NewEnergyNews More: September 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

email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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Your intrepid reporter

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  • Wednesday, September 30, 2009

    WIND GOING FORWARD

    Wind Energy Outlook for North America; Wind Power Generation Capacity and Turbine Deployments: Market Analysis and Forecasts
    Gali Beh and Clint Wheelock, 3Q 2009 (Pike Research)

    "In 2008, U.S. wind power generation capacity passed the 25 GW mark by adding over 8 GW from the year before, which represented the largest individual gain of any country in the world. This growth rate of 50% exceeded that of the year before (45%) indicating that the market is still relatively young and the economic crisis that began in 2008 has not slowed it down…In 2007, generation capacity from renewable sources made up only 4% of the world’s electricity sources, but 16% of new electricity generation capacity additions were from renewables with wind power making up more than 80% of these gains…The year 2009 will be a defining moment for wind power markets around the world. The global economic crisis that began in late 2008 has thrown the industry into confusion, along with most other global industries. Two competing market views exist…"

    "The optimist sees this moment as one of great opportunity and potential growth. The U.S. has enacted renewable energy targets and incentives including feed-in tariffs, renewable energy tax credits, and grants…The recession, rather than dampening public enthusiasm for renewable energy, has highlighted the need for government investments…[F]undamental drivers of the wind power market are fairly recession-resistant. First, total demand for electricity is expected to keep increasing, and electricity prices should continue to increase in the long term…Second, wind energy has several key advantages…Wind power has a lower lifetime cost of kilowatt-hours (kWh) produced and requires less land conversion (in the case of solar) or water diversion (in the case of hydroelectric)…[W]ind energy forecasting models are improving in accuracy at a rate unmatched by solar capture predictions…[and] technological innovations…continue to bring down the overall price…Economies of scale are accelerating…[and] demand for more efficient, more secure, and cleaner sources of electricity will continue to grow."


    Pike sees the short-term outlook as favorable but complicated but...(click to enlarge)

    "The pessimists say…the bottom won’t hit until late 2009 or 2010 since there is a long lag time…The largest impediment to the growth of wind power during a recession is its economic disadvantage to power from traditional fuels…[F]unding for wind energy projects has become significantly tighter…[W]ind power growth is contingent on successfully overcoming current transmission constraints…Existing transmission lines are not always located near wind resources, and it is infeasible to move a significant amount of electricity over long distances…[because] the U.S. is made of three fairly separate and congested regional grids…

    "Shock waves from the global economic recession will affect wind industry players differently. Worst hit will be the small “mom-and-pop” developers…[who] can no longer access the funding…[T]here are 300 GW of wind development projects in the queue in the U.S. alone…Even if the record-breaking 8 GW of new capacity that was installed in the U.S. in 2008 continues, there would still be almost 40 years of projects in the U.S. pipeline. This represents a significant opportunity for large developers with enough cash to pick up the best pre-development projects for bargain prices. Still, one major developer has said that it would not be placing any new turbine orders for delivery in 2011…"


    ...The long-term outlook is outstanding. (click to enlarge)

    "If it’s true that the demand for new turbines will stall or decline during the recession, established turbine manufacturers may not feel the effects until 2010 because they are still fulfilling orders made more than a year ago…Construction of current developments has continued on pace…[but] these will be fulfillments of orders placed before the recession began. New orders are not expected to continue to grow at the rate they have in recent years. Fortunately, many turbine manufacturers (OEM and components) have long-term service contracts that bring in stable annuity revenues that may somewhat compensate for declining new turbine orders. Replacing newly-aging fleets (the wind industry is about 30 years old) may help further stimulate demand…

    "Pike Research’s perspective on the wind energy industry is that it will continue to grow, but not at the pace that was expected prior to 2009. U.S. installed capacity may reach more than 80 GW by 2015. To get there, turbine manufacturers must leverage opportunities and deal with pressures from all sides. On the generally positive side, government policies are favorable…but questionable…Raw materials should be widely available, with the possible exception of some specialty inputs…[T]urbine manufacturers…[are] tapping into economies of scale…improving component reliability, introducing remote sensing and control systems, and continuing to invest in R&D. Wind power has some important advantages over traditional and other renewable sources. Consumers continue to be interested…and demand for electricity will continue to rise…[N]egative pressures [will come from] financing problems and transmission line congestion, lack of reliability, and lack of remote access. Overall, Pike Research expects the turbine sales in the U.S. to grow by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.7% to reach an annual production volume of almost 8,000 turbines (with an average capacity of greater than 1 MW) by 2015."

    NEW ENERGY TO MIDWEST FOR WATER?

    Water woes out west -- could Michigan capitalize?
    Ron Dzwonkowski, September 30, 2009 (Detroit Free Press)

    "…Michigan’s economic future…[could change because] alternative energy projects in the south and west are being stalled or imperiled for lack of water.

    "Gov. Jennifer Granholm and other state leaders have been touting alternative energy — mainly battery development, but also wind power and large-scale solar panels — as a cornerstone of Michigan’s next economy, the one that will have to depend much less on the auto industry and other heavy manufacturing…[Such] large, solar-powered alternative-energy systems require huge amounts of water, for cooling or washing solar panels. Since water is not exactly abundant in places such as California, Nevada and Arizona, maybe [Michigan’s] economic development officials should be sending these companies a map of our pleasant peninsulas and all that blue color surrounding them…"


    click to enlarge

    [Michael Webber, assistant professor and authority on the relationship between energy and water, University of Texas in Austin:] “When push comes to shove, water could become the real throttle on renewable energy.”

    [Todd Woody, NY Times reporter, on water and New Energy:] “…[C]onflicts over water could shape the future of many energy technologies. The most water-efficient renewable technologies are not necessarily the most economical, but water shortages could give them a competitive edge…In California, solar developers have already been forced to switch to less water-intensive technologies when local officials have refused to turn on the tap. Other big solar projects are mired in disputes with state regulators over water consumption.”

    Michigan has great wind and water on 3 sides. (click to enlarge)

    "…[M]oving these projects to Michigan is easier said than done, since the solar-power companies working on them chose the locations they did because of abundant sunshine…But we sure do have water, and an interest in finding ways to capitalize on the resource without exporting it.

    "The solar plant developers in the western states are finding that technologies requiring less water — while more palatable to residents and government officials — also increase their costs to a point that may be prohibitive. While they work on ways to get by with less water, is anyone here in water-rich Michigan working on ways they could get by with less sunshine?"

    GOOGLE SEARCHING FOR V-2-G FIX

    Google working on 'smart' plug-in hybrid charging
    Poornima Gupta (w/Carol Bishopric), September 29, 2009 (Reuters)

    "Google Inc is in the early stages of looking at ways to write software that would fully integrate plug-in hybrid vehicles to the power grid, minimize strain on the grid and help utilities manage vehicle charging load [according to Dan Reicher, Google's director of Climate Change and Energy Initiatives]…

    "Google, known for its Internet search engine, in 2007 announced a program to test Toyota Prius and Ford Escape gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles that were converted to rechargeable plug-in hybrids that run mostly on electricity."


