Monday, February 28, 2011

High oil prices present an oportunity!

Here we go again. Oil prices are threatening to derail our already weak economy. What is most distressing about the whole thing is that the oil producing countries are not the only problem. Transportation companies, speculators and greedy refiners all share in the volatility of this commodity -- and I didn’t even mention our own government.

But we have a weapon don’t we? Renewable clean energy is available 24/7. And we also have the power of knowledge because these volatile times increase our awareness. It’s like free advertizing. Every time the talking heads say that the price of gas is going to be much higher this summer and fall, I can hear somebody saying, “Honey, let’s look at a Chevy Volt or a Nissan Leaf. Or how about a model from Think, Tesla or a Coda.”

These times are made for change. All over the world people want change and the freedom it brings. We need to disconnect political volatility abroad from energy pricing here. I am an optimist, so I believe that the market power of free countries in the world is critical in bringing stability to the energy markets. The result is that wealth will be distributed and not concentrated in a wealthy few.

Let’s raise our voices to push renewable, push renewable, push renewable. The fact is that politicians need your vote to stay in power, no matter what the lobbyists say. If the oil companies want to throw their weight around by using lobbyists, so be it. Contact your politicians. Tell them they will not get your vote unless they take steps to change the effect of energy volatility in this country. That, my friends, is grass roots lobbying!

The politicians seem to be lost in these difficult times. But we can guide them through our calls, emails and constant reminders that they work for us.

Make it happen!

George Lopez
Executive Director
The Solar and Wind Expo

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

SAE International's New Vehicle Electrification Website

Strong initial response to SAE International's new Vehicle Electrification website ( is proving the time was right to launch the industry's most complete source of engineering information related to Hybrid and Electric Vehicle development and technologies.

"The first month the web site was operational, it had more than 6,000 unique visitors and 10,000 page views," noted Bill Cariello, manager, Web Strategy/Operations, for SAE International. "The amount of visitor traffic tells us is rapidly gaining audience acceptance."

Cariello said the new website, launched last fall and accessible to the public, was the logical response to the increasing global focus on developing electrified vehicles and their energy infrastructure. The new site includes the following resources related to hybrids, EVs, and related technology:

  • Standards
  • Technical papers
  • Professional events
  • Books
  • Research Reports
  • Training
  • A quarterly digital "magazine" covering the latest EV and HEV developments.
"This site is a valuable resource for mobility engineers seeking the most up-to-date information on standards, technology advances, product solutions, supplier news, vehicle development trends and insights from the most plugged-in experts in the electrified-vehicles field," Cariello noted.

He characterized the decision to launch the website and e-magazine as "a no-brainer," given the growing industry demand for high-quality, trusted technical information—SAE International's hallmark for more than 100 years.

The launch of the website builds on SAE International's ongoing activities in the vehicle-electrification arena, including the development of global standards. In 2010, SAE released J1772—the pioneering standard for plug-in hybrid and electric vehicle charging hardware. J1772 (J1772 - SAE Electric Vehicle and Plug in Hybrid Electric Vehicle Conductive Charge Coupler) has been widely hailed as critical to consumer acceptance of plug-in vehicles and the expansion of the charging infrastructure.

A key feature of is the new digital magazine that will initially appear quarterly. The first issue covered development of the 2011 Chevrolet Volt, the industry's first high-volume plug-in hybrid vehicle. The issue was conceived and written by Lindsay Brooke, a senior editor with SAE International's magazines group.

"Volt is in the vanguard of a new generation of electrified vehicles being developed by every global OEM to meet stringent emissions and fuel-efficiency regulations," Brooke explained. "SAE International's global engineering audience is keenly interested in the advanced technologies—batteries, power control, electric machines, systems integration, materials—being driven by these vehicle programs."

The Volt digital magazine is the result of Brooke's four years of reporting on the vehicle's development, including dozens of interviews with the GM and supplier engineers who brought the car to production despite many challenges.

"Visitors to can expect each digital magazine to feature detailed, informative coverage of the most technically interesting new hybrids and EVs," Brooke revealed. "Positive feedback regarding the Volt issue from readers confirms that we've created a product that mobility engineers find very useful to them in their jobs."

To subscribe to the new e-magazine, visit the vehicle electrification Web site and click on the cover of the magazine in the upper left corner.

CONTACT: Shawn Andreassi, Manager, Corporate Communications, SAE International, +1-724-772-8522, +1-724-612-4992,

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Monday, February 21, 2011

Stanford researchers develop new technology for cheaper, more efficient solar cells

The sun provides more than enough energy for all our needs, if only we could harness it cheaply and efficiently. Solar energy could provide a clean alternative to fossil fuels, but the high cost of solar cells has been a major barrier to their widespread use.

