Courtesy: todaysgreenminute.com

Turning Down Electricity Use in the Bay Area

A key recommendation in the Bay Area’s action plan is to replicate projects that include crowd-sourcing funds for solar panel installation. Credit: Oakland Local

Four local government agencies and a coalition of clean energy advocates have drafted a plan for the San Francisco Bay Area to reach “zero net energy” in building electricity use by the year 2020 — meaning the nine-county area would use only as much electricity as could be produced from renewable sources.

The Bay Area Renewable Power 2012-2013 Action Plan depends largely on retrofitting at least a quarter of existing buildings with renewable power and energy efficiency equipment, and installing such equipment in new buildings under construction. These buildings would produce at least as much energy on site as they use and the excess would power other buildings and factories. The draft plan sets a goal of developing at least 2,400 megawatts of local renewable power a year and of encouraging innovative financing and financial incentives for this work.

Its core element, dubbed BASE 2020 or “Bay Area Smart Energy 2020,” a blueprint drafted by the Pacific Environment on how to get to the zero net energy in eight years, was the topic of a lot of buzz at a conference hosted by the Local Clean Energy Alliance in Oakland late last week.

“This report shows what is possible — what can be done and what should be done,” said Al Weinrub, coordinator of alliance, as copies of the BASE 2020 plan were circulating among conference attendees.

“It shows it is feasible” to get to zero net energy in Read more »

Apple Powering NC Data Center with 100% Renewable Energy

© Apple

Apple is taking great strides to disprove Greenpeace’s accusations that its large Maiden, NC data center will be powered mostly by coal. Yesterday the company posted a new page to its website outlining the use of renewable energy at its data centers, revealing some exciting information.

The company had already announced plans to build a 20 MW solar array installation and a 5 MW fuel cell installation at the NC data center, which will be the largest private solar array and the largest non-utility fuel cell project in the country. Those projects are expected to provide 60 percent of the data center’s electricity needs. The big news is that Apple is now doubling the on-site solar power capacity by building a second 20 MW array with the total solar power generation to now hit 84 million kWh per year.

Reuters reports that SunPower Corp will be the installer for the high-efficiency arrays that will include an advanced solar tracking system.

The remaining energy needs of the data center not met by the on-site sources will be met through purchasing renewable power from local and regional sources. The company says the data center will be coal-power-free by the end of the year and it won’t be the only of its data centers to do so. The company’s future data center in Prineville, Oregon will only use power from local, renewable sources and its data center in Austin, TX runs fully on purchased renewable power.

The company just received regulatory approval to purchase renewable energy for its Newark, CA data center and it is locating direct-access clean energy to fully power that facility by February 2013.

The fact that Apple is meeting all of its data center energy needs with renewables is super exciting, but it’s also great to see the company revealing all of this information and fully disclosing its plans. To that end, the company is giving us a peak into its NC data center’s renewable energy projects by registering all of its on-site power generation with the North Carolina Renewable Energy Tracking System (NC-RETS) established by the North Carolina Utilities Commission.

Courtesy: www.treehugger.com

Going Green at Your Storage Facility

Surprisingly, the self-storage industry is actually inherently green. Facilities use far fewer resources to operate that most other businesses use to occupy the same space. Many locations have even taken it a step further and have embraced the green movement. The growing popularity of recycling and alternate energy forms has positioned this industry as a leading force in this sector. Let’s take a look at some of the things being put into effect by these storage facilities, and see what we can learn from them.
Going green doesn’t necessarily mean you have to drive an electric car to your facility and put a solar panel on your roof. Storage business can do their part just by recycling and doing what they can to conserve. Some storage chains have embraced document shredding as their way to go green and have even gone as far as holding a document-shredding event.

Here, solar panels are being placed atop a storage facility in an effort to be more green.

