NewEnergyNews More: July 2010

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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



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  • Wednesday, July 28, 2010


    Senate Dems, GOP squabble may sink spill bill
    Darren Goode, July 28, 2010 (The Hill)

    "Senate Democrats and Republicans appear on a collision course that would sink chances of passing oil-spill and energy legislation amid disagreements over both substance and process…Democratic leaders…[foresee] the likely failure of the package and [blame] Republicans for obstructing it and other legislation."

    [Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev):] “…[The Senate Republican approach was] as if you were in Alice in Wonderland…Black was white, up was down, sideways was vertical…It’s just too bad that we can’t have cooperation to get something done ... on a bipartisan basis…This bill, I repeat, is bipartisan — it creates jobs, and lessens our dependence on foreign oil…A pretty good combination.”

    click to enlarge

    "Republican leaders [say] they cannot support the bill in its current form — mainly due to language retroactively removing a liability cap for oil-and-gas producers — and also want assurances they can offer amendments…Reid said he would discuss amendments if an initial vote limiting debate just to proceed to the bill receives the necessary 60 votes…

    "But it does not seem likely that Reid would have enough support to start debate, given both Republican and some Democratic concerns over the liability cap issue…Since the spill and energy package is sandwiched in between consideration of small-business legislation and a debate over Elena Kagan’s Supreme Court nomination, there may only be one or two days available to debate the package…[and] Reid does not seem to have corralled all of his Democrats…"

    click to enlarge

    "[Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.)] and Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) are trying to find a compromise between the Democrats’ unlimited liability cap and the Republican idea of giving the president the authority to set liability limits based on 13 criteria, including a company’s safety record and the risk involved in an offshore drilling project.

    "Landrieu and Begich have suggested an idea — modeled after federal nuclear energy regulations — that require all oil-and-gas producers to collectively share the liability responsibility for a spill."


    AWEA Announces ‘Dismal’ Numbers for 1H 2010; The lack of support for a long-term mandate from Congress has brought the wind industry to the edge of a cliff.
    Herman K. Trabish, July 28, 2010 (Greentech Media)

    "The numbers are impressive -- but not in a good way. ‘It is dismal and getting worse,’ said American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) CEO Denise Bode about the numbers in the just-released AWEA Mid-Year 2010 Market Report...

    "It is now irrefutably obvious, according to Bode, that the failure of Congress to provide a long-term mandate for renewable energy is causing utilities across the country to choose natural gas and coal over wind…The 700 megawatts (MW) of new installed capacity in the second quarter brought the wind industry's 2010 total to 1,239 MW, a remarkable 71 percent below the 2009 number and 57% below the 2008 number."

    click to enlarge

    "The report comes just as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is poised to bring forward a starkly scaled back energy bill proposal for debate. The renewable energy industries and a broad coalition of supporters ranging from the United Steelworkers to the Union of Concerned Scientists are up in arms because Reid's legislation does not include a Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) mandating that utilities obtain a portion of their power from renewable sources over the next ten years…[Bode said the] wind industry needs an RES to provide a long-term market signal to manufacturers and developers…

    "…There are over 5,000 MW of new wind power capacity under construction right now…largely because Recovery Act funding…[but there is little] pipeline development behind that…[like the industry] is on a cliff…"

    click to enlarge

    "AWEA expects the total for 2010 to be 25 percent to 45 percent below 2009…[suggesting] an even worse 2011 if Congress does not act. Though Recovery Act provisions held the industry up in 2009, only longer-term policy supports will alter the current pattern of faltering new demand, disappearing new power purchase agreements (PPAs) from utilities, and dwindling plans for new manufacturing facilities.

    "The pending Senate legislation…is not expected to contain an RES, despite the fact that both former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD), now working as a consultant to AWEA, and Bode refute Reid's claim that there are not the filibuster-breaking 60 votes to pass it…[Bode also] challenged the speculation that the 60 votes backing an RES might conflict with obtaining 60 votes for the Reid bill…AWEA had no comment on the speculation that both parties are happy to keep the renewables…[as] a campaign issue in the upcoming November midterm elections."


    Car Makers Eye Toshiba Tech Breakthrough; New Battery Charges to 90% of Capacity Within Five Minutes
    July 28, 2010 (CBS News)

    "…Toshiba’s Super-Charge Ion Batteries, which reportedly lose hardly any capacity after thousands of charges, could be coming to cars next year.

    "…In 2007 Toshiba announced the creation of the SCiB, and unveiled the prototype the next year. It lasts 5,000 to 6,000 cycles as opposed to the 500 for standard lithium-ion batteries, and charges to 90 percent of capacity within five minutes. Earlier this month, the company announced it has been working with car maker Mitsubishi on electric vehicle batteries, and could be making SCiBs for cars staring next year."

    click to enlarge

    "…For EV applications Toshiba has developed a new anode material and a new electrolyte to improve safety and rapid recharging…[T]he long life will promote reduction in the waste that results from battery replacement, reducing the impact on the environment."

    click to enlarge

    "…[C]urrent batteries‘ limitations have held back electric car development. But [Toshiba] is far from the only one working up new ideas for Japan’s car makers…Panasonic Corp. supplies batteries for Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s top automaker, while NEC Corp. does it for Nissan Motor Co. Sanyo Electric Co., a Panasonic subsidiary, has deals with Volkswagen AG, Honda Motor Co. and Toyota.

    "Presuming Toshiba succeeds in scaling up the SCiB, the company wants to use the idea not only in cars, but also in smaller vehicles like electric motorcycles and in large projects like storage on the power grid, another place where the lack of a worthy battery system has held back the development of renewable energy sources…"


    U.S. Senators Introduce Renewable-Energy-Storage Legislation
    21 July 2010 (Renew Grid)

    "U.S. Sens. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Jeanne Shaheen, D.-N.H., have introduced legislation to offer tax credits for the creation of renewable-energy storage. The Storage Technology of Renewable and Green Energy Act of 2010 (STORAGE 2010) would offer up to $1.5 billion in tax credits to support grid-connected energy-storage projects.

    "The act offers a tax credit for three categories of energy-storage facilities and will also provide tax credits to businesses and homeowners who install energy storage on their own properties to help serve their own energy needs or capture energy from on-site renewable-energy generation…[It] will provide a 20% tax credit of up to $30 million for storage systems connected to the electric grid…a 30% tax credit of up to $1 million to businesses and a 30% tax credit for homeowners for on-site storage projects…"

    click to enlarge

    [Senator Jeff Bingman (D-NM):] "The increased use of these cutting-edge storage technologies is essential to modernizing our electrical grid and to meeting our clean energy goals…Expanding our storage capacity will improve the efficiency, flexibility and reliability of our electric grid, allowing us to wring the most power out of it, while adding large amounts of new renewable energy resources like wind and solar."

