First section of Oregon’s West Coast Electric Highway opens

The first section of the West Coast Electric Highway is now open in southern Oregon

Back in 2008, I wrote a story about how the state of Oregon had begun installing the first solar highway in the U.S. Now, once again, Oregon is leading the way in alternative energy transportation by opening the first section of its new West Coast Electric Highway.

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New Windows Generate Solar Power

EnergyGlass turns skyscrapers into electricity-generating solar farms

With the growing emphasis on alternative energy sources, rooftop solar arrays are springing up around the country. As useful and environmentally friendly as photovoltaic panels are, they don’t exactly blend in aesthetically. What’s more, they can sometimes be difficult to integrate with other rooftop equipment, and can sustain damage from exposure to the elements.

Florida-based SAF-GLAS, which creates disaster-resistant and security-related glass products, recently introduced EnergyGlass at a solar seminar at GlassBuild America.

For more on the amazing capabilities of this energy-efficient glass – including its ability to withstand natural disasters – see http://bit.ly/zRNd0i.

Apples to Apples: Solar and Wind less costly than Coal and Oil

The following is a guest blog by Tom Rooney of SPGsolar. 

CoalEveryone knows solar and wind power are more expensive than oil and coal.

Everyone except the National Academy of Sciences.

So they put it to the test: They found coal and oil and natural gas are artificially cheap because they impose health and financial and environmental costs that all of us pay for — above and beyond the price. Whether we know it or not.

Whether we like it or not.

Sounds kind of like a subsidy, doesn’t it? It’s exactly like a subsidy.

Apples to apples? Solar and wind are often less expensive than coal and oil.

The Academy estimates that coal and oil drain $130 billion in hidden costs out of our economy. Coal is subsidized to the tune of 3 to 13 cents per kilowatt hour of energy – about 25 to 100 percent of what you pay for power.

The report comes just in time — right after the biggest energy disaster in this country’s history.

And right before a campaign to reduce support for alternative energy which some say requires subsidies and is more expensive than fossil fuels.

Coal and oilPeople like Republican functionary Christopher Horner, whose new book proclaims that renewable energy will “bankrupt” this country and is a “declaration of war against America’s most reliable sources of energy—coal, oil, and natural gas.”

Or the usually reliable Wall Street Journal editorial writer Stephen Moore, who says renewable energy such as wind and solar is a plot between Big Government and Big Labor.

Before I became a card carrying member of this conspiracy and the CEO of a solar energy company, I studied for an MBA at the University of Chicago. There I was lucky enough, on many occasions, to meet the inspiration for many solar skeptics – America’s greatest economist Milton Friedman.

More than just a libertarian icon, Friedman just wanted to know what things cost. Not their price, their cost.

You do not need a Nobel Prize to see the freshman mistake of those who say wind and solar are too expensive to compete with coal and oil: They confuse price with cost.

But still we hear that coal and oil and natural gas are cheaper. Which is like the guy who throws garbage over his neighbor’s fence, then brags about free trash disposal. But really, someone else is paying for it.

The Academy said it was too complicated to estimate the largest hidden cost of energy — the price we pay in sending our best and bravest into harm’s way to guarantee our supply of foreign oil.

You want to put a price tag on that? Go ahead. Just make sure the number starts with a T. And if you throw your garbage over the fence, count that too.

—- Tom Rooney is the CEO of SPG Solar (SPGsolar.com).

New Generations – a better carbon neutral biofuel

Not all biofuels are alike.

new-generation-biofuels-logo-300x911New Generation Biofuels, a renewable fuels provider, offers commercial customers a biofuel with minimal CO2 emissions and more than 40% lower nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions than either diesel or biodiesel.

New Generations’ biofuel comes from a variety of feedstock – vegetable oil, animal fat and/or algae. With water and some proprietary ingredients added to the mix, it’s then blended. The result is a white milky substance with virtually no sulfur, which the company believes provides a lower cost, renewable, sustainable and fully biodegradable alternative energy source.

