NewEnergyNews More: May 2009

NewEnergyNews More

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



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  • Sunday, May 31, 2009


    'Smart Turbine Blades' To Improve Wind Power
    May 29, 2009 (Sustainable Business via Reuters)

    "Researchers have developed a technique that uses sensors and computational software to constantly monitor forces exerted on wind turbine blades, a step toward improving efficiency by adjusting for rapidly changing wind conditions.

    "The research by engineers at Purdue University and Sandia National Laboratories is part of an effort to develop a smarter wind turbine structure...[which] also could help improve wind turbine reliability by providing critical real-time information to the control system to prevent catastrophic wind turbine damage from high winds…"

    The basics. (click to enlarge)

    "The engineers embedded sensors called uniaxial and triaxial accelerometers inside a wind turbine blade as the blade was being built. The blade is now being tested on a research wind turbine at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agriculture Research Service laboratory in Bushland, Texas. Personnel from Sandia and the USDA operate the research wind turbines at the Texas site.

    "Such sensors could be instrumental in future turbine blades that have "control surfaces" and simple flaps like those on an airplane's wings to change the aerodynamic characteristics of the blades for better control. Because these flaps would be changed in real time to respond to changing winds, constant sensor data would be critical."

    A researcher displays an experimental blade design. (click to enlarge)

    "Research findings show that using a trio of sensors and "estimator model" software…accurately reveals how much force is being exerted on the blades. Purdue and Sandia have applied for a provisional patent on the technique…

    "Sensor data in a smart system might be used to better control the turbine speed by automatically adjusting the blade pitch while also commanding the generator to take corrective steps…[and] used to design more resilient blades…The sensors are capable of measuring acceleration occurring in various directions…[and] two types of acceleration….The research is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy through Sandia National Laboratories."


    Solar energy comes to tribal clinic
    May 30, 2009 (Lahontan Valley News)

    "A new solar energy system is [powering]… the Pyramid Lake Tribal Health Clinic in Nixon…The 30-kilowatt photovoltaic array was made possible by a combination of donated labor and materials, and a program created by the Nevada State Legislature…Labor and materials were donated by the nonprofit Black Rock Solar, and costs for the solar panels were offset by a $138,000 rebate from the SolarGenerations program, which is managed statewide by NV Energy.

    "The panels were installed on the ground in a fenced area next to the clinic and are expected to generate approximately 60,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year, or roughly half the clinic’s annual electricity consumption. This will reduce the clinic’s annual electric bill by approximately $7,200 or $180,000 over the expected 25-year life of the panels…Since the start of the program six years ago, over 2 megawatts of solar energy have been installed statewide, and over $8 million in financial incentives has been paid out."

    Pushed onto lands thought in the 19th century to be too burned by the sun and blown by the winds to be productive, Native Americans now find themselves in possession of immense New Energy resources. (click to enlarge)

    "The Tribal Health Clinic provides health care services to the communities of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Reservation…Black Rock Solar is supported by Burning Man and is focused on speeding the adoption of renewable energy by delivering low or no cost solar power to communities in need.

    "Employing an innovative and collaborative approach to solar project development, Black Rock Solar extends Burning Man’s spirit of creativity and environmental stewardship to affect real environmental change, according to Tom Price, executive director of Black Rock Solar…This is the seventh completed project for Black Rock Solar…"


    GE: How Clean (and Not-So-Clean) Tech Drives Ecomagination
    Keith Johnson, May 27, 2009 (Wall Street Journal)

    "…General Electric is still touting the potential for “green” products to save the day.GE said the 80 product lines in its “ecomagination” line tallied $17 billion in sales last year, a 21% jump over 2007 even as most of the conglomerate’s other divisions treaded water or went backwards. GE is aiming for $25 billion in sales in the unit this year…

    "How to explain the success of “ecomagination”? Aside from the growing appeal for everything from wind turbines to efficient locomotives, there are two other reasons. The products GE has certified as part of the “ecomagination” group include plenty of things that at first blush don’t sound very green, and the definition gets broader every year."

    The part of the brain where GE thinks up its advertising campaigns? (click to enlarge)

    [GE’s definition ofEcomagination:] “…Products that significantly and measurably improve customers’ operating performance or value proposition and environmental performance or services that substantially enable such improvements.”

    "…[T]he Jenbacher coal mine gas engine, part of “ecomagination” …turn[s] a potential liability—gas inside coal mines—…into heat and power, in addition to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. There are clear “green” benefits—but all in the name, as GE says, of “making coal mining cleaner.”

    Eco-initiative or marketing initiative? (click to enlarge)

    "…Three years ago, none of GE’s reactors were part of the “ecomagination” energy lineup; today both “Advanced Boiling Water Reactors” and “Economic Simplified Boiler Water Reactors” are part of the mix…Three years ago, GE had just two oil-industry products in “ecomagination”; today there are six, including devices that help oil refineries deal with heavier grades of crude oil with fewer environmental side-effects.

    "Outside of energy, GE is bringing other star divisions into “ecomagination” too—such as healthcare. In 2008, for the first time, GE added four healthcare devices, from X-rays to ultrasounds, to its “ecomagination” lineup…GE has made no bones about its hopes that the world’s appetite for clean stuff will help drive sales and profits at the struggling conglomerate. It’s good to remember that “green” is as expansive a term as the government policies underwriting much of that growth."

    Friday, May 29, 2009


    Siemens breaks ground in China’s wind market
    May 26, 2009 (Cleantech Group)

    "…Germany’s Siemens broke ground last week on a new wind turbine production facility [with the capacity to generate 500 MW annually] in Shanghai's Lingang New City, signifying the company's entry into China’s wind power market…

    "The new facility is scheduled begin operating in the second half of 2010, initially with 400 employees. The wind turbines are expected to be for the Chinese market and for export. Siemens is investing more than RMB 573.45 million ($84 million) to set up this new location."

    click to enlarge

    "Siemens entered the wind turbine market through its acquisition of Denmark’s Bonus Energy in 2004. Wind turbine plants are a component of Siemens’ environmental portfolio, which brought in revenue of nearly $25.6 billion in fiscal year 2008, about a quarter of the company’s total revenue.

