NewEnergyNews: 06/01/2008 - 07/01/2008/


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

The challenge now: To make every day Earth Day.



  • TTTA Wednesday-ORIGINAL REPORTING: The IRA And The New Energy Boom
  • TTTA Wednesday-ORIGINAL REPORTING: The IRA And the EV Revolution

  • Weekend Video: Coming Ocean Current Collapse Could Up Climate Crisis
  • Weekend Video: Impacts Of The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Current Collapse
  • Weekend Video: More Facts On The AMOC

    WEEKEND VIDEOS, July 15-16:

  • Weekend Video: The Truth About China And The Climate Crisis
  • Weekend Video: Florida Insurance At The Climate Crisis Storm’s Eye
  • Weekend Video: The 9-1-1 On Rooftop Solar

    WEEKEND VIDEOS, July 8-9:

  • Weekend Video: Bill Nye Science Guy On The Climate Crisis
  • Weekend Video: The Changes Causing The Crisis
  • Weekend Video: A “Massive Global Solar Boom” Now

    WEEKEND VIDEOS, July 1-2:

  • The Global New Energy Boom Accelerates
  • Ukraine Faces The Climate Crisis While Fighting To Survive
  • Texas Heat And Politics Of Denial
  • --------------------------


    Founding Editor Herman K. Trabish



    WEEKEND VIDEOS, June 17-18

  • Fixing The Power System
  • The Energy Storage Solution
  • New Energy Equity With Community Solar
  • Weekend Video: The Way Wind Can Help Win Wars
  • Weekend Video: New Support For Hydropower
  • 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




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


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

  • ---------------
  • WEEKEND VIDEOS, August 24-26:
  • Happy One-Year Birthday, Inflation Reduction Act
  • The Virtual Power Plant Boom, Part 1
  • The Virtual Power Plant Boom, Part 2

    Monday, June 30, 2008


    At a June 17 Congressional hearing about how oil prices are affected by oil market speculators, the assembled panel of experts unanimously agreed speculation is responsible for driving oil prices 50% higher than they would otherwise be.

    Congressman Joe Barton (R-Tex), an oil and gas industry advocate, argued high oil prices are purely the result of supply/demand forces and called for increased domestic drilling. The experts listened respectfully and otherwise ignored him.

    As a result of the hearings, the House of Representatives on June 26 voted 402-to-19 to direct the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to use all its authority, including the agency's emergency powers, to "curb immediately" the role of excessive speculation in energy futures markets. The House bill requires the CFTC to act against "sudden or unreasonable fluctuations" in energy futures prices and other trading activities that "prevent the market from accurately reflecting the forces of supply and demand for energy commodities." The CFTC has already ordered more energy trading transparency and is investigating possible oil market price manipulations.

    The astute Hazel Henderson
    (see HAZEL HENDERSON: DOING WELL AND DOING GOOD IN NEW ENERGY) was ahead of the curve on this issue with an op-ed piece written in early June. Here’s Hazel’s take on the hearings:

    “These witnesses estimate that if the Commodities Future Trading Commission (CFTC) were to implement 50% margin requirements, full disclosure of hedge funds and the volume of "paper barrels" versus real barrels of oil and the huge institutional investor positions in the oil and commodities futures markets and other recommendations, then the price of oil would drop to somewhere between $70-100 per barrel within 30 days. They expect that US gasoline prices would drop in a similar time period by roughly the same percentage. They agree that curbing speculation is urgent, whereas drilling in the US for more supply would produce a small fraction of the reduction that could be achieved by curbing speculation.”

    In a sentence, get a handle on the people who are buying oil as a paper investment so the people who are trading oil as an actual commodity, a vital and precious and dwindling source of transport energy, can work within the very real and profound forces of marketplace supply and demand.

    Something's happening here...(click to enlarge)

    Hazel’s larger, now quarter-century-long campaign has been to make economic policy socially responsible by redefining the very concept of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to include otherwise unaccounted-for externalities. (Ex: Gas is cheap because it doesn’t include the cost of healthcare for people who develop lung disease from breathing air polluted by auto emissions. But the truth is much worse: All the medical care that goes into treating that lung disease patient ADDS to the GDP, making the U.S. statistically richer for creating illness with its transportation system.)

    Henderson was moved to write her op-ed piece because she sees in this historical moment the power to generate change: “…[H]uge, mounting costs…from pollution to global climate change, ignored for decades by financiers, accountants and most official statistics, now feed the suspicions of millions that global finance is indeed a casino with rules rigged by the insiders.”

    In her think-piece, Henderson describes in great detail the economic forces now at work, what can be done to turn them into change and what might happen if those forces continue to run rampant.

    Hazel has been an advocate of New Energy and the New Energy economy since before Ronald Reagan took Jimmy Carter’s solar panels off the White House.

    click for more on Ethical Markets.

    Changing Games in the Global Casino
    Hazel Henderson, June 17, 2008 (Ethical Markets)
    U.S. House votes to curb energy market speculators
    Tom Doggett (w/Russell Blinch and Marguerita Choy), June 26, 2008 (Reuters)

    Hazel Henderson, Economist/Author/Producer, Ethical Markets; Poor hungry people; traders, speculators and managers of hedge funds, private equity funds, pension funds, charitable foundation funds and university portfolios; Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC)

    Henderson describes what she calls “the Global Casino” in which money and asset mangers gamble with everybody else’s money. She says there is a broad need for a new more ethical way of counting wealth and a new more ethical way of using wealth. Focusing on the phenomenon of high oil prices and the associated high gas pump prices, Henderson describes how those are mere indications of the power of the players in the Global Casino.

    - Market fundamentalism took over in the 1980s following broad deregulation under the leadership of U.S. President Reagan and UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
    - The failures of deregulation are now revealing themselves in full flower. It is a moment pregnant with potential ruin and potential opportunity for change.

    Click for the CFTC website and more on its surveillance programs.

    - The $10 billion dollars to alleviate the stresses of world hunger produced by high fuel and food prices called for at last month’s United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization summit in Rome will only go, according to Henderson, to the players in the Global Casino.
    - Sovereign wealth funds from Norway (the oldest and most responsibly managed) to Singapore, China, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates are buying up more and more of the world’s assets.
    - CFTC Market Surveillance Program

    - World food and fuel price rises and the associated images of hungry people in the developing world and angry people in the industrial world have focused attention on “…the difference between money and real wealth, between “demand” in markets and the real needs of people without money.”
    - Social responsibility in investing means transparency, better corporate governance and true-cost pricing by investors and asset managers.
    - Socially responsible investing would internalize social and environmental costs into risk-analyses, company balance sheets and national GDP accounting.
    - Recent phenomena detailed by Henderson that show the Global Casino for what it is:
    (1) Market players refuse scrutiny and turn to private equity deals, often ruining companies by selling off pieces for profit.
    (2) Companies buy their own shares boost the stock prices (Ex: oil companies are using profit to drive up the share price instead of spending on new exploration and production).
    (3) Hedge funds (630 speculating in energy) total $2.9 trillion. Playing private equity game they buy companies with borrowed money and ruin them by selling off pieces for profit. They speculate in commodities ($8 trillion in oil futures contracts in 2007) and drive up commodity prices.
    (4) Managers of employee pension funds, foundations and university endowments, playing against private equity and hedge funds, invest retirement funds for short term market performance and ruin retirees retirements.
    (5) Sovereign wealth funds, swelled with oil revenues and trade surpluses, are buying assets to get rid of falling dollars and thereby driving the value of the dollar further down and the price of oil higher.
    (6) Banks, struggling from bad investments (CDOs, SIVs, CDSs - $62 trillion), are being bailed out by sovereign wealth funds, weakening the dollar, feeding inflation and driving speculative bubbles in oil and commodities.
    - Henderson’s recommended reforms:
    (1) tax the speculative 90% of daily $2 trillion currency trading;
    (2) curb the $260 billion oil/commodity index funds;
    (3) raise margin requirements on oil/commodity trading;
    (4) repeal the 2001 “ENRON loophole” that de-regulated energy trading;
    (5) repeal US and EU subsidies/mandates for ethanol;
    (6) increase transparency/oversight of hedge funds, private equity and sovereign wealth funds.

