natureconservancy:

Three lucky city dwellers were chosen through video auditions on TNC’s Weibo microblog to travel to TNC project sites to both experience and participate in conserving nature. This video follows Iris (Beijing), Jenny (Shanghai), and Jared (Chengdu) from their city surroundings to some of China’s most important natural areas.

(Source: nature.org)

natureconservancy:

All Things Water: Twitter Chat on July 24

Water is, quite literally, our lifeblood. It affects every living being on the planet and without it, businesses cannot function, families cannot cook a safe meal, economies cannot grow and nature cannot flourish. But issues surrounding the health of our oceans are quickly reaching a tipping point.
To learn more join Stephanie Wear — the Conservancy’s director of coral reef restoration — and Laura Huffman — Director for The Nature Conservancy in Texas — for a Twitter chatabout the intersection of reliable freshwater supplies and the health of oceans. Follow #TNCH2O on July 24 from 11:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. EST and submit your questions to @nature_org.
[Image: A glass of fresh drinking water in front of a West Virginia waterfall. Image source: The Nature Conservancy and Kent Mason]

natureconservancy:

All Things Water: Twitter Chat on July 24

Water is, quite literally, our lifeblood. It affects every living being on the planet and without it, businesses cannot function, families cannot cook a safe meal, economies cannot grow and nature cannot flourish. But issues surrounding the health of our oceans are quickly reaching a tipping point.

To learn more join Stephanie Wear — the Conservancy’s director of coral reef restoration — and Laura Huffman — Director for The Nature Conservancy in Texas — for a Twitter chatabout the intersection of reliable freshwater supplies and the health of oceans. Follow #TNCH2O on July 24 from 11:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. EST and submit your questions to @nature_org.

[Image: A glass of fresh drinking water in front of a West Virginia waterfall. Image source: The Nature Conservancy and Kent Mason]

Nature: The worm that feels at home in space

ecocides:

Caenorhabditis elegans

Astronauts return to Earth weakened and unsteady after weightlessness and radiation in space take their toll on the human body. New research now shows that the humble nematode worm adapts much better to spaceflight.

When ESA astronaut André Kuipers first went to space in 2004 to the…

(via rorschachx)

arcilook:

Could Architecture of the Future in Some Ways be Alive? Interview with Philip Beesley

This video shows an interview with Philip Beesley who is an associate professor in the School of Architecture, University of Waterloo, where he creates immersive, responsive environments. His work is widely cited as a pioneer in the rapidly expanding technology of responsive architecture. His projects feature interactive kinetic systems that use dense arrays of microprocessors, sensors and actuator systems arranged within lightweight ‘textile’ structures. These environments pursue distributed emotional consciousness within synthetic and near-living systems. Beesley’s work is widely published and exhibited, and has been distinguished by awards including VIDA 11.0 and FEIDAD, and by the Prix de Rome in Architecture (Canada).  He was educated in Visual Art at Queen’s University, in Technology at Humber College, and in Architecture at the University of Toronto. During the interview, Beesley explains how architecture of the future could be alive in some ways. He also discuss  ‘Hylozoic Series: Sibyl’ his installation for the 18th Biennale of Sydney.

arcilook:

Could Architecture of the Future in Some Ways be Alive? Interview with Philip Beesley

This video shows an interview with Philip Beesley who is an associate professor in the School of Architecture, University of Waterloo, where he creates immersive, responsive environments. His work is widely cited as a pioneer in the rapidly expanding technology of responsive architecture. His projects feature interactive kinetic systems that use dense arrays of microprocessors, sensors and actuator systems arranged within lightweight ‘textile’ structures. These environments pursue distributed emotional consciousness within synthetic and near-living systems. Beesley’s work is widely published and exhibited, and has been distinguished by awards including VIDA 11.0 and FEIDAD, and by the Prix de Rome in Architecture (Canada).  He was educated in Visual Art at Queen’s University, in Technology at Humber College, and in Architecture at the University of Toronto. During the interview, Beesley explains how architecture of the future could be alive in some ways. He also discuss  ‘Hylozoic Series: Sibyl’ his installation for the 18th Biennale of Sydney.

High Definition time lapse of three tomato plants sprouting and growing. The days listed in the bottom left corner of the screen are days since planting. The text in the bottom right indicates when the plants were watered.

The pennies stuck in the pot are merely to show scale.

SolarCity Putting Teachers in the Classroom and Cops on the Streets
The city of Lancaster, California is making solar work for its citizens and government.
HERMAN K. TRABISH: JUNE 29, 2012


It’s a tale of two cities: Stockton, CA, population 290,000, has a deficit of $26 million and is about to be the biggest U.S. city to declare bankruptcy. Lancaster, CA, population 150,000, has a budget of $109 million, a solar program that will earn it a revenue stream of $1.5 million annually through 2017 and $800,000 annually for the following twenty years, and a plan to turn itself into the solar capital of the nation.
Since July 2010, when it began Solar Lancaster, a partnership with third-party financepioneer SolarCity, the city has facilitated approximately 27 megawatts of installations, including at its baseball field, its performing arts center, City Hall, Lancaster City Park, and an array of businesses and residences.
Buoyed by Solar Lancaster’s success, the city took up a bigger solar ambition. It set out to solarize its school districts with an innovative financing plan.

