This Week in Energy News – February 15, 2013

This week in Jetson Green Energy News, governments are helping citizens to become more energy efficient and reports have been released that quantify energy development efforts.

NEC Italia and Acea Spa to Develop Storage Systems For Rome Smart Grid Project

NEC Italia and Acea Spa to Develop Storage Systems For Rome Smart Grid Project

NEC has agreed to provide two lithium-ion battery energy storage systems as part of a smart grid project in the Rome metropolitan area.

U.S. Departments of Energy and Treasury Announce $150 Million Energy Credits

Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credits will provide for manufacturing projects that are related to  clean energy and energy efficiency. The tax program aims to strengthen competitiveness, increase energy security, and create new jobs.

North American Energy Independence?

The United States has achieved number one status in natural gas production, which has increased by 27 percent in the last four years, thanks to advances in technology, such as horizontal drilling, that some fuel industry experts speculate could eventually lead to energy independence in North America.

About 40% of 2012 Wind Industry Installations Came Online in December

Based on figures from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Annual Electric Generator Report, 59 new wind projects began commercial operation, for a total of 5,253 MW last December.

Global Photovoltaic Capacity Increased by 30 GW in 2012

The European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) released data that showed an increase in PV capacity by about 30 GB last year, while global solar power capacity exceeded 100 gigawatts for the first time.

EU Approves £600 Million for UK Energy Efficiency Program

The United Kingdom’s Green Deal program helps homeowners to invest in energy-efficient improvements by allowing loans to be repaid through energy bills.

Egypt May Look to Wind and Solar for Economic Sustainability

Citing several sources, Inspired Economist suggests that Egypt could focus on sustainable economic development. For instance, by 2014, 750 MW of wind power projects are slated to come online and a new solar thermal plant development has utility-scape potential.

2013 State of Green Business Report Released

The sixth annual edition of State of Green Business Report includes data on 1,600 companies worldwide and the U.S.-based S&P 500. Download it for free, and check out the Top Trends section to see projections on the world of sustainable business.

Online DOE Database Reports on Worldwide Ocean Energy Development

The US Department of Energy (DOE) launched Tethys, an online database that contains “results of environmental monitoring and research efforts on wave, tidal, and current energy development worldwide” that is expected to “help industry regulators and energy project developers deploy sustainable ocean energy projects in an environmentally responsible manner,” according to a DOE Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE) news release.

London’s Hydrogen Fuel Network Expands

New fuel stations, a roll-out of a 700-bar delivery system, and upgrades to transport for the main hydrogen fuel station moves London closer to a fully-integrated hydrogen fuel network.

Read more: This Week in Energy News – February 15, 2013

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Elegant Grass Lamp Provides Light for Home and Hydroponic Vegetation

InterModal Design Ships Prefab Homes Worldwide

Shipping Container Modular Home External outdoors

Shipping Container Modular Home External outdoors

A subsidiary of Hive Modular, InterModal Design, manufactures durable, prefabricated homes from recycled shipping containers that can be shipped almost anywhere in the world. Shipping container shelters from InterModal Design (IMD) can be used for off-the grid living as primary residence, guest house, or office space. Dwellings can be built out with essential comforts such as kitchen space, a living room that can be transformed into a sleeping area, and bathroom facilities.

With a 3-in-1 structure, the IMD home maximizes the space of the container, creating a single structure with multiple functions. Chairs can be stored flat and a bed and table are installed in a drop-down fashion to be stowed away when not in use.

Shipping Container Modular Home double story

Shipping Container Modular Home double story

Several units are available, with pricing and details in spreadsheets on the IMD website, starting at US$35,000. Upgrades can be requested and custom projects are billed at $100 per hour. You cover costs of site preparation, delivery, and setup, with many areas requiring building permits for additional costs.

While you must assume responsibility for compliance with your local jurisdiction code ordinances for container usage, InterModal Design is available to assist with modifications to containers and designs to bring it to code.

Shipping Container Modular Home Design

Shipping Container Modular Home Design

Each standard plan includes basic furnishings, plumbing and electrical, but check the spec sheets for details on specific finishes to determine your need for upgrades. As your container home is being built, you can prepare your site, set the foundation, and hookup any necessary utilities. Delivery may require a crane and set crew. IMD will assist you in determining the best solutions for foundations and installation.

All products from IMD come with a 1-year warranty, honoring any state-required home warranties in the United States beyond that period of time.

Shipping Container Modular Home internal diagram

Shipping Container Modular Home internal diagram

Shipping Container 2 story home

Shipping Container 2 story home

Shipping Container Modular Home External outdoors

Shipping Container Modular Home External outdoors

This Week in Energy News – February 8, 2013

German PV Installations Set New Record

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The Federal Network Agency of Germany (Bundesnetzagentur) photovoltaic solar (PV) installation counts that set new records at 7.6 GW of PV power plants installed and connected to the grid.

