LEDs Light the Way to a Smaller Footprint, to Surge Ahead in Coming Years

Shedding more light on the path to soften our environmental footprint, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) recently shared a key way for us to use less resources. A new report from the Department of Energy and UK–based N14 Energy Limited found that LEDs are leading the way into the future.

“The light-emitting diode lamp is a rapidly evolving technology that, while already energy-efficient, will become even more so in just a few short years,” said Marc Ledbetter, who manages PNNL’s solid-state lighting testing, analysis, and deployment efforts.

“Our comprehensive analysis indicates technological advancements in the near future will help people who use these lamps to keep shrinking their environmental footprints.”

This is the first public report to examine the environmental impact of LED manufacturing in depth. Various impacts were considered when evaluating environmental footprints, including the potential to increase global warming; use land formerly available to wildlife; generate waste; and pollute water, soil, and air.

The report examined the complete life cycles of three kinds of light bulbs: light-emitting diodes (also called LEDs), compact fluorescents (or CFLs), and traditional incandescent light bulbs.

Less Footprint, More Resources

As consumers, if we choose to use energy-efficient lighting, it is another way to keep shrinking our environmental footprints. At the moment, LEDs & CFLs are quite comparable on that front.

“Regardless of whether consumers use LEDs or CFLs, this analysis shows we could reduce the environmental impact of lighting by three to 10 times if we choose more efficient bulbs instead of incandescents,” Ledbetter said.

led lamp up close

LED Light bulb closeup — people who use these lamps shrink their environmental footprints.

This report, completed for the Solid-State Lighting Program of DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, is the first public report to examine the environmental impact of LED manufacturing in depth.

Leave Your Incandescents Behind

Along with all the concerns regarding lights and resources, this study shows that the difference between those two bulbs’ overall environmental performance is largely determined by the energy and resources needed to make them. But both are worlds better than incandescents.

“By using more energy to create light, incandescent bulbs also use more of the natural resources needed to generate the electricity that powers them,” Ledbetter said.

This and other DOE reports on solid-state lighting are available online.

Source: Heather E. Dillon and Michael J. Scholand, “Life-Cycle Assessment of Energy and Environmental Impacts of LED Lighting Products, Part 2: LED Manufacturing and Performance,” June 2012.
Images: Philips AmbientLED by John Loo; LED Lightbulb closeup by matt512

Clean Technica (http://s.tt/1n10e)

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Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging — Will it Work?

Parking_bays_for_electric_cars

It’s intended to take the hassle out of electric vehicle charging, and, according to its designers, Qualcomm, is a simple but effective alternative to cumbersome plug-in charging stations. Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging (WEVC) is designed to eliminate unsightly charging stations and unnecessary cables, and with just about everything else we use today incorporating wireless technology, it seems like the next logical step for the plight of the eco-friendly car. Here we look at how plausible the innovative idea is before it goes on trial in London in November.

How would it work?

Wireless charging makes use of an electromagnetic field which transfers energy between two objects. The idea is that drivers will be able to park up at a charging station and have their vehicle recharged without even leaving their seat. Those who struggle to remember the basics of parallel parking from their driving lessons need not worry, as perfect pad and vehicle alignment won’t be necessary.

The technology, named Qualcomm Halo, will incorporate smaller batteries than are currently used at charging stations, but Qualcomm explains that drivers will be able to charge their car little and often, with increasing convenience. As these spaces will remain reserved for electric vehicle owners, there will hopefully be an increase in those converting from fuel cars.

The London experiment

The main vehicle test will be carried out using a specially adapted Delta Motorsport E4 Coupe. The Formula 1 car designer was required to add the pad to the vehicle in order to connect it to the road unit, as well as a touch screen interface to let the driver know when he or she is aligned with the charging pad.

Throughout the trial, charging pads stationed at Qualcomm’s West London office and at minicab company Addison Lee, will be put into practice. The initiative, supported by Prime Minister David Cameron is designed to demonstrate how WEVC can work in busy cities, such as London.