Stanford researchers have found that adding a single layer of organic molecules to a solar cell can increase its efficiency three-fold and could lead to cheaper, more efficient solar panels. Their results were published online in ACS Nano on Feb. 7.

Professor of chemical engineering Stacey Bent first became interested in a new kind of solar technology two years ago. These solar cells used tiny particles of semiconductors called "quantum dots." Quantum dot solar cells are cheaper to produce than traditional ones, as they can be made using simple chemical reactions. But despite their promise, they lagged well behind existing solar cells in efficiency.

"I wondered if we could use our knowledge of chemistry to improve their efficiency," Bent said. If she could do that, the reduced cost of these solar cells could lead to mass adoption of the technology.

Bent will discuss her research on Sunday, Feb. 20, at 8:30 a.m. Eastern, at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C.

In principle, quantum dot cells can reach much higher efficiency, Bent said, because of a fundamental limitation of traditional solar cells.

Solar cells work by using energy from the sun to excite electrons. The excited electrons jump from a lower energy level to a higher one, leaving behind a "hole" where the electron used to be. Solar cells use a semiconductor to pull an electron in one direction, and another material to pull the hole in the other direction. This flow of electron and hole in different directions leads to an electric current.

But it takes a certain minimum energy to fully separate the electron and the hole. The amount of energy required is specific to different materials and affects what color, or wavelength, of light the material best absorbs. Silicon is commonly used to make solar cells because the energy required to excite its electrons corresponds closely to the wavelength of visible light.

But solar cells made of a single material have a maximum efficiency of about 31 percent, a limitation of the fixed energy level they can absorb.

Quantum dot solar cells do not share this limitation and can in theory be far more efficient. The energy levels of electrons in quantum dot semiconductors depends on their size – the smaller the quantum dot, the larger the energy needed to excite electrons to the next level.

So quantum dots can be tuned to absorb a certain wavelength of light just by changing their size. And they can be used to build more complex solar cells that have more than one size of quantum dot, allowing them to absorb multiple wavelengths of light.

Because of these advantages, Bent and her students have been investigating ways to improve the efficiency of quantum dot solar cells, along with associate Professor Michael McGehee of the department of Materials Science and Engineering.

The researchers coated a titanium dioxide semiconductor in their quantum dot solar cell with a very thin single layer of organic molecules. These molecules were self-assembling, meaning that their interactions caused them to pack together in an ordered way. The quantum dots were present at the interface of this organic layer and the semiconductor. Bent's students tried several different organic molecules in an attempt to learn which ones would most increase the efficiency of the solar cells.

But she found that the exact molecule didn't matter – just having a single organic layer less than a nanometer thick was enough to triple the efficiency of the solar cells. "We were surprised, we thought it would be very sensitive to what we put down," said Bent.

But she said the result made sense in hindsight, and the researchers came up with a new model – it's the length of the molecule, and not its exact nature, that matters. Molecules that are too long don't allow the quantum dots to interact well with the semiconductor.

Bent's theory is that once the sun's energy creates an electron and a hole, the thin organic layer helps keep them apart, preventing them from recombining and being wasted. The group has yet to optimize the solar cells, and they have currently achieved an efficiency of, at most, 0.4 percent. But the group can tune several aspects of the cell, and once they do, the three-fold increase caused by the organic layer would be even more significant.

Bent said the cadmium sulfide quantum dots she is currently using are not ideal for solar cells, and the group will try different materials. She said she would also try other molecules for the organic layer, and could change the design of the solar cell to try to absorb more light and produce more electrical charge. Once Bent has found a way to increase the efficiency of quantum dot solar cells, she said she hopes their lower cost will lead to wider acceptance of solar energy.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Plug-in Electric Vehicle Sales Forecasts by State, Metropolitan Statistical Area, and Selected Utility Service Territories

Pike Research forecasts an annual plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) market in the United States of about 359,000 vehicles by 2017. Unfortunately, for many industry players who are working on setting up recharging station networks, developing product and production plans, and allocating precious marketing resources, this top-level forecast does not offer specific enough data. As government officials and utility managers plan for the arrival of grid-connected vehicles, they need to understand where those vehicles are going to be located and what the impact could be.

