Panasonic Corp Installs Power Supply Container

powercontainer_Karimun0012Panasonic Corporation has developed an interesting offshoot of solar energy: Power Supply Container. The stand-alone photovoltaic power package was installed for the National Elementary School Karimunjawa 01 in Karimunjawa Island, Jepara District, Central Jawa Province, Indonesia. The Power Supply Container is equipped with 12 Panasonic “HIT(R)240” solar modules that the company said has high conversion efficiency and can generate approximately 3 kW of electricity. It can also provide stored power from 24 built-in lead-acid storage batteries (17.2 kWh as total).

Karimunjawa is an area where electricity is available at night using diesel generators. However, in the daytime these generators are stopped and no electricity can be used by the residents of the village. As no power for the village during the daytime interferes with administrative and commercial activities, improvement of the educational environment had been the top priority for the island. To solve this social issue, Koperasi Pundih Artah, which received Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security, Institute of Business and Economic Democracy Foundation (IBEKA) and Panasonic launched a project for improving the educational environment, by supplying and installing the Power Supply Container, under the cooperation of Jepara District and the Embassy of Japan in Indonesia.

To celebrate the introduction of “daytime electricity” a handover ceremony was held with Koperasi Pundih Artah and IBEKA. Now, during school hours, children can use LED lighting fixtures, ceiling fans and audiovisual educational materials using PCs and TVs. When there are no classes, the electricity is sold to nearby areas through a management association of the Power Supply Container topowercontainer_Karimun0017 contribute to activation of the regional community and improve the regional electricity infrastructure.

IBEKA is giving support for establishing management associations in Karimunjawa for independent operation of power supplies as well as provides training and supports for their operation, management and maintenance to achieve a sustainable power supply in Karimunjawa. Panasonic will continue to work with groups in Indonesia to bring more Power Supply Containers to areas without reliable electricity.

Twin Cedars FFA Raises Money for Ethanol Infrastructure

Josh Lopez is a sophomore at Twin Cedars high school (Bussey, Iowa) and he is already an ethanol advocate. During the American Ethanol 200 presented by Enogen, Josh who is a member of FFA, along with several other FFA members from his high school, walked around Iowa Speedway talking to NASCAR fans about the benefits of ethanol. But they didn’t stop there.

Josh LopezJosh and his team also raised money for ethanol infrastructure and Syngenta matched the funds raised – dollar-for-dollar- and donated the money plus the $1 per acre funds to Growth Energy. The $1 per acre program is one that donates $1 dollar per acre of Engoen corn grown to the renewable fuels industry. In total, more than $108K was donated this year.

I asked Josh why he came out to the races to talk about ethanol. “I love racing and our school has a strong agricultural program,” so he said it was a good fit. I also asked him what he thought about ethanol and he said his dad works for Syngenta so he grew up knowing that ethanol is better for the environment, a lot cheaper and reduces America’s need for foreign oil.

Josh said the most common question he is asked is what is ethanol? He noted that after talking with most consumers, and mentioning the NASCAR drivers are racing on the same E15 fuel that consumers can use, most of them become excited about ethanol.

Listen to my interview with Josh Lopez here: Josh Lopez interview

Visit the 2014 American Ethanol 200 presented by Enogen photo album.


Don’t Miss the Biofuels Financial Conference

Screen Shot 2014-07-18 at 12.23.20 PMDon’t miss the annual Biofuels Financial Conference: Climate of Opportunity hosted by Christianson & Associates. This year’s event takes place August 27-28, 2014 in Bloomington, Minnesota. The conference is aimed at plant managers, board members, plant CFO’s and more.