    Department of Energy Secretary Chu recently raised the question. (click to enlarge)

    "One of the experimental technologies that was being tested by the Web search giant allowed parked plug-ins to transfer stored energy back to the electric grid, opening a potential back-up source of power for the system in peak hours…

    "Reicher said Google has been testing its fleet of plug-in hybrids "pretty intensely" for the last couple of years…[T]he company is trying to figure out how to manage the impact of having millions of future electric vehicle owners plugging in their vehicles at the same time…"


    Google can connect the pieces. (click to enlarge)

    "Reicher laid out a scenario where power utilities, during a time of high demand, could turn on or off the charging of electric vehicles. The owner of these vehicles, who have agreed to such an arrangement, would get a credit from the utility in turn…

    "…Google also is working on…its own new mirror technology that could reduce the cost of building solar thermal plants by a quarter or more, and looking at gas turbines that would run on solar power rather than natural gas…The often-quirky company also said in late 2007 that it would invest in companies and do research of its own to produce [New Energy] at a price less than burning coal…casting the move as a philanthropic effort to address climate change."

    GEOTHERMAL GROWING FAST

    U.S. Geothermal Power Production and Development Update
    Dan Jennejohn, September 2009 (Geothermal Energy Association)

    "The United States continues to lead the world.s countries in online geothermal energy capacity and continues to be one of the principal countries to increase its geothermal growth. In 2007 geothermal energy accounted for 4% of renewable energy-based electricity consumption in the United States.1 As of September 2009, geothermal electric power generation is occurring in eight U.S. states: Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. Other states, such as Oregon, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi are soon to be added to the list. As of October 2009, the United States has a total installed capacity of 3152.72 MW…"

    click to enlarge

    "The following results identify up to 6442.9 MW of new geothermal power plant capacity under development in the United States (this includes projects in the initial development phase)…Unconfirmed projects, some of which might be developed in the next few years, increase the potential capacity to 7109.9 MW. There are 14 states with projects currently under consideration or development: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. Between confirmed and unconfirmed projects there are a total of 144 developing projects…

    "As geothermal Technology progresses, resources that were once non-commercial are now being actively examined as feasible possibilities. The following are some of the more commonly discussed areas of future development…

    "…[1] Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS)…[A]ny resource that requires artificial stimulation and includes resources that have to be fully engineered, or ones that produce hydrothermal fluid, but sub-commercially…[S]till a young and not fully proven technology…[2] Geothermal Hydrocarbon Co-production …[G]eothermal fluids are often found in oil and gas production fields as well as certain mining operations…"


    click to enlarge

    "…[3] Geopressured Geothermal Resources…[I]n addition to thousands of megawatts of geothermal energy, these resources hold as much as 1,000 TCF of potentially recoverable gas. Also, it is estimated that in Texas alone, there exists a total geopressured resource of 5,100 EJ…[4] Geothermal Heat Pumps...In the United States, the Geothermal Heat Pump industry has seen continuous growth over the last four years…[S]hipments increased by 36 percent to 86,396 units in 2007…[C]apacity shipped rose 19 percent…Although geothermal heat pumps tend to cost more initially than traditional heating and cooling systems, the high efficiency and ongoing cost-saving potential of geothermal heat pumps has resulted in them becoming more appealing…"

    Tuesday, September 29, 2009

    SUN, LAND, WATER, HABITAT

    Solar Plan Ignites Some Environmental Concerns
    Jeff Brady, September 28, 2009 (National Public Radio)

    "An Obama administration plan to build huge new solar energy plants in the Southwest is causing heartburn in the environmental community.

    "The Interior Department has proposed allowing two dozen solar energy study areas on public land in California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado. These would be industrial facilities that would require huge amounts of land and water to operate…[C]onservation groups generally support the president's campaign for more renewable forms of energy, [but] some local groups are concerned about putting industrial-scale solar projects on public land."


    There are several major types of solar power plant technology...(click to enlarge)

    "In the Southwest, the U.S. government is the largest landowner by far — in Nevada, it owns 85 percent of the state. The Southwest also is one of the best regions in the world for producing energy from the sun…But Terry Weiner of the Desert Protective Council in San Diego opposes [building solar power plants in unpopulated deserts]…

    "She says she understands the climate change arguments for getting more of the country's energy from renewable sources. But she says these projects could displace endangered species, such as the desert tortoise…Around the Southwest, local groups like the Desert Protective Council have similar concerns. But national environmental groups have a slightly different point of view."


    ...and they will have different impacts on water, land and habitat. (click to enlarge)

    "…Alex Daue, renewable energy coordinator for the Wilderness Society…says his group also is concerned about losing the benefits of recreation and habitat for plants and animals. But…climate change [will] have a significant affect on public lands and endangered species, too…The Wilderness Society has pushed the Interior Department to choose properties that already are degraded in some way by past industrial activity or farming…And they've encouraged the department to select parcels that are close to existing transmission lines so new ones won't have to be built…[Both the Wilderrness Society and] the solar energy industry [argue] that rooftop panels alone aren't enough to supply the country's energy needs…

    "…Rhone Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association…says that to replace existing coal-powered energy facilities, the country will need industrial-scale solar-powered ones in addition to things like rooftop solar panels…[He] is frustrated by criticism from within the environmental community, because his industry wants only 670,000 acres of public land…[The oil and gas industry uses over 44.5 million acres of public land]…[A]fter the government evaluates the environmental effects of the solar facilities, the number of acres dedicated to them could grow substantially. And that's what really worries local environmental groups…"

    V-2-G

    Power grid chief touts electric-car payback
    Steve Gelsi, September 28, 2009 (MarketWatch/McClatchy via Philadelphia Inquirer)

    "U.S. power grid chief Jon Wellinghoff is touting the long-term cost savings of electric cars, saying the vehicles could earn $1,500 a year in paybacks for their owners when their batteries are connected to the power grid [using vehicle-to-grid, V-2-G, technology].

    "While electric cars planned for U.S. market in the next few years will likely carry heftier price tags than many gas-powered cars, Wellinghoff [said]…owners of plug-in vehicles will benefit from much lower costs for filling up, cutting down the long term cost of operation."


    click to enlarge

    "On top of saving $3 or $4 a gallon on gasoline in future years, Wellinghoff, chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, said grid operators and power companies could reimburse car owners for the battery storage offered by the roughly 22 hours a day that electric cars would be connected to the nation's power system…

    "Wellinghoff, a lawyer who specialized in energy issues before [being appointed by President Obama as] FERC chairman earlier this year, cited positive moves into green energy under [this] President…[The administration] awarded a $529 million government loan to Fisker Automotive to build electric cars…Tesla Automotive and others have also received hundreds of millions of dollars under government stimulus programs…"


    click to enlarge

    "…[Also,] lithium-ion battery maker A123 Systems Inc. drew strong interest in its initial public offering…While the electric car industry remains in its infancy, proponents of plug-in vehicles expect millions of models on the road in the next 10 years that could collectively add to the nation's power storage capabilities.

    "Sharing the main points of his chapter in…
    Plug-In Electric Vehicles,…edited by David Sandalow, Wellinghoff said growth of solar and wind energy in the U.S. will create a greater need for storage capacity on the grid to smooth out surges in power…Electric car batteries could help take up the storage slack, along with flywheel systems…"

    TOMORROW'S HOME

    FSU "House Of The Future" Uses No Electricity
    Kimberley Chapin, September 29, 2009 (CBS4-Tallahassess)

    "…A $575-thousand house sits in the middle of [Florida State University 's] campus…[Its] futuristic purpose...is to test potential solutions to energy and climate change problems by combining old tricks with cutting-edge technology, including a unique solar-hydrogen experiment.

