The California Air Resources Board (CARB) funding program has just gone through a major chance. In a landmark alteration, rural school districts in California can now receive as much as $400,000 in CARB funding. This could be used, for example, to offset the full cost of a new electrified school bus for the students.
This comes via the Lower Emissions School Bus Program, a program which is being managed by the state’ cap-and-trade dollars, and is said to exceed the $1bn mark. This major announcement was made during the wildly popular Advanced Clean Transportation EXPO’ The Lion Electric Company Booth.
The project, the Rural School Bus Pilot Project, has been administered by the North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District, and has received around $25m in cap-and-trade funding. This will help to remove the oldest dirtiest and most damaging diesel school buses offer the road from rural and small school district locations.
With around half of these serving neighborhoods with low incomes and disadvantaged children, these funds will play a major role in determining and improving the experience overall. The long-term aim of the program is to try and help minimize the stress of up-front purchase costs, not only for the electric school bus programs but also for hydrogen-powered transit buses and also electric truck programs.
At present, this has produced over 150 cleaner school buses across the state, with at least 60 of them funded by the Rural School Bus Pilot Project itself. With nineteen of the busses also coming with electric battery models via The Lion Electric Company, seven other buses are driven by using a renewable source of fuel.
At the time of writing, the remainder of the buses needed have yet to be verified or confirmed at this time of writing. These buses, though, are wonderfully efficient. With around 100 miles in a single charge, they are easy to keep running and provides the schools with a more economically and environmentally friendly solution.
The Lion Electric Company has continued to forage forward with their new FirstPriority Gleen Fleet-joint project of the eLionM. Delivered on a monocoque chassis, this low-floor solution will carry 22 passengers at any one time. The hope is that, in time, they will be able to add a new battery option to the eLionM that can take as much as 225 miles per charge.
Other major options appearing for the electric school bus industry includes the Thomas Built Buses, IC Bus and Blue Bird models alongside Greenpower. We expect to see major production scale up and explode in the next few years, as electric buses become an affordable and essential part of the industry.
With eco-friendly travel becoming more and more important, it’s vital that such programs can continue to grow and give people the opportunity to tap into a very important and environmentally conscious system. Thanks to programs like the ones listed above, the future of school buses may become far more environmentally capable than the gas-guzzling models used across the country at present.
For some time now the African Development Bank (AfDB) has helped play a major role in continent-wide development and growth. One of the most significant developments has come at the Kenya Geothermal Development Company (GDC). With the AfDB offering to continue to support its long-term development with $120 million of funding. This is a major step towards helping Kenya to continue its nationwide development, and could be a significant step into further green development.
The Menengai Geothermal Project was recently reviewed by the AfDB. Undertaking the review was the Executive Director for the Eastern African region, Dr. Calleb Nyamajeje. Congratulating the GDC for its work in producing a renewable energy source in the nation, as well as reducing energy costs, it was seen as a worth well worth continuing on with.
Indeed, the GDC was also lauded for creating a model that helps to bring the Independent Power Producers in Kenya closer towards geothermal development. Speaking at the Nakuru County bae for the GDC, Nyamajeje said that: “I am happy that IPPs are now ready to put up power plants. That is a major milestone for GDC and AfDB.”
At the moment, the GDC is presently drilling for steam power in the Menengai region. With the cheapest tariff of $0.077/kWh, too this is a major step forward for the nation as it looks to continue its development and growth culturally and economically.
Also, there has been major progress on the three IPP geothermal power plants. Each plant will work with a combined power generation capacity. At the moment, despite some delays, the conditions have been confirmed as favorable for development.
Thanks to the help of the Kenya Forest Service the GDC has cleared a major obstacle for development: land utilization. This debate has ended in agreement across each contributing party.
Another significant landmark that has come from this is the positive assessments carried out by third parties. In a bid to ensure and confirm that the steam would last for as long as possible, the GDC turned to West Jec of Japan. The assessment firm concluded that the effect of the steam could last for as long as 25-years, fitting in with previous expectations.
