Showing posts with label stand up paddle board. Show all posts
Showing posts with label stand up paddle board. Show all posts

Friday, March 27, 2009

Stimulus money starts flowing for Green Tech

After weeks of supportive words from the president, U.S. green-tech professionals saw something else this week: money starting to flow.

The Department of Energy said last Friday that it expects to provide $535 million in loans to California start-up Solyndra, which has a novel design for rooftop solar arrays. The alternative-energy loan, the first of its kind in four years from the DOE, is a positive sign for the finance-challenged green-tech industry, investors and entrepreneurs said this week.

"I'm happy to see our government supporting advanced research initiatives particularly in regards to energy because the country needs it," said John Walecka, a founding partner at RedPoint Ventures, one of the investors in Solyndra.

"The government doesn't have any intention of running businesses. But from what I can see, they are sophisticated and thoughtful in how to structure deals--that's very clear," he said.

Because of the troubled credit markets, the DOE program has become the "provider of last resort" to companies that need financing to expand and build manufacturing plants, said venture capital investor Paul Holland of Foundation Capital, who was in Washington this week at a meeting of energy professionals at the White House.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu has revamped the DOE's loan-vetting process to break the logjam of these loans, which many high-profile green-tech start-ups such as Tesla Motors and battery maker A123 Systems have applied for. Meanwhile, the government's economic stimulus plan calls for $1.6 billion for research through the national laboratories and for investments to bulk up and modernize the transmission grid to transport solar and wind power.

In anticipation of a big inflow of money, green business people have reported spending a lot of time in Washington, D.C. Everyone--from small start-ups to established wind project developers--is hiring lobbyists to influence policy.

"If you just take wind, every developer in the country will be knocking on the DOE's door and asking to get a piece of the pie," Jim Barry, chief executive of renewable energy project developer NTR said at the Jefferies Global Clean Technology conference in New York earlier this month. "The higher quality projects will rise to the top."

Wind and solar benefit
Businesses involved in building large wind farms or solar projects will directly benefit from stimulus spending, according to investors. Companies that sell smart-grid equipment and software to utilities, meanwhile, could benefit indirectly from investments to modernize the grid.

In the short term, loans and changes in the way the federal government subsidizes renewable energy will help finance projects that might have been stalled because a lack of tax equity, Kevin Walsh, managing director of renewable energy at GE Energy Financial Services, said at the Jefferies conference. Utilities are also expected to invest in their own renewable energy projects, rather than rely on third parties.

Solyndra's rooftop solar arrays are made up of hundreds of tube-shaped solar cells. Will more green start-ups get government assistance this year?

(Credit: Solyndra)But even with the hefty commitment to clean energy in the stimulus plan, many of the rules surrounding those policies still need to be worked out, Walsh said. He called the current period "the implementation phase" and noted that there is more energy-related legislation in the works, including an expected energy bill this year and climate regulations.

Depending on the industry within green tech, the financial impact from stimulus-related investments won't necessarily be felt this year, Mark Bachman, an equity analyst with Pacific Crest Securities, said in a research note Monday.

"Investors should expect neither loans for renewable energy, manufacturing facilities and transmission projects nor matching smart grid and facility construction grants to add materially to 2009 expectations. The lion's share of these funds will be released in 2010 and impact sales and EPS (earning per share) in late 2010 and beyond," Bachman wrote.

Government-funded bubble?
In all, the stimulus plan has $39 billion in direct investments through the DOE and another $20 billion in tax incentives, Obama said earlier this week. The challenge with implementing these policies is setting subsidies at the right level to promote nascent industries without funding flawed companies, said Paul Clegg, an equity analyst from Jefferies.

"There is a risk that we overstimulate or we keep some of the wrong companies in business," he said. "We're likely to see a lot of boom and bust cycles and, as a result, a lot of volatility."

Even though the DOE made a point in acting quickly by approving a loan to Solyndra, bureaucratic delays or mismanagement are another risk.

"Any time you have a big new initiative, you have to assume a certain amount of waste and a certain amount of mistakes," Foundation Capital's Holland said. "However, directionally, these are really the right things for the country."
Martin LaMonica is a senior writer

Monday, November 3, 2008

Solar Cells Set New Performance

Researchers have announced a solar energy breakthrough that could lead to its more widespread use with their achievement of the highest efficiency ever for one type of solar cells.

