Jul 282014

Responding to Climate Change
What's Really Happening In Antarctica?
Daily Caller
Environmentalists and some climate scientists are now attributing much of Antarctica's rapidly growing sea ice coverage to a processing error in the satellite data. The massive growth of Antarctica's ice sheets has confounded scientists for years now
Is Antarctica's ice cover really increasing?Responding to Climate Change
Antarctica's point of no returnBangkok Post

all 6 news articles »

antarctica – read more

Jul 282014

C Class PHEV

Originally posted on GAS2

Thanks to Autocar, we now have more details about the upcoming Mercedes C Class plug-in hybrid. Previously, the conventional wisdom was a six-cylinder engine would be the powerplant of choice, but now it appears a turbocharged 2.0 liter four-cylinder engine making 208 hp will be used. An electric motor that is part of the package will add an additional 67 horsepower, providing an electric-only range should be 30 miles or more.

The PHEV Mercedes C Class is intended primarily for the North American and Chinese markets, and will be offered in sedan configuration only. One source at Mercedes says:

“It will be an expensive car. More expensive than a C400 petrol, probably.”

The only clue to the car’s PHEV nature is a small flap in the rear bumper that provides access to the recharging plug. Internally, a louver behind the front grille can be closed during electric only operation to improve aerodynamic efficiency.

It will be interesting to see what the fuel economy ratings for the C Class PHEV will be when it comes stateside. It will join the Mercedes S 500 HYBRID, another plug-in sedan paired with a turbodiesel engine and good for a supposed 78 MPG. You don’t even need the hybrid system to get an efficient Mercedes though, as the German brand recently proved with an over 1,200 mile trek from Northern Africa to the U.K. This luxury brand is making a big play for the green car market, and one has to wonder what their next move might be.

Mercedes C Class Plug In Hybrid Details Emerge was originally published on CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 50,000 other subscribers: Google+ | Email | Facebook | RSS | Twitter.


Jul 272014

California is experiencing the worst drought in its history. So when state lawmakers recently killed a bill that would have banned the practice of hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, environmentalists cried foul. These “fractivists” claim the …
fracking wastewater – read more

Jul 272014

US anthrax probe reveals new bird flu mishap, widespread safety lapses
(Reuters) – Federal health officials on Friday disclosed a new safety breach at a high-security U.S. government laboratory involving dangerous avian flu, a lapse that came to light as they investigated the potential exposure of researchers to live
CDC Closes Labs After Anthrax, Bird Flu, Smallpox, and Who Knows What Else Bustle
Anthrax, Bird Flu Safety Breaches Shut Down CDC LabsBloomberg
US lab mistakenly mixes a common flu strain with a deadly bird fluTimes of India
KTLA -Telegraph.co.uk
all 472 news articles »

avian flu – read more

Jul 272014

Originally published on RenewEconomy

A consortium of energy groups look to create “mini electricity” system relying on local renewable energy production and storage.



The search has begun for a suitable town to become Australia’s first “zero net energy town” – where electricity is generated locally from renewable sources, and stored and distributed on a localised mini grid.

The concept of zero net energy towns (ZNET) – where local communities generator enough of their electricity needs – and sometimes much more – is becoming common in Europe and elsewhere.

The Bavarian town of Wildpoldsried is often cited as a model of what can be achieved. It produces 460% of its own energy needs from a mixture of bio-gas, wood, solar, wind and hydro generation. A village in India achieved something similar this week.

Now, a consortium of green energy, community, and academic groups, with the support of local politicians and the NSW government – is seeking to replicate this model in Australia.

Project director Adam Blakester, from Starfish Initiatives, says the consortium of groups will create a blueprint and a business case for the concept. And find the right town to put the idea into practice.

“The ZNET idea is to create a distributed ‘mini’ electricity and energy system for a rural town in the New England region of NSW, utilising the cutting edge of energy network technologies and solutions,” Blakester.

