California and American West Top 2012 State Clean Energy Index

California is the top clean energy state in the United States for the third consecutive year, and the American West region continues to lead the national clean tech economy, according to a new ranking from industry analysts Clean Edge.

The 2012 State Clean Energy Index, the third-annual such analysis, aggregates various industry data into one scoring system. Overall scores are awarded on a 100-point scale based on three categories – installed technology (clean electricity, clean transportation, energy intelligence & green building), policy outlook (regulations & mandates, incentives), and invested capital (financial, human & intellectual).

#1 — California

California dominated the rankings with a 91.1 score, more than 10 points higher than the second-ranked state, even though it lost 4.2 points from 2011. The Golden State “has established itself as the world’s preeminent testing ground for clean technology of all kinds,” and led the country in nearly all aspects of market expansion, including new wind and solar, hybrid and electric vehicles (EV), and green building.

However, the state’s most notable achievement comes in attracting venture capital. California-based clean energy startups saw $9 billion in investment over the past three years, more than the combined total of all 49 other states.

#2 — Oregon

Oregon held onto its second-place rank, gaining 0.5 points for a 79.9 score. Clean Edge credits the state’s success to consumer-driven demand for clean tech products and services, the highest national participation rates for voluntary green pricing programs, the largest concentration of LEED-certified buildings, and one of the highest rates of hybrid-electric vehicles per-capita.

#3 — Massachusetts

Massachusetts jumped 4.3 points to retain its third-place rank with a score of 76.1. Clean Edge attributes the state’s strength to an existing base of energy efficiency measures, a $500-million infusion of venture capital investment in 2011, and the Boston metro region’s network of universities. The index considers this concentration of education and startups second only to Silicon Valley.

#4 — Washington State

Washington State, buoyed by a 9-point increase, jumped from sixth overall in 2010 to the fourth-ranked state in 2011 with a score of 69.0. This ranking was due to newly added wind capacity and strong hydropower output, which helped to generate more than 84 percent of all in-state electricity from low-carbon sources (up from 72 percent in 2010). In addition, the state’s focus on building out an EV charging network could make it an industry epicenter moving forward.

#5 — Colorado

Rounding out the top five was Colorado, which maintained the fifth-overall rank from 2010 with a five-point score increase to 65.1. Clean tech infrastructure continues to grow in the state, especially in green building, wind power, and solar photovoltaics. Interestingly, Colorado also checks in as the third most attractive destination for venture capital investment, thanks largely to the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

National trends

Clean Edge also noted four impressive national trends:

  • Six states now generate more than 10 percent of their utility-scale electricity from wind, solar, and geothermal – twice as many as 2010.
  • Nearly two million hybrid cars are now registered in the U.S., and nearly 50,000 all-electric vehicles now ride our roads.
  • The 29 states with renewable portfolio standards (along with Washington, D.C.) now represent nearly two-thirds of the total national generating capacity.
  • Clean energy patents granted to U.S. entities exceeded the 1,000 mark for the first time in history.

Remainder of top ten

The index also highlights interesting factors that helped determine the rank of the rest of the top-ten states:

  • New York State (64.9) ranked sixth, generating more GDP dollars per kilowatt-hours consumed as a result of extensive energy efficiency measures, and the upstate region is a growing hotbed of clean energy R&D.
  • Illinois (59.8) ranked seventh, reflecting rural areas of the state’s focus on agriculture and biofuels development as well as Chicago’s leadership in green building and energy efficiency.
  • New Mexico (58.1) ranked eighth, due largely to the state’s growing importance to the solar industry and importance as a key market for PV deployment and technology development.
  • Vermont (56.5) ranked ninth on the strength of an environmentally minded population, high percentage of hybrid-EV deployment, and energy efficiency measures.
  • Minnesota (54.6) ranked tenth as a notable national leader in wind energy and biofuels. The state was one of only five in 2011 to generate 10 percent of its power needs from wind, and is among the highest national ethanol producers.

Even though national support for clean energy technology may be uncertain, state-level support remains strong and the green economy continues to grow. “The state-level scene shows a diversity that crosses political boundaries and regions,” said Ron Pernick, Clean Edge managing director. “The next decade will determine which nations, states, and cites lead in clean tech.”

