Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Smart Grid: $3.4bn Investment Grants Awarded

President Obama Announces $3.4 Billion Investment to Spur Transition to Smart Energy Grid
Applicants say investments will create tens of thousands of jobs, save energy and empower consumers to cut their electric bills

Speaking at Florida Power and Light’s (FPL) DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center, President Barack Obama today announced the largest single energy grid modernization investment in U.S. history, funding a broad range of technologies that will spur the nation’s transition to a smarter, stronger, more efficient and reliable electric system. The end result will promote energy-saving choices for consumers, increase efficiency, and foster the growth of renewable energy sources like wind and solar.

The $3.4 billion in grant awards are part of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, and will be matched by industry funding for a total public-private investment worth over $8 billion. Applicants state that the projects will create tens of thousands of jobs, and consumers in 49 states will benefit from these investments in a stronger, more reliable grid. Full listings of the grant awards by category and state are available HERE and HERE. A map of the awards is available HERE.

An analysis by the Electric Power Research Institute estimates that the implementation of smart grid technologies could reduce electricity use by more than 4 percent by 2030. That would mean a savings of $20.4 billion for businesses and consumers around the country, and $1.6 billion for Florida alone -- or $56 in utility savings for every man, woman and child in Florida.

One-hundred private companies, utilities, manufacturers, cities and other partners received the Smart Grid Investment Grant awards today, including FPL, which will use its $200 million in funding to install over 2.5 million smart meters and other technologies that will cut energy costs for its customers. In the coming days, Cabinet Members and Administration officials will fan out to awardee sites across the country to discuss how this investment will create jobs, improve the reliability and efficiency of the electrical grid, and help bring clean energy sources from high-production states to those with less renewable generating capacity. The awards announced today represent the largest group of Recovery Act awards ever made in a single day and the largest batch of Recovery Act clean energy grant awards to-date.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Go solar with "Solar Power your Home for Dummies"

Want to take advantage of solar power in your home? Whether you're looking to save on your energy costs by adding a few solar components or you want to build a solar-powered house from the ground up, "Solar Power For Dummies" takes the mystery out of this energy source and shows you how to put it to work for you

This friendly, hands-on guide is packed with tips for making your home more energy-efficient though solar power--and helping the planet at the same time. You'll see how to survey your home to determine your current household energy efficiency and use, and evaluate where solar power would best benefit you. You'll also calculate what the return on your investment will be before you make any decisions. Once you've decided on a project, you'll see whether it's best to hire a contractor or do it yourself. We leave no stone unturned--you'll also discover how to: Choose and install your best solar system Handle small to large solar projects Heat and cool your house with solar energy Install exterior solar lighting Handle swimming pool, water heater, or ventilation solar projects Create greenhouses or solar rooms Build, buy, or sell a solar home Finance your solar investments Take advantage of tax rebates and incentives associated with solar power Avoid the worst solar mistakes

Featuring ten of the easiest and cheapest do-it-yourself solar projects, "Solar Power For Dummies" is the fun and easy way to meet your energy needs with this clean power source.

Nordex delivering a further 36 multi-MW turbines to Turkey

Bilgin Enerji financing third N90/2500 wind farm as planned

Nordex’s Turkish business is con-tinuing to gain momentum: After the award of a contract for 115 MW last summer, finance has now also been obtained for the next project. Accordingly, Nordex will be supplying the power station operator Bilgin Enerji with 36 N90/2500 turbines for the “Soma” project as of January. With a total volume of 90 MW, Bilgin will be calling this package down under the 210 MW master contract signed in spring 2008 in line with plans. The Turkish company has additionally also booked a premium service package.

Nordex will be assembling the “Soma” wind farm in the province of Manisa in western Turkey. The 36 turbines will be distributed over a large mountainous terrain. With a combined notional annual yield of over 300 gigawatt/hours they will be able to supply more than 150,000 Turkish households with electricity, simultaneously saving emissions of around 300,000 tons of carbon dioxide.

“Soma” is the third firm contract received from Bilgin. At the begin-ning of September, the “Mazi III” wind farm (22.5 MW) went on line and Nordex is already commencing the delivery of 36 turbines for “Bergama” (90 MW), the first project under the master contract. “Bergama” and “Soma” figure amongst the two largest wind power projects in Turkey to date. “Today, with the signature of the firm contract for the `Soma´ wind farm with Nordex, we have strength-ened our leading position as an investor in the Turkish renewable energy sector”, says Tolga Bilgin, Vice President of Bilgin Energy.

