NewEnergyNews More: January 2010

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



Your intrepid reporter


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


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

  • ---------------
  • Sunday, January 31, 2010


    States renew vows to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
    31 January 2010 (BBC News)

    "Governments around the world have reaffirmed their plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions in support of last month's Copenhagen climate summit.

    "Nations signing up to the summit accord were urged to outline pledges by Sunday. States producing at least two-thirds of emissions have done so…[Though] the accord is widely seen as a disappointment…the level of support for it is seen as an indicator of prospects for a legally binding deal later in the year."

    From BBC News. (click thru to the U.S. Climate Action Network for details on all commitments)

    "Many developing countries who face the worst impacts from climate change seem willing to sign up to the agreement, as it includes firm commitments on funding in both the short and the medium terms…[O]thers are unhappy with the idea that the accord could become a new basis of negotiations towards a legally binding treaty, and it is feared that some may refuse to associate with it…

    "Leading emitters such as the US, India, China and the EU have already written in…Some smaller emitters have also sent pledges or asked to be associated with…[the Copenhagen] accord [which includes] a recognition to limit temperature rises to less than 2C (3.6F)…[and a promise to] deliver $30bn (£18.5bn) of aid for developing nations over the next three years, to cope with the impact of climate change, and further funds to help them reduce emissions."

    From BBC News. (click thru to the U.S. Climate Action Network for details on all commitments)

    "But analysts say the accord looks unlikely to contain temperature rises to within 2C, the threshold that UN scientists say is needed to avert serious climate change…Environmentalists and aid agencies have branded it a failure…UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon described [it as a beginning]…

    "…[I]f most countries at least signal what they intend to do to cut their emissions, it will mark the first time that the UN has a comprehensive written collection of promised actions… The next round of negotiations is due to be held in December in Cancun, Mexico…It is unclear whether a legally binding deal can be reached…amid uncertainties such as about whether the US Congress can pass a bill which includes emissions reductions."


    iSuppli forecasts impact of Germany’s FiT cuts in 2010
    Mark Osborne, 21 January 2010 (PV-Tech)

    "With the extra feed-in tariff cuts due to kick in in April this year, iSuppli's senior director and principal solar analyst, Dr. Henning Wicht, expects a significant rush to install PV systems before FiT changes cause a dramatic fall in demand. Wicht is projecting installations to reach approximately 1GW in the first quarter, plummeting to only 50MW in April and remaining at the 100MW level in May and June. However, a recovery in demand is expected with a forecast of 2.7GW of total installations in 2010."

    [Dr. Henning Wicht, senior director and principal solar analyst, iSuppli:] “Germany’s decision to cut its solar subsidies in the second quarter will make installations less attractive for the country’s consumers…Because of this, German consumers will rush to make solar installations in the first quarter and then stop in the second quarter. As a result, iSuppli anticipates the German market will overheat during the first three months of the year and then collapse during the next three months…As a result of the decline in installations, solar system prices in Germany could decline by 7.5% from April through the end of 2010, compared to less than the 5% normal rate of decline.”

    click to enlarge

    "…[T]he reason for a recovery later in the year was due to an expected decline in module prices greater than previously forecasted…[but] the crash that Wicht has modelled is actually very short, especially considering the strong recovery in the fourth quarter, which is little different from installation levels experienced in the same quarter of 2009…Wicht isn’t that concerned about the ramifications of the German FiT cuts on the global market and refrains from drawing parallels with the Spanish cuts and capping that took place in September 2008 and the module overcapacity and plunging prices that followed…"

    [Dr. Henning Wicht, senior director and principal solar analyst, iSuppli:] “The massive oversupply and downturn seen in the global solar cell industry in 2009 was largely due to Spain’s decision to change its FIT policies, which led to a collapse in demand…Germany’s move could have similar impact on the global solar market during the second quarter of 2010. However there is a major difference: the German FIT does not limit the size of solar installations, whereas the Spanish FIT restricts installations to 400MW to 500MW per year. Assuming that solar system prices will drop more, installations in Germany will have an opportunity to recover, unlike in Spain.”


    Westar Energy Acquires Rights to 500MW Kansas Wind Farm
    January 25, 2010 (Sustainable Business)

    "Westar Energy, Inc…has acquired development rights for a new wind farm in Kansas. Westar has reached an agreement with Infinity Wind Power to develop the Ironwood site near Spearville for up to 500 megawatts (MW) of capacity. The initial phase is expected to be approximately 200 MW and will be completed by late 2011 or 2012, depending on the pace of new transmission construction in western Kansas…

    "…[Westar] reviewed 35 proposals [for New Energy projects]. After much research, and given changing legislative and economic conditions, Westar opted to obtain rights from Infinity Wind to develop the Ironwood site to position itself to add additional renewable generation quickly once market conditions and transmission availability become more favorable for its customers…"

    Kansas has rich wind assets but...(click to enlarge)

    "The development agreement with Infinity is structured as an asset purchase and includes contracts with landowners currently covering 18,603 acres as well as other development-related assets. As part of the agreement, Infinity will provide future development services to further prepare the site for construction of the wind farm.

    "A new Kansas [Renewable Electricity Standard (RES)] requires electric utilities to have renewable capacity equal to 10% of the utilities peak summer demand, and 20% by 2020. For Westar this means growing its nearly 300 MW renewable generation portfolio by 160 MW to 200 MW by the end of 2011 and more than 600 MW of new renewable sources by 2020."

    ...development has lagged behind other states but the new RES is already driving growth and could give Kansas standing in the ocming year. (click to enlarge)

    "Westar currently…owns Central Plains Wind farm, a 99 MW facility…has a 100 MW share of the Flat Ridge Wind Farm…[and] purchases 96 MW of wind power from the Meridian Way Wind Farm…Those wind farms went online in 2008 and 2009.

    "Westar Energy, Inc…is the largest electric utility in Kansas…has about 7,100 megawatts of electric generation capacity and operates and coordinates more than 35,000 miles of electric distribution and transmission lines."


    Obama administration: ‘We’re done with Yucca’
    Lisa Mascaro, January 29, 2010 (Las Vegas Sun)

    "…The White House’s top energy adviser, Carol Browner, said Yucca Mountain is off the table as the new commission headed by Lee Hamilton and Brent Scowcroft begins a two-year process to study alternatives for handling the nation’s spent nuclear fuel…"

    [Former national security adviser (to two presidents) Scowcroft:] “[The commission will be] trying to look forward, not back.”

    click to enlarge

    [Former congressman and 9/11 Commission co-chair Hamilton:] “Nuclear waste storage at Yucca Mountain is not an option and the commission will be looking at better alternatives…”

    "The formation of a panel to study alternatives was proposed last year as Obama announced his intention to dismantle the Yucca Mountain project he had vowed to kill...[The 2011 budget] is expected to zero out funds for Yucca Mountain, even as Obama called for “building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants” in his State of the Union speech…"

    Besides having no solution for the storage of radioactive waste, nuclear energy is not the best economic choice and is not the best choice to beat climate change. (click to enlarge)

    "Nevada officials welcomed the development as a key step in the state’s decades-long battle to stop the proposed waste dump…[but] warned that until Obama pulls the Energy Department’s application to license Yucca Mountain or Congress rewrites the law allowing it, the project could merely be on hold…A change in the political winds could allow a new president or supportive lawmakers to restart efforts…

    "Nevada’s Washington lawmakers are confident the commission will take Nevada closer to being done with Yucca Mountain…The panel includes prominent voices in the nuclear debate in Washington…[It] is expected to study alternatives for 18 months and issue a report with 24 months, though the chairmen hope to finish sooner."

