Fishermen cast their nets over a flooded paddy field on the outskirts of Agartala, the capital of India’s northeastern state of Tripura, May 26, 2010. [REUTERS/Jayanta Dey]
Ancient farming seen curbing extinctions of animals, plants
Ancient farming practices, such as raising fish in rice paddies in China or Aboriginal Australian fire controls, will get a new lease of life under plans to slow extinctions of animals and plants, experts said on Monday.
Turning to traditional farming is seen as a way of limiting what U.N. studies say is the worst spate of extinctions since the dinosaurs vanished 65 million years ago, driven by a rising human population that is wrecking natural habitats.
Ethiopia approves 3 new solar projects
Global Trade Development Consulting and its Project Development Partner, Energy Ventures, both US companies, announced that they have been awarded the contract by the Ethiopian Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy and the Board of Directors of the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation to build, operate, and transfer three 100-MW solar farms in Eastern Ethiopia.
Solar PV Electricity generating systems are emerging renewable energy technologies and can be developed as viable option for electricity generation in future. This project also improve the provision of power supply in terms of quantity and quality through the enhancement of generation capacity mix of the Ethiopian national grid system and reduction of system losses and provision of alternative electricity green energy solution. The Integrated energy policy of Ethiopia envisages electricity generation installed capacity of more than 20,000 MW by 2020 and substantial contribution would be from renewable energy, resource.
Ethiopia is in the initial set of countries in President Obama’s “Power Africa” initiative. In addition to the needed power generation capacity, this 300 Megawatt Solar Project will contribute to economic development resulting in the creation of more than 2,000 construction jobs that would inject additional revenue to the Ethiopian economy. Ongoing plant operations would yield several hundred new jobs as well.
According to the Honorable Minister Alemayehu Tegenu, Minister of Water, irrigation and Energy for the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia in Addis Ababa, “this project represents a significant advance in our Ethiopian energy initiative and is now part of our comprehensive Energy Plan. Given Ethiopia’s large hydro-electric generation capacity and now wind and geothermal power generation coming on-line, large scale solar fits nicely into our energy portfolio and will provide significant power generation capacity much faster than the other renewable technologies. We welcome this project with open arms.”
"We spent months analyzing the potential for a large-scale solar project in Ethiopia. We found that Ethiopia has some of the highest solar irradiance factors in Africa," said Dr. Yonnas Kefle CEO of GTDC. He added, "As with all our projects, we intend to maximize the amount of local resources in the performance of this project."
Ms Tigist Mamo, COO of GTDC, emphasized that “the project performance which is so far accelerating in the right direction intends to engage local resources while working to ease the existing energy problem.” According to Ms. Tigist, Ethiopia needs the Solar PV Electricity generating systems to enhance its fast social and economic development.
"We are excited to be the Project Developer leading this important project for Ethiopia. The powers that this project will deliver have a dramatic effect on millions of Ethiopians’ quality of life," said Lynn R. Hogg, Founder and CEO of Energy Ventures. [x]
Fuel Cell Bus Comes Online In Netherlands
The world of hydrogen fueling stations and vehicles which make use of them expanded slightly recently courtesy of a new installation in the Netherlands. Besides servicing new prototypes of hydrogen buses, the location at the Automotive Campus NL in Helmond will be used to fuel a small fleet of garbage trucks.
The hydrogen station, and the new bus prototypes, both make use of applicable technology from hydrogen systems provider Hydrogenics. It consists “of a 20 ft containerized water electrolyzer that includes a water treatment system, gas purification, cooling system and a 350 bar dispenser to supply up to 65 kg of clean hydrogen fuel per day.” This will change within the next few months, being expanded to “include a 700 bar dispenser to make it suitable for passenger cars.”
The bus prototype, meanwhile, comes from VDL Bus & Coach, a major Dutch bus manufacturer, and is rather unique in that it “incorporates an energy power plant where the only interface to the vehicle is a 600 VDC cable connector and a vehicle communication port.” This power plant is, of course, driven by a fuel cell power module, courtesy of Hydrogenics.
Even as this pilot program goes on, other hydrogen activity is happening as well in this small European nation. Last year, for example, students from Delft University of Technology built and raced a hydrogen powered electric race car. [x]
Hyundai provided its ix35 fuel-cell car as part of a unique and sustainable city garden in London.
This lamp absorbs 150 times more CO2 than a tree
It’s still in the “so crazy it just might work” stage, but these microalgae-powered lamps, invented by French biochemist Pierre Calleja, could absorb a ton of carbon from the air every year. That’s as much as 150 to 200 trees. [x]
The Sunjammer will monitor solar activity and demonstrate the validity of relying solely on low-cost, propellantless solar winds for spacecraft navigation.
