Go to The Oil Drum for the rest:
The NREL/GE Energy WWSIS study appears to be built on several questionable assumptions, each allowing the modeled system (of up to 30% wind/5% solar in the West Connect within the great Western Interconnect) to withstand the inherent difficulties of large scale renewable integration. The primary issue, consistent with my dissertation research, is that the authors assume that we can afford to massively overbuild the capacity of the system, adding the large percentages of renewable generation on top of newly built and existing plants. This allows one to be able to ignore the hourly or sub-hourly periods with extremely low output from renewables, as well as the days or weeks at a time during the summer when wind production is well below yearly average output levels. An ample reserve is at the ready to step in when renewables perform poorly. Secondly and equally important, the authors assume that coal plants, which have traditionally run in a base load capacity, will be able to be operated very flexibly â€“ on par with combined cycle gas plants. This allows the authors, on one hand, to state that electricity prices will be kept low, because we will still be able to burn less expensive coal as our primary non-renewable source of electricity (instead of having to switch to more expensive natural gas), but also to claim increased upside flexibility in the system to deal with periods where wind and solar output decrease rapidly and reserves need to be brought on line. Next, like previous studies, the authors assume that there is an â€śawayâ€ť to export excess generation to during times of overproduction. By assuming that the greater Western Interconnect is available to absorb excess production (by economic dispatch and regional grid management), the authors assume minimal to no curtailment in wind production needed in periods of overproduction. If on the other hand balancing is limited to smaller areas, the authors admit that the system might not be stable.
It is my opinion that this study is far from conclusive in its assertion that very high penetrations of wind and solar electricity generation are feasible in the Western Interconnect. Although the authors of the study performed a very detailed analysis, it is one that I feel is based on technological, bureaucratic, and political optimism.
Google’s Street View fleet has a new low-tech edition: the Google Trike. For those not familiar with the street capture technology, it’s a feature on Google Maps that allows you to view actual images of a street location — in 360 degrees. Beyond the fascinating technology that puts this all together — what’s even more impressive is the army of employees out there on the roads of America (and almost every other country) taking panoramic snapshots using the Google camera vehicles.
Of course, cars (thankfully) aren’t allowed to go everywhere. But that hasn’t stopped Google. The search engine giant has instead hacked a trike to carry the necessary equipment to get the digital deed done. From Autobloggreen,
The three-wheeled, human-powered overgrown tricycles carry 250 pounds of ballast in the form of “a mounted Street View camera and a specially decorated box containing image collecting gadgetry,” says the internet giant. All that extra heft reportedly requires a “specially trained super fit” rider. Google’s new trikes will be deployed first in Genoa, Italy, this spring. Assuming that launch proves successful, Google will send its pedal-powered cameras to the United Kingdom, where they’ll point their lenses towards a slew of famous British landmarks.
We imagine one would definitely have to be “superfit” to lug these things around — but a great design effort on the part of Google nonetheless to overcome vehicular limitations.
Wired via Autobloggreen
There are lots of ways to take shorter showers — saving you money, water, etc. We’ve seen shower timers and spouts that turn different colors as time goes on — but the inflatable shower curtain is the first one that seriously forces you to get in and get out, lest you want to suffocate or become trapped.
The idea was designed by Elisabeth Buecher who answered the question: “How can your shower fight water overconsumption in either a disturbing or a gorgeous way, using innovative materials, printing techniques and inflatable technology?” Her response: This shower curtain slowly inflates around you while you shower. It leaves you only a few minutes to take your shower before trapping you.
She’s also got one with inflatable spikes that slowly push you out over a period of time. I actually prefer that one to getting trapped in plastic. Check out her site for additional pics! (Warning: Some are NSFW!)
Philips has announced that their new Master LED Bulb will be ready for mass consumption this coming July. For all the energy-savings that CFL bulbs have given us, they’ve also had some PR issues — especially when it comes to light color and mercury. LED takes everything that CFL offers, turns up the efficiency (over 30x more long-lasting than a incandescent bulb), and contains no mercury.
There are still some issues to work out with LED — one being that this Philips is expected to cost $50-$70. But price and aesthetics will be resolved over time. I just find it amazing that with this technology in place, my kid won’t know what it’s like to change a light bulb for many, many, years.
Philips via Gizmodo
Vampire power is a big problem, even though you hit power off on that remote it doesn’t mean your television isn’t still sucking energy from the grid. Electronic appliances in standby mode can add up to 10% of your electric bill.
Good for You, Good for the Planet, a company based in Madrid, Spain, has developed a product to bring an end to the wasted electricity of standby mode. When the user desires to power the system up again it will power it up again without having to send the appliance through its start-up sequence again.
NH Hoteles SA of Spain has been testing a prototype of Mr. GarcĂa’s gadget at some of the chain’s 350 hotels in 22 countries. It hopes to install the device in its 50,000 rooms as part of a drive to cut energy use by 20% by 2012.
“We’re very interested in this product and are seeing how we can implement it in the short or medium term,” says Luis Ortega, the chain’s director of environment and engineering. “That small saving, multiplied by 24 hours, 365 days a year, makes quite a big difference — especially when you’re talking about 50,000 television sets.”
Until technology like this becomes mainstream, you can kill vampire power in your home or office simply by unplugging or switching off yourÂ plug-strips.
via: The Wall Street Journal
We’ve been following General Electric’s advances in OLED (or Organic Light-Emitting Diode) over the past year — and with good reason. The company is a leader in the quest to push efficiency in lighting applications to the next level and the glimpses we’ve been seeing are an exciting taste of what’s to come.
