NewEnergyNews: 01/01/2008 - 02/01/2008

NewEnergyNews

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

The challenge: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

  • THE STUDY: THE BENEFITS OF PUMPED HYDRO STORAGE CALCULATED
  • QUICK NEWS, Sept. 16: THE ENERGY TRANSITION TAKES SHAPE; A LABOR-ENVIRO CALL FOR NEW ENERGY, NEW WIRES; ADVANCES IN WATER POWER
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: RENEWABLES IN THE COMING ARAB WORLD
  • QUICK NEWS, Sept. 15: SOLAR SUCCEEDING ON PRICE; EVEN MORE WIND THAT HONDA EXPECTED; THE HUGE UNRECOGNIZED BENEFITS OF EFFICIENCY
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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

  • Weekend Video: Climate Change For The Birds
  • Weekend Video: The Evidence Mounts
  • Weekend Video: Colbert On Birds And Climate Change
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-NOW CO2 TOO HIGH FOR PLANTS AND OCEANS TO ABSORB
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-NEW ENERGY IS THE WORLD’S BEST OPTION
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-SWEDEN WINNING SCANDINAVIAN WIND RACE
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-INDIA DISPLAYS SOLAR'S VERSATILITY
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, Sept. 11:

  • TTTA Thursday-GETTING GREEN BY MIXING RED AND BLUE
  • TTTA Thursday-PRICEWATERHOUSE COOPERS’ CLIMATE CHANGE NUMBERS
  • TTTA Thursday-THE RACE FOR EV DOMINANCE
  • TTTA Thursday-THE BIG FUTURE FOR ZERO ENERGY BUILDINGS
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • THE STUDY: THE 2013 U.S. DISTRIBUTED WIND MARKET
  • QUICK NEWS, Sept. 10: A WAY TO INVEST IN WIND ENERGY; SOLAR POWER TOWERS GET SAFER; TEST COMING FOR GIANT TURBINE BLADE
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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.

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  • Thursday, January 31, 2008

    “CLEAN” COAL: CURE OR CURSE?

    In light of yesterday’s news about the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) dropping its funding for the carbon-capture-and-sequestration (CCS) FutureGen project (See DOE DROPPING FUTUREGEN?), this BBC News story’s title seems a little out of date. But carbon-capture-and-sequestration (CCS) is at the top of the agenda for the European Union (EU).

    Among the most important of the new measures in the European Commission (EC)’s recommendations for Phase 3 of the EU’s climate change and emissions reductions program is that captured and sequestered greenhouse gases (GHGs) created by fossil fuel-burning power plants should not count as emissions against the power company’s or country’s allocated caps.

    The reason DOE dropped its backing for FutureGen was the cost. Because the EU ETS puts a price on emissions in the EU, the new EC-proposed measure will encourage CCS technology development by defraying its cost, the single factor most slowing the implementation of what some call “clean” coal.

    This idea of “clean” coal was also behind the big push by EU leaders at the climate change conference in Bali last month to set up a technology-sharing mechanism whereby more advanced nations can help developing nations like India and China get up to speed on CCS.

    The biggest problem with the concept of “clean” coal is that coal can never really be clean because of the way it is mined and because of the enormous quantity of emissions generated in transporting coal from mines to power plants. Mahi Sideridou, Greenpeace: “If you give financial and political priority to carbon capture and storage, you're not giving as much emphasis to the real solutions on the table like energy efficiency and renewable energy…”

    It is likely that many EU leaders, hard-thinking realists, assume there is no way to prevent the burning of coal so it would be significantly better to remove even a portion of the GHGs from the process. Malcolm Wickes, UK energy minister: "It's not just another technology…This is absolutely vital…The world will be burning fossil fuels - oil, gas, coal - for 100 or more years…Unless we can find ways of capturing that carbon dioxide, all is lost."

    There it is: The idealistic lady from Greenpeace? Or the British lion of harsh reality?

    Or perhaps there is a middle path. CCS has not demonstrated the capacity to effectively capture or safely store emissions. Let the research continue. Meanwhile, get serious about building the wind and solar and wave energy infrastructure of the future. By the time CCS proves itself, there may be no need for it.


    Norway's Sleipner project is the oldest and most successful CCS project - but it is hardly a solution to the problem of GHGs. (click to enlarge)

    Could carbon capture replace cuts?
    Dominic Laurie, January 23, 2008 (BBC News)

    WHO
    Norwegian state oil company Statoil.

    WHAT
    Carbon capture and storage (CCS)is a concept more than something specific. Science and industry are testing a variety of ways to trap CO2 and other GHGs generated coal- and gas-burning plants and bury them in geologic or anthropogenic containment.

    DOE backed out of FutureGen yesterday because the plant was too expensive. Norway cancelled this CCS project for the same reason earlier this year. (click to enlarge)

    WHEN
    Norway has declared it will use technologies such as CCS to be carbon neutral by 2030.

    WHERE
    - Norway, an oil-rich nation that prides itself on its nurturing relationship to its environment, has long been at work developing a way to trap and store GHGs.
    - Norway’s Sleipner offshore oil and gas drilling project has long been testing a type of CCS technology by sequestering GHGs in undersea oil wells and slat formations.

    WHY
    - Norway is not a member of the EU but has assented to the EU climate change program.
    - Current hopes of “clean” coal is driving a variety of experiments in CCS.
    - Norway’s project at its Mongstad oil refinery was cancelled because of the cost. (See CANCEL THE CAPTURE, IT COSTS TOO MUCH
    - Environmentalists and academic studies have raised questions about the long term safety and stability of the acidic gases’ storage.
    - The UK government has been showing an increasing interest in CCS technology and recently set up a funding plan.

    Norway is burying GHG emissions deep in old North Sea oil wells at Sleipner. But that is not proven safe, economic or practical yet. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Helge Smaamo, Sleipner manager, Statoil: "The gas in the Sleipner west field has 9% carbon dioxide…We have to get that down to 2%, because gas burns much better at 2% than at 9%, so we separate a lot of it out by chemical processes…We then absorb the gas, put it under huge pressure and inject it under the seabed by drilling a well."
    - Mahi Sideridou, EU policy director, Greenpeace: "We have concerns about leakage - either slow leakage or catastrophic abrupt releases of carbon dioxide…"

    AUSTRALIAN UTILITY IN BIG WIND BUY

    What a difference a policy makes. Australia’s previous Prime Minister, John Howard, entered office a climate change doubter, a coal and nuclear plant proponent. The Australian people, not known for their docility, slapped him down, turned him into an emissions trader and then threw him out of office in favor of Kevin Rudd.

    Al Gore campaigned for Kevin Rudd. Does that explain it? One of the first things Rudd did after becoming PM was fulfill his campaign promise to enroll Australia into the Kyoto Protocols. It is not surprising, in light of these events, to find Origin Energy, Australia’s second biggest utility, aggressively moving into New Energy. Origin has supplied wind energy to its customers before but this is the first time it has sought to co-own the farms. There is worldwide consolidation in the wind energy business in which utilities like Origin are acquiring wind farm ownership in partnership with operators.

    Make no mistake, Origin’s move is not because Al Gore talks so admirably and truly about climate change. It is because Kevin Rudd’s government’s policies supporting emissions reductions in the fight against climate change favor New Energy.


    Australia is beginning to build wind vigorously. (click to enlarge)

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., current U.S. leaders appear ready to let the production tax credits (PTCs) and investment tax credits (ITCs) that have supported unprecedented expansion in U.S. New Energy over the last 3 years lapse, dooming the solar, wind, biomass and other New Energy industries to a year of stagnation. Good news emerged late Wednesday when it was announced Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) had been able to get the PTCs and ITCs into the Senate's version of the stimulus package. (See GREAT NEWS FOR NEW ENERGY! and Wind, Solar Tax Credits Likely Not in U.S. Tax Stimulus Deal – Aide) Doubt remains as to whether the New Energy incentives can survive the legislative process.

    Just when the jobs and investment these industries have brought and would continue to bring to a teetering economy could mean so much, Senators and Congressmen may succumb to the bullying of the fossil fuels industries which clamor for the protection of their subsidies - at the cost of tomorrow's energy infrastructure.