    "The legislation is a revision of S.1091, the [2009] STORAGE ACT - a bill Wyden introduced in the last session of Congress."

    Tuesday, July 27, 2010


    Reid unveils pared-down energy and oil bill
    Frederic J. Frommer (w/Ken Thomas), July 27, 2010 (AP)

    "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid unveiled a draft of energy and oil spill legislation…a far less sweeping bill than the cap on carbon emissions he had hoped for…[because] he didn't have the votes to pass it.

    "The new bill would require oil companies to pay higher fees into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund and would eliminate the $75 million cap on economic liability from an oil spill. It calls for spending $5 billion for the Home Star program, which would provide rebates to consumers to encourage energy efficiency upgrades. It also would fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund."

    No amount of liability insurance can cover these costs. (click to enlarge)

    "The American Petroleum Institute assailed the elimination of the cap on economic liability…[claiming high liability costs] would force American companies out of U.S. waters…

    "On vehicles, the measure has portions of an electric vehicle bill introduced by Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., including $400 million to encourage the deployment of electric cars in certain cities and a competition run by the federal government to develop a battery that will power a car for 500 miles on a single charge. The bill also encourages federal agencies to buy electric drive vehicles for their fleets and offers incentives to retrofit heavy-duty vehicles for natural gas."

    How can there not be 60 votes for something with polling numbers like these? (click to enlarge)

    "The bill does not include a renewable electricity standard, despite a last-minute push by some senators, businesses and clean energy advocates. Such a standard would require utilities to produce a certain percentage of their energy from renewable sources…[Reid said] supporters' contention that there were the necessary 60 votes for the renewable electricity standard [was wrong]…

    "On oil, the bill would speed up claims processes for people harmed by spills and would overhaul government regulation of offshore drilling to prevent conflicts of interest...Reid plans to introduce the bill on Wednesday and bring it to the floor later this week, with an eye on a vote next week…"


    Wind farm 'mega-project' underway in Mojave Desert; The Alta Wind Energy Center — with plans for thousands of acres of turbines to generate electricity for 600,000 Southern California homes — officially breaks ground…
    Tifffany Hsu, July 27, 2010 (LA Times)

    "It's being called the largest wind power project in the country, with plans for thousands of acres of towering turbines in the Mojave Desert foothills generating electricity for 600,000 homes in Southern California…

    "The multibillion-dollar Alta Wind Energy Center has had a tortured history, stretching across nearly a decade of ownership changes, opposition from local residents and transmission infrastructure delays…[and] is officially breaking ground in the Tehachapi Pass, a burgeoning hot spot for wind energy about 75 miles north of Los Angeles. When completed, Alta could produce three times as much energy as the country's largest existing wind farm…"

    Tehachapi wind (photo by NewEnergyNews - click to enlarge)

    "The project will probably be a wind power bellwether, affecting the way renewable energy deals are financed, the development of new electricity storage systems and how governments regulate the industry…The project's developer, New York-based Terra-Gen Power, plans to coax three gigawatts of power from the wind farm over the next eight years. It has led some industry experts to predict that California might have a shot at reclaiming the wind energy crown from competitors such as Texas and Iowa…

    "Southern California Edison agreed in 2006 to buy 1,550 megawatts of electricity from Alta over 25 years, one of the heftiest power purchase agreements ever signed. That would be enough energy to serve 275,000 homes and is twice the capacity of the country's largest existing wind farm, a 735-megawatt project in Texas…Terra-Gen is building Alta as a collection of wind farms; it has finished funding and started building the first group of five…290 turbines will be scattered across 9,000 acres, most of which are leased from private landowners."

    Transmission is the key to growth. (photo by NewEnergyNews - click to enlarge)

    "As early as next year…the turbines could start producing enough power to boost California's wind energy output more than 25% while creating thousands of local jobs…By 2015, another batch of farms, with roughly 300 turbines…is expected to be producing an additional 830 megawatts…[Initially conceived] in the early 2000s…[permitting] took about three years…

    "Edison has been making headway on its Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project, connecting alternative-energy projects such as Alta to electricity-hungry city centers. The utility is trying to meet a statewide goal for investor-owned utilities to use renewable energy for 33% of all power supplied to customers by 2020…Previously tight-fisted investors also are more confident about financing renewable energy projects. Terra-Gen recently secured $1.2 billion in funding for the Alta project…the Alta project seems to be on track…"


    Southern California Edison Awards 36 Contracts for Utility-Scale Solar Rooftop Project
    July 27, 2010 (Southern California Edison)

    "Southern California Edison (SCE) awarded 36 contracts to independent power producers for a total of nearly 60 megawatts from photovoltaic solar panels that will produce emission-free energy for SCE customers. The panels will be installed on 31 unused rooftops and five ground-mount sites in SCE’s service territory.

    "…[SCE’s] solar rooftop project…calls for a total of 500 megawatts of solar generating capacity, most of it on otherwise unused large warehouse rooftops. Half of the 500 megawatts will be from independent power producers who respond to SCE’s request for offers under competitive solicitations; the remaining 250 megawatts will be owned and operated by SCE. It is expected that this project will create about 1,200 jobs for Southern Californians… The [36 new ] contracts… are the first executed under the competitive solicitations for independent power producers…"

    Installing rooftop solar (photo from SCE - click to enlarge)

    "SCE believes that its solar rooftop project will be a boon for the solar industry and consumers alike, with the resulting cost per unit significantly more cost effective than more common residential photovoltaic installations…[T]his could help drive down installation costs…When complete, the solar panels will cover an area totaling 4 square miles…The total power production will rival a utility-scale power plant, enough electricity to serve 325,000 average homes…SCE has already installed panels on three rooftop warehouses in California’s Inland Empire that are delivering – or are in line to deliver – electricity to the grid."

    Installing rooftop solar (photo from SCE - click to enlarge)

    "SCE is the nation’s leading utility for renewable energy. In 2009, SCE delivered 13.6 billion kilowatt hours of renewable power to its customers, about 17 percent of its total power portfolio."

