Archive | Science, Space, & Technology

Philadelphia Navy Yard to Get Massive Solar Panel Plant Constructed

PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 28 (UPI) — A new solar panel manufacturing facility will be built at the Philadelphia Navy Yard at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars, officials say.

Peter Longstreth, president of the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp., which owns and manages the Navy Yard on behalf of the city, said the Greek firm Heliotechniki S.A. will open a manufacturing plant employing 400 to 500 workers, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Saturday.

The official announcement is expected to be made Monday by Gov. Ed Rendell, who will tout it as an important step in positioning Philadelphia as a key player in the emerging clean-energy economy, the newspaper said.

Longstreth reportedly said jobs at the 400,000-square-foot Heliotechniki plant would be “advanced manufacturing” involving “a significant amount of technology,” adding it would represent an investment of “several hundred million” dollars in the city.

The Inquirer said the Navy Yard currently has 5.5 million square feet of new and redeveloped buildings, now employing 7,000 and with plans envisioning up to 30,000 workers. A “clean-energy campus initiative” are reportedly part of the effort.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Buildings, Energy, Energy & Fuels, Science, Space, & Technology, Solar0 Comments

President Barack Obama Reveals Emission Reduction Targets

WASHINGTON, Nov. 25 (UPI) — President Barack Obama will seek a U.S. emissions reduction target of about 17 percent below 2005 levels in 2020, the White House said Wednesday.

“This provisional target is in line with current legislation in both chambers of Congress and demonstrates a significant contribution to a problem that the U.S. has neglected for too long,” the White House said in a statement Wednesday.

Given Obama’s goal to reduce emissions 83 percent by 2050, the expected targets in the legislation would mean a 30 percent reduction below 2005 levels in 2025 and a 42 percent reduction below 2005 levels in 2030, the statement said.

Obama will participate in the U.N.-sponsored Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, on Dec. 9, the White House confirmed Wednesday. His attendance had been in doubt for several weeks.

“With less than two weeks to go until the beginning of the Copenhagen conference, it is essential that the countries of the world, led by the major economies, do what it takes to produce a strong, operational agreement that will both launch us on a concerted effort to combat climate change and serve as a stepping stone to a legally binding treaty,” the statement said.

Obama is working with Congress to pass energy and climate legislation quickly, the White House said.

He will be in Oslo, Norway, Dec. 10 to accept the Nobel Peace Prize.

The U.S. contingent for the climate change conference includes Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, Council on Environmental Quality Chairwoman Nancy Sutley, Office of Science and Technology Policy Director John Holdren and Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change Carol Browner.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Energy, Office, Pollution & Toxins, Science, Space, & Technology0 Comments

2004 California Earthquake's Aftershocks Studied

ATLANTA, Nov. 25 (UPI) — U.S. scientists say they’ve determined the 2004 earthquake along the San Andreas fault in California had 11 times more aftershocks than previously thought.

Georgia Institute of Technology researchers said they used a technique normally employed to detect weak tremors and discovered the magnitude 6 earthquake along the Parkfield section of the fault exhibited nearly 11 times more events during the first first three-day period following the main quake.

“That’s surprising because this is a well-instrumented place and almost 90 percent of the activity was not being determined or reported,” Assistant Professor Zhigang Peng said.

Peng and graduate research assistant Peng Zhao discovered the earliest aftershocks occurred in the region near the main event. Then with time, the aftershocks started migrating.

“Basically, the big event happens due to sudden fault movement, but the fault doesn’t stop after the main event,” Peng said. “It continues to move because the stress has been perturbed and the fault is trying to adjust itself. We believe this so-called fault creep is causing most of the aftershocks.”

The research appears online ahead of print in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Nature & Ecosystems, Science, Space, & Technology0 Comments

India Announces Plan for 20,000 More Megawatts of Solar Power

NEW DELHI, Nov. 24 (UPI) — India announced Monday a plan to increase solar power to 20,000 megawatts by 2022.

Farooq Abdullah, India’s minister for new and renewable energy, cited the country’s increased energy demand, crippling electricity shortages and high rates for electricity in announcing the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission, named after the nation’s first prime minister.

The plan will adopt a three-phase approach.

Phase one, focusing on solar thermal, will add 1,100 megawatts of grid-connected solar between 2010 to 2013, up from the current level of less than 5 megawatts.

The long-term goal to install 20,000 megawatts by 2022 comes at a total cost of $19 billion. The money will largely go towards developing incentive schemes for the production and installation of solar photovoltaic systems, as well as research and development, according to the plan. The initial investment would be $922 million.

The plan also includes providing solar lighting systems to about 10,000 villages and hamlets. Some 400 million Indians currently lack electricity, according to the World Resources Institute.

The announcement Monday of India’s solar mission comes two weeks before the U.N.-sponsored climate-change talks are set to begin. On Tuesday Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrived in Washington to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama. Climate change is expected to be included on their agenda.

In announcing the solar mission, the Indian government said its ability to achieve its ambitious solar targets will be “based on availability of international finance and technology.” Indian officials are expected to ask for international assistance in Copenhagen.

