Current News on Sustainability

Getting U.S. Offshore Wind Farms Built: Integrating Knowledge from the European Market

North American Clean Energy

At the end of 2012, the estimated installed capacity of offshore wind exceeded five gigawatt (GW). The majority of this energy lies in European waters with some in China and Japan.  In the U.S., a number of offshore projects are in advanced stages of development but installation has yet to occur. Some common challenges include: high development and construction costs, obtaining accurate predictions, grid capability, and constrained supply chains. It remains possible to complete projects with minimal delays and within the overall budget allowance. The success of a project depends on the willingness to seek independent advice, use of proven technologies and supplies, and realistic provisions for construction costs and timelines. Although offshore wind power in North America Is still in the planning stages, several committed companies are pushing for this to become a reality.

Read more: here


A Floating Wind Tower in Launched in Maine

New York Times: 31 May 2013

Offshore wind had not yet caught on in the United States due to the steep cost of erecting a tower in the water, but at the University of Maine, researchers have tried another cheaper approach by launching a floating wind tower which is the first wind installation in the United States. Its 20 Kilowatts has enough capacity to fuel only a handful of large homes during a summer day but this is only the beginning. Two advantages distinguish the new project from onshore ones: it can catch the strong breezes on a sunny summer afternoon and it can produce more electricity than onshore towers. The floating wind tower sits on three concrete tubes.  It is one of seven projects under a $ 168 million government aided program.

Read more: here


Energy-smart, ‘green’ practices the new must-haves in commercial buildings

The Advocate: 30 May 2013

When companies look for a building location, one of their first priorities usually is location. However, factors like reduced energy bills and having equipment that make a smaller impact on the environment are rising on companies’ priority list. Stamford, Connecticut is joining the Commercial & Industrial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) program, which will give building owners in the state’s third-largest city an ally in their efforts to be “green.”

Read More: here


Japan’s Big Jump Forward

Solar Today: April 2013

Growth in renewable energy, especially solar, has been proceeding at a frenetic pace since Japan initiated its generous feed-in tariff on July 1, 2012. This incentive enticed everyone, including oil companies, to participate. Japan is expected to be the world’s third biggest solar market this year, right behind China and the United States/Italy. The goal is for renewables to provide 40 percent of Japan’s electricity by 2030.

Read More: here



Articles of Interest: Sept 23 – Oct 4, 2011

windmill and smokestacksHow Will We Fuel the Future?

September 23, 2011

Fareed Zakaria in his op-ed piece, NYT, ‘Fueling the Future’ analyses the current energy crises the world faces at this moment. His analysis goes further than the discussion put forward by Daniel Yergin in his book “The Quest, Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World.” Zakaria argues that though technological advances have been made in terms of solar,wind and biofuel, we still lack sufficient technology to store the harvested energy and is expensive compared to coal. Even though nuclear energy remains the most viable carbon-free technology, the public opinion againstnuclear power makes it impossible for governments to pursue them. In his conclusion, Zakari says that while raising carbon tax is a possible solution,he also highlights the need to invest in research on green technology that will continue to make it cheaper than the production of energy from coal. This will help ensure that renewables are adopted by emerging developing countries as China and India, both of whom continue to have a large dependency on coal.


A Way to Make Motor Fuel Out of Wood? Add Water

September 27, 2011


A Georgia company, Renmatix, has been experimenting with a technology that

treats agricultural waste and turns it into vehicle fuel and other chemicals

using compressed water heated to a very high temperature. If it works, the

technology could reduce reliance on oil imports for gasoline in favor of a

cleaner-burning and less expensive source of energy. More importantly, as the

supply of cellulosic biomass, or wood chips, is far larger than the amount of

corn available for making ethanol, it does not involve diverting resources from

food production.


Blue Mountain Geothermal Plant, NV

A US-Backed Geothermal Plant in Nevada Struggles:

Unpredictability of Renewable Technology

October 2, 2011

A Nevada Geothermal Power plant in a remote desert location in northern Nevada is struggling with the debt after encountering the problems with power output. The geothermal plant generates only 35megawatts compared to its predicted output of 45megawatts when the funds were approved. This uncertainty of power output and time taken to construct geothermal installation makes them much riskier investments compared to solar and wind. The federal government investment in the plant stands at $79 million as loan guarantee and $66 million in the form of grants.


Bullitt Center in Seattle
Bullitt Center in Seattle, as proposed

The Self-Sufficient Office Building

October 4, 2011

A six-story $30million Bullitt Center in Seattle is set to be the greenest commercial structure in the world. The center will generate its own power, supply and treat its own water including rainwater while it will also avoid using hazardous ‘red listed’ materials as lead and cadmium. The energy consumption is estimated to be one-forth of the typical building of same size while the designs of the building will ensure energy efficiency. The key however, is making sure that the new tenants are more environmental conscious.


