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Ever volatile fuel prices, security of supply, renewable energy cost reductions and environmental-climate concerns are dramatically accelerating the demand for greener alternatives.

It has become a global imperative that we break our addiction to fossil fuels. Providing for the ever increasing energy and transportation needs of the planet is going to take a wide range of alternative energy sources, cleaner fuels, the smart grid and advanced storage solutions.

These technologies are finally establishing themselves in the energy mix and becoming mainstream .....an emerging multi trillion dollar market rapidly becoming one of the most significant industrial sectors this century. The future is bright for renewable energy sources and a greener sustainable world.

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Hybrid Moves Into Housing

22 05 11 - 01:14 Hybrid Moves Into Housing


By Brenda Krueger Huffman

(Chicago) – Recycling - Check. Conserving energy - Check. Hybrid car - Next car, check. Hybrid home system - What? Yes, it’s here. Hybrid has seamlessly, successfully moved into housing.

Safety Power, Inc. was initially started to provide homes with back up power. The company quickly grew to include renewable energy options and advising commercial and industrial clients with electrical conservation. Recently the company has come full circle and began marketing a new more capable type of renewable energy system for homes.

The award winning firm was voted one of the “Top 5 Sustainable Product Companies in Illinois” and continues to grow its residential client base in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Safety Power also serves larger firms on the national level.

Robert Brazzale, President of Safety Power, a master electrician turned entrepreneur, began Safety Power in 2007. An avid member of Local First Chicago, Rob believes in assisting sustaining local economies with green collar jobs and belongs to many green orientated groups in Chicago and around the country. Rob shares his expertise on the Hybrid Home concept and technology.

BKH: In simple terms, explain the concept of “Hybrid Homes.”
RB: To the public, the term “Hybrid” refers to “dual-sourced”, as in a hybrid car operating under either gas or electric. A Hybrid Home's electricity can also operate from multiple sources - on-grid, alternative energy, or stored power.

BKH: What are the green home products being offered by Safety Power, Inc?
RB: Safety Power offers a full range of alternative energy systems with back up power. All our systems are capable of receiving power from solar or wind options. We offer entry level efficiency systems to enhance filter and protect a home’s power.

Our systems can also stand alone and be used for grid back up now and allow the homeowner to expand the system with solar and wind options later; keeping initial costs low. This configuration is especially beneficial insuring power for homes with medical equipment needs and in places where a generator is not available, such as an apartment or condo.

BKH: How do these products allow a home to become “Hybrid” or more green?
RB: Any home investing in alternative energy options is “greener” due to the electricity produced on site and the use of less electricity from the grid cutting down the carbon footprint of that home and business.

Hybrid technology creates power savings, power security, and sell back capabilities at the same time. It's also possible to avoid on peak rates and take advantage of less expensive off peak rates later in the day to recharge the system.

BKH: Can these products be installed in new construction and in existing homes right now?
RB: Yes, all of our systems can be installed in both new and existing construction. Our power systems also make great upgrades to existing solar installations. All of our systems are capable of being installed anywhere in the home - basement, attic, and closet.

They operate instantly, silently and without fumes. It's this kind of flexibility and easy installation that makes our products available to everyone whether living in homes, apartments or condos.

BKH: Are there home electrical or mechanical specifications to utilize these products?
RB: No, any home is capable of integrating one of our power systems, and it will operate any electrical device in the home. The system is sized according to the load required for backup and solar or wind capabilities of the property.

BKH: What are the main benefits to the homeowner?
RB: Until now solar assisted homes were unable to actually operate a homes systems during a power outage. Security, communications, lighting, furnace, water pumps, and refrigeration simply did not work.

Recent advances in battery technology allow power to be stored and used in the home if needed while keeping sell back capabilities for excess power. This adds a new dimension to alternative energy options in today's homes. Avoiding property and food losses created during a power outage certainly add to cost savings. Perhaps the greatest benefit is the peace of mind knowing the home is protected against a power loss.

BKH: What are the main benefits to the environment?
RB: Any product that lessens the impact on the environment with less fossil fuel consumption to produce electricity helps the environment in both the long and short term. A common conversion is 1.2 pounds of CO2 reduction for every kWh produced.

An additional benefit is the reduced supply from the power grid which lessens the need for expanding our existing sources or building new ones. With a hybrid power system, the carbon footprint of any home or business can be reduced which helps the client and the earth.

BKH: Can the average middle class homeowner afford these products?
RB: Yes, absolutely. A large hybrid system, with 4 solar panels and everything needed to install it, is only about $16,000. This is about half the price of the average hybrid car.

