When we talk about transportation, even when we bring it to the most basic level, walking, there is the use of energy that drives the process. For us humans is that calories we consume that energize our system so that we my get around, and live our daily lives. When it comes to our energy sources for our vehicles traditionally it has been fossil fuels that have driven the combustion engine that moved us around. Well today there are many exciting alternatives that are already in good use, from Bio-Fuels, electricity, propane and even more efficient fuels itself believe it or not. ReNewable Now's, "Powering It Up," is where science meets creativity and we really see innovation taking place at a rapid scale. Here we will introduce you to the companies and people who are leading the way when it comes to finding those alternative energize sources we need to help us get to where we are going.

Solar PV And Electric Vehicles

Could Topple Fossil Fuel

A new report warns fossil fuels may lose 10 per cent of market share to solar panels and electric vehicles within just a decade; enough to cripple energy incumbents.

A new report forecasts that fossil fuels may lose 10 per cent of market share to solar panels and electric vehicles within a single decade.

The report from the Imperial College London and think-tank Carbon Tracker Initiative suggests that energy companies are seriously underestimating the impact of electric vehicles and solar panels. Such technology could be so disruptive that, by 2020, the global demand for coal and oil could peak and start to decline.

The report, called ‘Expect the unexpected: The disruptive power of low-carbon technology’, warns that fossil fuels may lose 10 per cent of market share to solar panels and electric vehicles within a single decade. In the past, a similar 10 per cent loss of power market share caused the collapse of the US coal mining industry.

Similarly, Europe's five major utilities lost more than €100 billion in value from 2008 to 2013 because they were unprepared for an 8 per cent growth in renewable power, of which solar panels played a big part.

According to the report, growth in electric vehicles alone could lead to two million barrels of oil per day (mbd) being displaced by 2025 - the same volume that caused a major oil price collapse in 2014-15. The report finds 16mbd of oil demand displaced by 2040 and 25mbd by 2050.

This contrasts with expectations of big energy companies - in which oil demand continues to grow -  and could have implications for the way they conduct their business.

“Electric vehicles and solar power are game-changers that the fossil fuel industry consistently underestimates. Further innovation could make our scenarios look conservative in five years’ time, in which case the demand misread by companies will have been amplified even more,” said Luke Sussams, senior researcher at Carbon Tracker.

The report explores how plausible advances in solar panels and electric vehicles could affect future fossil fuel demand alongside efforts to reach international climate targets. It models a range of scenarios using the latest data and market projections for future cost reductions in these technologies, with varying levels of global climate policy effort and energy demand.

Emerging technology, such as printable solar panels, could mean the scenarios used in the study in fact still underestimate growth in the renewables sector.

View the full report here.

Biogas, Can It Drive Economic

and Environmental Development


The newly founded World Biogas Association (WBA) has launched its first biogas advocacy report that presents the evidence to support the need for wide adoption of anaerobic digestion and biogas technologies in order to meet the UNFCCC COP 21 Commitments and UN Sustainable Development Goals. With the ability to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by close to 20%, the potential of these technologies to contribute to a sustainable and carbon-neutral future is immense.

Launching the report, WBA President David Newman said, "The WBA report clearly illustrates how biogas capture and use can contribute an enormous amount to economic and environmental development globally. Whether we consider energy production, agriculture, public health or cleaner air in our cities, biogas can become a driver for positive change in our communities. Now is the time to increase the tempo of biogas uptake and bring these benefits to a wider, global community. The WBA aims to be a platform for collaboration, knowledge and best-practice sharing. We look forward to participation from companies, associations, universities, professionals, intergovernmental and other organisations from across all sectors of the economy."

The report highlights:

  • The global variation in scale of implementation of anaerobic digestion (from four cow micro-digesters to multiple megawatt landfill gas capture);

  • Feedstocks used (food waste and industrial effluents, sewage and wastewater, livestock manures, crops and crop residues);

  •  Uses of biogas/landfill gas and by-products (electricity, heat, biomethane, digestate)

 Is Biogas something that has interested you or your organization? If it is let us know at and will help to connect you to further resources, and continue we'll to followup with similar articles.

Historic First Wood-to-Jet-Fuel Commercial Flight

Photo Credit: USDA

Last week, Alaska Airlines landed the first commercial flight powered in part by a new renewable fuel made of wood waste salvaged from private lands in Washington, Oregon and Montana. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack greeted the passengers for flight AS-4 arriving from Seattle at Washington Reagan National Airport to highlight this breakthrough in bioenergy that supports jobs and rural economies by developing a sustainable bio-products industry in the Pacific Northwest utilizing wood harvest left-overs that would otherwise go to waste.

This flight is the culmination of a five-year, $39.6 million research and education project supported by USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), and led by Washington State University and theNorthwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA). Launched in 2011, NARA has advanced research into biofuels and biochemicals, fostered the Northwest regional biofuel industry and helped educate tomorrow's workforce on renewable energy.

"In 2011, USDA awarded our largest-ever competitive research grant to the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance, betting on the promise that cellulose-rich, discarded wood products could be a viable renewable fuel source instead of going to waste. Today, we are able to celebrate the results of that investment, which is a major advancement for clean alternatives to conventional fossil fuels," said Vilsack. "Over the course of the Obama Administration, USDA has invested $332 million to accelerate cutting-edge research and development on renewable energy, making it possible for planes, ships and automobiles to run on fuel made from municipal waste, beef fat, agricultural byproducts and other low-value sources. All of this creates extra income sources for farmers and ranchers, is bringing manufacturing jobs back to rural America, and is keeping our country at the forefront of clean energy and innovation. We must continue to focus on targeted investments to help the rural economy retool itself for the 21st century."

The demonstration flight used a 20 percent blend of jet fuel made from cellulose derived from limbs and branches that typically remain on the ground after the harvesting of sustainably managed private forests, known as harvest residuals. Cellulose, the main component of wood, is the most abundant material in nature and has long been a subject of investigation for producing sustainable biofuels. The harvest residuals used to make fuel for this flight came from forests owned by Weyerhaeuser in Washington and Oregon, the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe in Washington and the Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribes in Montana. The biofuel used is chemically indistinguishable from regular commercial jet fuel.

In addition to producing 1,080 gallons of biofuel used for the flight, other key tasks of the NARA project included evaluating the economic, environmental and societal benefits and impacts associated with harvesting unused forest residuals for biofuel production. NARA's 32 member organizations from industry, academia and government laboratories take a holistic approach to building an aviation biofuel supply chain within Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. The NARA initiative has also resulted in more than 50 peer-reviewed research publications in 2016 related to the development of biofuels and other products from residual wood, the development of teacher's guides and lesson plans on renewable energy, a biofuels webinar series, and the NARA Knowledge Base, an ongoing clearinghouse of biofuel information.

Alaska Airlines estimates that if it were able to replace 20 percent of its entire fuel supply at Sea-Tac Airport with biofuel, it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 142,000 metric tons of CO2. This is equivalent to taking approximately 30,000 passenger vehicles off the road for one year.

Since 2009, USDA has invested $19 billion in research both intramural and extramural. During that time, research conducted by USDA scientists has resulted in 883 patent applications filed, 405 patents issued and 1,151 new inventions disclosures covering a wide range of topics and discoveries. To learn more about how USDA supports cutting edge science and innovation, visit the USDA Medium chapter Food and Ag Science Will Shape Our Future.

USDA puts cutting-edge innovation to good use by exploring innovative uses for bioproducts. The Department has invested nearly $1 billion to support over 230 wood energy projects across the country to reduce reliance on costly fossil fuels, support rural economic growth and advance forest restoration. Since 2013, the Forest Service has also established cooperative agreements with 16 states to support Statewide Wood Energy Teams to increase the knowledge and use of wood energy. Read more atPowering America with a More Sustainable Energy Future.

