Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Green Energy: Kenya Goes Geothermal (Thanks To Israel's Ormat)

Posted: 09 Dec 2008 06:10 AM PST

(Hat Tip: Cleantech Investing in Israel, Image: Ormat Olkaria III geothermal power plant in Kenya)

After being in the news due to past political riots (and family ties to the President Elect), it looks like the nation of Kenya has yet another reason for being in the spotlight--this time for embracing green technology.

(Ormat Press Release) Ormat Technologies, Inc. [...] announced today at an American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE) event the completion of phase two construction at the Olkaria III geothermal power plant in Kenya. The power plant has been synchronized to the grid, adding 35 MW of base load capacity to the existing 13 MW plant that has been in continuous operation since 2001 with availability between 97% and 99%.

The expanded power plant will save 120,000 tons of imported oil, mitigate approximately 200,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year and reduce the average production cost of electricity in Kenya while reducing its dependence on imports.

"Ormat is proud to have built up the plant capacity to the original target of 48 MW," said Lucien Bronicki, Chairman and Chief Technical Officer of Ormat. "This accomplishment was made possible by Ormat's belief in Kenya's economy combined with the hard work and dedication of our Kenyan employees and colleagues."

This is great news for Kenya, as the African nation already imports about half a million barrels of oil from Sudan a month (which is probably not a good thing due to the genocide happening in the region).

Hopefully Israel (through Ormat) can help build more of these geothermal power plants, as it could help spur the African continent to not only become more energy independent, but set an example for the rest of the continent (if not the world as well).

Friday, November 21, 2008

Lithium phosphate batteries in Brammo’s Enertia all-electric motorcycle

Battery Companies On Starting Grid For Motorcycle Deal

21st November 2008

Valence Technology, a developer of safe lithium phosphate energy storage solutions, says that it has finalized a supply agreement with Brammo, a manufacturer of ultra-efficient, lightweight vehicles. Building on a collaborative development process, Valence will provide lithium phosphate batteries for installation in Brammo’s Enertia all-electric motorcycle.

"We are very pleased to announce this agreement as it reflects the hard work and collaboration of both the Valence and Brammo teams,” said Robert L. Kanode, president and CEO of Valence. "This agreement with Brammo epitomizes our approach to work with our customers from initial introduction to final adoption, which we are currently applying to other companies that are in our development pipeline. We continue to see growing acceptance of our lithium phosphate energy storage solutions in the electric vehicle market as we educate customers on the benefits of our technology.”

Weighing only 280 pounds, the Enertia motorcycle is an urban commuter bike that exceeds 50 mph and 45 miles on a single 3-hour charge. At approximately 40 cents per charge or about 1 cent per mile, the Enertia is positioned to be the compelling green alternative for the new urban consumer. The Enertia standard model went on sale in 2008.

“Following the successful completion of $10 million in Series A funding, this supply agreement with Valence was critical as we move forward to bring our Enertia motorcycle to market next year,” said Craig Bramscher, CEO of Brammo, Inc. “The battery is the enabling technology for our bike and Valence’s chemistry provides both an amazing life cycle and inherent safety not found in other lithium-ion batteries. We have been testing and evaluating their solution for some time and we were impressed by Valence’s level of knowledge and support.”

While modern motorcycles currently produce up to 15 times the emissions per mile as the average new car or light-duty truck, the Brammo Enertia emits no pollutants or carbon while riding, making it a true zero-emissions vehicle. The lithium phosphate energy storage solutions supplied by Valence contribute to Enertia’s extremely low environmental impact. In addition to being fully recyclable, lithium phosphate is also intrinsically safer than other lithium chemistries and contains no heavy metals.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Cool Earth's New inexpensive Concentrating PV balloon

Cool Earth has developed breakthrough solar technology that can ultimately produce enough clean energy to address the global energy crisis. This patented concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) technology dramatically reduces the cost and time to develop solar power plants capable of generating massive amounts of clean energy at prices competitive with fossil fuels.

Our technology, which is the basis for our power plants, is "reshaping solar energy" in a very literal way: Most of today's solar energy systems take the form of flat panels or boxes-with-lenses and require large amounts of heavy, expensive materials. Our inflated solar concentrators, on the other hand, are shaped like balloons and are primarily made of inexpensive and free materials. This design approach radically reduces material requirements as well as our plant deployment costs and time.


Solar Concentrators Focus the Sun…

Our inflated, balloon-shaped concentrators are key to Cool Earth's innovative design. Each 8-foot-diameter concentrator is made of plastic film—the same kind of plastic film used to bag potato chips, pretzels, and so on—with a transparent upper hemisphere and a reflective lower hemisphere. When inflated with air, the concentrator naturally forms a shape that focuses or concentrates sunlight onto a PV cell placed at the focal point. This means we need fewer cells to produce a lot more electricity. In fact, a single cell in our concentrator generates about 300 to 400 times the electricity of a cell without a concentrator.

The inflated structure is naturally strong—strong enough to support a person's weight—and aerodynamically stable, able to withstand winds of 125 miles per hour. Finally, the transparent upper surface protects the PV cell and mirrored surface from the environment, including rain and snow, as well as insects and dirt.

Each concentrator has additional structural components: a small steel strut and a harness. The steel strut, tethered in place, holds the cell at the focal point inside the concentrator and provides a conduit for a small water loop that cools the cell. A lightweight, flexible steel band forms a harness around the circumference of the concentrator and is used to hold and point the concentrator.

A Support System Holds It All in Place…

The concentrators are suspended with our patented support system, which is based on the architectural principles of tensegrity. (Tensegrity structures stabilize their shapes by continuous tension or "tensional integrity" rather than by continuous compression.) The resulting system of wood posts and steel cables uses a minimum amount of material, has a small footprint, and causes the least disruption to the natural environment of any solar power plant.

…And, That's It!

All in all, a simple, elegant solution.

For More Information— Please download a copy of our Solar Power 2006 Presentation in PDF format.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Denial: problems of hydrogen, nuclear coal energy - vs. geothermal, electric cars

September 2, 2008

The Elephant Under the Rug: Denial and Failed Energy Projects

by Thomas R. Blakeslee, Clearlight Foundation At the World Renewable Energy Conference in Glasgow I recently witnessed the strange phenomenon of group denial first hand. After a paper about hydrogen-fueled cars, some embarrassing questions were asked about the practicalities of storing and delivering hydrogen to the cars. The questions were dismissed and the questioners meekly backed down. I wanted to jump in and set them straight but keenly felt the group pressure to not ruin the party. I couldn't do it!

Groupthink is a strange phenomenon resulting from our deep genetic programming as herd animals: If our peer group is ignoring the giant lump in the living room rug, we will naturally imitate their behavior and walk around the elephant hidden there. We tend to be drawn into a sort of mass hallucination where everyone conforms to an unspoken agreement to ignore the inconvenient but obvious truth. We walk around the lump without consciously seeing it.

Group denial can be dangerous. The housing bubble and the dotcom bubble are recent disastrous examples. The loan officers, realtors, journalists, investment bankers and regulators that caused the housing bubble were all blind to the developing problem as they rationalized and convinced themselves that every thing was OK. It is now painfully clear that they were unconsciously caught up in a fantasy world of denial. When you're making lots of money, it's natural to think that you must be brilliant. Your peer group supports you and nobody wants to spoil the party. It's not intentional, just human nature.

I learned a lot about group denial eight years ago when I lost millions on dotcom stocks. It seemed so certain that those hot stocks would regain their past glory. I was drawn deeply into dotcom denial. There were voices speaking the truth then, but my peer group and I kept the faith and laughed together at them.

U.S. energy policy has developed several similar delusions where people are still getting rich pursuing failed projects that should have been abandoned years ago. Mare than half of our US $4 billion DOE science budget is being spent to keep alive failed programs. Saving face and saving contracts has made denial the order of the day. Billions in subsidy money finance a war chest for lobbying that keeps these programs alive.