Renewable Energy in the Green Economy, UN New York

Informal Workshop on Renewable Energy in the Context of the Green Economy

Tuesday 28 June 2011

The Permanent Missions of the Republic of Korea and Denmark to the United Nations hosted an informal workshop on Renewable Energy in the context of the Green Economy with presentations of the private sector. The workshop served as a platform for discussion of how implementation of renewable energy technologies can contribute to the transition to a new era of sustainable energy and development. The workshop generated recognition that renewable energy can be a cost-effective, feasible policy alternative in the transition to a new era of the green economy.


 Solar: Mr. James Brown, Senior Vice President of Project Finance, First Solar

  • Mission: To create enduring value by enabling a world powered by clean, affordable solar electricity
  • Solar energy has minimal carbon footprint compared to coal, oil and gas
  • First Solar is the lowest cost photovoltaic manufacturer in the world
  • Solar panels produced have high energy yield in both optimal and shaded conditions
  • Production capacity for solar technologies growing at rapid rates, in part because of the construction of new solar power plants.
  • Sales are expanding from Europe and US to India, Australia, and possibly Mideast, South Africa and Southeast Asia in 2012 and on
  • Benefits and positive externalities of solar energy production
    • Carbon footprint > Fraction of convention thermal technologies like coal
    • Job creation à Development, construction, maintenance
    • Skills development > Construction and maintenance knowledge – broadly applicable
    • Speed of installation > Limited time from concept to energy delivery
    • Energy security > Locally produced clean energy is an abundant resource
    • Energy payback > Generating energy with short time investment return by using photovoltaics
    • Water usage > Minimal water use during construction and for ongoing requirements
    • Fully pre-funded module recycling program

 Wind: Mr. Henrik Breun, Director of Government Relations, Vestas

  • Vestas has installed over 43,000 turbines in 65 countries across 5 continents, saving the planet from over 40 million tons of CO2 yearly
  • In reality, start-up cost of wind and new coal production are equal
    • Wind continues to be the lowest life cycle greenhouse gas emissions energy source, no water + no carbon power is produced
    • A Vestas turbine alone is carbon neutral after only seven months of energy production; during its lifetime it saves the atmosphere from 2220,000 tons of CO2
    • Green Jobs: Being more labor and less fuel-intensive, one GWh of wind power production leads to higher employment than conventional forms of energy.
    • Funding is not only essential but public policy is also necessary to stimulate private sector investments

Biomass: Ms. Leticia Phillips, Representative – North America, UNICA

  • UNICA: Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association
    • Leading sugarcane industry association, representing over 120 producers and mills and responsible for 60% of all ethanol and sugar production in Brazil
      • Sugar (35 million tons) > Ethanol (7 billion Gallons) > Electricity (16,000 GWh)
      • Sugarcane is Brazil’s #1 source of renewable energy, #2 behind petroleum
      • 600 million tons of CO2 emissions avoided thanks to use of ethanol since 1975
      • Sugarcane is not only a Brazil story
        • Today 100 countries could supply biofuels to 200 nations, replacing the current 20 oil producers provide fossil fuels.
        • Social sustainability: government, industry, and workers unions must unite to create new frameworks of sustainable development

Energy storage: Mr. Robert H. Lee, Senior Vice President, SK Innovation

  • Shaping the Energy Future through Energy Storage Systems
    • 19th Century > Coal era, 20th Century > Oil era, 21st century > The Multiple Energy era
    • Type of energy storage
      • Chemical energy and Physical energy
        • Chemical: Electrochemical (rechargeable battery + flow battery) and material (hydrogen)
        • Physical: Electromagnetic (ultra-capacitor), kinetic (flywheels), potential (pumped hydro), thermodynamic (compressed air)
        • Proliferation of renewable energy and smart grid will stimulate demand for energy storage systems
        • Electric vehicles
          • Market is expanding faster than expected
          • By 2018, prediction of 9 million electric vehicles produced per year
          • Types:
            • Hybrid: Motor support, fuel tank, power source: similar to traditional car model construction
            • Plug-in: Power source and electric generator used
            • Electric vehicle: Battery and motor
            • Moving forward: Private sector must make long-term commitment and really drive towards technology breakthroughs, and the public sector has to bridge the cost of research and investment through financial support (subsidies, investment credits, and grants/direct investment

Policies for spreading Renewable Energy: Dr. Nakicenovic (IIASA, International Institute for Applies Systems Analysis)

  • Endorses the 2030 Energy Goals of UN Secretary General
    • Universal Access to Modern Energy
    • Reduction of Energy Intensity by 40%
    • Increase of Renewable Share to 30%
    • Transformation of Energy Systems
      • Time for Action: institutions, policies, incentives, rules, regulations & behavior
      • Co-benefits: security, reduced pollution, improved health and environmental protection
      • Long-term: within planetary boundaries, goal of stabilizing temperature increase to 2°C can be achieved