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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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« Chrysler bankruptcy: … | Home | Sweeping climate-ener… »

In Israel, solar power that won't need subsidies

02 05 09 - 06:28 In Israel, solar power that won't need subsidies


By Ilene R. Prusher




Kvutzat Yavne, Israel - In a country that ranks among the world's highest for average number of sunny days per year, solar energy has long been seen as a key natural resource here.

All the more fitting that on the eve of its Independence Day Israel launched what it said was the first solar farm of its kind, billed as a breakthrough that will make it affordable to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

The technology, a system of rotating dishes made up of mirrors, is capable of harnessing up to 75 percent of incoming sunlight - roughly five times the capacity of traditional solar panels. In addition, using mirrors to reduce the number of photovoltaic cells needed, it makes the cost of solar energy roughly comparable to fossil fuels.

While this technology has been implemented elsewhere, Israeli start-up ZenithSolar - working in conjunction with Israel's Ben-Gurion University - is a pioneer in combining it with a water-based cooling system that increases the photovoltaic cells' efficiency and produces thermal energy to boot. "We're the first to develop a cogeneration machine which will harness sunlight to produce thermal energy together with electrical energy at the same time," said Roy Segev, founder and CEO of ZenithSolar, at a launch party Monday at this kibbutz, or communal agricultural settlement, located on Israel's coastal plain east of Ashdod. This flagship plot of 16 dishes known as "Z20"s - which look like semiflattened satellite dishes with the texture of a disco ball - will generate about half of the total energy needs of this community of some 200 families.
Israel has long sought to make the most of its location: the Negev Desert, not far from here, gets about 330 sunny days in a year. Israel recruited its first solar-energy pioneer in 1949 just after the state was founded, and Israelis have have been using solar panels on their roofs to heat water for decades - more than 1 million households in a nation of 7 million have such setups, according to a recent Business Week report.

In June 2008, the government introduced a feed-in tariff, a program launched with great success in Germany and elsewhere that enables smaller-scale producers of renewables to compete in the energy market.

In 20 years, virtually free electricity?

Only recently has there been a push in Israel to commercialize solar energy. Sollel, another Israeli company that developed a solar-powered turbine, signed a deal in 2007 with Pacific Gas and Electric Company to build what promises to be the world's largest solar plant in California's Mojave Desert.

But the idea of affordable solar energy on a mass scale had a place in Professor David Faiman's heart for decades. Originally from London, "where I was vaguely aware that there was a sun in the sky," he came to Israel in 1973 as a physicist. Shortly afterward, the oil crisis of the 1970s began.

"I did a lot of soul-searching because of the energy crisis. I thought it was crazy that the whole world should be at the beck and call of a small group of countries that have oil, whereas we all have sun," he says in an interview in the shade. That swayed him to switch over to Ben-Gurion University's Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, where he is now chairman of the department of Solar Energy and Environmental Physics. Professor Faiman also directs Israel's National Solar Energy Center.

Faiman's area of research involves not just harnessing the sun but increasing its intensity. The idea is referred to as CPV - Concentrating Photovoltaics - a technology in which mirrors increase the light incident onto semiconductors, which increases energy output.

"By using mirrors to concentrate the sun's light, you cut down by 1,000 the amount of photovoltaic material you need, and you've essentially opened the door to affordable photovoltaics," explains the white-bearded professor, a straw hat on his head to protect himself from the afternoon blaze, already strong even on a mild April day. "The beauty of the mirror-based system is that since you have to cool it, you can get 50 percent more energy out of it in the form of hot water."

He says that after the installation of such a system is paid for - one Z20 would now run about $15,000 a pop - electricity or water-heating costs would be mostly based on maintenance costs, rather than pricey fuel.

"The world is consuming the energy equivalent of 200 million barrels of oil a day," Faiman says. "If we can reduce that, the environmental footprint will be enormous.... And in 20 years, if we in Israel move in this direction, 60 to 70 percent of our electricity needs will not cost anything, and at that stage, what you pay will be based on the operation and maintenance costs."

A dig at oil-rich adversaries

ZenithSolar hopes to offer its technology further afield. But can it work everywhere, even in the places without nearly as much sun? Faiman says it can, since the machines track the sun even on a cloudy day, but it might not be cost-effective.

Faiman, who is about to embark on a lecture tour in the US, explains that it would not be worthwhile to open a farm in Illinois or Pennsylvania, he found. But it would work to build one in El Paso, Texas, and then ship the electricity north.

"It turns out that in the case of Texas, it would be thoroughly cost-effective for the amount of sun available there," he says. "Other states could buy it from Texas and transfer it by cable."

The very use of the word "farm" to refer to these massive dishes planted in dirt puts a new spin on an old motto about making the desert bloom. As one of Israel's veteran founders, Israeli President Shimon Peres, spoke at the inaugural ribbon-cutting here, he made a bold prediction that the technology would empower countries that lack oil - Israel among them - and made something of a dig at the countries which have oil.

"Today, terrorism is nourished mainly from those countries that have oil, including Iran," Mr. Peres said. "Solar energy is democratic and it can change the face of the world." 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