In green technology this week, aside from a major smart grid initiative and a solar flight of fancy, the news has been replete with reports of multinational corporations adopting renewable energy—whether it be from their rooftops or fields, in their project plans, or through their business acquisitions.
The Tokyo-based Toshiba (News - Alert) Group is set to break its all-time record of 10 million (actually, 9.5 million to date) newly installed smart meter endpoints — deployed on behalf of California's largest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric, in its service area in the northern and central parts of the state. Now, Toshiba has been selected via public tender by Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) to deliver its communication system for smart meters to 27 million Japanese homes over the course of the next decade. TEPCO’s smart meter platform will be the world’s biggest communications system. Toshiba will work as a prime contractor and system integrator of the communication system and supply the Head End System (HES) — a management system for smart meter data communications, as well as concentrators. In building the system, Toshiba will incorporate the smart meter technology of its subsidiary, Zug, Switzerland-based Landis+Gyr AG. Toshiba also will work closely with the Tokyo-based telecommunications company, NTT Group, and with IT provider NEC (News - Alert) Corporation, also based in Tokyo.
New York City-based broadband and telecommunicationscompany, Verizon, plans to invest $100 million in a solar and fuel-cell energy project that will help power 19 of its facilities in seven states nationwide. The fuel cell and solar products will be installed at Verizon (News - Alert) corporate offices, call centers and data centers. This is the company’s latest move toward reaching its goal of cutting its carbon intensity in half by 2020. Upon completion in 2014, the project will enable Verizon to annually generate more than 70 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of its own green energy—enough to power more than 6,000 single-family homes for a high-efficiency rooftop- and ground-mounted solar photovoltaic systems as well as solar parking canopies year. Verizon has signed a multiyear agreement with San Jose, California-based SunPower Corp. to deploy its solar modules at facilities in California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Arizona and North Carolina. Verizon also will work with ClearEdge Power, a Hillsboro, Oregon-based manufacturer of scalable, distributed power systems, to install PureCell Model 400 fuel cell systems at the company’s sites in California, New Jersey and New York.
An increasing number of international companies with operations in the Netherlands are switching to solar energy, according to a report just released by Rotterdam-based SolarPlaza, a private publishing, conference and research firm. Among the firms that have—or soon will have—rooftop solar systems to generate their own electricity are the Wieckse Witte-Brewery, owned by Heineken in Den Bosch; a Lidl supermarket branch in Weert; the new IKEA home goods store in Zwolle; and the Tons Mosterd (mustard) factory in Zierikzee . In many cases, installing solar panels is part of a company’s renewable strategy and future vision. Heineken, for example, is striving to be the greenest beer brewer in the world. In Zoeterwoude, the company is working with both wind power and hydropower, while in Den Bosch, the Wieckse Witte and Wieckse Rosé beer brewery has recently switched to solar energy. The brewer’s roof now boasts 3,632 solar panels that generate an annual amount of 855,000 kilowatt hours’ (kWh) worth of energy. That’s enough electricity for the entire brewing process.
Houston-based Clean Line Energy Partners LLC has signed an agreement to acquire Power Network New Mexico from New York City-Based GS Infrastructure; which is a division of Goldman Sachs, the global investment banking firm. Financial terms for the transaction were not made public. The deal will require approval from the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission. Also known as the Central New Mexico Collector System, the development project would construct a 200-mile-long, 345-kilovolt (kV) transmission line designed to transfer renewable power resources from New Mexico to other parts of the western United States. Specifically, the $350-million transmission project would deliver 1,500 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy from eastern and central New Mexico to PNM’s Rio Puerco switching station northwest of Rio Rancho. With headquarters in Albuquerque, PNM is the largest electricity provider in New Mexico. In addition, by enabling more wind generation in the energy supply mix, the project will save scarce water resources and result in meaningful reductions in air and water pollutants and carbon dioxide emissions. The project is being jointly developed with the New Mexico Renewable Energy Transmission Authority (RETA), a public entity. RETA has authority to issue bonds to help finance renewable energy transmission or storage projects. In 2010, RETA commissioned studies by Los Alamos National Laboratory and identified the Power Network’s Central New Mexico Collector System project as a means of facilitating transmission.
And finally, it’s a flight of fancy—and of innovation. The Solar Impulse—the world’s first solar-powered plane—already has made quite a bit of history. Going back to 2010 when it managed to be the first solar-powered aircraft to fly at night, it followed that up in 2012 when it went from Europe to North Africa, making the first intercontinental solar-powered flight ever. Now, Solar Impulse is going to meet a new and even bigger challenge — crossing the United States. Dubbed the Solar Impulse Across America trip, and set to launch early in June, the plan calls for the Solar Impulse to take off from San Francisco and head for New York, with intentions of reaching the Big Apple (News - Alert) by early July. If that sounds like an unusually long time, it's because that there will be a few side trips. Scheduled stops for the Solar Impulse include Phoenix, Dallas, and even Washington, D.C., so it won't be taking the straight overland route.