    From Hazel's earlier work on New Energy and new technology. (click to enlarge)

    - Henderson, on high oil prices: “I believe that Peak Oil is still looming, as well as that control of 77% of oil reserves is by national governments; but I agree also with the growing expert opinion that the speculative bubble in oil can be addressed and is the best way to reduce oil prices. It is also necessary to keep US gasoline prices at current levels which are more realistic and nearer to global prices of $7-10 a gallon.
    - Henderson, on the socially responsible reforms needed: “Reforming tax policies is urgent: taxing carbon emissions, pollution, waste, planned obsolescence and resource-depletion while reducing income and payroll taxes. Shifting the still-massive subsidies showered on the oil, coal, gas and nuclear industries to production tax credits can accelerate the growth of renewable energy. Solar, wind, geothermal, tidal, fuel cells, hydrogen, mass transit, smart DC electric grids as well as capturing the 40% of energy currently wasted in the US fossil fuel economy can shift human societies to the Solar Age.”

    (Full disclosure: Henderson’s Ethical Markets is a NewEnergyNews sponsor and NewEnergyNews.)


    MMA Renewable Ventures and other finance mavens have come up with a wrinkle on the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) concept to help get consumers past the single biggest obstacle to home and business solar installations, the upfront costs and financial complexities.

    Normally, a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) is between a utility and a power producer. The utility agrees to buy power and the producer promises to sell it at the contracted price. It gives the producer a sure market and the utility a sure source of power at a sure price.

    The new solar PPAs are a little different. An outside financier like MMA signs a deal with somebody who wants solar on their home or business. The home/business owner guarantees to buy all the system’s output at a guaranteed price for the life of the system. This puts the home/business owner in the position of the utility.

    It puts MMA, as "owner" of the solar system, in the position of the power producer. Assured it will have a consistent income from the system, MMA can arrange financing (usually through a bank that will collect interest from MMA and take advantage of the complicated tax benefits that come with the financing). With financing in place, MMA then gets the system installed (and regularly serviced) by a competent solar energy company.

    Maric Munn, director of facilities management, UCSF: MMA facilitated the installation of a solar system for UCSF. "It's very simple - we got someone else to take on the headaches, and we get the power…"

    The home/business owner gets solar energy and the associated advantages (on site generation, a reduced carbon footprint, peak demand smoothing, etc) without having to take out a loan or worry about operations.

    Complexities may arise when the home/business changes hands. SunRun, a San Francisco company doing PPAs, gives customers 3 options when selling their property: (1) Buy the rooftop solar system and take it or sell it to the next owner; (2) Assign their PPA to the next owner; (3) Pay off the PPA and own the system’s output through the term of the contract.

    NewEnergyNews has found it is usually the thought of selling the house that most often causes homeowners to reject the idea of installing a solar system. Home ownership is so fraught with uncertainties that incurring another one stymies even the most rational thinker. Turning the uncertainty to a guarantee will get more solar systems installed than all the clever, complicated contracts ever written by lawyers. Which is why NewEnergyNews likes the Berkeley city program so much.
    (See BERKELEY BREAKTHROUGH SOLAR FINANCE PLAN PASSES) In Berkeley, the city owns everybody’s system and collects the returns on the power generated through a property tax assessment until the system is paid off. When the house is sold, the arrangement simply moves to the new owner along with the property taxes.

    click to enlarge

    A cheaper way to get solar power installed
    David R. Baker, June 25, 2008 (SF Chronicle)

    MMA Renewable Ventures (Matt Cheney, CEO); University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) (Maric Munn, director of facilities management); Open Energy (David Saltman, CEO); SunRun (Nat Kreamer, President)

    MMA used a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) to facilitate the development of a a solar installation by UCSF. Open Energy is using a PPA to facilitate a solar installation for a 47-unit condominium complex.

    click to enlarge

    Residential PPAs are a relatively new phenomenon. California Assemblyman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) is in the process of drafting legislation to codify rights and responsibilities.

    - MMA Renewable Ventures is based in San Francisco.
    - The UCSF installation was at its Mission Bay campus on Genentech Hall and a nearby parking garage.
    - Open Energy is based in Southern California.
    - The Open Energy condominium complex installation is in San Diego County.
    - SunRun is based in San Francisco.

    - MMA arranged the UCSF installation’s financing ($2 million) through Wells Fargo Bank. A subsidiary of Chevron Corp. did the 250-kilowatt installation. Sharp made the panels.
    - Other MMA-facilitated solar installations: Fetzer Vineyards, Gap, Macy's, AC Transit.
    - Every condo owner in the San Diego installation signed a PPA with Open Energy. Solar is expected to suppy 40% to 50% of the condos’ electricity.
    - Important inclusions in PPASs: (1) Full estimate of all future costs; (2)Detailed explanation of financial terms; (30 Maintenance obligations of both the company and the homeowner.

    click to enlarge

    - Matt Cheney, CEO, MMA: "A lot of (the) time, that first cost is hard to digest…UC - like everybody else - doesn't have a lot of cash lying around."
    - David Saltman, CEO, Open Energy: "We see this structure as a way of bringing solar to millions of households…"
    - Sue Kately, executive director, California Solar Energy Industries Association (CSEIA): "Since each company has its own (business) model, it's really important for the customers to do their own research, particularly if they may be selling their home…Just because it's solar, they shouldn't stop thinking about whether it's too good to be true."
    - Nat Kreamer, President, SunRun: "We've had a lot of customers say, 'I really like the fact I've got some options when I'm selling the home…' "


    As anything that significantly impacts global climate change, these highly touted carbon-neutral events are almost offensively trivial. As PR events spreading awareness of the issue to people who might never otherwise consider them and places where they might not otherwise be heard, they are of incalculable value.

    A certain percentage of boys who are now obsessed with baseball and oblivious to world events will grow up to be very concerned with politics, history and the environment. Take it from the personal experience of someone who learned the basics of racism from the life stories of Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese.

    click to enlarge

    Rays, Marlins play carbon-neutral baseball game on eve of global climate summit in Miami
    June 25, 2008 (AP via Yahoo Finance)

    The Florida Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays; Charlie Crist, Governor, Florida;

    On the eve of the opening of the Serve to Preserve Florida Summit on Global Climate Change, the Marlins and Rays played a carbon-neutral baseball game. The visiting Tampa Bay Rays beat the Florida Marlins, 6-4. J.P. Howell was the winning pitcher. Global Climate Change took the loss.