This year’s featured session is Expanding Beyond the Baseline. Industry experts will provide critical information about financial opportunities and options available for ensuring that your organization explores all avenues for maximizing the value of your plant’s production capabilities. Topics will cover:

  • Jonathan Olmscheid of Christianson & Associates will provide background on grandfathered volume and on the valid pathways to maximize RIN value beyond your plant’s grandfathered production volume. Since the export market provides another avenue for ethanol sales and thus increased production, Olmscheid will also touch on some key points about the export market and Canadian RINs.
  • Experts from plants and from Merjent will describe in detail the process of petitioning for pathways using two advanced technologies, from an engineering perspective as well as a general plant management perspective.
  • Paula Emberland of Christianson & Associates will review best practices and formulas for evaluating such improvement projects including diversifying co-products and improving processes, to calculate ROI, and an expert from Hydrodynamics will discuss, as an example, their bolt-on biodiesel production technology.

Early bird registration ends July 21. Click here to learn more about the Biofuels Financial Conference and to register online.

U.S. Mayors Expand Climate Protection Agreement

U.S. Mayors have signed a revised climate protection agreement that for the first time focuses on local actions to adapt cities to changing climate conditions. The agreement is also aims to build grassroots support for local conversation efforts. The action took place during the 82nd Annual U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) meeting where one area of focus was climate change and the role energy efficiency and renewable energy could play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions such as carbon.

14307537950_ca123598fd_zThe Agreement also urges federal and state governments to enact bipartisan legislation, policies and programs to assist mayors in their efforts to lead the nation toward energy independence. Following the signing ceremony, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Environmental Protection Administrator Gina McCarthy congratulated the Conference on their work and engaged in an interactive discussion with mayors from the audience.

USCM President Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said mayors have been leaders on climate protection, whether it’s cutting carbon emissions or preparing their communities for the effects of climate change. “In the 3.0 era, mayors are innovating, working with the best and the brightest, to lead on climate. Mayors are getting smart about sustainability. We’re moving from fossil fuels to alternative fuels, from waste to reuse. Mayors are using technology and innovation to do what we couldn’t do ten years ago. We’re boosting our economies and protecting our climate at the same time.”

The climate initiative was first launched 10 years ago in February of 2005 and at the time the U.S. Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement was a landmark pledge by mayors from all across the country to take local action to reduce carbon emissions from city operation and by the community at large, consistent with the goals of the Kyoto Protocol. More than 1060 mayors signed the Agreement, mostly representing larger cities. Since then, USCM has been recognizing mayors for their successful efforts through its annual Mayors’ Climate Protection Awards.

USCM Energy independence and Climate Protection Task Force Co-Chair and Bridgeport, CT Mayor Bill Finch noted, “This is not a cause for mayors. This is a pragmatic problem that requires pragmatic solutions. Mayors across the country are investing in the future by tackling climate change head on. And, those who have signed onto the U.S. Conference of Mayors agreement have made more progress on beating back climate change in their cities than those who have not. Continue reading

FFV’s, Ethanol Featured During FlexFuel Campaign

The second week of the Georgia Alternative Fuel Road Rally is underway as part of the FlexFuel Awareness Campaign, and one message of focus delivered by the ethanol and agriculture industries was that of the benefits of high level ethanol blends and flex fuel vehicles (FFvs). FFVs and ethanol blends are an option for private and government fleets, according to the Clean Fuels Foundation, one of the lead sponsors of the event. FFVs and ethanol can be very competitive among the family of legally defined alternative fuels.

Alternative Fuel Vehicle RoadshowDuring the Georgia events, Clean Fuels Executive Director Doug Durante gave a series of presentations and media interviews and took the opportunity to remind people that this is about clean air, consumer choice and energy independence. “With prices jumping once again as a result of instability in the middle east, we can fight back with domestic alternatives. In the case of flex fuels this is an easy, immediate choice we can make to take advantage of the 20 million FFVs in use by fleets and consumers,” said Durante.

The Alternative Fuel Road Show, now in its 4th year, is America’s largest clean fuel vehicle educational tour and is designed to reach fleet managers, civic leaders, and state legislators to help them make informed decisions about transitioning to clean, alternative transportation fuels. The 2014 Georgia Alternative Fuel Road Show kicked off at the Georgia International Convention Center in Atlanta with a media event and a workshop for fleet managers. The Show will roar through 8 cities in total in Georgia, all with media and workshop events.