    "The house has no connection to an electrical grid as a backup power source. Instead, it uses solar energy to run a system that converts water into hydrogen, which generates power at night."

    click to enlarge

    "Besides a hydrogen fuel cell to generate electricity, the gas is burned in the kitchen range and other appliances may follow…[FSU researchers have pioneered hydrogen retrofit technology because] conventional appliances are designed for heavier natural gas and propane. They must be modified to safely burn hydrogen.

    "Hydrogen is a potential low-cost alternative to batteries because storage tanks are comparatively simple and cheap…The problem, though, is that the cost of producing hydrogen is usually high…[but FSU scientists have] developed a way to use relatively cheap and common metals to replace platinum, a critical but rare and high-priced element that makes hydrogen from water electrolysis devices expensive."


    click to enlarge

    "…[T]he technology is going to take more time and money. Hydrogen power may be the ultimate goal, but it could take decades to perfect. In the meantime, the house is being used to demonstrate other technologies that can be applied right now or in just a few years.

    "Simple light shelves under the upper windows reflect incoming sunshine and spread it evenly to avoid hot spots. Other energy-saving technologies include a reflective roof, dual-flush toilets and recycled material such as the wooden beams and trim, aluminum siding and ash in the concrete pilings."

    BRIT SUMS UP CLIMATE SUMMIT

    Clean Energy - Should Rich Nations Subsidise The Poor?
    Roger Harrabin, 28 September 2009 (BBC News)

    "…[W]hat was top priority for climate negotiators seeking political support from world leaders meeting at the G20 last week was not necessarily top priority for the leaders themselves…[D]ecisions left un-taken in Pittsburgh have resounded to rattle the UN climate talks starting this week in Bangkok…[especially] how much cash will be given to help developing countries obtain clean energy supplies.

    "…[T]he need to tie developing countries into a climate deal means that the issue of financing is much more important than before… 90% of the new energy infrastructure over the next few decades will be in the developing world…$100 billion dollars a year is needed to tackle poverty through clean energy by 2020…Some developing countries think the figure should be half as much again."


    President Obama took the first step in Pittsburgh. (click to enlarge)

    "But at the G20 meeting President Obama skirted the issue. His climate policies face potentially insuperable opposition in the US Senate. So now energy funding will be referred back to the G20 finance ministers meeting in November…This is getting very late - and compounds the difficulties of the climate negotiators…

    "It's another example of politics lagging behind the science…[U]nless emissions are cut urgently, global temperatures could rise 4C by the middle of the century, maybe 15C in the Arctic…[I]t's clear that politics as we know it can't yet respond to the urgency of the defined risk…Todd Stern, the chief US climate negotiator who helped negotiate the Kyoto Protocol under President Clinton, told me that the US would not repeat the mistake of signing a climate deal that wouldn't get through Congress."


    Block tariffs: Big users pay a premium for their gluttony while the poor pay low prices. (click to enlarge)

    "The President has been widely condemned by developing countries…But the timing is dreadfully difficult…[Undetermined details of the final U.S. legislation leaves everything uncertain]…President Obama did…[call] for an end to subsidies to fossil fuels…[and an end to the world] spending trillions a year subsidising the very pollution it is theoretically trying to expunge…In many countries the subsidies to the fossil fuel industry - though tax breaks, incentives and failure to pay for "externalities" like polluting the atmosphere - add up to way more than subsidies for [New Energy]…[I]t's easy to give a subsidy to a big polluting industry - but very hard to take it away without facing a barrage of lobbying [by special interests and campaign donors]...

    "It might help if more people knew about the "block tariff" policy invented by Bangladesh. Low users of electricity can buy power very cheaply in order to encourage parents to install light bulbs to educate their children. But the price per kWh increases in blocks, so the rich in mansions on the edge of Dhaka end up paying high prices for their air conditioning and fridge freezers. This is the sort of social innovation politicians need more of if they want to tackle the problems of climate change and development."

    Monday, September 28, 2009

    CHINA TO TEST CAP&TRADE

    China sees emission trading pilot in next economic plan
    Emma Graham-Harrison, September 28, 2009 (Reuters)

    "China plans to include a pilot emissions trading system in its five-year plan for economic development until 2015…[though it is not yet clear] whether it would cover carbon dioxide.

    "The government is already experimenting with small-scale schemes to tackle acid-rain causing sulfur dioxide and other pollutants using market mechanisms…[and has not stated] the potential for expanding these, or adding greenhouse gases to the list of pollutants that can be controlled and traded, but is apparently keen to at least continue exploring their potential."


    China will soon be on the Big Board of emissions trading. (click to enlarge)

    "A trial system for trading in permits to pollute was listed as one of four main emissions reductions goals in official comments about a blueprint for growth in China from 2011 to 2015, which bureaucrats are still thrashing out…The country's top climate change official, Xie Zhenhua, deputy head of the powerful National Development and Reform Commission, declined to clarify how large the trial would be, or whether it would cover greenhouse gases.

    "China is now the world's top annual emitter, and President Hu Jintao pledged at the United Nations to take on a "carbon intensity" goal that would oblige it to cut the amount of carbon dioxide produced for each dollar of its economic output…[C]arbon traders hope this could pave the way for a market like the one currently used in Europe, and have been rushing to secure a potentially lucrative foothold in China even though it is unclear how easy it will be to make money there."


    China is risking these price advantages to cut back its fossil fuel dependence and incentivize New Energy. (click to enlarge)

    "The Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX), owned by UK-based Climate Exchange Plc, has signed a deal to set up a Chinese emissions exchange, but has declined to say how much it will invest or when trading might start.

    "French emissions exchange BlueNext has taken steps toward a carbon trading platform in China, joining with the China-Beijing Environment Exchange to offer clients a database of Chinese carbon-cutting projects and a carbon market standard."

    SCIENTISTS LIKE MINN CLIMATE PLAN

    Report touts Minnesota's energy policy as model for nation
    Larry Bivins, September 27, 2009 (St. Cloud Times)

    "A report that paints a dramatic picture of climate change impact in the Upper Midwest also applauds Minnesota for its renewable energy policy.

    ["Confronting Climate Change in the Midwest-Minnesota] by the Union of Concerned Scientists…says the record heat of the summer of 1988 could become the norm if Minnesota emissions causing global warming are not curbed…[and] cites Minnesota’s requirement that 25 percent of electricity come from renewable resources by 2025 as a model for Washington lawmakers to follow…"

    click to enlarge

    "The House in June passed a bill that calls for a cap-and-trade program, a renewable-electricity standard and greater energy efficiency to reduce carbon emissions — the primary pollutants warming the Earth. The debate now shifts to the Senate.

    "Skeptics of climate change science say what’s happening is more an evolutionary phenomenon than a result of emissions from burning fossil fuels…[They] doubt that the long-term impact will be as serious as predicted…Opponents of the House bill — including Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann, who voted against it — cite that skepticism as reason to reject the proposed legislation."


    click to enlarge

    "They and others also contend that a cap-and-trade system would cause job losses and higher fuel costs for consumers, while having a negligible impact on climate change.
    Supporters counter that the costs of doing nothing are far greater…Kevin Reuther, legal director for the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy…said that while the new UCS report confirms what policymakers have heard for years, state and federal leaders have failed to respond with due attention…Reuther said the House bill was a good start…

    "The Midwest study looks at eight states — Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin…The combined emissions of those states are double the output in the United Kingdom and would make the Midwest the world’s fourth-largest polluter if it were a nation…"

    NEW ENGLAND HAS WIND RICHES

    Windpower A Key Source Of Energy In New England, Report Says
    Harlan Lev, September 27, 2009 (Hartford Business Journal)

    "Windpower can be a significant resource for electricity for Connecticut and the rest of New England, according to a blueprint for developing renewable resources adopted by New England’s six governors and premiers from Eastern Canada at their annual meeting…Windpower is the area’s major renewable resource, a months-long study that is the basis for the blueprint says.

