Monday, December 27, 2010

Fujitsu Sells Smart Meters To U.S. Utility

A utility in New Mexico will begin installing Fujitsu smart meters in customer's homes starting in March. What's pretty interesting is that:

"Fujitsu will also build a computer system to maintain electricity consumption data for each household, using cloud computing."

It appears that Fujitsu's "proprietary wireless technology, will deliver the electricity consumption data from each household to the utility. I wonder if this wireless pipeline runs along the grid or some other way. Whatever the case, this is good news, because the utility will receive almost instantaneous feedback on their customers and will then be able to provide better service to those customers, whether it be in response times to outages or providing techniques for conserving energy.

On a Small Scale, Sustainable Energy Transforms Lives

Beautiful slideshow from the NY Times demonstrating how harnessing electricity from the sun can help improve the quality of life for a small village in Kenya. Check it out and imagine what we could do to improve the quality of our lives here in the states with clean, renewable power.

Vestas Lands Contracts for 83 Wind Turbines

Wind is in! Looks like the folks down in Pueblo, CO are going to be busier in 2011. The Vestas manufacturing plant in Pueblo will produce 55 of the 83 turbines for a project up in Canada. That same plant is already fulfilling other orders. Looks like there is no diminishing demand for wind power at least throughout the first half of 2011. Congrats to Vestas!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Sustainability Roadmap Outlines a Greener Path for Hospitals

If there is one industry that could use a good dose of sustainable practices infused into its culture, it's healthcare. A consortium of healthcare affiliated groups created a web site called, Sustainability Roadmap for Hospitals. It's a place where hospital professionals can go and share sustainability information as well as discovering where they can improve efficiencies, eliminate waste, and be more mindful towards the environment and their patients. This web site is a positive step in the right direction and it would be nice if all industries had a social place to learn about the immediate impact business sustainability practices can have on the "triple bottom line".

Obama Administration Releases Report for Solar Energy Development in West

I really am impressed with how much collective energy is being put towards renewables within this administration. President Obama and Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar have just released a report deliciously titled, "Draft Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement." The 10,000 page report identifies locations in six Western states that are best suited for, "environmentally sound, utility-scale solar energy production." This report will be good news for utilities that need to meet renewable portfolio standards (RPS) in the states in which they operate over the next decade or so. It will also provide a little more validity to large utility-scale solar projects, by providing numerous facts for investors to digest and alleviating many of the concerns of environmentalists.

Abound Solar Nails DOE Loan for Thin-Film Factory

A solar company right here on the Front Range of Colorado just scored a $510 million loan to help expand its production facility in Longmont, CO. That's incredible. Abound Solar is a thin-film solar company that has been growing quickly over the last couple of years. Even though thin-film has a lower solar cell efficiency than the solar cells in rooftop PV modules, its strength is that it's light and thin and can be put everywhere (think about slapping thin-film solar strips on the southern side of a sky scraper). Congrats to Abound for raising the capital to expand and compete on a global scale!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Regulators Add Cherokee Plant to the ‘No Coal’ Xcel List

Interesting development reported at Colorado Energy News. The members of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) voted to deactivate another coal-burning power plant on the Front Range. The Cherokee power plant in north Denver will be retrofitted to burn natural gas by 2017. These type of retrofits were made mandatory when a broad coalition of government, environmentalist, and Xcel officials came together to help pass the Clean Air Clean Jobs Act this year. Natural gas is a cleaner fuel with less particulates and CO2 emissions than coal. Plus it's easier and faster to fire up a natural gas-fired power plant when the sun isn't shining and the wind isn't blowing. I will be interested to see what the Front Ranges air quality is like in 2017 as compared to today.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Colorado Energy Employment Growing Faster than Nation’s, Report Says

Looks like the investments made into the cleantech industry and natural gas (to name a couple) are paying off for Colorado, according to a report by the Colorado Energy Coalition. This is creating jobs here in the state and helping to contribute to Colorado's status as an energy thought leadership powerhouse. There are a lot of hard-working men and woman in this state that are completely focused on the future of our energy needs. Promoting energy efficiency methods for residential and commercial buildings, developing smart grid technologies, enhancing solar cell efficiency, creating biofuels with less environmental impact, and retrofitting coal-fired power plants to natural gas are examples of what Colorado businesses and government are working towards. It's an exciting time to be living here.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

State’s First Industrial Solar Project Meets Strong Opposition in San Luis Valley

To me this article in Colorado Energy News illuminates a fascinating debate about the future of renewable energy. The forces of utility-scale renewable energy generation versus the forces of local, distributed renewable energy generation. I don't know what the right answer is, because I can see the benefits and the drawbacks of each side. We'll see what happens in this debate.

Colorado Creates $13M Energy-linked Business Loan Funds

Colorado businesses just got a $13 million boost to the economy! Governor Ritter announced that cleantech companies can apply for loans from a $12 million fund to help them keep a sufficient amount of cash flow for things like payroll and expansion. Another $1 million fund will go to all types of small businesses to help them add clean-energy sources or make their buildings energy efficient. This is just one of Governor Ritter's programs to bolster Colorado's New Energy Economy and will go a long way towards saving existing jobs and creating additional jobs in the cleantech sector. I'm going to miss the good governor's enthusiasm for renewable energy and energy efficiency. Hopefully this enthusiasm is contagious.

Wishful Thinking

*Before adding PV, wind, or solar thermal to your residential or commercial structure, the first step is to analyze this structure's energy consumption through a professional energy audit. I'd like to see some public education on the importance of an energy audit for any structure. Remember Smokey the Bear's forest fire shtick drilled into our heads over the last few decades? How about something like, "Henry the House" desperately wanting to know how much energy he consumes and wastes throughout the day?

*With over 300 sunny days a year on the Front Range is it too much to ask for solar PV and thermal modules on every residential and commercial unit (after an energy audit of course)?

*How about affordable plug-in electric cars that go more than 100 miles on a charge with PV and wind powered recharging stations?

*Dreaming of companies large and small adopting business sustainability practices to maximize profits, reduce their carbon footprint, and enhance the lives of their employees and the communities that surround them.


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