In green technology developments this week, an energy efficiency bill received bipartisan support from the U.S. Congress, several “cool” ideas and products made news and the delegates to Doha went home, a little late, after agreeing on a possible “gateway to the future.”
The U.S. Senate has unanimously passed legislation geared to strengthen industrial and federal agency energy efficiency programs. It now heads to the White House for signature into law by President Barack Obama. The legislation will extend the success of the 25-year old Department of Energy appliance efficiency program. It is estimated that, by 2030, the DOE program, as amended by H.R. 6582, the “American Energy Manufacturing Technical Corrections Act,” will reduce national electrical demand 12 percent below what it otherwise would be — at virtually no cost to American taxpayers.
GE has come up with a slimmer cooling product that may someday be employed in tablets or laptops. It uses something called “dual-piezoelectric cooling jets” (DCJ), which “suck in cool air and push out warm air,” CNET explained. It is about half the size of current alternatives —and uses half the power of fans, because it increases the rate of heat transfer to over 10 times that of natural convection.DCJ was initially developed for cooling jet engines, but now is seen as useful for consumer electronics devices. “With new tablet and netbook roadmaps moving to platforms measuring less than 6mm high, it is clear that consumers are demanding thinner and more powerful electronic devices,” Chris Giovanniello, vice president of Microelectronics & Thermal Business Development at GE Licensing.
The folks at Tweddle Connect have not been twiddling their thumbs, either. Its infotainment and vehicle service platform—transmitted via a driver’s mobile phone— is now being shown in the Toyota Entune at the Los Angeles Auto Show and is creating consumer buzz about the range of in-car apps, which are reportedly exclusive to electric vehicle drivers. So what's so special about these new EV apps? Drivers can now monitor the charge state of the vehicle and invoke a charge cycle remotely whenever it’s plugged in at a charging station. If drivers find it hard to locate one, it provides a charging station map, and better still, navigates them to their chosen destination. They are easily integrated with a social network, to deliver live assessments of fuel economy and efficiency, and to notify drivers of optimal temperatures in the car.
What’s more, police also are getting more “street smart” in the Lone Star State. Inspired by Kansas’ Operation Green Light, the city of Richardson (News - Alert), Texas, is introducing a wireless traffic digitalization system that will improve vehicle flow into and throughout the 289-square-mile municipality. Wireless broadband solutions provider Alvarion (News - Alert) is laying the groundwork by deploying its wireless municipal network, Smart City, solution—which will provide connectivity to the city’s police video surveillance network. The high-quality feeds also can be viewed from any PC monitor within the public safety network; and the network supports the city’s public safety radio applications, as well. Alvarion’s BreezeMAX Extreme base stations have been deployed on various water towers and tall buildings across the city to facilitate ubiquitous coverage. The resulting improvement in coordination of traffic signals and incident response, will gradually increase regional air quality, provide a tool for local government to better manage changes in traffic and improve the overall quality of life for residents and commuters.
The San Diego Zoo, a wildlife park and a conservation organization dedicated to saving endangered species, has a new mission—preserving man’s future on Earth. The zoo’s latest eco-friendly effort is the installation of solar canopies in the parking lot that recharge five zero-emission plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs). The Solar-to-EV project, in partnership with Smart City San Diego, is operated by the regional utility, San Diego Gas & Electric. One of the first of its kind in the country, the project harnesses energy from the sun to directly charge 10 solar canopies, designed and installed by Vista, California-based Independent Energy Solutions. The solar modules—provided by Kyocera (News - Alert) Solar Inc.—were manufactured in the United States at the company’s San Diego facility. The canopies produce 90 kilowatts (kW) of electricity. When the chargers are not in use, solar power is stored in a 100-kW lithium-polymer battery system for future operation; any energy that cannot be stockpiled is loaded onto the electric grid to improve reliability and benefit the surrounding community.
Finally, speaking at a press briefing on Dec. 9 — a few days after the official closing of the two-week UN Climate Change Conference in Doha — COP18 President and Deputy Prime Minister of Qatar Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah characterized the summit as a “gateway to the future.” Among the main agreements achieved at the meeting was the adoption of an amendment setting out the rules governing the second period of the Kyoto Protocol. The period will commence on Jan. 1, 2013, and run for eight years — thus ensuring that no gap will occur between its culmination and the effective date of the new global agreement in 2020. Countries that are taking on further commitments under the Kyoto Protocol have agreed to review their emission reduction commitments at the latest by 2014, with a view toward increasing their respective levels of ambition. In addition, at the request of the European Union, the conference agreed on a work plan for 2013 and beyond guided by the Durban Platform. The platform has a dual mandate — (1) to draw up a new global climate agreement with all countries, scheduled to be adopted in 2015; and (2) to identify ways to achieve more ambitious global emission reductions for 2020 in order to close the gap between current emission pledges and what is needed to hold global warming below 2 degrees C.
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