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

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Pay a visit to the HARRY BOYKOFF page at Basketball Reference, sponsored by NewEnergyNews and Oil In Their Blood.

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  • Tuesday, October 27, 2009

    BIGGEST U.S. SOLAR SHOW KICKS OFF

    Solar Power International 2009, Largest Ever U.S. Solar Energy Event, Begins in Anaheim, Calif.; Keynotes Include U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Ed Begley Jr.;
    Organizers Expect Record Attendance of 20,000+ People from 90 Countries...

    October 27, 2009 (SEIA ansd SEPA)

    "Solar Power International 2009, the largest business-to-business solar energy conference and expo in North America, begins today at the Anaheim Convention Center and continues for three days October 27 – 29. Presented by the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), Solar Power International is the premier gateway to the U.S. solar market and a closely watched indicator of the industry’s growth. Besides expecting record attendance, the show more than doubled in size with 925 companies represented…Last year’s event had 425 exhibitors.

    "Key themes at this year’s event include the potential of the U.S. as the biggest solar energy market in the world, the impact of solar jobs on the domestic economy, the central role of policy and participation of utilities in the solar industry’s expansion, falling costs for solar equipment, and innovative new technologies and business models driving market adoption of solar in the U.S. market. The conference encompasses all solar technologies including solar photovoltaics (PV), solar thermal (also called solar water heating), space heating and cooling, and utility-scale concentrating solar power, and concentrating PV plants."


    click to enlarge

    "The highly anticipated keynote speakers – U.S. Labor Secretary Solis, New Mexico Governor Richardson, Robert Kennedy Jr., and Ed Begley Jr. – will provide a broad perspective on transforming the U.S. energy landscape to a new clean energy economy, and on leveraging clean, renewable solar power to address the stark environmental concerns facing our planet. The General Sessions also include two CEO Panels at which captains of the utility and solar industries discuss critical and timely aspects of the solar marketplace…"

    click to enlarge

    "Solar Power International features more than 200 expert speakers in 65 break-out sessions, covering the latest developments in solar markets, policy, technology, finance and implementation. For those looking to build a career in the solar industry, the conference offers training workshops at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels…

    "Although the focus of Solar Power International is business-to-business interaction, the conference once again presents the ever-popular “Public Night,” when show organizers open the expo floor and present free workshops to the public on Wednesday evening, Oct. 28, 5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Solar Power International’s Public Night has become a tradition and will be a major draw for members of the public eager to learn about the latest solar technology for their homes and businesses."

    Sunday, October 25, 2009

    GEOTHERMAL DRILLS AHEAD

    2 new geothermal projects planned near Fallon
    October 25, 2009 (AP via San Jose Mercury News)

    "The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has announced plans to conduct an environmental review of proposals to build at least two new geothermal plants in [Northern California]…

    "BLM officials… intend to prepare a formal environmental impact statement for the two Salt Wells Energy projects proposed by NV Energy, Oromat Technologies and the Vulcan Power Co…The separate projects could eventually result in construction of seven 30- to 60-megawatt geothermal power plants."


    There's geothermal energy is them thar hills...(click to enlarge)

    "Mark Sullivan of NV Energy said the plants would serve two needs: reliability and interconnection to existing plants…Scott Kessler of Oromat Technologies said the project will cost between $80 million to $100 million. He said the nearest neighbor to the 32-foot high facility would be 1,000 feet away…"

    Notice a trend? (click to enlarge)

    "Under questioning from Commissioner Norm Frey, Kessler said about five people live within a half mile of the plant located 10 to 15 miles southeast of Fallon…[T]he noise from the geothermal plants are no louder than [a] normal speaking voice, and the only sound individuals may hear is a low humming sound.

    "Ken Bonin of Vulcan Power said the environmental review is scheduled for the beginning of 2010. The final impact statement is scheduled to be released in December of 2010 with a record of decision coming in February 2011."

    DEAL – DAKOTA WIND TO SOUTHEAST

    TVA to buy 450 megawatts from Dakota wind turbines
    Duncan Mansfield, October 23, 2009 (AP)

    "The Tennessee Valley Authority, looking outside the region to boost its renewable energy portfolio… will buy 450 megawatts of wind power capacity from the Great Plains.

    "The nation's largest public utility has signed 20-year power purchase agreements with… CVP Renewable Energy Co. [for 200 megawatts from 87 wind turbines at its planned Ashley project in North Dakota] and…Invenergy Wind LLC [for 250 megawatts from 167 turbines at its proposed Hurricane Lake project in South Dakota]…The added wind power should reach TVA's seven-state system in 2012…It will be enough to supply 140,000 homes…"


    The Midwest has enough wind to power the country but... (click to enlarge)

    "TVA's call in December to buy up to 2,000 megawatts in renewable energy attracted more than 60 proposals…[T]hree more wind contracts could be announced by year's end…[The purchase price was said to be competitive with electricity market prices]…"

    ...Every region of the country has New energy resources. Or it can build new transmission to bring New Energy in. (click to enlarge)

    "TVA was the first utility to develop a commercial wind farm in the Southeast when it erected three turbines on the reclaimed strip mine on Buffalo Mountain in 2000. But it has been slow to add capacity…[Its] total renewable capacity now is about 50 megawatts — mostly from the wind farm…demonstration-scale solar collectors…landfill gas recycling…[and] some 4,300 megawatts from its clean hydroelectric generation — out of a total TVA capacity of more than 32,000 megawatts. TVA gets most of its power from coal-fired and nuclear plants.

    "…[T]he new renewable purchases should make TVA's [New Energy] portfolio one of the largest in the region…TVA officials say biomass and solar energy have the greatest potential in the utility's territory, which includes most of Tennessee and parts of Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia…[T]he valley also has more wind power available…"

    BIGGEST U.S. PV SUN COMES ON

    Largest solar panel plant in US rises in Fla.
    Christine Armario, October 23, 2009 (AP)

    "…For nearly a year, construction workers and engineers…have been building the nation's largest solar panel energy plant. Testing will soon be complete, and the facility will begin directly converting sunlight into energy…The Desoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center will power a small fraction of Florida Power & Light's 4-million plus customer base; nevertheless, at 25 megawatts, it will generate nearly twice as much energy as the second-largest photovoltaic facility in the U.S.…President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit the facility…when it officially goes online and begins producing power for the electric grid.

    "As demand grows and more states create mandates requiring a certain percentage of their energy come from renewable sources, the size of the plants is increasing. The southwest Florida facility will soon be eclipsed by larger projects announced in Nevada and California…"


    Soon to be the biggest PV solar plant in the U.S. (click to enlarge)

    "Despite its nickname, the Sunshine State hasn't been at the forefront of solar power. Less than 4 percent of Florida's energy has come from renewable sources in recent years. And unlike California and many other states, Florida lawmakers haven't agreed to setting clean energy quotas for electric companies to reach in the years ahead…California, New Jersey and Colorado have led the country in installing photovoltaic systems; now Florida is set to jump closer to the top with the nation's largest plant yet.

