Monday, December 28, 2009

World’s Largest Solar Energy Office Building Opens in China.

A vast fan-shaped compound in China has officially taken the title of “largest solar-powered office building in the world“. Located in Dezhou in the Shangdong Province in northwest China, the 75,000 square meter structure is a multi-use building and features exhibition centers, scientific research facilities, meeting and training facilities, and a hotel – all of which run on solar power.

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

India approves new policy to promote biofuels. The Economic Times:

NEW DELHI: In a bid to promote cost-effective clean energy sources, India on Thursday approved a new policy that calls for blending at least 20 percent biofuels in diesel and petrol by 2017, apart from extending incentives to encourage its production in wastelands.

"The policy endeavours to facilitate and bring about optimal development and utilisation of indigenous biomass feedstock for production of biofuels," an official statement said, after a meeting of the cabinet presided over by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

"The Indian approach to biofuels is based solely on non-food feedstock to be raised on degraded or wastelands that are not suited to agriculture, thus avoiding a possible conflict of fuel versus food security," the statement added.

The salient features of the National Policy on Bio-fuels include:
-Setting up of a National Biofuel Coordination Committee under prime minister for broader policy perspective
-Setting up of a Biofuel Steering Committee under the cabinet secretary to oversee implementation of policy
-Bio-diesel production to be encouraged from non-edible oil seeds in waste, degraded, marginal land
-An indicative target of 20 percent blending of bio-fuels in diesel and ethanol by 2017
-Minimum support price to be announced for farmers producing non-edible oil seeds
-Financial incentives for second generation biofuels, including a national biofuel fund

The ministry of new and renewable energy will be the co-ordinating ministry for biofuel development and utilisation, with scientific agencies being assigned specific roles.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Cyanobacteria: the new biofuels platform?

Cyanabacteria — also known as blue-green algae though not hailing from the same biological neighborhood — may well be the hottest bioenergy platform in 2010.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Science news highlights of 2009. BBC News

It was the year we learned of a spectacular smash-up in space, and scientists working on the world's biggest physics experiment delighted at collisions of an entirely different sort.

There were shockwaves, too, in Copenhagen, as the summit failed to reach a consensus on tackling climate change, instead merely noting a deal struck by major powers including the US and China.

The BBC's science reporter Paul Rincon looks back at the twists and turns of a year in science and the environment.

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Ultra-Lightweight, Bendable Batteries. AlternativeEnergy

December 23rd, 2009
Stanford scientists are doing the unbelievable. Who could have thought of ordinary papers as batteries and super capacitors? But Stanford scientists are harnessing nanotechnology to quickly create ultra-lightweight, bendable batteries and super capacitors utilizing everyday paper. They have prepared ink with of carbon nanotubes and silver nanowires. Silver nanowires are highly conductive storage device. They are coating the sheet of papers with ink of carbon nanotubes and silver nanowires.

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Climate summit: Where's the beef? BBC News

By Paul Reynolds
World affairs correspondent, BBC News website

He came. He did a quick deal. He left.

That was how US President Barack Obama intervened in the global warming conference in Copenhagen and whether he saved it from total deadlock or condemned it to issuing a powerless piece of paper depends on your point of view.

The result was a political commitment not a treaty.

And it was worked out by the United States with China and a handful of others. The rest of the conference simply "took note of it", most with resignation, many with anger,

The words sound fine enough. "We emphasise our strong political will to urgently combat climate change."

And: "We shall, recognising the scientific view that the increase in global temperature should be below 2C, on the basis of equity and in the context of sustainable development, enhance our long-term co-operative action to combat climate change."

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

15 Airlines Take Groundbreaking Step in Alternative Fuel Deployment... AirTransportAssociation (ATA):


WASHINGTON, Dec. 15, 2009 – The Air Transport Association of America, Inc. (ATA), the industry trade organization for the leading U.S. airlines, announced today that a core group of airlines has signed groundbreaking memoranda of understanding (MOUs) with two different producers – AltAir Fuels LLC and Rentech, Inc. – for a future supply of alternative aviation fuel.