    [Marc Ulrich, Renewable and Alternative Power vice president, SCE:] “These contracts make significant strides toward distributed renewable generation for one of the most innovative solar programs in the country…We’re working to help California meet its Million Solar Roofs goal and supply even more renewable energy to our customers where and when it’s most needed, without the added time and expense to construct major new transmission facilities.”


    Report: California's Prop 23 Would Jeopardize Cleantech Sector
    26 July 2010 (Renew Grid)

    "Investment and business leaders have warned that passage of California's Proposition 23 (Prop 23) this November would jeopardize a half-million cleantech jobs, 12,000 companies and billions of dollars of private investment in California. Moreover, it would signal an end to the state's global leadership in clean technology as nations in Asia and Europe surge ahead."

    "The report - Going Backward - issued by the Clean Economy Network (CEN), says Prop 23 would suspend efforts to increase electricity produced from renewable sources, stifle energy-efficiency standards for homes and office buildings, and prevent cleaner tailpipe emissions. More than 250 businesses and organizations across the state have signed up to oppose Prop 23, which seeks to overturn Assembly Bill 32, a law passed in 2006 that triggered an explosion of cleantech investment and entrepreneurship by requiring a transition from polluting sources of energy to clean ones."

    From NRDCflix via YouTube

    [Jeff Anderson, executive director, CEN:] “Prop 23 should be viewed for what it is: a mechanism for regulatory and investment uncertainty that only benefits its backers - big out-of-state oil companies Valero and Tesoro - while putting the economic health of the rest of California at risk…Sending jobs and investment overseas is a no-win proposition for all Americans and must be defeated.”

    "According to the report, private equity and venture capital investors are already feeling skittish with the uncertainty created by Prop 23, fearing that much-needed stable policies and clear market signals… would disappear. Consumers in California are also put at risk, because it would increase healthcare costs due to continued air pollution, as well as raise electricity bills by up to 33% over the next decade…[Prop 23 also] has the potential to cause a rollback of energy and climate policies in other states…"

    Monday, July 26, 2010


    Daschle, Reid differ on 60-vote prediction for green-power mandate
    Darren Goode, July 26, 2010 (The Hill)

    "Former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle and other advocates of a first-time [renewable electricity standard (RES) mandating a minimum use of renewable sources] insist they have enough votes to include it in an upcoming Senate oil spill and energy package, despite Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) prediction to the contrary."

    [Tom Daschle, former Senate Majority Leader:] “We are very, very confident that we’ve got the votes… We can virtually guarantee there’ll be an amendment offered…”

    How could any self-respecting politician see these numbers and be against an RES? (click to enlarge)

    "…[Reid] may only allow a limited number of amendments to get something passed in a short available window on the floor and avoid other contentious provisions that could sink the broader bill… [Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association] said they have done a whip count, which Daschle said was based off support for an RES that was included in a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee bill that passed with bipartisan support last year. That mandate would require electric utilities to produce 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources like wind, solar and geothermal by 2021. A quarter of that mandate could be met through energy efficiency measures.

    "Republicans have wanted that to include both existing and new nuclear production, while Southeastern lawmakers in both parties have argued their region lacks the resources necessary to meet a national mandate. Green groups, meanwhile, have been calling for a tougher standard than the one in the Senate energy panel’s product…Daschle — who co-wrote a recent op-ed with former Senate Republican leader Bob Dole advocating an RES — said Reid may have confused whether there are 60 votes for a mandate itself and whether there are enough votes overall for the spill and energy package…"

    Is there any need for jobs these days? (click to enlarge)

    "He said the best chance to get the RES through is as part of the larger spill and energy strategy, and acknowledged it is unlikely a stand-alone RES would be moved on the Senate floor after the upcoming August recess…Daschle, Bode and others — including Iowa Gov. Chet Culver (D) — stressed that the Senate has to act on the mandate to save jobs and the future of the wind and other industries in the United States…

    "Bode said investment in wind energy in the U.S. has taken a sharp decline this year and that the country has fallen behind both China and the European Union. “We’re going backwards, we’re not going forwards,” she said."


    Md., Del. govs ask feds to join wind energy pact
    Randall Chase, July 22, 2010 (AP via Bloomberg BusinessWeek)

    "The governors of Delaware and Maryland asked the federal government…to join their states in buying offshore wind energy as part of an effort to establish a wind energy manufacturing industry in the mid-Atlantic region.

    "Govs. Jack Markell and Martin O'Malley sent a letter to President Barack Obama asking that he direct federal agencies to join Delaware and Maryland in offering to purchase one gigawatt, or 1 billion watts, of energy from offshore wind turbines…"

    D.C. is at the heart of the nation's richest wind supply. (click to enlarge)

    "Delaware officials already have authorized utilities to enter into long-term contracts for 230 megawatts of electricity from a planned wind farm off the coast of Rehoboth and Maryland has offered to buy 55 megawatts from the proposed 450 million watt project…[but] a commitment to purchase one gigawatt of wind energy could…[create] a manufacturing base and supply chain that could bring up to 20,000 jobs to the region…

    "Markell said the project planned about 12 miles off Rehoboth Beach is "absolutely feasible" as currently planned, but that a large power purchase agreement would lead to more job creation in the region by renewable energy businesses…[T]he wind energy that would be purchased could power federal facilities in and around the nation's capital, including military installations in Delaware and Maryland."

    Maryland, almost adjacent to D.C., has a measured abundance of offshore wind. (click to enlarge)

    "Given its current size, the planned offshore wind farm would have to be expanded or supplemented with another facility in order to reach gigawatt capacity…Delaware environmental secretary Collin O'Mara said the area in which the offshore wind farm would be built is big enough to accommodate 1.5 gigawatts of generation…[composed of] 300 5-megawatt turbines…[A] Delmarva Power substation near Millsboro that is being upgraded to accommodate a regional transmission line known as the Mid-Atlantic Power Pathway, or MAPP, would be able to transfer power from the offshore turbines to the electrical grid serving the mid-Atlantic region…

    "O'Malley and Markell also called for better coordination among federal agencies on offshore wind issues and asked Obama to support legislative efforts to remove barriers to wind energy development. Among the goals they cited are increasing loan guarantees, extending production tax credits, streamlining the permitting process and allowing the General Services Administration to enter into power purchase agreements beyond 10 years…"


    Berkeley lab co-leads $122 million sunlight-to-fuel effort
    Suzanne Bohan, July 23, 2010 (Contra Costa Times via San Jose Mercury News)

    "Plants fuel the world with their ability to convert sunlight into a usable form of energy. Now, the Department of Energy is putting up $122 million to help humans capture the energy of the sun and create renewable liquid fuels through ‘artificial photosynthesis.’

