Big data equals big opportunity — and a surplus of hype. Catch up on the big data articles that interested readers most in 2013.
See on www.informationweek.com
SHANGHAI — The Chinese government is pushing for a drastic shakeout of the country’s overcrowded solar cell industry, supporting only a quarter of players and practically telling the rest to get out of the business.
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has announced a list of 134 producers of silicon materials, solar panels and other components of photovoltaic systems as meeting certain conditions, as measured by 2012 production, capacity utilization and technical standards.
See on asia.nikkei.com
While the news about climate change seems to get worse every day, the rapidly improving technology, declining costs, and increasing accessibility of clean energy is the true bright spot in the march toward a zero-carbon future. 2013 had more clean energy milestones than we could fit on one page, but here are 13 of the key breakthroughs that happened this year.
1.Using salt to keep producing solar power even when the sun goes down. Helped along by the Department of Energy’s loan program, Solana’s massive 280 megawatt (MW) solar plant came online in Arizona this October, with one unique distinction: the plant will use a ‘salt battery’ that will allow it to keep generating electricity even when the sun isn’t shining. Not only is this a first for the United States in terms of thermal energy storage, the Solana plant is also the largest in the world to…
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Pacific Northwest National Laboratory engineers a way to turn algae into usable crude oil without a million years wait or harmful and expensive chemicals.
>Department of Energy scientists at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory say they’ve reduced nature’s million year process of turning algae into crude oil to one than takes less than an hour. The engineers created a chemical process that produces crude oil minutes after it is poured into harvested algae. The reaction is not only fast, but also continuous since it produces a recyclable by product containing phosphorus that can then be used to grow more algae. […]
The scientists say with additional conventional refining, the crude algae oil can be converted into a variety of fuels for aviation, gasoline burning cars, or diesel vehicles. Meanwhile, the wastewater can also be used to yield burnable gas or elemental substances like potassium and nitrogen, which, along with the cleansed water, can grow more algae.
The new process promises to reduce time and save money compared to other techniques by combining several chemical steps and skipping the process of drying out the algae. Instead, the new process uses a slurry that contains as much as 80 to 90 percent water while eliminating the need for complex processing solvents like hexane to extract the energy rich oils from the algae. Elliott said in addition to saving time, “there are bonuses, like being able to extract usable gas from the water and then recycle the remaining water and nutrients to help grow more algae, which further reduces costs.”<
See on inhabitat.com
Advances in molecular genetics and DNA sequencing technology have allowed a San Diego start-up to domesticate jatropha, a plant with seeds that produce high-quality oil that can be refined into low-carbon biofuel.
>Hailed about six years ago as the next big thing in biofuels, jatropha attracted hundreds of millions of dollars in investments, only to fall from favor as the recession set in and as growers discovered that the wild bush yielded too few seeds to produce enough petroleum to be profitable.
But SGB, the biofuels company that planted the bushes, pressed on. Thanks to advances in molecular genetics and DNA sequencing technology, the San Diego start-up has, in a few years, succeeded in domesticating jatropha, a process that once took decades.
SGB is growing hybrid strains of the plant that produce biofuel in quantities that it says are competitive with petroleum priced at $99 a barrel. Oil is around $100 a barrel.
The company has deals to plant 250,000 acres of jatropha in Brazil, India and other countries expected to eventually produce about 70 million gallons of fuel a year. That has attracted the interest of energy giants, airlines and other multinational companies seeking alternatives to fossil fuels. They see jatropha as a hedge against spikes in petroleum prices and as a way to comply with government mandates that require the use of low-carbon fuels.<
See on www.nytimes.com
The City of Calgary has reached an agreement with Shaw Communications to provide free Wi-Fi at city-owned locations.
>After reviewing applications, the city decided Shaw had the best proposal and technical expertise, and awarded Shaw the contract.
Shaw will partner with the city to install free WiFi zones in a variety of public locations including recreation facilties, parks and LRT stations.
“The City manages a variety of public spaces and we were looking to partner with an organization that would be able to provide reliable WiFi services, at no cost to citizens, as well as meet industry regulations and provide technical support,” says Heather Reed-Fenske, the city’s manager of Information Technology.