    "The study, by a team of engineers and economists from ISO New England, the region’s electricity grid coordinator, analyzed more than 40 scenarios to integrate primarily large-scale wind resources onshore and offshore into the grid by 2030."


    click to enlarge

    "[Key findings:] …Offshore wind resource integration offers the most cost-effective use of new and existing transmission. The study considered and tested wind resource integration scenarios from 2,000 to 12,000 megawatts…[into New England’s] 31,400 megawatts of electricity…New transmission investment would be required to integrate wind resources…"

    click to enlarge

    "[Further key findings:] …Annual wholesale electricity prices would be generally lower with the addition of renewable wind resources and demand response resources (paying businesses for conservation, voluntary energy cutbacks, and off-peak energy use) because they have low or no fuel costs…Lower levels of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and carbon dioxide result when low-carbon-emitting-resources are used or when older fossil-fueled generators are either retired and replaced by new, natural gas combined-cycle units or repowered with more efficient combustion technologies incorporating new natural-gas fired technology with portions of the existing unit’s infrastructure.

    "The study also considered resources such as plug-in electric vehicles, expanded imports, and energy storage…[It] advocates that the states synchronize power procurement and long-term power contract activities and coordinate reviews of proposed interstate transmission facilities needed to reach renewable resources distant from population centers…"

    SUN ON THE ROOF

    Solar Power, Without All Those Panels
    Annie Eisenberg, September 26, 2009 (NY Times)

    "The main way for homes to harness solar power today is through bulky panels added to the rooftop or mounted on the ground…But companies are now offering alternatives to these fixed installations, in the less conspicuous form of shingles, tiles and other building materials that have photovoltaic cells sealed within them…

    "…[C]alled building-integrated photovoltaics…Companies are creating solar tiles and shingles in colors and shapes that fit in, for example, with the terra cotta tile roofing popular in the Southwest, or with the gray shingles of coastal saltbox cottages."


    click to enlarge

    "SRS Energy…is making curved solar roofing tiles designed to blend in with Southern California’s traditional clay tiles…A solar tile system that met half the power needs of a typical California home would cost roughly $20,000 to install after rebates…about 10 to 20 percent more than solar panels… U.S. Tile…a maker of clay tiles, will be selling SRS’s Solé Power Tiles …It will be taking orders perhaps as early as November for shipment in January… SRS Energy buys the photovoltaic cells that cover its roofing from United Solar Ovonic, a maker of flexible solar modules…[and] bonds the silicon cells to the curved Solé tiles, which are made of the same basic material as car bumpers…

    "The cells have been installed at several demonstration sites…Rather than creating an entire new roof with the solar tiles, [one homeowner]…chose to insert them in his existing roof, replacing about 300 square feet of terra cotta tiles; the job took about four hours…The solar insert in the roof will generate about 2,400 kilowatt hours of electricity a year, enough to cover a quarter to a third of a typical electric bill…"


    click to enlarge

    "A different solar material for the roofs and sides of buildings is being produced by Global Solar Energy…Atomized layers of a photovoltaic coating called CIGS are deposited in layers on a thin sheet…Crystalline photovoltaic cells, the same type as in fixed panel installations, are used within the ceramic tiles available from, among others, the Italian company System Photonics. The cells are held in place and sealed from moisture by a clear plastic protective layer made by DuPont…The tiles come in 13 colors…[B]uilt-in solar power [is] just starting in the United States, where the bulk of the installations [are] still experimental. But that will change…[T]he market for the building-integrated products [is] promising…[but depends] on when the construction and real estate markets…recover. The best time to install the photovoltaics in terms of cost and design is during building construction…

    "…[G]overnment subsidies [could] speed adoption of building-integrated photovoltaics in the United States, as they already have in Europe…In France, Germany and other countries, building-integrated solar markets are growing quickly because of subsidies and programs that pay homeowners for the electricity they generate and feed back to the power grid…[T]he incentives help homeowners in repaying the systems’ costs in five to seven years…[Experts believe aesthetics also] will be crucial to the popularity of building-integrated solar cells…"

    Saturday, September 26, 2009

    NEW REPORTS SHOW HUGE NEW ENERGY JOBS PROMISE

    Report touts global low carbon job boost; Think tanks call on G20 leaders to act together to create the efficient low carbon markets
    Tom Young, 25 September 2009 (Business Green)

    "…[The G20 Governments] could create tens of millions of new jobs by agreeing to invest in low carbon technologies, according to…[Creating Opportunity; Low-carbon jobs in an interconnected world] by the Global Climate Network of think tanks.

    "The report argues that bold government policies to promote rapid growth in climate-friendly innovations and industries represent one of the most effective means of tackling rising unemployment…[and] concludes that measures to creating markets for low carbon technologies will serve the dual purpose of creating extra jobs in renewable energy, information technology and service sectors, as well as helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions."


    From a report by one of the Global Climate Network think tanks. (click to enlarge)

    "Policies the report recommends include ambitious renewable energy targets, increased R&D funding for clean technologies, the creation centres of excellence for low carbon technology, financial support mechanisms such as feed-in tariffs, phasing out subsidies for carbon-intensive industries, and taxing carbon emissions…The report argues that the positive economis and environmental benefits of such policies will be significantly multiplied if they are adopted in a globally co-ordinated manner, instead of being enacted within separate countries…

    "While jobs will be lost in conventional, carbon-intensive sectors, Global Climate Network's research shows that more jobs will be created than lost provided that policies are ambitious enough."


    From a report by one of the Global Climate Network think tanks. (click to enlarge)

    "For example, the study predicts China's existing plans to decouple emissions from economic growth and develop new low carbon industries could lead to the creation of over 40 million new jobs. In contrast, there may be 10 million fewer new jobs created due to closure of factories with inefficient technologies in the manufacturing, construction and transport sectors.

    "The findings echo earlier research from Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), the UK member of the GCN, which suggested that up to 70,000 long-term jobs could be created in the UK offshore wind industry with strong government support…Similarly, a recent study from Greenpeace and the European Renewable Energy Council predicted that shifting from a high to a low carbon energy infrastructure could deliver a net increase in EU employment of 2.7 million jobs by 2030."

    WIND HAS JOBS, NEEDS RES

    Global wind leaders push climate legislation
    Sandy Shore, September 24, 2009 (AP via Forbes)

    "The wind power business will grow at a slower pace, buffeted by stiff competition from Europe and China, unless Congress approves climate change legislation, global industry leaders said…

    "The leaders pressed their case at a Washington, D.C., news conference called as federal legislation is pending that would curb carbon emissions and require utilities to generate a percentage of electricity from renewable sources…Without such legislation, the industry will have a more difficult time attracting investors, manufacturers and wind farm developers, who could be lured to China or Europe where such regulations are in place, said Denise Bode, chief executive of the American Wind Energy Association…"


    click to enlarge

    "Bode was joined by representatives of manufacturers, wind farm owners, the Global Wind Energy Council and the European Wind Energy Association.

