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  1. Alstom is delivering Hydrogen-fuelled intercity Coradia trains to Lower Saxony. The locomotive and motor engine were manufactured in France whilst the Hydrogen cell was made in Germany. In terms of fuel supply, Hydrogen is generated by electrolysis and the energy used to power this reaction is tapped from wind power. Functionally-speaking, energy is generated by converting H2 gas to electricity using reverse electrolysis - an old technology discovered back in the 19th century. A single H2 fill-up drives the engine with an autonomy of 1,000 km plus the possibility of peaking up to 140 km/h. This is a direct alternative to diesel trains, the motor engine itself is electric, hence quiet, and overhead lines are history. H2 is stored in a highly pressurized state and withheld inside reservoirs bearing high tensile strength, still I ponder on the event of an accident given its extremely exothermic nature. Anyway, I often hear people arguing over job losses through delocalized assembly lines or trivial companies moving to Calgary or Toronto and always thought Montreal (besides France and Germany BTW, coz I deeply love these 2 cultures ) had all what it takes to unleash innovative industries that would disrupt traditional transport and energy markets (kind like the way Apple's smartphones relegated Nokia's mobile technology to oblivion). Quebec has top universities that lead research in the Physical Sciences, lots of natural resources and genuine reasons to curb climate change. One could imagine developing shuttles that use hydrogen cells to transit people from one bank of the Saint Laurent to another. La Rochelle already has one such gizmo and Marseille has been using a solar-powered equivalent to move people around the Vieux-Port. Une petite révolution dans le monde des transports Source: Radio France, 11/11/2017
  2. IluvMTL

    CityLab

    http://www.citylab.com/ https://www.facebook.com/thisiscitylab [h=2]Frequently Asked Questions[/h]General What is CityLab? CityLab is dedicated to the people who are creating the cities of the future—and those who want to live there. Through sharp analysis, original reporting, and visual storytelling, our coverage focuses on the biggest ideas and most pressing issues facing the world’s metro areas and neighborhoods. Is CityLab the same thing as The Atlantic Cities? Yes. Previously known as The Atlantic Cities, CityLab re-launched in May 2014 with an expanded editorial mission as well as a new name, URL, and mobile-first responsive design. Can I still read stories that appeared on The Atlantic Cities here? Yes. All of the content that was on theatlanticcities.com is now on citylab.com. Atlantic Cities urls will redirect to the new site. What is Navigator? Navigator is “the modern urbanist’s guide to life,” a section of the site that launched in 2014 offering tips and strategies for city lifestyles. Check it out here. What is CityFixer? CityFixer is our tool that offers “solutions for an urbanizing world.” It collects the best ideas and stories for a dozen of the leading drivers of modern cities — including schools, civic life, policing, and energy use. A click on “Aging,” for example, will surface all past CityLab coverage on the topic. Check it out here.
  3. Revitalizing Calgary's core: Some possibilities for rebirth 'Calgary has reinvented itself before ... from a ranching/agriculture-based economy to oil and gas' By Richard White, CBC News Posted: Jun 17, 2016 While it is shocking that Calgary's downtown skyscraper vacancy rate skyrocketed to 20 per cent at the end of March, and that it could soon surpass the vacancy record of 22 per cent set in 1983 (twice what it was a year ago), we should keep some perspective. These numbers are not unheard of in major corporate headquarter cities. Back in the 1970s, New York City was in decline. By the mid-70s, the city came close to bankruptcy and its office vacancy rate hit 20 per cent. In 1993, Toronto's downtown office vacancy rate hit 20.4 per cent. Vancouver's rose to 17.4 per cent in 2004. And these may not even be records, as data only goes back to 1990 for those cities. Today, New York City, Toronto and Vancouver's downtowns are booming. All downtowns go through periods of growth, decline and rebirth. Montreal's decline and rebirth In the '60s, the case could still be made Montreal was Canada's business capital. Its downtown was a major office headquarters for Quebec's natural resource industry as well as a thriving financial industry, including the head offices of the Bank of Montreal, Royal Bank of Canada and insurance giant Sun Life. In 1962, when the Place Ville Marie office designed by iconic architects I.M. Pei and Henry N. Cobb opened, it symbolized Montreal's arrival as a world-class city. This was further reinforced with the hosting of Expo '67, the arrival of Montreal Expos baseball team in 1969, and the 1976 Olympics. However, the '70s brought the threat of separation, which prompted many corporate headquarters and their executives to move to Toronto. By 1971, Toronto's population surpassed Montreal's. The 1976 Montreal Olympics, the most expensive in history, plunged the city into a legacy of debt and decline for decades. Today, Montreal has reinvented itself as an international tourist destination and a major player in the gaming and music industries. New York's return from the brink In 1975, New York City was on the brink of bankruptcy. The gradual economic and social decay set in during the '60s. The city's subway system was regarded as unsafe due to crime and frequent mechanical breakdowns. Central Park was the site of numerous muggings and rapes; homeless persons and drug dealers occupied boarded-up and abandoned buildings. Times Square became an ugly, seedy place dominated by crime, drugs and prostitution. Today, New York City is back as one of the world's most successful cities, economically and culturally, and Times Square is again one of the world's most popular urban tourist attractions. Calgary's future Perhaps Calgary has already begun to reinvent itself. Despite the growing vacancy rate downtown, the CBRE's First Quarter 2016 Report says, "Not all commercial real estate in the city has been affected, though. Suburban office space held steady from the last quarter, and the industrial real estate market is still robust because it's not tied to oil and gas." Indeed, Calgary has become one of North America's largest inland port cities, including two state-of-the art intermodal rail operations. Calgary is now the distribution headquarters for Western Canada, a position once held by Winnipeg. And so Calgary's industrial sectors employ more people than the energy sector. Calgary Economic Development is working with the real estate community to implement a "Head Office/Downtown Office Plan" with three action items. One idea is the repurposing of smaller older office spaces as incubators and innovation hubs to attract millennials and/or entrepreneurs. A good example of this is in West Hillhurst, where Arlene Dickenson has converted an old office building at the corner of Memorial Drive and Kensington Road that was once home to an engineering firm into District Ventures, home to several startup packaged goods companies. Another repurposing idea would be to convert some older office buildings into residential uses. In the U.S., programs like Vacant Places Into Vibrant Spaces have been successful but mostly for office to residential conversions of older buildings with smaller floor plates. They don't work for offices buildings with floor plates over 7,500 square feet (which is the case for most of Calgary's empty high-rise office space), as it is expensive and difficult to meet residential building codes, which are very different from commercial ones, making it tough to compete with new residential construction. In an ideal world, Calgary could become a global talent hub, where skilled workers who have been displaced from the energy and related industries continue to live in Calgary but become a remote workforce for energy projects around the world. Temporary and permanent satellite offices could be established in Calgary with teams of engineers, geologists, accountants, bankers etc. working on projects around the world. The obvious strategy would be to woo international companies in the finance, insurance, transportation, agriculture, digital media and renewable resources to set up a Canadian or North American office in Calgary, maybe even relocate here. With cities like San Francisco, Seattle and Boston facing major affordable housing crises for millennial workers, Calgary could become a very attractive place for a satellite office for companies in those cities. One "off the wall" idea postulated by George Brookman, CEO of West Canadian Industries, would be to promote Calgary as an "International Centre for Energy Dispute Resolution," similar to the Netherland's TAMARA (Transportation And Maritime Arbitration Rotterdam-Amsterdam), which offers an extrajudicial platform for conducting professional arbitration for settling disputes. However, one wonders: Could Calgary compete with London and New York, which are already leaders in the international arbitration business? Incentivize rebirth Calgary has reinvented itself before, evolving from a ranching/agriculture-based economy to oil and gas in the middle of the 20th century. Indeed, the downtown core, which is an office ghetto today, would benefit immensely if incentives could be made to convert a dozen or so office buildings into condos, apartments or hotels to foster a rebirth of the core as a place to live. Calgary at a Crossroads is CBC Calgary's special focus on life in our city during the downturn. A look at Calgary's culture, identity and what it means to be Calgarian. Read more stories from the series at Calgary at a Crossroads. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/calgary-core-kickstart-richard-white-1.3638276
