NewEnergyNews More: March 2009

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Every day is Earthday.

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  • Tuesday, March 31, 2009


    Government Report, New Wave of Coal Plants Not Needed
    Virginia Cramer, March 31, 2009 (Sierra Club)

    "The government found no need for scores of new coal plants currently on the drawing board, according to the Annual Energy Outlook report issued by the Energy Information Administration (EIA)... The outlook found need for just two new coal plants between 2013 and 2025—and that is without accounting for expected new investments in efficiency and renewables, which should eliminate the need for new coal plants. The government’s findings are a far cry from the coal industry’s propaganda that dozens of new plants are absolutely essential…"

    click to enlarge

    "The Annual Energy Outlook’s reference case only accounts for current conditions, not pending policy changes. Among those changes excluded from the report are environmental regulations like the Clean Air Mercury Rule and the Clean Air Interstate Rule, as well as upcoming carbon regulations or increased emphasis on renewable energies. Past results have shown that the EIA data tend to undervalue efficiency and renewable energy potential. Yet, despite these tendencies the number of estimated new coal plants built in the reference case has been revised downward by more than half in just the past year…"

    click to enlarge

    "Twenty-four coal plants were defeated or abandoned last year, making a total of 95 defeated or abandoned plants since the beginning of the coal rush. At the same time, in 2008 the wind industry added more than 8,000 megawatts of new capacity, its best year ever, while the use of existing coal-fired generation fell by 3.0%. With clear signals coming from the Obama administration that coal plants will soon have to account for their global warming pollution, coal is becoming an increasingly risky energy option. Even without the future cost of carbon dioxide pollution, the data in the EIA report show that in both 2020 and 2030 cleaner energies like wind will cost the same as coal…"


    WePOWER's Wind Turbine Helps Power the House of Innoventions at Epcot(R); House of the Future Features Wind Energy Solutions Available Today
    March 31, 2009 (PRNewswire)

    “WePOWER LLC…[announced] that its innovative Seahawk, one of the company's vertical axis wind turbines, is currently being featured in the House of Innoventions exhibit as part of the INNOVENTIONS attraction at Epcot(R) at the Walt Disney World(R) Resort…

    “The House of Innoventions features breakthrough technologies available today, which help to make our homes greener, safer, cleaner, more fun and comfortable. WePOWER joins advanced products developed by leading innovators in home automation, green energy and technology…”

    Wind can be this simple. (click to enlarge)

    “WePOWER's Seahawk is on display in the backyard of the House of Innoventions and illustrates the turbine's ability to generate clean energy to power homes, businesses and wind farms. Not only will guests visiting the House of Innoventions be 'blown away' by the unique, compact design of WePOWER's wind turbine, but they will also be able to learn more about the importance of wind energy.

    “WePOWER's turbines can be used in urban, suburban and rural areas….work in low and high winds and are self-regulating. With only a few moving parts, the patented design is vibration and noise free, requires virtually no maintenance… provides a clean energy solution that is safe for people and birds…[and] can generate power from 1kw to over 2MW…”


    President and-astronauts talk up green energy in call
    March 24, 2009 (AP via WSYR Channel 9 Syracuse)

    "President Barack Obama and a group of school kids at the White House have had a half-hour video chat with the orbiting astronauts.

    "The 10 crewmembers onboard the International Space Station and shuttle Discovery are [shared] their final day together before the shuttle [undocked]…"

    The space station solar panels with the earth beyond. (click to enlarge)

    "The president described as "particularly exciting" the huge new solar array installed by the crew last week. It's doubled the station's power and will allow it to expand to a full-time crew of six. Obama noted how important it is for the whole nation to develop clean energy.

    "One youngster asked the astronauts if they can play video games in space. The answer: they can, but there's not a whole lot of free time…"

    Monday, March 30, 2009


    Obama calls major economies climate change meeting
    Jeff Mason, March 28, 2009 (Reuters via Yahoo News)

    "President Barack Obama is launching a 'Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate' to help facilitate a U.N. agreement on global warming…Leaders from 16 major economies have been invited to a preparatory session on April 27 and 28 in Washington to "help generate the political leadership necessary" to achieve an international pact to cut greenhouse gas emissions later this year…[to] spur dialogue among developed and developing countries about the issue, 'and advance the exploration of concrete initiatives and joint ventures that increase the supply of clean energy while cutting greenhouse gas emissions.'

    "The major economies include: Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Russia, South Africa and the United States…Denmark, which is hosting a U.N. meeting at the end of this year to forge a pact that would take over from the Kyoto Protocol, and the United Nations were also invited."

    click to enlarge

    "The group's preparatory sessions are to culminate with a major meeting on the subject in La Maddalena, Italy in July, hosted by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi…

    "Obama, a Democrat, has taken an aggressive stance toward fighting climate change, in a break from his predecessor, former Republican President George W. Bush…Bush also spearheaded a 'major economies' initiative on the issue, but many participants were skeptical of the process and concerned it was his administration's way of circumventing broader U.N. talks to forge an international deal.

    "The White House made clear in its statement that Obama's initiative would aim to augment U.N. talks…[and] the international pact… slated to be agreed in Denmark in December…Obama wants to cut U.S. emissions by roughly 15 percent back to 1990 levels by 2020 -- tougher than Bush, who saw U.S. emissions peaking as late as 2025."


    Researchers Create Catalysts for Use in Hydrogen Storage Materials
    24 March 2009 (Virginia Commonwealth University via Newswise)

    "A team of scientists from Virginia Commonwealth University, the University of Uppsala in Sweden, and the Savannah River National Laboratory have identified that carbon nanostructures can be used as catalysts to store and release hydrogen, a finding that may point researchers [one step closer to] developing the right material for hydrogen storage for use in cars…

    "According to [Puru Jena, Ph.D., distinguished professor in the VCU Department of Physics], complex hydrides are a class of materials that have shown promise for the storage of hydrogen. Because complex hydrides are not reversible and removing hydrogen from them is difficult at temperatures less than 100°C, catalysts are needed to improve the reaction rates. However, previous studies indicate that the addition of catalysts creates defects in the hydrides."

    Good research project. But "maybe someday" is a real problem in a world that needs answers now...(click to enlarge)

    "The experimental group led by Ragaiy Zidan, Ph.D., a researcher at the Savannah National Laboratory, developed a solvent technique which allowed the introduction of carbon fullerenes and nanotubes without introducing any defects and also functioned as catalysts. Jena and the team at the University of Uppsala led by Rajeev Ahuja, Ph.D., performed theoretical calculations to illustrate the mechanism of how these catalysts work.

