October 30, 2008
In today’s economy, going green brings in the green for many businesses.
Some companies profit from making the world better for the future by manufacturing products that lessen our dependence on fossil fuel and decrease emissions. By selling these products, they help the planet and create a profitable business. For other companies, going green brings in the green because it saves them money. For example, by using low-energy LEDs rather than conventional lighting, businesses are saving 80 percent in energy consumption over conventional lighting. In these scenarios, everyone wins.
Ebay is one company that has saved money by lessening its water consumption footprint. Smart water management delivered a “green” multiplier effect for the corporation. In other words, they saved not only by lowering the water bills, but also by saving energy, lowering carbon emissions, lowering sewer bills, cutting down on landscape replacement and by protecting the local ecosystems.
The electronics industry is increasing their recycling efforts, according to the Consumer Electronics Association. In this way, electronics companies are decreasing the piles of electronic waste in the landfills, while saving themselves money in purchasing raw materials.
Companies with an interest in going green are also saving money by using e-billing and cutting down on paper in offices. Just as the IRS has saved thousands, and perhaps millions, by encouraging taxpayers to utilize the more efficient electronic tax return, companies who bill electronically save paper, postage, and manhours that are normally spent opening mail and processing checks. With ebilling, payments are deposited directly into the company account.
Particularly with the current economic climate, going green makes great environmental sense, and it also makes great economic sense.
October 26, 2008
In China, nothing is done on a small scale. The rate of growth and industrial development is staggering. Ancient villages are being replaced by rapidly-growing cities at a rate that is unbelievable. With 1.3 BILLION inhabitants, everything in China is huge. Just to provide perspective, there are 40 million children under the age of ten in China. That’s the same number as the entire population of Canada! Shanghai, the largest city in China, is double the size of New York, and its high-speed train travels twice the rate of speed that the U.S. version travels. Again, for perspective: that’s half the speed of an airplane.
Providing energy for this explosive growth, burgeoning industry and huge population is a constant concern for the people of China, and the people of the world. Increasing demand for fossil fuel from this nation is one of the factors causing rising energy costs worldwide, since China, like most developed nations, cannot meet its own energy demands. China imports crude oil from all around the world, but recognizes that this rate of consumption and growth cannot continue. As a nation, they are planning for the next generation of energy production: Wind power.
The Global Wind Energy Council says that China’s installed wind energy capacity could reach 122GW by 2020. The potential exploitable resource available is estimated at 1000 GW. Gigantic wind energy projects were constructed in Northern China in the past two years, with an estimated capacity of 1GW. Other projects are being developed in western provinces such as Gansu and Qinghai to meet the demand locally. These projects reflect a decision by the central government of China to make wind an important alternative to fossil fuels, a secure energy supply, and a way to combat greenhouse emissions.
Wind turbine manufacturers from around the world look at China as an important customer. GE, Gamesa, and Vestas are all investing in Chinese projects, as are domestic Chinese companies such as A Power Energy Generation (APWR), Nantong CASC, Repower North, Nordex, and Hunan Hara XEMC Windpower. Only GE, Vestas and APWR are listed in North America. APWR recently signed 50 wind turbine contracts and expects a total annual production capacity of 1.1 GW by 2009.
October 25, 2008
One of the big concerns about Solar energy is how to store it. That’s a valid concern. So far, batteries are large, heavy, environmentally messy, and need replacing every 4 years or so. Well, that’s actually the best case scenario, the GOOD version. Fact is, the batteries are often much more problematic than that, require a lot of maintenance and repair/exchange during those four years as well. What, then, are the answers? Well, if you’re on-grid, you can sell it back to the power company. What if you’re off-grid?
A couple concepts come to mind. One is a capacitor. We’d have to figure out a way to do a controlled discharge of the electricity, but large capacitors are nowhere near as heavy, nor do they damage the environment the way that lead batteries do. The other is to store the heat from the sun, not just electricity. There is a french company making a VERY well insulated hot water heater, for example. Their 6′x6′ panel, combined with that water heater, keeps water steaming hot all night long! The savings would be enormous… and no electric bills in the meantime! And it’s not only feasible in warm-weather places. Cold weather places still get the sun’s rays as well. Just takes a bit of effort and ingenuity to use the sun’s rays to our benefit all the time!
October 25, 2008
Tax Incentives for Alternative Energy Technologies Create Jobs!
True story. The bailout bill of 2008 included some $150 billion in alternative energy incentives. Not only do those keep solar and wind farms viable, but they also stimulate growth in many other sectors as well. Take a look at Tesla Motors, the California-based company producing electric cars. Building electric vehicles may seem like space technology or something for the uber-rich, but it’s not. In fact, even though there have been a few rough starts, Tesla’s plant in Northern California means thousands of new jobs being created to manufacture those vehicles… and not just the sports car either! Tesla and others are building cars that will retail for about $16,000 and take you to and from work and the store on pennies a day!
Wind and Solar farms will also create new jobs, and even more technologies to utilize them and convert our existing devices and technologies over to electric use. Many of the cars we already have can be repowered to work as full-time electric cars. There’s even a company making cars that run on compressed air! Those awesome innovations and far more are ahead, spurred into existence by these Federal tax incentives and state and local government investments into alternative energy sources. It really is amazing how much we can do, and how quickly we’re doing it, now that we’ve begun to put our heads to it!
