NewEnergyNews More: May 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

email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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Your intrepid reporter

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

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

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  • Monday, May 31, 2010

    OIL SPILL MAY MAKE DEAD ZONE DEADER

    Undersea Oil Adrift in Gulf May Create Oxygen ‘Dead Zones’
    Jessica Resnick-Ault, May 31, 2010 (Bloomberg BusinessWeek)

    "The millions of gallons of oil leaking from a broken well a mile under the Gulf of Mexico may create oxygen-depleting dead zones below the ocean, killing sea life and upsetting the region’s ecology for decades, scientists say.

    "BP Plc’s oil spill, the biggest in U.S. history, has been sprayed with 950,000 gallons of chemicals on the surface and near the seabed to dissolve the oil into water. The amount of dispersants used is unprecedented and the behavior of the dissolved oil unknown, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson has said…"


    click thru for more on dead zones

    "A government team appointed by the Coast Guard estimates oil has been spilling from the well at a rate of 12,000 to 19,000 barrels a day. That could increase as much as 20 percent when BP makes its next attempt to control the leak by sawing off a damaged pipe. Within the week, BP plans to reconnect the pipe and funnel oil to a ship on the surface…Even if BP succeeds, long-term damage to the Gulf ecosystem is unavoidable…"

    click thru for more on dead zones

    "Marine biologists are worried the oil will kill off fragile organisms, such as shrimp and fish larvae and plankton, a critical part of the offshore food chain…Fish can also suffocate if their gills are coated with crude.

    "Microbes in the sea that feed on oil seeping from the seabed are expected to consume most of the underwater oil from the leak…[but in] such a big oil spill, that may bring its own problems…Populations of oil-gorged microbes could expand rapidly, consuming oxygen needed by other sea life and creating 'dead zones.'"

    CHINA WIND IN IPO

    China wind power group in $1.2 billion IPO: sources; China's second-largest wind turbine maker, Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co Ltd, plans to raise up to $1.2 billion in a Hong Kong initial public offering, sources close to the deal said.
    Kennix Chim and Leonora Walet, May 31, 2010 (Reuters)

    "The offering will test the appetite for renewable energy firms in a market heavy with property and financial companies. The Hong Kong stock exchange said earlier this year it would mine mainland Chinese and international markets to keep its listing momentum.

    "Goldwind's attempt at a Hong Kong IPO could mark the largest offering by a Chinese wind company since the $2.2 billion listing in December of the nation's biggest wind-power producer, China Longyuan Power Group Corp…"


    Goldwind is second in China and fifth in the world. (click to enlarge)

    "Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index has lost more than 6 percent since the start of May in volatile trading, with investors cautious because of the European debt crisis…Goldwind (002202.SZ), which is already listed on the mainland's Shenzhen stock exchange, would offer 395.29 million shares, or 15 percent of its enlarged share capital, with an indicative price range of between HK$19.80 and HK$23, the sources said…

    "The H-share offering price range valued Goldwind at 18.8 to 21.8 times prospective 2010 earnings forecast by sponsors…By comparison, Chinese turbine maker Dongfang Electric (1072.HK) trades at 19 times forecast 2010 earnings, while China High Speed Transmission (0658.HK), a maker of wind gear for wind turbines, trades at 15.6 times…"

    POWER GIANT BUILDS TEX WIND PLANT

    Alstom Outlines Plans for North American Wind Turbine Assembly Facility
    May 25, 2010 (PR Newswire)

    "Alstom, a global leader in power generation…[announced] the opening of a wind turbine assembly facility that will create 275 full-time engineering, production, and technical support jobs in Amarillo, Texas…

    "…The [115,000 square foot] Amarillo facility will assemble the "nacelles"—i.e., the generator, gearbox, and control systems that make up a wind turbine. The nacelles will be transported from Amarillo to sites where they will be installed together with blades and towers to create the complete wind turbine generators. Alstom will offer its North American customers a product that includes any combination of the complete unit and the engineering, design, construction, and maintenance of the facility."


    Schematic of the Alstom nacelle (click to enlarge)

    "In particular, Alstom's offering includes the ECO 80/86 wind turbine platform (1.67 MW) and the ECO 100/110 wind turbine platform (3 MW) to accommodate the differing wind regimes across North America. All of Alstom's wind power offerings feature the ALSTOM PURE TORQUE™ design. ALSTOM PURE TORQUE™ is a unique rotor support concept protecting the gearbox and other drive train components from deflection loads, delivering higher gearbox reliability, higher operational availability, and lower maintenance costs…

    "Alstom has almost 30 years of experience in the wind power market with over 2,200 megawatts and 1,850 wind turbines in operation, primarily in Europe. Alstom's investment in Amarillo builds on the company's existing presence in the North America, where the company has 6,000 employees, multiple manufacturing sites, and a significant investment in other clean power solutions such as hydro, carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), nuclear, and energy efficiency."

    A CHINESE-GERMAN EV

    Daimler and BYD Put Electric Car Venture in Gear
    Jonathan Schulz, May 28, 2010 (Wheels via NY Times)

    "Daimler announced…a joint venture with BYD, the Chinese automobile and battery manufacturer backed by Warren E. Buffett, to build a research and technology center to develop electric cars in BYD’s home city of Shenzhen. The Shenzhen BYD Daimler New Technology Company, as the company will be called, will seek to strengthen each brand’s position in China’s electric-vehicle market."

    click thru for the latest on all plug-ins

    "In March, the two automakers signed a memorandum of understanding to build electric cars in China. At the time, Henry Li, BYD’s international sales manager, said a proposed jointly developed electric car would be positioned above the e6, the four-door E.V. that BYD displayed at the Detroit auto show…"

    NOT FUNNY

    Cartoonist Mike Luckovich via Climate Progress

    Wednesday, May 26, 2010

    GREAT LAKES WIND

    The Great Lakes Gear Up for Offshore Wind; It’s near the big one they call Kitchigummi.
    Herman K. Trabish, May 26, 2010 (Greentech Media)

    "The next frontier for offshore wind could be the Midwest…The first offshore wind project on the Great lakes moved a step closer to reality with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between GE Energy (GE) and the Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEED).

    "The MOU was announced by Ohio Governor Ted Strickland at the opening session of WindPower 2010, the annual conclave put on by the American Wind Energy Association and thought to be the biggest U.S. energy event. The MOU commits GE to providing five of its 4-megawatt (MW) state-of-the-art direct-drive offshore turbines, along with maintenance services, for a 20-megawatt installation just off Cleveland's shores in Lake Erie. Governor Strickland described it as 'a first step.'"


    Artist's rendering of what turbines off Cleveland's shores would look like. (click to enlarge)

    "Offshore industry sources confided that while GE's 4MW turbine is an impressive machine, it has yet to prove itself in the rugged offshore environment and will be especially hard-pressed to perform up to expectations in the brutal and frigid waters of Lake Erie. But savor the irony: the pollution on the once-flammable waters of Lake Erie helped prompt the birth of Earth Day and the modern environmental movement."

    There are other Great Lakes and other great opportunities. (click to enlarge)

    "LEED President Larry Wagner stressed that 11 of GE's 3MW turbines have been successfully operating in a nearby and similar onshore environment close to the shoreline for five years...If successful, LEED hopes to proceed with the development of 1,000 megawatts of offshore capacity in the same Lake Erie waters. According to Wagner, a rigorous seven-layer GIS analysis conducted by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) has identified…[10-to-20 thousand megawatts of] potential…in sectors of the lake unencumbered by environmental, commercial, recreational or military considerations…

    "LEED plans for the 20MW GE installation to go online in 2012, preparing the way for the fulfillment of the 1,000MW goal by 2020. Michigan, Iowa, Ontario and Pennsylvania, among other regional states and provinces, are actively courting green energy and manufacturing facilities, as well…One industry source who cautioned the GE turbines were unproven speculated that the project was small enough that GE Energy might be able to arrange financing but would be unlikely to obtain money to go ahead with a large-scale project until the money people see the turbines perform to expectations for two years."

