Solar-Powered Plane Debuts

The aircraft made its maiden voyage Wednesday in Switzerland, as a team of engineers and adventurers marked an important step in a $93.5 million project to build the first aircraft capable of circumnavigating the globe without a drop of fuel. The plane itself, Solar Impulse, is an unwieldy beast. Wings as wide as those on a 747 are decked out with solar panels to provide enough power to keep the 3,500-pound craft cruising at about 44 mph. Test pilot Markus Scherdel managed to take the aircraft almost a mile above the Swiss countryside, executing simple turns during the 90-minute flight before making a successful landing.

UPS adds 200 more hybrids to fleet

United Parcel Service (UPS) has added an additional 200 hybrid delivery vehicles to its fleet of low-emissions and alternative energy vehicles. With this latest addition, UPS now has more than 20,000 green vehicles in its fleet! The 200 new HEV package cars are expected to reduce fuel consumption by roughly 176,000 gallons over the course of a year compared to an equivalent number of traditional diesel trucks. The hybrids also should reduce by 1,786 metric tons the amount of CO2 gases released annually into the atmosphere.

Tesla Wins Alternative Energy Rally

A Tesla Roadster has become the first electric vehicle to win the Monte Carlo Alternative Energy Rally and the first to win an FIA-sanctioned competition. Driven by Formula One driver Erik Comas, the Arctic white Roadster beat 96 competitors in range, efficiency and performance. The Roadster's victory in the three-day, nearly 1,000-kilometer challenge also marks the first time an electric vehicle has dominated a certified Federation Internationale de l'Automobile competition. The Roadster scored definitive victories in two additional categories, including the Efficiency Cup and the Electric Vehicles Cup.

China vs U.S. in clean energy investing war

This is a war we want to encourage. China overtook the United States in renewable energy investments for the first time ever in 2009, attracting nearly twice as many dollars and becoming the world's largest market for clean energy projects. Renewable energy investments in China - mostly wind farms - totaled $34.6 billion in 2009, according to report released Thursday by the Pew Charitable Trusts and Bloomberg New Energy Finance. In the United States, $18.6 billion was spent. The report noted that over 700,000 clean energy jobs have been created in the Untied States since 1998, and with so much money being invested in the alternative energy market, this was likely just the beginning.

Electric Vehicle Charging Stations in US

What's billed as the biggest roll-out of electric vehicle infrastructure in the world is about to begin in the United States. Urban planners are deciding where to locate more than 11,000 charging stations in 11 major cities. They want those stations up and running when the first mass-market electric cars from Nissan and General Motors go on sale at the end of this year. Last year, the Department of Energy awarded $100 million to eTec, an electric transportation research and development firm, to build electric vehicle charging networks in five states. eTec is installing more than 2,000 electric car chargers in the greater Seattle area in western Washington, and another 2,000 at homes and public places in four Oregon cities. They'll be near shopping centers, fast food restaurants and movie theaters, "the variety of places that people think about when they're able to park and leave the vehicle for an hour or two."

Chevron Tests 7 Solar Technologies at an old refinery site in California

The oil giant Chevron has transformed an old refinery site in California into a test bed for seven advanced photovoltaic solar technologies, which the company is evaluating for use at its facilities worldwide. Chevron is unveiling 7,700 solar panels installed on 18 acres in Bakersfield, the capital of California's oil patch. Called Project Brightfield, the plant will generate 740 kilowatts of electricity to power nearby oil operations. Any excess electricity will be fed to the power grid. Chevron will test the technologies for three years and decide which might merit use at the company's facilities, or by Chevron Energy Solutions, which builds solar power plants and installs solar arrays for commercial customers.

China's State Grid Corp. to accelerate building of electric vehicle charging stations

The State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) has announced plans to accelerate the building of electric vehicle charging stations in 27 cities in 2010. Plans are for 75 public charging stations, 6,209 AC charging spots and some battery replacement stations, with the aim of supporting the country's "Energy efficient and new energy vehicle pilot program." Since 2006, the SGCC has acquired 101 electric vehicles and constructed 30 pilot charging stations, and has cooperated with the Beijing municipal government in the design of seven electric bus lines and manufacture of 58 electric buses.

FCC's National Broadband Plan

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) unveiled the first U.S. National Broadband Plan on Tuesday morning. And — what we're particularly interested in — there's an entire chapter on Energy and the Environment (Chapter 12, Page 245) . The National Broadband Plan looks at how broadband can be used to build out a smarter power grid, make information technology more efficient and make transportation cleaner. Some recommendations include: States should reduce impediments and financial disincentives to using commercial service providers for Smart Grid communications. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC ) should start a proceeding to explore the reliability and resiliency of commercial broadband communications networks. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the FCC should continue their joint efforts to identify new uses for federal spectrum and should consider the requirements of the Smart Grid. Congress should consider amending the Communications Act to enable utilities to use the proposed public safety 700 MHz wireless broadband network.