    "The study appears
    online and in the journal Nano Letters, a publication of the American Chemical Society. The work was supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy…"


    Reid will defer to DOE commission on Yucca Mountain alternative
    March 27, 2009 (AP via Reno Gazette-Journal)

    "Nevada Sen. Harry Reid [will] defer to a federal Energy Department plan to create a commission to study alternatives to a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain.

    "The Democratic majority leader scrapped his own proposal for a similar commission after meeting…with Energy Secretary Steven Chu…"

    click to enlarge

    "The dueling plans for a nuclear waste panel were proposed earlier this month, after Chu declared Yucca Mountain, a site 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas, was no longer considered an option for housing the nation’s radioactive waste.

    "Reid and Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., both Yucca Mountain foes, proposed legislation that ordered Congress to create a study group to come up with alternatives. Its members would have been appointed by Reid and other congressional leaders."

    click to enlarge

    "The bill drew fire from the Nuclear Energy Institute and other industry groups who suggested the panel would not be independent if Reid appointed some of its members.

    "The Energy Department plan…allows Chu’s department to appoint commissioners…Reid and other stakeholders will also have a say in naming its members…"

    Sunday, March 29, 2009


    The Civil Heretic
    Nicholas Dawidoff, March 30, 2009 (NY Times Magazine)

    The Civil Heretic is a New York Times Sunday Magazine profile of the prominent physicist Freeman Dyson of the Institute for Advanced Study.

    As described in the piece, Dyson has become a prominent climate change denier.

    “Most consider me wrong about global warming,” Dyson told the Times reporter.

    According to the report, Dyson's denial begins with a reflexive aversion to consensus.

    Nobel physics laureate Steven Weinberg: “I have the sense that when consensus is forming like ice hardening on a lake, Dyson will do his best to chip at the ice.”

    Dyson was recognized as a denier 4 years ago when he publicly announced, “…all the fuss about global warming is grossly exaggerated.”

    Dyson (click to enlarge)

    The Times piece: “…Dyson has been particularly dismissive of Al Gore, whom Dyson calls climate change’s 'chief propagandist,' and James Hansen, the head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York and an adviser to Gore’s film, “An Inconvenient Truth.” Dyson accuses them of relying too heavily on computer-generated climate models that foresee a Grand Guignol of imminent world devastation as icecaps melt, oceans rise and storms and plagues sweep the earth, and he blames the pair’s 'lousy science' for 'distracting public attention' from 'more serious and more immediate dangers to the planet.'"

    The Times piece goes on: “For Hansen, the dark agent of the looming environmental apocalypse is carbon dioxide contained in coal smoke. Coal, he has written, 'is the single greatest threat to civilization and all life on our planet.' Hansen has referred to railroad cars transporting coal as 'death trains.' Dyson, on the other hand, told me in conversations and e-mail messages that 'Jim Hansen’s crusade against coal overstates the harm carbon dioxide can do.' Dyson well remembers the lethal black London coal fog of his youth when, after a day of visiting the city, he would return to his hometown of Winchester with his white shirt collar turned black. Coal, Dyson says, contains 'real pollutants' like soot, sulphur and nitrogen oxides, 'really nasty stuff that makes people sick and looks ugly.' These are 'rightly considered a moral evil,' he says, but they 'can be reduced to low levels by scrubbers at an affordable cost.' He says Hansen 'exploits' the toxic elements of burning coal as a way of condemning the carbon dioxide it releases, 'which cannot be reduced at an affordable cost, but does not do any substantial harm.'"

    More: “Science is not a matter of opinion; it is a question of data. Climate change is an issue for which Dyson is asking for more evidence, and leading climate scientists are replying by saying if we wait for sufficient proof to satisfy you, it may be too late. That is the position of a more moderate expert on climate change, William Chameides, dean of the Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences at Duke University, who says, 'I don’t think it’s time to panic,' but contends that, because of global warming, 'more sea-level rise is inevitable and will displace millions; melting high-altitude glaciers will threaten the food supplies for perhaps a billion or more; and ocean acidification could undermine the food supply of another billion or so.' Dyson strongly disagrees with each of these points, and there follows, as you move back and forth between the two positions, claims and counterclaims, a dense thicket of mitigating scientific indicators that all have the timbre of truth and the ring of potential plausibility…Beyond the specific points of factual dispute, Dyson has said that it all boils down to 'a deeper disagreement about values' between those who think 'nature knows best' and that 'any gross human disruption of the natural environment is evil,' and 'humanists,' like himself, who contend that protecting the existing biosphere is not as important as fighting more repugnant evils like war, poverty and unemployment."

    And from the Times again: "Climate-change specialists often speak of global warming as a matter of moral conscience. Dyson says he thinks they sound presumptuous. As he warned that day four years ago at Boston University, the history of science is filled with those 'who make confident predictions about the future and end up believing their predictions,' and he cites examples of things people anticipated to the point of terrified certainty that never actually occurred, ranging from hellfire, to Hitler’s atomic bomb, to the Y2K millennium bug. 'It’s always possible Hansen could turn out to be right,' he says of the climate scientist. 'If what he says were obviously wrong, he wouldn’t have achieved what he has. But Hansen has turned his science into ideology. He’s a very persuasive fellow and has the air of knowing everything. He has all the credentials. I have none. I don’t have a Ph.D. He’s published hundreds of papers on climate. I haven’t. By the public standard he’s qualified to talk and I’m not. But I do because I think I’m right. I think I have a broad view of the subject, which Hansen does not. I think it’s true my career doesn’t depend on it, whereas his does. I never claim to be an expert on climate. I think it’s more a matter of judgement than knowledge.'"

    Hansen (click to enlarge)

    The Times account of Hansen’s position: “Reached by telephone, Hansen sounds annoyed as he says, 'There are bigger fish to fry than Freeman Dyson,' who 'doesn’t know what he’s talking about.' In an e-mail message, he adds that his own concern about global warming is not based only on models, and that while he respects the 'open-mindedness' of Dyson, 'if he is going to wander into something with major consequences for humanity and other life on the planet, then he should first do his homework — which he obviously has not done on global warming.'"

    The Times concludes: “When Dyson hears about this, he looks, if possible, like a person taking the longer view.”

