lunes, febrero 25, 2008

BIOFUEL: Thailand worries over food shortages amid palm oil debate

Thailand has started requiring that all its diesel fuel include a component made from palm oil, a move that could reduce costly energy imports but is driving up prices for the commodity, experts say. From February 1, the kingdom began requiring that diesel vehicles run on a blend that includes two percent biodiesel, and is considering raising that to five percent within five years. The switch has sent prices for palm oil soaring, leading to shortages of the commodity that is widely used for domestic cooking and in the food industry.

Palm oil is among the products for which prices are controlled by the government, but as prices have risen globally, traders stopped selling to stores or began ignoring the fixed price.

That sounded alarm bells for producers and consumers, who urged the government to ban exports of palm oil and to adjust its price controls. Instead, the Commerce Ministry allowed a one-time import of 30,000 tonnes of palm oil to boost supplies until March, when production enters its peak season.

It also allowed a four-baht increase in cooking oil prices, to 47.60 baht (1.44 dollars) per litre.

Wannaporn Martkasem, chairman of the Palm Oil Refinery Association, said floating palm oil prices would help prevent a shortage in stores, but warned the government would have to find a better way to balance the competing demands for food and fuel.

"Palm oil prices are increasingly affected on the market because of the rising demands of palm oil for biofuel and consumer consumption," Wannaporn said.

Prices for crude palm oil have nearly doubled over the last year, jumping to 35.98 baht per kilo last month, up from 18.63 baht one year earlier.

A litre of cooking oil cost 36.32 baht in December 2007, up from 28.05 one year earlier.

Apichart Jongskul, head of the government's office of agricultural economics, said Thailand is already planning a 16 percent increase this year in land used to cultivate palm oil, expanding plantations to cover 1.4 million acres (566,000 heactares).

By 2012, that will grow to 2.2 million acres (890,000 hectares), he added.

The expansion would nearly double the amount of crude palm oil produced in Thailand, to 2.2 million tonnes, Apichart said.

"We prioritise palm oil for the food industry first. Energy and exports come second in our policy," Apichart said.

The increased production will be enough to meet the demand for both cooking and fuel as the two percent requirement kicks in, he said.

But Apichart warned Thailand would have to grow even more palm oil to have all diesel vehicles meet the five percent requirement.

Biofuel production is on the rise around the world as it is seen as a clean form of energy in an era of soaring oil prices and growing worries about carbon emissions blamed for climate change.

For Thailand, which imports most of its energy, biofuels also represent a way to cut its import bill while reducing reliance on overseas producers. But critics say biofuel is jacking up prices of basic food products by intensifying demand for agricultural produce. Environmentalists are also alarmed at the dramatic expansion of farmland to produce crops for biofuels, which they say may actually contribute to global warming because of the destruction of forests where trees store carbon dioxide.

Global palm oil prices have also soared because of its popularity as an ingredient in processed foods as a substitute for trans fats, which health experts believe encourage obesity and other ailments.

But Apichart said he believed prices had stabilised and would not rise much more.

"If palm oil prices rise too high, energy producers are more likely to prefer other energy sources with lower costs," he said.

Thailand's outgoing Commerce Minister Krirk-krai Jirapaet recently told reporters that he would coordinate with the agriculture and energy ministries to try to balance the competing demands for palm oil.

"The commerce ministry will look after issues concerning consumers," Krirk-krai said.

Source: Agence France Pressee

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JAPAN: Rich nations need 80 pct emission cuts

Japan, the European Union and the United States would each need to cut greenhouse gasses by more than 80 percent for the world to meet a goal of halving emissions by 2050, Japanese scientists said Thursday.
A summit last year of the Group of Eight rich nations agreed to "seriously consider" halving global emissions by 2050 in hopes of halting global warming.

To achieve such a goal, Japan -- which is already far behind in meeting its current commitments -- would need to cut emissions by 85 percent by 2050 from 1990 levels, said Norichika Kanie, assistant professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology.

His joint research with Yasuaki Hijioka, researcher at the National Institute of Environmental Studies, found that the United States would need to cut emissions by 88 percent and the European Union by 83 percent.

He made the calculations on the premise that all countries will emit at the same level on a per capita basis by 2050.

The United States has rejected the Kyoto Protocol, the landmark treaty requiring emissions cuts through 2012, arguing that it is unfair by making no demands on fast-growing polluters in the developing world.

The Japanese study found that China would need to cut emissions by 35 percent while India, whose current per capita emissions are small, could actually increase its output by 137 percent by 2050. But even if all countries achieve the daunting tasks, the average global air temperature will rise by 2.2 to 2.6 degrees Celsius by 2050, Kanie said.

"It may seem impossible to achieve such shocking and ambitious targets, but I think it is a matter of changing lifestyle and not necessarily in an austere way," Kanie said.

"For example, I often ride my bike instead of driving a car. If the government provided a more bicycle-friendly infrastructure, people's lifestyles will change for a low-carbon society," he said.

The Kyoto Protocol, signed in 1997 in the ancient Japanese city, requires rich nations to slash emissions by an average of five percent by 2012 from 1990 levels, with a different figure set for each country. A UN conference in Bali in December agreed to seal a new pact by the end of 2009 to spell out future commitments.

The European Union has unilaterally set a goal of slashing emissions by 20 to 30 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels and has offered to go further if other major economies join the effort.

Source: Agence France Pressee

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THE AMERICAS: Global Clean Energy Holdings Tests Crude Jatropha Oil With Allegro Biodiesel

Global Clean Energy Holdings has delivered its first test shipment of Crude Jatropha Oil to Allegro Biodiesel Corporation's biodiesel production facility in Pollock Louisiana for processing into biodiesel fuel. Global Clean Energy Holdings is developing Jatropha plantations in Latin America.

The two companies have entered into a testing and processing agreement to convert Jatropha Oil into biodiesel fuel that meets all relevant ASTM and EU specifications.

"This is a very strategic agreement with Allegro. They are a very well respected processor and distributor of Specification Grade biodiesel and have considerable experience in utilizing a wide range of different feedstocks in their production process. They are logistically well located in Louisiana and can accept large shipments of Jatropha oil from us through various Gulf of Mexico ports," said Richard Palmer, Global Clean Energy's President and Chief Executive Officer.

The processing agreement provides for Global Clean Energy to ship Crude Jatropha Oil (CJO) to Allegro, and for Allegro to perform a full battery of tests on the raw feedstock in its Pollock, Louisiana, laboratory, process the Jatropha oil into biodiesel, and test the finished product to ensure it meets current standards.

It will also send product samples out to accredited laboratories for a full series of ASTM testing The feedstock and processed biodiesel will be further evaluated for direct processing in Allegro's facility along with its ability to blend with other feedstocks including RBD Soy, Crude Degummed Soy and others, a strategy designed to reduce Allegro's overall future production costs and improve its profit margins, while providing Global Clean Energy Holdings with access to the US biodiesel market.

"Since we began operating our plant in April 2006, Allegro has been a pioneer in the biodiesel industry," said Bruce Comer, CEO of Allegro. "The recent Energy Bill mandates greater development of biofuel resources at a time when competition for feedstock has increased key commodity prices. Jatropha oil and other alternative feedstock choices represent the next chapter in biodiesel fuel production.

"We are very excited about the potential for Jatropha oil from Global Clean Energy to reduce our overall production costs. Given recent price spikes for soy, canola and palm as biodiesel feedstock, we believe alternate non-food based feedstocks will be essential to growth in the biodiesel industry.