    "Congress is considering legislation that would impose nationwide limits on greenhouse gases and require utilities to produce at least 12 percent of their electricity from renewable sources such as wind and solar by 2020…A bill has been approved by the House but Senate action has been delayed as lawmakers debate overhauling the health care system."


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    "The White House and many Democrats say the changes will create millions of green-energy jobs and reduce reliance on coal, oil and natural gas…Some Republicans contend the legislation could hurt job growth in oil-producing states and hamper development of new technologies for fossil fuel production.

    "Denmark's Vestas Wind Systems A/S, the world's biggest wind turbine manufacturer, entered the U.S. market in California in the 1980s … "went bust" in 1986 after that state altered its regulations, said Peter Brun, who heads Vestas' government affairs…[but] today has 2,000 U.S. employees with plans to expand to 4,500 by the end of 2010 and invest $1 billion in Colorado manufacturing operations over the next few years…"

    HOUSTON TO BUILD BIG SUN

    Houston to get state's largest solar plant
    Elizabeth Souder, September 25, 2009 (Dallas Morning News)

    "NRG Energy Inc. will build [Texas’s] largest solar array in Houston and sell all of the power it makes to the city.

    "NRG plans to spend $40 million to build a 10-megawatt solar plant on land near a natural gas plant that the company operates, NRG and the city said…[It will be a] small and expensive power plant. But building one of the first such plants in Texas allows NRG to study the technology and decide whether to install more solar arrays."


    The important value of solar is it adds power juet when power is most needed. (click to enlarge)

    "The project also allows the city of Houston to diversify its fuel mix – a key concern after hurricanes Katrina and Rita wiped out some Gulf Coast oil and natural gas infrastructure…[T]he city already gets 32 percent of the power it needs for city buildings from wind. City officials, driven by Mayor Bill White, wanted to add solar to the mix.

    "The solar plant is large for its type, but tiny and pricey for a power plant. Compare the solar array to NRG's plans for new nuclear reactors. The reactors would have 2,700 megawatts of capacity and cost $10 billion. So, at $3.7 million per megawatt, even a nuclear plant costs less than a solar array, at $4 million per megawatt…[T]he panels make sense for NRG, because it can erect the system on land it already owns, near power plants with grid connections."


    The potential to smooth peaking demand (in Pennsylvania, Texas or anywhere) is enormously valuable. (click to enlarge)

    "The solar plant is scheduled to be on line in the second quarter of next year. The city will pay 8.2 cents per kilowatt-hour for 10 megawatts of electricity capacity. But since the solar panels only make electricity when the sun is shining, NRG will supplement with power from other plants.

    "For the solar portion of the power, Houston will pay 19.8 cents per kilowatt-hour…The city will pay a market rate for the rest of the power, amounting to a total rate of around 8.2 cents…"

    PLUGGED IN AND POWER HUNGRY

    Plugged-In Age Feeds a Hunger for Electricity
    Jad Mouwad and Kate Galbreath, September 19, 2009 (NY Times)

    "…Electricity use from power-hungry gadgets is rising fast all over the world. The fancy new flat-panel televisions everyone has been buying in recent years have turned out to be bigger power hogs than some refrigerators.

    "The proliferation of personal computers, iPods, cellphones, game consoles and all the rest amounts to the fastest-growing source of power demand in the world. Americans now have about 25 consumer electronic products in every household, compared with just three in 1980…Worldwide, consumer electronics now represent 15 percent of household power demand, and that is expected to triple over the next two decades…"


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    "To satisfy the demand from gadgets will require building the equivalent of 560 coal-fired power plants, or 230 nuclear plants…[E]nergy experts see only one solution: mandatory efficiency rules specifying how much power devices may use…Appliances like refrigerators are covered by such rules in the United States. But efforts to cover consumer electronics like televisions and game consoles have been repeatedly derailed by manufacturers worried about the higher cost of meeting the standards. That has become a problem as the spread of such gadgets counters efficiency gains made in recent years in appliances.

    "In 1990, refrigerator efficiency standards went into effect in the United States. Today, new refrigerators are fancier than ever, but their power consumption has been slashed by about 45 percent…Likewise, thanks in part to standards, the average power consumption of a new washer is nearly 70 percent lower than a new unit in 1990…"


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    "Part of the problem is that many modern gadgets cannot entirely be turned off; even when not in use, they draw electricity while they await a signal from a remote control or wait to record a television program…The biggest offender is the flat-screen television. As liquid crystal displays and plasma technologies replace the old cathode ray tubes, and as screen sizes increase, the new televisions need more power than older models do. And…Americans are spending more time than ever watching TV, averaging five hours a day…The result is a surge in electricity use by TVs, which can draw more power in a year than some refrigerators…Another power drain is the video game console, which is found in 40 percent of American households. Energy experts — and many frustrated parents — say that since saving games is difficult, children often keep the consoles switched on so they can pick up where they left off…

    "Mandatory efficiency standards for electronic devices would force manufacturers to redesign their products, or spend money adding components that better control power use…Many manufacturers fight such mandates because they would increase costs, and they also claim the mandates would stifle innovation in a fast-changing industry…The government has never aggressively tackled the television issue because of opposition from the consumer electronics lobby…Some types of home electronics are rated under Energy Star, a program that classifies products in more than 60 categories according to their energy consumption. But that program, while a boon to conscientious consumers who buy only the most efficient products, does not prevent the sale of wasteful devices and has not succeeded in driving them off the market…"

    Wednesday, September 23, 2009

    WIND WANTS NEW ENERGY STANDARD

    Wind-Turbine Makers Press for Green Mandates
    Russell Gold, September 22, 2009 (Wall Street Journal)

    "Wind-turbine makers say growth in their industry could dramatically slow unless the federal government requires more electricity come from renewable energy…New federal stimulus grants helped restart a stalled wind-power industry, but Vic Abate, a General Electric Co. vice president in charge of its wind-turbine business, said orders for wind turbines to be built in 2012 and thereafter have been 'extremely light.'

    "…[W]ind-power installation by 2012 could fall back to one-third of last year's construction levels without additional government support…The biggest impact will be felt by the wind-turbine makers. Last year, GE made 43% of the turbines in the U.S. market. Competitors including Denmark's Vestas Wind Systems A/S, Germany's Siemens AG and India's Suzlon Energy Ltd. each held about 10% of the market…Vestas, the second-largest turbine manufacturer in the U.S., recently reported its order backlog in North and South America was down 66.6% from a year earlier…[A] strong renewable-energy standard is needed to spur renewable-energy growth."


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    "…[T]he U.S. wind industry has made passage of a national renewable-electricity standard -- a requirement for electric power from sources such as wind, solar and geothermal -- a top priority…[The industry’s] pitch to lawmakers is jobs…[W]ind power added 35,000 jobs in the past year.

    "Numerous states already have passed renewable-electricity requirements, including California, where the governor last week signed an order requiring 33% of electricity come from renewable sources by 2020…But the wind industry insists that a national policy is needed to spur utilities to sign long-term deals for renewable energy. Without these long-term deals, wind farms can't get financing. And without wind-farm development, the thousands of jobs manufacturing high-tech blades, towers and other turbine parts could be in jeopardy."


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    "Critics aren't convinced…[T]he Institute for Energy Research, a free-market energy think tank, said the government shouldn't be promoting renewable energy through mandates…But wind energy has been a success story for the U.S., which generates more electricity from wind than any other country. In 2008, about 8.5 gigawatts of wind power, capable of powering more than two million homes, were installed in the U.S.