    "The Desoto facility and two other solar projects Florida Power & Light is spearheading will generate 110 megawatts of power, cutting greenhouse gas emissions by more than 3.5 million tons. Combined, that's the equivalent of taking 25,000 cars off the road…The investment isn't cheap: The Desoto project cost $150 million to build…But there are some economic benefits: It created 400 jobs for draftsmen, carpenters and others whose work dried up as…the recession set in…"


    First Solar will expand the El Dorado installation to 48 megawatts of PV power next year. Will Florida respond to the challenge? (click to enlarge)

    "There are two means of producing electricity from the sun: photovoltaic cells that directly convert sunlight; and thermal power, which uses mirrors to heat fluid and produce steam to run a turbine power generator…[A] one- or two-megawatt project was considered large not long ago. The size has slowly increased each year…

    "Spain and Germany have made larger per capita commitments to solar power because of aggressive government policies…And China has announced plans to pay up to 50 percent of the price of solar power systems of more than 500 megawatts…In April, Arizona-based manufacturer First Solar Inc. announced plans to build a 48-megawatt plant in Nevada, producing power for about 30,000 homes. Even that pales compared to recently announced plans for a 2 gigawatt facility in China. First Solar has initial approval to build it."

    PRES SEZ NEW ENERGY WILL GET IT DONE

    Obama hails state of innovation; President praises Mass., MIT during green energy speech
    Erin Allworth, October 24, 2009 (Boston Globe)

    "President Obama blasted critics of his administration’s environmental policies and praised Massachusetts officials for advancing technologies that will yield big benefits for the environment…"

    From unenergy via YouTube

    "According to the White House, Obama’s speech was designed to be a challenge to Americans to lead the global economy in green energy…A number of clean energy advocates say the United States lacks a national policy to guarantee long-term financial incentives for companies to build renewable power. The Senate is attempting to pass such legislation before a December meeting of 190 countries in Copenhagen to hash out a treaty to lower emissions from power plants, vehicles, and factories.

    "Obama’s speech was received with enthusiasm by the crowd… The president also was in town to campaign for Governor Deval Patrick…Citing the forthcoming groundbreaking for the new Wind Technology Testing Center in Boston, which received $25 million in federal stimulus money, Obama said…the benefits of the project would extend beyond the jobs created here, [lead to more efficient and effective turbines and help build an estimated $2+ trillion market through 2030]…"


    From unenergy via YouTube

    "Clean energy has been a longstanding priority for Patrick, and many Massachusetts academic institutions and businesses are pursuing clean energy technologies, including MIT…[After] Patrick signed on to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative…[he] signed five pieces of environmental legislation…[and now] the state is on track to have roughly 30 megawatts of wind generating capacity, or enough to power nearly 7,900 homes, and 40 megawatts of solar generating capacity, enough to power from 6,000 to 8,000 homes…"

    Saturday, October 24, 2009

    SUN BEAMED DOWN BY SATELLITE

    Space-based solar power can help on energy needs
    Nick Lampson, October 22, 2009 (Houston Chronicle)

    "The United States is on a serious quest to free itself from a costly and worrisome dependence on foreign oil, and depleting supplies of domestic petroleum, coal and natural gas.

    "The country is pushing forward, thanks to some timely incentives from the federal government and state agencies, and we're turning to renewable sources of energy — which will also help protect our environment…[I]nnovative approaches under way at NASA…can help shape America's energy future, improve air quality and offset greenhouse gas emissions."


    Space based receiver-sender solar satellite. (click to enlarge)

    "October is Energy Awareness Month, and this year's theme — A Sustainable Energy Future: Putting All the Pieces Together — is especially timely…One of our greatest resources is all around us — sunlight. Each hour, the Earth receives more energy from the sun than the world's population consumes in one year. And our star promises to shine brightly for billions of years to come.

    "…NASA's wellspring of talent could help foster the creation of solar power satellites — spacecraft that circle the Earth and beam the energy they generate down to the ground for distribution as electricity…The [solar panels of the] International Space Station…generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 55 homes…While it doesn't take a rocket scientist to appreciate solar power as an environmentally friendly source of energy, it will take that level of expertise to develop a practical, economic concept to collect the sun's radiance and relay this resource to Earth."


    Earth based receiving-transmitting station. (click to enlarge)

    "Two years ago this month, [Space-Based Solar Power as an Opportunity for Strategic Security from] the National Security Space Office…characterized the prospect of a network of solar-power satellites as a grand opportunity to address the nation's environmental and economic concerns as well as energy security...Even though solar power has a long way to go...it is making impressive strides. With a network of solar-power satellites, we could expect accelerated growth in the nation's solar-power industry to help invigorate our economy by creating high-paying jobs.

    "Since its birth in 1958, NASA has teamed with industry, academia and other federal agencies to offer the benefits from their cutting-edge research…Environmentally friendly fuel cells have powered NASA's human spacecraft since the 1960s. Now, the world's automakers are turning to fuel cells as an alternative to fossil fuels. NASA's legacy also includes work with wind turbines and biofuels…Space-based solar power, initially proposed in the late 1960s, is a concept whose time has finally come..."

    SENATE CLIMATE BILL ANALYZED

    Senate Global Warming Bill Is Seeking to Cushion the Impact on Industry
    John M. Broder, October 24, 2009 (NY Times)

    "The Senate bill aimed at reducing global warming pollution will initially grant billions of dollars of free emissions permits to utilities and industry but will require the bulk of the money be returned to consumers and taxpayers, according to newly released details.

    "The bill will also provide a cushion to energy-intensive manufacturing companies to ease the transition to a lower-carbon economy and to help them compete internationally, although the subsidies will disappear over time. The measure also sets a floor and ceiling on the price of permits to emit carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases."


    Excellent summary analysis (click to enlarge)

    "…[T]he Environmental Protection Agency estimates that overall cost of the [Senate bill] at roughly $100 a year per household, similar to that of a House climate change and energy bill passed in June…The Senate measure, sponsored by Senators John Kerry of Massachusetts and Barbara Boxer of California, both Democrats, aims to [cut greenhouse gas emissions 20% below 2005 levels by 2020, 42% by 2030 and 83% by 2050] under a cap-and-trade system that sets a nationwide limit on emissions but allows polluters to buy and sell permits to meet it…

    "Senators Kerry and Boxer introduced their bill in late September with a number of missing provisions…[A] more detailed 923-page draft [of
    S. 1733]…spells out the formula for distributing pollution allowances and other provisions…[and] includes new financing for research on capturing and storing carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, more money for low-carbon transportation projects, additional assistance for rural communities and more favorable treatment for agriculture and forestry…The bill is before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which Mrs. Boxer leads. The panel has scheduled three days of hearings [and then will begin markup]…"

    click to enlarge

    "The E.P.A. analysis of the Kerry-Boxer bill found that its costs and impact were roughly equivalent to those of the House bill…[Both] would reduce overall American emissions by nearly the same amount over the next 40 years. The costs to consumers are also similar, the agency found…Neither bill would add to the federal deficit and both measures could actually produce some revenue from the sale of emissions permits, the agency found…

    "...The E.P.A. did not try to quantify the benefits to individuals or society of reducing greenhouse gas pollution…Other studies have found higher costs, although all such estimates are based on assumptions about how businesses and consumers would behave as energy costs rise and how quickly new technology would appear to replace increasingly costly fossil fuels…Senate Republicans dismissed the E.P.A. analysis as incomplete and have threatened to boycott committee action until a more thorough analysis is done…"


    Bonus extended summary analysis worth clicking to enlarge

    U.S. DOESN’T KNOW CAP&TRADE

    … Modest Support for "Cap and Trade" Policy
    October 22, 2009 (Pew Research Center for the People and the Press)

    "…Despite the growing public skepticism about global warming, the [latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Sept. 30-Oct. 4 among 1,500 adults reached on cell phones and landlines] finds more support than opposition for a policy to set limits on carbon emissions. Half of Americans favor setting limits on carbon emissions and making companies pay for their emissions, even if this may lead to higher energy prices; 39% oppose imposing limits on carbon emissions under these circumstances.