We also have smaller “Plug and Play” systems, which require no installation, for about $1,700. A smaller price point than years past allows more homeowners to take advantage of alternative energy options now.

BKH: Is financing available for homeowners?
RB: Despite the global economic downturn, private investments in “green” sectors – in particular, renewable energy, energy efficiency, green building, green business development – have remained steady or grown in recent years, totaling more than $1.6 trillion since 2007.

At Safety Power, we work with several sustainability minded lending institutions including The Delta Institute to provide homeowners and businesses with financing options from like minded sources. Recent years have seen a decrease in the cost of solar panels and micro-wind turbines which makes the overall cost fall dramatically.

BKH: What type of energy cost savings or return on investment can the average homeowner realize?
RB: We have had people inventory their use of electricity, and with some painless changes and installation of a hybrid system, they have reduced their electricity bill up to 17%. Direct cost savings of any alternative energy upgrade is of course dependent upon the size of the system installed and varies according to site attributes.

BKH: How is the customer able to monitor energy consumption over time?
RB: We feel this is an important aspect to any upgrade. Safety Power includes a home energy monitor with all of our installations to help the homeowner trend costs over time.

Capable of recording up to seven years of data, the homeowner is able to track historical usage. Downloaded into a PC, data can be displayed in easy to read graphs. The monitor helps the customer verify and quantify future energy efficiency updates in the home.

BKH: In addition to energy savings, is there any homeowner insurance savings or other savings?
RB: I'm not an insurance expert, but we always advise our customers to contact their insurance agent to inform them that a system was installed in the home to make sure it is fully insured and to investigate any discount that may be available at the same time.

BKH: Are there local or federal income tax credits for installing these products in your home?
RB: Yes, there is currently a 30% federal tax credit available to homeowners investing in this hybrid technology. The rebate considers all equipment and installation costs. This rebate also applies to expanding an existing solar installation with power back up capabilities.

Combined with falling prices on solar panels and the addition of power storage, the time for investing in an alternative energy system has never been better for the homeowner. We work with the customer to provide complete documentation of the project to assist with the rebates. Current local and state rebate information can be found at dsireusa.org.

BKH: How is the market responding to these new hybrid options for homes?
RB: The market is responding well. Rising electricity costs and an unsteady supply have forced homeowners to take another look at producing their own power. With medical equipment in the home becoming more common and the rising importance of security and communication equipment, we feel the additional benefit of back up power will draw many more homeowners into the alternative energy market.

Today's homeowners and homebuilders want to be smart about the upgrades they make in a home. A hybrid power system increases a home's value, decreases operating costs, and provides power security - all with renewable energy.

BKH: So many green products are manufactured in China or other countries. Are Safety Power products made in the United States?
RB: Yes, all of our power systems are proudly made here in the United States. Thank you for asking. Investment in U.S. made alternative energy products is a major factor for many homeowners and businesses. At Safety Power, we agree with homeowners that feel where and how we spend our money is a critical aspect to today’s recovering economy.

In addition, all of our systems are Vietnam Veteran SVDOB, HUBZONE Certified, CCR Registered, OCRA Certified, and NAFTA Certified. These certifications also help government entities insure that funds are spent in the proper manner - reinvested directly into American equipment and American jobs.

BKH: Can these products be used in commercial and industrial properties also?
RB: We do have systems designed to support large power draws and run times that businesses demand. With systems ranging from 3.6 kW to 6.0 kW continuous power output, they can support computers, servers, and phone lines as well as general lighting and security systems.

Business and industry are embracing renewable energy as a way to reduce their carbon footprint while cutting long-term electricity cost increases. It's the dual function of a hybrid system, protecting delicate computer systems and process control equipment from power losses, which adds value to the decision to invest in the technology.

BKH: Are government properties utilizing these products locally and nationally?
RB: Yes. These systems have been installed in government facilities nationally and internationally. A recent off grid project has just been completed in Caraz, Peru to assist in the power management of that area and its residents.

BKH: Safety Power was voted one of the “Top 5 Sustainable Product Companies in Illinois” in the Sustain Illinois Competition 2009. What made Safety Power a stand-out?
RB: One of the reasons we won was the exponential CO2 effect our product line carries. Not only is there immediate CO2 reduction with an installed system; but the CO2 reduction that is created by longer life and less replacement of equipment is immeasurable. Used tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Raging wildfires: Climate changes to blame for record season?

Saturday 16 July 2011 at 06:07 am Raging wildfires: Climate changes to blame for record season?


By Pete Spotts


The images are stark: soot-grimed firefighters steering bulldozers or wielding shovels to clear underbrush; curtains of orange flame tracing the contours of summits; aircraft dumping chemicals to slow a fire's progress.