    Register a demand for New Energy at
    POWER OF WIND

    Conergy and Australia’s Origin Energy sign wind deal
    Eva Kuehnen (w/ Rory Channing), January 22, 2008 (Reuters)

    WHO
    Conergy subsidiary Epuron Australia, Origin Energy

    Australia has good wind resources, especially off its coasts. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    Through Epuron, Conergy has partnered with Origin on the rights for 3 Australian wind farm developments and options for 5 times as much future wind capacity development. Though Origin has acquired wind energy from other providers, this is its first venture into wind energy ownership.

    WHEN
    Origin expects the first wind farm to be online in 2009.

    WHERE
    - Conergy is headquartered in Hamburg, Germany, with an aggressive New Energy branch. It has U.S. offices in New Mexico and Colorado.
    - Origin Energy is based in Sydney, Australia.

    Origin buys power from the Challicum Hills wind farm. It will own the new installations. (click to enlarge)

    WHY
    - Origin purchased 90 megawatts of wind capacity and an option for 500 megawatts more from Epuron for 7 to 10 million euros ($10.3million to $14.8 million)
    - Origin Energy is Australia’s second-largest provider of retail energy. It does oil and gas exploration, has 3 million+ gas/electric customers in Australia-New Zealand-Pacifica, and has extensive natural gas generating and pipeline holdings. It is already Australia’s biggest wind energy buyer, has geothermal holdings and is developing a “sliver cell” solar technology.
    - Conergy is a global New Energy giant with partners producing retail products in photovoltaics, solar thermal, small wind and solar hot water.

    QUOTES
    Karen Moses, COO, Origin: "The Epuron deal will see Origin build its own wind facilities for the first time, deepening integration in this area."

    SEXY LITTLE RED CAR – BUT MAYBE NOT SMART

    With great fanfare and celebrity endorsements, Tesla Motors sprang on the scene last year promising to bring back to life the hopes of electric car (EV) enthusiasts “killed” in the 1990s (as documented in the award-winning film Who Killed the Electric Car?)

    The company has since been behind schedule on delivering. It recently underwent “staff restructuring.” EV enthusiast and writer/engineer Forbes Bagatelle-Black had the same questions and worries as other EV fans: “Is Tesla in trouble? Are they changing the company goals and priorities? Or are they simply taking the painful steps required to transition from a startup to a full blown manufacturing company?”

    What he found when he went in search of answers was not promising for the future of the EV. Bagatelle-Black: “…my anonymous source expressed concern that the recent staff changes had eliminated many of the members of Tesla’s management team with real-world experience in designing and building products for mass production. My source did not doubt that those left were smart and capable, he simply pointed out that they had much to learn in terms of accomplishing the manufacturing goals Tesla has set for itself.”

    Bagatelle-Black's article suggests Tesla is a company entirely focused on bringing its little red $100,000 Roadster to market despite real-world demand for something else. Bagatelle-Black speaks for a lot of EV enthusiasts when he concludes his article with thoughts about Tesla’s more moderately-priced Whitestar sedan: “…if the company is really going to change the future, it is going to have to give us a viable replacement for the Toyota Camry/Honda Accord/Chevy Malibu-type family sedan. The Whitestar represents Tesla’s first major step in that direction, especially if rumors that it will be a plug-in hybrid are true. The day I hear confirmation that Tesla is killing the Whitestar is the day I will believe that Tesla has given up hopes of becoming a viable automobile company…”


    135 mpg equivalent, 0 to 60 in 4+ seconds, 220 miles per charge, 2 cents/mile - and sexy. (click to enlarge)

    Turmoil At Tesla
    Forbes Bagatelle-Black, January 27, 2008 (EV World)

    WHO
    Tesla Motors (Elon Musk, Chairman of the Board; Darryl Siry, Vice President of Marketing, Sales & Service)

    WHAT
    Personnel changes at Tesla that insiders have called a “bloodbath” may signal a change in the company’s promised product.

    PG&E and Plug-In Partners advocate for the plug-in hybrid because it has the advantages of an EV and the familiarity of an internal combustion engine vehicle. (click to enlarge)

    WHEN
    Bagatelle-Black: “On January 10, 2008, the Tesla Founders Blog published a list of employees who had recently been terminated from Tesla. This list included multiple vice presidents, lead engineers, and a variety of other folks from all areas of the Tesla organization. The blogosphere erupted in speculation about the future of the company. A few days later, an unidentified individual contacted the blog owner, ex-Tesla CEO Martin Eberhard, and convinced him to remove the names from the termination list he had published. On January 19, the blog removed the entire entry, stating that “it was explained to me that Tesla and its financial backer(s) can spend far more than I can on a lawsuit.” Websites which had reprinted the original list were also contacted and asked to remove the names on the list.”

    WHERE
    Tesla is based in San Carlos, CA. It has production and assembly centers in Hethel, UK, Taiwan, Rochester Hills, Michigan and Albuquerque, New Mexico. It has service centers in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Miami and Chicago. Parts are alsomade in Germany, Norway and Thailand.

    Ultimately, it makes sense to go all-electric but reaching too far too fast can be costly. (click to enlarge)

    WHY
    - Tesla Motors has 200 employees. Those dismissed represent a small but potentially significant core group.
    - An unnamed source told Bagatelle-Black that Chairman of the Board Elon Musk has a “firm ‘my way or the highway’ attitude toward staff relations.”
    - There had been widely circulated rumors that Tesla’s more moderately priced sedan would be a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). Those rumors have transmuted into doubt as to whether the Whitestar will emerge at all.

    QUOTES
    - Siry, VP, Tesla: “Tesla is in great shape and we will be the first company to offer a production EV in a long while… Everyone at the company is working very hard to achieve our mission and focused on delivering cars to customers… The corporate philosophy is the same as it has always been. We are committed to building an independent car company that produces the best EVs that combine great design, performance and the best possible efficiency. I would also point out that the vast majority of the staff remains the same as it was before - we are a company of well over 200 employees and continue to grow.”
    - Bagatelle-Black: “…The day I hear confirmation that Tesla is killing the Whitestar is the day I will believe that Tesla has given up hopes of becoming a viable automobile company. Until then, I will keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best.”

    Wednesday, January 30, 2008

    BREAKING: GREAT NEWS FOR NEW ENERGY INCENTIVES!

    This just in: New Energy incentives, Production Tax Credits (PTCs) and Investment Tax Credits (ITCs), survived the Senate Finance Committee mark-up of the economic stimulus package.

    Tell the Senate to keep them in the final package at
    : POWER OF WIND

    Solar, Wind Energy Tax Credits In Senate Stimulus Plan
    Siobhan Hughes, January 30, 2008 (Dow Jones Newswires via Nasdaq)

    WHO
    The Senate Finance Committee

    WHAT
    The committee added Production Tax Credits (PTCs) and Investment Tax Credits (ITCs) to the Senate’s version of the economic stimulus package.

    WHEN
    The committee’s measure would extend the tax credits, which will expire at the end of 2008 if not extended, through the end of 2009.

    WHERE
    When the committee’s package faces the scrutiny of the full Senate and the threat of a veto from the President, the tax credits may not survive.

    WHY
    - Wind producers and geothermal producers would get 2 cents per kilowatt-hour of power produced for every turbine or geothermal project built through 2009. Total cost: $3 billion over 10 years.
    - Solar and fuel-cell installers would get a 30% tax credit for installations through the end of 2009.
    - Residential purchasers of solar systems and solar hot-water systems through 2009 would be eligible for a 30% tax credit toward the cost of the system up to $2000.

    TOUGH GOING FOR NEW ENERGY INCENTIVES

    The bad news: The Bush administration has been nothing if not consistent in opposing incentives for New Energy while nevertheless making claims of support like those in the State of the Union speech. Representative Ed Markey (D-MA): “President Bush threatened a veto on the tax portion of the recently-passed energy bill, which included major incentives for a new generation of clean energy -- incentives that would have heralded a new era in green technology development. The Bush veto threat also killed the Renewable Electricity Standard which would have required that up to 15 percent of our electricity be generated from renewable sources such as wind and solar by 2020. He also opposes any mandatory cap-and-trade bill that would unleash the technology to meet the climate challenge by setting a price on carbon emissions.”

