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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

IKEA Outfits Two East Coast Stores with Solar Panels

Home furnishings retailer IKEA will begin solar rooftop installations on two East Coast stores in Paramus, New Jersey and Stoughton, Massachusetts. The project will begin in early 2011 with completion expected by spring.

The solar energy system at the Paramus location will install 132,000 sq. ft., 4,600 panels expected to generate 1,354,000 kWh/year at 1,058 kW. The project is calculated to reduce the equivalent of 1,072 tons of CO2 emissions.

The project at the Stoughton location will cover 79,000 sq. ft., at 630 kW; 2,800 panels expected to generate 725,000 kWh/year. The project is calculated to reduce the equivalent of 574 tons of CO2 emissions.

For these Paramus and Stoughton projects, IKEA contracted with REC Solar, a solar electric installer specialized in grid-tied solar electric design and installation.

The project will increase to 13 the number of IKEA retail locations outfitted with a solar energy resource, and the two east coast projects are the largest store-top solar installations for IKEA in the U.S.

IKEA has plans to install solar energy panels on eight of its California locations and it already has solar energy systems operational in Brooklyn, N.Y.; Pittsburgh, Pa.; and Tempe, Ariz. as well as solar water heating systems in Charlotte, N.C.; Draper, Utah, Orlando, Fla. and Tampa, Fla. The Centennial, Colo. store under construction will have a geothermal system.

In addition, IKEA Canada claims its new solar initiative will make it the first retailer to exclusively own, install and operate what will be the largest rooftop solar panel network in Ontario under a feed-in tariff (FIT) program.  source: environmental leader

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Monday, December 27, 2010

Mercedes-Benz adds 'Green' features to plant

Fuel-efficiency and "greener" vehicles might be the trend in autos, but the technology is showing up in more than just the SUVs at Mercedes-Benz U.S. International.

It also is being installed  in the sprawling auto plant's buildings.

The Vance plant recently installed solar panels on the roof of its Visitor Center and the adjoining Bill Taylor Institute that will be used to heat the building's water.

"We are doing the finishing tie-ins now, and it should be online about the first of the year," said Phil Onstott, assistant manager of Mercedes' facility engineering department.

Onstott said the new water heater employs a hybrid technology that will use solar power to heat water but also have the ability to switch to natural gas when more hot water is needed.

Mercedes does not disclose the costs of such investments, but Onstott said it hopes to save money on its water heating. The solar-natural gas water heating will be monitored closely by computers, and "if it works out, we could put more in the plant," he said.

The project started when Alagasco approached Mercedes to see if it would be interested in trying the new solar-natural gas water heating technology, said Onstott, a 15-year Mercedes employee who describes his department as "the MBUSI engineers who have nothing to do with auto production."

The new water heating system will be similar to conventional water heaters in which cooler water flows into a tank and is heated by natural gas power flame or electricity. With the new system, the water will be warmed by the heat generated from the solar panels. If it is nighttime, too cloudy or more hot water is needed, the natural gas burners will kick in to assure a steady supply of warm water, Onstott said.

In that way, the system is similar to the hybrid sport utility vehicles being made in Vance. The vehicles run on electrically charged batteries but can switch automatically to gasoline or diesel when extra power is needed.

The solar water heating is just one of the "green" technologies being embraced at MBUSI.

Early in 2011, the company also will install solar- and wind-powered collectors on top of two light poles at its Plant 1 entrance. The power generated by the solar and wind collectors will be stored in batteries in the base of the poles and will power the poles' hybrid LED roadway lights.

The poles will not be wired into an electrical grid like most street lights, Onstott said, and will rely on just the sun and wind. One battery charge will be sufficient to power a light for three nights, he said.

The wind turbine will have cylinders to collect wind power and will not have the windmill-like propellers traditionally seen on wind-powered projects. The cylinder collectors, unlike the propellers, will make the project bird-friendly, Onstott said.

The wind power will light the road lights night and day and will operate quietly, he said.

"Both projects are production trials in a way," Onstott said. "They are our way of checking out various energy-efficiency technologies as we consider options that may be useful for the rest of our operations."

