NewEnergyNews More: April 2010

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  • Wednesday, April 28, 2010


    Cape Wind, first U.S. offshore wind farm, approved
    Ros Krasny (w/ Scott DiSavin, Scott Malone and Doina Chiacu), April 28, 2010 (Reuters)

    "The first U.S. offshore wind farm, a giant project 5 miles/8 km off the Massachusetts coast, was approved… after years of opposition…U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar gave the green light for the historic 130-turbine, 420-megawatt Cape Wind project in Horseshoe Shoal, Nantucket Sound, in what supporters considered a huge step forward for renewable energy in the United States…

    "Although small in terms of its production… its approval was encouraging to other offshore wind projects already proposed for the East Coast and Great Lakes…The turbines, more than 400 feet high, will dot an area of about 24 square miles (62 square km), larger than Manhattan, [supply enough electricity to power 400,000 houses] and be visible low on the horizon from parts of Cape Cod. The site is tucked between the mainland of the cape…the islands of Martha's Vineyard…and Nantucket."

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

    "German conglomerate Siemens AG will provide the turbines. Construction is expected to begin before the end of the year, said Jim Gordon, president of Cape Wind Associates. Power generation could begin by 2012.

    "The decision to approve Cape Wind, subject to certain conditions designed to protect offshore waters from damage and reduce visibility, is expected to face legal challenges, but Salazar said he was confident the approval would stand…Supporters say wind farms represent a giant push for renewable energy efforts and reducing dependence on foreign oil…Cape Wind was subject to years of environmental review and political maneuvering, including adamant opposition from the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy…[and] two Wampanoag Indian tribes complained that the giant turbines would disturb spiritual sun greetings and possibly ancestral artifacts and burial grounds on the seabed."

    Now all this is possible. (click to enlarge)

    "Opponents have deemed the project an eyesore, and raised issues ranging from a detrimental effect on property values in the popular vacation area south of Boston, to possible damage to birds, whales, fishing, aviation, and historic sites…U.S. Senator Scott Brown, the Republican elected this year to fill Kennedy's seat…said the project was a threat to regional tourism and fishing…The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation…[also recommended] the project be rejected.

    "The governors of six eastern U.S. states shot back in a letter to Salazar, arguing that other offshore projects will likely be abandoned if the Cape Wind project was rejected…Less than 2 percent of wind energy is offshore, but turbine makers see it as an area of huge growth potential…Siemens rival General Electric Co expects to increase its offshore business to generate $3 billion to $5 billion a year over the next few years…"


    …Actually, Wind Power has Reduced Denmark’s CO2 Emissions a Lot
    Matt Wasson, April 27, 2010 (Huffington Post)

    "…[C]limate change denier and long time fossil fuel cheerleader Robert Bryce…doesn't know much about renewable energy. Relying on bad science like the Nature Conservancy's "Energy Sprawl" study and thoroughly discredited white papers like "The Case of Denmark" from Bjorn Lomborg's Institute for Energy Studies, Bryce deftly turns common sense on its head to convince his readers that burning more fossil fuels is really the best path to a green energy future.

    "…Bryce begins his [Wasington Post] argument with what has become the new favorite talking point of renewable energy detractors and climate change deniers: "solar and wind technologies require huge amounts of land to deliver relatively small amounts of energy, disrupting natural habitats." …In the [Energy Sprawl] study, wind power was presumed to impact an area as much as 300-400 times greater than the actual footprint of the turbines on the land, while the impacts of coal power, for instance, were assumed to go no farther than the footprint of mine permits, leaving aside…habitat fragmentation and wildlife disturbance…the acreage consumed by actual coal-fired power plants, the infrastructure for processing coal and disposing of processing wastes, the rail and barge infrastructure for transporting coal to power plants, or the fills and impoundments used for disposing of coal combustion waste."

    click to enlarge

    "While it should strain the credulity of even the most entrenched climate change denier that a single wind turbine would impact more than 100 football fields worth of land, at least the "Energy Sprawl" study makes clear that only 2-5% of the area is cleared for access roads and a buffer around each turbine. Bryce makes it sound like they're referring to the actual footprint of the turbine, which is about 1/3rd of an acre for a 2MW turbine (or about 1/300th of the land impact estimate cited by Bryce). If a fair comparison were made, wind would produce 10 to 20 times as many watts per square meter as Bryce's hypothetical natural gas well.

    "But where Bryce really goes off the deep end is when he states: "Nor does wind energy substantially reduce CO2 emissions. Since the wind doesn't always blow, utilities must use gas or coal-fired generators to offset wind's unreliability. The result is minimal -- or no -- carbon dioxide reduction."

    "…[I]t's true that there is not necessarily a one-to-one relationship when it comes to displacement of coal or natural gas by wind. Because of its intermittency, wind requires a certain level of "firming" with conventional or other renewable technologies like biomass and hydro to ensure there is sufficient electricity supply when wind resources are low. That's an issue that could be intelligently discussed and built into energy plans were it not for people like Bryce that use it as an opportunity to confuse the public and mislead them into believing intermittency makes wind an unreliable source of power."

    U.S. CO2 will go down dramatically as its wind grows. (click to enlarge)

    "More apalling, however, is Bryce's extraordinary claim that wind power results in little or no CO2 reduction. As evidence, he cites the 2007 annual environmental report from, the largest operator of Denmark's electricity grids…[though Bryce] doesn't appear to have read it[:]…"CO2 emissions vary considerably from year to year, depending on electricity trading. Adjusting for imports and exports resulted in an overall emissions reduction of 23% in the 1990-2007 period. The primary reason is a conversion of Danish electricity and heat generation to less CO2 intensive fuels such as natural gas, coupled with increased use of renewable energy sources"

    "So what's the disconnect between Bryce's analysis and reality? As with many small European countries, Denmark's electric grid is integrated into larger grids of neighboring countries…What Bryce has done is compare 1990, a year when Denmark imported a huge proportion of its electricity from other Scandanavian countries, with 2007, a year it was a net exporter of electricity…[The analysis] is based on the bizarre assumption that wind-generated electricity exported to Germany simply disappears from the grid, rather than viewing Denmarks's energy production in the context of a multi-nation integrated grid."

    Denmark's CO2 has gone down and will continue going down as it builds more wind. (click to enlarge)

    "But the point where Bryce's analysis goes from misleading (or ignorant) to downright dishonest is when he attributes Denmark's success in controlling CO2 emissions to a low population growth rate, while touting the United States' success in decreasing per capita emissions by 2.5% between 1980 and 2006. Keeping with the 1990-2008 time frame from the most recent report, the US has done somewhat better than that, decreasing per-capita CO2 emissions by about 4.5%. But over that same time period, the Danes have decreased their per capita CO2 emissions by 21%.

    "A final piece of distorted analysis provided by Bryce is when he states: '... Through 2017, the Danes foresee no decrease in carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation.'"

    Denmark's SO2 has gone down, too. (click to enlarge)

    "On the surface, that is true, the Danes project no decrease in carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation over the next decade, but that is because they plan to replace inefficient old oil heaters with heat pumps and transition to far more efficient electric vehicles. The net effect will be an enormous decrease in overall CO2 emissions over that time period. The remarkable thing is that the projected 1.2% annual increases in electricity demand resulting mostly from transitioning to more efficient electric vehicles (10% by 2020) and heat pumps will be met entirely with renewable energy sources, primarily wind. In fact, increasing wind generation up to 20% of their electricity generation has been such a success that the Danes plan to expand their wind generation up to 36% of their electricity mix by 2020.