NIFA invests in and advances innovative and transformative initiatives to solve societal challenges and ensure the long-term viability of agriculture. NIFA's integrated research, education and extension programs support the best and brightest scientists and extension personnel whose work results in user-inspired, groundbreaking discoveries that combat childhood obesity, improve and sustain rural economic growth, address water availability issues, increase food production, find new sources of energy, mitigate climate variability, and ensure food safety.

The Dutch Revolution in smart charging

of electric vehicles


By turning itself into one huge Living Lab for Smart Charging of electric vehicles, the Netherlands is fast becoming the international frontrunner for smart charging EV's, using them to store peak power production of solar and wind. Already 325 municipalities (including Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht and The Hague) have joined the Dutch Living Lab Smart Charging representing 80 percent of all public charging stations. It's also supported by the Dutch government.  

Adding to this some large players on private and semi-private charging stations such as The New Motion and EV-Box have joined. Very soon all Dutch charging stations will be open for tests and research projects.

The Living Lab Smart Charging is an open platform where companies (from multinationals to small tech start-ups, both national and international), universities, local and regional governments and grid operators cooperate. They operate an ambitious three step program.

Step 1. Make as many charging stations ready for Smart Charging. A huge upgrade operation is now taking place across the country making sure the existing charging stations will be able to technically facilitate Smart Charging. All new stations already are Smart Charging Ready, such as the 2.500 new charging points being rolled out by the Southern provinces of Noord-Brabant and Limburg.

Step 2. Use those innovative stations for research and testing of Smart Charging. Eg. there's an App (by Jedlix) that allows it's users to earn money by using technology to charge the car in the middle of the night when the wind is still producing power but there is little demand for it. In Utrecht 'vehicle to grid' is being tested together with Renault: charging the electric car with solar panels and using it as storage to put power back into the grid when the sun is no longer shining.

Step 3. Putting all innovation, tests and research findings into international standards so everyone can benefit from the Dutch experience with Smart Charging.

The ultimate goal of the Dutch Living Lab Smart Charging: all electric cars driving on the power of the sun and the wind. The idea of the Living Lab Smart Charging is explained in this premiering short animation.

Design Contest Winner Could Save

Trucking Industry Billions in Fuel Costs


Hyliion of Pittsburgh, PA, developer of a hybrid electric technology for semi-trailers, has been awarded a grand prize of $20,000 in the 2016 "Create the Future" Design Contest.  Hyliion's system hybridizes the trailer portion of the tractor-trailer combination and uses regenerative braking to capture power – saving over 30% on fuel and decreasing emissions by 10%.

Hyliion's technology was among over 1,100 new product ideas submitted in the 14th annual design contest, which was established in 2002 to recognize and reward engineering innovations that benefit humanity, the environment, and the economy. This year's design contest was co-sponsored by COMSOL ( and Mouser Electronics ( Analog Devices and Intel were supporting sponsors.

"The Hyliion team is honored to be the Grand Prize winner of the prestigious Create the Future Contest," said Thomas Healy, CEO and Founder of Hyliion.  "It is a tremendous validation of the impact the Hyliion Intelligent Electric Drive Axle System will have on the trucking industry…and the environment."

"Design innovation is bringing a brighter future to businesses, people, and the planet," said Bernt Nilsson, Senior VP of Marketing with COMSOL, Inc. "This year's Create the Future Design Contest shines the light on over a thousand innovators from around the globe and their brilliant designs. COMSOL is grateful to be a sponsor of the contest and we are delighted by the work of all participants contributing to a better tomorrow."

"As a global distributor of new components and technologies, we are very excited to see the amazing ingenuity behind this year's group of Create the Future entries," said Kevin Hess, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Mouser Electronics.  "We'd like to congratulate the winners and commend the entrants for their creative designs. Engineers and innovators really deserve the credit for the incredible developments we are seeing today in electronic design."

Getting Off the Grid In Honolulu


The term "off the grid" usually refers to people who choose to isolate themselves from society. But for Holu Energy, a tenant in Real Office Centers' Honolulu, Hawaii office, getting off the main grid isn't about retreating from society — it's about helping it to be more energy efficient and connected.

"We aspire to be the preeminent energy development company in the Pacific region," says Ted Peck, the CEO and lead developer at Holu Energy. "We currently have a focus on micro-grids powered by solar."

Micro-grids are smaller power grids within a community, such as a neighborhood or university, that exist to serve the specific needs of that smaller area. Because they have a narrower focus, micro-grids are often more reliable, more efficient, and more affordable for consumers.

Holu Energy is a leader in micro-grid development both in Hawaii, and in the entire Pacific region. The company is currently working to spread awareness of micro-grids, and to make them a leading source of energy for Hawaiians.

"We are in the process of placing into service two micro-grids we have completed with our technology partner," Peck says. "They are the first commercial integrated solar and storage projects on grid in Hawaii. In the months ahead, as we put them through their paces, we expect to be able to demonstrate a wide range of capabilities that will benefit people in Hawaii and beyond."

Holu Energy is a partner of EnSync Energy Systems, whose website describes it in the following way:

"EnSync Energy Systems is enabling the future of electricity with advanced energy management systems critical to a global economy becoming increasingly reliant upon the expansion of renewable energy."

Before founding Holu Energy, Peck served as the energy administrator of Hawaii, and helped to develop the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative. The desire to end Hawaii's dependence on fossil fuel inspired him to start the company in 2010.

Peck says that collaboration is key to what Holu Energy does, meaning that he and his colleagues are right at home in the ROC Honolulu office.

"Our team thoroughly enjoys our work environment," he says. "We have a wide range of clients and partners that come and collaborate with us, and the ROC culture promotes and enables rich and open collaboration."

Although Peck and Holu Energy have ambitious goals related to progressing the usage of micro-grids, Peck expects that his company will continue to be a big presence in the ROC Honolulu office for years to come.

"We will continue to invite partners and customers into the ROC space, communicating our forward-thinking and innovative culture," he says. "ROC definitely adds to that vibe."

First Aeroplane Efficiency World Record established

on a C182 equipped with SMA Aero-diesel engine


Thierry Saint Loup (left) and Ross McCurdy after completing the Fuel Efficiency World Record Flight at Essex County Airport Caldwell, New Jersey.

ReNewable Now was a proud sponsor and supporter of Ross McCurdy, our very own 2015 Teacher of TheYear, in this historic event.
On Tuesday, July 12, the two pilot team completed a flight to establish the first Aeroplane Efficiency World Record in the C-1-c class as sanctioned by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (the organization sanctioning aviation world records). Ross McCurdy, a high school teacher in Rhode Island, Thierry Saint Loup, an executive at SMA Engines (Safran Group) in Texas took off from the Essex County airport in New Jersey on July 12th in a Cessna 182 from the Paramus Flying Club equipped with a highly efficient compression ignition engine from SMA. The triangular course was

was 848 Nm (1572 km) completed in 9.1 hrs using only 56 gallons of fuel resulting in an efficiency of 15.1 Nm per gallon, a world record in its class.


Take Off:  Tuesday July 12th 2016          9:29 AM  EST

Landing:  same day                                  6:35 PM  EST

KCDW Essex County Airport Caldwell, New Jersey


Flight Time:  9 hours 6 minutes


The Bioplane was weighed prior to taking off from Caldwell Airport and weighed again after landing at Caldwell to determine the amount of fuel used and the efficiency attained.


