Iceland May Tap Liquid Magma as New Geothermal Energy Source

Fuente: inhabitat.com

Autor: Lori Zimmer

Fecha: 18/02/2011

geothermic energy, iceland, iceland deep drilling project, magma, geothermal wells, sustainable design, green design, renewable energy

Scientists in Iceland have been studying and utilizing the power of geothermal wells for years. In 2009 one such study hit a standstill when a group ran into magma halfway into their dig. The roadblock has become a blessing in disguise, and research has shown that the magma can act as a potent new source of geothermal energy powerful enough to heat 25,000 to 30,000 homes!

When drilling for the government-sponsored Iceland Deep Drilling Project, a team of scientists hit magma about 7,000 feet into the planned 15,000 feet. The project was initially testing the power of supercritical water (very hot water under a high pressure), but the project had to be abandoned because of the magma flow.

Iceland has taken advantage of the power of their local geothermal wells, sourcing nearly all of their home heating and one-third of their electricity from them. Each geothermal well can generate up to five to eight megawatts of electricity, but this magma fluke has shown a production of up to five times that. The magma well produces dry steam at 750 degrees Fahrenheit, which can generate about 25 megawatts of electricity. In addition to providing a new source of energy, the fluke is also providing research on the magma formation below Iceland.

Now that is one great mistake!

Wind power now competitive with coal in some regions

Fuente: www.grist.org

Autor: Todd Woody

Fecha: 07/02/2011

Wind turbinesPhoto: Vlasta Juricek

More good news on the renewable energy front Monday: The cost of onshore wind power has dropped to record lows, and in some regions is competitive with electricity generated by coal-fired plants, according to a survey by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a market research firm.

«The latest edition of our Wind Turbine Price Index shows wind continuing to become a competitive source of large-scale power,» Michael Liebreich, Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s chief executive, said in a statement.

«For the past few years, wind turbine costs went up due to rising demand around the world and the increasing price of steel,» he added. «Behind the scenes, wind manufacturers were reducing their costs, and now we are seeing just how cheap wind energy can be when overcapacity in the supply chain works its way through to developers.»

Driving the trend are falling prices for wind turbines, which have dropped to their lowest level since 2005, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Bloomberg said it based its analysis on a review of wind turbine contracts provided by 28 turbine buyers in 28 markets across the world. Those contacts represent nearly 7,000 megawatts’ worth of turbines.

Of course, that’s not necessarily good news for turbine manufacturers in the short term. But it makes wind energy more competitive over the long run. Over the past year the industry in the United States, for instance, has seen the wind taken out of its sails as demand has fallen due to the economy and natural gas prices have plummeted.

According to Bloomberg, contracts signed in late 2010 for turbines to be delivered in the first half of this year this year fell 7 percent from 2009 to an average of $1.33 million a megawatt. That’s a 19 percent decline since 2007.

In some regions of Brazil, Mexico, Sweden, and the United States, the cost of electricity generated by wind farms is on par with coal-fired power, the report said. In those areas, the cost of wind-generated electricity is $68 per megawatt-hour compared to $67 a megawatt-hour for coal power and $56 per megawatt-hour for natural gas.

Meanwhile on Monday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced that the federal government would grant $50.5 million over five years to spur offshore wind farm developments on the East Coast.

The money will go toward developing offshore wind technology and removing market barrier to building coastal wind farms.

Harvard Study Reveals Coal Energy To Be One of the Most Expensive Forms of Power

Fuente: inhabitat.com

Autor: Jessica Dailey

Fecha: 18/02/2011

 

Advocates of coal power argue that it is among the cheapest sources of energy in the United States and allows for lower-cost power. But a new Harvard study found that whatever money is saved in operation costs is completely negated by the cost coal plants inadvertently pass on to the American public: $345 billion. These hidden expenses are not borne by miners or utilities, but come from the detrimental side affects of coal burning, like health problems in mining communities and pollution around coal plants. The study is the first to look at the entire cost of coal, from extraction to combustion.

