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Renewables Roundup: United, Boeing, Downdraft Towers, Top Gear, Taliesin West

United Airlines, Boeing, Honeywell UOP, the Chicago Department of Aviation and the Clean Energy Trust have formed the Midwest Aviation Sustainable Biofuels Initiative (MASBI), designed to advance aviation biofuel development in a 12-state region. The initiative has four stages—stakeholder engagement, research, report writing and synthesis—each implemented over a 12-month period. MASBI partners say they will publish a roadmap and action plan in the first half of 2013.

Clean Wind Energy is moving forward with plans to build two renewable energy Downdraft Tower Facilities in San Luis, Ariz., following two key San Luis City Council votes. The top of each tower sprays a fine mist of water, cooling air that then falls through the cylinder at speeds of up to 50 mph or more, driving turbines at the base. Clean Wind Energy expects each Downdraft Tower (pictured) to generate up to 2,500 MWh on an hourly basis, of which approximately one-third will be used to power its operations.

Lightsource Renewable Energy Limited has installed a 2 MW solar system, comprising 8,500 ground-level solar panels, at Dunsfold aerodrome in the UK. Dunsfold Park, home of the BBC’s “Top Gear” racetrack, is the only utility-scale solar installation in Surrey, Lightsource says.

UK price comparison website MoneySupermarket’s headquarters in Flintshire, Wales is now producing 41,183 kWh of solar energy per year, saving more than 21,000 kg of CO2 annually, the company says. The £90,000 installation was provided free of cost as part of a solar power purchase agreement with iGen Energy.

A wood chip-burning combined heat and power plant is expected to cut Cambridge University Hospitals’ CO2 emissions by 30,000 tons a year. Energy services company MITIE, which won preferred bidder status to build the new energy center, expects to start construction at the end of the year. The energy center will be fully operational by 2015, and reduce energy consumption by 50 percent over the life of the 25-year contract, the companies said.

The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation has flipped the switch on a 250-kW solar PV system donated by First Solar, which will help power the Taliesin West campus in Scottsdale, Ariz. The ground-mounted system—expected to generate more than 500 MWh of electricity and displace more than 300 tons of carbon dioxide annually—completes the first phase of the Energizing Taliesin West initiative to transform the national historic landmark into a net-zero site.

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