Wednesday, 20 August 2008

2MW Solar Array Dedicated At Denver International Airport

A two megawatt (MW) solar energy system has been dedicated at Denver International Airport (DIA).

The solar photovoltaic system, spanning seven and a half acres at the airport's entrance, will generate over three million kilowatt hours (kWh) of clean electricity annually, demonstrating Denver's commitment to environmental sustainability by reducing carbon emissions into the atmosphere by more than 6.3 million pounds each year.

Celebrating the system's dedication was Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, together with the following executives and dignitaries: DIA Aviation Manager Kim Day; Dick Kelly, chairman, president and CEO of Xcel Energy; MMA Renewable Ventures CEO Matt Cheney; Frank Smith, CEO, WorldWater and Solar Technologies Corp.; and Ron Kenedi, vice president of Sharp Solar Energy Solutions Group.

MMA Renewable Ventures, a subsidiary of Municipal Mortgage and Equity, LLC "MuniMae" which financed, owns and operates the two megawatt system, joined with WorldWater and Denver International Airport to develop an innovative public-private partnership, leveraging tax credits and incentives to finance this landmark solar power system.

This partnership enabled the City of Denver and Denver International Airport to deploy this solar array under a long-term contract or Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). Designed and installed by WorldWater, using more than 9,200 Sharp solar panels, the new ground-mounted photovoltaic solar arrays employ a single-axis tracking system that follows the sun during the day for greater efficiency and energy production.

"This installation at Denver International Airport fits with our Greenprint Denver action agenda for sustainability and our pledge to do all that we can to reduce our carbon footprint," said Mayor John Hickenlooper. "We are proud to have such a large and prominently placed solar power system at DIA. This installation is both a symbol and a practical example of the City's commitment to renewable energy."

Added Kim Day, aviation manager for Denver International Airport, "DIA has a long-standing commitment to sustainable operations and environmental protection. This project makes a visible environmental statement to the millions of passengers that travel through our airport."

Frank Smith, CEO of WorldWater commented, "We are delighted that such a major metropolitan airport as Denver International has embarked on a solar energy system that is as impressive in scope as this two megawatt installation, which is the equivalent in size to seven football fields. In addition, our expertise in designing and installing commercial-scale solar systems enabled us to address the complex power needs of a major transportation hub like Denver International."

"By securing power through a power purchase agreement rather than major capital investment, DIA will benefit from a renewable energy system that is cost-effective from its very first day of operation, and for years to come," said Matt Cheney, CEO of MMA Renewable Ventures.

"Our collaborative effort serves as an example of how successful public-private partnerships can help municipal facilities make the most of tax credits and other incentives available for solar energy."

Ron Kenedi, vice president of Sharp Solar Energy Solutions Group, noted, "As a leading global solar provider, Sharp is proud to be part of this tremendous effort to help Denver achieve its ambitious sustainability goals. This solar PV system will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, electricity costs, and grid constraints -- while helping to improve Denver's air quality and the region's overall environment."

"This project is right in line with the clean energy future we envision at Xcel Energy," said Dick Kelly, chairman, president and CEO of Xcel Energy. "We were pleased to play a role in helping Denver and Colorado meet the ambitious goals its leaders have set with the Renewable Energy Standard and Greenprint Denver."

The project is part of the Xcel Energy Solar*Rewards program and will receive a rebate to offset the upfront construction costs. Xcel Energy will purchase the renewable energy credits from the clean electricity produced in support of Colorado's Renewable Energy Standard, which requires large utilities to generate 20 percent of their power from renewable energy sources by 2020.

One of three U.S. airports to be accepted into the Environmental Protection Agency's National Performance Track Program, DIA's solar project illustrates how sustainable development can work as an integral operating principle -- while the airport maintains a successful, profitable business, breaking records for passenger traffic and earning high customer satisfaction ratings.

The array is one of the largest solar installations at any public airport in the U.S.

Operated by the City and County of Denver, DIA is the fifth busiest international airport in the United States, serving nearly 50 million passengers annually. With the City of Denver, Xcel Energy has developed an educational display in DIA's Jeppesen Terminal to explain the benefits of solar energy.

Source - Solardaily

How green is your energy - UK energy special

Cheap it may be. But is your electricity supplier clean or downright dirty? The argument over coal-fired power - often rated as the filthiest - is now white hot.

When we revealed a fortnight ago how to find the cheapest gas and electricity suppliers, E.ON emerged as one of our best buys. Readers then told us that, instead of saving money with E.ON, they wanted to switch away from the firm to protest against its involvement with new coal capacity at Kingsnorth, site of the Camp for Climate Action this summer.

Electricity has to come from somewhere - and most generation involves CO2 emissions or nuclear waste.

Only Good Energy is 100% sourced from renewables such as wind and waterpower. All companies have been set a government target of 9.1% of electricity from renewables by next March, rising to 15.4% by 2016.

Top of the coal burners is Scottish Power, where 55% of its generation comes from coal, substantially greater than its rivals. Not surprisingly, it also heads the carbon emission table.