The extra cost would effectively triple the price of electricity produced by coal-fired plants. The study’s lead author, Paul Epstein, a Harvard Medical School Instructor and the associate director of its Center for Health and the Global Environment, told Reuters that the extra costs are borne by the public, through our taxes. “The public cost is far greater than the cost of the coal itself,” he said. “The impacts of this industry go way beyond just lighting our lights.”

harvard study, harvard coal study, public coal costs, harvard study coal costs, coal energy, coal pollutionPhoto credit: Keith Syvinski 

Coal plants currently supply about 45 percent of the nation’s electricity, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. In November, data showed that the average price of coal electricity was about 10 cents per kWh. The ancillary costs revealed in Epstein’s study would add about 18 cents to each kWh, making it one of the most expensive forms of energy.

The $345 billion figure was the study’s best estimate of coal-burning costs, but they could possibly be as much as $523 billion. The costs take into account a variety of side effects, including illnesses and elevated rates of cancer in coal towns, environmental damage and lost tourism where mountaintop removal is practiced, and global warming resulting from elevated levels of CO2.

WHY THIS MATTERS

Coal-fired plants inflict significant damage on the environment and people’s health, yet people continue to advocate for coal as an energy source because of its inexpensive operation costs. Epstein’s study shows that the cost of coal is far higher than what we believe. His study can help people better understand the detrimental effects of coal-burning, helping to move us toward more clean energy.

Via Mother Nature Network

Atacama Solar Challenge: La Primera Carrera de Autos solares en Chile

Fuente: www.sustentable.cl

Autor: Staff

Fecha: 18/02/2011

Chile cuenta con un potencial solar dentro de los mejores del mundo, lo que podría ayudarnos a terminar con nuestra dependencia de combustibles fósiles y contaminantes.
En el Norte Grande, específicamente, en el desierto de Atacama, Chile cuenta con uno de los mejores niveles de radiación solar a nivel mundial, superando a líderes en la materia como Alemania o España que llevan años desarrollando esta tecnología.
Este escenario ha dado paso al desarrollo de una serie de centrales solares, algunas piloto y otras de carácter industrial, que solidifican los primeros avances del país en esta dirección, apuntando a la generación de energía limpia y renovable.
Entre algunas de las iniciativas más destacadas encontramos una central de 10 MW a cargo de la empresa SolarPack, otra fotovoltaica de 30 MW a cargo de Element Power u otra central prototipo que busca disminuir las emisiones de una central termoeléctrica a carbón.
Si bien, todas son iniciativas interesantes, existe una que apunta 100% a la innovación y a darle un giro al uso de esta fuente no sólo en Chile, sino que en todo el continente: el Atacama Solar Challenge (ASC).
Esta es la primera competencia latinoamericana de vehículos impulsados por energía solar, a realizarse entre el 30 de septiembre y el 2 de octubre de este año, con el objetivo de fomentar el conocimiento y el uso de esta fuente en nuestro país, y darle a todos los interesados la oportunidad de poner a prueba su genialidad al desarrollar un vehículo solar.
La idea nace de la Global Green Challenge (antes llamada World Solar Challenge) una competencia de autos solares que se realiza en Australia y que lleva varios años convocando a los máximos exponentes en la materia. 

Elige tu categoría

La carrera, organizada por la Universidad de Chile, entre otras entidades, ya tiene definida su ruta. Pasará por Iquique, Calama, Antofagasta y Chañaral, donde los participantes podrán demostrar, al más puro estilo Rally Dakar, de qué están hechas sus invenciones e intentar recorrer los más de 900 kilómetros que conforman la ruta.

Para esto existen dos categorías: una llamada Desafío Solar Atacama (DSA), donde correrán vehículos capaces de alcanzar los 80 km/h, impulsados exclusivamente por energía solar, utilizando tecnología de punta.
En la segunda categoría, llamada La Ruta Solar (LRS) participarán vehículos impulsados por energía solar y humana con una velocidad máxima de 50 km/h, requiriendo un menor costo que los anteriores.
Para todos los interesados en hacer historia, participando en la primera carrera de autos solares de este rincón del mundo, tienen hasta el viernes 4 de marzo para inscribirse en el DSA y hasta el jueves 31 de marzo para LRS.A la hora de  postular a la competencia deben presentar un informe de proyecto, además de otros datos que pueden encontrar en el sitio www.atacamasolarchallenge.com .
No cabe duda de que esta iniciativa es una verdadera muestra de los beneficios que nos entrega la energía solar, tan abundante en nuestro país. Una clara forma de culturizar y concientizar a las personas de cuál es el camino a seguir en nuestro desarrollo energético.
Si bien, no tengo idea de cómo construir una máquina de estas características, estoy esperando ansioso a que la carrera de inicio y ver qué innovaciones se presentarán, con un toque de chilenismo que las hará únicas. Seguro que ya muchos se están frotando las manos para dar el vamos al primer gran evento solar de la historia de Chile y que aún tiene mucho por contar.