    "China's installed wind power capacity reached 12.2 GW at the end of 2008, and is expected to grow to 20 GW of installed capacity by the end of 2009, surpassing Germany by the year's end as the leading wind market…"

    click to enlarge

    "Siemens can expect to face competition in China from Denmark's Vestas Wind Systems, which recently said it plans to invest $350 million in its Tianjin, China-based subsidiary, responding to growing demand in China for its turbine…

    "In April, Vestas launched a new factory and a specialty wind turbine, which has blade designs and temperature control systems to adapt to the tough winters in Inner Mongolia. The turbine is most effective in low and medium winds, which make up 75 percent of China's unutilized onshore wind potential…"


    AMSC expands in India’s wind market with Inox deal
    May 27, 2009 (Cleantech Group)

    "A subsidiary of Devens, Mass.-based American Superconductor has expanded its presence in India today, licensing its wind turbine design to India’s Inox Wind.

    "AMSC Windtech, a subsidiary of energy technologies company American Superconductor, licensed its doubly-fed induction wind turbine design with the capacity of generating 2 megawatts to Inox…[giving] Inox the ability to manufacturer and sell the wind turbines on a global level. Inox plans to start series production of the wind turbines in 2010."

    click to enlarge

    "…[AMSC will] help Inox localize the supply of key wind turbine components, establish its manufacturing line, and build and test Inox’s first prototype wind turbines. AMSC expects to receive an upfront license fee as well as royalty payments for an undisclosed amount from the arrangement. AMSC also plans to provide the electrical systems for the Inox-manufactured wind turbines.

    "Inox Wind is part of the Inox Group, a diverse line of businesses with more than 4,500 employees and nearly $600 million in annual sales. The company owns and operates several wind farms in India."

    click to enlarge

    "At the end of 2008, India was the world’s fifth largest wind power market, with nearly 10 GW of installed capacity, according to the Global Wind Energy Council…The Indian Wind Turbine Manufacturers Association projects India’s potential for wind development is 65 GW to 70 GW.

    "Inox isn’t AMSC’s first wind turbine manufacturing customer in India. In 2008, AMSC Windtec licensed a wind turbine design with the capacity of generating 1.65 MW to Ghodawat Industries, which plans to begin commercial production of these wind turbines by the year’s end…"


    Airline: Biofuel could cut emissions by 65 percent
    Ray Lilley, May 29, 2009 (AP via Forbes)

    "A test flight of a commercial airliner partially powered by plant oil showed the biofuel could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 65 percent on long-haul flights, Air New Zealand said…

    "During a two-hour flight in December, one engine of a Boeing747-400 was powered by a 50-50 blend of oil from the plum-sized fruit known as jatropha and traditional jet fuel."

    click to enlarge

    "The test confirmed that up to 1.5 tons (1.35 metric tons) of fuel can be saved on a 12-hour flight - a little more than 1 percent savings - said the national carrier's chief pilot, Dave Morgan. The blend would cut carbon dioxide emissions by about 5 tons (4.5 metric tons) - or at least 60 percent.

    "Morgan called the fuel savings "significant," though the monetary gain depends on the price of oil…Biofuels would become competitive sooner if an emission trading system raised the price of carbon-based fuels…"

    click to enlarge

    "Air New Zealand obtained the jatropha oil for its test flight from Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and India. Seeds from the jatropha - a bush with round, plum-like fruit - are crushed to produce a yellowish oil that is refined and mixed with diesel.

    "Some environmental groups have questioned whether jatropha and other plants used as biofuels are sustainable. They have expressed concerns about the plants' impact if more land and resources are devoted to growing them on a commercial scale…"

    Thursday, May 28, 2009


    Wind Project Moves Along
    May 27, 2009 (KXMC-TV Minot)

    "North Dakota wind continues to blow-and an industry relying on that wind continues to grow…The Public Service Commission estimates wind will be able to generate more than 16-hundred megawatts of power in the state by next year…That's more than 300 times the amount of wind power generated just seven years ago.

    "…[For Basin Electric’s Prairie Winds ND1,] the latest wind project proposed in Ward County…the numbers are encouraging - 200 jobs created during construction, 8 permanent jobs, new rental revenue for farmers, and a new, clean power source…"

    T. Boone Pickens calls the Great Plains “the Saudi Arabia of wind…” (click to enlarge)

    "…Basin Electric says the wind farm will include 77 towers with a generating capacity of about 115 megawatts…[It says] federal energy policy is critical to developing projects like Prairie Winds. Those laws allow companies like Basin to quickly depreciate the cost of the equipment - and give them tax breaks for wind-produced energy…

    "…[The power company] says wind power will be an increasing part of Basin's energy production mix - because it allows the company to meet requirements set by Congress…[E]xpect to hear more about projects to harness North Dakota's wind in the future…The 240-million dollar Prairie Winds project is scheduled to begin producing electricity this winter..."


    Obama seeks growth in biofuels beyond ethanol
    Roberta Rampton (w/Gary Hill), May 27, 2009 (Reuters)

    "President Barack Obama… wants to see new types of biofuels commercialized as quickly as possible, but the corn-based ethanol industry needs to remain viable in the meantime…"

    [President Obama’s letter farm-state governors:] "My administration is committed to moving as quickly as possible to commercialize an array of emerging cellulosic technologies so that tomorrow's biofuels will be produced from sustainable biomass feedstocks and waste materials rather than corn… But this transition will be successful only if the first-generation biofuels industry remains viable in the near term…"

    click to enlarge

    "Most biofuel currently used in the United States is ethanol made from corn. The U.S. government wants to boost production of renewable fuels made from non-food crops like switchgrass and plant waste left over from harvesting grain…Biofuels help reduce climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions, reducing the need for importing oil while creating jobs, Obama wrote.