The photovoltaic cells, called dye-sensitized solar cells or Gräztel cells, could expand the use of solar energy for homes, businesses and beyond, the researchers say.

Gräztel cells are cheaper to make than standard silicon-based solar cells, but until now they have had serious drawbacks. They have not been efficient enough at converting light into electricity, and their performance dropped after relatively short exposures to sunlight.

The research, conducted by Peng Wang of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and colleagues, including Michael Gräztel of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, inventor of this type of cell in 1991, involves photovoltaic cells composed of titanium dioxide and powerful light-harvesting dyes.

The team used a new type of ruthenium-based dye to help boost the solar cells' light-harvesting ability. The new cells showed efficiencies as high as 10 percent, a record for this type of solar cell (efficiency is the ratio of useful energy delivered by a system to the energy initially supplied). Most silicon-based solar cells have efficiencies of around 12 percent. But manufacturing silicon is not cheap. The current cost of electricity from silicon-based solar panels for houses or businesses is 25 cents to 40 cents per kilowatt-hour, roughly triple what most people pay their utility company.

Organic solar cells, another up-and-comer, typically convert only 3 percent of incoming sunlight into electricity.

The new cells also showed greater stability at high temperatures than previous formulas, retaining more than 90 percent of their initial output after 1,000 hours in full sunlight. Gräztel cells can also be made into flexible sheets or coatings.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Plastic recycling affects a range of products, from drink containers to shopping bags to pipes. Plastic is almost always the product of petroleum, a non-renewable resource. This makes recycling plastic even more important.

Curbside programs often make recycling plastic containers easier than other plastic products. You’ll likely be unable to recycle plastic bags, packaging and Styrofoam at the curb. This material is very recyclable at a qualified center; use Earth 911’s recycling locator to find one.

Some plastics are part of our daily lives whether we realize it or not.

To know the best way to recycle these products, let’s learn more about their lifecycles including where they are used, tips to recycle them and what happens to them next.

Plastic Bottles
Facts • Benefits of recycling • Tips on recycling • How it gets recycled • What’s next?

Plastic Bags
Facts • Benefits of recycling • Tips on recycling • How it gets recycled • What’s next?

Facts • Benefits of recycling • Tips on recycling • How it gets recycled • What’s next?

Plastic Packaging
Facts • Benefits of recycling • Tips on recycling • How it gets recycled • What’s next?

Plastic Casing
Facts • Benefits of recycling • Tips on recycling • How it gets recycled • What’s next?

Facts • Benefits of recycling • Tips on recycling • How it gets recycled • What’s next

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Proper Disposal and Recycling of E-Waste

by Justin K. Holcombe

Used electronic devices, known as e-waste, are increasingly becoming a larger part of our waste. Fortunately, there are a number of options available to those who want to recycle their old electronic items.

To address the increasing amount of e-waste, many state and local governments, electronics manufacturers, and non-profit organizations have created comprehensive recycling programs. Several states, including California, Maine, Maryland, Texas and Washington, have even enacted laws requiring the collection of certain electronics.

E-waste recycling options vary across the country. So, the first step to determine what options are available in your area is to review information about your local recycling program. This information is available on Earth 911 (using the recycling locator database at the top of this page), some local government websites and the following websites:

E.P.A. Product Stewartship
National Recycling Coalition
E Recycling Central (includes a list of questions to ask recyclers)
Basel Action Network
Computer Take Back Campaign
In addition to “traditional” recycling programs, some electronics manufacturers and retailers also offer e-waste recycling. Many manufacturer-sponsored programs will accept and process their brand for free. Some accept other brands for a small fee.

After determining what options are available, it is important to determine whether a recycler is operating under strict environmental controls and high worker safety protections. A few general questions to ask include:

Is the recycler certified (such as an ISO 14001 environmental management certification) and does it follow a set of industry recognized guidelines?
Does the recycler actually recycle most of the e-waste materials collected (It is best if the company can recycle 90 percent or more of the materials)?
Does the recycler have written procedures for removing and disposing of mercury lamps in electronic products? Many manufacturer and government sponsored programs have extensive online information detailing the way in which recycling is handled.
In addition to choosing a recycler, it is also important to prepare your e-waste for recycling. For computer recycling, one important concern is to erase all data from the computer before sending it off for recycling.