"Jatropha oil has very good qualities that makes it a good biodiesel feedstock source. We are confident that Jatropha oil will blend well with other feedstocks to produce a high grade biodiesel while addressing the on-going concern of utilizing food for fuel."

Jatropha oil is derived from the Jatropha curcas plant. The plant is a perennial plant which can live for over 30 years, and produces high quality inedible seed oil. The plant grows in marginal soils that may not be suitable for food production, and is drought and pest resilient, making it an attractive alternative to more costly and production limited edible feedstocks which must be replanted every year.

The seeds of the plant yields 32% to 37% oil by weight compared to other common feedstocks such as soybeans, which yield 18% to 22%.

Jatropha has added virtues as a more environmentally friendly and efficient feedstock compared to expensive food based commodities. Per hectare, Jatropha can yield between 2.0 to 3.0 tons of oil whereas soybeans yield 1.2 to 1.5 tons, offering improved finished biodiesel output per acre of feedstock farmed. As an oil producing tree, Jatropha may qualify for various carbon credits under the Kyoto protocol, for additional profit potential to growers.

Source: SPX
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domingo, febrero 24, 2008

BIOFUEL: Virgin inaugura los vuelos con biodiésel

Nueces recogidas de la Amazonia ayudaron a alimentar el domingo el primer vuelo comercial del mundo cuyo carburante procedía en parte de energías renovables. Un jumbo de Virgin Atlantic voló entre Londres y Amsterdam con uno de sus depósitos lleno de una mezcla biodiésel, que contenía entre otros aceite de babasu y de coco.

"Hoy celebramos un avance vital para toda la industria de la aviación", dijo el fundador de Virgin Richard Branson a los periodistas en el hangar de Heathrow antes de la salida del vuelo.

No obstante, el multimillonario británico dijo que era poco probable que las nueces o las palmeras de babasudesempeñaran un papel clave mientras las aerolíneas se cambian a las fuentes renovables para recortar la emisión degases de efecto invernadero de la industria.

"No queríamos usar biodiésel como aceite de maíz que compite con fuentes de alimentación básica", dijoBranson, añadiendo que creía la fuente de energía más probable de la industria eran algas producidas en lugarescomo plantas de tratamiento de basuras.

El biodiésel, que actualmente se produce de cultivos como granos, aceites vegetales y azúcar, es considerado unmodo de reducir las emisiones de los gases de efecto invernadero y reducir su dependencia de los combustiblesfósiles.

No obstante, preocupa que la expansión de los cultivos para energía haya elevado los precios de los alimentos, yalgunos científicos han cuestionado los beneficios del denominado biodiésel de primera generación.

Muchos científicos creen que el biodiésel de segunda generación, que podrían hacerse de productos comodeshechos municipales, proveerán más beneficios ambientales sin competir con cultivos para alimentación. La mezcla en los vuelos de Virgin contiene un 20 por ciento de biodiesel y un 80 por ciento de carburantenormal. Branson dijo que las pruebas habían demostrado que era posible volar hasta con un biodiésel en el 40 porciento de los depósitos.

Source: El Economista
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TECHNOLOGY: Sunovia Announces National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Solar Applications Contract

Sunovia Announces NASA Solar Applications ContractSunovia Energy Technologies and EPIR Technologies are pleased to announce the execution of an agreement with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for the development of advanced high-efficiency, ultra-lightweight solar cells with thicknesses reduced by a factor of more than ten as compared to those currently in use.

These cells will be used to power spacecraft and, in some cases, for propulsion in all NASA science missions, including the Comet Surface Sample Return (CSSR), Comet Nucleus Sample Return (CNSR), and Mars Sample Return (MASR) missions. The contract leverages EPIR's vast experience in the development of advanced light detection devices and extensive expertise in what is commonly referred to as II-VI materials.

Light-detection devices and solar cells are very similar, both being designed to efficiently convert light into an electric current and differing primarily in the intensity of light available. In detectors, the current generated is used as a signal to detect the light while in solar cells the current generated is used to generate power.

On January 30, Sunovia and EPIR announced the execution of an exclusive partnership that allows them to focus their talents within specific fields of expertise for the benefit of each company. The expertise within the companies in areas including II-VI materials, light detection, infrared imaging, systems integration, detector arrays and infrared (IR) sensors provides them with a marked advantage in the development of solar photovoltaic (PV) and semiconductor technologies that can be transferred to cutting-edge products.

The companies are working on a unique II-VI solar PV technology with encapsulates that they believe will produce an energy conversion efficiency approaching 30 percent. That technology will build on EPIR's pioneering leadership in the growth of II-VI materials on Si for IR detectors and cameras.

Further, the companies announced today the execution of an agreement that provides each company with a 10 percent equity ownership in the other. The mutual ownership further solidifies the relationship of the companies initially established by the exclusive partnership.

Terms of the exclusive partnership include an equal share of ownership in any and all developed intellectual properties (patents, copyrights, unique processes, etc.), and Sunovia received the exclusive marketing rights to any and all products, existing and future. This includes solar PV, infrared, biosensors, LEDs and other advanced products and technologies.

Sunovia and EPIR are developing high-efficiency solar PV technologies and advanced encapsulates based on II-VI materials that eliminate the need for many of the glass encapsulates that are prevalent in today's market.

In addition, the companies are working on a transparent and electrically conductive encapsulate that could eventually eliminate the requirement for contacts on the solar cell. A number of system considerations, including weight and rigidity, make glass an impractical and inefficient system solution for solar encapsulation within the renewable energy market.

Bob Fugerer, Sunovia's president, said, "The contract with NASA is great news for our shareholders and investors, and we are proud to be working with EPIR to develop advanced technologies for the United States that will improve our country's satellite and space technology systems. Our partnership with EPIR has truly enhanced our R and D efforts and I am confident that our shareholders will understand the value of this incredible organization, and its founder Dr. Sivananthan, as we move forward. The contract with NASA is a great testimony to the technology capabilities and proven track record of success for which EPIR is well known in the industry."

Source: SPX

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NEW TECHNOLOGY: Ricardo Inc., Develops Next-Generation Wind Energy

Massachusetts-based wind energy company General Compression and its compressor technology partner Mechanology are using Ricardo's automotive engineering and development expertise to develop technology which aims to make wind power as reliable as conventional power.

With energy security and global warming at the very top of the political agenda in all parts of the world, renewable energy resources are increasingly seen as an important contributor to the future of regional and national grid power supplies. Of the potentially large-scale renewable energy resources wind is perhaps the most universally available, as virtually every part of the earth's surface experiences the natural force of the wind.

However, as the wind is subject to the vagaries of the weather and as such is inherently unpredictable, wind energy has traditionally been seen as an intermittent source of electrical power. General Compression's proprietary Dispatchable Wind system carries the descriptive tagline 'wind energy on demand' because it decouples wind energy capture from electrical power generation by substituting the electric generators in its wind turbines with advanced compressor systems linked to a central high pressure compressed air reservoir at each wind farm.

The reservoir acts as an energy buffer, storing compressed air which can be passed through an expander plant in order to generate electricity whenever it's needed - not just when the wind is blowing.

Dispatchable Wind is based on the use of the innovative, high energy density Dragonfly compressor under development by Mechanology, Inc. Ricardo has been chosen by Mechanology to be one of its key product development partners to assist in developing the Dragonfly such that it will meet or exceed the rigours of round-the-clock operation with an expected life in excess of 20 years.

