Thursday, November 18, 2010

Renewable Energy News, November 18, 2010

Community Solar Plants Without Rooftop Panels
IN this environmentally conscious college town, thousands of bicyclists commute each day through a carefully cultivated urban forest whose canopy shields riders and their homes from the harsh sun of this state’s Central Valley.

The intensity of that sunshine also makes Davis an attractive place to generate clean green energy from rooftop solar panels. And therein lies a conundrum. Tapping the power of the sun can also mean cutting down some of those trees.

“Davis has spent many, many decades getting trees planted and improving energy efficiency by virtue of shade trees that cool houses,” said Mitch Sears, the city’s sustainability program manager. “But if you want solar energy, it’s not rocket science that you need the sun.”

Now a San Francisco company, CleanPath Ventures, is promoting a solution to allow homeowners to keep their trees and go solar at the same time. CleanPath plans to expand its existing solar farm on the city’s outskirts and then sell “garden plots” to homeowners who would own the electricity generated by their patch of photovoltaic panels. Apartment dwellers and other residents whose homes are not suitable for rooftop solar arrays would also be able to own a piece of the power plant.
Pennsylvania supports expansion of clean energy
Pennsylvania’s lawmakers have passed a bill to help farmers install renewable energy facilities on land not being used for agriculture.

The Wind and Farming Bill was signed by the state’s House of Representatives on Monday, after being passed by the Senate, and is expected to be signed by Governor Ed Rendell before the start of the new legislative session in January.

The new law would mean farmers that install solar, wind, small hydropower and other alternative energy projects on non-commercial land without losing the tax advantages of keeping the land non-commercial.

In order to be eligible, renewable energy projects would have to have a majority of the power generated used on-site by the farms, rather than exported to the grid.
USDA Announces Renewable Energy And Energy Efficiency Loans
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced that USDA is providing loans and grants for over 500 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects to help farmers, ranchers and owners of rural businesses reduce energy costs and develop new sources of renewable energy. Funding is provided through USDA's Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager made the announcement on behalf of the Secretary.

"These loans and grants will generate and save energy for the nation's farmers and rural small businesses for decades to come," Vilsack said. "The funding will help replace outdated equipment, such as old, inefficient grain dryers, insulate buildings, allow recipients to obtain energy audits and incorporate renewable energy technologies into their operations so they can compete in the 21st Century global economy."

USDA is awarding more than $30M in loans and grants to the 516 recipients.
Ahead of UN climate change talks, investors warn of economic risks of inaction
The world risks economic crises larger than the recent global financial disruption unless governments, policy-makers and delegates to the forthcoming United Nations conference on climate change take action to combat global warming, major investors warned today.

Nearly 260 investors from Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, Latin America and North America, who collectively have assets valued at $15 trillion, said in joint statement that the potential climate-related gross domestic product (GDP) losses could soar up to 20 per cent by 2050 as a result of climate change.

Citing the economic benefits of shifting to low-carbon and resource-efficient economies, they called for national and international policies that will spur private investment into green technology.
Wind Project Shows How China and the U.S. Can Get Along
Tensions between the United States and China were ratcheted up recently when the Obama administration said it would investigate complaints of unfair trade policies in China connected to renewable energy. But a controversial wind farm project in Texas could offer a model for greater cooperation. It is succeeding because the manufacturing of hundreds of wind turbines will be split between the two countries.

The 600-megawatt wind project was announced last year by investors in China and the United States. It will involve the construction of about 300 wind turbines and will draw on financing from both Chinese banks and from the 2009 U.S. Recovery Act.
Electric sportscar completes Alaska-Argentina trip
An electric sportscar finished a remarkable road trip Tuesday on the Panamerican Highway, traveling from near the Arctic Circle in Alaska to the world's southernmost city without a single blast of carbon dioxide emissions.

Developed by engineers from Imperial College London, the SRZero sportscar ran on lithium iron phosphate batteries powering two electric motors with a peak output of 400 horsepower during its 16,000-mile (26,000-kilometer) journey.

Powering up was a joy at times, the team said - such as in Chena Hot Springs, Alaska, where they started their trip July 3 after charging the batteries using geothermal energy.
San Bernardino County to help vets find renewable energy jobs
Servicemen and women who have left the military and are looking for work may be able to receive training and job placement in the renewable energy field through the county.

San Bernardino County is partnering with Kern County to fund training in the renewable energy industry for 100 veterans — including 50 who have left the military less than 4 years ago. Officials hope to help at least 71 veterans find jobs by June 30, 2012.

The training will be funded through a $989,982 Veterans Employment-Related Assistance Program grant awarded to Kern County in May. Up to $643,500 will benefit veterans living in San Bernardino County.

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