NewEnergyNews More: February 2016

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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  • Monday, February 29, 2016

    “FOR OUR CHILDREN’S CHILDREN”

    Leonardo DiCaprio Uses Oscar Speech to Urge Action on Climate Change; The world must “stop procrastinating” and tackle “the most urgent threat facing our species”

    Lisa Friedman, February 29, 2016 (Scientific American)

    “Leonardo DiCaprio used his Oscar acceptance speech last night to declare that climate change ‘is real’ and to blast what he called the ‘politics of greed’…DiCaprio won the Academy Award for best actor for his role in ‘The Revenant’ as a 19th-century frontiersman…‘Climate change is real; it is happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating,’ DiCaprio said…Speaking to reporters after the Academy Awards ceremony, DiCaprio said he had hoped he’d be able to bring his message about climate urgency to the millions of people watching the Oscars. He…[again expressed gratitude and] addressed the upcoming 2016 presidential elections…‘The truth is this: If you do not believe in climate change, you do not believe in modern science or empirical truths’…[He is now] working on a documentary about climate change…” click here for more

    SOLAR SHINES AS RECORDS SHATTER

    3 Big Records in Solar Energy This Week; The U.S. solar industry had a big week of record-breaking announcements.

    Travis Hoium, February 27, 2016 (Motley Fool)

    “The solar industry is now on an unstoppable growth path that could make it the most important energy source of the next century. Costs are falling, installations are growing, and technology advancements seem to be picking up speed…This week alone, there were three major solar energy records announced…[T]he U.S. solar industry installed 7.3 GW of new capacity in 2015, up 14% from a year earlier. This is nearly 20-fold from just 385 MW installed in 2009 and was the first year solar has topped new natural gas capacity additions…[First Solar] said it achieved [its ninth efficiency record since 2011] of 22.1% for a CdTe solar cell…[and] SunPower announced that its X22 panels reached an efficiency record of 22.8%...This efficiency advantage allows SunPower to generate more electricity from every rooftop or acre of solar farms, which has become a major advantage as costs have fallen…Look for the companies leading this technology advancement to be big winners as investments…” click here for more

    IS NEW YORK THE NEXT NUCLEAR DISASTER?

    Indian Point Leak Foreshadows the End of the Nuclear Age; New York could be the next Fukushima as world governments roll back nuclear power.

    David Z. Morris, February 28, 2016 (Fortune)

    “…The Indian Point nuclear power plant in New York State is leaking radioactive contaminant into nearby groundwater, and despite plant operator Entergy’s assurances that the leak has ‘no health or safety consequences,’ Governor Andrew Cuomo called earlier this month for a full investigation…The latest revelations add to a mounting list of recent accidents and problems at Indian Point…As of November of last year, Cuomo’s office actively opposed the continuing operation of Indian Point…[L]eaks have been found at as many as 75% of U.S. nuclear plants…[There is] a sharp global move away from nuclear power following 2011’s meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima Daichi reactor…[Led by Japan, countries including France and Germany have moved to] phase-outs, with Germany in 2011 pledging to phase out all nuclear power by 2022. Austria and Spain have stopped all construction on new nuclear plants. The U.S. had not constructed a new nuclear power plant in nearly twenty years when, in October of 2015, a plant in Tennessee was given the go-ahead…Nuclear plants represent huge threats to nearby areas, though the risk of a disaster at any one plant is small. While Stanford researchers have found that Fukushima’s fallout may directly cause only about 300 deaths worldwide, estimates of economic losses range from $250-$500 billion, stemming largely from the removal of 159,128 people from a zone the size of Connecticut—land which will be uninhabitable for centuries.” click here for more

    Wednesday, February 24, 2016

    NEW WIND, NEW SOLAR BEAT NEW NAT GAS IN 2015

    Almost 2/3 Of New U.S. Generating Capacity In 2015 Is From Renewables; Wind Is Largest Source Of New Capacity, Handily Beating Natural Gas…

    Ken Bossong, February 3, 2016 (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission)

    “…[New Energy] accounted for almost two-thirds (63.85%) of the 16,485 megawatts (MW) of new electrical generation placed in service in the United States during calendar year 2015…[according to the monthly Energy Infrastructure Update from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Wind] accounted for 7,977 MW of new generating capacity - or nearly half (48.39%) of all new capacity for the year. That is a third more than the 5,942 MW of new capacity [from new natural gas. Solar] placed second with 2,042 MW…FERC reported no new capacity at all for the year from nuclear power and just 15 MW from ten units of oil and only 3 MW from a single new unit of coal. Thus, new capacity from renewable energy sources during 2015 (10,525 MW) is more than 700 times greater than that from oil and over 3,500 times greater than that from coal…The share of total installed capacity from non-hydro renewables [is 9.27%]…” click here for more

    SOLAR PLUS STORAGE BREAKTHROUGH

    Half the price in half the time: solar storage innovation harnesses new energy frontier; Brisbane company Redback Technologies, backed by researchers from the University of Queensland, says it has cracked the formula for the most cost-effective solar storage system on the Australian market

    Joshua Robertson, 22 February 2016 (The Guardian)

    “…[Australia’s Redback Technologies] claims to have harnessed the power of algorithmic software and efficient design to produce [a highly] cost-effective solar storage system…Despite relying on a smaller battery than [Tesla’s] Powerwall – which is widely expected to be the catalyst for rapid growth of the solar storage market this year – Redback says…it would take an average 5.6 years to earn back [its ‘Ouija board’ system’s] $9,000 price tag through electricity bill savings, versus 11 years on the Powerwall’s $15,000 to $17,000 installation cost…[Redback is] less concerned with batteries as the cutting edge of the household solar energy market as…[with tackling the problem of how households can consume more than 25-30% of the power from] their solar panels…The Powerwall, with its Lithium battery, would take ‘self-consumption’ to 57%...The Ouija system would better that at 61% and ‘about a third less in cost’ than the Powerwall…” click here for more