However, this should be a factor regardless of what one does with an old computer because electronic data can be retrieved from hard drives. There are many options (such as software) to ensure that the data is permanently erased.

In fact, many recycling firms will scrub the hard drive and certify that all data has been erased. Before sending your computer to a recycler, check to verify that this option is available.

Manufacturer Specific Programs
Toshiba Trade-In and Recycling Program
Lenovo/IBM (will also accept other e-waste of other computer manufacturers)
Retailer Programs
Circuit City (Easy-trade in program)
Best Buy
Staples (accepts computers, monitors, laptops, and desktop printers, faxes and all-in-ones)
EPA Plug-In Partners (lists manufacturers, retailers and service providers that offer recycling of e-waste)
EPA–lists options for donating or recycling e-waste
Techsoup–lists non-profit organizations and recyclers of e-waste
Goodwill (some locations accept computers)–website includes tips on how to donate computers
Cell Phone Recycling/Donation
Motorola (accepts all brands for free)
Nokia (accepts all brands for free)
Call to Recycle
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (donation of cell phones)
Call to Protect
Verizon Wireless (accepts phones at Verizon stores)
AT&T Wireless (accepts phones at AT&T stores)
T-Mobile Wireless (accepts phones in stores and by mail)
Sprint Wireless (accepts phones in stores and by mail; recycling proceeds go to charity)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Martyn Williams, IDG News Service
Mon Jun 16, 12:30 AM ET

Environmental group Greenpeace said it identified three containers of electronic waste as they were about to be unloaded in Hong Kong Port over the weekend.

The group said the three containers were on the "Yang Ming Success" that had sailed to Hong Kong from the U.S. port of Oakland and were destined for the Sanshui district in neighboring Guangdong province. That meant the shipment was illegal under Chinese law, Greenpeace said.

In a video distributed by the group to news organizations, Greenpeace supporters that had boarded the ship can be seen unfurling a banner along the side of containers that read in English and Chinese, "Toxic waste not welcomed here."

In response Hong Kong's Environmental Protection Department has ordered the containers be held on the pier until the owner opens them for inspection, said Lo Sze Ping, a campaign director for Greenpeace. The Hong Kong authorities could not be immediately reached for comment.

Greenpeace said that Hong Kong is a major transit point for electronic waste because of several loopholes in the territory's environmental protection regulations. Among them, importers can easily claim the waste is for recycling or reuse to escape the controls, the group said. It also charged the Environmental Protection Department, which issues the import and export permits, with concentrating on waste like old batteries and paying little attention to printed-circuit boards.

The issue of e-waste is one that the Amsterdam-based the toxins found inside, including lead, beryllium, PVC, phthalates and brominated fire retardants can poison the environment and damage human health.

Of particular concern in the region is the Chinese city of Guiyu, which is also in Guangdong province. The city is one of the biggest electronic waste recycling centers on earth but the informal industry is centered around primitive, small-scale factories where products are dismantled by hand. The work is often done with little regard for health of the workers or the environment.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Medical Records: Good or Bad

Here are two stories covering the good and bad of personal health records (phr). While the idea of having all your medical records in one place sounds good on paper, I am unconvinced that it is worth the loss of privacy it comes with. It isn't the fear of the system being hacked as much as the number of people who will have access to it.

For the system to be of any value every doctors office, laboratory, clinic, and hospital in America will have access. That means every health care worker has access and no system with that many people can be secured.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Batteries simplicity coming to the US

Responses to the Defra-led consultation on the UK's introduction of the Batteries Directive have indicated strong support for a single compliance scheme from both the local authority sector and the Waste & Resources Action Programme, writes Nick Mann.

Kerbside collections are one of the issues commented on by consultees
In its response, WRAP states that the Directive's requirement for the UK to collect 25% of batteries by 2012 makes it unnecessary to introduce a multiple producer compliance system.

It states: "WRAP believes that the relatively small weight of batteries which will need to be collected to meet the 2012 collection rate target (estimated to be between 5000 and 7500 tonnes per annum) does not warrant the establishment of multiple compliance schemes, and the considerably increased administration burden which could be required for large numbers of schemes."