    "Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena were selected to lead the ambitious research project…Its aim is to master the basic science involved, and develop applications that can be scaled up for commercial use…Nathan Lewis, a Caltech chemist…will serve as director of the sun-to-energy research collaboration, called the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis."

    click to enlarge

    "Scientists acknowledge the formidable challenge of creating tiny devices that will mimic the microscopic inner workings of one of nature's more intricate processes — photosynthesis. Plants are able to absorb sunlight, water and carbon dioxide, and in a marvel of nature's ingenuity, yield oxygen and carbohydrates that fuel most life on Earth…[I]nstead of yielding a simple carbohydrate, artificial photosynthesis would be designed to create oxygen and liquid fuels such as hydrocarbons or alcohols that could be directly pumped into vehicles, without additional, costly refinement.

    "It's not a new quest, but the modest successes thus far have been confined to basic research labs, many steps from practical applications. The techniques also sometimes have required rare, expensive materials that would make any ultimate commercial scale-up impractical. But advances in nanotechnology, a field in which the Berkeley lab excels, make the development of artificial photosynthesis far more realistic…"

    click to enlarge

    "With nanotechnology, scientists can create "nanowires" that are one-1,000th the size of a human hair, along with elements like nanocrystals. These tiny machine parts are designed to replicate photosynthesis on a scale closer to what happens inside a leaf…

    "The five-year artificial photosynthesis project will get $22 million in funding this fiscal year, and $25 million per year for the remaining four years, subject to Congressional approval…[It could] create 100 new jobs, not including construction and other contract jobs. It also engages the work of an estimated 200 scientists statewide. Other universities involved in the artificial photosynthesis hub include SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory at Stanford, UC Berkeley, UC Santa Barbara, UC Irvine and UC San Diego…"


    GM Scores Global First with New Climate Protection Technology
    Alexandra Viets, July 26, 2010 (Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development)

    "General Motors (GM) scored a global first by being the first company worldwide to introduce a climate-friendly refrigerant to replace the super greenhouse gas currently used in auto air conditioning. The new refrigerant, called an HFO, has a global warming potential of just 4 compared to over 1,400 for the current refrigerant, HFC-134a. Use of the new refrigerant will start in 2013, with Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac models sold in the U.S.

    "GM’s new refrigerant remains in the atmosphere for just 11 days…[Its maker] Honeywell calculates that the low global warming potential (GWP) and the short lifetime of its HFO achieve a 99.7 percent improvement in the climate impact of its refrigerant compared to the current HFC-134a…HFCs are considered super greenhouse gases, and are the fastest growing part of the U.S. climate emissions, estimated to grow more than 140% by 2020 compared to 4% growth for all U.S. climate emissions…"

    GM has found a replacement for a small but potent part of the problem. (click to enlarge)

    "The technology announced by GM is the culmination of more than a decade of cooperation among industry, government, and standard-setting organizations. The transition to low-GWP refrigerants is being driven by regulation in the European Union that will phase out auto air conditioning refrigerants with GWPs higher than 150 between 2011 and 2017, and similar regulation in California with the same 2017 deadline. In the United States, the improved environmental performance of the new refrigerant helps car makers achieve the 40 percent improvement in average vehicle fuel economy required by 2016. An additional incentive for a rapid refrigerant transition is the pending petition before the U.S. EPA to remove HFC-134a…

    "A proposal to phase down HFCs in the U.S. is part of the Kerry-Lieberman climate bill and the Waxman-Markey bill. The proposal is one of the few provisions with bipartisan support. The HFC phase-down could still be part of the oil spill legislation that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid plans to move in the coming days…Proposals also are pending under the Montreal Protocol to phase out the use of all high-GWP HFCs in all sectors…Phasing out high-GWP HFCs under the Montreal Protocol will provide climate mitigation of 5 to 8 billion tonnes of CO2-equivalent per year, for a cumulative total of 88 to 145 billion tonnes of CO2-equivalent by 2050…"

    Sunday, July 25, 2010


    Wind Farm Looking for South Dakota Investors; 7-turbine Jerauld County wind farm looking for South Dakota investors
    Dirk Lammers, July 23, 2010 (AP via ABC News)

    "A $23 million, seven-turbine wind farm to be built next to a larger 101-turbine project near White Lake is opening up investment opportunities for South Dakota residents.

    "The South Dakota Wind Partners farm will be built, operated and maintained by North Dakota-based Basin Electric Power Cooperative, and Basin will buy the 10.5 megawatts of electricity it will produce."

    Some states in the Midwest have already discovered the opportunity in wind. (click to enlarge)

    "The smaller farm will be built next to Basin's $363 million PrairieWinds SD1 project, which will encompass 37,000 acres…South Dakota residents can invest in the side project with a minimum of $15,000…[T]he goal is to raise $16 million…The federal government will cover the remaining 30 percent of the project's cost under a provision in the stimulus package. To qualify for the federal assistance, 5 percent of the project's construction must be completed by the end of the year.

    "The East River Electric Power Cooperative, the South Dakota Corn Growers, the South Dakota Farmers Union and the South Dakota Farm Bureau each contributed $20,000 to the effort and each is contributing three members to the board…Mike Held, chief executive of the South Dakota Farm Bureau, said wind projects have been great for the state because its wind-rich areas are often in communities that struggle with rural economic development…"

    The others will. (click to enlarge)

    "Basin will send the power to other cooperatives in the Upper Great Plains through Western Area Power Administration transmission lines…The 1.5-megawatt GE turbines are expect to start spinning by the second or third quarter of 2011…

    "South Dakota Public Utilities commissioners [recently] granted a permit for the full Basin Electric project…"


    Applied Materials To Restructure Solar Business
    Melissa Korn (w/Tess Stynes), July 21, 2010 (Wall Street Journal)

    "Applied Materials Inc…plans to restructure its energy and environmental business, a move expected to cost up to $425 million and affect 500 jobs, as the company shifts…back to profitability in fiscal 2011.