    So the possibility of extensions for the Production Tax Credits (PTCs) and Investment Tax Credits (ITCs) that have underpinned New Energy expansion for the last 3 years being included in the president’s economic stimulus package is remote.

    Gregory Wetstone, AWEA: “…renewable energy companies are already reporting a precipitous decrease in investment due to uncertainty.”

    The good news: An aid to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) says Senator Baucus will push for the PTCs and ITCs in the spring. With tremendous luck, the extensions can be put in place before the New Energy industries set aside plans presently under development and lose a year of growth.


    Government policy matters. If the PTCs and ITCs are not extended soon, this year's production will be lost. (click to enlarge)

    Contact Senators and Congressmen and tell them to get on these incentives: POWER OF WIND

    Clean energy groups face ‘tough road’ in getting tax-credit extensions in stimulus package
    Dan Caterinicchia, January 29, 2008 (AP via San Diego Union-Tribune)
    and
    Fact checking the union: Clean energy and global warming; A closer look at the SOTU’s energy claims
    Representative Ed Markey (D-MA), January 29, 2008 (Grist)

    WHO
    President Bush and the U.S. Congress

    WHAT
    Extensions for the crucial Production Tax Credits (PTCs) and Investment Tax Credits (ITCs) are not likely to be part of the economic stimulus package called for by President Bush and being taken up by Congress.

    WHEN
    - The PTCs and ITCs have underpinned an uninterrupted expansion by the New Energy industries since 2005 when they were renewed. They will expire at the end of 2008.
    - 2007: $20 billion in New Energy investment, 6,000 megawatts of New Energy, tens of thousands of jobs

    Renewable Energy (RE) and Energy Efficiency (EE) industries can make a huge contribution to this teetering economy. (From a Solar Energy Society presentation - click to enlarge)

    WHERE
    This action is on D.C.’s Pennsylvania Ave., between the White House and Capitol Hill.

    WHY
    - The economic stimulus package amounts to $150 million, 1% of U.S. GDP. It is ended to put money to work in the U.S. economy, creating growth that might otherwise be interrupted by the housing market problems.
    - The tremendous expansion in the New Energy industries over the last 3 years, with policy support, would on the face of it make them prime candidates for funding to obtain further economic stimulus. But the Bush administration displayed its attitude toward incentives for New Energy when it pushed them out of December’s energy bill.
    - According to Gregory Wetstone of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), a letter from 30 Senators last week documented that 100,000 new jobs could be created in 2008 with “prompt” extension of the incentives

    New Energy is good for the consumer, too. (From the American Wind Energy Association - click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Tyson Slocum, energy program director, consumer group Public Citizen: “I'm not saying it can't be done, but there's a tough road ahead [to get the PTCs and ITCs in the stimulus package]…”
    - Emily Lawrimore, White House spokeswoman: “We would have to review the entire tax package, including the revenue offsets, before supporting any particular tax incentive…”
    - Gregory Wetstone, AWEA, on the hope of getting the incentives package passed: “…we don't think we're out of it.”
    - Rep. Markey: “If the hawk could learn to fly like a dove, can the oil man from Texas truly come clean on the environment? Only if Congress forces that choice on the President Bush…to transition our nation to a true green economy and protect the future of this beautiful planet for generations to come.”

    DOE DROPPING FUTUREGEN?

    This is huge news. In essence, the Department of Energy (DOE) is announcing that “clean” coal costs too much. Politicians trying to straddle the divide between New Energy producers and fossil fuels energy producers have been promising that carbon-capture-and-sequestration (CCS), or “clean” coal, is the way to burn Old Energy without generating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. They have been preaching that New Energy is “admirable” but not cost competitive. Now DOE all but comes right out and says that if the country is going to keep burning coal, it is going to have to face higher costs or it is going to have to live with GHG emissions.

    Maybe it is time for the country to quit listening to politicians preaching about “clean” coal. Maybe it is time to get on with building New Energy infrastructure. Even if this DOE plant, dubbed FutureGen, were to capture all the emissions generated from burning coal – and prototypes have rarely capture even half – coal would still not be clean. There would still be the environmental devastation of coal mining. And transporting coal from the mine to that plant would generate enormous emissions.

    This FutureGen project is far from over. It is a public-private undertaking by DOE and the FutureGen Alliance (9 private energy companies). When the project was launched, DOE’s share was $800 million. By last year, that had climbed to $1.3 billion. DOE is probably threatening to pull out only as a tactic in a renegotiation of who will cover the burgeoning cost.
    (See “CLEAN” COAL COSTS)

    Alliance members could pick up the balance. It appears that is what DOE wants. But some of the companies in the Alliance spend good money to get the best Congress they can buy, so they are not reaching for their wallets yet. Fredrick Palmer, vp, FutureGen Alliance member Peabody Energy: "It is way too soon to say this project is dead, because Congress has yet to be heard from…"

    Artist's rendering of the FutureGen Alliance headquarters and plant, planned for Mattoon, IL, and now in doubt. (click to enlarge)

    U.S. Lawmakers Say Energy Department Pulls Support for Virtually Emissions-Free Power Plant
    Jim Suhr (w/David Mercer and H. Josef Hebert), January 29, 2008 (AP via Yahoo Finance)

    WHO
    The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) (Secretary Samuel Bodman), The FutureGen Alliance (American Electric Power, Anglo American Services, BHP Billiton, China Huaneng, CONSOL Energy, E. ON U.S., Foundation Coal, Luminant, Peabody Energy) (Lawrence Pacheco, spokesman; Fredrick Palmer, senior vp, Alliance member Peabody Energy), the state of Illinois (Gov. Rod Blagojevich-D, Sen. Dick Durbin-D, Rep. Jerry Costello-D, Rep. John Shimkus-R)

    WHAT
    DOE announced it is removing its funding from FutureGen, a “clean” coal project developed with public-private investment. In response, Illinois political leaders are threatening to fight for the funding in Congress, in court and in the Oval office.

    WHEN
    - President Bush announced this project in 2003.
    - DOE expressed doubts about the project’s costs earlier this month and requested a reduction in its share of the plant’s funding from $1.3 billion to $800,000.
    - The announced schedule calls for the Alliance to take bids this month on core technology, to break ground in the summer of 2009 and to begin operation in 2012. DOE’s hesitation is threatening to delay.

    The process. The basic problem is that CO2 is not a byproduct of coal combustion, it is the product. That's a lot of CO2 to capture. (click to enlarge)

    WHERE
    The FutureGen Alliance had selected Mattoon, in central Illinois, for its “clean” coal plant. Mattoon beat out Tuscola, Illinois, as well as Odessa and Brazos, Texas, locations to win the opportunity to host the FutureGen plant. One of DOE’s cost-cutting suggestions is to spread the project to other (as yet unspecified) locations.

    WHY
    - The 275 megawatt Mattoon FutureGen plant with CCS capability was projected to cost $1.8 billion.
    - Illinois expected 3000 construction jobs and 150 permanent jobs from the Mattoon plant.
    - What plans DOE now has for FutureGen remain unclear.

    Theoretically, the CO2 captured would be permanently sequestered underground. Theoretically. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL): "…[I will] make the case for FutureGen directly to the President…We will not go down without a fight…"
    - DOE statement: " [DOE] remains committed to FutureGen's objectives to advance the availability and use of clean-coal technology to meet growing demand and reduce greenhouse gas emissions…[DOE] believes that the public interest mandates that FutureGen deliver the greatest possible technological benefits in the most cost-efficient manner."
    - Rep. Jerry Costello (D-IL):, "[DOE is] cutting and running on a project that is critical to our nation's energy future."
    - Rep. John Shimkus (D-IL): "…our greatest fears have been realized…Now we have to regroup and review all of our options as we move forward…President Bush proposed FutureGen in 2003, and we will start by reaching out to him."
    - IL Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D): "[DOE] deceived the people of East Central Illinois who spent time and resources competing for the project…We're not giving up the fight to make FutureGen a reality in Illinois…"

    STIRLING ENERGY: CONCENTRATING SOLAR

    Solar energy is still struggling with cost. Photovoltaic panels take a long time to pay for themselves. Thin film is not as efficient and not thoroughly tested. Consumers are unwilling to afford something more expensive than their car and regard it as a necessity, like a refrigerator, when their refrigerator already gets electricity.

