renewable energy

Passivhaus Institut Rewrites Certification Standards

Posted on April 18,2015 by ScottG in net-zero energy

Germany's Passivhaus Institut has created two new levels of compliance for certification that for the first time set minimums for renewable energy production as well as new limits on how much energy a building can consume. The changes are rolled into a new version of the Passive House Planning Package (PHPP), the modeling software that designers use in designing Passivhaus structures, and will go into effect with its release later in April.

Spanish Island Kicks the Oil Habit

Posted on April 18,2015 by ScottG in Canary Islands

In the Canary Islands off the west coast of Africa, residents of El Hierro are only a few months away from weaning themselves completely from fossil fuels for the generation of electricity. They will rely instead on a $110 million renewable energy system that uses both wind turbines and hydroelectric generation.

Austin, Texas, Will Boost Solar Output

Posted on April 18,2015 by ScottG in Austin

The Austin, Texas, city council has passed a resolution that requires a total of 800 megawatts in new photovoltaic (PV) within six years, a move that would make Texas one of the top 10 solar electricity producers in the country, Greentech Media reports.

Germany’s Bioenergy Villages

Posted on April 18,2015 by Andrew Dey in bioenergy village

The notion that a village can produce as much energy as it consumes is not new in Germany, nor is it exclusive to this country that has set aggressive targets for renewable energy use. In the mid-1990s, for example, the Austrian village of Güssing began implementing strategies to use local biomass to produce electricity and heat, and the Danish island community of Samsø installed wind turbines to meet its electrical needs.

Toronto Hosts Energy Conference in April

Posted on April 18,2015 by ScottG in All-Energy

Two hundred exhibitors and as many as 2,500 renewable energy professionals are expected at the All-Energy Canada Exhibition & Conference in Toronto on April 9 and 10, organizers said. The Toronto conference is one of three All-Energy conferences this year. Others are scheduled in Australia and Scotland.

An Energy-Efficiency Conference in Germany

Posted on April 18,2015 by Andrew Dey in DENA

Germany’s National Energy Agency, or DENA (Deutsche Energie Agentur), recently wrapped up its annual two-day conference in Berlin. The focus of this year’s conference was energy efficiency. I attended the conference hoping to gain a better understanding of how the government’s ambitious goals for energy efficiency are being met. Is Germany on track to reduce the energy it uses for heating by 20% by 2020? If so, how is this being achieved? If not, what are the obstacles?

Can Solar Power Solve the Coal Problem?

Posted on April 18,2015 by user-756436 in climate change

I recently read a New York Times article on the coal problem. In the future, the article notes, we won’t be able to burn coal at our current rate, so there is an obvious need to make a transition to alternative sources of energy. According to the Times article, the most likely replacement for coal is solar energy.

Germany’s Energy Revolution

Posted on April 18,2015 by Andrew Dey in Energiewende

My wife and I decided several years ago to spend a year living in Germany. I wanted finally to become fluent in German, after having been married for many years to a German engineer. I was also interested in learning about the materials, methods, and systems being used to make buildings more energy-efficient in Germany. We knew it would be educational for our two daughters to be immersed in a foreign culture, and we looked forward to spending more time with my wife’s family in Germany.

740 MW Solar Project Canceled in Nevada

Posted on April 18,2015 by ScottG in renewable energy

A $5 billion solar project in Nevada with a planned capacity of 740 megawatts has been shelved because there were no buyers for the electricity, a California public television station reports. KCET said the ENN Mojave Energy project was to have been built on 9,000 acres of county land near Laughlin, Nevada, which is near the California state line. When the plant was proposed in 2011, backers assumed that California utilities under pressure of a renewable energy law would be eager to buy the electricity.

NRDC: Burning Trees to Make Electricity is an ‘Environmental Disaster’

Posted on April 18,2015 by ScottG in biomass

The Natural Resources Defense Council says that forests in the southeastern U.S. are threatened by a growing demand here and in Europe for wood to fuel the production of electricity, a practice that produces more carbon pollution than coal, gas and oil. The "massive" fuel needs of electric utilities could double logging rates and "significantly" increase carbon emissions, the organization claims in a statement on its website.