To understand where these vehicles will likely be sold, Pike Research created a detailed geographic forecast model using a variety of inputs including population and demographic trends, affinity towards electric vehicles, and automakers' intended availability of vehicles. As a result of these, Pike Research forecasts that while California and New York will be the largest states for PEV sales, the largest cities do not necessarily correlate to the most sales. In fact, New York City and California cities dominate the top markets for PEVs, while other large population centers like Dallas, Philadelphia, Houston, Miami, Atlanta, and Washington DC fall short of the top markets for plug-in electric vehicles. Another key question many ask, is what happens when all these vehicles plug in? In the case of Southern California Edison's service territory, which is expected to be the largest market for PEV sales over the next seven years, the maximum potential is a 498 MW load on the grid by 2017.

This Pike Research report provides data and forecasts for the plug-in electric vehicle market at the state and metropolitan statistical area levels. This report also includes forecasts for plug-in electric vehicle sales within selected electric utility service territories. The data includes sales forecasts from 2011 to 2017 at each geographic level, and analysis of major trends in the forecasts.

Key questions addressed:
  • Which states have the greatest affinity toward electric vehicle ownership?
  • Which cities' demographic characteristics will make them large markets for electric vehicles?
  • What is the size of the plug-in electric vehicle market over the next six years and how fast will the market grow?
  • Where will plug-in electric vehicle sales grow the fastest?
  • What will be the plug-in electric vehicle sales in your state?
  • How large will the market share of plug-in electric vehicles be in each state?
  • Which cities will see the largest number of plug-in electric vehicles in the next six years?
  • How many vehicles will electric utilities have to prepare for?
  • What is the potential grid impact of these vehicles to utilities?
Who needs this report?

  • Auto manufacturers
  • Vehicle aftermarket and service management
  • Auto suppliers
  • Electric vehicle charging equipment vendors
  • Utilities
  • Government agencies
  • Industry associations
  • Investor community
To order this report:Electric Vehicle Geographic Forecasts

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Monday, February 14, 2011

Cool energy roof shingles coming to US?

Soltech's cool thermal shingles
 ProGreen Properties, Inc. has announce that it has entered into a aggreement to possibly introduce SolTech's cool solar technology and products to the US housing market.

SolTech's solar energy technology is unique since representing new roof and/or wall cladding and a solar collector, whereby the south facing part of a roof and/or wall can become one huge thermal solar panel, placed under glass roof tiles and thus creating or maintaining an esthetically appealing look of the building. Because of the large size, massive amounts of energy can be generated, which substantially reduces the cost of energy for heating, as well as the cost of hot water. SolTech is now also, as an add on, developing a system that is able to produce electricity from the same thermal solar energy source when surplus energy is produced, as for example during the summer when heating is not needed. The efficiency of this dual use of the sun as an energy source in one system, is expected to be higher compared to other solar energy solutions, resulting in greater financial returns, as well as in improving the environment.

"We are very excited about this first step towards this new opportunity for ProGreen, as it could not only result in ProGreen implementing a new unique solar application to future real estate projects, but also open the door to possible creating an independent solar division of ProGreen, once the concept has been proven on our own properties," Says Jan Telander, CEO of ProGreen Properties, Inc.

ProGreen Properties, Inc. (ProGreen) (OTCBB-PGEI) is a young company (2009) based in Birmingham, Michigan. ProGreen is engaged in the business of acquiring, remodeling and upgrading residential real estate into more energy efficient, modern comfortable living spaces. These properties are then marketed as ProGreen Homes. ProGreen believes that Michigan offers some of the best investment opportunities in the presently distressed US property market.

For more information vist and
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The University of Maryland College Park Announces 631 KW Solar Project

More than 2,600 solar panels will be installed on a University of Maryland, College Park (UMD) building this summer, resulting in one of the largest rooftop solar power systems in Maryland.

“The use of solar energy – a clean energy source that produces no greenhouse gases – will move us another step closer to achieving our vision for a greener campus embodied in the university’s Strategic Plan.”

.UMD was selected as a Maryland Energy Administration Project Sunburst Initiative Partner and awarded a grant aimed at promoting the installation of renewable energy systems on public buildings in Maryland. As a result of a competitive bid process, Washington Gas Energy Services, Inc. (WGES) will finance the remainder of the project cost and UMD will purchase the electricity generated by the solar panels under a 20-year agreement with WGES.

By the second quarter of 2011, the solar power system will be installed and operating on the roof of UMD’s Severn building, a multi-purpose facility located less than a mile from the College Park campus. The 631 kilowatt system, which will be installed by Standard Solar Inc. of Rockville, Md. and owned and operated by WGES, will produce about 792 megawatt hours of electricity each year.

