QUICK NEWS, 6-28: MICHIGAN UTIL MOVES ON WIND; IDAHO TO GET THIN FILM SOLAR JOBS; THE NOWHERE ROAD TO MORE BIOFUEL; THE SOUND OF AN EV
MICHIGAN UTIL MOVES ON WIND
Consumers Signs Up For 240 Megawatts of New Michigan-Based Renewable Energy
27 June 2010 (Great Lakes Innovation and Technology Report)
"…Consumers Energy has reached power purchase agreements with independent developers for more than 240 megawatts of new Michigan-based renewable energy capacity.
"The agreements support Consumers Energy's Balanced Energy Initiative…a comprehensive 20-year plan to meet the needs of its 1.8 million electric customers with a balanced energy portfolio, including energy efficiency, renewable energy and customer demand management…"
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"The power purchase agreements are for 20 years and have been submitted for approval to the Michigan Public Service Commission. The new renewable energy projects are:
"…John Deere Wind Energy, based in Johnston, Iowa, will develop its Michigan Wind 2 farm…[It] will provide 90 megawatts…beginning in 2012…John Deere Wind Energy will develop its Harvest II Windfarm project…[It] will provide 59.4 megawatts…beginning in late 2012…John Deere Wind Energy and Great Lakes Wind, LLC, will develop their Blissfield Wind Energy project…[It] will provide 81 megawatts…beginning in late 2012…Waste Management Renewable Energy…will develop an additional landfill gas electric generation facility at its Pine Tree Acres landfill…The project will provide 12.8 megawatts of renewable energy capacity to Consumers Energy beginning in 2012…"
This is a good start but the real answer to Michigan's energy - and economic - needs is on the wind on the Great Lakes. (click to enlarge)
"The power purchase agreements support Consumers Energy's plan to increase its renewable energy supply portfolio to 10 percent by 2015 to meet the requirements of Michigan's energy reform law…Consumers Energy is the largest supplier of renewable energy in Michigan. More than 4 percent of [its] power…comes from renewable sources based in the state. Energy from the four new projects will bring the total expected supply from renewable sources to over 6.2 percent…
"Once ready for construction, the new wind projects are each expected to create between 150 and 200 construction jobs…"
IDAHO TO GET THIN FILM SOLAR JOBS
Thin solar panels to be built in southwest Idaho
(June 24, 2010 (AP)
"…[Transform Solar] formed by Boise-based Micron Technology Inc. and Origin Energy of Australia…[plan] to start making extremely thin but highly efficient solar cells that will be available next year.
"Transform Solar officials say the so-called sliver solar cells will be made at a plant in Boise where Micron once made computer chips, and the cells will be combined into solar panels at another plant owned by Micron in Nampa…Transform Solar has hired 70 employees and expects to hire up to 50 more, with most of the jobs based in southwest Idaho."
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"Micron and Origin late last year announced the agreement that officials said takes advantage of Origin's experience in energy markets and Micron's expertise in making thin semiconductors… Transform Solar's manufacturing and research will be based in southwest Idaho, and more research and development will be done in Adelaide, Australia.
"Company officials say that because the sliver solar cells are so thin, the cost of the silicon used to make them can be reduced by 90 percent, making the cells competitive in the crowded solar energy field…[T]he cells are less than 50 microns, or less than two-thousandths of an inch, making them the thinnest in production, and bifacial, meaning they can capture sun energy from both faces."
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"Earlier this month, Transform Solar introduced its sliver technology at the Intersolar trade show in Germany…Boise Mayor Dave Bieter announced earlier this month that solar panels using the technology will be used in a $45 million facility proposed by Sunergy World near the Boise Airport that will be able to generate 10 megawatts…
"Elected leaders in the region are hoping the hiring of workers to build the panels is a sign of better times ahead…"
THE NOWHERE ROAD TO MORE BIOFUEL
US unveils roadmap to produce 36 billion gallons of biofuel by 2022
25 June 2010 (Energy Efficiency News)
"US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack unveiled a roadmap…outlining a regional strategy to help meet the target of 36 billion gallons of biofuel by 2022…
"The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) [Regional Roadmap] identifies numerous biomass feedstocks – including switchgrass, corn, crop residues and municipal waste – that could be used to produce biofuel and calls for further research into new feedstocks, sustainable production methods and efficient conversion technologies."
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"The main obstacle to reaching the country’s target of 36 billion gallons of biofuel by 2022 is the currently restricted market, because of the small number of flex fuel vehicles and the inability of standard vehicles to use higher biofuel blends.
"The report calls for a rapid expansion of blender pumps and flex fuel vehicles, as well as approval of higher blends of ethanol in conventional fuels."
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"The USDA also wants to see biorefineries sited in areas of “economic distress”, where biofuel production can be a boon for poor rural areas.
"Growth Energy, a coalition of ‘ethanol supporters’, has welcomed the report and USDA’s plan of action…"
THE SOUND OF AN EV
Listen! Hear Nissan Leaf's space-age sound to warn pedestrians
June 25, 2010 (USA Today)
"…[F]rom [all the] sounds in the world…Nissan just made it's choice [of one to warn pedestrians that a super-quiet electric car is about pass by], and it sounds…sort of like a mix of a jet engine and the cartoon Jetsons' spacecraft…The noise is going into [Nissan’s] first electric car, the Leaf, which goes on sale later this year…"
Forward. From GMVolt via YouTube
Reverse. From GMVolt via YouTube
"…Don't like the noise? Nissan installed a switch in the car that allows drivers to turn it off, but that feature is raising concerns from groups representing the blind…[Reports say] the sound was four years in the making, and was developed with the help of acoustic psychology experts at Vanderbilt University, a Hollywood sound studio, and others. The sound had to be audible to a wide range of people, especially old people and the hearing impaired. Nissan says it went through 100 different sounds…"