This Week in Energy News – February 22, 2013

This week in Jetson Green Energy News, New York City is preparing for the next big storm and a California land rush could result in alternative energy providing the state with 100% of its power needs.

New York City East River Blueway Plan

Proposed: Four Miles of Manhattan’s East River to be Redeveloped with Storm Barrier

WXY Architecture + Urban Design, working with local officials and community groups, has developed the East River Blueway Plan to redevelop a stretch of Manhattan’s waterways to combat storm water surge, calling “for the creation of wetlands, parks, bicycle and pedestrian pathways and bridges, and the redevelopment of a disused beach under the Brooklyn Bridge.”

Toyota Sponsors 4,500 Trees for New York Restoration Project MillionTreesNYC

Founded in 1995 by Bette Midler, the New York Restoration Project (NYRP) has launched the MillionTreesNYC effort, a collaboration with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation and other local organizations that has plans to plant one million trees in New York City by 2017. Toyota has already agreed to sponsor the planting of 4,500 trees towards this year’s annual goal of 15,000.

Renewable Energy Projects in California Could Meet 100% of the State’s Power Needs

A land rush on California’s farming region to plant solar farms adds up to 227 proposed solar projects that, combined with wind and other renewable energy sources, “generate enough electricity to meet 100% of California’s power needs on an average summer day,” the California Independent System Operator says.

Net-Zero Certification Program Launched by EarthCraft Virginia

Currently in a pilot stage, a two-art certification program being designed by EarthCraft Virginia will provide projects and homeowners with “Net-Zero Ready” and “Net-Zero Certified” status for energy-neutral and energy-positive residential buildings. The program is targeted to new construction in the southeastern United States.

National Research Council Report Advises Department of Defense to Continue LEED Efforts

A new report that has been compiled by the United States National Research Council, as requested by Congress, on “the use of energy-efficiency and sustainability standards for military construction,” has reviewed previous efforts by the U.S. Department of Defense to achieve LEED Silver or equivalent ratings in new construction and major renovations and gave them the “thumbs up.”

Renewable Energy Breakthrough Uses Geometry to Trap Solar Power

Researchers at Illinois’ Northwestern University have found a way to triple the period of time that light can be trapped within thin-film photovoltaic cells by “manipulating the arrangement of a polymer layer on an organic solar cell.”

Emerging Technologies Could Affect Building Industry Sustainability Efforts

A list of the most promising technology breakthroughs, released by the World Economic Forum’s Global Council on Emerging Technologies, which are expected to enable humans to deal with problems related to tackle population growth, resource demands, and other sustainability issues, included organic electronics, three-dimensional printing, self-heating materials, and remote sensing.

Public Demonstration of Tiny Houses in Washington D.C. Aims to Change Minds and Regulations

Boneyard Studios, founded by Brian Levy and Lee Pera, has created a community of tiny, movable houses as public demonstration of the trend in residential downsizing, hoping to “encourage changes in local laws to permit smaller, more affordable living options here and on vacant land across the city.”

Changing Business Models to Embrace Sustainability Equates to Increased Profitability

A study conducted by MIT Sloan Management Review and The Boston Consulting Group has revealed that “companies reporting profits from sustainability rose 23 percent in 2012, to 37 percent of the total” and that “that companies in developing countries change their business models as a result of sustainability at a far higher rate than those based in North America, which has the lowest rate of business-model innovation and the fewest business-model innovators.”

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green coffee bean extract

MeterPlug Helps Save Money and Energy

Here’s a neat piece of pre-production technology called MeterPlug.  MeterPlug measures electricity consumption by plugging in between any appliance and the AC outlet.  The smart plug uses Bluetooth 4.0 to send data to your smartphone and enable features like proximity control, manual on/off, and vampire power shield.  In other words, with a range of about 100 feet and a smartphone, it’s easy to shut down appliances or calculate the costs of standby power.  Each plug is a little expensive right now, but if you want to try MeterPlug, you can pledge support at Indiegogo.

[+] More about MeterPlug smart plugs via Indiegogo.