  4. To stay sexy, must the German capital remain poor? Sep 17th 2011 | BERLIN | from the print edition Still on the edge CLOUD clamps on to the rooftops in October and stays until April. The language seems equally forbidding to many. Berlin’s streetscapes and restaurants dazzle less than those of Paris or London. Apart from that, it is hard to find fault with the city. Berlin has music, art and nightlife to rival Europe’s more established capitals, but not their high costs and hellish commutes. It is a metropolis with the lazy charm of the countryside. It took a while for people to notice. After the brief euphoria of unification in 1990, the West’s subsidised industry and the East’s socialist enterprise collapsed alongside each other. On measures like employment, public debt and school performance, Berlin ranks at or near the bottom among Germany’s 16 states (it is one of three city-states). Klaus Wowereit, who hopes to be re-elected to a third term as mayor on September 18th, memorably branded the city “poor but sexy”. That is its magnetism. The federal government’s move to Berlin from Bonn in 1999 was a political decision. “Creative” folk are drawn from across Europe and America by cheap studios and frontier-like freedoms. Berlin’s centre still has voids to be built on and argued about. “Easyjetsetters” infest clubs and bars at weekends. More than 1m newcomers have replaced Berliners who have died or left the city since the 1990s. Effervescence pulls in investors. Google plans an “institute for the internet and society”. Industrial clusters have formed in health, transport and green technology. Parts of the media have relocated from Hamburg. Germany will never be as centralised as Britain or France, but if people have something to say to a national audience they tend increasingly to say it in Berlin. Since 2004 Berlin has created jobs at a faster pace than the German average. It leads the country in business start-ups. But the city is defined as much by its inertia as by its energy. A fifth of Berliners live off social transfers. Unemployment is still close to double the national rate because the workforce has recently expanded almost as quickly as the number of jobs. In Berlin “aspiration can be a negative word,” says Philipp Rode of the London School of Economics. Much of its energy comes from outsiders. Even the aspiring are often thwarted: 29% of social scientists and 40% of artists are jobless, according to DIW, a Berlin think-tank. Mr Wowereit, a Social Democrat, strives to channel the city’s edginess while reassuring Berliners weary of change. That is one reason why he is likely to win re-election. (The main suspense involves the Greens, which could replace the ex-communist Left Party as Mr Wowereit’s coalition partner, and the open-source-inspired Pirate Party, which might enter a German state legislature for the first time.) But the straddle is becoming harder. Rents, although still low, have jumped by 30% since 1999. The Swabian yuppie, with multiple offspring and a fondness for coffee bars, is a widely despised figure. “Berlin’s drama”, wrote Berliner Zeitung, a local newspaper, is that its “creative richness is inseparable from its economic poverty.” That will be Mr Wowereit’s puzzle, if he wins
  5. Il faut le souligner quand des compagnies d'ici font des acquisitions à l'étranger, comme quoi tout ne va pas d'un seul bord! Boralex boosts France operations with proposed takeover Montreal-based renewable energy producer Boralex Inc. has sharply boosted its presence in France with a $400-million proposed takeover of wind power company Enel Green Power France. The acquisition of the Enel wind portfolio will boost the generating capacity of Boralex’s existing operations by about 25 per cent, with the addition of 12 operating wind farms generating about 186 megawatts of power. Currently, Boralex has wind farms, solar projects, hydroelectric and thermal operations in France, Canada and the United States, that have a total capacity of about 754 MW. The company said this deal will make it the biggest independent wind power producer in France. Adding a large proportion to the French porfolio is a “truly company-transforming move,” said Boralex chief executive officer Patrick Lemaire. Currently, France makes up about 37 per cent of the Boralex portfolio, but that will expand to almost half after this transaction closes in January. Mr. Lemaire said in an interview that growth in the renewable sector is “clearer” in Europe than in North America, at the moment. Changes in Ontario’s renewable energy procurement program that make it less attractive, and limits to Quebec’s plans to acquire clean energy, have made those two core Canadian markets less attractive, he said. “France still has nice objectives,” he said. Boralex is also less interested in expanding in the United States, Mr. Lemaire said, because most jurisdictions there operate with a spot market for electricity, and thus there are fewer long-term contracts that secure a power price over the long term. The wind farms being purchased in this deal have long-term contracts in place averaging about 11 years. Privately owned Enel also has a pipeline of about 310 MW of new wind projects that are not yet built, and that will add further to the Boralex total in the next few years, Mr. Lemaire said. “Our main goals are to operate what we have acquired in the past, build new projects … and add growth for the next few years.” Boralex will finance the Enel purchase through bank loans, an existing revolving credit facility, and a bridge credit facility. It will also sell about $110-million in subscription receipts through a bought-deal transaction arranged by National Bank Financial. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/energy-and-resources/boralex-boosts-france-operations-with-proposed-takeover/article22095267/
  6. Shows you where the money is going these days. Great looking skyscraper! Article on FP: http://business.financialpost.com/2013/07/04/telus-to-build-400-million-tower-in-calgarys-downtown/?__lsa=e9e9-144b
  7. The new oil sheik of Quebec SOPHIE COUSINEAU MONTREAL — The Globe and Mail Published Tuesday, Feb. 05 2013, 7:45 PM EST Last updated Tuesday, Feb. 05 2013, 7:53 PM EST 6 comments 25 8 17 0 Print / License AA To say that I am a football fan is an overstatement as big as New Orleans’ Superdome, though I’ve always had a soft spot for the San Francisco 49ers. But I gave up on “my team” and on the Super Bowl when the Baltimore Ravens’ lead reached 22 points, and switched to Tout le monde en parle, the talk show that normally rules Quebec airwaves on Sundays. MORE RELATED TO THIS STORY Redford calls on energy workers to raise the flag Alberta stands firm on Keystone Gaspé drilling ban assailed by pro-exploration factions ENERGY Video: How oil sands players are collaborating on environmental innovation VIDEO Video: Quebec considers updating common law legislation GALLERY From Leduc to the Bakken boom, big moments in Canada's modern age of oil So I missed the power outage and the 49ers’ spectacular comeback. But I did see Quebec’s Natural Resource Minister, Martine Ouellet, throw a couple of Hail Marys. This may come as a surprise to those who have heard of Quebeckers’ widespread disdain for the oil sands, but the province of cheap, abundant hydroelectricity has some big oil ambitions of its own. On the Radio-Canada talk show, Ms. Ouellet talked about the revenues that could be extracted from Quebec’s oil reserves. The Gaspé region could generate $35-billion, she said. The Anticosti Island? Between $200-billion and $300-billion. The Old Harry offshore deposit in the Gulf of St.