    Good advice from one of the most widely respected offsetters. (click to enlarge)

    - The carbon neutral Marlins/Rays game was June 24.
    - The Serve to Preserve Florida Summit on Global Climate Change was June 25-26.
    - The first carbon-neutral college football game was played in November 2007 between Florida State the University of Florida.

    - Offsets were reforestation investments in projects across the U.S. Southeast.
    - To create the first carbon neutral college football game, The University of Florida partnered with the Florida Forestry Association and Environmental Defense to offset the 1,750 metric ton carbon footprint of the Florida State-University of by preserving 18 acres of rural North Florida land for use as a pine plantation forest for 10 years.

    - The 440 metric tons (tonnes) of greenhouse gas emissions generated (fan/player travel, stadium operations, etc.) were offset by reforestation investments.
    - oversaw the selection of offset investments.
    - The first carbon neutral National Basketball Association (NBA) game was played between the New Jersey Nets and the Philadelphia 76ers in New Jersey in March.

    Dolphins Stadium where the Rays and Marlins played against Global Climate Change June 24. (click to enlarge)

    - Governor Crist, host, Serve to Preserve Florida Summit on Global Climate Change: "Florida continues to lead the way in addressing global climate change, from our businesses and government agencies to the popular professional sports teams that call our state home…I commend the Florida Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays for being good stewards of our environment."

    Sunday, June 29, 2008


    Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoë wants to create Autolib, a public electric car sharing program designed like the Parisian Vélib' bicycle program. The plan is to place 4000 EVs at locations around the city and, for a small fee one-time fee or as part of a monthly subscription, Parisians can grab an electric car and go from a pick-up to a drop-off point.

    Vélib' has worked well in Paris, turning many pedestrians and commuters into velocipedists. Recognizing there are situations for which bikes are impractical and people for whom autotransport is the more logical choice, Mayor Delanoë thinks Autolib will get people using clean vehicles in the short run and, by familiarizing them with the technology, facilitate the transition to EVs.

    Mayor Delanoë: "This could revolutionise transport…[providing for] a system of individual journeys that are completely clean…"

    His Green Party opponents are resisting the initiative. Denis Baupin, Deputy Mayor (Green Party): "I'm very sceptical…If this scheme encourages people to pick up these cars every day, using them to go into work and back instead of using bikes or the metro, crowding roads and changing habits, that's a problem…."

    The Mayor and his Socialist Party allies contend the program will dramatically reduce the negative effects of internal combustion engine vehicles. The Green Party does not want to encourage the public to use any kind of car.

    At first glance, this seems like the usual political squabbling. NewEnergyNews picked up the item while following the progress of Liza Stoner’s Ride for Renewal (See FOR THE ELECTRIC CAR: MS. STONER GOES TO WASHINGTON.) There is an interesting commonality in the stories.

    Liza saw the movie Who Killed The Electric Car? and decided to start a campaign to get national leaders to back efforts to bring EVs to market. This summer she is riding her bicycle to D.C. to present a petition
    (give us electric cars! – click through and sign) to her home state lawmakers. Latest reports put her in Wisconsin and riding strong despite summer showers.

    Word is getting out about Liza’s campaign and that’s good. But the Internet yammer has begun.

    Although Liza has justifiably garnered widespread admiration and support, a nattering bicycle enthusiast here and there is beginning to echo the French Green Party Deputy Mayor.

    John commenting on a post about Liza at ecovelo: “Man, I do not want to be a butt and be seen as attacking a cute 14-year old phenom who is an activist for something she believes in . . .BUT…Am I the only one who sees something a little odd in biking 1600 miles to demand…more SUBSIDIES…For cars…Liza’s cool, but she’d be way, way cooler if she was going to ride to Rep. Earl Bluemenauer’s (founder of the Congressional bike caucus) office with a petition…for bicyclists like her…”

    Point 1: Liza isn’t just cool, John, Liza is a HERO. She saw something that needed fixing and got busy DOING something about it.
    (click through and sign – give us electric cars! )

    Point 2: Both John and the Parisian Deputy Mayor have set their cause (bicycles) against a decent and good cause (a practical campaign for cleaner cars). Some might hastily say it is too late for John to keep from being a butt because he became one the instant he set his perfectly legitimate cause in an entirely misguided direction. And they might angrily wonder how a Green Party leader could be against EVs in a world where China is building as many miles of NEW highway each year as there are in ALL of France.

    NewEnergyNews would not be hasty or angry but would say the same thing to both: Do not let YOUR perfect be the enemy of the GREATER good. Cars are here to stay. It’s all about how much and how best. There are much bigger fights to be in. It’s time to build bridges among allies.

    click to sign

    audio report on Autolib

    Paris plans help-yourself green car hire
    Angelique Chrisafis, June 20, 2008 (UK Guardian)

    Bertrand Delanoë, Mayor (Socialist Party), Paris; Denis Baupin, Deputy Mayor (Green Party), Paris; Couples with young children that cannot afford to own a car (target group)

    Mayor Delanoë will institute Autolib, an electric car-sharing (by fee) program for residents of Paris.

    click to enlarge

    - Autolib is expected to be in place by the end of 2009. It is thought to be the first project of its kind by a major city.
    - The financing is to be set up in the coming weeks. Vehicle choices will be made after that.

    - Autolib will place cars at 700 pick-up points around Paris, 200 underground.
    - The Mayor’s enthusiasm for the program has led to a doubling of the number of vehicles from 2,000 to 4,000 and an extension of the range of the plan to beyond the ring road into some Paris suburbs.
    - Electric recharging outlets will be available across the city.

    - One news source has reported the Mayor’s office is considering fees of €200-€250 ($315-$394)/month for up to 60 miles of driving.
    - The vehicles will be tracked and organized via a central computer system.
    Like the Vélib' (bike) plan, Parisians will either have an annual subscription for EV use or will pay for use at a hire point with cash or a public transport pass.
    - Picking twenty- and thirty-something couples with limited incomes, small children and ambitions for auto ownership, the Mayor sees Autolib as a way to build their inclination toward EVs by showing them they normally don’t make journeys beyond an EV’s capacity or become inconvenienced by an EV’s recharging time.

    It's this guy's future. He loves bikes and he plugs his car in. Why shouldn't Paris? (click to enlarge

    - Mayor Delanoë: "There will be a computerised system which allows you as soon as you collect the car to announce where you'll drop it off, so there will be a parking space available…"
    - Denis Baupin, Deputy Mayor (Green Party): "I think we would be better off promoting car-sharing schemes like the ones in Britain that work for occasional use. Whenever electric car schemes have been tested in French towns, it has been a failure."


    A new report from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the Department of Energy’s statistics crunching office, predicts big increases in energy and fossil fuel consumption despite making one thing perfectly clear: The era of cheap oil is over.

    The report predicts 2030 oil prices will be in the $113/barrel to $186/barrel range and says that the the $113/barrel figure translates to a $70/barrel 2006 price.

    Guy Caruso, head, EIA: "We're not going back to the historically low prices we saw in the '80s and '90s…"

    Though the report provides a range of oil prices for 2030, it indicates the higher price is more likely. The good news: Oil consumption would be 10 million barrels/day less at the higher prices (with concomitantly lower greenhouse gas emissions).

    It should be noted that these numbers are based on an assumed 2030 world oil consumption of 113 million barrels/day but many oil world authorities believe the oil industry is not capable of anywhere near that kind of output.