EDF is the next biggest coal user at 47% followed by npower at 44% and E.ON at 42%. E.ON’s percentage is likely to rise should Kingsnorth get off the ground.

By contrast, British Gas (Centrica) takes just 18% of its needs from the fuel. It uses its own gas for electricity generation. But for those whose main worry is nuclear energy, Scottish Power’s supplies to its five million customers comes out well at only 1%.

Ecotricity, which figures prominently on green lists, mixes coal, nuclear, renewables and gas in almost equal amounts. The firm concedes it does not have a 100% green fuel mix although it does offer a 100% green supply for those who want it. “We are working towards more renewables. Our most popular tariff is made up of around 70% brown energy. Buying existing green energy, which is what most 100% tariffs contain, does nothing at all to reduce CO2 emissions or increase UK green energy capacity - you simply take something that already exists and have it for yourself.

“Robbing Peter to supply Paul is how we like to describe it. Most 100% green tariffs are a con, because they tell you you’ll reduce your carbon footprint etc, but don’t tell you someone else’s will go up as a direct result. Nothing really changes - it’s just a redistribution of existing green sources.”

Scottish Power says its high coal dependency is due to inheriting coal-fired stations - it owns Longannet station in Fife, one of the biggest in the UK. It is investigating “carbon capture” techniques. These cut down on emissions but are controversial on cost and energy grounds.

It says: “We will spend around £1bn on new renewable projects in the next two years including Europe’s biggest windfarm, Whitelee near Glasgow. Our renewable portfolio will be 10% of our capacity by 2010.”

But those who want pure green energy have to pay for it. A typical 3,300kilowatt electricity consumption costs £484 with Good Energy or £436 with Ecotricity New Energy Plus.

Scottish Power’s Green Energy H2O (it comes from hydropower) costs £354 (the same as its non-green supply) while the cheapest for non-green tariff (British Gas Click 5) costs £295.

Meanwhile Friends of the Earth says the best way to cut carbon is to turn off lights and power.

Source - The Guardian

Sunday, 17 August 2008

SolarCraft Helps Marin Shopping Centers Switch To Solar

Novato-based SolarCraft continues to establish their position as Marin County's source for local solar energy experts to provide green, renewable energy to shopping centers, business complexes and city buildings.

SolarCraft recently completed a solar energy system at the new Hamilton Marketplace in Novato. Built on the site of the former Nave Lanes, the highly anticipated new Hamilton Marketplace will create even more excitement by powering the shopping center with clean, green, renewable energy.

All commons areas, parking lots and walkway lighting will be powered by 100% solar energy. The 95,000-square-foot center is owned by Grosvenor USA Limited.

SolarCraft was also selected by Walter Kieckhefer Company to design and build a solar energy system for the planned renovation of Pacheco Plaza Shopping Center on Ignacio Boulevard, starting in August. As with Hamilton Marketing Place, all commons areas, parking lots and walkway lighting will be powered by 100% solar energy.

Both shopping centers have the potential for each tenant to purchase individual solar energy systems to power their space with renewable, clean power.

Woodlands Market in Kentfield, the largest solar powered grocery store in California, was also designed and installed by SolarCraft. "We selected SolarCraft for this project because they were clearly one of the top companies available to us in the industry. They have proven to have been an excellent choice," says Don Santa, owner of Woodlands.

SolarCraft continues to be a leader in solar installations for residential and commercial solar electric systems, as well as solar thermal pool heating and domestic hot-water systems.

Aside from these three above mentioned local projects, SolarCraft's other notable local projects include: Jacuzzi Vineyards, Sonoma; Scottish Rite Masonic Center, Santa Rosa; Starmont by Merryvale Vineyards, Napa; Fountaingrove Golf and Athletic Club, Santa Rosa; Marin Builder's Association, San Rafael; Cline Cellars, Sonoma; Geyserville Fire Station; Woodlands Market, Kentfield; and San Marin Associates Office Building, Novato.

Source - Solardaily

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Solar Power Contracted to Power Two Los Angeles Landmarks

Solar Power has entered into a design build agreement with venue owner-operators AEG to design and install photovoltaic solar systems for two of the world's best known sports and entertainment venues; STAPLES Center and NOKIA Theatre L.A. LIVE.

STAPLES Center serves as home to the L.A. Lakers, L.A. Clippers, L.A. Kings, L.A. Avengers and the L.A. Sparks, as well as a full schedule of special events and concerts featuring the most popular artists performing today.

NOKIA Theatre L.A. LIVE, which opened on October 18th, 2007 with six sold-out concerts featuring the Eagles and Dixie Chicks, is located directly across the street from the arena within the new L.A. LIVE sports, residential and entertainment district, and has already hosted the ESPY Awards, the American Music Awards and American Idol finals in addition to a full schedule of concerts, trade shows and special events.

Both venues are well known for their state-of-the-art technology, features and amenities that allow them to offer their guests the ultimate in live entertainment and sports experiences.

In addition to providing turnkey PV solar system design and installation services for the two facilities, Solar Power, Inc. will be installing their own line of PV solar modules featuring premium cells manufactured by Motech Industries, Inc., known for their superior performance characteristics.