With contracts for a total of 300 MW, Nordex is one of the leading wind power companies in Turkey. “We have our fingers directly on the pulse of the market via our branch in Istanbul, which we estab-lished in April. This is proving to be a strategic advantage for us as Turkey has plans to extend its wind power capacity substantially. With new licenses about to be awarded, we are already in talks with potential customers,” says Carsten Pedersen, COO Sales and Marketing at Nordex.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

MEMC acquires solar services leader SunEdison

MEMC Electronic Materials, Inc. (NYSE: WFR), a leading provider of silicon wafers to the semiconductor and solar industries, has reached a definitive agreement to acquire privately held SunEdison LLC, a developer of solar power projects and North America's largest solar energy services provider. The acquisition is expected to close by the end of 2009, subject to customary closing conditions and receipt of regulatory approvals.

The agreement calls for $200 million to be paid at closing to SunEdison security holders, which will be paid 70% in cash and 30% in MEMC stock. The agreement also includes an earn-out provision, should SunEdison meet certain performance targets in 2010, of up to an additional $89 million, consisting of cash and stock. In addition, the agreement calls for employee retention payments of $17 million in cash at closing, plus up to $34 million in stock which is subject to SunEdison meeting certain performance criteria and time vesting, the payment of certain transaction expenses and the assumption of net debt.

"This acquisition will provide a third engine of growth for MEMC," said Ahmad Chatila, Chief Executive Officer of MEMC. "MEMC will now participate in the actual development of solar power plants and commercialization of clean energy, in addition to supplying the solar and semiconductor industries with our traditional silicon wafer products."

"SunEdison has successfully built about 300 solar power plants representing approximately 80 MW of generating capacity on the rooftops and grounds of customers in the United States, Canada and Europe," said Carlos Domenech, Chief Operating Officer of SunEdison. "Our business is highly scalable and will be able to grow substantially, capitalizing on our more than 1.5 GW of pipeline, backlog and leads with a financially strong, technically sophisticated partner like MEMC, which also has a competitive cost structure in upstream materials. This combination will greatly accelerate our goal of making solar energy cost competitive with grid prices."

Wind Turbine at Home ? Test the wind speed with your iPhone !

Check the Wind on your iPhone with the new Windspire me! App
Mariah Power and digital design firm, Create with Context, are launching the Windspire me! app for the iPhone. The new app will let you measure the wind speed with your iPhone and tell you what you can power with a Windspire or how much CO2 you can save from the environment.

To get on the notification list when the free app is available in the iTunes store please click here.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Financing Solar Energy Systems: DoE Guide for Lenders and Consumers

"The Borrower’s Guide to Financing Solar Energy Systems: A Federal Overview", released by the DoE, provides information that can assist both lenders and consumers in financing solar energy systems, which include both solar electric (photovoltaic) and solar thermal systems.

This guide also includes information about other ways to make solar energy systems more affordable, as well as descriptions of special mortgage programs for energy-efficient homes.

Although the sun’s energy is free, special equipment is needed to convert it to electricity or heat for a building. The up-front costs of this equipment can be daunting to consumers and a barrier to new purchases.

Therefore, this guide was prepared to show how today’s solar energy systems can be affordably financed.


Ocean Power Conference in Lisbon - More than 100 Ocean Energy Experts to Participate

The Ocean Power conference takes place in Lisbon, Portugal, in just 10 days. With over 100 ocean energy experts set to attend, including 30 project and device developers, this event will provide an excellent networking platform for participants to address future business strategies in this expanding market.

The European Energy Association states that ‘the global theoretical potential of ocean energy has been estimated over 100.000 TWh/year (as a reference, the world’s electricity consumption is around 16.000 TWh/year). The global technical resource exploitable with today technology is estimated to be in the order of 45.000 TWh/year for wave energy; tidal current energy is in the order of 2.200 TWh/year, salinity gradient energy in the order of 20.000 TWh/year, and of ocean thermal energy in the order of 33.000 TWh/year.’

