Arduino based solar power controller to take home appliances off grid

Where’s the middle ground between having a small solar charger for your gadgets, and having a rooftop solar array capable of powering your entire house? The UNplug might know.

Source: www.treehugger.com

>” […] The UNplug solar controller was invented by Markus Löffler in response to his own power blackout experience, where several days without electricity meant a lot of spoiled food. Löffler, an entrepreneur and software engineer living in Altadena, California, developed the UNplug device to serve as a simple and inexpensive way to begin going solar, because it serves as the brain of a micro-solar system, starting as small as a single solar panel and a small battery bank. […]

During the day, UNplug feeds electricity from the solar panel into the appliances connected to it, and charges the battery bank, and then when the sun goes down, it seamlessly switches over those devices to using grid power. In the event of a blackout, UNplug then powers those same appliances from the battery bank, allowing certain crucial electricity needs to continue to be met during an outage.

The UNplug could allow homes to take at least some of their daily electrical loads off the grid, such as the fridge or other household devices, while also serving as an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) in the event of a power outage. The device doesn’t function all by itself, of course, and requires solar panels, batteries, an inverter, and other accessories, but according to Löffler’s campaign page, a small system could be set up for an additional $570 or so, on top of the cost of the UNplug, so the entire investment could be under $1000. (His shopping list is here.) […]”<

See on Scoop.itGreen Energy Technologies & Development

Advertisements

California’s Carbon Cap-and-Trade Fund Attracts Energy Industry Project Proposals

With California’s growing cap-and-trade program expected to yield a budgetary bonanza, lawmakers and interest groups have ample ideas for how to spend the money. Floating proposals ahead of a pivotal period for budget negotiations, they say they want to fund port improvements, pay for heavy-duty trucks and ferries, nurture urban rivers, sponge up carbon in soil and provide discounted bus passes.

Image source:  http://mammothlakeshousing.com/120-million-available-through-cap-and-trade-funds-for-affordable-housing-in-ca/

Source: www.sacbee.com

>”[…] Seeking to counteract climate change, lawmakers in 2006 authorized California to establish its first-in-the-nation carbon auction program, compelling businesses to purchase allowances for what they pump into the atmosphere.

By this time last year, the system already had generated hundreds of millions of dollars that were parceled out via the budget, including a controversial annual outlay to support high-speed rail. But this year is different: Oil and gas producers have been obligated to buy permits for the first time, likely generating a multibillion-dollar influx.

“With transportation fuels coming under the cap, there will be more money for years to come. That changes the dynamic,” said Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles. “Because there’s going to be a lot more money, there’s going to be that many more projects competing for dollars.”

Gov. Jerry Brown’s January proposal underestimated the amount available in the coming fiscal year by as much as $3.9 billion and most likely by around $1.3 billion, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office. The updated numbers will come this week in Brown’s May revision.

Per a formula established in last year’s budget agreement, 60 percent of the auction dollars will flow to areas such as high-speed rail, urban transit and housing. The remaining 40 percent is up for debate in the Legislature.  […]

The competing proposals raise a larger question about what type of project qualifies. Money spent out of the cap-and-trade fund must verifiably work to curtail the greenhouses gases that fuel climate change.

“It is a fee, and we want to spend it appropriately,” said Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, who carried the bill establishing the program.

Critics assailed Brown last year for directing revenue to the high-speed rail project, arguing that carbon reductions wouldn’t materialize for years. Legislative leaders are scrutinizing ideas this year and filtering out proposals that don’t pass muster.

At de León’s prodding, a Senate bill seeking to clean up urban watersheds was amended to seek funding from a different source. Another proposal floated by a range of environmental and community activist groups argued for subsidized bus passes.

“We know that the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in California is from transportation, so there a number of ways we are addressing that, and one way of getting cars off the road is improving the choices in public transit,” said Magavern, whose organization was among those making the proposal.

In his January budget, Brown proposed using the money over which lawmakers have control on an array of areas, including energy-efficiency upgrades for public buildings, waste diversion and fire prevention (forest fires pour huge amounts of carbon-thick smoke into the air). That largely holds the line on last year’s proposals.

A potential addition would direct dollars to help water resources. As a prolonged drought has prompted extraordinary conservation mandates from Brown, the administration has been studying the ways in which energy and water overlap.

There, too, policymakers have experts working to quantify how much energy is used in transporting and heating water. If they can establish they’re reducing emissions, they can tap into the cap-and-trade money.

“There are a lot of really smart people working on getting this right,” said Pavley, who has a bill directing the state to study the energy footprint of water systems. “I think it opens up an amazing possible win-win for expenditure of auction revenues.”