    The report predicts coal use will grow 2%/year, nuclear will grow 1/3 in a quarter century, natural gas and LNG will boom and New Energy for electricity generation will grow only 2.1%/year, mostly from hydroelectric projects.

    BUT: The report assumes no mandatory action by the U.S. to cut GhGs. BOTH current presidential candidates favor instituting a cap-and-trade system to bring market forces to bear on GhG reductions and global climate change mitigation.

    So consider this EIA report just another example of government waste.

    From the EIA report. (click to enlarge)

    Report sees big jump in energy, fossil fuel use
    H. Josef Hebert, June 25, 2008 (AP)

    Energy Information Administration (EIA) (Guy Caruso, head) of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) (Samuel Bodman, Secretary of Energy)

    International Energy Outlook 2008 from the EIA predicts that, in the absence of mandatory measures to curb GhG emissions, world energy demand will grow by 50% over the next quarter century with continued heavy use of oil and coal.

    From the EIA report. (click to enlarge)

    - The EIA report forecasts energy patterns through 2030.
    - 2030: World oil demand is predicted to be 113 million barrels/day (absent mandatory GhG reductions)

    - Energy demand in China and other emerging economies is predicted to grow 85% over the next quarter century.
    - Without a mandatory intrusion into emissions habits, world coal consumption will grow 2%/year, 1.5% from China.

    - The EIA report predicts that in the absence of mandatory changes in fossil fuel consumption patterns greenhouse gas (GhG) accumulations will be 51% higher in 2030 than they were in 2005.
    The report predicts an increase in the use of wind and biofuels.
    - The EIA analysis assumed oil prices from $113/barrel to $186/barrel in 2030. The $113/barrel price translates to a $70/barrel 2006 price, meaning the cost of oil will remain high but will not discourage increased consumption.
    - “Unconventional” oil sources (shale, biofuels) will increase 10%.
    - OPEC will retain its 40% oil market share.
    - Nuclear energy will grow by one-third. The world will build 124 new nuclear power plants (China: 45; India: 17; Russia: 18; U.S.: 15) by 2030, increasing nuclear energy’s share of electricity generation by 1/3.
    - Natural gas use will boom. Liquified natural gas (LNG) use will boom in the Middle East and Africa.

    From the EIA report. (click to enlarge)

    - Guy Caruso, head, EIA: "What jumps out is the very strong growth in the emerging economies…"
    - EIA report: "Fossil fuels ... are expected to continue supplying much of the energy used worldwide…Global energy demand grows despite the sustained high world oil prices that are projected to persist over the long term…"
    - Caruso: "[Coal is] the fuel of choice for electricity production in the emerging economies, especially China…"


    There is an ongoing debate about exactly how much the AGROfuels industries are impacting world food prices and aggravating world hunger. The AGROfuels industry associations point to inflated oil prices and the falling dollar as the main culprits.

    A recent authoritative report from New Energy Finance
    (see BIOFUELS AND FOOD, BY THE NUMBERS) says AGROfuels are not the main part of the problem.

    Another Inconvenient Truth; How biofuel policies are deepening poverty and accelerating climate change, a new report from OxFam UK, draws a different conclusion.

    Economists are hard to wrestle with because when one hand is pinned, there’s the other hand. (As in "But on the other hand...") Still, Oxfam is on the front lines in the fight against world hunger. Its case deserves a hearing:

    “The current biofuel policies of rich countries are neither a solution to the climate crisis nor the oil crisis, and instead are contributing to a third: the food crisis. In poor countries, biofuels may offer some genuine development opportunities, but the potential economic, social, and environmental costs are severe, and decision makers should proceed with caution.”

    Oxfam’s report calls on “rich” countries to (1) freeze implementation of AGROfuels mandates and revise their targets; (2) dismantle subsidies and tax exemptions and stop import tariffs; and (3) deal with climate change and fuel security with measures that work like vehicle efficiency improvements.

    Recognizing the importance to developing countries' economies of bioenergy programs, Oxfam calls on them to (1) choose bioenergy projects that are clean; (2) consider the long term costs as well as the short term benefits of bioenergy programs; (3) prioritize food supplies and food crops and (4) protect the rights and needs of “smallholders” in big development.

    Oxfam: “The West’s biofuels boom is contributing to deeper global poverty and accelerated climate change, while allowing governments to avoid difficult but urgent decisions about how to reduce spiralling demand for energy in transport.”

    From the Oxfam report. (click to enlarge)

    Biofuels pushing 30 million into poverty
    Pete Harrison (w/Christopher Johnson), June 25, 2008 (Reuters)

    Oxfam UK

    Oxfam’s Another Inconvenient Truth; How biofuel policies are deepening poverty and accelerating climate change shows how AGROfuel industries in the developing world and AGROfuels subsidies in the industrial world conspire to aggravate a food crisis.

    From the Oxfam report. (click to enlarge)

    - The World Bank estimates the price of food has gone up 83% in the last 3 years.
    - Although most authorities believe greenhouse gas (GhG) emissions must peak and being falling by around 2020, it will take 167 years for land use from producing U.S. corn ethanol to balance the cost of its emissions.
    - Oxfam estimates land use changes from palm oil-based fuels will by 2020 have caused 46 to 68 times the GhGs they will have saved by their use.
    - The EU’s “10% biofuels by 2020” target can be expected $90 billion while providing fuel security worth only $12 billion.

    - The report looks carefully at soy biodiesel in the Brazilian Amazon region and the Brazilian Cerrado, sugarcane ethanol in the Brazilian Cerrado, palm oil biodiesel in the Indonesian lowland tropical rainforest and the Indonesian peatland tropical rainforest and corn ethanol in the U.S. central grasslands.
    - There is a detailed case study of a village in Tanzania taking up the growing of Jatropha.
    - The report looks at U.S., UK and EU policies affecting AGROfuel use including targets, subsidies and tariffs.
    - It looks at world food prices and world hunger.

    - The world’s poor spend 50% to 80% of their income on food. The implications of an 83% increase in cost over 3 years are almost too grim to ponder. 30% of the price increase is directly attributable to AGROfuels.
    - Oxfam estimates the livelihoods of 290 million people are threatened. 100 million have already fallen into poverty.
    - Oxfam says the rationales for AGROfuels development are 2 reduce greenhouse gas emissions and produce an economically competitive alternative liquid fuel source but AGROfuels do neither.
    - It cites studies indicating they do little to cut emissions in the near term and may worsen global climate change beyond their ability to make it better.
    - It cites studies to show there really isn’t enough agricultural production to significantly reduce petroleum dependence and it cites studies to show the cost of producing AGROfuels far outstrips the value of the energy they provide.

    From the Oxfam report. (click to enlarge)

    - Rob Bailey, biofuel policy advise/report author:"Rich countries' demands for more biofuels in their transport fuels are causing spiralling production and food inflation…Grain reserves are now at an all-time low."
    - Report: "Biofuels are taking over agricultural land and forcing farming to expand into lands that are important carbon sinks, like forests and wetlands," the report said. "This triggers the release of carbon from soil and vegetation that will take decades to repay."
    - Report: “So will second-generation biofuels have fewer adverse impacts on poverty and the environment? Although yields are likely to be higher, many second-generation technologies may still pose similar problems because they will depend on large-scale monocultures that threaten biodiversity, food production, or land rights. Just because a second-generation biofuel does not use food as a feedstock, it does not necessarily mean that it does not threaten food security: it may still compete with food for land, water, and other agricultural inputs.”