    "The federal government has been responsive to the needs of the wind industry…[C]ash grants to wind-farm developers…[are] helping restart wind projects stalled by the financial crisis. But the industry is not seeing many new orders for wind farms to be built in 2012 and 2013. Typically, turbine orders are placed two to three years ahead of construction…The climate bill passed by the House of Representatives in June -- and now under consideration in the Senate -- calls for 20% of electricity to come from renewable sources by 2020. A [Senate bill]… requires a weaker standard: 15% of electricity from renewable sources by 2021…[T]he lower standard would stall wind growth for five years…[but the] lower standard may be too high for some utilities…"

    CLIMATE GETS DAY IN COURT

    States Can Sue Utilities Over Emissions
    Matthew L. Wald, September 21, 2009 (NY Times)

    "A two-judge panel of a federal appeals court has ruled that big power companies can be sued by states and land trusts for emitting carbon dioxide. The decision…overturns a 2005 District Court decision that the question was political, not judicial.

    "A panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in New York, ruled that eight states — California, Connecticut, Iowa, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin — as well as New York City and three land trusts could proceed with a suit against American Electric Power, Southern Corporation, the Tennessee Valley Authority, Xcel Energy and Cinergy Corporation, all large coal-burning utilities."


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    "The case, brought in 2004, said the defendants were creating a “public nuisance” and sought reductions in emissions that scientists say are changing the climate. The states cited studies from the United Nations and the National Academy of Sciences that predicted damage and said in fact that their environments had already been damaged. The land trusts said that an increase in sea level would inundate their properties, among other problems…The power companies said that the federal courts had never recognized an argument in common law that greenhouse gas emissions contribute to global warming, and that if action were to be taken, Congress would have to do it.

    "The lower court agreed…that if they found in favor of the states and the land trusts, the courts would have to figure out how to cap emissions, set reduction goals and a schedule for achieving them, and take other steps that would seem to require legislation…The appeal was…decided by Joseph M. McLaughlin, who was appointed to the court in 1990 by the first President George Bush, and Peter W. Hall, nominated in 2003 by the second President Bush."


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    "Matt Pawa, the lead lawyer for the Open Space Institute and the Audubon Society of New Hampshire, both plaintiffs, said…[courts serve to protect citizens from harm]…At the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group that was not a plaintiff, David Doniger, a senior lawyer, said the best way to fight global warming was to have Congress act…[and the court’s decision allows Congress and the EPA to do their jobs but holds power companies accountable if they don’t]…At American Electric Power, Pat D. Hemlepp, a spokesman, said the company’s lawyers had not decided whether to appeal…[but still believe legislation would be the best approach…]

    "Many participants in the global warming debate appear to prefer a decision by the Congress, because it could balance competing interests, between and among regions and industries, to cut emissions of global warming gases…But [the court’s] decision means that all three branches of the federal government could have a role. In addition to the possibility that Congress will act, the Supreme Court held in April 2007, that global warming gases were a pollutant under the Clean Air Act, and thus could be regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency."

    TOMORROW'S SUN ON YESTERDAY'S WASTE

    Solar power plant on landfill could benefit thousands
    Scott Wong, September 20, 2009 (The Arizona Republic)

    "…Tessera Solar, which has offices in Scottsdale, has proposed a privately funded project using its solar-thermal dish technology known as SunCatcher [at Phoenix's only active landfill]…Its technology uses the sun's rays to heat up hydrogen, which in turn powers an engine and creates electricity.

    "Tessera has already partnered with the Salt River Project on Maricopa Solar LLC, a 1.5-megawatt project in Peoria that will have 60 dishes running by January…The Phoenix project, to be located off Arizona 85 in Buckeye, calls for 7,000 SunCatcher dishes, each 38 feet wide by 40 feet tall…The project would generate 175 megawatts, enough to power about 27,000 Valley homes…"


    Tessara's remarkable, futuristic Stirling Energy System solar power plant. An array of them will be positioned on a Phoenix landfill. (click to enlarge)

    "Seeking to boost the Valley's solar economy and cut its greenhouse-gas emissions, Phoenix said earlier this year that it planned to lease land it owns in Buckeye for a solar-power plant…The plant would sit on a vacant 1,200-acre parcel reserved for future landfill use and could operate for up to 30 years.

    "City officials estimate about $1 billion in private investment would be required to build the plant…A review panel, composed of Phoenix staffers, a Buckeye official, and business community representatives, evaluated proposals submitted…"


    Schematic of the Tessara/Stirling solar device. Its minimal water requirements may have given it an edge in the competition. (click to enlarge)

    "A City Council subcommittee will…[either] recommend full council approval to begin negotiating with Tessera, or to negotiate simultaneously with Tessera and second-ranked Johnson Controls Inc…[which] proposed a plant powered by highly efficient photovoltaic or solar panels…Both firms said they planned to incorporate landfill gas into their project, taking advantage of the nearby city dump and the gas pipeline that passes through the property…

    "The full council is set to vote on the proposal in October, with contract negotiations with the winning bidder expected to run through early 2010…While the bidder would own the plant, Phoenix is seeking an agreement to share revenue from energy production…The partnership could allow the city to be a part owner of the plant or the renewable-energy credits that will be sold to a utility provider like SRP or APS."

    PLUG-IN START-UP FISKER GETS $500 MIL

    Plug-in hybrid maker Fisker Automotive gets $529 million from Obama administration; The loan will go toward development and production of its Karma plug-in hybrid sedan and development of Project Nina, its next-generation plug-in.
    Ken Bensinger, September 22, 2009 (LA Times)

    "In its latest bid to help finance the car of tomorrow, the Obama administration said it would [make a $528.7-million low-interest loan] to…Fisker Automotive Inc. to develop a pair of plug-in hybrids…[Part of] a $25-billion Department of Energy program to fund development of alternative vehicles…[the loans] will help create or save 5,000 jobs at Fisker and its suppliers…

    "…[The] department lent [has] $8 billion to a variety of other automakers and suppliers under the same program…The loans to Fisker are sure to spur the rivalry between it and Tesla Motors Inc., maker of a $109,000 all-electric sports coupe called the Roadster. Tesla…was awarded $465 million…to build its second all-electric car, a sub-$50,000 sedan…"


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    "Fisker plans to use $169.3 million of its loan to finish development and production of its $87,900 plug-in hybrid sedan, the Karma. That car will not be built in the U.S. Instead, Fisker is contracting Valmet Automotive Inc., a Finland-based company, to assemble the Karma. Still, the Energy Department estimates that 65% of the vehicle's parts will come from U.S. suppliers.

    "Fisker will use the majority of the loan funds to develop its next-generation vehicle, called Project Nina…a plug-in that would be built in the U.S. and cost $47,400. The automaker hopes to sell 75,000 to 100,000 of the cars per year, starting in 2012. Fisker has not yet announced a location for its U.S. production facility, although it does have an engineering office in Pontiac, Mich…A release date for the Karma, originally set to come out late this year, has been pushed back twice: first to next spring and now, according to Fisker, next summer…"


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    "…Tesla began delivering its Roadsters early last year, and more than 500 have sold to date…[With] a range of about 220 miles on a single charge…The Roadster is assembled in England, under contract by automaker Lotus. Tesla plans to build a battery factory in the Bay Area as well as an auto assembly plant in the Los Angeles area, where production of the Model S would begin in late 2011, but no final sites have been announced yet.