    The City of Berkeley, CA, has devised an ingenious method of financing its citiens' solar installations for them and getting its money back via property taxes.
    (See BERKELEY BREAKTHROUGH SOLAR FINANCE PLAN PASSES)

    That’s the best way consumers are likely to get around the cost issue.

    Big solar players are bypassing the consumer and building huge solar thermal plants that do not require silicon-based photovoltaics at all. Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA), one of the most respected energy-consulting firms in the world, calls solar thermal the likely next high-growth energy resource in the world and predicts there will be 5,000 megawatts by 2020.

    The biggest problem with solar thermal isn’t solar thermal, just like the biggest problem with wind energy isn’t wind energy. Without new, smart transmission systems to get the power from the plants to the population centers, these New Energies can’t move forward. The cost of building new transmission must always be considered.

    Fortunately, big players see the opportunity in building new transmission. In many places around the U.S. new transmission is being built or being planned. People like Warren Buffet, Bill Gates and Boone Pickens are investing. The big players see what Stirling Energy’s Bruce Osborn sees: "I guarantee there will be issues and challenges. But that's just part of business…[Still,] you don't have to worry about the fuel supply. It's free…"


    Osborn w/Stirling Energy Systems concentrators at Sandia National Laboratories. (Picture from USA Today - click to enlarge)

    There are a variety of concepts. Ausra likes parabolic mirrors to capture the light and focus it. ESolar uses flat mirrors and concentrating towers. Stirling Energy’s design – giant colletors, each with its own engine to rotate it across the sky tracking the sun – may be highly efficient. But the design has many moving parts, which makes each solar collector more expensive and potentially fragile.

    In the early days of oil there was enormous distrust of the incipient science of petroleum geology. The oil men used to say that the only way to really find out if there was oil in the ground was to ask Dr. Drill. In the solar energy game, the only way to really find out if a collector works is to ask Professor Sun.


    Stirling Energy takes on the solar power challenge
    Julie Schmit, January 24, 2008 (USA Today)

    WHO
    Stirling Energy Systems (CEO Bruce Osborn, co-founders David Slawson and Harry Braun, key investor Robert Nissenbaum, chairman Robert Clark), San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) (Michael Niggli, COO), Southern California Edison (SCE)

    WHAT
    Stirling Energy is installing a small solar thermal plant which it hopes will be a prototype for two of the biggest solar thermal installations (800 megawatts and 950 megawatts) in the world.

    WHEN
    - SDG&E and SCE signed an agreement in 2005 for all of Stirling Energy’s power for w0 years but the project has yet to be approved by CA regulators.
    - The current version of the Stirling engine was developed by McDonnell Douglas in the mid 80s, sold to SCE and eventually to Stirling Energy in 1996.
    - Plans call for 2 more prototypes in 2008, 2 in 2009, 40 for an installation in CA’s Mojave desert in 2010 and then there will be a production ramp up.

    Another view of the Stirling Energy concentrators. (click to enlarge)

    WHERE
    - Stirling Energy is based in Phoenix, AZ
    - The prototype system will be in Albuqueque, NM
    - The huge plants would be in CA

    WHY
    - The Stirling dishes are 40-feet in diameter. They are geared to rotate across the sky, tracking the sun. Each one generates enough electricity for 10 to 15 average homes.
    - The CA installation would generate enough electricity to double U.S. solar energy output and power a million homes.
    - The engine that drives the system is based on (and named for) an 1816 patent of Rev. Robert Stirling, a Scottish clergyman, who was trying to make something safer than steam engines with explosive boilers.
    - Stirling has been developing financing and perfecting its technology with government engineers at Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico for the last 2 years. They have cut steel 40% and made the collectors strong enough to withstand lightning strikes and bullets. They have optimized spacing to maximize productivity and minimize land use. Each prototype costs $225,000 but mass production could bring the cost down to $50,000.
    - The planned production ramp up is expected to produce 80 collectors/month after 2010 and 80/day eventually. The modular nature of the collector allows for fast production as well as reconfigurations as needed.
    - Barry Butler, materials science expert and former Stirling employee, in written testimony to California energy regulators said the technology won’t be scalable before 2020 and maintenance costs will always make it too expensive.

    A different concentrating solar concept: A specially constituted liquid runs in pipes through a field of parabolic mirrors that concentrate the sun. The heated liquid flows to a plant where it boils water into steam that drives a turbine. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Osborn, Stirling Energy: "This is something that hasn't been done before…We're not aware of any showstoppers. … No fatal flaws."
    Niggli, SDG&E: "They clearly have the technology. It's a matter of whether they can get the cost out…"
    - Osborn, on mass production: "It's not like you build the shuttle, launch it and it works or it doesn't…Nothing will stop us cold in our tracks."

    Tuesday, January 29, 2008

    BETTER THINNER SOLAR

    “Thin film” is the name for solar panel-like material specially made for convenient building-integration, usually as roof shingles, siding, sunroofing or windows. It is less efficient that the traditional roof-mounted photovoltaic panel but it is cheaper and it is installed as part of a building’s structure, further defraying cost.

    Investment in thin film is booming even as some give up on the long term promise of standard photovoltaic panels for any use except individual home and small business installations. Yet there is no certain formula for thin film. More test sites are necessary. Enter the Department of Energy's
    Solar America Initiative.

    By California or German standards, the Missouri undertaking reported here, funded in a public private-partnership, is really “small potatoes.” But it will be studied under exacting academic standards and it will allow cutting edge thin film technology to show what it can do, right in the heart of the heartland where a lot of people think alternative energy means ethanol.

    So here’s a chance for solar energy to take some advice from the great
    Mae West (who was anything but thin film): “If you got it, flaunt it.”

    Interest in thin film is booming. (click to enlarge)

    Solar project aims for cheaper solar
    Kat Hughes, January 24, 2008 (Columbia Tribune)

    WHO
    U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), w/partners Columbia (MO) Water and Light Department (Connie Kacprowicz, spokeswoman), University of Missouri chemistry department, Prost Builders Inc. (Vaughn Prost, president/owner) and Dow Chemical;

    WHAT
    DOE and its partners will test a thin film solar installation as part of the Solar America Initiative.

    From a Solar America Initiative webpage. (click to enlarge)

    WHEN
    The system will be operational in April 2008.
    - A Bush administration initiative, the Solar America Initiative aims to make solar energy cost competitive by 2015.

    WHERE
    Dow will fund a 5-kilowatt thin film photovoltaic system at Columbia, MO’s West Ash Street pump station.

    From a Solar America Initiative webpage. (click to enlarge)

    WHY
    - The installation will cost Dow $50,000.
    - Columbia is donating land and spending $23,000 to fence and monitor the installation.
    - The MU chemistry department and its graduate students will study and evaluate the system’s performance with rigorous academic research standards.

    From a Solar America Initiative webpage. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Prost, Prost Builders: "Dow makes many building products, and the idea is to incorporate solar voltaic technology into the shingles of a roof or the siding of a house, something homeowners already have to spend money on anyway, but it will also collect energy. That is the Holy Grail…But it obviously has to be cost-effective where the typical homeowner would think to do it. Also, silicone is very brittle, but a shingle has to be flexible, so how do you do that? That’s what we’re working on."
    - Kacprowicz, Water and Light: "Right now there are not a lot of Midwest applications for solar technology…This is important because it will help measure solar efficiency from this location, which will give not only the utility but also residential users more information on what to expect from solar systems."