This is supported by the reports, making sure that as many as 105MW in geothermal power can be produced. There’s also capacity for as much as 20% more, meaning that this project certainly has a very positive future ahead of it.
At the moment, the Menengai Geothermal Project has been invested with an extra $120m in funding. This should help to make sure that the project has the finance necessary to continue, and that there can be a clear plan of action put in place to meet the set goals.
As another move forward for Kenyan renewable energy and green policy, this is a significant step towards sustainable energy development. With the funding now secure, the project can continue in earnest. Alongside other geothermal developments in Africa, this could be a turning point for a very important part of environmental development and care.
For a few years now, the popular meme of ‘get in the sea’ has been thrown around. It’s about getting rid of things we don’t want or need, and chucking them into the vast expanse of ocean. While this was always a joke aimed usually at someone with a controversial opinion, it seems one company has taken ‘get in the sea’ to a new level.
Cape Sharp Tidal has decided that, instead of getting in the sea, they’d use it to their advantage. This company wants to use the power of the tide via underwater turbines to create energy sources. They will be doing so in the Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia. With director Christian Richard claiming that the turbines will use energy from tidal currents to turn the blades, this all sounds very exciting.
Best of all? Unlike other forms of green energy, they lack the eyesore issue that others cause. Many people dislike wind turbines, for example, due to their garish, scenery-damaging view. These turbines, though, will sit on the ocean floor and avoid this problem once and for all.
Without the ability to reduce naval navigation or impede traffic, it’s already a winner in the eyes of many.
A Developing Program
At the moment, the project is still in the early testing phases – but there’s a lot of positivity around. Not only is it going to become more efficient and resistant to corrosion, but it will become more cost-effective, too. One of the main concerns, though, is how such a feature might have a negative impact on marine life.
The predictability of the tides, though, means that this is simply an opportunity that could not be ignored. Since tides are easy to understand, the machinery should be able to work on a regular basis without too much inconsistency or problems
A recent update was provided at the end of February, providing some interesting updates on what is going on. The plan is to use a barge in the spring to help take the equipment out to sea in preparation to be deployed. It’s a very interesting development, and sure shows that Canadian companies are moving fast to be lead innovators in green tech.
While there’s still much to come, it’s safe to say that Cape Sharp Tidal is on the verge of something special. In years to come, this kind of machinery could become a global standard.
A team of graduate students in MIT’s Department of Chemical Engineering has developed the thermal resonator prototype, a device that captures energy from swings of ambient air temperature.
A report in the journal Nature Communications showed evidence that thermoelectric devices can generate power when one side has a temperature that is different from that of the other side. In recent years, this idea has been a subject of much research, and graduate student Anton Cottrill and his team finally managed to make it work in actuality and not just in theory.
According to Michael Strano, one of the team members, “We are surrounded by temperature fluctuations of all different frequencies all of the time. These are an untapped source of energy.”
The team was the first to build the very first thermal resonator out of whole cloth. To date, the system generates a modest level of power but there are definitely advantages.
Pros of the Thermal Resonator
Generates power without the need for direct exposure to sunlight
Generates energy even in the shade as it relies heavily on ambient temperature changes
Can be placed where it is convenient
Not affected by short-term changes in the wind, cloud cover, and other environmental conditions
Can draw away heat from solar panels when placed underneath, resulting in more efficient solar panels
What is even better is that the thermal resonator shows a potential to outperform a commercial pyroelectric material of an identical size. According to Cottrill, the difference is by a factor of more than 3 when calculated by power per area.
Challenge of Developing the Thermal Resonator
The biggest challenge is achieving the highest thermal effusivity. This refers to how a material can quickly adapt to the temperature around it, drawing heat or releasing it. It combines the properties of thermal capacity and thermal conduction.
The problem with most materials is that when one side is high the other tends to be low, as in the case of ceramics. The team needed to get around this to optimize thermal effusivity. The solution is a combination of three materials that ensure greater thermal conductivity and fast conduction.
