According to the most recent issue of the "Monthly Energy Review" by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), renewable energy sources (i.e., biofuels, biomass, geothermal, hydroelectric, solar, wind) provided 11.14% of domestic U.S. energy production during the first six months of 2010 – the latest time-frame for which data has been published.  This continues the steady growth trend for renewable energy. Renewables accounted for 10.71% of domestic energy production during the first six months of 2009 and 10.35% during the first six months of 2008.   Renewable energy sources provided 4.106 quadrillion Btus between January 1, 2010 and June 30, 2010 - an increase of 4.91% over the first half of 2009 and an increase of 8.37% over the first half of 2008. The largest single renewable energy source was biomass (including biofuels) which accounted for 50.66% of renewable energy production, followed by hydropower at 32.56%. Wind, geothermal, and solar sources provided 10.91%, 4.53%, and 1.32% of the total renewable energy output respectively. Moreover, renewable energy’s contribution to the nation’s domestic energy production is now almost equal to that provided by nuclear power. Nuclear power accounted for 11.19% of domestic energy production during the first half of 2010 - compared to 11.14% from renewables. But while renewable sources continue to expand, nuclear output in 2010 dropped - declining by 1.3% from its comparable 2009 level.

Kia premieres its unique electric concept car

Spotlighting Kia's increasing focus on striking design and new technologies, the chrome-colored, three-metre-long three-seater POP with its electric drivetrain, oblong-shaped side windows and front-hinged doors took centre stage on Kia's Paris Show stand. Unconventional features of POP – the striking side-window design, the high-tech feel of the dot-pattern head and taillights, back-lit front grille, rear-view cameras in each door, full-length glass roof, and the simplistic look of the wheels – all point to inspiration from outside the usual automotive spheres, such as gliders and high-speed bicycles. POP is also in fact a fully-electric, zero-emissions car with a 60 ps, 190 Nm motor. It's powered by highly efficient, compact lithium polymer gel batteries and is fully rechargeable in just six hours. Top speed is 140 kph, with a maximum range of 160 km on a single charge. The POP concept was designed by Kia's European design team under the direction of Peter Schreyer, Kia's Chief Design Officer, and Gregory Guillaume, Kia Europe's Chief Designer. Source: Kia

Adobe draws power from a Pennsylvania landfill

The company has had 12 fuel cell systems installed that will turn air and methane into a third of the electricity supply for Adobe’s campus in downtown San Jose. The 1.2-megawatt project is the largest installation to date for Bloom Energy Corporation, the fuel cell specialists based in Sunnyvale, California. The 12 Bloom Energy Servers, which are also known as Bloom boxes, have been installed on the fifth floor of Adobe’s West Tower building. Each 100-kilowatt server is the size of an average parking space, containing thousands of fuel cells that generate electricity from methane and air. Typically, one server generates enough power to supply 100 average homes with electricity, Adobe said. Randall H Knox III, senior director of Global Workplace Solutions at Adobe, said the methane gas is being sourced from out of state from a landfill in Pennsylvania. Methane is produced when organic materials in landfills break down. Adobe pays for the gas to be put into the pipeline, offsetting the methane used in California. “Installing Bloom Energy fuel cells supports Adobe’s efforts to remain at the forefront of utilizing impactful, clean technologies to reduce our environmental footprint,” said Mr Knox. “We hope to be an example to other companies considering cleaner, more affordable energy sources for their operations.” Source:

Google Invests In Human Monorail

Google's Project 10^100, the search engine giant announced on Friday that it's given $1 million to Shweeb, which makes a transportation system based on pedal-powered pods that zoom around a monorail track about 20 feet above the ground. If that sounds like a crazy but kinda cool concept, that's because it is. The original prototype was built as a ride in an amusement park in New Zealand, where pod pedalers race each other on a side-by-side track for a fee of $35. Google is funding the company to help it test the system as public transportation in an urban setting. Shweeb hasn't announced the location of the planned first transit system (please make it in the Bay Area), but says on its website it will disclose the location shortly. Here's some characteristics of the Shweeb that likely attracted Google: It requires practically no energy other than human pedaling so it's a fossil-fuel-free transportation, and it's really efficient, requiring "less energy to cover a given distance than any other vehicle on earth," according to the company. The pedaled pods are also based on recumbent bikes (the bikes where you sit back and relax), which I could imagine Google's young outdoor enthusiast types identified with... Source - Gigaom

