• Biggest Energy Saving Project in Uncertain Territory

    February 04 2009 / by amisampat
    Category: Environment

    By Ami Sampat240_energy_plant_2_full.jpg

    In his last days of office, Bush and his administration proposed a lighting efficiency policy which would help save energy and money. The Obama administration must now look over the proposal and issue the finals standards by the end of June. The proposal outlines the covering of florescent tube lamps and cone-shaped reflector lamps which are abundant in offices and homes. This would be the largest energy saving project in history of the U.S.

    If followed through, by the year 2042, the savings would be drastic: 9.6 quadrillion BTUs of energy, $39.7 billion spent on energy, and 509 million metric tons of CO2. While these figures look promising, the proposal would cause more money and energy lost than saved.

    High savings would lead to net additional savings of 6.2 quadrillion BTUs in energy, $25.6 billion spent on energy, and 290 million metric tons of CO2. That is a drastic amount of energy and not to mention, consumers' money.

    The administration is allowed to add a new rule which will help broaden the outcomes of the proposal. The lighting standard is just one of the twenty five energy related proposals the Obama administration must complete in the next four (or eight) years.

    The Obama administration must now look over the proposal and issue the finals standards by the end of June. The administration is allowed to add a new rule which will help broaden the outcomes of the proposal. The lighting standard is just one of the twenty five energy related proposals the Obama administration must complete in the next four (or possibly eight) years.

    Despite being given a faulty proposal, Obama has high hopes to reduce the energy use in this country. He is devoted to lowering the electricity use by 15% by the year 2020.

    Obama Administration's Vision of a Smarter Grid

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  • Is India's electric vehicle maker Reva plotting low end disruptive path to future?

    February 04 2009 / by Garry Golden
    Category: Transportation

    future of electric

    Do you want to be the Toyota or GM of the 21st century?

    Don't worry about how you 'fuel' the car, rethink how you build cars.

    Forget about trying to build an electric propulsion SUV.  Start small. Build electric battery scooters and tiny (crappy) cars.  Then move up the performance ladder with larger cars that integrate fuel cells and capacitors. 

    Don't try to make money selling new cars. Focus on software enhanced driving experiences, and mobility services as your real revenue stream. 

    'Manufacturing Footprint' is Everything
    For months, we have argued that the real revolution is 'how you build the car, not how you fuel it'.  We have made a strong case that the driving force of change towards electric vehicles (powered by a combination of batteries, fuel cells and capacitors) is the desire for a lower manufacturing platform.

    While Detroit and Japan struggle to manage their manufacturing footprint of combustion engine factories, Indian and Chinese companies sense an opportunity to leap frog into a lower cost growth platform of modular components around wheel based electric motors, drive by wire, and next generation energy storage.

    India's Auto Industry: Low End Path to the Future
    India-based electric vehicle maker Reva might be plotting a classic 'low end disruptive' path to growth by expanding its production quantities of its tiny electric platform. BusinessGreen.com is reporting that Reva plans to invest in a new plant with a capacity of 30,000 G-Wiz electric car units a year.

    Yes this is a tiny number compared to total global vehicle production, but how do you put a value on the competitive advantage of building non-combustion engine vehicles.  Remember when US manufacturers ridiculed Asia-produced consumer electronics?  Who's your E-Daddy today?

    Related posts on The Future of the Auto Industry 

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  • 3M forms Renewable Energy Divison to evolve cleantech materials for energy generation and management

    February 03 2009 / by Garry Golden
    Category: Energy

    Green 3MThe case for investing in a 'New Energy Economy' was just validated by one of the world's leading material solutions companies.

    3M has announced the formal creation of its new Renewable Energy Division that will include two divisions dedicated to Energy Generation & Energy Management.

    The Energy Generation Division will develop materials for solar, wind, geothermal and biofuel solutions such as films, tapes, coatings, encapsulants, sealants and adhesives to reduce costs and improve performance.

    The Energy Management Division will focus on thermal efficiences (e.g. film efficiencies), membranes for energy storage devices (e.g. fuel cells, batteries) and other applications for the Automotive, Commercial Building and Residential market segments.

