Growing Contribution of Wind Energy Fuels Economic Growth in Canada

The growth of Canada's wind energy industry is contributing to the increase in high quality jobs for Ontarians and injecting millions of dollars into communities hosting wind energy developments, Canadian Wind Energy Association president Robert Hornung said in a speech to the Toronto Board of Trade. Mr. Hornung outlined the environmental, economic, industrial development, and employment benefits wind energy developments bring to Ontario - and urged all levels of government and political parties to learn the facts about the opportunity that wind energy represents. "Wind energy is well established in many European countries and has a long history in the United States, but it's still a relatively new contributor to Canada's electricity supply," said Mr. Hornung. "Wind energy's contribution in Canada is steadily increasing - and with this growth we see the evolution of a new and vibrant industry that is delivering manufacturing jobs, revitalizing rural economies, and generating emissions-free power." Ontario is the largest market for wind energy in Canada, with 1,598 MW of installed capacity today and more than 1,500 additional MW already contracted to be built in the next few years. Last year alone, 9 new wind farms came on line in Ontario, representing about 300 MW of new installed capacity. The Ontario government announced February 24 contracts for four new wind farm projects, totaling 615 MW of coming on line around 2014.

Solar Power collector doubles as greenhouse shade

Solyndra has found a second use for its solar collector as a shade for greenhouses. The company on Monday said that that its solar collectors, which are an array of solar cell-covered glass tubes, are being tested at agriculture research centers in Italy and the University of California, Davis. A conventional flat solar panel would block essentially all light, but Solyndra's collectors allow for light to pass through the glass tubes, which are coated with thin-film solar cells. That provides a diffused light conducive to greenhouse plant growth and allows growers to use their available space for power production, the company said. "We are pioneering this new agricultural solar solution in Italy, where extensive shaded agriculture operations combined with strong insolation and a favorable feed-in tariff are driving strong interest and demand," Clemens Jargon, the president of Solyndra in Europe, Middle East, and Africa, said in a statement.

Solar Power Comes to Saudi Arabia in a Big Way as Peak Oil Looms

Saudi Arabia is the world's largest exporter of oil. But as experts and WikiLeaks previously detailed--the country's oil supply may be fast dwindling and that has made renewable energy options, such as solar, that much more appealing. Just this week the country announced that construction of its largest solar power plant will be completed by September--and this just days after WikiLeaks reports about exaggerated oil quantities from the country hit the news. "The solar market in the Gulf region is still in its infancy," said Klaus Friedl, general manager of Phoenix Solar, the firm contracted to build the new solar plant. "There is, however, a huge potential for solar power plants in Saudi Arabia." The concern over oil shortages is no longer limited to supplying foreign countries--the rate of domestic consumption in Saudi Arabia is set to triple in the next 20 years to 120 gigawatts, which means that Saudis could foreseeably consume all of their oil just for themselves. "It's really a preservation decision using solar for domestic consumption and keeping your oil for more lucrative export markets," said Vahid Fotuhi, Middle East director of BP Solar. "Right now, out of the 8 million barrels per day they produce, over 3 million barrels per day are consumed domestically, mainly for power generation. That figure is growing 8 percent per annum," said Fotuhi.

Dow Chemical Co. plans to start commercial production of its Powerhouse solar power roof shingles this year

Dow Chemical Co. plans to start commercial production of its Powerhouse solar roof shingles this year, even before it starts operating its new plant in Midland, Mich. And it has high hopes that the shingles will not just succeed, but that they will become a mass-market product. Dow's thin-film copper indium gallium diselenide solar cells currently are manufactured on a flexible substrate by Global Solar Energy Inc. in Tucson. The cell is then integrated by Dow into a proprietary polymeric-based shingle using injection molding. Right now, Dow is making the shingles in limited quantities at its solar market development plant, in Midland, which is being retooled to support commercialization. "Dow has completed six pilot projects in various U.S. markets with new-construction builders and residential re-roofing contractors, said Pezolt. "A number of additional projects will be completed in the coming weeks," he said.

Machine turns plastic bags into Biofuel

A Japanese inventor has created a machine suitable for home use that can turn plastic waste into fuel, a technological feat that could give us something to do with all the grocery sacks piling up under our kitchen sinks. The plastic in bags, bottles, caps and other packaging products is made from oil. Akinori Ito's machine turns it back to its original form via a carbon-negative process. It heats up the plastic, traps the vapors in a system of pipes and water chambers that cool the vapors and condense them back into crude oil, explains the website Clean Technica. The crude biofuel is suitable for use in generators and some types of stoves. It can be further refined into gasoline. The machine is sold by Ito's Blest Corporation and is praised for its efficiency: It can convert a kilogram of plastic waste into a liter of oil using a kilowatt-hour of energy. The current system costs $10,000, but Ito hopes the price will fall as demand and production rise. Ito's machine isn't the first to convert waste plastic into biofuel, but is gaining kudos for its size: It's built for home use. Other solutions are larger, such as the Envion Oil Generator, which is capable of processing 10,000 tons of plastic waste annually. Each ton of waste translates to three to five barrels of crude oil that can be further refined to commercial fuels such as gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel. A demonstration plant opened in Washington in 2009.

Obama's budget to call for slashing oil tax breaks, boosting alternative energy

President Obama is expected to call on Congress Monday to eliminate billions of dollars in oil industry tax breaks, while setting aside money for his top clean-energy policy priorities. Obama will send his fiscal year 2012 budget request to Congress on Monday. The budget comes as Republicans are calling for massive cuts in spending, unveiling a proposal this week to fund the government through the end of this fiscal year that would cut $100 billion in spending when compared to Obama's 2011 budget request. Obama's 2012 budget request will also make major budget cuts. It will freeze domestic spending for he next five years and cut the deficit by $1.1 trillion over the next decade. Obama's budget request will call for eliminating a series of oil industry tax breaks. The Department of Energy estimates that such a repeal will save $3.6 billion in fiscal year 2012 and a total of $46.2 billion during the next decade.

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 - AltEnergyMag.com, 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 AltEnergyMag.com 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.

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