    THE RIGHT SOLAR FOR THE RIGHT PLACE

    Technology and desert biomes: Location is everything; A solution tailored to specific desert conditions could enhance plant efficiency, and mitigate operations and maintenance costs of a CSP plant.
    Rajeesh Chhabara, 20 May 2010 (CSP Today)

    "Desert climates may drastically differ from region to region. For example, the United Nations classifies deserts as hyper arid, arid, semiarid and dry-sub humid. There are real deserts such as in the Middle East, India and Australia. Then there are the ‘desert-like’ areas, as in the southwest United States and Spain.

    "Diverse meteorological stress conditions may exist in different regions or within the same regions. In the US, hot and humid in Miami (Florida) contrasts with hot and dry in Phoenix (Arizona). In California…warm and humid in Sacramento gives way to hot and dry in Dagget…[It is] hot and mild in Almeria (Spain) and hot and dry in Thar desert (India)…"


    click to enlarge

    "…Higher radiation level found in actual deserts could impact the plant design in terms of… the size of the storage and the size of the solar field…[but higher radiation] is not limited to actual deserts…Typical real deserts [also] lack naturally available cooling water. Operators then need to rely on dry cooling [which is more expensive because]…dry cooling towers rely on electrically driven ventilation systems…[and] is also relatively less efficient…[C]ompanies that deliver innovative technologies to reduce costs of cooling systems for dry deserts will be winners…

    "Higher soiling of mirrors in a desert due to sand storms is another point of difference. More dust and sand means more frequent cleaning, and an additional effort in maintenance…[though the loss is usually offset by higher] radiation…"


    click to enlarge

    "…[D]iverse climatic stress conditions may offer innovative opportunities for component manufactures to tailor products…[N]iche manufacturers…[may emerge with] specific products or applications suited to the specific climatic condition…However, key players in the mirror and the receiver technology sectors have not yet made attempts to develop such niche products, or to differentiate their products based on climatic conditions…[Instead,] standardisation of mirrors and receiver tubes is currently taking place…

    "[T]his situation may change over time…[but the issue of site-specific customisation is not on the industry agenda at present…Solar Millennium, which has CSP projects in various stages in diverse desert regions such as the Middle East, China, Spain, the US, India and North Africa, currently deploys the same equipment across all projects…[E]fforts are more directed toward improving the overall efficiency of products…[like] anti-soiling coatings and low-to-no water cleaning…"

    SCAMS FORESEEN

    Carbon Fraud Guide Details Dangers of Carbon Markets That Are Contaminated By Offsets
    May 18, 2010 (Friends of the Earth)

    "A new “guide” for would-be carbon crooks and schemers…[from] Friends of the Earth serves as a warning about the fraud, corruption and gaming abuses that are inherent to carbon trading systems contaminated with offset credits.

    "The
    American Power Act proposed by Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) last week would create just such a system."

    click to enlarge

    "The guide, Ten Ways to Game the Carbon Market, outlines ten different ways in which fraudsters can game carbon trading systems. Nine methods have already been successfully carried out. Some tricks are variations of classic scams such as Ponzi schemes, phishing and tax fraud. But other cons are more particular to carbon trading."

    {Michelle Chan, senior policy analyst/report author, Friends of the Earth:] “Carbon offsets are especially prone to corruption and fraud. Every offset deal requires a story indicating that the emissions reduction would not have been possible without offset revenues, or that emissions would have been higher without the project. Because of this, the offsets market is inherently rife with opportunities for truth stretching—and outright lies…[M]uch of the corruption that we have seen in the carbon markets involves bribes…The ‘American Power Act’ allows for some two billion tons of offsets…”

    NEW WAVE SNAKE

    E.ON unveils Pelamis-built wave energy hydropower device in UK
    May 18, 2010 (HydroWorld)

    "…Pelamis Wave Power Ltd. [a UK subsidiary of German utility E.ON AG] developed and constructed the… P2 750-kilowatt wave energy device…The machine will be towed to the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney, Scotland, where it will be installed and tested…

    "The installation of the Pelamis wave energy converter at EMEC is the first time the P2 machine has been tested anywhere in the world and also represents the UK's first commercial supply contract within the marine energy sector…"


    click to enlarge

    [Tom Delay, chief executive, Pelamis-funder the UK Carbon Trust:] "This…shows the UK's marine energy industry is rapidly coming of age. We have a clear lead in this sector and must now capitalize on this to secure maximum benefit in creating new jobs and revenue for the UK. Having supported Pelamis with funding from the Marine Renewables Proving Fund, we look forward to…bringing it a step closer to commercial deployment."

    click thru for complete info on the EMEC

    "The device is 180 meters long and weighs approximately 1,500 tons…[C]alled the "Vagr Atferd" (Norse for wave power), [it] was named by Matthew Rendall of Stromness Primary School in Orkney, following a competition…

    "Recently, Pelamis, Marine Current Turbines and other firms were named successful bidders for wave and tidal energy farm development leases in UK waters…[as part of the Crown Estate-run] world's first commercial wave and tidal leasing round."

    Tuesday, May 25, 2010

    GE MAKES BIG BIG DEAL

    Pathfinder Selects GE as Technology Partner in Wyoming; Pact to supply Pathfinder's wind power needs for TransCanada's Zephyr Power Transmission Project

    "GE…and Pathfinder Renewable Wind Energy, LLC (Pathfinder)…[concluded] an agreement naming GE as the wind turbine supplier and technology partner for Pathfinder's Wyoming wind power projects…at the AWEA Windpower 2010 Conference in Dallas. Pathfinder, a Wyoming wind energy developer, is one of three wind developers to be allocated transmission capacity on TransCanada's 3,000 megawatt Zephyr Power Transmission project. Pathfinder's allocation is 2100 megawatts…

    "GE is the largest U.S. supplier of wind turbines and the workhorse of the industry, with more than 13,500 units now installed worldwide. The proposed Zephyr project is a 1,000 mile, 500 kilovolt, high voltage direct current line designed to move 3,000 MW of wind-generated electricity from Wyoming to power markets in the southwest U.S…"


    click to enlarge

    "Pathfinder Renewable Wind Energy, LLC…owns and operates Wyoming's historic Pathfinder Ranch…[and] is advancing the development of new wind generation assets and expanded power transmission for markets in the southwest. Pathfinder and its partnering ranchers are leaders in enhancing wildlife habitat while preserving America's ranching heritage…meeting the nation's desire for green energy…[and developing wind while protecting] Wyoming's rural economies, communities, wildlife, scenic viewsheds and cultural resources…"

    [Jeff Meyer, managing partner, Pathfinder:] "Pathfinder approaches the development of Wyoming's wind resources from the perspective of a ranching landowner…We've found the GE team to be responsive and creative in supporting Pathfinder's unique vision for wind energy development in the Western US."

    ATTACK FROM THE LEFT

    Green coalition blasts Senate climate bill
    Jim Snyder, May 17, 2010 (The Hill)

    "The new Senate climate change bill has some green groups seeing red.

