Blink Charges Surpasses 1 Million EV Charges

ECOtality has hit a first for the country: it has surpassed one million electric vehicle (EV) residential charge events on its Blink Charges. The company says it is the first in the industry to reach this milestone. At the end of June 2012, the company had 800,000 charge events.

This is not the only milestone the company recently achieved. It has also recorded 40 million miles of driver data records and analyzed that 1.70 million gallons of gas has been saved. Data collected through the EV Project, of which ECOtality is the project manager, is presented on a quarterly basis.

“Through the data recorded on Blink chargers for The EV Project, we have clearly demonstrated the viability of this marketplace and continued growth of EV’s across the nation,” said Ravi Brar, CEO of ECOtality, Inc. “Recording more than 1 million charge events is not only an iconic milestone for ECOtality, The EV Project and the industry, but is also proof that EVs are here to stay.”

Library Adds Solar for Cleaner Environment

The Port Washington Public Library has added thin film solar cells to its roof’s cap sheet layer to generate solar energy. The only building in Nassau and Suffolk counties in New York state to generate power this way, the system has the ability to generate an average of 42,000 kWh of electricity per year and but CO2 emissions by more than 2.2 million pounds each year. During a celebration ceremony, Nancy Curtin, Port Washington’s Public Library Director; Garry Schwall, Chief Operating Officer of Winthrop-University Hospital; and Paul Polizzotto, President and Founder of CBS EcoMedia gave remarks while entertainment was provided by local singer/guitarist Tom Cavanagh, known to library audiences for his Johnny Cash and George Harrison performances.

The new Energy Education Station in the Library displays the actual energy savings from the system for the public to view. In addition, the green initiatives implemented by the Port Washington Public Library also includes a Recycling Center in the Children’s Room.

“The Library is committed to green initiatives and as a center for lifelong learning wishes to lead by example promoting solar energy and a healthy environment for the Port Washington community,” said Nancy Curtin, Port Washington Public Library Director. “This technology is a sustainable solution and we thank Winthrop University Hospital and CBS EcoMedia for their support.”

As the country struggles with economic difficulties, education has been hard hit with the reduction of teachers in schools and staff at libraries. “With this project, the Library sets an important example: by adopting solar power in our homes and businesses, each one of us can cut our own energy costs and emissions,” said Paul Polizzotto, President and Founder of CBS EcoMedia Inc. “Thanks to the generous support of Winthrop-University Hospital, the Library will reduce its carbon footprint and cut its electricity bills, freeing up crucial funds for books, staffing, special programming, and equipment.”

Iowa Bioenergy Tour Huge Success

The 4th Annual Biofuels: Science and Sustainability Tour took place recently hosted by the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA). The three-day tour brought several Washington, D.C. policymakers and regulators to Iowa for a inside and hands on look at the renewable fuels and agricultural industry in the state.  Participants had the opportunity to talk with many renewable fuels experts, agriculture leaders and state and university officials on important policy matters, regulatory concerns and technical issues facing the renewable fuels industry.

Several key areas of discussion were the current and future impacts of the drought, Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS2), E15, tax policy, biodiesel and advanced biofuels, the 2012 Farm Bill, food and fuel, distillers grains, seed research, crop yield trends, improved environmental practices in agriculture and renewable fuels production, biomass crops, the future of cellulosic ethanol, and the impediments to consumer fuel choice posed by the federal petroleum mandate.

The Tour included visits to:

  • Renewable Energy Group headquarters in Ames, IA
  • Iowa State University’s Sorenson Farm & Biocentury Research Farm in Boone, IA
  • Kevin Jurgens’ family farm in Thornton, IA
  • Soy Energy biodiesel refinery in Mason City, IA
  • Golden Grain Energy ethanol refinery in Mason City, IA
  • Sukup Manufacturing in Sheffield, IA
  • Pioneer DuPont Beaver Creek Research Center in Johnston, IA
  • Pioneer DuPont Carver Center in Johnston, IA
  • Magellan Refined Products Terminal in Des Moines, IA

The Tour was hosted and sponsored by Iowa State University Bioeconomy Institute, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, National Biodiesel Foundation, Renewable Fuels Foundation, Golden Grain Energy, Iowa Corn Growers Association, Renewable Product Marketing Group, Sukup Manufacturing, and Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Click here for more information, presentations and photos from the event.

