The number of American "clean energy" jobs grew 9.1% between 1998 and 2007 , more than twice the growth rate of employment in the economy as a whole, according to a new study that claims to be the first "hard count" of the sector. The Pew Charitable Trusts found about 68,200 companies with 770,000 jobs in the clean energy sector in 2007 - roughly half a percent of today's US workforce. The study calls it "a strong start for a new economy still very much in its infancy". By comparison, fossil fuels industries, including coal, utilities, oil and gas, had about 1.27 million workers in 2007.
General Motors took a big step toward its reinvention as the "New G.M." today when it opened what it calls the largest automotive battery laboratory in the United States , a move the struggling company believes will hasten the development of electric vehicles. GM invested $25 million in the 33,000-square-foot Global Battery Systems Lab to develop and test the drive-trains underpinning the Chevrolet Volt and other hybrid, battery-electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. The automaker believes the facility, at its sprawling Warren Technical Center campus outside Detroit, Michigan, will help make it a market leader in battery and EV technology.
The world's first full-scale floating wind turbine is being towed 10 kilometers southwest of Karmøy, Norway, where it will be anchored to the seabed using a three-point mooring system to start offshore trials. To be outfitted with a 65-meter-tall 2.3-megawatt turbine, the Hywind structure, a ballasted steel jacket called a 'spar buoy', will stretch 100 meters below the sea surface.
The country's wind power capacity will rise to 30,000 megawatts from 12,000 megawatts , Shi Lishan, deputy director of renewable energy at the National Energy Administration, said in Rudong city in the eastern province of Jiangsu today. China's wind power capacity was the fourth-largest in the world last year, according to Shi. Investment in alternative energy may exceed 2 trillion yuan by 2020, the National Development and Reform Commission, China's top economic planner, said in 2007. Wind power is "vital" as it is the cheapest form of renewable energy, Shi said. About 80 percent of the country's power is produced from coal.
Orange County Convention Center's new one-megawatt photovoltaic (PV) system , the largest rooftop solar installation in the Southeast. Solar panels will span the length of five and a half football fields, generating 1,300 megawatt-hours of electricity per year - greatly reducing the center's carbon footprint and electricity costs. The unveiling will kick off the Green Cities Florida Conference, a two-day event providing fresh, innovative and useful information to businesses, communities and governments interested in embarking on the road to sustainability or improving their current efforts.
Scotland's Whitelee windfarm has a capacity of 322MW, enough to power 180,000 homes, or a city the size of Glasgow. The opening celebration was enhanced by the news of the Scottish Government's approval for an extension, which will raise the windfarm's power capacity to 452MW and create 300 much-needed green jobs in construction. Whitelee takes the current level of wind operating up to 3.5GW. A further 9.2GW is either under construction or about to start construction, but 8.6GW, of which 7.1GW is onshore, is still awaiting planning permission. In England and Wales the majority of this is onshore at Local Government level, where planning decisions can take up to two years to be made, and the approval rate is only 40%.
Semiconductor technologies, present in many modern day devices and systems, are so essential to advances in energy efficiency gains that the United States economy could expand by more than 70 percent through 2030 and still use 11 percent less electricity than it did in 2008, according to a new study by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). The report estimates the cumulative net electricity bill savings enabled by semiconductors might exceed $1.2 trillion through 2030. With smart investments productivity gains could reduce electricity use to only 3,364 billion kWh by 2030. The resulting savings of 1,242 billion kWh means that the economy may actually consume 11 percent less electricity in 2030 than it did in 2008. Original Metering.com article.
A group of English engineers have built an advanced heat pump and connected it to an energy storage system using two silos full of plain old gravel that they say is as cheap as pumped hydro, as location-agnostic as a battery - and is super efficient. Using the heat pump as the key, the team built an energy storage system that compresses argon gas to produce a temperature differential and deposits heat and cold into two separate large silos of gravel. Energy is stored in the gravel and when the process is reversed, it can be released.
The contracts secure 1,310 megawatts of solar thermal power from seven projects, the first of which - a 110MW installation in Ivanpah, California - is slated to be online by 2012. Construction is set to begin in "about six months, following approval from the California Energy Commission and the Bureau of Land Management," says BrightSource chief executive John Woolard in an interview published on PG&E's Web site.
General Electric has announced that it plans to build a new battery factory in upstate New York with an "initial investment" of $100 million and additional funds requested under the stimulus package. First up for the New York plant, if all of the financing comes through: batteries for hybrid freight trains. It's looking at providing energy storage devices for other applications including utilities, telecoms and load leveling for the smart grid. At full capacity, the new plant is designed to produce 10 million battery cells, or about 900 MW-hours of energy storage per year.
"This innovative 'green' home , featuring solar panels and numerous other energy-saving products, is truly a home of the future," Warren Buffett wrote his shareholders. "Estimated costs for electricity and heating total only about $1 per day when the home is sited in an area like Omaha." The "i-house's" metal v-shaped roof - inspired by a gas-station awning - combines design with function. The roof provides a rain water catchment system for recycling, supports flush-mounted solar panels and vaults interior ceilings at each end to 10 1/2 feet for an added feeling of openness. The Energy Star-rated design features heavy insulation, six-inch thick exterior walls, cement board and corrugated metal siding, energy efficient appliances, a tankless water heater, dual-flush toilets and lots of "low-e" glazed windows.
Leveraging the technical breadth of the IEEE and its open standards development process, IEEE P2030 will provide a knowledge base for understanding and defining smart grid interoperability of the electric power system with end use applications and loads. It will involve the integration of energy technology and information and communications technologies, which is necessary to achieve seamless operation for electric generation, delivery, and end-use benefits that will permit two-way power flow with communication and control.
French start-up Heat2power claim to have a new technology that increases fuel mileage using heat energy otherwise dissipated via the exhaust pipe. There are others that use a similar system, but the company claims that their device captures even more energy. The basics include installing an additional cylinder linked to the crankshaft with a clutch that is powered by exhaust heat. The exhaust gases circulate inside a heat exchanger linked to a closed-circuit filled with compressed air. Hot air enters the additional cylinder. Once it has moved the piston, the air goes to an intercooler and returns to the heating unit forming a closed circuit. The system is compatible with any ICE engine, the company claims. Their numbers also say the device reduces fuel consumption up to 20 percent in urban driving and 35 percent on the highway. Autobloggreen original article here .
Leviathan Energy has completed initial testing on their Wind Energizer unit and is reporting gains in wind turbine output in the ballpark of 30% - and as much as 150% at lower wind speeds. The idea is that by placing site-specific structures at the bases of the turbines you can shape the flow of air in the vicinity of the turbine so that the highest velocities get targeted at the blades. Leviathan's early testing has been conducted on a relatively small scale, using commercially-available small turbines with 3-meter blades but they are planning on exploring opportunities for third-party testing and certification on a commercial scale wind farm. Cleantech's original post.
Treehugger.com has an article from an experienced solar installer giving some personal accounts of what to expect when you get into the field and a bunch of insight into how their business is run. Its a good read for anyone thinking about getting into solar installation.
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