Taiwan to Benefit from Israeli Expertise in Water Management

Guest Post

Israel and Taiwan have entered into a collaborative exchange geared towards using each county’s individual expertise in different fields of green technology to help improve the infrastructure of both nations.

Simona Halperin, the representative of Israel’s Economic and Cultural Office in Taiwan, announced a one day seminar in Taipei to act as a forum for the exchange of ideas between the two delegations. Three private Isralie companies, as well as Alona Sheafer Karo, director general of Israel’s Ministry of Environmental Protection, were in attendance to share knowledge on issues relating to environmental protection and renewable energy.

There was a particular focus on the area of water management, in which Israel enjoys particularly strong reputation around the world, having had to make use of limited resources to create its own highly effective water management, recycling and desalination systems.

Taiwan, meanwhile, was able to share solutions for solid waste management. Chih C. Chao of the government sponsored Industrial Technology Research Institute held forth on Taiwan’s systems of compulsory waste sorting and incineration, which has now usurped the use of landfills as the number one method of waste disposal, going along way to help to make more of the island’s limited space available.

Of the back of the exchange there now are hopes that Taiwan and Israel will also be able to work together to start developing solar power projects over the course of the next year. Halperin said: “Where I see the greatest potential is in identifying exactly that the areas where each of us has the strength.”

This is not the first time that Israel has shared it’s expertise in clean technologies, especially water management, with other nation’s around the world. Just last month a mission of experts visited India with a few to seeing how Israeli companies could help serve the urban water management needs of keys cities such as Raipur, the capital of Chhattisgarh, in central India. Of the visit Abraham Tenne, of Israel’s Water Authority commented that: “There is a an almost uncanny fit between India’s needs in the urban water arena, and what Israeli companies are able to offer.”

Steve Waller (also known as Green Steve) is an environmental blogger striving to cut down to his own carbon footprint and do his best to help others do the same. By visiting the Green Steve Shop you can offset carbon with every penny you spend.

Audi to Make Fuel Using Solar Power

Photo courtesy of Flickr, IntelFreePress

Audi is building a plant that will use solar and wind power to make methane from water and carbon dioxide. The plant, which will use technology developed by Stuttgart, Germany-based SolarFuel, is scheduled to start operation later this year. It will produce enough methane to power 1,500 of Audi’s new natural-gas vehicles, which also go on sale this year.

SolarFuel’s process uses excess renewable energy generated as a result of Germany’s push to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. There’s now so much renewable energy in Germany that supply sometimes exceeds demand—such as when the wind is blowing late at night. That power could be cheap enough to make methane from water and carbon dioxide, even though the process for doing so is inefficient.

SolarFuel says its approach may be a solution to one of the biggest challenges with renewable energy—its variability. Methane, which can be stored in existing natural-gas storage facilities, provides a convenient, long-term option for storing the energy.

To make the methane, SolarFuel combines two existing technologies. One is electrolysis, which splits water to produce hydrogen and oxygen. The other is methanation, which combines hydrogen with carbon from carbon dioxide to make methane. The company says its innovation lies in the way it’s combined the two processes.

SolarFuel’s chief customer officer, Stephan Rieke, says that the amount of excess renewable energy in Germany grew, in two years, from 150 gigawatt-hours per year to 1,000 gigawatt-hours per year. “That’s electricity that we could use for nothing,” he says. The amount is expected to continue to grow as Germany pursues ambitious goals to cut greenhouse-gas emissions 80% by 2050 using largely renewable energy.

SolarFuel can’t compete directly with the wholesale price of natural gas. But it hopes to compete with biogas—methane produced from organic sources—a relatively large industry in Germany. It may also compete with retail natural-gas prices by building its plants close to consumers.

The uses of the technology outside of Germany—with its excess supply of cheap renewable energy—will be limited. The company is in talks with mining companies in Chile that currently get power from expensive diesel generation—its system could help such operations cut costs. The technology might also be attractive for rural communities without grid power.

One major drawback of the process is its inefficiency. It’s small-scale demonstration systems are only 40% efficient at converting electricity to methane. It hopes to improve that to 60% efficient in its commercial plants.

Even then, when factoring in the losses from burning methane to generate electricity again, the overall process is at best 30% efficient. SolarFuel hopes to recoup much of that lost energy by using it for steam, but doing that is limited by the demand for steam and the infrastructure for distributing it.