Twelve airlines from the United States, Canada, Germany and Mexico – Air Canada, American Airlines, Atlas Air, Delta Air Lines, FedEx Express, JetBlue Airways, Lufthansa German Airlines, Mexicana Airlines, Polar Air Cargo, United Airlines, UPS Airlines and US Airways – have signed MOUs with both producers. In addition, Seattle-based Alaska Airlines and Honolulu-based Hawaiian Airlines signed the MOU with AltAir Fuels, and Orlando-based AirTran Airways signed the MOU with Rentech.
These alternative fuels will be more environmentally friendly, on a life cycle basis, than today’s jet fuels. This domestically produced fuel will create jobs and bolster U.S. energy independence.

“Today’s announcement reinforces the proactive steps that airlines are taking to stimulate competition in the aviation fuel supply chain, contribute to the creation of green jobs, and promote energy security through economically viable alternatives that also demonstrate environmental benefits,” said Glenn Tilton, ATA board chairman and UAL Corporation and United Airlines chairman, president and CEO. Tilton also noted that discussions with a number of additional alternative-fuel producers about other projects are underway, as are discussions with the U.S. military regarding other cooperative opportunities.

“Our intention as an airline industry is to continue to do our part by supporting the use of alternative fuels. We urge the U.S. government and the investment community also to do their part to further support this critical energy opportunity,” said Tilton.

Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Randy Babbitt said, “Today’s announcements reaffirm the airlines’ commitment to a greener, more stable and secure energy future, reinforcing the spirit of innovation and openness that is the essence of the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative.”

AltAir Fuels Founder and CEO Tom Todaro said, “The airlines’ pledge to use renewable jet fuel sends a clear and unmistakable message to policymakers, investors and industry leaders that AltAir Fuels has entered a new era of more sustainable aviation.”

D. Hunt Ramsbottom, Rentech president and CEO, said, “This agreement is a significant step forward, establishing a framework for a large group of diverse carriers to negotiate a definitive fuel purchase agreement.”

The AltAir Fuels project contemplates the production of approximately 75 million gallons per year of jet fuel and diesel fuel derived from camelina oils or comparable feedstock, refined at a new AltAir Fuels plant to be located at the Tesoro refinery in Anacortes, Wash. The Rentech project in Adams County, Miss., contemplates the production of approximately 250 million gallons per year of synthetic jet fuel derived principally from coal or petroleum coke, with the resultant carbon dioxide sequestered and the carbon footprint potentially further reduced by integrating biomass as a feedstock.

ATA airline members and their affiliates transport more than 90 percent of all U.S. airline passenger and cargo traffic. For additional industry information, visit

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Bacteria engineered to turn carbon dioxide into liquid fuel.

ScienceDaily (Dec. 11, 2009) — Global climate change has prompted efforts to drastically reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas produced by burning fossil fuels.

In a new approach, researchers from the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have genetically modified a cyanobacterium to consume carbon dioxide and produce the liquid fuel isobutanol, which holds great potential as a gasoline alternative. The reaction is powered directly by energy from sunlight, through photosynthesis.

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Friday, December 11, 2009

NREL Breaks Down Walls for Biofuels.

by Heather Lammers, NREL
Published: December 9, 2009

Colorado, United States []Researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and ethanol producers are racing to come up with ways to make ethanol from cellulosic biomass that are cheaper and easier to produce than current methods. But they are hitting a wall. Cell walls in plants are making the production of cellulosic ethanol a challenge. So researchers are creating their own computer program to help model and break down the tiny fibers of cellulose — or fibrils — found in plant cells.

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Global Potential for Bioenergy Sufficient to meet Global Energy Demand. WorldBioenergyAssociation

A position paper by World Bioenergy Association (WBA) based on a report by the Department of Energy and Technology at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) shows that the global potential to produce biomass for energy in a sustainable way is sufficient to meet global energy demand.

The estimated potential for bioenergy production is 1135 – 1 548 EJ (ExaJoule) in 2050, based on different scientific studies. The global energy consumption is 490 EJ today, and could reach well over 1000 EJ in 2050, according to IEA projections.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

COP15 Copenhagen climate summit: Day 1. BBC News

BBC - Richard Black's Earth Watch: COP15 Copenhagen climate summit: Day 1:

This decade 'warmest on record'. BBC News

By Richard Black
Environment correspondent, BBC News website, Copenhagen

The first decade of this century is "by far" the warmest since instrumental records began, say the UK Met Office and World Meteorological Organization.
Their analyses also show that 2009 will almost certainly be the fifth warmest in the 160-year record.