    "The restructuring is an admission that Applied Materials' previous effort to focus on cheaper but less efficient thin-film solar panel products was misplaced. Instead…it will focus on crystalline silicon solar and advanced energy, including light emitting diode technology…"

    click to enlarge

    "Applied Materials, whose traditional business is focused on making tools used by semiconductor manufacturers, entered thin-film solar panels in an attempt to take share away from devoted crystalline silicon panel makers. The business suffered mightily, though, as silicon costs plummeted and Applied Materials' core customer base of start-up companies needing full-service assistance dried up in the economic downturn…[T]here are other successful thin-film solar companies, such as First Solar Inc..."

    click to enlarge

    "Applied Materials, which recently had about 13,000 employees globally, plans to discontinue sales to new customers for some thin-film solar panel equipment. It also intends to sell its low-emissivity architectural-glass coatings line…[and] while continuing development in emerging technologies in "smart" electrochromic glass…

    "[T]he company now believes the Energy and Environmental Solutions unit's break-even point will be at or slightly below $700 million, with the company planning to cut annual operating expenses by $100 million over the next three quarters…Applied Materials will book restructuring-related charges of $375 million to $425 million, or 18 cents to 21 cents a share, including 14 cents a share in the fiscal third quarter ended June 30…"


    Offshore winds blow fast, but farm development slow; The development of offshore wind farms would drive job creation and stimulate industries such as offshore shipping and installation work.
    Kathleen Zip, June 9, 2010 (Windpower Engineering)

    "…From 2009 through 2012, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) tax credits and loan guarantees could spur 40,400 MW in new wind generating capacity…The wind energy gold rush is on…

    "But…large-scale wind U.S. power installations are land-based…Yet according to NREL, the best winds are not on land, but on the outer continental shelf (OCS) and the Great Lakes…Offshore wind development would drive job creation and elevate other industries such as offshore shipping and installation and development of marine-friendly equipment and operation and maintenance regimes."

    click to enlarge

    "Despite this, there has been little wind energy development in offshore areas. The closest an OCS wind program is to existence is Cape Wind in Nantucket Sound…[Its] 130 wind turbines [would] produce up to 468 MW…As for the Great Lakes, no offshore wind project has yet been developed…

    "[There are plans for OCS projects in] Delaware…Maryland…New Jersey…Maine…[and] Rhode Island…[that] could generate…from 3,000 to 15,000 [jobs] per project, using federal figures of 15.6 jobs created for every $1 million in renewable energy investment…[doing] everything from fabricating wind turbine components, to building and operating the interconnection grid…"

    click to enlarge

    "…In December 2009 the New York Power Authority (NYPA) released a request for proposals (RFP) to develop…[utility scale, offshore wind power project totaling about 120 to 500 MW, to interconnect with transmission grids controlled by the New York Independent System Operator] anywhere in the New York State waters of Lake Erie, or Lake Ontario, or both…[It] is the most recent offshore wind effort under way in the Great Lakes, but…[t]he most advanced is [a 20 megawatt project on Lake Erie off Cleveland] in Ohio…Another project being tentatively discussed is a proposal by Scandia Wind Offshore LLC for a 1,000 MW wind farm on Lake Michigan…

    "Many issues must still be resolved before commercial-scale wind energy projects begin operating on the OCS or in the Great Lakes… [But] the combination of government incentives, state and proposed federal renewable energy portfolio standards, and potential investment payoffs is moving offshore wind energy projects from low-profile possibilities to highly publicized opportunities..."


    Weather Bane
    Timothy Egan, July 21, 2010 (NY Times)

    "…During a stroll around the capital, I sweated through two shirts…The humidity stung…Around Capitol Hill, I could not find… the number one global warming denier, Senator James Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma. In February…during a record snowstorm, Inhofe’s family constructed a primitive igloo [to satirize the idea of climate change]…

    "The snowy winter day was followed, all too quickly, by the hottest spring in Washington history… Last month was the hottest June ever recorded worldwide, and 2010 is on course to be the warmest year since record-keeping began…"

    click to enlarge

    "In Senator Inhofe’s home state of Oklahoma, the National Weather Service issued a warning this week of “dangerous heat index values” of up to 110 degrees. A report from last month stated that, this year, “no other region has seen the variety of extreme weather” as much as Oklahoma.

    "…[Inhofe] won his senate seat in 1994 by using, as his slogan, the actual words of a cynical strategy to get people to think about anything but real issues: 'God, guns, and gays.' …[W]hen it snows, he makes fun of the consensus scientific view…But during this heat wave, nothing. On his Web site, he’s still been highlighting a winter week when 49 of the 50 states had snow on the ground. There’s another reference to his much-quoted remark that global warming 'is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.'"

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    "And the official, taxpayer-funded site devoted to the Republican position on climate change — the minority page of the Senate Environment and Public Works committee, where Inhofe is the ranking member — features a five-month-old video of Inhofe bloviating over the leaked emails of leading atmospheric scientists in England…Surely, there would be an update, based on the latest of the independent investigations…which found that “climategate” …[had] nothing to do about hard science…Inhofe did not post this update…[He] dismissed the recent heat records as a short-term phenomenon that should not be the basis for legislation.

    "Senator Inhofe should be a harmless diversion…But he is one of the lead Republican senators on climate change, and he doesn’t even believe the climate is changing..I rely on the experts, those people who’ve devoted their lives to understanding changes in the earth’s temperature, to guide political leaders…If my doctor brought me biopsy results showing cancer, I would do something about it. Inhofe would likely call the doctor an idiot, say the biopsy was a hoax and have me skip merrily to an early death…"

    Wednesday, July 21, 2010


    Google Energy's big green power purchase; Google backs wind energy with 20-year renewable power purchase
    Todd Woody, 21 July 2010 (UK Guardian)

    "Google is officially in the green energy business…[I]ts Google Energy subsidiary signed a 20-year power purchase agreement with NextEra Energy. Google will begin buying 114 megawatts of electricity from an Iowa wind farm on July 30.

    "Google, of course, cannot directly use the clean green energy generated by the wind farm; that power goes into the local grid. So Google Energy will sell the power on the regional spot market, where utilities and electricity retailers go to buy power when demand spikes and they have a shortfall. Google will use the revenue from spot market sales to buy renewable energy certificates (RECs) which will offset its greenhouse gas emissions."

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    "Many companies buy RECs in an attempt to be carbon neutral, obtaining them from third-party brokers. But by purchasing RECs directly tied to the renewable energy it is also buying, Google is getting a bigger bang for its buck."