    "The ethanol sector has been hit hard by high corn prices, lower oil prices, and overcapacity. New types of biofuels are currently more expensive to produce than corn-based ethanol…[But] regulators and lawmakers are debating how to measure the [cost] of land-use change…[as when] emissions [are] released when corn production displaces other crops, giving farmers the incentive to turn forests into cropland."

    click to enlarge

    "Poor market conditions have threatened the development of new types of biofuels, the Governors' Biofuels Coalition told Obama in a letter earlier this year, asking him to put forth a vision for biofuels and establish a task force on the debate over biofuels' greenhouse gas emissions…Obama established that task force earlier this month.

    "The governors also asked Obama to increase the maximum allowed limit for blending ethanol with gasoline to 13 percent from the current 10 percent level to expand the market…The Environmental Protection Agency is slated to rule…by December 1…"


    Business picks up for solar energy system installers
    Gary Dymski, May 28, 2009 (Newsday)

    "Through late last year and into January, solar installer Gary Minnick was averaging about one job a month. Then in February, things began to heat up…Another installer, Marc Clejan, co-owner of GreenLogic in Southampton, said business for solar PV has doubled for his company since last year…GreenLogic is projecting 176 installations this year, up from 75 last year."

    click thru to GreenLogic

    "Long Island solar installers like Minnick and Clejan are benefiting from a part of the federal stimulus package that extended many consumer tax incentives for renewable energy projects, including solar PV, solar water heating and geothermal heat.

    "The big winner on Long Island appears to be solar PV, which - in addition to a cap-free 30 percent federal tax credit - also is eligible for a Long Island Power Authority rebate and a 25 percent New York State tax credit. The stimulus package eliminated a $2,000 cap on the federal tax credit for solar PV…Michael Deering, LIPA's vice president of environmental affairs, said applications for the utility's solar PV rebate - $3.50 a watt - have tripled, to 180, from last year…"

    click thru to Go Solar

    "…[One L.I. homeowner] hired GreenLogic to install two systems - a 9,460-watt array of solar PV panels and a solar water-heating setup - at more than $80,000, before rebates and tax credits. After applying all the incentives - including an extra $10,135 because of the federal stimulus package - total cost for the two systems was slightly less than $25,000…the PV system (net cost $21,157) is projected to pay for itself in about eight years and will virtually eliminate [the homeowner’s] electric bill. The water-heating system (net cost $3,812) will reduce [the] natural gas consumption by about 25 percent and pay for itself in about three years."

    Wednesday, May 27, 2009

    100 DAYS, 100 PROJECTS

    Obama airs '100 Days, 100 Projects' report
    May 27, 2009 (UPI)

    "More than $467 million in economic stimulus funds will go toward two U.S. geothermal and solar technology projects, a White House report indicated…

    "…[At Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada] President Barack Obama marked the 100th day since passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act by recapping progress the U.S. economy has made since passage and outlining what needs to be done to assure a solid economic footing going forward…"

    The President inspects the U.S.' biggest solar PV array. (click to enlarge)

    "The 100 Days, 100 Projects report...compiled by the Recovery Act oversight committee headed by Vice President Joe Biden …[describes] investment to expand and accelerate development and use of geothermal and solar energy…[as part of] infrastructure and construction projects receiving ARRA funds.

    "Nellis Air Force Base houses the largest solar photovoltaic array in the United States, and 25 percent of the energy used by the 12,000 people living and working on the base is generated by the 72,000 solar panel installation…"

    The President at Nellis Air Force Base outside Las Vegas looking a little like the last lonely but still cool member of the Rat Pack. (click to enlarge)

    "The funding for the energy projects…will help solar and geothermal industries overcome technical barriers, demonstrate new technologies, and provide support for clean energy jobs for years to come, the White House and the Department of Energy said."

    [President Barack Obama:] "We have a choice. We can remain the world's leading importer of oil, or we can become the world's leading exporter of clean energy…"


    Locke, Chu Announce Significant Steps in Smart Grid Development
    May 18, 2009 (U.S. Department of Energy)

    "U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu…announced significant progress that will help expedite development of a nationwide "smart" electric power grid…[that] would replace the current, outdated system and employ real-time, two-way communication technologies to allow users to connect directly with power suppliers. The development of the grid will create jobs… spur the development of innovative products that can be exported…save consumers money and reduce America's dependence on foreign oil by improving efficiency and spurring the use of renewable energy sources.

    "Before it can be constructed, however, there needs to be agreement on standards for the devices that will connect the grid…Locke and Chu announced the first set of standards that are needed for the interoperability and security of the Smart Grid and $10 million in Recovery Act funds provided by the Energy Department to the National Institute of Standards and Technology to support the development of interoperability standards."

    click to enlarge

    "Secretary Chu also announced that based on feedback from the public and Smart Grid stakeholders, the Department of Energy is increasing the maximum award available under the Recovery Act for Smart Grid programs…[T]he Smart Grid Investment Grant Program will be increased from $20 million to $200 million and…Smart Grid Demonstration Projects from $40 million to $100 million…DOE will ensure that funding is provided to a diversity of applications, including small projects as well as end-to-end larger projects…

    "The initial batch of 16 National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)-recognized interoperability standards… will help ensure that software and hardware components from different vendors will work together seamlessly, while securing the grid against disruptions."