Cooling by Sound

Cooling applications represent 25% of all electricity use in the United States, consuming over 7 quadrillion BTUs of energy and generating nearly 600 million metric tons of CO2 emissions annually. The Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), is developing a new form of refrigeration that could be three times as efficient as existing forms. It's based on thermoacoustics, a technology that works for cooling at extremely low temperatures (such as for liquefying gases), but hasn't been used for cooling at room temperature (what you need for household refrigeration). PARC has developed a proprietary thermoacoustic refrigeration technology that can achieve double the efficiency of the best current residential and commercial air conditioning and refrigeration systems. Wide adoption of PARC's technology could lead to dramatic energy savings and greatly reduced CO2 emissions. PARC's approach could: Double the efficiency of air conditioning Save 4 quadrillion BTUs (13% of total U.S. electricity use) per year Reduce CO2 emissions by 311 million metric tons annually

Sweden Goal - 50% Renewable Energy by 2020

Maud Olofsson, Sweden's Enterprise and Energy Minister, announced recently the addition of 2,000 wind turbines to the country's alternative energy regimen. The move, which would be rolled out over the next ten years would add 10 terawatt hours of clean energy per year to their grid. But is that enough for the Scandinavian country? Apparently not because they've also set a goal for themselves to have 50 percent (yes, half!) of their electricity come from renewable sources by 2020!

Richest Loan Gurantee for Alternative Energy Project Ever

BrightSource Energy Inc. has won a $1.4 billion loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy to build three concentrated solar power plants in the Mojave Desert, just weeks after the company scaled back plans to address concerns over the desert tortoise.  The complex will generate 392 megawatts of electricity using thousands of mirrors to focus the power of the sun to create steam that drives electrical turbines. It'll produce enough power for about 140,000 homes. Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison Co. signed up to buy power from the plants, which will be built by Bechtel and create about 1,000 construction jobs and 86 permanent jobs. Construction on the first plant is expected to begin in the second half of 2010.

The 170mpg IngoCar

Valentin Technologies has given the public its first glimpse of its IngoCar, currently in development. The vehicle's estimated mileage is 170 mpg based on a mix of city and rural driving. This extraordinary fuel efficiency is achieved by a revolutionary hydraulic-fluid drive. This hybrid gasoline/hydraulic drive system can deliver acceleration from 0-60 in 4 seconds. Using a small engine, fluid is pumped into an accumulator. The fluid then drives hydraulic wheel motors for shiftless acceleration. During braking, motors are reversed and pump the entire recuperated braking energy back into the accumulator. This innovative technology and the car's light weight give an estimated range of 1,000 miles for a full 6 gallon tank of fuel.

Will Bloom Box Save the World?

Five to ten years from now, you could have a $3000 fuel cell power generator the size of a clock radio in your basement, turning natural gas into electrical power at twice the efficiency possible today. That's the promise of the Bloom Box , a tiny power plant that combines oxygen and natural gas, a biogas or solar energy, and creates electricity. So far, Bloom Boxes are the size of about four refrigerators, costing $700,000 to $800,000. Early adopters are companies such as eBay and Google, already saving money using these boxes.

First U.S. wave-power farm

Construction has begun off Oregon's coast on the first commercial U.S. wave-energy farm, planned to supply power to about 400 homes, according to a USA TODAY report. Wave power draws from the energy of ocean surface waves. A float on a buoy rises and falls with the waves, driving a plunger connected to a hydraulic pump that converts the vertical movement into electricity. The first buoy will measure 150 feet tall by 40 feet wide, weigh 200 tons and cost $4 million,  according to Phil Pellegrino, spokesman for New Jersey-based developer Ocean Power Technologies, which is developing the project.

Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid

The innovative hybrid technology featured in the car has been developed especially for racing, standing out significantly in its configuration and components from conventional hybrid systems. In this case, electrical front axle drive with two electric motors developing 60 kW each supplements the 480-bhp four-litre flat-six at the rear of the 911 GT3 R Hybrid. A further significant point is that instead of the usual batteries in a hybrid road car, an electrical flywheel power generator fitted in the interior next to the driver delivers energy to the electric motors. The flywheel generator itself is an electric motor with its rotor spinning at speeds of up to 40,000 rpm, storing energy mechanically as rotation energy.

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