Showing posts with label e waste. Show all posts
Showing posts with label e waste. Show all posts

Friday, September 11, 2009

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Spray-on solar panels developed

read om budget minded peoples;

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Solar industry growth dimming with economy

(01-20) 14:38 PST -- The solar industry remains a bright spot in a down economy. But while the field continues to grow, the rate of progress may be slowing as the credit crunch and technological difficulties blunt the effect of government subsidies, industry sources say.

A layoff announced last week by Hayward's OptiSolar Inc. highlighted some of the issues facing the sector. The local company, which builds power-plant-size solar arrays, blamed the 290 job cuts on trouble securing financing. Industry observers said its troubles also reflect the challenges of moving new technologies from the lab to the field.

"The Silicon Valley plants are now coming to the proof of principle point," said Neal Dikeman, a founder at Jane Capital Partners, an energy investment firm in San Francisco. "Everyone has simply underestimated how difficult this is."

As the new Obama administration pegs its job-creation hopes on industries like solar, the question is not whether the field will grow, but whether it will grow faster or slower - and with what subsidies.

Last year, Congress enriched and extended a 30 percent federal tax credit on solar installations. California, which adds another 15 to 20 percent in incentives on top of that, has seen solar installations soar, according to California Public Utilities Commission analyst Molly Tirpak Sterkel.

"We have continued to see strong, in fact record, installations in California despite the economic conditions, and we are optimistic that it will continue in 2009," she said.

But industry sources say the nationwide market, while still growing, is growing slower.

Ron Pernick, with the market research firm Clean Edge, said solar installers are still hiring but at a slower pace in part because of the credit crunch and a wait-and-see attitude about government incentives.

"Until we get clarity from the Obama administration and the credit markets loosen up, it's going to be real hard for some of these solar outfits," Pernick said.

'Financing is a problem'
Barry Cinnamon, chief executive of Akeena Solar in Los Gatos, said his firm's solar installation business has slowed from a growth rate above 40 percent to something more in the 25 to 30 percent range. He hopes that falling prices for solar arrays, coupled with more generous federal tax incentives, will re-energize orders.

"The economics of solar have never been better," Cinnamon said. "But financing is a problem. They can't borrow money to put in the system."

Financial analyst Jesse Pichel, who follows the solar industry for Piper Jaffray, said all three segments of the installation marketplace are feeling the credit pinch to varying degrees. The residential sector must contend with plunging home equity and declining consumer confidence. Corporate buyers are leery of the capital expenditures required to put in huge arrays. The third solar market is for industrial-scale installations to sell power to utilities, and Pichel said it faces the largest financial and technical hurdles.

Focus on current contracts
OptiSolar falls into this last category. The Hayward firm says it will focus on completing current contracts, including a 550-megawatt solar plant for PG&E in San Luis Obispo. A PG&E spokeswoman said the utility remains confident OptiSolar will hit the project's Dec. 31, 2010, deadline. That deal is one of about 40 contracts PG&E has made with alternative energy suppliers to meet a state-imposed requirement that it get more than 20 percent of future power from renewable sources.

To spur installations nationwide, the solar industry wants Congress and President Barack Obama's administration to sweeten the new federal tax incentives.

Rhone Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association, argues that tax credits work only when consumers and businesses pay taxes. With the recession hitting paychecks and profits, he says tax liabilities will shrink, making credits less appealing. He wants the 30 percent credit to be refundable, so even if buyers do not pay taxes on the installation, they could still get the benefit.

In a press conference after Obama's stimulus speech, Resch said solar companies have been talking about layoffs in the industry's 80,000-person workforce. He said the goal of creating 165,000 new jobs by 2011 would be jeopardized unless "these tax credits are improved."

Pichel, the financial analyst, said European countries have driven solar installations using a different strategy, promising to pay certain prices for solar-generated power. That has created large markets in countries such as Germany, Spain, Italy and Greece. Pichel said Europe now accounts for about 80 percent of global solar demand versus close to 10 percent for the United States.

"Solar continues to be an industry driven by subsidies," he said

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Coating helps solar panels soak up more of the sun

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A new type of reflective coating can make solar panels far more efficient, soaking up nearly all available sunlight from nearly any angle, U.S. researchers said on Monday.

Current solar panels -- which convert energy from the sun into electricity -- absorb only about two-thirds of available sunlight.

But surfaces treated with a coating developed at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, can harvest 96.2 percent of sunlight.

"That is a tremendous savings," Rensselaer's Shawn-Yu Lin, whose study appears in the journal Optics Letters, said in a telephone interview.

Lin said the technology addresses two main problems in current solar cells. It captures more colors of solar spectrum and it captures light from all angles.

