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

Madrid upgrades with World’s largest street lighting project

To support its ambition of becoming a Smart City, the Spanish capital, Madrid, is embarking on the world’s largest street lighting upgrade project. Philips is providing the city’s government with 225,000 new energy-efficient lights for the renewal of the entire street lighting system.

Source: traffictechnologytoday.com

>”The products, which deliver 44% in energy savings, will finance the cost of the technology upgrade, providing Madrid with the best quality of street lighting for a brighter, safer and ‘smarter’ city at no additional cost to its citizens. The project has been conducted in collaboration with ESCO energy service companies hired by the Madrid city council through a public bidding process. […]”<

See on Scoop.itGreen & Sustainable News

California’s PG&E Takes Grid Energy Storage to the Distribution Substation

California’s utilities are building a 1.3-gigawatt energy storage system, one piece at a time.

Source: www.greentechmedia.com

>” […] PG&E’s solicitation (PDF) is one of the first rounds from the 74 megawatts of storage projects the utility is set to announce by December. That, in turn, is part of the first procurement round for the state’s 1.3-gigawatt mandate for storage by 2021, which is requiring PG&E, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric to sign up about 200 megawatts of cost-effective grid storage by year’s end.

[…]

Some of these projects will be aggregating distributed, behind-the-meter batteries to help solve local grid needs. But PG&E’s substation RFO is aimed strictly at utility-owned and -operated battery systems — which makes sense, because PG&E is justifying its cost by showing how much it saves by not building or upgrading new substations.

[…]

PG&E’s cost-benefit calculation for these projects is fairly straightforward — subtract the cost of upgrading the substation from the cost of the battery system. Still, the duty cycle being asked of these energy storage systems (ESS) is pretty severe, according to the RFO:

“[T]his is defined as discharging the ESS from 100% state of charge (SOC) at guaranteed maximum power for the guaranteed discharge duration, then charging it to back to 100% SOC and subsequently discharging it at guaranteed maximum power for half of the guaranteed discharge duration, and finally charging it back to 100% SOC during the course of a single day. The ESS shall be capable of performing the guaranteed site specific duty cycle for up to 365 days per year excluding time for planned maintenance and/or forced outages.”

[…]

Asset or investment deferral of this kind is actually a significant route to market for existing battery-based grid storage systems, with projects around the world allowing stressed-out substations to keep operating for years longer by cushioning the peaks with stored battery power. In fact, PG&E has a 2-megawatt project in Vacaville that’s serving that purpose for a transmission substation.

But the new projects are some of the first targeting the medium- and low-voltage distribution grid, where the rules for batteries are different. California regulators are asking the state’s big utilities to come up with ways to value distributed energy assets — solar panels, batteries, plug-in vehicles, smart thermostats and other grid-edge systems — in their multi-billion-dollar, multi-year distribution grid investment plans.

PG&E didn’t disclose how much investment it’s hoping to defer with these new projects, or how much it planned to pay for them. But the numbers could be significant. In New York City, utility Consolidated Edison is proposing a plan to replace $1 billion in substation upgrades with a mix of energy efficiency, demand response, and distributed energy resources like rooftop solar and energy storage.”<

See on Scoop.itGreen Energy Technologies & Development

New York to Retrofit 250,000 Streetlights With Energy-Saving LED Bulbs

See on Scoop.itGreen Energy Technologies & Development

The phaseout is part of a long-term plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2017 and, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said, would save taxpayers money.

Duane Tilden‘s insight:

>The news conference was on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, where lights have already been replaced, expecting to save more than $70,000 and nearly 248,000 kilowatt-hours a year in energy. Unlike standard lights, which last six years, LED bulbs can burn for 20 years before they need to be replaced, the administration said, and the project is expected to save $14 million a year in energy and maintenance costs. […]

“People tend to like them,” she said. “It’s clear. It’s bright. It really does a good job in providing fresher light.” The project is estimated to cost $76.5 million.