-Lawrence? A whopping $500-billion! (A press officer corrected her Tuesday and said she had meant to say $50-billion, but still.) The show’s court jester, Dany Turcotte, was flabbergasted at those huge figures, which conjured up images of oil gushing from a swamp like in the opening of the old Beverly Hillbillies TV series. Until now, the reality has been very different. Quebec’s oil is hard to extract. In the past 10 years, junior resource companies poking the land have only succeeded in pumping a couple of hundred of very pricey barrels from exploration wells. “You have got to be careful before asserting that we are going to be as rich as Alberta,” says Jean-Yves Lavoie, chief executive officer of Junex, a Quebec exploration company. There is still a lot of work to be done. There is only one deposit close to being commercially viable, according to its promoter, Pétrolia Inc., and that is the Haldimand project near the town of Gaspé, where exploratory work is now halted. But Premier Pauline Marois is determined to see Quebec reduce its reliance on imported oil. And for a cash-strapped province that is cutting expenses in all departments to balance its books, extra oil royalties would ease some fiscal pain. Even Ms. Ouellet, a former water conservationist who denounced “fracking” as unsafe in her first days in a limousine, is officially riding along, although she advocates moving with extreme caution. Fracking is a technique that injects a chemically-laced solutions underground to fracture rock formations and release oil and gas. But Quebec’s three known oil regions are facing daunting obstacles. The Old Harry offshore deposit has become another battleground between Quebec and Newfoundland, with both provinces claiming jurisdiction over its riches. While there have been some seismic surveys on the Newfoundland side, there has been no exploratory work on the Quebec side of the disputed border, as the government awaits an environmental assessment of the fragile ecosystem. Since no drilling has been done, no one knows what Old Harry truly holds. “Chances are it’s natural gas, but when politicians take a hold of Old Harry, it turns into oil,” says Mr. Lavoie, a mining engineer. The Anticosti island, also in the Gulf, holds the best promise, according to Mr. Lavoie, whose exploration licences border the south of the island. Pétrolia concurs. Its licences and those of its partner Corridor Resources from Halifax cover the rest of the island; they hold 30.9 billion barrels of oil, according to an assessment by Sproule Associates Ltd. But most of this oil would only be accessible by fracking, not by conventional extraction methods, according to Pétrolia president and chairman André Proulx. And there is a de facto moratorium on fracking until Quebec completes its environmental review on the controversial technique. In the meantime, the former shale gas opponents are revving up the campaign to protect the sparsely populated wildlife sanctuary against oil production. This places the Marois government in an untenable position, as it opposed fracking for gas while apparently favouring it for the oil industry. Which leaves Gaspésie. There, Pétrolia temporarily halted its exploratory work on the Haldimand project because of the Gaspé mayor’s opposition on environmental grounds. Mr. Proulx believes the fear of ground water contamination is rubbish. “What they are truly trying to do is to get more municipal powers and a share of the mining royalties,” says Mr. Proulx, who hopes the province will settle the issue. Despite this setback, Pétrolia’s president remains a believer. “In theory, in five or six years time, we could supply half of all the oil Quebec consumes,” Mr. Proulx asserts. Only a vocal minority opposes oil production, this promoter says. Yet the Marois government will have to do a hell of a selling job. Because if recent history proves anything, that minority is what freezes energy development in Quebec – be it winter or summer.
  8. J'ai lu ça dans le Globe ce matin, mais rien nulle part ailleurs?? Si c'est vrai, ce serait alors un des plus gros projet d'infrastructure au Québec dans les prochaines années. OTTAWA — Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. is fighting for its survival, as industry supporters say the federal government is preparing to pull the plug on the heavily subsidized Crown corporation if it loses a bid to build two nuclear reactors in Ontario. If the nuclear agency loses the multi-billion-dollar contract to one of two global players, Ottawa would blame the McGuinty government for the nuclear agency's demise, according to sources. The two governments - which have battled on several fronts - are engaged in a quiet game of chicken over Canada's flagship nuclear vendor and its network of Candu suppliers. The Ontario government wants to be assured that Ottawa has a long-term commitment to the nuclear supplier before selecting its ACR1000 reactor, which is still under development. Ottawa, meanwhile, is considering selling the company, and the result of the highly competitive Ontario bid will be an important factor in its decision. "The [Ontario] competition has accelerated for the feds the whole question of what they are going to do with AECL and the ACR1000 reactor," said Bryne Purchase, a former deputy energy minister in Ontario and now director of the energy and environment program at Queen's University. "This is not just about selling a reactor in Canada, it's critical to AECL's plans to compete in the world." AECL is competing with two much-larger foreign vendors, France's Areva Group, and U.S.-based Westinghouse Electric Co. LLC. Both those companies have access to commercial-type financing from their export credit agencies, and both have more prospects for sales than AECL, meaning they can spread development costs among more projects. As a result, AECL and its partners, led by SNC-Lavalin Group Inc., have asked Ottawa to provide financing and risk-sharing in order to keep its costs competitive. Last week, Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn said the federal government stands behind AECL. In its most recent budget, the Harper government allocated $300-million to the Crown corporation to continue work on the ACR, and to refurbish its Chalk River research site. But some of AECL's Team Candu industry backers, which include Babcock & Wilcox Canada and GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy Canada, along with SNC-Lavalin Nuclear, worry that the Harper government is injecting just enough money into the company to prepare it for a sale, and to make a plausible - but not necessarily successful - run at the Ontario bid. They fear Ottawa will balk at providing the required billions of dollars in loan guarantees, nor will it wish, as AECL's lone shareholder, to assume the financial risk for potential cost overruns the province will almost certainly demand. AECL and its partners have acknowledged the critical nature of the Ontario decision for Team Candu. In a letter to Mr. Lunn obtained by The Globe and Mail, SNC-Lavalin Nuclear president Patrick Lamarre said an Ontario deal would be a "springboard to support our futures sales worldwide." Based on AECL's past share of the global nuclear market, Mr. Lamarre said the consortium could generate $100-billion for the Canadian economy. However, few people expect AECL to maintain its past market success, or match the heady prediction contained in its recently approved, five-year business plan that it will sell 25 reactors during the next 25 years, and four (including two in Ontario) during the next five years. In 1996, AECL forecast that it would sell 10 reactors over 10 years. It sold three - two to China and one to Romania, in a deal that was resuscitated from one that had begun under former dictator NicolaeCeausescu, and then was halted when his government collapsed. AECL got some good news yesterday for its booming business of refurbishing aged Candus. Hydro-Québec announced a $1.5-billion rebuild of its Gentilly-2 nuclear reactor, which will be completed by the federal corporation. Shawn-Patrick Stensil, an anti-nuclear campaigner for Greenpeace, said both levels of government appear to be looking to "outsource the blame" if AECL fails in Ontario and Ottawa decides to get out of the nuclear business. "The feds will blame the province and the province will say, 'We heeded the advice of outside experts,' " he said. (Ontario has set up an evaluation committee that includes its two nuclear operators, Ontario Power Generation and privately owned Bruce Power.) Since the Chinese and Romanian deals, AECL has been shut out of most promising markets, including the United States, which is itself heavily subsidizing the first few new reactors to be built in that country. Both Areva and General Electric Co. have expressed interest in buying AECL, which is prized for its existing reactor technology for smaller markets, its highly skilled work force, and its lucrative work in servicing Candu reactors around the world. Despite its challenges, however, AECL isn't out of the game in Ontario. While the province has said cost and on-time deliverability are key factors, a third one is the promise of industrial benefits for the province, and the Crown corporation has a deep supplier base in the province to give it an advantage on that score. At the same time, the province and the federal nuclear regulator have invested heavily in Candu know-how, and it will be costly to operate and regulate two
  9. ErickMontreal

    STM : Nouveaux abribus

