Archive for June 27th, 2010

California Utilities Make Progress on 20% by 2010



California’s utilities generated 15.4% of their energy from renewables in 2009, up from 13% in 2008, according to the CPUC quarterly report. If demand had remained constant, the percentage would have been 18%, but some small hydro decreases, increases in consumer demand, and the end of some renewable contracts cut into the percentage.

Although the deadline is 2010 for 20% renewable, the utilities have an extension till 2013 to get their utility-scale projects actually switched on. All three have signed contracts for well over that amount.

Even as the deadline for getting to 20% closes, the three utilities, PG&E, SCE and SDG&E also requested approval of more than 50 additional renewable power contracts before the end of the year, twice as much as they have requested in prior years. These would likely not make the 2013 deadline, but will contribute towards the supply of renewable power by 2020. (more…)


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India’s Coal Tax Would Generate $650 Million Annually for the Clean Energy Fund

The Indian government has decided to levy the Clean Energy Cess, or coal tax, on all the coal mined in the country or imported from July 1, 2010. The energy cess was announced by the finance minister Mr. Pranab Mukherjee in this year’s union budget which presented in February.

The Indian government announced the coal tax in order to generate funding for the research, development and deployment of cleaner and renewable energy technologies. A tax of Rs. 50 would be levied on every tonne of coal mined in the country as well as that imported from abroad.

As of April 1 2009, India’s coal reserves stood at 267 billion tonnes. There has been a steady increase in the coal production over the years. The government has a target of mining 461 million tonnes in 2007-08 as against the actual production of 430 million tonnes in 2006-07. Thus the domestic coal mining sector would contribute about $500 million annually while the rest $150 million would be contributed through the import of coal in order to fulfill the demand of 600 million tonnes. (more…)


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U.S. Utility Industry Gets Serious about Solar Energy

The Electric Power Research Institute has installed a photovoltaic research system on its roofThe Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) represents about 90% of the electricity generated in the U.S., so it was a significant move when this nonprofit research organization entered a partnership with the Solar Technology Acceleration Center in May.  Well, they certainly haven’t let any grass grow under their feet.  This week, EPRI announced that it will install a 187-kilowatt photovoltaic research system on a roof in its headquarters.  The project is scheduled to be completed within two months, and it will be the second largest in EPRI’s home city of Palo Alto, California.

An executive from SolarCity, the solar system installer, says that the company’s goal “is to make solar a more widely used source of U.S. electricity generation.”  The partnership with EPRI will go a long way to fulfilling that goal. Aside from offsetting a little over 10% of the institutes’s power usage, the installation will perform real-time data collection to help assess the impact of weather variations on a solar array, and to assess their effect on the distribution grid.  But wait, there’s more…

(more…)


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Research: Postponing 5 O’Clock Tea By 1 Hour Could Offer Huge CO2 Savings
You surely remember how it’s like in winter: you wake up, it’s dark, you turn the lights on. When you go to work, there’s finally more light, but when you return at around 5, say, it’s dark again, and you feel like you’ve been missing the whole day. But that’s not the point. The idea is that you consume much more electricity and resources if your schedule doesn’t match the daylight.


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The Secret to Biodiversity is in the Soil
Photoshop may be the top secret in this image, but new scientific evidence shows that the secret to true biodiversity is in the soil image
Image: Photoshop Top Secret, via Flickr

Mankind has long been fascinated by biodiversity, even imagining species beyond the natural realm. We have learned to appreciate the value of biodiversity by enjoying the variety in nature, and by benefiting from products derived from many different species. But did you ever wonder why there is so much diversity on our planet? If “survival of the fittest” is the r… Read the full story on TreeHugger
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Local Green Fashion Makeover with TreeHugger Favorites Bodkin, Study NY, Stella McCartney, and More (Photos)
suno study bodkin photo
Eco-fashion photo shoot (vest, Suno; bustier, Bodkin; necklaces, Study NY). Image courtesy of Jamie Beck

If you’re a fan of green fashion and makeovers, you’ll like this one: Fashion me Green (FMG) is a project that gives green fashion makeovers to “style influencers.” The FMG team travels to the fashion capitals of the world–we hope they offset their flights–and hones in on local sustainable fashion designers and fashionable muses to model the ethical threads. This past week they ca… Read the full story on TreeHugger
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Report: Toyota To Supply Fuji Heavy With Subcompacts for Subaru

The Nikkei reports that Toyota Motor Corp. will supply small cars on an OEM basis to Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., the maker of Subarus, in which Toyota holds a 16.5% stake (earlier post), starting as early as this fall. This would be the first time that Toyota would provide finished vehicles to another Japanese automaker.