    "On a final note, Bryce ignored the many other environmental benefits Denmark has enjoyed from its rapid transition to renewable energy sources. For instance, sulfur dioxide emissions, which decreased in the US by about 50% between 1990 and 2008, were reduced by 94% in Denmark over the same period…[S]ulfur dioxide emissions are the primary cause of acid rain which, back in the early 90s, was found to be responsible for massive reproductive failure in some species of birds nesting in Northern European forests. The benefits of these reductions for bird populations absolutely dwarfs the impacts of the small number of birds killed by wind turbines…"


    Oil spill burned in Gulf of Mexico, in hope of saving coast
    Steven Mufson, April 29, 2010 (Washington Post)

    Rear Adm. Mary Landry, U.S. Coast Guard: "It's premature to say this is catastrophic…I will say that this is very serious."

    "The Coast Guard and BP set fire to a portion of the crude oil floating in the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday in a bid to limit the impact of a widening slick, which federal officials said could touch shore in parts of the Louisiana delta as early as Friday evening.

    "With BP unable to stop the flow of oil from a deepwater exploration well that blew up last week, attention was turning to the gulf's coastlines, where the spill could threaten wildlife, tourism and the livelihoods of fishermen…[BP] corralled the thickest areas of the oil slick inside fireproof booms, lighted it and burned it…[which] could limit damage to coastal areas…[A] burn off U.S. shores and the prospect of oil landing on the gulf coastline could become powerful symbols of the perils of offshore drilling…"

    click to enlarge

    "The crisis in the gulf is likely to get worse before it gets better. It began April 20, when an oil and gas discovery blew upward, setting the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig on fire. The rig, owned by Transocean and leased to BP, later sank, and 11 of its workers are missing and presumed dead…[O]il could be pouring out of the ground at a rate of up to 5,000 barrels per day…At that rate, this spill may already have surpassed the size of the 1969 Santa Barbara spill that helped lead to the far-reaching moratorium on oil and gas drilling off the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, a ban that Obama recently said he wants to modify…

    "BP said Wednesday that it has continued to try, in vain, to use submarine robotic vehicles to activate a malfunctioning blowout-preventer at the site of the well…[F]ederal inquiries into the cause of the accident [will] have to focus on Transocean's preventer…the "failsafe mechanism of the industry"…

    "…[BP is] fabricating a 100-ton steel dome the company hopes to lower over the oil leak…but it would take two to four weeks to put it in place, if that can be done at all. The dome would funnel oil, natural gas and seawater into a pipe leading to a floating processing and storage facility. The technique has been used in shallow waters around 350 feet deep…but the current spill is leaking from pipes lying 5,000 feet deep…BP will [also] begin drilling a new well to intercept the leaking one…[but] it will take weeks…"

    click to enlarge

    "With that timetable looming, attention was turning to coastlines…Government agencies and BP have set up 100,000 feet of booms to protect sensitive coastal areas. BP has also hired a firm that specializes in rescuing birds…[A] forecast for the spill showed it touching land for the first time this weekend…BP and the Coast Guard are also using chemicals to disperse the oil, which for the most part is spread in a thin sheen…more than 150 miles long and about 30 miles wide.

    "A BP official said controlled burns can get rid of 50 to 99 percent of oil within a limited area, but Robert Bea, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of California at Berkeley who worked on controlling the damage of the Santa Barbara spill, warned that in open seas, companies have generally captured less than 10 percent of oil spilled."


    Schlumberger's Geothermal Signpost
    Dave Forest, April 28, 2010 (Pierce Points Daily Newsletter via Before It’s News)

    "…[Signpost events] are happenings, often small in and of themselves, which suggest a larger change rippling through the ether of a business, industry or nation.

    "There have been a number of signpost events in the geothermal sector recently…[like] the emerging trend of advanced-stage geothermal projects being bought by major players in the sector such as Ormat."

    click to enlarge

    "Yesterday… came another…[with] oil-field services major Schlumberger buying out California-based GeothermEx… one of the top groups in the geothermal space doing project feasibility assessments. They have written reports on most of the major geothermal projects in the U.S. and abroad. The group will now become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Schlumberger."

    click to enlarge

    "The acquisition is an aggressive move by Schlumberger into the geothermal space. The company sees something they like…and they want to be a big part of it.

    "This is just one more indication that the geothermal business is 'ready for prime time'. Profitability in the sector is increasing, in large part due to recent tax incentives introduced by the U.S. government…Increased profitability always drives an industry forward…[T]he drive is definitely on for geothermal…"

    Tuesday, April 27, 2010


    Do the Rules of the Nation's Electric Grid Discriminate Against Wind Power?
    Peter Behr, April 27, 2010 (NY Times)

    "…[C]hanges in the way the grid works -- if they occur – hinge…on what happens at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, where a set of central policy issues are on the table…[FERC is investigating ] whether the grid's current operating rules discriminate unduly against wind power, and if so, what should be done about it. The inquiry focuses on possible rule changes in how wind power forecasts are handled, how backup generation for wind is priced, and whether wind generation should be coordinated more widely across grid regions to dampen the impact of sudden wind shifts…[C]omments fill 2,800 pages, and the commission has set no timetable for taking action…

    "…FERC [and] Chairman Jon Wellinghoff…[see] plenty of reason for concern about the prospects for wind and solar power based on the way the grid is run today…[This is] another front in the continuing, behind-the-scenes struggle between the renewable power sector and some of the electricity industry's old guard, whose historic ways of doing business are now under challenge…[T]here are fundamental disputes within the power industry over how the grid should be planned, who should pay to expand it, and how wind and solar power's climate benefits should figure in future transmission projects' costs. What FERC's staff will propose, and what its commissioners will ultimately do, on this proceeding remains unclear."

    click to enlarge

    "The wind industry has seized on FERC's invitation in the wind inquiry to level charges of discrimination against competitors and grid operators…[T]he continued growth of wind energy is threatened on many fronts -- by low natural gas prices, a patchwork of uncertain government policies, and industry bias and favoritism against wind resources…Wind power's obvious liability is its fickle nature, which requires grid operators to keep other generation reserves operating on standby. That comes at a cost…When wind ramps steeply down after a front passes, the drop is often relatively gradual and could be dealt with by calling on backup generation that can respond in 10 to 30 minutes…This is the cheapest source of standby power…Typically, however, dispatchers make up for a drop in wind power by calling on "regulation" generation reserves that can respond in minutes -- a far more expensive option…It is unfair to saddle wind generators with those higher costs…

    "…Most wind generators don't offer to supply power for the following day -- the "day ahead" market featured in many competitive wholesale markets. The reason is the risk of financial penalties if they can't deliver on scheduled deliveries because the wind dies…These rules were created to accommodate coal and gas generators…More subtle discrimination involves policy-setting industry committees…More than 600 such stakeholder meetings were held in one recent year, and smaller wind generators can't afford the time or cost of attending and voting…"

    click to enlarge

    "…FERC asked whether it should require regions of the grid that schedule an hour or more in advance to move to shorter, inter-hour scheduling, since the shorter the lead time, the easier it is to forecast wind speed -- lessening the risk of penalties…Wind generators' output can vary by large amounts over an hour, but can be relatively constant when looking five or 10 minutes ahead…[S]tudies show that backup costs for wind could be cut by 80 percent by shortening hourly scheduling intervals…

    "…Wind generators and their rivals also fell out on another question FERC posed -- whether it would help expand wind generation if scores of small grid dispatch regions or "balancing areas" in the southeastern and central United States were combined into a few large regional ones…To avoid blackouts, engineers running the grid must always keep power supply matched to demand…The larger the area where dispatchers can match generation with demand, the easier it is to deal with variable wind power: If the wind is still in one area, it's apt to be blowing in another in the same region…The National Renewable Energy Laboratory reported this year that the Eastern grid interconnection could rely on wind for 20 to 30 percent of its electricity supply by 2024 with a large-scale expansion of transmission…[T]he current grid operating structure, decades in the making, is embedded with rules and practices that affect reliability, planning and markets. Changing the system won't happen quickly, or without a fight…"


    Georgia Power's Green Energy Program Redesigned to Include More Solar Power
    April 27, 2010 (PR Newswire)

    "Georgia Power received approval…from the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) to modify its Green Energy program, giving customers more solar options [effective June 1].

