Resorts around the world continue to impress me with their commitment to sustainable practices — but Rosalie Bay Resort on the island of Dominica in the Caribbean is truly a standout.
Five years in the making, the 22-acre getaway was built on principles of conservation and preservation, surrounded by an undisturbed natural setting of mountains, lush forests, and gardens. In addition to solar panels, the resort also features a Norwin Turbine 225 kW — which provides some 70% of the power used by the 28 beautiful rooms in nine cottages. With these renewables in place, Rosalie is effectively self-sustaining; an epic achievement that’s yet still rare in today’s world of “green resorts”.
“Nature should be preserved and shared,” said Dr. Ken Watson, general manager. “Rosalie Bay Resort was designed to be environmentally sustainable while showcasing one of the most beautiful natural settings in the Caribbean. Many resorts claim to be green, but we’ve made a legitimate commitment with the wind turbine being the centerpiece of our pledge.”
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 – on par with combined cycle gas plants.
Students from SUNY-ESF will be taking over Groovy Green next week. Get the perspective of the future environmental leaders of America (and places beyond).
Come back and see us next week, starting Thursday 11/18/10 and see what they have to say.
We love raucous festivals like Burning Man and music jamborees like Bonaroo, but we’ve never heard of one that combines the spirit of these events with the mission to actually accomplish something. Like building a build a micro wind turbine farm.
Such is the idea behind “Villages in the Sky: DIY World Change” — a a family-friendly renewable energy and sustainability celebration located in the Ozarks and scheduled for June 2010. Unlike gatherings that strive to leave things the way they were before anyone arrived, Villages in the Sky is looking to take advantage of crowd sourcing to create a better place than existed before. Participants will help build a micro wind turbine farm and bio-mass systems as well as giant play structures (zip lines, tree houses, ropes courses, etc). The entire event is internally cash free event which promotes a volunteer ethic and strangers working cooperatively for a shared goal. In fact, the main goal is to leave behind the beginnings of a locally self sufficient eco-village. Perhaps even one inspired by the Ewoks. From the website,
We’ve seen plenty of solar-charger accessories for mobile phones and other gadgets, but this is the first one that appears to attach seamlessly. Created by product design firm MotionTouch for a company called Powcell, this solar-powered sleeve slides onto the back of a mobile phone handset and uses light to charge the unit.
The large solar panel provides the greatest surface area for light-capture and maximises the sleeve’s efficiency, including working in some ambient light conditions. And Powcell continues to charge its internal battery even when removed from the phone – so when reconnected it provides talk-time even if the device battery is exhausted.
Ahead of full production the sleeve has attracted considerable interest from major phone manufacturers, which have even approached Powcell about sleeves for future, yet-to-launch models of their phones.
If you’ve ever lived in or visited Ithaca, NY your probably familiar with the phrase “Ithaca is gorges”. It’s a funny little saying that gives a good indication of the region’s topography — hills, hills, and steeper hills. In fact, the inclines we have around here would make even Lance Armstrong break a sweat. So, it was with great expectation that I took advantage of an opportunity to review the IZIP Trekking Enlightened hybrid-electric bicycle from Currie Technologies. Could it be possible to bike to work and not immediately have to take another shower?
I’m still figuring that out — and will have a full review shortly — but so far, I have to say that I’m very impressed with the technology being utilized in this bike. First off, this isn’t one of those bikes that you hit a switch and kick back while the electric motors putts you along. The IZIP instead is an electric-assist — giving you some extra torque to help you up some tough inclines. To that end, you still have to pedal. The beauty of this system is that you can choose to have it on or off — or at different levels of assist. About to hit a hill and want some support? Simply press the “+” button on the left handlebar and watch the LCD indicator light a few bars higher. Want to back off? Hit the “-” button. It’s as simple as that — and believe me, you still get a workout.