When completed, the systems will deliver a combined 512 kilowatts of power, reducing the venues' utility-sourced electricity requirements and advancing AEG's sustainable energy practices.

Installation of the first system is scheduled to begin at the STAPLES Center in early October when the first of the 1,727 solar modules to power its new 345 kW PV solar system will be lifted 150 feet to the arena's roof.

When completed, approximately 24,196 square feet of STAPLES Center's roof will be covered with SPI's SP200 PV modules.

The solar arrays will become integrated with the venue's familiar, landmark 'surfboard" rooftop feature bearing the STAPLES Center name. SPI's system design will also feature SPI's innovative SkyMountTM racking system.

The installation of the NOKIA Theatre L.A. LIVE's 167 kilowatt system is scheduled to begin in October soon after installation of the STAPLES Center system is underway. The 7,100 seat NOKIA Theatre L.A. LIVE will be home to 836 SPI photovoltaic modules covering approximately 11,663 square feet of its roof.

'We are very excited to be chosen for this project," said Steve Kircher, CEO of Solar Power, Inc.

'STAPLES Center and the NOKIA Theatre L.A. LIVE have continuously distinguished themselves as preeminent venues for sports and entertainment events. This project serves as an important extension of AEG's sustainable energy practices, and we are proud to play a significant part as they make a substantial commitment to energy independence and the environment.

"The environmental benefits of systems of this size, coupled with the cost savings they will deliver to AEG's operations, demonstrate the increasingly important role energy management is playing in business operations everywhere."

'Our investment to purchase these state-of-the-art photovoltaic solar energy systems for both STAPLES Center and NOKIA Theater L.A. LIVE, making them the first facilities of their kind to do so at this level, reaffirms our commitment to ensuring that our venues are the most environmentally friendly in the industry," said Lee Zeidman, Sr. Vice President and General Manager, STAPLES Center and NOKIA Theatre L.A. LIVE.

'The technology, expertise and experience that Solar Power, Inc. is providing us will dramatically advance our sustainable energy initiatives while decreasing our carbon footprint."

Source - Solardaily

Future of UK’s energy supply is bleak

With every week that goes by it becomes clearer that, within a few years, Britain will face an unprecedented crisis, thanks to the shambles the Government has made of our energy policy.

After years of dereliction, when only a crash programme of measures could keep our lights on and our economy functioning, our policy has become so skewed by blinkered environmentalism and diktats from the EU that we are fast heading for the worst of all worlds - a near-total dependence on foreign sources of energy which will not only be astronomically expensive but which can in no way be guaranteed to supply all the electricity we need.

What are the hard facts?

Between now and 2015 we shall lose 40 per cent of the generating capacity we currently require to meet maximum demand (still rising), due to the phasing out of almost all our obsolescent nuclear reactors and the closure of nine of our major coal- and oil-fired power stations under an EU “anti-pollution” directive.

Gordon Brown talks about building a new generation of nuclear power plants, for which we would have to rely on the French - having two years ago sold off Westinghouse, the only British-owned firm capable of constructing them.

But even if the French play ball, which seems less likely since the collapse of Brown’s plan to sell off British Energy to France’s EDF, the new plants could still not be built in time to plug the gap.

The only short-term remedy will be to build yet more gas-fired stations, at a time when we are fast running out of our own gas supplies and when gas prices are shooting through the roof, reducing us to dependence on countries such as Mr Putin’s Russia or Qatar, both of which have recently announced caps on future exports.

Our best bet might seem to invest urgently in a dozen more coal-fired power stations, which still supply more than a third of our electricity.

But own coal industry is so run down - though we still have more than 100 years of reserves - that barely a quarter of the 62 million tons of coal we used last year was British.The rest had to be imported, including 22 million tons from Russia and 12 million tons from South Africa.

At a time when rocketing world demand for coal has already doubled prices in a year, we should again be dependent on unreliable foreign sources, to generate electricity by means which excite almost as much fury from environmentalists as nuclear power - as we saw with last week’s demonstrations against plans by German-owned E.On to build a new “clean coal” station at Kingsnorth in Kent.

With this colossal crisis fast approaching, our ministers are still lost in the cloudcuckooland of Mr Brown’s £100 billion “green energy” plan, to meet our EU target of generating a third of our electricity from renewables by 2020.

Not an energy expert in the country says this is remotely feasible. Our present 2,000 wind turbines supply just 1.5 per cent of our power, and even if Mr Brown’s 7,000 additional turbines could in practice be built, we would still be more than 200 per cent short of our EU target.

Worse still is the fact that our electricity investment market is now so skewed by the various subsidy and “carbon savings” schemes adopted to meet our various EU targets that these are now uselessly soaking up more than £5 billion a year which should otherwise be urgently invested in proper generating capacity.

Our major power companies can now make so much money from “renewables” subsidies and other “planet saving” schemes that they have much less incentive to risk capital on those which might keep our lights on.