"If you look at a solar panel, it looks a bit bluish," Lin said. That is "telling you not all of the blue color is being absorbed. It should look totally dark."

The other problem is that solar panels work best when sun shines directly on them. To solve this, large solar arrays mechanically shift position throughout the day -- much like sunbathers on a beach.

Lin and colleagues think they have found a better solution.

Their coating is made up of seven layers of porous material stacked in such a way that each enhances the antireflective properties of the layer below.

Together they act as a buffer zone, trapping light from all angles. "Your efficiency increases by 30 percent," Lin said.

He thinks the material could be applied to all types of solar cells.

"It's not going to require many added instruments too adopted this technology," he said.

(Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen, Editing by Anthony Boadle)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Hard drive withstands fire and water

By Wolfgang Gruener

Auburn (CA) – Most small businesses and consumers do not have elaborate disaster recovery plans in place, which means that their data may be at risk, especially if backups are stored nearby. Fire and water can wipe out at least portions of the contents stored on hard drives in a matter of seconds. ioSafe announced new hard drives that promise to withstand fire and water and offer a type of product for all those who don’t invest in off-site storage.

ioSafe claims that it is the first company to offer fire- and waterproof hard drives, which may be worth a look not just for businesses, but also families who are looking for ways to keep those digital family pictures safe, even when a house burns down. The company uses 2.5” drives within 3.5” enclosures are specially equipped with heat and water barriers.

Fire protection is provided by the firm’s “DataCast endothermic insulation technology”, which the manufacturer claims forms a chemical bond with water molecules that, at temperature above 160 degrees Fahrenheit, releases water vapor to limit the internal temperature of the unit. Combined with the insulation, ioSafe claims that the drive can sustain outside temperatures of up to 1400 degrees Fahrenheit for up to 15 minutes and short term peak temperatures of up to 1700 degrees Fahrenheit.

In the case of a fire, the plastic tabs on the inside of the 3.5” casing will melt at a temperature of 250 degrees Fahrenheit, closing the drive and blocking airflow. The manufacturer said that the inside of the 2.5” drive should not get hotter than 210 degrees Fahrenheit during a fire, as 98% of radiant heat can be deflected. Typical house fires reach a heat of about 1100 degrees Fahrenheit with 3 to 5 minutes.
There was no detailed information on the water protection technology, other than the claim that the drive will be protected from fresh or salt water damage, both in full submersion and spray/splash scenarios. Full submersion protection is guaranteed for up to 24 hours in up to 5 ft of water.

Just in case the drive is damaged, ioSafe offers an optional data recovery plan that is activated through the registration of a product. The service, which is offered free of charge, provides access to data recovery experts and includes up to $2500 payment by ioSafe to a third-party data extraction service plus replacement product, if required.

Not surprisingly, ioSafe’s hard drives come at a premium over regular hard drives. The price list ranges from $330 for a 5400 rpm 80 GB drive to $460 for a 7200 rpm 200 GB drive. The highest capacity is offered by a 320 GB 5400 rpm model for $450.

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Climate Security Bill .....

will be debated in the U.S. Senate this week. The oil lobby is pushing the story that the bill will result in higher gas prices -- a piece of misinformation that we can strongly refute.

Deron Lovass, a senior energy analyst and the vehicles campaign director for Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), is available to speak with you and will specifically contradict the oil lobby's assertion as well as back his statements up with facts from a recent MARKAL study.

Please reply and I will put you in contact with him at your earliest convenience.


Rob Davis

NRDC Energy Expert: Climate Security Act Will Cut Oil Imports and Benefit Drivers Through Higher Fuel Efficiency, More Choices at the Pump

Now Available for Interviews

Washington, DC - The Climate Security Act of 2008 (S. 2191 Lieberman-Warner), set to come to the Senate floor on June 2nd, will lead to a drop in oil imports and a rise in renewable energy production according to the recent MARKAL analysis ( ). According to Deron Lovaas, Vehicles Campaign Director with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Sens. Joe Lieberman and John Warner climate bill is a key step to solving global warming and slashing our oil dependency. While the oil industry is lobbying hard to scuttle the bill and protect their windfall profits, Lovaas points out that the time is now for a dramatic national policy to simultaneously tackle global warming and oil security.

"We can't drill our way out of the oil crisis," Deron Lovaas says. "And we can't solve global warming without breaking our dependency on oil. For too long oil companies have been part of the problem; the Climate Security Act will force them to be part of the solution."

The MARKAL analysis demonstrates that meeting global warming pollution reduction targets in the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act will lead to dramatically more fuel-efficient vehicles which will reduce oil imports. MARKAL also found that the bill would produce jobs, provide manufacturing opportunities and spark innovation. The analysis, conducted by the International Resources Group for NRDC, also found that reaching the targets can be done with minimal cost to our energy system, less than one half of one percent.