”The model utilises local renewable energy resources, energy management and storage technologies. Local involvement is key and is woven throughout all aspects of energy supply and usage as well for investment, governance, employment and financial returns.

“The potential value of this model for Australia is quite significant, particularly given how abundant its renewable energy resources are and how distributed our energy needs are.”

The concept is now as outlandish as it may seem. Apart from the fact that hundreds of rural and regional communities have done the same, network operators in Australia already admit it makes increasing sense on economic reasons.

Ron Stobbe, the head of SA Power Networks, said in April that rural communities – including major towns – could soon look after their own generation needs. He said it could be inevitable that all forms of centralised generation and transmission will be made redundant over time.

Stobbe’s prediction that rural communities could gcreate their own micro-grids – and perhaps have just a small connection to the main networks – follows similar remarks by Ian McLeod, the CEO of Queensland distributor Ergon Energy. Regional operators in Queensland and Western Australia are looking to “downsize” their network assets in favour of localized generation and micro-grids. In effect, they are looking to ditch their poles and wires.

The ZNET project comprisesthe Institute for Rural Futures at the University of New England; the Office of Adam Marshall, Member for Northern Tablelands; the Regional Clean Energy Program of NSW Office of Environment & Heritage; NSW Trade & Investment. Most of the member organisations have been working on the initiative for well over one year now.

“Zero Net Energy Town has the potential to create a new model of electricity and energy infrastructure for rural and regional Australia,” added Dr Judith McNeill, Senior Research Fellow with the Institute for Rural Futures.

“This model may create much-needed financial and economic benefits by transforming what is currently a significant economic leakage and cost area into being a new industry and area of employment and income.”

The ZNET project comprises the Institute for Rural Futures at the University of New England; the Office of Adam Marshall, Member for Northern Tablelands; the Regional Clean Energy Program of NSW Office of Environment & Heritage; NSW Trade & Investment. Most of the member organisations have been working on the initiative for well over one year now.

The immediate priorities for the ZNET initiative are to seek tenders for the blueprint and business case plus the selection of the town for the pilot. Announcements regarding each of these matters will be made over the coming few months. The project will be completed by June 2015.

Australia’s First Zero Net Energy Town Could Be In NSW was originally published on CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 50,000 other subscribers: Google+ | Email | Facebook | RSS | Twitter.


Jul 262014
BP oil spill dispersants still in environment
Pensacola News Journal
A common ingredient in human laxatives and in the controversial dispersants that was used to break down oil from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill is still being found in tar balls four years later along Gulf Coast beaches including Perdido Key. This
Katrina and BP oil spill on researcher's list of top five 'government failures The Times-Picayune
Address flood insurance and the environment with RESTORE Act fundingal.com

all 3 news articles »

oil spill – read more

Jul 262014

Originally published on RenewEconomy
By Sophie Vorrath

Plans to replace up to 70 per cent of the diesel-powered electricity generation on Australia’s Lord Howe Island with hybrid renewables generating capacity and storage have received financial backing from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

The $ 11.6 million project, which commenced last week, will add a combined 1MW of mixed renewable energy generating capacity to the NSW island’s current diesel system, using a combination of 450kW of solar PV, 550kW of wind and a battery storage of around 400kW, along with stabilisation and demand response technology.

ARENA announced on Thursday it would co-finance the ambitious project, which was first mooted a decade ago, providing $ 4.5 million towards its cost.

“Lord Howe Island is 600km off the east coast of Australia and, like other remote off-grid communities across the country, is heavily reliant on diesel generators that are costly to run and subject to volatile fuel prices,” said ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht.

Frischknecht said the project would transform the energy generation profile of the World Heritage site, which is home to a permanent Island community as well as being an iconic Australian tourist destination.Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 10.56.05 AM

He also noted that the project would help demonstrate the cost and reliability of deploying a high penetration renewable hybrid system in a remote location.