Our energy policy is now so constrained and distorted by EU requirements that, even if we had a government with the knowhow and will to sort out the mess, we should soon be breaking EU laws all over the place.

Tragically, no one seems to remain in more blissful ignorance of all these harsh realities than our Conservative opposition which, when the crisis arrives, may well be in power.

Not only will those at the top of the Tory party, on present showing, have no idea why the lights are going out, but they will have even less idea of what to do about it - because by then it will be too late.

Source: The Telegraph

Monday, 11 August 2008

NYC among 21 cities to disclose carbon output

NEW YORK (Reuters) - More than 20 U.S. cities, including New York, Las Vegas and Denver, have agreed to measure their carbon footprints, with a system some 1,300 companies have been persuaded to use, in an attempt to find ways to curb emissions blamed for warming the planet.

"If you don't measure these emissions, you cannot manage them," said Paul Dickinson, the chief executive of the UK- based Carbon Disclosure Project, which joined forces with the cities. Urban traffic, buildings and manufacturers emit 70 percent of the world's greenhouse gases.

Each of the 21 cities will gather emissions data for their municipal functions, such as their fire and police departments, government buildings and waste services, which will help cities compare how they are doing. They will also assess emissions from the city as a whole.

"Working together, and with the best data, we can manage this problem," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a release.

The CDP, which represents 385 global institutional investors that manage a total of more than $57 trillion in assets, has gathered corporate emissions data through surveys since 2000. It says it has collected the largest corporate greenhouse gas emissions database in the world.

CDP also assists multinational organizations to collect climate change data from their suppliers.

Earlier this year, more than 20 of the world's largest companies, including IBM, Nestle SA, and Tesco, with a combined purchasing power of about $1 trillion, found that only a quarter of their suppliers had greenhouse gas reduction targets, according to a survey coordinated by CDP.

Dickinson said once the cities discover their biggest sources of emissions, emerging energy-efficiency companies should swoop in and find ways for them to save emissions and money by slowing the waste of fuel. "The process should really lead to the beginnings of a fundamental restructuring of how cities consume energy," he said.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc, which initially resisted disclosing their emissions through CDP, has since received praise for targeting the sources of their emissions.

Cities can do the same, Dickinson said. "Cities compete in the market for business, investment, talent, all sorts of things, and finding ways to profit by tackling climate change can make them attractive," he said.

The 21 cities will submit their responses to CDP by October 31. and the results will be published in the group's first cities report in January.

Other cities in the project include West Palm Beach, St. Paul, and New Orleans. At least nine more are expected to take part. Dickinson said CDP is working to expand the project to cities in other countries.

CDP partnered on the project with ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability USA, an international association of local governments working on environmental issues.

Source - Reuters

Recyclers are cashing in on the fortune in your bin

Householders are missing a chance to share in the results of huge profits generated by the soaring value of recyclable domestic rubbish, The Times has learnt.

The price of recyclable plastic, newspaper and cardboard has doubled in 18 months, giving councils a source of “green gold” that could be spent on improving local services. Many are locked into 20 to 30-year contracts with recycling companies and are unable to cash in on the higher cost of plastic and copper.

As the cost of commodities rises it increasingly makes sense for manufacturers to retrieve materials from rubbish instead of buying them new. Town hall leaders have told The Times that the sector is missing out on millions of pounds that would come from trading commodities themselves or negotiating better contracts. They said that such profits could go to improving local services and even cutting bills.

Such is the concern over the complicated waste contracts that the Audit Commission is looking at the length and cost of the deals as well as the financial risks. The value of raw materials and the inequity of council returns are being examined as part of the inquiry. It reports next month.

Local authorities such as Kent County Council admit that they could make up to £1 million a year by selling recyclable materials if the 25-year deal could be renegotiated. Westminster council, which has a seven-year contract to share profits as prices rise, believes that town halls are sitting on a fortune. “Where there’s muck there’s brass,” Mark Banks, Westminster’s waste strategy manager, said. Any profit made will be ploughed back into services or to lower council tax rises, he said.

This year alone the rising cost of oil – used to make plastic – has pushed prices of domestic rubbish even higher. The sale price of mixed plastic bottles has nearly tripled to £230 a tonne in the past six months. Six years ago it was £10 per tonne.

With plastic processing advances in coming months, yoghurt pots, bags, food packaging and any plastic containers will be even more sought after as manufacturers recycle plastic to avoid buying oil. Newspapers and cardboard now sell for £100 a tonne, double what they were fetching early last year. Metal from cans was £80 a tonne at the start of 2007 and has risen to £200. A tonne of copper now sells for more than £3,000, compared with a tenth of that in 2002.

The sharply rising prices give councils an added incentive to boost recycling – apart from having to meet EU landfill targets – and many are keen to cash in. But the fixed-term deals negotiated by many authorities, set at the prices of recyclable materials several years ago, allow the contractor to reap the reward.