Ocean energy technologies are still in their infancy in comparison to other alternative energy sources, yet the market potential is huge and the rate of development is rapidly increasing. The past two years have been particularly exciting in terms of industry development, with the implementation of encouraging demonstration projects and the first commercial projects are now underway.

Amongst the participating companies:
Aquamarine Power, Hidroflot, Aquatera, Orecon, Pure Marine Gen, Wave Bob, Sea Energy, Vattenfall, Dong Energy, E.ON, ESB International, Garrad Hassan & Partners, Marine Current Turbines, AWS Ocean Energy, Ocean Power Technologies, OceanLinx, Ocean Wave Energy Company, Green Ocean Energy, Alstom Hydro, APEM, British Wind Energy Association, Coordinated Action on Ocean Energy, US Department of Energy, Ecofys, Elecnor, EMEC, Emerging Energy Research, EurOcean, European Ocean Energy Association, Generg Servicos, IEA-OES, INORE, International Power, Koralion Partners, MC Graca, Norvento, Ocean Wave Energy Company, Offshore Marine Management, Oregon Wave Energy Trust, Robotiker, S&C

Companies Going Green Survey: 50% of businesses addressing energy efficiency

Nearly half of leading private growth businesses are addressing improvements in energy efficiency and reducing waste throughout their organization. More than a third expect greater focus on sustainability going forward

Survey highlights:
* 47% of leading private companies are working to improve energy efficiency and reduce waste in their organizations.
* Most common efforts include introducing recycling programs, reducing energy usage, and exploring new energy-efficient technologies and equipment.
* Primary goals are to operate more efficiently, reduce costs, and ensure long-term corporate growth.

As the economy begins to show signs of recovery, 47 percent of CEOs interviewed for PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Private Company Trendsetter Barometer survey are focusing their attention on addressing improvements in energy efficiency and reducing waste throughout their organizations, with 36 percent expecting a greater focus on sustainability over the next 12 to 18 months. Among these, larger private firms ($100 million or more in revenues) are more active in this area than are their smaller counterparts: among large firms, 46% are implementing energy efficiency and waste reduction programs and 13% were developing them; among smaller firms, 31% implementing and 10% developing.

According to the survey, private companies are focused on recycling, energy audit and usage-reduction goals, and on exploring new energy-efficient technologies and innovative equipment for heating, cooling and lighting systems. Fifty-six percent of companies will be creating incentives for their employees to reduce usage of energy, paper and other materials, while relatively few companies are considering purchasing carbon credits.

Climate Change and Carbon Management
46 percent of Trendsetter CEOs consider green practices or response to climate change important to the success of their businesses over the next 3-5 years. Focusing in on climate change, however, only 27 percent believe climate change will have a definite impact on their company’s profits over the next 3-5 years, while 66 percent see little or no profit impact.

A minority (15 percent) have either measured the carbon footprint of their companies or plan to do so over the next 12-18 months (8 and 7 percent, respectively). Not surprisingly, larger private firms expect to be more proactive about their carbon footprint than smaller firms.

Focus on sustainability
Over the next 12 to 18 months, 36 percent of private company CEOs believe there will be a greater focus on sustainability within their businesses (36 percent), despite the fact that only 15 percent issue a sustainability report for their company presently (9 percent) or plan to issue one over the next 12 to 18 months (6 percent).

While a majority of CEOs (67 percent) reported the current economic climate has not impacted their companies’ level of planned investment to reduce its environmental impact, only 15 percent believe there has been some definite (6 percent) or probable impact (9 percent). Not surprisingly, the 36 percent of private businesses that expect greater company focus on sustainability in the near future are larger businesses, averaging $231 million in enterprise revenue.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ocean Energy: Vattenfall and Wavebob join forces to develop wave farms

Vattenfall has selected Ireland to develop commercial scale ocean wave energy electricity generation.

A joint venture, Tonn Energy, has been formed between Vattenfall and Wavebob, an Irish wave farm development firm, to carry out this programme of work. (Tonn means wave in Irish.) The Irish Government, through its Investment and Development Agency, IDA Ireland, is supporting the investment.