    Saturday, June 28, 2008

    Get On The Big Green Bus!

    From the opening line ("What are you doing down there!?!"), ya gotta love these kids.
    No mellow moaning for them.
    “Wake up people!”
    “This is our world.”
    “And it’s time that we change it.”
    “On our terms.”
    Get on board the Big Green Bus! (From Earthkeepers via YouTube.)

    Kansas Fights Back

    Iberdrola’s Krista Gordon took a few moments off from her work building wind power in western Kansas to point out to NewEnergyNews this week that Kansas is emerging as a national leader in the building of New Energy and the fight against dirty coal. And it is doing so without legislative mandates. No state Renewable Electricity Standard (RES). A waning federal production tax credit (PTC), thanks to a recalcitrant U.S. Senate.

    What is driving Kansas? The leadership of its governor and lieutenant governor and its citizens' good sense.

    Give this video a minute to warm up and see if the story of Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius’ fight to stop dirty coal in her state doesn’t warm the cockles of your heart. (From Fireside Production and Earthjustice via YouTube.)

    Blue Man Group on Global Climate Change

    In the event of continued inaction...

    And about the emergency exits: There aren't any...

    Is this funny? Well, yes, but not exactly. (From Blue Man Group via YouTube.)

    Friday, June 27, 2008


    Could this announcement of a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) between a Delaware utility and a company that wants to build a wind installation off the Delaware coast herald a new era in U.S. wind energy?

    European nations are aggressively competing for richly productive, highly sought after and scarce offshore wind turbines. They are building installations off any North Sea coast where they can muster the hardware to do so. Meanwhile, U.S. states are succumbing to the most trivial of NIMBY impulses and squandering huge opportunities to develop powerful offshore assets just when electricity is becoming troublingly expensive and the country needs clean energy production most.

    Eventually, U.S. leaders will realize how misguided they have been. Offshore wind is one of the surest bets in all of energy. Many states, especially along the East Coast, have nothing in the way of insolation, onshore wind or even coal reserves to match the power of the ocean winds. Does it really make sense to let GIGAWATTS of free energy blow away just because a few shortsighted people are attached to their sea view?

    The European experience shows that the few recalcitrants sooner or later come to appreciate the elegant grace of the towering, distant turbines when they see them through unpolluted air and when they see how beautiful their reduced power bills look.

    Laurie Jodziewicz, offshore wind authority, American Wind Energy Association: "For many states, offshore wind will be one of the few near-term opportunities to generate large-scale renewable energy…"

    For extensive, detailed info, see the University of Delaware College of Marine Studies
    Offshore Wind Power website.

    LOOK AT ALL THAT ENERGY GOING TO WASTE! (click to enlarge)

    Plans advance for first U.S. offshore wind farm
    Jon Hurdle (w/Christian Wiessner), June 23, 2008 (Reuters)
    Court Rules In Favor Of Cape Wind
    June 24, 2008 (North American Windpower)

    Delmarva Power; Bluewater Wind Delaware LLC (Jim Lanard, spokesman), a unit of Babcock & Brown North America (Hunter Armistad, head);

    Delmarva Power moved the plan to build the first U.S. offshore wind installation forward by signing a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) for half of the installation’s generated electricity.

    U.S. Offshore Wind: Lots of plans, lots of regulatory resistance and NIMBY-ism, no building. Is that finally about to change? (click to enlarge)

    - The PPA covers the first 25 years of the installation’s output.
    - The installation is now planned to be built in the 2011-2012 period and begin operation in the 2012-2013 period.
    - 2006 to 2007: U.S. wind energy supplies grew 45%.
    - 2007: More than 1/3 of all new U.S. power generation was wind.

    - The offshore installation is planned for 11 miles off the Delaware coast.
    - Denmark, which leads the world in offshore wind development, gets 20% of its electricity from wind energy.

    - The planned installation will consist of 60 turbines and have a 400-megawatt capacity. Cost is expected to be in the $1.0 billion to $1.5 billion range, depending on final capacity rating.
    - The installation still requires legislative as well as state and federal regulatory approval.
    - An offshore installation in Massachusetts has been delayed by complaints about interference with Cape Cod aesthetics.
    - An offshore installation in Texas’ Gulf has been delayed by complaints by the fishing industry.
    - The U.S. presently gets almost 2% of its electricity from wind energy but countries in Europe get 5%, 10% or more by incorporating stronger, more constant offshore winds.

    click to enlarge

    - Hunter Armistad, head, Babcock & Brown North America: "Babcock & Brown believes this contract is a significant step toward developing Delaware's first offshore wind farm, which will almost certainly be the first offshore wind farm in the country…"
    - Jim Gordon, President, Cape Wind: "The court rejected the opponents' primary argument and agreed that Massachusetts agency review was proper…We look forward to providing the public with the benefits of Cape Wind, including cleaner air, more stable energy prices, new jobs and greater energy independence, as soon as possible."


    New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson has worked hard for 4 years to get his state its new nickname. Once “the Land of Enchantment,” New Mexico is now also “the Clean Energy State.”

    Richardson has pushed dozens of incentive programs, costing the state a lot of money. His plan? Drive demand for a resource he knows New Mexico has in abundance: New Energy. When its home-grown energy starts selling, New Mexico's economy will boom.

    Sarah Cottrell, energy policy adviser to Richardson: "We have so much potential here for wind and solar that it far exceeds the demand."

    A New Energy/state-of-the-art green community at Mesa del Sol on Albuquerque’s outskirts cost the state an investment of $10 million. Will it pay off?

    Schott Solar, the world’s biggest solar cell producer, subsequently decided to build a $100 million plant in Albuquerque.

    Udo Ungeheuer, chairman, Schott Solar: "According to both industry analysts and our projections, the market for solar energy will double over the next five years…"

    Frustrated by gridlock on New Energy development at the federal level, Richardson pushed through a state Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) and joined with California’s Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger and other western state leaders to form a regional emissions trading market.

    Cottrell, on the governors’ action: "…the feds aren't acting fast enough…"

    Unfortunately, the governors can’t do much about the failure of Congress to extend investment tax credits (ITCs) and production tax credits (PTCs) vital to the sustained growth of the New Energy industries. Congress’s pitiful failure may slow action until the 2nd half of 2009. The long-term outlook, however, remains – well – sunny.

    Richardson and Schwartzenegger have developed a friendly if aggressive competition to see who can build the bigger solar industry base.

    Cottrell: "[It’s a] pretty entertaining rivalry with Governor Schwarzenegger's people…We believe no one's done as much as fast as we have."

    The winner of the rivalry is likely to be the Governor who can get new smart transmission built and sell solar energy beyond state borders. The capacity to daily send abundant, free, clean electricity into the western grid during peak demand periods will bring a bounty to local power producers.

    It is an expensive challenge. New high voltage transmission costs $1.5 million/mile.

    Richardson got out ahead of Arnold by making New Mexico the first US state to form a renewable energy transmission authority (RETA). The RETA will facilitate new grid financing and construction. Texas, Nevada, and California have initiatives in the works.

    With Advent Solar’s Mesa del Sol community and the new Schott Solar plant set to go as soon as the federal incentives make them practical and the RETA already getting the marketplace busy building new smart transmission, Richardson has almost all the pieces assembled. He only needs a partner in the nation’s capital.

    Misty Benham, spokeswoman, Advent Solar: "[Advent chose New Mexico due to the] fact that [New Mexico officials] stood up and fought for us…They're very aware of renewables here."