Durante praised the efforts of the military to lead by example as the tour visited the massive Warner Robins Air Force base in Georgia which is aggressively using E85 on base. The FlexFuel vehicles are required to fill up on E85 and the staff has implemented several creative approaches to ensure they do so.

He also commended Georgia Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols who created the tour and attends every session. “Mr. Echols is equally supportive of natural gas and propane, electric vehicles, and E85 and is working to get more flex fuel pumps in the state. He drives a personal FFV running on E85 and is on a mission to reduce petroleum use in every way possible. We truly appreciate what he is doing for the state and the alternative fuels movement,” said Durante.

“As part of an ‘all of the above’ approach, this Road Show showcases all the alternative fuels, and they all have their strengths and advantages in a given situation. We are pleased to be part of this successful effort and make sure biofuels like ethanol are in the mix,” Durante concluded.

Durante also noted that many of the city and fleet managers they met with were very interested in getting a better understanding of the options that FlexFuel Vehicles provide, including being able to use any combination of gasoline ethanol blends.

Ethanol Safety Seminars Scheduled for Tennessee

Two Ethanol Safety Seminars will be taking place in Tennessee this June: June 25, 2014 at the Knoxville Civic Auditorium and Coliseum and June 27, 2014 at the Nashville Fire Academy. The seminars are designed for individuals who respond to ethanol-related emergencies as well as those who work at fixed-facilities and transport fuel. The free seminars RFA Ethanol Safety Seminarsare sponsored by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and the Knoxville & Holston River Railroad and Nashville & Western Railroad.

Both seminars are free and feature a morning session from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and an evening session from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Registration is limited to the first 100 people per seminar. Lunch and dinner will be provided. Certificates from the Tennessee Fire Fighting Commission will be awarded to attendees at the completion of the course.

The goal of these seminars is for attendees to gain full ethanol emergency response training experience that they can immediately put to use in the field as well as pass along to other first response teams. A majority of this training is based on the “Training Guide to Ethanol Emergency Response,” a training package created by the Ethanol Emergency Response Coalition (EERC) that has been distributed throughout the United States and to several countries worldwide.

“We cannot take our industry’s impressive safety record with hazardous materials for granted,” said Scott Ogle, general manager of Knoxville & Holston River Railroad. “Ethanol Safety Seminars provide emergency responders with the training they need to keep their guards up and American communities safe.”

Attendees will receive in-depth information on proper training techniques that first responders and hazmat personnel need to effectively respond to an ethanol-related emergency. While primarily targeting first responders, hazmat teams, safety managers, and local emergency planning committees, it is also open to the general public.

“Ethanol Safety Seminars allow the emergency response community to maintain a level of preparedness that guarantees that the cities and towns they serve receive swift and capable responses to ethanol-related incidents,” said Kristy Moore, RFA vice president of technical services. She also noted that other Safety Seminars will be taking place in other locations this summer.

FIFA World Cup to Feature Biofuels & Solar

FIFA World Cup BrasilThe FIFA World Cup 2014 is underway in Brazil and this year’s event features several renewable energy and sustainable measures never before seen during the event.

Sugar Cane Industry Association (UNICA) is supplying the governing body of the football fleet (known as soccer to those living in the U.S.) with ethanol. Flex-fuel cars from Hyundai, Model HB20 Edition FIFA World Cup, are running the streets and roads of Brazil powered with fuel from cane sugar.

The adoption of ethanol is one of the measures to avoid, reduce and offset emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) released dioxide in the atmosphere, the ‘Football for the Planet,’ according to FIFA’s official environmental program that aims to reduce the negative impact of their activities on the environment. In Brazil, FIFA and the Local Organising Committee (LOC) of the 2014 World Cup are putting in place projects that address key areas such as waste, water, energy, transport, logistics and climate change.

