NewEnergyNews: 11/01/2008 - 12/01/2008/


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

    Sunday, November 30, 2008


    This is the report (Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World) that came out last week to headlines screaming about U.S. inadequacies in future global competition.

    No wonder. Its key theme: Drill, baby, drill.

    US National Intelligence Council (NIC) seems to have derived one insight from its research and reporting: Be afraid, be very afraid.

    These “intelligence” folks must have used the researchers responsible for convincing the White House there were weapons of mass destruction in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

    As BBC News describes it, the report depicts a 2025 of “…diminished US power, dwindling resources, and more people.”

    Diminished power and more people, sure.
    (As well documented by Fareed Zakaria's The Post-American World and Tom Friedman's Hot, Flat, and Crowded)

    But dwindling resources? Yes, the sun will eventually burn out - in 4 or 5 billion years. As long as the sun keeps shining, the wind will keep blowing and the oceans will keep flowing and biomass will keep growing. What will run out is Old Energy.

    Some general conclusions from
    Global Trends 2025 follow, as summarized by BBC News. Before becoming terrified while reading, consider the question of how these predictions describe a world any different than today’s.

    Dominance: The U.S. will share power but have less “freedom of action…” Its military and economic leverage will be needed for stability and the fight against global climate change but China and Russia will also play key roles.

    West to East: Global wealth will shift east. The BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) will most benefit. China will have the 2nd biggest economy and its military will gain importance.

    Terrorism: Remains a problem, though diminished if economic conditions improve. The threat of the use of bio-weapons and dirty nukes remains. Al-Qaeda is not expected to endure.

    Nuclear proliferation: Grows, but not a lot. The threat of nuclear war and concommittant economic and environmental havoc coming out of low-intensity conflicts like India-Pakistan and Israel-Palestine remains.

    Food and Water: Shortages and scarcities will plague developing nations in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

    Global pandemics: Novel, highly transmissible, and virulent viruses and other diseases remain a threat.

    Technology: A transition from Old Energies to New Energies is predicted to be slow.

    Riiiight. So there will be no alternative but to rely on oil. Oh, maybe coal, too.

    Now consider these facts, left out of the

    Wind: The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) says it is entirely feasible
    the U.S. can get 20% of its power from wind energy by 2030.

    Wind can supply 20%. (click to enlarge)

    Solar: DOE also says it can bring solar energy costs to grid parity by 2015 and research firm Utility Solar Assessment USA) predicted solar can provide 10% of U.S. power by 2025.

    Geothermal: The comprehensive
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology study found that current geothermal energy technologies could develop as much as 20-to-40% of U.S. power needs.

    Hydrokinetic: A
    Greentech Media/Prometheus Institute study showed hydrokinetic (wave, tide and current) energies reaching grid parity in a similar time frame and they have the potential to provide 20% or more of the world’s power.

    Add to this
    the recent International Energy Agency prediction that oil prices will return to over $100/barrel by 2015 and the conclusion is obvious: The only way the US National Intelligence Council (NIC) could reach the conclusions about energy it does in Global Trends 2025 is by starting from a highly prejudiced point of view. What could that point of view be?

    Well, from the point of view of a global climate change denier, for one thing.

    From the "2025" report: “Over the next 20 years, worries about climate change effects may be more significant than any physical changes linked to climate change…Many scientists worry that recent assessments underestimate the impact of climate change and misjudge the likely time when effects will be felt…Drastic cutbacks in allowable CO2 emissions probably would disadvantage the rapidly emerging economies that are still low on the efficiency curve, but large-scale users in the developed world—such as the US—also would be shaken and the global economy could be plunged into a recession or worse…”

    They call that intelligence? Of course physical changes aren’t likely to be flagrant and profound in 2025. It could take until the second half of the century for the worst effects of climate change to set in. But the changes are already occurring and if the world does not aggressively move now, by 2025 the collision will surely be inevitable.

    There are some very good reasons to anticipate 2025 with trepidation but
    Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World does not make a very good case for what they will be or what to do about them.

    Solar can provide 10%. (click to enlarge)

    US Global Trends report: Key points
    21 November 2008 (BBC News)

    US National Intelligence Council (NIC)

    In Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World, there is a chapter entitled “Scarcity In The Midst of Plenty” which contains a topic heading of “The Dawning of a Post-Petroleum Age?” with text boxes entitled “Timing is Everything” and “Two Climate Change Winners” and “Winners and Losers in a Post-Petroleum World.”

    Geothermal can fill a big part of the demand. (click to enlarge)

    - By 2025 technology will facilitate a shift away from fossil fuels, with “immense” geopolitical implications.
    (1) Saudi Arabia will reform, bringing in women and developing a new social contract with its people as it diversifies its economy.
    (2) Iran will reform economically, its clergy will lose their grip, it will open up to the West and it will ease its nuclear policies in return for aid and trade.
    (3) Iraq will diversify away from oil and develop its economy.
    (4) The smaller Gulf will transform themselves into tourist and transport hubs.
    (5) Outside the Middle East, Russia will be the biggest loser and, if its economy
    remains tied to fossil fuel exports, it will be reduced to middle power status.
    (6) Venezuela, Bolivia, and other petro-populist regimes could unravel.
    (7) Cuba might be forced to begin China-like market reforms.
    (8) Indonesia and Mexico, already declining in oil dependency, may diversify into non-energy sectors.
    - Timing:
    (1) 2nd generation, non-food biomass resources (high-growth algae, agricultural waste products, cellulosic biomass) emerge.
    (2) “Clean” coal (carbon capture and storage, CCS) may be developing.
    (3) Long-lasting hydrogen fuel cells have potential but remain in their infancy, a decade away from commercial production.
    - A recent study: In the energy sector, it takes on average 25 years for a new production technology to become widely adopted because of the need for new infrastructure.
    - Meeting baseline energy demand over the next two decades: $3+ trillion of investment in traditional hydrocarbons by companies built up over more than a century. New Energy demands similar massive investment.
    - The greatest possibility for a relatively quick and inexpensive transition by 2025 comes from more mature New Energies (photovoltaic and wind) and improved in battery technology.

    - Two Climate Change Winners:
    (1) Russia has the potential to gain the most from temperate weather. Vast untapped reserves of natural gas and oil in Siberia and offshore in the Arctic will be more accessible. The opening of an Arctic waterway will give economic and commercial
    advantages. But Russia could be hurt by Arctic tundra melt and will need new technology.
    (2) Canada will be spared climate-related developments (hurricanes, heat waves) and will get millions of square miles to develop. Access to Hudson Bay resources and be a circumpolar power. Its growing seasons will lengthen, net energy demand for
    heating/cooling will drop, and forests will expand. Minor negative changes in soil forest product damage from pest infestation will be enabled.
    - Declining production: Yemen, Norway, Oman, Colombia, the UK, Indonesia, Argentina, Syria, Egypt, Peru, Tunisia.
    - Flattening production: Mexico, Brunei, Malaysia, China, India, Qatar.
    - Capable of expanding production: Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kuwait, the UAE, Iraq (potentially), and Russia (39% in 2025).
    - Saudi Arabia alone will account for more oil production than Africa and the Caspian area combined.

