Saturday, April 30, 2016



John Upton

The debate has spilled into the Democratic primary race, with Bernie Sanders pushing for a carbon tax. In 2007, Hillary Clinton said she opposed a carbon tax — but only because she favored cap-and-trade.

The ballot initiative is the latest effort to establish a system in Washington that prices carbon pollution. Cap-and-trade legislation by Gov. Jay Inslee was rejected last year by lawmakers, and his administration is trying to cap carbon pollution using regulatory powers.

"The differences between carbon taxes and cap-and-trade programs are dwarfed by the similarities between them," said Noah Kaufman, a climate economist at the nonprofit World Resources Institute. "A lot of the differences that you hear talked about are not really fundamental differences between the policies, but what to do with the revenue."

The Washington ballot measure was crafted to be revenue neutral for the state, helping to curb pollution while reducing other taxes. A government analysis indicated those cuts substantially could reduce state revenue overall, although backers of the proposal disagree with the finding. Major winners would be low-income families, which would receive $1,500 tax rebates.

Carbon Washington is facing opposition to its ballot initiatives from corporations that use and produce energy.

"We don’t think a price on carbon is necessary," said Brandon Houskeeper, who oversees government affairs at the Association of Washington Businesses. "We think it’s the wrong approach."
The planned revenue neutrality of the measure also has sparked opposition from groups that are fighting for a system that sets aside funds for environmental initiatives.

California, European nations and some other governments earmark large chunks of revenues from cap-and-trade programs to be spent on efforts to promote clean energy and reduce pollution impacts in poor communities.

Washington’s carbon tax ballot initiative "doesn’t have a huge united coalition behind it," said Kristin Eberhard, a researcher who tracks carbon pricing for the Sightline Institute, a think tank based in Seattle.

Climate Solutions, a nonprofit in the Pacific Northwest, said it can't support but won't oppose I-732, preferring to continue to push for adoption of an alternative carbon pricing program — one that would provide funding for environmental initiatives in Washington.

"We need a more comprehensive solution," said Vlad Gutman, director of Climate Solutions’ Washington office. "We need to drive investments to clean energy."

Laura Blackwell avatar

John Upton

Senior Science Writer
Climate Central

King County Judge Makes Historic Ruling Against Washington State in Climate Change Case

by Sydney BrownstoneApr 29, 2016 at 12:30 pm
King County Judge Hollis Hill sided with eight kid plaintiffs arguing that the state wasnt doing enough to address climate change.
King County Judge Hollis Hill sided with eight kid plaintiffs arguing that the state wasn't doing enough to address climate change. SB

A King County Superior Court judge has reversed a ruling that gave the Washington State Department of Ecology the opportunity to decide when to cut statewide greenhouse gas emissions. Because of a lawsuit filed by eight Washington State kids, Judge Hollis Hill has ruled that the threat of climate change is so urgent that the state must be placed on a court-ordered deadline to hold polluters accountable now.