Major Auto Companies Endorse E15

In response to strong sales of E15 in areas where the ethanol blend is offered, Ford Motor Company and General Motors (GM) announced their recommendations for use of E15 in their new vehicles. GM added the recommendation of E15 for its 2012 and newer vehicles, while Ford recommends E15 for its 2013 and newer vehicles.

In response, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) Executive Director Monte Shaw said, “The IRFA wants to extend our most sincere thank you to GM and Ford for recommending the use of E15 in new vehicles. I believe Iowa consumers will take notice of GM and Ford’s leadership. This is an important step forward for E15. Thirty years ago, auto recognition of E10 began much the same way. First one company, then others followed. First for new cars, then for the legacy fleet. The pressure is now on other auto manufacturers to follow suit or explain why they offer substandard equipment.”

Retailers, who must first register with the EPA before legally selling E15, began to offer the higher ethanol blend quickly upon final approval for E15 for all 2001 and newer vehicles by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The first retailer in the country to sell E15 was in Kansas and retailers in Iowa quickly followed suit. Last month, Linn Co-op Oil Company in Marion, Iowa became the first retailer in the state to offer E15. Several other Iowa retailers are in various stages of moving to offer E15.

Solar in Spain Increases

Two large scale power plants are being connected to the grid south of the Iberian Peninsula in Spain. Coenergy was selected for the installation. The first power plant will have a total capacity of 1.8 KWp and is located in Jerez de la Frontera on an industrial rooftop spanning 24,000 square meters. The second solar power plant will have a total capacity of 320 KWp and has been installed in a 8,000 square meter area in the village of Segura de la Sierra in Jaén Province.

Combined, the two solar power plants use more than 9,000 Coenergy PowerPlus modules and the plants have the ability to produce nearly 3,000 megawatt hours of solar power each year. The solar energy will feed into the Andalusian electrical grid through nine Conergy IPG C central inverters and the sites will be monitored with Coenergy VisionBoxes.

“Sun-blessed Andalusia is a very attractive location for solar power plants and well on its way to achieving grid parity,” said Luis Jimenez Gutierrez, Managing Director of Conergy Spain. “These two projects are another step down this path where product quality, know-how and services become more and more important. Conergy stands for quality and many years’ experience – with large-scale free-field plants as well as industrial and private rooftop plants. This expertise makes us a reliable partner for all solar projects, on whom our customers can count.”

Undecided Voters Favor Clean Air & Energy

According to a poll of undecided voters in eight swing states including Florida, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, the favored candidates for president and Congress are ones that support clean air and clean energy policies over candidates who don’t. The survey was conducted by the Public Policy Polling (PPP) on behalf of the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Action Fund.

In this eight-state poll, the 22,412 voters side with President Barack Obama’s position as a candidate who “supports EPA standards to reduce dangerous carbon pollution” over the position of Republican challenger Mitt Romney, presented as a candidate who “says that these limits would be bad for business and EPA should not limit carbon pollution,” by a roughly 2-1 margin (54 percent versus 27 percent). Among all likely voters in the eight states, the margin on the same question is still wide, at 57 percent to 32 percent.

The poll shows that 50 percent of likely voters would vote today for Barack Obama, 44 percent for Mitt Romney and 6 percent undecided. Yet when the undecided voters were pressed to make a choice, 20 percent would vote for Obama, 32 percent would vote for Mitt Romney, and another 49 percent still were unable to decide.

“Mitt Romney is running behind in battleground states and he’ll need to win over most of the remaining undecided voters to win,” said Tom Jensen, director of Public Policy Polling. “But his stances on environment and energy issues could hurt his ability to do that.  Continue reading

VA Gov Bob McDonnell Touts Propane & CNG

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell kicked off his third annual Governor’s Conference on Energy this morning by officially beginning his state fleet’s transition to alternative fuels. Governor McDonnell began the event by signing partner agreements as well as a memorandum of understanding to switch state fleet vehicles to a mix of propane autogas and compressed natural gas (CNG). A propane autogas cruiser from the Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s Office and a propane-powered ROUSH CleanTech Ford F250 was on display during the conference.