    [Urs Hoelzle, senior vice president for operations, Google:] "By contracting to purchase so much energy for so long, we're giving the developer of the wind farm financial certainty to build additional clean energy projects…The inability of renewable energy developers to obtain financing has been a significant inhibitor to the expansion of renewable energy…[T]aking 114 megawatts of wind power off the market for so long means producers have the incentive and means to build more renewable energy capacity for other customers."

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    "In a statement on its site, Google also noted that its motivations for signing long-term renewable energy contracts are not entirely altruistic…[explaining it is protecting itself] against future increases in power prices…[because] buying green makes business sense…

    "It remains to be seen how big a green power purchaser Google will become…[It] has also invested directly in a wind project built by NextEra Energy, the biggest American wind power producer…But Dan Reicher, director of climate change and energy programs…[has said] that finding clean ways of powering Google's massive data centers led in part to the establishment of Google Energy…"


    West TN solar farm contractor announced
    July 21, 2010 (NWTN Today)

    "The State Building Commission last week approved Chattanooga-based Signal Energy as the design/build contractor for the West Tennessee Solar Farm…

    "The proposed five-megawatt, 30-acre power generation facility is part of Governor Phil Bredesen’s
    Volunteer State Solar Initiative, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and will be one of the largest solar installations in the Southeast…The Department of Economic and Community Development has contracted with the University of Tennessee [UT] to oversee planning, operation and management…"

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    "The Farm will consist of over 20,000 high efficiency silicon-based photovoltaic modules in a 5 MW configuration, expected to produce more than 7,000 megawatt hours of electricity annually…[Installation] is expected to begin in October 2010 with completion the following spring.

    "UT selected Signal Energy following a competitive request-for-proposal process…As a subsidiary of EMJ corporation, Signal Energy is the renewable energy arm of one of the nation’s largest general contractors…The Tennessee Department of Transportation will also build an education and welcome center at the Solar Farm which will serve as an educational facility for the public and students…"

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    "The Solar Farm will utilize commercially available power generation technology, but may also test new technology under real world conditions.

    "The Volunteer State Solar Initiative is a comprehensive solar energy and economic development program focusing on job creation, education, renewable power production and technology commercialization and is being established using $62.5 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding received by ECD…The Initiative consists of two components, the West Tennessee Solar Farm and the Tennessee Solar Institute at UT."


    A Good Case for Offshore Wind Farms
    July 21, 2010 (The Lynchburg News & Advance)

    "…[A] demonstration center [for offshore wind turbines] could pave the way toward making [Virginia] a leader in the production of electricity from wind…Any move toward wind energy could lessen the demand for oil — whether is comes from overseas or off U.S. shores.

    "The state made a pitch to the U.S. Department of Energy last week to develop a $60 million to $80 million demonstration center [in the Hampton Roads area] where wind turbines would undergo engineering and operational tests…[The project] would place fixed offshore wind turbines in three locations ranging from shallow to intermediate depth waters…[The Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium] promoting offshore wind energy…has found that Virginia has 'strong potential with Class 6 winds, water depths under 30 meters, and ready access to the high-voltage electric transmission grid.'"

    Virginia's richest wind assets are offshore. (click to enlarge)

    "…The project would assess how fixed wind turbines would withstand tropical storms, their impact on birds in the busy Atlantic flyway and their compatibility with the large military presence in the Hampton Roads area…The military is seeking to achieve by 2025 a goal of using 25 percent renewable energy. An even more ambitious plan has been launched by the Navy to achieve 50 percent renewable energy by 2020 for its land-based operations.

    "…[T]he demonstration would be an important part of attracting investors…[ahead of] a long [and costly] regulatory process…While the state is pursuing the offshore wind farm project, construction of the state’s first commercial wind farm continues in Highland County. The first 400-foot tall windmill will soon be visible atop Allegheny Mountain. Plans call for 19 turbines that will produce enough electricity to power 12,000 homes."

    The Consortium has carefully categorized Virginia's offshore resources. (click to enlarge)

    "Opponents of the project have forced developer Tal McBride into sticking with the wind farm proposal for 10 years — a period he said is way too long for an alternative source that is well-established in other states…Opponents deserve to be heard, but not to the point where they are simply dragging out a foregone conclusion.

    "Virginia is making a good case to the federal government for a wind project that would test turbines in a variety of settings. It could be a good step toward the production of electricity from wind power…It could also be a better substitute for the now suspect drilling of oil and natural gas off the Virginia coast line..."


    U.S. Forest Service Approves SDG&E's Sunrise Powerlink
    15 July 2010 (Renew Grid)

    "San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) has received approval from the Department of Agriculture's United States Forest Service (USFS) to move forward with construction of the approximately $1.9 billion, 120-mile Sunrise Powerlink transmission line…[It] is expected to increase the reliability… and transport renewable energy such as wind, solar and geothermal power, from remote areas in southern California's Imperial Valley to residences and businesses in the San Diego region.

    "The USFS issued a record of decision approving the construction, operation and maintenance of a 19-mile segment of the transmission line through the Cleveland National Forest..."

    click thru for more detail

    "When completed in 2012, the 500 kV Sunrise Powerlink electric 'superhighway' is expected to have the capacity to carry at least 1,000 MW of renewable power. In addition, the project will create 400 to 500 direct construction jobs and provide more than $100 million in annual energy savings.

    "SDG&E is currently working with the California Public Utilities Commission to finalize…[and] proceed…[N]on-transmission construction activities are expected to begin later this summer, while construction of the transmission line is expected to start this fall…"

    Tuesday, July 20, 2010


    Without Carbon Emissions Cuts, the 'Anthropocene' Looms as an Ugly Epoch – Study
    Lauren Morello, July 19, 2010 (NY Times)

    "Choices the world makes about whether to cut man-made carbon dioxide emissions will determine the severity of climate change over the next thousand years -- or longer, according to a new report by the country's leading scientific advisory body, the National Academy of Sciences.

    "That's because the greenhouse gas lingers in the atmosphere for hundreds or even thousands of years…
    [Climate Stabilization Targets: Emissions, Concentrations, and Impacts over Decades to Millenia]…breaks down how each additional degree of warming would affect the Earth, cataloging impacts on forests, fresh water supplies, fisheries, Arctic sea ice, sea level and agriculture…The picture it paints is stark:"

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    "Every 1 degree Celsius of warming -- roughly 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit -- would reduce rainfall in the American Southwest, the Mediterranean and southern Africa by 5 to 10 percent…Stream flow in some river basins -- including the Arkansas and the Rio Grande -- would drop by 5 to 10 percent…Yields of some crops, including U.S. and African corn and Indian wheat, would fall 5 to 15 percent…1 to 2 degrees Celsius of warming is enough to double or even quadruple the area burned by wildfires in the American West…[B]eyond 2 degrees Celsius…there would be little forested land left to fuel flames -- meaning parts of the West that are now tree-covered would transform into entirely new ecosystems."