The decision was the first of its kind. Earlier this year, Judge Hill found that the state had a constitutional responsibility to protect its citizens—including the children who filed the lawsuit—but that dictating an additional greenhouse gas rule-making process wouldn't be necessary. After all, in July of last year Governor Jay Inslee had directed Ecology to come up with a rule to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
That changed when Ecology withdrew the draft rule in February of 2016 in order to take more time to confer with stakeholders. When that happened, the kids' lawyer, Andrea Rodgers, asked the judge to change the earlier ruling in favor of the state based on two criteria: one, that the state had misrepresented the facts, and two, that extraordinary circumstances deemed it necessary.
Judge Hill didn't think that Ecology committed fraud or misrepresentation by committing to a rulemaking process and then withdrawing a draft rule later. But she did agree with the kids' lawyer that climate change constituted extraordinary circumstances.
"Ecology doesn't dispute that current science establishes that rapidly increasing global warming causes an unprecedented risk to the earth, to the land, sea, and atmosphere, and all living plants and creatures," Judge Hill said. Then the judge used Ecology's own words to demonstrate the "extraordinary" circumstances, reading back a quote from 2014 warning of "serious economic and environmental disruptions."
Judge Hill continued:
The reason I'm doing this is because this is an urgent situation. (...) These children can't wait, the polar bears can't wait, the people of Bangladesh can't wait. I don't have jurisdiction over their needs in this matter, but I do have jurisdiction in this court, and for that reason I'm taking this action.
Now the state must come up with a rule to cut greenhouse gas emissions by the end of 2016. In addition, it must make recommendations to the legislature next year to update the state's greenhouse gas reduction goals based on the most current science.
In order to demonstrate how climate change posed an immediate threat to Washington citizens—and how the state had failed to protect them from it—lawyer Andrea Rodgers cited the Quinault Indian Nation's plan to relocate its ancestral village of Taholah away from the coastline because of rising sea levels. "People think that this is something that's going to happen down the road when our friends, and our family, and our people in Washington are literally being relocated," Rodgers said.
As for the judge's ruling on extraordinary circumstances, "It's not climate change that's the extraordinary circumstance, it's that this agency hasn't done what it's legally obligated to do for almost 30 years," Rodgers told me after the courtroom let out. "And [Judge Hill] recognized that a court has a responsibility to step in and protect the rights of young people that are being harmed by climate change. This is world-changing and it's amazing."
The kid plaintiffs and their friends inside the courtroom were similarly stoked.
"I think it's our biggest victory so far," 12-year-old Athena Fain said.
"I mean, [Ecology] are our 'elders,' so to speak, and they're supposed to guide us and help us, and it kind of feels like we're guiding them to help us," 14-year-old Gabe Mandel added. "So we're totally thankful that amazing Judge Hollis Hill ruled in our favor."
A spokesperson from the Department of Ecology stressed that the state was already taking climate change seriously. "We're already working on an aggressive schedule trying to put this policy in place, and we're going to stay on that schedule," Ecology spokesperson Camille St. Onge said. "It's our top priority as an agency. We understand how vital it is to protect our air, and our water, and our land for future generations."
UPDATE: Governor Jay Inslee released a statement on Judge Hollis Hill's ruling.
This case is a call to act on climate, and that call is one that has been a priority for me since taking office. Our state is helping lead the way on climate action in our country.
It appears the court is essentially reaffirming the need to do what we've already committed to doing, which is putting a policy in place by the end of the year that reduces carbon pollution in Washington state.
In a way it is gratifying that the court has also affirmed our authority to act, contrary to the assertion of those who continue to reject action on climate change and ocean acidification. Hundreds of people have participated in the creation of our state's Clean Air Rule and the draft will be out in just a few weeks. People can also view the webinar held earlier this week in which over 500 people participated.

I'm fully committed to making sure we do our part to protect our air and water for our children in the years ahead.

Cover this amount of U.S. land with solar power plants and you could power the entire United States.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Mercom Says Global Solar Installations Set To Reach 66.7 GW In 2016

Global solar installations are expected to reach 66.7 GW in 2016, thanks to strong growth in China, the US, Japan, and India, according to Mercom.



Friday, April 22, 2016

A Researcher Just Accidentally Developed A Battery That Could Last A Lifetime

April 22, 2016 | by Alfredo Carpineti

Hang on renewables this is only the beginning. We have seen great leaps in renewable production due to investment and markets. Product efficiency has grown dramatically while cost has plummeted at unprecedented rates.
The last couple of years we have witnessed this happening on the storage side as it is very apparent that if renewables wants to really be a competitive power option it needs to be available on demand. This article posted below from IFLScience! focus' on the science aspect so it will be interesting to discover what the financial feasibility reveals.

Poor battery life is the number one complaint when it comes to smartphones and laptops. As a wireless society, having to tether ourselves down to power up our gadgets seems more and more a nuisance. And while researchers are looking into wireless charging, if batteries were better we would have to worry less.

Now, a new technology promises just that. Researchers from the University of California, Irvine, have invented a nanowire-based battery that can be recharged hundreds of thousands of times, a significant leap towards a battery that doesn’t require replacing.

Nanowires possess several ideal characteristics for electric storage and transmission. They are highly conductive and thousands of times thinner than a human hair, which means they can be arranged to provide a large surface area for electron transfer. Unfortunately, nanowires are usually very fragile and don’t do well after repeated charging and discharging.

The researchers, whose findings are published in the American Chemical Society’s Energy Letters, have coated gold nanowires in manganese dioxide and cocooned them in a Plexiglas-like gel. This combination keeps all the properties of the nanowires' intact and makes them resistant to fractures.

Mya Le Thai, the lead study author, has charged and discharged the battery up to 200,000 times without breaking the nanowires and without loss of capacity.

“Mya was playing around, and she coated this whole thing with a very thin gel layer and started to cycle it,” said senior author Reginald Penner, chair of UCI’s chemistry department, in a statement. “She discovered that just by using this gel, she could cycle it hundreds of thousands of times without losing any capacity.”
“That was crazy,” he added, “because these things typically die in dramatic fashion after 5,000 or 6,000 or 7,000 cycles at most.”

The researchers believe that the combination of the PMMA (plexiglass-like) gel electrolyte and the magnesium oxide gives flexibility and structure to the nanowires, preventing cracking and thus extending their operational life.