At the same time, it stresses the importance of the schedule for meeting the Directive's targets, explaining that: "The time period allowed for achievement of the 25% and 45% targets is short. Multiple compliance schemes may view competitive advantage as preferable to the achievement of targets in the short to medium term."


The Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee, LARAC, also backs the idea of a single scheme, arguing that "simplicity is the key".

"Multiple schemes may offer the element of competition but this system could lead to different collection schemes, leading to higher communication costs to explain the multiple costs on offer," it explains.

Similarly, the Local Government Association, LGA, advocates a single compliance scheme, claiming that it would benefit both producers and local authorities.

The LGA consultation response reveals that "local authorities favour a single compliance scheme because they believe it will help producers keep costs down".

"This is because the single compliance system would allow for a negotiated or brokered approach between producers and the many councils in England whereby councils can help producers discharge their duty at low cost," it adds.

The issue of the methods that should be used to collect batteries to meet the requirements of the Directive has attracted particular debate in recent months (see story), and the consultation responses reveal continued differences of opinion.

Despite concerns over kerbside collections, LARAC's response reveals support for the method as part of a mixed approach to the issue.

"An element of kerbside collections will be needed at (arguably) greater cost, in order for targets to be met," it argues. "A compliance scheme needs to be able to select and control the mix of options that are needed for targets to be achieved."

Advising against relying purely on collections from civic amenity sites, it instead suggests using locations such as schools and libraries as potential collection points.

Mixed collection methods also win support from WRAP, with the organisation citing its involvement in trials of kerbside collection of batteries (see story) as evidence of their effectiveness.

"Kerbside has proved particularly effective as it is both relatively easy to introduce and appears to be the preferred method for many householders according to our research," it states.

"We also believe that the mix will be different in different areas as some collection routes will not be readily available in some areas, or will not be cost-effective (for example a postal scheme in an urban area)."

However, WRAP warns of the cost to producers that kerbside schemes might entail, adding that "we must stress that kerbside collection is not free of cost".

"Some local authorities appear to have absorbed costs (for example management and staff costs) during the trial schemes as part of their local commitment to the trial; however it must not be assumed that this would be acceptable once producer responsibility is established."

The issue of cost has led the LGA to express its doubts over kerbside collections (see story), and its response to the consultation reiterates that view.

As well as revealing concerns over the possible contamination of other materials from batteries collected in commingled kerbside collections, it calls for the establishment of a "network" of consumer drop-off points to keep costs down.

"Systems which collect large quantities of batteries from strategic drop-off points in a range of collections including retail outlets, schools, offices etc. - with infrequent collections or otherwise collections only when there is a large enough quantity to pick up...will be cheaper than kerbside collection systems which involve large numbers of pick-ups for small numbers of batteries," it argues.


Both LARAC and WRAP offer clear support for the idea of interim targets to allow the UK to meet its battery collection goals, with LARAC emphasising the benefits that it believes a single scheme would play.

However, it avoids recommending specific interim goals, or definite action to be taken if the compliance scheme fails to meet its targets.

On the other hand, WRAP outlines a series of targets to increase the UK's current portable battery collection rate of 3%, calling for a rate of 8% by 2009, 14% by 2010 and 20% by 2011.

It also calls for a system of fines to be introduced, stating that: "If interim targets are not met then a series of fines should be imposed on the compliance scheme.

"It should be a requirement of membership that these fines are passed on to those producers who are members of the scheme during the year that the interim target is not met," it adds.

The UK is set to introduce producer responsibility for battery collections under the Directive at the end of September.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Wireless Worries

HIGH-PITCHED DIGITAL MELODIES and the phrase, “Can you hear me now?” have become mainstream in recent years, thanks to the growing popularity of wireless phones. But while consumers are buying phones equipped with games, text messaging and cameras, the industry has yet to provide for another important demand — an easy disposal system for that outdated phone and a product that is easy to recycle or refurbish.

Next year, Americans are predicted to buy more than 100 million new cell phones and stuff their old phones into closets, drawers and other nooks around the house or office. At that point, the stockpile of out-of-service phones will rise to 500 million units weighing 250,000 tons (about one pound each), according to “Calling All Cell Phones,” a 2003 report by Inform Inc., a New York-based research organization.