Ricardo is applying its well-proven product engineering skills and practices in areas such as design optimization and material selection, performance modelling and analysis, mechanical dynamic analysis, reliability and robustness engineering, design for manufacture and cost optimization.

"Increasing energy efficiency has been a prime focus at Ricardo for many years," said Ricardo Inc. President Dean Harlow.

"Our deep engineering experience places us in an ideal position to assist in the development of the high energy density Dragonfly compressor. General Compression's goal of making wind power available on-demand with its Dispatchable Wind system signals a major advancement in the practical application of this important renewable energy source.

"For Ricardo, it is yet another opportunity to apply our advanced engineering skills and technology to address global energy issues in a range of rapidly developing industrial sectors."

Ricardo, the Eco-Innovation Technology Company, is a leading independent provider of technology, product innovation, engineering solutions and strategic consulting to the world's automotive, transport and new energy industries. The company's skill base represents the state-of-the-art in low emissions and fuel-efficient powertrain technology, and can be best summarized: "Ricardo is Fuel Economy."

Source: SPX|by Van Buren Twp
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UNITED STATES: New Geothermal Power Supply On Steam For Millions In Northwest Nevada

Vulcan Power Company has announced the G3 Power Plan, a preliminary plan for green grid transmission upgrades to deliver a "green gigawatt" (1,000 megawatts) of clean geothermal power to Los Angeles and Las Vegas from massive natural steam zones located in northwest Nevada.

Scientists at the Great Basin Center for Geothermal Energy at University Nevada Reno estimate that 2,500 megawatts (MW) of geothermal natural steam exists in northern Nevada, according to the recent press release of director Dr. Lisa Shevenell. This clean steam fuel could generate power for 2.5 million people, corroborating the US Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) observation that Nevada is the "Saudi Arabia of Geothermal".

There has already been about 240 MW of geothermal online in Nevada for 15 years, which is evenly split between Nevada and California utility buyers Sierra Pacific Resources and Southern California Edison Company, the nation's largest renewable power purchaser.

But new green grid upgrades are needed for Nevada steamfields to grow up to 2,500 MW, supplying a "green gigawatt" (1,000 MW) each to California and Nevada. Seven companies with advanced sites have been selected to supply progressive Nevada and California utilities with about 500 MW of geothermal, with over half utilizing these grid upgrades.

"The geothermal genie," said Vulcan board member Sandy Lonsdale, "is being held hostage by antiquated transmission lines from northern Nevada to California and southern Nevada."

Lonsdale is also the former president of the Juniper Chapter of the Sierra Club. He is Chairman of Vulcan's Native Restoration Fund (NRF) which plans to give 5% of Vulcan project income back to fund habitat restoration and tribal restoration projects. NRF was the brainchild of the Vulcan CEO and Jon Wellinghoff, a former Vulcan board member and current Commissioner of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. "The green grid can be a win-win for the land and Americans both in rural areas and our cities," he added.

Vulcan's CFO, Bryan Urban, has previously managed large power and transmission projects as CFO of Panda Energy, who financed and built $5.5 billion of successful power projects. "New geothermal projects are attracting finance community support," Mr. Urban said.

He added, "Merrill Lynch Commodities invested $35 million in Vulcan. Vulcan now has a $100 million institutional private placement underway. Vulcan has a large portfolio of geothermal contracts and owns one of the largest geothermal property positions in the nation, with resources independently rated at over 700 MW."

"G3 Plan transmission economics are very compelling," said Vulcan board member Richard Rodgers, a former senior banker at Bank of America. "Geothermal is a bargain for California, particularly when compared to new gas fired power, believed to cost $0.096 per kWh. The first 1,000 MW of new geothermal could justify building about $4 billion worth of grid upgrades and doubling that output justifies $8 billion in upgrades."

Cost estimates for the G3 Plan are expected in the second quarter of 2008 while very preliminary "Green Tap" budget estimates have been received. Electranix recently estimated a 500 MW tap on the 3,100 MW Pacific DC Intertie line in Nevada will cost $125 to $180 million and a 1,000 MW tap from $170 to $250 million, depending on design, location and if it connects with Sierra Pacific to provide counterflow power to Nevada.

G3 benefits also include the economic and environmental benefits of clean power, which exceed $18 billion and nearly 2 billion gallons of groundwater savings per year.

The G3 Plan team includes former transmission planning executives Jim Kritikson of SCE and Robert Jackson of SDG and E, DC line specialist Electranix and Ed Evatz, former deputy director Nevada USBLM. Ed Evatz said, "the G3 Power Plan welcomes stakeholder comments, ideas and questions by email or shared at local small town meetings that G3 will be scheduling. The team has held meetings and is contacting other stakeholders in both states."

Source: SPX

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MEXICO: will soon allow only energy-smart homes

Mexico will soon allow only energy-smart homes to be built in the country, and plans to have 30,000 such units up and running by 2011, Environment Secretary Juan Rafael Elvira said Friday.

"In two or three years all traditional home construction will come to an end, and all new homes will be built with new materials and energy-sustainable standards," Elvira told a foreign press conference.

He said the government project will begin with a federally-funded pilot program to build 30,000 energy-smart homes in the next three years that will help establish the criteria for energy efficiency construction.

The initiative is part of a global project to build by 2012 one million energy-smart homes that will save the planet one million tons of carbon dioxide emissions, he added.

He said the new housing will be equipped with energy-smart devices such as solar water heating, low-energy fluorescent lights, high-efficiency appliances and low-flow plumbing fixtures.

The 30,000-home pilot program will be aimed at people "who make daily wages of 200 pesos (18 dollars), while the federal government will provide support of 22,000 pesos (some 1,900 dollars) to the interested parties," Elvira said.

He said the cost of each energy-smart home will range from 120,000-240,000 pesos (up to around 21,000 dollars).

The secretary said a separate energy-smart-home building program is planned for the southern state of Chiapas to help relocate thousands of people made homeless by the massive floods of October and November.

Source: Agence France Pressee

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UNITED STATES: After US pulls plug, future unclear for 'clean coal'

After US pulls plug, future unclear for 'clean coal' The US government's decision to end funding for a "zero emissions" coal-fired power plant project has cast doubt over the future of "clean coal" to meet growing global energy needs.

The US Department of Energy in late January decided to pull the plug on funding for the FutureGen project launched in 2003 to demonstrate how coal can be burned cleanly, with carbon emissions stored underground in a process known as sequestration.

Government officials say they remain committed to the idea of clean coal, but a public spat with a public-private alliance raises doubts about any viable project.

FutureGen, a partnership with utilities and coal companies in the US, China, Europe and Australia, announced Thursday it would continue to pursue the project despite the loss of an estimated 1.1 billion dollars in US government funding, or some three-fourths of the project.

The project, which last year selected a site at Mattoon, Illinois, "is in the best position to move ahead with the urgency that the energy and climate challenges demand," FutureGen chief executive Michael Mudd said.

"The board wants to move forward with the project," said FutureGen spokeswoman Carly Baker.

"They believe it is in the best interest of the public."

But FutureGen officials said they would continue to work with the US Congress and administration officials in an effort to secure funding.

US Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman argued that FutureGen no longer needs taxpayer support.

"Innovations in technology and changes in the marketplace have created other viable options," Bodman wrote in a letter to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "That diminished the need for a demonstration project."