The move will allow Toyota to increase factory operating rates, while Fuji Heavy will be able to focus on midsize vehicles, the report said.

Toyota is expected to supply the Ractis subcompact, which is available with a 1.3- or 1.5-liter engine. It will likely make some slight modifications to the vehicles destined for its partner when the Ractis goes through a full remodeling. About 10,000 units will likely be shipped to Fuji Heavy a year.

…[Fuji Heavy] decided to receive subcompacts from Toyota on the view that demand for such low-priced, fuel-efficient vehicles will grow. The current Subaru lineup does not include any 1.3- to 1.5-liter models…Toyota and Fuji Heavy intend to release a jointly developed sports car under their respective brands as early as the end of 2011. Plans also call for Toyota to provide technologies for hybrid vehicles.


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Study Finds Upgrading of Palm Shell Bio-oil to Higher Value Fuel Hydrocarbons Economically Viable

A team from University Technology Petronas—established in 1997 when the Malaysian government invited its national oil company Petronas to set up a university—has found that the upgrading of bio-oil resulting from the pyrolysis of palm shell via hydrodeoxygenation into higher value fuel hydrocarbons can be economically viable.

Their simulation study was published in the American Journal of Applied Sciences.

By assuming the feedstock used was 1% of the total palm shell available in Malaysia, i.e., 2,587 kg h-1 bio-oil, the simulation predicted the

production of 226 kg h-1 benzene, 236 kg h-1 cyclohexane and 7 kg h-1 cyclohexene, with the yield of

34, 81 and 3% respectively. The preliminary economic potential was calculated to be positive. It was

also observed that hydrogen was the limiting reactant in the hydrogenation reaction.

The simulation study indicated positive technical and economic

feasibility of hydrodeoxygenation of pyrolytic bio-oil from biomass into benzene and cyclohexane for the transportation fuel industry. This potential can be explored in more details and further findings can promote the prospect of co-processing bio-oil in standard refinery units to produce chemicals and

fuels.

—Ahmad et al.

Resources


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Biomass-to-Gasoline Company Considering Additional Plant in Montana

CORE BioFuel Inc., a Canadian biofuel company that is

commercializing a biomass-to-gasoline production process, will

pursue an additional production facility to be possibly located in northwest Montana.

We are pleased with our progress in

developing our demonstration production facility in British Columbia and we are now seeking potential

sites for additional licensee facilities in those areas of the United States where beetle killed timber is

readily available.

—Don Sigler, Chief

Financial Officer and resident of Whitefish, Montana

CORE’s patent-pending MKS (Melnichuk-Kelly-Stanko) Gasoline Synthesis Process is a thermochemical process combining gasification and catalysts to produce an essentially carbon-neutral 92 octane gasoline (Zero Fossil Input (ZFI) Gasoline), according to the company.

Incoming biomass is chipped and dried to the desired moisture content. The dried wood chips are fed into a gasifier where they are converted to a synthesis gas and inert ash. The synthesis gas is then processed through a series of catalytic steps, with the end products being gasoline and distilled water. Conventional heat exchangers and steam turbines are used throughout the plant to produce sufficient electricity to operate the facility.

The Houston, British Columbia demonstration plant will produce approximately 18 million gallons of gasoline, 6 million gallons of distilled water, and will generate its own electric power.

CORE’s feedstock utilizes both beetle-killed timber and timber slash which has traditionally been burned in the field. Current estimates there are more than 40 million acres of beetle killed timber in British Columbia and the infestation has affected over 5 million acres in Montana.

