Archive | Energy Efficiency

Davos Forum: Leaders Call for Green Economy

International leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland say U.S. businesses must pressure the federal government to work toward an energy-efficient economy before China reaches one first.

U.N. climate chief Christina Figueres said Thursday that China “is going to leave us all in the dust” if Western countries don’t begin to act on climate change, AP reports.

Figueres said the Chinese “are not doing it just because they want to save the planet. They are doing it because it’s good for the economy.”

European Union Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard called for U.S. businesses to change their perspective on energy efficiency, saying they should realize that “it’s bad business to not be among the front-runners” in the race for a green global economy.

The annual conference is held in a mountain resort in Graub√ľnden, in the the eastern Alps region of Switzerland.

Posted in Effects, Energy Efficiency, Energy Industry, Finance, Accounting, & Investment, Global Warming, Globalization & Free Trade, Policies & Solutions0 Comments

Light Bulbs: IKEA Pulls Plug on Inefficient Incandescents

IKEA announced Tuesday that it has stopped stocking incandescent light bulbs in U.S. stores, instead offering energy-efficient alternatives.

The Swedish-based home decor and furniture retailer began phasing out the bulbs in August and says it is the first seller to remove the lights from its shelves completely.

The announcement comes ahead of a federal legislation that will phase out the incandescents from 2012 to 2014. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 will mandate light bulbs that are 30% more energy-efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs.

“Eliminating incandescents is just one simple way for IKEA customers to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gases,” U.S. IKEA president Mike Ward said in a statement Tuesday.

The company plans to offer compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) along with LED, halogen and solar-powered lamps.

CFLs consume up to 80 percent less energy and last up to 10 times longer than incandescents, AP reports.

Posted in Electricity, Energy Efficiency, Policies0 Comments

Scientist: Wind, Solar Energy is Future

BOSTON, Aug. 24 (UPI) — A Nobel Prize-winning U.S. scientist says the world could soon enter an era where renewable wind and solar power will be the globe’s main sources of energy.

Walter Kohn, who shared the 1998 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, told a meeting of the American Chemical Society that total oil and natural gas production, which today provides about 60 percent of global energy consumption, is expected to peak about 10 to 30 years from now, followed by a rapid decline, an ACS release said Tuesday.

But ongoing research and development of alternative energy could lead to a new era in human history in which two renewable sources — solar and wind — will become Earth’s dominant contributors of energy, Kohn said.

Global photovoltaic energy production increased by a factor of about 90 and wind energy by a factor of about 10 over the last 10 years, Kohn said, and he expects vigorous growth of these two effectively inexhaustible energies to continue.

Kohn, from the University of California, Santa Barbara, cited students on his campus who spent their own funds to convert an athletic building to total solar power.

“When it comes to providing leadership by young people in the area of energy conservation and energy efficiency and global warming — they are fantastic,” he said. “It is a major social commitment for our times.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Consumption, Energy Conservation, Energy Efficiency, Natural Gas, Other, Solar, Wind0 Comments

Renewable Energy Site Opens in Cape Verde

PRAIA, Cape Verde, July 6 (UPI) — A regional center tasked with helping to develop renewable energy potential for West Africa opened Tuesday in Praia, the capital of Cape Verde.

The Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency will help develop renewable energy and energy efficiency markets in West Africa, generate policy, build capacity and quality assurance mechanisms and design financing plans, the United Nations said in a release. The center is supported by the U.N. Industrial Development Organization and the governments of Austria, Cape Verde and Spain.

The center will also implement demonstration projects that could be scaled up in the Economic Community of West African States region, the United Nations said.

“The current energy systems in the (Economic Community of West African States) region are failing to support the growth prospects of the over 262 million inhabitants, especially the needs of the poor,” said Yoshiteru Uramoto, a U.N. Industrial Development Organization official.

