Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Long Story Short House: Two Day Tiny House Sips Build

Long Story Short House: Two Day Tiny House Sips Build: I’m going to start with a photo dump of my two day build. I had the help of a few people each day, including Art Cormier ( http://tinysipho...

This guy builds with foam core OSB skinned panels on top of a utility trailer, quick and easy!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Earth Power News – Renault Plug In Hybrid Electric Car 141 MPG

Earth Power News – Renault Plug In Hybrid Electric Car 141 MPG
In a stunning announcement recently the Renault Company has unveiled a plug in electric car that gets a whopping 141 mpg.
The French automaker is reportedly going to unveil the 141 MPG concept car at the Geneva Motor Show that isn’t a 100% electric car. It’s a plug-in hybrid that is reportedly similar in size to a Clio.
Renault head of research, advanced studies and materials Remi Bastien is the one who gave out the 141 MPG figure, so it’s worth paying attention to.
Bastien added that, “a production version of the car would be affordable.
It will be a B-segment car with Clio-type features in terms of space and comfort.”
With the Renault Zoe and the Renault Fluence ZE, Renault is a clear leader in the EV realm so far.
According the company officials this is all according to their plans, “The main thrust of our research and development budget is spent on improving emissions – with our electric vehicle strategy with the Zoe EV, we’re perfectly placed to develop hybrid systems.”

Bastien also commented a bit on BMW’s use of carbon fiber in the BMW i3, and the related matter of reducing vehicle weight for greater efficiency.
“I think the main reason BMW uses lightweight carbon fibre on the BMW i3, for example, is because of performance, because of what the brand stands for – not necessarily for efficiency,” Bastien said.
“Reducing weight is important for gas and diesel cars, but less so for EVs – aerodynamics is more important for efficiency in electric vehicles. Weight can be used to help regenerative braking in an EV to harvest more kinetic energy when slowing down.”
Bastien also commented on the great potential EV battery research still offers.
“Bastien believes the industry is only at 50% in terms of exploration of battery technology,” according to Sean Carson of AutoExpress.
Bastien projects that, “by 2020 the range of an EV like the Zoe will double to around 250 miles.”
The roads will look a whole lot different when the Renault Plug In Electric car reaches that level.

Nova Scotia Community College - Explore NSCC - Centre for the Built Environment - Pilikan House

Nova Scotia Community College - Explore NSCC - Centre for the Built Environment - Pilikan House

Pilikan (pronounced "Bill-ee-gun") is derived from the Mi'kmaw words for "new house". The name represents a new way of thinking about healthy, sustainable residential development.
This house is a "living lab" and demonstration site where the next generation of residential construction professionals can learn how to incorporate sustainability into their work. It is designed to be an affordable and practical home to show home-owners how sustainable design and energy-efficient options can be within their reach.
Pilikan is a hands-on learning tool for the students in NSCC's Energy Sustainability Engineering Technology (ESET) program, as well as a research tool with 30 monitoring and control points to track energy consumption.

Energy Efficiency Highlights

Feature Energy Efficiency Details
Pilikan Energy Efficiency Ratings Pilikan is certified as an R-2000 house and achieved an Energuide rating of 91 – requiring little to no purchased energy. A rating of 100 is the maximum efficiency score as defined by Natural Resources Canada. Typically, R-2000 homes need 30% less energy to operate than conventional new homes. Airtightness is critical to building performance and energy efficiency. The blower-door test on Pilikan House resulted in a reading of 0.6 ACH (Air Changes/Hour). A typical home would measure 1.5 ACH.
Frost Protected Slab The perimeter of the slab has an insulated skirt which prevents frost from penetrating the soil underneath, eliminating frost heave. This results in superior energy performance, while reducing the materials used for the foundation.
Double Stud Walls The walls in this house are essentially two thin walls separated by a space. This separation eliminates thermal bridging, where heat is lost through the home's wood framing.
Extra Insulation The entire house is insulated well beyond building code requirements so it loses very little heat in winter and gains very little heat in the summer.
Walls: R44
Ceiling: R80
Slab: R32
Solar Hot Water Using the energy from the sun, solar thermal panels heat the water used by the occupants of the house.
Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV) The locally-built, highly-efficient HRV unit provides high-quality indoor air. The unit's motor can reduce energy consumption by 25%. It has a unique damper system and its large-sized core reduces fan noise, increases heat recovery efficiency and lowers power consumption.
Triple Glazed Windows With a higher insulation level than single or double-glazed windows, these windows reduce heat transfer across the glass surface, increasing comfort and energy savings.
Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Power These PV cells capture the sun's energy and convert it into usable electricity. They do not require sunlight and can actually generate electricity on a cloudy day to power lights, electronics and everyday appliances.
Passive Solar Heating Pilikan House was built facing South, allowing for optimum solar gain. The windows let in natural light which helps increase the home's ability to capture and store thermal energy in the form of heat.

