Category Archives: Solar Power

Navajos Hope to Shift From Coal to Wind and Sun

By MIREYA NAVARRO
Published: October 25, 2010

BLUE GAP, Ariz. — For decades, coal has been an economic lifeline for the Navajos, even as mining and power plant emissions dulled the blue skies and sullied the waters of their sprawling reservation.

But today there are stirrings of rebellion. Seeking to reverse years of environmental degradation and return to their traditional values, many Navajos are calling for a future built instead on solar farms, ecotourism and microbusinesses.

“At some point we have to wean ourselves,” Earl Tulley, a Navajo housing official, said of coal as he sat on the dirt floor of his family’s hogan, a traditional circular dwelling.

Mr. Tulley, who is running for vice president of the Navajo Nation in the Nov. 2 election, represents a growing movement among Navajos that embraces environmental healing and greater reliance on the sun and wind, abundant resources on a 17 million-acre reservation spanning Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

“We need to look at the bigger picture of sustainable development,” said Mr. Tulley, the first environmentalist to run on a Navajo presidential ticket.

With nearly 300,000 members, the Navajo Nation is the country’s largest tribe, according to Census Bureau estimates, and it has the biggest reservation. Coal mines and coal-fired power plants on the reservation and on lands shared with the Hopi provide about 1,500 jobs and more than a third of the tribe’s annual operating budget, the largest source of revenue after government grants and taxes.

At the grass-roots level, the internal movement advocating a retreat from coal is both a reaction to the environmental damage and the health consequences of mining — water loss and contamination, smog and soot pollution — and a reconsideration of centuries-old tenets.

In Navajo culture, some spiritual guides say, digging up the earth to retrieve resources like coal and uranium (which the reservation also produced until health issues led to a ban in 2005) is tantamount to cutting skin and represents a betrayal of a duty to protect the land.

“As medicine people, we don’t extract resources,” said Anthony Lee Sr., president of the Diné Hataalii Association, a group of about 100 healers known as medicine men and women.

But the shift is also prompted by economic realities. Tribal leaders say the Navajo Nation’s income from coal has dwindled 15 percent to 20 percent in recent years as federal and state pollution regulations have imposed costly restrictions and lessened the demand for mining.

Two coal mines on the reservation have shut down in the last five years. One of them, the Black Mesa mine, ceased operations because the owners of the power plant it fed in Laughlin, Nev., chose to close the plant in 2005 rather than spend $1.2 billion on retrofitting it to meet pollution controls required by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Early this month, the E.P.A. signaled that it would require an Arizona utility to install $717 million in emission controls at another site on the reservation, the Four Corners Power Plant in New Mexico, describing it as the highest emitter of nitrous oxide of any power plant in the nation. It is also weighing costly new rules for the Navajo Generating Station in Arizona.

And states that rely on Navajo coal, like California, are increasingly imposing greenhouse gas emissions standards and requiring renewable energy purchases, banning or restricting the use of coal for electricity.

So even as they seek higher royalties and new markets for their vast coal reserves, tribal officials say they are working to draft the tribe’s first comprehensive energy policy and are gradually turning to casinos, renewable energy projects and other sources for income.

This year the tribal government approved a wind farm to be built west of Flagstaff, Ariz., to power up to 20,000 homes in the region. Last year, the tribal legislative council also created a Navajo Green Economy Commission to promote environmentally friendly jobs and businesses.

“We need to create our own businesses and control our destiny,” said Ben Shelly, the Navajo Nation vice president, who is now running for president against Lynda Lovejoy, a state senator in New Mexico and Mr. Tulley’s running mate.

That message is gaining traction among Navajos who have reaped few benefits from coal or who feel that their health has suffered because of it.

Curtis Yazzie, 43, for example, lives in northeastern Arizona without running water or electricity in a log cabin just a stone’s throw from the Kayenta mine.

Tribal officials, who say some families live so remotely that it would cost too much to run power lines to their homes, have begun bringing hybrid solar and wind power to some of the estimated 18,000 homes on the reservation without electricity. But Mr. Yazzie says that air and water pollution, not electricity, are his first concerns.

“Quite a few of my relatives have made a good living working for the coal mine, but a lot of them are beginning to have health problems,” he said. “I don’t know how it’s going to affect me.”

One of those relatives is Daniel Benally, 73, who says he lives with shortness of breath after working for the Black Mesa mine in the same area for 35 years as a heavy equipment operator. Coal provided for his family, including 15 children from two marriages, but he said he now believed that the job was not worth the health and environmental problems.

“There’s no equity between benefit and damage,” he said in Navajo through a translator.

About 600 mine, pipeline and power plant jobs were affected when the Mohave Generating Station in Nevada and Peabody’s Black Mesa mine shut down.

