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Batteries on Philadelphia subway tracks will store electricity and save cash

The New York Times reports on Viridity Energy's plans to install batteries that will capture energy from trains stopped on a Philadelphia subway line.

Yet the batteries are fairly small. The whole installation stores only about 400 kilowatt-hours, which a house with central air conditioning could consume in a week or maybe less. But it can accept or discharge energy fast, at a rate of about 800 kilowatts -- enough to run about 800 window air conditioners going full blast.

For short periods the battery pack can handle 1.5 megawatts. That’s about half of the theoretical maximum that a train could put out while it was braking, according to Kevin Morelock, director of the project. (The other half would go on the third rail system.) The amount of electricity the batteries will capture during each deceleration is small, 2 to 4 kilowatt-hours.

The trick is that Septa has thousands of train stops a year, so the system will empty and refill quite frequently. They will hold less than a dollar’s worth of electricity in each cycle but should save $135,000 a year for the transit authority, (Viridity founder Audrey) Zibelman said. The energy savings should reach 1,500 to 1,600 megawatt-hours a year, she said, enough to run 1,000 suburban houses for a year.

Original source: The New York Times
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Solar energy will power TV and movie studio near Philadelphia

Green Chip Stocks reports on Sun Center Studios, a solar-powered TV and film lot set to open soon southwest of Philadelphia.

The site houses an $85 million studio stretching over 33 acres. On that 33 acres lie a 4-D movie theatre, five studios, seven soundstages, and a 370,00-square-foot high-tech museum.

The 216 kilowatt (kW) energy system ranks in the top one percent of solar projects funded by the Pennsylvania Sunshine Solar Rebate Program, and is the largest solar-related project in Delaware County, PA. 

Sun Center carefully designed their campus and sound stage to facilitate optimum efficiency, using the newest technology to obtain environmental sustainability. 

Original source: Green Chip Stocks
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State's future could include natural gas-powered vehicles and major investments from chemical firms

The Patriot-News reports that during a recent meeting of the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission, state officials discussed the possibilities of billion-dollar investments by chemical companies and trucks powered by natural gas.

(Secretary of Community and Economic Development Alan) Walker also said there is "a need for an ammonium nitrate plant in Pennsylvania" because the two main ingredients are natural gas and water, both of which Pennsylvania has in great supply. Ammonium nitrate is an ingredient in agricultural fertilizer, which is used in huge quantities in the state.

Walker said his assistant Ashe Khare is on "a national search" to find a manufacturer to set up shop in the commonwealth.

Original source: The Patriot-News
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Law firm to open southwestern PA office focused on energy industry

Oil & Gas Financial Journal reports that nationwide law firm Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney is opening a Pittsburgh-area office to accommodate its growing clientele in the energy sector.

The new office should be fully operational by mid-May and will be utilized by lawyers and lobbyists who have clients there. Some of the firm’s Southpointe-based clients include CONSOL Energy, Range Resources, and Rice Energy.

In the past two years, Buchanan’s energy group has represented clients in more than $12 billion in energy-related transactions. The firm continues to experience a heavy volume of ongoing transactional and land work, and has recently seen an uptick in zoning/land use, environmental regulatory and litigation projects.

Original source: Oil & Gas Financial Journal
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Coal and coal waste will transform into energy at plant outside of Pittsburgh

The Valley News Dispatch reports that Accelergy, based in Houston, will build a $5.5 million plant in suburban Pittsburgh to convert coal and coal waste into fuel.

When fully functioning, the plant will convert coal and coal waste into gasoline, diesel and jet fuel, company officials said.

The carbon dioxide created in the process will be recycled. Moreover, algae used in the process will produce additional fuels and fertilizer.

Rocco Fiato, the company's chief technical officer, said the system "minimizes the overall greenhouse gas footprint."

Original source: Valley News Dispatch
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Western PA manufacturer plans to supply 1 million hybrid car batteries per year

SolveClimate News reports that Axion Power International, based in New Castle, is nearly doubling its space and hiring more workers to supply automakers with batteries for so-called micro-hybrid vehicles.

The firm makes a patented lead-carbon PbC battery that is well-suited for the charge-intensive nature of the start-stop technology used in micro-hybrids, especially when compared with traditional lead-acid car batteries.

The start-stop systems reduce emissions and improve fuel economy by minimizing the time a car spends idling. At stoplights or in heavy traffic, the engine automatically turns off and restarts as needed while keeping the headlights, air conditioning and radio running.

Original source: SolveClimate News
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During visit to Bucks County, Obama says renewable energy essential to nation's future

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports on President Barack Obama's visit to a Gamesa wind-turbine factory in the Philadelphia suburb of Fairless Hills.

Obama was at the wind-turbine factory to push his administration's goal to reduce U.S. oil imports by one-third by 2025 and to get 80 percent of the nation's electricity from clean sources by 2035.

"These are not your father's windmills," Obama told about 400 workers and guests, with a wind-turbine hub and gear box looming behind him. "You guys are not messing around. This is the future of American energy."

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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People who live near Three Mile Island not afraid of nuclear power plants

While Japan fights to prevent disaster at nuclear plants that were in the path of an earthquake and tsunami, American apprehension about nuclear power has been renewed. But that's not the case near Three Mile Island, the National Journal reports.