Minister Ryan, who joined with Harvey Appelbe, Project Director for Tonn Energy, in making the announcement, said “I have articulated my intention that Ireland, with its unparalleled ocean resources, should become a world leader in renewable energy.. […] The participation of a major power utility like Vattenfall, together with the commitment of its Irish partners – which I applaud – in Ireland’s energy programme, marks a further step toward realising the considerable opportunities represented by our ocean wave energy resource.”

Göran Dandanell, Director and Head of Business Development for Vattenfall UK, said “Vattenfall’s long term goal is to halve the emissions per produced unit of energy by 2030, compared to 1990 levels, and to be emission neutral by 2050. We believe each region has its own unique renewable clean energy solution. With its magnificent ocean wave resource and commitment by the Government, Ireland has become a focal point for the development of commercial ocean wave energy. With such a great opportunity to produce clean energy, we are very happy to be a key partner in Ireland’s ocean energy programme.”

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

US Wind Power Installations Up in Q3 2009: AWEA Report

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) reported today in its third quarter (Q3) market report that the U.S. wind energy industry installed 1,649 megawatts (MW) of new power generating capacity in the third quarter—an amount higher than either the 2nd quarter of 2009 or the 3rd quarter of 2008—bringing the total capacity added this year to date to over 5,800 MW. AWEA also reported that wind turbine manufacturing still lags below 2008 levels, in both production and new announcements.

"Wind power installations are up, and that is good news for America's economy, environment, and energy security," said AWEA CEO Denise Bode. "But manufacturing, which has the potential to employ many more Americans in good, clean energy jobs, remains uncertain. A firm, long-term national commitment to renewable energy is still needed for the U.S. to become a wind turbine manufacturing powerhouse and create hundreds of thousands of jobs."

Since the early July announcement of rules to implement the stimulus bill, the wind industry has seen over 1,600 MW (enough to serve the equivalent of 480,000 average households) of completed projects, and over 1,700 MW of construction starts. These projects equate to about $6.5 billion in new investment. AWEA does not expect the fourth quarter of 2009 to be as strong as the fourth quarter of 2008 since the 5,000 MW now under construction is nearly 38% lower than the over 8,000 MW under construction at this time last year.

The total wind power capacity now operating in the U.S. is over 31,000 MW, generating enough electricity to power the equivalent of nearly 9 million homes, avoiding the emissions of 57 million tons of carbon annually and reducing expected carbon emissions from the electricity sector by 2.5%.

The state posting the fastest growth rate in the third quarter was Arizona, which installed its first utility-scale project. Pennsylvania ranked 2nd in growth with 29%, followed by Illinois with 22%, Wyoming with 21%, and New Mexico with 20%.

Additional report highlights:
The top five states in additions for new capacity added in the third quarter are:
* Texas - 436 MW
* Oregon - 251 MW
* Illinois - 201 MW
* Colorado - 174 MW
* Wyoming - 170 MW

The top five states in total operating wind capacity are:
* Texas - 8,797 MW
* Iowa - 3,053 MW
* California - 2,787 MW
* Minnesota - 1,805 MW
* Oregon - 1,659 MW

AWEA will hold a webcast to present and discuss the findings of the Q3 market report on Wednesday, October 21, at 12:00pm EST. To register for the webcast go to www1.gotomeeting.com/register/727161720.

The full Q3 market report is available on the AWEA website at www.awea.org/publications/reports/3Q09.pdf.

Acro offers Solar Purchase Agreements with SunRun

Acro Energy Technologies Corp. (TSX Venture: ART) now offers California customers a solar power purchase agreement through a new strategic alliance with SunRun, the nation`s leading home solar service company.

As part of the companies` agreement, Acro Energy and SunRun will offer solar electricity service agreements to residential customers and Acro Energy will sell solar electricity facilities to SunRun as a preferred solar systems integrator. With SunRun`s unique solar power purchase agreements, homeowners pay a small one-time system installation fee and then a low monthly bill to have solar energy power their homes. The one-time system installation fee is a fraction of the normal upfront cost of installing a home solar system.

SunRun`s power purchase agreements provide Acro Energy customers with monitoring, repairs, insurance and a performance guarantee for solar systems, offering homeowners additional simplicity and peace of mind when switching to solar power.

