Friday, September 29, 2006

Ohio's Largest Solar Array, Enough for 15 Homes

I found this at Green Energy Ohio.

Oberlin College Completes Solar Parking Pavilion Largest Photovoltaic Array in Ohio
The pavilion's 8,800-square-foot roof will collect sunlight through 336 PV panels.Sunlight will be transformed into a maximum of 100 kilowatts of electrical energy, bringing the center's total rated production (based on peak theoretical output under ideal conditions) to 145 kW, equivalent to the amount of energy needed to power nearly 15 single-family homes.
A win for the College and for the City of Oberlin, which will benefit from the center's electrical energy when surplus energy is exported into the municipality's grid. Electrical energy from the PV panels is also expected to be distributed into a building next to the Lewis Center which was renovated to house eight offices and teaching and research laboratories.

What is interesting is that GreenCounsel linked to this report today about some research that has been done at the University of Albany area about how much energy could be displaced by setting up PVs at parking lots.

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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Test of China's new thermonuclear fusion reactor successful

Article Link
The experimental advanced superconducting tokamak (east) fusion device, nicknamed "Artificial Sun", was tested at the Institute of Plasma Physics under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) in Hefei, capital city of East China's Anhui province.

East is an upgrade of China's first-generation Tokamak device and the first of its kind in operation in the world, Chinese scientists said.

Please note the word fusion and not fission. This is a big deal, if it is accurate and can be reproduced.

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Egypt going nuclear?

Egypt developing nuclear energy program

In all fairness they have been working at it for awhile but it will still take them some time to get everything up and running. Is it worth the possible $2 Billion price tag?
Egypt is looking for alternative power sources because of the rising cost of oil and its increasing energy needs. The government estimates that oil reserves in Egypt, the Arab world's most populous country, will be depleted within 20 years unless new oil fields are discovered.

Egypt has signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the cornerstone of international efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. Countries that sign the treaty agree not to produce or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons. They also accept safeguards meant to prevent the diversion of spent nuclear fuel to weapons production. Egypt also has agreed to inspections by the United Nations' nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.

NTI's overview of Egypt's nuclear programs

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Green Energy for Sale

So you wanna help the environment and just cannot afford one of those spiffy new hybrids nor can you throw up a wind farm or solar panels? As I blogged earlier, you could replace as many of your lights in the home with CFLs. Then encourage all of your neighbors to do so. Personally, I have saved quite a bit by doing this and not all of my inside lights could be replaced with CFLs.

You might also be able to contribute towards a green fund. Not sure what to buy? How about just investing in your local power company? Many energy providers offer their consumers the ability to pay a little bit extra in their bill, usually around $4 a month, with the promise that it will go towards purchasing renewable energy.

Still not enough? Then look into the New Rules Project to help the environment.

Governments can do everything from purchasing green energy to helping land owners use tools to determine if they can turn some open land into a wind farm.

As this article points out, more and more sustainability adds up.

Also check out:
Can I Buy Green Energy in My State?
National Wild Life Federation's Green Tags Program
Shop and Unshop: Economic Action to promote just and sustainable purchasing

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Signs that the US is getting serious with oil shale?

Chevron starts oil shale project with Los Alamos lab
Chevron Corp. said Monday it's started a joint oil-shale research project with Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

San Ramon-based Chevron (NYSE: CVX) has about 59,000 workers and pulled in a profit of $4.4 billion in the quarter ended June.

Oil-shale plan advances
The federal government has taken a step toward approving the reopening of an oil-shale mine in Utah, one of four experimental works on Western lands that are intended to boost domestic oil production.

In Colorado, three oil companies won environmental clearance in August for their plans to start producing shale oil by heating layers of rock using electric oven-like elements, steam injection or hot natural gas.
In Colorado, the BLM declared projects by Shell Frontier Oil and Gas Inc., Chevron USA Inc. and Midland, Texas-based EGL Resources Inc. would have no significant environmental impact.

Kohler, however, said there was little doubt approval would follow in Utah because sections of the report found little or no environmental damage would result from reopening a working mine.

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Monday, September 25, 2006

Trash to Cash. Well to diesel anyway...