Interviews with many of the town’s residents reveal that most of them rarely give the plant – whose silos and plumes of steam are visible on the horizon – a second thought, even in the wake of the nuclear crisis in Japan. Terri Herr, 43, a waitress at a local diner, was in fifth grade in March 1979. Her words summed up the feelings of many: “I was scared then, but it doesn’t scare me anymore.”

Original source: National Journal
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PA Peanut Power: Planters hits highway in peanut-shaped truck fueled by biodiesel

The New York Times reports that a peanut-shaped truck built for Planters Peanuts, which was founded and headquartered in Wilkes-Barre for 36 years ending in 1961 and includes floorboards taken from a Lancaster barn, will tour the country, powered by peanut-based biodiesel.

The Nutmobile's unmodified diesel engine will run on up to 20 percent biodiesel fuel and return 10 to 15 miles per gallon, Mr. Riseborough said. Energy captured and converted by the wind turbine and solar panel drive an alternator that recharges batteries for the vehicle’s interior lighting and sound system.

"This form of advertising has really taken off," Joe Doyon, Turtle Transit's general manager, said in a telephone interview. "The advent of camera phones means that vehicles like the Nutmobile get photographed a lot."

Original source: New York Times
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Home builder debuts net-zero energy house near Pittsburgh

Builder S&A Homes built a house in suburban Pittsburgh that generates as much energy as it uses, SmartPlanet reports.

The test home, tucked away in the Cobblestone Estates development in Ohio Township in the Pittsburgh suburbs, is a logical extension of S&A’s E-Home, an efficient (but not net-zero) design it debuted in 2009.

The E-Home promised to cut monthly energy bills by $150, through ultra-efficient windows, fluorescent lighting, advanced HVAC systems, recycled materials and, of course, its inherent design.

The Lab Home takes that a step further, with a horizontal loop ground source heat pump system, 8-in. thick exterior walls filled with R-40 insulation and solar panels.

Original source: SmartPlanet
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Oklahoma natural gas company opening two Northeast PA offices and expects to start hiring

The Times Leader reports that Williams Energy, based in Tulsa, Okla., plans to open at least two Scranton-area offices and is likely to hire nearly three dozen workers.

Williams has 17 employees on staff working locally and could grow to 50 by year’s end and possibly 100 by 2014, said (spokeswoman Helen) Humphreys, who is among the 17. She said positions include gathering technicians, operations supervisors, safety representatives, environmental specialists, corrosion technicians, operations engineers, compression specialists, measurement specialists, land men, construction managers and planners/schedulers.

Original source: The Times Leader
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During visit to Happy Valley, Obama urges tax incentives, energy efficiency

The New York Times reports on President Obama's recent visit to Penn State, during which he toured labs and gave a speech promoting government investment in infrastructure and clean energy.
“Innovation has also flourished because we, as a nation, have invested in the success of these individual entrepreneurs,” the president said. “In America, innovation isn’t just how we change our lives. It’s how we make a living.”

Mr. Obama acknowledged that the tax credits he wants to provide would drain money from the Treasury. He received his largest applause when he reiterated his call for Congress to eliminate tax breaks for oil companies.
Original source: The New York Times
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Canadian company plans $800M clean-coal power plant in Schuylkill County

The Republican-Herald reports that EmberClear, based in Alberta, Canada, expects to build a massive clean-coal power plant near Pottsville, leading to 100 permanent jobs.

Experts believe the proposed technology at EmberClear's planned plant -- dubbed the Good Spring Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle, or Good Spring IGCC -- represents the future.

"This is certainly one of the ways forward for cleaner coal with higher efficiencies and definite ways of moving forward to replace some of the 30-year-old coal plants we have that are really showing their age," said Jonathan Matthews, an assistant professor of energy and mineral engineering at Penn State University. "I would say that there is some room for competing technology, (but) IGCC is probably the frontrunner in many peoples' minds."

Original source: The Republican-Herald
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Rendell leaves governor's mansion, returns to Philly law firm

The Wall Street Journal reports that former Gov. Ed Rendell has returned to his old law firm in Philadelphia. He also plans to write a book and push for investment in infrastructure.

Mr. Rendell is rejoining his old law firm, Ballard Spahr LLP in Philadelphia, where he said he’ll advise clients on a wide array of issues, including energy, higher education, health care and public-private partnerships for infrastructure investment.

Original source: The Wall Street Journal
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Coal is still king in PA, but alternative energy, deregulation are changing the landscape

Coal provides more than half of Pennsylvania's electricity, but the growth of alternative power sources and deregulation of electric utilities is altering the energy landscape, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

At play in the energy debate is geography. On one side: the state's still-thriving coal towns, largely in the southwest. On the other: former industrial regions, such as Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Allentown, that after decades of job loss see fresh economic opportunity. At a former U.S. Steel site in Bucks County, for example, a wind-turbine manufacturer employs 265.

But deregulation of the electricity market makes the battle relevant to all Pennsylvanians. It has given them more choice over who supplies their electricity, and how much of it -- if any -- they want to come from alternative sources such as solar and wind power.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
Read the full story here.
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