Let's look closer at the denial of fatal flaws in three major DOE programs where money is being spent recklessly and entire industries, government agencies and journalists are in group denial:

The Hydrogen Initiative: US $246 million 2009 budget

Honda now has a few beautiful, finished-looking, FCX hydrogen cars on the road. But wait! How do we produce and distribute the hydrogen that runs them? The tanker trucks that replenish gasoline stations can carry about 300 fill-ups. However, hydrogen takes up much more space and requires high-pressure cylinders that weigh 65 times as much as the hydrogen they contain! One giant 13 ton hydrogen delivery truck can carry only about 10 fill-ups! By ignoring this fatal flaw in the hydrogen economy idea we have created the illusion of success that is grossly inefficient compared to electric cars. Well-to-wheel efficiency analysis of the Honda FCX shows that the Tesla pure electric car is 3X more efficient and produces 1/3 the CO2 emissions!

Group denial makes us ignore obvious but inconvenient truths like the inherent inefficiency of the hydrogen economy. It was overlooked when the project was conceived, which is forgivable, but now denial makes us overlook it when we should know better. Batteries charged from the grid are clearly a better way to go; yet the DOE budget for battery development is less than one-fifth of the hydrogen budget.

Electrical distribution for overnight recharging is already installed in virtually every home that has a car. Batteries can store and retrieve that electricity with 95% efficiency to drive motors that are 90% efficient. Hydrogen would require a whole new fueling infrastructure. But why bother? It can't begin to compete with electricity because the efficiency of producing, transporting, storing and then converting hydrogen to electricity with a fuel cell is pathetic by comparison.

When I have a writing deadline it gives me great energy for fixing things around the house to avoid facing the real problem. That's exactly what we have done in the hydrogen initiative. We had great fun creating a nifty looking car. Now if we could just figure out a way to get fuel to it that is competitive with charging a battery we would really have something.

Nuclear Power: US $1.4 Billion 2009 budget, $44 billion spent so far

The heavily subsidized nuclear industry died in 1979 when the Three-mile island and Chernobyl accidents made it painfully clear that the radioactive substances used were just too dangerous to be spread all over the map. Both accidents could have been much worse had a real meltdown occurred.

Denial has become easier today as memories fade it is much easier to pretend there is no problem and get on board the "nuclear renaissance." It's very similar to the recent housing bubble (renaissance), which was only possible because memories of the previous housing bubble that burst in 1990 had faded. The federal government bailout from our housing bubble may cost a trillion dollars before we are through. Amazingly, the "nuclear renaissance" is built on the promise of a similar bailout included in the 2005 energy bill: Nuclear accidents will have a maximum liability to the builder of only US $10.9 billion. If there is a meltdown, taxpayers have been generously volunteered to pay for any excess damages! Sandia estimated that damages could reach US $600 billion but we are optimistic because our memories have faded since the last disaster.

The 9/11 attacks showed us how easily a meltdown could be arranged by a well-aimed terrorist-hijacked airliner crash. In fact, if you're a terrorist, the possibilities with nuclear fuel and waste stored all over the map will be endless. The "nuclear renaissance" will be a bonanza for terrorists.

A Safe Way to Harness Nuclear Power

Nuclear elements in the earth are continually decaying, producing so much heat that the core of the earth is about 6000°C, hotter than the surface of the sun. In fact, 99.9% of the earth's volume is hot enough to boil water. We can generate all the electric power we need from that heat by simply drilling through the earth's crust and using water to carry the underground heat up to turbine generators on the earth's surface. This way we leave the dangerous radioactive elements where they are and simply use the heat they naturally generate to run our power plants.

This may sound like an impossible dream, but it is already being done profitably, producing 10 gigawatts of electricity worldwide at costs competitive with coal. It is called geothermal power generation. The source of heat in geothermal power is the decay of uranium and thorium in rocks safely sequestered underground. It is crazy is to dig these dangerous elements out, concentrate them and ship them to dangerous reactors just to boil water to run generators.

With geothermal power we boil the water by sending it down a well to the hot rocks. Steam comes out of a second well nearby and drives a turbine generator. Simple and safe! The steam is condensed and recycled, so water consumption is minimal. No pollution no dangerous waste and no fuel cost. What's the catch? Geothermal power is as cheap as coal in areas where the earth's crust is thin but drilling costs currently make it too expensive in most parts of the world. A breakthrough in drilling technology could make it practical everywhere.

Geothermal drilling is expensive mainly because we are using technology developed for oil exploration. Geothermal power requires deeper, larger holes, often through hard rock. If just 5% of the US $70 billion in federal money already lavished on nuclear power had been spent on drilling technology, we could have geothermal power virtually anywhere today. Hydrothermal spalling technology is capable of drilling five times faster through hard rock but zero federal money is available for its development. Google recently made a US $11 million investment in this technology.

No new nuclear power plants have been built in thirty years. The few plants now under construction are years behind schedule and billions over budget. Any plants in planning today will not be complete until at least 2020 and will be very expensive. With an aggressive drilling research program geothermal plants could fill our baseload power needs much sooner and at lower cost.

Clean Coal Technology: US $754 million 2009 budget

Coal power generation began a steep decline in 1983 when the horrendous pollution problems it was creating became impossible to ignore. Memories fade so denial has created a "renaissance" in coal spurred by a marvelous invention called "clean coal." This oxymoron doesn't actually exist but sounds like just the thing for solving our energy problems.

The problem is that "clean coal" will never be economical because when we burn coal each carbon atom joins with two oxygen atoms so every ton of coal we burn produces 3.7 tons of CO2! That currently amounts to nearly 10 billion tons of CO2 per year! One of the research projects budgeted for 2009 will try to sequester one million tons of CO2 per year. That's a mere fraction of the amount we need to hide! It's only 5% of what a single large power plant can produce.

Denial allows us to ignore this as a minor detail that can be worked out later. In reality the whole idea is clearly flawed and not economical. The "clean coal" initiative is a crash program to rescue a powerful industry, not a credible attempt to solve our energy problems. If we spent even a fraction of the money wasted on this boondoggle to develop advanced geothermal drilling technology we could quickly solve our energy problems and put a stop to the terrible environmental destruction being wreaked by coal.

Our energy policymaking has been hijacked by the coal and nuclear industries. They have sabotaged appropriations that have real potential for solving our energy problems and directed vast billions instead to keeping their dying industries alive. Technology could solve our energy and pollution problems if we could just free ourselves from the political stranglehold of these heavily subsidized industries.

Thomas R. Blakeslee is president of The Clearlight Foundation, a non-profit organization that invests in renewable energy and other socially useful companies and issues cash grants to individuals who are working effectively for change.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Giant Israeli Firm May Launch Alternate Electric Car Project

August 25, '08

( The giant Israeli holding company IDB may launch its own electric car project and compete with Shai Aggasi's Project Better Place, Globes reported. Aggasi's project is being advanced in coordination with French automaker Renault-Nissan, and IDB is talking with Chinese manufacturer BYD Auto.

The Chinese company's executives said earlier this month that they intended to market an electric car n Israel and in its own country following a meeting with President Shimon Peres.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Thirty Reasons Why Organizations Must Get Off Petroleum Now

August 11, 2008
by Charles Cresson Wood

Don't get me wrong -- I am very concerned about global warming and climate change. In the long run, that's one of the most serious challenges that humans face as a species. But in the short run, the world is no longer able to produce petroleum in sufficient volume to satisfy its demand. Soon it will not be able to produce petroleum in sufficient volume to satisfy its needs.

Reflecting this, a majority of the world's major oil producing countries now see that their production is in decline. These post-peak producers include the United Kingdom, Norway, Denmark, Venezuela, Mexico, Nigeria, Canada and the United States. Likewise, the world's discovery of new fields peaked in 1965, and it generally lags production by about 40 years. That means that total world production will decline sometime soon, if it has not already.