Time, or rather the lack of it, is everything in the city, so the option of quick, easy, and readily available charging is particularly appealing. With many making short but frequent trips, presumably the need for more charging pads will grow, as, hopefully, will the market for eco-friendly vehicles. As an added incentive, drivers of electric cars can expect to avoid the daily cost of London’s congestion charge.

So, is it plausible?

In short, yes. Technology is ever advancing, and Qualcomm Halo not only recognizes this, but also promotes the needed reduction of fuel emissions.

It’s not, however, alone in its wireless charging quest, with a similar trial already underway in Germany. Concept vehicles have also emerged from both Rolls-Royce, Delphi, and Infiniti/Nissan that include wireless charging technology. GoogleHertz, and Plugless Power are also testing out wireless charging technology. And researchers in Tokyo have created an electric roadway demo that wirelessly charges EVs.

Although wireless charging is designed, first and foremost, for city driving, it remains to be seen if it could ever work outside of the city. The fact that motorists may well require a car for both urban and rural driving, therefore, poses a problem.

Eco-friendly driving constantly comes up against questions of how practical it is, and Qualcomm’s idea is no exception. Certainly, the short-term vision has a lot of promise, but the long-term success of WEVC remains to be seen.

This guest post was written by an eco-friendly driver and blogger, Isabelle Guarella, on behalf of PassSmart.com.

Clean Technica (http://s.tt/1m5rg)

New Construction Methods Could Make Offshore Wind Turbines More Efficient

A Cambridge University engineer is urging the wind power industry to look at the designs for offshore wind turbines in an effort to increase their efficiency and decrease the amount of energy required to produce and install the massive towers at sea.

Jim Platts of the Institute for Manufacturing at the University of Cambridge believes that the wind power sector could achieve much higher payback ratios if turbines were installed using guyed towers rather than the heavy free-standing towers currently in use.

“The development of the wind turbine industry, and the way in which it works with the civil engineers who make the heavy supporting towers and foundations, which are not visible out at sea once the turbines are installed, mean that we have ignored something which is almost embarrassingly obvious in our race to meet the targets set for renewable energy production,” said Platts.

“We urgently need to reduce the high levels of energy embedded in offshore wind turbines which make them both ineffective in energy payback and costly in financial terms. We can do this fairly easily if we invest in more innovative methods for making and installing the towers and foundations that support them.”

The effectiveness of a wind turbine is determined by one key figure: it’s harvesting ratio.

This ratio is a measure of the energy it provides compared to the amount of energy required to manufacture the tower.

Wind turbines comprise three main elements: the blades that harness the wind energy; the gearbox and generator mechanisms that produce the electricity; the tower that supports these moving parts; and the foundations that hold the tower in place. The tower is conventionally made of steel and the foundation in steel and concrete.

A turbine used on land will see two-thirds of the total energy invested to produce the tower embeeded in the moving parts, with the final third invested into the tower structure. Onshore turbines usually achieve a harvesting ratio of 40:1.

However, when you situate a turbine offshore, with the need for heavier towers and massive foundations, the harvesting ratio drops to 15:1. “When you look at offshore wind turbines you see a series of slim structures – what you don’t see are the far heavier supporting structures below the surface that they slot into,” said Platts.

“Steel is prone to corrosion and to fatigue,” Platts added. “This begs the question: could we do better with other materials. The answer is yes, we can use composites for towers just as we do for blades. They are lighter, stronger, corrosion free and more resilient than steel.”

A preliminary study conducted by the University Institute for Manufacturing suggests that guyed towers could offer significant advantages that conventional heavy towers lack. The use of steel cables fixed to the sea bed by screw anchors could result in significantly slimmer towers and less weighty foundations.

The study found that with the resulting reduction in steel and concrete, the harvesting ratio would increase to 25:1.

