NewEnergyNews: 11/01/2007 - 12/01/2007

NewEnergyNews

Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...

The new challenge: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-A NEW WAY TO SEE CLIMATE CHANGE
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-EU OCEAN WIND TO CUT COSTS, KEEP GROWING
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-COST-COMPETIVE NEW ENERGY, GERMANY’S ‘GIFT TO THE WORLD’
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-NEW ENERGY MATCHES COAL ON COST, CAPACITY IN TURKEY
  • THE DAY BEFORE

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, November 20:

  • TTTA Thursday-TOP REPUBLICAN DROPS CLIMATE DENIAL
  • TTTA Thursday-FORD ELECTRIC CARS FOR ‘THE MASSES’
  • TTTA Thursday-MIDWEST SOLAR MAKES SENSE AND CENTS
  • TTTA Thursday-NEW ENERGY JOBS BY THE BAY
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    GET THE DAILY HEADLINES EMAIL: CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS OR SEND YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS TO: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: THE MIDWEST GRID IS READY FOR 40% NEW ENERGY
  • QUICK NEWS, November 19: OHIO NEW ENERGY JOBS REPORT SUPPRESSED; SOLAR GIANT BUYS WIND DEVELOPER; BUSINESS TO MAKE IT BIG IN SMART CITIES
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: THE NEW ENERGY LIFE-CYCLE CUTS EMISSIONS
  • QUICK NEWS, November 18: U.S. TAKES WORLD LEAD IN WIND; SOLAR TO SHOW MISSOURI JOBS; WAVE ENERGY ROLLING SLOWLY IN
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: A NEW TAKE ON THE COSTS AND BENEFITS OF SOLAR
  • QUICK NEWS, November 17: BIG TEST FOR SOLAR ROADS KICKS OFF; FORD TURNS TO NEW ENERGY; ADVANCED BATTERY SUPPLY CHAIN TO TRIPLE
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • Weekend Video: Hearing From Idiotic Idiots And Others
  • Weekend Video: The Aussies Say It Plainly
  • Weekend Video: Living In The Wasteland Of The Free
  • --------------------------

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    Anne B. Butterfield of Daily Camera and Huffington Post, is a biweekly contributor to NewEnergyNews

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT)

    November 26, 2013 (Huffington Post via NewEnergyNews)

    Everywhere we turn, environmental news is filled with horrid developments and glimpses of irreversible tipping points.

    Just a handful of examples are breathtaking: Scientists have dared to pinpoint the years at which locations around the world may reach runaway heat, and in the northern hemisphere it's well in sight for our children: 2047. Survivors of Superstorm Sandy are packing up as costs of repair and insurance go out of reach, one threat that climate science has long predicted. Or we could simply talk about the plight of bees and the potential impact on food supplies. Surprising no one who explores the Pacific Ocean, sailor Ivan MacFadyen described long a journey dubbed The Ocean is Broken, in which he saw vast expanses of trash and almost no wildlife save for a whale struggling a with giant tumor on its head, evoking the tons of radioactive water coming daily from Fukushima's lamed nuclear power center. Rampaging fishing methods and ocean acidification are now reported as causing the overpopulation of jellyfish that have jammed the intakes of nuclear plants around the world. Yet the shutting down of nuclear plants is a trifling setback compared with the doom that can result in coming days at Fukushima in the delicate job to extract bent and spent fuel rods from a ruined storage tank, a project dubbed "radioactive pick up sticks."

    With all these horrors to ponder you wouldn't expect to hear that you should also worry about the United States running out of coal. But you would be wrong, says Leslie Glustrom, founder and research director for Clean Energy Action. Her contention is that we've passed the peak in our nation's legendary supply of coal that powers over one-third of our grid capacity. This grim news is faithfully spelled out in three reports, with the complete story told in Warning: Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves (pdf). (Disclosure: I serve on CEA's board and have known the author for years.)

    Glustrom's research presents a sea change in how we should understand our energy challenges, or experience grim consequences. It's not only about toxic and heat-trapping emissions anymore; it's also about having enough energy generation to run big cities and regions that now rely on coal. Glustrom worries openly about how commerce will go on in many regions in 2025 if they don't plan their energy futures right.

    2013-11-05-FigureES4_FULL.jpgclick to enlarge

    Scrutinizing data for prices on delivered coal nationwide, Glustrom's new report establishes that coal's price has risen nearly 8 percent annually for eight years, roughly doubling, due mostly to thinner, deeper coal seams plus costlier diesel transport expenses. Higher coal prices in a time of "cheap" natural gas and affordable renewables means coal companies are lamed by low or no profits, as they hold debt levels that dwarf their market value and carry very high interest rates.

    2013-11-05-Table_ES2_FULL.jpgclick to enlarge

    2013-11-05-Figure_ES2_FULL.jpg

    One leading coal company, Patriot, filed for bankruptcy last year; many others are also struggling under bankruptcy watch and not eager to upgrade equipment for the tougher mining ahead. Add to this the bizarre event this fall of a coal lease failing to sell in Wyoming's Powder River Basin, the "Fort Knox" of the nation's coal supply, with some pundits agreeing this portends a tightening of the nation's coal supply, not to mention the array of researchers cited in the report. Indeed, at the mid point of 2013, only 488 millions tons of coal were produced in the U.S.; unless a major catch up happens by year-end, 2013 may be as low in production as 1993.

    Coal may exist in large quantities geologically, but economically, it's getting out of reach, as confirmed by US Geological Survey in studies indicating that less than 20 percent of US coal formations are economically recoverable, as explored in the CEA report. To Glustrom, that number plus others translate to 10 to 20 years more of burning coal in the US. It takes capital, accessible coal with good heat content and favorable market conditions to assure that mining companies will stay in business. She has observed a classic disconnect between camps of professionals in which geologists tend to assume money is "infinite" and financial analysts tend to assume that available coal is "infinite." Both biases are faulty and together they court disaster, and "it is only by combining thoughtful estimates of available coal and available money that our country can come to a realistic estimate of the amount of US coal that can be mined at a profit." This brings us back to her main and rather simple point: "If the companies cannot make a profit by mining coal they won't be mining for long."

    No one is more emphatic than Glustrom herself that she cannot predict the future, but she presents trend lines that are robust and confirmed assertively by the editorial board at West Virginia Gazette:

    Although Clean Energy Action is a "green" nonprofit opposed to fossil fuels, this study contains many hard economic facts. As we've said before, West Virginia's leaders should lower their protests about pollution controls, and instead launch intelligent planning for the profound shift that is occurring in the Mountain State's economy.

    The report "Warning, Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves" and its companion reports belong in the hands of energy and climate policy makers, investors, bankers, and rate payer watchdog groups, so that states can plan for, rather than react to, a future with sea change risk factors.

    [Clean Energy Action is fundraising to support the dissemination of this report through December 11. Contribute here.]

    It bears mentioning that even China is enacting a "peak coal" mentality, with Shanghai declaring that it will completely ban coal burning in 2017 with intent to close down hundreds of coal burning boilers and industrial furnaces, or shifting them to clean energy by 2015. And Citi Research, in "The Unimaginable: Peak Coal in China," took a look at all forms of energy production in China and figured that demand for coal will flatten or peak by 2020 and those "coal exporting countries that have been counting on strong future coal demand could be most at risk." Include US coal producers in that group of exporters.

    Our world is undergoing many sorts of change and upheaval. We in the industrialized world have spent about a century dismissing ocean trash, overfishing, pesticides, nuclear hazard, and oil and coal burning with a shrug of, "Hey it's fine, nature can manage it." Now we're surrounded by impacts of industrial-grade consumption, including depletion of critical resources and tipping points of many kinds. It is not enough to think of only ourselves and plan for strictly our own survival or convenience. The threat to animals everywhere, indeed to whole systems of the living, is the grief-filled backdrop of our times. It's "all hands on deck" at this point of human voyaging, and in our nation's capital, we certainly don't have that. Towns, states and regions need to plan fiercely and follow through. And a fine example is Boulder Colorado's recent victory to keep on track for clean energy by separating from its electric utility that makes 59 percent of its power from coal.

    Clean Energy Action is disseminating "Warning: Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves" for free to all manner of relevant professionals who should be concerned about long range trends which now include the supply risks of coal, and is supporting that outreach through a fundraising campaign.

    [Clean Energy Action is fundraising to support the dissemination of this report through December 11. Contribute here.]

    Author's note: Want to support my work? Please "fan" me at Huffpost Denver, here (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anne-butterfield). Thanks.