To kind of bring everyone up to speed on where OLED might make its mark, GE has put together a video laying out the basics of what the technology is and how it will change the way we think about lighting. They also make a point to hammer home that it’s a mercury-free technology — something we’re more than happy to see more of.
As you can see in some of these still from the video, the tech can illuminate an office cube or your bike. In fact, having entire walls in a home light up at the touch of a button is possible. Imagine then if they could take this to the next level and have that wall turn into a massive television screen?
Check out the video for more — and get excited for the future of lighting.
Much praise has been heaped upon designer Ross Lovegrove since his solar trees first debuted in Vienna in October 2007. Essentially a solar-powered streetlamp — but also a work of art — the structure creates, as the designer puts it, “complex natural forms in a city that can benefit all of society.” They also save energy — and have managed to survive Vienna’s dark spells, with light still being generated even after four days without direct sun. From the article,
“When we were setting up the tree outside it was quite wonderful,” Lovegrove said. “Even when we had one stem, it was incredible, it seemed so insignificant but actually it really stood out and it proves this point that modern technology and design can really lift people’s spirits, it becomes an eye catcher because it’s sort of out of context. The Solar Tree is just a streetlamp but actually some of the small things which can have a big impact on our life are all open for reinterpretation.”
With the first-generation lamps firmly planted on some of Europe’s most famous streets, Lovegrove is now planning on the next-generation design. It will be called the “Adaptive Solar Tree” and, just like the real thing, will feature robotics that seek out sunlight or respond to changes in weather.
When the sun goes down the solar trees will return to their original position to give off a full spectrum of light to the street and pedestrians below.The new tree will also be able to respond to different weather, for example the branches will come together if the wind is too intense. Lovegrove also hopes to integrate an air purification bubble into the new trees, enabling them to clean the air around them, much like a real tree.
Smart streetlights that move to increase their efficiency or change with the weather? I for one welcome our new solar robotic overlords and hope the U.S. is next on the list to get some of these roadside.
Via Greenthinkers (via Jalopnik):
This SEV solar module for the 2004 through 2006 Toyota Prius generates 215 watts of renewable energy and is the first compound convex solar module to be commercially produced
The SEV system provides up to 20 miles per day of electric mode driving range and increased fuel economy by up to 29%.
But more than that it looks schweet.
pics of the Ford Escape Hybrid, Toyota Highlander Hybrid, and RAV4 EV kits below Read more »
NPR aired the last episodes this week in their year long series titled Climate Connections by focusing on the new “zero-emissions” city being built outside of Abu Dhabi called Masdar City. With an expected population of 50,000 people, the “experiment” in green technologies and sustainable design will be the largest effort ever to create a carbon-neutral urban center. The project is the crown jewel in the Abu Dhabi’s amibtious plans to become the ‘silicon valley’ of the renewable energy world. The Middle East certainly isn’t naive when it comes to looking past oil for the future security of their economies.
One of the more interesting technologies being put into action in Masdar is the PRT — or Rapid Transit System. Designed to hold six people, these pods will travel to more than 1,500 stations distributed throughout the city. From the NPR clip,
“‘Really, all it is is a car,’ says Scott McGuigan of CH2M Hill, the construction firm that’s building Masdar City. ‘It’s a simple vehicle [for] six passengers. It’s designed like a car, but obviously it’s powered by solar energy with batteries.’”
Unlike other PRT systems in development, this one will be completely underground. In fact, don’t expect Masdar City to go looking like something out of Blade Runner. The architects are sticking to a purely traditional Arab theme — not only because it makes people feel more “at home”, but also because narrow streets and shaded walks keep things cooler; reducing the need for air conditioning.
But back to the PRT — they will basically take you anywhere you want to go. No fixed routes like a Subway. Once again, from the radio segment,
“‘You program what station you want to go to, and [the vehicle] will directly take you to that station,’ he says. ‘If you look at things like Blade Runner, etc., that we had 15 years ago, it’s really bringing that to the fore now.’”
Hmm…then again, perhaps we will get a little Blade Runner in the mix. Construction on Masdar City starts this summer.
Earth Day is quickly becoming not only an event to celebrate the planet — but also to look forward to a number of cool green technologies that love to launch on this iconic day. Already today, I’ve seen two great new developments: One, is Sungevity — a great online tool for Californians that displays a satellite map of your home, calculates solar installation costs, and mockups of what your roof might look like with the panels. Should you decide to purchase, the company takes care of all the details — including all the zoning permits and install crews. You just need to sign the dotted line. Awesome.
Next — and this is one we’re most excited about — is Flock Eco, a brand new take on the Flock Browser that comes fully loaded with green content AND gives 10% back to environmental causes every time you browse. Now, even reading your favorite sites can help generate money for worthy organizations! From the release,
“Flock is a perfect platform for discovering eco-conscious news, media and information on a daily basis. Flockâ€™s Media Streams, News Feeds and Favorites features have been pre-programmed with content recommended from todayâ€™s leading eco sources like Grist, Treehugger, PlanetGreen New York Times, Sprig, Current and other top eco brands. Flock makes the organization and presentation of this content intuitive and helps users easily discover and share content and information with their social network profiles, family and friends.”
So yes, we’re quite thrilled to see an eco-themed browser — based on Mozilla Firefox no less — that features some great social networking tools and gives back at the same time. If you want to take it for a spin, jump on over the the Flock Eco site and download. This Earth Day, there’s no reason not to take your browsing experience in a greener direction.