    Wave energy will be price competitive. (click to enlarge)

    - The Dawning of a Post-Petroleum Age?
    - By 2025 the world will be in an energy transition.
    - Liquid hydrocarbon production will not keep up with demand.
    - This leads to increased control of oil and gas by national oil companies. National oil companies have strong economic and political incentives to limit investment to prolong production.
    - This will stimulate another energy transition: the move to New Energy.
    - Short term prize: Natural gas.
    - Russia, Iran, and Qatar have 57% of the world’s natural gas reserves.
    - North America (the US, Canada, and Mexico) has 18%.
    - Coal may increase.
    - The US, China, India and Russia have the 4 biggest coal reserves, 67% of global reserves.
    - China will still be very dependent on coal in 2025.
    - Nuclear will expand but, because of unsolved problems (like waste) there will not be enough to meet increasing world electricity demand. Third-generation reactors are beginning to be deployed around the world. China, India, South Africa and other rapidly growing countries will increase their use of nuclear. Available uranium is likely to be sufficient into the second half of the century. Breeder-reactors that use reprocessed fuel could emerge.
    - The Geopolitics of Energy
    - Oil price fluctuations will make economic stability challenging.
    - With high oil prices: (1) Several states and regions (the Central African Republic, DROC, Nepal, Laos, most of East Africa, the Horn of Africa, Pakistan) could fail. (2) China will use more coal and build more nuclear plants. (3) Russia and Iran will prosper and gain power.
    - With low oil prices: (1) Iran could westernize or crack down. The US and other Western states will adapt. (2) Russia will exert force in the Caspian and Central Asian countries. (3) China will cultivate political relationships (w/ Saudi Arabia and Iran) for access to oil and gas. (4) India will ensure access to energy in Burma, Iran, and Central Asia.
    - Water, Food, and Climate Change: 21 countries with a combined population of about 600 million are currently either cropland or freshwater scarce. With population growth, 36 countries, with 1.4 billion people will be so by 2025. New entrants: Burundi, Colombia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Malawi, Pakistan, and Syria.
    - Lack of water means compromised agriculture and hydroelectric power supplies.
    Demand for food will rise by 50% by 2030.
    - Farm production will continue to be hampered by misguided agriculture policies.
    Urbanization will increase.
    - Energy security and food security concerns will compete.
    - Demand for biofuels—enhanced by government subsidies—will claim larger areas of cropland and greater volumes of irrigation water.
    - “Fuel farming” will force grain prices higher.
    - A consortium of large agricultural producers (including India, China, the US and the EU) could launch a second Green Revolution in Sub-Saharan Africa to dampen price volatility.
    - Civil conflict and a political and economic focus on mining and petroleum extraction will counterbalance.
    - Population growth will outpace gains in agriculture.
    - 200 million people may be permanently displaced “climate migrants,” 10 times today’s entire documented refugee and internally displaced populations.
    - The number of migrants seeking to move from disadvantaged into relatively privileged countries is likely to increase.
    - The biggest migrant flows will mirror current migratory patterns: (1)North Africa and Western Asia to Europe, (2) Latin America to the US, and (3) Southeast Asia to Australia.

    Oil resources will not be there. (click to enlarge)

    BBC News summary of the report’s conclusions: “The transition from old fuels to new will be slow, as will the development of new technologies which present viable alternatives to fossil fuels…All current technologies are inadequate and new ones will probably not be commercially viable and widespread by 2025.”

    Saturday, November 29, 2008

    Sierra Club Thanksgiving —What are you thankful for?

    There is still a lot to be grateful for. Like, “…the trees turning colors…” and “…flowers…” And change is coming. From NationalSierraClub via YouTube.

    Thanksgiving Song – Thanks For The Rain

    David Campbell: "One Life - To stop wailing our littany of againstness, One Life - To sing strongly our anthem of forness."

    "...let's listen together to this and other works of a great contemporay Canadian artist, thinker and humanist, our brother David Campbell, an old Arawak soul, speaking and singing to us about how to find, know and honour, the marvellous and powerful being that is in all of us." (Dr. Georges E. Sioui, President of Canada's Institute of Indigenous Studies)

    From marakacore via YouTube.

    New Energy – Something To Be For

    New Energy is clean energy. It’s something to be FOR. Another one for the kids and the kids at heart. From codegaard via YouTube.

    Friday, November 28, 2008


    A NewEnergyNews Friday feature.

    Tell EPA to protect our health and climate
    November 28, 2008 (Repower America)

    “After more than a year of delay, the Environmental Protection Agency is now requesting public comments on whether carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping pollutants -- the primary causes of the climate crisis -- are endangering our health and our climate. Friday is the last day to voice your opinion…[CLICK THROUGH TO] Send a message about how crucial it is to reduce harmful carbon dioxide pollution and stop global warming.”

    click to enlarge

    From NewEnergyNews columnist Anne B. Butterfield to Barabara Walters on the Barack Obama Interview

    Submitted to ABC’s 20/20 feedback:
    “Hi There. Please forward my message to Barbara Walters at 20/20. Thank you.
    Dear Ms. Walters:
    Congratulations on your impressive and enjoyable interview with the Obamas. But I must share that one question you posed was offensive and important. You asked our future president if he would be "tip-toeing around the White House to turn out the lights." It hardly needs explanation that the subtext of that question exists to shun conservation, affiliate it with weakness and fear, and to extol the tradition in our nation of maximizing consumption of every type. And this preference for pointless over-consumption is causing us to suffer gravely in every dimension -- environmentally, financially, and in our national security. There is not one crisis faced by our nation now that is NOT associated to heedless consumption.
    I hope you will consider the irony of the fact that when Ronald Reagan moved into the White House he removed the solar panels installed by Jimmy Carter, downsized federal research into renewable energy (so that Europe now dominates the race for clean energy production), and Reagan supported the maximal use of fossil fuels. Reagan's influence led us straight into the crisis where we now find ourselves gravely dependent on hostile nations and immoral practices like mountain-top removal mining.
    Therefore the proper response from you or anyone to the Obamas' intent to conserve resources should be one of respect and enthusiasm for the clean energy era that they so valiantly intend to lead. They will make it elegant, and workable, and large portions of the nation are ready to follow.
    Thank you for your consideration and your life of trend-setting work, so awesome for women all over the world.
    Sincerely, Anne B. Butterfield Boulder, CO”

    Tidal Power in the Pentland Firth: Yes we can!
    26 November 2008 (Marine Current Turbines)

    “The UK’s leading tidal energy company, Marine Current Turbines Ltd, today confirmed that it intends to apply for a lease from the Crown Estate to deploy its world-beating tidal technology in Scotland’s Pentland Firth. Subject to financing and securing the necessary approvals, Marine Current Turbines proposes to install potentially up to 50MW of capacity by 2015, using its pioneering commercial-scale SeaGen technology, and up to 300MW or more by 2020 if the local grid can take it…”

    click to enlarge

    Vatican unveils ambitious solar energy plans
    Philip Pullella (w/Dominic Evans), November 26, 2008 (Reuters)

    “And then there was light -- and it was powered by the sun. The Vatican on Wednesday activated a new solar energy system and announced an ambitious plan that could one day make it an alternative energy exporter…The massive roof of the "Nervi Hall" where popes hold general audiences and concerts are performed, has been covered with 2,400 photovoltaic panels to provide energy for lighting, heat and air conditioning…The new system on the 5,000 square meter roof will produce 300 megawatt hours (MWh) of clean energy a year for the audience hall and surrounding buildings…”

    click to enlarge

    Wind Energy: First Signs of Slowdown
    November 24, 2008 (PR Newswire/COMTEX via MarketWatch)

    “The global economic turmoil has started having an impact on the wind energy industry in Europe. Some companies are cutting down forecasts and production for 2009 and the market is showing the first signs of slowdown…This situation will have positive effects like reduction in turbine prices (due to fall in raw material prices), the reduction of delivery times of components leading to a more balanced demand supply situation…”

    Fuel from food? The feast is over
    Arthur Max, November 23, 2008 (AP)

    “In future years we may look back at the Great Mexican Tortilla Crisis of 2006 as the time when ethanol lost its vroom…Right or wrong, that was when blame firmly settled on biofuels for the surge in food prices. The diversion of American corn from flour to fuel put the flat corn bread out of reach for Mexico's poorest…Two years later, the search is on for ways to keep corn on the table rather than in the gas tank. Moving away from food crops, the biofuel of the future may come from the tall grass growing wild by the roadside, from grain stalks left behind by the harvest, and from garbage dumps and dinner table scraps…”

    click to enlarge

    U.K. Gets Lower Price in Carbon Auction Than Germany
    Matthew Carr, November 19, 2008 (Bloomberg News)

    “The U.K., the European Union's second-biggest economy, sold emissions allowances at a price 32 percent lower than an average for German sales as slumping energy demand has pushed down the cost of carbon credits…The U.K. got 16.15 euros ($20.37) a metric ton… Germany has gotten a price of 23.58 euros a ton…”

    U.S. Carbon Futures Start Trade as Low as $11.75/Ton
    Matthew Carr, November 20, 2008 (Bloomberg News)

    “U.S. carbon dioxide futures, which may be used under a potential mandatory cap-and-trade program as early as 2013, traded as low as $11.75 a metric ton on Nov. 18, their debut on the Chicago Climate Futures Exchange…That's less than half the 2013 contract in the European Union, which closed that day at 21.35 euros ($26.92) a ton on the European Climate Exchange in London…”

    Thursday, November 27, 2008


    The reports and recommendations are flying fast and furious.