    "Fifteen organizations, including Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the Friends Committee on National Legislation, which is a Quaker lobbying group, have formed the Climate Reality Check coalition to oppose the legislation, released last week by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.)…"


    click to enlarge

    "A number of other environmental organizations have praised the bill, even as they noted problems with some provisions, such as the measure's support for nuclear power and offshore drilling. The climate reality coalition…[wants] sharper pollution reductions; the EPA to retain the authority to regulate greenhouse gases through the Clean Air Act; and…[eliminate] offsets and other loopholes that prevent pollution reductions…"

    [Climate Reality Check coalition statement:] “The well-being of our nation and the world are being sacrificed for the interests of big polluters, which continue to rake in record profits at the expense of the environment and the public...”

    NEW U.S. OFFSHORE WIND GAMBIT

    New Jersey firm floats plan for offshore wind turbines
    Tom Wrobleski, May 23, 2010 (Staten Island Live)

    "Staten Island could be home to some of the first offshore power-generating wind turbines in the nation by 2013.

    "Deepwater Wind, which has offices in Hoboken, N.J., is pitching a plan to build eight wind turbines in the water about three miles off Great Kills Harbor in Lower New York Bay…Deepwater reps have been talking to elected officials, fishing and recreation groups and others here…[Deepwater will] look for another location away from the Island if support is lacking…[It] is involved in similar turbine projects in Rhode Island and elsewhere."


    click to enlarge

    "The 450-foot-high turbines, which would have half-a-mile of space between them…would generate 30 megawatts of electricity each, enough to power about 14,000 borough homes…[The] site was chosen because it was clear of shipping lanes, commercial fishing areas, and other obstacles…[and] there would be ‘tremendous’ environmental and other reviews that would have to be completed before the project could go forward…

    "…[T]he electricity would be brought to the power substation…via armored underground cables…An operation and maintenance facility for the turbines could be built [locally] as part of the project, and one or two support vessels could be homeported there…The turbines would cost around $200 million to build and would have a 20- to 25-year lifespan. They would be made to withstand hurricane-force winds and would be shut down if winds reach 56 miles per hour."


    click to enlarge

    "While some find offshore turbines to be an eyesore…[others say they are majestic]… [T]urbine areas in places like Denmark have become tourist attractions…[T]he support bases of the turbines attract mollusks that draw fish, making the turbine areas appealing for anglers…But Guy Ahearn, president of the Staten Island Tuna Club, objects to building the turbines…[for aesthetic reasons and because] "no-fishing" buffer zones…around the turbines [might not be enforced]…Ahearn said he is willing to meet with Deepwater again…

    "Rep. Michael McMahon (D-Staten Island/Brooklyn) said that the turbines should be examined and discussed as a way to help ease American dependence on foreign oil…Borough President James P. Molinaro, who has advocated for building wind turbines at the old Fresh Kills landfill, said he would back the plan as long as it doesn't disturb the offshore environment or fishing grounds…"

    GEOTHERMAL IN THE WORLD

    Geothermal energy widens its reach to 52 million people: report
    Nagesh Narayana, May 21, 2010 (International Business Times)

    "Geothermal power is widening its reach fast with over 10,000 MW already installed and reaching more than 52 million people now, said a report by the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA)…

    "Nearly 24 countries increased power online by 20 percent in the last five years and 94 countries are currently developing geothermal energy, the report said…Seventy nations currently have projects underway, a 52% increase from the last report that was compiled by GEA in 2007. Nearly 24 countries in Europe and 11 countries in Africa account for most of the projects…"


    click to enlarge

    "In 1999 GEA identified 39 nations that could provide 100 percent of their energy needs from geothermal, fully powering their countries but only nine of them had geothermal power online.

    "…The US leads in geothermal energy with 3,086 MW capacity from 77 plants…The Philippines, the second highest producer of geothermal power in the world, produces 1,904 MW, which is 18% of the country's electricity generation…Germany has 150 geothermal power plant projects and [will] produce 280 MW by 2020…"


    click to enlarge

    "…Geothermal power plants provide 26 percent of the electricity in El Salvador…Kenya plans to produce 490 MW by 2012 and about 4,000 MW within 20 years…Turkey aims to produce 550 MW by 2013…Indonesia's National Energy Blueprint aims to produce 9,500 MW, or [an] 800% increase…Iceland gets 25 percent of its electricity and 90 percent of its heating from geothermal resources."

    [Karl Gawell, Executive Director, GEA:] "The colossal growth of the international market is only a small fraction of the geothermal power potential we could be utilizing…The development potential here is very obviously tremendous. It's as if we discovered a huge deposit of oil underneath our feet, enough to put gas in our cars forever, and didn't use it; except this is a totally clean, renewable, and constant energy source…"

    Monday, May 24, 2010

    SUN NEEDS POLICY NURTURING

    Tax policies could add jobs, MWs of new solar-SEIA; Industry group wants grant program, tax credits extended
    Dana Ford (w/Gerald E. McCormick), May 19, 2010 (Reuters)

    "Tax credits and a two-year extension to a federal grant program for U.S. solar projects would add roughly 200,000 jobs and almost 10,000 megawatts of new solar installations…[according to] research done by EuPD Research…[T]he Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) urged the U.S. government to extend [the] grant program, set to expire this year, through 2012.

    "The program, established in 2009 under the U.S. Recovery Act, was meant to help fill the financing void left by shrinking tax equity markets…Historically, banks have used tax equity markets to fund solar projects by buying government tax credits from the project owners…[The bank capital covered] the costs of development…But as the credit crisis hit the financial markets, banks' appetite for those tax credits disappeared…"


    click to enlarge

    "SEIA is also calling on the government to allow solar manufacturing costs to be claimed as an investment tax credit…Combining a possible grant extension with the ability to apply for tax credits would create some 200,000 jobs and lead to nearly 10,000 MW of new installations in the United States by 2016…[O]ne megawatt is enough to power some 250 average U.S. homes.

    "Installed solar capacity in the United States jumped 37 percent last year as state and federal incentive programs helped to prop up demand during a downturn…It was the fourth straight year of growth, but without changes to current policy…[SEIA] said the U.S. solar industry could grind to a halt."


    click to enlarge

    "Several of the big solar players, including industry heavyweight First Solar Inc, have plans to develop large-scale projects under the grant program, and have been working to meet the year-end 2010 deadline…Many projects are at risk of missing the cutoff because of permitting and other scheduling delays…"

    [Rhone Resch, President, SEIA:] "Our policies are on again, off again. What we need is some stability…"

    WIND MANUFACTURER TO ARKANSAS

    Wind turbine parts maker to build Arkansas plant
    Chuck Bartels, May 20, 2010 (AP )

    "German manufacturer Beckmann Volmer…plans to build a $10 million plant in Osceola to produce steel components for wind turbines that will employ up to 500 people.

    "The company said it will initially hire 300 people to work at the plant, and will later spend an additional $7.5 million more to expand and hire another 200 workers. The factory will pay an average wage of $18 per hour."


    Put another dot in Arkansas - if there's room left on the map. (click to enlarge)

    "…[The main component produced by Beckmann Volmer in Osceola will be turbine main frames, which support the turbine's structure. They] will be used about 60 miles away at a turbine manufacturing plant being built by Nordex USA Inc., a factory that is to have 100 workers by the end of 2010 and 240 workers when it reaches full production in 2012. Ultimately, the plant could have 700 workers.