“The use of guyed towers is just the first step for the industry to take. The second step would be to make towers in composite materials which are less energy intensive to make than steel which relies on smelting and concrete that also depends on a chemical reduction process in manufacturing cement.  Composites also have a longer life than steel as they stand up to fatigue much better. Using these new materials could increase the harvesting ratio still further to 32:1 and extend the lifetime of a turbine installation from the present 20 years to up to 60 years,” said Platts.

“The Finnish wind turbine manufacturer Mervento has shown the way with a guyed turbine designed for use in the Baltic. Other producers – such as those making turbines for sites in the North Sea – need to take heed and invest in research into designs that take a similar approach to making the industry far more energy efficient and sustainable.”

Source: University of Cambridge
Image Source: Phil Hollman

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Urban Green Energy and GE Announce First Sanya Skypump Installation

BARCELONA, Spain–(BUSINESS WIRE)–

Urban Green Energy (UGE) and GE (GE) have unveiled the world’s first integrated wind-powered electric vehicle charging station. The innovative Sanya Skypump pairs UGE’s cutting-edge vertical wind turbines with GE’s electric vehicle (EV) charging technology to offer completely clean energy to power electric vehicles.

Installed by UGE Iberia, the Spanish branch of New York-based Urban Green Energy, the first wind-powered EV charging station is located at Cespa’s global headquarters near Barcelona. Cespa is the environmental services subsidiary of Ferrovial Servicios, the world’s largest private transportation infrastructure investor.

More Sanya Skypumps will be installed later this year in the U.S. and Australia at shopping malls, universities and other locations.

The integrated system incorporates both the energy production capacity of UGE’s 4K wind turbine and the EV charging capability of the GE Durastation in a single unit, with all required electrical systems located within the tower.

Designed for commercial and government customers, the Sanya Skypump combines environmental benefits with a strong statement to customers and the public.

“Since launching the Sanya Skypump, we have received inquiries from companies around the world that are looking to embrace sustainability,” said Nick Blitterswyk, CEO of UGE. “The Sanya Skypump is one of those rare products that enable institutions to demonstrate their commitment to the environment while providing a really useful service as well.”

The Sanya Skypump delivers power through a GE DuraStation EV charger, which enables faster charging using higher voltages.

Charles Elazar, marketing director of GE Energy Management’s Industrial Solutions business in Europe, says, “GE is launching a family of electric vehicle charging systems in Europe offering domestic and commercial users a range of easy-to-use, flexible systems to help make electric vehicles a practical, everyday reality.”

GE is a keen supporter of electric vehicles and has announced plans to purchase 25,000 electric vehicles by 2015 for use as company cars and to lease to corporate customers through its Fleet Services business.

About Urban Green Energy

With installations in over 65 countries, including installations for several government agencies and Fortune 100 companies, UGE is changing the face of distributed renewable energy. UGE puts users in control of their energy source by designing and manufacturing more versatile wind turbines and hybrid wind/solar systems for use in applications ranging from residential to commercial, from suburban US homeowners to off-grid telecoms towers in rural Africa. Visitwww.urbangreenenergy.com today to learn how together we can create a greener tomorrow.

About GE

GE (GE) works on things that matter. The best people and the best technologies taking on the toughest challenges. Finding solutions in energy, health and home, transportation and finance. Building, powering, moving and curing the world. Not just imagining. Doing. GE works. For more information, visit the company’s website at www.ge.com.

GE Energy works connecting people and ideas everywhere to create advanced technologies for powering a cleaner, more productive world. With more than 100,000 employees in over 100 countries, our diverse portfolio of product and service solutions and deep industry expertise help our customers solve their challenges locally. We serve the energy sector with technologies in such areas as natural gas, oil, coal and nuclear energy; wind, solar, biogas and water processing; energy management; and grid modernization. We also offer integrated solutions to serve energy- and water-intensive industries such as mining, metals, marine, petrochemical, food & beverage and unconventional fuels.

Follow GE’s Industrial Solutions business on Twitter @GEindustrial and @GE_WattStation.

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2014 Tesla Model X Vs. 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV: Electric SUV Showdown?

The 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV is unique, the only all-electric compact sport-utility vehicle sold by a major automaker in the U.S.