Concept house in Nova Scotia pushes every green button : TreeHugger

Concept house in Nova Scotia pushes every green button : TreeHugger

Keith Robertson and Jennifer Corson of Solterre Design have built themeselves a house that presses so many buttons it's hard to know where to start. It is a 1500 square foot test bed of green tech mixed with simple passive design, with a green roof on top.

© Solterre Designs
Located on a saltwater inlet near Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, the home is a 1500 square foot off-grid sustainable demonstration retreat/future retirement home for Solterre Design's principals, Keith Robertson and Jennifer Corson and their two children. With over twenty years of experience along Nova Scotia's south shore, Jen and Keith called upon a developed network of local craftsmen to build an off-grid home that sets a new standard for self-sufficiency and provides a open and eclectic space to display many innovative green features to student groups, industry colleagues and interested folks in the local community. Or, the most favourite aspect of the house? To simply gazing across the gently sloping pasture to the ocean.

© Solterre Designs
It's got everything green, including the kitchen sink; it is recovered from a nursing home. The kitchen counters are from a hospital. Instead of the usual sand, the septic system bed is built from 70 tonnes of recycled glass.
From the architect's website:
The home is not tied to the electrical grid, but instead supplies all of its electricity through a photovoltaic array. Primary heat is supplied by solar energy, both passive and active, and a small, high-efficiency wood fireplace. Solar thermal panels supply heat for hot water and secondary heating. Propane fuels the kitchen stove and acts as a supplementary backup fuel to the heat and hot water systems. A DC refrigerator and other Energy Star appliances are used, as every kilowatt of energy used must be produced on site. By using the most energy efficient lighting, appliances and equipment possible, and meeting the Passive House (Passivhaus) standard, the amount of photovoltaics needed is relatively small, making off-grid living an affordable option, while providing an exceptionally comfortable home.

© Solterre Designs
This is the beauty of a Passivhaus; you don't need a huge array of photovoltaics, and you don't worry as much about leaving the house for a couple of days (it's currently being used on weekends) because it is built like a thermos bottle.
Due to a super insulated envelope (roof, wall and foundation) and extensive southern glazing, the house will never drop below 15 degrees Celsius (58 degrees Fahrenheit), even if unoccupied and unheated for long periods of time in the winter. The exterior is clad in durable and low maintenance materials: cement panels and an untreated torrefied wood open-joint rainscreen. The sod roof uses a traditional Faroe Islands technique that requires little upkeep.

© Solterre Designs
In fact, the hot water baseboard radiators were not turned on all last winter. There may well be more green tech in this house than is actually required.
The house has achieved LEED Platinum for homes, is going through Passivhaus certification, and has won a Nova Scotia Lieutenant Governor Award of Merit. Nicely done by Solterre Design.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Ontario tilts against wind turbines as costs spiral: Cohn via reddit.com

Ontario tilts against wind turbines as costs spiral: 