Paul Bettison, the chairman of the Local Government Association’s environment board, said that councils had tightly judged decisions: “Do you lock the contractor into what appears to be a reasonable price and lock them in as long as possible or do you secure a shorter contract and risk seeing the price dive? Recyclates go down as well as up – a bit like investments.”
He admitted that in a few years, recycled goods could be traded on the futures market like other commodities. “The markets will be making money out of the sale of recyclables and some councils will too. Not all are negotiating long-term deals.”

Mr Bettinson wants the Government to make plain that councils are sitting on a goldmine. “We need to get the message to our authorities and say, ‘Let’s see what we can get out of this without taking silly risks.’ ” Mr Banks said: “Many councils locked into fixed-price contracts may be missing out on tens of thousands of pounds of revenue from rising prices of recyclable materials. Westminster takes a commercial approach to contracts so that we benefit in rising market situations but with a safety net in place when markets inevitably turn.”

CASE STUDY: ‘We could be making £1m a year profit’
A waste disposal deal that a decade ago looked like good business is now regarded by Kent County Council as a costly mistake.

Prices of recycled materials have risen so sharply that less than halfway into the 25-year deal the council is attempting to renegotiate with the contractor.

“At the time it looked a good deal – ten years later I would say never again,” said Keith Ferrin, the council’s cabinet member for environmental and waste services. “If I could get out of the long-term contract I have inherited I would do that.”

Under the agreement the private company was to incinerate 320,000 tonnes of waste annually, using a facility that has yet to be opened, but much of the rubbish is now too valuable to burn. Mr Ferrin said that recycling had changed so dramatically that plastic that the council formerly paid to have removed now has businesses clamouring to buy it. Mr Ferrin added that the most serious price increases have been in metals.

Copper is 15 times more valuable than it was six years ago. As a consequence, recycling is now regarded as a much better bet than incineration.

“Over the course of a year we could make just under £1 million profit.

Source - Thetimes

Giant Retailers Look to Sun for Energy Savings

Retailers are typically obsessed with what to put under their roofs, not on them. Yet the nation’s biggest store chains are coming to see their immense, flat roofs as an untapped resource.

In recent months, chains including Wal-Mart Stores, Kohl’s, Safeway and Whole Foods Market have installed solar panels on roofs of their stores to generate electricity on a large scale. One reason they are racing is to beat a Dec. 31 deadline to gain tax advantages for these projects.

So far, most chains have outfitted fewer than 10 percent of their stores. Over the long run, assuming Congress renews a favorable tax provision and more states offer incentives, the chains promise a solar construction program that would ultimately put panels atop almost every big store in the country.

The trend, while not entirely new, is accelerating as the chains seize a chance to bolster their environmental credentials by cutting back on their use of electricity from coal.
“It’s very clear that green energy is now front and center in the minds of the business sector,” said Daniel M. Kammen, an energy expert at the University of California, Berkeley.

“Not only will you see panels on the roofs of your local stores, but I suspect very soon retailers will have stickers in their windows saying, ‘This is a green energy store.’ ”
In the coming months, 85 Kohl’s stores will get solar panels; 43 already have them. “We want to keep pushing as many as we possibly can,” said Ken Bonning, executive vice president for logistics at Kohl’s.

Macy’s, which has solar panels atop 18 stores, plans to install them on another 40 by the end of this year. Safeway is aiming to put panels atop 23 stores. And other chains, including Whole Foods Market, BJ’s Wholesale Club and REI, the purveyor of outdoor goods, are planning projects of their own.

Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest retailer, has 17 stores and distribution centers with solar panels in operation or in the testing phase. It plans to add them soon to five more stores. People at the chain are considering a far larger program that would put panels and other renewable technologies at hundreds of stores.

“It’s going to be the Wal-Marts of the world that will buy these things over acres and make a difference,” said Roger G. Little, chairman and chief executive of the Spire Corporation, a Boston company that provides solar equipment.

Analysts are not sure how much power the rooftop projects could ultimately produce, but they say it could be enough to help shave total electricity demand. In many communities, stores are among the biggest energy users. Depending on location and weather, the solar panels generate 10 to 40 percent of the power a store needs.

If Wal-Mart eventually covered the roofs of all its Sam’s Club and Wal-Mart locations with solar panels, figures from the company show that the resulting solar acreage would roughly equal the size of Manhattan, an island of 23 square miles.

Booming demand in recent years has driven up the price of solar panels, and analysts say it costs far more to generate electricity from solar energy than from coal.

Coal generation costs about 6 cents for a kilowatt hour, which is enough electricity to run a hair dryer for an hour. Natural gas generation costs about 9 cents a kilowatt hour, said Reese Tisdale, a senior analyst with the consulting firm Emerging Energy Research. In comparison, “best case” for power from solar panels is about 25 to 30 cents a kilowatt hour, he said.

But retailers believe that they can achieve economies of scale. With coal and electricity prices rising, they are also betting that solar power will become more competitive, especially if new policies addressing global warming limit the emissions from coal plants.
Retailers, hoping to create a bigger market and positioning themselves at the forefront of a national shift toward renewable energy, are encouraging one another to join the bandwagon.

“We’re hoping that our purchases along with some other retailers will help bring the technology costs down,” said Kathy Loftus, who is in charge of energy and other initiatives at Whole Foods Market.

