Monday, 26 January 2009

Barack Obama 'to reverse Bush policies on climate change'

President poised to let states issue tougher rules on emissions and order car makers to boost fuel efficiency.

President Barack Obama is expected to issue new environmental regulations today, reversing the Bush administration's climate change policies by allowing several states to set tougher car emission and fuel efficiency standards.

Granting California and 13 other states the right to regulate emissions is a sharp departure from President George W Bush's line on the environment and has been opposed by car makers.

According to The New York Times, Mr Obama will order the US Environmental Protection Agency to begin work immediately on granting the so-called California waiver, which allows the state - long in the vanguard on environmental matters - to set its own standards for car emissions.

In his White House announcement, Mr Obama is also expected to direct federal agencies to make all government buildings more energy efficient. The new administration hopes to achieve energy savings of up to $2 billion (£1.5 billion) per year, as well as a reduction in emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases blamed for global warming.

The presidential orders will require vehicle manufacturers to speed efforts to make and sell cars and trucks that get higher mileage than the national standard, congressional officials said.

"If we don't put a price on carbon," said Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer of California, the chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, "we'll never get these clean energy sources online."

Mr Obama also will direct the Department of Transportation to begin drafting automobile fuel-economy regulations to comply with a law enacted in December 2007. President Bush delayed implementing the law and left office saying there was not sufficient time to write the rules.

Source - Thetimes

SunRun Helps Homeowners Go Solar With New, Flexible Plans

SunRun has announced two new flexible payment options that will make residential solar more accessible to homeowners. SunRun offers a simple and affordable alternative to purchasing or renting a home solar system.

All SunRun customers receive comprehensive maintenance, repairs and insurance through its Full System Management offerings, which remove the complexity and risk of going solar.

With the introduction of the SunRun Power Plan and SunRun Total Solar, SunRun gives its customers additional flexibility on how they can pay for their solar service with the new SunRun Power Plan opening up SunRun's trusted solar service to more homeowners through a low upfront payment option.

Both SunRun Power Plan and SunRun Total Solar offer immediate savings on monthly electricity bills.

SunRun Power Plan: This plan offers customers who may have ruled out home solar due to high upfront costs new access: homeowners can pay as little as $2,000 upfront for solar service, with financing options available. Following the initial payment, the homeowner enjoys a fixed, low rate for his/her solar electricity.

SunRun Total Solar: This plan allows customers to pay for their solar electricity entirely upfront. Homeowners often choose this option over purchasing a system because they don't want to deal with the hassles of ownership and maintenance. SunRun Total Solar also allows customers to get the value of the Federal Incentive Tax Credit (ITC) immediately, rather than waiting up to twelve months or more to receive it.

"When my wife and I first looked into going solar, the original bid we received was far too much for what we were looking to spend at the time," said Chris Jordan, Camarillo resident and SunRun customer.

"When we were approached by a SunRun sales representative shortly thereafter, he showed us an affordable new service option that we couldn't refuse. Before we got our SunRun Power Plan we paid an average of $300 a month for electricity from SCE.

"Last month our SunRun bill was $74.98 and our SCE electricity bill was $1.10. The savings speak for themselves, and we never have to worry about our solar panels because SunRun takes care of everything."

"Our new flexible payment options are in line with SunRun's longstanding approach to providing homeowners long-term, affordable and hassle-free solar," said Nat Kreamer, president and co-founder of SunRun.

"Going solar is part of a thoughtful and considerate process, and we have found that SunRun's customers are responsible homeowners who want to reduce electricity costs without making any significant lifestyle changes.

"We're making home solar accessible to everyone who wants to reduce their energy costs and make a smart and reliable investment, regardless of how much they can pay upfront."

Source - Solardaily

BWEA backs the Tories green plan

Recognising need for energy revolution

The British Wind Energy Association has welcomed the UK Tory party’s proposals outline by David Cameron for a low carbon economy as a serious contribution to the debate on Britain’s future strategic energy policy.

