Green Tech Regional Report: 7-13-11

In this edition of the Green Tech Regional Report, we’re looking at plant-shaped solar panels, vehicular innovation, and national policies. We’ll start off on a national scale. On July 7, the EPA released the Cross State Air Pollution Rule, which will require power plants to reduce sulfur dioxide by 73% of its 2005 levels and nitrogen oxide emissions by 54% by the start of next year. The new levels must be met by 2014, and the levels are much lower than those initially proposed. However, some states are not pleased, saying that the time frame is unreasonably short.

In Brooklyn, NY, Solar Ivy solves the problem of the aesthetic (or lack thereof) of solar panels. Solar Ivy’s small, leaf-shaped solar cells are designed to resemble ivy growing on a building, and can be custom-colored to accommodate their setting, and their modular nature allows for a wide variety of setups. Perhaps something like this could placate those pesky homeowners’ associations.

Solar Ivy

image via Solar Ivy

Blue Bird, most known for their big, bright-yellow school buses, announced to School Transportation News that it has developed a liquid-propane-powered school bus, designed to be more fuel-efficient and more powerful. The bus will be on display at the STN Expo, a showcase for school transportation vehicles in Reno, NV.

Finally some good news about McDonald’s: The US-based company has decided to convert its fleet of over 80 trucks in the United Arab Emirates to 100% biodiesel, with its own restaurants’ used fryer oil serving as fuel. Maybe they should try it in the US next?

In Philadelphia, PA, Randy Schulz is  beginning a business hub in a previously empty house in the Navy Yard, where he hopes to attract Israeli cleantech startups in America. Schulz is focusing on clean technology, and sees the South Philadelphia area as a potential center for cleantech businesses.

In Boulder, CO, Pike Research, who specializes in cleantech marketing, determined that automation of the distribution infrastructure of smart grids is key in their development. Distribution automation, their study shows, would make the grid more efficient and smarter. The study stresses the importance of internal development of smart grids as well as development in the consumer-facing end.

Also in Boulder, candy company JJ’s Sweets, known for making candies with organic and natural ingredients, joined the Boulder Innovation Center, a business incubator, as reported by the Boulder County Business Report. This incubator counsels small businesses in traditional areas like marketing and advertising, but also provides information on the use of clean technology and renewable energy.

In international news, France has become the first nation to ban the controversial oil- and natural gas-extracting technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or, more commonly, “fracking.” France’s Parliament voted it down late last month, deciding that the risks involved were too great to allow the procedure.

Laura Caseley is a graduate of SUNY New Paltz and a resident of New York State’s Hudson Valley. She writes for several publications and when she’s not writing, she can usually be found painting in her makeshift studio or enjoying the scenery of her hometown.