Kids play football on the beach as Brazil prepare for the World Cup on June 11, 2014 in Maceio, Brazil. (Photo by Alex Livesey - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Kids play football on the beach as Brazil prepare for the World Cup on June 11, 2014 in Maceio, Brazil. (Photo by Alex Livesey – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

For the consultant Emissions and Technology of Sugar Cane Industry Association (UNICA), Alfred Szwarc, the initiative of the FIFA program is extremely appropriate as sugarcane ethanol compared with gasoline. He cites sugar-based ethanol reduces 90 percent of greenhouse gases that cause climate change when compared to straight gasoline. Reducing global warming is one of focuses of the “Football for the Planet” FIFA campaign.

In addition to biofuels, Yingli Green Energy has provided dozens of solar panels to various operations involved with FIFA and this year the company plans to offset all carbon emissions arising from its promotional activities in Brazil to make the FIFA World Cup Brazil the greenest in history. The company’s efforts included all solar powered stadiums, commercial displays, customer hospitality, media activities, and employee travel and accommodation. To achieve carbon neutrality, Yingli has:

  • Supplied over 5,000 Yingli solar panels and nearly 30 off-grid solar energy systems to help power matches at multiple FIFA World Cup stadiums;
  • Partnered with ClimatePartner, an independent, certified environmental agency, to accurately calculate and verify emissions data for the duration of Yingli’s sponsorship activation in Brazil;
  • Committed to investing in carbon emission reduction certificates that are generated by a local Brazilian project, and that are certified by the Bureau Veritas Certification Holding SAS.

“By becoming history’s first carbon neutral sponsor of the FIFA World Cup, Yingli is honoring its commitment to our environment and to our planet,” noted Mr. Liansheng Miao, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Yingli Green Energy. “As a company whose products and mission are deeply intertwined with sustainability issues, we are dedicated to reducing the ecological impact of all aspects of our business operations, including our highly visible and pervasive marketing activities.”

Sullivan Power Sponsors the Junior Solar Sprint

And the winner of the 5th annual Junior Solar Sprint was the solar powered model car, ‘Stewart,’ built by two students from High Tech Middle School North County who won the championship race, finishing the 20 meter track in just 8.32 seconds. Second and third place medals were awarded to students with solar cars named to ‘Ninja Chicken’ and ‘Japan Racer’ out of Torrey Hills Middle School.

The Junior Solar Sprint is sponsored by Sullivan Solar Power, San Diego-based renewable energy firm. The event is a challenge between local middle schools and this year Congressman Scott Peters, Assemblywoman solarpoweredcarsLorena Gonzalez, and San Diego City Council President Todd Gloria were in attendance to support the future growth of clean tech learning opportunities for students taking part in the model solar car racing event.

Eight middle schools from around San Diego County participated in the Junior Solar Sprint event with hundreds of attendees including parents, teachers, volunteers, judges and dignitaries watched more than 85 student cars race. Certificates were provided to all participating students from California Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins.

“The Junior Solar Sprint is a symbol of new learning opportunities for students in San Diego and gears them toward science, math, engineering and technical design skills,” said Daniel Sullivan, founder and president of Sullivan Solar Power, “These fields are exciting and highly rewarding, particularly when applied to renewable energy sources, and we hope that the program will expand the next generation’s passion for renewable energy.”

The Junior Solar Sprint was hosted by the San Diego Electrical Training Center, and engages local sixth, seventh and eighth-grade science students to use scientific knowledge to create and race solar powered model cars. All students were supplied with one standard solar cell and motor. The students are to come up with their own unique design aspects to compete.

solarpoweredcars2“I have seen Junior Solar Sprint change kids’ lives. They learn to work together on something they have never done,” said Elaine Gillum, eighth grade science teacher at Thurgood Marshall Middle School, “Some of the students that struggle with the book part of school, are amazing when it comes to building things. They become the kid that others turn to for guidance and leadership.”

The Junior Solar Sprint is the culminating race track event, where students compete for award in five judging categories: craftsmanship; innovation; power train; solar collection; and wheel and guidance systems. First, second and third place medals were provided to the overall race champions.