"The ability of homeowners to finance solar electricity systems is the single biggest hurdle for the solar integration market. Offering SunRun to our customers is a competitive advantage for Acro Energy," said Nat Kreamer, Interim President of Acro Energy. "It should help us convert a significant number of currently contracted customers, who want an affordable solar financing option, into revenue."

"Our relationship with Acro Energy will allow SunRun to bring affordable solar to even more homeowners in California," said SunRun President Lynn Jurich. "Together, we look forward to growing the number of homeowners who are getting clean energy and saving money."


Campus Sustainability report: Colleges going green

New portal allows universal access to sustainability data from 332 schools

Despite budget-breaking investment losses and widely fluctuating energy costs, many schools became greener during the last year, earning higher grades on the College Sustainability Report Card 2010. Released on the new GreenReportCard.org website by the Sustainable Endowments Institute, a special project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, the annual publication provides school profiles and grades along with exclusive insights about sustainability in higher education.

The profiled schools have combined holdings of more than $325 billion—approximately 95 percent of all higher education endowment assets. Widespread investment declines have impacted almost all schools, with the Report Card finding average endowment value dropping by 23 percent in the past year. With red ink dominating school budgets, did green expenditures get axed?

“Surprising the skeptics, most schools we surveyed did not let financial reversals undermine their green commitments,” said Mark Orlowski, executive director of the Sustainable Endowments Institute. “New financial realities encouraged saving money by adopting environmentally friendly innovations.”

To promote shared learning in the down economy, the Sustainable Endowments Institute’s in-depth research on 332 colleges is now available at a new online portal. For the first time, the Institute is offering universal access to 1,100 sustainability survey responses about campus, dining and student initiatives, as well as endowment investment. Access to endowment information is intended to foster constructive dialogue about investment in clean energy and in community development, as well as about sustainability considerations in shareholder voting.

More than 95 percent of participating institutions agreed to share the inner workings of their green practices, resulting in over 10,000 pages of detailed data and descriptions. Overall, the College Sustainability Report Card has the highest response rate of any college sustainability ranking or rating.

“Colleges are now taking pride in greener campuses and sustainability-savvy investments—increasingly important concerns for parents and students in choosing a school,” Orlowski said. “They can find the first comprehensive college sustainability selection tool at GreenReportCard.org.”

Sixty-eight percent of 12,715 high school students applying to college, who were recently polled by the Princeton Review, said that they would value having information about a college’s commitment to the environment. To help students search, the Report Card website offers comparison of up to 10 schools at a time.

Students can also explore schools by geographic region on the interactive map. This feature enables users to click on a college in a particular area to see all grades listed by category and to link directly to that school’s full profile. Other popular searches include listings of schools by athletic league, environmental studies majors, sustainability jobs on campus, renewable energy use and dozens of other options.

Grading the schools entailed researching publicly available information, conducting surveys of appropriate school officials, and assessing performance with 120 questions across 48 indicators in the following 9 categories: Administration, Climate Change & Energy, Food & Recycling, Green Building, Transportation, Student Involvement, Endowment Transparency, Shareholder Engagement and Investment Priorities.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Bioneers by the Bay: Connecting for Change

The 5th annual Bioneers by the Bay conference is coming up this Thursday, October 22nd - Sunday 25th.

Bioneers by the Bay: Connecting for Change is an internationally acclaimed annual gathering of environmental, industry and social justice innovators who have demonstrated visionary and practical models for restoring the Earth and its inhabitants.

Join Bioneers by the Bay for three days of live keynote presentations, afternoon workshops, an exhibition hall featuring sustainable businesses and organizations, a community action center, films, music, art installations, a farmers’ market and local & organic food and MORE!

Keynote speakers, Will Allen wrote an great piece in the Boston Globe today about the importance of locally grown food: http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2009/10/19/the_good_food_revolution/
Register today!

Energy Efficiency Study: 4.7 Million Servers Globally Wasting $25bn a Year

Three Quarters of Server Managers Polled Believe One Sixth of Their Servers are not Doing any Useful Work

1E, a leading provider of software and services which reduce organizations' IT costs and environmental footprint, today announced the results of an independent global study of server managers. The study, conducted by Kelton Research, commissioned in association with the Alliance to Save Energy, revealed that the world's largest IT departments have millions of servers that are not doing anything useful.