IKEA Building Its Own Personal Wind Farm to Power 17 Swedish Stores

Fuente: inhabitat.com

Autor: Brit Liggett

Fecha: 18/02/2011

Swedish furniture giant IKEA announced today that it’s joined forces with Stockholm-based wind power company O2 to build a nine-turbine wind farm that will power 17 of their stores in Sweden. The wind farm is expected to be completed in 2012 and will be located in the Swedish province of Dalarna.

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A wind park in Sweden gives us a long-term source for renewable energy,” said Peter Agnefjaell, head of Ikea Svenska Foersaeljnings AB, in the statement. “It also gives us the possibility to transfer the financial benefit of electricity from our own wind power park to lower prices which will benefit our customers.” Energy from the wind turbines won’t directly power the stores but will be fed to the grid and will approximately equal what 17 of their stores use on a regular basis.

IKEA already owns about 52 wind turbines in France and Germany that provide about 10 percent of their power needs. The company has noted that they are interested in expanding to other wind markets to meet their eventual goal of running on 100% renewable energy. A spokesperson for the Swedish project said that total output of the new wind farm will be about 70 gigawatt-hours a year.

Xcel Energy Rocks Colorado Solar Industry by Dropping Their Support

Fuente: inhabitat.com

Autor: Andrew Michler

Fecha: 18/02/2011

Colorado jobs, solar jobs, solar policy,Xcel solar, solar power, Xcel enegy, solar jobs, green jobs, colarado solar, solar subsidies, amendment 37,

The thriving solar electric industry in Colorado just came to a screeching halt as the largest utility and main provider of renewable energy rebates in Colorado, Xcel Energy, effectively halted all rebate applications.  The startling news caught the renewable energy industry off guard, and has the potential to eliminate many of the companies that used the rebate program to guarantee predictable electricity cost to consumers. The rebate program was the first in the nation adopted by voter ballot that would make renewable energy mainstream in the state. Xcel’s actions completely undermine the public’s intention for a vibrant Colorado solar industry and puts thousands of solar energy jobs at risk.

Colorado jobs, solar jobs, solar policy,Xcel solar, solar power, Xcel enegy, solar jobs, green jobs, colarado solar, solar subsidies, amendment 37,

Ammendment 37 was passed by Colorado voters in 2004 and required that public utility companies set aside money for a renewable energy portfolio. A small percentage of that power needed to be installed on consumer roofs where demand was great. Many companies opened shop or grew as the price of solar was cut nearly in half. As prices for solar equipment fell, and Xcel Energy met Ammedments 37′s requirements, they have gradually been able to lower the rebate amount to balance the total cost, while still maintaining a predictable pricing scheme for customers. The rebate money comes from a 2% charge on rate payer bills.

Xcel Energy, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is the largest energy provider in the Colorado and their announcement vastly curtails the available funds until a Commission ruling – not likely to come until May. A fixed amount of available solar was claimed in 24 hours, and current REC payments to energy providers have been slashed from $0.35 to a penny.

While the solar industry was relying on a stepped approach for reducing the rebates, their sudden elimination has put nearly every planned residential and commercial project on hold. Being a capital heavy industry many solar company’s cash flow will be severely restricted, limiting opportunities for distributed generation.

One such project that was finalized the day of the announcement puts solar panels on the Denver Rescue Mission by the nonprofit Atmosphere Conservancy in order to help them reduce energy costs. Executive Director Alex Blackmer said that three solar projects the Atmospheric Conservancy finalized would have to be renegotiated and may not go forward after the announcement. Hundreds of  halted projects  will result is real job losses in a workforce that today totals more than 5,300 people and growing. Early estimates reveal that half of these jobs will be gone – more than the total number of jobs in the coal industry in the state.