    Wednesday, January 27, 2010


    Cape Wind's fate unclear, even in Obama's hands
    Jay Lindsay, January 24, 2010 (AP via Washington Post)

    "After eight years of review, the future of a controversial wind farm off Cape Cod now rests in what would seem to be [the Obama administration’s] friendly hands…But it's tough to tell if Cape Wind's prospects just got better or worse.

    "Obama has never mentioned the project…Some Cape Wind advocates have chalked up Obama's silence to respect for the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, an early and influential Obama backer. Kennedy battled the project fiercely, writing Obama of his opposition the month before he died…Obama's Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who pledged this month to decide whether to approve Cape Wind by the end of April, has called it "a good project." But two Obama appointees…have links to its chief opposition, the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound…[though they] are recused from any decisions involving Cape Wind…The Obama administration is awaiting the Interior Department's Cape Wind review before taking a position…"

    The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
    Jason Jones 180 - Nantucket
    Jason Jones investigates Cape Wind

    "Cape Wind, expected to cost $1 billion, aims to provide 75 percent of the Cape's electricity with 130 turbines, each about 440 feet tall, erected in Nantucket Sound. Its developers stand to benefit as a major electricity provider to a state aiming to create enough wind power capacity to power 800,000 homes by 2020…Opponents say the project is a hazard to aviation and wildlife and would mar historic vistas, including the view from the Kennedy compound. They want it moved out of the sound to an alternate site Cape Wind says is not feasible.

    "Since he took office, Obama has spoken several times about [the value of onshore and offshore] wind energy…Barbara Hill of the pro-Cape Wind group Clean Power said she finds Obama's silence on Cape Wind [confusing] because its success is so crucial to future offshore wind projects…Sue Reid, an attorney with the Conservation Law Foundation and a project proponent, said she believes Obama is simply being careful not to prejudge the project before the approval process ends…"

    click thru to learn more

    "On July 8, Kennedy and U.S. Rep. William Delahunt wrote Obama and asked him to postpone any decision until Cape Wind was subjected to new ocean zoning rules still being devised by Obama's national Ocean Policy Task Force…The task force has since said its rules are "not meant to delay or halt" existing projects, but such projects are expected to take the "goals and principles" of the marine zoning rules into account…Kennedy also asked Obama to direct the task force [to protect Nantucket Sound]…

    "The sound was ruled eligible for that protection on Jan. 4…That ruling brought the prospect of more delay and prompted Salazar to intervene. If he approves Cape Wind, a few smaller issues would remain, including review by the FAA, headed by [Randy] Babbitt. He has worked as an alliance consultant on its claims that Cape Wind could interfere with airplane radar signals… [but] has been recused from any involvement in Cape Wind decisions…Cape Wind spokesman Mark Rodgers said the project will ultimately succeed on its merits, which were validated over years of review…[It could be] the only offshore wind project [built] during Obama's term."


    Stirling Solar Goes Live: How Does it Compare to Mirrors?; Sixty solar dishes go live in Arizona. Let the debate begin.
    Michael Kanellos, January 23, 2010 (Greentech Media)

    "Which solar thermal technology works best? The debate will soon begin in earnest...Developer Tessera Solar has created a 1.5 megawatt power plant out of 60 SunCatcher solar thermal devices from Stirling Energy Systems. Later this year, Stirling will go into volume production which will enable Tessera to break ground on commercial scale solar plants in California (one 750 megawatt plant and one 850 megawatt plant) and Texas (a 27 megawatt plant).

    "The prototype 1.5 megawatt power plant comes after a few delays and a financial glitch for Stirling…[N]ow that the plant is up, Stirling will be able to compare the results its gets from its Stirling engines [with] heliostat prototype power plants erected by eSolar in Southern California and BrightSource Energy in Israel as well as parabolic trough systems…[already] commercially deployed…[Trough and heliostat technologies] collect solar heat on mirrors and use it to heat fluid. The warmth causes the fluid to expand, which creates pressure that gets exploited to crank a turbine."

    click to enlarge

    "The SunCatcher is made up of a giant parabolic dish of mirrors (40 feet across) to concentrate the sun onto a receiver called a "power conversion unit (PCU)." Sunlight heats up the hydrogen gas in tubes in the PCU, and the gas goes through a heat exchanger to run a four-cylinder Stirling engine. The engine then drives a generator to produce electricity…Stirling engines [go] back to 1816, when Robert Stirling in Scotland designed [and built] the first machine…to pump water from a quarry."

    click to enlarge

    "Each 25-kilowatt SunCatcher is its own mini electricity-generating unit…Stirling has claimed that its system is the most efficient: a prototype converted a record 31 percent of the energy striking it into electricity. Stirling engines, however, transfer heat through the air. The others transfer heat through liquid. As a result, [the SunCatcher has no] mechanism for storing heat…Which one of these works best in which sort of environments will be one of the big issues for the solar thermal world.

    "And there are other solar thermal ideas emerging as well: HelioFocus (high temperature Stirling engines linked directly to turbines)…beam down concepts…[and concentrating photovoltaic concepts]…"


    "Stealth" wind turbine blade may end radar problem
    Stuart McDill (w/Anthony Barker), January 27, 2010 (Reuters)

    "The development of a "stealth" turbine blade, based on military technology, may help overcome the problem of wind farms interfering with aviation radar systems…The issue of turbine blades confusing radar operators [can account for as many as half] the objections to wind farm planning applications…

    "…Vestas Wind Systems is experimenting with stealth technology, developed to help warplanes escape notice, to reduce a turbine blade's radar signature…[Blade tip speed is near that of small planes, confusing radar operators]…The confusion is caused by radar bouncing off moving wind turbines, creating a cloud of reflected signals…[A plane in the cloud of signals could be lost on radar]…"

    click to enlarge

    "Global wind power capacity is now more than 120 gigawatts (GW), according to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), and Vestas says as much as 9 GW of potential wind power is on hold because of objections by civilian, military and marine radar operators…In [the UK] the problem has led…[to objections] to more than 5GW worth of planning applications…[it has prevented development in the U.S. as well]…"

    click to enlarge

    "Three potential solutions are under consideration, including a software fix and efforts to 'factor out' whole wind farms…The Vestas solution [-- exactly the same technology as a stealth bomber or a stealth fighter but specially tuned so aircraft can be differentiated from wind projects -- ] has to be carefully implemented to make sure aircraft will still be aware of turbine blades…

    "The British Wind Energy Association welcomed all development efforts but said a range of solutions are needed…As GWEC estimates of the number of wind farms increasing on average by 30 percent per year, the problem of crowded skies is likely to make a solution to the problem ever more important."


    CSP-retrofits: A medium-term solution?; Power generators are under increasing pressure around the world to reduce their environmental impact. Bolting on solar capacity to existing conventional plants is one option on the table. But do the arguments for solar augmentation add up?
    Oliver Balch, 21 January 2010 (CSP Today)

    "The southwest of the United Sates is to set to host two pioneering solar augmentation projects… Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association…[will] commence construction of the twin demonstration projects in 2011, with operations set to start “by 2014 or sooner”.