    Here is Hansen’s complete unedited reply to the Times, as communicated by email: “The reporter left the impression that my conclusions are based mainly on climate models. I always try to make clear that our conclusions are based on #1 Earth’s history, how it responded to forcings in the past, #2 observations of what is happening now, #3 models. Here is the actual note that I sent to the reporter after hanging up on him:

    'I looked up Freeman Dyson on Wikipedia, which describes his views on "global warming" as below. If that is an accurate description of what he is saying now, it is actually quite reasonable (I had heard that he is just another contrarian). However, this also indicates that he is under the mistaken impression that concern about global warming is based on climate models, which in reality play little role in our understanding -- our understanding is based mainly on how the Earth responded to changes of boundary conditions in the past and on how it is responding to on-going changes.

    'If this Wikipedia information is an accurate description of his position, then the only thing that I would like to say about him is that he should be careful not to offer public opinions about global warming unless he is willing to first take a serious look at the science. His philosophy of science is spot-on, the open-mindedness, consistent with that of Feynman and the other greats, but if he is going to wander into something with major consequences for humanity and other life on the planet, then he should first do his homework -- which he obviously has not done on global warming. My concern is that the public may assume that he has -- and, because of his other accomplishments, give his opinion more weight than it deserves.'"


    New Science Demonstrates Need for Aggressive Cap on Carbon Pollution
    25 March 2009 (National Wildlife Federation via Newswise)

    "Overwhelming scientific evidence supports reducing carbon pollution that causes global warming as much as possible and as quickly as possible. Global warming is happening faster than predicted even several years ago, with many natural systems already seriously impacted. Sea-level rise by the end of the century may be two to three times previous projections. Arctic sea ice is melting faster than anticipated even a few years ago. Northern forests are under attack from heat, drought, insects, and fires. And, many of the changes in our climate may be with us for hundreds and thousands of years."

    Dr. Amanda Staudt explains the situation. From NationalWildlife via YouTube

    "New scientific findings indicate that holding further increases in global temperatures to no more than 2°F above today’s levels, which many believe will allow us to avoid dangerous interference with the climate system, may not be enough to protect people and the planet from significant harm…

    "Furthermore, a target of 450 ppm CO2, widely thought to be sufficient for keeping
    warming below 2°F, only gives us a 50 percent chance of keeping warming that low. More alarming are the early warning signs that we could be approaching tipping points that would cause global warming to accelerate even faster. The United States and the international community must come to terms with an increased sense of urgency…"

    Friday, March 27, 2009


    Danish prince celebrates new Colo. wind plants
    Judith Kohler, March 26, 2009 (AP)

    "Danish Crown Prince Frederik said…expanding a country's renewable energy sources and recovering from a recession didn't have to be mutually exclusive…at a Brighton plant groundbreaking for Danish wind-turbine maker Vestas Wind System…

    "The prince, his wife Crown Princess Mary and Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter attended the ceremony for two parts plants by Vestas, which already has a blade-making plant in Windsor, about 50 miles north of Denver."

    Vestas is #1 with a bullet. (click to enlarge)

    "The company also is planning a 400-employee factory in Pueblo to build towers that support the turbines, which it has said would be the world's largest such factory. Ritter has championed alternative energy, which he called the state's "new energy economy" for creating jobs and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions…"

    Denmark is also WAY ahead of the rest of the world in building offshore wind. (click to enlarge)

    "The crown prince said that during a similar economic downturn in the 1970s, Denmark decided to wean itself off fossil fuels, leading to dramatic economic growth and a drop in carbon dioxide emissions of more than 13 percent. He also said renewable energy accounted for 28 percent of Denmark's electricity supply.

    "Ritter said Denmark could be an example for his state and the United States to follow. The crown prince and his wife also visited Dana College in Blair, Neb., and attended a groundbreaking for a new ethanol enzyme plant being built by Danish-based Novozymes."


    Solar Company Shares Jump On Chinese Energy Subsidy
    Shara Tibken, March 26, 2009 (Dow Jones Newswire via Wall Street Journal)

    "Shares of solar companies soared Thursday after the Chinese Ministry of Finance said on its Web site that it will offer a subsidy for solar energy…[that] will provide RMB20 ($2.93) per watt for projects over 50 kilowatts…Raymond James analyst Pavel Molchanov said the subsidy is comparable to what California is paying as part of its solar-rebate program.

    "Analysts called the subsidy generous and some estimated it could cover more than half the cost of a solar panel… [But one analyst] believes the market reaction is overdone because the subsidy's impact on demand for solar projects is going to be relatively minor."

    In rural China, solar energy provides for necessities. (click to enlarge)

    "Chinese-based solar companies gained the most…[because they] stand to benefit the most from any Chinese subsidies…Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd. (STP) soared 47% to $11.50, and Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. Ltd. (YGE) rose 44% to $5.98. LDK Solar Co. Ltd. (LDK) jumped 40% to $8.25, and Trina Solar Ltd. (TSL) rose 46% to $12.65. China Sunergy Co. Ltd. (CSUN) climbed 34% to $3.35, and JA Solar Holdings Co. Ltd. (JASO) gained 43% to $3.79…

    "Non-Chinese companies also traded higher, though they are less likely to benefit from the subsidies…First Solar Inc. (FSLR) gained 13% to $151.43, while SunPower Corp. (SPWRA) rose 16% to $27.95. Both are U.S. companies."

    Who WOULDN'T subsidize this kind of growth? (click to enlarge)

    "Analysts at Piper Jaffray said the Chinese subsidy is a long-term positive…[But] some analysts expressed caution over how much the subsidy would help the companies…[I]t's unclear whether the subsidy is restricted to building-integrated PV, or BIPV, cells - which means the modules have to be an element of the building structure - or whether it could also be used for retrofit modules, which are less expensive and can be put on an existing building…BIPV solar panels are a small niche market in China and account for only about 2% to 3% of solar demand.

    "Barclays Capital analyst Vishal Shah said in a note the program is applicable for both BIPV and regular solar module applications, but analysts at Piper Jaffray said in a note only building owners and manufacturers of PV products can take advantage of it. In addition, analysts at both Piper Jaffray and Barclays said the new subsidy program likely won't be capped."


    Test drive on carbon trading
    Valerina Changarathil, March 23, 2009 (Adelaide Advertiser/Sunday Mail)

    "Australian businesses will get a chance to test drive the Federal Government's Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme in May, through KPMG's new auction simulation program.

    "A national pool of up to 100 participants will buy and sell ``dummy'' permits based on their actual emissions under the Carbon Permit Auction Simulation program, to test their readiness ahead of the proposed rollout of the scheme next year.