BWEA chairman, Adam Bruce, says: “These proposals recognise that a massive expansion of wind, wave and tidal power is vital to decarbonising the UK economy.

“The Conservative plans recognise that moving to a green economy will create jobs, secure our energy supplies and tackle climate change. Britain needs a green energy revolution that delivers security of supply and better management of demand. Today’s announcement is a positive step towards what will be a transformational event in UK energy policy.”

BWEA believes wind, wave and tidal energy will play a vital role in decarbonising the economy. To reach the 2020 target of generating 15% of all the UK’s energy from renewables, between 35 to 40% of our electricity will have to come from renewables, which in turn means having 33 to 35GW of installed wind capacity.

To go further and fully decarbonise the economy will require even greater amounts of renewable production – including harnessing Britain’s huge wave and tidal power resource, as well as radical reform of our grid infrastructure.

BWEA welcomes the Conservative proposals – especially the calls for:

* A ‘smart grid’ with ‘smart meter’ technology for households & businesses.

* Support for a vast expansion of offshore wind with new incentives to build the necessary sub-sea grid network.

* Fast track planning for a number of offshore parks for wave and tidal energy.

Source - BWEA

IPPC challenges Obama to further cut CO2 targets

The head of the world’s pre-eminent organisation of climate scientists said yesterday that US President Barack Obama’s stated emissions targets need to be strengthened to deal with the climate threat.

Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, says, “President Obama’s goal for reducing emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 falls short of the response needed by world leaders to meet the challenge of reducing emissions to levels that will actually spare us the worst effects of climate change.”

These comments were made at an event held by the Worldwatch Institute yesterday afternoon in Washington to discuss its recently-released report, State of the World 2009: Into a Warming World, which finds the world will have to reduce carbon dioxide emissions more drastically than has been widely predicted, even going into negative emissions by 2050 to avoid catastrophic disruption to the world’s climate.

“The world is desperately looking for US leadership to slow emissions and create a green economy,” said Christopher Flavin, President of the Worldwatch Institute. “With the Copenhagen climate conference rapidly approaching, this will be a crucial early test for President Obama.”

Source - Worldwatch

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Economic downturn must not hamper green energy plans

Former prime minister Tony Blair has urged his successor Gordon Brown and other political leaders not to allow the global financial crisis to halt the fight against climate change.

The former prime minister called for a new global deal that would set tough interim targets up to 2020 in a bid to “transform” countries to low-carbon economies.

Speaking at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, Blair said: “It is right now, at the instant when our thoughts are centred on the economic challenge, that we must not set to one side the challenge of global warming, but instead resolve to meet it and put the world on path to a sustainable future.”

Blair outlined a range of steps that were required through a “global compact” to meet the environmental challenge.

“It needs not just a 2050 target but an interim target to get there …a target for 2020 that shows seriousness of intent and gives business a clear, unequivocal signal to invest in a low-carbon future with green energy technologies such as solar panels.”

The interim goals would largely be aimed at the West but he believed it would have to be matched by obligations in the developing world. He suggested that strategic partnerships between China and America, India and America and Europe and America would be important, with all three being of “paramount importance”.

Blair said there was a need for a step change, not small steps to meet the scale of the challenge, but he also said it was necessary to be practical about what could be done.

“There is no point in demanding of President Obama something he cannot deliver. Instead let us help him deliver what he can.”

Blair said global warming required enormous changes in the way the world did its business but that global cooperation brought wider benefits.

He praised Abu Dhabi for its decision earlier this week to set a 7% renewable energy target for 2020. That showed other oil-rich nations in the region what could be done and was an example of the kind of move away from pure self-interest that the world needed, argued Blair.

He set out the importance of a green new deal to revitalise economies, arguing it was vital to “invest now in these times of a low-carbon price for the times when that price rises again”.