The basic structure of the thermal resonator is made of a metal foam, graphene, and octadecane. According to Strano, the combined materials results in “the highest thermal effusivity material in the literature to date.”
How the Thermal Resonator Works
When heat is captured by one side of the thermoelectric device, it slowly radiates and goes through to the other side. As the system tries to reach equilibrium, one side always tends to lag behind, creating a perpetual difference that can be harvested using conventional thermoelectric devices.
While initial testing was done using ambient air temperature within a 24-hour cycle, it is possible for power to be generated from other kinds of temperature cycles by simply changing the materials used in creating a thermal resonator.
The heat generated from the on-off cycle of a machine’s or a refrigerator’s motor, for example, makes an ideal source.
As what Strano said, “We’re surrounded by temperature variations and fluctuations, but they haven’t been well-characterized in the environment.”
Now that a thermal resonator prototype has been invented and proven to work, these fluctuations and variations will soon be “untapped energy” no more.
Wello has received a 10MW wave energy park order from Gapura Energi Utama (GEU) in Bali. This new energy park will be next to Nusa Penida Island which is part of Bali and is expected to be complete by the end of 2018. This is part of the agreement Wello went into for the Indonesian market as they add renewable energy sources like wave power.
The CEO and Founder of Wello, Heikki Paakkinen, stated that he was proud of the work being accomplished and that Wello Penguin, the name of the new energy park, will be quite competitive with offshore wind energy production facilities. The overall goal is to reduce costs by as much as 50% for the generation of electricity through wave power.
The President Manager of GE, Komang Agus Pribadiana, believes that there is more than 17GW potential in the ocean that surrounds Indonesia that has yet to be fully developed. By teaming up with Wello, it helps increase the capacity for renewable energy in a safe manner that is environmentally sound.
Wello uses a wave energy converter that has been in the design and testing stages for nearly a decade. The rough waters off the coast of Orkney, Scotland has been one of the testing sites for the energy converter that has been handled by the European Marine Energy Center (EMEC). Because the testing was performed in waters that are just as harsh, if not even more challenging that what is found next to Nusa Penida Island in Bali, it means that the success of the new wave energy park is more assured.
The potential for Wello Penguin is considerable and estimated to be at over a billion euros by the company itself. In addition, new wave energy parks are planned for around the world, but the success of Wello Penguin in Bali will help determine its future.
It’s a known fact that the amount of cars we have on our roads is bad for the environment. With climate-damaging fuel emissions and health polluting toxic gases, diesel cars will one day be a thing of the past. While countries such as Copenhagen are seeing the rise of cycling over driving – see https://stateofgreen.com/en/ for more details – most people are looking towards electric and hybrid cars as the solution to tackling air pollution. However, how eco-friendly are they, and should you buy one?
Doubts have been raised
There are those who refute the idea that electric and hybrid cars emit zero emissions. Joshua Graff Zivin, a professor at the University of California, and advisor to the electric industry, suggests there are still issues to the climate. Why? According to him, not only is the manufacturing process less than eco-friendly, but the power plants providing the power to charge the vehicles are not completely emission free. There are also concerns about the batteries that are potentially disposed at the end of an electric car’s lifespan. Considering they contain toxic chemicals, there are fears that they will create a new crisis in the environment. As you can also read here, http://www.dw.com/en/opinion-the-myth-of-a-clean-electric-car/, there are increasing doubts as to the viability of a completely clean electric car.
On the positive side
It’s not all bad news. It has been proven that electric cars are more energy-efficient and cleaner when out on the roads, especially when compared to their diesel equivalent. In a time when there is more traffic than ever on our highways and byways, this is certainly a positive thing. Scientists are also looking to find ways to reuse the batteries from electric vehicles, such as using them within industrial processes. So, while there may not yet be an end to zero emissions, advances are being made to find a solution. While there is still a move to put electric public transport at the top of the agenda in some counties to ease traffic, it’s clear that electric cars are still the future, and continued changes will be made to ensure they are safer for our environment.