    "The state offered an incentive package to Beckmann Volmer that included $1.5 million from the Governor's Quick Action Closing Fund and $2.5 million from a community development block grant. The company will get a cash rebate equal to 5 percent of payroll for 10 years and an abatement of state corporate taxes for 14 1/2 years…The state also is to provide training assistance and a refund of some state and local sales and use taxes."


    click to enlarge

    "A consultant on the site selection, Florian A. Stamm at Smith Gambrell & Russell LLP of Atlanta, said Arkansas had the business elements Beckmann Volmer was seeking…[including a qualified] workforce, low transportation costs and a pro-business environment]…When Nordex, also a German company, broke ground in 2009, company Vice President Joe Brenner said the firm wanted to have local suppliers…

    "Gov. Mike Beebe met with Beckmann Volmer executives during a 2009 trade mission to Europe…Beebe alluded to other companies that have picked Arkansas for wind energy-related factories. Japan-based Mitsubishi Power Systems Americas pledged to start construction in the fall in Fort Smith on a turbine plant that could employ up to 500 workers…Denmark-based LM Wind Power, formerly LM Glasfiber, has two plants in Little Rock churning out windmill blades…Polymarin Composites, a Netherlands-based blade maker, planned a 2009 opening of a Little Rock plant and expected to have 630 workers…[but] has put its plans on hold [due to the recession, credit crunch and resultant slowed production]."

    THE GHGS FROM NATURAL GAS

    Preliminary Assessment of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Natural Gas obtained by Hydraulic Fracturing
    Robert W. Howarth, 17 March 2010 (Cornell University)

    "Natural gas is being widely advertised and promoted as a clean burning fuel that produces less greenhouse gas emissions [GhGs] than coal when burned. While it is true that less carbon dioxide is emitted from burning natural gas than from burning coal per unit of energy generated, the combustion emissions are only part of story and the comparison is quite misleading. A complete consideration of all emissions from using natural gas seems likely to make natural gas far less attractive…

    "There is an urgent need for a comprehensive assessment of the full range of emission of greenhouse gases from using natural gas obtained by high-volume, slick water hydraulic fracturing (HVSWHF, or “hydrofracking”)…Some information suggests that one or more assessments may have been conducted by industry groups, but if so these are available only to industry…If such assessments exist, they have not been subjected to external, unbiased scientific review."


    click to enlarge

    "A first attempt at comparing the total emissions of greenhouse gas emissions from HVWWHF obtained natural gas suggests that they are 2.4-fold greater than are the emissions just from the combustion of the natural gas. This estimate is highly uncertain, but is likely conservative, with true emissions being even greater…[Based on total GhGs] HVSWHF-obtained natural gas and coal from mountain-top removal probably have similar releases, and in fact the natural gas may be worse…[GhGs] from HVSWHF-obtained natural gas are estimated to be 60% more than for diesel fuel and gasoline. These numbers should be treated with caution. Nonetheless, until better estimates are generated and rigorously reviewed, society should be wary of claims that natural gas is a [more] desirable fuel…Far better would be to rapidly move towards an economy based on renewable fuels…[A Path to Sustainable Energy by 2030> and other] studies indicate the U.S. and the world could rely 100% on such green energy sources within 20 years if we dedicate ourselves to that course…

    "Considering
    the release during combustion alone, greenhouse gas emissions from burning natural gas average 13.7 g C of CO2 per million joules of energy compared to 18.6 for gasoline, 18.9 for diesel fuel, and 24.0 for bituminous coal…Additional emissions…occur during the development, processing, and transport of natural gas…"

    click to enlarge

    "…[T]he greenhouse gas emissions obtaining, processing, and transporting diesel fuel and gasoline are in the range of 8% …or perhaps 1.5 g C of CO2 per million joules of energy…[A]s fossil fuel energy resources become more diffuse and difficult to obtain (as is gas in the Marcellus Shale), the energy needed to extract them and the greenhouse gas emissions associated with this effort go up substantially.

    "The leakage of methane gas during production, transport, processing, and use of natural gas is probably a far more important consideration. Methane is by the far the major component of natural gas, and it is a powerful greenhouse gas:
    72-times more powerful than is CO2 per molecule in the atmosphere…Since methane is such a powerful greenhouse gas, even small leakages of natural gas to the atmosphere have very large consequences…The most recent data…suggest a leakage rate from the oil and gas industry of an amount of methane equal to 1.5% of the natural gas consumed…Total greenhouse gas emissions from natural gas from hydraulic fracturing may, therefore, be equivalent to 33 g C of CO2 per million joules of energy…[T]otal emissions from coal [could] be equivalent to 31.9 g C of CO2 per million joules of energy, or very slightly less than the estimate for the natural gas."

    BEYOND GRASS

    Look ma, no lawn!
    Rick Cole, May 11, 2010 (Ventura City Manager Blog)

    "The grass lawn is a staple of the American Dream. But it's a water hog and a sink for herbicides and pesticides. It requires a high level of care and gives nothing back for the birds and bees…[There is a growing trend to replace lawns with] drought-tolerant landscaping… xeriscaping or dry landscaping…Sounds dreary, but can be gorgeous.

    "Our family did it after we moved to our old Spanish bungalow…[New neighbors] turned out to be the entrepreneurs who run the local…landscape design and installation firm…[who enthusiastically endorsed] an interest in replacing the St. Augustine lawn with California natives…[M]aintenance [is] no more than for a lawn -- and more forgiving (you can neglect a native garden longer than a lawn…)"


    From the Rick Cole blog (click to enlarge)

    "…Like most projects [the design] evolved along the way. When the lawn was gone and the new plants were in the ground, I decided it looked bare and we needed a tree in front of our breakfast room window…I was keen for a mesquite tree…[but was talked into] an olive tree…We made the mistake almost every homeowner makes…[The plants] look so dinky in those little five gallon plastic pots. It's hard to resist adding too many varieties too close together. And… it [is] hard to resist bringing home a few more and looking for room to squeeze them in…

    "As hummingbirds, butterflys and bees flocked to our little oasis…Sunset Magazine [came] out to write a little feature called
    Lawnless in Ventura. Several other neighbors in surrounding blocks have made the change, borrowing ideas and making their own distinctive statements in the sea of flat lawns."

    From Sunset Magazine (click to enlarge)

    "There are all sorts of resources for replacing some or all of your front [or back] lawn…[N]ative plants don't need herbicides and pesticides (which are washed into our nearby ocean.)…Surfrider has a great website on how to get started in converting to ocean-friendly landscaping…[and local] water agencies also boost…water wise gardening…

    "Scrapping your lawn requires some up front thought, work and expense. But…The American Dream is not confined to green lawns. It comes in all sorts of sizes, colors and shapes -- and it can be a unique, delightful and sustainable statement about what we'd each like to see in our dreams of the good life."

    Sunday, May 23, 2010

    EFX OF ENERGY/CLIMATE BILL

    Study Says American Power Act Will Work
    May 21, 2010 (Sustainable Business)

    "The Peterson Institute for International Economics released the first comprehensive study of American Power Act proposed last week by Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), finding that it would create 220,000 and cut greenhouse gas emissions 22% below 2005 levels by 2020.

    "Assessing the American Power Act employs the Department of Energy's National Energy Modeling System to forecast the legislation's economic, employment, energy security, and environmental impact through 2030…"

    click to enlarge

    "…[It] would significantly alter the way the United States produces and consumes energy. The share of total energy demand met by fossil fuels would fall from 84% today to 70% in 2030. Renewable and nuclear energy would grow from 8% each of US energy supply today to 16% [and] 14% respectively in 2030…[It also] would reduce US oil imports by 33% to 40% below current levels and 9% to 19% below business-as-usual by 2030…cut US spending on imported oil by $51 to $93 billion per year and, by lowering global oil prices, reduce [2030] oil producer revenues by $263 to $436 billion annually…

    "…The Act would establish an economy-wide carbon price starting at $16.47 per ton in 2013 and growing to $55.44 dollars per ton in 2030, reducing greenhouse gas emissions from covered sources 22% below 2005 levels by 2020 and 42% by 2030."


    click to enlarge

    "…[It] prompts $41.1 billion in annual electricity sector investment between 2011 and 2030, $22.5 billion more than under business-as-usual. This stimulates US economic growth and job creation in the first decade, increasing average annual employment by about 200,000 jobs.