NRDC analysts have also estimated what the change in transportation fuel bills would be with the Climate Security Act.

IRG used a model of the U.S. energy economy developed by the Environmental Protection Agency to examine how the emission limits specified by the Lieberman-Warner bill can be achieved. NRDC analysts extended the analysis by estimating what the change in transportation fuel bills would be with the Climate Security Act.

"This analysis confirms that passing the Climate Security Act will lead to increased fuel efficiency and more alternatives to gasoline. Improving how far our vehicles can travel on a gallon of gas will dramatically reduce oil imports," Lovaas says.

In addition to the MARKAL analysis, Tufts University Report that NRDC commissioned finds the cost of inaction on climate change will be staggering to all levels of the US economy. A comprehensive estimate, based on state-of-the-art computer modeling, finds that doing nothing on global warming will cost the United States economy more than 3.6 percent of GDP - or $3.8 trillion annually (in today's dollars) - by 2100. On the other hand, a detailed, bottom-up analysis finds that just four categories of global warming impacts -- hurricane damage, real estate losses, increased energy costs and water costs -- will add up to a price tag of 1.8 percent of U.S. GDP, or almost $1.9 trillion annually (in today's dollars) by 2100.

For more information, go here:

About Deron Lovaas
Deron Lovaas has worked at the intersection of transportation, energy and environmental policy for fifteen years. He is currently a senior energy analyst and the vehicles campaign director for NRDC. He recently served as the chief strategist for major bipartisan oil savings policy and the 2005 federal transportation bill. Previous to his seven years at NRDC, Deron worked among other places with the National Wildlife Federation, the Sierra Club and Maryland's Department of Environment. His blog can be found here:

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Bottle Bill Expansion Passed out of the Senate.

Thanks for Your Support: All Priority Waste Reduction and Recycling Bills pass out of their houses of origin!

Bottle Bill Expansion Passed out of the Senate.

CAW-sponsored SB 1625 (Corbett) cleared a big hurdle today, making it off the Senate floor with a 21 to 18 vote. This bill aims to expand California's successful container recycling program to include all plastic bottles which will significantly reduce plastic litter pollution. This measure will result in the recycling of more than 3 billion additional plastic bottles, annually reducing littered and landfilled plastic waste by 130,000 tons and providing local governments with an additional $100 million dollars. The expansion of California's Container Recycling Law was the #1 recommendation of the California Ocean Protection Council's recommendations on marine debris.

Shopping Bag Reduction Bill Advances to Senate.

CAW sponsored AB 2058 (Levine), which would institute the toughest-in-the-nation litter abatement law for carryout bags, passed out of the Assembly May 28 with a 44-33 vote. This bill would require bag diversion benchmarks be met or would require retailers charge a per-bag fee. AB 2058 would also give local governments the option to charge fees on plastic bags immediately. AB 2058 will next be heard in a Senate policy committee.

Toxic Packaging Phase-Out Bill Moves out of Assembly.

CAW-Sponsored AB 2505 (Brownley) passed out of the Assembly May 28 and now heads to the Senate. The bill will help prevent human and environmental exposure to toxins as well as encourage the recycling of consumer packaging by phasing out the use of toxic, non-recyclable PVC packaging. Previously, this bill passed out of Assembly Appropriations May 22 and passed out of the Asm. ESTM committee on April 15. AB 2505 is now headed to the State Senate.

Compostable Organics Management Bill heads to the Senate.

AB 2640 (Huffman) made it off the Assembly Floor May 28 and now moves to the Senate. AB 2640 would help expand the state's composting infrastructure by providing grants for facility operators to overcome regulatory barriers. The money for these grants would be generated through a fee on the use of green materials as landfill cover, a practice that has significant environmental impacts. Previously, the bill passed off the Assembly Floor May 28, passed out of Assembly Appropriations May 22, and passed out of the Assembly Natural Resources Committee on April 14th with a 5-3 vote.

Recycling News

May 20 - SF Plastic Bag Ban Expands to Pharmacies

May 21 -Beverage Container Recycling Rate Rises to 67%

May 28 - Report Contends That Recycling Is Not So Wasteful

Please Help Support Californians Against Waste - DONATE NOW!

Over the next three months, CAW's resources will be challenged as we work to advance several major waste prevention and recycling measures. Your online contribution today will help us to full staff up. We have several excellent summer internship candidates, but lack the resources to hire them. We would greatly appreciate your most generous contribution.

