Archive for October 5th, 2010

Solar power proves steady investment for Janesville man

From an article by Frank Schultz in the Janesville Press Gazette:

JANESVILLE — So you want to invest.

Stock? Too wobbly.

Interest at the banks? Scant.

A rural Janesville man has found an investment that appears to work in any economy: the sun.

The sun, which is not expected to burn out for billions of years, spills massive amounts of energy onto the Earth every day. It also puts cash into Chuck Niles’ pocket.

Niles, a retired General Motors worker, said he’s been thinking about solar power for 25 years. He got serious about it three years ago when he learned that improvements in solar technology have reduced the cost per watt considerably.

Then he heard about government programs that provide huge discounts in startup costs.

Here’s how Niles does the math:

The 90 panels on the roof of Niles’ pole barn and nearby shed on Murray Road south of Janesville cost $130,410, installation included.

A federal program known as Section 1603 of the Recovery Act paid him $39,600. The state Focus on Energy program paid him $32,603.

Niles uses about $35 worth of electricity a month in the barn. The rest goes to Alliant Energy, which pays him monthly. The checks vary with sunshine, but Niles estimates conservatively that the checks will average around $440 a month.

In the meantime, Niles is also getting a federal income-tax break from the depreciation on his investment.

When all the costs and benefits are accounted for, Niles figures his payback period is just five years. He figures his return on investment is about 12 percent.


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Solar power proves steady investment for Janesville man

From an article by Frank Schultz in the Janesville Press Gazette:

JANESVILLE — So you want to invest.

Stock? Too wobbly.

Interest at the banks? Scant.

A rural Janesville man has found an investment that appears to work in any economy: the sun.

The sun, which is not expected to burn out for billions of years, spills massive amounts of energy onto the Earth every day. It also puts cash into Chuck Niles’ pocket.

Niles, a retired General Motors worker, said he’s been thinking about solar power for 25 years. He got serious about it three years ago when he learned that improvements in solar technology have reduced the cost per watt considerably.

Then he heard about government programs that provide huge discounts in startup costs.

Here’s how Niles does the math:

The 90 panels on the roof of Niles’ pole barn and nearby shed on Murray Road south of Janesville cost $130,410, installation included.

A federal program known as Section 1603 of the Recovery Act paid him $39,600. The state Focus on Energy program paid him $32,603.

Niles uses about $35 worth of electricity a month in the barn. The rest goes to Alliant Energy, which pays him monthly. The checks vary with sunshine, but Niles estimates conservatively that the checks will average around $440 a month.

In the meantime, Niles is also getting a federal income-tax break from the depreciation on his investment.

When all the costs and benefits are accounted for, Niles figures his payback period is just five years. He figures his return on investment is about 12 percent.


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Photocatalyst Used For Hydrogen Generation Awarded by University of Queensland
This year’s UQ Foundation Research Excellence Award, consisting in $85,000 UQ, was won by Dr Yong Wang, from UQ’s School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering. Dr Wang will dedicate his research to develop powerful photocatalysts that increase the efficiency of hydrogen production.


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Photocatalyst Used For Hydrogen Generation Awarded by University of Queensland
This year’s UQ Foundation Research Excellence Award, consisting in $85,000 UQ, was won by Dr Yong Wang, from UQ’s School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering. Dr Wang will dedicate his research to develop powerful photocatalysts that increase the efficiency of hydrogen production.


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David Suzuki’s must-watch “Test Tube” video – It’s an eye-opener

I just watched this must-see video from David Suzuki, which has been making the rounds for the last couple of weeks. I thought it important to make it known to my readers, many of whom have probably already viewed it. Please spread the link.

Just to reinforce Suzuki’s message, check out this just-released report from Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), an investor initiative in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme. It concludes that in 2008 the top 3,000 public companies were responsible for $2.15 trillion (U.S.) worth of environmental damage. All environmental damage caused by human activity was pegged at $6.6 trillion in 2008, or the equivalent of 11 per cent of global GDP. The number is expected to grow to $28 trillion by 2050 if we continue on our current unsustainable path. You can read the executive summary here. Now, I’m always skeptical as to how these numbers are arrived at, but it’s compelling to at least have a number by which we can measure our progress or lack of progress.