But FutureGen officials disagree. Baker said the project is developing methods "to get the technology that could be used in future plants around the world."

"There's no other plant," she said, which uses both coal gasification and carbon capture and sequestration to virtually eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, she said.

Coal has been blamed by environmentalists as a major culprit in global warming because of its high level of carbon dioxide emissions.

But it supplies about half the electric power needs in the United States and two-thirds of energy needs in China, since it costs less than most alternatives and both countries have ample domestic supplies.

President George W. Bush has long been a backer of clean coal technology, and some studies suggest coal could be competitive with other energy sources even with new technology to remove carbon and other pollutants.

Senator Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, said the administration's decision to turn its back on FutureGen after years of planning was a "cruel deception."

Julie Ruggiero, a spokeswoman for the Department of Energy, said the administration remains committed to clean coal efforts but wanted to change course in face of a project with "escalating costs," much of which were to be assumed by the government.

"Coal is our nation's most abundant energy resource, and we want to burn coal more cleanly," Ruggiero told AFP. "This administration has invested over 2.5 billion dollars since 2001 on clear coal research."

Ruggiero said the administration is seeking to restructure FutureGen to establish "multiple commercial sites" and "a better balance of taxpayer and private share" of costs.

Deputy Energy Secretary Clay Sell said the government began reassessing its role after "I learned early last year that the cost estimates for this project had nearly doubled."

Sell said FutureGen would place the government at risk by surrendering the plant to mortgage holders if any of the private companies defaulted.

"Ultimately, we could not come to an agreement with the FutureGen Alliance as to how to restructure the existing project and, ultimately, we believed that the public interest mandated that we restructure our overall approach to accomplish the objectives of the FutureGen effort," Sell told a conference call of journalists.

The deputy secretary said there are over 33 plants that are being proposed using the new technology to store carbon underground.

"This fact, this changing underlying market dynamic, underpins why we believe our new approach is fundamentally better to advance the state of carbon capture and sequestration," he said.

Source: Agence France Pressee

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SOUTH KOREA: The i-Blue Fuel Cell Concept Makes North American Debut

SOUTH KOREA: The i-Blue Fuel Cell Concept Makes North American DebutHyundai's new hydrogen-powered, zero-emission concept, the i-Blue Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV), debuted in North America at the 100th edition of the Chicago Auto Show. Developed at Hyundai's Design and Technical Center in Chiba, Japan, the i-Blue concept illustrates the design direction for a future FCEV production model. The all-new i-Blue platform features Hyundai's third-generation fuel cell technology, currently being developed at Hyundai's Eco-Technology Research Institute in Mabuk, Korea.

The i-Blue demonstrates a significant step towards commercialization of Hyundai fuel cell vehicles. Unlike its predecessors which were built on production SUV platforms, the i-Blue features a new, purpose-built 2+2 crossover architecture.

The i-Blue is powered by a 100 kW electric engine and fuel cell stack. Fueled with compressed hydrogen (700 bar) stored in a 115-liter tank, i-Blue is capable of running more than 370 miles per refueling and achieves a maximum speed of more than 100 miles per hour.

The i-Blue's fuel cell stack is housed underfloor, not in the engine compartment as in the second-generation Tucson FCEV. This gives the car ideal 50:50 weight distribution for optimal driving and handling dynamics, as well as better air flow and cooling. Like other fuel cell vehicles, i-Blue's only emission is water vapor.

The i-Blue FCEV has a dynamic and elegant exterior design, resembling TaeKuk, which is based on the philosophy of Ying and Yang, in which opposite forces are unified in perfect balance to create something new. The i-Blue's body was styled by unifying two distinct geometric forms -- the square and the circle -- thereby creating a rhombus-like shape. The character lines of the front and rear fender add chiseled detail to an otherwise rounded body sculpture.

i-Blue employs the latest advancements in technology to ensure driving safety. Drivers of the i-Blue will be excited about the innovative, aircraft-like steering wheel that integrates touch-scroll control pads, enabling the driver to keep his hands on the wheel while operating the vehicle's audio-visual systems. The 3D vision heads-up display (HUD) also adds safety and convenience by providing essential information for the driver at eye level.

The outside environment is constantly projected through the vehicle's full-surround camera system. Using the latest image processing techniques, the vehicle's monitoring system provides a virtual picture of the vehicle and its surroundings, including hidden obstacles the driver may not see.

Many more future convenience features from Hyundai, such as side- and rear-view monitors, along with a liquid crystal display for gauges and multimedia controls are shown on the i-Blue concept vehicle as well.

Hyundai Motor Company is at the forefront of advanced technology research. In September 2005, Hyundai celebrated the grand opening of its Eco-Technology Research Institute in Mabuk, Korea, which houses all R and D on environmentally friendly technologies, concentrating Hyundai's efforts to develop alternative powertrains in one state-of-the-art facility.

In the United States, Hyundai has been a member of the California Fuel Cell Partnership (CaFCP) since 2000. Hyundai's first-generation Santa Fe and second-generation Tucson FCEVs have both been tested at the Partnership's facility in Sacramento, Calif.

In 2004, Hyundai began a partnership with Chevron Corp. and UTC Power to initiate a 32-vehicle fleet testing program. This five-year cost-sharing program is sponsored by the United States Department of Energy. Hyundai is working toward mass production of hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles in the next decade.

Source: SPX
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NORTH AMERICA: Activists want polar bear on endangered list before Alaska oil sale

Activists want polar bear on endangered list before Alaska oil sale Animal activists on Monday pressed the US government to add the polar bear to the list of endangered animal species before the sell-off of oil and gas drilling rights in Alaska begins in the coming days.

"An endangered listing can affect the sell-off of the oil drilling rights," Brandon Frazier, a spokesman for global animal welfare group International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) said.

"The authorities would have to get approval through the Fish and Wildlife Service to conduct drilling if there is an endangered species that inhabits the area."

The US government is due on Wednesday to offer several million acres of polar bear habitat in the Chukchi Sea in Alaska for sale for oil and gas exploration leases.

The lease-sale would make the polar bears' habitat "vulnerable to big business interests and jeopardize the government's ability to protect it," IFAW said in a statement.

US lawmakers have proposed listing the polar bear as "threatened", but IFAW said that did not go far enough.

"A 'threatened' listing leaves open the possibility for exemptions and doesn't shut loopholes, such as the one that allows Americans to trophy-hunt for polar bears in Canada and bring their heads and hides back to the US," Frazier told AFP.

But listing polar bears as endangered before the sell-off of the drilling rights it would also "truly complicate getting the lease-sale in Alaska," he added.

"That's why the decision on listing the polar bear has been delayed," Frazier said.

The US Fish and Wildlife Services last month announced it was putting off a decision on listing the polar bear as a threatened species until after the sell-off of oil and gas drilling rights in Alaska.

"They are trying to wait it out, get the lease-sale through and then make the decision," said Frazier.

"That way, they could list the lease-sale as an exemption," he added.

Last month, US officials insisted the sale of drilling rights posed no threat to polar bears and said they planned to go ahead with the sell-off before a decision is taken on adding the polar bear's status. The US government estimates crude oil reserves under the Chukchi Sea at 15 billion barrels.

Source: Agence France Pressee

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sábado, febrero 16, 2008

STOCKS: Yingli Green Energy Disappoints Optimistic Investors

Solar stock Yingli Green Energy is experiencing more than 3 times its usual put option volume today, as investors have flocked to load up on bearishly oriented options on the company. Most notably – with February options set to expire in a matter of hours – Yingli's February 27.50 put has seen 2,661 contracts cross the tape on open interest of 3,642, while the February 25 put has traded volume of 1,270 contracts on open interest of 2,331.