Between Jan. 1 and early July of 2011, slightly more than 38,000 wildfires charred the landscape in the United States at a record pace. So far this year, wildfires have consumed just under 4.9 million acres of forest and grassland, a cumulative expanse the size of New Jersey.

That's 1 million more acres than fires consumed during the same period in 2006, which saw a record 9.9 million acres burned for the entire year.

Beyond the numbers, this year's fires may provide the first large-scale tests of the effectiveness of projects undertaken over the past decade to help forests survive wildfires, several specialists say.

The West's forests are adapted to deal with certain types of wildfires, researchers note. But since the mid-1980s, they add, some of these forests have experienced an increasing number of fires to which they are not well adapted.

Many researchers trace this shift in part to climate change. more

Hybrid Moves Into Housing

Sunday 22 May 2011 at 01:14 am Hybrid Moves Into Housing


By Brenda Krueger Huffman

(Chicago) – Recycling - Check. Conserving energy - Check. Hybrid car - Next car, check. Hybrid home system - What? Yes, it’s here. Hybrid has seamlessly, successfully moved into housing.

Safety Power, Inc. was initially started to provide homes with back up power. The company quickly grew to include renewable energy options and advising commercial and industrial clients with electrical conservation. Recently the company has come full circle and began marketing a new more capable type of renewable energy system for homes.

The award winning firm was voted one of the “Top 5 Sustainable Product Companies in Illinois” and continues to grow its residential client base in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Safety Power also serves larger firms on the national level.

Robert Brazzale, President of Safety Power, a master electrician turned entrepreneur, began Safety Power in 2007. An avid member of Local First Chicago, Rob believes in assisting sustaining local economies with green collar jobs and belongs to many green orientated groups in Chicago and around the country. more

Are electric car makers missing the trick?

Tuesday 29 March 2011 at 11:12 am Are electric car makers missing the trick?


by Martin Ott

I believe that electric car makers may be driving us all down the road that may result in the same sort of technology failures that we have seen in the past.
I'm not referring to the Sinclair scooter here but cast your mind back to the débâcle of Betamax v VHS home recording systems. The eventual winner was the technically inferior VHS but the battle was not resolved until innumerable consumers had paid out for worthless Betamax systems. Back in the 70's a similar conflict occurred over audio systems when America fell in love with the 8 track tape system that moved magnetic tape in a loop over the player head at a high speed resulting in a better sound. The world market finally dictated that the audio cassette was the way to go but not until millions of consumers had been lumbered with home and in-car systems that went down the technological cul de sac. more

Wind Turbine Manufacturer Acknowledges SGS´s Contribution towards Successful Project Completion

Tuesday 29 March 2011 at 10:57 am by Suresh Varma

The Theni Wind Farm project was developed by CLP India Pvt. Ltd., one of the major wind farm project developers in India. Located in the south western part of Tamilnadu, a southern state of the country, the facility consists of 60 Vestas V82 geared wind turbines. As recognition of its contribution towards the successful execution of this wind power project SGS received Vestas award.

Each turbine at the wind farm has a capacity of 1.65 MW IEC Class IIB machine with a blade diameter of 82 m. After a six-month long completion period, the Theni Wind Farm was officially opened in May, 2010.

Acting as contract engineer during project execution, SGS was responsible for ensuring that all activities were carried out at the site by the contractor in line with the final agreement. In doing so, SGS supervised the quality of construction works, the fulfillment of the technical parameters and kept the project within the scheduled time and contracted price. more

E.ON uses PPC's Broadband Powerline technology in smart grid project

Tuesday 29 March 2011 at 10:37 am E.ON uses PPC's Broadband Powerline technology in smart grid project

by Power Plus Communications

Mannheim - Power Plus Communications AG (PPC), the leading provider of Broadband Powerline Communication systems (BPL) for smart grids has taken on a key role within an E.ON smart grid project to facilitate an extension of Cisco's Connected Grid Solution.

E.ON Westfalen Weser AG is currently trialing smart grid technology within its network of 1.3 million inhabitants and PPC's proven medium voltage BPL solution has connected substations in the project using the existing power grid.

Using BPL technology, standard compliant and IP-based data transfer rates of 5-30 Mbit/s can easily be achieved via the medium voltage cable itself. Within E.ON’s smart grid project, PPC's medium voltage technology facilitated the extension of Cisco's Connected Grid Solution. The Cisco smart grid Router and Switches used in the project are highly compatible with BPL networks, providing a real cost advantage over fiber optic networks – which can be much more expensive where cables are not pre-existing.

