Renewables, fuel cells, hydrogen, and efficiency
Ken Novak's Weblog
Monday, January 30, 2006
Solar and wind in a Chinese skyscraper:
A leading US architecture firm, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) "has designed a 69-story building for China that will produce more energy than it consumes.
[SOM] is among three
finalists in an international design competition for a building in
Guangzhou, a port city of 6.6 million people located 182 km from Hong
The design directs and manages prevailing
winds to become ‘invisible braces’ which help to support the tower. The
sculpted facade directs wind to a pair of openings on the mechanical
floors, which then drive turbines to generate electricity for the
building's heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. “The
openings also relieve wind pressure on the face of the building,”
explains project architect Gordon Gill of SOM. “Potentially-damaging
negative pressure on the opposite side of the building is alleviated as
well. The result is a more stable, more comfortable building.”
consumption is reduced by maximizing natural day-lighting, reducing
solar gain in air conditioned spaces, retaining rainwater for
gray-water usage and using solar thermal collectors to heat the water
supply. Stack venting, radiant slab cooling and caisson heat sinks work
to chill the building, and building-integrated solar panels on the
facade generate AC power... The winner of the design competition is expected to be announced in February." 9:50:14 AM
Saturday, January 28, 2006
Ethanol, oil and GHG:
Good summary of the issues, based on a UC Berkeley paper
. Bottom lines: All forms of US-produced ethanol displace a lot of oil (typically 95% less petroleum used). Greenhouse gases (GHG) are cut slightly (13%), due to the use of natural gas and even coal to heat the production of the ethanol from corn. How the corn is grown makes a big difference (e.g., low tillage). Future cellosic ethanol is projected to cut GHG dramatically (80%). No data is provided for Brazilian cane production, which uses corn stalk bagasse for heat instead of natural gas or coal, which I have read elsewhere results in high GHG displacement. 12:25:15 AM
Friday, January 27, 2006
Cows make fuel for biogas train, buses, taxis:
"The world's first biogas-powered passenger train is taking its first passengers between the Swedish cities of Linkoping and Vastervik. And the biogas comes from the entrails of dead cows. .. the organs and the fat and the guts [are] enough, from one cow, to get you about 4km (2.5 miles) on the train." Processing of the cow waste takes a month from abbatoir to vehicles. "the train between Linkoping and Vastervik will cost 20% more to run on methane than on the usual diesel. But the oil price is going up and up.. Nor is it just trains. In Linkoping, the 65-strong bus fleet is powered by biogas. .. The taxis, the rubbish trucks and a number of private cars also fill up at the biogas pump..
And if methane doesn't light your fire, you can choose to have your car run on a high-grade biofuel mix. This year, Saab started selling a biopowered version of their 95 model. Its engine will take a fuel cocktail which is up to 85% bioethanol, made, principally, from Brazilian sugar cane. The bio-powered version of the Saab 95 costs around $1,000 (£500) more than the normal model. But with pump prices for the E85 mix a third cheaper than normal petrol, company car tax breaks, and exemptions for parking and congestion charges, Saab reckons you get that $1,000 back within the first year. ..
Across Europe, transport is not pulling its weight when it comes to meeting the Kyoto targets on cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Industry is. So, to a lesser extent, are households and agriculture. But now the European Commission .. has set binding targets for the amount of fuel use it wants taken up by bio-products by the end of this year, and by 2010. " 10:27:15 PM
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Architects Call for 50% Cut in Fossil Fuel use in Buildings by 2010:
With such a short time frame, there must be a lot of "low-hanging fruit" in new construction. "The American Institute of
Architects (AIA) has adopted position statements to promote
sustainable design and resource conservation to achieve a minimum
reduction of fifty percent of the current consumption level of
fossil fuels used to construct and operate buildings by the year
2010. .. “Buildings account for forty-eight percent of U.S. energy
consumption and generate far more greenhouse gas emissions than any
other sector,” said R.K. Stewart, FAIA, facilitator of the AIA
Sustainability Summit Task Force. .. Fundamental to helping ensure actual results, the AIA also supports
the development and use of rating systems and standards that
promote the design and construction of communities and buildings
that contribute to a more sustainable and environmentally conscious
future. According to the AIA, an undertaking of this magnitude will require
a sustained effort over the next ten to fifteen years,
especially in educating clients about their role in the success of
this effort." 8:27:22 AM
US GHG emissions in 2004
: Reference numbers. "Petroleum is the leading source of GHG emissions from energy and industry sources, according to the Department of Energy. Oil emitted 2,592 Mt [metric tonnes] in 2004, compared with 2,180 Mt in 1990.
Combustion of coal for energy applications emitted 2,090 Mt in 2004, compared with 1,784 Mt in 1990, while natural gas emitted 1,203 Mt of CO2 in 2004 compared with 1,027 Mt in 1990, notes the DOE report, "Emissions of Greenhouse Gases in the United States 2004."
For all energy and industry sources, national GHG emissions in 2004 were 5,900 Mt, of which the residential sector emitted 1,212 Mt, the commercial sector 1,024 Mt, the industrial sector 1,730 Mt and the transportation sector was 1,934 Mt.
" 8:23:40 AM
Thursday, January 12, 2006
The California Solar Initiative:
January 12, the California Public Utilities Commission approved the
California Solar Initiative by a 3-1 margin. With the previously approved
2006 budget, that a total of $3.2 billion in incentives over 11 years,
enough for 3,000 megawatts of solar across the state. ..
This is the biggest solar program in the country and, after Germany,
the second largest in the world."
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
Getting in early as China cleans up: "Stories on environmental disasters come out of China and other Asian developing countries regularly. A review of impacts and the resulting investments: "Environmental damage from pollution is costing China the equivalent of 7.7 percent of gross domestic product annually .. Other sobering statistics in the report, called "Connecting Asia," include estimates of 6.4 million work years lost annually in China to air pollution, 178,000 premature deaths in major cities every year caused by the use of high-sulfur coal and the fact that 52 urban river stretches have been so contaminated that they are no longer suitable for irrigation. ..
[Investment manager] Sorenson said that in terms of environmental standards, "China is now where the U.S. was in the late 1960s" [when disasters and new laws] changed the way U.S. companies conducted business. A similar process was seen in Japan, spurred by the Tokyo Olympic Games of 1964, and in South Korea, when Seoul was host of the Olympics in 1988. There is much hope that the 2008 Games in Beijing will prove as seminal in China's environmental development. .. In November, [China's] State Environmental Protection Administration estimated that the government would spend around $156 billion in environmental protection from 2006 to 2010. ..
Sorenson's FE Clean Energy Group is currently putting together an Asia fund, which Sorenson expects to total around $75 million. .. [Another is] the China Environment Fund, set up in 2001 by Tsinghua Venture Capital Management, a fund management company affiliated with Tsinghua University in Beijing. Catherine Cao, executive director of the firm, said that its third fund should be ready by the end of 2006 and aims to raise $50 million. Two previous funds [were] $13 million and $30 million..
The easiest means of entry for small investors still remains the mutual fund. The Impax Environmental Markets fund of £45 million, or $79 million, rose by around 32 percent in 2005. Among its biggest holdings are Casella Waste, a U.S. waste disposal company, Kurita Water of Japan and Horiba, a Japanese environmental testing company." Other options: big utilities, especially European, operating in Asia; Shenzhen Dongjiang Environmental, listed in Hong Kong; canada's Zenon Environmental; Nordex of Germany; solar companies Kyocera and Sharp. [via Salon] 11:33:41 AM