Category Archives: Green Technology

Fat Cow – Saving the Environment One Website at a Time

It was recently brought to my attention that the electricity used to run and host our two websites (anywheresolartech.com and pnsenergy.com) is offset 200% by wind energy! That means that Fat Cow, our website host, compensates for twice the electricity it takes to run their business and our websites.

Wind Power Farm in Texas

They don’t personally produce that much power with wind mills outside their office but for any electricity they use, they purchase RECs (Renewable Energy Credits) as a “Green Power Partner” of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. By doing so, they prevent the release of 999 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year.

Fat Cow is committed to supporting clean energy and they also stress responsible environmental behavior in and out of the office and we are proud to be associated with this forward thinking company.

Dairy Cow

For those who were disappointed we weren’t talking about real cows.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Alternative Fuel, Carbon Footprint, Energy Efficiency, Environment, Green Technology, Innovation, Renewable Energy, San Diego, Uncategorized

Algae Biodiesel – The Story Behind the Scum

While routinely searching the web for interesting energy stories I came across a headline stating that an investment shift will lead to the algae biofuel market increasing 43.1% annually over the short term. This is great news, I think…wait, I actually have no idea what impact the algae biodiesel market has on our search for alternative fuels. With that said, it is about time to learn a little bit about biofuels and biodiesel as an alternative to petroleum fuels. Considering that algae garnered my initial interest I focused on the fuel that can be created from this seemingly unimportant pond scum.

Algae Biodiesel as an alternative fuel

Algae could be powering our diesel engines in the near future.

According to HowStuffWorks.com, “biodiesel is an alternative or additive to standard diesel fuel that is made from biological ingredients instead of petroleum (or crude oil).” In the case of algae, the oil is extracted from the plant through a process called transesterification. “In this process, the fat or oil is first purified and then reacted with an alcohol, usually methanol (CH3OH) or ethanol (CH3CH2OH) in the presence of a catalyst such as potassium hydroxide (KOH) or sodium hydroxide (NaOH). When this happens, the triacylglycerol is transformed to form esters and glycerol. The esters that remain are what we then call biodiesel.”

Ok, enough technical talk for today. Here is a list of the most interesting things I discovered about biodiesel.

  1. History – Rudolf Diesel envisioned vegetable oil as a fuel source for his engine in the early 1900’s. He actually demonstrated his peanut oil powered engine at the World Exhibition in Paris, France. Henry Ford also expected his Model T to run off ethanol, a corn oil.
  2. Algae as a fuel source was first explored in 1978 under President Jimmy Carter.

    Biodiesel created from soybean is one of the more popular biofuels today

  3. Biodiesel can be created from a variety of natural sources, including soybeans, flax, mustard, rapeseed, sunflower, palm, hemp, jatropha, pennycress, algae, animal fats, and waste vegetable oil.
  4. One acre of algae can produce 100,000 gallons of oil per year – HowStuffWorks.com states that “a 100-acre algae biodiesel plant could potentially produce 10 million gallons of biodiesel in a single year. Experts estimate it will take 140 billion gallons of biodiesel per year to completely replace petroleum-based products. To reach this goal, algae biodiesel companies would need about 95 million acres of land to build biodiesel plants.” In comparison , with other biodiesel (corn or soy) we would need billions of acres to replace petroleum.
  5. Creating biofuel from algae also reduces carbon dioxide pollution. Algae consumes carbon dioxide during the biodiesel production process leading to algae biodiesel manufacturers building their plants near energy manufacturing plants that release a lot of carbon dioxide.
  6. Alternative Biodiesel – Can coffee grounds be processed as a biofuel? According to researchers at the University of Nevada-Reno, coffee grounds can contain up to 20% oil. After some processing, the oil from these grounds meet the standards set by the ASTM International(American Society for Testing and Materials) for biodiesel. They estimated that if all the waste grounds generated by the world’s coffee drinkers were gather and reprocessed, the yield would amount to 2.9 million gallons of diesel fuel each year.
  7. In addition to biodiesel, algae can be used to produce hydrogen and biomass, two other fuel sources. It can also be used as nutrient rich food source, a fertilizer, a stabilizing agent, and a pollution control substance.

    Doesn’t look the best but gets the job done

  8. U.S biodiesel production is growing rapidly – From 28 million gallons in 2004 to 245 billion gallons in 2006. The study that grabbed my interest came from SBI that expects algae biofuels to see market growth of 43.1% annually.