    THE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES ON CLIMATE CHANGE

    What The Candidates Say About Climate Change

    February 23, 2016 (Here & Now)

    “…[Studies continue to connect extreme weather [to climate change caused by human-produced greenhouse gases…[Republican candidate John Kasich said ‘I’ve talked about climate change. I think there is such a thing… we need to develop all of the renewables and we need to do it in an orderly way, and we need to have wind and we need to have solar’…[Donald Trump said ‘I am not a believer and unless somebody can prove something to me… I believe there’s weather, I believe there’s change and I believe it goes up and it goes down’…[Marco Rubio said] ‘We are not going to destroy our economy, we are not going to make America a harder place to create jobs in order to pursue policies that will do absolutely nothing, nothing, to change our climate, to change our weather’…[Bernie Sanders said] ‘We need to be bold and decisive. We can create millions of jobs. We must, for the sake of our kids and grandchildren, transform our energy system away from fossil fuels to energy efficiency and sustainable energy’…[Hillary Clinton said ‘"I won’t let anyone take us backward, deny our economy the benefits of harnessing a clean energy future, or force our children to endure the catastrophe that would result from unchecked climate change.’]” click here for more

    Tuesday, February 23, 2016

    PAINTING BY CLIMATE CHANGE NUMBERS

    Painter captures the data of climate change in 7 stunning watercolors

    Corinne Segal, February 22, 2016 (PBS Newshour)

    “Most paintings don’t come with an x- and y-axis. But for Jill Pelto, art is all about the numbers…The artist, who graduated in December from the University of Maine with a degree in earth science and studio art, creates paintings based on graphs of data on the environmental effects of climate change…[detailing] glacial melt, animal populations and forest fires, among others…Seven years ago, Pelto began assisting on a project led by her father, glacial researcher Mauri Pelto…

    “Pelto hopes that her pieces can work as a visual link to the data, grabbing the attention of people for whom those numbers aren’t enough…[and who] are attracted to the visuals of art…Most of her data comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Climate Central and other researchers whose work she has studied…’My main audience are those people that know climate change is going on and know these are important issues, but either don’t realize how drastic it is or don’t stay informed.’” click here for more

    NORTH CAROLINA’S SOLAR CHAMPION

    State Rep. Szoka promotes reforms to boost solar energy

    Steve DeVane, February 21, 2016 (Fayetteville Observer)

    “…[North Carolina lawmaker] John Szoka tried to get a bill passed last year that would have allowed power customers to buy electricity from someone other than a utility company…Now, he's setting his sights on comprehensive energy reform as co-chairman of the Joint Legislative Commission on Energy. He said he hopes a bill will pass next year…[Last year’s unsuccessful bill] would have made it easier for electricity customers to install solar or other renewable energy systems on their properties…[by allowing] a third party company to install the generation equipment such as a solar farm. That third party would have owned the equipment on the customer's property and sold the power it generated to the customer…Polls showed that 75 percent of North Carolina residents support renewable energy…[But] arguments against the bill included debate about whether policy changes should come before technical solutions…[and] a lack of knowledge about the issue among lawmakers…[His new bill will confront all the questions about New Energy, including the state’s renewables mandate, tax credits, and] net metering, which allows customers to generate their own electricity…” click here for more

    THE RISE OF SMART CARS

    What the Combination of Electric Cars and Software May Yield; NextEV’s Padmasree Warrior says the auto market is poised for an upheaval

    Robert MacMillan, February 21, 2016 (Wall Street Journal)

    “Padmasree Warrior thinks the auto industry is starting to look a lot like the cellphone business just before the iPhone shook things up…[Ms. Warrior is] U.S. CEO and global chief development officer of NextEV [and brings Silicon Valley software-engineering expertise to the] Shanghai-based startup that wants to bring the electric car to China…

    "...[NextEV expects to introduce its first vehicle, a high-end, 1,360-horsepower electric car, by year’s end [but ultimately aims to deliver an affordable alternative for China’s emerging middle class because China is where Warrior believes the electric car will] take off first…In the next decade, [she believes] the car will be the smartest device that people will own, [that software will be a critical enabler,] and NextEV wants to bring the mobile Internet experience to the vehicle…” click here for more

    Monday, February 22, 2016

    WHERE CLIMATE CHANGE WILL HURT

    Is your hometown a top hit for climate change? A group of scientists used 14 years of data to map climate change hot spots around the globe. But they didn't just map extreme weather – they analyzed the response of local vegetation.

    Story Hinckley, February 21, 2016 (Christian Science Monitor)

    “North American prairies, South American rainforests, and eastern Australia are all climate change hot spots, according to [14 years of NASA satellite images [analyzed in Sensitivity of global terrestrial ecosystems to climate variability]…Instead of just predicting how the climate will change in different parts of the world, researchers] looked at vegetation changes from 2000 to 2013 in response to monthly changes in air temperature, water availability, and cloud cover...[to derive] the Vegetation Sensitivity Index…with the most vulnerable ecosystems in red and the least sensitive regions in green…Some regions may have witnessed dramatic vegetation changes over 14 years amid inconsequential temperature change, earning the categorization of ‘highly sensitive’ on the index. Conversely, some areas witnessed serious climate changes, but they still scored low on the sensitivity index because the local vegetation remained stable…[The researchers] say we should worry about the areas with sensitive vegetation, not the areas that experience the most extreme weather changes…” click here for more