    It doesn't get much redder than this. (click to enlarge)

    Green energy blooms in the desert
    Elana Schor, June 24, 2008 (UK Guardian)

    Governor Bill Richardson (D-NM); Advent Solar; Schott Solar (Udo Ungeheuer, chairman)

    - Richardson has pushed through at least 37 incentives measures to generate New Energy in New Mexico. Advent Solar is about to expand the state’s New Energy economy and solar energy capacity dramatically with its Mesa del Sol New Energy community.

    "Solar Home" captures the unique charms of New Mexico, "the Clean Energy State." (click for more Arges images)

    - Richardson was elected Governor of New Mexico in 2002.
    - Richardson pushed through the New Mexico RES in March 2007. It requires the state’s utilities to obtain 20% of their power from New Energy sources by 2020 (also 10% by 2011 and 15% by 2015). (Investor-owned utilities have a 20% solar carve out, a 20% wind carve out and a 10% biomass/geothermal carve out.)

    - New Mexico’s insolation is the 2nd-best in the U.S.
    - Mesa del Sol is 12,900 acres.
    - Schott Solar, based in Germany, is building a new, $100 million plant in Albuquerque.

    - New Mexico’s population is 2 million.
    - The state of New Mexico has made a $10 million investment in Advent Solar’s Mesa del Sol.
    - The new installation will be a proving ground for advent Solar’s ‘back contact” solar panels, a cutting-edge, efficiency-enhancing design improvement.
    - Schott Solar is the world’s 8th biggest solar cell manufacturer.

    click to enlarge

    - Misty Benham, spokeswoman, Advent Solar, on the company’s primary business of exporting solar panels to Europe: "It's good for the trade deficit and good for the environment…"
    - Lisa Szot, New Mexico RETA chief: "States need to be involved in transmission…The federal government isn't involved in permitting and siting [of new power lines]. That even goes down to the county level."


    Marine algae require no fresh water and no agricultural land and should not affect the price of food crops except perhaps to drive it down by taking the biofuels market away from corn, soybeans, sugar and other AGROfuel crops. Algae thrive on a diet of greenhouse gas emissions and can be grown adjacent to fossil fuel-burning plants to consume the spew. And, unlike most AGROfuels and biofuels, algae can be refined into anything petroleum can, from jet airplane fuel to biodegradable plastics.

    Is there money in algae? Royal Dutch Shell just bought in on a pilot project in Kona, Hawaii, operated by HR Biopetroleum. That says a mouthful. The joint venture, Cellana, is already producing transport fuels, including jet fuel.

    How long 'til algae-derive fuels come to market? Cellana’s Kona pilot project is producing oil now and it is building a bigger, demonstration plant. First commercial operation: 3 years. Multiple plants: 5 years.

    For more info, see:

    click to enlarge

    Algae may be biofuel source; Isle researchers hope to produce biodiesel from nonfood crops
    Greg Wiles, June 19, 2008 (The Honolulu Advertiser)

    Cellana, a joint venture of HR Biopetroleum (Ed Shonsey, CEO) and Royal Dutch Shell Plc

    Cellana is doing a pilot project to grow and refine algae for biofuels.

    Marine algae: Abundant and fast growing. (click to enlarge)

    - Hawaii’s diesel fuel price was the highest in the U.S. on June 13, $5.204 a gallon, 46% over the year previous price.
    - HR Biopetroleum has been working with algae for ~two decades and has already solved problems like contamination and species specialization.

    - Most Hawaiians in Moloka'i and Lana'I depend on diesel fuel for their electricity.
    - Moloka'i: Electricity bills up 60% from 2007 to 2008 b/c Maui Electric Co.'s generators there burn diesel. Lana'I: Up 67%.
    - Maui: Blue Earth Biofuels and Hawaiian Electric Co. are pursuing permits for an $81 million facility capable of producing 30 million gallons of biodiesel. Profits will go into local biocrop research/infrastructure.
    - O'ahu: Imperium Renewables is building a new biodiesel plant. Pacific Biodiesel can’t keep up with demand used cooking oil-derived biodiesel.
    - The HR Biopetroleum/Royal Dutch Shell Cellana pilot project with algae is in Kailua, Kona. A demonstration plant there is under construction.
    - About 20 companies worldwide are working with algae as a commercial fuel.
    - When Cellana scales up (funded by Royal Dutch Shell), it will build in the U.S. south and southwest.

    - AGROfuel crops like corn ethanol and soybean biodiesel have caused reactions in food pricing. The also probably require more energy to make than they produce and generate more greenhouse gases (GhGs) in production than they save.
    - While palm oil produces at best 600 gallons of fuel/acre/year, algae produces 5,000 to 8,000 gallons of fuel/acre/year.
    - Algae can be grown adjacent to fossil fuel-burning plants and will consume the GhG spew.
    - Marine algae also require no fresh water and no agricultural land and should not affect the price of food crops except perhaps to drive it down by taking away the fuel market for corn, soybeans, sugar and other AGROfuel crops.
    - University of Hawai'i and Hawai'i Agricultural Research Center researchers are also studying nonfood crops such as Jatropha trees, Kukui, Pongam and Moringa (aka Kalamungay). 100,000 acres in Hawaii could, over 10 to 15 years of biofuel crop growth, produce perhaps 30 million gallons of biodiesel (after a several year startup period). 2006: ~182 million gallons of diesel were used by nonmilitary consumers in Hawaii
    - Hawaii is developing a bioenergy masterplan with special attention to acreage, food prices and water use.
    - Press kit for Cellana project from Shell.

    Bonus: Algae eats CO2. (click to enlarge)

    - Shonsey, CEO, HR Biopetroleum: "We have good confidence that it's very viable…It's looking extremely good…We have a very precise patented process which we now need to scale up…Now it's a matter of the commercialization."
    - Michael Poteet, agronomist, Hawaii Agricultural Research Center: "We'd all like to have a quick answer to this problem…It's hard to be patient when diesel is $4.50 or over $5 a gallon, but we're working as fast as we can."
    - Maria Tome, energy engineer, Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism: "We use a great deal of liquid fuel…To the extent that we can have locally produced alternatives, we can keep the money in the state."

    Thursday, June 26, 2008


    The Apollo Alliance wants a $30 billion/year concerted national effort to transition the U.S. to a New Energy infrastructure and a New Energy economy.

    The Alliance, a national coalition of politicians, environmentalists, labor groups and businesses, suggests getting from the current $4 billion/year investment to the needed level by boosting spending a few billion dollars/year for the next decade and then sustaining the program for the following decade.

    Keith Schneider, spokesman, Apollo: "[$30 billion is] less than a third of what we're spending in Iraq…It's not a big number… "

    Both presidential candidates back a cap-and-trade system to mitigate global climate change and both their plans would generate some revenues to institute the program Apollo wants, though both candidates' programs and proposals fall short of the Apollo Alliance's vision and ambition.

    Senator Obama’s (D-IL) system would have allowance auctions generating enough money to get to $15 billion/year for New Energy. Senator McCain’s plan would eventually institute auctioning and generate an undetermined level of revenues. McCain, however, is opposed to a government funded New Energy infrastructure while Obama advocates such development.