    Everybody knows what the incoming administration should do.

    Example: The
    SaveOurEnvironment.Org coalition released Transition to Green; Leading the way to a healthy environment, a green economy and a sustainable future, a 390+ page report. (WITH NO PICTURES!)

    It’s a nonstop series of “Environmental Transition Recommendations for the Obama Administration.” It’s really a tour de force of actions to undo what the last 8 years has done, guidelines on energy and the environment for every bureaucratic nook and cranny of official Washington.

    In the realm of energy, the coalition’s goals break no new ground: Build New Energy, develop Energy Efficiency and move away from Old Energy. It also calls for a cap-and-trade system with a strict cap on emissions and the auctioning of 100% of excess allowances so as to fund New Energy and Energy Efficiency.

    There is one unique aspect of the report. It’s insight into the dense D.C. bureaucracy and its assignment of separate administrative, legislative and budgetary goals for each bureaucratic cubbyhole offers a prescription for action more comprehensive than any other of the documents so far offered up for the new administration’s holiday reading pleasure that NewEnergyNews has yet seen.

    Another example: The
    Alliance For Appalachia and many other anti-coal groups are urging the Obama adminstration to “…think first of the communities impacted by coal when selecting appointees for key positions.”

    The anti-coal groups are especially concerned that people who understand the urgency of their stand against coal be appointed to crucial jobs like Secretary of the Interior, Director of the Office of Surface Mining, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health and Environmental Protection Agency head.

    Considering that coal is the most climate change-inducing energy form and one of the most environmentally degrading pollutants in modern life, the groups’ concern is understandable. As Ted Turner told Charley Rose, nuclear MIGHT kill you but coal WILL.

    Teri Blanton, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth: "For far too long, the regulatory agencies have been led by people with close ties to the coal industry, people who seem to have forgotten that their responsibility is to protect human health and the environment, not the profits of the coal operators. The new administration needs to break this cycle and appoint regulators who will put our land, water, and people first…"

    The aims of both coalitions and the many others releasing reports and position papers and white papers and studies and findings are noble. And there will be more to come.

    The Global Green Solar Report Card, scheduled for public release at the December UN conclave in Posnan, Poland, is a highly anticipated product of months of dedicated research, rumored to be a richly informative and unwaveringly frank look at the world’s incipient if as yet inadequate efforts to develop its solar energy resources.

    Here is the only recommendation NewEnergyNews can think to add to the ongoing dedicated efforts: Recycle all the paper.

    The Mountain. By Steve Earle. With Thanks Giving to the folks fighting for wind at Coal River Mountain. From pennyreddog via YouTube.

    Leading Environmental Groups Work With Obama’s Team To Tackle Top Issues; Groups provide recommendations to transition team focusing on energy, climate and economy
    November 25, 2008 (SaveOurEnvironment.Org Coalition)
    Dozens of Groups Nationwide Call for an Obama Administration That’s Fair on Coal
    November 25, 2008 (Alliance for Appalachia)

    - The SaveOurEnvironment.Org coalition: Clean Water Action; Defenders of Wildlife; Earthjustice; Environment America; Environmental Defense Fund; Friends of the Earth; Greenpeace; Izaak Walton League; League of Conservation Voters; National Audubon Society; National Parks Conservation Association; National Tribal Environmental Council; National Wildlife Federation; Native American Rights Fund; Natural Resources Defense Council; Oceana; Ocean Conservancy; Pew Environmental Group; Physicians for Social Responsibility; Population Connection; Population Action International; Rails-to-Trails Conservancy; Sierra Club; The Wilderness Society; The Trust for Public Land; Union of Concerned Scientists
    - The anti-coal coalition: Alaska Coal Working Group, Alliance for Appalachia, Alternative Transportation Club & Electric Auto Association of Northern Nevada, Appalachian Community Economics, Appalachian Citizen's Law Center, Appalachian Voices, Bardwell Consulting, Ltd, Caney Fork Headwaters Association, Center for Coalfield Justice, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Citizen's Action Coalition of Indiana, Citizens Against Longwall Mining, Citizens Coal Council, Citizens Organizing Project, CLEAN -- Citizens Lead for Energy Action Now, Clean Power Now, Coal River Mountain Watch, CoalSwarm, Concerned Citizens of Carroll County, Cook Inletkeeper, Citizens Organizing for Resources & Environment (CORE), Cumberland Countians for Peace & Justice, Dakota Resource Council, Dooda (NO) Desert Rock Organization, Earth Action Network, Energy Action Coalition, Environmental Justice Advocates (EJA), Friends of Hurricane Creek, Greenpeace US, Groundwater Awareness League, Inc., Headwater Productions, HealthLink, Heartwood, Jefferson Action Group, Karst Environmental Education & Protection, Inc., Kentuckians For The Commonwealth, Kentucky Heartwood, Law Office of Gina Hardin, LLC, Lexington Environmental Action Project (LEAP), Los Alamos Study Group, Massachusetts Climate Action Network, Mountain Justice, Network for Environmental & Economic Responsibility, New York Loves Mountains, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Peace and Social Justice Committee of the Charleston Friends Meeting, Powder River Basin Resource Council, Rainforest Action Network, Save Our Cumberland Mountains, Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards, Student Environmental Action Coalition, Tallahassee Area Community, Inc, Ten Mile Protection Network, U.S. Climate Emergency Council, Valley Watch Inc., Western Organization of Resource Councils

    click to enlarge

    - The environmental coalition has published Transition to Green; Leading the way to a healthy environment, a green economy and a sustainable future, as a roadmap to guide the incoming administration in developing its energy and environment program.
    - The anti-coal coalition is calling for Obama administration appointees sensitive to the impacts of coal.

    The report and the call were published November 25.

    The report breaks actions down into the areas of the Washington bureaucracy where they must be taken:
    (1) The Executive Office’s (a) Council on Environmental Quality, (b) Office of Management and Budget and (c) Office of Science and Technology Policy
    (2) Department of Defense’s (a) Army Corps of Engineers and (b) Department of the Army
    (3) Department of Agriculture’s (a) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (b) Farm Service Agency (c) Forest Service (d) Natural Resources Conservation Service (e) Research, Education and Economics
    (4) Department of Education
    (5) Department of Energy
    (6) Department of Health and Human Services’ (a) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and (b) Food and Drug Administration
    (7) Department of Homeland Security
    (8) Department of the Interior’s (a) Bureau of Land Management (b) Bureau of Reclamation (c) Fish and Wildlife Service (d) Minerals Management Service (e) National Park Service (f) U.S. Geological Survey
    (9) Department of Justice
    (10) Department of State and its U.S. Agency for Int’l Development
    (11) Department of Transportation
    (12) Depatment of the Treasury
    (13) Environmental Protection Agency and its American Indian Environmental Office
    (14) National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
    The fight against coal is everywhere it is mined, from China to Appalachia.

