Saturday, March 6th, 2010
The most surprising thing about the inaugural ARPA-E summit, held this week outside Washington D.C., is that the conference hall was full of losers. They were inventors, scientists and entrepreneurs who had applied for funding from the U.S. government’s exciting new energy-research organization but had been shot down.
The Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy received 3,500 proposals, but only accepted 37. That leaves room for some compelling also-rans.
As a consolation prize, some of the most credible finalists got booth space in the exhibit hall. The most visible were those with ambitious plans for “kite power” — harnessing the powerful and consistent winds that blow high off the Earth’s deck.
Kite energy is way out there, both physically and in the public mindset, and it can be a hard sell, even to an agency like ARPA-E that funds risky projects. Who wants to put their money on the line for a four-rotor helicopter the size of a 747 that’s suspended several kilometers in the air? (more…)
Friday, March 5th, 2010
Wind turbine technology has become a fully commercial venture, but the recent rapid growth of the wind industry has strained its supply chain to meet demand in a timely manner. Furthermore, unexpected component failures, especially electronic controls, gearboxes, generators, and rotor blades, have driven up operations and maintenance costs.
During the course of the research for a new report just published by Wind Energy Update, it ultimately became clear that reliable and verifiable data on wind industry operations and maintenance cost trends is quite rare. In fact, there are no current widely available data sets illustrating these wind industry costs.
Proprietary research, reviews of scarce secondary sources and anecdotal evidence obtained through confidential interviews with wind industry owners and operators and component suppliers suggest that operations and maintenance expenses are double or even triple what was originally projected, particularly with the latest class of multi-megawatt machines now permeating the global wind market. (more…)
Thursday, March 4th, 2010
Four Democratic U.S. senators have asked the Obama administration to stop investment in wind power and other renewable energy projects until the government ensures that the projects primarily use U.S. labor and materials.
The senators, led by U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, introduced legislation requiring that economic stimulus funds only be spent on clean-energy projects that use materials made in the United States and that create a majority of jobs in America.
Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010
The British government will introduce legislation that would tie new, subsidized loans for energy efficiency to a house, rather than a current owner, a move that could make energy retrofits far more affordable for most homeowners.
Energy and Climate Secretary Ed Miliband said the new legislation would enable homeowners to take out long-term loans at lower interest rates and thus encourage homeowners to make energy-efficiency improvements that they might otherwise not have made had they planned to sell their houses in a few years.
Friday, February 19th, 2010
By 2020, the European Union will meet its goal of generating 20 percent of its electricity from wind, solar, and other renewable sources of energy, according to the European Wind Energy Association.
The group said that 14 of the EU’s 27 member states will meet the 20 percent goal, eight will exceed it, and five will fall short, though only by one percent.
Monday, February 15th, 2010
Wind power capacity grew by 31 percent globally in 2009, with the steepest rise occurring in China, according to a new study.
About 37.5 gigawatts of capacity were added last year, boosting the total capacity worldwide to 157.9 gigawatts, says the Global Wind Energy Council, an industry trade group based in Belgium.
The growth occurred despite the weak global economy as major nations made renewable energy a priority of their economic stimulus plans, said Steve Sawyer, the council’s secretary general.
Sunday, February 14th, 2010
This post comes from Rev. Canon Sally G. Bingham, the founder of the San Francisco-based Interfaith Power & Light, a national campaign with affiliates in 30 states. The group is organizing the Valentine’s Weekend Preach-In on Global Warming.
Valentine’s Day typically conjures up images of roses and sweets for our loved ones, a time when we recognize the many virtues of romantic love. Yet this coming Valentine’s Day, leaders of communities of faith throughout the United States will be bringing forth a different kind of love — a deep, abiding love for God’s creation and our neighbors now threatened by the calamity of global climate change.
Hundreds of congregations of many faiths have signed up for a National Preach-In on Global Warming on Valentine’s Day weekend. We are showing our love for the poor, disadvantaged and most at-risk peoples and creatures of the world on this traditional day of love.
Monday, February 8th, 2010
At a factory in Wuxi, China, workers lift solar panels onto conveyor belts, while others in white lab coats move between machines as they check on a process for etching and engraving silicon wafers to form solar cells.
This scene in itself isn’t remarkable. But there is a new sort of excitement about the work. China’s production of solar panels has grown quickly in the past two years; it is it now the world’s leading exporter. When Matt Lewis, a representative of the California-based nonprofit ClimateWorks, visited the factory in October, he said it reminded him of his native Silicon Valley: The workers, even ordinary line workers, had a sense that they were part of building the future, the hot new industry.
Saturday, February 6th, 2010
Hallowell International in Bangor, Maine, is the manufacturer of the Acadia, a combined heating and cooling system that can be combined with solar or wind installations to take users off the grid. The system can be installed in new buildings or can be retrofitted when consumers are considering green upgrades.
CleanTechies has three questions for president and founder Duane Hallowell.
CleanTechies: Acadia uses something called “boosted compression” technology. Tell us about that.
Duane Hallowell: Since the 1950s, heat pumps, which operate by exchanging air for heating and cooling, have been the most popular and environmentally-friendly heating ventilation and cooling (HVAC) application. However, because they absorb heat from the outside air, they are inefficient in cold-weather climates, requiring additional, costly heating elements in order to work correctly.
Monday, February 1st, 2010
Tom Friedman spent most of 2009 beating the China-is-winning-the-green-race-drum, and he has started 2010 with the same focus.
In Sunday’s New York Times, the news side of the house joined their editorial page colleague, writing in a front page story that Chinese “efforts to dominate renewable energy technologies raise the prospect that the West may someday trade its dependence on oil from the Mideast for a reliance on solar panels, wind turbines and other gear manufactured in China.”
To his credit, Friedman’s push has been all about policy. He wants the United States to go all-in in a space-race-like push to match Chinese innovation in energy technology (“E.T.,” as he has glossed it). But, what has eluded his attention – and is absent again in Sunday’s news piece – is the recognition that in order to match Chinese innovation, the policy changes that would be required in the U.S. electricity markets would necessarily have to go far beyond decoupling, one of Friedman’s personal causes.