    "…By pricing carbon, the American Power Act raises the price of fossil fuels for businesses and consumers. Households see an average 3% increase in electricity rates and 5% increase in gasoline prices between 2011 and 2030. Energy efficiency improvements largely offset these energy price increases--households see somewhere between a $136 increase and a $35 decrease in average annual energy expenditures, depending on future improvements in vehicle efficiency."

    MORE COSTS OF COAL

    Study: Missouri, Illinois spent $2.6B to import coal
    May 21, 2010 (St. Louis Business Journal)

    "Illinois sent $1.49 billion out of state to pay for the coal that generated its energy in 2008, according to [Burning Coal, Burning Cash; Ranking the States that Import the Most Coal] from a nonprofit that promotes environmental concerns. Missouri sent $1.13 billion out of state, the report said.

    "That’s because more than 94 percent of the coal used by Illinois power plants in 2008 was imported, and more than 99 percent of the coal used by Missouri was imported —primarily from Wyoming for both states…The
    Union of Concerned Scientists] report says states would benefit from spending more money on local renewable energy technology and energy efficiency programs."

    click to enlarge

    "The state of Missouri is the most dependent on net imports as a share of total state electricity use, at 82 percent…Missouri spent about 22 cents a person on ratepayer-backed electricity efficiency programs in 2007, but cutting annual energy use by 1 percent could save consumers $30 million and keep the state from having to send as much as $13 million out of state in the first year.

    "Renewable energy sources, particularly wind and bioenergy, could generate about nine times Missouri’s 2008 electricity needs, the report said."


    click to enlarge

    "Illinois was the 14th most dependent on total net imports. The state was one of the top coal-producing states in 2008, with 32.9 million tons produced…Illinois makes the list of 10 most-dependent states for tonnage of imports, coming in fourth, but not for expenditures because almost all its imports come from relatively low-cost mines in Wyoming.

    "Illinois spent 6 cents per person on ratepayer-funded electricity efficiency programs in 2007…But Illinois has adopted a strong energy efficiency resource standard…and utilities must rely on renewable energy to supply 25 percent of the state’s power by 2025."

    CALIF SUN EXPERIMENT

    All Eyes on California as State Considers Energized Feed-in Tariff
    Bettina Weiss, May 2010 (PV Group)

    "Representing 60% of the total grid connected PV demand in the United States, California is increasingly seen as one of the most critical solar markets in the world. Even without the passage of federal energy legislation in Washington, favorable policy actions in California could help US demand reach as high as 4GW in 2012, up from the 2009 level of less than 700MW, to become the world’s largest solar PV market.

    "Consequently…
    [the California Solar Energy Industries Association (CALSEIA) effort] to re-energize current California Feed-in Tariff (FIT) legislation, could have a significant impact on the solar energy market in US and the world."

    click to enlarge

    "CALSEIA is urging the California Public Utilities Commission to implement SB 32, a feed-in tariff bill enacted in 2009, with “PV Adder” pricing which would result in an additional 750 megawatts of new renewable generation in California. Last year, SB 32 was passed utilizing a Market Price Referent (MPR) [based on natural gas market prices]…With natural gas prices reaching 10 year lows…California’s FIT has failed to create a meaningful incentive for solar power in the State.

    "… CALSEIA released
    a study on FIT pricing showing that the value of renewable generation is between 9 and 16 cents over the wholesale price of natural gas generation. The PV Adder pricing is based on several factors, including avoided distribution and transmission costs, air quality and health benefits, and contribution to State-mandated renewable energy credits. The analysis demonstrates that only by accounting for these factors could the MPR rate meet the requirements for ‘ratepayer indifference’, recognizing the value of the energy and its attributes on a market value basis…"

    click to enlarge

    [Senator Negrete-McLeod (D-Chino), author, SB 32;] “The Commission needs to take action now to implement SB 32…There’s no reason to delay and plenty of important reasons to move ahead…The Feed in Tariff will help to bring clean power to California and jobs to people who need them now.”

    "…[ Advancing a Sustainable Solar Future] advocated the use of feed-in tariffs as the best policy tool available to encourage solar energy and provided a set of recommended best practices…[including] technology differentiation, generation cost-based rates sufficient to spur demand, well-defined purchase and interconnection requirements, and fixed price and long-term payments…SB 32 with Market Price Referent based on wholesale price of natural gas generation alone failed the best practice of cost-based rates sufficient to spur demand. Since California has adopted [the plan]…little demand has been created…"

    WHAT WIND CAN DO FOR TEXAS

    Texas Study Finds Substantial Economic Benefits and Consumer Savings from Wind Power and CREZ Transmission Plan
    Dr. Ray Perryman, May 20, 2010 (The Perryman Group)

    "The typical Texas residential consumer is expected to potentially save $160 to $355 annually in electricity bills, once new transmission lines are completed to deliver wind power throughout the state, according to a study released today from The Perryman Group. Investment in new wind turbines and the Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ) transmission lines will help power the State of Texas...

    "In addition, the combined investment in new wind turbines and these transmission lines will create $30 billion in economic gains, employ thousands and bring in almost $2 billion in additional state and local taxes. Also, Texas’ CREZ investment is expected to help the state annually conserve approximately 17 billion gallons of water, reduce carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 16 percent and reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 13 percent."


    click to enlarge

    "Several Texas university economists endorsed the methodology and results of the study, which measures the likely economic impact of the CREZ transmission investment, as well as the anticipated doubling of available wind power available to Texas customers by 2013.

    "Because wind turbines do not pay for fuel, their cost of operation does not increase the more they are used. So, as more wind power becomes available on the market, it has a greater influence on wholesale market prices...[lowering the] overall cost of electricity...[Reductions] for residential, commercial and industrial customers...exceed the long-term cost of the CREZ investments. This effect already has been seen in the West Texas wholesale market for electricity…"


    click to enlarge

    "...[There will also be] sizable positive economic impacts [from]...Construction and development of the new transmission infrastructure and the wind turbines required to achieve the newly expanded capacity...Ongoing maintenance of the transmission facilities and wind turbines, royalty payments to landowners, and cost savings stemming from improved fuel diversity...[and]Potential economic development benefits associated with solidifying Texas’ position at the forefront of renewable energy.

    "Currently, Texas is home to almost one-third of the nation’s wind generation capacity. Within three years, the completed CREZ transmission facilities will make available more than 18,000 MW, stimulating economic development and delivering clean energy to Texans throughout the state…"

    Wednesday, May 19, 2010

    OIL MAKES LANDFALL

    Heavy oil hits Louisiana shore, enters sea current
    Matthew Bigg (w/Deborah Zabarenko, Jane Sutton, Pascal Fletcher, Anna Driver, Chris Baltimore, Jeff Mason, Ed Stoddard, Pascal Fletcher and Todd Eastham), May 19, 2010 (Reuters)

    "The first heavy oil from a giant Gulf of Mexico spill [has] sloshed ashore in fragile Louisiana marshlands… and part of the mess entered a powerful current that could carry it to Florida and beyond.