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    Anne's previous NewEnergyNews columns:

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT), November 26, 2013
  • SOLAR FOR ME BUT NOT FOR THEE ~ Xcel's Push to Undermine Rooftop Solar, September 20, 2013
  • NEW BILLS AND NEW BIRDS in Colorado's recent session, May 20, 2013
  • Lies, damned lies and politicians (October 8, 2012)
  • Colorado's Elegant Solution to Fracking (April 23, 2012)
  • Shale Gas: From Geologic Bubble to Economic Bubble (March 15, 2012)
  • Taken for granted no more (February 5, 2012)
  • The Republican clown car circus (January 6, 2012)
  • Twenty-Somethings of Colorado With Skin in the Game (November 22, 2011)
  • Occupy, Xcel, and the Mother of All Cliffs (October 31, 2011)
  • Boulder Can Own Its Power With Distributed Generation (June 7, 2011)
  • The Plunging Cost of Renewables and Boulder's Energy Future (April 19, 2011)
  • Paddling Down the River Denial (January 12, 2011)
  • The Fox (News) That Jumped the Shark (December 16, 2010)
  • Click here for an archive of Butterfield columns

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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

    email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    Your intrepid reporter

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

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

  • ---------------
  • Friday, November 30, 2007

    ELECTRIC VEHICLES ARE GOOD FOR YOUR WORLD

    This is the 4th in a wonderful series about Electric Vehicles [EVs] from Bagatelle-Black and EV World. (The 1st three: I: A Tale of Two Hybrids, II: An Electric Vehicle Primer, III: Why Drive Electric?)

    Bagatelle-Black ends with this important caution: “The oil industry has unimaginable amounts of money at its disposal. When they spend a tiny portion of their profits trying to create the illusion that EVs are just as bad for the environment as [Internal Combustion Engine]-powered cars, countless media outlets pick up their stories. When they try to discredit the scientific community’s conclusion that our cars are dangerously warming the globe, millions of people take them seriously. It is up to every person who cares about our planet to counter these misinformation campaigns. It is up to you to spread the truth about EVs to people who have been inundated by oil industry propaganda…”

    Electric Vehicles and the Environment
    Forbes Bagatelle-Black, November 27, 2007 (EV World)

    WHO
    Forbes Bagatelle-Black, engineer and EV enthusiast; Drivers concerned about the pollution produced by their vehicles

    “Get all your cars on the grid, then clean up the grid!” ...Paul Scott, co-founder, Plug-In America (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    Bagatelle-Black: “By the end of this article, readers should understand why it is better for the environment to power cars with electricity from the grid instead of gasoline made from oil.”

    WHEN
    Bagatelle-Black: “ICE: Internal Combustion Engine – The smog-belching, globe-warming automobile powerplants used in the dark ages of the 20th Century…”

    WHERE
    - Bagatelle-Black: “The total amount of pollution reduction [from driving an EV] for any location would depend on the local power plants. Areas with cleaner power plants would decrease overall pollution more than areas with dirty plants. However, nearly all urban areas would see a major improvement in local air quality because power plants are generally located far away from population centers while tail pipes produce smog right where we live and work.”
    - Bagatelle-Black: “In areas where the grid is relatively “clean,” such as California and Arizona, EVs would reduce automobile-related greenhouse gas emissions by 71% or more…”



    WHY
    - Bagatelle-Black: “According to research compiled by Sherry Boschert, author of the book, Plug-in Hybrids: The Cars that Will Recharge America, use of EVs would reduce the amount of NOx [Nitrogen Oxides – Chemicals which create smog and other health hazards] generated by automobiles somewhere between 32 and 99%. Different studies have arrived at different figures, but virtually all agree that the reduction in NOx and other local pollutants would be significant…”
    - Bagatelle-Black: “Greenhouse gases, on the other hand, are a serious problem whether they are produced next door or on the other side of the globe. EVs can reduce this burden on the environment as well. As is the case for smog-forming pollutants, an EV would produce absolutely no greenhouse gases if it were charged from a grid that was fueled by power plants which produced no greenhouse gases. However, EVs produce far fewer greenhouse gases even when charged by today’s old-fashioned grid. In his research paper entitled Debunking the Myth of EVs and Smokestacks, Chip Gribben concludes that EVs charging exclusively from power generated by old-fashioned, coal-burning plants would still reduce CO2 emissions by 17 to 22% relative to ICE-powered cars…”



    QUOTES
    - Paul Scott, co-founder, Plug-In America: “Get all your cars on the grid, then clean up the grid!”
    - Bagatelle-Black: “If we start switching our cars to grid power right now, then they will benefit directly from advancements and improvements in renewable power generation. As fossil fuels become scarcer and more expensive, power plants using alternative energy sources will fuel an increasing percentage of our grid power demand. If we are using EVs as this transition occurs, we can keep driving along without having to rebuild our transportation infrastructure. When fossil fuels run out completely, we will be ready!”

    TEXAS CAPITAL TO ROPE IN WIND

    The cost of the wind energy purchase described here is very high. It would seem like a very bad investment if it weren’t being made by Austin, Texas, which has been ahead of the curve on energy and environmental issues for a long time. Austin expects the cost of fossil fuel electricity to go up so much in the next 15 years, driven by climate change-induced carbon costs and rising demand everywhere in the world, that this purchase will end up looking as smart as everything else the city’s utility has done.

    “…time will tell just who fell/And who’s been left behind…” Bob Dylan sang. Yes, it will.


    More wind blowing for Austin Energy; Utility to begin selling more renewable power in January
    Kate Alexander, November 21, 2007 (Austin American-Statesman)

    WHO
    The city of Austin, TX (Mayor Will Wynn, aide Matt Watson); city utility Austin Energy (spokesman Carlos Cordova)

    Clearly this is what those Austin cowboys have in mind.

    WHAT
    Through its GreenChoice program, Austin Energy funds New Energy projects and offers its customers the opportunity to incur a portion of the expense for doing the right thing by climate change and the environment through their utility rates. It recently more than doubled the amount of New Energy it can offer its customers with a big purchase of wind energy.

    WHEN
    - The utility will begin selling the new New Energy in January 2008. It has contracted for the wind power supplies for the next 15 years.
    - The new supply of wind energy allows the city to meet its February 2007 “Austin Climate Protection Plan” goal of having all city facilities powered by electricity from renewable sources 4 years ahead of its 2012 objective.

    A different kind of Lone Star.

    WHERE
    - The new wind energy comes from two West Texas wind farms.
    - Austin Energy already sells more New Energy than any other US utility.

    WHY
    - The utility has contracted for 225 megawatts of wind energy from the 2 windfarms.
    Austin Energy gets 11% of its energy from renewable sources. The city’s goal is 30% from renewable sources by 2020.
    - This newest GreenChoice electricity will cost 5.5 cents/kilowatt-hour. That puts the average bill at $55/month, $19/month more than a non-GreenChoice average bill.
    - This is the 5th batch of renewable energy the city has bought since it began the program in 2001 andit is 57% more expensive than the last (2006) batch due to rising costs in the wind energy industry. The city expects to do will with its purchase, however, over the 15 years of the contract.

    Costs are already leveling out and the US hasn't even started paying for its emissions. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    Watson, for Mayor Wynn: "History demonstrates that, over the life of the contract, this will end up being an economic win for the ratepayers and the taxpayers that support municipal operations…"

    BIG SOLAR FURNACE SALE

    In the tradition of the nineteenth century energy giants, New Energy companies describe themselves as “vertically intergrated” if their business covers the widest spectrum of energy services from obtaining raw materials “upstream” to transforming those raw materials into consumable fuel “midstream” to serving the retail marketplace “downstream.”

    Yingli Energy is such a vertically integrated company. It obtains supplies of silicon, makes solar wafers and cells and combines those into solar panels which it then can deliver and have installed for end-users. Maybe someday soon you will drive into a Yingli “service station” and drive out with a solar energy system.


    GT Solar & Yingli Green Energy Sign $56M Silicon Furnace Contract
    November 27, 2007 (Business Wire via Yahoo Finance)

    WHO
    GT Solar Incorporated (Tom Zarrella, Pres/CEO) and Yingli Green Energy Holding Company Limited (LianSheng Miao, Pres)

    Yingli Energy's vertical integration covers the full spectrum of solar energy. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    $56 million is the price Yingli will pay for GT Solar’s state-of-the-art DSS450 silicon ingot furnaces.

    WHEN
    Yingli expects the purchased furnaces to be installed by 2009.

    Not for baking the Christmas turkey: GT Solar's GSS furnace and...

    WHERE
    - This purchase will extend Yingli Energy’s “upstream” capacity.
    - Yingli is based in China.
    - GT Solar is based in Merrimack, NH

    WHY
    - The furnaces grow multi-crystalline silicon ingots. Each furnace produces 160 to 210 ingots/year. Each ingot is 400 to 450 kilograms and represents an estimated 4+ megawatts of solar energy capacity.
    - Installation of the purchased furnaces will bring Yingli’s capacity to 600 megawatts.
    - This is Yingli’s fourth furnace purchase from GT Solar.