    It is a familiar debate: Less or more government? Both sides have passionate advocates. David Kreutzer, energy economist, Heritage Foundation: "There won't be some Brave New World of energy simply because the government spends $30 billion a year…"

    The noble goals of big government programs are often diminshed by waste and fraud. Truth be told, however, ambitious programs in the private sector are often compromised by the same human failings.

    Only one thing is clear: While the marketplace may be a neverending source of innovation, it has been big government programs that have mustered the resources to institute some of the most important taxpayer-funded innovations in modern U.S. history (ex:Social Security, Medicare, the national highway system, the Internet). Taxpayers funded the Manhattan Project that beat the Germans to the atomic bomb and won World War II as well as the Apollo Project that overcame an early Russian lead in the space race and put the first human on the moon.

    The debate is not about government funding versus private enterprise or about regulation versus non-regulation. Those ideological arguments were put to rest long ago by all but the most narrow minded. The only real debate is over how much and how best.

    Anybody who didn't like the Manhattan Project and the Apollo Project and who doesn't like the Internet would naturally oppose a national effort to develop New Energy.

    click to enlarge

    Beyond drilling: An Apollo project on renewable energy?
    Steve Hargreaves, June 19, 2008 (CNN Money via Yahoo Finance)

    The Apollo Alliance (Keith Schneider, spokesman); Presidential candidates Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Barack Obama (D-IL)

    In New Energy for America, the Apollo Alliance calls for a concerted national effort and public expenditure to build a New Energy infrastructure and a New Energy economy while the presidential candidates debate about more domestic oil drilling.

    click to enlarge

    The Apollo program of the 1960s achieved the goal set by President Kennedy in 1961 of putting a man on the moon before the end of the decade.

    - There is contention in the country over opening the Alaskan National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR) and the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) to further oil exploration and production.
    - Apollo’s Green-Collar Jobs In America’s Cities details how a taxpayer-funded New Energy economy would pay for itself by stimulating widespread growth and inner city revitalization.

    - The best estimates suggest the best results of more oil drilling would be 2 million barrels/day of new production for a limited period of time, temporarily boosting U.S. output 20% but representing only 2% of world markets and therefore affecting oil prices very little.
    - Opponents of a taxpayer-funded New Energy program argue an unimpeded marketplace is the best source of innovation.
    - Advocates of a taxpayer-funded New Energy program argue government programs created social security, Medicare, the national highway system and the Internet, not to mention the Manhattan Project that built the first nuclear weapon and won World War II as well as the Apollo program that overcame an early Russian lead in the space race and put the first man on the moon. They say the marketplace cannot act with the speed and focus of government programs.
    - Apollo also wants a national public transit system and improved city planning to facilitate a migration away from dependence on the car. This goal is in direct opposition to the call for more oil drilling.

    click to enlarge

    - Keith Schneider, spokesman, Apollo: "The government, working with the private sector, has produced tremendous gains in a way that's much more fair than the free market would…The free market might achieve a cleaner environment, but not at the pace we need to move."
    - David Kreutzer, energy economist, Heritage Foundation: "This is just another version of we're going to spend our way to the Jetsons' lifestyle..."


    Wind turbines are being installed in the U.S. so fast the supply of maintenance/repair personnel can’t keep up with demand. Community colleges that prepare students to do the work are fending off companies who want to hire the students out of the classrooms.

    Christine Real de Azua, spokeswoman, American Wind Energy Association: "You're looking at several hundred jobs in just one year…These people need to come with training."

    A community college in Iowa, where wind energy is abundant and the industry is booming, has grown its program from 15 students to 90 students and may be just getting started. Coursework covers a range of material (ex: electrical fundamentals, hydraulic systems, computer networking). Graduates are getting multiple job offers.

    Al Zeitz, instructor for wind turbine maintenance/repair technicians, Iowa Lakes Community College: "Employers are coming to us saying, 'We want to hire 50 people this summer. We want to hire 100 people this summer…It's definitely a big challenge for the industry right now."

    The American Association of Community Colleges does not have a precise count on the number of campuses with wind tech programs but considers them a perfect fit.

    Norma Kent, spokeswoman, American Association of Community Colleges: "Typically we're a bit more flexible in bringing on a new program…There's perhaps less bureaucracy. Community colleges are known for responding to current needs in their community, or current opportunities in their communities. If there's a need out there, they're probably going to be the first to recognize it."

    Dwaine Higgins, graduate, Iowa Lakes program: "The job outlook in the wind industry is virtually unlimited…"

    There are unique aspects to being a wind turbine technician. Higgins: "You never know what you may have to deal with…When you are 300 feet in the air, it is not always easy to get a hand from another person."

    It's lonely at the top. (click to enlarge)

    Wind a new opportunity for community colleges
    Blake Nicholson, June 23, 2008 (AP via Chicago Tribune)

    The American Association of Community Colleges; Wind turbine maintenance/repair technicians; Al Zeitz, instructor for wind turbine maintenance/repair technicians, Iowa Lakes Community College; Dwaine Higgins, graduate, Iowa Lakes program

    Demand for wind turbine maintenance/repair technicians is driving the development of training programs at community colleges across the U.S., a benefit to the wind industry and the colleges.

    New jobs and new money in every sector of the U.S. wind industry. (click to enlarge)

    - 2007: 3,200 turbines installed.
    - 2008: Technician job demand growing daily.

    - U.S.: 25,000 turbines installed, requiring approximately 2,500 2-person technician teams.
    - Iowa Lakes Community College has 5 campuses in Estherville, Iowa, and associated communities.
    - There are wind tech programs at community colleges in Oregon, Minnesota, New Mexico, Wyoming, Kansas and other states.

    - A 2-person maintenance/repair technician team is required for about every 10 wind turbines. At the current rate of installation, a new maintenance/repair technician team is needed every day.
    - Zeitz was hired away from GE Energy, the U.S. biggest producer of wind turbines, to help Iowa Lakes Community College install wind energy. He created the wind tech training program which now has 5 staff positions, has grown from 2 classrooms to 6 classrooms and 15 students to 90 students.
    - Zeitz’ students often get 3 or 4 job offers.
    - FPL Energy has a field staff of 500 to service its 7,600 turbines in 16 states. Its technicians get starting salaries between $35,000 and $40,000/year.

    From the American Wind Energy Association (click to enlarge)

    - Christine Real de Azua, spokeswoman, American Wind Energy Association: "The demand (for wind techs) is such that some (colleges) have been trying to keep companies away from the program because they want everybody to graduate first…In some cases, students are being picked up after only a couple of months."
    - Al Zeitz, instructor for wind turbine maintenance/repair technicians, Iowa Lakes Community College: "It's a fairly rigorous program, and there are some students who don't make it through…"
    - Steve Stengel, spokesman, FPL Energy: "These are good-paying jobs with a lot of upside potential…It is in our best interest to make sure that when those students leave that program, they are as well-trained as they can possibly be…"


    From the “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” file: A prominent ocean scientist wants environmentalists to withdraw their opposition to the release of CO2 gases directly into the “benthic world” (the lowest levels of the ocean) so science can find out how bad it affects deep sea life.

    Wallace Broecker, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University: "I am in full sympathy with those who claim that the benthic world is likely a fragile one. Hence, before we poke it with CO2, we should do our homework. Therefore, I challenge Greenpeace to relax its stand and allow pilot CO2 injections to proceed."

    Unlike the current Norwegian Sleipner project that is injecting CO2 gases into theoretically airtight geologic structures deep under the seabed, the concept to which Broecker is referring is that of pumping the gases directly into the ocean at a great enough depth that pressures would turn the CO2 into a neutralized slurry and keep it on the seabed there.