Steve McCoy of Alliance AutoGas, representatives from Clean Energy and CNG proponent Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin witnessed the signing of the momentous executive directive, which requires all state agencies to develop an alternative fuel replacement plan. McCoy was joined at the event by fellow Alliance AutoGas representative in Virginia Tripp Greene and Alliance AutoGas partner John Phillips of Phillips Energy, as well as Chelsea Jenkins of ROUSH.

The propane autogas conversions will be handled by Alliance AutoGas and ROUSH CleanTech. The two companies will also provide OEM autogas vehicles for the Commonwealth. In addition, Alliance AutoGas will provide fueling infrastructure for state fleets transitioning to autogas.

Ag Energy Coalition Talks Farm Bill

The 2008 Farm Bill has officially expired giving the agricultural industry and renewable energy industry, which had programs in the 2008 Farm Bill, a grave level of uncertainty to growing segments of the U.S. economy. This move has caused private sector investments to dry up and threatens good paying jobs.

In response, Lloyd Ritter, co-director of the Agriculture Energy Coalition (AgEC) said, “With support from energy programs in the 2008 Farm Bill, U.S. companies have raised private financing to start construction of the nation’s first six advanced biofuels biorefineries; farmers in more than 150 counties across the nation have begun raising and harvesting next generation energy crops on 150,000 acres of underutilized farmland; rural families are saving money through energy efficiency and/or renewable power generation on their farms through the use of wind, solar, geothermal, and anaerobic digestion technologies; and nearly 100,000 people are now employed in the rapidly growing biobased products market.

This progress is at risk if Congress fails to finish new Farm Bill legislation that has already passed the Senate and been voted out of the House Committee on Agriculture.”

Ritter stressed that there is certainty provided by a five-year Farm Bill and is needed to keep farmers, business owners and investors interested in rural energy initiatives. He concluded by saying a five-year extension of the Farm Bill that includes funding for the energy title is needed to keep investments flowing and jobs intact.

Book Review: Rooftop Revolution

There are some books you read and you feel a bit smarter and then there are some books you read that get you excited and compel you to action. Rooftop Revolution by Danny Kennedy got me re-energized about solar energy. In simple terms, the book is about the economic and environmental benefits of solar power. Kennedy focuses on photovoltaics, a method of generating electric power by converting solar radiation (photo) into direct-current electricity (voltaic) using semi-conductors because he believes this technology is a game changer.

Think solar panels on the rooftop of every home and business around the world. Kennedy envisions this dream coming to life through a Solar Ascent where Rooftop Revolutionaries take part by putting solar systems on their homes.

Rooftop Revolution is not only a book about solar energy, but a book about how solar energy can change the future of power. It is also a guide for people to learn how to become part of the fight against Dirty Energy. Using his own experiences and telling stories of others who have gone before us, he tells the past, current and future story of solar energy. He does this through relatable stories, memorable acronyms (King CONG: the four headed monster of coal, oil, nukes, and gas) and easy to do steps.

Dirty Energy, says Kennedy, is telling one story, a story full of misused facts and half truths to make you believe that if you move to alternative sources of energy, such as solar energy, the world will go back to the Dark Ages and to add insult to injury, pay more for less power. Kennedy says this is not true but in fact the price of solar has been cut in half in recent years and with the advent of solar leases, people can begin to save money as soon as they flip the switch to solar. As more solar gets adopted, the technology will get even better and solar energy will continue to cost less and less. (Did you know that even though the U.S. has huge reserves of natural gas, it is getting more and more expensive?)

Kennedy is an activist for change. Back in the day he joined revolutions as a member of Greenpeace, today he is a part of the Rooftop Revolution, helping people all over the world generate clean, cheap power with the sun – solar energy. He writes, “So get involved….Right now it’s important that everyone know the truth about solar’s power and how we should be making energy. Our future – our safety, our prosperity, and our environment-depends on the success of the Rooftop Revolution.