    ...the huge silicon ingot it cooks.

    QUOTES
    - Zarrella, GT Solar: "Yingli is a leader in the growth of solar energy production in Asia and throughout the world. Their purchase of our new DSS 450 furnace will provide up to 80% more capacity per cycle and within the same footprint of our prior generation furnace."
    - LianSheng Miao, Yingli Green Energy: "We have worked with GT Solar since 2002, and have built an important part of our business around their equipment. The contract will support us to ramp up our ingot capacity from current 200MW to 400MW by the end of 2008 and 600MW in 2009."

    CHINA & UK TO CLEAN COAL TOGETHER

    Because China's main source of electricity is coal, its stated goals to cut energy unit/GDP unit 20% below 2005 levels and cut pollution 10% by 2010 are extremely challenging.

    Here’s the first irony: Given the cost of state-of-the-art “clean coal” technology right now, the huge expense could help China achieve the reduced “energy unit/GDP unit” goal - by reducing China's GDP, not by reducing energy consumption.

    Second irony: Even if the technology works, it will do nothing for China’s 2010 goals since the plant won’t be operational before 2014.

    Third irony: Any energy and pollution reductions that come from this technology will be more than offset by China’s projected snowballing increases in energy consumption.

    Research is a vital undertaking. NewEnergyNews simply suspects that research into how to get solar and wind and marine energy costs down and production up would be more to the point.

    But that wouldn’t funnel research funds to Big Coal.


    Joint carbon project launched
    November 21, 2007 (China Daily via China Economic Net)

    WHO
    China’s Ministry of Science and Technology and the British government

    China is hungry for energy of any and every kind. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    The Near Zero Emission Coal project, sponsored by the Chinese and UK governments, will develop a carbon-capture-and-sequestration (CCS) demonstration plant in China.

    WHEN
    - A demonstration plant is expected to be ready in 2014.
    - Modeling and development of sites is expected to take 2 years.

    Many argue US success controlling NOx emissions from coal-fired plants offers reason to believe CCS technology can succeed. Not really. (click to enlarge)

    WHERE
    The demonstration plant will be in China.

    WHY
    - The first phase will cost $4 million. It will entail technology models and development of sequestration sites.
    - Phase 2 will be research on capture and storage possibilities with the aim to choose the best option.
    - The 3rd phase will be construction.

    Carbon capture is a complex and imperfect technology. And that's just part of the process. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Li Gao, director, Center for China's Agenda 21/UN sustainable development program: "The technology for capturing and storing carbon safely and effectively is developing fast and will eventually become the standard for fossil fuels…The government will help fund R&D projects to capture and store carbon in the hope of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and achieving efficient use of fossil fuels…"
    - Barbara Woodward, UK deputy ambassador to China: "Developed countries should take the lead in cutting emissions and build teamwork with developing countries to tackle climate change…"

    Thursday, November 29, 2007

    ENERGY ALONG PARTY LINES

    Headlines in the New York and LA Times, the Wall Street Journal and many other news outlets this week promised insights into congressional action on pending energy legislation but uniformly focused just on the price of gas at the pump, auto fuel standards, the ethanol scam and the future of biofuels. There is a lot more at stake in the energy bill emerging from compromise talks between House and Senate powers.

    First and foremost, there must be some kind of legislated incentives for New Energy. Will the Renewable Electricity Standard (RES), requiring US utilities to obtain 15% of their power from renewable sources by 2020, stay in the package? Will the proposed compromise allowing 4% of the 15% to come from efficiency efforts get it through the Senate?

    If there is no RES, there MUST be extensions of Production Tax Credits (PTCs) and Investment Tax Credits (ITCs) for New Energy. If one or the other is not included, invest in beachfront property in Greenland.

    Meanwhile, below is a non-partisan look at what the 2008 presidential candidates are promising. Some candidates promise to resolve important issues at play in the pending legislation. Some just make promises:

    “…The Senate recently passed a bill that would increase the average fuel economy of cars and light trucks to 35 miles per gallon...by 2017...Democratic candidates would go much further. Clinton would require 40 miles per gallon by 2020 and 55 miles per gallon by 2030. Edwards would require 40 miles per gallon by 2016, and Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico would require 50 miles per gallon by 2020…”

    Expect congressional action to come before Santa. Don't expect those mileage standards.


    The truth is it’s time to move away from liquid fuel to plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

    In ’08 race, U.S. party lines sharply drawn on energy
    Edmund L. Andrews, November 28, 2007 (International Herald Tribune)

    WHO
    - Democratic and Republican candidates for their parties’ 2008 presidential nominations
    - For the major candidates’ official website energy policy presentations:
    Biden, Clinton, Edwards, Giulani, Huckabee, McCain, Obama, Richardson, Romney, Thompson

    click to see your favorite better

    WHAT
    The candidates are split, mostly along party lines, and the differences have significant implications for the direction of US energy policy.

    WHEN
    Voters will begin selecting their party nominees January 3 in Iowa. The 2008 general election is just less than a year off.

    WHERE
    The importance to voters will be in how the nominees’ positions would affect gas and electricity prices. Democrats’ emphasis on the development of biofuels might lead to short term pump price increases. Republicans’ emphasis on more oil drilling would take years to impact supplies. Both policies would likely drive prices down in the longer run. But each plan has a flaw. There may not be adequate supplies of biofuels to sustain a downward impact on pump prices and more drilling might worsen the nation’s addiction to petroleum fuels and aggravate the burdens of climate change.

    WHY
    - Democrats’ plans focus on cutting oil dependence and slowing climate change: repeal tax breaks to big oil, spend billions for alternatives, get more efficiencies from vehicles.
    - Republicans’ plans focus on producing more domestic energy: drill the oceans and Alaska, develop coal-to-liquids and biofuels.
    - Democrats would restrict greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions with mandates for alternatives; Republicans would not interfere with market forces.
    - There are crossover (“blurred”) issues: Barack Obama supports coal-to-liquids (if they are from “clean” coal) and will consider nuclear. Hillary Rodham Clinton is “agnostic” on nuclear. John McCain has repeatedly opposed drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. McCain and Mike Huckabee are the only Republican candidates to support mandatory limits on GHG emissions. Huckabee recently called climate change action a moral issue.
    - In general, the Republicans separate the questions of energy and climate change while the Democrats see them as linked.

    Actually the 2008 election will be on November 4 but the promises don't change much from election to election.

    QUOTES
    - Leo Hindery, chief economic adviser to John Edwards: "There are no short-term solutions…"
    - R. Glenn Hubbard, top economic adviser to Mitt Romney: "The truth is that the answer to high prices is high prices…This is one area where the public expects more from politicians than politicians can deliver."
    - Romney, on energy policy associated with energy policy: "Now is not the right time to raise taxes on our oil companies…While it is likely that human activity is contributing to climate change, I am not sure how much, or what we can do to significantly reduce or reverse this effect…[new mandates for renewable fuels should be] a collaborative effort between industry, scientists, and the agriculture and energy communities."

    COLORADAN PROPOSES CARBON TAX

    Not surprisingly, this politically unpopular tax is proposed as a ballot measure by a failed political candidate. Ironically, most economists agree a tax would be a more effective way to curb greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. But, given adamant public opposition to any new tax measure, no candidate who still expects to run for office would propose it.

    Despite its admirably provocative and progressive nature, even in Colorado this proposal faces an electorate disinclined to charge itself the price of correction, despite its concern with climate change.

    Too, there are significant complexities in an emissions tax. First, what is the fair thing to do with the revenues? Second, how high does the tax need to be to curb consumers appetites? Because these questions raise such problems, many prefer a cap-and-trade system as the means to cut emissions.

    And, Colorado’s governor is probably right that a single state acting alone would only handicap itself economically (in the short run). This is a national matter and needs to be handled by Washington.

    What’s that NewEnergyNews is hearing? The sound of politicians running?


    Proposal calls for carbon tax
    Mike Saccone, November 24, 2007 (Grand Junction Daily Sentinel)

    WHO
    Failed Democratic House of Representatives candidate Sue Radford; the Colorado Legislative Council; Colorado Governor Bill Ritter; Evan Dreyer, Ritter spokesman

    click to enlarge

    WHAT
    Radford’s ballot proposal asks voters to approve a fee to energy companies for GHG emissions produced in electricity generation. The fee, Radford’s measure assumes, would be passed to consumers in their electric bills. But the revenues would be redistributed to ratepayers via sales, business, personal property and payroll tax cuts and rebates.

    WHEN
    - Radford lost a bid for the House of Representatives in 2006
    - With enough signatures, the proposal could make Colorado’s 2008 ballot.

