Written by R.E. Lord   

Tessera Solar Dish October has been a big month for solar energy projects on public lands.

Six projects, all of them in California and Nevada, have been approved this month by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. On Monday, Salazar permitted Solar Millennium to build a 7,000-acre, 1,000 megawatt solar power plant near Blythe, Calif. The project is expected to create more than 1,000 jobs during construction and some 221 permanent jobs when it becomes fully operational.

Last week the secretary gave the Calico Solar Project the go-ahead to start ramping up on 4,604 acres of BLM land in the Mojave Desert, about 37 miles east of Barstow.

Read more: Largest Solar Project Heading to California
Written by Tim Hull   

EPA Fuel StandardsThe EPA proposed new fuel standards aimed at reducing emissions and fuel consumption of semis, heavy-duty pickup trucks, tractors, and vocational vehicles by 10 to 20 percent by 2018.

If approved, the standards could reduce greenhouse emissions by about 250 million metric tons, and save 500 million barrels of oil and about $41 billion in net benefits over the lives vehicles produced within the program’s first five years, according to the EPA and the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“It is estimated an operator of a semi truck could pay for the technology upgrades in under a year, and save as much as $74,000 over the truck’s useful life,” the agencies claim. “Vehicles with lower annual miles would typically experience longer payback periods, up to four or five years, but would still reap cost-savings.”

Read more: Feds Propose Fuel Standards for Heavy-Duty Trucks, Tractors and Vocational Vehicles

Written by R.E. Lord   

Goodyear Suntech SolarIt’s fitting that the world’s largest producer of solar panels opened its first U.S manufacturing plant in a region known for generations as the “Valley of the Sun.”

Suntech Power Holdings Co. flipped the switch this month at its new plant in Goodyear, Ariz., a suburb of Phoenix, where the sun shines hard and bright about 350 days out of the average year.

According to Suntech, a global leader in the production of silicon solar modules founded in 2001 by solar scientist Dr. Zhengrong Shi, the 117,000-square-foot Goodyear plant will initially produce Suntech's 280W Vd-series modules, which are used for commercial and utility-scale electricity generation.

Read more: Suntech Building Solar Panels in Arizona
Written by R.E. Lord   

Biomass Crop Assistance Program

The Obama Administration reiterated its support for the biofuel industry this week when Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) will continue.

The subsidy program pays farmers to establish perennial crops that can be used as feedstock for biofuels, in some cases providing up to 75 percent of the costs for up to five years (15 years for woody crops). Heretofore a pilot program, the BCAP is now the law of the land, and is “accepting project area proposals,” according to the USDA.
The program also provides matching payments to farmers, ranchers and other rural Americans who transport biomass to facilities that convert it into power and biofuels.

Read more: Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) to Continue Support for Biofuels
Written by R.E. Lord   

Electric Ford FocusFord executive Sue Cischke laid out the company's near-term plans for the all-electric Ford Focus, noting that most of the initial production will rollout in 2012 rather than 2011.

"We had always said 2011," said Cischke to reporters in Washington, "which we'll still do, but I think you'll see more of the concentrated volume in 2012. Right now, we're getting ready to provide a little bit slower entry."

Read more: Ford Hopes for a Gradual Rollout of the Electric Ford Focus
Written by R.E. Lord   

Solar Charging Station Envision Solar unveiled their CleanCharge solar charging stations in conjunction with GM's "Volt Unplugged" tour.  Each charging station's solar panels sit on a "solar tree" and, over the course of a sunny, six hour day, will provide enough electricity to fully charge a Chevy Volt.

The solar panels are designed to provide the most effective use of the sun's energy by tracking it across the sky throughout the day, providing the most efficient use of the solar panels capabilities. The company projects that by tracking the sun the efficiency is increased anywhere from 20-25%. Additionally, the panels provide shade to keep the electric vehicle and its batteries cool while charging.

Read more: Solar Powered Charging Stations from Envision Solar
Written by R.E. Lord   


Wind, waves and seaweed could supply a substantial amount of Europe’s fuel needs within the next 40 years, according to a report presented at a European Science Foundation (ESF) conference in Belgium.

The vast and largely untapped potential energy locked in the world’s oceans needs only will and research to be loosed for the benefit of Europe – along with a massive amount of funding, government or otherwise – and could supply up to 50 percent of Europe’s electricity needs by 2050, the report claims.

Read more: The Ocean Frontier: Report says renewable marine resources could be Europe's energy future
Written by R.E. Lord   

FTC Green Guide

The Federal Trade Commission seeks public comments on proposed changes to Green Guides

Seeking to more precisely define what has become one of the most overused, amorphous words in the English language, the Federal Trade Commission wants the public’s help revising its “Green Guides” for marketers.

The changes will be the first to the agency’s Green Guides in more than 10 years – a decade that has seen an explosion of consumer products, product certifications and seals of approval using the word “green” and related terms.

Read more: FTC To Green Marketers: Back Up Your Claims
Written by R.E. Lord   

Ethanol E15 The Environmental Protection Agency will allow newer vehicles to use gasoline containing up to 15 percent ethanol.

In a partial waiver decision this week, the agency said it will allow “the introduction into commerce of E15 for use only in model year 2007 and newer light-duty motor vehicles, which includes passenger cars, light-duty trucks and sport utility vehicles (SUV).”

The waiver does not apply to model year 2000 and older “light-duty motor vehicles, as well as all heavy-duty gasoline engines and motor vehicles, highway and off-highway motorcycles, and nonroad engines, vehicles, and equipment,” the EPA cautioned, saying that “there is currently insufficient test data to support an E15 waiver approval for these vehicles, engines, and products.” The EPA deferred a decision on model year 2001 through 2006 light-duty motor vehicles until “additional test data, currently under development, is available.”


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