When we talk about recycling, we don’t just mean put your aluminum and plastic in bins separate from your trash. Another important branch is recycling used electronics. Electronic waste in the most rapidly growing form of waste in the U.S. so whenever you can, take the opportunity to recycle your old computers, TVs, phones and any other types of electric devices.
Some storage operators have discovered that using different cleaning and landscaping chemicals can seriously minimize their facilities negative environmental impact. Instead of old mops, strong odor cleaners and dirty water buckets, many places are switching to spray cleaners, reusable cleaning cloths and quick-dry floor liquids. Simple changes like this can go a long way for the environment, and can improve the workplace for employees.
Facilities everywhere are coming up with new, creative solutions to energy sustainability issues. In addition to traditional methods like installing timers for lights and improving insulation, alternative energy solutions are becoming much more affordable for businesses. A geothermal air conditioning system for example, pumps water from hot underground wells into a ventilation system in the facility walls, which drastically increases the building’s efficiency while reducing costs. Ventilation and temperature control are primary concerns for individual unit spaces, accounting for insulation challenges at self-storage facilities.
Many storage facilities being designed today are being constructed with solar energy in mind. Each solar panel that is being used is projected to produce somewhere around 1.5 megawatts of renewable energy, that is a huge amount of clean energy.
As far as green solutions go in the self-storage industry, this is just the beginning. Hopefully, with a further push, our actions will inspire others to bring a new sustainable future to the storage business.

This article was written by Matt Schexnayder. Matt is on the SpareFoot marketing team and writes for the SpareFoot blog. SpareFoot is the largest online marketplace for self-storage with more than 5,000 self-storage facilities listed nationwide.

SSE Chief Executive Test Drives Car of the Future

SSE Chief Executive, Ian Marchant, took the next generation of zero emission vehicles for a spin at the company’s HQ today (Friday 18 May) as the latest hydrogen fuel cell car drove into the city for the first time.

The Hyundai ix35 fuel cell electric vehicle is the European Commission’s official demonstration vehicle to test and promote hydrogen fuel cell technology. Hydrogen fuel cell cars are seen as a step forward from conventional electric vehicles as they emit zero carbon emissions boasting similar levels of performance to petrol and diesel cars.

SSE, the UK’s leading generator of renewable electricity, is interested in the development of hydrogen as a transport fuel as it can be produced from renewable electricity and is also key to the UK’s plans for a low carbon transport system.

Furthermore, SSE is also currently involved in the UK Hydrogen Mobility project (UKH2Mobility) which will asses the timescales and costs of rolling out the necessary public infrastructure, such as re-fuelling stations, to coincide with the anticipated commercial launch of hydrogen fuelled cars in 2015.

SSE Chief Executive, Ian Marchant, said: “I’m delighted to be able to get this rare chance to test drive what is sure to become the future of motoring in the UK. Also as a major generator and distributor of electricity, this car also reinforces the essential role we need to play in the creation of hydrogen as a fuel and the development of re-fuelling stations in order to make the commercial roll-out of hydrogen fuel cell cars a reality.”

David Densley, SSE’s Head of Sustainable Transport, added: “Although electric vehicles are here now, hydrogen is definitely a fuel of the future and vehicles like this, which boast excellent performance and energy efficiency credentials, show that they’ll soon have a real presence on our roads.”

Councillor Ian Miller, Leader of Perth & Kinross Council, said: “It’s exciting to see these zero emission vehicles matching the performance of conventional combustion cars. No doubt they will play a significant role in the creation of low carbon communities with their commercial launch not too far away.”

In vehicles such as the Hyundai ix35 FCEV, the hydrogen is passed through a fuel cell, producing electricity to power the car emitting only water vapour, making it an exceptionally clean fuel. It can move from 0 to 62 mph in 14 seconds, has a top speed of around 100 mph and can achieve a driving range of 326 miles on a single fuelling – providing more peace of mind on travel distance than the conventional electric vehicle.

Courtesy: fuelcellworks.com