Renewables, fuel cells, hydrogen, and efficiency
Ken Novak's Weblog
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
South African disposable solar cells: I've been interested for some time in renewable power sources that are less expensive up front, even if more expensive over the long run. The lower up-front commitment cuts risk, allows more experimentation, and more room for incremental technological improvements. It also supports a wider range of business models based on recurring revenues.
"SCIENTISTS at the University of Cape Town are exploiting the nano-scale properties of silicon to develop a super-thin disposable solar panel poster which they hope could offer rural dwellers a cheap, alternative source of power. .. The scientists have developed technology for printing specialised inks containing tiny nanoparticles of silicon and other semiconductors onto paper. The solar panels are printed in much the same way as conventional colour images.. They print the metal contacts, then the semiconductor structure, then more contacts.
The voltage and power output of the solar cell is determined by the size of the poster. An A2-sized poster [15.9 x 22.3 ins or 40.38 x 56.64 cms] will deliver up to 100W of power, enough to charge a cellphone, power a radio or provide five hours of lighting, said Prof David Britton, a physicist specialising in nanotechnology.
“Many families cannot afford R1000 for a solar panel designed to last 30 years, but they can afford R10 (US$1.50) every three to six months for a ‘disposable’ panel,” he said. Shops could stock rolls of solar panel posters, and cut it to meet a customer’s needs. The poster could be mounted behind a window or attached to a cabinet. Britton’s team has built a successful prototype and is seeking to commercialise the project" 11:00:27 AM
Thursday, November 24, 2005
Global Renewable Energy Policies and Measures
: New from the IEA with info from 100 countries. Coverage:
"There are 34 countries listed with targets for renewables, ranging from Austria which wants 78.1% of its electricity to come from renewables by 2010, to the target of 3.6% in Hungary for the same period. Mali wants 15% of its total primary energy supply to come from renewables by 2020 and Singapore will install 50,000 m2 of solar thermal systems by 2012." 10:26:18 PM
Saturday, November 12, 2005
Palo Alto group cuts greenhouse gases:
"An odd-bedfellows coalition of Silicon Valley government agencies, businesses and organizations -- from major corporations to the local Sierra Club chapter -- has reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 744 million pounds in the past year, according to a new report to be released Wednesday. The energy saved in the process is enough to heat 233,500 homes, according to an early summary of the "Sustainable Silicon Valley," a 19-partner effort with offices in San Jose at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group headquarters. The effort -- launched in partial response to a perceived vacuum of leadership at the state and federal level in "greenhouse gas" emissions -- is the first-ever combined local effort to respond directly to global-warming concerns. The CO2 reduction initiative aims to cut emissions by 20 percent from 1990 levels within the next five years.
In addition to the City of Palo Alto, organizations based in or near Palo Alto include the environmental group Acterra, ALZA Corporation, Roche Palo Alto, Hewlett-Packard Company, Agilent Technologies and the Loma Prieta Chapter of the Sierra Club. NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View also is part of the coalition, along with several regional and countywide agencies and PG&E, Lockheed Martin and Oracle" 10:20:15 AM
Friday, November 11, 2005
Biodiesel Keeps Home Fire Burning
: Home heating fuel is another market for biodiesel. " the National Biodiesel Board
's website now lists 19 companies that supply biodiesel-blended heating oil, known as BioHeat, to residential customers, and the list is growing. Most companies provide BioHeat blends that contain 5 percent, 10 percent or 20 percent of biodiesel." At today's oil prices, and today's biodiesel volume, it's more expensive than conventional home heating oil. 11:34:43 PM
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Canada, carmakers sign tough emissions pact: Explicit cooperation between blue states and other countries on enviro issues. "Faced with the threat that Canada would adopt tough, California-style rules on auto emissions, major automakers agreed Tuesday [April 2005] to voluntarily reduce the global-warming emissions of cars and light trucks sold north of the border. Auto industry watchdogs said the deal, signed Tuesday in Windsor, Ontario, by officials of the Canadian government and the nation's automobile industry, could force automakers to adopt similar stringent emissions rules for vehicles sold throughout the United States.
The agreement follows the lead of regulations adopted last November in California, which U.S. automakers -- the same multinational giants that dominate Canada's auto industry -- are seeking to overturn in court. Tuesday's pact commits the manufacturers to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions of their vehicles sold in Canada by 5.3 million metric tons -- about 25 percent -- by the end of 2010. In comparison, rules adopted in California oblige automakers to reduce their global-warming emissions by 30 percent, starting in 2009 and culminating in 2016.