    "The larger of the two projects will be based at NV Energy’s Chuck Lenzie natural gas combined cycle plant. Located north of Las Vegas, Nevada, the 1102MW facility will have a 95MWe solar installation added…to integrate with the plant’s high-pressure stage…[enabling] the plant’s steam turbine to produce the same amount of electricity from less natural gas…[O]ne of the largest proposed integrations in the world, the project will be equipped with a superheated steam design that boosts the efficiency of the solar component."

    click to enlarge

    "The second demonstration project will be located at Tri-State’s 245-MW Escalante Station, situated in Prewitt, New Mexico…[A] 36MWe solar field [will be added] to the coal-powered plant…The hybrid model will test main steam integration, using solar-derived steam to displace coal-derived steam in the boiler…[again allowing] for the same electricity output with less coal consumption…If successful, it will mark the world’s first large-scale CSP project for mainstream pulverised coal power generation…

    "…[O]ther solar augmentation proposals…[include the] Florida Power and Light…75MW parabolic trough project at its combined cycle gas-fired Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Centre [due in] 2010…Around a dozen more retrofit projects are currently under consideration in the United States, the Middle East and Europe…[including] a 1MW experiment plan by Xcel Energy to enhance the capacity of its Cameo coal plant through [parabolic trough technology] CSP…[In] New South Wales, Australia…US-based Ausra Fresnel reflector solar steam generators [are tesing] with existing coal-fired thermal plants…"

    Another alternative. (click to enlarge)

    "…[T]he argument in favour of [solar augmentation/retrofitting] has yet to be proven…[In recent research by US solar specialists WorleyParsons Group and EPRI] compact linear Fresnel reflector (CLFR)… was found to be [less successful than towers or troughs because]… the typical operation temperature of the technology measures no more than 270°C. This limits the efficiency of the integrated system and results in fewer integration options…Central receiver technology, on the other hand, boasts temperature outlet levels of up to 600 °C…[enabling] superheated steam to be added to the system, thereby increasing the integration options for coal plant steam cycles…[In] trough technology, the synthetic oils employed in the process limit temperatures to around 380 °C…

    "Should the technology prove itself, the potential advantages of retrofitting…[include reduced] fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions …[and] solar augmentation plans inevitably impact the design of a power plant…[but] are likely to generate far fewer regulatory hurdles… than a new hybrid or stand-alone CSP plant…Existing power plants are already connected to the grid, forestalling problems with access to transmission that new CSP plants often face…[and] power plants boast the available water resources for cooling purposes that CSP also needs…[Retrofitting] achieves higher thermal to electric conversion efficiency and potentially lower costs compared to stand-alone solar facilities…[and the] solar component implies access to renewable energy credit markets and other fiscal incentives…[Retrofitting]…enables power generators to add utility scale solar without the huge start-up costs of a stand-alone plant…"

    Tuesday, January 26, 2010


    What Solar Should Look for in a National Energy Bill; If a climate bill fails, what national legislation can the solar market hope to see this year?
    Shayle Kahn, January 25, 2010 (Greentech Media)

    "Prospects for 2010 passage of national climate legislation are dimming. The disappointing outcome in Copenhagen, the prolonged health care debate, and the election of another opposing Senator have led some members of the democratic leadership to all but give up on the issue before the November midterm elections.

    "…[S]ome members of the Senate are considering stripping off the energy provisions…viewed as more bipartisan, and passing them alone. There has even been some speculation that an energy bill will be absorbed into a jobs bill…[A] pure energy bill could still have a significant impact on the U.S. solar market… [T]he American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES), is also known as Waxman-Markey… passed through the House of Representatives…[T]he Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee did pass a version of the bill, called the American Clean Energy Leadership Act of 2009 (ACELA). The full Senate is yet to vote on ACELA…[T]he provisions that will most directly affect the solar market…in either ACES, ACELA, or both."

    click to enlarge

    "[A] National Renewable [Electricity] Standard [ReS]…[would] require utilities to generate a percentage of their electricity from [New Energy] by a specified date…ACES sets a target of 20 percent renewable energy by 2020 with up to 5 percent through energy efficiency, reducing the effective target to 15 percent by 2020. The ACELA [RES] is weaker, requiring only 15 percent renewable energy by 2021 with up to 26.67 percent to be met through energy efficiency…State [RESs] have been most successful in promoting solar when there is specific target for solar power or distributed generation. While neither bill contains such a requirement, they both provide 3x credit multipliers for distributed generation…In order for a national [RES] to truly incentivize solar, it needs to have a larger overall target and specific requirements for solar or distributed generation.

    "[A] Clean Energy Deployment Administration (CEDA)…the "Green Bank," …could have a large impact on solar project financing…[A] government-owned corporation would be arranged with the express intent of providing and catalyzing financing for [New Energy]…[S]imilar to other government-run private banks…The Green Bank would have the authority to provide financial assistance…including loans, loan guarantees, and insurance products…The key element here is capitalization…[A] Green Bank should be allocated significantly more than the $7.5 billion to $10 billion offered in ACES and ACELA. SEIA suggests a minimum of $50 billion, with authority to issue bonds for another $50 billion…[to] provide a valuable service to the solar industry."

    Like net metering, many of the things on solar's legislative agenda are part of the Solar Bill of Rights. Click thru to find out more.

    "Interconnection and Net Metering Provisions…are present in varying degrees at the state level and provide the backbone of every growing solar market…ACES addresses net metering for federal facilities, but not for the general public. ACELA requires national interconnection standards, but doesn't cover net metering. Ideally, a national energy bill will ultimately include both.

    "The battle to pass a comprehensive climate/energy bill isn't yet lost. The New York Times editorial board just released a worthy call for President Obama to make the case for a 2010 climate bill during his State of the Union address this week. And the issue is too important to leave unresolved, even if just to ride out the midterm elections…[D]ebate over energy legislation [will] begin in earnest once the health care debate subsides…"


    Algal Biomass Organization Questions Accuracy of University of Virginia Algae Life Cycle Study; ABO Believes That Reliance on Obsolete Data and Faulty Assumptions Undermines All Conclusions
    January 25, 2010 (Algal Biomass Organization via Business Wire)

    "The Algal Biomass Organization (ABO), the trade association for the algae industry, …challenged the conclusions of Environmental Life Cycle Comparison of Algae to Other Bioenergy Feedstocks claiming that “conventional crops have lower environmental impacts than algae in energy use, greenhouse gas emissions and water.” [ABO said the] report was based upon obsolete data and grossly outdated business models, and overlooked tremendous improvements in technology and processes across the production cycle…seriously [undermining] the credibility of the study’s conclusions…Among the many concerns of ABO…

    "[1] Assumptions about algae growth systems…[abandoned] years ago…[for] a variety of more advanced cultivation systems, some of which are unrelated to the methods the authors sought to assess…[2] Assumptions about co-location…assuming the production facility is not co-located with a large CO2 emitter…resulting in a higher attribution of CO2 for algae plants. Most commercial-scale algae projects are being developed alongside major emitters…"

    click to enlarge

    "[3] Assumptions about water use…A sustainable industrial algae production model uses non-potable, non-agricultural water [and not fresh water] in the process of making liquid fuels…[4] Assumptions about nutrient use…[ignoring] the opportunity to consider the ability of algae producers to recycle nutrients…"

    click to enlarge

    "[5] Assumptions about energy use…[in] the full algae fuel cycle…[that overlooked] energy reuse through biodigester biogas combustion coupled with the carbon recycling...[and] errantly [gave] a higher emissions burden…[6] Assumptions about purchase of CO2 and fertilizer…[which is] so prohibitively expensive it would never happen in reality…[yet drive] the negative impacts in the study.

    "Lastly, the authors make it very clear that their approach is
    stochastic …a randomly determined sequence of observations…[and] should not be given the same weight as studies and analyses based on facts and other measurable data…In general, the Algal Biomass Organization firmly believes life cycle assessments [LCAs] are critical to the development of the industry, given the need to accurately assess and quantify the environmental impact of algae-derived energy…[but questions the methodology of this one]…"


    Energy efficiency to shine in 2010
    Dana Hall, January 24, 2010 (San Jose Mercury News)

    "Solar and wind power may get the headlines and attention, but green-tech experts say 2010 will be dominated by energy efficiency, the mundane but critical process of cutting the amount of gas and electricity that homes and offices use.

