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."

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Hybrids economical, but will impact power supply in cities

ZAP Claim 120 mpg For Their Hybrid Car

13th March 2008

Electric car pioneer ZAP is now offering plug-in hybrid conversion systems for the Toyota Prius and Ford Escape Hybrid through a collaboration agreement with Hybrids Plus.

Hybrid vehicles retrofitted with systems from Hybrids Plus of Boulder, Colorado can achieve a significantly greater fuel economy. In tests these systems increased hybrid fuel economy up to 120 miles per gallon in the city and up to 90 mpg on the highway. The cost for the conversion ranges from $24,000 to $36,000 depending on the vehicle and size of battery pack.

All gasoline electric hybrids currently produced by major automakers today are essentially gasoline-powered vehicles. They reduce emissions and improve fuel efficiency compared to conventional cars, however they are fueled exclusively by gasoline. The plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) will allow the owner to charge their vehicle from a normal household wall outlet. By integrating a larger battery pack and a plug-in charging system, it becomes a new vehicle drawing energy from two fuel sources.

Hybrids Plus has sold PHEV systems to private individuals, fleets, power companies, and governmental entities. Deliveries can be provided in approximately four weeks from the initial order.

"This is a natural extension of our growth plans," said Hybrids Plus CEO Carl Lawrence. "ZAP has sold more city speed electric vehicles than any other company and has an established, growing dealer network that can provide sales and service for our vehicles."

"This collaboration allows more hybrid owners to have the most efficient vehicles on the road today," said ZAP CEO Steve Schneider. "ZAP dealers are preparing to offer a new level of service in the coming years involving mass-market hybrid and electric cars from Detroit Electric, so experience with plug-in hybrids can accelerate this process."

Meanwhile a recent Oak Ridge National Laboratory study, featured in the current issue of the ORNL Review examined how an expected increase in ownership of hybrid electric cars and trucks will affect the power grid depending on what time of day or night the vehicles are charged.

Some assessments of the impact of electric vehicles assume owners will charge them only at night, said Stan Hadley of ORNL's Cooling, Heating and Power Technologies Program.

"That assumption doesn't necessarily take into account human nature," said Hadley, who led the study. "Consumers' inclination will be to plug in when convenient, rather than when utilities would prefer. Utilities will need to create incentives to encourage people to wait. There are also technologies such as 'smart' chargers that know the price of power, the demands on the system and the time when the car will be needed next to optimize charging for both the owner and the utility that can help too."

In an analysis of the potential impacts of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles projected for 2020 and 2030 in 13 regions of the United States, ORNL researchers explored their potential effect on electricity demand, supply, infrastructure, prices and associated emission levels. Electricity requirements for hybrids used a projection of 25 percent market penetration of hybrid vehicles by 2020 including a mixture of sedans and sport utility vehicles. Several scenarios were run for each region for the years 2020 and 2030 and the times of 5 p.m. or 10:00 p.m., in addition to other variables.

The report found that the need for added generation would be most critical by 2030, when hybrids have been on the market for some time and become a larger percentage of the automobiles Americans drive. In the worst-case scenario—if all hybrid owners charged their vehicles at 5 p.m., at six kilowatts of power—up to 160 large power plants would be needed nationwide to supply the extra electricity, and the demand would reduce the reserve power margins for a particular region's system.

The best-case scenario occurs when vehicles are plugged in after 10 p.m., when the electric load on the system is at a minimum and the wholesale price for energy is least expensive. Depending on the power demand per household, charging vehicles after 10 p.m. would require, at lower demand levels, no additional power generation or, in higher-demand projections, just eight additional power plants nationwide.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Hydropower is quietly producing 20% of the world’s electricity with zero emissions

One Dam Thing After Another For The Hydropower Industry 6th March 2008

According to Bourne Energy, while the major renewables, solar and wind power, are growing at double digits they still make up less than 1% of the country’s total energy output. The world must find clean sources of power that can be developed on a fast track. Bourne Energy has developed just such a renewable energy system which is described on their new website:

After extensive research, Bourne Energy has targeted hydropower as the most likely clean energy source to develop on a global scale. Hydropower is as cheap as coal, which is a major source of global warming emissions. Today, while coal is producing 40% of the world’s electricity; hydropower is quietly producing 20% of the world’s electricity with zero emissions. And many energy analysts now believe coal resources are far less than originally projected while only 4% of the world’s estimated potential hydropower resources have been harnessed.

Through the centuries hydropower has been dominated by the dam and reservoir configuration. But these large dam and reservoir projects, many built fifty or more years ago, are land intensive, environmentally unfriendly and are no longer cost-competitive to replicate today. Bourne’s solution is its RiverStar (Patent Pending) Kinetic Energy System, a “Power Company in a Box.” Place the self-contained energy module in river currents and it produces electricity from the harnessing of moving water in the river rather than the potential energy of water stored behind large dams. This technology has come about from the development of new materials, micro-power generation systems, hydrodynamic breakthroughs, improved structures and new power transmission, communication and control technologies.

Bourne’s RiverStar System is designed to tap the energy in thousands of miles of rivers that stretch across the globe. Over a million cubic meters per second discharge of water flow down the world’s major rivers every hour, every day, every year. Many stretches of these rivers are virtually unpopulated and undeveloped. The energy locked up in this enormous volume of moving fluid can be harnessed again and again.

Bourne’s novel approach does not require construction on the river bottom, which is both expensive and time-consuming. Construction, especially in industrialized countries, may also expose toxic materials, long hidden in the river sediments. Bourne’s proprietary low RPM turbines are specially designed to be safe for aquaculture. And the RiverStar power modules can access and tap the difficult areas where much of the world’s unharnessed hydropower is located. These kinetic energy modules are designed to be mass-produced in order to rapidly scale up this technology worldwide.

Bourne has also adapted its Kinetic Energy Systems to harness the world’s potential ocean power and tidal power resources in the form of its OceanStar (Patent Pending) and TidalStar (Patent Pending) systems. Bourne plans to have small demonstration power arrays operating in Asia, US and Europe within the next 12 months.