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    "Focusing on effects of incremental rises in temperature, rather than different levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, revealed commonalities in the projections of climate models that appeared to disagree…[M]odels that attempt to project how warming will affect sea ice cover in the Arctic…[become consistent] because sea ice, like many of the other parts of the environment discussed in the report, is most sensitive to temperature change…"

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    "While the report focuses on how climate change could affect life on Earth into the far future, it also takes stock of the present…Humans have already changed climate to the point that Earth has entered a new geologic epoch, which the analysis dubs the "Anthropocene." …[E]ven if the primary human activities that produce greenhouse emissions -- cutting down forests and burning fossil fuels -- were to stop immediately, a certain amount of additional warming is already baked into the climate system."

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    "The level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has jumped from roughly 280 parts per million in preindustrial times to 390 ppm today, raising Earth's temperature roughly 0.9 degree Celsius…The seas, slow to warm, have absorbed a lot of extra heat trapped by that CO2, along with about 80 percent of CO2 emissions. But over time, that will change. As oceans start pumping some of that accumulated heat and CO2 back into the atmosphere, the CO2 emitted up until now will cause another 1 degree Celsius of warming…

    "Ultimately, whether the Anthropocene will amount to a blip in Earth's history or a major climate shift lasting "many thousands" of years depends on the choices society makes about whether -- and how much -- to curtail greenhouse gas emissions, the new report says…That requires making value judgments about the level of risk we're willing to endure -- a question that goes beyond scientific projections…"


    Marine spatial planning in Calif. sets example for new federal ocean plans
    Molly Peterson, July 19, 2010 (KPCC)

    "A presidential task force said…the United States should improve ocean policy by managing what people do in coastal waters by region, not just by activity…A growing number of scientific studies find that spatial management helps to protect ecosystems and reduce climate changing activities…

    "…[John Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy] said that with more than 100 federal regulations and orders about the ocean, it makes sense to coordinate how all federal agencies make policy in domestic waters…President Obama is expected to sign an executive order that would activate the task force recommendations. That could result in the creation of a National Ocean Council by the end of the year."

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    "Right now most federal policies toward coastal waters — more than a hundred of them — consider what people are doing one activity at a time, or one use at a time. Marine spatial planning means deciding what people can do in a part of the ocean by looking at impacts across a region.

    "…[Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality] says the plan isn't to make many new laws, but to do a better job coordinating existing ones with a National Ocean Council…[California, Oregon and Massachusetts have] adopted spatial planning in state-run waters. White House officials say nine regional groups will develop proposals for their portions of the sea in the next year or so..."


    The BLM fast track: Speeding CSP project development in the US?
    Bob Moser, 16 July 2010 (CSP Today)

    "The US Bureau of Land Management is in the early stages of rolling out a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) on a total of 24 solar energy study areas, amounting to about 700,000 acres of land. It would identify and designate land for renewable energy projects, namely solar and geothermal, but questions remain…

    "The BLM is on pace to have the draft…[done, reviewed and publicized] in December…spurred by the Obama Administration's desire to double clean energy capacity in two to three years…[P]olicymakers recognize that there are too many projects waiting in line for bureaucratic approval."

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    "While some believe a PEIS would likely benefit large-scale, shovel-ready projects, Richard Bouts of BLM's energy policy team says applicants from across the board will be thankful. BLM currently has more than 150 land-use plans across the country…Developers that had projects in the pipeline without much progress would now have a much clearer idea of how those projects should move forward…[U]ntil now, the EIS has been a learn-as-you-go process for many developers…[A]t times regulators came back with problems that few could have forecast…

    "It is debatable as to whether this new process will make federal land more attractive than private land for development. It is certainly more simple to deal with a private land owner than the government and all its regulatory requirements…BLM's goal has always been to develop a PEIS that is in line with land and environmental law, yet doesn't push public land prices too far from what the market will bear…"

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    "It is not clear yet if the PEIS will favor the growth of certain technologies in CSP. Regulation already in play in California has favored dry cooling. Analysts find it unlikely, at least in this very early stage, that specific technologies will be given the upper hand…

    "A total of 34 projects have been placed on BLM's fast track, with 14 being solar-related and the vast majority in California. The fast-track projects were chosen because it's believed they can jump through the necessary hoops and be permitted before the December deadline for stimulus bill grants."


    Geothermal power booming in Nevada; GEA expects 30-year economic output of $22.5 billion
    July 19, 2010 (Geothermal Energy Association)

    "If Nevada were a country, it would be the 9th largest producer of geothermal power in the world today, but the state is poised to climb even higher in the rankings…[T]he growth of the geothermal industry in Nevada could be worth up to $22.5 billion over the next 30 years.

    "Nevada could become the leading geothermal energy producer in the coming years if growth and production trends continue…Nevada’s 86 planned or developing geothermal power plants have the potential to add up to 3,686.4 Megawatts of geothermal power to Nevada’s energy portfolio, power for 2.6 million homes - enough to meet the electricity needs of 100% of the homes in the Las Vegas metropolitan area."

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    "Fourteen geothermal power plants are in latter stages of development in the state. These projects will immediately create an estimated 1,400 construction jobs in Nevada once groundbreaking has occurred…

    "Twenty recipients in Nevada were awarded a combined $73.6 million in Department of Energy funding, via the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and FY 08 appropriations. The infusion of ARRA funding alone into geothermal development in Nevada is expected to create roughly 1,100 jobs in the state."

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    "Nevada has also generated over $44 million from Bureau of Land Management geothermal leasing activities. This includes $4.6 million in royalties and over $49 million in bonus bids. $33 million of these funds were to be distributed to the State of Nevada and the specific counties involved.