The future for you
The question for you, the consumer, is this. When should you take the plunge into buying an electric or hybrid car? We have already outlined some of the benefits here at http://www.greentechgazette.com, whether you are an eco-warrior or not. You may not be ready to make the transition, but you will eventually be forced into the upgrade, as many governments have vowed to take diesel-powered cars off the roads as soon as possible. The UK, for example, will stop selling petrol and diesel cars from 2040. Targets have been set, to both reduce greenhouse gases and tackle air pollution, so you need to check with your local government as to the implications for your future on the road.
We are all responsible for playing our part in reducing the carbon footprint. Not adding to the traffic at all is one solution, but if public transport or cycling is not a solution for you, it is time to think about your future on the road. Take a look at some of the latest hybrid and electric cars here https://www.caranddriver.com/best-hybrid-electric-cars, and consider them when deciding on your next vehicle. We raised the question about the eco-friendliness of electric cars, and the answer is not straightforward. Time will tell if they reduce zero emissions entirely, but one thing is clear, they are more sustainable than the diesel cars that currently pollute our environment.
Shape memory alloys are metals that can shift from one predetermined shape to another depending on the temperature it is subjected to. It was discovered 60 years ago and has since been used in different fields, including biomedicine and aeronautical engineering. But it has continuously refused to harvest energy from hot water – something that is about to change.
The founders of a company called Exergyn said they have made an engine capable of generating electricity. Their machine uses morphing wire and hot water left over from industrial processes. The development of the engine has its roots in a backyard experiment conducted five years ago in Dublin.
After heating water in an electric tea maker, the founders – a scientist, an engineer, and a businessman – poured it into a bisected segment of pipe. At the bottom of that pipe lay a wire made of shape memory alloy, with one of the men holding a ruler next to it.
The men observed that the wire shortened by a couple of centimeters when hot water was poured through the pipe. When they poured cold water over the wire, its original length returned.
It is estimated that in the US about a third of the energy is lost as heat. Rigoberto Advincula, a waste-heat expert and professor of macromolecular science at Case Western University, said that lots of energy is wasted in industrial processes or during heat exchange, which happens when water is poured on machines to cool them off. The hot water produced as a result of industrial applications is not hot enough to produce steam capable of powering an engine in order to get a generator going.
There are a few power plants and others in the industrial industry who send hot waste water through secondary engines. These engines area able to convert a little amount of energy into electricity. The process for achieving that is called the organic Ranking cycle, but it needs chemicals in order to generate power from hot water.
Since some of the chemicals that need to be used are considered dangerous and harmful for the environment, they have been banned or their use is restricted. Although there are cleaner chemicals, they are not as efficient in creating energy from waste water. Plus, they create additional operational costs.
The answer, then, lies in morphing wires – the heart of what’s in the new engine created by Exergyn. The company’s engine uses nitinol, a shape metal alloy variation made of nickel (Ni) and titanium (Ti). The “nol” in its name refers to the former Naval Ordnance Laboratory where the alloy was invented.
The Exergyn engine takes advantage of nitinol’s shape-shifting behavior to convert hot water waste into electricity. Its makers say the engine could be used in a waste-heat plumbing system where hot water is cycled into piston chambers, each attached to a nitinol wire. The wire contracts when hit with hot water then expands when cold water rushes through.
A viscous fluid lies on the other side of the piston, which pushes the fluid through a hydraulic transmission which in turn spins a generator leading to electricity being created.
Exergyn isn’t claiming a breakthrough with their engine, but they used existing research to create nitriol. Just how much a company can save on electricity when they buy an Exergyn engine still remains to be seen. For now, a prototype sits in Exergyn’s own offices in Dublin with actual field tests scheduled to be carried out in 2018.
Exergyn CEO Alan Healy says that the trials will prove that there is a way to achieve energy efficiency. He says that unless businesses are given a money saving option, they won’t do the right thing.
While renewable energy has become popular and more relevant in today’s energy grid, it is not always available when needed. However, one major transmitter of power has removed the technology to help them better incorporate renewable energy into their power grid.