    "The developments underscored the gravity of the situation as British energy giant BP Plc raced to capture more crude gushing from a ruptured well a mile (1.6 km) beneath the surface. The spill is threatening an ecological and economic disaster along the U.S. Gulf Coast and beyond…"


    From Oilism.com (click to enlarge)

    "The marshes are the nurseries for shrimp, oysters, crabs and fish that make Louisiana the leading producer of commercial seafood in the continental United States and a top destination for recreational anglers. The United States has already imposed a large no-fishing zone…Meanwhile, the U.S. government's top weather forecaster said a ‘small portion’ of light sheen from the giant oil slick has already entered the Loop Current, which could carry the oil down to the Florida Keys, to Cuba and even up the U.S. East Coast.

    "…[This] environmental disaster… could eclipse the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska…BP said it is now siphoning about 3,000 barrels (126,000 gallons/477,000 liters) a day of oil, out of what the company estimated was a 5,000 barrels (210,000 gallons/795,000 liters) a day gusher [and outside estimates put much higher]…BP could begin injecting mud into the well as early as Sunday in a bid to permanently plug the leak…"


    From DeepSeaNews,com (click to enlarge)

    "Florida's tourism gained a respite when tar balls found on Keys beaches were shown not to come from the Gulf of Mexico oil leak, but officials said the $60 billion-a-year industry was already taking a beating from the month-old spill.

    "To the relief of Florida officials, the Coast Guard said laboratory tests had shown that 50 tar balls found this week on the Lower Keys…were not from the Gulf spill…Local tourism authorities said damage had already been inflicted…The spill has also prompted rare talks between U.S. and Cuban officials in Havana, with forecasters predicting that oil could reach Cuban shores…Wildlife and environmental groups accused BP of holding back information on the real size and impact of the growing slick…"

    UTILITIES USING SUN

    2009 Top Ten Utility Solar Rankings
    May 19, 2010 (Solar Electric Power Association)

    "SEPA’s third annual Utility Solar Rankings report highlights the growing importance of utilities to diversification of the nation’s energy portfolio with more clean energy sources, including solar electricity. The Top Ten utilities’ solar megawatts grew 66% from 2008 to 2009, and they represented an estimated two-thirds of the nation’s solar installations in 2009. This growth can be partly attributed to the emerging trend of utility-scale and utility-owned projects…

    "This growth has been fueled by significant price declines in solar installations – on the order of 40% or more in the last two years – and this change will continue to drive both customer solar market activity and spark or accelerate internal utility interest…"


    click to enlarge

    "…[1] The ten utilities with the most solar integrated into their grid…are still a focal point for the nation’s solar growth. The Top Ten Utilities’ solar megawatts grew from 192 megawatts (MW) added to the grid in 2008 to 279 MW in 2009, a 66% growth…[2] …The Top Ten Utilities’ share of the overall survey megawatts dropped from 88% in 2008 to 80% in 2009…showing a diversity of activity…[3]…2009 marked the beginning of change in market dynamics…[S]everal centralized or aggregated distributed solar projects…were built or began construction and several utilities…were directly involved in owning new solar projects. Installations on the utility side of the meter increased 267% from around 18 MW in 2008 to 65 MW in 2009 and made up 19% of the survey’s total, up from 9%…

    "Once again, Pacific Gas & Electric (CA) topped the annual solar megawatts rankings with 85 MW installed in 2009, but was followed closely by Southern California Edison (CA) with 74 MW…an unprecedented 131% growth…Public Service Electric & Gas (NJ) moved up two spots to number three…Five of the Top Ten Utilities were from California…[Some of the utilities] were driven by distributed solar projects…[and others] can attribute their growth, in part, to the construction of new centralized PV plants. This trend that will continue in 2010…"


    click to enlarge

    "Solar megawatts integrated into each utility’s grid do not paint the entire picture. The rankings also reflect solar watts-per-customer to provide a measure of relative solar activity. Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative (AZ) emerged as the number one solar utility per customer in 2009 with 56 watts/customer, followed by Maui Electric (HI), Hawaii Electric Light (HI), the City of Santa Clara (CA), and Consumers Energy (MI)… With one exception, these utilities’ portfolios were entirely driven by distributed projects and were customer based…[O]nly three of the Top Ten Utilities were from California…

    "These rankings snapshots of the annual solar megawatts and solar watts-per-customer paint a picture of utilities’ increasing involvement in the expanding solar market. Utilities in these Top Ten rankings continue to have a strong national and/or regional influence in their respective solar markets. However, as the number of utilities influencing their local solar markets increases, through a combination of consumer-, industry-, and utility-driven projects, the focus may be moving outside of this list…"

    SUN & WIND RECYLE WATER

    Harnessing Sun and Wind Energy for Water Treatment
    John Young, May 19, 2010 (Environmental Protection)

    "…American Water set a goal to lower its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per volume of water produced by 16 percent by the year 2017…Considering that we treat, pump and deliver 1 billion gallons of water a day, the goal is significant…A large portion of the reduction will come from increasing pump efficiencies, but 6 percent (37 percent of emissions reduced) will be achieved by increasing the use of renewable energy sources – either generated onsite or purchased.

    "In 2005, the company launched its use of alternative energy by investing in solar technology for the Canal Road Water Treatment Plant in Somerset, N.J., and enrolling in wind power for the Yardley Water Treatment Facility in Yardley, Pa…[B]oth have achieved ecological benefits and cost efficiencies beyond original projections."


    click to enlarge

    "…New Jersey American Water chose to invest in owning the [solar] system…[and] installed a ground-mounted dual-array photovoltaic (PV) system at its 80-million-gallon-per-day (mgd) Canal Road facility…The PV system, the second-largest ground-mounted system east of the Mississippi River, includes 3,718 solar modules, supporting steel structures, wiring, two 225 kWac inverters and one 100kWac inverter, revenue-grade metering and an Internet-based data-acquisition system…

    "The first phase of the project was constructed for approximately $1.6 million, after a $1.9 million rebate from the Clean Energy Program. The solar panels make up about two-thirds of the overall capital cost. The balance is for other equipment — inverters, transformers, AC and DC disconnects, Internet data-acquisition system, and wiring and conduit — and includes engineering, installation labor, and overhead costs. Phases two and three cost $500,000 and $640,000 after rebates, respectively. New Jersey American Water recouped its investment in less than five years.

    "The system, which supplements 20 percent of the peak usage power needed to run the plant, reduces energy usage by 817,000 kilowatt-hours of AC a year. This prevents 1,875 pounds of nitrogen oxide, 3,927 pounds of sulfur dioxide and 1,115,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from being emitted into the air…equivalent to planting 125 acres of tree seedlings or preserving 5.6 acres of land from deforestation…[T]he system allows New Jersey American Water to sell [$553,000 of] tradable, solar-specific Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) [in 2009]…thereby reducing their overall costs…"


    click to enlarge

    "Pennsylvania American Water committed to operate its 6-mgd Yardley Water Treatment Plant with 100 percent pollution-free electricity by enrolling in a wind power program…Offered by the local electricity service provider, PECO, the PECO WIND program provides electricity using state-of-the-art windmills, as supplied by wind energy developer, Community Energy, Inc…

    "Through this program, the company purchases 1,603,200 kWh of green power annually to power the entire facility, which is the environmental equivalent of planting more than 119 thousand trees or not driving 1.5 million miles each year…[T]he commitment to wind power didn’t result in cost savings but did help the facility become more efficient. The company found additional cost savings to offset the $0.02 per kWh increase in the plant’s electric bill…[E]nrolling in a wind energy program is ideal for smaller utilities that want to commit to greener operations but can’t undertake the level of commitment required by solar installations…"

    TEST DRIVING VOLT, DETROIT’S 1ST PHEV

    Taking the Volt for a Test Drive; We took a pre-production Volt for a spin. Thumbs up
    Mark Boslet, May 19, 2010 (Greentech Media)

    "General Motors snuggled closer to Google… by announcing it will use Google Maps to add location-based features to its Chevy Volt mobile app…[W]ith the release of version 2.0 of the app running on Google's Android software, the smart-phone application will pinpoint the location of cars, even transmit voice-guided directions.

