Japan's Panasonic Corp plans to buy out subsidiaries Sanyo Electric and Panasonic Electric Works for up to 818.4 billion yen ($9.4 billion) to strengthen its push into greener businesses. The world's No.4 flat TV maker will raise up to 500 billion yen in a new share issue to help finance the buyouts, sending its shares down as much as 11 percent. Under President Fumio Ohtsubo, Panasonic has been shifting away from low-margin home electronics products and investing more aggressively in solar cells, batteries and other energy-related areas which offer promising growth prospects. Panasonic said making the two subsidiaries wholly-owned would allow it to more effectively allocate management resources across the group as well as speed up decision making amid growing competition from overseas rivals.
Plans for a massive expansion of clean energy in California are being jeopardized by federal foot-dragging, according to state officials who say that more than 20 nearly shovel-ready solar and wind projects are being held up by the U.S. Department of Energy. The projects are valued at as much as $30 billion, according to estimates by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's office. But the Department of Energy's laborious procedures to guarantee loans threaten to stymie construction financing for many of the projects, and builders could lose out on more than $10 billion in federal stimulus funding if they can't start digging by the end of the year. At stake are more than 12,000 new, high-paying construction and manufacturing jobs and the opportunity to replace a large portion of the state's fossil fuel-powered electric generation with nonpolluting energy. Source: LATimes
GM used the stage at Plugin 2010 this morning to let the long-awaited cat out of the bag: the Chevrolet Volt will start at a base price of $41,000 when it goes on sale at the end of this year. Starting today, consumers will be able to go to GetMyVolt.com and pre-order their Volts . The pre-order process is unlike the Nissan LEAF 's in that it is going to be conducted in a traditional manner, with dealers setting their own pre-order and deposit terms. And, although most of the world will surely report on how the Volt MSRP of $41,000 puts it out of the reach of the average consumer, and that the Nissan LEAF, at a base MSRP of $32,780, is clearly the hands down winner of the pricing wars... that's not the real story here. No, the real story is the fact that, if you lease the Volt, it will cost you the same as leasing a LEAF: $350 a month for 3 years. Source: Nick Chambers / Plugincars
An experimental “Green Hornet” fighter jet that uses biofuel. The “Prius” warship running on a hybrid engine. The Navy is increasingly going green thanks largely to a desire to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels that come from hostile places in the world. The Navy, the Pentagon’s second-largest user of oil, also sees it as an expensive bill to pay as budgets get leaner. And in the San Diego region, the results are easy to see: Rooftops full of solar panels at San Diego naval bases. Electric carts. Biodiesel bulldozers. Even windmills off the coast on San Clemente Island. “The Navy is a complex animal, but in some areas of environmental protection, they are moving forward as fast as any agency,” said Michael Jasny of the Natural Resources Defense Council, which has long fought the Navy over the effect of military sonar on whales.
The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) today issued the following statement from AWEA CEO Denise Bode in response to reports that a Senate energy bill will not contain a Renewable Electricity Standard: "A bipartisan bill with a national renewable electricity standard (RES) passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee over a year ago. It is beyond comprehension that we are now hearing that the bill may never be brought to the Senate floor. Only about 700 megawatts (MW) of wind power were added in the second quarter of 2010 and wind power installations to date this year have dropped by 54% and 69% from 2008 and 2009 levels, respectively. Manufacturing investment also continues to lag below 2008 and 2009 levels. A refusal to pass an RES is an attack on every American worker and consumer. Not passing an RES endangers at least 360,000 jobs: 85,000 currently employed in the wind industry and the potential 274,000 additional jobs created by an RES. Workers, families, and our country demand a new energy future. That future must emphasize new strategies that embrace clean, renewable sources of energy that reduce costs, create jobs, and enhance our national security."
Renewable UK, the trade association for wind and marine energy - Britain’s fastest growing green energy sectors – welcomed today’s announcement from the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) that European offshore wind capacity in 2010 has grown faster than in the same period in 2009. RenewableUK has also drawn attention to the fact that 50% of new wind farms installed are in UK waters. During the first half of 2010, the UK hit 1GW of installed offshore wind capacity accounting for around 40% of pan-European installed capacity. It also has a total development pipeline of 49GW, with a potential do deliver 150 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity per annum, out of the UK’s total net consumption of around 315 TWh. The European installed total stands at 2,396 installed megawatts (MW), with another 4,071MW in construction and with planning consent in UK alone. Read full news release here.
Intersolar North America, an exhibition for solar professionals to exchange information and develop business opportunities in the U.S. solar market, continued to see strong growth for the third straight year with the 2010 exhibition and conference. The co-located Intersolar North America and SEMICON West events, which took place last week in San Francisco, presented more than 700 solar exhibitors to more than 20,000 trade visitors This year, Intersolar North America alone featured 580 exhibitors up from 444 exhibitors in 2009. Intersolar North America continued its long-standing international focus with trade visitors representing 66 countries and exhibiting companies from 26 countries, reflecting the global perspectives of the solar industry. Read the full release here.