Tennet, a European firm, announced that it was going to the be the first on the continent to team up with Sonnen, a battery supplier, and revitalize the blockchain concept to incorporate renewable energy so that it can be used when their customers need the extra power. This represents a fundamental change in how renewable energy sources are used since previously they were only available during daylight hours or when the wind was constant. Now, the energy created can be stored and used when needed or the batteries can be used when excessive energy is available for storage purposes.
Under the old system in Germany, if extra power was needed it had to be delivered from other power plants which may be hundreds of miles away. With the new battery storage, energy that was created from renewable sources can be stored and tapped when needed to make up for any deficiency. The result is not only faster access to power, it also solves one of the biggest concerns with today’s energy grid in Germany.
Currently, energy transmission operators in Europe have to manage a congested network that makes up their power grid, using technology that is expensive and requiring considerable precision to operate. This is especially true with third-party plants having to be contracted to provide extra power while cutting down on wind output which only seems counterproductive. By adding large battery storage units, Tennet may be able to solve several issues at once while promoting a more renewable energy-friendly policy.
The idea sprang from the use of batteries in homes that use solar or wind power. The application seemed logical for networking in a grid if the battery capacity was available and could be stored on site. This means that when excess energy is created, it can be readily stored and used when needed. Of course, this does not address the issue of what happens when the batteries are full and excess energy is still being created.
This new approach does have advancing technology to thank for creating batteries that can hold substantial amounts of electricity. Before, batteries of that size needed to be replaced frequently because their components would no longer be able to fully recharge. Today, it is possible to overcome that issue with far less cost.
However, one effect may be to greatly reduce operating costs once the batteries are installed. It is estimated that the current network grid cost about 800 million euros, a large part of which could be saved by using battery storage instead. Plus, it would greatly reduce the demands of running an energy transmission network since most of the energy could be tapped from a singular source in using batteries. This may not eliminate the need for networking the grid, but it would greatly reduce the demand in tapping for energy that is hundreds of miles away.
Surf ‘n’ Turf, a pilot project installed in Orkney, Scotland, has successfully generated tidal and wind energy that will be used to generate hydrogen. Whatever hydrogen is produced will then be stored and used later for a variety of different ideas and schemes.
The European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) believed that, unless hydrogen is produced from marine renewable projects, potential customers will go elsewhere. Thus, the need for a practical measure to generate and use electricity despite grid restraints in Orkney.
How is tidal energy produced?
Tidal energy generators are used to produce tidal energy. These are large underwater turbines that are placed in areas with high tidal movements. The generators are designed to capture the kinetic motion of the ocean tides. The ebbing and surging help produce electricity.
Because of the massive size of the oceans, tidal power is considered to have a great potential for future power and electricity generation.
Depending on the system used, energy from the tides can be captured in a vertical direction or through the flow of tides. With the former, the tide comes in and raises the water level in the basin before it is discharged through a turbine as the tides lower.
What is the technology used in Surf ‘n’ Turf project?
Surf ‘n’ Turf uses an electrolyzer unit that is powered by the Scotrenewables SR2000 and Tocardo TFS and T2 turbine prototype tidal energy converters that are currently being tested at the tidal energy test sites at EMEC. It is also powered by a wind turbine run by Eday Renewable Energy.
The power fed goes into a 0.5MW rapid response ITM Power electrolyzer unit that is located in an onshore substation. The unit generates hydrogen that can be moved and stored as needed.
According to EMEC’s Hydrogen Development Manager Jon Clipsham, “The electrolyser splits water into its component elements – hydrogen and oxygen – in an electrochemical process. Whilst generating hydrogen isn’t a new process, this is the first time that it has been generated from tidal energy”.
The renewable AC power is then converted to DC and applied to water in a series of electrochemical cells through catalysts. Technology Development Manager at ITM Power Kris Hyde explains that after the water goes through the catalysts, it is split into separate streams of hydrogen and oxygen. The former self-compresses and is then delivered to downstream equipment, while the latter is vented.