    click to enlarge

    "Spanning areas ranging from smart customer meters to distributed power generation components to cybersecurity, the list of standards is based on the consensus expressed by participants in the first public Smart Grid Interoperability Standards Interim Roadmap workshop…$10 million [the Energy Department] received to support the development of interoperability standards under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has been provided to NIST to help accelerate their efforts to coordinate these critical standards…

    "The Energy Department is the lead federal agency responsible for Smart Grid development. Creating national standards is a critical part of that process. Coordinating these standards and achieving industry buy-in is the responsibility of the Commerce Department…"

    AIR CAR BY 2011

    Company looks to bring air-powered cars to US
    Dan Strumpf, May 25, 2009 (AP)

    "Most car companies are racing to bring electric vehicles to the market. But…Zero Pollution Motors is trying to bring a car to U.S. roads by early 2011 that's powered by a combination of compressed air and a small conventional engine…[T]he ultimate goal is a price tag between $18,000 and $20,000, fuel economy equivalent to 100 miles per gallon and a tailpipe that emits nothing but air at low enough speeds.

    "Elsewhere in the world, the technology is already gaining speed. The French startup Motor Development International, which licensed the technology to ZPM, unveiled a new air-powered car at the Geneva Auto Show in March. Airlines KLM and Air France are starting to test the bubble-shaped AirPod this month for use as transportation around airports."

    click to enlarge

    "Engineering experts, however, are skeptical of the technology, saying it is clouded by the caveat that compressing air is notoriously energy intensive…[T]he "air cars" plug into a wall outlet, allowing an on-board compressor to pressurize the car's air tank to 4,500 pounds per square inch. It takes about four hours to get the tank to full pressure, then the air is then released gradually to power the car's pistons.

    "At speeds less than 35 mph, the car relies entirely on the air tank and emits only cold air. At faster speeds, a small conventionally fueled engine kicks in to run a heater that warms the air and speeds its release. The engine also refills the air tank, extending the range and speed…[The air car] is expected] to go about 20 miles on compressed air alone, and hundreds more after the engine kicks in, with a top speed of 96 mph…"

    click to enlarge

    "James Van de Ven, a mechanical engineering assistant professor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute who has studied compressed-air technology, said air compressors allow you to recover only 25 to 30 percent of the energy used to compress the air. The rest is lost through heat, air leakage and other forms of waste…While that's still slightly better a gasoline engine, it pales compared with the efficiencies of other alternative-fuel powertrains, like those in hybrid-electric cars, which have an efficiency closer to 80 percent…

    "With four hours of charging, the air car's 5.5-kilowatt compressor would eat up 22 kilowatt-hours of electricity. That means the same energy used to turn on 10 100-watt light bulbs for 22 hours would allow the car to travel 20 miles…General Motors Corp. has said its Chevrolet Volt will use about 8 kilowatt-hours of energy to fully charge, and it will be able to travel 40 miles on battery power alone…"

    Tuesday, May 26, 2009


    The Copenhagen Call: 6 Biz-Friendly Steps To a Global Climate Deal
    Katie Fehrenbacher, May 26, 2009 (Earth2Tech via Reuters)

    "…500 executives from cleantech firms, utilities, and policy makers [met at The World Business Summit on Climate Change] in Copenhagen…[on] steps and targets needed to move away from a carbon-based economy while also protecting economic growth…[in anticipation of] the monumental United Nations Climate Change Conference taking place in December in Copenhagen that will be a followup to the Kyoto agreements.

    "…[T]he group issued a document, called The Copenhagen Call, which lays out key steps for policy makers and businesses to lead up to the talks in December…[T]he group said, 'The "Call" states that business leaders stand ready to make those changes and support ambitious political decisions that support economic recovery and safeguard the planet.'"

    UN Secretart General Ban Ki Moon explains the importance. From via EUXTV YouTube

    "…The [6 steps of the] Copenhagen Call:
    1. Agreement on a science-based greenhouse gas stabilization path with 2020 and 2050 emissions reduction targets that will achieve it.
    2. Effective measurement, reporting and verification of emissions performance by business.
    3. Incentives for a dramatic increase in financing low emissions technologies.
    4. Deployment of existing low-emissions technologies and the development of new ones.
    5. Funds to make communities more resilient and able to adapt to the effects of climate change.
    6. Means to finance forest protection."

    [Al Gore, Nobel laureate for work on climate change:] “It is appropriate that the business community be invited here a half year before the political decision makers get here. Since one of the principal ways we decide what is valuable…is within the market place, it is critically important that we get the rules of the marketplace correct — and that the signals we derive from the marketplace is one that accurately reflect human values.”

    [Shai Agassi, CEO, electric car company Better Place:] “We need to support the innovators.”

    click to enlarge

    [David Blood, Senior Partner, Generation Investment Management:] “There are a number of business leaders who are out there on a limb. We need to support those folks.“

    [James Rogers, CEO, Duke Energy:] “We’re going to have to fundamentally redefine our business models in a low-carbon world…Every business has to look inward and figure that out.”

    [Quoted from the Copenhagen Call document:] “Emission reduction at this scale will profoundly affect business…The new climate treaty must push the development of new technologies through public funds…Governments should strive to end subsidies that favor high emissions transport and energy infrastructure.”


    Feds plan $4 billion for green jobs
    May 25, 2009 (AP via USA Today)

    "Some $4 billion from President Obama's $787 billion economic stimulus plan that was budgeted to renovate public housing will be spent to create so-called "green jobs" by making the dwellings more energy efficient.