Fuel Used: 56 gallons of aviation biofuel blend

6.18 gallons per hour  


Flight Route: KCDW to KBUF to KPYM back to KCDW

Essex County Airport Caldwell, New Jersey to Buffalo, New York to Portland, Maine and back to Caldwell


This achievement sets an efficiency standard for the new generation of piston engines operating on jet fuel, or biofuel blends. The SR305-230 engine produced by SMA (Safran Group) is a certified piston engine in production operating on Jet fuel designed specifically for operation in light aircraft with its simple design, redundant systems and light weight consuming up to 40% less fuel than current gasoline engines. Its installation on the C182 is FAA and EASA approved under a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) developed by SMA and now available from Soloy Aviation Solutions in Olympia, Washington. Due to its high efficiency, this engine allows the C182 to fly up to 1300 Nm non-stop, or to carry more payload for shorter missions, a significant advantage over the Avgas engine it replaces.


The flight was completed near max gross weight in a standard, FAA certified configuration without any modification that would have required placing it in experimental category. This efficiency record is therefore achievable in just about any aircraft equipped with an SMA engine. This World Record also demonstrates the potential of aviation biofuels and all renewable energy, as the flight was completed using 50% biofuel from the Camelina plant seed oil.


USDA Announces More Than $8 Million in Payments to Support the Production of Advanced Biofuel


The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $8.8 million to boost the production of advanced biofuels and sustain jobs at renewable energy facilities in 39 states. USDA continues to lead the way in promotion of advanced biofuel production, from implementing the revised Farm Billbio-refinery program to the launching of the Green Fleet with the Department of the Navy and developing the Biogas Opportunities Roadmap, which outlines voluntary strategies to overcome barriers to expansion and development of a robust biogas industry within the United States.

"Advanced biofuels expand America's energy options and increase our sources of homegrown, renewable energy," Vilsack said. "These payments not only help to spur biofuel production, but also protect the environment and help create jobs by building a renewable energy economy in rural areas."

The funding is being provided through USDA's Advanced Biofuel Payment Program, which was established in the 2008 Farm Bill. Payments are made to biofuels producers based on the amount of advanced biofuels produced from renewable biomass, other than corn kernel starch. Examples of eligible feedstocks include crop residue, food and yard waste, vegetable oil, and animal fat. Through this program to date, USDA has made $308 million in payments to 382 producers in 47 states and territories. These payments have produced enough biofuel to provide more than 391 billion kilowatt hours of electric energy.

Secretary Vilsack has recognized the biobased economy as one of the pillars that strengthen rural communities. Through the Advanced Biofuel Payment Program and other USDA programs, USDA is working to support the research, investment and infrastructure necessary to build a strong biofuels industry that creates jobs and broadens the range of feedstocks used to produce renewable fuel. Over the course of this Administration, USDA has invested $332 million to accelerate research on renewable energy ranging from genomic research on bioenergy feedstock crops, to development of biofuel conversion processes and costs/benefit estimates of renewable energy production.

In January, Secretary Vilsack joined Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus to launch the Great Green Fleet, and witnessed destroyer USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110) being replenished with advanced biofuel made from waste beef fat. Aviation biofuels, like those used by the Navy, are creating new markets for energy created from agricultural waste products.

USDA has also supported efforts to build six new biorefineries to produce advanced biofuels in Louisiana, Georgia, Oregon, Nevada, North Carolina, and Iowa, in addition to three existing facilities in New Mexico, Michigan and Florida.

Investments in renewable energy and the biobased economy are a leading part of USDA's commitment to mitigating climate change and promoting a clean-energy economy. This month, the Department is examining what a changing climate means to agriculture and how USDA is working to reduce greenhouse gases. For more information, visit Chapter 5 of is an external link or third-party site outside of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) website..

Quad County Corn Processors Co-Op of Galva, Iowa, is receiving a $2,011 payment to convert more than 39 million gallons of corn kernel fiber into 660,000 gallons of cellulosic ethanol. The company converts the fiber into ethanol and other products using a process developed by its own research team.

Scott Petroleum Corporation in Itta Bena, Miss., is receiving a $13,165 payment to produce more than 2.6 million gallons of biodiesel from 3 million gallons of waste, non-food grade corn and catfish oil and poultry fat. The biodiesel is distributed throughout Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

View the complete list of producers receiving payments.

These payments build on USDA's historic investments in rural America over the past seven years. Since 2009, USDA has worked to strengthen and support rural communities and American agriculture, an industry that supports one in 11 U.S. jobs, provides consumers with more than 80 percent of our food, ensures that Americans spend less of their paychecks at the grocery store than most people in other countries, and supports markets for homegrown renewable energy and materials.

USDA has developed new markets for rural-made products, including more than 2,500 biobased products through USDA's BioPreferred program since 2009; and has invested $64 billion in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve the quality of life in rural America.

Since 2009, USDA's Rural Development agency (@usdaRDThis is an external link or third-party site outside of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) website.) has invested $11 billion to start or expand 103,000 rural businesses; helped 1.1 million rural residents buy homes; funded nearly 7,000 community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care facilities; financed 185,000 miles of electric transmission and distribution lines; and helped bring high-speed Internet access to nearly 6 million rural residents and businesses. For more information, visit

Advancements in Battery Technology for
Heavy Duty Transit


Proterra, the market leader of zero-emission, battery-electric buses in North America, today announced a new battery design for the Proterra Catalyst® XR transit vehicle at the American Public Transportation Association Bus and Paratransit Conference (APTA), a gathering for U.S. transit agencies to showcase the best innovations in mass transit. Within the same energy storage footprint as the original Catalyst XR, the battery-enhanced vehicle now holds 28 percent more energy at 330 kWh and a best-in-market lightweight vehicle body. All current Catalyst XR customers will receive a complimentary upgrade to the higher energy level.

"Our goal is to enable a complete replacement of fossil-fueled transit vehicles," said Ryan Popple, CEO of Proterra. "By steadily improving the range and charging capability of our purpose-built EV transit vehicles, we're broadening the market for EV transit very quickly, enabling more cities and more routes to go Zero Emission sooner."

Since establishing its state-of-the-art battery-engineering lab in Silicon Valley, Proterra has attracted world-class engineers from leading technology companies to design batteries specifically for heavy-duty EV transit. With extensive background in mechanical, electrical and battery systems engineering, the team architected a new Catalyst XR battery pack for optimal efficiency which now delivers additional range while remaining the lightest vehicle in its class.

"By increasing the battery's energy density, the team was able to utilize the Catalyst vehicle's purpose-built design and maintain its light weight," said Gary Horvat, chief technology officer at Proterra. "The improved Catalyst XR marks another step toward Proterra's goal of providing a high-performance bus that can serve any transit route in the United States."

The award-winning bus has already achieved the best efficiency rating ever for a 40′ transit bus at 22 MPGe. Nearly six times more efficient than a diesel or CNG bus, the Catalyst is also significantly more energy efficient per mile than the closest competitors' electric bus. Other performance benefits of the Catalyst XR2 include:

Longest nominal range: capable of traveling a maximum of 194 miles on a single charge, based on Altoona efficiency measures.  Actual mileage will vary with route conditions.

Lightest weight: at least 2,000 lbs. lighter than any other 40' battery electric bus on the market, while being more efficient.

Designed for safety: Catalyst vehicles are purpose-built and engineered for the safest location of batteries—outside of the passenger compartment. The batteries are temperature-controlled and incorporate both active and passive safety systems, with ruggedized, reinforced battery packs that are further separated from passengers by a heavy-duty structural barrier.

Transit agencies interested in assessing route-specific range along with the cost savings, performance and environmental benefits of the updated Catalyst XR, can now receive accurate system-level data with the new Proterra® EV Simulator, which will be on display at booth 631 during the APTA conference.

Battery Storage For Offshore Wind Power: BATWIND


The world’s first floating wind farm will have energy storage added after completion under a recently-inked Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

The 35 MW Hywind Scotland wind far, located 25km from Scotland’s Aberdeenshire coast, will consist of five large floating turbines. Due for completion in 2018, it will be followed by the construction of a 1MWh lithium-ion battery based storage pilot system in late 2018.

Lithium-ion is a storage technology also used in the Tesla Powerwall battery system.