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Denmark 100% Fossil Fuel Free by 2050?

Following up on some great news regarding renewable energy targets and possibilities in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Germany, Denmark also recently announced great potential for weening itself off fossil fuels.

A report by the Danish climate commission found Denmark could create an energy network completely free of fossil fuels by 2050 as a result of falling renewable energy costs combined with rising oil and gas costs.

The report predicts that biomass and wind energy could provide the majority of the country’s energy needs.

“The report will also send a very clear and important signal to other countries that wind is a sustainable source of energy for future development,” said Ditlev Engel, chief executive of Danish wind energy giant Vestas. “This is a great opportunity to solidify Denmark’s reputation as a laboratory for green, CO2-free power technology solutions that are globally required.”

The report recommends that Denmark set aside 0.5% of its annual GDP for renewable energy investment for the next several decades.

The commission report and recommendations will now be considered by the Danish climate and energy minister before the Danish government releases its official climate strategy proposal in November.

Good luck to Denmark on achieving their clean energy potential.

Photo Credit: Wind turbine in Denmark, by skagman via flickr


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Manufacturing Green Technology

Manufacturing Green Technology

This is a special guest post by Daniel Fielding. Hope you find it interesting and useful.

By Daniel E. Fielding

A common phrase uttered all-too-often these days is, “In today’s economy.” Our nation’s leaders and industry leaders cringe every time these words are spoken. While some throw up their hands and give up hope, it is important to highlight the few outspoken advocates who are fighting to create an economic revolution. Hopefully as a result, “Today’s economy” will soon have a positive connotation. Here is an excerpt from a speech President Obama delivered at ZBB Energy in Wisconsin this past August:

We expect our commitment to clean energy to lead to more than 800,000 jobs by 2012. And that’s not just creating work in the short term, that’s going to help lay the foundation for lasting economic growth… Just a few years ago, American businesses could only make 2% of the world’s advanced batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles – 2%. In just a few years, we’ll have up to 40% of the world’s capacity.

Those batteries are also used to store energy from renewable sources like solar cells and wind turbines. The U.S. isn’t the only country interested in renewable technologies. As a result, these components are exported all over the world. There is no way to make the transition to clean energy without first addressing the need for revamped energy storage and transfer (read: batteries and smart grids). While these advances in technology and policy will ultimately benefit the environment, first effects will be seen in the nation’s economy.

GBI Research recently released a report which illustrates the current and projected demand for high efficiency batteries and hybrid/electric vehicles. It is expected that the electric vehicle market will increase exponentially in the next 5 years. In July, President Obama released a statement underlining the steps he plans to take in order to boost our economy. Specifically, he is looking at the way the United States handles their exports as one of the largest tools to potentially reduce the nation’s debt. President Obama underlined a series of strategic points in a report on the National Export Initiative (NEI). He feels that this initiative will set us on the path to economic recovery – by means of a manufacturing renaissance in America. If this plan is effectively enacted, it will serve a two-fold purpose: It will help the nation’s economy rebound back into prosperity, while at the same time addressing global environmental/pollution concerns.

Also in July (not coincidentally), the CEO of Dow Chemical, Andrew Liveris, was appointed to Obama’s Export Council. Liveris published an editorial on usatoday.com, How U.S. can launch a manufacturing renaissance. In the article, he succinctly highlights what is necessary to improve domestic manufacturing, and how as a result, the economy will follow suit. After reading this piece, it isn’t hard to see why Liveris was selected for such a position. Some of the key suggestions in his editorial are ones that–if followed–will lay the foundation for a boom in manufacturing of green tech components in the U.S.

