Saturday, November 22, 2008

360 Wind Powered Wal-Mart Stores by April 2009

While the solar panel in this photo is pretty much a token renewable energy gesture, Wal-Mart’s wind power commitment is significantly more substantial.

Say what you like about Wal-Mart (and I certainly have said some less than flattering things), but sometimes the world’s largest retailer does something undeniably positive: Like make its first major purchase of wind power in the United States.

Announced yesterday, Wal-Mart Stores will be supplying 15% of the electricity in approximately 360 Texas stores and other facilities though wind power, purchased from Duke Energy. Wal-Mart says that the purchase will be the equivalent power of some 18,000 ordinary homes. Here are the rest of the details:

150 MW Wind Farm Will Provide Wal-Mart's Power
Duke will be generating the power from the under construction 150 MW Notrees Wind Power Project, which is expected to begin commercial operations in December and producing electricity for Wal-Mart by April 2009. Duke expects the project to produce about 226 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, an amount which will avoid emitting 139,000 tonnes of CO2. Or, if you prefer more down to earth references, Wal-Mart compares this to washing 108 million loads of laundry (“enough for every household in Austin, Texas to do laundry for a year”).

Speaking about the wind power purchase, Wal-Mart vice president of energy Kim Saylors-Laster said,


We’re purchasing renewable power at traditional energy rates. The wind power purchase will result in a significant decrease of greenhouse gas emissions and aligns perfectly with Wal-Mart’s long-term goal of being supplied by 100 percent renewable energy.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Phone Makers Monitor Charger Energy Consumption


Mobile manufacturers launch star rating system comparing the energy consumption of chargers


November 19, 2008 - Espoo, Finland - A group of mobile manufacturers has launched a common energy rating system for chargers, making it easier for consumers to compare and choose the one that saves the most energy. The star rating system developed and supported by LG, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung Electronics and Sony Ericsson is one of a series of measures being taken by the industry to reduce the environmental footprint of its products.

Many consumers are unaware that chargers consume electricity when disconnected from the phone but left plugged into the wall socket. Around two thirds of the energy used by mobile devices is wasted in this way. Manufacturers are addressing this by continually improving the efficiency of their chargers and in making it easier for consumers to pick the ones using the least energy.

The new rating system indicates how much energy each charger uses when left plugged into the wall socket after charging is completed. The ratings covers all chargers currently sold by the five companies, and range from five stars for the most efficient chargers down to zero stars for the ones consuming the most energy. If the more than three billion people owning mobile devices today switched to a four or five star charger, this could save the same amount of energy each year as produced by two medium sized power plants.

People will be able to visit the websites of each manufacturer to view and compare the results for every charger. The ratings are based on the European Commission's energy standards for chargers and the internationally recognized Energy Star standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency in the U.S. The ratings will be reviewed regularly and developed further in order to drive constant improvement.

Many of the manufacturers are also working on other ways to reduce energy consumption. Most major producers have begun introducing visual alerts into their devices to remind people to unplug the charger from the mains when the battery is fully charged.

The group of manufacturers was initially created as part of a European Commission Integrated Product Policy pilot project looking at how different industries could reduce the environmental impact of their products and inform consumers of better choices. Nokia proposed the mobile phone sector to the Commission and was joined by a number of manufacturers, operators and others in the industry.

Phone Makers Monitor Charger Energy Consumption

Mobile manufacturers launch star rating system comparing the energy consumption of chargers


November 19, 2008 - Espoo, Finland - A group of mobile manufacturers has launched a common energy rating system for chargers, making it easier for consumers to compare and choose the one that saves the most energy. The star rating system developed and supported by LG, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung Electronics and Sony Ericsson is one of a series of measures being taken by the industry to reduce the environmental footprint of its products.

Many consumers are unaware that chargers consume electricity when disconnected from the phone but left plugged into the wall socket. Around two thirds of the energy used by mobile devices is wasted in this way. Manufacturers are addressing this by continually improving the efficiency of their chargers and in making it easier for consumers to pick the ones using the least energy.

The new rating system indicates how much energy each charger uses when left plugged into the wall socket after charging is completed. The ratings covers all chargers currently sold by the five companies, and range from five stars for the most efficient chargers down to zero stars for the ones consuming the most energy. If the more than three billion people owning mobile devices today switched to a four or five star charger, this could save the same amount of energy each year as produced by two medium sized power plants.

