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Every day is Earthday.

Some details about NewEnergyNews and the man behind the curtain: Herman K. Trabish, Agua Dulce, CA., Doctor with my hands, Writer with my head, Student of New Energy and Human Experience with my heart

email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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Your intrepid reporter

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    A tip of the NewEnergyNews cap to Phillip Garcia for crucial assistance in the design implementation of this site. Thanks, Phillip.

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  • Friday, February 5, 2016

    Dream Catcher – ripped from the headlines, torn from the heart

    Artistically, Dream Catcher, a new play at the Fountain Theater in Hollywood, is satisfying in every way. And it is much more.

    When Brian Tichnell’s Roy comes rushing onto Director Cameron Watson’s wide round stage to join Elizabeth Frances’ Opal on Jeffrey McLaughlin’s set of desert dirt and engaging skyblue backdrop, questions rush the audience into the multi-layered plot.

    The lighting by Luke Moyer captures a desert brightness that might seem flat if it didn’t suit so well the emerging action that goes round and round in a confusion of questions and not quickly explained tensions.

    Roy and Opal are young and excited with a lot on their minds and life racing through their blood. They are immediately recognizable members of today’s millennial generation, he in costume designer Terri A. Lewis’s Gap khakis, badly pressed dress shirt, and bland tie, she in Target jeans and a snug denim vest that doesn’t conceal her tatted shoulders and tramp stamp.

    Roy is an impassioned young engineer for Suntech, a utility-scale solar development company readying a Mojave Desert groundbreaking on a concentrating solar power project. The massive installation is backed by an $800-plus million federal loan guarantee.

    Roy has been on this Mojave ground and away from his suburban Boston home for months, guiding project preparations, driven by his unwavering belief that this is a crucial effort in his generation’s heroic and vital fight to turn back climate change.

    Opal is a beautiful young native of the Mojave, an heir to its native peoples and an heir to the plight of its native peoples’ struggle with under-employment and dead-end opportunities.

    Their hot encounter at the Mojave’s Rusty Nail bar has swept them along in a testosterone-estrogen storm to the moment the play opens. He enters exuberant about the project’s imminent groundbreaking to her as yet unexplained moody mix of impatience and withdrawal.

    They play a strange game of anxiety and avoidance that stirs all kinds of passions in both of them until she finally reveals her secret: She has followed the guidance of a dream and discovered human bones, bones of her people, on the land where Suntech plans to build.

    If she reveals her find, the federal loan will be withdrawn and the project will be stopped, Roy tells her.

    But how can she turn her back on her ancestors? She asks him.

    So begins a journey for these young searchers that turns into more than just the ripped-from-the-headlines conflict of solar development versus sacred ground when it becomes clear their struggle is tearing at their hearts.

    It is environmentalists versus progress, the holiness of the past versus the desperation to salvage the future, the needs of the many and the needs of the few.

    It is still more. It is her need to trust her heart and live up to the traditions she so poorly inherited from her mother versus his need to know and to prove himself in business. It is her need to stand up for herself and his need to stand up for the earth. It is his pressing sexuality and her urgency to be loved.

    This list of some of the opposites their struggle eventually embraces is an injustice to Sachs’ writing and the acting talents and Frances and Tichnell because the tensions of these opposites are almost never abstract. As the actors passionately circle this piece of seemingly desolate and yet all too crowded empty desert space, themes cascade over the audience.

    The opposites come through an engineer’s plain-spoken scientific preaching about the urgency of climate change and his admissions about the strengths and weaknesses of his solar solution. They also come through the darker and yet simpler language and insights of a reservation girl raised on Native American myths of darkness and light.

    It is an easy and yet difficult play to watch, easy because it is unpretentious storytelling and difficult because the dualities threaten to overwhelm the audience just as the conflict threatens to ruin Roy and Opal.

    There will be no plot spoilers here. The play suggests simple power dynamics expressed through money or gender politics may resolve everyday dualities.

    But a more profound metaphysical desert of the spirit or the soul or the eternal earth may be what ultimately will have its way.