Blair, who took no fee for his speech, gave an upbeat assessment of his own 10 years in office as UK prime minister, saying greenhouse gases had fallen while economy had continued to grow. “There are now more jobs in the new environmental industries than in coal, steel and shipping combined,” he argued.

He also encouraged the development of nuclear power as a way of lowering carbon emissions, although he acknowledged that it was “controversial”.

Observers would contest Blair’s assessment of his green record, pointing out that much of the carbon dioxide reductions resulted from the demise of the UK coal industry, for economic reasons.

Source - Theguardian

7% of power will come from solar panels sources by 2020

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi, has decreed that 7% of power will come from solar panels sources by 2020.

The Middle East nation holds around 8% of the world’s oil reserves and derives the vast bulk of its national income from fossil fuels, but while other OPEC oil cartel members see renewables as a threat, it has taken a different view.

Sultan Al Jaber, chief executive of the state-owned future energy company Masdar, which will oversee the green drive, said at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi that it was natural tomove into this new sector. By doing so Masdar would “provide a comprehensive solution to the world’s energy challenges and maintain Abu Dhabi’s position as a leading supplier of energy to the world.” The Gulf state, a part of the United Arab Emirates, also wants to differentiate itself from neighbour Dubai, and diversify its economy, believing a “green” infrastructure will help its image as a new tourist destination.

Abu Dhabi has already put itself forward as a possible location for the headquarters of a planned International Renewable Energy Agency being promoted by Germany. “Many [Opec members] see renewables as a threat but the crown prince sees them as an opportunity,” said a source close to the Abu Dhabi state. “He knows that the oil will eventually run out and he wants to ensure there is something left for future generations,” he added.

Prince Charles, who has close links to the Gulf royals, has been actively encouraging the green initiative behind the scenes, the source added, explaining that the Masdar executives had been invited to Buckingham Palace last year.

Prince Charles is already a patron of the Masdar City project which aims to build the world’s first carbon-neutral city in Abu Dhabi. He made an appearance by holographic video link at the first World Future Energy Summit held in the Gulf state last year. Prince Andrew has also become involved and was present at the meeting in the throne room at Buckingham Palace.

Masdar expects to mainly use solar energy to reach its 7% targets but is also looking at wind and even geothermal power, where heat from the ground is used as a power source. Masdar has already built links to Britain by investing with E.ON of Germany and DONG of Denmark in the London Array wind farm project of the coast of Kent which is tipped to be the biggest of its kind in the world.

The Abu Dhabi state stepped in when Shell pulled out of the £1bn project. The Anglo-Dutch oil group said it was concentrating its wind investment in the US, a move followed by BP. Masdar has $15bn worth of state-funding and has already started to build up its solar power business through a joint venture with Germany, a leader in the photovoltaics field. A new company, Masdar PV, will build manufacturing plants in both Germany and Abu Dhabi that will serve the growing demand for solar panels, which is beginning to compete on a cost basis with traditional energy sources, even without subsidies.

Dutch solar firm Econcern claimed today at the summit that prices of solar panels would half in the next five to six years. It claimed the global industry had already met the International Energy Agency’s target of 10GW of installed solar power by 2020.

Source - TheGuardian

Monday, 19 January 2009

SunEdison Wins Rights To Hundreds Of Shopping Centers

SunEdison has announced the largest solar distributed generation program with Developers Diversified Realty, a Cleveland-based real estate investment trust (REIT) actively engaged in the development and management of shopping centers.

SunEdison has the rights to deploy solar energy systems at more than 200 shopping centers, covering up to an estimated 30 million square feet, located in 24 states and in Puerto Rico. Potential capacity of the program is up to 259 MW.

Once a system is operational, Developers Diversified will be able to purchase energy for common area uses. In addition, shopping center tenants can benefit and realize energy savings by opting to purchase the power generated through the program at rates lower than retail energy rates.