The center’s opening “is a central milestone in efforts to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy and energy-efficient technologies and services in the region,” Uramoto said. “Investing in renewable energy systems and introducing energy efficient technologies will contribute to the region’s economic and social development without harming the environment.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Energy Efficiency, Other0 Comments

$400 Million for Indonesia's Geothermal

JAKARTA, March 23 (UPI) — Indonesia’s massive geothermal energy potential has been boosted by a $400 million investment fund plan to help double the sector’s energy capacity, the World Bank announced.

The $400 million plan, endorsed by the Trust Fund Committee of the Clean Technology Fund is designed to support the Indonesian government’s long-term goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent by 2020.

The plan will involve co-financing from the multilateral CTF to increase large-scale geothermal power plants and to boost programs to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy by creating risk-sharing facilities and addressing financing barriers to small- and medium-scale investments.

By 2020, the Indonesian government hopes to provide electricity access to 90 percent of Indonesia’s population; about 65 percent currently have access.

The $400 million funding follows an Indonesian energy and mineral resources ministry announcement earlier this month saying it had revised the country’s geothermal potential to 28,100 megawatts, up from 27,000 megawatts a decade ago.

The ministry’s geological agency said that with 30 years of operation, Indonesia’s revised geothermal potential was equal to 12 billion barrels of oil. That compares with the country’s current oil reserves of 6.4 billion barrels, the agency said.

Indonesia’s national energy policy aims to obtain 9,500 megawatts of power from geothermal sources by 2025. Less than 1,200 megawatts of geothermal energy has been explored, according to the agency.

“Indonesia has the largest geothermal energy potential in the world,” said World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development Katherine Sierra in a statement announcing the $400 million plan.

“The co-financing will help Indonesia reduce the use of fossil fuels to meet its rapidly growing energy needs. It also gives a clear signal on the practical actions developing countries can take to combat global climate change,” she said.

Sierra, along with Ursula Schaefer-Preuss, vice president for knowledge management and sustainable development at the Asian Development Bank, point out in an editorial in The Jakarta Post Tuesday that Asia’s energy demand is projected to almost double by 2030. Unless development and consumption patterns shift, they said, the region would soon become the largest source of new greenhouse gas emissions.

Dennis Tirpak, a climate change expert at the World Resources Institute, said the $400 million funding was a positive step that can help jump-start Indonesia’s geothermal industry, ClimateWire reports. He pointed out, however, that Indonesia also needs long-term policy changes, particularly relating to fossil fuel subsidies, if it aims to achieve lasting changes to its energy structure.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Consumption, Electricity, Energy Efficiency, Geothermal, Other0 Comments

Micro-algae Explored As Renewable Energy

BUENOS AIRES, March 18 (UPI) — Micro-algae as a source of cheap renewable energy are at the center of new research being conducted at Argentina’s National Technological University.

The use of algae as a source of energy is being researched in different countries across the world and is at an advanced stage in the United States.

But as research has grown so has the realization that converting algae into energy may not be as cost-effective as originally thought possible. As a result, new research and investigation has been two-pronged, both to make optimum use of algae as a source of energy and to do it cheaply.

Scientists at the National Technological University of Mar del Plata, on Argentina’s Atlantic coast, said they focused on developing techniques that would be both economically viable and environmentally sustainable.

A production module already in place would seek to convert micro-algae into energy with the minimum amount of energy being used in the whole process. The scientists said they would seek to achieve a ratio below 1:5 — to limit consumed energy to below 20 percent of the energy produced.

A fundamental factor in the project is the replacement of high-cost raw materials, such as carbon dioxide and cultivation agents, with “environmental liabilities” like industrial waste and emissions and sewage mud, the university said.

The research work is being conducted with the participation of scientists and technicians with an established knowledge base in aquaculture, biotechnology, environmental engineering and phycology, MercoPress reported.

The production of biofuels, particularly biodiesel from marine micro-algae, has won support from environmentalists and politicians because it doesn’t restrict human food consumption, as is the case with soybean and other agricultural crops, and fresh water is not used. Sea water cools the equipment deployed to convert micro-algae into energy.

Analysts said it was too early to determine if energy produced from micro-algae could be cost-effective on a longer term and if the technology could be used for large volumes of energy.