    BIGGEST U.S. CORPS READY TO COUNT & CAP EMISSIONS

    Climate change deniers ridicule activists’ heralding of the plight of the polar bear. Bjorn Lonborg, a leader among deniers, amuses audiences by pointing out that climate change may be causing the death of one polar bear per year while 100 are killed by hunting every year. What Lonborg and the others ignore is that the 100 can be prevented by a hunting regulation while the 1 cannot be saved by anything but a reversal of the way Earth’s people do things. The 1, therefore, is an indicator of inevitabilities.

    In the same way, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) and the other big corporate entities (Shell Oil, Duke Energy) joining The Climate Registry are indicators when they voluntarily submit to the extra self-monitoring and record-keeping required to report their greenhouse gas emissions to the registry.

    Indicators. Of coming inevitabilities. Cap-and-trade is coming to the U.S. The smart ones are getting ready now.


    The Climate Registry is one of many organizations leading the way on inventorying U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in anticipation of the coming cap-and-trade system. (click to enlarge)

    Climate Registry nears first U.S. emissions reporting
    Bernie Woodall (w/David Gregorio), January 17, 2008 (Reuters)

    WHO
    58 companies, cities and organizations, including Shell Oil, Xcel Energy, Alcoa, Duke Energy, PG&E, PPG Industries, National Grid and the United States Postal Service (USPS); The Climate Registry

    WHAT
    Recognizing the inevitability of coming U.S. greenhouse gas emissions control regulations, the 58 companies, cities and organizations have voluntarily signed up to report their emissions to the Climate Registry

    The Senate has yet to decide on precisely the form of the system, and the House will weigh in, but emissions trading is coming. (click to enlarge)

    WHEN
    Reporting will begin in June 2008. The U.S. Senate is expected to debate proposals for a U.S. cap-and-trade system around that same time though passage of the measure and institution of the system is not likely to come until after the 2008 election.

    WHERE
    - The Climate Registry is represented in 39 U.S. states & D.C., 6 Canadian provinces, 3 Native American tribes and 2 Mexican states.
    - Not represented: Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska.

    WHY
    - The Climate Registry has 51 members. The agreement was made at the Registry’s 3rd board meeting. It is an outgrowth of the California Climate Action Registry.
    - The list of “emissions reporters” is expected to grow past 100 by the time reporting begins. Those joining by May 1 will be dubbed “founders.”
    - The membership of USPS and its annual $75 billion revenues, 700,000 employees, 35,000 facilities and 200,000 vehicle fleet is considered pivotal. It signals a recognition of the inevitably at the federal level.
    - The states not represented tend to have the larger fossil fuels operations like oil refineries.

    How the registry does its work. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    Diane Wittenberg, executive director, Climate Registry: "The Climate Registry is building the infrastructure and the (reporting guidelines) to get the companies, states and provincial programs started…"

    EU TO UK: BUILD OFFSHORE WIND, UP RENEWABLES

    Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission (EC), which governs the European Union (EU), says the new rules outlining Phase 3 of the EU’s emissions-reduction/climate change-reversing program will make Europe "…the first economy for the low-carbon age."

    If they reach their goals, the EU will leave the U.S. far behind in the development of 21st Century energy. And Maria McCaffery of the British Wind Energy Association thinks the UK share of the goals are within reach: “Wind energy is the next North Sea Oil. Britain could be a world leader in renewable energy if we have the will to make this vision a reality…"

    Meanwhile, current U.S. leaders appear ready to let the production tax credits (PTCs) and investment tax credits (ITCs) that have supported unprecedented expansion in U.S. New Energy over the last 3 years lapse, dooming the solar, wind, biomass and other New Energy industries to a year of stagnation.

    Just when the jobs and investment these industries have brought and will bring to this teetering economy could mean so much, Senators and Congressmen are succumbing to the bullying of the fossil fuels industries which clamor for the protection of their subsidies - at the cost of tomorrow's energy infrastructure.

    To register a demand with Congress for New Energy, see
    POWER OF WIND.

    Maria McCaffery, British Wind Energy Association: “Wind energy is the next North Sea Oil. Britain could be a world leader in renewable energy if we have the will to make this vision a reality…" (click to enlarge)

    EU sets UK renewable energy goal
    23 January 2008 (BBC News)

    WHO
    European Commission (EC) (Manuel Barroso, President); John Hutton, UK Business Secretary; Hilary Benn, UK Environment Secretary

    WHAT
    New rules governing Phase 3 of the EU’s Kyoto Protocols-based emissions-reduction/climate change-reversing program of New Energy development via the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) were announced January 23. British leaders reacted favorably to stipulations for the UK.

    WHEN
    - The EC is calling for the EU to obtain 20% of its power from New Energy and cut emissions 20% by 2020.
    - The EC proposal calls for the UK to obtain 15% of its power from New Energy from cut emissions 16% by 2020.
    - The UK got 1.3% of its power from New Energy in 2005.

    click to enlarge

    WHERE
    More developed EU states (Britain, Denmark) will be required to cut more emissions while emerging EU economies (Bulgaria, Romania) will beallowed modest emissions increases.

    WHY
    - The UK expects to get 5% of its energy from a tide energy development on the River Severn.
    - The London Array, a major offshore wind energy development in the Thames River Estuary, is expected to be another significant power source.
    - Leaders of energy-intensive industries that expect to continue relying on Old Energy during the upcoming decades welcomed the new EU rules as prudently written to include emissions allowances where they are needed.

    A variety of plans are under consideration for the Severn tidal estuary, many with tremendous tidal energy potential. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Hutton, Business Secretary: “The UK is already exploring a vast expansion of wind energy offshore, and tidal power on the Severn…”
    - Benn, Environment Secretary: "The increase in renewables is going to be a big step up from where we are now, but we are confident we can do it - we're going to have to work very hard on it."

    Monday, January 28, 2008

    WIND WILL BOOM IN EUROPE

    The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) praised newly announced rules governing Phase 3 of the EU’s emissions-reduction and climate change-reversing program. EWEA called for early approval and implementation.

    Singled out were proposals for grid infrastructure development and new regulations allowing priority grid access to New Energy. EWEA described these as especially meaningful for New Energy growth.


    The EU is rich in wind resources. (click to enlarge)

    With this new blueprint for a boom in European New Energy and the U.S. Congress stonewalling on extending New Energy production tax credits (PTCs) and investment tax credits (ITCs), it is looking very much like the EU will be the center of energy innovation and power in the 21st Century.

    New Energy and Climate Package for Europe: The European Commission Leads the Way Towards a Massive Expansion of Wind Power
    January 23, 2008 (European Wind Energy Association via Yahoo Finance)

    WHO
    European Commission (EC), executive board to the European Union (EU), EU Council of Ministers, European Parliament; European Wind Energy Association(EWEA), Christian Kjaer, CEO

    The EU is even richer in offshore wind resources. North Sea wind has been compared to the riches of North Sea oil. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    EWEA welcomed the EC’s proposed rules changes for Phase 3 of the Kyoto Protocols-based climate change framework that governs energy development and emissions trading in the EU. The basic new goal is to obtain 20% of EU power from New Energy sources and to cut emissions 20% by 2020.

    WHEN
    - Phase 3 will begin in 2013 and run through 2013.
    - The EC proposals must be approved by the Council and the Parliament. The EC the new proposals will be ratified by 2009.

    Like the EU itself, the continent's grid has been evolving. (click to enlarge)

    WHERE
    The 27 member states of the European Union are bound by EC-developed rules approved by the Council and the Parliament.

    WHY
    - An important stipulation governs voluntary cross-border trading of energy supplies. States can only sell energy to other states after they have met or exceeded their own targets and investment must include funding for planning procedures and grid infrastructure.
    - Another stipulation is aimed at clearing up administrational complications and grid access issues.