Most of the efforts so far are in California, New Jersey and Connecticut, states that offer generous incentives. Executives say they would like to convert many more. How quickly they can do so depends on government policy because retailers rely on tax incentives to offset the cost.

Corporate officials describe a federal tax credit for renewable energy, one that Congress has let expire and then renewed several times, as particularly important. A Congressional deadlock over offshore oil drilling has held up legislation that would renew the credit for next year.
“Every project that starts development has to be finished by Dec. 31 or you lose tax equity advantage, and nobody’s willing to take that risk,” said George Waidelich, vice president for energy operations at Safeway. “You’re talking about millions of dollars.”

Retailers are fast becoming energy experts. They are experimenting with traditional solar panels, a new type of thin solar panel and ground-mounted tracking systems that move with the sun.

They are also combining those systems with other rooftop technologies like skylights and solar water heaters.

“Solar has become part of the kit that we think about when we open a store,” said Sharon Im-Lee, REI’s energy manager.

American retailers are following the lead of stores in Europe, which are much further along. Store-roof projects are so numerous in parts of Germany that they can be spotted in satellite photos. Government subsidies there, however, have lasted for years.

“In Germany, there are none of the concerns you find in the United States about whether support will be around next year,” said Jenny Chase, an energy analyst in London.

Retailers in the United States tend to buy their own solar-power systems, at $4 million to $6 million for a store the size of a Wal-Mart, or enter into an agreement with a utility company that pays the up-front costs and then gives the store a break on power bills — an approach that appeals to big chains.

“It really helps make it economical for the retailer,” said Kim Saylors-Laster, Wal-Mart’s vice president for energy.

Retailers are also looking at other ways to extend their use of renewable energy by testing technologies like wind turbines and reflective white roofs, which keep buildings cooler in warm weather.

Bernard Sosnick, an analyst with Gilford Securities who has examined Wal-Mart’s plans, said the day might come when people can pull their electric cars up to a store and recharge them with power from the roof or even from wind turbines in the parking lot.
“It’s not as over the horizon as it might seem,” he said.

Source - Newyork Times

Friday, 8 August 2008

Shea Homes Offers Free Solar Power To Victoria Gardens Homebuyers

Victoria Gardens by Shea Homes will offer free solar power systems to its homebuyers through August 31. Shea Homes is the first builder to roll out a national solar offering and has chosen to work with BP Solar, a global leader in solar energy.

The initiative is part of the builder's ongoing commitment to reducing the carbon footprint of homes in all of its Shea Homes Active Lifestyle Communities across four states.

The BP Solar Home Solutions systems are estimated to reduce the homes' electric bills by up to 60 percent per home. This is in addition to the approximately 30 percent energy usage reduction Victoria Gardens by Shea Homes residences already achieve with the Shea Green Certified standards for home building.

Each home will be equipped with a 3-kilowatt solar power system, which helps provide security against electric rate increases, allowing consumers to hedge their future risks in the volatile energy markets.

"By providing our buyers with free solar energy systems, we're taking efficient energy use a step further by actually creating energy," said Jeff Gersh, Area Vice President of Victoria Gardens, which features Shea Homes residences. "This provides both short-term and long-term benefits for our customers in the form of significant cost savings, and it also makes a positive impact on the environment."

"With the addition of solar in a home, we're no longer just efficient users of electricity, we become producers. Integrating a solar system into a home during construction makes it more accessible and affordable than it's ever been. Victoria Gardens' homes pass the true test of a 'green' home by integrating a mix of energy-saving and energy-generating devices that deliver immediate and long-term benefits for our customer."

Solar systems will be free through August 31 to new homebuyers in Shea Active Lifestyle Communities in Arizona, California, Washington and Florida, including Deland's Victoria Gardens. After August 31, the systems will be available as an upgrade option. Homeowners will be able to track how much power their system is producing, along with its environmental benefits, via a Web-based remote monitoring system.

"Creative business partnerships are helping to transform the American residential marketplace with homes that combine energy efficiency with solar power," said DOE Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Alexander A. Karsner.

"These homes will help transform the built environment into healthier, more prosperous and sustainable communities that reduce our carbon footprint, enhance our energy security and contribute to the fabric of a cleaner, more efficient America."

To maintain a consistent and visually appealing look for its high-end resort communities, Shea Homes chose BP Solar's Integra systems. The Integra system offers a low-profile installation, enhancing the look on asphalt shingle roofs.

"We're proud to be Shea Active Lifestyle Communities' exclusive solar provider as they become the first national residential builder to introduce solar across all of their communities," said Mary Shields, global vice president of marketing for BP Solar.

"We are pleased to see that home builders around the country increasingly see the value that solar brings to their homes as well as to their homebuyers."

SunWorks Solar Systems, Inc. will install The BP Solar Home Solutions systems in the Victoria Gardens homes. SunWorks professionals have years of experience in installing roofing and solar fields and are trained by BP Solar on the proper system design and installation processes.