"Developers Diversified is a forward-thinking real estate company-bringing clean solar energy to its properties for the benefit of its tenants and the environment through the largest distributed generation program of its kind.

"It's a way for Developers Diversified and its tenants to reduce operating costs. Furthermore, a typical-sized solar energy system in the program will avoid an estimated 10 million pounds of carbon dioxide pollution," said Brian Jacolick, General Manager, Americas for SunEdison.

Developers Diversified Realty currently owns and manages approximately 720 retail operating and development properties in 45 states, plus Puerto Rico, Brazil, Russia and Canada, totaling approximately 159 million square feet.

Developers Diversified is a self-administered and self-managed REIT operating as a fully integrated real estate company that acquires, develops, leases and manages shopping centers. Additional information about the company is available at

Source - solardaily

Sunrise Solar To Provide Solar To Brazilian Hospitals

Sunrise Solar has announced that it has been selected to provide solar power resources to four major hospitals in Brazil.

The project is part of a multi-million dollar alternative energy development initiative. Brazil is a leading alternative energy producer with a strong focus on energy self-sufficiency. By encouraging industries to incorporate solar power in their energy strategy, Brazil continues to develop nationwide energy independence.

"We look forward to increasing our project base in Brazil through the development of solar resources for these important facilities," noted Eddie Austin, Chairman and CEO of Sunrise Solar Corp. "Energy independence is a world priority that we are proud to be a part of."

"These hospitals expect to significantly reduce their dependence on traditional electric power by generating solar power at their facilities," concluded Austin.

SSLR continues to seek major international projects to expand its footprint beyond the United States where it competes with much larger players such as First Solar, Inc., GT Solar Int. and Suntech Power Holdings.

Source - Solardaily

Monday, 12 January 2009

Gas and electricity bills are rising four times faster in the UK

Britains energy prices have increased by 16.7 per cent over the past year.

The increase compares to the European average of 3.8 per cent, with 1.5 per cent in Germany, 1.3 in Denmark and 5.3 in Sweden. Continental energy companies have been accused of “picking the pocket” of British consumers as four of the six biggest gas and electricity firms in Britain are European-owned.

Among developed nations, only Australia (20 per cent) and Turkey (28.7 per cent) had faster price rises, the OECD figures showed. The figures were released after the Conservatives called for energy companies to be investigated for refusing to pass on price cuts to consumers.

The wholesale cost of energy has dropped sharply since the summer, but suppliers have failed to reduce what they charge customers, leading to accusations of profiteering.

British households saw their energy bills rise by £381 to £1,293 on average last year, according to price comparison website

It brings further misery to UK households which have seen their budgets squeezed by higher petrol and food costs compared to a year ago.

Will Marples, energy expert at, said: “On top of this, consumers are dealing with the ongoing economic crisis while waiting for news of whether energy price cuts are going to be delivered this year or not. Whereas previously they may not have worried about how UK energy bills compared with those in Europe, or factors affecting prices, these issues are now firmly on the agenda as British consumers want to know that they are getting a fair deal.”

Energy experts suggest that British consumers suffer more than their European neighbours because of the country’s reliance on the gas market, and its lack of storage.

Britain has just 13 days’ gas storage, compared with 99 in Germany and 122 in France, making it less easy to stockpile gas when it is cheap.

Experts also warned that average prices could rise as a result of Russia cutting its gas supplies in a dispute with Ukraine.

Among the most vulnerable to price increases are pensioners, according to charities.

Paul Bates, a spokesman for Help the Aged suggested that more than 20,000 people die from preventable illnesses as a result of the cold.

He said: “Too many pensioners are facing the stark choice between heating and eating, putting their health at risk

“No older person should ever have to worry about whether they can afford to heat their homes properly in the winter.”

The Energy Retails Association said British customers have enjoyed historically low prices compared to Europe due to our reserves of natural gas in the North Sea.

She said: “The prices we now pay for our energy are more vulnerable to fluctuations.”

