After a decade of wrangling, developer John Rosenthal will break ground today with his ambitious plan to build a solar-powered neighborhood near Fenway Park, filling several acres of parking lots with apartments, offices, stores, and a revamped transit station. The five-building complex, known as Fenway Center, will be unlike anything now standing in Boston, with solar panels to generate much of its electricity. The development will fill a large void between Brookline Avenue and Beacon Street, along and over the Massachusetts Turnpike, and result in the construction of new roads that will improve travel around the neighborhood. “This is going to turn ugly, underutilized parking lots into a world-class neighborhood,’’ Rosenthal said. He won city approval for the project in 2009 and has since been working to get state permits and secure financing in the down economy. While private funding for the $450 million project is not locked down, the groundbreaking kicks off the public transportation improvements that will help clear the way for the development.
GE said on Thursday that it will buy 25,000 electric vehicles for its fleet through 2015 in the "largest-ever" purchase of electric cars. GE will begin with a purchase of 12,000 Chevy Volts from General Motors Co. The purchases will begin in 2011, said GE. GE says that because of its size and technology the company is uniquely positioned to bring the electric vehicles into the mainstream. GE Chief Executive Jeff Immelt said the purchase will help to "move electric vehicles from anticipation to action." "Wide-scale adoption of electric vehicles will also drive clean energy innovation, strengthen energy security and deliver economic value," he said. GM Chief Executive Daniel Akerson described the deal with GE as "a marriage made in heaven" for both corporations." "We're interested in [GE's] watt station, their charging stations," said Akerson. "It dovetails well with this electric vehicle [the Volt] and electric vehicle development across the automobile industry." GE has a current fleet of 30,000 vehicles which are used by GE employees to conduct their business. The conglomerate said it "will add other [electric] vehicles as manufacturers bring them to market." The Chevrolet Volt is expected to roll off production lines later this month.
Green marketing, a movement so hot that not even a deep recession could kill it, is starting to show signs of consumer revolt. At the very least, it's a signal that green alone isn't enough of a marketing proposition; at most, it could signal consumers simply aren't buying the benefits of environmentally positioned products and brands. In recent months, sales have begun to slow in categories such as green cleaners and grow in not-so-sustainable ones like bottled water as shoppers decide they may not be worth the tradeoff. And a September study showed big swings in the number of consumers who believe environmentally friendly alternatives are too expensive, don't work as well as other products and aren't actually better for the environment — all of which seem to add up to what Timothy Kenyon, director of the GfK Roper Green Gauge study calls "green fatigue."
At the current pace of research and development, global oil will run out 90 years before replacement technologies are ready, says a new University of California, Davis, study based on stock market expectations. The forecast was published online Monday (Nov. 8) in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. It is based on the theory that long-term investors are good predictors of whether and when new energy technologies will become commonplace. "Our results suggest it will take a long time before renewable replacement fuels can be self-sustaining, at least from a market perspective," said study author Debbie Niemeier, a UC Davis professor of civil and environmental engineering. Niemeier and co-author Nataliya Malyshkina, a UC Davis postdoctoral researcher, set out to create a new tool that would help policymakers set realistic targets for environmental sustainability and evaluate the progress made toward those goals. Two key elements of the new theory are market capitalizations (based on stock share prices) and dividends of publicly owned oil companies and alternative-energy companies. Other analysts have previously used similar equations to predict events in finance, politics and sports. "Sophisticated investors tend to put considerable effort into collecting, processing and understanding information relevant to the future cash flows paid by securities," said Malyshkina. "As a result, market forecasts of future events, representing consensus predictions of a large number of investors, tend to be relatively accurate." Niemeier said the new study's findings are a warning that current renewable-fuel targets are not ambitious enough to prevent harm to society, economic development and natural ecosystems. "We need stronger policy impetus to push the development of these alternative replacement technologies along," she said.