    WHAT WIND HAVE DONE FOR OKLAHOMA

    Wind energy has been great for Oklahoma

    State Representative Casey Murdock, February 20, 2016 (The Oklahoman)

    “…The anti-wind crowd is promoting legislation to prematurely abolish the zero-emission tax credit before its scheduled elimination in 2020. The credit has been essential…[Removing it would violate last year’s legislatively negotiated agreement to retain the credit.] Since 2003, wind developers have invested more than $7 billion in Oklahoma, creating nearly 5,000 jobs. As the fourth-largest wind energy state with more than 5,000 megawatts of capacity, wind energy produces 17 percent of Oklahoma's electricity…[saving money for] ratepayers across the state. Oklahoma's two investor-owned utilities, OG&E and ASP-PSO, estimate their use of wind power will save their customers nearly $2 billion in the future…[Wind] returns more than $40 million annually to schools and counties, and over the life of current and pending wind projects, is predicted to pay nearly $1.2 billion to school districts and Oklahoma CareerTech…[It has allowed] rural districts to reach the state-based per-pupil expenditure limit of 150 percent of the state average, meaning state funds previously supporting those districts are freed for other needs…Oklahoma landowners benefit too by receiving over $22 million annually in royalties…Wind energy consumes no water and with natural gas generation] is moving Oklahoma further toward energy independence…” click here for more

    HOW CARS WITH PLUGS HAS CHANGED GM

    GM's Electric Car Ambitions Are Reshaping the Company; Gas powered vehicles aren’t going anywhere soon, but GM eyes an electric future.

    Kristen Korosec, February 19, 2016 (Fortune)

    “Half of the 8,600 designers and engineers who work on the products and controls that make GM cars and trucks move…are involved with alternative and electric propulsion systems…[The statistic] illustrates the company’s shift over the past several years towards electric and plug-in hybrid electric cars…[and why it renamed] GM Powertrain to GM Global Propulsion systems…[T]he vast majority of the 9.8 million vehicles GM sold globally in 2015 are gas powered…[and it is not clear how much of GM’s workforce is dedicated 100% to alternative and electric propulsion systems but it] has increased its investment and resources in the design and production of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids…GM’s portfolio isn’t chock-o-block full of hybrids and all-electric vehicles. Still, the options have steadily ramped up…The Chevy Volt did see a drop in sales in 2015. However, sales surged towards the end of the year—and the streak continued in January—due to demand for the next generation 2016 Chevy Volt…GM’s next big electric vehicle project is the Chevrolet Bolt EV…[which] will have a 200-mile range [and reach an 80% charge in around 60 minutes and] cost around $30,000 after government clean energy incentives…” click here for more

    Wednesday, February 17, 2016

    HOW CLIMATE CHANGE IS AND IS NOT LIKE TERRORISM

    Why don't we treat climate change with the rigor we give to terror attacks? They’re both extreme hazards, but evolutionary responses favor real-time threats, not those that take place on an extended time scale

    Ruth Greenspan Bell, 15 February 2016 (The Guardian)

    "…[W]e still don’t treat climate change with the reverence we reserve for something like a terrorist attack…[Maybe it’s because evolutionary] responses favor real-time threats, not those that take place on an extended time scale…The challenge in moving more forcefully to stop the flow of greenhouse gases is that if you have to stop and think about whether a specific action or activity is threatening, that very process engages very different parts of the human brain, and not the ones that impel us to action…The hormones that flood through our bodies to provide increased strength and speed in anticipation of fighting or running won’t kick in when the threat is one that can only be understood through research and thought…One result: we only pay attention to climate change from time to time, and usually when it hits us in the face…But disaster rarely hits all humanity at the exact same time. And life goes on…The US supreme court’s recent insistence on looking through the lens of legal process…[and staying] implementation of the Clean Power Plan until the case is argued and decided isn’t fatal…But the time lost in climate terms cannot be made up…Climate change is relentless; human habit, Daniel Kahneman tells us, is oblivious. Bridging those two extremes is the central challenge…” click here for more

    WHY SUN IN THE SOUTHEAST ISN’T SHINING

    Why there aren't many rooftop solar panels in the South

    Sophie Quinton, February 14, 2016 (Fredricksburg.com)

    “… Sunny Southern states have plenty of solar energy potential, and utilities across the region have begun to build large solar projects as the technology’s price has dropped. But few homes and businesses sport solar panel systems largely because states in the region haven’t embraced policies that support a residential market… Utility companies say [rooftop] residential solar systems…cost them money because solar owners pay less in monthly electricity bills yet expect their utility to step in and deliver power whenever their system doesn’t. Solar advocates, on the other hand, say residential solar systems save utilities money by taking pressure off the electrical grid…[North Carolina’s environmental advocacy group NC WARN is challenging state regulators to legalize the third party ownership finance plan that has driven solar growth elsewhere. Only Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina and West Virginia] ban third-party power purchase agreements, according to the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center…[Utilities like Duke Energy], worried that they may be crowded out, are pushing back [with the claim it allows private parties] to set themselves up to be an electric utility…” click here for more

    THE COSTS FOR INSTALLING FASTER EV CHARGERS

    Installation Costs Of Electric Car Charging Stations By Type

    Mark Kane, February 15, 2016 (Inside EVs)