For more information on algae biodiesel I would recommend visiting the How Stuff Works comprehensive guide on all things biodiesel – How Algae Biodiesel Works.

Also, check out this nice video from the U.S. Department of Energy:

Leave a comment

Filed under Alternative Fuel, Biodiesel, Environment, Green Technology, Renewable Energy

What is Concentrated Solar Power?

Concentrated Solar Power, or CSP, is the process of generating electricity by using the heat from sunlight to push a steam turbine that is connected to an electric generator. There are different ways to go about this but one of the most eye catching methods is the “power tower.” A tall tower is constructed in the middle of a field of mirrors, or more specifically, a field of heliostats. Heliostats are mirrors that track the path of the sun and reflect the light towards the power tower (which then turns that light/heat into electricity using steam turbines).

To learn more about how CSP works, watch this great video from Top Gear as they visit one the world’s first solar power tower.

In more recent news, the soon-to-be largest CSP plant has reached the halfway point of construction. The 370 Mega-Watt Ivanpah Concentrating Solar Power Plant is located in the Mojave Desert in California. Once completed, it will generate enough electricity to power more than 140,000 California homes and businesses.

The Ivanpah project will provide $400 million in local and state tax revenues, and produce $650 million in wages, over its first 30-year life. (Source: REVE)

Look for more CSP plants popping up in the near future. It is one of the more promising methods of producing sustainable electricity considering there is plenty of ideal space for these plants in generally inhospitable , sunny, desert environments.

1 Comment

Filed under Environment, Green Technology, Innovation, Renewable Energy, Solar

Brazil Hopes to Make the 2014 FIFA World Cup the Most Sustainable Yet

Considering my love for soccer and interest in renewable energy, this story about the 2014 World Cup caught my eye (and reinforced my decision to make the trip in two years). Using solar technology as the lynchpin, Brazil has set a goal of meeting minimum LEED sustainability standards in all 12 of their venues for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Professional athletics and renewable energy appear to be on a collision course for the greater good. Large solar and renewable energy companies are beginning to invest large amounts of money into athletic team sponsorships and advertising. On the other side, professional athletic clubs have seen the public relations benefits and money saving potential in adopting renewable energy and sustainable building.

This seemingly match made in heaven will benefit us all. Millions of people each year attend sporting events and watch on TV (people watch the Super Bowl just to see the ads). What better way to spread renewable energy technologies and sustainable living practices than through professional sports teams and large sporting venues.

The Mané Garrincha stadium in Brasília (Source: Castro Mello Arq. Esportiva via Renewableenergyworld.com)

Brazil will be taking sustainable building and renewable energy to a whole new level in 2014. The World Cup is already the largest sporting event in the world – according to FIFA.com over 3.2 billion people watched at least one minute of the 2010 World Cup – and now they aim to make it the most sustainable event yet. Of the twelve stadiums that plan to meet minimum LEED sustainable standards, 7 plan to integrate solar into the design. The highlight will be the Mane Garrincha (pictured above) in Brasilia – this venue will hopefully be the first football(soccer) stadium in the world to achieve LEED Platinum status, the highest level available. A 2.5 MW solar array installed on the tensioned canvas roof will help get it there. This system will cover more than 50% of the electricity needed during peak tournament times and will produce more than enough during normal operation, allowing the stadium to feed the excess into the grid.

Other highlights of stadium construction in Brazil include: the Maracanã in Rio, the host of the final, which will feature a ring of solar panels in the roof, the Mineirão in Belo Horizonte will have around 1.5 MWp of solar installed on its roof, and the Pernambuco Arena in Recife will install solar heating to supply the hot water in changing rooms, restrooms, and restaurants.

One of the largest drivers of renewable energy at the World Cup and sport in general  is Yingli Solar. “In 2010, Yingli Solar became the first renewable energy company to sponsor the FIFA World Cup.” (FIFA.com) As a result of this partnership, Yingli agreed to install PV Solar technology at 20 Football for Hope centers developed in Africa during the 2010 World Cup. Yingli has also partnered with some other very prominent sporting organizations in order to spread “green” awareness and build their brand. They are currently the official sponsors of the 2014 World Cup, the United States Men’s, Women’s, and Youth Soccer Teams, FC Bayern Munich Soccer,  and the New York Jets. Yingli provided the Jets with more than 3000 solar panels for an installation on their practice facility. The 690 kWp system is the largest installation at an NFL team headquarters.

