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July 21, 2012

TMCnet GreenTech Week in Review



Green energy is a market that’s always seeing advancements. This week was no exception. TMCnet was there to cover it all; let’s take a look at some of it from the last few days.

In green technology news this week, a paleoclimatologist in Europe is offering some “cool news” about global warming; in the United States, a new study is forecasting that shale gas will liberate the nation from its dependence on imported fuel; and, in China, the Japanese multinational electronics corporation, Panasonic (News - Alert), is equipping a new lithium-ion battery plant on the premises of its existing factory in Suzhou.

There’s a new theory circulating about global warming and it is based on an analysis of the density of tree rings over the past 2,000 years. Robert Wilson, a paleoclimatologist at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, says that before cars, carbon emissions, and the other modern-day threats to the environment even existed – in the Roman and Medieval eras – the climate was warmer than it is today. The new data suggest that global warming is what a number of publications have now been terming a “blip.” But Wilson insists that these findings do not refute global warming; “Almost all models show that the current global warming is probably warmer overall than that warming,” he said.

While the Earth has responded to volcanic activity and to shifts in orbit in the past, the warming caused by humans is still perceived as a threat that is far different from its natural warming predecessors.

NYC-based PIRA Energy Group, an international energy consulting firm, has released a study, "The Road to U.S. Energy Independence: The Shale Revolution (News - Alert)” that predicts that the United States will steadily emerge as the world’s next energy leader, based on its abundant shale reserves – and particularly on the growth potential for shale liquids production and NGLs from both oil and gas drilling. The combination of anticipated growth in liquids production, coupled with essentially flat domestic demand, will lead to a structural decline in imports. Some of PIRA’s preliminary findings indicate that America’s energy imports are, even now, showing structural decline. Strong liquids growth also is forecast for Canada, driven by growing oil sands production and the country’s own shale liquids developments.

Panasonic Corporation has set up a new lithium-ion battery plant on the premises of its existing factory in Suzhou, China. Company officials said the new facility will facilitate integrated production – from polar plates to cells and battery packs—further strengthening the company's competitiveness in the global market. Industry experts opined that it’s a good move because lithium-ion batteries are expected to find wider applications in storage for solar and other intermittent power sources, as well as in battery driven electric vehicles.

NPD Solarbuzz reveals new insights into the photovoltaic cell industry. A technology roadmap for the PV industry will be released by 2013, which will outline the coming solar shakeout.  “Previously, the PV industry was pursuing a wide range of manufacturing technologies across different c-Si and thin-film types,” Analyst Ray Lian said. “This created significant challenges for PV equipment suppliers, as they were unsure which customers would survive for repeat business. However, the current manufacturing [competition] is playing a pivotal role in filtering out uncompetitive technologies from the industry.”

Richardson (News - Alert), Texas-based Eltek, a provider of high-efficiency power systems, has completed an off-grid hybrid solar-propane DC power system installation for Verizon Wireless (News - Alert). The company has deployed a Flatpack2 High Efficiency (HE) system at the U.S. wireless carrier’s base station in Bear Mountain, California – a remote site that serves both local residents and a large population of recreational hikers and outdoor lovers. The base station has no access to utility power.

Are you too busy texting to bother plugging in and charging up your electric car? Not a problem! Now, there’s a hands-free, wireless electric vehicle (EV) charging technology called Plugless Power, and it is already in trials on some Nissan LEAF vehicles.  Through what is ambitiously being called the “Apollo Launch Program,” launched in early 2012, six commercial partners in total will test wireless charging technology installed on either Nissan LEAFs or on Chevrolet VOLTs, in a variety of real-world applications. The Evatran solution relays a charge to an EV through a device mounted on a parking space. When positioned directly over the charger, a receiver mounted to the underside of the vehicle receives electricity across a span of several inches.

If you’ve ever worked in an office, you know that even during the hot summer months, it can be freezing cold inside. With the air conditioning pumping at all hours of the day, you might even need an office sweater in the middle of July. But if you work from home, you can control your energy use during the hottest months of the year. One of the pitfalls of telecommuting is that if you have central air, you’re not just cooling your home office, but the rest of your home too. Cut down on your energy usage by using these four simple tips: Use a desk fan so that you can turn your AC temperature up and still feel cool; wear lightweight natural fibers; eat “hot” foods such as chili peppers, to “trick” your body’s thermostat into cooling mode, and turn off large appliances, such as televisions, that produce heat.


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