More than 2,500 attendees from 42 different states and 13 different countries came together in Sacramento for the 34th annual Geothermal Energy Expo, the largest gathering of geothermal energy leaders in the world. The sold out Expo Hall featured 162 exhibitors coming from 34 different states and 10 different countries. Leading companies including Halliburton, Ormat, Stoel Rives LLP, Shaw, Calpine, Geothermal Resource Group, Mitsubishi Power Systems, Enel Green Power, Gradient Resource, Power Engineers, Ruen Drilling Incorporated and Ram Power Corp were in attendance. “The strong growth of the geothermal industry is clearly reflected in this expo, which continues to bring more and more people to see the promise that clean and renewable geothermal power presents.” said GEA Executive Director Karl Gawell. “It’s not just here at home. The U.S. is the leader in geothermal power, and other countries look to America for its expertise. That’s why we had representatives from across the globe at this year’s expo.” High Expectations Will Greet 2011 Expo in San Diego
Los Angeles residents who are considering installing solar panels have an incentive to act quickly: On Tuesday, the city's Board of Water and Power Commissioners approved changes to the Solar Incentive Program that will reduce rebates starting Jan. 1. The Department of Water and Power's present rebate is $3.24 for every watt installed. A 4-kilowatt system, for example, would receive a $12,960 rebate. In 2011, that rate will decline to $2.20. That same 4-kilowatt system will see its rebate drop to $8,800 come Jan. 1. Further reductions -- to $1.50 per watt and, ultimately, to 60 cents -- will roll out as time passes and the utility meets goals for home-generated electricity. The DWP has been deluged with applications for residential solar rebates since 2009, when the U.S. Emergency Economic Stabilization Act kicked in, replacing a $2,000 federal tax credit cap with a dollar amount equal to 30% of the installation cost. The average residential solar system costs between $35,000 and $40,000. L.A. homes generate 22 megawatts each year, far less than 1% of the 25,000 gigawatt-hours used in the city annually. Source: LA Times
Panasonic has invested $30 million in Tesla Motors , building upon a multi-year collaboration of the two companies to accelerate the market expansion of the electric vehicle, the companies said. The investment was made through the purchase of Tesla common stock in a private placement at a price of $21.15 per share. Panasonic is a major battery cell manufacturer and a supplier to the global automotive industry. Tesla currently uses Panasonic battery cells in its advanced battery packs and has collaborated with Panasonic on the development of next-generation battery cells designed specifically for electric vehicles. While Tesla's current battery strategy incorporates proprietary packaging using cells from multiple battery suppliers, Tesla has selected Panasonic as its preferred lithium-ion battery cell supplier for its battery packs, the CE manufacturer said.
The lifetime cost issue of solar -- and one that many people never consider -- is that rooftop PV systems may have to be removed and reinstalled if the roof needs replacement or repairs, which is almost a certainty with asphalt/shingle roofs. While PV systems typically lose a small portion of their potential output (less than 1 percent each year), the systems can operate for decades longer than the typical residential or commercial roof (10-12 years in Georgia). In other words, roofs are likely to be replaced at least once during the typical life of a PV system. According to a report from GRIST.ORG , reinstalling a residential rooftop PV system could cost $6,250 or 25 percent of the installed cost of the system. In our investigation, we found that moving residential PV systems to accommodate a roof replacement could cost as much as 25 percent of the initial system cost (and over 35 percent of the net cost after the application of the 30 percent federal tax credit). Moving systems on a commercial roof was less expensive, on the order of 15 percent of initial installed cost (around 25 percent of the system cost after the tax credit). Source text.
Plug-in electric vehicles, including plug-in hybrids and battery electric vehicles, have the potential to make up 9% of auto sales in 2020 and 22% in 2030 (1.6 million and 4 million vehicle sales respectively), according to research company Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Achieving such growth levels, however, will be dependent on two key factors - aggressive reductions in battery costs and rising gasoline prices. In the short term, price will be the most significant limitation to the uptake of both plug-in hybrid vehicles like the GM Volt and fully electric vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf. The median base price of autos sold between July 2009 and June 2010 in the US was $21,800. By comparison, the Nissan Leaf will cost $26,280 after federal subsidies (including an allowance for charger installation), which is a higher price point than three quarters of all new auto sales.