    click to enlarge

    - The report describes itself as “Environmental Transition Recommendations for the Obama Administration.”
    - The report calls for the implementation of a cap-and-trade system with strict auctioning of emissions allowances so as to establish firm limits on emissions and force emitters to pay for New Energy and Energy Efficiency implementation.
    - The report puts a high emphasis on returning science to the basis for decision-making.
    - The report links justice, health and heritage matters with environmentalism.
    - Guiding Principles of the report:
    (1) Economic Vitality, Clean Energy, and Climate Solutions Go Hand-in-Hand
    (2) Social Justice Requires Environmental Justice
    (3) Science Should Have a Primary Role in Safeguarding Our Environment
    (4) Integrity Must Be Returned to Environmental Governance
    - Top Areas for Priority Action in the report
    (1) Clean Energy and Climate Change
    (2) The Federal Budget and Stimulus Legislation
    (3) The White House as a Leader on Clean Energy and the Environment
    (4) Putting the Right People in the Right Jobs
    - Actions suggested for the Department of Energy in the report:
    (1) Develop cost-effective Energy Efficiency
    (2) Build New Energy in an environmentally responsible way
    (3) Cut funding for Old Energy (fossil fuels and nuclear)
    - The worst of the Old Energies is coal. It is responsible for more climate change and other environmental degradation than any of the others.
    - Things the anti-coal groups want the world to know about coal:
    (1) Coal is neither cheap nor abundant.
    (2) Coal consumes and pollutes our water.
    (3) Coal kills people and the planet.
    (4) Coal poses unacceptable risks to rate payers.
    (5) Coal dependence delays the transition to efficiency and renewables.
    (6) Coal hurts our health and economy.
    (7) Coal impairs visibility at national parks.
    (8) Coal keeps poor people impoverished.
    (9) Coal causes cultural genocide.
    (10) Coal threatens our grandchildren.
    (11) Coal threatens local governance.

    click to enlarge

    - Coalition joint statement: "In November, Americans made their preference clear that the federal government has a critical role to play in unleashing homegrown, innovative energy solutions that would create new jobs, reduce global warming pollution and cut our nation's dependence on oil…We welcome this opportunity to collaborate with the transition team, and to work with President-elect Obama to move America forward and re-engage with the international community to reverse eight years of environmental neglect."
    - Shannon Anderson, Powder River Basin Resource Council: "Unfortunately for our members who live in the Powder River Basin, increased coal mining has come with significant costs to our air quality and our way of life…The mines are woefully behind on reclamation compliant with federal law and some impacts to livestock and wildlife habitat will never be reversed. We urge the Obama Administration to not just generate permits but to balance interests in a manner that will be protective of places and people in Wyoming and elsewhere."

    Wednesday, November 26, 2008


    Actions speak louder than words – except in politics. Nothing is louder than the onslaught of the chattering classes. The sheer volume of words is enough to turn any head.

    The present administration’s New Energy policy has, despite its rhetoric, emerged in a series of ineffectual programs
    (the Solar America Initiative without extending the investment tax credit), bright but unsupported policy forecasts (20% Wind By 2030 without extending the production tax credit), misguided targets with weak standards (boosting the boondoggle of corn ethanol while fighting strong vehicle mileage requirements) and foot-dragging on permitting processes (for offshore wind, ocean energies and solar power plants).

    All this went on while the Old Energies rolled in profits and critics complained that the U.S. had no national energy policy.

    In recent months, Al Gore and Boone Pickens and a wide variety of think tanks and environmental organizations have spoken out with forward-looking energy plans. Unfortunately, the net effect is somewhat confusing.

    Science and energy writer Michael Schirber pointed out that while Gore says the shift to 100% New Energy can come in 10 years, Greenpeace International sees it taking until 2090.

    Former Vice President Al Gore, Nobel Peace Prize laureate for work on global climate change, on his 10-year plan: "This goal is achievable, affordable and transformative…"

    Sven Teske, renewable energy campaign, Greenpeace International: "Al Gore can say 10 years because he is Al Gore…We can actually back up our [2090] targets."

    President-elect Obama has not made such promises or predictions. Instead, he has proposed action: "...I strongly agree with Vice President Gore that we cannot drill our way to energy independence, but must fast-track investments in renewable sources of energy like solar power, wind power and advanced biofuels, and those are the investments I will make as President…”

    The incoming President also plans to fight for a Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) requiring U.S. utilities to obtain 10% of their power from New Energy sources by 2012 and 25% by 2025.

    And the President-elect recently reiterated his commitment to work for a greenhouse gas emissions (GhGs) reductions program that will target getting the U.S. to 1990 GHG levels by 2020 and to 80% of present levels by 2050.

    In comparison to what came before, these goals are truly noble. They are neither as bold and optimistic as the Gore plan nor as universal and comprehensive as the Greenpeace plan.

    Whether the nonstop action of Obama’s coming fight for a New Energy economy will quiet the vociferous naysayers Old Energy and the screaming idealists dreaming tomorrow remains to be seen. Or heard.

    President-elect Obama: “Today we begin in earnest the work of making sure that the world we leave our children is just a little bit better than the one we inhabit today.”

    From the Gore plan, demonstrating how doable such a grand undertaking really is. (click to enlarge)

    Power of the Future: A Timeline to Energy Independence
    Michael Schirber, November 19, 2008 (LiveScience via Yahoo News)

    President-elect Barack Obama; Former Vice President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Al Gore; The European Renewable Energy Council (EREC) and Greenpeace International; Science and energy writer Michael Schirber

    From the Obama New Energy plan, the Al Gore Repower America plan, the EREC/Greenpeace Energy [R]Evolution 2008 and other public plans and policy proposals, Schirber constructed a time line for what changes might reasonably be expected to come when.

    An Energy [R]Evolution. From Greenpeace via YouTube.

    Schirber’s timeline:
    - 2009: (1) World leaders meet in Copenhagen, Denmark, to design a follow-up to the Kyoto Protocol. (2) All new homes built in Germany have renewable energy heating systems.
    - 2010: (1) 5.2% reduction in GhGs from 1990 levels is achieved by those countries that signed the Kyoto Protocol. (2) 20% of California's electricity comes from renewables. (3) Toyota releases a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle
    - 2012: The London Olympics is a low-carbon, zero-waste games.
    - 2014: No more incandescent bulbs sold in the United States, as proscribed by 2007 Energy Bill.
    - 2018: (1) 100% of U.S. electricity comes from solar, wind and other renewables (Gore's prediction). (2) $255 billion spent per year (more than four times what is currently spent) on biofuels, wind power, solar photovoltaics, and hydrogen fuel cells, according to market research firm Clean Edge. (3) $150 billion invested by this date by the U.S. government on climate-friendly energy development (Obama's plan).
    - 2020: (1) All new cars are hybrids, according to an anonymous survey of car industry executives by IBM's Institute for Business Value. (2) 35 miles per gallon is average for the U.S. fleet. (3) 20% of the European Union's energy comes from renewables. (3) 15% of China's energy comes from renewables. (4) Sweden is oil-free.
    - 2022: 36 billion gallons of biofuels sold in the United States, up from 4.7 billion gallons in 2007.
    - 2025: 25% of U.S. electricity comes from renewables (Obama's plan).
    - 2030: (1) 50% increase in world energy demand from 2005 levels, according to U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). (2) All new federal buildings are carbon-neutral, as stated in 2007 Energy Act. (3) 70% of Hawaii's energy comes from renewables, thanks in part to a ban on new coal plants. (4) One-fifth of U.S. power comes from wind, the DOE predicts. (5) One-fourth of U.S. workers wear a green collar, according to the American Solar Energy Society. (6) 20 million new jobs created by renewable industry, says United Nations report.
    - 2050: 50% of the world's energy comes from renewables, claims the Energy [R]Evolution Report.
    2090: 100% of the world's energy comes from renewables, claims the Energy [R]evolution Report

    The Gore and Obama plans apply to the U.S. while Energy [R]Evolution applies to the world.