    "At the request of PSC Commission Chair Lauren "Bubba" McDonald, the program has been redesigned to include…Premium Green Energy…[an option with] 50 percent solar energy at a cost of $5 per 100-kilowatt-hour (kWh) block. The option previously cost $4.50 per 100 kWh block and contained 10 percent solar energy…[T]he Standard Green Energy, Large Volume Purchase and Special Events Purchase options remain unchanged."

    click to enlarge

    …[T]he PSC also approved Georgia Power raising the solar capacity cap under its Renewable Non Renewable (RNR) tariff from 1.5 megawatts (MW) to 2.5 MW. The company will now purchase solar energy from customers through this tariff at a new price of 17 cents per kWh."

    click to enlarge

    "Georgia Power and the Commission worked together to develop a new mechanism that will automatically raise the solar capacity cap as participation in the Green Energy program grows. Under this mechanism, for every 219 blocks of Premium Green Energy that are purchased by customers, Georgia Power will purchase an additional 100 kW of solar energy through the RNR tariff…

    "Electricity generated for the Green Energy program helps grow the renewable resource base in Georgia and the Southeast and expand the market for renewable energy credits (RECs). RECs are created when a renewable energy facility generates electricity or uses renewable fuel. Customers who purchase RECs through the Green Energy program are paying for the benefit of displacing other non-renewable sources from the electric grid…"


    Sacramento Municipal Utility District to Buy Geothermal-sourced Clean Power from Vulcan Power Company
    27 April 2010 (Business Wire via EarthTimes)

    "The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (“SMUD”) has signed a 21-year contract with Patua Project, LLC, a subsidiary of Vulcan Power Company (“Vulcan”), a developer of geothermal energy projects, for the purchase of up to 132 megawatts (MW) of baseload renewable energy from the Patua geothermal plant to be constructed in northern Nevada…

    "Vulcan’s Patua geothermal energy project site, located near Fernley, Nevada, will be built in three phases and is expected to be the company’s first geothermal power plant. Phase I drilling recommenced in February 2010 and construction of a 60-MW power plant is projected to begin in January 2011. The project will produce electricity around the clock with power deliveries projected to occur as early as the first quarter of 2012, continuing through 2033…"

    click to enlarge

    "The project initially will provide 500 gigawatt hours (GWh) per year, eventually ramping up to 1,000 GWh per year. These gigawatt hours will count towards SMUD’s aggressive goal of 33 percent renewable energy by 2020. Last year, renewable energy accounted for approximately 19 percent of SMUD’s power supply and will reach 20 percent by the end of 2010…

    "Geothermal energy is a renewable power source by which naturally occurring hot water reservoirs are drilled, producing geothermal fluids that can be used as a clean alternative to fossil fuels burned to generate electricity. Geothermal reservoirs are replenished by injecting the produced water back into the reservoir, establishing a long-term renewable energy resource without any emissions of greenhouse gases."


    Demand Response; Commercial, Industrial, and Residential Applications for Peak Demand Load Management
    Jevan Fox and Clint Wheelock, 2Q 2010 (Pike Research)

    "The Demand Response (DR) sector is growing quickly and will experience major changes over the next few years…The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is working to determine industry standards, and the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA 2007) requires both FERC and NIST to have the roadmap for demand response to be defined by June 2010.

    "DR reduces the need for energy from expensive peak resources…[A]t its core, DR is a function of peak demand: as peak demand increases, the need for DR increases. There are significant environmental and social benefits from reducing energy demand, yet DR’s primary goal is to decrease capital expenditures (capex) on both sides of the meter. DR cuts costs for utilities so that they will not have to build a coal-fired peaking plant for $2,500 per kWh with a 30-year return-on-investment (ROI)…[T]he utility can implement DR at a fraction of the cost. The rising costs and longer lead times in building additional sources of traditional generation are a key driver for DR…[E]nd-users can curtail energy use, thus saving capital…"

    click to enlarge

    "Demand response is inherently an energy efficiency application. It strives to shed, curtail, or eliminate energy usage through technologies, solutions, and programs that manage customer demand for electricity in response to price signals, incentives, and directions from grid operators…The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) segments DR into two motivating programs…Price-based DR such as real-time pricing (RTP), critical-peak pricing (CPP), and time-of use (TOU) tariffs…[an] Incentive-based DR programs are triggered by a grid reliability problem or high electricity prices…

    "There are a number of significant DR market growth drivers, the most significant of which is the growing demand for electricity amidst increasing energy costs, especially during periods of peak demand…[S]mart grid technologies, mainly smart meters, are a major driver for DR and will be a catalyst for DR programs…[but] Pike Research does not believe the residential market will gain significant traction in the near term…"

    click to enlarge

    "The [commercial and industrial (C&I)] sectors are the low hanging fruit of the industry. Our analysis indicates that DR vendors with deep vertical integration will continue to secure an increasing amount of megawatts (MW) under contract…Pure-play DR companies, or Curtailment Service Providers (CSPs), are presently in a good position…[and] legislation will boost revenues for CSPs with commercial and industrial solutions, as the drive to make U.S. commercial buildings more energy efficient…

    "Pike Research believes that DR will become an application within a company’s energy efficiency (EE) suite…Energy Service Companies (ESCOs) will be increasingly attracted to DR because it is an energy efficiency measure they can provide in their turnkey building efficiency plan…At its essence, demand response represents a convergence of information technology (IT) with energy management…Pike Research believes that telecommunications and networking companies will increasingly strive to have a play in the energy efficiency industry…DR revenues will grow to almost $3 billion in 2015 in our “average” scenario…"

    Monday, April 26, 2010


    Halting Oil Flow Likely to Take Months
    Russell Gold and Guy Chazan (w/Angel Gonzalez and Jeffrey Ball), April 27, 2010 (Wall Street Journal)

    "Capping the leaking oil well a mile below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico is increasingly likely to take months, government and industry officials warned…[A]bout 1,000 barrels of oil a day are still flowing into the Gulf, feeding a slick that has spread across hundreds of miles. Clean-up efforts gained momentum as calmer seas made work easier for 17 ships, some equipped with booms to corral the oil so it can be skimmed up.

    "Federal officials said they didn't know when the slick, which was about 30 miles off Venice, La., was likely to reach the coast but didn't expect landfall in the next three days…[E]quipment was in place to protect coastlines."

    Environmentally safe - untill it isn't. (click to enlarge)

    "…[R]emote-controlled submarines had failed as of Monday afternoon to activate equipment on the ocean floor that is meant to shut off flow from the well… BP PLC…is continuing with back-up plans, bringing in two drilling vessels that might be able to stem the flow by injecting special heavy liquids into the well…[This] would take two to three months.

    "Vast swaths of reddish brown were visible Monday afternoon from a Coast Guard helicopter hovering 400 feet above the drilling site, where the small armada of ships hired by BP worked to collect the oil. A few miles away, a C-130 airplane released chemicals to disperse the long column of oil. A lighter sheen seemed to stretch to the horizon."