What if we could tap the power of the ocean to produce electricity? Companies including Lockheed Martin, Wavebob and OpenHydro are working on technologies to capture energy from waves, tides, currents and the ocean’s thermal gradients on a scale that could eventually make the sea a major contributor to the nation’s clean energy supply. Despite its promise, however, to provide continuous electricity — a benefit that solar and wind don’t offer — development of so-called “hydrokinetic” technology (relating to the kinetic energy of moving fluid) has run into technical and fundraising difficulties. For example, the California Utilities Commission rejected a power purchase agreement from utility Pacific Gas & Electric to buy electricity from a project by Finavera Renewables, saying the technology was too unproven and costly. So far, few studies have looked into the environmental impact of ocean and tidal power equipment worldwide. As researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Washington State explained recently, some of the limited studies have taken place outside the U.S., focusing on wildlife not commonly found in the estuaries and oceans hugging this country. Source: Josie Garthwaite – GigaOM
As the founder of CSP Today and organizer of the 1st CSP Today India conference in New Delhi, Belén Gallego is often asked about the future of the CSP industry in India. She has written a piece about the opportunities in the Indian market published recently in CSP Today. Having lived in India for 2 years, it is difficult for me to be impartial when assessing the opportunities in the CSP industry. I believe very firmly in the great capacity of Indians to learn fast and reduce costs –they are specialists in making things cheaper maintaining quality standards. Much as I try, I can´t think of anything that the CSP industry is more in need of. While last year there was very little talk of India becoming one of the biggest markets for CSP, today the question on everybody’s lips is: Will India be a bigger CSP power than China? From an economic and development perspective, India’s economy is performing very well, averaging 8.5% growth this year. Its growth rate could overtake China’s by 2013 - if not before - according to a recent article by The Economist. While China’s growth has been largely state-directed, India’s is driven by 45m entrepreneurs. Private firms have had to compete with the world´s best - and many have discovered that they can. Read full article here.
Rapidly declining equipment costs combined with stronger government support have set the stage for explosive growth in the US solar market over the next decade, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, the world’s leading provider of research and analysis in clean energy and the carbon markets. Solar-powered generating capacity – using photovoltaic and solar thermal electricity technologies – could reach 4.3% of the nation’s power capacity by 2020, depending on the industry’s ability to attract an estimated $100bn of investment. The US today has just 1.4 gigawatts of installed solar power capacity, ranking it fifth globally. But that could rise to 44 gigawatts by 2020, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. In a new report, forecast capacity from large-scale solar thermal projects is projected to rise from 0.4 gigawatts currently to 14 gigawatts by 2020. For photovoltaics, the group anticipates a 34% annual growth rate to 30 gigawatts by 2020. Full Story.
Recently a number of news stories and politically motivated TV ads have run across the country that falsely attack policies critical to keeping Americans working in wind power -- a bright spot in the economy, which has kept 85,000 Americans working during the recession. These stories and campaign ads have challenged renewable energy tax credits (the 1603 tax credits) which have been one of the most effective public policies in existence for saving American jobs. In the recession, project development and financing was difficult to obtain and costly. Many wind projects in mid-development could not complete financing. As a result, wind investment stalled with some projects stopping mid-construction; laying off construction workers and leaving wind towers and blades on the ground. The 1603 tax credit program restarted stalled projects and saved thousands of jobs at risk. Every job saved was an American job. 100% of projects that receive investment tax credits through 1603 are built in the U.S. as required by the Recovery Act. The program also supports America’s growing manufacturing and supply chain industries. U.S. wind turbine domestic manufacturing has grown 12-fold, with an increase in domestic content from 25% only a few years ago to over 50% now, and nearly 400 American manufacturing facilities making wind components. Full Press Release.
The California Energy Commission recently announced EV Connect, a leading provider of electric vehicle infrastructure solutions (EVISs) and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) will be conducting a pilot program to assess the integration of PEV’s into the transportation network and consumer behavior and ridership patterns. This pilot project aims to understand the viability of a PEV-transit network and establish best practices that optimize the consumer experience while reducing the carbon footprint of Los Angeles. The transportation sector alone accounts for 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the State of California, six percent higher than the national average. Completion of this project and its potential as a major transit component will further reduce priority air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions in the City and County of Los Angeles.
Silicon Valley start-up Bloom Energy, which makes fuel cell boxes that can power buildings , expects to be producing one of its boxes per day in the next few months, its chief executive and co-founder said. The main limitation on the growth of the business, since it is based on a new technology, is building a supply chain to feed it, Chief Executive K.R. Sridhar said yesterday. "As the supply chain is ramping up, then we can ramp up, and at no point will our internal capacity become the bottleneck," he told the Reuters Climate Change and Alternative Energy Summit in San Francisco. "If we don't plan it that way, then we get ahead of our headlights." The company, with about 500 employees, has 50 systems deployed and expects to have double that number working by the end of the year, said Sridhar, who wants to be producing far more boxes to meet what he calls "robust" demand. "I'm not patient by nature," he said. "Getting all the ducks lined up so that we can be making a lot more than one box a day, that's what I worry about." Bloom's boxes cost $700,000 to $800,000, and each provides 100 kilowatts of electricity--enough to power 100 average U.S. homes--with roughly the footprint of a parking space. Source: Reuters
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