Source - The Telegraph

Perpetual Energy Systems Activates Largest Solar Energy Installation At US Winery

Perpetual Energy Systems (PES), comprehensive financier and developer of solar powered renewable energy systems, and Foster's Wine Estates Americas (Foster's), a subsidiary of Foster's Group in Australia, today announces the activation of four solar installations including the largest solar energy system hosted by a United States winery.

Beringer Vineyards hosts a 1,341,200 W DC solar energy system, the largest operational solar installation at a winery in the country. Additionally, Beringer's sister winery at Asti, home to brands Souverain and Cellar No. 8, hosts the third largest system of its kind, producing 1,152,144 W DC. All four active rooftop installations, including Etude and Stags' Leap Winery, will generate 3.85 million Kilowatt hours (KWh AC) of energy annually.

PES combined conventional financing, construction and permanent debt and equity, with the federal energy tax credits program to fund the entire installation without capital investment from Foster's. As the financier, PES retains ownership of the solar panels as well as the renewable energy certificates and carbon credits determined by the system's actual kilowatt hour output.

"Partnering with Foster's to host the largest solar energy project at a U.S. winery is an honor for us," says Laurance Friedman, co-chair of Perpetual Energy Systems. "The importance of renewable energy is gaining momentum in the corporate arena. Through this collaboration, Foster's gains a reduction in energy costs and elevates its role as a responsible corporate citizen."

Foster's will host the system for a 25-year term and will have access to renewable energy at a reduced rate for each of the sites for the duration of the relationship.

"This is a smart way for us to do the right thing for the environment," commented Scott Weiss, Managing Director of Foster's Americas. "By hosting the solar energy systems at our wineries, we're helping to leverage the beautiful climate that grows world-class wine grapes to also generate clean energy. This is a great example of Sustainability at work - it's good for the environment, our community, and our business."

The combined system occupies 400,000 square feet of total rooftop structures and will eliminate 2.0 million pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per year from the environment equating to:

+ The removal of 183 passenger cars from the roads each year (per

+ More than 150,000 trees needed to eliminate this amount of CO2 from the environment per year (

In conjunction with Perpetual Energy Systems, The Bright Group, Inc. and Stellar Energy Solutions served as co-developers for planning and construction of the project. The Bright Group, which specializes in integrated solar energy generation and innovative roof applications, founded Foster's Wine Estates solar initiative in March of 2007. The company conducted pre-development engineering, system design including building allocation and roofing specifications.

Source - Solardaily

Carmanah Solar-powered Roadway Flasher Features ENCOM Wireless Control Technology

Carmanah Technologies Corporation has introduced a wireless solar-powered flashing beacon suitable for a range of ITS (intelligent traffic systems) roadway applications. The R838 wireless ITS solar flasher incorporates all components - including solar modules, LEDs (light emitting diodes), and wireless activation technology - within a compact and durable stand-alone device.

Thanks to a partnership between Carmanah and ENCOM Wireless Data Solutions Inc., the R838 wireless ITS solar flasher is equipped with industry-proven ENCOM communications technology for versatile, on-demand remote activation. Using the ENCOM handheld controller, multiple beacons can be activated from up to 500 feet away with the push of a button.

As a wireless, stand-alone warning flasher, the R838 offers a versatile and cost-effective way for emergency services and traffic agencies to provide advance warning of road conditions ahead, such as road construction (beyond highway on or off-ramps), emergency-vehicle crossings along fire station routes, approaches to weigh scales and more.

Operating independently of the electric grid, the Carmanah R838 wireless ITS solar flasher provides a reliable signal alternative suitable for remote locations, or anywhere grid access is not readily available. With no need for trenching, cabling or wiring, this stand-alone device installs quickly and easily onto new or existing signposts for fast, economical installations and minimal disruption to traffic.

Optionally, each R838 unit can be programmed to specify how long to flash before shutting off automatically. Two-way communications provide visual LED confirmation that one or more signals (up to eight) are currently active at the remote site.