    Drifting toward shore. (click to enlarge)

    "Wildlife is already starting to be affected…Among the threatened sea life are whales, sea turtles, and the larvae of fish and shellfish that compose an economically important industry along the Gulf…Investors are growing worried about the rising costs associated with shutting off the well and cleaning up the spill. BP's American depositary shares fell 3.3%…

    "The drama in the Gulf began April 20…[Oil] pushed its way up the well and caught fire. The crew of 126 had to evacuate the rig; 11 are missing and presumed dead…The rig sank 36 hours later, severely bending the pipe that connected it with equipment on the seafloor…Shutting the well down will probably be a slow process…[L]ast year, it took 10 weeks and four attempts to shut down a similarly out-of-control well in the Timor Sea off Australia…BP is also looking into lowering a dome over the leak…[Engineers are] studying how to use a dome in 5,000 feet of water."


    Reaping Power From Ocean Breezes
    Tom Zeller Jr., April 26, 2010 (NY Times)

    "More than 800 giant wind turbines spin off the coasts of Denmark, Britain and seven other European countries, generating enough electricity from strong ocean breezes to power hundreds of thousands of homes. China’s first offshore wind farm, a 102-megawatt venture near Shanghai, goes online this month, with more in the pipeline.

    "But despite a decade of efforts, not a single offshore turbine has been built in the United States…[P]rogress has been slowed by a variety of factors, including poor economics, an uncertain regulatory framework and local opposition…When the Obama administration announces a decision this week on the most prominent project — Cape Wind, off the coast of Massachusetts — it could have implications from Long Island to Lake Erie…[Rejection] could gut America’s [incipient] offshore wind industry…"

    click to enlarge

    "At least half a dozen offshore wind projects that could provide electricity for hundreds of thousands of customers have already been proposed in the shallow waters off the East Coast and the Great Lakes. Even more are in the paper-napkin stage, including a project that would place a bank of turbines about 13 miles off the Rockaway peninsula in New York.

    "…[O]ffshore wind farms are roughly twice as expensive as land-based ones…[but] have several advantages. Sea and lake breezes are typically stronger, steadier and more reliable than wind on land. Offshore turbines can also be located close to the power-hungry populations along the coasts, eliminating the need for new overland transmission lines. And if the turbines are built far enough from shore, they do not significantly alter the view — a major objection from many local opponents."

    click to enlarge

    "The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has estimated that about 90,000 megawatts of electricity could be extracted from offshore winds in United States coastal waters less than 100 feet deep, the easiest and most cost-effective depths. Most of that potential lies in New England, the mid-Atlantic and the Great Lakes…[Planned projects] would produce some 2,500 megawatts…about as much as two midsize nuclear power plants…The Cape Wind project would place 130 turbines, each 440 feet tall, over 24 square miles of Nantucket Sound at a likely cost of more than $1 billion…

    "…[P]roponents of the project, which include major environmental organizations like the Sierra Club and Greenpeace, point to a February study…suggesting that the project could save New England ratepayers $4.6 billion in energy costs over 25 years. They also say that the project has undergone two separate environmental impact analyses, neither of which found significant downsides…The governors of six East Coast states…called on Mr. Salazar to approve the project…Despite the upfront costs, proponents say offshore wind power is worth it if it can reduce the reliance on carbon-intensive sources of electricity like coal…"


    Marine Power: Once Cast Away, Now Here to Stay
    James Tulloch, April 26, 2010 (Allianz)

    [Stephen Salter, 1970s marine energy research pioneer, Institute for Energy Systems/Edinburgh University:] “…Lots of people had thought about wave energy before but had not actually measured the energy in waves. I started working on this at Edinburgh University about two weeks before the Yom Kippur War in 1973—the trigger for the first major oil crisis…We had proper UK government backing from 1974 to 1982."

    [Stephen Salter, 1970s marine energy research pioneer, Institute for Energy Systems/Edinburgh University:] “…The average 3-meter high Atlantic wave…[has] enough electricity for 180 UK residents. Four hundred kilometers of the Scottish Atlantic sea front could contribute 20 to 40 Gigawatts…A 1981 Department of Energy report said it would cost five pence (7-8 cents) per kilowatt hour, very close to economic viability…[but the UK government] wanted nuclear power…The official who did most damage to us was then put in charge of public relations for the Dounreay nuclear reactor…"

    click to enlarge

    [Stephen Salter, 1970s marine energy research pioneer, Institute for Energy Systems/Edinburgh University:] "Slowly and painfully marine energy is making progress. It is certainly one of the harder renewables to get going because you have to get quite big to make it attractive economically…There is a long way to go before it gets to the stage of the wind industry. But one advantage is that people don’t care as much about what you do at sea as they do about having their views spoiled…"

    [Stephen Salter, 1970s marine energy research pioneer, Institute for Energy Systems/Edinburgh University:] “…Tidal is very predictable and so it is more market friendly than other renewables…In winter, when there are strong westerly winds, you can convert wave power into electricity steadily for several weeks. If you have got good knowledge of the wind conditions then you can make good wave energy forecasts. That means you can manage the dispatch of energy and bid in the power markets.”

    click to enlarge

    [Stephen Salter, 1970s marine energy research pioneer, Institute for Energy Systems/Edinburgh University:] “…In Scotland, there are serious practical problems feeding large amounts of power from the coast to population centers because the national grid is designed the other way around. We need a major rethink of the grid…”

    [Stephen Salter, 1970s marine energy research pioneer, Institute for Energy Systems/Edinburgh University:] “One issue for wave power devices is heavy storms. It’s better to dodge these forces—like an agile boxer—than stand and fight them so we need flexible machine parts and controls. We don’t always understand how strong the seabed rock is. We need to know that to design seabed attachments to withstand storms…We also need much better ways of deploying these devices. Our installation is very cumbersome and expensive.”


    New Jersey cuts red tape to boost solar efforts
    James Cartledge, April 26, 2010 (Brighter Energy)

    "New Jersey has scrapped rules that limit the development of solar panels in the state based on their definition as ‘impervious surfaces’…[A new law] amends restrictions on the amount of land on which impervious surfaces can be built.

    "The new measure amends the definition of ‘impervious surface’ in land use and coast development laws so that it applies only to the base of a solar panel system, rather than the entire panel as well…The bill, S-921, had bi-partisan backing and sponsorship, and received unanimous support in the New Jersey Legislature…"

    New Jersey - second in the U.S. in installed solar capacity - has, like Germany, built its success on smart policies that drive growth. (click to enlarge)

    [New Jersey Governor Chris Christie:] “There is a balance to be struck between responsible land-use law and well-intended but burdensome restrictions that do more harm than good…This legislation removes the regulatory burden, serves our environment by expanding renewable energy assets and serves the economy by creating demand for solar panel production.”

    "The bill signed last week eliminates a “significant impediment” to green energy projects…[and recognizes] that solar energy developments [are] an “important land use”…Governor Christie [also] unveiled a plan to encourage growth in New Jersey’s renewable energy industry."

    One of New Jersey's key policies is a Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) with a solar carve out. (click to enlarge)

    "The Energy Master Plan includes an energy efficiency program to cut the cost of energy in the state and moves to promote domestic generation of renewable energy including solar, wind and “particularly” offshore wind projects in the state as well as energy storage projects.

    "Governor Christie also said more would be done to promote New Jersey as a site for renewable energy manufacturing companies…"

    Sunday, April 25, 2010


    Derivatives bill calls for US carbon market study; Agency heads would send report to Congress
    Timothy Gardner and Roberta Rampton (w/Marguerita Choy), April 22, 2010 (Reuters)

    "A tough new proposal to regulate U.S. markets calls for top regulators and government officials to conduct a study on transparency in emerging U.S. carbon markets as part of the financial reform package.