People will be able to visit the websites of each manufacturer to view and compare the results for every charger. The ratings are based on the European Commission's energy standards for chargers and the internationally recognized Energy Star standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency in the U.S. The ratings will be reviewed regularly and developed further in order to drive constant improvement.

Many of the manufacturers are also working on other ways to reduce energy consumption. Most major producers have begun introducing visual alerts into their devices to remind people to unplug the charger from the mains when the battery is fully charged.

The group of manufacturers was initially created as part of a European Commission Integrated Product Policy pilot project looking at how different industries could reduce the environmental impact of their products and inform consumers of better choices. Nokia proposed the mobile phone sector to the Commission and was joined by a number of manufacturers, operators and others in the industry.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Business Leader of the Week

John S. Shegerian, Chairman and CEO of Electronic Recyclers International (ERI), discussed the urgent environmental and human rights implications of effective "e-waste" recycling today on "The Alan Autry Show," hosted by Fresno's Mayor Autry.
Shegerian was featured as a guest on the "Business Street: Business Leader of the Week" segment of Autry's show, on Fresno-based KYNO 1300 AM. Autry is a former NFL football player and actor. He achieved success by starring in the TV program "In the Heat of the Night," among other roles in film and television before becoming Fresno's Mayor.

As this week's "Business Leader of the Week," Shegerian shared insights on his personal life and career as a social entrepreneur, launching a number of businesses that benefit society and the environment, including his current venture, ERI, the nation's leading recycler of electronic waste.

"It's a great honor to have been named 'Business Leader of the Week' and to have been asked to guest on our great Mayor Autry's show," said Shegerian. "The Mayor has been very supportive of our environmental mission and of our effort to recycle lives by giving individuals a second chance at making a n honest living. At ERI we tip our hat to the excellent job he has done here in Fresno."

Now the largest recycler of electronic waste in the world, Fresno-headquartered Electronic Recyclers is licensed to de-manufacture and recycle televisions, computer monitors, computers, and other types of electronic equipment. ERI processes more than 140 million pounds of electronic waste annually.

Plumbing the oceans could bring limitless clean energy

by Phil Mckenna

FOR a company whose business is rocket science Lockheed Martin has been paying unusual attention to plumbing of late. The aerospace giant has kept its engineers occupied for the past 12 months poring over designs for what amounts to a very long fibreglass pipe.

It is, of course, no ordinary pipe but an integral part of the technology behind Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC), a clean, renewable energy source that has the potential to free many economies from their dependence on oil.

"This has the potential to become the biggest source of renewable energy in the world," says Robert Cohen, who headed the US federal ocean thermal energy programme in the early 1970s.

This has the potential to become the biggest source of renewable energy in the world
As the price of fossil fuels soars, private companies from Hawaii to Japan are racing to build commercial OTEC plants. The trick is to exploit the difference in temperature between seawater near the surface and deep down (see diagram).

First, warm surface water heats a fluid with a low boiling point, such as ammonia or a mixture of ammonia and water. When this "working fluid" boils, the resulting gas creates enough pressure to drive a turbine that generates power. The gas is then cooled by passing it through cold water pumped up from the ocean depths via massive fibreglass tubes, perhaps 1000 metres long and 27 metres in diameter, that suck up cold water at a rate of 1000 tonnes per second. While the gas condenses back into a liquid that can be used again, the water is returned to the deep ocean. "It's just like a conventional power plant where you burn a fuel like coal to create steam," says Cohen.

The idea of tapping the ocean's different thermal layers to generate electricity was first proposed in 1881 by French physicist Jacques d'Arsonval but didn't receive much attention until the world oil crises of the 1970s. In 1979, a US government-backed partnership that included Lockheed Martin, lowered a cold water pipe from a barge off Hawaii that was part of an OTEC system generating 50 kilowatts of electricity. Two years later, a Japanese group built a pilot plant off the South Pacific island of Nauru capable of generating 120 kilowatts.