    “…[A U.S. Department of Energy comparison of installation costs for different types of charging stations in 2011 to 2013 shows] Blink DC fast chargers were installed at an average price $22,626, and the lowest registered cost was $8,500…[T]here is no data for 2015, but for sure it should be somewhat less expensive to install charging points as more places (and persons) are in the business of doing it…[The stations now] are significantly less expensive (some of them at lower power level even don’t need installation because they are equipped with a plug). The average person probably will also take care to keep costs to a minimum, much lower than companies engaged in public projects. If the location is difficult and requires a lot of work/parts/etc. the cost could surge…Results from this study show that DC fast charger installations were by far the most expensive, ranging…to $50,000 per installation, though it is important to note that the DC fast chargers installed had dual ports as opposed to the single port level 2 charging stations. The cost for public level 2 charger installations ranged from about $600 to $12,660. Residential installations had the lowest average installation cost with a mean of $1,354 though individual installation costs ranged from just a few hundred dollars to as much as $8,000…” click here for more

    Tuesday, February 16, 2016

    MILITARY TO FIGHT CLIMATE CHANGE

    U.S. military to assess and manage risks of climate change

    Susan Grigsby, February 14, 2016 (Daily Kos)

    “…The military is capable of doing a competent job of protecting the environment at the same time that it is training its forces for combat…Which is why the uproar on the right over the latest Department of Defense (DoD) directive is rather insulting to our military forces…Last summer, the Pentagon issued a response to a congressional inquiry on the National Security Implications of Climate-Related Risks and a Changing Climate. In the introduction, the seriousness of climate change is made clear…And in the conclusion, the security threat represented by climate change is reiterated, and a plan to address the risk is promised…In a directive released last month—and much to the dismay of the climate change deniers—[DoD’s Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience establishes a plan to] identify and assess the effects of climate change on their mission…” click here for more

    THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT SOLAR

    5 Facts You Didn't Know About Solar Energy; While oil prices have been falling solar energy has become a real force in the energy business.

    Travis Hoium, February 13, 2016 (Motley Fool)

    “…[Five things you need to know about solar: 1-Households in most of the Southwestern and Northeastern U.S. can] go solar for $0…The booming residential solar market has been driven by $0-down [purchase and lease agreements from companies like] SolarCity or Sunrun…[2-Utility-scale contracts from companies like First Solar] are coming in at $0.05 per kWh or less in sunny locations, which is competitive with the costs to generate electricity from fossil fuels…[B]etween 2009 and 2014, the cost of an industry-leading utility-scale solar power plant has fallen more than 50%...[3-Over] 1% of all electricity produced in the U.S. [in 2015] came from solar energy…[4-Solar energy production comes in all sizes…[SunPower is both building the world's largest solar power plant and selling solar cells to companies that make personal chargers…[5-There's enough solar energy hitting Earth every hour to replace every barrel of oil, every lump of coal, and every other energy source used on earth for an entire year…” click here for more

    UTILITY BACKS EV CHARGERS

    Power company proposes hundreds of electric car charging stations across Eastern Washington

    February 14, 2016 (AP via Fox News)

    “…[Avista Utilities] is asking [the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission] to approve a two-year pilot program [to install 265 charging stations for electric cars in eastern Washington state citing environmental benefits, fuel cost savings and vehicle performance as benefits of the plan…[The utility] estimates it will cost about $3.1 million to put the charging stations in 120 homes, 100 work places, and 45 public locations…[Avista will be ready to begin installations] in May if the plan is approved.” click here for more

    Monday, February 15, 2016

    SCALIA’S PASSING COULD SAVE THE CLIMATE CHANGE FIGHT

    What Scalia’s Death Means For Climate Change

    John Upton, February 14, 2016 (Climate Central)

    “…[Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia’s] death means it is now more likely that key EPA rules that aim to curb climate pollution from the power industry will be upheld…[The Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, designed by the EPA] to reduce carbon pollution from power plants…bypassed Congress, which is opposed to passing laws regulating greenhouse gas pollution…But coal companies and some two dozen states have sued, arguing that the plan violates federal law. Their legal challenge is expected to eventually reach the Supreme Court…Scalia was a dependable vote against environmental regulations…

    “Last week, Scalia and four other justices ruled to “stay” the Clean Power Plan while litigation moves forward. The 5-4 ruling effectively put a freeze on the new EPA rules…[The] appeals court is a liberal one…[Routine appeals will] send the case to the Supreme Court…Last week’s ruling suggested to many onlookers that the Supreme Court might make a similar ruling on the Clean Power Plan case, striking down the rules…The court is now down to eight justices. If the rulings from those justices on the legality of the Clean Power Plan match their rulings from last week, the outcome would be a 4-4 verdict. Such a scenario would uphold the looming ruling from the [liberal] federal appeals court…[If the Senate allows a new justice tpo be put in place, it’s unlikely the President would nominate one] who would oppose his landmark climate rules… Scalia’s passing means the pact seems safer now…” click here for more

    BUFFETT GETS “BERN’D” ON NEVADA SOLAR

    Sanders calls out Warren Buffett over solar energy

    Harper Neidig, February 13, 2016 (The Hill)

    “…[Presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) called on billionaire investor Warren Buffett, who is backing Sanders's Democratic rival Hillary Clinton for president, to support solar energy in Nevada, where Buffett owns NV Energy, the dominant electric utility, and] the state's public utility commission recently issued a ruling that activists say has hampered the solar industry…[Sanders said the commission made ‘a terrible, terrible decision’ and called on Nevadans to write to Buffett and tell him his utility is] ‘exactly wrong’…[Solar advocates say] the ruling has effectively eliminated the return on investment for those using solar in their homes…Sanders, an outspoken proponent of fighting climate change, called the use of alternative forms of energy a ‘moral responsibility’…[and said the commission should ‘be making it easier for people to move to sustainable energy like solar, not harder.’” click here for more

    WITH MORE CONFIDENCE IN THE PLUG, RANGE ANXIETY FADES

    Is electric car range anxiety diminishing?