Who would have imagined Ontario as Ground Zero for the global anti-wind movement, pitting people power against wind power? Instead of a low-carbon environment, the governing Liberals generated a highly toxic political environment.
Yet it is economics, more than politics, that is causing the greatest drag on wind power today. Diminishing returns have prompted the Liberals to tilt against wind turbines.
The pace of future wind expansion will be scaled back over the next 20 years, according to the Long Term Energy Plan released this month by the government. The latest plan is a belated admission that previous energy plans were off target.
To understand how much the Liberals miscalculated, it’s worth looking at another report that preceded this one. Prepared for influential clients in the energy industry by global consulting firm IHS-CERA, the title of this private study says it all: “Too Much, Too Fast — The Pace of Greening the Ontario Power System.”
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It treats our wind turbines as a case study on how greening the power system can plunge it into the red. A cautionary tale for international clients, the report would have been essential reading for provincial energy planners as they looked for the light at the end of our wind tunnel:
“What happened in Ontario . . . provide(s) universal lessons regarding how a simple, appealing, but unrealistic idea can intersect with the political process and set in motion environmental policies that run counter to the underlying costs and complexity of the electric power sector.”
Over the past decade, the government rapidly signed contracts for 10,000 megawatts of wind and solar — exceeding the coal capacity it had targeted for elimination. Yet dirty coal and clean wind are not interchangeable, despite the equivalency implied in the Liberals’ successful campaign pitches.
You can burn coal (or natural gas) when needed. But you can’t make the wind blow on demand.
In Ontario, “wind conditions tend to produce power least when consumers want power most.” Additional wind capacity requires more standby power from natural gas — which explains why the Liberals had to build (and in two cases, cancel) so many gas-fired power plants.
“This back-up requirement meant that as a source of new power supply, the integration of wind by natural gas-fired technologies was 30 per cent more expensive” than by gas alone.
Another problem: You can’t make the wind stop blowing.
“Wind conditions tend to produce power most when consumers need power least . . . . Overgeneration creates an operational problem that requires reducing output from hydro, nuclear, and/or wind generators.”
Unfortunately, most of that unneeded wind power didn’t displace dirty coal, but forced costly cuts in clean hydro and emissions-free nuclear power. Ramping down hydro is hard, given natural water flows. Nuclear shutdowns are expensive, given the hefty restart costs.
Why did the Liberals sell a mismatched green vision, and why did voters (mostly in urban areas) buy into it? The study’s authors appear puzzled by the lack of government foresight and the electorate’s lack of oversight.
“Looking back . . . too many people believed that renewable power was a direct substitute for conventional power plants, including coal-fired,” they conclude. “The simple idea to replace coal-fired power plants with wind turbines went unchallenged in Ontario and made the green vision appear plausible.”
Resistance to wind turbines emanated mostly from rural residents and was quickly exploited by opposition politicians eager to steal Liberal seats. While the NIMBYists beat their breasts, the bean counters took their eyes off the turbines. Politics trumped economics.
Ontario’s latest long-term plan reads like a disguised damage control strategy that takes its cue from the private consultant’s report quoted here. Others in the global energy industry who read the IHS-CERA report effectively had a sneak peek:
“Lessons from the Ontario power system provide valuable insights,” the consultants write. “Trying to do too much too fast will inevitably result in cost escalation that . . . drives monthly power bills beyond politically acceptable levels. The unintended consequence is political backlash.”
And double jeopardy: Not just NIMBYism, but billion-dollar boondoggles.

Solar PV and Energy Storage The Time is Now | Solar Feeds

Solar PV and Energy Storage The Time is Now | Solar Feeds
Energy storage technologies
The rapidly changing field of energy storage covers a wide range of technologies, each with specific technical characteristics. While Solar Server covered energy storage technologies extensively in our July 2010 report, and will only supply an overview of new developments here, it is important to note some of the technical details.
First, different energy storage technologies cannot be treated as commodities, since the technical features of energy storage systems determine the functions that they can supply on the grid. Ultracapacitors and flywheels offer very rapid power transfer, which can smooth out power fluctuations which last less than one second. For longer-term storage on the order of minutes, hours or days, a variety of battery types can be used. Finally, compressed air, pumped hydro, and methane and hydrogen systems are useful for long-term storage.
Different energy storage technologies are suitable for different applications. Image: Fraunhofer ISE
Different energy storage technologies are suitable for different applications. Image: Fraunhofer ISE
Second, energy storage is not a solution deployed in isolation, and storage technologies can be seen as part of the larger field of intelligent energy management. Inverter technologies can supply related grid support functions, and as greater penetrations of renewable energy are added, regulators are increasingly pushing for these functions to be required of inverters. Of all the technologies being explored for energy storage to accompany renewable energy, lithium-ion batteries have attracted the most attention in recent years. However, lead-acid batteries remain less expensive and are widely used in small off-grid systems, while sodium-sulfur systems make up the majority of grid-tied battery capacity. Finally, pumped hydro remains the cheapest and most widely deployed means of long-term energy storage.
One of the key advantages of lithium-ion technology are higher cycle lives. Solarpraxis AG estimates that lithium ion batteries can reach a lifespan of 20 years or 7,000 charge cycles if charged and discharged daily, much more than the 2,000 maximum cycles available with lead-acid gel batteries. The two can also be combined, and Fraunhofer ISE (Freiburg, Germany) reports that a hybrid approach of using a larger lead-acid battery with a smaller lithium-ion battery subsystem can create a battery system with a longer lifespan.
Fraunhofer ISE also finds that while lithium-ion batteries are more expensive initially, that over their lifetimes they are nearly as cheap as lead-acid batteries at smaller scales.
Exponential market growth
When we talk about deployment of energy storage, we are talking about multiple different markets at different scales. At the residential and commercial behind-the meter scale, PV systems with energy storage system represent a very small portion of overall PV system sales.
However, this market is growing rapidly, in large part due to German subsidies. At the beginning of September 2013, IHS reported that 1,000 German PV system owners had qualified for subsidies to support 30 MW of storage, with another 4,800 applications being considered. IHS states that the subsidy is causing the PV energy storage market to boom in the same way that feed-in tariffs caused the PV market to boom in previous years.
Battery companies have been preparing for this moment for some time, and in the last two years a number of companies began producing lithium-ion batteries to accompany residential and small commercial PV systems, including Panasonic, Conergy and Saft. Many of these and other systems have been rolled out in the German market.
At the larger scale it is difficult to put a number on the size of the current market, as deployment is uneven from year to year. However, with the large number of projects that have been announced, it is clear that this market is also growing.
IHS and other market analysts have made predictions about the future size of the global energy storage market, with IHS anticipating particularly sharp growth among energy storage systems to accompany PV systems for businesses. And while all predict exponential growth, the size of the market anticipated in any given year varies widely.
Like the PV industry, greater market adoption of energy storage will depend upon a number of factors, including regulatory support and subsidies, with prices falling as economies of scale are built and the industry matures.
It should be noted that the recent regulations in California allow energy storage at multiple scales, including behind-the-meter systems, to meet the 1.325 GW target. The main limitation is that pumped hydro systems larger than 50 MW do not apply. As such, while this will be a massive boost to the market, it is currently unclear what impacts this will have on various segments of the storage market.
This is not only true of California. We simply do not know what the future global energy storage market will look like, including what technologies will dominate. But what we do know is that as more and more renewable energy is added to the grid globally, energy storage will inevitably be a major component of our energy systems. The future is here.