That's right, what if we could rid the world of sewer sludge and get some cheap (at today's prices) diesel fuel instead? Think of it, it would be completely unaffected by the home heating oil industry.

From sludge to cheap and clean diesel
Diesel for $1 a gallon.
And not from oil. Instead, it would come from sewer sludge, wood, agricultural waste, plain old trash or even plastics.

That's the promise of a new process unveiled Thursday at UC Riverside by researchers and a small company that will pay $15 million for a pilot plant to be built in the next two years.
Two-thirds of the process uses tried-and-true, off-the-shelf technology. The new trick is how they turn solids into a gas, and how efficient that new technique is.

A process that normally takes an hour can be done in six minutes, or 10-times faster, said Norbeck.

"We don't know why it happens," he said. "We can convert this faster than anyone has ever seen."

And there's little waste. Up to 85 percent of the feed material becomes useable liquid fuel at the other end.

Well all I can say is that seems pretty damn nifty. Wonder if we will actually see a plant up and running in a few years.

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New Vehicles and Tools for America's New Standards

In 2007 and then again in 2010 America will restrict vehicle emissions even more. MOF, America will be the strictest nation on the face of the planet. New technologies are needed in order to make sure that the equipment can perform and perform well.

Honda unveils diesel system to rival gasoline cars

Honda Motor Co. (7267.T) said on Monday it has developed a new and simple diesel powertrain that is as clean as gasoline-fuelled cars, unveiling plans to mount it on a car for the U.S. market by 2009.
Honda's new diesel drivetrain generates and stores ammonia within a two-layer catalytic converter to turn nitrogen oxide into harmless nitrogen.

Honda engineers said the technology is superior to a process pioneered by Germany's DaimlerChrysler AG (DCXGn.DE) because the latter requires a complex system and heavy add-ons to generate ammonia from urea-based additives.

ArvinMeritor Displays 'Clean Air Solutions' Portfolio of Commercial Vehicle Emissions Controls
In addition to its emissions research in Europe, ArvinMeritor is developing several solutions to reduce emissions from diesel engines in the United States. While no solution has been standardized within the U.S. trucking industry, ArvinMeritor continues to develop leading edge technologies to help meet the US EPA 2007 regulations.

ArvinMeritor, Inc. is a premier global supplier of a broad range of integrated systems, modules and components to the motor vehicle industry. The company serves light vehicle, commercial truck, trailer and specialty original equipment manufacturers and certain aftermarkets.

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Alternative Energy News for the Day

I made sure to log on to my account late last night and take a look at the opening trades for oil. It was pretty much what I expected, $60 a barrel and below. I very much wonder what impact this is going to have on all of the alternative energy initiatives in the US and other parts of the world.

USA. $5.7 Billion committed to Clinton Global Initiative
President Clinton announced four new commitments at a plenary session of the Clinton Global Initiative. The session, entitled Managing Diversity in a Globalized World, was attended by panelists President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai, queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria moderated the panel discussion.

Following the plenary session, President Clinton joined Richard Branson (CEO, Virgin Group), Klaus Kleinfeld (President and CEO, Siemens), Majora Carter (Executive Director, Sustainable South Bronx) and Barry Segal (CEO, Bradco Supply) at a press conference.

Branson announced an estimated $3 billion commitment toward bio-fuel initiatives. Over the next ten years, Virgin Group will invest all future profits from its airline and train businesses into renewable energy initiatives both within the company, as well as further investments in new bio-fuel R&D, production, distribution and other projects to tackle emissions related to global warming.

Study: Wind Power Fastest Growing Energy Source
According to the Earth Policy Institute, a private organization dedicated to providing a vision of an environmentally sustainable economy, wind is the world’s fastest-growing energy source with an average annual growth rate of 29 percent over the last 10 years.
U.S. wind energy capacity now exceeds a record 10,000 megawatts and produces enough electricity per day to power more than 2.5 million homes, the American Wind Energy Association announced last week.

“Wind power is gaining momentum as a mainstream energy source, bringing clean energy, stable energy costs, new industry and energy security,” Suzanne Williams Sloan, the association’s communications specialist, said.