    "Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan [made the announcement]…at a meeting of Obama's Middle Class Task Force…Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, another task force member, also [announced]… that $500 million from the stimulus is becoming available to train workers for these jobs…[including] $50 million for communities battered by job losses and restructuring in the auto industry…Donovan and Solis also [announced]… their departments are working together to make it easier for public housing residents to find training programs or a green job."

    click to enlarge

    "The task force…has been working since January to highlight policies and practices to help improve the standard of living of the middle class, an income group that suffered as the economy faltered…The meeting…[outlined] different ways government departments are working together to steer the middle class toward green jobs…defined as related to helping the environment…[They] pay up to 20% more than other jobs, are more likely to be union jobs and are more likely to be held by men, less so by minorities and people who live in cities…These jobs also are ones that cannot be easily transferred overseas.

    "Obama has pushed greening the economy — reducing dependence on foreign energy sources, developing domestic alternatives and easing the effects of climate change — as ways to help pull the economy out of its worst downturn since the Great Depression."

    click to enlarge

    "Donovan said… the investment in public housing will…[improve] the quality of public housing, [reduce] energy costs for residents and the government, and [create] jobs for people who live in the units and in the surrounding community…

    "The energy, education and labor secretaries also…[announced] a partnership to help link the unemployed with jobs, training and education opportunities."


    Backers pleased by Iowa's alternative energy efforts
    May 26, 2009 (AP via Cedar Valley Daily Times)

    "Two years into an effort to boost Iowa's alternative energy industry, the state [Office of Energy Independence] has given $35 million to established businesses, startups and academics to spur growth in the state.

    "In return, officials said Iowa has seen 2,300 new jobs and the state has taken its place as a leader in the field…The [Office of Energy Independence] coordinates the Iowa Power Fund, a four-year program that offers $100 million for alternative energy projects…So far, there have been 196 applications totaling more than $389 million. A board has approved 24 projects and distributed $35,227,080, which supporters said leveraged $190.4 million in other funding."

    From Iowa Green Jobs Now. (click to enlarge)

    "Projects range from a $1.5 million effort to reduce the cost of drying the distillers grain byproduct of ethanol in Ames to $250,000 for vertical wind turbine manufacturing in Oxford. Other efforts involve biodiesel, biomass briquettes and the production of methane from cattle manure.

    "Gov. Chet Culver has bet much of his political future on alternative energy. The power fund was a centerpiece of his campaign for governor, and he managed to push the program through the Legislature…Lawmakers have allocated $49.6 million for the effort over the last two years…The governor's alternative energy efforts have been largely popular in the Legislature, although some have questioned oversight of the power fund…[because] the state loses its investment if a project fails…[If it succeeds] the state benefits through additional taxes paid by workers and the businesses."

    Iowa now gets more than 7% of its power from wind and has just begun to tap its potential. (click to enlarge)

    "Iowa's efforts come at a time when national energy consumption is projected to grow by 23 percent in the next 20 years…Iowa is among 29 states that have adopted renewable energy standards. Iowa was one of the first states to do so, requiring in 1983 that 2 percent of the state's energy would come from renewable source. The state met that goal in 1999.

    "By the end of 2008, 15 percent of the electricity generated in Iowa came from wind power. That's up from 5 percent in 2006 and leaves Iowa ranked second nationally in wind power capacity…That puts Iowa on a par with many European nations that have stressed alternative energy for decades. Denmark, for instance, gets 20 percent of its electricity from wind…"

    Monday, May 25, 2009


    Clean Energy Ensures Future Growth, FPL Chairman Tells Shareholders
    Alison Kroulek, May 25, 2009 (greenstocks)

    "Lew Hay, FPL Groups Chairman and CEO, advised FPL shareholders at the company’s annual meeting that FPL’s investments in alternative energy will pay off in continued growth. FPL’s investment in clean energy sources like wind power and solar power are not only good for the environment, they are also good for the company’s bottom line-especially if the government starts taxing carbon emissions…"

    [Lew Hay, Chairman/CEO, FPL Groups:] “FPL Group has one of the lowest emissions rates in the sector. In fact, if every utility were as clean as FPL Group, CO2 emissions from the power sector would be reduced by nearly 50 percent and total U.S. carbon emissions would be reduced by 20 percent. That’s the equivalent of removing 209 million cars from the road, or roughly 80 percent of all vehicles in the nation…”

    click to enlarge

    [Lew Hay, Chairman/CEO, FPL Groups:] “The true test of companies is not how well they perform in a booming economy. It is how well they perform in the face of a challenge…[FPL Group’s strong performance in the current economic downturn is] a powerful endorsement of our strategy, our commitment to financial discipline, and our dedicated and talented employees.”

    click to enlarge

    "FPL Group’s success in 2008 contributed to the company’s strong performance relative to its peers…as measured by both total shareholder return and growth in market capitalization."

    [Lew Hay, Chairman/CEO, FPL Groups:] “Consider this one simple fact: A dollar invested in the S&P 500 at the end of 2001 was worth 90 cents at the end of 2008. A dollar invested in FPL Group had more than doubled to $2.17…”


    Wind energy group urges Ohio to change tax setup
    May 23, 2009 (AP via Chicago Tribune)

    "…The American Wind Energy Association says Ohio's existing tax method could be a hurdle to boosting the amount of electricity in Ohio that comes from renewable sources [and wants Ohio leaders to change the state's taxes to attract wind energy developers and compete with neighboring states, where such energy projects would pay lower taxes].

    "About a year ago, state lawmakers passed a landmark energy bill that requires 12.5 percent of electricity sold in the state to come from renewable sources by 2025. The requirement is being phased in, starting at 0.25 percent this year and escalating each following year."

    Ohio has big wind assets and should not let weak tax policy cause them to go to waste. (click to enlarge)

    "In a letter sent to Gov. Ted Strickland, the association has asked the state to consider charging a production tax on electricity generated by wind turbines, instead of requiring a tangible personal property tax on an electric utility's equipment…Last year, gas and electric utilities paid more than $620 million in tangible personal property taxes…Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Pennsylvania and West Virginia have reduced or eliminated that tax, making them more attractive to potential wind energy developers…"

    Wasting wind assets means wasting all these wind business opportunities. (click to enlarge)

    "Strickland's energy adviser, Mark Shanahan, who also directs the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority, says he first wants to see state-by-state tax comparisons and evaluate some of the group's claims he thinks are inaccurate.