    Now it must integrate and develop its 3 major sectors. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    Christian Kjaer, CEO, EWEA: "The European Commission has today provided a powerful response to the imminent energy and climate crisis. By introducing a voluntary trading mechanism, controlled by Member States, the proposal maintains market stability, increases investor confidence and will help Member States to reach their ambitious, yet achievable, targets…The target implies that renewable energy's share of electricity will increase from 15% today to more than a third of Europe's demand in 2020. Wind energy will be the biggest contributor to that massive increase in clean electricity production…"

    TURN TOWARD SOLAR IN DESPERATE S. AFRICA

    S. Africa’s economy has been expanding at 10 to 15% per year for some time. In 1998, Eskom, the nation’s utility, warned the government shortages would likely arise within 10 years. New power generation building didn’t begin until 2004. Even then, it was all about coal-fired plants. Now, electricity prices just this year have jumped 14%. Public Enterprise Minister Alec Erwin: "The president has accepted that this government got its timing wrong…"

    Finally, Minerals and Energy Minister Buyelwa Sonjica is talking about developing New Energy so the nation can keep its growth going. Leaders are also talking about allocating energy and fining those who exceed their caps. Two major emergency measures will be (1) a million solar water heaters over the next 3 years in hotels, hospitals and public institutions and (2) solar power for traffic lights.

    The University of Johannesburg (UJ) is using the crisis to call for a massive turn to solar thin-film off-grid installions nationwide.

    This could be a peep into the world’s future, a future of energy shortages and clamor for New Energy infrastructure. Or the world could be building New Energy infrastructure NOW, with both hands, before the lights go out.


    S. Africa's power production has been falling below demand 4 of the last 6 years. (click to enlarge)

    Can solar power ease our energy crunch?
    24 January 2008 (Pretoria News)
    and
    S. Africa Declares Electricity Emergency
    January 25, 2008 (AP)

    WHO
    Eskom, S. Africa’s power supplier

    WHAT
    Power outages, sudden and unannounced, are creating “chaos and misery” all across South Africa. The economic system is slowing threateningly. Gold mining disruptions are driving up the price of gold on world markets.

    S. Africa has good solar energy resources. (click to enlarge)

    WHEN
    - Eskom hopes to alleviate the disruptions within 4 weeks.
    - Political and utility leaders hope to fully alleviate the problem by the time S. Africa hosts the World Cup finals in 2010.
    - Some report the problem may last 5 to 8 years.

    WHERE
    Neighboring countries (Botswana, Namibia), dependent on S. Arica energy supplies, are also having outages and disruptions.

    WHY
    - Terrible traffic snarls have been caused by the failure of intersection controls.
    - Reports of hundreds of tourists being stranded on an outing to Table Mountain are not encouraging the world’s interest in doing business or vacationing in S. Africa.
    - Major mining companies have suspended activity for fear of miners being trapped.
    - Gold Fields has stopped all operations, including the biggest gold mine in the world.

    S. Africa is tied to much of the southern half of the continent via a backbone grid so S. Africa's shortage affects a lot of countries. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Public Enterprise Minister Alec Erwin: "The unprecedented unplanned power outages must now be treated as a national electricity emergency situation that has to be addressed with urgent, vigorous and coordinated actions…We are viewing the next two years as being critical…"
    - Michael Tatalias, S. Africa tourism association: "Will people come to SA to see [the 2010 World Cup finals] if they know they will be going back to hotels and guest houses with no power?"
    - UJ: "A move to radically different thin-film PV materials has changed the picture entirely…[It] offers a drastically reduced manufacturing cost…single houses, small villages, towns and cities can be equally well served by local PV installations."

    POO POWER AT CINCINNATI ZOO

    Projects to convert agricultural animal waste to biomass energy are becoming familiar but this exciting idea to use zoo poo in the same way is still new.

    Interestingly, it is being set up to meet the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification standard. Mark Fisher, senior director of facilities and planning, the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden: "From now on, every project we undertake will be with LEED certification in mind…This is a long-term, lifetime commitment we're undertaking because of the tremendous cost advantage, but more than that because it's the right thing to do for the planet."

    Save money, save the world. It doesn't get better than that. Does it seem too small scale to create significant savings? Fisher: "We have four elephants weighing more than 37,000 pounds and they produce 800 pounds of waste a day. That's at least 20 kw (kilowatts) and enough to heat the elephant house and maybe giraffe house, too (on a daily basis). Right now, we pay Rumpke to haul the waste away, so there's another savings and another plus because we're diverting it from a landfill…Other animals here don't produce like elephants, but the study will look at the rhino, giraffe, other hoofed stock and even tiger output for conversion rates."

    The zoo will also collect its gardening waste and visitors’ leftover food for the project. It will not collect human poo.

    When the project goes online, it will be where visitors can observe and learn about the process. Charming.


    The elephants and giraffes are going to be almost this happy in Cincinnati. (click to enlarge)

    Zoo poo won’t go to waste; Elephant, giraffe houses to be fueled by the animals
    Jim Knippenberg, January 19, 2008 (Cincinnati Enquirer)

    WHO
    Mark Fisher, senior director of facilities and planning, the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden; Jim Lefeld, director of renewable energy, Duke Energy

    WHAT
    “Poo Power” is an innovative undertaking by the zoo to turn animal dung into biomass energy. When the project is complete, the elephant and giraffe houses will be heated cooled and lit by the energy generated from the dung. Poo Power is part of a zoo “Go Green” initiative that includes a variety of environmentally conscious improvements.

    There are a variety of biomass gasification processes. Here is one. (click to enlarge)

    WHEN
    - The biomass energy will not be running the heating for animals’ houses for 2 years.
    - A feasibility study of the zoo’s waste resources and the size of the power plant needed will be done first.
    - The first hard numbers are expected in Spring 2008.

    WHERE
    Denver and Dallas Zoos beginning similar projects.

    WHY
    - The cost savings is expected to be tens of thousands of dollars in the early stages of the project, while the infrastructure pays for itself, and more later.
    - Duke Energy and the Ohio Department of Development will put up the $15,000 to $20,000 for the feasibility study.
    - Duke sees the project as an opportunity to study small scale biomass waste-to-energy generation, a study which might add to its large scale industrial agriculture projects.
    - The poo generate methane gas which will be converted into energy either via a gasification unit or an anaerobic digester. Gasification uses heat. The digester uses microorganisms.
    - LEED, a national program, comes from the U.S. Green Building Council. It promotes “environmentally sustainable construction and energy” use. It rates a building as Certified, Silver, Gold or Platinum. The zoo's education center is the only Silver Certified building in Cincinnati and two points short of Gold.

    This is the alternate method of biomass power generation. (cliok to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Fisher, Cincinnati Zoo: "…We realize it's something that will cost us more on the front end but will pay huge dividends as time goes by. Some of the changes we've made or are making will pay for themselves in as little as a year."
    - Lefeld, Duke Energy: "The biomass technology is out there and functional, but it has never been done on a small scale…Huge factory farms that produce tons of waste a day use it, but we don't have tons to work with, so one of our first jobs after the study will be to design and build a small unit for smaller-scale facilities."
    - Fisher: "At the end of the day…the most important thing is that this is the right thing to do."

    Sunday, January 27, 2008

    THE EU PRESENTS: THE FUTURE OF EMISSIONS REDUCTIONS

    While the U.S. does everything it can to protect the fossil fuels industries and the emissions they generate, the European Union (EU) is aggressively confronting the “anthropogenic” part of anthropogenic climate change.

    This week the rules that will govern the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) for 2013 through 2020, Phase 3 of the European Union’s heroic effort to reduce emissions through market processes, were announced. The new rules implement previously agreed-on EU targets for obtaining 20% of power from New Energy and a 20% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. Some business and political leaders heralded the new standards while some environmentalists, including IPCC head Rajendra Pachauri, wanted 30% goals.

    Instituting the EU’s cap-and-trade system has been no easy matter for the European Commission (EC), the executive body for the Union. In its earliest stages, it reminded many of the Yeats line, “A terrible beauty is born.” But the EC has vigilantly adjusted the system and in the process discovered much about what makes cap-and-trade work.

    The most troublesome aspect of the EU’s efforts remains that so many nations of the world remain outside the EU ETS and any other emissions-cutting cap-and-trade system.