    Credits: Author: Stephen Sachs/Director: Cameron Watson/ Starring: Elizabeth Frances and Brian Tichnell/ Producers: Simon Levy and Deborah Lawlor

    Set design: Jeffrey McLaughlin/Lighting design: Luke Moyer/Costume design: Terri A. Lewis/Composer/Sound design: Peter Bayne/Prop Designer: Terri Roberts/Production stage manager: Emily Lehrer/Technical director: Scott Tuomey/Publicist: Lucy Pollak

    At the Fountain Theater/5060 Fountain Ave., Los Angeles, CA. 90029/323-663-1525

    Wednesday, February 3, 2016

    ZIKA AND CLIMATE

    'Range of Zika vector will increase with climate change'; DW asks emerging pathogens expert Amy Vittor about the connection between Zika and climate change. Researchers are using dengue as a reference point, as little is known about the new virus linked to a birth defect.

    Charlotta Loma with Dr, Amy Vittor, February 3, 2016 (Deutsche Welle)

    “…Zika virus is a close relative of dengue virus. It's a mosquito-borne virus that usually causes no symptoms, or only mild illness. But…it's been associated with the birth defect called microcephaly…Zika is spread by [two] very common mosquitoes…The conditions that seem to allow Zika to thrive are the presence of very good vector mosquitoes - namely Aedes aegypti probably mostly in Brazil at the moment - and a lot of human and mosquito contact…[Warm temperatures and humidity allow the dengue virus and probably Zika] to propagate within the mosquito…

    “Taking into account [different climate change projections], it looks like the range of these dengue vectors - and Zika therefore also - will increase…The expanding range of Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus may be a result of climate change of the past decades…[It] has led to more fertile areas for disease to take hold…[and] we might see increases in disease in the future…[in] the northeast United States, certain areas of Europe, the southern areas of South America, and east Asia…” click here for more

    U.S. ARMY TO BUILD WIND-SOLAR HYBRID

    Fort Hood Kicks Off $100M Wind, Solar Energy Project

    January 29, 2016 (AP via CBS News)

    “…[Ground was just broken at Fort Hood, the sprawling Central Texas military installation, for the Army’s largest renewable energy project, a] $100 million hybrid solar and wind renewable energy project. The Department of Defense-related project also involves Apex Clean Energy and the White House Council on Environmental Quality…[It] is expected to produce electricity for Fort Hood with a goal of providing up to 40 percent of the post’s needs…The setup involves a solar farm that will use thousands of panels spread over about 130 acres of Fort Hood [and power from a nearby] wind turbine facility…” click here for more

    INTRO TO EV BUYING

    How to buy the best electric car; There's a lot to consider before buying your first electric car. Let's look at your choices.

    Wayne Cunningham, February 2, 2016 (Road Show)

    “…Despite range inferior to gasoline-powered cars, electric cars are working for the daily-driving lives of a few hundred thousand people in the US. Freedom from gas stations and low running costs are two prime reasons you might want to consider an electric vehicle (EV)… The range runs from the Tesla Model X, a roomy crossover SUV, down to the Smart Electric Drive, a tiny, two-seater hatchback. Among the middle ground for size, you will find theMercedes-Benz B-Class and Kia Soul Electric. A majority of EVs offer seating for five, with room for cargo, following the typical IC-based passenger-car model…[With up to 270 miles of range, a variant that hits 60 mph in under 3 seconds and a lithe, attractive body, not only is the [Tesla] Model S an excellent electric car, it competes well with premium gasoline-powered cars…Purpose-built as an electric car, the Nissan Leaf can go up to 107 miles on a charge. It is also widely available, giving it an edge over electrics sold only in a few markets]…” click here for more

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

    NEW WIRES FOR NEW ENERGY

    Better power lines would help U.S. supercharge renewable energy, study suggests

    Puneet Kollipara, January 25, 2016 (Science)

    “Analysts have long argued that nations aiming to use wind and solar power to curb emissions from fossil fuel burning would first have to invest heavily in new technologies to store electricity produced by these intermittent sources…But a study out today suggests that the United States could, at least in theory, use new high-voltage power lines to move renewable power across the nation, and essentially eliminate the need to add new storage capacity…Future cost-competitive electricity systems and their impact on US CO2 emissions Nature Climate Change finds an] improved national grid, based on existing technologies, could enable utilities to cut power-sector carbon dioxide emissions 80% from 1990 levels by 2030 without boosting power prices…But some observers wonder whether the U.S. power grid can rise to the renewables challenge…” click here for more

    SOLAR MAKES BIG MONEY ON WAREHOUSE ROOFS

    Put a Solar Panel on It; How did a warehouse company become one of America’s leaders in renewable energy?