Enjoy solar showers, but really want to be completely naked in the process? Unless you’re in a nudist colony, that option might be not available on a public beach. However, this innovative (and stylish) pop-up privacy tent from Guide Gear will hide your bits and bops while giving you a clean, hot rinse. The 6.5 lb tent is quick to setup and includes a 5-gallon PVC Solar Shower. Said one recent reviewer:
Our family has always been more on the “minimal” side for car camping trips, but with my 23 year old daughter and her friends along on our recent trip, we needed a shower. We bought a Zodi water heater and this pop up shower tent. Great decision! The tent pops up in a second, nothing to put together and added almost no weight or bulk to our gear. The olive green material provided total coverage, blended nicely with the outdoor terrain, and had plenty of room for big guys. The 3 adjustments we made were adding a clip/clothespin to attach the shower head to the top, a chair right outside to hang towel and clothes (it cannot support much weight), and a large plastic pan to stand on. With those items, we had eight of us showering daily with no hitch.
That being said, you could also just go and jump in the nearest river. While this item is indeed handy, it may just be another piece of “baggage” that’s rather unnecessary when camping. To each their own, however — you be the judge.
Remember that picture we had a few months back of a helicopter taking off of an enormous wind turbine? Yea, that 3.6MW behemoth today looks normal compared to this 6MW monster being installed in Germany. Apparently, it’s one of the two currently going up in the city of Hamburg. Huge — just huge.
You know those electric fields from power lines that some people are always complaining about? Turn out they may have something be worried about. At least, that’s what I can surmise after viewing these photos of an art project on an English farm. The installation is called FIELD and creator Richard Box came up with the idea after hearing about a colleague playinggames with a fluorescent tube beneath power lines in his backyard. So, he bribed a local farmer to let him take a crack at installing 1301 fluorescent bulbs underneath his power lines and “voila” — instant ambient energy. The UK Guardian explains a bit more:
A fluorescent tube glows when an electrical voltage is set up across it. The electric field set up inside the tube excites atoms of mercury gas, making them emit ultraviolet light. This invisible light strikes the phosphor coating on the glass tube, mak ing it glow. Because powerlines are typically 400,000volts, and Earth is at an electrical potential of zero volts, pylons create electric fields between the cables they carry and the ground. Box denies that he aimed to draw attention to the potential dangers of powerlines. “For me, it was just the amazement of taking something that’s invisible and making it visible,” he says. “When it worked, I thought: ‘This is amazing.’”
My home is right under some power lines. Needless to say, I’m moving.
Imagine a personal wind turbine that can power a home filled with LED lights — and also only cost $400. Such is the idea behind the Jellyfish — a 36” tall vertical-axis turbine that is a semi-finalist in Google’s 10 to the 100th contest–$10 million for the 5 ideas that helps the most people.
The inventor, Chad Maglaque, figures the total cost of the turbine could be brought down to only $199 — if subsidized with tax rebates. His current version, which he believes is only 12-to-18-months away from stores, is Wi-Fi and WiMax equipped and outputs 40 kWh a month. That’s not enough to take your home off-grid, but it would offset a percentage of energy consumption from other, not-so-green sources. Here’s a bit more detail from the website:
Just one look at the above photo gives you a sense of just how large a 3.6MW wind turbine really is. The image comes to us from Eurocopter — who were just contracted to be used exclusively for wind farm maintenance in the UK. Apparently, these 3.6MW monsters are so tall that it’s a bit quicker to get up there via helicopter and make emergency repairs than to try and scale ‘em through the internal ladder system.
Called the “Greater Gabbard wind farm” near the East Anglia coast — the 140 turbines will be located 20 miles from land in the North Sea. When completed in 2010, it will be the largest wind farm in the world.
Saw this first at After Gutenberg, but it came via itsgettinghotinhere from a Architecture 2030 e-news bulletin.
A picture (or in this case, a graph) tells a thousand words.
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.
It was only a matter of time.
With most commercial turbines over 265 ft. tall, they were bound to attract the base jumping crowd. Thing is, they’re not the easiest things to get access to — so we’re wondering whether this crew has an inside man to let them climb to the top. Not to mention turn off the turbine for the jump. Nice view, though.