    "Any tax change would require a comprehensive review of utility taxes to be fair, Shanahan said."


    Uranium Production Boost
    Pamela Coyle, May 22, 2009 (Michigan Green)

    "Demand for enriched uranium is escalating. Three facilities in the works will help fill a gap that will hit in 2013, when [a 1995] agreement with Russia to supply [bomb-grade uranium from dismantled Russian warheads for about 40 percent of enrichment uranium] for U.S. nuclear power plants expires.

    "The nation's existing fleet of 104 reactors [and any of the 27 new facilities applied for with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission that come online] must line up their supplies [of uranium] well in advance…Centrifuge technology will anchor all three facilities…The technology is said to be a modern way to enrich uranium…European plants have long used [it]…The only current domestic source of enriched uranium is from a USEC subsidiary in Paducah, Ky., that uses older and energy-gobbling gaseous diffusion technology."

    Energy expert Amory Lovins believes nuclear is already too expensive to be practical...(click to enlarge)

    "Louisiana Energy Services' $3 billion facility…is expected to start commercial production by the end of 2009. USEC's $3.5 billion facility, the American Centrifuge Plant, will run its first tests this summer as a demonstration project and bring some product to market by the end of this year. In December, Paris-based Areva filed its application for a $3.5 billion enrichment plant [with its first phase set for 2014]...

    "Capacity is a big issue…All three plants under development are modular and can expand while online. USEC will turn out 3.8 million "work units" at initial capacity. But it studied the possibility of seven million annually…"

    ...and the new technologies won't make it more affordable. (click to enlarge)

    "Applications from both Areva and USEC for $2 billion in loan guarantees from the U.S. Department of Energy could impact project time lines. Tight credit -- plus the market's historic reluctance to back nuclear projects -- makes access to capital critical. USEC said it should receive priority because it is the only wholly owned U.S. enrichment facility. It also is a better play for better energy security as well as national security and uses more advanced technology…Areva said market conditions justify its application, citing technology with a proven track record and known economics…

    "Centrifuge technology is new for the United States, but third-generation technology is already on the way…The Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved a license for [building a test loop last year…[I]f the global communities shift to low-carbon generation forms that include using more nuclear power, then the demand for uranium will spike. That's what some companies are banking on…"

    Schematic centrifuge technology. The rotating cylinder forces the heavier U-238 atoms to the outside, leaving the lighter U-235 atoms in the middle, separating the enriched and depleted streams to be piped on. (From the the European Nuclear Society. Click to enlarge.)

    Sunday, May 24, 2009


    China tells rich nations to cut 2020 emissions by 40%
    Chris Buckley (w/Tom Miles and Nick Macfie), May 21, 2009 (Thomson Reuters)

    "Rich nations should cut their greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels as part of a new global climate change pact, China said…The pact must ensure wealthy nations "take on quantified targets to drastically reduce emissions", said the statement, issued by the National Development and Reform Commission…

    "Developed countries should also give 0.5 to 1.0 percent of their annual economic worth to help other nations cope with global warming and curtail greenhouse gas emissions, China said…laying down demands for a conference in Copenhagen in December meant to seal a new climate change pact…that will build on the current Kyoto Protocol."

    China is working to beat the best case scenario. (click to enlarge)

    "…[Echoing a document Beijing submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) last month, the] new document pointedly says a new treaty "ensure developed countries that have not ratified the Kyoto Protocol assume corresponding and comparable emissions reduction commitments"…That demand appears aimed at the Obama administration.

    "The United States under President George W. Bush set aside the Kyoto Protocol, citing among its reasons that China and other big developing countries did not assume emissions caps."

    China is working hard to match the West's energy intensity. (click to enlarge)

    "Beijing's latest statement also says that it and other developing countries must be allowed to balance efforts to combat climate change with the need to develop…

    "Experts from the state-run Energy Research Institute… [reported that China's CO2 emissions are likely to keep growing until 2035 and urged massive spending to create a low-carbon economy because emissions] …could reach 5.5 billion tonnes in 2010 and 8.8 billion tonnes in 2035 [before stabilizing]…China is widely believed to be the world's biggest emitter…[although the] latest reported estimates… are much lower than other recent estimates…The projected 2035 peak and then gradual falloff in emissions may be an unsettling prospect for governments and experts who have urged Beijing to take swifter action…"


    California's solar push; A bill pushing rooftop solar panels deserves lawmaker support despite opposition by a union and utilities.
    May 22, 2009 (LA Times)

    "…Consumers who install solar panels get special meters that measure both the amount of excess electricity they send to their utility…and the amount they take…Most use more power than they generate, but because they get credit for their solar contribution, they pay very low energy bills…[P]eople with big roofs in sunny Southern California…generate more power than they use. Under California law, utilities aren't required to pay them for it…AB 920 would change that by ordering utilities to either pay consumers for their power or carry over their credit from year to year."

    The million solar roofs plan needs some help. (click to enlarge)

    "The bill, from Assemblyman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael), is intended to boost the Million Solar Roofs initiative. That package of rebates and other incentives aims to raise the number of solar homes in California from 25,000 in 2006 to 1 million in 2016…[T]here are now about 52,000 solar roofs in the state…

    "Utilities fought ferociously against Huffman's bill last year…and are doing the same now. They argue that solar installations are already heavily subsidized, ultimately by other ratepayers; if consumers were also being paid for the solar power they generate, it would cost non-solar customers even more."