    "The heads of the Treasury Department, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and other U.S. agencies would be required to study oversight of existing and prospective carbon markets, according to the proposal, part of a bill passed by the Senate Agriculture Committee…"

    click to enlarge

    "The goal of the study is ‘to ensure an efficient, secure, and transparent carbon market, including oversight of spot markets and derivative markets,’ the bill said…It will be merged with the Senate Banking Committee's financial reform package, expected to be debated [this] week, which will likely include a crackdown on the unregulated $450 trillion derivatives market.

    "Emerging carbon markets are either voluntary or regional because the U.S. government does not limit emissions of gases blamed for warming the planet, considered a requirement before the launch of a national market…Ten states in the U.S. Northeast operate a carbon market on power plants. In addition, the Chicago Climate Exchange also runs voluntary carbon markets…[C]ritics of carbon markets say that not all of the credits that are traded in them represent true emissions reductions…"

    click to enlarge

    "Other agency officials required to participate in the study would be the heads of the Agriculture Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Energy Information Administration, the independent statistics arm of the Department of Energy.

    "The interagency group would be required to submit a report to Congress on their study within six months…"


    Wind energy plant to bring 215 jobs; Gainesville factory to build gearboxes for turbine systems
    David Markiewicz, April 24, 2010 (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

    "A German company plans to build a wind energy plant and bring 215 new jobs to Gainesville.

    "ZF Group, an automotive industry supplier…will make wind turbine gearboxes for systems that convert wind energy into electricity. The company will invest $90 million in the project."

    Add one for Florida (click to enlarge)

    "It was the third job-creation announcement in three days…Arkansas frozen baked goods maker De Wafelbakkers… will take over an abandoned bakery in Henry County and hire 242 workers…General Electric will create 400 new jobs in Cobb County when it opens its futuristic Smart Grid Center of Excellence…That’s 857 jobs in three days.

    "…[T]he wind energy plant…will be built in the Gainesville Business Park, near an existing ZF facility that makes axle drives and transmissions for passenger vehicles and heavy construction equipment…"

    Tens of thousands of plants like this one will come as wind moves toward its goal of providing 20% of U.S. power by 2030. (click to enlarge)

    "Construction is scheduled to begin immediately, with the plant to open in February 2011. Production is set to start January 2012…The company will receive economic incentives for the project including tax credits, as well as free, customized employee training assistance from the Quick Start program…"

    [Elizabeth Umberson, executive, ZF:] “There is a heightened global focus on renewable energy production, and we believe there is an opportunity to leverage our automotive driveline and chassis technology leadership in this exciting and growing alternative energy sector…”


    La. utility experimenting with solar energy
    April 25, 2010 (AP via WXVT-CBS)

    "A utility that serves about 276,000 customers in 23 Louisiana parishes is experimenting with solar power.

    "Cleco Corp. has installed solar panels on the roof of its headquarters in Pineville to collect data on whether it works well in the state, what it would cost and whether the cost would be worth it."

    click to enlarge

    "…[T]hree kinds of stationary solar panels and one panel that rotates to track the sun were installed…

    "Cleco will track the amount of energy produced, how much local weather affects solar power production, which cells work best and how much is added by tracking the sun with the rotating panel…[P]ower from the panels will be put into the grid..."


    Better Place in China deal
    John Reed, April 25, 2010 (UK Financial Times)

    "Better Place, the electric car infrastructure company, has announced its first deal with a carmaker in China, potentially the biggest future market for battery-powered cars…[It] signed a memorandum of understanding…with Chery Automobile, China’s biggest independent carmaker, to develop prototypes for electric vehicles to be used in regional state-sponsored pilot projects.

    "The cars will have switchable batteries that can be removed and replaced with recharged ones at swap stations of the type Better Place is building in countries including Israel and Denmark."

    From btrplc via YouTube

    "Better Place believes that electric vehicles will be accepted on the mass market only if its batteries can be decoupled, making the cars cheaper and easier to drive on long trips...Chery displayed an electric version of its Riich G-5 sedan incorporating a switchable battery at…[the] Beijing auto show.

    "The deal makes the Chinese company the second carmaker after France’s Renault to sign up to the US company’s unorthodox business model, which many rival carmakers doubt will be widely adopted…"

    click to enlarge

    "…[Better place is beginning] a “proof” project showcasing the technology in Japan…[F]our Tokyo taxis [will] travel for 100 days, stopping only three times a day to have their batteries swapped

    "In January, Better Place raised $350m in one of the biggest venture capital financings ever for a 'clean tech' company…"

    Wednesday, April 21, 2010


    International Energy Agency: Triggering the CSP revolution
    Rikki Stancich, 16 April 2010 (CSP Today)

    "…[I]n 2008, the International Energy Agency identified 17 key technologies that could be deployed for climate change mitigation, which it hoped would trigger a sea change in the global energy mix by 2050…The G8 leaders subsequently tasked the IEA with researching and compiling a collection of ‘road maps’ outlining key technologies and the policy recommendations for achieving emissions reductions by transitioning to an alternative energy mix…So far, four of the 17 roadmaps have been published for the CCS, wind energy, electric vehicles and cement sectors, with solar PV and CSP roadmaps to be published imminently…"

    [Cédric Philibert, senior analyst, IEA’s Renewable Energy Division:] "We have demonstrated that CSP can provide 11 percent of global electricity by 2050 – of which 9.5 percent will be purely derived from solar and the rest from biogas or natural gas burnt as a back-up or in hybrid plants. CSP could also provide solar fuels substituting to a few percent of the global consumption of natural gas and liquid fuels for transport…We also looked at the possibility of non-concentrating solar power technology…which can be used in global irradiation but which do not require perfect direct normal irradiance…"

    click to enlarge

    [Cédric Philibert, senior analyst, IEA’s Renewable Energy Division:] "The CSP roadmap examines the four families of technologies – troughs, dishes, Fresnel and towers, and the options of storage systems, thermal fluids, power cycles available now and in the future…[W]e see a future for all the technologies…[S]ome options will be better for certain market segments…In this decade, the bulk of the market will be on peak and shoulder loads…[T]hermal storage or backup fuel from 2-4 hours are needed…Over the longer-term, we will need to extend the storage capacity in order to provide base load…during spring, summer and fall…Currently, the cost difference and the need for incentives for CSP are smaller on peak and intermediate loads, but once investment costs are down, CO2 is priced and storage becomes more stable, CSP will be able to compete with coal as a baseload energy…"

    [Cédric Philibert, senior analyst, IEA’s Renewable Energy Division:] "Mass production, economies of scale and learning process will drive costs down…The optimal size of a solar field is between 100-350MW and several parks are being erected in proximity of one another to reduce plant costs…[A] 500MW CSP park is planned [for Morocco]…In other places, it is easier to start with relatively smaller plants – the permitting is easier, the height of the tower is lower and it is generally easier to get smaller plants connected to the existing grid…We are going to see both large scale and smaller scale CSP plants, and…increasing [CSP] market share…After 2020, the CSP markets could be operating without support mechanisms in most places…[I]n regions with low [Direct Normal Irradiance, DNI], it will take more time…"

    click to enlarge

    [Cédric Philibert, senior analyst, IEA’s Renewable Energy Division:] "The technological potential is unlimited. Technically, we can provide 100 percent of the electricity requirement, but this would require massive transport…A portfolio approach is definitely needed…[The] ultimate share of CSP technology to 35 to 40 percent in the sunniest regions, including southwest USA, Mexico, Latin America, North of Chile, Peru, North Africa, Australia, the Middle East, Central Asia, the Gujarat and Rajasthan provinces in India, Australia, South Africa…Much less in other places, such as the rest of the USA, Europe, and other areas of Latin America…We have been more cautious for China, there is not a good knowledge of the DNI…In some other countries, the prospect are rather bleak…"

    [Cédric Philibert, senior analyst, IEA’s Renewable Energy Division:] "Support needs to be developed for public and private R&D. CSP R&D is very small compared to other energies such as CCS, nuclear, even other renewables…We need to develop research on all aspects of the life cycle as well as the manufacturing of fuels such as hydrogen and liquid fuels…[ R&D] is absolutely underfunded…We need to establish a set of incentives in each and every region where it possible to develop CSP…Incentives should be given to each solar kilowatt hour and to promote hybrid plants of every kind. There should not be any limit on the share of fossil fuel back-up, because as long as solar (CSP) is being brought into the mix, it is pushing the energy industry in the right direction…The support policy needs to reward the solar part, but leave the market decide which energy mix best meets the requirements of the utilities."