What's more, the price of crude oil has risen 95% over the last year, and this reveals that worldwide supply can no longer keep up with worldwide demand. Peak oil and its impacts will seriously affect us much sooner than climate change will, although the sooner we stop burning fossil fuels, the soon we take care of both of these very serious problems.

Although global warming gets a lot of press these days, the major media are strangely silent about peak oil. In a culture that makes it a habit to be short-term in its focus, it is astounding that more Americans are not seriously concerned about peak oil. In this brief piece, I list 30 reasons why we all must immediately start to transition away from petroleum. Although a great deal of transition-related work remains to be done, we now have eleven commercially available alternative fuels that can stand-in for petroleum. Although it looks as though all-electric cars are going to be the long-term winner, depending on the circumstances, a wide variety of other alternatives may be appropriate, at least as transition fuels. The other options include ethanol, butanol, di-methyl ether, bio-diesel, straight vegetable oil, bio-methane, natural gas, propane, hydrogen and synthetic liquid fuel.

Don't take my word for any of this. Look it up on the web or ask the retired expert geologists who used to work for the oil companies, such as Dr. Colin J. Campbell. Read some books such as Richard Heinberg's The Party's Over, or Dale Allen Pfeiffer's The End Of The Oil Age. When you really see the big picture, you will no doubt agree with me that a reorientation away from petroleum, towards renewables, is absolutely required, and it is required now.

By making the transition away from petroleum-based fuels, organizations can or will:

1. Respond to the increasing publicity about, and moral pressure favoring, the adoption of alternatives to petroleum. In the process, they will note that staff morale and public support can be augmented when an organization shows that it is in fact acting in an ecologically-responsible way.

2. Reduce and mitigate the adverse environmental impacts related to the use of oil. These impacts including air pollution from refineries, poisoning of flora and fauna when oil is produced in wilderness areas, and damages done by oil spills on land as well as in the sea. Note that burning fossil fuels contributes about 80% of the worldwide emissions of carbon dioxide.

3. Benefit from government incentives, such as loans, subsidies, and special tax credits. Organizations should expect that these incentives will become not only more common, but also considerably more compelling in the years ahead. The current U.S. alternative fuel vehicle tax credit of up to $4,000/vehicle is an example.

4. Exploit new business opportunities in alternative energy. Many progressive companies, such as General Electric and Siemens, see the transition away from oil as a significant business opportunity. These companies have invested a great deal of money in the development of new products and services to support this transition.

5. Take advantage of the marketing opportunities afforded to those organizations that paint themselves as green. Polls show that consumers are willing to pay considerably more for products and services that are indeed better for the environment.

6. Go beyond the massive spin campaign now underway to obfuscate the peak oil message. Countries such as Saudi Arabia conceal the real numbers about their available petroleum reserves and there is ample evidence that many producing countries are over-estimating these reserves. It is time for organizations to go beyond the "we need to study this" or "the jury is still out" phase, and time for organizations to enter the "begin transitioning right now" phase.

7. Show real thought leadership and catapult the organization into a position of public prominence. The U.S. government is clearly resisting change when it comes to transitioning away from oil, in fact there is ample evidence of gridlock in Washington on these issues. As a result, individuals, communities, and organizations need to all initiate their own plans for the transition away from petroleum.

8. Prepare for government-dictated mandatory changeovers to alternative energy sources, and away from petroleum. Recent research indicates that the world has, at most, thirty years to get the gasoline completely out of cars, and to otherwise stop burning fossil fuels. So while there are no current laws or regulations that require a complete conversion to new transportation technologies, for certain types of organizations, there are already partial mandatory conversion laws and regulations in place (in the U.S., one such law is the National Energy Policy Act of 1992).

9. Limit the likely future damage caused by government fuel rationing. They should expect that there will soon be rationing because even conservative organizations like the International Energy Agency (IEA) have developed plans to impose rationing via the authority of the United Nations.

10. Avoid restrictions in the petroleum-based fuel supply created by government-imposed price controls. In an effort to look as though they are doing something about the rapidly increasing price of petroleum-based fuels, many governments will impose price controls, as Richard Nixon did on oil in the 1970s. But the record is clear that these price controls do not work — they in fact create shortages.

11. Avoid a black market in petroleum-based fuels and the related government corruption. Government interventions (price controls, rationing, etc.) in the oil market will become increasingly common in the years ahead. The real-world experience in countries, such as Nigeria, shows that fuel adulteration, political bribes for favors, and related corruption problems will soon follow.

12. Prepare for a new business environment where energy is scarce. Reflecting the difficulties that we as a species are having when it comes to transitioning to renewable energy systems, over the next decade, the total amount of available energy, on a per capita basis, is likely to be considerably lower than it is today. In large measure this is because the available quantities of fossil fuels will be considerably reduced. Politician claims about the "American way of life being non-negotiable" don't in any way change this fact of life.

13. Recognize that conversion will take years of sustained and dedicated effort. Warnings about peaking world oil supply were issued more than 30 years ago, so we have had plenty of time to prepare. Unfortunately, very little has been done, and we are now in an oil crisis. Nonetheless, it still takes years to establish the new technologies, the new infrastructures, the new habits, and the new economic systems needed to fully support and exploit alternatives.

14. Begin to recreate themselves so that they are truly independent from oil, so that they open up new and previously unappreciated options. Oil is now used, in one way or another, in just about every industrial product produced (such as paints, carpets, detergents, food additives, fertilizers, and pesticides). Organizations are more likely to see and create new possibilities, such as organic and natural products, when they move away from their dependency on oil.

15. Formally acknowledge just how many of their internal costs have been oil dependent. An examination of the income statements for many organizations over the last several years will indicate that fuel has been a relatively minor and immaterial cost. But this will dramatically change in the years ahead, as the airlines and trucking firms are already coming to appreciate.

16. Lower the future cost of goods sold and/or future overhead costs. By moving to alternatives, organizations can at least partially unhook themselves from the direct correlation between the increase in the price of oil and the increase in the price of other goods. For example, studies show that a 33% increase in the price of oil translates to a 0.6% to 0.9% increase in the consumer price of food.

17. Insulate themselves from volatile oil prices caused by increasing political involvement in the oil market. Uncertain future supplies of petroleum are making prices for oil volatile, and we can expect that this volatility will get worse in the near future. This volatility will be made worse by the maneuvers of certain governments, such as that of Russia, as they attempt to gain greater power and influence using their energy resources as weapons.

18. Insulate themselves from volatile oil prices caused by speculators participating in the oil market. While speculators have recently been blamed for the run-up in the price of oil, the presence of speculators is really only a reflection of the widespread belief that there is major money to be made in the futures market and similar commodities exchanges. While speculators may be able to change the price of oil in the short run, in the long run they are not able to affect the market price, because they do not change the underlying supply and demand. Organizations transitioning away from oil can thus eliminate the need to be in competition with speculators for a dwindling supply of oil.

19. Expect that real oil prices will significantly increase because governments will add new taxes, and eliminate the existing subsidies that have encouraged the consumption of oil. While many countries, such as Iran and the United States, have subsidized both the oil industry and consumers using oil, as global supplies become tighter in the years ahead, governments will change their policies to discourage the consumption of oil. These same organizations will thus avoid having to pay the much higher cost of future petroleum-based fuels. Note that a full-costing analysis recently done by Milton Copulos at the National Defense Council Foundation indicated that the true cost of American gasoline is now US $8/gallon (this includes government subsidies, the cost of the war in Iraq, etc.).

20. Anticipate that government attempts to buffer the volatility in the oil market will diminish and soon cease. Many governments such as China and the U.S. have invested in "strategic petroleum reserves" to help buffer their domestic markets against oil shocks in the world market, but these and related approaches will soon become too costly and as a result they will be abandoned. The world is facing a shortage of certain raw materials, such as oil, and no measure of government meddling can protect consumers of oil from that fact.

21. Prepare for carbon taxes intended to reduce greenhouse gases and deal with climate change. Western Europe is currently setting an example for the rest of the world in terms of adopting laws and regulations to discourage carbon dioxide emissions. The approaches found there (including cap-and-trade systems) are likely to be found in many other countries in the years ahead. So organizations that have adopted certain alternatives, such as electric vehicles, will be well prepared for these new laws and regulations.