Australian farmers are embarking on a bit of an experiment to see whether or not they can self-sustain their production using diesel-producing trees. As some may know, I have a bit of a love-affair with plants that can produce — in one way or another — biodiesel. For those looking for an update to my “Adventures In Sustainability” series growing Jatropha — it’s coming soon. The plant is currently in hibernation. But I digress…
The diesel-producing trees are called Copaifera langsdorfii and are native to the Brazilian rainforest. The world has known of their unique properties since about the seventeenth century, but it’s only been recently that harvesting of the petrol is being planned on a grand scale. From the article,
Tankless water heaters always seemed to make a lot of sense to me. I mean, hot water on demand as opposed to hot water sitting and waiting — seems smart, right? Everytime I go away on vacation, I lower the temp on my water tank to conserve energy, but I know I’m in a small minority. Most people probably go along heating water even when they’re not home for extended periods of time.
Which is why I’m jazzed about GE’s new line of tankless water heaters. For those that don’t need tankless, the electric-hybird heater they’ve got waiting in the wings looks pretty sweet as well. According to the release, the gas tankless on-demand heaters will “save 25 percent in water heating costs on an annual energy bill in comparison to a standard 40-gallon gas tank.” Additionally, the unique design can help avoid up to 25 percent of CO2 emissions tied to water heating.
Even better, earlier today the U.S. Department of Energy created the first ENERGY STAR standard for water heaters. Ironically, water heating was the only major residential energy product that did not have an ES designation — even though it’s one of the largest energy consumers in the household.
Of course, not everyone has access to gas (and truly, for those of us building green homes, reducing the use of fossil fuels is probably on the short list) so GE is getting ready to launch an Electric-Hybrid water heater for next year. According to early tests, this hybrid would reduce typical water heating energy consumption by more than half. While the typical home might use 4800kwh/year, the GE model consumes only 2300kwh/year. Plus, it would retain the same footprint of standard water heaters allowing easy installation.
The Selsam SuperTurbine is one of the best designs I’ve seen yet for a wind turbine that can survive the hostile open seas. It also looks like it might be a bit of a bitch to navigate through with a tanker — not to mention the description states “the SuperTurbine probably won’t sink a vessel.” Makes you feel warm and cozy inside, doesn’t it? Still, based on designs, it looks like the pitch of the turbine should be high enough to keep you safe.
The advantages of this design are many. First, during large and fierce storms, these deep water turbines may intentionally lay down by flooding chambers, or even completely submerge to survive. Bonus! Second, flotation near the surface forms a fulcrum, with the weight of the rotors and driveshaft balanced by a downward force from the mooring below. According to the site, this allows the turbine to bend similar to arching your back to take advantage of wind patterns much more easily. Additionally, the rotors can be staggered, spiral, or in line.
Energy for lighting is one of the main resource hogs around the world. Staring at an image of the earth at night, it doesn’t take much to see how dependent we are. The recent shift to the CFL bulb has helped ease the burden of paying for energy costs, but its role in the lighting world may only be a stepping stone to the next, great efficient successor: the LED.
LEDs (or Light-Emitting Diodes) will slowly become the lighting standard over the next decade. But light bulbs won’t be the only products to take advantage of their efficient properties. A variety called OLED (or Organic Light-Emitting Diode) are thin, organic materials sandwiched between two electrodes, which illuminate when an electrical charge is applied. This technology is behind all those cool flexible displays and electronic ink displays we’re always seeing. They’re so thin, that they could be applied to rooms as a type of wall paper to glow at the touch of a finger or when someone enters the room. Till now, the process of commercially manufacturing OLEDs has remained expensive. However, a recent breakthrough from GE hopes to lower the cost-barrier and show that OLED can be created “roll to roll”. From the article,
We’ve all heard of alternative sources of energy from sunlight, water, and wind — but how about blood? An inventor by the name of Jim Mielke has created a bluetooth-ready, wireless, blood-fueled display that uses tiny microscopic spheres, somewhat similar to tattoo ink, to display images. Here’s how it works:
The basis of the 2×4-inch “Digital Tattoo Interface” is a Bluetooth device made of thin, flexible silicon and silicone. It´s inserted through a small incision as a tightly rolled tube, and then it unfurls beneath the skin to align between skin and muscle. Through the same incision, two small tubes on the device are attached to an artery and a vein to allow the blood to flow to a coin-sized blood fuel cell that converts glucose and oxygen to electricity. After blood flows in from the artery to the fuel cell, it flows out again through the vein.