Challenges to using tidal energy to generate hydrogen power
Although tidal power is inherently a more predictable source than wind and wave, the technology used in power generation is still in its infancy. Many of the devices used are also in their prototype stages.
In fact, the ITM electrolyzer used in Orkney was selected after a competitive tender process.
The remote location of the EMEC tidal testing facility also poses logistical and access challenges. Combined with extremes of weather, commissioning and designing of the facility was not exactly a walk in the park.
The interconnection between the inter-island grid and Scotland is also weak. So even when Orkney’s electricity grid ‘routinely hit full capacity’, distribution to renewable generators are affected.
The smartflowerTM solar energy system brings on-the-go solar power to your home. Initially developed for European households, the smartflower is a self-contained, ground-mounted system that can be quickly installed and de-installed, perfect for people who want to enjoy the benefits of solar energy even as they move from home to home.
Here is an overview of the smartflower system and how it can benefit your lifestyle.
What Is smartflower?
The smartflower system looks like its name. Petal-shaped panels embedded with solar cells are arranged around a central point and fan out into a daisy-like pattern. The “stem” of the flower is a sturdy base containing the electronics and connections to send power to your home. The power generated is stored in batteries and is accessed by the homeowner through a “smart” energy management system.
The smartflower petals open when the sun comes up, soaking up solar energy during the day and then fold up like a fan at night to self-clean and protect the petals. The system has a dual-axis tracker that allows the smartflower to follow the sun throughout the day at the optimum angle to maximize the harvest. In high winds, the smartflower blades retract just as they do at night, to prevent damage.
The entire system is self-contained and can be removed and re-installed at a new home if needed. With dual-axis tracking, the smartflower can generate as much or more energy as a standard roof-top solar installation. One smartflower generates the equivalent of a four-kilowatt rooftop system, according to the manufacturer.
Compare smartflower to Other Solar Energy Systems
Traditional rooftop and ground level solar energy systems are made up of stationary panels oriented to the south or southwest to catch the prevailing sunlight. Unlike smartflower, stationary panels cannot optimize the angle of approach to gather the maximum amount of sunlight at every hour of the day.
In addition to the ability to track the sun, the smartflower has a self-cleaning function, reducing the amount of maintenance needed to keep the solar cells in top condition. Traditional solar installations require periodic cleaning to clean dirt and grime off the panels and increase the amount of sunlight they can soak in.
The manufacturer of the smartflower states the unit operates at a lower temperature than roof-mounted panels because the design allows air to flow freely around the panels.
Finally, the smartflower is portable. It can be uninstalled and quickly and reinstalled at a new residence so you can take your solar energy system with you when you move; you won’t need to purchase another system for your new home.
The Advantages of smartflowerTM
The smartflower system has all the advantages of solar energy generation.
You reduce your utility bill.
You have the potential to sell electricity back to the local grid.
You produce clean energy.
The system also has advantages beyond the tradition solar energy system.
Installation only takes a few hours instead of several days.
The system is portable and can be taken to your new home.
The dual-axis tracking capability optimizes the angle of the panels to gather the most solar energy throughout the day.
It is self-cleaning.
It produces more energy than a roof-top or fixed-ground system of similar size.
You decide when to use power from the grid, the batteries, or the solar panels.
The smartflower may not be feasible if you have a very shady yard or live in an area where cloudy days are the norm, but those are the same disadvantages you would have with a traditional roof-top system. The petals open to 194 square feet and may not fit into a tiny yard or zero-lot-line home.
The smartflowerTM expands the choices for people who want to invest in solar energy but may be hesitant because they know they may not stay in a home long enough to reap the return. The company has a single version for sale in the US but plans to add to the selection early in 2018.
The sunflower’s easy installation, self-cleaning features, and portability plus the ability to produce clean energy lets you take your solar power with you wherever you go.
About the Author
Massy Almubidin is a solar expert and owner at IntegrateSun, providing solar panels to Houston-area homes and businesses.
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