Whopper of a wind farm opens off Britain

LONDON — The world's largest offshore wind farm had its grand opening Thursday — and its location on the estuary of the Thames River makes it a showcase for Britain's push to move beyond fossil fuels. So far, 100 wind turbines have been planted in waters up to 80 feet deep across the estuary in southern England. The idea is to produce enough electricity, 300 megawatts, to power the equivalent of 200,000 homes. Each turbine is nearly as tall as a 40-story building and the blades are at least 65 feet above the water for clearance with vessels. No turbine is closer than 1,600 feet to another and the entire "farm" covers an area of 22 square miles. Up to 341 turbines will be installed over the next four years. With Thursday's opening, which tops a 91-turbine farm off Denmark, Britain now has more offshore wind capacity than the rest of the world combined. in now gets three percent of its electricity from renewables but aims to get 15 percent by 2020. As part of that, the government this year awarded licenses to wind farm developers in a program that could deliver up to 32 gigawatts of generation capacity and require investment of more than $117 billion. MSNBC

Eight hurdles on the track to a green energy future

The green energy future envisions a technological road that leads to an infinite supply of power, independence from potentially hostile nations and an atmosphere cleared of the excess heat-trapping gases that are blamed for warming the planet. The track to this future, however, is full of technological and policy hurdles.

  1.  Clean up the existing supply with a price on carbon
  2. Store wind and solar energy for later use
  3. Limit impact of transmission lines
  4. Drive down costs of electric cars
  5. Build a portfolio of transportation options
  6. Mine the earth for rare minerals
  7. Grow energy crops; save the food
  8. Bury hang-ups on nuclear waste

Read full article at MSNBC

Boeing wins Pentagon contract to build a solar-powered drone that can stay aloft for five years

With four scrawny fuselages and wings stretching more than the length of a football field, Boeing Co.’s solar-powered drone looks a bit like a flying antenna. But the government is hoping that the aircraft, dubbed the SolarEagle, will one day be capable of flying for five straight years at 60,000 feet. Last week, Boeing announced it had won an $89-million contract with the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to develop a prototype of the SolarEagle that can demonstrate it can stay aloft for 30 days by 2014. Eventually, Chicago-based Boeing sees the SolarEagle hovering at stratospheric altitudes for at least five years. "That's a daunting task, but Boeing has a highly reliable solar-electric design that will meet the challenge,” Pat O'Neil, the plane’s program manager, said in a statement. The SolarEagle will draw on solar energy through panels affixed to the wings. The power will be stored in fuel cells and used through the night. The plane will also feature electric motors and propellers. Much of the design work is being done by Boeing engineers at its Phantom Works facility in Huntington Beach. Boeing expects the plane to be ultimately used as a spy and communication aircraft. Source - LATimes Blog

Spray-on solar panels tested at University of South Florida

New technology was unveiled last week that allows ordinary everyday surfaces like windows to be converted into solar panels by spraying on a special coating. Maryland-based technology developers New Energy Technologies, Inc., said their spray-on solar panels could even generate power from artificial light on glass surfaces inside commercial buildings. The company showcased a small-scale working prototype of its "SolarWindow" system at a public demonstration on Thursday at the University of South Florida, in Tampa. Less than a tenth the thickness of solar thin-films, SolarWindow makes use of some of the world's smallest functional solar cells, as developed by University of South Florida physicist Xiaomei Jiang. Researchers are currently working toward lower production costs and increased power performance, along with methods for applying power-producing coatings to glass surfaces. John A. Conklin, the firm's President and CEO said: "Today's public demonstration is a pivotal milestone not only for the dedicated research team, but for our external stakeholders as well, including our investors who are keenly aware of how the development of the highly-anticipated SolarWindow technology has the potential to create a fundamental paradigm shift in the way we produce power worldwide." Source -

Lowe's Expands Energy Center Nationwide

After a successful start last December in 21 California stores, Lowe’s today announced it has brought the one-stop destination for energy-saving products to all U.S. stores. The Energy Center is retail’s first truly integrated energy solution, bringing products that measure, reduce and generate energy to one convenient location to meet consumers’ individual energy needs.  “The Energy Center builds on Lowe’s commitment to bring more innovative products and services to our customers,” said Nick Canter, Lowe’s executive vice president of merchandising. “By pulling together comprehensive options to help them manage their energy use, the Energy Center makes it easier for customers to become more energy efficient while putting money back in their pocket.”  Lowe’s is the first major retailer to offer many of these products in one place, putting solar technology alongside ENERGY STAR® qualified CFLs to provide a wide range of solutions that empower consumers to measure their energy use, reduce energy consumption and generate renewable energy.

American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE) Releases 50-State Report on Renewable Energy

The American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE) today released a report, Renewable Energy in America: Markets, Economic Development and Policy in the 50 States, as an online resource and a product of ACORE’s mission to bring renewable energy into the mainstream. Compiling financial, renewable energy resource potentials, market and policy information in one easily-accessed, online format, the report is intended to be an executive summary for all who are interested in the highlights of the renewable energy sector in every state. The report notes each state’s highlights regarding their renewable energy market and recent economic development activity. Installed capacity and projects in development are provided for each state and provide a further picture of which renewable resources are actually in development. Resource maps highlight selected renewable resources within each state. Finally, the Report includes a list of key policies in place within each state.