    "This issue has not registered widely with the public. Just 14% say they have heard a lot about the so-called “cap and trade” policy that would set carbon dioxide emissions limits; another 30% say they have heard a little about the policy, while a majority (55%) has heard nothing at all…The small minority that has heard a lot about the issue opposes carbon emissions limits by two-to-one (64% to 32%)…Among the much larger group that has heard little or nothing about the issue, most support it …With less than two months before the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, a majority (56%) of Americans think the United States should join other countries in setting standards to address global climate change while 32% say that the United States should set its own standards…"


    click to enlarge

    "As the health care debate has dominated the public’s attention, awareness about cap and trade legislation is quite low…More people who say there is no solid evidence of global warming have heard a lot about cap and trade than those who think temperatures are rising (24% vs. 10%). But more of those who say that warming is caused mostly by human activity have heard a little about the proposed policy than those who say there is no evidence of warming (36% vs. 27%).

    "…[J]ust 23% of the public could correctly identify that the cap and trade legislation being discussed in Congress deals with energy and the environment; 48% were unsure and 29% said incorrectly that it deals with health care, banking reform or unemployment…Half of the public favors setting limits on carbon dioxide emissions and making companies pay for their emissions, even if it may mean higher energy prices. About four-in-ten (39%) oppose this and 11% are unsure or do not offer an opinion…"


    click to enlarge

    "Opinion about cap and trade is related to views about global warming. About three-fourths (74%) of those who think the earth is warming and it is mostly caused by human activity favor cap and trade legislation. By comparison, 41% of those who say warming is due to natural patterns in the earth’s environment favor limiting carbon emissions. But even 31% of those who say there is no solid evidence of rising temperatures favor cap and trade…

    "A majority (56%) of Americans thinks the United States should join other countries in setting standards to address global climate change while 32% say the U.S. should set its own standards; 5% say neither and 6% are unsure. These numbers are similar to those in 2001 and 1997…Three-quarters of those who say the earth is warming mostly because of human activity think the U.S. should join with other countries in setting standards to address global climate change. By comparison, 51% of those who say warming is due to natural patterns in the earth’s environment and 42% who say the earth is not warming think the U.S. should join other countries in setting standards to address climate change."

    WIND AND SOLAR TOGETHER

    UniSource Signs On for Power from Arizona Wind-Solar Plant
    Carl Levesque, October 23, 2009 (Wind Energy Weekly)

    "Western Wind Energy Corp. announced October 20 that it has entered into an 11-MW power purchase agreement (PPA) to provide Arizona investor-owned utility UniSource Energy Services with electricity to be generated at what the developer believes will be the first power contract connected with a fully integrated combined wind and solar facility in North America.

    "The project, which is in the late stages of development, is located just outside Kingman, Ariz., in Mohave County. One relatively unique aspect of the project is that it is on fully zoned land owned by Western Wind, an early adopter of the land-ownership strategy…"


    click to enlarge

    "The PPA includes at least 300 kW of photovoltaic solar with the rest coming from wind. The project is expected to be complete by June 2011, although it could be finished sooner…

    "…[The future of New Energy, project builders believe, is in] transmission systems that carry multiple forms of renewable energy that complement one another, creating efficiencies and playing to each renewable source’s strength (e.g., in some places, the wind resource is best at night, when the solar resource is dormant)."

    BIG WIND TESTING ON

    DOE, Siemens Begin Tests on Massive Wind Turbine
    Katie Howell, October 22, 2009 (NY Times)

    "The Energy Department and Siemens Energy Inc…launched a new multiyear wind energy test to study the performance and aerodynamics of large land-based turbines.

    "The three-year test, which will be conducted at DOE's National Wind Technology Center near Boulder, Colo., [by DOE National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) researchers] will employ a 2.3-megawatt Siemens turbine and will verify basic turbine characteristics and new performance-enhancing features of the turbine, which has a 331-foot-diameter rotor…"


    High level research. (click to enlarge)

    "The planned tests will gauge structural and performance tests; modal, acoustics and power quality; aerodynamics; and turbine performance enhancements. The tests will include a range of real-world operating regimens and severe weather conditions…

    "NREL researchers are also interested in studying the ground-support requirements for larger wind turbines, which can weigh 400 to 800 tons."


    2.3 megawatts is just the beginning. The industry has its designs on 8 and 10 megawatt machines that could power a whole suburb by themselves. (click to enlarge)

    "The Siemens turbine to be used in the tests is among the largest land-based turbines deployed in the United States…[T]he collaboration is the biggest government-industry research partnership for wind power generation ever undertaken in the United States.

    "Siemens will contribute $9 million and NREL $5 million to the initial phase of the project…"

    DUKE & CHINA ENN PARTNER ON SUN

    Duke Energy and China-Based ENN Group to Build Solar Power Projects in U.S.
    October 23, 2009 (PRNewswire via Reuters)

    "… ENN and Duke Energy will concentrate on two types of solar photovoltaic designs: large "utility-scale" solar farms and commercial distributed generation solar projects. Distributed generation systems produce electricity close to where the energy is used, rather than at large, central power plants.

    "This joint development agreement builds upon a memorandum of understanding
    announced Sept. 23 at the Clinton Global Initiative's annual meeting at which time the companies pledged to work together to accelerate the development of low-carbon and clean energy technologies."


    From ENN (click to enlarge)

    [Jim Rogers, CEO, Duke Energy:] "China is investing heavily in clean energy and we can make greater progress in the U.S. by joining forces and working together…Duke Energy and ENN seek to not only accelerate the development of solar power in the U.S., but help achieve economies of scale and drive down the cost of renewable energy."

    {Wang Yusuo, Chair, ENN:] "ENN and Duke Energy have very complementary strengths…We are both dedicated to the development and use of low-carbon, clean energy sources to combat the climate change crisis facing all humanity."

    They have a lot of sun to work with. (click to enlarge)

    "Duke Energy Generation Services (DEGS)…will team with ENN to develop, own and operate the solar projects…[This] will expand DEGS' existing investments in renewable energy - including wind and biopower - and commercial transmission. DEGS owns and operates more than 630 megawatts (MW) of wind power projects in the U.S. and plans to add another 350 MW by the end of 2010. In the biopower market, DEGS is developing wood-waste-to-electricity power plants in the U.S. through ADAGE, the company it formed in 2008 with French-based AREVA…

    "ENN is committed to clean energy for China and the world…[Founded] 20 years ago, ENN… has more than 100 subsidiaries in over 80 cities across China and around the world, and employs more than 24,000 people…ENN Solar Energy is an international company that produces world-leading silicon thin film solar modules. It has also created an innovative system of integrated solar power stations…"

    CLIMATE FIGHT SLIPPING FROM U.S. FOCUS

    Fewer Americans See Solid Evidence of Global Warming
    October 22, 2009 (Pew Research Center for the People and the Press)

    "There has been a sharp decline over the past year in the percentage of Americans who say there is solid evidence that global temperatures are rising. And fewer also see global warming as a very serious problem – 35% say that today, down from 44% in April 2008.