    WHERE
    - Radford lives in Fort Collins, Colorado.
    - Her tax proposal would only apply to Colorado.

    WHY
    - Radford’s proposal is sponsored by the Colorado Clean Energy Tax Shift.
    - Unlike many taxes, Radford’s proposed fee would not be to generate revenue for the government but to discourage consumption of GHG-producing energy. Nevertheless, revenues would be huge because consumption of GHG-producing energy is enormous. Thus, Radford’s proposal to redistribute the money.
    - Realizing the tax could not be handled by politicians as a legislative measure, Radford chose the ballot measure process.
    - Governor Ritter’s recent emissions-reduction plans did not include a tax. His spokesperson said that acting alone on this would put the state at an economic disadvantage.

    Despite contentions that a carbon tax is simpler than a cap-and-trade system, the tax has complexities, too: How much of a tax will it take? What is best to do with the revenues? (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Radford, on her carbon tax proposal: “I am somebody who is deeply concerned about the way our climate is changing…A carbon tax is the most fair and comprehensive and transparent and enforceable way of dealing with the problem…When you do that, the amount of revenue you collect becomes large, and you don’t want to remove that kind of money from the economy or expand government that much…So the best thing to do, seeing that our climate is a shared resource … is to refund the money.”
    - Evan Dreyer, spokesman for the Colorado governor: “A carbon tax imposed by a single state would be very difficult to administer…This is the sort of thing that should be considered only on a national scale…If demand is strong enough, emissions will still rise despite the tax…There is no guaranteed cap on emissions.”

    UNRESTRAINED IN CHINA

    This is a lengthy and fascinating piece, filled with local details. Here is the gist:

    Despite its proclaimed intentions to cut back, China will become the world’s biggest GHG emitter in 2008. And its coal consumption is expected to double in the next 20 years.

    Theoretically, the central government has control. Ironically, local officials are telling the Chinese central government the same thing the Chinese central government is telling the world: "As a less developed region, Ningxia needs time to progress and develop. We're working hard to close the gap between us and the other provinces."

    Environmentalists say the central government must crack down. Yet it has not done so. Perhaps it does not want to repress economic growth. Perhaps it fears a backlash. On the other hand, it must control environmental degradation and pollution or public health will produce its own reaction.

    Worst case scenario: Air and water pollution become so bad they create an emergency that FORCES cutbacks. It happened in
    London in 1952.

    Far from Beijing’s reach, officials bend energy rules
    Howard W. French, November 23, 2007 (International Herald Tribune)

    WHO
    Chinese central government (Wen Jiabao, China's premier) Qingtongxia regional government, Qingtongxia Aluminum Group

    With 70% of 1300+ gigawatts of planned energy coming from coal, China is clearly fighting a desperate battle. (From the 2007 IEA Energy Outlook. Click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    When the Chinese central government required the Qingtongxia regional government raise electricity prices, local officials – fearing economic consequences - arranged for Qingtongxia Aluminum Group, the local industrial giant, to avoid higher power prices by going off the national electricity grid.

    WHEN
    The example in Qingtongxia came after central government action in 2005 to cut consumption.

    WHERE
    Qingtongxia is in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region of western China, remote from the national government’s seat in Beijing.

    WHY
    - Qingtongxia Aluminum Group consumes 20% of the region’s industrial power and earns 10% of its GDP.
    - Beijing says it will cut 20% of energy use/dollar of output because energy consumption has quadrupled since 1980. So far it is cutting 1.23% and statistics are not improving.
    - The central government’s drive to cut energy consumption runs exactly counter to localities’ drives to grow and prosper.
    Visitors to the Ningxia region’s capital can literally see the unfinished quality of the city.
    - Beijing has in the recent past negotiated with localities, striking compromises between its goals and local needs. This year it has begun citing the localities for violations.
    - The next step may be to see if the violation citations can be enforced as local entrepreneurs conspire with local officials, both of whom have the same goals, to concoct technicalities and circumvent restrictions.

    China has options. Will it exercise them or will it suffer the consequences of the worst case scenario? (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Wen Jiabao: "Understanding is not adequate, responsibilities are unclear, measures are not complementary, policies are incomplete, investment doesn't arrive, and coordination is ineffective…If these problems are not turned around, it will be difficult to achieve any obvious progress."
    - Ningxia industrialist, justifying local violation of central government dictates: "It's such a simple theory to say that everyone knows you make more profit growing bananas than potatoes…But how can you force people to grow bananas on land where only potatoes will grow? Ningxia is a land of potatoes, and it is our natural resources and environment that determine everything."
    - Lin Boqiang, director, China Energy Research Institute/Xiamen University: "To get reforms implemented, two things have to be done…One is to rate the local government's performance on compliance, and if they don't comply telling people they have to go. The other is introducing financially meaningful penalties. We haven't seen either of these yet."

    ARCTIC CIRCLE WIND POWER

    The supposed "nuclear renaissance" and promises of so-called “clean” coal keep grabbing the headlines but day in and day out wind and solar energy developers go on building the New Energy infrastructure of the future. Earlier this week NewEnergyNews reported on developments in Mexico and Maine. Yesterday, South Dakota and Alberta on the North American central plains. Today it’s the Arctic Circle. Coming soon: Austin, Texas, Morocco and Chile.

    Aside: A 1997 wind energy installation succumbed to the harsh Alaskan winter. Wind turbine technology has come a long way in the intervening decade.


    Alaskan espouses town’s benefit from wind energy
    November 21, 2007 (CBC News)

    WHO
    Brad Reeve, president, Kotzebue Electric Association; Wade Carpenter, chairman, conference organizing committee;

    Alaska has impressive wind resources on its enormous coastline. Kotzebue is near the center of the western coast on the Chukchi Sea. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    Reeve will speak on behalf of developing wind energy resources in the harsh northwest climate at an upcoming conference put on by wind energy advocates.

    WHEN
    - The conference will be November 28-30.
    - Reeve’s electric co-operative has been getting 5% of its electricity from wind turbines installed in 1999.

    WHERE
    - The conference will be in Tuktoyaktuk, North West Territories (N.W.T.), Canada.
    - Reeve’s electric co-op serves northwest Alaska and is centered in the coastal community of Kotzebue, where the climate is as harsh as that of Tuktoyaktuk.

    WHY
    - 50 delegates from NWT government and the wind energy industry, as well as local and Inuvialuit leaders, are expected at the Tuktoyaktuk conference.
    - Kotzebue’s population is 3500. The electric co-op has found that wind energy saves the community money, not dramatically but over time.
    - Reeve’s goal is to obtain 20% of Kotzebue’s electricity from wind.
    - The region’s dominant fossil fuel is diesel gasoline so one objective of the conference is developing a diesel-wind interface.
    - A 1997 trial of wind energy in the N.W.T. community of Sachs Harbour failed so another objective of the conference is to demonstrate improved turbine technology.
    - The February 2007 Executive Progress Report for Wind Energy Monitoring in Six communities in the NWT described wind potential for Tuktoyaktuk “sufficient for a wind farm with careful planning.”

    Tuktoyaktuk, North West Territories (N.W.T.), Canada(click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Reeve: "I think most people would assume that if you put in wind that it's going to drop your costs dramatically…There isn't a huge impact … on their bills at this point, but it will increase over time…Using nature as a part of a means of power makes a lot of sense…When you deal with the extreme transportation costs we've got up here to get anything into the community, and especially fuel, that any time you don't have to bring a gallon of fuel into the community, that leaves money in the community."
    - Carpenter: "[We] basically try to let them know the ins and outs of wind-diesel systems…There's a lot of windy places in the N.W.T., so we have to look at the economics and see if its a reasonable thing for the N.W.T. to get involved with."

    Wednesday, November 28, 2007

    GOOGLE GOES GAA-GAA FOR NEW ENERGY

    Is Google selflessly safeguarding earth? Sort of. But Google operates enormous data centers and needs lower electricity prices. If New Energy sources don’t produce power at lower prices, the cost will inevitably rise as climate change concerns force utilities to include the price of carbon into their rates.

    Google will also own rights to any breakthrough technology its R&D funds generate. So it stands to do well by doing good in that way, too.

    New Energy (wind, sun, marine, geothermal and other renewables) is inevitable because it's a game where everybody wins. That’s why Old Energy (fossil fuels and nuclear) is fighting so hard to keep it a game they win and everybody else loses. But Old Energy is only fighting the future.


    Google’s big bet on renewable energy; Search giant vows to spend hundreds of millions on new technologies
    Verne Kopytoff, November 27, 2007 (San Francisco Chronicle)

    WHO
    Google Inc. (Larry Page & Sergey Brin, co-founders, Bill Weihl, New Energy head)

    Google's Mountain View, CA, campus is powered by a huge solar array.