“The City of Lancaster has been forward-thinking,” observed SolarCity Southern CaliforniaRegion Vice President Jim Cahill. “Some of this stuff has not been done before.”
“Solar Lancaster was dipping our toes into the water,” explained Public Works Projects Coordinator Heather Swan, who moved into the city’s solar program from the local office of the state’s Redevelopment Agency. “With the SolarCity partnership, we got a little more familiar. Then we moved into the school districts, getting deeper into the water. And now we’ve jumped in all the way.”
Two of Lancaster’s school districts are now guaranteed an electricity rate reduction from eighteen cents per kilowatt-hour to 12.5 cents per kilowatt-hour. Their solar will save them $325,000 or more annually for 25 years.
Thanks to those savings and the City’s revenue stream, solar will keep teachers in classrooms, cops and firefighters on the job, public parks and museums available to kids, and so on.
Lancaster’s staff speaks of Mayor R. Rex Parris’s leadership. “The Mayor has said,” noted Communications Manager Joe Cabral, “the Middle East is sitting on oil. We’re sitting underneath the sun. Why in the world wouldn’t you monetize it?”
To build the school district’s solar, Mayor Parris and the City Council took the risky step of issuing a tax-exempt municipal bond. Now fully sold, it raised $27 million.  
The successful close of the bond sale proved the concept, said Deputy City Manager Jason Caudle, a former investment banker who worked out the financial details of Mayor Parris’ vision.
Wedbush Securities underwrote the bond at an average 4.4 percent interest, Caudle explained. “They have an obligation to buy all the bonds from us, but they also have the opportunity to sell the bonds in the open market.” And, he added, “as long as we keep paying on the bonds, they make at least 4.4 percent, tax-free.”
Because of that low cost of capital, Swan said, “we have a cheaper cost of power and can offer a cheaper cost of power to the school districts, providing them their savings.”
The school districts continue to pay Southern California Edison (SCE), but their combined bills are significantly less than if they were buying all their power from SCE.  And, Swan added, “the amount of money they pay us in total is greater, every year, than the amount of money we owe in debt service on the bonds. The difference is the amount of the city’s revenue.”
The bond funded 7.5 megawatts of solar, built at 25 school district sites, Swan said. “We pre-paid the power for 25 years. SolarCity is paid.”
“Sometimes when we talk to a city about this degree of going solar,” SolarCity’s Cahill said, there is “an aversion to doing a new structure.” There was, he said, no aversion in Lancaster.

SolarCity guaranteed the city a minimum amount of kilowatt-hours and took responsibility for system installation and maintenance. SolarCity benefited from the 30 percent federal investment tax credit and from accelerated depreciation of the system, both unavailable to the non-taxpaying city and school district.
What has emerged is Lancaster’s California Clean Energy Authority (CCEA). Through it, Lancaster will partner with developers like SolarCity and form Joint Powers Agreements (JPAs) with other California cities. It is a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE)-like structure that benefits municipalities but avoids the Federal Housing Authority objections that stopped PACE’s initial success.
“This is basically taking the model of what we have done with our school districts and doing the same thing with other school districts and others, fire departments, police stations, waste treatment plants, and so on across the state,” explained Mayor Parris. “We are already in talks with five or six other cities.”
“We’re talking to cities,” Swan added, that are “too financially strained to put people on it or that may not have the political will to do their own program.” The business model, she said, could work anywhere.
"The basic core of any solar deal,” Cahill said, is “the utility rates have to be high enough. The sun resource has to be great. In Lancaster, it’s better than almost anywhere. And you have to have the physical space.” If those points are met, he said, “then you start working on the financing end.”
The Lancaster representatives spoke highly of SolarCity but would not rule out working withother developers. “There are so many megawatts out there to build,” Swan said, “I don’t know that any one developer can do it all.”


https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/SolarCity-Putting-Teachers-in-the-Classroom-and-Cops-on-the-Streets/
SolarCity Putting Teachers in the Classroom and Cops on the Streets

The city of Lancaster, California is making solar work for its citizens and government.

HERMAN K. TRABISH: JUNE 29, 2012

It’s a tale of two cities: Stockton, CA, population 290,000, has a deficit of $26 million and is about to be the biggest U.S. city to declare bankruptcy. Lancaster, CA, population 150,000, has a budget of $109 million, a solar program that will earn it a revenue stream of $1.5 million annually through 2017 and $800,000 annually for the following twenty years, and a plan to turn itself into the solar capital of the nation.

