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October 20, 2012

TMCnet GreenTech Week in Review



Green technology hit the news worldwide this week—as the European Union hatched plans for a continent-wide energy market; Chicago cut the ribbon on “the greenest street in America,” Coca-Cola helped bring clean water to Africa and South America, Kyocera (News - Alert) capped a stadium in Australia with solar modules; and Honda topped one million hybrid car sales.

Telco Telecom Slovenije, Slovenia’s fixed-line communications provider, announced this week that it would head a 36-month, US$6.2 million (€4.8 million) smart grid initiative, of which US$4.2 million (€3.2 million) will be funded by the European Commission. The objective of the eBADGE Project is to create a single, pan-European market for gas and electricity, using ICT tools—including a virtual power plant and cloud technology— to facilitate aggregated demand response and distributed generation capacity.

The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) has cut the ribbon on what it calls the “greenest street in America”— the first phase of a two-mile stretch of Blue Island Avenue and Cermak Road in the inner city Pilsen neighborhood. The gritty industrial corridor has been transformed into a leafy thoroughfare, with bike lanes, a pedestrian island, educational kiosks—and pavement that actually absorbs greenhouse gases and does not reflect the summer heat. In its first commercial roadway application, ever, photocatalytic cement–imported from an Italian firm called Italcementi—cleans the surface of the roadway and removes nitrogen oxide (NOx) gases from the surrounding air.

Coca-Cola has announced a partnership with DEKA Research & Development to bring water purification systems to communities in Africa and Latin America, where access to potable water is limited. This partnership is another step toward realizing Coke’s mission to replenish 100 percent of the water used in its beverages and production by 2020. The project involves the use of DEKA’s Slingshot water purification system, created by DEKA’s founder, Dean Kamen, an inventor of innovative medical devices, such as the a wearable infusion pump and the Segway Human Transporter. DEKA claims that Slingshot can produce clean water from almost any source: stagnant water, river water, ocean water and even raw sewage. It produces 10 gallons of clean water per hour on 500 watts of electricity—enough daily drinking water for 300 people.

Kyoto, Japan-based Kyocera Solar recently provided 348 kilowatts (kW) of solar modules to the Townsville RSL Stadium in North Queensland, Australia. The 1,800 modules will cover 90 percent of the sports venue’s roof, as well as shade-producing structures in the car park. The photovoltaic installation at the stadium, which will produce about 500 megawatt hours (MWh) of energy annually, is now the largest in North Queensland and will supply the equivalent of two-thirds of the stadium’s power requirements.

This week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded more than $7 million in grants nationwide to support the implementation of clean diesel projects. The grants were awarded as follows: over $5 million to California, about $1.4 million to Maine, $800,000 to Connecticut, and $100,000 to the Pacific Territories. Clean diesel projects funded through these grants nationwide will help to replace the more than 11 million older diesel engines that continue to emit higher levels of pollution. In this year’s competition, winners were selected based on a proposal’s potential for maximizing health and environmental benefits by targeting areas that have significant air quality issues. Also new this year is an increased funding availability per award that will enable EPA to target larger engines used in marine vessels and locomotives, which will result in significant emissions reduced per engine.

The latest sign of just how many people love hybrids is the announcement from Honda (News - Alert), which recently sold its one millionth vehicle. That number was reached at the end of September and comes 13 years after the automaker’s first hybrid vehicle, the Honda Insight, rolled off the assembly line in Japan. The original Insight was able to go 35 KM/Liter. That number was the world's highest fuel economy among all mass-production gasoline-powered vehicles at the time. Honda has been enhancing the lineup of hybrid vehicles it offers from the Insight and now has eight different models of hybrid cars in more than 50 different countries.

Portland, Oregon-based EPEAT—which ranks electronic products based on a rigorous set of environmental performance criteria—has tested five ultra-thin notebooks and found them to be in conformity with its standards.

The verification process was set in motion last July after Apple (News - Alert) unexpectedly pulled its products from the certification registry—and then reinstated them days later, amidst industry buzz that its MacBook Pro with Retina Display, introduced in June, would not pass muster. In its latest review, EPEAT looked at products from Apple, Lenovo, Samsung (News - Alert) and Toshiba, but the analysts have not specified which models were examined or confirmed that the MacBook Pro with Retina Display was among them. However, on its own environmental site, Apple claims that the “15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display achieved a Gold rating from EPEAT in the United States and Canada.”

Energid Technologies, a company that provides robotic systems and products, recently announced that its Actin software will be used with robotic systems being developed by AREVA Corporation for the servicing and inspection of nuclear power plants. Those robots could have come in handy following the tragic earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in 2011, causing major damage to the reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant complex.

Finally, two Massachusetts-based green companies hit the skids this week, as Satcon Technology Corporation, an inverter manufacturer, and A123 Systems, a battery maker, both filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.




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