Dubbed “Batwind,” the project is a collaboration between the wind farm owner Statoil, the Scottish Government, the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult and Scottish Enterprise.

“The signing of this MoU will allow the signatories to work together in the development of the Batwind battery storage solution,” said Fergus Ewing, Scotland’s Energy Minister.

The system will be integrated to mitigate intermittency and optimise output; improving efficiency and lowering costs for offshore wind.

Statoil is an international energy company with operations in 37 countries. In addition to its gas and oil interests, other wind power projects in the company’s portfolio include Sheringham Shoal, Dogger Bank and Dudgeon. Dogger Bank will be the world’s largest wind farm; with enough capacity to generate 2.5 per cent of the UK’s energy requirements.

“Statoil has a strong position in offshore wind. By developing innovative battery storage solutions, we can improve the value of wind energy for both Statoil and customers,” said Stephen Bull, Statoil’s senior vice president for offshore wind.

“With Batwind, we can optimise the energy system from wind park to grid. Battery storage represents a new application in our offshore wind portfolio, contributing to realising our ambition of profitable growth in this area.”

A report produced by the Carbon Trust indicated if the UK’s energy market embraced energy storage, it could lead to savings of up to £50 a year on an average consumer’s electricity bill and a system- wide saving of up to £2.4bn a year by 2030.

Wind power in Scotland has been off to a flying start this year, with wind energy powering the equivalent of 100 percent of Scottish households for 22 days in January. The Scottish Government has its sights set on 100% renewable electricity generation (gross consumption) by 2020.

United Airlines Makes History with Biofuel

United Airlines made history on March 11 by becoming the first U.S. airline to begin use of commercial-scale volumes of sustainable aviation biofuel for regularly scheduled flights with the departure of United Flight 708 from Los Angeles International Airport. The launch marks a significant milestone in the commercial aviation industry by moving beyond demonstration flights and test programs to the use of advanced biofuels for United's ongoing operations.

United has agreed to purchase up to 15 million gallons of sustainable biofuel from AltAir Paramount over a three-year period. The airline has begun using the biofuel in its daily operations at LAX, storing and delivering it in the same way as traditional fuel. To highlight this achievement, United will operate flights between Los Angeles and San Francisco with the dedicated use of AltAir Paramount renewable fuel for two weeks, while also integrating this fuel into its regular operations at the airport.

"Today's historic launch of regularly scheduled service utilizing advanced biofuels represents a major next step in our ongoing commitment to operate sustainably and responsibly," said Angela Foster-Rice, United's managing director of environmental affairs and sustainability. "United is a leader in the advancement of alternative fuels, and, along with our partners at AltAir Paramount, we are taking action every day to minimize our impact on the environment and explore new ways to improve efficiency."

"Los Angeles is a global leader in sustainability, so it's no wonder that the first U.S. flights to use commercial-scale, renewable jet fuel are taking off from our airport," said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. "LAX and United Airlines have broken new ground with fuel that reduces carbon emissions by as much as 60 percent when compared to standard jet fuel. Today, we set a new standard for sustainability in aviation — an example I hope the rest of the industry will follow in the coming years."

AltAir Paramount's Renewable Fuel Technology

United has collaborated with AltAir since 2009 with a common goal of bringing an ongoing source of sustainable aviation biofuels to an airport. AltAir retrofitted portions of the Paramount Petroleum Corporation – a subsidiary of Alon USA Energy – refinery in Paramount, California, to create a 35 million gallon per year advanced renewable fuel unit, bringing new clean energy jobs to the Los Angeles area.

The facility converts sustainably sourced non-edible, natural oils and agricultural wastes into jet fuel and is expected to provide a greater than 60 percent reduction in lifecycle carbon emissions when compared to fuel produced from traditional petroleum. AltAir's fuel meets the same standard as traditional jet fuel, ASTM D1655. In addition, AltAir is pursuing certification under the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) - a global sustainability standard and certification system that recognizes biomass and biofuel producers that adhere to stringent social responsibility and environmental criteria.

"AltAir Paramount and United are working together to lead the industry in the use of sustainable and homegrown biofuel," said Bryan Sherbacow, AltAir's president and chief operating officer. "Today's launch demonstrates our commitment to helping United reduce its operational impact on the environment and advance the use of alternative fuels."

United and Sustainable Aviation Biofuels

In 2009, United became the first U.S. carrier to perform a biofuel demonstration flight. In 2011, United became the first U.S. carrier to operate a commercial advanced biofuel flight. Last year, United announced an historic $30 million equity investment in U.S.-based alternative fuels developer Fulcrum BioEnergy, Inc., a pioneer in the development and commercialization of converting municipal solid waste into low-cost sustainable aviation biofuel. The Fulcrum investment represents the single largest investment by a U.S. airline in alternative fuels and sets United apart in the aviation industry in the advancement of aviation biofuels.

United also recently received the World Bio Markets (WBM) Award for Excellence in Advanced Biofuels.

Hawaiian Electric & Greenlots test

EV Charging and Energy Storage

Greenlots and Hawaiian Electric Company are working to show how an electric vehicle (EV) fast charger combined with energy storage can support EV initiatives on the road to a clean energy future for Hawaii.  

Greenlots has implemented its pioneering SKY platform — a scalable, vehicle-grid integration (VGI) technology — in an EV fast charger owned and operated by Hawaiian Electric Company as part of a joint research, development and demonstration project with the Electric Power Research Institute.

The innovative fast charger is located at Kapolei Commons, a popular shopping mall in West Oahu. By giving residents and visitors in the area a convenient place to quickly charge their EVs with minimal impact on the Oahu grid, the goal is to encourage EV adoption.

The fast charger's integrated energy storage allows it to remain in full power using electricity stored at times when generation is abundant, such as mid-day when many rooftop solar panels are sending power to the grid.  Stored energy is then available later in the day during peak use times when electricity is in high demand.

The fast charger allows electric vehicle owners to get up to an 80 percent charge in as little as 30 minutes. Drivers can easily locate the fast-charge stations and charge using the Greenlots mobile app and pay for a charge through the app or by using a credit card, much as at a self-service gasoline pump.

"With our state's 100-percent renewable portfolio goals, we are working to support the build out of electric vehicle charging infrastructure to provide EV drivers with range confidence," said Jim Alberts, Hawaiian Electric senior vice president for customer service.

"We're pleased to be working with Greenlots on this battery-backed fast charging initiative, because in conjunction with VLI-EV Partners, Greenlots helped provide a demand-side management system to meet our evolving power grid needs. An advantage of the Greenlots open standards system is that it can be used with a variety of fast chargers built by different companies."

A similar fast charger system will also be used when Hawaiian Electric opens its fifth utility-owned fast charger at its Ward Avenue facility next month. By harmonizing electric vehicles with the grid, Greenlots has created a flexible grid management platform to meet the specific electricity demand needs of Hawaiian Electric and electric vehicle drivers alike.

In leveraging the industry's leading open standards for demand response and price communications, OpenADR and the Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP), the Greenlots SKY Smart Charging™ platform can respond to demand response load modification requests and allow HECO to remotely control grid loads through demand response actions.

"Increasingly, utilities are looking toward open standards-based charging to be utilized in energy management strategies," said Brett Hauser, CEO of Greenlots. "We are particularly excited about this storage-backed fast charge initiative with Hawaiian Electric, because we see vast opportunities to support electric vehicle mobility while also managing energy loads more reliably as the industry expands."

Could metal particles be the clean fuel of the future?

Can you imagine a future where your car is fueled by iron powder instead of gasoline?

Metal powders, produced using clean primary energy sources, could provide a more viable long-term replacement for fossil fuels than other widely discussed alternatives, such as hydrogen, biofuels or batteries, according to a study in the Dec. 15 issue of the journal Applied Energy.