A hectare of micro-algae yields about 8,000 liters of bio-diesel.

Argentina is reviewing its energy efficiency strategies amid a continuing economic downturn and changing demographics, with forecasts that the upwardly mobile younger generation, although environmentally conscientious, will be consuming more energy in the coming years because of changing lifestyles and improved living conditions.

Argentina began exploring the micro-algae project in 2008. Scientists began the work with micro-algae species carrying high oil content. The micro-algae was cultivated in pools of up to 2,000 liters during the four seasons of the year, then collected in vats before being transported for processing.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Biofuels & Biomass, Energy Efficiency, Engineering, Food Consumption0 Comments

2010 Energy Prize Competition Begins

HOUSTON, March 17 (UPI) — The ConocoPhillips Co. and Pennsylvania State University say they have opened the 2010 ConocoPhillips Energy Prize competition.

Officials said the competition awards up to $300,000 in recognition of original and viable solutions that can help improve the way the United States develops and uses energy.

The competition’s three areas are new energy source development, energy efficiency improvements and innovations that fight climate change.

Officials said the competition is open to U.S. residents 18 years of age or older at the time of entry. Entrants must submit a comprehensive proposal before May 22.

An expert panel of judges will select up to five finalists to present their submissions in October. Entries will be judged on the basis of creativity, scalability, commercial viability and sustainability.

“Securing the nation’s energy future will require innovative ideas that maximize existing resources, create sustainable and diverse energy supplies, and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Stephen Brand, ConocoPhillips senior vice president for technology.

ConocoPhillips and Penn State awarded the 2009 prize to a team that created a hydrokinetic machine that converts the movement of water from river and ocean currents into electric energy regardless of tidal current strength.

More information is available at www.conocophillips.com/energyprize.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Energy & Fuels, Energy Efficiency, Ideas, Humanities, & Education, Tidal0 Comments

Greening of the Empire State Building

NEW YORK, March 5 (UPI) — The Empire State Building’s 6,500 windows will be retrofitted as part of an energy overhaul designed to reduce the iconic skyscraper’s energy use by 38 percent.

Milwaukee’s Johnson Controls, which is overseeing the Empire State Building retrofit project, with a team of energy efficiency experts including the Clinton Climate Initiative, Jones Lang LaSalle, and Rocky Mountain Institute, announced Wednesday that California’s Serious Materials was chosen for the massive window project.

Serious Materials will reuse all the existing windows in the 102-story New York City landmark and create super-insulating glass units.

During the nine-month construction period, Serious will occupy a 5,000 sq. ft. space in the building, which will serve as the project’s processing and production area. To reduce noise, the company will install its QuietRock soundproof drywall product in its working space. The window retrofitting is expected to begin within the next 45 days.

“When we heard that retrofitting the dual-pane windows was a key component of the cost-efficient upgrade program, we went to work and came up with a solution never before attempted,” Kevin Surace, chief executive officer of Serious Materials told Contract Magazine.

“Most people throw out the glass and start anew,” Surace said. “It wasn’t cheaper to do this but it was the right thing for the planet.”

The super-insulating windows will reduce energy use and produce savings “that will payback in three years,” said Iain Campbell, vice president and general manager, Global Energy & WorkPlace Solutions, Johnson Controls, in a statement.

Surace said he’s seen a 50 percent growth trend in the last few years toward retrofitting initiatives.

“We expect to use this model with other major efficiency projects throughout the world with customers who want to save real money in their buildings,” he said.

The overall greening makeover of the Empire State Building will cost $500 million by the time it’s completed in 2013. Other measures in the eight-part project include upgrading the air, water and lighting systems as well as tenant energy management.

The project is expected to save $4.4 million per year in energy costs and save 105,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide over the next 15 years.

According to Serious Materials’ Web site, the Empire State Building will be more energy efficient than 90 percent of all office buildings and use half the energy per square foot of an average building.