Huge solar installation at the Jets team headquarters. The largest PV install at an NFL team headquarters.

These are just a few examples of professional athletics “going green” and the trend seems to be catching on around the country (and world). However, considering that nearly half of the Earth’s population will see some of the World Cup, the fact that Brazil has committed to renewable energy will have a great impact on how the people of the world view sustainability. Read more here about Brazil’s efforts to adopt PV solar technology by 2014.

1 Comment

Filed under Conservation, Environment, Green Building, Green Technology, Renewable Energy, Solar

In Case You Missed It: Vol. 9

We have taken a few weeks off so for this edition of ICYMI we are bringing you important news from what has been taking up all of our time.
Anywhere Solar Technologies is bringing you the most versatile and innovative solar modules to hit the market. The official release party took place last week at the International Builders Show in Orlando, FL on February 8th.

SS-3205 – It’s Time To Get Smart About Solar

The SS-3205 is the perfect combination of performance, style and innovation. It’s compact size, coupled with the ability to be arranged virtually anywhere the sun shines will create a whole new view on the collection of solar energy. No longer are we tied to expensive, distracting roof-top arrays. Today, believe that solar power where you want it is the future and the SS-3205 is the perfect vehicle to move the world beyond conventional solar power!

With Anywhere Solar’s highest powered solar module there are truly no limits to where you can produce free clean energy!

Check out this unique installation we just completed. By attaching SS-3205’s around the entire roof railing we have been producing on average 723 watt hours per day for the past week.

Before

Simple attachment to the roof

After the Install - Can you spot the solar?

Contact bennet@anywheresolartech.com for more information about Anywhere Solar Technologies and the SS-3205.

Leave a comment

Filed under Energy Efficiency, Environment, Green Building, Green Technology, Renewable Energy, Solar, Uncategorized

In Case You Missed It: Vol. 3

  1. This past week our office discovered the brilliance of StumbleUpon. Among the first things we “stumbled” upon were some very interesting stories about the future of the solar industry. One thing that kept popping up was the idea that solar can (and hopefully will) power the Earth. This blog highlights some more of the more ambitious and jaw dropping solar ideas – click through to read about the desert and deep space.
  2. Staying with the future of solar theme, we found an article today summarizing a report out of the University of Texas where Xiaoyang Zhu found a way to “increase the efficiency of solar cells to 66 percent.” Right now, cells in production are between 12-20% efficiency.
  3. Ford has begun manufacturing the Ford Focus Electric which boasts 100 mpg equivalency and a revolutionary charging systems that “should be able to fully recharge in three to four hours – half the time of Nissan Leaf.” The Focus Electric will be available for order in California and New York next year. This new EV may not be much of an improvment on the cars already on the market but shows that large car manufacturers are dedicated to implementing new technologies and improving on the electric vehicle.
  4. More Military News – “The U.S. Navy is moving forward with plans to create a ‘Green Strike Force’ by purchasing 450,000 gallons of drop-in biofuel to be used on jets and vessels.” Read more here.
  5. And finally we leave you with an awesome video from Ice Cube and Pacific Standard Time. Ice Cube studied architectural drafting before he started his career as a rap artist and in this short film he explores Los Angeles and highlights Eames Architecture – pioneers in green building.

Leave a comment

Filed under Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency, Environment, Green Technology, Solar

Beautifully Built BIPV (Building Integrated Photo Voltaics)

Here is an example of a solar installation that proves solar does not necessarily need to be installed on the roof. This customer determined that the roof was facing the incorrect direction for solar to work so they designed a practical solar walkway that provides protection in the winter and shading in the summer. It also serves as a design feature for the backyard. This “dramatic” solar installation in Saratoga Springs produces up to 17 kW of electricity.

Moving from that unique solar installation to a different type of solar installation, this great blog summarizes types of Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV). Examples include solar glass walls, solar shingles that look almost identical to your existing shingles and the very cool solar ink that, one day, we will be able to print on nearly any surface in order to collect energy.

In support of that I just recently read an interesting article (found here) that states “the installed capacity for building integrated photovoltaics technology will surpass 1 gigawatt by 2016.” This shows that BIPV will be a new trend in new construction and new remodels. This is going to be driven by the push for newly built and renovated buildings to adhere to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and net-zero standards; both of which require on-site energy production.

Solar is not just for the roof anymore; expect to see it installed on windows, siding, fences, decks, walls, and more in the near future…

Leave a comment

Filed under Green Technology, NAHB, Solar, Sustainable Design