NSW environment minister Rob Stokes, who appears to be walking the talk on renewable energy for his state, added his support to the project, describing it was another fantastic example of being at the forefront of efficient and effective energy solutions that deliver positive benefits for the environment.

“The NSW Government sees a very clear and certain future for the roll out of collaborative renewable energy projects such as this,” the Liberal member for Pittwater said, in a clear departure from the party script. “I congratulate both ARENA and the Lord Howe Island Board for their vision and commitment to utilising the natural resources they have in abundance, to provide their community with reliable clean energy.”

Interestingly, the Lord Howe Island Board has also recently called for expressions of interest from island leaseholders who are considering installing private, grid-connected rooftop solar systems (up to 3kW) before the end of the year.

The Board is offering to allocate a combined total of 20kW of solar PV generation capacity to suitable leaseholders, enabling them to apply and obtain development consent to connect their panels to the Island’s electricity network.

The EOI offer notes that interested leaseholders don’t need to have purchased a system, or selected a supplier or decided on a system to respond to the offer. “By responding they will commit to pursue the installation of Private Grid Connected Solar Panels to a maximum size of 3kw,” the offer says.

Lord Howe Island Aims For 70% Renewables & Storage was originally published on CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 50,000 other subscribers: Google+ | Email | Facebook | RSS | Twitter.


Jul 262014
Company fined for oil spill from vessel sinking
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) – The Washington Department of Ecology is fining a seafood company more than $ 112,000 for an oil spill caused by the accidental sinking of its vessel, the Clam Digger, in July 2013 near Anacortes. Authorities have determined …
$ 112K penalty possible for 2013 Anacortes oil spillSanJuanIslander.com

all 5 news articles »

oil spill – read more

Jul 252014

Take it as a good sign there is enough segmentation in the solar energy market that we can distinguish easily between ground- and building-mounted types and analyze data. Demand for the ground-mounted variety has been greater for most fiscal quarters since Q1 2012, according to data adapted from North America PV Markets.


One driver of this extra demand is the growth of utility solar projects and ones that employ parking structures for siting PV panels. These projects are considered ground mounted, which is reasonable because carports are not buildings. There is an advantage to using carports because they already exist, meaning no new construction is necessary to support PV panels, and they have their own space, so no new land is needed for the solar projects.

The amount of parking space potentially available may be tremendous, “It was estimated by some energy analysts that there may be over five billion acres of usable parking lots available for solar installations.”

Open land is available in areas away from people, like the areas in parts of deserts, but there are costs to transporting materials to remote locations. Also, environmental assessments need to be conducted to ensure that local flora and fauna will not be damaged by construction. Disruption of their natural lives may also result by the presence of solar power projects, so that potential must be considered as well.

It is only natural that people living near new technology installations might have some concerns, but the chemicals in PV panels are not dangerous. Even in the very unlikely event of a fire there still would probably be not any danger due to chemical emissions:

However, researchers have concluded that the potential for emissions derived from PV components during typical fires is limited given the relatively short-duration of most fires and the high melting point (>1000 degrees Celsius) of PV materials compared to the roof level temperatures typically observed during residential fires (800-900 degrees Celsius). In the rare instance where a solar panel might be subject to higher temperatures, the silicon and other chemicals that comprise the solar panel would likely bind to the glass that covers the PV cells and be retained there.

Another advantage in favor of ground-mounted solar  is that these carports can be located near many people who see them and so functional PV systems get more public exposure than when they are located remotely. For example, the Cincinnati Zoo and FedExField, a football stadium used by the Washington Redskins, have parking lots with solar carport installations.

In 2012, NPD Solar Buzz reported that there were 450 solar carports and canopies in the  US.

Ground-mounted Solar Demand Surpassing Bulding-mounted in US Market was originally published on CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 50,000 other subscribers: Google+ | Email | Facebook | RSS | Twitter.