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Submitted by sproutingforth on Wed, 2008-07-09 09:22
The largest rooftop solar power station in the world is being built in Spain, on the roof of a General Motors car factory. GM, who has taken a recent knock to their Hummer sales, also plans to install solar panels at another 11 plants across Europe.
The power station, with a capacity of 12 megawatts of power, is made up of 85 000 lightweight panels that cover an area of two million square feet. It should produce power by September, and will produce enough energy to power a third of the GM factory or the needs of 4600 households with an average of 3300kWh. The solar energy produced should cut CO2 emissions by 6,700 tonnes a year.
Solar panels on houses usually produce a few kilowatts of power. On large commercial buildings, installations of one or two megawatts are now common. A one-megawatt installation could run about 1,000 air-conditioners while the sun is shining.
Submitted by sproutingforth on Tue, 2008-07-08 09:44
The fact that the solar panels are to power the car’s air-conditioning is little more than a gesture, really. But, nonetheless, Toyota’s remodelling of the Prius hybrid, due to launch next year, is set to flaunt solar panels on its roof.
If it happens, Toyota, in a close race with General Motors for the title of the world's top carmaker, would be the first major carmaker to use a solar power generation system on a mass-produced vehicle. [wheels24]
Solar power is not seen as a viable solution to power cars. Solar panels are expensive due to rising silicon prices and storing energy is difficult. It is unknown how much the solar panels on the new Prius cars will cost, or how many solar-mounted versions Toyota will build. [itweb]
Submitted by sproutingforth on Mon, 2008-07-07 10:04
Green’s 12-year freedom from the grid. For the last 12 years, Rod Green, a retired geophysicist, has enjoyed freedom from the national electricity grid, and is now enjoying freedom from Eskom's load-shedding and unscheduled power interruptions to his farming operations in the Klein Karoo. [engineeringnews]
SA cleans up its glass act. The Glass Recycling Company together with the glass industry has stepped in to deal with the glass bottle overflow since Enviroglass stopped collecting glass for recycling recently. So far, about 500 bottle banks in Gauteng and 300 in Western Cape have been identified and divided into regions for emptying and cleaning. In the long term, a plan to fill the gap left by Reclam and Enviroglass will be worked out by the glass industry and The Glass Recycling Company. [business day]
Retailers & consumers should encourage sustainable packaging says Tom McLaughlin, Woolworths Foods Group manager for the environment, who described the packaging industry’s strained relationship with the environment as “a complete disconnection from the earth’s natural cycles”. Consumers, he said, can do their part by recycling and composting waste. Customers should also be more critical of the packaging and avoid purchasing overpacked items. (about time, don’t you think!) [engineeringnews]
Africa centre stage at G8 summit. African poverty tops the agenda at the start of a three-day summit in the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. The G8 has invited seven African leaders to join the opening day of its annual summit, that closely links poverty with the rising food and fuel prices and global warming. This summit is regarded as the most important G8 summit in a decade. [mail&guardian]
Biofuels no longer an ‘obligation’. EU ministers have informally announced that they’ve been under the false impression that they were obliged to include biofuels as part of their plan to fight global warming. It seems they’ve been misreading the documents - 10% of transport needs must come from renewable energy, not 10% from biofuels. [mail&guardian]
Submitted by turbosprout on Mon, 2008-06-30 11:01
Jai Reddy of Plumstead, Cape Town, has lodged international patents for a solar-powered personal helicopter and hopes to have a prototype airborne within eight months!
Not only will the gyrocopter use a renewable energy source and not emit any pollutants, but Reddy is planning on creating jobs by building the machines in South Africa. He has already had international offers to buy his invention, but is not budging.
Reddy, who is still studying towards his private pilots licence, was aware of the environmental damage caused by aviation and has spent three years and his life savings researching and developing a way to feed his passion for flying whilst conserving the environment.
Despite not having a scientific or avionics design background he has managed to build a scale version of his gyrocopter to test the concept.
"I realised it made scientific sense and I knew I had backed a winning bird. It was worth sacrificing my savings and lifestyle. But the real work begins now. With 95 percent of inventions not making it commercially, I have to make sure mine is among the 5 percent. Funding to take it to the next level is critical", says Reddy.
More on iol
Submitted by turbosprout on Mon, 2008-06-23 10:56
SA carbon giants back global CEO plan
From the World Business Council for Sustainable Development website:
Green fascism or progressive policy?
"We are facing a green dictatorship but nobody dares to say anything," said opposition politician Hermann Uchtmann. [iol]
Investec sees greenbacks in renewable energy
Submitted by sproutingforth on Fri, 2008-06-20 13:10
A roundup of news and happenings on the nuclear scene:
CARTE BLANCHE's RECENT DELVE into what’s happening with the nuclear pebble bed modular reactor (PBMR) and tax payers’ money provides a transcript well worth extra scrutiny – some of the commentary from Alex Erwin begs belief.