Tesla Motors will produce electric Rav4 crossover SUVs for Toyota Motor Co. beginning in 2012, the two companies announced Friday. Toyota announced in May that it planned to invest $50 million in Tesla Motors upon the completion of the electric car maker's initial public offering, which took place on June 29. A fleet of electric Rav4 prototypes will be delivered later this year, the two automakers said. The first prototype has already been built, the said, and is undergoing evaluation.
GE's Nucleus brings the promise of the smart grid into consumers’ homes. As utilities deploy smart meters, the Nucleus will collect and store a consumer’s household electricity use and cost data for up to three years and present it to consumers in real-time using simple, intuitive PC and smart phone applications, helping consumers monitor and control their energy use. Nucleus is the first product in GE’s Brillion™ suite of smart home energy management solutions that will help consumers control their energy use and costs. In addition to Nucleus, GE’s Brillion suite will include a programmable thermostat, in-home display, a smart phone application, and smart appliances for the entire home.
General Motors will guarantee the lithium-ion battery in the Chevrolet Volt for 100,000 miles of driving or eight years, whichever comes first, the automaker announced Wednesday. Popular hybrid car models currently on the market, including the Toyota Prius and the Ford Escape Hybrid, have similar warrantees on their battery packs. The Volt, however, uses a different battery chemistry. Also, since the car runs purely on electricity from the battery for up to 40 miles, the Volt's battery is subjected to greater work loads than one in a gas/electric hybrid. Production of the Volt is still on schedule to begin in November, a GM spokesman said Wednesday. GM plans to produce 10,000 Volts, which will be sold in seven U.S. states, through the end of 2011. Production will expand to 30,000 cars in 2012.
GE today introduced the GE WattStation, an easy-to use electric vehicle (EV) charger. Designed to help accelerate the adoption of plug-in electric vehicles, GE WattStation significantly decreases time needed for vehicle charging and, using smart grid technology, allows utility companies to manage the impact of electric vehicles on the local and regional grids. Steve Fludder, vice president of GE ecomagination, said, “Widespread electric vehicle adoption depends on having charging stations that integrate the need for quick charging with the personal need for easy functionality. GE WattStation will meet this challenge.” Combining functionality with consumer friendly form from renowned industrial designer Yves Behar, the GE WattStation on average decreases electric vehicle charging time from 12-18 hours to as little as four to eight hours compared to standard charging “level 1”, assuming a full-cycle charge for a 24 kWh battery. View Full News Release here
The Intersolar North America conference gets underway at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, California, Tuesday, running through Thursday July 15. The event will be focusing on solar photovoltaic and thermal technology and is one of the largest business to business solar events in North America. More than 570 U.S.-based and international exhibitors as well as 20,000 trade visitors are expected at the 130,000 square foot venue. AltEnergyMag.com sat down with InterSolar representative Dr. Eicke Weber who is one of the world's leading researchers in the field of renewable energy and energy efficiency. Read the full interview here.
The Dice House looks like part of a Monopoly set, but the design has real-world ambitions. The 30-by-30-by-30-foot concept home, designed by the British architecture firm Sybarite, improves on standard building tech to erase its carbon footprint. The centerpiece is a photovoltaic umbrella dome that collects roughly 90 percent of the house’s energy needs. Made of a common plastic, the pillowy dome traps heat like a greenhouse. That hot air warms water in a tank tucked under the roof, turning out a daily average of 80 bath-ready gallons, even on the darkest days of December. At the umbrella’s apex, a generator-equipped turbine produces electricity and, in chilly months, drives heat into the house. Photovoltaic cells studding the 484-square-foot dome floor create additional electricity. Generating an estimated average of 33 kilowatt-hours per day, the house can power itself and charge a Tesla Roadster.
PAYERNE, Switzerland – An experimental solar-powered plane completed its first 24-hour test flight successfully Thursday, proving that the aircraft can collect enough energy from the sun during the day to stay aloft all night. The test brings the Swiss-led project one step closer to its goal of circling the globe using only energy from the sun. Pilot Andre Borschberg eased the Solar Impulse out of the clear blue morning sky onto the runway at Payerne airfield about 30 miles (50 kilometers) southwest of the Swiss capital Bern at exactly 9 a.m. (0700 GMT; 3 a.m. EDT). Helpers rushed to stabilize the pioneering plane as it touched down, ensuring that its massive 207-foot (63-meter) wingspan didn't scrape the ground and topple the craft.
Confidence soared among the crew of an experimental solar-powered aircraft on Wednesday as it cruised above Switzerland in a historic bid to fly around the clock and prove the value of solar energy. The Swiss pilot's take-off run took barely 90 meters, testimony to the light weight and giant airliner-size wingspan of the single seater craft , which relies totally on 12,000 solar cells and nearly half a tonne of batteries.
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