    STM plans to build solar-powered bus shelters Panels could be used to power lighting * and illuminate revenue-producing ads By Monique Beaudin, The GazetteFebruary 2, 2009 Montreal’s public-transit agency is planning to spend $14.4 million to buy 400 new bus shelters – some of which would use solar panels to provide electricity. The new shelters need an energy source to allow the Société de transport de Montréal to use new tools to provide customer service and advertising. In some cases the shelters would be powered by solar energy, in others the shelters would be linked into a local source of electricity. Several other cities – including London, Vancouver and Toronto – already have bus shelters that use solar panels to charge batteries that power their lighting systems. Blainville, north of Mont-real, put up four such shelters in October and plans to replace all its bus shelters with solar-powered ones by 2010, said spokesperson Yves Meunier. Blainville’s plan was to make their bus shelters self-financing, by using revenue generated from selling advertising in the shelters. For that they needed an energy source to illuminate the ads. “People selling advertising want the ads to be visible for a certain number of hours every day, especially during the winter,” Meunier said. Blainville’s bus shelters – which cost about $30,000 each – were designed and built by a local firm, Meunier said. The city will recycle the old shelters by selling them to other municipalities, he added. The STM also expects that by selling ad space in its new shelters they’ll pay for themselves over a 10-year period. While the STM has already tested several different kinds of solar-powered bus shelters, spokesperson Isabelle Tremblay said the agency hasn’t chosen a specific bus shelter model to buy yet. The transit agency is still waiting for the results of a bus-shelter design contest announced by Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay last September. Tremblay called on the city’s designers to come up with new ideas for five things – the Champs de Mars métro station, the eastern wall of the courthouse, bus shelters, taxis and temporary festival furniture. Design Montreal has not yet launched the contest, spokesperson Stéphanie Jecrois said yesterday. The agency is still meeting with its partners to determine how the contest will work, but she said the contest details should be announced with a few weeks. The contest will be held in 2009, she said. Meanwhile, at the STM, Tremblay said the agency will only go to tender for new bus shelters after the Design Montreal contest wraps up. The STM now has 2,977 bus shelters, serving about one-third of its bus stops. It would like to install 100 new bus shelters over the next two years, and 100 more each year from 2011 to 2013. mbeaudin@thegazette.canwest.com © Copyright © The Montreal Gazette
  10. A cautionary tale: Cheap glass window wall is not suitable for our climate http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/story/2011/11/13/tor-glass-walled-condos.html Thermal Window Failure: How it Happens A Developer's Change of Heart Engineering Buildings to Perform Audio and Video Highlights Many of the glass condominium towers filling up the Toronto skyline will fail 15 to 25 years after they’re built, perhaps even earlier, and will need retrofits costing millions of dollars, say some industry experts. Buyers drawn to glass-walled condos because of the price and spectacular views may soon find themselves grappling with major problems including: Insulation failures. Water leaks. Skyrocketing energy and maintenance costs. Declining resale potential. Glass condominiums — known in the industry as window walls — have floor-to-ceiling glass, so essentially the window becomes the wall. Window walls generally span from the top of the concrete slab right to the bottom. The slow-motion failure of Toronto's glass condos http://www.cbc.ca/toronto/features/condos/ Over the past decade, Toronto's building boom has been dominated by tall glass condo towers. They've transformed the look of city skylines all over the world – especially here in Toronto, where according to Emporis.comwe've built more towers per capita than any other city in North America. But it may be a trend that puts style over substance. A small but growing chorus is sounding the alarm about the future of these buildings. Building scientists have known for a long time that glass-walled structures are less energy efficient than the stone and concrete buildings that were put up forty of fifty years ago. But the market demand for glass combined with the relatively low cost of glass-wall construction means the building industry has been happy to oblige. However, industry insiders warn that as energy costs climb, glass towers may become the "pariah" buildings of the future. In these stories, we explore the hidden costs of building with glass and the slow-motion failure of window walls. We also look at why the Ontario Building Code failed to make energy performance a priority, and meet a developer who is reconsidering the construction of such buildings. Building science consultant and University of Waterloo professor John Straube wrote a paper called Can Highly Glazed Building Facades be Green? View Paper [1MB .pdf] http://www.cbc.ca/toronto/features/condos/pdf/condo_conundrum.pdf John Straube John Straube, a building science consultant and professor in the Department of Civil Engineering and School of Architecture at the University of Waterloo says glass condos are a "perfect reflection" of a society that's found it easier to throw things away than to build them to last. "We have a hard time," says Straube, "thinking five years when we buy a laptop, ten years when we buy a car. With these buildings – both the skin and the mechanical systems are going to have to be redone in a 25-year time frame. The concrete structure will be there a long time but in 20, 25 years time, we are going to see a lot of scaffolding on the outside of the buildings as we replace the glazing, sealants and the glass itself." Although falling glass from the condo balconies has attracted most of the public attention during the summer of 2011, building scientists warn that the long-term failure of the glass structures – although less sensational – is much more serious. More: how thermal window failure happens Window-wall systems Most of them are built using window-wall systems which have next to no insulation value, except for a half inch of heavy gas between the two panels of glass. As John Straube points out, what glass does really well is conduct heat. "A little experiment anyone can do at home is get a glass for drinking. Pour boiling water into it, and try and pick it up. You'll burn yourself." Straube, along with building science colleagues like Ted Kesik at the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture at the University of Toronto, warns that as energy costs climb, the costs of heating and cooling glass towers will increase the monthly fees. Kesik wrote a paper called The Glass Condo Conundrum (250KB .pdf) on the potential liabilities of glass towers. The Glass Condo Conundrum It's not just the energy costs. Glass structures require major maintenance much earlier in their life cycle than a traditional structure made of precast or brick. Straube warns maintenance costs will skyrocket in 20 to 25 years' time as the buildings age. The windows will begin to fog up, and the cost of replacing entire walls of glass will be prohibitive on highrise structures that can only be accessed from swing stages. Building scientists talk about the life cycle of a building, akin to a human life cycle, language that encourages people like Straube to see a building as an organism. "It has lungs," says Straube, "it has veins, all of that stuff – it has a structural skeleton." To Straube, a building is a living, breathing thing, enclosing the people who live inside. Building with glass walls is to miss the main point of a building, says Straube – sacrificing the protection that is a building's first duty for a beauty that is only skin-deep. "It's almost derogatory in my world," says Straube, "to forget about everything else that's part of experiencing a building. I like to think what is this building going to be like on a dark and stormy night. In our climate particularly, we care about that. It's life and death." Audio Introduction Matt Galloway spoke with Mary Wiens about the series. Listen (runs 6:11) Part One Mary Wiens introduces us to people concerned about the hidden costs of glass walls. Listen (runs 6:48) Part Two A developer of glass towers tells us why he will never put up another one. Listen (runs 6:28) Part Three Mary Wiens asks engineers about the rise, and repair, of the glass towers. Listen (runs 6:38) Part Four Mary Wiens tours a new condominium with a young couple and their real estate agent. Listen (runs 6:50) Part Five Mary Wiens tells us about a solution that has helped produce more efficient cars and appliances, an approach that may have potential for condominiums as well. Listen (runs 6:59) Video Part One: How glass fails John Lancaster talks to David House about the potential problems facing owners of glass condos in Toronto. Watch (runs 3:16) Part Two: Hidden costs Kamela and Jason Hurlbut are looking for their first dream home but there are hidden costs to living in Toronto's glass condos. Watch (runs 3:19) Part Three: The ripple effect If I can't sell my condo, I can't buy your home. John Lancaster looks at the possible ripple effect in Toronto's real estate market. Watch (runs 3:48)