    "Energy Secretary Steven Chu regularly describes himself as an 'energy-efficiency nut.' Sixteen states, including California and New York, have passed legislation enabling homeowners to finance energy-efficiency upgrades through their property taxes…President Barack Obama even declared insulation 'sexy' at a Home Depot…Venture capital investment in energy efficiency hit a record in 2009: at least 115 deals worth nearly $1 billion…up 39 percent from 2008. Meanwhile, solar, which had 84 deals worth about $1.2 billion, was down 64 percent from 2008…"

    Complete efficiency = zero emissions = enormous savings that will pay for New Energy. (click to enlarge)

    "Energy efficiency generally refers to a wide range of technologies designed to cut energy use such as improved lighting, greener building materials and sophisticated software that monitors power consumption…[I]t's increasingly seen as an effective way to create desperately needed jobs, save struggling consumers money, wean America from its dependence on foreign oil and reduce carbon emissions — all at the same time."

    Efficiency is the first choice because it will pay for New Energy. (click to enlarge)

    "Home energy use accounts for 21 percent of the nation's carbon footprint — roughly twice the carbon emissions of passenger cars…There are 100 million homes in America, and energy-saving measures like insulation, caulking, and heating and cooling system upgrades can reduce household energy consumption by 10 percent to 40 percent…And saving energy saves money: Californians pay an average of [only] $84 a month for electricity…"

    [Kevin Surace, CEO, Serious Materials:] "I remember standing with a piece of drywall at the Cleantech Forum in 2006…Every other company was solar, wind and biofuel. People were like: What are you doing at our conference? …All the cleantech conferences are efficiency, efficiency, efficiency [now]…When you really break it down, every dollar spent on energy efficiency pays back the investment four or five times. It saves people money and creates jobs. And it has bipartisan support."


    PG&E Corporation and SolarCity Announce $60 Million in Financing to Install Solar Power for Business
    25 January 2010 (PR-USA-Net)

    "Pacific Venture Capital, LLC, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation and SolarCity Corp., a national leader in solar power system design, financing, installation, monitoring and related services…announced $60 million in tax equity financing for solar installations for U.S. homes and businesses…funded by PG&E Corporation shareholders…

    "[It] is expected to allow SolarCity to install more than 1,000 solar systems for U.S. homeowners and businesses via the company's SolarLease® and Power Purchase Agreement financing options. SolarCity's financing options allow homeowners and businesses to adopt solar power with no upfront investment and to save money from day one on energy costs."

    click thru for more on the SolarCity program

    "Under the agreement, in return for providing the upfront investment needed for the new systems, Pacific Venture Capital will receive lease revenues from SolarCity customers, along with the benefits of federal investment tax credits and local rebates for the solar energy projects. The transaction represents the first such tax equity financing investment by a utility holding company and the first such collaboration between a utility holding company and a solar power provider…

    "The solar systems funded under the agreement are expected to be installed in 2010, predominantly in California, with some in Arizona and Colorado. SolarCity already has more than 1,700 solar customers in Pacific Gas and Electric Company's service area and more than 5,000 solar customers overall…"

    Sunday, January 24, 2010


    The First Rule of Fighting Climate Change: Don't Talk About Climate Change
    Kate Sheppard, January 22, 2010 (Mother Jones)

    "Republican pollster Frank Luntz—the brains behind Newt Gingrich's 'Contract With America' and the man who coined politically potent phrases like the 'death tax' —wants to help environmentalists in their push for legislation to combat climate change. His advice? Stop talking about climate change…

    "Luntz's report,
    The Language of a Clean Energy Economy, finds that the majority of the public across the political spectrum is convinced that global warming is happening and caused at least in part by humans. But, Luntz says, talking about the problem won't win support for the legislation that would solve it. Among both Democrats and Republicans polled by his firm, addressing climate change was the least important reason to support a cap-and-trade policy."

    click to enlarge

    "…Luntz suggests less talk of dying polar bears and more emphasis on how legislation will create jobs, make the planet healthier and decrease US dependence on foreign oil. Advocates should emphasize words like 'cleaner,' 'healthier,' and 'safer;' scrap 'green jobs' in favor of 'American jobs,' and ditch terms like 'sustainability' and 'carbon neutral' altogether…Luntz isn't the first public opinion expert to suggest this course of action—but until recently he was better known among environmentalists for furnishing the GOP with sophisticated strategies to kill any prospect of climate action during the Bush years. In 2002 Luntz authored an influential memo advising Republicans to green their public image while sowing public confusion about global warming…[by making the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue]…"

    "Many Republicans still seem to be working from Luntz's playbook. But he acknowledged…that the effort to muddy the public discussion over the science of climate change had failed… Luntz warned that if Republicans continue to dispute climate science it could hurt them politically. Instead, he said, the GOP should be engaging in the debate over to solve America's energy problems."

    click to enlarge

    [Pollster Frank Luntz:] "It doesn't matter whether you call it climate change or global warming…The public believes it's happening, and they believe that humans are playing a part in it…You have to do something new, and you have to do it better…If you are representing the polices of the past, you will be kicked out."

    "Now that Luntz has changed course on climate, is his advice to environmentalists any better than his former counsel to the GOP? As it happens, many advocates of climate legislation have already started moving in the direction that Luntz is proposing. The cap-and-trade bill that passed the House last year is titled the American Clean Energy and Security Act… the version currently circulating in the Senate version is called the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act…[and] President Barack Obama rarely talks about climate, focusing instead on jobs and economic growth. So far, though, all the positive spin hasn't made the hard task of passing legislation any easier."


    The New York Times gets it wrong on wind report
    Chris Madison, 22 January 2010 (Into The Wind via the American Wind Energy Association)

    "…This week the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), an institution funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, issued a comprehensive report assessing the feasibility of substantially increasing the use of wind energy in an area known as the Eastern Interconnection…a wide area of the northeastern United States…

    "It’s a crucial question because states in the Midwest and Northeast [will likely follow the lead]…[and the] NREL study is a big deal because the complex network of utilities, power generators and transmission lines has been built over many years, and its operations can only be changed if it can be shown to be economical and cost-effective."

    click to enlarge

    "NREL took on the task of measuring whether it would be possible to generate 20% or even 30% of electricity needs using wind in the Eastern interconnection. The chief conclusions [were]…[1] The integration of 20 percent wind energy is technically feasible, but will require significant expansion of the transmission infrastructure and system operational changes in…[2] Without transmission enhancements, substantial curtailment of wind generation would be required…[3] The relative cost of aggressively expanding the existing transmission grid represents only a small portion of the total annualized costs…[4] Drawing wind energy from a larger geographic area makes it both less expensive and a more reliable energy source…[It] makes the aggregated wind power output more predictable and less variable…[5] Wind energy development is a highly cost-effective way to reduce carbon emissions…[6] Carbon emissions are reduced by similar amounts in all scenarios, indicating that transmission helps to optimize the electrical system and does not result in coal power being shipped from the Midwest to New England States…[7] Reduced fossil fuel expenditures more than pay for the increased costs of additional transmission…

    "…[S]omehow the New York Times…wrote: 'Regardless of where the windmills are built, the projected global warming benefits are modest: a drop of about 4.5 percent in emissions, at best. If no additional wind machines are built, carbon emissions will rise...And [wind] would have only a modest impact on cutting emissions linked to global warming, the study found.'"

    click to enlarge

    "These sentences misleadingly claim that wind would only reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about 5%. In fact, emissions would have been 28.5% higher in 2024 if today’s generation mix (about 2% wind) were used to meet growing electric demand, while achieving 20% wind can turn that massive 28.5% emissions increase into a 5% emissions reduction…[C]arbon emissions would be reduced 25.5% in the 20% wind scenario and a whopping 37% in the 30% wind scenario…[and contradictory to what the Times wrote]…the study found that coal generation declined by around 23% from the business-as-usual case to the 20% wind case, and by 35% in the 30% wind case…

    "The Times also said the transmission expansion necessary to meet the increased 20% wind scenario 'would require spending about $93 billion in today’s dollars.' True, but as NREL noted in releasing the report, 'Reduced fossil fuel expenditures more than pay for the increased costs of additional transmission in all high wind scenarios.' In other words, the net economic cost, which is more relevant in terms of the economy and consumers, is zero, not $93 billion…[Perhaps most importantly, contrary to a Times claim, the] NREL study found that when wind turbines are spread out over a large area, the majority of the energy they produce can in fact be counted on to provide capacity…[and] grid operators across the country already count on wind turbines to provide capacity, and dozens of peer-reviewed studies in the U.S. and Europe have already established the fact that wind turbines provide significant capacity value."