“Encouraging our kids to pursue their interest in these sectors through hands-on projects like the Junior Solar Sprint will not only prepare them for the jobs of the future, but will help keep America globally competitive,” said Congressman Scott Peters, “Events like this help spark a lifelong interest in our students to improve the world around them through innovation.”

RFA Offers Updated Ethanol Emergency Response Guide

There is an updated version of “The Training Guide to Ethanol Emergency Response,” prepared by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFS) available for use. The resource was developed to give first responders, hazmat teams, and safety personnel in-depth and accurate information on proper training techniques when responding to an ethanol-related emergency.

Ethanol Safety GuideThe training guide has been used at Ethanol Safety Seminars and distributed to more than 10,000 responders worldwide. RFA and TRANSCAER® began offering Ethanol Safety Seminars in 2010 and have since held more than 100 Safety Seminars in 21 states. RFA is a national sponsor of TRANSCAER®, a national outreach effort focused on helping communities prepare and respond to possible incidents involving the transportation of hazardous materials.

Kristy Moore, the Renewable Fuels Association’s vice president of technical services and a recent recipient of the TRANSCAER Individual Achievement Award, said, “RFA’s commitment to safety is unwavering. There is no reason that a first responder should have to go into a potentially dangerous scenario unprepared. That is why the Renewable Fuels Association took the initiative by first creating, and now updating, the ‘Training Guide to Ethanol Emergency Response’.”

The updated “Training Guide to Ethanol Emergency Response” includes former goodies along with new resources.

  • Eight PowerPoint sections covering topics ranging from ethanol’s physical properties to ethanol’s transport and use
  • Instructor manuals and participant guides that work in conjunction with the PowerPoint
  • Two training videos: “Emergency Response Considerations” and “Responding to Ethanol Incidents”
  • RFA’s “Fuel Ethanol Guidelines for Release Prevention,” which explains environmental response techniques
  • Rail Car 101, a PowerPoint showing critical safety equipment on non-pressure railroad tank cars
  • 2012 U.S. Department of Transportation Emergency Response Guidebook
  • Association of American Railroad’s “Pamphlet 34 – Recommended Methods for the Safe Loading and Unloading of Non-Pressure (General Service) and Pressure Tank Cars”
  • Association of American Railroad’s “Tank Car Loading and Unloading” video

Training materials can be found here.

DNV GL & Texas Tech Partner on Wind Energy Education

Student’s attending Texas Tech University now have more educational opportunities around wind energy. The University’s National Wind Institute and DNV GL are collaborating on a teaching project to expand the availability of wind power courses. Classes will be provided through both in-class and online channels enabling global access to cutting edge instruction and utilizing real-life case studies from the wind energy industry. This collaboration will strengthen future workforce development and allow students in remote locations to participate in a high-quality, certified education process.

Cielo Wind Power farm in Texas“The National Wind Institute strives to educate the next generation of wind energy professionals,” said John Schroeder, director of the National Wind Institute (NWI). “This partnership with DNV GL is another yet another step forward to advance wind energy research and education.”

The program adds depth to Texas Tech’s wind energy program by adding four classes containing up-to-the-minute wind industry case studies developed and led by DNV GL experts who can draw on the company’s 30-year history of involvement in all aspects of the wind industry.

By combining DNV GL’s industry expertise with Texas Tech’s academic excellence, students will have access to wind industry experts to provide current, real-world experiences to supplement the academic fundamentals while working to attain either a managerial or a technical focused Wind Power Certificate from Texas Tech. The program is open to qualified undergraduate and graduate students, and each course will contain cutting edge content from DNV GL, which is known for its high-quality workforce training and thought leadership in the renewable energy industry.

“Renewable energy professionals worldwide already rely on a variety of DNV GL’s existing training programs,” said Kevin Smith, director at DNV GL. “We are excited to participate with Texas Tech in training the wind industry’s future workforce and graduates with industry specific knowledge and case studies so they have increased familiarity with the latest business needs and challenges. We look forward to further collaboration with Texas Tech to educate the wide range of professionals required to meet national wind energy goals – both in the U.S. and other countries.”

This collaboration is slated to last three years and planned to start July 2014 once details are finalized.

