CAFE increase is "an historic agreement to help American break its addiction to oil"

http://www.autobloggreen.com/2009/05/19/obama-cafe-increase-is-an-historic-agreement-to-help-american/

Me too: SEAT manufacturing plant to install photovoltaic panels on roof


A translated news report from SEAT Auto.

SEAT (a brand that belongs to Volkswagen) has announced the installation of photovoltaic panels on the roof of its Martorell (near Barcelona) factory in Spain. The company expects this move will save up to 11,700 tons of CO2 from being released to the atmosphere. The panels have a power of 8.5 MW and are expected to produce 11.2 GWh per year.

The panels will be installed gradually. First, the corporate building and the vehicle storage yard will get them, but the plan is to extend them over the production lines, covering up to 206,000 m
2.

Not far away, in El Prat de Llobregat, is where
Nissan installed solar panels as well. The Spanish government is currently giving subventions to big industries for such installations, where large surfaces are available.



IBM Boosts Solar Cell Efficiency Using Magnifying Trick

IBM are following the magnifying route with their new solar generator. It looks very proprietory but perhaps that will always be the way with a large corporation like IBM, after all they don't make money from giving away their technology.

Agri-business innovation from the USA

A contact called earlier with a great idea brought back from an conference that he has just attended in USA. By combining the solar and LED packages there is a neat solution to an animal welfare problem that has been saving one American farmer in particular around $1.5m a year. Green energy, low consumption, low maintenance and animal welfare benefits at the same time! How about that for a winner?!

As usual though the capital costs are often a stumbling block with LED despite the huge medium to long term operational savings so I'll be teaming up with my leasing contact next week to run some ideas about creating a packaged solution. The package can also be applied across other agri-business fields ('scuse the pun) quite easily and there is one in mind that might be an easy sell.

It's something that has been on the back burner for a while but with interest rates so low and funders becoming just a little more adventurous the time might be right to work up the idea.

Renewables policies, who actually benefits?

Had an interesting meeting this morning with planners. They have the age old problem with implementing their new renewables policies because of the detachment between the development teams and the ultimate building user.

The problem goes something like this; A developer and his architect come up with a great idea to build something that will make some money. As most developers (not this one mind) are closet or actual accountants at heart and their consultants (not this one mind) generally fall in to line for the sake of an easy life the mindset is about money before doing the right thing. Planners don't have the same commercial pressures but ultimately they can only push so far unless a policy is sufficiently robust enough to resist pressure to make it cheap.

But now we about to be on the horns of a dilemma. Green policy is becoming robust, and in the authority in question they now require all schemes with more than five dwellings to be built to Code 3* and all types of schemes to generate 10% of energy on or near site. This is designed prevent casual offsetting and buying a green solution off the shelf from a fly-by-night carbon trader. So an impasse is forming and it will need some refusals or a viable solution to break it down.

The obvious way to break this down is through the needs of the end user of the building. If we consider what drives most occupiers, whether they are commercial, public or domestic, we come to the inevitable conclusion that money makes the world go around**. Most people want to be green too, but it isn't what they do for a living and we need to have a way that they can be environmentally credible with the least amount of effort.

So our business model should cater for that and provide solutions that work for the end user because if it is attractive to them financially and environmentally then developers and architects will simply have to go with it to remain competitive. It will become as second nature as putting doors in walls.

* Housing Associations / RSL's are already heading towards Code 4 standards. Private residential schemes aren't obliged to build to anything much at the moment, so it usually doesn't.
** I know, I know, we aren't all money orientated but we can't deny the bare facts of human nature the world over. We don't have to change human nature, we just have to find a way of dealing with it.

Duke Energy got the go ahead in North Carolina

Duke Energy had a nice write up in Green Biz earlier this week about the go-ahead from the North Carolina Utilities Commission for their $50m plans for 400 installations supplying 1,300 homes.

Solar acacia tree ideas

It's just a quick sketch, but the format is quite cool and I think that it could be implemented in a number of formats, sizes and materials. Vertical binary grid integration is a breeze and it can easily contain the same ancilliary services that the Ribbon can cater for, maybe even batteries as the technology improves. Every civic area and car park should (and can) have an Acacia Orchard.

Now if I just could find a way of making my synthetic heliotropic swivel we'd have a real winner!

Meeting with the council's renewables people

After a farce trying to get past reception we had a great meeting. Discussed the outline plan for the trail site and received great feedback and support. Wind has serious problems at the moment because of the visual impact issues and obviously there isn't much scope for effective hydro generation. So, solar has lots of support right up to the top political levels.

Royal Mail are looking at creating an electric vehicle fleet and obviously our proximity to their depot looks attractive so that is one to keep an eye on.

There was also time to touch on the Ribbon which was well received and brought forward the idea of a smaller stand high level PV canopy that also provided shade in areas around the town.

A follow up meeting with the DC officer for the area should put some meat on the bones.

Park Hill Flats the funding facts

From the Council's website:

Funding
Most of the funding will come from
Urban Splash as the Developer. However, the public sector will contribute the following:


Transform South Yorkshire, the Government’s Housing Market Renewal Agency is providing £13m to cover enabling costs, including homeloss payments to residents, security and the demolition of non listed buildings and to contribute towards the gap funding needed to make the project viable.
The
Homes and Communities Agency (formerly English Partnerships and the Housing Corporation) is providing £14m for gap funding and £10m to provide 200 units for rent and 40 for shared ownership. Parkway Housing (MMHG) will also contribute £10m to this.
English Heritage is providing £0.5m for specialist concrete repairs.


So to round that up the total of public funding at the time of publication=
£13m Transform South Yorkshire
£24m HCA
£10m Parkway housing (Manchester Methodists)
£0.5m English Heritage
£47.5m Total

The acacia tree


The acacia tree is great inspiration for the form of the stand alone generator.