    Is renewable power "eco-bling"? Report raises question
    January 22, 2010 (USA Today)

    "…I first heard "green bling" last year when a friend used it to describe the geothermal heating and cooling system she installed in her new, very well insulated home in Falls Church, Va. She said she first heard it in a green-building workshop to describe pricey (unnecessary?) systems.

    "…[ Paul McFedries’ Word Spy] defines
    eco-bling [as]…a noun…’Ineffective green technology, particular equipment added on to an existing building that does little to reduce the building's use of natural resources…’ [and] cites several recent use, including one [in] a new report by the Royal Academy of Engineering that recommends how the United Kingdom can best reach its ambitious goals for cutting [new building] carbon emissions…[to] zero-carbon (produce as much energy as they use) by 2016…"

    Only the best efforts at building Energy Efficiency AND New Energy can meet this challenge. (click to enlarge)

    "Doug King, the report's author and a visiting professor of building engineering physics at the University of Bath, said it's become fashionable for people to install wind turbines and solar panels on their homes but warned against it…[because] unnecessary renewable energy visibly attached to the outside of poorly designed buildings…[means the building] is just as energy-hungry as every other building…[Putting] wind turbines and solar cells on the outside [to address] a few percent of that building's energy consumption [achieves little]…

    "King added that eco-bling seemed to be more about showing off than saving carbon.
    The solution, he said, was building a well-insulated envelope or exterior and making good use of natural light.

    The solution is often a hybrid. (click to enlarge)

    "President Obama called insulation ‘sexy’ [recently and cited]… the money that can be saved by retrofitting homes for greater energy efficiency…Homes that need little or no heating and cooling -- and thus no renewable power -- are gaining more attention…[Passive homes]…a concept begun in Germany, are now being built in the United States…

    "To be sure, some homes can actually produce more energy than they use by adding solar panels or wind turbines…[A] home may now be a net producer of power, but the homeowner [must use] a lot of insulation to lower…energy needs…"


    SunEdison, Developers Diversified Begin National Rooftop Solar Program
    21 January 2010 (Solar Industry)

    "SunEdison, a subsidiary of MEMC Electronic Materials, and Developers Diversified Realty, the owner, manager and developer of a portfolio of shopping centers, have activated five solar power projects in New Jersey. This activation is the first phase of Developers Diversified's national rooftop solar program…

    "Last year, SunEdison and Developers Diversified entered into a partnership that gives SunEdison the rights to deploy solar energy systems at more than 130 shopping centers throughout the United States."

    The sunlight is free, the space is available and the retailer's overhead comes down, allowing savings to be passed on to customers - what's not to like? (click to enlarge)

    "Through SunEdison's REIT Solar Program, Developers Diversified will purchase the energy produced for common-area usage, while earning revenue for solar power production on the leased roof space. In addition, shopping center tenants can opt to purchase the power generated through the program.

    "Eight projects in New Jersey are now currently active or under construction. Once these regional sites are all active, they will generate approximately 1.4 million kWh of solar energy in the first year…"

    Saturday, January 23, 2010


    Why not floating windmills?; Hart H.S. grad believes they’re the future … His company is working on the technology
    Kevin Braciszesski, January 23, 2010 (Ludington Daily News)

    "Larry Viterna, Ph.D., worked on wind energy development for many years with NASA and is now working on plans for wind turbines that will float far from shore…

    "…[Viterna is strongly in favor of] the current proposal to place wind turbines in Lake Michigan as close as two miles from Silver Lake State Park, where his father, Roy Viterna, worked as park manager from 1967 to 1981…[He thinks offshore wind on the Great Lakes can be very beneficial…[but would like to the wind turbines] 15 to 20 miles off shore…"

    Animated simulation of setting an offshore turbine afloat. From lviterna via YouTube

    "Viterna said winds are higher farther from shore and said the 300- to 450-foot-tall wind turbines would not be as noticeable from shore…His company, Nautica Windpower, is currently working to develop technology for floating wind turbines that can operate in deep waters far from shore.

    "With current technology, Viterna said, it is too expensive to place wind turbines too far from shore and in deep water…[F]loating wind turbines, possibly attached by weights to the lake bottom, need to be developed with less weight to be economically competitive…[H]e expects demand for energy to drive that development."

    The Great Lakes' offshore wind assets are among the best in the world. (click to enlarge)

    "Viterna also said other Great Lakes communities are now considering installing offshore wind turbines…Cleveland and Cuyahoga County are working on the issue together…New York and Canada are also considering wind turbines in the Great Lakes…The current plan for Michigan’s Lake Michigan waters was proposed by representatives of Scandia Wind and Havgul Clean Energy. It calls for construction of about 100 to 200 wind towers in a 100-square-mile area of Lake Michigan offshore from southern Mason County and northern Oceana County.

    "The developers are planning to start their wind turbines only 3.7 miles off the Mason County shore and less than 2 miles off part of Oceana County…Viterna said there is a lot of benefit to moving to wind as a clean energy source, but said it does not have to be intrusive…He believes the Scandia and Havgul representatives are doing the right thing by providing the public with information about their plans."

    Friday, January 22, 2010


    PV CYCLE - Making PV module recycling a reality
    January 2010 (European Photovoltaic Industry Association)

    "After almost two years of hard work, the initial efforts of PV CYCLE have started to pay off. This month the take-back and recycling scheme for Photovoltaic (PV) modules has been rolled out in Germany. In this country, approximately 3,000 tons of end-of- life panels will be generated this year representing about 50% of the European total. The estimates for 2030 show that this figure will rise to 130,000 tons in Europe. The members of PV CYCLE have shown their commitment to protect the environment…

    "The last few months of 2009 were particularly exciting for PV CYCLE. All the efforts put into the imminent launch of the scheme are paying off…Hellmann Logistics was selected to take care of the collection and transportation of end-of-life modules. In addition, soon the first agreement will be signed with one or more recycling plant(s) which can recycle the collected modules…"

    click to enlarge

    "PV CYCLE was set up in 2007 to bring together all major European PV producers and distributors…The members of PV CYCLE…mostly manufacturers and importers of PV modules…represent more than 85% of what has been put on the market in Europe. Their contributions will serve to finance the set up and implementation of the take-back and recycling scheme…To guarantee that end-of-life PV modules get adequately recycled, it is imperative that wholesalers, retailers, electrical installation contractors, system integrators, and project developers also get involved…

    "…[A]bout 4.5 GW [of solar capacity] were already installed in Europe in 2008. This represents 18% of all the new installed electrical capacity. PV has become the fastest growing renewable energy technology…PV electricity could provide up to 12% by 2020…Therefore, it is vital to start thinking ahead and putting into place the necessary mechanisms to take care of the recycling of PV modules…By setting up PV CYCLE, the industry has also shown its voluntary determination to make solar energy “DoubleGreen” and take responsibility for its waste. The substantial reduction in component incineration in favour of an increased volume of recycled modules will also contribute to recovering precious raw materials and preserving the planet’s scarce natural resources…"

    click to enlarge

    "The system PV CYCLE has envisioned will be based on the creation of a network of collection points that will operate with a reverse logistics approach. Special containers will be permanently located across the country in distribution and retailing stores, installers’ facilities, storage and transfer stations. End-of-life PV modules will be taken to those disposal locations by either the owners or the installers right after they are dismantled. Where necessary, PV CYCLE will arrange the pickup and transportation. Temporary containers will also be placed at large construction, renovation and demolition project sites.