“The University is committed to addressing the significant challenges of this generation, including environmental sustainability, climate change, and renewable energy,” said Ann Wylie, Vice President of Administrative Affairs and Chair of the University Sustainability Council. “The use of solar energy – a clean energy source that produces no greenhouse gases – will move us another step closer to achieving our vision for a greener campus embodied in the university’s Strategic Plan.”

This solar project is the latest in a series of efforts the university has undertaken in an effort to achieve its goal to become “widely recognized as a national model for a Green University.” In 2007 UMD was one of 650 American colleges and universities that were signatories to the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment. This commitment provides a framework and support for the nation's colleges and universities to eventually become carbon neutral. As a signatory, the University of Maryland is reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from campus operations and moving toward the goal of carbon neutrality.

Electricity from the solar panels will reduce UMD’s carbon footprint by over 600 tons per year, the equivalent of eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from 64,000 gallons of gasoline per year, or nearly 1.3 million gallons over the life of the contract.

“WGES has a long history of introducing renewable energy solutions for our customers,” said Harry Warren, president of WGES of Herndon, Va. “Our efforts to help customers find environmentally attractive solutions for their energy needs are bolstered by Maryland programs and policies that encourage, and in fact rely on, the competitive market to invest in these clean energy technologies. The University of Maryland project will bring our rapidly growing portfolio of owned and operated solar power projects on the east coast to about 4 megawatts.”

“We were thrilled to be able to bring much needed clean, renewable energy to the University of Maryland, College Park through this Project Sunburst grant,” said Malcolm Woolf, Director of the Maryland Energy Administration. “By investing in renewable energy resources UMD is helping Maryland achieve its Renewable Portfolio Standard goal of acquiring 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2022.”

“As the region’s leading solar developer and installer, we look forward to our participation in this important project and contributing to UMD’s effort to become a model for what it means to be a Green University,” said Scott Wiater, president of Standard Solar.

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Rep. Slaughter Encourages Natcore Technology to Locate Facility in Kodak's Business Park

 Louise Slaughter
Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (NY-28) has announced that negotiations are under way to bring a New Jersey solar technology company to Kodak's Eastman Business Park, and with it the promise of more green jobs in Rochester.

Slaughter has been working with Natcore Technology Inc. whose technology would enable the manufacture of flexible solar cells that could reduce the cost of making solar panels and the time required to install solar arrays by more than 60%. Based in Red Bank, NJ, Natcore does not have a presence in upstate New York. But seeing that Eastman Business Park would be a perfect fit to meet Natcore's research, development, and manufacturing needs, Slaughter has joined Kodak in trying to establish a future production facility and Natcore's research lab in Rochester.

Eastman Business Park
 "I have been amazed by the solar technology being developed by Natcore because I see the potential it has to make solar energy more efficient and cleaner to produce," said Slaughter. "In Rochester, we are all familiar with the technological expertise and manufacturing knowhow on the Kodak campus. If we can pair their capabilities with the emerging technology being developed by Natcore, we can bring the green jobs of tomorrow to Rochester. I see Natcore and Kodak to be an ideal fit and I'm happy to do everything I can to bring these companies together."

On the heels of President Obama's call in his State of the Union Address to grow U.S. innovation, Slaughter also personally called on the Obama Administration and the U.S. Energy Department to work with Natcore so that it can establish a Rochester manufacturing center. In previous expansion initiatives, Natcore has formed a joint venture with companies in China but Slaughter is encouraging them to manufacture their flexible solar cells in the U.S. so that the technology created in America is manufactured in America.

Natcore President and CEO
 Chuck Provini
 "We are deeply committed to keeping our technology in our own country," says Natcore President and CEO Chuck Provini. "So far it's been difficult to accomplish that. Now Congresswoman Slaughter has injected a burst of energy on our behalf with the White House, the DOE and Kodak. We are deeply grateful for her vision and persistence. Although typically our business plan has us licensing our technology rather than producing the cells ourselves, a joint venture with Kodak might be an exception. Their roll-to-roll photo film production equipment could be easily adapted for our flexible solar cell technology." The details of a Kodak–Natcore undertaking are still to be worked out, according to Provini. At present, Natcore is neither manufacturing nor licensing its technology anywhere.

Kodak is a leader in chemical, thin film, and coating capabilities, all core competencies needed for the production of photovoltaic solar cells.

"No one knows more about manufacturing film products than Kodak," said Mike Alt, Director of Eastman Business Park. "Kodak has developed thin film technology that is directly applicable to the next generation of photovoltaic panels. At Eastman Business Park, we have the technical resources, development and pilot tools, and the manufacturing capacity to accelerate the commercialization of new technologies, such as Natcore's roll-to-roll solar cell process."

