Archive for March, 2010

Virginia Re-Opens Solar and Wind Rebate Program!

Posted on March 23, 2010. Filed under: News | Tags: , , , , |

**UPDATE 3/24 The rebate reservation period closed only 2 days after it opened, a sign that Viriginians are hungry for clean energy rebates!

Great news, Virginia residents! Virginia announced yesterday that it was opening up a second round of reservations for solar and wind projects in the state. There is $10 million available for homeowners and small businesses to help finance projects. If you are considering a project, act quickly! The last round of reservations ran out within a matter of days. You do not not have to have a project installed in order to apply, so make sure you get a place in line if you are seriously considering a solar or wind install.

For more information on the program, see the press release from the Virginia Government here.

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Clean Coal – Myth?

Posted on March 22, 2010. Filed under: News | Tags: , , |

The term “clean coal” has firmly implanted itself into the American vernacular in the past year.  Politicians from coal states, energy industry execs, and a large swath of the American public have bought into the idea – but a scaleable working model of carbon sequestration has yet to open in the United States.  

Famed billionaire investor Vinod Khosla, is betting that California based Calera can make it happen.  Calera has found a method of capturing the carbon dioxide emissions of coal and gas power plants and locking it into cement.  In short, the Calera process diverts the gas emissions that usually exit out of a smoke-stack into a large container.  Seawater (which contains calcium, magnesium, and oxygen) is then sprayed through the gas, and the resulting chemical reaction creates little particles of cement and aggregate. 

Many skeptics contend that Calera will find it difficult to build a scaleable model of this process and that the resulting acidic residue from the chemical process will pose a significant problem to the plan.  Mr. Khosla counters that the proof will be in the pudding when Calera and Bechtel open their first commercial plant late next year.     /

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Odd Bedfellows

Posted on March 5, 2010. Filed under: News | Tags: , , |

Palm Beach conjures up images of hedge-hidden mansions and sandy beaches – but in the far western corner of Palm Beach County, FPL Energy (one of the nation’s largest utilities) is nearing completion of what is soon to be the world’s second largest solar array.

The 500 acre field of solar thermal mirrors is being erected adjacent to FPL’s existing natural gas plant – which also happens to be the nation’s largest fossil fuel power plant.  Rather than competing with one another, FPL envisions the energy produced from its solar array as complementing its fossil fuel energy production.  Electricity generated from the sun will allow FPL to cut its natural gas use and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.  It will also provide extra power when there is highest demand for it: when the summer sun is shining and Floridians crank up their air-conditioning.  FPL also expects to save as compared to building a stand-alone solar facility, since it does not have to build a new steam turbine or new high-power transmission lines.

These symbiotic hybrid power plants also present a solution to what is one of the biggest issues facing energy production in America – variability of demand.  Because electricity cannot be stored easily, utilities must always produce enough power to meet electric demand at any given time.  In practice, this means that a lot of power is wasted, as it’s put on the back-burner, idling for when demand spikes.  In hybrid plants, utilities can maximize the intermittent power generated by renewable sources but will have a big and reliable backup with their fossil fuel plants.

Many utility executives see this power generation approach as the logical and cost-effective path towards ramping renewable energy up while still maintaining power stability.

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