    WHAT
    In an effort to drive technological breakthroughs that will bring costs down, Google announced a project of investment in New Energy research and development it is calling "Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal."

    WHEN
    Immediate plans call for investments of tens of millions in 2008.

    This continuously updated online display reports the output of Google's solar panel project.

    WHERE
    - Few specifics have been released but partners will include innovative companies, universities and labs.
    - Google presently works with ESolar of Pasadena and Makani Power of Alameda.

    WHY
    - Google uses so much electricity to run its data centers it will not state the amount. Its Mountain View facility’s solar panel project displays a continuous update of its output.
    - Google will own rights to technologies its R&D funds produce.
    - ESolar designs and builds solar thermal power plants. Makani Power is developing high altitude wind energy concepts.
    - Google will hire engineers to work solar thermal and geothermal concepts.
    Weihl says the competitive level for the price of New Energy would be 1 to 3 cents/kilowatt-hour.

    Google's founders intend to take the blessings of solar power beyond the Googleplex.

    QUOTES
    Page, Google: "Solar isn't currently cheaper than coal…That's the point of this - to get it there."

    CONTAINER SHIPS POWERED BY KITES

    Noted investment banker and peak oil spokesman Matthew Simmons talked enthusiastically about this idea in his recent Financial Sense Newshour interview with Jim Puplava, All the Canaries Have Stopped Singing.

    Shipping Companies Harness the Wind to Save on Energy
    Shelley Emling, November 23, 2007 (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

    WHO
    Big cargo ships, the “lifeblood of global trade”; SkySails (Stephan Wrage, founder & Sonja Schreiner, spokeswoman); Beluga Group; KiteShip Corp.; John Barnes, editor, Marine Engineers Review; Oivind Mathisen, editor, Cruise Industry News

    SkySails

    WHAT
    Companies are manufacturing giant kites attached by flexible cable to ocean-going vessels to reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

    WHEN
    - The Beluga Group’s ocean freighter Beluga SkySails sets out Dec. 15 for Houston, TX, with its first cargo, a shipment of windmills from Esbjerg, Denmark.
    - SkySails began with kite-propulsion systems for luxury yachts in 2001. It plans to sell kites in the general marketplace by 2008. Its goal for 2015 is to be on 1,500 ships. Stephan Wrage came up with the SkySails idea when he was 15.

    WHERE
    - The Beluga Group is based in Bremen, Germany.
    - SkySails is based in Hamburg, Germany.
    - KiteShip Corp. in based in Martinez, CA.

    WHY
    - SkySails flies 1,000 feet above sea level where winds are 50% stronger than surface winds.
    - SkySails can cut fuel consumption and GHGs 35% to 50% under optimal conditions.
    - The shipping industry may cause twice the GHGs of air traffic.
    - KiteShip Corp. has made its kites mostly for private yachts but presently plans to expand into cargo and cruise vessels.
    - 2 drawbacks: (1) the cost of crews to tend the kites; (2) the system doesn’t work in a head wind.
    - Cruise ships: impractical unless itineraries are designed according to wind conditions.

    If investment banker Matt Simmons backs the idea, the numbers must add up. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Beluga Group statement: "…a decrease of fuel consumption as well as a cutback of the emission of harmful greenhouse gases on sea by 10 percent to 20 percent is the expected outcome of the pioneering application of SkySails."
    - Barnes, Marine Engineers Review: "This could work, but there is an extra cost entailed, and it won't make much sense if the price of fuel falls back…It seems to be a practical approach, but we still need to see what the benefits and penalties will be."
    - Schreiner, SkySails: “[Emissions restrictions necessitate considering kite power.] This is especially the case in coastal areas frequented by cruise ships — the latest example being the United States — where more and more sanctions are being imposed to reduce emissions…"
    - Mathisen, Cruise Industry News: "In addition to propulsion, cruise ships also need to generate electricity for a variety of uses, from air conditioning to keeping the beer cold, which again would mean a reliable source of energy…[But given rising fuel prices] I think the need will drive innovation, and maybe the towing kite is indeed the first step in that direction."

    S. DAKOTA GETS BIG WIND PLANT

    Old Energy keeps warning about economic losses if the public turns away from it. New Energy keeps building more capacity, making new jobs and growing local economies.

    GE Energy has, this fall, announced $1.5 billion in agreements to supply more than a gigawatt of wind energy capacity in the US and Europe. GE Energy will do $4 billion+ in wind energy business for 2008.

    Think these 750 new jobs will do any good for Aberdeen’s economy? It could happen in your town.


    MFG Announces Opening of New Manufacturing Facility to Support GE Energy’s Growing Wind Business
    November 19, 2007 (Business Wire via Yahoo Finance)

    WHO
    GE Energy (Victor Abate, Vice President-Renewables); Molded Fiber Glass Companies (MFG) (Richard Morrison, CEO); Aberdeen Development Corporation (ADC); Mike Rounds, Governor, South Dakota

    The blade for a 1.5 megawatt turbine is no small manufacturing undertaking.

    WHAT
    MFG broke ground on a $40 million wind turbine blade manufacturing plant that will bring 750 new jobs to Aberdeen, South Dakota.

    WHEN
    Groundbreaking was November 19. The plant is expected to be operational in 2008.

    WHERE
    - The plant will be in Aberdeen, South Dakota.
    - GE Energy is based in Atlanta, GA.
    - MFG is based in Ashtabula, Ohio.

    WHY
    - ADC will own. MFG will lease and operate.
    - The $40 million plant will build blades for GE Energy’s 1.5 megawatt turbines. It will create 750 new jobs.
    - GE Energy has built more than half of US wind energy capacity in 2006-07.

    With the worldwide wind energy market growing faster in 2007 than ever before and expected to grow still faster in 2008, it doesn't look like Aberdeen's plant will lack for activity. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Abate, GE Energy: “GE currently has over 6,500 1.5-megawatt wind turbines in operation worldwide. By the end of 2008, we expect that number to exceed 10,000 units…The new MFG facility in Aberdeen will significantly increase the manufacturing capacity of our supply chain, as we continue to face strong demand for wind turbines in the U.S. and worldwide.”
    - Morrison, MFG: “Today’s groundbreaking represents a new milestone in the commercial relationship between MFG and GE Energy…We are pleased to continue supporting GE’s efforts in the wind energy industry, which is experiencing unprecedented growth around the world. We are also grateful to the team in the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and their hard work to make this happen in South Dakota.”
    - Governor Rounds: “We applaud MFG and GE for bringing new jobs to our region…It makes good business sense for a leader in the wind industry like GE to have its wind blades manufactured in the heart of North America’s best wind energy resource.”

    CANADA GOES SOLAR WITH BIPV

    An inverter is a New Energy necessity: It transforms the current created by a wind or solar system into a current that can be sent into the grid. Grid-tied systems provide end-users the flexibility of drawing from the New Energy system when it is producing or from the grid when the sun is down or the wind is calm.

    Sustainable Energy Technologies: Canada to Fund World-Leading Building Integrated Solar Pilot Projects
    November 21, 2007 (Marketwire via Yahoo Finance)

    WHO
    Sustainable Energy Technologies Ltd. (Michael Carten, President/CEO), Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), Day 4 Energy, Solar Wall

    With solar units integrated into the structure's design and an inverter to take the electrons into the grid, everything is in place. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    Sustainable’s SUNERGY(TM) inverter will be used in NRCan’s Solar Buildings Research Network (SBRN) , a series of building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) solar projects.

    WHEN
    Announcement by Sustainable November 19.

    WHERE
    Sustainable Energy is based in Calgary Alberta.

    The Sunergy configuration keeps the electrons flowing even when a panel is obscured. (click to enlarge)

    WHY
    - Sustainable will partner with Day 4 and Solar Wall in demonstration projects to prove the special value for BIPV of Sustainable's patented power inverter technology.
    - Sustainable’s SUNERGY inverter is able to handle the short low voltage module strings of BIPV systems. Typical PV panel systems have longer, higher voltage strings and are more readily handled by conventional inverters. As demonstrated by the illustrations, the Sunergy configuration allows 75% of peak power to be delivered when a panel is in shade whereas power delivery is disrupted in standard configurations.

    With a standard inverter configuration, a shaded panel stops the power flow. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    Carten, Sustainable Energy: "We are very pleased that Natural Resources has committed funding for these projects which may be the first of their kind in the world…Building integrated solar is where growth in the industry will come from globally, and the projects offer an excellent opportunity for Sustainable to demonstrate our advantages for building integrated solar that conventional inverter technology simply can not deliver."

    Tuesday, November 27, 2007

    BUSH 41 BUYS WIND

    By his own description George H.W. Bush had a problem with “the vison thing” when he was in office - but he’s doing OK now!