Shea Green Certified homes are built with a combination of the most important and cost-effective standards for green residential building set by LEED, National Association of Home Builders, and Environments for Living.

In addition to solar power systems, standard features in Victoria Gardens green homes include solar attic fans, blown-in insulation from recycled cellulose, wood from sustainable forests, framing techniques that use up to 10 percent less wood and save 5.5 trees per home, leak minimizing construction via sealed ducts and penetrations, satellite/weather-controlled irrigation systems, Energy Star-rated efficient appliances, dual pane low-e windows and motion and occupancy sensor lighting.

Source - Solardaily

Why domestic solar panels not domestic windmills

Rooftop wind turbines are actually net carbon emitters for most British properties, according to new research. Worse still, it appears that even if small turbines became common they could produce only a tiny fraction of the UK’s energy requirements.

The new report is titled Small-scale wind energy and is issued by the Carbon Trust, a quango dedicated to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The research was carried out with the assistance of the Met Office and consulting engineers Arup.

According to the report’s authors, the most commonly used UK windspeed database is highly optimistic in the case of urban areas. They suggest that one should be wary of believing any figures offered by the wind-turbine industry.

NOABL [Numerical Objective Analysis of Boundary Layer] is a public domain reference dataset used widely in the UK wind industry … analysis by the Met Office suggests that NOABL tends to … over-predict the amount of power it is possible to generate with small turbines in built-up areas.

The [free from the government biz department] Wind Speed Database (created using the NOABL model) does not reflect the effects of urban areas (the wind speed values are representative of open, level terrain.

There are a variety of sources of wind speed and direction data available. All of these data types have limitations, either in terms of their temporal or spatial extent, or in terms of their representativity of urban areas. There are a number of proprietary systems used by the wind energy industry. Tools such as WindFarmer, WindFarm and WindPRO do not include any functionality designed specifically for siting turbines in urban areas.

The researchers go on to model the expected yields of small wind turbines using a more realistic Met Office database which you have to pay for, rather than the free one, and they allow for the serious reductions in windspeed to be found close above urban rooftops. The results make depressing reading for microgeneration fanciers.

Because small turbines are mounted at relatively low heights, their mean hub height wind speeds may be close to their cut-in speeds. The implications are that, for long periods of time, a small turbine may not operate at all, or if it does operate (and visibly spin), it may not generate much electricity.

Practically speaking, small wind turbines require locations which are open, exposed and experience high wind speeds, which generally tend to be found in rural areas. Because the output to be expected from urban turbines is so low, the cost of the resulting energy is very high. According to the Carbon Trust analysts, electricity prices would need to be double their present levels before any urban turbine could earn its keep. Even if electricity soared to eight times its current price, economically viable urban turbine sites would still be a rarity.

Practically no urban sites have costs of energy below 25p/kWh. At 100p/kWh, the energy that could be generated at rural sites is about nine times that of urban sites; i.e. the split is 90 per cent rural to 10 per cent urban.

Source - Theregister

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Global warming clock is ticking

The UK is in denial about its real carbon emissions, suggests a report from the Stockholm Environment Institute. The academics conclude that if “outsourced” emissions produced in countries like China on goods which are imported into the UK are included in our total carbon footprint, this country’s total greenhouse gas emissions are 49% higher than currently reported. So we should think twice when blaming the Chinese for emitting the CO2 that is required in the manufacture of our fridges and televisions.

The report illustrates once again – as if we had forgotten – that global warming is an, er, global issue. A tonne of CO2 is a tonne of CO2, wherever it is emitted. How you do the counting is more a matter of politics than mathematics. A much greater concern is that all the politics is in danger of obscuring the increasingly drastic nature of the climate change threat. According to Andrew Simms of the New Economics Foundation, the world has only got 100 months left if we are to have a reasonably high chance of staving off runaway global warming.

This is a pretty dramatic claim, and the associated website has an equally dramatic ticking clock counting down until runaway warming begins. “When the clock stops ticking,” it states ominously, “we’ll be beyond the climate’s tipping point, the point of no return.” Yikes. So how valid is this claim? Luckily, NEF’s website provides a 100 Months technical note (pdf)explaining the calculations behind the new campaign. The first thing I noticed is that there isn’t any new modelling work underlying the claim: it is based on existing science, in particular on an analysis by a researcher called Malte Meinshausen which was published in 2006.

Meinshausen was the first scientist to quantify with percentage figures the probability of exceeding certain climatic thresholds: in his 2006 paper he concluded that only by stabilising greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at 400 part per million (ppm) would it be “likely” (defined as 66-90% chance) that the world would stay below an eventual warming of two degrees. The NEF analysis has performed a fairly simple calculation, simply counting the time left before this 400ppm level is reached. The deadline, it turns out, is 1 December 2016.

There are several complicating factors, however. The 400ppm figure in question is not for CO2 only, but for a basket of atmosphere-altering gases – some of which have a positive “forcing” effect (like CO2 itself) whereas others have a negative (cooling) effect, like sulphate aerosols released by industry. Add the sum of these forcings together and you can arrive at a “CO2-equivalence” figure, which is the one that both NEF and Meinshausen use. The timescales need to be borne in mind, however: CO2 resides in the atmosphere for a century on average, whereas aerosols are washed out by rain in just a week or so.