    Solar is going Hollywood. (click to enlarge)

    "…[I]n truth utilities are worried that wide-scale residential solar power would cut into their income, and the union that covers utility workers fears that its members would lose ground if consumers were encouraged to install power plants that wouldn't be built or maintained by the union.

    "…Under the current system, people with solar homes have no incentive to use energy efficiently…[S]ome waste power toward the end of the year just to spite their utility. Huffman's bill would encourage energy efficiency, relieve the grid when power demand peaks and help California reach its million-roof goal, which would heat up national efforts…The Legislature should pass it this time."


    Which Is Better—Biofuels or Bioelectricity?; In the quest for alternative fuels, biofuels and bioelectricity are two of the leading solutions—but one is better for your car and the planet
    Darren Quick, May 21, 2009 (BusinessWeek)

    "Running vehicles on biofuels such as ethanol reduces CO2 emissions and offers a way to lessen the world's reliance on oil…[but] the energy required to produce the biofuel and the land clearing for crops that can result means biofuels aren't necessarily the environmentally friendly solution they initially appear to be…[R]esearchers have analyzed the best way to maximize the "miles per acre" from biomass and discovered that the far more efficient option is to convert the biomass to electricity… for the electric car.

    "…[C]ompared to ethanol used for internal combustion engines, bioelectricity used for battery-powered vehicles would deliver an average of 80% more miles of transportation per acre of crops, while also providing double the greenhouse gas offsets to mitigate climate change."

    Great graphic - click to enlarge

    "…[A] life-cycle analysis of both bioelectricity and ethanol technologies, [took] into account not only the energy produced by each technology, but also the energy consumed in producing the vehicles and fuels…Bioelectricity was the clear winner in the transportation-miles-per-acre comparison, regardless of whether the energy was produced from corn or from switchgrass, a cellulose-based energy crop…[A] small SUV powered by bioelectricity could travel nearly 14,000 highway miles on the net energy produced from an acre of switchgrass, while a comparable internal combustion vehicle could only travel about 9,000 miles on the highway."

    click to enlarge

    "Bioelectricity also offers more possibilities for reducing greenhouse gas emissions through measures such as carbon capture and sequestration, which could be implemented at biomass power stations, but not individual internal combustion vehicles.

    "…Lead author of the study, Elliott Campbell of the University of California, Merced…[said]…[such studies] could be used to ensure that the alternative energy pathways [chosen]… provide the most transportation energy and the least climate change impacts…"

    Friday, May 22, 2009


    Russian Joint Venture Established for Thin-Film Solar
    May 21, 2009 (Sustainable Business via Reuters)

    "Russia's state-run nanotechnologies corporation, Rusnano, announced plans to form a joint venture with the U.K.'s Renovo Group to produce thin film solar modules…in the city of Novocheboksarsk in the Chuvash Republic. The company will [produce]…solar modules, with a planned capacity of one million solar modules per year--the equivalent of 120 megawatts (MW)…

    "Total investment in the project is 20.1 billion rubles (US$638 million). Rusnano will contribute 3.7 billion rubles (US$117 million) to the equity of the new company. In addition, the corporation will offer the project company a loan of 9.8 billion rubles (US$311 million…Rusnano will hold a 49% equity share…Renovo will own a 51% stake and will be responsible for development…"

    click for full report card

    "The project is scheduled to start in 3Q09 and reach the planned capacity in 4Q11. The company revenue in 2015 is estimated at 10.3 billion rubles (327 million)…[It] will work on increasing the effectiveness of the solar modules in cooperation with the Ioffe Physical Technical Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

    "The technology of micromorph silicon thin-film solar modules developed by Swiss company Oerlikon Solar, a world's leader in the solar energy market, is planned to be used as a basic technique."

    click to enlarge

    "Earlier the Supervisory Council of RUSNANO had approved the Corporation's participation in a project to establish Russia's first large-scale complex for production of polycrystalline silicon and monosilane, which are raw materials for the manufacture of solar batteries…Markets in countries in Southern Europe--Italy, Spain, and Greece--and Germany are primary targets for the sale of products.

    "Avelar Energy Group (part of the Renovo Group), which installs and adjusts solar modules in Europe, will handles product sales. In the long term, up to 15% of the solar modules are to be directed toward the Russian market."


    Brazil wind energy sector taking off
    Stuart Grudgings, May 19, 2009 (Reuters)

    "Brazil's wind energy sector is expected to take off this year, boosted by the government's first auction for projects in the renewable energy source on November 25…[S]ome of the main investments, current and planned [are]…

    "…Enerfin, a unit of Spain's Elecnor, operates the biggest wind park in Brazil, the 150 MW Osorio complex in Rio Grande do Sul state, through Brazilian firm Ventos do Sul. It plans to double that capacity.

    "…Spain's Iberdrola operates the 50 MW Rio do Fogo wind farm in Rio Grande do Norte state, and is expected to participate in the November auction."

    click to enlarge

    "…SIIF Energies do Brasil, owned by Citigroup, Liberty Mutual and Black River is investing around 1.7 billion reais ($840 million) to build five wind parks in Brazil, four in Ceara state and one in Rio de Janeiro. They will have a total generating capacity of 342 MW. The company is developing 16 new projects in Brazil to participate in the 2009 auction.

    "…Ventania, owned by Portugal's Martifer and Brazil's Energia Global, has a wind farm in Ceara state and plans to offer another 10 projects with a capacity of 350 MW at the auction."

    click to enlarge

    "…Brazilian renewable power company Bioenergy aims to invest 2.12 billion reais ($1.04 billion) to build four wind farms in the country's northeast with a total capacity of 530 MW.

    "…France's GDF Suez and Australia's Pacific Hydro also have wind power projects in Brazil.

