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Uncategorized | Green and Alternative Energy Information

UrbanTile Window Blind Concept

Each and every day, the sun showers our cities in solar energy. Every night, our cities emit light so bright that they can be seen from space. An industrial designer from the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem, Israel, has designed a concept device called the UrbanTile that would harness the solar energy city buildings absorb during the day for their lighting needs at night. The UrbanTile is a small solar panel that can be flipped to reveal a light emitting screen. Banded together into rows, the panels become a window blind that forms a light and entertainment display.

The panels would made from aluminum and stainless steel with an OLED screen on one side and a photovoltaic panel on the other. Incorporating electrical motors to move them, they could be programmed to turn automatically at different times of the day. Designed to be mounted into windows, the panels could be turned to rest at various angles allowing light in during the day whilst absorbing solar energy. In the evening, the OLED screens would be turned to face indoors to light up rooms and also provide a bank of screens for media playback. At night…

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Will China make the world green?

Joschka Fischer was never one to mince words when he was Germany’s foreign minister in the late ’90s and early noughts. So it is not overly surprising that he has painted a picture in a new post of a world with only two powers — the United States and China — and an ineffective and divided Europe on the sidelines.

More controversial, however, is his view that China will not only grow into the world’s most important market over the coming years, but will determine what the world produces and consumes — and that that will be green.

Fischer, who was leader of  Germany’s Green Party, reckons that due to its sheer size and needed GDP growth, China will have to pursue a green economy. Without that, he writes in his Project Syndicate post, China will quickly reach limits to growth with disastrous ecological and, as a result, political consequences.

This will have serious consequences on the the way the West lives.

Consider the transition from the traditional automobile to electric transport. Despite European illusions to the contrary, this will be decided in China, not in the West. All that will be decided by the West’s globally dominant automobile industry is whether it will adapt and have a chance to survive or go the way of other old Western industries: to the developing world.

This is not the usual view of China. Many greens have long feared the impact of a huge leap in Chinese growth on the global environment — refrigerators in a billion homes, cars in a billion garages etc.

So instead of killing the planet, is China set to save it?

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Mimicking nature, water-based ‘artificial leaf’ produces electricity

A team led by a North Carolina State University researcher has shown that water-gel-based solar devices — “artificial leaves” — can act like solar cells to produce electricity. The findings prove the concept for making solar cells that more closely mimic nature. They also have the potential to be less expensive and more environmentally friendly than the current standard-bearer: silicon-based solar cells.

The bendable devices are composed of water-based gel infused with light-sensitive molecules — the researchers used plant chlorophyll in one of the experiments — coupled with electrodes coated by carbon materials, such as carbon nanotubes or graphite. The light-sensitive molecules get “excited” by the sun’s rays to produce electricity, similar to plant molecules that get excited to synthesize sugars in order to grow, says NC State’s Dr. Orlin Velev, Invista Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and the lead author of a paper published online in the Journal of Materials Chemistry describing this new generation of solar cells.


The Difference Between Renewable and Sustainable

Via Campaign Against Climate Change

Climate change, renewable energy, green this, eco that … We are constantly flooded with information about the need to shift towards a different, planet-friendly economy in order to preserve the atmospheric condition in which life as we know it can thrive.

And it’s true.

However, the media is fragmented, conflicting interests clash and everyone is learning and making mistakes in the process. Just remember how much controversy there is about climate science and you get an idea as to how complex thinking about these issues, let alone writing and legislating about them, is.

The concept of renewable energy is also multi-faceted. Renewable, in the context of energy, refers to fuels whose supplies are not based on a finite reserve, like fossil fuels are. For instance, solar power is renewable because the sun will probably outshine the human presence on this planet for millions and millions of years

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Renewable energy investments – US behind China

According to the latest Ernst & Young ranking China has overtook the United States to lead a quarterly index as the most attractive country for renewable energy projects. To some people this may come as a surprise but to those who follow global energy market more thoroughly this shouldn’t be at all surprising.

There are several different reasons why China is currently an ideal destination for renewable energy investments and new renewable energy projects. Unlike United States China has national renewable energy policy, and China is definitely putting serious efforts to achieve its goal of generating 15 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

China is well aware that this goal can only be achieved by rapidly developing renewable energy market for its own manufacturers. China is world’s largest manufacturer of wind turbines and solar panels, and this is something that will likely last for many years to come.

China not only has enough capital to achieve its renewable energy goal but it also has strong government will, and large enough market to support more investments.


How Does Solar Impact Home Value?

Let’s be honest – in our current economic climate, undertaking extensive home renovation projects is probably not on the top of your list.  Consider holding the new fireplace or the underground swimming pool project for another year in favor of one home improvement that will not only drastically increase your property value, but also help you sell your home faster:

Installing Solar Panels.Why does solar increase your home value?

Imagine that your electricity was going to get more expensive and your utility would raise its rates at any given time. Imagine that national demand for that expensive electricity was going to keep growing, and had already grown 25% since 1990.  Finally, imagine that generating this traditional, expensive electricity was creating pollution and hurting the environment.