During the initial launch of the program, public WiFi will be available in a select number of public spaces. […]
Mayor Naheed Nenshi says free public WiFi will give Calgarians better access to city services.
Once the initial zones are up and running, the city will collect feedback from Calgarians to evaluate the success of the program.
An announcement is expected soon on when the service will be available.<
See on globalnews.ca
In Washington, U.S.Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus unveiled the “Farm to Fleet” program, through which the Navy will begin to add biofuels into its regular domestic purchases of approximately 77 million gallons of…
>The Navy’s Transition to Biofuels: Testing and Certification
The Navy began testing aviation biofuels and marine biofuels on a ship-by-ship and jet-by-jet basis several years ago. Last summer, the Navy demonstrated a Green Strike Group operating on biofuels during the 2012 RIMPAC exercises.[RIMPAC is the world’s largest international maritime warfare exercise, held every two years out of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, hosted by the US Pacific Fleet and featuring 22 nations and 42 ships in 2012, enhancing interoperability between Pacific Rim armed forces].
“It was at RIMPAC,” McGinn observed, “that we really got an end-to-end view on all the supply chain issues. Now, we are ready to deploy quickly. Now, it’s down to business. The intention now is to alert industry that we are open for business and that we are starting this program in a very realistic way.”
The Navy’s Transition to Biofuels: Capacity Building and Assurance of Supply
Alongside the testing and certification efforts, the Navy, USDA and DOE had announced a program in 2012 to directly invest up to $510 million, through the DPA Title III office and Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), in order to assure that capital would be available to build production capacity and offset feedstock costs for drop-in biofuels that would meet the Navy’s needs, timelines and cost goals.
[Note for newer readers: DOE and DOD’s portion goes to DPA Title III to build biorefineries, USDA’s portion is in CCC funds to address feedstock development.]<
See on www.renewableenergyworld.com
A second pipeline proposal to transport oil to Asia was officially launched on Monday when Kinder Morgan filed a project application for its $5.4-billion Trans Mountain expansion.
>The project would nearly triple oil capacity to 890,000 barrels annually and bring about 400 more tankers a year into Burrard Inlet (up from about 80) if it is approved by the National Energy Board and subsequently by the federal government.
The 1,150-kilometre pipeline will carry diluted bitumen from the Alberta oilsands, starting in Edmonton, through Jasper and across B.C. to the company’s Westbridge Terminal in Burnaby.
Kinder Morgan says nearly three-quarters of the proposed expanded pipeline’s length across most of the province will follow the existing right-of-way where the pipeline was first built in the 1950s. About 17 per cent of the route, and virtually all the way through the Lower Mainland west of Fort Langley, will deviate from the current line, but would follow other existing utility corridors or infrastructure.
Kinder Morgan is promising enhanced tanker safety in its more-than-15,000-page submission, and says it is continuing discussions with First Nations, whose support is critical to large infrastructure development projects in B.C.
The twinning of Kinder Morgan’s existing pipeline has already seen years of pushback from First Nations, environmentalists and community groups concerned about the potential for spills along the pipeline and from tankers. Both Vancouver and Burnaby’s city councils have voiced opposition to the project.
The project would create about 90 permanent jobs, and employ 4,500 people at the peak of construction.<
See on www.vancouversun.com
Siemens has received an order from the U.S. energy company MidAmerican Energy for the supply of 448 wind turbines.
Siemens to supply 448 wind turbines with a total capacity of 1,050 megawatts and provide service for several yearsThe customer, MidAmerican Energy, will equip five wind power projects in the U.S. state of Iowa with Siemens wind turbinesClean energy for nearly 320,000 American households
Siemens has received an order from the U.S. energy company MidAmerican Energy for the supply of 448 wind turbines. With a total capacity of 1,050 megawatts (MW), this represents not only the largest order for onshore wind turbines for Siemens, but also the largest single order for onshore wind power awarded globally to date. The wind turbines, each with a nominal rating of 2.3 MW and a rotor diameter of 108 meters, are to be installed in five different projects in Iowa. Siemens will also be responsible for service and maintenance of the wind turbines.<
See on www.siemens.com