Natcore may also establish an R&D lab at Eastman Business Park where it would accelerate its development of tandem solar cells using Natcore's proprietary liquid phase technology. These super-efficient cells could yield twice the power output of today's most efficient solar cells.

Due to Slaughter's intervention, Department of Energy officials are meeting with Natcore to assess possible programs to help fund the development of a manufacturing operation at Eastman Business Park.

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Car Charging Group Completes Installation of Electric Vehicle Charging Stations at Florida's Aventura Mall, One of the Largest Shopping Centers in the United States

Car Charging Group Inc. a provider of electric vehicle (EV) charging services with the mission to own and build-out a nationwide network of EV charging stations, announced that it has completed the installation of charging stations at Aventura Mall, South Florida's largest super regional mall and one of the largest shopping centers in the United States. The charging stations are for public use by shoppers and are located in the Nordstrom and Bloomingdale's parking garages.

"Car Charging Group is helping prepare for the age of the mass market electric vehicle," said Michael D. Farkas, CEO of Car Charging Group. "The mainstreaming of electric cars is getting a boost from U.S. utilities pledging to increase their capacity to expand the use of plug-in electric vehicles. In addition, the Obama Administration has committed billions of dollars to the proposition that electric cars will become a meaningful segment of the U.S. auto market. The first customers for the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan LEAF are taking delivery now of the first EVs with numerous models in the works from automotive giants like Audi, Mercedes, Porsche, BMW, Ford, Toyota and Honda as well as small EV start-ups like Fisker and Tesla."

"We signed an agreement with Car Charging Group only three months ago and were impressed that the installation process was so effortless and quick. Within six days the installation was complete, and shoppers are now able to charge their EVs while spending time at one of their favorite destinations," said Oscar Pacheco, General Manager of Aventura Mall. "We're pleased with customer reaction and look forward to installing more stations as needed."

The stations are Level II, 240 volt ChargePoint® Networked Charging Stations for EVs which are manufactured by Coulomb Technologies. The 7.2 kW output delivers Level II (208/240 V @ 30 A) charging via the standard SAE J1772™ connector and fixed 18-foot cable. The 2 kW output delivers Level I (120 V @ 16 A) charging via a standard NEMA 5-20 receptacle protected behind a locking door. Both outputs can deliver energy simultaneously. The stations are networked so EV drivers can find vacant stations via Google Maps on a smart phone or receive a text message when the vehicle is fully charged.

Car Charging provides EV charging stations at no charge to property owners/managers while retaining ownership, thus allowing drivers access to convenient locations and landowner partners to realize a percentage of the charging revenue generated.

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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

AGI Teams with Raytheon and Remcom to Develop Wind Turbine/Radar Modeling Tool and WindTamer Corporation Announces the Installation of Its First Power on Demand Energy Storage and Power Management System

Analytical Graphics, Inc. (AGI), producer of software applications and development kits for integrated analysis of space, defense and intelligence systems, is teaming with prime contractor Raytheon Network Centric Systems (Marlboro, MA) to create a wind turbine/radar modeling tool to help determine whether the proposed placement of future wind farms will hinder the accuracy of certain radar systems, specifically those tracking airplanes and measuring weather conditions. State College, PA-based Remcom, an AGI business partner and expert in electromagnetic simulation, is also on the team. The system will be utilized by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Energy.

The large, rapidly moving (tip velocity up to 170 mph) blades of wind farm turbines return Doppler-shifted radar signals that mimic aircraft or even a stationary tornado. This Doppler interference results in degraded radar performance that could make aircraft or weather events nearly undetectable. The proposed new system includes AGI's commercial software platform, which models radars, aircraft and wind farm objects, along with terrain and environmental effects, in a time-dynamic, 3D environment. This modeling environment utilizes Remcom's commercial software for modeling detailed electromagnetic interactions. Raytheon will lead as prime integrator based on its legacy in the design, development and manufacture of radar systems.

"We are pleased that Raytheon has selected AGI's precision geometry engine to aid the important mission of allowing our wind farms and radar systems to coexist without hindering national security," says Peter Sardella, AGI vice president of Services.

WindTamer Corporation announced today that its first Power on Demand energy storage and power management system, designed to lower peak energy demand, is now installed and operational at Advanced Glass Industries. Advanced Glass Industries operates a 35,000 square-foot facility in Rochester, New York and is one of the world's largest suppliers of precision machined and molded optical glass blanks.

