Renault and Nissan partner up on sustainability strategy

Announcing a six year sustainability strategy today, French automaker Renault said it hopes to sell 1.5 million electric vehicles (EVs) by 2016. Drive the Change, which is the tagline for Renault's sustainability strategy, intends to concentrate on EVs and a new generation of low emissions engines. It aims to achieve sales of over 3m vehicles in 2013 and at least 2bn in aggregate free cash flow. Renault's operating margin target is to surpass 5pc of revenues in 2013. Renault revealed that as part of a new alliance with Nissan, it will be introducing three electric models - Fluence Z.E., Kangoo Z.E., and Twiz. The vehicles are part of an overall strategy to reduce emissions. In 2012 the group will also introduce the Zoe supermini. It is hoped that by 2015 the alliance will have achieved a production capacity of 500,000 vehicles and, by 2016, it wants to have 1.5m EVs on the road. Renault also announced that its portfolio of combustion engines will include its new 1.6 engine "Energy dCi 130", which will cut CO2 emissions by 20pc compared with the previous generation. The car manufacturer's new Energy TCe gasoline engines will reduce CO2 emissions among vehicles in the A, B and C segments by an estimated 30pc. These innovations will assist in the reduction of CO2 emissions in Europe, emitting - on average - less than 120g by 2013, and less than 100g by 2016.

Super Bowl Energy Use Offset With Texas Wind Power

The electricity used at Cowboys Stadium for Super Bowl XLV on Sunday was offset 100 percent with the purchase of wind energy credits. For every megawatt-hour of electricity used to power the event and its associated facilities, an equivalent amount of wind energy will be generated at a wind farm in Texas, said green energy retailer Just Energy. All the electricity that powered the jumbo screens, TV cameras, the Black-Eyed Peas halftime show, and stadium lights, heated the food and cooled the beer will be generated by the Sweetwater Wind Farm located in Nolan County, Texas, 228 miles west of Dallas. The wind power offset is the result of an agreement between between Just Energy, the National Football League and the North Texas Super Bowl XLV Host Committee. Just Energy will purchase renewable energy certificates on behalf of the Super Bowl to offset all direct and indirect carbon emissions associated with power generation at major Super Bowl XLV venues.

Wind turbine prices fall to their lowest in recent years

Increasing scale, improved efficiency and over-capacity among wind energy hardware manufacturers have combined to push the average price of onshore wind turbines below €1m ($1.36m) per megawatt. The fourth issue of Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s Wind Turbine Price Index shows that fierce downward pressure on prices has continued in recent months in all parts of the world. Bloomberg New Energy Finance analyzed confidential data provided by 28 major purchasers of wind turbines. The sample includes more than 150 undisclosed turbine contracts, totaling nearly 7GW of capacity in 28 markets globally – with a main focus on Europe and the Americas. Dropping turbine prices may be uncomfortable for manufacturers, but it is good news for project developers and it further improves the cost-competitiveness of wind energy compared with gas and coal. Click to view the main conclusions of the analysis.

Building a bridge to renewable energy

Bridges are generally exposed to the elements, meaning they generally get a nice dose of sunlight often coupled with some fairly strong crosswinds. For these reasons this “Solar Wind” bridge design would seem to make a lot of sense. The proposed bridge would harness solar energy through a grid of solar cells embedded in the road surface, while wind turbines integrated into the spaces between the bridge’s pillars would be used to generate electricity from the crosswinds. The brainchild of Italian designers Francesco Colarossi, Giovanna Saracino and Luisa Saracino, the Solar Wind concept was designed for the Solar Park Works – Solar Highway competition that asked entrants to modernize sections of a decommissioned elevated highway stretching between Bagnera and Scilla in Italy. The road surface would replace traditional asphalt with 20 km (12.4 miles) of “solar roadways” consisting of a dense grid of solar cells coated with a transparent and durable plastic coating providing 11.2 million kWh per year. The designers say this system, combined with the 26 wind turbines integrated underneath the bridge generating 36 million kWh per year, would provide enough electricity to power approximately 15,000 homes.

AltEnergyMag has launched a New Alternative Energy Industry Forum

San Diego, California, February 3, 2011 -, a leading online alternative energy publication, announced the launch of an Alternative Energy Forum. The open forum is designed to be a community for the Alternative Energy Industry to discuss a variety of topics including Solar, Wind, BioFuels and more. AltEnergyMag founder and editor Bob Hetherington says "We have set up a few of what we think are some important forum topics but this is just the beginning so we need the input and participation of our readers to make it grow into a valuable source of discussion and information for the Industry." He goes onto say "I think that the Forum at will be a valuable and interesting resource for our readers, and we are delighted to provide this service to the alternative energy community."