    "The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Sept. 30-Oct. 4 among 1,500 adults reached on cell phones and landlines, finds that 57% think there is solid evidence that the average temperature on earth has been getting warmer over the past few decades. In April 2008, 71% said there was solid evidence of rising global temperatures."


    click to enlarge

    "Over the same period, there has been a comparable decline in the proportion of Americans who say global temperatures are rising as a result of human activity, such as burning fossil fuels. Just 36% say that currently, down from 47% last year.

    "The decline in the belief in solid evidence of global warming has come across the political spectrum, but has been particularly pronounced among independents. Just 53% of independents now see solid evidence of global warming, compared with 75% who did so in April 2008. Republicans, who already were highly skeptical of the evidence of global warming, have become even more so: just 35% of Republicans now see solid evidence of rising global temperatures, down from 49% in 2008 and 62% in 2007. Fewer Democrats also express this view – 75% today compared with 83% last year…"


    click to enlarge

    "Opinions about global warming changed little between 2006 and 2008. In August 2006 and January 2007, 77% said there was solid evidence that the earth’s temperatures were increasing; that figure fell modestly to 71% in April of last year…[M]ost said it was largely caused by human activity, such as burning fossil fuels…Far smaller percentages – including just 18% in 2008 – said it was mostly caused because of natural environmental patterns…Currently, 57% say there is solid evidence of rising global temperatures…Fewer than four-in-ten (36%) now say global warming is mostly caused by human activity…[and] 16% say it is occurring mostly because of natural environmental patterns…

    "A majority (65%) of the public continues to view global warming as a very (35%) or somewhat (30%) serious problem…Young people are now far more likely than older Americans to view global warming as a very serious problem…As expected, views about the seriousness of global warming are also related to whether people think there is solid evidence the earth is warming and whether it is human caused…In January 2009, global warming ranked at the bottom of the public’s list of policy priorities for the president and Congress this year. Only 30% of the public said it should be a top priority, down from 35% a year ago…Global warming is the lowest-rated priority for both independents and Republicans and ranks sixteenth for Democrats among 20 issues…"

    Friday, October 23, 2009

    CLIMATE FIGHT MAKES JOBS - SUN GROUP

    ASES/MISI analysis shows that renewable energy and energy efficiency can reduce U.S. carbon emissions 60-80%, generate millions of jobs and are revenue neutral or better
    October 21, 2009 (American Solar Energy Society)

    "A new report suggests that tackling climate change will be a major net job creator for the U.S. economy. According to the report, aggressive deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency can net up to 4.5 million new U.S. jobs by 2030 and provide the greenhouse gas emission reductions necessary to tackle climate change.

    "...
    [Estimating the Impacts of Tackling Climate Change] was released…by the nonprofit American Solar Energy Society (ASES)…and Management Information Services, Inc… According to the analysis, renewable energy and energy efficiency deployment costs would be revenue neutral (or better), as costs to implement the technologies are offset by savings from lower energy bills, making total net costs near zero…"

    click to enlarge

    [Findings:]"…Aggressive deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency can net 4.5 million new jobs [dispersed throughout the U.S. in virtually all industries and occupations] by 2030…Hot jobs spurred by this new economic growth span a diverse range of [blue collar and white collar] skills and experience…Renewable energy and energy efficient technologies could displace approximately 1.2 billion tons of carbon emissions annually by 2030 [and thereby prevent the worst impacts of climate change]..."

    [Findings:]"…Approximately 57% of carbon emissions reductions would be from energy efficiency and 43% would be from renewable energy…Energy efficiency measures can allow U.S. carbon emissions to remain about level through 2030, while renewable technologies can provide large reductions…[C]onstruction, farming, professional services, public sector, retail, truck transportation, fabricated metals and electrical equipment [industries show the biggest job gains]…"

    click to enlarge

    [Findings:]"…The construction industry directly benefits from almost all the growing renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors…Farming directly benefits from biomass and biofuel technology growth…Many of these jobs can not be easily outsourced…The greatest numbers of renewable energy jobs are generated by solar photovoltaics, biofuels, biomass, and concentrating solar power sectors…"

    "…[P]olicy can play a significant role in both generating jobs and mitigating carbon emissions….[through] improving energy efficiency in buildings, transportation, and industry, and [driving growth in] six renewable energy technologies: concentrating solar power, photovoltaics, wind power, biomass, biofuels, and geothermal power…[Though] advancing new energy technologies can both create new jobs and displace jobs from less efficient industries….in total, more than 4.5 million more jobs can be created by tackling climate change than would be lost."

    BATS SAFE WITH WIND – EXPERT

    Witness: WVa wind farm no threat to endangered bat
    October 23, 2009 (AP)

    "An environmental consultant hired by developers of a proposed West Virginia wind farm told a federal judge he believes the project won't harm the endangered Indiana bat."

    Recent infrared night studies have identified the habits that attract bats to wind turbines and pointed to operational fixes. (click to enlarge)

    "Consultant Russ Romme performed risk assessments for the proposed windfarm. He testified…in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, Md., in a bench trial in which opponents are seeking to force developers to obtain permits under the federal Endangered Species Act.

    "Romme testified that his firm's netting surveys [found] the bat and acoustic surveys the plaintiffs say show evidence of [bat endangermnent] aren't reliable."
    [See WIND SOLVES ITS BAT PROBLEM]

    There are harms to bats but they can be minimized and wind is working to do so. There are harms from doing anything to generate massive amounts of energy but doing nothing is not an option. (click to enlarge)

    "…Animal Welfare Institute and…Mountain Communities for Responsible Energy filed suit against… Beech Ridge Energy and Invenergy Wind over the proposed Greenbrier County, W.Va., wind farm."

    LET ME COUNT THE SPEW

    Calculating Emissions Is Problematic
    Sindya N. Bhanoo, October 22, 2009 (NY Times)

    "An accounting problem in the way some greenhouse gas emissions are calculated could critically hobble efforts to reduce them in coming years as nations move to combat global warming, scientists warn in a new report.

    "The accounting irregularity even gives the impression that clearing the world’s forests, which absorb and thereby diminish heat-trapping carbon dioxide, is good for the climate…The problem boils down to this: In emission calculations, all fuel derived from plants and other organic sources — including ethanol — is generally treated as if it has no effect on carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, even though though biofuels do emit carbon dioxide when burned."


    click to enlarge

    "This might make sense if the source of the fuel were, say, a crop of corn grown on barren land specifically for use as fuel, because the crop would have absorbed carbon dioxide as it grew, offsetting what it emits when ultimately burned…But if an existing stand of forest land is cleared for fuel, its ability to absorb carbon dioxide is lost, and the net balance of the gas in the atmosphere goes up.