    Fears of Radar Interference Threaten Oregon Wind Farm, but Solutions Exist; Software and Hardware Upgrades Can Eliminate the Problems
    Dave Levitan, April 19, 2010 (SolveClimate)

    "…In a rehashing of a continuing concern, the Pentagon and the Federal Aviation Administration are threatening to block the construction of what would be the country’s largest wind farm because of a potential for the turbines to interfere with nearby radar systems’ ability to track airplanes.

    "Caithness Energy is ready to start construction on the Shepherds Flat wind farm along the Columbia River Gorge in northeastern Oregon; it would have a capacity of up 909 megawatts. In spite of the project having been in development for several years, objections have been raised only now regarding a radar system used by the Air Force in Fossil, Ore., about 70 miles from the wind farm site…"

    click to enlarge

    "…Radar systems are designed to distinguish between things that move and things that don’t…[An] airplane might disappear in the “clutter” created by the turbines’ radar signature…The conflict between wind turbines and radar is not a new one. The Sierra Club filed a lawsuit in 2006 arguing that the holds on wind farms due to military radar concerns were in effect halting the entire industry…American Wind Energy Association data [indicates] that more than 9,000 MW of wind power have been held up, deferred or abandoned due to radar issues…[W]ind turbines can in fact interfere with radar’s ability to see planes…[But there is a question of] whether small gaps in a radar’s vision are really all that important…[and if] the military needs no gaps at all in its radar systems, solutions to the problem are plentiful.

    "First, newer radar systems, such as the Lockheed Martin TPS-77 recently purchased by the wind-friendly British government, have the ability to see through the turbine clutter…[M]uch cheaper fixes also are available…There are software upgrades using what are known as clutter erasure algorithms that could help the older systems see through the turbines…Also, short range radar systems placed inside or directly adjacent to the wind farm could work in tandem with the long range system and fill in the gaps…"

    click to enlarge

    "The Shepherds Flat wind farm is the only one in the windy Columbia River Gorge area that has been asked to halt construction as of yet, but other developers are worried…[T]hree {Iberdrola] projects totaling 400 MW in the eastern Columbia River Gorge…are currently awaiting final approval from the FAA…[I]n the past when radar concerns have been raised in other areas of the country, [Iberdrola] has received some help from members of Congress who were hopeful that the wind projects could bring jobs to the area…

    "…In the case of the Shepherd’s Flat project by Caithness Energy…Oregon’s two senators, Democrats Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, placed holds on three defense department nominees as a negotiating tactic for speeding the resolution of the radar concerns. Caithness has said that any significant delay would scuttle the project completely, as federal stimulus funds will only go to the project if it is completed by the end of 2012…[but] it is unlikely that this issue will go away any time soon."


    Cash for appliances program starts Thursday; The government is offering rebates on energy-saving appliances: $200 for refrigerators, $100 for clothes washers and $50 for air conditioners. Some stores will open early Thursday.
    Tiffany Hsu, April 21, 2010 (LA Times)

    "…Last summer's federal [cash-for-clunkers ] program fueled vehicle sales and jump-started the sputtering auto industry by enticing customers to trade in their gas guzzlers. Now retailers are hoping for a similar boost from another government program…Starting Thursday, which happens to be Earth Day, consumers will be able to vie for rebates on Energy Star-rated [energy-efficient] appliances: $200 for refrigerators, $100 for clothes washers and $50 for air conditioners. The program applies only to those appliances.

    "Coupled with tax credits, buyback recycling programs and other incentives offered by stores, utilities and manufacturers, some savvy buyers could end up spending less than half the sticker price for appliances…[S]tores are bracing for a swarm of shoppers…"

    From EPAENERGYSTAR via YouTube

    "Howard's Appliances Inc., which has 11 stores throughout the Southland, has stocked up to three times more products than it normally carries and has sent out letters to its customers…The company is planning to pull staff from its corporate offices, warehouse and service center…[and] open three hours early…

    "But the rebates are limited. California was allocated $35.3 million for the program, and state officials expect to issue about 300,000 rebates. Other states that offered the [federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act] program ran out of money quickly. Florida's $17.6-million program ran out of funds a day after it was launched, while the $2.9 million set aside in Iowa was depleted within hours…[I]n California, however…[b]uyers may be in less of a rush because the state demands that the products meet higher energy standards than in many other states, making eligible appliances more expensive…"

    click thru for more info

    "The California Energy Commission is administering the program…The mail-in rebate will be handed out on a first-come, first-served basis based on the postmark date on the claim form, which can be downloaded from the energy commission's website Thursday…The website will also feature a countdown that will track the amount of money remaining in the state pot. Sales will officially run through May 23, and buyers must mail in their claim form within 30 days of purchase.

    "…[S]avings can be substantial…On top of the $200 rebate, both Southern California Edison and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power offer up to $100 to customers who buy an Energy Star-certified refrigerator and then recycle an older one…Edison also has a $50 rebate for energy-efficient air conditioner, and customers can get $35 from Southern California Gas Co. for an environmentally friendly clothes washer…Some Energy Star-certified appliances, such as certain air conditioning units, are also eligible for federal tax credits…"


    SANYO Lithium-ion Battery Systems Contribute to Achieve Guinness World Record for the Longest Journey by Mira EV; EV powered by SANYO's batteries traveled a distance of 555.6 km without recharging!
    April 21, 2010 (Sanyo)

    "SANYO Electric Co., Ltd…[announced] that the travel distance of 555.6 km by Mira EV powered by SANYO lithium-ion battery systems has been officially recognized as the longest journey by electric vehicle without recharging by the Guinness World Records."

    click to enlarge

    "This trial run was provided by Japan Electric Vehicle Club (Japan EV Club) and implemented by driving the Mira EV from Tokyo to Osaka, Japan on November 17, 2009. The SANYO lithium-ion battery systems housed in the Mira EV were designed by assembling 8320 cylindrical lithium-ion batteries (18650-type) which are normally used in laptops etc… While continuing to improve its lithium-ion battery technology, SANYO is contributing towards the realization of a low carbon society."