(In another approach to using beetle-killed timber as a biofuel feedstock, California-based Cobalt Technologies, has successfully produced biobutanol from beetle-killed lodgepole pine using a non-enzymatic pretreatment process derived from the pulp and paper industry to release the C5 and C6 sugars from the pine, followed by fermentation with Cobalt’s optimized bacteria. (Earlier post.)


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UN IPCC Selects 831 Authors for Fifth Assessment Report

The UN IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) last week released the final list of 831 selected Coordinating Lead Authors, Lead Authors and Review

Editors for the three Working Group (WG) Reports of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) to be published between 2013

and 2014. These experts will also provide contributions to the Synthesis Report to be published in 2014.

  • WG I focuses on the physical science basis and will include 258 experts.
  • WG II assesses the impacts,

    adaptation strategies and vulnerability related to climate change and will involve 302 experts.

  • WG III covers mitigation response strategies in an integrated risk and uncertainty framework and its assessments will be carried out by 271 experts.

In March 2010, the IPCC received approximately 3,000 nominations. At the Bureau session held in Geneva, 19-20 May 2010, the three working groups presented their selected authors and review editors for the AR5. Each of the selected scientists, specialists and experts was nominated in accordance with IPCC procedures, by respective national IPCC Focal-Points, by approved observer organizations, or by the Bureau.

The IPCC said that in its selection of authors, it gave particular attention to relevant expertise to ensure that author teams consist of leading experts in the respective fields with a range of scientific views

on climate change.

The 831 individuals are drawn from fields including meteorology, physics,

oceanography, statistics, engineering, ecology, social sciences and economics. In selecting the author teams the IPCC stressed the need for regional and gender balance and recognized the importance of involving new and younger authors.

In comparison to the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), participation from developing countries has been increased reflecting the on-going efforts to improve regional coverage in the AR5. About 30% of authors will come from developing countries or economies in transition. The proportion of female experts, has significantly increased since the AR4, reaching approximately 25% of the selected

authors. More than 60% of the experts chosen are new to the IPCC process, which will bring in new knowledge and perspectives.

The IPCC received 50% more nominations of experts to participate in AR5 than it did for AR4. A total of 559 authors and review editors had been selected for AR4 from 2,000 proposed nominees.


Visit the original post at: Transportation News

UN IPCC Selects 831 Authors for Fifth Assessment Report

The UN IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) last week released the final list of 831 selected Coordinating Lead Authors, Lead Authors and Review

Editors for the three Working Group (WG) Reports of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) to be published between 2013

and 2014. These experts will also provide contributions to the Synthesis Report to be published in 2014.

  • WG I focuses on the physical science basis and will include 258 experts.
  • WG II assesses the impacts,

    adaptation strategies and vulnerability related to climate change and will involve 302 experts.

  • WG III covers mitigation response strategies in an integrated risk and uncertainty framework and its assessments will be carried out by 271 experts.

In March 2010, the IPCC received approximately 3,000 nominations. At the Bureau session held in Geneva, 19-20 May 2010, the three working groups presented their selected authors and review editors for the AR5. Each of the selected scientists, specialists and experts was nominated in accordance with IPCC procedures, by respective national IPCC Focal-Points, by approved observer organizations, or by the Bureau.

The IPCC said that in its selection of authors, it gave particular attention to relevant expertise to ensure that author teams consist of leading experts in the respective fields with a range of scientific views

on climate change.

The 831 individuals are drawn from fields including meteorology, physics,

oceanography, statistics, engineering, ecology, social sciences and economics. In selecting the author teams the IPCC stressed the need for regional and gender balance and recognized the importance of involving new and younger authors.

In comparison to the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), participation from developing countries has been increased reflecting the on-going efforts to improve regional coverage in the AR5. About 30% of authors will come from developing countries or economies in transition. The proportion of female experts, has significantly increased since the AR4, reaching approximately 25% of the selected

authors. More than 60% of the experts chosen are new to the IPCC process, which will bring in new knowledge and perspectives.