Together with WindTamer's mobile Renewable Energy Trailer developed for military applications, the commissioning of the first Power on Demand system extends WindTamer's reach into the rapidly developing energy storage and power management sector and also marks the Company's increasing utilization of solar energy in its mix of product offerings.

Power on Demand is a proprietary patent-pending system that is designed to utilize energy inputs from multiple sources together with a custom-designed battery storage bank to reduce grid demand and provide power when customer loads are high, thereby smoothing power demand on the grid and lowering electricity costs to the customer. The energy can be generated from renewable sources such as wind and solar and also from fuel cells and the grid itself, depending on the available energy resources at a given site. Each Power on Demand system is custom designed by WindTamer's engineers with options to blend in renewable energy inputs to best utilize the resources at the customer's location.

The system is designed to include a proprietary 'smart monitoring' technology developed by WindTamer that, among other things, monitors the power usage of the site in real-time and determines when to release energy from the battery system so as to optimize the battery life and maximize the value of the overall system to the customer.

The Power on Demand system designed for and operating at Advanced Glass Industries' manufacturing facility integrates one WindTamer 8.0GT wind turbine, 3Kw of solar energy, 182kWh of usable energy storage and more than 100kW of power distribution capability. The system architecture was developed to reduce peak demand by offsetting peak energy costs. Renewable energy sources provide supplemental power to building loads and battery-based energy storage was implemented to handle peak loads that require additional power.

Mark Matthews, WindTamer's Vice President of Sales and Marketing and one of the designers of the Power on Demand system, said that, "We are extremely pleased to have installed and commissioned our first Power on Demand system, and we are especially excited about the impact this will have on WindTamer's sales prospects going forward. By having this system operating at a customer facility we are now in a position to demonstrate in a real-world setting the superior return on investment Power on Demand can provide for both wind and solar installations."

Mr. Matthews added that, "Our engineering team has also done an excellent job of keeping the Power on Demand system modular, scalable and flexible so that we will be able to offer a solution that accepts renewable energy inputs based on the available renewable resources at a given location and then customize the system for optimal savings."

WindTamer's CEO William Schmitz said, "It would be difficult to overestimate the significance of the commissioning of this system for our Company and its shareholders. As I have previously stated, we see Power on Demand as a major driver of our growth in 2011 and beyond. This product expands our potential customer base exponentially because it dramatically reduces the payback period to the customer, which makes Power on Demand an extremely attractive value proposition to a much wider variety of large energy users who deal with peak usage pricing."

Mr. Schmitz added that he expects some of the larger Power on Demand systems in the sales pipeline will be priced in the mid-to-high six figures.

To learn more about how AGI's precision geometry engine can support wind farm/radar analysis, contact Peter Aves at AGI at 610.981.8000 or For windtamer visit

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Where’s the EVs

My trip to the Annual DC Car Show at the Washington Convention Center yesterday began with the customary trip down I-295 and ended at the cavernous venue. The show as usual was well put together. The management staff does a great job with this event.

You know a renewable energy blogger is only looking for one thing at a car show, Electric Vehicles. Bring’ em to me; give me the keys, man! I want to zip quietly and fast through town, I want to feel those regenerative brakes under my LL beans, I want to smell batteries, baby!! Okay maybe not the batteries.

Chevy Volt
To my surprise, the only test drive being offered while I was there was from a gasoline KIA. Maybe I came on the wrong day? Okay, there’s got to be some awesome EV displays inside, right? I mean the electric vehicle is finally here, in mass production, being marketed.

I entered through the large GM display on the top floor and headed for the volt. It was not readily noticeable, but it was in a prominent location. One volt up on a turntable, I could tell right away that today was not going to be the get behind the wheel and smell the leather as in all the other cars on the floor that had multiple models of the same car.

Going through the equally large Chrysler display area, no EVs here. Just large gas guzzlers, except for one GEMCARS in the corner with no one tending to it.

Sandwiched in between GM and CHRYSLER was FIAT. They had a few compacts that looked nice and roomy, except for the yellow 1970 500L. This car was so small; it looked like a circus clown vehicle.

At the other end of the second floor was FORD with an even larger area full of cars. There was a lot of buzz here, and there it was! Finally, an electric vehicle on the floor! I couldn’t wait to get in it! But wait, the door is locked, NOOOO! From the exterior, the FOCUS was a stout looking machine, roomy with large tires, and since I couldn’t get in it, I shook it! It felt solid and heavy, maybe because of the batteries! Next to it was the CMAX ENERGI, a plug-in hybrid.