  11. Article January 14, 2011 By KEITH BRADSHER BEIJING — Aided by at least $43 million in assistance from the government of Massachusetts and an innovative solar energy technology, Evergreen Solar emerged in the last three years as the third-largest maker of solar panels in the United States. But now the company is closing its main American factory, laying off the 800 workers by the end of March and shifting production to a joint venture with a Chinese company in central China. Evergreen cited the much higher government support available in China. The factory closing in Devens, Mass., which Evergreen announced earlier this week, has set off political recriminations and finger-pointing in Massachusetts. And it comes just as President Hu Jintao of China is scheduled for a state visit next week to Washington, where the agenda is likely to include tensions between the United States and China over trade and energy policy. The Obama administration has been investigating whether China has violated the free trade rules of the World Trade Organization with its extensive subsidies to the manufacturers of solar panels and other clean energy products. While a few types of government subsidies are permitted under international trade agreements, they are not supposed to give special advantages to exports — something that China’s critics accuse it of doing. The Chinese government has strongly denied that any of its clean energy policies have violated W.T.O. rules. Although solar energy still accounts for only a tiny fraction of American power production, declining prices and concerns about global warming give solar power a prominent place in United States plans for a clean energy future — even if critics say the federal government is still not doing enough to foster its adoption. Beyond the issues of trade and jobs, solar power experts see broader implications. They say that after many years of relying on unstable governments in the Middle East for oil, the United States now looks likely to rely on China to tap energy from the sun. Evergreen, in announcing its move to China, was unusually candid about its motives. Michael El-Hillow, the chief executive, said in a statement that his company had decided to close the Massachusetts factory in response to plunging prices for solar panels. World prices have fallen as much as two-thirds in the last three years — including a drop of 10 percent during last year’s fourth quarter alone. Chinese manufacturers, Mr. El-Hillow said in the statement, have been able to push prices down sharply because they receive considerable help from the Chinese government and state-owned banks, and because manufacturing costs are generally lower in China. “While the United States and other Western industrial economies are beneficiaries of rapidly declining installation costs of solar energy, we expect the United States will continue to be at a disadvantage from a manufacturing standpoint,” he said. Even though Evergreen opened its Devens plant, with all new equipment, only in 2008, it began talks with Chinese companies in early 2009. In September 2010, the company opened its factory in Wuhan, China, and will now rely on that operation. An Evergreen spokesman said Mr. El-Hillow was not available to comment for this article. Other solar panel manufacturers are also struggling in the United States. Solyndra, a Silicon Valley business, received a visit from President Obama in May and a $535 million federal loan guarantee, only to say in November that it was shutting one of its two American plants and would delay expansion of the other. First Solar, an American company, is one of the world’s largest solar power vendors. But most of its products are made overseas. Chinese solar panel manufacturers accounted for slightly over half the world’s production last year. Their share of the American market has grown nearly sixfold in the last two years, to 23 percent in 2010 and is still rising fast, according to GTM Research, a renewable energy market analysis firm in Cambridge, Mass. In addition to solar energy, China just passed the United States as the world’s largest builder and installer of wind turbines. The closing of the Evergreen factory has prompted finger-pointing in Massachusetts. Ian A. Bowles, the former energy and environment chief for Gov. Deval L. Patrick, a Democrat who pushed for the solar panel factory to be located in Massachusetts, said the federal government had not helped the American industry enough or done enough to challenge Chinese government subsidies for its industry. Evergreen has received no federal money. “The federal government has brought a knife to a gun fight,” Mr. Bowles said. “Its support is completely out of proportion to the support displayed by China — and even to that in Europe.” Stephanie Mueller, the Energy Department press secretary, said the department was committed to supporting renewable energy. “Through our Loan Program Office we have offered conditional commitments for loan guarantees to 16 clean energy projects totaling nearly $16.5 billion,” she said. “We have finalized and closed half of those loan guarantees, and the program has ramped up significantly over the last year to move projects through the process quickly and efficiently while protecting taxpayer interests.” Evergreen did not try to go through the long, costly process of obtaining a federal loan because of what it described last summer as signals from the department that its technology was too far along and not in need of research and development assistance. The Energy Department has a policy of not commenting on companies that do not apply. Evergreen was selling solar panels made in Devens for $3.39 a watt at the end of 2008 and planned to cut its costs to $2 a watt by the end of last year — a target it met. But Evergreen found that by the end of the fourth quarter, it could fetch only $1.90 a watt for its Devens-made solar panels, while Chinese manufacturers were selling them for as little as $1 a watt. Evergreen’s joint-venture factory in Wuhan occupies a long, warehouselike concrete building in an industrial park located in an inauspicious neighborhood. A local employee said the municipal police had used the site for mass executions into the 1980s. When a reporter was given a rare tour inside the building just before it began mass production in September, the operation appeared as modern as any in the world. Row after row of highly automated equipment stretched toward the two-story-high ceiling in an immaculate, brightly lighted white hall. Chinese technicians closely watched the computer screens monitoring each step in the production processes. In a telephone interview in August, Mr. El-Hillow said that he was desperate to avoid layoffs at the Devens factory. But he said Chinese state-owned banks and municipal governments were offering unbeatable assistance to Chinese solar panel companies. Factory labor is cheap in China, where monthly wages average less than $300. That compares to a statewide average of more than $5,400 a month for Massachusetts factory workers. But labor is a tiny share of the cost of running a high-tech solar panel factory, Mr. El-Hillow said. China’s real advantage lies in the ability of solar panel companies to form partnerships with local governments and then obtain loans at very low interest rates from state-owned banks. Evergreen, with help from its partners — the Wuhan municipal government and the Hubei provincial government — borrowed two-thirds of the cost of its Wuhan factory from two Chinese banks, at an interest rate that under certain conditions could go as low as 4.8 percent, Mr. El-Hillow said in August. Best of all, no principal payments or interest payments will be due until the end of the loan in 2015. By contrast, a $21 million grant from Massachusetts covered 5 percent of the cost of the Devens factory, and the company had to borrow the rest from banks, Mr. El-Hillow said. Banks in the United States were reluctant to provide the rest of the money even at double-digit interest rates, partly because of the financial crisis. “Therein lies the hidden advantage of being in China,” Mr. El-Hillow said. Devens, as the site of a former military base, is a designated enterprise zone eligible for state financial support. State Senator Jamie Eldridge, a Democrat whose district includes Devens, said he was initially excited for Evergreen to come to his district, but even before the announced loss of 800 jobs, he had come to oppose such large corporate assistance. “I think there’s been a lot of hurt feelings over these subsidies to companies, while a lot of communities around the former base have not seen development money,” he said. Michael McCarthy, a spokesman for Evergreen, said the company had already met 80 percent of the grant’s job creation target by employing up to 800 factory workers since 2008 and should owe little money to the state. Evergreen also retains about 100 research and administrative jobs in Massachusetts. The company also received about $22 million in tax credits, and it will discuss those with Massachusetts, he said. Evergreen has had two unique problems that made its Devens factory vulnerable to Chinese competition. It specializes in an unusual kind of wafer, making it hard to share research and development costs with other companies. And it was hurt when Lehman Brothers went bankrupt in 2008; Evergreen lost one-seventh of its outstanding shares in a complex transaction involving convertible notes. But many other Western solar power companies are also running into trouble, as competition from China coincides with uncertainty about the prices at which Western regulators will let solar farms sell electricity to national grids. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, shares in solar companies fell an average of 26 percent last year. Evergreen’s stock, which traded above $100 in late 2007, closed Friday in New York at $3.03. Tom Zeller Jr. in New York and Katie Zezima in Boston contributed reporting.