Industry proven to operate reliably in some of the world's harshest climates, Carmanah's solar flashing beacon paired with ENCOM wireless control technology offers an unbeatable alternative for intelligent transportation systems. The wireless R838 wireless ITS solar flasher is available now from Carmanah.

Souce - Solardaily

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Enhancing Solar Cells With Nanoparticles

Deriving plentiful electricity from sunlight at a modest cost is a challenge with immense implications for energy, technology, and climate policy. A paper in a special energy issue of Optics Express, the Optical Society's (OSA) open-access journal, describes a relatively new approach to solar cells: lacing them with nanoscopic metal particles.

As the authors describe in the article, this approach has the potential to greatly improve the ability of solar cells to harvest light efficiently.

Like plants, solar cells turn light into energy. Plants do this inside vegetable matter, while solar cells do it in a semiconductor crystal doped with extra atoms.

Current solar cells cannot convert all the incoming light into usable energy because some of the light can escape back out of the cell into the air. Additionally, sunlight comes in a variety of colors and the cell might be more efficient at converting bluish light while being less efficient at converting reddish light.

The nanoparticle approach seeks to remedy these problems. The key to this new research is the creation of a tiny electrical disturbance called a "surface plasmon." When light strikes a piece of metal it can set up waves in the surface of the metal.

These waves of electrons then move about like ripples on the surface of a pond. If the metal is in the form of a tiny particle, the incoming light can make the particle vibrate, thus effectively scattering the light. If, furthermore, the light is at certain "resonant" colors, the scattering process is particularly strong.

In the Optics Express paper, Kylie Catchpole and Albert Polman show what happens when a thin coating of nanoscopic (a billionth of a meter in size) metal particles are placed onto a solar cell. First of all, the use of nanoparticles causes the incoming sunlight to scatter more fully, keeping more of the light inside the solar cell.

Second, varying the size and material of the particles allows researchers to improve light capture at otherwise poorly-performing colors.

In their work, carried out at the FOM Institute for Atomic and Molecular Physics in The Netherlands, Catchpole and Polman showed that light capture for long-wavelength (reddish) light could be improved by a factor of more than ten.

Previously Catchpole and co-workers at the University of New South Wales showed that overall light-gathering efficiency for solar cells using metallic nanoparticles can be improved by 30 percent.

"I think we are about three years from seeing plasmons in photovoltaic generation," says Catchpole, who has now started a new group studying surface plasmons at the Australian National University. "An important point about plasmonic solar cells is that they are applicable to any kind of solar cell." This includes the standard silicon or newer thin-film types.

Souce - Solardaily

The future is still bright for solar panels

Low oil prices and the credit crunch are threatening to stall the green revolution. The value of crude has dropped from a summer high of nearly $150 a barrel to below $40, taking the wind out of the sails of turbine manufacturers and others ­trying to build low-carbon alternatives.

Jeremy Leggett, founder and executive chairman of Solarcentury, says: “Talk of the death of renewables is premature but clearly big solar farms and wind projects are being cancelled. Everything is suf­fering in the current climate but its my contention that the low oil price is a temporary thing and the growth of renew­ables will resume.”

Michael Liebreich, chief executive of information provider New Energy Finance, says his leading index of clean-technology companies has fallen from a high of 450 points 12 months ago to 175 points, hit by a triple whammy of lower oil prices, higher costs of capital and fear of more speculative start-up businesses.

But he too is confident that the sector can bounce back. “There was no doubt that there was a certain amount of irrational exuberance over the low-carbon economy. No industry in history has kept up the kind of 40% compound growth rates being ascribed to clean tech so share prices had run up too far and it was time for a correction.”

Clean-tech and renewables stocks have been struggling with more than just sentiment. Indian-based wind turbine manufacturer Suzlon Energy, which has seen its share price plunge by 90% this year, has also been hit by malfunctions and the kind of teething problems it says is are inevit­able with new types of technology.