There are other caveats too. Meinshausen is not saying that two degrees of warming will be reached with certainty when we cross the 400ppm threshold, but that the risk of seeing two degrees increases steadily thereafter. (Even at 400ppm there is still a risk of overshooting 2C, of somewhere between 2% and 57%.) At 450ppm the risk of crossing the 2C line rises to between 26 and 78%, whereas at 550ppm the risk of overshooting is between 68 and 99%. Indeed, for 550ppm the risk of overshooting even 3C ranges from 21% to 69%.

So what do all these numbers mean? Reading the small print, sceptics might complain about the false precision implied by the 100 months clock, which seems to suggest that the minute, indeed the second, we pass 400ppm we are certain to see two degrees of warming. The truth is that no one knows where any of the relevant climatic tipping points – from the disappearance of the Arctic ice cap to the release of methane from melting permafrost – actually lie. There are uncertainties regarding both what level of carbon emissions equals what temperature rise, and what temperature rise equals which climatic impacts. All we can say with near-certainty is that the warmer it gets, the further into dangerous territory we stray.

And again, there is the question of timescales. Meinshausen’s two degrees calculations referred to two degrees of warming, not the minute the 400ppm line is crossed in December 2016, but when the atmosphere reaches “equilibrium” – in other words when all the warming processes have had a chance to feed through the system. Like a boiling kettle, the planet has a substantial thermal timelag – it takes a long time for ice sheets to rebalance themselves and for warmer waters to penetrate to the bottom of the deepest oceans. So even at this “tipping point” we still wouldn’t see the expected two degrees of warming until the end of the century at least, if today’s climate models are to be believed.

Reassuring, perhaps – but no cause for complacency. The earth’s thermal timelag also means that today’s emissions will keep on causing warming for decades to come, and that decisions made today on emissions cuts are essential if we are to rebalance the climate in the second half of the century.

The great danger of climate change is that it is a long-term systemic process. Self-evidently urgent threats – like wars or economic collapse – are easy to put at the top of our list of priorities. But climate change is a very slow process (note the current sceptic line of decrying the lack of year-on-year warming as hoped-for proof that it’s all been a big mistake), and one where cause and effect (CO2=climate disasters) are not at all obvious at any intuitive level, hence the continuing predominance of wishful thinking, conspiracy-theorising and outright denial. Climate change clearly does not engage our natural psychological self-defence mechanisms.

This is the value of the 100 months campaign, which injects a sense of urgency into what is in reality a very slow process of cooking ourselves. We need to frame this issue as an urgent one to generate anything like an appropriate response, and indeed NEF explicitly uses the wartime analogy. But the drawback is also clear: in January 2017, after the deadline passes, people might either become fatalistic (”we’ve passed the tipping point, so let’s give up”) or might turn increasingly sceptical (”things don’t look any different – I thought you said the world was going to end?”). In reality, this is a matter of risk analysis: how much risk of destroying our planetary habitat are we prepared to bear in order to keep on burning fossil fuels? Quite a lot, it would seem.

Source - The Guardian

Sunday, 3 August 2008

City Tour For Solar Will Educate Leaders And Communities

A solar tour will bring interactive educational exhibits to 50 cities in Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Minnesota and Colorado beginning Friday, August 1.

The tour will span 100 days and educate municipal leaders, community members, public schools, universities and utilities on how to make solar energy a meaningful power resource for their cities. The exhibits, powered by solar energy, will be transported by colorful biodiesel-fueled trucks.

SunEdison, North America's largest solar energy services provider, is the lead sponsor of the tour with four leading solar industry companies: Evergreen Solar, Inc., a manufacturer of solar power panels; United Solar Ovonic, LLC, a manufacturer of thin-film solar laminates; SMA America, Inc., a manufacturer of solar inverters; and Xantrex Technology, Inc., a manufacturer of advanced power electronic products, including solar inverters.

With rising and volatile energy costs and increasing environmental concerns, community leaders, citizens and energy companies are searching for more information about solar and renewable energy.

The City Tour for Solar will educate city leaders and managers on how to turn a public demand for renewable energy into reality with clean, predictably priced solar electrical power. The tour will include practical information on how to plan, implement and verify the value of municipal and utility solar programs.

"The reality is that solar is complex," said Thomas (Tom) Rainwater, CEO of SunEdison.

"There are key concepts like 'interconnection standards,' 'net-metering' and others that national, state and local officials need to understand in order to make the right decisions about solar for their communities. We are simply bringing the knowledge to them as an industry, so cities can deploy cost-effective solar energy when and where it makes sense to them. We commend our industry partners Evergreen Solar, United Solar Ovonic, SMA America and Xantrex for making this city tour a reality."

Solar energy provides new 'green' jobs, addressing climate change issues and ensuring a secure, local independent power supply. Seven jobs are created for every megawatt (MW) of solar energy installed.

Source - Solardaily