    New Energy Economy depends on Advanced Nanostructured Materials
    This is big news for the cleantech sector.  Energy is about interactions between light, molecules, metals, and heat.  The only way to build a 'green' economy is to advance materials that make these interactions cleaner and lower cost.

    3M has the resources to fundamentally change the performance-price points of cleantech materials.  And it is a corporate stamp of approval on the idea that we must begin to move beyond extracting ancient stored energy (coal, oil and natural gas) and shift towards producing and storing energy using renewable resources that make clean electrons and clean molecules.


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  • [Video] The Takeaway looks inside algae bioeenergy startup Bionavitas

    February 03 2009 / by Garry Golden
    Category: Energy

    Algae bioenergy is based on a powerful idea that is still just off the radar of mainstream conversations on the future of energy.  We can 'grow energy' by tapping 'carbon eating' algae that create usable forms of hydrocarbons for fuel or biomaterials.

    The idea seems strange and futuristic, but it actually describes our past.  We already tap the power of bioenergy everyday. Coal is ancient plant life, and oil is (likely) ancient microbes that lived in shallow oceans.  Both plants and microbes fuse hydrogen and carbon bonds using the power of sunlight. But algae is a more efficient in that conversion and results in a higher hydrogen to carbon ratio. That means a cleaner burning fuel!

    Everytime you turn on the light (via coal power plant) or drive a car you are capturing the energy released from carbon-hydrogen bonds form by ancient biology.  Now energy visionaries are looking at how we can tap the same processes today to 'grow energy' without relying on food crops like corn or soy.

    This week The Takeaway has been running Power Trip a series of programs on the future of energy. Earlier this week, Host John Hockenberry visited algae biofuels company Bionavitas in Seattle, WA.

    Related posts on The Energy Roadmap.com

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  • Michigan based ECD Ovonics signs another partnership for rooftop thin film solar

    February 02 2009 / by Garry Golden
    Category: Energy


    Thin film solar is a low cost alternative to traditional glass based solar panels.  'Thin film' photovoltaic cells can be inkjet printed onto plastic sheets via a 'roll to roll' machine.  These long plastic sheets can then be integrated into building materials like commercial and residential rooftops.

    Startups are now scaling up production volumes, but the first phase of commercial growth for thin film depends on strategic partnerships with rooftop materials and construction companies.

    ECD Ovonics transforming 'Rust Belt' to a 'Green Belt'
    Thin-film solar is a new energy technology platform that can be produced at low cost in many regions around the world.   American energy visionaries imagine transforming the industrial Midwest 'Rust Belt' into a manufacturing hub for new cleantech materials.

    Now Michigan-based ECD Ovonics has signed a contract with Carlisle Construction Materials to provide its Uni-Solar thin film for use in commercial roofing systems.  The agreement is good news for Michigan economic developers.  ECD is the world's leading producer of thin film solar, and has had previous partnerships with Italian steel and metal materials company Marcegaglia which expects to introduce the low cost, durable thin film solar metal roofing products to the market in 2010.

    Related posts on The Energy Roadmap.com


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  • Novozymes - Sinopec partnership brings next generation cellulosic biofuels to China

    February 02 2009 / by Garry Golden
    Category: Energy

    wasteDenmark-based bio-solutions firm Novozymes is trying to put an end to the biofuels debate of  ‘food versus fuel’ and the politics of corn derived ethanol.

    Its recipe for the future of 'next generation biofuels' is: Organic waste plus bio-enzymes = cellulosic ethanol (bioethanol)

    China's Step Towards Waste to Energy
    Novozymes is now partnering with China's Sinopec and COFCO (China National Cereals, Oil & Foodstuff Corporation) to develop bioethanol from agricultural and food waste.

    The partnership could help to scale next generation biofuels production in China as its market continues to evolve as the world's fastest growing market for automobiles and oil.

    Novozyme's bioethanol is expected to be able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 90% compared to oil-based fuels.