Using Ocean Temperature Variations to Generate Electricity

Posted on April 18,2015 by ScottG in electric utility

Lockheed Martin, the U.S. defense giant, has announced plans to build a 10-megawatt generating plant that uses variations in ocean water temperatures to generate electricity. The plant will be built off the coast of southern China.

Växjö, Sweden, is a Model of Sustainability

Posted on April 18,2015 by AlexWilson in Agenda 21

My blog last week about Kansas and efforts to outlaw any mention or promotion of sustainability was so depressing (to write as well read) that I needed to find a more uplifting sequel. I needed to remind myself — and readers — that even if some politicians in Kansas don’t want to make the world a better place for their children and grandchildren, that’s not a universal attitude.

North Carolina Mulls Renewable Energy Rollback

Posted on April 18,2015 by ScottG in electric utility

A bill narrowly approved by a North Carolina legislative committee would repeal renewable energy requirements established in 2007.

Just How Big Should a Photovoltaic Array Be?

Posted on April 18,2015 by ScottG in net zero

Kevin Dickson has come across an article about a high-performance house in Massachusetts that has got him wondering whether big photovoltaic systems are overtaking Passivhaus to become the next big trend in high-efficiency building. The house is the work of R. Carter Scott and a design team that included Betsy Pettit and Joe Lstiburek of Building Science Corp., among a number of other experts. It was one of eight in Devens, Mass., that Scott’s company, Transformations Inc., was chosen to build for MassDevelopment, the state’s finance and development authority.

Big Variations in Annual Energy Use

Posted on April 18,2015 by user-1095434 in energy monitoring

One thing I learned while following the energy usage of buildings I designed was that as a building’s energy needs are reduced, and the fraction of those needs supplied by solar energy increases, the variation in backup energy (purchased energy) increases from year to year. Let's look at the monitoring data for our house, and compare the winter of 2011-2012 with the winter of 2012-2013. Due to colder weather and changing lifestyles, we used 23% more energy over these months in 2012-2013 than in the previous year.

Installing a Photovoltaic System

Posted on April 18,2015 by user-1095434 in photovoltaic

[Editor's note: What follows is a compilation of blog entries by Marc Rosenbaum describing the performance of the [no-glossary]photovoltaic[/no-glossary] system installed on the roof of his Massachusetts house.]

Updated Encyclopedia Page on Photovoltaic Systems

Posted on April 18,2015 by GBA Team in photovoltaic

Only a few years ago, the installed cost of a grid-connected photovoltaic (PV) system was about $7 per watt. Now that inexpensive PV modules are widely available, the price has been cut in half (to about $3.50 per watt) in many areas of the U.S. As architect Jesse Thompson pointed out in his GBA guest blog, PV Systems Have Gotten Dirt Cheap, falling PV prices are a game-changer.

Photovoltaics, Part 1: Shedding Light on the Basics

Posted on April 18,2015 by ChrisBriley in photovoltaic array

In order to understand whether a photovoltaic (PV) system is appropriate for the project you're working on, you really have to understand the metrics and basics of solar electric systems. Phil and I sat down, turned on the mic, and did our best to convey the basic concepts and rules of thumb that most green professionals should know. Of course, this episode lays the groundwork for Part 2, in which we will cover the financial implications of a PV system.

Is a Ground-Source Heat Pump a Renewable Energy System?

Posted on April 18,2015 by ab3 in geothermal

Here's another rant that goes in my “drives me crazy” bin of articles. I'm in good company, too. Another article that ran at Green Building Advisor recently discussed making the choice between an air-source heat pump and a ground-source (a.k.a. “geothermal”) heat pump.

Getting Off Fossil Fuels

Posted on April 18,2015 by AlexWilson in air-source heat pump

There are a lot of things not to like about fossil fuels. Most obviously, the burning of oil, natural gas, propane, and coal releases huge quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, where it traps heat through the greenhouse effect.

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