The Recycling Advocate is published at least twice monthly during the legislative session by the environmental group Californians Against Waste.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Toll Road

By: Kyle Moreno
February 6, 2008

It's been a week for the record books. Super Bowl Sunday rolled into Super Tuesday and finally, Big Wednesday. Anticipating a super-sized turnout at the mid-week critical toll road hearing, the California Coastal Commission traded in the usual Oceanside City Council Chamber for a XXL lot at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Good idea. People came out in droves. At the highest point, an estimated 2,500 Save Trestles supporters swarmed in and around the centrally located Wyland Hall, flanked with slogan-riddled t-shirts and rally signs.

"It's great to see," said former world champ Pete Townend, who mingled with the crowd. "These are the real people who recognize San Onfore State Park's true value in their lives, not a bunch of paid sign holders in orange shirts who look like they've never seen the beach."

Townend was referring the significantly smaller showing of road workers who supported the 241-extension.Current WCT Pro CJ Hobgood echoed similar sentiments: "I'm really honored to be a part of the surfing family. Now, just waiting to see if this nuts presence will yield some results."It did. Just after 11pm Pacific Time, after 14 hours of presentations from members of Save Trestles campaign, the TCA, and personal testimonies from public, the Commission voted 8 - 2 against the proposed 241 Toll Road extension, stating its inconsistency with the California Coastal Act.The packed-house erupted in cheers."Huge," said Carlsbad's Taylor Knox after the decision. "This was such a huge victory towards saving something that, once it's taken away from us, can never be put back."

"This was such a huge victory towards saving something that, once it's taken away from us, can never be put back."

--Taylor KnoxSanta Monica's Graham Hamilton drew cheers earlier in the night when he used his public testimony to reject suggestions that the surfers simply want to guard their local territory from inlanders: "My opposition would be just as sharp if it crossed Yosemite or bisected Joshua Tree. The idea of building a toll road through a state park is not only ludicrous, it's lazy."The 16-mile road, if approved, would run through San Onofre, threatening scenic views, endangered species, and a world-class break.Thomas E. Margro, the TCA's chief executive officer, said he will appeal the commission's decision to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce.

For now, though, the surf-spot's defenders can breathe a little easier."The war isn't over," wrote longtime Trestles supporter Bob Mignogna in a Thursday morning email to fellow activists. "But clearly, the biggest battle, thus far, has been won."

Monday, January 21, 2008

Sorting out eWaste

For the uninitiated, the slew of issues, as well as state and international regulations governing electronics recycling can be as complicated as computer engineering itself. To help get stakeholders and policymakers on the same page, the U.S. Department of Commerce, Technology Administration has released an expansive report on e-waste that, among other things, reiterates the need for a national solution without advocating one financing system over another.

“What this does is aggregate all of these points of view on what is obviously a complex, complicated subject,” says Kristina Taylor, manager of Environmental and State Policy Communications for the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), based in Arlington, Va. The nearly 300-page report, “Recycling Technology Products: An Overview of E-waste Policy Issues,” covers a gamut of issues and begins by offering commentary from manufacturers, retailers, recyclers and consumers on the criteria for creating a national recycling system. “I think in some cases, we might find out that we as stakeholders actually agree on more than we think we do,” Taylor adds. The points most frequently agreed upon by participants in a Technology Administration public roundtable include the need for consumer education, design improvements, flexibility in collection methods and auditing of dismantlers and recyclers.
The report also examines various recycling system models and outlines the European Union's Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) and Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directives, as well as e-waste policies of nearly a dozen countries. International action is likely to significantly affect policy at home, according to Taylor and Eric Harris, director of international and government affairs for the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), Washington. Taylor points out that California's SB20, the Electronic Waste Recycling Act of 2003, references the RoHS Directive, and Taylor says that the WEEE Directive is making the products found on American retail shelves greener.

Among other organizations, both CEA and ISRI have expressed support for the report. “Generally we are encouraged by the report because it does show some time and energy invested by the Department of Commerce,” Harris says. “They are beginning to realize that this is more of a commodity-like material than waste, so it makes sense for them to weigh in from a policy perspective because this is something that could have a positive impact on the economy.”
While ISRI generally praised the report, the institute is advocating the term e-scrap rather than e-waste, which it believes mischaracterizes the material's potential value. CEA also would prefer more accurate terminology. Harris argues that the material needs to be viewed less as waste, in part, to prevent overregulation of electronics recycling.

Along those lines, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is trying to streamline the electronics recovery and recycling process by excluding cathode ray tubes (CRTs) — found in television and computer monitors — from the federal hazardous waste management standards in certain cases. Now, used CRTs headed for recycling are not considered hazardous waste as long as they are unbroken and not stored for more than one year. In explaining the change, EPA pointed out that because of the lead contained in CRTs, parties sometimes were unsure of how to deal with the material, thereby preventing recycling and reuse. For additional details on the lengthy rule, visit

The commerce report can be downloaded at

HVAC boot cleared of Asbestos in Los Angeles