    "In order for the whole system to operate efficiently, as many actors as possible in all stages of the value chain must become involved. The distribution and installation channels of photovoltaic modules are therefore crucial…[T]he replacement of modules will likely be done by the same companies that took care of the initial sale and installation and who can now contribute to their appropriate disposal…[The] scheme will be fully transparent…[An] independent monitoring committee will be created…[and] PV CYCLE will issue an annual public report…"


    Nuclear Power: Too Costly to Revive; Is nuclear power a solution we can afford? The short answer is no.
    Elliot Negin, January 21, 2010 (Greentech Media)
    Media director union of concerned scientists

    "For several years, the energy industry has been claiming that nuclear power is a green, cost-effective solution for global warming, and now it is asking the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to approve 26 new power plant proposals…[S]ome in Congress are calling for the federal government to support the construction of 100 new reactors over the next two decades.

    "…[E]xpanding U.S. nuclear power…could help combat climate change…[because it does] not emit carbon dioxide…[B]uilding more could reduce the 50 percent market share held by coal plants…But is nuclear power a solution we can afford? The short answer is no. Even discounting nuclear power's security and safety problems, the cost of construction could be the industry's Achilles' heel."

    Too expensive and...(click to enlarge)

    "The nuclear industry likes to point out that it has low production costs, which it does…[but it has] rapidly escalating capital costs, those associated with paying the cost of plant construction, including financing. In the past, the industry has benefited from considerable federal and state government subsidies that mask the true cost of the technology, including staggering capital costs and the risk of catastrophic accidents, by shifting these burdens onto taxpayers and ratepayers. The industry is now seeking to shift even more costs and risks onto the public…

    "In 2005, Congress authorized $60 billion in loan guarantees for new energy technologies. Of that amount, the Department of Energy (DOE) allocated $18.5 billion for new nuclear plants. But the industry wants more…a minimum of $100 billion in additional loan guarantees on top of the billions it already has been allocated…In the 1960s and 1970s, the industry proposed to build some 200 plants, but as construction costs escalated, only about half were finished. Taxpayers and ratepayers were left footing the bill -- about $300 billion in today's dollars -- for abandoned plants, cost overruns for completed plants, and stranded investments…No energy company has ordered a new plant since 1978, and all plants ordered after 1973 were cancelled."

    ...One of the least effective ways to fight climate change. (click to enlarge)

    "…Investors have stayed away ever since. In 2007, six top investment firms told the DOE in writing that they were unwilling to finance new reactors. Utility executives, meanwhile, will not finance new nuclear plants…Both Wall Street and the industry would consider it, however, if taxpayers assumed the risk…Taxpayers should be skeptical about [loan] guarantees. First, projected construction costs have been spiraling out of control…[Since 2002] projected costs have jumped [from $2-to-3 billion to] as high as $9 billion per unit…Second…the average risk of default on a federal loan guarantee for nuclear plant construction is 50 percent…[T]axpayers could be at risk for as much as $360 billion if 100 plants operating today were replaced with new plants by 2040…

    "…[N]ew reactors would be one of the most expensive options for producing "low-carbon" electricity, even ignoring the likelihood of cost overruns…[A] combination of low-carbon energy polices would economically reduce carbon emissions from electricity generation 84 percent by 2030…New nuclear plants would not be an cost-effective part of the generation mix, however…[I]t would be more economical to meet a stringent emissions cap with a mix of energy efficiency, renewable resources, and combined-heat-and-power plants fueled by natural gas…The potential price tag of yet another public bailout of the nuclear industry would dwarf the previous ones. Congress should think twice…The power source that was once promised to be "too cheap to meter" may now be too costly to revive."


    Clean-Tech Job Forecast 2010
    Kevin Brown and Steve Kyryk, January 22, 2010 (Clean Edge)

    "…Recession Took Toll on Global and Smaller Clean-Tech Companies Alike

    "…Q4 2009 Marked the Initial Signs of a Clean-Tech Turn-Around, but Job Growth Will be Slow…Stimulus grants and awards from the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E) last Fall set in motion renewed clean-tech job growth with hundreds of millions of dollars awarded to clean-tech companies leading to hires in both the private and public sectors…And as credit markets thaw and larger projects move forward, we expect a continued increase in hiring at larger energy companies in 2010."

    click to enlarge

    "Clean Tech is Attracting Top Quality Talent…[M]ore and more companies are looking for experienced engineers, managers, and other professionals…[S]mart grid companies are poaching high-level expertise from major information technology and software companies…

    "…Growth Area: Water…Not confined to traditional water purification, we see exceptional growth potential among companies pursuing advanced materials (NanoH2O) and novel processes (Oasys Water) or utilizing synthetic biology to control the influx and efflux of water molecules through live cells (Danfoss)."


    "Growth Area: Smart Grid…Investors have shown a keen and almost unyielding focus on smart grid opportunities…

    "…It's Time to Make a Decision on Carbon Policy…The only way to drive long-term clean-tech industry growth is with a clear and meaningful policy on carbon. Not a policy branded conservative or liberal with a bunch of hidden carve out dollars for pet projects; just a federally binding decision so companies, investors, and the rest of us know the rules of the game. Once the rules are set investors and entrepreneurs can go to work with greater confidence, resulting in millions of new jobs being created across the country."

    Tuesday, January 19, 2010


    Solar Power Advocates Hopeful for 2010
    Robert P. Walzer, January 19, 2010 (NY Times)

    "Between 500 and 600 megawatts of solar power will be built this year across the United States — about double the figure of last year — according to Larry Sherwood, who compiles and studies such data as a consultant to the Interstate Renewable Energy Council…[S]ome analysts [are] projecting even higher figures.

    "Among states, California is expected to maintain first place, and New Jersey is likely to come in second, with Florida making a strong showing for the first time…Helping to prop up the market will be incentives under President Obama, who announced last week a $2.3 billion tax credit in the clean-energy sector…[T]he falling cost of photovoltaic cells [will also] propel the market this year after a period in late 2008 and early 2009 when prices were rising."

    click to enlarge

    "Arno Harris, the chief executive of Recurrent Energy, a California solar energy developer, added that flowing bank credit would further help the sector…The outlook for the West Coast looks particularly bright…Adam Browning, the executive director of the Vote Solar Initiative, a nonprofit advocacy group, points to legislative developments there in particular.