    "An energy and climate bill passed in June by the House of Representatives,
    the Kyoto Protocol, drafted in 1997, and the European Union’s cap-and-trade law, in which companies trade emissions allowances, all exempt emissions from biofuels, without taking the source of the fuel into account [and encouraging the destruction of forests for biomass], said Timothy D. Searchinger, the study’s lead author and a research fellow at Princeton University…In the mid-1990s the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recognized that when forests were cleared or when plants were harvested for bioenergy, the resulting release of carbon dioxide should be counted either as land-use emissions or energy emissions, but not both."

    click to enlarge

    "To create an international standard [for use in the Kyoto agreement eventually ratified by 184 countries but not the U.S.] and avoid double-counting, the I.P.C.C. chose to classify these emissions in the land-use category…The protocol imposes no limits on land-use emissions in developing countries. So if a forest is cleared in Indonesia and ends up as biofuel in Europe, Asia does not count the land-use emissions and Europe does not report the tailpipe emissions.

    "The end result is that the carbon release from bioenergy use is not counted at all…[S]everal recently published articles [call] attention to the error…[U]nder current accounting methods, a commonly cited global target of limiting carbon dioxide to 450 parts per million in the atmosphere could result in a vast expansion of bioenergy crops, displacing nearly all of the world’s natural forests by 2065…"

    FRISCO’S WAVE ENERGY

    BioPower Systems Collaborates With City of San Francisco on Wave Energy Project
    October 22, 2009 (PRNewswire via Reuters)

    "Australia's ocean energy company, BioPower Systems…entered into a collaborative agreement with the City of San Francisco to investigate the generation of wave energy from the Pacific Ocean.

    "…BioPower will work with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) to assess the feasibility of a project located eight kilometres (five miles) off San Francisco's western beaches with a generating capacity of between 10MW and 100MW. The proposed Oceanside Wave Energy Project would consider installation of a wave farm using BioPower's modular wave energy system, bioWAVET."


    BioPower's unique wave energy device. (click to enlarge)

    "…Pending the results of a feasibility study, BioPower and the City of San Francisco will work together to develop the project aimed at supplying clean renewable electricity into the City's power grid by 2012."

    Biopower has a similar tidal energy device. (click to enlarge)

    "The bioWAVET system is designed to supply utility-scale grid-connected renewable energy while being out of view, and without affecting marine life. The unique system sways in tune with the forces of the ocean, and naturally streamlines when extreme conditions prevail, leading to cost-competitive lightweight designs. Multiple bioWAVET devices, each with a capacity of 1MW, would be installed as an undersea wave energy farm, with the combined power output supplied to the on-land grid via subsea cable…

    "BioPower's CEO, Dr Tim Finnigan, said the collaboration was further endorsement of the clear potential of the company's proprietary…bioWAVETM and bioSTREAMTM technologies…"

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009

    WIND WEATHERS ECONOMIC STORM

    U.S. Wind Energy Industry Installs Over 1,600 MW In Third Quarter; Manufacturing Still Lags
    October 20, 2009 (American Wind Energy Association)

    "The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) reported today in its third quarter (Q3) market report that the U.S. wind energy industry installed 1,649 megawatts (MW) of new power generating capacity in the third quarter—an amount higher than either the 2nd quarter of 2009 or the 3rd quarter of 2008—bringing the total capacity added this year to date to over 5,800 MW. AWEA also reported that wind turbine manufacturing still lags below 2008 levels, in both production and new announcements."

    [Denise Bode, CEO, AWEA:] "Wind power installations are up, and that is good news for America's economy, environment, and energy security…But manufacturing, which has the potential to employ many more Americans in good, clean energy jobs, remains uncertain. A firm, long-term national commitment to renewable energy is still needed for the U.S. to become a wind turbine manufacturing powerhouse and create hundreds of thousands of jobs."

    click to enlarge

    "Since the early July announcement of rules to implement the stimulus bill, the wind industry has seen over 1,600 MW (enough to serve the equivalent of 480,000 average households) of completed projects, and over 1,700 MW of construction starts. These projects equate to about $6.5 billion in new investment. AWEA does not expect the fourth quarter of 2009 to be as strong as the fourth quarter of 2008 since the 5,000 MW now under construction is nearly 38% lower than the over 8,000 MW under construction at this time last year.

    "The total wind power capacity now operating in the U.S. is over 31,000 MW, generating enough electricity to power the equivalent of nearly 9 million homes, avoiding the emissions of 57 million tons of carbon annually and reducing expected carbon emissions from the electricity sector by 2.5%."


    click to enlarge

    "The state posting the fastest growth rate in the third quarter was Arizona, which installed its first utility-scale project. Pennsylvania ranked 2nd in growth with 29%, followed by Illinois with 22%, Wyoming with 21%, and New Mexico with 20%…

    "The top five states in additions for new capacity added in the third quarter are: [1] Texas - 436 MW…[2] Oregon - 251 MW…[3] Illinois - 201 MW…[4] Colorado - 174 MW…[5] Wyoming - 170 MW…The top five states in total operating wind capacity are: [1] Texas - 8,797 MW…[2] Iowa - 3,053 MW…[3] California - 2,787 MW…[4] Minnesota - 1,805 MW…[5] Oregon - 1,659 MW…"

    NEVER A BETTER TIME TO BUY SUN

    Cost of solar panels drops – but tax breaks dip too
    Tiffany Hsu, October 20, 2009 (LA Times)

    "The average cost of solar photovoltaic power systems in the U.S. plunged more than 30% from 1998 to 2008, with a 4% drop between 2007 and 2008, according to [Tracking the Sun II] from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

    "…[A] simultaneous drop in total after-tax incentives for photovoltaics from 2007 to 2008 resulted in a slight rise in net installed cost..[so that]…net costs for residential solar systems were up 1% in 2008 compared with the previous year, averaging $5.40 per watt. Costs for commercial photovoltaics averaged $4.20 per watt, a 5% increase from 2007."


    click to enlarge

    "After-tax incentives for residential systems were at a historic low of $2.90 per watt in 2008, while incentives for commercial photovoltaics were at $4 per watt, down slightly from the 2006 peak.

    "But excluding the incentives, installation costs dropped recently after a multi-year plateau due to the solar industry’s expanded manufacturing capacity and the pressures of the financial crisis…"


    click to enlarge

    "The Berkeley Lab study considered 52,000 photovoltaic systems in 16 states. The average cost of installation dropped from $10.80 per watt in 1998 to $7.50 per watt in 2008, or a reduction of 3.6% per year…Small residential solar systems completed in 2008, producing less than 2 kilowatts, cost an average of $9.20 per watt, while large commercial photovoltaics producing between 500 to 700 kilowatts averaged $6.50 per watt.

    "The cost of going solar varies widely across states. For systems producing less than 10 kilowatts that were completed in 2008, costs range from a low of $7.30 per watt in Arizona, to a high of $9.90 per watt in Pennsylvania and Ohio. California’s average is $8.20 per watt…[T]he report suggests that costs could be driven even lower through large-scale implementation."