Recycled plastic bags might have medical use
Plastic shopping bags might have a valuable future, first blasted in a furnace at more than 800 degrees Celsius and then possibly turned into materials able to deliver targeted cancer treatments, among other things.
Researchers at the University of Adelaide have found a way to recycle non-biodegradable bags into a material with such tiny particles they can only be seen under a microscope.
Professor Dusan Losic from the School of Chemical Engineering says the carbon nanotubes had valuable properties.
"They are hundreds of times stronger than steel, they have excellent electrical properties," he said.
"They can be used for new electronic devices, they can be used for solar cells, for batteries.
"They’re also used for making new tennis racquets."
IKEA: Residential Solar Panels To Go On Sale At Stores In Britain
Swedish flat-pack furniture giant IKEA will start selling residential solar panels at its stores in Britain, the first step in its plan to bring renewable energy to the mainstream market worldwide.
The company started selling solar panels made by China’s Hanergy in its store in Southampton on Monday. It will sell them in the rest of Britain in coming months, it said.
A standard, all-black 3.36 kilowatt system for a semi-detached home will cost 5,700 British pounds ($9,200) and will include an in-store consultation and design service as well as installation, maintenance and energy monitoring service.
"In the past few years the prices on solar panels have dropped, so it’s a really good price now," IKEA Chief Sustainability Officer Steve Howard told The Associated Press. "It’s the right time to go for the consumers."
The solar panel investment will be paid off in about seven years for an average home owner in Britain, Howard said.
"If you are going to be in your house that long, your energy will be free after seven years," he said.
Some retailers in the U.S., including the Home Depot and Lowe’s, already sell solar panels. But in other parts of the world, consumers often have to research a myriad specialist firms before making a purchase.
Howard said IKEA aims to launch the products in other countries eventually. It picked Britain as its test market because it has the right combination of mid-level electricity prices and government-sponsored financial incentives that make investing in solar energy attractive to consumers.
"This is a market by market decision," he said.
The U.K. government offers private solar panel owners the opportunity to sell back electricity to the grid on days when they have surplus production and has a financing plan for solar power investments, which means residents can buy a system for no upfront cost and pay it off gradually. [x]
'Wired Microbes' Generate Electricity from Sewage
Engineers at Stanford have devised a new way to generate electricity from sewage, using naturally occurring “wired microbes” as mini power plants, producing electricity as they digest plant and animal waste.In a paper published in PNAS, co-authors Yi Cui, a materials scientist, Craig Criddle, an environmental engineer, and Xing Xie, an interdisciplinary researcher, call their invention a microbial battery.
SA’s First Grid-Connected Solar PV Plant
Norway-based Scatec Solar announced on Monday that it had completed its 75-megawatt solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant in Kalkbult in the Northern Cape three months ahead of schedule, making it first project under South Africa’s renewable energy programme for private producers to be grid connected and operational.
Scatec Solar was one of 28 independent power producers that signed contracts with the government late last year, in the first round of a programme that will see an initial 1 400 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy being added to South Africa’s energy mix, while bringing an estimated R47-billion in new investment into the country.
The Department of Energy aims to bring 17 800 MW from renewable sources online by 2030.
Scatec Solar has been awarded three projects with total capacity of 190 MW under the government’s programme. Construction of its next two projects, located in the Northern and Eastern Cape, has started and completion is expected by the middle of next year.
The completed Kalkbult plant consists of more than 312 000 solar panels mounted on 156 kilometres of substructure, inverters, transformers and a sub-station.
Kalkbult’s electricity will be sold to state company Eskom through a 20-year purchase agreement. According to Scatec Solar, the annual production of 135-million kWh will cover the electricity demand of 33 000 households, while reducing the country’s carbon dioxide emissions by almost 115 000 tons per year.
"The South African authorities are committed to implementing an ambitious renewable energy programme, and we find great satisfaction in being able to contribute to its success through our own projects, which we have actively been developing in South Africa over the last four years," Scatec Solar CEO Raymond Carlsen said in a statement on Monday.
"This country boasts some of the best conditions for solar power in the world, and the annual output of 135-million kWh produced at the Kalkbult plant will benefit both the region and the local community in which we operate." [x]
UN ‘Champions of the Earth’ prize honours individuals fighting for the environment
Entrepreneurs, policymakers, activists and academics from around the world are among the winners of the United Nations ‘Champions of the Earth’ award, which recognizes those whose work has had a positive impact on the environment.
Recipients of the award took action to combat some of the most pressing environmental issues, ranging from deforestation and food waste to climate change and poverty.
“Leadership and vision will be the hallmarks of a transition to an inclusive green economy in developed and developing countries alike. That transition is under way and has been given fresh impetus by the outcomes of last year’s Rio+20 Summit,” said the Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Achim Steiner.