Source: Mashable.com

On Our Radar: A Spinning Solar Cell

V3 Solar

A solar venture says it has developed a “spin cell” technology using specialized lensing and a rotating conical shape that could generate five times more electricity from a given amount of land than conventional solar methods. It says the electricity would cost only 8 cents per kilowatt-hour, compared with 10 to 15 cents for electricity generated by conventional photovoltaic panels. [Clean Technica]

A federal appeals court in Denver refuses to reconsider its decision to uphold the Obama administration’s withdrawal of dozens of federal oil and gas drilling leases that were sold in the waning days of the George W. Bush administration. [The Salt Lake Tribune]

A dolphin with a curved spine and impaired swimming skills gets a warm welcome from a group of sperm whales. Researchers suggest that the dolphin had been bullied or ostracized by its own, faster peers. [Science]

A start-up has developed a thermal battery that will be used to cool milk in Indian dairies, compensating for frequent blackouts on the nation’s grid. [M.I.T. Technology Review]

Source: green.blogs.nytimes

Solar Power Finds a New Home at General Mills’ Plant in Spain

Solar panels are a familiar sight in Spain. The Iberian Peninsula’s hot sunny weather has been great for the country’s reputation as a year-round travel destination, but it’s also helped Spain establish a respectable footing in the solar power market.

Locations like Sevilla, in southern Spain, which captured the media’s attention in 2008 with the construction of what was, at the time, the world’s largest concentrated solar tower put Spain on the renewable energy map. Photovoltaic installations however, with their sprawling farms of thousands of solar panels, continue to face a fundamental challenge: finding enough horizontal space that won’t displace the area’s agricultural and urban needs.

Nowhere has this need been more obvious than in northern Spain’s renewable energy capital, the Chartered Community of Navarra, where more than 60 percent of its annual electricity needs are met with renewable energy (81 percent in 2011, per Navarra’s president, Miguel Sanz). Here, space is at a premium, and companies with large, flat rooftops are often viewed with envy.

“It is not very sustainable to install your solar panels (on agricultural land),” explains John Roszbach, who serves as the plant manager for the General Mills plant in San Adrian, Navarra, Spain.

Roszbach, who recently helped General Mills complete an agreement for the lease of approximately 250,000 square feet of its rooftop to MB Solar calls renting out the plant’s rooftop a “win-win” situation. “They can install their solar panels and generate green electricity, and they are not occupying land that we could use for other sustainable uses.”

Green energy is not only a booming business in this semi-rural community, it’s a point of pride for its residents. It creates jobs and is viewed as a viable part of the local economy.

So when MB Solar received word that the plant would be able to lease its rooftop, the company fanned out through the community looking for investors. Installing enough panels to make the project profitable would take about $3 million, says Roszbach – more than a small, local company would normally have on hand.

The result was a multi-level partnership between General Mills, MB Solar, 16 other local businesses and private citizens, and the local power company.

“(They are) all local investors and what I know is they are very proud to own a part of the roof.”

Investors range from semi-large companies to “a person who owns 10 or 20 of these solar panels.” So the investment, says Roszbach, “is open to everybody. For them it’s also a nice way of investing their money, showing that they have a green heart and a green mind. And that’s not a joke. It’s really how (the community) feels about it. So it’s for the local people.”

The rooftop is leased to MB Solar for 25 years, which oversees the solar installation. The panels are owned by the investors, and the electricity that is generated is picked up by the Spanish power company Iberdrola. The arrangement creates jobs for residents, investment potential for local businesses and provides a suitable location for energy production that doesn’t interfere with other local industries.

In return for the lease of its rooftop, the plant receives 7 percent of the annual value of the electricity that is harvested for the next 25 years. It’s a win-win arrangement for the plant as well, says Roszbach.

“(Our plan is to) reinvest this money every year in green projects that we have inside the plant,” which he says complements General Mills’ own sustainability goals. “So there will be a loop of green money flowing into the system, which I really like.”

Plus, says Roszbach, it allows them to meet the company’s goals for “continuous improvement” by establishing sustainability targets that are then paid for by the lease of their rooftop.

The arrangement, however, was not a short process. The Minneapolis office first had to approve the proposal and the roof had to be tested for durability for 4,500 solar panels. Finally, the investors had to be notified. In all, it took almost three years for the solar project to be launched. But Roszbach feels the project was worth it. Not only does it “give back to the community” but it has piqued interest from other plants, as well as by other companies around the world that wanted to know how to pursue similar arrangements.

“We are now beginning to share our knowledge … with other facilities all over the globe, says Roszbach, who expressed a hope that General Mills’ San Adrian project may help encourage more sustainable use of space for solar power production.

Source: www.triplepundit.com


Idle Iron: Can This Oil Rig Be Recycled?

An eco-system so spectacular that it is attracting attention from divers to explore it has developed in a most unexpected place: in the support system of an abandoned oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico…and a host of organizations are working to reconsider the order to blast it into smithereens.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCg5-UpoaTc?feature=player_embedded]

Courtesy: todaysgreenminute.com