    But some EU leaders remain optimistic that the rest of the world (i.e., China, India and the U.S.) will respond to their leadership. Hilary Benn, MP/UK Environment Secretary: "This plan shows exactly what we are aiming for globally --a comprehensive and affective agreement to tackle climate change, with the carbon market at its heart. With a global deal the EU will up its commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 30 percent by 2020."

    EC Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso is more realistic: "We do not want to be dependent on regimes that are not our friends and want to protect ourselves from them…"

    Possibly the most important new rule is the decision to consider CO2 that is captured and sequestered to be NOT counted in a power plant’s emissions. This will likely make carbon-capture-and-sequestration (CCS) a much more appealing economic prospect.

    A disappointment is that the new rules exclude trading credits for preventing deforestation.


    Emissions credit prices dropped in anticipation of this announcement but have already begun to recover. Traders are learning to anticipate the behavior of CER markets like they do any other. (click to enlarge)

    Overall, the new rules incorporate 6% more emissions.

    Perhaps the most progressive idea under consideration was the “emissions-rendition” idea that would put an import tariff on goods from nations without an emissions-reduction program so as to make them as expensive as goods manufactured in the EU, where the cost is higher as a result of EU emissions caps. The EC, which formulated the new rules on behalf of the EU, did not institute the tariff but did not rule out the possibility of coming back to it.

    Many in the U.S. may not want to read it but the EU is the standard-setter on New Energy development and climate change initiatives. If the U.S. does not get in the game soon, it will miss out on a huge economic opportunity.


    EU adopts major energy, climate change plan
    Paul Taylor and Gerard Wynn, January 23, 2008 (Reuters)

    WHO
    European Commission (Jose Manuel Barroso, President) of the European Union; International Panel on Climate Change (Rajendra Pachauri, Panel Chair)

    WHAT
    - New rules for Phase 3 of the European Union (EU) Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) were announced.
    - Auctioning of permits for emissions has emerged as the crucial factor in making the cap-and-trade system effective. If permits are given to emitters freely, trading of the excess amounts does not end up making them expensive enough to cut emissions. If they are too expensive, it would slow economic development.

    The EU is way ahead of the rest of the world on the development of New Energy. It may cost now but it will likely make the EU powerful in the future. (click to enlarge)

    WHEN
    - Phase 2 began in 2008 and runs through 2012.
    - Phase 3 will begin in 2013 and run through 2020.
    - The new Phase 3 measures were announced January 23.
    - 2013 EU allocation: 1974 tonnes CO2e; 2020 EU allocation: 1720 tonnes CO2e.
    - 2013 through 2020 and 2021 through 2028: Allocation falls 1.74%/year.
    - The new rules must still be ratified by EU leaders and the EU Parliament.

    WHERE
    - There are 27 nations in the European Union.
    - The ETS covers power plants, oil refineries, coke ovens, iron and steel plants, and makers of cement, glass, lime, bricks, ceramics, pulp, paper and board. Phase 3 will include aluminium and ammonia producers.

    EU trading is now financing emissions-reduction projects all over the world: Red=Large scale CDM project, one location; Orange=Large scale CDM project, several locations ; Yellow=Small scale CDM project, one location ; White=Small scale CDM project, several locations. (click to enlarge)

    WHY
    - The EU will cut permits, lowering emissions to 21% below 2005 levels by 2020
    - EU electricity prices are expected to rise 10 to 15%
    - 5% of allocations set aside for new energy installations and new airlines.
    - Utilities must purchase ALL emissions permits after 2013. Decisions on free/auctioned permits for other sectors will be made after 2010. On average, 60% of permits will be auctioned after 2013.
    - Airlines and oil refineries will pay for 20% of permits in 2013 and that will rise to 100% for 2020.

    - Each member nation will have its own auction for its own emitting businesses and industries.
    - An import tariff is not on the schedule but is not ruled out.
    - Permits not used in Phase 2 can be used in Phase 3.
    - Nitrous oxide (N2O) and perfluorocarbons will be included in the list of greenhouse gases after 2012.

    Europe's offshore wind capacity may make it an energy giant in the coming decades. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    Here are selections from a fascinatingly broad sampling of opinion collated by Reuters:
    - David Porter, CEO, Assoc of electricity producers (95% of UK power): "One way or another reducing carbon emissions from the electricity industry costs money. It will be interesting to see how the revenue that is taken from the electricity industry is used when it gets into government hands."
    - Jake Ulrich, Managing Director, Centric Energy: "It is good news that in the power generation sector at least, the Commission is moving from a system of free handouts of allowances to emit CO2 to full auctioning instead. This will ensure that the polluter pays and will end huge windfalls to the highest polluting generators."
    - John Hutton, MP/UK Business Secretary: "The Commission's proposals on removing regulatory barriers to Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) are vital. Demonstration of this globally significant technology must happen as soon as possible and I hope that the UK's demonstrator plant, expected to be up and running by 2014, can fully participate in EU initiatives on CCS demonstration."
    - Robt Bailey, Oxfam Intn’l: "Oxfam is already seriously concerned that the EU's biofuels strategy fails to protect the land, livelihoods and human rights of vulnerable people, creating a huge threat to sustainable development where there should have been an opportunity. It is untenable for the EC to proceed with this legislation in the knowledge that it is unlikely to deliver on its primary policy objective of reducing emissions from transport."
    - Robt Casamento, Director/Utilities, Ernst & Young: "Europe has been the global leader on emissions trading for the last three years -- but the EU needs to consider the pace and the scale of implementing changes to the developing ETS(Emissions Trading Scheme). It cannot continue to go it alone without others such as the U.S. and eventually India and China-- emissions trading schemes need to be developed worldwide."
    - Mark Spelman, Global Strategy Head, Accenture: "Dirty energy will become a real and tangible cost for business. Despite the large venture capital investment going into renewables, the outlook is that we will remain hugely dependent on fossil fuels for the next 25 years... Renewables is a step in the right direction but coal remains the big, unanswered question."

    BIG BUSINESS INDIA LIKES NEW ENERGY

    China and India, India and China – the elephants in the room. It is not that nobody talks about them; it is that nobody can do anything about them except watch in awe as they consume inconceivable amounts of energy and spew intolerable amounts of greenhouse gases. Both nations are replicating U.S. 19th-century expansion in 21st-century proportions.

    Here Santipada Gon Chaudhuri, an expert on New Energy in India if anybody is, describes his expectations for India through 2030. What is somewhat surprising is his certainty that though India is presently a world leader in wind energy production and is barely started in solar energy development, India’s future is in solar power plants. On the other hand, it is not all that surprising since more and more people are looking to the solar power plant as the truly commercial-scale form of New Energy.

    Chaudhuri also acknowledges another reality of New Energy rarely spoken aloud: It has become just as much a realm of corporate giants as the fossil fuels businesses. The image of the little off-grid green guy is a curiosity of the 1970s though, if Chaudhuri is right, the dream lives on.

    Chaudhuri: “Corporates see green energy as a future business in the electricity sector. Suzlon, Enercon, Vestas, Exide, Tata BP Solar and Moser Baer have already invested in this sector. Others like Texaco and Sharp BP Group have shown interest, particularly with the global warming issue driving them…those investing in renewable energy should be given special treatment because such investors are working to protect mother earth.”


    India has good solar resources. (click to enlarge)

    “Corporates see green energy as a future business in the sector’
    January 21, 2008 (Financial Express of India)

    WHO
    Santipada Gon Chaudhuri, director- West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Agency (WBREDA)/New Energy systems designer/Green Oscar recipient (UK)/Euro Solar Award winner (Germany); Indronil Roychowdhury, Indian Financial Express

    It has pockets (green) rich in biomass potential. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    Chaudhuri answers Roychowdhury’s questions about future development in India’s New Energy sector.

    WHEN
    - India’s total power requirement will be 650,000 megawatts (MW) by 2030. 260, 000 MW will come from thermal generation (fossil fuels). Hydro can provide 150,000 MW. Nuclear, 50,000 MW. 200,000MW must come from New Energy.
    - By 2050, India may have made the transition to a “green economy.”