Volt sales are kicking the Leaf's butt

In January, General Motors sold 321 Chevrolet Volt cars. Meanwhile, Nissan, its fiercest electric car competitor, has sold just 87 Leaf cars in the U.S. Both cars went into production at the end of November. GM had originally planned to sell the Volt in only select areas of the country before 2012, but the automaker announced last week that it would expand sales of the Volt to all 50 states by the end of the year. Nissan has said 20,000 people have put down $99 deposits to be put on a waiting list for the car. Those people will get their cars, Al Castignetti, general manager for Nissan in the U.S., said, it just isn't certain when. "Our main goal right now is quality, not quantity," he said. So far, he said, there have been no quality issues and Nissan is working gradually to ramp up production. Nissan plans to open a U.S. plant to build the Leaf in 2012. For now, all Leafs are built in Japan. In December, just after the cars went into production, Nissan sold 19 Leafs in the U.S. while GM sold 326 Volts.

U.S. wind energy industry finishes 2010 with half the installations of 2009

America's wind industry built 5,115 megawatts of wind power last year, barely half of 2009's record pace, but entered 2011 with over 5,600 megawatts currently under construction - and with wind cost-competitive with natural gas for new electric generation, utilities are moving to lock in favorable rates. AWEA reported today that 3,195 megawatts (MW) of wind-powered electric generating capacity came online in the fourth quarter of 2010. That performance was below the 4,113 MW installed in the same period in 2009, but a leap from the third quarter of 2010, when only 670 MW were installed. The U.S. finished the year with a total of 5,115 MW of new wind power. Buoyed by a one-year extension of the 1603 Investment Tax Credit for renewable energy in the final days of the 111th Congress, the industry entered the new year with over 5,600 MW of electric power currently under construction, well above the same time a year earlier. Further projects are expected to start up in time to meet the new construction deadline for the tax credit, now set to expire at the end of 2011. The industry is likely to finish 2011 ahead of 2010 numbers, according to Elizabeth Salerno, AWEA Director of Industry Data & Analysis.

70 gallons of renewable cellulosic gasoline from one dry ton of waste feedstock

Houston-based bioenergy technology firm Terrabon Inc. achieved a significant milestone this week by exceeding its target yield threshold of 70 gallons of renewable cellulosic gasoline from one dry ton of waste feedstock at its demonstration facility in Bryan, Texas. "Just the research around the process conditions to ultimately achieve that conversion is where a lot of the research in our lab, and translating that into our demonstration plant, has really made this come to fruition," said Terrabon CEO Gary Luce. Terrabon's MixAlco process is described by Luce as a linkage of biological fermentation and chemical processes. It begins by treating the feedstock with lime to enhance its digestibility, and then fermenting the biomass using a mixed-culture of microorganisms to produce a mixture of carboxylic acids. Calcium carbonate is added to the fermentation to neutralize the acids to form corresponding carboxylate salts, which are then dewatered, concentrated, dried and thermally converted to ketones. The ketones are then hydrogenated to alcohols that can be refined into renewable gasoline, diesel or jet fuel blendstocks.

'Clean energy standard' pushed

President Barack Obama nudged lawmakers on Tuesday night to take another swing at several high-profile energy ideas, including phasing out of billions of dollars in oil subsidies, ramping up use of biofuels and electric vehicles and setting a nationwide goal for "clean energy sources" that includes nuclear and "clean coal." Obama suggested the White House will also continue to push efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions - although he didn't use the phrase climate change - and promote clean energy technologies despite the death of cap-and-trade legislation last year. The president sought to make a direct link between economic growth and clean energy policies, while studiously avoiding picking favorites among several different power sources that can quickly prompt bitter regional fights, as well as partisan ones.

Solar Energy International Launches Free Introduction to Renewable Energy Online Course

Introduction to Renewable Energy is Solar Energy International's NEW free online course for those who wish to learn the basics of renewable energy - including where it is found, how we can harvest it for use in our homes and how it can help ease pressures on the environment. You will not become an expert through this course, but you will get to know renewable energy in its many forms - helping you to decide whether solar, wind or other renewable technologies are right for you. If you've never taken an online course from SEI, this is a great preview into our online course structure and learning experience. We hope this will lower any inhibitions you may have in taking an online course by giving you this free opportunity to experience the SEI Online Campus. This free 10-lesson course includes education on conservation and efficiency, sustainable building, solar thermal, solar electricity, wind power, microhydro power, renewable energy for the developing world, and the economics of renewable energy.