    "Although a variety of new technologies are being considered for future generations of cars, no clear winner has emerged. While vehicles such as the Roadster run on battery power alone, Fisker's plug-in hybrids have both electric motors and gasoline engines on board and use them in concert. Because plug-ins have far larger batteries than hybrids such as the Toyota Prius and can be charged using an electrical outlet, they have the potential to be considerably more fuel-efficient…[O]ther automakers, including General Motors Co., are developing similar plug-in technology, but none have come to market yet in the U.S."

    Tuesday, September 22, 2009

    IT TAKES A WORLD TO FIGHT CLIMATE CHANGE

    Costs of climate change deal would drop with truly global agreement, says report; Climate Group says full collaboration between rich and poor countries would help reduce costs of reaching carbon targets
    Suzanne Goldenberg, 21 September 2009 (UK Guardian)

    "A truly global climate change deal — with full collaboration from the developed and developing world — would dramatically reduce the costs of dealing with global warming and moving to a clean energy economy, [according to Breaking The Climate Deadlock; Cutting the Cost - The Economic Benefits of Collaborative Climate Action from former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair’s] Climate Group…

    "The report said a broad-based [international] agreement with ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions would amplify the potential cost savings and benefits — including job creation and rise in GDP — of dealing with climate change…[S]uch a deal could create up to 10m new jobs by 2020, stimulate additional economic growth and accelerate sustainable development in developing countries."


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    "Costs of carbon would also drop dramatically, said the report, the more countries join a global trading agreement to help meet targets on reducing emissions…Researchers at Cambridge found that a tonne of carbon would cost $65 for the European Union — if operating alone — to cut its emissions by 30% over 1990 levels. But if the US joined an agreement, the price of carbon would fall to $28. The carbon cost could drop much lower — to about $4 a tonne — if there were a "global green new deal" involving developed and developing countries agreed at the Copenhagen climate change meeting in December, the researchers found.

    "…[The] agreement would have to be carefully constructed to encourage the rapid development of cleaner cars, and more efficient power stations and buildings, the report warns. Less ambitious targets would mean lower gains in terms of GDP and job creation…[The report] used computer simulations of economic activity, energy generation and greenhouse gas emissions developed by the Cambridge centre for climate change mitigation and Cambridge Econometric to make cost estimates of a range of scenarios."


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    "It [was] released at the start of a week…focused on climate change…[A New York] is aimed at getting industrialised countries to commit to deep cuts in carbon emissions…G20 leaders [in Pittsburgh] will take on the increasingly contentious issue of climate finance: how to fund the move to cleaner energy technology in developing countries as well as protect the poorest countries who are the most vulnerable to surging seas and extreme temperatures brought by climate change.

    "…[The Cutting The Cost report] seeks to build on earlier findings from the Stern review and others that it will cost far less to act now to mitigate man-made climate change than to deal with its catastrophic consequences…The benefits of a truly global deal would arrive through the greater efficiencies of economies of scale, knowledge sharing, and expanded trade and markets in new technology…The models showed slight increases in GDP under all the scenarios — though the greatest gains were in the event of a global agreement. In that case, projected global GDP would register a 0.8% increase over GDP with no climate action in 2020…There would also be more jobs created — 10 million by 2020 under a global deal compared with 1.1 million jobs if the EU acts alone."

    FUTURAMA!

    On Going; Mobilizing America’s Transportation Revolution

    "America’s future as a global leader depends on new, advanced transportation solutions capable of handling the realities of global economics, serious environmental issues, energy and resource scarcity, changing public values and national security.

    "…
    [Futurama 2.0: Mobilizing America’s Transportation Revolution; Assembling a visionary team to create innovative, sustainable and viable solutions for all future transportation in the United States, by David Muyres and Geoff Wardle, offers solutions that] should be considered and developed as a totally integrated systems network rather than a patchwork of separate systems."

    The future of personal transport is coming fast. Wardle and Muyres say it's time to plan smart for it. (click to enlarge)

    "The timing is now perfect for America’s forward-thinking political leadership to appoint a truly independent, multi-disciplinary, design-based team to create a compelling vision for this country’s long-term transportation needs…[A vision] that addresses energy, water, ecology and transportation from a holistic systems perspective…[and defines] a blueprint for the next 50 years…[on which] smart and reliable government policy can be created with clarity and confidence…

    "The original 1939 Futurama vision exhibited at the New York World’s Fair and the subsequent Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 radically transformed American society and its economy. The resulting national highway system allowed the country to flourish for decades. Today, however, transportation as we know it…is in serious trouble…[A] Futurama 2.0 vision is needed for the next 50 years and beyond."


    From RetroRacer13 via YouTube

    "To create such a vision and help turn it into reality requires an extraordinary, multi-disciplinary core team…[using] the design discipline…[and] embracing the input and expertise of many disciplines…[to create] a future transportation blueprint derived from the Futurama 2.0 vision…

    "The four major motivations…[are] (1) the highest ecological standards, (2) long-term American prosperity, (3) social equity, and (4) national security…Futurama 2.0 offers the [current bold White House] administration a way to generate optimism and solutions based on a fully researched and validated vision that the American people can trust and enthusiastically support…Extraordinary nations require extraordinary solutions—and extraordinary solutions require an extraordinary team."

    LOTS OF WIND IN INDIA

    Wind Power Holds the Key to Provide India with Clean, Green Energy Fast; Indian wind energy could cover 24% of the country’s power needs by 2030
    September 9. 2009 (Global Wind Energy Council)

    "Honorable Minister for New and Renewable Energy, Dr. Farooq Abdullah released a book titled Indian Wind Energy Outlook 2009… published jointly by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) and Indian Wind Turbine Manufacturers Association (IWTMA).

    "The study examines the potential of wind power in India up to the year 2030 and found that the technology, re-powering, untapped off-shore potential and furthering wind resource assessment could play a key part in the nation’s effort to provide energy to its ever growing demand in an economy which will boom and at the same time combat climate change…"


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    "The report explains how wind energy can provide up to 24% of the India’s power needs by 2030 while attracting 475 bn Rs in investment every year and creating 213,000 ‘green collar’ jobs in manufacturing, project development, installation, operation, maintenance, consulting etc. At the same time, it would save a total of 5.5 bn tons of CO2 in that timeframe.

    "The [report] explores three different scenarios for wind power – a Reference scenario based on figures from the International Energy Agency (IEA); a Moderate version which assumes that current policy measures and targets for renewable energy are met; and an Advanced Scenario which assumes that all policy options in favour of renewables have been adopted. These are then set against two demand projections for electricity demand…"


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    "To date, 10 Indian states have implemented supporting policies for wind energy. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) is currently considering plans to introduce Generation Based Incentive (GBI) which is expected to attract Foreign Director Investment (FDIs) and Independent Power Producers (IPPs).

    "The report is part of a wind industry campaign entitled ‘Wind Power Works’, which is coordinated by GWEC and supported by IWMTA. Its aim is to increase government awareness and positive action on wind energy in the run up to the COP 15 climate talks in Copenhagen in December 2009…The Indian Wind Turbine Manufacturers Association (IWTMA) is the only industrial body representing the country’s wind turbine manufacturers…[and] a founding member of the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC)…The Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) [with a membership of 1,500 organizations] is the credible and representative forum for the entire wind energy sector at the international level…"

    FOR BETTER EMISSIONS TRADING

    Report Warns That Carbon Derivatives Markets Pose Threats Congress Has Not Addressed
    Kelly Trout, September 22, 2009 (Friends of the Earth via Common Dreams)

    "The carbon trading system that would be created by the energy bill that passed the House of Representatives in June would be complex, volatile and prone to gaming. That’s the conclusion of a new report…by Friends of the Earth."