    - The Obama-Biden New Energy for America plan:
    - 5 million new jobs by $150 billion “strategically” invested over 10 years in building New Energy and Energy Efficiency.
    - Cut oil imports from the Middle East and Venezuela in 10 years.
    - Put 1 million Plug-In hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) on the road by 2015.
    - 10% RES by 2012, 25% by 2025.
    - Cap-and-trade to cut GhGs 80% by 2050.
    - Crack down onf excessive energy speculation anmd use oil from the SPR.
    - Up Fuel Economy Standards.
    - $7,000 Tax Credit for advanced fuel vehicle purchases.
    - A national Low Carbon Fuel Standard.
    - “Use it or Lose It” on oil and gas leases and promote responsible domestic production.
    - Weatherize 1 million homes/year.
    - Develop and deploy “clean” coal.
    - Prioritize the Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline.
    - Repower America is a 10-year program.
    - Nuclear and conventional hydropower generation remain constant, providing 23% of the 2020 projected demand.
    - National policies and programs take 28% off the 2020 projected demand.
    - Baseload geothermal power grows to 20-to-25 gigawatts, about 3%-4% of the projected demand.
    - Solar power plants with 8-hour storage capabilities meet 10%-to-13% of the projected demand (110-to-180 gigawatts).
    - Wind grows to 315-to-400 gigawatts, providing 23%-to-27% of the projected demand. This would be 125,000-to-200,000 2-to-2.5 megawatt turbines on-shore and off-shore. 300,000 airplanes were built in the US during WWII.
    - Solar PV projects will provide 3%-to-6% of the projected demand.
    - A few pilot CCS projects (85% emissions-free) could provide 20 gigawatts, 4% of the necessary generation.
    - Biomass and hydrokinetic (wave, current, and tide) energies may play a part.
    - Extensive new transmission and “smart” transmission will be necessary.

    From the Greenpeace/EREC plan. (click to enlarge)

    - Energy [R]Evolution 2008 sees the world entirely fueled by New Energy (solar, wind, hydrokinetic, biogas, etc.) by 2090.
    - The 210-page report’s publishing groups see climate change as the crucial factor driving the transition.
    - The report looks in detail at how energy use would have to be changed to meet the IPCC’s call for greenhouse gas emissions reductions.
    - The EREC/Greenpeace plan would cut emissions enough to prevent a temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) from the pre-Industrial Revolution norm.
    Measures called for:
    (1) A phase-out of subsidies for fossil fuels and nuclear energy;
    (2) International "cap and trade" systems for greenhouse gas emissions;
    (3) Legally binding international targets for New Energy capacities;
    (4) Rigorous international efficiency standards for buildings and vehicles.
    - The International Energy Agency (IEA) foresees New Energy investments of just $11.3 trillion to 2030 and expects the world to remain dependent on fossil fuels and nuclear power through mid-century.

    He promised it in the campaign, he promised the same thing last week and he continues to talk about it as an integral part of his economic recovery program. It’s pretty clear he’s going to do it. From BarackObamaDotCom via YouTube.

    - Sven Teske, renewable energy campaign, Greenpeace International: "We hope we have some positive influence in making it easier for politicians to agree on tough emission reductions…"
    - From Energy [R]Evolution 2008: "Renewable energy could provide all global energy needs by 2090…"
    - Rajendra Pachauri, head, IPCC: "[The study is] comprehensive and rigorous…Even those who may not agree with the analysis presented would, perhaps, benefit from a deep study of the underlying assumptions…"
    - Dr. James Hansen, Director, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, on the Gore plan: "This is just what the doctor ordered -- to cure our carbon addiction and stimulate the economy. It would be the turning point that is needed to lead the world to a stable climate."
    - Senator John McCain (R-Ariz), on the Gore plan: "If the vice president says it's doable, I believe it's doable…I agree with his goal. I may disagree with all the ways of getting there…I do believe that his goals and his priorities and the visibility that he's given the issue has been good for America and the world."


    One of the things that draws people to the study and development of New Energy is an intuition about a future that is becoming every day more palpable. In an assessment of the progress made by hydrokinetic (wave, tide and current) energy, a pioneer in the field described that intuition.

    Tom Denniss, founder/former CEO/now Chief Technology Officer and Executive Director, Oceanlinx: “At some point in the future, all energy consumed on the earth will be derived from renewable sources. The timeframe for this fundamental move from fossil to sustainable fuels is debatable, but the end result is not.”

    It probably isn't necessary to explain why Denniss is right but here are his reasons: (1) Climate change, and (2) the using up of non-renewable energy resources (oil, gas, coal and uranium for nuclear energy).

    According to Denniss, wave energy potential capacity is 30 terawatts, twice the current world energy consumption.

    Denniss pointed out how varied the state of hydrokinetic energy devices is in terms of power off-take, mooring and basic operation: “No two devices seem to look the same. Indeed, some are as different as a hairdryer is from a lawn mower.”

    The single consistent fact of hydrokinetic devices is the maximum capacity limit of 1 megawatt, due to the physics of waves.

    Wind energy saw a convergence from various technologies to the three-bladed, horizontal-axis turbine. Hydrokinetic energy may never have such convergence because of fundamental differences in the resources at varying locations and under varying conditions.

    Tide energy potential capacity is estimated at 1/10th of wave potential. That is 20% of current human consumption – certainly worth making the effort to harvest. Tide energy is consistent and predictable and therefore an important adjunct to intermittent New Energies like wind and sun.

    There are 2 kinds of tide technologies, barrage and stream. There are projects just getting started and in planning. The technologies remain unproven and have limited acceptance. Technical issues remain.

    For both wave and tide hydrokinetic energies, the still-distant goal is the same: Grid parity.

    Grid parity is the price point at which any New Energy-generated electricity can be produced at a competitive price with the traditional energy sources (fossil fuels and nuclear) now used to generated the bulk of the world’s electricity.

    Presently, given the right circumstances, building wind installations, solar power plants and geothermal power plants is price competitive with the building of traditional power.

    Hydrokinetic energy is at a crossroads: Some technologies will achieve higher levels of productivity and develop economies of scale that will move them toward grid parity.

    Denniss, Oceanlinx: “The survival or demise of a technology is a tenuous thing. For any new technology with potential, it is vital that funding does not dry up at the critical time when lessons have been learned and mistakes corrected…A few wave and tidal technologies are on the cusp of reaching this fork in the road to commercialisation or demise. Once the former is attained, the road will quickly become a highway.”

    click to enlarge

    Ocean power reaching a fork in the road
    Tom Denniss, October 2008 (Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering via Science Alert, Australia & New Zealand)

    Tom Denniss, founder/former CEO/now Chief Technology Officer and Executive Director, Several wave energy companies near commercial production (Oceanlinx; Pelamis, Wavedragon, OPT, Oceanlinx, CETO, BioWave); Some tide energy companies near commercial production (Marine Current Turbines (MCT), Verdant)

    Hydrokinetic energy is at a crossroads. Some technologies will emerge as price competitive; some will fail.

    click to enlarge

    - Denniss founded Oceanlinx in 1997.
    - The life expectancy of oil is estimated to be decades. For coal, it is a few centuries.
    - Tide energy technologies have been in commercial existence for many decades but there continues to be no technology convergence.
    - Convergence of wave energy technologies may (or may not) occur over time.
    - Barrage systems have been used to capture tide energy for centuries.
    - Tide stream technologies are new and have never been used commercially.

    - Most companies at or near commercial scale hydrokinetic energy production are in Europe and North America (Pelamis, Wavedragon, OPT). 3 are in Australia (Oceanlinx, CETO, BioWave).
    - A tidal barrage has worked at Mont Saint-Michel, France, for years. A larger one was planned for the Kimberley region of Western Australia but cancelled due to concerns for the intertidal zone.
    - Some companies have operating tide projects in the Northern Hemisphere (Marine Current Turbines (MCT), Verdant) but there are none in Australia.

    - Denniss invented the core technology commercialised by Oceanlinx
    - A shift to 100% New Energy will come because of 2 reasons, climate change and the use of non-renewable reserves.
    - The estimated wave energy potential capacity of 30 terawatts is twice the world’s current power usage.
    - Hydrokinetic energy devices range from pneumatic to hydraulic, fixed to floating and buoyancy to pressure to gravity.
    - Maximum output is 1 megawatt, limited by the physical constraints of the waves’ period and length, and the need to avoid the destructive interference of the waves with one another.
    - Scale-up to greater capacities is done by adding more devices to a wave installation.
    - There are 2 types of tide energy devices, barrage and stream.
    (1) Barrage: The in-flowing tide fills a basin that is prevented from emptying with the out-flowing tide by a barrage which is opened to create an out-flow that turns a turbine to generate electricity. At low tide, the process reverses.
    (2) Stream: Uses underwater turbine technology.
    - Some wave and tide technologies are on the verge of achieving prodeuction capacities that will make them price competitive.

    click to enlarge

    - Denniss, founder/former CEO/now Chief Technology Officer and Executive Director, Oceanlinx: “Perhaps the most underexplored, and certainly the most under-utilised, is that of ocean energy.”
    - Denniss, Oceanlinx: “A new industry, such as marine energy, will initially attract interest, followed by funding, followed by experience. The experience inevitably includes some failures, which tends to dampen the initial enthusiasm…[that] can result in a potential funding gap at a crucial stage in the technology’s technical and commercial development. For those technologies that can bridge this gap, the road to success becomes much smoother. Those that cannot bridge the gap will disappear…”


    The Cities by the Bay have developed ambitions to become the Cities by the Battery.