Wind developers in the US have been cutting back in the face of tough new conditions. FPL Group, the US’s largest wind-power operator, is cutting its ­spending this year by nearly a quarter to $5.3bn (£3.7bn) and new wind-power generation from 1,500 to 1,100 megawatts.

Confidence in the sector has also been rattled by T Boone Pickens, a veteran oil man who delighted environmentalists with a very public conversion when he promised to build the world’s largest wind farm in Texas. He slammed on the brakes in November on the basis that lower oil prices had changed the economics of a scheme that would have powered 1.3m homes.

However the US wind sector has generally been faring better than the British one, thanks to tax breaks. Shell and BP have made it clear they are no longer interested in pursuing UK farms when the investment numbers stack up much better across the Atlantic.

The decision by Shell to pull out of the London Array wind farm was a particular blow to British confidence. The project has been billed as the biggest offshore scheme of its kind in the world but the oil company said the margins were too thin, leaving E.ON of Germany and Dong Energy of Denmark to go it alone.

Anton Milner, the chief executive of Q-Cells, the world’s largest manufacturer of solar cells, cut earnings forecasts recently after being hit by what he described as a “flood” of cancellations from developers of solar-power projects struggling to raise finance. The US manufacturer Evergreen Solar has since delayed an $800m new factory in Asia that would have manufactured enough solar cells to power a city of 500,000 people.

But most industry figures are convinced that though the threat of global recession is slowing down the industry, the future remains bright enough, especially with a new figure taking over the White House. Liebreich says his clean-tech index has seen an “Obama bounce”, rising from a low of 130 to 175 on the back of optimism about the incoming president’s policies.

A raft of radical political appointments – such as Nobel physics laureate Steven Chu as energy secretary – has convinced environmentalists that Barack Obama is serious about his stated aim of hastening progress towards a low-carbon economy with a green New Deal that will reduce his country’s dependence on imported oil.

A quarterly review of climate change-related business opportunities just published by analysts at HSBC says governments are increasingly active. “The engagement of governments has grown globally,” they say. “Across the political spectrum there is now more recognition that climate change is a genuine long-term global issue with real growth potential.”

Martin Wright, managing director of Marine Current Turbines, says no one should expect oil and gas prices to stay low. “Vladimir Putin has already said the era of cheap gas is over and no one knows when peak oil really will come about. So we can expect enormous price volatility, which all points to the need for Britain to develop an independent low-carbon alternative.”

Source - The Guardian

Monday, 5 January 2009


Boylston, MA, January 5, 2009 – Owl Power Company, developer and manufacturer of clean energy cogeneration systems, has announced Vegawatt™, an innovative new cogeneration system for restaurants and food service facilities. Vegawatt™ uses waste vegetable oil from any food service operation as a fuel to generate on-site electricity and hot water, saving the restaurant thousands of dollars as well as providing a clean, renewable source of energy. Vegawatt is installed and has been running since early December at Finz Seafood & Grill (

“As a restaurant operator I am constantly looking for more efficient methods, and especially for costs-saving measures,” said George Carey, owner of Finz Seafood & Grill in Dedham, Massachusetts, the first establishment to install the Vegawatt™ system. “My largest line-item expense is runaway utility costs. The Vegawatt™ system enables me to significantly reduce my energy costs, generate clean energy on-site, and very importantly, reduce the heavy energy footprint of my restaurant.”

The Vegawatt™ utilizes waste vegetable oil (WVO) from a restaurant deep fryer to prepare a non-toxic fuel. This fuel is used to produce electricity and hot water, which reduces electricity and natural gas purchases. Any food service location with fryers can use the Vegawatt™ system to save $800 monthly. It is a fully automated system that requires no intervention or maintenance by restaurant staff, no additional chemicals, and produces no liquid byproducts.