Source: Clean Technica (http://s.tt/1d4mi)

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What every homeowner should know about geothermal

What Owners Should Know

  • How do I know if the dealer and loop installers are qualified?
  • Can a geothermal heat pump be added to my fossil fuel furnace?
  • Is a geothermal heat pump difficult to install?
  • I have ductwork, but will it work with this system?
  • If a home has ceiling cable heat or baseboard heat, do air ducts need to be installed?
  • Do I need to increase the size of my electric service?
  • What is the BTU size of the furnace that’s being proposed?
  • Should I buy a geothermal heat pump large enough to heat without any supplemental heat?
  • How long is the payback period for a geothermal system?

How do I know if the dealer and loop installers are qualified?
Don’t be afraid to ask for references from dealers. A reputable dealer or loop installer won’t hesitate to give you names and numbers to call to confirm his capabilities.

Can a geothermal heat pump be added to my fossil fuel furnace?
Split systems easily can be added to existing furnaces for those wishing to have a dual-fuel heating system. Dual-fuel systems use the heat pump as the main heating source and a fossil fuel furnace as a supplement in extremely cold weather if additional heat is needed.

Is a geothermal heat pump difficult to install?
Most units are easy to install, particularly when they replace another forced-air system. They can be installed in areas unsuitable for fossil fuel furnaces because there is no combustion, thus no need to vent exhaust gases. Ductwork must be installed in homes that don’t have an existing air distribution system. The difficulty of installing ductwork will vary and should be assessed by a contractor. Another popular way to use geothermal technology is with in-floor radiant heating, in which hot water circulating through pipes under the floor heats the room.

I have ductwork, but will it work with this system?
In all probability, yes. Your installing contractor should be able to determine ductwork requirements and any minor modifications if needed.

If a home has ceiling cable heat or baseboard heat, do air ducts need to be installed?
Not always. It may be desirable to install geothermal heat pump room units. For some small homes, a one-room unit would handle the heating and cooling needs. Ceiling cable or baseboard units could be used for supplemental heat if desired.

Do I need to increase the size of my electric service?
Geothermal heat pumps don’t use large amounts of resistance heat so your existing service may be adequate. Generally, a 200-amp service will have enough capacity and smaller amp services may be large enough in some cases. Your electric utility or contractor can determine your service needs.

What is the BTU size of the furnace that’s being proposed?
Furnaces are designed to provide specific amounts of heat energy per hour. The term “BTUH” refers to how much heat can be produced by the unit in an hour. Before you can determine what size furnace you’ll need, you must have a heat loss/heat gain calculation done on the structure. From that, an accurate determination can be made of the size of the system you’ll need. Most fossil fuel furnaces are substantially oversized for heating requirements, resulting in increased operating cost and unpleasant temperature swings.

Should I buy a geothermal heat pump large enough to heat with no supplemental heat?
Your contractor should provide a heating and cooling load calculation (heat loss, heat gain) to guide your equipment selection. Geothermal heat pumps typically are sized to meet your cooling requirements. Depending on your heating needs, a geothermal heat pump will supply 80-100 percent of your design heating load. Sizing the heat pump to handle your entire heating needs may result in slightly lower heating costs, but the savings may not offset the added cost of the larger heat pump unit and larger loop installation. Also, an oversized unit can cause dehumidification problems in the cooling mode, resulting in a loss of summer comfort.

How long is the payback period for a geothermal system?
To figure this accurately, you must know how much you’ll save each year in energy costs with a geothermal system as well as the price difference between it and an ordinary heating system and central air conditioner.

As an example: If you’ll save $700 per year with a geothermal system and the price difference is $2,000, your payback will be less than three years. If you install a geothermal system in a new home, the monthly savings in operating costs generally will offset the additional monthly cost in the mortgage, resulting in an immediate positive cash flow.

Source : Waterfurnace

World’s Largest Solar Bridge Being Constructed in UK

4,000 Solar panels will go on the roof of Blackfriars Bridge

A remarkable rooftop solar project is now under construction in the UK. Solarcentury reports it is installing a solar roof containing over 4,000 photovoltaic panels above a bridge spanning the River Thames – a part of the Blackfriars station. When complete, the Blackfriars Bridge will be the world’s largest solar bridge.