22. Set their organizations free from the traditional link between economic growth and inexpensive oil. The recent economic growth of both China and India has been inextricably tied-up with, and enabled by, the availability of relatively inexpensive fossil fuels. But in the future, when these fuels are much more expensive, economic growth will still be possible when renewable alternatives are employed.

23. Achieve freedom from the oil supply problems occasioned by the super-sensitivity of the oil market to small disruptions. The oil embargo against the United States in 1973 provided an example of how a relatively small reduction in the supply of oil can cause a profound impact, and although the world has changed since then, the panic and impact associated with such disruptions will still be quite serious. For example, Dr. Henry Kissinger called this oil embargo "the most threatening event for the world's developed economies since World War II."

24. Obtain freedom from oil supply problems caused by trouble in the complex oil transportation network. The routes taken to deliver oil from producing country to consuming country are often long and complex, and because the buffers in the system are now so small, relatively small disruptions in that highly tuned system, perhaps caused by terrorist incidents, can cause serious supply disruptions for the consumers of oil.

25. Avoid damage from fuel supply interruptions caused by resource wars. Research by Professor Michael T. Klare indicates that the cause of recent wars and violent conflicts has in many cases been competition for resources, often petroleum. Without question, the struggle for control over these scarce and valuable materials will worsen in the years ahead.

26. Obtain freedom from supply shortages caused by the long time it takes to build new oil production facilities. Many oil producers have been under-investing in infrastructure in the recent years. It can take five years or more before new wells are able to produce oil. This means that even if there are vast and economically accessible reserves of oil locked under the ground or ocean, it will still be many years before this oil can be brought to market.

27. Limit fossil fuel supply interruptions occasioned by refinery upgrade problems. The further we go beyond the world peak in supply, the more undesirable the quality of the oil will be (tar sands are a good example). This is because the most desirable oil was produced first because it was more easily obtained, less expensive to process, etc. The less desirable oil produced in the years ahead requires that refineries be retooled so that they can process heavier oil, oil containing more sulfur, and the like. Delays associated with this retooling may lead to local shortages.

28. Avoid having to scramble at the same time that nearly everyone else is scrambling to transition to alternatives. By transitioning now, organizations can take advantage of commercially-available alternative energy products and services, rather than coping with delays when everyone else is attempting to transition at the same time (when an even more severe petroleum crisis occurs).

29. Off-load gas guzzlers and other petroleum-dependent equipment while there is still a market for these machines. At a certain point, the decline in the availability of petroleum will be quite rapid, especially for those consumers in oil-importing countries. Those consumers who get rid of their gas guzzlers and related equipment now will at least receive some money for these machines, while they may receive nothing after the rapid decline takes place.

30. Help to assure that their workforces are able to get to work. As gasoline and petro-diesel prices soar in the years ahead, the poorest segment of an organization's work force may be forced to quit their jobs because they can no longer afford to commute long distances from remote suburbs. So an organization that helps its workers transition to alternatives (including public transportation) will then be more likely to retain these same workers in the years ahead. Reflecting this, a recent Business Week survey indicated 26% of workers were considering quitting their jobs to get a better commute, and 65% thought that their employers should step-up and take the lead in dealing with this problem.

So if your organization isn't already seriously planning for its transition away from petroleum-based fuels, talk to your department manager about it, talk to your firm's Chief Operations Manager about it, talk to the organization's Contingency Planning Manager about it and/or start an employee brown-bag discussion about it. Within your community, write your legislators, meet with your city council representatives, mention it to your neighbors and otherwise help to shift people's consciousness so that they will soon move away from petroleum. The first step is widespread awareness that this transition must in fact take place now; the resulting actions will follow naturally from that awareness.

Charles Cresson Wood is an alternative fuels management consultant with Post-Petroleum Transportation, in Sausalito, California. His latest book is Kicking The Gasoline & Petro-Diesel Habit: A Business Manager's Blueprint For Action. For more information about the book, as well as a mechanism to contact him, go to

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Kibbutz Saves >NIS 100,000 running vehicles on LPG

August 19, '08
Kibbutz Saves More Than NIS 100,000 in Car Fuel

( Kibbutz Be'eri is saving more than NIS 100,000 in fuel for its vehicles by running them on liquified petroleum gas (LPG), instead of gasoline or diesel, according to a report published in the Hebrew-language Haaretz. Of the community's 100 vehicles, 64 are already running on LPG and another 20 will be converted shortly.

According to Avraham Dvori, former head of the Eshkol Regional Council and a member of the kibbutz, LPG technology "as been in use for decades in places such as Australia and South America." The LPG kit is attached to the engine, and can be removed, allowing the vehicle to run on its original gasoline-based engine if need be. Dvori said there are 36 LPG filling stations around the country.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Israeli company squeezes fuel from old tires
By Karin Kloosterman
July 24, 2008

As soon as the summer is over and the fall begins, people in the northern United States start winterizing their vehicles. With more than 250 million cars on the road, and winter tires needed for many, it's frightening to imagine where all those old tires go.

Most people do not realize that old tires are a health, safety and environmental hazard. Disease-carrying mosquitoes nest in them, and if they catch fire, they can burn for weeks, releasing toxic fumes into the air, and chemicals into our groundwater.

An Israeli company based in the Ukraine, has found a safe and environmentally friendly way to dispose of old tires: the pollution-free process consumes no energy and produces attractive byproducts, such as gas for your car.

Using an electromagnetic field and depriving the system of oxygen, Coral Group applies its "soft pyrolysis" method to break down old tires into basic components. Pyrolysis is a process that decomposes organic materials in the total absence of oxygen. And in Coral's method, attractive end products are created. They include kerosene (jet fuel), benzene (automobile fuel), diesel, oil and black carbon.

"This is a truly wonderful solution," says Roman Berezin, director of the Middle East Bureau in Netanya, Israel who notes that the operational plant in the Ukraine emits no pollution in the process. "There is no smokestack," he says.

"We are an energy production company that sits between recycling and creating energy," says Berezin, noting this is especially relevant today, where the cost of oil is skyrocketing. Although massive amounts of fuel are not generated in the process, Coral's solution becomes economically viable once oil hits $23 a barrel. Today, crude oil is already selling at $130 a barrel.

According to feasibility studies done by the company, a facility that recycles 10,000 tons of old tires a month can generate $8.5 million worth of byproducts after 2 years.

The company is looking to open tire recycling factories around the world, and owns most of the intellectual property associated with the process and the equipment used. A typical processing plant would include a cutting station to chop up the tires, a pyrolysis chamber, and stations that separate the resulting gases, oils and solids. The fully automated system is computer-controlled.

Coral Group is Israeli-owned with R&D and an operating plant in the Ukraine. The company was founded in 2003 and holds about 32 innovative projects in various stages of development, with a number ready for commercialization. Other projects include a high-efficiency drinking water purifier, the Electus and an improved airfoil boat. The company employs 250 people.

The company is now looking to start building a plant in Israel that can recycle 9,000 tons worth of used tires every month. It hopes to continue expansion -- maybe not in time for winter, but hopefully in the US too.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Israeli Army Proves Link between Gas Guzzling and Bad Driving

3 July '08
Israeli Sufa 2 Jeeps

( For the last 18 months, the IDF has conducted the largest ever experiment on the correlation between driving habits and gas consumption.

Electronic monitors were installed in over 500 vehicles used by the IDF Ground Forces Command and the Air Force, which monitored the vehicles for driving aberrations. Aberrations triggered an alarm, which then sent a message to the commander of the unit to which the vehicle belonged. Although some soldiers tried to tamper with the monitors, most chose instead to drive more carefully, according to the IDF.