India, Asia’s third-largest energy consumer, relies on coal for more than half of its power capacity. According to India’s Prayas Energy Group, nearly a tenth of the country’s installed electricity capacity now comes from renewable sources, mostly wind power. Just a small fraction of India’s power currently comes from solar energy, which costs about two and a half times more than power from coal.

India also said it hopes to become a global leader in solar manufacturing, eventually employing at least 100,000 trained workers in the solar industry.

Greenpeace India estimates India’s solar plan would reduce annual CO2 emissions by 434 million tons by 2050, based on the assumption that solar power will replace fossil fuels.

Sidddharth Pathak, climate and energy policy officer at Greenpeace, said in a statement that India’s solar initiative will “put pressure on the developed countries to act and commit their ambitious greenhouse gas emission reduction targets at Copenhagen.”

But Pathak said the plan lacks details in several areas, including the source of financing.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Coal, Electricity, Energy, Energy & Fuels, Science, Space, & Technology, Solar, Wind0 Comments

Fuel Efficiency on the Rise According to EPA

WASHINGTON, Nov. 20 (UPI) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said automakers are reporting an increase in the average fuel economy for new vehicles.

EPA said in a news release Friday based on the 21 miles per gallon average fuel economy reported by automakers in 2008, the average is expected to increase to 21.1 mpg for 2009.

In the annual EPA report, “Light-Duty Automotive Technology, Carbon Dioxide Emissions, and Fuel Economy Trends: 1975 through 2009,” EPA officials said carbon dioxide emissions for new vehicles have decreased by 8 percent, or 39 grams per mile, since 2004.

During that same time period, the average fuel economy for new vehicles increased by 9 percent, or 1.8 mpg.

“American drivers are increasingly looking for cars that burn cleaner, burn less gas and won’t burn a hole in their wallets,” EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said.

The agency said the decreased carbon dioxide emissions and increased fuel efficiency comes after CO2 emissions increased and fuel efficiency decreased in the United States from 1987 to 2004.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Cars, Energy & Fuels, Science, Space, & Technology0 Comments

California Sets Energy Efficiency Requirements for TVs

SACRAMENTO, Nov. 20 (UPI) — California has become the first U.S. state to adopt energy efficiency requirements for television.

The standards, approved this week by the California Energy Commission, require that new televisions sold in the state consume 33 percent less electricity by 2011 and 49 percent less electricity by 2013.

The standards affect only those TVs with a screen size 58 inches or smaller. TVs with screens larger than 58 inches, including home theater systems, are likely to be addressed in the next few years.

The rule does not apply to any of the approximately 35 million TV sets currently in use of for sale in California. The commission said that about three-quarters of TV sets now in stores comply with the 2011 standards and 25 percent meet the tougher 2013 rule.

California estimates that after 10 years, the regulations will save $8.1 billion in energy costs and save enough energy to power 864,000 single-family homes. Pacific Gas & Electric estimates that over a decade the standards will reduce CO2 emissions by 3.3 million tons.

“It is the real, achievable policies like the first-in-the-nation standards adopted by the Energy Commission today that have made California a world leader in the fight against climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said in a statement.

Since the sale of flat-panel TVs started booming in the early 2000s, TV-related power usage has more than tripled to 10 billion kilowatt hours per year, said Arthur Rosenfeld, a nuclear physicist and member of the commission, the Los Angeles Times reports. This usage accounts for nearly 10 percent of residential electricity consumption.

Rosenfeld noted that the state’s energy regulations have had favorable outcomes in the past. In the 1970s, California banned energy-guzzling refrigerators and air conditioners. Before the ban, the average refrigerator in California consumed 2,000 kilowatt hours per year of electricity, Rosenfeld said. Now the energy usage for a typical refrigerator has been slashed to 400 kilowatt hours per year, costs less and has more consumer-friendly features.

According to the commission, the state’s per capita electricity use has remained flat for 30 years compared to the rest of the United States, which has increased its energy consumption by 40 percent.

The Consumer Electronics Association issued a statement denouncing the regulations as “dangerous for the California economy, dangerous for technology innovation and dangerous for consumer freedom.”

“Instead of allowing customers to choose the products they want, the commission has decided to impose arbitrary standards that will hamper innovation and limit consumer choice,” the statement said, noting that in the last two years, energy efficiency of TVs has improved by 41 percent.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Consumption, Electricity, Electronics, Energy, Energy & Fuels, Energy Efficiency, Nuclear, Policies & Solutions, Science, Space, & Technology0 Comments

EPA Calls for 15th Annual Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award Nominations

WASHINGTON, Nov. 19 (UPI) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a call Thursday for the 15th annual Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award nominations.

The EPA said the awards recognize innovative chemical technologies that incorporate green chemistry into the design, manufacture and use of chemicals that have broad applications in industry.

“Nominated technologies should reduce or eliminate the use or generation of hazardous substances from a chemical product or process,” the agency said in a statement. “Any individual, group or non-governmental organization, both non-profit and for-profit, including academia and industry, may nominate a green chemistry technology for the awards. Self-nominations are welcome.”