First Solar Acquires New Mexico Solar Power Project

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The 50-megawatt solar power project First Solar has acquired from the solar division of Element Power is billed as the state’s largest and raises questions about solar energy as a commodity.

Siemens Energy Launches New Offshore Wind Turbine

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With a generating capacity of four megawatts and a rotor diameter of 130, the new design was launched at at the annual conference of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) in Vienna.

NRG Solar Starts Operation of Alpine Solar Generating Station

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NRG Energy, Inc. announced its 66-megawatt (AC) photovoltaic facility has started commercial operation, which is now California’s largest fully operational solar plant.

New Australian Proposal for Solar Use on Public Housing

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Western Australia Greens have announced their $68 million plan for the installation of solar PV panels on roofs of public housing homes and apartments

Scotland to Invest in Low Carbon Action Plan

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The Scottish Government announced plans to invest over $1.8 billion in the next three years on climate change strategies with goals to “cut carbon emissions from electricity generation by more than four-fifths by 2030.”

Spain Breaks Wind Farm Energy Record

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The Spanish Wind Energy Association says that Spain’s wind farms produced more electricity than other power sources, delivering over 6 terawatt hours during January.

Minnesota Utilities to Phase Out Coal Plants

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Minnesota Power, the state’s second-largest utility, will be phasing out coal production at two facilities and the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission ordered Otter Tail Power to stoop burning coal at one of their plants.

UK Investing in Wind Farms

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The UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is investing £50m on six wind farms through a stake in a renewable energy fund.

See the article here: This Week in Energy News – February 8, 2013

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Mehoopany Wind Farm Now in Full Commercial Operation

Mehoopany Wind Farm Windmill Farm

BP Wind Energy and Sempra U.S. Gas and Power announced in early January 2013 that their $250 million wind farm project in Pennsylvania has gone into full commercial operation. The Mehoopany Wind Farm, located about twenty miles northwest of Scranton, is the state’s largest wind project.

“This is a great project all the way around,” said Sempra US Gas & Power president and CEO, Jeffrey W. Martin. “The State of Pennsylvania has been a recognized leader in providing critical fuels to help grow our nation’s economy for over a century. This project continues in that proud tradition by harnessing clean, sustainable wind energy that will benefit mid-Atlantic customers for decades to come.”

Mehoopany Wind Farm Installation

Each of the 88 GE xle wind turbine generators on the farm has a rated capacity of 1.6 megawatts (MW). All together, they should produce about 141 MW of electricity. Long-term power purchase agreements, made possible by the National Renewables Cooperative Organization, are in place with Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative, Inc. and Old Dominion Electric Cooperative.

“Today’s announcement is an important milestone that marks yet another success for the BP and Sempra US Gas & Power teams that have worked so hard to deliver this project into full commercial operation,” said BP Wind Energy president and CEO, John Graham, in a recent press release. “We appreciate the on-going support that we have received at both the state and local level and look forward to a long-term partnership in the community.”

Mehoopany Wind Farm

In addition to the contribution to the power supply in the region, the project created more than 400 jobs during the course of construction and about 10-15 permanent employees will be needed to maintain and monitor the facility, which will be operated by a wholly-owned affiliate of BP Wind Energy.

In the last five years, BP has made more investments in the United States than any other oil and gas company, investing more in the United States than in other countries. Since 2005, about $8 billion of BP Alternative Energy investments have gone towards alternative energy development. US BP Wind Energy has interests in sixteen wind farms that are located in nine states with a gross generating capacity of around 2,600 MW.

Mehoopany Wind Farm windmill

New Orleans Architect Turns a Dumpster Into a Pool

Dumpster Dive DeLux The Pool Box

Stefan Beese, a New Orleans-based architect, has dove into an innovative form of recycled design with the “Dumpster Dive DeLux”, a pool made out of a defunct dumpster. You won’t be finding any cool old furniture when you jump in, but it will definitely feel much more luxurious.

The 22’ x 7’ steel refuse container is lined with protective foam insulation and pine wood slats on the exterior. The modular design makes it simple to pack it up and move it to a new location, so you don’t have to worry about leaving your dumpster pool behind if you move to a new neighborhood.

Dumpster Dive DeLux The Pool Box End

Dumpster Dive DeLux length

Milan’s Bosco Verticale On Track to Become World’s First Vertical Forest

Bosco Verticale Forest

Milan, Italy is one of Europe’s most polluted cities, its air quality frequently breaching safety limits set by the EU and causing city officials to install a ventilation system in 2009 in an effort to reduce damage to Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper that resides in the Santa Maria delle Grazie church. In 2003, a medical study compared breathing air in Milan to smoking almost a pack of cigarettes each day. On top of that, there is less space dedicated to vegetation in Milan than any other Italian city.

Short on space for increasing the presence of greenery, the city turned to architect Stefano Boeri to create the world’s first vertical forests, incorporated into the “Bosco Verticale” apartment towers, currently under construction and nearing completion.