    February 15, 2016 (Echomento)

    “In the five years that modern electric cars have been widely available, range anxiety has been one of the biggest issues for consumers. The relatively short ranges and long charging times of most electric cars induce worries about getting stuck…But the situation may be improving…Companies are backing the installation of more charging stations, and getting ready to introduce longer-range models…Out of 14 survey respondents who currently own an electric car, none cited range as the main drawback. Respondents seemed more concerned with a perceived lack of public charging stations…[L]ong ranges may not be entirely necessary to attract more electric-car buyers…[O]f course, improving range is a priority for manufacturers. The second-generation Volt has an electric range of 53 miles, and Chevy will start production of the 200-mile, all-electric Bolt EV before the end of this year. Tesla is readying its 200-mile Model 3, and Nissan is expected to increase the range of the LEAF to around 200 miles…’ click here for more

    Wednesday, February 10, 2016

    OBAMA CLIMATE PLAN STAYED BY SUPREME COURT

    Supreme Court puts Clean Power Plan on hold

    Davide Savinje and Krysti Shallenberger, February 9, 2016 (Utility Dive)

    “…[A 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court ruling] ordered the Obama administration to hold off on any efforts to implement the Clean Power Plan (CPP) until legal challenges to the regulation have played out…The ruling came after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied a request to stay the federal carbon regulations in January. A coalition of 29 states and state agencies led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey then appealed to the Supreme Court to stay implementation of…[the regulatory package targeting] a 32% reduction in carbon emissions from the power sector nationwide by 2030…[It] will be put on hold until the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit reviews the plan and any subsequent Supreme Court appeals are over. A hearing at the D.C. Circuit is set for June 2, 2016…The ruling is a big win for the opponents to the…[policy] widely considered the cornerstone of Obama's environmental legacy…” click here for more

    THE POWER OF PLAINS WIND

    Tapping the Power of the Great Plains to Light Up Faraway Cities

    Brian Eckhouse and Joe Ryan, February 9, 2016 (Bloomberg News)

    “There’s enough untapped wind howling across the vast plains of Oklahoma and Kansas to generate more electricity than a dozen nuclear power plants. What’s missing are transmission lines…That’s why Clean Line Energy Partners LLC plans to spend $9 billion on power transmission across the Great Plains, Midwest and the Southwest, including a 720-mile (1,158-kilometer) proposal awaiting approval from the U.S. Energy Department. It would be one of the longest high-voltage direct current lines built in a generation, and is among at least 11 proposed projects that may open up vast expanses for wind and solar farms with more than 26 gigawatts of capacity…[TransWest Express LLC is planning a $3 billion, 730-mile line from Wyoming to Las Vegas…[These projects are seen as essential to helping states comply with President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan]…” click here for more

    THE THOUSANDS OF JOBS IN SOLAR’S BOOM

    The Solar Foundation’s National Solar Jobs Census 2015 Finds that U.S. Solar Workforce Grew by More Than 20% for the Third Consecutive Year

    January 12, 2016 (The Solar Foundation)

    “…[The sixth annual National Solar Jobs Census from The Solar Foundation (TSF) found that the U.S. solar industry employed 208,859 Americans in 2015…[including] the addition of 35,052 solar workers over the previous year, representing 20.2 percent growth…nearly 12 times faster [growth] than the national employment growth rate of 1.7 percent…The solar workforce is larger than…the oil and gas extraction industry, which shed 13,800 jobs in 2015 and now employs 187,200 people. The oil and gas pipeline construction industry, which employs 129,500 workers, lost 9,500 jobs…The solar industry is already three times larger than the coal-mining industry, which employs 67,929 people…Solar employers surveyed expect to add more than 30,000 jobs over the next 12 months…” click here for more

    Tuesday, February 9, 2016

    PENTAGON TO PRIORITIZE CLIMATE CHANGE

    Pentagon orders commanders to prioritize climate change in all military actions

    Rowan Scarborough, February 7, 2016 (Washington Times)

    “The Pentagon is ordering the top brass to incorporate climate change into virtually everything they do…[A directive orders the U.S. Armed Forces to] show ‘resilience’ and beat back the threat based on “actionable science”…It says the military will not [otherwise] be able to maintain effectiveness…[It orders] a wide array of ‘climate change boards, councils and working groups’ to infuse climate change into ‘programs, plans and policies’…[It orders that climate change] be integrated in…Weapons buying and testing…Training…Defense intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance…Defense education and training…Combatant commander joint training with allies…[and] Joint Chiefs of Staff collaboration [with allies and partners]…” click here for more

    LIES ABOUT SANDERS WIND PLAN CORRECTED

    Bernie Sanders' Wind Energy Plan Falsely Attacked By Big Oil Ally, With Help From The Wall Street Journal

    Andrew Seifter, February 8, 2016 (Media Matters for America)

    “A dirty energy advocate with Big Oil ties is falsely smearing Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders' wind energy plan …[A February 7 Wall Street Journal op-ed attack on Sanders’ New Energy plans by Manhattan Institute senior fellow Robert Bryce did not disclose that the Manhattan Institute has received at least $800,000 from ExxonMobil and millions more from foundations run by the oil billionaire Koch brothers. Unsurprisingly, given his track record, Bryce's criticism of Sanders is badly at odds with the facts…Citing anti-wind proposals in the Vermont state legislature and a few scattered examples of local opposition to specific wind energy projects, Bryce declared…[Vermont’s ‘backlash’ against wind energy is among the strongest in the country but] despite the presence of a vocal minority who oppose large-scale wind projects, support for wind energy development is actually very strong in the Green Mountain State