Awards are made each year in five categories: greener synthetic pathways, greener reaction conditions, designing greener chemicals, small business and academic.

Officials said each nominated technology must have reached a significant milestone within the past five years in the United States.

Nominations must be submitted no later than Dec. 31 to be eligible for the 2010 awards, which will be presented in June.

More information is available at

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Chemicals, Science, Space, & Technology0 Comments

Rancho Mission Viejo Brush Fire Contained

RANCHO MISSION VIEJO, Calif., Nov. 19 (UPI) — Firefighters contained a stubborn southern California brush fire that burned 145 acres near a scenic highway but threatened no homes, fire officials said.

Four firefighters were slightly injured fighting the Rancho Mission Viejo, Calif., blaze, Orange County Fire Authority spokesman Capt. Greg McKeown said.

At one point flames reached 15 feet high, but hand crews using shovels and chainsaws spent several nights hacking through dense brush to cut containment lines around the blaze, the Orange County Register reported.

A helicopter dropped fire retardant on a burning ridge south of State Route 74, known as the Ortega Highway, part of the Pines to Palms Scenic Byway.

Fire officials originally said the blaze scorched 250 acres, but the damage was downgraded to 145 acres after crews with mapping technology flew over the fire, McKeown said.

Authorities believe the fire was sparked accidentally Monday morning when a tractor crashed into a power pole off the highway, sending downed power lines into dry brush.

Commuters on the highway reported the fire was quickly spreading over the steep hillsides, the newspaper said.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Science, Space, & Technology, Trees & Forestry0 Comments

Air Pollution at Small Airports a Concern

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 18 (UPI) — Air pollution is well-recognized problem at major airports, but air pollution near smaller regional airports may be overlooked, U.S. researchers say.

Suzanne Paulson of the University of California, Los Angeles, and colleagues said smaller regional airports are becoming an increasingly important component of global air transport systems.

The study, published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, suggests that officials should pay closer attention to these overlooked emissions, which could cause health problems for residents. Paulson and colleagues note that scientists have known for years that aircraft emissions from fuel burned during takeoffs and landings can have a serious impact on air quality near major airports.

The scientists measured a range of air pollutants near a general aviation airport for private planes and corporate jets in Southern California — Santa Monica Airport — in the spring and summer of last year.

The researchers found that emissions of ultrafine particles, which are less than 1/500th width of a human hair, were significantly elevated when compared to background pollution levels.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Air Pollutants, Air Pollution, Aviation, Pollution & Toxins, Regional, Science, Space, & Technology0 Comments

APEC Leaders Aim Lower on Climate Change and Global Warming for Climate Summit in Copenhagen, Denmark

SINGAPORE, Nov. 16 (UPI) — Asia-Pacific leaders on Sunday conceded that a legally binding global-warming accord is not achievable at next month’s climate summit in Copenhagen, Denmark.

U.S. President Barack Obama and other leaders, gathered for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, backed a two-step approach proposed by Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen, who is leading the group overseeing the U.N.-sponsored Copenhagen talks.

Under Rasmussen’s strategy, leaders would aim to produce in Copenhagen a “politically binding” agreement that would cover mitigation, adaption, finance and technology. This agreement would be a prelude to a later, legally binding accord.

“Given the time factor and the situation of individual countries, we must in the coming weeks focus on what is possible and not let ourselves be distracted by what is not possible,” Rasmussen said. He flew to Singapore for a hastily convened breakfast meeting Sunday during the APEC forum.

The outcome in Copenhagen, Rasmussen said, should be a five- to eight-page document with “precise language of a comprehensive political agreement.”

“Even if we may not hammer out the last dots of a legally binding instrument, I do believe a politically binding agreement with specific commitment to mitigation and finance provides a strong basis for immediate action in the years to come,” Rasmussen said. “We are not aiming to let anyone off the hook.”

U.S. deputy national security adviser Mike Froman told reporters Sunday that the leaders had reached the conclusion that “it was unrealistic to expect a full, internationally legally binding agreement to be negotiated between now and when Copenhagen starts in 22 days.”

The aim of the Copenhagen summit, scheduled to begin Dec. 7, is to draw up a successor to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions, which expires in 2012.

APEC members — which include the United States and China, the world’s largest two emitters of carbon emissions — account for almost two-thirds of the world’s total emissions.

“We … reaffirm our commitment to tackle the threat of climate change and work towards an ambitious outcome in Copenhagen,” the APEC leaders said in their final declaration.

The APEC leaders, however, failed to set any specific targets for cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

“Global action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will need to be accompanied by measures, including financial assistance and technology transfer to developing economies for their adaptation to the adverse impact of climate change,” the declaration states.

Diane McFadzien, a spokeswoman for environmental group WWF, said APEC leaders had “missed a great opportunity to move the world closer to a fair, ambitious and binding agreement.”

She added that the leaders had to “take the bull by the horns, and finally tackle the difficult questions, instead of constantly avoiding them.”

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Global Warming & Climate Change, Other, Science, Space, & Technology0 Comments

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