Results indicate that this was not only safer, it also saved an average of 14% in fuel consumption, leading to enormous savings for the IDF. The 500 cars use about 2 million liters of fuel annually; a 14% decrease means a saving of 280,000 liters. This is increasingly important in view of rising fuel prices. The IDF plans to install the monitors in a few thousand more vehicles shortly.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Private Homes in Israel to sell Solar Power at huge profit to the grid

June 5, '08Electricity demand going up
by Hillel Fendel

( Electricity Revolution: Beginning July 1, every Israeli will be able not only to manufacture his own electricity, but to sell what he doesn't need to the Electric Company.

The Israel Electric Company (IEC) is hoping to encourage consumers to install solar panels, and is willing to pay them NIS 2.01 per kilowatt of "clean" electricity. This is approximately four times the amount that consumers pay the company for their electricity.

Installing the solar panels is expensive, however, and begins at 60,000 shekels. Adequate roof space is also required. Experts say that those who are willing to make the investment will be able to make back their money in ten years.

Dan Lavi of Yisrael HaYom reports that unlike Germany and Spain, Israel's government does not yet subsidize consumer solar panels.

Preparing for the Summer Heat Waves
Meanwhile, the IEC is preparing for record demand this summer. Together with the Infrastructures Ministry, the company held a country-wide drill last week to prepare for such eventualities and to practice the regulation of kilowatt shortages. When demands exceeds available supply, the general practice is to cut back electricity in random neighborhoods until the situation stabilizes.

The exercise left officials confident that the IEC is prepared to deal with the summer demands. Attention is now being turned to educating consumers regarding the need to cut back, and informing them that they might find themselves blacked-out for short periods.

Supply Exceeds Demand - But Just Barely
Globes reports that the IEC is currently able to produce 11,400 megawatts, with available capacity at 10,877. Demand is expected to reach 10,300 megawatts - 100 more than the record set during the cold wave this past January - leaving a reserve of only 5%.

See - SolarPower Israel Ltd.
Residential and commercial systems Grid connected and off-grid

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Energy Non-Crisis

Lindsey Williams talks about his first hand knowledge of Alaskan oil reserves larger than any on earth. And he talks about how the oil companies and U.S. government won't send it through the pipeline for U.S. citizens to use.

Free 'The New American' magazine download-the NAU issue:, --Terrorists' Activities: prior knowledge furnished to the FBI six months in advance of 9-11--free download:

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

GreenFuel Feeds Algae CO2 to grow faster - produce more Biofuel


Video: GreenFuel Uses Algae For Biofuel?

Posted: 19 May 2008 03:30 PM CDT

Dr. Isaac Berzin, an Israeli scientist in love with "all things algae" has discovered a unique way to extract fuel from the tiny creatures in order to help ease our world's dependence upon fossil fuels.

(Video Credit: Newfangler Productions, via GreenFuel Technologies) Video:

( When Berzin looks at algae, he sees a new world and a revolution. Dr. Berzin, 40, is wearing a blue suit, and his hair is held in place with glistening gel. Eight months ago he returned to Israel from the United States after generating a research breakthrough that changed his life. Berzin, the founder of GreenFuel Technologies - a U.S. company that produces green fuel from algae - discovered that "green slime" contains one of the keys to the alternative fuel the world is seeking. His company is the first ever to develop and produce biofuels from algae that are bred on gases emitted by power plants. [...]

"I feel a bit like Thomas Edison, who invented the light bulb," he says. "He tried thousands of materials until he arrived at the filament. My intuition, too, told me that it was possible to do something that people were only dreaming of - to build a device from algae to produce energy at market-compatible costs.

Even though other Israeli scientists are using seaweed as a means of alternative fuel, using algae may prove to be a lot more economical (not to mention easier to grow as well).

Note: More info regarding GreenFuel Technologies can be found over here.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Hamastanis should be taught to make biodiesel from cooking oil

May 20, '08
Gaza:‘Green’ Groups Oppose Use of Cooking Oil in Cars

( Environmentalist groups in Gaza have begun a campaign against the use of cooking oil in cars. Dozens protested on Sunday near the offices of the Al-Damir rights group, calling on residents of Gaza to avoid using cooking oil in vehicles. The oil creates toxic fumes that are extremely harmful to human health, protestors said.

Many residents of Gaza have converted their engines to allow their cars to run on cooking oil due to a shortage of gasoline in the area. The supply of gasoline to Gaza is often cut off due to terrorist attacks on Israeli crossings, but cooking oil, which is considered a humanitarian need, continues to enter the area despite terror attacks.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Startup shows off electric car planned for Israel

A prototype of an electric car is displayed in Tel Aviv, Israel, Sunday, May 11, 2008. A Silicon Valley start-up company presented Sunday a prototype of the electric car it says will revolutionize transportation in Israel beginning in two years' time. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
A prototype of an electric car is displayed in Tel Aviv, Israel, Sunday, May 11, 2008. A Silicon Valley start-up company presented Sunday a prototype of the electric car it says will revolutionize transportation in Israel beginning in two years' time. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit) (Ariel Schalit - AP)
A charging plug of a prototype of an electric car is seen during a display of the car in Tel Aviv, Israel, Sunday, May 11, 2008. A Silicon Valley start-up company presented Sunday a prototype of the electric car it says will revolutionize transportation in Israel beginning in two years' time. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit) (Ariel Schalit - AP)
Shai Agassi, an Israeli-American entrepreneur displays a prototype of his electric car in Tel Aviv, Israel, Sunday, May 11, 2008. A Silicon Valley start-up company presented Sunday a prototype of the electric car it says will revolutionize transportation in Israel beginning in two years' time. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Shai Agassi, an Israeli-American entrepreneur displays a prototype of his electric car in Tel Aviv, Israel, Sunday, May 11, 2008. A Silicon Valley start-up company presented Sunday a prototype of the electric car it says will revolutionize transportation in Israel beginning in two years' time. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit) (Ariel Schalit - AP)
Shai Agassi, an Israeli-American entrepreneur displays a prototype of his electric car in Tel Aviv, Israel, Sunday, May 11, 2008. A Silicon Valley start-up company presented Sunday a prototype of the electric car it says will revolutionize transportation in Israel beginning in two years' time. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Shai Agassi, an Israeli-American entrepreneur displays a prototype of his electric car in Tel Aviv, Israel, Sunday, May 11, 2008. A Silicon Valley start-up company presented Sunday a prototype of the electric car it says will revolutionize transportation in Israel beginning in two years' time. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit) (Ariel Schalit - AP)
The Associated Press
Sunday, May 11, 2008; 2:42 PM

TEL AVIV, Israel -- Israelis got a first demonstration Sunday of the electric car that developers hope will revolutionize transportation in the country and serve as a pilot for the rest of the world.

The silver car doing circles in a Tel Aviv parking lot looked like a regular sedan _ except it had no exhaust pipe and there was an electric socket where the mouth of the gas tank should have been.

The Silicon Valley startup Project Better Place hopes the fully electric prototype will be on Israel's streets in large numbers beginning at the end of 2010.

Backers of the project say the car will drastically reduce dependence on oil, cut emissions and put Israel at the forefront of international efforts to develop more environmentally friendly modes of transportation. Israel's government endorsed the project in January, and a Danish energy company also has joined as a partner.

But experts say technical pitfalls, such as a limited battery range, remain before the car will be marketable, and other car manufacturers are gambling on gas-electric hybrids as the green cars of the immediate future.

If the company's plan proceeds on schedule, Israel will be the first country to have electric cars on its highways in large numbers.

On the dashboard of the Renault sedan presented Sunday, the gas gauge was replaced by a screen showing how much battery power remained. In a test drive, the car accelerated quickly _ the company says it can go from zero to 60 mph in eight seconds _ and the engine remained nearly inaudible even at high speed.

The project is a joint venture between automotive giant Renault-Nissan, which is building the car, and Palo Alto, Calif.-based Project Better Place, which came up with the business model and is supposed to operate a recharging grid to be built across Israel beginning in 2009.

Several hundred cars are scheduled to hit Israel's streets in a pilot run next year, the company says, with larger numbers to arrive in late 2010.

