Tag Archives: energy conservation

D.O.E. targets home energy efficiency with $ 30 million funding

 By Nuel Navarrete (www.ecoseed.org)
Thursday, 22 July 2010

  The United States Department of Energy is releasing $30 million to fund building industry partnerships that will work on energy efficiency projects for homes.

The partnerships will be made up of experts in various fields such as retrofitting, finance and energy management, among others. Their main task will be to improve energy efficiency in United States homes.

Fifteen teams will each receive between $500,000 and $2.5 million, depending on their performance. The total amount of $30 million will be distributed during the initial 18 months.

A total of up to $20 million per year will also be made available for the partnerships, with three potential one-year extensions.

The project is under an Energy Department program that forges research partnerships across the residential building industry to come up with solutions to significantly reduce the average energy use of housing while improving comfort and quality.

Existing techniques and technologies in energy efficiency retrofitting – such as air-tight ducts, windows and doors, heating and cooling systems, insulation and caulking – can reduce energy use by up to 40 percent per home and cut energy bills by $40 billion annually.

“Home energy efficiency is one of the easiest, most immediate and most cost-effective ways to reduce carbon pollution and save money on energy bills, while creating new jobs,” said Steven Chu, energy secretary.

“By developing and using tools to reduce residential energy use, we will spur economic growth here in America and help homeowners make cost-cutting improvements in their homes,” he added.

The partnerships are expected to provide technical assistance to retrofit projects; research on and deploy new technologies and demonstration projects; and provide systems engineering, quality assurance and outreach for retrofit projects throughout the country.

One of the chosen teams, the Alliance for Residential Building Innovation, will focus on resolving technical and market barriers to large scale implementation of innovative energy solutions for new and existing homes.

Team members will work towards retrofit activities, providing considerable experience in audits, home performance contracting, marketing and finance.

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Las Vegas’ CityCenter Gets LEED Certified

Las Vegas’ CityCenter recently announced that it received three Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certifications from the U.S. Green Building Council for: ARIA Resort’s hotel tower; ARIA Resort’s convention center and theater; and Vdara Hotel.

ARIA and Vdara will open in December on the Las Vegas Strip and are the first of CityCenter’s developments to be LEED certified. CityCenter anticipates Gold or Silver LEED certification for its remaining developments, which include Las Vegas’ first Mandarin Oriental; Crystals, a 500,000-square-foot retail and entertainment district; Veer Towers, the community’s only strictly residential buildings; and The Harmon (opening late 2010), a 400-room luxury boutique hotel.

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Paint-free Coke Can Saves Enegy, Reduces Pollution

Designer Harc Lee has created a “naked” Coca Cola can that forfeits Coke’s typical bold red and white stripes in favor of au naturale silver. The aluminum can is created without using any paints or dyes, and stands to greatly reduce pollution and energy use associated with producing and recycling soda cans.

Instead of coloring the can with toxic dyes and paints used on traditional Coca-Cola Classic cans, Harc Lee’s monochrome coke can would use a pressing machine to make the brand stand out from its background. The result is a sleek, updated look fitting for a 21st-century beverage.

Though the can may be silver, its design is decidedly green. By giving up its bold colors, the can reduces air and water pollution that occurs during the coloring process and eliminating the energy and toxic dyes required to give the can its color. Plus, the naked can streamlines the recycling process: before any aluminum can can be recycled, it must first be stripped of its paint. Ditching color during production saves a ton of energy and effort at the recycling plant.

Sure, this is just one type of can in America’s ever-growing lineup of tasty, single-serving beverages. But let’s put things into perspective: according to Gizmodo, Coca Cola produced 67.8 million cans of Coca Cola Classic in 2007. That’s about 24.7 billion cans a year! And if Diet Coke and Coca-Cola Zero also adopted the naked look, the tally would total about 75.3 billion cans every year.

It’s unclear whether Coca-Cola will pick up the new look, but we should definitely give props to Harc Lee for coming up with such an innovative design. It’s up to consumers to convince advertisers and beverage producers that brands can still retain their own identities even without bright, bold colors on the labels.

By Sarah Parsons, http://www.inhabiat.com. November 23, 2009

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Wells Fargo Forms Clean Tech Investment Group

Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) became the latest in the banking community to form a clean technology investment group.

The San Francisco-based company said in a statement Wednesday that its new clean technology group will be located in Palo Alto, Calif. and will “offer customized commercial banking products and services to businesses that manufacture, market or develop clean technology products and services, such as solar and wind power, energy and water efficiency, electric and low-emission vehicles, and smart grid applications.”

Wells Fargo has already been lending money to clean-technology companies, but wanted to make this sector a priority, as Wells Fargo expects it to grow.