    "…[Simpler, Smaller and More Stable: Designing carbon markets for environmental and financial integrity] also finds that emerging proposals to regulate derivatives are necessary but not sufficient to ensure the integrity of carbon markets. Instead, the report concludes, if policymakers wish to use a cap-and-trade system as a tool to reduce global warming pollution, they must design the system to be much simpler, smaller, and more stable than current proposals."

    The Friends of the Earth report aims to make cap&trade better. (click to enlarge)

    [Michelle Chan, author, Simpler, Smaller and More Stable:] “The byzantine carbon trading system that came from the House, and may now be included in the Senate bill, looks nothing like your textbook emissions trading scheme. It’s complex and has unique characteristics that demand attention…Fortunately, such a system has not yet been put in place. There’s still time to do this right. Simpler is better; the more that bells and whistles are included, the more chances there are to game the system.”

    "The report suggests carbon trading could be made more straightforward by only allowing the trading of emissions permits (and excluding carbon offset credits) and by discouraging Wall Street speculators from dominating carbon markets…"

    Monday, September 21, 2009

    STUDYING STUPID

    Are We Living in ‘The Age of Stupid’?
    Andrew C. Revkin, September 21, 2009 (NY Times)

    "…The Age of Stupid…is a scorching appeal for humans to avoid knowingly up-ending the earth’s climate, delivered from the vantage-point of 2055, when the giant London Eye ferris wheel looks more like a waterwheel, with its bottom immersed in the Thames, along with much of central London. Its narrator, played by Pete Postlethwaite, is a Beckett-style loner who is a caretaker for all that remains of human science, culture and history, packed in a tower rising from the wave-dappled Arctic Ocean somewhere near the North Pole…

    "The film starts at the end, spinning through a fast-forward collection of the worst possible worst-case scenarios for climate should no effort be made to curb greenhouse gases. By 2055, the planet has been ravaged by drought and storm, coastlines have flooded, millions have been dislocated or thrust into conflict. Flicking a touch-screen computer, the caretaker of the Arctic archive, a variant on Dickens’ Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, wiles away the hours scrolling through video snippets from our decade, musing on how we had the knowledge and tools to transform our energy system, but chose to stick with business as usual."


    Interview with The Age of Stupid director Franny Armstrong. Trailer follows. From MarcGunther via YouTube

    "…[The film] is the product of six years of improvisational fund-raising, filmmaking and distribution work by Franny Armstrong, a Briton best known for McLibel, her documentary on a seven-year court battle between McDonald’s and two vegetarian anti-meat, anti-corporate campaigners…From the beginning, around 2002, [Ms. Armstrong] said one goal was to humanize the climate challenge the same way the feature film “Traffic” took on the sweeping story of the drug trade. Initially she planned a conventional documentary following the stories of six people in different parts of the world whose lives were interrelated in some way by energy and related conflicts (including the war in Iraq). These characters include a wealthy entrepreneur in India who wants to end poverty while creating the country’s first discount airline; a young woman in Nigeria who aspires to be a doctor but scratches a living in lands fouled by oil extraction; a young man in England fighting to install wind turbines but facing strident opposition from wealthy landowners who say they are worried about global warming, but appear more worried about their view.

    "The wind-power fight presents just about the most vivid portrait of the “nimby” (not in my back yard) syndrome that I can recall seeing. The scenes in India, with Jeh Wadia, the entrepreneur, traveling by private jet and chauffeured car, may not play well there or in other fast-growing developing countries, where millions of people are trying to build businesses. But Ms. Armstrong said she’s still in touch with the airline tycoon and he harbors no hard feelings."


    Message from the President of the Maldives from Age of Stupid on Vimeo.



    "The name for the film came from a comment by Alvin DuVernay, who spent decades working for Shell Oil in the Gulf of Mexico and lost his New Orleans home in Hurricane Katrina…Ms. Armstrong said she decided the material needed to be framed from the future because so much of the climate challenge derives from the time lag between emissions and the resulting climate change…Her first structure had two teenagers as narrators, but she realized that would result in viewers being bombarded with blame from end to end. She eventually settled on the curator character — whose tone is more a mix of sardonic and wistful than purely accusatory — and reached out to Mr. Postlethwaite after she learned he was trying to get a wind turbine installed on his home.

    "Ms. Armstrong, not content with pushing for climate action through the film alone, has helped create several new initiatives, one being
    NotStupid.org, and the other the 10:10 movement, which is trying to get companies, schools, organizations and everyone else to commit to cutting emissions of greenhouse gases 10 percent by 2010…The film opens in 440 theaters in the United States Monday evening and in 63 countries at last count, ranging from Israel to Madagascar. (There would have been 64, but the Nigerian government just canceled the screening in Lagos, she said, after realizing that part of the film focuses on accusations of government human-rights violations and misuse of oil money.)…"

    THE INTENSITY OF EMISSIONS

    Carbon intensity in focus as China's Hu heads to UN
    Emma Graham-Harrison (w/Gerard Wynn and David Fox), September 21, 2009 (Reuters)

    "China's President Hu Jintao may lay down a carbon intensity target for his country at [the UN Summit on Climate Change]…as he seeks to show Beijing's commitment to fighting climate change.

    "A pledge from the world's biggest emitter to cut the amount of greenhouse gasses produced for each dollar of national income -- while short of an absolute cap on output -- would counter critics of Beijing who says it is taking too little action…It could also pressure other major emitters to kickstart stalled talks on a new framework to tackle global warming, and give the Chinese negotiating team a strong bottom line going into the key negotiations in Copenhagen this December."


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    "A senior Chinese official has already promised an "important" speech laying out "the next policies, measures and actions that China is going to take", and in private bureaucrats say the speech will contain at least one numerical target…[A]nalysts, academics and campaigners say a carbon intensity goal would be in line both with domestic policies, and with a government commitment to keep economic development as its top priority even while it tackles major issues like climate change…

    "A carbon target is earmarked for inclusion in China's still unpublished blueprint for development between 2011 and 2015…Beijing's worries about energy security and massive pollution had already prompted the introduction of an energy intensity target from 2006, but a carbon target will also speed up a planned boost in renewables like wind and hydropower…"


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    "…[D]espite its roots in a domestic political agenda, if Hu unveils a carbon intensity target at the United Nations, his choice of timing and location has a resounding political message…A carbon target would be hard for China's critics in the United States to dismiss out of hand, because former President George W. Bush set a carbon intensity goal for his country after rejecting the Kyoto Protocol.

    "It would appeal to those in the financial industry who hope to see China set up a carbon trading scheme, as the goal would boost Beijing's ability to measure output of the gasses…The target could also dovetail with plans touted by some players in the European Union to establish "sectoral carbon crediting", to extend the carbon market after 2012…[C]ompanies in sectors like steel and power that beat a certain emission or energy intensity benchmark would qualify for carbon offset credits which would be tradable in Europe's emissions trading scheme…[This] gives developing countries an financially viable way to contain emissions growth, although if economies expand too fast even massive improvements in efficiency might not be enough to contain dangerous emissions…"