    Daniel Gross, January 29, 2016 (Slate)

    “…Prologis, which at 97.54 megawatts trails only Walmart in the amount of installed rooftop solar capacity in the U.S…doesn't operate stores, doesn’t fret much about what upscale American consumers think about its energy use, and doesn’t even have much energy use to offset…It’s the world’s largest owner and operator of warehouses…Boasting 700 million square feet of space (about 25 square miles) in 21 countries, it has a market capitalization of more than $20 billion…[and] Prologis has figured out how to turn the ultimate waste of space—the flat roof of a warehouse—into an emissions-reducing, money-producing power plant [by selling the solar energy-generated electricity to the grid]…To date, Prologis has put solar panels on more than 100 buildings around the world, with a combined capacity of 140 megawatts. About 70 percent of its installations are in the U.S. Prologis has planted solar on only about 10 percent of its global footprint, in part because the economics don’t yet make sense everywhere it operates…The company plans to add about 15 megawatts of solar capacity per year through 2020…[and] likely add energy storage to the mix…” click here for more

    NEW YORK CITY LIKES GEOTHERMAL HEAT PUMPS

    New York City Passes Geothermal Energy Bill

    January 29, 2016 (Builder)

    “Following a 2013 measure to study the implementation of geothermal heat pumps, New York City Council has passed the geothermal energy bill and sent it to Mayor De Blasio to sign…The bill, Int. 0609-A-2015, will require New York City to identify and implement geothermal heat pump installations in all its new construction and retrofits when it is shown that doing so would be cost effective…This measure could be used as a blueprint for any city, town or borough in the U.S. Increased use of geothermal heat pump systems reduces energy costs for the end user, reduce peak load supporting a stronger grid, reduces emissions and creates jobs…[Geothermal advocates are working to get similar measures] passed in other major cities…” click here for more

    Monday, February 1, 2016

    THE BURNERS MUST BE STOPPED

    New Report Issues Dire Carbon Warning: Keep It in the Ground—or Else; Report examines carbon risk of fossil fuel deposits that could push world past agreed-upon 2°C climate threshold—and efforts to keep them untapped

    Nadia Prupis, January 25, 2016 (Common Dreams)

    “…[Keep It In The Ground from Greenpeace, Sierra Club, and 350.org, examines the carbon risk of fossil fuel deposits] throughout the globe that, if developed, would push the world past the agreed-upon 2°C climate threshold…In order to curb escalating greenhouse gas emissions and fend off their disastrous consequences, the ‘overwhelming majority of the large coal reserves in China, Russia, [the Arctic,] and the United States as well as more than 260 billion barrels of oil reserves and 60 percent of gas reserves in the Middle East must all remain unused [through 2050 or]…we will miss even the high-end estimated budget for a 50 percent chance of limiting warming to 2°C—three times over,’ the authors [report]…However, with such dire circumstances already under way, climate activism has taken on a new momentum, the authors state…” click here for more

    THERE’S NO STOPPING NEW ENERGY

    Why The Renewables Revolution Is Now Unstoppable

    Joe Romm, February 1, 2016 (ClimateProgress)

    “…Once upon a time, people imagined that replacing fossil fuels with renewables like solar and wind would jeopardize the electric grid’s reliability. Then along came some major countries who showed that it didn’t, and that there really are no limits to renewable integration…[The lead energy specialist at the World Bank recently said very] high levels of variable renewable energy can be accommodated both technically and at low cost [through an improved electricity transmission system, improved predictions of wind and solar availability, demand response, and electricity storage. Until recently, big storage has been impractical and] batteries have been too expensive…[But] the stunning drop in battery prices continues to spur exponential growth…The ‘intermittency’ problem is essentially solved. The will-power problem, however, isn’t…” click here for more

    TESLA CHARGING STATIONS MAKE A DIFFERENCE

    Electric Car Buyers Hugely Attracted To Tesla Supercharger Network

    Zachary Shahan, January 31, 2016 (CleanTechnica)

    “…With [the new generation of electric vehicles] that have several hundred miles of range, core destination charging is probably all you’d need…[A recent survey] found that convenient home charging was one of the key benefits of an EV lifestyle…[but] EV drivers put “more abundant EV charging” as the #1 way to promote EV adoption and advance the EV revolution (24.4% of respondents chose that option)…65% of potential owners indicated they would be significantly more attracted to a fully electric model if it had access to Tesla Superchargers or something comparable…Tesla’s Superchargers charge a car about twice as fast as the next-fastest DC fast chargers on the market…Only 11% of respondents didn’t care about having access to such a network…In a separate survey for both EV drivers and potential EV drivers, 29% of respondents indicated that DC fast charging was a requirement for them to consider a fully electric car, 25% indicated that it was very important for them, and 27% indicated it was somewhat important for them. Only 12% indicated it was “quite unimportant” and 7% “not important at all” for them…” click here for more