In the first flush of success, the US Department of Energy began planning a 40 megawatt test plant off Hawaii. Then in 1981, the funding for ocean thermal technologies began to dwindle. It dried up altogether in 1995 when the price of oil began to drop, eventually falling below $20 a barrel.

Now rising fuel costs have revived interest in this neglected technology. In September, the Department of Energy awarded its first grant for ocean thermal energy in more than a decade, giving Lockheed Martin $600,000 to develop a new generation of cold water pipes.

Cohen believes this could eventually lead to 500 MW OTEC plants on floating offshore platforms sending electricity to onshore grids via submarine cables, and factory ships "grazing" the open ocean for power.

Lockheed's first goal is to get a test facility up and running. The company has got together with Makai Ocean Engineering of Waimanalo, Hawaii, to build a 10 to 20 MW plant, most likely off Hawaii, that it hopes to have up and running in the next four to six years. The plant - including a 1000-metre pipe some 4 metres in diameter - would feed electricity to the island's energy grid via submarine cables.

While Lockheed gears up for its test facility, a plant for the US military could come online even sooner. OCEES International, based in Honolulu, is finishing designs for an ocean thermal facility to be built off the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, which is home to a major US military base.

The plant would provide 8 MW of electricity and would also power the desalination of 1.25 million gallons of seawater per day. OCEES says it could be up and running by the end of 2011.

At the moment Diego Garcia is powered entirely by diesel fuel, and base commanders see ocean thermal as a means to energy independence. "It's a strategic military installation in the middle of the Indian Ocean," says Harry Jackson of OCEES. "They don't want to rely on others to provide their power."

"I think OTEC has the potential to develop sufficient power output much quicker than wave buoys or tidal power would," says Bill Tayler, director of the US navy's Shore Energy Office. "It would take a lot of buoys to produce 8 to 10 MW of power. We're looking at them all but have our hopes on OTEC."

Still, both teams will have to work out issues such as how to connect the floating, bobbing platforms to fixed submarine power lines. Heat exchangers will have to be designed in a way that prevents excessive buildup of algae, barnacles and other marine organisms that could clog the system.

Read full article http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20026836.000-plumbing-the-oceans-could-bring-limitless-clean-energy.html

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

California Ups Renewable Energy Mandate to 33% by 2020

Written by Timothy B. Hurst

Published on November 17th, 20082 CommentsPosted in Center, Energy, Leader
Gov. Schwarzenegger Signs Executive Order to Raise California’s Renewable Energy Goals to 33% by 2020 and Clear Red Tape for Renewable Energy Projects


In an executive order signed on Monday, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger committed to getting a third of California’s electricity from renewable sources by 2020. Schwarzenegger made the announcement while speaking at a solar panel factory in Sacramento. California Executive Order S-14-08 puts the state’s renewable energy requirement at 33% by 2020, securing its place as the most aggressive renewable energy mandate in the country.


vote nowBuzz up!The order comes Just three days after Schwarzenegger issued another unprecedented executive order to state agencies telling them to make preparations for rising sea levels caused by global warming.


Schwarzenegger’s aggressive target, however, cannot be met without additional changes in the current policy landscape. In fact, just two weeks ago, California voters soundly rejected Proposition 7 which sought to increase the state’s renewable energy standard. Environmental groups were nearly unanimous in their opposition to Prop 7 because it created an exclusion for smaller utilities and power providers. Schwarzenegger said:

“…we won’t meet that goal doing business as usual, where environmental regulations are holding up environmental progress in some cases. This executive order will clear the red tape for renewable projects and streamline the permitting and siting of new plants and transmission lines. With this investment in renewable energy projects, California has a bright energy future ahead that will help us fight climate change while driving our state’s green economy.”

The Governor will propose legislative language that will codify the new higher standards and require all utilities, public and private, to meet the 33 percent target and spread implementation costs across all ratepayers with safeguards for low-income customers. The executive order will also allow for the expansion of eligibility for California’s RPS program to renewable energy generation from other western states.

The Governor made today’s announcement at the site of OptiSolar’s new plant in Sacramento, which will begin manufacturing solar panels in early 2009. When fully built out, the one-million-square-foot plant will be the largest photovoltaic solar panel manufacturing plant in North America.