The initiative is being led by Shai Agassi, an Israeli-American entrepreneur and high-tech wunderkind who raised $200 million to get the project off the ground. He also got Israel's government to endorse it earlier this year and promise tax incentives to promote the new vehicles when they go on the market.

At the time, experts said there are still plenty of technical pitfalls that need to be surmounted before the car becomes available to the general public.

Critics have pointed at the car battery's limited range _ 125 miles _ as a potentially major deterrent to consumers.

For long drives, motorists will be able to replace the battery at about 150 swap stations expected to be built around the country. The battery swap is expected to take the same amount of time as filling a tank of gas. For shorter journeys, drivers will be able to recharge the batteries at home or at the office.

Drivers will pay a monthly subscription for the batteries, with different plans like those of cell phone users. The company says the rates will come to less than the average monthly expenditure on gasoline.

Following Israel's lead, the Danish energy company DONG Energy AS adopted the Better Place model in March with a plan to have thousands of cars running on electricity generated by wind turbines by 2011.

If plans remain on schedule, Israeli consumers will be able to purchase an electric car by the end of 2010 for around the price of a regular sedan.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Eilat To Become The First Solar City In Israel

April 22, '08Eilat in early evening

( The Infrastructure Ministry has announced a mammoth project that will supply Eilat with almost of its needed electricity by using a solar power station. Approximately 3,000 acres will be set aside for the project. Ministry officials said that there are very few cloudy days in Eilat that would require using electricity from the Israel Electric Corp. (IEC).

The ministry also said that the Negev and Arava will be given first preference in other projects to promote solar energy. The generating capacity of IEC often is pressed to its limits, causing brownouts and blackouts in peak periods of demand during the hot summer months and during cold spells in the winter.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Israeli's buoys: attached hydraulic arms, contract, turning an alternator, creating electricity

Making Waves
vs. pollution from coal smoke stacks

It doesn't look like much, this thing lying dormant in the grassy driveway of Shmuel Ovadia's exceedingly modest offices in south Tel Aviv. Still, Ovadia insists, this bunch of plywood and rusting engines, bolted together in an old shipping crate, could save the planet.

The box of parts, and the large metal arm lying on top of it, is meant to be stationed a few kilometers away, just off the coast. There, in the surf that endlessly laps at the shore, a set of Ovadia's buoys would exploit one of the world's most reliable - and most potent - sources of energy.

The idea is fairly simple: Every wave on the ocean represents a significant amount of force; if even some of that tremendous energy could be harnessed, it could be turned into electricity.

"They say that just 1 percent of the energy in the oceans could power the entire world," Ovadia says, with a raise of the eyebrows and a nod of the head, as if to stave off any "no way" reaction. It is, he assures, a viable goal.

The tricky part of realizing such potential is finding a way to capture as much of that energy as possible and turn it into electricity in a safe and cost-efficient manner. Until now, the dozens of contraptions that have been tried - although tantalizing and inspiring - have proven unable to meet that challenge.

Part of the problem lies in the sheer brute force of the sea. One apparatus, a 750-metric-ton device, was torn to shreds off the coast of Scotland as it was being put in place. And that was in relatively shallow water. Attempts to harvest the even more powerful currents farther out to sea and deeper down require complicated feats of engineering that make such efforts impractical in the near future.

The beauty of Ovadia's system, he says, lies in its simplicity. Rather than try to channel the ocean's power, Ovadia wants to go along for the ride. His buoys lie atop the water, at or just off the beach. As waves raise the buoys, attached hydraulic arms, contract - turning an alternator, creating electricity. The entire process is fully automatic, and requires not a drop of fuel.

"I don't need smoke-belching towers, I don't need turbines, I don't need anything polluting," Ovadia says. What's more, he adds, his company's zero-emissions, quiet power plants could produce commercial amounts of electricity while taking up just a 10th of the space required by coal-burning or natural gas-burning power plants. The lower infrastructure costs, combined with lower per-kilowatt production costs, mean that the original investment in an ocean wave power plant manufactured by his firm SDE would be repaid in five years - a fourth of the time that most conventional power plants need to "earn their keep."

WITH ALL these advantages, you'd think potential clients would be busting down Ovadia's door. According to him, they are - and they are hailing from some unusual places. In addition to some general interest from companies and governments in Chile, Argentina, Spain, Cyprus, Monaco and other countries, SDE is in very serious negotiations with the government of Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim state.

"We are very interested in this technology," Dr. Faizul Ishom of the State Ministry for Development of Disadvantaged Areas told The Jerusalem Post. "We are an island country with a lot of beaches, so it could be very good for us, and for our environment too. We want to apply this. I have already talked with power companies about it."

Ishom and other Indonesian officials have visited SDE's offices here, and they hope to return soon to finalize a deal. Initially, Ishom said, his country is looking to buy an ocean wave power plant capable of producing 100 MW, at a cost of $650 million. If that plant is successful, Indonesia would be interested in another one on the scale of 500 MW.

Pakistan - the world's only nuclear-armed Muslim state and, like Indonesia, a nation that has no formal diplomatic ties with Israel - is also eager to have Ovadia's company build a power plant for its citizens, an official confirmed to the Post. Count India and Sri Lanka among the countries in talks with SDE, as well.

Ovadia is focusing on Africa as a potential market, too. The general manager of the Zanzibar Electricity Corporation confirmed talks over a power plant between 10 MW and 100 MW in capacity. Tanzania, whose severely unstable electricity supply has crippled its already fragile economy, is eager to see a 500 MW plant constructed as soon as possible. Gambia, in a similar situation, paid for Ovadia to make a presentation in the capital.

"One of our country's biggest challenges is that we have no reliable source of energy," Ebrima Camara, of the Office of the President, told the Post. "If we had, we could increase our potential to attract investors for industry and manufacturing. We really want to be able to give our people the ability to be self-reliant and productive, so if we can get a technology like this, which would make electricity cheaply and reliably, it would mean a lot for Gambia."

Following what Camara described as "a very fruitful meeting," Gambia and SDE are negotiating over a 70 MW power plant in a deal that would be worth millions of dollars.

FOR ALL this attention from the rest of the world, though, Ovadia lacks recognition here at home.

"I used to get research grants from the Industry and Trade Ministry," Ovadia says, noting that his funding was cut in 2000, following a severe leg injury that kept him out of work for two years and prevented him from meeting deadlines that would have qualified him for further support. "Now," he says bitterly, "I'm just a pest to the government."

What Ovadia wants, he says, is not money, but recognition.

"Israel has maybe 10,000 meters of breakwaters along its shores. Those breakwaters could produce 10% of the country's electricity needs. If we could put our buoys on the breakwaters, they would not only produce electricity, but also act as a kind of shock absorber and lengthen the life of the breakwaters," he says, getting excited.

"I can build a plant here, for example, that will produce 100 MW of electricity. This is not meant to answer all the country's needs, but it can definitely provide a good chunk. And with oil selling for more than $100 per barrel, it's definitely worth considering."

That there is very little consideration of the potential in SDE's system vexes Ovadia. The Israel Electric Corporation "pretends to be interested in my technology," he says, "but in reality it sees us as a threat."

IEC did not respond to that claim, but acknowledged it had no interest in SDE or ocean wave energy. A spokesman for the Office of the Chief Scientist of the Industry and Trade Ministry said the body was continuing to invest in local research and development of alternative energy options, but had no particular interest in Ovadia's ideas at this time.

Ovadia claims he is doomed by bureaucrats swayed by lobbyists for conventional energy firms offering kickbacks, payoffs and the promise of cushy "adviser" jobs in the power industry upon leaving office.

"It's no wonder that, when you ask officials about my ideas, they come up with excuses like, 'This isn't the time for this sort of thing,' or 'It isn't convincing enough,' or 'The technology isn't ready yet.' They prefer to protect the interests of those who sell coal or who operate coal-powered plants," Ovadia says. "Why? Those are deals worth billions. You think someone would risk losing that by supporting my little buoys?"