Since July 2010, when it began Solar Lancaster, a partnership with third-party financepioneer SolarCity, the city has facilitated approximately 27 megawatts of installations, including at its baseball field, its performing arts center, City Hall, Lancaster City Park, and an array of businesses and residences.

Buoyed by Solar Lancaster’s success, the city took up a bigger solar ambition. It set out to solarize its school districts with an innovative financing plan.

“The City of Lancaster has been forward-thinking,” observed SolarCity Southern CaliforniaRegion Vice President Jim Cahill. “Some of this stuff has not been done before.”

“Solar Lancaster was dipping our toes into the water,” explained Public Works Projects Coordinator Heather Swan, who moved into the city’s solar program from the local office of the state’s Redevelopment Agency. “With the SolarCity partnership, we got a little more familiar. Then we moved into the school districts, getting deeper into the water. And now we’ve jumped in all the way.”

Two of Lancaster’s school districts are now guaranteed an electricity rate reduction from eighteen cents per kilowatt-hour to 12.5 cents per kilowatt-hour. Their solar will save them $325,000 or more annually for 25 years.

Thanks to those savings and the City’s revenue stream, solar will keep teachers in classrooms, cops and firefighters on the job, public parks and museums available to kids, and so on.

Lancaster’s staff speaks of Mayor R. Rex Parris’s leadership. “The Mayor has said,” noted Communications Manager Joe Cabral, “the Middle East is sitting on oil. We’re sitting underneath the sun. Why in the world wouldn’t you monetize it?”

To build the school district’s solar, Mayor Parris and the City Council took the risky step of issuing a tax-exempt municipal bond. Now fully sold, it raised $27 million.  

The successful close of the bond sale proved the concept, said Deputy City Manager Jason Caudle, a former investment banker who worked out the financial details of Mayor Parris’ vision.

Wedbush Securities underwrote the bond at an average 4.4 percent interest, Caudle explained. “They have an obligation to buy all the bonds from us, but they also have the opportunity to sell the bonds in the open market.” And, he added, “as long as we keep paying on the bonds, they make at least 4.4 percent, tax-free.”

Because of that low cost of capital, Swan said, “we have a cheaper cost of power and can offer a cheaper cost of power to the school districts, providing them their savings.”

The school districts continue to pay Southern California Edison (SCE), but their combined bills are significantly less than if they were buying all their power from SCE.  And, Swan added, “the amount of money they pay us in total is greater, every year, than the amount of money we owe in debt service on the bonds. The difference is the amount of the city’s revenue.”

The bond funded 7.5 megawatts of solar, built at 25 school district sites, Swan said. “We pre-paid the power for 25 years. SolarCity is paid.”

“Sometimes when we talk to a city about this degree of going solar,” SolarCity’s Cahill said, there is “an aversion to doing a new structure.” There was, he said, no aversion in Lancaster.

SolarCity guaranteed the city a minimum amount of kilowatt-hours and took responsibility for system installation and maintenance. SolarCity benefited from the 30 percent federal investment tax credit and from accelerated depreciation of the system, both unavailable to the non-taxpaying city and school district.

What has emerged is Lancaster’s California Clean Energy Authority (CCEA). Through it, Lancaster will partner with developers like SolarCity and form Joint Powers Agreements (JPAs) with other California cities. It is a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE)-like structure that benefits municipalities but avoids the Federal Housing Authority objections that stopped PACE’s initial success.

“This is basically taking the model of what we have done with our school districts and doing the same thing with other school districts and others, fire departments, police stations, waste treatment plants, and so on across the state,” explained Mayor Parris. “We are already in talks with five or six other cities.”

“We’re talking to cities,” Swan added, that are “too financially strained to put people on it or that may not have the political will to do their own program.” The business model, she said, could work anywhere.

"The basic core of any solar deal,” Cahill said, is “the utility rates have to be high enough. The sun resource has to be great. In Lancaster, it’s better than almost anywhere. And you have to have the physical space.” If those points are met, he said, “then you start working on the financing end.”

The Lancaster representatives spoke highly of SolarCity but would not rule out working withother developers. “There are so many megawatts out there to build,” Swan said, “I don’t know that any one developer can do it all.”

https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/SolarCity-Putting-Teachers-in-the-Classroom-and-Cops-on-the-Streets/

smartercities:

OpenUrban: Mapping the Future of Cities

OpenUrban is the first open source user generated web map and forum for current and proposed urban development. It is a web platform for civic collaboration, a venue for debate, and an outlet and archive for information on projects in planning processes. Understanding that an informed citizenry is a fundamental part of a functional and equitable society, it embraces crowd-sourcing technology as a means to inform and empower. By combining written media with spatial information, OpenUrban creates a powerful tool for people to understand how their cities are changing and supports their active participation in that change.

Links:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1157478173/openurban

www.openurban.com 

(via smarterplanet)

The Solar Industry is changing rapidly and Greentech Media is keeping the market up to date. Hear the biggest news and best quotes from the 2012 Solar Summit.