    Steen Riisgaard, CEO at Novozymes, says: "With this partnership Novozymes has once again demonstrated its position as the leader in developing enzymes able to convert waste to fuel. This puts us one step closer to being able to produce commercial quantities of bioethanol from agricultural waste. Second-generation bioethanol production in China holds vast potential for Novozymes as the technology leader, and we expect to be the first company with enzymes ready for large-scale production by 2010."

    Related posts on The Energy Roadmap.com

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  • Are micro fuel cells coming out of Hype Cycle? Toshiba's Micro Fuel Cell Battery Recharger

    January 30 2009 / by Garry Golden
    Category: Energy

    methanol fuel cell

    Most new technology platforms must walk up the stages of the 'Hype Cycle', and confront our tendency to overestimate short-term change, but underestimate the long term potential.

    Fuel cells are this decade's poster child for failing to meet expectations of the Hype Cycle. But there are positive signs of progress.

    PC World is reporting that Toshiba plans to release its first commercial version of a Direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC) battery recharger by the end of the first business quarter.

    Micro Fuel cells help you unplug
    Micro power applications are widely considered to be the first market application for fuel cells.  Dozens of startups and incumbent energy companies are developing micro methanol fuel cells as portable power solutions that help us 'unplug everything'.

    Rather than carry around a charger+cord, you could carry a small fuel cell to recharge.  Of course the idea of a fuel cell battery recharger is still a strange concept to consumers, and could remain an early adopter niche product.  

    The inevitable step for micro fuel cells is to replace batteries entirely.  To arrive at this future, hardware makers must integrate MFCs into products, and consumers must be able to buy small fuel cartridges (e.g. liquid methanol, solid hydrogen) on every retail shelf.  Until that day, the 'recharger' concept is the industry's best option.

    Batteries & Fuel cells are like Peanut Butter and Jelly, not Oil and Water


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  • USDA, DOE Announce $25 Million for Advanced Bioenergy Research (i.e. Beyond Corn)

    January 30 2009 / by Garry Golden
    Category: Energy

    next generation biofuels

    There is an echo chamber of cynicism around the topic of corn ethanol.  Unless you are a corn farmer or part of the ethanol lobby, evergyone agrees that this is not a sustainable path. 

    So the world is moving forward. The conversation is now focused on next generation bioenergy solutions that avoid the problems of 'crop' based biofuels.

    The US government has placed a ceiling on future growth for corn derived fuels, and now the Obama administration has announced up to $25 million in funding for research and development of technologies and processes to produce biofuels, bioenergy, and high-value biobased products.

    The money will fund projects related to: Feedstocks development; Biofuels and biobased products development; and Biofuels development analysis.

    What is happening?  'Biology' is coming of age as a driver of industrial and energy applications.

    Why 'Bioenergy' has more to do with Bio-Industrialism than Farming


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  • University of Nevada completes algae biofuels project using cold weather, salt tolerant species

    January 29 2009 / by Garry Golden
    Category: Environment

    algae pond flickrResearchers at the University of Nevada, Reno have completed their first demonstration-scale project using an open pound algae to biofuel system.

    Unlike most algae biofuels startups which use closed 'bioreactors', the Nevada-Enegis LLC project (not shown) is designed for open ponds that use a species of algae tolerant to cold-weather and salt basin environments.

    The team announced the successful harvest of two 5,000-gallon ponds, and will continue to expand their test selection of algae species and engineering to improve performance.

    Open pond systems are generally seen as a lower cost, low maintenance production platform, but have their own set of problems related to optimizing growing conditions.

    Related posts on the future of bioenergy on The Energy Roadmap.com


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  • [Video] Zeobond E Crete promises less carbon emissions from cement

    January 29 2009 / by Garry Golden
    Category: Environment

    ZeobondEco-Energy blogs seem to love stories about cleaner ways of making cement - which accounts for at least 5% global carbon dioxide emissions.  Last year the viral story was a novel process developed by MIT students, and now Australian-based Zeobond is gaining a lot of attention.  The company uses industry waste materials to reduce the environmental impact of cement material compounds. 



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