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September 29, 2012

TMCnet GreenTech Week in Review



In green technology news this week, there’s a breakthrough that would make Mr. Green Jeans of the classic children's TV show, “Captain Kangaroo,” extremely proud—as well as many more industry developments to discuss.

Will the answer to global warming come out in the wash? Thanks to research collaboration between the University of Sheffield in South Yorkshire, England, and the London College of Fashion, that’s now a distinct possibility. The schools have jointly developed a rinse cycle additive that clings to clothes and purifies the air around them. The revolutionary liquid laundry additive, called CatClo, contains microscopic pollution-eating particles. Clothing only needs to be washed in the additive once; the nanoparticles of titanium dioxide grip fabrics very tightly. When the particles come into contact with nitrogen oxides in the air, they react with these pollutants and oxidize them. CatClo works particularly well on denim. The research, including a catalytic clothing field of jeans, will be featured at the Manchester Science Festival, October 27–November 4.

Atlanta-based Georgia Power made a move this week “to voluntarily develop the largest solar portfolio of any investor-owned utility.” The utility, which serves 2.4 million ratepayers throughout the state, filed a new solar initiative with the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC), under which it would acquire 210 megawatts of additional solar capacity through long-term contracts over a three-year period.

In related news, The Augusta (News - Alert) Chronicle reported that, last week, a start-up solar company filed papers with the PSC to become a utility and compete with Georgia Power to sell to retail customers statewide. It wants to build about ten times as much solar capacity as Georgia Power has now proposed.

Some of the nation’s most recognizable brands—among them, Coca-Cola, Intel, Kohl’s, Lockheed Martin, McDonald’s, Microsoft and Staples (News - Alert) —were recognized this week by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at the 12th Annual Green Power Leadership Awards. Awards were presented to 24 Green Power Partners and three suppliers at the Renewable Energy Markets Conference, held in Washington, DC, for their achievements in advancing the America’s renewable electricity market.

SoloPower, a start-up solar manufacturer based in Silicon Valley, began production on September 27, with the support of a $197 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy (DOE)—granted in August under the auspices of the same program that drove House Republicans to create the “No More Solyndras Act.” However, that piece of legislation, which detonated Democratic fireworks and fury, met its expected demise in the U.S. Senate this week. The DOE loan guarantee will back the construction and operation of three facilities in Portland, Oregon, that are expected to produce approximately 400 megawatts (MW) of thin film photovoltaic modules annually—as well as 450 full-time jobs, 270 construction positions, and several hundred additional supply chain jobs.

General Electric has introduced a portfolio of equipment for the utility industry in 60 hertz countries—including the United States, Japan, and Saudi Arabia—with the promise that the new product line has been “designed to deliver highly efficient baseload power, while pairing cleaner-burning natural gas with renewable resources.” The GE FlexEfficiency 60 portfolio, which offers outputs ranging from 185 megawatts (MW) to 300 MW, comprises two new large-block heavy-duty gas turbines (7F 7-series); enhancements to two existing GE gas turbines (7F 5-series); an enhanced D-17 steam turbine; a new H26 hydrogen-cooled generator; and Mark VIe Integrated Control System plant controls. GE also announced that it already has secured nearly $1.2 billion in new orders for the technology.

Quidsi, Inc.’s new website, Vine.com, came online this week. The company, which also owns the popular e-commerce sites Wag.com, Diapers.com and Casa.com, designed this site for eco-conscious consumers the world over. Vine.com will specialize in organic and natural products across a broad range of markets, from natural beauty products to wholesome snacks and home goods made of recycled materials. The new site got a boost coming out of the gate from Seventh Generation, which served as its launch partner.

Tesla, the luxury EV manufacturer, has announced that it will install supercharger stations nationwide in the United States. By 2015, the company hopes to have at least one hundred stations up and running across the country, making it more practical for people to invest in electric cars. The Supercharger stations function by delivering electricity directly to the car’s battery, instead of through the car’s charging system—in just 30 minutes.

In Morocco, the Solar Energy Agency revealed that the Saudi International Company for Water and Power, along with the Spanish Aries IS and TSK EE, will build a 160-megawatt solar power plant in the southern city of Ouarzazate. Morocco is doing more than simply trying to get its own country off the habit of fossil fuels. While the country has announced a program that should end with five solar power plants by 2020, the goal of that program is to produce enough energy that the nation could actually sell the excess power to other countries.

Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and AT&T (News - Alert) are teaming up to dramatically improve energy efficiency in the telecommunications company’s real estate holdings—comprising 65,000 facilities in more than 60 countries. Beginning with a high-level, portfolio-wide analysis, the RMI and AT&T teams will determine how efficiency investments can make the greatest impact. The product of that analysis will be a long-term capital and construction schedule for deploying extensive retrofits and other bundles of efficiency measures across a portfolio at the right time; utilizing the right technologies, business processes and operational strategies.

Finally, Google (News - Alert) and the Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA) have announced a joint agreement for GRDA to supply Google’s Mayes County, Oklahoma, data center with 48 megawatts (MW) of wind energy from the Canadian Hills Wind project in west central Oklahoma— a 300 MW wind farm slated to come online later this year. This agreement represents a milestone for both Google and GRDA: It marks the first time Google has contracted directly with a utility provider to increase its renewable energy consumption and it is GRDA’s first wind energy PPA (power purchase agreement).

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO Austin 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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