    AMERICAN BATHS AND SHOWERS

    Solar Panels Plus Launches US-Made Evacuated Tube Collector For Efficient, Reliable Solar Water Heating In All Climates; New SPP-30a First Ever Evacuated Tube Collector Manufactured in the United States, Provides Compliance with Buy American Act
    For October 26, 2009 (Solar Panels Plus)

    "Solar Panels Plus (SPP), designer and manufacturer of innovative solar water heaters, solar air conditioning/heating systems and photovoltaic solar panels, [is launching] the SPP-30a, the first USA-made evacuated tube (ET) collector for solar water heaters. The SPP-30a…[will enable] distributors, dealers and contractors to offer a high-quality ET solution that complies with the “Buy American Act” section of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA)."

    click to enlarge

    "In addition to being the top-rated ET collector, the SPP-30a has many advantages over traditional flat plate collectors. Because the absorber is completely enclosed, evacuated tubes function in almost any environment, including cold or freezing climates. The SPP-30a is also a more powerful and efficient solar water heater, meaning it works well in environments where water temperatures up to or above 200F are needed or in cloudy climate conditions…Solar Panels Plus will…begin accepting orders on the SPP-30a in November 2009 for delivery in Q1 2010…"

    click to enlarge

    "Like it’s predecessor the SPP-30, the US-made SPP-30a will utilize a double-wall glass tube that works similarly to a Thermos bottle—where the inside can be very hot but the exterior of the container is cool to the touch—as a Thermos also uses an evacuated space between the inner and outer wall. The main difference in performance between evacuated tube and flat panel collectors is that by preventing heat from escaping back into the atmosphere as the absorber gets hot, the evacuated area of the ET collector forms a thermal barrier that allows sunlight to enter but blocks the escape of heat, which is therefore more concentrated and more efficiently harvested and used…"

    WILL IT STAY?

    DOE Partnership Completes Successful CO2 Injection Test in the Mount Simon Sandstone; Formation Proves to be Promising CO2 Storage Candidate in the Ohio Valley Region
    October 21, 2009 (U.S. Department of Energy)

    "Midwest Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (MRCSP), one of seven partnerships in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships program, has successfully injected 1,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the Mount Simon Sandstone, a deep saline formation that is widespread across much of the Midwest.

    "Preliminary results indicate that the formation has good CO2 storage potential and could possibly serve as a repository for CO2 emissions captured from stationary sources in the region. Carbon capture and storage is considered to be a key technological solution to reduce CO2 emissions and combat climate change."


    The precautions MRCSP has taken are admirable but real world volumes will change everything. (click to enlarge)

    "…The CO2 was injected into the lowest 100 feet of the Mount Simon Sandstone, which is present at the East Bend site at approximately 3,230 to 3,530 feet below ground. The formation has properties that are considered conducive to CO2 storage, such as the appropriate depth, thickness, porosity, and permeability; in addition the formation is overlain by layers of low-permeability rock that should keep the CO2 safely and permanently confined.

    "Before drilling the test well, the partnership conducted a seismic survey at the site and obtained permits for the injection test from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Kentucky Division of Oil and Gas. The research team then injected clean brine, as required in the permit issued by the EPA, to determine formation properties such as the maximum safe injection pressure. Following brine injection, a total of approximately 1,000 metric tons of CO2 were injected in two 500-metric-ton steps, concluding on September 25th. The injection rate, pressure, temperature, and quantity of CO2 in the formation were measured throughout the test to confirm that the injection proceeded as planned."


    If there is a tiny possibility of leakage, it becomes likely when huge volumes and permanent storage are involved. (click to enlarge)

    "Over the next two years, the MRSCP team will monitor groundwater at the site to ensure that it is unaffected by the CO2. Underground sources of drinking water are located within a few hundred feet of the surface in the region, far above the injection zone. The Eau Clair Shale provides approximately 450 feet of containment above the injection zone, thereby ensuring the safety of drinking water supplies…

    "The East Bend test follows in the footsteps of two other MRCSP injection tests that have taken place in other parts of the region: the Appalachian Basin Test at the R. E. Burger Power Plant in Shadyside, Ohio, and the Michigan Basin test near Gaylord, Mich., in which more than 60,000 metric tons of CO2 were safely injected into a deep saline formation called the Bass Islands Dolomite…"

    Tuesday, October 20, 2009

    FEDS FUND HOME RETROFITS

    Biden Says Energy-Saving Plan Would Help Homeowners
    Daniel Whitten and Roger Runningen, October 19, 2009 (Bloomberg News)

    "The Obama administration is backing a plan to let homeowners finance the cost of energy-efficiency improvements through their property tax assessments.

    "The proposal is one of several that would help cut U.S. energy consumption while creating jobs in industries that make and install energy-efficient products such as insulation, Vice President Joe Biden said…Retrofitting homes with insulation and weather-proofing doors can save [$300-to-$1,200 per year, providing rapid payback on the investment], Biden said…"


    click to enlarge

    "Biden said the proposal builds on provisions of the $787 billion stimulus package passed by Congress earlier. As part of the stimulus, the Energy Department was given $7.6 billion to dole out to states to weatherproof homes and other energy efficiency efforts…[T]he provision meets the [Obama administration’s] twin goals of boosting jobs in so-called green industries and helping the U.S. cut greenhouse-gas emissions.

    "Each year, Americans spend $1,500 to $3,000 to heat and air condition their homes, Biden said. Paying for improvements on property tax bills would let homeowners spread the cost of the investment over time…In addition, the new initiative, dubbed
    Recovery Through Retrofit, would provide wider access to reliable information about increasing the energy efficiency, set national standards for training of workers to perform such jobs and create a certification process identifying energy-efficient homes."

    click to enlarge

    "Retrofitting the nation’s 130 million homes for energy efficiency would cut greenhouse gas emissions by as much 20 percent, the equivalent of taking 30 million cars off the road, Biden said. Savings on energy bills would amount to $21 billion annually…

    "Republicans have criticized the stimulus legislation, saying it added to the deficit without doing enough to boost jobs…Republican Representative Doc Hastings, of Washington, said the administration was creating a relatively small number of jobs in energy efficiency, while effectively slashing jobs in traditional energy sectors like oil and gas production…The administration reported last week that federal contracts awarded so far have saved or created 30,383 jobs…[T]he stimulus has allowed school districts to avoid layoffs and restore budgets, resulting in about 250,000 education jobs."

    ATLANTIC CITY LIKES OFFSHORE WIND

    Fishermen's Energy Releases Public Opinion Study Results
    October 20, 2009 (PRNewswire via Reuters)

    "Fishermen's Energy is pleased to release the very positive results of…Hughes_Center_Stockton_College_Opinion_Poll_Power_Point_for_Fishermens_Energy.pdf
    "Survey of Residents & Visitors in Four Communities Along the Southern New Jersey Shore"
    …published by…The William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy, in accordance with methodology utilized by Zogby International.

    "Fishermen's Energy commissioned Zogby International and The William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy…to develop and administer a survey to discern the public's sentiments in reference to Fishermen's Energy's proposed wind farm project, which will be located three miles off shore from Atlantic City and develop a report of the survey."


    click to enlarge

    [Sharon Schulman, Special Assistant, William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy:] "Contrasted with a similar poll exactly three years earlier, we see that a huge amount of support has grown from both residents and visitors in support of wind mills three miles off Atlantic City's shore…The survey is quite explicit in pointing out that not only do residents and tourists not mind having wind turbines off the shore of Atlantic City, two-thirds of the respondents believe that it will have a positive effect on Atlantic City and the environment."