    The battery of an electric vehicle (EV).

    San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose, California, have all signed on with
    Better Place to develop a regional EV transport system. The system will be based on the model now being planned for Israel. It will be tested in Denmark and Australia by the time it gets going in the cities by the San Francisco Bay.

    The Silicon Valley-infatuated Bay Area is fascinated by the Silicon Valley-spawned
    Better Place business model.

    Better Place founder/CEO Shai Agassi, who made his money in Silicon Valey IT ventures during the go-go 90s, proposes to make EVs available as inexpensively as possible and generate revenue through monthly mileage subscriptions. The idea comes from the way cell phones are marketed.

    Better Place believes the plan will make battery-powered vehicles available to a wider spectrum of drivers, expanding the customer base.

    EVs, it has been thought, do not appeal to U.S. drivers because of the limited range the cars can go on a battery charge and the lengthy recharge time required. Better Place believes it has overcome these objections. It begins with the fact that the average daily commute is 16 miles and about 80% of all car trips are 40 miles or less.

    Better Place plans to (1) use lithium-ion batteries with a 100-mile range, (2) have charging stations conveniently located so vehicles can be readily recharged whenever and wherever they arrive, and (3) operate automated, fast-switch, battery-changing stations no more than 100 miles apart for journeys beyond the battery’s limit.

    Nissan and Renault are expected to continue collaborating with Better Place to supply the EVs and batteries.

    By the time the Better Place plan is in place in the Bay Area, it will likely be competing with plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) from several of the major automakers.

    One way or another, a shift to battery-driven vehicles is coming. Simultaneous with the Better Place announcement, Global Venture Lab at the University of California, Berkeley, released
    a series of technical briefs describing the economic feasilbility and benefits of battery-driven vehicles.

    From Global Venture Lab’s
    Economic Impact of Electric Vehicle Adoption in the United States: “…this change will cause some domestic industries (e.g. gasoline) to shrink, while causing others (e.g. electricity production) to grow. We estimate the petroleum industry will suffer a $174.9 billion decline, while the battery industry will experience $120.3 billion gain at 39% adoption (year 2030). There will also be significant changes in the balance of payments among nations as petroleum imports decline. We find the net imports of the US will decline by $20 Billion at 39% adoption. Additionally, we find EVs to be the more efficient technology, as the total cost of ownership is $7,203 (2008 dollars) less than that of an ICE vehicle. Together with the reduction in imports, consumers will benefit from savings due to the reduced energy and maintenance costs of EVs, which will reach $80 billion (in 2008 dollars) by 2030.”

    When something makes dollars and sense, it usually happens sooner or later.

    Footnote: The San Francisco Chronicle endorsed the Better Place concept but raised an interesting concern, the potential monopolistic power Better Place might eventually wield: “With one firm controlling the charging stations, there needs to [be a] fair way to determine how much drivers will pay for the service…”

    The Chronicle also pointed out that the current financial crisis might not be the best time to try to initiate such a transportation transformation. Better Place says it has its financing in place and development will make a big contribution to economic recovery.

    Finally: The adaptability of Bay Area residents and commuters to organized transportation was demonstrated by their quick adoption of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) subway system.

    Better Place: The car and the concept. From Imaguration via YouTube.

    Bay Area seeks to become electric car capital
    Eoin O’Carroll, November 24, 2008 (Christian Science Monitor)

    Better Place (Shai Agassi, founder/CEO); San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom; San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed; Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums; Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif); California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger

    Official announcement was made of the long-rumored partnership between the cites of the San Francisco Bay Area and electric vehicle (EV) innovator Better Place. Technical briefs from a Bay Area think tank suggest the shift to EVs is entirely feasible.

    click to enlarge

    - The announced plans call for the installation of ~ 250,000 charging ports and up to 200 battery-exchange stations in the region by 2012.
    - Better Place was founded in 2007. It will initiate a similar programs in other countries in 2010 and 2011.

    - San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose are clustered around San Francisco Bay in an extended megaloplis.
    - Better Place is based in Palo Alto, Calif., just south of the Bay Area and adjacent to Silicon Valley.
    - Better Place has already begun developing EV networks in Israel, Denmark, and Australia.

    - The Bay Area network of charging and batttery-exchange stations is expected to cost $1 billion network.
    - Better Place battery capacity is a 100-mile range.
    - Typical U.S. work commute is 16 miles.
    - About 80% of all vehicle trips are less than 40 miles roundtrip.
    - Better Place proposes placing 1000s of recharging stations conveniently for use by commuters and 100-to-200 automated, rapid battery-swap stations at 100 mile distances for longer trips.
    - Previous Better Place projects in Israel and Denmark involved partnerships with Nissan and Renault for the vehicles and the batteries.
    - Founder/CEO Agassi has raised $200 million in venture capital for initial funding and expects to raise another $800 million over the next 3 years from backers Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, and the Macquarie Capital Alliance Group.
    - San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose will not be involved in funding but will offer incentives and expedite permits for building charging stations in homes, businesses, and public parking spaces. They will also develop programs for state- and municipal-government EV fleets.
    - A federal incentive of up to $7,500 for EV purchasers is expected to help.

    Project Better Place’s campaign to stop pumping oil and plug in. From Odziz via YouTube.

    - San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom: “Our aim is to make the Bay Area – and eventually California – the electric vehicle capital of the US…”
    - California Governor Schwarzenegger: “This type of public-private partnership is exactly what I envisioned when we created the first ever low-carbon fuel standard and when the state enacted the zero-emissions vehicle program…This partnership is proof that by working together, we can achieve our goals of creating a healthier planet while boosting our economy at the same time.”
    - Alex Steffen, environmentalist and futurist: “[This is] precisely this kind of an investment in the infrastructure that’s needed to really get innovation and uptake rolling…[W]hen I read one billion for this project, I thought about the roughly one trillion or so we’re expected to dump into economic stabilization and recovery programs, all told, and wondered if even half of that went into new bright green infrastructure, what we might accomplish…”
    - ABC News Poll: “[Commuters] report an average one-way commute time of 26 minutes (over an average distance of 16 miles)…”

    Tuesday, November 25, 2008


    Congressman Henry Waxman’s (D-Calif) wresting of the power-loaded House Commerce and Energy Committee Chairmanship from Congressman John Dingell (D-Mich) underscores the profundity of the changing of the guard in the D.C. halls of power.

    The Energy and Commerce Committee controls a wide spectrum of issues, from consumer protection and regulation of energy resources to global warming, conservation, health and auto emissions. It's Chair chooses the issues and bills that go to the House floor for debate and voting.

    Dingell, a Congressman since replacing his father in the House in 1955 and Democratic leader of the Energy and Commerce committee for 12 years, is a member of the Old Guard, strongly influenced by the Detroit auto industry whose workers are his constituents and whose owners are his funders.

    Waxman and many others contend Dingell’s defense of Detroit blocked auto safety, mileage and emissions standards and contributed to the companies’ present precarious position.

    Dingell was once thought a progressive for his positions on civil rights and national health care. His national health care proposal, however, was drafted half-a-century ago and differs from the Obama-backed plan.

    Waxman, a liberal activist from California, has close ties to the incoming administration. Philip Schiliro, Waxman’s chief of staff, was recentlty appointed the new White House director of Congressional relations.

    Unnamed aide to a Waxman supporter: “That’s a direct line to the White House…Don’t underestimate that.”

    The decisive votes for Waxman came from the rising new House power base, the large and powerful California delegation and the most recently-elected of the Democratic members of the House.

    Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) was officially neutral in the power struggle between Waxman and Dingell but led a standing ovation for Waxman’s speech to the Democratic caucus preceding the vote to decide the Chairmanship.

    In this amazing 3 minutes, Chairman Waxman passionately goes after the stonewalling Bush EPA head. Republican Rep. Issa tries to protect President Bush’s man. Chairman Waxman wants the EPA head to answer and threatens to throw Issa out of the room for blocking questioning. From Veracifier via YouTube.

    Behind House Struggle, Long and Tangled Roots
    John M. Broder and Carl Hulse, November 22, 2008 (NY Times)
    House panel backs Waxman as energy chairman
    Thomas Ferraro and Deborah Zabarenko (w/Cynthia Osterman), November 19, 2008 (Reuters via Yahoo News)

    Congressman Henry Waxman’s (D-Calif); Congressman John Dingell (D-Mich); Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-Md), House Whip; Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif); President-elect Barack Obama

    By a vote of 137 to 122, the House of Representatives’ Democratic Caucus chose Waxman to replace Dingell as Chairman of the House Commerce and Energy Committee.

    The House Energy and Commerce Committee controls a lot of turf. (click to enlarge)

    - The vote came November 21.
    - Congressmen Dingell and Waxman refused Congressman Hoyer’s compromise offer to hold the Chairmanship for 2 more years and voluntarily hand over the gavel.
    - Dingell has been the ranking Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee for 28 years.

    The change profoundly influences President-elect Obama’s ability to put his New Energy agenda before Congress uncompromised.

    - Waxman has fought Dingell over auto standards since the 1980s.
    - Dingell’s support came from moderate Democrats, conservative Blue Dogs, much of the Black Caucus and representatives of districts with auto-dependent constituencies.
    - Waxman’s campaign for the gavel was widely seen as more aggressive and better organized than Dingell’s effort to retain it.
    - Officially neutral, both Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) gave signals interpreted as support for Waxman.
    - Ms. Pelosi contributed to the 2002 campaign of a Dingell opponent in Michigan.
    - Dingell based his candidacy on his seniority and on his strong civil rights record in the 1960s.
    - Waxman argued that the Obama election was a call for change.
    - After the vote, Pelosi called Dingell with conciliatory offers but her call was not returned.

    Based on this historical graphic from the NY Times, the President-elect is making good progress at assembling his team. (click to enlarge)

    - Representative Mike Doyle (D- Penn), Rust Belt Democrat: “One member who voted against him told me if Dingell had said, ‘Give me two years, and I will happily hand the gavel to Henry Waxman,’ he probably would have won…You bumped into a lot of freshmen who said Mr. Waxman was very good to them…The freshman and sophomore class didn’t know John or had never served with him. It’s a sad ending for someone who’s given so much of his life to the Democratic Party, the Congress and the country. He deserved better.”
    - Congressman Bruce Braley (D- Iowa), a Waxman supporter: “I certainly did what I could to let them know that here was a clear choice…”


    Conste-Live Energy runs the cemetery in Santa Coloma de Gramenet, a Barcelona, Spain, suburb. It is also in the New Energy business.

    Conste-Live Energy wanted to build solar. The problem: Though Santa Coloma likes solar energy, it is densely populated. Santa Coloma is home to 124,000 people in 4 square kilometers (1.5 square miles).

    In a town where flat open space is too valuable to waste, the cemetery’s mausoleum rooftop seemed to Conste-Live Energy like an obvious site for solar panels.

    Not everybody in Santa Coloma liked the idea. It took 3 years to get full approval.

    Antoni Fogue, city council member, Santa Coloma: "Let's say we heard things like, 'they're crazy. Who do they think they are? What a lack of respect!' "

    A public awareness campaign and promises to do the installation respectfully finally won out. Proving, once again, the inevitability of New Energy.

    Not to mention its likely immortality.

    Esteve Serret, director, Conste-Live Energy: "The best tribute we can pay to our ancestors, whatever your religion may be, is to generate clean energy for new generations. That is our leitmotif…"

    Santa Coloma has 4 other rooftop solar installations but the one on the mausoleum roof, because of the available south-facing space, is by far the biggest.

    A view of the mausoleum and the panels. (click to enlarge)

    Solar panels on graves give power to Spanish town
    Daniel Woolls, November 23, 2008 (AP)
    Spain sets up solar cemetery
    24 November 2008 (BBC News)

    Conste-Live Energy (Esteve Serret, director); Santa Coloma City Council (Antoni Fogue, member)

    A cemetery in Spain has placed solar panels atop its mausoleum.

    A view of the mausoleum and the panels. (click to enlarge)

    The cemetery’s solar system went online November 19 after a 3-year development and installation process.

    - Santa Coloma de Gramenet is a working-class suburb of Barcelona, Spain.
    - The mausoleum offered the especially productive opportunity to face the panels southward. (But they were kept at a low angle to limit the visual intrusiveness of the installation.)
    - Cemeteries in Spain have solar panels on office building roofs but this is probably the 1st mausoleum installation.

    - The cemetery holds the remains of ~ 57,000 people.
    - Flat, open, sunny space is rare in Santa Coloma, making the mausoleum one of the few viable spots for the town’s solar energy program.
    - The 462 solar panels cover less than 5% of the surface area but transform the mausoleum’s 5 layers of coffins and rows of fake flowers from “a place of perpetual rest into one buzzing” with New Energy.
    - The panels cost 720,000 euros ($900,000) to install and cut 62 tons/year of greenhouse gas emissions.
    - The town’s goal is to build enough solar to triple its capacity

    click to enlarge

    Antoni Fogue, city council member, Santa Coloma: "There has not been any problem whatsoever because people who go to the cemetery see that nothing has changed…This installation is compatible with respect for the deceased and for the families of the deceased."


    The Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) is 1 of 4 federal agencies created to manage the power created by the hydroelectric projects built by the federal government.

    WAPA has obligations to supply power to a wide range of electricity users. Drought on the Missouri River, now 8 years in duration, has begun to compromise WAPA’s ability to fulfill those obligations. For the first time in its history, WAPA is turning AWAY from coal and TO wind for power.

    It is a "precedent setting" way for WAPA to meet its customers’ demands and, more importantly, it is yet another signal of wind power’s coming of age.

    Water constraints will, going forward, have a greater and greater impact on how electricity is generated. Planners have already begun to realize that they cannot count on having the enormous supplies of water required by nuclear and coal plants. They have begun to notice that the constraint on water supplies is yet another reason wind and solar energies will be more cost competitive in the foreseeable future.

    click to enlarge

    WAPA buying wind power from Basin
    Blake Nicholson, November 20, 2008 (AP via Chicago Tribune)

    The Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) (Carolyn Hinkley, spokeswoman); Basin Electric Power Cooperative; the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

    WAPA has completed a deal to buy up to 50 megawatts of wind power annually from Basin Electric.

    click to enlarge

    - The deal between WAPA and Basin Electric runs from 2010 through 2012.
    - July 2008: Droughts, ongoing for 8 years, caused hydroelectric power plants on the Missouri River to produce at record low capacities.
    - 2008: Total Missouri River hydroelectric output is expected to be 5 billion kilowatt hours, half the normal amount.

    - WAPA sells power obtained from 6 plants on the Missouri River in 15 central and western states.
    - Basin Electric wind energy-generated electricity will be used to supplement electricity for WAPA Upper Great Plains customers in North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Minnesota, Iowa and part of Nebraska.
    - Basin Electric Power Cooperative is based in Bismarck, ND.