The IPCC received 50% more nominations of experts to participate in AR5 than it did for AR4. A total of 559 authors and review editors had been selected for AR4 from 2,000 proposed nominees.


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EcoFabulous Prefab House Up For Auction Today
reclaimed-space-house.jpg
This diminutive domicile features fully-equipped indoor and outdoor designs. Photos by RCruger

A one-of-a-kind, cozy green designer home was unveiled Friday at the 2010 Dwell on Design conference in Los Angeles. It’s up for sale – fully loaded – at an incredible price (last I checked on the eBay auction, it was only $65,000). Plus proceeds benefit Global Green USA. More than a dozen people took a tour of the 400-square-foot modular house built by Reclaimed Space with 80-90% salvaged mate… Read the full story on TreeHugger
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sustainablog Approved: Products for Eco-Frugal Living from Practecol

This remote control surge strip is just one of Practecol's eco-frugal products

This remote control surge strip is just one of Practecol’s eco-frugal products

Green is expensive, right? Unfortunately, those of us in the eco-blogging space have tended to foster that impression: we just love to discuss the latest advances in solar panels*, or the cutting edge in energy-efficient appliances*. So, we worried when the Great Recession hit: would this mean a downturn in the growing green consciousness we’d seen blooming earlier in the decade as consumers sought immediately cheaper products?

Fortunately, most consumers (and many retailers) got at least one part of the green message: greater efficiency almost always means lower costs. The sale of products like CFLs tends to bear this out: people recognized that, even though these bulbs cost a little more upfront, the savings they’d recognize over the life of the product made buying them a no-brainer. Green didn’t go away as the economy headed South; rather, many consumers embraced “eco-frugality” as a means of living their green values while minding a much leaner pocketbook.

Practecol is a new, St. Louis-based company hoping to expand on this trend. The company’s line of eco-frugal products launched in Target stores today, and while none may be as green-geek-sexy as nano-engineered solar thin film, they all provide means for environmentally-concerned consumers to start cutting their ecological footprint… without any visits to a loan officer. The complete product line consists of:

  • 4 Line Retractable Clothesline: Save $40/year by using a clothesline and reducing dryer usage.
  • Dryer Balls: Save $20/year with dryer balls that lift clothes and circulate heat to reduce drying time.
  • Motion Activated Light Socket Adapter: Save $7/year by using this automatic adapter that turns off lights when no motion is detected.
  • Simple Switch Outlet Adapter: Save $40/year by flipping the switch on the outlet to eliminate standby power to any outlet.
  • Energy Monitor: Save $40/year with this monitor indicates how cost to keep electronics plugged-in. Once you know how much the energy costs, we think you’ll make small and big changes in your household.
  • Remote Control Outlet Adaptor: Save $40/year by pressing the remote control to eliminate standby power to any outlet.
  • Remote Control 8 Outlet Surge Strip: Save $84/year by cutting all power to devices plugged into the surge strip and eliminate wasted standby power.
  • Foot Switch 6 Outlet Surge Protector: Save $84/year by cutting standby power to power sucking electronics with an easy to use foot switch.
  • Shower Water Meter: Save $39/year by decreasing shower time when the alarm signals your shower time limit.
  • Perfect Flush: Save $17/year by adding the perfect flush in your toilet tank and reducing water used per flush.
  • Refrigerator Kit: Save $38/year by getting your refrigerator set for optimal performance with the coil brush and temperature monitor.

The company sent me samples of everything… with traveling last week, I’ve only gotten to test out the dryer balls (which work very well). I’m already making plans for the perfect places to plug in various surge strips, and which room is perfect for the motion-activated light, though.

I did have time, however, to get some questions off to company president Andrew Sharon. He got right back to me… here’s our email Q&A:

Practecol’s President Discusses Eco-Frugal Living, and Running a Green Business with sustainablog

Jeff McIntire-Strasburg: Practecol’s mission statement includes a focus on “consistently [adopting] green manufacturing practices.” What can you tell us about current manufacturing practices and processes? Have you, or do you plan to, conduct lifecycle assessments of your product line?

