May 2012 Archives
May 04, 2012 |
by Silvio Marcacci
Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) may trace its roots to when Leonardo da Vinci first conceived a parabolic mirror concentrator to heat water, but the technology’s future may be brighter than ever. According to a Pike Research study, the market as a whole will more than double from $2.1 billion in 2012 to $4.8 billion in 2020.
Like many other forms of renewable electricity generation, CSP projects have been slowed by austerity measures across the world. But Pike researchers say the current CSP surge, which began in earnest around 2004, is merely paused at the moment, and global capacity will double by 2013.
Several policies have fueled the current market, including California’s renewable portfolio standard and several European feed-in-tariff systems. 2008’s global economic crisis didn’t immediately impact the CSP market because multiple projects were already underway, notably 14 utility-scale plants that brought 667 new megawatts (MW) online in Spain between 2008-2010.
However, as austerity measures kicked in the pipeline began to close and Spain, once the global leader in CSP technology, currently has zero projects under construction. The same trend is seen in the United States, where stimulus funding helped fund five CSP projects. These projects represent 1.5 gigawatts (GW) currently under construction, although nearly 6.9GW have been awarded.
As in Spain, though, when government funding and incentives dried up, so did new project starts. 745MW of projects have been cancelled or delayed, and 3.4GW of projects are uncertain to move forward.
Beyond austerity measures, Pike also sees the plummeting price of solar photovoltaic (PV) modules as a serious threat to the technology. PV modules have dropped beyond 50 percent from their 2008 peak, and PV is more attractive to investors due to its established track record. To wit, 1.2GW worth of CSP projects in the U.S. have been replaced with PV.
But, CSP may overcome austerity measures and PV competition by reducing project costs through three avenues: increasing project scale, hybridization with fossil fuel plants through Integrated Solar Combined Cycle (ISCC), and utility-scale energy storage.
“The most promising opportunity in the near term is to link CSP with thermal energy storage, thereby increasing the value of clean electricity in a cost-effective way that solar PV cannot replicate,” said Peter Asmus, Pike Research senior analyst.
Industry growth is likely to be concentrated in areas like Europe and northern Africa, according to Asmus. “There are clearer market signals to develop large amounts of bulk renewables due to carbon mandates and corresponding investments in bulk power transmission to serve EU markets.”
Photo by Paul Carroll/flickr/Creative CommonsReprinted with permission from Earth & Industry
World Health Energy Holdings (WHEN.PK), a US-Israeli company commercializing algae-based biodiesel, has plans for two projects in India this year, and is targeting over $200 million in sales in 2013, reports Reuters.
One project targets $150 million in sales of biodiesel and food for commercial fish farms from 250 acres of algae. India-based Prime, which provides transportation services to the oil industry, is funding the project for a 70 percent equity stake.
Another project targets $35 million in revenue from a 45-acre algae farm.
WHEN says both projects will be operational in mid-2013 and is talking with utilities in South Africa and Italy, as well as the U.S. Navy on similar projects.
The company has completed a pilot project in Israel and sold small amounts of algae to the pharmaceutical industry there.
WHEN has found a way to cut the cost of producing algae oil 95 percent, CEO Chaim Lieberman told Reuters. "When we scale up the project we will reach $50 a barrel," he says, down from $2000 a barrel 11 years ago when WHEN started.
Part of what reduces the cost is a wave machine that keeps the algae moving and plastic sleeves that maintain a closed environment. It uses non-arable land or recycled water to grow algae, and produces 180 times the amount of fuel as corn or soy on the same land.
Oris Investments, a clean tech venture fund, is backing WHEN with $1.5 million, along with several private investors.
India's Five-Year Plan
The working group developing India's 12th Five-Year Plan (2012-2017) says the government intends to spend $44.6 billion on its various missions, such as its National Solar Mission.
Government is already spending 2.5 percent of GDP on climate change adaptation, they say and plans to invest heavily in helping its largest industry - agriculture - become more resilient.
Renewable energy investments reached $10.3 billion
in 2011, 52 percent higher than the $6.8 billion invested in 2010, the highest growth of any significant economy in the world.
Photo by Jukka/flickr/Creative Commons
Reprinted with permission from SustainableBusiness.com
by Lynn Fang
Spring is a time of love and renewal, so how will you strengthen your romantic ties? The conventional couple dines out at a fancy restaurant and gives each other lavish gifts of jewelry, fine clothing, and other material delights. If you could reclaim the romantic date to fit your own values, what might that look like?
Here are 10 green date ideas spring, sure to lower your impact while raising the heat…in your body.