You’re not imagining. The above are all realities that explain why solar homes sell faster, and for more money. According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, a solar home will sell twice as quickly as a home without solar.

SunRun recently published a report on the impact of solar panels on home value. Here are the take-home points:

Homes with lower electricity bills sell fasterEnergy saving improvements increase potential resale value of propertyValue of solar system increase over time, as electricity prices increaseHaving home solar can be easy with third-party ownership, e.g. SunRun’s solar service modelSolar panels have location and timing advantages since your home’s electricity is produce on-site & production peaks when demand is highest (middle of the day).Want to learn more? Check out SunRun’s Solar Home Value Report for more in-depth analysis and statistics.

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Building-integrated photovoltaics

Building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) are by definition photovoltaic materials that are used to replace conventional building materials. What this means is that photovoltaic materials actually become an integral part of the building, and in most cases they are planned together with the object as its integral part though they can be also built later on.

The global interest in the building integration of photovoltaics is constantly growing, and in the last couple of years BIPV are being increasingly incorporated into the construction of new buildings as a principal or ancillary source of electrical power. Some energy experts even argue that BIPV is currently the fastest growing segment of the photovoltaic industry.

A Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) system’s main concept consists of integrating photovoltaics modules into the building envelope such as the roof, skylights, or facades. This means that BIPV not only serve as power generator but also as building envelope material, which in the end results in both savings in materials as well as reduced electricity costs.

A complete BIPV system consists of photovoltaic modules, a charge controller, a power storage system, inverter and other power conversion equipment, backup power supply, and different supporting equipment.


A second life for nuclear power in Germany

Germany is by many considered as one of the leading countries when it comes to supporting the development of renewable energy. Having this in mind, the latest report according to which Germany would extend the life of its nuclear reactors by 12 years on average, came as a rather big surprise.

Nuclear energy is always a controversial issue, and Germany is no exception so it’s really no surprise that this decision raised plenty of critics towards Chancellor Angela Merkel. Environmentalists and many energy experts believe that this decision was step backwards, and a hard blow for the future development of renewable energy.

Merkel defended her decision by saying that the decision to prolong life of nuclear reactors in Germany would really serve as a “bridge” until renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power can produce more of Germany’s power as it seeks to reduce dependence on coal. Merkel also highlighted that without the nuclear power Germany could may as well forget about its target of reducing carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050 from 1990 levels. On the other hand many environmentalists argue that this decision is all about yielding to powerful nuclear energy lobby.

Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen said that the nuclear reactors in older plants will be extended by eight years and those of newer ones by 14 years, and he also added that nuclear utilities would have to pay part of their extra profits boosted from the extension to develop renewable energy.

The recent polls and surveys in Germany have showed that majority of Germans opposed the idea of postponing the date that the country goes nuclear-free which makes this decision even more surprising.

Austria’s environment minister Niki Berlakovich was also very disappointed with such decision saying that “nuclear energy will not answer the problems related to climate or be a solution to reducing CO2 emissions because the future of energy supplies lies indisputably in renewable energy”.

The time period of 10-15 years may not seem so long, but this also means that in the next 15 years renewable energy will not only have to compete with fossil fuels but also with nuclear power, which will make things very difficult for renewable energy industry, and may seriously slow down the development of renewable energy in Germany.

Posted byNed Haluzan

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The Myth of Cheap Fossil Fuels – A Roadblock for Renewable Energy

by Ralf Sigrist, Nordex USA

Recently, when Senator Harry Reid put forth a “spill bill” rather than an energy bill, my theory that the energy debate in this country has been framed upside down seemed to be confirmed.

Arguments for renewable energy legislation have mixed messages on jobs creation with those of climate change, national security, energy independence and environmental disaster.  After two years of debate and millions spent in lobbying, no one has been persuaded.

Why? Because clean energy got stuck on the wrong side of the cost debate. Guardians of the carbon economy have promoted the axiom that traditional energy is cheap, renewable energy is expensive, and you can’t replace cheap with expensive, especially by way of the taxpayer. That’s the kind of flawed thinking that could allow Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell’s spokesperson to say “Republicans are more than happy to protect Americans from a job-killing national energy tax,” in reference to cap and trade.


CCS makes it into Oxford Dictionary of English

It’s not been a great year for greens, politicians and companies looking for progress on the fight against climate change. First came the disappointment at the Copenhagen meeting in December, then Senator Lindsey Graham pulled out of the Senate bill, then the Senate climate bill mutated into an oil spill bill —  and even that couldn’t get passed before the congressional August recess.

But climate backers might find a bit of happiness in the fact that bits of their lingo have officially made it into modern English discourse. Two climate related entries made it into the third edition of the Oxford Dictionary of English, which was published on Thursday.

Here are the entries: Carbon capture and storage – the process of trapping and storing carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels; and Geoengineering – manipulation of environmental processes in an attempt to counteract the effects of global warming. Try that last one in your spell checker!

Maybe it shows that the climate fight is not dead, but that it’s just begun.

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