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Wattvision Pursues Next Gen Energy Monitor

I mentioned Wattvision previously, and the company is now running a Kickstarter campaign to deploy its complete the next generation of hardware, cover more types of power meters, and deploy the new hardware by about January 2013.  Wattvision 2 includes a sensor that attaches to your home electricity meter and a gateway that connects up with your internet network.  With these in place, a user can check electricity use online or from a smart phone.

Wattvision may be used to compare electricity usage among appliances or other homes using the system, track electricity costs, and find appliances that are using too much energy.  It’s an expensive solution for tracking phantom energy, but this will help with that.

The founders say the product provides a “live view” of energy use.  Feedback is in real-time, and knowledge is power.  The product is “all-American” and the company wants purchasers to be able to set up the system in about five minutes or less.  The system on Kickstarter will cost between about $175-200.

[+] More about energy monitoring from New Jersey-based Wattvision.

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Colored Solar Panels Hit California Market

I really like the dark-blue/black look of solar PV, but I suppose there may be someone that needs a different color, whether for aesthetics, compliance, or branding, etc.  Colored Solar is trying to grab a toehold in this market with red, emerald green, forest green, and polished marble panels.  In terms of panel efficiency, NREL found there is little performance compromised for a 16%+ efficiency colored 225W panel, according to Colored Solar.

The solar panels have ETL safety certification to UL1703 and a listing by the California Energy Commission, said Colored Solar in a company release.

The Stylish Solar Panels are produced and assembled in the USA and come with a 5-year workmanship and 25-year power warranty.  Colored Solar CEO Michael Mrozek said: “Our customers can be comfortable knowing that our panels have been tested to ETL’s respected standards and will meet and qualify for all rebates and tax incentives … our game changing colored solar panels are built to a higher standard.

[+] More about Colored Solar polycrystalline silicon PV.

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Ohio Modern Tiny House for the Lofty

Adam Leu has the height of an NBA small forward, 6′ 7″, and wasn’t satisfied with just a standard tiny house.  So he modified a couple plans by tiny-house enthusiast Michael Janzen and created the Tall Man’s Tiny House.  It’s 21-feet long, 13′ 3″ tall (total, not the interior), and includes three roomy segments of seven feet.  This place includes one bedroom, one bathroom, a loft, and an open living and kitchen room, as pictured.

The tiny house was built on an old camper’s trailer with 2

Bright Home Ideas, Dishwasher Efficiency, Simple Cost Savings, + Home Solar Subsidies

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Net-Zero SIPs Laneway House with Solar

When I first mentioned the Mendoza Laneway House, it was one of the first laneway homes in Vancouver under the city’s EcoDensity program.  The company behind that efficient SIPs home, Lanefab, and its partners, designer Bryn Davidson and builder Mat Turner, have been busy and recently completed the first Net-Zero Solar Laneway House on a corner lot at 57th and Vivian.  It’s beautiful inside and out.

The home features a warm exterior palette of black rock stucco and cedar and was built with triple-glazed Cascadia windows, 1′ thick SIPs, and 18′ multi-fold doors that create a nice connection between the great room and the outdoor patio.

Other green features include LED lighting (95% of all lighting), a 500-gallon rainwater collection tank, WaterCycles drain water heat recovery, a Venmar high-efficiency HRV, an air-source heat pump for space heating and water, and a Cent-a-Meter whole house energy monitor.

In addition, the home is net-zero energy with the help of a solar photovoltaic array of 12 panels.  The system generates extra power in the summer, which is sold to the grid, and draws on the surplus during cold winter months.

The home has one bedroom, two bathrooms, and 1,020 square feet.  The total construction cost was about $320,000, which Davidson assures me is affordable for the likes of Vancouver.

As with other Lanefab projects, this home was documented with tons of construction and other product photos in a Facebook album.

[+] More about this Net Zero Solar Laneway House in Vancouver.

Credits: Dylan Doubt Photograph; Lanefab (floor plans).