The preference for put options in today's trading is likely a direct result of YGE's recently reported fourth-quarter earnings. The company earned the equivalent of $19 million, or 15 cents per American Depositary Receipt (ADR), during the recently concluded quarter. Revenue increased to $199.2 million. The numbers fell short of many analysts' expectations, and the stock was down about 11% at last check.

The selling mood has extended throughout the entire solar sector today. Even First Solar (FSLR), fresh off its own well-received earnings report, is nearly 3% lower as we head towards the close.

However, it looks as though an earnings disappointment was nearly inevitable, considering the wealth of bullish sentiment surrounding Yingli. For starters, the Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio has declined steadily since the beginning of 2008, and now rests at 0.55. This reading reveals that calls are nearly twice as popular as puts among near-term options.

Analysts are also enthusiastic about YGE's prospects. Zacks reports that the shares have garnered no less than 7 "strong buys" from brokers, compared to 2 "holds" and 1 "sell." This top-heavy configuration leaves the stock vulnerable to downgrades, especially in light of today's weak report. In fact, some brokerage backlash has already hit the stock today. Morgan Stanley reiterated its "underweight" rating on the shares, with analyst Max Lee noting, "...if we consider the likely margin pressure from rising raw material costs, there will likely be no earnings growth in the first half of the year."

So far, YGE's losses have been contained by the stock's newly supportive 10-day and 20-day moving averages. However, a longer-term look at the shares reveals that YGE's 10-week and 20-week trendlines recently completed a bearish cross, which could serve as stiff resistance to turn away any future rally attempts.

And short-covering support is unlikely to give the shares a lift – short interest on YGE declined by nearly 15% during the most recent reporting period as many bears took their profits off the table. It would now take less than 1 trading day for this meager accumulation of shorted shares to be fully repurchased.

Overall, the combination of bullish sentiment with bearish price action – not to mention disappointing fundamentals – suggests that YGE shares could be subject to continued selling pressure during the near term.

For more commentary on today's market-moving news from me and my colleagues Andrea, Jocelynn, Mark, Joseph and Beth, please visit our Schaeffer's Daily Market Blog section throughout the trading day.

Source: Schaeffersresearch|by Elizabeth Harrow

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viernes, febrero 15, 2008

GERMANY: Berlin is the Capital of Solar Technology in European Union

Berlin's Adlershof district is striving to become the place to be when it comes to solar technology. In Europe's largest science park, the experiment to merge science and industry is now taking off.

Located on the eastern outskirts of Berlin, Adlershof is a quick 20-minute train ride from the city center. In GDR times Adlershof was Berlin's celebrated socialist science mecca. So when Germany's reunification threatened its further existence, the area embarked on an experiment: the creation of a science park, merging solar technology research with solar industry, in one winning equation.

Since 1993, Berlin has invested billions of euros in the area -- billions the heavily indebted city doesn't have. But Adlershof's public relations manager, Peter Strunk said it was money well-invested in a bold vision, born of necessity.

"This science park project was created to prevent us from social catastrophe after reunification," Strunk said. "There were so many research facilities located here so instead of closing them down, a decision was made to create an integrated landscape of science and business, to re-establish those industrial structures that had to be dismantled."

A pioneering urban project
The science park is embedded in Adlershof's overall urban planning concept, covering over four square kilometers (1.5 square miles). Its fresh urban landscape is still so new that it looks like a city whose virtual, graphic animation existence has simply been mounted onto the material world.

Adlershof is stream-lined and squeaky clean, with no mom and pop shops, quirky corners, or rough edges to add a bit of charm and irregularity to its neat, urban profile. Its main avenue is strewn with sleek, modern buildings of glass and steel housing scientific institutions and high tech companies.

Off the main strip are freshly-plowed streets named in honor of science icons, like Albert Einstein and Max Born. And there's 66 hectares (163 acres) of land still left undeveloped, waiting to be sold, or rented.

Staying on top
One research institute with a long tradition in Adlershof is the Hahn-Meitner Institute. Klaus Lips, the scientist leading thin-film solar cell reseach at the institute, was educated in Marburg, Germany, worked in Colorado, but returned to Germany when offered a position here. Lips said Adlershof is a solar scientist's paradise, due to the close proximity of research and industry, and the unique, open dialogue and collaboration that exists between the two.

"We work together with companies and establish network projects in which researchers, industry, and university students work together," Lips said, pointing out that the synergy of Adlershof's solar community especially benefits the upcoming generation of solar science researchers.

"Our young students have excellent job opportunities here, because upcoming companies are looking for trained people," he added.

Success story
The solar cell company Sulfurcell's founding in 2003 was based on research done on at the Hahn-Meitner Institute. The company started small, but now employs 100 engineers and factory operators to manufacture thin-film, CIS solar cell modules and solar roof tiles. Sulfurcell's CEO Nikolaus Meyer is a scientist-turned-businessman, involved in the research that led to the company's creation, and stands firmly behind his product.

"CIS stands for copper indium disulfide, a new semi-conductor that allows you to use a very thin, conductor layer on glass to produce electricity," Meyer said.

Sales of Sulfurcell's initial production have been so successful that plans are underway to erect a larger, more automated production plant this year. Meyer said he is confident he'll be able to bring down the price of his product, to compete with the prices of conventionally produced power within the next five years.

Meyer said it would have been impossible to set-up and operate his company anywhere but Adlershof. He said the constant support and input of the area's research institutes are what keep his product state-of-the-art, and thereby competitive.

Slowly getting noticed
In the former East Germany, the Institute for Silicon Crystal Research enjoyed close ties to the Humboldt University's science faculties nearby, and much of the institute's current staff are Humboldt graduates.

Recently the institute's research growing silicon crystals layers directly onto glass panels caught the attention of the international energy company British Petroleum, which is now financing their further research.

This month, Solon, Germany's largest solar cell company, also moved its extensive operations to Adlershof. A new start-up company named Inventux is beginning operations there, and two major US solar power companies have shown recently interest in investing in the area.

On a roll
Lips said he's convinced that German advances in solar technology will enable the country to supply 25 percent of its electricity needs with solar power alone, within the next two decades. Meyer from Sulfurcell said he believes clean-tech and renewable energy will be Germany's major industries, in the future.

"We have seen only the beginning of this industry, and that the technology developed in Germany, is creating an excellent foundation for the future success of the industry," he said.

If Adlershof's solar industry continues to grow at its current rate, it has the chance to become the place to be for all significant solar technology players, and Europe's first solaropolis, in the years to come.

Source: DW News| By Leah McDonnell

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jueves, febrero 14, 2008

UNITED KINGDOM: British plans for wind turbines contested by defence ministry

Britain's defence ministry has raised objections over proposals to ramp up the proportion of the country's energy produced by wind farms, because of concerns over the impact of the turbines on military radar, The Times reported on Monday.

A spokesman for Britain's business ministry conceded there had been "issues" regarding potential sites for wind farms, and military radar systems.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD), however, insisted that all applications for new wind farms would be assessed on a "site-by-site" basis.

"The MoD is committed to government targets for renewable energy and whenever possible we seek to work with wind farm developers to find a mutually acceptable solution," an MoD spokesman said.