    - Financial details of the power purchase agreement were not released.
    - WAPA has traditionally distributed hydroelectric power generated by Missouri River dams.
    - Basin Electric works with WAPA to supply 126 member rural electric systems in nine states, which in turn distribute electricity to about 2.6 million consumers.
    - Most of Basin's electric supply is generated by coal but it also owns two wind capacity in South Dakota and buys the output of FPL Energy LLC wind farms in North and South Dakota.
    - Basin is in the process of expanding its wind power holdings to 300 megawatts.
    - WAPA is considering a 15-year wind purchase agreement with Basin Electric.
    - WAPA power purchasers: Cities, rural electric co-ops, American Indian tribes, federal and state agencies, and other nonprofit providers.
    - WAPA is 1 of 4 regional power marketing administrations (WAPA, BPA, SWPA and SEPA) within the U.S. Department of Energy.

    click to enlarge

    - Daryl Hill, spokesman, Basin Electric: "There's lots of wind going on in our neck of the woods…"
    - Jody Sundsted, power market manager, WAPA Upper Great Plains: "Our greatest challenge is to purchase replacement energy at the least cost to our customers and also minimize our exposure to short-term market risks…"
    - Wayne Backman, senior vice president of generation, Basin Electric: "Basin Electric and Western have a long history of working together…The contract to provide Western with wind energy ... continues that long-term good working relationship."

    Monday, November 24, 2008


    Time Magazine couldn’t ask a more timely question: Is Obama’s Energy Plan Enough?

    It even kicks off with a beautiful thought: “With the possible exception of Barack Obama's puppy-anticipating daughters, no one is more eagerly awaiting the incoming Administration than the leaders of the renewable-energy industries.”

    Wisely, it leaves the puppy-love in the lead paragraph. After a brief description of the Obama New Energy plan ($150 billion investment in New Energy and Energy Efficiency to create 5 million New Energy jobs) and his unequivocal reaffirmation of the plan at last week’s
    Governors’ Summit on Climate Change, Time lowers the boom:

    “The problem is, it won't be enough.”

    After quoting a UC professor’s urgent observation that it will take big money and foresight to avoid the economic devastation and other worst effects of energy shortages and climate change, Time asks: “Do Obama — and other world leaders — possess that foresight?”

    NewEnergyNews has the answer: Maybe.

    Not very reassuring, is it?

    Time’s essay is attention-grabbing, designed to create controversy. The truth is, multiple reports in the last year have assessed the costs and benefits of developing 21st century energy resources and infrastructure and fighting climate change. The numbers (from
    the International Energy Agency (IEA), the University of California, GE Financial Services, the Apollo Alliance, the U.S. Mayors Conference and the Center for American Progress) agree only in their broad outlines: It will cost a lot, generate benefits and take time.

    The fact of the matter: Nobody knows for sure how much it will cost or how long it will take to move to a New Energy economy.

    As Time describes, a legitimate set of steps was recently outlined by the leaders of the New Energy industries (the American Wind Energy Association, the Geothermal Energy Association, the National Hydropower Association and the Solar Energy Industries Association).
    (See NEW ENERGY WILL LEAD RECOVERY) The New Energy leaders did not specify an ultimate amount of investment necessary but were clear about how money should be used.

    The leaders want an immediate adjustment of the 2.1 cents/kilowatt-hour production tax credit (PTC) approved by Congress and the President October 3 as part of the stimulus package. Without any profits earned, investors are no longer in need of tax credits. (No profits, no taxes.) What investors need is capital. That's why the New Energy leaders now want their tax credits in the form of cash “refunds.”

    Beyond that urgent matter, but still in the short-term, New Energy leaders want the PTC to be extended beyond its current December 31, 2009, deadline to 5 years, providing New Energy in the U.S. with a stability it has never known.

    The leaders also want President-elect Obama to invest $30 billion of his promised $150 in New Energy projects in 2009, as a way of getting the New Energy industries and the economic recovery started forward in a big way.

    Over the next 8-to-10 years, New Energy wants 2 big-ticket items: (1) A Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) – like the RESs now in force in more than half the individual states – that requires all U.S. utilities to obtain 10% of their electricity from New Energy sources by 2012 and 25% by 2025, and (2) a modern national electricity transmission system, equipped with “smart” technology capability, spanning the country with high voltage wires from the remote regions where New Energy is produced to population centers where it is consumed.

    Time’s essay makes a great observation about the necessity of the (costly) new transmission: “…[P]umping money into the renewable-energy sector while neglecting the antique electrical grid is like building a fleet of cars without laying down roads…”

    Beyond 2025, New Energy wants an aggressive system for pricing greenhouse gas emissions (GhGs) in the form of either a tax (the better choice though politically unlikely) or a cap-and-trade system (a market-based system that caps all emissions and auctions emissions “allowances” for excesses, making it cheaper to reduce emissions than generate them). Revenues will be generated by either system. These revenues can be invested in building New Energy infrastructure and in easing the burden on the economy’s have-nots.

    Sound expensive? It will certainly be.

    Time’s chosen estimate is $1 trillion/year for all energy investments. It will cost more, according to Time, to build New Energy faster. It will cost more, still, to cut GhGs enough to keep global average temperature rise below the 2 degree centigrade level urged by the IPCC. Time puts the price at an additional $9.3 trillion.

    As the essay says, many of the studies – including those cited – say the changes (building New Energy infrastructure, instituting Energy Efficiency upgrades and the other items on New Energy’s wish list) pay for themselves with new jobs, revenue production, energy savings and environmental and health benefits.

    Mustering the political skills and long term investment strategies to face the undertaking is a truly daunting challenge. That’s why Time’s question – “Is Obama’s Energy Plan Enough?” – is the wrong question.

    Better questions: Is the U.S electorate smart enough to give the leader they’ve chosen the time and money he needs to face the challenge? Will it stick with him while he tries the best ideas, improves on the ones that seem to work and rejects the ones that don’t?

    The best question: To paraphrase Time, are the skills that got this smart young man elected enough to sustain him through the coming “interesting” year?

    From ChangeDotGov via YouTube.

    Is Obama’s Energy Plan Enough?
    Bryan Walsh, November 22, 2008 (Time Magazine)

    President-elect Barack Obama; California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger; International Energy Agency (IEA); American Wind Energy Association (Randall Swisher, Executive Director); Geothermal Energy Association (Karl Gawell, Executive Director); National Hydropower Association (Linda Church Ciocci, Executive Director); Solar Energy Industries Association (Rhone Resch, President); Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

    Will the Obama energy plan be enough and can the new administration lead the change?

    This GE Financial Services study showed conclusively that New Energy investments generate more than enough revenues to pay themselves. (click to enlarge)

    - November 14: New Energy leaders spoke out on their plan: Immediate refundability for the PTC, extension of the PTC for 5 years, investment of $30 billion in New Energy projects in 2009, a national RES with 2012 and 2025 goals, new, high voltage and “smart” transmission in the next 10 years and a cap-and-trade system by 2025.
    - November 18: At Governor Schwarzenegger's climate summit, Obama reaffirmed his commitment to a New Energy economy and to the fight against global climate change with a cap-and-trade system.

    The energy plans discussed are for the entire U.S., though predictions regarding climate change consequences pertain to the world and except for the UC report pertaining to California.

    click to enlarge

    - Obama’s plan: $150 billion over the next 10 years to create 5 million new jobs.
    - The IEA’s annual World Energy Outlook projects that global energy demand will increase by 45% between 2006 and 2030 at a cost of $26 trillion. The IEA report also predicts a rising oil demand there does not appear to be supply to meet.
    - A UC Berkeley study predicts that unchecked global climate change could cost California alone up to $50 billion/year.
    - Tax credits are not useful if businesses are not making profits and therefore do not have taxes to offset with credits.
    - The nation will not be able to meet its energy needs over the next quarter century, will not be able to integrate New Energy supplies and will not be able to institute efficiency measures requiring “smart” grid technologies without new transmission.
    - A North American Electric Reliability Corporation report predicts brownouts and blackouts without new transmission.

    click to enlarge

    - Linda Church Ciocci, Eecutive Director, National Hydropower Association: "This is a crucial step forward…"
    - David Roland-Holst, professor of economics at UC Berkeley: "We have to have the foresight to avoid this crash…"
    - Randall Swisher, Executive Director, American Wind Energy Association: "[The grid] is the single largest long-term issue facing wind and other renewables…We can't solve the climate challenge without the green electricity superhighways that we are calling for."
    - Nabuo Tanaka, head, IEA: "We would need concerted action from all major emitters…"
    Roland-Holst, UC Berkeley: "It's like guiding a supertanker to avoid a distant collision…"