Ovadia doesn't name names. Is he paranoid? Making excuses for his failure to inspire his countrymen? Either is possible, or both. Or, it may just be that he is exhausted from the efforts of trying to infect bureaucrats with the exuberance of a dreamer.

AT 56, with his hair dyed black and agitation exaggerating the lines that middle age and frustration have carved into his face, it is clear that it hasn't been easy for Ovadia, being told over and over again for decades that his idea wouldn't work.

It was as a soldier on leave, waiting outside the old Yaron Cinema in South Tel Aviv, that he first considered the potential of ocean waves. Sitting on the railing as waves rolled toward his feet, Ovadia was mesmerized. There must be a way, he figured, to turn that hypnotic motion into something useful.

It took Ovadia, who pulls out forms detailing his 17 different patents, more than a decade to develop his foggy notion into concrete reality. After completing his service in the Engineering Corps, he worked in a plant manufacturing motors, learning about pneumatics, hydraulics and electricity. Eventually he struck upon the idea of a way to put the waves' own energy to use.

The theory behind wave energy exploitation goes back ages; bringing theory to practice often takes ages. As he brought SDE to life, Ovadia built and tested eight different models of his system, starting with one so small that it fit in his bathtub. He made each of the models larger, until they required a shipping container full of water, and eventually tested his current system in the Jaffa Port.

Along the way there have been numerous disappointments, including what he calls obstruction from the Israeli establishment and what he vaguely refers to as "some troubles with unscrupulous partners."

Then there are the nagging questions - about whether the relatively gentle waves licking at the country's Mediterranean coast are strong enough to make this technology worthwhile; about the ability of SDE's buoys to survive and operate in the brutal environment of seawater, and about the environmental damage that could result from installing a power plant of this type on the shore.

Ovadia has heard these complaints, it seems, a thousand times before. Yet he patiently addresses each issue.

No matter where an ocean wave power plant is, Ovadia explains, it would produce different levels of energy during different times of the year, as waves are higher during certain periods and lower during others. Likewise, waves are higher and more powerful in some parts of the world (coastal areas on the North Sea, for example) than others (such as the calmer beaches of the eastern Mediterranean, to our disadvantage).

True, he notes, the potential benefit in relation to other methods of producing electricity would not be as great here as in Britain or Spain, but it would still be significant. And his power plants would be economical to run even in areas where weaker waves predominate.

"But I'll tell you something," he says. "Even in the Kinneret, I can make energy."

An SDE power plant, Ovadia continues, "can produce electricity at a fraction of the cost of coal, a fraction of the cost of solar and a fraction the cost of wind. Run one six months to eight months per year, and you still come out ahead."

Further, he says, "When are waves the highest? In the summer and in the winter. And when is the demand for electricity highest? In the summer and in the winter. It's a perfect match."

What about reliability? Compared to the other wave energy systems being developed around the world, Ovadia's invention seems downright flimsy.

What his design has going for it, he says, is that the buoys actually see less exposure to seawater than the other systems. There is a built-in self-correcting mechanism whereby, should a large wave overwhelm the buoy, it would flip over and then "wait" for lower tide to flip back. Unlike other systems deployed far out to sea, the moving parts in his power plants are easily replaceable. Also, the plants can be maintained easily, and they can be run automatically. One person, he says, could run five plants at a time, if necessary.

Lastly, what of the environmental impact?

"Strictly speaking, the beach would be damaged slightly if we installed these," Ovadia says. "But on the other hand, people die from the pollution caused by power plants burning fossil fuels. Which would you prefer?"

Besides, with such little interest here, he notes wryly, "It isn't as if we're going to take over Frishman Beach tomorrow."

FORTUNATELY, OVADIA says, beaches needn't be marred. In his preferred scenario, a breakwater would be built first, and the buoys attached to it. A place like the Ashdod Port, where a 3,350 meter-long main breakwater and a sea wall 800 meters long already exist, would be an ideal location for SDE to prove its technology.

Just in the past few weeks - after years of fruitless lobbying all over the country - Ovadia has won over the Ashdod Municipality to the merits of such a plan.

"The mayor and the city engineer have looked over this idea thoroughly, and it seems quite worthwhile to us," said David Hartum, deputy director-general of the Ashdod Municipality. "We are suggesting building on the breakwater in the port. We like the fact that it's ecological, as ocean waves do the job instead of oil, and that it involves a one-time cost to produce electricity. We are definitely interested."

The only thing standing in the way of the country's first ocean wave power plant, then, is the Israel Ports Authority, whose approval for the project is required. A spokeswoman for Shlomo Breiman, director-general of the Israel Ports Authority, said he was looking into the idea, but would have to review thorough studies on the potential environmental impact on the port basin - and any potential impact on the port's operations, especially - before giving the project a green light.

Should SDE win a contract to build a power plant in Ashdod, it would certainly mean vindication for Ovadia - proof that, where other concepts have failed, his, like his buoys, has stayed afloat. But for the most part he is looking to other markets, focusing on underdeveloped and energy-poor countries in Africa and Asia. It is there that he expects to see his first power plant built - he estimates - within two or three years.

"When I was in Gambia," he recalls, "we went to visit a little village. At one point our meeting was interrupted by afternoon prayers... There I was, this Israeli Jew, surrounded by Muslims praying intensely.

"These people," Ovadia says, leaning forward as if to reveal a secret, "are in desperate need of energy in order to improve their lives. Well," he says, leaning back in his chair again, "I will be their messiah. I will save them."

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Moving Clocks Forward - Pros and Cons - Religious Dispute in Israel

Energy Study: Moving Clocks Forward a Waste
March 27, '08

( Israel moves it clocks forward at 2 a.m. Friday morning, but Daylight Savings Time ("summer time") wastes more energy than it saves, according to research in the state of Indiana. As recently as two years ago most of Indiana's counties refused to move their clocks forward in the spring. The resulting division of the population enabled researchers to compare energy use by those on summer time with those who did not change their clocks.

Residential electricity usage actually increased between 1-4 percent, and social costs from increased emissions were estimated at between $1.6 million and $5.3 million per year, according the research by University of California economics professor Matthew Kotchen. The reduced cost of lighting in afternoons during daylight saving time was more than offset by the higher air conditioning costs on hot afternoons and increased heating costs on cool mornings.

The Pros and Cons of Daylight Savings Time in Israel

March 27, '08
by Hillel Fendel

( The Manufacturers Association says the upcoming changeover to Daylight Saving Time (DST) will save the economy 120 million shekels ($35 million). Others say that most of these savings will be canceled out in other ways, and that the twice-yearly change of clocks is a waste of effort.

The clocks will change this Friday morning, March 29, when 2:00 becomes 3:00. The change will be in effect for 191 days, as stipulated by law in an interesting combination of the secular and Jewish calendars: from the Friday before April 2 until the Sunday before Yom Kippur.

Moshe Cohen, Chairman of the Energy Committee of the Manufacturers Association, claims that the extra hour of overlapping waking and sunlight time will result in a drop of electricity consumption by a daily average of 0.6%. This drop, which translates into 73 million shekels, is due to decreased use of lighting and air conditioning.

In addition, Cohen says, nationwide production and sales will increase, and traffic accidents will decrease.

Others Say...
This is only one side of the story, however. As in most of the world, the introduction of Daylight Saving Time in Israel has not been without controversy. Detractors say that though the increased daylight may render driving safer, it also increases the amount of driving, thus largely canceling out the gain in safety. Business interests have traditionally supported DST, as it increases shopping - and trips to the store.

In addition, the amount of energy saving in the United States has been estimated at only $3 per household, leaving many to wonder if it is worth the bother.

In Israel, however, the largest point of contention has concerned religious observance. Daylight saving time during the late summer and autumn means that the Tisha B'Av and Yom Kippur fasts end later, and that the midnight penitential prayers (Selichot) recited before the High Holidays begin earlier. More significantly, extra months of daylight saving time mean that often, worshipers cannot recite post-dawn morning prayers in a timely fashion before they have to go to work.