Xcel Energy’s sudden decision harkens back to when solar was first introduced to the state during the burgeoning solar thermal market in the late seventies which quickly grew and died. The promise of reliable, clean and forward thinking energy is again threatened by an unstable market that Colorado voters instead hoped to see thrive.

World’s Largest Landfill Transformed into Freshkills Park 3X the Size of Central Park

Fuente: inhabitat.com

Autor: Yuka Yoneda

Fecha: 18/02/2011

Mention «Freshkills» to any New Yorker and the reaction you’ll most likely get is «P.U.» The name has long been associated with the world’s largest landfill, and has made life for many Staten Islanders (where the dump is located), well, stink. But what many people aren’t yet aware of is that the long suffering of those folks is soon to be rewarded because a monumental new green space is being developed on the site of the old landfill, which received its last barge of garbage on March 22, 2001, and from what we’ve seen, it’s incredible. At 2,200 acres, Freshkills Park is set to be almost three times the size of Central Park and will be the largest park developed in New York City in over 100 years. That’s right, what was the world’s biggest collection of garbage is being transformed into a beautiful green space for New Yorkers to hike, play and even ski – and with numerous sustainable strategies already in the works, it’s also promising to be one of the most eco-friendly developments in the city.

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Sure, we all love Central Park, but Freshkills Park is set to eclipse it in both size and the wide range of recreational opportunities that will be available (check out the slideshow above to see what some of them will be). The park will also offer ecological restoration and cultural and educational programming, including possible demonstrations teaching the public about renewable energy, that will echo its environmental mission. About 45 percent of the planned park site was once used for landfill operations, but the remainder of the land is currently composed of wetlands, open waterways, and unfilled lowland areas. The full transformation and build-out will continue over the next 30 years, with phases over the next few years focusing on providing the public with the opportunity to see the interior of the site, which will be a unique combination of natural and engineered beauty. One of the coolest examples of what people will be able to experience is standing atop the landfill mounds themselves to check out a breathtaking view of lower Manhattan.

Freshkills will also be a showcase for sustainable strategies, some of which are already in place. The NYC Department of Sanitation is already using advanced landfill gas collection infrastructure throughout the landfill to actively harvest methane from the buried decomposing waste. The methane is sold to National Grid to heat close to 22,000 homes on Staten Island and the city generates approximately $11 million in annual revenue from the sale of the methane. In addition to turning farts to fuel, some of the other strategies the city is considering for the park are solar panels, wind turbines, solar thermal cells in water heating systems, geothermal heating and cooling, and following LEED building principles.

A brief history of Freshkills LandfillFresh Kills Landfill was established in 1948, before there was any large–scale development in the area. Over the years, it became the largest landfill in the world, amassing most of the household garbage collected in New York City. To give you an idea about how much trash was coming into the dump, at its peak, Fresh Kills received as much as 29,000 tons of trash per day and the four landfills mounds on the site are made up of approximately 150 million tons of solid waste.

By 1997, two of the four landfill mounds were closed off and covered with an impermeable cap. Freshkills received its last barge of garbage on March 22, 2001. New York City’s garbage is now shipped to landfill locations in places such as Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Elige los productos que menos contaminan gracias a su ecoetiquetado.

Fuente: www.fundacionentorno.org

Autor: Ecoticias

Fecha: 17/11/2010

La sostenibilidad de los productos que consumimos es un reto fundamental para la sociedad y cobra cada vez más importancia para compradores y empresas. Un investigador de la Universidad de Santiago de Compostela (USC) ha ideado un sistema de ecoetiquetado que ofrece información medioambiental indicando la huella de carbono que generan estos bienes y servicios durante su «ciclo de vida».

