Thursday, April 29th, 2010
California’s high-tech giants have long used renewable energy to help power their Silicon Valley headquarters. Now, companies such as Google, Adobe Systems, and eBay are preparing for the next step — investing in off-site solar and wind installations and innovative technologies that will supply their offices and data centers with green electricity.
From the street, Adobe Systems’ San Jose headquarters looks like any other collection of skyscrapers that dot the downtown of the self-proclaimed capital of Silicon Valley.
But ascend to a skyway that connects two of the software company’s towers and you’ll find a wind farm. Twenty vertical turbines that resemble a modern art installation slowly rotate in the breeze that blows through a six-floor plaza. Down in the parking garage, a dozen electric car-charging stations have been set up. Adobe, which makes the ubiquitous Flash player software, will install 18 more chargers this year to accommodate workers expected to be first in line when the Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Volt, and other battery-powered vehicles roll into Silicon Valley showrooms later this year. (more…)
Wednesday, April 28th, 2010
Israel, a global cleantech powerhouse, is now attracting hundreds of millions of dollars in cleantech investment every year.
The country gets more from its soil, water, air, and sunlight than most other nations on earth.
Why has such a small country been able to position itself a world leader in cleantech?
The answer, I believe, is a combination of many factors: its history, attitude of the people, ingenuity, and challenges to survival.
According to my research, the following are major highlights of Israel’s cleantech leadership to date in 2010: (more…)
Wednesday, April 28th, 2010
Texas-based Xtreme Power is one of the leaders of the energy storage world, designing and manufacturing large-scale solid-state energy storage and power management systems called Dynamic Power Resources for solar and wind power applications.
CEO Carlos Coe talked with CleanTechies about developments in the energy storage field.
CleanTechies: You have two energy storage projects in Hawaii.
Carlos Coe: The first project is on the island of Maui and it’s affiliated with the wind farm that’s on that island. And that project is a 1.5 megawatt project in size going on a 30 megawatt wind farm. So that project was put into service the middle part of last year and has been in service since then and has done very, very well.
CleanTechies: Any glitches? (more…)
Monday, April 26th, 2010
Sunny Milpitas, California is the newly announced home of SunPower’s first domestic manufacturing operations. Yep, you heard right. More green manufacturing jobs right here in the U.S.A. (In November, Chinese solar powerhouse Suntech announced that its first U.S. manufacturing facility would be located near Phoenix, Arizona).
SunPower’s 75-megawatt production line is expected to employ 100 by the end of the year, and spread the wealth around even more by sourcing equipment and materials from a host of other states throughout the United States. At the Vote Solar Initiative, we like to remind folks that manufacturing is only a fraction of solar’s overall job creation opportunity. In fact, about 75 percent of solar employment is related to system installation, jobs that are inherently local in the first place. Nevertheless, manufacturing is near and dear to most Americans, and this new production facility is tangible proof that the green economy has a real role to play in bringing those jobs back home — with the right policies, that is.
As was the case with Suntech’s Arizona selection, SunPower’s decision to locate manufacturing in California is a testament to the state’s market-building solar policies. And so it is appropriate that stalwart renewable energy supporter, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, joined in making the announcement. During the event, Schwarzenegger highlighted a few initiatives that have been so instrumental to the state’s new energy economy that we think they bear repeating: (more…)
Monday, April 26th, 2010
Hear Ye, O Haters of Styrofoam: United Parcel Service now gives businesses a little credit for shunning the dreaded packing peanut. Shippers who demonstrate that they regularly send packages in a thoughtful way — subbing shredded paper for styrofoam, using snug boxes, and padding items so they don’t arrive damaged — can get a special label affixed to the box.
Us vs. the Volcano: Boxes and people lurched back into the troposphere this week as the Eyjafjoell volcano stopped spewing and gave planes the chance to fly again from European airports. Eyjafjoell issued 150,000 to 30,000 tons of CO2 per day — as much as a small European country — but its carbon footprint was offset by all those canceled flights. Anxious eyes remained on the skies for another eruption, or perhaps an interruption of another kind. After all, the U.S. military fears massive oil shortages by 2015.