But that also meant that Peabody stopped drawing water from the local aquifer for the coal slurry carried by an underground pipeline to the power plant — a victory for Navajo and national environmental groups active in the area, like the Sierra Club.

Studies have shown serious declines in the water levels of the Navajo aquifer after decades of massive pumping for coal slurry operations. And the E.P.A. has singled out the Four Corners Power Plant and the Navajo Generating Station as two of the largest air polluters in the country, affecting visibility in 27 of the area’s “most pristine and precious natural areas,” including the Grand Canyon.

The regional E.P.A. director, Jared Blumenfeld, said the plants were the nation’s No. 1 and No. 4 emitters of nitrogen oxides, which form fine particulates resulting in cases of asthma attacks, bronchitis, heart attacks and premature deaths.

Environmentalists are now advocating for a more diversified Navajo economy and trying to push power plants to invest in wind and solar projects.

“It’s a new day for the Navajo people,” said Lori Goodman, an official with Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment, a group founded 22 years ago by Mr. Tulley. “We can’t be trashing the land anymore.”

Both presidential candidates in the Navajo election have made the pursuit of cleaner energy a campaign theme, but significant hurdles remain, including that Indian tribes, as sovereign entities, are not eligible for tax credits that help finance renewable energy projects elsewhere.

And replacing coal revenue would not be easy. The mining jobs that remain, which pay union wages, are still precious on a reservation where unemployment is estimated at 50 percent to 60 percent.

“Mining on Black Mesa,” Peabody officials said in a statement, “has generated $12 billion in direct and implied economic benefits over the past 40 years, created thousands of jobs, sent thousands of students to college and restored lands to a condition that is as much as 20 times more productive than native range.”

They added, “Renewables won’t come close to matching the scale of these benefits.”

But many Navajos see the waning of coal as inevitable and are already looking ahead. Some residents and communities are joining together or pairing with outside companies to pursue small-scale renewable energy projects on their own.

Wahleah Johns, a member of the new Navajo Green Economy Commission, is studying the feasibility of a small solar project on reclaimed mining lands with two associates. In the meantime, she uses solar panels as a consciousness-raising tool.

“How can we utilize reclamation lands?” she said to Mr. Yazzie during a recent visit as they held their young daughters in his living room. “Maybe we can use them for solar panels to generate electricity for Los Angeles, to transform something that’s been devastating for our land and water into something that can generate revenue for your family, for your kids.”

Mr. Yazzie, who lives with his wife, three children and two brothers, said he liked the idea. “Once Peabody takes all the coal out, it’ll be gone,” he said. “Solar would be long-term. Solar and wind, we don’t have a problem with. It’s pretty windy out here.”

 

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Aliz Eco-Luxury Yacht Proudly Goes Green

With eco-friendly superyachts increasingly marking their presence, it reflects the growing environmental consciousness of today’s sailors. So, to assist the sailing society to comply with green initiatives, designer Heather Witkop has come up with the Aliz yacht with solar panels installed to harness solar energy for its energy needs. This 145-foot luxury yacht features a master suite with 180 degrees of view, an outdoor lounge, wet bar and grill area along with the lounge/dining area on the main deck featuring a waterfall. Creating an overall connection with eco consciousness, the Aliz features a hydraulic elevator surrounded by a garden that changes from deck to deck, bringing a sense of life to the living spaces. Finally to keep the connection real, Aliz has a river flowing through on the upper deck along with the bar and lounge to keep the guests in groove. With its maximum cruising speed of 25 knots, Aliz can accommodate 12 guests proudly going green and sailing blue.

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The Need for Solar Powered Boats

As We See The Price Tag On Oil Just About To Escalate, Are Photovoltaic Powered Ships The Solution?

Apr 7th, 2010

Photovoltaic driven boats will be a significant part of the foreseeable future; unquestionably they are going to take over a substantial part of the leisure marining business on inland waterways but it is very difficult to see it halting there.

Currently an incredible around the world craft called “Planet Solar” has been created and definitely will make the voyage at some point this year. This comes after a catamaran which has previously crossed the Atlantic in a mere 3 weeks called Sun 21.

Currently in action are solar driven ferries several have lately been commissioned to be used in Hong Kong and they declare that there’s a saving of 50% in overall carbon emissions, the actual ferries run on solar energy throughout the day with an all-round efficiency saving of 75%.

The benefits pertaining to shipping is huge, perhaps combined together with computer governed kite technologies that is presently being used regarding oil tankers and also container ships salvaging fortunes in energy expenses.