«Este estudio expone una alternativa para comunicar de modo eficiente la información ambiental a empresas, consumidores y partes interesadas: el ecoetiquetado. Esta es una herramienta consolidada para informar a la sociedad sobre las cargas ambientales de los bienes que consumidos, diferenciar los productos de empresas y organizaciones, y que permitirá escoger, en un futuro, aquellos productos que contaminan menos», explica Aldolfo Carballo Penela, investigador de la USC y autor del estudio que publica el International Journal of life cycle assessment.
La investigación se basa en un sistema denominado «método compuesto de las cuentas contables (MC3)» diseñado inicialmente por J.L. Doménech –biólogo del departamento de medioambiente del puerto de Gijón- para estimar la huella ecológica y de carbono en organizaciones. Carballo ha adaptado este método para evaluar la huella medioambiental de los bienes y servicios en todas las fases por las que pasa el producto hasta llegar al consumidor final.
«Ofrecer información medioambiental al consumidor, es decir, que esa información de la huella del carbono se incorpore a etiquetas medioambientales visibles en el producto, vinculadas con las emisiones de CO2 y otros gases de efecto invernadero que son necesarios para producirlo, es fundamental para concienciar, informar sobre su modo de producción, y que empresas y organizaciones puedan realizar una gestión ambiental eficiente», declara el experto.
Para testar su método ha tomado como ejemplo una conserva de mejillón de Galicia, de una determinada marca, y ha analizado la contaminación paralela que conlleva cada una de las fases de su «ciclo de vida».»Se trataba de probar el sistema con un caso práctico, y el resultado es que se generan 10,7 toneladas de CO2 por tonelada de dicha conserva», apunta Carballo.
Ecoetiquetas en todos los productosLa investigación proporciona un indicador numérico. Finalmente, se trataría de trasladar esas emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero a una ecoetiqueta.
«Sería interesante que este sistema de ecoetiquetado se aplicase a cuantos más bienes mejor, que estuviera visible en todos los productos y que todos los consumidores se familiarizaran con este tipo de información», añade el investigador. «Es fundamental lograr un modelo productivo de desarrollo perdurable a largo plazo, este es uno de los retos que debe afrontar la humanidad. El mantenimiento del medio ambiente en unas condiciones que permitan el suministro de recursos y servicios ecológicos a las futuras generaciones debe ser uno de los ejes sobre los que debe girar el desarrollo sostenible. Para ello, es clave la contribución a este proceso de empresas y organizaciones», reivindica Carballo.

Get on your bike with the world’s greenest tech company

Fuente: blogs.nokia.com

Autor: Staff

Fecha: 17/11/2010

Orange Rat bike

Monster snow storms in the US. Sharks swimming down flooded streets in Australia. You only have to turn on the news to see the climate is changing in some pretty dramatic ways. What does all this have to do with us smartphone fans? Well, you’d be amazed how much power we have as technology enthusiasts to help look after the planet.

People pedal power

Take the Bicycle Battery Charger Kit, recently launched in Europe. This fantastic concept uses a dynamo to generate energy for your smartphone by hugging the spinning tire’s sidewall. If you bike between 4 and 50 mph for just 10 minutes, you can get around 28 minutes of talk time. Imagine how much energy that would save if 100 million people used it every day.

And this is just the latest in a long line of great green ideas Nokia’s boffins have made real. It’s hardly surprising when you learn that the company has been thinking sustainably for the last decade. We’ve taken a closer look at some stats, which help show why organizations like Greenpeace consider Nokia the world’s greenest electronics company.

Green from factory floor to recycling bin

For a start, more than a third of the company’s operations are powered by renewable energy, reducing CO2 emissions by almost 70,000 tons. This has the same effect as taking around 12,000 cars off the roads!

Nokia has also voluntarily removed BFR, PVC and RFR from new phones. We’ve also introduced more sustainable materials like bio paints, bio plastics and recycled metals. What’s more, every single Nokia device has an eco profile, including a detailed analysis of the materials used, the energy consumption over the product lifecycle, and how this all affects the environment. In the last ten years, the energy used over the entire product lifecycle has been reduced by a whopping 65%.

Packaging has been reduced too. Not only is it now fully recyclable, but it’s also up to 70% smaller, meaning less energy used in logistics and 240 000 tons of paper saved in only five years. And when, after many wonderful years together, you decide to get yourself a new smartphone, rather than dump it, you can make use of Nokia’s mobile phone recycling network. With 5000 collection points in nearly 100 countries, it’s the largest in the world.

A world of difference

Naturally, we were blown away by some of these facts. But what blew us away even more was the discovery that when enough people buy a smartphone from the world’s greenest tech company, they really can make a world of difference.

What about you? Do you ever consider the environmental implications of your purchases or do sharks swimming in flooded streets seem too far removed from Angry Birds in catapults?