    Tuesday, April 20, 2010


    Iberdrola Plans World’s Largest Wind Farm in Romania
    Todd White and Jeremy van Loon (w/Joao Lima, Irina Savu, Tina Davis and Charles Siler), April 19, 2010 (Bloomberg News via BusinessWeek)

    "Iberdrola SA won approval to build the world’s largest onshore wind-energy project in Romania, requiring at least $2 billion in investment through 2017…[I]t acquired rights from the Romanian government to build 1,500 megawatts of capacity. That’s almost five times the power coming from Europe’s largest wind complex…

    "Iberdrola, which became the world’s biggest wind-farm owner by using government incentives and charging above-market electricity rates for clean energy, now operates in 10 markets including the U.S. and U.K. The Romanian mega-park, near its operations in neighboring Hungary, may extend the Spanish company’s lead over second-ranked wind producer FPL Group Inc. of Florida."

    click to enlarge

    "Romania generates much of its electricity by burning oil and gas, which can be easily scaled back during a windy day to allow for surges of power from windmills…[The Romanian] government may approve a law later this year to double the number of “green certificates” eligible for wind power and boost the total price per megawatt-hour by 25 percent…[The] Iberdrola Renovables SA renewable-energy unit plans 50 Romanian wind parks that would supply the equivalent of almost 1 million homes…The project amounts to a third of the new wind power Iberdrola plans for Eastern Europe, after investing 100 million euros there in 2009…

    "The average cost to buy and install wind turbines around the world is about 1.3 million euros ($1.75 million) a megawatt…Using those figures, Iberdrola’s Dobrogea project in southeastern Romania on the Black Sea would cost more than $2 billion…Prices for turbines fell about 18 percent last year and wind farm operators like Iberdrola are benefiting from the lower costs…European Union policies to help reduce dependence on fossil fuel-based power generation are also an incentive for the project…"

    A turbine in Romania's Tihuta Pass. (from Wikipedia - click to enlarge)

    "Like FPL, Iberdrola has grown to be one of the world’s largest investor-owned utilities partly because of rapid expansion in wind energy. Wind and biomass are typically the cheapest sources of renewable energy and plants using them can be built faster than large-scale solar or geothermal installations…[R]anked by megawatts of wind-energy in operation, [Iberdrola] is followed by… Florida-based FPL and China Guodian Corp. of Beijing…

    "The Dobrogea complex will dwarf Whitelee, Europe’s current record-holder, a 322-megawatt wind installation near Glasgow that is owned by Iberdrola’s Scottish Power unit. Whitelee is scheduled to be expanded to about 600 megawatts in a few years…The Cape Wind offshore wind project in Nantucket Sound would have capacity of 420 megawatts…Iberdrola’s Romanian partner is Eolica Dobrogea. That company, part-owned by Swiss engineering firm NEK Umwelttechnik AG and C-Tech Srl. and Rokura Srl., both Romanian, will secure building permits…"


    Pacific Blue Energy Corp. Reviews Solar Farm Plans for New Land Acquisition
    April 19, 2010 (PR Newswire)

    "When Pacific Blue Energy Corp. acquired 154.3 acres in northern Arizona earlier this month, the company announced that it had targeted the site for a major new solar energy project…[T]he publicly traded developer of renewable energy [has now] further outlined those plans.

    "Located 30 miles east of Flagstaff, Arizona, in Coconino County, the former Ship Ahoy site could support as much as 20 MW or megawatts of solar electricity generation - using either a fixed tilt or a single tracking system. A megawatt is equivalent to one million watts of electricity and can power between 180 and 350 homes per year, depending on usage patterns."

    click to enlarge

    "At an elevation of 5300 feet, the site benefits from cooler, high desert temperatures that can increase the photovoltaic efficiencies of solar panels. Soil tests show that the land is well suited to support the foundations for a solar panel racking system - with minimal costs. For every 5 MW, a solar farm requires roughly 25,000 photovoltaic panels on racks.

    "…[T]he site is relatively flat - resulting in unobstructed sunlight -- and it is conveniently located only a half mile from an existing 69 KV transmission line and electrical substation. It may also benefit from a Flagstaff-area 2020 Regional Plan that may help to smooth the entitlement process."

    click to enlarge

    "In fact, the site had already gone through the permitting process for the development of a renewable energy project - a project that was unanimously approved by local officials. For this project, the company hopes the County Board of Supervisors will again give a green light to the development of renewable energy in northern Arizona."

    [Joel Franklin, CEO, Pacific Blue Energy Corp.:] "With each passing day, we feel that we are getting closer and closer to making this solar farm a reality - the first of hopefully many renewable energy projects…From this strong beginning, we hope to become a leading provider of renewable power in Arizona and the U.S."


    Geothermal Energy Could Power Fort Bliss Growth
    Daniel Novick, April 19, 2010 (KFOX14-TV)

    "Fort Bliss may soon see the unique type of renewable energy powering parts of the post: geothermal energy."

    "…El Paso County and Fort Bliss got a $5 million grant from the federal stimulus bill to research if a geothermal plant, that would be located on McGregor Range is the right way to go."

    click to enlarge

    [Bob Geyer, geothermal project manager, El Paso County:] "Geothermal is the water underground, and the temperature of that as far as using it as an energy source to turn turbines, and then obviously create electricity…It's a constant source of heat that can be used for this purpose…"

    click to enlarge

    "Geyer said everyone involved hopes the plant would produce 20 megawatts of power, with almost all of it staying on post…"

    [Bob Geyer, geothermal project manager, El Paso County:] "…[From a study] they can tell the geology that is down there, they can do testing to determine the amount of water that is down there [that's] available as a heat source…[and] that the water is hot enough and also that the volume is big enough to pursue…"


    Pew Study: Department of Defense Embracing Clean Energy; Pentagon, Service Agencies Working to Enhance Security, Save Money and Reduce Emissions

    "The Department of Defense has initiated ambitious clean energy programs in service of economic, security and environmental goals according to Reenergizing Aerica’s Defense…by the Pew Project on National Security, Energy and Climate. The report describes efforts by the U.S. military – whose usage accounts for nearly 80 percent of the U.S. government’s energy consumption – to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and cut global warming pollution by enhancing energy efficiency and harnessing clean energy technologies…

    "United States Defense Secretary Robert Gates has identified energy as one of the department’s top-25 transformational priorities and the armed forces – including the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps – have undertaken specific initiatives to save energy, mitigate climate change and reduce costs. The military is investigating and implementing energy-saving measures in all facets of its operations, both at home and abroad, including housing, vehicles, fuels, weapons, supplies and transmission grids."

    click to enlarge

    "Overall, the Department of Defense has set a goal of producing or procuring 25 percent of its electric energy needs from renewable sources by 2025…The U.S. Navy is developing a “green” carrier strike group to run completely on alternative fuels by 2016…[and on] April 22, the U.S. Navy will demonstrate the ‘Green Hornet’, an F/A-18 Super Hornet powered by a 50/50 biofuel blend…

    "…The U.S. Army is developing a 500-megawatt solar power generation plant in Fort Irwin, California that will help power the base and reduce the base’s vulnerability to power supply disruptions. Named a ‘Net-Zero Plus installation’, the Army hopes to free the base entirely from reliance on the public electric grid within the next decade…The U.S. Marine Corps has launched the 10X10 campaign aimed at reducing energy intensity, water consumption and increasing the use of renewable electric energy…"

    click to enlarge

    "With an annual energy budget of approximately $20 billion, the Defense Department incurs more than $1.3 billion in additional energy costs for every $10 increase per barrel rise in the world market price of oil…[T]he department’s reliance on fossil fuels also compromises combat effectiveness by restricting mobility, flexibility and endurance on the battlefield. Transportation of fuel to the combat theater is a significant vulnerability as fuel convoys are targets in Iraq and Afghanistan…

    "Defense and intelligence experts have found that situations of instability can worsen from the impacts of climate change as water and food supplies decline, storm intensity increases, agricultural patterns are disrupted and migration increases due to conflict or resource shortages. In February 2010, the department’s four year strategic planning document, the Quadrennial Defense Review, for the first time officially recognized climate change as a key issue…It declared 'Climate change… may act as an accelerant of instability or conflict, placing a burden to respond on civilian institutions and militaries around the world.'"