With all the most recent developments in solar panel technology it is easy to have photo voltaic cells almost anywhere, they also do not need direct sunlight to work effectively, consequently they are able to remain static and continue to supply electric power. Battery power technologies have additionally improved along with lithium battery packs supplying electricity for longer with more effectiveness.

Due to 13% of world-wide carbon pollutants made by shipping it’s quite possible that govt policy will increase this alteration while they search for methods to decrease carbon footprints. CEO Robert Dane states the brand new hybrid ferries can save ferry organizations millions in fuel expenses whilst also providing an equal or even superior product for the same price. If governing bodies all over the world start to deliver regulations and tax breaks to these businesses to look at the environmental option after that we may see a sharp rise in Electric powered ferries within the next decade.

Andreas Stubbs discusses solar powered boats for extra info stop by the electric powered boat motor website.

http://www.greenlivingutopia.com/2010/04/as-we-see-the-price-tag-on-oil-just-about-to-escalate-are-photovoltaic-powered-ships-the-solution/

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Extraordinary New Green Energy Innovations

Extraordinary New Green Energy Innovations

Americans want clean energy, that’s been confirmed by many polls conducted to ascertain whether people support green, renewable energy.

And though the economy has to some extent slowed progress in the world of renewable energy, there are still many amazing green energy innovations popping up across the globe as both artists and engineers play with how to create energy sustainably. Here are a few examples.

1. Cross-wind Bridge

By far one of the most interesting bridges you’ll ever see, the cross-wind bridge developed by designers Tiago Barros + Jorge Pereira and their team harnesses wind energy from passing cars.

As drivers pass under the bridge, they help to increase the wind velocity within the bridge, which in turn helps to rotate the 2,188 lightweight panels that generate energy and send it through an electromagnetic band. The energy is then used to light up the bridge at night, providing illumination in the local community.

Located in Lisbon, the bridge also houses a pedestrian and cycling bridge that connects people to the nearby residential park. To add to the green credibility of this design, the structure is made of punctured cladding that is sourced from recycled steel from the auto industry.

2. Invisible Streetlight

Modeled after tree branches and leaves, the Invisible Streetlight, which was presented at the International Design Excellence Awards, brings solar-powered illumination and beauty together. Collecting solar energy throughout the day, these lights then provide soft, elegant light throughout the night.

Intertwined with branches of existing trees, these lights also minimize the resources needed to construct them (although one has to ask about the risk of theft). They not only enhance the scenic beauty of a local park or sidewalk, they make it safer without contributing to climate change.

3. Solar Curtain Walls and Blights

Konarka, one of the leading manufacturers of printable solar cells, has recently announced a pilot project to test the viability of solar curtain walls. Although perhaps less dramatic than the other two renewable energy systems on offer here, when applied to surfaces as ubiquitous as windows and walls, the potential to create energy on virtually any building goes through the roof.

Their Power Plastic is extremely flexible and versatile, making it possible to apply solar energy generators to a wide variety of surfaces—everything from sun shades to bags to vehicle surfaces. The technology could also make renewable energy much more affordable for the average consumer and transferable to developing nations, too.

4. Blights

The Power Plastic technology is not unlike that used on these highly practical Blights (think blind + light). Providing both protection from solar heat gain (important for areas that face higher air conditioning bills due to hot weather) and surfaces through which to generate renewable energy, the Blights are another example of bringing the extraordinary into real life.

They can be adjusted throughout the day to obtain maximum solar collection and shielding from solar glare. Applicable for really any window—in homes, offices, and industrial facilities alike—they provide convenient solar energy.

5. Solar Impulse

Putting a new spin on sustainable travel, Solar Impulse is working on a solar airplane that could potentially be used for taxiing people and other transport purposes. They’re attempting to go around the world in the Solar Impulse.

6. Solar Highway

The world’s first Solar Highway project opened in Oregon to rave reviews. Providing 104 kilowatts of energy through a ground-mounted solar array, the energy generated will power lighting for the site.

7. I-SWARM bots

An interesting twist on solar enery, these three-legged I-SWARM bots are solar-powered gadgets that could one day form the foundation for other larger-scale renewably-powered computer systems. Measuring about 4 mm square, they can do ant-sized jobs totally powered by the sun.