"Technologies to generate clean electricity -- primarily solar and wind power -- are being developed rapidly; but we can't use that electricity for many of the things that oil and gas are used for today, such as transportation and global energy trade," notes McGill University professor Jeffrey Bergthorson, lead author of the new study.

"Biofuels can be part of the solution, but won't be able to satisfy all the demand; hydrogen requires big, heavy fuel tanks and is explosive, and batteries are too bulky and don't store enough energy for many applications," says Bergthorson, a mechanical engineering professor and Associate Director of the Trottier Institute for Sustainability in Engineering and Design at McGill. "Using metal powders as recyclable fuels that store clean primary energy for later use is a very promising alternative solution."

Novel concept

The Applied Energy paper, co-authored by Bergthorson with five other McGill researchers and a European Space Agency scientist in the Netherlands, lays out a novel concept for using tiny metal particles -- similar in size to fine flour or icing sugar -- to power external-combustion engines.

Unlike the internal-combustion engines used in gasoline-powered cars, external-combustion engines use heat from an outside source to drive an engine. External-combustion engines, modern versions of the coal-fired steam locomotives that drove the industrial era, are widely used to generate power from nuclear, coal or biomass fuels in power stations.

The idea of burning metal powders is nothing new -- they've been used for centuries in fireworks, for instance. Since the mid-20th century, they've also been used in rocket propellants, such as the space shuttle's solid-fuel booster rockets. But relatively little research has been done in recent decades on the properties of metal flames, and the potential for metal powders to be used as a recyclable fuel in a wide range of applications has been largely overlooked by scientists.

Recyclable after combustion

The idea put forward by the McGill team takes advantage of an important property of metal powders: when burned, they react with air to form stable, nontoxic solid-oxide products that can be collected relatively easily for recycling -- unlike the CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels that escape into the atmosphere.

Using a custom-built burner, the McGill researchers demonstrated that a flame can be stabilized in a flow of tiny metal particles suspended in air. Flames from metal powders "appear quite similar" to those produced by burning hydrocarbon fuels, the researchers write. "The energy and power densities of the proposed metal-fueled heat engines are predicted to be close to current fossil-fueled internal combustion engines, making them an attractive technology for a future low-carbon society."

Iron could be the primary candidate for this purpose, according to the study. Millions of tons of iron powders are already produced annually for the metallurgy, chemical and electronic industries. And iron is readily recyclable with well-established technologies, and some novel techniques can avoid the carbon dioxide emissions associated with traditional iron production using coal.

Next step: building a prototype

While laboratory work at McGill and elsewhere has shown that the use of metal fuels with heat engines is technically feasible, no one has yet demonstrated the idea in practice. The next step toward turning the lab findings into usable technology, therefore, will be "to build a prototype burner and couple it to a heat engine," Bergthorson says.

"Developing metal recycling processes that don't involve CO2 emissions is also critical."

Co-author David Jarvis, head of strategic and emerging technologies at the European Space Agency, adds: "We are very interested in this technology because it opens the door to new propulsion systems that can be used in space and on earth. The shift away from fossil fuels for vehicle propulsion is a clear trend for the future. While not perfected and commercialized today, the use of low-cost metallic fuels, like iron powder, is a worthy alternative to petrol and diesel fuels. If we can demonstrate, for the first time, an iron-fueled engine with almost zero CO2 emissions, we believe this would then trigger even more innovation and cost reduction in the near future."

Research on metal combustion at McGill has been funded over the past 20 years by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Canadian Department of National Defence, the U.S. Defence Threat Reduction Agency, the Canadian Space Agency, the European Space Agency, Martec Ltd. (Halifax, NS), and the Trottier Institute for Sustainability in Engineering and Design.

Story provided by McGill University

New Process Provides Renewable Fuel

LTU Green Fuels welcomed by Fredrik Granberg (r) Project Mgr., LTU Green Fuels.

Luleå University of Technology is the first in the world to produce renewable fuels from pyrolysis bio-oil in its facility LTU Green Fuels. Pyrolysis bio-oil is produced by rapidly heating the forest residues in an oxygen-free environment and then rapidly cooling the products formed. By co-gasification with black liquor, a renewable fuel is produced.

"We have made a breakthrough developing the new process and managed to get 1 + 1 to be equal to 3. Black liquor makes it possible to gasify pyrolysis oil at a lower temperature, which provides better yield than if the raw materials were gasified separately," said Erik Furusjö, project manager at Luleå University of Technology and head of the project "Catalytic gasification."

By converting forest residues into a liquid, called bio-oil or pyrolysis oil, energy density is increased and transportation facilitated. The conversion of the pyrolysis oil to a renewable transportation fuel is made through a process called gasification. It is performed in combination with black liquor that is a by-product from pulp and paper production and available in large volumes in Sweden and elsewhere. The project "Catalytic gasification" is financed by the Swedish Energy Agency and an industry consortium.

In late October the first truck load of pyrolysis oil came to the LTU Green Fuels plant in Piteå. It has now been successfully converted to a renewable fuel. If one truck load of pyrolysis oil is mixed with black liquor and converted into fuel, the total volume is sufficient to drive a car ten laps around Earth. LTU Green Fuels is one of the world's most advanced pilot plants for gasification of various types of biomass into synthesis gas and green fuels. The focus is to replace fossil oil with green fuels. Operations are running around the clock.

Through previous research, black liquor has been gasified more than 26,000 hours in the LTU Green Fuels pilot plant in Piteå. The objective of the current program is 1,000 hours of co-gasification of pyrolysis oil and black liquor, which makes a total of about 125 tons of the biofuel dimethyl ether (DME), popularly known as green diesel. This demonstration provides sufficient technical basis to build a large commercial plant using the new technology.

When the initial results of the project "Catalytic gasification" was presented at a conference in Chicago (tcbiomass 2015) in early November, there was great interest. A transformation to the new technology, based on feedstocks from Swedish forests can strongly contribute to reducing negative environmental impact. This means that Sweden could achieve the vision of a fossil-independent transport sector in 2030. More than a third of today's Swedish fuel usage could be replaced with the new technology.

Story Provided by: Luleå University of Technology

Air France and KLM Lead The Way With Biofuel

Air travel emits more than 650 million metric tons of carbon pollution annually – equivalent to the pollution from 136 million cars – making the increased use of sustainable biofuels a critical to reducing the industry’s carbon footprint.

According to a first-of-its-kind scorecard released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the industry is making strides in adopting sustainable biofuels, with some airlines doing better than others as they incorporate these new fuels into their fleets. Air France/KLM is by far the leader of the pack.

“It’s great to see certain airlines becoming leaders in the use of sustainable biofuels,” said Debbie Hammel, Senior Resource Specialist with NRDC’s Land & Wildlife Program and author of the scorecard.

“As the world rises to the challenge of curbing climate change and cutting carbon pollution, addressing air travel pollution has to be part of the mix. The aviation sector has been pretty proactive about this issue, and an industry-wide increase in the use of sustainably produced biofuels is definitely on the horizon.”

NRDC’s Aviation Biofuel Sustainability Scorecards evaluated airlines’ adoption of biofuels, focusing on the use of leading sustainability certification standards, participation in industry initiatives to promote sustainability certification, public commitments to sustainability certification in sourcing, and the monitoring and disclosure of important sustainability metrics. The top-scoring carrier was Air France-KLM, followed by British Airways, United Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Cathay Pacific, and Alaska Airlines.

The industry has made significant strides in embracing biofuels in recent years. In the past five years, more than 40 commercial airlines around the world have flown as estimated 600,000 miles powered at least in part by biofuels.

Lufthansa completed a study of the long-term effect of aviation biofuels on engines, noting no adverse impacts. KLM conducted 26 long-haul flights demonstrating it is possible to organize and coordinate a complex supply chain and fly regularly scheduled flights on aviation biofuel blends.