Green SAHM is one of my favorite blogs in my RSS reader. Her latest post is on saving energy when cooking. Tips vary from keeping a lid on the pot on the stove, to analysis of energy costs of different cooking methods (microwave, electric oven, gas oven, slow cooker. Definitely worth a look!
From How to Use Less Energy While Cooking
As a kid, no sandbox was complete without a fleet of Tonka dump trucks. Today’s kids have much cooler options; particularly if this design from Haishan Deng makes it from the drawing board and into the real world. It’s called the Super Tipper Truck and features independent suspension and electric motors in all four wheels. This allows for greater versatility in loading and unloading positions; as well as the ability drive down into pits and deliver cargo — something normal tipper trucks would have difficulty doing.
For more details, as well as a great in-depth interview with the designer, head on over to gizmag.
Got 14 minutes? With this new eco-friendly washing machine from Beko, you’ll be throwing some clean clothes up on the line pretty quick. Its latest release is a tricked-out, energy efficient marvel with a 14-minute wash cycle. The benefits for those that are energy-conscious are evident, but the technology inside this thing also calculates the exact amount of water required according to the type and quantity of the laundry. For those suffering through some intense droughts, this might be a wonderful option for conservation.
Beko has already received an eco-award for its energy efficiency. The only thing one hopes is that the models will be carried beyond the UK. Current price is a reasonable £349.
One the largest hurdles to people and businesses embracing solar energy is the cost. The panels themselves make up a great deal of total expense, but there are also additional components to consider to get that energy working with your home. The most common accessory to any good solar installation is the inverter. This piece of equipment converts the solar panel’s DC energy to AC. A new firm called Enphase Energy hopes to remove this cost and produce micro-inverters; so small that each panel will receive their own. From the article,
A company named Marquiss Wind Power has successfully finished raising $1.3 million for development of its Ducted Wind Turbines. Unlike their much larger counterparts, ducted turbines are boxy and stand about 19ft tall. Despite what appears to be aerodynamic disadvantages, this shape actually allows the turbine to re-orient itself according to the direction of air flow; something that can be a bit random in urban centers. The ducting is intended to increase wind speed as it approaches the blades. According to the website, these factors combine to allow the power output from the MWP turbine to exceed that of any traditionally designed comparable turbine. From the article,
At the moment, two models are sold — one intended for areas with wind speeds of 6-10 mph, and another for higher average speeds. The turbines are intended for buildings between one and three stories tall.
It sure ain’t elegant — but there’s a lot of science at play with this design. I especially like that AeropointT500 can operate in low wind speeds. I have no ideas on price — but hopefully that $1.3 million will go a long way to fleshing this product out a bit more.
While we’ve seen solar cell efficiency squeak past 40% in labs this year, we’re still stuck commercially with panels that at most convert about 20% of what hits them into energy. Then there’s the whole “darkness” thing that cuts into production for part of the day.
Researchers at the Idaho National Laboratory have potentially solved both issues by turning to another hot field: nanotechnology. From the article,
With this new technology, millions of extremely small twists of metal are molded into banks of “microantennas”, which can be placed on almost any material, including plastic sheets. These spiral shaped “microantennas” are about 1/25 the width of a human hair. They are so small that they resonate from the interaction with the sun’s infrared rays. This resonation can be translated into energy. During the day, the Earth soaks up a lot of this infrared energy, which is then radiated out at night — enabling these microantennas to collect power even after the sun has set.
With a top speed over over 70mph and a range of almost an equivalent amount, the Veunturi solar car allows you to draw stares while commuting to work in Formula One style. 3.6 sqm of photovoltaic cells operating at 21% efficiency work to power what is considered the first ever commercial vehicle that’s capable of using absolutely no fossil resources. From the site,
“Capable of working with very little energy (16 kWc motor) and of recharging even when in motion, this vehicle of another era does not need to be permanently exposed to the sun in order to move. Its last-generation NiMH Venturi NIV-7 batteries ‘liquid cooled’ in fact enable it to restitute stored energy, whether solar or from the electricity supply, making it the first electro-solar hybrid vehicle. To attain this level of performance while using very little energy, Astrolab has been designed like a Formula 1 : its carbon monocoque chassis is ultra-light and serves as an oversized protection cell ensuring the safety of its occupants in the event of a collision. Its profile recalls the aqua-dynamic design of great racing yachts.”