With a growing pile of money spurring interest, Pavley said, officials must be vigilant about keeping their focus on cutting greenhouse gases. Sacramento suffers from no shortage of ideas for spending money, but not all of them fit that framework. […]”<

See on Scoop.itGreen & Sustainable News

IMF Reports Global Energy Subsidies are Unmanageable, Inefficient and Reinforce Inequality

A new report from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) urged policymakers the world over to reform subsidies for products from coal to gasoline, arguing that this could translate into major gains both for economic growth and the environment.

Image Source:  http://bit.ly/1LO0yQb

Source: www.imf.org

>” […] In a speech at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington D.C., marking the release of the paper, IMF First Deputy Managing Director David Lipton noted that “subsidy reform can lead to a more efficient allocation of resources, which will help spur higher economic growth over the longer term.” Removing energy subsidies can also strengthen incentives for “research and development in energy-saving and alternative technologies,” he said. He also noted that, while intended to benefit consumers, subsidies are often inefficient and “could be replaced with better means of protecting the most vulnerable parts of the population.”

“The paper shows that for some countries the fiscal weight of energy subsidies is growing so large that budget deficits are becoming unmanageable and threaten the stability of the economy,” Mr. Lipton said, adding that IMF research shows that 20 countries maintain pre-tax energy subsidies that exceed 5 percent of GDP. For other emerging and developing countries, he said, the share of the scarce government resources spent on subsidies remains “a stumbling block” to higher growth and fundamentally impairs their future. “Because of low prices, there is little investment in much-needed infrastructure. More is spent on subsidies than on public health and education, undermining the development of human capital.”

Energy subsidies also reinforce inequality because they mostly benefit upper-income groups, which are the biggest consumers of energy. “On average, the richest 20 percent of households in low- and middle-income countries capture 43 percent of fuel subsidies,” said Mr. Lipton.

At the same time, Mr. Lipton warned that an increase in prices which can result from subsidy reform can have a significant impact on the poor and that “mitigating measures to protect them as subsidy reform is implemented” must be an integral part of any successful and equitable reform program.

In addition, Mr. Lipton noted that “subsidies aggravate climate change and worsen local pollution and congestion.” The study finds that eliminating pre-tax subsidies would reduce global CO2 emissions by about 1-2 percent which would, by itself, represent “a significant first step in reducing emissions by delivering about 15-30 percent of the Copenhagen Accord’s goal.” As for advanced economies, he noted that subsidies most often take the form of taxes that are too low to capture the true costs to society of energy use (“tax subsidies”), including pollution and road congestion. “Eliminating energy tax subsidies would deliver even more significant emissions reductions said Mr. Lipton, reducing “CO2 emissions by 4.5 billion tons, a 13 percent reduction.” […]”<

See on Scoop.itGreen & Sustainable News

The Hidden Costs of Fossil Fuel Dependency

It is estimated that 80 to 85 percent of the energy consumed in the U.S. is from fossil fuels. One of the main reasons given for continuing to use this energy source is that it is much less expensive than alternatives. The true cost, however, depends on what you include in the calculation, and there are so many costs not figured in the bills we pay for energy.

Source: www.huffingtonpost.com

>” […] Just last week, on May 19, a pipeline rupture caused over 100,000 gallons to spill into Santa Barbara waters. The channel where the spill occurred is where warm water from the south mixes with cold water from the north, creating one of most bio-diverse habitats in the world, with over 800 species of sea creatures, from crabs and snails to sea lions and otters, and a forest of kelp and other undersea plants; it’s also a place through which 19,000 gray whales migrate this time each year. […]

Hidden Costs of Using Fossil Fuels for Energy

It is estimated that 80 to 85 percent of the energy consumed in the U.S. is from fossil fuels. One of the main reasons given for continuing to use this energy source is that it is much less expensive than alternatives. The true cost, however, depends on what you include in the calculation. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, there are so many costs not figured in the bills we pay for energy. The following includes just some of them:

  1. Human health problems caused by environmental pollution.
  2. Damage to the food chain from toxins absorbed and passed along.
  3. Damage to miners and energy workers.
  4. Damage to the earth from coal mining and fracking.
  5. Global warming caused by greenhouse gasses.
  6. Acid rain and groundwater pollution.
  7. National security costs from protecting oil sources and from terrorism (some of which is financed by oil revenues).

Additional Costs From Continued Subsidies

That’s not all. In addition to the above costs, each and every U.S. taxpayer has been subsidizing the oil industry since 1916, when the oil depletion allowance was instituted. Government subsidies in the U.S. are estimated to be between $4 billion and $52 billion annually. The worldwide figure is pegged between $775 billion and $1 trillion. Why don’t oil and gas companies and governments around the world divert at least some of these subsidies to invest in alternative clean energy sources? Rather than invest in the depleting and damaging energy sources of the past, isn’t it time to look to the future and stop “kicking the can down the road”?