    [Daniel Cohen, President, Fishermen's Energy:] "Public opinion has significantly shifted from 2006 to 2009. The results of the survey are yet another signal that society is ready to and wants to invest in Renewable Energy."

    click to enlarge

    "Some highlights of the study include…[1] 90% of the respondents were aware that electricity could be produced by using offshore wind turbines…[2] Support for a wind turbine project 3 miles off the Atlantic City shore is strong among all subgroups and almost 30 percentage points higher than a similar question asked in 2006…

    "…[3] Most residents do not feel that this project would have a negative impact on Atlantic City and the local environment. In fact, 66% thought it would have a positive impact…[4] More than three-quarters of the visitors said it would have no effect on whether or not they would visit the Atlantic City area and another 19% said that they would be a little or a lot more likely to visit the area."

    EYES ON THE EV PRIZE

    Electric Cars: A Wide-Open Race; Warren Buffett has invested in China's BYD, but columnists Anil Gupta and Haiyan Wang caution against putting too much faith in its early-mover advantage
    Anil Gupta and Haiyan Wang, October 19, 2009 (BusinessWeek)

    "The electric car is likely to emerge as one of the most transformational products of the current era, as important, perhaps, as the personal computer and the Internet. Given the effect of the auto industry on the rest of the economy, mass commercialization of the electric car will fundamentally transform not just that industry but others such as petroleum, electricity generation and distribution, steel, nonferrous materials, and chemicals. By reducing the world's dependence on crude oil, the electric car will reshape the structure of global trade. Importantly too, because electric cars have zero emissions, they also could dramatically reset the debate on global warming.

    "…PCs, mobile telecommunications, and Internet services were invented and launched in the West…But this time, Asian companies are among the leaders in the electric-car race. The Chinese company BYD, for instance, is determined to roll out its all-electric E3 and E6 models this year and has announced plans to bring the E6 to the U.S. in 2010. Japan's Mitsubishi Motors has already launched its electric car, the i MiEV…[Nissan will bring out an EV] with Renault, the boldest promoter of electric cars. Tata Motors (TAMO) in India has announced that it will introduce its all-electric Indica Vista EV in Norway this year…"


    click thru for the latest on every car in the BEV field

    "In predicting the future of this emerging industry, it is critically important to guard against two fallacious assumptions. No. 1: Leadership in battery technology will be the primary determinant of who emerges as the leading electric-car maker of tomorrow. No. 2: Being the first company to launch an electric car will bestow a strategically important first-mover advantage on the pioneer…

    "Intel dominates the world of microprocessors, the brains of PCs. Yet Intel is not a player in the PC industry…Along with fellow chipmaker Texas Instruments (TXN), Intel was once an early entrant in a very different industry: electronic wrist watches…Intel and TI briefly attempted to be players in watches but realized rather quickly that, while semiconductors and wristwatches had now become related businesses, they are very different…"


    True, but necessarily the very first one. (click to enlarge)

    "Toyota has emerged as the undisputed leader in the global auto industry. People who have analyzed Toyota give many explanations as to why it has achieved this dominance…However, no serious observer has argued that either Toyota's dominance—or GM's weakening position—in the car business has much to do with those companies' global positions in engine technology…Simply put, a car is much more than just an engine or a stack of batteries. Winning or losing in the car business depends on many factors—performance, safety, reliability, comfort, styling, dealership network, service quality, and price, to name just a few…

    "Toyota was not the first company to introduce an automobile. IBM, Dell, and HP were not the first companies to launch a PC. Microsoft did not launch the first Internet browser…Google was not the first [search technology] company…Clearly, there are severe limits…of a first-mover advantage…Even the most optimistic projections indicate that electric cars may constitute just 20% of all auto sales by 2020. This will give almost every car company plenty of time…Equally important…there will be several large companies that specialize in the design and manufacture of batteries for cars. Thus, in-house leadership in battery technology will become increasingly unimportant for leadership in the car business. Just as a car is much more than an engine, it will remain much more than a stack of batteries. Thus, winning or losing the electric-car race will depend on many factors besides battery technology."

    GEOTHERMAL OIL PUMPS

    DOE buys geothermal plant in Wyoming
    October 19, 2009 (AP)

    "The U.S. Energy Department has bought a geothermal plant north of Casper [Wyoming] for an undisclosed amount.

    "Ormat Technologies…built the test plant at the Teapot Dome oil field to prove the technical feasibility of using hot water associated with oil production to generate electricity.

    "The plant was designed to produce 250 kilowatts of electricity. It has been operating for over a year, providing electricity to operate the oil wells."


    click to enlarge

    "…[W]hile the plant proves the technology's viability, more study is needed to see if it would work at other oil fields in the country.

    "The federal government plans to continue testing for another two years and collect more data related to long-term durability…"

    Monday, October 19, 2009

    NEW ENERGY IS CHEAPEST ENERGY

    Report Examines Hidden Health And Environmental Costs Of Energy Production And Consumption In U.S.
    Sara Freuh and Alison Burnette, October 19, 2009 (Office of News and Public Information/National Academy of Science)

    "A new report from the National Research Council examines and, when possible, estimates "hidden" costs of energy production and use -- such as the damage air pollution imposes on human health -- that are not reflected in market prices of coal, oil, other energy sources, or the electricity and gasoline produced from them…an estimated $120 billion in the U.S. in 2005, a number that reflects primarily health damages from air pollution associated with electricity generation and motor vehicle transportation…[and not including] damages from climate change, harm to ecosystems, effects of some air pollutants such as mercury, and risks to national security…

    "Requested by Congress,
    [Hidden Costs of Energy: Unpriced Consequences of Energy Production and Use] assesses what economists call external effects caused by various energy sources over their entire life cycle -- for example, not only the pollution generated when gasoline is used to run a car but also the pollution created by extracting and refining oil and transporting fuel to gas stations. Because these effects are not reflected in energy prices, government, businesses and consumers may not realize the full impact of their choices. When such market failures occur, a case can be made for government interventions…"

    From the European Tribune (click to enlarge)

    "The committee that wrote the report…estimated both what the damages were in 2005 (the latest year for which data were available) and what they are likely to be in 2030…[and] separately derived a range of values for damages from climate change…[A]ll model results available to the committee indicate that climate-related damages caused by each ton of CO2 emissions will be [50-to-80%] worse in 2030 than now…

    "DAMAGES FROM ELECTRICITY GENERATION…Coal nonclimate damages average about 3.2 cents for every kilowatt-hour (kwh) of energy produced. A relatively small number of plants -- 10 percent of the total number -- accounted for 43 percent of the damages. By 2030, nonclimate damages are estimated to fall to 1.7 cents per kwh…Climate-related monetary damages range from 0.1 cents to 10 cents per kilowatt-hour…Burning natural gas generated far less damage than coal…an average of 0.16 cents per kwh…By 2030, nonclimate damages are estimated to fall to 0.11 cents per kwh. Estimated climate damages from natural gas were half that of coal, ranging from 0.05 cents to 5 cents per kilowatt-hour."