“Contrary to popular belief, one of the largest causes of energy and IT operational waste in data centers are servers that are simply not being used. The savings from decommissioning non-productive servers cannot be ignored. Organisations need better information on server efficiency and more effective ongoing server energy management.” comments Sumir Karayi, CEO, 1E.

“At 1E, we have always looked at IT inefficiency as an opportunity for innovation. Nearly 10 years ago we pioneered PC Power Management and have since saved our clients over $300m in energy costs alone. We are delighted to share our latest research findings on server energy and efficiency with you and hope that the results provoke action. We are also pleased to announce NightWatchman Server Edition, which addresses the issues highlighted,” concludes Karayi.The key findings from the 1E/Alliance to Save Energy study are:

- 15% or more servers are not doing anything useful according to 72% of server managers
- Over eight in ten (83%) admit that they do not have an adequate grasp of server utilization- 72% of server managers polled admitted that they rely on CPU utilization as their measure of server efficiency. (Note: a CPU is busy whether the server is providing a service to the business or doing routine maintenance tasks which provide no business value)
- 63% rely on manual checks, trial and error or wait until something is broken to find unused servers
- 65% have virtualized unused servers and almost one in three (32%) state that they are actively seeking a solution to virtual server sprawl
- 41% are concerned about and a further 43% are using change control procedures or software to manage virtual server sprawl, a phenomenon where a disproportionate number of virtual servers have low or zero utilization
- 75% admit that their company's mandate to deliver high levels of IT service internally get in the way of measuring and improving server efficiency

“With U.S. data center energy consumption at an all time high, it's only logical that we reconsider how we are using IT resources. An unnecessary amount of data servers are „plugged in' 24/7 in an age when power-saving tools are available to businesses. Faced with a fast-moving regulatory environment - including the U.S. climate bill, pending EPA data center initiatives and the upcoming climate talks in Copenhagen - the U.S. IT sector may soon be under greater scrutiny for its power consumption. We'll want to say ahead of the curve and make smart, energy-efficient changes where we can,” says Kateri Callahan, president of the Alliance to Save Energy.The study of global server managers was conducted by Kelton Research in September 2009.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Siemens acquires solar thermal energy leader Solel

Siemens to decisively strengthen its position in the growth market solar thermal power Acquisition of Solel Solar Systems for about $418 million

Siemens AG is to acquire the solar thermal power company Solel Solar Systems Ltd. To date, the majority stake has been held by Ecofin Ltd., a London-based investment firm, and another major shareholder. “After the rapid and highly successful expansion of our wind power business, we now want to continue this success story in the solar sector. With the acquisition of Solel, Siemens can now strengthen its market position in the promising business of solar thermal power plants. We can thus further expand our extensive Environmental Portfolio – and, as already announced, we will become even greener,” said Siemens President and CEO Peter Löscher.

Solel Solar Systems has a workforce of over 500 and is one of the world´s two leading suppliers of solar receivers, which are key components of so-called parabolic trough power plants. The high-growth company, which posted revenue totaling almost $90 million in the first six months of its current fiscal year (January 1 to June 30, 2009), is also a leader in the planning and construction of solar fields. The purchase price is about $418 million (currently equivalent to around €284 million1). The transaction is subject to approval by the responsible authorities. It is anticipated that the closing will take place before the end of this calendar year.

Solel is a successful company in the future-oriented solar power sector, with decades of experience in the development and manufacture of solar field equipment and the planning and construction of solar fields. Since 2006, Solel has also been present on the Spanish market, supplying key components for 15 solar thermal power plants with a combined capacity of 750 megawatts. In addition, the company is also active on the important U.S. market.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

NREL: Software for Building energy efficiency simulation

OpenStudio, a new quick, easy to use and free software tool created by NREL developers seamlessly combines the building energy simulation of EnergyPlus with the popular drawing interface of Google's SketchUp.

Gone is the tedious and time-consuming task of manually entering building geometry data. Now users can quickly sketch a computerized 3-D drawing of a building and run a fast simulation during the early design phase to determine if their design is energy efficient. Taking a virtual X-ray of a building's energy use in the conceptual phase helps architects design a structure with fewer carbon emissions, lower utility bills and a healthier environment.