Behind the wheel, its Tesla-developed powertrain makes it peppy but quiet, while it maintains all the cargo and people space of the original gasoline version.

There’s really only one vehicle that’s even close to comparable, and that doesn’t exist yet: the 2014 Tesla Model X all-electric crossover, of which prototypes were unveiled in February.

Comparing a real car to a hypothetical one is an exercise in speculation.

But spurred on by a review on TheStreet.com that suggests buyers view the Toyota RAV4 EV as a Tesla for half the price, we decided to do it anyway.

SIZE:The 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV is a compact crossover, in the popular segment that includes the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, and Nissan Rogue. The 2014 Tesla Model X, on the other hand, is a segment larger, competing with the Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, and undoubtedly pricier and more luxurious import-brand SUVs like the Audi Q7, BMW X5, Range Rover, and Mercedes-Benz GL. Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] says the Model X has the dimensions of the Audi Q7 but 40 percent more interior space.

SEATING: The RAV4 EV seats four comfortably, five in a pinch. The electric Teslasport utility, on the other hand, will offer seven seats (as does the Model S sedan with its optional jump seats, though the last two are only child-sized).

2012 Toyota RAV4 EV, Newport Beach, California, July 2012

2012 Toyota RAV4 EV, Newport Beach, California, July 2012

WEIGHT: The electric RAV4 weighs 4,030 pounds, while no weight has been given for the Model X. Since it’s larger, we’d expect it to be rather heavier than the Model S sedan on which it’s based, which comes in at 4,650 pounds for the 40-kWh version.

BATTERY SIZE: The RAV4 EV has 41.8 kilowatt-hours of usable pack capacity, though oddly Toyota won’t give the total pack size. The Model X will offer 60-kWh and 85-kWh options, though unlike the Model S sedan, it won’t have a 40-kWh version.

POWER: The Toyota RAV4 EV uses the same electric motor as the Tesla Model S sedan, but its power is limited to 115 kilowatts (154 horsepower) by the battery pack output.The Tesla Model X will likely use the Model S motor–with peak power of 270 kW (362 hp)–in the standard version, and two electric motors (one per axle) of unspecified power for the all-wheel drive model. Tesla says there will be a Model X Performance edition as well.

DRIVE WHEELSToyota’s electric RAV4 is offered only in front-wheel drive, although Toyota’s program leader Sheldon Brown said that at least one all-wheel drive prototype was built, adding a second motor at the rear to complement the existing one up front. The Model X will be offered with rear-wheel drive standard, plus an optional all-wheel drive version that adds a second motor for the front wheels.

VOLUME: Toyota will build only 2,600 RAV4 EVs for the 2012 through 2014 model years. Tesla has said it could sell 10,000 to 15,000 Model X crossovers a year once full production levels are reached.

Tesla Model XTesla Model X

PRICE: The list price of the 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV is $49,800, with a $2,500 California purchase rebate, and buyers may qualify for a $7,500 Federal tax credit. No price has been announced for the 2014 Model X, but Tesla says prices will be “comparable” to the base

Source: Green Car Reports

Australia Rides the Tide Toward a Wave Energy Future

Don’t look now, but Australia is setting itself up to ride the wave to a tidal-powered clean energy future. In a nation long known as one of the coal capitals of the world, the ocean’s potential to provide electricity without emissions gets clearer every day.

A new report from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), the national scientific research entity, found the motion of the ocean could supply about 11 percent of Australia’s electricity by 2050. This power could be generated across as little as 150 kilometers of coastline, depending on the installed technology, and could be reliably forecast three days in advance.

The finding is a big deal for a nation where 80 percent of the population lives along the coast, and is equivalent to powering Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city.

Potential along Almost Every Coast

Wave-power potential is greatest along the country’s southern coastline, driven by strong winds that generate consistently large waves, but it is also notable near Australia’s eastern coast, alongside its main population centers. The study mainly cited tidal energy, but also examined the niche potential of ocean thermal power to supply local power needs along the northern Queensland coast.