While looking at the FOCUS, I had an opportunity to speak with Regions University law professor Bruce Cameron. We talked about range and speed of electrics compared to gasoline vehicles. He had a view that an electric could not hold its own against gas, explaining that he traveled over two hundred miles at a time on trips to the family vacation home, so although he wanted to give the electrics a try, the recharge time was not feasible for him. He also commented on diesels and the mpg they are able to achieve in Europe. I agreed that electrics today are being marketed to the commuter and told him about the Better Place program being explored in Israel.

Technology Superhighway
I worked my way downstairs to the “Technology Superhighway”, an area dedicated to new technologies such as EVs. I had visions of seeing bright lights gleaming on the freshly painted electrics, with hundreds of people waiting to sign up to purchase one of these machines. I found myself salivating! I worked this area last year both as a reporter and as a volunteer for the guys at EVA of DC. I had felt the great enthusiasm as all the new companies vied for market share in an all new world. As I came down the escalator, I saw the guys from EVA who had a good presence. These guys are hobbyists who work on their conversions and also own some factory EVs.

LI-ION Motors
I had the pleasure of meeting Frank Ziegler of LI-ION Motors Corp who eagerly explained the details of the company's offering, a sexy red hotrod that he claimed was currently the fastest EV in the world, a 0-60 in five seconds Supercar with 150 mile range, Lemans suspension and advanced batteries for $139,000.

Buckeye Bullet
  Regrettably, I did not see any of the same manufacturers exhibiting last year such as the THINK and BOLDER electric vehicles. The remainder of the cars were not all that interesting except for the electric dragster named the Buckeye Bullet.  The Buckeye Bullet was built and is maintained by a student-run team based at Ohio State University's Center for Automotive Research ( CAR ) which provides facility space and support. Ohio State has partnered with Venturini Motorsports to build the buckeye bullet and the company now plans to open a Columbus office to help supply parts.Oh yeah, I almost forgot to mention that the lighting was too dim to make the cars gleam. I continued my search for the elusive EV, thinking there have to be more electrics in here.

 The Smart Center of Tyson’s Corner had three EVs on display and a total of five ready for lease. The car has a top speed of 62 mph and an 85 mile range, said Wallace Rumbarger of Smart Center.

NISSAN’s display was a partially enclosed area with a large opening in the front with the LEAF situated so it was the first car you saw. There were not a lot of gas vehicles. You probably guessed that the only LEAF had locked doors, but it passed my shake test. Solid.

Nissan Leaf
It was disappointing that manufactures such as VW, HYUNDAI, MINI, and TOYOTA didn’t have their EV’s present, not even concepts. I walked away from this year's Show thinking, if EVs are to take off, there’s got to be a better effort to promote them. More cars, various colors, doors unlocked and open, and please-- test cars! I guess we will have to wait until next year to see if things improve. Meanwhile, we just need to get to the dealerships ourselves for those test drives.

Written by George Lopez

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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Wind Power Enjoying Strong Recovery in 2011 and Geothermal Power Market Propelling The US Market

According to RW Towt & Associates, a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, The U.S. Wind Power industry appears to be entering a phase of sustained recovery after a subdued 2010. Today, in only the second month of the new year, more wind parks are under construction than in all of 2010 – 5.6 GW of additional capacity – equivalent to about 3000 new wind turbines.

Electricity generated by wind is cost-competitive with natural gas now, according to Elizabeth Salerno, the director of industry data and analysis for the American Wind Energy Association.

"We expect that utilities will move to lock in more wind contracts, given the cost-competitive nature of wind in today's market," Ms. Salerno stated.

Wind energy stocks took an average 37% haircut in 2010, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. But, with a recovery well underway, bargain hunting investors have shown renewed interest in the sector – and the improved performance has exceeded expectations.

Exchange traded funds trading on the NYSE, such as PowerShares WilderHill Clean Energy Portfolio and PowerShares Global Wind Energy Portfolio are performing well. Even micro-cap wind companies such as Nacel Energy and Crownbutte Wind Power are showing new signs of life.  Traditional turbine suppliers like GE and carbon fibre maker  Zoltek continue to thrive.

Another recently release report gives an in-depth analysis of the geothermal industry in the Americas, covering all the countries currently engaged in geothermal power production in the region, namely the US, Mexico, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Guatemala. The research analyzes the upcoming trends and major challenges faced by utilities in current market scenario and key drivers of various IT applications in the utility industry. The report covers cumulative installed capacity and generation forecasts from the geothermal resources for all the above mentioned countries - up to 2020. It also provides a detailed analysis of existing and future geothermal potential, major projects and the regulatory framework of the mentioned countries. The report also includes an overview of the geothermal industry in the Americas, major deals and the competitive landscape. This research study provides information on technological analysis, key research and development trends, key industry metrics such as growth drivers and restraints, cost analysis and profiles of major international geothermal organizations. This report is built using data and information sourced from proprietary databases, primary and secondary research, interviews with industry participants and in-house analysis by a team of industry experts.

