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August 11, 2012

TMCnet GreenTech Week in Review



In green technology news this week, some big brands—Coca-Cola, Wal-Mart, General Electric, and Ford—made headlines for their renewable energy efforts, while the United States opened up federal lands for solar and wind projects and France took steps to support its electric vehicle industry.

Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Refreshments has earned the number-three spot—or Bronze, in Olympic terms— on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) list of the largest on-site green power generators. EPA's Green Power Partnership includes more than 1,300 organizations, which have been recognized for their deployment of alternative energies. A key factor in Coca-Cola Refreshments' high ranking is the recent installation of a landfill-gas-to-energy system at one of its Atlanta facilities. The list, (in descending order from one to 20) included: Wal-Mart Stores, BMW Manufacturing., Coca-Cola Refreshments, U.S. Air Force, City of San Francisco, Kohl’s Department Stores, SC Johnson & Son, City of San Jose, City of San Diego, City of Portland (Oregon), Encino Wastewater Authority, Adobe Systems Inc (News - Alert)., City of Tulane (California), Google, University of Iowa, Safeway, City of Santa Cruz, Zotos International, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and Central Michigan University.

Have you caught wind of the news at Benton, Arkansas-based discount retailer Wal- Mart Stores (also mentioned on the list above)? This week, the company unveiled its first onsite industrial-scale wind turbine pilot project at its distribution center in Red Bluff, California. The wind turbine, which is expected to be operational by this fall, will provide roughly one megawatt of power—or 15 to 20 percent of the distribution center’s yearly electrical use. The new wind turbine tower is as high as a 20-story building (265 feet), with a blade diameter of about 250 feet. The GE SLE 1.0 Megawatt Wind Turbine is projected to produce approximately 2,200,000 kilowatt hours annually.

According to the New York City-based Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE (News - Alert)), the rapid adoption of electric vehicles (EV) is being hindered by the lack of a uniform rechargeable battery with sufficient power for extended-range driving. Now, engineers at the GE Global Research Center are building a new “battery brain” that will make the car batteries powering electric vehicles even smarter and longer-lasting. At the core of the new GE system are sophisticated “ultrathin” sensors that monitor and manage battery vitals, such as temperature, voltage and current. The tiny sensors gather a rich harvest of data that will optimize and manage the battery and extend its life.  The GE team has partnered with Ford Motor Company, which manufactures the Focus EV, and researchers at the University of Michigan to develop the sensors. Ford will test prototypes inside its EVs.

U.S. President Barack Obama announced this week that he is cutting some red tape to expedite seven “nationally and regionally significant” solar and wind energy projects on federal lands. Together, these initiatives – based in Arizona, California, Nevada and Wyoming –are designed to produce nearly 5,000 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy, or enough to power approximately 1.5 million American homes. In the spirit of Obama’s “We Can’t Wait” initiative, the Office of Management and Budget has been charged with overseeing what the White House describes as a “a government-wide effort to make the permitting and review process for infrastructure projects more efficient and effective.” Five of the seven projects are scheduled to complete the permitting process by the end of January 2013. Additional expedited infrastructure projects will be announced in the coming weeks.

French carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroen – which last week announced a 15.2 percent drop in European sales during the first half of 2012, resulting in a net loss of €662 million (US $821 million) — has announced that it “welcomes” a recovery plan unveiled on August 1 by French Industrial Recovery Minister Arnaud Montebourg at a press conference in Paris. The plan will drive consumer and government purchases of “green” electric and hybrid vehicles, provide funding for factory upgrades, encourage use of domestic content, and offer support to small businesses.

When a private firm proposed a plan to build an experimental tech city in the middle of New Mexico, the nearby residents were all on-board. The objective of the ghost town was to test new and emerging technologies that could support a green economy, but almost as soon as the residents celebrated the news that their county was selected for the experiment, the firm backed out without explanation – leaving many wonder about this mysterious firm, Pegasus Global Holdings. Nobody was more surprised about the abrupt change of plans than Lea County’s mayor, Sam Cobb, who told the press that he found out about it from the paper. The plans for the city were to include state-of-the-art wireless networks, progressive traffic systems and even self-flushing toilets. Although the ghost town project remains enshrouded by mystery, people following this event believe that the project will eventually pick up.

Buildings “of a certain age” in New York City are more energy efficient than others, according to an analysis of the first benchmarking data collected under Local Law 84 (LL84) of 2009, which covers the power profile of 1.7 billion square feet of office and residential space in the five boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island. That certain age? About 100 years old. Newer buildings in the Big Apple (News - Alert) tend to use more energy per square foot than older ones. This trend is generally true for buildings dating back to the early 1900s, with each 20-year group using more energy per square foot than the prior group. And that’s just one of the fascinating facts to come out of the first-ever compilation of energy data under the law, which requires all privately owned properties comprising individual buildings over 50,000 square feet — or encompassing multiple buildings with a combined square footage of over 100,000 square feet — to annually measure and report their power and water usage. 

Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack has announced a $105 million loan guarantee to Fulcrum (News - Alert) Sierra BioFuels, LLC, to finance development of a ground-breaking facility in Storey County, Nevada, where municipal solid waste will be converted into advanced biofuels. Once operational, the plant is expected to convert 147,000 tons of processed municipal solid waste into over 10 million gallons of advanced biofuels annually, using a two-part thermo-chemical process.

Finally, Ozoshare, a social networking platform dedicated to the green world, was launched this week. Driven solely by green interests, Ozoshare is a social media platform with a difference. It claims to be the first and only private, secure, user-friendly social network site that is entirely dedicated to the green community. Members need to create an Ozoshare profile. They can choose to have either a business page or a personal page or both. They can also create custom pages and connect to partners from there. Other Ozoshare members who visit these pages can express their approval or otherwise just as they do on Facebook.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO West 2012, taking place Oct. 2-5, in Austin, TX.  Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.




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