    From the European Tribune (click to enlarge)

    "The life-cycle damages of wind power, which produces just over 1 percent of U.S. electricity but has large growth potential, are small compared with those from coal and natural gas. So are the damages associated with normal operation of the nation's 104 nuclear reactors, which provide almost 20 percent of the country’s electricity. But the life cycle of nuclear power does pose some risks…The potential risks from a proposed long-term facility for storing high-level radioactive waste need further evaluation before they can be quantified. Life-cycle CO2 emissions from nuclear, wind, biomass, and solar power appear to be negligible when compared with fossil fuels.

    "DAMAGES FROM HEATING…Most of this heat energy comes from natural gas or, to a lesser extent, the use of electricity…The median damages in residential and commercial buildings were about 11 cents per thousand cubic feet…Damages from heat in 2030 are likely to be about the same…DAMAGES FROM MOTOR VEHICLES AND FUELS…Damages per vehicle mile traveled were remarkably similar among various combinations of fuels and technologies -- the range was 1.2 cents to about 1.7 cents per mile traveled…Nonclimate-related damages for corn grain ethanol were similar to or slightly worse than gasoline…ethanol made from herbaceous plants or corn stover -- which are not yet commercially available -- had lower damages…Electric vehicles and grid-dependent (plug-in) hybrid vehicles showed somewhat higher nonclimate damages…[because] producing the electricity to power them currently relies heavily on fossil fuels…Achieving significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 will likely also require breakthrough technologies…Both for 2005 and 2030, vehicles using gasoline made from oil extracted from tar sands and those using diesel derived from the Fischer-Tropsch process -- which converts coal, methane, or biomass to liquid fuel -- had the highest life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions…"

    GERMANY WINS SOLAR DECATHLON

    Germany Takes Top Honors in Solar Decathlon
    Elizabeth Razzi, October 16, 2009 (Washington Post)

    "Team Germany--led by students from Technische Universitat Darmstadt--won top overall honors in the 2009 Solar Decathlon, the Department of Energy announced…

    "Second place, overall, went to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and third place went to Team California, which was a partnership of Santa Clara University and California College of the Arts…"


    From Americagov via YouTube

    "This is the second straight time that a German team won the overall prize. According to DOE, the team's "Cube House" design--which was covered on all sides by shiny, black solar panels--produced a surplus of electricity even during three days of rain. The ability to feed the most solar-generated electricity back into Pepco's electric grid was the most heavily weighted challenge of the 10 categories that made up the this year's decathlon.

    "Team Germany earned 908.29 points out of a possible 1,000 in the overall competition. U. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign earned 897.30, and Team California earned 863.08 points…"


    From Americagov via YouTube

    [Winners in other categories:]"…APPLIANCES: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign…ARCHITECTURE: Team California…COMFORT ZONE: (indoor temp and humidity) Team Germany…COMMUNICATIONS: (Web site, tours, etc.) Team California…ENGINEERING: (energy systems design, efficiency, innovation and reliability) University of Minnesota…"

    [Winners in other categories:]"…HOME ENTERTAINMENT:(powering TV & computer, cooking, hosting guests) University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    HOT WATER: (15 gallons delivered in 10 minutes or less) University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign…LIGHTING DESIGN: University of Minnesota…MARKET VIABILITY: (Cost-effective construction and technology; market appeal) University of Louisiana at Lafayette…NET METERING: Team Germany."

    SOLAR POWER PLANTS FOR FLA

    FPL's big solar power project taking shape near Indiantown
    Cara Fitzpatrick, October 18, 2009 (Palm Beach Post)

    "…With the first mirrors set to arrive…[ Florida Power & Light Co.’s concentrating solar power plant in western Martin County, begun a year ago] is starting to take shape…

    "In the most basic terms, the [concentrating solar power] process works like this: The sun's light strikes a mirror and is beamed into a pipe, which "catches" the energy and moves it, via molten liquid, into a power plant [which] boils water into steam. The steam is used for power…[It] is far more complex on the ground."


    Natural gas-Concentrating solar hybrid power plant (click to enlarge)

    "In Martin County, where the largest and most expensive of…FPL Group's three [$700 million] solar projects is being built, 192,000 [tempered glass] mirrors [that focus sunlight without causing glare] will be attached to 6,800 aluminum frames on 7,100 steel pylons [to withstand 150 mph winds] on 500 acres alongside the Martin Power Plant…About 1 million gallons of recyclable fluid, heated to 700 degrees Fahrenheit, will move the sun's energy to the plant…The $476 million project is expected to open at the end of 2010…

    "About 1,000 workers will be used in its construction, while only about a dozen will be required for its operation…Of about 700 workers at the plant now, 60 percent are from Florida…[The other 2 projects will use photovoltaic technology, which converts sunlight directly into electricity. One will come online this week and the other next spring]…"


    Photovoltaic (PV) solar power (click to enlarge)

    "Once it goes online, the Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center will work much like a hybrid car, switching between two sources of power, using sunlight when available and the existing gas-fired plant when clouds or darkness make such use ineffective.

    "…The plant will generate an estimated 155,000 megawatt hours of electricity each year and power about 11,000 homes…[It’s smaller than] conventional power plants, but decreases fossil fuel usage with no waste or additional cooling water…It also will be the largest solar-power plant outside of California…[S]olar energy is unlikely to replace more traditional [energies soon, but]…FPL believes these projects have the potential not only to change the way Florida produces energy, but to give the state the lead in "green" technology…"

    BIOFUELS NEED CLOSER LOOK

    UN Study Calls for More Debate on Biofuels
    Alisha Ryu, 16 October 2009 (Voice Of America)

    "A new report by the United Nations Environment Program says developing biofuels as a green energy option is beneficial only when countries adopt a sophisticated approach.

    ["...Assessing Biofuels] has warnings for African countries, which are already struggling to cope with the loss of productive farmlands through drought and land degradation…[C]onducted by UNEP's International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management, [the study] concludes that while biofuel production and use may appear to be a solution for cutting greenhouse gas emissions caused by burning of fossil fuels, some biofuels are much more climate-friendly than others."

    click to enlarge

    "The report says biofuels can lead to reduced emissions or worsen the problem…[U]sing ethanol fuel made from sugar cane, as practiced in some countries like Brazil, can lead to emissions reductions of up to 100 percent when substituted for fossil fuel. But making and using bio-diesel from palm oil on deforested land can lead to a significant increase in emissions when compared to using gasoline…Given that most biofuels today are made from food crops such as maize, wheat, sugar cane, vegetable and palm oils…it is also important that the growth of the biofuel industry does not encourage unsustainable habits, such as using productive farmlands to grow energy crops."

    click to enlarge

    "UNEP's spokesman Nick Nuttall says far more research and debate is needed to determine which energy crops can grow where and how best to use limited land resources to combat climate change…[O]ther considerations include the impact of energy crops on such things as local water quality, quantity and biodiversity…David Newman, who runs the Nairobi-based biofuels consultancy Endelevu Energy, [says] research and debate are especially critical for Africa, where sustainable land management and agricultural production efforts are often at odds with the need for development.

    "One of the most controversial local issues is the production of bio-diesel, which Newman says could be a disaster for some African countries trying to enter the market…Tanzania [just] announced that it was halting further land allocations for biofuel development until a framework to regulate the industry is in place…[following] reports that arable land that could be used to grow food is being increasingly used for biofuel production."