.
Visit the original post at: TMCnet-News

Google Reviews Recent Outage in Datastore for Apps Engine
Approximately 2 percent of applications on Google’s Apps Engine were affected by a May 25, 2010 outage in the datastore – which is part of the platform that Google Apps Engine provides to developers.
Visit the original post at: TMCnet-News

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