Neelima Reddy, author of this article writes for TheNewEcologist.com know more about green living, green news, eco systems, green products, home & garden, alternative energy, design & architecture etc.. Visit The New Ecologist
March 21st, 2010

http://alternativeenergymutualfunds.us/?p=631

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Google Continuing Alternative Energy Push by Developing Prototype Mirror for Solar Thermal Power

By MB-BigB | March 14, 2010

Google.org, the company’s philanthropic group, has been investing in alternative power research for awhile now. Recently, Google came out with a pretty significant announcement – they’ve developed a prototype mirror that could cut the cost of solar thermal power in half. In any solar thermal plant, the mirrors are the most expensive part, and its the mirrors that do most of the work – they focus the sunlight on the liquid that powers the turbines. Bill Weihl, Google’s green energy czar, told Reuters that Google feels that these new mirrors could cut the cost of a solar thermal plant in half. While they’re not providing many details, Google is saying that the company has been using “unusual materials” for both the mirrored surface and the substrate – which might mean no metal and no glass in the Google mirrors. Weihl feels that their prototype could be market ready in one to three years, in which case the Google mirrors could certainly be used by both BrightSource Energy and eSolar – the two largest solar thermal companies in the US and two companies that Google has invested a substantial amount of money in.

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Colorado Home to New Solar Production Company

Based in Niestetal, Germany, The SMA Group recently announced they will open the German largest production facility for solar inverters in the United States here in Colorado.

Given a facility of that size, they needed a law firm that could manage all of the employment and labor laws that might come into play. They turned to Messner & Reeves to lead the way.

SMA will employ approximately 700 people (including temporary employees) in Colorado. With such a big, “green” task at hand, the German company needed an experienced legal partner such as Messner to help them protect their most important asset (people) as they opened their first U.S. manufacturing facility.

The SMA Group generated sales of more than 680 million Euros (approximately $985 million US dollars) in 2008 and is the worldwide market leader for photovoltaic inverters, a key component of all solar power plants. The company is represented by foreign subsidiaries in 12 countries on four continents. The Group employs a staff of over 4,000 (incl. temporary employees). In recent years, SMA has received numerous awards for its excellence as an employer. For more information, please visit http://www.SMA-America.com.

Welcome to Colorado, SMA!

Messner’s Employment Group has partnered with organizations for more than 15 years to develop a proactive approach to employment practices, which results in increased retention and reduces the frequency and severity of claims.

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Federal Recovery Funds Making PA Leader in Solar Energy, Putting People to Work

Eight large-scale solar projects in Pennsylvania that will create jobs while generating clean energy will receive a substantial boost from $9.5 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding, Governor Edward G. Rendell announced today.

“This investment is critically important to strengthening Pennsylvania’s economy not only because of the private capital it will attract and the jobs it will create, but because of the great economic potential the renewable energy industry holds for our state,” said Governor Rendell.

“Solar power is an increasingly important part of our electricity generation capability and, consequently, our economy. That’s why we’ve made an earnest commitment to ensuring more solar projects, solar manufacturers, and related industries establish operations here. We’re now on track to be one of the top five states for producing solar energy by the end of the year,” the Governor said.

“This sizable, $9.5 million investment through the federal Recovery Act is helping to make that possible by supporting eight projects that will put 149 people to work, stimulate another $46 million in private investments and, once completed, will generate enough electricity to power 1,200 homes annually.”

The Governor added that the projects, which total more than 10 megawatts of generation capacity, will produce enough clean electricity to offset more than 8,500 tons in carbon emissions, or the equivalent of removing nearly 1,500 passenger vehicles from the road.

The projects also account for more than double the four megawatts of capacity that Pennsylvania had just one year ago.

“Counting these 10 megawatts made possible through our Green Energy Works! Solar program, there are 65 megawatts of new solar capacity under development today,” said the Governor. “Boosting solar production benefits consumers because it allows us to take advantage of a free resource that is abundant when we need it most — the hottest days of the year when power demand is typically highest, which puts immense pressure on the distribution grid and makes electricity more expensive. And it benefits the environment because solar power is emission-free, which helps fight smog, mercury, soot and carbon pollution, making the air easier to breathe.”

The Green Energy Works! Solar program is one of four competitive grant opportunities that use green jobs to create green energy and to stimulate economic development. Biogas, combined heat and power and wind are the other three. All solar projects must create jobs, be able to start work within six months, and be completed within 24 months and prior to April 30, 2012.

The Governor also renewed his call for the General Assembly to strengthen the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act in order to keep Pennsylvania competitive with other states and nations vying for clean energy projects.

“Our nearly six-year-old standards have been surpassed by other states, which puts Pennsylvania at risk of losing out on multi-million-dollar, job-creating clean energy projects,” the Governor explained. “Additionally, if we fail to aggressively expand our nation’s renewable energy industry, we could fall behind nations like China and India that are pursuing solar, wind and other renewable energy projects.”

For more information on how federal stimulus money is bolstering Pennsylvania’s clean energy economy, visit http://www.recovery.pa.gov and click on “Energy” under the “Where is Your Money Going” heading.

For additional information on Green Energy Works! visit the Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Energy and Technology Deployment at http://www.depweb.state.pa.us or call 717-783-8411 717-783-8411.

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