Clean-energy collaboration could enhance U.S.-China relations

Cooperation on clean energy could be a high point in U.S.-China relations leading to benefits for both countries, government and business officials said ahead of a summit between Chinese President Hu Jintao and President Barack Obama. Disputes between the world's two largest economies and energy consumers over China's wind power subsidies and its slowdown in exports of rare earths minerals, used in everything from wind turbines to cell phones, have dominated headlines in recent months. As China tries to transform its economy from the manufacturing of cheap goods into one developing and distributing sophisticated technologies, such as clean energy, spats over intellectual property rights have already troubled trade relations between the two countries. But pressure on both countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reel in fossil fuel demand may push them to overcome these differences.

New 'green city' for environmentally damaged country

Until now, Abu Dhabi has been known as the quiet powerhouse behind its flashier neighbor, Dubai, bankrolling record-breaking skyscrapers and fantastical island resorts intended to make the United Arab Emirates synonymous with luxury, wealth and success. But now Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, is looking to set a different kind of example. The Masdar development project, due to be completed in 2013, aims to be the world's first carbon-neutral, zero-waste city. Clocking in with a healthy $22-billion price tag, Masdar is to house approximately 1,500 clean-tech companies and 40,000 residents, and support 50,000 commuters. In addition to new technology, the design draws on traditional Arab and Islamic spatial principles to create a natural cooling effect and require less air conditioning. Narrow streets with cantilevered facades are to help maximize shading and reduce glare in order to provide cooler ambient temperatures. These architectural details combined with strategic green space and a renewable-energy-powered public transportation system are intended to minimize energy demand and pollution.

Investors Loved Wind, Solar, Efficiency in 2010

Investors loved the opportunities of the wind and solar sectors and the quick returns of energy-efficiency firms in 2010, according to a U.S. market report (PDF) by Peachtree Capital Advisors. The wind industry had close to $4.8 billion in transaction value in 2010, which included private fund-raising deals, initial public offerings, and mergers and acquisitions. Solar generated a transaction value of $3.2 billion, and energy efficiency, which includes smart grid and LED lighting companies, followed with $2.5 billion. The transaction values run parallel to the cleantech investing numbers for 2010, which found that solar startups continued to draw the most money in venture capital investment last year, while energy-efficiency startups garnered the largest number of deals, according to the Cleantech Group. However, given utility-scale wind is a more matured market, there are fewer investments in next wind technology startups.

Los Angeles gets country's first fully alt-fuel transit fleet

Metro is now the only major transit agency in the U.S. with a fleet run entirely on alternative fuels. Officials say the shift has sharply cut emissions of cancer-causing pollution. After almost two decades of effort to reduce vehicle emissions, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority retired its last diesel bus Wednesday and became the only major transit agency in the nation with a fleet that is totally equipped with alternative-fuel technologies. In an urban area where diesel buses began operating in 1940, the MTA now has 2,221 buses powered by compressed natural gas, as well as one electric bus and six gasoline-electric hybrids. Transit officials estimate that the elimination of diesel engines has reduced the release of cancer-causing particulates from the bus fleet by 80% and greenhouse gases by about 300,000 pounds a day in one of the smoggiest areas of the country. MTA officials say that compressed natural gas buses cost more to buy and maintain than those powered by diesel but that the increased expenses are offset somewhat over the long run by lower fuel costs.

Apple Gets Patent for Solar Powered Gear

The sun may be in your iPhone battery's future. Yesterday, Apple received Patent No. 7,868,582 from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for powering electronics partially with solar power. The patent, which was originally filed in 2009, describes a system of using a solar panel for charging different portable devices, including a notebook computer, tablet, phone, or other handheld gadget. It specifically deals with converting the power from a solar panel to meet the power requirements of electronics. The system includes a voltage converter that ensures the available solar power can be converted and used to recharge batteries. The solar panel could either be embedded in the device or be removable, according to the patent. Although Apple has not yet released any solar-powered gadgets, it's clear that the company is interested in letting people use sunlight to charge when they can't get to an AC outlet. It's the fourth patent that Apple has received related to solar power, according to Patently Apple.

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