Building grand hotel comes at a price
One of the most expensive hotel projects ever in Switzerland is taking shape. swissinfo got a sneak preview of the SFr420 million ($337 million) Dolder Grand in Zurich.
Even the hotel's energy concept is futuristic. Seventy geothermal probes sunk 150 metres beneath the foundation will reduce the hotel's environmental impact by providing one million:kilowatt hours of clean energy a year to meet half the building's heating needs.

Finavera Renewables Commits to Develop US$40 Million Wave Energy Project in South Africa
Finavera Renewables, through its wave energy division (former AquaEnergy
Group Ltd), plans to build a phased 20MW wave energy power plant in the
Republic of South Africa for a total investment of more than US$40 million
over five years. The project will generate more than 30 million kilowatt-hours
of electricity per month, save US$2 million per year in fuel and avoid
approximately 20,000 tons of CO2 emissions. A material percentage of the
return from the project will be used to alleviate energy poverty and will
provide economic benefits to local communities through the creation of jobs.

DATCP Provides Funds to Develop Switchgrass Biofuel
Wisconsin Agriculture Secretary Rod Nilsestuen announced on Friday that a cheese plant in Grant County will receive a $20,000 grant to help develop switchgrass as a biofuel. The funds will help Meister Cheese Company investigate the feasibility of growing switchgrass to remove nitrogen and other nutrients from wastewater and then using the harvested switchgrass as a supplemental fuel in a new, state-of-the art wood-fired boiler.

Solar Energy Forum Is Today
"Strictly Solar -- A Solar Energy Forum, Dollars and Sense" is today from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. The free event will be at the Peggy Brown Building, 121 S. Lake Ave. in Lakeland.

The Solar Energy Forum will provide the latest information on Florida solar rebates. There will be a panel discussion, product exhibits and demonstrations on the latest solar equipment.

New 'Green House' a Showcase for Energy Efficiency
The Bennetts teamed up with Regency Homes, a North Stafford custom builder that has incorporated various "green" elements in previous homes, but never really to this extent.
Bennett estimates that the energy-saving features will add $40,000 to the cost of the house, topping it out at about $980,000. An estimated additional resale value of $150,400 eight years from now nearly quadruples the investment cost. Add to that an anticipated electricity savings of nearly $12,000, tax credits totaling $4,000, plus a county waiver on the property taxes based on property taxes on the solar roof, and building green actually becomes profitable.

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Friday, September 15, 2006

Green News of the Moment

Senate Dems Propose Job-creating Alternative Energy Plan
Senate Democrats are taking the lead on funding proposals and policies related to energy independence and alternatives to fossil fuels. A report released yesterday by the non-partisan Apollo Alliance says that investments and reforms contained in the so-called Clean EDGE Act, authored by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), would help create jobs while cultivating a strong alternative energy sector.

The Clean EDGE Act, short hand for Clean Energy Development for a Growing Economy, proposes a public and private investment program of $49 billion by 2009 in alternative fuels and other energy sources. These programs would generate an estimated 530,000 jobs in immediate construction and long-term manufacturing jobs nationally. Supporters of the proposals expect that it could be a financially self-sustaining program when fully established.

Poplar Tree Genome Holds Promise Of Breakthrough In Biofuel Research
The article, highlighting the analysis of the first complete DNA sequence of a tree – the black cottonwood, or Populus trichocarpa – lays the groundwork that may lead to the development of trees as an ideal “feedstock” for a new generation of biofuels such as cellulosic ethanol. The research is the result of a four-year scientific and technical effort led by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Joint Genome Institute (DOE JGI) and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and uniting the efforts of 34 institutions from around the world, including the University of British Columbia and Genome Canada; UmeĆ„ Plant Science Centre in Sweden; and Ghent University in Belgium.

EU Energy Policy: Renewed energy
Today’s energy challenges are very real. Global oil consumption has increased 20 per cent in the last 10 years. World energy consumption could rise by half within 25 years. Competition for resources is growing. Investments have to be made. Tough decisions are needed.