  12. (Courtesy of The Financial Post) Plus they forgot, soon to be one of the largest producers of lithium. Thing is the US could get all their "black gold" from the Bakken Formation (part of it is in Canada but the rest is in the US). Here some info on the Bakken: Research
  13. Offshore Wind Power Line Wins Praise, and Backing By MATTHEW L. WALD Correction Appended WASHINGTON — Google and a New York financial firm have each agreed to invest heavily in a proposed $5 billion transmission backbone for future offshore wind farms along the Atlantic Seaboard that could ultimately transform the region’s electrical map. The 350-mile underwater spine, which could remove some critical obstacles to wind power development, has stirred excitement among investors, government officials and environmentalists who have been briefed on it. Google and Good Energies, an investment firm specializing in renewable energy, have each agreed to take 37.5 percent of the equity portion of the project. They are likely to bring in additional investors, which would reduce their stakes. If they hold on to their stakes, that would come to an initial investment of about $200 million apiece in the first phase of construction alone, said Robert L. Mitchell, the chief executive of Trans-Elect, the Maryland-based transmission-line company that proposed the venture. Marubeni, a Japanese trading company, has taken a 15 percent stake. Trans-Elect said it hoped to begin construction in 2013. Several government officials praised the idea underlying the project as ingenious, while cautioning that they could not prejudge the specifics. “Conceptually it looks to me to be one of the most interesting transmission projects that I’ve ever seen walk through the door,” said Jon Wellinghoff, the chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which oversees interstate electricity transmission. “It provides a gathering point for offshore wind for multiple projects up and down the coast.” Industry experts called the plan promising, but warned that as a first-of-a-kind effort, it was bound to face bureaucratic delays and could run into unforeseen challenges, from technology problems to cost overruns. While several undersea electrical cables exist off the Atlantic Coast already, none has ever picked up power from generators along the way. The system’s backbone cable, with a capacity of 6,000 megawatts, equal to the output of five large nuclear reactors, would run in shallow trenches on the seabed in federal waters 15 to 20 miles offshore, from northern New Jersey to Norfolk, Va. The notion would be to harvest energy from turbines in an area where the wind is strong but the hulking towers would barely be visible. Trans-Elect estimated that construction would cost $5 billion, plus financing and permit fees. The $1.8 billion first phase, a 150-mile stretch from northern New Jersey to Rehoboth Beach, Del., could go into service by early 2016, it said. The rest would not be completed until 2021 at the earliest. Richard L. Needham, the director of Google’s green business operations group, called the plan “innovative and audacious.” “It is an opportunity to kick-start this industry and, long term, provide a way for the mid-Atlantic states to meet their renewable energy goals,” he said. Yet even before any wind farms were built, the cable would channel existing supplies of electricity from southern Virginia, where it is cheap, to northern New Jersey, where it is costly, bypassing one of the most congested parts of the North American electric grid while lowering energy costs for northern customers. Generating electricity from offshore wind is far more expensive than relying on coal, natural gas or even onshore wind. But energy experts anticipate a growing demand for the offshore turbines to meet state requirements for greater reliance on local renewable energy as a clean alternative to fossil fuels. Four connection points — in southern Virginia, Delaware, southern New Jersey and northern New Jersey — would simplify the job of bringing the energy onshore, involving fewer permit hurdles. In contrast to transmission lines on land, where a builder may have to deal with hundreds of property owners, this project would have to deal with a maximum of just four, and fewer than that in its first phase. Ultimately the system, known as the Atlantic Wind Connection, could make building a wind farm offshore far simpler and cheaper than it looks today, experts said. Environmentalists who have been briefed on the plan were enthusiastic. Melinda Pierce, the deputy director for national campaigns at the Sierra Club, said she had campaigned against proposed transmission lines that would carry coal-fired energy around the country, but would favor this one, with its promise of tapping the potential of offshore wind. “These kinds of audacious ideas might just be what we need to break through the wretched logjam,” she said. Projects like Cape Wind, proposed for shallow waters just off Cape Cod in Massachusetts, met with fierce objections from residents who felt it would mar the ocean vista. But sponsors of the Trans-Elect project insist that the mid-Atlantic turbines would have less of a visual impact. The hurdles facing the project have more to do with administrative procedures than with engineering problems or its economic merit, several experts said. By the time the Interior Department could issue permits for such a line, for example, the federal subsidy program for wind will have expired in 2012, said Willett M. Kempton, a professor at the School of Marine Science and Policy at the University of Delaware and the author of several papers on offshore wind. Another is that PJM Interconnection, the regional electricity group that would have to approve the project and assess its member utilities for the cost, has no integrated procedure for calculating the value of all three tasks the line would accomplish — hooking up new power generation, reducing congestion on the grid and improving reliability. And elected officials in Virginia have in the past opposed transmission proposals that would tend to average out pricing across the mid-Atlantic states, possibly raising their constituents’ costs. But the lure of Atlantic wind is very strong. The Atlantic Ocean is relatively shallow even tens of miles from shore, unlike the Pacific, where the sea floor drops away steeply. Construction is also difficult on the Great Lakes because their waters are deep and they freeze, raising the prospect of moving ice sheets that could damage a tower. Nearly all of the East Coast governors, Republican and Democratic, have spoken enthusiastically about coastal wind and have fought proposals for transmission lines from the other likely wind source, the Great Plains. “From Massachusetts down to Virginia, the governors have signed appeals to the Senate not to do anything that would lead to a high-voltage grid that would blanket the country and bring in wind from the Dakotas,” said James J. Hoecker, a former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, who now is part of a nonprofit group that represents transmission owners. He described an Atlantic transmission backbone as “a necessary piece of what the Eastern governors have been talking about in terms of taking advantage of offshore wind.” So far only one offshore wind project, Bluewater Wind off Delaware, has sought permission to build in federal waters. The company is seeking federal loan guarantees to build 293 to 450 megawatts of capacity, but the timing of construction remains uncertain. Executives with that project said the Atlantic backbone was an interesting idea, in part because it would foster development of a supply chain for the specialized parts needed for offshore wind. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, whose agency would have to sign off on the project, has spoken approvingly of wind energy and talked about the possibility of an offshore “backbone.” In a speech this month, he emphasized that the federal waters were “controlled by the secretary,” meaning him. Within three miles of the shore, control is wielded by the state. Nonetheless, if the offshore wind farms are built on a vast scale, the project’s sponsors say, a backbone with just four connection points could expedite the approval process. In fact, if successful, the transmission spine would reduce the regulatory burden on subsequent projects, said Mr. Mitchell, the Trans-Elect chief executive. Mr. Kempton of the University of Delaware and Mr. Wellinghoff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said the backbone would offer another plus: reducing one of wind power’s big problems, variability of output. “Along the U.S. Atlantic seaboard, we tend to have storm tracks that move along the coast and somewhat offshore,” Mr. Kempton said. If storm winds were blowing on Friday off Virginia, they might be off Delaware by Saturday and off New Jersey by Sunday, he noted. Yet the long spine would ensure that the amount of energy coming ashore held roughly constant. Wind energy becomes more valuable when it is more predictable; if predictable enough, it could replace some land-based generation altogether, Mr. Kempton said. But the economics remain uncertain, he warned, For now, he said, the biggest impediment may be that the market price of offshore wind energy is about 50 percent higher than that of energy generated on land. With a change in market conditions — an increase in the price of natural gas, for example, or the adoption of a tax on emissions of carbon dioxide from coal- or gas-generated electricity — that could change, he said. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/12/science/earth/12wind.html?hp
  14. St. Lawrence River to become a power plant? Tue Jul 27, 2:03 PM By The Canadian Press MONTREAL - The mighty St. Lawrence River will soon be home to a power-generating pilot project that could one day churn in rivers across Canada. The company that builds the underwater river turbines says the test phase will start off small, producing enough energy to power 750 homes. But RSW Inc. president Georges Dick says the technology has huge potential in Canada's biggest waterways, including the Mackenzie, Peace and Fraser rivers. The federal and provincial governments are funding one-third of the $18 million project. Federal Natural Resources Minister Christian Paradis says it's a low-cost, renewable energy source that will create hundreds of jobs. Paradis insists the spinning blades inside the three-metre-high turbines will not have an impact on underwater wildlife. The pilot project will see two turbines plunked into water off the shores of Montreal in the coming weeks. Quebec hopes to eventually use the technology to power its northern communities, which rely heavily on polluting diesel-fuelled generators.
  15. I'm not sure if this is "urban tech", in that it probably isn't something that's applicable in a variety of scenarios, nor if it has already been talked about on this site, but regardless, i still think it's worth mentioning. -------------------- Solar City Tower for Rio Olympics is a Giant Energy Generating Waterfall by Bridgette Meinhold, 03/19/10 This renewable energy generating tower located on the coast of Rio is one of the first buildings we’ve seen designed for the 2016 Rio Olympics, and boy, is it crazy! (In case you didn’t notice, it’s also a waterfall.) The Solar City Tower is designed by Zurich-based RAFAA Architecture & Design, and features a large solar system to generate power during the day and a pumped water storage system to generate power at night. RAFAA’s goal is that a symbolic tower such as this can serve as a starting point for a global green movement and help make the 2016 Olympic Games more sustainable. The self-sustaining tower for the 2016 Olympic Games is designed to create renewable energy for use in the Olympic Village as well as the city of Rio. A large solar power plant generates energy during the day. Any excess power not used during the day is utilized to pump seawater into a storage tank within the tower. At night, the water is released to power turbines, which will provide nighttime power for the city. On special occasions water is pumped out to create a waterfall over the edges of the building, which RAFAA says will be, “a symbol for the forces of nature.” Info on the size of the solar and pumped water storage system is not available yet. Access to the eco tower is gained through an urban plaza and amphitheater 60 meters above sea level, which can be used for social gatherings. On the ocean side of the 105 meter tower (behind the waterfall) is a cafeteria and shop. An elevator takes visitors up to the top floor where an observation deck offers 360 views of the ocean and city. At level 90.5, a bungee platform is available for adventurous visitors. Link to article: http://www.inhabitat.com/2010/03/19/solar-city-tower-for-rio-olympics-giant-energy-generating-waterfall/ -------------------- if for nothing else, the renderings look kinda cool. wonder if you could have such a waterfall flowing off our own olympic tower ? or would that risk to bring in even more toilet jokes ? .. ..
  16. SolarBotanic is a company which researches and specializes in an emerging tech dubbed biomimicry -- which seeks to mimic nature, and use nature-inspired methods to solve human problems. SolarBotanic is focusing on energy production, and, to that end, they've developed what they call Energy Harvesting Trees. The trees aren't "real," (they're just modeled on real ones); these are composed of Nanoleafs, which use nanotechnology designed to capture the "sun's energy in photovoltaic and thermovoltaic cells, then convert the radiation into electricity." They also have stems and twigs which house nano-piezovoltaic material which act as generators producing electricity from movement or kinetic energy caused by wind or rain. The company has several patents on the technology already, and are currently seeking partners for funding and development. We don't really have any details about what these fake trees look like -- but Thom Yorke's probably going to write a song about them. Press release: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2009/02/prweb2133164.htm
  17. LindbergMTL

    Farms in the Sky Gain New Interest

    The New York Times July 15, 2008 Country, the City Version: By BINA VENKATARAMAN What if “eating local” in Shanghai or New York meant getting your fresh produce from five blocks away? And what if skyscrapers grew off the grid, as verdant, self-sustaining towers where city slickers cultivated their own food? Dickson Despommier, a professor of public health at Columbia University, hopes to make these zucchini-in-the-sky visions a reality. Dr. Despommier’s pet project is the “vertical farm,” a concept he created in 1999 with graduate students in his class on medical ecology, the study of how the environment and human health interact. The idea, which has captured the imagination of several architects in the United States and Europe in the past several years, just caught the eye of another big city dreamer: Scott M. Stringer, the Manhattan borough president. When Mr. Stringer heard about the concept in June, he said he immediately pictured a “food farm” addition to the New York City skyline. “Obviously we don’t have vast amounts of vacant land,” he said in a phone interview. “But the sky is the limit in Manhattan.” Mr. Stringer’s office is “sketching out what it would take to pilot a vertical farm,” and plans to pitch a feasibility study to the mayor’s office within the next couple of months, he said. “I think we can really do this,” he added. “We could get the funding.” Dr. Despommier estimates that it would cost $20 million to $30 million to make a prototype of a vertical farm, but hundreds of millions to build one of the 30-story towers that he suggests could feed 50,000 people. “I’m viewed as kind of an outlier because it’s kind of a crazy idea,” Dr. Despommier, 68, said with a chuckle. “You’d think these are mythological creatures.” Dr. Despommier, whose name in French means “of the apple trees,” has been spreading the seeds of his radical idea in lectures and through his Web site. He says his ideas are supported by hydroponic vegetable research done by NASA and are made more feasible by the potential to use sun, wind and wastewater as energy sources. Several observers have said Dr. Despommier’s sky-high dreams need to be brought down to earth. “Why does it have to be 30 stories?” said Jerry Kaufman, professor emeritus of urban and regional planning