    Broeckner admits there would be harm to small organisms but wants to see how much damage there would be to fish and the surrounding ecological system. Broecker calculates the deep Pacific could contain 16 years worth of CO2. (Which means the world could go on burning coal and proceed to destroy the ecology of the deep Pacific until, say, 2025 – and THEN stop generating greenhouse gases. Sorry, editorializing.)

    Bill Hare, Greenpeace, speaking for opponents of this cockamamie concept (sorry, editorializing): "The urgency of reducing emissions of CO2 has never been greater. But just as with an emergency in a heavy passenger jet, the crew should never rush in to hasty actions that will ultimately make a very bad situation a lot worse. Ocean disposal of CO2 is one such option."

    Mr. Hare is quite a bit more restrained than NewEnergyNews.

    Footnote for the “chicken/egg” file: Deep storage in the Pacific was conceptualized because storage in sub-seabed geologic structures there was deemed unsafe. Why? Because earthquakes could dislodge the gases from those geologic structures, releasing them to the deep ocean and that, scientists believe, would be dangerous to the deep ocean ecology. (But releasing the gases directly into the ocean would be OK!?! Not editorializing, just asking...)

    Put it down there any way except by burying it in the seabed and letting is emerge through seismic cracks. (click to enlarge)

    Deep-sea carbon storage must be tested, says leading scientist
    David Adam, June 18, 2008 (UK Guardian)

    Wallace Broecker, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University; Advocates of releasing captured CO2 gases into the deep sea; Greenpeace (Bill Hare, spokesman) and other opponents of the concept

    Professor Broecker wants Greenpeace and other opponents to the release of CO2 into the deepest ocean to allow testing to go forward despite potential harm.

    click to enlarge

    A pilot project off Hawaii in the late 1990s was halted by protests from Greenpeace and other environmentalists.

    - Small scale tests have been done off the California coast. They turned out badly enough to sustain the opposition.
    - Pressures at depths greater than 3,500 meters are thought to be great enough to turn CO2 gases into a potentially harmless slurry.

    Science knows deep ocean storage would be bad for these benthoids but it needs to know how much MORE life and habitat it would destroy. Why? (click to enlarge)

    - The plan calls for injections of CO2 gases deep under the ocean by deep sea drilling ships.
    - Testing would be monitored to document the dispersion of the gases and the harm done to sea life.
    - There is no conclusive evidence CO2 gases can be securely and permanently stored in geologic structures and no reason to believe deep ocean storage is safe for the marine environment.

    - Broecker: "While we know enough to say with confidence that deep ocean disposal of CO2 is certainly feasible, unless small-scale pilot experiments are conducted, information necessary to assess the impact [on sea life] will remain obscure. It is my view that a series of experiments involving one-tonne quantities of CO2 should be conducted."
    - Hare, Greenpeace: "The position of Greenpeace and of other groups opposed to this option was based on research into the effects of ocean disposal of CO2."

    Wednesday, June 25, 2008


    The Economist, Britain’s revered conservative weekly, takes note of New Energy and energy efficiency from a skeptical point of view reminiscent of Vice President Cheney’s misguided, condescending characterization of conservation as merely a “personal virtue.”

    But where the Vice President found nothing but a misinformed threat to unbridled oil consumption,
    The Economist finds something far more valuable: “…in the imaginations of a coterie of physicists, biologists and engineers, an alternative world is taking shape…plans for the end of the fossil-fuel economy are now being laid and they do not involve much self-flagellation…the prophets of energy technology…promise a world where, at one level, things will have changed beyond recognition, but at another will have stayed comfortably the same, and may even have got better.”

    The New Energies are easy to advocate for because there are enormous virutes in adopting them. Not personal virtues, practical virtues, the kind of virtues even the folks with the big money understand: “…the proponents of the new alternatives are serious. Though many are interested in environmental benefits, their main motive is money. They are investing their cash in ideas that they think will make them large amounts more…”

    Some conservative observers are reluctant to get excited about New Energy because, incorrectly, they think they have seen this show before: “…alternatives were widely discussed [in] the early 1970s…there are two differences…[first,] this price rise is driven by demand. More energy is needed all round…[second,] 35 years have winnowed the technological wheat from the chaff. Few believe in fusion now…the idea of a hydrogen economy is also fading fast. Thirty-five years of improvements have, however, made wind, solar power and high-tech batteries attractive…”

    The prize: Present world energy consumption is ~15 terawatts, $6 trillion/year. By 2050, those numbers will double. If the new generation comes from old sources spewing greenhouse gases, the world is likely to go broke coping with the associated disasters. The only logical conclusion: Those who spend on New Energy now will soon make new fortunes.

    The transition is being led by innovators from the tech revolution of the 1990s. Companies like GE, BP and Shell are getting on board.

    Ready for primetime...(click to enlarge)

    The Economist knows its readers and concluded its article accordingly: “There are lots of terawatts to play for and lots of money to be made. And if the planet happens to be saved on the way, that is all to the good.”

    The future of energy; A fundamental change is coming sooner than you might think
    June 19, 2008 (The Economist)
    The power and the glory; The next technology boom may well be based on alternative energy…
    June 19, 2008 (The Economist)

    New Energy advocates, innovators and investors

    New Energy is not just about being green anymore, it is about the future of energy and the technologies where the next fortunes will be made.

    ...Almost ready. (click to enlarge)

    - The industrial revolution, which has always depended on fossil fuels, is some 200 years old.
    - A 1970s excitement over New Energy aroused similar excitement but flailed when oil prices faded.
    - Oil is no longer cheap and unlikely to ever be cheap again.
    - Coal will become prohibitively expensive when an appropriate price for greenhouse gas emissions is applied to it.

    - Markets are more clear about the right choices for future energy now than they have ever been: Nobody is going to wait for the hydrogen economy or nuclear fusion. Wind, sun and plug-in vehicles is where the money is settling.
    - As western governments institute a cost for greenhouse gas emissions and incentivize technological development, New Energy can be expected to become cheaper and more attractive even to emerging economies like China, India, Brazil and Russia.

    - Former CIA Director James Woolsey’s endorsement of plug-in vehicles is an indication of the mainstreaming of the idea.
    - The fading of the 1970s excitement over New Energy is unlikely to be repeated because energy demand is not going to fade and the need for emissions-free energy is going to increase.
    - Wind energy is now price competitive with natural gas and is approaching price parity with coal.
    - Solar is expected to achieve price parity by 2015.
    - The price of oil may fluctuate but the era of cheap oil is gone. The cost of natural gas is following oil prices. Electricity is a cheaper way to power cars than oil at today’s prices.
    - The new transmission necessary to accommodate higher levels of electricity consumption will also facilitate intermittent energies like wind and solar and electric vehicles.
    - A price on emissions will only make fossil fuels less competitive sooner.

    Coming next year and the year after. (click to enlarge)

    - The Economist: “As these alternatives start to roll out in earnest, their rise, optimists hope, will become inexorable. Economies of scale will develop and armies of engineers will tweak them to make them better and cheaper still. Some, indeed, think alternative energy will be the basis of a boom bigger than information technology.”
    - The Economist: “Let a hundred flowers bloom. When they have, China, too, may find some it likes the look of. Therein lies the best hope for the energy business, and the planet.”