    Monday, April 19, 2010


    Innovators Develop Second Wave of Ocean-Based Energy
    Trevor Curwin, April 18, 2010 (CNBC)

    "…UK-based Aquamarine Power believes it has conquered the cruel environment of the world’s oceans to bring almost limitless clean energy ashore…In a tough operating environment that has crushed or drowned many competitors, [Aquamarine Power’s] Oyster is currently generating energy off the Orkney Islands in northern Scotland by taking the radical approach of leaving the electricity-producing components of its power plant on land…

    "The Oyster’s core is a buoyant, hinged flap that sways backwards and forwards in the waves near shore. This motion drives two hydraulic pistons which push high pressure water onshore to drive a conventional hydroelectric turbine…That keeps the production end of the equipment—the generator, converters, transformers and circuit breakers – high and dry onshore for easy maintenance and operation…"

    DOE/EPRI estimate of U.S. wave energy potential. (click to enlarge)

    "…[T]he promise of harvesting ocean energy from waves, tides and currents is not new…For several decades, many test projects have been tried but few achieved scalability, with most concepts succumbing to the operating environment and to high costs of production…Peter Asmus, an analyst with cleantech research firm Pike Research, says the industry is only now getting starting to build a new generation of technologies, like the Oyster…

    "The resource is clearly abundant. The Electric Power Research Institute, an independent energy research organization, estimates that the U.S. could produce 10 gigawatts of wave power and 3 gigawatts of tidal power within 10 years…That would be enough to produce six percent of U.S. electrical demand…[Aquamarine Power] calculates the Oyster could generate in excess of 50 gigawatts of power worldwide…"

    Rendering of the Green Ocean Energy hybrid wind energy/wave energy device. (click to enlarge)

    "But even if the technology proves itself, large-scale ocean energy projects face the same hurdles that such projects face on land—a spotty transmission grid and a financing crunch still thwarting many big infrastructure projects…One savior may be a competing renewable energy technology…Offshore wind projects mount proven and scalable wind turbine technology on platforms at sea. These could work in conjunction with ocean energy systems like Aquamarine’s Oyster, providing crucial infrastructure to make wave and tidal power more viable…

    "Michael Kanellos, researcher and editor-in-chief with research firm Greentech Media/GTM Research, says that even with those benefits it will still be tough to attract investment for ocean power…He [says] this will likely be a niche technology for years to come, with projects deployed in very specific locales to generate power to sell into the wider power grid, or to provide local energy for more remote communities less connected to the grid…[But] opportunity is much closer today than it has been…"


    Wind energy decision carries political impact; Obama mulls turbine plan off Cape Cod
    Joseph Weber, April 18, 2010 (Washington Times)

    "…[T]he nation's offshore wind energy industry is about to find out which way the breezes are blowing…After nine years in the government regulatory mill, backers of the Cape Wind project off the shores of Massachusetts' Cape Cod will learn by April 30 whether Mr. Obama and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will let them proceed, with potentially far-reaching consequences for the industry if the project is quashed.

    "Mark Rodgers, spokesman for Cape Wind developer Energy Management Inc. of Boston, said that the project is being closely watched because it is the first of its kind in the United States, with a number of other projects being eyed along the Atlantic coastline…Mr. Obama has made renewable energy a top priority - vowing to double the country's output in three years, supporting wind turbines along the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf, and putting more than $800 million in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for such clean-energy initiatives as solar and geothermal power."

    click to enlarge

    "…Cape Wind poses a particular dilemma for the administration. It was bitterly opposed by Mr. Obama's close friend and political mentor, the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, even though backers say the completed project could supply well more than half of the cape's power needs…[The Whitehouse recently declined] to discuss Cape Wind…and referred questions to the office of Mr. Salazar…[who] has vowed to make a final decision by April 30…Even putting aside the economic and ecological issues, the decision won't be an easy one for the president…Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, a Democrat and Obama ally, supports Cape Wind, even as Mr. Kennedy worked virtually right up to his death in 2009 to stop it.

    "The federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation rejected the project…citing Cape Wind's "destructive" impact on the storied Kennedy family compound in Hyannisport and roughly 30 other historic districts and properties…Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, has been publicly noncommittal, while newly elected Republican Sen. Scott Brown said he supports wind power in general but does not support Cape Wind…"

    click to enlarge

    "China and a number of European nations have been racing ahead with offshore wind energy projects…There are at least six other major U.S. offshore wind projects in development - including ones in the Northeast, the Great Lakes region and one off Texas' Galveston coast that is not subject to federal review…Advocates say the wind energy turbines could provide a new, affordable power source for Northeast states…

    "Land-based wind farms have lower startup costs and present fewer technology and environmental challenges, which results in cheaper energy per megawatt hour. But the Northeastern U.S. in particular lacks sufficient space for major land-based developments. Though other offshore wind projects are much further behind Cape Wind…NRG Bluewater Wind has signed a 25-year deal with Delmarva Power to sell the utility as much as 200 megawatts of power from [a Delaware] offshore wind facility…While the industry will be watching closely the outcome of the Cape Wind process, NRG officials say, it will not be a make-or-break moment for the offshore wind energy industry as a whole…"


    Engineering the Earth; Jeff Goodell sizes up the silver-bullet technologies that may be needed to combat rising planetary temperatures
    Eric Roston, March 25, 2010 (BusinessWeek)

    "The Good: Goodell explores with infectious curiosity and thoughtful narration this strange, promising, and untested suite of climate fixes…The Bad: The book's deadline must have been too early for Goodell to explain why climate scientists have been in a PR pickle…The Bottom Line: If you think climate change has much to do with what U.S. political parties currently say they think, or that it has a single clear solution, read this book and think again…"

    "… Ken Caldeira, a climate modeler with the Carnegie Institution for Science…articulated a central conundrum…"If you are pushed against the wall in a Senate meeting room and asked what you can do to cool off the planet in a hurry, what do you say?"…That's one question probed in Jeff Goodell's judicious and much needed new book,
    How to Cool the Planet…[G]eoengineering has become a flashpoint within the already ferocious climate debate…[and is] commanding serious attention from public- and private-sector luminaries…A lot of kooky geoengineering ideas have bubbled up…Goodell, a contributing editor at Rolling Stone…resists the temptation to write about these, focusing instead on ideas that are beginning to attract research dollars..."

    From Clean Skies

    "…[Ideas include the release of] tons of aerosol particles into the sky..[to] reflect the Sun's light…[Pumping] infinitesimal water droplets into the air to buffer ocean clouds' reflectivity…[and] whitening rooftops around the world to reflect solar energy back to space…Which authorities would regulate any of these moves, and how, is anyone's guess, and therefore a looming diplomatic and legal problem—beyond the still-speculative nature of much geoengineering science.

    "Climate action in Washington has stalled in no small part because of the feared costs to businesses and consumers of rising energy prices…"Who can resist a cheap fix?" [Goodell asks]…[M]any environmentalists, that's who. They fear that geoengineering would let polluters off the hook and exacerbate the underlying problem, which is an atmospheric destabilization more dramatic than anything in the recent geological record. Some polluters have embraced geoengineering precisely because of its possible low price…"

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    "…Along the way they've picked up advocates in Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt, whose bestseller SuperFreakonomics includes a chapter on geoengineering that commits two basic errors: oversimplifying Earth system science and falling in love with the aerosol particle solution…[They] trumpet a simple answer to climate change in part because they didn't do enough research to understand how little they did. By contrast, Goodell understands there's no approach to the problem that doesn't confront fundamental questions, such as: What is the Earth for? Where does nature end and humanity begin? There is no trace of climate alarmism or political advocacy here. Goodell takes a detailed look at the range of hard choices humanity faces and explores how complicated moral and ethical considerations will dictate our response.

    "Goodell is also a skilled writer. He splices complicated ideas into pithy turns of phrase…Geoengineering, says Goodell, may be an inexpensive way…Or it could be a costly mistake. We don't know yet. In a final chapter called "Human Nature," he writes: 'I do believe this is what it comes down to. We can use our imagination and ingenuity to create something beautiful and sustainable, or we can destroy ourselves with stupidity and greed. It is our choice.'"