This Victorian-style bridge, built in 1886, is being renovated by Network Rail to accommodate more passengers and provide improved train service. The project is scheduled for completion by mid-2012.

According to Solarcentury, the solar panels are expected to generate an estimated 900,000kWh of electricity annually, some 50 percent of the station’s energy requirements. CO2 emissions will be reduced by an estimated 511 tons per year. In addition to solar panels, other energy saving measures at the new station will include rain harvesting systems and sun pipes for natural lighting.

The Blackfriars upgrade is part of Network Rail’s Thameslink programme, intended to provide longer trains running on the Bedford to Brighton route through London. When the upgrade is complete, up to 24 trains per hour will be able to run on the central London section of the route, providing more commuter seating.

In a statement, Lindsay Vamplew, Network Rail’s project director for Blackfriars, said: “We’re creating a spacious, modern station and delivering a vastly improved train service for passengers, while at the same time installing London’s largest solar array to make Blackfriars more environmentally-friendly and sustainable.


Derry Newman, Chief Executive, Solarcentury, said: “Blackfriars Bridge is an ideal location for solar; a new, iconic large roof space, right in the heart of London.

Newman added that unknown to most, there are many buildings in London now powered by solar in the capital as investment in this technology increases. “For people to see that solar power is working is a vital step towards a clean energy.

Photos via Solarcentury

Source: Clean Technica (http://s.tt/15JfY)

Geothermal for your home- Benefits & Great Savings

Residential

A GSHP system can be installed in a residential structure of any size, anywhere, whether it is single-family or multi-family. GSHPs can be installed on almost any size lot: under lawns, landscaped areas, driveways, or the house itself. An existing house can be retrofitted with a GSHP using the ductwork that is already there. Your dealer/installer will be able to determine ductwork requirements and if any minor modifications are needed. Home builders and homeowners can both take advantage of the special financing that is offered in many locations on a GSHP either through the utility or manufacturer.

The Department of Energy (DOE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have both endorsed ground source heat pump systems as among the most energy efficient and environmentally friendly heating, cooling, and water heating systems available. In a 1993 report, the EPA concluded that geothermal technologies represent a major opportunity for reducing national energy use and pollution, while delivering comfort, reliability and savings to homeowners.

Ground Source Heat Pumps offer great benefits:

  • Can be a combination heating/cooling and hot water heating system
  • Some can save you up to 50% on your water-heating bill by preheating tank water
  • Made of mechanical components that are either buried in the ground or located inside the home
  • About the same size as a traditional heating/cooling unit
  • Pipe carries up to a 50-year warranty
  • Can cut energy consumption by 20 to 50% and reduce maintenance costs
  • Keep the air warmer in the winter (90 -105¡ F) and at a more consistent temperature throughout the home, eliminating the hot and cold spots common with other systems
  • Very quiet, providing a pleasant environment inside & outside the home
  • No noisy fan units to disturb outdoor activities
  • No exposed equipment outdoors; children or pets cannot injure themselves or damage exterior units
  • No open flame, flammable fuel or potentially dangerous fuel storage tanks

GSHPs offer great savings:

  • One of the most efficient residential heating and cooling systems available today
  • Heating efficiencies 50 to 70% higher than other heating systems and cooling efficiencies 20 to 40% higher than available air conditioners
  • Save money in operating and maintenance costs
  • Investments recouped in only a few years
  • Positive cash flow; energy savings usually exceed the cost of the system
  • Some utilities offer rebates or incentives to their customers who purchase GSHPs. To see what your state has to offer click here.
  • Many heat pump manufacturers, local utilities, and lending institutions have special financing for homeowners who are installing GSHPs

GSHPs are environmentally friendly:

  • Conserve natural resources by providing climate control efficiently and thus lowering emissions
  • Minimize ozone layer destruction by using factory-sealed refrigeration systems, which will seldom or never have to be recharged
  • Uses underground loops to transfer heat, with no external venting and no air pollution

Source – IGSHPA