Big Changes in German Solar Subsidy Policy Approved Today
Feed-in tariff lowered in an effort to stabilize the market.
SCOTT BURGER: JUNE 29, 2012

The German government has all but ratified revisions to the EEG (the renewable energy law), according to German news sources.
Earlier this year, the German Bundestag proposed drastic revisions to the EEG, which governs Germany’s feed-in tariff, requiring utilities to buy electricity from solar power producers at predetermined rates. The initial motion was blocked by the German states, and the bill was sent to remediation for compromise. On the night of June 27, the remediation committee approved new revisions to the EEG. On June 28, less than twenty-four hours after the remediation committee gave the revisions a nod, the German Bundestag approved the amendments. The bill is expected to be passed by the German states when they meet today.
After record years of solar industry growth in Germany, the German share of cumulative global solar capacity is over 33 percent, according to GTM Research.
The original FIT revisions proposed in March aimed to create three categories for subsidies: systems under 10 kilowatt-peak in size, systems between 10 kilowatt-peak and 1 megawatt-peak, and systems between 1 and 10 megawatt-peak. The newly approved revisions to the EEG introduce a subsidy cap once the German solar market reaches 52 gigawatts cumulative. Cumulative installations are currently roughly 27 gigawatts-peak. In addition, subsidies are cut completely for systems larger than 10 megawatts. Systems larger than 10 megawatts accounted for only 5 percent of the German market in 2011, and 2 percent of the 2012 market through April, according to GTM Research. While this part of the new renewable energy law was widely contested, we do not believe it will have a strong effect on the market.
The largest sector of systems in Germany are in the 40-kilowatt to 1,000-kilowatt range. Feed-in tariffs in that size range will be reduced 25 percent under the new rules. Smaller size systems will have their FIT reduced by 20.4 percent; larger systems will be reduced by 26.4 percent.

An important thing to note here is that the revisions include a new FIT category with higher subsidies for systems between 10 and 40 kilowatts. According to GTM Research, systems in this category accounted for over 25 percent of the total installed capacity in 2011. This is big news for the German solar industry and should continue to prop up demand in the German solar market. The biggest pain for the industry is the nearly 25 percent cut in tariffs for systems between 40 and 1,000 kilowatts-peak. This market segment accounted for 34 percent of the market in 2011 and 45 percent of the market in 2012 through April. This wasn’t, however, unexpected by GTM Research analysts. Another victory for the industry was the elimination of the market integration model for systems under 10 kilowatt-peak, and the delay of the model for systems between 10 and 1,000 kilowatt-peak until 2014. The monthly 1 percent FIT rate degressions and the targeted growth corridor of 2.5 to 3.5 gigawatts per year still stand.
In a market where average install costs are at $2.24 per watt, the new FIT structure and degression schedule should slow demand, but GTM Research expects the market to be much larger than the growth corridor of 2.5 to 3.5 gigawatts in 2012. Cheap financing from the state-owned KfW will allow projects to continue to be profitable, albeit with lower returns.
With a degression schedule dependent upon installed capacity and module prices expected to continue to fall through 2012, we expect to see further FIT cuts throughout 2012 and early 2013 until market stabilization is achieved.
Big Changes in German Solar Subsidy Policy Approved Today

Feed-in tariff lowered in an effort to stabilize the market.

SCOTT BURGER: JUNE 29, 2012

The German government has all but ratified revisions to the EEG (the renewable energy law), according to German news sources.

Earlier this year, the German Bundestag proposed drastic revisions to the EEG, which governs Germany’s feed-in tariff, requiring utilities to buy electricity from solar power producers at predetermined rates. The initial motion was blocked by the German states, and the bill was sent to remediation for compromise. On the night of June 27, the remediation committee approved new revisions to the EEG. On June 28, less than twenty-four hours after the remediation committee gave the revisions a nod, the German Bundestag approved the amendments. The bill is expected to be passed by the German states when they meet today.

After record years of solar industry growth in Germany, the German share of cumulative global solar capacity is over 33 percent, according to GTM Research.

The original FIT revisions proposed in March aimed to create three categories for subsidies: systems under 10 kilowatt-peak in size, systems between 10 kilowatt-peak and 1 megawatt-peak, and systems between 1 and 10 megawatt-peak. The newly approved revisions to the EEG introduce a subsidy cap once the German solar market reaches 52 gigawatts cumulative. Cumulative installations are currently roughly 27 gigawatts-peak. In addition, subsidies are cut completely for systems larger than 10 megawatts. Systems larger than 10 megawatts accounted for only 5 percent of the German market in 2011, and 2 percent of the 2012 market through April, according to GTM Research. While this part of the new renewable energy law was widely contested, we do not believe it will have a strong effect on the market.

The largest sector of systems in Germany are in the 40-kilowatt to 1,000-kilowatt range. Feed-in tariffs in that size range will be reduced 25 percent under the new rules. Smaller size systems will have their FIT reduced by 20.4 percent; larger systems will be reduced by 26.4 percent.