According to The Times, the defence ministry has objected to at least four proposed sites for wind farms on Britain's east coast because they make it impossible to spot aircraft.

The newspaper noted that, in written evidence to a planning inquiry in October, Squadron Leader Chris Breedon, a senior ministry expert, wrote that wind turbines disrupt radar coverage so that aircraft flying overhead cannot be detected, and noted that this occurred "regardless of the height of the aircraft, of the radar and of the turbine."

Just two percent of Britain's energy comes from renewable sources at present, and wind produces only half a gigawatt of power -- the government hopes to increase that to 33 gigawatts by 2020.

Source: Agence France Presse

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miércoles, febrero 13, 2008

SPAIN: José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero se compromete a un mayor esfuerzo económico en energía y biomedicina

El presidente del Gobierno, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, se ha comprometido a aumentar en la próxima legislatura el esfuerzo en investigación en energías renovables y en biomedicina con recursos públicos y con seguridad normativa.

Zapatero, que ha visitado acompañado del presidente andaluz, Manuel Chaves, la plataforma solar de Abengoa en Sanlúcar la Mayor (Sevilla), ha recordado que tenía una "deuda" con el grupo industrial sevillano para visitar esta planta y la ha puesto como ejemplo de "capacidad innovadora, de visión de futuro" y "de capacidad de país para estar en el liderazgo" de este sector. Asimismo, ha garantizado que el Gobierno está decidido a que "ningún interés, y puedo asegurar que hay muchos y poderosos, ponga freno, límite o genere equívocos y mensajes distorsionantes sobre la fortaleza, rentabilidad y capacidad de las energías renovables" para contar con economías más sólidas, innovadoras y respetuosas.

Ha asegurado que los "países ganadores a medio plazo serán los que se alejen de la economía del carbono y los que no se acerquen a la energía nuclear y apuesten de forma prioritaria por las renovables".

El presidente del Gobierno ha expresado su decisión de comprometer más recursos públicos y de dotar de más seguridad normativa al sector tras reivindicar, en el mismo acto, el presidente de Abengoa, Felipe Benjumea, el desbloqueo de algunas proyectos del grupo y un marco normativo estable. Tras denunciar que "la presión de quienes defienden energías fósiles pueden llenar de dudas a responsable de administración", ha expuesto que la "paralización del mercado normativo" ha obligado a Abengoa a tener parada la planta de bioetanol en Salamanca.

Asimismo, en relación a la energía termosolar Felipe Benjumea ha dejado claro que, si la administración no aumenta el límite de megawatios de potencia total a instalar, "no podrán construirse nuevas centrales". No obstante, ha valorado el "éxito" de la labor desarrollado por el gobierno en investigación, si bien ha incidido en que es necesario desarrollar un marco normativo.

Zapatero ha felicitado de forma "efusiva" a Abengoa y a la Junta por contar en Andalucía con empresas líderes en el mundo y ha subrayado la "impresionante" transformación de esta comunidad. Asimismo, ha indicado que estamos delante de una nueva revolución industrial o económica que consiste en el tránsito de la economía dependiente del carbono a la de las energías renovables" y ha abogado por agilizar al máximo ese cambio. Para afrontar esa nueva revolución España ha aprovechado bien los últimos cuatro años, en los que ha aumentado en un cincuenta por ciento la producción de energías renovables y ha multiplicado por 2,5 el gasto en I+D+I hasta acercarse a 8.000 millones.

El presidente de Abengoa Solar, Santiago Seage, ha destacado que la plataforma de Sanlúcar la Mayor es la más grande del mundo y la más avanzada tecnológicamente y cuando funcione totalmente, lo que está previsto para 2013, podrá abastecer de energía limpia a una ciudad como Sevilla y evitar las emisiones que generan al año entre 70.000 y 150.000 coches.

El proyecto, denominado Solucar, supone una inversión total de 1.200 millones y la creación de 1.000 empleos asociados a la fase de fabricación y construcción de la plataforma, y unos 300 para el servicio y mantenimiento conjunto de las centrales.

Source: EFE
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domingo, febrero 10, 2008

EMIRATES: Una ciudad sostenible en Abu Dhabi. MASDAR

Manuel Torres LaveagaLa empresa Abu Dhabi Future Energy, se encargará de planificar y desarrollar una urbanización MASDAR, como plan piloto en el emirato de Abu Dhabi que estaría pensada para que genere cero emisión de carbono. Contará con unas elevadas tasas de autoabastecimientos energético además de su presente eficaz gestión del consumo, alcanzando ahorros de 60 por 100 en el suministro hidrológico en comparación de urbanizaciones actuales colindantes, además esta ciudad utilizará energía solar y sus residentes no se desplazarán en automóviles, sino en cabinas que se moverán sobre cintas magnéticas.

En este momento se encuentran en la etapa para sindicar el financiamiento de esta obra sostenible, ya que se tiene estimado tendrá un costos cercano a los 22 millones de dólares, por otra parte están pensando en hacer co participes a empresas de países mas desarrollados en los que puedan capitalizar los instrumentos arropados en el protocolo de Kyoto, pensadas para la sinergia entre distintos actores para la reducción de emisiones de carbón. El proyecto es apoyado por la organización conservacionista World Wildlife Fund.

Via: Gulf Daily News

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EUROASIA: Turkey embraces wind power

In an era of record high oil prices, many countries increasingly are turning to alternative fuels, including biofuel, solar energy and wind power. This pattern is typically pronounced in Turkey, forced to import more than 90 percent of its energy needs, with energy suppliers that are not only expensive, but erratic.

In 2006, Turkey spent $29 billion on energy imports, primarily from Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Russia. High prices and fickle suppliers have stimulated Turkey's growing interest in wind power.

Turkish interest in alternative fuels has been spurred by recent events. Turkish natural gas imports come primarily from Russia via the South Stream pipeline and Iran. On Dec. 31, Turkmenistan halted its deliveries of natural gas deliveries to Iran, citing the need for urgent pipeline repairs. The cutoff subsequently forced Iran to reduce its gas exports to Turkey by 75 percent, from 20 million cubic meters to 5 million cu. m., as inclement weather increased domestic demand, disrupting Iran's domestic gas distribution. Tehran subsequently claimed that Turkmen action was, in fact, a retaliatory move over proposed price increases. Iran then stopped shipments completely Jan. 8, leading Ankara the next day to halt the flow of Azeri gas to Greece because of the suspension of gas supplies from Iran.

Turkey is Iran's sole export market for natural gas, but the relationship has not been smooth, again due to disputes over price. The Turkmen incident had a feeling of deja vu, as in January 2006 Iran halved its supplies of natural gas to Turkey to around 7 million cubic feet per day, citing "climactic conditions" and increased domestic need, while in December 2006 it temporarily shut off supplies completely.

During the most recent dispute, Turkey turned to Russia with a request for additional natural gas supplies, but was rebuffed. Instead, Moscow also reduced exports, citing severe weather. As natural gas powers half of Turkey's power stations, state pipeline company Botas was forced to tap reserves in its gas depot near Silivri, Turkey's sole gas-storage facility.

The incident has provided further incentives to Turkish efforts to seek alternatives. A measure of Ankara's determination to free itself from the grip of avaricious, erratic energy suppliers is a dramatic rise in governmental interest in wind power, which is illustrated in government figures. While in 2006, wind power in Turkey generated 19 megawatts of electricity, last year Turkey's 10 wind farms produced nearly 140 megawatts, a 736 percent increase.