    "KPMG, which has held such programs in the UK, will hold three half-day auctions over the program's six months and offer participants anonymity."

    The real world of emissions trading. (click to enlarge)

    "There will be a cap on the number of permits auctioned off and the price of the permits will be demand-driven…For [Australia] the simulation includes trading forestry/carbon offsets…KPMG claims the program is the first of its kind in Australia and expects strong participation…[so companies can] understand the "complicated'' CPRS scheme in a "learn-by-doing'' fashion…

    "The simulation will help businesses consolidate and field-test emissions data collection systems and procedures, bring in a disciplined approach to managing greenhouse gas emissions and price-test carbon reduction strategies.

    "Each participant will receive a report and performance feedback at the end of the exercise…"

    Thursday, March 26, 2009


    Solar and wind energy should be our future
    March 25, 2009 (Mountain Home News)

    [The following letter to the editor of the Mountain Home News in Elmore County, Idaho, is reproduced verbatim.]

    Dear editor:

    At Hacker Middle School, we learned about renewable and nonrenewable resources. I think we should rely on solar energy and wind energy rather than geothermal energy and biomass.

    I think geothermal and biomass resources are not good resources because they pollute, take up space, they are not renewable resources, and can destroy wildlife. Solar energy doesn't pollute, doesn't destroy wildlife and it doesn't take up lots of space. Solar energy is renewable and it's almost always there, so is wind energy.
    In conclusion, I think we should use solar and wind energy rather than fossil fuels, biomass and geothermal energy.

    Igor Poulter


    Obama Tries to Draw Up an Inclusive Energy Plan
    Jad Mouawad, March 17, 2009 (NY Times)

    "After gasoline prices rose above $4 a gallon last summer, Republican cries of “drill, baby, drill” forced candidate Barack Obama into a rare retreat. Under pressure, he said he would support some expansion of offshore oil drilling, while still emphasizing conservation and renewable energy…Now [the President]…is caught between oil companies, who are reminding the president of his campaign pledge, and environmental groups…

    "The renewed fight over offshore drilling comes amid efforts by the White House to map out an ambitious new energy policy for the country. For the first time since the Carter administration, an American president is putting energy at the center of his domestic agenda."

    (From the NY Times. (click to enlarge)

    "Mr. Obama must decide what strategies are most likely to achieve his goals of diversifying the nation’s fuel supplies, developing alternative energy sources, reducing oil consumption, and curbing carbon emissions that contribute to global warming…

    "For the moment, the offshore debate has been eclipsed by the economic crisis and the sharp fall of oil prices…But the magnitude of the nation’s energy challenge is not growing smaller…Oil imports now make up more than 60 percent of the nation’s daily consumption of 19 million barrels…for more than 30 years, drilling off most of the American coastline has been forestalled by opposition from coastal states and environmental groups…Yet considerable untapped oil may lie offshore. Around the world, deepwater exploration has been the most dynamic source of petroleum growth in the last decade…"

    click to enlarge

    "Since Mr. Obama’s inauguration, petroleum executives have used every opportunity to press their case for more domestic production. With fewer places to drill around the world, the biggest oil companies, including Exxon Mobil, Chevron and Shell, argue that more domestic oil production is not incompatible with the administration’s goals of lowering imports and using energy more efficiently…On the other end of the spectrum, environmental groups are pressing Congress to reinstate a moratorium on offshore drilling…

    "The battle over offshore drilling is being renewed as relations between the new administration and the oil industry, which enjoyed a cozy relationship with the Bush administration, have soured…The administration has made clear that it does not want to be rushed about offshore drilling. The Interior Department plans to hold a series of public meetings in April…"


    AWEA Joins 220+ Signatories On Letter To Congress Supporting National Renewable Electricity Standard; Letter Underscores Broad Agreement Among Utilities, Environmental Groups, Manufacturers and Wind Developers on National Standard
    March 24, 2009 (American Wind Energy Association)

    "The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) joined more than 220 other groups in signing a letter to Congress that endorses a national renewable electricity standard (RES) as a way to provide the long-term policy commitment that businesses need to invest tens of billions of dollars in clean energy, creating thousands of American jobs.

    "A total of 226 companies and organizations have signed the letter, which urges Congress to adopt a national RES this year. Legislation introduced in both the House and Senate would require all states to generate at least 25% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025."

    click to enlarge

    "[The letter:] “We are writing to urge rapid enactment of a national renewable electricity standard (RES) to help the nation take full advantage of the abundant domestic renewable resources available for the generation of electricity…”

    "Among the organizations signing the letter are wind developers, environmental groups, utilities, labor groups, construction companies and manufacturers…

    "A recent public opinion survey found that 84 percent of Americans support a national RES. Later this spring, House and Senate committees are scheduled to take up energy legislation that includes a national RES."

    Wednesday, March 25, 2009


    Solar energy advocates rally in Tally
    Zac Anderson, March 24, 2009 (Sarasota Herald Tribune)

    "Energy reform advocates from across Florida [including business people and elected leaders] made their way to [the state capital of] Tallahassee…to lobby for a solar energy incentive program that would make it profitable for anyone with open land or roof space to go solar…

    "The [lobbyists] planned to meet with state legislators to press their case for a "feed-in tariff" system that has been adopted by 46 countries and the City of Gainesville [through Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU)]."

    click to enlarge

    "A special focus…is Rep. Ron Reagan, R-Bradenton, one of the top leaders in the House of Representatives. Advocates suspect Reagan of blocking efforts to have a full hearing on the feed-in tariff debate."

    click to enlarge

    "Florida's large electric companies have strongly opposed feed-in tariffs, which would require the electric companies to buy solar energy at a premium rate from anyone would builds a system.

    "Reagan recieved $3,000 for his 2008 election campaign from political action committees associated with Florida Power & Light, Tampa Electric Company and Progress Energy...Florida Alliance For Renewable Energy [held] a press conference…in the Capitol to try and put pressure on Reagan and other lawmakers."


    Wave energy firm agrees £2m deal
    Natalie Thomas, 22 March 2009 (Scotland On Sunday)

    "Scotland’s ambition to become a leader in marine energy [took] another step forward… with the announcement of a £2m contract to install the UK's first near-shore wave energy generator off the coast of Orkney.