Six ‘Grand Challenges’ Face the United States

There are six “grand challenges” facing the United States over the next decade according to a report from the national Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU). The challenges include sustainability, water, climate change, agriculture, energy and education. The APLU project was co-chaired by W. Daniel Edge, head of the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Oregon State University.

APLU Natural Resources RoadmapEdge said “Science, Education, and Outreach Roadmap for Natural Resources” is the first comprehensive, nationwide report on research, education and outreach needs for natural resources the country’s university community has ever attempted.

“The report identifies critical natural resources issues that interdisciplinary research programs need to focus on over the next 5-10 years in order to address emerging challenges,” Edge noted. “We hope that policy-makers and federal agencies will adopt recommendations in the roadmap when developing near-term research priorities and strategies.”

The six grand challenges addressed in the report are:

  • Sustainability: The need to conserve and manage natural landscapes and maintain environmental quality while optimizing renewable resource productivity to meet increasing human demands for natural resources, particularly with respect to increasing water, food, and energy demands.
  • Water: The need to restore, protect and conserve watersheds for biodiversity, water resources, pollution reduction and water security.
  • Climate Change: The need to understand the impacts of climate change on our environment, including such aspects as disease transmission, air quality, water supply, ecosystems, fire, species survival, and pest risk. Further, a comprehensive strategy is needed for managing natural resources to adapt to climate change.
  • Agriculture: The need to develop a sustainable, profitable, and environmentally responsible agriculture industry.
  • Energy: The need to identify new and alternative renewable energy sources and improve the efficiency of existing renewable resource-based energy to meet increasing energy demands while reducing the ecological footprint of energy production and consumption.
  • Education: The need to maintain and strengthen natural resources education at our schools at all levels in order to have the informed citizenry, civic leaders, and practicing professionals needed to sustain the natural resources of the United States.

“The natural resources issues with traditional sources of energy already are well-understood,” George Boehlert, report co-author, said, “with the possible exception of fracking. As the country moves more into renewable energy areas, there are many more uncertainties with respect to natural resources that need to be understood and addressed. There are no energy sources that do not have some environmental issues.”

The project was sponsored by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to Oregon State University, which partnered with APLU and authors from numerous institutions.

Oregon Institute of Technology Goes All Renewable

According to Oregon Institute of Technology, they are the first campus in the world to produce all of its energy needs using renewable energy. The campus is now 100 percent powered by a combination of solar and geothermal sources. The achievement was noted in a ceremony that included U.S. Senators Wyden and Merkley, Oregon Senator Whitsett, and First Lady Hayes.

The campus has been entirely heated by geothermal water for several decades, and now the geothermal resource is being utilized in a 1.75-megawatt combined heat and power plant to provide electricity. Additionally, a 2.0-megawatt solar array was installed on 9 acres of campus land and commissioned at the end of last year.

“The geothermal and solar projects all serve important and dual purposes for Oregon Tech,” said Christopher Maples, president of Oregon Tech. “They support the education of our students in the growing green jobs industry, and they put us closer to our goal of becoming a climate neutral campus by 2050.”

Oregon Insitute of Technology Geothermal-Solar EnergyOregon Tech built the geothermal power plants in two stages, beginning with a 0.28- megawatt module that was the first operating geothermal power plant in Oregon. The success of that system, followed by the ability to garner additional financial support, led to the installation of a 1.75- megawatt project. In combination, they generate an estimated 8,315,000 kilowatt hours annually, reducing energy costs by nearly one-half million dollars per year.

In addition to the combined heat and power system, Oregon Tech installed 7,800 ground-mounted solar electric panels next to the John F. Moehl football stadium, with a total capacity of just under 2 megawatt. The solar project is an “all-Oregon” project and is one of the largest solar photovoltaic system in the state of Oregon and the largest multiple campus, university system-based contract for solar energy in the nation.

The university received a Blue Sky grant from Pacific Power to support the system installation, which has had a positive economic impact on Klamath Falls and the surrounding areas. SolarCity, the contractor that installed the system, used all local contractors and labor to complete the project.