The project is the first to receive financing through the Accelerated Conservation and Efficiency initiative or “ACE,” the administration said, a $100 million competitive program that the Department of Citywide Administrative Services created to expedite such sustainability projects.<

See on www.nytimes.com

DOE Regulations: Energy Efficiency Improvements for Motors cause Industry Challenges

See on Scoop.itGreen Building Design – Architecture & Engineering

The United States has had efficiency regulations for industrial electric motors in place since October 1997, when the Energy Policy Act of 1992 (EPAct 92) set minimum efficiency levels for 1- to 200-hp general-purpose three phase motors. EPAct 92 was upgraded when the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) went into effect in December 2010.

Duane Tilden‘s insight:

>Several years ago, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) conducted a technical study as to what could be done to raise the efficiency levels of “small” motors. After years of study and litigation, the Small Motor Rule was passed that covers two-digit NEMA frame single- and three-phase 1/3 through 3 horsepower motors in Open enclosures.

Although the Small Motor Rule seems simple, it has the effect of creating motors with much larger footprints, particularly on single phase designs where capacitor start/induction run motors may largely be discontinued in Open enclosures. In some cases, a TEFC motor may be more cost effective and smaller than an Open motor.

The DOE is presently conducting another technical study on “medium” AC induction motors of 1- to 500-hp. In their study, DOE is evaluating a possible increase in nominal motor efficiency of 1 – 3 NEMA bands (approximately 0.4 to 1.5%) above NEMA Premium Efficiency levels as defined in MG 1-2011 table 12-12. Although this sounds simple to do, such a motor redesign could entail new laminations, winding equipment and in many cases, new frames to fit the extra material. Some designs may not fit where existing motor designs of the same ratings fit today. This means that OEMs would need to redesign their machine if that is an issue and end users may have trouble fitting the new higher efficiency replacement motor into their equipment or existing envelope.<

See on www.designworldonline.com

Unclean at Any Speed – IEEE Spectrum

See on Scoop.itGreen Energy Technologies & Development

Electric cars don’t solve the automobile’s environmental problems

Duane Tilden‘s insight:

>Two dozen governments around the world subsidize the purchase of electric vehicles. In Canada, for example, the governments of Ontario and Quebec pay drivers up to C $8500 to drive an electric car. The United Kingdom offers a £5000 Plug-in Car Grant. And the U.S. federal government provides up to $7500 in tax credits for people who buy plug-in electric vehicles, even though many of them are affluent enough not to need such help. (The average Chevy Volt owner, for example, has an income of $170 000 per year.)

Some states offer additional tax incentives. California brings the total credit up to $10 000, and Colorado to $13 500—more than the base price of a brand new Ford Fiesta. […]

There are other perks. Ten U.S. states open the high-occupancy lanes of their highways to electric cars, even if the car carries a lone driver. Numerous stores offer VIP parking for electric vehicles—and sometimes a free fill-up of electrons. Mayor Johnson even moved to relieve electric-car owners of the burden of London’s famed congestion fee.

Alas, these carrots can’t overcome the reality that the prices of electric cars are still very high—a reflection of the substantial material and fossil-fuel costs that accrue to the companies constructing them. And some taxpayers understandably feel cheated that these subsidies tend to go to the very rich. Amid all the hype and hyperbole, it’s time to look behind the curtain. Are electric cars really so green?

It’s worth noting that this investigation was commissioned by the U.S. Congress and therefore funded entirely with public, not corporate, money.  […]

Part of the impact arises from manufacturing. Because battery packs are heavy (the battery accounts for more than a third of the weight of the Tesla Roadster, for example), […] Electric motors and batteries add to the energy of electric-car manufacture.

In addition, the magnets in the motors of some electric vehicles contain rare earth metals. […]

The materials used in batteries are no less burdensome to the environment, the MIT study noted. Compounds such as lithium, copper, and nickel must be coaxed from the earth and processed in ways that demand energy and can release toxic wastes. […]

See on spectrum.ieee.org