The bank said it has contributed $5 billion in financing for “environmentally- friendly business opportunities,” including $1.6 billion for solar and wind projects and $3 billion to support buildings constructed according to the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design green building standards.

Wells Fargo also wants to reduce its own impact on the environment. It said last month that it had implemented a company-wide goal for a 20% emissions reduction by 2018.

Puon Penn, former senior vice president of Wells Fargo Commercial Banking, will head the new group, the bank said.

The bank couldn’t be reached for comment.

Wells Fargo overall has $1.2 trillion in assets.

Shares of Wells Fargo closed up Wednesday 49 cents, or 1.73% at 28.86 on the New York Stock Exchange.

By Sari Kreiger, Dow Jones Clean Technology Insight; Sari.Kreiger@ dowjones.com

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Chicago-China Green Building and Technology Summit Opens in Chicago

Chicago-China Green Building and Technology Summit opened here Tuesday to discuss issues related to green building and technology with the participation of business and governmental experts from the United States and China.

In his opening remarks, Bill Spence, co-chair of the China Committee of Chicago Sister Cities International, said, “today’s summit explores

sustainable building practices, energy efficiency retrofitting and the economics and politics of green building initiatives. We are here to engage

in these discussions and work toward new business partners and for new business opportunities.”

Speaking on behalf of Chicago’s mayor Richard M. Daley, Rita Athas, president of World Business Chicago, said environmental issues had long been

a priority for Chicago and Shanghai.

“This summit brings together Chicago and China-based corporations, educational institutions and governments, and represents another important

step forward in sharing best practices and initiating new projects and partnerships.”

Suzanne Malec-McKenna, commissioner of Department of Environment at City of Chicago, gave an overview of “Chicago Climate Action Plan” to the audience. She said China was doing so many wonderful things and there was lot for the United States and China to learn from each other.

Chu Maoming, deputy consul general from the Chinese Consulate in Chicago, said China and the United States had reached an agreement and

announced the establishment of the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center.

Daniel Birns, officer of technology development at Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy of U.S. Department of Energy, delivered a lunch keynote speech at the summit.

He said the newly announced U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center would facilitate joint research and development of clean energy technologies by teams of scientists and engineers from both countries, as well as serve as a clearinghouse to help researchers in each country.

Other green building and technology experts from both sides presented the breakthroughs in their green projects. A 30-people delegation from

Shanghai also attended the summit.

Business-to-Business breakout and matchmaking sessions were held in the afternoon to help connect participants with “green” industry experts and providers of products, services and capital in the United States and China.

The summit was sponsored by the China Committee of Chicago Sister Cities International. Other sponsors include Motorola, Exelon, Freeborn & Peters LLP, Monogram Group and E. Harrington Global.

BusinessGhana, November 19, 2009.

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UK Small Wind Blows Strong Despite Recession

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s small wind sector is booming despite the recession as many rural homes, farms or small businesses are putting up turbines in the yard to counter higher energy prices and blackouts.

Orders for turbines with less than 50 kilowatts capacity have soared before the introduction in April of feed-in-tariffs for small renewables, a system similar to those that have propelled wind farm growth in Germany or Spain.

“In terms of UK, orders have tripled already,” said Pete Allen, chief executive officer of Evance, which makes stand alone turbines with capacity of 5 kilowatts — enough to power two average homes in Britain.

“The UK market is set to double next year,” he told Reuters.

It is a sea change in the country, which has failed to speed up construction of onshore farms despite its plentiful wind. Onshore projects have often stalled due to local objections.

To help achieve an 80 percent cut in carbon emissions by 2050 from the 1990 level, the government announced in July it would introduce the feed-in-tariffs for small green generation of up to 5 megawatts. The tariff levels are yet to be decided.

It also comes at a time when a third of Britain’s power generators, including coal and nuclear, are starting to retire, triggering worries over possible power shortages next decade.

The British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) calculated the feed-in-tariffs would cut pay-back time for turbines of less than 1.5 kilowatts at windy sites to less than 10 years and for 5-6 kilowatt turbines to less than five years.

“With fossil fuel prices inevitably going to increase sharply, interest in self-generation is going to increase,” said Alex Murley, small system manager at BWEA.

“The UK market is already the second biggest in the world, behind the U.S., accounting for 20-25 percent of the global demand,” he added.

The BWEA projects more than 12,000 units of small turbines to be deployed in Britain next year after about 3,500 units — or 7.2 megawatts — were installed last year.

Under the scheme, owners of small renewables are paid a fixed tariff for every unit of electricity they generate. They can avoid or limit purchasing power from the grid. They can also sell a surplus, if any, to the grid for a fixed rate.

TOP GROWTH WIND, EXPORTS

“It is the fastest growing part of the wind market,” said Stephen Mahon from Low Carbon Investors UK, a venture capital investing in clean energy, including small wind.