Andrew Sharon: As often as we can infuse green practices we do so. Our entire product line has been designed for end-of-life recycling. We have not conducted lifecycle assessments to date, but it is a good idea and we plan on doing so in the not too distant future. We are looking at all aspects of the inputs to our products including their substrates, how “fall off” is being used, using recycled substances whenever possible, printing with soy based inks, using soy as our base material for foam insulation, leveraging low VOC sealants…

JM-S: When I first saw your product line, I immediately thought “this seems like a really Midwestern approach to sustainability” (and that’s a good thing, in my opinion). Though you note that the “eco-frugal” lifestyle is national phenomenon, how much of the company’s mission stems from its Midwestern roots, and the notion of “practicality” often associated with the region?

AS: It’s truly hard to say where one leaves off and the other begins.  I think the rapid ascension in popularity of CFL light bulbs is our best guide on the national eco-frugal tendencies.  We all want to do the best we can for the environment – and we all would like to save money.  When those two things are aligned, the price points for entry are attainable, and the execution is simple, we have a winning proposition that everyone can implement.

JM-S: Your website has just launched. What can you share with us about your plans to incorporate web and social media into marketing, branding, and customer acquisition and loyalty?

AS: We have a robust online presence.  We are currently on Facebook and Twitter and hope to generate a lot of public support to do just what you outline.  We take social media very seriously and know that it is the way a large percent of our country gets their information, news and product referrals.  We hope our efforts and products are rewarded with positive reviews and strong referrals.  It’s something we can each do for one another – educate each other about how to save natural resources and money at the same time.

JM-S: Though “green” has become fairly mainstream, what do you and Practecol think you’d still like to (or need to) teach consumers about sustainability?

AS: That with the right tools and simple changes, we can have a material impact on our planet.  That lighting (CFL area) only accounts for 11% of your homes total energy spend and our products help you address the other 89%.  Saving money and preserving natural resources can be simple with the right kind of help.

JM-S: On your packaging and website, you mention the sustainability benefits of your products. In what other ways is Practecol a “green” company? What kinds of green practices have you instituted for day-to-day operations?

AS: An easy example of how far we’ve taken green practices is in our choice of fulfillment locations.  We have chosen to distribute products out of a limestone mine turned cave on the Mississippi river.  This cave requires no additional HVAC and therefore has a much lower carbon footprint than most facilities.

While the products have hit Target stores today, they don’t yet appear at Target.com… as soon as they do, we’ll also have them available through the Green Choice product comparison engine to complement our other selections of low-cost, efficient products such as retractable clotheslines, water-saving shower heads, energy-saving light bulbs, and programmable thermostats.

*Links to pages in sustainablog’s Green Choices product comparison engine.

Image credit: Practecol


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Englert Building Integrated Solar Thermal, PV and Rainwater Harvesting

The folks at Englert have a novel system that integrates a solar thermal system with their standing seam metal roofs (up to 35 year warranty), and offers a PV option. Produce your solar heated water for heating (hydronic) and domestic hot water, produce grid tied power, and harvest rain water for toilet, laundry and irrigation. Check out their system at Englert Environmental.

What we do on the roof is important because what happens below the roof is critical. More than a decade ago, we began imagining the roofing systems architects, builders and homeowners could use to face their most common environmental challenges.

Imagine a roofing system that protects your home or building, keeping it cool in summer, warm in winter and providing all the hot water and electricity you require.

Now envision a roofing system that captures 95 percent of its rainwater runoff, channels it through a debris-proof gutter system and deposits it in a rainwater harvesting tank for immediate use.

Today Englert Environmental is a leading provider of renewable energy solutions where metal roofing and gutters systems play a critical role in collecting solar energy and harvesting rainwater.

Partnering with key technology and service providers, including the foremost photovoltaic, inverter and mounting solution providers and the nation’s principal source of commercial and residential rain water harvesting systems, Englert provides world leading, best-of-breed technology, products and services.

©2010 Green-Trust.Org. All Rights Reserved.

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Related posts:

  1. Harvesting Rainwater
  2. The International Rainwater Harvesting Alliance
  3. Rain Water Harvesting, Storage, and Filtration


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