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Extended stay motel

Power-One Commercial Scale Inverter in the Boots Lab

Seriously, our MegaLab is bursting at the seams with super awesome solar stuff! One of the latest to arrive is a Power-One Aurora 10.0 480V commercial scale inverter! Not only is this inverter efficient, it’s stylish too. With integrated DC & AC switches, this three-phase inverter is uniquely designed to control the performance of PV panels, especially during periods of uncertain weather. (We are also really happy to receive the 10.0’s single phase little brother, the “3.0”! It’s just as stylish as the big 10.0, but smaller.) But Power-One does more than build beautiful inverters, they also make AuroraVision, precision monitoring equipment for larger systems. Power-One’s.

Solar Industry Has Jobs!

Unemployment and underemployment are higher than we have seen them in decades. Jobs growth throughout the U.S. is continuing at a much lower rate than many had hoped, with just 80,000 jobs being added in the last month. However, there is one industry that has continually stayed strong throughout the crisis, and now expects as much as a 26% growth in workforce over the coming year. That industry is solar power. The solar industry is booming and, as a result, hiring.

The main reason solar power has managed to grow even in this bad economy is because the public wants to save money and are continually looking for alternative sources of energy. For years people have wanted solar panels on their roofs. With more cost effective developments being made in the area of solar power on a daily basis more people can afford to install solar panels than ever before. As a result many people are choosing to do so even in this bad economy because the price is right and it will save them money in the long term.

Perhaps even more importantly, people have seen, in the last few years, how dangerous and unaccountable large energy companies that rely on gas, nuclear, and oil can be. We had the BP spill, the Fukushima disaster, and many smaller headline disasters that not everyone heard about. Due to this growing skepticism with the conventional ways of producing electricity, solar panel use has increased and gained large amounts of public support.

In fact, the solar industry is doing so well that the major problem they are facing is a lack of expertise in their job applicant pool. The industry is expanding at such a rate that they can no longer hire people with previous experience in the field because there are none. Now, when hiring technicians for installs and other jobs within the industry they must look to similar fields which can have crossover skills.

So, what lesson do we take from all this? The solar industry is booming and if you have solar training in the field you will be far more likely to find a job.

Solar Industry Has Jobs! is a post from: Boots On The Roof

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New ‘Artificial Leaf’ is a Real Gamechanger

Green solar technology that’s shaped to imitate nature has been a somewhat common thing over the last few years. However, instead of constructing a set of buildings meant to blend in and look like trees, as people did at the start of the nature building trend. Now scientists are beginning to look at natural, highly beneficial processes – in this case photosynthesis – and attempting to replicate nature’s solar successes.

Substantial progress has been made in this area. Recently researchers at MIT announced that due to a major breakthrough this year they have finally made the solar ‘artificial leaf’ a reality. The leaf is able to split apart the oxygen and hydrogen that make up water. It does this by opposing catalytic bonds on different sides of the leaf to draw the elements apart. It all sounds very complicated; mostly because it is, but it is an astonishing breakthrough whether its one we can fully understand the science behind or not. Once the two elements have been separated they can then be used as a source of energy.

The successful creation of the artificial leaf has reignited people’s imaginations. What we can do using technology grows with each new day. A worldwide group of scientists have looked at the groundbreaking artificial leaf and speculated that the technology can be used to create even more effective photosynthesis like reactions generating even more solar power. A leaf in nature can separate and efficiently process a large amount of different types of energy. The artificial leaf is the first major step to taking advantage of all the different types of energy the sun has to offer and replicating the already safe and clean solar reactions in nature.

This ‘artificial leaf’ development lead one professor, James Barber, who is unconnected with the project to comment, “there is no doubt that their achievement is a major breakthrough which will have a significant impact on the work of others dedicated to constructing light-driven catalytic systems to produce hydrogen and other solar fuels from water.”

It’s pretty much unanimous that the artificial leaf represents a major development and one that has even more amazing potential for growth and innovation. Stay tuned for more groundbreaking developments in solar power potential because they are everywhere.

New ‘Artificial Leaf’ is a Real Gamechanger is a post from: Boots On The Roof

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