Turkey's interest in renewable energy dates back to 2005, when the Turkish Grand National Assembly passed a renewable energy law harmonizing government legislation with European Union legislation to support renewable sources, including wind power. The new law provided a government guarantee to purchase electricity at a set price for seven years.

Marmara University Energy Department Associate Professor and World Wind Energy Association Vice President Tanay Sidki Uyar recently said that if Turkey properly developed all of its renewable energy potential resources, including solar, wind, hydroelectric and geothermal power sources, the country could become self-sufficient in energy. Uyar told, "Wind power could supply Turkey's electricity needs twice over within five to 10 years if the government had the political will to develop this sector." Uyar added, "We have terrific geographic conditions for solar and wind power in Turkey. Exploiting it is already economically and technically possible, but the problem is that the government favors fossil fuels and nuclear energy."

Epitomizing Ankara's determination to become energy self-sufficient is a contract signed last July with General Electric for 52 of its latest generation of wind turbines with a generating capacity of 2.5 megawatts apiece. The GE 2.5xl is the largest GE wind turbine available for onshore applications and is specifically designed to meet EU requirements, where the relative lack of available land is a significant constraint on project size. While previous wind park projects were primarily situated in Turkey's western regions and the Aegean coast, the 130-megawatt GE wind power project in southeastern Turkey will be the world's largest installation of GE latest 2.5xl wind turbine technology and will more than double Turkey's installed wind capacity.

Turkey is not limiting itself to U.S. suppliers; on Jan. 30, Turkey's Rotor Energy Co., a subsidiary of Zorlu Energy, signed a contract with Ecosecurities to build a wind power plant in the southern province of Osmaniye. The Osmaniye facility, scheduled to come online in 2009, will initially generate about 135 megawatts daily, with an annual capacity of 500,000 megawatts.

Ankara is not moving on the issue as swiftly as alternative energy advocates would like, however; proposals to build wind farms with a total operating capacity of 8,000 megawatts is still awaiting government approval. Ankara has already issued about 40 licenses for wind parks, each with an installed 20-60 megawatt capacity.

The future looks bright for alternative energy companies, as the Turkish government intends to privatize a significant proportion of the country's primarily state-owned energy and gas supply companies over the next few years. Given the "pipeline politics" that Turkey has recently endured with its fickle natural gas suppliers Russia and Iran, Ankara's move toward alternative energy makes both fiscal and ecological sense.

Source: United Press International |by John C.K. Daly

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sábado, febrero 09, 2008

WESTERN HEMISPHERE: Converting land for biofuel worsens global warming

Clearing raw land to produce biofuels actually contributes to global warming by emitting large amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, researchers warned Thursday.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from new croplands carved into rainforests, savannas, wetlands or grasslands would easily surpass the overall amount of CO2 emissions reduced through the use of biofuels, according to a report in the February 8 edition of Science.

"If you're trying to mitigate global warming, it simply does not make sense to convert land for biofuels production," said Joe Fargione, a founder of private environment protection agency the Nature Conservancy and co-author of the study.

"All the biofuels we use now cause habitat destruction, either directly or indirectly," he said.

"Global agriculture is already producing food for six billion people. Producing food-based biofuel, too, will require that still more land be converted to agriculture."

Converting land to grow corn, sugar cane or soy beans -- crops used in the production of biofuels -- creates a "biofuel carbon debt" by releasing 17 to 420 times as much CO2 into the atmosphere as the greenhouse gas reductions which the biofuels provide by displacing fossil fuels.

Carbon is stored in dead trees and plants as well as in the soil, and naturally seeps into the atmosphere in the form of CO2. Converting native habitats to cropland increases the release of CO2 into the air, the report said.

It would take years, and in some cases centuries, before biofuels derived from crops on converted land would lead to a net reduction of greenhouse gases, according to the report.

The researchers calculated that in Indonesia, where wetlands are being converted to grow palm oil to produce biofuels, it will take 423 years before biofuel CO2 emmission savings would repay the carbon debt caused by the land conversion.

"We don't have proper incentives in place because landowners are rewarded for producing palm oil and other products but not rewarded for carbon management," said report co-author Stephen Polasky, an applied economics professor at University of Minnesota.

"This creates incentives for excessive land clearing and can result in large increases in carbon emissions."

An incentive for carbon sequestration or a penalty for carbon emmissions is needed in order to slow CO2 emissions and environmental destruction, Polasky said.

The researchers noted that strong growth in the demand for corn-based ethanol in the United States has led to the increasing destruction of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil.

To address the ethanol demand, US farmers have stopped rotating corn crops with soy, leaving their Brazilian counterparts to produce more soybeans to meet rising global demand, resulting in further Amazon deforestation, they said.

The report stresses that certain biofuels do not contribute to global warming because they leave the natural ecosystem intact, and that obtaining biofuels from biomass waste or forestry products such as wood chips causes less harm to the environment and is the aim of several scientists.

Source: Agence France Presse

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viernes, febrero 08, 2008

CALIFORNIA: Global Solar Energy Achieves 10 Percent Average Solar Cell Efficiency In CIGS

Global Solar Energy (GSE) has announced it is the first in the CIGS thin-film market to achieve an average of 10 percent solar cell efficiency on a flexible/lightweight substrate over several production runs. Global Solar Energy reached the milestone in December 2007, capping off a record year in which the company also manufactured and shipped 4 MW (megawatts) of photovoltaic material powering commercial, government, military and consumer products worldwide.

"In 2007, we saw a range of economic and environmental factors converge to create a substantial market opportunity for renewable-energy technologies across all facets of the economy," said Mike Gering, CEO of
Global Solar Energy . "Government, commercial and consumer demand for renewable-energy products and building materials are growing at a fast pace, thereby putting pressure on CIGS producers and other types of solar manufacturers to deliver high-efficiency products that are flexible/lightweight and lower cost per watt installed. We are proud to have reached such an important efficiency milestone-one on which we intend to improve to help meet the renewable-energy demands of our customers, partners and distributors worldwide in 2008."

Global Solar Energy began production of its CIGS thin-film solar cells on a flexible substrate in 2004, delivering an efficient product which was integrated into military and consumer products. Today, the company remains the leading CIGS flexible/lightweight thin-film manufacturer in full-scale production with stable manufacturing processes. As a result, the company produces high-efficiency solar cell technology that can be used in traditional rigid glass panels, as well as flexible applications that require more durability. Such applications extend over a broad range to include; energy, utility, building construction and design, government, military and consumer products.

"A number of CIGS thin film companies have exceeded 10 percent efficiency in the lab or in individual cells, but achieving 10 percent average solar cell efficiency over the course of several sustained, continuous production runs is a significant achievement," said Dr. Jeffrey Britt, Ph.D., vice president of technology. "This is the culmination of three full years of being in production and evolving our proprietary production techniques to continuously improve the efficiency and output of our production."

CIGS Thin-Film Technology
Global Solar has developed a proprietary process for manufacturing thin-film CIGS photovoltaic (PV) cells and modules. Unlike traditional solar panels that are rigid, heavy and fragile,
Global Solar Energy's thin-film solar modules are lightweight, flexible and durable. While other companies produce CIGS on glass, Global Solar Energy is the only company reliably producing CIGS that can be encapsulated in glass or a flexible substrate. CIGS creates more electricity from the same amount of sunlight than do other thin-film PV technologies and therefore has a higher "conversion efficiency" leading to lower cost. CIGS conversion efficiency is also very stable over time, meaning its performance continues unabated for many years.