More Hidden Costs

While some call it an urban legend, others say quite emphatically that the oil industry conspired with the automobile industry and other vested interests to put streetcars out of business so that people would be forced to use automobiles and buses to get from point A to B — selling more automobiles, tires, fuel, insurance, etc. Fact or fiction, many big cities (and especially Los Angeles, where alternatives are sparse) are choking from traffic gridlock. The first study on this subject determined that traffic congestion robbed the U.S. economy of $124 billion in 2013. That’s an annual cost of $1,700 per household. This is expected to waste $2.8 trillion by 2030 if we do not take immediate measures to reverse the situation. For those who are skeptical, visit Los Angeles and try to drive around. Even with Waze, much more time and energy is wasted sitting in traffic than you could ever imagine. A commute that formerly took five to 10 minutes can now take upwards of an hour.

There Is a Solution

The solution to many of the problems related to gridlock, damage to the environment and human health includes the following:

  1. Clean energy and storage. […]
  2. More effective and efficient transportation (clean and safe mass transit […]
  3. Better marketing of, and accounting for, the true cost of the alternatives.
  4. Investment to do it.
  5. Political vision and will to transparently tell the truth and make the investment.

Doing the Right Thing Is Rarely Easy

While what is most worthwhile is rarely easy, it is necessary for the planet and living things that call it home.  […]”<

See on Scoop.itGreen & Sustainable News

Economist reports proposed Site C Dam ‘dramatically’ more costly than BC gov’t claims

Peace Valley Landowners Association commissioned leading U.S. energy economist, Robert McCullough, to look at the business case for what will be province’s most expensive public infrastructure project

Image source:  http://unistotencamp.com/?p=601

Source: www.theglobeandmail.com

>”Just weeks before BC Hydro plans to begin construction of the $8.8-billion Site C project, a new report says the Crown corporation has dramatically understated the cost of producing power from the hydroelectric dam.

…Mr. McCullough, in his report, said it appears the Crown corporation BC Hydro had its thumbs on the scale to make its mega project look better than the private-sector alternatives.

“Using industry standard assumptions, Site C is more than three times as costly as the least expensive option,” Mr. McCullough concluded. “While the cost and choice of options deserve further analysis, the simple conclusion is that Site C is more expensive – dramatically so – than the renewable [and] natural gas portfolios elsewhere in the U.S. and Canada.”

The report challenges a number of assumptions that led the government to conclude that Site C is the cheapest option. Mr. McCullough noted that the province adopted accounting changes last fall that reduced the cost of power generated by Site C. He said those changes are illusory and the costs will eventually have to be paid either by Hydro ratepayers, or provincial taxpayers.

Mr. McCullough, a leading expert on power utilities in the Pacific Northwest, also disputes the rate that BC Hydro used to compare the long-term borrowing cost of capital for Site C against other projects, noting that other major utilities in North America use higher rates for such projects because they are considered risky investments. The so-called discount rate is critical to the overall cost projections, and he said the paper trail on how the Crown arrived at its figure “can only be described as sketchy and inadequate.”

The report, obtained by The Globe and Mail, will be released on Tuesday by the PVLA.

The group will call on Premier Christy Clark to delay construction to allow time for a review by Auditor-General Carol Bellringer.

Ken Boon, president of the association, said the government needs to put the project on hold because it has approved the project based on poor advice. […]”<

See on Scoop.itGreen & Sustainable News

VIDEO: 52kW Solar Install Time Lapse At YHI Auckland

Time Lapse video of rooftop solar panel installation/retrofit.

YHI Power News

View the time lapse and drone footage of our recent 52kW Solar Install at YHI Auckland.

System Specs
• 210X Renesola 250W Virtus II modules.
• 1X Delta RPI M30 Inverter
• 2X Delta RPI M15A Inverters
• Mounting Componentry: S-5 Protea clamps with Neuton Power mounting rail & fittings

Installed by What Power Crisis.

View original post

Company Developing Thermo-Electric Materials for Waste-Heat Energy Recovery

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, has licensed patents on high-temperature thermoelectric materials to Evident Technologies, Troy, New York, which provides these kinds of materials and related power systems.

Source: phys.org

>” […] Thermoelectric materials convert heat into electricity. For example, by using this technology, waste-heat from a car could potentially be fed back into the vehicle and used to generate electricity. This would increase efficiency and deliver low-cost solutions for harvesting waste heat.

“The licensed technology could be applied to convert heat into electricity in a number of waste heat recovery applications, including automobile exhaust and high-temperature industrial processes such as ceramic and glass processing plants,” said Thierry Caillat, task leader for the thermoelectrics team at JPL.