Univ. of Nevada, Reno is working on turning Sludge into Power

Like the little engine that could, the University of Nevada, Reno experiment to transform wastewater sludge to electrical power is chugging along, dwarfed by the million-gallon tanks, pipes and pumps at the Truckee Meadows Water Reclamation Facility where, ultimately, the plant’s electrical power could be supplied on-site by the process University researchers are developing. “We are very pleased with the results of the demonstration testing of our research,” Chuck Coronella, principle investigator for the research project and an associate professor of chemical engineering, said. “The process to dry the sludge to make it burnable for a gasification process, which could then be transformed into electricity, is working very well. This is an important step for our renewable energy research, processing about 20 pounds an hour of sludge in a continuous-feed system to produce about 3 pounds an hour of dried powder.” The team of researchers custom built the processing machine in a lab at the University and brought it to the plant for testing. It uses an innovative process with relatively low temperatures in a fluidized bed of sand and salts to economically produce the biomass fuel from the gooey sludge. Read full release here.

Cannon Power Group Closes $547 Mill Power Sales Transaction With So. California Public Power Authority

Del Mar-based Cannon Power Group announced today the closing of the sale of a 20-year block of renewable power to Southern California Public Power Authority (SCPPA) for $547 million. This is believed to be the largest transaction of its kind in the power industry. The power will be provided from Cannon Power Group's 262-megawatt (MW) Windy Flats wind project in Goldendale, Washington under a long-term power purchase agreement entered into last year by the parties. "This uniquely structured transaction is a true win-win for both parties," said Gary Hardke, president of Cannon Power Group. "It combined SCPPA's low-cost, tax exempt bond financing with the federal stimulus grant program to produce a very attractive long-term cost of renewable power." SCPPA reportedly closed its 20-year bond financing at the end of August at pricing of less than four percent, according to Bloomberg News. Cannon Power Group received total federal stimulus grants of $220 million in connection with the project. "This was really a remarkable and innovative transaction," said attorney Tom Trimble, partner and co-head of the Renewable Energy Practice at Washington D.C.-based Hunton & Williams, who represented Cannon Power Group in the transaction. "It allowed the parties to navigate the credit crisis and take advantage of the low interest rate environment." Cannon Power Group's Windy Flats project went on line earlier in 2010. It is part of the company's 500 MW Windy Point/Windy Flats project. The project, one of the largest wind projects in the United States, and representing an investment of over $1.2 billion, spans over 26 miles along the Columbia River. It is expected to be completed in 2011 and has provided over 350 new jobs to the local area. Cannon Power developed and constructed the project.

Scientists develop self-healing solar cells

Over time, most solar cells degrade due to prolonged exposure to the sun's scathing rays and are rendered useless. But with a little inspiration from nature, researchers have now created a new solar material that regenerates its damaged energy-capturing packets on-demand. A small prototype solar cell built from the self-healing material can continuously produce electricity for an entire week without losing any efficiency, the scientists report. The team was inspired by plants in nature. The ingredients within a plant’s leaves that turn sunlight into energy aren't actually immune to the sun’s damage. Instead, the molecules do their job (pump out sugar), get destroyed, and in less than an hour they regenerate. This process happens over and over again – enabling the leaves to produce energy at the same efficiency as they did on day one of their operation. Read the full article by Michelle Bryner here.

Call for Solutions!: Downeast Launches $5 million Biomass Engineering Competition

The DownEast 2010 Biomass Engineering Prize Competition seeks innovative solutions and technologies capable of transforming an underperforming biomass-fueled electricity generating facility in Maine into a vibrant part of the green energy grid. A recent operations audit concluded that available conventional retro-fitting options were uninspiring. This challenge has two simple goals: return the facility to profitability and utilize new and disruptive biomass-fueled electricity generation technologies that do not require massive capital investments and that can achieve sustained profitable operations. All manners of solutions will be considered, including new technologies and novel applications of existing technologies, process improvements and site re-use. In short, DownEast is seeking creative ingenuity from innovators across the globe.

San Diego gym turns spin bike into a power source

The Greenasium really wants to be green. To do it, the new gym in San Diego is turning its customers into real gym rats. The Greenasium , which opened Wednesday, has three specialty spin bikes straight out of Gilligans Island that push electricity back into the grid, helping provide power to the gym and other electricity customers. Its the first human-powered fitness studio in San Diego, according to its owners. "The bike's are retrofitted by a company up in Seattle that we work with called Resource Fitness," said Greenasium's co-owner Byron Spratt. "As the bike (spins), the wheel creates DC power, converts it to AC power, which is plugged back into the wall, which puts energy back into the grid." Spratt expects to add elliptical bikes in October to help offset their carbon footprint to an even greater extent.

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