Bosco Verticale Build

The two residential towers, which are part of a rehabilitation project in the historic district between Via De Island Castillia and Confalonieri, loom 111 meters and 78 meters and will be home to over 900 trees that cover nearly 9,000 square meters of terrace space. They are 24 floors and 17 floors high with combined capacity for 730 trees, 5,000 shrubs, and 11,000 plants.

In addition to producing oxygen, mitigating smog, and providing an ecosystem for insects and birds, the trees and plants on the terraces will help to cool the apartments and reduce the energy costs for air-conditioning, especially when summers in Milan can get hotter than 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

The vertical forest idea has inspired a social housing tower in Spain, called the Torre Huerta, and a “Flower Tower” in Paris that features nearly 400 bamboo plants on its ledges.

Bosco Verticale External

Bosco Verticale Forest Build

Bosco Verticale Build -1

Port-a-Bach Features Stylish Home Design in a Portable Container

Port a Bach portable container home external

The Port-a-Bach home is designed by the New Zealand Atelierworkshop architectural firm of Cecile Bonnifait and William Giesen, whose “approach is orientated towards reconnecting people with a physical reality, a territory, its history and a cultural context.” They believe that up-cycling containers can be effective solutions in projects where site access and portability are concerns.

The prototype for the Port-a-Bach home was built in China and shipped to New Zealand where they are now looking for commercial partners to begin mass production. Designed to be a holiday home, I think that the Port-a-Bach would appeal to tiny home dwellers and perpetual travelers alike.

It is portable and secure, with a high level finish and is designed with the environment in mind.

Port a Bach portable container home internal

With space for two adults and two children to sleep, it could be used as a living space for short- or long-term use, perhaps while a custom home is being constructed or if you are leasing your land and don’t want to invest in a permanent structure.

Power, water, and sewer can be supplied independently, as it is suitable for land that has been developed for utilities or is yet undeveloped. It can be situated on a wide variety of ground conditions by way of six concrete footings that serve as a non-invasive foundation.

The Port-a-Bach can be transported by helicopter or truck and installed with a minimal amount of impact on any site. It can be folded into a fully-enclosed exterior steel shell to be stored or secured or relocated.

Features include cupboards and shelving, stainless steel fittings, and kitchen appliances. The bathroom has an open shower, a sink, and a composting toilet.

Port a Bach portable container home internal

An fabric screen system for the interior of the structure provides for the option of creating room divisions on-the-fly, and an exterior canvas can be used to cover a deck area to expand the living space outdoors.

Port a Bach portable container home unfolding

Port a Bach portable container home Night

Electronically Tintable Dynamic SageGlass Unveiled at BAU by Saint-Gobain

Sage Glass transition stage 1

SAGE Electrochromics, which was recently acquired to become a wholly owned subsidiary of Saint-Gobain of Paris, is demonstrating its newly developed advanced dynamic glass that it calls “SageGlass” at the 2013 BAU, the “World’s Leading Trade Fair for Architecture, Materials, Systems” in Munich.

SageGlass is electronically tintable to allow for modulation of light, glare, and solar heat gain. With the push of a button, or by of building automation systems or the proprietary SageClass control system, the glass can alter the solar heat gain and visible light transmission. Providing for efficient and flexible control of exterior light, SageGlass replaces blinds and motorized window shades that block light coming through windows, curtain walls, and skylights.

Sage Glass stage 2

Using a patented technology, the glazing level of SageGlass tint is dynamically controllable from 2% to 62% of light transmittance while maintaining transparency so that outdoor views are unobstructed to maximize energy efficiency while improving the comfort  and productivity of building occupants and increasing the value of the building.

Sage Glass Stage 3

According to a recent press release, SageGlass tint achieves this by managing “solar heat with a g value varying from 0.42 in its clearest state to 0.05 in the darkest state (values for a DGU with a Ug value of 1.1 W/m2.k).” The SageGlass dedicated automatic control system enables the tint to automatically adapt to outdoor luminance.

“BAU will be a terrific opportunity to showcase SageGlass’s impact on daylight and sun heat for the first time to the German market,” said SAGE SAINT-GOBAIN Europe, Director of Marketing and Sales, Kirk Ratzel.

Sage glass tint triple pane glass

O+A Architecture Builds Pavilion Out of Recycled Shipping Containers in Amsterdam

This recycled shipping container stage was created by architecture studio O+A in celebration of Amsterdam’s Over het IJ theatre festival’s 20th anniversary. Made of locally sourced materials, the containers have been retrofitted to create a temporary space designed for live artistic performances.

The repurposed containers were used as building blocks, creating a lasting impression for visitors with its overwhelmingly large scale. The horizontally stacked containers were used as pop-up stores, platforms, and even a restaurant, featuring long tables and a corrugated bar.

The three-dimensional checkerboard structure provides indoor and outdoor space that is raw yet cozy, the perfect combination for architecture enthusiasts and festival visitors who need a space to relax after a long day of festivities.