    "Aquamarine Power…has signed a £2m contract with marine construction group Fugro Seacore to install its 'Oyster' convertor at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney…The technology, designed for waters of between eight and 16 metres in depth, is expected to be installed 500 metres offshore by the autumn."

    click to enlarge

    "It is hoped that it will contribute between 300kW and 600kW to the National Grid, a small step towards the Scottish Government's goal to source 50% of the country's electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

    "The scheme in Orkney is the first in what Aquamarine hopes will be a string of projects after it last month agreed a joint venture with a subsidiary of Scottish & Southern Energy to develop one gigawatt of wave and tidal power off the coast of the UK and Ireland by 2020.

    "The deal with Airtricity, the renewable energy firm acquired by SSE…was heralded as "the biggest deal in the history of marine energy"…Work has also begun on another unnamed location and Aquamarine is investigating several other sites."

    click to enlarge

    "Aquamarine's Oyster converter consists of a single pump which, when hit by a wave, sends high-pressure water through a pipeline beneath the sea to an onshore generator. This then converts the water into electricity using hydroelectric generators…

    "…[E]xperts predict that Scotland could eventually account for 25% of Europe's total tidal electricity generation and 10% of wave energy generation…[But] it is thought it will be several years before marine energy becomes a credible, commercially viable force…"


    Department of Energy opens electric car stimulus programs
    Lindsay Riddell, March 23, 2009 (Washington Business Journal)

    "The Department of Energy has begun accepting applications for two electric vehicle programs funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

    "The DOE has allotted $400 million to establish development, demonstration, evaluation, and education projects “to accelerate the market introduction and penetration of advanced electric drive vehicles.” Applications are due May 13."

    "…DOE also is accepting applications for grants to support the construction of US-based manufacturing plants for building batteries and electric drive components and has made $2 billion available for…the Electric Drive Vehicle Battery and Component Manufacturing Initiative."

    click to enlarge

    "The grants represent the first two energy-related programs funded through the $787 billion federal stimulus package to take applications.

    "Both programs are through the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Office of Vehicle Technologies. The DOE has $32.7 billion in grant money to distribute from the federal stimulus package…$5 billion for weatherization…$3.1 billion for state energy programs…$2 billion for advanced batteries manufacturing…$6.7 billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy…$6 billion for environmental management…$4.5 billion for electricity transmission technologies…$3.4 billion for fossil energy research and development and other provisions."

    Tuesday, March 24, 2009


    U.S. Offers $535 Million Loan Toward Solar Energy Plant
    Steven Mufson, March 21, 2009 (Washington Post)

    "Energy Secretary Steven Chu…offered a $535 million federal loan guarantee for Solyndra Inc. to support the construction of a manufacturing plant for the four-year-old company's photovoltaic panels made of tiny cylindrical collection tubes.

    "Chu said the project would put 3,000 people to work. Kelly Truman, Solyndra's vice president of marketing, sales and business development, said that, when finished, the plant would directly employ more than 500 people while others would get work with firms doing installation."

    click to enlarge

    "The loan guarantee would be the first ever extended under a program approved by Congress in 2005. The program has been bogged down…[in the] appropriation and… approval process.

    "The money for this guarantee came from money appropriated in the Obama stimulus package, which could finance as much as $60 billion in loan guarantees. There is another $38.5 billion in unused loan guarantees authorized during the Bush administration."

    A Solyndra rooftop. (click to enlarge)

    "Chu has vowed to streamline the approval process and reduce the amount of application materials required. Some applications have run more than 1,000 pages, but Chu has said they should not need to run more than 50…

    "Solyndra's Truman said the company filed its initial loan proposal at the end of 2006 and a lengthier application more than a year later. The Energy Department said its loan guarantee could cover no more than 73 percent of the new plant's cost…Solyndra must provide the remaining 27 percent…This would be Solyndra's second plant and it would eventually produce solar panels capable of producing 500 megawatts a year."


    DTE sees 280 wind turbines in Thumb's Huron County
    March 22, 2009 (AP via Chicago Tribune)

    "The skyline in Michigan's rural Thumb could look a bit like historic Holland a few years down the road under DTE Energy Co.'s announced plan to install 125 wind turbines in Huron County by 2015 -- and 280 within two decades.

    "DTE Energy officials told Huron County commissioners the company must add 1,200 megawatts of green power to meet the state's new energy mandate. State rules require utilities to provide 10 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2015.

    "The Huron County wind turbines eventually could provide 4 percent to 4.5 percent of the company's total power…[Initial construction should create about 200 jobs and begin in 2011]..."

    There's certainly wind in the thumb - but there's a lot more on the lakes. (click to enlarge)

    "The Detroit-based utility now generates about 1 percent of its power from renewable energy sources…DTE's goal is to have about 3 percent of its electricity generated from renewable energy sources by 2012…

    "State law requires DTE to buy at least half of the remaining 9 percent of total power that has to come from renewable energy sources from a third party. DTE says it seeks to produce the other half of the renewable energy from its own projects… primarily through commercial-scale wind projects and some smaller solar projects…

    "DTE has about 55,000 acres of land easements signed, with about 7,000 more acres under negotiations…DTE officials said the utility expects to cap the renewable portion of its generating capacity at 10 percent… because green power still costs more than power from coal and nuclear plants…"


    Nissan in electric car tie-up with San Diego utility
    Soyoung Kim (w/Brian Moss), March 23, 2009 (Reuters)

    "Nissan Motor Co…has formed a partnership with utility company San Diego Gas & Electric to develop an infrastructure that would provide charging stations for electric car owners.

    "Nissan and its Japanese partner have teamed up with several U.S. states including Tennessee and Oregon as well as governments in Japan, Israel, Denmark and Portugal over the past year to study the infrastructure needed to support the roll-out of electric cars starting in 2010."

    Charging stations can look like this...(click to enlarge)

    "Such initiatives are considered critical for electric car drivers so they do not have to return home when their vehicles are low on power.

    "Nissan, which trails Japanese rivals Toyota Motor Corpand Honda Motor Co in hybrid technology, has made it a priority to become a leader in the still emerging market for fully electric vehicles."

    ...Or this...(click to enlarge)

    "Under the latest tie-up, Nissan and San Diego Gas & Electric will develop plans to develop a charging infrastructure for electric vehicles and work to implement and maintain a battery charging network…

    "Nissan plans to launch zero emission vehicles powered by lithium-ion battery packs in the United States in 2010 and market the vehicles globally two years after the U.S. launch…[C]ruising range for[Nissan’s] first generation of electric cars could be 100 miles…[and] near 200 miles by the second generation of the battery pack."