    “…[An April 2014 poll showed 71 percent of Vermonters support building wind turbines along the state's ridgelines, while only 23 percent oppose wind energy development…These findings are in line with other polls…Bryce's entire attack against Sanders is premised on deceptively cherry-picking several isolated incidents of local opposition…” click here for more

    DOE UPS SPENDING ON SUNSHOT

    U.S. DOE announces USD 21 million to lower solar energy deployment barriers

    February 8, 2016, (U.S. Department of Energy)

    “…[DOE will provide $21 million] in new funding to lower solar energy deployment barriers and expand access to solar energy to all Americans…[$13 million will] help states take advantage of falling solar prices and maximize the benefits of solar electricity through…technical and analytical support in the development and implementation of solar energy deployment plans…[$8 million more will go to funding of] innovation and technology adoption patterns in order to increase understanding of [soft costs and other] solar deployment barriers…These investments support the broader goals of the SunShot Initiative…” click here for more

    Monday, February 8, 2016

    CLIMATE CHANGE IN WATER COLORS

    Painting Climate Change

    Peter Sinclair, February 4, 2016 (Climate Denial Crock of the Week)

    "…Climate data is usually seen in pixels, spreadsheets, and maps. But watercolor paintings? Not so much. That’s what makes a growing series of paintings by Maine-based artist Jill Pelto so striking. They combine haunting imagery from the natural world with hard data showing the impact climate change is having…The message can be subtle, with the global average temperature graph tucked in a painting that shows wildfires raging…But the point is clear. Data — and the way humans are influencing that data by emitting greenhouse gases — is an essential part of the landscape and the changes that are happening…

    “…[B]y embedding that message within paintings, the works become a Trojan horse for science to reach a public that doesn’t necessarily think about data points and models…The global average temperature, sea-level rise, disappearing Arctic sea ice, and other major climate indicators have made an appearance in Pelto’s artwork. But local climate stories are also something she wants to explore more since they can make pieces even more emotionally resonant…Pelto said she’d like to collaborate with any other scientists looking to have their data become art. And eventually her own research could inform her art once she begins an earth science Master’s this fall at the University of Maine…” click here for more

    THE REAL ECONOMICS OF NEW ENERGY

    Is Renewable Energy Economically Viable?

    Tom Lombardo, February 8, 2016 (Engineering)

    “…Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) is a commonly used metric to compare the costs of various energy generation technologies. Put simply, LCOE is the ratio of the total cost of the power source to the total energy output over its life, expressed in dollars per kWh. The total cost takes into account the initial capital investment, interest, operations & maintenance costs, and fuel expenses…[But it fails to consider environmental impacts, the reliability and availability of the energy source]……Researchers at the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) shifted the discussion [about New Energy] from idealism to pragmatism in Estimating Renewable Energy Economic Potential in the United States: Methodology and Initial Results…The study showed that in all three scenarios, there are long-term economic benefits to adding renewable energy to the grid…for every region of the continental US, with different renewable sources favored in certain areas…” click here for more

    WHO SHOULD PAY FOR EV CHARGING?

    Who Should Pay For Electric Car Charging Infrastructure?

    Steve Hanley, February 6, 2016 (Gas2)

    “…San Diego Gas & Electric has a plan to install 3,500 Level 2 charging stations in its service area…[Many would go into] places that are traditionally under-served…[But the LA Times] criticizes the SDG&E approach, which will be paid for by a surcharge on the utility bills of all its utility customers…[asks if it is] fair that people who don’t have electric cars should be forced to pay for chargers for those who do…[The California Public Utilities Commission] approved the plan…partly because…[lower] atmospheric pollution doesn’t benefit only those driving a LEAF or a Tesla, it benefits everyone who breathes the cleaner air. But the Times worries that such plans give utility companies a monopoly in the electric car charging industry, something they say will be bad for competition in the future…Everyone agrees that a robust charging infrastructure is vital…[but not on] who should pay…No one has figured out yet how [a private sector player can] make money consistently from operating a charging network…” click here for more

    Friday, February 5, 2016

    Dream Catcher – ripped from the headlines, torn from the heart

    Artistically, Dream Catcher, a new play at the Fountain Theater in Hollywood, is satisfying in every way. And it is much more.

    When Brian Tichnell’s Roy comes rushing onto Director Cameron Watson’s wide round stage to join Elizabeth Frances’ Opal on Jeffrey McLaughlin’s set of desert dirt and engaging skyblue backdrop, questions rush the audience into the multi-layered plot.

    The lighting by Luke Moyer captures a desert brightness that might seem flat if it didn’t suit so well the emerging action that goes round and round in a confusion of questions and not quickly explained tensions.

    Roy and Opal are young and excited with a lot on their minds and life racing through their blood. They are immediately recognizable members of today’s millennial generation, he in costume designer Terri A. Lewis’s Gap khakis, badly pressed dress shirt, and bland tie, she in Target jeans and a snug denim vest that doesn’t conceal her tatted shoulders and tramp stamp.

    Roy is an impassioned young engineer for Suntech, a utility-scale solar development company readying a Mojave Desert groundbreaking on a concentrating solar power project. The massive installation is backed by an $800-plus million federal loan guarantee.

    Roy has been on this Mojave ground and away from his suburban Boston home for months, guiding project preparations, driven by his unwavering belief that this is a crucial effort in his generation’s heroic and vital fight to turn back climate change.

    Opal is a beautiful young native of the Mojave, an heir to its native peoples and an heir to the plight of its native peoples’ struggle with under-employment and dead-end opportunities.

    Their hot encounter at the Mojave’s Rusty Nail bar has swept them along in a testosterone-estrogen storm to the moment the play opens. He enters exuberant about the project’s imminent groundbreaking to her as yet unexplained moody mix of impatience and withdrawal.