    "…[The app] allows owners of the upcoming Volt electric hybrid to check battery charge levels, unlock doors and start engines…The joint development with Google is clearly a feather in the cap of GM's OnStar…But the real news [is] the Volt itself. GM has been guarding details of the car's feel and handling, and it cast aside the curtain to offer test-drives to a handful of San Francisco journalists. The verdict: largely favorable…"


    From sboschert via YouTube

    "The Volt is GM's first foray into the emerging electric car market, and instead of a tiny lightweight two seater, it is a roomy-enough mid-sized vehicle in keeping with the majority of cars on the road today…

    "…It boasts respectable economy, with a 375-pound lithium ion battery from LG Chemicals capable of a 40 miles range. The 16 kilowatt hour battery has 220 cells and a GM designed heating and cooling system to preserve performance in cold and hot weather…[which] can rob a battery of its charge."


    From sboschert via YouTube

    "When it drains, a 1.4-liter, 4-cylinder gasoline powered generator kicks in…The car has a comfortable feel on the road. Its shocks are soft enough to absorb the ride and its steering is tight. Like many cars with high-efficiency electric motors, the vehicle has pep and is responsive…[GM says] it feels like a car, and it does, with the exception that it is quiet. The pleasure of leaving a parking spot with little to no noise is hard not to appreciate.

    "GM created uncertainty about the Volt by warning the production model, expected before the end of the year, will differ from the prototypes it is showing off. But Tony Posawatz, vehicle line director, [said the proptotype is representative of the production vehicle]…Posawatz did not solve the biggest mystery: the price. GM has suggested the car could cost about $30,000 after a $7,500 federal tax credit. But late summer is when the sticker will be finalized…"

    Tuesday, May 18, 2010

    OIL SPILL SPREADING

    Gulf Coast fears spreading slick, fishing ban widens
    Michael Haskins (w/Matthew Bigg, Steve Gorman, Anna Driver, Tom Brown, Jane Sutton, Richard Cowan, Tom Doggett, Ayesha Rascoe, Sarah Young, Pascal Fletcher, Jeff Mason, Ed Stoddard and Paul Simao), May 18, 2010 (Reuters)

    "Fears that oil from a massive Gulf of Mexico spill was drifting to U.S. shorelines rose…after tar balls were found in Florida, while BP faced mounting pressure to stem its leaking well…[T]he United States nearly doubled a no-fishing zone in waters seen affected by the oil gushing from the blown well, extending it to 19 percent of U.S. waters in the Gulf…

    "London-based BP, which has seen $30 billion wiped from its market value, said it was capturing an estimated 2,000 barrels per day (84,000 gallons/318,000 liters) after inserting a siphon tube into the well…That was about 40 percent of the 5,000 barrels (210,000 gallons/795,000 liters) BP estimated was leaking each day…But a new video of the well showed what appeared to be vast amounts of oil continuing to spew into the ocean…While officials have stressed the slick's limited impact on prized Gulf beaches, fisheries and wildlife, the discovery of tar balls on a Key West island resort…stoked concern that currents were greatly expanding the oil's reach…Oil debris and tar balls have been reported in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi…"


    From PigMine via YouTube

    "The appearance of new tar balls on a beach is often an indication of an oil spill…Tests were being done to confirm whether the 20 new tar balls -- they ranged from three to eight inches in diameter -- came from the BP spill, which threatens to eclipse the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill off Alaska to become the worst ecological disaster in U.S. history…[A] forecast by University of South Florida College of Marine Science experts who said part of the oil slick may reach the Keys in five to six days, and possibly Miami five days after that…

    "…[BP] has offered to pay spill-related damages, [and] estimated the bill for the cleanup at $625 million, $175 million higher than a few days ago. Analysts say costs could reach into the billions… Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told a Senate panel the government was investigating [BP’s] Atlantis oil production platform in the Gulf…Salazar also admitted that the Minerals Management Service fell short in preventing the explosion and oil spill…"


    From Federaljacktube via YouTube

    "Many experts believe oil from the Gulf of Mexico spill may have already been caught up in the powerful Loop Current curling around the Florida Peninsula, which could take it into the Keys and possibly up the East Coast…"

    [Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla):] "While I always hope for the best, this is looking like really out-of-control bad…"

    BIG WIND FOR WASH’TN STATE

    PSE to Start Construction on Lower Snake River Wind Project; 343-MW Wind Power Project Near Pomeroy, Wash., Will Generate Electricity for More Than 100,000 Homes and Create 175 Green Jobs
    May 18, 2010 (Business Wire)

    "…Puget Sound Energy announced the start of construction on Phase I of the Lower Snake River Wind Project…Washington's oldest energy utility is creating more green energy and more green jobs by pursuing federal stimulus-package funding and state incentives for using apprentice labor during construction, which improve the economics of the project for the utility and its customers.

    "The 343-megawatt (MW) Phase I project…will significantly increase PSE's total wind-power generating capacity. The utility has finalized negotiations with Siemens Energy for 149 wind turbines, rated at 2.3 MW each, for Phase I. With a generating capacity of 343 MW, the wind energy facility is expected to provide clean power for more than 100,000 homes."


    click to enlarge

    "Construction of Phase I will create up to 150 temporary jobs, with the eventual commercial operations creating as many as 25 permanent jobs…

    "PSE is building Phase I of the Lower Snake River Wind Project now, in part, to meet the utility's longer-term state renewable energy requirements…but also to protect against energy-market price volatility and the "carbon costs" government is likely to impose on utilities to address climate change…"


    click to enlarge

    "Phase I will be built near Pomeroy, Wash., on nearly 40,000 acres of leased farmland. More than 98 percent of the land will remain available for crops once the wind facility enters operation, with farmers receiving lease and royalty payments for participating in the project…PSE has also tapped Renewable Energy Systems Americas Inc. (RES Americas) for the construction of the project infrastructure…

    "PSE is finalizing development of additional phases of the Lower Snake River Wind Project, including neighboring Columbia County, where the utility currently owns and operates the 87-turbine, 157-MW Hopkins Ridge Wind Facility near the city of Dayton…In addition, PSE owns and operates the 149-turbine, 273-MW Wild Horse Wind and Solar Facility near Ellensburg, Kittitas County. PSE is recognized by the American Wind Energy Association as the nation's second-largest utility owner and operator of wind power…"

    DENVER ROOFTOP SOLAR TRIALS

    UNI-SOLAR Participates in Major Rooftop Photovoltaic Test Site in Denver
    May 18, 2010 (Globe Newswire via MarketWatch)

    "UNI-SOLAR, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Energy Conversion Devices…announced it is participating in one of the country's largest rooftop testing sites for photovoltaic (PV) modules. The test site, hosted by ProLogis Renewable Energy, is on a utility-scale rooftop in Denver, Colorado.