    Monday, March 23, 2009


    APX Launches Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS) Registry; Extends APX Leadership in Global Carbon, Serving More Than 50% of Voluntary Markets
    Reiner Musier, March 17, 2009 (APX)
    The Voluntary Carbon Markets
    Kate Hamilton, Reiner Musier and Milo Sjardin (APX)

    "APX Inc., the leading infrastructure provider for environmental and energy markets, … has launched a state-of-the-art greenhouse gas transaction registry and related services for the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS) Association, a leading international standards organization. The APX VCS Registry adds to the unparalleled coverage that APX provides for the global carbon markets, including the Gold Standard Registry and the Climate Action Reserve, a program of the California Climate Action Registry."

    click to enlarge

    "The Registry enables the issuance, transfer, tracking, retirement and custodial services for VCS carbon credits worldwide. It also supports the VCS Association’s mission to ensure quality assurance for the world’s carbon markets through a global program for approval of credible voluntary carbon offsets, or Voluntary Carbon Units (VCUs). APX is also the exclusive solution provider for the VCS Association’s centralized project database that will present information on all VCS projects and issued VCUs, list relevant project-related documents, and track the status of issued VCUs…"

    click to enlarge

    "The web-based system will create trusted and tradable voluntary offset credits, provide a clear chain of ownership for voluntary offsets that prevents double-counting, and stimulate investments in emissions reductions and low carbon solutions…

    "APX [-a privately held company-] is the leading infrastructure provider for environmental and energy markets in renewable energy and greenhouse gases including carbon commodities. Providing a bank and mint for environmental commodities, APX solutions are trusted to create, track, manage, and retire renewable energy certificates (RECs), energy efficiency and conservation certificates, carbon offset credits such as verified emissions reductions (VERs), and greenhouse gas emission allowances. The company is the solution of choice for every major renewable energy market in North America and greenhouse gas markets worldwide…"


    Obama and Energy Chief Push Innovation
    Andrew C. Revkin, March 23, 2009 (NY Times)

    "Three months ago [The Times] asked, “Are Chemists, Engineers on Green Jobs List?” The answer appears to be yes.

    "In a two-pronged push, President Obama and Steven Chu, the secretary of energy and Nobel laureate in physics, [laid out] the administration’s plans to link economic renewal with an energy revolution."

    The idea is to turn this around... (click to enlarge)

    "Mr. Obama met with energy-technology entrepreneurs and researchers near the White House at an event called “Investing in Our Clean Energy Future.” One highlight is $400 million set aside under the economic-recovery bill for an advanced research agency for energy, Arpa-E, modeled along the lines of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency."

    ...By getting the federal government to do its share. (click to enlarge)

    "On eastern Long Island, Dr. Chu had a somewhat wistful air as he toured projects at Brookhaven National Laboratory…his first stop at a national laboratory since taking his cabinet job…He peppered staff scientists and engineers with questions about physics projects related to the origins of the universe and possible causes of Alzheimer’s disease before being nudged forward by hurried aides. He was there to announce how $1.2 billion in the stimulus bill would be spent on science projects at Brookhaven and elsewhere around the country’s network of 10 national laboratories…"


    Caltech scientists create new enzymes for biofuel production; Enzymes are important step toward cheaper biofuels
    Kathy Svitil, 23 March 2009 (Cal Tech via EurekAlert)

    "Researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and world-leading gene-synthesis company DNA2.0 have taken an important step toward the development of a cost-efficient process to extract sugars from cellulose--the world's most abundant organic material and cheapest form of solar-energy storage. Plant sugars are easily converted into a variety of renewable fuels such as ethanol or butanol.

    "…Frances H. Arnold, the Dick and Barbara Dickinson Professor of Chemical Engineering and Biochemistry at Caltech, and her colleagues report the construction of 15 new highly stable fungal enzyme catalysts that efficiently break down cellulose into sugars at high temperatures…[and] over a wide range of conditions."

    click to enlarge

    "…Most biofuels used today are made from the fermentation of starch from corn kernels. That process, although simple, is costly because of the high price of the corn kernels themselves…Agricultural waste, such as corn stover (the leaves, stalks, and stripped cobs of corn plants, left over after harvest), is cheap. These materials are largely composed of cellulose, the chief component of plant-cell walls. Cellulose is far tougher to break down…[and] requires a whole suite of enzymes, or cellulases, working in concert.

    "The [10] cellulases currently used industrially, all of which were isolated from various species of plant-decaying filamentous fungi, are both slow and unstable, and, as a result, the process remains prohibitively expensive…Arnold and Caltech postdoctoral scholar Pete Heinzelman created the 15 new enzymes using a process called structure-guided recombination. Using a computer program to design where the genes recombine, the Caltech researchers "mated" …more than 6,000 progeny sequences that were different…yet encoded proteins with the same structure and cellulose-degradation ability."

    click to enlarge

    "…the Caltech and DNA2.0 researchers were able to predict which of the more than 6,000 possible new enzymes would [have thermostability]…a requirement of efficient cellulases, because at higher temperatures--say, 70 or even 80 degrees Celsius--chemical reactions are more rapid. In addition, cellulose swells at higher temperatures, which makes it easier to break down…cellulases from nature typically won't function at temperatures higher than about 50 degrees Celsius…[C]oauthor Jeremy Minshull and colleagues from DNA2.0…synthesized [a yeast that produced] 15 new cellulases…[Each] was more stable, worked at significantly higher temperatures (70 to 75 degrees Celsius), and degraded more cellulose than the parent enzymes…

    "Next, the researchers plan to use the structure-guided recombination process to perfect each of the half-dozen or so cellulases that make up the soup of enzymes required for the industrial degradation of cellulose…"

    Sunday, March 22, 2009


    A second life for California wind turbines
    Dirk Lammers, March 20, 2009 (AP via San Jose Mercury-News)

    "…[H]undreds of Danish workhorses bearing the names Nordtank, Micon, Vestas and Bonus aren't quite ready to slow down…These wind turbines — stripped down to the steel and completely rebuilt — are forgoing the scrap heap in favor of second lives powering farms, schools and businesses.

    "Within the capital-intensive wind industry, there are a growing number of companies that specialize in bringing old turbines back to life, helping smaller customers save a little cash while going green."