Originating in Italy, this amazing patent-pending technology has made its way to North America where, says New Generation Biofuels Chief Marketing Officer Phil Wallis,there are several perfect large markets.

“We go after the market with the (largest) need to reduce their emissions,” he said – power generation and the boiler markets. The latter includes institutions, hospitals, and schools.

Currently working with combustion turbines and boilers, Wallis says the biofuel combusts so well, one client – Cleaver Brooks, a leading manufacturer of commercial and industrial boilers – saw a 50% reduction of NOx.

new-generations-biofuels2-150x1111This biofuel has a small carbon footprint compared to alternative existing fuel oil or biodiesel, says Wallis. “Many of the alternatives out there – wind, solar, etc. – require equipment, which comes at a cost.”  No extra equipment is necessary to make the switch to New Generations’ biofuel, Wallis said.

All that’s required is to clean the tank, tune the boiler to this kind of fuel mix (which takes about 1½ hours to do), then put the white liquid in.

“it’s as easy as changing your light bulbs.” Wallis said. This low cost alternative is “a low-hanging fruit for boilers,” he said.

A Solar-Wind Turbine?

Bluenergy's Solar Wind Turbine combines 2 awesome technologies

Bluenergy's Solar Wind Turbine combines 2 awesome technologies

Put two great alternative energy technologies into one and what do you get?

Bluenergy, a Santa Fe, New Mexico start-up, has come up with a hybrid vertical axis wind turbine that’s covered with solar cells. Based on sailing engineering, the wind rotor is rotated by two spiral-formed vanes. The sun and wind produce electricity as one element.

Bluenergy Solarwind’s 5 kw double-helix design is touted to perform at wind speeds from as low as 4 mph up to 90 mph. These amazing wind turbines also  profess dual energy capture; low maintenance; and an all-important silent, safe operation for birds, humans and bats.

Standing at 18′ high by 6′ wide, these blue hued photovoltaic cells have an aesthetic appeal as well. System installation costs are relatively low. At 7 per watt, the SolarWind turbine is competitive with traditional solar and wind turbine alternatives.

When the wind blows, the solar cells are cooled by the device’s rotation, which is said to help create maximum electricity generation. This privately held company is looking for individual investors willing to pony up at least $50,000.

San Francisco To Ride the Wave of Wave Energy

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom announced the city has applied for a federak permit to develop wave power off the City by the Bay’s coastline.

When fully operational, it’s anticipated this alternative energy project would generate anywhere from 10 to 30 megawatts of energy, with a potential to go up to 100 megawatts.

San Francisco will join the ranks of successful wave-power projects like that off the northern coast of Spain.( see post ” Wave Energy – The Future is Here” Oct. 25 & 27, 2008)

Even inland waterways are vying to take advantage of this effective power generation system (see post “Renewable Energy on the Mississippi”, Dec. 17, 2008). 

Newsom says when complete, this project would employ “upwards of 100 jobs” in the San Francisco area.

For additional details and background, see http://tinyurl.com/dkfnot.

Human Energy Powers Japanese Subway Station

With the vast U.S. subway systems on the East Coast, this could be an excellent energy-saving solution metropolitan transportation authorities should explore.

 

With human foot traffic the most easily available energy, this new power source has been installed in the flooring in what’s commonly believed to be the busiest subway station in the world.
Energy Generating Floor System demonstrated at Tokyo Station

Energy Generating Floor System demonstrated at Tokyo Station

In the latest drive to harness alternative energy, the East Japan Railway Company (JR East) has installed a revolutionary new piezoelectric energy generating flooring in their Tokyo subway station.JR East recently converted the floor covering from rubber to stone tiles. The total floor space utilized for this power-generating system now encompasses approximately 25 square meters. The company estimates generating around 1,400 kilowatts per day from the system, enough energy to power all the station’s systems.This system will collect the kinetic energy generated by subway travelers entering the turnstile and will power ticket gates and electric displays.