Supporters of California's rules praised Tuesday's deal but said it showed the automakers were being two-faced, voluntarily adopting standards in Canada that they oppose south of the border. .. "But it shows that the steps on global warming that car manufacturers say would wreak havoc in California are eminently doable," said [Tom Dresslar, spokesman for the Calif. attorney general]. "If you look at the history of this industry, whenever there are regulations proposed about safety, consumers and the environment, Detroit comes out with the Chicken Little routine, and that has never turned out to be an accurate prediction of the future." ..
the new standards will force an unprecedented increase in gas mileage for more than one-third of the vehicles sold in North America. New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont and Maine have adopted California's strict emissions targets. With this mass of auto buyers now joined by millions of Canadians, the auto industry is under increasing pressure to adopt the new levels for all its fleets, rather than offering different models for the two different markets.
Canada's voluntary deal may have been set in motion by unprecedented cooperation between California officials and their Canadian counterparts, who have met in recent months to discuss the possibility of Canada's adopting California's air quality rules. .. "California's pressure and the cross-border visits were very instrumental in helping the Canadian government to move forward and get the deal," said John Bennett, senior policy adviser for energy for the Sierra Club of Canada. " 3:23:11 PM
Sunday, November 06, 2005
Energy Innovations raises $16.5m:
Lead investor: Mohr Davidow Ventures, June 2005
. "Energy Innovations is developing a new low-cost rooftop solar system, called the Sunflower. Each Sunflower module is composed of an array of mirrors that track the sun throughout the day and year, concentrating its light onto a small panel of PV cells that generate electricity. By replacing large amounts of very expensive, silicon-based PV cells with inexpensive mirrors, Energy Innovations expects to drive down the cost of solar electricity by half or more.
The company is currently testing the Sunflower on its own roof in Pasadena and will soon be rolling out additional test units to sites in different climate zones. Following Underwriters Laboratory certification later this year, EI Solutions will begin installing Sunflower systems on customer rooftops in the fourth quarter. The system is designed to meet the electrical needs of grid-tied, flat-roofed commercial, government and other institutional buildings, the fastest-growing segment of the solar market. " 11:35:36 PM
Thursday, November 03, 2005
Sri Lanka government focus on renewables
: "The National Council for Economic Development (NCED) has put together the top energy experts in the country to find ways of harnessing Sri Lanka' s energy resources by forming a "Renewable Energy Cluster" under the NCED Secretariat. .. Director of NCED Rohantha Athukorala said 'To insulate the country from devastating price surges in international oil markets, Sri Lanka must increase self reliance in energy and improve energy diversity. In 2004, the nation relied on imported diesel based thermal power to meet 56% of its requirements. .. The team's objective is to develop a national strategy to exploit indigenous renewable energy resources - namely hydro, dendro, wind and solar - for both grid-connected and off-grid generation. " While the emphasis is on indigenous renewables, cheap imported coal is also mentioned as an alternative. I recall a recent UNEP study
mapping large wind resources in Sri Lanka. 8:53:01 AM
Geothermal use statistics: "There is 8,932 MW of installed power capacity in 24 countries, generating 56,951 GWh per year of green power.. For direct use geothermal (including earth energy heat pumps), the global total from 72 countries is 28,268 MW, providing 75,943 GWh a year of thermal energy."
The top producers of geothermal electric power include many developing countries. For power, the top 10 include the Philippines (1,931 MW for 9,419 GWh), Mexico (953 / 6,282), Indonesia (797 / 6,085), Costa Rica (163 / 1,145) and Kenya (129 MW / 1,088 GWh/year). For direct heat without heat pumps, they include China, Turkey, Hungary, Brazil and Russia. For direct heat with heat pumps, only China is in the top 10.
"Over the past five years, 1,000 MW of geothermal electric capacity has been commissioned, as well as 13,000 MW of thermal capacity in direct use geothermal, most of which has been in earth energy heat pumps, according to the report. Growth in the power industry has increased 2.9% a year while direct use has increased 13.2% annually in capacity and 7.5% in energy produced." With rising prices for natural gas, the growth rate is expected to increase. 8:46:43 AM
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
China's Little Green Book: "Green China will be much more challenging than Red China.. The China Daily reported that China's 11th five-year plan, which starts soon, includes a program to sharply reduce China's energy usage per unit of G.D.P. by 2010. "To hit the target, a huge business potential will be open to investors," [said] Zhou Dadi, director of China's top energy research institute.. "China is growing three times as fast as we are," Mr. Watson said, "[so] a lot of innovation is going to happen here, and once it is introduced [on the low-cost China platform] it is going to spread a lot faster. ... The Japanese and Europeans are here in a big way, and they are giving their stuff away. ... We deserve to lose. We are clutching our past with these tremulous hands, and everyone else is vigorously grasping the future." 11:45:08 PM