- Play Board Games. There are tons of great board games available for 2+ people. Aside from the classics like Chess, Checkers, Monopoly and Life, you can try out some other varieties like Burger Joint, Carcassonne, or Mancala. If you want to up the love potential, play your board game with a dirty twist such as strip-style or simply playing naked.
- Cook Dinner Together. Cooking a meal and enjoying it together is a great bonding experience. Use organic ingredients, and throw in a bottle of biodynamic wine. Light up some nice beeswax candles, play some soft tunes, and you’ve got the beginnings of a great evening.
- Take a Trip to the Local Organic Farm. Organic farms are an incredibly nurturing place of growth and renewal. Working with the soil and plants is like growing your own collective garden of love. Volunteer together on a farm and soak in the lovely connection to nature. Talk about how great organic farming is and bond over the wonderful shared experience.
- Go Stargazing. If there’s an observatory near you, chances are there’s free stargazing opportunities. They may have public star parties or telescopes. There’s something extra special about seeing baby stars together.
- Walk to the Farmer’s Market. Walking together is a great time to get to know each other and have deeper conversations. The farmer’s market is a connecting and nurturing place where you can both feel comfortable and supported. After the Farmer’s Market, cook a meal together.
- Have Your Own Earth Hour. Turn off your computers, TV’s, and other electronics. Light some candles, and snuggle together to keep warm, or cool off with some icy cold drinks. Foster a real-life natural relationship instead of a virtual one.
- Make Your Own Gifts. Instead of buying jewelry mined from questionable sources, make something for your lover. Make your own card, write a love poem, or bake some cupcakes.
- Have a Massage Night. Get out your scented oils, light some beeswax candles, and treat your partner to a loving and soothing massage. Receive one in return. Have a glass of wine and get cozy.
- Have a Green Picnic. Make some lunch together, pack it in reusable Tupperware, grab a bottle of wine, real silverware, and cloth napkins, and take it to the park. Enjoy the good vibes Nature offers and bring some games to play while you’re there. When the picnic is over, don’t forget to reuse and recycle!
- Make Something Together. If you both have a knack for DIY, then get crafty! If you’re not so crafty, make your own kiddie art with finger paint and glue sticks.
The state of New York will invest $800 million in government buildings to reduce energy consumption 20 percent by 2016.
To finance the projects, the New York Power Authority will issue debt, which will retrofit state buildings ($450 million) and local government, schools and public hospitals ($350 million).
Retrofits will not only decrease energy demand, but will create thousands of green jobs, keep money circulating in the local economy, and free up resources for essential services.
The debt will be paid back through energy efficiency savings.
Last month, Chicago announced a similar initiative costing $225 million.
Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Results
In related news, NY homeowners will see $46 million in savings on energy bills over the next 10 years thanks to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), says a report by Environmental Advocates of New York.
NY's revenue from the cap-and-trade program is $362 million to date, and the state is using the money to increase efficiency.
Programs funded through RGGI:
Green Jobs Green New York subsidizes energy audits for single family, multifamily, small business, and non-profit building owners, and provides rebates for energy upgrades. Participating homeowners are projected to save nearly $4.5 million on their utility bills over the next decade.
Multifamily Performance Program provides incentives for energy upgrades in multifamily homes. Over $2 million has been invested with 10-year utility bill savings of $28 million.
Green Residential Building Program provides incentives to owners of new homes and existing residential buildings to cut energy use 30 percent.
Empower New York helps low-income New Yorkers cut energy costs by funding energy efficiency improvements. NYSERDA has invested $550,000 of a planned $3 million in energy education, energy audits, and efficiency upgrades.
RGGI has added $1.6 billion in economic value and 16,000 jobs for its 10 state members since the country's first mandatory cap-and-trade program began in 2008. It reduces greenhouse gas emissions from power plants by placing a cap on the carbon they can emit and allowing them to trade allowances.
RGGI states have cut greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent faster than the rest of the country, even as the region's gross product per capita grew 87 percent faster, according to A Record of Leadership: How Northeastern States Are Cutting Global Warming Pollution and Building a Clean Economy.
Unfortunately, the program is under attack by right-wing Koch Brother and oil industry- backed groups, such as Americans for Prosperity. New Jersey pulled out last year after an Americans for Prosperity campaign, but legislative attempts to force New Hampshire, Delaware and Maine to exit have failed.
Six of the top 10 states for energy efficiency are in the Northeast, according to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy. They have set ambitious energy efficiency goals, created innovative energy efficiency "utilities," helped drive the federal government to adopt new energy efficiency standards for appliances, and are among the leaders in implementation of strong building energy codes.