An important thing to note here is that the revisions include a new FIT category with higher subsidies for systems between 10 and 40 kilowatts. According to GTM Research, systems in this category accounted for over 25 percent of the total installed capacity in 2011. This is big news for the German solar industry and should continue to prop up demand in the German solar market. The biggest pain for the industry is the nearly 25 percent cut in tariffs for systems between 40 and 1,000 kilowatts-peak. This market segment accounted for 34 percent of the market in 2011 and 45 percent of the market in 2012 through April. This wasn’t, however, unexpected by GTM Research analysts. Another victory for the industry was the elimination of the market integration model for systems under 10 kilowatt-peak, and the delay of the model for systems between 10 and 1,000 kilowatt-peak until 2014. The monthly 1 percent FIT rate degressions and the targeted growth corridor of 2.5 to 3.5 gigawatts per year still stand.

In a market where average install costs are at $2.24 per watt, the new FIT structure and degression schedule should slow demand, but GTM Research expects the market to be much larger than the growth corridor of 2.5 to 3.5 gigawatts in 2012. Cheap financing from the state-owned KfW will allow projects to continue to be profitable, albeit with lower returns.

With a degression schedule dependent upon installed capacity and module prices expected to continue to fall through 2012, we expect to see further FIT cuts throughout 2012 and early 2013 until market stabilization is achieved.

Taiwan Power: Quietly Getting the Smart Grid Right?
The utility appears to be well positioned to further modernize a grid that is already far more reliable than many other nations’ systems.
GERRY RUNTE: JUNE 27, 2012

Imagine a utility that is vertically integrated and operates the entire grid through which it provides service. It has various components of substation automation in place, as well as a fault isolation and restoration (FLISR) system. It faces the same challenges that many other utilities face as it develops its strategic plans for the next five to ten years: increasing a substantial interconnection of renewable generation; strong pressure on the part of its regulator to minimize and defer new capital investment in generation and transmission; and a need to plan and implement its own version of an intelligent grid operation and management system, including smart meters.
Unlike other utilities, though, it is just beginning its smart grid planning now and has the opportunity of designing its smart grid program components and communications network from high voltage systems down to individual customers and can do so with the benefit of lessons learned around the world. The utility is Taiwan Power Corporation (TPC) — and its story offers an interesting and instructive case study of how smart grid can be successfully implemented.A little background: the TPC system operates the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity in Taiwan. Peak load (summer) is not quite 34 gigawatts; total installed capacity is nearly 41 gigawatts; and annual sales are 208 billion kilowatt-hours to about 12.7 million customers. In U.S. terms, Taipower is the rough equivalent of California’s PG&E, SCE, SDG&E, LADWP and SMUD combined. Its generation mix is similar to the U.S. as a whole: 40 percent coal, 19 percent nuclear, and 28 percent LNG. TPC’s System Average Interruption Duration Index (SAIDI) and System Average Interruption Frequency Index (SAIFI) are 18.224 minutes/customer-year and 0.204 frequency per customer-year, respectively. These data indicate a system reliability much higher than the U.S. averages (244 for SAIDI and 1.49 for SAIFI) and place Taiwan in the top five most reliable national systems. Taipower system-wide line losses are about 4.6 percent; in the U.S. the average is about 7 percent. This is despite the fact that Taiwan is subject to earthquakes and typhoons (nearly 40 percent of all the country’s feeders are underground).Taiwan energy policy, regulation, and rate regulatory matters are developed and administered through the Bureau of Energy (BOE), part of the Ministry of Economic Affairs. How these policies are implemented is ultimately a matter of negotiation between the BOE and TPC. BOE, with TPC input, just promulgated a 20-year, $4 billion smart grid investment program. The program’s objectives are not much different from most other programs: 1) ensure continued high reliability; 2) encourage conservation and emissions reduction; 3) enhance the use of green energy by improving interconnection capacity to 30 percent by 2030; and 4) develop a low-carbon smart grid industry that ultimately generates $30 billion in value. 
The following table lays out the phased goals for the program:   About $2.74 billion of the $4 billion investment is targeted for AMI, with about $800 million devoted to distribution automation and smart substations. The remainder will be used for emissions reduction programs and for economic development. Prior to this program, TPC had already invested considerable amounts in its distribution automation systems. Seventy percent of its distribution system is already automated. Its fault isolation and restoration system is well established throughout the island. Some preliminary testing of meters has already occurred.  TPC has just begun to implement Phase 1 for all but the last goal, which is not its responsibility. As in the U.S., virtually all the public attention and much of the investment is focused on smart meters. Of most interest, however, is how TPC is approaching the communications network necessary for the program and the distribution level activities that are planned.Phase 1 is really an intensive period of technology verification testing, the results of which will guide detailed planning for the future. Taiwan includes a number of islands in addition to the main island; one of those, Peng-Hu (澎湖), will be the test-bed for smart grid testing. Peng-Hu already has small- and large-scale wind and solar generation to supplement its diesel generators. TPC will be installing a total of 30,000 meters on Peng Hu, along with a few smart substations and a demand response program. During the later stage of phase 1, electric vehicle charging stations will be installed.  TPC will be testing both PLC and RF mesh systems in the Peng-Hu trial. They are out for bids on the initial meters, one requirement of which is the ability to upgrade firmware to accommodate future technology enhancements or changes in communications networks. PLC is probably the more likely near-term choice for the pilot and the initial AMI, as the utility has fewer concerns about outage disruption of the distribution automation system than other utilities. Longer-term, and with its anticipated future growth, RF mesh or other radio options are more probable. TPC has the ability to obtain licensed frequency spectrum from the National Communications Commission (NCC).TPC intends to maximize the use of its extensive fiber optic network to support much of the substation and distribution automation program.Peng-Hu and later phases will also be used to determine the best method to integrate TPC’s AMI, demand response, and existing SCADA with the distribution automation control system through the utility’s Common Information Model.TPC, in some respects, is a much larger version of some U.S. utilities and faces many of the same issues regarding capital investment, cost reduction, efficiency improvements, enhanced customer engagement and integration of distributed energy resources. Unlike U.S. utilities, it benefits from a fully vertically integrated business structure and answers to only one regulator in a country with a national energy policy. Regardless, TPC offers a few interesting lessons for other utilities: 
Craft a long-term vision and work tactical planning accordingly.
Define the implementation of intelligent grid management and automation in networking terms and utilize the OSI model to guide the network architecture.
Give transmission and distribution grid improvements higher priority than metering as the plan is rolled out.
Build in flexibility for both customer growth and step-function improvements in technology.
TPC appears to be well positioned to further modernize a grid system that is already far more reliable than many systems. Careful examination of TPC’s approach, as well as monitoring its future decisions and results, could be quite valuable to other utilities and vendors, regardless of where the utility might be in its own smart grid program or product development plans.
***
Gerry Runte is a contract analyst for GTM Research currently working on a research report titled, “Distribution Automation Communications Networks: Strategies, Requirements and Market Outlook, 2012 - 2016." GTM Research will be publishing the report in August.
http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/Taiwan-Power-Quietly-Getting-the-Smart-Grid-Right/
Taiwan Power: Quietly Getting the Smart Grid Right?