In a third "green" project, MBUSI plans to replace the high-intensity discharge lighting in its production plant with high-efficiency flow lighting next year.

That work will start in January and will be done in phases so as not to disrupt production. Onstott said when the new lighting is completely installed, the plant should save about 12,000 megawatts of electricity yearly.

Production workers also will notice the difference with the new lighting being a little brighter, he said.

All the efforts are ways to continue reduction of MBUSI's carbon footprint, he said. This past spring, the company reached a milestone when its internal recycling efforts resulted in zero waste going to landfills, he said.

"Everything from the plant either gets reused or recycled now."    Read full article

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Solar Panels Could Resurrect the Passe Flip Phone

The Chinese telecom giant's award-winning "Double" cell phone design updates the traditional flip phone for a solar-powered future.

Are flip phones passé in a post-iPhone world? Chinese telecom company ZTE doesn't think so: their concept for the "Double" phone, which sports solar panels on both sides of its attractive clamshell body, just won a prestigious 2010 Red Dot Design Concept award.

The insight is simple: If cell phone batteries suck, why not put the flip-phone's extra real estate -- especially the part that's waving around untouched in midair when you hold it -- to use powering the device itself? And so what if your hand is covering up half the available solar cells when you're dialing or talking -- it's still better than nothing. The tradeoff is that when the phone is sitting around in standby, you can angle it so that the photovoltaic shell draws in the most life-giving rays possible.

Even better, the Double's full-flex hinge lets you place the phone's 3.2-inch LCD screen in an optimal position for hands-free reading or video-viewing. It's manufactured from recyclable materials and even has a touchscreen interface, so you won't feel left out in a crowd full of glass slabs.
Source: Fast Company
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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Better Place and Renault Delivering 115,000 Electric Cars in 2011

Electric automobile manufacturer Better Place has scored its latest coup: A deal with Renault to deliver 100,000+ electric cars to Danish and Israeli consumers.

On October 1, 2011, the largest electric car rollout in history--complete with charging stations and battery exchanges--will take place in the Middle East and Europe. Better Place and Renault, who have a long working relationship, will make 115,000 automobiles available to the public in Denmark and Israel. According to a presentation given to Deutsche Bank, the release will also include a joint partnership with General Electric.

Bringing automobiles to market has always been the weak point for all vendors of electric cars. Better Place announced earlier this month that their deal with Renault for the Israeli and Danish markets was finalized. Under the conditions of the agreement, Better Place has agreed to purchase 115,000 Renault Fluence Z.E. Electric sedans. The automobiles are manufactured in Bursa, Turkey and 660 preproduction units have already been unveiled. A separate electric compact model may also be placed on the Israeli and Danish markets. While traveling at or below the speed limit, the Renault Fluence is able to travel for approximately 110 miles before needing a charge.  read full story

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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Port adds 5,000 Solar Panels to Cruise Terminal Rooftop

Energy generated from the sun's rays will help power facilities at the Port of Los Angeles, with help from 5,000 solar panels that were recently installed, officials announced Thursday.

The solar panels, spanning 71,500 square feet on the port's cruise terminal rooftop, are capable of generating one megawatt that will be routed to the city's power grid, leading to about $200,000 in annual savings.

The project is expected to reduce about 22,800 metric tons of carbon dioxide over the system's 25-year lifespan, the equivalent of taking 4,367 cars off the street, port officials said.

"We are thrilled to now be harnessing the power of the plentiful Southern California sun to reduce carbon emissions, improve air quality and increase economic opportunities for Los Angeles businesses and residents," said Geraldine Knatz, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles.

The project marks the first phase of a $10.8 million solar program that will eventually produce 10 megawatts, set for completion over the next five years.

The Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners agreed last March to install a total of 1.16 million square feet of solar panels covering the rooftops of port businesses and structures.

The solar panel plan was unveiled in December 2007 by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and state Attorney General Jerry Brown. The project falls in line with Villaraigosa's "Green LA" plan to reduce global warming by boosting the use of renewable energy.

"Clean energy is essential if we are to meet the future growth and development needs of Los Angeles," Villaraigosa said. "This solar project and others being initiated within our city will not only reduce our carbon footprint, but also add meaningful new jobs to our green sector work force."
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