    "…Among turbine manufacturers, Wobben Windpower, a unit of Germany's Enercon, currently dominates…India's Suzlon Energy, Argentina's IMPSA, and Danish firm Vestas Wind are seeking to raise their share."


    Groundwork Laid for Copenhagen Climate Talks
    May 18, 2009 (Environmental Leader)

    "With the first draft of global climate texts complete, individual nations must get down to the business of deciding their positions in advance of final climate talks later this year in Copenhagen, Denmark…A United Nations group…detailed some potential provisions for nuclear power, emissions trading, forests, shipping and aviation.

    "Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said that reaching a global concensus will be difficult to reach. But de Boer said he was heartened by recent climate legislation advances in the United States."

    click to enlarge

    "One of the goals lays beyond the United States ambition, however. The framework suggests that rich nations cut emissions to less than half of 1990 levels by 2018-2022…By 2020, under President Obama’s plan, the U.S. would revert to 1990 emissions levels, far short of the UN climate panel’s goal of half the 1990 levels. Recent compromises by Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee mean that legislation may call for…a 17 percent reduction.

    "The panel discussed ways to allow developed nations to claim carbon trading credits from green investments, such as hydropower or solar, in poor countries. There is dissent on whether to expand such credits to nuclear power plants or carbon capture and storage for fossil fuel plants. The panel said that nations must decide whether to accept, reject or shelve these decisions until 2010 or 2011."

    click to enlarge

    "The framework laid out options for accounting for forestry or land use changes in developed nations.

    "The European Union also is pushing to add international shipping and aviation to carbon trading schemes. Under the existing Kyoto Protocol, fuel burned on planes and ships on international routes is exempt…"

    Thursday, May 21, 2009


    GM's Lutz discloses to Letterman: Chevy Volt electric car will cost about $32,500
    May 21, 2009 (USA Today)

    "The much-anticipated Chevy Volt, the little electric car that's about the only good news coming out of America's largest automaker these days, will sell for about $32,500 after government rebates, retiring GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz disclosed…on CBS' Late Night with David Letterman.

    "The $7,500 rebate would slash a window sticker price anticipated at about $40,000, he said. The car is on track to debut late next year, but Lutz says it won't show up in any real numbers in showrooms until 2011. The U.S.-built Volt is being designed to meet all worldwide standards with the hope that it can be exported to markets around the globe…"

    Lutz with Letterman (and unnamed girl), announcing the affordable pricetag. (click to enlarge)

    "…Lutz explain[ed] GM past electric-car miscues…Letterman explained why Lutz was invited. Letterman said that the invitation was extended after he hosted Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, maker of rival electric cars, on the show and took some swipes at GM and Volt recently. In particular, Letterman said he knocked Volt for its 40-mile electric only range without noting it has an auxiliary gas engine, compared to the 200-mile range of the Tesla roadster, which has no extra powerplant. He wondered why GM built the Saturn EV1 electric car in the 1990s, then abandoned the project."

    Volt will save money in other ways, too. (click to enlarge)

    "Lutz said battery technology was still too primitive when the EV1 was developed. The twin-seater was costing GM probably $100,000 a copy and could only be leased because of limited demand. There was no demand for an electric car because gas was then, and still is, so cheap. After $1 billion in losses, he said, GM called it quits. Noting the 35.5 mile per gallon fleet average that automakers must hit under the Obama administration plans unveiled this week, Lutz said as long as gas is cheap, Americans will want big, powerful vehicles. He compared to the policy to trying to fight obesity by having the government require that clothing only be made in small sizes…

    "Of course, he took a shot back at Tesla. Volt's price will be less than half the tab for a $100,000 Tesla roadster. It will have [an] advanced battery instead of the 6,831 laptop cells at the heart of the Tesla's powerplant. And it will have four seats instead of two. But he did apologize for the way Detroit operated in the 1970s and 1980s…"


    Is Nuclear Power Renewable Energy?
    Keith Johnson, May 21, 2009 (Wall Street Journal)

    "… Republicans have tried—and failed—several times [during the debate over the Waxman-Markey energy and climate bill and its provisions for a national renewable-energy mandate] to pass amendments that would christen nuclear power as a “low-emissions” power source eligible for all the same government incentives and mandates as wind power and solar power…[T]he spat raises a very important question: Is Washington trying to promote cleaner energy in general, or just certain types of energy?

    "Nuclear-power proponents are puzzled by what seems a logical inconsistency on part of Democrats who consistently shoot down the proposals. If the goal is to promote low-emissions power sources, then nuclear power should be part of the mix. If the goal is to promote new power sources, then existing wind and solar power facilities shouldn’t be showered with federal goodies. That is, states that already have loads of wind power would be half-way to meeting new renewable-energy targets without building any new clean energy."

    Can it be a renewable fuel if it comes from a mine? What if the mines are hard to find? Not domestic? (click to enlarge)

    "Even neutral observers, such as MIT, [criticized] nuclear power’s exclusion from nearly all state and the proposed federal renewable-energy standards.

    "One big argument against including nukes in the renewable bag: Uranium is not a renewable resource, unlike the fuel that powers wind farms and solar installations."

    Not that it matters to the hardliners, but nuclear comes with a few other problems that - unlike the New Energies - are getting worse, not better. (click to enlarge)

    "But many of the other arguments against including nuclear power hinge on issues unrelated to its renewable nature. The Center for American Progress, for instance, says including nuclear power in renewable-energy standards would be a mockery. That’s because importing more uranium would worsen energy dependence, and because radioactive nuclear waste is a pollutant. Both may be true; neither is germane.

    "There are reasons enough to be skeptical about the future of nuclear power, from the death of Yucca Mountain to lingering concerns about its cost…[But if the mandate] is meant to be about producing electricity with fewer emissions of greenhouse-gases, it seems odd that nuclear power wouldn’t be under consideration."