In Europe alone, €1 trillion is needed over the next 20 years to meet expected energy demand and replace ageing infrastructure. Globally, the figure is around $16 trillion. In the absence of a secure and transparent investment climate in the world, functioning markets and infrastructure, can such massive investments even be expected?

Garbage company releases report on social responsibility
Waste Management, the trash hauling company, which has a branch office in Simi Valley, recently published a social responsibility report entitled "It Starts with Commitment."

The report outlines the company's environmental goals and the many programs that are already helping to eliminate waste throughout the region.
Smith said 75 percent of the company truck fleet runs on an alternative fuel or "clean diesel." As a result, 247 tons of harmful air emissions have been reduced each year.

"We're ahead of the state emissions guidelines," Smith said. The company met the state's 2006 goals in early 2005.

Asia, Europe to invest US$6 trillion in energy by 2030
The amount represents more than one third of the total global investment in the energy sector estimated for 1990-2020.

In a declaration issued at the end of the 6th Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Finland on Monday (September 11), the leaders of 25 European and 13 Asian nations agreed to share low-carbon and energy-efficient technologies with developing ASEM countries.

Evil Car Companies: Honda Pushes Plant Waste Bio-fuels

Honda develops new way to make biofuel that could boost environmentally friendly cars
The breakthrough comes as automakers look for alternatives to petroleum-based fuels that will not release greenhouse gases that fan global warming. Surging oil prices have also spurred companies to develop new fuels that may be cheaper and not as prone to supply disruptions.

''Expansion of biomass utilization holds enormous potential as a major step forward toward the realization of an energy sustainable society,'' Honda said.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

New type of hydrogen fuel cell powers up

Within a few years, laptops and other energy-guzzling portable devices could run on long-lasting, easily recharged fuel cells based on a safe and practical new way of storing and releasing hydrogen.

Chemist Don Gervasio and colleague Sonja Tasic, both at Arizona State University in the US, set out to develop a fuel cell that would generate more electricity for its weight than the best batteries, and would also work at room temperature.

Gervasio's solution was to use the alkaline compound borohydride. A 30% solution of borohydride in water actually contains one-third more hydrogen than the same volume of liquid hydrogen.

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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

News: Nuclear, Oil, Gas

Well the argument on Peak Oil took a hit today when three oil companies announced a major find in the Gulf of Mexico. Chevron drilled 5.3 miles down and hit an oil field that allowed a sustainable 6,000 barrels per day on the test. Other companies in the venture were Stratoil from Norway and Oklahoma City's Devon Energy Corp.

While hopeful estimates puts the entire field output in the billions of barrel arena, the companies are quick to caution that it may be until 2010 before any significant production begins. The field was originally found in 2004 and there is another test site to be established sometime next year.

Also a Shell executive has stated that there is no gouging going on by the oil companies. Nevermind that some American investigative reporters unearthed a memo from OPEC to non-OPEC facilities on ways they could increase their profit by all agreeing to a certain production level. Two other memos that you should know about: 1 and 2.

Other interesting oil news:
Russia is now the top producer of crude
Thai oil refiner to produce biodiesel with vegetable oil

South Africa appears to be playing with nuclear power. Fortunately for the markets, it is not the "we will wipe Israel and the US off the face of the Earth" kind that Iran seems intent on moving forward with at the moment. These are Pebble Bed Modular Reactors. They are small, easy to get up and going, and since they are cooled with helium, there is no need to be near water nor is there a risk of a meltdown. Not only that but the heat that is generated can be used in a variety of useful ways: desalinating sea water, produce hydrogen from water, and turn tar sands and oil shale into petroleum.

In the Alternative Energy being used for death and mayhem :
Submarine fleet 'should go nuclear'
AUSTRALIA must consider commissioning a new fleet of nuclear-powered submarines, a submission to the nuclear taskforce says. The move will be necessary to deal with complex security pressures emerging within the region over the next two decades.

Warplanes Hybrid Engine Brings Silent Death
When over an area where the enemy might hear the UAV, the operator can switch to battery power. Especially at night, loud motors on UAVs often spoil the element of surprise, by letting the enemy below know that there's a UAV watching.

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