“The numbers today are the same as what we found in 2003,” says Eric Most, who authored the Inform report. “At current rates of recovery, hundreds of millions of used cell phones will soon wind up in landfills or incinerators where they'll release arsenic, lead, cadmium and many other toxic materials that threaten human health and the environment,” he says.

Thus, the cell phone industry is scrambling to develop comprehensive disposal alternatives. Cell phone recycling programs are moving in the right direction, Most says, but their scope is dwarfed by the stunning growth of the industry. In 1995, wireless phone carriers supplied service to approximately 34 million subscribers. At the beginning of 2003, there were 141 million cell phone users. According to industry estimates, the average cell phone lasts about 1.5 years. If this estimate is correct, 141 million more phones will require disposal by the end of 2005.

But developing recycling streams for new products takes time. Between 1999 and early 2003, cell phone recycling efforts netted fewer than 5 million phones, about 1 percent of those discarded.

Wireless industry affiliates account for the lion's share of discarded cell phone collection and recycling, according to Inform. Programs include Donate-A-Phone, operated by the Washington, D.C.-based Wireless Foundation, and the Call-To-Protect program, which Verizon Wireless of Bedminster, N.J., operates through its organization HopeLine. AT&T Wireless recently entered the field with a Wireless Reuse & Recycle program.

Additionally, a number of manufacturers and wireless carriers participate in Wireless Foundation programs: Alltel, Cingular, Motorola, Nextel, Rural Cellular Corp. and Sprint. These programs refurbish phones and donate them to charities or resell them to new users. Cell phones that cannot be refurbished are recycled back into the manufacturing process. However, that leaves 495 million cell phones with no place to go but the landfill.

“Bottom line, this is a matter for concern, but not alarm,” says Bruce Parker, president and CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA), a sub-association of the Environmental Industry Association (EIA). “Every few years, the e-waste stream changes as technology replaces older products. The technical ability to discover toxic and potentially negative aspects of electronic products is still far ahead of the ability to deal with those discoveries in terms of social policies.”

Parker goes on to note that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Washington, D.C., currently is working with companies that manufacture electronic products to develop an infrastructure of programs to refurbish and recycle e-waste, including cell phones. Yet he believes the responsibility for dealing with e-waste must ultimately fall on manufacturers and retailers.

“It is an upstream responsibility,” Parker says. “We are part of the loop in that we eyeball incoming trash and comply with landfill bans by sending banned materials back. But you can't deal with the problem itself downstream at the landfill.”

The Inform report draws a similar conclusion and recommends a number of steps to help cell phone retailers and manufacturers control the problem.

The recommendations include national advertising campaigns that advise consumers to return their old cell phones to stores and manufacturers, to take advantage of cell phone collection drives, and to donate cell phones to charities that refurbish and redistribute the phones.
Inform also recommends that manufacturers develop more durable plastic components to reduce the number of parts that must be replaced during phone refurbishing. Manufacturers also could standardize cell phone design elements, such as adapters, batteries and accessories, to speed refurbishing and allow more parts to be recycled back into manufacturing. Other recommendations include reducing toxic contaminants in parts, simplifying software reprogramming procedures and color-coding batteries to simplify sorting.

The Inform report also makes four suggestions to public policy makers:

Require consumers to make deposits on cell phone purchases. The promise of a refund would provide an incentive to return used phones for reuse and recycling.
Institute landfill bans on cell phones.

Make manufacturers responsible for managing end-of-life cell phones to create incentives for manufacturers to design products that are easier to refurbish and recycle.
Evaluate the effectiveness of such policies by requiring manufacturers, retailers and recyclers to report on the collection, recycling, refurbishment and eventual end-use of old cell phones.
Efforts to keep cell phones out of landfills may not hold huge selling power among consumers. But if the industry continues to develop technology at its current pace, investing in reusable products could be music to the waste industry's ears.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Ku Ikaika Challenge

HONOLULU - (February 14, 2008) - Today's inaugural QuikSilverEdition Ku Ikaika Challenge, presented by C4 Waterman and Red Bull, was a hugely successful celebration of the waterman heritage, epic surf and aloha that have been Hawaii's gifts to the world for centuries. Staged in waves that ranged throughout the day from six to 15 feet (wave face heights of 12-30 feet), the world's first big-wave stand up paddle surfing event was more about gathering together to honor a tradition than it was about winning. The first place winner's check of $4,000, ultimately claimed by revered Hawaiian waterman Aaron Napoleon (Pearl City, Oahu, 41), was presented on his behalf to the West Side Junior Lifeguard Foundation. Every surfer in the main event received an equal prize check of $350.