    "The state of Nevada and geothermal counties should receive an additional $12.9 million from recent Bureau of Land Management leases. As money continues to flow in from leases and royalties, which will grow with geothermal project development, rural counties are anticipating an economic boom…[and if] all of the developing projects in Nevada come online…[they] will offset more than 23.3 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. This is equivalent to taking almost 4.5 million vehicles off the road each year…"

    Monday, July 19, 2010


    Environmental Study Finds: Projects wouldn't detract from high-desert beauty
    Richard Cockle, July 19, 2010 (The Oregonian)

    "A draft environmental study has found that four proposed wind energy projects on the north end of Steens Mountain in southeastern Oregon would have little effect on its pristine high-desert beauty…

    "Opponents, however, remain skeptical that roughly 200 wind turbines, some towering 415 feet above the juniper and sagebrush, wouldn't detract from the grandeur of the 9,733-foot fault-block mountain and its wildlife…More than 20 groups in Oregon have voiced concern about the plans…"

    Devastating to the view, aren't they? (click to enlarge)

    "…[T]he draft study was prepared by Entrix Environmental Solutions for the Bureau of Land Management…[It] says the proposed wind turbines and power lines would be visible from less than one-half of 1 percent of the 170,000-acre Steens Wilderness.

    "Columbia Energy Partners hopes to erect wind turbines on or near the mountain in four projects each generating about 104 megawatts. Entrix evaluated the $300 million Echanis Wind Project, already approved by Harney County, plus the cumulative impacts of the so-called East and West Ridge projects and the Riddle Mountain Project, all on private land…All three unapproved projects are under study by the Oregon Energy Facility Siting Council."

    If they were visible at all, they probably would ruin the view. (click to enlarge)

    "…[T]he four wind energy projects would cost about $1 billion, bring up to 150 new [construction] jobs…[and] about 12 permanent maintenance jobs per project…They would generate enough renewable energy to power more than 120,000 homes…The Echanis Wind Project alone would encompass about 10,000 acres and construction could begin early next year. The West and East Ridge projects each would be about the same size…[and start construction] in 2012 and 2013 if they get permits.

    "The environmental study made no recommendations on which of two proposed power transmission lines should serve the wind projects. One proposed route is a 29-mile configuration that parallels an existing electrical transmission route crossing the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge northwest of Steens Mountain. The other is a 46-mile configuration mostly on private land…"


    Government incentives give solar energy a boost
    Danielle Douglas, July 19, 2010 (Washington Post)

    "…Astrum Solar, which is based in Annapolis Junction, [recently] completed the installation of an 11.96 kilowatt system on the [Cohen/Gala] 1,100-square-foot house -- the largest residential system in D.C. The company says the 52 photovoltaic panels should generate 13,754 kilowatt hours of electricity a year, meeting 75 to 85 percent of the home's electricity needs…[It] is one of 500 installations Astrum has slated for completion this year…

    "About 72,939 photovoltaic systems have been installed in the United States in the past decade…[There was] a 37 percent increase in installations in 2009. Much of that expansion was attributed to an uptick in residential projects…Since its inception in 2007, Astrum has primarily installed residential and small commercial solar panel systems. To meet demand, Astrum has in the past year doubled its office and warehouse space in Maryland and upped its employee roster to include more than 75 engineers, project managers, sales consultants and installers…"

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    "…Astrum walks its customers through every part of the installation process, from pricing estimates to filing permits. One of the company's more notable services is selling homeowners' solar renewable energy credits to utilities, which can use them to comply with municipal mandates on clean power… Trading the value of their credits upfront shaved 25 percent off of Cohen and Gala's installation bill. That deduction, coupled with a 30 percent federal tax credit and a District grant that covered another 35 percent, left the family with just 10 percent of the $65,000 bill."

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    "All of the eight mid-Atlantic markets that Astrum operates in offer some form of tax incentives or rebates….[D.C.] has the most generous incentives on the East Coast. With the cost of solar installation averaging $20,000 to $40,000 depending on roof size, inducements are crucial to expanding the domestic solar industry…Stimulus funding, providing more than $271 million for solar energy investment, made it more cost-effective for homeowners to tap into the energy of the sun…[Federal grants increased business] in states like Pennsylvania and Virginia…

    "While the United States has become an important player in the global solar industry, it pales in comparison to European countries with markets that have extensive government incentives. Analysts estimate that the United States accounts for about a 15 percent market share, while Germany, the largest consumer of solar technology, averages 50 percent…[The U.S. is expected to gain market share when] the cost of supplies declines and more U.S. state governments adopt programs like the enticement-laden California Solar Initiative…[and word of mouth spreads]…"


    Is Wind Power Green?
    Cristen Conger, July 19, 2010 (Discovery News)

    "…As the U.S. energy industry inches away from reliance on fossil fuels, experts have heralded various greener technologies…And while each of those alternatives holds marked environmental advantages over dirty oil and coal, none match wind power’s squeaky clean performance…

    "Last year, [Mark Z. Jacobson, an engineer at Stanford University] and a colleague from the University of California, Davis, drafted a global blueprint for converting 100 percent of the world’s energy use to renewable sources. Wind power is leading the charge due to its minimal carbon footprint compared to energy output… [J]ust 15 percent of the land on Earth has enough wind speed capacity to meet global energy needs many times over, Jacobson said…"

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    "…U.S. energy policy calls for 20 percent of the nation’s total energy use to come from wind power by 2030, which is a modest proposal in light of its impressive potential…The actual ground space required [to power the U.S. vehicle fleet, converted to electric, with ~100,000 5-megawatt wind turbines is]… less than 2 square kilometers…That doesn’t include the spacing between turbines, but well-designed wind power systems can preserve the integrity of green space surrounding turbines and minimize any disruptions to indigenous wildlife, especially compared to habitat destruction associated with coal mining and fossil fuel drilling…

    "As wind energy technology improves, offshore turbines situated in the ocean could further reduce the total land space required for wind energy systems…Whether on land or in sea, once turbine and transmission systems are in place, wind harvesting relies on no other natural resources, such as water required to irrigate fields for ethanol manufacturing, and produces virtually zero carbon emissions…Even after wind turbines reach the end of their 30-year lifecycles, the materials can be recycled…"

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    "…[W]ind technology developments over recent decades have drastically lowered the associated costs, which is why wind energy has been the second-largest new source of electric power after natural gas for the past four years…But due to still competition from other energy sectors and a lack of a cohesive government push toward wind energy development, the U.S. has a long way to go in order to meet that goal of 20 percent wind power by 2030…

    "Meeting that marker demands a laundry list of additional efforts…including educating the public and legislators on the environmental value of wind energy, retraining manufacturers to facilitate wind energy capture and providing government incentives for building wind turbine systems…[C]onsidering wind energy’s bright green track record and power supply potential, [there is reason to be] hopeful that favorable political winds will blow in its direction…"