    Though some on the left would no doubt accuse the former president of greenwashing, NewEnergyNews prefers to take this as a hopeful sign that Bush 43 will be inclined to back incentives for wind energy in the upcoming energy legislation.

    On the subject of the energy bill, Wall Street rumors about energy package incentives for New Energy drove solar stocks up Monday and Speaker Pelosi told Dow Jones she expects the bill to be finalized this week.


    Ex-president to utilize wind at Walker’s Point; George H.W. Bush decides to have a wind turbine installed for electricity at his Kennebunkport home
    Anne Gleason, November 21, 2007 (Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram)

    WHO
    Former President George H.W. Bush and wife Barbara; Jim Appleby, personal aide to Bush; Southwest Windpower; Bob Greig, president of All Season Home Improvement Co.; Bruce MacDonald, member, Maine Gov. John Baldacci's wind power task force;

    The Walker's Point bungalow, as seen from the beach. The new turbine is to the left. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    The Bushes have installed a “personal” wind turbine at their beachfront home in Maine.

    WHEN
    The Bush home draws little extra power during the winter when the family is not usually in residence but will benefit from the extra electricity during the hot summer months.

    WHERE
    Walker’s Point, Kennebunkport, Maine

    WHY
    - The former President’s spokesman said the pollution-free, emission-free source of energy was installed for financial and environmental reasons. A representative of Southwest Windpower reportedly convinced Bush 41 to put in the turbine.
    - The Skystream 3.7 1.8 kilowatt turbine installed by All Season Home Improvement Co. is expected to generate 400 kilowatt-hours per month of electricity at average windspeeds of 12 mph. A 33-foot tower was built for the 12-foot, 3-blade rotor.
    - The turbine is grid-tied, feeds unused electricity back in and can draw from local sources when the power supplied from it is inadequate for the home’s needs.
    - The installation is expected to publicize and greatly benefit small wind installations.

    A better view of the Kennebunkport turbine. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Appleby: "After looking at the specifications, the pros and the cons, [President and Mrs. Bush] decided that they'd give [the wind turbine] a try…"
    - Grieg, the installer: "When [the former President] comes up [after not using power and feeding it into the grid all winter], he should have a substantial credit on his bill to start off the summer…"
    - MacDonald, Maine governor’s wind energy task force: "I think [small wind turbines are] a good thing…It's happening right now. People are looking for alternatives…"

    OPEC GOES GREEN?

    The theme of OPEC’s recent 2-day summit: "Providing petroleum, promoting prosperity and protecting the environment." (Really.) During the proceedings, OPEC came out advocating carbon capture and sequestration (CCS).

    Here’s the question: Who do these guys think they are fooling besides themselves? They apparently assume that any capture of coal plant emissions will free consumers to spew more from their tailpipes. But if the marketplace gets a chance to freely act, clean coal and more abundant clean electricity will lead in a straight line to plug-in hybrids and battery-driven vehicles.

    Furthermore, there are objections to the process because it has not been shown to capture anywhere near all greenhouse gases (GHGs) generated by burning coal. And there are fears underground storage chambers could rupture and release seriously toxic gases. Finally, diminishing emissions during the burning of coal does nothing to mitigate emissions generated during coal’s mining and transport.

    At a different venue, Shell’s chief scientist emphasized CCS’ incompleteness as a technology and the need for further development of it, concluding with a quote from Bob Dylan, perhaps one of the most unusual contexts in which the 60s icon has been quoted: "You don't have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows." (Somebody might want to mention that one to the few remaining climate change deniers.)

    Bottom line: Clean coal is still an oxymoron. Perhaps new information will turn up at
    Carbon Capture; Status and Outlook, December 3-5, 2007, Wahington, D.C.

    OPEC to put carbon capture at heart of new green agenda
    November 16, 2007 (AFP via Yahoo News)
    and
    Shell contemplating GHG science
    Paula Dittrick, November 19, 2007 (Oil & Gas Journal)

    WHO
    Chakib Khelil, energy minister, Algeria; Ali al-Nuaimi, Oil Minister, Saudi Arabia; Yvo de Boer, executive secretary, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); Charlie Williams, chief scientist, Royal Dutch Shell PLC

    Removing CO2 from coal-fired power generation burning is a complex and imperfect technology, hardly something that can justify OPEC's unmitigated emissions-spewing. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    - CCS, more popularly known as “clean” coal, was emphasized as a way of dealing with climate change by leaders at the OPEC summit.
    - Williams talked about long-term storage logistics, support facilities for sequestration, public acceptance, and consistent regulations for CCS at a Shell-sponsored symposium.

    WHEN
    - The OPEC summit was November 16-17. It was the 3rd summit in OPEC’s 47 years.
    - Williams statements came November 15.

    WHERE
    - The summit was held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Foreign, finance and oil ministers from the 12 member countries attended.
    - The Shell International Science Symposium: Future Approaches in Subsurface Chemistry and Physics was held in Rijswijk, the Netherlands.
    - Demonstration CCS projects are currently underway in Canada, Algeria and the North Sea. The US is set to begin a major trial program at locations in Illinois or Texas.

    WHY
    - The discussion of CCS is widely recognized as an important acknowledgement of climate change by the oil-producing nations’ leaders.
    - CCS is a technology still underdevelopment. It would capture carbon dioxide and other GHG emissions as the coal is burned to make steam turn a turbine to generate electricity. - The captured emissions would be stored harmlessly underground.
    - The process adds cost to electricity generation and is not yet proven.
    - Williams asserted that CCS carried with it long-term liabilities for storing, monitoring, and verifying the location and any movement of stored CO2 and insisted governments must be prepared to take these responsibilities, create standards and set up rules.
    - Williams also talked about the burden of costs CCS brought with it and talked about a need to incorporate the expense into the marketplace.

    Several types of sequestration are being tried. Recent research is encouraging. But none of the options is thoroughly tested yet, much less proven. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Yvo de Boer, UNFCCC: “[An OPEC commitment to carbon capture and sequestration would be a] very constructive outcome of the deliberations at the heads of state level…I think the debate here points to a constructive willingness to participate in international dialogue about climate change…"
    - Ali al-Nuaimi, Saudi Oil Minister: "[OPEC leaders have shown a] recognition that oil is a major contributor to the greenhouse effect, but also a willingness to talk about how oil can be produced and brought to market in a cleaner way."
    - Williams, chief scientist, Shell: "The world's energy needs could increase by 50% in about 25 years…That is the equivalent of 100 million b/d of oil…We have to have energy security through energy diversity…We're going to have to deal with CO2 and the CO2 footprint…We do have a lot of technology today...but government and society have a key role to play."

    TERMITE ENERGY

    Until recently, cellulosic ethanol represented the most likely biofuel that would not require more energy to make than it generated. With emerging information about biofuels derived from algae, that has changed.

    Fuel’s Gold: Termites point way to new dawn of bio-energy
    November 22, 2007 (AFP)

    WHO
    Andreas Brune, Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology; Eddy Rubin, director, Joint Genome Institute (JGI)/US Department of Energy; ccientists from California Institute of Technology (Caltech), biofuels company Verenium Corp., the National Biodiversity Institute (INBio) of Costa Rica and the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center

    Might the humble termite soon determine the kind of ethanol that fuels our cars? Or was that yesterday's best bet?

    WHAT
    Termites capacity to digest fiber comes from intestinal enzymes that may point the way to commercial-scale production of cellulosic ethanol. Understanding the genetic sequence of the microbes that produce the enzymes may allow scientists to reproduce the enzymatic processes.

    WHEN
    - Research findings published November 21 in “Nature.”
    - “First generation” ethanol is produced from well-known enzymatic fermentation and distillation of simple carbohydrates in corn and sugar plants not requiring much cellulose breakdown.
    - “Second generation” cellulosic ethanol not been produced at commercial scale economically because of the difficulty of breaking down the cellulose.

    WHERE
    - Gene researchers are studying enzymes in the lowest part of termites’ digestive tract, the “third paunch.”.
    - The researchers are studying bulbous-headed Central American worker termites.

    WHY
    - Microbes in the termites’ intestines exude enzymes capable of releasing nutritional value from the woodiest fibers.
    - Breaking down wood and woody cellulose fibers in non-food plants at economically competitive cost would allow production of ethanol that would (theoretically) not impact food crops or food crop prices.
    - The research, though vital, is only a first step.

    The numbers don't lie. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Andreas Brune, Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology: "In theory, [termites] could transform an A4-sized sheet of paper into two liters (1.8 pints) of hydrogen…"
    - Eddy Rubin, director, Joint Genome Institute (JGI)/US Department of Energy: "Scaling up this process so that biomass factories can produce biofuels more efficiently and economically is another story…To get there, we must define the set of genes with key functional attributes for the breakdown of cellulose and this study represents an essential step along that path."

