The Land Art Generator Initiative is hosting an international design competition to design outdoor public art installations that generate renewable energy–in Dubai. While the United Arab Emirates has made most of its wealth by exploiting oil reserves, Dubai has become an international hub for innovative architecture and infrastructure projects due to its dizzyingly rapid pace of development. Two American artists who live in the city have organized the competition, working with the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council and the Dubai Electricity & Water Authority, to explore opportunities for aesthetic intervention as renewable energy production facilities become more intertwined with real estate development. Proposed projects must produce no negative environmental impacts and must be accompanied by an environmental impact assessment. There are no limits on the type of energy generation employed, so long as it is tested.
Examples of potential proposals here revisit the land art movement: sculptural wave energy accumulators; a photovoltaic outdoor video installation; a PV-based camera obscura pavilion. Project organizers continue to seed inspiration for proposals on their blog. No word on whether or how winning proposals will be built, but since so many otherwise-unbelievable projects do make their way to construction in Dubai, there is no ruling out the possibility. Submission deadline is June 4th.
A new online data mapping tool called IMBY – or In My Backyard (a play on NIMBY)– allows users to estimate the potential for renewable energy production on any given site, whether it’s a backyard, a roof or an empty lot. The IMBY tool was developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the federal agency dedicated to renewable energy research, development and outreach. Using a Google Maps interface, IMBY locates a specific address and allows the user to choose either wind or solar power and then draw the perimeter for a future renewable energy site. Based on information from geostationary satellites, AWS Truewind data, and NREL renewable energy databases, IMBY provides an estimate on the given site’s production potential. For solar energy, this includes the initial cost of the system, amount of cash incentives expected and the approximate number of payback years. For wind power, IMBY estimates the local wind resource based on the time of year and provides an estimated electricity output. The tool was designed for homeowners, businesses and researchers to access quick estimates for sites in the continental United States, Hawaii and northern Mexico.
Renewable energy company Beautiful Earth Group has unveiled a containerized solar-powered charging station for electric vehicles (EVs) at a site in Red Hook, Brooklyn. The station is built from recycled shipping containers and is topped with an array of 235-watt photovoltaic panels, which reach a total capacity of almost 6 kW. A three-hour charge in the station provides an EV with a range of approximately 100 miles. The new solar charging station is believed to be the first of its kind in New York City.
(via Jetson Green)
Plans have been announced by Bio Energy Investments Ltd (BEI) for the construction of BEI-Teesside, a biomass power station to be built on a brownfield site on the banks of the River Tees in the UK. The striking design is by British firm Heatherwick studio. The exterior shell of the structure will be covered in panels planted with indigenous grasses.
The plant will generate power from palm kernel shells, a byproduct of palm oil plantations that is considered a renewable fuel, which will be transported to the site by boat. Using palm kernel shells reduces carbon emissions by 80% compared with coal or gas, provides additional revenue to growers who otherwise treat the shells as waste and ensures that no land is diverted from forests or food production to generate the fuel. The proposed plant will generate 49 MW of energy, enough to power approximately 50,000 homes, and will feature a visitor’s center and renewable energy education center. Portions of the brownfield site not used for building construction are slated to become renewed native grassland.
Semakau Landfill, the world’s first offshore landfill and Singapore’s only waste destination, has been described by Singapore’s government as “Scenic Waste Disposal.” The site has been open to the public for recreational activities since 2005 and has been envisioned as an eco-park featuring renewable energy generation and educational facilities. Commissioned in 1999, the landfill was designed to work in harmony with the bio-diverse surrounding areas; it physically connects the islands of Pulau Sakeng and Pulau Semakau. A perimeter bund includes an impermeable membrane, marine clay and rock layers, which prevent waste and its byproducts from leaching into the surrounding water.
Initially expected to reach full capacity in 2040, the landfill’s lifespan has been extended due to the country’s efforts at waste reduction. Singapore now has a goal of recycling 60% of its waste by 2012.
Norway-based company Statkraft has just opened the world’s first osmotic power plant, tapping into the emissions-free energy produced when fresh water and salt water mix. Osmotic power harnesses osmosis, the natural process by which a solute in solution travels from an area of lower to higher concentration across a semi-permeable membrane (permeable to the solvent but not the solute). In the case of osmotic power, the combination of salt water and fresh water produces movement from areas of lower to higher salinity. Osmotic pressure created during this process is the potential force that can be used to power energy generation turbines in an osmotic power plant.
The Statkraft plant is being opened as a testing site for the technology, but it has the potential to output up to 1,600-1,700 terawatt-hours per year, or approximately 50% of the European Union’s total power production.
Partners Waste Management and Linde Group have begun processing fuel at the world’s largest Landfill Gas (LFG) to Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) plant, located at Altamont Landfill near Livermore, CA. Waste Management–the leading US waste services company and largest national operator of refuse and recycling trucks–collects the garbage, and Linde, an engineering company, purifies and liquifies the LFG produced by the waste. LFG goes through a purification process and is then fed into a natural gas liquifier, where it is cooled below the natural gas boiling point of -260 degrees Fahrenheit, yielding LNG. Unlike the energy harvested from LFG at the Freshkills Park site, which is used for residential energy needs, the Altamont facility’s Liquified Natural Gas can be used as a gasoline or diesel fuel substitute in heavy duty vehicles.
The Open Source Live Solar Mapping Project, recently released by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, tracks private installations of photovoltaic (PV) solar panels by location in the US and maps them in time. The map-video, spanning from 1998 to the present day, highlights the spatial concentration of solar energy harvest with changing colors that indicate the number of PV installations in each state. Solar energy has been identified as the world’s fastest-growing energy technology, with the number of photovoltaic installations doubling every 2 years since 2002. The Solar Mapping Project is community-driven, relying on information submitted by individuals, industry professionals and government officials.
(via Clean Technica)
As part of its Green Infrastructure Research Program, The EPA has announced that it will begin long-term testing of porous paving materials, in an effort to combat storm water runoff from streets and parking lots. Storm water from parking lots often contains grease, antifreeze, oil and other toxins that can contaminate nearby soils and bodies of water. This is particularly important in places (like New York City) that have combined sewers–where storm water mixes with untreated human and industrial waste–which tend to overflow into local harbors during heavy rains.
At its site in New Jersey, the EPA is testing three kinds of material: interlocking concrete pavers, porous concrete, and porous asphalt, as well as multiple rain gardens that naturally filter rain water. Companies at work developing types of permeable pavement include Xeripave and Vastpavers; other alternative pavement under development includes Pavegen Systems’ Energy Generating pavement, which redirects kinetic energy created by footsteps either to power nearby lights and displays or to be stored in lithium polymer batteries.
The New York City Department of Environmental Protection has identified Greenpoint, Brooklyn’s Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant as a prime site for methane gas harvesting, a process which has been bringing in approximately $11 million annually from the Freshkills Park site. While the decision has not yet been made to implement the plan, collection is proposed to begin in 2011 and would convert methane–a byproduct of anaerobic organic decomposition released during raw sewage processing at the plant–into energy for use in about 2,750 Greenpoint homes. Officials have chosen the Greenpoint facility because of its proximity to a National Grid gas line.
(via The New York Daily News)