    "The overarching driver is California’s law requiring the state’s utilities to derive 20 percent of their power from renewable energy this year and 33 percent by 2020. The figure for 2009 was 13 percent…"

    click to enlarge

    "Mr. Browning also said that Southern California Edison was likely to receive approval from state regulators… to build and own 250 megawatts of solar photovoltaic capacity and to auction contracts worth 250 megawatts to be owned and maintained by independent power producers…[T]he first auction would take place in the first quarter…Pacific Gas and Electric has applied for a similarly sized program, and the regulator, the California Public Utilities Commission, is expected to approved it in February…

    "…[A California] feed-in-tariff program [also appears] to be coming to fruition this year. It would require California’s investor-owned utilities to conduct multiple auctions for 1.5 to 10 megawatt renewable projects of up to 1 gigawatt over four years…Finally, Mr. Browning said that he expected an increase in the state’s cap on net metering — the total amount of solar energy that can be fed into a utility at peak demand, which is now set at 2.5 percent…"


    Hydrokinetic and Ocean Energy Renewable Power Generation from Ocean Wave, Tidal Stream, River Hydrokinetic, Ocean Current, and Ocean Thermal Technologies
    Peter Ausmus and Clint Wheelock, 2Q 2009 (Pike Research)

    "While the total installed capacity of emerging “second generation” marine hydrokinetic Resources… wave, tidal stream, ocean current, ocean thermal and river hydrokinetic resources…was less than 10 megawatts (MW) at the end of 2008, a recent surge in interest in these new renewable options has generated a buzz, particularly in the United Kingdom, Ireland, the United States, Portugal, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and Japan…[W]ithin the next five to eight years, these emerging technologies will become commercialized…[and] begin competing for a share of the burgeoning [New Energy] market…

    "The United Nations (UN) estimates that the total “technically exploitable” potential for waterpower (including marine renewables) is 15 trillion kilowatt-hours (kWh), equal to half of the projected global electricity use in the year 2030…[R]oughly 15 percent has been developed so far. The UN and World Energy Council projects 250 gigawatts (GW) of hydropower will be developed by 2030…[J]ust 10 percent of this…represents 25 GW, a figure Pike Research believes is a valid possibility…"

    click to enlarge

    "…[H]undreds of technology designs from more than 100 firms are competing…The five technologies covered in this report are…[1] Tidal stream turbines…90 percent of today’s marine kinetic capacity…[Mostly] first generation “barrage” systems…[2] Wave energy technologies…Any western coastline in the world has wave energy potential…[3] River hydrokinetic technologies…the kinetic energy of moving water…particularly at
    the mouth of a river way interacting with a sea and/or ocean…[4] Ocean current technologies…deeper ocean currents that are located offshore…[especially interesting because] the resource is 24/7…[5] Ocean thermal energy technologies…energy from the differences in temperature between the ocean surface and lower depths…[also] 24/7…

    "…[T]he Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI)…[found] the U.S. has the water resources to generate from 85,000 to 95,000 more megawatts from this non-carbon energy source, with 23,000 MW available by 2025…The superior energy content profile of all of the marine renewables translates into a distinct advantage…far less capital cost per unit of electricity generated…The downside for marine renewables is the unknown operations and maintenance (O&M) costs. Whereas O&M represents 10 percent of total project costs for solar, and 20 percent for wind, 40 percent is a ballpark guess for marine renewables…"

    click to enlarge

    "The demand for energy worldwide will continue to grow at a dramatic clip between 2009 and 2025…By 2015, Pike Research shows a potential of over 22 GW of all five [marine] technologies…The European Union’s (EU) Ocean Energy Agency has suggested that 10,000 MW could come on-line to meet EU demand by 2020, growing to 200,000 MW by 2050….The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has suggested that the five technologies profiled in this report could meet 2% of current U.S.electricity demand…

    "By 2025, at least 25 GW of total marine renewables will be developed globally…If effective carbon regulations in the U.S. are in place by 2010, and marine renewable
    targets established by various European governments are met, marine renewables and
    river hydrokinetic technologies could provide as much as 200 GW by 2025: 115 GW wave; 57 GW tidal stream; 20 GW tidal barrage; 4 GW ocean current; 3 GW river hydrokinetic…"


    Latest Technologies Keep a Low Profile in this Year’s Greenest Vehicles
    January 19, 2010 (American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy)

    "Amidst continual buzz about innovative green vehicle technologies and the impending arrival of the first full-function all-electric vehicles in a decade, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy…released environmental ratings for model year 2010 vehicles. This is the thirteenth year ACEEE has published its rankings…

    "Scrambling to recover from last year’s sales slump and bankruptcies, manufacturers are introducing an array of new vehicles designed to meet the demands of fuel-conscious buyers and increasingly stringent fuel economy standards…"

    click thru for complete listings and details

    "The 'greenest vehicle' title goes once again to Honda’s natural gas-powered Civic GX, while the Toyota Prius and the Honda Civic Hybrid claim spots two and three. New arrivals to the 'Greenest' list this year are the Honda Insight, the Ford Fusion/Mercury Milan Hybrid (named the 2010 North American Car of the Year), and the Hyundai Accent Blue. The remainder of the “Greenest” list is comprised largely of highly fuel-efficient conventional vehicles such as Smart Fortwo Convertible at number four and the Chevrolet Cobalt XFE and its Pontiac G5 XFE twin at number ten…"

    click thru for complete listings and details

    "Widely regarded as the pre-eminent buyer’s guide to environment-friendly passenger cars, trucks, and SUVs, provides the facts necessary to examine the eco-performance of any 2010 model. Vehicles are analyzed on the basis of a “Green Score,” a singular measure that incorporates unhealthy tailpipe emissions, fuel consumption, and emissions of gases that cause global warming.

    "The 'Meanest' list this year remains largely unchanged from 2009. It is comprised once again of a variety of heavy-duty trucks and SUVs and luxury European vehicles. The Lamborghini Murcielago tops the list this year with a Green Score of 18…[A] 'Greener Choices' list includes trucks and SUVs such as the Ford Escape Hybrid, GMC Canyon, Chevrolet Equinox, and the Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid. Cars such as the Honda Fit and Hyundai Sonata top their respective classes. As the list demonstrates, consumers can make “greener choices” whatever their vehicle needs may be…"


    Groom Energy Research Study Reveals 2009 Growth in Enterprise Carbon Accounting Software Market Research Details Latest Market Sizing, Recent Investments and Acquisitions; Selects Emerging Leaders for 2010
    January 19, 2010 (MarketWire)

    "Despite a recessionary economy and stalled environmental regulation, 2009 was a promising year for the emerging Enterprise Carbon Accounting (ECA) software market.
    According to
    [Enterprise Carbon Accounting; An Analysis of Corporate-Level Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emission Reporting and a Review of Emerging GHG Software Products, from Groom Energy] by Groom Energy Solutions, more than $46 million in venture capital was invested in ECA startup companies while software giants Computer Associates and Microsoft entered the market and EnerNOC, IHS and SAP made acquisitions. The research also confirmed the number of corporations now disclosing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) increased significantly in 2009 and predicts that ECA software purchases will increase 600 percent by 2011.

    "In ranked order, the three principal factors behind the momentum of the ECA market are…[1] Increased pressure from customers and investors for companies to create a 'greener' public image…[2] Cost and energy savings from sustainability investments…[3]. Mandates from buyers, like the Walmart Supplier Sustainability Assessment Program that was implemented to measure the environmental impact of supplier operations…"

    click to enlarge

    "…[This] is the third ECA report from Groom Energy. The first…was released in Jan. 2008, with an addendum in May of 2008, to provide a guide for organizations beginning to track and report their GHG emissions. It was obvious at the time that many companies had grown beyond traditional tracking means -- spreadsheets -- and 40 vendors were already present in the market. The 2010 report now identifies a total of 60 vendors and profiles 20 of them in four category types: environmental health and safety vendors (EHS), new products from large firms, startup companies, and energy management firms.