While most of us do not have the means of the money to start a solar company (Kennedy is the founder of Sungevity), there are still things we can do. One thing is to become a Rooftop Revolutionary and share this book. So I am. Follow @DomesticFuel on Twitter and tweet this story with #RooftopRevolution in your tweet and you will be entered for your chance to win my copy of Danny Kennedy’s Rooftop Revolution.

Top Reasons to Attend Biodiesel Conference

The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) is celebrating its 20th anniversary and its 10th biodiesel conference. Don’t miss out on next year’s event: Momentum – National Biodiesel Conference & Expo 2013. The conference will take place February 4-7, 2013 in Las Vegas. But in this case, what happens in Vegas should not stay in Vegas. The tips you learn, contacts you make and insights you gain into important biodiesel policy, cutting edge technologies and more will be things you want to take home and try out. That’s why #3 on the list of the top 10 reasons that the National Biodiesel Board gives for attending the conference is…Bring it Home!

Here is a sampling of the some of the sessions you’ll not want to miss.

  • Betting on Biodiesel: Will We Reach 100% B20 Approval?
  • RINtegrity
  • The Future is Unwritten: Going “All-in” with Biodiesel Feedstocks
  • Chain Link: Developing a Supply Chain for Biodiesel
  • State of the States: Legislative and Regulatory Update
  • You Say You Want an Evolution? How a Bioheat Campaign Created Change

You can learn more about Momentum as well as register online by visiting the conference website.

New York All Bioheat All the Time

It might not seem like winter will come this year, but it will. New Yorkers are preparing for colder temperatures and on October 1, 2012, all the heating oil (oilheat) will contain at least 2 percent biodiesel. Known as Bioheat fuel, it is gaining momentum in Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic U.S. states.

In 2010, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed an air quality bill that included a Bioheat provision for heating homes and buildings. This move was followed by a New York State bill requiring a switch to Ultra Low Sulfur Heating Oil, which took place in July.

Our members truly recognize Bioheat as the evolution of oilheat,” said John Maniscalco, CEO of the New York Oil Heating Association, which strongly supported the Bioheat mandate. “NYOHA has worked closely with the National Biodiesel Board in ensuring that our member companies and their customers recognize the many environmental and other benefits of Bioheat and we are proud to say that Bioheat usage has already increased dramatically. We are just getting started.”

The beauty of biodiesel is that is can be produced from waste oils including recycled restaurant grease, in abundance throughout the city. Recognizing this resource, the city along with entrepreneurial New Yorkers began using Bioheat and in some cases in even higher blends than the 2 percent biodiesel blend required by law. As often happens when the city adopts a trend, other states have followed.

The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) hailed the groundbreaking municipal legislation, and Paul Nazzaro, who heads up the Bioheat education program for NBB said, “The consumer is the ultimate benefactor of this law, now having access to truly 21st Century heating oil. The entire petroleum supply chain deserves credit for making the changes needed to embrace blending biodiesel with heating oil to deliver Bioheat.”

No other city has a Bioheat requirement in place, but several states have passed requirements that will go into effect when contingent states pass similar laws.

Solar as Art

There are many reasons why people believe solar is not a good solution and one is aesthetics. In other words, many people believe that solar panels are just plain ugly. Then I came across a company that just may be able to put this argument to bed: Solaire Generation. Based in New York, this company is turning solar into an artform. Although the company’s forte is installing solar carports, they have also developed a rooftop solar array shaped as an American Flag. The company has also developed really cool PV sculptures including the Solaire Energy Nest and the Solaire Sun Dial.

While this solar art is beautiful, it is also functional. Solar energy is created with each and every design. As many people adopt solar energy as a way to reduce energy costs and promote energy independence, now they can produce energy from the sun while showcasing their patriotism.

Solaire has a mission of dramatically increasing the use of solar power by providing a mounting canopy for every commercial parking structure in the U.S. Founded in 2008, the company began designing structures and in 2009/2010, installed its Solaire Parking Canopy at Johnson & Johnson headquarters. What I find so interesting about the company is not what they are doing, but how they are doing it. Each solar system, including the parking canopies are a work of art.