New Tesla Patent: 400-Mile Battery Pack Using Metal-Air & Lithium-Ion Batteries | CleanTechnica

New Tesla Patent: 400-Mile Battery Pack Using Metal-Air & Lithium-Ion Batteries | CleanTechnica
Tesla Motors is exclusively an electric car maker, with Elon Musk expressing disdain for cars like the Chevy Volt and BMW i3, which pack gas-powered range-extenders. But Tesla may be working on a different kind of hybrid; a hybrid battery pack that could extend the range of cars like the Tesla Model S by up to 40%, allowing for 400 miles of driving between charges.
A report by Global Equities Research shows that Tesla recently filed patents 20130187591 and 20130181511, which describe a combination lithium-ion and metal-air battery pack. This hybrid battery pack would primarily use the lithium-ion side, only drawing power from the metal-air battery pack on extended journeys. Metal-air batteries, which use oxygen as an electrode, have a shorter lifetime when exposed to regular charging, but use more common elements like zinc or aluminum that drastically reduce battery costs.
Drivers would use the lithium-ion battery for daily use, and would either select the secondary battery, or have it automatically switch over on extended trips. A hybrid battery of this type could offer Tesla customers greater driving ranges, while not drastically increasing costs. There’s also mention of a mode whereby the metal-air battery would charge the lithium-ion battery, which powers the car’s systems. 95% of driving consist of short jaunts no more than 90 miles per day, but the option of going 400 or more miles on a single charge could open up the world of electric vehicles to a much wider audience.
For now though, Tesla will still rely on Panasonic for batteries, as they have a four-year, 80,000 unit contract with the Japanese tech giant. But going forward from there, who’s to say Tesla doesn’t deploy ground-breaking battery technology of its own? This could be a peek at the future, folks.
Source: Benzinga

Monday, December 9, 2013

European Coastal Defenses May Reduce Destruction from Epic Storm: Scientific American

European Coastal Defenses May Reduce Destruction from Epic Storm: Scientific American

