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International Finance Corporation has released a new report called “Success of Geothermal Wells: A global study” with data taken from both public and private sources.
(Reuters) – An airplane entirely powered by the sun landed in Washington on Sunday after a flight from St. Louis, the next-to-last leg of a journey ac…
Read more: Video, Solar Energy, Solar Impulse, Solar Impulse Plane Dulles,…
Growing concerns about energy costs and environmental impacts have increased the demand for small wind energy systems for homeowners, schools, businesses, and local governments. Over the past decade, the knowledge, skills, and technologies utilized in the proper siting of wind turbines have evolved into a science that can aid in the optimization of a system, allowing it to produce at a peak performance level over a long lifetime. Author Frank Oteri compiled the following lessons learned from recent interviews he conducted with small wind turbine installers and developers regarding site assessments.
Although wind resource maps have improved, site visits are still necessary. The resolution and accuracy of today’s wind maps provide an initial estimate for the wind resource of a selected site, but they are not enough to ensure a project’s success. According to Pieter Huebner, service manager at Bergey Windpower, inexperienced developers often rely too much on wind maps. When a wind map shows a good resource, they assume that “everywhere is that shade of color.” Huebner said that although he thinks the models get better every year, one should not assume that every site will have the resource depicted on the map. Site visits are still recommended.
Relying on Google Earth to discover surrounding structures or obstacles can be a mistake. Technology has become more accessible and hands-on in recent years, but according to Lisa DiFrancisco of North Coast Energy Systems, visiting the site is critical to ensure a successful project.
“Walking on the site, you find that what you see when you get there is often not what you saw on the overhead because it’s not quite up to date,” DiFrancisco said. “Someone might have built a new building, grown some trees, or even cut some trees down. Maybe the hills are steeper than you imagined, or the site is closer to a set of train tracks than you thought, or there could be a utility right-of-way that wasn’t on the map. In my view, the physical site assessment is the single most important thing you can do prior to an installation.”
Turbulence can shorten a turbine’s life. Wind turbulence is the rapid disturbances or irregularities in the wind speed, direction, and vertical component. It is an important site characteristic because high turbulence levels may decrease power output and cause extreme loading on wind turbine components, resulting in a shorter life, or increase the long-term maintenance costs for a project.
“I’ve seen energetic sites where installers have chosen shorter towers than they should have, and the turbine sees a lot more mechanical use and turbulence,” Huebner said. “Even though the production seems to be as promised or better, the reliability of the turbine and the amount of maintenance required is more than expected because of the turbulent location.”
Wind resource measurement is an investment and should be considered under the correct circumstances. When trying to decide whether to install an anemometer and conduct a year-long wind measurement study for your site prior to installing your small wind energy system, you must consider multiple factors.
“It comes down to uncertainty and risk,” said Charles Newcomb, director of technical strategy for Endurance Wind Power. “Where my margins are really thin, I should be more careful.”
Although Newcomb believes that turbine sizes do not dictate when wind resource measurements should be conducted, Huebner feels that the larger small wind turbines may require further due diligence.
“When you start looking at the 50-kilowatt turbines and above and there’s doubt about the wind resource, because of the size of the investment it’s probably justifiable to do an actual wind study at the site,” Huebner said. He added that the investment is hard to justify for the smaller wind turbines.
Obstacles in the primary wind energy direction have an increased impact on the production of a project by altering the resource or increasing turbulence. There are multiple ways to help avoid this potential conflict, including siting the turbine in a more open area or increasing the tower height. Experts recommend that turbines be sited upwind of buildings and trees and installed 25 to 35 feet above anything within a 300-foot horizontal radius.
Date: 6/17/2013Researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have published Technical and Economic Feasibility Study of Utility-Scale Wind at the Doepke-Holliday Superfund Site, a study prepared in partnership with the Environmental Pr…
by Marc Gunther.
So you remember CFLs, right? The
curlicue bulbs? The time they took to go on? The harsh light?
their drawbacks, compact fluorescents have sold fairly well in the
US. They save customers money. Utilities promoted and subsidized
CFLs, particularly in California. Walmart (NYSE:WMT) pledged
to sell 100 million of them. Time magazine put one on the cover.
By 2012, CFLs represented 27 percent of the bulbs installed
in the over 3 billion medium screw-based sockets in the United
States, according to a Navigant study quoted by NRDC. Other
researchers put the number lower, about 20 percent, says IMS Research.
The trouble is, no one likes CFLs very
much. Some CFLs took three minutes to turn on, for goodness
sake! Consumers were dissatisfied with the quality of the light,
and rightfully so, as even advocates of CFLs acknowledged.
a leading manufacturer of LED bulbs, is taking direct aim at CFLs,
as well as old-fashioned incandescents, as it tries to win
mainstream America over to LEDs–which, by most accounts, are a
superior alternative to CFLs and incandescents.
Can CREE and other leading
manufacturers of LEDS—-they include Osram Sylvania,
Phillips Lumileds (NYSE:PHG),
and General Electric(NYSE:GE)–persuade
Americans to change their lightbulbs, yet again? The stakes are
high, for consumers and for the environment.
Recently, I asked Mike Watson, Cree’s vice president of
marketing, about the company’s approach.
He told me that Cree will try to sell LEDS by telling people that
they last longer and cost less than CFLs and incandescents,
without requiring any sacrifice when it comes to performance.
“The whole point of the CREE LED bulb is to mimic incandescent
light as much as we can,” Watson told me.
“CFL presented consumers with a lot of frustrations and
tradeoffs,” he said. “As energy efficient as they may be, you paid
for it by not having the light you want.”
As for incandescents, he said, they are like throwing money out
the window. It’s time to bury that technology, as this Cree TV commercial suggests.