    Built for the long haul. (click to enlarge)

    "Most of these windmills, once state of the art, debuted on large California wind farms in the 1980s…New 65- to 100-kilowatt wind turbines, large enough to power a farm or help defray a school's electric bills, can cost $3,000 to $6,000 per kilowatt, meaning the entry prices would be close to $200,000, according to the American Wind Energy Association."

    Technology with far-ranging perspective. (click to enlarge)

    "Buying secondhand can cut those costs by about half or even more…Many wind turbines are being decommissioned from some of California's oldest wind farms, having reached the end of their design lives…

    "Michigan's Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker School District wanted to connect a few wind turbines to its elementary building to save on energy…The on-campus wind farm…saves the district a little cash…But it has provided a gold mine of educational value, as students get to study physics and electricity by building small mock-up wind turbines and competing for the top design. "


    Wind energy blowing money and jobs to Iowa
    John David, March 20, 2009 (WQAD-TV Quad Cities)

    "Spinning turbines seem to symbolize that wind power can be a prime source of clean energy in Iowa. Going green helps to cut pollution and also make money.

    "[Dan Johnson, Glory Wind Turbines, Mt. Union, Iowa]: 'Wind is free…Here in Iowa, it's plentiful. Every farm in Iowa could have a wind turbine.'"

    Wind's projected growth over the next 2 decades will generate huge job growth. (click to enlarge)

    "…[Iowans] are joining forces…[because they are hearing] about investment and job opportunities across the state…In Iowa, wind investment is second only to Texas in the United States. And there's a chance to grow…Iowa's largest wind farm could eventually be located [in Washington County]

    "…But [wind] isn't an automatic pot of gold. A wind turbine assembly plant in West Branch is laying off 58 workers during this economic downturn. And land owners need to know their rights. What's hot today might not be years from now…"

    Wind's projected growth over the next 2 decades will provide a host of other benefits. (click to enlarge)

    "While the wind industry faces its own challenges, there's a feeling it will prosper in the future.

    "[Dan Johnson, Glory Wind Turbines, Mt. Union, Iowa]: 'With the economy the way it is now, interest is fantastic…It's big.'

    "Big enough to keep the blades spinning for years to come."


    Southern's CEO earns $8.1 million in compensation
    Sandy Shore, March 17, 2009 (AP via SF Chronicle)

    "The head of energy provider Southern Co. received a 2008 compensation package valued at $8.1 million, according to an analysis by The Associated Press, up about 29 percent from the previous year largely because of a jump in his performance-based bonus.

    "David M. Ratcliffe, chairman, chief executive and president of the Atlanta-based company, received a base salary of $1.12 million and non-equity incentive plan compensation of $5.3 million, according to a filing Tuesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

    "Ratcliffe also received stock and option awards valued at $1.67 million when granted…[though] of little current value…Other compensation totaled $79,378 for retirement benefits and other perks."

    But lucrative for the bosses. (click to enlarge)

    "The Associated Press formula is designed to isolate the value the company's board placed on the executive's total compensation package…

    "Southern has said its 2008 performance was affected by a decline in electricity sales and usage which it blamed on the recession. The company earned …$2.26 a share [in 2008] compared with…$2.29 a share [in 2007]…The 5 percent decline was substantially better than many energy stocks experienced…But shares have continued to decline in the first few months of 2009…

    "Southern acquires, builds and operates power production and delivery facilities. Its holdings include Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Gulf Power and Mississippi Power."

    Friday, March 20, 2009


    Action on climate to harm Gulf economies – Saudi Arabia
    March 19, 2009 (Reuters)

    "Strict measures across the world to act against climate change could seriously affect the economies of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations, a Saudi official said…

    "OPEC has committed to reducing harmful emissions and Saudi Arabia has invested in carbon capture and storage technology which is designed to do so.

    "But the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries stresses that others should also take their share in managing the use of fossil fuels…"

    Saudi Arabia could be hit hard by climate change-related emissions cuts - or it could become "the Saudi Arabia of solar energy." (click to enlarge)

    "[Mohammad al-Sabban head of the Saudi Delegation to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and senior economic adviser at the Saudi oil ministry] cited an independent study by consultants Charles Rivers, which stated that policies to mitigate climate change could remove 5-20 percent of Saudi and other Gulf countries' GDP.

    "Sabban reiterated comments made by Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi…that the kingdom was also investing in solar power and aimed to become a leading supplier in addition to its role as the world's biggest oil exporter."


    GE Energy to Supply 140 Wind Turbines for Romanian Windfarms
    March 19, 2009 (Industrial Info Resources via Pumps&Systems)

    "GE Energy…of General Electric Company…will supply nearly 140 wind turbines for the Fantanele and Cogealac windfarm projects in Romania. The projects signify the largest installation, in terms of power generation capacity, of GE's wind turbines in Europe to date.

    "In August 2008, power conglomerate CEZ Group… (Prague, Czech Republic) bought the two adjacent windfarms in Constanta County from Continental Wind Partners LLC (Wilmington, Delaware). When both windfarms are fully operational, the complex will have a power generation capacity of 600-MW, making it nearly twice as large as the next largest European windfarm. CEZ is investing $1.4 billion in the project, aimed at helping Romania meet the European Union's requirements of increasing the share of renewable sources to 20 percent in the energy portfolio by 2020."

    click to enlarge

    "The first stage of the project will have an installed capacity of 347.5-MW and will use 139 GE 2.5xl turbines. Each turbine has a capacity of 2.5-MW, and a rotor diameter of 99 meters, and will stand 100 meters above ground level. Construction of this stage started in September 2008 and it is planned to be operational by the end of 2009. The second stage, with a capacity of 252.5-MW, is planned to go on stream by the end of 2010. The combined output will provide almost 10 percent of Romania's renewable energy. Current wind power generation in Romania is only 7-MW, which makes the project a significant milestone in wind energy production in Eastern Europe.

    "GE Energy…will also supply supervisory control and data acquisition systems, monitoring equipment and substation control systems for the Romanian power transmission network…"


    European power companies say they will try to be carbon neutral by 2050
    March 18, 2009 (Seattle Times)

    "European electricity companies pledged… to go 'carbon neutral' and drastically curb greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

    "Eurelectric, a group of power companies from the EU's 27 countries [which generate 70% of European Union power], said members such as E.On AG, Electricite de France SA, RWE AG and Enel would reduce carbon dioxide emissions and offset what they can't avoid."

