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November 17, 2012

TMCnet GreenTech Week in Review



In green technology developments this week, as Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on the East Coast this month, desperate utility customers—left without lights, heat and electronics for weeks—bitterly complained that there should be a better way to transmit power, monitor system faults, and make repairs to the energy infrastructure. Meanwhile, several clever individuals and organizations touted their own solutions to the widespread outages.

While many storm-weary residents made do with flashlights, candles, fireplaces and generators, at least one area resident powered his home– including lights, laptops and a television –  with three quarters of a tank of gas left in his Toyota Prius. Using a little-known ability of hybrid battery/gas cars like the Prius, Bob Sakala of Paramus, New Jersey, hooked up a power inverter and a few extension cords to make thecar’s powerful battery a back-up power source for his home for a solid week. Sakala told MSNBC, "The neighbors kept saying, 'Does Bob have a generator?' No, it's the Prius. It's a spaceship." Both Xcel Energy and the federal National Renewable Energy Laboratory are reportedly exploring this type of vehicle-to-grid technology. Another great benefit of hybrid or electric vehicles after storms? Their owners are much better positioned to survive the shortages of gasoline that parts of the Northeast are experiencing right now.

Mage Solar, a single-source PV-solution provider based in the United States, has released a 3-kilowatt (kW) emergency kit for the residential and small commercial markets designed to keep power flowing during grid outages.. It features Mage Solar's Powertec Plus modules, a pitched roof mounting solution and Balance of System components; as well as an inverter with charge controller unit that can power an existing battery system or provide electricity directly to appliances and other essential devices, such as communications equipment. This UL-listed device is designed specifically for quick response to any power requirement, while continuing to provide electricity from the PV array to the home even when the grid is unavailable.

According to a new report released by Boulder, Colorado-based Pike Research (News - Alert), as a non-terrestrial-based network, satellite communications may be the only solution to keep the grid connected or to bring it back online rapidly in cases of natural (or manmade) disasters. Looking ahead, the analysts said, satellite appears to be well-positioned to play a growing role in the next-generation grid. In fact, while satellite will undoubtedly remain a relatively small element of the overall smart grid picture worldwide, Pike estimates that the global revenue generated by both equipment and services will amount to a total of nearly $2.1 billion cumulatively between 2012 and 2020.

As the smart grid market matures, applications like substation automation, distribution automation, advanced

And for those who experienced “water, water everywhere – but not a drop to drink” during the height of the storm, there may be a solution, thanks to the patent-pending commercial Atmospheric Water Generators (AWG) produced by Port St. Lucie, Florida-based GR8 Water, Inc. GR8 Water’s free-standing three-, five- and 10-ton AWGs can produce up to 3,500 gallons of water daily byextracting moisture from the ambient air using a technologically advanced system that relies on the natural process of condensation to transform air into water. This water is then purified using a special ozonation process and UV filtration. In the United States, GR8 Water Factories use a standard 110V outlet in the States; in Europe, a 220V outlet is required. The GR8 Water Factory also can be used with solar, wind, and/or gas/diesel generators, which makes it possible to generate clean water during power outages.

In other green technology news, Silicon Valley search giant Google (News - Alert) announced on its blog this week that it has made an equity investment of $75 million in a50-megawatt (MW) wind farm located in Rippey, a small town in Greene County, about an hour outside of Des Moines. The Rippey project – developed by West Des Moines-based RPM Access and now in operation –comprises over 3,500 acres and 20 turbines, together with the substation. It represents one of the first wind farms in Iowa to use 100-meter-tall towers, designed to provide better wind exposure for the 2.5-megawatt turbines. It is expected to produce enough energy to power more than 15,000 Iowa homes. This project brings Google’s committed investment to the renewable energy sector to more than $990 million. And there may be more news in the pipeline: At presstime, Google was expected to join state leaders Friday for another big announcement pertaining to investment in Iowa and it Council Bluffs data center.

Just in time for the holiday gift-giving season, U.S. Post Offices will acceptpackages containing lithium batteries found in electronic devices. This is particularity good news for online merchants sending electronics internationally. In May, international online merchants were left frustrated when a ban prevented the USPS (News - Alert) from accepting packages containing lithium batteries and electronic products containing lithium batteries, addressed to destinations outside of the United States. The order did not apply to packages mailed domestically. The USPS ban was supposed to be enforced through January 2013, missing the prime shipping and shopping month of December, but now the ban is said to lift November 15.

 AT&T (News - Alert), BMW and Tendril will co-sponsor a jointhackathon in New York City from November 16 to 18. The goal is to focus on application development around the intersection of electric vehicles (EVs), mobility services, sustainability and the connected smart home. The three-day event will be part of the seven-city BMW i Born Electric Tour, which celebrates the unveiling of the hybrid-electric Concept BMW i8 and the fully-electric Concept BMW i3. The world tour and hackathon also will highlight BMW's sustainable and holistic approach to technology and lifestyle. 

Finally, the streets of San Francisco are going “smart” starting this month, with a secure, integrated wireless communication monitoring and control system that will first be used toremotely manage the city’s lights – and in the future, is being considered as a control mechanism for a variety of urban services, including electric vehicle (EV) charging station data transmission, electric meter reading, street surveillance, traffic monitoring and more.




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