“The coated electrode holds its shape much better, making it a more reliable option,” Thai said. “This research proves that a nanowire-based battery electrode can have a long lifetime and that we can make these kinds of batteries a reality.”


We demonstrate reversible cycle stability for up to 200 000 cycles with 94–96% average Coulombic efficiency for symmetrical δ-MnO2 nanowire capacitors operating across a 1.2 V voltage window in a poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) gel electrolyte. The nanowires investigated here have a Au@δ-MnO2 core@shell architecture in which a central gold nanowire current collector is surrounded by an electrodeposited layer of δ-MnO2 that has a thickness of between 143 and 300 nm. Identical capacitors operating in the absence of PMMA (propylene carbonate (PC), 1.0 M LiClO4) show dramatically reduced cycle stabilities ranging from 2000 to 8000 cycles. In the liquid PC electrolyte, the δ-MnO2 shell fractures, delaminates, and separates from the gold nanowire current collector. These deleterious processes are not observed in the PMMA electrolyte.
Abstract Image

 Degradation and Failure Discovery Platform. (a) Schematic diagram showing critical dimensions of the Au@δ-MnO2 all-nanowire capacitor investigated here. The PMMA gel layer, consisting of 20 (w/w)% PMMA in 1.0 M LiClO4 and PC, is 180 μm in thickness. (b) Low-magnification image of a several Au@δ-MnO2 nanowires on the capacitor surface. (c) High-magnification SEM image of the gold nanowire core of the Au@δ-MnO2 nanowires with lateral dimensions of 35 nm (h) × 240 nm (w). (d) High-magnification SEM image of a Au@δ-MnO2 nanowire showing the morphology of the electrodeposited δ-MnO2 shell with a mean thickness of 124 nm.(1) (e) Photograph of the capacitor containing 750 parallel nanowire loops patterned onto a glass microscope slide.


(Below) SEM (a–d) and AFM (e–h) images of gold (a,e), and Au@δ-MnO2 core@shell (b–d, f–h) nanowires: (a,e) gold nanowire comprising the core of Au@δ-MnO2 core@shell nanowires. A height versus distance amplitude trace is shown below each AFM image. (b,f) Au@δ-MnO2 core@shell nanowire prepared by electrodepositing MnO2 onto the gold nanowire shown in (a) for 5 s. (c,g) MnO2 deposited for 10 s. (d,h) MnO2 deposited for 40 s. (i–k) Charge storage performance for all nanowire capacitors composed of Au@MnO2 nanowires. All data here were acquired using the PMMA gel electrolyte except in the case of the 222 nm shell thickness, where data for the PMMA gel electrolyte and PC-only electrolyte are both shown (k). (i) Cyclic voltammograms at 100 mV/s for capacitors prepared with three MnO2 shell thicknesses, 143, 222, and 300 nm, as indicated. (j) Galvanostatic charge/discharge curves for nanowire capacitors at 1 A/g. Total Csp values are 19, 34, and 56 F/g for tMnO2 values of 300, 222, and 143 nm, respectively. (k) Csp versus scan rate for MnO2 nanowire arrays. For the 222 nm shell thickness, data for PMMA (solid green line) and no PMMA electrolytes (dashed green line) are compared. Error bars represent ±1σ for three as-prepared capacitors at each tMnO2.

Cycle stability of Au@δ-MnO2 core@shell nanowire capacitors. (a,b) Csp versus cycles for MnO2 shell thicknesses as indicated. Also plotted (top) is the Coulombic efficiency for the 222 nm MnO2 shell thickness. Other shell thicknesses were virtually identical. (b) Detail showing the first 20 000 cycles in (a). (c) CVs at 100 mV/s for the 222 nm MnO2 shell thickness acquired for cycle 1 and cycle 100 000, as indicated. (d) Csp versus scan rate for the 222 nm MnO2 shell thickness, for data acquired at 6000, 40,000, 75 000, and 95 000 cycles, as indicated

Figure 4. SEM analysis of Au@δ-MnO2 nanowires before and after cycling. (a–d) SEMs at low (a,c) and higher (b,d) magnification show two identical, as-prepared Au@δ-MnO2 nanowires with shells of thickness 220 nm. (e,f) SEMs of the same nanowire shown in (a,b) after 4000 charge/discharge cycles. The short-range loss of MnO2, from 100 to 500 nm domains, is readily apparent in these images (green arrows). (g,h) SEMs of the same nanowire shown in (c,d) after 100 000 charge/discharge cycles. In contrast to (e,f), using the PMMA gel electrolyte, no shell loss is observed in this case. SEM analysis of Au@δ-MnO2 nanowires before and after cycling. In PC without PMMA, short-range loss of MnO2 (e,f) precedes long-range loss of the MnO2 shell over a length scale of microns. SEM images of a single nanowire loop of a Au@δ-MnO2 core@shell structure without PMMA (i) and with PMMA (j) document the loss of the MnO2 shell (green arrows) in the absence of the PMMA

Scheme 1. (a) Illustration of the Two-Stage Progression of Degradation for Au@δ-MnO2 Nanowires in PC Electrolyte without PMMA gela and (b) Addition of PMMA to the PC Electrolyte Forestalling Both of These Degradation Modes

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Sorry Tri-Cities Solar Incentive ends.