Up to the Interior Minister
The issue came to a head in the late 1990s, when the hareidi-religious Shas party ran the Interior Ministry; one year, then-Minister Eli Suissa made a unilateral decision to end DST a month early for the above reasons, bringing public secular wrath upon him. Then-MK Yossi Sarid, head of the anti-religious Meretz party at the time, said, ''Minister Suissa thinks he is G-d. G-d says: 'Let there be light,' and there is light... It's not enough that [Suissa] represents G-d, he is G-d himself. He says: 'Let there be darkness' in the middle of the summer, and he wants us to live in darkness.''

In 2004, when the anti-religious Shinui party controlled the Interior Ministry, Minister Avraham Poraz got back at the religious public. Just before his firing by then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon [together with the other Shinui ministers, for voting against the budget] took effect, Poraz ordered the instatement of DST from March until the end of October, without regard for Jewish holidays.

The issue was finally resolved legally in 2005, when a law was passed determining the exact duration of DST, and removing the decision from the hands of the Interior Minister.

Israel Expands Daylight Time, and a Religious Dispute Erupts

Published: February 17, 2000

Daring single-handedly to alter a calendar that is as politically sensitive as everything else here, Interior Minister Natan Sharansky decreed today that ''summer time'' will be longer this year by 34 days.

In a country where even the issue of daylight saving time is contentious, that was a provocative decision, playing into a long-running battle between secular Israelis and some religious Jews.

Daylight time, what Israelis refer to as summer time, will start earlier in the spring and extend almost a month further into the fall, Mr. Sharansky said. That rescinds a tradition of accommodating the prayer schedules of some religious Jews that lead up to the High Holy Days in September, a tradition that secular Israelis have long resented as subordinating the routines of the majority to the special rituals of a minority.

But religious politicians did not immediately react. They were too busy confronting Mr. Sharansky, a Russian immigrant leader, on another decision. Earlier this week, Mr. Sharansky said his ministry would begin recognizing and registering civil marriages performed at foreign consulates in Israel.

Such marriages, which only some consulates perform, make it possible for immigrants here who are not recognized as Jewish to marry Israelis. Under Israeli law, only religious weddings are permitted, and what the rabbis see as intermarriages are forbidden.

Mr. Sharansky took over the Interior Ministry from Shas, an ultra-Orthodox Sephardic party, after years of friction between the Russian immigrants whom he represents and the Shas bureaucrats who had the power to grant and deny them citizenship and marriage licenses.

Wresting the ministry from Shas was part of Prime Minister Ehud Barak's election platform, and taking control of it was Mr. Sharansky's main plank. Although Mr. Sharansky's dealings with Shas have been strained, his relations with other religious political groups have been based on mutual respect. Mr. Sharansky is an observant Jew, and many of the religious politicians believed that he respected them. But his recommendation on consular marriages took them by surprise.

Orthodox politicians accused Mr. Sharansky of trying to upset the status quo relationship between religion and state.

''I ask you to declare here, in this dignified forum, that you have reconsidered this issue and that you are canceling this guideline,'' Moshe Gafney, a member of Parliament from the United Torah Judaism faction, asked Mr. Sharansky in a meeting today.

''Aren't you willing to invest any effort in finding some sort of solution for people who presently have no solution?'' Mr. Sharansky responded, referring to Russian immigrants who are prohibited from marrying other Israelis because they are not Jewish. Defending his decision on changing the daylight-time calendar, Mr. Sharansky said that the ''preservation of life was the guiding principle'' that pushed him to make the change, even if it upset religious Jews.

Last year, daylight time ended on Sept. 3, and Israel moved into ''winter time.'' That meant that in the dog days of early September, the Sun rose before the workday started and set during the afternoon rush hour.

A study by the Technion Institute proved to him, Mr. Sharansky said, that an additional hour of late-afternoon light would lower traffic accidents 9 percent and fatal ones 13 percent.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Five Trends: electric car, sustainable cities, non-U.S. firms, geothermal and greening shipping

Photo Credit: Th'nk
March 13, 2008

Five Trends to Watch in the Renewable Energy Industry

New Hampshire, United States []

Growth in the renewable energy industry is set to reach more than US $250 billion by the year 2017 with the electric car, sustainable cities, non-U.S.-based energy firms, geothermal energy and the greening of the shipping industry helping to lead the way. That's the prediction made by Clean Edge in its Clean Energy Trends 2008 report released on Wednesday.

The report's co-authors Joel Makower, Ron Pernick and Clint Wilder spotlighted the biofuels, wind power, solar photovoltaic (PV) and fuel cell markets as the benchmark segments for the renewable energy industry as a whole. Worldwide in 2007 the biofuels market reached US $25.4 billion, 40 percent of which came from the U.S., the wind market rose to US $30.1 billion. The market for solar PV grew to US $20.3 billion and the emerging fuel cell market, still dominated by R&D, totaled US $1.5 billion in revenue in 2007. Watch for more on the report from Ron Pernick on in two weeks.

The report put the spotlight on five trends to watch as renewable energy industry surges ahead. The first was the new structure taking shape in the electric vehicle market where startups are taking center stage. In a presentation about the trends, Joel Makeower said that there are currently 200 U.S. companies working, in some way, shape or form, on bringing the electric car to market.

According to the report, "the new generation of green vehicles may not be driven by Detroit or its Euro or Asian counterparts. A growing line of start-ups is rendering moot the question of 'Who killed the electric car?' While the global car companies go through years-long retooling to create plug-in hybrids, electric cars, and other alt-fuel vehicles, these start-ups are beating the big guys to market, delivering greener cars to a waiting public."

These startups include Scandanavian company Think, Tesla, Project Better Place/Renault-Nissan in Israel, Eliica from Japan, Miles and ZAP in the U.S., REVA in India, ZENN in Canda, Spark in China and Venturi in France.

The second trend to watch according to Clean Edge is the movement toward sustainable cities, including the new Masdar City in Abu Dhabi a city that plans, by 2016, to serve a population 50,000 individuals and 1,500 businesses all powered by solar energy. Another emerging eco-city is Dongtan, on Chongming Island near Shanghai, which plans to serve 20,000 people by 2010 and be powered completely by renewables, mostly wind and biomass. The report also points to major efforts being made around the world to "green" established cities.

Third in the series of trends is the growing presence of overseas companies in the U.S. wind energy market, a trend that will continue to grow according to the Clean Edge report as the dollar remains relatively weak and the demand for wind in the U.S. continues to grow.

Geothermal energy's return to the main stage is the fourth trend to watch. According to the report, "geothermal is the only clean-energy resource besides hydroelectric that provides baseload power 24 hours a day, and with average plant uptime of 98 percent, it does so even more reliably than nuclear or coal-fired power plants, both of which require more downtime for maintenance."

The co-authors noted that three of California's largest investor-owned utilities, PG&E, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric, within the past year have announced new geothermal plans. This comes as no surprise as average geothermal electric costs are between 4-7 cents per kilowatt-hour.

And finally, the fifth trend is a building movement to make shipping by sea more environmentally friendly. Driven more by the major shippers worldwide (the presenters mentioned IKEA, Home Depot, and Toyota), than the shipping companies themselves, the idea is to lessen the negative impact that cargo ships currently put on the environment. In the report, the co-authors point out that cargo ships account for more than 4 percent of the global carbon dioxide emissions, double the emissions of aviation, according to a study commissioned by the UN's International Maritime Organization.

Companies that are developing technologies to propel ships without greenhouse gas emissions are gaining ground. Kite for Sail, KiteShip and Sky Sails, all of whom are working on designing kites that, when combined with better navigation tools and software will allow large ships to use the wind for propulsion.

Sky Sails kite technology is one of Clean Edge's
five renewable energy trends to watch

The report said that "given that shipping emissions, left unchecked, are forecast to grow 30 percent from current levels by 2020, such technologies could be a breath of fresh air."