    "Eight companies were named 2010 ECA Emerging Leaders in the report…[based on] number of customer deployments, technology features, market vision and financial stability. The current leaders are: Enablon, Enviance, Hara, IHS, Johnson Controls, PE International, ProcessMAP and SAP…Enablon and Hara are newcomers to the list, while the others were named 2009 ECA Emerging Leaders."

    click thru for a library of material on emissions data tracking

    "Research Key findings…[1] Protecting and enhancing company image, rather than pending GHG regulation, is the top driver among purchasers…[2] Supply chain initiatives like the Walmart supplier assessment program will motivate purchases [in] 2010 and 2011…[3] Five acquisitions were completed and venture capital investment totaling more than $46M in startup companies took place in 2009…[4] Energy /bill payment vendors established a solid market presence…[5] Despite the early stage of the current ECA market, 60 vendors offer software products. Market consolidation is expected to occur in the next two years…[6] The number of organizations using ECA software is expected to increase five fold by 2011; investment will be made by companies that have not traditionally invested in environmental software…

    "The report is available for $495 per single user and $695 for a company license…Groom Energy provides consulting and installation of sustainable, renewable and energy efficiency systems for commercial, industrial and institutional customers…"

    Monday, January 18, 2010


    Wind energy's future still strong in Texas
    Editorial, January 17, 2010 (Dallas Morning News)

    "Two years ago, wind energy seemed to be gusting in the right direction, especially in Texas.

    "T. Boone Pickens had become the unlikely Pied Piper of wind power – a wealthy oilman… preaching the need for… wind energy. He backed up his words with a $2 billion order for 687 wind turbines…1,000 megawatts of capacity…But recently, Pickens sharply cut his order for the GE-built turbines…[and postponed his plans] to build the world's largest wind farm [in the Texas panhandle]."

    click to enlarge

    "Texas hasn't become less windy, nor has the legendary risk-taker gone weak in the knees. Our state produces more wind power than any other, but economic winds temporarily have blown cold air on this industry…Cheaper natural gas and difficulty securing loans for wind projects are part of the problem. And even if money were flowing, there aren't enough transmission lines to carry wind-generated electricity from remote sites such as the Panhandle to urban centers such as Dallas and Fort Worth.

    "Pickens maintains that once those transmission lines are in place, he will renew his efforts to build the world's largest wind farm. Meanwhile, Austin has approved a process to speed transmission-line construction…two designated zones in the Panhandle…[T]he process is slower…[but] neither Texas nor Pickens has turned away from wind energy."

    click to enlarge

    "Support for wind energy is crucial for [Texas] – and the entire nation – as we pursue long-term cleaner-energy alternatives…[N]ew wind energy projects…could help wean this nation from its dangerous dependence on foreign sources of energy and keep America competitive as the world shifts toward cleaner fuels.

    "China…is among the major players that are aggressively developing wind energy. For economic, environmental and national security reasons, the United States must not waver in its commitment to alternative energy sources…Texas is moving in the right direction on wind power and we hope will carry the nation with it."


    Thermal storage in the US: Soon to be a given; Unlike their Spanish counterparts, most CSP projects in the US to date have opted against thermal storage. But recent developments suggest the business case for thermal storage in the US may soon be indisputable.
    Emma Clarke, 18 December 2009 (CSP Today)

    "…The ability to store the sun’s energy means concentrating solar plants can generate power 24 hours a day or when demand for electricity is highest. Conversely, solar PV and wind farms [have to cope with intermittency]…

    "The benefits are clear. But the business case is not always as apparent given the high cost of thermal energy storage (TES) technologies. As a result, many of the CSP projects in the United States do not include TES. But this may change as the share of solar power in the grid increases and utilities demand a more stable, predictable power supply…Several existing large-scale storage systems already use molten salt, a mixture of sodium and potassium nitrate, to store solar energy…The first molten salt thermal storage system was installed in the Andasol 1 50MW parabolic trough plant in southern Spain, which came online at the end of 2008…Andasol 2 (in start-up phase) and Andasol 3 (currently in construction) also include thermal storage systems with 7.5 hours’ of thermal storage…"

    click to enlarge

    "The first commercial plant in the world with a central tower receiver using molten salt technology is the 17MW Gemasolar plant being developed by Torresol Energy. The storage will produce around 63 percent more hours of power than a conventional plant...Given the additional costs of the storage equipment (19 percent of the total project cost) and of building a larger solar field to accumulate the excess energy during the day (the solar field accounts for 43 percent of total costs), the cost-benefit is roughly even…In the US, Abengoa Solar plans to build Solana, a 280MW solar trough plant in Arizona with thermal storage using molten salts.

    "Developer, SolarReserve has also filed an application to build a 150MW solar power tower plant with seven hours’ of salt storage in California. The proposed Rice Solar Energy Project will use technology built by Rocketdyne that was tested at the 10MW Solar Two demonstration project near Barstow, California in the 1990s…In this two-tank system, molten salt is used for both thermal transfer and storage…"

    click to enlarge

    "Most of the projects operating in the United States, however, do not have thermal storage. This is because to date, the economics haven’t added up…[T]he cost of electricity is more expensive if storage is included…[T]he costs can range from an additional US$50 (€35; £31) to US$125 (€87; £77) per kW-hr…Given these costs, storage only becomes viable when there is time-of-day pricing (where a premium is paid for power during peak-demand periods), or where utilities provide capacity credits (additional payment for guaranteeing generation during certain times of the day)…[T]he widespread use of storage in Spain [may be] driven by artificial market factors…

    "The business case also depends on the quality of solar radiation and characteristics of electricity demand…[C]ompanies are building plants without storage in California because there is more reliable solar radiation than in Spain, and because utilities don’t need to stabilise power production 24-hours a day…But as the proportion of renewable energy in the grid increases…storage [will] become a critical factor…[and] a number of research projects are underway to reduce the costs…"


    Hoosiers Compete To Cut Kilowatts; Participants Vie For $10,000 Solar Energy System
    Maggie Loiselle, January 18, 2010 (CNN Indiana Channel 6)

    "…[S]ome Hoosiers are hoping to lose big…when it comes to their energy bills.

    "The Southern Indiana Renewable Energy Network, or SIREN [unable to link due to embedded malware], is challenging Monroe County residents to tighten their belts and see who can cut their kilowatts the most in 2010…30 households have signed up…[E]ach will track their month-to-month energy consumption, with prizes awarded at the end of each three-month period…The 10 families in the lead after the first nine months will compete for the grand prize -- a Grid-tied PV solar system worth about $10,000…"

    The ideal retrofit. (click to enlarge)

    "Will and Maggie Sullivan, of Bloomington, signed up for the challenge as part of an ongoing effort to live a greener life, a process they're detailing on their blog,…[They] have already taken care of the basics, like switching out incandescent light bulbs for energy-efficient compact fluorescents and winterizing their home. They also track the energy their appliances use, and recently installed a light tube to brighten up a dark kitchen without turning on the lights…

    "Southern Indiana is one of the more ideal places in the state for solar energy systems, receiving nearly five hours of direct sunlight everyday day…[Of SIREN’s] more than 100 members, about 10 to 20 have some type of solar energy system [solar hot water heaters, solar air heating systems, etc.] at their homes… [But] advocacy groups face an uphill battle in convincing consumers to make the switch due to the initial high cost of materials and installation, which can run in the tens of thousands of dollars…"

    Thses calculations are based on a proposed federal incentive for retrofitting. (click to enlarge)

    "Hoosiers not quite ready to take the leap to installing their own solar panels can often buy energy generated by renewable sources through their utility companies…Duke Energy's GoGreen Indiana program allows customers to buy green blocks of power each month, generated from local renewable sources, while the South Central Indiana REMC EnviroWatts Program uses biomass power from the gases produced by landfills.

    "Indiana Power and Light's Green Power program allows customers to choose a percentage of their monthly electric bill to be generated from renewable sources including wind, solar, geothermal and biomass…[A] typical residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours in a month and enrolled at the 100 percent level would pay an additional $4.20 on their electric bill…[But] Hoosiers should…reduce their consumption as well…[More on] incentives that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency…[at] the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency, or DSIRE."