JPL has a long history of high-temperature thermoelectric development driven by the need for space mission power in the absence of sunlight. Many space probes that leave Earth’s orbit use thermoelectrics as their electrical power source.  […]”<

See on Scoop.itGreen Energy Technologies & Development

The Smart City

“With this unprecedented access to information, Smart Cities will deliver new levels of efficiency, effectiveness, safety, reliability, and higher levels of service. This access enables a city to anticipate and prevent problems in areas like reducing accidents by rerouting traffic, and reducing crime by identifying hot spots. New insight also enables the provision of services like finding a parking spot, monitoring air pollution, intelligent lighting, and others. A sense and respond model (a key future enabler) allows for the delivery of many of these services without human intervention.

A next generation of efficiency is also enabled, as asset tracking will streamline operations and insight will deliver unprecedented levels of efficiency. For example, a recent survey of water utilities found a saving potential between $7.1 and $12.5 billion each year through smart water solutions. The chief globalization officer of Cisco has said that smart cities drive energy consumption savings of 30% and water consumption savings of 50%. These environmental benefits include reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving waste management. Boston University Installed self-powered trash receptacles which wirelessly alerted collection vehicles when they were full, resulting in on-campus trash collection being reduced from 14 times per week to an average of 1.6 times per week.

The Smart City

The Smart City is Defined as a developed urban area that creates sustainable economic development and a high quality of life by excelling in multiple key areas; economy, mobility, environment, people, living, and government. Excelling in these key areas requires strong human capital, social capital, and information and communications technology. We are in the early days of an evolution towards Smart Cities, and IDC Government Insights finds that most cities are deploying these projects department by department. In a recent IDC White paper, they provide a maturity model to describe this Smart City evolution…”

Reimagining the Future

Next up in this ongoing look at disruptive scenarios is the Smart City. For the first time in history, more than 50% of the world’s population lives in cities, and that percentage moves to 70% by 2050. This visual effectively captures the dramatic move towards urbanization:

Urbanization Statistics

View original post 1,802 more words

Bosch Buys Arizona Building Technology Firm

“Climatec is an independent single-source integrator of critical building systems including energy services, building automation and security system integration in the U.S. market. The company provides consulting, planning, implementation and around-the-clock remote management of comprehensive comfort, security, safety and efficiency solutions. Climatec is active in education, healthcare, the public sector, industrial/manufacturing, computing services, office buildings, federal, state and local government, hospitality and energy.”

TechCentury.com

FARMINGTON HILLS — Farmington Hills-based Robert Bosch North America Corp. has acquired Climatec LLC, a Phoenix, Ariz.-based provider of energy efficiency, building automation, security and safety products and services.

Climatec generated sales of $170 million in 2013, and according to preliminary figures hit $190 million in sales in 2014. The company employs 670 people at 12 offices in Arizona, California, Nevada and Texas.

Climatec has been owned by Pegasus Capital Advisors, L.P. since April 2012. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

View original post 501 more words

Nonpetroleum share of transportation fuel energy at highest level since 1954

“In the United States, petroleum is by far the most-consumed transportation fuel. But recently the share of fuels other than petroleum for U.S. transportation has increased to its highest level since 1954, a time when the use of coal-fired steam locomotives was declining and automobile use was growing rapidly.”

Source: www.eia.gov

>” […] After nearly 50 years of relative stability at about 4%, the nonpetroleum share started increasing steadily in the mid-2000s, reaching 8.5% in 2014. Of the nonpetroleum fuels used for transportation, fuel ethanol has grown most rapidly in recent years, increasing by nearly one quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) between 2000 and 2014. Nearly all of the ethanol consumed was blended into gasoline in blends of 10% or less, but a small amount was used in vehicles capable of running on higher blends as the availability of those flexible-fuel vehicles grew. Consumption of biodiesel, most of it blended into diesel fuel for use in trucks and buses, grew to more than 180 trillion Btu by 2014.

In 2014, transportation use of natural gas reached a historic high of 946 trillion Btu, 3.5% of all natural gas used in the United States. Transportation natural gas is mostly used in the operation of pipelines, primarily to run compressor stations and to deliver natural gas to consumers. Natural gas used to fuel vehicles, although a much smaller amount, has more than doubled since 2000.

Electricity retail sales to the transportation sector grew more than 40% from 2000 through 2014, although sales have declined slightly since 2007. Electricity for transportation is mostly sold to railroads and railways. However, this increase does not include the consumption of electricity in electric vehicles that are not used in mass transit, because charging stations for these types of vehicles are likely associated with meters on residential, commercial, or industrial customer sites where this specific use may not be differentiated from other uses. […]”<

See on Scoop.itGreen Energy Technologies & Development