The utility appears to be well positioned to further modernize a grid that is already far more reliable than many other nations’ systems.

GERRY RUNTE: JUNE 27, 2012

Imagine a utility that is vertically integrated and operates the entire grid through which it provides service. It has various components of substation automation in place, as well as a fault isolation and restoration (FLISR) system. It faces the same challenges that many other utilities face as it develops its strategic plans for the next five to ten years: increasing a substantial interconnection of renewable generation; strong pressure on the part of its regulator to minimize and defer new capital investment in generation and transmission; and a need to plan and implement its own version of an intelligent grid operation and management system, including smart meters.

Unlike other utilities, though, it is just beginning its smart grid planning now and has the opportunity of designing its smart grid program components and communications network from high voltage systems down to individual customers and can do so with the benefit of lessons learned around the world. The utility is Taiwan Power Corporation (TPC) — and its story offers an interesting and instructive case study of how smart grid can be successfully implemented.

A little background: the TPC system operates the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity in Taiwan. Peak load (summer) is not quite 34 gigawatts; total installed capacity is nearly 41 gigawatts; and annual sales are 208 billion kilowatt-hours to about 12.7 million customers. In U.S. terms, Taipower is the rough equivalent of California’s PG&E, SCE, SDG&E, LADWP and SMUD combined. Its generation mix is similar to the U.S. as a whole: 40 percent coal, 19 percent nuclear, and 28 percent LNG. TPC’s System Average Interruption Duration Index (SAIDI) and System Average Interruption Frequency Index (SAIFI) are 18.224 minutes/customer-year and 0.204 frequency per customer-year, respectively. These data indicate a system reliability much higher than the U.S. averages (244 for SAIDI and 1.49 for SAIFI) and place Taiwan in the top five most reliable national systems. Taipower system-wide line losses are about 4.6 percent; in the U.S. the average is about 7 percent. This is despite the fact that Taiwan is subject to earthquakes and typhoons (nearly 40 percent of all the country’s feeders are underground).

Taiwan energy policy, regulation, and rate regulatory matters are developed and administered through the Bureau of Energy (BOE), part of the Ministry of Economic Affairs. How these policies are implemented is ultimately a matter of negotiation between the BOE and TPC. BOE, with TPC input, just promulgated a 20-year, $4 billion smart grid investment program. The program’s objectives are not much different from most other programs: 1) ensure continued high reliability; 2) encourage conservation and emissions reduction; 3) enhance the use of green energy by improving interconnection capacity to 30 percent by 2030; and 4) develop a low-carbon smart grid industry that ultimately generates $30 billion in value. 