Burgeoning El Nino conditions, adding to man-made greenhouse warming, have pushed 2009 into the "top 10" years.

The US space agency Nasa suggests that a new global temperature record will be set "in the next one or two years".

World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and Met Office scientists have been giving details of the new analysis at the UN climate summit in Copenhagen.

The WMO said global temperatures were 0.44C (0.79F) above the long-term average.

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

USA remains most attractive country for renewable energy.

07 December 2009

The United States remains the most attractive country overall for renewable energy, but China has moved ahead of Germany to take second spot in the rankings released by Ernst & Young.

The quarterly Renewable energy country attractiveness indices provide scores for national renewable energy markets, infrastructures and their suitability for individual technologies. The weighting in the latest rankings has been amended to give 68% for wind (both onshore and offshore), 15% for solar (PV and CSP) and 17% for biomass and other renewable energy technologies.

The USA scores in top spot in the ‘All Renewables’ index, with a 70 comprised of 71 for wind, 75 for onshore wind, 59 for offshore wind, 72 for solar PV, 76 for CSP, 64 for biomass / other, 67 for geothermal, and 68 for renewable energy infrastructure.
China moves from third spot to second with an overall renewable energy score of 67, with high marks in onshore wind and infrastructure. Germany drops to third spot with a 66 overall, with high scores in offshore wind and solar PV.

Other countries in the top 10 for renewable energy include India (61), Spain (59), Italy (59), UK (57), France (57), Canada (54) and Portugal (53). In descending rank, the balance of the top 25 countries are Greece, Ireland, Australia, Sweden, Netherlands, Poland, Denmark, Belgium, Brazil, Norway, Japan, New Zealand, Turkey, South Africa and Czech Republic.

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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Study shows variability in ocean's CO2 uptake. BBC News

By Mark Kinver
Science and environment reporter, BBC News

Writing in Science, an international team of researchers said the ocean's uptake of carbon varied by as much as 10% over the space of a few years.

The data set, described as the largest of its kind, was gathered by devices fitted to a fleet of commercial ships.

The world's oceans are believed to absorb about half of the total carbon emissions from human activities.

"Out of all the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere, about half of it does not stay there," said lead author Andrew Watson, a researcher from the University of East Anglia's School of Environmental Sciences.

"It is taken up by the natural world; half of it is absorbed on land, and half of it ends up in the oceans."

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Friday, December 4, 2009

First Passenger Flight Powered by Biofuel--But Are the Petroleum Alternatives Ready to Takeoff?: Scientific American

December 3, 2009
Test flight results have been good, but questions remain whether jet biofuel be produced in large quantities--and sustainably
By David Biello

Dutch airline KLM has completed a fifth jet biofuel test flight—and the first with passengers other than flight crew. Using a 50–50 blend of regular jet fuel and biofuel refined from camelina oil in one of its four engines, the flight carried 42 "observers" for an hour on November 23 from Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, enough to fill business class, according to chemist Jennifer Holmgren, who was on board.

"The civil aviation authority in the Netherlands said we've seen enough of this fuel that I'm comfortable putting people on it," says Holmgren, who works for refiner UOP, a division of Honeywell International. "We went from people saying we couldn't do this three years ago, to making a drop-in sustainable aviation fuel today."

The test flights are part of an aviation industry plan to derive 1 percent of jet fuel from petroleum alternatives by 2015, or roughly 600 million gallons a year. Already, biofuel producers are gearing up production. Camelina grower Sustainable Oils—which provided the camelina oil to make the 1,000 gallons of jet fuel needed for the KLM flight—plans to cover more than 20,000 hectares in Montana with the weedy relative of canola, enough to deliver some 9.5 million liters of raw oil. And algae grower Solazyme recently won a contract to supply more than 75,500 liters of fuel derived from algae oil to the U.S. Navy, which would be a first for the industry.

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Global biodiesel demand to double in 5 years. BiodieselMagazine

By Susanne Retka Schill
Posted December 1, 2009

The driver for biofuels usage is not limited to the United States and Europe, but is also growing in the Asia-Pacific and Latin American regions, according to Tammy Klein, executive director of global biofuels services for Hart Energy Consulting. She spoke about the global biofuels outlook on the opening day of the Canadian Renewable Fuels Summit held Dec. 1 and 2 at Vancouver, British Columbia.