Our friend Ruben Miller sent us an email on an alternative energy concept him and his wife submitted to the Metropolis’ Next Generation 2007 competition and we think it’s pretty cool. While the idea of harnessing human energy has been around for awhile, this one actually seems feasible. From the article,
“Imagine a nightclub where dancers generate the venue’s electricity just from the impact of their steps. With Redmond’s innovative flooring system, this vision of a human-powered energy source may be close to a reality. The floor tiles, cast in durable concrete and recycled glass, are fitted with piezoelectric brass-reinforced ceramic plates covered in nickel electrodes. With the impact of each footstep, a metal pointer inside the tile compresses the ceramic plate, generating an electric impulse. The resulting voltage activates four LED lights, visible through the glass surface, allowing energy-generating participants to see the power of their steps.”
This type of technology is intended for high-traffic areas; sidewalks, playgrounds, school hallways, etc. Obviously, you could do away with the LED lights and incorporate the idea into flooring that makes the whole thing less obvious. We love the concept, however, and hope Elizabeth and Ruben keep pushing to make it a reality.
The electric car renaissance is barely spreading ink on the canvas and already plans are in motion to have a viable charging infrastructure in place. Earlier this week, Tesla Motors — the crew behind the highly anticipated 2008 Tesla Roadster — received a grant from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to develop a 16KW station that could be installed at hotel chains across the state. While the stations would be commercially based, we have no idea if they might also be autonomous through solar power; much like the stations Vectrix is planning on introducing in Europe.
Tesla also recently announced plans to form a new division that will sell batteries to other car manufacturers.
“The electric-car startup said it will initially provide advanced lithium-ion battery packs from the new Tesla Energy Group to Think, a Norwegian maker of electric cars. The deal is expected to bring Tesla $43 million over the next two years. The new division will also develop and make battery packs for Tesla’s two-seat roadster that is set to go into production this fall, and for a four-door sedan set to debut later this decade.”
News from the EPA:
“EPA is the first and only major federal agency to purchase green power equal to 100 percent of its estimated annual electricity use nationwide.
As of September 2006, EPA will be purchasing nearly 300 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of green power annually in the form of renewable energy certificates (RECs) or delivered product. This amount is equal to 100 percent of the total estimated annual electricity consumption at all of EPA’s nearly 200 facilities across the country enough electricity to power 27,084 homes for an entire year.”
“616,279,179 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions will be avoided annually the equivalent to removing 53,824 cars from the road for an entire year.”
I think this is good news, now if the rest of the U.S. Government will follow the example of the EPA we will see some huge changes… something tells me this may be a ways off.
Cell phones are cool and all–but most people simply shove them in a drawer–or worse–chuck ‘em when they’re finished. In fact, almost 130 million surplus cellphones are created each year in America–weighing in at clost to 65,000 tons! Well, TerraPass has some up with a unique way of solving this problem by partnering up with RIPMobile. From the press release, “RIPMobile recycles used cell phones and PDAs. They also happen to be leaders in their industry for environmental best practices. Unlike many recyclers, RIPMobile will accept any used cell phone, regardless of economic value. They’ll even pay your postage. RIPMobile handles all materials according to EPA standards and in compliance with the stringent requirements of the Basel Action Network.” The great thing about this new partnership is that TerraPass will pay you in gift certificates for your old phones. So, if you’ve been delaying off-setting your SUV with some carbon credits, now’s your chance to kill two birds with one stone! Almost every phone will net you some type of value–from a lowly old Motorola for $2 to a new RAZR for $75. (My expired Samsung came in at $32–not too shabby!). Check it out at TerraPass and–while your’re there–get that car taken care of!