at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. “Why can’t it be six stories? There’s some exciting potential in the concept, but I think he overstates what can be done.” Armando Carbonell, chairman of the department of planning and urban form at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy in Cambridge, Mass., called the idea “very provocative.” But it requires a rigorous economic analysis, he added. “Would a tomato in lower Manhattan be able to outbid an investment banker for space in a high-rise? My bet is that the investment banker will pay more.” Mr. Carbonell questions if a vertical farm could deliver the energy savings its supporters promise. “There’s embodied energy in the concrete and steel and in construction,” he said, adding that the price of land in the city would still outweigh any savings from not having to transport food from afar. “I believe that this general relationship is going to hold, even as transportation costs go up and carbon costs get incorporated into the economic system.” Some criticism is quite helpful. Stephen Colbert jokingly asserted that vertical farming was elitist when Dr. Despommier appeared in June on “The Colbert Report,” a visit that led to a jump in hits to the project’s Web site from an average of 400 daily to 400,000 the day after the show. Dr. Despommier agrees that more research is needed, and calls the energy calculations his students made for the farms, which would rely solely on alternative energy, “a little bit too optimistic.” He added, “I’m a biologist swimming in very deep water right now.” “If I were to set myself as a certifier of vertical farms, I would begin with security,” he said. “How do you keep insects and bacteria from invading your crops?” He says growing food in climate-controlled skyscrapers would also protect against hail and other weather-related hazards, ensuring a higher quality food supply for a city, without pesticides or chemical fertilizers. Architects’ renderings of vertical farms — hybrids of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and Biosphere 2 with SimCity appeal — seem to be stirring interest. “It also has to be stunning in terms of the architecture, because it needs to work in terms of social marketing,” Dr. Despommier said. “You want people to say, ‘I want that in my backyard.’ ” Augustin Rosenstiehl, a French architect who worked with Dr. Despommier to design a template “living tower,” said he thought that any vertical farm proposal needed to be adapted to a specific place. Mr. Rosenstiehl, principal architect for Atelier SOA in Paris, said: “We cannot do a project without knowing where and why and what we are going to cultivate. For example, in Paris, if you grow some wheat, it’s stupid because we have big fields all around the city and lots of wheat and it’s good wheat. There’s no reason to build towers that are very expensive.” Despite its potential problems, the idea of bringing food closer to the city is gaining traction among pragmatists and dreamers alike. A smaller-scale design of a vertical farm for downtown Seattle won a regional green building contest in 2007 and has piqued the interest of officials in Portland, Ore. The building, a Center for Urban Agriculture designed by architects at Mithun, would supply about a third of the food needed for the 400 people who would live there. In June at P.S.1 Contemporary Arts Center in Queens, a husband-wife architect team built a solar-powered outdoor farm out of stacked rows of cardboard tube planters — one that would not meet Dr. Despommier’s security requirements — with chicken coops for egg collection and an array of fruits and vegetables. For Dr. Despommier, the high-rise version is on the horizon. “It’s very idealistic and ivory tower and all of that,” he said. “But there’s a real desire to make this happen.” ---------------- Peut-être pour Dubai en premier? Et le silo no.5, un de ses jours?
  18. ErickMontreal

    Officiel: Hydro-Québec achète Énergie NB

    Hydro-Quebec and NB Power : Power talks continue Last Updated: Thursday, October 22, 2009 | 8:54 PM AT CBC News Opposition Leader David Alward says Premier Shawn Graham has a responsibility to be clear to New Brunswickers.Opposition Leader David Alward says Premier Shawn Graham has a responsibility to be clear to New Brunswickers. (CBC)New Brunswick Opposition Leader David Alward is calling on Premier Shawn Graham to clear the air about the future of NB Power and say whether it is for sale. Alward said he's been hearing speculation that Hydro-Québec, the provincial energy utility, wants to buy NB Power, a provincial Crown corporation. "It's important at this time that the premier be transparent, be open to New Brunswickers," he said. "If these are just rumours, if this isn't true, then he has the opportunity to tell New Brunswickers. He has the responsibility. If they are true, he has a responsibility to tell New Brunswickers what's going on." Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams told CBC News he has also heard rumours about a possible deal between NB Power and Hydro-Québec. In a statement Thursday, his communications director, Elizabeth Matthews, said Williams "can't imagine the people of New Brunswick would allow their government to sell their energy asset and put that power into someone else's hands." Graham began discussions with Quebec Premier Jean Charest last summer about energy issues, including possible relationships between Hydro-Québec and NB Power. Those talks spawned rumours that NB Power would be sold to Hydro-Québec. Late Thursday, Graham's office issued a statement that neither confirms nor denies those rumours. "We're having a variety of conversations with Quebec, but they have not concluded," said Graham's communications director, Jordan O'Brien. "It's not in anybody's interest to talk about a possible outcome." NB Power has been owned by the province since 1920. In the last provincial election, Graham promised to keep it as a publicly owned utility. ________________________________________________________________ N.L. premier watching N.B., Quebec energy talks Fri Oct 23, 7:06 AM Reports that have been circulating in New Brunswick about the possible sale of that province's energy utility have the attention of the premier of Newfoundland and Labrador. In a statement Thursday, Danny Williams's communications director, Elizabeth Matthews, said the premier "can't imagine the people of New Brunswick would allow their government to sell their energy asset and put that power into someone else's hands." The rumours say that New Brunswick is on the verge of a deal to sell its utility NB Power to Hydro-Québec. New Brunswick Premier Shawn Graham isn't commenting. But the province's Progressive Conservative Leader David Alward is calling on Graham to clear the air about the future of NB Power and say whether it is for sale. Alward said he's been hearing speculation that Hydro-Québec, the provincial energy utility, wants to buy NB Power, a provincial Crown corporation. "It's important at this time that the premier be transparent, be open to New Brunswickers," he said. "If these are just rumours, if this isn't true, then he has the opportunity to tell New Brunswickers. He has the responsibility. If they are true, he has a responsibility to tell New Brunswickers what's going on." Graham began discussions with Quebec Premier Jean Charest last summer about energy issues, including possible relationships between Hydro-Québec and NB Power. Those talks spawned the rumours that NB Power would be sold to Hydro-Québec. Late Thursday, Graham's office issued a statement that neither confirms nor denies the possibility. "We're having a variety of conversations with Quebec, but they have not concluded," said Graham's communications director, Jordan O'Brien. "It's not in anybody's interest to talk about a possible outcome." NB Power has been owned by the province since 1920. In the last provincial election, Graham promised to keep it as a publicly owned utility. À lire les commentaires sur le site de la CBC, je crois que les gens du NB sont en désaccords, bref du bon vieux Quebec-bashing comme on l'aime. Ceci est très divertissant par contre. Enfin, de dire que le Canada n'est pas vraiment divisé en deux solitudes indifférentes tient purement du délire.