  • New infrastructure that leverages private investment in plant and equipment, and modernizes our nation’s communication networks, electric grids and air, sea and land transportation systems. This will extend the lifespan of the nation’s infrastructure, boost domestic manufacturing and improve the quality of life of every American.
  • R&D that’s cutting edge. The experiences of competing countries demonstrate that R&D investment leads to greater economic growth, worker productivity and higher standards of living. We have begun to make progress. At Dow, for example, we are stepping up our partnership with the government in this call to action.
    With Vice President Biden on Monday, I am laying the cornerstone on a breakthrough lithium ion battery factory — Dow Kokam — supported by recent federal grants. To increase advanced manufacturing, the U.S. needs to reinforce R&D spending.
  • An alternative energy strategy that will secure the abundant energy that industry needs to stay competitive. Energy is the lifeblood of U.S. manufacturing, but we have no comprehensive policy to support it. We should become far more efficient in its use, seek lower carbon alternatives and, with proper safeguards, expand traditional supply.
  • Regulatory reform is required for U.S. manufacturing, especially as concerns the environment. Regulation is necessary, but smart regulation isn’t always practiced. All too often, we see rules that bog down product innovation or that lack a solid scientific basis.

Dow Kokam is a great example of how these ideas can be applied in real-world applications. Their newest plant, located in Michigan, is estimated to create 2,720 jobs by the time it is completed, with 800 full-time positions once the plant is operational. At full production, the plant will supply enough lithium-ion batteries to power 60,000 hybrid or electric vehicles annually. There is a large demand for these types of batteries in the medical, defense, industrial, and transportation industries; both domestically, and abroad. Andrew Liveris is in good company on the President’s Export Council. Other members of the include W. James McNerney, Jr., CEO of Boeing; Alan Mulally, President and CEO of Ford Motor Company; as well as other leading authorities on international transportation and trade. This council is responsible for advising Obama on setting the pace for our nation’s newest and greatest industry: green technology.

If you are interested in finding out more about our past, current, and future trade activity, the United States International Trade Commission (usitc.gov) does a pretty fantastic job serving up the information they’ve collected and published over the years.


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Water Stocks News; Wescorp (OTCBB:WSCE) Appoints Ken James, P.Eng. to its Board of Directors
CALGARY, ALBERTA – October 5, 2010 (Investorideas.com Water Stocks Newswire) – Wescorp Energy Inc. (OTC.BB:WSCE), a clean water technology company focused on implementing its low-cost solutions into several markets


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Ocean Power Technologies Announces $2.75 Million Funding from US Navy
10/05/2010 – <a href=”http://www.oceanpowertechnologies.com/index…


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First Solar, Enbridge Commission World’s Largest PV Plant
10/05/2010 – Enbridge Inc…


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Obama Agrees to Put Solar Panels on White House


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Reintroducing Anadromous Fish in Oregon’s North Umpqua River
PacifiCorp Energy is reintroducing Chinook salmon and steelhead to a 6-mile stretch of the North Umpqua River above Soda Springs Dam by 2012. Anadromous fish were cut off from this reach of the river when the dam was built in the 1950s to impound water for a hydroelectric project.
Visit the original post at: Renewable Energy News – RenewableEnergyWorld.com

Mitsubishi Electric Announces Diamond Mount, a Complete DC Solution for Commercial and Utility Scale Solar Projects
Mitsubishi Electric & Electronics USA has introduced Diamond Mount™, a complete DC photovoltaic solution into the North American market. The Diamond Mount package includes Mitsubishi Electric photovoltaic modules, a ballasted racking system designed by P2, and all DC balance of system components including the combiner box. The electrical and mechanical configurations of the Diamond Mount system are pre-designed and all of the components are sourced and designed to work together to optimize power output.
Visit the original post at: Renewable Energy News – RenewableEnergyWorld.com

Signs of Maturity in the ‘Smart Solar Panel’ Sector
Much of the innovation taking place in solar PV revolves around Balance of System (BOS) components like wiring, racking and inverters. This sector, while not as sexy as panel manufacturing, offers most of the low-hanging fruit in efficiency gains and cost reductions.
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