    MEXICO PLANT BOOMS WITH WIND

    Maquiladoras have flourished in the post-NAFTA era. Some have been accused of abuses. Here is one that looks like it might be trying to do the right thing, providing state-of-the-art blade manufacturing for wind turbines and amenable conditions for its workers.

    The new plant described in this post broke ground March 12 and started production October 18. Could that have happened on the Texas side of the border?


    Maquila benefits from wind-energy growth
    Louie Gilot, November 15, 2007 (El Paso Times)

    WHO
    Wind turbine blade manufacturer VienTek LLC (General Manager Michael Cochrane); mega wind turbine maker Mitsubishi;

    At work on a turbine blade. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    VienTek LLC makes wind turbine blades for Mitsubishi. With the boom in the wind energy industry, VienTek’s business has expanded so much it has just opened a 2nd plant, VienTek II.

    WHEN
    - According to the Department of Energy, wind energy is the fastest-growing energy technology, expanding 30% to 40% yearly. It is still only a little more than 1% of US electricity.
    - VienTek opened in 2002 and has since made 4000+ blades.

    WHERE
    - VienTek is in Juarez, Mexico. It is a joint venture between TPI Composites Inc. (Rhode Island) and Mitsubishi Power Systems (U.S. headquarters in Florida).
    - Blades are shipped out of Santa Teresa, not El Paso.

    WHY
    - VienTek II adds 131,000 square feet to existing manufacturing space of 346,000 square feet.
    - At full capacity, VienTek II will have 10 production lines of 44.7-meter and 46.2-meter 5 to 10 ton blades for new Mitsubishi 2.4-megawatt turbines. The old 29.5-meter blades were for 1-megawatt turbines.
    - 900 employees, mostly men, laying fiberglass and resin into giant molds. They use a patented form of vacuum infusion to pour the resin.
    - 176 new employees were recruited in 3 days last September. Training takes 2 weeks in a designated “training school” area of the plant. There is also a gym and a soccer field on the property.

    Baja has wind resources. Maybe Mitsubishi and VienTek should start thinking about building transmission to population centers. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Cochrane, VienTek GM: “[VienTek II was] designed with some foresight on what the next generation (of blades) might be -- taller, wider, longer…"
    - Norberto Perea, VienTek human-resource manager: "…we didn't have any problem (recruiting) because right now VienTek has a good reputation in the community and people want to work for us…"

    Monday, November 26, 2007

    TURBINES SPOIL THE VIEW?

    Those who oppose wind installations on aesthetic grounds must simply not know what strip mining and mountaintop removal mining for coal look like. They must not know what sludge-filled water below the mines looks like. They must not know what the brown haze over an urban landscape looks like, let alone what it does to the lungs of those living there.

    The bottom line: We need electricity. We all depend on it being there when we flip the switch. But as Mr. Tsipouridis of the Hellenic Wind Energy Association says below, “We’re living in the most polluted era of humanity…it’s sheer hypocrisy to spend so much time talking about wind turbines’ noise and aesthetics.”

    Fears about the noise from wind turbines are outdated. A
    University Of Massachusetts, Amherst, study thoroughly established their safety when properly sited. It has been legally proven that a normal conversation can be held at the base of a big turbine. Most other fears are either equally groundless or would be prevented by careful siting.

    Debating the Merits of Energy From Air
    Joanna Kakissis, November 24, 2007 (NY Times)

    WHO
    Angeliki Synodinou, Mayor, the Greek island of Serifos; Lisa Linowes, executive director, Industrial Wind Action Group; Alistair Danter, wind energy supporter, Isle of Skye;

    Perhaps those who find such elegant additions to the already developed landscape on Panachaiko Mountain overlooking the Gulf of Corinth near the city of Patras objectionable...

    WHAT
    Localities from New Hampshire to the Greek islands are opposing wind turbine installations for aesthetic reasons. There are also irrational, uninformed and unsubstantiated fears of noise and other dangers.

    WHEN
    The spread of wind installations into European localities is driven by the EU goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions 20% by 2020.

    ...prefer this West Virginia mountaintop removal coal mine...

    WHERE
    The Greek island of Serifos, rural New Hampshire, the rural northeastern English county of Northumberland, Britain’s Isle of Skye, western Scotland

    WHY
    - The objection in the Greek islands is that the installation would destroy tourism by destroying the islands’ ambience. Greece has much less wind energy than most of the rest of Europe and gets 17% of its income from tourism. Greece gets much of its electricity from the dirtiest of coals and some see it losing tourism due to smog.
    - Spain obtains 12% of its electricity from wind and has suffered no noticeable loss of tourism.
    - The objection in Northumberland is that the turbines would especially ruin the view by contrasting harmfully with local castles and might, as well, do harm to historic sites when being installed. Rigorous siting procedures carefully protect against this. The 89-mile Kintyre Way hiking trail in western Scotland has a 9-turbine wind farm and views of others but remains popular.
    - People in tourism on Britain’s Isle of Skye welcome the installations and say they don’t intrude.

    ...or this sludge-filled pond. Tourists need electricity, too.

    QUOTES
    - Mayor Synodinou: “No one would come here…Our island would be destroyed.”
    - Linowes, Industrial Wind Action Group, on opposition to turbines: “These are not just one or two turbines spinning majestically in the blue sky and billowing clouds…”
    - Catalina Robledo, analyst, Emerging Energy Research: “…people are afraid that there will be these humongous wind parks that will block the sunset…”
    - John Ferguson, Save Our Unspoilt Landscape (S.O.U.L.), Northumberland: “The eyes are constantly drawn to them…”
    - Danter, tourism business, Isle of Skye: “There’s still a feeling that the west coast of Scotland offers something authentic and real…and people don’t want to lose that.”
    - Jason Ormiston, CEO, Scottish Renewables: “Wind parks can be elegant and inviting…”
    - Nikos Charalambidis, director, Greenpeace Greece: “If the climate gets worse here, tourists will vanish and not come back…”
    - Tsipouridis, Hellenic Wind Energy Association: “We’re living in the most polluted era of humanity…it’s sheer hypocrisy to spend so much time talking about wind turbines’ noise and aesthetics.”

    CARBON CAPTURE: READING BETWEEN THE LINES

    The folks in Tulsa are justifiably happy to learn their local power plant will be capturing 1.5 million tons of CO2 for pumping back into slow wells to enhance oil recovery (EOR). It no doubt means a potential boon to the region’s slowing oil industry. Oil and gas account for $1 billion in Oklahoma tax revenues, though average well production is down to 3 barrels/day.

    Here’s the thing: According to
    the new CARMA database, the two-unit Oklahoma plant produces 5.7+ million tons of CO2 every year so they’re only capturing a quarter of the total spew. And when the CO2 gets pumped back into the oil wells, it’s not just going to stay down there. It’s got to either come back up as gas, mix with the oil and come out in the refining process or leech into the soil.

    The point: Enhanced recovery may be good for the oil industry but “clean coal” still sounds like an oxymoron to NewEnergyNews.


    Capturing carbon; AEP-PSO program to route CO2 to state oil fields
    Jason Womack, November 18, 2007 (Tulsa World)

    WHO
    American Electric Power-Public Service Company of Oklahoma; SemGreen of SemGroup LP;

    Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) using CO2 is not a new or complicated idea. Whether it solves the problem of emissions is another question. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    AEP/PSC will sell captured CO2 to SemGreen for pumping into slowing oil wells to enhance recovery.

    WHEN
    - A memorandum of understanding between AEP/PSC and SemGroup LP was signed in October to do the project.
    - The capture technology is expected to be installed and operational by 2012.

    WHERE
    - The power plant is the Northeastern Station in Oologah, Oklahoma.
    - AEP is based in Columbus, Ohio.
    - This is reportedly the largest project of its kind in the US.

    WHY
    - Primary olil well recovery, from the natural pressure released by drilling, gets 10% of a well’s oil. Secondary recovery from pumping in water gets up the total up to 40% of the well’s oil. Tertiary recovery, pumping in CO2 to lower the remaining substance’s viscosity, gets the total up to 60%. But previous sources of CO2 for EOR have been expensive.
    - It is hoped the sale of the inexpensive captured CO2 for reuse will provide a revenue stream to fund the capture technology installation.
    - AEP is one of the biggest CO2 emitters in the US and 7th biggest in the world.