Solar on the Go: Seiko unveiled a series of wristwatches powered by photovoltaic panels built into the face. After getting a full suntan the watch will keep on ticking for six months, at a price of $215 to $283. This summer, Samsonite will roll out a line of luggage embedded with solar panels that transmit enough juice to power mobile devices.
This Time We Mean It: Energy Star, the international standard for energy-efficient appliances, has been stung suckered of late by manufacturers that lied about their specs. As of 2011, makers of fridges, washers and water heaters will need to submit to independent testing in order to win the coveted EnergyStar label. (more…)
Friday, April 23rd, 2010
Is efficiency worth the bother if you save only $5 to $10 per month on your energy bill? Many homeowners think not. One dad told us his family would rather save money by just skipping a pizza order once a month. That sentiment is not unusual.
But it is hard to negate the economic value of efficiency if you spend $20 billion per year on energy, as does the U.S. military, our government’s largest energy user, responsible for nearly 80 percent of the government’s total energy consumption.
“Re-energizing America’s Defense,” a recent report by The Pew Project on National Security, Energy and Climate, looks at how profoundly our energy mix affects the military.
The military has great motivation to make our energy supply more efficient and less oil-dependent. For every $10 per barrel increase in oil prices, the Defense Department’s energy bill increases more than $1.3 billion. That is a lot of pizza. (more…)
Wednesday, April 21st, 2010
U.S. investors have invested $129.4 million in a promising solar technology that uses plastic lenses to concentrate sunlight onto small but highly efficient solar cells.
The so-called multijunction cells, developed by California-based Amonix, generate more electricity than conventional photovoltaic panels and require fewer costly semiconducting materials, such as silicon.
The company has successfully tested the technology at small solar farms in Spain and the United States. (more…)
Monday, April 19th, 2010
In California, low-income households often spend more money on electricity than more affluent residents and produce greenhouse gasses in the process.
But through the California Solar Initiative’s Single Family Affordable Solar Homes (SASH) program, and an Oakland-based nonprofit firm called GRID Alternatives, the state’s low-income homeowners finally have the change to reduce their monthly electricity bills and decrease electricity usage.
Longtime friends and engineers, Erica Mackie and Tim Sears, founded GRID during the 2001 energy crisis. While developing renewable energy systems for the private sector, Sears and Mackie decided to try and make the technology available to low-income communities. Their model became GRID Alternatives’ first Solar Affordable Housing Program. (more…)
Monday, April 19th, 2010
Want to lower your utility bills or even get energy for free? Companies like Dow Chemical are developing solar shingles and other innovative technologies to turn your home into a personal power plant. Energy will be essentially free.
Three decades ago information was expensive and scarce. Data processing was autocratic, monolithic, and centralized. There were big mainframe computers ‘out there’ and ‘dumb’ users here. The personal computer, the internet, and mobile telephones changed all that.
Today information is essentially free.
Scarce data turned into the Internet torrent and now data is so abundant that the first company who helped us intelligently filter this onslaught of information became the most successful company of the last decade: Google. Today information technology is distributed, grid-independent, and scalable. Now billions of people with a mobile phone, personal computer, and internet connection can generate, store, process, and publish data. The basic architecture of information technology changed.
Energy is where data was three decades ago.
Wednesday, April 7th, 2010
(Reuters) – A solar-powered airplane designed to fly day and night without fuel or emissions successfully made its first test flight above the Swiss countryside on Wednesday.
The Solar Impulse, which has 12,000 solar cells built into its wings, is a prototype for an aircraft intended to fly around the world without fuel in 2012.
It glided for 87 minutes above western Switzerland at an altitude of 1,200 meters (3,937 feet) with German test pilot Markus Scherdel at the controls.