Low-carbon fuels will play a key role in the industry’s efforts to hold its carbon emissions steady after 2020 and cut net carbon emissions to half of the 2005 level by 2050. To meet these goals, a new market has emerged to provide biofuels for the aviation sector.

But the adoption of credible, third-party sustainability certification systems are necessary to ensure that the emerging aviation biofuels market is providing fuels that are sourced sustainably, and are not competing with food production, causing severe damage to land, water, air quality, wildlife, and local communities or generating more climate pollutions than their petroleum counterparts.

The scorecard and issue brief encourages airlines to send clear market signals notifying suppliers of the importance of sustainability certification – ideally using the certification framework created by the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) – and make a public commitment to source 100 percent certified-sustainable biofuels.

“How airlines move forward is still up in the air,” Hammel says. “While some in the industry have made real progress in implementing sustainability commitments this past year, there’s more to do. The industry must commit to robust standards for sourcing these fuels to ensure that they’re truly sustainable in the long-term.”

Europe’s Largest Battery Storage Facility Opened

Last week, S&C Electric Company officially opened its 6MW/10MWh Smarter Network Storage (SNS) project.

S&C Electric Europe, Samsung SDI and Younicos collaborated on the project, which has been installed at a United Kingdom Power Networks substation.

“Energy storage can play a major role in balancing the grid as it solves the problem of renewable intermittency by absorbing surplus power and releasing it when needed. This function simultaneously helps to securely balance capacity and supply, and protects the grid from stress events (e.g. power outages),” says Andrew Jones, managing director, S&C Electric Europe.

“The introduction of energy storage in substations like the one at Leighton Buzzard can decrease the need and cost of traditional reinforcement, such as transformers and cabling.”

The two year trial will enable testing of a range of different services that storage can provide, plus allow UK Power Networks to explore and improve the economics of electrical energy storage.

“This project will have an impact not only for the local area, but also nationally and internationally,” said Ben Wilson, UK Power Networks’ director of strategy and regulation and chief financial officer. “What we learn here from this exciting and important development will be vital for similar schemes in the future.”

S&C has been working in the energy storage sector for more than a decade. It has integrated more than 150 MWh capacity, which S&C says represents 20 percent of worldwide grid-connected battery storage capacity. Its Purewave Storage Management System currently connects more than 90% of the grid-scale sodium-sulphur batteries installed in the United States.

The company has also been active in Australia.

In September, the S&C was awarded a contract by Ergon Energy to provide 20 S&C PureWave Community Energy Storage Systems for the utility’s Grid Utility Support Systems (GUSS).

The systems will charge lithium-ion batteries at night and then discharge them during the day to support peak load demands. Each 25-kVA unit will provide 100 kilowatt-hours of electricity. Ergon Energy estimates these systems will reduce network augmentation costs by more than 35 percent. Deployment of the first GUSS units is expected to be complete by early next year.

Electric Vehicle Autonomous Renewable Charger

The USA’s Envision Solar has developed a relocatable solar powered electric car charging station that can be deployed in minutes.

Designed to fit comfortably inside a standard parking space, its 2.3kW solar panel array generates approximately 16kWhrs per day and features 22kWhr battery storage.

The EV ARC solar power system incorporates a tracker, enabling the array to follow the sun and generate 18 to 25% more electricity than a fixed array.

EV ARC doesn’t require any foundations, trenching or building permits and weighing approximately 5 tonnes, there’s little risk of it toppling over in high winds (or being stolen).

A built in digital advertising screen can help also help owners  of the system to generate revenue.

Envision Solar says deployment time is about 5 minutes instead of several weeks for a traditional, mains-grid tied electric vehicle charger.

In September, the City of Shasta Lake, California installed an EV ARC at the City’s Grand River municipal parking lot on Shasta Dam Boulevard; which will be available free of charge to the public.

“It was not economically feasible to run trenching and grid connections to this important location but the EV ARC delivers EV charging where traditional chargers cannot,” said Desmond Wheatley, CEO of Envision Solar. ” Additionally, this will be the first EV ARC™ to offer electric wheelchair charging, something we are very proud of.”

In June, EV ARC was selected by the Organization for the European Business Awards for the Environment.

EV ARC certainly isn’t cheap (around USD $40,000), but current subsidies in the USA can cut the price in half and it represents another marker on the road to a fossil fuel free world of transport.

Envision Solar is also the creator of the award-winning Solar Tree  ; a fixed solar structure for parking lots that shades six parking slots and generates enough energy to fully charge six electric vehicles each day.

Boeing Turning Tobacco Into Aviation Biofuel 

South African Airways (SAA) and SkyNRG announced in August that they are collaborating to make sustainable aviation biofuel from a new type of tobacco plant. This initiative broadens cooperation between Boeing and SAA to develop renewable jet fuel in ways that support South Africa's goals for public health as well as economic and rural development.

"It's an honor for Boeing to work with South African Airways on a pioneering project to make sustainable jet fuel from an energy-rich tobacco plant," said J. Miguel Santos, managing director for Africa, Boeing International. "South Africa is leading efforts to commercialize a valuable new source of biofuel that can further reduce aviation's environmental footprint and advance the region's economy."

SkyNRG is expanding production of the hybrid plant known as Solaris as an energy crop that farmers could grow instead of traditional tobacco. Test farming of the plants, which are effectively nicotine-free, is underway in South Africa with biofuel production expected from large and small farms in the next few years. Initially, oil from the plant's seeds will be converted into jet fuel. In coming years, Boeing expects emerging technologies to increase South Africa's aviation biofuel production from the rest of the plant.

"By using hybrid tobacco, we can leverage knowledge of tobacco growers in South Africa to grow a marketable biofuel crop without encouraging smoking," said Ian Cruickshank, South African Airways Group Environmental Affairs Specialist. "This is another way that SAA and Boeing are driving development of sustainable biofuel while enhancing our region's economic opportunity."

"We strongly believe in the potential of successfully rolling out Solaris in the Southern African region to power sustainable fuels that are also affordable," said Maarten van Dijk, Chief Technology Officer, SkyNRG.

In October 2013, Boeing and SAA said they would work together to develop a sustainable aviation biofuel supply chain in Southern Africa. As part of that effort, they are working with the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials to position farmers with small plots of land to grow biofuel feedstocks that provide socioeconomic value to communities without harming food supplies, fresh water or land use.

Boeing is the aviation industry's leader in the development of sustainable aviation biofuel, working with partners in the United States, Europe, China, Middle East, Brazil, Japan, South Africa, Australia and other countries. When produced sustainably, aviation biofuel reduces carbon emissions by 50 to 80 percent compared to petroleum jet fuel through its lifecycle. Airlines have conducted more than 1,500 passenger flights using biofuel since the fuel was approved in 2011.

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British Airways Fueling Up on TRASH!! 

Solena Fuels in partnership with British Airways has committed to building the world’s first facility to convert landfill waste into jet fuel.  This comes just two weeks before the global aviation community joins forces to discuss ways to reduce the industry’s environmental impact at the 2014 Global Sustainable Aviation Summit in Geneva.

The chosen location for this innovative project is the Thames Enterprise Park, part of the site of the former Coryton oil refinery in Thurrock, Essex.  The site has excellent transport links and existing fuel storage facilities.  One thousand construction workers will be hired to build the facility which is due to be completed in 2017, creating up to 150 permanent jobs.

This ground-breaking fuel project is set to revolutionize the production of sustainable aviation fuel.  Approximately 575,000 tonnes of post-recycled waste, normally destined for landfill or incineration, will instead be converted into 120,000 tonnes of clean burning liquid fuels using Solena’s innovative integrated technology.  British Airways has made a long-term commitment to purchase all 50,000 tonnes per annum of the jet fuel produced at market competitive rates.

Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways’ parent company IAG, said:  “We are always striving to reduce our impact on climate change and this first-of-its-kind project marks a significant step for the aviation industry.  The construction of the GreenSky London fuel facility at Thames Enterprise Park will lay the foundations for British Airways to reduce its carbon emissions significantly.  The sustainable jet fuel produced each year will be enough to power our flights from London City Airport twice over with carbon savings the equivalent of taking 150,000 cars off the road.”

Solena has been developing the project and will be using its patented high temperature plasma gasification technology to convert the waste efficiently into synthetic gas.  The gas will then be converted into liquid hydrocarbons using third party technologies which will include cleaning and conditioning of the gas, a Velocys Fischer-Tropsch conversion process, hydrocracking and electric power production.   With the initial engineering design completed, Solena and its partners are now starting the next phase of engineering of the GreenSky London facility.”

Robert Do, president and CEO of Solena Fuels, said:  “We are excited to help British Airways achieve its sustainability goals by providing an innovative solution to produce drop-in jet fuel.  We anticipate starting construction of the site in approximately 12 months after all the requisite permits and agreements have been obtained.  We are looking forward to successfully building GreenSky London and partnering with British Airways on additional facilities in the United Kingdom.”

Thames Enterprise Park and neighbouring Thames Oilport, established in 2012, is a joint venture with Greenergy as one of the investors and the site project facilitator for this project.  It is situated on an industrial site on the estuary of the River Thames.

Andrew Owens, chief executive of Greenergy said:   “This is an ideal site for a biofuel initiative like Solena’s and we are very pleased to be associated with it.  It is located on the Thames with fuel storage and fuel pipelines and good road, rail and jetty infrastructure.  Thames Enterprise Park’s main goal is to provide regeneration of the former Coryton oil refinery following its closure in 2012.  The facility proposed by British Airways and Solena is exactly the type of high profile technology project both we and Thurrock Council want to attract to the site, particularly given the number of skilled jobs provided.”

Barclays, as financial adviser, continues to support the GreenSky project.  Gabriel Buck, head of CAPEX financing solutions at Barclays, said: “This is undoubtedly a unique and ground breaking project.  The economic and environmental fundamentals will, we believe, be attractive to investors from both a debt and equity perspective.  The project debt structure has been identified with preliminary agreements in place with an Export Credit Agency who are not only providing the guarantees but also the funding.  We are now focused with the project team on getting all aspects of the funding structure completed.”

SolarEdge To Help Power EV Charging Stations  

SolarEdge inverters and power optimizers have been selected for a network of 200 electric car fast-charging stations.
According to DomesticFuel, the Fastned charging network will be located throughout the Netherlands and be partially powered by 3 megawatts of distributed solar power.
Each charging station will feature either a 10 kW or 20 kW solar array that incorporates 20 or 40 power optimizers respectively and one SolarEdge inverter.
The SolarEdge Power Optimizer ensures solar panels are constantly kept at maximum power point (MPP) and prevent electricity losses due to module mismatch or partial shading conditions. The P600 model, which will be used for the Fastned project, allows for two panels to be connected to a single power optimizer; whereas the OP-250LV version is for a single panel.

So far, 5 stations have been constructed; with another 4 to be completed soon. All the stations will be constructed at existing petrol stations and vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf can be fast charged to 80% in 15 -30 minutes. Fastned will support all charging standards including CCS (DC Combo II), CHAdeMO  and AC up to 22/43kW.
When the full 200 charging stations throughout the Netherlands are in place by 2015, it will form a nationwide network allowing EV owners an opportunity to charge their vehicles every 40 km of highway; meaning the entire Netherlands will be able to be reached by electric car.
In addition to the self-generated clean electricity; Fastned sources the balance of power required to run its stations via Greenchoice; which supplies electricity from the Sternweg wind park near the Dutch municipality of Zeewolde.
The project hasn't been without its challenges. Last year, a group of Dutch petrol station owners reportedly took the Dutch government to court, claiming the Fastned project would be "unfair competition".

US Navy Tinkering With Transmitting
Solar Power From Space

The U.S. Navy hopes to beam solar power from space using a massive array of solar panels assembled in orbit by a team of robots.
The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) says it will seek to patent a variation of an innovative "sandwich" solar module, which is capable of capturing solar energy, converting it to direct current and transmitting it back to earth as a radio or microwave frequency.
The NRL says by launching enough of these modules into space to form one gigantic solar panel, it could provide enough energy to power a city.
The concept may seem a little insane to some, but Dr. Paul Jaffe, a spacecraft engineer at NRL, says it's "Hard to tell if it's nuts until you've actually tried."
Dr. Jaffe has built two sandwich-type solar modules. On the front of each is a photovoltaic panel that collects solar energy, then a layer of electronics in the middle converts that direct current to a radio signal which is beamed away via an antenna mounted on rear of the module.
Jaffe and his team built a vacuum chamber - the first of its kind - in order to simulate the harsh conditions of space while testing their modules. They used a novel approach to solving the thermal problem by using the 'step' module”, which opens the sandwich up like a zig-zag. Jaffe found this not only increased the module’s efficiency, but also allowed it to deal with greater concentrations of sunlight without frying.
He also made improvements to the complex antenna system. "Antennas look simple," Jaffe says, "you would never believe all of the calculations and analysis."
According to the NRL, the modules would have to be launched separately, and then assembled in space by robots. That research is already being advanced by NRL's Space Robotics Group.
The NRL’s vision for space-based solar power is driven primarily by the U.S. military’s vast energy requirements. If viable, its goal is to build a kilometre-wide solar array that could theoretically beam power directly to a receiver anywhere on the planet.

Oil Industry is spending millions to defeat bio-fuels
As ReNewable Now continues to report what is happening with the battle of Big Oil vs Renewable Fuel, we wanted to share with you what the organization, Americans United is doing in an effort to battle the big oil lobbyists in Washington. What is happening right now in the heartland of America is a lesson many of us around the world can learn from, as big oil's interest effects all of us.

Washington DC – With the open comment period on the proposed EPA rule to roll back the Renewable Fuel Standard coming to a close January 28, Americans United for Change is launching its next in a series of TV ads asking rural Americans to join the final push to overwhelm Washington with comments in support of the RFS, family farmers, and rural economies – and against another Big Oil giveaway.  The ad called “Why Mess With Success” - which begins airing Thursday in Washington DC, Cedar Rapids, IA, and the Quad Cities - makes the closing argument that the Renewable Fuel Standard has been invaluable for rural economies the last decade, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions in new wealth while saving consumers millions at the pump. Which is why it makes no sense to change course so drastically by gutting the RFS.  

The ad comes the same day as the bipartisan “Hearing in the Heartland” is held in Des Moines, led by Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, billed as a “public hearing allowing citizens outside of Washington, D.C. the opportunity to testify about the importance of the Renewable Fuel Standard.”  

As in Americans United’s previous TV ad in support of the RFS “Simple Choice”, the latest ad encourages viewers to visit operated by Americans United ally, the 360,000+ supporter veterans group, and co-sign a comment that will be delivered to the EPA about the importance of renewable fuels, along with thousands of other Americans who are concerned that undermining the Renewable Fuel Standard will undermine our national security by increasing our reliance on overseas oil from unstable regions and regimes that hate us. aired two recent TV ads in support of the RFS, which can be seen HERE.