“The Vegawatt™ is quite impressive,” stated Peter Christie, President of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association. “It is a breakthrough in technology that will allow for a better environment while making use of oil that would normally be thrown out.”

Most restaurants pay to dispose of their used cooking oil. Some owners have begun to receive compensation for this oil, typically $0.10 to $0.25 per gallon. Vegawatt™ owners will achieve a value of $2.55 per gallon. New green energy incentives and Renewable Energy Certificates (REC’s) will increase the payback to the restaurant.

“As businesses everywhere are taking a hard look at their energy costs and their environmental impact, Vegawatt™ enables restaurant owners to help themselves and the planet at the same time,” stated James Peret, President and CEO of Owl Power Company.

About Owl Power Company
Owl Power Company is a Massachusetts-based company that manufactures, installs, and operates clean energy cogeneration systems. The company’s flagship product, Vegawatt™, is an automated, combined heat and power (CHP) system that utilizes waste vegetable oil as its feedstock.

Source - Vegawatt

Friday, 2 January 2009

UK Energy gap that could lead to blackouts

A TENTH of the UK’s power plants could be forced to close by the spring of 2013 – two-and-a-half years ahead of schedule, new research shows.

The revelation will stoke fresh concern that the government has not done enough to head off a looming energy generation gap that could lead to blackouts across the country.

Under an EU directive, companies operating old coal and oil-fired plants were given the option to spend hundreds of millions of pounds to upgrade them to comply with tougher pollution standards.

Those that “opted out” of the programme - nine plants representing about 15% of UK power supply - were given 20,000 hours to operate, starting from January last year through to the end of 2015. Based on research from the energy-consultancy group Utilyx, several of these plants have been running at historically high rates that would put them out of commission much sooner than originally thought.

The coal-fired plants at Kingsnorth in Kent, owned by Eon, Scottish Power’s Cockenzie plant, RWE-owned Npower’s stations at Tilbury and Didcot, and Scottish & Southern’s Ferrybridge plant will all be decommissioned by the spring of 2013 if current patterns continue. The stations generate some 7.6GW of electricity - 10% of the UK’s total capacity.

The first of them, Scottish Power’s 1.2GW plant at Cockenzie, which generates enough power for 1m homes, will close as early as September 2010 based on current rates. The research was based on analysis of running patterns at the plants from January 1 this year to the end of October.

“It is likely that a significant proportion of the UK’s opted-out coal plant will close earlier than 2015, with the impact felt around 2013,” said Kevin Akhurst, managing director of generation at Npower.

When companies decided whether to comply with the EU’s so-called Large Combustion Plant Directive (LCPD) four years ago, those plants that opted out were envisaged as “peaking plants” to be used only at time of maximum consumption and power prices. Most of them, it was thought, would easily last until 2015.

Chris Bowden, chief executive of Utilyx, said that because of the price of coal relative to record high prices of electricity and rising power demand, the opposite has happened. “When companies made the decision to opt out it was a very different world. The idea was that they would be peaking plants but now they are running as base-load providers,” he said. “The technology of some of these power stations would make them like classic cars, but now they are ready for the scrapheap.”

The data will add to fears about UK energy security after the Russian gas giant Gazprom threatened to cut off supplies to Europe due to a row with Ukraine.

Next year is critical for the UK energy industry. In January, Ed Miliband, the secretary for energy and climate change, is expected to decide on Eon’s controversial proposal to build a new 2GW plant to replace the Kingsnorth facility. It would be the UK’s first coal-fired power station in more than three decades and is an acid test of the government’s stance on coal and supply security.

New energy and planning bills will also come into effect in April, which the industry hopes will pave the way for swifter building and planning permission for new projects, one of the biggest obstacles to the construction of plants.

Source - The Times


Wishing all our readers a prosperous new year

We thank our bloggers for taking time reading our blogs, contributions, comments and views on what we are doing.

May the new year bring a change for us all, the environment and all mankind