Thirty countries are implementing biofuels targets in 2010 alone, she said, with many of these countries in the developing world encouraging biofuels as a means of building energy security and improving their rural economies. Biodiesel demand is expected to double between 2009 and 2015, while supply is expected to grow threefold. “Currently there is massive overcapacity on a global basis in the biodiesel industry and utilization rates are generally below 50 percent,” she added. Current global biodiesel capacity is already large enough to supply the demand projected for 2015 of 10 billion gallons per year.

Currently, 30 countries worldwide are blending biodiesel, with the typical B5 beginning to inch upward. Several countries in Europe are moving towards B7, with Brazil moving towards higher blends and Indonesia considering B10. In 2009, developing countries represented 17 percent of biodiesel demand and almost 50 percent of global supply. That is expected to grow to 42.6 percent of biodiesel demand and 59.2 percent of global supply by 2015. Much of that demand among developing countries will be for domestic use, she added. African nations are looking towards biofuels for job creation, economic development and domestic energy supply and are not likely to become international players. In the Asia-Pacific region, the big four—Indonesia, Malaysia, China and the Philippines—represent 74 percent of biodiesel demand in the region. Brazil is likely to produce biodiesel to satisfy its internal markets and continue to raise blending limits to absorb capacity.

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Biofuels ethanol and biodiesel decrease GHG emissions significantly: Canadian report.

02 December 2009

Ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 62% over conventional petrol, when compared on a fuelcycle analysis, while biodiesel will drop emissions by 99%.

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Converting Water and CO2 into Fuel. Alternative Energy

December 2nd, 2009

Researchers are trying to duplicate the natural process of photosynthesis. If successful, we can use the “evil” carbon dioxide emitted by power plants and industrial units to good use. This way, industrial units don’t have to establish new subsidiary units for the treatment of carbon dioxide. Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories have developed a prototype machine that utilizes the sun’s energy to convert water and carbon dioxide into the molecular building blocks that can be utilized as transportation fuels. If researchers can make this device produce twice the energy generated by the natural process of photosynthesis, it will do great service to environment. It will pave the way to recycle CO2.

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Turning Heat to Electricity.

MIT research points to a much more efficient way of harvesting electrical power from what would otherwise be wasted heat.

by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office
November 25, 2009

Boston, United States []In everything from computer processor chips to car engines to electric powerplants, the need to get rid of excess heat creates a major source of inefficiency. But new research points the way to a technology that might make it possible to harvest much of that wasted heat and turn it into usable electricity.

That kind of waste-energy harvesting might, for example, lead to cellphones with double the talk time, laptop computers that can operate twice as long before needing to be plugged in, or power plants that put out more electricity for a given amount of fuel, says Peter Hagelstein, co-author of a paper on the new concept appearing this month in the Journal of Applied Physics.

Hagelstein, an associate professor of electrical engineering at MIT, says existing solid-state devices to convert heat into electricity are not very efficient. The new research, carried out with graduate student Dennis Wu as part of his doctoral thesis, aimed to find how close realistic technology could come to achieving the theoretical limits for the efficiency of such conversion.

Theory says that such energy conversion can never exceed a specific value called the Carnot Limit, based on a 19th-century formula for determining the maximum efficiency that any device can achieve in converting heat into work. But current commercial thermoelectric devices only achieve about one-tenth of that limit, Hagelstein says. In experiments involving a different new technology, thermal diodes, Hagelstein worked with Yan Kucherov, now a consultant for the Naval Research Laboratory, and coworkers to demonstrate efficiency as high as 40 percent of the Carnot Limit. Moreover, the calculations show that this new kind of system could ultimately reach as much as 90 percent of that ceiling.

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Sweden Aims to be World's First Oil-free Nation. Issues

Using Renewable Energy, Sweden Plans to End Oil Dependency by 2020
By , Guide

Sweden has moved to the forefront of the world’s “green” nations by setting an ambitious goal to achieve a completely oil-free economy by 2020—and without building more nuclear power plants.

Motivated by global warming and rising oil prices, the Swedish government says it intends to replace all fossil fuels with renewable alternatives before climate change undermines national economies worldwide and diminishing oil supplies force astronomical price increases.

"Our dependency on oil should be broken by 2020," said Mona Sahlin, minister of sustainable development, in an interview with The Guardian newspaper. "There shall always be better alternatives to oil, which means no house should need oil for heating, and no driver should need to turn solely to gasoline."

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