October 23, 2008
Did you hear? Seems New Jersey is going to lead the way in wind turbine electricity. They’ve ordered a billion dollars worth of wind turbines, which they’re having installed 20 miles offshore. The expectation is that these turbines will be able to provide electricity for 250,000 to half a million homes (depending on the time of day, and the homes’ consumptions.)! That’s a lot of juice!
Why so far off? They wanted to avoid the whole NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) objection. From that distance, it’ll take one heck of a clear day to see anything at all. Even on a clear day, they’ll be tiny little things, wafer-thin, and nothing for anyone to object to. There may even be more (and more consistent) wind that far out offshore, which would mean greater production.
Way to go, New Jersey! The governor may be going out a very little bit on a limb by placing them offshore like that, but it’s hardly a new method. Fact is, they’re already in existence in Europe. Flying out of Amsterdam towards the UK and the United States, one can see the offshore wind farms as the plane climbs out. They’re actually quite streamlined, not at all ugly. The waters there are shallow, though. Perhaps the placement is also taking the water’s depth and other conditions into consideration as well. The state is to be commended for taking the initiative. It’s about time the East coast was one to lead the charge towards environmentally friendly actions!
October 23, 2008
Kyocera is one of the top suppliers of solar energy products around the world. One of the greatest appeals of Kyocera Solar is their vertical integration. They know solar intimately, and are involved in the development, manufacture, installation and upkeep of solar panels and products.
Kyocera’s solar division has its headquarters in Scottsdale, Arizona, and has regional sales offices around the Americas and Australia.
Customers of Kyocera around the world have improved their lives because of the solar electricity provided by the electric systems Kyocera produces. The panels are often installed in third world countries where energy production is limited. Families often light their homes, use a telephone, or experience television for the first time after a solar energy system is installed. Sometimes these systems allow a family or a village to drink clean water for the first time.
The advantage of these panels is that they can be installed anywhere, meaning they are not tied to the traditional electric grid. This opens up incredible possibilities for providing electricity to remote and underserved areas.
Kyocera Solar has two major divisions; one that works with industrial customers and one that works with Kyocera Solar’s fleet of authorized distributors and dealers around the world. These dealers create relationships and solve energy problems for individual homeowners.
Kyocera Solar is part of the Kyocera Corporation with headquarters in Kyoto, Japan. Read more
October 23, 2008
The Electric Drive Transportation Association (EDTA) is sponsoring the premiere event for presenting all research, development and discussion of all electric drive vehicles. All kinds of vehicles will be represented, including battery powered, plug-in, hybrid, and fuel cell at the Electric Transportation Conference and Exposition.
The EDTA conference is scheduled for December 2 – 4, 2008 in Washington, D.C. at the Convention Center.
Industry exhibitors will be showcasing the latest developments in sustainable transportation, as the speakers and conference attendees look at the dangerous impact of petroleum dependency on transportation, the economy and the environment.
This meeting will facilitate discussion and seek to implement strategies that will ensure a secure and sustainable transportation sector in the long term.
Speakers at the conference come from the academic, the industrial, political, and energy branches of the electric transportation world. Some of those who will make presentations at the conference include Dr. J. Ronald Bailey, Guerry Professor of Engineering at UT Chattanooga, Mark Aubry, National Sales for Smith Electric Vehicles, and J.J. Brown, from the office of Senator Orrin Hatch.
This conference is unique in that it brings together professionals concerned with all aspects of transportation, including researchers, educators, designers, policy makers and end users. By providing a forum for all stakeholders in the electric transportation community, this conference will help shape the future of efficient, secure and clean electric drive transportation.
October 22, 2008
The $700 billion Federal bailout for the financial sector didn’t simply address banks, bad paper and worthless mortgages. The bailout bill as passed by Congress and signed by the president also had “sweeteners” added to make it more palatable to Senators and Representatives. One of those sweeteners was a group of tax credits for businesses that produce renewable energy and homeowners who conserve energy.
Businesses who produce fuel cells are one group that benefits from the new law. The law provides a tax credit of 30 percent to any person, group of people or company that purchases fuel cells. Since fuel cells don’t combust, using more fuel cells will provide a cleaner environment. Companies dealing with wind and solar power also get breaks with this new law.
Homeowners may benefit from the new law as well. If a taxpayer installs solar panels on his or her roof, they are eligible for a 30 percent tax credit. There is no limit on this perk, while in the past there was a maximum of $2,000.
Another tax credit encourages energy efficiency from current homeowners. A credit for making a home more efficient was extended for another year. The credit was set to expire. Those who purchase energy efficient appliances such as a biomass stove or an efficient water heater can qualify for the tax break. Contractors building new homes who use highly efficient systems for heating and cooling or hot water will also qualify for a credit of up to $2,000.
A manufacturer who makes energy efficient appliances, like refrigerators, dishwashers and clothes washers, also qualifies for tax credits.
The last group set to benefit under the new law are those who own a plug-in electric vehicle. Those owners may qualify for up to $7,500 in tax credit. This credit begins to phase out after more than 250,00 of the cars are sold in the U.S. Read more