One thing that Cree will not do is focus on the environmental
benefits of its bulbs.
“We don’t market ourselves as a green company, even though we
really are,” he said. “The term ‘green’ to a consumer is as much
political as anything else.”
“The economics come first,” he said.
He’s probably smart to shy away from green labels. As National Geographic reported recently,
when academics at the Wharton School and Duke surveyed consumers
about energy efficiency, they found that conservatives turned away
from the bulbs when they were labeled with a “protect the
environment” sticker. Crazy.
The fact is, LEDs are the environmentally-preferable
choice. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific
Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) studied LEDs, CFLs
and incandescents, looking at their ”total
environmental impact, including the energy and natural resources
needed to manufacture, transport, operate and dispose of light
bulbs.” Its report concluded:
Today’s light-emitting diode light bulbs have a slight
environmental edge over compact fluorescent lamps. And that gap
is expected to grow significantly as technology and
manufacturing methods improve in the next five years.
But while LEDS make economic and environmental sense, persuading
consumers to try something new and different–again–won’t be easy.
Sticker shock remains an issue. But a Cree 9.5-Watt dimmable LED bulb, which is
the equivalent of a 60-watt incandescent, retails for $12.97 at
Home Depot. A 6-pack of GE 60-watt incandescent bulbs
sells for $3.97.
Of course, they are simply not equivalent products. LED bulbs use
80% or more less energy and last 25 times longer than
incandescents, as CREE’s marketing message says:
Most experts believe that CREE and the other leading LED makers
will eventually be able to overcome those obstacles and drive
sales. Prices of the bulbs are falling–some sell for less than
$10–and the light quality is fine. CREE sent me a few sample bulbs
a few weeks ago and I’m satisfied, so far. They turn on instantly,
and they are dimmable. Consumer Reports said recently that its
initial tests of Cree and Phillips bulbs priced between $13 and
$15 showed promising results.
Earlier this year, Gerard Wynn, a market analyst for Reuters, wrote:
The LED lighting industry is set to dominate the global market
more than a century after its discovery, benefitting from a
widespread ban of conventional incandescent bulbs and as the
market share of competing green replacements fade.
Let’s hope he’s right.
THE AUTHOR: Marc Gunther is editor at large of Guardian Sustainable Business US and a
contributor at FORTUNE magazine and a blogger at
marcgunther.com. Marc is the author or co-author of four books, including
and Fortune: How Compassionate Capitalism is Transforming American
Business (Crown 2004). His newest book, Suck It Up:
How capturing carbon from the air can help solve the climate
crisis, has been published as an Amazon Kindle Single. You can
buy it here for $1.99.
We’ve heard President Obama speak of the obligation we hold to future generations, to address the causes of climate change, and we know that as a dad, he was thinking of his own children as well. He has the chance to help protect all of our kids right now.
by Debra Fiakas CFA
In the last two
posts Pacific Ethanol
Nasdaq) and Aemetis, Inc. (AMTX:
OTC/BB) got all the attention. Both companies have crafted
their facilities to accept lower-cost sorghum as an alternative
feedstock, opening up the door to lower carbon intensity measures
for their ethanol output. There are other ethanol producers in
the state, which we believe are still relying on corn as
feedstock. Which companies will remain in operation in
California is not yet clear. Standards sets by California Air Resources
Board (CARB) for the carbon intensity of alternative fuels
favors local producers and renewable diesel or biofuel over
Fuels has operated a 55 million gallon ethanol plant in
Pixley, California. For feedstock Calgren is bringing in corn
from the Midwest by train. If you have read by two previous
posts, the words Midwest and corn should cause some concern for how
the company’s product will fair under CARB’s carbon intensity
standard. However, Calgren claims its carbon footprint is
small than most and its production of ethanol per bushel of corn is
higher than average. Calgren has been fiddling around with cow
manure to make ethanol, receiving a $4.5 million grant from the
California Energy Commission to construct a digester to make
Coshochten, Californai is home to the ethanol plant of AltraBiofuels. It
has a capacity of 60 million gallons and has been in production
since 2008. Like Calgren, AltraBiofuels is sourcing its corn
feedstock principally from the Midwest.
Power stands apart from the rest of the pack. CE&P
plans to source its feed stock from sugar cane produced in the
Imperial Valley. Once its facility is operation in late 2015,
CE&P plans send its ethanol by truck to customers in southern
California and Arizona.
Products offers yet another twist on ethanol production.
Parallel is using waste consumer products to produce ethanol.
Fermentation of sugar laden liquids and the distillation of
alcohol-based wastes yield 5 million gallons of ethanol per
year. Headquartered in Kentucky, the company operates five
facilities around the country, including one in Ontario,
California. Parallel says this facility receives over 3.5
million cases of dated or damaged beverage products annually. The
carbon intensity of Parallel’s products is not clear. Its
business model is highly unique.
There is no immediate investment opportunity in any of these
companies. AltraBiofuels showcases its venture capital
and private equity investors, but the rest are a bit circumspect on
where the got start-up capital. What might be more important
for investors to watch in this group is potential merger and
acquisition activity. With the exception of Calgren, which
seems to be using conventional fermentation and distillation
processes, each appears to have developed unique technologies and
processes. What is more these processes seem to have been
proven economically viable as well as scientifically sound. In
my view, that makes each of these Golden State operators a plum
target for others who need to improve competitive position with
lower-carbon content alternative fuel production.
Debra Fiakas is the Managing Director of Crystal Equity
Research, an alternative
research resource on small capitalization companies in selected
Neither the author of the Small Cap
Strategist web log,
Crystal Equity Research nor its affiliates have a beneficial
interest in the companies mentioned herein.