    They play a strange game of anxiety and avoidance that stirs all kinds of passions in both of them until she finally reveals her secret: She has followed the guidance of a dream and discovered human bones, bones of her people, on the land where Suntech plans to build.

    If she reveals her find, the federal loan will be withdrawn and the project will be stopped, Roy tells her.

    But how can she turn her back on her ancestors? She asks him.

    So begins a journey for these young searchers that turns into more than just the ripped-from-the-headlines conflict of solar development versus sacred ground when it becomes clear their struggle is tearing at their hearts.

    It is environmentalists versus progress, the holiness of the past versus the desperation to salvage the future, the needs of the many and the needs of the few.

    It is still more. It is her need to trust her heart and live up to the traditions she so poorly inherited from her mother versus his need to know and to prove himself in business. It is her need to stand up for herself and his need to stand up for the earth. It is his pressing sexuality and her urgency to be loved.

    This list of some of the opposites their struggle eventually embraces is an injustice to Sachs’ writing and the acting talents and Frances and Tichnell because the tensions of these opposites are almost never abstract. As the actors passionately circle this piece of seemingly desolate and yet all too crowded empty desert space, themes cascade over the audience.

    The opposites come through an engineer’s plain-spoken scientific preaching about the urgency of climate change and his admissions about the strengths and weaknesses of his solar solution. They also come through the darker and yet simpler language and insights of a reservation girl raised on Native American myths of darkness and light.

    It is an easy and yet difficult play to watch, easy because it is unpretentious storytelling and difficult because the dualities threaten to overwhelm the audience just as the conflict threatens to ruin Roy and Opal.

    There will be no plot spoilers here. The play suggests simple power dynamics expressed through money or gender politics may resolve everyday dualities.

    But a more profound metaphysical desert of the spirit or the soul or the eternal earth may be what ultimately will have its way.

    Credits: Author: Stephen Sachs/Director: Cameron Watson/ Starring: Elizabeth Frances and Brian Tichnell/ Producers: Simon Levy and Deborah Lawlor

    Set design: Jeffrey McLaughlin/Lighting design: Luke Moyer/Costume design: Terri A. Lewis/Composer/Sound design: Peter Bayne/Prop Designer: Terri Roberts/Production stage manager: Emily Lehrer/Technical director: Scott Tuomey/Publicist: Lucy Pollak

    At the Fountain Theater/5060 Fountain Ave., Los Angeles, CA. 90029/323-663-1525

    Wednesday, February 3, 2016

    ZIKA AND CLIMATE

    'Range of Zika vector will increase with climate change'; DW asks emerging pathogens expert Amy Vittor about the connection between Zika and climate change. Researchers are using dengue as a reference point, as little is known about the new virus linked to a birth defect.

    Charlotta Loma with Dr, Amy Vittor, February 3, 2016 (Deutsche Welle)

    “…Zika virus is a close relative of dengue virus. It's a mosquito-borne virus that usually causes no symptoms, or only mild illness. But…it's been associated with the birth defect called microcephaly…Zika is spread by [two] very common mosquitoes…The conditions that seem to allow Zika to thrive are the presence of very good vector mosquitoes - namely Aedes aegypti probably mostly in Brazil at the moment - and a lot of human and mosquito contact…[Warm temperatures and humidity allow the dengue virus and probably Zika] to propagate within the mosquito…

    “Taking into account [different climate change projections], it looks like the range of these dengue vectors - and Zika therefore also - will increase…The expanding range of Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus may be a result of climate change of the past decades…[It] has led to more fertile areas for disease to take hold…[and] we might see increases in disease in the future…[in] the northeast United States, certain areas of Europe, the southern areas of South America, and east Asia…” click here for more

    U.S. ARMY TO BUILD WIND-SOLAR HYBRID

    Fort Hood Kicks Off $100M Wind, Solar Energy Project

    January 29, 2016 (AP via CBS News)

    “…[Ground was just broken at Fort Hood, the sprawling Central Texas military installation, for the Army’s largest renewable energy project, a] $100 million hybrid solar and wind renewable energy project. The Department of Defense-related project also involves Apex Clean Energy and the White House Council on Environmental Quality…[It] is expected to produce electricity for Fort Hood with a goal of providing up to 40 percent of the post’s needs…The setup involves a solar farm that will use thousands of panels spread over about 130 acres of Fort Hood [and power from a nearby] wind turbine facility…” click here for more

    INTRO TO EV BUYING

    How to buy the best electric car; There's a lot to consider before buying your first electric car. Let's look at your choices.

    Wayne Cunningham, February 2, 2016 (Road Show)

    “…Despite range inferior to gasoline-powered cars, electric cars are working for the daily-driving lives of a few hundred thousand people in the US. Freedom from gas stations and low running costs are two prime reasons you might want to consider an electric vehicle (EV)… The range runs from the Tesla Model X, a roomy crossover SUV, down to the Smart Electric Drive, a tiny, two-seater hatchback. Among the middle ground for size, you will find theMercedes-Benz B-Class and Kia Soul Electric. A majority of EVs offer seating for five, with room for cargo, following the typical IC-based passenger-car model…[With up to 270 miles of range, a variant that hits 60 mph in under 3 seconds and a lithe, attractive body, not only is the [Tesla] Model S an excellent electric car, it competes well with premium gasoline-powered cars…Purpose-built as an electric car, the Nissan Leaf can go up to 107 miles on a charge. It is also widely available, giving it an edge over electrics sold only in a few markets]…” click here for more

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

    NEW WIRES FOR NEW ENERGY

    Better power lines would help U.S. supercharge renewable energy, study suggests

    Puneet Kollipara, January 25, 2016 (Science)

    “Analysts have long argued that nations aiming to use wind and solar power to curb emissions from fossil fuel burning would first have to invest heavily in new technologies to store electricity produced by these intermittent sources…But a study out today suggests that the United States could, at least in theory, use new high-voltage power lines to move renewable power across the nation, and essentially eliminate the need to add new storage capacity…Future cost-competitive electricity systems and their impact on US CO2 emissions Nature Climate Change finds an] improved national grid, based on existing technologies, could enable utilities to cut power-sector carbon dioxide emissions 80% from 1990 levels by 2030 without boosting power prices…But some observers wonder whether the U.S. power grid can rise to the renewables challenge…” click here for more

    SOLAR MAKES BIG MONEY ON WAREHOUSE ROOFS

    Put a Solar Panel on It; How did a warehouse company become one of America’s leaders in renewable energy?