Benton PUD, City of Richland, Benton REA and Franklin PUD have filled up their allotted amount for the Washington Solar Production incentive. The current law reads that the utilities can only get 0.05% of their power from solar by using the incentive. The incentive allowed solar customers to get paid up to $5,000 a year until 2020. The program lasts until 2020 but most of the utilities in Washington have capped out the 0.05% allowed. There was a bill earlier this year to change the minimum amount of 0.05% but it did not pass. If you use all Washington product they will pay you up to $0.54 kWh up to $5,000 a year until 2020. The good news is that we can still show a 5 year or less return on investment for commercial systems as we are not subject to the made in Washington clause and can pass these huge savings on to you. When combined with the Federal business solar incentives the ROI is very attractive. Customers can still benefit from net metering!!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Richland Washington Ends Solar Incentive

The City of Richland has filled up its allotted amount for the Washington Solar Production incentive. The current law reads that the utilities can only get 0.05% of their power from solar. Richland is the second utility in our area (Benton REA was the first) that has filled up the very popular Washington Solar Production Incentive. The incentive allowed solar customers to get paid up to $5,000 a year until 2020. The program lasts until 2020 but most of the utilities in Washington have capped out the 0.05% allowed. There was a bill earlier this year to change the minimum amount of 0.05% but it did not pass. If you use all Washington product they will pay you up to $0.54 kWh up to $5,000 a year until 2020. Franklin PUD (Pasco) and Benton PUD Kennewick) still have availability so call us and reserve your system today (509) 412-1766. We apologize to all our Richland customers that were wanting to use the Washington solar incentive to pay down their systems. The good news is that we can still show a 5 year or less return on investment for commercial systems as we are not subject to the made in Washington clause and can pass these huge savings on to you. When combined with the Federal business solar incentives the ROI is very attractive.

Monday, April 4, 2016

'Revolutionary' Solar Cell Hits 100% Efficiency

Holy grail of photovoltaics found with novel compound semiconductor material dubbed 'liquid sunshine'
01 Apr 2016.  VIA
by Pini Salvador.

by Pini Salvodor
Researchers have discovered what appears to be the “holy grail” of photovoltaics – a new semiconductor material capable of converting the entire solar spectrum into "green" electrical power with 100% efficiency.
The team, a multinational collaboration, reported its findings this morning in the Journal of Solar Materials. In the paper, they describe their accidental discovery of a completely new semiconductor material based on a combination of the noble gas argon and the semiconducting non-metal element selenium - caused when an argon gas cylinder leaked over a large bowl of brazil nuts whose selenium content was being analyzed by food researchers.
“It’s unbelievable,” said principal investigator Olaf Pirlo. “This is the renewable energy breakthrough that the whole world has been hoping for. The efficiency of our ArSe-based solar cells outperforms that of every other known photovoltaic material by a factor of at least two.”
The astonishing efficiency performance has since been confirmed at the UK’s National Sunshine Laboratory, which is based in Manchester.
Sunshine indoors
Up until now, the highest recorded efficiency from a research-grade solar cell stood at 46 per cent, set in late 2014 by a team from Soitec alongside the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) in Freiburg.
But the new cell is set to head straight to the top of the famous US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) chart of high-performance devices, and in the longer term the disruptive technology promises to turn the solar power industry upside down – if it can be produced cheaply and in commercial volumes.
Pirlo is extremely confident about that, partly because the new material can simply be sprayed or painted onto any suitable substrate material. The unusual combination of chemical elements means that ArSe exists in a convenient liquid form at room temperature, leading Pirlo’s team to dub the semiconductor “liquid sunshine”.
And because the material is particularly good at converting warm-white light into electricity, it will also suit interior applications, effectively bringing - in Pirlo's words - "sunshine indoors".
He is currently in negotiations to secure the funding needed to construct a fabrication facility to make large solar panels based on the material, with volume production tentatively scheduled to start next April.
At that point Pirlo and his colleagues are planning to sell the revolutionary technology direct to customers via a web portal owned and operated by their spin-off company "MyArSe".