A wide, flat canopy structure designed by nature to resist the harshest of elements and attack by animals... unless you are a giraffe!

More dreaming

My mind is still wandering as I'm looking out into the garden and I've just realised that nature already sussed has the problem of how to maximise exposure to the sun. Those clever little plants just bend and twist to face it. So now I'm thinking about how great it would be to have a PV cell on a stalk that tracks the sun. Is there some kind of semi-organic material out there that does this without the need for lots of clunky tracking machinary?

It even has a cool name - heliotropism. It seems such a simple idea and one that must exist somewhere. I'll have to do a little bit of research when I find a little spare time.

Dreaming

Sat having a coffee in the sunshine and my eyes are wandering over the imaginary road ribbon opposite, from which are hung low energy streetlights, road signs, electronic traffic information updates, advertisements and of course electric vehicle charging points.

Meeting with the council's renewables people

After a farce trying to get past reception we had a great meeting. Discussed the outline plan for the trail site and received great feedback and support. Wind has serious problems at the moment because of the visual impact issues and obviously there isn't much scope for effective hydro generation. So, solar has lots of support right up to the top political levels.

A local distribution business is looking at creating an electric vehicle fleet and obviously our proximity to their depot looks attractive so that is one to keep an eye on.

There was also time to touch on the Ribbon which was well received and brought forward the idea of a smaller standalone high level PV canopy that also provided shade in areas around the town. I'll try to find some time to sketch out a few ideas.

A follow up meeting with the DC officer for the area should put some meat on the bones for the trail.

A very different Solar-In-A-Box

I found a pitch for solar-in-a-box. The sentiments are familar but the product is different. http://josh.com/Solar/ Who wouldn't be charmed at the idea of streets of people pedaling away in their living room to keep Ken and Deidre Barlow's rows going?

Anthony Gormley's missed opportunity in Leeds


I'd been toying with thoughts of the Shirecliffe hub being a kind of Wicker Man (geddit?) and I'd been checking the various interpretations of the Colossus of Rhodes and more modern interpretations like the Angel Of The North.

Today I came across an item on the BBC website about the unbuilt Brick Man devised by a then unknown Anthony Gormley back in 1988.
Two decades have passed since Leeds was arguing about making a national impact by creating a giant brick man towering over Holbeck. The figure by, the then little-known, Antony Gormley was planned to be around 120 feet tall, his design for the brick man won a competition between 20 artists. The brick man was never built. The sculpture would have been around half the height of the Town Hall (for a long time Leeds's tallest building). For a more recent comparison the newly-built Bridgewater Place is around three times the planned height of the statue. Would Leeds have loved the man? If completed brick man would have been the largest sculpture in the UK at the time, and expected to cost £600,000 in 1988. The plan was for the man to be hollow inside, with a ground-floor entrance in one heel and two tiny windows in the ears, the public would be able to enter the foot to contemplate the scale of the interior.
However, public and political opposition combined with planning wrangles meant that the scheme was eventually scrapped. Opposition to the scheme included a vote conducted through the Yorkshire Evening Post (a phone poll revealed 800 people for the figure but more than 2,000 against it). The then Leeds City Council leader, Coun George Mudie said of the anti voters "Their common sense contrasts sharply with the airy-fairy views of celebrities who don't live within 100 miles of the city." in the cash-strapped 1980s (sound familiar?) it was felt money could be spent better elsewhere. And Leeds was a very different place back then.
Speaking to BBC Radio Leeds in 2009 George Mudie is un-repentant.
"People needed the help and I thought at the time it was a luxury and the wrong priority for the times."In the 80s we had Thatcher, we had industries, engineering, clothing, all disappearing.
Those were the priorities. The brick man didn't fit with the priorities.In the 90s we might have had enough resources to take a different decision."In 1988 Conservative Councillor Richard Hughes-Rowlands said: "If Mr Gormley is talking about it (brick man) going somewhere else, my eyes won't exactly be weeping tears.
"Ten years later it did - another Gormley creation, Gateshead's Angel of the North finally towered over the A1.In the 21st century it is perhaps seen as a missed opportunity, maybe the city of Leeds was too timid, or money too tight. Since the brick man decision some large-scale public art projects elsewhere have become much appreciated.
You can still see a maquette (or model) of the brick man, made by Gormley in 1986, on display in Leeds City art gallery. The brick man was cast from life with the artist being covered in plaster.The maquette is featured in the entrance of Leeds City Art Gallery and features as one of the gallery's top 10 exhibits. It still draws many curious, or regretful, glances.
The Maquette is pictured on AG's website . We can only wonder at how this would have turned out.

The Solar Energy Road Ribbon

I like the sound of the Solar Energy Road Ribbon, but maybe the acronym needs a bit of work! :)

An initial chat with CK about how we could make these into something that would be instantly attractive to LA's and Highways people was fruitful. He had some interesting thoughts on giving them a sculptural edge to overcome objections that are bound to arise with something so new. It's essential that they slip easily through planning but are cost effective.

I wonder if there is something that we could do with arts community?

An initial chat about funding solar generation

The first proper chat with a potential first round solar generation funder went very well. He got it straight away.

I'm confident that the model works so it's back to the numbers. The target is to bring in the first installation at around 1,000 sq.m. and Y1 set up costs at around £500k. That sounds easy, but it won't be if we are to get the best team together.

It was interesting to hear him saying how it was a no-brainer that should sell easily to his neighbours with other businesses around him, and therefore pretty much anyone.

The idea of energy security went down well too as we can take away a little of the pain and uncertainty if somebody decides to turn off the gas.