    India has fast-growing energy needs and a habit of relying on coal. (click to enlarge)

    WHERE
    - Globally and in India the growth rate of New Energy is 30 to 45%.
    - Commerical scale solar plants are feasible in India’s desert areas (Rajasthan, Gujarat). There is a pilot project going up in West Bengal.

    WHY
    - Chaudhuri thinks only solar power plants can scale up to 650,000 MW. He foresees decreasing solar energy costs with increasing volumes of solar cell production. He also foresees improved solar cell efficiency. He foresees solar energy prices reaching parity with conventional prices by 2015. He foresees regular and ongoing 50 to 100 MW solar energy plants after 2015.
    - India’s next biggest New Energies are and will continue to be wind and biomass (especially from waste).
    - Coal, hydro, wind and biomass are all presently in the area of Rs 3-4/kW-hour. Solar is Rs 12/kW-hour, but was Rs 20/kW-hour in 2002. By 2015, it will be in the area of Rs 3-4/kW-hour.
    - Most solar is presently individual solar panel installations.

    India is truly a nation in transition. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Chaudhuri: “The world is moving towards a green energy or renewable energy economy, although we are totally based on a fossil fuel economy at present…”
    - Chaudhuri: “I wish by now more corporates took an interest, but there are risk factors relating to technology—like whether a technology will soon be outdated or how much it is proven—and that is always the prime concern of investors…But I find that over the last two years, the private sector has taken a lot of interest…”

    CHILE SENATE DOES WHAT U.S. SENATE CAN’T

    The U.S. Senate, after a year-long struggle, fell one vote shy of pushing through a national Renewable Energy Standard (RES) which would have required U.S. utilities to obtain 15% of their energy from renewable sources or efficiency measures by 2020.

    To the credit of President Bachelet’s government, Chile’s Senate passed such a bill on January 23. Chile’s goals are modest but it clearly sees the wisdom of setting a national standard and schedule of consumption on which producers can depend as they risk their investments in New Energy.

    It would be pure speculation to observe that the announcement of new wind energy projects to be built by huge multinational mining interests
    (See CHILE TO BUILD WIND) could have had something to do with the government’s enthusiasm for New Energy. It is not speculation to observe that the wind build was spurred by newly uncertain supplies of energy from traditional sources: Once dependable Argentinean natural gas supplies have been cut back as that nation struggles with its own energy shortages; Once dependable hydro power has been failing in the face of droughts.

    Chile's northern mountainous region has many high potential wind farm sites. (click to enlarge)

    Chile Senate OKs Bill To Spur Minimum Renewable Energy Use
    Patricia San Juan, January 24, 2008 (Dow Jones Newswires via Nasdaq)

    WHO
    Chile's Senate

    WHAT
    Chile's Senate approved a bill requiring its utilities to obtain a percent of their power from renewable sources by a date certain.

    Chile also has good solar resources. (click to enlarge)

    WHEN
    - The Chilean plan sets a 5% goal for 2014 and a 10% goal for 2024.
    - The plan must be approved by Chile’s lower house in March.

    WHERE
    The new law requires utilities to put power from renewable sources onto one of Chile’s 2 main grids, the SIC in the central heartland and the SING in the desert mining hub.

    WHY
    - The government says it expects the RES to spur development and bring New Energy prices into parity with prices for thermal (fossil fuel) plant power and hydro power.
    - Chile is thought to have “ample” solar, wind and wave energy resources but gets only 2.4% of its electricity from New Energy sources. The global average is 4%.

    Most importantly, Chile has a backbone transmission grid that runs the length of the country. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    Marcelo Tokman, Minister, National Energy Commission: "We are conducting an analysis that is showing that it is possible to have sources of energy at the same cost as traditional sources but generated through renewable, non-conventional means…"

    Saturday, January 26, 2008

    The Story of Stuff Teaser #1

    This delightful video teasingly raises the question of who pays for "externalities" -- a crucial question to ask about energy costs.
    It is the first in a series of teasers for a 20-minute film, "The Story Of Stuff," now available at YouTube.

    Thanks to loyal and treasured reader Frenchie for submitting it.

    Fire in the Delta

    Fire in the Delta
    Video sent by Ndelta

    This video, a montage of scenes showing the beauty of the people and landscape of the Niger River Delta in Nigeria, was submitted to NewEnergyNews via "comments." It is a powerful, sometimes distrubing, 5-minute piece accompanied by terrific music.

    This posting constitutes no endorsement of violence perpetrated by terrorists, freedom fighters or oil companies.

    Friday, January 25, 2008

    THERE’S WORK IN THE SUN

    Nobody speaks more eloquently, convincingly or passionately about New Energy’s potential to transform the U.S. economy than former President Bill Clinton: "[To green a building] somebody's got to be standing on that roof." Clinton regularly points out that the buildings most in need of retrofitting are in the inner cities, where the greatest need is for manual-skills jobs. A recent study found that most such work pays decent wages, has benefits and is open to trainees.

    Ian Kim, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights: "As the green economy takes off, we have the opportunity from the beginning to lock in the people who have tended to be locked out of the workforce…"

    Skeptics await concrete numbers. Marcellus Andrews, economist, Columbia University: "The people who talk about green-collar jobs as the solution to low-skilled unemployment overestimate the number of jobs and underestimate the supply of labor…"

    Andrews, however, is reportedly only dubious because he thinks a lot of the new jobs might go to immigrants. Now that’s a good one: Turning an economic opportunity into a fight about immigration. That’s why they say a one-handed economist is helpless: On the one hand there probably aren’t enough jobs but on the other hand, if there are, they’ll go to the "wrong" Americans.

    For more information, check out
    Green Collar Jobs: Why Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency are Economic Powerhouses

    New Energy and Energy Efficiency already contribute in a big way to the U.S. economy - which is why it is a sin and an abomination that Congress has not yet extended the production tax credits (PTCs) and investment tax credits (ITCs) that have driven growth over the last 3 years. Because New Energy projects require long lead times, if the PTCs and ITCs aren't extended by this spring, a year of expansion may be lost. (click to enlarge)

    Engine Of Growth: Clean Tech Jobs; Clean energy work is a rapidly growing industry, but critics say it’s no panacea for unemployment
    Ben Arnoldy, January 24, 2008 (Christian Science Monitor)

    WHO
    Advocates and skeptics of developing jobs programs in the New Energy sector.

    From an American Solar Energy Society presentation: A hint of the potential. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    - The Monitor takes a closer look at the “green collar jobs” touted by Democratic political leaders.

    WHEN
    - 2006: Germany created 235,600 clean energy jobs.
    - 2007: Congress authorized $125 million for green collar job training.

    WHERE
    - New Energy is now a $55-billion-a-year industry worldwide.
    - California presently has a shortage of solar panel installers and New Energy power project workers.

    From an American Solar Energy Society presentation. (click to enlarge)

    WHY
    - There is now a shortage of workers to fill New Energy jobs in emerging hubs like the San Francisco, CA, “Bay Area.”
    - Advocates say the dwindling U.S. industrial base can be transformed into a “clean-tech” base.
    - 22 sectors of the economy involve green-collar jobs. (Ex: biodiesel vehicle repair, nontoxic printing, home weatherizing, sustainable landscaping)
    - Presidential candidate/former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC): Would train/employ 150,000+ workers/year for green-energy jobs.
    - Presidential candidate/Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL): Would use part of $150 billion generated over 10 years by his proposed cap-and-trade system to pay for green job-training.
    - Presidential candidate/Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY): Would make $5 billion in clean-technology investments as part of her economic stimulus plan. (There is currently legislation in the Senate S.A. 1515 co-sponsored by Senator Clinton.)
    - Presidential candidate/Sen. John McCain (R-AZ): Recognizes a need for green technology job training.

    Not just New Energy is at stake. From the Ella Baker Center. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Angela Greene, solar panel installer, Richmond, CA: "I saw I would be able to make a stable income for myself…and at the same time be able to help my community and the environment."
    - Joel Makower, executive editor, greenbiz.com: "Nearly every city is vying to become a hub of clean technology or green-collar jobs. Every community college that has any budget to develop a new program is looking at a lot of these new technologies…"

    *