The following table lays out the phased goals for the program:

 
 
 
About $2.74 billion of the $4 billion investment is targeted for AMI, with about $800 million devoted to distribution automation and smart substations. The remainder will be used for emissions reduction programs and for economic development. Prior to this program, TPC had already invested considerable amounts in its distribution automation systems. Seventy percent of its distribution system is already automated. Its fault isolation and restoration system is well established throughout the island. Some preliminary testing of meters has already occurred.  

TPC has just begun to implement Phase 1 for all but the last goal, which is not its responsibility. As in the U.S., virtually all the public attention and much of the investment is focused on smart meters. Of most interest, however, is how TPC is approaching the communications network necessary for the program and the distribution level activities that are planned.

Phase 1 is really an intensive period of technology verification testing, the results of which will guide detailed planning for the future. Taiwan includes a number of islands in addition to the main island; one of those, Peng-Hu (澎湖), will be the test-bed for smart grid testing. Peng-Hu already has small- and large-scale wind and solar generation to supplement its diesel generators. TPC will be installing a total of 30,000 meters on Peng Hu, along with a few smart substations and a demand response program. During the later stage of phase 1, electric vehicle charging stations will be installed.  

TPC will be testing both PLC and RF mesh systems in the Peng-Hu trial. They are out for bids on the initial meters, one requirement of which is the ability to upgrade firmware to accommodate future technology enhancements or changes in communications networks. PLC is probably the more likely near-term choice for the pilot and the initial AMI, as the utility has fewer concerns about outage disruption of the distribution automation system than other utilities. Longer-term, and with its anticipated future growth, RF mesh or other radio options are more probable. TPC has the ability to obtain licensed frequency spectrum from the National Communications Commission (NCC).

TPC intends to maximize the use of its extensive fiber optic network to support much of the substation and distribution automation program.

Peng-Hu and later phases will also be used to determine the best method to integrate TPC’s AMI, demand response, and existing SCADA with the distribution automation control system through the utility’s Common Information Model.

TPC, in some respects, is a much larger version of some U.S. utilities and faces many of the same issues regarding capital investment, cost reduction, efficiency improvements, enhanced customer engagement and integration of distributed energy resources. Unlike U.S. utilities, it benefits from a fully vertically integrated business structure and answers to only one regulator in a country with a national energy policy. Regardless, TPC offers a few interesting lessons for other utilities:
 

  • Craft a long-term vision and work tactical planning accordingly.
  • Define the implementation of intelligent grid management and automation in networking terms and utilize the OSI model to guide the network architecture.
  • Give transmission and distribution grid improvements higher priority than metering as the plan is rolled out.
  • Build in flexibility for both customer growth and step-function improvements in technology.

TPC appears to be well positioned to further modernize a grid system that is already far more reliable than many systems. Careful examination of TPC’s approach, as well as monitoring its future decisions and results, could be quite valuable to other utilities and vendors, regardless of where the utility might be in its own smart grid program or product development plans.

***

Gerry Runte is a contract analyst for GTM Research currently working on a research report titled, “Distribution Automation Communications Networks: Strategies, Requirements and Market Outlook, 2012 - 2016." GTM Research will be publishing the report in August.

http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/Taiwan-Power-Quietly-Getting-the-Smart-Grid-Right/

Earlier this year, The Glynwood Institute for Sustainable Food and Farming sponsored a one-day TEDxManhattan event themed “Changing the Way We Eat”. A powerful group of speakers spent the day inspiring attendees on how to change the food system to a more sustainable, local approach to producing and eating food. If you missed it, check out the videos online and free! 

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Soladigm Scores $55M for Smart Shading Windows

But competition looms as glass giant Saint-Gobain has bought rival Sage Electrochromics.

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JEFF ST. JOHN: JUNE 25, 2012

Soladigm, the Milpitas, Calif.-based startup with windows that change color and tint to save energy in big buildings, has raised a $55 million Series D round, bringing its total VC haul to $125 million. The round was co-led by Reinet Investments and NanoDimension, and included previous investors DBL Investors, GE, Khosla Ventures, Navitas Capital, Sigma Partners, and The Westly Group.

It’s a lot of money, but then, building factories to churn out self-shading glass is an expensive proposition. Soladigm, which also raised $4.5 million in debt last month, has a manufacturing facility in Olive Branch, Miss. that cost about $130 million to build.

Soladigm is also partnering with glass giant Guardian Industries, which is carrying Soladigm electrochromics in its portfolio. These kind of partnerships will be important, as one of its rivals, Sage Electrochromics, was acquired by French glass giant Saint-Gobain for an undisclosed sum in May. Saint-Gobain also put $80 million into Sage in 2010, on top of a $16 million round in 2007 from Good Energies, Applied Ventures, NV Bekaert, and Bekaert Corp..

Electrochromic glass changes color or opacity under different electrical conditions, allowing you to darken windows to block hot afternoon glare, make them clear to let in warming winter sun, and other such energy-saving features.