It is reassuring to know that our minister is satisfied that ‘all sorts of people’ have assessed the risks involved in going nuclear and that they are ‘understood and known’. The fact that the project is 10 times over budget and 10 years late, however, seems to indicate that something may seriously be wrong with the project.
Are taxpayers really well informed of the risks involved in nuclear energy? Professor Steve Thomas of Greenwich University, one of a panel of scientists employed by the government to give an assessment of the risks back in 2002, doesn’t think so:
Submitted by sproutingforth on Wed, 2008-06-04 10:05
It’s no longer a pipe dream when the Deputy Science and Technology minister announces that an SA designed, battery-operated passenger car will be unveiled in 2009.
There are apparently two designs in the offing. A passenger six-seater car, "designed by a former Jaguar designer", will have a range of between 100km and 400km, and the roof will include solar panels to help charge the battery when parked in the sun. A utility van, something like a panelvan, will be a three-seater.
Both cars will be plugged into the mains at night, when demand
Submitted by sproutingforth on Sun, 2008-06-01 17:21
Alternatives worth exploring:
Harnessing the sun’s heat from pavements. Dutch scientists have figured out how to harness the sun as it beats down on hot highways - cutting heating and road repair bills. At nearly a dozen sites across the Netherlands, embedded in the pavement, lies a network of pipes. Water flows through these pipes and heats up in the summer sun. The warm water is then stored underground, where it stays hot for several months. In the winter, the water is circulated through nearby buildings – homes, industrial complexes, even an airplane hangar – providing warmth. [living on earth]
Australia’s first power plant fuelled by hot rocks, four kilometres blow the Earth’s surface, is due to supply electricity to the sun-scorched Cooper Basin outpost 1100 kilometres north-west of Adelaide by the end of the year. It will be the first exploitation of deep-earth geothermal energy in what is known as the South Australian Heat Flow Anomaly, a vast area of subterranean fractured granite with estimated potential to produce 60 times more electricity than the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme. [maitland mercury]
Fuel cells power plane’s jet engines whilst on the ground. Airbus and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) presented the first commercial aircraft powered by fuel cells at the ILA Berlin Air Show 2008. The fuel cells cannot replace the plane's jet engines for powering the heavy plane through the air. Instead, the goal is to take the first step towards meeting ambitious targets to reduce aircraft environmental impact (fuel use, CO2 emissions and noise) by 50% by 2020: the fuel cells replace the auxiliary power units which meet the plane's power demands when the plane is on the ground. [treehugger]
and more on aeroplanes…
KLM to power planes with algae? The Dutch carrier says if all goes according to plan 12 Fokker-50 planes - representing seven percent of KLM's fleet - will fly on fuel derived from algae by 2010. Most likely, the planes will be powered by a blend of fuels, though according to AlgaeLink, KLM has every intention of running the 12 Fokkers on 100% biofuel. Biofuels of this type being developed are theoretically carbon nuetral, don't compete with foodstocks, and should be relatively cheap. [triplepundit] via [hugg]
Submitted by turbosprout on Mon, 2008-05-26 20:28
SA's first renewable energy power initiative feeding into the national grid was officially powered up on Friday. The R75-million Darling Wind Farm consists of four turbines of 1.3 MW capacity generating a total of 5.2 MW of beautiful clean energy!
The idea for Darling Wind Power was conceived way back in 2000 and has been in the pipeline for a number of years now, so it's great to see this project come to fruition. Construction of the turbines started in 2006 and took two years to complete. The City of Cape Town has signed a long term power purchase agreement with the independant power producer (IPP), reportedly at a premium of 25% above the Eskom electricity price, which has made the project financially viable.
The opening was attended by Minerals and Energy Minister, Buyelwa Sonjica, not wanting to miss out on grabbing a renewable energy photo-opportunity in the wake of the Eskom power crisis, and Western Cape MEC for Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Tasneen Essop. Essop commented that this was a highly significant project for the province that will contribute to the provinces target of increasing generation of renewable energy to 15% by 2014.
Darling Wind Power CEO Hermann Oelsner stated
Submitted by sproutingforth on Fri, 2008-05-16 12:11
Everyone’s talking solar, which is no real surprise given the power crisis. It isn’t just a national crisis however but part of a far wider reaching global energy ‘over indulgence’ in dirty, non-renewable energy.
Whatever the reason for reading this – whether it’s that you want to take advantage of Eskom’s solar water heating incentive programme, or that you want to live a greener life - there is an urgent need to shift to renewable, non-polluting energy sources, like the sun, to provide our energy needs.
The difference between solar water heating and solar photovoltaics