“This year’s Champions of the Earth are among those who are putting in place the actions, policies and pathways to scale-up and accelerate such transformations. As such they are lightning rods towards a sustainable 21st century.”
Scotland gives go-ahead to Europe’s largest tidal energy array
The Scottish government said on Monday it has given consent on for work to begin on the largest tidal energy project in Europe in Pentland Firth, which separates the Orkney Islands from mainland Scotland.
MeyGen Limited, a joint venture between investment bank Morgan Stanley, utility International Power and tidal technology firm Atlantis Resources Corporation, will install the 86-megawatt (MW) tidal array in stages, starting with a 9 MW demonstration project.
"When fully operational, the 86 megawatt array could generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 42,000 homes - around 40 per cent of homes in the Highlands," said Fergus Ewing, Scotland’s energy minister.
"This exciting development in the waters around Orkney is just the first phase for a site that could eventually yield up to 398 MW," he added.
Due to the strength and speed of its tides, the firth was once called the “Saudi Arabia of tidal power” by Scotland’s First Minster Alex Salmond.
However, research in July showed that the proposed tidal turbines in Pentland Firth would generate much less power than previously estimated.
The University of Oxford said the maximum that Pentland Firth could produce would be 1.9 gigawatts, with 1 GW a more realistic target - far below previous estimates of 10-20 GW.
The Scottish government also said on Monday that tidal power developers Aquamarine Power Limited and Pelamis Wave Power will share 13 million pounds ($20.6 million)of funding from the Scottish government’s marine renewables commercialization fund.
This will enable the firms to develop their technologies so they can successfully deploy the first wave arrays. [x]
French carmaker Renault set to partner Bollore to boost its presence in electric cars
The partnership would apply to the use of charging stations and batteries, Le Figaro said, without citing its sources.
Renault, which currently buys lithium batteries from South Korea’s LG Chem, might also design a vehicle using Bollore’s lithium-metal-polymer technology, the paper added.
Renault and Bollore declined to comment.
The Bollore family firm is behind Autolib, the electric car-sharing scheme that has won 100,000 clients since it was launched in Paris in late 2011. [x]
PLUS Compound Technologies and ROXY partner to launch 100% recyclable flip flop
PLUS Compound Technologies (“PLUS”), inventor of PLUSfoam®, a 100% recyclable material built for performance and comfort, today announced a partnership with Roxy to release new zero-waste, 100% recyclable flip flop that will be sold in retail locations around the world beginning in Spring 2014.
The women’s flip flop features a cool and sporty design perfect for beach days and trips to the pool. A printed foot bed pairs well with a color-contrasting strap and cushioned outsole for comfortable daily wear. As with all PLUSfoam products, the Roxy flop called “Kiwi” will be non-microbial, non-absorbent and eligible for reclaim at any of the PLUSfoam facilities around the world.
“Along with making one of the most comfortable sandals on the market, conveying the closed-loop story to the Roxy consumer was of utmost importance for this project” said Mike Carr, Associate GM at PLUSfoam. “The Roxy team included ‘recycle @ PLUSfoam.com’ on the outsole, inside the sandal strap and on a separate hang-tag that is also made with PLUSfoam. It has become apparent from their strong pre-book numbers that retailers and consumers alike value this closed-loop story.”
Cathey Curtis, Global Marketing at Roxy, stated, “Roxy has always been committed to making product that allows our girls to live their fun and adventurous lives. Our footwear is a part of that commitment. We are excited to partner with PLUSfoam to make the Kiwi, a style of flip flop, a signature Roxy product.”
Using PLUSfoam® in just one product can make a huge difference at the manufacturing level. “Anyone who has been to a manufacturing facility in China within the last 20 years has seen the piles of post-manufacturing scrap first-hand”, says Brett Ritter, CEO at PLUSfoam. “Our goal at PLUS is to eliminate these piles while producing the best possible performance-based products. With Roxy getting on board, we’re collectively making a difference”.
PLUS Compound Technologies operates reclaim facilities in the US, Canada, Europe, China, Korea and Japan where any products made with PLUS Compounds can be returned and recycled. “The ability to close the loop on our products is something we offer to all our brand partners”, says Carr. “In the past year we have opened reclaim facilities in Europe, Canada and Japan, each of which has added to our global network and our ability to prevent valuable material from winding up in trash cans, incinerators and waterways around the world”. [x]
A wave power generator that can harvest energy no matter which way the sea is running has won the UK round of James Dyson’s engineering award.
The Renewable Wave Power generator seeks to overcome the limitations of some current wave power technologies.
These work best when struck by waves travelling in one direction and are less efficient in more turbulent seas.
The generator uses loosely coupled pistons to reap power from tidal waters that flow unpredictably.
The win means that Sam Etherington, who created the generator, gets £2,000 to create a bigger prototype that will undergo tests in water tanks to prove its efficacy.