    EU emissions, part 1. (click to enlarge)

    "Carbon offsets usually invest in climate change projects in the developing world — such as planting trees or building solar panels — and allow companies in rich nations to cancel out their emissions of carbon dioxide…"

    EU emissions, part 2. (click to enlarge)

    "Eurelectric said it needed the European Union and governments to help out by supporting renewable energy, nuclear power and coal technologies such as carbon capture and storage that would strip carbon emissions from coal-burning power plants and bury the CO2 underground…a crucial factor was simpler regulatory permission for building new plants.

    "Europe's biggest polluters are coal-burning power stations that will gradually be replaced over the next few decades. Eurelectric said the industry needs [~1.8 trillion euros] in investment to replace aging plants, develop power grids, meet new demand and hit environmental targets…"

    Thursday, March 19, 2009


    I Was Too Early on Solar Power – Let’s Not Be Too Late
    Robert Redford, March 18, 2009 (Huffington Post)

    "In his State of the Union address, President Obama noted that although America invented solar energy technology, we have fallen behind countries like Germany and Japan in producing it…I remember when America was leading the pack on clean energy in the 1970s. We abdicated that leadership thanks to the influence of a fossil fuel industry with deep pockets and friends in the White House. But Obama reminded us…We are a nation of innovators, and we can harness that resourcefulness again to build a better future.

    "I saw that ingenuity emerge three decades ago, when the promise of renewable energy became clear to many of us. We were so eager to spread the word about solar power that we created "Sun Day," the solar equivalent of Earth Day. We had events from Maine to Chicago to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir even agreed to participate in one event."

    From a Redford-produced film on solar energy from 1975. (click to enlarge)

    "People were just starting to get excited about pollution-free power, but then Ronald Reagan became president and took the solar panels off the White House and the policies promoting renewable energy were stripped from the books.

    "… All of [benefits of solar energy as a domestic, renewable power source] remain extremely relevant today, but we have lost three decades in the effort to extend them to more Americans…I was too early in my efforts to promote solar power, but now is the time. We are getting a second chance--another American trait. If we don't seize this moment, we will be too late to get the competitive advantage in a global marketplace, too late for the economic dividends, and too late to stave off the worst of global warming."

    Like minds attract. (click to enlarge)

    "The Obama administration wants to see America double our supply of renewable energy in the next three years. Many lawmakers want to pass a national [RES]…Congress will likely vote this year on a bill to limit global warming pollution…These are the kind of bold, visionary actions we need right now. I urge you to call on your representatives to support them.

    "In this time of economic crisis and uncertainty, I am reminded of being a child during World War II. I have no nostalgia for the turmoil and suffering of those days, but I do recall the communal effort, the sense that we all rallied around to support the greater good. Today we are trying to achieve the greater good of shared prosperity, and I believe it will be built on a clean and affordable energy economy. With enough resourcefulness, I know we can do it this time around..."


    Point Carbon Survey Finds 90 Percent Think US Will Introduce A US Emissions Trading Scheme By 2015
    17 March 2009 (Business Wire via The Earth Times)

    "An alarming 60 percent of respondents to a recent carbon market survey, all of whom work within companies with carbon trading operations, report having scaled back, delayed or cancelled carbon credit project investments as a consequence of the economic slowdown, according to Point Carbon, a leading provider of market intelligence, analysis, forecasting and advisory services for the energy and environmental markets.

    "Some 87 percent of the respondents predicted a European Union Allowance (EUA) price of below €25 ($32) in 2010…respondents to the survey also reported a reduced need to buy European Union Allowances (EUAs) in addition to their full credit limit compared to last year… respondents reporting they have surplus EUAs to sell is up from 15 percent last year to 24 percent this year."

    click to enlarge

    "… hopes for a good long-term recovery are also high with almost half the respondents believing that an EUA price of €35 ($45) or higher in 2020 can be expected and some 90 percent predicting that the US will embark on its own cap-and-trade style emissions trading scheme (ETS) by 2015…many foresee a rebound in Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) investment by as early as 2009…41 percent of respondents predict they will increase their carbon credit project investments in 2009, against 23 percent that expect their investments to decrease or stop completely…"

    click to enlarge

    "Despite the up-beat long-term expectations, hopes are not high among respondents that the UN climate negotiations in Copenhagen in December will produce a global climate agreement, with just 59 percent of the respondents expecting an agreement…against 71 percent in both 2007 and 2008. Point Carbon believes that the global economic slowdown, as well as the slow progress made in the post-2012 negotiations, may be to blame for this pessimism.

    "This stark reminder of how the current global recession is impacting the global carbon business comes from Point Carbon’s Carbon 2009 report, titled Emissions Trading Coming Home and published on March 17…"


    Going geothermal; university plans to install the largest system in the country
    February 6, 2009 (Ball State University Newscenter)

    "…Ball State University is poised to take a bold, new approach to meeting its campus heating and cooling needs through geothermal energy. During its regularly scheduled Feb. 6 meeting on campus, the university's Board of Trustees approved a proposal that sets in motion a phased replacement of the plant's four existing coal-fired stoker boilers through a complete transition of the university's central heating and cooling system to one employing geothermal fields and energy centers to service more than 40 buildings on campus…

    "The project will be divided into phases. Phase I will cost $36 million and will result in the shutting down of two coal stoker boilers and an annual operational savings in excess of $1 million. The university will seek state approval to apply $41.8 million in existing funds for use in developing the geothermal system. The funds were originally designated for coal-fired boiler replacement."

    click to enlarge

    "To complete Phase II, Ball State will use the balance of the $41.8 million, operational savings, and general and special repair and renovation funds. This phased conversion to geothermal would take place over a five to 10 year period, depending on the availability of funds over time. The total cost of the conversion over that period is estimated at $70 million.

    "The university will actively pursue federal stimulus grants to contribute to the project and reduce its implementation schedule by many years. This project matches very closely to the stated goals of the proposed stimulus package: Much of it qualifies as shovel-ready, uses renewable energy sources and reduces carbon emissions…"

    click to enlarge

    "Geothermal equipment has been available for several decades and has been used in both residential and commercial applications. According to a December 2008 report from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, 600,000 geothermal heat pumps have been installed in the United States…[T]aking the current coal boilers offline will save the university a half-million dollars per boiler annually in operational costs, resulting in savings of $2 million a year when the project is completed. Just as important…the university's net carbon footprint will be cut approximately in half…

    …[P]lanners are considering locations for the geothermal well fields on campus, where water will be circulated in a closed-loop piping system to a depth of roughly 400 feet before being returned to the surface and distributed through three energy centers, which will act as central heat exchangers…"