Every northeastern state other than Vermont has adopted a Renewable Energy Standard to increase production of renewable energy.
Here's the report, A Record of Leadership:
Photo by Tim Pearce/flickr/Creative Commons
Reprinted with permission from SustainableBusiness.com
by Guest Author
Stevia is a herb that is becoming an increasingly popular plant to grow in a garden. Health enthusiasts are discovering the immense benefits of having stevia in their selection of plants. An herb that’s endemic to South America, it’s a very useful plant because it acts as a natural sweetener to drinks and food. The leaves of the stevia is so sweet that you can easily include it in your beverage of choice or prepare an extract that you can use on food.
Caring for stevia can be a bit tricky: it’s not the easiest herb to grow. But despite the fact that it needs a bit of extra care, it is an adaptable plant that can be cultivated in diverse climates.
Here are some tips that can help you successfully grow your own stevia:
- You will have more success growing stevia from cuttings or tissue culture. Growing from seeds has a very low rate of success, as low as 10 percent in cases. Also, there’s a chance that stevia grown from seeds won’t be sweet.
- Stevia should be planted in the spring in full sun and using light sandy soil with a neutral pH level. If you live in one of the southern states, make sure that you have some shade on your stevia in the afternoon.
- You can use standard garden fertilizer for your stevia plants. Don’t use fertilizers that contain large amounts of nitrogen.
- If you want to keep the stevioside (the substance that makes stevia sweet) levels of your plants high add some boron to the soil.
- If your stevia is planted on a raised bed, you can use mulch on the soil. Grass clippings or bark mulch will be perfect. Mulch will keep the roots cool, help delay water evaporation and also help to keep the stevia leaves clean of any soil particles, which imbibes a dirty taste to the leaves.
These simple tips are easy to do and will help you succeed in growing stevia in your garden.
Therese loves to call herself a writer slash gardener. These are two things she has a lot of passion for. Currently, Therese writes for a number of blogs while taking care of her garden, where she grows vegetables and herbs, among them stevia.
Reprinted with permission from Sustainablog
The Australian government has added the koala to the list of threatened species in parts of the country for the first time, saying the iconic species is under threat from habitat loss, urban expansion, disease, and climate change. Following a three-year study, Environment Minister Tony Burke announced that koalas will be listed as vulnerable in Queensland, where populations have declined by 40 percent in two decades; New South Wales, where numbers have dropped by one-third; and the Australian Capital Territory. In addition to the listing, which will impose restrictions on development in areas where the species is threatened, the government committed $300,000 for koala monitoring and habitat research. Not only are koalas facing declining food sources as eucalypt plants are aggressively cleared for development, but scientists say the nutritional value of remaining eucalypts has diminished as a result of climate change. While the government says there are about 200,000 remaining koalas nationwide, the Australian Koala Foundation estimates there are likely fewer than 100,000.
Reprinted with permission from Yale Environment 360
20 companies have signed onto a "Norstec" partnership, which will turn the North Sea into a hub for offshore wind and link countries together in a super grid.
Partners include the wind energy supply chain: turbine manufacturers, developers, utilities and component suppliers.
Companies include: Alstom, Areva, Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions, David Brown Gear Systems, Dong Energy, E.ON, EDPR, Fluor, Gamesa, Harland and Wolff, JDR Cables, Mainstream, Modus Seabed Intervention, National Grid, Parsons Brinckerhoff, PMT Industries, Prysmian Group, Renewable UK, REpower, Repsol, Scottish Power, SSE, Siemens, Statkraft, Statoil, TAG Energy Solutions, Vattenfall and Vestas.
The partnership is inspired by Desertec, which will bring renewable energy from the Sahara Desert to Europe.
The announcement was made at the 3rd Clean Energy Ministerial conference taking place in London this week.
During the conference the IEA issued a report warning energy ministers that governments are falling badly behind on low-carbon energy, putting carbon reduction targets out of reach and pushing the world to the brink of catastrophic climate change.
The UK and US signed a partnership to collaborate on energy, beginning with development of floating wind technology.
Britain's target is for 18 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind by 2020, up from 2 GW today.
In January, the world's biggest offshore wind farm came online in the UK, the 367 MW Walney Farm that will power 320,000 homes.
Across Europe, about 141 GW of offshore wind is either built, under construction, consented, or planned in 17 countries.
Photo by Martin Pettitt/flickr/Creative Commons
Reprinted with permission from SustainableBusiness.com