    Wednesday, January 27, 2016

    SOLAR-POWERED MARS ROVER ROLLS ON

    NASA's Mars Opportunity Rover Sets Longevity Milestone With Assist From the Sun

    Alyssa Newcomb, January 26, 2016 (ABC News)

    “…Opportunity, the solar-powered Mars rover that has exceeded its planned three-month life span, [just] celebrated its 12th birthday…NASA said the golf cart-sized Opportunity had a ‘very active’ winter since the bot, which uses solar energy, was able to receive cleaner solar rays -- even during the dark Martian winter. Martian years are 1.9 times longer than Earth years, making this Opportunity's seventh winter on Mars…Opportunity has spent the past few years exploring a 14-mile-wide crater named Endeavour…Using its robotic arm, Opportunity has been able to examine the composition and texture of the rock's interior. NASA credited Opportunity's surprising longevity -- 48 times longer than planned -- to choosing north-facing slopes in the winter that allow Opportunity's solar panels to collect energy…NASA predicts Opportunity will have plenty of sunlight to keep it going through the year.” click here for more

    NEW ENERGY’S FUTURE IS JUST A SET OF WIRES AWAY

    The US could slash energy-production emissions by 78% in just 15 years, report shows; This could be us, but you're playing.

    Fiona MacDonald, 27 January 2016 (ScienceAlert)

    “The US could cut greenhouse gas emissions from electricity production by an incredible 78 percent below 1990 levels within just 15 years - AND keep up with growing energy demand in the process, according to [Future cost-competitive electricity systems and their impact on US CO2 emissions] from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)…[I]f it wanted to, the US could be getting most of its electricity from existing solar and wind technology by 2030, at hardly any extra cost to consumers. All it'll take is the construction of 'electron superhighways' to transmit electricity across the country…[B]ased on technology that already exists, it would be totally feasible for wind and solar to power the majority of the country – the only thing we need to improve is how we move that electricity around the country...[E]ven if the price of renewable energy doesn't decrease as predicted, the US could still cut its CO2 emissions by 33 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, and could deliver electricity at 8.6 cents per kilowatt hours - cheaper than the 9.4 cents per kilowatt hour Americans paid in 2012…” click here for more

    COST OF BATTERY STORAGE CAN DROP 70%

    E-storage: Shifting from cost to value 2016

    January 2016 (World Energy Council)

    “…[Energy] Storage is often perceived as too expensive because of the way the calculations are done which do not fully take into account the value it brings to certain situations…[ World Energy Resources Report 2016, E-storage: Shifting from cost to value 2016 – wind and solar applications concludes] that a narrow focus on levelised cost alone can be misleading…[The report] estimates that with the many new technologies in the pipeline, storage costs of energy will fall by as much as 70% over the next 15 years. Solar storage will become more competitive as new battery technology drives prices down, and wind storage more attractive as technical advances in areas such as composite materials enables the power generated by wind turbines to increase…[The right policies to drive these changes must]…Go beyond just costs…Examine storage through holistic case studies…Work with operators and regulators to accelerate the development of flexible markets…Establish supporting policies and an enabling regulatory framework…Consider storage as a key component for grid expansion or extension…” click here for more

    Tuesday, January 26, 2016

    OIL PRICE DIVE DRIVES EV INNOVATION

    Tesla boss sees bumpy road ahead for electric cars

    January 26, 2016 (PhysOrg)

    “Electric car manufacturers will have to design futuristic vehicles to entice buyers in order to ride out the challenge of plunging oil prices, Tesla co-founder Elon Musk said…The luxury all-electric US car maker, founded in 2003, rose to prominence as oil prices soared and made alternative energy vehicles more tempting…Now the fledgling industry is under pressure…[and Tesla] saw shares dive…Tesla is looking to recruit 1,600 software engineers to help develop ‘Autopilot,’ its autonomous car IT system…aims to have a fully self-driving car by 2018…[and] is taking orders for its new Model X…[which has]…some self-driving facilities…[Musk] predicted all cars would be autonomous within the next 15 years—with steering wheels eventually just a distant memory…Such promises have kept investors firmly behind the California company, even though it has continued to lose money while the big carmakers in Detroit rack up profits in the booming US auto market.” click here for more