“Globally the market is probably about 150 million pounds…We expect this to become a multi-billion pound market over the next five years,” Mahon told Reuters.

Growth will come mainly from Britain and the United States.

Though Britain has failed to attract leading large turbine makers, such as Vestas or Suzlon, it is home to 18 manufacturers of small wind turbines, including Scotland’s Proven Energy, a world leader in this category.

The country is already the world’s top exporter of small turbines and it is benefitting from generous subsidies in the United States, where the industry is projected to grow 30-folds to 1,700 megawatts by end-2013. It grew 78 percent last year.

BWEA expected British exports of small turbines to exceed 13,000 units next year after a forecast 2009 jump to around 9,500 units this year from around 32,000 units last year.

“We predict a dramatic increase in all regions, particularly the UK,” said Peter Griffiths, marketing manager of Proven Energy. “Certainly there will be a double digit growth in the run-up to UK feed-in-tariffs,” he told Reuters.

Proven Energy, taken over by investment company Low Carbon Accelerator Ltd in October, has sold about 2,500 units of its 3.2-15 kilowatt turbines worldwide since 1992, though most were installed in the past three years.

SAVING COSTS

While government incentives are crucial for small turbines at present, costs for deploying small turbines are set to come down as production volume increases. Some industry officials saw government support becoming redundant in 5-10 years.

“It’s still early days,” said BWEA’s Murley. “Costs of the technology will come down, while the costs of fossil fuel will go up, which will make small turbines (economically) viable.”

He said setting up a turbine of about 5 kilowatt cost about 20,000 pounds per unit, similar to a small family car, though such cars had 200 times as many components as the turbine.

“The key is the volume,” Murley said. “If the volume reaches 5,000 or 50,000 units…suddenly the costs of that is much less than the car.”

Evanc’s Allen agreed, saying: “If we made the technology we have today in high volumes, we could bring the costs down by as much as 80 percent.”

“If it all went up to the same volume as solar PV (photovoltaic), it will be about 10 times as cost effective…I would like to think that we would be able to reach that point within the next 5-10 years,” he added.

Reporting by Nao Nakanishi; Editing by Angus MacSwan, REUTERS, November 19, 2009.

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Can Alternative Energy Save the Economy and the Climate?

BRIGHTON, Colo. – The low-carbon economy has already arrived on the windy prairie north of this fast-growing Denver ‘burb. It’s here that Danish wind-turbine giant Vestas converted 298 acres of hayfield into the West’s largest turbine factory – and turned Brighton into a magnet for “green” energy companies.

It’s part of a $1 billion investment by the company in the United States, what Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter touts as a “new energy economy.”

“We have a caseload of 56 prospects. Of those, a majority are energy-related industries,” said Raymond Gonzales, president of the Brighton Economic Development Corporation. “People are looking. They’re not slowing down. And they’re aggressively looking at the United States.”

Some say these efforts – not the upcoming Copenhagen climate treaty talks – provide the most promising route to energy independence, climate change mitigation and job creation.

Regardless of whether delegates emerge next month with a comprehensive replacement for the Kyoto Protocol, industry’s full-throttle acceleration toward a low-carbon future will continue, they say.

Vestas isn’t the only company spending millions of its capital. Several utilities are investing some $1 billion on an industrial-scale carbon capture and storage tests at coal plants in Wisconsin, West Virginia and Oklahoma. The race to perfect the batteries that will power the next generation of automobiles and buses has manufacturers in Europe, the United States and China scurrying to build plants and research centers.

“The vast majority of the utility industry (has) pretty much accepted the reality that CO2 is something they have to cope with,” said Revis James, director of the energy technology assessment center for the Electric Power Research Institute, or EPRI, a California-based nonprofit that helps drive long-range development and is coordinating carbon capture experiments at coal plants in the Midwest and Southeast.

Failure in Copenhagen won’t “substantially stop what’s going to happen,” James added. “The utilities have to deal with (carbon emissions). They have to respond one way or another.”

Many business leaders and policy analysts counter the status quo – a piecemeal, federated approach to carbon and energy emissions – doesn’t carry enough of a signal to produce the revolution required of our economic and energy sectors.

Private-sector investments and regional and local government efforts to boost “green” technology are good, they say. But that’s just the down payment: The transformative change necessary to avoid the worst warming won’t come until the international community firmly sets a global standard in place.

“What you want is something sustainable, predictable and long-term,” said Roby Roberts, spokesman for Vestas Americas. “That’s what you want out of the climate rules, but that’s going to be a few years away.”

Article Continued at http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=copenhagen-consequences-investments-low-carbon

Scientific American, November 13, 2009.

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