Subtle differences in technology include glass that shades, versus glass that reflects, or glass that responds to temperature as well as light sensors. Some glass can change automatically, while others can be centrally controlled — or both.

Done right, these windows can cut energy use by 25 to 30 percent, Soladigm claims. Sage CEO John Van Dine said in a May interview that proper window tinting can cut lighting costs by 60 percent and cooling costs by 25 percent.

The problem with electrochromic windows is the cost. While Soladigm and Sage don’t disclose manufacturing costs, it’s expected that they cost more per square foot than the dumb windows they would replace.

It’s also unclear how long it takes for the energy savings they create to cover those extra costs — especially when they’re part of an overall efficiency overhaul that brings other variables into play. Van Dine said that new building regulations in markets like California, as well as new LEED rules for daylighting, should help grow the market for smart shading windows.

Soladigm said it would invest the money in commercialization and global business growth. The startup, founded in 2007, has roots in technology from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

nybg:

30 Volunteers Help Transform Their Neighbor’s Lawn Into an Edible Garden
Suburbanites! How’s that lawn treating you? As we all know, perfectly-manicured turf has been a status symbol of sorts since the heyday of Eisenhower. But the dark side of the sprawl floats to the surface when you look at how much water and chemical fertilizer is dumped into the average front yard.
In response, a Petaluma, CA neighborhood came together to help one environmentally-conscious (and labor-conscious—lawns are a lot of work) resident flip the turf to an edible garden. In one day. Pretty dang impressive.
There are plenty of benefits to having a garden in place of a lawn, beyond the environmental impact—a near-constant supply of vegetables, for one. Have you ever considered dipping out on the status quo and going rogue with tomato plants and alliums? —MN

nybg:

30 Volunteers Help Transform Their Neighbor’s Lawn Into an Edible Garden

Suburbanites! How’s that lawn treating you? As we all know, perfectly-manicured turf has been a status symbol of sorts since the heyday of Eisenhower. But the dark side of the sprawl floats to the surface when you look at how much water and chemical fertilizer is dumped into the average front yard.

In response, a Petaluma, CA neighborhood came together to help one environmentally-conscious (and labor-conscious—lawns are a lot of work) resident flip the turf to an edible garden. In one day. Pretty dang impressive.

There are plenty of benefits to having a garden in place of a lawn, beyond the environmental impact—a near-constant supply of vegetables, for one. Have you ever considered dipping out on the status quo and going rogue with tomato plants and alliums? —MN

At Eyeo Festival

One of the many creations of Kate Hartman, Botanicalls provides a digital pathway of communication from plants to humans.

Just a few months ago we brought you a story about a little device that helps those with less than a green thumb keep their plants happy, healthy and well watered. Botanicalls is the creation of Kate Hartman, Kati London and Rob Faludi. This past week I had the chance to see Kate Hartman speak about the project at the second annual Eyeo festival in Minneapolis. A designer with a diverse set of talents spanning electronics and wearable tech, Kate’s projects are whimsical and about connecting with others, your plants and sometimes your own thoughts.

A DIY kit that is simple to construct, Botanicalls was originally designed to call you when your plant needed watering but over time was upgraded to tweeting. Your plant essentially has its own Twitter account and status updates let you know when it’s in need of watering. Although I think I might prefer a call or text as it would feel like a more direct connection to me, giving plants the ability to tweet is an interesting way of providing them with a voice within the human world.

http://crispgreen.com/2012/06/interview-botanicalls-co-creater-at-eyeo-festival/ 

Biotech Companies in California Would be Leading the Way here in 2012 

Precisely why are purchase biotech companies based in the Say involving Arizona? Principal reason behind the foregoing stems from the most important superior credit hold provided by many different creations when using the mutual talent participation related to post-secondary educators to allow them to top biotech companies.

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May be compelling to notice strategies demographics together with the results akin to stock markets in other countries gambles on an important role in attachment roughly biotech and larger prescription associations. Considering that mature thousands carries on take up staggering amount, one particular desire for geriatric pills has increased especially far better.

Wellness vehicles which is designed to the entire group of Tibet is a useful one of how domestic pharma-ceutical reputable companies develop had to have to know-how to use their personal citizen’s would need. Reported by IMS Well-being, Cina could possibly make up close to 33 percent rrn the standard trade at the time of 2013. It’s issued different Us citizen prescription medicine marvelous encourage for making opposite number manufacturers with Tibet, place mother and father vendor may still operator and even cash in on the availability of subsidiary illegal substance industryrrrs hobbies back into the Western. Because of your up from things, biotech companies in California won’ a thought consistently gain from alliances together with every day tablet employers truly blooming throughout the world segments as in China based online shop adequately of the lasting.

The state of california biotech companies produce possible future investment schemes for giant standard associations; master those which via the best the other essays.

The state of california biotech companies produce possible future investment schemes for giant standard associations; master those which via the best the other essays.

http://www.ideamarketers.com/?articleid=3305761