The Central America Geothermal Industry is Going to Tap into its Huge Geothermal Potential

Central America has huge potential for geothermal power generation. But only a few Central American countries, such as Mexico, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Guatemala, are currently harnessing geothermal power. With increasing emphasis on renewable sources for power generation around the world, and focus on gaining energy independence, many of these countries have started projects to develop geothermal resources. In addition, many other countries not producing geothermal power are investing in the development of geothermal resources.

The US Will Maintain its Leadership Position in the Global Market for Geothermal Power Generation

The US dominates the global geothermal market as well as the Americas market. The United States Department of Energy (DOE) is very actively promoting renewable and geothermal energy production in the country. Many policies and tax incentives are being devised to support geothermal developmental projects. The US government has also provided a stimulus funding of $338m for the development of geothermal projects under its Geothermal Development Program (GTP).

The US currently has many geothermal projects either under construction or in the planning phase. The capacity that is under development is more than the current total capacity of the entire Americas. It has more than 100 projects in the pipeline, which would add more than 7,000 MW of capacity.

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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

ANSI Welcomes NFPA as Diamond Sponsor for Electric Vehicles Workshop

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has announced that the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) will be a Diamond Sponsor of the ANSI Workshop: Standards and Codes for Electric Drive Vehicles taking place April 5–6, 2011, in Bethesda, Maryland.

The workshop, convened by ANSI on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Idaho National Laboratory, will explore current and needed standards, codes, and conformity assessment programs that will help drive the market for grid-connected electric vehicles, charging infrastructure, and support services.

"We are delighted to have NFPA as a sponsor of the ANSI workshop, particularly given their demonstrated leadership in promoting electric vehicle safety," commented Jim McCabe, ANSI senior director of consumer relations.

NFPA 70 ®, the National Electrical Code®, has been adopted for regulatory use throughout the United States. The 2011 edition includes updates to Article 625 Electric Vehicle Charging Systems on safe battery charging for electric vehicles that reduce the risk of explosion. With support from DOE, NFPA is also conducting nationwide training for firefighters and other first responders on how to deal with emergency response situations involving electric vehicles. NFPA and partner SAE International recently released a summary report of a U.S. National Electric Vehicle Safety Standards Summit convened last year on safety codes and standards issues relating to electric vehicles, built infrastructure, and emergency responders.

"NFPA is pleased to join with ANSI and DOE for this important workshop. Through the National Electrical Code and NFPA's EV Safety Training Program, NFPA continues to support efforts to advance the use of electric vehicles," said Christian Dubay, chief engineer at NFPA. "This event will bring further clarity on what codes and standards are needed to fill gaps and what modifications to existing standards are necessary to support the safe and rapid distribution of electric vehicles across the country."

For program and other information about the upcoming ANSI workshop, please see

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Good news from Suntech, more green jobs!

Suntech Power, the world's largest producer of solar panels, has engaged a second production shift at its new solar panel manufacturing facility in Goodyear, Arizona.

The state-of-the-art module manufacturing facility will now run for up to sixteen hours per day with 78 employees, up from eight hours and 40 employees when it commenced operations in October 2010. Suntech plans to ramp the facility to 50MW of annual production capacity by mid-2011, and targets to employ 150 people by the end of 2011.

"We've got a spirited, hard-working team in Goodyear that's eager to ramp up production," said Martin Guo, Suntech's Arizona Plant Manager. "Over the first three months, our new workers have really stepped-up and made a great deal of progress towards our cost and output targets. Now that we've found our stride, we're ready to take on another shift and increase output volumes to meet the great interest we're seeing for Suntech products made in Arizona."

The 117,000 square foot manufacturing facility features highly-automated manufacturing and product testing equipment and currently produces Suntech's 280W solar panels for commercial and utility-scale electricity generation. To meet growing demand throughout the Americas, Suntech plans to further expand its Arizona plant to exceed 100MW of annual production capacity within the next few years.

"Our Arizona manufacturing operations have solidified our market leadership position and put Suntech America on a solid foundation for long-term growth," said Steven Chan, President of Suntech America. "We're excited about increasing production output to meet the growing demands of our customers for Suntech's bankable solar panels."

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