Dubbed Windstorm Xaver by the Free University Berlin, last week's storm wreaked havoc across Europe. Scheduled train travel was halted in Scotland, Germany and Denmark when fallen trees and landslides blocked rail lines. Glasgow's central train station was evacuated after debris smashed through a glass roof.
A cliff in Hemsby, England, collapsed, causing houses to slide into the ocean below. In Rhyl, North Wales, elderly residents were evacuated from their homes in inflatable boats.
More than 29,000 customers lost electricity in Ireland when winds gusting up to 70 mph blew through communities in the northern and eastern parts of the country.
In Poland, three people died in the village of Poraj when a tree fell onto their car. Winds reached 85 mph throughout the northern part of the country. Firefighters responded to more than 1,500 emergency calls. Winds caused more than 400,000 customers to lose electricity.
Storm surges reach 20 feet
In Hamburg, Germany, water levels rose to 13 feet above the normal high tide level. Parts of the city center and port areas were flooded.
At its highest level, the morning of Dec. 6, the tidal surge measured 20 feet above sea level, according to a Hamburg official, the highest it has been since the early 1990s.
Fortunately for many Europeans, the last 60 years have seen vast improvements in tidal defenses. Last week, the Thames barrier was closed for two days to protect residents of low-lying areas around greater London and the Thames estuary.
At its highest, the storm surge caused a 6-foot-plus difference in water height between the downriver and upriver sides of the barrier. In Hull, according to a report on the Climate Central website, the level of the River Humber rose to a record high of 19 feet on the night of Dec. 5. Flooding was stemmed by a barrier that has been in place since 1980.
In the Netherlands, the Eastern Scheldt storm surge barrier, a complex of dams, sluices and dikes built to protect the large area of land around the Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt delta, was closed off for the first time in six years.
Dutch authorities said they had issued the highest possible flood warning for four areas in the north of the country. In the southwestern province of Zeeland, officials reported that the North Sea had risen by 13 feet, the highest level since 1953.
Damage estimates lag
Estimates of the magnitude of losses generated by Xaver will be several days in coming. Insurance brokers, reinsurers and risk modeling firms say it is too early to speculate. A spokesman for Aviva, the United Kingdom's largest insurance company, said, "The impact is still being measured on the ground. We're assessing and monitoring areas affected."
According to Brian Owens, senior director of risk modeling firm Risk Management Solutions, better infrastructure defenses as well as the relatively brief duration of the surge events protected most developed regions from Xaver's impact. Owens was quoted in a report on the website Artemis.bm, which covers the alternative risk transfer, catastrophe bond and insurance linked security markets,
On Twitter, Swiss Re's natural catastrophe team leader, Andreas Schraft, said: "Too early for loss estimates."
With Xaver, the trend in severe weather across Europe seems to be continuing. In a Dec. 6 report in the Irish newspaper Independent.ie, Ray McGrath, of Met Eireann's research department, pointed out that "global warming" does not simply mean temperatures are going to go up. Trends in extreme weather of all kinds, he said, are expected to worsen.
According to figures compiled by the Irish Insurance Federation, since 2010, extreme weather conditions have cost Ireland more than €1billion ($1.37 billion) in property damage alone. Across Europe, the cost of damage from extreme weather events has risen by more than 60 percent in the last 30 years, according to a report by the European Academies Science Advisory Council released in November.
Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net, 202-628-6500


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Rivers flowing into the sea offer vast potential as electricity source

Rivers flowing into the sea offer vast potential as electricity source

Apr. 18, 2012 — A new genre of electric power-generating stations could supply electricity for more than a half billion people by tapping just one-tenth of the global potential of a little-known energy source that exists where rivers flow into the ocean, a new analysis has concluded. A report on the process -- which requires no fuel, is sustainable and releases no carbon dioxide (the main greenhouse gas) -- appears in ACS' journal Environmental Science & Technology.

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Menachem Elimelech and Ngai Yin Yip explain that the little-known process, called pressure-retarded osmosis (PRO), exploits the so-called salinity gradient -- or difference in saltiness -- between freshwater and seawater. In PRO, freshwater flows naturally by osmosis through a special membrane to dilute seawater on the other side. The pressure from the flow spins a turbine generator and produces electricity. The world's first PRO prototype power plant was inaugurated in Norway in 2009. With PRO appearing to have great potential, the scientists set out to make better calculations on how much it actually could contribute to future energy needs under real-world conditions.
Elimelech and Yip concluded that PRO power-generating stations using just one-tenth of the global river water flow into the oceans could generate enough power to meet the electricity needs of 520 million people, without emitting carbon dioxide. The same amount of electricity, if produced by a coal-fired power plant, would release over one billion metric tons of greenhouse gases each year.
The researchers acknowledge funding from the Environment and Water Industrial Development Council of Singapore for Ngai Yin Yip's fellowship.
I really wonder why this is not happening in western canada, there are oodles of places where power can be generated without having to flood more prime farmland!!!!