“The Empire State building represents a model to others who may look to emulate what is being done at this landmark building from an energy efficiency standpoint,” Campbell said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Buildings, Energy Efficiency0 Comments

Obama Unveils Home Energy Rebate Program

SAVANNAH, Ga., March 2 (UPI) — U.S. President Barack Obama Tuesday unveiled a new program that would offer rebates to U.S. consumers who invest to make their homes energy efficient.

The Home Star energy rebate program will save families several hundred dollars in utility bills, reduce the country’s fossil-fuel dependency and “spur hiring up and down the economy,” Obama said during a White House to Main Street visit to Savannah, Ga.

If consumers want to upgrade the energy efficiency through insulation, duct sealing, windows, roofing or doors, among other things, they could be eligible for rebates of between $1,000 and $1,500 to a combined maximum of $3,000.

Consumers looking for more comprehensive energy retrofitting could receive up to a $3,000 rebate for a whole-house energy audit and retrofits that achieve a 20 percent energy savings.

The program requires congressional approval, Obama said, who added, “Working stuff through Congress is more than a notion.”

“This is not a Democratic or a Republican idea, this is a common-sense approach” to help jump start the economy and make it stronger,” Obama said.

Programs such as Home Star and other energy-focused initiatives will help lay the foundation of economic growth that will boost jobs at decent wages critical to “create lasting opportunities and prosperity.”

He noted the first new nuclear power plant in nearly three decades will be built in Georgia, and praised programs at Savannah Technical College, where he spoke, that teach green trades.

“I’m convinced the country that leads in clean energy will lead the global economy,” Obama said. “I want us to be at first.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Energy Conservation, Energy Efficiency, Nuclear0 Comments

Electric Power Execs Lean Toward Nuclear

OVERLAND PARK, Kan., Feb. 19 (UPI) — A survey of U.S. electric power industry leaders reflects the impact of the weak economy and indicates their support for nuclear energy.

In its fourth annual Strategic Directions in the Electric Utility Industry Survey, engineering and consulting giant Black & Veatch found that nuclear energy is the utility industry’s preferred “environmentally friendly” technology, followed by wind power and natural gas.

“Contrary to many ‘experts’ who talk about the utility industry today, most insiders still view nuclear energy as the best way to achieve environmental improvement while meeting the capacity and energy needs of the future,” the authors of the report, released Thursday, wrote.

Still, more than 75 percent of the 329 executives who participated in the survey said respondents said there is a future for coal-fired power plants.

Industrial and commercial sales for many utilities have been “severely or seriously eroded” by the recession, the study shows. Less than one-quarter of those surveyed said they expect electricity usage in their area to rise by more than 1.5 percent annually in the next 10 years.

“The times are tough, so the industry is returning to its Job One: maintaining reliable service and preserving financial health, William Kemp, who leads Black & Veatch’s management consulting services around strategy and sustainability, said in a release. “Reliability and regulation popped back to the top of the major issues of concern for industry managers.”

The survey shows that electric utility spending on programs for energy efficiency and demand-side management is rising, to almost 2 percent of revenue. Black & Veatch, which has headquarters in Overland Park, Kan., said survey results indicate that the industry is spending an amount equivalent to approximately 15 to 20 percent of pre-tax earnings to get customers to use less of its product.

As for renewable energy, 79 percent of those surveyed said wind power projects are under way or planned within the next five years, while 73 percent of respondents reported solar projects under way or planned in the same time period.

A majority of those surveyed said they expect some form of carbon legislation to be in place by 2012 but more than 70 percent oppose the cap-and-trade system contained in current legislative proposals. Some 52 percent said the United States cannot afford carbon legislation.

“Utilities are facing increasing demands to spend more money on basic infrastructure, energy efficiency, the Smart Grid and cybersecurity,” Kemp said. “Their expected leading role in curbing carbon emissions would hit utility costs very hard.

“Yet their sales are declining or relatively flat, and regulatory commissions are reluctant to approve rate increases when the economy is down. Electric utilities will be hard-pressed to satisfy both customers and investors over the next few years.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Coal, Electricity, Energy Efficiency, Engineering, Natural Gas, Solar, Wind0 Comments

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