Image: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A quicker, easier way to make coal cleaner

Construction of new coal-fired power plants in the United States is in danger of coming to a standstill, partly due to the high cost of the requirement -- whether existing or anticipated -- to capture all emissions of carbon dioxide, an important greenhouse gas. But an MIT analysis suggests an intermediate step that could get construction moving again, allowing the nation to fend off growing electricity shortages using our most-abundant, least-expensive fuel while also reducing emissions.

Instead of capturing all of its CO2 emissions, plants could capture a significant fraction of those emissions with less costly changes in plant design and operation, the MIT analysis shows.

"Our approach -- 'partial capture' -- can get CO2 emissions from coal-burning plants down to emissions levels of natural gas power plants," said Ashleigh Hildebrand, a graduate student in chemical engineering and the Technology and Policy Program. "Policies such as California's Emissions Performance Standards could be met by coal plants using partial capture rather than having to rely solely on natural gas, which is increasingly imported and subject to high and volatile prices."

Hildebrand will present her findings on Nov. 18 at the 9th International Conference on Greenhouse Gas Control Technologies in Washington. Her co-author is Howard J. Herzog, principal research engineer at the MIT Energy Initiative and chair of the conference organizing committee.

The United States is facing a pressing need for more power plants that run essentially all the time. Renewable sources aren't suited to the task, nuclear plants can't be built quickly enough, and expanded reliance on natural gas raises price and energy-security concerns. Coal, which now supplies more than half of all U.S. electricity, seems the best option.

But as several states have started to regulate CO2 emissions, and others are expected to follow suit, some of the luster has come off coal. Amid the uncertainty, no one wants to be the "first mover" on building a new coal plant incorporating carbon capture and storage (CCS). Depending on the type of plant, carbon capture alone can increase the initial capital cost by 30 to 60 percent and decrease plant efficiency so that the cost per kilowatt-hour rises. That high cost would reduce a plant's economic competitiveness, meaning it might be called on to run on a limited basis, or not at all. Plus, CCS hasn't been proved at full scale, so no one knows exactly what to expect.

In Herzog's view, the call for full carbon capture is "a policy of inaction, a policy that won't move forward either new coal plants or the CCS technology." Partial capture could be a viable intermediate step.

The push for full capture (defined as 90 percent of the total) is in part economic: everyone assumed that 90 percent capture would -- due to economies of scale -- yield the lowest cost per ton of CO2 removed. Anything less than 90 percent would mean a higher per-ton cost.

To investigate that assumption, Hildebrand and Herzog modeled the technological changes and costs involved in capturing fractions ranging from zero to 90 percent. The model takes into account technological breakpoints. For example, carbon capture is achieved by a series of devices that absorb CO2, release it and compress it. Full capture may require two or more parallel series.

The model confirms that the cost per ton of CO2 removed declines as the number of captured tons increases. Not surprisingly, when the second series is added, cost per ton goes up, but it then quickly levels off. Cost per ton is thus roughly the same at, say, 60 percent capture as it is at 90 percent capture. Since there are no economies of scale to be gained by going to 90 percent, companies can remove less -- and significantly reduce their initial capital investment as well as the drop in efficiency once the plant is running.

The researchers conclude that as a near-term measure, partial capture looks promising. New coal plants with lower CO2 emissions would generate much-needed electricity while also demonstrating carbon capture and providing a setting for testing CO2 storage -- steps that will accelerate the large-scale deployment of full capture in the future.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Don’t Call it a Wind Farm

It’s an EcoPower Centre: Canada’s Largest Wind Project

Though in the scheme of the world it’s solidly in the middle ranks of wind power project capacity, but given that the newly finished Melancthon EcoPower Centre, developed by Canadian Hydro, is Canada’s largest wind farm it’s still worth noting. Here are the details:

Under Construction Since 2005
Located near Shelburne, Ontario (northwest of Toronto), the Melancthon EcoPower Centre has a capacity of 199.5 MW and has been under construction since 2005. It commenced initial commercial operations after the 67.5 MW first phase was completed in in 2006. The final phase, which brought the project to its current nation-leading capacity, began construction in 2007.

All the electricity from the project is being sold to the Ontario Power Authority under two 20-year contracts.

Canadian Hydro says that it expects the wind farm’s annual output to be about 545 GWh, or enough power for 70,000 homes.

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