The combined output from the three renewable energy projects on the campus will exceed the campus electricity use by an estimated 700,000 kilowatt hours per year. That energy will be donated to Pacific Power’s low-income subsidy program, making Oregon Tech the largest non-utility net metering contributor in the state.

ZimmComm Team Looking for Summer Intern

zimmcomZimmComm New Media is now taking applications for a summer intern. Students in the agricultural communications field interested in attending and learning how to “agri-blog” some of the most important industry events held every year should apply.

The opportunities will include all-expense paid trips to one or more industry events where students will assist in the compiling of photos, audio, video and posting of activities on pertinent websites. Interns will learn and develop communication tools, techniques and technology to gather and distribute information through various social media channels. Per-diem and college credits may also be available.

YES! I’m interested in learning how to do some agri-blogging. Apply here.

emPower Arizona Debuts During Arizona Solar Summit

Solar energy was the focus of the Arizona Solar Summit IV and during the event, the first public unveiling of the state’s new master energy plan, “emPOWER Arizona: Executive Energy Assessment and Pathways,” took place. On February 18, 2014 Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed the executive order for the legislation- the state’s first comprehensive energy plan in more than 20 years.

The Arizona Solar Summit, hosted by Arizona State University LightWorks, ASU SkySong and the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and sponsored by NRG, provided the first opportunity for the public to learn about the master energy plan. The plan seeks to make gI_142186_az-solar-summit-logo_OKED-AdArizona a “collaboratory” of policy leaders, energy experts and universities.

Leisa Brug, Brewer’s energy policy advisor and director of the Governor’s Office of Energy Policy, led a panel discussion on the plan and its goals. Brug said that Arizona is already ahead of other states in terms of energy policy, and the new master plan will help the state continue to be a national leader in the field. “We’ll be a national model,” Brug said. “We see this as a tremendous way to buoy up our solar industry.”

Other issues covered during the event included the future of the utility sector; carbon dioxide mitigation; energy efficiency in the built environment; and more. In addition, keynote speaker William Harris, president and CEO of Science Foundation Arizona, called on the attendees to become active in the fight against climate change.

“People use this word ‘sustainability’ so often I don’t even know what it means,” Harris said. “I like how Charlie Bayless described it: ‘Treat the planet like you intend to stay.’ Get involved, stay involved and work with this issue.”

Innovation Challenge Leads to Cool Innovation

Innovation Challenge 2The 2014 Northrop Grumman Corporation High School Innovation Challenge (HSIC) has led to some, well, cool innovations in renewable energy and engineering. On February 21, 2014, six student teams from Los Angeles, California high schools took an engineering problem, limited budget and little time and created renewable energy-powered model vehicles. The event was part of National Engineers Week.

The challenge is modeled after a Northrop Grumman program or engineering capability, and designed to stimulate student interest in pursuing careers in scientific or engineering fields. The goal of this year’s competition was to design and build a renewable-energy-powered model vehicle that could carry a payload as efficiently as possible over a set distance.

“The Northrop Grumman High School Innovation Challenge exposes students to the major steps required to develop, document and demonstrate an engineering concept,” said Krystal Puga, a systems engineer on Northrop Grumman’s James Webb Space Telescope project and the company’s HSIC deputy coordinator. “It teaches them how to develop, document and present their ideas; manage a schedule and budget; and prove that their concept meets the customer’s requirements.”

The teams participating in this year’s HSIC included the California Academy of Math and Science in Carson; Da Vinci Science High School in Hawthorne; El Segundo High School; Lennox Math, Science and Technology Academy in Inglewood; Hawthorne Math and Science in Hawthorne; and Palos Verdes Peninsula High School in Rolling Hills Estates.

Over the course of the 12-week competition, the HSIC teams – each one mentored by a Northrop Grumman engineer – were graded on their ability to develop and document their vehicle’s design in a written report; present the concept orally to a panel of engineers; and prove the vehicle’s performance on the test track. Continue reading