Source: SPX

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TECHNOLOGY: Biomechanical. Knee Brace Generates Electricity From Walking

A new energy-capturing knee brace can generate enough electricity from walking to operate a portable GPS locator, a cell phone, a motorized prosthetic joint or an implanted neurotransmitter, research involving the University of Michigan shows. A report on the device is published in the Feb. 8 issue of the journal Science. Authors include researchers from Simon Fraser University in Canada and the University of Pittsburgh, in addition to U-M.

The wearable mechanism works much like regenerative braking charges a battery in some hybrid vehicles, said Arthur Kuo, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at U-M and an author of the paper.

Regenerative brakes collect the kinetic energy that would otherwise be dissipated as heat when a car slows down. This knee brace harvests the energy lost when a human brakes the knee after swinging the leg forward to take a step.

Kuo, who called the device "a cocktail-napkin idea," says knee joints are uniquely suited for this endeavor.

"There is power to be harvested from various places in the body, and you can use that to generate electricity. The knee is probably the best place," he said. "During walking, you dissipate energy in various places, when your foot hits the ground, for example. You have to make up for this by performing work with your muscles.

"The body is clever," Kuo said. "In a lot of places where it could be dissipating energy, it may actually be storing it and getting it back elastically. Your tendons act like springs. In many places, we're not sure whether the energy is really being dissipated or you're just storing it temporarily. We believe that when you're slowing down the knee at the end of swinging the leg, most of that energy normally is just wasted."

The scientists tested the knee brace on six men walking leisurely on a treadmill at 1.5 meters per second, or 2.2 miles per hour. They measured the subjects' respiration to determine how hard they were working. A control group wore the brace with the generator disengaged to measure how the weight of the 3.5-pound brace affected the wearer.

In the mode in which the brace is only activated while the knee is braking, the subjects required less than one watt of extra metabolic power for each watt of electricity they generated. A typical hand-crank generator, for comparison, takes an average of 6.4 watts of metabolic power to generate one watt of electricity because of inefficiencies of muscles and generators.

"We've demonstrated proof of concept," Kuo said. "The prototype device is bulky and heavy, and it does affect the wearer just to carry. But the energy generation part itself has very little effect on the wearer, whether it is turned on or not. We hope to improve the device so that it is easier to carry, and to retain the energy-harvesting capabilities."

A lighter version would be helpful to hikers or soldiers who don't have easy access to electricity. And the scientists say similar mechanisms could be built into prosthetic knees other implantable devices such as pacemakers or neurotransmitters that today require a battery, and periodic surgery to replace that battery.

"A future energy harvester might be implanted along with such a device and generate its own power from walking," Kuo said.

Source: SPX
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TECHNOLOGY: Screen-Printed Solar Cells

Members of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE are traveling to Tokyo with bulky luggage these days. Their destination is Nanotech 2008, the world's largest trade fair for nanotechnology. Their solar module, which they will be presenting in the BMBF marketing campaign 'Nanotech Germany', is the size and shape of a door: two meters high and sixty centimeters wide.

The key component of the new modules is an organic dye which in combination with nanoparticles converts sunlight into electricity. Due to the small size of the nanoparticles, the modules are semi-transparent. This aspect makes them well suited for facade integration. The solar module prototype manufactured by the researchers at Fraunhofer ISE is amber in color. It is possible, however, to produce the modules in other colors, or even to print images or text on the module so that it serves as a decorative element.

These design options open up an entirely new range of possible applications. Instead of mounting the solar module on the roof of a building, the electricity producer could be integrated in the glass facade. Used in this way, the new technology not only prohibits direct sunlight from entering the building interior but also generates electricity at the same time.

"We don't see the dye solar cell as being a rival to the conventional silicon cell," says Fraunhofer ISE physicist Andreas Hinsch. The module prototypes only achieve an efficiency of four percent, which is not sufficient for rooftop applications in comparison to the performance of crystalline silicon solar cells. On the other hand, dye solar cells have a clear advantage when it comes to facade integration.

The wafer-thin electricity-generating film, which lies between two glass panes, is produced from nanoparticles and applied using screen printing technique. This technique makes it possible to integrate any desired image on the module. A glass facade made of this material can be given a decorative and promotionally effective design, such as a colorful company logo, and delivers electricity into the bargain.

The dye solar module is still a prototype. The Fraunhofer researchers have developed it together with industry partners in the ColorSol project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research BMBF.

One particular challenge posed by the new technology is that the narrow gap between the two glass panes must be hermetically sealed so that no air can get in and destroy the reactive substances inside. The Fraunhofer experts have come up with a special solution to this problem. Instead of using polymeric glue like their competitors, they have decided to work with glass frit. To this end, glass powder is screen-printed onto the panes, and fuses with them at a temperature of around 600 degrees Celcius.

Fatigue tests under various weather conditions have shown that the solar cells still function properly even after several thousand hours. The long-term stability as such, however, has yet to be officially certified.

Source: SPX
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CANADA: Mondial Energy Announces Photovoltaic SOP Contract With Crown Holding

Mondial Energy is pleased to announce it has been awarded a Standard Offer Price contract with the Ontario Power Authority for a 326 kW photovoltaic panel installation. The designed installation is more than three times larger than anything built in Canada to date. Under the SOP contract, Mondial will receive $0.42 per kWh for 20 years for the electricity from the panels delivered in to the electricity grid.

The site is the roof of a warehouse owned by CROWN Metal Packaging, a subsidiary of Crown Holdings, in Weston, Ontario. Under the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding with Crown, Mondial will pay a roof lease to Crown for the use of the roof. Mondial is currently in negotiations with turnkey installation contractors for construction of the PV site.

Mondial has applied for a second SOP contract for another Crown site. "Crown is excited about the opportunity to create environmentally friendly energy from renewable resources," said Raymond L. McGowan, President, Americas Division. "This initiative is one more example of our commitment to sustainability and resource usage reduction as expressed in our Corporate Sustainability Policy."

Source: SPX
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TECHNOLOGY: Kyocera Unveils Next Generation Solar Products

Kyocera Solar announced the introduction of the highly anticipated Kyocera KD Modules, a UL listed photovoltaic module line from Kyocera consisting of larger, more powerful modules composed of high efficiency 156mm x 156mm solar cells. Kyocera is leading the solar industry with the development of the most efficient and cost effective multi-crystalline photovoltaic modules available.

The new and improved, Kyocera KD Modules feature higher output per module and maintain the three-bus bar circuitry along with the efficient and stylish dark d.Blue solar cells. Kyocera's patented manufacturing technique processes multi-crystalline silicon cells in order to produce a surface texture that minimizes reflectance and maximizes output. The new KD Modules are ideal for installation on all types of buildings, from residential to large-scale commercial systems.

The Kyocera KD Modules are an upgrade to the KC200GT, KC175GT, and KC130GT from the Kyocera KC Modules series. All modules in the new Kyocera KD Modules line feature locking connectors, are NEC 2008 compliant, UL listed, and boast superior field performance.

"Our tradition of producing high quality photovoltaic technology is clearly demonstrated with the new KD Modules," commented Tom Dyer, VP Marketing and Government Relations for Kyocera Solar, Inc. "The launch of this new product line further advances Kyocera's goal of providing our customers with superior products, excellent service and unmatched value."

Source: SPX
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