As momentum gathers for the creation of an Internet-like "smart grid" that will do for the electricity grid what the Internet did for home shopping, the WSJ reports the cyberspace wars have begun. The big question is whether the move to a smart grid would increase the country's vulnerability to cyber attacks, or serve as the best form of defense. California-based Electric Power Research Institute has been selected by the Commerce Department to draw up the "roadmap" of the new smart grid. Its main task will be figuring out just what standards should prevail in that brave new world.
Germany's Reichstag in Berlin is set to become the first parliamentary building in the world to be powered 100 percent by renewable energy. Soon the entire country will follow suit. Germany is accelerating its efforts to become the world's first industrial power to use 100 percent renewable energy -- and given current momentum, it could reach that green goal by 2050. A new Roadmap published by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment sketches out the route the world's largest exporter plans to take to switch over completely to renewable energy, and add 800,000 to 900,000 new cleantech jobs by 2030 as it does so.
General Motors will make another push into the realm of alternative vehicle technology through a joint venture with Segway Inc. to produce a two-wheeled upright personal transporter. The auto maker is targeting a 2012 launch for its electric-powered PUMA transporter, which would also employ wireless technology to allow users to navigate in urban areas and avoid traffic congestion. A prototype of the PUMA - which stands for Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility - will take to the streets of Manhattan this week during the New York auto show .
Italy installed a national smart grid before the term was even coined. The Italian utility Enel has installed 30 million smart meters since 2001, and it estimates savings at $6.74 million a year. The savings that come from smart grid technologies, however, aren't always easily predicted. In Italy, for instance, the money in homes saved doesn't come through demand response programs. Instead, it comes because the utility can deliver electricity at lower voltages to homes because of the meters and because of phase balancing, a process that better matches the output from the utility with the usage patterns of homes.
The Clean Tech Open , the innovation catalyst that helps great ideas become viable clean tech businesses has challenged entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, government agencies, universities, and non-government organizations (NGOs) to participate in the Clean Tech Open's 100K Jobs Challenge - to create 100,000 clean tech jobs in America over the next five years. The leading clean tech business competition has already helped more than 120 entrepreneurs launch companies-and subsequently raise over $125 million in external funding-since its inception in 2006.
As part of a market liberalization plan, 80% of European households will be outfitted with energy-saving 'smart' utility meters over the next decade. Some 80 percent of European consumers are set to have smart energy meters installed in their homes by 2020 as part of a deal on liberalising the EU's energy market. This will allow them not only to carefully screen and control energy consumption, but also to sell energy back to the network, for instance by installing solar panels on the roof.
U.S. homeowners might start seeing energy monitoring services being offered alongside "triple-play" TV, phone and Internet service as early as this year. Think of it as a "smart home" incentive to get people to buy telecom broadband services. The question, of course, is whether homeowners will want to pay what telecoms will want to charge to make it worth their while.
The European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) presented its annual market figures to its members on Friday 20 March 2009. The global solar photovoltaic (PV) market grew to at least 5.5 GW in 2008 compared to 2.4 GW in 2007. Spain ranks first, followed by Germany. This year, experts believe the market could reach up to 7 GW, each individual country's development influencing the final figure.
The Solar Energy Industries Association released its 2008 U.S. Solar Industry Year in Review , highlighting a third year of record growth. SEIA reports 1,265 megawatts of solar power of all types were installed in 2008, raising total capacity 17 percent to 8,775 MW. The 2008 figure included 342 MW of solar photovoltaic (PV), 139 MW of solar water heating, 762 MW of pool heating and an estimated 21 MW of solar space heating and cooling. SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch: "Despite economic pressures, solar energy demand grew tremendously in 2008. Solar is an emerging economic engine, creating thousands of jobs, unleashing billions in investment and building new factories nationwide.
On the second day of his tour of Southern California, President Obama highlighted his environmental jobs agenda with a visit to an electric-vehicle testing facility in Pomona, where he announced a $2.4-billion competitive grant program to make the electric vehicles more widely available . As a receptive audience of engineers and workers cheered his plans, Obama pledged to put a million plug-in hybrid vehicles on the road by 2015, and highlighted his offer of up to $7,500 in tax credits for Americans who purchase electric vehicles.
Consumers have heard for years that solar, wind, and geothermal power might soon cut their monthly energy bills. But things get exciting, even exotic, looking a decade or two ahead . Scientists envision that light bulbs will talk to switches, furnaces to windows, and everything to the Internet. Homes generate their own power in basement plants. Windows and paint change color to harvest sunlight or reject it. But ... cutting home energy use means changing consumer behavior and industry practice. That said, promising new technologies are emerging in labs, and some in commercial buildings, that in a decade or two could win over even the most skeptical builders and homeowners.
IBM is already staking claims in the smart grid industry to better manage electricity. Now it's doing the same for water, with a broad offering that will include developing sensor and intelligence networks for water utilities, smart water meters and a new technology for water filtration. IBM sees a role for information technology in the water world that's analogous to its role in smart grid projects according to Sharon Nunes, vice president of IBM's "Big Green Innovations" team. That includes sensor networks that can track water flow and quality, water meters that can give utilities and customers up-to-date information on water use and price, and complex "predictive" modeling to let water managers plan for the future.
An in depth look at the recent spate of investment in European thin film companies. The EU recently reinforced its commitment to renewable energy with an EU-wide directive that commits the EU to 20 percent renewable energy targets by 2020. Specifically from the solar industry perspective, a lot would depend upon Germany's continued support. Last month, the European Commission backed nearly €100 million euros ($129 million) in aid to two solar power projects in Germany.
America's electric power grid is subject to immense inefficiencies that arise from the interplay between centralized power generation, local power consumption and on demand utility service. The goal of the Smart Grid is to maximize the efficiency of existing generating facilities and accommodate the integration of renewable power resources. This article discusses manufactured energy storage devices ; enabling technologies that will be the beating heart of the Smart Grid for the next 10 to 20 years.
A group of nine leading biomass companies has formed the Biomass Thermal Energy Council (BTEC) , a non-profit association dedicated to advancing the use of biomass for heat and other thermal energy applications. The founding members of BTEC include biomass fuel producers, appliance manufacturers and distributors, and supply chain companies that represent the breadth of interests in the fast growing biomass thermal energy industry. Thermal energy accounts for roughly one-third of the energy used today in the United States. Renewable biomass resources can help meet this demand for thermal energy by providing heat for industrial processes as well as heating for businesses and homes.
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