Napoleon surfed through a total of five rounds to win the all-Hawaiian final, charging hard through every round and posting one of the event's two perfect 10-point rides for a huge barrel. Second place today was 24-year-old Keoni Keaulana (Waianae), who was the top-performing member of the highly represented and respected Keaulana family of Makaha. Third place went to big-wave specialist Ikaika Kalama (Waialua, Oahu), and fourth was Kamu Auwae (Waianae).
Of the field of 32 surfers, 24 were from the Hawaiian Islands, four were from California: Scott Bass, Kyle Mochizuki, Chris Mauro and Chuck Patterson; two were from Tahiti: Raimana Van Bastolaer and Arsene Harehoe; and two were from Australia: Jamie Mitchell and Liam Wilmott. There was also one woman in the event: Maui's Tiare Lawrence.

As the oldest competitor in the final at 41, Napoleon had a well of ocean knowledge to draw from today, both from his own lifetime of experience and as the product of one of Hawaii's best known ocean-going families. A top-performer over the years in every salt-water sport on offer, Napoleon attributed his success to good genes and just wanting to have fun.

"If you could have been out there and seen how the water and the waves looked from where I was, it was so beautiful, man, I was in heaven," said Napoleon. "How you goin' beat one guy (sic) that's having fun?

"It wasn't super big, but it was fun.

"My first heat in the trials I kinda really bonked. I told myself that if I get another chance I'm going for it."

On his perfect 10-scoring, 12-foot wave: "I set it up, pulled in there, had some travel time. I could see the jet-skis in the channel and even though I didn't make it out, when I came up it seemed like the crowd was in awe. To get the respect, I'm on cloud nine."

Chuck Patterson (CA) was a standout charger. Photo: Chuck Patterson followed an identical path to Napoleon through the event, unfortunately falling one heat short of the glory, but not an ounce short on respect earned. Like Napoleon, he only made it out of the trials by virtue of being one of the highest placed thirds (technically only first and second in each heat were advancing, but a couple of vacancies in the seeded main round allowed a couple of top thirds a second shot).

Where Napoleon capitalized on the biggest, most critical waves and a high, racing line, Patterson opted for large open-faced waves and a top-to-bottom sequence of power carves that totally utilized the paddle.

Like Napoleon, Patterson is also an exponent of multiple sports - kite-surfing, big-wave tow-in surfing, snowboarding and skiing. Stand up paddle surfing is his latest passion.

"I'm addicted!" said Patterson, who runs a construction company and cross-trains young athletes when not pursing his own sporting goals. "This new sport is so exciting. It's as much fun as anything I've ever done and it's the most humbling. It has its glorified moments that leaving you feeling amazing, but then you can turn straight around and fall on a small little bump on the water. It's a humanizing experience - you've just got to get back on your feet and start over. You're always learning and it's never boring."

The vibe on the beach said it all today: no commercial hyp, just an intimate crowd of mostly surf-stoked aunties, uncles and families. There couldn't have been a better venue on the planet than Makaha Beach - for natural beauty or waves. Located near the end of the road on the West Side of Oahu, Makaha has long been a paradise for surfers, playing host to the first world championships of surfing more than 50 years ago. Not much has changed around here in that time, and those things that did have now come full circle, like the old beachboy style of stand up paddle surfing that proved without a doubt today that it's back to stay this time.

Ku Ikaika: "Stand Strong". The name for this event came from the name of the non-profit foundation established last year by supporting sponsor of this event, C4 Waterman. The Ku Ikaika Foundation was established to shine a light on the youth that it encourages to stand strong and make strong, positive choices in life.

HVAC boot cleared of Asbestos in Los Angeles