    "…UNI-SOLAR is the only large-scale manufacturer of lightweight, flexible thin-film photovoltaic products in the U.S…ProLogis is a leading global provider of distribution facilities, with more than 450 million square feet of roof space worldwide available for solar photovoltaic installations. UNI-SOLAR already has 4.7 MW of PV installations active, or soon to be this year, on the grid on additional ProLogis rooftops…"


    This is how they compare in the lab. ProLogis wants to know how they compare on the roof. (click to enlarge)

    "The Denver site totals 11 kWp DC of power generation capacity from 99 modules and eight different module manufacturers: Ascent Solar, First Solar, GS-Solar, MiaSole, Solyndra, Suniva, UNI-SOLAR and Xunlight. Already generating power, the initial configuration provides side-by-side comparisons of several module technologies, including monocrystalline, glass-on-glass thin film and membrane-applied thin film modules. In addition, the installation contains 16 individually monitored strings, each designed to test a certain system parameter.

    "Overall, ProLogis has solar projects installed or under construction on 32 buildings throughout France, Germany, Japan, Spain and the United States. The installations cover more than 10.6 million square feet (984,800 square meters) of roof space and total 24.6 MW…"

    BIG GEOTHERMAL BUYS MORE

    Mighty River Plans More Investment in U.S. Geothermal Projects
    Gavin Evans (w/Alex Devine and Ang Bee Lin), May 17, 2010 (Bloomberg BusinessWeek)

    "Mighty River Power Ltd., operator of the world’s largest single-turbine geothermal generating unit, has increased funding to help identify and build power projects in the U.S. and Chile.

    "…[A] $107 million investment in a $400 million, 49.9 megawatt geothermal power plant in Southern California [is] its first in the U.S. The New Zealand government- owned generator said it has also more than doubled to $250 million a fund available for projects…"


    click to enlarge

    "Mighty River is among the world’s 10 largest operators of underground steam fields. It’s investing internationally to profit from its experience building large-scale geothermal power projects, its relationships with bankers and plant manufacturers, and increasing global demand for non-polluting energy.

    "Geothermal plants tap heat from the earth to power turbines and generate electricity 24 hours a day with minimal emissions. New Zealand, Chile and the west coast of the U.S. lie on the 40,000-kilometer (25,000-mile) chain of active volcanoes that surrounds the Pacific Ocean. The zone, known as the Ring of Fire, also includes Japan and Indonesia…"


    click to enlarge

    "…[The] investment gives Mighty River a 20 percent stake in EnergySource LLC, which is building the Hudson Ranch power station in the Salton Sea geothermal region of Southern California. It will use the Fuji Electric Systems Co. machines that Mighty River has installed in New Zealand the past two years, including its 140-megawatt Nga Awa Purua plant, the world’s largest single-turbine project…

    "Mighty River runs four geothermal power plants in New Zealand and has just been granted planning approval to build a fifth. It plans to have a 70-megawatt generator operating in Tolhuaca in Chile by 2013…The Hudson Ranch plant will take about two years to build and will supply Arizona-based utility Salt River Project…The balance of the project cost is being met by EnergySource and a group of eight international banks…"

    Monday, May 17, 2010

    CAPE WIND GETS ANOTHER YES

    Cape Wind gets FAA okay
    Beth Daley, May 17, 2010 (Boston Globe)

    "The Federal Aviation Administration [has] determined… that the proposed 130-turbine wind farm in Nantucket Sound will not significantly interfere with planes or radar.

    "The determination of “no hazard” is one of the last approvals Cape Wind Associates needed for the project, which has undergone nine years of permitting review. US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar gave his final okay -- by far the most important decision for the project -- late last month."


    click thru for more info

    "Still, the FAA will require Cape Wind to pay for a roughly $1.5 million radar modification to ensure it can clearly spot planes flying above the wind farm. The company will also have to put $15 million in escrow for two years to pay for a digital radar system if the $1.5 million fix does not work…"

    There are far more mitigations for the radar issue than there are for baseless interference from recalcitrant humans. (click to enlarge)

    "The FAA has reviewed the Cape Wind project four times because each determination expires after about 18 months…[The current approving] assessment comes after the agreement by Cape Wind to make the upgrades…

    "Opponents of the project, who have said they are planning lawsuits over a variety of wind farm issues, said the decision would make air travel near the 440-foot-tall wind turbines dangerous…"

    CUTTING EDGE PV PLANT FOR NV

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid “Flips the Switch” on Amonix Concentrated Photovoltaic Solar Plant at Southern Nevada Water Treatment Facility; 308 kW (DC) CPV Plant Owned and Operated by the Southern Nevada Water Authority
    May 15, 2010 (Business Wire)

    "U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid… presided over [the opening] ceremony…at the first Concentrated Photovoltaic (CPV) solar energy plant owned and operated by the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) at its River Mountains Water Treatment Facility. Amonix, a leading supplier of CPV solar systems for sunny and dry climates, designed and manufactured the plant…

    "…Amonix announced that plans to use $5.9 million of a $9.5 million investment tax credit from the Recovery Act’s Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit awarded in 2010 to establish a new manufacturing facility in Southern Nevada are well underway, and that the facility will be open by the end of 2010. When fully operational, the facility will have an annual production capacity of 150 MW of CPV solar systems and employ 278 people in management, technical and production jobs…"


    An Amonix CPV panel with concentrating lenses (insert) (click to enlarge)

    "Charged with meeting the Las Vegas region’s growing demand for water with minimal impact on the sensitive desert environment at its River Mountains facility, SNWA partnered with Amonix to install a CPV solar plant capable of producing 308 kW (DC) of clean, renewable power – enough to power 50 medium-sized Las Vegas homes annually. The plant was completed in July 2009 and after a 10-month provisional period is now fully operational and performing as predicted.

    "The Amonix system is the company’s third installation in Nevada – first on the campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, second at the NV Energy Edward W. Clark Generating Station, and today at SNWA’s River Mountains facility…"

    S. DAKOTA WIND EYES FREE WIRES

    SD wind farms eye Big Stone transmission upgrades
    Dirk Lammers, May 17, 2010 (AP via Bloomberg BusinessWeek)

    "Transmission lines originally slated to carry coal-generated power from the scrapped Big Stone II plant could open up a new market for proposed eastern South Dakota wind farms.

    "Big Stone II's plans had called for new and upgraded high-voltage power lines in southern Minnesota to carry power to customers to the east from both the 550-megawatt coal-fired power plant near Milbank and nearby wind farms."


    Once rejected as coal transmission masquerading as wind transmission, wil Big Stone II end up as wind transmission salvaging a bad coal investment? (click to enlarge)

    "The Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator has identified about 1,900 megawatts, enough to power some 500,000 homes, of potential wind projects that could jump on board an upgraded transmission system…One project accepted into the Midwest ISO study is Dakota Wind Energy, a 300-megawatt wind farm planned for…just south of the North Dakota border….

    "…The [Big Stone II] project was canceled in November, with developers citing financing problems and the possibility of new federal carbon dioxide restrictions…The Midwest ISO, a regional power-grid agency, immediately stepped in to salvage the transmission line portion of the project."


    Something needs to be done to keep all that orange and yellow from going to waste. (click to enlarge)

    "Steve Wegman, executive director of the South Dakota Wind Energy Association, said transmission upgrades could inject new life into projects…Building wind farms without transmission lines is like building cars with no roads to drive on, he said…

    "Eric Laverty, Midwest ISO's director of transmission access planning, said although only 1,900 megawatts of projects qualified for inclusion in the study, the agency estimates that a system of upgraded lines could carry as much as 2,400 megawatts of power…Wegman said the nation hasn't made any big investments in transmission since the 1970s…"