Nextgen Offers Attendees Free Clinics

The nextgen conference is set to take place in UK’s Stoneleigh Park on October 10 and 11, 2012. Unique to the event that showcases emerging renewable energy technologies, attendees can meet with industry experts during a series of drop-in clinics. The clinics are geared for those developing green energy projects or for those already involved in renewable energy production. Visitors will have the ability to learn in more detail about planning, operations and legal frameworks as well as learning the practical steps a business will need to take to achieve its goals.

One-to-one sessions are being offered by Ofgem, the National Farmers Union (NFU), The National Non-Food Crops Centre (NNFCC), Agrii, and National Grid.

“At nextgen, the one-to-one clinics are another way for visitors to get the latest policy and technical advice from renewable energy specialists and plug into world leading industry expertise, products and investment opportunities,” commented Lucy Pitt, group marketing manager of Nextgen Media.

In addition to the clinics, event attendees will also have the opportunity to hear from the Environment Agency about environmental regulation, planning policies and development procedures when seeking permits and consents for renewable energy technologies. The clinics are just one aspect of the show that also offers a trade show area with more than 200 exhibitors and conference sessions. Click here to learn more about nextgen and to register.

Megawatt Solar Stations Selected for Solar System

The Megawatt Solar Stations (MSS), developed by Solectria Renewables, have been chosen by the 5 megawatt (MW) True North solar farm in Salisbury, Massachusetts. When completed, the solar farm will be the largest solar installation in New England and the first direct-to-grid solar farm in the state. Power Partners MasTec awarded the project to Solectria due to its past successful projects and competitive cost per installed watt.

“We evaluated several inverter companies for this project. We found Solectria Renewables to be the best overall choice due to superior technical solutions, personalized service, and their knowledge and experience with large scale direct-to-grid projects,” said Kevin Taylor, Group President, Mastec Renewables. “Solectria Renewables also had the lowest cost per installed watt and highest efficiency products of all the inverter manufacturers evaluated.”

Five Megawatt Solar Stations (MSS) will be used to complete the project. Four stations are 1MW and one is 750 kilowatts. Each MSS is skid mounted and includes a factory wired 22.9 kV medium voltage transformer and switch gear to connect the inverters directly to the grid.

“We were honored to be selected by Power Partners MasTec to be the inverter manufacturer for the True North Solar Farm,” said Scott Bowden, Director of Business Development for Solectria Renewables. “EPCs like Power Partners MasTec realize that Solectria Renewables’ inverters provide them with the highest performance, reliability and efficiency in the market today. Massachusetts has some of the best solar initiatives and incentives in the United States and holds incredible potential for solar farms and installations.”

Drought Solution for Biodiesel Industry

This summer was the hottest on record according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the forecast for October could be much of the same: hotter than usual temperatures with less than normal precipitation. A major drought has affected much of the U.S. with Texas feeling the worst impact followed by Colorado, Missouri, Florida, New Mexico, Arkansas, Indiana, and Hawaii. With the heat and dry weather, concerns over biofuel production also began to heat up.

Crop estimates from the United States Agricultural Department (USDA) predict that the corn harvest will be down around 13 percent and soy production down about 12 percent from 2011. Yet as the harvest continues, the U.S. is still estimated to have the eighth largest corn crop on record and the second largest corn crop globally.

Genuine Bio-Fuel believes they have a technological solution for the biofuel industry to mitigate the negative effects the drought is having on the environment. The company says that unlike other biodiesel production technologies that use water for washing fuel, their manufacturing process does not use water and therefore there is no need to dispose of contaminated water.

“Our patent pending manufacturing and cleaning processes were designed with the environmental impact in mind. We believe creating green energy should not compromise the safety of our environment,” said Jeff Longo, Executive Vice President of the company.

Genuine Bio-Fuel produces biodiesel from waste vegetable oil, used cooking oils and other waste feedstocks but does not use soy or other crops that have been impacted by the drought. The weather has caused higher prices for corn and soybeans and this has caused some plants across the U.S. to reduce production and or go temporarily offline. The company believes that their technology is a good solution for other biodiesel producers from both an economic standpoint and an environmental standpoint.