OpenStudio Simulates Energy Usage in Early Design Phase
The OpenStudio plug-in is bridging the gap between energy modeling and the building design process. Nick Long, a NREL engineer who helps develop OpenStudio, says the software is a critical piece to getting energy simulation into the early design phase of building construction.

"Integrating energy analysis into that phase is very important because you can start to reduce energy use well before a building is even in conceptual design," he said.

Because of the simplicity of OpenStudio and the quickness of the SketchUp models, architects can easily use this tool during the launch of a building project. "Our hope is that by using OpenStudio in design charrettes, users can start throwing away designs at the very beginning of a project, saying: 'This is not a good design because we're going to use too much energy,'" Long said.

Users Download OpenStudio for Free
Around the globe, architects and engineers are embracing OpenStudio. Users can download the software for free and see how easy it is to improve a building's energy consumption in a fraction of the time of more-expensive computer-aided design (CAD) packages.

Approximately 700 copies of OpenStudio are downloaded each month. "It's been great," Long said. "Thousands of users of EnergyPlus are learning about OpenStudio and adopting it as the defacto geometry editor."

Download OpenStudio: http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/buildings/energyplus/openstudio.cfm

Monday, October 05, 2009

Cisco and Yello Strom Launch Energy-Saving Smart Grid Pilot in Germany

- Innovative communication technology supports new intelligent power systems
- Customers empowered to optimize consumption for off- peak periods
- Energy consumption predicted to fall by 10% or more

Yello Strom, among Germany’s top 10 electricity companies, and Cisco today announced the launch of a ’smart grid’ pilot. Its aim is to create an intelligent energy system that allows customers to measure and control the power consumption of their electrical appliances, enabling them to reduce their monthly bills as well as carbon emissions, while significantly cutting down on peak-period demand.

The smart grid pilot will also make more efficient use of renewable energy resources — including solar cells, and a combined heat and power plant — and reduce each local area’s reliance on reserve capacity.

In the current pilot, Cisco and Yello Strom have collaborated to enable 70 selected homes and businesses to communicate intelligently with the local power grid and power sources over an Internet Protocol (IP) network. Customers will use Yello Sparzähler online (a smart electricity meter) to receive information about their electricity consumption in real time. Meanwhile, a home energy management system will allow customers to set appliances such as washing machines to operate during off-peak periods, via the use of ’smart plugs.’

Cisco’s vision is for networking technology to provide a highly secure and intelligent end-to-end electrical infrastructure that helps enable the entire electrical system to be managed as a single integrated entity from generation to use in business and the home. Thanks to its inherent intelligence, such a network would be able to actively sense and respond to changes in power supply and demand, improving the security and reliability of energy delivery while optimizing operational costs.

"Innovative communication technology is the core of the smart grid. Without it, the vision of an intelligent electricity supply would remain utopian" notes Michael Ganser, Cisco’s senior vice president for Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and the chairman of the board at Cisco Germany.

"The control of electric current is very similar to the management of information flow, so smart grids operate on principles similar to those behind the Internet" explains Christian Feisst, industry lead for utilities within the Cisco Internet Solutions Business Group. "The exception is that electricity systems have a much greater number of nodes. This is where we are able to apply our expertise, integrating and processing crucial information that helps enable electricity consumption to be optimized"

Yello Strom specializes in optimizing electricity systems, enabling customers to use their electricity as efficiently as possible and, ultimately, to profit financially from new tariff deals.

Says Martin Vesper, managing director of Yello Strom GmbH: "We are convinced that smart grid technology, based on IP, is the best solution for customers, effectively allowing them to become part of the intelligent network. This means they can control and optimize their own electricity usage and power generation via smart meters, with direct personal benefits"

Surveys have shown that such technology can reduce energy consumption by around 10 percent, while reductions of more than 15 percent can be achieved if electrical items (such as dishwashers or washing machines) are time-delayed.

Over time, the resulting reduction in power consumption peaks is expected to help tackle the capacity shortfall predicted for the German electricity market. Reserve capacity could then be rolled back. Traditionally, this has been provided by gas- or oil-fired power stations. With a smart grid system in place, however, this reserve supply could be provided, at least in part, by consumers. The cost of the electricity system as a whole would then fall, with benefits for both energy providers and consumers.