Australian wave energy potential

Notable Hurdles in the Way

While ocean energy’s potential is massive and ought to be explored, the study also found significant hurdles in the way. Researchers note that ocean currents can move over time, meaning infrastructure built in one area may not always be ideal. In addition, the ocean energy industry is still working to build generator blades large and strong enough to withstand constant use and corrosive conditions.

Environmental, economic, and cultural considerations could also prove prohibitive, including impacts to marine protected areas, indigenous land rights, shipping lanes, defense, and recreation. The report also notes wave energy’s future hinges on the success of Australia’s carbon tax, which began operation this year but has been threatened with repeal by the country’s opposition political party.

Wave Energy Cresting across the Country

Even with these unknown factors looming large, the island nation is rising with the tide toward realizing its renewable energy potential. Australia recently committed $10 million to help bring two new wave energy systems to market, including the world’s biggest wave energy turbine, a 250-kilowatt (kW) full-scale pilot plant.

The world’s largest wave energy project, a 19-megawatt installation, is also expected to begin construction in 2013 off the southeastern state of Victoria. The joint public-private effort between Lockheed-Martin, Ocean Power Technologies, and the Australian government should start generating electricity in 2014 and be fully online by 2017.

Australia’s navy is also moving full-steam toward wave power. HMAS Stirling, the largest naval installation in the country, recently signed a power supply deal to secure electricity from an installation of submerged buoys off the western coast of Perth.

Like most renewable energy technologies, wave power is expected to become more affordable and cost-competitive as additional testing is completed and more projects come online. One recent estimate found wave energy will drop to $100 per megawatt-hour (MWh) by 2020 – a price on par with offshore wind.

Wave energy is still in its nascent stages, but CSIRO’s report means it could soon grow to a tidal wave in Australia’s clean energy future. “Assessing the opportunities and challenges from resource to the market is a first for ocean renewable energy,” said Ian Cresswell, the report’s director.

Wave image via Shutterstock; Australian wave energy potential image via CSIRO

Clean Technica (http://s.tt/1jo09)

Competing projects propose $500 home Cng Fueler

Eaton Corp. and General Electric Co. are working on competing projects to develop a $500 home natural gas fueling station, a product that could entice car owners to switch to a fuel whose price has plummeted because of shale drilling.

The companies’ efforts are part of a U.S. Department of Energy push to reduce the cost of such stations, which can sell for more than $5,000, and the time it takes to refuel as a way to attract more people to drive vehicles powered by compressed natural gas.

An affordable CNG station for homes could “revolutionize” how Americans commute, Dane Boysen, director of an Energy Department program to encourage use of the fuel in vehicles, said in a statement from Cleveland, Ohio-based Eaton.

“My hope is that these advanced technologies will enable us to use our abundant domestic supply of natural gas for transportation, diversifying our nation’s fuel and refueling portfolio for the future,” he said.

CNG is selling at retail for the equivalent of about $2.09 per gallon of gasoline, according to Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy Corp., one of the nation’s largest producers of natural gas. Monday in Tulsa, the most common price of regular-grade gasoline was $3.39 a gallon.

Eaton said its technology will tap into a home’s existing natural gas system. The company is developing the home station with the University of Minnesota, funded in part by a $3.4 million Energy Department grant. The company said it will draw on its experience installing electric-vehicle charging stations across the nation.

GE said last week that it’s working with Chart Industries Inc. and the University of Missouri to develop a fueling station. The Fairfield, Conn.-based company received a $1.8 million Energy Department grant, according to Todd Alhart, a GE spokesman.

The Energy Department is also funding projects including storage tanks being developed by Ford Motor Co. and United Technologies Corp. in separate efforts.

Thanks to drilling technologies to recover the natural gas from shale rock, the market price of the fuel is about 80 percent lower than four years ago. Monday on the New York Mercantile Exchange, natural gas rose a penny to finish the trading day at $3.09 per 1,000 cubic feet.​

This article was first published by Tulsa World.