By combining their technology at Westfalen Weser, PPC and Cisco have ensured the evolution of fast and efficient smart grids which are controlled on an IP basis. This increases the reliability of the power grid, fulfills regulations and drives down costs. At the same time this modern smart grids communications technology makes it possible to effectively integrate renewable energy into the grid. more

MIT Infrastructure "Life Cycle" Study is Progress Both Left & Right Can Embrace - Part 2, Fiscal Responsibility

Saturday 19 February 2011 at 09:02 am By Brenda Krueger Huffman


Chicago – Perhaps moving to the center is where we all need to be politically on the environment and effective spending compatibility. Not all green technology is crazy, and not all business profit or government expenditure is evil.

Even if you do not believe in man caused climate change, we can all agree leaving a cleaner planet and a more fiscally responsible government for the next generation is preferable to not doing so.

Perhaps green technology can be cost effective, and government fiscal responsibility may realistically include affordable green initiatives. Honest “life cycle analysis” and “life cycle cost analysis” study considerations should be a political compromise starting point both the left and the right can embrace. more

Global warming: Impact of receding snow and ice surprises scientists

Thursday 27 January 2011 at 11:05 am Global warming: Impact of receding snow and ice surprises scientists

By Pete Spotts


Washington - A long-term retreat in snow and ice cover in the Northern Hemisphere is weakening the ability of these seasonal cloaks of white to reflect sunlight back into space and cool global climate, according to a study published this week.

Indeed, over the past 30 years, the cooling effect from this so-called cryosphere – essentially areas covered by snow and ice at least part of the year – appears to have weakened at more than twice the pace projected by global climate models, the research team conducting the work estimates.

The study, which appeared online Sunday in the journal Nature Geoscience, represents a first cut at trying to calculate from direct measurements the impact of climate change on the Northern Hemisphere's cryosphere. The study was conducted by a team of federal and university scientists who examined data gathered between 1979 and 2008. more

EPA presents plan on greenhouse gases

Wednesday 05 January 2011 at 10:38 pm By Mark Clayton


Washington - Setting the stage for a New Year battle royal between Congress and the White House over greenhouse gas emissions, the US Environmental Protection Agency Thursday laid out a timetable for the nation's largest carbon emitters – power plants and refineries – to begin curbing those pollutants.

Republicans have said all year that they plan to pull out all the stops to keep the EPA from phasing in greenhouse gas (GHG) regulations beginning in 2011, saying they would damage the energy industry, raise prices, and cost jobs.

Rep. Fred Upton (R) of Michigan, the incoming chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has said he opposes the regulations on greenhouse gases and indicated he would lead efforts to revoke EPA regulations in the next Congress. The new regulations, he says, will likely lead to the shut down of coal-fired power plants.

"To protect jobs and fortify our energy security, we should be working to bring more power online, not shutting plants down," Mr. Upton said in a statement. "We are woefully unprepared to meet our nation's growing energy demands, yet this administration's 'none of the above' energy policy will do nothing but cost jobs, make energy more expensive, and increase our dependence on foreign sources of energy."

Environmentalists lauded the EPA's move. more

Supreme Court takes global warming case that targets power companies

Monday 13 December 2010 at 03:21 am By Warren Richey,


Washington - The US Supreme Court on Monday agreed to examine a major environmental lawsuit that seeks to force six electric power companies to cap and reduce their carbon-dioxide emissions to fight global warming.

The lawsuit - filed in 2004 by eight states, the City of New York, and three land trusts - targets what it claims are the largest emitters of carbon dioxide in the United States and among the largest in the world.

It seeks a judicial order declaring that the fossil-fueled power plants are a "public nuisance." It also seeks a judicial order capping the plants' greenhouse gas emissions and requiring the plants to adopt a schedule of reduced emissions in future years. more

Outside Cancun climate conference, Caribbean Sea testifies to global warming

Monday 13 December 2010 at 03:09 am By Ezra Fieser,


Bayahibe, Dominican Republic - This summer's extreme heat may seem like a distant memory as winter approaches the United States.

But the summer that broke heat records across the Northern Hemisphere is still being felt below the surface of the Caribbean Sea: 2010 will likely be one of the most deadly years on record for coral reefs.

If diplomats attending the two-week global climate change talks that opened Monday in Cancun, Mexico, want more evidence of the negative and potentially devastating affects of warming temperatures, they need look no further than the blue sea outside their hotels. Researchers say that throughout the Caribbean coral reefs are "bleaching," a condition that occurs when they are under extreme stress due to warmer-than-normal sea temperatures. more