Brad Woodhouse, President, Americans United for Change: “It’s an open secret that Big Oil has spent millions of dollars trying to put out of business their 70 cent cheaper and cleaner renewable fuels competition. If Washington does what Big Oil wants and strips apart the Renewable Fuel Standard, it’ll be a case study in fixing what isn’t broke that would make the inventors of New Coke blush. While the U.S. economy has been on a wild ride the last decade, rural communities that seized opportunities in the renewable fuels industry have seen nothing but growth, new jobs, new wealth, and more reasons for their children to stay.  That’s why the choice before the EPA should be an easy one: either continue to go forward creating thousands of jobs that can’t be outsourced and revitalizing rural economies, or backward.  Either continue going forward weaning the nation off its addiction to overseas oil, or backwards.  Continue making innovations in next generation renewable fuel sources that will build on its success of meeting 10 percent of the nation’s fuel needs, or discourage it. Continue going forward in cutting down carbon emissions harmful to the environment, or backwards and watch as already common oil-industry related disasters become even more routine. Continue giving consumers cheaper alternatives at the pump, or take them away.   At this 11th hour, it is critical that the millions of Americans who have benefited from the RFS -- from farmers to businesses that serve ethanol industry workers, to consumers – to tell the EPA what’s at stake for them if Big Oil’s bottom line is put ahead of rural America. If you ask the taxpayers, Big Oil gets enough special treatment from Washington already – they don’t need another giveaway.”

U.S. Army launches fuel cell testing
with General Motors

On December 16, 2013, the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony to initiate the start of hydrogen fuel cell testing with GM at the U.S. Army’s new Ground System Power and Energy Laboratory (GSPEL).  The event highlighted and celebrated numerous Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs) that TARDEC has collaborated with industry partners on throughout the years to enhance our awareness of innovative technologies critical to enabling military ground systems and future energy capabilities.

At the GSPEL grand opening last year, U.S. Army officials encouraged industry and academic stakeholders to partner with government scientists and engineers to use the GSPEL’s new high-tech facilities to develop new dual-use power and Mobility Solutions that would benefit both industry and military researchers.

“Through CRADAs, the Army has the opportunity to leverage its research and development efforts with industry,” explained TARDEC Director Dr. Paul Rogers. “A goal of TARDEC is to demonstrate a battlefield fuel reduction to reduce the logistical burden on our warfighters. CRADAs, such as the one with GM, will assist in maturing and accelerating technologies critical to the Army’s future ground vehicle platforms.”

CRADAs are established between federal laboratories and commercial, academic or nonprofit partners to facilitate technology transfer between the parties for mutual benefit. Under a CRADA, the partner may contribute resources such as personnel, services, property and funding to the effort. The government may contribute all of the above except funding.  CRADAs also allow for the negotiation of licensing arrangements for patented inventions developed at the laboratories.

A host of senior government and industry VIP’s were on hand to launch this new partnership and celebrate CRADAs.  Including Senator Carl Levin, who said, "With these cooperative agreements, we're addressing the same challenges together. The fences can come down."

The event was be followed by a tour of the GSPEL labs. 

UK required to install 70,000 EV charging points by 2020

European law-makers have passed a resolution that will compel the UK to install a network of 70,000 electric vehicle recharging points as well as hydrogen and natural gas stations by 2020.

The European Parliament today endorsed a draft directive that aims to reduce dependence on oil and boost take-up of alternative fuels, so as to help achieve a 60% cut in greenhouse gas emissions from transport by 2050.

The draft rules would require member states to set targets for building publicly-available networks of electric vehicle recharging points and refuelling stations for other alternative fuels, such as hydrogen, Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) by 2020.

The UK's legally binding minimum number of publicly-accessible EV recharging points is currently set at 70,000, behind Germany's target of 86,000 and Italy's 72,000.

MEPS say private sector players should play a leading role in developing this infrastructure, but Governments should provide tax and public procurement incentives for them to do so.

The 2020 targets contained in today's directive, include:.

* A minimum number of recharging points for electric vehicles provided in the draft directive would have to be put into place by member states, especially in towns,

* In countries where hydrogen refuelling points already exist, a sufficient number of refuelling points should be made available, at intervals not exceeding 300 km. MEPs added a requirement for building up numbers of hydrogen refuelling points in member states where they do not yet exist, with a deadline of 31 December 2030.

* For heavy duty vehicles, refuelling points for LNG along the roads on the TEN-T Core Network should be established at intervals not exceeding 400 km

* A sufficient number of CNG refuelling points should be available, at maximum intervals of 100 km.

When setting targets, member states should pay particular attention to proving sufficient number of re-charging points and refuelling points in urban areas, say MEPs.

Nationally-coordinated policy plans would have to include targets and measures to boost the take-up of alternative fuels, said the Transport Committee. These plans should also provide for the supply of “green” electricity for electric vehicles and include targets for reducing urban congestion and deploying electrified public transport services, it added.

MEPs pointed out that some funding for these plans could come from EU programmes such as Horizon 2020, the Regional Development Fund, the Cohesion Fund and the Connecting Europe Facility.

For electric recharging, Transport Committee MEPs backed a European Commission proposal for “Type 2” connectors, but added that, where required by national law, these may be fitted with additional safety shutters.

For fast recharging, "Combo 2" connectors should be used, although for a transition period ending on 1 January 2019, fast recharging points may additionally be equipped with “CHAdeMO” connectors. Recharging points installed within three years of the directive’s entry into force could nonetheless remain in service.

The committee approved the draft directive by 30 votes to 7, with 0 abstentions and gave a mandate to rapporteur Carlo Fidanza (EPP, IT) to start negotiations with the Council with a view to reaching a final agreement in spring 2014.

Human Waste Fueling Spanish Vehicles and Towns

Spanish firm
All-gas is using human waste to create biofuel, in what is a remarkably unique development.

The facility in Chiclana de la Frontera, Southwest Spain, uses waste water to produce algae-based biofuel. The 12m Euro project is part of Spain’s strategy to encourage alternative energy and reduce their reliance on fossil fuels.

Algae biofuels are an example of third generation biofuel technology; allowing the genetic modification of algae species to produce yields of long-chain fatty acids, which can then be transformed into fuels used in everyday vehicles.

All-gas is the first firm to produce bioenergy in this way; using wastewater and carbon dioxide to produce algae biomass, which is then transformed into a gas:

“Nobody has done the transformation from wastewater to biofuel, which is a sustainable approach,” said All-gas project leader, Frank Rogalla.

The small plant is still in its early stages of development, as is algae biofuel production generally. Only 200 square metres in size, and in pilot phase, the plant produced its first batch of algae in May, with fuel likely to be available for use at Christmas.

However, by 2015, the facility will potentially produce enough fuel to power 200 cars or 10 city garbage trucks for a year. Although it is clear that this will not displace regular petroleum fuel for some time, as the technology develops it is expected that yields will grow and average costs of production will fall.

In general, third generation fuels will provide a more environmentally sustainable alternative to the current range of biofuels available to fuel distributors. The global fuel industry is currently set up with bio fuel and oil tanks which utilise sugar cane and corn ethanol.

These fuels, however, could potentially cause large-scale land use changes and put pressure worldwide on food prices if production levels rise to displace fossil fuels.

While second generation fuels offer advantages of using non-food sources of crops, third generation fuels would hope to eradicate the requirement of cropland for fuel production, reducing the likelihood of environmental issues like deforestation.

The Chiclana de la Frontera location was chosen for the algae plant because it has the conditions necessary for algae production; this includes large amounts of sunlight and a long Oceanside stretch of land that is rich in salt, where algae can be grown in man-made ponds.

However, while algae fuels may not require land for crop production, it is not a resource free process; land is still required to house algae ponds, with additional requirements for water and energy. Researchers have stated that it may be years until algae fuels are commercially viable.

However, All-gas is now looking at new regions in Spain for expansion, with around 300 small towns identified where another similar project could potentially work:

“The opportunity is such that 40 million people, roughly the population of Spain, would be able to power 200,000 vehicles from just flushing their toilet!” said Rogalla.

While this assertion may be hopeful, continued investment in this industry is likely to help fuel further developments.

Calvert Green

Profiles in Excellence Series

Environmental Attorney and community activist Seth Handy speaks about stewardship when it comes to his passion for the environment, and how this gift has to be preserved for our future generations.