    Capturing CO2, even as schematized in this oversimplified diagram, is quite complicated and no process claims to capture anything close to all the emissions. To say nothing of the emissions generated in mining and transporting the coal. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Stuart Solomon, president/coo, AEP-PSO: "This is the kind of technology that will allow coal power plants to operate into the future…"
    - Pat Hemlepp, spokesman, AEP: "Carbon capture is going to be an expensive proposition…Anything that we can do to reduce the cost to our customers is beneficial to us and our customers."
    - Greg West, vp, EOR practitioners Sandridge Energy: "The primary reason that it isn't widely used is that there hasn't been a reasonably priced source…"

    ENERGY STAR: EVEN BETTER

    Want to do something for the household and the environment by way of gifting this holiday season? Maybe upgrading to an Energy Star appliance would be just the thing. Just remember to recycle the old appliances. (Via a quick Google search. Or click here.)

    Energy Star Appliances Save More Than the Label Suggests
    Katherine Salant, November 17, 2007 (Washington Post)

    WHO
    Anybody who has an old refrigerator, clothes washer, dish washer or is still washing dishes by hand.

    The Energy Star label and some tips on how to read it. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    The big yellow Energy Star labels on appliances promise efficiency and savings but UNDER estimate the energy savings most consumers gain when they trade in older appliances for newer, more efficient ones. A new model is likely to cut the utility bill enough to pay for itself in just a few years.

    WHEN
    The label promises a 2007 Energy Star refrigerator will use 15% less power than a standard model. A 2007 Energy Star 18-cubic foot model saves 30% on the power consumption of a 14-year old 1993 model, 54% less than a 1989 model and 81% less than the a not uncommon 1975 model.

    WHERE
    - In areas where drought is a consideration, using a dishwasher is a huge benefit.
    - Older front-loading clothes washers were significantly more efficient than old style top-loaders.

    WHY
    - Most appliances last a long time. The average refrigerator is 14 years old.
    - Dishwashers save because handwashing uses 27 gallons of water while the appliance uses 5 gallons. Dishwashers cut power use 37% from handwashing.
    - A new dishwasher cuts water use 33% over a 12-year-old model and reduces energy consumption 29%.
    - Newer clothes washers come in energy and water efficient front- and top-loading models. Old top-loaders used the least efficient central agitator while new top-loaders use a wash plate and front-loaders still tumble the clothing in a turning basket.
    - A 2007 Energy Star conventional top-loading clothes washer is 40% more efficient and uses 25% less water than a 1995 model. The 2007 Energy star wash-plate top-loader is 60% more efficient and uses 30% less water. The front-loader is 75% more efficient and uses 60% les water.
    - Newer clothes washers have race car-high spin speeds.

    Front-loaders are the way to go these days.

    QUOTES
    Salant, Washington Post: “Trading in your old beauty for a new Energy Star model would make such a dent in your utility bill that the new one could pay for itself in one or two years. When I replaced my 24-year-old side-by-side refrigerator three years ago, my monthly electric bill went down by $100.”

    THERMOELECTRIC DREAMS

    The generation of electric currents from temperature differentials is more than “another one of those wild ideas.” Detroit automakers and NASA are seriously interested.

    Related idea: Some hypothesize that a current can be obtained from the temperature differential between the upper and the deep ocean.


    Thermoelectric materials are one key to energy savings
    November 20, 2007 (MIT via Science Daily)

    WHO
    MIT Professor Mildred S. Dresselhaus, former MIT professor/president Paul Gray, Ted Harman, MIT Lincoln Labs, Dresselhaus student Lyndon Hicks, MIT professor of Mechanical Engineering Gang Chen,

    Schematic of the concept. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    Dresselhaus and co-researchers are developing thermoelectric materials based on the principle of thermoelectric cooling and heating: certain materials, when heated, generate electrical voltage. When voltage is applied to them, they become hotter on one side, colder on the other.

    WHEN
    - The research is based on a principle first discovered in the early 19th century and advanced in the 1960s by Gray and others.
    - Dresselhaus and colleagues did work for the Navy in the 1990s to more quietly cool submarines.
    - 2006: The thermoelectric carseat sold 1 million units
    - Dresselhaus and colleagues are now developing nanotech applications. She will present her work Nov. 26 at the annual Materials Research Society meeting in Boston.

    WHERE
    A thermoelectric material presently is used in car seats to cool passengers and spare auto air conditioning demands. Uses are foreseen in car engines, photovoltaic cells and electronic devices.

    WHY
    - The process works with a variety of materials and especially well with semiconductors (the material used in computer chips and photovoltaic (solar) panels.
    - Dresselhaus breakthrough: Thermoelectric materials had been inefficient. The charge quickly passed through the material, heating the material uniformly. The temp differential and insulating effect were lost. The Dresselhaus team is embedding obstacles (nanoscale particles, wires or patterns) in semiconductors to impede the flow of current and sustain the temp differential.
    - By embedding the obstacles in computer chips or solar panels, temperatures can be controlled, making functions more efficient.
    - In cars, if the engine’s heat can be translated into electricity, that power can be incorporated.
    - In solar arrays, if the temperatures of the panels can be turned into electricity, it would the system’s output.
    - Dresselhaus and colleagues, now sponsored by NASA, are working with semiconductor materials and nanostructures like superlattices and quantum dots.

    In this hypothetical application, a tiny device could capture a current from the temperature difference between an air duct and the room ambient. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    Dresselhaus: "Making a nanostructure allows you to independently control [electrical and temperature conduction] qualities…It's very practical…and the car companies are getting interested."

    Sunday, November 25, 2007

    BRIT GREEN LEADER’S YULETIDE TIPS

    “Believe it or not, I do love Christmas. It’s the only time of the year where my voicemail and inbox calm down and I can spend a few days eating, drinking and playing board games with my sisters and family without a bulging ‘to do’ list nagging at the back of my mind. At its simplest as a family get-together, Christmas is a joy, but it’s so easy to let things get out of hand during the run-in and be swept away in a consumer frenzy that – needless to say – can have a terrible effect on the planet.” ...Sian Berry, British Green Party

    Christmas Prawns? No thanks
    Sian Berry, 17 November 2007 (New Statesman)

    WHO
    Sian Berry, Green Party candidate for Mayor of London

    Berry is dreaming of a Green Christmas. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    A Green Brit offers tips for a sustainable holiday: “What started out as a simple trip to church and a big meal now lasts about nine weeks and involves buying more and more every year… Each of us receives around £90 worth of unwanted presents each year, and over a third of the food we buy is thrown away uneaten by twelfth night.”

    WHEN
    “It’s far too early to start talking about Christmas, but I’m afraid I have no choice. Improbably snow-bound English villages, 'seasonal' recipes for prawns and this year’s must-have gadgets, are cluttering up every advert break. So, as I too have already been out recording ‘Green Christmas’ specials for the TV, and have been doing my research, I thought I would strike back early too.”

    WHERE
    A Londoner offers tips to Londoners the world over: “A typical Christmas dinner these days can contain ingredients that have been transported over 30,000 miles, but it’s really easy to cut this down simply by picking local products off the shelf instead of far-flung alternatives: hazels rather than brazil nuts, English beer rather than Australian wine, local ham instead of Indonesian prawns…The original midwinter festival involved a feast of seasonal produce, embellished with preserved items from earlier in the year, so root vegetables, cabbages, sprouts, dried fruit, nuts, local cheeses and chutneys are all real traditional low-carbon fare… Visit your local market for a real bargain on the rest of the meal, compared with overpriced supermarket vegetables. You’ll be supporting your local economy, plus, if it’s unpackaged, you can buy just the amount you need and won’t end up throwing half of it away.”

    WHY
    - “Moving on to presents, as we must. Let’s start by ruling out pointless gadgets…No golf ball polishers, no coffee machines that need an endless supply of little plastic cartridges, no choppers, heaters or mixers…no attic fodder at all…get non-material gifts: something useful like tickets to an event, vouchers for meals, downloads or books, or membership of an organisation such as the National Trust or the RSPB.”
    - “If you feel obliged to get something that won’t fit in an envelope, use gift-giving as an excuse to introduce your friends and family to green stuff. Basics that everyone needs are best. Get bamboo t-shirts, hemp socks, quality recycled notebooks, local organic foodstuffs or non-polluting shower gel, and make sure they know where to buy replacements when they find they love them…”
    - “At the end of the season, make sure everything is recycled. We create three million tonnes of extra waste over the Christmas period and use over 250,000 trees’ worth of wrapping paper, so buying recycled and putting everything from the Christmas tree to your sprout peelings in the recycling box or the compost bin is essential.”

    Are abundance and sustainability mutually exclusive?

    QUOTES
    Berry: “…for twenty-four hours [on the first shopping day] take a break from shopping, put that Christmas list aside, take your life back and buy nothing at all in a celebration of non-consumerism…having a ‘perfect’ Christmas doesn’t involve going crazy and consuming everything in sight…having a ‘green’ Christmas doesn’t involve shivering around a candle in fingerless gloves for a fortnight. Just don’t forget to shun those prawns!”

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