    Daniel Gross, January 29, 2016 (Slate)

    “…Prologis, which at 97.54 megawatts trails only Walmart in the amount of installed rooftop solar capacity in the U.S…doesn't operate stores, doesn’t fret much about what upscale American consumers think about its energy use, and doesn’t even have much energy use to offset…It’s the world’s largest owner and operator of warehouses…Boasting 700 million square feet of space (about 25 square miles) in 21 countries, it has a market capitalization of more than $20 billion…[and] Prologis has figured out how to turn the ultimate waste of space—the flat roof of a warehouse—into an emissions-reducing, money-producing power plant [by selling the solar energy-generated electricity to the grid]…To date, Prologis has put solar panels on more than 100 buildings around the world, with a combined capacity of 140 megawatts. About 70 percent of its installations are in the U.S. Prologis has planted solar on only about 10 percent of its global footprint, in part because the economics don’t yet make sense everywhere it operates…The company plans to add about 15 megawatts of solar capacity per year through 2020…[and] likely add energy storage to the mix…” click here for more

    NEW YORK CITY LIKES GEOTHERMAL HEAT PUMPS

    New York City Passes Geothermal Energy Bill

    January 29, 2016 (Builder)

    “Following a 2013 measure to study the implementation of geothermal heat pumps, New York City Council has passed the geothermal energy bill and sent it to Mayor De Blasio to sign…The bill, Int. 0609-A-2015, will require New York City to identify and implement geothermal heat pump installations in all its new construction and retrofits when it is shown that doing so would be cost effective…This measure could be used as a blueprint for any city, town or borough in the U.S. Increased use of geothermal heat pump systems reduces energy costs for the end user, reduce peak load supporting a stronger grid, reduces emissions and creates jobs…[Geothermal advocates are working to get similar measures] passed in other major cities…” click here for more

    Monday, February 1, 2016

    THE BURNERS MUST BE STOPPED

    New Report Issues Dire Carbon Warning: Keep It in the Ground—or Else; Report examines carbon risk of fossil fuel deposits that could push world past agreed-upon 2°C climate threshold—and efforts to keep them untapped

    Nadia Prupis, January 25, 2016 (Common Dreams)

    “…[Keep It In The Ground from Greenpeace, Sierra Club, and 350.org, examines the carbon risk of fossil fuel deposits] throughout the globe that, if developed, would push the world past the agreed-upon 2°C climate threshold…In order to curb escalating greenhouse gas emissions and fend off their disastrous consequences, the ‘overwhelming majority of the large coal reserves in China, Russia, [the Arctic,] and the United States as well as more than 260 billion barrels of oil reserves and 60 percent of gas reserves in the Middle East must all remain unused [through 2050 or]…we will miss even the high-end estimated budget for a 50 percent chance of limiting warming to 2°C—three times over,’ the authors [report]…However, with such dire circumstances already under way, climate activism has taken on a new momentum, the authors state…” click here for more

    THERE’S NO STOPPING NEW ENERGY

    Why The Renewables Revolution Is Now Unstoppable

    Joe Romm, February 1, 2016 (ClimateProgress)

    “…Once upon a time, people imagined that replacing fossil fuels with renewables like solar and wind would jeopardize the electric grid’s reliability. Then along came some major countries who showed that it didn’t, and that there really are no limits to renewable integration…[The lead energy specialist at the World Bank recently said very] high levels of variable renewable energy can be accommodated both technically and at low cost [through an improved electricity transmission system, improved predictions of wind and solar availability, demand response, and electricity storage. Until recently, big storage has been impractical and] batteries have been too expensive…[But] the stunning drop in battery prices continues to spur exponential growth…The ‘intermittency’ problem is essentially solved. The will-power problem, however, isn’t…” click here for more

    TESLA CHARGING STATIONS MAKE A DIFFERENCE

    Electric Car Buyers Hugely Attracted To Tesla Supercharger Network

    Zachary Shahan, January 31, 2016 (CleanTechnica)

    “…With [the new generation of electric vehicles] that have several hundred miles of range, core destination charging is probably all you’d need…[A recent survey] found that convenient home charging was one of the key benefits of an EV lifestyle…[but] EV drivers put “more abundant EV charging” as the #1 way to promote EV adoption and advance the EV revolution (24.4% of respondents chose that option)…65% of potential owners indicated they would be significantly more attracted to a fully electric model if it had access to Tesla Superchargers or something comparable…Tesla’s Superchargers charge a car about twice as fast as the next-fastest DC fast chargers on the market…Only 11% of respondents didn’t care about having access to such a network…In a separate survey for both EV drivers and potential EV drivers, 29% of respondents indicated that DC fast charging was a requirement for them to consider a fully electric car, 25% indicated that it was very important for them, and 27% indicated it was somewhat important for them. Only 12% indicated it was “quite unimportant” and 7% “not important at all” for them…” click here for more